Mormonism and the heresy of the Anthropomorphites

Jeffrey R. HollandBack in 2007 Mormon Apostle Jeffrey Holland gave a talk at General Conference titled, “The Only True God and Jesus Christ Whom He Hath Sent.” In this address, Mr. Holland denounced the Christian doctrine of the Trinity in what some have called a “demeaning and misleading” way. Because the new Mormon Church curriculum for youth, “Come Follow Me,” directs students to Mr. Holland’s talk as part of one lesson (“What do we know about the nature of the Godhead?”), I recently re-read Mr. Holland’s remarks. My curiosity was piqued when he quoted a fourth-century monk. After mentioning the formulation of early Christian creeds, Mr. Holland said that the creeds

“declared the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost to be abstract, absolute, transcendent, immanent, consubstantial, coeternal, and unknowable, without body, parts, or passions and dwelling outside space and time. In such creeds all three members are separate persons, but they are a single being, the oft-noted ‘mystery of the trinity.’ They are three distinct persons, yet not three Gods but one. All three persons are incomprehensible, yet it is one God who is incomprehensible.

“We agree with our critics on at least that point—that such a formulation for divinity is truly incomprehensible. With such a confusing definition of God being imposed upon the church, little wonder that a fourth-century monk cried out, ‘Woe is me! They have taken my God away from me, … and I know not whom to adore or to address.’” (Ensign, October 2007. Ellipsis in the original)

Since Mr. Holland helpfully provided a reference for the quoted monk (Owen Chadwick, Western Asceticism, 1958, 235) I found the source and read the fuller account of Egyptian monk Sarapion “who had for many years lived a life of strict discipline and had achieved the leading of a truly good life” (ibid., 234). As it turns out, Serapion was not lamenting the incomprehension of the Trinity (as Mr. Holland implied) when he cried, “Woe is me!”

Owen Chadwick’s book includes lengthy sections from a work by John Cassian (ca. 360-435), “The Conferences of Cassian.” This is how Cassian tells the story that Mr. Holland referenced:

“A few days after the first conference with Abba Isaac, arrived the customary festal letter from Bishop Theophilus of Alexandria [in the year 399]. Besides declaring the date of Easter, he included in the letter a long refutation of the absurd heresy of the Anthropomorphites. Nearly all the monks in Egypt, being uneducated and therefore holding wrong ideas, received this with bitterness and hostility: and a large majority of elders from all the ascetic brotherhood decreed that the bishop was guilty of a grave and hateful heresy, because (by denying that Almighty God was formed in the fashion of a man, when Scripture bears clear witness that Adam was created in his image) he seemed to be attacking the text of Holy Scripture. Even the hermits in the desert of Scete, who were more educated and more spiritually advanced than any other Egyptian monks, rejected the letter of Theophilus. The priests who were presiding over three of the four churches in Scete would not allow the letter to be read at their meetings: and the only exception was Abba Paphnutius, who was the priest of my own congregation.

“Among those caught by the error was a monk named Sarapion, who had for many years lived a life of strict discipline and had achieved the leading of a truly good life. Almost first among monks in merit and in years in the desert, equally he was almost first in his ignorant prejudice against orthodox believers. The saintly priest, Paphnutius, used many exhortations to bring him back to the true belief, but unsuccessfully. To Sarapion the view seemed a novelty, not found in tradition.

“It chanced that a deacon of great learning, named Photinus, arrived from Cappadocia with the object of visiting the brothers in Scete. Paphnutius gave him a warm welcome. And to support the doctrine contained in the letter of Bishop Theophilus, he led Photinus into the middle of the congregation, and in the presence of all the brothers, asked how the Catholic [i.e., “universal” or “general.” See note at the end of this post] Churches of the East understood the text in Genesis: ‘Let us make man after our image and likeness [Gen. 1:26].’ Photinus explained how all the leaders of the churches understood the text spiritually, not literally or crudely, and made a long speech adducing numerous proofs from Scripture. ‘That unmeasurable, incomprehensible, invisible majesty cannot be limited by a human frame or likeness. His nature is incorporeal, uncompounded, simple, and cannot be seen by human eyes nor conceived adequately by a human mind.’

“At last old Sarapion was moved by the numerous and convincing assertions of this learned man, and consented to the traditional faith of Catholics [i.e., “universal” or “general”]. Abba Paphnutius and the rest of us felt great joy at his assent; joy that the Lord had not allowed a man of such age and goodness, who had erred in simple ignorance, to end his days unorthodox in the faith.

“When we stood up to give thanks to the Lord in prayer, the old man felt mentally bewildered at having to pray, because he could no longer sense in his heart the Anthropomorphic image of the God which he had always before his mind’s eye when praying. Suddenly he broke into bitter weeping and sobbing, and throwing himself prostrate on the ground with groans, cried, ‘Woe is me! They have taken my God away from me, and I have none to grasp, and I know not whom to adore or to address.’” (234-235)

EgyptianMonkSo with the change in Sarapion’s understanding of the true nature of God, brought on by a clear understanding of Scripture, came a necessary change in the way the man was accustomed to praying. He knew that directing his prayers to an image in the form of a man, as he had always done, was not right; he wasn’t sure how to pray now that he had no image of flesh and bone in his mind.

