Ravi Zacharias at the Mormon Tabernacle

In 2004 Ravi Zacharias was allowed to speak in the Mormon Tabernacle. This video includes the entire program from that event including Richard Mouw’s controversial comments.

Probably my favorite line from the sermon was “Once you get to heaven and see Jesus Christ, you won’t care to have any other roommate.”  That so expresses my impression of the banality and baseness I find in the Mormon promise of eternal marriage.

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166 thoughts on “Ravi Zacharias at the Mormon Tabernacle

  1. “Once you get to heaven and see Jesus Christ, you won’t care to have any other roommate”

    I think this kind of talk is useful for expressing the primacy of God over all things but is actually theologically untrue at one significant level. In the Garden of Eden all Adam had was Jesus. But he was created to feel inadequate with Jesus alone. The fulfillment of the human experience is, no doubt, supremely in the enjoyment of God, but only in the context of human community. We are most happy worshiping God in the context of shared joy. This is not because God is limited, but because we were created by God to be communal, probably to partially reflect the intra-personal communal nature of the Triune God.

    The problem for me is when a religion like Mormonism promotes being with family in the afterlife at the expense of a blood-earnest, explosively passionate worship of God. That they give this up is understandable. The god of Mormonism is not that awe-inspiring. He feels more like an exalted peer than he does an Almighty God.

    Also, by promoting union with family through temple ordinances, Jesus is dishonored. In Biblical Christianity, when become sealed to Christ by faith, we become sealed to all those who are sealed to Christ by faith. Not through a temple, but through a person.

    The irony here is that the intense worship and focused enjoyment of God—the Most High—will ultimately be the only thing that can make for a truly happy heavenly family. I’ve never been happier with my wife, for sure, than when intensely worshiping God alongside her. By hard-heartedly refusing to worship the God of the Bible, Mormons unwittingly give up a sealed heavenly family!

    Grace and peace in Jesus,

    Aaron

  2. Tim,

    Did you really call eternal marriage base? That seems pretty extreme if I am understanding you correctly. What exactly do you mean by that statement?

    TYD

  3. Did you really call eternal marriage base?

    Yes I did. Since the thought is being commented on I’ll address it. Jack actually thought I was over the line with that sentence and asked me in private to reconsider having it in the post. I do think I stated my thoughts in an offensive manner and for that I apologize. While I do think eternal marriage is base and banal compared to meeting Jesus, Mormons do not and I should be more respectful of your beliefs and the things you cherish. Again I apologize for treating your treasures so carelessly.

    If I may, I’d like to explain what influenced my thought. Imagine that you experience a lightening strike within 20 feet of where you are standing and you live to tell about it. The sound, light and power of that experience would easily bring you to your knees. Now imagine coming into contact with the creator of the universe, the most awesome, loving, righteous and powerful being ever known in existence. Your knees would hit the ground even faster and the rest of your body would quickly follow, the compulsion to worship such a being would be automatic.

    Your reaction to being in His presence would make even the lightening strike seem base and banal. It would be so ordinary in comparison, it wouldn’t be worth talking about. Likewise I doubt you will care whether or not you are married and the worst suffering you may have experienced will seem petty. You have Jesus!

    That explanation does not excuse my offense but hopefully it will cast greater understanding on it.

  4. I remember when LDS historian David Whittaker asked me and my wife if we thought heaven would be heaven if we weren’t married.

    We looked at each other, looked and him, and said, “Yes.” We’d be with Jesus and we’d be with all the saints.

    He really didn’t know what to say.

    Then my wife made me proud. She said, “I don’t want to be married to Aaron when I go to heaven.”

    We giggled but we knew she was serious. And I wasn’t offended in the least bit.

    I was proud of her and one in Spirit with her!

  5. Tim, your explanation fails at both excusing the extremely offensive way you treat my marriage and in explaining why you think my marriage is so pointless. Because no matter how you try to recast it, when you say that Mormon marriage is banal, you are calling it trivial.

    Now, I realise that you did say that you consider this banality to only exist when compared to the experience of meeting Jesus, but then, how does this not apply to all marriage? How is it that my LDS marriage is “base and banal when compared to meeting Jesus” but other marriages are not?

  6. How is it that my LDS marriage is “base and banal when compared to meeting Jesus” but other marriages are not?

    They are. My marriage is base and banal compared to an encounter with Jesus. My parents’ marriage is base and banal compared to an encounter with Jesus.

    I didn’t say marriage was pointless, I said it won’t matter to those who come face to face with their creator. I love my wife dearly but a life and eternity with her is frankly pathetic compared to a life and eternity with Jesus. She would say the same of me.

  7. Tim’s attitude toward marriage is requisite of the disciple’s heart:

    “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26)

  8. Alex,

    Out of curiosity, if you and your spouse were married civilly (sans temple marriage) would you consider it banal?

    If yes, you just insulted your spouse.

    If no, what is your point?

  9. So pretty much everything is banal, then. Kinda renders your original assertion banal then, too. Ironic, that.

  10. For the record, I understand what Tim is saying. I’m in agreement with his view on the matter and I have no desire to be married to my husband in heaven, and that has nothing to do with not liking him. I firmly expect to find that Jesus Christ is all I ever really wanted or needed, that my current desires and needs are going to pale in comparison.

    But when I saw this post, I knew that “banal and base” was not going to go over well, even if there was a good reason for it. That’s why I expressed my concerns to Tim.

    There is one point where I’m not sure I like how Tim puts it. Tim calls all marriage banal and base, and to some extent that may be true. However, one of the purposes I see in my marriage is that it’s a type for the union between Christ and the church. That makes it incredibly meaningful and valuable to me. I’m not waiting for my marriage to be dissolved and eradicated in the next life; I’m waiting for it to be fulfilled. It’s a spark when the thing to come is a blazing fire. A spark can’t really help being just a spark in comparison to a fire, but it’s good for what it is.

    (Cue Seth to come in here and rant about how evangelical Christianity posits a giant emotional orgy in the next life…)

  11. Aaron has “lovingly” informed us that Jesus has commanded us to hate one another, including ourselves. I don’t know how to escape such a proof-text! Ah!

  12. David Clark,

    I do not consider any marriage to be banal, regardless of setting or method.

    Tim,

    For you to say an eternity with your wife is pathetic when compared to an eternity with Jesus is setting up a ridiculously false premise.

    LDS theology does not present a choice between an eternity with family or an eternity with God. The choice is between an eternity with God and family or an eternity with neither God nor family. The former is possible only through devotion to our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, while the latter is through devotion to anyone or anything else.

  13. Alex, I fully expect to be with my wife and family for eternity. I expect that we will know one another and love one another far beyond what we are capable of experiencing together now. Whether or not she gets to be my roommate will seem irrelevant to seeing Jesus.

    To me, in perspective of being with Jesus, it’s a bit like wondering if I’ll get to wear my favorite jeans. That’s how awesome Jesus is, that my marriage will be on the same level of my brand of toothpaste. How awesome must Jesus be to make that happen!?!

  14. Alex,

    It’s actually not such a false dichotomy. Correct me if I am wrong here. Abraham 3:9 posits that God lives near the star Kolob. D&C 130:9 posits that the earth will be made into the celestial kingdom, and I assume that means it is where those who make it to the highest degree thereof will live. Unless the earth is that place near Kolob, the celestial kingdom is not the same place as the place where God (meaning God the Father) resides.

    Now D&C 130:9 does say that this earth “will be Christ’s.” I guess that can mean that He will reside here. In that case you can have family and Christ, but not God (again assuming the place near Kolob doesn’t imply earth).

    Cue accusations of me reading the scriptures like a literalist fundamentalist puke. In my defense I am not defending that particular interpretation, merely showing that to assume the dichotomy is not without some justification in Mormon scripture.

  15. Tim — I think you’re a decent guy, and I think you understand LDS thinking far better than do most evangelicals. But, frankly, I think what you have done is take a cheap shot by suggesting that a belief in eternal marriage (which I’m looking forward to, by the way) is somehow mutually exclusive with spending eternity with our Heavenly Father (which sounds terrific as well).

    The logic seems to be this:

    1. Mormons emphasize eternal marriage.

    2. Eternal life really means living with the Creator of the universe for eternity, and that’s pretty awesome. Nothing in after-life marriage could compare with that.

    3. Therefore, Mormons believe in something that’s base and banal.

    I’ll probably regret doing this, but I’m going to take a similar cheap shot. I’m doing this not to insult you (I actually like and respect you), but to show the flaw in your logic. If you had asked me for advice before writing your post, I would have said to merely offer a testimony of what you believe heaven to be and let the awesomeness of it all speak for itself rather than drawing some sort of a false comparison with Mormonism.

    Here’s my cheap shot:

    If I look at the web site for your church, I see that by far the largest portion of the “above-the-fold” area showing on my screen is a big block devoted to sex for college-somethings and taking up about 40 percent of the screen area. (And, interestingly, the word that’s in the biggest type, elsewhere on the page, is “Hollywood.”)

