Sunday, 28 December 2008

An Open Letter to Israel

TO JUDAH, son of Jacob called Israel, inheritor of the land called Canaan, the Promised Land, guardian of the Holy Priesthood of the Order of Aaron, steward of the House of the Lord, forefather of the promised Messiah of the line of David, greetings.

Hi. How've you been? It's been a long time since we talked. It's me, your brother -- Joseph. You remember the one, right? The whole thing with the well, then that stuff in Egypt, then a while later the little squabbles we had once we reached Canaan. And I'm sure you recall the bit where I was taken into captivity along with most of the rest of the family and we were scattered to the four corners of the earth.

Anyway, I hear you've been doing well for yourself. Twelve million of you now, right? That's pretty good. I've been doing fine too, thanks for asking -- I've got a Church of my own now, had you heard? It's quite a good one, though I do share it with a few of our brothers, in small part. But mostly it's mine.

Hey, remember all those prophesies about Ephraim and Judah in the last days? I think Isaiah had some, maybe Jeremiah... anyway, turns out these are the last days. They're all coming true, and my Church is the Ephraim being referred to. How great is that?

Well, anyway. I just thought I'd write to say hello. Hey, I've been reading the news lately, you know. I understand you've been having a bit of trouble with the neighbours. It occurs to me that shooting them wasn't exactly the best policy, but I'm sure you know your own business well enough.

... no, I can't keep a straight face either. Quite frankly, brother dear, you're being obnoxious. If you ever expect to get the Temple rebuilt, you're going to have to calm down a lot. Have you considered anger management? Seriously, who cares about Gaza anyway? Okay, I understand that they're not exactly the nicest people to have next door, what with all the rockets and suicide bombers and so on. I get that. But you don't need to shell the moral high ground into oblivion by sending in all these air strikes.

Bother. I promised myself I wasn't going to talk about that. Regardless, it's lovely to know you're doing okay. Write back soon, will you?

Your loving(?) brother,

JOSEPH, son of Israel, father of Ephraim and Manasseh, ruler of the North Kingdom, settler of the American continent, sustainer of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, servant of God

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Sometimes I do get things right.

In my earlier post, Prophet of the Where?, I hypothesised that Zenos and Zenock (two prophets mentioned several times in the Book of Mormon, but not otherwise known) "were actually ancestors of Lehi, rather than renowned Prophets in their own day". This was simply an additional note at the end of a longer post, but it turns out I was right. In 3 Nephi 10:16, Mormon comments:

Yea, the prophet Zenos did testify of these things, and also Zenock spake concerning these things, because they testified particularly concerning us, who are the remnant of their seed.

So there you have it. Zenos and Zenock were ancestors of the Lehite tribes, and prophesied concerning them, rather than concerning the Israelites of the Old World. Hence, they are not remembered over here, because they weren't relevant.

Another point to the power of intuitive reasoning -- and the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

"For the Lord, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away"

I was reading in Elder James E. Talmage's book Jesus the Christ (a very good book, and I recommend it) when I came to his comments on Matthew 19:3-9 (also Mark 10:2-12):

3 The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?
4 And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female,
5 And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?
6 Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.
7 They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?
8 He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.
9 And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.

As the scriptures tell us, a group of Pharisees were trying to tempt Jesus into saying something which would put him under their power, as they so often did. In order to do this, they approached him with one of the problems they frequently debated: when a man should be allowed to divorce his wife.

When I say "frequently debated", I mean it. The inspiration for this post was Elder Talmage's note at the end of the chapter (note 4 to chapter 27, if you're reading along), where he quotes Geikie:

"Among the questions of the day fiercely debated between the great rival schools [of Jewish religious scholars] of Hillel and Shammai, no one was more so than that of divorce. The school of Hillel contended that a man had a right to divorce his wife for any cause he might assign, if it were no more than his having ceased to love her, or his having seen one he liked better, or her having cooked a dinner badly. The school of Shammai, on the contrary, held that divorce could be issued only for the crime of adultery, and offences against chastity.

