Mormon Jaxon Peterson argues that Israel was “monolatristic or henotheistic” for most of its existence and that “‘the highest’ does not denote status of authority of power, but rather the idea that God dwells above the Earth.”
These are among the strongest LDS arguments against traditional Christian monotheism. How should Christians respond to this? Some thoughts:
1) Perhaps most helpful for understanding many of these issues is that an “elohim”, at generic minimum, refers to a heavenly being. Besides God himself, today we call them “angels” and “demons”. The Old Testament sometimes just calls them gods. Among all the elohim, Yahweh is THE elohim, the only true elohim. “None is like him.” As Isaiah says, “To whom will you compare him?” Authorized Israelite theology, as taught in scripture, is “polytheistic” *if* you expand the idea of “god” to include heavenly beings like angels and demons. But if you narrow the concept of God to a maximally great being who presides over all others, who is one-of-a-kind and ultimate, then authorized Israelite theology is monotheistic. Perhaps a better term for “monotheism” is “mono-Most-Highism.”
2) Given the semantic range behind “elohim”, to discover that the Old Testament affirms the existence of other elohim than Yahweh doesn’t point us in the direction of distinctive Mormon theology. Two things are needed: A) Demonstrating that these “gods” are of the same species or type of being as Yahweh. B) Demonstrating that authorized Israelite theology affirmed, or at least allowed for, the existence of greater, or higher, or prior beings than Yahweh. To support traditional Mormonism, both A & B are needed. To support neo-orthodox Mormonism (which tends to deny the existence of Heavenly Grandfather, et al.), at least A is needed. But simply affirming the existence of other “elohim” who are subordinate, inferior, finite, created beings under Yahweh does neither A nor B.
4) Isaiah 43:10.
5) If “Most High” simply describes a being that “dwells above the earth”, then that describes *all* “elohim” (Yahweh and angels and demons), since an “elohim” is by definition a being who dwells in the heavenlies. But only Yahweh among all elohim is the Most High.
6) It is natural to take superlatives about Yahweh as literal and not figurative. It is natural to take anthropomorphisms about Yahweh as figurative and not completely literal. But Mormonism flips this around. It doesn’t seem at all intuitive to call Yahweh the “Most High” if he has potentially billions of relationally superior ancestor-gods. I bring these assumptions and intuitions to the text, and also get them from the text. It’s the least awkward reading. I tell my wife in hyperbole that she is the greatest cook in the world, but with the worship of Yahweh, hyperbole hardly seems appropriate or necessary. There is a difference between the hyperbolic, “Yahweh, you are the best God EVAR”, and the non-exaggerative, completely serious, joyful eruption of praise, “Yahweh, you are the best God ever.”
Mormonism essentially teaches that we ought to make exaggerations about God when we worship him. While that kind of hyperbole might be a compliment to a human, it is an insult to God.
Israel’s neighbors, and at times, whoring, idolatrous Israelites, did believe that Yahweh (or Baal) had an ancestor-god or even a wife (Asherah). But the Old Testament consciously rejects these ideas. So by all means, if you want to join a modern-day semblance of an ancient Canaanite fertility cult, be a Mormon. But if you want to walk in the footsteps of the few faithful Israelites, reject idolatry and worship the Most High as literally being the Most High.
No Shem, I dont see the differance.
You claim all the mormon splinter groups are wrong. Here is a problem, all these splinter groups claim they are the true LDS church and they claim you are wrong, so dont say Were right and your wrong, please provide evidence to back it up.
Then as far as the various groups among Christians, We agree on the basic doctrine as I have said before. We believe Jesus is God incarnate, we believe in Grace alone, Jesus paid for our sins at the Cross, the Virgin birth, Etc.
The things we dont agree on are not matters of salvation, things like Can we drink beer, wine spirits in General, can we go watch R rated movies, Can women be pastors, when will the rapture happen, Mid, post or pre Trib. stuff like that.
On the other hand, the LDS posting here have a very definite opinion as to which is the true church. You can ask “Which branch of the LDS movement do we accept” and we can give you a definite and direct answer. It doesn’t matter that the splinter groups teach different doctrine, because they are just as wrong as the rest of Christianity.
Problem: Shem you are basically saying that LDS super-exclusivity spares it from theproblem of multiplicity of beliefs. Now you want to fault Christians for being too inclusive? Christians, here at least, recognize other Christians by their belief and trust in certain propositions and a particular person. That there are many humans does not make multiplicity of belief/details a problem (necessarily) but an inevitability. It is the core beliefs that help to identify otther believers who are part of the one true Christian group – the Body of Christ. For LDS it is membership in the one true LDS church. Now the LDS church also has its own core beliefs necessary for membership – baptismal interview.
