Tag Archives: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints

. . . Of One Essence With The Father?

Post Author: Darrell

(This post originally appeared on Darrell’s Thoughts and Reflections on Aug. 5, 2013 and is being reposted here for Tough Questions Answered readers.)

I was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints – aka The Mormon Church – for several years prior to converting to Christianity and becoming Orthodox.  One of the significant gulfs between Mormon and Christian theology involves the Doctrine of the Trinity as codified at Nicea in 325 AD.  Traditional Christians affirm the Doctrine of the Trinity, believing it to be the correct understanding of the Godhead, while Mormons repudiate it.  The Church to which I belong – The Eastern Orthodox Church – holds the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed to be The Symbol of our Faith.  It is the standard confession of every Orthodox Christian, being recited at ones baptism and reaffirmed every week before Holy Communion in the Divine Liturgy.

One of the major sticking points of the Trinitarian confession for the Mormon Church is the declaration that the three Persons of the Holy Trinity – the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – are one in Essence or Nature.  The Nicene Creed says, in part:

“We believe . . . in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the only-begotten, begotten of the Father before all ages. Light of Light; true God of true God; begotten, not made; of one essence with the Father. . . “

Considering this aspect of the Doctrine of the Trinity, in the October 2007 General Conference, LDS Apostle Jeffrey R. Holland said:

“Our first and foremost article of faith in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is ‘We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.’ . . I think it is accurate to say we believe They are one in every significant and eternal aspect imaginable except believing Them to be three persons combined in one substance. . .”

In the April 1995 General Conference, LDS Apostle Dallin H. Oaks spoke even more directly when he declared that the rejection of the understanding of God contained in the historic Christian Creeds is “one of the distinguishing features of the doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. . .”

Over the last few years, I have spoken to several Mormons regarding their Church’s rejection of this aspect of Trinitarian Theology.  One of the things I have discovered is that very few of them seem to understand what we mean when we declare the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit to be one in essence.  Some believe it means that the three are one person with three separate personalities, others believe it means that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are separate expressions of God, and still others say rather directly that they have no idea what it means, they just believe it to be false.

In my opinion, one of the best ways to understand what the Nicene Creed means by “one in essence” is to look to the writings of those in the early Church.  The Third Ecumenical Council of the Church met at Ephesus in 431 AD to address the Nestorian Heresy.  After the Council’s completion John of Antioch wrote a letter to Saint Cyril of Alexandria, seeking to restore greater communion within the Church.  In this letter, he gives great insight into the Church’s understanding of what is means to declare Christ to be of one essence, or consubstantial, with the Father.  It says, in part:

“We confess, therefore, our Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, perfect God, and perfect man of a reasonable soul and flesh consisting; begotten before the ages of the Father according to His divinity, and in the last days, for us and for our salvation, [was born] of the Virgin Mary according to His humanity; that He is consubstantial with the Father according to divinity and consubstantial with us according to humanity, for in Him there is a perfect unity of two natures. [emphasis mine]”

The Early Church Fathers believed that Christ was consubstantial, or one in essence, with us as well as the Father.  In fact, this understanding was central to the Church’s soteriology, the belief being that it was through becoming consubstantial with humanity in the incarnation that Christ redeemed the human nature, uniting it to God through His Person.

So this leads to the question, if Christ is one in essence with humanity as man in the same way that He is one in essence with the Father and the Holy Spirit as God, how are we to understand this oneness in essence?  How is Christ “one with humanity” in essence?  We can say for sure that He is not one with us by being an “expression” of humanity or by being a “personality” of humanity.  Our human experience shows us otherwise.  The simple answer is that He is one with us because He shares our human nature.  You, me, Christ, and all the rest of us are human.  We each share in the oneness of human nature or essence, but we still remain separate persons within the human species.

