Classic Mormonism

I’ve been reading The Plan of Salvation: Understanding Our Divine Origin and Destiny by Matthew B. Brown (Covenant Communications, 2007). I’m not finished reading it yet, but the opening section, “Where Did I Come From,” favorably impresses me. Identified on the book jacket as a “respected gospel scholar,” Mr. Brown has written ten non-fiction books, and authored numerous articles and lectures for the LDS apologetics organizations FAIR and FARMS (now the Neal A. Maxwell Institute of Religious Scholarship).

The reason Mr. Brown’s The Plan of Salvation impresses me is the book’s straightforward presentation of classic Mormon doctrine. Consider some section headings and quotes included in just the first seven pages of Chapter 1:

[To the question “Is God my Father?”] “President George Q. Cannon answers, ‘Yes. God has revealed it, that we are literally His children, His offspring;…that He begot us;…we are his children descended from Him!'” (p. 7)

“The enormous potential of each of God’s offspring was referred to in an official statement made by the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This statement, which was prepared in 1909, reads in part: ‘Man is the child of God, formed in the divine image and endowed with divine attributes, and even as the infant son of an earthly father and mother is capable in due time of becoming a man, so the undeveloped offspring of celestial parentage is capable, by experience through ages and eons, of evolving into a god.'” (p. 8 )

“THE ORIGIN AND NATURE OF GOD…God the Father is an exalted man.” (p. 8 )

“God [the Father] had a progenitor.” (p. 9; brackets added for clarification)

“Elder Orson Pratt taught this very same doctrine. He said, ‘We were begotten by our Father in Heaven; the person of our Father in Heaven was begotten on a previous heavenly world by His Father; and again, He was begotten by a still more ancient Father; and so on, from generation to generation, from one heavenly world to another still more ancient.'” (p. 9)

“God Has Experienced Mortality. Joseph Smith told the Saints in Nauvoo, Illinois, ‘[I am] going to tell you how God came to be God. We have imagined that God was God from all eternity. These [concepts] are incomprehensible to some but are the first principle[s] of the gospel — to know that we may converse with Him as one man with another and that He was once as one of us and was on a planet as Jesus was in the flesh.'” (p. 10; brackets retained from the original]

“A statement made by President Joseph F. Smith is the most explicit to be found on this topic. He said, ‘The Son, Jesus Christ, grew and developed into manhood the same as you or I, as likewise did God, His Father, grow and develop to the Supreme Being that He now is. Man was born of woman; Christ, the Savior, was born of woman; and God, the Father, was born of woman.'” (p. 11)

“God Has Received Temple Ordinances…Wilford Woodruff informed the Latter-day Saints of his day that God the Father ‘had His endowments long ago; it is thousands and millions of years since He received His blessings.'” (p. 12)

“God the Father has a divine Spouse. Elder Erastus Snow taught that ‘there can be no God except He is composed of the man and woman united, and there is not in all the eternities that exist, nor ever will be, a God in any other way. …There never was a God, and there never will be in all [the] eternities, except they are made of these two component parts; a man and a woman, the male and the female.'” (p. 13; ellipsis and brackets retained from the original)

“God Has Been Resurrected…President Brigham Young alluded to this same precept [that God the Father had laid down His life and took it up again just as Jesus Christ did]: ‘The Father, after He had once been in the flesh, and lived as we live, obtained His exaltation, attained to thrones, gained the ascendancy over principalities and powers, and had the knowledge and power to create — to bring forth and organize the elements upon natural principles. This He did after His ascension, or His glory, or His eternity, and was actually classed with the Gods, with the Beings who create, with those who have kept the celestial law while in the flesh, and again obtained their bodies. Then He was prepared to commence the work of creation, as the scriptures teach.'” (p. 13; brackets added for clarification)

When non-Mormons draw attention to many of these classic LDS doctrines or the quotes Mr. Brown has employed for support, Mormons accuse them of using unofficial sources or pulling the quotes out of context. Therefore, I sincerely thank Mr. Brown for his candor in presenting Mormonism. It’s refreshing to see a “respected gospel scholar” offering the same information that critics of Mormonism have long detailed, albeit for a different purpose.

