Are Mormon and Evangelical Views of God Really That Different?

Because of a certain person who shall go nameless — let’s call him M. Romney or Mitt R. — the question of Mormon differences from historical Christianity has been very much in the air.  Not too long ago, for instance, we published an article (part of a broader discussion on the topic) in which Warren Cole Smith explained why he, as an evangelical, could not vote for a Mormon.  This became a very controversial piece, eliciting no fewer than three responses in the Washington Post.  I have staked out the opposite position: as an evangelical, I’m very comfortable voting for a Mormon.  But Warren and I agree on a more fundamentally theologically question: we both believe there are clear and important theological differences between Mormonism and historical Christianity.  Those differences worry Warren when he assesses a presidential candidate, while I don’t believe those differences would lead a Mormon to make different policy decisions than a Christian.

Now, along comes a study that purports to show that Americans in general are more Mormon in their theology than they might be prepared to admit.  The study comes from Gary Lawrence, a Ph.D. from Stanford (which earns him plaudits in my book, being a Stanford man myself) and a Latter-Day Saint.

You can read about it in this piece from the Deseret News’ excellent religion reporter, Michael DeGroote.  As you’ll discover if you read the article, DeGroote asked for my perspective on a couple questions in the study — and I’ll flesh it out in detail here.  The two questions under discussion are these:

QUESTION A: Half of those polled were asked: Do you believe that God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost are:

  1. “three separate beings” — 27%
  2. “three Beings in one body or substance” — 66%

QUESTION B: The other half were asked: The New Testament says that God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost are one.  Do you believe that means they are:

  1. “one in purpose” — 58%
  2. “one in body” — 31%

When Michael read the questions aloud to me, I started chuckling before he had finished.  Do you see the slipperiness in the questions?  From the article:

Lawrence said that Mormons say the oneness of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in the New Testament is an oneness of purpose. The positive response of Christians to this concept in the second question surprised Lawrence. “I was wondering if there was a difference. I wasn’t expecting a flip-flop. But it was. It just shifts from two-to-one one way and almost two-to-one the other way,” Lawrence said.

In other words, the first question gets more or less the results you would expect.  Traditional Christians know they cannot say that God is “three separate beings” (the Mormon view, roughly speaking) so they choose the other option: God is “three beings in one body or substance.”  When they do not choose to say that the Triune God is “one in body” in the next question (only 31% say that), then Dr. Lawrence calls this a “flip-flop.”  When you focus on the differentiation in the Trinity, he says, Christians by and large do not accept the Mormon view.  When you focus on the manner of their unity, however, orthodox Christians show that they really agree with Mormonism.  But is this really a flip-flop?

Of course not — and anyone should be able to see why.  The first question asks whether the Triune God is “three Beings in one body or substance,” whereas the second question just says “one in body” (i.e., no “substance” option is given here).

QUESTION A puts together two very, very different options into a single answer.  As shown by the low percentage who answer “one in body” in Question B, Christians know they should not say that the Triune God is “one in body” (because God is immaterial).  But they also know they cannot say that God is three separate beings.  So they say “one in body or substance,” but they really mean “one in substance.”  The orthodox language is that God is three Persons (hypostases – “Beings” here is not good language) in one substance (ousia).  But this is like asking: “Do you believe that Jesus is (1) a vegetable, or (2) a devil or the Son of God?”  You would have to choose B, right?  But that hardly implies you believe that Jesus is the devil.

QUESTION B then reduces the options in order to get an opposite result.  If I went on to ask, “Do you believe Jesus is the devil?”, then I could not accuse people who answered in the negative of flip-flopping, because I really wasn’t asking equivalent questions.  But Question B is deceptive in another way.  My understanding is that the people polled were encouraged to answer one of the two options (although some apparently wriggled out).  Now, given a choice between “one in body” and “one in purpose,” I too would have to choose “one in purpose” because “one in body” is repugnant to historical theology.  So, yes, it’s true enough that they are united in purpose, but I also believe they are united in other ways that are profoundly important (such as being one in substance).  This is one way in which these kinds of “which one is closer” questions can be misleading.

Lawrence, however, defended his wording of the questions, “The average American is not a trained theologian in any denomination. And so you have to phrase the question to capture the variable you want in words that the respondent can readily relate to and understand.”…To Lawrence, the difference in wording between “one in body” and “one in substance” is “theological minutia” and wouldn’t have made a difference.

But this is absurd.  First, the problem is not one of theological wording.  It’s a logical problem.  You cannot claim that “X is A or B” conflicts with “X is not B.”  There is simply no justification for altering the wording in the two questions and then being surprised when you receive different results.  Also, neither Mormons nor orthodox Christians will agree that it’s a trivial matter whether the Triune God is one “in substance” or one “in body.”  These are very different things!  The possession of bodies is precisely one of the distinguishing factors between Mormon and traditional Christian conceptions of God.  No orthodox Christian who knows the slightest bit of theology — and, granted, many don’t — will refer to the three Persons as united “in body,” whereas every Christian who genuinely knows her theology will affirm that they are united in substance.

I’m all for improving relationships between Mormons and evangelicals.  Many evangelicals have a crude and unfair understanding of Mormon beliefs and practices.  I’m also all for encouraging evangelicals to understand that they can vote for a Mormon in good conscience.  But there are two principles to bear in mind:

First, we do not improve understanding between two communities by blurring the differences between them.  We cannot articulate the reasons why we believe the things we believe, and we cannot properly understand why another community believes what it believes, until we know exactly the differences between us.  When we blur the distinctions between two religious groups, we alienate the true believers in those groups (who will see that we’re watering down their beliefs), we create the conditions for explosive misunderstandings later, and — most importantly — we do an injustice to the traditions we represent.

Second, differences of belief between Mormons and evangelicals can be important theologically and even soteriologically (in regards to salvation) without being important politically. Your personal view on whether the Triune God is “one in substance” or “one in purpose” will not shape your view on the New START Treaty, and it will not shape the way in which you’re likely to respond to an economic crisis.  Some fundamental theological questions — questions like the existence of a God, or the sanctity of life, or the importance of family — will clearly have policy consequences and predictive value for a politician’s behavior, but those happen to be the areas where Mormons and evangelicals are substantially united.  When it comes to the finer theological distinctions, important though they are, the best guide to what a politician will do or promote in office is what the politician has actually done and promoted in office before.

About Timothy Dalrymple

Timothy Dalrymple was raised in non-denominational evangelical congregations in California. The son and grandson of ministers, as a young boy he spent far too many hours each night staring at the ceiling and pondering the afterlife.
 
In all his work he seeks a better understanding of why people do, and do not, come to faith, and researches and teaches in religion and science, faith and reason, theology and philosophy, the origins of atheism, Christology, and the religious transformations of suffering

  • Jay

    Tim you’ve put a lot of thought into this, and I appreciate that you come from your background and certainly are of a more theological bent than the “run-of-the-mill” Mormon or evangelical. I’m no expert on the creeds, but I sincerely have to wonder if the same run-of-the-mill evangelical or Mormon will have much more than the slightest idea what you’re talking about.

    A definition, or at least a better definition, of “substance” might help. Example, Aluminum is a substance. Could they each (each member of the Godhead) be made of that metal?

    • Rae

      Jay, I agree. I consider myself a fairly intelligent person but was very confused regarding body/substance.

    • Tom

      The problem with Body is that it implies physical matter. The Substance of God is not matter or energy, nor anything understandable from our Newtonian perspective. Goodness if you will, or Love. Spirit’s always a good stand in but the Divine substance is beyond human comprehension. To further the problematic nature of the word “body”, Jesus in fact had one (for Catholics he still has). Neither the Father nor the Holy Spirit, have or have ever had bodies.

  • Indy

    How does this square with the Mormon doctrine that stated “As man is, God once was. As God is, man may become.” Doctrine that clearly states that men who lead a righteous life can attain Godhood is clearly a doctrine that is non-Biblical based. If I had any wish, it would be for people to become educated on what Mormon doctrine says – read their literature for yourself. Does Mr. Romney have the right to run for office – absolutely. Do I have the right not to vote for him because of his religious affiliation – absolutely. Yes religion matters.

    • ned

      When you write “is clearly a doctrine that is non-Biblical based”, you should label that as your own interpretation of the Bible. You should then acknowledge that others may have different interpetations. I can assure you that Mr. Romney believes in freedom of speech, which means, according to John Stuart Mill (type his name into google to access his views), that we listen respectfully to those with whom we disagree.

    • JCalvin

      Yes, in the privacy of the voting booth, who will know?
      The problem I see is that the election is not about religion. It’s about whether the candidate represents the best interests of the voter. Personally I believe in the “wall of separation between church and state”. Call me a constitutionalist but I believe the founding fathers were right in designating there “shall be no religious test” for office in this country.

    • Sid Shreeve

      That doctrine is clearly Biblical. Paul stated to the Romans (Rom. 8: 16-17) that we are the children of God and if children then heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ. How are you an heir of God, save you become like Him. Further, Christ inherits all things of the Father–all things. If we can become joint heirs with Christ then we too can inherit all things–all that the Fathers is. God the Father will always remain as God the Father of our spirits and Christ will always remain our Redeemer and Savior, but we have the possibility of because as the Father is and doing the things that He has done. it’s Biblical and it’s logical. What kind of father does not want to have His children attain all the good things that he has? If God is all powerful and omnipotent, He can do anything He wants. Why would He choose to make his children forever His inferiors? He as the power to let them become as He is. Then why, in the view of evangelicals and other Christians, would He choose to make us everlastingly His inferiors? What kind of god do these people believe in? What kind of father do they think He is? I find it absolutely incredible that Christians balk at Paul’s teachings. How can they believe in the god they believe in… arbitrary, self-centered such that he does not want anyone or anything to be like him, yet he has the power to let his children be like him if he wanted to, but according to these people he will never do that. I ask again, what kind of god or father do they believe in. The truth is that God the Father delights in having His children progress and attain everything that He has–that is His work and His glory. That is the thing that brings Him joy. That is a God we can love and believe it–His love and His power lift us to something so wonderful and glorious and exciting out there in awe-inspiring endlessness of eternity… out there beyond time and space. It is wonderful, it is inspiring, it is at once humbling and ennobling–that is a blessing and an opportunity that comes from a God… a Father who loves us. That is a God and a Father to whom in the deepest humility we thank for His Son who makes it all possible. These are the blessings that come to the Family of God… worlds without end.

    • Saucy

      Dear Indy,

      Something that is “non-Biblical based” would not be in the Bible, right? Well then please explain why there are references to us being gods, hence Goodhood, in the Bible.

      Psalm 82:1 “God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods.”

      Psalm 82:6 “I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.”

      St John 10:34 “Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?”

      I am a literal daughter of God and I was created in his image, therefore I can attain Godhood if I follow the example of Jesus, my elder brother.

      Have a Blessed day <3

  • DougH

    An excellent little post, and one I’ll agree with in the particular – while there are ways in which mainstream Christians are often more Mormon than they know, the question of God’s physical nature isn’t one of them. (The one I encountered most as a Mormon missionary was the LDS doctrine on the eternal nature of the family.) The logical problems with the two questions you point out at dot on, though I personally find it interesting that 27% agreed that the Trinity are three separate beings, considering how few Christian churches think that.

    I do have one minor quibble, though, and that is the use of the phrase “historical Christianity.” It’s too broad, implicitly giving Christianity a unity that it has never had. At best, it means “views held by most Christians for most of Christianity’s history,” and even there it could only be applied to views shared by both the Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches.

    • Tracy Gross

      Sorry Doug, but, you don’t understand “mainstream” Christians. “Mainstream” Christians believe that Jesus IS God! Co-equal and Co-eternal with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit.

      I suggest you visit a “Mainstream” Christian Bookstore, you’ll find the Mormon material in the “Cult” section!

      • Sid Shreeve

        I grow weary of so-called main stream Christians who persist in calling the LDS Church a cult. The incredible naivete is almost not ever worthy of comment. There are something around 14 million members around the world. The growth of the Church has been spectacular–millions upon millions of people from all around the world testify in humility that through the Spirit they know that the Church is the Restored Church that Jesus set up on the earth in His day which was lost through apostasy through the Dark Ages, In fulfillment of various prophecies from Isaiah, to Ezekiel, to Daniel, to Peter and Paul and many other–the Church of Jesus Christ was restored upon the earth and is know as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is the most Biblically founded Christian church. It is based upon lay ministers and thousands upon thousands of missionaries throughout the world who pay their own way because of their love of the truth and their love of their fellow man. There are no multimillionaire televangelists in the LDS Church–it is run by lay ministers and the people themselves. In recent times the LDS Church has distributed some 300 million tons of food, medication, and bedding to people in disaster areas from Indonesia, to Haiti, to Africa, to Latin America and for areas such as New Orleans and Katrina. Millions upon millions of man hours have been donated to disaster areas all around the world–young people, old people, helping their fellow man overcome the effects of disasters. Now, I ask: is that the work of a cult? Why in the world would some ignorant, naive person use the world cult to describe the LDS Church. Please…

      • Jen

        To Tracy.
        Just sad that you would come out with something like that. You need to educate yourself a little better than that. I pray for you.

    • EssEm

      views held by most Christians for most of Christianity’s history,” and even there it could only be applied to views shared by both the Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches.

      I’m pretty sure that’s mostly what “historical Christianity” means, since Rome and Constantinople account for 1500 years and almost 2/3 of contemporary Christians.

      And certainly the European Reformed traditions held tightly to the the same doctrines about the Trinity and Incarnation.

    • Common Sense

      I have to agree with DougH on the use of “Historical Christianity”. After using this term, the author tellingly slips back into using only the word “Christian” to distinguish his own theology.

      It is a conceit of mainstream Christianity today to take it for granted that anything diverging from the Nicene Creed–which was crafted in much the same manner as sausage–constitutes an innovation. The fact that diverging interpretations of scripture were stomped out violently during the Classical and Middle Ages does not mean that any resurgence of those beliefs is not “Historical”.

      Your heretic, my martyr. Either way, they were obviously Christians. The Romans crucified them and fed them to lions along with all the other Christians. Later, they embraced one particular brand of Christianity and then resumed killing all the other brands. First they killed them for being Christians, then they killed them for not fitting their definition of Christians. Let’s not celebrate that embarrassing chapter in the history of Christendom by perpetuating the same attitudes.

      Isn’t there a way to distinguish this theological divide without insulting my relationship with my Savior and deprecating my discipleship? I’d even be okay with the term “Christian Heretic”, if that’s the best you can do. I just don’t think that Evangelicals have any notion of how deeply wounding and instulting it is to be told that you have no relationship with the Lord and Master who paid for your sins.

      Tell me my church is false. Tell me my prophet is an impostor and a sham. Tell me my baptism isn’t valid. Just don’t tell me I’m not a Christian. The Romans would have nailed us both to crosses right next to each other and in all probability we would have died with the same prayer on our lips and the same hope of soon kissing our Master’s feet.

      Tim, I call you brother and I call you Christian, and I wouldn’t dream of ever taking either title away from you. I know just from reading your words that you love the Savior as much as I do, whatever the theological divide between us, and that you are doing your best to follow his example and teachings. Would it be so hard for you to say the same to me? How about to those 27% above who answered “incorectly”, wether by accident, ignorance, or heterodoxy?

      • Charlie

        “The Romans would have nailed us both to crosses right next to each other ”

        True, very true!!

