Careful how you answer- The theology exam to get you to heaven

Mormons often imagine that Evangelical belief implies some sort of theology exam to get into heaven. i.e. to prove you have faith in the “right” jesus. Now this may not be accurate, but its a darn popular Mormon conception once aquainted with the basic of Evangelicalism and the charge that Mormons aren’t Christians or believe in a different Jesus.

This quiz may be pretty close to what  they imagine.  It may be worth taking just to see what Jesus you actually believe in.

I took the exam and Here is how I scored- I guess its eternal hellfire for me:

You Scored as Pelagianism

You are a Pelagian. You reject ideas about man’s fallen human nature and believe that as a result we are able to fully obey God. You are the first Briton to contribute significantly to Christian thought, but you’re still excommunicated in 417.

Pelagianism
92%
Monophysitism
75%
Apollanarian
58%
Chalcedon compliant
58%
Nestorianism
50%
Socinianism
33%
Monarchianism
25%
Donatism
25%
Adoptionist
25%
Modalism
17%
Albigensianism
8%
Gnosticism
8%
Arianism
0%
Docetism
0%
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170 thoughts on “Careful how you answer- The theology exam to get you to heaven

  1. I didn’t even understand some of the questions, and I felt like the same quesiton was asked 20 times: Jesus/Father/Spirit are one person (or some twist on that)—though I’m sure those questions are only “all the same” because of my Mormon perspective.

  2. “You Scored as Chalcedon compliant

    You are Chalcedon compliant.

    Congratulations, you’re not a heretic. You believe that Jesus is truly God and truly man and like us in every respect, apart from sin. Officially approved in 451.”

    I guess all those hours attending my pastor’s classes paid off! 😀

  3. BrianJ,

    The wording pretty much reflects various Christological controversies in understanding the divinity of Christ while maintaining his humanity and monotheism. The wording come right about of the age of the great fathers in the post persecution era.

  4. Many of the questions seemed a lot alike to me too, and there were a fair number that my answer would depend on how the terms are defined.

    Anyway, here’s what it said about me:

    You are Chalcedon compliant. Congratulations, you’re not a heretic. You believe that Jesus is truly God and truly man and like us in every respect, apart from sin.

    If that’s what it means to be Chalcedon compliant (and I’m barely familiar with the Council of Chalcedon, so I don’t know), then I suppose I am.

    FWIW, I scored at 67% Chalcedon compliant and 50% Pelagian (so does that make me half a heretic?).

    I scored at 0% modalistic, so that’s good from an LDS perspective, I suppose.

  5. I scored 100% Pelagian, but that is probably mostly because I felt like I didn’t agree with the majority of the questions at all and didn’t spend a lot of time contemplating if my feelings were actually somewhere within a broader spectrum.

    And since Eric and Brian also felt that the questions were repetitive, I think this definitely highlights some of the key differences between Mormon theology and mainstream Christian theology (hey, look at that–I claimed that Mormons have theology). More to the point, we don’t worry about some of the apparent struggles that mainstream Christianity has with reconciling Jesus the Man and Jesus the God.

  6. Pelagianism
    92%
    Monophysitism
    67%
    Nestorianism
    58%
    Chalcedon compliant
    50%
    Adoptionist
    42%
    Apollanarian
    42%
    Monarchianism
    25%
    Donatism
    17%
    Docetism
    8%
    Arianism
    8%
    Gnosticism
    8%
    Albigensianism
    0%
    Modalism
    0%
    Socinianism
    0%

  7. Oh, here’s the notification language accompanying Pelagianism:

    “You Scored as Pelagianism

    You are a Pelagian. You reject ideas about man’s fallen human nature and believe that as a result we are able to fully obey God. You are the first Briton to contribute significantly to Christian thought, but you’re still excommunicated in 417.”

    Incidentally, the Wikipedia entry on Pelagianism has a note on Mormonism noting that he said “The theology of Mormonism is completely Pelagian.”

  8. A side note (question for LDS on this site)

    From Ether,

    “Behold I am Jesus Christ, I am the Father and the Son. In me shall all mankind have life, and that eternally, even they who shall believe on my name; and they shall become my sons and my daughters.”

    What do you make of this statement by Bror Erickson? (a Lutheran pastor in Utah) :

    “I am the Father and the Son,” This is what I mean when I say Mormon’s don’t believe the Book of Mormon. I have yet to ask a Mormon if Jesus is God, and get a positive answer. I am always told he is the son. But here in their own book Jesus confesses to be the Father as well as the Son.

    I’m just wondering if someone has a good explanation for the discrepancy.

    Here’s his site, by the way:
    http://utah-lutheran.blogspot.com/2011/04/jesus-is-father.html

  9. Sure you got a good answer adam.

    I gave you one. Like, a year ago.

    The reason we don’t give you a straight answer on that is because we know you guys are trying to push modalism on us.

    And we don’t believe in modalism.

    It’s that simple.

  10. Adam, I just gave a talk in my ward on Easter discussing the importance of Christ being God. If you are interested, the text of it can be found here. It has actually been a common discussion point within my ward and my Institute class for the past year. So there’s a group of Mormons who will quite definitely affirm that Jesus is God (although not in the Trinitarian sense that many would interpret that statement).

    When I went to read more about Pelagianism, I ended up on the wiki page for Pelagius, instead. Having gone to the correct page, though, I’d say it is a pretty big leap to say that Mormonism’s rejection of the doctrine of Original Sin makes it entirely Pelagian.

    I’m curious to know, though… How many LDS doctrines are found within the various heresies of mainstream Christianity?

  11. “How many LDS doctrines are found within the various heresies of mainstream Christianity?”

    I just love that question.

  12. Chalcedon compliant
    100%
    Apollanarian
    42%
    Pelagianism
    33%
    Nestorianism
    33%
    Monophysitism
    33%
    Adoptionist
    17%

    I scored 0% on all the other views represented. And I suspect I only scored so high on Apollinarianism because one of the questions intended to probe at that was a bit too nebulous, IMO.

  13. Alex said:

    I’d say it is a pretty big leap to say that Mormonism’s rejection of the doctrine of Original Sin makes it entirely Pelagian.

    I agree. There are definitely Pelagian elements, though, in LDS thought. I don’t think it would be too much of a stretch to see significant similarities between LDS thought and semi-Pelagianism, however.

    Excellent Easter talk, by the way.

    How many LDS doctrines are found within the various heresies of mainstream Christianity?

    Interesting question.

    The problem with the “heresies” in this particular quiz (and I don’t think it’s a very well-written quiz) is that many of them are of primarily historical interest and don’t reflect many of the issues that divide Christians today, at least in Western Christianity.

    I found what appears to be a decent summary of most of these heresies:

    Christian Heresies

    Probably the “heresy” that has the most similarities with LDS belief is Arianism. But there are also substantial differences between Arianism and LDSism. So while we believe in a sort of subordination of Son to Father, that’s a long way from the Arian belief that the Father “created” the Son.

    FWIW, the heresy that’s probably most prevalent in popular evangelical thought (not what they teach in seminaries, but what evangelicals who haven’t studied theology believe) is modalism. Most evangelicals (not counting pastors or amateur apologists like you’ll find in the blogosphere) I’ve talked to, when I’ve asked them how they understand the Trinity, have given me a modalistic explanation.

  14. “You believe that God was once perhaps a sinner.”

    “You believe that the correct mode of baptism is more important than the issue of whether God the Father was once a sinner.”

    “You believe that a person can be a Christian and also believe that God the Father sinned.”

    “You believe that sinners can become Gods someday, rightly worshiped and prayed to by their own spirit children.”