    So what am I to conclude about that? That what your church emphasizes is youthful sex and, secondarily, Hollywood? So who’s emphasizing the base and banal?

  16. I think you could make a better cheap shot than that. ;) Seth’s “giant emotional orgy” is much more scandalous and much more offensive.

    I agree I didn’t express myself or my view of heaven in a way that would capture the imagination of Mormons and cause them to get caught up in it as well.

    I’m not going to blame Mormons for taking offense when that was what I was offering.

    I don’t think eternal marriage is mutually exclusive to an eternity with Jesus. I think it’s more than reasonable for someone to say all the same things about eternity with Jesus that I said and tack on we-will-continue-to-be-married. Those clearly aren’t exclusive ideas. What I painfully failed to express was that they are incomparable.

  17. and yes, the congregation at my church is obsessed with sex and Hollywood. Materialism as well. Which is why we talk about them.

  18. “and yes, the congregation at my church is obsessed with sex and Hollywood. Materialism as well. Which is why we talk about them.”

    Isn’t the whole world obsessed with sex and Hollywood.

    Who doesn’t like sex and/or a good movie?

    On the baseness of the Mormon promise.

    When you are dealing with an unimaginable ecstatic experience you can always one-up somebody else’s unimaginable ecstatic experience.

    Since there is no experiential standard we have access to, How can we possibly “tell” whether the Mormon Terrestrial kingdom is as good as or worse than the Evangelical vision of heaven.

    Where is the scriptural basis for determining that being with Jesus is so much better than being with a being who has been exalted to sit with Jesus on his throne?

    And where is the basis for saying that we can tell the difference.

    Maybe the Mormon Exalted mind has more capacity to understand cool experience than the Evangelical heaven-dweller, therefore in theory the Evangelical heaven-dweller thinks he is in heaven with a relationship with Jesus that pales in comparison with that of her spouse but if she had just been exalted she would be able to experience so much more cool stuff as to make the “Jesus alone” relationship pale in comparison to the Celestial Kingdom experience.

    It all seems like a silly game of my heaven is better than your heaven.

    It so easy to make these claims without any possible scriptural basis or actual understanding.

  19. This seems like the same type of rhetorical technique used in the Mormonism is a cult meme.

    The technical sense of the language can be considered valid and the below the belt connotations excused as just getting across the right vibe. For those on the transmitting end, it conveys the possibility for a proper amount of justifiable offence while scapegoating the actual degree of offence as a matter of receiver interpretation. From a rhetorical point of view it is a good argument.

    Personally, I’ve never been overly fond of rhetoric and the maddening divisiveness it creates. (I would hate to think where science would be if rhetoric hadn’t been marginalized during the enlightenment) However if one’s intent is to divide to reveal “the way”, good job. Too bad there aren’t more ways to build each other up than using the other guy as a foot stool for self-justifying paradigm vindication.

  20. You know… I’m really not down with this whole “Jesus is all you need” thing.

    Sorry.

    I Jesus was all we need, then maybe he should have just remained the only thing in the universe and forgone creating all of us.

    I mean, if Jesus is the only thing worth caring about, it kind of makes the entire human experience kind of an unnecessary distraction from what should have been the only cosmic show in town – Jesus!

    Nope. Not buying it.

    Jesus isn’t “all you need.” And he never will be. That’s not the message of the Bible.

  21. Dang it, Jack, I can think of like a million really good comebacks to that but they offend me just as much as I hope they would all the evangelicals here. And thus I am forced to take the high road and forbear.

  22. Wow. “emotional orgy” “groin buddy” … is this a competition to make the most banal comments possible as proof that your own cherished view isn’t banal?

    Have fun with that.

    (This said by somebody who would normally take sides in this matter but who decided to take it elsewhere)

  23. Mephibosheth ~ I can’t speak for Aaron and Tim, but I originally tried to explain my own views on the matter without insulting or finding fault with the LDS view. As I see it, most of us have rejected the other side’s view on this and could easily point out the flaws in it or make the other person’s side sound trite. I don’t see why so many conversations on this blog so easily turn to attacking instead of understanding (yes, I know I’m part of the attacks just as often as anyone else). Seth’s comment rubbed me wrong and I retaliated. Maybe I should have just gone to bed.

    As I see it, the LDS view on God’s plan for us in the next life isn’t at all unlike how things were supposed to be had Adam and Eve stayed in the Garden of Eden, and that isn’t unreasonable at all. So I understand why Mormons believe in it even if I don’t. I know what the problems with it are, but today, I’m really not interested in rattling them off.

    Ryan ~ You thought “groin buddy” was banal? I think it has a nice, catchy ring to it.

    Welcome to the blog.

  24. Wow, the quality of comments on this blog has certainly degraded recently. I’m now hoping the statements of the Evangelicals here not being “normal” is true.

    Tim, do you really think any Mormon could find any
    positive thoughts
    from your comments? Was God truly glorified? Just a word of advice, this certainly counts as a less effective way of reaching Mormons.

  25. Perhaps I’m unique among evangelicals here in that eternal marriage sounds appealing to me. And there’s biblical precedence for a human feeling as though he’s missing something even though he’s in the presence of God (pre-Eve Garden of Eden), so I don’t think that’s much of a stretch, either.

    And in fact, it isn’t just me and Jesus, and it isn’t going to be just me and Jesus in heaven. The Church is the body of Christ. We need other people. We were created to be in community like God is in community. We were created for intimacy, and we are brought into closer intimacy with God through other people. Like Jack said above, marriage is a type for the union between Christ and the Church; marriage is perhaps the closest we can come on earth to the intimacy we will experience in heaven. To call marriage then base or banal is, I think, to miss that point, even if it’s in comparison to being with Jesus. Jesus (God) was the one who created marriage, the one who made the connection between marriage and eternity with him.

    Conclusion: Latter-day Saints, I believe your marriages are good, beautiful, and even sacred. I believe that through them, more of God will be revealed to you. But it’s when you take a good thing and make it the ultimate thing that you get into trouble. Marriage is not the ultimate thing. It, like everything else instituted and created by God, points to him, points to the ultimate truth that the Creator of our souls longs for an intimacy with us that is even greater than the intimacy experienced in marriage, and it is to that that marriage must bow.

  26. Tim,

    Is it a natural tendency for some Evangelicals to de-emphasize the human component in Evangelical theology when talking to Mormons?

    Because I’m sure that Evangelicalism – as a whole – is not particularly misanthropic. But you sure wouldn’t know it to talk to some of the most ardent “Jesus only” people in the Evangelical camp. And this view really isn’t helpful when dealing with many Mormons.

    Sometimes when I’m dealing with the more extreme arguments of the “Jesus-only” world view, I get the feeling that Jesus-only Evangelicalism is really just a way for people with low self-esteem, who hate themselves, to look forward to some sort of self-annihilation in something “other” from themselves. They see nothing worth preserving in themselves.

    But I talk to people like you and Jack (and some others), and I know this can’t be the real story on Evangelicalism (or at least not the full story). So why do so many Evangelicals get off on the idea of human depravity and the eventual annihilation of self in Jesus? Is this some sort of twisted therapy? Or are people simply making their positions sound more extreme than they are for the purposes of “being different” from the Mormon?

    I happen to delight in humanity, and these arguments really just turn me off.

  27. Sarah, that would be a theologically sound way for Mormons to view the concept of eternal marriage – not just biblically, but also by the demands of our own scripture.

  28. Jesus isn’t “all you need.” And he never will be. That’s not the message of the Bible.

    See Eric. Seth is much better at this than you. ;)

    —————————————————————————————————-

    Sorry Seth, I guess our message will never appeal to you.

    There’s a part of me that would like to counter your characterization, but there’s another part of me that thinks you’re understanding us pretty well.

    I think what you’re pointing at gets to the heart of the LDS/Evangelical dispute. Does man deserve to share the platform with God?

  29. So, I just picked up my chapel schedule for this semester.

    Richard Mouw is speaking at our campus on Thursday and Ravi Zacharias is coming (again) in April.

    I’m excited.

  30. WOW. Awesome comment Sarah.

    Agree with Seth too. Regardless of the fact that humans don’t deserve to have the story be about them, from the Bible, we know it is.

    God is glorified by His work to us. Otherwise He wouldn’t have made us. Unless you’re really suggesting that God is dishonored by having created us, or neutral in glory by having created, redeemed, and exalted (at least some of us).

  31. Evangelical: No, you have no idea, You can’t even imagine how cool its going to be to meet Jesus in Heaven, your silly imaginable eternal marriages are going

    Mormon:No, you have no idea, You can’t even imagine how cool its going to be going to be one with God in an eternal family, its going to be so much better than those poor people who are just hanging out with Jesus in the Terrestrial kingdom.

    Evangelical: No, you have no idea. your Jesus is not nearly as cool as ours, he is is infinitely greater than you.

