From the Mailbag (10/24/2011)

Thank you for taking the time to document exactly what it is Mormons believe verses the Bible. I am married to a Mormon. I am a Christian and stand firm by the tenets of the Faith exactly as you have listed them. What seems clear to me is like talking to someone from a foreign country. As you know they think we came from Heaven. He recently asked me where I came from and I was not able to give him a solid biblical answer. What do you suggest?

Hi Millie,

Thank you for your kind and encouraging words for the work we do here at Mormonism Research Ministry. I’m so glad you have found it helpful.

I’ll try to address your question. The Bible tells us that we were created by God for His sovereign purpose. God creates our physical bodies, and He creates our spirits as well.

Psalm 139:13-16 talks about God forming our “inward parts,” knitting our bodies together in our mother’s womb. Here we learn that God knew us–knew who He would create us, individually, to be, knew our birth dates and death dates — before He had yet made us.

Zechariah 12:1 tells us that God “formed the spirit of man within him.” That is, God creates the spirit and places it in the physical body that He has already created. (See 1 Corinthians 15:46 that says the natural [in this context we could say physical] precedes the spiritual.)

Isaiah 42:5 says that God created the heavens and the earth, and gives breath and life to the people who inhabit it.

Romans 4:17 says that God is the giver of life and “calls into existence the things that do not exist.” (See also Romans 11:36, Hebrews 11:3, Colossians 1:16 and Acts 17:24-25 which all reiterate that all things are created by God and He gives life and breath to mankind.)

The problem many Latter-day Saints have in understanding these biblical teachings is that they start with the premise that God did not/could not create the spirit of man. Joseph Smith taught, “The mind or the intelligence which man possesses is coequal with God himself…God never had the power to create the spirit of man at all…The first principles of man are self-existent with God. God himself, finding he was in the midst of spirits and glory, because he was more intelligent, saw proper to institute laws whereby the rest could have a privilege to advance like himself.” (King Follett Discourse, Journal of Discourses 6:6-7)

But the Bible teaches (and Christianity affirms) that God and mankind are not the same sort of beings. God is Creator, eternally self-existent, in need of nothing (Acts 17: 24-25, Psalm 90:2, John 1:1-5); man is created by God and helpless without Him (Psalm 100:3, Colossians 1:17). God is the source of all life; man is dependent on God for the life he has. Until God creates us, we do not exist anywhere (except in the mind of God, who knows all things).

So, the biblical answer to “Where did we come from?” is this: we came from God, the source of all life, who created us, body and spirit. As David so beautifully put it, “You formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” (Psalm 139:13-14)

I hope this will help. For greater understanding of the way Latter-day Saints defend the LDS doctrine of the preexistence and argue against the Christian position, you might find this article on the MRM website helpful:

http://www.mrm.org/topics/rebuttals-rejoinders/mormonism-201/pre-existence-wyatt

For questions on the Mormon use of biblical proof-texts, check out the sections in the above article titled “Biblical Considerations” and “Additional Biblical Evidence.”

Thanks again for your email, Millie. Please let me know if you have any questions or if there is anything more I can help you with. May the Lord shower His tender mercies upon you and your husband.

Leaning on Jesus,

Sharon

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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114 Responses to From the Mailbag (10/24/2011)

  1. TJayT says:

    Please forgive all the spelling errors in my last posts. I get pretty bad when I’m sleep deprived and I forgot to spell check last night

  2. grindael says:

    TjayT,

    If this is how you feel you can connect Christian divinization to Mormon “theosis”, than you present a weak case. As I explained (from the Bible), works has nothing to do with theosis, and Greek Orthodoxy presents a problem for Mormonism in that there can be no way the two ideas can have common ground.

    According to the Encyclopedic Dictionary of Religion, “Theosis in its orthodox form is the doctrine that man (or all creation) becomes God literally and intrinsically, but in a finite way, by participating in God’s activites (energy, energies) and characteristics without confusion of substance, hence without the loss of personal identity.” (Paul Kevin Meagher, Thomas C. O’Brien, and Sister Consuelo Maria Aherne, eds., Encyclopedia Dictionary of Religion, vol. O-Z (Washingtom DC: Corpus Publications, 1979), 3507.)

