[Edited Nov. 19, 2009]
Early this morning I stumbled upon an interesting thread on the Mormon Apologetics Forum, which had the subject for the day, yours truly. The discussion centered around the use of the early Church Fathers, as a result from the "dialogue" with Kerry Shirts and a few other amateur Mormon apologists. To most Mormons, Kerry Shirts is known as the Backyard Professor, though he holds no degrees whatsoever in theology, archaeology, but holds a B.S in history. Like his fellows, he resorts to incredible ad hominem when backed into a corner with the facts, as is explicitly evident in the discussion thread Early Christian use of Psalm 82 proving Mankind is divine, even gods. The title says it all, so naturally I protested. In my first post I specifically said,
I can't believe so many Mormons quote the Backyard Professor when clearly he, much like James Talmage, has absolutely no experience in biblical exegesis and textual criticism. Not to mention the distorted presentation of church history. First, the Western and Eastern Church knew and continues to this day to proclaim that Christian Mankind is divine, because he has chosen Christ as his Lord. The Eastern Orthodox, those early Christians whom Smith, Young, and your other "Prophets" condemned, speak of this point of theology more so than the Western Church, for sure. Yet this same Eastern Church condemns, denounces, and anathematizes any man who dares suggest because he is an adopted son of God, that he will become a god to rule over his personal word, his own creation adoring him. That condemned anyone who believed that there were many gods out there, and proclaimed with fiery passion there was only one God that ever existed, and is ever to be worshiped.
On the same note, St. Thomas Aquinas in the Western Church touched up on this subject and is in full agreement with the Eastern Church. What the "Professor" lacks in his usage of the early saints is that they all denounced the views he and all Mormons hold.
This is incredible. Your founders condemned all the early Christians, because they obviously fell into darkness at the death of the apostles, but then people like this "Professor" try and turn the early saints into primitive Mormon apologists. Am I the only one seeing an inconsistency here? Oh, and that fact that in Isaiah 45 God declares that there are no gods before Him and no gods after Him, hmmmm...I wonder what He means by that.
What a horrible mutilation of the Sacred Scriptures and the holy fathers.
Instead of engaging in a rational dialogue on the subject, Mr. Shirts [expectantly] posted a reply smacking of insult and attack:
My what drama Carmenn Massa! How exciting! After reading your impressive contribution to Sacred Church History, I can see I better quit reading Vigilae Christianae, not to mention Journal of New Testament Studies, and Numen, and Journal of Near Eastern Studies, and Journal of Biblical Literature. After all we old duffs obviously don't know the half of anything as you obviously do. Wow. You need to write the intelligensia and inform them how absolutely off base they all are, and they need to hired you to clean up the obvious mess in their thinking and writing.
A "smart-Alec" remark [I could think of a worse label for it] really doesn't solve the problem. Instead, it speaks volumes about just how little the person actually knows about the subject at hand. Once one reads the discussion in full, one will find Mr. Shirts' sadly lacks information here. In almost every post he hurls insulting verbiage not only at me but at anyone else who disagrees with his unsupported position. But you may read all of the incredible details for yourself.
The subject of this article concerns the thread I found. The very first post concerns me, written by Tyler Anderson [who seemingly finds it necessary to attack me whenever he gets the chance] who was engaged with me in the discussion. He also apparently wrote a response to my article on Mormons and the Eucharist, but is of now no longer existent. However, one may still see the advertisement on Google here:
AmatuerLDSApologist: March 2009 Carmenn Massa: Catholic Zealot. WHAT DOES THE LDS CHURCHBELIEVE ... A TRACT IN DEFENSE OF THE EUCHARIST AGAINST MODERN-DAY PAGANISM BY CARMENN MASSA ...