John Cassian was deeply moved by this whole scene. When he returned to Abba Isaac he asked for an explanation of how someone so devoted as Sarapion could be “misled by skillful demons” and fall into such grave doctrinal error. Isaac responded,

“It is not surprising that a very simple man who had never received any instruction on the being and nature of God could be caught and deceived, even until now, by an error which he mis-learnt a long time ago. This error is not, as you suppose, a modern illusion of demons, but an inheritance from the ignorance of the old heathen. They used customarily and erroneously to worship demons fashioned in the likeness of men, and even now they think to worship God in his majesty – the incomprehensible and indescribable – in the limited form of some statue. And they suppose they have nothing to worship unless they have in front of them a statue, which they can continually address in their devotions, can mentally conceive, and can keep in front of their eyes. Against this error is directed the text, ‘And they changed the glory of the incorruptible God into the likeness of the image of corruptible man [Rom. 1:23].’ And Jeremiah says: ‘My people have changed their glory for an idol. [Jer. 2:11].’

“This is the way in which this error has been implanted in some men. Nevertheless, in people whose souls have never been polluted by heathenism, the error is contracted by ignorance, under the cover of this text: ‘Let us make man in our image and in our likeness.’ Hence, the so-called Anthropomorphic heresy has risen out of the detestable interpretation of this text, a heresy which maintains obstinately and perversely that the limitless and simple nature of God is fashioned in human form and features. Anyone well-instructed in Catholic [i.e., “universal” or “general”] doctrine will detest the idea as heathen blasphemy: and in detesting it he will come to that pure state of prayer where the person will allow (I need not say) no effigy of God to be mingled in his prayers…” (235-236)

By God’s grace, Sarapion abandoned the heresy of worshiping an idol, a god made in the image of man, a god much like the god Mr. Holland proclaims. Would that Mr. Holland himself would break into bitter weeping and sobbing at the realization of the heresy he’s embraced, throw himself prostrate on the ground with groans, and cry out, “Woe is me! They have taken my false god away from me, and I have none to grasp, and I know not whom to adore or to address.” I hope this for Mr. Holland because anyone who abandons his idols and seeks the one true God will find Him.

“Thus says the Lord GOD: Repent and turn away from your idols… that they may be my people and I may be their God.” (Ezekiel 14:6, 11)

The appearance of the word “Catholic” in Cassian’s work does not refer to the Roman Catholic Church (which did not yet exist during Cassian’s lifetime), but rather to the entirety of Christianity — the universal church.

catholic (Gr. katholikos, ‘universal,’ ‘general’) Term used since the 2d century to designate the Christian church throughout the world” (Donald K. McKim, Westminster Dictionary of Theological Terms).

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.
This entry was posted in General Conference, God the Father, Nature of God and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

75 Responses to Mormonism and the heresy of the Anthropomorphites

  1. fifth monarchy man says:

    Hey Guys,

    I too have noticed the profound relativism when it comes to the meaning of words with Shem. That is the reason I posted the following suggestion in another old thread to Him. I’m not sure if he will see it there so if you don’t mind I will repost it here…

    Hey Shem,

    I have a suggestion for you. Check this free book out

    http://www.frame-poythress.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/PoythressVernInTheBeginningWasTheWord.pdf

    It is all about the Christian understanding of language and meaning. Providentially the author spends some time discussing the way the word “god” is used in scripture.

    I think it would be beneficial if you want to see how those who hold to biblical Christianity see the diversity yet profound unity in language (and meaning) .

    It might help you to understand why Christians believe as we do about this topic. I know it helps me to understand where your position comes from.

    peace

  2. Rick B says:

    Shem,
    I dont know if I should laugh or cry at your reply. Laugh at how stupid you are and the twisting you do to deny what was said, or to cry that your leading people to eternal darkness.

    The prophets and presdients were clear, these books, or teachings, or people are above the Bible. So what do you do, give me another person that claims to believe the Bible. So you tell me I cannot uote someone who says they believe the D and C is over the Bible, but you can give me a quote saying some LDS believe the Bible over other books.

    Wow, you are blind, We dont read books of fiction and read, this person was chasing this person, then stop, put the Book down and think, I dont think the author really meant, this person was chasing that person. Your reading way to much into things. Why is it I cannot take your prophets at their word.

    It seems if your Prophet said, Mormonism is true, and I believed him then you would feel I’m a smart guy for listing to and believeing your prophet. But when He says, the D and C is over the Bible, then I’m stupid for believing what he said, and according to you, I cannot take him at his word for saying that. Crazy.

  3. Rick B says:

    Hello Kenneth,
    I did not expect to go and have a Q/A session during or after the apostle speaks. My plan is to simply walk up to him and say, Hello, can I ask you a question? If he says no, then I will use that in talking to mormons, and if he says yes, Then I prayed and God told me what to say to start off the talk with him.

    And I just got a private text from the Mormons who invited me, They said Jeffery will be their in person, it is not a video of him speaking. So this could be fun. And I have a android phone, so I plan to get some video/audio of him, and plan of at least having the audio running when I walk up and try talking to him.

    And before any LDS comes on and says, video and audio taping is not allowed, let me just say, I dont plan of asking for permission to do it and dont plan on making it obivous what I am doing.