It would be great if every person thinking about joining the LDS Church could read this book (or at least the first section) before making his or her decision regarding membership — because there’s a lot more to Mormonism than skateboarding and Family Home Evening. Proverbs 20:25 says, “It is a snare for a man to say rashly, ‘It is holy!’ And after the vows to make inquiry.” There is a wealth of wisdom in those words.

About Sharon Lindbloom

Sharon surrendered her life to the Lord Jesus Christ in 1979. Deeply passionate about Truth, Sharon loves serving as a full-time volunteer research associate with Mormonism Research Ministry. Sharon and her husband live in Minnesota.

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37 Responses to Classic Mormonism

  1. f_melo says:

    "When non-Mormons draw attention to many of these classic LDS doctrines or the quotes Mr. Brown has employed for support, Mormons accuse them of using unofficial sources or pulling the quotes out of context."

    Why would mormons have a problem with anyone spreading their doctrine and beliefs? Isn´t that what they go through the temple for, to become gods like their HF did before them? Why would any of them find those quotes offensive and accuse the critics of misrepresenting the church? On the contrary, they should be glad for all the free publicity they receive from the "anti"-mormons.

    Anyone who has left mormonism knows that that´s exactly what the church teaches, and that´s talked about in classes and even testified about from the pulpit. I´ve heard countless times people bearing their testimonies of how glad they were that thanks to Jesus they one day could become a god with their own families and to be able to generate spirit-children, etc.

    "evolving into a god"

    That´s a pretty disturbing idea… evolution of man? I was taught in the Church that the seven days of creation were actually seven periods of time, and since the scriptures take the back seat when it comes to doctrine, you can pretty much believe in evolution with no problem – and if the hard questions are asked, you can always say "this is not important to my salvation".

    "had the knowledge and power to create"

    That "creation" BY refers to has nothing to do with Biblical creation, it´s a creation in the same sense that an architect "creates" a house, a garden, etc. He takes stuff that already exists and organizes it.

    "to bring forth and organize the elements upon natural principles"

    That brings me back to the last Article – once again we see mormon leaders saying that natural laws are above god, he has to submit to it even though supposedly those should have been created by he himself. The Bible makes it clear that God created everything there is.

  2. Hail says:

    Man was born of woman; Christ, the Savior, was born of woman; and God, the Father, was born of woman.

    That makes no sense.

    God has revealed it, that we are literally His children, His offspring;…that He begot us;…we are his children descended from Him

    This sounds like a throwback to ancient Egyptian religion, in which the pharoahs claimed to be descended from gods.

  3. This book kind of reminds me of Bruce Mc's Mormon Doctrine.
    In the Original MD Bruce claims to have used sources like BY, and other highly respected LDS teachers. I wonder if they will decide to pull this book or have LDS start claiming we just dont understand. I would like to hear from some TBM like Ralph.

  4. falcon says:

    There's a socio-linguist by the name of Debra Tannen who wrote a book titled, "You Just Don't Understand". It preceded "Men are from Mars Women are from Venus"and was a researched work dealing with the difference in communication between men and women. It's like cultural cross-communication when Christians present what they see as the doctrines of Mormonism. We could repeat it word for word after them, repeating their own words exactly and they would say, "You're getting it wrong".
    See the problem isn't that as Christians we get it wrong (about Mormon doctrine), it's that we don't believe it. Now Mormons seem to think that because we don't believe it, we don't understand it. If we just understood it, we'd believe it! There is no understanding it in Mormonism any way; it's all about "feeling" it. That is getting the shakes, tingles, hot flashes and other physical/emotional responses that verify that Mormonism is true and that Joseph Smith was a chosen prophet of God.
    Mormonism isn't off just a little bit, it's way off and is embraced, no matter how bizarre and contradictory, because the believers love the illusion.