However, while some intellectually discernsble content would be necessary to identify any group of persons, the LDS go on to claim that all real Mormons must also be part of their particular church. But two problems inside the LDS church there are identifiable subgroups. These subfroups all belong b/c they agree to the core beliefs – see LDS 5 point testimony – but they do not agree in the details of those core beliefs nordo they agree on other beliefs. This is equivalent to the multiplicity of Christianity. This would indicate that LDS should not ever try to use multiplicity to attack Christianity.
But it is the exclusivity of Mormon groups – that each one is the sole true and authoritative form of Mormonism – that necessarily creates a problem withany multiplicity of such groups. Shem you also said that the beliefs among LDS groups are different but in fact they are very similar if nit identical. So a believer of these mormon beliefs has to wonder if they are right about which one true mormon group they’ve chosen.
In review, all groups must have some core identifying propositions but LDS institutional exclusivity makes multiplicity not just epistemically an issue as it can be among Christian groups but also soteriologically problematic. You cant just believe the core and have freedom in the periphery it is the very core belief- which institution is the real only one- in which Mormons have dire multiplicity.
So you may see how your LDS brothers and sisters here claim to exclude all other mormon denomination as false does not absolve you or Mormonism or the LDS church of anything. It is the very exacerbation of the problem.
I hope you\’ve all had a very merry Christmas, friends!
Shem asks, It is great that you think we should seek Christ and the love and truth of God, but where are these things to be found? If you want to say “The Christian church” then the next logical question is “which one?”
The answer is that one finds them in Christ himself. The person, the real person to whom you may reach out right this very moment, the person who stands in the eternal communion of God\’s inner life with the Father and the Holy Spirit. He offers you the guidance of the scriptures, of his own Spirit, and of the community of faith. If you seek to know where to find the community of faith, the answer really is… the Christian church. There is only one church, not many. This church spans all denominations, being the spiritual unity of all whose full faith is in Jesus Christ and who seek to live by his grace-filled teachings. The differences in theologoumena between congregations and denominations are small indeed, and largely inconsequential to a healthy relationship with the One who gave his Son for us – and these differences are certainly of less consequence than those masked within even mainstream Mormon circles. Institutional unity is desired but not idolized; a unity of a heart afire for the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and in the faith passed down intact through millennia of church life – that is far more vital.
Shem adds, When we enter our exaltation we will have a relationship with our Father\’s Father. I believe this whole heartedly. But while in this life it doesn\’t matter, as the only God that we have a relationship with now is our Father and his Son.
Interesting distinction. Question: What are the grounds for it? I mean that in several ways. Where in LDS writings might I find comparable sentiments about a future relationship with, e.g., Heavenly Grandfather? Why is it that we now do not have such a relationship, and why will we someday? A second line of questioning: You speak of “the only God that we have a relationship with now”, and equate that with “our Father and his Son”. Do you mean to say that these are only one God in the most basic sense of the word, or are you using an extended sense? Or do you mean to pick out one or the other?
Shem continues, As to discussing exaltation, I am more than willing to discuss the doctrine, but I will give no more speculation in this forum. This is not an appropriate setting.
Sorry to hear that, Shem. Do you have a reason for deeming this “not an appropriate setting”? At any rate, I would be happy to send you my e-mail address if you\’d be willing to share further thoughts with me; but, on the other hand, you seem to want to limit these “speculations” to an LDS-only audience. (On another note, as for your speculations regarding Christ as only metaphorically the Most High, I would be interested in seeing somewhere clearly in scripture that offers such leeway. Certainly nothing appears to suggest that scripture is any less than serious in stating that Yahweh is truly El Elyon. Needless to say, Christ is truly the Most High God, being the same God as the Father – and this even though the Father does have a certain authority over the Son, particularly in the incarnation.)
Shem said, I do not believe that God has the power to create from nothing independent sentient beings.
Thank you for being consistently clear, Shem. While I\’d quibble with the word “independent” (for I do not think that there can ever be any entity truly \’independent\’ of God), I would most definitely disagree with you here. I believe that God is all-powerful, and as such can do that. As you admirably admit (though it is a shame that you believe it), your god is one who has developed to that position, not a self-existent deity. I vocally must say that your god is smaller than mine, and hence does not seem worthy of my worship. Loving, perhaps, but while your god offers likeness to his own diminished self, my God lovingly offers the enjoyment of his own all-glorious self, which is the greatest gift that could be had and so surpasses all exaltation. I look forward to diving into the fathomless depths of his all-surpassing self throughout all eternity, ever going deeper into his ever-fresh glory but with no fear of ever exhausting it – for my God is the infinitely inexhaustible one who rightly merits all praise – hallelujah! He is the one whose perfect existence and glory and authority are all inherently inseparable. My God is the one who can honestly utter all the pronouncements attributed to him in ancient scripture; your god, sadly, would have to be denounced as a pretender – and it breaks my heart to have to say that, though it rejoices my heart to point you instead to the true God in whom is a fullness of grace sufficient for every need. Trust not in a subcosmic god, but rather in the big God of a glorious love that dwarfs heaven and earth!
