The God of Mormonism

Posted: December 5, 2008 in agnosticism, Bible, bible study, Christian, church, faith, family, marriage, politics, Religion, Thoughts

The doctrine of the Mormon god was developed by Joseph Smith, Brigham Young and other Mormon prophets through “revelations” that blatantly contradict the Orthodox teachings of a Triune God of the Bible. The Mormon scriptures Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price reveal a polytheistic system of gods who procreate spirit children clothed in human bodies on different planets.1 This infinite regress of gods are born spirit beings who later become human beings including Elohim the god of this planet. The Mormon belief of God the Father denies that God is spirit and purports that he is an exalted man.

While all spirit children of the “Eternal Father” have a beginning as the offspring of an “Eternal Mother,” they have no end. There exists no first cause for the infinite regress of gods that began as offspring—an obvious contradiction. Mormon Elder Milton Hunter is quoted, “Mormon prophets have continuously taught the sublime truth that God the Eternal Father was once a mortal man who passed through a school of earth life similar to that through which we are now passing. He became God—an exalted being—through obedience to the same eternal Gospel truths that we are given opportunity today to obey.”2 The Mormon doctrine that God the Father is a mere man denies His omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence. If God the Father is a mere man, what does that make Jesus?

According to Mormon teaching Jesus is the Father and the Son. Mosiah 7:27 states, “And because he said unto them that Christ was the God, the Father of all things, and said that he should take upon him the image of man, and it should be the image after the image of God, and that God should come down among the children of men, and take upon him flesh and blood, and go forth upon the face of the earth—” Not only is the Father and Son the same, but the Son was conceived through the blasphemous means of sexual intercourse of the Father with Mary, although it was a virgin birth. If that is not confusing enough, Brigham Young taught that Adam (Eternal Father) and Eve (Eternal Mother) helped to make and organize the world. Young wrote, “He (Adam) is Michael, the Archangel, the Ancient of Days! About whom holy men have written and spoken—He is our Father and our God, and the only God with whom we have to do.”3

The pluralistic Mormon Jesus is 1) God the Father, 2) Adam, and 3) the archangel Michael. However, Jesus is ultimately just another spirit child who is a resurrected and glorified man not the Savior of the world. In fact, salvation is not by grace through faith in Jesus Christ as Mormon propaganda would have us believe, but eternal life is achieved by works. Joseph Smith educated his followers on how to achieve eternal life in his Journal of Discourse.

You have got to learn how to be Gods yourselves; to be kings and priests to God, the same as all Gods have done before you—namely, by going from a small degree to another, from grace to grace, from exaltation to exaltation, until you are able to sit in glory as doth those who sit enthroned in everlasting power.4 

If God the Father is man, and God the Son is man, then what do Mormons believe about God the Holy Spirit?

The Mormon doctrine of the Holy Spirit is perhaps their most egregious display of contradictory theology. On the one hand, Mormons attempt to emulate Orthodox Christianity in describing the Holy Spirit as the third personage of the Godhead as Joseph Smith instructs in Doctrine and Covenants, Section 130:22. “The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s; the Son also; but the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of Spirit. Were it not so, the Holy Ghost could not dwell in us.”5 While on the other hand, Elder James Talmage in The Articles of Faith of 1952 denies the immaterial.

Admitting the personality of God, we are compelled to accept the fact of His materiality; indeed, an “immaterial” being, under which meaningless name some have sought to designate the condition of God, cannot exist, for the very expression is a contradiction in terms. If God possesses a form, that form is of necessity of definite proportions and therefore of limited extension in space. It is impossible for Him to occupy at one time more than one space of such limits . . .6

Mormon theology is confronted with the task of supporting its doctrine with Scripture in order to conform with Orthodox Christian teaching, but in the process emerges as a self-contradictory polytheistic anomaly of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young. The Mormon god is a plurality of an Adam god, a spirit child called Jesus, an Eternal Father Elohim, the Archangel Michael, and an immaterial material Holy Ghost, neither of which are omniscient, omnipresent, nor omnipotent. The semantic gymnastics of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints fail to affirm Mormonism as a Christian religion, but instead reveals obvious deviations from Orthodox Christian teaching.

1. Ron Rhodes, The Challenge of the Cults and New Religions (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2001), 51.

2. Walter Martin, Kingdom of the Cults (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publisher, 2003), 237.

3. Ibid., 236.

4. Ibid., 236.

5. Ibid., 237.

6. The Official Scriptures of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2008. Doctrine and Covenants [database online], accessed on December 4, 2008 available from http://scriptures.lds.org/en/dc/130/21-22#21.

7. Walter Martin, Kingdom of the Cults (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publisher, 2003), 242.

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Comments
  1. Nance says:

    This is an exeprt from a paper I am writing for Seminary. Comments are welcome, I’ll check in as often as I can. I truly enjoy the lively discussions, I’m not ignoring you. I have a lot to do in the next three weeks before my parents converge on my home for the holidays (3 weeks, yikes!)

  2. reagan21 says:

    There are many fallacies in this post. I am at work and do not have time at this point them all out. When I get time I will come back and enumerate them for you.