        And try to explain to the Taliban today that evangelicals and mormons aren’t all christians!

      • Michael

        How about “non-creedal Christian”?

      • Fred Barrett

        Common Sense; You are my brother and I can tell that you love the Savior as I do. I believe that is the problem on both sides of the fence when it comes to Evangelicals and Latter-day Saints.

        I am thankful for the knowledge the Lord has poured out upon myself and do know that whatever knowledge we lack we can depend on our Savior to reveal it to us in the resurrection. I do know their is non other name given under heaven whereby we may be saved only in and thru Jesus Christ the Lord.

        I do think this was a great article.

      • Timothy Dalrymple

        I’m not, in this post, taking a position on the “Are Mormons Christian?” question. If I said “Mormons and other Christians,” or “Mormons and non-Mormon Christians,” I would be predetermining the issue. If I said “Mormons and true Christians,” then again I would be predetermining the issue. I chose “historical Christianity” or “orthodox Christianity” because Mormonism has manifest differences with the historically orthodox stream. Most Mormons will acknowledge this, and suggest that the historically orthodox stream ran off course. That’s fine, but the differences remain, and until I find a better term I’ll stick with “historical Christian” or “orthodox Christian” to refer to Christians who are not Mormon.
        -Tim

        • DougH

          I appreciate that you are trying to avoid the “are Mormons Christian” question with “historical Christianity,” I’m just not sure it’s possible. For myself, I prefer the term “mainstream Christianity,” which seems about the same as your “orthodox Christianity.” Historically speaking, there have been some pretty strange heresies recognized by historians as Christian.

        • Common Sense

          I confess I was surprised at your terminology because you have been very careful to step around this issue till now. I must point out to you, though, that you did slip into using only “Christian” as a differentiator after a few initial “Historical Christian” references. I didn’t for an instant believe that this was intentional, but it is at least as careless as the language in the survey that you are criticizing.

          I will state for the record that I think you have a valid point with this article. I do not believe that Mr. Degroote intended to skew his results, but this illustrates the importance of interdenominational collaboration on any study of this kind. I think, in fact, that the only way to achieve valid results would be to construct questions devoid of any buzzwords that are featured in creeds, catechisms, and articles of faith. I remain impressed, however by the 27% figure, though I am fully with you in tossing out the 58% as the result of a false dichotomy.

          I invite you to reconsider your thinking on the term “Historical” and instead use one of the others that have been suggested. Imagine yourself reading a similar article on a Catholic website where the author differentiates between Roman/Orthodox Christianity and Protestantism with the term “historical” in the same manner that you differentiate between Nicene and non-Nicene. You draw your chronological line in the sand in a place very convenient to your own perspective and thus claim for your own faith a very arbitrary token of legitimacy over mine.

          The word you choose should meet the logical test of being reversible. Are you prepared to argue that any non-Nicene Christianity is “ahistorical”? “Traditional” is just as concise, a bit more accurate, and not nearly as offensive. It differentiates just as well with far fewer peripheral assertions.

  • http://apprising.org Ken Silva

    Leaving aside the matter of Christian conscience as to whom one may vote for; and having ministered in the Salt Lake City area for ten years, I have studied Mormonism in great depth.

    As nice a people as they may be, the LDS Church is polytheistic; they believe in many gods beyond Heavenly Father, Jesus, and Holy Spirit.

    Their god Heavenly Father aka Elohim is a resurrected man who became a god through adhering to what we now know as Mormonism.

    I covered their view of God from official LDS sources here: http://apprising.org/2010/09/03/the-god-of-glenn-beck/

    • A.W.

      You are wrong. Latter-day Saints do not believe in many gods. We have one God – God the Father. Just because we believe we are created in His image and can become as He is, doesn’t mean we believe in each other as other gods. In order to be polytheistic, we’d have to do just that – worship each other. The very idea is ridiculous. As is anyone who is not LDS trying to explain LDS beliefs, regardless of their experience.

    • Common Sense

      I’m just a guest here, but I’m not sure this is the kind of forum for your ideas. I’m afraid that this row has been hoed before, by the likes of Ed Decker and his ilk. I feel it my charitable, Christian duty to warn you that you are offering your product in an already crowded marketplace.

      If you want to sell your brand of Mormon-bashing, you’ll have to be more shrill and you’ll need a different venue. Try to get some former members with an axe to grind to give you some inflammatory quotes. That’s always effective. Don’t forget to get some quotes from non-doctrinal works of uncertain origin as well.

      The article you replied to was a thoughtful one with a valid critique of a particular study. I don’t think your brand of “ministry” has any place in this discussion, but the author may feel differently. If he does, I have misjudged him.

  • Doug King

    Yes, the Nicene Creed and LDS theology posit distinct and irreconcilable ideas about the nature of God. That’s pretty important given that the number one commandment is to love God. However:

    A. Both systems of theology have certain aspects that are illogical or beyond comprehension to the human mind.

    B. Statement (A) is unsurprising given scriptural admonitions to “live by faith” and warnings that “worldly wisdom” judges Christ as “foolishness.”

    I think it’s far more important to focus on:
    C: The 2nd greatest commandment is to love others as ourselves.

    Here’s a question that might be more relevant to the differences between those who profess Christianity: Can we break the 2nd commandment and still keep the 1st commandment? It’s probably a more complex question than it sounds, but IMHO I think most serious disciples of Christ would tend to say “No” in most situations. In other words, if we keep #1, we will also keep #2. If we break #2, it’s because we’ve already broken #1. Of course, we always fail at some point in whatever we do. But perfection is not the measuring stick in answering the question — it’s our attitudes and our progress.

    I am pragmatic, and I think true religion is to try and practice the virtues modeled by the Savior. I see no benefit in dwelling extensively on theology if we neglect love for others. How we treat people — especially those different from us — is far more revealing of our deepest beliefs and values than the professions of our lips.

    I do not discount theology — the nature of God is what comes to mind when we pray. My LDS beliefs help me feel connected to God. But I am reluctant to separate commandments #1 and #2. The very same LDS beliefs that teach me that God loves me also teach me that he loves the entire world.

    My point is this: Mr. Lawrence is probably assuming most believers are pragmatic and do not make fine distinctions in deep theology. However, to the extent that deeply-held beliefs of creedal Christians have been misrepresented, then Mr. Dalrymple’s objection is valid. The question is, in the evangelical world, how many of them are pragmatic (as I’ve defined it above) and how many of them are theology oriented?

    I’d like to add that I appreciate Mr. Dalrymple’s respectful discussion of LDS beliefs, both now and in the past.

    • Fred Barrett

      Doug King; A good post, but being a latter-day saint I believe something is missing in your comments. If we recall the Savior’s earthly journey and the examples he set for us we must include the fact that He did not always reveal all things to those he taught but held back by parables in order that they might not bring themselves to total condemnation.

      We are here to obtain a knowledge of good and evil and He does help us one step at a time in our progression. As we accomplish one step He may give us the next step if we are prepared to receive it. We as the Savior must graduate so to speak to perfection in this manner grace for grace even as the Son did, and as we obtain greater understanding it is essential that we apply all of the principles you have state. Yours was likewise a great post!

  • John Haas

    My only quibble would be that a better title would be “Are Mormon and Christian Views of God Really That Different?” As Jan Shipps has shown in her excellent work, Mormonism stands to Christianity in much the way Christianity does to Judaism, or Islam to either. With a new revelation, new authoritative scriptures, new prophets and a theology differing from the base religion at many important points, it is a new religion, not a version of the old as orthodox Christian denominations are.

    • EssEm

      I agree. Well put. A Mormon is as much a Christian as I, a Christian, am a Jew.

      • Pete

        EssEm, your analogy fails because you don’t grasp what it means to be a Jew. Being a Jew has nothing to do with what you believe in. Some Jews are Christian, some believe in Judaism, some are atheist; some are Buddhist.

        There are also a number of non-Jews who believe in the teachings of Judaism.

        Shipps’ analogy fails because Christianity explicitly set aside most of the laws applicable to Jews in the Old Testament. Mormons in contrast do not set aside anything in the New Testament as obsolete.

    • DougH

      You could be right, though personally I believe the question “Was Joseph Smith a true prophet?” is less fundamental than “Is Jesus Christ the Son of God and Savior of the world?”. On the other hand, from what I’ve read, most Christians for at least the first few generations considered themselves to be a Jewish sect.

      • John Haas

        Doug, I think I can agree with both those statements, and still agree with professor Shipps, too.

        • DougH

          Or disagree, it depends on your definition of a Christian. I can remember the first time I encountered Shipp’s position, I was seriously impressed: “The first new world religion in 1500 years, wow!” But once I got over my ego trip and thought about what it is that makes someone a Christian, I ran into the same problem from two angles.

          The first is what requiring someone to accept the mainstream version of the Trinity to be Christian does to the history of Christianity, specifically all the heretics that cease to be heretics because suddenly they are no longer Christians at all: the Audianists, Marcionites, Arians, to begin with, and the list could be lengthened considerably.

          The second problem is all the Christians that don’t understand the theological particulars of the Trinity, and don’t care – who attend church, live their lives as best they can according to Christ’s teachings, and leave the theology to the experts. Are they any less Christian than someone that spends much of their free time in theological study?

          So in the end, for me a Christian is anyone that accepts that Jesus as the Son of God and Savior of the world. Everything else is details – very important details, often irreconcilable, sometimes harmful (Antinomianism, for example, going all the way back to the days of Paul) but details nonetheless.

          But all this is getting us a off the subject of the post, and probably rambling just a bit.

          • Karen N

            We can all agree that Jesus is the Son of God.
            In John 1:10-12 it says: “He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not. He came unto His own and His own received Him not. But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the Sons of God.
            “Sons of God”…..sounds very simple to me, it answers the becoming “like” or the “Gods” question. It’s a learning process and a progression. We have all eternity to learn it. From the sounds of all this bickering it’ll take that long.

    • Spark

      Ah but Christ said to beware of others following after claiming to be the ‘true prophet’ and that alone makes Mormon and Islam ‘false’ religions; they claim to the be the ‘next step’ in God’s relationship with Man whereas Christ said He was IT and there would be no others.

      That and the fact that LDS teachers ‘we’ will all be ‘gods’ given our own planets to rule over. That’s just false doctrine on its’ face.

      • KarlS

        Jesus never ever said that there wouldn’t be any more prophets after him. I challenge you to find where he did. In fact, the bible says that prophets are fundamental as long as God works among men, in Amos 3:7.

        Joseph Smith never claimed to be ‘the next step’ in God’s relationship with man. He never claimed to be moving to something other than the original, he merely claimed to restore the ‘New Testament Christianity’ (that had been completely corrupted only a few hundred years after the death of Christ and his apostles) through prophetic dispensation and revelation.

        Thirdly, there is NO OFFICIAL DOCTRINE whatsoever that ‘we will be gods given our own planets to rule over’.

        The doctrine is as follows:

        The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God; And if children, then heirs; heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ… Romans 8-16-17

        We’ve all heard Mormons say, ‘well we believe we get our own planet’ because they don’t understand the doctrine. They figure “well God rules the universe, and one day we will become like God through Christ, thus logic follows that we will be crowned some type of ruler over a celestial body”

        The reality is that the doctrine doesn’t expound upon what our lives will be like when we are glorified with God, and most LDS take things too far when they say that the ‘own world’ thing is doctrine. It isn’t.

    • Charlie

      It is a new religion, born in America, developed in American and as American as religions can be: led today by a WWII navy vet petty officer who then worked in printing, who if he dies today will be followed by a WWII bomber pilot retired captain who then became a school teacher, who if he dies is followed by a WWII marine corps vet, who would be followed by a Corean War vet doctor who left the Army reserves as a major, who would then be followed by a Corean era Army Guard Lt who was also later considered for Supreme Court appointment by Reagan……ie, all mormon leaders who are as Amercian as they possibly can be. If anyone needs to worry about a mormon president its the Mexican or the Canadians!!!

      But neither Judaism nor Islam accept Jesus as their saviour and redeemer, as mormons do or as these new kind of Christians, LDS christians or mormon chirstians do. To say that mormonism is as different to christianity as Judaism or Islam is to christianiy is both ignorant and maliscious. But anyways, in mormon christian theology, those who are mislead by men’s views, as traditional christians are, will still live in a kingdom of glory with constant visits from Jesus -as they wish to and as they expect to live, and they, because of their acceptance of Jesus as saviour and redeemer, they will never experience hell -which can’t be a bad thing.

  • http://apprising.org Ken Silva

    Are we afraid of the truth here?

  • Jim

    The issue of the trinity are confusing and not the big difference between Christians and Mormons as to God. Mormons do not believe that God is omnipresent They cannot explain Solomon’s prayer that He fills heaven and earth. Christians have a problem with this as well. I am convinced that open theism theology, which is rapidly gaining followers, affords room for coming together. It agrees that the biblical view of God was corrupted by early Greek believers giving rise to the strange timeless, impassive God that underlies Christian theology and against which Mormonism reacted. However, the Mormon error of placing God in one place and subject to time is also false. God is defined by time. “I am” He is the present and everywhere in the present. Not in the past and not timeless.

  • http://wlbrown38@yahoo.com W. L. Brown

    I agree that the questions presented by Lawrence were confusing. He should have asked the following: Do you believe that the Father, Son (Jesus Christ), and Holy Spirit are three distinct persons in one triune God? It seems to me that this would have been a clearer statement of the Christian position that would have been easier to understand and therefore easier to answer.

  • Mark Carlton

    The questions Gary Lawrance contrived demonstrate why an evangelical Christian cannot vote for a Mormon. 1. They are fundamentally dishonest, and, 2. Not being able to see through the Warren Jeffs of the 19th century — Joe Smith and Brigham Young — we must question their abilty to discern other things too.

  • Bill McGee

    Most Christians I have talked to about this are actually quite fuzzy on the nature of the Trinity. As an LDS missionary I found that discussing the nature of God as the easiest way to start a discussion. When we described the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost as three separate beings equal in purpose but not in body or substance, the common reply was ‘Yes, I’ve always believed that.’ While this is certainly anecdotal, it is a nearly universal experience among former LDS missionaries I have spoken to. The results of this survey, though perhaps worded badly, are no surprise to us that have had great success in helping our Christian brothers and sisters throw off the blinders of fictionalized Christianity taught in today’s seminaries.

    The truth is that a triune God was not a concept understood or embraced by the majority of Christians the first couple of hundred years after Christ. It is clearly a construct created by professional theologians trying to twist several complex concepts about God into a single thread. Was Christ a man/God or a God/man was the sort of foolishness that led to schisms lasting for decades, and the reconciliation doctrine of the Trinity so tortures the simple text of the New Testament that anyone not brainwashed by seminary looks at the two and throws up their hands.

    The movement called Primitivism in 19th century America roundly rejected the Trinity concept. Mormons aren’t the only Christians who look at the Council of Nicaea and see something fishy.

    • Timothy Dalrymple

      A “binity” was very early established in which God the Father and God the Son were recognized as divine. It wasn’t especially long before the Spirit was recognized to have the same status. This was just reflecting on the Scriptures and their implications.

