Mormon vs. Orthodox Christianity’s view of Hell
AUTHOR: White, James
PUBLISHED ON: April 29, 2003
TAGS: hell | Mormonism

  Msg#: 11                                          Date: 08 Jun 93  14:17:45
  From: James White                                 
    To: All                                         
  Subj: Article Review #1
                A Reply to Elden Watson’s Review of

  “Hugh Nibley, the Universal Apostasy, and the Gates of Hades”

            as it appeared in the Spring, 1993 issue of

                          Pros Apologian

        It seems some people take things personally, especially when
one’s heros or idols are under discussion.  Right now in Phoenix, for
example, on the eve of the beginning of the NBA Finals, it would not
be good to speak out against Charles Barkley, Kevin Johnson, or the
Phoenix Suns in general.  Even folks in my own tradition, the
Reformed, sometimes lose their cool when someone attacks, normally
out of ignorance, John Calvin, or Jonathan Edwards.  Such is the
human nature.

        We can see this quite clearly in the review of my article
refuting Dr. Hugh Nibley’s comments on Matthew 16.19 that was posted
on the National Mormon Echo by Elden Watson.  It seems Mr. Watson
has an inordinately high regard for the redoubtable Dr. Nibley, and
his review of my article seems based more upon indignation that
anyone would dare disagree with Nibley as it is upon any factual
evidence.  Mr. Watson’s normally clear thinking has been severely
muddled by this emotional attachment to Dr. Nibley, as we shall see.

        Before getting to the review itself, I feel it is *vitally*
important to remind the reader of what the original article was
about.  It was not about the LDS doctrine that there was a
*universal* apostasy in the Christian Church, though it mentions that
as part of its background.  It was not about the subject of the
priesthood, though again, it mentions this in providing background
for the reader.  It was about one thing: Hugh Nibley’s comments on
Matthew 16.19, specifically regarding the genitive “autes” that
functions as the direct object of the Greek verb “katischuo,” i.e.,
“the gates of hades will not overcome (katischuo) it (autes).”  That
is what the article was about.  That was its thrust.  I alleged that
Dr. Nibley was simply in error to syntax the genitive autes as a
partitive genitive, and demonstrated that the proper syntactical
identification would be the genitive of direct object.  I supported
this from scholarly sources.  For Mr. Watson’s review to be relevant,
it would have to provide argumentation against the main point of the
article.  As anyone can see by reading the review, it utterly fails
to do that very thing, preferring instead to attack anything and
everything *around* the central thesis, while leaving the true error
of Dr. Nibley unrefuted.

        Mr. Watson seemingly felt it was necessary to “take the
gloves off” so to speak in his review.  He was none to kind in many
of his remarks, preferring, it seems, the ad hominem method of
argumentation to a scholarly one.  It is possible, of course, that
since Mr. Watson has no graduate training in Greek (to my knowledge),
he had to resort to this argumentation, as he is unequipped to engage
the finer points of the argument.  Sadly, this inability shows up
often in his review, normally couched in an attack upon *my*
abilities at things that he himself has not studied.

        One final thing before we begin.  There are many ways of
defending a lost position.  Our current political administration in
Washington is very good at this very thing.  One means is to fill
pages and pages with written text, citations, etc., none of which is
actually relevant to the question at hand.  Indeed, Dr. Salmon put it
quite well in his book, _The Infallibility of the Church_:

        It is a common rhetorical artifice with a man who has to
        commend a false conclusion deduced from a syllogism of which
        one premiss is true, and the other false, to spend an
        immensity of time in proving the premise which nobody denies.
        If he devotes a sufficient amount of argument and declamation
        to this topic, the chances are that his hearers will never
        ask for the proof of the other premiss (p. 63).

Such a mechanism is, I honestly feel, responsible for the immense
amount of writing that has issued from Hugh Nibley’s pen regarding
the Book of Abraham, that still leaves the reader, if he survived the
labyrinth of rabbit-trails created by Nibley’s books, to ask, “But,
did Joseph translate the papyri correctly?”  It is sufficient for
many to simply know that “Dr. Nibley addressed that in a book…I
didn’t understand it at all…but as long as he wrote on it, there
must be an answer to the question.”  Such use of scholarship is
certainly not limited to the LDS Church, but it is offensive wherever
it might be found.  Mr. Watson, I feel, has learned well at the feet
of Dr. Nibley, and has filled his review with a great deal of fluff,
but tremendously little substance.  Having made such a statement, I
will proceed, unlike Mr. Watson, to demonstrate my point.

        Half of Mr. Watson’s review is taken up with issues *other
than* the point of my article.  I hesitated even to reply to these
sections, as I have found that normally the side-issues end up
obscuring the main point to such an extent as to accomplish that
which the reviewer wishes.  However, I knew that if I did not reply
to those sections, I would be accused of ducking substantive
criticisms, so I shall do that very thing.  However, rather than
replying to Mr. Watson’s posts in consecutive order, I will instead
bring the main issues back to the fore, and reply to them first, and
then “wrap up” the later accusations and charges.  In fact, I wish to
begin with a very pleasant surprise, that being Dr. Nibley’s short
note to Mr. Watson.

  Msg#: 12                                          Date: 08 Jun 93  15:18:45
  From: James White                                 
    To: All                                         
  Subj: Article Review #2
                      The Letter from Dr. Nibley

EW> When this topic first arose, I wrote to Dr. Nibley and asked
EW> whether he felt the translation of autes in Mt 16:18 as “hers” in the
EW> partative genitive was a viable interpretation, or whether he could
EW> have made an error.  I received the following reply:

I am very thankful that Mr. Watson wrote to Dr. Nibley, as I do not
have any idea if I would have been able to get as quick a response,
and I certainly doubt it would have been as revealing!  Here is the
text of the letter:

    Dear Brother Watson,
    When ministers start making Greek the argument, it is time to
    adjourn.  I have always found their training to be extremely
    superficial, usually applying to one book only in the most massive
    of ancient literatures, and read with a translation and dictionary
    at the student’s elbow.  There is no scarcity of instances in
    which the genitive is used in the same sense given in Matthew
    16:18.  _Katechousi_, used with gates cannot possibly mean
    anything but “hold back.”  Hold back what?  Again the object
    cannot possibly be anything but an accusative.  Yet for some
    strange reason here in all manuscripts, it is in the genitive or
    possessive.  Why?  Smythe’s Grammar, Sects. 1341, 1345, 1352 gives
    a number of examples in which a genitive is so used as an object
    to indicate things belonging to a larger category or body.
    Is there anything more fantastic than pinning one’s salvation
    on pedantic interpretations of an ancient language which has
    always given rise to endless hair-splitting and controversy?
    Yours truly,

    (Signed)  Hugh Nibley

Anyone who has read much of Dr. Nibley’s books surely recognizes the
inimitable style found here as well.  Dr. Nibley surely views himself
highly, that is for certain, and his superiority comes across clearly
in the words he writes.  Let’s look closely at what he says:

    When ministers start making Greek the argument, it is time to
    adjourn.  I have always found their training to be extremely
    superficial, usually applying to one book only in the most massive
    of ancient literatures, and read with a translation and dictionary
    at the student’s elbow.

One is very tempted to comment upon why Dr. Nibley would have such a
pedantic view of Christian ministers, but such topics are not for our
present review.  Suffice it to say that obviously Mr. Watson provided
Dr. Nibley with more than just a question, but also the background of
the question as well (how else would he have known a “minister” had
provided the challenge?).  We recognize that Dr. Nibley does not feel
that anyone outside of Zion is nearly as capable as himself (surely
that is what the above suggests to me), but I would like to suggest
that it would be far better to let the facts speak for themselves.
If it is found that Dr. Nibley can defend his position, that will
speak well for his scholarship.  If we find him avoiding the duty of
defending his position, we can decide that his comments are without

    There is no scarcity of instances in which the genitive is used in
    the same sense given in Matthew 16:18.

As I pointed out, when faced with a difficulty, affirm that about
which there is no doubt.  The issue is not “can the genitive be used
in a partitive sense?”  No one has denied such a statement.  The
question is, “Is `autes’ at Matthew 16.19 functioning as a

    _Katechousi_, used with gates cannot possibly mean anything
    but “hold back.”

