I’m back at it with Part 2 in my quest to answer Greg Trimble’s 51 questions that might lead you to Mormonism. Here is Part 1 in case you missed it.
Some quick caveats for those that missed my first post.. These answers will be short and to the point. I’m not trying give a complete answer, nor am I trying to convert anyone out of Mormonism. If I throw in a joke or two it’s to keep things interesting and not a personal attack on Trimble or an attempt to disrespect the Mormon faith.
On with the show!
6. Who was “God” talking to when He said “Let us” make man in “our” image and after “our” likeness? (Genesis 1:26-27)
God was speaking to the other members of the Trinity. God is made up of three separate and unique persons in eternal community. Trinitarians are SO GLAD to see the word “let us” and “our” in Genesis. Plural personal references are exactly what we would hope to see. It’s a shadow of the revealed truth about God found in the New Testament.
7. Why do people believe God the Father and Jesus Christ are one being when Christ refers to himself and His Father as two men? (John 8:17-18)
Good news! We agree with Mormons that the Father and the Son are unique persons.
I don’t know if I should roll my eyes at questions like this or just suck it up and accept my lot in life that I will forever be answering the same question about the Trinity. Spirit Prison should be fun in comparison. For a number of reasons Mormons confuse Trinitarian beliefs with Modalism (the idea that there is one God who puts on a different mask for different purposes). We believe there is ONE God made up of THREE persons. This doesn’t mean we believe that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are all the same. It also doesn’t mean that we believe that there are three gods. Confusing right? It’s even more confusing when you hope to pigeon hole us into something we don’t believe. I attempted to clear up the confusion on these ideas with a fun infographic found here.
8. The first Hebrew word for “God” renders the word “God” in the plural. Is there more than one god?
No there is only ONE God. It just so happens that there are three persons who exist as that deity. Traditional Christians walk a balancing line between the Biblical revelations that declare that there are THREE persons who are God and Biblical revelations that say there is only ONE God. Isaiah 45:5 is one example:
I am the Lord [Jehovah], and there is no other; apart from me there is no God. . .
9. Why does Paul say that there are lots of gods? (1 Cor 8:5)
Here’s 1 Corinthians 8:5-6
“For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”), yet for us there is but one God, the Father,from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord,Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.”
Ummm, awkward. . . .I’m tempted to believe that answering this is piling on. . .but what the heck. . . Paul is acknowledging that people worship all kinds of “gods”. That doesn’t mean that Christians should think they actually exist. [Seriously dude, you can do better than this, right?]
10. Why do so many of the “Early Christian Fathers” (those that were closest to the New Testament church) and respected Christian scholars such as C.S. Lewis speak of there being multiple gods?
Context, Context, Context. After our little adventure into 1 Corinthians I imagine this could be quite a wild ride in the follies of poor reading comprehension and proof-texting. In all of those instances, even with the most generous reading toward Mormon thought, the context shows that God is all together different than mortal humans. They are not one in the same species. They are in completely different categories.
11. The word “God” is a title. It’s not the actual name of Christ and it’s not the name of Heavenly Father. So could others like you and I be called using that same title someday if we are faithful children of a being with the title of “God”? (John 10:30-36) (Romans 8:16-17)
Traditional Christians believe that God is an “uncreated creator”. We are “created” and therefore can NEVER be “uncreated creators”. Even if we somehow create in a pattern similar to God it is IMPOSSIBLE for us to be “uncreated”.
My children are adopted. They have every right to everything I may have but they can NEVER be a part of my biological line (that’s good news for them as puberty approaches). The New Testament makes it quite clear that we are sons and daughters of God via adoption. We have all that he has but we can not be deity even if we are invited to judge and create along side of him. [I can’t divert too deeply here but in John 10 Jesus is quoting Psalm 82 which condemns foreign judges who judge unjustly despite being recognized as “gods”. Jesus is telling the Pharisess “why are you so concerned with me saying that I’m God when you are like those corrupt foreign judges” JESUS SMACK].
12. Christ tells us to become perfect. God is perfect. Does that mean we can become like God? (Matt 5:48)
I tell my daughter to do her chores. Does that mean she can become a man?
Though we have a path to perfection through Christ we can NEVER be an “uncreated creator”. We are a different thing than deity.
13. Why would Christ be resurrected with his actual body if he was only just a manifestation of the Father?
The Son is not a manifestation of the Father (look at that, I used bold, underline and italics). They are separate persons. You have us confused with Modalist. Jesus was resurrected with his actual body because that’s his body (and he’s the only member of the Trinity to have a human body).
14. You must accept Christ in order to be saved. But what if you never even heard of the name of Christ while in your lifetime?