  5. wyomingwilly says:

    It's kind of refreshing to see a contemporary Mormon author be as open about the "unique" doctrines
    of his religion. It seems he's not trying to deny, or deflect away from the teachings of past Mormon
    general authorities. Now if only the Mormon Missionaries would be as direct.

    ww

  6. clyde says:

    Here is a good joke to lighten things up.
    A man went to talk to God face to face and said 'I can create living things just like you can.'
    So God said 'Okay go ahead."
    The man started gathering dirt and God said ' Get your own dirt thats mine."
    It seems to me that we are not understanding each other. When Jesus says I go to my God and your God and my Father and your Father, We should realize that without a good background neither one of us may see the others point of view. Certain scriptures when put together can form an idea that satifies a person idea about God. these are building blocks that have taught people well. The word, the word was with God then the word was God along with other verses are part of a building block that helps with the idea of the trinity. the other verse does not. As for the joke I see nothing wrong with man using the dirt.

  7. falcon says:

    WW,
    What a great observation your last sentence is and might I say, a "revelation". Why do Mormons think they have to hide their history and doctrine not only from prospects but their own members? Well it's because it's embarrassing and the average prospect would be totally turned-off from the whole sordid mess. Mormonism is built on lies, it's really that simple. Starting with Joseph Smith right up until today the foundation of Mormonism is deceit. The built in fail-safe excuse for not revealing the Mormon doctrine to a prospect is that the person needs to grow spiritually before they can be exposed to the doctrine and practices of Mormonism. This stuff is really deep and a person must be fully seduced by the mind control tactics of the cult before being exposed to all the goodies.
    Andy Watson made his way to a Mormon establishment in his area after seeing a flyer for an open house which read, "We believe just like you. We just don't worship the cross." This is very interesting on at least two levels. First of all Mormons don't believe the same as Christians and secondly Christians don't worship the cross. The former claim is just flat out subterfuge to hook people into coming to the event and the second is just plain ignorance. When Andy went to the event he went to each of the stations that were set-up and couldn't get anyone to engage him in a discussion of Mormonism. All they wanted to do was talk about their "programs". It all caused quite a stir as they hauled in a couple of missionaries and I do believe even the bishop made an appearance at one point.
    This is all part of the attempts of the Mormon church to seduce people by not being straight regarding their core beliefs and practices. Andy says that it's almost impossible to get a Mormon to engage you in any meaningful conversation these days.
    Why are Mormons so ashamed of what they believe?

  8. wyomingwilly says:

    falcon, I don't think the Mormon hierarchy are going to allow the Missionaries to be as up front
    with admitting to these doctrines, as Mr Brown has done in his book. The convert rate would
    suffer significantly .

    ww

  9. falcon says:

    I'm very much a first amendment guy, believing strongly in the free exercise of religion, without government interference. However in my weaker moments I wish that there were a "truth in proselytizing" law much like the truth in lending laws we have governing the lending of money. The latter is to protect people from the hidden costs some unscrupulous lender might add on to a loan without the person obtaining the loan knowing about it. In my fantasy of a law dealing with proselytizing, I imagine religious folks to be upfront and honest regarding their most basic beliefs. No bait and switch, no skirting the issues and no blowing clouds of smoke around, love bombing people into joining a religious sect.
    Mormons for example, would have to explain to a prospect exactly who they say god is, in detail. They would also have to come clean regarding what a prospect is required to do in order to reach the top of the Mormon heap on the way to becoming a god.
    Quite frankly, I don't know how many temple Mormons there are out of the total number carried on the membership rolls of the Mormon church. Since we know that two-thirds of the membership is inactive, we get down to one-third. Then we can begin to think about how many of that one-third are worthy to participate in the rituals that are claimed to result in a person becoming a god. That might be something that a prospect might be interested in knowing.
    It seems that the Mormon church just holds their collective breath in the hope that a prospect doesn't find these things out. As it is, there are so many Mormons jumping ship that if the information was made available there wouldn't be too many people on the ship to begin with.

  10. Clyde,
    The original joke goes like this. Man feels he no longer needs God, Man feels he is now equal to God, so a bunch of scientists want to have a man making contest with God. God says sure I will do that. So when man grabs some dirt, God tells them to get their own. Now the story is this, Man needs God, God created dirt, then created us out of dirt, We as humans cannot create something out of nothing like God can. Also you said

    I see nothing wrong with man using the dirt.

    I do. God said dont use it, so if God says dont do it and you say, theirs nothing wrong with doing….
    Then your saying to disobey God.

  11. clyde,

    Sorry, you lost me. What are you trying to say?