I believe it is VERY important to note this statement on Nibley’s
part.  Unlike Mr. Watson’s far less strident statements in his
review, Nibley is straightforward in asserting that “katechousi”
“cannot possibly mean anything but `hold back.'”  Even Mr. Watson
noted that when the term is used intransitively it means “be strong,
powerful, gain the ascendancy,” and that “when used with the object
in the genitive, the meaning shifts slightly to “win a victory over.”
Mr. Watson was commenting on the definition in Bauer.  Yet, here Dr.
Yet, this is obviously untrue, as all lexical sources show.  Thayer’s
(p. 341) does not support Nibley, nor does Bauer.  Moulton gives
“prevail, gain mastery over” (p. 338).  Abbott-Smith gives “to
overpower, prevail against, prevail” (p. 241).  The new Louw-Nida
lexicon says:

        to prevail over something or some person so as to be able to
        defeat, with the implication that the successful participant
        has greater strength — `to defeat, to prevail over’…`on
        this rock I will build my church and not even death will be
        able to defeat it’ Mt 16.18 (p. 501).

  Msg#: 13                                          Date: 08 Jun 93  15:18:53
  From: James White                                 
    To: All                                         
  Subj: Article Review #3

Why does Nibley assert that it MUST mean “hold back”?  Because his
entire interpretation is based upon it, that’s why.  He is ignoring,
for theological, not linguistic or textual reasons, the fact that
“gates of hades” is not referring to a particular place, or even the
entrance and exit of hades itself.  Mr. Watson also ignores a large
part of the scholarly material on this subject as well, despite the
fact that he has often cited from Kittel’s TDNT, and yet it is the
TDNT that does such a good job summarizing the information on this
very topic!  But I am getting ahead of myself, as I shall demonstrate
this fully when replying to Mr. Watson’s specific charges.

    Hold back what?  Again the object cannot possibly be anything but
    an accusative.  Yet for some strange reason here in all manuscripts,
    it is in the genitive or possessive.  Why?

We here again see how much error can be created by producing an
interpretation, and then forcing that interpretation upon the text!
First he begins by insisting that the term must mean “hold back,”
when the lexical sources indicate that it means to “overcome” or
“prevail against.”  And why does it mean this?  Because of the use of
the genitive direct object!  Rather than being taught by the text,
Dr. Nibley has a goal, and is now working through the text backwards
to arrive at his goal!  By ignoring the use of the genitive with
“katischuo,” and insisting upon another meaning for the word, he now
goes back to ask why “autes” is in the genitive.  And his answer?

    Smythe’s Grammar, Sects. 1341, 1345, 1352 gives
    a number of examples in which a genitive is so used as an object
    to indicate things belonging to a larger category or body.

Yes, so?  Again, by providing a statement that no one has denied, Dr.
Nibley thinks to have answered the question.  Yet, it is
transparently obvious that he has not answered anything at all!  Of
course the genitive can be used as an object to indicate things
belonging to a larger category or body.  That is not the issue!  Does
Smythe’s Grammar list Matthew 16.19 as an example of this?  Does it
address the use of “katischuo” with the genitive of direct object?
Dr. Nibley does not say.

I honestly feel that Dr. Nibley’s response is a tacit admission of
his own unwillingness to admit error.  Nowhere in this material does
he provide a single piece of information that is supportive of his
thesis!  He does not address the fact that “katischuo” can take its
object in the genitive, and in fact regularly does.  He does not
support his unwarranted assertion that the term MUST mean “hold back”
rather than “overcome” as the sources indicate when used with the
genitive.  He does not support his identification of “autes” as a
partitive by merely mentioning that partitives exist–everyone knows
that.  Such argumentation is indicative of a person who is not able
to substantiate a long leap in exegesis, which is exactly what we
have in his comments on Matthew 16.19.

    Is there anything more fantastic than pinning one’s salvation
    on pedantic interpretations of an ancient language which has
    always given rise to endless hair-splitting and controversy?

Such a question is more properly addressed to he who pins his
salvation upon the truthfulness of one Joseph Smith Jr., and *his*
“pedantic interpretations.”

With Dr. Nibley’s remarks clear in our thinking, let us go to Mr.
Watson’s actual comments on Matthew 16.19 and my refutation of
Nibley’s error.

EW> As I see it, and as I believe Dr. Nibley intended, the proper
EW> interpretation of Matthew 16:18 is that the trailing “it” would be
EW> more properly translated “hers,” and refers to a portion of the members
EW> of the church of Christ.  They are hers, because as members of the
EW> church, they belong to her (the church).  Those referenced here
EW> constitute only a portion of the members of the church of Christ
EW> because not all of the members of the church of Christ are in Hades.

As we shall see later, NONE of the Church of Christ is in hades, nor
is that the point of the discussion at all.  But Mr. Watson’s
interpretation of Nibley is correct, and is in fact what I myself had
indicated in my article.

EW> In order to properly understand the connotation, it must be realized
EW> that gates are not an offensive weapon.  A fierce warrior does not ride
EW> out on a white horse brandishing a gate and proceed to hit someone over
EW> the head with it.

And just here enters the problem, both for Nibley as well as Watson.
By taking “gates of hades” as literally referring to gates, he misses
the entire point, a point made in one of his own favorite sources,
the TDNT:

        With this concept “pulai hadou” is a pars-pro-toto term…for
        the ungodly powers of the underworld which assail the rock.
        This interpretation is supported by the linguistic
        consideration that “katischuein” when followed by a genitive
        is always active (“to vanquish”) in Jewish Greek.  Hence the
        “pulai hadou” are the agressors.

The gates of hades, then, refer to the powers of death itself.  This
is very consistent with Biblical usage.  Note Isaiah 38:10:

Is 38.10 I said, “In the prime of my life must I go through the gates of
death (pulais hadou) and be robbed of the rest of my years?”

  Msg#: 14                                          Date: 08 Jun 93  15:20:02
  From: James White                                 
    To: All                                         
  Subj: Article Review #4

Extra-Biblical Jewish sources use the term in the same way, as
Jeremias noted in TDNT above.  Calvin correctly said:

        The pronoun it (autes) may refer either to faith or to the
        Church; but the latter meaning is more appropriate.  Against
        all the power of Satan the firmness of the Church will prove
        to be invincible, because the truth of God, on which the
        faith of the Church rests, will ever remain unshaken.  And
        to this statement corrsponds that saying of John, “This is
        the victory which overcometh the world, your faith” (1 John
        v.4).  It is a promise which eminently deserves our
        observation, that all who are united to Christ, and
        acknowledge him to be Christ and Mediator, will remain to the
        end safe from all danger; for what is said of the body of the
        Church belongs to each of its members, since they are one in
        Christ.  Yet this passage also instructs us, that so long as
        the Church shall continue to be a pilgrim on the earth, she
        will never enjoy rest, but will be exposed to many attacks;
        for, when it is declared that Satan will not conquer, this
        implies that he will be her constant enemy.  While,
        therefore, we rely on this promise of Christ, feel ourselves
        at liberty to boast against Satan, and already triumph by
        faith over all his forces; let us learn, on the other hand,
        that this promise is, as it were, the sound of a trumpet,
        calling us to be always ready and prepared for battle.  By
        the word gates (“pulai”) is unquestionably meant every kind
        of power and of weapons of war.

D.A. Carson noted:

        But “gates of Hades” or very similar expressions are found in
        canonical Jewish literature…and pagan literature…, and
        seem to refer to death and dying.  Hence RSV: “The powers of
        death shall not prevail against it.”  Because the church is
        the assembly of people Jesus Messiah is building, it cannot

The position taken by Nibley and Watson falls upon the simple fact of
the meaning of katischuo when taking its object in the genitive.  It
does not simply mean “hold back” as Nibley declares, and the “gates
of hades” are in fact the aggressors, for they represent the very
powers of death itself, which shall not overcome the Church founded
by the Lord Jesus Christ, Hugh Nibly, Joseph Smith, or Elden Watson,
not withstanding.

EW> Gates are a defensive weapon, and are utilized solely
EW> to either keep someone or something in a place, or to keep someone or
EW> something out of a place.  Since the place to which we are referring is
EW> Hades, I shall presume at this point that the someone or something is
EW> inside of Hades, wanting to get out.  (It seems irresponsible to
EW> consider the case in which someone or something is outside of Hades
EW> wanting to get in.)  In Dr. Nibley’s interpretation of Mt 16:18 then,
EW> some of the members of the church of Christ are in Hades, and want to
EW> get out, but the gates of Hades oppose them and try to keep them in.
EW> Christ declares that the gates of Hades shall not prevail against hers,
EW> and hence those individuals shall be freed from Hades.  In the original
EW> context, Dr. Nibley is relating this to those who become members of the
EW> church while they are in Hades, by vicarious baptism.

