Why Won’t God Share?

Alex asked this question in another post:

Why can’t God share His divine nature? How does it take away from God’s godness? Does God cease to be God if he can endow us with the nature that He has?

I think this is an excellent question for a Mormon to ask an Evangelical. It forces both of us to get at our fundamental difference in our view of God. Mormons believe the difference between God and Man is one of degree, not kind. Evangelicals believe the opposite, that God stands utterly unique as the only uncaused-cause.

When Evangelicals approach Alex’s question we don’t see God as being stingy with his deity. We don’t think he’s holding on to something for himself just to make sure he’s unique or superior. It has more to do with God’s inability to fulfill the request.

“What’s that you say? Evangelicals believe that God isn’t all powerful? I thought God could do anything?” Evangelicals believe that God can do anything possible. There are plenty of impossible things God cannot do because they are nonsensical. For example, God can’t make a square circle. The adjective “square” is in direct opposition to the noun “circle”. There can never be square circles because we’re making a category fallacy to even suggest such a thing. Similarly God cannot tell you what the color red smells like. Nor can God make you, a created being, into a non-created being. Once you’ve been created, that’s it, there’s no possibility of calling you uncreated.

God simply cannot share his divine nature with the non-divine. God does share with us, generously, everything he can. He loves to include us in his character, his love, his grace, his peace and his glory. But he cannot give what cannot be given just as we cannot eat a piece of π.

As an example let’s suppose Alex wants to share his nature as an “Alex” with his wife. He can invite her into his life, share everything he owns, make joint decisions with her, count her as a part of his successes and failures, and make her fundamental to every aspect of his lifestyle, yet she will never be Alex. She can’t be an “Alex” because only Alex is an “Alex”. It’s not a question of if Alex would diminish as a good “Alex” or cease to be an “Alex”. She may protest that Alex is holding something back and not giving her everything he has, but the nature of “Alex” is not something Alex can give. Though he may try, she will never have the Alex-nature. She cannot be an “Alex” any more than a diesel engine can be an “Alex”.

Mormons think of God and man in a different way. For them, God and man, at our simplest forms are both non-created “intelligences” which are formed into men and progress into divinity. Divinity isn’t a fundamental characteristic so much as a status. God can share his divinity in the same way a Father can share his business. For Mormons the divine essence of God is something men already possess. God doesn’t share it, so much as provide men with a means of reaching their potential.

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68 thoughts on “Why Won’t God Share?

  1. The Mormon reply might be that just as Alex can’t share his Alex-ness, Jesus cannot share his Jesus-ness with the Father and the Father cannot share who he is with Jesus, he can only share his Godhood, i.e. his throne.

    Mormon’s view divinity, at least in part, as a matter of character, but as you say, it is not “fundamental”. It is contingent on a particular character, which God has always had.

    At root, Mormons believe that because of the atonement, God can share his divinity with other men just as he shares it with Jesus. Although human beings are in part created (just like Evangelicals believe Jesus’ body was) some element of human beings is uncreated (just like Evangelicals believe Jesus’ spirit was.) Therefore, God has the opportunity to exalt human beings in the same way that Jesus was exalted.

    If God the Father has an “essential nature” (a term steeped in Platonic philosophy) then Mormons would agree that he could not share it, it wouldn’t make sense. The Father is an individual person who cannot also be another person.

    However, Evangelicals do believe that God does share his essential nature, but only with two other persons in a mysterious way. Mormons don’t believe that the mystery is needed to explain the sharing of godhood amongst the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and believe that godhood is different than the essential nature of each of the persons of the godhead.

  2. Right, Jesus doesn’t share his “Jesusness” with the Father and the Father doesn’t share his “Fatherness” with Jesus. But both are uncreated beings so they share one “divinity”.

    Just as Alex and his wife share one “humanity”.

  3. (a term steeped in Platonic philosophy)

    And yes Plato helped us find a way to talk about these things. Just as the Masons help Joseph Smith talk about covenants.

  4. Gosh, too bad God didn’t explain Tim’s viewpoint to Peter. Maybe then Peter wouldn’t have written something that says the exact opposite of what Tim teaches here.

    Where’ Ms Jack? It’d be great to point out an Evangelical who just completely disregards what the Bible says on a matter, because it disagrees with his viewpoint. Tim, couldn’t you at least have written that 2 Peter 1:4 was mistranslated for fulfill the irony?

