Becoming Like God

The LDS church has posted a new Gospel Topics essay, this one on the Mormon belief in deification.  I’m happy for the church to clarify its own beliefs on this doctrine but found myself frequently frustrated by their justifications for the doctrine. On the one hand the church ask that its beliefs not be caricatured (having your own planet) but it has no problem creating a caricature of Eastern orthodoxy and the early church fathers for its own benefit.

In response one friend stated:

Perhaps deification or theosis as in Eastern Orthodoxy. I’d argue this is a dramatically different concept than LDS “becoming like god,” as will be argued in the forthcoming volume “Understanding Evangelicalism: A Guide for Mormons” through Greg Kofford Books.

 

Another friend stated :

“Becoming Gods” became “becoming gods” became “becoming like our Heavenly Father” became “approaching godliness.” Yet Christians are depicted as evolving to use language which “appear[s] more limited in scope.”

 

 

 

 

 

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287 thoughts on “Becoming Like God

  1. I don’t have time to do a fully researched post on this but I felt some responsibility to create a space to discuss it.

  2. I have come to understand Mormon doctrine of eternal progression to be more akin to apotheosis than early ideas about deification or theosis.

    I did enjoy the quip that English-speaking Protestants likely knew little or nothing about early Christian beliefs.

  3. Tim, I find your quote of your second friend, humorous. However, I wouldn’t be surprised at all to learn that both of his sentences are correct.

  4. Yeah… that was a fun debate.

    It’s kind of appalling how much I’ve been around on the Internet…

  5. You know… reading this article is kind of eerie. It’s like reading crib notes of stuff I’ve been saying about this for the last several years.

    Anyone mind if I indulge in a bit of smug reminiscence about being told (not necessarily always here) that my views weren’t “really official” and just “cafeteria Mormon stuff”?

  6. To become like God was not the essence of the first sin in the Garden of Eden, How can be a sin to look for everything which is good? How can be a sin to learn as much as we can to become like God? If becoming like God were a sin, then God would be the first sinner because he became God and God is not a sinner, neither all of those who want to become like God by the merits of the Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ. We can have the desire to become like God, but truth is nobody can do it by him/herself. Perfection and Godhood is granted only by the Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ, there is no other way, and there is no other way.
    The first sin in the Garden of Eden was disobedience

  7. Hi Tim, logically speaking, the answer is “NO”, because the Father existed before the Son.

    How the Father attained Godhood? we don’t know, nobody knows. Truth is the Mormon canon does not teach anything about how God the Father became God. It tells us how WE can become Gods, but nothing about how the Father became God.

    According to the Mormon canon, the only way we can become Gods is by the atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ, there is no other way, no matter how hard anyone can try, it is totally impossible for anyone to become God without the atonement of Jesus. Anti-Mormon propaganda omits this very important detail misleading many.

    Going back to how God became God, we don’t know, nobody knows, all of the LDS teachings about how God became God are based on pure speculation based on logical reasoning. We reason: “If this is the way we can become Gods, then that is exactly way God became God”, however, the Mormon canon does not say a word how God became God or if he was always God and therefore the first one of all who will become Gods.

  8. My thoughts (as the one who wrote the aforementioned chapter in Understanding Evangelicalism:

    Latter-day Saint beliefs would have sounded more familiar to the earliest generations of Christians than they do to many modern Christians.

    Oh dear. Just no, no, no. There was never any conception among early Christians that human beings were on their way to becoming exactly the type of being that God is now and would one day rule over and govern worlds, universes, and peoples just as God does now. There was never any conception of eternal marriage or any kind of heavenly mother who was a separate person yet the wife of God, which are both (arguably) quite central to the LDS doctrine of deification. Latter-day Saint beliefs would have sounded beyond foreign to the earliest generations of Christians.

    Gradually, as the depravity of humankind and the immense distance between Creator and creature were increasingly emphasized

    Even the earliest Christian sources on deification maintained a distinction between creator and created that is blurred by LDS exaltation.

    Looks like the article punts on the whole “ruling universes” things. Yes, I agree that “get your own planets” is a disrespectful caricature, but it’s a caricature based on some actual and very common LDS teachings about deification, and I don’t think this article does enough to acknowledge that. Doesn’t mention anything about polygamy’s historic connection to exaltation, either.

    May have to talk to John Morehead to find out if there’s time to re-work a few parts of my chapter to respond to this essay.

  9. carlosbyu, thanks for your contribution here. You’ve made an excellent point.

    On a side note, though, did you say God became God? I’m not familiar with, or have forgotten about, that doctrine. Could you elaborate? I knew that in Mormonism the Father once died and raised, and that Jesus has not always been God.

  10. Jack, I envisioned your head shaking as I read that article. Certainly there still seems to be an accepted gloss over the details of early Christian history on theosis. But, I actually think its toned down quite a bit. Instead of making the jump from early Christianity to Mormonism (with the Apostacy in between), the author seems to be simply saying that current Christian revulsion to the idea has historically not always been the case. You could say that early Christians would be puzzled by the ins and outs of the Mormon teaching, but would they blow chunks?

    Maybe my bar is low, but I see it as progress.

  11. Carlos, you said

    logically speaking, the answer is “NO”, because the Father existed before the Son.

    According to the Mormon canon, the only way we can become Gods is by the atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ, there is no other way, no matter how hard anyone can try, it is totally impossible for anyone to become God without the atonement of Jesus.

    I’m not trying to obstinate here, but I don’t think you’re stating your position as well as you’d like. If Heavenly Father became a god without the Atonement of Jesus Christ, then clearly someone became a god through some other method. Further, how did Jesus become a god? Was it by his own Atonement? There clearly is some other way. I’m guessing that you believe that Heavenly Father and Jesus are both persons? What about Heavenly Mother? Is she a person who became a god without the Atonement of Jesus?

  12. But, I actually think its toned down quite a bit. Instead of making the jump from early Christianity to Mormonism (with the Apostacy in between), the author seems to be simply saying that current Christian revulsion to the idea has historically not always been the case.

    Christian J, it sounds like you’re pleased that they’ve moved off of the doctrine of the Restoration. Am I right? Or at the very least that this teaching wasn’t part of the ancient church?

    Jack, I’m looking forward to reading the book. It sounds like you’re full response to this essay has already been written.

  13. Carlos said

    Thanks for sharing your own personal opinions and understanding of the matter. However, I disagree with them.

    Carlos have you heard of the writing method “show, don’t tell”? You’re welcome to disagree with anyone here. But it might make it more interesting if you tell us who you are disagreeing with and why. Just stating that you disagree adds nothing to the conversation. You can help our understanding of the issue by providing more information. That might help us come around to your point of view.

    If you don’t have a response that will help us understand your point of view, then there’s no need to state your plain disagreement.

    Thanks! I’m glad you’re here.

  14. Cal, that’s OK.

    The doctrine of eternal progression makes total sense to me.

    Before I became a Mormon, (just for the records, I was born and raised in a Catholic family, later, I became a born-again Christian before joining the Mormon church) I wanted to be saved, but the idea of salvation according to the bible did not make too much sense to me. Obviously, to be in Heaven was without a doubt better than going to Hell, but, the idea of living in eternal servitude in Heaven without my family did not appeal to me.

    When I learned from Mormon missionaries, during the second discussion about the Plan of Salvation, that if I reach exaltation in Heaven I will be entitled to receive everything God has and to become a God like him, that made total sense to me. My mortal father wanted me to become better than him and I want my children to become better than me. Why God our loving Father in Heaven would want to have us in eternal servitude in Heaven?

    Finally, all of the Mormon doctrines made total sense to me and the Holy Ghost finally confirmed to my soul those doctrines were true doctrines, then I decided to join the LDS Church.

  15. Further, how did Jesus become a god? Was it by his own Atonement? There clearly is some other way. I’m guessing that you believe that Heavenly Father and Jesus are both persons? What about Heavenly Mother? Is she a person who became a god without the Atonement of Jesus?

    As you might guess, there are all kinds of theories about these questions to those who care in the church. Most are not plausibly-sounding enough to be published anywhere, or even repeated outside of close family settings. Those that talk a lot about these sorts of questions are almost never put into church leadership positions, and if they are, they only talk about them in very private settings. Keeping sacred information secret is a way of keeping these questions unanswered. This is by design. To answer these questions without revelation would require an extremely elaborate theology, that few would be able to agree on.

  16. But without even answering the specifics, Carlos should be able to agree that by implication it is possible for someone (namely Heavenly Father) to be exalted to godhood without the Atonement of Jesus.

  17. The story I was told as a Mormon was that God is the only one who could do this, and the fact that Jesus was his “only begotten” he had a similar bootstrapping ability. But I also recognized that humans could not possibly be expected to understand these sorts of things so trying to settle on any answer to these questions would be fruitless.

  18. Tim,

    You said:

    “If Heavenly Father became a god without the Atonement of Jesus Christ, then clearly someone became a god through some other method. ”

    You are right, but you see, by reasoning we are making assumptions and conclusions, but truly nobody knows. Obviously, the doctrine of eternal progression open new questions that we try to answer by logical reasoning since there is nothing written for those answers.

    According to LDS doctrine, we know a man can become God by the atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ, so his wife can become a Goddess, but in the Mormon Official Canon you will not find any verse or teaching that God Our Heavenly Father has a wife or wives in Heaven or if He also had another God over him. We reason and we imply that, It is all speculation.

    Once I heard this speculation: “Jesus said he only did the same things His Father in Heaven did” and this Mormon friend gave me a quote from the New Testament which I do not recall right now what book, chapter and verse where Jesus said such thing. Then, he added by logical reasoning: “If Jesus is our Savior, then Our Father in Heaven was also a Savior and a Redeemer for his own Father in Heaven in another plan of salvation.”

    Tim, we are intelligent beings, we listen, we process information, we reason and we conclude, that’s OK, but truth is, nothing is written about those things and therefore nothing of that is found on the Official Mormon canon of scripture and certainly nobody knows. God has never revealed to anybody how He became God or if He has a wife or wives in Heaven or if He had his own God over him. All about that is pure speculation.

  19. Carlos reflects the scriptural-literalism/ scriptural-uncertainty combination that inherent in Mormonism. There are all kinds of amazing things in the spectrum of Mormon belief that are left completely open to speculation. Mormons believe The scriptures tell Mormons to seek angelic messengers, not philosophic interpretation or speculation to answer theological problems.

    Theological questions that have not been answered that way, don’t matter much, scriptural interpretation is a Mormon hobby that lots of Mormons think may be worthwhile, but it is not directly in line with the mission of the church.

    I think the latest series of essays is a new attempt by thinking Mormons to explain themselves to the outside world in a reasonable way. It is not an attempt to answer any hard questions (which the majority of Mormons feel are unanswerable)—but an attempt to put the questions to rest a little sounder.

  20. Jack – “‘Latter-day Saint beliefs would have sounded more familiar to the earliest generations of Christians than they do to many modern Christians.’

    “Oh dear. Just no, no, no. There was never any conception among early Christians that human beings were on their way to becoming exactly the type of being that God is now and would one day rule over and govern worlds, universes, and peoples just as God does now. There was never any conception of eternal marriage or any kind of heavenly mother who was a separate person yet the wife of God, which are both (arguably) quite central to the LDS doctrine of deification. Latter-day Saint beliefs would have sounded beyond foreign to the earliest generations of Christians.”

    You seem to be responding to a different assertion than is actually being made.

  21. Tim, I’m only opposed to Restoration ideas that are historically dubious. One can believe that God called JS and revealed to him important truths (some that were lost, some that are brand new) without having to buy into the wholesale fantasy that early Christians were building temples and worshiping Heavenly Mother – only to be wiped from the history books by evil Trinitarians.

    (I can even believe that JS promoted some of these inaccurate ideas in the same way that Paul promoted true redemptive principles with a non historical 1st Century Jewish understanding of who Adam was.) I’ll stop there.

  22. The LDS apologetic is not that they had it right back in the early church, but that they had a diversity of views and theologies that included things that sound similarly ‘weird’ to Catholics and American evangelicals.

  23. Christian ~ I think the jury is out for me on whether or not this is improvement. What I wrote in my chapter that has already been sent to GK Books is that I’d like to see frank and respectful acknowledgment of the differences between Mormon exaltation and traditional Christian teachings on deification, that I think Mormons spend a lot of time making hasty generalizations between the two. This essay is predominantly more of that.

    Some would see the essay as trying to move away from the more distinctive elements of Mormon exaltation and into something that matches more with historic Christian strains of deification. I guess one could call that improvement, but it’s debatable that such is what is being done.

    JT ~ You seem to be responding to a different assertion than is actually being made

    I disagree with the original assertion for the reasons I listed. Exaltation would not have been more familiar to the early Christians than it is to Christians today. It would have been vehemently denounced as heresy.

  24. Jared C, I agree that LDS apologetics has mostly been saying this all along. Church manuals (in broad rhetoric, if not specifics) have not really caught up though. And if Mr. Talmage will forgive me, I’ll say “The Great Apostasy” has been the standard bearer of official misinformation for far too long. Good read – but lots of inaccuracies.

  25. I haven’t had a chance to give the church’s new article a thorough analysis and can’t say much about what others have written here, but there were three things about it that I found particularly interesting in my initial reading:

    1) The article all but states that the church’s view is more a new doctrine (or at least a reinterpretation of old ones) than it is a restoration of something that was clearly taught two millennia ago.

    2) It closely ties the doctrine of exaltation to creation ex materia.

    3) It seems to cement the existence of Heavenly Mother as doctrinal without offering much explanation as to how she fits in with the Godhead and all that.

  26. 2) It closely ties the doctrine of exaltation to creation ex materia.

    I noticed this too. This was part of the early discussion of the subject in Brigham Young’s time. I can see the move they are making but it doesn’t seem like the most solid one or a necessary one. As a Mormon I would think that it reflects the opinion of the author of the essay.

  27. I think Mormons spend a lot of time making hasty generalizations between the two. This essay is predominantly more of that.

    This seems explicitly what the essay is doing. But that is more of a lot bigger habit of making hasty generalizations between Mormonism and every form of traditional Christianity, Judaism, etc. etc.

    Generalized similarities are all that really matter to Mormons, they provide a continuity between the very different religious practices that you find in a commonsense reading of the Bible, and set the stage for someone to explain the “real story.”

    However, most thinking Mormons see that the questions that revelation creates are part of the faith, but answers to them are always through a glass darkly and need to be guided by the Spirit, which is a moniker for what seems to be a quite complex phenomena.

  28. Carlosbyu,

    You are wrong. We are creatures, children of God. To wish to rise above that status and to desire to be like Him, to know what He knows, is sinful.
    That’s why they were banished from the Garden and received a death sentence. A death sentence which still stands, for us. He will not allow us to be like Him.

  29. Christian J.

    You said: “…without having to buy into the wholesale fantasy that early Christians were building temples and worshiping Heavenly Mother”

    Who said that early Christians worshiped Heavenly Mother?

    The Official Mormon canon does not say a word about a Heavenly Mother, and Mormons don’t worship any Heavenly Mother.

  30. I disagree with the original assertion for the reasons I listed. Exaltation would not have been more familiar to the early Christians than it is to Christians today. It would have been vehemently denounced as heresy.

    Mormons may not find this relevant. Jesus was a heretic to all but very few around him.

    A lot of the problems with interfaith discussion on the subject boil down to the “mystery” of the Great Apostasy. To a modern, it is easy to accept that it happened, but historically, there is no solid narrative in the historical record that shows how it happened, so like many other things in Mormonism, it remains a mystery that is revealed by random historical events, but whose actual details remain hidden.

    But a theory of the apostasy would also require a controversial excursion into philosophy, if only to clearly identify the error that entered the picture. I don’t expect one soon from the church that doesn’t resort to the most hazy generalizations.

  31. We are creatures, children of God. To wish to rise above that status and to desire to be like Him, to know what He knows, is sinful.

    I thought you were a creature made into a child of God? If it was sinful to desire to have understanding about Good and Evil then all scripture seems to be the result of that sin.

    But you are close to the heart of the critical difference between Protestants and Mormons.

    Mormons believe you are child of God put into the form of a creature, not a creature that is deemed a child of God through the atonement. Humans are something less than the angels, but with the capacity to overcome the “creature-ness” and achieve the inherent Divine nature inside you.