How relevant these two perspectives are to our day! The Hillel viewpoint, that anything -- including seeing someone you like better, very common in our day -- is grounds for a divorce, is supported and promoted by most of the Western world. Those who proclaim the Shammai opinion are denounced as naive, unrealistic, romantics. But, as Matthew and Mark tell us, our Saviour and Redeemer gave a gospel much closer to the Shammai position than the Hillel. Who should we listen to?

To find out, perhaps we should look at the other scriptures on the subject. In my LDS copy of the scriptures, the Bible Dictionary entry for Divorce directs me to several verses.

1) Leviticus 21:14. This is simply saying that the High Priest can't marry a divorced woman.
2) Deuteronomy 22:19, 29. These describe two situations when a man cannot divorce his wife - when he has falsely accused her of not being a virgin at their marriage, and when (I think) he raped her and was then ordered to marry her.
3) Deuteronomy 24:1-4. This is the really relevant one. Quoted:

1 When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house.
2 And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man’s wife.
3 And if the latter husband hate her, and write her a bill of divorcement, and giveth it in her hand, and sendeth her out of his house; or if the latter husband die, which took her to be his wife;
4 Her former husband, which sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after that she is defiled; for that is abomination before the Lord: and thou shalt not cause the land to sin, which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.

This is clearly what the Pharisees were thinking of when they spoke to Jesus, and what the Hillel school used to back up their viewpoint. "When a man has taken a wife... and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes... then let him write her a bill of divorcement". At a glance, then, it seems that divorce is perfectly acceptable under the Mosaic law for anything!

Except... not. Verse one specifies that "she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her" (emphasis mine). So even under the Law of Moses, divorce had to be for the breaking of one or other of the laws. That gives an enormous range of excuses, but a badly-cooked meal, loss of love, or finding someone else are not on the list. So much for the Hillel school. But what, then, of the Shammai position, that only for adultery should divorce be sought? There's nothing more in the Bible Dictionary, but the Topical Guide entry on the matter is extremely instructive. It cites three different verses in Jeremiah 3.

1 They say, If a man put away his wife, and she go from him, and become another man’s, shall he return unto her again? shall not that land be greatly polluted? but thou hast played the harlot with many lovers; yet return again to me, saith the Lord.
[...]
8 And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also.
[...]
20 Surely as a wife treacherously departeth from her husband, so have ye dealt treacherously with me, O house of Israel, saith the Lord.

These verses form part of an extended metaphor, where the Lord (ie, Jehovah, the pre-mortal Jesus Christ!) speaks through Jeremiah and accuses Israel and Judah of unfaithfulness. He claims that because of their adultery (in context, worship of false gods) he divorced himself from Israel. Only for this reason. It's not a direct confirmation of the Shammai views, but it is certainly in support.

Of course, none of the above scriptures matter, because we have direct testament from the Lord Jesus Christ:

And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery. (Matt. 19:9)

Well, you might say, that was two thousand years ago. Surely we cannot be held to the same standards today? The world has changed too much for that, right?

Wrong.

Less than a hundred and eighty years ago, the Prophet Joseph Smith was inspired to dictate the revelation given as D&C 42. It contains these verses:

74 Behold, verily I say unto you, that whatever persons among you, having put away their companions for the cause of fornication, or in other words, if they shall testify before you in all lowliness of heart that this is the case, ye shall not cast them out from among you;
75 But if ye shall find that any persons have left their companions for the sake of adultery, and they themselves are the offenders, and their companions are living, they shall be cast out from among you. (D&C 42:74-75)

What the Lord is saying here is exactly the same as he said in Perea two thousand years ago: if a man (or a woman -- no gender discrimination in the D&C!) seeks divorce for any other reason than fornication or adultery, and marries again, he or she will be committing adultery with the new spouse. Moreover, the Lord recommends that they should be cast out from the Church -- excommunicated.