    Peter: “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.”

    Tim: “God simply cannot share his divine nature with the non-divine.”

    Um, I pick Peter…

  5. While I accept that I can never give a part of my essential being to my wife so that she can be, in some way, like me, I can give a part of my self to my children. They will never be me but they will have received part of what makes me me, and, because of that, they can be like me (although not actually me).

    This, I think, is a good summary of the LDS view of the nature of God: Because we are His offspring, we can be like Him, because we have the seeds of Divinity within us. However, no matter how much like God we may become, we will never become Him.

    Incidentally, I once had an evangelical insist that God could indeed make a circle that was square, and started rambling about hyperspace and multiple dimensions and other bizarre leaps of logic to maintain his claim that God can do anything at all, no matter how silly.

  6. psychochemiker,

    Way to show up late for a conversation. You may want to read the last post.

    Jared,

    Evangelicals believe that Jesus has a created human spirit. “What he did not assume he did not redeem.”

  7. For the sake of others who may come upon this post at a later time:

    2 Peter 1:4 is found in the context of 2 Peter 1:3-11. The Greek word found there for “nature’ is more in line with the English word “character” than the word “essence” or “nature” as I might be using them here.

    Further the context of the verse is clearly about something that God gives to us now, today, while we are living. It is not something we receive after death in an exalted kingdom of Heaven. So it’s difficult to see how this verse justifies the Mormon idea of exaltation.

    There is a very basic rule for reading the Bible that we should always hold to. Never read a Bible verse, always read the verses surrounding it. And when necessary study the ancient language the verse was originally written in to gain deeper understanding.

    That discussion was originally found here.

  8. And yes Plato helped us find a way to talk about these things. Just as the Masons help Joseph Smith talk about covenants.

    The problem is, of course, that Evangelicals are stuck with Plato’s (and Anselm’s, and Augustines, etc.) faults and limitations, just as Joseph was stuck with the Masons’.

  9. I’m aware of your argument, Gundeck.
    The problem for your argument, is that is assumes (things) which are neither true nor in evidence.
    I don’t think you laid out on argument, from the Bible, that God has incommunicable attributes.
    What Peter doesn’t do, is what you do Gundeck, but claiming: “This is what God gives you” and “This is what he cannot.”

    Tim, while I agree that things need to be read in context, I point out that I disagree with your full contextualization (your assumptions). I do whole-heartedly agree that PART of the nature should be occurring today, I don’t think you can make a logical argument that it can ONLY occur (or only meant to occur) during this life. There is no reason not to believe that this process starts in this life and continues into the next. I’ve met Mormons and Evangelicals who become more and more Christlike, and have no doubt that God will continue to grow them in Grace.

    In the end, the LDS view of God is greater than the Evangelical one, because that God IS more powerful, more loving, AND more just. The LDS view of God isn’t one who is focused on Himself and His own glory.

  10. Gundek wasn’t claiming 2 Peter 1 as a source for his argument that God has incommunicable attributes. You’re the one who dragged Peter into it. We’re just showing you that the verse doesn’t apply to this discussion.

    In the end, the LDS view of God is greater than the Evangelical one

    I’m really not interested in who can think up the bestest god. I want to know the true God. Mormonism has many admirable thoughts about God, unfortunately their source is untrustworthy.

  11. The theology of God’s incommunicable attributes is not based on 2 Peter 1. For that you would need to go attribute by attribute seeing what is and what is not ascribed to God alone and what is and what is not ascribed to God and man.

  12. Tim said, “The context of [1 Peter] is clearly about something [God’s divine nature] that God gives to us now. . . . It is not something we receive after death in an exalted kingdom of Heaven.”

    I agree with that. I’d just like to add that we will still have that divine nature (character) after death in the kingdom of heaven, and much more of it!
    ——–

    Tim’s post was fairly accurate as far as I can tell, and he explained things quite well.

    However, he said, “For Mormons the divine essence of God is something men already possess.”

    Since I don’t think most Christians—at least not most charismatics—define “divine essence” the same way he is, this could be very misleading if taken by itself. It needs to be pointed out for someone who has not been following this discussion that Mormons believe they receive something more than what they already possessed when they receive the “gift of the Holy Ghost.”