  12. Sharon quotes Matthew Brown

    as likewise did God, His Father, grow and develop to the Supreme Being that He now is.

    …except that he isn't.

    He cannot possibly be the "supreme" being as long as Heavenly Father's Father is around, not to mention the Father's Father's Father, or even the Father's Father's Father's Father, who are all superior to the "supreme" being.

    Heck, why are we even bothering with this drivel? It has absolutely zero relation to what the Bible teaches, especially when it talks about God the Father and God the Son and us as the Children of God.

    It makes me mad that such appalling rubbish is slopped out by an organization that calls itself a "church", and they even market this garbage as "Gospel" with the promise of "salvation". It's only there because the vain rantings of a pathological snake-oil salesman (Joseph Smith) and his successors, who have no empathy or understanding with what the Biblical Authors were writing about.

    Forget the speculative nonsense of Mormonism. If there is one word that might possibly point someone in the right direction when considering God he Father, God the Son and our relationship with Him, then I suggest it is this; inheritance. The Good News (the "real" Gospel), is that we can change it.

  13. falcon says:

    Martin,
    I'm getting worried. You're starting to sound like me or like I imagine I sound like with both the written and unwritten thoughts that shoot through my mind. You're "….why are we even bothering with this drivel" and "It has absolutely zero relation to what the Bible teaches…." echos my sentiments exactly. I also like "….such appalling rubbish.." and "….the speculative nonsense of Mormonism….." Such passion and fire plus the words I hope, wakes-up some of our Mormon readers. I often think that maybe I'm a little bombastic but I just can't contain my emotions when it appears to me so simple for someone to uncover the truth or at the very least be accurate.
    I'm wondering what would be included in a top ten list of things a person should know before they consider joining the Mormon church. I hear over and over again about people not knowing about the Mormon view on the nature of God until they were well into the organization. This, for example, appears to be a pattern and not just an isolated occurrence. Does it get any more basic than what a religion believes about the nature of God?
    BTW, I thought about you down-under when I saw the video of the flood over there. Hope the flood is receding and that your home is secure. I hear some people came home and there wasn't a home. They've lost everything.

  14. f_melo says:

    I have no clue. Somehow i think he thinks he´s proposing controversial questions that will stir up some sort of debate… but that´s just in his imagination.

  15. wyomingwilly says:

    Martin, you mentioned briefly about Mormonism's belief in, " Heavenly Father's Father", or in other
    words the heavenly GrandFather God. What's interesting about this belief is that even though Mormon
    leaders have preached on how fundamental of a role grand-parents play in the life of their children's
    children, there appears to be no counsel in helping LDS appreciate their heavenly Grand-parents.
    LDS are told it is proper to thank their Heavenly Father by telling him [prayer] how much His help is
    needed day to day, but why no expression of thanks to heavenly Grand- Father ? Equally as troubling
    is the counsel by LDS leaders to refraim from conversing with their Heavenly Mother. Are LDS content
    with this type of "family values " ? Is this really part of the "restored gospel " ?

  16. Falcon,

    LOL.

    I try to hold it back, but sometimes I just get cranky enough to say it.

    Seriously, though, I'd prefer to dial it down. Not because I don't think Mormonism is best described as "destined for land-fill" (and its cognates), but because I don't want the message received by Mormons to be wholly negative. I sincerely hope that there are Mormons out there who are genuinely looking to follow Jesus Christ. Their problem is that their leadership has put a road-block in their way, and we need to call it as such.

    The real Christ can be found. He just cannot be found in classic Mormonism.

  17. wyomingwilly says:

    That last reference from Brigham Young, that Sharon cited from Mr. Brown's book, is an incredible
    statement from a claimed prophet of God . Prophet Young taught his followers about the God who
    he served, he taught that it was his solemn duty as their spiritual leader to make sure that correct
    doctrine was passed on by him to the Saints. In the above quote from Mr. Brown's book the prophet
    says that Jesus' Father, like Him, lived on an earth, died, was resurrected and "then" he was prepared
    to commence the work of creation. If Jesus was/is the Creator of all, as described in the O.T., before
    His incarnation at Bethlehem, how could His Father only be able to commence creation until after He
    Himself was resurrected and became exalted ? Jesus warned us of future prophets who would serve up this
    type of spiritual food . Matt 7:15; 24:11 . The Mormon people deserve more accurate spiritual nourishment .