Rick and Spartacus
There is most definitely a difference between the plethora of basic Christian denominations and the LDS, whether you accept it or not. And the differences between the Christian denominations are greater than those here want to portray.
Tell me, what do you think of the praying to saints? What of the practice of being baptized into a church building, as some Baptist congregations have done? What do you think of the need for baptism, as some Christians do believe it required for salvation? Are all those who believe these things not part of the Christian Church, even though they believe in your little list of core doctrine? If they are part of that church, then there is most definitely a confusion of doctrine.
Now, I have, on another thread, discussed the concept of once saved always saved. This is espoused by many. What do you think of this, and are these people still Christian? What of those who believe in Predestination, or the idea that we were chosen for salvation or damnation before the world was even created? Are those who believe this Christian (like the Calvinists)?
You cannot accurately claim that the differences between the Christian denominations does not extend into the matters of salvation, but it does. Who do we believe? Do we believe in Predestination? Do we believe in Once Saved Always Saved? Would believing in these things endanger our eternal welfare?
These are questions that you have not, nor does it seem you are capable of answering.
I appreciate your answer, but it does not make logical sense. You tell me to seek the love and truth of Christ in Christ himself. Great; but where is Christ. That is what you have failed to answer. I used the analogy of building a foundation, but let me switch to a basic case of legal troubles.
Having legal trouble and I ask you which lawyer to seek help from. You tell me to seek out Joshua. I thank you, and ask you which of two dozen law firms he can be found in. Your response is that I should just look for him personally, and it doesn’t really matter which law firm I use because they all use his law dictionary.
Maybe I am not saying this right, but do you get my point?
You mention the guidance of the Scriptures, but which interpretation do I believe? Do I believe the interpretation that teaches Predestination? Do I believe the interpretation of the once saved concept? Why can I not believe the LDS interpretation?
You do list guidance of the spirit first, but I have had many people tell me not to trust that guidance. They quote Galatians 1: 8 and 2 Corinthians 11: 14 to prove that we cannot trust spiritual guidance.
Then you mention the community of Faith, but that brings us back to the question of which community. The community that prays to the saints; or the one that holds rock concerts in church on Sunday; or the one that teaches that you have to be baptized into the building you are attending?
This is what Parkman was getting at, and it is a very valid concern. So again, where do we find Christ?
Q. Where in LDS writings might I find comparable sentiments about a future relationship with, e.g., Heavenly Grandfather?
A. I don’t know. It is what I would call a logical inference from the doctrine. We know that those who attain a Celestial Glory will live in the Presence of the Father. We also know the Father has progressed in the same manner as we have, and thus he lives in the Presence of His Father. If our Father lives with his Father, and we live with ours, then it is logical to say that we will also live with his; or our grandfather.
Q. Why is it that we now do not have such a relationship, and why will we someday?
A. 1 Corinthians 8: 5-6. There are gods many, but to us there is only one. We do not have a relationship with the Father of our Father because he does not hold the authority over us, and thus it is not by his will and power that we can be brought into our exaltation.
Q. Do you mean to say that these are only one God in the most basic sense of the word, or are you using an extended sense? Or do you mean to pick out one or the other?
A. I do not pick out one. There is one God, and that is the Godhead. The unit or the presidency that rules over heaven and Earth; that one unit is God. The Father and Son are individual Gods that are part of that Unit, and thus can be listed separately and yet still be referred to as the one God, of which they are a part.
Q. Do you have a reason for deeming this “not an appropriate setting”?
A. Yes. Brigham Young has taught such, and I follow his counsel.
“When your face is turned from the body, let mysteries alone, for this is the only place for you to be corrected if wrong.” (JOD vol 1: Brigham Young, April 9, 1852)
My face is turned from the body of Christ. For this reason I prefer not to speculate (though I have more than I should).
As to Christ being the Most High, it is not metaphorical. He is the Most High; or he has the power to act with the authority of the Most High, and thus can claim the same title.
As to evidence, read 1 Corinthians 15: 24-28. Christ will deliver the Kingdom to the Father. All things will be put under Christ’s feet, except for the Father. At the end of it all, the Son will still be subject to the Father.