  32. Christian J,

    With the proper distinctions and nuance kept in place I am not sure there is a current Christian revulsion to deification. Honestly I think that is just a straw man the article sets up. Call it theosis, deification, exaltation, glorification (different theological tradition, different emphasis, different terminology) I am hard pressed to think of any tradition that doesn’t have some form of deifying theology.

  33. “Mormons believe you are child of God put into the form of a creature, not a creature that is deemed a child of God through the atonement. Humans are something less than the angels, but with the capacity to overcome the “creature-ness” and achieve the inherent Divine nature inside you.”

    Precisely why it is difficult to understand why this article would quote Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Basil the Great, or Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite, who all maintained the creator creature distinction and creation ex nihilo. Pointing out these early writers as examples of pre-ex nihilo corruption isn’t a hasty generalization it is ignoring reality, often a reality written on the same pages they are quoting from.

  34. The whole story starts when the Mormon missionaries present the second discussion which is titled The Plan of Salvation” They start teaching that we existed before in the presence of God, that we were his spirit children and He was the only one who had an immortal, perfected and glorified physical body and that we wanted to be like Him and He wanted us to be like Him,

    Therefore he provided to us this earth where we can come and get a physical mortal body and by the atonement of Jesus Christ we could be forgiven of our sins and become heirs of Exaltation in the Celestial Kingdom if we have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, we repent of our sins, we are baptized by immersion for the remission of sins and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost to endure to the end.

    They teach that we can become like God to live with our families forever in the Celestial Kingdom of God.

    From that point we start to make assumptions, expanding the teachings trying to explain ourselves about how God became God and that we also conclude have a Heavenly Mother and we try to make sense of all our conclusions. We believe them, we teach them, we preach them, we are sure they are true, but they are not part of the Official Mormon canon.

  35. David Clark,

    You are entitled to disagree with me and that does not mean you are right. Also, you can disagree with me as much as you want but you cannot disagree with facts, facts are facts, and they will not change regardless if you like them or not or if you agree with them or not; and the facts are that there is no verse, part nor teaching in the Official Mormon canon about how God became God or if there is Heavenly Mother or any other of the speculative doctrines going around about these two things.

    And yes, I am entitled to stand up next to my car as much as I want and to state facts about the Official Mormon canon as much as I want.

  36. gundek, I think it’s more a matter of Mormons assuming that when Evangelicals cry blasphemy at Mormon Exaltation, they must be opposed to any and all theologies of deification. And when EVs commonly refuse to give an inch on the topic, I can hardly blame em. But I hear your point.

  37. And yes, I am entitled to stand up next to my car as much as I want

    Says who? Facts are facts, and they will not change regardless if you like them or not or if you agree with them or not; and the facts are that there is no statute, common law rule, administrative regulation nor Constitutional provision neither state nor federal about where you are entitled to stand, what posture you are to take or the degree of proximity to your car or any other of the speculative laws going around about these things.

  38. And when EVs commonly refuse to give an inch on the topic, I can hardly blame em.

    Right, but the refusal to give an inch on the topic has nothing to do with becoming more godly or entering into glorified unity with God and everything to do with the nature of God and the creature/creator distinction.

    Its not that “theosis” is a problem. It’s that Mormon theosis denies the true nature of God.

  39. Of Course Mormons think Evangelicals are opposed to any form of deification this article tells us that English-speaking Protestants, despite being the people who translated the Ante-Nicene Fathers, likely knew little or nothing about the diversity of Christian beliefs in the first centuries after Jesus Christ’s ministry or about early Christian writings on deification.

  40. this article tells us that English-speaking Protestants, despite being the people who translated the Ante-Nicene Fathers, likely knew little or nothing about the diversity of Christian beliefs in the first centuries after Jesus Christ’s ministry or about early Christian writings on deification.

    Stuff like that really ticks me off, too (what the essay says about English-speaking Protestants, not your comment, gundek). It’s just lies.

  41. For that matter it is English speaking Protestants who have made the Church Fathers available online. Where the Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Basil the Great, and Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite quotes can be read in context.

    http://www.ccel.org/fathers.html

  42. Well and good, but the essay was talking about the English-speaking Protestants from among whom the first converts to Mormonism came. They can’t really take credit for putting anything online.

  43. True, but the Presbyterians of the 19th century raised with the Westminster Confession’s “without body, parts, or passions” were also catechized with the Larger Catechism’s union and communion with Christ a “union which the elect have with Christ is the work of God’s grace, whereby they are spiritually and mystically, yet really and inseparably, joined to Christ as their head and husband”.

    They would have also been aware of John Calvin who taught, “Let us then mark, that the end of the gospel is, to render us eventually conformable to God, and, if we may so speak, to deify us.”

  44. You are entitled to stand next to a car, but that does not mean you are right about Mormon canon.

    The interesting thing about this discussion is that Carlos’ thinking is actually closer to what will be the lasting interpretation of the Mormon Canon. Simple answers, a simple theological model, straightforward ways of life, clear limits of theological inquiry. This is the sort of theology that allows for growth and unity in less developed religious settings.

    In a very real sense the LDS Church is theologically un-moored and these are the waters Mormonism has found itself in because of the simple way the Restoration is now taught. And, by the logic of continuing revelation and church leadership, the latest commonsense theological model is actually the closest to what God is well pleased with.

    So Carlos must be more correct than us about nearly everything he says about Mormonism.

    And. . . I think standing by cars is the new planking.

  45. You know, I have read the essay and every comment on this thread, and I have to say that few people here understand what the essay was saying, or what is true concerning history.

    For example, people have complained that the essay states that the English-speaking protestants of the early 1800’s that lived in the North Eastern United States likely did not have a knowledge of what the early father’s taught. How dare the writer make a claim that a group of people, who were commonly illiterate and frequently had little time to read the Bible, let alone anything else, didn’t read and understand things that were written 1500 years before they were born. Of course the best complaint in when they start using modern technological advances that were not available in the 1800’s to prove their point.
    They are taking this statement way too personally and twisting its intent. They seem to think that simply by describing these people as English-speaking protestants the writer is making some kind of covert attack against modern English-speaking protestants. That is simply ridiculous.

  46. Now, Carl has said that the doctrine of how God became God is not in the canon, and neither is the doctrine of a Heavenly Mother. On these points he is technically accurate, as neither one is stated directly. However, both are assumed in many passages in the scriptures and are most definitely taught by the church leaders from the days of Joseph Smith. In the King Follett Discourse, which the essay quotes, Joseph Smith states “you have got to learn how to be gods yourselves…the same as all gods have done before you, namely, by going from one small degree to another…until you attain to the resurrection of the dead, and are able to dwell in everlasting burnings, and to sit in glory, as do those who sit enthroned in everlasting power.”

    This questions have been asked.
    Q. How did Jesus becomes God?
    A. He became God by being obedient to the will of His Father. This is how we become gods as well. Yes, it is through the Atonement, because it is only through the Atonement that we can be obedient, but it is obedience that is the process. Jesus was the only one who could be obedient on his own, and thus he could attain godhood on his own. But the process is still the same.

    Obedience is the path to godhood, and as Joseph Smith said that we must learn the way just as all gods have, then we know that all gods became gods on this same principle.

  47. FWIW, my understanding of deification as a Mormon was wrapped up in the possibility of eternal progression. It stood to reason that Spirits co-eternal with God that choose to live like God will eventually figure out how to be God if they have the ability to continually right their course through renewal and repentance. God will perfect his eternally co-existent children through Jesus, who is mighty to save, and nothing will ever come between the love of God and those that choose to follow. I saw Joseph’s visions of the multiple kingdoms as suggestive or allegorical, open to all kinds of interpretation, Understanding how to relate to God or become like him was ultimately something that couldn’t be taught, it comes to you by walking a certain path.

    But, of course, this picture of the totally denies or ignores a God that is outside the universe, of a totally different nature than humans.

    Becoming like the traditional Christian God has a different meaning than becoming like our Heavenly Father in the LDS context.

  48. You are entitled to trust in yourself…and God…but…that’s too bad. He’s doesn’t need your help. In fact, He’s trying to kill you off.

    (Saint Paul’s interpretation…and yes, Virginia…he’s entitled to it :D)

  49. Shem,

    Of course the author is writing against Protestants, you don’t point out perceived flaws in someone’s theological system to help them recruit. I’m more than happy to acknowledge we have better access to material than was available in the 19th century but i read enough Theological material written from the 17th to 19th century in English to think people were illiterate ignoramuses.

    Protestants have been interacting with the Ante-Nicene Fathers since Zwingli, the Reformers reformer. Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, and Basil the Great quoted in the piece were commonly quoted by the Protestants from the German Johannes Oecolampadius (love that name) to the English John Owen.

    To be honest with you, while I am actually pleased by the article, if I were a Mormon I would be less than impresses. Theologically you may agree with everything the piece says but To make the argument that creation ex nihilo caused a change in theology by quoting 3 theologians who taught creation ex nihilo is an inexcusable oversight of cherry picking quotes. Please tell me the author knows who the Cappadocian Fathers were? I couldn’t have have picked three more Orthodox theologians.

    Honestly you cannot tell me you are pleased that the basis of the biblical argument was “These passages can be interpreted in different ways” and the heart of the historical argument was “What exactly the early church fathers meant when they spoke of becoming God is open to interpretation”.

  50. Yes, Jared…but it ain’t easy for Him.

    We just refuse to give up (being our own little god!)

    Finally, they’ll throw the dirt on our face. He’s not gonna let us win.

  51. Carlos said,
    “I became a born-again Christian before joining the Mormon church”

    Interesting. So you didn’t lose your faith in Christ or your experience of the constant companionship of Christ via his Spirit when you switched to Mormonism?

    You said, “I wanted to be saved, but the idea of salvation according to the bible did not make too much sense to me.”

    I’m all for using common sense but I try to keep in mind that sometimes God’s ways don’t make sense to us, even though they are right. There is a verse in Proverbs that says there is way that seems right to us but only leads to death. I don’t mean to suggest that you are on your way to eternal death—I doubt you are. What I mean is that we can’t always trust our common sense but must always ultimately trust the Holy Spirit, who gives us God’s common sense. We want his common sense, not ours. I think you’ll agree.

    You said, “the idea of living in eternal servitude in Heaven without my family did not appeal to me.”

    I thought the LDS taught that faithful Mormons will always be under Christ, never independent of him. . . . Also, we believe we will be with our families, if they also trusted in Christ. We don’t believe marriage will continue, as you know. I believe existence in heaven will be so superior to this life that we will find that even marriage was inferior.

    You asked, “Why God our loving Father in Heaven would want to have us in eternal servitude in Heaven?”

    I believe eternal servitude in heaven IS eternal reign with him. It is the greatest freedom.

    You said, “the Holy Ghost finally confirmed to my soul those doctrines were true doctrines, then I decided to join the LDS Church.”

    I believe the Holy Ghost did tell you that you would enter his kingdom by following LDS teachings. I know the basics for salvation are taught in your church. They believe in the same Christ we do. But I also know that if you pray for guidance on a more specific level you’ll find that the LDS is not the only place where someone can find the constant companionship of the gift of the Holy Ghost. Have you ever asked God if some Mormon doctrines are true and some aren’t? Have you considered that possibility?

    God bless you. I’m glad you’ve found God through Jesus.

  52. If someone is ever like “man I just don’t really grok what ‘confirmation bias’ is,” that would be a really good example to show them.

  53. If someone is ever like “man I just don’t really grok what ‘unspecified antecedent’ is,” _Kullervo’s last comment_ would be a really good example to show them.

  54. Gundeck

    I apologize. I have done some research and my assertion to illiteracy was inaccurate. However, everything else is still true. While the people could read, most of them did not read extensively and would have relied on the Religious leaders of the day to teach them of those earlier years of Christianity. To say that the leaders quoting the early fathers is proof that most people knew and understood what those ancient men said and believed is a huge assumption and not one that can be logically justified. Just reading on the various blogs that people put out I have likely an equal understanding that they did, and that is not much. Now, if you can point to well circulated newspapers and magazines that extensively quoted the early fathers than you would have something to base your statement on.

    “Of course the author is writing against Protestants”
    This illustrates my point completely. You have a personal grudge and have chosen to take personal insult from the author correctly describing the people of the North Eastern United States as English Speaking Protestants. The author had no intention in attacking, insulting, or belittling anyone, but you choose to take it as an insult. I don’t speculate as to why, but that is what you are doing.

    “To make the argument that creation ex nihilo caused a change in theology by quoting 3 theologians who taught creation ex nihilo”
    And again you prove that you do not understand the essay as this was never done. These three men were quoted to show only that many early father made reference to becoming like God, and it was acknowledged that their true meaning is not fully known, and thus it is not unlikely they would disagree with our doctrine. The concept of ‘creation ex nihilo’ was not introduced until two paragraphs later and was given as a reason for these references to becoming like God fading out of prominence.
    This is exactly the kind of thing I was talking about in my original post.

  55. “When in doubt, assume the immediately previous comment.”

    = “God bless you. I’m glad you’ve found God through Jesus.”

    Got it.

  56. Jared C on February 26, 2014 at 7:07 pm said:

    “So Carlos must be more correct than us about nearly everything he says about Mormonism.”

    Thanks for that comment.

    Just for the records, I have been an active member of the LDS Church for over 33 years and during that time I have read and studied not only the doctrines of the LDS Church but also about its history. Even though I don’t have an answer for every question, I do know what Official Mormon Canon of scriptures teaches.

  57. The author had no intention in attacking, insulting, or belittling anyone, but you choose to take it as an insult.

    How do you know what the author’s intent was if you don’t know who the author is?

  58. Shem,

    Your right I have missed the point. Obviously I do not have the intellectual wherewithal to comprehend that authors intent for not explaining a passages of Scriptures meaning (in context) or for enlightening his reader of his understanding of people he quotes. It is as we say in hicksville above my paygrade.

    You will I hope excuse my ignorance and personal grudges for my utter and unexplainable totally inexcusable failure to see that the author was simply intent to explain that since John Calvin made reference to becoming like God; the Westminster Confession of Faith makes reference to becoming like God; My pastor makes references to becoming like God; I don’t know of a theological tradition that doesn’t make some reference to becoming like God; Creation ex nihilo has been the majority view of Christianity for 1,950 some odd years and Christians are still making references about becoming like God, that there really has been a fading of this belief of becoming like God.

    Once again I thank you for bearing with my ineptitude and confusion in thinking that If the author’s only intent was to prove that Christians once made reference to becoming like God he went about it in a strange way.

  59. I did read “Partakers of the Divine Nature”: A Comparative Analysis of Patristic and Mormon Doctrines of Divinization” by the then Roman Catholic now Mormon Jordan Vajda foot noted in the Gospel Topic essay.

    While I think Vajda glossed over problems the West has had with the Eastern distinction between essence and energy and he missed the boat entirely when he said there was a lack of doctrinal controversy over theosis by ignoring this difficulty, I thought it was a pretty good read.

  60. Gundeck

    Creation ex nihilo can not be shown to be the common belief of Christians until after the second century. Thus your statement that “Creation ex nihilo has been the majority view of Christianity for 1,950 some odd years” is no more than your opinion based on your beliefs, and thus proves nothing.
    When it comes down to it your issue with what is being said is that it is a different interpretation of available documents than yours. There is nothing inaccurate about it, only different.
    The entire thing is stated primarily as opinion and interpretation to illustrate the doctrine of the LDS church and how we see things. That is all, and for that purpose it does a wonderful job.

  61. Shem,

    I think I understand why you need this to be personal, but it really has nothing to do with my personal opinion versus the author’s. The author makes claims, quotes the Bible and the Church Fathers and doesn’t make an effort to explain why anyone should give credence to his ideas.

    I am not even sure what doctrinal or historical significance Mormon beliefs sounding “more familiar” to the earliest church is supposed to have, but I will take you word for it that Gospel Topic series on the Official LDS website is simply a matter of opinion and interpretation. Generally interpretation does come with an explanation.

