Category Archives: Theology

Gender, Mormonism, and Transsexuality

The declaration that “gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose” is presumably attempted to rebut the second-wave feminist articulation of the sex/gender dichotomy which sees sex as natural and gender as culturally/socially constructed, and therefore malleable. While it is perhaps unclear that “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” is theoretically sophisticated enough to be aware of the sex/gender distinction that emerged in the 1970’s starting with the work of Kate Millett, Sexual Politics (1970), it is nevertheless situated in a historical moment in which these terms escape easy definition. Indeed, the definition of such terms is in fact the most contested element of feminist theory, and the failure to articulate any precise definition opens the text up to multiple interpretations.
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Filed under Family, Feminism, Sexuality, Theology

Creation in Genesis 1-3 (Part 4–The Heavenly Council)

Genesis 1.26-27 (NRSV) reads:

“Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.’ So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”

When God proposes here in the plural to create man in his image, with whom is he talking? And with whom is God discussing when he says in later Genesis 3.22 (NRSV),”Then the Lord God said, ‘See, the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever’”?

As biblical scholars such as Marc Brettler, Michael Coogan, and John Day have persuasively argued, this is yet another reference to the divine council in the Hebrew Bible. Continue reading

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King Benjamin Killed God

Jesus set up an impossible paradox when he explained that the two great commandments are to love God and to love one’s neighbor (though he was not the first to summarize the Law in such a way). The problem is that one simply cannot do both, as Jesus himself elsewhere noted that one cannot serve two masters.

King Benjamin saw the impossible tension between these two contradictory commandments and attempted to resolve it by collapsing them into one single ethical imperative. He said: “when ye are the in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God” (Mos 2:17). The attempt to equate the love of God and the love of neighbor as simply one ethical imperative elides the problem of having two competing duties. The problem (or promise, depending on your perspective) with such a position is that the duty to love God cannot possibly come into conflict with the duty to love one’s neighbor.
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Filed under Bible, Book of Mormon, Metaphysics, Theology

“Listen, O Israel, Yahweh is our God, Yahweh is one.” Does the Bible Teach Radical Monotheism?

Deuteronomy 6.4-9, also known as the Shema because the first word of the passage in Hebrew is the imperative shĕma‘, meaning “Listen,” is probably one of the most well known passages in all of biblical literature. In Jewish tradition this passage is frequently recited as a prayer, a practice that goes back at least to the early rabbinic period [1]. The broader Judeo-Christian tradition, moreover, has often taken the first verse of this passage as a statement of Israel’s (and its own) radical monotheistic faith. This verse reads: “Listen, O Israel, Yahweh is our God, Yahweh is one.” However, this common Judeo-Christian interpretation which claims that Israel maintained a radical monotheistic stance, or a belief that there is only one G/god in existence (in this case, Yahweh, the God of Israel), has been subject to severe criticism by modern biblical scholars.

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Creation in Genesis 1-3 (Part 2b–Literary Analysis)

In the last segment I discussed where certain literary and narrative divisions exist in Genesis 1-3. For instance, I previously noted that the narrative section which begins in Genesis 1.1 most likely ends at Genesis 2.4a. Additionally, I noted one crucial literary feature of this first creation account, namely that it is broken into seven one-day intervals (i.e., a one week period). Furthermore, I briefly noted that there is a further significant literary division between days one through six which describe God’s physical creative activities (each of which ends with the formulaic phrase “(And) there was evening and there was morning, day…”) and the seventh (and final) day which is the pinnacle of the account and which describes God’s sanctifying the seventh day. Having noted these literary markers and narrative boundaries, I shall now further explore other literary devices which structure the first creation account’s six creative days, and analyze their implications concerning Israelite beliefs about creation.

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Creation in Genesis 1-3 (Part 1-Introduction and Temporal Clause)

In this series of posts I intend to look at ancient Israelite concepts concerning creation by exploring two important biblical creation texts—Genesis 1.1-2.4a and Genesis 2.4b-3. Continue reading

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The Piety of Errant Scriptures

The errancy/innerrancy debate in biblical theology is often framed in terms of levels of “belief” in the Bible. The errancy position holds that the Bible is not a perfect document that represents the direct word of God in every minor (and even some major) instance. It admits human involvement in the production and transmission of the text. In inerrancy position holds that the Bible is the perfect word of God. Though there are many different subtlties in the various versions of these two positions, they actually rest on the same set of assumptions.
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Filed under Bible, Doctrine, Studying Religion, Theology