This is how we are to understand the Oneness of the Holy Trinity.  Each of the Persons of the Trinity are separate individuals.  There exists a Father, and a Son, and a Holy Spirit.  However, each of the members of the Holy Trinity are God, and they are united in essence by each of them being fully God.  Christ is unique among the members of the Holy Trinity in that He became one with humanity in the incarnation – becoming one in essence with us.  However, He did not lose any of His God Nature in this process.  He still remains fully God.

One thing to bear in mind is that the fall caused an unnatural division in the human nature.  As a result, our oneness in essence is broken.  Part of Christ’s mission to save humanity was to heal this brokenness by recapitulating our nature, bringing it back into Communion with God.  However, the Oneness of the Holy Trinity is perfect.  It has never suffered a fall and, as a result, the unity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit transcends our understanding in a rather profound and significant manner.

Surprisingly, when I have shared this understanding with Mormons, I have often found them to have no issues with it.  When they are able to see that holding the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit to be one in essence does not do away with them being separate Persons, their points of disagreement seem to fade into the background.  Don’t get me wrong, there are still several points of disagreement between Mormon and Orthodox Theology, and those points are quite significant and profound.  However, this particular point may be one that is more a product of misunderstanding than true substance (no pun intended 🙂  ).

Mormon Church Visit

LDS Church Annaberg-Buchholz
Image via Wikipedia

Post Author:  Darrell

The Sunday before last some friends and I attended services at a local Ward of the Mormon Church.  This is the first time I have attended the LDS Church since leaving it for Christianity a few years ago.  For any Mormons reading this, please know that we were very polite and courteous during our visit.  We did not debate, argue, or disrupt any of their services.  For the most part, we listened quietly and asked a few non-confrontational questions during Sunday School.  In fact, we were so polite that the Second Counselor in the Bishopric invited us to come back (note: we won’t!)!

I have been discussing Mormonism on-line since leaving the Church, and being back reminded me of something that I had forgotten: there are some substantial differences between the Mormonism that is portrayed on-line by amateur LDS Apologists and the Mormonism as taught and practiced in the church Wards.

I realize that not all Mormons are going to believe exactly the same thing on every single issue and that some may be more nuanced in their beliefs than others.  However, I believe the difference we see between chapel Mormons and internet Mormons is more than mere nuance.  In on-line conversations, I have had internet Mormons declare emphatically that such and such is not Mormon doctrine.  However, when in the Mormon Church I have had chapel Mormons declare just as emphatically that such and such is Mormon doctrine.

For example, while at church this past Sunday, my friends and I attended the Gospel Principle’s class, the Sunday School class designed for investigators, i.e., those who are researching the church. During class, the teacher shared with us how “keeping the commandments” is a vital part of the formula for attaining salvation.  We politely pointed out how we believe that faith alone is all that is needed for salvation and that works are a result of, not a requirement for, salvation.  We then asked for clarification to make sure we understood exactly what she was saying.  In response, one of the members of class told us that keeping the commandments is not only vital to salvation, but there are some commandments that if not kept, will damn a person.

Unfortunately the bell rang ending class, so we didn’t have time to follow up with more questions.  However, I assume she was referring to Spencer W. Kimball’s book The Miracle of Forgiveness where he points out that murder is a nearly unforgivable sin and that denying the Holy Spirit (decreed by some to be apostasy from the Mormon Church) is unforgivable.

Here is the kicker though… we were taught this by a Mormon Sunday School Teacher in a class designed to teach investigators about Mormon beliefs.  The lady who taught the class has supposedly been called by God to teach the doctrine of God’s one and only true Church to investigators, yet in numerous conversations on-line, I have had internet Mormons tell me repeatedly that the LDS Church does not teach that works are required for salvation.  Instead, they say that the Mormon Church teaches salvation by faith alone.  Why the huge discrepancy?

For a church that is supposed to have the “plain and precious truths” of the restored gospel, there certainly is a lot of confusion amongst its members as to exactly what it teaches.  Perhaps the Church has apostatised again and the on-line Mormons should form a newly restored LDS Church – The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Internet Mormons.