  62. Gundeck

    Considering that his purpose is not to persuade anyone of anything it is not surprising that he doesn’t “explain why anyone should give credence to his ideas.” This essay is to inform and it does that very well. To complain that it doesn’t persuade, or makes no attempt to persuade is to miss the point.

    Now, I never said your comments had anything to do with your opinions versus the author’s. I said that it had something to do with your personal opinions about the author, and more specifically about the LDS church. I gave my opinion that the opinions you held regarding the church and its members before you read this has caused you to miss some aspects of the essay.

  63. Considering that his purpose is not to persuade anyone of anything it is not surprising that he doesn’t “explain why anyone should give credence to his ideas.”

    Whose purpose?

  64. Shem,

    I don’t even know who the writer is. I’m glad that you can divine my personal opinions.

    Try this the next time you have a conversation with a non-mormon about this topic quote Acts 17:29 or Romans 8:16–17. Then explain that Irenaeus, Clement, and Basil sound more Mormon.

  65. I gave my opinion that the opinions you held regarding the church and its members before you read this has caused you to miss some aspects of the essay.

    shematwater, thanks for sharing your own personal opinions and understanding of the matter. However, I disagree with them.

  66. Gundeck

    Again you show you don’t understand what the author is saying as he never once said these men sound more Mormon. He said they spoke on the concept of being like God and thus our doctrine concerning that concept would sound more familiar to them. You have chosen to take this to mean that the author is saying these men taught the same doctrine as the LDS, and that is simply not the case.

    Also, you don’t need to know a person in order to form an opinion about them. However, if you read my full statement you will see that I am speaking of him generally as a member of the church.

    Kullervo

    I have no problem with you having different opinions than mine. That is why they are opinions. I have given my reasons for holding those opinions and what you do with that is your choice. Based on the comments made by Gundeck I do not think he has grasped the intent of this essay, but, based on his previous opinions of the church and its membership, has chosen to misinterpret certain statements made in the essay in a way that was not intended by the author.
    (Note, when I spoke of ‘his purpose’ I was speaking of the author if the essay in question.)

  67. Shem,

    The act of theology is reciprocity, it is an exchange of ideas.

    I have told you before that you are right, I don’t understand.

    I don’t understand what the difference is between, “Latter-day Saint beliefs would have sounded more familiar to the earliest generations of Christians than they do to many modern Christians.” and sounding “more Mormon”. I’m sure you can explain some significant rhetorical distinction but I don’t understand.

    I have admitted that I have no idea what significance “sounding” has when discussing theology, ideas, doctrine or concepts. In fact my exact words were “it is difficult to understand why this article would quote…” Maybe instead of telling me I don’t understand, when clearly I have already acknowledged that I don’t understand, you can tell me why someone would quote writers who disagree with LDS theology without a substantive explanation.

    I don’t understand why anyone would conclude that an article about one of the most significant LDS doctrines on the LDS official web site was not intended to persuade anyone.

    I don’t understand why unified in purpose and doctrine is not polytheism.

    I don’t understand why every person being divine in origin, nature, and potential is not polytheism.

    I don’t understand the significance of divine in LDS theology if every person is divine in origin, nature, and potential.

    I don’t understand why I would want to form an idea about a person who I don’t even know. Practically speaking it seems an exercise in futility, but I admit that may be simply because I don’t understand the reason for forming opinions about people I don’t know.

    Otherwise I think I understand that it is easier for you to argue about rhetoric and imply bias than it is to deal with that substance of my claim that the concept of deification has not faded from Western Christianity.

  68. I have no problem with you having different opinions than mine. That is why they are opinions. I have given my reasons for holding those opinions and what you do with that is your choice. Based on the comments made by Gundeck I do not think he has grasped the intent of this essay, but, based on his previous opinions of the church and its membership, has chosen to misinterpret certain statements made in the essay in a way that was not intended by the author.

    shematwater, You are entitled to your own personal interpretation of this essay, but that does not mean you are right.

  69. I don’t understand why every person being divine in origin, nature, and potential is not polytheism.

    It’s a mystery.

  70. shematwater,

    Furthermore, you are entitled to stand next to any car your wish (provided it is a foreign made sedan), but that does not mean you understand the essay.

  71. Jared,

    Mystery or not, I wonder why in a system where every person is divine in origin, nature, and potential the category of polytheism is even valid?

  72. Again you show you don’t understand what the author is saying as he never once said these men sound more Mormon. He said they spoke on the concept of being like God and thus our doctrine concerning that concept would sound more familiar to them. You have chosen to take this to mean that the author is saying these men taught the same doctrine as the LDS, and that is simply not the case.

    Also, you don’t need to know a person in order to form an opinion about them. However, if you read my full statement you will see that I am speaking of him generally as a member of the church.

    How do you know the author is a member of the church? Who is the author?

  73. Mystery or not, I wonder why in a system where every person is divine in origin, nature, and potential the category of polytheism is even valid?

    What is the standard of validation?

  74. I don’t know if there is a standard of validation, but if in Mormonism every person is divine in origin, nature, and potential then have a class of divine beings separated from humanity seems to be a category that can be rejected by Mormons. Why would monotheism or polytheism matter if every human is divine. Godhood would then be based on being unified in purpose and doctrine, where purpose and doctrine is the “one” not the nature of the being. Why redefine monotheism as unity in purpose and doctrine when you can just reject the category?

  75. You don’t need a difference between deity and humanity to have polytheism or monotheism; you only need a difference between deity and not-deity. If Mormons believe that every human being is a god, that’s most definitely polytheism, unless they believe everything else is god too.

  76. Does belief in exaltation make Latter-day Saints polytheists?

    For some observers, the doctrine that humans should strive for godliness may evoke images of ancient pantheons with competing deities. Such images are incompatible with Latter-day Saint doctrine. Latter-day Saints believe that God’s children will always worship Him. Our progression will never change His identity as our Father and our God. Indeed, our exalted, eternal relationship with Him will be part of the “fulness of joy” He desires for us.

    Latter-day Saints also believe strongly in the fundamental unity of the divine. They believe that God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son, and the Holy Ghost, though distinct beings, are unified in purpose and doctrine.47 It is in this light that Latter-day Saints understand Jesus’s prayer for His disciples through the ages: “That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us.”48

    If humans live out of harmony with God’s goodness, they cannot grow into God’s glory. Joseph Smith taught that “the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only [except] upon the principles of righteousness.” When humans abandon God’s selfless purposes and standards, “the heavens withdraw themselves [and] the Spirit of the Lord is grieved.” Pride is incompatible with progress; disunity is impossible between exalted beings.

    So, for the record, this does not in any way deny that Mormons are polytheists. “[I]mages of ancient pantheons with competing deities” is not the essence of polytheism. Belief in the existence of more than one god is the essence of polytheism (and bonus polytheism points for belief in the existence of an unlimited number of gods). It has nothing to do with whether they are organized into pantheons (ancient or modern), whether or not they compete, or to what degree they are subordinate to each other. If you belive in the existence of multiple gods, you’re a polytheist.

    Mormons believe in the existence of multiple gods, so Mormons are polytheists.

  77. I’m not arguing against that, I’m just saying if I was a Mormon I would deny the validity of a monotheism/polytheism distinction the same way they deny the creator creature distinction.

  78. My assumption has always been that these articles are written by a committee.

    Totally. But a committee comprising whom? Institutional authorship is a legal fiction.

  79. I think of a committee because it reads that way. There is a logical progression of topics but each topic almost stands alone.

    For instance you could remove the “What does the Bible say about humans’ divine potential?” topic without changing anything in the rest of the article.

  80. I’m not arguing against that, I’m just saying if I was a Mormon I would deny the validity of a monotheism/polytheism distinction the same way they deny the creator creature distinction.

    Right, at some level Mormons have a special kind of theism, where more than one person can have attributes of God. But, in the end they insist, rather persuasively, that their brand is as “monotheistic” as Christianity, or at least very close. Mormons believe there is only one Father.

  81. Right, at some level Mormons have a special kind of theism, where more than one person can have attributes of God. But, in the end they insist, rather persuasively, that their brand is as “monotheistic” as Christianity, or at least very close. Mormons believe there is only one Father.

    Only one father of us. That’s only monotheism if “monotheism” means “polytheism.”

  82. Sure, Multiple co-eternals, each a separate person, with the attributes of God. . .Sounds like polytheism to me. This game has been played before.

    The debate about whether Mormons are monotheistic is similar to the debate about whether they are Christians–always a bit political.

    By some standards, Mormons must fit in with what most people consider to be monotheistic.
    By the standard of whether there was any force in the Universe worthy of worship, Mormons are clearly Monotheistic. In many ways, they only worship the Father, not the three persons of the Trinity, and they believe in no God other than Him, and he has attributes that are superior to all others. And they clearly are different than polytheists like Hindus, who are might be closer to traditional Christians in their ontology of God as avatars of the same essence.

    By some standards they could be classified as atheistic or agnostic, not believing in a God outside creation. Such a God may exist in the Mormon understanding of deity, but, in Mormonism, the Father is the only thing we can see or understand, i.e. the only God that can be known or worshiped. If a God other than the Father ever showed up, in theory Mormons might consider it worthy of worship, but no such God is acknowledged.

  83. Mormons generally don’t worship Jesus in the way that Evangelicals do. God gets all praise. In that sense they less polytheistic—i.e. worshipers of more than one person.

  84. If you believe in the existence of many gods but only worship (or should only worship) one of them, no matter how exclusively, you are a henotheist, not a monotheist. Henotheism is a kind of polytheism. Montheism isn’t just being way into one god. It’s the claim that only one god even exists.

    The Hindu who believes in infinite gods but only worships Shiva is not a monotheist.

    Naiadis, who blogs at Strip Me Back To The Bone, ostensibly believes in all of the Hellenic gods and goddesses, but as far as I know, worships Poseidon exclusively: in fact, she considers herself married to Poseidon and has a relationship with him that is probably far, far more intimate than the average monotheist’s relationship with God. But she is still not a monotheist, because she believes in the existence of many gods.

    This isn’t political. It’s lexicographical.

  85. The definition of God is also critical here. Sure things can be “settled” lexicographically, but whose rules are those, and what does settling the question that way mean other than traditional Christians are more acceptable than Mormons because monotheism has a certain prestige?

    Christianity contends that it is monotheistic but its claim only holds together based on a complex philosophical argument that ultimately sits in mystery. Call it what you want, but the reasons people call it “monotheism” do not have to do with simple definition of words.

  86. I don’t have any problem with the word Polytheism. I believe there are three Gods: 1) God The Eternal Father, 2) His Son Jesus Christ, and 3) The Holy Ghost. They are three different persons, they are three Gods.

    As a Mormon, I do believe they are three Gods in Heaven, so I am polytheist and I don’t see any problem being one. Anyone who knows how to add “1 + 1 + 1” knows that it is equal to 3, so, I count three Gods in Heaven. Obviously within this theology I believe God the Father is higher than the other two Gods.

    To me this sounds perfectly OK, I don’t have any problems with this. I worship God the Father in the name of His Son Jesus Christ and I am blessed by the Holy Ghost to get guidance and knowledge.

  87. To me this sounds perfectly OK, I don’t have any problems with this.

    Your obvious problems with this should be Isaiah 43:10 and Isaiah 44:6.

  88. Gundeck

    The difference is in familiarity. These men may not have believed what we do, and may likely have called our doctrine heresy. However, in their day the discussion of it was more prevalent, and thus would have been familiar to them. It is much like saying that the Hindi doctrine would sound more familiar to a Christian in India than to a Christian in the United States, simply because in India they are more exposed to that doctrine. The author of the article clearly stated that the actual meaning of these men is up for debate. He spoke only to the fact that they would have been more familiar with the debate than many in the modern day are.

    Kullervo

    My opinions don’t prove me right, but I have shown more than once where certain statements were made concerning the essay that are proven inaccurate by the essay itself. Now, I will admit that on this last point it is more of an opinion, but I have given more to back mine than anyone else has.

    As to the debate on polytheism and monotheism, it is more political than anything else. However, I agree that the LDS doctrine does not fit nicely into either definition. We believe in many divine beings, but in only one that is worthy of our worship and adulation.
    The Oxford English Dictionary says “Thus, in speaking of Greek mythology, we distinguish the gods from the dæmons or supernatural powers of inferior rank, and from the heroes or demigods, who, though objects of worship, and considered as immortal, were not regarded as having ceased to be men; and the analogy of this nomenclature is often followed in speaking of modern polytheistic religions.” (http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/79625?rskey=vLpqDm&result=1&isAdvanced=false#eid)
    Using this same idea, we believe in only one God, but we believe in many divine beings of lesser rank, which we choose to refer to as gods and angels. Godhood is a state of being that many exist in, and many will exist in; but there is only one God.

  89. Using this same idea, we believe in only one God, but we believe in many divine beings of lesser rank, which we choose to refer to as gods and angels. Godhood is a state of being that many exist in, and many will exist in; but there is only one God.

    Does Heavenly Father have a Heavenly Father?

  90. Kullervo, i don’t have any problems with Isaiah 43:10 either, neither with Isaiah 44:6, I have read them in the past and laughed at them since I don’t believe that is true.

    By the way, for the records, I do not believe the Bible is a perfect, neither an accurate and reliable account. Actually, I have found by myself many errors in the Holy Bible, errors in the historical account and in the doctrinal account.

    So, the Bible is it is today is not a perfect reliable source of doctrine for salvation. This of course is my personal opinion.

  91. Jared,

    What LDS argument for monotheism is persuasive? Arguing for a divine parentage united in purpose and doctrine is not persuasive monotheism.

    My point is that monotheism only has the prestige and political power Mormons give to it. Continuing to use historic Christian categories with more and more inventive definitions only bolsters reinforces the original category.

    Tertullian asked the question “What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?” Eventually Mormons will have to ask “What hath Salt Lake to do with historic Christianity?”

  92. Continuing to use historic Christian categories with more and more inventive definitions only bolsters reinforces the original category.

    An important point.

  93. Shem,

    I don’t buy the idea that that there was any more familiarity in the ancient church with this type of language. When you examine the writers such as Saint Athanasius or Clement who used the language like that highlighted in the article you see their doctrine couched in the language of the complete coequal divinity of the Son and the epic criticality of the incarnation, a union with the created and uncreated. You also see this language used in very Trinitarian explanations about the unsubordinated divinity of the Son and the Spirit and the united works of God in all matters salvific.

    These single sentences quoted in the article were part of technical theological books, taking them out of this context removes the content that people we actually familiar with.

    Besides, I’d be willing to bet a case of beer that these documents have been accessed more since Al Gore invented the internet than they were in the first 1,000 years after they were written.

  94. My point is that monotheism only has the prestige and political power Mormons give to it. Continuing to use historic Christian categories with more and more inventive definitions only bolsters reinforces the original category.

    This a thousand times. Why not just be like carlosbyu and affirm distinctive Mormon doctrines with boldness? Yes, there are many gods, the Trinity is a lie, there is no creator-created distinction, the Bible is not reliable, and human beings can become gods.

  95. My point is that monotheism only has the prestige and political power Mormons give to it.

    This is straightforwardly false. The Monotheism label has much more prestige and political power than the polytheistic label.

  96. Kullervo, I said:

    “I don’t have a problem saying things as they are”.

    I don’t think I may be a false teacher with destructive heresies for stating facts and saying what is true. I don’t think is a heresy to say there are three Gods in Heaven, anyone who knows how to count can figure this out. Obviously if you put dogma on top of that, dogma taken from errors in the bible, and you consider dogma better than truth, you can call destructive heresy to whatever contradicts it.

    Truth does not have anything to hide.

  97. No, I’ve never been to India, but I haven’t noticed it’s immense historical prestige and political power.

  98. Gundeck

    Now you are getting into an argument over your opinions verses the authors. Whether you agree with him or not does not change the opinion that he expressed. I never once argued whether or not these early fathers were more familiar or not; only that the author gave the opinion that they were.
    Every opinion I have expressed, with the exception of one, has been an opinion on the author’s intended meaning, and that is it. The one opinion I did give was simply to agree with the author on one point in order to illustrate the reason for my opinion regarding his meaning.
    I have no real desire to speak on anything else at this time.

    Kullervo

    “Does Heavenly Father have a Heavenly Father?”