    On the other hand, one of the things that bothers me about Mormonism is that it fuzzies the biblically clear line between those who are in the kingdom of darkness and those who have been transferred to the kingdom of light, between the children of the devil and the children of God, between those who walk in the human (fleshly, selfish, evil) nature and those who walk in the divine love of God through the atonement.
    (The good thing about the LDS’s fuzzy line is that it causes them to recognize a certain amount of spirituality in us. We condemn them more severely than they do us.)

  13. psychochemiker said, “The LDS view of God isn’t one who is focused on Himself and His own glory.”

    I believe God wants us focused on glorifying him because he knows it benefits us. This is one thing I like about the charismatic movement. We sing lots of praise songs because we’ve learned that when we lift him up he lifts us up into more of his presence (divine nature).

  14. Tim: I think you’ve done a good (read: accurate) job of presenting both views. I might quibble, as Cal does, with the statement about “the divine essence of God is something men already possess,” but it’s a semantic and very particular argument that would detract from the main point.

    I also lamented with you when I read the criticism, “the LDS view of God is greater than the Evangelical one.”

    First, I wholeheartedly agree with you that arguing over the bestest god” is absurd; the only gods that matter are those that actually exist. Second, in the hypothetical situation where both the LDS and the Evangelical versions of God exist, I think we’d be hard-pressed to really see anything greater about one than the other. They both do pretty awesome, praiseworthy, and seemingly-impossible things.

    But maybe you could address that for me because maybe you disagree.

  15. I am not a biblical scholar, but i have read the Bible a time or two, and I am now wondering where the Evangelical/historical/orthodox Christian view of God being a separate creature from humans comes from. I can’t think of any scriptures off-hand where God actually says, “I am essentially different from you, therefore you can never be like me” or anything like that.

    I can think of scriptures where God commands us to be like Him, and I understand that God will not give us a command that we cannot actually live up to. So if God (through Jesus) says “be ye therefore perfect” and later (through Paul) says “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory” then I see at least some evidence in the scriptures that God not only can share his glory and essence, but that He wants to.

    I guess that I ultimately get to the point in my thinking that God really hasn’t given us much in the BIble about His essence–what He is. Rather, we have descriptions of His attributes (what kind of God He is) and that He is. I think this is akin to our conversations over the Internet. We don’t really know what we look like, how tall we are, or even gender. We have some fuzzy images (some of us), and we have words, but without being with the person one on one, we are left to our own assumptions.

  16. As to 2 Peter 1:4. I don’t believe that this verse justifies the Mormon idea of exaltation (that takes a lot of new scripture), but I do believe that cuts against the traditional idea of an God that is radically unlike humans. This seems quite a bit different, to me, than the ontologically simple, radically different, uncreated, nonthing of tradition.

    Mormonism has many admirable thoughts about God, unfortunately their source is untrustworthy.

    Mormons may agree with you that the source of the knowledge is critical, but they would disagree that the philosophical arguments of traditional theology are a trustworthy source. A recurring theme in Joseph Smith’s and later Mormon thought is that the philosophical conclusions are not in line with scripture.

    Mormons say – we believe X because of new revelation.
    Evangelicals say – we believe Y because we have extrapolated this from scripture.
    Evangelicals could respond that Mormon prophets are false.
    Mormons could respond that the extrapolations are incoherent and even if the prophets are false.

  17. Tim,
    How on earth does “not having the bestest (sic) God” fulfill being maximally perfect in every way?

    You sound just like a politician. You claim to use one statement and logic (“God must be the best.”) and then you deride the same logic .

    I wrote: “In the end, the LDS view of God is greater than the Evangelical one, because that God IS more powerful, more loving, AND more just.”

    To which Tim responded: “I’m really not interested in who can think up the bestest god.”

    Putting my statement in context of what Holder wrote: ~Well, if someone more (powerful, loving and just) came on the scene, the new (understanding of God) would deserve more respect.~

    I’m trying to read you within your own context, but I don’t see consistency from post to post.

  18. PC, I believe God is maximally powerful, loving and just.

    If you came to me and said “My God is more powerful than yours because he can tell you what the color green tastes like”, you haven’t presented to me a more powerful god. You’ve presented to me an illogical statement.

    Along with being maximally powerful, loving and just I also believe that God is maximally coherent.

    Mormonism imagines gods that are both self-existent and created (or externally organized). That’s not a coherent statement, so I reject it as not being true, though it may be “bester” than God as I conceive of him.