"Oh, but that was still nearly two hundred years ago! Nowadays--"

"Divorce too often is the bitter fruit of anger. A man and a woman fall in love, as they say; each is wonderful in the sight of the other; they feel romantic affection for no one else; they stretch their finances to buy a diamond ring; they marry. All is bliss—that is, for a season. Then little inconsequential activities lead to criticism. Little flaws are magnified into great torrents of faultfinding; they fall apart, they separate, and then with rancor and bitterness they divorce." (Gordon B. Hinckley, November 2007)

"The kind of marriage required for exaltation—eternal in duration and godlike in quality—does not contemplate divorce. In the temples of the Lord, couples are married for all eternity. But some marriages do not progress toward that ideal. Because “of the hardness of [our] hearts,” the Lord does not currently enforce the consequences of the celestial standard. He permits divorced persons to marry again without the stain of immorality specified in the higher law. Unless a divorced member has committed serious transgressions, he or she can become eligible for a temple recommend under the same worthiness standards that apply to other members." (Dallin H. Oaks, May 2007)

Elder Oaks' comments are particularly interesting. Because of the hardness of our hearts, we are in the same position as the Jews were -- the Lord has permitted us to divorce one another, but as Elder Talmage put it, "it is not the privilege but the infamy and reproach of Israel, that Moses [and our latter-day prophets] found it necessary to tolerate divorce." (Note 4, chapter 27, Jesus the Christ) So no, if you decide to divorce your husband or wife for frivolous reasons (and Elder Oaks quotes the Saviour's words from Matthew 19 again -- the same conditions are still in force today!) you won't be excommunicated. You may still be allowed to enter into the temple. But this is because of the hardness of our hearts. It isn't a good thing -- it has come about because we are a stubborn and wicked people.

To any of you considering divorce, and any who might do so in the future, and further, any who are having problems in their married lives, I leave you with the words of our dear departed Prophet, President Gordon B. Hinckley.

"Brethren, the Lord expects something better of us. He expects something better than is to be found in the world. Never forget that it was you who selected your companion. It was you who felt that there was no one else in all the world quite like her. It was you who wished to have her forever. But in too many cases the image of the temple experience fades. A lustful desire may be the cause. Faultfinding replaces praise. When we look for the worst in anyone, we will find it. But if we will concentrate on the best, that element will grow until it sparkles." (Gordon B. Hinckley, May 2003)

In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

ADDENDUM

When I announced this post on another forum, a question was asked which is very relevant to this topic: "What do you think about people who seek divorce because of abuse?" I will give my answer to this question as I gave it there, slightly edited for style.

I agree with them. There's a quote in the Dallin H. Oaks talk cited above; at another point in his talk, he said this:

There are many good Church members who have been divorced. I speak first to them. We know that many of you are innocent victims — members whose former spouses persistently betrayed sacred covenants or abandoned or refused to perform marriage responsibilities for an extended period. Members who have experienced such abuse have firsthand knowledge of circumstances worse than divorce.

When a marriage is dead and beyond hope of resuscitation, it is needful to have a means to end it. I saw examples of this in the Philippines. Two days after their temple marriage, a husband deserted his young wife and has not been heard from for over 10 years. A married woman fled and obtained a divorce in another country, but her husband, who remained behind, is still married in the eyes of the Philippine law. Since there is no provision for divorce in that country, these innocent victims of desertion have no way to end their married status and go forward with their lives.

The Church uses an even wider definition of abuse than most here -- everything Elder Oaks cites in the first paragraph he then groups under "abuse", and yes, that includes physical/mental abuse of the type meant.

Seeking divorce due to abuse comes under "the hardness of our hearts" again, really -- ideally there would be no requirement for divorce in cases of abuse, because ideally there would be no abuse. But sadly there is, and thus an escape route has been included. It's the same concept, but from the other side -- whereas the reasons above were the wickedness of the one seeking divorce, in this case it's the wickedness of their spouse, which is an altogether worse situation to be in.