Do Mormons Worship the God of the Bible? Part 7

Post Author:  Darrell

When comparing the nature of the Mormon Jesus to the Jesus Christ of the Bible, several significant differences become readily apparent. Deut. 6:4 tells us emphatically that God is one in nature: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.” In addition, in John 10:30, Jesus tells us that He “and the Father are one.” When Christ uttered these words, the Jews picked up stones to kill Him, because they knew precisely what He was asserting; namely, that He is one with God and that, as a consequence of God being one in nature, that He Himself is God.

The biblical assertion that Jesus is God is confirmed by several other passages of scripture. Col. 2:9 says, “For in him [Christ] the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily.” In addition, in John 8:58, Jesus said, “before Abraham was, I Am.” Once again, when He said this, the Jews tried to stone Him, because they realized He was taking upon Himself the name of God by applying to Himself God’s declaration in Exod. 3:14: “God said to Moses, ‘I am who I am’.” In addition, Jesus taught in John 8:12, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” At first glance, this verse may sound like it is simply a beautiful metaphor; however, a closer analysis reveals that Christ is referencing the Old Testament teaching in Ps. 27:1: “The Lord is my light.” Christ was literally proclaiming Himself to be the Yahweh of the Old Testament, and, thus, the God of all.

Verses such as those above place Mormons in a difficult position: how can their Jesus, a Jesus who was spiritually born of and is ontologically separate from God the Father, be God if there is only one God and God is one? The typical Mormon response to this problem is to say that God and Jesus are one in purpose and not one in nature; however, this answer falls decisively short of solving the problem, for Mormons are still forced to tackle the issue that their Christ has not always been God and had a God prior to Him, i.e., God the Father. The God of the Bible tells us that He has always been God and that there have never been any Gods besides Him: “Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me” (Isa. 43:10). Unfortunately for the Mormon Church, the LDS Jesus does not meet this standard and thus, cannot be the Jesus of the Bible.

In conclusion, as this series of posts has demonstrated, there are several significant differences between the God of Mormonism and the God of the Bible. The Mormon Godhead is comprised of three Gods who are separate and distinct in nature. However, the Bible teaches that there is but one God. Both the Mormon God the Father and the Mormon God the Son are embodied in flesh and bone, and as a result, cannot be in more than one place at a time. In contrast, the God of the Bible is said to be a spirit who is both invisible and omnipresent.

The Mormon God the Father is an exalted man who progressed and earned the honorific title God through a process similar to the one through which mankind is now going. However, the Bible teaches that God is not a man and has always been God. In addition, according to the Bible, God is not an honorific title that a being earns. Rather, it is something God simply is. Mormonism also teaches that God and man are the same species. On the other hand, the Bible makes it clear that God is self-existent and necessary, while man is contingent. Consequently, the idea that man and God are the same species is, from a biblical perspective, completely illogical.

The Mormon God the Son was spirit born of the Father and a Heavenly Mother, making Him ontologically separate from the Father. As a result, He has not always been God, and instead, progressed through obedience in a pre-mortal life to become “like unto God.” In contrast, the Jesus of the Bible is one with God. Consequently, the biblical profession of the eternality of God, i.e., that He has always been God, having no Gods before, after, or besides Him, applies equally to Christ making His nature inconsistent with the spirit born nature of the Mormon Jesus.  For these reasons, it is readily apparent that the nature of the Mormon God and the nature of the God of the Bible are diametrically opposed to one another. In reality, there is no meaningful way to view them as describing the same being. As a result, it can be decisively said that the God of Mormonism is most certainly not the God of the Bible.

Do Mormons Worship the God of the Bible? Part 6

Post Author: Darrell

The formal name of the Mormon Church is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Many people believe that because the name of the church includes the words Jesus Christ, Mormons worship the Christ of the Bible. However, a closer analysis reveals several startling differences between the Jesus of Mormonism and the Jesus of the Bible. While many claim that these differences are simply peripheral in nature, in reality, they are central aspects in defining the nature of the being that is worshiped. As a consequence, when the Jesus Christ of Mormonism is compared to the Christ of the Bible, it becomes obvious that they are most certainly not the same being.

