Mormon author Orson Scott Card recently wrote a piece in the Mormon Times called “Gospel has no place for ‘mysteries’ ” (10/14/2010). In his mind, Christians who use the word “mystery” when confronted with an issue that is impossible to understand are taking the low road. He believes that the high road is understanding how “’mysteries have no place in the gospel of Jesus Christ.” “In other words,” he writes, “when we Latter-day Saints confront a ‘mystery,’ we expect it, eventually, to be resolved…as the boundaries of our knowledge are extended.”
He makes light of Christians who try to understand the Incarnation, or how God became man, because Mormons believe “that human beings are not fundamentally different from God, since we all carry within us the divine potential, and God and Christ have behind them the experience of mortality.”
There we go again, the couplet “As man is, God once was” once more at the forefront in LDS theology. According to Card, this concept is not a mystery but a fact, and the idea that we have divine substance within us—the DNA of divinity is something we’re apparently born with—is just something he assumes.
Isn’t it the epitome of ignorance to say that “original Christianity, partaking of the Old Testament as well as the New, had no difficulty seeing God as manlike (and vice versa)”? Without supplying out-of-context proof-texts, the burden of proof remains on the Mormons’ shoulders, and too often they end up pointing to pagan philosophies, liberal theologians, or Eastern Orthodox thinking to support their case–to no avail. But lest the reader think that Card is advocating that Mormons understand everything, he writes, “Any Mormon who says ‘we have all the answers’ really doesn’t get it.”
My goodness, isn’t this exactly what Christians are saying when they use the word “mystery”? Certainly Christians understand that it’s impossible to grasp the concept of eternity, comprehend every nuance of the Trinity, or fully explain the sovereign will of God. Obviously an incomprehensible God cannot be fully understood by finite minds which are built with many limitations. But who says that God’s people won’t understand more in the next life as “mystery” becomes “knowledge” and we begin to see Him as He really is? Card’s argument sure smacks of the Straw Man logical fallacy.
His rant against “mystery” is meaningless tripe since he admits that Mormons also don’t have the answers to their mysteries. This can be seen at the end of the article when he writes, “The true statement is, ‘There are clear answers to all questions, and someday we will learn both the questions and the answers.’” If the questions are what Mr. Card needs, I can clear this part up with just a few questions about Mormonism of my own:
- Who was the first God? I’m not asking about Heavenly Father or the name of His God, but I’m searching for the one who started the whole domino effect. Wouldn’t it be nice if we knew that God’s name? Perhaps this is the God that ought to be worshipped.
- Which came first: the first God of all time or physical matter? It matters.
- Was God the Father once a sinner since He is “fundamentally” no different than we? If so, then why does God require so much from us if He failed before we did? Is God a hypocrite?
- How can God be “everlasting to everlasting God,” as Psalm 90:2 puts it, if He wasn’t always God, as Card advocates in his article?
- Will the oldest child on every God’s earth always be the Savior? Will that child’s brother always lead a third of the spirit brothers and sisters astray and be cast out of heaven? If so, that sure sounds like foreordination or election, a concept typically mocked in Mormonism.
- Moving away from the topic of God, how is it possible to “do all you can do”? I’m referring, of course, to 2 Nephi 25:23, which says we’re “saved by grace after all you can do.” Isn’t it possible that you could always do a little more than what you think your best allows? So please explain this concept in a way that isn’t contradictory.
I believe Mr. Card is hiding behind “mystery” more deeply than what he accuses Christians of doing. But perhaps there’s a Mormon reading this who would like to help make one of these mysteries a little less mysterious for the rest of us who are apparently baffled.