Read Matthew 28: 18. All power has been given to Christ. Using the logic of Paul we can see that the one who gave him the power logically has the power to take it back, and thus is still greater, or higher than Christ.
Christ himself declared that his father was greater (John 10: 29 and John 14: 28).
So, we can see in the Bible that the Father is clearer higher than the Son, and is thus the Most High God in its literal sense. But we also see that the Father has given all power and authority to the Son, and thus the Son acts as if he were the Most High, and thus we can rightly apply that title to him as well.
Speaking of your last comments, I have no desire to insult anyone here, but let me explain my perspective.
Your God is bigger. I have no problem admitting that. That size does not translate into glory and thus worthiness of worship.
What can your God give you? He can give you his presence. You may find this a great gift, and in some ways it is. To be in his presence would be truly astounding. However, if all you can do is observe him then what are you really getting? If you cannot participate you can never truly know who God is, what his character is, and why he does what he does. Experience is the only way to truly learn, and that is something that you will be deprived of.
What does my God offer me? He offers me his presence, a gift most precious, but not the greatest. The greatest gift he offers me is to be like him, to experience the same kind of life that he does; to have all power, all knowledge, and all the attributes of perfection until I have learned through experience how to bring others into that same perfect existence, just as he has done. He offers me an eternal companionship with the woman that I love dearly, and the ability to extend my progeny throughout all eternities.
This is the real difference between the two, and the reason that I will always accept the true God. What you teach is a God that is worthy of worship due merely to his existence. But I know that God is truly worthy of worship because of everything he has done for me, and all that he is willing
Get a life Shem, The LDS here on this board are famous for dodging questions, They in fact Dodge so many questions that I have had Christians Like Mike R get mad at me and state in on this forum for constantly reminding them of this fact.
I also never said I could not answer these questions, I fell I could give you and answer for these, but the problem with my answer Would be, that you simply would say, others dont agree and their fore it is my opinion. I could use scripture to back it up and you would still say it was my opinion, then add to that, Those questions have nothing to do with the topic at hand and will change the subject.
I noticed you serious lack of debate on the Trinty Topic, but now that, that is over, you sure seem to have a lot to say.
I think you are the one that needs a life. I answer every question put to me, or I explain why I am not answering. It is the rest of you who can’t answer the questions put to you, and it seems the reason is because there is no answer.
You have a habit of throwing out accusations with no foundation to them. You demand a perfect answer to everything, and if that answer does not conform to your preconceived, and most often false ideas of the LDS doctrine you start crying deception and ignorance. It is you who are ignorant as to what we teach and until your stop deceiving yourself you will remain ignorant.
My questions deal directly with the matter. The question is one of a confusion of doctrine. How do these things not deal with that question? Also, I am asking for your opinion, so I couldn’t care less what other people think. You are once again avoiding the question by laying out false accusations.
Let us try this again: In your opinion, if a person believes in predestination, are they Christian? In your opinion, if a person prays to saints, are they Christian? In your opinion, if a person believes that Once saved always saved, are they Christian?
Can you answer these questions and thus prove that the many denominations do not have a confusion of doctrine?
PS Stop making assumptions about me and my ability to answer a question and discuss a topic. False witness is not becoming of one claiming to be a Christian.
I was very active on the first thread regarding the trinity, but I have been having troubles at home and so decided not to continue on that topic as it is not one that really interests me that much. I simply did not have the time to bang my head against the stubborn ignorance of people at the time.
You can call me ignorant all you what, But that simply does not make it true. Lets see here, I know you dont agree with this Blog or it’s mods, But if I was really as ignorant as you claim, I seriously doubt the Mods would put up with me saying the LDS church teaches…..
And then not correcting me on it, they might let it slide once or twice, but not as often as you claim, since their goal is to get the facts out about the church that you guys wont or can share.
Then I know Mike R would correct me if I get getting the facts wrong as often as you claim, He like to go after me for things I say.
Also I know LDS dont agree with or like Ex-lds, but I know a few former members like Kate have said, Yes Rick what you said is correct, Thats what I was taught or believed as a member.
Then as I said before, I have been to LDS church services and spoke with LDS in person, sitting in my house, We might not agree, but they never say, Your Ignorant of what your saying, they acknowledge, I did my research and study as I said. So keep telling you self I have no clue.
Then you as all LDS never say, Rick or Falcon, or Mike said this about our church….
They were/are way off, so let me correct you and tell you what we really believe or teach, that simply does not happen.
I know for a fact, me and Falcon have said many times, Set us straight, tell us where we are wrong, yet it never happens.