That is indeed Nibley’s position.  It is a position fraught with
problems, as we have seen.

EW> One additional point deserves consideration in preparation for what
EW> follows.  As we have seen above, something is in Hades and wants to
EW> get out.

Please note that Mr. Watson says, “As we have seen above.”  Actually,
all we saw “above” was his assertion, “I shall presume at this point
that the someone or something is inside of Hades, wanting to get
out.”  Mr. Watson takes an unsupported presumption, and then uses
this as the basis of his following comments.

EW> If the gates of Hades were to prevail, then that something
EW> would not be able to pass by the gates, and would be consigned to
EW> remain in Hades.  Christ has decreed that the gates of hades will not
EW> prevail, but that whatever it is that is in Hades will be able to
EW> prevail against the gates and extricate itself.

We note again that there is nothing in the text whatsoever that
speaks of people in Hades, wishes or desires to go in or out, or
extrications thereof.  This is pure eisogesis, based upon
presumption, depending upon rejection of clear grammatical and
lexical information.

EW> The something that is
EW> in Hades wanting to get out is the “it” of Matthew 16:18.  According to
EW> Mr. White’s interpretation, it is the church itself that is in Hades
EW> and wants to get out.

< chuckle >  It will be instructive to read Mr. Watson accusing *me*
of misrepresenting others, when he can come up with such a fanciful
statement as this!  The Church is not in Hades, and I have certainly
never given the slightest indication that this was my position.

  Msg#: 15                                          Date: 08 Jun 93  15:28:08
  From: James White                                 
    To: All                                         
  Subj: Article Review #5

EW> In Dr. Nibley’s interpretation, it is some of
EW> the members of the church who are in Hades and want to get out.  Of the
EW> two interpretations, I prefer that of Dr. Nibley, and would ask Mr.
EW> White how it is that the church finds itself in Hades in the first
EW> place.

Since the passage is not discussing where anyone is, but is instead
asserting that the gates of hades will not *overcome* the Church,
that is, defeat the Church, Mr. Watson’s question is irrelevant, and
his confusion, based upon his seeming unquestioning following of
Dr. Nibley, is understandable.  That Mr. Watson is clearly unfamiliar
with the interpretive history of this passage, and, it seems, has not
availed himself of the ready information on this topic, can be seen
from reading the following section from my article, and Mr. Watson’s

>      It must first be noted that Nibley’s interpretation of the
>  passage is not to be found in any stream of scholarly
>  interpretation, whether Protestant, or Catholic.  We are not aware
>  of a single scholar who attempts to say that the final phrase of
>  Matthew 16:18 is referring to anything other than the Church; that
>  is, that the “it” found in the phrase does not refer back to the
>  term “church” mentioned immediately before.  If Nibley is correct,
>  it is amazing that exegetes over the centuries have missed what
>  only he has discovered.
>      Mormons are, by and large, in awe of Hugh Nibley’s linguistic
>  abilities.  When Dr. Nibley says that the term “it” in Matthew
>  16:18 is “in the partitive genitive,” that _must_ be the case.
>  Yet, is it?  And why would literally thousands of scholars of the
>  Greek language have missed such a simple thing, leaving Dr. Nibley
>  to discover it?  And what of all those translations of the Bible
>  that do not catch this, seemingly, basic thing?

EW> It is indeed a little surprising that commentators have not
EW> recognized that the standard interpretation actually requires that the
EW> church of Christ be in hell.

I must conclude, then, that Mr. Watson is fully unaware of what the
“standard interpretation” is, for him to make such a statement!  Did
it not occur to him that maybe Christians over the years *have* given
serious consideration to this passage, and hence that it is rather
unlikely that one man in Utah, whose expertise seems to be
historical, rather than linguistic, would come up with a new and
startling viewpoint, unthought of before, to answer such an obvious
problem as the Church being in hades?

Now, Mr. Watson then attempts to create a problem that does not
exist.  In reviewing Nibley’s statements, I noted that he himself

>      Moreover, the thing which is held back, is not
>      the church, for the object is not in the accusative but in
>      the partitive genitive: it is “hers,” part of her, that
>      which belongs to her, that the gates will not be able to
>      contain.

Mr. Watson replied:

EW> First, Dr. Nibley nowhere says that the word “it” cannot refer to
EW> the church.  It is Mr. White who makes the unwarranted claim that Dr.
EW> Nibley has said that “it” *cannot* be referring to the church.  Dr.
EW> Nibley only asserts that it does not.

I must honestly say that this is double-talk.  Nibley is not sitting
down in an ecumenical meeting with others and saying “this MIGHT be a
way to understand it.”  Indeed, his letter to Mr. Watson made it
plain that there was NO WAY to understand katischuo as meaning
anything other than “hold back,” and hence it is hardly “Niblian” to
be simply *suggesting* an “alternative” understanding.  He says that
that which is held back is not the church “for the object is not in
the accusative but in the partitive genitive.”  I think saying what I
did is perfectly understandable, and proper, in the context of
Nibley’s own statements.

EW> The genitive is the case of
EW> possession, or description.  There are a lot of ways in which things
EW> can be described, and hence there are a lot of reasons for which the
EW> genitive may be used. Understanding the reason for the use of the
EW> genitive case in particular situations can strongly influence specifics
EW> of a translation.  Scholars frequently discuss different possible
EW> meanings of a passage depending upon why the genitive was used.
EW> Sometimes the distinction in meaning is minimal, and sometimes it is
EW> significant.

This is another example of majoring on what is not at issue.  No one
has denied the function of the genitive.  I have challenged Nibley’s
use of the genitive, and his identification of “autes” as a

  Msg#: 16                                          Date: 08 Jun 93  15:45:12
  From: James White                                 
    To: All                                         
  Subj: Article Review #6

EW> In this example, the Greek words do not vary, but their interpretation
EW> varies depending upon the reason the genitive was used.  Mr. White
EW> attempts to give the (incorrect) impression that there can only be one
EW> reason for the use of the genitive in Matthew 16:18, and that Dr.
EW> Nibley is wrong in offering another interpretation.

Dr. Nibley is not merely “offering another interpretation” as his
letter clearly demonstrated.  I was replying to Nibley’s assertion
that this is a partitive genitive, and demonstrating that such is not
the case, nothing more.  What Mr. Watson confuses as my attempt to
give an “impression” that there can only be one reason for the use of
the genitive is in reality my rebuttal of Dr. Nibley’s unwarranted
identification of the use of “autes.”

EW> Also, it is obvious from Mr. White’s comments in the above
EW> paragraph that despite the simplicity of Dr. Nibley’s argument, Mr.
EW> White does not understand it.

I believe any semi-unbiased reader will be able to determine the
accuracy of Mr. Watson’s statements.

EW> This will become even more apparent in
EW> his next paragraph.  Dr. Nibley is not suggesting that “church” and
EW> “it” should be in the same case at all.

I believe the logical outcome of his remarks would be that *if* Jesus
were indicating that the *church* is that which is not overcome by
the gates of hades, that it *would* have to be in the accusative.
Indeed, this is well supported by his own statement in his letter to
Mr. Watson:

        Hold back what?  Again the object cannot possibly be anything
        but an accusative.

Using terms like “cannot possibly be anything but” is rather clear to

EW> As I understand Dr. Nibley, he
EW> is simply stating that in the phrase “the gates of hell shall not
EW> prevail against it.” the word “it” is the direct object of “prevail
EW> against,” and as such should normally be in the accusative case.  The
EW> accusative is the case of the direct object as Mr. White has pointed
EW> out above.  If one were to say “the gates of hell shall not prevail
EW> against the church,” the words “the church” should be placed in the
EW> accusative case, simply because it is the direct object.  But in
EW> Matthew 16:18, the direct object (“it”) is not in the accusative, but
EW> in the genitive case, which means that the author is trying to tell us
EW> something different.

Or, as I pointed out, that the verb “katischuo” takes its object most
often in the genitive, and hence means “overcome” rather than “hold
back,” all contra Nibley.

