Thursday, August 28, 2008

My View Of God

I feel that my response to a recent question on my blog deserves it's own post, since it deals with a very important topic to me--my view of God. The question was: "Do Mormon's worship Jesus the same as God? Or do they merely just thank him for his sacrifice?"

I worship Jesus as God AND I thank Him for His sacrifice. I’m unfamiliar with any educated Latter-day Saint who would ever minimize or diminish Jesus in anyway. On the contrary, we worship Him. We love Him. He is our Lord and Master. He has a whole ton of other applicable names, which I could rightfully list and appropriately believe in/on. He is the Shepherd of our Souls. Since He really means everything to us, it should come as no surprise that “we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ…that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins” (2 Nephi 25:20). The Book of Mormon really has an unparalleled focus on the messianic message of the Savior of the world.

I personally feel that what I do know about the Father, I know because I've come to know the Son. After all, he said "if you have seen me, you have seen the Father." I tend to think that means that they are so alike, so one, that I can know the Father better by knowing Christ. I don't think that scripture means that by seeing Jesus, you're also looking physically at our Father in Heaven, as Trinitarians would tend to believe. I just think it means that you can know a lot about a persons dad by looking at their children. Many people could say the same thing about me and my dad. But I'll comment about how I can also believe in Christ as Father in just a minute.

I readily admit that I feel like I know more about Jesus than I do of the Father. We have several paintings hanging up in our house of Jesus, and the scriptures too are a constant reminder of the preeminence that Christ has in my life. There are less physical reminders of my Heavenly Father. But remembering the forgoing statement, that to see Him is to see the Father brings peace to my soul, for to worship one is to worship the other. To glorify Christ brings glory to the Father.

I pray to the Father (my Father in Heaven) in the name of Christ, since Christ taught that we should do so. But I depend on Christ to be reconciled to the Father. So it should also come as no surprise if I tell you that it is Jesus who occupies the majority of my thoughts, as well as my adoration.

The second question was:
"How does Mormonism view the Atonement in light of belief that Jesus is not eternal but created?


That's kind of a leading question. I'll start with the beginning, and most important part of it--how we Mormons view the Atonement.

Latter-day Saints view the Atonement as the central act of all history—“the central fact, the crucial foundation, and the chief doctrine of the great and eternal plan of salvation”, as one apostle has put it. This is the source of our doctrine and everything else is secondary. There may be many important things, but none is more important than the infinite and eternal Atonement of Jesus Christ. Everything else pails in comparison. If you don't believe me, just read the The Book of Mormon or the Doctrine and Covenants.

As for the comment about “eternal” and “created”—I really don’t think many Latter-day Saints are going to say they know much about that. Time is measured only by men. For God, eternity is one eternal “now”. So Latter-day Saints really don’t think of Christ in terms like “created” versus “eternal”. Who is to say when “eternity begins” or who can comprehend how far back it stretches? Kind of mind boggling. Like my wedding ring, I can’t perceive a beginning or an end.

We have no narrative about Jesus being "created". This word only comes up when I'm in conversation with critics of the Church. "Created" is a word that never seems to come up with Latter-day Saints themselves. We have a narrative that states that He was with the Father from the beginning—and that’s about the extent of our thoughts. Our focus is more on making and keeping covenants than on theology.

Whether I’m thinking of God as an “office” of some sort, like the Godhead, or whether I’m thinking of each member of the Godhead individually yet fully God, it really matters not, as I believe that they are infinitely more one than they are separate. I believe the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are one in almost every conceivable way—except physically. Whether I can explain it or not--they are “one eternal God”. So when I read “God” in the scriptures, or think of making covenants “with God”—I tend to explore all aspects of what that means; I think of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and how interrelated they are. And I reverence and respect and deeply appreciate all three of them in their unified purpose and eternal plan of salvation, as well as their unique roles.

Some confusion might understandably come from not understanding how The Book of Mormon properly teaches of Christ as "the Father", and that “God himself” condescended to come into the world to bring salvation to the world. Trinitarians might be surprised to know that Latter-day Saints also consider Christ as “the Father” in certain regards, just as I can be both a father to my daughters and a son to my dad—but it’s still just me.