amatuerldsapologist.blogspot.com/2009_03_01_archive.html - Similar
Had it not been deleted for whatever reason it would've been quite interesting to see what kind of response was actually written. I could only imagine it being littered with ad hominem such as:
You have to understand! When the fruits of your own faith are decaying and corrupt, you must attack the faith of another in order to somehow feel justified. Perhaps the only way Carmenn will ever stop his "onslaught" against Mormonism is if we somehow put together a fund, a "hush-money fund." Given hush money works for most Catholics in any situation, I'm sure Carmenn could make a profitable living. [p.9]
I must admit though, that is *nothing* compared to Kerry's "rebuttals". Take, for example, this one:
Hey Dork, sit up and pay attention just a little bit before talking about something you kinow nothing of. Mormons did NOT start this childish, stupid, insipid, and ***worthless*** name calling of "cult." The critics and anti-Mormons did, so I am simply returning it to you all. I am more than absoluely pleased to see it bothers you. It bothers us too. My suggestion? We all begin to stop the name calling and get on with the issues. I suspect Carol won't, and I have serious doubts about you (you still have 10 years of growth in maturity before I ever take much of what you say seriously) doing it either. Soooooo, get used to, we LDS have had to. Sucks don't it. I mean it SUCKS don't it?! (Carol, do you need me to mail you a quarter so you can buy a clue with what I am saying here to Carmenn?) [p.15]
Think of a Mormon version of Art Sippo, only slightly, ever so slightly more reserved. Imagine over 18 pages worth of "dialogue" filled with remarks like these. Yes, it is despairing to say the least. But before we move on to the actual thread I must add also that I have been accused of "attacking" folks and using ad hominem remarks. It seems that whatever I say my Mormon opponents must repeat and throw back at me. Personally I don't understand this type of thinking, but be that as it may Ron Beron wrote,
"I don't use ad hominem in my dialogues" [Ron quoting me]
Not so fast there kimo sabe...These are your quotes from the first few pages of this thread....
Joseph Smith and his ilk
I feel sorry for you sir that you've wasted 48 years in religious falsehood
If you were honest you would have presented that in your material. But you did none of this and end up making yourself look like a fool rather than facing the subject on hand, and revert like any other cultist to ad-hominem which gives no answer whatsoever. Lol, pride comes before a fall, "Pro".
What a pathetic run from grace.....
You have demonstrated over and over again sir that you are totally incapable of handling intelligent factual argumentation. It is unfortunate that so many decieved Mormons - as sincere as they are - actually believe the lies you call 'arguments'.
Did they lie to me like you did? <<
My response to those baseless accusations are as follows:
I understand that you must dig up whatever you can to make it appear as though I had been using ad hominem, and to be honest it's pretty unconvincing. I see I'm going to have to refute each one at a time for the readers' sake.
"I can't believe so many Mormons quote the Backyard Professor when clearly he, much like James Talmage, has absolutely no experience in biblical exegesis and textual criticism."
Now I honestly don't see what this line has to do with ad hominem, since it's a plain and simple fact James Talmage had a very selective view of church history and textual criticism, which can easily be seen once compared with scholastics who are well-experienced in the field. Kerry Shirts is no different, as is even more evident. My saying he has no experience whatever is no different than my saying that I have no experience whatever when it comes to computer graphics design or designing plans for a space rocket. I simply cannot do either. Far from being ad hominem, it's a plain and stated fact as any rational person can see.
"Joseph Smith and his ilk"
I assume the accusation is towards my usage of the word "ilk". Let's allow for the definition of the word...
Word History: When one uses ilk, as in the phrase men of his ilk, one is using a word with an ancient pedigree even though the sense of ilk, "kind or sort," is actually quite recent, having been first recorded at the end of the 18th century. This sense grew out of an older use of ilk in the phrase of that ilk, meaning "of the same place, territorial designation, or name." This phrase was used chiefly in names of landed families, Guthrie of that ilk meaning "Guthrie of Guthrie." "Same" is the fundamental meaning of the word. The ancestors of ilk, Old English ilca and Middle English ilke, were common words, usually appearing with such words as the or that, but the word hardly survived the Middle Ages in those uses.
So...by my saying there were men of Joseph's Smith kind or sort, who shared in the same beliefs and convictions as he did, is insulting how? I don't recall anywhere where I called them 'dorks'...but then again I guess that particular word isn't seen as ad hominem to you gentlemen when evidently "ilk" is :-)
"I feel sorry for you sir that you've wasted 48 years in religious falsehood"
Yes...your point is what exactly? Your folks had no problem telling us that Satan sits in God's place - that is a historical religious falsehood. I fail to see your point in mentioning this line.