As Mr. Watson will accuse me of having “no idea” what Dr. Nibley is
saying, I will produce the quotation of my own article:

>      What can be said about Dr. Nibley’s comments?  First, it is
>  apparent that Dr. Nibley is in error regarding how the antecedent
>  of a Greek pronoun is determined. /Footnote 10/  He says that “it”
>  cannot refer to “church” because there is a difference in cases,
>  “church” being in the accusative, and “it” being in the genitive.
>  Yet, as we saw before, pronouns agree with their antecedents in
>  gender and number, _not necessarily in case_.  The term “church”
>  is feminine in gender and singular in number; the term; “it” is
>  feminine in gender and singular in number.  Hence, Dr. Nibley’s
>  case is built upon a misunderstanding of a rule that is introduced
>  in the first semester of a beginning Greek course.  The “it” of
>  the final clause can indeed refer to “church” as all translations
>  and commentaries indicate.
>  /Footnote 10/  Given that Dr. Nibley is not extremely clear at
>  this point, we note the possibility that he is simply asserting
>  that [autos] is functioning in a different syntactical arrangement
>  rather than making an error about how to identify the antecedent.
>  However, Dr. Nibley’s specific comments seem to indicate
>  otherwise.

EW> The more Mr. White discusses Dr. Nibley’s interpretation, the more
EW> clear it becomes that he has no idea what Dr. Nibley is saying.  He
EW> therefore makes a series of errors relating to Dr. Nibley’s argument.
EW> First: Dr. Nibley is not in error regarding how the antecedent of a
EW> Greek pronoun is determined, he even utilizes the fact that “it”
EW> refers indirectly to the church (i.e. members of the church).

Please note the fact that while Dr. Nibley’s comments are not clear,
I felt it fair to provide footnote 10, reproduced up above, that
admits the fact that Nibley *might* be indicating something other
than the idea that “autes” cannot be referring back to “ekklesia.”
However, I still believe that Dr. Nibley was indicating that
“ekklesia” is NOT the antecedent of “autes,” and that part of his
argument was, at the time, that there is a case difference, a
difference that is not relevant to the determination of the

  Msg#: 17                                          Date: 08 Jun 93  16:05:03
  From: James White                                 
    To: All                                         
  Subj: Article Review #7

EW> Second:  Dr. Nibley nowhere says that “it” cannot refer to the
EW> church.  That is totally Mr. White’s assertion.  Dr. Nibley states
EW> that “it” relates indirectly to the church rather than directly.

Actually, since Mr. Watson wishes to be so specific, Dr. Nibley
nowhere states that it refers “indirectly” to the church, either.

EW> Third:  Dr. Nibley’s case is not based on a misunderstanding of any
EW> Greek rule, rather Mr. White’s comment is based on a complete
EW> misunderstanding of Dr. Nibley’ case.

Again, the semi-impartial reader will be able to determine if this is
the case or not.

>      Direct object.–Some verbs–those, for example, which
>      express sensation or perception ([akouo], hear; [geuomai],
>      taste; [aptomai], touch; etc); emotion and concern
>      ([splaggnizomai], pity; [epithumeo], desire; [kataphroneo],
>      despise; etc); ruling ([archo], rule; [kurieuo], be master
>      of, etc.); and so on–have a meaning which is related to
>      the root idea of the genitive case.  Such verbs may take
>      their direct object in the genitive rather than the
>      accusative case.  Example:  [tes _ekklisias_ tou theou
>      kataphroveite]; “Do you despise the church of God?” (1Cor.
>      11:22). /Footnote 13/
>  /Footnote 13/  Ibid., p. 36.

EW> For a proper understanding of the subject at hand it should be
EW> pointed out here that all transitive Greek verbs, and many
EW> intransitive Greek verbs can and do take a direct object in the
EW> accusative.  Some verbs, such as the ones Mr. White has listed above,
EW> can also be used with the genitive, in which case the meaning is
EW> somewhat modified.  Mr. White’s explanation would tend to make one
EW> believe that such a verb must take a genitive object, which is
EW> incorrect.

Please note that Mr. Watson’s “feelings” about what my explanation
would “tend” to make one believe are irrelevant to the accuracy of
said explanations, which were taken from recognized scholarly

Next Mr. Watson attempts to venture into the field of syntactical
constructions of a language that, to my knowledge, he has not studied
in a professional setting.  Given that he will make comments based
upon my own, I again provide the relevant portion of my article:

>      With this information at hand, can any conclusions be drawn
>  concerning Dr. Nibley’s claim that we are working with a partitive
>  genitive in Matthew 16:18?  Most certainly.  First, we note that
>  the passage bears none of the marks of a partitive genitive.
>  There is no idea of “it” being the whole of which some assumed
>  “thing” or “things” is a part. /Footnote 14/  The “it” obviously
>  referring back to the Church, as we have already seen.  Why, then,
>  is the term “it” in the genitive?
>  /Footnote 14/ Remember nibley’s attempted translation as “_part_
>  of her” and “_that which_ belongs to her.”  There is no “_that
>  which_” in the text.

EW> If we now compare Dr. Nibley’s interpretation with Mr. White’s
EW> comments in the above paragraph, we find that the passage in question
EW> does in fact bear all of the marks of the partitive genitive.

I am truly forced to “call Mr. Watson’s hand,” and ask quite
honestly how we can take seriously his assertions, when we have no
reason to believe that he is trained to recognize the signs of a
partitive genitive?  Indeed, this portion of my article was discussed
at length with a professor of New Testament whose field of specialty
is New Testament Greek itself.  This was his primary criticism of
Nibley’s statement: that there is nothing in the passage that would
lead one to syntax “autes” as a partitive genitive; that is, the
“signs” of the partitive are missing.  And now Mr. Watson would like
to tell us that they are there, when I personally have no reason to
believe that he knows what to look for in the first place!

EW> “Hers”
EW> is the whole membership of the church, of which those being opposed by
EW> the gates of Hades are a part.

Excuse me?  Where is “hers” in the text?  Where is “the whole
membership of the church” in the text?  Where is a membership
mentioned at all?  This is not exegesis and scholarly syntactical
study, this is amateur theologizing at its best.  If the “it” is a
partitive genitive, there must be some way of seeing this from the
text itself.  Where is the relative pronoun “that which” in the text?
It is not there.  How can we assume it?  We can’t.  There is no
reason to.  Nothing in the text *forces* us to.  Hence, as I said,
there are no signs of a partitive genitive, and Mr. Watson’s comments
only demonstrate the truth of the old saying, especially when applied
to Greek, “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.”

  Msg#: 18                                          Date: 08 Jun 93  16:12:54
  From: James White                                 
    To: All                                         
  Subj: Article Review #8

EW> As for Mr. White’s footnote,
EW> commenting that there is no “_that which_” in the text, it hardly needs
EW> comment. The word “hers” means, in English, “that which belongs to
EW> her.”  The fact that Mr. White finds nothing in the Greek text which
EW> can be translated “that which” demonstrates graphically that Mr. White
EW> is so engrossed in trapping Dr. Nibly in an error that he has neglected
EW> to consider the meaning of the very words he is translating.

An amazing statement, but one that is utterly without merit.  Mr.
Watson has failed to demonstrate any scholarship in this review, and
this is one of the plainest examples.  “Autes” does not mean “hers”
in the English sense of “that which belongs to her.”  This simple
error, made often by beginning students of languages, is glaring,
especially since Mr. Watson placed it in the context of ad hominem.
For “autes” to be translated as a possessive is the entire point: the
serious exegete must have a *reason* for such a translation, and the
lack of that reason is what is being discussed.  Mr. Watson’s
inability to follow the discussion does not amount to an error on my
part.  “Autes” is the object of “katischuo.”  “Katischuo” takes its
object in the genitive, and hence means “overcome.”  There is no
reason to take “autes” as a possessive.

>      It seems that Dr. Nibley simply did not do his homework in
>  identifying this as a partitive genitive.  Why do we say this?
>  A quick glance at any decent lexicon of the Greek language would
>  have provided him with the answer to the question, “What is the
>  syntactical function of [autes] at Matthew 16:18?”  The verb
>  (which Nibley specifically mentioned), [katischuo] (katischuo)
>  is the key to the problem.  The following is the definition
>  provided by Bauer, Arndt, Gingrich and Danker:
>      [katischuo] … 1. abs _be dominant, prevail_ (Polyb. 11,
>      13, 3; Ex 17:11; En. 104,6) [katischuon ai phonai auton]
>      _their voices prevailed Lk 23:23 (Antig. Car. 152
>      [katischuken a pheme]).  W. inf. fol. _be able, be in a
>      position_ 21:36.
>      2. used w. gen _win a victory over_ (Dio Chrys. 12[13], 4 al.;
>      Aelian, H.A. 5, 19; Wsd 7:30; Jer 15:18; Jos., Bell. 2, 464
>      [katischusas pleionon] = ‘conqueror of a superior force’; Test.
>      Reub. 4:11) [pulai adou ou katischusousin autas] (i.e., [tes
>      ekklesias) Mt 16:18 (s. on [pule] 1) [pases ponarias] Hv 2,3,2,
>      [k. ton ergon tou diabolou] _win the victory over the works of
>      the devil_ Hm 12,6,4. /Footnote 15/
>  /Footnote 15/  Bauer, Arndt and Gingrich, *A Greek-English Lexicon
>  of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature*
>  (University of Chicago Press, 1979), p. 424.