The Mormon Church teaches that all mankind existed as spirit sons and daughters of God in a pre-mortal world. Humans were spirit born into this world of God the Father and a Heavenly Mother. While there are varying opinions among LDS theologians as to exactly how this spirit birth took place, Mormons are united in the belief that all humans lived there as spirit brothers and sisters and that the firstborn among them was Jesus Christ. Former Mormon leader LeGrand Richards says, “Christ was not only the Only Begotten Son of God in the flesh, but . . . he was the Firstborn in the spirit.” In 1916, the LDS First Presidency and Council of the Twelve Apostles said, “Among the spirit children of Elohim the firstborn was and is . . . Jesus Christ to whom all others are juniors.” Former Mormon Apostle Bruce McConkie says Christ “is the Firstborn of the Father.”

As a result of this common spirit birth, in Mormonism, Jesus Christ is viewed as literally being the elder spirit brother of all mankind. However, His station as firstborn carries some significance. In The Life and Teachings of Jesus and His Apostles, the LDS Church teaches that Jesus “was the birthright son, and he retained that birthright by strict obedience. Through the aeons and ages of premortality, he advanced and progressed until, as Abraham described [in the Mormon Scripture The Pearl of Great Price], he stood as one ‘like unto God’.”

Being spirit born of heavenly parents and our elder spirit brother, the Mormon Jesus is as ontologically separate from God the Father as all other humans. Mormons believe Him to be united with the Father in purpose; nevertheless, they do not believe that the Father and the Son are one being. In addition, given the fact that Jesus is portrayed as having advanced to become like unto God, He has not always existed as God. Instead, He is a separate being who earned the right to be considered a God through obedience.

In the next post, we will look at the biblical problems presented by the Jesus of Mormonism and wrap up this series of posts.  Stick around… only one more to go.

Do Mormons Worship the God of the Bible? Part 5

Post Author:  Darrell

From a biblical perspective, there are several issues with the Mormon view of God the Father as described in the previous post. First, contrary to Mormon teachings, the Bible says very clearly that God is not, nor has He ever been, a man. Num. 23:19 says, “God is not man [emphasis mine], that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind.” First Sam. 15:29 says, “And also the Glory of Israel will not lie or have regret, for he is not a man [emphasis mine], that he should have regret.”

In addition, the Bible repeatedly says that there are no Gods other than God the Father. As a result, the Mormon teachings that God the Father has a father who was God prior to Him and that man can progress to become a God himself contradict the Bible. Isa. 43:10 says, “You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me.” Isa. 44:6 says, “Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: ‘I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god.’” The Lord continues this point in verse 8 of the same chapter where He further declares, “Is there a God besides me? There is no Rock; I know not any.”

Second, the Mormon understanding of the word God as an honorific title is completely incompatible with biblical teachings. As the previously cited verses demonstrate, scripture is very emphatic that there are no other Gods besides God the Father, and, as a consequence, He has always been God. As a result, it is impossible for Him to have earned the title God, because God is something that He has always been; it is something He simply is.

Third, contrary to Mormon teachings, the Bible says that God and man are separate and distinct in nature and, as a result, are not the same species. Since God has always existed as God, He is uncreated and self-existent in nature. In contrast, humans are contingent in being, i.e., they are dependent upon God for their very existence. God is the only being in existence that is not contingent upon anything else for his existence. In Exod. 3:14, God gives us a small glimpse into this fact about His nature: “God said to Moses, ‘I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: “I AM has sent me to you”.'” Speaking of this verse, Bible Commentator James E. Smith says, “The statement ‘I am who I am’ can be rendered a number of different ways in English. The statement basically emphasizes the timelessness of God. He is the self-existing one, the Eternal, the one without beginning or end.” In addition, The Apologetics Study Bible says, “Exod. 3:14 actually teaches a distinction between God and humans. God alone is the eternal, self-existing one. Humans are created beings.” Consequently, the Mormon idea that God and man, the uncreated and the created, the self-existent and the contingent, are the same species is completely illogical and foreign to the Bible.