Jesus is the Father of our spiritual rebirth, as we are born again and take His name upon us. He is also the Father of this earth, since He created this earth under the direction of His Father. A case could appropriately be made that I have three dads! My earthly father, my Heavenly Father, and Jesus Christ as Father. Likewise a case can be made about Christ being “eternal”, as part of the eternal Godhead, as well as “created” because he was a Son, and the Firstborn. Most Latter-day Saints don’t tend to get caught up in the semantics, which is probably a cause of frustration to many critics of the Church.

I believe the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are distinct beings, and yes, they have their distinct roles. But as I said earlier, they are infinitely more one than they are separate. They are so one in almost every way, that I tend to focus more on their oneness and togetherness than I do on their distinctness and physical separateness.

Hebrews chapter 1, verses 1-10, seem to appropriately explain what I feel in my heart.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

I've Had Enough With The Anti-Mormons

So I was really enjoying having a cooperative, candid, and constructive conversation with someone not of our faith (named Andrea) who made some statements about Mormons which needed either to be explained and or corrected. I jumped in towards the end of the conversation, but I've never doubted her sincerity. I've also enjoyed reading the explanations of another Latter-day Saint, named Jared. And then comes a drive-by anti-Mormon (named Neil) who I have a somewhat long history with, who makes one last comment that ended up being the final straw that broke the cammel's back:

"[Clean Cut, you are] trying to sucker us now. I and others have shown you again and again how inconsistent your views are and how you worship a different Jesus than Christians do. You are disingenuous in the extreme. Mormons use the same vocabulary as Christians but have a different dictionary. Deception is not a good work."

Here is my response:

Neil, I think Andrea and any reader here can judge for themselves whether I’m trying to sucker you or simply correct what has been erroneously assumed. To be disingenuous means to not be candid or sincere, or to pretend to know less than I actually do. In no case, whatsoever, have I been disingenuous. In fact, I have strived with everything that I know to be just the opposite.

That’s an ad hominem attack. I’ve tried harder than you will ever know to be sincere and candid, and to tell you what is true and what is not based off what you’ve expressed about my faith. I have no agenda but to correct false beliefs about Mormons which you want to perpetuate among your evangelical friends. The only thing you and others like you have shown me is that you don’t really want to understand us–or know the truth. You want to continue to spread lies about Mormonism because you don’t like Mormonism, and you feel the end justifies the means. That, my friend, is not only rude, but deceitful.

And contrary to what you believe, you were unable to show me anything about my views and worship. You did, however, prove to me that you don’t really understand my views and worship, and you don’t care to get it straight either. You will go on in your anti-Mormon efforts, but in no way will I concede to you any uncontested “slam dunks”.

Believe what you will about my faith or how it doesn’t match up to your understanding of Christianity or your views on the Bible, but it doesn’t contradict the Bible or Christianity--[except for your brand of Traditional Christianity]. Well, perhaps your misguided beliefs about what Mormons believe contradict the Bible, but nothing the Mormons actually believe contradict the Bible. You’ve not only said things about us that contradict your views and go against your personal understanding of the Bible, but you’ve said things that contradict OUR views and our understanding. You have no copyright on truth or the correct understanding of the Bible. You don’t even have any authority. And you certainly don’t have a true grasp on Mormonism. You buy into the disrespectful, derogatory and demeaning language ("verbal violence")–and you perpetuate it.

Mormonism can and will stand up to any sincere investigation of anyone truly wanting to seek [the truth, and] understanding, but that doesn’t mean that we should concede to you the message of the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, or have you tell us what we are, who we are, or what we believe. I have no interest in conversing with any anti-Mormon who simply wants to mud-sling. You, Neil, have no interest in fairness and letting our message speak for itself. You just want to shoot us down and puff yourself up. I have no interest in arguing or debating your pet points about Mormonism, for you have shown no desire to understand or “get it right”–you just want to be right, and look real good doing it.

I have chosen to have a candid, constructive, and cooperative conversation with Andrea about our beliefs; where they differ, and where evangelicals seem to have gotten things wrong. You’ve validated your ticket to “more of the same”. Sincere dialogue to explore where our views differ is a “good work”. Correcting misunderstanding is a “good work”. Slinging out accusations out of fear, anger, intolerance, or because you’re convinced you’re right is not only a closed minded dismissal, but it puts up walls between us and causes more misunderstanding and confusion. Neil, that is what you have been all about on your blog. And that is not a “good work”.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

"If you believe all this, then why are you a Mormon?"