EW> Mr White is again so concerned with the grammatical and syntactical
EW> functions of the Greek that he pays little attention to the meaning of
EW> the sentence he is translating.

Or, as we have seen, Mr. Watson is so concerned about defending Dr.
Nibley’s error, that he cannot see that the meaning of the sentence
cannot be separated from grammar and syntax.  The meaning of any
sentence is derived from grammar and syntax, and since the grammar
and syntax tells us that the passage is providing us a genitive of
direct object, hence making “katischuo” translated as “overcome,” Dr.
Nibley’s position is shown to be without foundation, and hence in

EW> We call attention to the fact that
EW> the deleted portion of the definition above identifies katischuo as an
EW> intransitive verb with the basic meaning “_be strong_, _powerful_,
EW> _gain the ascendancy_”.  When used with an object in the genitive, the
EW> meaning shifts slightly to “win a victory over.”

And I call attention to the fact that Dr. Nibley contradicts this
very statement in the letter Mr. Watson provided later, though Mr.
Watson allows this contradiction to pass without comment.  We are
tempted to wonder if Mr. Watson believes Dr. Nibley a greater expert
on lexical matters than those who produced the Bauer/Arndt/Gingrich/
Danker lexicon.

>  While the above may look like some secret code to most, to the
>  scholar (which Dr. Nibley claims to be), the above is quite
>  significant.  First, note that the lexicon specifically identifies
>  a use of the verb _with the genitive_, and places Matthew 16:18
>  in this category.  If Dr. Nibley had taken the time to examine the
>  lexical sources, he would have discovered that [katischuo] takes
>  its direct object in the genitive!  And this is exactly what we
>  have at Matthew 16:18:  the gates of Hades will not overcome
>  ([katischuo]) it ([autes, genitive singular, referring back to
>  “church”).  Hence, we clearly have here the proper syntactical
>  category for “it” at Matthew 16:18: genitive of direct object.

EW> Mr. White makes it sound as though katischuo must in every instance
EW> take an object in the genitive, which is incorrect.

Please note the misrepresentation.  I said, “First, note that the
lexicon specifically identifies A USE OF THE VERB (emphasis mine)
_with the genitive_”.

  Msg#: 19                                          Date: 08 Jun 93  16:16:29
  From: James White                                 
    To: All                                         
  Subj: Article Review #9

EW> He also makes it
EW> sound as though there is only one possible interpretation of the
EW> genitive, which is also incorrect.

Mr. Watson’s inability to read scholarly material on the subject
should not translate into my supposedly trying to make things
“sound” this way or that.

EW> The proof of the translation is in
EW> the meaning, and I personally find little satisfaction in a
EW> translation which requires the church of Christ to be in Hades.

We note yet once again that rather than providing any linguistic
rebuttal of the information presented in the article, Mr. Watson is
forced to fall back upon a theological misunderstanding that is
purely his own to provide a basis for rejecting the clear syntactical
form of the text.  This is the mark of the untrained person venturing
into ground that is unfamiliar.  This is particularly reprehensible
in light of the arrogance displayed by Mr. Watson immediately

>      When this author first translated, and then syntaxed, this
>  passage, he identified the use of [autes] as the genitive of direct
>  object in opposition to Dr. Nibley’s claim.  In the writing of this
>  article, this identification was confirmed from the writings of the
>  greatest Greek scholar America has ever produced, Dr. A. T.
>  Robertson.  In his mammoth work, *A Grammar of the Greek New
>  Testament in the Light of Historical Research*, under the topic of
>  the genitive used with verbs, section 6, “_Verbs of Ruling_,”
>  /Footnote 16/ we read,
>      These verbs all have a distinct substantive-affinity like ‘be
>      ruler of,’ etc.  See further Lu. 22:25 for [kurieo] and
>      [exousiazo], Mt. 16:18 for [katischuo].
>  Here Robertson identifies the use of [katischuo] at Matthew 16:18
>  under the heading of the genitive with verbs (i.e., genitive of
>  direct object), confirming our own identification provided above.

EW> Well done Dr. Robertson.  It’s certainly a good thing you agreed
EW> with Mr. White and didn’t try to examine any possible alternative
EW> interpretations.

I seriously doubt that Mr. Watson has read even a small portion of
Dr. Robertson’s works.  He is speaking of things about which he knows
little, and that with a *tremendous* amount of confidence.  How does
Mr. Watson know that Dr. Robertson “didn’t try to examine any
possible alternative interpretations”?  Why does Mr. Watson have so
much trouble accepting the fact that “katischuo” is used with the
genitive as a direct object to refer to overcoming and prevailing?  I
think the answer is simple: he has thrown in his lot with Dr. Nibley,
and is dedicated to defending an error, and that to the last!

EW> Mr. White disallows alternative possibilities, even
EW> when it is apparent that he has not the slightest idea what you are
EW> talking about.

When one is outside of one’s area of expertise, and totally without a
substantive reply, always accuse the other person of being clueless.
Sadly, this is all that is left to Mr. Watson.

EW> He might very likely have misquoted you and made it
EW> appear that you said that your alternative interpretation is the only
EW> possible interpretation; accused you of making a grammatical error on
EW> something so simple that it is taught in first semester Greek classes;
EW> pointed out that you had not done your homework; given you a lesson in
EW> Greek grammar; and recommended that you admit your error and make
EW> changes in your mammoth work on the New Testament.  You would be lucky
EW> if he didn’t make a few slurs (totally unrelated to the topic of
EW> discussion) at your character in a footnote or two along the way.

Further “fluff” filler, and without any relevance to the fact that it
seems Mr. Watson is hoping that no one noticed that he could not
support Nibley’s assertion from the text, or from lexical or
grammatical sources.

            To conclude the central review of the debate:

Dr. Nibley erred in asserting that “autes” is a partitive genitive.
It is instead the genitive of direct object, used with “katischuo,” a
term that we have seen from many independent scholarly sources takes
a direct object in the genitive, and hence means “to overcome” or “to
prevail against.”

Dr. Nibley erred in asserting that “katischuo” MUST mean “hold back.”
The lexical sources prove this to be the case.

Dr. Nibley erred in saying that this passage, then, refers to members
of the Church who are in hades, who wish to get out, and can do so
only through baptism for the dead.

Mr. Watson erred in even attempting to engage a topic that requires
training and scholarship that he has not yet obtained.

I shall now turn to the secondary issues that Mr. Watson raised in
his review.

  Msg#: 20                                          Date: 08 Jun 93  16:31:54
  From: James White                                 
    To: All                                         
  Subj: Article Review #10
EW> When James White writes articles against the LDS Church, it would
EW> be easier for all concerned if he would get his definitions straight.

Here begins Mr. Watson’s ad hominem campaign.  As we shall see, it is
1) central to his attempt to save Dr. Nibley, and 2) without merit.

>      *The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints* claims to be
>  the only true Church on earth today.  All other churches are
>  apostate, and do not have the proper “authority” to do the works
>  of God.  Obviously, such a belief necessitates some explanation
>  of how the Christian Church ceased to exist, why, and how it was
>  re-established under Joseph Smith 1700 years after it supposedly
>  vanished.  Furthermore, the LDS belief requires some very heavy
>  re-interpretation of key biblical texts that plainly declare the
>  continuation of the Christian Church until the second coming of
>  Christ.

EW> I have heard the essence of Mr. White’s first sentence frequently
EW> expressed among Latter-day Saints, although the intended meaning and
EW> more accurate rendition is that The Church of Jesus Christ of
EW> Latter-day Saints is the only true and living church upon the whole
EW> earth, with which the Lord is well pleased (see D&C 1:30).

In point of fact, I had D&C 1:30 in mind when I wrote the first
sentence.  I simply did not take the time to cite the passage.

EW> After that
EW> point, Mr. White’s introductory paragraph goes to hell in a handbasket.

Hardly, as we shall see.