    “You believe you are a ‘King of kings, Lord of lords’ in embryo.”

  15. “some [Saints]… believed that the spirit of Christ, before taking a tabernacle, was the Father, exclusively of any other being. They suppose the fleshly tabernacle to be the Son, and the Spirit who came and dwelt in it to be the Father; hence they suppose the Father and Son were united in one person, and that when Jesus dwelt on the earth in the flesh, they suppose there was no distinct separate person from himself who was called the Father.” (Orson Pratt, 1849)

  16. When I went to read more about Pelagianism, I ended up on the wiki page for Pelagius, instead. Having gone to the correct page, though, I’d say it is a pretty big leap to say that Mormonism’s rejection of the doctrine of Original Sin makes it entirely Pelagian.

    Original Sin and Pelagianism are not logically related, but historically they are contemporaries. Augustine did a lot of theology related to countering Pelagianism, and developing the doctrine of original sin was a big part of that. The bottom line is that you can avoid pelagianism and not believe in original sin. But, if you believe in original sin, there’s pretty much no way to be a Pelagian.

    Having said that, Mormons tend to be hyper-Arminian to Pelagian. New York/Kirtland era tends to lean more Arminian, but Nauvoo moved the church towards Pelagianism in a big way.

    I’m curious to know, though… How many LDS doctrines are found within the various heresies of mainstream Christianity?

    A lot. Pelagianism and Arianism tend to be the most visible. Oddly enough, many Mormon conceptions of Jesus tend to be Docetic, though with a Mormon twist. In all fairness, Docetism is alive and well in mainstream Christianity as well. Mormons are pretty immune from Monophysitism, but I think Mormonism is Nestorian by nature, though again with an LDS twist. Mormons would also probably be adoptionistic, though the adoption of Jesus would be located in the pre-Earth life, which again is a Mormon twist on the heresy.

    In all honesty though, most Church Fathers probably wouldn’t even bother with that stuff and would simply declare LDS theology to be polytheistic and/or pagan.

  17. Before someone says it, I know that claiming something to be both Nestorian and Docetic is odd.

  18. I’m just wondering how I managed to score almost equally on Monophysitisn and Nestorianism at the same time. Aren’t they like – supposed to be opposed to each other?

  19. I’m just wondering how I managed to score almost equally on Monophysitisn and Nestorianism at the same time. Aren’t they like – supposed to be opposed to each other?

    Yes they are opposites.

    My guess is this is because the concepts in modern Mormonism don’t exactly map 1:1 onto the concepts as they were discussed in the church councils (and which continue to be discussed in Christian theology books). Plus, Mormons are dealing with concepts which simply don’t exist in orthodox Christian thought, such as pre-Earth life, intelligences, eternal progression, etc. The bottom line is that the concepts do not directly map, so due to terminological differences you might score as both Nestorian and Monophysite.

    That’s what I was getting at when I said it was odd to say that Mormons can be Docetic and Nestorian at the same time. Nestorianism and Docetism are mostly at odds, but because there is no direct mapping, enough of both can apply for the labels to stick.

  20. Because the LDS don’t make a distinction between the two natures of Christ so the categories are meaningless for the Mormon.

  21. David,

    Maybe in the future you can flesh out how docetism and nestorianism fit within Mormon theology.

  22. “I’m curious to know, though… How many LDS doctrines are found within the various heresies of mainstream Christianity?”

    Thinking about this some more, isn’t this exactly the sort of thing Mormonism would predict? We say that during the Apostasy, many truths were lost, distorted, confounded, or otherwise buried—and, well, a really efficient way to bury a truth is to declare it a heresy (and, in some cases, burn anyone who preaches it).

  23. Yes but none of the Christological controversies we are talking about proposed an anthropomorphic God of the same species. In fact that position seems to be pretty much absent from the debates regarding the relationship between the Father and the Son. Difficult to apostisize from an absent position.

  24. Aaron S said:

    “You believe that God was once perhaps a sinner.”

    “You believe …

    “You believe …

    “You believe …

    “You believe …”

    Don’t tell me what I believe. And if you’re going to talk about what Mormons believe, at least be accurate.

  25. Gundek: just to clarify, I’m not trying to suggest that every LDS doctrine can be traced to some heresy.

    “pretty much absent”

    “pretty much” or “completely”?

  26. Adam (or Gundek): Which definitions of the word “God” below are you using when you say “Jesus is God”?

    1. divinely appointed human judge (Ps 82:6).
    2. an idol (an imaginary god that doesn’t exist; or, a set of lies that control you) (Acts 14:11; 1Co 8:4-5).
    3. a powerful spiritual god who is not almighty (for example, 2Co 4:4–the devil).
    4. anything that controls you (in Phil. 3:19, the belly).
    5. that which binds Father, Son, & Holy Spirit together into one (a “what,” not a “who”) (2 Cor. 5:19).
    6. the person of the Father (a “who”) (the God whom Jesus prayed to and obeyed [John 17:3; 20:17; 1Co 8:6]).
    7. a combination of #s 5 & 6 (both a “what” and a “who”).
    8. the person of Jesus, the Son of God (a “who”).
    9. a combination of #s 5 & 8 (both a “what” and a “who”).
    10. the supreme governmental unit made up of three persons: Father, Son & Holy Spirit (a “what”).

    It seems to me that when Trinitarians describe the Trinity in a defensive mode, they usually define “God” as the essence and nature that binds Father & Son together (that which they share, that which makes them one) (#5).

  27. As a system I am unaware of Mormon theology being found at all. You can find some individual doctrines, like the Platonic view of creation from existing matter and preexisting souls in Origen. But he denied an anthropomorphic God and insisted on monotheism.

    So I think you may find individual doctrines with an appearance of similarly, but when examined in its theological context the similarity is inconsistent with the rest of Mormon doctrine.

  28. Cal,

    I have no earthly clue what your point is? I am sure you have one but your over my head.

  29. Eric, I figured Aaron was simply talking to himself and I shouldn’t bother him.

    After all, I don’t think he was really talking to any of us.

  30. Cal,

    I just believe (as Jesus said) that he, Christ Jesus and the Father are one.

    The Father is in the Son, the Son is in the Father, the Spirit is in the Son, the Father is in the Spirit…yada, yada, yada.

  31. Gundek, I was going to make my point after you answer the question.

    theoldadam, that’s great.

  32. Eric, I wasn’t telling you what you believe. I was adding questions to the heresy quiz.

    If you think people would be heretics and non-Christians for believing that God the Father once sinned, then that’s great!

  33. Aaron, maybe you should have said that in the first place, instead of just posting a bunch of loaded questions that you glory in asking Mormons who don’t realise that you have absolutely no desire to know what they believe, but just want to have fodder for your videos.

  34. Alex, if I may point out an irony in response to your nasty personal attack: I’ve asked those kinds of God-never-sinned questions a thousand times more than have ever been recorded on video.

  35. I don’t think Alex’s comment was anything close to a “nasty personal attack,” and pointing out just how much of a broken record your comments are just strengthens his case.

  36. Gundek said, “In that case, none of the above.”

    I listed every biblical definition for the word “God” that I could think of and then added another one. How could you say, “None of the above”? What on earth could your definition be?

    theoldadam, if I could prove that the LDS teaches that Christ Jesus and the Father are one, that the Father is in the Son, the Son is in the Father, the Spirit is in the Son, the Father is in the Spirit…yada, yada, yada, would you say the LDS believes in the divinity of Christ?

  37. Aaron S., are you asserting that the LDS teaches today that God the Father once sinned? If so, where did you get that info?