    We do participate in God’s activities (your synergy?), as an outflow of our changed nature. Again, it all comes down to if you believe that the works change the soul, or the soul is changed by taking on the nature of God by Grace and the Holy Spirit. The Bible teaches that it is the latter.

    Richard N. Ostling and Joan K. Ostling asked Yale professor emeritus Jaroslav Pelikan about the early church fathers and deification. They report: “Queried about whether the early church fathers support the Mormon doctrine of deification, Yale professor emeritus Jaroslav Pelikan pointed to his discussion and definition of theosis in his Gifford Lectures (1992-1993). In this, according to Pelikan, ‘It was an essential for theosis as it was for the incarnation itself not to be viewed as analogous to Classical Greek theories about the promotion of human beings to divine rank, and in that sense not to be defined by natural theology at all; on such errors they pronounced their ‘Anathema!'” (Ostling and Ostling, Mormon America, 312.)

  3. grindael says:

    Mormons, on the other hand, believe that men are actually the same species as God, and this in no way has any part in Greek Orthodoxy.

    “The idea of deification must be always understood in the light of the distinction between God’s essence and His energies. Union with God mean union with the divine energies, not with the divine essence. The Orthodox Church, while speaking of deification and union, rejects all forms of pantheism.” (Timothy Ware, The Orthodox Church)

    Mormons believe that they will literally become Gods in the same way that God is. This is in no way a part of the Greek Orthodox tradition. God is not a created being. We are His creation, not his “spirit children”, and the Greeks believe the former.

    Do the Greek Orthodox command to marry, as Mormons do? That it is necessary for divinization? That joining the “Holy Priesthood” is necessary for divinization?

    You are picking out some similarities in two radically different belief systems, and then trying to somehow think that they are the same. But you can’t get around the fact that Mormons believe that they can literally become Gods, the same as God Himself, that they are the same species. This is heresy to the Greeks, and rightfully so. _johnny

  4. grindael says:

    Vajda is no longer a “Father”. He converted to Mormonism. His views are not in line with Catholic thinking, and are easily refuted. Again, one can go to the Bible, to understand divinization, (as I have done above) for it is there. Mormons cherry pick the Church Fathers, misquote them, and the bottom line is Christian theosis, is nothing like what Mormonism teaches. There is no polytheism in any branches of Christianity. It is an insurmountable obstacle when dealing with this subject. _johnny

  5. Kate says:

    TJayT,
    Forgive me but I’m absolutely NOT interested in reading anything from BYU. I know how things are twisted and spinned. I understand Christian Theosis and I can easily see that you are cherry picking and twisting. This is nothing new to Mormonism. Joseph Smith was really good at cherry picking one verse or sentence, taking it out of context and then creating a whole doctrine around it. You said to Rick that Mormons defend their faith all the time. What do you think the Christians on this blog are doing? I don’t know if I’m reading you right because it’s hard sometimes to know exactly what the other person is meaning through written words, so I hope that I don’t offend you by saying that the Mormon cry of persecution is old and unmerited. Mormonism has attacked Christianity since day one and when Christians call Mormons out on the carpet for the blasphemous things said about their God or the claim that LDS Mormonism is the ONLY true Christianity then my goodness, that’s persecution and not Christian like. Why is it OK for Mormons to trash the Christian beliefs and doctrines (please don’t offend me by denying this, I saw nothing BUT this for 40 years) but Christians aren’t allowed to even question Mormon doctrines or beliefs without being called aunt tye’s??? Do you know how many Mormons have been killed for their beliefs? I have read that it is less than 50. Less than 50!!!! Mormons killed more than twice that many Christians in one day at Mountain Meadows. Christians are still being killed or tortured for their beliefs TODAY! This is persecution! Not someone questioning doctrines that have nothing whatsoever to do with Christianity but claims to be Christian.

  6. Rick B says:

    TJayT,
    Dont worry about offending me, It is a lot harder to do than people think. Also My way of speaking comes across harsh, but honestly it is not intended to be that way, it is just the way I speak. I speak bluntly and tell it like I see it, my way of speaking wont change any time soon.

    As far as being on this blog a long time, I have been on this blog before it started, I was answering the 50 or so questions that were posted before this blog started, then started on this blog from Day one.