  18. miketea says:

    What a great observation. I do like Debra Tannen's work and it is good to see it put to such good insightful use.

  19. miketea says:

    Mormons wonder why we can get scratchy in dealing with them sometimes. This illustrates it for me. What Sharon describes and what this man has written about as classic Mormonism is what I believed as recently as the 1970's and 80's. Yet when I speak to Mormons today I don't recognise their planet nor they mine. I refute what they have never heard of and they insist on what I never believed. Not only is there more than one Mormon Church by dint of there being schisms, there is a Mormon Church for almost every generation.

  20. wyomingwilly says:

    falcon, I think a move that would benefit all parties involved would be for the First Presidency
    to appoint Mr. Matthew Brown as head of the Missionary Training Center.

    ww

  21. wyomingwilly says:

    Martin, you touched on a point that I believe rightly describes the vast majority of the Mormon people.
    It is that they are a sincere, decent people who are trying to please God in their religion. Unfortunately,
    they've been convinced by the sales techniques of the Missionaries that in order to please God and
    establish a right relationship with Him, they must submit to a modern day prophet. This prophet has
    proceeded to produce laws and doctrines that are claimed to be a part of the gospel of Jesus. Sadly though
    these teachings serve only as roadblocks which divert the people away from a full and unobstructed
    relationship with God that only Jesus can give. Heb.7:25

  22. Sarah says:

    When I brought up the issue of polytheism to a Mormon friend of mine (because of this example and also the ability to become gods example), she informed me there is no cause for calling it polytheism because there is only one god that she worships.

    So your idea above makes sense to me — why wouldn't they worship ALL gods, included the father of Heavenly Father, if they believe he has a father? — but to her that concept is completely foreign.

    Piggybacking off of that, actually, is this: Mormons don't believe that God the Father and Christ the son are one and the same God. Therefore, they are two gods. Do Mormons then not worship Jesus Christ our Lord? My Mormon friend only talks of praying to Heavenly Father; she says nothing of calling out to Christ in prayer. And yet isn't that Jesus? He says to call on HIS name. (Jesus.) Mormons are clearly missing the big picture.

  23. wyomingwilly says:

    Sarah, your friend , with her own idea of worshipping only one God in a three god "Godhead " with
    each of them being Almighty Gods , is silly. You might ask her if she claims to have a daily personal
    relationship with the living Lord Jesus how that is possible without communicating with Him.? You
    might also ask her if she loves her Heavenly Father and shows her appreciation to Him by thanking
    Him in prayer, why does'nt she do this towards her Heavenly Mother.? Nothing could be more normal
    and proper. ww

  24. falcon says:

    Sarah,
    That's a game Mormons play; that "we only worship one god" alibi. Jim Spencer says that we can't let them get away with thinking that because they contend that they "worship" one god that they are not polytheistic. The point is that if a person acknowledges that there is more than one god, they are polytheists. They may as well be Hindus.
    Who do Mormons think they are fooling besides themselves with this worship one god nonsense. That's just one more reason why Mormons are viewed as being dishonest and as engaging in double-talk and misdirection. The Mormons' thinking process makes allowances for all kinds of mind games where by they actually convince themselves of these preposterous notions. But they don't care because it allows them to continue believing the unbelievable. It doesn't have to make sense or in any way be logical.
    This is a spiritual battle.

  25. clyde says:

    Rick the hammer had a better version of the joke. My Idea was this. Was the dirt there already or did God make the dirt. It seem to me that when christian say God created they mean everything. When mormons say God created they mean God organized everything. Another way to say it would be created without limits-made everything-or created with limits-the materials already there. In Sharon's blog she notes from the book-by experience through ages and eons they become god. Must be a long long time.

  26. Sarah asked

    Do Mormons then not worship Jesus Christ our Lord?

    No.

