Monday, September 5, 2011

"Resurrected" to mortality

The issue at hand is that the "Resurrection" entry in the LDS Bible Dictionary must be wrong because of Hebrews 9:27. Specifically, man can only die once and can therefore not be restored to mortality after death. The corollary to this is that anybody who believes otherwise is a nincompoop. I will be playing the role of nincompoop today.

There are many scriptures which explain that Christ resurrected first. Acts 26:22-23 says that Christ "should be the first that should rise from the dead." 1 Corinthians 15:19-23 describes Christ as "the firstfruits of them that slept." Colossians 1:18 described Christ as "the firstborn from the dead," while Revelation 1:5 calls Him "the first begotten of the dead." Seems pretty clear to me, but I must be misunderstanding something about Hebrews 9:27.

Hebrews 9:27 states "And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgement." That does seem a bit confusing. I interpret the "once" to apply to the "appointed," but I can see where the other interpretation comes from. A good friend of mine who majored in English Language Linguistics and studied Early Modern English agrees with my interpretation, but there are others who see it the other way.

A drastic approach would be to discount the letter to the Hebrews. It is always dangerous to get theology from wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Authorship_of_the_Pauline_epistles#Hebrews. Plus, the afformentioned LDS Bible Dictionary insinuates that the letter did come from Paul. So the letter to the Hebrews remains cannon.

Is the Bible infallible? Certainly not. Consider the two conflicting accounts of Paul's vision: Acts 9:7 and Acts 22:9. There are also conflicting accounts of Judas' death: Matt 27:5 and Acts 1:18. When we start getting into contradictory interpretations (such as the current subject of this discussion), the list grows by leaps and bounds.

Consider the experience of Joseph Smith, found in Joseph Smith History 1:11-12:

11 While I was laboring under the extreme difficulties caused by the contests of these parties of religionists, I was one day reading the Epistle of James, first chapter and fifth verse, which reads: If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
12 Never did any passage of scripture come with more power to the heart of man than this did at this time to mine. It seemed to enter with great force into every feeling of my heart. I reflected on it again and again, knowing that if any person needed wisdom from God, I did; for how to act I did not know, and unless I could get more wisdom than I then had, I would never know; for the teachers of religion of the different sects understood the same passages of scripture so differently as to destroy all confidence in settling the question by an appeal to the Bible.

So Joseph went and prayed to ask for this wisdom. We know how that turned out.

Today we have modern prophets and apostles. Just as Peter, Paul, and the other ancient apostles brought clarity in how to preach the gospel to the Gentiles, our modern day apostles bring clarity in establishing the official theology of the church. Were ether set of these great men infallible? No. Do words from dead prophets have more authority than words from living prophets? No.

Then again, I'm just today's nincompoop.