  38. Aaron S., are you asserting that the LDS teaches today that God the Father once sinned? If so, where did you get that info?

    “As man is God once was, as God is man may be.” This is a couplet coined by Lorenzo Snow. From this one may conclude that since men are sinners now, so God once was. If there are more direct routes to this conclusion, I am unaware of them.

    Many Mormons try and argue that one may conclude that Elohim, God the Father, once played the role of Jesus Christ in his mortal sojourn, thus making him sinless, since Jesus Christ is sinless. I find the proof texts brought to bear on that unconvincing because they rip the quotes out of context.

    Still, if Mormons want to assert that, that’ fine. However, there is one thing they can’t do, from a philosophical perspective; they can’t make God the Father necessarily sinless, he can at best be contingently sinless.

  39. Every definition Cal?

    The word God is used 4717 times in 4064 verses in the AV, you insist that you have provided every definition of the word possible in a mere 150 word Internet comment?

  40. Cal, I’ve got quite a bit of info here about the issue, where you can read my specific claims on the issue:

    http://GodNeverSinned.com

    In short, Mormonism fosters the idea that God at least perhaps sinned (with a spectrum of beliefs ranging from God definitely-did/probably/perhaps/did-not sinned), and those Mormons that do believe God the Father never sinned usually still believe sinners can become full-blown Gods worshiped and prayed to by their own future spirit children.

  41. Really I don’t care one way or the other whether God had sins once or not. The only way the question even matters is if you accept the Neo-Platonist paradigm that informed the Nicene Creed in the first place. If you don’t have much use for Neo-Platonism, then the question becomes largely irrelevant.

    Biblically, you can take either view in this instance.

  42. Much like the Neo-Platonist view on the pre-existence of souls, eternal matter, or creation ex-mantra.

  43. “necessarily sinless…contingently sinless”

    You mind fleshing those terms out more?

    “those Mormons that do believe God the Father never sinned usually still believe sinners can become full-blown Gods “

    Yup. Praise the Lord!

  44. “those Mormons that do believe God the Father never sinned usually still believe sinners can become full-blown Gods “

    Yup. Praise the Lord!

    In all fairness, I don’t know that your teach that, nor that you emphasize that.

  45. David Clark: thanks for clarifying your use of terms. I guess I’d respond as Seth: it doesn’t matter to me. But I’ve seen Mormons (even Internet Mormons) argue otherwise; viz., that God has always been God and therefore always sinless.

  46. Right David. And it’s actually the whole idea of philosophical necessity vs. philosophical contingency that I consider to be fundamentally inadequate here.

    If you don’t really give a flying fig about contingency vs. necessity, then the whole question of God’s past becomes irrelevant.

    Gundeck, David has pointed to the actual core of neo-platonism. The whole idea of the necessary and the contingent. That is far more fundamental to the philosophical outlook than mere incidentals like the view of the soul. Which makes traditional Christianity more fundamentally neo-Platonist than Mormonism is.

  47. Seth

    Are you saying necessary and contingent truths are a neo-Platonic concept? That’s interesting.

  48. I wouldn’t call it exclusively so. But it appears to have been the most recent manifestation of the concept around the time of Nicea.

  49. Gundek asked, “Every definition Cal? . . . The word God is used 4717 times in 4064 verses in the AV, you insist that you have provided every definition of the word possible in a mere 150 word Internet comment?”

    Is it OK if I’m straight with you? You’re doing the same thing to me that you do to Mormons. I didn’t say I listed every definition. I said, and I quote, “I listed every biblical definition . . . that I could think of.”

    You’re beating around the bush. I only want to know what your definition of “God” is when you say “Jesus is God.” Is that too much to ask? I believe Jesus is God as you do but not according to every possible definition of the word.

    I’m trying to break through the lack of understanding between LDS and evangelicals and therefore break through the lack of effective communication between us. I’m not trying to trap you. I’m trying to help you & me & all Christians (& even non-Christians) on both sides of the great debate here. And ultimately help advance the kingdom of God and advance his glory. Can you help me out?

  50. Thanks, David Clark & Aaron S.
    I was familiar with the couplet that David mentioned but never considered the idea that it might open up the possibility that God once sinned.
    Aaron, I watched 33% of your interesting and informative video. You let them speak for themselves and didn’t chew them out. (The next question is, “Will God disallow entrance to heaven to those who think God may have sinned at some point in the past even though they have made Jesus their personal Lord?” I don’t believe so, but that’s another issue.)

  51. Which makes traditional Christianity more fundamentally neo-Platonist than Mormonism is.

    Forgive me for being obtuse, but are there any other conclusions you draw from that? In and of itself the statement seems rather banal.

  52. I’ll admit, some of those questions were confusing unless you knew what they were getting at.

    HERETIC

    Nestorianism 67%
    Chalcedon compliant 67%

    I think the quiz was probably put together by a Catholic.

  53. Alex said
    “I’m curious to know, though… How many LDS doctrines are found within the various heresies of mainstream Christianity?”

    many of them in one form or the other can display links to other heresies. And it’s no surprise to find LDS apologist proof-texting ancient heretics in support of Mormonism.

    But as illustrated above some of the heresies contradict one another. In part because Joseph and Sidney were grabbing bits and pieces here and there that they liked and never entered into the larger (and older) theological discussion.

    I think the heresies that Mormons hold most near and dear are not actually all that big of a deal. They might be weird to the Christian world but they’re not that serious. (baptism for the dead, eternal marriage, exclusive priesthood, longevity policies that declare someone to be a prophet)

    It’s the ones “I’m not sure we teach” that are the hang up.

  54. Hooray, I get into heaven!

    Chalcedon compliant: 100%
    Monophysitism: 33%
    Socinianism: 33%
    Monarchianism: 0%
    Donatism: 0%
    Albigensianism: 0%
    Pelagianism: 0%
    Modalism: 0%
    Arianism: 0%
    Apollanarian: 0%
    Adoptionist: 0%
    Gnosticism: 0%
    Docetism: 0%
    Nestorianism: 0%

    I do have to say, it’s pretty much a quiz of how well you know the early church councils and debates, with an extra emphasis on Augustine.

  55. theoldadam, if I could prove that the LDS teaches that Christ Jesus and the Father are one, that the Father is in the Son, the Son is in the Father, the Spirit is in the Son, the Father is in the Spirit…yada, yada, yada, would you say the LDS believes in the divinity of Christ?

    Cal,

    If you could prove that LDS teach that God and Jesus are one, and equal, then I would say yes.

  56. “It’s the ones “I’m not sure we teach” that are the hang up.”

    Cute, but even a quick glance at the Gospel Principles or Old Testament manuals reveals a bunch of dealbreakers—unless you’re okay with, for examples, an embodied Father and pre-existing matter. But I think you were just trying to play off of David Clark’s misuse of that phrase…

    …which he misused because he applied it to my praise for the doctrine of exaltation, whereas Time Magazine reported Hinckley’s statement as a response to a question about God the Father once being a man.

  57. Yes, I was just being cute. It’s was a shorthanded way of mentioning doctrines that might be considered “meat” in discussions where the LDS church wants to appear mainstream.

    an embodied Father would be on the list.

  58. So does Tim and David Clark each believe in a different Jesus?

    Does Eric have the right Jesus as far as traditional Christians are concerned?

  59. Damnit Tim, you’re always cute! That’s why I just can’t quit this blog.

    So you were thinking along the lines of what foot the LDS Church puts forward? Hmmmm. That’s an interesting question: which doctrines does the LDS Church lead with, and are any of those dealbreakers? Might be hard to define what we mean by “lead’ though, such as media outlets, Conference, etc.