    This is an issue that is really important to me, because the most robust definition I have derived for what it means to be "Christian" (in the Biblical sense of the word) is that Christians worship Christ. It works for all stripes, but it is the one thing all Christians are united in (and that's how it should be). That's why I keep asking Mormon posters this question, though I have never got a straight answer out of them. Not once.

    Worship. No, not just say Jesus is a good example, or to hold to what may be his teachings or values, or to simply honor him as a hero of faith. But actually worship him as the One (and there is only One). Why? Because that's what the first Christians did. And they should know.

    So, it's OK for someone who says he or she is not a Christian to not worship Christ (they're wrong, but at least they're honest about their position). However, it is wholly unacceptable, and downright repugnant, for a movement to not worship Christ and yet claim to be a restoration of "true" Christianity.

  27. falcon says:

    So it's a very simple prospect really. Mormons don't advertise what they believe because people think it's weird! There will always be a certain small segment of the population that will believe Mormonism. But then there is a small segment of the population that believe in zombies, extra-terrestrials, psychic healing, UFO abductions, and a variety of conspiracy theories including any number about the assassination of JFK. It's just the way it works.
    I had some friends who did human sexuality seminars for Catholic middle school and high school students. They reported to me that their abstinent based approach worked well for the students that were heading in that direction. The behavior of students that were going in the other direction opposite of the message of abstinence got worse as the result of the training. The same thing happens with the DARE program taught to fifth graders to get them to resist taking drugs (in the future). I just saw an article today about how people who are holding a strong belief that vaccinations cause autism won't give it up despite the fact that the research claiming this was fraudulent and that the science doesn't prove a link.
    Who can account for why some people continue to buy the Joseph Smith hoax despite all of the evidence that he, his claims, his personal moral failures, and the whole program from beginning to end clearly debunk the myth? It's the strong emotion of desire that captivates some folks.
    But it's also a very clever presentation that leaves out the salient features and facts about Mormonism that ropes people in. The Mormonism that people accept is not Mormonism as practiced. So it's good to see someone, as the article above points out, present classical Mormonism. Now why doesn't the Mormon church distribute this book along with the free copies of the BoM?

  28. f_melo says:

    "falcon, I think a move that would benefit all parties involved would be for the First Presidency
    to appoint Mr. Matthew Brown as head of the Missionary Training Center."

    hahahahhaha – that would be simply awesome! Falcon is right about the brainwashing thing. When i left Mormonism i still attended church with my family a few times, and still do every now and then and when i hear their "Plan of Salvation" and how you can become gods, and how we are on earth as a part of a self-improvement program, etc, it just hurts my ears so bad – i can´t believe i actually took that stuff seriously.

    I Agree with you WW – if th missionaries were up front about their doctrines, almost nobody would join that crazy church. It would be even more awesome if Matthew Brown changed the "Preach My Gospel" Manual and put it there the doctrine of "blood atonement" in the first lesson – that would scare anyone away for good!

  29. f_melo says:

    " In my fantasy of a law dealing with proselytizing, I imagine religious folks to be upfront and honest regarding their most basic beliefs"

    How can a government exercise such a law when all you see them doing is the exact same thing? It´s rare to see a politician living by those principles you want them to enforce on religion.

    That would be the most amazing day, if politicians and churches(not only cults, but Christian churches as well) would simply tell the truth. A lot of people can handle the truth contrary of what some of those men think – and the real reason they hold back the truth is to take advantage of people, to manipulate them. That simple.

  30. f_melo says:

    "I just saw an article today about how people who are holding a strong belief that vaccinations cause autism won't give it up despite the fact that the research claiming this was fraudulent and that the science doesn't prove a link"

    Falcon, i think you brought up an interesting point – the point being that you shouldn´t believe what you read or what people tell you just because it is written or someone says it. It´s rare to see anyone Mormon, Christian, Buddhist, Pagan, etc. actually taking the time to make a tiny bit of research and take the study of their religion and claims seriously – so what happens is what happens in every segment of society, you set yourself up to be deceived just because it "feels good", or because it gives you some sense of security, or whatever the reason someone can come up with.