  4. falcon says:

    Shem,

    You wrote:

    “Falcon

    You see, this is exactly what I am talking about. I said shut up as I would to a young boy who ignores everything else. One who just sits there and constantly complains about others, though most of what he says is incoherent or simply false. After a short time of enduring such juvenile rambling, and trying to politely tell him that he needs to stop, getting simply fed up with the idiocy of it all, one shouts “Shut -up” and the shock of it caused the young boy to drop into silence.
    I am only disappointed that it didn’t work.”

    No Shem,
    You said “shut up” because you are an immature child and a perfect example of a TBM who has little or nothing to contribute to the discussion. Mormons such as yourself get pushed over the edge because you are unable to compete with well reasoned arguments and maturity.
    It’s your style that exposes you as someone who can’t give an able defense of Mormonism but is attached to it emotionally. The mind-set and emotional bearing we see in you and other TBMs provides us with all of the insights we need to understand how folks get trapped in a cult like Mormonism.
    You’re a poser and everyone knows it. However you’re presence here is helpful as the lurkers will see clearly your poor defense of Mormonism.

  5. falcon says:

    I thought this would be a good place to relate the story Jim Spencer told upon the death of Gerald Tanner. As many of you know Gerald, along with his wife Sandra, founded Utah Lighthouse Ministry. Former Mormons, they did some fabulous research and writing on Mormon history and Mormonism in general.
    Jim and Gerald use to do presentations at churches regarding these topics. Of course it wasn’t unusual for hardcore TBMs to show-up at these events. Jim related that after one such presentation a Mormon confronted them in the Church parking lot and hit Gerald.
    We have many former Mormons posting here and I’m sure you are very aware of the different “types” of Mormons there are including those who are so deceived by the cult that they have lost all reason and rational thinking process.
    Jim Spencer has written several books. In preparation for my trip to Nauvoo in a couple of days, I’m reviewing “Have You Witnessed to a Mormon Lately”. Jim quotes Dr. Walter Martin who said him,
    “Jim, the problem is that Mormonism has altered the thinking process of Mormons in the area of religion!. A Mormon can think very rationally about his job, what clothes to wear, and things like that, but when you push the button on religion he stops thinking and gives you what he has been taught……..They have given up their right to think independently. They cannot hear spiritually.”
    I like what Jim says about the type of Mormon he characterizes as the “Arrogant True Believer”.
    “The Arrogant True Believer is convinced that he’s a member of the Only True Church, and he has never encountered serious challenge to his faith. That may be because he does not readily listen to anything. He may be brash. He is so convinced of his position that he pities those who are not Mormons. At his worst, the ATB disdains non-Mormons as stupid if they don’t immediately submit to Mormonism’s gospel, and he’s not above ridiculing those who disagree with him……he has never seriously considered the possibility that Mormonism is wrong………He is, as one friend describes it, ‘self-deceived’. He has looked at reality and chosen to retreat into Mormonism. His conscience is seared. He may suffer from terminal spiritual deafness.”

    I think we all have seen this type of Mormon on display here on MC.

  6. cattyjane says:

    Everyone,
    I just wanted to let everyone know that I had a very good discussion with a friend of mine last night who has been trying to get me to return to the church over the last few months. He even placed me on the temple prayer list. I explained to him that I would not be returning due to all of the inconsistencies in the BoM and teachings from church leaders. He was sad of course but stated that he understood and he apreciated that I had put forth the effort I did. The way he said he understood made me ask a question. I asked him if he had also noticed the inconsistencies. I was completely shocked when he said that he had and that he had started doing some research and asking questions from leaders in his church. I did probe him for more info than that but we a good convo about the importance of complete truth and he agreed that if the church was not true than it was a false doctrine and a false god. I dont know if these questions came from some of thw questions I presented him with when I was making my decision or not but all I can say is thank God for whatever led him to seek out the truth! Please keep my friend, his wife and kids in your prayers.

  7. Kenneth says:

    Sweet, cattyjane! Thanks for sharing!

  8. shematwater says:

    MJP

    You said “He is saying that Adam is god, and that is clear and without question.” and “What Young said is clear.”

    I agree that what President Young said is clear, but it is not what you claim, and thus what you claim is very much in question. Adam is our father, meaning that he is the first and greatest Patriarch of this earth. He is our God, meaning that he rules this earth as a patriarch and is the one that we have direct dealings with. However, none of this translated into “We worship Adam” or “He is God” indicating the supreme being who is the Father. Our doctrine is not confusing to anyone who actually learns it in its proper form.
    “Who hath appointed Michael your prince, and established his feet, and set him upon high, and given unto him the keys of salvation under the counsel and direction of the Holy One, who is without beginning of days or end of life.” (D&C 78: 16)
    Adam is Michael, and he rules this Earth under the direction of Christ (the Holy One). He is a god, and he is our god, but he is not God is the same sense as the Father and Christ are God, for he is under their direction.
    Brigham Young never states that “Adam is God” and thus what you claim as fact is not a truth.

    You said “I do, in fact, argue that you take a relativist approach to the word fact.”

    I would agree, because it is a relate word. That is actually where its value lies. However, I am tired of arguing the point.

    Mistake

    You said “Wow, proof is relative.”