  60. theoldadam said, “If you could prove that LDS teach that God and Jesus are one, and equal, then I would say yes—[the LDS believes in the divinity of Christ].”

    Hmmmmm. You’ve given me a challenge.

  61. If by “one” theoldadam means the same personage, then no, you are not going to find anything supporting that belief in LDS teachings. It is a rather core belief that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are three separate and distinct personages who are one in purpose and unity.

  62. Just when I needed you, Alex!

    theoldadam can correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure he’s a Trinitarian in which case he definitely does not believe God (the Father) is the same person as Jesus.

    Could you flesh out “one in purpose and unity”? Would you say that the love of the Father is in the Son and the Son is in the love of the Father?(—my interpretation of theoldadam’s statement).

    I know the LDS teaches that Jesus is divine. You might flesh that out as well, Alex.

    “True To the Faith,” an official LDS publication, says on p. 89 that Jesus “is the light, the life, and the hope of the world.”

  63. Cal,

    I understand precisely what you are trying to do. If I am beating around the bush it is because we have had this conversation before and I answered your questions about the Trinity to no avail. You are operating with the assumption that there is a “lack of understanding between LDS and evangelicals” and that all that is needed is “effective communication” in order to overcome theological gulf that exists between Mormons and orthodox Christians. I couldn’t disagree more.

    Alex told you “It is a rather core belief that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are three separate and distinct personages who are one in purpose and unity.” I take him at his word. I believe that Alex understands the theology of his church well enough to effectively communicate something that is a core belief. I respect his understanding of his theological tradition, and his theological capacity to lay out his beliefs in a succinct manner.

    Alex’s core belief has been anathematized in various historic creeds of the Christian church and, more importantly for me at least, is outside the bounds of my denominations Confession of Faith. I am sure that it does not bother Alex one whit that creeds and confessions that all precede his church by hundreds if not thousands of years don’t agree with him.

    From my perspective Alex and I can easily discuss our theologies without being rude, we could be neighbors, friends etc. But we cannot gloss over the differences, especially on our core beliefs. In fact I think it is insulting to Mormons to come along with the claim that they are incapable of effective communications, or that it is particularly glorifying to God to ignore core theological differences.

    In the original post Jared expressed that Mormons believe that evangelicals believe there is a “theology exam to get into heaven”. You seem to be on a one man crusade to prove him right. All you need to do is design the test and Cal can make sure everybody goes to heaven.

    As a confessional Presbyterian I can say that a theological exam for entrance to heaven is anathema to the doctrines of my Church. The Westminster divines wrote,” The Lord Jesus, by His perfect obedience, and sacrifice of Himself, which He through the eternal Spirit, once offered up unto God, has fully satisfied the justice of His Father; and purchased, not only reconciliation, but an everlasting inheritance in the kingdom of heaven, for those whom the Father has given unto Him.” There is no theology exam to get into heaven, only the object of our faith, the perfect obedience of the LORD Jesus.

    Doctrinally I can only make this claim because Christ “work of mediation, acts according to both natures,” both his divinity and his humanity. When you ignore Alex and try for a more effective communication you should understand exactly what is at stake from my perspective, the very work of Christ.

  64. Damnit Tim, you’re always cute! That’s why I just can’t quit this blog.

    And all this time the Sister Wives and I were under the impression that we were the reason you couldn’t quit it. 😦

  65. And I guess, Gundeck, that I can only restate my position that you cannot anathematize someone over a doctrine you can’t even explain coherently.

  66. Gundek, thanks for your complete explanation of where you’re coming from—although, of course, it’s still true, as Seth said, that you cannot anathematize someone over a doctrine you can’t even explain coherently.

    You said, “If I am beating around the bush it is because we have had this conversation before and I answered your questions about the Trinity to no avail.”

    If you want me to leave you alone on this topic, just tell me and I will. I don’t believe in forcing something on someone who is not open to it.

    If you DON’T want me to leave you alone, I have a few more comments: How does Alex’s statement that “the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are three separate and distinct personages who are one in purpose and unity” disagree with the ancient creeds?
    Alex can correct me if I’m wrong but when he says “separate and distinct” he does not mean that Jesus was void of the Spirit of God.

    I agree 100% with the Westminster divine that you quoted. And the only situation in which the LDS would disagree with it, would be a case in which they are misunderstanding it.

    I don’t believe there is a “theology exam to get into heaven.” We get to heaven by faith in the finished work of Jesus’ substitutionary death on the cross on our behalf. This faith is not dead (James 2:26), but it works (James 2:18). It’s a faith that causes a surrender of one’s will. Have you surrendered? I assume you have.

    I respect your adherence to the effectiveness of Jesus shed blood for us. I’m not arguing against that! And I’m not ignoring Alex, as you claim. I’m seeking his help, actually . . . and Seth’s, etc.

    It is true that I appeal in the end to the top Mormon officials to form my understanding of their doctrine. I also pray all the time for God to give me an understanding both of the Bible as well as official Mormon doctrine. I pray for you also.

    If Alex says something that doesn’t agree with his church—and he hasn’t yet as far as I know—then I would quote LDS leaders. I don’t think Alex would mind that. He doesn’t claim to be the ultimate authority.

  67. Seth,

    I would tend to agree and that is why we have confessions, catechisms, and creeds, to explain coherently a system of doctrines. Unlike the LDS with cor

  68. Punting to the creeds and catechisms doesn’t help here.

    Because they haven’t been able to coherently explain homoousis either. Ultimately all arguments on homoousis end up punting to the “it’s a mystery” explanation.

    Which is fine. Call it a mystery if you want. But you have no right to anathematize people on a doctrine you consider “a mystery.”

  69. Cal,

    Go to lds.org and lookup “Nicene” and “Nicea” and see what you get for results. For example try this article:

    http://lds.org/general-conference/2007/10/the-only-true-god-and-jesus-christ-whom-he-hath-sent?lang=eng

    Or this one:

    http://lds.org/general-conference/2007/10/the-stone-cut-out-of-the-mountain?lang=eng&query=nicene

    They are all going to say the same thing: that the Nicene creed is incomprehensible and that the LDS church adamantly rejects it.

    This leaves you, Cal, with only two possible conclusions. One is that the church says what it means, means what it says, and understands the differences in positions. The other is to conclude that every single person leading the LDS church is an utter idiot, without the abilities to read, form coherent thoughts, and communicate said thoughts. Only on the second view can the LDS be seen as crypto-trinitarians.

    I tend to take position #1 as it is the more charitable position to take, because it’s generally charitable to assume people are not idiots.

  70. The Nicene Creed is a sizeable document with more than a few ideas in it.

    Which PART of that creed are they talking about David?

    My understanding was that whenever an LDS leader talks about Nicea, they are really talking about the doctrine of homoousis.

  71. The Nicene Creed is a sizeable document with more than a few ideas in it.

    In the original Greek it is 177 words.

    Which PART of that creed are they talking about David?

    If you could point to some source where they separate the offending parts from the not offending parts, I would be much obliged.

    My understanding was that whenever an LDS leader talks about Nicea, they are really talking about the doctrine of homoousis.

    I find no reference to homoousios (the generic term), homoousion (the term used in the creed itself), or homoousis on lds.org. I found one hit for “consubstantial,” the English equivalent. It was in a talk referencing Nicea (the Holland link above), but it was put together with words mostly not found in the creed, so it was not directly referring to any part of the Nicene Creed.