    The same way mormonism won´t acknowledge their deceitful techniques that will convince people of their "truthfulness", nobody else that is scamming you will. Nobody should trust blindly in either a "prophet", a doctor, a politician, a general, a company, that claims that they know what´s best for you(i can cite countless examples of why). So, the important thing is to be able to actually go after the information yourself and make sure to understand(not just read through it) at least the basics, so that in case someone thinks you´re gullible and a great candidate to be taken advantage of tries to, you´ll be able to defend yourself and do really what´s best for you.

  31. falcon says:

    Dr. Walter Martin use to say, "Question everything some one tells you, even what I tell you". I've followed his advice. The shame of it is that all we're really dealing with here, as far as doctrine or even historical information is knowable. It's not that hard to access information. A simple google search will give people a variety of points of view and if a little checking is done, it's easy to figure out who's solid in their presentation and who's a flake.
    What is a little more difficult is sorting out someone's claim to supernatural experiences. Most of the time that's even pretty straight-forward but the evaluator has to be ruthless with getting at the truth. Too many religious types will simply accept at face value, claims of the miraculous. Most of the time this happens because the claims support what people want to believe in. I'm trying to remember the name of the guy who was the famous Mormon motivational speaker (was it Paul Dunn?) who would just fire up the troops with his fireside chats. As it turned out, the guy was embellishing his stories to a point where it was basically lies. A BYU professor narced him out and guess who got in trouble. Yes indeed, the prof.

  32. clyde says:

    Rick,
    You missed my point.
    God didn't say don't use it just get your own. I say man can use the because it is already there.

  33. Clyde,

    Seems like the "humor" didn't translate very well through the written medium. You asked

    Was the dirt there already or did God make the dirt?

    Whatever order you put the creation of things in, you'll always end up tracing it back to the God who was not created. He was there before the creation of everything (Gen 1:1, John 1:3 etc) (including time, according to Augustinian thought).

    Someone like me, who has to re-organize stuff that has existed before me, cannot be God, by definition. Neither can the "god" of Mormonism.

  34. clyde says:

    We all believe in God. Our definition of him is different. According to Augustinian thought He created everything including time then where did He come from-out of nothing. I don't believe this way. Does that hurt my salvation? I don't believe so. I believe there is a God and He sent his son to cover our sins. it might be like try to telling somebody that the national debt is either one quadrillion dollars or one trillion dollars each number is equally large and possibly equally incomprehensible.

  35. Brian says:

    Some very fine insight here, Mike. When witnessing, it is helpful to understand where an individual is at. This underscores some of the challenges we face when that individual is LDS.

    "A Mormon Church for almost every generation." Interesting. It makes sense this would be so. For if truth is the feeling I have, and my feelings change over time, then truth changes over time? A terribly sandy foundation.

  36. clyde asked

    where did He come from-out of nothing

    Here's the mystery that you've got to unravel – God didn't "come from" anywhere. He was there before everything else. Everything else "comes from" God. If it didn't, he wouldn't be God.

    I'd agree with you, though, that God is ultimately incomprehensible. He is stranger than we can possibly imagine, and our opinions make absolutely no difference whatsoever.

    However, the Bible gives us a starting point; like it puts us on the shore of an ocean that's incomprehensibly deep and wide. We can see the start of the ocean, but we cannot fathom it. It tells us a few things that God is not – like he is not created, he does not change, he was never less than he is now, and he will never be anything more (how can you increase something beyond the infinite?). Classic Mormon theology contends with all of this.

    Personally, I can just about cope with the idea that God is infinite, incomprehensible, transcending all that is created. What blows my mind are the Bible's audacious claims that we can know Him, and that this same God was fully present in the person of Jesus Christ, who was both fully and wholly God and fully and wholly human. It's something that I can just about describe, but I cannot explain it, and that's how it should be.

  37. clyde says:

    You say I can just about describe it but cannot explain it. I think that when we try to describe something we might over explain and end up just confusing people. If we say God worshipped a God who worshipped a God ad nauseum. We might forget why we are here. We do not know where in Gods geneological heirarchy we are. We know that He is a jealous God and he is the only God we deal with. We cannot get mad and say we are going to see grand pa God. We cannot get in our rocket ship that goes 6000 miles a minute and carry enough food to travel to the edge of the universe which lies 600 million light years away. It would take—well I will let you do the math Besides I am probably confusing people.

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