Because of my gratitude and understanding for the merciful blessing of repentance, I could speak about it all day and night, and never get tired of it. It's always at the forefront of my thoughts and my teaching. (I teach Sunday School.) It's not only a key to my gospel study, but gospel living. It's such an essential principle of the gospel, along with faith in Christ—fundamental--especially if our faith in Christ leads us unto repentance.

I like how the Bible Dictionary in the LDS scriptures talk about repentance. (The Bible dictionary is not scripture itself, but it's a great study help). It states: "The Greek word of which this is the translation denotes a change of mind, i.e., a fresh view about God, about oneself, and about the world. Since we are born into conditions of mortality, repentance comes to mean a turning of the heart and will to God, and a renunciation of sin to which we are naturally inclined. Without this there can be no progress in the things of the soul’s salvation, for all accountable persons are stained by sin, and must be cleansed in order to enter the kingdom of heaven. Repentance is not optional for salvation; it is a commandment of God."

I would venture to say that it's also one of the most positive aspects of the gospel, or "good news", of Jesus Christ. This is how we lay claim to Christ's mercy!

Obviously, our repentance, or whatever other works we manage to do out of love for God and our fellow man, is not what saves us. Christ saves us. That’s why we call Him the Savior. No knowledgeable Mormon will ever tell you that Mormons believe they can save themselves. That is a myth.

It is clear in the Bible, and even in The Book of Mormon, that "redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah; for he is full of grace and truth. Behold, he offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit; and unto none else". (2 Nephi 2:6-7)

The Atonement of Jesus Christ is so core, central, and fundamental in our faith and in our scriptures. This is why Joseph Smith declared: “The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it.”

Ultimately, I believe that none but the penitent, who have a broken heart and contrite spirit, are saved. This is how the great Plan of Salvation (also referred to by the Latter-day Saints as the great Plan of Mercy, the Plan of Happiness, the Plan of Redemption) is brought to pass, through exercising "faith unto repentance." (see Alma 34:13-17 in the Book of Mormon). Naturally, Jesus Christ is central and key to the Plan.

I made the above comment on another blog run by a Christian not of our faith. She had written some excellent thoughts about sin, daily repentance, and forgiveness. I sensed that she thought she was sharing something that would be strange to me, as a Mormon. She then asked my thoughts, and I told her that what she had said was not only beautiful, but true. And then I took some time to share my above thoughts about repentance, Jesus Christ, and the Plan of Salvation. But the line that seemed to sum up the fact that Mormons are still misunderstood by so many people of other faiths was what she said in response to my comment:

"I really appreciate your kind words about my writing and explanation of continual repentance. If you believe all this, then why are you a Mormon? I know you say you know what Mormons believe, and surely you do, but you ignore what the Mormon church has taught and what the leaders believe and have believed in the past."

Why is this a common misconception by evangelicals? The doctrine hasn't changed. The scriptures, especially the Book of Mormon, have always said this. Any thoughts?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

What Is Official "Mormon" Doctrine?

Due to several conversations both with members of the LDS Church and with several people not of the Mormon faith, I felt it would be important to clarify what exactly constitutes “what Mormons believe”, or in other words, “official doctrine”. Some do error if they actually think that the book Mormon Doctrine by Bruce R. McConkie is actually doctrine for the “Mormon” church. That’s a clever name for a book, but it's not actually the (official) truth. Those were his opinions. He was certainly very knowledgeable, and yes, he did become an apostle, but that doesn't make the book official doctrine. (And we all know he had to change some of his opinions as he learned more.) Some general authorities have even expressed opinions that run contrary to general Mormon belief. No worries, we’re not bound by speculation.