    I’m aware of your argument, Gundeck.

    I’m confused. If you were aware that orthodox Christians have a response to 2 Peter 1:4, why did you accuse me of disregarding it?

  19. Alex said

    I can think of scriptures where God commands us to be like Him, and I understand that God will not give us a command that we cannot actually live up to. So if God (through Jesus) says “be ye therefore perfect” and later (through Paul) says “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory” then I see at least some evidence in the scriptures that God not only can share his glory and essence, but that He wants to.

    Do those verses call us to be like God in character or essence? Would God call you to something you can’t do? As a teacher, do you call your students to be like you in knowledge or to be “you”.

    I agree we can participate in his glory. Just because residents of Green Bay bask in the glory of a Super Bowl victory, that does not make them football players.

  20. Along with being maximally powerful, loving and just I also believe that God is maximally coherent.

    Mormonism imagines gods that are both self-existent and created (or externally organized). That’s not a coherent statement, so I reject it as not being true

    It takes some balls for a Trinity-affirming Christian to make this statement with a straight face. Just sayin’.

  21. I would feel threatened if I was convinced you had taken time to understand the concept.

    There are many people who can’t understand why God can not make a rock so big that he can’t move it, but the statement is still logically coherent.

  22. Maximal coherence seems a strange standard when it is clearly beyond human grasp. Ignorance of any critical information regarding God will make the ultimate coherence of our concepts questionable. Since it is certain we are ignorant of some critical information about God, our concepts is certainly questionable.

    And, as Mephibosheth states, the fundamental traditional christian concept is incoherent on some level because of our ignorance.

  23. As a teacher, do you call your students to be like you in knowledge or to be “you”?

    No, I don’t call them to be me, but I do call quite a few to be teachers, just like I am.

  24. PC states, “The LDS view of God isn’t one who is focused on Himself and His own glory.”

    For us to focus on anything else is idolatry.

    But above gods, goddesses, and the list goes on and on . . . God, unlike us, is the one we need. I don’t need a wife to be glorified. I don’t need children to be complete. Humans are gifts, gifts are nice, but I don’t ultimately need any of the gifts except One.

    The gift of Jesus Christ.

    God does share.

    Rick Holland wrote in his book, Uneclipsing the Son (2011):

    “We think we know what we want. We think we know what we need. But God gives us all we need in Himself. This is the essence of Jonathan Edwards’s theology: God is not only in it for Himself. He gives us Himself, and that’s the best thing He can give us.”

    But how God shares is unique. I am not like God. Never will be.

    I can give you all of Todd Wood and will that be enough for you? . . . not in a million eternities. It is a ludicrous thought, isn’t it?

  25. Todd quoted J. Edwards as saying, “God is not only in it for Himself. He gives us Himself, and that’s the best thing He can give us.”

    Amen. Nice to hear a refreshingly simple statement from a man of God.

  26. “Similarly God cannot tell you what the color red smells like.”

    A color–>odor synsesthete might be able to tell you, though.

  27. btw TIm, I have to say that in the previous post I kinda followed your thinking with the “maximally perfect” (or was it “maximally praiseworthy”?) God, but “maximally coherent”? It’s like you jumped the shark.

  28. I was just reading in Joseph Fielding McConkie’s book, “Answers.” He is or was a BYU professor.
    He says,

    “The phrase ‘eternal progression’ is not found in the scriptures, nor do we find it in the sermons and writing of Joseph Smith. There are obvious difficulties in announcing as doctrine a concept that is without scriptural basis.
    “The scriptures emphatically declare God to have all knowledge both in heaven and on earth. . . . Further, they promise the faithful that they will receive the fulness [sic] of the Father (see D&C 93:19-20). . . .
    “The scriptures teach that God continues to advance in glory through the exaltation of his children (see Moses 1:39). The idea that there is advancement [for humans] within the different kingdoms of glory is speculative.”

    I looked up Moses 1:39 which says, “This is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” I take that to mean that God is honored by what he does for us.