    As I said, if you could point to something that the GA’s have said where they make these fine distinctions when talking about the Nicene Creed, I would be much obliged.

  72. Of course they don’t use the word homoousis.

    But it’s been pretty clear from the context of the speeches I’ve heard (and do not remember the citations for) that that is exactly what they were talking about.

    Most Mormons equate Nicea with modalism, as a general rule.

    Try it sometime. Take a survey at your local ward(s) and ask people how they would summarize the Nicene Creed. I’ll bet you dimes to dollars that modalism will be a major accusation.

  73. Seth said:

    Take a survey at your local ward(s) and ask people how they would summarize the Nicene Creed. I’ll bet you dimes to dollars that modalism will be a major accusation.

    That is, if they know anything about the Nicene Creed at all. Or they may think it refers to a God “without body, parts, or passions,” even though that isn’t part of the creed.

    (I’m not agreeing that the creed is modalistic, even if that’s how agreeing LDS might characterize it.)

    I agree with Seth that when LDS leaders criticize the Nicene Creed, it’s because of the homoousis provision. The rest of it we don’t have much of a problem with.

  74. Gundek said: There is no theology exam to get into heaven, only the object of our faith, the perfect obedience of the LORD Jesus.

    If there is no exam, what is the import of believing heresy about Jesus (all other things being equal)?

    The answers I have heard are:

    1. Sorry, you are out of luck, welcome to hell.
    2. Well, we are not really sure, you may be able to get into heaven but it doesn’t mean we can condone your heresy.
    3. Yes, as long as you believe in the core reality of Jesus life and sacrifice and believe it will save you, WELCOME TO HEAVEN!

  75. Eric & Seth,

    OK, the GA’s really don’t like homoousios (though they never actually say that), but like the rest of the Nicene Creed (which is kind of like saying, “I like Newton’s mechanics, I just don’t care for gravity”). And, the LDS church members think that Nicea espouses modalism. I don’t really know what either of those things shows, but I’ll definitely keep them in mind in the future.

  76. Jared,

    My working assumption is that whatever theology one needs to know to enter heaven is based on what hand you were dealt in this life. This means that “believing in the correct Jesus” will be applied differently to different people.

    I also take it as a given that it’s pretty much impossible to know Jesus 100% correctly, since we are dealing with divinity here. So, any idea that one needs to be 100% correct in their beliefs pretty much guarantees universal damnation, which I don’t think was what Jesus was getting at.

    In any case, for some people believing Jesus may involve never having even heard the name Jesus. For those who live in the 21st century, enjoy freedom of religion, leisure time, and are born in a more or less Christian culture, it will probably involve a lot more than the former example. Parable of the talents and all that stuff.

  77. David, how many GAs even know what a hyper-technical term like homoousis is?

    And if some or many of them are aware of it, how many of them would bother using a term like that in a General Conference address or Ensign article (knowing it would go straight over the heads of the audience – just like it did in that Elders Quorum lesson I taught several years ago)?

    Read the sermons closely. Just about every one that I’ve read that ON ITS FACE attacks “the creeds” is actually attacking modalism – or the notion that God is A spirit.

  78. Seth,

    I get it. You are on a personal crusade to shout from the roof tops that LDS people and leaders mistakenly think the Nicene Creed has something to do with modalism. Preach on brother! I still for the life of me don’t understand why this is so important to you.

  79. Jared,

    Excellent question. Error in our theology is idolatrous and is sinful. Unlike the LDS church that proclaims itself the only true church, the confession of my church expresses that even the most pure church is prone to error.

    Heresy is a theological error so grave that it brings into question the object of faith of the person holding it. Since it is the object of our faith not our faith that brings salvation just believing anything is irrelevant.

    Some theologians have made the distinction between a grave but correctable error and a heresy. A correctable error arises from ignorance or misunderstanding and can with faith, prayer, word, and sacrament by the gifts of the Spirit be changed. A heresy does damage to the faith, points away from Christ and refuses correction.

  80. Seth

    If the average Mormon thinks the Nicene Creed is modalistic it brings into question if they have read the creed or know what modalism is.

  81. Cal

    I’m not trying to insult you or dismiss you out of hand but I think you may want to do some personal study on the development of Christian doctrine. Justo Gonzalez has some very good books. If you want to correct the misunderstanding Gonzalez would be a good place to start.

  82. “If the average Mormon… brings into question if they have read the creed….”

    They haven’t.

  83. Gundeck, I think they can be forgiven for assuming modalism.

    Tri-theism makes sense (many Mormons are definitely tri-theist). Modalism makes sense (and many Protestants are modalist – incidence increases the more involved in apologetics they are).

    Traditional Augustinian trinitarianism makes no sense whatsoever. So most Mormons simply assume that their Protestant neighbors hew to one of the options that DOES make sense. It’s not an unreasonable assumption – even if it is wrong.

    The reason this matters is to allow Mormonism to claim what is rightfully its own in every sense that actually matters – a validly MONOTHEISTIC faith tradition.

  84. Why monotheism? If the three personages of the godhood are three separate beings?

  85. I claim to be the ultimate authority only in matters of my personal belief.

    Seth, I am not familiar with the term “tritheism” although I am sure I can understand what it means. What I am trying to figure out is how a tritheistic religion can claim to be a monotheistic religion at the same time. This may be a point worthy of a separate post, though.

  86. theoldadam explained the Trinity as such: “The Father is in the Son, the Son is in the Father, the Spirit is in the Son, the Father is in the Spirit…yada, yada, yada.”

    He indicated to me that if I could show that the LDS recognizes that the members of the Trinity are in each other, he would believe that the LDS believes in the divinity of Christ.

    Concerning the Spirit being in the Son, I found a place in the official LDS book “Jesus the Christ,” pp. 35-36, where it says that “Christ” means “the Anointed One.” Jesus couldn’t possibly be void of the Spirit if he is the Anointed One.

    Also, The Joseph Smith Translation of John 1:31-32 says, “And John bare record, saying; When he was baptized of me I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him. And I knew him; for he who sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me; Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he who baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.”

    I used Joseph’s translation to confirm that the LDS does believe in John 1:31-32, which testify that the Spirit of God was in Jesus.

    Concerning the Father being in the Son, John 14:10, 14 says, “Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me. . . .”

    These verses are an official part of LDS Scripture. They believe that the Bible is the word of God as far as it is translated correctly (Article of Faith #8). Joseph Smith did not retranslate John 14. Therefore, the burden of proof shifts to you to prove that the LDS does not believe John 14:10, 14 as it appears in the KJV.

    I’ve proved that the Mormon Church believes in the divinity of Christ according to theoldadam’s request.

  87. Gundek said, “I think you may want to do some personal study on the development of Christian doctrine. Justo Gonzalez has some very good books.”

    Thanks for the suggestion.
    Do you read such books more than you read the Bible? I’m not being sarcastic—I’m asking a serious question. If so, can I suggest that you do more personal study of the Bible? After all, it is the final authority, God’s Word unfiltered by imperfect humans.

  88. I don’t know Gundeck. How do you manage to make three distinct beings into One God?

    We’re just as “polytheist” as you are. Ask any Muslim.

    If you have three beings who act perfectly together, are of one heart and mind, and perfectly unified in every respect – other than substance (whatever that Platonist term means) – then they are One God – one entity, and worship of them makes you a monotheist.

    Problem solved.

    And without resorting to self-defeating and self-contradictory philosophical mumbo-jumbo.

  89. Cal – I am pretty certain you just managed to complete twist Mormon doctrines and scriptures around much more than I thought possible in order to fit Mormon beliefs within a definition that we do not use.