EW> Since he is claiming to state what the LDS Church believes, he really
EW> should use the words the way the LDS use them, or at least express the
EW> LDS ideas in his own words.  To a member of the LDS Church an apostate
EW> is an individual who has once received the true gospel through the
EW> acceptance of its ordinances, and then later rejected and turned to
EW> oppose it.  In a related sense, an apostate church is one which has
EW> been organized by apostates, falsely feigning the ordinances and the
EW> authority to perform them, as a counterfeit, for the purpose of
EW> opposing the true church and legitimate authority.  The Church of Jesus
EW> Christ of Latter-day Saints believes and teaches that there was a
EW> universal apostasy, which was complete by approximately the end of the
EW> third century A.D., in which all authority to perform ordinances in the
EW> name of God was lost.

Which, of course, is all I was saying in my opening paragraph.  I
simply wished to provide background for the non-LDS who would be
reading the article, and I reject any assertion that I was
purposefully, or accidentally, misrepresenting the LDS position.

EW> None of today’s Christian churches claim to
EW> possess apostolic authority, consequently, none of the churches which
EW> are designated mainstream Christianity today are or can be called
EW> apostate churches.

This statement is amazing for two reasons.  First, it is hard to
believe that anyone even marginally familiar with Christian Churches
could write (for public consumption no less!) the words, “None of
today’s Christian churches claim to possess apostolic authority.”  I
can only gather that Mr. Watson has not spoken with any Roman
Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, or Anglicans of late!  Indeed, even
other Protestant groups would claim apostolic authority via the
writings of the Apostles themselves.  Seemingly Mr. Watson thinks
that “apostolic authority” refers to having apostles, in which case,
he might wish to take his own advice, and “use terms” as we ourselves
use them.

Secondly, I am truly left to wonder as to why Mr. Watson would claim
that the LDS Church does not identify modern Christian churches as
“apostate.”  Bruce R. McConkie said of apostasy:

        Apostasy consists in the abandonment and forsaking of these
        true principles, and all those who do not believe and conform
        to them are in a apostate condition, whether they are the
        ones who departed from the truth or whether they inherited
        their false concepts from their apostate fathers (MD, p. 43).

And Mr. Watson accuses ME of not using terms as LDS use them?
Obviously my use of “apostate” was EXACTLY as used by a Mormon
apostle above!  But that is not all.  Allow me to provide quotations
supportive of what I said from Joseph Fielding Smith (_Doctrines of
Salvation_) and the current prophet, Ezra Taft Benson:

p2 Moreover, there have been times when it has been necessary for
covenants to be withdrawn, and man has been left to grope in
spiritual darkness without the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and
without the saving grace of the ordinances and covenants of the
gospel. Such was the case in Israel preceding the coming of John the
Baptist and Jesus Christ. The long dark day of apostasy, preceding
the middle ages and continuing until the restoration of the gospel
through Joseph Smith, was another benighted period of this

p1 WHY THE RESTORATION. The everlasting covenant had been broken;
the correct understanding of gospel principles had disappeared
through apostasy; the right to officiate in the ordinances of the
gospel had ceased among men. It became necessary that all this might
be restored, and that faith might increase among the people through
an opening of the heavens and a restoration of the gospel.167-2

  Msg#: 21                                          Date: 08 Jun 93  16:32:27
  From: James White                                 
    To: All                                         
  Subj: Article Review #11

conclusively proved, that there has been an apostasy, shows the
necessity of a restoration of the gospel. It is a remarkable fact
that Martin Luther, John Knox, John Calvin, the Wesleys, and the
other reformers who attempted to correct the evils of the Catholic
church, did not think of this great truth. It was left for Joseph
Smith to make the wonderful discovery.

p2 CHURCH AND KINGDOM RESTORED. The Lord taught Joseph Smith and his
associates that it is due to apostasy that these officers with their
authority were taken away; and when the Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints was restored, it was by divine command that
apostles, high priests, seventies and elders, were again ordained
and with authority sent forth to proclaim the message of salvation
to the nations of the earth.240-28

p2 At various times during the history of the world the opportunity
for mankind to receive the blessings of the gospel has been denied
them. For instance, during the time of the apostasy, following the
ministry of our Savior and his apostles down to the time of the
restoration, the opportunity for men to receive the remission of
their sins by baptism and partake of the other ordinances essential
to exaltation was impossible. The Church with its authorized
ministers was not on the earth. It is true that sim ilar conditions
have existed at other and more remote periods of time.

from the doctrine and practices of the Church of Jesus Christ of
former-day saints, it became necessary that there be an opening of
the heavens, and for the Lord to speak again, and by his own mouth
and the mouth of his ancient disciples again to restore the truth
which had been lost. In the apostasy, the authority to act in the
name of the Lord had been taken |P88away from the earth, and as John
saw in his revelation, the priesthood was ta ken back to God while
the Church of Jesus Christ had been driven into the wilderness.

p2 RESTORATION IN THE MERIDIAN OF TIME. According to this assignment
and the instructions given to Moses, the priests (i.e. sons of Aaron)
and Levites officiated from the day of their appointment to the days
of the coming of Jesus Christ. When our Savior came, he restored to
the Church all that had been taken away, and once again the fulness
of the priesthood with all of its blessings was given to men. As
Peter said, there existed again a “chosen generation, a royal
priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar p eople,” but this condition
did not continue long before apostasy once more destroyed it

p2 No event should have been heralded among the people with greater
effectiveness and received with greater evidence of joy and
satisfaction. The nations should have rejoiced and welcomed it with
gladness of heart, for with it came the establishment of divine truth
in the earth–the gospel of Jesus Christ, which is the power of God
unto salvation unto all who believe.255-51 The world had been
without this gospel for many hundreds of years, ever since the great
apostasy and turning away from the truth whic h had been established
by the primitive Church.

p4 Then once more came a departure from the Lord, and when the time
came for the appearance of the Son of God, they rejected him and
crucified him, but he again established his Church with a few who
were willing to follow him and sent them forth into all the world to
declare his gospel. Again, following the death of his apostles,
apostasy once more set in, and again the saving principles and
ordinances of the gospel were changed to suit the conveniences and
notions of the people. Doctrines were corrupted, authority lost, and
a false order of religion took the place of the gospel of Jesus
Christ, just as it had been the case in former dispensations, and the
people were left in spiritual darkness.266-4

P267APOSTASY FOLLOWING MERIDIAN OF TIME. It is within the power of
every intelligent man to know that following the days of the ancient
apostles there came a falling away, or an apostasy, from the
doctrines and practices in the primitive Church. History shows that
the priesthood which was organized by our Savior was corrupted, and
offices were created that were unknown in the days of the apostles
and which are foreign to the true Church of Jesus Christ.

P268UNIVERSAL NATURE OF APOSTASY. All the men holding the priesthood
should have a thorough understanding of the development of false
doctrine and the gradual change which took place, after the death of
the apostles, which transformed the Church of Jesus Christ into a
system as far removed from the primitive Church as are the poles of
our hemispheres. Nothing by way of ordinance and very little by way
of doctrine, given by revelation in the days of our Savior and during
the lives of the apostles, was left remaining. . . .

p2 SOME TRUTH IN ALL CHURCHES. All churches teach some truth,
whether they profess belief in Confucius, Buddha, the Greek and
Roman gods, or anything else; otherwise their churches would not
endure a month. The fact that they teach some truth does not make
them the Church of God. There is but one Church of God.271-17

  Msg#: 22                                          Date: 08 Jun 93  17:19:00
  From: James White                                 
    To: All                                         
  Subj: Article Review #12

declared that in the year 1820 the Lord revealed to him that all the
“Christian” churches were in error, teaching for commandments the
doctrines of men.283-46 The religious teachers taught that they
were in the way of light and truth, notwithstanding their many
conflicting creeds.


From Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson:

p7 So the world entered that long night of apostasy, the Dark Ages.
The church, no longer sanctioned by God, exercised an oppressive
tyranny on the minds of men and shackled them with chains of false
traditions. Truth was turned to superstition, joy to despair, and
worship to ritual. (This Nation Shall Endure, pp. 115-16.)

p2 Not only by history, which is quite conclusive, but through
prophecy also we have been informed definitely that there was and
there would be a complete apostasy from the truth.

p6 Following the great apostasy from the principles and laws of
Christ, the world became enslaved in a cloak of darkness. This long
night of Christian apostasy placed an oppressive tyranny on |P109|p1
the minds of men, which were shackled by chains of false priestly

P111|p1 Joseph was to learn that Christ established the Church in
former days when He was here on earth. Its members were called
Saints, but because of the wickedness of men the prophets were taken
away from the people and so revelation ceased, the scripture ended,
and the doctrines and creeds of uninspired men prevailed. As
predicted in the scriptures, there was an apostasy.

p2 Our missionaries go out into the world to proclaim that there has
been an apostasy from the truth, but that through the goodness of
God the heavens have again been opened and the gospel revealed unto
man through Joseph Smith, the Prophet.