  3. Rickr0ll says:

    I always thought Mormons were essentially Neo Catholics myself lol

    I too am piqued by Reagan.

  4. Seth R. says:

    Polytheism is the worship of multiple gods.

    Mormons worship only one god – God the Father (and Son and Spirit insofar as they represent the Father – which they, of course, do).

    That’s it. Period.

    Thus, polytheism is probably the wrong label.

    The only sense that Mormons could be called polytheists is in the same ways that Protestants are polytheists – worshiping a multiplicity of Father, Son and Spirit. But since Mormons believe that Father, Son, and Spirit represent one perfectly united Will governing the universe, and Protestants believe they represent one unified Substance, neither can accurately be called true polytheists.

    “Henotheist” might be a better description. But even that word doesn’t really fit…

    • Nance says:

      Polythesism is a worldview in which one believes in the existence of many gods. As I pointed out this is exactly what Mormons believe according to their prophets. They may worship one, three or all, but worship practice does not determine polytheism. Polytheistic Hindus believe in many gods, but may honor only one according to their region.

      Finally, the Mormon understanding of God the Father is radically different from Orthodox Christian or even Judaism. The Christian God is not a mere man, He is omnipresent, omnipotent and omnicient. As I pointed out according to their own scriptures, Mormons deny these qualities in God the Father. They may honor Elohim, the god of this planet, only until they become a god themselvs of their own planet and recieve worship themselves—a doctrine completely foreign to Christianity.

  5. Seth R. says:

    Mormons don’t believe He is a “mere” man either.

    • Nance says:

      So are we to understand that you disagree with Joseph Smith, Brigham Young and Elder Talmage? If you are drawing your understanding from the Bible, then, yes, Yahwey (correctly spelled Yahweh) is very different from the god of Smith, Young and your other prophets. So I suppose the question I should ask is, “Do you follow the teachings of the Bible or of the Mormon porphets? As you have pointed out, they disagree.

  6. Rickr0ll says:

    It’s Yehwey, though there are many different names for him (something you would come to expect from a system that was directly the product of hybridized polytheism). Even Elohim means “El, to rise up” or something similar to this. Very curious indeed, Nance. You ought to take a look at the yahwey essay that i posted as a link.

    • Nance says:

      Brush up on your Hebrew, rick, the significance in the name in this context is not necessarily in the meaning. It is the plurality intended. If you are going to write an essay about someone, perhaps you should try spelling his name correctly.

  7. Seth R. says:

    Hebrew words are often spelled without the vowels. So Rick’s spelling of Yahweh/Yaweh/Yehweh doesn’t really matter.

    Judaism also doesn’t have any one view of God. So you had better clarify which form of Judaism you are talking about before you claim that Mormons are not similar to it.

    Nor is the idea of humans becoming like God a foreign concept to the scriptures:

    2 Peter 1:3–4
    John 10:34–36 referring to Psalm 82:6
    Acts 17:28–29
    Ephesians 1:5; 3:19; 4:13, 15
    Romans 5:2; 8:14-19, 29-32
    Colossians 3:10
    Ephesians 4:23–24
    Romans 12:1–2
    1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:17
    1 Thessalonians 5:23
    2 Thessalonians 2:14
    1 John 4:17
    John 17:22
    Revelation 21:7
    1 John 3:2
    Philippians 3:21

    “God became man so that men might become gods.” St. Athanasius

    “Man has been ordered to become God.” Gregory of Nazianzus

    “From the Holy Spirit is the likeness of God, and the highest thing to be desired, to become God.” Basil the Great

    “[the spirit] is deified by that which it contemplates.” Origen

    “If the Word is made man, it is that man might become gods.” Irenaeus

    I fear that in the quest to emphasize how much humanity sucks, Evangelicals have lost sight almost completely of what is truly wonderful and glorious about humanity. The doctrine of deification of human beings is littered throughout the scriptures and hard to ignore.

  8. Nance says:

    There is a difference between man becoming “like” God through the power of the Holy Spirit (distinctly Christian), and man becoming a god (polytheistic).

    Many great men have taught in error contrary to the word of God. If you are suggesting that Scripture teaches that men become gods, you are mistaken as well. Man does not become god and scripture does not support that teaching.

    When I have time later, I will go through each of the scriptures you listed. Good to know you read the Bible.

    God does not “become.” He IS. God has no potentiality. Man “becomes” because man has potential, man has beginning. God has no beginning, He is infinite and eternal. These are attributes of God and man denied by the Mormon faith.

  9. Nance says:

    If you wish for me to be more specific, I am referring to Orthodox Judaism and Orthodox Christianity. Although they worship different Gods, they share a monotheistic understanding of God in addition to Islam and that is the similarity upon which I am drawing.

    This article reveals the polytheistic view of the god of the the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as compared to the Orthodox Christian God.