    None of the twists and turns you took are necessary to prove that Mormons believe in the divinity of Jesus Christ. All you need to do is read the title page of the Book of Mormon, in which it says one of the purposes of the book is for the “convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God.”

    Voila!

    But, unless I am greatly mistaken, what theoldadam is looking for isn’t a profession of the divinity of Christ; it is a profession of the trinity as one God with three manifestations, not three Divine Personages (Gods) with one Divine Purpose (Godhead).

    Seth – Thanks for the clarification.

  90. Alex said, “None of the twists and turns you took are necessary. . . . All you need to do is read the title page of the Book of Mormon, in which it says one of the purposes of the book is for the “convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God.”

    I agree with you, Alex. But some “scholars” don’t understand simplicity. They only “understand” mumbo-jumbo! They hide their lack of spirituality behind Mr. Mumbo and Mr. Jumbo. (I’m not speaking of anyone in particular on this blog.)

    Then you said, “What theoldadam is looking for isn’t a profession of the divinity of Christ; it is a profession of the trinity as one God with three manifestations, not three Divine Personages . . . with one Divine Purpose (Godhead).

    You’ve provided a perfect illustration of the problem here! You apparently still don’t understand what traditional Christians teach (and they don’t understand you). They’re not saying that the Father, Son & Holy Spirit are not three divine persons. That would be modalism. We do believe, as you do, that the Father, Son & Holy Spirit are three persons.

    As for me personally—I can’t speak for the creed authors—the essence that makes them one is the essence of the gift of the Holy Ghost that’s in you if you are a true Mormon. Do you have an awareness of the Holy Ghost in you?

    I like what Seth said, too. He seems to have some handles on this issue.

    —–
    Gundek, are you a part of the Presbyterian denomination that has reportedly slipped toward liberalism or a more conservative one? I have a good commentary on 1 Corinthians by Marion L. Soards, who is a professor at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary and an ordained minister of the Presbyterian Church (USA).

  91. Cal,

    Yes I read the Bible but I am also interested in how the Bible has been interpreted over the past 2000 years so I read the history of the church and its doctrines as well as systematic theologies, biblical theologies and commentaries.

    It would seems to me that knowing that theoldadam is Lutheran, if you are truly interested in overcoming miscommunication you would start with the Book of Concord to find out what Lutherans believe, just like you would start with the Westminster Standards to understand what I believe. To do otherwise is only a word game.

  92. Seth,

    I have absolutely no difficulty with Muslims denying the Trinity is 1 God, From their point of view it makes perfect sense, and I keep this in mind when I talk to Muslims I work with. This also means that I don’t run around singing Kumbaya and claiming that Islam is one of the 3 Abrahamic faiths and we can all join together in prayer and worship.

    My only point is that this seems odd for Mormons to even be concerned about being called tritheists especially with all the work your apologists do trying to prove that monotheism is a construct of Greek Philosophy.

  93. Cal,

    I was baptized in a PC(USA) congregation but left some years ago for the PCA for a number of doctrinal issues that are irrelevant to this conversation.

  94. Who said anything about monotheism being a “construct of Greek philosophy?”

    I said that homoousis was a construct of Greek philosophy.

  95. I also don’t know why you wouldn’t call Islam one of the major Abrahamic faiths.

    Because it is.

    Why shouldn’t we celebrate our commonalities – even while acknowledging our differences?

  96. Islam denies the deity of Jesus, it’s origins as an Abrahic faith are besides the point when it comes to worship.

  97. Alex said:

    But, unless I am greatly mistaken, what theoldadam is looking for isn’t a profession of the divinity of Christ; it is a profession of the trinity as one God with three manifestations, not three Divine Personages (Gods) with one Divine Purpose (Godhead).

    With all due respect, and Cal has already got at this, I think think you’re greatly mistaken.

    “One God with three manifestations” is modalism, traditionally viewed as a heresy, and I don’t think Theoldadam is advocating that (I’d have to back and look at his posts to find out for sure, but I’m pretty sure he’s a Trinitarian).

    Here’s the difference, as I understand it:

    Modalism: One God who reveals himself as three persons.

    Mormonism: Three divine personages united in purpose.

    Trinitarianism: Three divine persons united in purpose and essence.

    Don’t ask me what the difference is between a “personage” and a “person,” nor what “essence” means.

  98. Of course there was Greek philosophical influence in the expressions theology in the early church that was the philosophy of the day.

    That’s like saying Joseph Smith was influenced by Methodist revivalism, it doesn’t make a position any more or less true to state the obvious fact people are influenced in their language and thought of the culture around them.

    Now if you can show that the platonists believed in a personal God who created everything out of nothing or that God perfectly revealed himself in the incarnate Jesus then you may have a point.

  99. Gundeck, I’m well aware of that.

    The reason I emphasize it is to make sure my position is clear that the BIBLE allows the Mormon reading – just as long as you aren’t combining it with another thought paradigm like neo-Platonism.

  100. Not only does the Bible allow the Mormon reading, but in my opinion the references that Paul make about the members of the Godhead (he seems to treat the Father and Jesus as fully separate beings, as in places where he says we have one God and one Lord) actually encourage the LDS reading (while also allowing the traditional understanding).

  101. Like I’ve said before Gundeck – it all goes to the same place, so not a big deal here.

  102. If you don’t want mystery in your religion Christianity probably won’t work for you.

  103. Mystery is fine, but using mystery to get a predetermined result makes the doctrine seem contrived and less actually mysterious.

  104. I’m fine with mystery.

    I just think it’s misguided to be throwing anathemas around based on it.

  105. Thats rich Jared, predetermined conclusion indeed. Seth can you explain the difference between an anathema and an abomination?

  106. I’d like to think that when I condemn something, that I’m doing it for reasons I actually “get.”

  107. The predetermined conclusion was that there is only one God, therefore Jesus and the Father could not possibly be of different substance. This conclusion was required even when it is pretty clear from the text that Jesus and the Father are separate. The mystery gets you to the necessary conclusion with the least amount of conceptual problems.

  108. Eric, my dictionary says a personage is “a person of rank, note, or distinction.” I used to imagine that it was a person who wasn’t quite a whole person—like a person-ish. Opening the dictionary can do wonders, eh?

    Gundek, I have read a few books on church history. I’m very interested in it and believe it can be very useful. We can learn from the mistakes of historical nations and individuals as well as from their successes. Actually, I’m reading two historical books now.
    One talks about the strange or incredible miracles that some of the ancient Catholic monks did by the power of Jesus.
    The other book is fascinating, surprising, anointed, and jam-packed with adventure, suffering, and miracles. It’s the “Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt” who was a Mormon missionary back when it took greater sacrifice than most missionaries have to give today. I used to think this guy was an empty kook because of the evangelical gossip circulating about him, but he was a real man of God.

    I agree with you that there is nothing good about Islam. I’m guessing that the apparent lack of a full revelation of the evil behind Islam in the LDS is connected to their overemphasis on the doctrine that all humans are children of God (Acts 17:25-29). (I’m drifting off whatever the topic is supposed to be. Thanks for your mercy, Tim!)

    I’m glad you read your Bible.

  109. Seth, the one that runs the Islamic Center in Washington D.C. I actually wrote them back before 9/11 and they sent back some horrible stuff claiming that Jesus never even claimed to be the Son of God.

    My local Mormon friend who has been a Mormon for decades—now about 70 years of age—and very knowledgeable in Mormon doctrine, gave me what I was looking for concerning John 14:10-11 where Jesus said the Father was in him. My friend said, “Surely he meant the spirit of the Father was in Him.”