    Whether He does or not they would be gods, in that they exist in the state of Godhood, but they would not be God, or the one who is worthy of our worship.

  99. Whether He does or not they would be gods, in that they exist in the state of Godhood, but they would not be God, or the one who is worthy of our worship.

    As I said yesterday: “If you believe in the existence of many gods but only worship (or should only worship) one of them, no matter how exclusively, you are a henotheist, not a monotheist. Henotheism is a kind of polytheism. Montheism isn’t just being way into one god. It’s the claim that only one god even exists.”

  100. Shem,

    All of the books of the Church Fathers the article quotes are available online for free at ccel.org don’t take my word for it read them yourself.

  101. Tim,

    Good question. according to the Official Mormon Canon of scripture I believe there are only three Gods in Heaven: The Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.

    I could entertain personal speculations like if there is more than one Heaven or others Gods in the only Heaven, like the possibility that God has a Goddess wife or some other lesser Gods. Our minds with our speculations can go as far as we want, but all those thoughts remain in the realm of speculation or from my personal point of view, in the realm of my personal speculation, because I don’t know more than which has been revealed, and nobody knows for sure more than which has been revealed.

    In any case, I stick to what the Official Mormon Canon teaches as of today, which is only three Gods in Heaven.

  102. What do you make of the church article declaring there to be a heavenly mother? Is speculation beyond the canon a proper thing for the church to do?

  103. carlosbyu, literally every president of the church, from Joseph Smith to Thomas S. Monson has taught things that are not in the standard works. Are they not prophets?

    In fact, your rule that speculation beyond the canon is improper is not in the canon.

  104. Kullervo,

    As stated in the canon, the Word of Wisdom is not a commandment but a recommendation. Lately it was adopted by the general membership in a general conference as a commandment. Therefore in theory is not, but in the practice it is.

    Under my own personal opinion, the Word of Wisdom as stated in D&C should be updated to reflect the changes made by the general membership. In other words the canon in relation to the Word of Wisdom needs a revision and an update.

  105. Kullervo (on henotheism),

    In your view, was early Judaism (including much of the Old Testament) henotheistic?

  106. This is the Mormon Canon on the issue:

    D&C 20: 27-28:
    As well as those who should come after, who should believe in the gifts and callings of God by the Holy Ghost, which beareth record of the Father and of the Son;

    Which Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are one God, infinite and eternal, without end. Amen.

    D&C 121:28:
    A time to come in the which nothing shall be withheld, whether there be one God or many gods, they shall be manifest.

  107. Kullervo,

    “literally every president of the church, from Joseph Smith to Thomas S. Monson
    has taught things that are not in the standard works. Are they not prophets?”

    They are prophets, but that does not mean that every word they utter they should take it from the standard works.

    This is not really a problem for Latter-day Saints. Prophets may teach directly from the canon; or prophets may give advice or teachings from their personal understanding of the canon. Also, not every word that prophets utter is a sacred revelation to be included in the canon.

    Your words:

    “In fact, your rule that speculation beyond the canon is improper is not in the canon.”

    Obviously, canon law is not necessarily stated on the canon, we, mortals, set up canon laws in order to set up a guidance to be based on. For instance, where in the Bible says which books should be included in the Bible? Where in the Bible says which books are not inspired and should be considered to be included in the Apocrypha? Under what authority men arrogate to themselves the right to decide which book is included in the Bible and which book is not? All of these are arbitrary decisions that we hoped were based on the Holy Ghost, but that was not necessarily always the case.

  108. In your view, was early Judaism (including much of the Old Testament) henotheistic?

    A very casual reading of Jacob’s life alone should indicate that not everyone in the Bible was operating with as full an understanding of God as we might have.

  109. Kullervo

    “If you believe in the existence of many gods but only worship (or should only worship) one of them, no matter how exclusively, you are a henotheist, not a monotheist. Henotheism is a kind of polytheism. Montheism isn’t just being way into one god. It’s the claim that only one god even exists.”

    That all depends on your definition of the word God, which was my point. Many religions make a distinction between the gods and other divine beings. That distinction must be understood before one labels any religion. If you are going to count a belief in many divine beings as henotheistic than some could reasonably argue that all of Christianity is, as most believe in angels as some kind of divine being. They are not on the same level as God, but they are divine.
    The LDS doctrine recognizes only one God, but many divine beings. We classify these beings according to the type of existence they have: angels and gods. Just because we use the term god as a divine classification does not prove that we believe in multiple Gods, in the sense of worthy of divine worship.
    Add to this the fact that Henotheism is not merely the belief in many gods, but the belief of many gods that are worthy of worship, while at the same time believing that you should worship only one. In this way many of the ancients were henotheists because they worshiped their tribal or local gods, but accepted that other tribes and locations had their own gods that those people worshiped.
    The LDS believe there is only one God that anyone should worship. Location and family doesn’t matter.

    Gundeck

    I don’t have the time to read all of them, though I would like to some day. However, as I said, that is getting into a debate of your opinion verses the authors and I just don’t care to do that right now.

  110. That all depends on your definition of the word God, which was my point. Many religions make a distinction between the gods and other divine beings. That distinction must be understood before one labels any religion. If you are going to count a belief in many divine beings as henotheistic than some could reasonably argue that all of Christianity is, as most believe in angels as some kind of divine being. They are not on the same level as God, but they are divine.
    The LDS doctrine recognizes only one God, but many divine beings. We classify these beings according to the type of existence they have: angels and gods. Just because we use the term god as a divine classification does not prove that we believe in multiple Gods, in the sense of worthy of divine worship.
    Add to this the fact that Henotheism is not merely the belief in many gods, but the belief of many gods that are worthy of worship, while at the same time believing that you should worship only one. In this way many of the ancients were henotheists because they worshiped their tribal or local gods, but accepted that other tribes and locations had their own gods that those people worshiped.
    The LDS believe there is only one God that anyone should worship. Location and family doesn’t matter.

    No, that’s total all nonsense, sorry.

    It’s not about how you define “God.” It’s about whether God is unique in kind or not. His uniqueness in relationship to us is not dispositive.

    And you’re adding a lot of connotational baggage to the denotation of henotheism. If you believe in the existence of more than one god but only worship one of them, you are a henotheist, which is a kind of polytheist. Why you worship just the one and not the others may be theologically interesting, but it doesn’t make you a monotheist.

    Mormons do not believe that God is ontologically unique, only unique in relation to humanity. Mormons believe that other beings of the same kind as God exist (not merely “other divine beings” like angels, but other “gods”). That’s not monotheism.

    But you know what? Whatever. This is a stupid but typical game. Sure, Mormons are monotheists, if you redefine monotheism. Sure, Mormons are Christians, if you redefine Christianity. Sure, Seth, Mormons are Trinitarians, if you redefine the Trinity. That’s ridiculous. It’s duplicitous. What’s the point of it, other than to obscure the fact that there are deep and fundamental differences between Mormonism and Christianity?

    It’s flat-out dishonesty, and evidence that Mormonism is rotten to the core. You call good evil and evil good. You teach another gospel and try to conceal it. The Bible has strong words for that.

  111. JT,

    What is the significance of henotheism in the Old Testament to a Mormon? I’m with Tim, it really doesn’t take a critical Biblical scholar to see the syncretism on the OT. I have read similar LDS comments that OT Judaism was Henotheist but I’m not sure that I have ever heard an explanation how this relates to LDS beliefs, unless you take the Carlos position that the Bible is just flat out wrong when it contradicts Mormonism.

  112. Just so that I am clear the on the position that Carlos and Shem are commenting about, am I correct that only the Father is worthy of worship in LDS theology? So no worshiping the only begotten Son or the Holy Spirit?

  113. Great – Kullervo has just checked himself out of any meaningful dialogue with Latter-day Saints. Hopefully his is not the majority view here.

  114. Tim, Gundek – I was mostly interested in how far Kullervo was willing to extend the reach of the label of henotheism (a label that clearly carries a negative connotation).

  115. JT,

    I think you have it backwards. If all we are doing is redefining words and worrying about negative connotations, then there isn’t much meaningful dialogue to be had. If meaningful dialogue consists in redefining monotheism and henotheism so that Mormons don’t feel bad about labels, then there isn’t any meaningful dialogue to be had. It’s all just word games so that Mormons can present the PR front they want to portray.

    But, I actually can’t blame Mormons for this. Joseph Smith set the tone for this whole game when he redefined “eternal” and “endless” in D&C 19 to accommodate his changing views on the afterlife. The latest round of pronouncements from the LDS website merely continue this tradition.

    For whatever reason, believing in the existence of many gods has been determined to not fit with the image the LDS church wants to present to the world. So instead of becoming actual monotheists, the LDS church has decided to redefine the term “polytheist” (and now on this thread “henotheist” as well). Then when the unsuspecting outsider decides to speak in plain English, Mormons get up in arms because WE’RE NOT POLYTHEISTS, it says so on the web site. And any attempt to try and use words normally is met with further insistence that we all fall in line with Mormons’ rape of the English language to further PR goals and warm-fuzzies for Mormons.

    We get it. War is peace, horses are tapirs, and eternal means temporary-but-done-by-God. And Mormons continue to wonder why they are misunderstood.

  116. David Clark

    If all we are doing is redefining words and worrying about negative connotations, then there isn’t much meaningful dialogue to be had. If meaningful dialogue consists in redefining monotheism and henotheism so that Mormons don’t feel bad about labels, then there isn’t any meaningful dialogue to be had. It’s all just word games so that Mormons can present the PR front they want to portray.

    This is most of what Evangelicals do in dialogue with Mormons, fuss about their theological definitions.

    Sincerely, what is your idea of meaningful dialogue?

  117. JT,

    I think you are coming in at the end of a week long discussion that has been long on word games, criticism of rhetoric, while refusing to look at history or theological substance. Personally the Clintonesque question “that all depends on your definition of the word God?” and the obviously wrong definition of henotheism made me just call it in.

  118. Clearly, however often it is practiced, it can get pretty be pretty fruitless.

    Is there any other fruitful method of having interfaith dialogue with damnable Mormons?

  119. Whoa there, David. You’ve read an awful lot into my very brief comment. I think you have me confused with some other commenters here.

    But Gundek’s right – I came in too late without appreciating the full discussion. I was about to say the same thing to you as I said to Kullervo (re: cutting off dialogue), but I’ll refrain for this reason.

  120. The capacity to learn from and relate to the way other people relate to the universe, despite their beliefs in strange and incommensurate belief systems.

  121. “I have read similar LDS comments that OT Judaism was Henotheist but I’m not sure that I have ever heard an explanation how this relates to LDS beliefs, unless you take the Carlos position that the Bible is just flat out wrong when it contradicts Mormonism.”

    To be clear, the view that most of early Judaism (including much of the OT) has henotheistic (or, more accurately, monolatristic) tones is not an LDS idea. As mentioned above, it is the prevailing view among critical biblical scholars. This is seen in two different ways:

    1. Passages where rival deities are acknowledged, but the superiority of Yahweh is demonstrated and shown to be the only one worthy of worship.

    2. Several references to Yahweh’s divine assembly or council.

    Latter-day saints probably do not identify as much with the first way, although they do acknowledge the actual existence of Satan/Lucifer/the devil and his minions and that they have actual power. As I am sure you are aware, Latter-day Saints identify a little more with the second way (relating to the divine council).

    Btw, if we are going off of strict definitions, henotheism is the worship of one god while acknowledging that others may worship different gods _with equal validity_. Monolatrism acknowledges the existence of other gods, but that only one is considered worthy of worship. I can see where an argument could be made for Mormonism to fall under monolatrism, but not so much under henotheism.

    However, the problem I have with slapping these labels on Mormonism is not that I think its bad for Mormon PR, but because it strikes me as a very reductionist way of viewing Mormonism. Mormonism’s view of God is not only unique compared to other Christian views of God, but also compared to any other religion (including those with henotheistic or monolatristic views of deity). To me, it just seems like the purpose of slapping the label on is to show guilt by association for easy dismissal (Mormonism fits this definition of polytheism (or cult, or whatever), [False Religion X] also fits this definition, therefore Mormonism is like [False Religion X] and can be dismissed out of hand).

    There are a lot of really interesting, thought provoking, and unprecedented statements in the new article on lds.org. Wish we could have talked more about those.

  122. There are a lot of really interesting, thought provoking, and unprecedented statements in the new article on lds.org. Wish we could have talked more about those.

    No one is stopping you from bringing up these thought provoking and unprecedented statements. Why not explain them?

    To me, it just seems like the purpose of slapping the label on is to show guilt by association for easy dismissal (Mormonism fits this definition of polytheism (or cult, or whatever), [False Religion X] also fits this definition, therefore Mormonism is like [False Religion X] and can be dismissed out of hand).

    But if 1) Mormons believe in the existence of multiple gods, 2) Mormonism of the LDS/Monsonite variety is the one true church, and 3) polytheism by definition acknowledges the existence of multiple Gods then one can/should conclude:

    a) Polytheism is true
    b) Monotheism is therefore false as is any religion which supports it.
    c) Christianity, Judaism, and Islam are therefore false.

    Mormons are more than happy to assert c) (it’s even in the canon, JSH). But what makes c) true? Presumably that these other religions have the wrong idea about God and what He has revealed.

    If you go back and read the King Follet discourse, Joseph Smith says a) and b). He spends a long time talking about how other religions don’t have the correct conception of God and are a bunch of ignoramuses. What’s the correct conception of God according to King Follet? That God was once a man and that men/women can become Gods. Contra Gordon B. Hinckley, it is much more than a couplet to Joseph Smith as he spends most of that discourse talking about those two concepts.

    But the real kicker for me is that if you take away King Follet, just pretend for a minute that Joseph Smith died a few months earlier and never got a chance to give that discourse. Had it never been given, there would be no LDS concept of becoming gods. Or it would have been so muted as to be easily swept under the rug and quickly forgotten. The funny part is that the essay is only interested in defending half of the King Follet discourse, and not even the part Joseph leads with. The whole essay can be summed up as “We believe in 50% of the Lorenzo Snow couplet.” Men can become gods, but we have no idea if God was once ever a man. Even though the only source for the former clearly explains the latter as well.

    But to get back to the part I quoted. Yes, non-Mormons are saying that Mormonism is false because it promotes a wide array of false teachings. One of the beliefs is accurately described in any conversation that doesn’t involve a Mormon as “polytheist.” Whether or not the dismissal is easy is really a matter of how hard one finds it to conclude what Mormons believe.

    How else is a religion to be dismissed other than on its beliefs?

  123. The King Follet Discourse was really a master stroke. From Joseph’s point of view, it assured that Mormonism would be unique and separate from the rest of Christianity theologically. It was the completion of a paradigm shift started with the Book of Abraham. It’s why we are still talking about him.

  124. David Clark,

    Your words:

    “But the real kicker for me is that if you take away King Follet, just pretend for a minute that Joseph Smith died a few months earlier and never got a chance to give that discourse. Had it never been given, there would be no LDS concept of becoming gods. Or it would have been so muted as to be easily swept under the rug and quickly forgotten”.

    David, you have been misinformed, and you have never read Doctrine and Covenants. The King Follett discourse did never set up the doctrine of Eternal Progression, Such was never the case. The LDS doctrine of becoming gods goes back to February 16, 1832 when the prophet Joseph Smith received the revelation now called Section 76 or the revelation of the Three Degrees of Glory.

    Talking about those who will inherit the Celestial Kingdom of God, Joseph Smith wrote:

    Section 76:

    “58 Wherefore, as it is written, they are GODS, even the sons of God— (emphasis added)
    59 Wherefore, all things are theirs, whether life or death, or things present, or things to come, all are theirs and they are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.
    60 And they shall overcome all things.
    69 These are they who are just men made perfect through Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, who wrought out this perfect atonement through the shedding of his own blood.
    70 These are they whose bodies are CELESTIAL (emphasis added), whose glory is that of the sun, even the glory of God, the highest of all, whose glory the sun of the firmament is written of as being typical.