This simply is a flat out lie, I have asked you many questions that you have not answered or said I refuse. I dont recall every question you have dodged so I wont go back and look everyone up, but from here on out, if you dodge the questions and dont state you refuse to answer it, I will remind you.
But here is one question you avoided and never stated you would not answer and this pertains to the topic of many churches. My paraphrase of your question goes like this, You said the LDS church is the true church, all other LDS splinter groups are false. I flat out asked you, prove your LDS church is true, and what evidence you use to claim your church is true while all other LDS churchs like the FLDS and the RLDS are wrong.
They like you claim JS is their prophet, they like you claim the BoM is their scripture they like you claim the other churches are wrong while they are correct, so what evidence do you have to claim they are wrong and you are right? You never answered that.
I did not answer your questions, because they do not pertain to this topic, you claimed they did, this topic is not about other church’s. I dont mind answering them, I can and am not afraid, yet why should I if you cannot answer me?
Then on the issue of Calvinism, You might have not been around at the time, But the Mods have stated many times, That topic will be removed and cannot be debated on this blog, anything that pertains to it will be removed. So I cannot answer you on that, it is their blog, their rules and if you dont agree, then thats between you and the Mods. I can say this in case your wondering, I am not a Calvinist.
I believe you have a lot going on at home, I dont doubt that, but for the rest of what you said, I call Bull on that. I say that because, all the Mormons on this blog are or have been very adamant and outspoken that the trinity is false and wrong. For months parkman would add to all his replies that he wanted and answer on the issue of the trinity. Once that topic came up in full force and detail, the LDS became strangely silent, and Parkman even tried a few times to derail the topic and change the subject.
So I believe you have more interest in that topic than your willing to admit. I know you will claim otherwise, and thats fime, but from everything I have seen over the years, you as all LDS really harp on that topic more than anything else, and avoid topics like that and make excuses why you cannot, will not answer it.
I said to you that since the Time I have been on this blog, LDS have been harping on the topic of the trinity and how they believe it is false. Once the topic finally was covered in great detail, all LDS were strangely silent. I said that Parkman practically begged for that topic to be covered. Once it finally came up He tried to change the subject and kept trying to derail it, he was flagged by the Mods for doing that and did not answer the topic. Then I pointed out to you, LDS bring it up when they can. So I want to say, Thank you Ralph, He just proved my point on this. Part 4 of the trinity was posted of Dec 6th of 2012, Ralph made a comment under a completely different topic on Jan 6th 2013 about the trinity, thats a month plus later.
So I decided since Ralph brought up the trinity under a different topic I would see how much he added to that topic.
Under part 1 there was a total of 92 replies, Ralph only posted 1 time.
Under part 2 there was a total of 52 replies Ralph only posted 3 times.
under part 3 there was 11 replies Ralph posted zero times.
under part 4 there was 99 replies and Ralph only posted 1 time.
That is a total of 244 replies and Ralph only posted 5 times total.
Now I know you will say, I am not Ralph, and thats true, and you will say you dont care how much he posted under that topic, But my point it, you guys claim that the trinity is man made and false, yet when you guys had the chance to tell us where and how we were wrong, you never really tried. Then as I said, you guys were strangely silent on that topic, and you your self said, You did not really care about that topic. The problem with saying you dont care about that topic is this, You claim we believers have no clue what you believe, you claim we are ignorant, yet on the other hand, you have a chance to correct any problems and not only do you not do it, but you claim it’s something you dont care about.
The problem with calling on the moderators is that they are just as ignorant as you. I may be banned for saying it, but it is true. They don’t correct you because they agree with your thoughts and misunderstandings of our doctrine. The same thing can be said of Mike to a great extent. One ignorant person can’t correct another.
Personally, I don’t care about all the research and all the people you have talked to. Since you don’t feel inclined to take my word why should I take yours? The only evidence I can go on is what I have seen you say concerning the doctrine, and in my experience your ignorance has been proven many times.
You say “I know for a fact, me and Falcon have said many times, Set us straight, tell us where we are wrong, yet it never happens.” Of course I have corrected you, so many times I have lost count; you just ignore me and continue with all your ridiculous lies and misunderstandings.
In fact, just recently I had to correct you for the second time regarding the doctrine of Salvation for the Dead as you once again made claims that are false. I am not surprise that you have conveniently forgotten this fact, but I did do it nonetheless. I also got into a lengthy discussion correcting your false claims regarding Adam. I have corrected people on many points. I am just simply ignored most of the time because few here actually seem to be interesting in the truth of our doctrine.
You then bring out another false accusation when you say “so what evidence do you have to claim they are wrong and you are right? You never answered that.”