I think a quote from my former professor and mentor Stephen Robinson would be helpful here. He makes so many important points that seem to hit several nails right on the head:

“So what constitutes genuine Mormon doctrine? What is the LDS equivalent of “nihil obstat” and “imprimatur”? What do the Latter-day Saints believe? Can something be said to be “Mormon” doctrine if any Latter-day Saint anywhere believes it? If my LDS grandmother believed that frogs cause warts, or that the earth is flat, does that make those ideas LDS doctrine? If some LDS missionary somewhere believes that the earth is hollow and that the lost ten tribes are hiding inside, is his or her belief therefore LDS doctrine? Of course not.

“Virtually every religion has procedures for distinguishing the individual beliefs of its members from the official doctrines of the church, and so do the Latter-day Saints…

“B. H. Roberts, a General Authority of the LDS church, summarized the issue perhaps as well as anyone has:

“The Church has confined the sources of doctrine by which it is willing to be bound before the world to the things that God has revealed, and which the Church has officially accepted, and those alone. These would include the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, the Pearl of Great Price; these have been repeatedly accepted and endorsed by the Church in general conference assembled, and are the only sources of absolute appeal for our doctrine.”

“Of course it is true that many Latter-day Saints, from the Presidents of the Church and members of the Quorum of the Twelve down to individual members who may write books or articles, have expressed their own opinions on doctrinal matters. Nevertheless, until such opinions are presented to the Church in general conference and sustained by vote of the conference, they are neither binding nor the official doctrine of the Church. The critics of LDS doctrine seldom recognize this vital distinction. Rather, if any Latter-day Saint, especially one of the leading Brethren, ever said a thing, these critics take it to represent “Mormonism,” regardless of the context of the particular statement and regardless of whether any other Latter-day Saint ever said it or believed it. Often the Latter-day Saints themselves are guilty of this same error and search through the Journal of Discourses as if it were some sort of Mormon Talmud, looking for “new” doctrines not found in the standard works and not taught in the Church today.

“Usually the critics insist that the Latter-day Saints must defend as doctrine everything Joseph Smith or Brigham Young or any other General Authority ever said. But the LDS concept of doctrine simply cannot be stretched this far. The Latter-day Saints allow that sometimes the living prophet speaks in his role as prophet and sometimes he simply states his own opinions. This distinction is no different than that made in some other Christian denominations. For example, even though Roman Catholics believe in “papal infallibility,” they insist that the pope is infallible only in certain clearly defined circumstances –when he speaks ex cathedra on matters of faith and morals. Cannot the Latter-day Saints be allowed a similar distinction? The LDS view was expressed succinctly by Joseph Smith himself: “I told them that a prophet was a prophet only when he was acting as such.”

“Non-Mormon critics, on the other hand, often insist that the Brethren must speak and write prophetically at all times. This absolutist expectation usually flows out of an extreme inerrantist view of prophecy and of scripture that is held by the critics, but not by the Latter-day Saints. The critics’ belief in the Bible as absolutely perfect, without error and inspired in every word, leads them to make the same demands of anyone claiming to be a prophet. They would impose their inerrantist view on the Latter-day Saints and their prophets.

“But the Latter-day Saints have no such inerrantist views, neither of the scriptures nor of the prophets. The scriptures are the word of God, but only as far as they are translated [or transmitted] correctly; and prophets sometimes speak for the Lord, and sometimes they express their own opinions. Certainly, if the Latter-day Saints were radical inerrantists, such a view as the foregoing would be a contradiction and a scandal, but since we are not inerrantists, the view scandalizes only our inerrantist critics. B. H. Roberts expressed it in this way:

“It is not sufficient to quote sayings purported to come from Joseph Smith or Brigham Young upon matters of doctrine. Our own people also need instruction and correction in respect of this. It is common to hear some of our older brethren say, “But I heard Brother Joseph myself say so,” or “Brother Brigham preached it; I heard him.” But that is not the question. The question is has God said it? Was the prophet speaking officially?

As to the printed discourses of even leading brethren, the same principle holds. They do not constitute the court of ultimate appeal on doctrine. They may be very useful in the way of elucidation and are very generally good and sound in doctrine, but they are not the ultimate sources of the doctrines of the Church, and are not binding upon the Church. The rule in that respect is–What God has spoken, and what has been accepted by the Church as the word of God, by that, and that only, are we bound in doctrine.”