      No evangelical Christian will deny that the three Persons are one in purpose. Few will know the particulars of the doctrine of the Trinity, and that’s unfortunate because it’s a doctrine of great power and beauty. But more will know that they are one in essence, and they will know they cannot be “one in body” (this kind of language will strike a non-Mormon Christian as strange). Again, please read a non-biased, historical source on the development of Trinitarian doctrine. It’s very clear from the comments in this thread that just about everyone who is rejecting the orthodox teaching on the Trinity has very little idea what it really is and how it developed.
      -Tim

      • Jay

        The rub here, Tim, is that the “Binity” (good word, by the way) WAS established, not revealed, and certainly not manifest by Jesus–except by those statements that cry out for interpretation, thus not dogma. Mainstream Christians, who fall asleep reading their Bible, not some philsophical text parading as inerrant theology, remember the resurrected Jesus ascending into Heaven; and if asked, they will admit really wondering what happened to his body. That’s what I’ve observed. The idea of man “establishing” theological truth by consensus is troubling. Aren’t you troubled by it? Tradition doesn’t cut it, either. The Godhead will always be a somewhat mysterious study, but why should it be totally incomprehensible to most of God’s children?

        The word “polytheism” is anathema to creedal theologians, but isn’t it time for an honest reappraisal of that prejudice, inherited from the Greek uninspired thinkers? The Bible is rife with polytheistic language that needs to be reconciled in some manner, not just blindly ignored.

        Having written that, and though an interesting discussion, I truthfully don’t think it is worth arguing over. Worshipping Jesus as the author of our salvation, to me, should be the major concept, to (with?) which all other doctrine should be consistent.

  • Bill McGee

    Try this: sit down with virtually any non-Minister Christian and try to explicate John 17 from the perspective of the doctrine of the Trinity and watch their eyes roll back in their head. The response is quite consistent because it defies our innate, God-given logic.

  • Daniel Peterson

    “The fundamental principles of our religion,” declared Joseph Smith, “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.”

    Over the centuries, Christians have disagreed passionately about Jesus—and about scripture, creeds, and tradition.

    Was Jesus merely human? Purely divine? Some combination or other of the two?

    Does he desire to redeem everyone? Did he die only for the predestined elect? What must we do to be saved?

    Since the fourth century, most have included him in the Nicene Trinity. But some dissented then, and some still do.

    Most have regarded his authorized church and priesthood as essential for salvation—while debating where they can be found.

    The only understanding of the term “Christian” that unites all who have claimed it over two millennia is that Christians are those who recognize Jesus, uniquely, as lord (not merely as a great teacher nor even as one prophet among others).

    Latter-day Saints recognize Jesus as lord and redeemer. Our scriptures testify of him. The Book of Mormon was written for “the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God.” Our church bears his name; we pray and are baptized in his name. Our hymns praise him. Weekly communion commemorating his sacrificial death (“the sacrament”) is the centerpiece of our worship. His atonement offers us our only hope of salvation.

    We are Christians.

    “And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins” (2 Nephi 25:26).

  • Dan Knudsen

    A side issue: One reason Mormons don’t accept the Creeds is that no Mormon was there when they were formulated. How many Evangelicals were there? Were any of God’s prophets there, or were they not needed since the Bible was all that was needed and further revelation from heaven had ceased? Then why were the Creeds needed and their status is equal to scripture–since those who don’t accept them are not Christian and will go to Hell? What is the difference then between the Creeds and the Mormons scriptures, since both are extra-Biblical?

  • http://www.message4mormons.co.uk Andrew Price

    Christianity is monotheistic , Mormonism is polytheistic and it constitutes a most vile heresy . The Father , the Son and the Holy Ghost are One in essence – the Lord Jesus Christ became man and only He has a body .Further the Mormon idea that the blessed Redeemer is the sibling of Satan is another undermining of biblical orthodoxy .

    • Christopher Hansen

      Such a belief is to believe that we are not made in the image of God. It is to claim that Christ had to ask himself if he would remove the cup and to believe that he was well pleased with himself.

      Your god apparently suffers from Multiple Personality disorder. Mine does not.

      I thank God the Father and Jesus Christ that they sent Joseph Smith to RESTORE their gospel to the world.

    • Mavin

      If the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost are One in essence and Christ is a man with a body, is the one essence Christ body? If there is only one God and Christ has a body is the body not the body of the one God? How can the Father not have a body if Christ has one and they are of one essence? Christ in the scriptures tells us that we are the sons of God that He is our Father and the scriptures also tell us that Satan is a Son of the morning, making him a brother.

      • Timothy Dalrymple

        It always amazes me how people seem to believe they’re the first people to confront these difficulties. The Christian church spent hundreds of years reflecting through these things. Before you toss that tradition aside and conclude it’s mistaken, you’d be wise to spend some time studying it. As I’ve said a couple times in the comments here, check out J.N.D. Kelly or Alois Grillmeier.
        -Tim

    • nobody important

      Andrew, you need more Mormon friends. The things you claim that Mormons believe or teach are extremely deceptive and offensive to many Mormons.

      btw, good article.

    • Philosophical

      Taken at face value…mormons don’t directly teach that Jesus and satan are brothers. Others who are NOT mormon are the ones inferring that mormons teach they are because mormons interpret that satan is another name for lucifer (from Isa. 14:12-14, Rev. 12:7–9) it is easier to show directly in the scriptures that they are/were both spirit sons of God, but that satan rebelled). Pray tell, show where in the bible that it proves they weren’t both sons of god, hence brothers. After you do that, then and only then can the possibility that the concept undermines biblical orthodoxy be entertained.

    • JuliusZerin

      “The father, the Son and the Holy Ghost are One in essence”…ok, go on. “[T]he Lord Jesus Christ became a man and only He has a body.” What?!?! Read that to yourself again: it makes no sense. None. It’s like saying: “Bill, George, and Gary are one in essence–it’s heretical to call them separate beings!–but only George has a body; Bill and Gary, though the same being as George, do not have a body.” It’s absolute insanity. But, as my old mission companion from Bavaria once said, “religion is like language: it’s not logical.”

      • Timothy Dalrymple

        It’s actually pretty amazing how precisely logical the Early Church Fathers made it. The Trinity is three Persons in one essence, but the incarnate Christ is two essences (fully God and fully man) in one person. It is the Second Person of the Trinity joining himself to the flesh. Check out Grillmeier’s Christ in Christian Tradition for a great study of the matter.
        -Tim

    • Frances Emerson

      When Christ admonished us to be as little children, He was referring to their submissive and teachable nature, not to their inclination to argue or call names. The scriptures admonish us to believe, and teach us that through the exercise of faith we can eventually come to a knowledge of that which is true.

      Mr. Price, you don’t know what you state, as much as you may believe it. Through honest sincere prayer, and the exercise of faith, overcoming any tendency to pride and self-righteousness, any issues dealing with what is or is not true doctrine may be settled, orthodoxy aside. What is true is true, despite whatever men may claim to be true based on tradition, however long that tradition may have existed. Men also claimed for centuries that fresh air carried disease, and shut their windows to protect themselves from it.

      I know for myself that God the Father and Jesus Christ, the son, are individual beings, united in purpose but not in bodily form. They each have bodies of flesh and bone, and we are truly made in their image. The Holy Ghost is an individual of Spirit. This is not belief, but knowledge, and I declare it to you in the name of Jesus Christ.

      If you cannot accept this testimony, which is a personal witness that I was blessed to receive during a dark hour in my own life, then consider that the scriptures record that Jesus Christ prayed that we would all be one, even as Christ and the Father are one. It is also recorded that Stephen, being full of the Holy Spirit, saw the heavens opened up and declared that He saw Jesus standing at God’s right hand. They also record that Jesus is the express image of the Father, and that Christ stated “I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I.” Any child reading these passages of scripture as well as numerous others similar to them would be able to discern their separateness as well as their unity of purpose. I challenge you to study the scriptures for yourselves, not relying on the “arm of man” to interpret for you, but to ask the Father in the name of Jesus Christ that you may know for yourselves what is true. Unless we are all truly one we cannot focus on and defeat the enemy of all righteousness.

      “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand.” (Jesus Christ)

    • Dandini

      Andrew, 39 and more versus in the Bible would seem to indicate a strong polytheistic viewpoint, with it’s “…God of gods, and Lord of lords…” and with one siginificant example from the New Testament paraphrased, where Christ was saying “…Have I not told you that ye are gods…” and of course an even more important one where Christ says that we also can inherit all that he has and be “glorified” with him and his Father in Heaven.

      There is no where in the Bible that says or teaches “The Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost are One in essence”. And never has been.

      Yes, Christ was resurrected with an incorruptable and glorified “physical” body of flesh and bone, with which he went into heaven and will return the same way.

      And it is obvious that you do not believe that God created all of us, including Satan, even when the Old Testament speaks of a meeting of the sons of God in heaven, which Satan attended.

    • joel in CA

      Andrew
      If Jesus has a body yet all three are one in essence does that not mean that all three are included in that one body of Jesus? Jesus prayed to his Father that his disciples may be one even as he and the father are one (John 17:22). So did he want the disciples to somehow become one being?
      God the Father created all that exists, including both Jesus and satan. We call ourselves children of God because he is our father who created our spirits. Only in that sense do we relate to satan as a brother, who was created by the same father who created us.

    • Jen

      Why is it so hard to believe that Jesus and Satan are brothers? IF you believe that we all existed together before we were born, that God created our spirits, then why is the concept so strange? God created Christ and Satan, you and me. Christ is our brother, therefore Satan is our brother too. He’s not my favorite brother…haha.

      If you also believe in Noah and his ark and Moses or just the Bible in general then why can’t we have modern-day prophets? Why would God be so involved in the world up until Christ dies and then that’s it? So its ok for prophets to exist thousands of years ago but not today? If Joseph Smith was a fraud then he was the best liar in history with over 14 million members believing him. He had a poor level of education and yet the Book of Mormon is 531 pages with stories that you can relate to or answer questions in your life. Not to mention the way its written, very biblical-like.

      Anyway, don’t judge a person based on their religious beliefs. Romney is a Mormon, but he’s a man. Vote (or don’t vote) for him because of his political views. Mormons might have different beliefs about religion but they are good people.

    • CaballeroKid

      Mr. Price, instead of cutting and pasting your evangelical preacher’s commentary on Mormons, I would invite you to investigate the facts yourself on what Mormons actually believe…otherwise you’re getting an opinion of Jews from Hitler so to speak.

      Virtually all Latter-day Saints would reject the term “polytheistic.” Although we, like the Bible , sometimes affirm the existence of “Gods” or “gods,” so that the term “polytheism” would be appropriate to describe both us and the Bible if one concentrated on its root meaning of “many” [poly-] “gods” [theoi], its connotations, which summon up memories of the squabbling deities of Greek, Roman, and Norse mythology, are inappropriate and objectionable. Moreover that does not portray LDS belief.

      Latter-day Saints also affirm the ONENESS (in purpose) of the Godhood, while they do not lose sight of a plurality. (This is also true, although in a somewhat different way, of mainstream, trinitarian Christianity. I am sure that trinitarians would object to being called “polytheists,” but Muslims, who are very strict monotheists, often look at the Trinity and call them precisely that. If you object to being called “polytheistic” by Muslims, you will perhaps have some inkling of why we object to being called “polytheists” by our Protestant critics.)

      Finally, comment about Mormons believing Jesus and Satan are brothers is one of the standard sensationalistic A-bombs often hurled at Mormons by their detractors. It’s an attack question, because it starts with a kernel of truth and shapes it into something that most Mormons wouldn’t recognize about their faith.

      In Mormon theology, God is literally the father of all beings, and all beings once existed in a “premortal” state as “spirit beings”. Logic then follows that Jesus was God’s first-born son, and everyone who came after that, including Satan could be considered the siblings of Jesus.

      Latter-day Saints believe that all of us, Christ included, existed in a premortal existence, as spirits. Yes, Jesus and Lucifer were in that premortal existence, together. But what we need to make very clear is that Jesus was God and there was never a time when Jesus and Lucifer were on the same plane.

      To say Jesus and Satan were brothers is like saying, “Do you know you’re related to Adolph Hitler because we’re all part of the same family of man?”
      LDS critics often ask how Lucifer ever could have been a spirit brother of Jesus when their natures are so opposite. It’s important to understand what the Bible tells us about Lucifer (which means “light-bearer” in Latin or “original shining one” in Hebrew). In the beginning he is referred to as a “son of the morning” Isa. 14: 13-14 and was perfect in all his ways from the day of his creation until iniquity was found in him Ezek. 28: 13-15.

      Thereafter he aspired to exalt himself and his lust for power led to his downfall. Because of his rebellion he was cast out and became Satan. Luke 10:18, Rev. 12:7-9.

      We should note that Lucifer was not created as an evil being but became Satan by his own choice. It may seem ironic that Satan could be evil when Christ was righteous but remember that he was one among many who were spirit brothers and some had a spirit of rebellion. Isa. 14: 12-15 and Rev. 12:7-9 make it clear that it was so. We also find similar examples among other brothers in the scriptures: Cain/Abel, Joseph/Jacob & Esau…even among the apostles that Jesus chose Judas Ascariot; a man who must have been, initially at least, worthy of that calling.

      Now do you see how such an oversimplified comment illudes to something much more innocuous?

    • wesley

      Lucifer yes satan no, lucifer lost his inheiritance and that relationship when he rebeled and became satan. Please keep this strait.

    • hillplus

      Ask any Jewish person whether Christianity is monotheistic or polytheistic and see what answer you get. ;)

  • Janeway

    I read the same article and the comments. There seems to be as many theories as there are commenters. As I tell my Protestant and Evangelical friends – hopefully, Salvation is not predicated on a perfect understanding of the Godhead as we all would be in trouble. Knowing the nature of God perfectly is not known by man. The Pope or the President of The Church of Christ of Latter Day Saints would not make that claim so why everyone is arguing over it seems a bit silly. When Christ returns, maybe He will tell us, or maybe he won’t as we may still not capable of understanding.

  • Janeway

    Andrew, I ask you since the Father is the father of all spirits then He is the Father of Satan also, the Bible refers to him as Lucifer, cast out of heaven, who remains a spirit. Jesus is the “Firstborn of the spirit and the only begotten in the Flesh”. Only in that sense are we on earth brothers and sisters of Jesus but unfortunately Lucifer/Satan. Jesus, the Creator, has always been a member of the Godhood as having all the qualities of the Father as being with him from the beginning. You do not have to agree with this view but ask yourself – if God did not create Satan where did he come from?

  • Rick in IL

    There’s another dynamic. For some reason people often feel flattered if they are asked to participate in a survey, and therefore want to please the questioner by answering the questions instead of saying “I can’t answer that because neither answer is accurate”. Surveys are rarely written by people with the theological chops to get it right.

  • Curt (Mormon)

    Excellent piece!

    I have not read Lawrence’s article, but if the experiment is accurately represented here, this author has an excellent challenge. I would be curious to both know the results of a more consistently worded question pair and to also know this author’s response if the results were quite similar to the results of the questions as currently worded.

    I strongly affirm both “principles” presented by this article and suggest the book “Claiming Christ” by Millet and McDermot as an excellent introduction to “know exactly the differences between us.”

    Excellent piece!

  • http://www.allaboutmormons.com JDD

    It’s a mistake to exaggerate the similarities between Mormon and Evangelical theology. On the other hand, it is also a mistake to exaggerate the differences. Both believe that Christ is the only way to salvation, the divine Son of God. Both are Christian. From an outside perspective, both look fairly similar theologically, with a few differences of note.