    Mormon: No, you have no idea. Of course he is infinitely greater than us, but God is much cooler than you think since he has the power and inclination to lift people infinitely higher in themselves.

    Evangelical: You have no idea, that’s just silly and banal to think that you are going to like hanging out with your silly human spouse more than you

    Mormon:You have no idea, but if my spouse was spruced up by an infinitely powerful God his/her company would compare with your conception of hanging out with Jesus. Jesus has the power to make my spouse as great to be with as Him! (So there!)

    Me: Can anybody say that have any idea?

    How can anybody have any possible idea about this to make any comparison. Seriously. . . if you can’t really even imagine either heavenly experience, how can you possibly compare the two experiences.

    If you can’t imagine something better than what you are imagining now then you just don’t have a good enough imagination. And anything the other side can imagine, you can always imagine something marginally cooler.

    This seems like the most ridiculous place to even have an argument (or even a discussion).

    I am sure I can imagine an “emotional orgy” more fulfilling than your most appealing “groin buddy” and then imagine a “groin buddy” that makes your “emotional orgy” look like sitting through an episode of Hannah Montana.

  32. Seth said:
    “Deserve” has nothing to do with it.

    Okay, “Can man share a platform with God?”

    —————————————————
    Jared,

    I think you express a general frustration that none of us want to put words to.

  33. Jack and Tim, I don’t understand what makes Seth’s comment such a cheap shot. Aaron, Jack, and Sarah have said about the Bible and Christian theology having a lot more to it than all-you-need-is-Jesus. Help me out here.

    And this idea that Mormon marriage is the ultimate thing, which comes at the expense of a relationship with God, has simply been asserted by all of you evangelicals without explanation. It doesn’t have to be a zero sum game. It’s a package deal. Every single lesson on eternal marriage that I’ve ever had includes this diagram of a triangle with God at the top and man and wife at the bottom corners, showing that by drawing nearer to God they draw near to each other.

    If Aaron were to take his camera and ask most Mormons on the street what the purpose of life is, I guarantee the most common answer would be “To return to live with Heavenly Father again.” I can’t imagine any Mormon answering “Eternal Marriage.” Of course it’s a part of it, even a huge part of it, but how is that giving it primacy?

  34. I think Sarah in her last comment hit the nail on the head beautifully. I would add only this: eternal marriage is a beautiful thing in Christ, and all those who are sealed to Christ by faith are already sealed and married more permanently to all other believers (male and female) than any monogamous or polygamous marriage here on earth.

    According to Mormon theologians, part of what Joseph Smith was trying to accomplish was a network of permanent relationships. This was made all the more clear with early Mormon leaders performing adoptive sealings to other grown men. And for Mormon theologians who have begun to shed the idea of eternal increase via viviparous spirit-birth, preferring instead the idea that we merely become subordinate non-procreative helper-gods to the Most High, this becomes especially useful theology.

    These Mormon theologians are partially arriving at a position traditional Christian have already long maintained.
    Those in Christ already have this assurance of a permanent family network, inclusive of all others in Christ. I will be with Bridget and Sarah and Tim for eternity. I better get used to them :)

  35. What I found most interesting in this discussion is not the impasse between evangelical and Mormon (although I guess that was kinda interesting for the first 2 posts), but really that Mormon commenters have already “absorbed” the evangelical position in a way that specifically makes it inferior. E.g., the evangelical commenters here have said something like, “You Mormons’ view of heaven simply isn’t how things are,” whereas the Mormon commenters here have said, “You evangelicals’ have a good view of the terrestrial, BUT there’s something greater.”

    I think Seth and Tim’s conversation really points something out (that’s kinda distasteful about evangelicalism, unfortunately). This human depravity and annihilation of self in Jesus — as Seth points out and as Tim doesn’t really correct (though he says he wants to ‘counter the characterization’) seems to classify the difference.

    I might be going out on a limb, but let’s take Tim’s last question: “Can man share a platform with God?”

    I think Seth’s answer (sorry to put words in mouths) would be, “Yes, God is that powerful *and* merciful to do such a thing, regardless of if we don’t deserve it.”

    The evangelical answer (sorry to put words in mouths again) seems to be something like, “No, regardless of what God can do (he can do anything, right?), man is just soooo bad and sooo depraved that there will never be a way for mankind to share a platform with God.”

    I can imagine that the two groups would have to resort to using different argumentation styles. Seth, no matter how gloomy his position on religion is, can point out that the Mormon afterlife simply is more appealing (sorry evs…) Tim, on the other hand, probably has to rely on some kind of argument that makes certain or all aspects of Mormonism seem factually incorrect with regards to the “true theology” (and thus its afterlife impossible, implausible, or a wishful fantasy).

  36. Dear All,

    It just occurred to me that this is an argument not worth having; not only can there be no agreement, there can be no meeting of the minds because of the nature of Mormon temple covenants.

    Here’s what I mean. I think this whole debate could be settled by an appeal to the words said during a Mormon sealing ceremony. However, a Mormon won’t talk about this because of its sacredness. If an evangelical finds the words on the internet, analyzes them, and then uses the words as part of an argument, he/she will be lambasted for parading Mormon pearls before worldly swine.

    So what you are left with is an argument where the one text that could adjudicate the argument is off limits to both parties. It’s like trying to decide a constitutional law case with the proviso that nobody can refer to the actual constitution. It can’t and shouldn’t be attempted.

    Dear Evangelicals,

    You can’t understand this because Mormons have declared a priori that you can’t by putting the texts needed for discussion out of bounds.

    Dear Mormons,

    Realize that by placing texts needed for understanding out of bounds renders your desires to be understood and loved by all and sundry to be an impossible dream.

    Carry on.

  37. Andrew,
    The evangelical response wouldn’t be that humans are so depraved that we will never be able to share a platform with God. I fully expect that God will continue to do the work he started in me, bringing me to perfection in such a way that any depravity I’ve ever known will be completely washed away. I will be glorified, experience theosis, whatever you want to call it. It’s not because of my sin that I can never share a platform with God; there will be a day when I have no more sin. It’s because God and I are ontologically different. I was created to worship my Creator, to find my joy and satisfaction in him.

    God has been the only God from all eternity past; I have been and will always be human–gloriously, beautifully, worshipfully human. It’s not a question of God’s ability to fully redeem me. He has and will. But he is ‘other’ in a way that makes me tremble in anticipation of bowing at his feet. Not because I’m lowly, or unworthy, or only human–I doubt I’ll have any thoughts about myself then, and besides, I will be beautiful and worthy. It’s because that’s the response that wells up in me in the presence of majesty, an offering of love to the only being worthy of my complete devotion.

  38. Sarah, thanks for correcting me.

    I guess my question would be…if you fully expect that God will continue to do the work he started in you, bringing you to perfection in a way that any depravity will be completely washed away, then do you believe there is any Evangelical disagreement with Mormon ideas like exaltation. You bring up theosis…I think Mormons like to bring this up a lot to compare with exaltation…non-Mormons generally want to show distinctions between LDS exaltation and non-LDS theosis.

    Do you think there is a difference? What is it? Is it in the “ontological difference”? Is God unable or unwilling to “wash away” this ontological difference then? Do you think that the Mormon idea of creating worlds beyond number is opposed to a purpose of humans of worshipping our creator, of finding joy and satisfaction within him? It seems to me that this kind of emulation would be the greatest form of worship.

  39. Sarah.

    It seems then that a discussion of Christology, namely how humanity as ontologically created and divinity as ontologically uncreated can be logically joined together in one and the same person (Jesus), would be quite interesting and necessary. I continuously fail, even after long study, to see how it can be accomplished. I find traditional orthodox explanations quite unsatisfying, to say the least. Perhaps someone could create a post addressing this issue? Or maybe I shall.

    Best,

    TRD

  40. Marriage in its mortal renditions is merely a sacrament of the unity God enjoys.

    So, I think to try and characterize the Mormon view of the afterlife as limited by mortal ordinances that merely foreshadow an eternal reality is misguided.

    Aaron, Tim, Jack, David?

    Do you guys view the afterlife of unity in Jesus as merely sitting around munching bread and drinking wine?

    Well, of course not. That is mere a symbol, a sacrament that is meant to point the believer to the higher truth of what unity in Christ really means.

    Marriage is the same way. The mortal practice thereof cannot possibly encompass what true perichoresis with God in Christ means. Husband and wife are invited, in Mormon theology, to share with each other (however imperfectly) the same unity God enjoys. It’s a symbol. And a reality. But don’t think it’s comprehensive. We only see through a glass darkly at this stage.

  41. Tim, I don’t even really know what the “share a platform” concept really means. So I don’t think that will work as a starting point for us.

    Aaron wrote:

    “These Mormon theologians are partially arriving at a position traditional Christian have already long maintained. Those in Christ already have this assurance of a permanent family network, inclusive of all others in Christ.”