    That is not what I said at all. Perception is relative, yes, and so what one person sees others are likely not to. However, my point is this: I have seen and read many things that I accept as proof of the Book of Mormon. However, I highly doubt you would. The evidence is not relative. But your acceptance of it is vital.
    It has happened on many occasions that proof is offered for a particular idea or theory, and while some accept it others do not. That is simply how things work. There are different opinions as to the origin of Stone Henge. People offer things as proof to persuade others that their opinion is correct, but not everyone accepts their proof. If they did then there would be only one opinion.

    You said “Nice mental gymnastics and play on semantics”

    How is what I said either of these. I gave the definition of the word, and showed how the JST fits perfectly with that definition. So, rather than stooping to your usually mockery, why not actually show how what I said doesn’t work.

    You said “I don’t think you know the difference between subjective and objective.”

    I know the difference very well. It is you who does not know what a testimony really is. The problem is that you are equating Objective with scientific provability. This just doesn’t work.
    Let us consider: What the vision of Moses in the Burning Bush objective of subjective? Are you arguing that visions are subjective?
    What of the day of Pentecost when Peter preached and hundreds were pricked in their hearts? Are you arguing that the Holy Spirit is subjective?

    Rick

    You can take the prophets at their word. The problem is that you are not taking them at their word, but are twisting their word so that it becomes your word and then try to claim that you are taking them at their word.
    None of the quotes you give place any other book above the Bible. What they do is ascribe certain qualities to other books that the Bible does not have, but this is not the same thing, despite your attempt to claim otherwise.
    Now, I don’t care who you quote, but if you misrepresent the quote than I will have something to say.

    Falcon

    [Text related to individual’s behavior snipped by moderator.]

    (P.S. I am done with you on this thread)

  9. MJP says:

    “I agree that what President Young said is clear, but it is not what you claim, and thus what you claim is very much in question. Adam is our father, meaning that he is the first and greatest Patriarch of this earth. He is our God, meaning that he rules this earth as a patriarch and is the one that we have direct dealings with. However, none of this translated into “We worship Adam” or “He is God” indicating the supreme being who is the Father. Our doctrine is not confusing to anyone who actually learns it in its proper form.
    “Who hath appointed Michael your prince, and established his feet, and set him upon high, and given unto him the keys of salvation under the counsel and direction of the Holy One, who is without beginning of days or end of life.” (D&C 78: 16)
    Adam is Michael, and he rules this Earth under the direction of Christ (the Holy One). He is a god, and he is our god, but he is not God is the same sense as the Father and Christ are God, for he is under their direction.
    Brigham Young never states that “Adam is God” and thus what you claim as fact is not a truth.”

    This is very interesting. Why? Because you never once address the inconsistencies inherent in the idea. Adam is the one with whom you have direct dealings with but he is not the one you worship? Huh??? Well, who do you worship? Christ and the father, I would presume. But then why wouldn’t we have direct dealings with them rather than Adam?

    Your comment also glosses over the comment that Adam is our Father and our God. Grammatically, this states what it states: Adam is our father and our god. There is no other listed in this comment. And contrary to what you have written before, it does say that Adam IS god. Why else would Young have limited it to him being our father and our god? If he did not mean that Adam is God, that would be easily addressed. But he did not do that, did he?

    Again, I am not pulling any tricks here. What I say is what I mean. It is a fact. Whether you are tired of talking about it or not is irrelevant as far as I am concerned. I would even go so far as to suggest your tiring of it has more to do with that you cannot defend it. You know it gives you an out. You know you can maneuver more freely when not locked down. And you know you have to have that freedom to make your logic work.

    So it is with the Adam/God discussion. What Young said was clear. He did not say that Adam is merely a lesser God that we deal with here. No, he said that Adam is our God and our Father. You have to add onto the comment to make it work, but even when you do that, you have problems, such as if Adam is the one we deal with, what role does Christ play? But if Christ is in control, then we do not deal with Adam. If Adam intercedes for us, then it is not Christ who is in control, but rather Adam.

    And yes, this is truth. Young’s comments are fact.

  10. shematwater says:

    MJP

    Now you are claiming as fact your subjective interpretation of President Young’s words, and that is not fact, but opinion.
    As I said, nowhere is is recorded that Brigham Young said “Adam is God.” Never once do we find in all the words ascribed to Brigham Young those three words appearing together and in that order. It doesn’t exist, and thus, by your definition, is not fact.
    What you are arguing is that a different set of words being placed in a certain order carries the same inherent meaning as these three words when put together in this form. What you are saying is that “Adam is our God” is equivilent to “Adam is God” and that is a subjective interpretation, not an objective reality, and thus not a fact.

    As to your arguments in favor of your interpretation, have you even read this statement in context? He doesn’t mention God the Father because he is not talking about God the Father. He is talking about Adam and explaining his role in the grand sceme.
    As to having direct dealings with Adam, you really aren’t getting this. I think the biggest trouble is that you are trying to understand our doctrine in the same way that you understand yours, and that just isn’t going to work. That is why I said it has to be learned in its proper way, which is a failing among church members I have noticed.
    Think of it this way: The President of the Church is the highest Authority here on Earth (Though Christ is over the President, Christ is not on the Earth). However, it is not very often that the average members see and visit with the President. It is much more common for them to see and visit with their Stake President. Now, I live in the O’Fallon, Illinois Stake, and we have our president that leads and directs this stake. However, in Joplin, Missouri they have a their Stake President that leads and directs their stake. Both do so under the direction and counsel of the President of the Church.
    Now, move this system into the Eternities. God the Father and Christ rule countless planets that they have created, each one is in turn ruled by its Patriarch, or its Adam if you will. Each planet is lead and directed by their patriarch, who will be a god at that point. Thus, for us, Adam is our God, or the ruler of this planet. However, he leads and directs us under the direction and counsel of Christ, who has been given all rulership by the Father.