    Later, in July 12, 1843 a revelation known today as Section 132 reconfirms the doctrine that men can become GODS in the Celestial Kingdom. Let’s read parts of that section:

    Section 132
    Revelation given through Joseph Smith the Prophet, at Nauvoo, Illinois, recorded July 12, 1843, relating to the new and everlasting covenant, including the eternity of the marriage covenant and the principle of plural marriage. Although the revelation was recorded in 1843, evidence indicates that some of the principles involved in this revelation were known by the Prophet as early as 1831.

    “19 And again, verily I say unto you, if a man marry a wife by my word, which is my law, and by the new and everlasting covenant, and it is sealed unto them by the Holy Spirit of promise, by him who is anointed, unto whom I have appointed this power and the keys of this priesthood; and it shall be said unto them—Ye shall come forth in the first resurrection; and if it be after the first resurrection, in the next resurrection; and shall inherit thrones, kingdoms, principalities, and powers, dominions, all heights and depths—then shall it be written in the Lamb’s Book of Life,… …; and shall be of full force when they are out of the world; and they shall pass by the angels, and the GODS (emphasis added), which are set there, to their exaltation and glory in all things, as hath been sealed upon their heads, which glory shall be a fulness and a continuation of the seeds forever and ever.
    20 Then SHALL THEY BE GODS (emphasis added), because they have no end; therefore shall they be from everlasting to everlasting, because they continue; then shall they be above all, because all things are subject unto them. Then SHALL THEY BE GODS (emphasis added), because they have all power, and the angels are subject unto them.

    By these quotes it is fully demonstrated that the doctrine of men becoming gods was not set up by the King Follett discourse (given on April 7, 1844). So we can sweep the King Follet discourse under the rug if you want but still we will have the LDS doctrine of men becoming gods in full force because this is what the Official Mormon Canon of scriptures has always taught from the very beginning. On the other hand, the King Follett discourse is not part of the Official Mormon Canon, it was never part of the Official Mormon canon and it may never be part of the Official Mormon Canon.

  125. Jared,

    That seems a reasonable goal, of course I think it is impossible without actually engaging what people mean not just how they sound.

  126. JT,

    I would understand monolatrism to be a form of henotheism?

    If henotheism would be reductionist of LDS unique views of God, wouldn’t the same be equally true of monotheism

  127. Gundek – Yes – my point is that I think we’re getting too hung up on the monotheist vs. henotheist vs. polytheist label. By doing so, we reduce the richness of LDS (or any) theology to a label. It’s not to say that these words have no meaning or use, but when the purpose of using them is to dismiss the religion (which David and Kullervo have confirmed), then it is being used in a reductionist manner.

  128. “How else is a religion to be dismissed other than on its beliefs?”

    David, my problem is with your whole premise, which you’ve nicely summed here.

  129. Gundek – Yes – my point is that I think we’re getting too hung up on the monotheist vs. henotheist vs. polytheist label. By doing so, we reduce the richness of LDS (or any) theology to a label. It’s not to say that these words have no meaning or use, but when the purpose of using them is to dismiss the religion (which David and Kullervo have confirmed), then it is being used in a reductionist manner.

    If we call the LDS Church a “church” are we reducing the richness of their theology to a label? Is it reductionist? After all, “church” has a lot of specific connotations–after all, couldn;t you say that, at least in some respects, Mormonism’s view of ecclesiastical organization is not only unique compared to other Christian views of ecclesiastical organization, but also compared to any other religion? Are you going to argue that the purpose of slapping the label on is to show guilt by association for easy dismissal?

    (Mormonism fits this definition of polytheism (or cult, or whatever), [False Religion X] also fits this definition, therefore Mormonism is like [False Religion X] and can be dismissed out of hand).

    Mormonism definitely can be dismissed out of hand on its own merits, not because of its categorical similarities to other religions. The fact that Mormonism admits the existence of other gods isn’t a problem because Hinduism, Vodoun and Hellenismos admit the existence of other gods and those religions are bad; it’s a problem because it’s a false teaching no matter who teaches it.

    This particular concern with “guilt by association,” the connotation of labels and redefinition of words is a Mormon concern that reveals the underlying concern about PR and its effects on recruitment. You’re not really trying to preach your gospel boldly; you’re trying to make it look palatable so its easier to baptize converts.

    “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.”

  130. Kullervo – You’re missing the point. It’s not the label per se; it’s how it is being used. And you’re using it for the purpose of dismissing another faith. I find that approach toxic to any kind of productive interfaith dialogue.

    “This particular concern with “guilt by association,” the connotation of labels and redefinition of words is a Mormon concern that reveals the underlying concern about PR and its effects on recruitment.”

    You call it PR, I call it an attempt to increase understanding. You can largely blame evangelical countercult ministries and the pastors who patronize them for creating the situation where Mormons have to give broad context just so people can have an accurate understanding (and, hopefully, appreciation) of their beliefs. Using charged labels like “cult,” “polytheist,” “non-Christian,” etc.only contributes to this.

    “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.”

    Amen.

  131. You call it PR, I call it an attempt to increase understanding.

    When you claim to be x, but it turns out you mean x in a different sense from how everyone else uses it, that’s called lying. It doesn’t promote an accurate understanding. It does the opposite: it obfuscates real differences that matter.

  132. Looks like you just implicated yourself and many evangelicals as liars then. I would have called it misunderstanding because I don’t think you are doing it intentionally, but, to each his own.

  133. JT,

    It is not my intent to dismiss Mormonism on the basis of a label. And I try not to be needlessly dismissive but the counter-cult thrives because of articles like “Becoming Like God”.

    Ignore for the moment “henotheism”, “cult,” “polytheist,” “non-Christian,”.

    More telling was your fellow Shem who comes out swinging about monotheism explaining that only the Father is worthy of worship.

    The Nicene Creed describes Jesus Christ in part as “the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made” It goes on to say of the Holy Spirit is “with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified”.

    A couple of weeks ago Shawn McCraney turned the eternal Son into a manifestation for the sake of his idea of monotheism.

    I wonder how monotheism can be more important than the worship of Jesus Christ?

  134. “How else is a religion to be dismissed other than on its beliefs?”

    David, my problem is with your whole premise, which you’ve nicely summed here.

    Once again, you don’t ask what words commonly mean, you just do a quick check on how it makes you feel and go from there. Dismiss sounds so negative that anything which uses that word must be wrong!

    Let’s try a thesaurus for what an antonym for dismiss might be. Looks like a commonly used term to mean the opposite of “dismiss” is “accept.” Well, I don’t accept Mormonism, so I guess by the commonly accepted use of words in the English language, I dismiss it.

    But I have to have a reason to not accept it, which I’ll remind you means the same as dismissing it. I no longer accept Mormonism because of its beliefs, therefore I’m dismissing it because of its beliefs. But if I’m not supposed to dismiss it because of it’s beliefs (remember, dismiss means “not accept”), then on what grounds am I supposed to dismiss it (which again, means “not accept”)? On what grounds do you dismiss orthodox Christianity (remember, you don’t accept it, so that means you dismiss it)? Is it because of their beliefs?

    But whatever, more word games is what we all need. “Polytheist” means “monotheist.” “Translate” means “Put your head in a hat and talk about words in a book not currently in the room.” “Steel sword” means “macuahuitl.” “Horse” means “deer.” “Hot drinks” means “Only Tea and Coffee” or even better “Caffeinated.” “Mild barley drinks” sure can’t possibly mean “beer.”

  135. Thank you Gundek. I unfortunately can’t speak for Shem or Mr. McCraney.

    David – I’m not really sure how to respond to your comment – I don’t think you fully understood my point. It has nothing to do with the word dismiss or its connotations. It’s about what I see as your purpose (and Kullervo’s purpose, and perhaps the purpose of others) in commenting: to dismiss/not-accept/prove-false (or whatever word you want to use) Mormonism. Maybe I’m just coming in with the wrong set of expectations – I was thinking this was more of a place for evangelicals and Mormons to share ideas, promote understanding, identify legitimate differences in good faith, etc. To the extent I am coming in here with a wrong-headed approach, I apologize.

  136. I was thinking this was more of a place for evangelicals and Mormons to share ideas, promote understanding, identify legitimate differences in good faith, etc. To the extent I am coming in here with a wrong-headed approach, I apologize.

    You’re correct about the general idea, but there are times when people on both sides feel the other is not operating in “good faith”. This understandably causes conflict and frustration but with grace, patience and perseverance we can get to the heart of the issues.

  137. I was thinking this was more of a place for evangelicals and Mormons to share ideas, promote understanding, identify legitimate differences in good faith, etc.

    You can still share your ideas about what is great and new in the essay.

  138. JT,

    I understand your reticence to comment about Shem or Mr. McCraney. I hope that you understand that both Mr. McCraney reformulation of the nature of Christ and Shem’s denial of worship to Christ are a basic failure of the Biblical command to confess Jesus is Lord.

    As I understand it, any theological system that truncates the Lordship of Christ as Shem or Mr. McCraney have done falls outside of historic Christianity, even if this is done with the intention of promoting monotheism.

  139. Thanks Gundek. I’ll offer here my understanding of the LDS view (and perhaps the cause for some of this confusion), as well my personal thoughts. This is a bit lengthy, for which I apologize ahead of time.

    With regard to LDS worship as it relates to Jesus, the document “The Living Christ” (signed by all members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve in 2000 – probably about as authoritative as one can get) states the following:

    “Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have always worshipped God the Eternal Father in the name of Jesus Christ.”

    It then states in regard to Jesus’ millennial reign following his second coming:

    “He will rule as King of Kings and reign as Lord of Lords, and every knee shall bend and every tongue shall speak in worship before Him.”

    Gordon B. Hinckley said of Jesus: “He is the central focus of our worship. He is the Son of the living God, the Firstborn of the Father, the Only Begotten in the flesh.” (First Presidency Message in Ensign, March 2008).

    I think most of the confusion stems from a BYU devotional address given in March 1982 by Bruce R. McConkie, titled “Our Relationship with the Lord,” in which he states:

    “1. We worship the Father and him only and no one else.

    “We do not worship the Son, and we do not worship the Holy Ghost. I know perfectly well what the scriptures say about worshipping Christ and Jehovah, but they are speaking in an entirely different sense—the sense of standing in awe and being reverentially grateful to him who has redeemed us. Worship in the true and saving sense is reserved for God the first, the Creator.”

    Elder McConkie, of course, was responding to a movement that was picking up among some in the church at the time that involved developing a “special” relationship with Jesus to the point of discontinuing prayer to the Father in favor of prayer directly to Jesus. As Elder McConkie saw it, they were forgoing a relationship with the Father in favor of a relationship with the Son. His primary message seemed to be that ultimate worship is of the Father. (I personally think he went a little too far in the other direction. /begin tangent that will label me/ That said, unlike most Mormons who participate online, I have a deep respect for Elder McConkie, someone my grandparents were very close to. Anyone who doubts Elder McConkie’s love, adoration, and reverence for Jesus should pick up his Messiah series sometime and have a read. I think his contributions in the LDS church are incredibly under-appreciated – outside of church headquarters, anyway – and that his mistakes have received more than enough criticism over the years – mostly from people who haven’t read his works beyond the typical controversial subjects. /end tangent/)

    One of the new Gospel Topics articles, “Are Mormons Christian,” puts it this way:

    “Latter-day Saints believe that God is omnipotent, omniscient, and all-loving, and they pray to Him in the name of Jesus Christ. They acknowledge the Father as the _ultimate_ object of their worship, the Son as Lord and Redeemer, and the Holy Spirit as the messenger and revealer of the Father and the Son. In short, Latter-day Saints do not accept the post-New-Testament creeds yet rely deeply on each member of the Godhead in their daily religious devotion and worship . . . .” (emphasis added).

    In sum, as a believing Latter-day Saint, I would put it this way: I worship God. I believe that the Godhead is comprised of three separate but unified beings: God the Father, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. Personally, I don’t really worship any of them independent of the others. My personal prayers are directed to the Father in the name His Son with guidance from His Holy Spirit. If one had to be singled out as the ultimate object of my worship, it would be the Father. When I see Jesus, will I bow in adoration, confess his name, and declare him Messiah, Lord, Redeemer, and Savior? Absolutely.

  140. Elder McConkie, of course, was responding to a movement that was picking up among some in the church at the time that involved developing a “special” relationship with Jesus to the point of discontinuing prayer to the Father in favor of prayer directly to Jesus.

    I am intensely skeptical that this is true. What movement? Where else was this “movement” discussed or addressed? How many Mormons who were living then can remember this “movement?” If there was a movement within Mormonism towards praying to Jesus only, why was it addressed at a BYU devotional and not at General Conference. I call your bluff.

  141. Kullervo – I really am bewildered by your hostility. A good place to start would be the actual devotional address itself, where it is laid out. Elder McConkie doesn’t say how big or pervasive this practice was, but there were apparently enough people doing it that he identified it and addressed it directly.

  142. Even if that’s the case, you are suggesting that he was countering one heresy with another. Which isn’t a very good apologetic on his behalf. “Sure he was teaching false doctrine, but that’s because he was overcorrecting the opposite false doctrine.”

    Although, that’s basically how I’ve always heard Mormons “explain” Paul.

  143. JT,

    I used to respect Bruce McConkie as high as many other latter-day saints at that time, but what he did in that devotional was totally unacceptable, I am not talking about his message but the circumstances around it.

    Elder McConkie abused and misused his position as a General Authority member of the Twelve to publicly humiliate Brother Pace without any previous word of warning. Brother Pace, who was present at that devotional, was amazingly humble enough to swallow that public humiliation and never left the Church but remained a faithful member of the Church.

    I don’t think Elder McConkie’s best interest was to correct a supposed false doctrine. I think Elder Mc.Conkie just couldn’t tolerate that a simple BYU religious professor was having so much success and popularity than any other leader of the church at that time, including the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve. This is obviously my own personal opinion.

    If Brother Pace was teaching false doctrine a personal interview with him from one of the General Authorities was all what was needed to do to fix the problem. I am sure Brother Pace would have received that interview in the best spirit of brotherhood, complied and fix his teaching by himself without “any help” from Elder McConkie.

    Also, if someone had a say to correct Brother Pace was the President of the Church, the living prophet who is the one who has the prerogative to set up doctrine for the Church, not Elder McConkie. I respected and sustained Elder McConkie as a member of the Twelve while he was alive and I still believe he was a true apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, but like any of us, he was just another mortal man with weaknesses and imprudence and his apostolic mantle did not prevent him to make such a mistreatment to a faithful brother like Brother Pace.

  144. If Brother Pace was teaching false doctrine a personal interview with him from one of the General Authorities was all what was needed to do to fix the problem.

    Because that’s what they did in the New Testament, before the Great Apostasy, right?

    Also, if someone had a say to correct Brother Pace was the President of the Church, the living prophet who is the one who has the prerogative to set up doctrine for the Church, not Elder McConkie.

    Agreed. For a good example of this, look in the New Testament at the Epistle of Peter to the Galatians.

  145. Also, if someone had a say to correct Brother Pace was the President of the Church, the living prophet who is the one who has the prerogative to set up doctrine for the Church, not Elder McConkie.

    Wait! Wait. Wait a minute. Hang on.

    I thought that the only official doctrine for the Church was the Mormon Official Canon, as adopted by the general membership.

    Now you’re telling me that it’s really “the living prophet who is the one who has the prerogative to set up doctrine for the Church?”

    Why, that would mean that things like the King Follett Discourse and all of those teachings of the Presidents of the Church since Joseph Smith that are not found in the “Mormon Official Canon” (Heavenly Mother! Blood Atonement! People on the sun! Polygamy forever! Many Heavenly Mothers! The curse of Cain! No curse of Cain! Adam is God! No he isn’t! Heavenly Father has a heavenly father!) are doctrine for the Church after all!

  146. Kullervo,
    The fact that the living prophet has the prerogative to set up official doctrine for the Church does not mean that every word the living prophet says is official doctrine for the Church.

    For instance, the King Follett Discourse: at the beginning of that discourse the Prophet Joseph Smith said in his own words that he was going to share his ideas. The King Follett Discourse was never part of the Official Canon of the Church.

    The living prophet can pronounce official doctrine for the Church but still such doctrine is not part of the Official Canon until is voted and approved by the general membership in a general conference. It is the prophet or under his direction that the new doctrine has to be proposed to the general membership. After this procedure is completed, the new doctrine or the new revelation is included in the written Official Canon of Scriptures and binding to every member of the Church.