In the next post, I will look at the LDS teachings on the nature of Christ as compared to the Bible.

Do Mormons Worship the God of the Bible? Part 4

Post Author: Darrell

Historically there have been a variety of Mormon views regarding the nature of God the Father. The purpose of this post is not to address every single strain of LDS thought that exists in this area, nor do I contend that all Mormons hold the beliefs to which I will speak. Instead, I will address some of the traditional, longstanding LDS beliefs regarding the nature of the Father. These beliefs are spoken to in canonized LDS scripture, transcend Mormon thought, and affect LDS beliefs in other areas.

As discussed in the previous posts, Joseph Smith claimed that God the Father and Jesus Christ appeared to him in the spring of 1820, and, as a result, the members of the LDS Church believe God the Father and Jesus Christ to be separate and distinct beings embodied in flesh and bone. However, Mormon teachings did not stop developing at this point. On April 6, 1844, Smith delivered one of his last public speeches, known today as The King Follett Discourse. During this discourse, he shared one of Mormonism’s most controversial doctrines, namely, that God Himself is an exalted man: “God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens. That is the great secret.”

The current version of the LDS Temple Endowment Ceremony furthers this doctrine by teaching that God the Father gained his knowledge through a process similar to the one through which Adam, Eve, and the rest of mankind progress. In a re-creation of a scene in the Garden of Eden, the ceremony shows Satan, speaking to Eve, saying, “I want you to eat of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, that your eyes may be opened, for that is the way Father gained his knowledge[emphasis mine].” Former Brigham Young University Professor of Philosophy, David Paulsen, spoke to this doctrine in his 1975 Doctoral Thesis titled Comparative Coherency of Mormon (Finitistic) and Classical (Absolutistic) Theism: “At some distant point in an infinite past, He earned the right to be ‘God’ through a process which men, as his children, are now repeating.”

The Mormon doctrine that God was once a man has led many LDS to the position that God is merely a title a being holds. Again, Paulsen addressed this fact in his Thesis, saying, “The being who is God has not always been God – i.e., he has not always qualified for the honorific title ‘God’ – a distinction he earned through a process of growth and development toward Godliness.” Naturally, the fact that God the Father has not always been God leads to some logical questions. Who was God before God the Father? From where did God the Father come? Smith provided an answer to these questions by teaching that God the Father had a father, much the same as all human beings: “Where was there ever a son without a father? And where was there ever a father without first being a son?”

Mormonism furthers this by teaching that God and man are the same species. Past Mormon Apostle Bruce R. McConkie said, “Man and God are of the same race.” In How Wide the Divide, Mormon Scholar David Robinson states that Mormons “believe that God and humans are the same species of being and that all men and women were his spiritual offspring in a premortal existence.” In addition, The LDS Church teaches that man, through a process known as Eternal Progression, can progress to become a God. Smith said, “You have got to learn how to be Gods yourselves, and to be kings and priests to God, the same as all Gods have done before you, − namely, by going from one small degree to another, and from a small capacity to a great one, − from grace to grace, from exaltation to exaltation.”

This teaching is also referenced in The Doctrine and Covenants where it says, “Then shall they be gods, because they have no end; therefore shall they be from everlasting to everlasting, because they continue; then shall they be above all, because all things are subject unto them. Then shall they be gods because they have all power, and the angels are subject unto them.”

In the next post, I will cite several areas where these LDS beliefs violate the teachings of the Bible.  Hang around!

Do Mormons Worship the God of the Bible? Part 3

Post Author: Darrell

As discussed in the last post, the Mormon Church teaches that God the Father has a body of flesh and bone. Unfortunately for Mormons, there are biblical problems with this teaching. John 4:24 says, “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” This verse has long been held as a declaration regarding God’s nature as spirit. The Bible Knowledge Commentary has this to say regarding this verse: “God is Spirit is a better translation than the KJV‘s ‘God is a Spirit.’. . . . This is a declaration of His invisible nature. He is not confined to one location.” In addition, Col. 1:15 teaches that Christ “is the image of the invisible [emphasis mine] God,” and 1 Tim. 1:17 says, “To the King of ages, immortal, invisible [emphasis mine], the only God.”