“In their encounters with anti-Mormon critics, quite often the Saints seem to feel constrained to defend too much. For example, the fact that Orson Pratt may have said such and such on this or that occasion does not make it a proposition that needs defending. Elder Pratt was very outspoken in his opinions, which sometimes disagreed with the opinions of other General Authorities. He was frequently instructed to make clear to his hearers or readers that his views were his own and not the doctrine of the Church; and on at least one occasion he was instructed by the President of the Church to recant publicly opinions he had represented as doctrine.

“Yet time and again the private opinions or even the half-serious speculations of Orson Pratt and others are presented in the literature of the anti-Mormons as mainstream LDS doctrine. The problem is compounded by some enthusiastic Latter-day Saints who themselves will not observe this distinction and insist on teaching the personal opinions and speculations of past leaders as though they were the official doctrines of the Church.

“Now, none of this should be taken to mean that in matters of administration within the LDS church the General Authorities are not inspired or that they must submit every policy decision to the members for a sustaining vote. The revelations recorded in the Doctrine and Covenants, already accepted as binding by the Church, along with the ordination to their callings give the Brethren the keys and authority to administer the affairs of the Church as the Lord may direct without their needing a sustaining vote for each individual decision. Thus the Church in conference sustains only the individuals who hold the keys, but does not need to sustain separately every detail of their administration. Consequently the policies and procedures of the Church are “official” and “inspired” whenever those holding the keys of that ministry unitedly declare them to be so. Similarly the revelations already accepted by the Church give to the General Authorities and to many others the right to “preach, teach, expound, exhort,”–that is, to interpret and apply existing doctrines within the context of their individual stewardships. The Brethren need no further license or sustaining vote to interpret, define, and apply the doctrines of the Church, or to administer the affairs of the Church and dictate its policies and procedures, than to be sustained in conference as prophets, seers, and revelators and as duly ordained members of their respective quorums.

“Latter-day Saints believe that the General Authorities receive inspiration and revelation from God constantly in the administration of the affairs of the Church. They also believe that individuals within the Church may receive personal revelation, even on doctrinal matters, for their private benefit. When doctrinal revelation is given to such individuals, however, the Lord commands them to keep it to themselves (see Alma 12:9). Such revelation is not for the Church generally, but for that individual alone. No new doctrine is binding as the official doctrine of the Church unless it has been received by the President of the Church and until it has been sustained by the Church in general conference.

“Finally, from an LDS point of view some things may be correct without being official Church doctrine. For example, it is probably true that the sum of the squares of the sides of a right triangle is equal to the square of its hypotenuse, but the Pythagorean theorem has never been sustained in a general conference of the Church. Similarly the doctrinal opinions of individual Latter-day Saints could very well turn out to be correct–and some such opinions are believed by many of the Saints –but that does not make them the official doctrine of the Church. This category of things that may be true and that are believed by some in the Church is confusing to members and nonmembers alike.

“Hence the Brethren have insisted again and again that the members avoid such speculative matters and teach only from the standard works, for only they contain the official doctrines of the Church.
For all of these reasons the only valid judgments of whether or not LDS doctrine is Christian must be based on the official doctrines of the Church, interpreted as the Latter-day Saints interpret them.”
(Stephen Robinson: “What is Official Doctrine" from the book "Are Mormon’s Christian?”)

Monday, August 4, 2008

To Our Evangelical Friends: Don't Be Suckered With "The God Makers"

The definition of a "sucker" is "a gullible and easily decieved person". Usually I'm not one to call names, but even Delbert Stapley once said "The Saints are suckers". Sometimes that's true. Unfortunately, I am astonished at how many of our evangelical friends and neighbors have been suckered into watching The God Makers (even in their own churches!) and actually believing it! Turns out there are more suckers in this religious world after all.

I'll give them the benefit of the doubt. It's hard to blame them for believing something that is so commonly spread around evangelical circles. Why would they ever feel the need to question the motives of their well respected pastors and church leaders?

It's even more ironic that so many of them insist that we're the ones who have been deceived. If only they knew the kind of garbage they've been fed about "the Mormons." Truman Madsen has called The God Makers "religious pornography." I couldn't agree more. This kind of deception, spread not only by The God Makers but by other anti-Mormon "ministries" often takes years for unsuspecting and believing Christians to disbelieve it and recognize it for what it actually is.