  • http://classicmomscorner.blogspot.com/2010/12/mormon-looks-at-trinity.html SixMom

    I really appreciate the thought and care that went into this piece. I am Mormon and believe Lawrence may have influenced results by his wording (perhaps). But since he already equated body and substance earlier in the survey…and since most Christians are not that schooled in the nuances of different words…a different word in the second question may not produce that big of a difference in responses. However, the objection is a very fair one and out of intellectual honesty, Lawrence should re-conduct it with the correct evangelical jargon. On the topic of the Trinity? Christ himself is VERY non-Trinitarian. The New Testament is non-Trinitarian. Christ takes great pains to teach how separate He and the Father are. The Trinity concept is from a liturgical poem from the fourth century and never claimed as revelation. It is tradition. One that needs a second look by anyone who was brought up to believe it. The website link in my name explores that topic further from a non-Trinitarian perspective.

    • Timothy Dalrymple

      Thanks for the comment. And for the record, it’s not just evangelical jargon. It’s the classic theological tradition. Best,

      Tim

  • William

    I believe that but for the sacrifice of Christ no man can be saved. I believe in God the eternal Father, in his son Jesus Chrost, and in the Holy Ghost.

    I love to read the bible, and when I read things like John 14 28 Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I.

    Mathematically speaking : if x>y then x cannot equal y.

    I’m a Mormon.
    William

  • Adam

    I don’t understand why the Mormon community feels it necessary to take Christian language, put a slight twist on it, and then use it to confuse Christians into believing that there’s really no difference between Mormon and Christian beliefs. The questions posed in the survey are just another example of this. It’s really quite insidious. Satan did this same thing with God’s words in the Garden of Eden.

    • Common Sense

      I don’t uderstand why the Evangelical community feels it necessary to take Mormon doctrine, put a slight twist on it, and then use it to confuse their adherents into believing that Mormon beliefs concerning the Savior are more alien to their own than they really are. The condescending tone of your comment is just another example of this. It’s really quite insidious. The Pharisees and Saducees did this same thing with the Samaritans at the time of Christ.

      That didn’t feel very nice, did it? It actually made me uncomfortable typing the words, as I would never honestly say something so insulting to a fellow disciple of Christ. I know you mean well and that you are just misinformed. Please accept my apologies for delivering you such harsh words and my forgiveness for having provided me with them in the first place.

      This is more complicated than you would like to believe. You read words in the Bible and assume that what they say to you is their real semantic value and the only correct interpretation thereof. It’s okay, we all do it. I only ask to to give some more consideration before lashing out at someone or something you don’t really understand.

      Have a better day…

    • ID Dave

      If a Christian is one who follows Christ, as taught by Bible doctrines, then there are none that follow the Bible more closely than members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons). Read all of John 17 and answer, was Christ praying to himself or was he praying to his separate, Father in Heaven? Was he doing this to purposely confuse His followers? And when Christ was baptized and on the Mount of Transfiguration and His Father in Heaven said this is my Beloved Son, was it Christ speaking as a ventriloquist trying to confuse everyone that witnessed this? Or, was it truly His Father in Heaven speaking? Read these Bible passages for what they say, without prejudice, without favoring towards your fathers old time religion. If you will truly read what the Bible actually says, then I believe that you will have to agree that the Bible teaches that there are three separate and distinct personages, God the Father, Jesus Christ (His Son) and the Holy Ghost. And that these are one in purpose and that we as followers are to also strive to be one with Them, as clearly taught in the Bible in John 17 and clearly in other Bible verses. Read the Bible and be honest in your heart before the judgement of the Lord your God.

      BTW by definition from the dictionary – Christianity is a religion derived from Jesus Christ, based on the Bible as sacred scripture, and professed by Christians.

      To change that definition, to fit a particular mold, seems to be lacking a bit.

    • CaballeroKid

      Adam, there is no attempt by Mormons to make one think that we are all the same. As a Latter-day Saint, I perfectly understand our theological differences. But are you also suggesting that aside from Mormonism, pretty much all other Christian sects agree on Christian doctrine???
      Moreover, are you open to the possibility that perhaps we are simply not Christians “as you know them.” Is it possible, do you think, that there might be other kinds of Christians than the ones you are familiar with?

      For example, many Christians do not believe, and have not believed, that the Bible is inerrant — that is, without any human errors. (Martin Luther, for instance, wanted to remove the epistle of James from the New Testament. He really didn’t like it.) Many Christians do not limit themselves to the 66 books of the Protestant Bible, but accept other books as scriptural. (Ethiopic Christians, Catholics, etc. Even one of the New Testament writers, Jude, quotes from the book of Enoch as an authority. Early Christians argued for years about what should be considered scripture and what should not, and there were widely differing opinions.) Would you kick all those millions out of Christianity who held a different view of the scriptures than modern Western fundamentalist Protestants do? Are we saved not by grace, but by grace-and-accepting-only-the-Western-Protestant-canon? Does belief in Jesus and acceptance of him as Lord and Savior just not cut it? Is it not enough? Doesn’t it disturb you to be adding requirements for salvation to those that the Lord himself set out?

    • Petra

      What is most troubling to Mormons is the misperception that Mormons are not Christian. Mormons are absolutely Christian, in every sense of the word, and in every word from their mouths about what they believe and Who they believe is their Savior. That evangelical Christians refuse to believe this fundamental thing about Mormons is essentially the problem. And that problem is historical (in the recent past in US history), not theological.

      This article is full of that erroneous assumption by its language starting with, “…while I don’t believe those differences would lead a Mormon to make different policy decisions than a Christian.” If we are to ever have scholarly or even casual discussions about the differences between members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and those calling themselves Evangelical Christians, those calling themselves Evangelical Christians need to take the time to actually understand what Mormons believe and Who they believe in. Only then will the inaccurate stereotypes and false assumptions fade away and real discussion allowed to emerge about actual interesting and important differences in belief.

      • Timothy Dalrymple

        Petra, several times I opposed Mormon not to “Christian” but to “historical Christian” for precisely this reason — because the point was not to get into the endless debate over whether Mormons are Christians. That said, it gets burdensome to say “historical Christian” or “orthodox Christian” or “non-Mormon Christian” every time. Just don’t get your hackles up so quickly.

        -Tim

        • Petra

          It’s nothing to do with my “hackles,” C&C. It’s everything to do with this article perpetuating to the reader the myth that LDS are not Christian. It would have been much more accurate to say, “Evangelical Christian,” or “Protestant Christian,” no matter how burdensome it might be. When precise writing can erase error, it should be employed.

    • Charlie

      Adam….Yeah…sure!!

      But you are looking at the wrong definition of ‘christian’. If one looks to the New Testament, then there aren’t that many differences between mormons and evangelicals, but if one looks to what comes after the New Testament ie nicene creed, constantinople and the athanasian creed etc, well then yes, we are different religions because Mormons believe the dudes there in those creeds got it wrong!

    • Fred Barrett

      Adam; Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints do not put a twist on Christian language to confuse Christians into believing there is no difference between the doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the large number of different denominations that profess to be Christians. I am a member and know as well as any informed member that the difference between the the one faith The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on the one hand and the numerous organizations who claim to be the church of Jesus Christ or Christian Church on the other had is very obvious. It’s all centered around the trinity of the creeds developed over centuries and the actual teachings of the of the nature of the Godhead in the bible which also reveals that the organization of the church was to endure to the end of the earth with apostles, prophets, teachers etc. All those offices in the church were to be intact until the saints come to a unity of the faith. That has not yet happened and most likely will not happen until the coming of Jesus Christ. There are numerous verses in the bible that support this doctrine along with the churches foundation of being built on the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone. An informed member of the LDS Church knows what the trinity is described as being and they likewise know that is opposed to the doctrine of the Godhead which the bible reveals to be of the Father having a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s and the Son likewise. And the Holy Ghost not having a tangible body of flesh and bone being the Holy Ghost which would of course be a Spirit. The saints do use the bible in its context to bring out those points along with the fact that the Lord will do nothing save he revealeth His secret (the Gospel) unto His servants the prophets. Is it reasonable to believe that the Lord being the same yesterday, today, and forever would not send His prophets in 2011 just as He did in those years previous to our day. No body that is a true latter-day saint would claim to be the same as a Christian who follows the doctrine of the creeds especially with the KJV or any other version of the bible in hand. There is so much information in the bible that is only seen if it connects with the one who is reading and or studying it. The Savior I believe said that is due to the traditions of their father’s which are not correct. Nevertheless I do believe you are a brother who desires to worship Jesus Christ and would not condemn nor attempt to tell you what you believe, that is your right and I would defend that right. It is my desire that you would defend my right to express what I believe, by not putting words in my mouth that do not define my beliefs. I know most latter-day saints feel the same way.

  • M. Al Dujaily

    …and so while you all quibble about who is/isn’t a Christian the world goes down the toilet. Who is the author of all this confusion? The Deciever. Oh ye hypocrites…

  • B.E. Ward

    A troubling part of the Mormon view of God is that it inevitably begets a big, big question that is perpetually left unanswered.

    ‘As man is, God once was; as God is now man may be.”

    If God was once a man and became God, that means there is another God that decided our God was worthy to become a God. In other words, a previously existing God must have made that value judgment.

    So why don’t we worship *that* originating God?

    There are other facets of Mormon belief that are troubling, but rarely make the press.. like the belief that God lives near a planet/star named Kolob and that its founder married girls 14 and 16 years old.

    • Sincere Discussion

      B.E. your first argument is valid for me because you ask a legitimate question. Obviously, your argument could continue on then to say, “why stop at that originating God? Didn’t someone create Him too?” which of course would go on ad infinitum.

      I suppose we will not be able to understand this argument until we have a broader perspective of how the Eternities, inter-relate. The simplistic answer would be to simply use the argument that since my father is the one who “begat” me and raised me, it is to Him that I owe my allegiance.

      As for the last two arguments that you throw out, it is disingenuous to throw out random topics and simply state that since you don’t understand them, they must be ridiculous…

      If God is a tangible being, as Mormons believe, then isn’t it logical to believe that he physically does reside somewhere? When you are resurrected, where will you reside? Won’t that be your home? If you are allowed to progress further and create your own worlds and raise eternal families of your own, will they all live in your “house” or will you help them build their own “houses” so they can then raise their own families…?

      As for girls marrying at 14 and 16 years old… it is naive to think that just because in the year 2011 we believe girls that young have no business getting married, that this was the same thinking back in the 1800s. In fact, girls often married this young back then. You’re arguing a cultural distinction, not a doctrinal one. Early Mormons who married that young were no different than early non-mormons that married that young. It was not a doctrinal topic.

  • Kenny

    But then again I wonder if the use of the word “Historical Christianity” exposes the real essence of the familiar accusation that “Mormons are not Christians” which actually, therefore, within the historical context, should be “Mormons are not ‘Historical Christians’.” And what would naturally follow would be an attempt to take a closer look at “True/Correct Christianity”. Historical does not necessarily mean “correct” at least considering the counter movements of Protestantism and others.

    • wesley

      Good point, and another discusion

  • http://MormonsAreChristian.blogspot.com Mormons Are Christian

    A literal reading of the New Testament points to God and Jesus Christ , His Son , being separate , divine beings , united in purpose. . To whom was Jesus praying in Gethsemane, and Who was speaking to Him and his apostles on the Mount of Transfiguration? The Nicene Creed”s definition of the Trinity was influenced by scribes translating the Greek manuscripts into Latin. The scribes embellished on a passage explaining the Trinity , which is the Catholic and Protestant belief that God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The oldest versions of the epistle of 1 John, read: “There are three that bear witness: the Spirit, the water and the blood and these three are one.” Scribes later added “the Father, the Word and the Spirit,” and it remained in the epistle when it was translated into English for the King James Version, according to Dr. Bart Ehrman, Chairman of the Religion Department at UNC- Chapel Hill. He no longer believes in the Nicene Trinity. .

    Scholars agree that Early Christians believed in an embodied God; it was neo-Platonist influences that later turned Him into a disembodied Spirit. For example, it was an emperor (Constantine) . who introduced a term, homoousious, which defined the Son as “consubstantial” (one being) with the Father. Neither term or anything like it is in the New Testament. Harper’s Bible Dictionary entry on the Trinity says “the formal doctrine of the Trinity as it was defined by the great church councils of the fourth and fifth centuries is not to be found in the New Testament.”

    Mitt Romney and The Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) view
    the Trinity as three separate divine beings, in accord with the earliest Greek New Testament manuscripts.

  • Tom

    Excellent points at the end there. While I’ll have to take your word for it on the evangelical’s differentiation between body and substance, I think you’re spot on with being clear on differences and similarities between the two communities.

  • George Osborne

    Nicene and Chalcedonian Christianity have ABSOLUTELY nothing in common whatsoever with LDS belief. The nature of the Trinity, the personhood of Christ, the realtionship between the Persons of the Trinity, the nature and person of the Father, the person of the Son in His two natures, the person and work of the Holy Spirit, the nature of the Church, Redemption, Atonement, Judgement, Heaven, etc., etc., ad nauseum…ABSOLUTELY NOTHING is similar. A Mormon could not utter the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed without immediately blaspheming in the eyes of the LDS church.

    It is and always has been an reductio absudium to even merely contemplate that the historical and continuing Church and the restorationsist movement typlified by the LDS have any but superficial similarities and that mostly the fact that both bodies have similar terminaology (i.e. for God) but in fact the definitions of “God” have nothing in common.

    The LDS have cleverly disguised Mormonism to seem Christian. However, since testimory is such an important element in LDS life. I bear my witness to you now: I know beyond any fear or conradition that the LDS faith is not Christian. Your Heavenly Father is not the God of the Bible or the Church. Your Jehovah/Jesus is not the Jesus Christ of the Gospels who has no equal or like being. Your Holy Ghost is not the Paralete, Comforter and Spirit of Truth of the Church. Your church is not Apostolic in continuity from the original Twelve. Joseph Smith is not a prophet as Christ stated that St. John the Forerunner was the seal and perfection of the prophets. And finally, your Jesus provided no atoning redemption either in the Garden or on the Cross because he was not perfect God and perfect Man unconfused in nature and persons, indivisable in essence and perfect in composition. I testify that this is the Truth as revealed by 2000 years of continuous direction and leadership by the Holy Spirit and the gates of hell have not prevailed against it.

  • Dan

    There are several theological problems with Mormonism that disqualify them as “Christians” in any meaningful sense, historical or otherwise.

    First, their view of Jesus’ atonement seems morally repugnant. To them, Jesus is simply a man, not qualitatively different from you or I, but who is quantitatively superior in his priesthood advancement. Like God (Elohim), Jesus (Jehovah) started out as a mortal man, then “earned” their way to Godhood – a position in the LDS Priesthood.

    This raises a few questions: How is it that this mere man (or “superman”) could justly bear the punishment that was due me?

    On the LDS view, Jesus supposedly stepped in and “paid the penalty” for our sins, like a surrogate or a proxy. In what sense can it be said that justice is done on such a view?

    Now, the traditional Christian answer to this moral dilemma down through the millennia is the doctrine of our Union with Christ, which is also the New Testament’s answer to the problem. That is to say, in some real way we have been united with Christ and we have become one (though not ontologically one) through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. And thus, in the words of the great English theologian John Owen, “It is no unrighteousness, if the hand offend, that the head be smitten. But Christ is our head; we are his members.”