  29. I don’t think coherence has anything to do with it really. Mormons believe humans are just like Jesus. i.e. they have an un-created nature and a created nature that is mysteriously joined. In the same way that Jesus lived on earth and was exalted to glory, humans can do the same thing because of what Jesus did. As Tim said, Mormons believe that God doesn’t have to share his divine essence, because humans already have their own. We don’t become identical to God in some trinitarian sense (that seems incoherent). God redeems men from low mortal state and lets them share his glory and elevates them to his perfection. He makes them one with him just as Jesus is one with him. There is nothing more or less incoherent about this scheme than the traditional scheme. It actually avoids the incoherence of the Trinity where three separate persons are considered one identical simplicity without any parts.

    Mormons have rejected the concepts of omnipresence, simplicity, and the trinity as incoherent. God is what he makes himself out to be in the scriptures rather than what later philosophy makes him out to be. This gives us an incomplete picture of a God that may have some sorts of conceptual limitations but Mormons reject the notion that these limitations make God unworthy to worship, he is still inconceivably awesome.

  30. I suppose you could argue, assuming nonsensical things are bad, that it’s praisworthy to forebear from doing them. But if sovereignty and omnipotence are praiseworthy, then the power to do everything, including nonsensical things, is indeed praiseworthy.

    Much like evil. Are you saying that God has no power to do evil acts?

  31. I would feel threatened if I was convinced you had taken time to understand the concept.

    Fair enough, I’m happy to be corrected. I was under the impression that the traditional doctrinal formulation of the Trinity is a mystery. Given the following propositions:

    1. There is exactly one God.
    2. The Father is God.
    3. The Son is God.
    4. The Son is not the Father.

    accepting any three excludes the possibility of any fourth being true. Since these propositions are logically incoherent when taken together, and Christians would feel uncomfortable rejecting any one of them, they affirm the truth of them all and just accept the mystery. Which is fine, but I’ve never heard anyone say this meets some standard of maximal coherence. Unless you want to go Jared C.’s route and say that the coherence of the Trinity is beyond our understanding, which is also fine, but that simply shifts the mystery elsewhere.

    Related to this, and more germane to the topic of this post is the idea that

    Mormonism imagines gods that are both self-existent and created (or externally organized).

    which you reject as incoherent. Which is confusing to me because I usually hear these charges of incoherence from Mormons being used against the traditional Christian views of “gods that are both self-existent and created (or externally organized)” like the mystery of Jesus Christ being both fully God and fully human. In fact there was a doctoral dissertation written by a Mormon that critiques the Eastern Orthodox view of theosis on the grounds that beings created ex nihilo can’t be fully deified because a created being cannot take on God’s uncreated nature. Because Mormons believe human souls are co-eternal with God they do not have this problem.

    Supposedly this Energetic Procession post answers Norman’s critique but I once spent an hour going over it very carefully trying to understand it and failed.

  32. There are three persons who are one God. HOW they exist together is what is a mystery (or unknown). THAT they can exist together isn’t unknown or impossible to understand.

    There is a difference between a “person” and an “divine essence”.

    I agree with the dissertation, he is agreeing with Christian orthodoxy. . . but I think he radically misunderstand theosis. It’s nothing like deification. It’s more inline with sanctification; taking on the character of God not the essence.

  33. He understands theosis fine. He quotes St. Athanasius as saying: “But these characteristics belong to us, who are originate, and of a created nature. For we too, albeit we cannot become like God in essence, yet by progress in virtue imitate God, the Lord granting us this grace, in the words, ‘Be ye merciful as your Father is merciful:’ ‘be ye perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

    HOW they exist together is what is a mystery (or unknown). THAT they can exist together isn’t unknown or impossible to understand.

    Sounds maximally coherent to me 😉

  34. I feel like the conversation has wandered from Alex’s original question and point. I have yet to hear a convincing answer. To quote Alex:

    I am now wondering where the Evangelical/historical/orthodox Christian view of God being a separate creature from humans comes from. I can’t think of any scriptures off-hand where God actually says, “I am essentially different from you, therefore you can never be like me” or anything like that.

    I can think of scriptures where God commands us to be like Him, and I understand that God will not give us a command that we cannot actually live up to. So if God (through Jesus) says “be ye therefore perfect” and later (through Paul) says “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory” then I see at least some evidence in the scriptures that God not only can share his glory and essence, but that He wants to.

    In summary, there are 2 key questions, neither of which has been convincingly answered:

    1) Whee in the bible does the Evangelical concept of God being “unlike” humans in a fundamental way come from? (I’ve heard it said that God is a different species than us, maybe not quite accurate, but it gets the idea across). All I hear from Tim is “because I say so” or “God can’t call you to be an uncreated creator.” Tim – can you explain this from the Bible, not using your own extrapolations???