I did answer this; it is just that once again you refuse to accept the evidence that I present, so I stoped answering. I will not answer it again here for the simple reason that you would reject any answer I give, as you have done in the past.
I have noticed this pattern with many people here. They ask a question, and when it is answered they basically say that since they don’t like the answer they are not going to accept it, and then claim it was never answered. This really does get tiring.
As to my interests, you have no clue. I have never brought the topic of the trinity into a discussion, and rarely commented on it when others did. Once again we see your habit of assuming that one person’s actions proves the thoughts of all.
I have some interest in the idea of the Trinity, but only as it is compared to the true doctrine of the Godhead. Thus my interest is limited. Since we can only make six posts a day, and there were other topics that I was more interested in, and I was limited for time due to troubles at home, I made a choice which threads to post to. Stop judging my actions until you have gone back and seen just how often I post to these blogs. You will see that it is generally a full six comments every day.
So, while I know you like to think you understand LDS doctrine, and seem to think you know my personal motivations and understanding, you have done nothing but prove your own ignorance and prejudice.
You clearly have such hatred for Christ that is is sad, Your following a false Prophet and his lies that your seared your conscience and are headed to eternal destruction.
Then you claim we dont listen to you or believe you, so why are you here? As Falcon said before, Prior to JS coming on the scene, their is zero evidence Mormonism ever existed and cannot be found in the Bible. Mormon Prophets cannot agree and their doctrine changes more and faster than there magic underwear.
I follow a true and living prophet. I don’t care if you are too blind to see it. You will some day.
I am here for the benefit of those who read these things but do not post. And because I enjoy it. I don’t know exactly why, but I have fun banging my head against the ignorant stubbornness of those who openly hate and make war against the truth. I frequently get a good laugh at just how ignorant you are, and it make for good stories with friends at church.
As to evidence, it is there, it is just ignored by you, as you ignore almost everything I say, because you don’t really care to see it.
I have explained the truth of God and the Godhead using the Bible, but all you can say is that I am wrong because you are right. Brilliant argument but it doesn’t prove anything.
I have recently read the trinity articles and find that they have presented proof that the Gospel as taught by the LDS was taught by the early leaders. Of course, you don’t see it as such because you already believe that such evidence doesn’t exist.
As to doctrine, once again you have to be corrected as the doctrine of the LDS church has never changed, despite your claims.
Have a nice day.
So I guess when the prophet said Blacks will never hold the priesthood, NEVER, But now they can, I guess since that is a change, that means it was never doctrine.
I guess The prophet saying Adam is God, He called it doctrine, But Mormons deny that, that means despite the change, and it being called Doctrine, It was never doctrine.
Many other issues like this, but we know you could care less.
I care a great deal, because you misrepresenting great men can only hurt you and others who are not so well read.
As I have stated before, your misunderstanding of our doctrine and the words of our leaders does not prove that any change was ever made. It only proves your own ignorance once again.
I am not going to discuss blacks or the idiocy of the Adam-God theories. I have discussed both in the past and you have ignored everything I say, so there is no point.
Shem said, “You tell me to seek the love and truth of Christ in Christ himself. Great; but where is Christ.”
Christ reigns from heaven, having a position of utmost honor on the divine throne. I assumed you knew that. You keep bringing the assumption that access to Christ is mediated by an earthly institution, but Christ is himself our unmediated mediator. To use your lawyer analogy: they’re all part of the same firm, and it doesn’t matter which you call because they all have his extension. The bond is much closer than simply using the same text; there is a real spiritual unity involved here. This is why your pushback on the community of faith is also misguided, because ultimately the community of faith is one; it can be found manifest in many local associations, but it is one. All of your questions are invalid in that they are predicated on a faulty ecclesiology. So, again, I repeat: you find Christ in Christ. Call upon him directly, and look to the guidance he has already given.
Shem said, “You mention the guidance of the Scriptures, but which interpretation do I believe?”
I believe you would be familiar with the phrase, “study it out in your mind”, yes? You find an understanding of the scriptures by searching them with all the resources available, and doing so from the standpoint of a faith-relationship with Jesus Christ who promises his Spirit. You carefully consider a passage in its literary context, historical context, cultural context, theological context, etc., and engage in a great conversation with the wisdom and insight of the whole community of faith (including through, e.g., the commentaries that have been written) in order to grasp the meaning. In many important cases, the common LDS interpretation of a passage is very evidently ruled implausible by this procedure, and that is why it should not be accepted in those cases.
Shem said, “I don’t know [where in LDS scripture to find Heavenly Grandfather (HGF)]. It is what I would call a logical inference from the doctrine.