    Oh, and, it is and always will be Christ that intercedes for us and through which we are saved. When I said Adam is the one we have direct dealings with I was not talking about now, in our mortal life. I was speaking of the economy of Heaven and how the eternal worlds will be organized when we are all glorified. This is the context of Brigham Young’s quote.

  11. MJP says:

    Shem, no, I am simply stating what Young said. That is the fact. Got it? He said that Adam is God. There was no clarifier in the sentence to alter that. I, therefore, only give my interpretation on what the facts are. (Do you remember what I said about a fact simply being there, though we can subscribe different meaning as to why it is there? This is exactly what is going on here. Young’s words are there fore everyone to read. You cannot deny what he said, what his specific words are, can you? And because you can’t deny that, you cannot deny that I am incorrect for basing my interpretation off of those words.)

    You are really trying to work around this. Adam is our God apparently has different meaning, because my God is the one I worship and the one with whom I expect to save me. There is no other God. So, when Young says that Adam is our God, yes, it has a very specific meaning, you are right to say that I am viewing it from my perspective.We’ve pointed it out many times here, not least of all that there is only one God, and because there is only one God, Adam cannot be any sort of god

    And your expanded explanation does nothing to close the gaps in the logic. My questions still remain unanswered– I’m as confused as ever. And it seems you don’t have an answer yourself to them. It sounds like you really don’t know Adam’s role, either.

  12. shematwater says:

    MJP

    “I am simply stating what Young said. That is the fact. Got it? He said that Adam is God.”

    You obviously are not stating what Brigham Young said because he never once said “Adam is God” as you claim. You cannot give me reference where he does so. You have referenced where he said “Adam is our God” but that is not the same thing.

    “I’m as confused as ever. And it seems you don’t have an answer yourself to them. It sounds like you really don’t know Adam’s role, either.”

    If you are confused that is your choice. I have been very clear in the doctrine and I don’t know how you cannot understand it. I know Adam’s role very well, and I have laid it out as simply as a can. What is so confusing?
    1. Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ have created countless worlds.
    2. The Atonement of Christ on this world has saved the souls of men on all worlds they created.
    3. Jesus Christ will rule in the eternities over all these worlds.
    4. Adam was the first man born on this Earth and is the great patriarch of the Human Race.
    5. The Father has given Adam authority over the inhabitants of this earth, as he is directed by Christ, who is over all Earths.
    6. In the eternal worlds Adam will still direct the work of the inhabitants of this world, under the direction of Christ.

    What is so hard to understand?

    “Do you remember what I said about a fact simply being there”

    I remember very well what you said, but what you are saying now is a contradiction of it, for the reasons I gave.

    “Young’s words are there fore everyone to read. You cannot deny what he said, what his specific words are, can you?”

    They are there, and I have no wish to deny them. It is you that are denying them by ignoring the qualifier of the word ‘our’ in his statement. His exact words were “Adam is our Father and our God.” His exact words were not “Adam is God.” Thus for you to claim this was his exact words is blatantly false. You are claiming your interpretation of his words to be his words so that you may apply your understanding of the word ‘Fact’ to them in some attempt to prevent any disagreement with you.
    The simple fact is that he never once said “Adam is God” and your attempts to claim otherwise show how very relative fact and reality are to you when they need to be.

    “Adam is our God apparently has different meaning, because my God is the one I worship and the one with whom I expect to save me.”

    Of course it has a different meaning, and that is the point. We do not have the same doctrine as you, and yes, things can have different meanings to us than to you. What does this mean: It means that you cannot interpret the words of Brigham Young without first understand the Dcotrine he beleived in and the meaning of words that he used.

    “you are right to say that I am viewing it from my perspective.”

    This is the problem you have in understanding what we believe. To you there is only one way to use the term God. To us there are a number of meanings that we use the word for (all of them fully supported by common English use by the way – none of them invented by us). Learn in what ways we use the term and then you will have a better capability to understand the words of our prophets.

  13. MJP says:

    I’ll respond more later, but given that we believe there is only one god, I sincerely hope you see clearly our interpretation of the words “Adam is our god.”

    If you don’t see that, then you need to think hard about how you address this discussion.

