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I'm a Christian, married to a wonderful man, Steven, and mother to a wonderful little son. I have many interests and a few noteworthy journeys in life and I enjoy sharing them.

Friday, May 20, 2011

The First Article of Faith: Who is God?

"We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in his Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost."

Okay. All well-and-good. But who are they in the Mormon faith, and who are they in the Bible? We're going to begin with God the Eternal Father.

When the LDS faith started off, the idea of God was very Trinitarian. Joseph Smith didn't even begin talking about the current version of the First Vision (there were a few versions before it) until 1842, only a couple of years before his death (http://www.mormonthink.com/firstvisionweb.htm#thefirstvision). This can also be seen in the Book of Mormon.

Mosiah 15:1-4 And now Abinadi said unto them: I would that ye should understand that God himself shall come down among the children of men, and shall redeem his people. And because he dwelleth in flesh he shall be called the Son of God, and having subjected the flesh to the will of the Father, being the Father and the Son—The Father, because he was conceived by the power of God, and the Son, because of the flesh; thus becoming the Father and Son—And they are one God, yea, the very Eternal Father of heaven and of earth.

2 Nephi 31:21 …And now, behold, this is the doctrine of Christ, and the only and true doctrine of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, which is one God, without end. Amen.

Alma 11:44 …Christ the Son, and God the Father, and the Holy Spirit, which is one Eternal God…

Alma 18:28 …Believest thou that this Great Spirit, who is God, created all things which are in heaven and in the earth?

 There was also a very clear view of God as always having been God, eternal and unchanging.

Mormon 9:9 For do we not read the God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and in him there is no variableness neither shadow of changing?

Moroni 8:18 For I know that God is not a partial God, neither a changeable being; but he is unchangeable from all eternity to all eternity.

However, this view began to change dramatically and quickly. First, in his School of the Prophets, Joseph Smith began teaching of Jesus and God as separate beings, which led to his eventual final "first vision" story. God developed into a being of flesh and blood, separate from the other members of the Godhead and very much like a human being. Then, near the end of his life, Smith made another dramatic change in identifying God.

In his King Follet Discourse in April of 1844, Joseph Smith said this before a large gathering of saints:

“God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens! That is the great secret. If the veil were rent today, and the great God who holds this world in its orbit, and who upholds all worlds and all things by His power, was to make himself visible,—I say, if you were to see him today, you would see him like a man in form like yourselves in all the person, image, and very form as a man; for Adam was created in the very fashion, image and likeness of God, and received instruction from, and walked, talked and conversed with Him, as one man talks and communes with another.”

“Here, then, is eternal life—to know the only wise and true God; and 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, until you attain to the resurrection of the dead, and are able to dwell in everlasting burnings, and to sit in glory, as do those who sit enthroned in everlasting power.”

D&C 132:20 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 a matter of years, God has gone from being a single being of a triune nature, to a being who once was a man like us, and who progressed to godhood--and the extension is that we can become gods, too.

I know I've discussed some of the problems with this elsewhere in this blog, but understanding this fundamental difference between the Christian God, born out of Judaism, and the Mormon God is profound.

When Joseph Smith changed the view of God this radically, he changed the religion from being monotheistic to henotheistic. While monotheism accepts the existence and worship of only one true God, henotheism accepts the existence of many gods but the worship of only one (as opposed to polytheism, which accepts both existence and worship of many gods).

God now has no longer always been God--he was once a man named Elohim, and probably a sinful one, unless he happened to be his world's version of Christ. However, since the LDS belief is that Jesus will inherit this Kingdom, and we would assume that the savior of "Elohim's world" did the same, that doesn't seem likely, unless I am misunderstanding what I learned as a Mormon. God is not eternally perfect, he is not eternally God, he is not the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow, and he is supposedly still progressing.

"God himself is increasing and progressing in knowledge, power, and dominion, and will do so, worlds without end," (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, vol. 6, p. 120).

How does this compare to Christian beliefs? Like I said, I know I've address this before, but its worth looking at again.

In Christianity, God the Father is part of the Trinity that makes up one God.

Isaiah 9:6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 

God is also a singular God--there are no other true Gods, never have been, and never will be.

Isaiah 43:10 …Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me.

Isaiah 44:6, 8 This is what the LORD says, Israel’s King and Redeemer, the LORD Almighty: I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God. Do not tremble, do not be afraid. Did I not proclaim this and foretell it long ago? You are my witnesses. Is there any God besides me? No, there is no other Rock; I know not one.

God is eternal and unchanging.

Psalm 90:2
Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

Isaiah 9:6
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 26:4
Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD himself, is the Rock eternal.

Romans 1:20
For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

God's ways are not the ways of a human being.

Isaiah 55: 8-9 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.  “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts."

God is spirit.

John 4:24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”

This does not sound at all like the God worshiped in the LDS religion.

The thing is, God is so much more than the man who became a god who fathered our spirits (which he didn't--he created us, and we become his children through adoption--Romans 8). He is the God who loved us enough to give us existence, then to give us choices. He is the God who then made a plan to reconcile us to him despite us making choices that separate us from him--sin. He took on flesh himself and came down to be the ultimate perfect sacrifice for our sins, so that all who believe might have eternal life with him.

Imagine that for just a moment. God--eternal, almighty, perfect, all-knowing, all-powerful--love you so much that he became a mortal, limited his flesh, as Jesus, and died a horrible, shameful death...for you.

John 3:16
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life

John 1:1, 14
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. 

Romans 5:8
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

God has this amazing, complete, eternal love for us. Shouldn't we give him the same?


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