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

Oh, this should be fun.

Anyone who's spent any time at all defending the Book of Mormon against dedicated unbelievers will, sooner rather than later, have come across the statement that "there have been more than 3,900 changes in the Book of Mormon since the 1830 edition!" Unfortunately, I have never before found anyone willing to tell me what those changes, exactly, are. If Joseph Smith used 'cherubims' instead of 'cherubim' as the plural, that's hardly earth-shaking.

But now, O joy of joys, I've been handed a website purporting to list the "Significant Changes in the Book of Mormon". It starts off by telling us of the Church's claim that "such changes as were made were made by the prophet Joseph Smith because under those adverse conditions the Book of Mormon was published. But there was no change of doctrine." That's perfectly reasonable. But, according to the website, "Although there are 3,913+ changes in the Book of Mormon; not all of them are minor." Why, then, let us see these non-minor changes.





Their first list is entitled 'Doctrinal Problems'. Let's see now:

Item 1: The title page. This is the well-documented change from 'Joseph Smith, jr., author and proprietor' to 'translated by Joseph Smith, jr.' Can it be that there are still people who don't know that this is a copyright issue -- that 'author and proprietor' was the standard phrase used to secure the rights to a book? Moving on.

Items 2-5: All of these are changes from 'God' to 'Son of God'. There's some variation -- 'Son of the Eternal Father' in two cases, 'Son of the Everlasting God' in another -- but it's all the same theme. Interestingly, all four of these are from 1 Nephi, and the issue doesn't come up again. Even better -- three of them are from the same vision in 1 Nephi 11. I count six instances of 'Son of God' in that chapter, and one of them (v. 24) lies between two of the changes. Could Nephi not make his mind up? Far more likely that he missed words out in his haste, or simply used awkward phrasing. One of their examples, v. 21, reads 'Behold the Lamb of God, yea, even the [Son of the] Eternal Father'. Even if we ignore the fact that Christ is the Father of the faithful, could not the 1830 version mean, 'the Lamb of God, which God is the Eternal Father'? The sentence refers back to the last noun used -- is that 'God' or 'Lamb of God'? Well, I don't know, I'm not Nephi.

Item 6: 'and the mean man boweth [not] down, and the great man humbleth himself not'. This is one of the Isaiah chapters, 2 Nephi 12, and both instances of 'not' are absent in the original (Isaiah 2:9). In this verse, the [not] is clearly supposed to be there -- it gives a nicely balanced phrase ('the mean man boweth not down, and the great man humbleth himself not, therefore, forgive him not'). This is clearly a simple scribal error. Again.

Item 7: A change from 'white and delightsome' to 'pure and delightsome'. Given that 'white' is used as a synonym for and an image of 'pure' pretty much everywhere in the scriptures ('pure as driven snow', anyone?), I would argue that this is a change designed to preserve the meaning -- indeed, to clarify it -- while removing possible unsavoury overtones brought about by the word choice. It's not a 'doctrinal change'.

Item 8: Another scribal error, insertion of 'of' into a sentence. You can check the list for details, but it's clearly an error; it's a subject addressed countless times before this instance.

Item 9: This is an interesting one. It's an entire phrase which vanished for the 1950 edition, but reappeared in the current version, back in its original form. It's not a terribly important phrase, either, really. I'd need to do some more research to be sure on this, but I suspect it's simply a printer's error -- if the phrase in question falls neatly between two lines in the 1950 edition, which I suspect it will, this is simply a case of someone skipping over them while laying the type.

Item 10: Another interesting one. Half a verse is simply absent in the 1830 edition. But the first edition of any book has errors (I own a copy of an Arthur C. Clarke book which, on the cover, proclaims itself to be called 'AThe City and the Stars', inserting an extra 'A' at the beginning of the title), and I suspect this is the same as Item 9 -- a line was skipped over in the original version, and added back in in the very next edition.