Oh boy, buckle in. There are LOTS of different answers to this question. . . Ah forget it I’m not going to recap every book written on this topic. I’ll just give you my viewpoint.
In Romans 1 and 2 Paul says that people who have never heard the law are still in judgment because they have creation before them which testifies to them that God exists. All men are judged for their own sins and for what knowledge of God they possess. God knows every heart and will judge fairly based on each individuals understanding.
God is a GOOD judge so I trust him.
15. Would a just God condemn someone merely because of the space of time in which they lived on the earth?
No. People condemn themselves by their own rejection of God. Time and space have nothing to do with it. People don’t need to hear the name of Jesus to be judged and (I don’t think) they need to hear the name “Jesus” to be saved BUT no one can save them but Jesus.
By the way, has anyone told you that you’re a pestilent can of cheese whiz with the disposition of an arthritic orangutan with multiple hemorrhoids? No? Good because no one should have to put up with that kind of disrespect.
16. If baptism is required for salvation as taught by Jesus Christ (John 3:3-5), what happens to those that never had the chance to be baptized such as infants that died near child birth?
Jesus also tells the thief on the cross that he will be in Paradise that very day with no chance to be baptized. Baptism is important but not necessary for salvation.
Also when Jesus mentions “born of water” in John 3:5 he means that “water birth” is natural birth and it is different than “spirit birth”. I KNOW you think I’m just making that up but go look into what NT Wright or someone else smart has to say about it.
Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.
17. Why would Paul speak to the Corinthians about baptism for the dead, and why is this concept overlooked in mainstream Christianity? (1 Cor 15:29)
All of my research into this topic has led me to conclude that the Corinthians had an isolated practice of baptizing corpses. When they baptized the dead, they were LITERALLY baptizing dead bodies. There is no indication that this is proxy baptism as practiced by Mormons. So . . . if this is important to you, you better start digging up some graves.
We have A LOT of writings from Early Christianity. Christians weren’t widely instructed to follow this practice. I KNOW, I KNOW this is evidence of the Great Apostasy. . . OR it could be an example of early Christians trying to figure out how important baptism was. 1 Corinthians is one of the first books written in the New Testament. That there was no further mention of this practice seems to mean something (but not necessarily everything). The Book of Acts gives us clear instruction as Gentile believers to avoid meat sacrificed to idols but we’re all going out for Chinese food because later instruction said it was okay.
18. Why would Christ preach to the dead if the people that had died without confessing Christ had no chance in the after life? (1 Peter 3:18-19) (1 Pet 4:6)
It seems that people who died BEFORE Jesus’s death on the cross had an opportunity in the afterlife.
Why would Mormons make ignorant people accountable for knowledge of the Gospel if they stand a better chance of receiving the message in the afterlife? Seems like a lot of time and effort could be saved if you really believe that eternity exists to sort this out.
19. Many pastors get paid big bucks to be pastors when Paul says we should minister for free? Should a church have a paid or unpaid ministry? (1 Cor 9:18)
I want to be VERY clear about this. There are some people in “Christian ministry” who are making obscene amounts of money and it would be better for them to have a millstone around their necks. They are disgusting.
That being said. The average Christian pastor in the United States makes around $28,000. I have defended the LDS church’s practice of paying General Authorities despite the fact that most of them get paid over six figures. If you think Paul is condemning practice you’re not reading him carefully enough. He’s actually supporting it all the while rejecting his opportunity to receive financial support. I think it’s GREAT that Mormon Bishops serve without pay. It has its pluses and minuses.
But don’t be so naive to think that the LDS church does not have people in paid ministry. Everyone in the Quorum of the 70 on up is receiving a salary, not to mention all the CES instructors, Mission Presidents and staff at Church headquarters.
Many of the wealthiest Christian pastors receive most of their income from book sales. Rick Warren and Francis Chan both donate 90% of their income away. Even Joel Osteen [shudder] refuses a salary from his church. The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles are also receiving income from their book sales not to mention the salaries as board members of church owned for-profit businesses.
Did you know Mormon bishops in Utah used to receive 8% of all tithing income in their ward?
If you want to debate with me the difference between a salary and a “living allowance” I can assure you I’m NOT INTERESTED.
20. What does Paul mean when he says we can become an heir of God and a joint-heir with Jesus Christ? (Romans 8:16-17)
Thanks for asking! I really appreciate how interested you are in what I think. Thanks for setting aside the time to ask me these questions and to listen patiently to my answers.
“For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again;rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory”
It means that we get everything God can give us. His glory and his suffering. Unfortunately for us God can not make his creations “uncreated”. Despite receiving resurrection, glory, honor and praise that won’t make us deity.
Hey! We’re over a third of the way there. Way to go… to all of us… but mostly me.