Thank you for being straightforward. I agree that, given the presuppositions of LDS theology, your reasoning is quite sound. I am glad that we can agree, I think, that those things that are true logical inferences from the teachings are also fair game, as it were.
Shem said, “There are gods many, but to us there is only one. We do not have a relationship with the Father of our Father because he does not hold the authority over us”
You do know, I hope, that this is not what 1 Corinthians 8:5-6 means; it is quite clearly a direct polemic against pagan idolatry, and is not asserting monolatrous polytheism/henotheism. I find your exclusion of HGF’s authority to be logically problematic, however. Does he not have authority over HF? It would seem that ‘has authority over‘ is a transitive property here. Also, if you would indulge me, could you answer the second part of my question?
Shem said, “The unit or the presidency that rules over heaven and Earth; that one unit is God. The Father and Son are individual Gods that are part of that Unit…”
I am not sure, from this answer, that you have understood. In saying that the unit is a God, you are using an extended sense of the word ‘God’, not the basic sense. The basic sense is the latter, that is, an ‘individual God’, in your terms. (It is this equivocation that allows for the retaining of monotheistic language within a very clearly polytheistic religious system.) In common Mormon usage, there exists a multiplicity of Gods (in the basic sense), but only one God (extended sense) is of direct doxological relevance for our domain of reality, though this God (extended sense) is a cooperative union of three Gods (basic sense); and, also, when not limited to our domain of reality, there are likely many Gods in both the basic and the extended senses. Hence why I wanted to clear up which you meant, in speaking of “the only God that we have a relationship with now”.
Shem said, “Brigham Young has taught such, and I follow his counsel. […] My face is turned from the body of Christ. For this reason I prefer not to speculate (though I have more than I should).”
Interesting use of his words, though it seems to be out of context. Brigham was addressing a situation in which Latter-day Saints could not consult with one another to obtain accountability in their teachings; but that is not your situation. But, your choice is your choice, unfortunate though it is. With all due respect, Shem, it certainly seems that you are in doubt as to whether your fleshed-out perspective on exaltation could withstand scrutiny.
Shem said, “As to Christ being the Most High, it is not metaphorical. He is the Most High; or he has the power to act with the authority of the Most High, and thus can claim the same title.”
I notice somewhat of a contradiction in your answer. On the one hand, you deny that the ascription of ‘Most High’ to Christ is metaphorical; on the other hand, you stress the difference between them as entailing that it is peculiarly the Father who is “the Most High God in its literal sense”. But to imply a contrast between Father and Son in terms of literalness is to imply that it is in a non-literal (i.e., metaphorical) sense when applied to the Son. At any rate, your exegesis is not well developed here, so I won’t engage it too directly at this point; but suffice it to say that the functional subordination of Son to Father, even if not limited to the incarnation (which is a debatable point), does not require that the Son be any less El Elyon than the Father, as they are one incomparable and omnipotent God who transcends all things. I also note that Matthew 28:18 is referring to a post-resurrection grant of the authority that is Christ’s by right, but that texts referring to Christ as ‘El Elyon’ are all referring back before the resurrection. At any rate, your discussion of how exactly Christ is the Most High (apart from the ‘acting-as-if’ sense you identify) needs further development, so I’ll let you do that before commenting further on the matter.
Shem said, “If you cannot participate you can never truly know who God is, what his character is, and why he does what he does. […] What does my God offer me? He offers me his presence, a gift most precious, but not the greatest. […] This is the real difference between the two, and the reason that I will always accept the true God. What you teach is a God that is worthy of worship due merely to his existence. But I know that God is truly worthy of worship because of everything he has done for me, and all that he is willing”
If only you did accept the true God! But you do not. See, your erring god-concept may allegedly offer you exaltation to his own small size; but my true God offers the gift of graced participation in his inner life, the beatific vision, which – while it cannot make us Gods in the way he is, because that is a height to which nothing could ever be brought – will glorify me beyond all the pretensions of the small gods. My God offers a truly greater exaltation, though perhaps not of the standpoint of someone who views their goal as a grasping for everlasting power (contra Philippians 2:5). My God is worthy of worship due to his very nature. He is intrinsically worthy, and not just extrinsically worthy. Worship is a recognition of intrinsic worth, hence why your god is not really worthy of worship at all. My God does do many glorious things for me, yes, far beyond what your god could imagine. But if my God had not made anything, if he had contented himself with the blissful communion of the eternal Trinity, he would be no less worthy of worship; whereas your god has to earn your devotion, mine is infinitely worthy of worship. Your god is far, far too small – and, with all due respect, choosing a smaller god because of what it seems to offer is the mark of idolatry, not of true worship in spirit and truth (cf. John 4:24). If only you would turn from falsehood and embrace the truth of the God of glory! Please, Shem, accept the gospel.