    2) How do the following scriptures fit in to that concept: 2 Pet. 1:4, Rom. 8:16-17, Rev. 3:21, 1 John 3:1-3, Acts 17:29. Taken together, these scriptures indicate to me that we are the same species as God, and that we ARE called to become like Him. Not to become Him, but to become just like Hiim.

    And to be totally explicit, I don’t buy Tim’s interpretation of 2 Pet. 1:4. At best, it’s incomplete. Tim, if you want to force us to read in context, then you can’t isolate Peter from Paul and John. I see no other way that these scriptures all work together than the conclusion that we can indeed become just like God. I for one believe that is exactly what He has called us to do.

  35. Isaiah 46:9
    Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me.

  36. OK, that’s a good start.

    But John still says we shall be like Him. Isaiah 46 does not preclude the possibility that in the future we can become like God (even though we are not currently like Him). Nor does it say we are fundamentally different than God in such a way that we could never be like Him in the LDS sense.

  37. Isaiah 46:9
    Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me.

    That certainly supports your position, but I’m not sure it’s conclusory. You’ve still got to read quite a lot of meaning into that language to get to the complex concepts about God you are advocating.

  38. Exactly Kullervo. I was thinking of rewording the verse to make that point:

    I am Jimmy Page, and there is no other; I am Jimmy Page, and there is none like me.

    Those statements are just as true as the original—and force us to clarify what “like me” means. Certainly other people have fingers (like Page), speak English (like Page), etc.

    “Like me” is not meant to indicate a difference of species, but rather a difference in quality, achievement, and total awesomeness.

  39. There is none like me either, although I am one in six billion.

    A better question why won’t Jimmy Page share? (Why do you have to be a guitar god prior to getting a private audience.->
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ePsHKqbdRfA&feature=related – good movie BTW.)

    God is unique but every human was created in his image, and we are in that way like Him.

    John was pretty clear on this: “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.”

  40. Tom said

    But John still says we shall be like Him. Isaiah 46 does not preclude the possibility that in the future we can become like God (even though we are not currently like Him). Nor does it say we are fundamentally different than God in such a way that we could never be like Him in the LDS sense.

    This topic is pretty well played out. So I’m not responding to convince you, rather just to help explain our position.

    I think if you take that passage (Isaiah 46:9) along with John 1 (where we get our idea of creation ex nihilo)

    He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.

    You can start to see why we view God has something different and completely other than us.

    As was pointed out by Mephibosheth:

    In fact there was a doctoral dissertation written by a Mormon that critiques the Eastern Orthodox view of theosis on the grounds that beings created ex nihilo can’t be fully deified because a created being cannot take on God’s uncreated nature.

    “So why can’t we become gods later on? There’s nothing in those verses that say there can’t be other gods”

    Isaiah 43:10

    “You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD,
    “and my servant whom I have chosen,
    so that you may know and believe me
    and understand that I am he.
    Before me no god was formed,
    nor will there be one after me.

    1 Timothy 1:17

    Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

    I’m not any more interested in accepting some verses and rejecting others than you are. I think we have to take all of them into consensus. It seems to me that all of the verses that say we can be like God in their own context are talking about taking on his character and virtues. In addition these verses reinforce that there is, was and only will be one God.

    Check out this link if you’d like a more thorough treatment on the subject
    http://www.leaderu.com/offices/michaeldavis/docs/mormonism/god.html

  41. I think it’s reasonable to suggest that if Joseph Smith had not delivered the King Follet Discourse that Mormons would be in agreement with the rest of the Christian world on this topic.

  42. I think you’d have to get rid of KFD, parts of the D&C, Abraham, etc. to accomplish that. Although certainly the KFD strengthens the case.

  43. . . .Joseph Smith had not delivered the King Follet Discourse that Mormons would be in agreement with the rest of the Christian world on this topic.. . .

    As Brian says, the KFD is only part of a whole body of teaching. Of course its not very interesting to point out that if it wasn’t for the teachings of Joseph Smith, Mormons wouldn’t be Mormons at all.

    If Joseph Smith could have played guitar like Jimmy Page, sacrament meetings would be a whole lot less boring.