"If you were honest you would have presented that in your material. But you did none of this and end up making yourself look like a fool rather than facing the subject on hand, and revert like any other cultist to ad-hominem which gives no answer whatsoever. Lol, pride comes before a fall, "Pro"."
Considering that he hurled numerous insults at me, I'd call that ad hominem yes and that is the common phenomenon we see amongst cult-apologists. Whenever one does not accurately represent a certain side he does make himself appear foolish, it's another simple fact. [I must admit, my response here at first glance appears to have me saying I actually did use ad hominem, however that isn't the case. What I meant was that I could see how my words could be taken as ad hominem, but in fact once viewed without the sky-rocketing emotions of my Mormon readers, the opposite is true]
"What a pathetic run from grace....."
Yes indeed, denying the evidence with insult is quite pathetic....
"You have demonstrated over and over again sir that you are totally incapable of handling intelligent factual argumentation. It is unfortunate that so many deceived Mormons - as sincere as they are - actually believe the lies you call 'arguments'."
Once again, just as I cannot for the life of me design a rocket ship, Kerry just cannot handle any of the evidence brought forth. We are talking about the same man who couldn't wait for my 2nd Response to be posted, and when I eventually did post it here in video format he to this day refuses to watch them. I think his actions prove my point all too well. You'll notice I called Mormons sincere and not sneaky madmen trying to take over the world, which of course you are not, so I fail to see how *that* would be considered ad hominem to you.
"Did they lie to me like you did?"
I never got an answer to that one...I proved sufficiently how Kerry misused the evidence, to this day he refuses to respond. Up here they call that a lie :-) [p.16]
I will also add to this date Kerry still refuses to answer any of the evidences I have brought up, evidences which I can assure you he is well aware of. In any case, that aside Tyler writes in this thread:
About a year and a half ago I first found MADB, and since then have joined other discussion boards on Facebook etc, dealing with LDS Apologetics. Recently in a discussion with an individual named Carmenn Massa, an avowed and dedicated Roman Catholic, the issue was raised as to whether or not it would be appropriate for Latter-day Saints to use the early "Catholic" Fathers' exegetes in order to support LDS positions on issues such as eternal progression, proxy baptism, the nature of God, and so on. Carmenn argued that:
With the [F]athers, the Mormon apologists take them completely out of their context in order to try and substantiate Mormon doctrine, but the evidence, when taken as a whole, just isn't there...Similar views are one thing, dogmatic quite another
By and large in my own examination of the writings of Tertullian, Origen, Cyril, Justin and others, I don't necessarily find parallels but indeed find similarities Perhaps the issue isn't whether or not I'm quoting from them, but Carmenn's inability to process information different from his own views. So, as sort of an informal survey I wonder whether or not it is appropriate to use the Early Christian Fathers in apologia, or whether I should just leave it on the shelf. All thoughts would be appreciated. Thank you.
For a view of the entire discussion located on Facebook's Joseph Smith the Prophet page, see Early Christian use of Psalm 82 proving Mankind is divine, even gods.
I've taken the time to find the context of my quote, since Mr. Anderson failed to provide the post or page number. The post number is 610, the [Facebook] page number is 21. Earlier Tyler said,
I think I'll reiterate what I've explained to some who take offense at LDS use of early Christian literature by going at it this way. C.S. Lewis no doubt was one of the most influential Christian writers of the 20th Century. I'm a fan, and given your aptitude for the scriptures Carmenn you seem like an individual who would admire Lewis' work as well. Was Lewis a Latter-day Saint? No. Was he a Roman Catholic? No. Yet we both presumably believe certain things AS Lewis does about being a true disciple of Christ. Does that mean you or I must undoubtedly submit to all the tenants of the Church of England in order to agree with or use Lewis' work? I beg to answer Carmenn, no sir. [p. 21]
My answer in full was,
Once again C.S. Lewis was never used by me co[n]cerning doctrinal matters. To use him as a parrallel to somehow prove another doctrinal point does not make any sense. In fact it proves useless. With the fathers, the Mormon apologists take them completetly out of their context in order to try and substantiate Mormon doctrine, but the evidence, when taken as a whole, just isn't there.