Kudos to those who are courageous enough to come to a realization that they have not been given the full truth by those who they'd expect to get truth from the most. (Note to self: When wanting to learn about other churches--go directly to a practicing member of that church!) Once the lies, smearing, or half-truths have been dished out and allowed to simmer without clarification on the part of those who know better, the end result is suspicion, religious bias, and ignorance rather than true understanding, tolerance, and love.

For those who haven't heard of "The God Makers", it is an anti-Mormon film produced in 1982 by Ed Decker and Jeremiah Films. The church is "portrayed as a multi-billion dollar corporation that destroys marriages and drives members who cannot live up to its standards to commit suicide. The doctrine of the Mormon church, as portrayed by the filmmakers, involves an obsession with godhood and the population of other worlds through a process referred to as “endless celestial sex.” (Wikipedia)

A sequel was produced in 1993 entitled The God Makers II. Watching it would have been almost laughable to me if not for being so perplexed at such deliberately deceptive tactics. For example, the producers interview a "Mormon Fundamentalist" who explains how she was brought up and taught to live polygamy, without ever even explaining that "Mormon Fundamentalists" have no modern connection to the Mormon Church at all; that they're all splinter groups broken off years ago.

I'm sure the makers of this "religious pornography" don't mind one bit perpetuating the myth/misperception that Mormons are polygamists without ever mentioning that polygamy was done away with over a hundred years ago, and never practiced by the majority of Latter-day Saints anyway. It was the exception rather than the rule. Monogamy, not polygamy, has always been the standard doctrine. (Even in the Old Testament, polygamy was the exception (Abraham and his wives, etc.) rather than the rule). But polygamy is the least of the lies.

The film’s narrator adds that the temple is used for “only secret ceremonies which are reserved for an elite few,” and that temple attendance is required in order that “the worthy Mormon can become a god himself in the life hereafter, ruling over his own planet, with a number of goddess wives.” It teaches that Mormons expect to become “infinite gods” and populate planets through “celestial sex” with their “goddess wives.” And on, and on, and on.

Um, no.

Not only is it not true, but it's inflammatory and repulsive. There might very well be more suckers outside of the church that believe this than suckers inside the church.

Among other inflamatory and maliciously deceptive statements are:

*Entire Mormon "doctrine flows from this about becoming gods.”
*God the Father lives on a planet called Kolob.
*God the Father journeyed to earth “from the Starbase Kolob,” to “have sex with the virgin Mary, in order to provide Jesus with a physical body.”
*It is also stated that Jesus Christ, referred to as the “Mormon Jesus,” had a number of children through multiple wives.

What LDS Sunday School class did they attend? Not only is this stuff not true, but it sounds like something from a bad science fiction movie. And yet in all my interactions with evangelicals on other blogs and with friends I've grown up with--this is the kind of stuff that is believed and constantly brought up by them about "the Mormons"!

Little wonder why we're accussed of not being honest with them when they never hear us talking about this stuff. We don't talk about it because we don't believe it! Yet, there are some who still think we actually believe it but keep it a secret. If I were them, I'd sure be suspicious too.

Is there anyone out there who will trust that what we actually tell you is what we actually believe?! Is there anyone out there who actually wants to sincerely investigate truth for truth's sake?


The film created “considerable religious controversy” in some of the communities in which it was shown and that the negative reaction came from both Mormons and non-Mormons. Rhonda M. Abrams, the Regional Director of the Anti Defamation League of the B’nai B’rith, stated:

"I sincerely hope that people of all faiths will similarly repudiate ‘The Godmakers’ as defamatory and untrue, and recognize it for what it truly represents- a challenge to the religious liberty of all."

It was noted by LDS scholars that the film deliberately “portrays Mormonism as a cult far removed from mainstream Christianity,” and that many statements that are represented as Mormon doctrine are not actual doctrine, with a particular emphasis on “those ideas which would seem most anomalous to Christians.” In particular, the repeated references to “endless celestial sex” are viewed as “absurd and profane.”

LDS respondents claim that the film portrays all Mormons as either part of the conspiracy to cover up information, or as being deluded by their leaders.