    As to you saying Mormons defend their faith all the time, Maybe on other Blogs and websites were they wont be challenged, but hardly on this blog, as any non-LDS member, we rarely get answers to our questions and more times than not Topics go avoided by LDS. Just look over the past topics if you dont believe me. Show me where topics like this, or the newest one are filled with hard core replys from TBM. You cant, why is that? Because simply put, LDS have no answers.

    Take you time, go back and read the last 50 topics, or even skip the topics, just look at the replys, keep a list of how many time you seem me asking LDS where are you? Why are you not answering questions? Let me remind you of questions you missed that I asked? Just me alone will amaze you, but others also have asked over and over. LDS avoid subjects like the plague.

    Then I was not asking you how you felt about Mormons of old speaking to us, I was implying, You guys should follow their example since it is in Scripture, IE The BoM and it’s the (Cont)

  7. Rick B says:

    Prophets who said it and did it. My thing is why are you not like them? Bold and tell it like it is? Take it to us as they suggest. Also you said, you probably wont say anything I have not heard already. To me thats both a cop out and a judgment call upon me, assuming I heard it all before. Also even if I have, How do you know others here have not? That is why I keep talking, maybe the FEW LDS who reply here have heard it all before and really could care less, But their are many who come here and I never see them post, they quietly read and take it all in, So I do it for them.

    Then as I said before, Jesus said, Give every man an answer thats asks for the hopes that lies with in you. He did not say, If you think they heard it before then ignore them or dont tell them. So it’s these things that make me question the LOVE LDS dont seem to have for those lost and dying, or at least are lost and dying according to their Scripture.

  8. TJayT says:

    grindael

    I didn’t know Vajda had become Lds. I just thought it was a paper written by a Catholic that happened to have friendly views toward Mormonism, and that the site had just grabbed hold of it seeing that it held a view closer to there’s.

    Before I read your latest posts I was driving around at work pondering what we have been talking about and a thought struck me so hard that I almost want to say it was divine inspiriting (don’t worry, no testimony is coming). Here’s what it was and tell me if/how I’m wrong:

    Mormons believe man will one day be like God. Christians believe one day we’ll be like God WANTS US TO BE. In Orthodox Thesis God has all the power and can change us however he will want in the end. In the Lds theology God really doesn’t have a say in how we will end up. This is why Orthodox Thesis and Lds Exaltation are completely and 100% incompatible, and why I can’t and shouldn’t compare the two. While they do have many things on the outside that seem similar, in the end the really and truly aren’t.

    I’m pretty sure this is what you have been trying to pound into my head all this time, and I was just to dense to understand. After all the debating I feel rather silly, but maybe I have been looking at Thesis all wrong. Thanks for being patient enough to wait until my thick skull could absorb it, or until God could hit me upside the head (whichever one happened).

  9. TJayT says:

    Kate,

    As I told grindael above, maybe I really wasn’t seeing it in the correct light. I think my VFP got her sword in my heart on that one 🙂 Also I hadn’t paid attention to where the paper was from, I just ran across it on Google. Feel a little silly for not knowing who Neal A. Maxwell was, but I was out of the Mormon loop along time.

    I try really hard not to cry persecution, and If I have come across that way then I’m sorry. I don’t have any hard feelings for what happened 150 plus years ago. No one alive today has raped or killed me, so there’s no reason to dwell on what happened. I will say something if I believe someone is attacking me personally (not my personal beliefs but ME), but Rick B said he wasn’t and I believe him. I agree that Mormons and Christians alike have done wrong in the past, but again I try not to think about what has happened and focus on talking to the people that are here now. I have always found you and everyone else here respectful (now that I’ve cleared up things with Rick) and know that EVERYTHING people here are telling me is out of an honest worry for my soul. I would even go so far as to call you an “Online Friend”. I also don’t mind critical viewpoints (or else why on earth would I be here). I’m just trying to learn and understand. It’s a shame that anyone, Christian or not, has to die for there beliefs in this day and age, though I think if there where more Mormons in the world we would be dieing right along side them. And I agree questioning doctrine isn’t persecution. (cont)

  10. TJayT says:

    (cont)It’s open and honest dialog.