The reason Mr. Anderson brought up C.S. Lewis was because Mr. Shirts had previously mutilated Lewis' understanding of theosis, in fact trying to make Lewis sound as though he were advocating the Mormon apotheosis. In the post to which I just linked, I sufficiently demonstrate Mr. Shirts' inexcusable errors pertaining to Lewis and his writings concerning the Christian's glorification. I will note that Mr. Shirts has not yet responded to my rebuttles, even though he is well aware of their existance, and I don't think he will respond any time soon. Lewis cannot be used to substantiate a doctrine which he did not preach, teach, or confess. The same formula applies to the Holy Fathers of the Church. It is, in reality, just plain common sense. But as we have seen Mormon apologists don't possess this understanding when dealing with the texts. If I were to use Lewis as a defender of the Papacy I too would be mutilating Lewis' work, since his writings denounce more than once the Roman Church's claim to supremacy. I find it strange Mr. Anderson failed to mention the context of my quote, which now that we have seen provides more light on the issue.
In Mr. Shirts' article dated May 12, 2009, he cites St. Irenaeus as proof that early Christendom expounded Mormon apotheosis. I would direct the reader to my first article dealing with Mr. Shirts and his usual cut-and-paste standards with the Fathers and the Scriptures. In that article, I specifically pointed out the subtle differences between Mormonism's understanding of deification [apotheosis] and the Christian doctrine [theosis]. To note,
McConkie tells us that the…
“plurality of gods exist . . . there is an infinite number of holy personages, drawn from worlds without number, who have passed on to exaltation and are thus gods." (Mormon Doctrine, (Salt Lake: Bookcraft, 1991), 576-577)
“It is the first principle of the gospel to know for a certainty the character of God, and to know that we may converse with him as one man converses with another, and that he was once a man like us; yea, that God himself, the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth, the same as Jesus Christ himself did; and I will show it from the Bible.” (Smith, HC 6:305)
"God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens . . . We have imagined that God was God from all eternity. I will refute that idea and take away the veil, so that you may see," (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 345).
'This is the way our Heavenly Father became God. Joseph Smith taught: "It is the first principle of the Gospel to know for a certainty the character of God. . . . He was once a man like us; . . . God himself, the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth, the same as Jesus Christ himself did"' (Gospel Principles, Chapter 47, quoting from Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 345-46).
"Here, then, is eternal life--to know the only wise and true God. And you have got to learn how to be Gods yourselves--to be kings and priests to God, the same as all Gods have done--by going from a small degree to another, from grace to grace, from exaltation to exaltation, until you are able to sit in glory as do those who sit enthroned in everlasting power." (Joseph Smith, The King Follet Discourse)
We must look at the Holy Fathers with this Mormon mindset of apotheosis if we are hoping to find this very same teaching in their ancient writings. That said, does St. Irenaeus really support the Mormon view? He also says,
"Nor is He [God] moved by anyone; rather, freely and by His Word He made all things. For He alone is God, He alone is Lord, He alone is Creator, He alone is Father, He alone contains all and commands all to exist." - Against Heresies 2:1:1
The question is, of course, if God was once a man as Joseph Smith infallibly taught, then who moved God when He was not God? And if He alone is God, as St. Irenaeus proclaims, how is it that men can also become Gods according to Doctrines and Covenants?
"Then shall they be gods, because they have no end; therefore shall they be from everlasting to everlasting, because they continue; then shall they be above all, because all things are subject unto them. Then shall they be gods, because they have call power, and the angels are subject unto them." - D&C 132:20
Once we compare this with Irenaeus, can we honestly and truthfully conclude that this saint actually taught the Mormon deification? When expounding on Psalm 82, it becomes even clearer Irenaeus is exegeting theosis from the passage, not apotheosis [cf.Against Heresies 4.38:4]. But as is the norm with many Mormon apologists, context is not an essential to their defences of the LDS Church.
Moving on. In the same Mormon Apologetics thread, a user name "mfbukowski" commented,
Of course it is OK to use them.