    The theoldadam had issued me a challenge.
    Now, if theoldadam is faithful to his word, and humble and correctable as I believe him to be, he will at least consider the possibility that the LDS believes in the divinity of Christ.

  110. Cal — One problem with dictionaries is that they sometimes don’t give highly technical meanings that that may be used in only a limited context. Thus, for example, the dictionary I have at my desk now doesn’t give any meaning of “exaltation” that has much relevance in an LDS context.

    If there is a distinction to be made (and I don’t know if there is) between the Protestant concept of “person” as it relates to the Trinity and the LDS concept of “personage” as it relates to the Godhead, I can’t count on the dictionary to be of much help.

  111. Cal, I acknowledge your personal anecdote.

    However, I should point out that I can go online right now and dig up a half a dozen people who’ve got nasty anecdotes of their own about the Mormons.

    Shall we judge Mormonism based on their anecdotes?

    If not, why should I judge Islam based on yours?

  112. Cal

    Did I say there was no good in Islam? I have spent a good deal of time with Muslims from Africa to Afghanistan and there is much to admire. What I said was that I could not worship with them.

    Never mind my book recommendations, I don’t want you to get sidetracked by Mr Mumbo or Mr Jumbo.

  113. Jared

    I have no drama admitting my presuppositions, monotheism, creature Creator distriction, the atoning work of Christ, etc. I just find the thought of predetermined conclusions and 500 – 600 years of doctrinal development amusing.

  114. THat’s a valid point, Eric. Maybe your bishop will know? Let me know if you find out. I wonder also if “personage” is simply an old word that has fallen out of usage.

    Seth R. said, “Shall we judge Mormonism based on [online] anecdotes? If not, why should I judge Islam based on yours?”

    You shouldn’t. Good point. Do your own research. People are generally far too quick to judge.

  115. After 20-some years discussing the concept of the Trinity with various Christian friends, I am still no closer to wrapping my head around what it means. I think that most of them have tried to explain it in terms of modalism… The most common analogy has been the three phases of water (which doesn’t make much sense to me). I’ve also heard it said that the Father is in Heaven, the Son was on Earth, and the Spirit is in us. Is that modalism?

  116. I have never heard the second but it would be problematic, by denying omnipresence.

  117. Alex, may I try to give you a good description?

    There are 3 distinct persons in the Trinity, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Each can be described as God independently of the others.

    There is only 1 God. Because we often describe a personal God or talk about our interactions with one of the 3 persons of the Trinity this is where it gets confusing for people. God is not a person, rather there are 3 persons who are God.

    Those three persons share a quality/substance that makes them unique from all created things. They are unified in that substance and act for and toward one another in perfect love. They are the only uncreated-creators or uncaused-causes that exist.

    The Trinity in a nut shell is 3 “whos” and 1 “what”.

    The mystery of Trinitarianism is “what is that ‘substance’ that the 3 persons of God share?”

    A human body cannot be shared by 3 persons, nor can 3 human bodies share one substance. The only person in the Trinity that has a body is Jesus.

    The social trinitarianism that Seth and Blake Ostler describe is different than this because it is fundamentally tri-theistic. It describes 3 gods who are merely unified in purpose and love but not in substance.

    Seth may say “where do you get this idea of a substance?” And I will respond that it came from 1700 years of Christian reflection of what we do and don’t know about God from the Bible.

    I would ask Seth in return “where do you get this idea that the Father and the Son each have their own bodies that were formed by pre-existing material, and can that source be trusted?”

  118. Oh, many Christians use the water analogy, but what Gundek is saying is that it doesn’t really describe the Trinity. It breaks down too quickly. We agree, it doesn’t make sense against what the Bible describes.

  119. I agree that even though the analogy of water is one that many evangelicals use (it’s the analogy I’ve heard most often from laypersons to describe the trinity), it’s still heretical by evangelical standards because it describes modalism (one God, three manifestations).

    Another analogy I’ve heard is that of the egg, with the yolk, shell and white representing the persons of the Trinity. It’s an analogy that breaks down pretty quickly too, but it’s probably closer to evangelical truth than the water imagery is.

    One of my problems with the Trinitarian view is simply that it’s not Biblical. What it seems like to me that happened is that thinkers were trying to solve the problem of God being one and God being three, so they came up with an idea of a shared substance to solve the apparent contradiction. But I don’t see how it solves the contradiction any better (or is any more consistent than what the Bible teaches) than a social trinity does.

    Every prooftext I’ve seen that’s used to support the doctrine of the Trinity can also be used to support the concept of a social trinity.

    And, for what it’s worth, just as evangelicals may call the LDS view tritheistic (which, in some sense, it is), strict monotheists view the evangelical view as tritheistic as well (because, in some sense, it is). It all depends on how you want to define the term.

  120. Tim

    I appreciate what you said about the divine essence being unique from all created things.

  121. “the divine essence being unique from all created things.”

    Okay, so I think that some Trinitarians believe that Jesus was not created—he always existed. Ditto for the Spirit and Father. But that’s not true of all Trinitarians, is it? If so, for them Jesus is of the non-created divine essence and yet he was created. Or maybe he was just “carved out of” the Father and therefore does not exactly violate the “not created” rule. Or maybe I’m totally wrong and these other Trinitarians do not exist.

  122. Actually, let me try one (which I’m sure will fail).

    My church has 3 separate campuses. Each campus is completely “ROCKHARBOR”. What goes on at each and through each can be known authoritatively as the actions of “ROCKHARBOR”.

    Each campus is distinct though. They all have their own personalities and tasks.

    Where I think it breaks down is that the “central” campus has complete authority over the other two. The smaller campuses have limits on them imposed by the “central” campus.

  123. Eric, do you mean non-biblical or un-biblical?

    I have no problem saying that “homoousis” is non-biblical. It’s not explicitly stated in the Bible. It was devised using all available philosophical tools up against all the available information found in the Bible.

    It WOULD be different if we had more/different information.

    I don’t fault LDS for coming to a different conclusion based on the information they have at hand. I fault LDS for trusting a bad source and adopting unBibilical teachings from a false prophet.

  124. Brian said
    If so, for them Jesus is of the non-created divine essence and yet he was created. Or maybe he was just “carved out of” the Father and therefore does not exactly violate the “not created” rule. Or maybe I’m totally wrong and these other Trinitarians do not exist.

    If that’s a belief, it’s not Trinitarianism. Jesus’ body was created. But the person of Jesus has always existed.

  125. Okay Tim, let’s roll with your analogy but pretend you didn’t say anything about a central campus: all your campuses are authoritatively equal, although each is functionally unique. Take out one, and you still have ROCKHARBOR. If there had been a fourth from the very beginning, all four would now be ROCKHARBOR.

    I want to see what other Trinitarians will do with this analogy.

  126. One obvious place for your analogy to break down is that conceivably ROCKHARBOR could establish additional campuses—dozens or even thousands worldwide. That’s a no-no for Trinitarianism.

    Are there any other holes people see in it?

    Thanks btw for the clarification re my other question.

  127. Let me see if I can even improve on the analogy.

    There’s a spectacular place known as Southern Utah: red rocks, arches, slot canyons, etc. There’s no place like it in the world. Yes, other places have similar geology, but they don’t have the same…”atmosphere” that makes SoUT perfect.