    The Mormons cannot claim this answer to their problem, because their other doctrines preclude it. They reject the Trinity; therefore the Holy Spirit cannot be said to unite us with Christ in any real way. They make the Son into a mere man; no mere man can be united with all of the members of the Church. To be “united in purpose” is gravely insufficient for atonement, for then the atonement is no more just than an impotent surrogate.

    On a more practical level, the Jesus of Mormonism is not the same as the Jesus of the NT & Christianity as is clearly evidenced by contrasting the Book of Mormon Jesus and the NT Jesus:

    Simply read 3 Nephi 9:1-13 and you will see a Jesus who brags about destroying 16 cities and millions of innocent people, then threatens the traumatized survivors with destruction if they don’t turn to him! You can’t find that kind of Jesus in the New Testament. The Jesus of the NT would never engage in that bloodthirsty rant in 3 Nephi.

    Finally, LDS theology is as muddled as can be. In LDS doctrine, Jehovah is the “God” of the OT, and is the premortal Jesus.

    Thus, when Jesus taught his disciples how to pray, he was teaching them to pray to the god they knew: the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, which would have been the god of the OT, which was Jehovah: himself in premortal form!

    Now LDS want to throw another god into the mix: a Heavenly Mother. If we can pray to God the Father (Elohim), or God the Son (Jehovah), and “in the name of” Jesus (Jehovah) and/or (God) the Holy Ghost, then why not God the Mother? At least one LDS Hymn (considered doctrine to LDS) teaches of a “Mother in Heaven,” and many LDS actually pray to her!

    Then there is Michael, who is supposed to be the premortal Adam, who helped create the earth. Can we pray to Adam/Michael, too? Brigham Young taught that Adam (Michael) is actually God (the Father, i.e., Elohim). If so, then who was Adam’s God when he was on the earth? And to whom was Adam speaking when he prayed? To Himself?

    LDS teach that the Father is “Elohim”, the Son is “Jehovah”, and the Holy Ghost is some unidentified spirit entity.

    LDS claim to pray to the Father, but may also pray to Jesus (the Son), as demonstrated in Joseph Smith’s dedicatory prayer for the Kirtland temple (see D&C 109), as well as by Alma’s prayer to Jesus (Alma 36:18) and the Nephites praying to Jesus (3 Nephi 19:22). Alma 33:3 equates prayer and worship.

    LDS ordinances (Baptism, Temple ordinances) are conducted “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (D&C 20:73), even though Jesus taught to pray to the Father in His (Jesus’) name.

    LDS scriptures and theology state that Jesus is the Messiah, the Anointed One, also known as Christ the Son Ahman (D&C 78:20; D&C 95:17) who shall meet Father Adam at Adam-ondi-Ahman in northestern Missouri (where LDS believe the Garden of Eden is located). They believe Jesus to be called Jehovah, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End, the Alpha and Omega, who is also called “The Eternal Father”, even though the Father, Elohim, is the Father, although Joseph prayed to Jehovah (Jesus Christ, the Son) in the dedicatory prayer for the Kirtland Temple (D&C 109), wherein Joseph also called Jesus “The Holy Father” (see also 3 Nephi 9:15; Mosiah 15:2-5; 2 Nephi 25:12; 3 Nephi 1:14; Ether 4:12; Mosiah 15:1-5).

    I defy any LDS prophet, seer, revelator, theologian, professor, apologist, or otherwise to make any coherent sense of these scriptures. Bottom line: LDS do not know who or what they worship. Their theology is NOT Christian in any sense of the word.

    • Tyson

      It is too bad you have a small knowledge of beautiful LDS doctrine yet have no understanding.

      In the beginning was the word and the word was with God, and the Word was God… All things were created by him.

      This is the first intruction in the Gospel of John to the reader of who Christ is, The God who created all things. Is it not the God of the Old Testament that created the earth, the great Yahweh, also refered to as Jehovah?

      We can even take the Statement of Christ himself as to who he is. First we must read Exodus, when the God of his Fathers appears to Moses in the Burning Bush. Moses asks the question;

      13 And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them?

      14 And God said unto Moses, I Am That I Am: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, “I Am” hath sent me unto you.

      I think we can both agree that the God of the Old Testament made this statement to Moses?

      Now the next part I will simply give reference to things that can show where we come from, it is up to you to agree or not agree with that teaching.

      When in response to the pharasis and sadduccies. John Chapter 8 He, Christ states:

      52 Then said the Jews unto him, Now we know that thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and thou sayest, If a man keep my saying, he shall never taste of death.

      53 Art thou greater than our father Abraham, which is dead? and the prophets are dead: whom makest thou thyself?

      54 Jesus answered, If I honour myself, my honour is nothing: it is my Father that honoureth me; of whom ye say, that he is your God:

      55 Yet ye have not known him; but I know him: and if I should say, I know him not, I shall be a liar like unto you: but I know him, and keep his saying.

      56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.

      57 Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham?

      58 Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, “I am”.

      59 Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.

      I actually find it interesting that here we are almost enacting this scripture verbatim. You are calling us Devils for professing the same thing Christ taught and was called a Devil for teaching, he was the God of their Fathers, Jehovah “I AM”, Yahweh. I am actually chuckling at the irony of it right now.

      You will also note I gave reference to both Chapters so you are welcome to read them to note that neither are taken out of reference.

      Your statements that we worship Any other than God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ are simply false.

      I give the above as a simple reference to the outright attempt by you to blur the truth. I hope this can be seen in the way you have portraid these things by others that read this. I don’t profess to be an expert on all things Dan and how dare you profess with so blatant ignorance the same of my belief.

      It seems that you mock the use of the term Elohim by us to describe God the Father, but show such little understanding of the term.

      I won’t even refer to our own teachings on this simply go to Wikipidia and read up on the terms Elohim, Yahweh. Hopefully this will simply enlighten you to more about the Hebrew language and a greater understanding to the writing you profess to believe in.

      Please in the name of him you profess to Love show unto others what He commands you to do.

  • Matt

    This is a very interesting post, and I agree that neither the questions nor their answers support Mr. Lawrence’s conclusions. But, for me, this post just begs two crucial questions:

    First, what does it mean to say that the trinity is of one substance or one essence if it does not mean it/they are of one body or one being? Frankly, if we all agree that the triune God is not one person, body or being, I’m not sure what else there is for Evangelicals and Mormons to argue about. I guess just whether God is corporeal in nature.

    Second, some Evangelicals and some Mormons repeat over and over again that this undefined distinction is important to salvation. Fine. But I have not yet heard a well-reasoned explanation for why that would be. This, to me appears to be a prime example of losing the forest for the trees. Seems to me that this type of peculiar theological minutia could not be more irrelevant to the teachings of Jesus or those of his apostles contained in the Bible, but rather almost certainly stems from Hellenistic philosophical debates about the nature of deity.

    It is amazing to me that Christians continue to allow themselves to be divided by what appear to me to be irrelevancies. I am open to being convinced, but this particular issue does not seem critical to me at all.

    • Matt

      I realized that I spoke imprecisely. Obviously there is much theologically that Mormons and Evangelicals disagree about. I guess what I meant to say is that if we all agree that the Triune God is not one in person, body or being, and we cannot precisely define what it means to be one in substance or essence based on the biblical text, why is it that the construct the Mormons have built around that question any less legitimate than any other?

  • Eric

    Good article, especially the last point. Because even though I do agree with Mr. Romney theologically (since I myself am Mormon) I will not be voting for him even if he becomes the nominee, as I disagree with him too much politically. I would be much more likely to vote for Mr. Kucinich, who happens to be Catholic. ;-)

  • David Jackson

    I agree with, “differences of belief between Mormons and evangelicals can be important theologically and even soteriologically (in regards to salvation) without being important politically.” The influence of religion on politics is the commonality of VALUES, not the difference in doctrine. I believe that the Christian values of family, thrift, self reliance, charity, tolerance, etc. are manifest in many Christ centered religions. To the extent that the candidate denomination subscribes to those shared and common VALUES (I have found the Mormon church does), then we should be examining if the candidate does as well. It becomes alittle more difficult the other way around where the church and its leaders do not espouse those values (ie Reverand Wright). To me that requires a much closer look at the candidate who attended the church for 20 years, particularly when it appears he distanced himself from the teachings for political expediency. It appears to me that all of the Republican candidates have sustained the same religious conviction (or lack thereof).

  • Sergo Jean

    I do believe there is One God, One Son and the Holy Ghost.Question the Christianity?I see it this way,for me anybody who come to this earth or this planet is a Christian,because God created all things for his own purpose;And by the Son He created them,which is the Only Begotten Son.I do believe during Jesus Christ life time on earth,the same question was raised by the Pharisees,scribes,publicans and others?When Jesus heals the sicks, gives bread to eat and do all others things the look Jesus as Joseph’s son and they are the only one who know God.But I do believe Jesus Christ always share with them the will of the Father by the power of the Heaven.I think people has the right to choose a president for his country;And they have the right to believe whatever they believe without judgment on his faith.

  • Joy

    Thank you for the objective analysis. I appreciate your willingness to do so, especially since so many others are not willing.

    Jay’s comment on run-of-the-mill Mormons and Evangelicals is, to me, an unfair assessment, however. I cannot speak to how Evangelicals are taught, but Mormons are taught from a young age what the nature of God is. They are typically highly educated as adults and go to not only a congregational meeting (sacrament meeting), but the equivalent of two Sunday school meetings every week. For those who go to church (and isn’t this always the real issue with someone of a denomination not really getting their own religion- they typically don’t go very often), they absolutely understand this concept of what Mormons call “the Godhead”. It is taught often and as a basic tenant. And a high percentage of Mormons go every single week, so most of them actually do know the doctrine. I know a lot of people assume Mormons must be backward and blind in their faith, but I think most people would be surprised how many Mormons they actually know and respect, because they’re out there in the community, acting in most ways, just like everyone else.

    • Jay

      Thanks, Joy. I agree with you. I meant only that a “mainstream” Mormon would find a large amount of the language of substance, same, different, etc. and the rationale therefore, to be mostly non-understandable, and unnecessarily so. The Mormon teachings on the true nature of God are very understandable.

      • Timothy Dalrymple

        Well, the classical trinitarian formulations were developed with categories and distinctions that came from classical philosophy — an intellectual world that is largely lost to the common person today. So it takes some work to get inside of what those categories mean. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as long as Christian teachers and preachers are able to develop other ways of communicating the same concepts in more accessible ways.

        -Tim

  • Arkay

    As a Mormon, I found this article spot-on. Often, as Mormons, we tend to view the world through our own particular lens (set of biases and beliefs). In this, we are no different from everyone else. Mr. Lawrence fell into this mode when constructing his questions. Mr. Dalrymple was astute in pointing out the sloppy thinking of Mr. Lawrence. Or maybe it wasn’t just sloppy thinking. As a pollster, he probably understands quite well that the way you shape a question often determines the answers you’ll receive. I found this article through a link from a huge LDS email service. I hope many Mormons read this and thus better understand the real theological differences between the LDS and evangelical viewpoints. Thanks for publishing this.

  • Texan

    What was the purpose of the Nicene Council and it’s resulting creed if the scriptures were clear on the subject of the nature of God?

    And as this article references the corporeal nature of God and Christ, what purpose would it serve for Christ to return in resurrected bodily form, eating with his disciples and having them feel his hands and feet. What doctrinal significance are we supposed to understand from this? He had already demonstrated he was more ‘powerful’ than death by calling Lazarus (and others) back from the dead, so there’s got to be something else to it.

  • Emil

    I am a convert to the LDS faith (Mormon) and grew up in the Lutheran faith, learning many wonderful Christian Principles and bible stories. But as an adult with a more inquiring mind I became aware of doctrine that seemed unreasonable to me. One of which was the theology of the trinity taught by orthodox theologians. As a child those concepts were never really exposed to me but I do remember in my simple and child like mind that Heavenly Father was the one whom I should pray to and Jesus was the one I conclude with. I also understood that from time to time the Holy Ghost or spirit would help me make good decisions in my life. There was no doubt in my mind that they three were separate though the same in their purpose of helping us get through this worldly experience as unscathed by it’s negative aspects as possible.
    The Father is the Father of us all he is referred to as the “Man of Holiness” His Only Begotten in the flesh is Jesus Christ. Who had a specific assignment from the father, to atone. Christ Himself said,”Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I.” I saw them as separate with a youthful simple mind and I see them as separate as an adult with a desire to be a faithful disciple. Emil

  • Charlie

    Excellent article. I agree that the study is skewed and poorly phrased. I wonder what the result is when one adds that ‘one body or substance’ into the b option?

    However I think you could improve the language a bit when speaking about mormons and evangelicals. I’d define a christian as a follower of Jesus of the new testament, the Jesus of Nazareth, and one who accepts Jesus as his redeemer and saviour, so with that definition ‘mormons’ are a new and modern type of christian, some who don’t accept the nicean creed view of Jesus and hence is not a part of historical christianity or orthodox christianiy or the rest of christianity for that matter, but they are followers of Jesus Christ.

    Now the definition of what Jesus is and His nature is, although important, isn’t critical to knowing who follows his gospel or not since the gospel is spelt out in the New Testament and the nicean creed, for example, dates to the late 300′s.

  • Ted

    I find all of these comments facinating. I have read the New Testament several times. If you were to look at my scriptures you would find them marked up extensively and ready to fall apart. I am very comfortable with reconciling my beliefs with the New Testament. Are there theologic differences between Mormons and Evangelicals? No question. I think that we can unite on the things that we share in common as far as political things are concerned. Look at Harry Reid vs Mitt Romney. Both Mormon and on both ends of the political spectrum. If you look more at your own political stance on things first and vote your conscience then, you will be fine. Could I vote for a conservative of any (race, religion creed or persuation of whatever sort), the answer is yes. There are so many social problem plaguing our country now to be caught up in the details of someones particular religion.

  • youknowit

    The Truth is that Mormons are the REAL CHRISTIANS!! and the ones who followed Constantine’s reformed Christianity should be called Constantinos… or maybe Constantinity!!! Oh well call yourselves whatever you want to be called!! It doesn’t matter…. If you want to be a follower of Christ.. then do everything in your power to live a Christ-like life. We all ought to fight the bad influence of society not the good ones!!!

  • grimalkin

    Great discussion everyone, I have thoroughly enjoyed this!!!

  • Sincere Discussion

    I appreciate the mature tone of the discussions thus far. It is so much more productive to have these discussions with an undertone of respect for each other’s deep-held traditions and beliefs.

    It appears that what is happening in the Christian world with regards to Mormon doctrine is that because they are relatively new to the modern Christian world, the larger Christian community needs to figure out were to put them and how they actually “fit in” with the Christian family.

    In my humble opinion, the Catholics and the Protestants have always had significant doctrinal differences. And even among the many Protestant religions, there are significant differences. However, they all claim to find a common belief in the Creedal definition of Christianity. This has worked fine for centuries and the two “Christian brotherhoods” have settled into a working relationship based on those Creeds. And since the Creeds have been around since the 4th century, they are usually considered the “historical” or “traditional” Christian doctrine.

    The challenge that Mormons create as they argue to be allowed into the “Christian Club” is that they do not believe in the creeds. In fact, the key difference is that the Mormons don’t claim to be a “reformed” version of Christianity that has only been around since the 1830′s, but rather they claim to be even more historical than the Creeds because they posit that they are a “restoration” of the “Original” doctrine that Jesus Christ himself presented to His 12 Apostles.

