FRED - I would like to make a comment on your answer to “James”
concerning Peter and Jesus’ “rock” statement.(Matt 16:16-18)
You may take this however you wish but I believe this answer, while good, is slightly incorrect. Specifically, I take issue with the idea that it is “revelation” Jesus was speaking of. Though I do not purport myself to be a great biblical scholar (I have a family to support and that takes far too much time that I cannot spend immersing myself in scripture), I do take it seriously enough to employ a significant amount of time daily in scripture study, meditation, prayer and reference work.
The point I wish to make is that it is much more likely that Jesus was referring to the answer of fact that was expressed by Peter. That being Peter’s answer that Jesus was “the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Also pay close attention to the word chosen –the Greek for rock- when you read what I think he meant. In effect Jesus was saying:
16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the bSon of the living God.
17. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed [it] unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.
18. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter (worthy of a name which means rock), and upon this rock (the fact that he is the Christ, the Son of the Living God) I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (Matt 16:16-18)
Though it is an important and significant thing that Peter had received this revelation, heavenly revelation itself is built upon truth, that foundational truth was none other than the fact that Jesus was the Christ that was foretold.
As for the relationship to the first Vision of Joseph Smith of Jesus and God the Father, I also believe it to be the same case. Joseph had faith, believed and had a testimony of Jesus Christ before his revelation. It was the uncommon extant of his willingness to go to lengths not taken by other seekers in the near past to completely trust that faith and to take action on it that lead to the revelation. And that faith was in the Divinity of Jesus as the Christ. Christ is and can be the one and only foundation of Christ’s church as any church may claim and receive revelation but only those in the church of Christ or on the path to finding it will receive divine revelation. Christ is the Son of God regardless of if any mortal man receives such a revelation and that fact does not change or is not made more true if one does. Trust in and faith in Christ by a true seeker will always, eventually lead that seeker to the church of Christ , as it did Joseph.
I hope you don’t think I am splitting hairs here but I really do think there is a significant difference between a church built on revelation and a church built on the fact that Jesus is the Christ.
JOEL - In opposition to the Roman Catholic interpretation of those scriptures(Peter being the "rock") is that of Martin Luther, and the Protestant interpretation, namely, that the "rock" represents Jesus or the knowledge that Jesus is the Christ, as you suggest.
You make a good point, and as I have explained elsewhere, Jesus has also been identified as a rock in the scriptures. Speaking to the saints in Ephesus Paul said:
"Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;
And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;" (Eph 2: 19-20)
And in Corinthians:
"And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ." (1 Cor. 10:4)
These are the scriptures the Protestants use to back up their interpretation. However, even though Jesus is the Christ, the son of the living God, and is indeed the source of all that is true; and the literal rock or corner stone of His Church; the method by which He built up His church was through revelation to His prophets. And in this instance Jesus seems to be refering to the method by which Peter realized that He was the Christ, rather than to Himself. There are other scriptures where the word rock is used that do not appear to be refering to Christ directly. In the Doctrine and Covenants Jesus said:
"Therefore, fear not, little flock; do good; let earth and hell combine against you, for if ye are built upon my rock, they cannot prevail." (D&C 6:34)
God seems to be speaking of something else here(revelation?) besides Himself when He refers to "my rock".
To suggest a compromise, we could say that the "rock" refers to both the source (Jesus Christ) and the method (revelation that comes from Him) by which He builds His church. I understand what you are saying but I must also respect what past LDS prophets have said:
President Lorenzo Snow:
"Permit me to quote what Jesus promised, viz: "Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And upon this rock I will build my Church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." Peter had obtained a revelation which Jesus called a Rock, which every man might receive individually for himself to build upon, with perfect assurance and safety—on which he could anchor his hopes and prospects of salvation. Peter, on the day of Pentecost, promised the Holy Ghost to those who would repent and receive baptism. That principle imparts the knowledge or the rock of revelation upon which the Savior declared His people should be established; and we constitute the only religious community which dares to assume this Scriptural position." (Lorenzo Snow, Journal of Discourses 26:376, March, 1886)
Joseph Smith Jr.:
"John was a priest after the order of Aaron, and he held keys of the priesthood, and came forth preaching repentance and baptism, for the remission of sins, but at the same time cries out, "There cometh one mightier than I after me, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose," and Christ came according to the words of John, and he was greater than John, because he held the keys of the Melchizedek Priesthood and kingdom of God, and had before revealed the priesthood to Moses; yet Christ was baptized by John to fulfill all righteousness; and Jesus in his teaching says: "Upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." What rock? Revelation."(Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 273-74. )
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