    Kullervo, none of the examples you mentioned was ever proposed by the living prophets to be part of the Official Canon of Scriptures.

  147. It is the prophet or under his direction that the new doctrine has to be proposed to the general membership. After this procedure is completed, the new doctrine or the new revelation is included in the written Official Canon of Scriptures and binding to every member of the Church.

    Because that’s what they did in the New Testament, before the Great Apostasy, right?

  148. Kullervo, I don’t recall any passage in the New Testament where the church had general conferences. The meeting in Jerusalem to accept the new doctrine of the preaching of the gospel to the gentiles, was not necessarily a general conference, but I assume the main leaders of the church at that time were present when Peter introduced the new doctrine. I need to re read that part to give a better answer to your question.

  149. The living prophet can pronounce official doctrine for the Church but still such doctrine is not part of the Official Canon until is voted and approved by the general membership in a general conference. It is the prophet or under his direction that the new doctrine has to be proposed to the general membership. After this procedure is completed, the new doctrine or the new revelation is included in the written Official Canon of Scriptures and binding to every member of the Church.

    Please cite from the canon where this is the approved procedure to amend the canon.

    Also, is the content of the temple endowment official doctrine or is it just some nice ideas?

    Please cite the vote wherein the Lectures on Faith were officially removed from the canon by official vote during LDS general conference.

  150. (In reference to your last reply to my comment, which seemed to be arguing a point that I wasn’t making.)

  151. (In reference to your last reply to my comment, which seemed to be arguing a point that I wasn’t making.)

    Ok then let me connect the dots for you. It’s not hard. You said the following:

    Elder McConkie, of course, was responding to a movement that was picking up among some in the church at the time that involved developing a “special” relationship with Jesus to the point of discontinuing prayer to the Father in favor of prayer directly to Jesus. As Elder McConkie saw it, they were forgoing a relationship with the Father in favor of a relationship with the Son. His primary message seemed to be that ultimate worship is of the Father. (I personally think he went a little too far in the other direction. [tangent snipped])

    Your expanation for McConkie’s statements about whom we worship are that he was addressing a false teaching. Then you turn around and say he went too far in the other direction. In my experience, that’s a really common Mormon category of explanation for statements that they can’t really reconcile with their theology. “He didn’t really mean that like it sounds; you have to understand the context, which is that he was correcting a false teaching.”

    In particular, I have seen Mormons use explanations like that to explain away the thigns that Paul taught about salvation by grace.

  152. Right – he was responding to something he thought was an incorrect teaching, and I thought he over-corrected. Not sure why you are making such a fuss and projecting generalizations about Mormon stupidity.

  153. Not sure why you are making such a fuss and projecting generalizations about Mormon stupidity.

    Because your response is, in my experience, characteristic. And it’s not only bad on its face, even assuming Mormonism is true (again, countering heresy with the opposite heresy makes no sense), but it is also frequently used by Mormons to misread God’s word.

  154. Kullervo, give me a break. I don’t see eye to eye with Carlos on everything, but your tone has been very condescending throughout this thread.

  155. A confrontational tone is hardly the same thing as resorting to insults because one has run out of interesting things to say.

  156. That, and I feel like I am having a conversation with a brick wall. One that spits back random “Mormons-always-do-this-isms” that are, at best, tangentially related to the substance of my comments.

  157. JT,

    Historically prayer in the name of the Son or through the Son is most common but the instances of direct prayer and worship of the Son in the New Testament and early Church abound. This is what I mean when I say the Rule of Faith preceded the creeds.

    Even without bringing McConkie into the picture, I think the confusion comes in when one document contains the distinction that the LDS “always worshiped God the Eternal Father in the name of Jesus Christ”, and then the other “He [Jesus] is the central focus of our worship…”

    There seems to be an implied patriarchy (greater to lesser) in the LDS presentation of the godhead or at least a subordination built into the godhead whereas in orthodoxy the Son is fully God because He is eternally begotten of the Father and the Spirit is God because He proceeds from the Father [and the Son].

    It could just be my unfamiliarity with LDS terminology but this all seems to be a more speculative concept of the divinity.

  158. Once, JT. Once. I did that once. That hardly makes me a brick wall that randomly spits out “Mormons-always-do-this-isms.”

    And I really don’t think “you have just used a typical BS apologetic used by Mormons to justify their theological inconsistencies to justify a theological inconsistency, and I noticed” is tangental to any discussion on this blog.

  159. A BS apologetic that I never made – it was a straw man you created. There was no defense I was trying to make with that.

    And, btw, you have done it more than once.

  160. Hitting the topic of deification and worship Gregory says about the Holy Spirit…

    “For if He is not to be worshipped, how can He deify me by Baptism? but if He is to be worshipped, surely He is an Object of adoration, and if an Object of adoration He must be God; the one is linked to the other, a truly golden and saving chain. And indeed from the Spirit comes our New Birth, and from the New Birth our new creation, and from the new creation our deeper knowledge of the dignity of Him from Whom it is derived.”

  161. Kullervo,

    I stated: “Elder McConkie, of course, was responding to a movement that was picking up among some in the church at the time that involved developing a “special” relationship with Jesus to the point of discontinuing prayer to the Father in favor of prayer directly to Jesus. As Elder McConkie saw it, they were forgoing a relationship with the Father in favor of a relationship with the Son. His primary message seemed to be that ultimate worship is of the Father. (I personally think he went a little too far in the other direction. . . .)”

    To which you responded: “Even if that’s the case, you are suggesting that he was countering one heresy with another. Which isn’t a very good apologetic on his behalf.”

    There was no part of “I personally think he went a little too far in the other direction” that was meant to be a defense of Elder McConkie or his devotional address. It was simply my reaction to it.

  162. Kullervo

    First, I have never once said that the LDS religion is Monotheistic. Others might have, but I have not. You will also not find any such statement on lds.org.
    Second, I very clearly stated that in my opinion I don’t think any of these labels are very accurate when it comes to the LDS faith.

    What I said, or the point I tried to make, is that without explaining the actually doctrines the use of any of these labels is going to cause misunderstandings as to what the doctrine actually teaches.
    These words have definite, official definitions; but they also have cultural connotations, and that is the area that causes confusion. You want to call us polytheistic, but for most people that conjures pictures of worshiping multiple gods, each over a different sphere or honor of influence in the world. So to say we are polytheistic and leave it at that is misleading; not because the technical definition is wrong, but because the cultural connotations do not reflect the truth of the doctrine.

    Gundeck

    I have never denied the Lordship of Christ. He is the Lord of the Earth, the God of the Old Testament, and He will reign in Heaven and Earth. I don’t deny any of this. Yes, I believe the Father is greater, because that is what Christ taught. (John 14:28 “Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I.”) That does not make Christ any less God.
    The three members of the Godhead are all God, the three making one, and it is that one that I worship, and that all the prophets have worshiped and taught us to worship.

  163. Shem,

    From the LDS view of lordship I am sure you never have denied Christ’s lordship.

    You will excuse me if I think this falls far short of the confession required in the Bible.

  164. Kullervo,

    Understanding that the Mormon godhead is comprised of three distinct beings, unified in purpose and doctrine, I am not even sure how Shem defines “one”.

    Looking at John 14:28 and other such passages we could move beyond simply quoting a passage without explanation and actually show the hermeneutics used to explain a passage. John Behr says that coming out of the Nicene era is a hermeneutic of the two natures of Christ and relationship of origination in the essence of God (begotten and proceeding).

    My favorite example of this comes from Gregory of Nazianzus in his Third Theological Oration on the Son. In Section XIX he begins a climax of the oration by saying…

    “For He Whom you now treat with contempt was once above you. He Who is now Man was once the Uncompounded. What He was He continued to be; what He was not He took to Himself. In the beginning He was, uncaused; for what is the Cause of God? But afterwards for a cause He was born. And that cause was that you might be saved, who insult Him and despise His Godhead, because of this, that He took upon Him your denser nature, having converse with Flesh by means of Mind. While His inferior Nature, the Humanity, became God, because it was united to God, and became One Person because the Higher Nature prevailed in order that I too might be made God so far as He is made Man. He was born—but He had been begotten: He was born of a woman—but she was a Virgin. The first is human, the second Divine.”

    Building off of this confrontation Gregory pays out a quick succession of Human and divine actions of Jesus Christ. Starting with the incarnation, ” He was born—but He had been begotten: He was born of a woman—but she was a Virgin. The first is human, the second Divine.” He continues in a rapid fire, “He was baptized as Man—but He remitted sins as God”, “He is stoned, but is not taken. He prays, but He hears prayer. He weeps, but He causes tears to cease. He asks where Lazarus was laid, for He was Man; but He raises Lazarus, for He was God.”

    When i first read Gregory’s Oration I thought of Dr. Lockridge’s Sermon That’s My King.

  165. Gundeck

    After reading the quotes you give I find it all very confusing. Of course, it is no more confusing than the idea of the Trinity as one being yet three, all the same substance.

    You want to know how I define ‘one’ so here is the definition.
    “being or amounting to a single unit or individual or entire thing, item, or object rather than two or more; a single” (as giving at http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/one?s=t)

    I worship one God, and that God is the Godhead; it is a single unit of authority in Heaven, comprised of three individual beings. As they are all part of the unit of the Godhead they are all referred to as God just as all members of a presidency are referred to as president. The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are literally one God, and yet they are three very distinct beings, each with their own body and substance. They are the Godhead, the One God of Heaven and Earth.

  166. That’s pretty close to a definition of the Trinity. What do you do with Heavenly Mother? Or other exalted beings?

  167. Shem,

    You will excuse me if I think your definition of one single unit of authority composed of many beings falls far short of the definition required in the Bible.

  168. That’s pretty close to a definition of the Trinity.

    No way, because he has re-defined “God” to mean a group of three ontologically distinct beings, like “committee.” That’s just tritheism but naming it the Trinity.

  169. So if I believe in all the Hellenic gods (Zeus, Poseidon &c), and believe that they are all fully ontologically distinct beings, but then I personally choose to define “God” to mean “all the theoi that exist, collectively and in the aggregate,” I am apparently a monotheist.

  170. Kullervo

    Again with your hype about labeling. When did I ever say I believed in monotheism in this thread? When did I ever claim this. I haven’t, and you know it. So to continue this argument is pointless.
    Of course, it is also hypocritical as you, yourself have chosen to modify the definition to suit your own beliefs. You stated “It’s about whether God is unique in kind or not.” However, that is not what monotheism is. That is what your definition of God is, and because you want to make monotheism as exclusive to you as you can you have superimposed that definition onto the term Monotheism.
    Monotheism is the belief in only one God. That is it. The term ‘only one’ does not demand a uniqueness in kind; only a uniqueness. To believe in and worship one unique being, regardless of what makes them unique, is Monotheism. That is all the definition of the term requires. To claim anything else is to alter the meaning of word, which you have done.

    Gundeck

    I personally don’t care what opinion you have. We see the Bible very differently, and that is not likely to change any time soon. What I have stated is what I see in the Bible. If you see something different, good for you.

    Tim

    I know the two are very similar, which is a point that I have long made on various blogs. The Godhead and the Trinity are almost identical doctrines, and anyone who denies this fact simply does not understand one or the other or both. There is a very important difference, which you have pointed out, but it is the only real difference between the two.

  171. Shem.

    I don’t know if you care or not, but I do know that the Trinity and the Mormon godhead are not any way similar, except in spelling, and anyone who denies this fact simply does not understand one or the other.

    The recent trend in commenting is to point out the everybody is entitled to their own opinion, and I hate to disturb this irenic trend, but the God is never described “as one being yet three, all the same substance.” This creates the question one being yet three what? A Trinitarian would say “one being yet three persons” because the tri-personality of God is revealed in the Bible. A Trinitarian would also never describe the unity of God as a unit of authority, because the unity and authority of God is inherent in His essence.

  172. Gundeck

    If you think I was quoting anyone I am sorry, but the basic idea I gave is how most people have tried to explain the Trinity to me.

    From the website Desire God (http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/what-is-the-doctrine-of-the-trinity)
    “God is one in essence and three in person.” (note: essence and substance are synonyms)
    The Catholic Encyclopedia speaks of “The Divinity of the Three Persons” and the “unity of essence” (http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/15047a.htm).
    So don’t tell me is has never been described that way, because it most certainly has.

    And just note that saying that they are one being but three persons doesn’t make any more sense.

  173. Shem,

    If someone has explained the Trinity to you as “one being yet three, all the same substance” I can understand your confusion. The Trinity does have the advantage of doing justice to the Biblical revelations that there is One God, that the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit are God without the need to do violence to the definitions of the words “one” or “God”. Hope that helps.

  174. The same can be said of Godhead, with the added advantage that it makes logical sense.

    Really? Because in the Godhead, “One” means “Actually, three.”

  175. Makes logical sense how Shem?

    How does it make logical sense out of First Commandment? How does it make sense of the Old and New Testament confession that God is one? How does it make sense of God not being a man? How does it make logical sense out of the worship and liturgical practices of first century Church? Of first importance how does it, according to the scriptures, make logical sense out of the cross and the once for all, work of God, that according to the scriptures the Lord has laid on the Lord the iniquity of us all?

    Logically speaking how does the fullness of the unit of authority dwell bodily? I mean really, tell me how I am to make logical sense out of the claim that the godhead is a unit of authority? How do we logically make sense out of baptism in the name of a unit of authority? Or better yet tell me how one goes about loving a unit of authority with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength?

  176. Kullervo

    One means one, and it always has. The definition has not changed and applies perfectly to the Godhead. When we say one God we do not mean three, we mean one.

    Gundeck

    “Thou shalt have ano other bgods before me.”
    Please explain how the doctrine of the Godhead puts any gods before God (who is the Godhead).
    Doctrine and Covenants 20: 28 “Which Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are one God, infinite and eternal, without end. Amen.”
    Tell me how this contradicts the Bible.
    Where does it say that God is not a man? I read where it says he is not like mortal men, but no where have I read where it says he is not a man.
    As to the first century, unless it is stated or demonstrated in the Bible it has no bearing on what I said. You mentioned only Biblical revelations, not anything else, so please keep it focused.
    As to “the cross and the once for all, work of God, that according to the scriptures the Lord has laid on the Lord the iniquity of us all?” the Godhead squares more perfectly with this than the Trinity, for the simple fact that the Trinity has one being laying this on himself, while the Godhead teaches that the Lord (Father) laid this work on the Lord (Christ).

    As to the rest of what you said, you are attempting to twist my words into something they don’t mean. The One God of Heaven and Earth is the Godhead, as is shown in D&C 20 given above. But that God is not an impersonal entity like a faceless corporation. These seem very much akin to saying there is no logical sense in referring to your mother and father as parents.
    In Jesus the fullness of the Godhead dwells bodily because all knowledge, power, and authority of the Godhead is held by Christ and thus its fullness was in Him, and he was in bodily form. How does that not make sense?
    As to baptism, what you claim would mean that performing any action in the name of an organization makes no sense. So no one can do anything in the name of a company; ambassadors can’t act in the name of their country; etc.
    As to loving God, it makes just as much sense as a person saying they love the company they work for, or that they love their country.
    These things are perfectly logical.

  177. Shem,

    Is D&C 20 talking about the godhead that you worship, a unit of authority, or some other Eternal God of all other god before this world was, or the Gods that, organized and formed the heavens and the earth, or the two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description.

    You’ll have to excuse me there is just so many I cannot keep track.

  178. Gundeck

    Now you are twisting the words of our scriptures and it seems more for the purpose of mocking it than actually discussing it.
    Everything you list is referencing the same beings (the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost) and you know it. They are simply different ways of describing Them.

    D&C 20 17-19 is talking of the Father and His role in the eternities; 20-25 is talking about the Son and His role; 26-27 speak of the Holy Ghost and His role; 28 declares their unity as the governing presidency in Heaven.

  179. If everything is in reference to the same beings (note the plural) how does one mean one? Or am I to understand that when you refer to one god it is only the one governing presidency in heaven?