    This places the “traditional” Christians in an awkward position because they are now forced to analyze whether their Creedal definition of Christianity, which was defined in the 4th century is in fact the same definition of Christianity as presented in the 1st century AD by Christ himself.

    Could it be that the Creeds are actually the newer and modified definition of the original “historical” Christianity?

    Would it be too far fetched to argue that the Mormon definition of Christianity actually predates the Creedal definition of Christianity?

    Thus, the term “Historical” or “Traditional” Christian still doesn’t work if applied to Evangelicals, as the argument could be made that the Mormon definition of Christianity came first.

    I don’t intend this to devolve into a “my doctrine is older than your doctrine” argument, but it may be more honest to use the term Creedal Christians when referring to the Evangelical definition of Christianity.

  • Tyson

    Thank you for your view and look into what is important when it comes to political decisions which can be a comforting similarity between “mormon” and Christian views. Family is always an important similarity between us and anything we can do to strengthen that view is important for us all, I myself being a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints; “mormon”.

    I do find it always comical in many ways the debate but I always have a hard time understanding what you state as the mainstream Christian view of “one in body”. If They, God, are one in body; was Christ standing on the right hand of himself when Stephen saw the heavens open? If God has no body why would Stephen describe his statement as having Christ standing on the right hand side of something without form or substance? I am not asking these in mocking or derrogitory terms; I am more curious as to how, mainstream christianity explains such a scripture? Please ellaborate so that I can have a better understanding of your point of view and be more apt to have empathy towards your viewpoint.

    The only way I can have greater empathy is to have a better understanding of your view. I would be interested to read your view. I am not going to respond with other scriptures, in this regard, because I don’t want this to be seen as attacking your viewpoint or a bash on your personal beliefs. Please share more about it though.

    Also we are often attacked for believing Christ and Satan to be brothers, as is evident in the responses to this post.

    Why was Satan in Heaven as described in Revelation 12? If he was a part of heaven how did he get there? Who created him?

    Obviously our teaching is that God created all his children and that the third of the host of heaven that the great dragon took with him were a third of the children of God that never will come to earth as they chose to be followers of the Devil rather than God and his Son.

    But from a Christian view who created the Devil, was it God or was he created of himself? How did God allow him to be in Heaven? Don’t we all believe that no unclean thing can dwell in the presence of God; so how did Satan, the father of all lies, stand in the presence of God if he was unclean at the time? One of these two things are in contrast.

    To me the statement that Satan was in Heaven means that he was worthy of being in Gods presence at one time but through sin fell, that son of the morning (Isaiah 14:12), after going contrary to the commands of God?

    So from your view What kind of war was it that happened in Heaven? When was it that it happened?

    I see my viewpoint but I would like to better understand your viewpoint and maybe then I won’t be as much offended when I see people slam us for believing the Adversary, the Son of God, and us all to be the children of God.

    • Timothy Dalrymple

      Tyson, in case you’re misunderstanding me: historically, Christians have *not* taught that the Persons of the Trinity are “one in body.” They taught that they are one in substance, which is quite different.

      I think you would gain a great deal by looking into a historical theology book. Look up J. N. D. Kelly as one example. Or Grillmeier.

      Best,

      Tim

      • Tyson

        Tim,

        I will take the time to look into J. N. D. Kelly. Thanks for the comment. If nothing else it will help me to have a better understanding of others view. I appreciate your time.

      • Tyson

        One other comment. Tim, I never read in your, the original, blog post, (or further comments), that you were saying they were one in body, (My comment is to replies to the article). I think we can both agree that the teaching of the trinity being one in purpose is a similar belief. Although I cannot argue there are particulars we may disagree on. Which is a great freedom we share by being Americans.

        I found your post refreshing and distinct. There is no question your a good man with your brief, succinct, and patient comments.

        It was to others reply where my question comes. I personally like your historical Christianity definition/comment and I have no qualms with it. Thank you.

        As a fellow believer in Christ; thank you for your blog post, replies, and commitment to your Faith.

        • Timothy Dalrymple

          Thank you, Tyson! I’m back on the blog now and catching up. God bless,

          Tim

  • David Mohr

    When I was a Lutheran pre-seminary student I conducted student services. When I discuss them with my pastor, he said the mistake I had made was the idea that God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost were separate beings. He told me that I was not understanding the verses I had used in my sermon. When I asked him to explain, he did not use any references to the Bible to enlighten me but said to look at my fingers and how they became the hand – “It is all a matter of perspective”. For me that was the end of my Lutheran studies as I had read the Bible and could not agree with a man’s interpretation. How often we dismiss the words of the Bible when in John it says “if any of you lack wisdom let him ask of God, who giveth to all men liberally”. Until God tells me otherwise, and yes I have asked, I have to side with the Latter-Day Saint interpretation. I just don’t understand why we must make it complicated when it is very simple – three different beings manifested at the baptism of Christ: God the Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost – how much simpler can it be?

  • David W.

    There is another reality that arises from Timothy’s article: Evangelicals like to emphasize the differences between their doctrine and that of the Mormons, while Mormons like to accentuate the similarities.

    One could be uncharitable and say that emphasizing the differences is divisive and an unfortunate feature of much of the discourse, both religious and otherwise, in this world of ours. Hence, the logical conclusion is that Evangelicals who ascribe to this view have no interest whatsoever in peace, harmony and inter-religious communication. They are merely reflecting the sort of emotional barbarity that humans often impose on their fellows.

    Or, one could adopt the slightly less uncharitable point of view, which is that logical conclusions, such as those of Gary Lawrence, are a little too logical for Evangelicals who have nailed their flags to the Nicene Creed mast and come hell, high water or Godly visitation they are going to stick to it.

    • Timothy Dalrymple

      Would you apply the same analysis to Jews and Messianic Jews? Are the Jews being divisive or illogical because they want to say that Messianic Judaism is not really Judaism? Evangelicals Christians — and other kinds of Christians (Catholic, Orthodox, etc.) who are not Mormons — are trying to preserve what they view as the right teaching that has been handed down the generations. They believe it’s important to identify false doctrine, in the same way that the LDS Church will try to identify and distance itself from heretical strands of Mormonism. But given its position as a minority religion, it’s more important for Mormons to emphasize the commonalities with non-Mormon Christianity. It has more to do with insider/outside than divisive/peaceable or illogical/logical.
      -Tim

      • Peaceful

        Tim, I am LDS, and I agree with your point in the article that the wording of the survey was unfair/misleading. It may not have been intentionally so, but it should have been changed. It’s important that LDS and other Christians try to understand each other and not misrepresent views. It’s fine if we both want to label “false doctrine” in each others’ views, but you must understand that LDS people have been told that we are a “cult,” “Non-Christians,” and that we’re going to hell because we believe the Nicean Creed is false doctrine. We don’t tell other Christians that they don’t love Christ and serve Him or that they will go to hell forever just because we have different beliefs about Him. Is God really going to send someone to hell forever because they misunderstood a few things about His nature? I was a missionary in Asia, and taught many people about Christ. I had water, ketchup, rocks, bottles, and firecrackers thrown at me for wearing Christ’s name on my badge. People would mockingly yell, “Jesus Christ” (in Chinese) at me. I may have taught those people some different doctrines then other Christians would have, but I also taught them about the Bible and Christ’s life. No matter what any other Christian would say about me, I served Jesus Christ and was attacked for it. When my fellow non-LDS Christian brothers and sisters also attack me, it hurts.

  • Russ

    To all people who insist that Mormons aren’t Christians I can only say, as a Mormon, it is a good thing your opinion doesn’t really matter. My judge will be my Father in Heaven. Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior, who atoned for all our sins, will be my advocate with the Father. How do I know this, by the power of the Holy Ghost which has burned this knowledge into every fiber of my being. This is why I am a Christian regardless of what anyone else’s opinion may be.

  • ned

    Mormons teach that there was an apostacy after the death of Christ’s original apostles and therefore there was a need for a restoration of the divine power those apostles held; and that Joseph Smith was chosen of God to restore that power. Obviously, Mormonism claims to differ from Protestants and Catholics because if it did not differ, there would be no need for their church.
    Therefore, the leadership of the Mormon Church has clearly stated that they believe in freedom of religion, hence they do not criticize other churches. Look at their web page to see official statements by their First Presidency.

  • Asha

    Personally, I think I’ll leave it up to the Savior to decide who his disciples are.

  • Beatrice H.

    My aim is not to continue an extended debate over misstated Latter-Day Saint beliefs; such as “Mormons pray to a Mother in heaven,” which they are not taught to do and doing so would be heretical, but remind you that Catholics pray to Mary, mother of Jesus, and other deceased good people, and Evangelicals consider Catholics Christians. Or do they? All Christians strive for Truth, that is, legitimacy based upon scattered “authentic” documents written and copied during Roman and Hellenic philosophical periods and put into use centuries after the documents were originally written.
    Upon the death of my mother’s parents when she and her siblings were age 11 through two, they were each reared by a relative or guardians who were each of different Christian denominations. Mother advised to not judge a relative or friend as unworthy of God’s redemption due to belonging to another chosen sect. She followed Abraham Lincoln’s adage, that “Whatever you are, be a good one”. She advised me to find a Christian church whose principles and traditions I could follow completely. If I found difficulty putting their principles into practice, I was to decide whether it was because I should repent, or because I should seek another denomination in which I could more fully believe and adhere.
    This country was built on Judeo-Christian principles. Would Evangelicals vote for a Jewish presidential, candidate as easily as a Protestant one, or hesitate as they did for the Catholic, John F. Kennedy? I figure the voters have had a chance to put in Presidents of several denominations, some of whom were philanderers, war-mongers, embezzlers, or were categorically hateful of various ethnic or religious groups. Could a Mormon be any less qualified?

  • Texan

    It is pretty clear from these comments that Mormons have ample scriptural evidence to support their concept of the nature of God and Christ, while at the same time, the only thing we see from the non-Mormons are accusations or misinterpretations of Mormon doctrines. There is absolutely NO scriptural substantiation of the Trinity doctrine which emanated from the Nicene and Athanasian Creeds. The closest we get is that Tim refers to the Trinity doctrine as the “classic theological tradition” with “hundreds of years of reflection behind it.” — then we are referred to scholarly treatises (Kelly and Grillmeier).

    Minimally, one must at least conclude that whether you want to believe in the Godhead as the Mormons describe it or not, the Mormons have the stronger position relative to the Bible. As such, it seems rather defensive for non-Mormons to keep heaping scorn on the Mormons because their own beliefs are less supported.

    • http://thesidos.blogspot.com/l Arthur Sido

      Texan,

      Besides hiding behind a pseudonym and offering no substantive support for your wild accusations, you also conveniently neglect to point out that the position that actually has no Scriptural support is the mormon position of God as a created being, Jesus being the brother of Satan, etc. You are certainly welcome to believe in mormonism, although I would urge you to read some non-church approved materials, but to suggest that the ample evidence of the Triune God is simply not there is disingenuous at best and outright lying at worst.

  • Dwight Rogers

    This has been a great discussion. Much of the discussion hinges around whether Mormons are Christian. Make sure you read the last third of this post where I cite the early orthodox christian bishops and theologians. Some points:

    It is claimed that Mormons are wrong because they believe in extra-Biblical revelation and scripture. Yet, as some have already pointed out, much of Christianity believes in extra-Biblical creeds and councils formulated centuries after the time of Christ and the Apostles. Most of the wording formulations in these creeds cannot be found in the Bible.

    Earlier in this discussions Ken Silva complained that the Mormons “believe in many gods” and B.E.Ward complained that Mormons believe “as man is, God once was; as God is now man may be,” and Andrew Price complained that “Christianity is monotheistic , Mormonism is polytheistic and it constitutes a most vile heresy.”

    Yet, it turns out that these are the very things that Christ, Apostles, and the earliest Christians believed. Note the following:

    “Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him.
    “Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me?
    “The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.
    “Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said ye are gods?
    “If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken;
    “Say ye of him whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest, because I said, I am the Son of God:” (John 10:31-36)
    Here, the Jews wanted to stone Jesus ” for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.” Jesus then reminded them of their own scripture which teaches that “, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High” from Psalms 82:6.
    After this the Jews had to back down. They could not stone him because they knew he was right. They knew that their own scriptures teach the same thing and they had no case against Him. Jesus reminded them that God had “called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken”.
    The Apostle Paul makes a similar point as recorded in the New Testament. Like Isaiah, he writes of false man-made gods in 1 Corinthians chapter 8. In addition to the false man-made gods on earth, he also writes of the existence of true gods in the heavens He says:
    “For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many and lords many,) But to us there is but one God.. .” (1 Cor. 8: 5-6)

    Here Paul recognizes that there are both false gods on earth and true gods in the heavens, but out of them all, there is only one God for us. Some may doubt that Paul was referring to true gods when he said “in heaven” and “(as there be gods many and lords many,). Yet, among true Bible believers, who can believe that there are false gods in heaven? So, when Paul talks of gods in heaven, he can only be talking of true Gods. Here, the Apostle Paul speaking polytheistically about the gods in heaven but monotheistically when he says that only one of them is our God.

    Psalms 8:4-5 teaches that man is “a little lower than the gods.” The King James Version (and most translations) give it as “lower than the angels,” but the word used in the Hebrew is gods. The Hebrew term “elohim”,or “gods” is used to describe human judges in Exodus 21:6 and 22:8-9. Here authorized servants of God are called “gods.” Exodus 7:1 says that Moses was to be “god to Pharaoh.” Note that these are with a small “g” recognizing the pre-eminence of the God we worship.

    And Paul says in Romans 8:14-18: “For as many as are lead by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God; And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ;”

    And again Christ said to John the Revelator: “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. (Revelations 3:21)

    And note these:

    “Who is like unto thee, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?” (Ex. 15:11)

    “For the Lord your God is God of gods, and the Lord of lords, a great God…
    “Thou shalt fear the Lord they God; him shalt thou serve, and to him shalt thou cleave, and swear by his name.

    “He is thy praise, and he is thy God…” (Deu. 11:17, 20-21)

    “God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods.” (Ps. 82:1) Or as it is rendered in the NRSV translation “God has taken His place in the divine council, in the midst of the gods he holds judgment.”

    “Among the gods there is none like unto thee, O Lord; neither are there any works like unto thy works.” (Ps. 86:8)

    “For thou, Lord, art high above all the earth: thou art exalted far above all gods.” (Ps. 97:9)
    “For I know that the Lord is great, and that our Lord is above all gods.” (Ps. 135:5)
    “O give thanks unto the God of gods: for his mercy endureth forever. O give thanks to the Lord of lords: for his mercy endureth forever.” (Ps. 136: 2-3)
    “For the Lord your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God.” (Deut. 10:17)

    Bible scholars note that the early Hebrew religion was polytheistic:

    “It is today more generally agreed that the religion of the patriarchs is properly to be designated as polytheistic.” (Herbert G. May, The Patriarchal Idea of God, in Journal of Biblical Studies, 60, 1944, p 114)

    Recently biblical scholar Mark Smith published his book “The Early History of God, Yahweh, and Other Deities in Ancient Israel. “Jehovah or Yahweh is understood early on in Israelite tradition as Israel’s God in distinction to El, the older, more senior God. Yahweh is one of El’s sons so El ultimately is the Father. Smith cites Deuteronomy 32:8 through 9 in this regard.