    Good, then we’re making progress here.

    Now the only question remains why Christian theologians feel the need to bring Aristotelian ontology into the equation and what useful function such logical divisions serve.

  42. Mephibosheth ~ Not to pick on Tim and Sarah and Aaron but I don’t think I ever implied that there was a primacy to temple marriage that replaces the relationship with God. I even said to Tim in our private discussion on the matter, “They don’t see it as ‘either/or.’”

    My biggest concerns with the LDS doctrine of temple marriage revolve around the things that it does to LDS singles now, here in this life. My heart just breaks when I hear the struggles of my LDS single friends and there is so little I can say to comfort them.

    I do think that Aaron makes a good point when he says that Latter-day Saints are trying to manufacture through complex temple sealings what evangelical Christians already have through Jesus Christ. The real difference is that Mormons believe in male/female(s) units in heaven and evangelicals don’t.

    Andrew ~ the Mormon afterlife simply is more appealing

    Not to me it isn’t. Not by a long shot.

    But I’m sincerely trying not to bash the Mormon view of the afterlife, so I’m leaving it at that.

    Seth ~ Husband and wife are invited, in Mormon theology, to share with each other (however imperfectly) the same unity God enjoys. It’s a symbol. And a reality. But don’t think it’s comprehensive. We only see through a glass darkly at this stage.

    I think that is the most useful comment you have made so far in this thread. Thank you for that.

    This on the other hand . . .

    Christian theologians feel the need to bring Aristotelian ontology into the equation

    Not as useful. Did you miss the points in the Hellenization thread on the Americanization of Mormon theology? Will the real party that’s fusing the worldview of the predominant culture with their view of God please stand up?

  43. Aaron, Tim, Jack, David?

    Do you guys view the afterlife of unity in Jesus as merely sitting around munching bread and drinking wine?

    I’m not an evangelical.

  44. Somehow, I don’t think that Seth would be the one placing texts out of bounds. He seems iconoclastic in that way.

    Then I invite him to copy n paste the Mormon sealing ceremony here, and to provide his exegesis as to how it proves his case. I’m not holding my breath.

  45. That doesn’t follow, David.

    Rather, I challenge you to incorporate aspects of the Mormon sealing ceremony intelligently, and see if Seth would shun the conversation or if he would promote it.

    What I suspect is a few things. When people “copy n paste” the sealing ceremony, there are not doing so with any intent of intelligent discussion. In this case, it is no wonder that members would avoid conversation. Furthermore, since members realize that others probably do not have the background knowledge to appreciate the complexity of the issue, they aren’t going to just copy and past it themselves and invite frustrating discussion that misses the point.

    BUT if someone were to come to the table with an appreciation and respect for the issues, then I think they could go through the sealing ceremony and the conversation wouldn’t instantly grind to a halt.

    I guess I’ll say that I’m not holding my breath either, though.

  46. OK, throw out the “Aristotelian” part then.

    Why bring ontology into the notion of God at all?

    Because for the entirety of the western philosophical tradition the idea of God has been intimately connected to ontology, it’s inescapable for orthodox Christians (and probably Jews and Muslims as well, though I confess ignorance here). How else can you discuss being when you leave out the ground of all being, the one Being? Even much secular ontology takes place largely in the shadow and remnants of this philosophical tradition.

    By the way, very few people in the western tradition, other than Mormons, could say something like what you just said. Because for Mormons, God is not the ground of all being. He plays a large part in the nature of our being, but unless you chuck the Book of Abraham and its notion of eternal intelligences, He is not the ground and source of being.

  47. Rather, I challenge you to incorporate aspects of the Mormon sealing ceremony intelligently, and see if Seth would shun the conversation or if he would promote it.

    No thanks. I already know the response, yet another emotional orgy. Besides, I respect Mormons (and I still am one technically) enough to not do that, it’s something they don’t want paraded in front of everyone.

    But then, that’s my point. I think the temple ceremony does put into perspective how Mormons view their temple marriages vis-a-vis a relationship with God. But, that’s unavailable for discussion.

  48. I probably wouldn’t cut-and-paste specific temple language. But I don’t mind discussing a lot of the concepts you find in there.

    You are correct David, Mormonism does not follow the notion of God being the “ground of all being.” I just don’t see an ultimate need for such notions. Something about it seems highly artificial.

  49. David, maybe I just am too naive and hopeful, but it seems to me that when you say “I already know the response,” you already have anticipated and, perhaps, stereotyped a response from Mormons. I guess I can understand why you’re doing this (if you are), because you “technically” are one — so you have ample experience to know the reaction.

    But if there’s one thing I’ve learned from moving away from my home ward and getting involved with the bloggernacle, it’s that Mormons aren’t a “they” that can be described monolithically in terms of desires, actions, or beliefs. So I don’t think it’s appropriate to say “they” (or “we”, since we are technically a part) don’t want it paraded in front of everyone.

  50. Seth, it’s just how we believe God has revealed Himself to us. We can’t separate it from the conversation because it’s part of who God is for us.

    Andrew, I don’t think David is exaggerating anything. There are plenty of bloggers who are willing to discuss aspects of the temple in public if you prod them, but quoting the ceremony is a serious taboo. My own husband tore a page out of one of my books that had the pre-1990 “Protestant minister” scene in it, ripped it up and threw it away, and I don’t think his reaction was unusual given how Mormons feel about the temple. There’s a reason the BYU library keeps the anti-Mormon books locked away in the archives, and it isn’t so Mormons won’t read them and lose their testimonies. It’s to protect them from the Mormons.

    There are other bloggers whom I’ve seen take serious issue to discussion of temple concepts in public. Blake Ostler and Julie M. Smith are among them. You really just never know what you’re going to get.

    You can usually get away with discussion of a specific word or short phrase, but even that upsets some people.

    And honestly, this evangelical has no idea what David Clark is getting at. It’s been years since I saw the full sealing transcript and I’m not going to look it up out of respect for my husband. If the two women who have married my husband’s brothers were able to understand the meaning of what’s revealed there and get sealed at age 18, it can’t be all that complex.

  51. If the two women who have married my husband’s brothers were able to understand the meaning of what’s revealed there and get sealed at age 18, it can’t be all that complex.

    I can assure you they didn’t. They were too busy worrying about pictures, their dress, the reception, that night, yadda, yadda, yadda.

    And here is what I meant, tip-toeing as gingerly as I can. One can argue that the temple ceremony itself has little to nothing to to with life with God and much to do with life as a god. Three particular parts jump out at me.

    First, you are not married before God, but before God and some other persons. God is lumped together with those other persons as an observer, more like a signatory to the marriage certificate, not as the creating power making it all happen.

    Second, there is no promise of living in God’s kingdom or approaching God’s throne, but a more generic promise of kingdoms and thrones etc. I think most Mormons interpret that to be their thrones and kingdoms they will have in the hereafter if faithful.

    Third, there is a definite sense that the sealer is the one doing this through the power that he has. Granted the power is ultimately delegated by God. But, it is the sealer who wields it, and it is the same power which will ultimately be wielded in those kingdoms, on those thrones, by that couple, presumably in some sense independently of God. There is a sense that the sealer and the couple are working out their own salvation, with God as an observer.

    Now everyone will jump in and say that without Christ this is not possible, and that is correct. In Mormon theology the atonement is necessary for exaltation, but is not sufficient. In orthodox Christian theology it is both necessary and sufficient.

    Now my ultimate point. I am sure most Mormons will disagree with my interpretation, and that’s fine. But, they can’t show where I am wrong without appealing to the actual text of the ceremony. They can cite their own opinion, but how is an outside party to adjudicate the matter? In fact, you probably shouldn’t trust my opinion on the matter because I also did not quote the text of the ceremony, but I resorted to heavy paraphrase and circumlocution, so how can you trust me either? Without looking at the actual text of the ceremony you can’t really decide if the dichotomy between eternal marriage and eternal life with God is an either/or issue or a both/and issue. You can talk around the problem, cite your own opinion, quote non-authoritative texts and so on, but you can’t actually deal with the text that would in theory resolve the issue.

  52. David, I think the response to what you’ve presented here would mirror other arguments I’ve had with Evangelicals over the grace-vs-works thing.

  53. David ~ I can assure you they didn’t. They were too busy worrying about pictures, their dress, the reception, that night, yadda, yadda, yadda.

    Wouldn’t surprise me if you were right. I’m a little testy about having people undergo ordinances that they can’t or don’t understand just because it’s the thing to do. It’s why I dislike infant and child baptism, be it evangelical or LDS (Mormons practicing only the latter).

    One can argue that the temple ceremony itself has little to nothing to to with life with God and much to do with life as a god. Three particular parts jump out at me.

    Thanks for your interpretation of the sealing ceremony, David.

    The other day, in my husband’s Sunday School class, they were discussing Moses 1. At one point someone made the comment, “Happiness is being with God and being God.” Exact wording. He put extra emphasis on the second “being.”