And who is to say that the Catholic context is better than ours? The whole point of using them is that the Catholic context which has been imposed on them for 1500 years is wrong.
Of course we have to realize that they are already "apostate" but they may give some evidence of what early doctrines were, and how they agree with our position.
If anything one could argue decisively imo, that any Catholic context is guilty at least of "presentism" -- really the context they superimpose over what the ECF's are actually saying.
Obviously this person never took the time to read the discussion which contains my numerous examples that the Fathers are far from Mormonism in thought and doctrine. It is also clear that "mfbukowski's" definition of context and the standard definition are two entirely different things. When one examines the Fathers in their context without imposing a Reformed or Roman thought into them, one finds that they are in the fullest sense Catholic. Roman thought developed later in history, but the Judeao-Greek thought was always intact with these pious saints. They, like Philo, used Greek understanding to explain Jewish theology to the Gentiles. Transubstantiation for Rome is the thought used to explain, at least logically, the Mystery of the Eucharist, a doctrine which flows from the Jewish Passover Feast. St. Paul himself follows this route in his epistles when expounding Christianity [Judaism post-Messiah] to the Gentiles.
Ron Beron also decided to add in his two cents worth,
As one of the respondents on Facebook I have had my confrontations with Carmenn and while he is young and zealous he makes some good points according to his relative position. He is incorrect in that Mormons incorrectly use the Patristic Fathers in that their interpretation is not exclusive to Catholics only. What he fails to realize is that the Catholic Church per se didn't exist until at least the 4th century and most of the early patricians existed prior to that and represented a transitional position between Jewish Christianity and Gentile Christianity. I say to use the material, but be careful in its application.
Of course the most blatant error Ron makes is based on his totally deficient understanding of what the Catholic Church actually is. To note, Ron is an ex-Catholic, one who clearly did not understand the doctrines of the Church even when he was in our fellowship. In fact, in the Facebook discussion I posed to him the following:
As for youre being raised Catholic, please allow me to see if you knew the Faith. For my own curiosity, could explain the definition of an Ecumenical Council; explain the issues surrounding the Council of Chalcedon; the earlist holy father to use the word 'eucharist' in an explicit manner (for his time); the definition of the word 'eucharist' and where the word is found in Scripture; the proof-texts for the doctrine of the eucharist; the role of the priest; the divine liturgy (or the mass). [post #483]
That was dated August 15, 2009. I'm still waiting for his answers. Back to his comment, he alledges the Catholic Church per se did not come about till the 4th century. But history messes up that theory quite a bit. St. Ignatius of Antioch who lived in the 2nd century wrote,
"Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude [of the people] also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church." (Epistle to the Smyrnaeans)
The essentials of Roman and Greek Catholic theology and ecclesiastical government can be found in St. Ignatius' epistles, since he being a very early witness was a disciple of Apostles John and Paul. Jewish Christianity remained consistent in Gentile Christianity, since as we've already discovered the Fathers used Greek thought to expound on doctrines whose seeds are deep-rooted in ancient Jewish understanding and sources. St. Matthew's Gospel is a wonderful example of the Jewry which engulfs Christ's epic. St. Luke's Gospel, on the other hand, focuses on bringing the news to the Gentiles, so the Jewishness is lacking, but this is needed to make the Gospel simple and plain to the outsiders who know nothing of the ancient Israeli histories and oracles.
Daniel Peterson commented,
Of course we have a right to quote the early Christian fathers.
And it isn't clear, anyway, that the fathers are the property of the Roman Catholic Church. The Orthodox churches have at least as good a claim to them, even if one accepts the notion that they could "belong" to a particular denomination today -- which I don't.