National Conference of Christians and Jews (NCCJ) editor Max Jennings attended a showing in Mesa Arizona that was “sponsored by a group known as Concerned Christians” whose purpose was “to reach out in love to those lost in Mormonism.” Jennings reported that “If what I saw Tuesday night is love, I must have had the wrong Sunday School lessons back in that dusty west Texas Methodist Church of my childhood. I didn’t hear anyone reaching out in love Tuesday night. I heard people reaching out in hatred of another’s right to believe what he wants.”

The NCCJ committee sent a letter to “Concerned Christians” on 5 December 1983 which stated, among other things, that,
The film does not fairly portray the Mormon Church, Mormon history, or Mormon belief. It makes extensive use of half-truths, faulty generalizations, sensationalism, and is not reflective of the true spirit of Mormon faith. We find particularly offensive the emphasis that Mormonism is some sort of subversive plot-a danger to the community, a threat to the institution of marriage, and destructive to the mental health of teenagers. We are of the opinion that the film relies heavily on appeals to fear, prejudice and unworthy human emotions."

Thank heavens somebody sees through the bunk.

The Truth About "The God Makers"

Friday, August 1, 2008

Marinate Your Mind and Celebrate Your Ignorance

I recently read a fascinating post entitled "Robbery: To Be Equal With God". I've been wondering why we don't see more of this kind of discussion in LDS blogs. I've given a lot of thought to this "Becoming like God/becoming gods" debate lately, both within LDS circles and also in evangelical circles.

I enjoy reading the comments and hearing the opinions of people from all sides of the spectrum. I feel so much truth in the statement that whatever we become or attain only adds to God's glory, and that as we become one with Him, hierarchy becomes meaningless.

One helpful clarification about the idea that we can become like God was given by the Church in response to an interview by Fox News:

"We believe that the apostle Peter's biblical reference to partaking of the divine nature and the apostle Paul's reference to being 'joint heirs with Christ' reflect the intent that children of God should strive to emulate their Heavenly Father in every way. Throughout the eternities, Mormons believe, they will reverence and worship God the Father and Jesus Christ. The goal is not to equal them or to achieve parity with them but to imitate and someday acquire their perfect goodness, love and other divine attributes."

I remember hearing, as a kid, about "becoming a god of my own planet"--but not from official sources. This must have been one of those popular "folklore" ideas spread around for long enough that people started believing it. I wasn't appalled by that idea then, but I've also come to know that that is not "Mormon doctrine" and not something I really believe, but nor is it something I totally disbelieve. I'm not required to believe it, but I'm not ruling it out. But there is no way I'm ever going to think myself so important and great that I would ever cease praising and worshipping the Godhead for eternity. There is no way I could ever get over all that has been done for me. No matter what I become in eternity, I will will always (eternally) recognize I was completely and utterly dependent on God and the merits, mercy, and grace of His Son. God, my Heavenly Father, will always be my Father. God, the Son--Jesus Christ--will always be my Savior.

So I'm not going to spend much time or put any stock into things we just don't know beyond my current covenants. There are some "far out there" statements that some people have made, and some suckers both in and out of the church make the mistake of thinking that's what all Mormons must believe.

What I do believe is that we can and need to strive to become like God--not become Him or replace Him--but become like Him and one with Him. That, too me, is the plan. I don't have any greater ambition than that. So that's what I say when I go onto other blogs and try to clarify those common misperceptions--sometimes intentional misperceptions about us that are taught more in other churches about us than we ever even discuss among ourselves! But I realize that I can only speak for myself and not all Mormons as a whole since there isn't a well defined standard understanding. There's always bound to be some confusion.

On the other hand, I'm not going to rule something out if He has greater plans for us than we even realize. But I'm not one to dwell in speculation.

I tend to think that it would be better if more of us Latter-day Saints would more often celebrate our ignorance rather than pretend we have all the answers to the complexities of this life or eternal life.

I enjoy "marinating my mind" with questions a lot more than I enjoy feeling smug in thinking I have all the right answers. I take some gratification in all that I do know, but I think there should be a greater satisfaction, even an exhilaration, to realize how much potential we haven't even begun to tap into or understand waiting for us on the other side of the veil.