  10. RickrOll says:

    “If you are going to write an essay about someone…”
    Sharp eye Nance, because i am most certainly the person who wrote that essay *roll*

    And you completely overlook the fact of Authorship, key to the entirety of the piece? AMAZING

    And you forget that it is still Monotheism, but two different conceptions- Astonishing!
    And you limit yourself to only 2 denominations in your discussions, because why? Oh that’s right, the are True Christians (TM)! WOO

    And you overlook the fact tat Jesus in those situations isn’t God, but a holy prophet acting the part? And you realize that God cannot change someones nature to become God or Godlike?!! What arrogance! What right have you to say that God couldn’t do such things!?
    HA HA HA HA HA HA HA (oh, the lulz, it hurts!)

  11. Nance says:

    Wrong again rick, God transforms man through the power of the Holy Spirit to become like Christ or to put on the character of God. God does not transform man into a god. Really, rick, stick with science. At least then you can fake actually understanding what you are talking about.

  12. Nance says:

    Seth-
    Sorry I couldn’t get to more of your scriptures today. I suspect the mistranslation of the other passages follow similar errors, but I will have to tackle those another day.

    The Mormon doctrine of God attempts to justify its polytheistic teaching by way of misinterpreting scripture. In fact, few if any of its earliest Elders and prophets had training in Greek and Hebrew, but they claimed to teach the correct interpretation without correct exegesis. In following with your claim that the Bible teaches men becomes gods, I have provided Orthodox Christian interpretation of each of these passages refuting such teaching. Since we are not sitting side by side examining the scriptures together, I am forced to make some assumptions as to the meaning you are implying.
    2 Peter 1:3–4 – “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.” Here I assume you are referring to the phrase “you may participate in the divine nature” to imply we become gods. A closer look at the context of the verse reveals the true meaning of this phrase. Continue reading verses 5-8:

    “For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

    You can see that it not referring to a transformation of the essence of a man, but to a transformation of a man’s character through the power of the Holy Spirit. This not an instance of man becoming a god, but of a man putting on the character of God.

  13. RickrOll says:

    “At least then you can fake actually understanding what you are talking about.”

    And because you know SO MUCH, you completely fail to comment on the other issues i raised. Zinger fail.

    “And you realize that God cannot change someones nature to become God or GODLIKE”
    Seriously, your reading comprehension sucks. And again, arrogance in asserting that God Couldn’t do it otherwise.

  14. RickrOll says:

    OH, and there is this very interesting term, called the Body of Christ. Used alot, actually, to describe the relationship that Christians play in God’s identity. Speaking of which, if humans and angels didn’t exist, in what sense would God have an identity. This is where the strengths of being an Eastern Orthodox philosophy major really come in handy ;).

  15. RickrOll says:

    If God has no potentiality, then why are there so many differing views of what God is and does? Your statements utterly lack any kind or historical religion evidence, and what’s more, you contradict yourself. Godlike is still God. No one can be Godlike and Not be God. For the only one who is like God is God- supported indefensibly by scripture. Quite a pickle, Nance.

    You are hand-waving again, merely dismissing the interpretations of other Christians simply because it is inconvenient to address the larger problem. Hubris, plain and simple, to assume that God’s words are yours and yours alone to understand.

    But hold up, i’ll see if i can’t squeeze David Marjanović in for an appointment lol.

  16. Seth R. says:

    “The Mormon doctrine of God attempts to justify its polytheistic teaching by way of misinterpreting scripture.”

    Right back atcha. Traditional Christianity attempts to justify its teachings by way of misinterpreting scripture.

    And while Joseph Smith and other early LDS leaders were admittedly rank amateurs at Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic, the same cannot be said of CURRENT LDS scholars. Some of these guys are at the top of their field. Several are actually some of the world’s foremost experts on the Dead Sea Scrolls project. And they have affirmed many of Joseph Smith’s original readings of scripture.

    The key problem with traditional Christian theology is that it creates an artificial and unscriptural divide between “the uncreated” and the “created.” The traditional Christian notion that God created the universe out of nothing is unscriptural and untrue. Yet it forms the foundation of traditional Christian objections to the Mormon idea of theosis.

    If you take away the Mormon ideas that all matter is eternal and the human identity is co-eternal with God, then our notions of divinization are really no different than those of the Eastern Orthodox Church.

    A final thought. If you can have the Father and the Son and yet “One God,” then what is logically impossible about more than two becoming one? Why shouldn’t the LDS view of the cosmos still logically constitute “One God?”

    If perichoresis works for Father, Son, and Spirit, then why not for more?

  17. RickrOll says:

    Seth, you are a (irony) godsend! Thanks for helping me out here! I feel so much better knowing that there is someone else around here where the thinking cap isn’t 3 sizes too small .

    “The key problem with traditional Christian theology is that it creates an artificial and unscriptural divide between “the uncreated” and the ‘created.’ The traditional Christian notion that God created the universe out of nothing is unscriptural and untrue. Yet it forms the foundation of traditional Christian objections to the Mormon idea of ‘theosis.'”

    You know there is an interpretation that God formed man, not out of dust, but Ashes. Imagine the symbolic importance of such a statement. It is literally dust, but if it were to be meant “ashes” then that right then and there seems to imply that there was a world or something prior to the earth. I have always been skeptical about the 2nd earth, for the reason that it simply might fail again. There is no real reason to think that it couldn’t. Consider Lucifer. IS he even the first to rebel, or were there others, entities that would have befriended the captain of all the angels and persuaded him to engage in the utterly fruitless campaign against God? There is a complete hole in the beginning of the world where there ought to be a plethora of information.