    Elyon, which is “most high” referes to the Most High god. Smith and other scholars argure that this referes to a deity separate from Yahweh, and older god with whom Yahweh is associated.

    “EL” is an early form for the name of the head god. The renowned William F. Albright says that originally there was “no kind of ‘El’ monotheism among the early western Semites and in particular among the early Hebrews.” (William F. Albright, From the Stone Age to Christianity [FSAC], pp 246-47)
    Even Yahwism was not originally monotheistic but rather a “monarchism” which tolerated no rivals. (Theodore Vriezen, The religion of Ancient Israel, London 1967, pp 12,35)
    “The existence of other gods is not denied in the first commandment of the decalog itself; in fact it presupposes their existence and forbids the Israelites to worship them.” (Roland de Vaux, The Early History of Israel, Philadelphia, 1968, p 463)

    Therefore, Paul, Moses, and Isaiah correctly talk of many gods while also proclaiming that there is only one that is at the head. (Isaiah 43, 44, 45; 1 Cor 8:5-6 & others). Thus, the commandment “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” is an admission that there are other gods, and that we are not to worship them.

    Eloheim is a plural form of the word for God “which echoes ancient polytheism.” (B.W. Anderson, Interpreter’s Bible, 2:413) Thus, when the head God says, “let us make man in our image.” We are hearing the speech of the Gods in the ancient pantheon or council of Gods as they discuss the creation of man. (Albright, Yahweh and the Gods of Canaan, New York 1968, 192; FSAC, 396)

    Albright also says that the Old Testament is filled with “debris” from an earlier religious culture that was overwhelmingly polytheistic. (Albright, Yahweh and the Gods of Canann, 185)

    The Old Testament “Sons of God” were the lesser deities of this polytheism. These lesser gods were later called “angels” in the monotheism of later centuries. (Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, 4:426; also Marvin Pope, Anchor Bible, Job, New York 1965, 9)

    The lesser gods together with EL and Yahweh composed the so called “council in Heaven” or SODE. (Albright, Yahweh and the Gods of Canaan, 191-93; also J. Wheeler Robinson, op. cit. 151-57)
    SODE is the Old Testament Hebrew word for “assembly”, “circle of people in council”, or “confidential talk, secret.” It is similar in meaning to the New Testament “musterion” or mystery. For example, in the King James version, SODE is translated “secret” (e.g. Amos 3:7, where it literally means “what is going on in the heavenly council”)

    At the head of this ancient SODE was the divine Triad, i.e., the Father, Mother, and Son. (The following scholars have investigated this Triad extensively: D. Nielson, Ras Shamra Mythologie und bibische Theologie, Abhandlungen Fur die kunde des Morgenlandes, Bd. 2, #4, 2: Die Mutergottin in Kanaan, Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenlandischen Gesellschaft, 1938, 526-51; Julian Morgenstern, Some Significant Antecedents of Christianity, Leiden, 1966, 82ff; 96; Maria Hofner, Die Vorislamitischen Religionen Arabiens, Stutgart, 1970, 245-46; and William F. Albright [FSAC], 173, 247)

    William F. Albright writes about the beliefs of the people who recorded the word of God as we have it in the Old Testament. He says that the Hebrews believed in “a father, El, a mother whose specific name or names remain obscure (perhaps Elat or Anath), and a son appears as the storm-god, probably named Shaddai, ‘the One of the Mountain(s);’” (Albright, FSAC, 247). The name “Shaddai” appears throughout the Old Testament as one of Yahweh’s names translated in the KJV as “God Almighty”, indicating that he was once considered to be the son of El.

    Rapael Patai has shown that the Triad was often extended into a Tetrad because the Son – like the Father – was also joined by a wife. Thus we end up with a pattern of father, mother, son, and son’s wife, perpetuating the relationship into successive generations. This Tetrad appears throughout the near east alongside the original Triad. (Patai, The Hebrew Goddes, New York, 1967, 164-70)

    That such a polytheistic belief actually existed in early Israel, where it survived for many millennia, is proven by the fact that medieval Jews still retained it as an important part of their Kabbalistic doctrine. (Ibid, 156-58) These Jews gave the added explanation that the four letters of the Tetragrammaton, YHWH, secretly corresponded to a heavenly tetrad of Father-Mother-Son-Son’s Wife. (Ibid, 162-64)
    Another scholar, J.J.M. Roberts, says that the head of all Semitic pantheons was the great Father “El”, “Il”, etc. (J.J.M.Roberts, The Earliest Semitic Pantheon, Baltimore, 1972, 32, 34)

    El’s Hebrew name was often given in the majestic plural as “Eloheim”. In most pantheons, El tended to be passive; hence, a younger god – generally his son – served as “executive” power in his stead, and as the active agent of creation. Thus Proverbs 30:4 asks concerning the two Creators: “What is His name and what is the name of His son?” (Prov. 30:4, see also Heb 1:1-2)

    Otto Eissfeldt and many others, have convincingly shown that the Israelite El was “an entity different from… and superior to Yahweh.” (Otto Eissfelt, El and Yahweh, Journal of Semitic Studies 1, 1956, 25-37; T.J. Meek, University of Toronto Quartely, 1939, 196; J.A. Emerton, The Origin of the Son of Man Imagery, Journal of Theological Studies, 9, 1958, 240-42, and many others. See also John 14:12,28; Matt. 26:39; Luke 23:46; John 20:17))

    Cyrus H. Gordon has recently cited evidence that El and Yahweh were known as Father and Son in the Ras Shamra tablets, ca. 400 BC. He writes, “We now know that the latter is the former’s son,” (Gordon, addendum to Before Columbus, New York, 1973 edition, 169)

    Other scholars have demonstrated this relationship in the Old Testament. Deuteronomy 32:8-9, for example, clearly shows that El and Yahweh were separate and distinct: “When the Most High [El Elyon] divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the sons of God; Yahweh’s portion is his people, Jacob the lot of his inheritance.” (Deu. 32: 8-9, brackets added)

    Notice the distinction between the two persons “El Elyon”, translated as “Most High”, and “Yahweh” the son. This is clearly another Biblical reference to the head god (who is the Father) and the Son who is Yahweh or Jesus. This is consistent with the meeting of the gods spoken of in Genesis 1:1, and other verses. It also confirms that Old Testament doctrine, early Christian doctrine, and LDS doctrine are all one and the same. It confirms that Jesus and Jehovah are just two names for the same person and that Jesus/Jehova is separate and distinct from the Father.

    In examining this verse it is also significant to note that in the Masoretic text, and the KJV which comes from it, the words are altered from the original “sons of God” to “sons of Israel.” But earlier texts such as the Septuagint and the recently discovered biblical text from Qumran, which dates over 1000 years earlier than any previous Hebrew text, confirm the earlier rendition.

    Early Christian versions of this same Bible text (Deu. 32: 8-9) also show that EL or Eloheim and Yahweh were once believed to be separate and distinct individuals. For example, the early Christian writing Clementine Homilies makes Yahweh both “son” and “Lord” who received the Hebrews as his people from the “Most High” or the Father. In other words, the early Christians believed that the Father and the Son were separate and distinct individuals and the early Christians use Deuteronomy 32:8-9 to show this.

    The early Christian writing Clementine Recognitions also describes the “sons of God” as archangels, chief of whom is Christ. In other words, they believed that when the head god called a meeting of the gods, the sons of God were gathered with Christ as the chief son. Another early Christian document, the Pseudo-Cyprian (De centisma sexigisma tricesma) declares that this “chief archangel” was the same one whom Isaiah called “Lord of hosts,” or in other words, Yahweh (e.g. Isa 3:1)
    It is now becoming recognized that the original Biblical religion was polytheistic in the sense that there are more than one god but monotheistic in the sense that the ancient Israelites worshiped only one of them. Early references to this, such as Genesis 3:22 “the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil.”, are finally beginning to be accepted for what they really say.

    The concept of a plurality of gods is now being recognized by Scholars as prevalent in Biblical and post-Biblical Judaism, according to a recent scholarly, non-LDS work by Peter Hayman (“Monotheism – A Misused Word in Jewish Studies?,” Journal of Jewish Studies, 42: 1-15, Spring 1991, as cited by Peterson and Ricks, p.78)

    William Dever, the worlds most renowned American biblical archaeologist has now published his book entitled “Did God have a Wife.”

    Hayman writes:
    “The theme of ‘becoming like one of us’ reveals itself as the lurking subtext of Judaism from Adam to Nachman of Bratslav. But how does this material square with the supposed transcendental monotheism of Judaism from the post-exilic period on? Not at all, as far as I can see!… [Many Jewish mythical texts] presuppose that humans can become divine and dispose of the powers of God.” (Hayman, pp. 4-5)

    Extensive literature, for example, deals with human ascension to heaven as deification, with Enoch as a common example. Evidence for this from early Christianity and the Enoch literature is treated by Alan F. Segal in Paul the Convert: The Apostolate and Apostasy of Saul the Pharisee (Yale, New Haven, CT, 1960, pp. 22, 34-71, as cited by Peterson and Ricks, p. 78).

    As an early Jewish midrash or scriptural commentary expressed the belief, “The Holy One will in the future call all of the pious by their names, and give them a cup of elixir of life in their hands so that they should live and endure forever. (And He will also) reveal to all the pious in the world to come the Ineffable Name with which new heavens and a new earth can be created, so that all of them should be able to create new worlds.”

    The possibility of human deification was held by that “champion of orthodoxy,” Athanasius (e.g., see Keith E. Norman,”Deification: The Content of Athanasian Soteriology,” Ph.D. Dissertation, Duke University, 1980, pp. 77-106; and Clyde L. Manschreck, A History of Christianity in the World, 2nd ed., Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 1985, p. 62, both as cited by Ricks and Peterson, p. 78).

    We find it in early Orthodox tradition as well, for the ‘chief idea of St. Maximus [who died in 662 A.D.] as of all of Eastern theology, [was] the idea of deification” (S.L. Epifanovic as quoted by Jaroslav Pelikan, The Spirit of Eastern Christendom (600-1700). The Christian Tradition, vol. 2, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1974, p. 10, as cited by Peterson and Ricks, p. 79).

    Biblical scholar Lowell handy treats the subject of the great council in Heaven where the gods met and directed the affairs of the earth. In his book “Among the Host of Heaven” he says “The Bible calls the assembled beings, the host of heaven” or “the heavenly host” and says it was widely understood that these were the gods in the plural who made up the heavenly host in Judah and Israel.

    The idea of a council of gods who direct the affairs of man is found in the terms “sode” which means council, “,ped” which means meeting or assembly, “Adagh” which is the congregation, “Kedushean” which means the “Holy Ones”, and “Saba” which is the host. These terms are used throughout the Bible and refer to the council of gods. This is mentioned by non LDS scholars such as Dexter Calendar in the book “Adam in Myth and History, An Ancient Israelite Perspective on the Primal Human.”

    Another interesting term is “The Saints” which is the technical term for the “Holy Ones” who are members of the “Heavenly Assembly.”

    Amos 3:7 refers to this council. The word for “secret” in this reference is”sode” which is the council in heaven. God reveles his secrets to the prophets which come from the council of gods in heaven.
    Jeremiah 23:18 says that you can distinguish a false prophet from a true prophet because a true prophet has stood in the council.

    Ernst Benz speaks of this doctrine as a Christian doctrine, and says:

    “One can think what one wants of this doctrine of progressive deification, but one thing is certain: with this anthropology Joseph Smith is closer to the view of man held by the Ancient Church than the precursors of the Augustinian doctrine of original sin were, who considered the thought of such a substantial connection between God and man as the heresy, par excellance.” (Ernst W. Benz, “Imago Dei: Man in the Image of God,” in Reflections on Mormonism: Judaeo-Christian Parallels, ed. Truman G. Madsen, Religious Studies Center, BYU, Provo, UT, 1978, pp. 215-216, as cited by Peterson and Ricks, p. 80.

    You will recall that I quoted B.E.Ward’s complained that Mormons believe “as man is, God once was; as God is now man may be.” Yet this is exactly what the early Christian Bishops and prominent theologians taught. The early Christians understood Jesus’ and Paul’s teaching about plural gods. Note that the early Christians were good Mormons:
    “God became man that man might become God.” (St. Augustine and Thomas Aquinis in: Philip Barlow, doctoral candidate in American Religious History at Harvard: Unorthodox Orthodoxy: The Idea of Deification in Christian History, Sunstone, Vol 8, no 5, pp 13-16))
    “He became what we are, in order that we might be what he is.” (Maximus in Ibid)
    “I may become God to the same extent as he became man.” (Gregory of Nazianus in Ibid)
    “The Holy Spirit aids man in being made God.” (Basil of Ceasarea in Ibid)
    “Flee with all in your power from being man and make haste to become gods.” (Origin in Ibid)
    Speaking of the soul which seeks to become pure Clement of Alexandria said: “The soul, receiving the Lord’s power, studies to become a god.” (Clement in Ibid)

    IRENAEUS
    It has been claimed by some that this doctrine of becoming gods is an altogether pagan doctrine that blasphemes the majesty of God. Not all Christians have thought so, however. Irenaeus [A.D. 130-200], Bishop of Lyons, was instructed by Polycarp. Polycarp was personally instructed by the apostle John. Irenaeus became a prominent bishop in the Church in the second century. He became the most important Christian theologian of his time, and is considered orthodox by mainstream Christianity. Yet he taught:

    “If the Word became a man, It was so men may become gods.” (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, bk. 5, pref.)

    Irenaeus also taught: “We were not made gods at our beginning, but first we were made men, then, in the end, gods.” (Ibid, also in (Bettenson, H., The Early Christian Fathers, [London: Oxford University Press, 1956,] p. 94.)

    Also: “Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Word of God, of his boundless love, became what we are that he might make us what he himself is.” (Irenaeus in Henry Betteson, The Early Christian Fathers, London: Oxford University Press, 1956, p 106)

    And: “While man gradually advances and mounts towards perfection; that is, he approaches the eternal. The eternal is perfect; and this is God. Man has first to come into being, then to progress, and by progressing come to manhood, and having reached manhood to increase, and thus increasing to persevere, and persevering to be glorified, and thus see his Lord.” (Irenaeus in Henry Betteson, The Early Christian Fathers, London: Oxford University Press, 1956, p. 94)

    And :”How then will any be a god, if he has not first been made a man? How immortal, if he has not in his mortal nature obeyed his maker? For one’s duty is first to observe the discipline of man and thereafter to share in the glory of God.” (Ibid, pp. 95-96)

    Indeed, Saint Irenaeus had more to say on the subject of deification:

    “Do we cast blame on him [God] because we were not made gods from the beginning, but were at first created merely as men, and then later as gods? Although God has adopted this course out of his pure benevolence, that no one may charge him with discrimination or stinginess, he declares, ‘I have said, ye are gods; and all of you are sons of the Most High.’ For it was necessary at first that nature be exhibited, then after that, what was mortal would be conquered and swallowed up in immortality.” (Irenaeus, Against Heresies,4.38. Cp. 4.11)

    “But man receives progression and increase towards God. For God is always the same, so also man, when found in God, shall always progress toward God.” (Ibid)

    CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA
    In the second century, Saint Clement of Alexandria wrote, “Yea, I say, the Word of God became a man so that you might learn from a man how to become a god.” (Clement of Alexandria, Exhortation to the Greeks, 1; Also in Clement of Alexandria, Protrepticus 1, (8,4), in Bettenson, The Early Christian Fathers, p. 244.)