    No one corrected him, no one batted an eye. The bishop was in the room and didn’t say anything.

    I’m starting to become disillusioned with the attempts I have heard at downplaying what Mormon exaltation is and how common it is for Latter-day Saints to be perfectly fine with thinking they’re going to “be God” in the next life.

    Someone hand Aaron a towel to wipe the smirk off his face.

  54. Andrew,
    I do believe there is a difference between what I’m calling theosis or glorification and between the dominant LDS understanding of exaltation. Because God and humans are not the same species (and in fact, God is not himself a species, but is the Creator of all species), God can make me perfect, but at the pinnacle of my perfection, I am not a creator-from-nothing. I am a perfect human. This is a terrible analogy for many reasons (among them God’s incorporeality), but making a fish be the absolute best fish it could possibly be does not turn it into a whale.

    You asked whether I think God is unable or unwilling to wash away the ontological difference, which I think is a very good question, because it gets at the real heart of the differences I see between the evangelical position and the LDS position. It’s also a harder question for me to answer. I’ll get back to you. Jack, Tim, or Aaron, feel free to step in…

    I might need to flesh out the exact question you’re asking when you ask about humans creating worlds, but I’ll go ahead and say that I don’t think the Mormon idea of creating worlds beyond number is necessarily mutually exclusive with worshiping our Creator unless you mean that you would be doing exactly what he did–then, I’d say there’s a definite problem.

  55. [My power went out for 3 hours and I finally get to post this response to Andrew]

    “No, regardless of what God can do (he can do anything, right?), man is just soooo bad and sooo depraved that there will never be a way for mankind to share a platform with God.”

    This characterization I will correct.

    God cannot do everything. God can’t sin, God can’t create a rock so big that he can’t move it, God cannot make a square circle, and God can’t make created beings into uncreated beings. There are category fallacies in all of those request that prevent God from doing them. They are logically nonsense.

    God can not “wash away” our ontological difference. It isn’t a deficiency in us. It IS us. We are created, if we were not created we would not be. God stands alone as the only uncreated creator (which is what earns him the title “God”).

    [now that I got that off of my chest, you can resume the conversation]

  56. Asking whether or not the evangelical God is unable or unwilling to “wash away” the ontological difference is a lot like asking whether or not the LDS God is unable or unwilling to turn me into a man.

    On exaltation, deification, and theosis, I recommend the post I did on that last year and the discussion that followed.

  57. Re Sarah and Tim,

    I actually think I see your point…so, you would suppose that there is something logically impossible about making humans like God (or making humans be Gods)…and so this limitation is not a kind of smoking gun against omnipotence, but simply a logical necessity — even for an omnipotent being.

    So, I guess I can see in particular how this spills over into other things. For example, if humans once were eternal “intelligences,” then this really wrecks the whole idea about the difference between “created” and “uncreated.” Isn’t that right? If God is the only uncreated creator, then that LDS idea of eternal intelligences really throws a wrench in that.

    This is pretty interesting…how far off am I now?

  58. You got it.

    Eternal intelligences also throws a wrench into the Kalam Cosmological argument (not that Kalam is canon, but that the LDS concept falls into an infinite regress, a logical black hole).

  59. It does throw a wrench in that Andrew. This is why I keep saying that the real difference of view between Mormons and other Christians is not any of the stuff we usually argue about, but rather creation ex nihilo, and whole ontology issue. It’s pretty non-negotiable, as far as I can tell.

    The problem is partly one of apologetics.

    Traditional Christian apologetics often go something like this (very simplified):

    1. Everything in our experienced world has a cause.
    2. An infinite regress of causes would result in logical absurdity.
    3. Therefore, you have to have a first and final Cause sitting at the end/beginning of it all.
    4. Such a Cause would require certain attributes.
    5. ergo God

    Mormonism, on the other hand, throws a wrench in the whole thing by disputing one of the fundamental main premises in the whole argument – that everything needs a cause.

    No it doesn’t, we say. Why can’t existence just “be?” Why does it need a finite beginning point?

    In this respect, Mormons often unintentionally find themselves sharing the same arguments with atheists who have rejected the classical Christian formula.

    Well, atheists can’t always be wrong, now can they?

  60. Tim, the LDS argument avoids the Kalam Infinity paradox by simply pointing out that the way the argument is framed is artificial. Blake Ostler did some pretty good work on this in response to William Lane Craig and Paul Copan.

    I usually just point out Zeno’s Paradox as an example of bypassing instantaneously an infinite number of artificially conceptualized segments and note that you can do the same thing Kalam’s segments too.

  61. Jack,

    I don’t think your comparison is baseless though. If we believe in eternal gender, then the answer is simple: God is unable to turn you into a man. Sorry.

    When we talk about other issues (e.g., is homosexuality part of eternal gender), we get livelier responses. God is unwilling to turn gays straight in this life ( — and it’s been a long way to come to this position), but it’ll totally happen in the next life.

    Tim,

    OK, cool.

    Seth,

    Finally, some of the cryptic things you have always been saying on other people’s blogs (since you have an allergy to your own) are making sense…

  62. Seth I suspect another difference is the focus given to triangulation between mortality and the after-life (and the pragmatic utility of such merging). I think the one position presented is that divide is impossibly wide and any comparison is banal. Another position is that mortality and heaven merge with mortality having a role well beyond relational comparison. If it makes us better here, why would we ever stop building on such a foundation?

    Personally, I like to think there is great practical value in making heaven and earth merge. But then I’m much more transformational than utopian.

  63. You know if the LDS church would just toss out the Book of Abraham we’d be on our way to resolving these differences pretty quickly. If only we had some reason to doubt the Book of Abraham. . . .

  64. Andrew ~ That was my point. Gender (or sex?) is an essential, eternal characteristic in Mormonism. God is and always has been male and I am and always have been female and that is never going to change. It’s one area where I’m never going to be “like God” if Mormonism is true. (Some people try to fix this with divine androgyny models, but let’s not go down that rabbit hole.) It’s not a matter of God’s will or omnipotence, it’s just how things work.

    Uncreated v. created in traditional Christian theology is pretty much the same thing, only bigger. They both fall under the category of “things God can’t do because they’re logically not possible.”

    For the record, I don’t want to be a man. While I wouldn’t mind having that delightful super-strength men have, I’d miss doing fun things with my hair.

    Tim ~ You’re awful.

  65. Jack,

    But I think the difference (excuse the heresy here) is with omnipotence.

    See, that God is male isn’t a “logical necessity” (so God not being male is not a logical impossibility). Rather, it’s that God is not omnipotent enough to change his maleness. It’s not that God can’t do because it’s logically not possible, but that God can’t do it because he just organizes this stuff.

    Instead, uncreated v. created is about logical impossibilities, and not the omnipotence of God.

    Tim,

    I laughed out loud. People in my dorm hall were concerned.

  66. Mea culpa, Jack. I’ll avoid lumping you all together in the future. Sarah Taylor, I appreciate your clarification as well.

  67. And even though I’m pretty sure Tim was just being a smartass, let’s be clear that the doctrine eternal intelligences is a lot bigger than the Book of Abraham. It’s all through the Doctrine and Covenants and Joseph Smith’s sermons, and it eliminates a lot of the logical paradoxes in traditional Christian theology. So you can have my doctrine of eternal intelligences when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers.

  68. Doubt the Book of Abraham Tim?

    Or doubt the process Joseph Smith used to get it?

    Two separate issues.

    “So you can have my doctrine of eternal intelligences when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers.”

    Amen.

  69. Although… interestingly, you actually find a lot of diversity on the specifics of what “intelligences” are and what stage of personhood is actually eternal.

    For instance, I remember reading one early apostle who felt that it was just the “spirit atoms” that were eternal and God then organized those into spirit form. I think he even held that sons of perdition got melted back down into spiritual atom form and got recycled as material for the next batch of spirit kids.

    Obviously, it never really caught on in the LDS Church.

  70. For instance, I remember reading one early apostle who felt that it was just the “spirit atoms” that were eternal and God then organized those into spirit form. I think he even held that sons of perdition got melted back down into spiritual atom form and got recycled as material for the next batch of spirit kids.

    Mormon creation ex nihilo and Mormon annihilationism, fascinating.

  71. Yeah, but as far as I’m concerned, if my mind doesn’t exist, then I don’t exist. The “me” part has to come from somewhere.

    I know that it’s not the same as traditional creation ex nihilo, but it’s a closer idea.

  72. So you can have my doctrine of eternal intelligences when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers.

    Seth and Mephi,

    Be careful what you say. Through the miracle of either continuing revelation or a Larry King interview it might just happen.

  73. Actually, no. Common consent, and all that. But you were just being a smartass, too, weren’t ya. Too bad it’s not as entertaining as it was in the 7th grade.

  74. David, MY religion does not belong to Thomas S. Monson, or Gordon B. Hinckley, or Joseph Smith, or anyone else.

    It’s my faith. My religion. And I will answer for it myself.