I believe the above is plain in its import, and that what I said in
my article is perfectly in line with what was said by these leaders
of the LDS Church.

EW> Nor are they considered or thought of as apostate
EW> churches by adherents of the LDS faith.  Now, Mr. White may be able to
EW> find a few isolated instances that seem to contradict what I have said,
EW> nevertheless, the above statement is the overwhelming expression of
EW> both the church leadership and its members, both in the past and in the
EW> present.

I think the overwhelming expression of the quotations prior to this
is plain enough evidence of Mr. Watson’s error.

EW> Considering that Mr. White claims to have spoken with
EW> thousands of Mormons and to have read many LDS books by prominent and
EW> recognized LDS authors, I find it difficult to believe that he did not
EW> already understand our use of the word “apostasy” and hence I must
EW> conclude that his inaccurate description was intended to incense an
EW> ill-informed protestant public rather than to clarify the LDS viewpoint
EW> on the subject.

Such is far from the truth, as any semi-impartial reader can see.

EW> Moving right along, the rest of Mr. White’s second sentence is also
EW> an absurd mis-representation.  The LDS church does not, nor has it
EW> ever taught that authority is necessary to do the works of God.  Good
EW> works are independent of race, creed, gender, education, age or even
EW> disposition.

Please note the incredible double standard used here by Mr. Watson to
attack me.  First he says that I need to use terms as LDS use them.
Then, when I do that, he turns around and attacks me for that!  The
term “works” as I used it is PLAINLY about works that require the
authority of God!  I was speaking exactly as Joseph Fielding Smith,
quoted above:

        In the apostasy, the authority to act in the name of the Lord
        had been taken away from the earth,

I would think that any Mormon looking merely to understand what I am
saying would surely understand my words and not be so easily thrown
into a tizzy!

EW> We do believe that authority is necessary, but not for
EW> doing good works, which is the impression Mr. White wants to induce in
EW> his readers with the words “to do the works of God.”

I deny, plainly, that this was my intention.  Why Mr. Watson must so
badly misread my words, especially in light of the fact that we have
corresponded in the past about these same subjects, is truly beyond

  Msg#: 23                                          Date: 08 Jun 93  17:39:26
  From: James White                                 
    To: All                                         
  Subj: Article Review #13

EW> Mr. White’s statement is therefore strongly misleading at best,
EW> and simply wrong at worst.  Again, with Mr. White’s study of the LDS
EW> church, it is inconceivable that he did not understand this concept.

It is inconceivable to me that Mr. Watson could so badly misread my

EW> Having misled his readers about some of the basic teachings of the
EW> apostasy and the purpose of authority in the LDS church, Mr. White now
EW> leads them further awry by misrepresenting the basic nature of the
EW> apostasy.

Please note that Mr. Watson, having started out on the ad hominem
track, has little choice but to continue down that road.  I misled no
one to begin with; I accurately represented the LDS position.  And
now I deny having misrepresented the basic nature of the alleged
apostasy as well.

EW> He speaks of a requirement necessitated by the LDS belief,
EW> to explain how “the Christian Church ceased to exist,” knowing that in
EW> the minds of his Protestant readers this will mean the abolishment of
EW> every Christian organization, doctrine, tradition, teaching, writing,
EW> belief and even concept.

Mr. Watson’s abilities as a mind reader are no better than anyone
else’s I know.  Mormon leaders say the Christian Church ceased to
exist.  If Mr. Watson wants to expand that out to absurd lengths, and
then accuse me of something, I can’t stop him, but it is just a
little above absurd.

EW> That such did not happen is obvious to even
EW> the most casual observer.  Mr. White never bothers to inform his
EW> readers that the LDS understanding of the apostasy is based upon the
EW> loss of authority, not doctrines, teachings or beliefs.

Mr. Watson and I have discussed this in the past, so he is well aware
that I am familiar with the issue.  However, I feel a review of the
citations I provided above demonstrate that in LDS thinking, the
apostasy in doctrines, teachings, and beliefs was directly related to
the loss of authority.

EW> Once the early
EW> church lost the special authority to perform valid baptisms, then the
EW> apostasy was complete.  Mr. White does briefly address our belief in
EW> authority in his next paragraph, but he disassociates it completely
EW> from the topic of the apostasy, where it specifically belongs.

What Mr. Watson calls a “disassociation” I call a paragraph break.
I also call this entire section of his review “nit-picking.”

>      The Mormon belief lays heavy emphasis upon the doctrine of the
>  priesthood.  According to Mormonism, Jesus Christ ordained His
>  apostles to the Melchizedek priesthood, and this priesthood was
>  lost to the Church by the end of the second century.  Supposedly,
>  this priesthood was restored to the earth in 1829 when Peter,
>  James, and John gave it to Joseph Smith.  We cannot here address
>  the highly anti-biblical nature of this teaching regarding the
>  Melchizedek priesthood (we invite our readers to write and request
>  our tract, *What is Your Authority?* for further information).
>  Instead, we wish to focus upon how the LDS Church has undertaken
>  to defend this belief regarding a vanishing and then reappearing
>  Christian Church.

EW> I find it highly amusing that Mr. White has chosen to ignore the
EW> topic of the loss and restoration of priesthood authority (which
EW> constitutes the universal apostasy and subsequent restoration)
EW> preferring to focus instead upon the vanishing and then reappearing
EW> Christian Church, which, in the sense in Mr. White is using the words,
EW> has never been taught nor believed by the LDS Church.

I do not think it is particularly amusing that Mr. Watson wishes to
focus attention on non-issues.  I have not chosen to “ignore”
anything, as I have debated Mr. Watson on these issues on the MORMON
echo before, and hence his accusation has no merit, again.  I am not
sure why Mr. Watson feels he has editorial control over what I write,
and that I should somehow work outside of space constraints just to
meet his whims and desires.  But the fact remains that what I said
regarding the vanishing and re-appearing Christian Church is exactly
in line with what Joseph Fielding Smith said, for without the gospel,
you do not have the Church, and Joseph Fielding Smith said:

        The world had been without this gospel for many hundreds of
        years, ever since the great apostasy and turning away from
        the truth which had been established

EW> Mr. White
EW> now proposes to ignore the apostasy itself and examine instead some of
EW> its results, apparently intending to show that since not all vestiges
EW> of spirituality, belief and doctrinal comprehension vanished, there was
EW> no apostasy.

It is beyond me how anyone can expect to be taken seriously when they
write such obvious foolishness as this.  Anyone who read my article
knows that this is pure rhetoric, nothing else.

  Msg#: 24                                          Date: 08 Jun 93  17:40:20
  From: James White                                 
    To: All                                         
  Subj: Article Review #14

EW> Mr. White expresses his opinion that the LDS doctrine of priesthood
EW> authority is anti-biblical, a point with which I most thoroughly
EW> disagree.  That discussion will of necessity wait for another time and
EW> place.  I must remark however, before continuing with the present
EW> article, that if Mr. White’s advertised tract *What is Your
EW> Authority?* (which I have never seen) is as accurate and informative as
EW> the article presently under review has been thus far, I would be very
EW> hesitant to rely upon any of it’s claims.

Given that we have found Mr. Watson to be dealing with
misrepresentation on a grand scale all through this review, I can
only conclude that “What Is Your Authority?” must be well worth the

>      When faced with the concept of a universal apostacy [sic],
>  Christians often quote relevant passages of Scripture that would
>  contradict the LDS position.  For example, Paul wrote to the
>  Ephesians and spoke much about the Church.  /Footnote 1/  In the
>  third chapter he wrote:
>        Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all
>      we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work
>      within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ
>      Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
>      /Footnote 2/
>      It seems quite plain that Paul believed that the Father would
>  be glorified “in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all
>  generations.”  If the Church failed in its mission, and ceased to
>  exist for 1700 years, it is difficult to understand how the Father
>  would be glorified in the church *throughout* all generations.
>  /Footnote 1/  Indeed, LDS often cite passages from Ephesians 2:20
>  regarding the necessity of apostles in the Church, not realizing it
>  seems, that the passage says that the Apostles are part of the
>  *foundation* of the Church, and one lays a foundation only once, and
>  then begins to build the house upon it.  The Apostles continue to
>  function today, through their witness in Scripture, in a
>  foundational way.
>  /Footnote 2/  All quotations are taken from the *New International
>  Version,* unless otherwise noted.