  14. grindael says:

    Shem is laboring under a delusion. Young did say that Adam is God. He said it many times. His adding “Father” in the sentence makes it worse for Shem, because Brigham Young said specifically that Adam is the Father of ALL THE SPIRITS OF MEN. That is what he meant by “Father”. What Shem is saying about Patriarch perfectly fits in with this line of thought. Shem seeks to limit Adam in the Priesthood Chain, but Brigham Young specifically said that Adam was the Father of the Spirit of Jesus. Wilford Woodruff taught that Adam received the Priesthood FIRST for this world in the Eternities, (before Jesus Chist):

    THE POSITION OF ADAM AND NOAH IN THE PRIESTHOOD

    The Prophet Joseph taught us that father Adam was the first man on the earth to whom God gave the keys of the everlasting priesthood. He held the keys of the presidency, and was the first man who did hold them. Noah stood next to him, he being the father of all living in his day, as Adam was in his day. THESE TWO MEN WERE THE FIRST WHO RECEIVED THE PRIESTHOOD IN THE ETERNAL WORLDS, BEFORE THE WORLDS WERE FORMED. They were the first who received the everlasting priesthood or presidency on the earth. Father Adam stands at the head, so far as this world is concerned. Of course, Jesus Christ is the Great High Priest of the salvation of the human family. But Adam holds those keys in the world today; he will hold them to the endless ages of eternity. And Noah, and every man who has ever held or will hold the keys of presidency of the kingdom of God, from that day until the scene is wound up, will have to stand before Father Adam and give an account unto the lord, of the principles that we have received when our work is done in the flesh. (Deseret Weekly, 38:389; Delivered by President Wilford Woodruff, at a Priesthood Meeting, held in Provo, Sunday Evening, March 3rd, 1889, see also Brian Stuy, Collected Discourses Vol. 1, p. 216)

    Things can’t be more CLEAR than that, but people like Shem, who live in a bubble of denial, will never accept it. They can’t because then they will know that they are living a lie.

    I tell you more, ADAM IS THE FATHER OF OUR SPIRITS. He lived upon an earth; he did abide his creation, and did honor his calling and priesthood, and obeyed his master or Lord, and probably many of his wives did the same, and they lived, and died upon an earth, and then were resurrected again to immortality and eternal life.” Brigham Young, Conference Report, October 8, 1854.

    Brigham Young said ADAM IS GOD.

    “How much unbelief exists in the minds of the Latter-day Saints in regard to one particular doctrine which I revealed to them, and which God revealed to me—namely that Adam is our Father and God.” (Deseret News, June 18, 1873.)

    Who was it that spoke from the heavens and said “This is my beloved son hear ye him?” Was it God the Father? It was. … Who did beget [Jesus]? His Father, and his father is our God, and the Father of our spirits, and he is the framer of the body, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Who is he? He is Father Adam; Michael; the Ancient of Days. (Manuscript Addresses of Brigham Young, February 19, 1854)

    He [Brigham Young] said that our God was Father Adam. He was the Father of the Savior Jesus Christ – Our God was no more or less than Adam, Michael the Archangel. (Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, same date)

    Attended conference. A very interesting conference; for at this meeting President Brigham Young said thus: That Adam and Eve were the names of the first man and woman of every earth that was ever organized. And that Adam and Eve were the natural Father and Mother of every spirit that comes to this planet or that receives tabernacles on this planet. Consequently we are brothers and sisters. And that Adam was God our Eternal Father.(Brigham Young 10/6/1854, Journal of Joseph Lee Robinson, 102-03)

    [Brigham Young] declared that Jesus Christ is the actual spirit and mortal son of Michael Adam God; that Michael Adam is the supreme god and father of the spirits of our mortal world. (Franklin D. Richards, Millennial Star 17:194-96, March 31, 1855)

    The doctrine preached by Pres. Young for a few years back, wherein he says that ADAM IS OUR GOD – the God we worship – that most of the people believe this – some believe it because the President says so – others because they can find testimony in the Book of Mormon and Book of Doctrine and Covenants. … I have heard President Young avow the truth of Adam being our Father and God but have never heard him argue the question at all.

    A. F. McDonald:

    I thought I would speak briefly in relation to Adam being our God. Since the year 1852 when the President first spoke on this subject, I have frequently endeavored to reconcile what I have read with regard to this matter. I believe what the President says on the subject although it comes in contact with all our tradition. I have not any doubt in my mind but that Adam is our God. Who his God and Father may be, I have no knowledge. President Kimball spoke on this question recently and very plainly illustrated the character and relationship of our Father and God.

    George G. Bywater:

    I am not disposed to question the discrepancies on this question of doctrine; if we live faithful all will become clear to us. We cannot become united only as we get united in understanding. When I first heard the doctrine of Adam being our Father and God, I was favorably impressed – enjoyed, and hailed it as a new revelation. It appeared reasonable to me, as the Father of our spirits that he should introduce us here. And what we do not see is only evidence that we have not the light necessary. (Elders McDonald & Bywater 6/8/1868, Minutes of the School of the Prophets, pages 37-42)

    Brigham Young taught that Adam IS God.

  15. MJP says:

    As promised, Shem, my above question should be sufficient to address the interpretation of Adam/god. You accuse us of bias when you have your own. This is a problem. It’s also a problem how little you understand our faith, especially since you call yourself a Christian.

    I get a kick out of your statement that our faiths are indeed different. Thank you for that admission, and for saying we use words differently. Perhaps, then you can start understand how and why we feel you distort Christianity.

    Now, having said that, I am trying to bridge these communication gaps. It does not seem you are interested. If you fight on the definition of the word “fact” then you really don’t want to engage in an honest discussion. As I have said before, you prefer the vagaries of your faith.

    (oh, as to Adam/god, Grindael does a great job expanding on Young’s position. His words are clear, and YOU HAVE to explain them away.)

  16. shematwater says:

    MJP

    You said “If you don’t see that, then you need to think hard about how you address this discussion.”