  75. This is a random drive-by to note that this thread stresses me out and I don’t plan on reading it anymore. But perhaps the increasing anger I’m sensing would be better directed at easy targets like Pat Robertson or Danny Glover. Because let’s face it. None of you are as fun (or helpful) when you just get pissy and start using overly-pretentious philosophical vocabulary and rhetorical cop-outs.

  76. For instance, I remember reading one early apostle who felt that it was just the “spirit atoms” that were eternal and God then organized those into spirit form. I think he even held that sons of perdition got melted back down into spiritual atom form and got recycled as material for the next batch of spirit kids.

    This is what my mother taught me when I was growing up.

    She even taught me that when God went into the great primordial intelligence soup, there was a “vertical climb” and “horizontal lock” so that the intelligences would climb to whatever level of smartness they had, and then get to choose what kind of entity they would be. Would they be a slug or a snail? A dog or a wolf? etc.

    I have no idea where she got it, but it took me a few years to realize it was probably crazy-talk. :D

  77. My husband says that he believes something like that about animal spirits. They don’t go to heaven, their spirit parts just get broken up and recycled or something.

    One time when we were on our way out the door for church, my daughter grabbed the beta fish tank and tried to take him with us. I said, “Sweetie pie, Bitey doesn’t need to go to church, he doesn’t have a soul.”

    Mother of the year for me, I know.

  78. Wow, I go to class and work for a few hours and I miss like thirty posts.

    I agree with what Jack and Tim said about God’s ontology. I still feel like I’m missing something there, like there’s some important piece of the puzzle that I can’t quite articulate, but maybe it’ll come to me later.

    The Red Dart–I was going to respond to you sooner, but I had to rush off to class and haven’t been online since. I think you should start a post about Jesus and his human and divine natures. That’s a great idea. I’d love to discuss it.

  79. Tim: the problem with your point in the original post is the problem you often point out about the God we worship: we don’t get to choose what God is like. You can wish all you want to have “Jesus as your roommate,” but Mormons have pretty solid reason (D&C 131) to believe that if you get to heaven without being sealed and becoming one with your wife then Jesus won’t want to be your roommate.

  80. You’re right Brian. We don’t get to choose the version of truth we like best. It’s more appropriate to point that out when I am asked “Don’t you want to be with your family forever?” than to give my reasons why not.

  81. Mormons have pretty solid reason (D&C 131) to believe that if you get to heaven without being sealed and becoming one with your wife then Jesus won’t want to be your roommate.

    I believe it would be more accurate to say that Jesus will do everything in his power short of taking away our free will so that we can live with him and our Heavenly Father forever.

  82. Nah, you still get to be an angel in the Celestial Kingdom – even if you’re not married.

    I hear you get a cool flaming sword…

  83. I hear you get a cool flaming sword…

    is that part of Jesus doing everything short of taking away your free will to make sure you can live with him and our Heavenly Father?

    You can’t say an angel with an ultimatum isn’t offering a choice.

  84. I was objecting to any suggestion that Jesus doesn’t want us to be with him. I thought that’s why he died for us.

  85. It’s based on the idea that the Celestial Kingdom itself has different levels. The only way to get to the highest degree of that is to be married (either now or later) under the proper covenants and ordinances. But that those who do not ever marry are instead made angels in the Celestial Kingdom.

    Have you heard of this doctrinal idea?

  86. Eric: I hope you can see that I was trying to write within the framework of Tim/Zacharias’ analogy of picking roommates, thus sacrificing careful doctrinal wording.

  87. Do singles in the Celestial Kingdom have TK smoothies?

    Can I have a flaming sword, too, when I get sent to one of the TKs? Pretty please? Or maybe at least a +3 sword with an icy chill effect?

  88. BrianJ said:

    … thus sacrificing careful doctrinal wording

    I figured that, but figured I’d say something anyway.

  89. RD. My first disagreement with you, mark the calendars.

    I don’t buy KB’s argument, and Meems comment, the first one gave a huge problem with his argument that was ignored by the other 26 responses.

    KB’s argument essentially shuts out everyone from the Celestial Kingdom who has been baptized and washed clean by the Savior. Church leaders have consistently taught that when we accept baptism, we are entering to the gate to the kingdom of Heaven, and are worthy of the CK. So I just can’t buy that only married people return to the Father. Not going to do it. False, damnable doctrine.

  90. Tim,

    Thanks for the awesome video! This was such an encouragement to me. I really wish that these events could occur more often between Evangelicals and Mormons. I had heard Ravi Zacharias’s message before on CD, but I think that the preliminary speakers before him were just as good. I really agree with what one of them said about not defining our faith in contrast to what another religion believes–i.e., Mormon’s don’t believe in grace because that’s what the Baptists teach. I think it is so easy to get trapped into a system like this where we promote a doctrine that we don’t even believe in an attempt to try to convince someone of another faith that they are wrong.

  91. ” Jesus isn’t all you need. And He never will be. That’s not the message of the Bible” — Seth

    All I can say to this comment made above by seth, is sir we are truly reading a different bible then and serving a different God.

    Jesus is *more* than all we need.

    And no I do not suffer from low self worth, that is something that I suffered from when I was a LDS. Christ has set me free from that.

    gloria

  92. Then maybe he should have just stayed the only thing in the universe gloria, and not bothered making all of this unnecessary stuff – like you and me. The mere fact that ANYTHING besides Jesus exists at all is flat-out proof that Jesus alone wasn’t enough.

    I’m reading the same Bible. You’re just cherry-picking different verses than I am.

  93. Seth,
    I do not believe we are “unessary” stuff per say. God created us for His glory and pleasure. The bible emphatically declares so. God loves us, and loved the world enough to send us Jesus , so that we would not be eternally seperate from Him.

    I think you hit on one of the major differences between Christianity and Mormonism. LDS believe that God needs us, and we as Christians believe we need Him, not vice versa. God was just fine before he created us, Seth. He does not need “us” to feel good or be complete. He is God.

    We are blessed to have the pleasure of doing His bid and call and hopefully producing fruit for His glory.

    I think this strikes at the very heart of the differences we have between our faiths. The very nature of “who” God is so radically different from one faith to the other.

    gloria

  94. Seth,

    Since most Christians believe that God is the only necessary being, it’s tautological that anything God creates is contingent (i.e. not necessary). I don’t know what point you are hoping to make with your rhetorical question to Gloria.

  95. gloria, ” LDS believe that God needs us”

    No. LDS believe that we always existed, and God loved us and so he created a plan for us to enjoy the same happiness he already enjoyed. He doesn’t “need” us anymore than the Good Samaritan “needed” the wounded man on the side of the road.

  96. gloria, I agree that your definition of who God is is radically different from mine. Your view of God as a supremely selfish hedonist (one who does anything solely for his own pleasure) is about as far as you can get from the view of God as a loving Father who wants to share what He has with His children.

    Also, I am not sure how you can claim the Bible “emphatically says” that “God created us for his own glory and pleasure” as a search at biblegateway.com comes up with no results for that phrase.

  97. ” He doesn’t need us anymore than the Good samaritan needed the wounded man on the side of the road”

    Brian,

    I agree with your statement above.

    But I disagree with your assesment that the LDS do not teach that their heavenly father does not “need them”.

    I was active in the LDS faith for 19 yrs. I birthed 5 children and adopted 5 children. I believed at that time, that I was fulfilling the obligation/ privelege/blessing I felt I had to bring down as many spirit children as I could so that they could inhabit human bodies. I was taught that being a mother was the closest thing to being like God. I was taught that I was a “co-creator” with God. That heavenly father could not do this without me and other faithful LDS women.

    I whole heartedly believed that God needed “me” to be able to fulfill the LDS plan of salvation.

    Most definatley I believed the LDS god needed me and my husband both. I believed that without the temple sealing I could not enter into the highest kingdom . Not only did I believe I need heavenly father, but my husband to receive exaltation and eternal life.

    I also believed that as a member of the LDS church I was called to be a “savior on mt.zion”… that thru me, others could receive the LDS gospel message. That is the reason I chose to serve a full time LDS pros. mission.

    These are just a few examples, of some deep rooted LDS beliefs that point to the fact that the LDS teach that their god truly does “need them”.

    I just felt I needed to point that out.

    Kind regards,
    gloria

  98. Seth,

    What I am saying is God can do as He pleases. His ways are not our ways. His ways are unsearchable. I am not going to claim to completely understanding God. The God I love, serve and worship is not a created being. He did not progress to becoming a “god”. He always has been God .

    As I said before, I think we are worshipping and talking about completely different beings.

    gloria

  99. I didn’t start having children because I “needed” them. I was pretty happy when my marriage was an endless round of living with a sexy male roommate who would watch MST3K episodes and play video games with me. I could have stuck with that.