    Rick B

    No hard feelings then. I don’t want to try and change how you speak, I’ll just know to have a thicker skin next time.

    I thought about why I haven’t been jumping on every topic (though to be fair I think I have only missed one besides this newest one). And I guess it’s because I don’t feel ready to defend my faith yet. I have just barely started looking into everything, and there’s a lot to cover. It took me years to learn all the @n+!-Christian arguments (again, because I wasn’t a Christian and wanted to prove it wrong). Coming back to square one is a bit hard. And giving a bad argument for something that is true can hurt a cause worse then giving a great argument for something that is false. Not saying I’m right and your wrong, just using it as an example. I’m here trying to learn all the arguments and there answers, but there’s a lot of information to absorb. I’ll try to do a better job of getting my beliefs across though.

    Also work was crazy for me today. The colder it gets the more I’ll be working, just so everyone knows. I hope to have an answer to your questions in the other thread tomorrow.

  11. Rick B says:

    TJayT said

    I thought about why I haven’t been jumping on every topic

    I dont think and I believe others dont think you have to or should answer every topic. My point was/is we know their are enough mormons out their that follow this blog that have answered questions in the past that act like they have all the answers, or are bold enough to say, they have all the answers. Yet wont give them to us.

    Also Like I said, go back and look at past topics, see what topics get replied to and which ones do not.

    Typical the topics like the newest one, or topics like false prophecy’s by JS or which of the first 9 visions is correct, or major doctrinal topics typically are avoided. Yet a topic like, Do Mormons sing songs about a man, like praise to the man for example. Or Did JS really shoot and kill 3 people, Or did JS drink Wine and beer, things like this that really are not a salvation or doctrinal issue, the LDS come out of the wood work and go after us with great passion to defend these actions, yet wont touch the doctrinal issue.

    This shows you are wrong about LDS answering questions, and it shows to me at least LDS cannot answer the important questions that pertain to salvation. Now I understand you cannot answer every question, thats fine, neither can I. But dont try and tell me LDS know things when they clearly dont. Also as I asked before, Please tell me in your own words, what is it about Mormonism that proves to you it is the true gospel and saves people from eternal damnation? Where is the evidence. I simply dont see it.

  12. grindael says:

    TjayT,

    I think you see the incompatibility of the two doctrines. I have written a long paper outlining why this is so, with many quotations from the ECF’s, which I was prepared to quote from, in rebuttal of Vadja’s views.

    For example, Irenaeus was particularly definitive in his renouncement of any other “gods”, (Against Heresies, circa 180) so much so, that it is impossible for anyone to say that the Trinity was an “invention” of the 1st Council of Nicaea, like so many do. Especially when they claimed long before that Council that the pleroma (fullness) of the Godhead was of one substance. (Greek: ὁμοούσιος, from the Greek: ὁμός, homós, “same” and οὐσία, ousía, “essence, being”)

    If there is only one God, and will always be only one God, (as the Bible teaches, and the ECF’s affirm, it makes it extremely difficult for the Mormon concept of theosis to work. Mormon apologists, (as I have said) have taken quotes and totally misrepresented them, taken them totally out of context, and put many on the same path that you have been on. Fortunately, there is a wealth of material that we have access to, to show that they have done exactly this. _johnny

  13. Kate says:

    TJayT,
    You said that you feel silly….please don’t. We are all here to learn from each other. You brought up Theosis and I had never heard of it. I’ve learned a lot this past week. I’m new to Christianity and I don’t feel that I know enough about it to defend it, but what I do know I share. There are enough “seasoned” Christians here to let me know if I am wrong, so I just put my thoughts out there. I really admire the way you can look at everything, even if it goes against your own religion and what it teaches. I think you are the first Mormon I’ve seen on here that can do that.

  14. spartacus says:

    Just logged on to be able to agree with Kate and give mad props to TJayT! MAD PROPS, YO!

    As for feeling silly-humans are pretty silly, and we’re all human. You can feel silly, but we won’t hold it against you. Obviously we have our differences, but I know we all appreciate TJayT’s willingness to communicate. MAD PROPS, YO!

    AND GLORY TO GOD!!!

    -and then i’m gone…

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