The understanding that God is invisible and spirit lines up perfectly in a metaphysical sense with the biblical declaration that God is omnipresent. For, if God were embodied in flesh and bone, He would be metaphysically incapable of being in more than one place at a time. However, scripture testifies repeatedly of the fact that God is everywhere present. Ps. 139:7-8 makes it very clear that no matter where we go, God is always there: “Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!” In addition, 1 Kings 8:27 testifies that there is nothing that can contain God, for He is everywhere: “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you; how much less this house that I have built!” Furthermore, in Jer. 23:23-24, God Himself testifies of His omnipresent nature, making it one of the clearest passages of scripture to testify of God being everywhere: “Am I a God at hand, declares the Lord, and not a God far away? Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? declares the Lord. Do I not fill heaven and earth? declares the Lord.”

These passages leave Mormons in a quandary, for the nature of their God is wholly incompatible with the above descriptions. In contrast, the Mormon God is not simply spirit, rather he is a spirit that is contained in and embodied in flesh. As a result, the Mormon God is limited, e.g., He is limited by his body to a here rather than a there. In addition, the very nature of having a body means that He is contained by that body and cannot fill heaven and earth. Instead, He can fill only His flesh and bone.

It appears that James E.  Talmage recognized these problems and simply chose to admit that the God of Mormonism cannot be everywhere. He said, “It has been said, therefore, that God is everywhere present; but this does not mean that the actual person of any one member of the Godhead can be physically present in more than one place at a time. . . . His person cannot be in more than one place at any one time. Unfortunately for Talmage and all other Mormons, the writers of the books of the Bible, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, have clearly testified to the contrary. As a result, the nature of the Mormon God does not simply contradict a late developed teaching of an apostate Christianity; rather it contradicts the Bible itself.

Do Mormons Worship the God of the Bible? Part 2

Post Author: Darrell

The nature of the Mormon Godhead bears some similarity to the Arian heresy of the early Christian church. Arius taught that God the Father and Jesus Christ are two separate beings distinct in nature, with Christ being a subordinate God. In similar respects, Mormonism teaches that God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit are literally three separate beings with three distinct natures. James E. Talmage explained the nature of the Mormon Godhead in A Study of the Articles of Faith when he said, “Three personages composing the great presiding council of the universe have revealed themselves to man: (1) God the Eternal Father; (2) His Son, Jesus Christ; and (3) the Holy Ghost.  That these three are separate individuals, physically distinct from each other, is demonstrated by the accepted records of divine dealings with man.”

The belief that the three persons of the Godhead have separate and distinct natures originated with Joseph Smith’s First Vision claim. According to his writings in The Pearl of Great Price, Smith was visited by God the Father and Jesus Christ in the spring of 1820 in answer to a prayer regarding which church to join. Smith said:

I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me. It no sooner appeared than I found myself delivered from the enemy which held me bound. When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air.  One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other – This is My Beloved Son, Hear Him!

Mormons believe that these two beings were God the Father and Jesus Christ. As a result, they believe that Christ and the Father are separate beings and that the traditional Christian teaching on the nature of God, i.e., one God in nature who eternally exists in three persons, is a false, late development of Christianity that is foreign to the Bible.

Further derived from the First Vision is the belief that God the Father and Jesus Christ have bodies of flesh and bone just as man. In 2007, former Prophet of the LDS Church, Gordon B. Hinckley, said, “And so in 1820, in that incomparable vision, the Father and the Son appeared to the boy Joseph. They spoke to him with words that were audible, and he spoke to Them. . . .  They were beings tabernacled in flesh. And out of that experience has come our unique and true understanding of the nature of Deity.” This belief is detailed out in the Mormon scripture titled The Doctrine and Covenants, where it says, “The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s; the Son also.” Talmage said, “Therefore we know that both the Father and the Son are in form and stature perfect men; each of them possesses a tangible body, infinitely pure and perfect and attended by transcendent glory, nevertheless a body of flesh and bones.”