    I had children because the idea of giving a child joy and pouring my love into someone else filled me with so much pleasure. And I feel like we need more people like me in the world, and since I can’t clone myself, reproducing is the next best option.

    I don’t see what’s wrong with thinking God made us for similar reasons.

  100. Gloria,

    It’s obvious to me that even evangelicals must admit that people need more than Jesus to achieve salvation.

    Because Jesus didn’t do a terrific job of spreading the message himself, people need other people to tell them about the gospel.

    So at least according to the system God set up, other people are part of the salvation process. No?

  101. I had children because the idea of giving a child joy and pouring my love into someone else filled me with so much pleasure. And I feel like we need more people like me in the world, and since I can’t clone myself, reproducing is the next best option.

    I don’t see what’s wrong with thinking God made us for similar reasons.

    I may be stealing this from you, Jack. Just so you know. I’ll be sure to give credit where credit’s due, though. So I guess it won’t be out-right theft.

  102. “Because Jesus didn’t do a terrific job of spreading the message himself, people need other people to tell them about the gospel.”

    Whoa! Just whoa.

  103. are you admitting that God does unnecessary things

    Everything God does outside of himself is unnecessary. That God condescends and uses weak vessels like me to show his strength is a privilege! God loves doing things when he doesn’t have to. Creation, salvation, eternal life, it’s all a spillover, an overflow, of his goodness, love, and power.

    On a related note, when Paul speaks of “filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions” in Colossians 1:24, I believe he is speaking of a personal, “incarnational” presentation of Christ’s sufferings, not an improvement upon or adding to the merits of Christ’s atonement.

  104. Whoa! Just whoa.

    seriously, this thread keeps on giving. I clearly fired the first “here’s-a-thumb-in-your-eye-your-religion-sucks” but the love for Jesus keeps on giving. I keep thinking “what more do I need to say?”

  105. Funny thing is, the people here probably agree more than they disagree. The problem is that are confusing esoteric theology with personal and relational needs.

  106. I know it “sounded” bad what I said about Jesus, but the facts clearly indicate that God didn’t want everybody to know about Jesus’ salvation EXCEPT through the operations of people.

    I guess we can all assume that he could inform everybody about Jesus in a perfect way if he really wanted to. But he wanted other people to participate in the salvation process.

    The way Gloria explains it and the way she puts down Mormon thought seems ignorant of these facts.

  107. I knew what you were after Jared, but saying Jesus chooses to use us to spread his Gospel and saying he couldn’t do it without us are different things entirely.

  108. Alex,

    Thanks for the chance to respond to your comments.

    A great resource in understanding Christian perspective on “why” we were created:

    http;//www.gotquestions.org/why-did-God-create-us.html

    ” You are worthy O Lord, to receive glory, and honor and power. For you created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created.” — Rev. 4:11

    Kind regards,
    gloria

  109. Jared ~~

    Thanks for the chance to respond to your comments:

    ” It’s obvious to me that evangelicals must admit that people need more than Jesus to achieve salvation” .

    I respectfully disagree. First of all, I can not “acheive salvation”. Jesus did that for me on Calvary. I simply can not do it. Period. No way, no how. His blood, is what has given me the ability to receive salvation. It has nothing to do with me or anything else.

    ” Because Jesus didn’t do a terrific job of spreading the message Himself, people need other people to tell them about the gospel”…….

    All I can say is WOWZA to that statement. This just confirms to me my doubts about whether the LDS are even worshipping the same being. The same God. Are we even talking about the same gospel? I think not.

    Regards,
    gloria

  110. Maybe so gloria, but you’ve hardly explained yourself well here. I honestly have no clear view of what exactly you are objecting to in Jared’s statement. Please explain.

  111. Seth, don’t you see it? THE AUDACITY of MORMONS to say such a thing about Jesus?!

    If the Jesus didn’t spread the message himself, that doesn’t mean he did a terrible job. That means that it was all in his plan for the gospel not to be spread that far at that time. Perfect Jesus cannot NOT do a terrific job at things. Imperfect humans can do a bad job at understanding the ways of God though

    How’s that?

  112. This is the problem. I was making a technical statement of theology.

    gloria responded with a personal witness of her relationship with Jesus.

    But that wasn’t the point. The point I was making was that there is a human element in the equation of salvation. I actually think some Evangelicals here have come close to stating this exact point themselves.

    You know what?

    We’re talking past each other here about two different subjects and thinking we disagree more than we do.

    This is why I hate the whole grace vs. works controversy. It usually ends up being two camps yelling at each other over differences we don’t even have, but THINK we have simply because we’re more interested in protecting our own turf than understanding each other.

    Worthless tautological, circular, chicken-and-the-egg discussions.

    That’s all you ever get with this subject.

  113. I agree that there is a human element in the process of salvation. I have mixed feelings on whether or not there needs to be. As Sarah said, even when Adam was in the Garden of Eden, living in the presence of God, God still called him “alone” and said it was not good. So while, hypothetically, I don’t see why Christ couldn’t set out and save each and every one of us individually, there’s sound biblical reasoning for thinking that there is something in us that demands we live in community with other believers. Since evangelicals believe God only exists in community via the Trinity, the idea has considerable theological symmetry.

    Again, I think that the main point where we part ways is that Latter-day Saints think that one specific type of relationship (male-female) is required. Evangelicals think community participation should be a part of every believer’s life, but there is no one type of relationship that is required for salvation other than your relationship with God.

  114. gloria, pointing out that after “19 years and 10 children” you still didn’t understand LDS theology is not a convincing counterargument. Just sayin’.

  115. Brian, I’ve been trying to avoid getting personal in this discussion (don’t know if I’ve succeeded). And things may go a bit more smoothly if we all try to avoid that.

  116. You know… I’ve been sitting on this question for a couple of days…

    For the evangelicals out here. Why do you keep focusing on heaven ? What it will look like ? What it will be like ?

    What do you do with rev 21 and the first part of rev 22 ? The Bible doesn’t stop at Rev 20, it goes on with a new creation A creation the way God intended it to be. Where we will walk with Him again. And since in the first creation God saw it “was not good for man to be alone” and consequently created Eve, why would there not be a marriage that’s a significant and important part of our eternal life with Him ?

    I have noticed a tendency to focus heavily on heaven, the judgment and all that, but then not continue with the new creation. Even here on some of the responses from Aaron, Tim and Jack. And I’m not sure what to do with that or whether it’s a good representation of evangelical beliefs. And if it is, I may actually be closer to some LDS beliefs than I’d like to admit ;-) Except I won’t be a God and marriage is not needed for my wife and such other “banal” things (j/k)

    Just a question, but I would love to see some reactions to my question on the new creation part. As some of you know, I’m still a pretty young Christian and I have thought about this. It may become my second post on my blog one day.

    Thanks for the reaction
    Mick

  117. Hello, Brian.

    I never said in my comments here that after ” 19 yrs and 10 kids” that I did not understand LDS theology or doctrine. Contrary to what you may think, I did “get” it. That is what I was trying to explain in the examples I shared about “how” I believe LDS theology does teach that heavenly father does “need” his children. ( ie; having children, bringing down spirit children, being saviors on mt.zion, etc.)

    These were specific examples I shared that I believe clearly point to the belief in LDS doctrine that the LDS heavenly father does “need” his LDS children.

    Why do people need to get ‘personal’ and begin personal attacks when they disagree? Why can’t we just leave the personal out of our discussions and focus on the subject matter? I see this over and over again with LDS when I post or share.

    Sigh……

    So telling.

  118. Mike,

    Jesus was pretty clear about no marriage in the life to come:

    Luke 20:27-36

    I for one can not even begin to imagine what heaven will be like! We do have some glimpses in the book of Revelation.. no more sorrows, no more tears, a new earth a new heaven…….I think it will knock our socks off. :)

    I am also glad that marriage will not be a factor there. I don’t know about the rest of you, but marriage is hard! I love my husband, but it’s tough and I am glad that I won’t have to deal with the ups and downs of marriage anymore! What a relief. I found that since I no longer believe that marriage is eternal or necessary, that I am much nicer of wife. :) Given to nag much less and just a lot more relaxed in general. I am also glad that I don’t have to be a mom forever either!!! Being a mom is hard work, and I am glad I will be able to enjoy the companionship of my kids without the challenges of parenting.

    I am sure that whatever heaven will be like will absolutely astound us!

    Regards,
    gloria

  119. The question is not whether or not Jesus could have done things a different way than he did.

    Evangelicals have to assume he did it the BEST way right? Sure he could have done it another way but who are we to question GOD in how he runs his show, if he wants to spread the saving message to a small group and not do a “terrific” job using imperfect humans, who is going to say that this is the wrong way

    But when we look at the best way to do it, Jesus didn’t spread the saving gospel to the world very effectively himself, according to the Gospels he even avoided spreading it outside the

    What does seem silly and self serving is to not engage the substance of the thought but simply gasp and sigh at the way it is said.

    Also, be advised that I, by no means represent “Mormons” I am definitely a heretic.