  180. Gundeck

    I already answered that so you are now trying to turn in circles to confuse the conversation.
    I refer you to my post on March 13, 2014 at 3:29 pm. In that post I gave the following

    “being or amounting to a single unit or individual or entire thing, item, or object rather than two or more; a single” (as giving at http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/one?s=t)

    So, now it is your turn to explain how the Godhead is not a single unit or an entire thing.

  181. Godhead is an archaic English word first recorded in the 13th century Ancrene Riwle a monastic text for anchorite sisters, and used to refer to the divine nature or being. In Christianity there is only 1 divine nature.

    “Godhead” is only used in the KJV 3 times Acts 17:29 (θεῖον/theion/divine); Rom 1:20 (θειότης/theiotēs/ divine nature); and Col. 2:9 (θεότης/theotēs/deity). In none of these passages can “Godhead” be understood to mean a single heavenly council composed of three beings. It just doesn’t work contextually or grammatically.

    I am unaware of a passage or theme in the Old or New Testament where God is described as anything but wholly and in every respect unique by nature not simply unique in power and authority or membership in a heavenly council.

    God’s attributes are described in the Bible as eternal and intrinsic to his divine nature. God is love. It is natural, essential, and unchangeable that God is love because it is the immutable nature of the Godhead. God is holy, It is natural, essential, and unchangeable that God is holy because it is the immutable nature of the Godhead. God is Perfect, It is natural, essential, and unchangeable that God is perfect because it is the immutable nature of the Godhead. The list could go on.

    This one divine one perfect, one Love, one holy one being, the entire divinity, of the same divine essence and the same divine nature belongs completely, ineffably, without subordination to each person the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit.

  182. Gundeck

    At least you are no longer trying to go in circles anymore.

    You say the following.
    “God’s attributes are described in the Bible as eternal and intrinsic to his divine nature. God is love. It is natural, essential, and unchangeable that God is love because it is the immutable nature of the Godhead. God is holy, It is natural, essential, and unchangeable that God is holy because it is the immutable nature of the Godhead. God is Perfect, It is natural, essential, and unchangeable that God is perfect because it is the immutable nature of the Godhead. The list could go on.
    This one divine one perfect, one Love, one holy one being, the entire divinity, of the same divine essence and the same divine nature belongs completely, ineffably, without subordination to each person the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit.”

    On every point here I agree as does LDS doctrine. It is what you state before this that I disagree with.
    I am familiar with every verse in the KJV that uses the term and they are all perfectly consistent with LDS doctrine, both contextually and grammatically. I am also familiar with the rest of the Bible and it is full of references to us being the children or offspring of God, and heirs of His glory. These verses show that we share a divine nature. I know of no passage in the Bible that requires a uniqueness of nature.

  183. You will have to excuse me, it is not very often people argue for the ordinariness of God. Where does the Bible say you are child of God by divine nature?

    Just so I can make sure I understand your position. In Mormonism there are many divine beings, but one God. This one God is composed of three divine beings that make up the single unit of the godhead. The godhead is functionally one heavenly council whose unity is understood to be a unity of purpose. In this united godhead the father is greater, the son is lesser and the holy spirit is lesser to the father (if not lesser to the son as well). If I am incorrect or misrepresenting your theology let me know.

    I understand that there are certain interpretive assumptions that Mormons bring to the Bible. What is not debatable is the translation of godhead in the King James or the original Greek language. You can thank John Wycliffe and William Tyndale for their services. Don’t take my word for it there are plenty resources online for free.

  184. Gundek,

    In Mormonism there are Three Gods: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost, it is about simple math: 1 + 1 + 1 = 3 . Three Gods and as you said, the Father is greater than the other two and the Son is greater than the Holy Ghost. And you are right when you say we believe they are ONE in purpose.

    This is polytheism at its best, and good doctrine, and make sense and it is true. That is why the Genesis 1:26 says “Let us make man…” because the Gods were conversing about their purpose of creating man on earth.

  185. Thank you Carlos,

    Your explanation of Mormonism makes more sense that a heavenly presidency Shematwater teaches. I was not sure if his posts were consistent with the official doctrine and in accordance with the brethren. Now we know.

  186. Carlos, then why do 2 Nephi 31:21, Alma 11:4, Mormon 7:7 and D&C 20:28 all say that Father, Son and Hoy Ghost are one God? That sounds an awful lot like 1+1+1=1.

  187. Kullervo,

    You are right, it sounds awful, but when you know that that unity is only in purpose, you don’t take those words verbatim, you take the meaning of unity in purpose, not a material unity. We know very well that God the Father has a physical, perfected, exalted, glorious and celestial body of flesh and bones, so the Son. The Holy Ghost is a different person without a physical body. So, strictly speaking 2 Nephi 31:21, Alma 11:4, Mormon 7:7 and D&C 20: 28 are wrong if we are going to understand those statements literally.

    Also, take note since we do not believe the canon is perfect, but it can be corrected, we could easily go to those verses and officially make the changes, without any problem, but we don’t do it. Why? Because we understand very well the nature of God, we don’t think we need to fix those verses. We already know that that unity is in purpose, not a material unity.

    Also in Mormon theology the words have different meanings or definitions, not just one, for instance, the word “angel’ has at least seven different definitions in Mormon theology, so when we talk Mormon doctrines among Mormons we make sure we all agree in the definition for the word being discussed before continuing the discussion.

  188. Carlos,

    Actually, with the Book of Mormon you don’t know that God the Father has a physical body since Alma 18:28 states:

    And Ammon said: This is God. And Ammon said unto him again: Believest thou that this Great Spirit, who is God, created all things which are in heaven and in the earth?

    God is a spirit according to Alma. Why? Because at this time Joseph Smith thought God was a Spriti. I might also add that since this is B.C., then all three persons of the Trinity remain unincarnated. Since the Book of Mormon is modalist with Trinitarian leanings, this passage makes perfect sense.

    My point is that since the Book of Mormon doesn’t support your claim that God the Father has a body, it also doesn’t support your claim that there are three beings. Mormon doctrine has developed over time and this one is no exception. The passages cited make the most sense when taken at face value, i.e. they actually mean what they say.

    And for the record, I know I’m entitled to my own opinion.

  189. This kind of thing always feels like a trap for Mormons only because they forget about “continuing revelation”. There’s no problem if current teaching contradicts the Book of Mormon.

  190. David

    Ammon said what he did because Christ was not yet born and was still a spirit. This is where the Lamanites got the idea of the Great Spirit from. Christ is the God of the Old Testament, and thus is also the God of the Book of Mormon, and at this time was a spirit.
    People who try to use this verse always seem to ignore verse 39, in which it states that Ammon “expounded unto them the plan of redemption, which was prepared from the foundation of the world; and he also made known unto them concerning the coming of Christ, and all the works of the Lord did he make known unto them.”
    Ammon started with something that the King was familiar with, and then built on that and taught him all things, which would have included the physical nature of the Father.

    Gundeck

    What I have explained here is in perfect alignment with what the leaders have taught from the beginning. This is the Godhead, and there is nothing in anything from any of the leaders to contradict it. Yes, there are three Gods that make up the Godhead, but they are given this title because they are in the Godhead.

    Now, what you say is correct in so far as it goes, but it does not deal with the fullness of the doctrine, and I have not done so either.
    However, I would point out that I have never once argued for the ordinariness of God. I have simply stated that he is like us. Do you think that a math genius is ordinary because he still uses the same mathematical principles we do? Or do you consider those of great strength or agility ordinary because their bodies are comprised of the same material as ours. I know I don’t. God is extraordinary, not because he is so wholly different from us, but because He is everything we are in its most perfect form.

  191. Shem and Carlos,

    Ok, just so I can get this straight, lets try for an explanation that both Shematwater and Carlos can agree with.

    In Mormonism there are many divine beings, but one godhead. This one godhead is composed of three divine beings making up a single unit. The godhead is functionally one heavenly council whose unity is understood to be a unity of purpose. In this united godhead the father is greater, the son is subordinate and the holy ghost is subordinate to the father (if not subordinate to the son as well). The term big “G” God is actually a title that is only granted to the members of the godhead. When Mormons uses the term “the one God” they are using this as a synonym for godhead and they mean the three divine beings that make up the godhead taken as a whole. If I am incorrect or misrepresenting your theology in any way let me know.

  192. David Clark,

    Your words:

    “My point is that since the Book of Mormon doesn’t support your claim that God the Father has a body, it also doesn’t support your claim that there are three beings. Mormon doctrine has developed over time and this one is no exception. The passages cited make the most sense when taken at face value, i.e. they actually mean what they say. And for the record, I know I’m entitled to my own opinion.”

    Yes, you are entitled to your own opinion, but at this time I would say you are entitled to your own personal interpretation of the Book of Mormon. Having said that, let’s discuss this a little bit more:

    As far as I remember from the many times I have read and studied the Book of Mormon, I do not recall any passage that supports the fact that God the Father has a physical body. Therefore you personal interpretation on this may be right. But not necessarily your other claim that the Book of Mormon “doesn’t support your claim that there are three beings”.

    Let’s see:

    According to 1 Nephi chapter 11, Nephi conversed with the Holy Ghost in person. Nephi reported that the Holy Ghost was a person, an individual spirit, a personal entity. This is what Nephi reported about the Holy Ghost:

    11 And I said unto him: To know the interpretation thereof—for I spake unto him as a man speaketh; for I beheld that he was in the form of a man; yet nevertheless, I knew that it was the Spirit of the Lord; and he spake unto me as a man speaketh with another.

    Up to this point we count 1 person.

    Also in Ether Chapter 3, the brother of Jared conversed and saw with his own eyes the Lord Jesus Christ who at that time was a spirit because that happened in Old Testament times and that spirit was not the Holy Ghost.

    Ether 3:16 “Behold, this body, which ye now behold, is the body of my spirit; and man have I created after the body of my spirit; and even as I appear unto thee to be in the spirit will I appear unto my people in the flesh.”

    Up to this point, we count 2 different persons.

    Finally, in 3 Nephi, the same resurrected Lord Jesus prayed to his Father in Heaven, meaning that they were two different persons. This is part of Jesus prayer as reported in 3 Nephi 19: 20

    “Father, I thank thee that thou hast given the Holy Ghost unto these whom I have chosen; and it is because of their belief in me that I have chosen them out of the world.”

    We see three different persons in here: The Father in Heaven, The Son on earth and the Holy Ghost sent to earth to those who Jesus chose.

    Do I need to say more?

  193. Gundek,

    Your words:

    “The term big “G” God is actually a title that is only granted to the members of the godhead. When Mormons uses the term “the one God” they are using this as a synonym for godhead and they mean the three divine beings that make up the godhead taken as a whole. If I am incorrect or misrepresenting your theology in any way let me know.”

    The term “God” is not only a title, it is a condition and a nature. To become God man must be exalted, perfected, become celestial. Mortal nature must be turned into Immortal and celestial nature. Sinful nature must be changed to pious and holy nature; imperfect nature must be turned to perfect nature. It is not only about knowledge, like when you go to school and earn a Ph.D. title. The term God encompasses a lot more than just a title.

    Now the term “the one God” may be used as a synonym for the godhead, when “One” means purpose, but not necessarily. The term “the one God” may be apply to the Great Jehovah of the Old Testament who we believe was the Son in his pre-mortal existence. He was “the one God of Israel” and in Mormon theology this title is perfectly fine since man was destitute from the presence of the Father (Elohim) since the fall of Adam.

    The only God left to deal with man was Jehovah or the Son, the only mediator between the Father (Elohim) and man, since there are no other name by man can be saved but by the name of the Son. the Great Jehovah became by mortal birth Jesus and he is the only Savior and Redeemer and the only God who will save us and take us to the presence of God the Father.

    If you have a question, just please ask.

  194. If to be a god the mortal nature must be exalted, perfected, and turned immortal and celestial how is the son a god before having a mortal nature? How do you understand the holy ghost and the process of a Mortal nature being turned into Immortal and celestial nature?

  195. Gundek,

    Very good question, thanks for asking. This is coming deep down to Mormon theology and here is where we need to define terms better, to clarify statements, to better understand Mormon theology.

    This is what I said:

    “The term “God” is not only a title, it is a condition and a nature. To become God, man must be exalted, perfected, become celestial. Mortal nature must be turned into Immortal and celestial nature. Sinful nature must be changed to pious and holy nature; imperfect nature must be turned to perfect nature.”

    When I said this, I had in mind only God the Father, his condition and nature. However, according to Mormon theology, there is more than one kind of God: the corporeal Gods and an example of this is God the Father; and the incorporeal Gods, example of this is the Holy Ghost.

    There is obviously a different between these two kinds of Gods.
    And in that difference the corporeal ones are higher in status than the incorporeal ones, This is congruent with the fact that the God the Father (Elohim) is higher in status than Jehovah and the Holy Ghost, and when I say Jehovah, I mean the Lord Jesus Christ before obtaining a physical body by his birth on earth.

    The obtaining a physical body is of fundamental importance in Mormon theology; In fact the whole Mormon Plan of Salvation is based on the principle that God the Father has a physical body and only makes sense if God the Father has one. Take that doctrine away from the Mormon Plan of Salvation and this latter will collapse immediately. That is why our Mormon missionaries teach that principle in their first or second lessons.

    There are several passages in the bible that clearly state that Jesus was God even before he was born. I will quote just two:

    John 1:1-4, 14-15:

    “1. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
    2. The same was in the beginning with God.
    3. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
    4. In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
    14. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
    15. John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me.

    Ephesians 3:9 :

    “And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ”

    In other words, Jesus was a God before he was born on this earth and in that pre-mortal existence he created this world and all what is on it. He was known as Jehovah in the Old Testament times.

    Now, the resurrected Jesus has progressed from his condition of incorporeal God to a corporeal God. Father and Son now have each of them a physical, perfect, glorious, exalted and celestial body.

    Under this doctrine, the Holy Ghost remains as a lesser God because he does not enjoy an exalted and celestial physical body. Will he ever get a physical body like the Father and the Son. We don’t know, such thing has not yet revealed in Mormon theology.

  196. I’ll try again…

    In Mormonism there are many divine beings, many gods, many Gods and many paths to becoming a god or God, but one godhead. This one godhead is composed of three divine beings making up a single unit. The godhead is functionally one heavenly council whose unity is understood to be a unity of purpose. In this united godhead the father is greater, the son is lesser and subordinate and the holy ghost is lesser still and subordinate to the father and to the son as well. The term big “G” God is actually a title denoting a change in nature where a god is exalted, perfected, and turned immortal and having a celestial body becoming a God, or the title given to denote the extra quality and favor given to pre-incarnate incorporeal Gods. The title God can be reserved for only the members of the godhead, but this is not necessary. When Mormons uses the term “the one God” they are using this as a synonym for godhead when united in purpose and they mean the three divine beings that make up the godhead taken as a whole, or one God in a specific circumstance, or the one God that they are referencing. If I am incorrect or misrepresenting your theology in any way let me know.

  197. gundek,

    I see your fine tuning a Mormon definition for “God”. I’ll give you a hand. I will examine your words part by part. Let’s see:

    “In Mormonism there are many divine beings” True, We all are of divine nature, either Gods or not, either Gods or angels.

    “many gods” speaking broadly in a sense all of the children of God are in different stages of progression to become God and in a sense we can consider them to be gods or lesser gods.

    “many Gods” based on the Mormon canon only as many as three Gods: The Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.

    “and many paths to becoming a god or God” No. According to the canon, there is only one path to becoming a god. The fact that we all are in different stages of progression does not mean that there are different ways or path to Godhood. The state of incorporeal and corporeal Gods are only two different stages of the same path of progression.

    “When Mormons uses the term “the one God” they are using this as a synonym for godhead when united in purpose and they mean the three divine beings that make up the godhead taken as a whole,”

    We don’t use the term “the one God”, we use the term “God” and when we say “God” we mean God the Father. We don’t use the term “God” and think of the three divine beings that make up the godhead. On the other hand, when we think of those three divine beings as a heavenly council, we call it Trinity, because every time we think of the Trinity we see Three Gods in a council; not “One God”.

    By saying this, I am saying that in Mormon theology the word “Trinity” has a different meaning than in traditional Christianity. We are NOT monotheists in any case. We are polytheist in every case and we believe this is a true doctrine.

    I hope this help.