    You seem like a very interesting person to have a conversation with, Seth. I would enjoy it. for example, “perichoresis” and “theosis”, words that i would enjoy adding to my vocabulary.

  18. Nance says:

    “Godlike is still God.”

    So if I were Ricklike, I would be Rick?

  19. Rickr0ll says:

    God is completely different from man in that He cannot be imitated. Don’t be a smart-A**. God is infinitely more than anything man could be on his own, whcih is why Christ is posited as necessary.

    ARROGANT-man is not comperable to God.

    Thanks for showing us how mature you really are, Nance.

  20. Nance says:

    Seth-
    You have identified what you consider to be a key difference in ideology between Orthodox Christianity and Mormonism, so I would like to discuss that with you.

    “The key problem with traditional Christian theology is that it creates an artificial and unscriptural divide between “the uncreated” and the “created.” The traditional Christian notion that God created the universe out of nothing is unscriptural and untrue. Yet it forms the foundation of traditional Christian objections to the Mormon idea of theosis.”

    Are you suggesting that “to be created” is the same as “not to be created”? How do you justify eliminating the distinction? If Mormons differ on this key point that all theists agree, creation ex nihilo, then how can Mormons insist they are Christian? So are you a believer of creation ex materia or ex deo?

    Your argument is that there is no scriptural support for creation ex nihilo that God brought the universe into existence without using preexisting material, so I will provide some for you to consider.

    In Gen 1:3 God commanded “Let there be light” and there was light, ex nihilo, since light came into existence where there was none. In John 17:5 Jesus said, “and now Father, glorify Me in Your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.” If the world had a beginning then it obviously did not always exist, but the Godhead pre-existed. Rom. 4:17 states, “God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were” affirms creation ex nihilo. Col. 1:16 states, “For by him all things were created, things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible” and Rev. 4:11 says, “for You created all things and by Your will they were created and have their being.” Both verses establish that all things visible and invisible, spirit and material were created by God. If they had a beginning, it follows that they did not exist prior to a beginning. Hence, God created ex nihilo, out of nothing.

    Gen 1:1 “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” If they had a beginning, they did not exist prior to their beginning. Immediately upon the first verse of the Bible you have a distinction between the created and the creator, a distinction which is supported throughout scripture. The creation is not the same as the Creator; God makes that clear at the very beginning of His word and thereafter. Everything that comes to be has a cause. Creation had a cause, God. God the I AM. God who is existence, the uncaused cause. Creation ex nihilo is an essential truth of Christian theism distinguishing it from other worldviews, including ex deo and ex material . . . and distinguishing it from Mormonism.

  21. Nance says:

    rickroll-
    “God is infinitely more than anything man could be on his own, whcih is why Christ is posited as necessary.”

    No argument here.

    Are you Agnostic, Atheist or Christian today?

  22. RickrOll says:

    I’m the devil’s advocate. Always.

    Rom. 4:17 states, “God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were”- for God, there is no difference between thinking and creating. Unless God has no knowledge of it, then it exists. But God has omniscience, so he has all possible ideas in his mind. Where they are expressed, no one knows.
    besides- Ex-nihilo violates the 1st Law of Thermodynamics.

    Also, if God’s spirit was completely absent from his Creation, then it wouldn’t exist. We all have God’s spirit, but it is not a saving spirit, the scriptures say. It is a common Jewish idea, that even animals have souls, but that those souls aren’t enough to survive death. Your interpretations leave a lot to be desired.

  23. Nance says:

    “Ex-nihilo violates the 1st Law of Thermodynamics.”

    Explain please, and don’t send me to someone elses website, I want to know what you think.

    Even if it leaves a lot to be desired.

  24. a passerby says:

    At first I thought this might be and interesting conversation to join…. considering that I almost became a Mormon earlier in my life and spent quite a bit of time studying it. I did so honestly, with the intent that after my deep study, I would join that faith should it stand up to the tests I put it through. In the end, I discovered that the message of Mormonism on a very shaky foundation and lack of obvious truth.

    Honestly? Rick’s rudeness in this post has made me not want to play in this place….so this will probably be my only post here…..while Rick sits and comments negatively about Nancy’s headsize, I can’t help but wonder if his very own professors wish he would learn to spell and write sentences that actually made sense…….

    Good article, Nancy. I wish you were around my parts so I could show you a very special book I have that shows all the changes in Mormon “scripture” over its history. It’s a couple of inches thick…that’s how many changes there are. I’ve read just about any book I can find on Mormonism….pro and against. I feel like I gave it a fair trial.

    History speaks very loudly in regard to the errors contained in Mormon theology. When you begin to understand the historic Christian faith, principles of hermeneutics/theology….those errors are even more visible. Here and there you see a glimmer of Christianity woven into this uniquely crafted Mormon faith, but it is not enough to give any substance or credence to their beliefs…..not regarding something as important as knowing the one true, living God.