Once again we see another example of misunderstanding the Catholic Church. The Roman and Greek Churches both were visibly One in history, but after the Schism [which was not an official excommunication of East and West, but a most serious tear in Christ's Garment nonetheless] the two went their seperate ways. Because of the Schism they are not in full communion together, yet because they both share in the Apostolic Faith and Holy Fathers both East and West have valid and legal rights to the said Faith and Fathers. The Arians, for example, do not have such a claim because their sect and faith was condemned and anathematized at Nicea by the Christian Church. Protestants have no access to the Fathers because their bodies sprung up completely void of Apostolic origins. Their founders seperated themselves from Apostolic Succession, both mechanically and doctrinally, that is, not teaching the same doctrines as the Apostles and their Successors proclaimed. Because of their complete and total break from Rome, an Apostolic Church, they broke away from the entire Catholic Church. Suppose Rome were in error, that she herself had fallen from the Faith long ago being infested with apostasy and heresy, then all the churches which sprung out of her would by that very fact be seperated from the Catholic Church, since they come from a heretical Church, and they taught doctrines contrary to the declarations of the Church Catholic, sustained and upheld by the Greeks. The Holy Church Fathers are indeed the Patriarchs of our Holy Catholic Faith, Ignatius and Justin, Augustine and Chrysostom, and all their fellows who continued in building up the Mystical Body of Christ on the foundation of Apostles and Prophets, with Christ Himself being the Chief Corner Stone.
Contrary to this fundamental fact, "ChristKnight", a Roman Catholic, replied to Peterson's comment,
This is true. The Catholic Church doesn't "own" the Church Fathers, nor do we claim that they are for Catholic usage only. The Orthodox always refer to them. And of course there are the Desert Fathers and other groups of early "Fathers".
The Desert Fathers, simply because they are called "Desert", does not imply that they are distinctly seperate from the Catholic Fathers. They were Catholic hermits, monks who meditated in the quite wildernesses, fleeing from persecution and preaching the Faith to whoever would hear. Let the following citation suffice in showing that the Desert Fathers actually were very Catholic:
"This is what Abba Daniel, the Pharanite, said, 'Our Father Abba Arsenius told us of an inhabitant of Scetis, of notable life and of simple faith; through his naivete he was deceived and said, 'The bread which we receive is not really the body of Christ, but a symbol.' Two old men having learnt that he had uttered this saying, knowing that he was outstanding in his way of life, knew that he had not spoken through malice, but through simplicity. So they came to find him and said, 'Father, we have heard a proposition contrary to the faith on the part of someone who says that the bread which we received is not really the body of Christ, but a symbol.' The old man said, 'It is I who have said that.' Then the old men exhorted him saying, 'Do not hold this position, Father, but hold one in conformity with that which the catholic Church has given us. We believe, for our part, that the bread itself is the body of Christ and that the cup itself is his blood and this in all truth and not a symbol. But as in the beginning, God formed man in his image, taking the dust of the earth, without anyone being able to say that it is not the image of God, even though it is not seen to be so; thus it is with the bread of which he said that it is his body; and so we believe that it is really the body of Christ.' The old man said to them, 'As long as I have not been persuaded by the thing itself, I shall not be fully convinced.' So they said, 'Let us pray God about this mystery throughout the whole of this week and we believe that God will reveal it to us.' The old man received this saying with joy and he prayed these words, 'Lord, you know that it is not through malice that I do not believe and so that I may not err through ignorance, reveal this mystery to me, Lord Jesus Christ.' The old men returned to their cells and they also prayed God, saying, 'Lord Jesus Christ, reveal this mystery to the old man, that he may believe and not lose his reward.' God heard both the prayers. At the end of the week they came to church on Sunday and sat all three on the same mat, the old man in the middle. Then their eyes were opened and when the bread was placed on the holy table, there appeared as it were a little child to these three alone. And when the priest put out his hand to break the bread, behold and angel descended from heaven with a sword and poured the child's blood into the chalice. When the priest cut the bread into small pieces, the angel also cut the child into pieces. When they drew near to receive the sacred elements the old man alone received a morsel of the bloody flesh. Seeing this he was afraid and cried out, 'Lord, I believe that this bread is your flesh and this chalice your blood.' Immediately the flesh which he held in his hand became bread, according to the mystery and he took it, giving thanks to God. Then the old men said to him, 'God knows human nature and that man cannot eat raw flesh and that is why he has changed his body into bread and his blood into wine, for those who receive it in faith.' Then they gave thanks to God for the old man, because he had allowed him not to lose the reward of his labor. So all three returned with joy to their own cells." - pp. 53-54, "The Sayings of the Desert Fathers: The Alphabetical Collection" from Cistercian Publications.