EW> I don’t get the same thing out of Paul’s doxology in Ephesians 3:20
EW> that Mr. White does.  The purpose of Paul’s statement is to praise
EW> God, in this instance in the form of a prayer or a blessing.  Paul is
EW> essentially saying “May God be glorified through the church and
EW> through Jesus Christ forever, Amen.”  When you tell a bride and groom
EW> “May you have a long, happy and prosperous life together,” you are not
EW> prophesying that they will never be divorced, you are expressing to
EW> them your sincere hopes that they may not.  This verse is therefore
EW> inapplicable in the sense in which Mr. White is attempting to use it.

We have here a truly great example of LDS re-interpretation of
Biblical passages.  The text is plain for all to read:

Eph 3.20-21
20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or
imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,
21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all
generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

This is surely a doxology….and yet some of the greatest theology in
the Word comes from just such doxologies.  This is no mere “wish” for
a bride and groom!  Here Paul speaks of the great resurrection power
of Jesus Christ that is at work in believers, and hence in the
Church!  To the Father, Paul says, be glory in the Church and in
Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever!  Now, I
simply ask:  is the Father glorified in Jesus Christ throughout all
generations?  Of course!  Is there any possibility that the Father
would NOT be glorified in Jesus Christ throughout all generations?
OF COURSE NOT!  Therefore, will not the Father be glorified in the
Church throughout all generations?  Of course!  Is there any chance
of the Father NOT being glorified in the Church throughout all
generations?  OF COURSE NOT!  There is no need to twist the inspired
words around to attack the perpetuity of the Church.

EW> It is not a prophecy that the church will continue to exist throughout
EW> all generations.  That an apostasy of the church must occur before the
EW> second coming of the Savior is abundantly clear from several
EW> scriptures, one of the more clear being 2Thes 2:3:

EW> Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not
EW> come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin
EW> be revealed, the son of perdition;

Two things make Mr. Watson’s interpretation in error:  1) Who is the
man of sin, and when was he revealed?  2)  An apostasy does not equal
a TOTAL apostasy.  Indeed, the fact that apostasy was already a
present reality in the Church at the time of Paul shows that apostasy
can exist without it being UNIVERSAL.

  Msg#: 25                                          Date: 08 Jun 93  17:51:54
  From: James White                                 
    To: All                                         
  Subj: Article Review #15

EW> Mr. White brings up a by-the-way point in his first footnote which
EW> should be addressed, that of a foundation only being laid once, and
EW> then the house being built upon it.  Mr. White is stretching Paul’s
EW> metaphor beyond its applicability.

On the contrary, this is quite in line with Paul’s own use of the
term “foundation”:

1Cor 3.10-11
10 By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert
builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be
careful how he builds.
11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid,
which is Jesus Christ. (NIV)

Obviously, the foundation of which Paul speaks has *already been
laid,* and is not going to be laid again and again and again.  Hence,
the usage I made of the passage is fully in line with Paul.

Next we see something that is so very sad.  It is a common action of
the enemies of the Christian faith, for when they are pressed about
their errors, they inevitably attack the Word of God which convicts
them of their sin.  And so Mr. Watson does the same thing.  Listen as
he describes the Scriptures:

EW> It was not built upon a few of the collected extant
EW> writings of four of the apostles, supplemented by some additional
EW> writings about them by various and sundry interested persons, as Mr.
EW> White would have us believe.

He is referring to my citation of the following passage:

Eph 2.19-20
19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow
citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household,
20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ
Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. (NIV)

It is so sad to read someone referring to the foundation of the
apostles and prophets in the way Mr. Watson does!  And does he not
see that we are *built* (aorist passive participle) upon the
foundation of apostles and prophets?  The foundation has been laid,
and the house is now being built.  Again, perfectly consistent with
Paul’s own usage.

EW> It would have been difficult to build the
EW> church on a foundation of some documents that were not written until
EW> long after the church was already established.

Some documents?  Oh, Mr. Watson is referring to God-breathed
Scripture, which had been the possession of God’s people since the
days of Moses!  Maybe he forgot that 75% of the Bible existed when
Jesus was laid in the manger?

EW> If the foundation were
EW> to have been “only once” laid, then there would have been no reason to
EW> have replaced any of the apostles.

That is assuming, of course, that the foundation is a group, not the
truth itself of the Gospel.

EW> Again, if it were true that the
EW> foundation of the apostles and prophets must be first laid “only once”
EW> and then the church built upon it, as Mr. White’s statement would
EW> require, then I would be interested in knowing how any of the New
EW> Testament writings, which were all written long after the church was
EW> established, could be considered to contain any “foundational”
EW> material.

Mr. Watson again shows his deep ignorance of historic Christian
theology on this subject as well.

>      Surely if the Church ceased to exist for 1700 years, it could
>  be said with truthfulness that the “gates of Hades” did indeed
>  overcome the Church.

EW> But after the 1700 years Mr. White speaks of, the battle was not
EW> yet over.  That the saints were “overcome” was a planned temporary
EW> setback: planned, because it was predicted and prepared for.  In the
EW> 13th chapter of Revelation, we find the following:

EW> 7 And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to
EW> overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and
EW> tongues, and nations.

The book of Revelation has provided fertile ground for various cult
groups throughout the ages.  Mr. Watson provides us with no
contextual reason to think that this passage has anything to do with
the destruction of the entire church, nor that this event, if it is
even a prophecy, is a past event!

  Msg#: 26                                          Date: 08 Jun 93  17:52:25
  From: James White                                 
    To: All                                         
  Subj: Article Review #16

EW> All kindreds, and tongues, and nations I consider to be general.

General, yes; universal, no.

EW> And
EW> then in the following chapter (chapter 14) we read how the temporary
EW> setback was to be overcome and righteousness prevail in the end:

EW> 6 And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the
EW> everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and
EW> to every nation, and kindred, and tongue and people,

EW> Rev. 13:7 demonstrates that the apostasy was universal, and extended
EW> over every kindred, tongue and nation.

It says nothing of the kind, nor does it in fact even speak of an
apostasy at all!  Contextually, to the persecuted Church, the warfare
against the saints would more likely be external, not internal in the
loss of some supposed “authority” that the book of Revelation knows
nothing of.

EW> Rev. 14:6 demonstrates that
EW> the everlasting gospel was to be restored by an angel to every nation,
EW> kindred, tongue and people.  Why the necessity for an angel to restore
EW> the everlasting gospel to the earth if it were already here?

As if John were speaking of Moroni!  Again, I find this voyage into
wild interpretation of Revelation as interesting as the Jehovah’s
Witnesses confident assertions, and equally as compelling.

EW> Remember, “It ain’t over ’till the fat lady sings.”  It was not only
EW> prophesied that the church would fall into apostasy, it was also
EW> prophesied that there would be a restoration:

EW> And he shall send Jesus Christ which before was preached unto
EW> you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution
EW> of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy
EW> prophets since the world began.  (Acts 3:20-21)

Given that the holy prophets since the world began did not know of
the Church, as Paul himself taught, the supposed “restoration”
thereof certainly could not have been included in their prophecies.
Furthermore, this passage is in reference to the second coming of
Christ, which has not yet taken place.

While it would be highly instructive to point out Mr. Watson’s use of
ad hominem to avoid points (such as his “Fortunately, most people
find criticisms by someone less than a tithe of their stature hardly
worth noticing” so as to avoid a substantive criticism of Nibley’s
highly questionable historical statements) and his lightly brushing
off Nibley’s penchant for ignoring original contexts, I will close
with only this last statement on his part:

EW>  I would only point out that Dr. Nibley was publishing articles
EW>  in Greek before Mr. White cut his first tooth….

That may very well be true.  Of course, the New World Translation of
Jehovah’s Witnesses was published before I was a gleam in my daddy’s
eye, and that has absolutely positively nothing at all to do with the
fact that I am fully capable of criticizing its many errors.  Dr.
Nibley is certainly my senior.  But unlike Mr. Watson, I prefer to
allow one’s scholarship to speak for itself.  Dr. Nibley had an
opportunity to admit his error and retract it.  Instead, he has
decided to “go down with the ship” so to speak.  That’s his choice,
and it is Mr. Watson’s choice to sink with him, if he wishes.  But
claims of “seniority” have little to do with truth, as I’m sure that
Mr. Watson is aware.  Dr. Nibley erred, and no amount of insults, ad
hominems, or smokescreens can obscure that simple fact.

James White

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