    Sadly, most Mormons, based on my time spent with them, do not really understand much more than what is fed to them. Their understanding of the historic Christian faith is limited and taught in such a way that they perceive they are being taught accurately. Their knowledge and understanding is tightly controlled within a safe environment and searching beyond that is not encouraged. It’s how they protect their own.

    In their defense, if Christians did as good a job at educating their own flock as the Mormons do in theirs (with what they want them to know), our own Christian faith would be so much stronger. It would give people like Rick much less to comment on. I am sad that our own Christian churches have watered down the message of Christ to the point that people are confused and have to look beyond the substance of our faith to other faiths.

    Still, while I sympathize with people who are confused….and have walked that path with them before I honestly began to study, in the end, it doesn’t matter what I want to believe. It doesn’t matter what feels good. What matters is that I believe accurately…and in the right God…the one and only true God. The god of Mormonism is not the same God of the historic Christian faith. No one more than I would like to say that it is….

    Sadly, Seth is right. So many Christian denominations/sects do the historic Christian faith a disservice. I don’t blame others for their sarcasm in regard to how some churches in Christendom represent our faith. I don’t even blame them for wanting to be a Mormon because our own Christian churches are in part responsible for their arrival on Mormon shores. That however, does not mean that they have arrived at a place where truth is taught….because they haven’t….sadly. To base eternity on speculation is not something I want to risk.

    I love the Mormon people dearly because they are kind, sincere and reliable. Again, that just isn’t enough to base a faith in God on. When you dig honestly and deeply into their scriptures, the contradictions are glaring.

    Most of my Mormon friends would not dream of leaving their church, not necessarily because of the doctrine, but because of the community they have. Community is valuable, but it is not a saving faith. However, there is fear, especially among women that they just might not be invited into heaven one day. Years ago, I remember reading about the suicide rate in Utah for women. One of the highest in the country….at that time.

    God showed me so many things when I was searching within the Mormon faith (with the intention of joining it because I deeply desired to do so…). He showed me He was faithful to teach me truth from error. He did so in a factual, human way..with substance….in ways that I could not deny. The contradictions were right there before my eyes. No longer could I do what I wanted. No longer could I ignore that fact that the Mormon faith is not compatible with Christianity.

    Most Mormons I know do believe they are Christians. I don’t think we can put all Mormons in a box and say all of them are going to hell. Just can’t do it. I wish other Christians would stop doing this. Many Mormons know do seem to understand Jesus….most do not. Some get brave and look outside the Mormon box. I’m going to leave this up to God. He already has a plan for them ….before the beginning of the World, He chose us.

    God used Mormonism in my life to find truth….He can do so for others. The trick is being willing to recognize truth when you see it….even if it doesn’t gel with what you want to believe.

    So, that’s my contribution. I could get technical and be specific about the thousands of contradictions and false beliefs I personally uncovered. I could comment how a “burning in one’s bosom” really has no substance to it, nor is it an indication that the Mormon god is true. I could comment on all the prophecies that did not come true in the early years of the church (which Deut. says is NOT OK.) God’s truth is constant and has not changed. It’s US that tries to change it and mold it into our box. Humans like to play god, but they will never be God.

    This will be my only comment because this particular audience doesn’t appear to play fair and I just don’t have the time to argue with people who like to argue for the sake of arguing.

    Someone who really wants to learn? I have all the time in the world for them. I would have loved for someone to do this for me when I was going through my personal search. Honest seeking is valuable. Most people don’t seek honestly.

    At least Mormons desire to have faith in what they believe is God. I can’t imagine how an atheist must feel. It must be very lonely to know that you will never be God, nor meet Him one day when your life is ended. I have a hope in God through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. It is a true hope. I know where I will be when my life is over. I can’t imagine what it must feel like to never feel the love of God reaching out to you. God’s sheep know this kind of love. It’s real and tangible….and amazing.

    Blessings to all of you. I hope your conversation will be honoring not only to God, but each other.

  25. Steve says:

    On Mormon polytheism:

    One of the things I always thought was interesting on the Mormon view of Jesus was whether or not they worshipped and prayed to Him.

    They no doubt worship and pray to God the Father. But Jesus……not so much.

    Here’s the dilemma: If a Mormon says that they worship and pray to Jesus then that is polytheism since they are worshipping and praying to two seperate gods. And that is polytheism.

    But if they say they don’t worship nor pray to Jesus {and this despite the NT references to worshipping and praying to Jesus} then they have a different problem. Trying to sell this very unBiblical concept to people.

    My sister always comes back with, “We pray in Jesus name!” But Jesus didn’t just say pray “in my name”.

    There are plenty of NT verses in which Jesus recieves worship and is prayed to. That’s where the LDS view of Jesus falters.

    She is a happy henotheist {believer in many gods, worshipper of one} as most Mormons are despite the monotheisim of the Bible.

    Anyhow, whenever I get a chance to speak with a Mormon and their view of God, I try and focus on Jesus and who He is since He is what its all about.