The belief that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three separate beings creates numerous problems for the LDS claim to be following the God of the Bible, for it is in utter conflict with the Bible on numerous counts. Deut. 6:4 says, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.” This verse is known as the Shema and is the basic confession of the Jewish faith. With this statement, Israel acknowledged the unity of God and placed their belief in stark contrast with that of their polytheistic Near East neighbors. There is little doubt that the Jewish belief in the unity and oneness of God, which the Shema clearly communicates, is utterly incompatible with the tri-theistic nature of the Mormon Godhead.

There are a multitude of other scriptures that can be cited to demonstrate that the Mormon idea of three separate Gods existing in the Godhead is completely foreign to the nature of God as taught in the Bible; however, space will only permit me to mention a few. Isa. 44:8 says, “Is there a God besides me? There is no Rock; I know not any.” Deut. 4:35 says, “To you it was shown, that you might know that the Lord is God; there is no other besides him.” As if stating this once was not strong enough, in Mark 12, a Scribe cited Deut. 4:35 when commenting on one of Christ’s answers to the Pharisees where Jesus referenced Deut. 6:4. Jesus’ citation of the Shema as part of the greatest commandment underscores its importance and is further declaration of God’s unity. In addition, the Scribe’s acknowledgement that Christ’s answer was good, and his use of Deut. 4:35 to support this fact further emphasizes the biblical declaration of the unity of God, a fact that is completely devastating to the Mormon belief in a tri-theistic Godhead.

In the next post, we will look at the problems created by the LDS decleration that God the Father has a body of flesh and bone.  Stay tuned.

Do Mormons Worship the God of the Bible? Part 1

Post Author: Darrell

In its short 180 year life, the Mormon Church has had a curious relationship with traditional Christianity. A quick look through Mormon history will demonstrate that the LDS Church has a long history of degrading Christian teachings. As a result, it is somewhat odd to find modern day LDS leaders referring to their church as a Christian denomination, for their desire to be denominated among groups they believe to be in utter error seems illogical.

Mormonism is founded upon the belief that it is not simply a Christian denomination, but is, rather, the restoration of true Christianity.  This belief is based upon the claim by the founder of Mormonism, Joseph Smith, that God the Father and Jesus Christ appeared to him and called him as a prophet. Smith relates that in the course of their visit, Christ and the Father had some rather terse words regarding traditional Christianity:

I was answered that I must join none of [the Christian churches], for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: “they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof” [emphasis mine].

The belief that God holds the Christian creeds to be an abomination and all the Christian professors to be corrupt has led to some rather interesting statements by Mormon leaders. On July 26, 1857, second Prophet and President of the Mormon Church, Brigham Young, said that the Christian world is “like the captain and crew of a vessel on the ocean without a compass, and tossed to and fro whithersoever the wind listed to blow them. When the light came to [him], [he] saw that all the so−called Christian world was groveling in darkness.” On September 13, later the same year, Young said, “Ask them where heaven is? − where they are going to when they die? − where Paradise is? − and there is not a priest in the world that can answer your questions. Ask them what kind of a being our Heavenly Father is, and they cannot tell you so much as Balaam’s ass told him. They are more ignorant than children.” On September 16, 1860, he said, “The Christian world, so called, are heathens as to their knowledge of the salvation of God.”

Third Prophet of the LDS Church, John Taylor, also had some rather crude remarks regarding traditional Christianity. On January 17, 1858, he called Christianity “a perfect pack of nonsense.” On November 1, later the same year, he said, “Are Christians ignorant? Yes, as ignorant of the things of God as the brute beast.” In addition, he shared what is perhaps his most stinging comment on May 6, 1870, when he said, “What does the Christian world know about God? Nothing; yet these very men assume the right and power to tell others what they shall and what they shall not believe in. Why, so far as the things of God are concerned, they are the veriest [sic] fools; they know neither God nor the things of God.”