Items 11-12: These are both the same change in separate verses; it's a change of 'directors' into 'interpreters', referring to the Urim and Thummim. This is an interesting one, because the description of them states, "I will prepare... a stone... that I may discover unto my people... the works of their brethren, yea, their secret works." In this case, I'd think that 'directors' is actually the more appropriate word. But the Urim and Thummim are best known for being interpreters; I'd have to know when this change was made to know why, but both readings seem to me 'correct'.

So much for the "profound changes in doctrine" predicted by the page. Let's see if their second list, entitled "Major errors in logic, consistency or grammar," does any better.

Item 1: 'King Benjamin' changed to 'King Mosiah'. I'm putting this down to the scribe Oliver Cowdery slipping up (or maybe the printers, though that's less likely). This is in Mosiah 21:28, when neither Mosiah or Benjamin have been heard of in more than a dozen chapters. Their last mention is brief, with Mosiah taking the throne. If Oliver was on form, he probably remembered that Benjamin was king in Zarahemla, and just put the wrong name down. We don't know.

Item 2: "Wrecked" replaced with "racked". That's just a typo, it really is.

In fact... Item 3 is a change from 'arrest' to 'wrest', 4 and 5 are verb forms, and 6 -- o! nitpick! -- is 'who' for 'whom'. According to the blurb at the top, "Typos are one thing, ...major errors in consistency and common sense are quite another," so why are they citing typos as major errors? Putting "fell" instead of "fallen" is hardly a major error. Moving on.

Item 7: Captain Moroni waving the "rent of his garment" becomes "the rent part of his garment". Unfortunately, the objection to this change betrays the website's author's lack of familiarity with Hebrew. I quote from Jeff Lindsay, who's quoting from elsewhere to say that:

When the word "rent" is used as a noun in English, it may refer to a hole caused by rending, but not, to my knowledge, to a portion of rent cloth; the unlikely usage of "rent" in English as a noun no doubt contributed to the fact that, in subsequent editions of the Book of Mormon, it was changed to read "rent part" (Alma 46:19). But the Hebrews would, in this instance, use but one word, qera', "rent (part)," coming from qara', "he rent, tore," for nouns, in Hebrews, are derived from roots--as are Hebrews verbs--by the addition of certain vowel patterns that distinguish them from other parts of speech.

Oops, little website.

Item 8: This is a change from 'diseases which was subsequent to men' to 'diseases to which men were subject'. Now I can't prove this, but (ignoring the word 'was' for 'were') we seem to have here a use of 'subsequent' to mean 'able to affect'. Subsequent has the sense of 'following, in time', and is related to 'consequent', 'following as a result of interference or natural effect', which is related to 'consequences'. In light of the 'natural effect' line, the fact that the section in full reads 'to which men were subject by the nature of the climate' begins to look suspiciously apt. I don't know 170-year-old American English, or the upstate New York dialects thereof, but I wouldn't be surprised if either subsequent or the related consequent were actually linguistically (or dialectically) appropriate in this use.

Item 9: 'Ammon' used in place of 'Ammoron'. Simple typo.

That's the end of the list. They go on to cover six 'just plain strange things' that were not removed from the BoM, running from Jacob's use of 'adieu' (perhaps they would prefer 'Brethren, I trust you into the arms of God'? This is a word in use in English at the time of Joseph Smith; remember, there are only about half a dozen non-name words rendered directly from the original language; everything in the Book of Mormon is translated. What's wrong with using French?) through some of Mormon's copying errors ('they buried their weapons of peace, or they buried the weapons of war for peace'), to the death scene of Shiz (which would take too long to explain -- suffice to say that if Coriantumr cut off the top of Shiz's head rather than the whole thing, the death scene is very plausible), but I'm not here to explain every perceived error in the Book of Mormon -- I'd be here all year. I've done what I came here to do; their 'significant changes' have all, I hope, been adequately explained.