    I understand that perfectly, but what you believe is not the issue at hand. The issue is what Brigham Young said and what he meant in using those particular words. Thus it is not what you believe that needs to be considered, but what Brigham Young believed.
    Brigham Young applied the term God in many different ways, just as the Doctrine and Covenants and the rest of the scriptures apply it in many different ways. You cannot limit your interpretation of his words to the single use that you give it or you will never understand what he actually means.

    As to Grindael, he quotes much, but rarely understands it all.
    His first quote from Wilford Woodruf is perfectly in line with what I have said, despite his claims to the contrary. In this he is failing to understand that since Christ was God in the eternities he is the one, with the Father and Holy Ghost (which three are one God), who gave the Priesthood to Adam and Noah. They were the first to receive it, yes; but they received it at the hand of God, as President Woodruf clearly states in the first sentence. This is all in perfect Harmony with 78: 16 in which we are told that Adam holds these keys, but uses them under the direction of Christ (which I have now referenced about a half dozen times).

    Now, personally, I am in no more mood to debate exactly what Brigham Young meant. It is truly pointless, and that is all.
    I will again point out, however, that Brigham Young never used the exact words “Adam is God” like you claim, and thus the reality or truth, or fact as you call it, is that he did not say “Adam is God.” Until you can give me a quote in which these three words appear in this order in reference to Adam, then you have not proven what you have claimed to be a fact, and thus by your own definition it is not a fact.

  17. MJP says:

    Shem, show me where I state that Young literally used the words “Adam is god.”. You conveniently accuse me of something I did not say. What I have done is interpret his words to mean Adam is god.

    I stick to that for all the reasons given. I also believe ever more strongly that LDS will avoid pinning anything down. Witness your definition of fact. And until we can agree on terms, we can never agree on anything.

  18. shematwater says:

    MJP

    You said “show me where I state that Young literally used the words “Adam is god.”

    In previous quotes you first said “it is a fact that we have Young recorded as saying that Adam is god.” You then later said “You cannot deny what he said, what his specific words are, can you?”
    In other words you are arguing that his specific words were “Adam is God.”

    You said “What I have done is interpret his words to mean Adam is god.”

    I couldn’t agree more, and thus you have proven that what you claimed to be fact is not fact but interpretation.
    If you are going to claim your interpretation is fact than you have conceeded that the term is relative.
    If you are going to claim it is not relative than you have conceeded that it is not a fact that Brigham Young said Adam is God.
    It is really that simple. You can’t have it both ways, so choose which one you are going to accept.

    Oh, and I think you should read this article http://www.fairlds.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/2009_Brigham_Youngs_Teachings_On_Adam.pdf. It really does a very good job of explaining what Brigham Young taught and how he meant it to be taken.

  19. MJP says:

    Nope. Sorry, his words clearly mean that Adam is god. I am quite confident in that interpretation.

    The words “Adam is our God” leaves room for no other interpretation, no matter how you spin it, than Adam is god. The “our” does little to differentiate it.

    I went through and told you why. For instance, if Adam is only our god, why do we need another? What role does any other god play in our life if Adam is our god? But you say that Adam does nothing but some how sort out things in the end. First of all, what does that even mean? Second, we get back to the question of what role Christ or the father, or any other god, play in this sorting out? What, is Adam only the one sitting at the information desk pointing people in different directions? Why is he, then, a god? Sounds like he’s not that great, certainly not great enough for Young, and others, to have expounded on it as he did.

    There are more questions and problems that arise from the comment, and the explanation that “our” is the great differentiator in our interpretations, but those get us started.

    And sure, you are free indeed to believe whatever you want. Just know that his statement is very problematic if you are honest. At some point, and at some point quick, you have to agree that you, not I, have to stop and say about Adam/God, “I believe it on faith.”

    See, let me bring about another aspect of Mormonism that, from what I can tell, you guys don’t like to admit: it is polytheistic. You believe in more than one God, though you really hide that fact. You say something like, “Well, there’s only one god we worship” or “There’s only one that matters.”

    Well, who is that? Is it Christ, who died for our atonement? What about the Father who sent Christ and is greater than Christ? But who if, anyone, is greater than the Father? I suppose you can answer this in many different ways, but they all fly in the face of the numerous references to there only being one God in the Bible. And in answering it in almost any way, you end up with a very strict set of roles that each god plays, with each having an indispensable role in our eternal destiny.

    You may say that we are only to worship one (which one, I am not entirely sure, as the father, Christ, and the Holy Ghost are all highly revered in your faith, but are separate gods each– of course united in purpose though). However, aren’t all gods worthy of worship? Isn’t that why they are ‘gods’ in the first place? They earned it, right? Yet, you only worship one? We are to ignore all the rest?

    It really sounds to me almost like there is some regimented army of gods out there, each assigned to do his duty, even god the father and Jesus Christ. And you, as good soldiers, are not supposed to question anything. Just do what you are told and believe.

    Now, accuse me of not understanding your doctrine or twisting it. Fine. Have at it. But honestly, when I look at your explanations of Adam/God (by the way, I also posted a link from FAIR describing Adam/God and it basically said they are not entirely sure of the meaning but offer several alternatives– did you read it?) it only gives evidence to what it is I am presenting here.

