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Strangite Teachings about Jesus (Part 5 of 6)

Most Christians believe that God, not Joseph, is the biological father of Jesus.  I was surprised to learn that Strangites break with most Christians on this important point.  Historian Bill Shepard will tell us more about Strangite beliefs about Jesus.

GT:  I remember reading in your book that Strangites believe that God has a body of flesh and bone.

Bill:  That’s right.

GT:  So that would be very similar with the Utah church, in that regard.

Bill:  Yeah, it’d be similar, particularly with The Lectures on Faith, the first and sixth Lectures on Faith.

GT:  It’s interesting that you say that because I remember when I read Lectures on Faith, it seemed very Trinitarian to me.

Bill  60:14  I think it was, but it was saying that God cannot change. Where the difference would be, the Brighamites, with the eternal progression–I’m not shooting at Brighamites. I’m just saying that that the idea comes in that God can change.  There can be evolution in God, where the Strangites, of course, would be so strongly different is that God cannot change.

GT:  Okay.  So let’s move on to Jesus, because what you said, I think it is a very different belief with regards to Jesus.  Jesus was the son of Joseph and Mary, like the literal son, not [the son of] Mary and God.

Bill:  Yeah. That’s right.

GT:  I think that’s really surprising to people.

Bill:  The idea of the immaculate conception, Isaiah 7:14, “A virgin shall conceive and bear a child and it shall be [called Immanuel].”  So this idea is rejected. That prophecy is fulfilled. It was given to Ahaz and it was fulfilled at that time, and it was plucked out by the evolving Christian Church to make Christ more palatable to people who believed in virgin birth. So Strang is going to teach that Jesus…I think there’s a lot we don’t understand or maybe I don’t understand, but that Jesus is born in the natural way. Whether it was through administered by angels or something, but he is going to realize that, as he is evolving, that he is special. The Book of the Law is going to say that, during this period, that Jesus was wholly harmless, and without sin.  He never stepped aside once from the path of rectitude to do a single evil deed.  Jesus would never do anything to imperil his brethren and so forth like this. We believe that Jesus is caught up by the angel, taken into the wilderness, the 40 days, the 40 nights. We believe that he is ordained by an angel.  We don’t know when, but that when he comes out of the wilderness, he is armed. He is a first-degree law-giver prophet, or the prophet. He is not God. He is armed with the priesthood and through the power of the priesthood, and his immaculate good works. Again, the phrase the Strangites like to use is wholly harmless, and without sin. He is never stepping aside from the path of rectitude to do a single evil deed.  Christ maintained this sinless mortal life. Because he was able to maintain this with total allegiance to God, the relationship that he never seemingly took [upon himself], he gave the credit to God. So anyway, at the Mount of Transfiguration, the Strangites believe and it talks when Peter, James and John go to a high mountain apart, they believe that God appeared, himself, and ordained him.

GT: Ordained Jesus?

Bill:  [The angels] ordained Jesus to be the Son of God. He is elevated by the power of the priesthood. We say Jesus did not have his full power at that time. Strangites would say that it is only after he is resurrected, the only person Christ would resurrect. With the resurrection, Jesus is going to say to various people that he is now perfected, because he has the keys of death and hell. So he came by this on his total faith that he would be resurrected. They believe that the person that appeared to Peter and the other people and the ladies and so forth, that this was, indeed the Son of God.

Check out our conversation…

Strangites don’t believe in the Immaculate Conception. James Strang taught Jesus had human parents like everyone else.

Don’t miss our other conversations with Bill!

400: Martyrdom of James Strang (Shepard)

399: Strang’s Prophetic Role as Translator (Shepard)

398: Strang’s Mormon Missions (Shepard)

397: “The Other Mormons”-Intro to James Strang

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Myth of the Lambing Season (Part 5 of 5)

We’re finishing our conversation with Dr. Jeff Chadwick, a New Testament scholar at BYU.  We’ll talk about what he calls, the myth of the lambing season.  How cold is it in Israel in December?

Jeff:  The average day in Jerusalem in December and January is partly cloudy with green grass and jacket temperatures, nothing like the winters of Utah and Idaho. That brings up another thing and this is what I call the myth of the lambing season.

GT: Oh really?

Jeff:  Yeah, because, you know, the idea that Jesus was born in the Spring, was not unique to Latter-day Saints in the 1800’s. Others were suggesting this as well. Protestant writers in America familiar with freezing North American winters, because they were usually from New England or somewhere like that, couldn’t imagine how shepherds could be in the fields abiding by their flocks in December, “Aww, just much too cold. No shepherd could be out with his flocks in December,” they ruled. So, it must be in the springtime because spring is when the lambs are born and since Jesus was the lamb of God, that’s when he would have been born, too, is in the spring. This, of course, plays in really well with the tradition among the Latter-day Saints that Jesus was born in April. The problem is it’s an entire falsity. The reason why is that shepherds did and still do go out with their flocks all Winter long.

I have stood in the fields outside of Bethlehem on several Christmas Eves because I get to be there from time to time and the shepherds are out there with their sheep and little lambs have been born already in December. They don’t wait. Now here in our climate, just because of the way that the lambs and the sheep bear, they’ll wait until it’s a little warmer and they’ll lamb in March and April. But that’s not the way that it works in the holy land because the climate doesn’t require it. Biology works partially because of its climate.

We’ll also talk about what projects he is working on.  Check out our conversation…

Would shepherds really be in their fields in December?  Isn't it too cold for that?
Would shepherds really be in their fields in December? Isn’t it too cold for that?

Check out our other conversations with Dr. Chadwick!

234: Is Christmas a Celebration of Sun? (Chadwick)

233: How Jesus’s Death Relates to his Birth Date (Chadwick)

231: Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith, & Birth of Christ (Chadwick)

229: Was Jesus Born in December? (Chadwick)

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Is Christmas a Celebration of Sun? (Part 4 of 5)

Many people have said that Dec. 25 is an old Roman holiday celebrating the Sun in the sky.  Did the Catholic Church co-opt this holiday for their own religious purposes, or are there reasons to believe Jesus might have been born in December?  Dr. Jeffrey Chadwick, New Testament scholar at BYU answers that question.

GT:  So do Catholics believe Jews was born in December?

Jeff: Yes.

GT:  Really?

Jeff:  Well, you know what Christmas means? Christ’s mass. They traditionally date Jesus’ birth to December.

GT:  I’ve always heard the Christmas came about because it was a pagan holiday of the Sun God, and it was December 25th. Was there some Roman [holiday]….

Jeff:  Well, this is certainly true. December 25th was Sol Invictus in the Roman pagan notion. But the Roman Empire became Christian right, by the fourth century. Particularly when Constantine comes in there, Christianity becomes even the preferred religion. But long before that, the notion that Jesus had been born in early winter existed within Christianity. The problem, I think, is that they didn’t know just when. The reason for this is that by the end of the second century, Christianity had become totally Gentile rather than Jewish, which was the way Christianity started out.

We will talk further about early Catholic/Christian beliefs about Christmas.  Dr. Chadwick doesn’t think it’s a problem that Christians re-appropriated a pagan holiday.  What do you think?  Check out our conversation….

Did early Christians appropriate a pagan holiday for Christmas? Do Catholics really believe Jesus was born in December?
Did early Christians appropriate a pagan holiday for Christmas? Do Catholics really believe Jesus was born in December?

Check out our other conversations about the first Christmas!