After all that, do you know how many changes they list? Twenty-one. Out of more than 3,900 alterations made, only twenty-one of them were 'significant'. I'd call that pretty good.

Friday, 1 February 2008

Suffer the little children to come unto me.

Woolworths withdraws 'Lolita' bed

Bedroom furniture for young girls with the brand name Lolita has been withdrawn by Woolworths following complaints from parents.

A parenting website said it was in "unbelievably bad taste" to give the bed the same name as a novel about a sexually precocious young girl.

...

I've already posted a rant elsewhere about how truly appalling this is (the store claim they "had no idea" about the connotations of the name. Even I knew instantly that it was a bad name, and I've had no contact with the book, ever), so I won't repeat myself. Instead I'll take this opportunity to look at this development in light of the scriptures.

I'll start off with Jeremiah 31. This is a prophetic chapter about the Last Days, specifically the gathering of Israel. As verse 31 states, it is the time when the Lord 'will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah'. So let's look at verse 29:

In those days shall they say no more, The fathers have eaten a sour grape, and the children's teeth are set on edge.

Note especially the no more in there; this is something that will be said right up until that point -- that the children are affected by the sins of their fathers. Considering the sinfulness of the world today (as Alma would term it, we have become 'carnal, sensual and devilish', see Alma 42:10), this does not bode well for our children. And we were warned, by the Saviour himself:

Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones. (Matthew 18:10)

How better can we despise our children than to usher them into the ways of carnality as soon as we are able? The news article talks about other such incidents -- stationary with the Playboy bunny on, 'Little Miss Naughty' underclothes for pre-teen girls. This isn't an isolated incident -- this is a trend.

For behold that all little children are alive in Christ... (Moroni 8:22)

Children are sinless -- that's the message of the entirety of Moroni 8 -- but they will not always be so. Why would any caring parent burden their child with so much carnality that they cannot help but fall into sin once they reach the age of accountability? There can be no excuse for such behaviour -- none. And this isn't just me speaking: it's a commandment of God. We don't even have to rely on an interpretation of the Saviour's words recorded in Matthew:

I have commanded you to bring up your children in light and truth. (D&C 93:40)

So there it is. The Lord has spoken, and we are condemned if we disobey.

Is this a new problem? No, not at all. In 1831 -- only a year after the Church was founded -- the Lord spoke of his people at the time:

Now, I, the Lord, am not well pleased with the inhabitants of Zion, for... their children are also growing up in wickedness; they also seek not earnestly the riches of eternity, but their eyes are full of greediness. (D&C 68:31)

The Lord had specific condemnations of the people in Zion: their children were growing up in wickedness, and they themselves were greedy for material things. Now, nearly two centuries later, we find the same thing: our children are being corrupted because of greed; not ours, but that of the corporations around us. They will do anything to sell more junk to our children -- and if we accept the Lolita bed, or the Playboy pencil case, they will only think up something even worse.

The Saviour said, Suffer the little children to come unto me (Mark 10:14). Every time something like this comes up, we make that a little bit harder; we hold our precious children that tiny bit further away from him. Don't let's do that.

Monday, 28 January 2008

Gordon B. Hinkley, President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Prophet, Seer and Revelator, died last night at the age of 97.

He had led the Church for thirteen years. A whole generation of Latter-day Saints grew up with him as the Prophet. And now he's gone, just like that. And I'm having great difficulty getting my head round it.

Hail to the Prophet, ascended to heaven
Traitors and tyrants now fight him in vain
Mingling with Gods, he can plan for his brethren
Death cannot conquer the hero again...

Goodbye, President Hinckley. God bless.

Friday, 4 January 2008

Exaltation

Correct me please if I am wrong but exaltation is an LDS doctrine that claims worthy Mormoms can be exalted to godhood and someday become gods, ruling and reigning over their own planets.

God said in Isaiah 43:10 and 44:8 "before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me...yea, there is no God; I know not any.

God said it and I believe it! No exaltation doctrine in the Bible.