While the LDS Church appears to have toned down its rhetoric in recent years, the basic belief that it is the one and only true church on earth and that traditional Christianity was and is apostate remains unchanged. LDS Apostle James E. Talmage said in his 1965 book A Study of the Articles of Faith, that after the ministry of Jesus Christ “the Church was literally driven from the earth,” and that it remained in this state until the “restoration was effected by the Lord through the Prophet Joseph Smith.” In a 1972 Ensign article, LDS Apostle LeGrand Richards said, “At the time that Joseph Smith had his marvelous vision, there wasn’t a church in the world worshiping the God who made the heavens and the earth and the sea and the fountains of waters, and created man in his own image.”

As these comments demonstrate, the LDS Church continues to hold the longstanding belief that traditional Christianity is in utter error and that the Mormon Church is the only true church on the earth today. In addition, the comments demonstrate that even the leaders of the LDS Church realize the utter gulf that exists between the teachings of traditional Christianity and the teachings of the LDS Church. Because of these stark differences, traditional Christian teachings and LDS teachings cannot both be true, for if Mormons are correct about the nature of God, then Christians are in complete error. However, if Christians are correct about the nature of God, Mormons are in complete error. Consequently, the question left for discussion is exactly which teachings are correct. Are the teachings of the LDS Church correct? Are they in alignment with the Bible? I will explore these questions in the next few posts by highlighting three specific areas where the God of Mormonism differs from the God of the Bible.  Stick around.

Time, The Succession of Moments, and An Actual Infinite

Post Author:  Darrell

I recently did a couple of posts regarding the incoherence of an actual infinite and how, as a result, the eternality of matter as taught in Mormonism is impossible.  These posts can be found here and here.

I want to address another way of analyzing the concept of “eternal matter” as taught in the Mormon Church.  Let’s assume for a moment that an actual infinite is possible; could matter have always existed, i.e., could it be eternal?  Unfortunately for Mormons who hold to creation ex materia, the answer is a resounding “no.”

According to Einstein’s Theory of Relativity if matter has always existed, time has always existed, for time and matter are relative, i.e., you can’t have one without the other.   In addition, if time has always existed, the past is actually infinite.  In otherwords, prior to today there have existed an actually infinite number of moments (see the above referenced posts which discussed this fact).  However, time is a series of events or moments formed by successive addition, and it is impossible to form an actual infinite through successive addition. 

In successive addition, the collection is instantiated sequentially.  For example, if I am given one M&M at a time, no matter how many M&M’s I receive it is always possible for me to be given “one more.”  Thus, one could never say that I have an actually infinite number of M&M’s. 

In the same sense, since time is formed through successive addition, i.e., one moment followed by another, no matter how much time has passed, more time is always possible.  You can always have “one more moment.”  As a result, it is never possible to say that prior to today there has been an actually infinite amount of time.   

There are additional philosophical issues with eternal matter and the succession of moments in a beginningless/eternal universe.  Paul Copan and William Lane Craig share some of their thoughts in The New Mormon Challenge.

In order for us to have “arrived” at today, existence has, so to speak, traversed an infinite number of prior events.  But before the present event could arrive, the event immediately prior to it would have to arrive; and before that event could arrive, the event immediately prior to it would have to arrive; and so on ad infinitum.  No event could ever arrive, since before it could elapse there would always be one more event that had to have happened first.  Thus, if the series of past event were beginningless, the present event could not have arrived, which is absurd! (Copan and Craig, The New Mormon Challenge, Zondervan, 2002, 135)

The temporal series of events we call time cannot be actually infinite, and as a result, the universe, time, and matter all had to have a beginning.  The universe could not have been created ex materia, for eternal matter is impossible.  In addition to the the philosophical arguments, there is a wealth of scientific data to support the finite nature of matter, time, and the universe.  It can easily be said that nearly all signs point towards creation ex nihilo just as traditional Christianity has been declaring for nearly 2000 years.

God Bless!