But unfortunately "ChristKnight" goes on to say,
We all think the Bible says what we think it says, and the same goes for the Church Fathers. For Catholics, they support Catholic beliefs. For Orthodox, they support Orthodox beliefs. For LDS, they support LDS beliefs (or at least, the parts that aren't already a product of the Apostasy). This is why, in the majority of cases, such discussions go no where, except for convincing us of our positions and how wrong others are. This is why forums have the same conversations repeated. Nothing wrong with that, but that's just how it goes.
Well, actually, once again the context is the key to understanding what the Sacred Scriptures and the Holy Fathers are saying. Nothing gets solved by simply saying "Maybe it means this, or I guess it could mean that, or maybe it means..." It's just ridiculous at best. To essentially say there is no real true interpretation to the Fathers' or Scriptures' words puts the universal Christian Faith into unfathomable jeopardy. In fact, were we to use this same illogical principle on Mormon writings we could expect a very strong protest from the LDS faithful. They would be entirely justified in raising protest if we claimed of their prophets and apostles "Well, for you they support that doctrine, but for us they're actually saying something else. That's just our opinion." Were we to say that of Joseph Smith's sermons the Mormons would never let us hear the end of it. Yet these same Mormon apologistsd have no shame at all in twisting the words of the Holy Fathers and the General Councils, whenever they actually acknowledge the Councils.
In addition to the comments, a user by the name of "e=mc2", someone who is undoubtedly Kerry Shirts - or at least someone who closely copies to the tee his insulting verbiage - wrote,
Carmenn's youth has betrayed him far more than once in his astonishing ideas. As if the Early Christian Fathers were owned by *any* church - GRIN! He's just angry that we can show *so much* similarities between the Early Christian Church and the Restored Gospel. It really is rather astounding that the very doctrines which today's Christians say is proof we are NOT Christian, are the very doctrines espoused by the Early Christian Fathers!
I cannot help but chuckle over this silliness. The fact that Mr. Shirts feels comfortable sitting quite safely behind his key-board, ignoring all my evidences, possessing this self-indulgent, obscene, childish, attitude not only towards me but towards my fellow Christians who also partook of the discussion, in particular a woman named Carol, and has the audacity to go behind my back, misrepresent and attack me, instead of confronting me personally and debating the subject, speaks incredible volumes than I could ever explain. I have documented the things he has said against me, against Carol, against Christians in general; I mean it's been long well-known to anyone following my blog that the man has some serious issues. This kind of behaviour is not only cowardly but also disgraceful. It only goes to show that the true colors really do come out once the facts are laid on the table. When I write about Kerry Shirts, or do videos on him, I quote his writings, his sources, I actually address what he's saying. But we just do not see these same actions coming from Mr. Shirts in response to my documentation.
If only I had a dollar every time a Mormon has told me I'm "angry." Many rationally thinking people who have read the Facebook discussion [and there have been many] can see that this is far from the truth. I've had quite a few persons contact me asking, "Where does he get this stuff from? How does he see you as angry?" But this is what we can expect from folks who are spiritually blinded, who have no desire whatsoever to know the Truth, despite the vast evidences which are so readily available to anyone who, quite frankly, just asks.
This article will be sent to Mr. Shirts personally via his youtube email account. And may I say directly to Mr. Shirts: I'm still waiting for your responses to my videos and paper dealing with Heiser, Psalm 82, Mormon doctrine, and the Divine Council. I'm also awaiting your response to my refutation of your misuse of C.S. Lewis and deification. I think it would be beneficial to both your readers and viewers as to mine if they were to see us engaged in a debate, whether by phone [which would be recorded and uploaded to the net; I will gladly pay the phone bill], or video format. The subject in question would be exegesis on Psalm 82 in comparison with the doctrine of plurality of gods according to the writings of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young particularly, and the Holy Fathers' understanding of Christian deification. The debate does not have to take place now, but even months from now, when we both have free time to gather and present our materials to our viewing/reading audience.
I await your reponse.