I think you fail to understand me on many points.
You say “You keep bringing the assumption that access to Christ is mediated by an earthly institution, but Christ is himself our unmediated mediator.”
So, what you are saying is that I could ignore all denominations, and just go it alone, because Christ will still be there? So then, there is no real need in any religion. This seems to contradict the Bible in so many ways I count them.
You speak of the unity of the Community of Faith, but I don’t see unity. If Catholics are united with the rest of that community, why do they pray to saints? If baptists are united to others, why do they practice baptism into the building itself? If there is this unity then why do some uphold Predestination, while others vehemently deny it? You claim there is unity, but all that I can see is division and confusion.
You say “You carefully consider a passage in its literary context, historical context, cultural context, theological context, etc., and engage in a great conversation with the wisdom and insight of the whole community of faith (including through, e.g., the commentaries that have been written) in order to grasp the meaning.”
How is this possible when some members of the community interpret it to teach predestination, while others interpret it in other ways. The Catholic church interprets it to require our works, while other Christians deny this. How can one trust what you call the Community of Faith if they have so many different ways of interpreting the Bible? You have failed to answer this question.
You also say “You find an understanding of the scriptures by searching them with all the resources available, and doing so from the standpoint of a faith-relationship with Jesus Christ who promises his Spirit.”
This I agree with, and in so doing His spirit has testified that the LDS church is the only true church on earth, and that the gospel it teaches is His gospel.
Speaking of 1 Corinthians 8, I know your interpretation, and I disagree. I do not think it is obviously talking about pagan gods. It actually makes more sense that it is not talking about them, given the wording of the passage.
However, the Father of our Father does not have authority over us. Make a simple comparison to mortal life. Once a man is married his parents no longer have any legal authority over him. They still stand in a position of honor and a righteous man will always honor and respect his parents, and will seek their guidance. However, he is no longer bound by them.
Things are the same in heaven. Our Father has attained his exaltation, and thus has become independent of His Father, just as we become independent of our earthly fathers. I believe he still honors and worships his Father, just as I will always honor and worship him. But the right of authority is no longer there, because he has become his own authority. I would say that our Father still seeks counsel, but that makes no sense considering that he knows everything, and thus would already know the counsel that would be given.
On the first part of the Trinity series I went into more detail on this point. When the Bible declares that there is one God, or that the three are one, it is using what you call an extended definition, which is still a perfectly valid use for the term. The most common use is in reference to the supreme being, and this is the Father. It is not the Godhead in whole. We also use the more generic definition of god as being any divine being. Thus there are many gods, but there is only one God that we worship (called the Godhead), and one Supreme being that governs all others.
I don’t think I am out of context with Brigham Young’s words. While there are other members here, we are not the body. He was talking to missionaries going out into the world. They weren’t going to be alone, but in a group, and after having taught and baptized people there were going to be even more. But even in this situation their faces were turned from the body. He was talking about the general authorities and their authority to expound the mysteries of heaven. There is no one here who has the authority to declare some of these things, and thus correct me if I am wrong. They can speculate, and give alternate theories, but that is all. Thus we are turned from the Body, and should avoid speculation as much as possible.
As to Christ being the Most High, I do not like the term Metaphorical because it implies something that is not real, but only appears to be so. It is an attempt to use a familiar thing to explain something else, and that is not what we are doing.
Christ has the authority of the Most High. There is nothing metaphorical in this. Because he has been given this authority, in a very literal way, we call him the Most High. However, in doing so we recognize that the one who gave him that authority is still higher, and thus is the Most High in the sense that he has the authority in himself, not just given to him.
I don’t know if this makes it any better, but I am not sure how else to explain it.
Speaking of the nature of God, and why he is worthy of worship, here is where I think you don’t understand at all. I don’t think I explained it very well. God’s nature is what makes him do these things for me, and thus makes him worthy of worship. His very nature is that of justice and goodness, and all he wants is what is best for us. He acts through this nature so that everything he does he does for us. This is why I worship him. He does not have to earn my devotion, because his very nature makes it impossible not to deserve my devotion. I am not saying that I refuse to worship him until he has done such and such. I am saying that I can’t help but worship him, because he has done these things.
As to all your God promises you, I have yet to have anyone actually tell me what that constitutes. You speak in grand terms, but in the end you tell nothing. What exactly are we going to be doing for eternity?
A better question, which I have yet to get a satisfactory answer to: You make this statement “But if my God had not made anything, if he had contented himself with the blissful communion of the eternal Trinity, he would be no less worthy of worship”
So, why did he create us?