  198. Ammon started with something that the King was familiar with, and then built on that and taught him all things, which would have included the physical nature of the Father.

    I’m always amazed at people’s ability to read scripture that’s not there.

  199. Try again…

    In Mormonism there are many divine beings, many gods, at least 3 Gods, and one path to becoming a God, but one godhead. This one godhead is composed of three divine beings, in various stages of progression on the path to Godness, making up a single unit. The godhead is functionally one heavenly council whose unity is understood to be a unity of purpose. In this united godhead the embodied father is greater, the son is lesser and subordinate and the incorporeal holy ghost is lesser still and subordinate to the father and to the son as well. The term big “G” God is actually a title denoting a change in nature where a god is exalted, perfected, and turned immortal and having a celestial body becoming a God, or the title given to denote the extra quality and favor given to certain pre-incarnate incorporeal gods. The title God can be reserved for only the members of the godhead, but this is not necessary. When Mormons uses the term “the one God” they are using it to refer to the father and no other member of the godhead. Mormons use the theological term trinity only to express the unity of purpose in the godhead three divine beings as a heavenly council. If I am incorrect or misrepresenting your theology in any way let me know.

  200. Gundek,

    Let me put it this way:

    In Mormonism there is only one divine nature. The whole mankind is offspring of God, begotten by God in a pre-mortal existence and therefore they all are divine beings of one divine nature. In Mormonism these divine spirit children of God are sent to earth to obtain a physical body and to experience mortality which both are necessary in their progression to become Gods.

    In Mormonism, the whole purpose and intention of God is for all his children to become Gods like Him. To attain this, his spiritual children must go through several stages of progression and mortality is only one of them.

    In Mormonism there are only 3 Gods: The Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, and one path to becoming a God. These three separate and individual Gods work together as a council and have the same purpose. Therefore, they are Three Gods with one purpose. We call this council of Three Gods the Trinity. In official doctrinal terms, there are no more Gods in heavens only Three Gods, even though all the children of God are considered gods in different stages of progression.

    This Trinity or Godhead shows Three Gods in two stages of progression: corporeal Gods (The Father and Jesus Christ) and incorporeal Gods (the Holy Ghost only).

    The Trinity or Godhead is functionally one Heavenly Council whose unity is understood to be a unity of purpose only. In this united godhead the embodied Father is the greatest of all; the Son is lesser and subordinate to the Father; and the incorporeal Holy Ghost is lesser still and subordinate to the Father and to the Son as well.

    The term “God” with capital G is only applied to the Father. The term “God” is also a title that denotes the highest conditions of progression, where a child of God after passing for the mortal experience has been exalted, perfected, and his/her mortal body has turned immortal and celestial becoming like God, in fact becoming a God.

    This condition of Godhood can never be achieved based on personal merits or accomplishments in the path of Eternal Progression to Godhood. Such condition of Godhood is granted to the children of God only by the merits of the Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ. By what means God the Father obtained his condition of Godhood no one knows. It is not known in Mormon Theology.

    The title “God” is also given to denote the extra quality and favor given to certain pre-incarnate incorporeal Gods like Jehovah of the Old Testament who is the person of the Lord Jesus Christ before his mortal experience or the Holy Ghost.

    The title God is reserved for only the members of the Trinity or Godhead, but in common use only applied to the Father. Mormons don’t use the term “the one God”.

  201. David

    I haven’t read anything that isn’t there. I have taken what the text says and combined it with what it implies to arrive at a full understanding of its intended meaning. There is a difference.

    Gundeck

    Personally I liked your simple summary better. While I agree with much of what Carlos is saying I think he chooses to say it in a very confusing way. So, let me try to rephrase.

    Just as a mortal child is born with the same nature as their mortal parents, we are all born with the nature of our Heavenly Father.
    Just as mortal parents are adults and their children are infants, our Heavenly Father is a divine being and we were born as spirit.
    Just as mortal children grow to become adults like their parents, we progress to becomes immortal like our Heavenly Father.
    Just as a child can grow to be intelligent and successful through their choices in life, we can grow and become divine through our choices in life.

    Here I would note that while we share a basic nature with the Father, I am not going to refer to that nature are divine. The Father has a divine nature because He has achieved godhood and is God. We can become divine in this same way, but not all of us will. Many are born with the same nature as the Father, but never become divine. Satan is the prime example: as a spirit child of God he has the same nature, but through his choices he can no longer become a divine being.
    In this way think of our nature as the potential that each of us possesses, with becoming a divine being the pinnacle of that potential.

    As to Christ’s Godhood before he was born, the answer is simple. The term god, or godhood, refers to a state of being; a state in which one is mentally, spiritually, and physically perfect. In this sense Christ was not yet a god as he had not yet reached physical perfection. However, the term God, with the big G, is a title of authority that commands respect and worship. He attained to this position as a spirit before this world was ever created, and thus is God.
    This distinction needs to be understood. We believe we can become gods, or attain to the state in which we will enjoy mental, spiritual, and physical perfection. However, we do not believe we will ever have authority equal to or greater than our Father, and thus we will always worship him.

  202. Also, I have already read the Book of Mormon several* times, in more than one language, so I’m good, thanks.

    *9? 12? I can never remember because I stopped caring a long time ago.

  203. Kullervo,
    The answer was not direct but implied.
    He should read the Book of Mormon because the Book of Mormon is the word of God regardless if Mormon doctrine is found in there or not.

  204. What for? I have already read it, many times. What do you think is going to happen this time that did not happen any of the other times?

  205. After a week away from any internet I find that Shematwater agrees with me and Carlos wants Mme to read the book of Mormon.

    Oh Patrick…

  206. Carlos wants me to read the book of Mormon.

    Does he? The invitation is in the passive voice every time, and it is only “cordial” so it’s not really clear to me. It may just be his opinion (to which he is entitled) about whether someone has invited you to read the Book of Mormon. Facts are facts, gundek.

  207. This post is interesting and relevant: http://rationalfaiths.com/lying-lord/

    I am referring to a recently released essay on the LDS Church’s official website titled “Becoming Like God.” While the essay should be commended for affirming that “divine parentage includes a Heavenly Mother,” such an admission cannot make up for the Technicolor prevarication in a different paragraph where it is claimed that “few Latter-day Saints would identify with caricatures of having their own planet.”

    As an active member of the LDS Church for over 35-years, this is news to me.

    A caricature is a “comic exaggeration.” I am surprised to discover at this late date that the teaching I have personally heard and read on numerous occasions, that faithful Latter-day Saints will eventually have “their own planet,” is a “comic exaggeration.” It is not an exaggeration at all, comic or otherwise. It is a fact, plain and simple.

    Just to make sure I wasn’t losing my mind, I ran a test case by asking my wife this FAQ on the Church website. I played it completely fair and asked her the same question in the same words: “Do Latter-day Saints believe that they will get their own planet?” Without hesitation, she answered, “Yes.”

    So apparently there are at least two Latter-day Saints in the world who would answer that question differently.

    No, wait. There are more. Those would be the prophets, seers and revelators who have taught this doctrine for over 100-years.

    Even the manual used to teach investigators and new members contains this information. From lesson 36 of the Gospel Fundamentals manual, the Preface to which avers, “The principles explained in this book are true,” we have the following: Those who dwell in the highest part of the celestial kingdom “will even be able to have spirit children and make new worlds for them to live on.”

    Now hold on thar, Baba Looey! Are you saying the Church is telling the outside world that Mormons won’t get their own planet, but telling the inside world of Mormons that they will get their own planet? And that the Church has both statements at the same time on its own official website?

    Like I said, playing fast and loose with the truth in the internet age is a dicey proposition.

    Lesser minds would call it lying.

  208. Certainly the phrase “faithful Mormons will get their own planet” is not accurate.

    The accurate statement is “faithful latter-day saints who receive exaltation will be able to create new WORLDS (pay attention to the plural) and populate them.”

    The accurate teaching is that each exalted LDS will be able to organize or create countless planets, not just one. Therefore to say that exalted LDS “will get their planet” is not accurate, because “to get” and “to create” does not mean the same and “their own planet” (singular) is not the same to “uncountable worlds” (plural).

    For this reason to say that faithful LDS people will “get their own planet” is a caricature or ridicule of the true teaching taught from the beginning in the LDS Church and stated in church manuals.

    On the other hand, just for the records the manual “Gospel Fundamentals” only had 12 lessons (had because it is not published anymore) and the manual Gospel Principles has 47 lessons and lesson 36 does not teach anything about faithful exalted LDS people creating planets or worlds in the future. Even though the quote reflects a true doctrine it was not cited correctly.

    In conclusion, Mr. Volluz see lies where they are not, or simply he does not see the difference between the meanings of “to get” and “to make” and neither he can see the difference between a singular word and a plural word, in this case “planet” (singular) and “worlds” (plural).

  209. I don’t see the rhetorical distinction between “to get” and “to make”. In any case close reading of the original article only denies “a cartoonish image of people receiving their own planets” or “caricatures of having their own planet” not getting, having or making a planet.

  210. The article denies something that is evident, there is actually a cartoonish image of a true Mormon doctrine, because in not part of Mormon theology, neither in the quote posted for the same writer says the faithful LDS will “receive” their own planet.

    It is like saying that God has only this planet we call Earth (where we live now) to be the only planet he “was given” by someone else to run it. This last statement is obviously a caricature of the majesty and power of God. God created, creates and runs countless worlds, actually he runs the whole universe. He didn’t get “his own planet” (this earth) to run it.

    In Mormon theology and in all of the statements in Church handbooks, manuals, from the brethren and the canon, the teaching is clear: an exalted LDS person will become a God and will have all power, knowledge and wisdom, to create or organize countless worlds and he/she will inherit ALL what God has; and when the doctrine says ALL it means everything either material or immaterial things God has, without any restriction; not just “our own planet” to run.

    Therefore, to claim that we believe in “receiving our own planet” to run is a caricature of the theology we teach.

    On the other hand, if you don’t see the rhetorical distinction between “to get” and “to make” I am sorry to say that there is nothing I can do about it.

  211. The Mormon view of exaltation is to take literally the biblical idea that we, as did Christ, can sit in the Father’s throne and inherit all He has. The LDS scriptures and the Bible are explicit that we cannot really know what the “Father’s throne” means, which makes the idea of inheriting this throne an indescribable hope, not a clear target.

    Describing that mysterious thing as “getting your own planet” is naturally a speculative description of this idea, but not a ludicrous one. In many ways, to Mormons, this planet is “our own planet” because many Mormon prophets also believed that the Latter Day and Former-Day saints were there and even participated in the making of this planet.

    The new Church article wishes to distance itself from this characterization like most Christian churches distance themselves from all the strange things of the past uttered by everyone, down-to and including the holy prophets of the Old Testament.

    The belief in exaltation does not need to be described as “Getting your own planet” at it is not lying to deny this as the core belief rather than a speculation about the belief.

  212. Carlos,

    What I have found is that LDS individually speak with a specificity of meaning and language that may or not be common and shared across the Mormonism. So when it comes to getting planets or making exaltation I generally let individual Mormons explain what they mean.

  213. Jared,

    If Mormons cannot know what “Father’s throne” means, how can they take it literally?

  214. I’m not understanding the point? Is there something comparable to the significance of creation and literally sitting in the Father’s chair?

  215. My point is that the symbolic language we use does not precisely describe what we are talking about, but that does not mean we can’t take it literally. We have no clear idea how God could have made the universe, but that does not prevent literal belief in that proposition. Likewise Mormons and other Christians do not have to specifically understand what it means to inherit all that the Father has, in order to believe that it is literally possible.

    Whatever it means to inherit all God has, that’s what Mormon’s believe is eternal life. Whether that means singing in everlasting joy or making planets, Mormons would freely admit that they don’t know precisely what they will be, but believe that they will be like Him when they see him, purified, and endowed with a degree of His glory.

  216. Gundek,
    Obviously, each LDS has their own personal understanding of what the canon says, regarding exaltation or any other part of Mormon theology and that’s OK. But, I state here what the canon says and official teachings in Church manuals and teachings of the Brethren.

    On the other hand, if I am going to create Worlds and populate them, I have to start for the first one, right? The canon does not say if we are going to create them one by one or all of them together, but my personal logic tells me I may have to do them one by one and there will be a “first one”.

    Also, not every Mormon understands doctrine correctly, that is why we go to Sunday School and are advised to read from the canon, so we can learn. Still this learning does not stop us to have a personal opinion or understanding of the doctrines. Here is where we produce a lot of speculations that is spread out in the Church, they may be right or wrong, but regardless what they are, they are not official teachings of the Canon, therefore, they should remain in the realm of personal opinions.

  217. Carlos,

    I agree each LDS has their own understanding of the canon and what is and is not official teaching and what role manuals or brethren have for official doctrine.

    I have found that my discussions with LDS have been much more productive and enjoyable since coming to the understanding that there is One true church© but millions of ideas about what is official doctrine. Mormonism is very post-modern.

  218. Gundeck

    We can take the reference to the throne of God literal and yet have no reference to seating arrangements. The term throne can refer to the authority of a sovereign rather than the actual chair they sit in. Actually, the chair took its name from the sovereign, not the other way around. Thus, to sit in God’s throne, taken literally, can be a direct reference to sharing in His Power, Glory, and Authority.

    Speaking of having one’s one planet: While this is a common idea, and there have been some leaders of the church who agreed with it, it is not, nor has it ever been official doctrine. The official doctrine is that this Earth will be Celestialized, and that all those who inherit the Celestial glory will live on it forever. It is also official doctrine that we will live with out families. It is also official doctrine that we will have the power to organize new worlds and populate them with our spirit children.
    The common caricature that each man and his wives will be off by themselves running their own planet does not agree with these official doctrines. If we are off doing our own thing than how are we living together as a family? As Carlos said, if we get just one planet, than our ability to form and organize worlds without end is not present.

    However, the important point in all this is that anything beyond the official doctrine is not only speculation, but is truly unimportant. Personally, I don’t care if others see themselves having their own planet. That is how they read the text and that belief is not going to hinder their eternal salvation in any way. If they are wrong they will learn it in the next life, and thus will have a disadvantage in world to come. If they are right and I am wrong they will have the advantage, and I am perfectly fine with that.
    I am going to concentrate on those things that are necessary and not on the speculations.

  219. “Actually, the chair took its name from the sovereign, not the other way around.”

    Really? My rocking chair takes its name from me too but that doesn’t change that “authority and rulership of a leader over a people as a figurative extension of a throne” not a literal one.

    So to sit in God’s throne, taken figuratively, can be a direct reference to sharing power, glory, and authority.

    But otherwise I agree that it is all speculation what is official LDS doctrine.

  220. Gundeck

    “So to sit in God’s throne, taken figuratively, can be a direct reference to sharing power, glory, and authority.”

    I grant you that literal is probably not the best word. It would be better to say we can use the dictionary definition of the words. In this case Throne may be a figure of speech, but it is a common enough figure of speech that using it in this way does not give any hidden meaning.

    “that it is all speculation what is official LDS doctrine.”

    It is not speculation as to what is Official Doctrine. There is no speculation in that regard. Speculation comes when members reason to conclusions that are not directed stated in the official doctrine.

  221. ok, ok, I admit it. I used “take literally” when I meant “take seriously.” (hangs head in shame, burns philosophy diploma)

  222. I have no doubt that LDS take sitting in the father’s throne and inheriting all he has seriously, that still leaves open the question if the power to organize new worlds and populate them with spirit children can be derived from those passages.

    I’m still wondering what the precise difference is between “power to organize new worlds and populate them with our spirit children” and condensing that “official doctrine” into the phrase getting their own world(s)? Understanding that “getting their own world(s)” is objectionable I won’t use it in conversations with LDS, I just cannot understand why it is objectionable when organizing new worlds and populating them with spirit children is not?

  223. Gundeck

    Start here https://www.lds.org/topics?lang=eng. Of course this page links to an alphabetical listing here https://www.lds.org/topics?lang=eng&letter=a. These will again link to various talks and lessons that have been published to teach the gospel and assist in our understanding of it.

    Quite honestly, if it is found here it is likely not an official doctrine. Now, some doctrines are no stated here, and some are not given in depth descriptions, but for the most part everything is in these lists.

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