Joey the Arminian

Another follow-on from Jesus the Hyper-Calvinist (which has gotten WAY too long)! Here are two translations of Ex 4:21:

And the LORD said unto Moses, When thou goest to return into Egypt, see that thou do all those wonders before Pharaoh, which I have put in thine hand: and I will prosper thee; but Pharaoh will harden his heart, and he will not let the people go.

And the LORD said unto Moses, When thou goest to return into Egypt, see that thou do all those wonders before Pharaoh, which I have put in thine hand: but I will harden his heart, that he shall not let the people go.

Before reading on, take a note of the differences between them, and try to guess where they come from. I’ll give you a hint, one of them is the KJV.

Here’s the answer: The first translation has “and I will prosper thee; but Pharaoh will harden his heart”, and the second just has “but I [The Lord] will harden his heart”. The second translation is the KJV, and the first is the JST, or the “Joseph Smith Translation”, AKA the “Inspired” version — not officially recognized as scripture by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (but canonical for the Community of Christ (formerly known as the Reorganized Church of Latter Day Saints) — who knew the Mormons had denominations?). From the LDS web page about the JST:

Because the Lord revealed to Joseph certain truths that the original authors had once recorded, the Joseph Smith Translation is unlike any other Bible translation in the world. In this sense, the word translation is used in a broader and different way than usual, for Joseph’s translation was more revelation than literal translation from one language into another. For more information about the JST, see “Joseph Smith Translation (JST)” in the Guide to the Scriptures.

(My boldening) The LDS page goes on to provide a highlight reel of new revelations with which Joey edited the KJV, using Ex 4:21 to summarize a number of similar passages:

The Lord was not responsible for Pharaoh’s hardness of heart. See also, JST, Exodus 7: 3, 13; 9: 12; 10: 1, 20, 27; 11: 10; 14: 4, 8, 17; each reference, when correctly translated, shows that Pharaoh hardened his own heart.

The entire JST is available online if you want to check those references for yourself, but here are KJV and ESV searches for all of the (20) OT verses containing “Pharaoh hard heart”. By my count, of those 20 verses, 10 say the Lord hardened, 4 say that Pharaoh hardened, and 6 passively don’t say who did it (“Pharaoh’s heart was hardened” or “Pharaoh’s heart remained hardened”). (The KJV count is 11/4/5, with the difference being Ex 7:13 KJV ESV). By sheer numbers, it seems clear that it was the Lord that caused Pharaoh to harden his heart, and then Pharaoh hardened his heart (because the Lord caused it) (conversely, the Lord caused me to have faith (softened my heart of stone by replacing it with a heart of flesh), therefore I believed).

What Joey wants us to believe is that, when originally written, all of those references said that Pharaoh did the hardening, and that God revealed this astounding fact to Joey, so that he was able to make all of the necessary corrections in the English of the KJV (without needing to bother with the Hebrew). But God forgot to reveal to Joey that Romans 9, which referees this standoff, also needed alteration. I quote from the JST (which as far as I can tell, has only small spelling changes from the KJV):

13 As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.

14 What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.

15 For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.

16 So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy.

17 For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might show my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.

18 Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.

19 Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?

20 Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?

21 Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honor, and another unto dishonor?

So what’s the conclusion? Joseph Smith hated Calvinism. It’s not too surprising, since there are plenty of Christians who hate Calvinism, and Joseph Smith didn’t even have the Holy Spirit to help him rise above his earthly notions of how salvation should work. It’s not fair for God to punish Pharaoh (or any sinner) for having a hard heart that God sovereignly caused; for rejecting Christ because God didn’t sovereignly elect them and give them faith. If God predestined some to sin, why does God find fault? For who can resist His will? There must be another explanation. It must be because it’s up to man.

But I say (Paul says), Who are you, Joseph Smith, to answer back to God? Will Pharaoh say to God, “Why have you made me like this?” Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honored use and another for dishonorable use?

I hope that this little example makes you think a little bit about how serious it is that Joseph Smith arbitrarily changed God’s words and called it scripture, and wrote new words and called them God’s. And that the LDS still teaches this, and that millions follow. I pray there is a remnant among those millions who are ignorant enough of actual LDS doctrine and history to not bear responsibility for their leaders’ heresy, who are able to glimpse the gospel through the fog of falsehood, and cling to the cross.

While we’re on the topic, you might be interested to see what JST had to say about Rom 4:16 (although he forgot to “fix” Eph 2:8-9, and a whole host of other passages concerning justification by faith alone, and not works). Or, you might be interested in reading JST’s wholesale changes to the beginning of Genesis (in the JST, or as Pearl of Great Price/Moses), or the new prophecy Joseph Smith wrote for Bible Joseph in Gen 50, in which Bible Joseph predicts the coming of another prophet named Joseph, after Moses and “the Messiah who is called Shilo”. Scary, scary stuff.


6 Responses

  1. Rube,

    I stand up and cheer – figuratively speaking – for such an excellent post.

    It’s quite humbling to see something like this, and by it recognize how terrible and awful a thing it is to mishandle the Word of God.

    But you see – we can’t help ourselves.

    I have a (very) distant family member who is…ahem…of the Romans 1 persuasion. Ahem. And uh, well…visited recently.