  44. If Joseph Smith could have played guitar like Jimmy Page, sacrament meetings would be a whole lot less boring.

    I bet I would still be Mormon.

    I mean, shut the book on my personal attempts at Christianity the day I realized that I would never think Jesus was more awesome than Led Zeppelin.

    Not kidding.

  45. I’m kind of disappointed (as always and again now) that no one is interacting with Isaiah 43:10 in addition to Isaiah 46:9.

  46. Well, Kullervo and I addressed 46:9 and showed why it’s not in conflict with LDS thought.

    As for 43:10, the simplest reading requires very strict monotheism: there is only one being/person/entity known as God. Since (nearly?) all Christians reject that idea, the door is already open to not-as-simple interpretations. Perhaps the “God” who is speaking is really speaking as a “Godhead,” or a “Trinity.”

    But I think alternate translations also call into question your interpretation (or the conclusiveness thereof). You quoted:

    “Before me no god was formed,
    nor will there be one after me.”

    Let’s look at those phrases separately, starting with the second. Is it meant to convey the uniqueness of God: after he was made, they broke the mold? Thus, there will be no other gods arising to join him in godliness? Or is it meant to convey the permanence of God—where “after” refers not to the “after I was made” but rather to “after I stop existing”? In the context of the antithetic parallelism, this latter reading is, I think, preferred. Together, the phrases are trying to convey God’s timelessness and permanence and not necessarily his uniqueness.

    The NET translation reflects this:

    No god was formed before me,
    and none will outlive me.

    …as does the footnote for the Hebrew, “and after me, there will not be”—as in, there will not be, well, anything (because God will never cease).

    Now back to the first phrase: “Before me no god was formed.” Admittedly, this is a more difficult passage to reconcile—depending on how the LDS reader views God:

    1) “God was once a man who had a God, and that God had a God, etc.” What to make of this then when it says “there was no God before me”? If our Heavenly Father is talking here and he had a God, then how can that be? Jesus’ intercessory prayer comes into play: we can become One with Heavenly Father and Jesus, presumably just as Heavenly Father once became One with his God. Etc. It’s all just a big bunch of Oneness—so when whoever is speaking here says, “there was no god before me,” the point is not to deny the reality of Oneness, but rather to illustrate that there never was an alternative, rogue sort of god running things.

    (This reading is even simpler if the speaker is taken to be the premortal Jesus.)

    2) “Heavenly Father really is the very first God and never had a mortal life (as we know it, anyway).” While this view conflicts with the Snow couplet, there is no conflict with any LDS canon.

    As a side note, I’m agnostic on the doctrine: either view 1 or 2 could be right as far as I’m concerned. (And I don’t really care which.)

  47. Kullervo,

    You have to cut Jesus slack for not having access to electric guitars.

    on a similar note. . .

    I remember a kid in college who actually believed that Led Zepplin were secretly Mormons and their songs were used to deliver Mormon themes.

    I guess he was trying to bring all truth into one great whole.

  48. I remember a kid in college who actually believed that Led Zepplin were secretly Mormons and their songs were used to deliver Mormon themes.

    I guess he was trying to bring all truth into one great whole.

    I definitely know people who do that.

  49. Still plenty of unanswered questions. . . .

    Was Jimmy Page predestined for awesomeness or did he earn it?

    Was his essence eternal or was it the offspring of Robert Johnson’s, formed through the wrenching spiritual power of ““Hellhound on My Trail” and “Love in Vain” and sparked into life by the lyrics of Willie Dixon?

  50. Brian, on the one hand I’m glad to see you reaching for ontological oneness. I think you’re (perhaps unwittingly) beginning to piece together why and how the doctrine of Trinity was formulated.

    On the other hand, I think you’re making a mess out of God being “flesh and blood” rather than spirit.

  51. I have long contextualised the passages in Isaiah in light of the rampant idolatry among the Israelites from the time of the Egyptian captivity onward. I believe Jehovah was telling the children of Israel that HE was their God, not Ba’al or any of the graven images that were being used among the people. In this context, He is simply saying: I am your God, no one else ever has been, and no one else ever will be. This context is also the only one that, to me, fits with the rest of the scriptural statements.

  52. I agree with your context, but he doesn’t just simply say “I’m the only one you have anything to do with” . He says he’s the only God, ever.

    It’s the difference between me telling my wife that I’m her only husband and I’m the only “Tim”

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