    • Nance says:

      I think that is a great strategy, Steve. Most Mormons, as you said, consider themselves Christian. I can worship a rock as Jesus Christ, but only a faith in the true Jesus of Scripture will save me. It is not loving to knowingly allow someone to believe a lie. We can continue to pray that all truth will be revealed and hearts will be open to receiving it. Their religion stands and falls on their false prophet (Joseph Smith), and he has been tested to be false.

  26. John Morales says:

    Nance, I hope you don’t consider RickrOll is a typical atheist commenter; we’re not all obnoxious and disruptive.

    I just want to say I’m sorry he’s poisoned the well, and that I think you’ve been charitable and tolerant beyond reasonable expectations.

  27. Seth R. says:

    Hi Nance,

    I’ve been kinda swamped this week and haven’t had a chance to drop in, but will try to address at least some of your points above.

    And for the record, no, I do not require “time alone” with Rick. I thought he was being a bit obnoxious myself (which isn’t saying anything about what parts of his argument I agree or disagree with).

  28. Nance says:

    I look forward to hearing from you, Seth. Have a super weekend!

  29. Seth R. says:

    Dang, what a mess.

    I made some cut and paste errors. So let me try to clean it up here:

    OK Nance, going back to your Dec. 10 comment (and ignoring the following unpleasantness)…

    I do believe in creation ex materia – which is required by Mormon scriptures.

    You provided some scriptural support for creation ex nihilo. So let’s go through it.

    In Gen 1:3 God commanded “Let there be light” and there was light, ex nihilo, since light came into existence where there was none.”

    This is not a logically necessary conclusion, but merely one way to read the text. God said “let there be light.” But this does not require ex nihilo.

    Consider for instance – what if God merely pulled the light from somewhere else and put it into the Genesis picture? What if the Genesis account only refers to the creation of this world, and not the beginning of the entire universe? There’s nothing stopping light from coming from somewhere else into the Genesis picture and God merely ordering it there.

    Next…

    In John 17:5 Jesus said, “and now Father, glorify Me in Your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.” If the world had a beginning then it obviously did not always exist, but the Godhead pre-existed.

    This depends on what you mean “begin” to mean.

    A painting has a beginning. But that does not mean that it appeared ex nihilo. The paints and canvas existed prior to the work of painting along with the painter. The mere word “begin” does not automatically force an ex nihilo meaning. The word is equally consistent with an ex materia meaning.

    Rom. 4:17 states, “God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were” affirms creation ex nihilo.”

    If God calls “things,” doesn’t that mean there were pre-existing things to “call” in the first place?

    “Col. 1:16 states, “For by him all things were created, things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible””

    Two words here – “created” and “invisible.” Neither of them demand creation ex nihilo. A painter “creates” a painting. But no ex nihilo there.

    and Rev. 4:11 says, “for You created all things and by Your will they were created and have their being.”

    If a painter paints a tree, that tree can be said to “have its being” by the painter’s will. It doesn’t mean that the tree came from nothing, but it owes the MODE of its existence to the painter.

    This is consistent with the Mormon understanding – which holds that God organized our spirits from pre-existing material.

    “If they had a beginning, it follows that they did not exist prior to a beginning. Hence, God created ex nihilo, out of nothing.”

    Beginning, as I have already noted, does not necessarily mean “out of nothing.” Existence is full of stages – which all have “beginnings.”

    What beginning does the Mormon account of creation have in mind?

    Mormon scripture holds that all matter is eternal – it is simply the FORM or STATE of that matter that changes. It also holds that all human beings have a primitive state called “intelligence.”

    What God did in Genesis, is take this pre-existing material and organize it into the forms described in the Genesis account. Thus the creative process most certainly did have a “beginning.” But this does not imply ex nihilo.

    This is actually consistent with the original Hebrew word in Genesis 1. The Hebrew word for “create” in Genesis 1 is “bara.” Create is an accurate enough translation, but the word also means to divide. Which is consistent with the Mormon usage – organize. It is also consistent with the ancient Hebrew folklore that holds God created/divided a space amidst the pre-existing chaotic “waters” to make space for the earth. It also speaks of God breaking the firmament (the dome the ancient Hebrews believed covers the earth and holds back the surrounding water) and letting the water fall upon the earth.

    Bara occurs in other places in the Old Testament. In each case, it is equally consistent with the idea of “divide.” A clear instance is in Joshua where his men chop down (”bara”) trees.

    Thus, the ancient Hebrew idea of creation written in our current Bible, actually seems closer to the Mormon view than the traditional Christian view.

    It is not a creation out of nothing, but rather a creation (organization) from pre-existing material.

    Sorry about the goof. If you could delete the previous comment and leave this one, that might avoid confusion.

    • Nance says:

      Seth-
      I want to continue this discussion, but I have a final exam Wed. and the usual Holiday business bearing down on me this week. I hope to reply by Thursday. Thank you for your thoughtful and honest responses. One thing I can address quickly is that you keep saying that you believe in the God of the Bible, but your prophets wrote many things contrary to what the Bible describes as God, not to metion that they contradict each other. Refer to the quotations in my article. So do you agree with your prophets or do you agree with Scripture? I think I asked this before, perhaps you missed it.