  120. I think people who think that that “usual ups and downs” will still apply in heaven don’t really understand the concept of being exalted all that well.

    And I think Mormons have more than adequately argued that Jesus’ words were not a declaration of no marital relations in heaven.

  121. Jared,

    The reason “why” I sigh is because sometimes I am shocked that any LDS would think Jesus did a less than perfect job in anything……I guess sighing is better than arguing or getting mad.

    Regards,

    Gloria

  122. ps. for what it’s worth I sigh as well when my close LDS friend tells me the blood of Jesus is not enough to save me……not enough to receive eternal life……..

    it’s sad, and that is why I sigh. Because honestly, at times I feel like crying.

    It breaks my heart,

    gloria

  123. Gloria,

    That same passage appears in Mark as well.. and it’s more of a repudiation to the Sadducees who were trying to make a mockery of Jesus by using a Deuteronomy command while they didn’t believe in a resurrection.

    Your marital ups and downs are a result of our current state. I do concur that they will no longer exist. Marriage as a constitutional command for procreation is probably less likely as well considering there’s no more death.

    You still haven’t answered what you do with the new creation and the notion that it’s not good for man to be alone. I’m not buying the “we’ll all wear white robes and sing kumbaya” atmosphere of too many evangelicals. It defeats the purpose of creation.

    Mick

  124. I don’t think Jared thinks that Jesus did a “less than perfect job.”

    I think he was making a rhetorical point. I could be wrong though…

  125. Mick ~~
    God said it was “not good for man” to be alone I believe it truly means it is not good for man to be alone. Seriously. God created us as social creatures in need of human companionship. We are told to not forsake the fellowship of believers, because we are encouraged when we are around other believers. There is also the accountability factor when we are involved in fellowship. He also wants us to have fellowship with Him.

    In heaven we will not be alone. We will have fellowship with other believers, and more importantly with God Almighty! How can it get any better than that?

    You say you don’t “buy it”, and I say where does God speak in His word of the continuation of the marriage relationship in the next life? It just isn’t there, Mick.

    The Bible is our authority. We can not add to what is written there. God has not said we will be married in the next life. I personally , as well as many other Christians believe the Bible clearly states that.

    Now, if you don’t “buy” that, it is your choice to not buy it, but it’s what God has written in His Word, is it not?
    He said we will be like the angels, sons & daughter of God.
    Are you not satisified with that, Mick?

    If you do believe in the continuation of the marriage relationship will you please cite your sources for such a belief? Did christ teach that? Where is that in the Bible? How do you deal with your “personal” beliefs that may not be biblical?

    Kind regards,
    Gloria

  126. ;-)

    Why do people need to get ‘personal’ and begin personal attacks when they disagree?

    Looks too much like the start of an infamous Non-Sequitur Cage Match … before you know it, someone will call me a Mormon …

    Mick

  127. Gloria,

    I don’t think that Jesus did a less than perfect job,

    If he is God its our job to understand why what he did was so good, all things considered.

    But I can’t see how Evangelicals think that their conception makes Jesus look anything other than imperfect. . .

    I suppose I should make another post on this to open up an opportunity to clear the air on this point.

    Mormons believe Jesus is perfect and that the plan of salvation is perfect and that it gives us all a fair chance at salvation and exaltation.

    I don’t see the same thing in Evangelism. It seems that salvation is limited to those who were lucky enough to be evangelized ( by other people BTW).

    I am sure there is a better, more charitable way of viewing Evangelism than I use now, and I am open to hearing it, I just can’t derive that from your comments and your position on Jesus and how he uses human beings. It seems that Jesus thinks a lot more highly of us people than you do. . ..

  128. Mick I concur that we are destined for the New Earth not Heaven. You’d perhaps enjoy a book by NT Wright entitled “Surprised by Hope”. Though we are destined for the city of God, I’m not living for that, nor is my hope found there. My hope is found in Jesus. In the interactions found above, I don’t see any Evangelical claiming they are excited to wear white robes and sing kumbaya.

    Jared,
    There are numerous stories coming out about unbelievers in the Muslim world encountering Jesus in visions. If these stories are true, then it goes to show that Jesus does not need us to evangelize to people for him to reach them.

    There are all kinds of Evangelical answers on how and those who have not heard can be saved. Aaron and I share very different views. (I take the view of “Middle Knowledge” if you’d like to look it up). Regardless of our own personal view, all Evangelicals agree that salvation is a gift given to those who don’t deserve it.

  129. Alex,

    My pastor shared this beautiful passage tonight with me about ‘why’ we were created, and I thought of your remark you made here.

    “Bring my sons from far away, bring my daughters from faraway places. Bring to me all the people who are mine.
    I made them for My glory, I formed them ; I made them. ”
    — Isaiah 43:6&7

    Regards,
    gloria

  130. Tim,

    I admit the Kumbaya stuff is a little facetious… but you caught my drift. I’ve read some N.T.Wright stuff.. not that one though. Consider it added to my list.

    I concur our hope for eternal salvation and being able to have eternal fellowship is purely based on Christ.

    Haven’t quite figured out what I’m living for (yet) ;-) I will when I grow up I’m sure

    Mick

  131. Tim said:

    There are all kinds of Evangelical answers on how and those who have not heard can be saved. Aaron and I share very different views. (I take the view of “Middle Knowledge” if you’d like to look it up).

    The term is a new one to me, but it sounds a lot to me like D&C 137:7-8:

    Thus came the voice of the Lord unto me, saying: All who have died without a knowledge of this gospel, who would have received it if they had been permitted to tarry, shall be heirs of the celestial kingdom of God; also all that shall die henceforth without a knowledge of it, who would have received it with all their hearts, shall be heirs of that kingdom …

    Is that basically what you mean?

  132. The term refers to God’s middle knowledge, the knowledge of all possible situations. He then chooses the path that will bring the most to salvation.

  133. Perhaps you could develop that idea in another post sometime. I am genuinely curious about it.

  134. Blake Ostler deals at length with the concept of “Middle Knowledge” in his first volume of Exploring Mormon Thought. I am actually planning on doing a series where I summarize and discuss Blake’s first and third volumes, so I can add this subject to the programme. I think the concept is as incoherent and theologically unsatisfying as is that notion of simple foreknowledge, but I digress for now.

    TRD

  135. Earlier in this thread, Seth complained about evangelicals who de-value humanity too much (see comment here). I came across this passage in my theology textbook tonight and thought it was appropriate:

    ——————

    Humanity is, nonetheless, something wonderful. Although they are creatures, humans are the highest among them, the only ones made in the image of God. The fact that the Lord of the entire universe made us simply adds to the grandeur of humanity by giving us a trademark as it were. We are not simply a chance production of a blind mechanism, or a byproduct or scraps thrown off in the process of making something better, but an expressly designed product of God.

    Sometimes Christians have felt it necessary to minimize human ability and accomplishments in order to give greater glory to God. To be sure, we must put human achievements in their proper context relative to God. But it is not necessary to protect God against competition from his highest creature. Human greatness can glorify God the more. We should frankly acknowledge that humans have done many wondrous things. They are indeed amazing beings, both in what they are and what they can do. But how much greater must be the One who made them! [Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology, 2nd edition (Grand Rapids, Mich.: BakerAcademic, 1998), 515-16.]

    ——————

    I get that the “marvelous creature” view is still not appealing to Mormons; that’s just an essential difference between us. But I think it’s a healthier view than the one advocated by “humanity stinketh” proponents.

  136. Seth,

    Do you have a blog? I have enjoyed your attempts at trying to sort out or “un” sort the evangelical testimony vs. the LDS testimony.

    I find it interesting that only a few people in this thread, seem to recognize that an emphasis on the differences are in and of themselves a stumbling block to enlightenment. Of course it is self preservation to do so. Understandable.

    You are one of the few that come across as taking a sincere approach to building a case for clear and deconstructed thought on any given topic.

    I read where you said that you have repeated things many times over that don’t seem to sink in for the readers. I would like to peruse some of your writing.

    Thanks for the efforts.

    Dolly

  137. Seth has a blog (if you click his name at the beginning of his comments, it’ll take you to his group’s site). The problem: he never writes on it. You only get the jewel of Seth R on other people’s blogs.

  138. I keep telling people that I have no original ideas. I only respond to the ideas of others.

    No one ever believes me though…

  139. I was wondering what happened to all the comments I got on that post ripping into me for being a shallow sexist pig. I seem to recall that I got a bit of flack for that.

    Maybe it was all over on Feminist Mormon Housewives….

  140. Thank you for posting this Tim! I am a new Ravi fan and spent my day listening to his brilliant sermons. :) My LDS husband saw what I was watching and was very impressed. Wow, this man is amazing. My DH has a list of Ravi books he wants to order right now.
    Do you have any favorites?

  141. Pingback: I now understand why homosexuality is wrong « Irresistible (Dis)Grace

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