    See, Adam is our god, which means something, but he is not the god we worship– even though he is OUR god. The one(s?) we are to worship are the ones that matter. Adam as god is not really that important– he’ll just be there at the end, doing his duty as OUR god. He does not save us, nor does he offer us any real insight on how to live our lives. All he did was sin first, as the first man, of course, offering us a way to the real god’s plan to salvation. He’ll just be there in the end, like a stewardess on a plane, pointing us to our eternal destiny (which, I’d be remiss to state that we can alter once we die).

    Do you see the problems here? Do you see why I am more than doubtful that Young’s comment simply means that Adam is our god and not the one, true God that really matters? If you’d ask some more questions about what it means to be our god, then you will start to open your eyes. But you haven’t. You’ve taken the words of your more recent leaders to explain it away and bury such that it is not a problem for your church.

    Brigham Young’s were clear, and there is no other way that holds water, to take the comment that Adam is in fact god. The only way to accept it is to accept some non-descript and very messy way of organizing gods that creates a hierarchy of gods. And you do this, without admitting you are polytheistic.

    You also do all of this while complaining that our take on the Trinity is too confusing.

    In the end, given a choice, I will choose to worship one, all powerful, all knowing, and omnipresent God who presents himself in three forms. They are not only united in purpose, but united in every aspect of their very being creating not three, but one God. My God is a simple God. His message is the most beautiful thing that can ever be imagined: “Believe in me and you will be saved.” That’s it. There’s nothing more to it. There’s no need to minimize any other being, or explain the various roles of the various gods that are out there. There is but one, beautiful God.

    Do you see this God, or do you see your many gods? How you answer that is all that matters. But if YOU (caps for a reason) answer that you see but one god, which do you see?

  20. grindael says:

    Brigham Young did use the words Adam is God. Those exact words. I provided the proof. Shem just won’t accept it. That’s par for the course for those living in a Mormon Bubble of denial.

  21. shematwater says:

    MJP

    You said “his words clearly mean that Adam is god. I am quite confident in that interpretation.”

    At this point I couldn’t care less what you are confident about. I have explained everything in the simplest way possible, and you still refuse to understand. It all just comes back to the same problem that you are trying to interpret his words through your doctrine, and that is the cause of the confusion. I am not going to waste my time anymore on this thread.

    I just have one question: Are you claiming that your interpretation of his words are fact? Answer that question, as I will not discuss the actual interpretation anymore at that this time.

    You once offered to exchange e-mails, and I am perfectly willing to do so, but not if it is going to be in this same style. As I have said, if you want to understand our doctrine than you are going to have to study it in the proper way, and unless you are willing to do so there is no point in exchanging e-mails. I am perfectly willing to learn your doctrine as well, so don’t think that all I want is a one sided conversation either.

    Grindael

    Do a simple word search of this thread. You know, press control+F to open the search tool and then type in “Adam is God” to find every instance in which that exact phrase appears in the thread. You will see that not one of the quotes you give contains that. That is my point. You can claim all you want that that is what they mean, but you cannot claim that is what they say, as they don’t.

  22. grindael says:

    Do a simple word search of this thread. You know, press control+F to open the search tool and then type in “Adam is God” to find every instance in which that exact phrase appears in the thread. You will see that not one of the quotes you give contains that. That is my point. You can claim all you want that that is what they mean, but you cannot claim that is what they say, as they don’t.

    Your petty little word games don’t change the facts Shem. Whether it is Adam is our God, Adam is our father and God, or Adam is God, according to the many people that heard him speak, Young said all three. He also said Adam was God, and Adam was God our Eternal Father. These all mean the same thing. Whether or not you believe it is irrelevant, because you don’t want to believe the truth. He said it, he taught it, and claimed it was a revelation. That is the facts, and the truth.

    Now, move on from Adam God. You have nothing to add, and you are skating on thin ice with these petty games you play.

  23. MJP says:

    Shem, my interpretation is my interpretation, my take on the reality of the statement. My interpretation is a subjective take on the words, which are fact, “Adam is our God.” So, no, my take is not a fact, but I am indeed very comfortable that my interpretation accurately portrays what Young was saying.

    Its funny, though, to see you complain about how much you’ve done to explain the words. I know. And I have explained why your explanation does not work. And it is at this point that you throw up your arms and say, “I quit.”

    You’ve offered no rebuttal to my latest expansion of why I don’t buy that Young was merely saying that Adam is indeed our God but not, for lack of a better way to say, the god that matters.

    If you wish, feel free to email me at mjp16@live.com. My intent in offering this offline discussion is not to debate, but to explain my faith. Of course, I am willing to learn more about yours. If there is to ever be any progress and communication, you have to know what it is we actually believe, and vice-versa. It is clear we do not use the same words in the same way, and that there are biases that cloud thinking. That is a problem. And just to lay down an expectation concerning the exchange of emails, I expect you to give me your understanding of my faith, just as I will give you my understanding of yours. From there, we can correct each other accordingly concerning what the belief is, not to its veracity. We can debate here.

  24. shematwater says:

    MJP

    I would gladly exchange e-mails on that basis, though it will be slow right now, as I have limited access to internet.
    Remind me again what your latest expansion was.

  25. MJP says:

    Shem, I am happy to exchange emails as explained above–timing is irrelevant. Read through the posts on why I said your explanation of Adam/god makes no sense. I’ll simply say now that, taking your explanation as true raises far more questions, especially given that there is only one god.

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