  30. Seth R. says:

    Steve, as to whom we pray to.

    We pray to the Father in the name of the Son.

    But Father and Son are one unified God for Mormons.

    Let me give an imperfect real-life example.

    My wife and I strive for a united front for the children. If my wife says something, I want my kids to know that that is my opinion as well. If I tell the kids to do something, it’s the same as if mommy told them to do it. And we never contradict each other (did I mention this is an ideal?). Perfect unity. One authoritative entity. Or at least, that’s what we shoot for.

    Mormon doctrine holds that the Oneness of the Father, Son and Spirit is a Oneness of purpose, not substance. They are distinct persons who are one in purpose.

    But that analogy really sells the idea short and doesn’t correctly explain just how radically unified the members of the “Godhead” are.

    Father, Son and Spirit in Mormon theology are so unified that they literally inhabit each others’ minds. To know the thoughts and desires of one is to know the thoughts and desires of all. The technical theological term (not of Mormon invention) is “perichoresis.” A perfectly unified indwelling in love.

    Son and Spirit partake in the divinity of the Father and participate in it. That is where their divinity flows from – the Father. But by participating in it, they are truly One with the Father.

    Three separate persons in substance, One in purpose, will, thought and desire.

    Thus, Mormons worship One God – which Jesus is a part of.

    This view is actually consistent with an idea that has been floating around among Christian theologians for some time. It’s called “Social Trinitarianism.” It calls for a radical unity, in love, of purpose and thought such that to know the mind of one is to know the mind of the others.

    You could very much say that Mormonism is Social Trinitarian (although some individual Mormons are actually tri-theist). We believe in a God united through perichoresis. But we reject the notion that they must be “one substance” as an extra-Biblical concept that caters more to the artificial needs of neo-Platonic philosophy rather than the true God.

    Why is the Mormon oneness not enough?

    And to take it further, why can that oneness not be extended to other beings? Why cannot all of us unite with the Father through this perichoresis just as Jesus did? Jesus, who claimed to be the one to show us the way to the Father.

    No inconsistency in the doctrine (even if individual Mormons, like Steve’s sister, do not fully know how to explain it). We pray to the Father. Jesus, the Son, explicitly instructed that all glory honor and worship be directed to the Father – “why call thou me good? There is none good, but my Father who is in heaven.”

    We pray to One God – which Jesus Christ fully participates in.

  31. Seth R. says:

    I believe that my prophets agree with scripture. Which I suppose I’ll have to explain later.

    Best.

  32. Steve says:

    Seth,

    Many, many years ago when I was seriously considering joining the LDS church I asked a question that the elders I was speaking with had a difficult time answering. They hemmed and hawed {which was at least as disconcerting as their eventual answer} until they answered in the negative.

    My question to them was “are you a monotheist?”

    Is there one single entity that is God in Mormon theology?

    You say that they Mormon God is unfied in purpose & etc but not substance, so that seems to indicate there are two {or more} Gods in LDS thinking?

    Joseph Smith thought they two were when he saw two personages {God & Jesus} in his first vision, if I recall correctly.

    Further one of the blessings of the LDS doctrine Exaltation is that those who receive it “will become gods”. “They will have everything that our Heavenly Father and Jesus Chrsit have – all power, glory, dominion, and knowlegde.” {Gospel Principles p302}

    Now that’s kind of a curious doctrine to have if there is only one god.

    Btw, Gospel Principles for those who don’t know is an offical LDS publication. This is what they use to teach converts and it is on the official LDS website {LDS.org}in full.

    Why is the Mormon oneness not enough? Because biblically there is one God. One in purpose AND substance.

    And the mormon “oneness” is not really talking about “one God” but multple Gods acting, thinking, agreeing as “one”. It’s not the same thing.

    Seth, you wrote that, “Jesus, the Son, explicitly instructed that all glory honor and worship be directed to the Father…”

    But the fact is that Jesus was worshipped in the NT and He was also prayed to in the NT. He never corrected those who did either. He accepted both.

  33. Seth R. says:

    I’d appreciate some scripture cites on Jesus being prayed to or worshiped and why you think that we ought to do likewise.

    Be that as it may, I’ve already told you that Mormons worship a unified One God. If both are perfectly unified in purpose, then what’s the big deal. Only one will is governing the universe, so why does it matter?

    The central purpose of monotheism is having one entity governing the universe – so Mormons qualify there, no sweat.

    The idea of the Father, Son and Spirit being “one substance” makes absolutely zero sense. You’re either the same, or you’re different. You can’t be both without violating the law of non-contradiction.

    Whatever other reservations you may have about a unity of purpose and will, at least it makes logical sense. Which is more than you can say about this weird Greek substance thing you inherited from Plato.

    Same substance simply doesn’t make any sense without resorting to modalism.

    I can tell you that in Mormonism there are different meanings of “god.”

    It can refer either to the personified God the Father, or it can refer to the unified entity that governs creation – which multiple beings can be a part of. But either way, you have one entity in charge. So it’s all good.