    This is what I witnessed. If we are like mirrors reflecting God’s glory back to him (because we are made in his image), then this guy wanted to cover all of us with mud. It was deplorable how open and honest he was about seeming to demand of those around him that they be as vulgar as he. I have never witnessed anything so profoundly appalling. (And I saw Apocolypto!) Seriously, I couldn’t get a dual image out of my mind the whole time. One layer was that of a frolicking pagan centaur, prancing around the circle of people, with a pan-pipe in his mouth, playing a happy tune, running around with a bucket and scooping out mud and slopping it all over everyone, and everyone laughing about how much fun it was. The other layer was that of the emperor in the Star Wars movies, a man whose constant exposure to evil had sucked the life right out of him. It’s not that he appears to be dead, because that wouldn’t be so shocking. It’s that in him, Death itself seems to have found life. No, he is not dead, he is very much alive, but that which lives in him is Death. You could say it was like having tea with the devil.

    So why do I speak of it? Because it’s vivid, because it’s a clear picture of evil – because if you looked in the mirror and saw yourself spiritually, this is what you would see. This is our tendency when confronted with God: take him away! I don’t want to see him! He has no right to even exist! How we have hated him and spat on him!

    And this is how we react to the Word of God. We HAVE to water it down. We HAVE to destroy it. Otherwise we find ourselves confronted with God, and we must declare with Isaiah, “WOE is me! For my eyes have seen the King!” And we must confess our unworthiness and sinfulness. But we don’t want to admit it, so we hide it even from ourselves.

    This is our ugly tendency. Every pastor struggles this way. He struggles to preach the passage truthfully and boldly, when what he really wants to do is smear his own waste all over it, knock it to the floor and stomp on it, burn it and curse it forever. That’s what is in our sinful hearts. Who can plumb the depths of them?

    The Word of God is sharper than any two edged sword. It doesn’t just cut to the heart, but to the spirit.

  2. I propose that what lies at the root of this poisonous bile is man’s magisterial elevation of his own reason to the level that he becomes autonomous, a law unto himself and a judge as well putting God in the Dock. In this stance these people attempt to be Christian theologians and at the same time remain autonomous philosophers. This elevated reason clashes with faith and something has to give. What results is a compromised faith. The reason for this is that the God that man apprehends with his autonomous reason is not actually the Christian God.

    This is the reason that the classical proofs for the existence of God don’t work. They fail because it is man’s crippled reason doing the work. I don’t mean that man is not intelligent. It is that man is in no position to defend God. Any Thomistic work to advance God will result in something un-God. The analogical attempt to cast God in our terms doesn’t work in that direction. It only works when condescends to reveal himself to us in Scripture, analogically. When Acquinas concludes his proofs with “and this that I have proven is what we call God” is wrong. He has arrived not at the God who creates and condescends to us, but at a God of his own capturing or mastering.

    The God accessible to reason alone is not the creator of the world, but the proverbial God created in our own image. Rather than completely submit to God’s sovereignty, those that deny God’s sovereignty force God to submit to whatever eventuation that happens to come down the pike driven by man’s choice. Coupled with this apostasy is that man’s autonomy allows parallel truth to be advanced by him in the form of a synergistic human tradition that supplements the Word of God. This is admirably shown in your Joey text. This of course has been around for centuries in the form of the Roman Church’s autonomous placement of their traditions which supercede scripture when necessary. The result of this autonomy is that this brand of Christianity no longer is salt or light. But it resembles unregenerate mankind to the degree that it has no counter to the world at large which itself also is autonomy personified.

    And guess what: the Arminian is in the same camp with the Roman church and, which should be no surprise, the Mormons. By denying sovereign unconditional election which is according to the purpose of his will (Eph 1:5) and is totally apart from the mythical “forseen faith” the Arminian has placed human autonomy ultimate over God. God is now confronted with that which determines his powers and actions. He is not able to save whomsoever he wills. This state is now one in which the God projected by autonomous man is no longer the God of the Bible; instead we get a God who is subject to chance: chance is now the ultimate arbiter that God must pay lipservice to. He is contingent.

    I can’t stress enough how this casting of God is not just a tricky playing with words. It literally kills God if he is not in control of whatsoever comes to pass and is a servant of chance.

    This renders the Arminian in no position to do his apologetic duty; which is to state that Scripture is the authority. This places the Arminian on such a common ground with the unbelieving modern man that the Arminian is now in the mission field along with the unbeliever. He shares the same vocabulary as the unbeliever when he starts talking about possibility and probability in the realm of human choice. This impinges on the validity of a God of history, who is scripting the drama of redemptive history from start to finish. As a result a sane philosophy of history collapses to randomness. Presumably history would have gone differently had Bin Laden made the choice to believe when he heard the gospel back when, and same with Mr. Hitler. Millions of examples of this can be proferred to demonstrate the randomness of historical outcomes given the Arminian denial of a sovereign God.

    The “forced love sucks” argument that we have heard from time to time is drivel. The fact that we don’t love God and are completely unable to love God is the very reason we need saving. [That last won’t show up on my final tomorrow, if the question “Briefly suggest the main lines of Van Til’s critique of Acquinas’ “Five Ways”. But everything else will.]

  3. Bruce,

    You should get extra credit for this post. You’ve been studying!



  4. Rube,

    is it possible to ban people from posting on your blog, so that no matter what they do, they post and it just doesn’t appear? Also, if they are banned, do they know, of does their post just simply not post?


  5. Probably, but I’ve never tried it, so I don’t know. Also, there is nothing to stop a bannee from posting under a different pseudonym.

  6. […] Joey the Arminian […]

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