    Now, we can talk about SoUT collectively as though it’s just one thing, but we also can divide it into specific places: Zion’s, Moab, Grand Staircase, and a few others (I stopped at three for obvious reasons). Zion’s, by itself, is fully SoUT—it has the whole package. Same for the other two; no one of them is “more” SoUT than the other. And yet, if you’ve been to Zion’s you simply can’t say, “I don’t need Grand Staircase ’cause I’ve already experienced SoUT; seen one, seen ’em all.” No, if you’ve been to Zion’s, you in fact need Grand Staircase all the more. Moreover, each area has it’s own special contribution that sets it apart from the rest—arches around Moab, slot canyons in Grand Staircase, etc. But again, that doesn’t make one of them “better than” the other; slot canyons are not better than arches.

    And most importantly, even if someone were to discover similar geology somewhere else, or redraw the boundaries to include some part of Colorado or Arizona, or even build a replica of SoUT, it still wouldn’t be SoUT. It might remind us of SoUT, but it would. not. be. SoUT. There’s just something about SoUT—some “essence,” if you will—that makes SoUT what it is and sets it apart from every other place with sandstone, cliffs, canyons, and whatever.

  128. Tim, the “Rockharbor” analogy is pretty much Social Trinitarianism.

  129. Except that there is only 1 ROCKHARBOR. The thing that unites all the campuses is our non-proft charter. There is only one of those.

    I think social trinitarianism is more like Calvary Chapel. There are many of them, they’re all distinct and legally independent of each other but are united by a common theology.

  130. Tim asked me:Eric, do you mean non-biblical or un-biblical?I meant nonbiblical rather than unbliblical, and I’m happy to be corrected.

    To clarify for those who don’t catch the distinction: In my view, the doctrine of the Trinity does not contradict the Bible, but neither can it be deduced from the Bible alone.

    I’d say the same for the LDS view of the relationship between the three members of the Godhead.

  131. If you can make “One God” out of 3 beings, you can make “One God” out of 300 – or 3 million, etc.

  132. Eric stated on May 4, at 8:41 am:
    “Mormonism: Three divine personages united in purpose. Trinitarianism: Three divine persons united in purpose and essence.”

    I’d like to ask you, Eric (or any Mormon who wants to answer), to give me your explanation of John 14:11 where Jesus says “I am in the Father and the Father is in me.” Would you agree with my local Mormon friend who says it means that the spirit of the Father is in Jesus? If you agree, would you then say that there is some sort of essence that they share?

    Question for anyone: “Is there any place in the creeds where it says the nature of the essence cannot be known by human beings—or something to that effect?”

    Tim: If God is a what, how do you explain verses such as John 3:16 where God is called a “he”?

  133. Cal: because we refer to each of the persons of the Trinity as “he”. The “he” in John 3:16 is the Father who sent his son. Each of the persons can be called “God” and each can be called “he”.

    Can I ask you a question in the same vein and manner?

    When John 3:16 calls God a “he” does that mean God has male anatomy?

  134. Cal said:

    … give me your explanation of John 14:11 where Jesus says “I am in the Father and the Father is in me.” Would you agree with my local Mormon friend who says it means that the spirit of the Father is in Jesus? If you agree, would you then say that there is some sort of essence that they share?

    I don’t know. The context here is Jesus telling his disciples that he is so much like the Father and has such an intimate relationship with the Father that the disciples who have seen and known Jesus can also say that they have and known the Father. What it says beyond that I’m not sure.

    What I do find interesting about this section is that Jesus says the Father resides in him (verse 10), then says a bit later that the one who believes Jesus will have Jesus and the Father come to reside with him or her (verse 23); in the Greek, related words (a verb and a noun, respectively, with the same root) are used to describe the relationship that the Father has with Jesus and the relationship that the Father and Jesus can have with us.

    So I think if you’re using verse 11 to suggest that there is some essence that the Father and Jesus share, you’d have to acknowledge that we can share that same essence by trusting in what Jesus has to tell us.

    I’m not sure that most Trinitarians would want to go that far.

    This all seems to complement what Jesus prays later (John 17), that we (the disciples of Jesus) may be one just as Jesus and his Father are one. I’m not sure exactly what that means, but I’m sure it’s quite profound.

  135. Eric, thanks for answering my question. Your answer was very interesting to me! I wish I could sit down in my living room to discuss this with you for a few hours. Do you know Greek?

    You said, “So I think if you’re using verse 11 to suggest that there is some essence that the Father and Jesus share, you’d have to acknowledge that we can share that same essence by trusting in what Jesus has to tell us.”

    I do acknowledge that!

    You said, “I’m not sure that most Trinitarians would want to go that far.”

    Apparently the Trinitarians on this blog don’t want to. I really don’t know what leading charismatic Trinitarians would say. I’m dying to know. That’ll be one of my next quests!

    You said, “This all seems to complement what Jesus prays later (John 17), that we (the disciples of Jesus) may be one just as Jesus and his Father are one.”

    Exactly!

    ——-
    Tim said, “The ‘he’ in John 3:16 is the Father who sent his son. Each of the persons can be called “God” and each can be called ‘he’.”

    We agree on that! Great!

    You asked, “When John 3:16 calls God a “he” does that mean God has male anatomy?”

    Not necessarily.
    (Although I am basically a Trinitarian, I recognize that Revelation 5:7 has the Father seated on a throne—apparently with some kind of form. I have also collected over the past 5 years or so about 6 accounts or testimonies—count ’em, 6—of respectable Christians—most of them ministers—who claim to have seen the Father. They saw him either while dead (later resuscitated) or in a vision. A couple of them could not see the Father’s face but some of them did!

  136. Cal — I do not know Greek, although I have good enough research skills to be dangerous.

  137. I don’t know if Gundek is still around but I may order one of Justo Gonzalez’s less expensive books just to see if God might want me to read some of him. I like anointed books.

    Sorry if I was too hard on you earlier, Gundek.

  138. In terms of whether or not God ever sinned, what is the definition of sin? Is sin something eternal that God didn’t decide? Or is something a sin because God declares it so?

  139. Aaron’s favorite rhetorical one-liner about “Did God sin?” totally glosses over those questions in favor of making a cheap shot at a religion he disagrees with.

    What is sin? What is god?

  140. Perhaps Aaron’s question could be fine-tuned slightly as follows: Was there ever a situation in which the person whom we know as the Father of our spirits was less of a moral exemplar than he is now?

    Of course, I suspect that one of the reasons Aaron doesn’t supply people with definitions of the terms of the question ahead of time is because the goal of the question is to allow those of whom he inquires to supply their own notions of ‘sin’ and ‘God’: in short, “Has God (as you understand ‘God’) ever sinned (as you understand ‘sin’)?”

  141. Cal,

    I am not sure what an anointed book is but if you want to understand the orthodox doctrine of the trinity one method is to study the its historical development.

    Parts of González’s book “The Story of Christianity” are available free on Google books. You may be able to determine if it is anointed without spending any money.

  142. Gundek, you’re free to give me a synopsis of what you think are the major points of the development of the trinity doctrine.

    When you say “development” do you mean the church received a greater revelation of the dynamics within the trinity as centuries passed? Of course God never changes (James 1:17) so he could not have developed.

    The word “anointing” occurs in 1 John 2:27. I understand it to be the life and spirit of God. Somewhere Jesus said, “My words are spirit and they are life.” Some books lift you into God’s presence and inspire you to go higher; some books don’t. “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up” (1 Cor. 8:1).

    Have a good day.

  143. When I try to answer based on what I now believe about God and Jesus, I show up Pelagian. But that’s tough because I would really just choose “inapplicable” for every answer except for the ones about original sin, which I do not believe in.

    When I try to answer based on what I would believe about Jesus if I was to be a Christian, I show up Chalcedon Compliant.

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