  34. Nance says:

    Scriptures referring to Christ receiving worship:

    The Hebrew scriptures forbid worshiping anyone other than YHWH. Ex. 20:1-4 and Deut. 5:6-9

    The New Testament affirms this when humans and angels refused worship. Acts 15:15 and Rev. 22:8-9

    But Jesus accepted worship in Matt. 8:2, Matt. 9:18, Matt. 14:33, Matt. 15:25, Matt. 20:20, Mark 5:6. The disciples worshiped him after the resurrection in Matt. 28:17 and John 20:28.

    Not only did Jesus accept worship reserved only for God without rebuking them, But he commended those who acknowledged his deity.

    John 20:29 “After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.”

    Matt. 16:17 “Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven.”

    I continued my article comparing the God of the Mormon and the God of Christianity specifically addressing the issue of the Trinity. This post addresses some of your claims.

    https://womenintheword.wordpress.com/2008/12/19/mormonism-vs-christianity-part-two/

  35. Steve says:

    Seth, sorry for not getting back sooner but with the “holidaze” it was not possible.

    I see that Nance has posted some Scripture that has Jesus being worshipped. I’ll just cite a few

    MT 14:33 And those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, “You are certainly God’s Son!

    MT 28:9 And behold, Jesus met them and greeted them. And they came up and took hold of His feet and worshiped Him

    MT 28:17 When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful

    LK 24:50-52 And He led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them. While He was blessing them, He parted from them and was carried up into heaven. And they, after worshiping Him, returned to Jerusalem with great joy

    In Acts 9:3-17 we see that Paul and Ananias both spoke to the Lord Jesus. And what is prayer if it is not speaking to God?

    Acts 9:3-17: and he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”

    And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” And He said, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting,

    but get up and enter the city, and it will be told you what you must do.”

    The men who traveled with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one.

    Saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing; and leading him by the hand, they brought him into Damascus.

    And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank.

    Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and the Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.”

    And the Lord said to him, “Get up and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying,

    and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him, so that he might regain his sight.”

    But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he did to Your saints at Jerusalem;

    and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name.”

    But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel;

    for I will show him how much he must suffer for My name’s sake.”

    So Ananias departed and entered the house, and after laying his hands on him said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road by which you were coming, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”

    And Stephen prayed to Jesus as he was stoned in Acts 7:54-60

    Now when they heard this, they were cut to the quick, and they began gnashing their teeth at him.
    But being full of the Holy Spirit, he gazed intently into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God;

    and he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened up and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”

    But they cried out with a loud voice, and covered their ears and rushed at him with one impulse.

    When they had driven him out of the city, they began stoning him; and the witnesses laid aside their robes at the feet of a young man named Saul.

    They went on stoning Stephen as he called on the Lord and said, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!”

    Then falling on his knees, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them!” Having said this, he fell asleep.

    And of course there is Jn 14:13-14 “Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that (U)the Father may be glorified in the Son.

    “If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.

    Why should we worship and pray to Jesus? Because He is our Savior and our God.

    I understand that the Mormons worship a “unified One God”, but I can’t agree that “the central purpose of monotheism is having one entity governing the universe.”

    That’s more like henotheism.

    Monotheism is the belief that there is one God and one God alone.

    Mormons believe that there a more than one God. And in fact they believe that if they are obedient to the Mormon gospel they too can become gods.

    So at best the LDS are henotheistic – belief in mulitple gods but only praying to and worshipping one main god.

    And that I imagine is why the LDS do not worship nor pray to Jesus Christ even though that is clearly Biblical

  36. Seth R. says:

    Good list of scriptures. I think they are compelling for the case you are making that the Son is an object of worship as well as the Father.

    Upon a bit of reflection, I think I may have been representing Mormon worship incorrectly. Here’s a passage from “Mormon Doctrine” under the heading “Worship”:

    “The Father and the Son are the objects of all true worship. ‘Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.’ No one can worship the Father without also worshiping the Son. ‘All men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth no the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him.’ (John 5:23) It is proper to worship the Father, in the name of the Son, and also to worshp the Son. ‘Believe in Christ, and deny him not; and Christ is the Holy One of Isreal; wherefore ye must bow down before him, and worship him with all your might, mind, and strength, and your whole soul; and if ye do this ye shall in nowise be cast out.” (2 Nephi 25:16, 29)

    Bruce R. McConkie, “Mormon Doctrine” pp. 848.

    McConkie wrote this book as an apostle. It should not be taken as anything more than a commentary on doctrine, and not a source of Mormon doctrine itself (despite it’s ambitious title). But I find the argument here compelling. The passage quoted from the Book of Mormon is almost even more compelling for the assertion that Jesus is an object of worship than the New Testament passages. I think it is clear that Christ should be worshiped.

    So, what about what I said earlier. I would simply say that any suggestion that the Son is not to be worshiped was a mistake on my part. I think what happened was that I was preoccupied with the commonly stated Mormon idea that we should not “pray to Jesus” but rather to the Father in the name of the Son.

    In making this distinction, I wasn’t very careful in my terminology and categories, and got a few things mixed up or was simply sloppy in presenting it. So apologies for that.

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