(Quoted word-for-word from a comment on a Deseret Morning News news article; comment by Robert)

You might think, with only three sentences to go on, that I can't write a lot in response to this.

You'd be wrong.

Let's start at the top. Doctrine of exaltation, as defined above? Well... yes, frankly. I'd take issue with the fact that he states only Mormons (or rather, Mormoms) can attain exaltation -- it implies that one must be a member of the Church in this life, which isn't the case at all.

I'd also question the phrasing -- true, it says 'can be exalted', but doesn't specify that this exaltation is none of our own doing, but all our Heavenly Father's. Other than that, though... I'll let it slide.

The Isaiah passages, then. Let's get some more of the background to Ch. 43:

I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour; I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee.

Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me.

I, even I, am the Lord; and beside me there is no saviour.

~Isaiah 43:3,10-11

Pretty powerful stuff... let's check ch. 44:

One shall say, I am the Lord's; and another shall call himself by the name of Jacob; and another shall subscribe with his hand unto the Lord, and surname himself by the name of Israel.

Thus saith the Lord the King of Israel, and his redeemer, the Lord of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.

And who, as I, shall call, and shall declare it, and set it in order for me, since I appointed the ancient people? and the things that are coming, let them shew unto them.

Fear ye not, neither be afraid: have not I told thee from that time, and have declared it? ye are even my witnesses. Is there a God beside me? yea, there is no God; I know not any.

~(Isaiah 44:5-8)

I'll deal with the second one first, because it's really easy. If we read verse 5 there, we can see pretty clearly what point the Lord is making here -- various people may say they have authority, but he is the only God. It is not a trans-universal statement; he is simply saying that he is the God of Israel, and they shall have no other.

Back to the first, which would seem to be a little more problematic. However, it's actually very simple. A God is one who has absolute power over men. Compare the term 'teacher'. A man -- let's call him an Ofsted inspector, might as well -- walks into a classroom where thirty students are studying diligently. He stands at the back for a moment, and then asks, 'Who is the teacher?'

All of a sudden, thirty hands go up. 'I am!' cries one young woman. 'Don't listen to her -- I am!' a young man near the back retorts. 'No, me -- look, I have a board pen!' 'I know what the textbook says!' A huge babble of voices floods the inspector's ears. One student scribbles 'It's me!' on a sheet of paper and thrusts it in his face. Imagine his confusion! But then he looks to the front of the class, to the largest, most important writing-space in the room, whereon the actual teacher has written, in large, clear letters, 'I am the teacher, and there is no other beside me'.

Would this inspector, on leaving the classroom, be inclined to disbelieve the teacher's words simply because there are other classrooms, with other teachers and other students? Of course not! His question, and the answer it provoked, was for the class he was visiting, and that class alone. Why, then, should we expect the Lord our God to detail the Gods of other worlds to his 'witnesses', when a simple answer will suffice: there is no God for you beside me -- concern yourself with no other.

And now, onto the last sentence in the comment: 'No exaltation doctrine in the Bible'. Oh dear me, I must disagree. In fact, I must disagree so strongly that I've got too many references to fit in. A few, then.

Romans 8:17, Matt. 25:34, Rev. 21:7 all deal with the idea of being heirs to God, inheriting kingdoms, and so forth. There's also Rev. 3:21, where we see that the faithful will sit in God's throne. All of these clearly involve some inheritence of power (what is an heir, but one who inherits all his Father has?).

... oh, goodness. Look, just skim this list and you'll see how many references there are. One of the most quoted is Psalms 82:6 - ye are gods, and all of you are children of the Most High - but there are many, many others. I can't even begin to repeat them all here.

In conclusion: the doctrine of exaltation, one of those which is frequently brought up as a charge against the LDS Church, has at least as many Bible passages to support it as it does against it. Those passages which may seem to contradict it are an essential characteristic of a volume of scripture limited to describing this world, and this world alone -- and in this world, there is one God, the Lord Omnipotent. Even so. Amen.