    Clement also said that “If one knows himself, he will know God, and knowing God will become like God.. His is beauty, true beauty, for it is God, and that man becomes a god, since God wills it. So Heraclitus was right when he said, ‘Men are gods, and gods are men.’” (Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor, 3.1 See also Clement, Stromateis, 23.)

    And also: “‘To him who has shall be added;’ knowledge to faith, love to knowledge, and love to inheritance. And this happens when a man depends on the Lord through faith, through knowledge, and love, and ascends with him to the place where God is, the God and guardian of our faith and love, from whom knowledge is delivered to those who are fit for this privilege and who are selected because of their desire for fuller preparation and training; who are prepared to listen to what is told them, to discipline their lives, to make progress by careful observance of the law of righteousness. This knowledge leads them to the end, the endless final end; teaching of the life that is to be ours, a life of conformity to God, with gods, when we have been freed from all punishment, which we undergo as a result of our wrong-doings for our saving discipline. After thus being set free; those who had been perfected are given their reward and their honors. They have done with their purification, they have done with the rest of their service, though it be a holy service, with the holy; now they become pure in heart, and because of their close intimacy with the Lord there awaits them a restoration to eternal contemplation; and they have received the title of ‘gods,’ since they are destined to be enthroned with other ‘gods’ who are ranked next below the Savior.” (Ibid pp. 243-244)

    JUSTIN MARTYR
    Still in the second century, Saint Justin Martyr insisted that in the beginning men were “made like God, free from suffering and death,” and that they are “thus deemed worthy of becoming gods and of having power to become sons of the highest.” (Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho, 124)

    ST. CYRIL OF JERUSLEM
    Here is an interesting quote from St. Cyril of Jerusalem, an early Christian bishop. This fascinating quote is from his Prologue to the Catechetical Lectures:

    “When thou shalt have heard what is written concerning the mysteries, then wilt thou understand things which thou knewest not. And think not that thou receivest a small thing: though a miserable man, thou receivest one of God’s titles. Hear St. Paul saying, God is faithful. Hear another Scripture saying, God is faithful and just. Foreseeing this, the Psalmist, because men are to receive a title of God, spoke thus in the person of God: I said, Ye are Gods, and are all sons of the Most High. But beware lest thou have the title of ‘faithful,’ but the will of the faithless. Thou hast entered into a contest, toil on through the race: another such opportunity thou canst not have. Were it thy wedding-day before thee, wouldest thou not have disregarded all else, and set about the preparation for the feast? And on the eve of consecrating thy soul to the heavenly Bridegroom, wilt thou not cease from carnal things, that thou mayest win spiritual?”

    ATHANASIUS
    In the early fourth century Saint Athanasius – that tireless foe of heresy after whom the orthodox Athanasian Creed is named – also stated his belief in deification:

    “The Word was made flesh in order that we might be enabled to be made gods . Just as the Lord, putting on the body, became a man, so also we men are both deified through his flesh, and henceforth inherit everlasting life.” (Athanasius, Against the Arians, 1.39, 3.34.)

    On another occasion Athanasius stated, “He became man that we might be made divine” (Athanasius, De Inc., 54.) – yet another parallel to Lorenzo Snow’s expression.

    The possibility of human deification is taught again by that “champion of orthodoxy,” Athanasius according to Keith E. Norman. (e.g., see Keith E. Norman, “Deification: The Content of Athanasian Soteriology,” Ph.D. Dissertation, Duke University, 1980, pp. 77-106; and Clyde L. Manschreck, A History of Christianity in the World, 2nd ed., Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 1985, p. 62, both as cited by Ricks and Peterson, p. 78).

    He (Athanasius) taught that we are “sons and gods by reason of the word within us.” (G.L. Prestige, God in Patristic Thought, London: 1956, p 73)

    JEROME
    St. Jerome explains Psalms 82:6 as did other early Christian fathers:
    “‘I said: You are gods, all of you sons of the Most High.’ Let Eunomius hear this, let Arius, who say that the Son of God is son in the same way we are. That we are gods is not so by nature, but by grace. ‘But to as many as receive him he gave power of becoming sons of god.’ I made man for that purpose, that from men they may become gods. ‘I said: Ye are gods, all of you sons of the Most High.’ Imagine the grandeur of our dignity; we are called gods and sons! I have made you gods just as I made Moses a god to pharaoh, so that after you are gods, you may be made worthy to be sons of God. Reflect upon the divine words: ‘with God there is no respector of persons.’ God did not say: ‘I said you are gods,’ you kings and princes; but ‘all’ to whom I have given equally a body, soul, a spirit, I have given equally divinity and adoption. We are ‘all’ born equals. Our humanity is one of equality.” (Jerome, The Homilies of Saint Jerome, Washington D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 1964 pp 106-107)

    Jerome goes on to explain that man has fallen from being heirs of godship; but that he can rise and gain back this heirship. He says:
    “‘Yet like men you shall die.’ You see, therefore that man will die. God does not die. Adam, too, as long as he obeyed the precept and was a god, did not die. After he tasted of the forbidden tree, however, he died immediately. In fact, God says to him: ‘The day you eat of it, you must die.’ The Hebrew has a better way of expressing this: ‘But you like Adam shall die.’ Just as Adam was cast out of the Garden of Eden, so, likewise, were we. ‘And shall fall like one of the princes.’ Since the Lord had said: ‘all of you sons of the Most High,’ it is not possible to be the son of the Most High, unless He Himself is the Most High. I said that all of you would be exalted as I am exalted. But, you ‘shall fall like one of the princes.’ It is precisely because we had been so elevated that we are said to have fallen.” (Ibid)

    Jerome later indicates that after having become “mere men”, those men can still become gods. He quotes the scriptures and explains: “‘Give thanks to the God of Gods.’ The prophet is referring to those gods of whom it is written: I said: ‘You are gods;’ and again: ‘God arises in the divine assembly.’ They who cease to be mere men, abandon the ways of vice and are become perfect, are gods and the sons of the Most High.” (Ibid p. 353)

    TERTULLIAN
    “If, indeed, you follow those who did not at the time endure the Lord when showing Himself to be the Son of God, because they would not believe Him to be the Lord, then call to mind along with them the passage where it is written, ‘I have said, Ye are gods, and ye are children of the Most High;’ and again, ‘God standeth in the congregation of the gods:’ in order that, if the scripture has not been afraid to designate as gods human beings, who have become sons of God by faith , you may be sure that the same scripture has with greater propriety conferred the name of the Lord on the true and one-only Son of God.” (Tertullian, The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Grand Rapids Michigan: Wm.B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1885, vol. 3, p. 608)

    ORIGEN
    Like other early Church Fathers, Origen, [A.D. 185-254], also teaches the same Biblical doctrine, of Genesis 1:1, that there is a head god who is “Lord of gods”, Origin teaches that there is a distinction to be made between “the God” and others who are also “gods.”
    “Everything which, without being ‘God-in-himself’ is deified by participation in his godhead, should strictly be called ‘God,’ not ‘the God.’ The ‘firstborn of all creation,.’ Since he by being ‘with God’ first gathered godhood to himself, is therefore in every way more honored than others besides himself, who are ‘gods’ of whom God is the God, as it is said, ‘God the Lord of gods spoke and called the world.’ For it was through his ministry that they became gods, since he drew divinity from God for them to be deified, and of his kindness generously shared it with them. God, then, is the true God, and those who through him are fashioned into gods are copies of the prototype.” (Ibid p. 324)

    He went on to teach: “The Father, then, is proclaimed as the one true God; but besides the true God are many who become gods by participating in God.” (Ibid)

    Origen claimed that God “will be ‘all’ in each individual in this way: when all which any rational understanding, cleansed from the dregs of every sort of vice, and with every cloud of wickedness completely swept away, can either feel, or understand, or think, will be wholly God….” (Origen, De Principiis 3:6:3, in Roberts and Donaldson, The Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 4, p. 345.)

    AUGUSTINE
    Finally, Saint Augustine himself, the greatest of the Christian Fathers, said:
    “But he himself that justifies also deifies, for by justifying he makes sons of God. ‘For he has given them power to become the sons of God’ [John 1:12] If then we have been made sons of God, we have also been made gods.” (Augustine, On the Psalms, 50.2 Augustine insists that such individuals are gods by grace rather than by nature, but they are gods nevertheless.)

    ST. MAXIMUS
    “We find it in early Orthodox tradition as well, for the ‘chief idea of St. Maximus [who died in 662 A.D.] as of all of Eastern theology, [was] the idea of deification” (S.L. Epifanovic as quoted by Jaroslav Pelikan, The Spirit of Eastern Christendom (600-1700). The Christian Tradition, vol. 2, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1974, p. 10, as cited by Peterson and Ricks, p. 79).
    The following is from Hugh Nibley’s “Old Testament and Related Studies” Chapter 6:
    “Because of the Plan,” says Codex Brucianus 96, “we are always to look upward”; from time to time there is a great coronation day, a cosmic commencement day in which all who are worthy take over their new position and receive the spaces assigned them with their crowns of advancement. Clement of Alexandria and Origen, those two earliest fathers, each having one foot in the old church and one in the new, characteristically accepted the doctrine of eternal progression at first, then rejected it when the schoolmen finally talked them out of it. In Origen’s universe there are more exalted beings who leave the less exalted beings further and further behind. He compares their advancements to a series of examinations and makes much of the three degrees of glory–”three celestial levels, like the sun, the moon, and the stars.” According to him, the visible world is only a small fraction of the invisible world, which in turn is only a small fraction of the potential world that is to become reality in the aeons ahead. All this from Origen, the greatest of Christian theologians before he joined the doctors, when he still spoke as an early Christian. “After death,” he says, “I think the saints go to Paradise, a place of teaching, a school of the spirits in which everything they saw on earth will be made clear to them. Those who were pure in heart will progress more rapidly, reaching the kingdom of heaven by definite steps or degrees.” For Origen, according to Father Danielou, evil is nothing else than refusal to accept progress. This recalls a statement from the Pistis Sophia that hell is what lies in the opposite direction from that of progress, a state of inert and helpless being. Hell is not lively; it is the opposite of action, energy, purpose, and motion. The devil has no real purpose; all he is principle of action within himself. He is apolyon, the destroyer; Satan or diabolos, the accuser.
    “It is undeniable that this doctrine of eternal progression points inescapably in the direction of becoming like God. There are many mansions, regions, degrees, worlds, spaces, and heavens, but all have but one law. If you keep this law, you will become creators of worlds. The worlds are so that intelligent spirits might come and inhabit them and in the process and in due time become gods, since they are literally the children of God. “The sign of Divinity,” says the Ginza, “is that one’s glory expands.” It is always increasing. It’s an expanding universe, isn’t it? This reminds me of a statement in the Gospel of Philip: “A dog begets a dog, a horse begets a horse.” And you call yourselves the children of God? What does that mean? How can you avoid the conclusion in that case? What does a god beget? What does a god beget? Like begets like. You call yourselves the children of God. These people liked to call themselves that–the Children of Light and the Children of God.”
    Question: If Athanasius, Augustine, Saint Irenaeus, Saint Cyril, Saint Maximus the Confessor, Saint Clement of Alexandria, and others, including C.S. Lewis in modern days, can teach the doctrine of deification and still be accepted as orthodox Christians, why are Latter-day Saints said to be non-Christian for such beliefs? To me, the evidence is consistent with our claim that the original Church of Jesus Christ has been restored. Our doctrines are clearly at odds with mainstream churches of the day, but that’s not because Joseph Smith was making up ludicrous doctrine. Long lost but true doctrines were restored through him as a divinely authorized prophet.

    And if popular Christian Orthodoxy continues to hold to the current tradition, then what are they to do with the Early Christians and Biblical teachings that are so Mormon like and so different from what is widely believed now? Which Christians are right, current Christians, or the Early Christians? Who is right, Jesus, Paul, the Psalmist, and the Latter-day Saints, or Christians who believe the extra-Biblical creeds?

    • Timothy Dalrymple

      A very interesting argument, Dwight. I’ve never heard it argued — although I imagine this must be common in Mormon apologetics circles — that the early Christian (and still Eastern Orthodox) concept of divinization is essentially the same as (or perhaps an early and less developed version of) the Mormon concept. I think they’re actually quite different, personally, when you look at the way in which these authors explain theosis. There’s certainly no mention of being gods of planets and populating them. I think it had more to do with the restoration of the image of God, and union with God, than becoming *a* God. But I do think it’s a fascinating argument.

      -Tim

      • Dwight Rogers

        Hi C & C Admin 1. I don’t know anywhere in LDS theology, scripture, or official teaching where it is explicitly said that we believe in having our own planets. It may be reasonable to imply such but it is not stated that way. I thing that wording, “having a planet”, is often an attempt by anti-Mormons to sensationalize our beliefs in order to put us down.

        Regarding the early church fathers: they said what they said. The citations I have given are quite blunt and clear as are the teachings of Jesus, Paul, and John on the subject. It seems to me that Christians often interpret the Bible through the lens of the extra-biblical creeds of later centuries which causes them to miss, or ignore, plain teachings of Jesus and the Apostles that don’t fit the later creeds which creeds contain metaphysical wording formulations that are not found in the Bible.

        It has been my intention to point out that since Jesus said we are gods and the scripture cannot be broken, and since Paul and John taught similar things, and the early Church fathers also, then why criticize Mormon’s so much for the same belief.

        We believe, most of all, that Jesus is the Messiah, the son of God. We believe that Jesus was born a virgin birth as the Bible says he was, that he carried out his ministry, healed the sick, caused the blind to see, the lame to walk, restored the dead to life, that he suffered in Gethsemane and died on the cross taking upon himself the sins of the world, was resurrected the third day, ascended to heaven and will return again, that every knee will bow and tongue confess that he is the Christ, the son of God, and that salvation comes only through him and his grace after all our imperfect efforts. That is our central belief. If those beliefs are not Christian than what is?

  • Dwight Rogers

    I left a post yesterday and it now gone. Can the managers of this site tell me why my post was removed.

    thanks,

    Dwight

    • Timothy Dalrymple

      Dwight, only people who have an already-approved comment are able to post directly. If you’ve never posted and been approved before, then your response will have to wait on me to approve it. After I do approve it, then future comments will go up immediately without an approval process.

      I was away from the blog, tending to my newborn, so I had a number of comments I had not yet approved. Thanks for leaving comments!

      -Tim

      • Dwight Rogers

        Understood Tim. Thanks.

  • http://thesacredgrove-nathair.blogspot.com Sam Smith

    The Living Christ: The Testimony of the Apostles
    “The Living Christ: The Testimony of the Apostles,” The Living Christ: The Testimony of the Apostles, (2000)

    As we commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ two millennia ago, we offer our testimony of the reality of His matchless life and the infinite virtue of His great atoning sacrifice. None other has had so profound an influence upon all who have lived and will yet live upon the earth.

    He was the Great Jehovah of the Old Testament, the Messiah of the New. Under the direction of His Father, He was the creator of the earth. “All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:3). Though sinless, He was baptized to fulfill all righteousness. He “went about doing good” (Acts 10:38), yet was despised for it. His gospel was a message of peace and goodwill. He entreated all to follow His example. He walked the roads of Palestine, healing the sick, causing the blind to see, and raising the dead. He taught the truths of eternity, the reality of our premortal existence, the purpose of our life on earth, and the potential for the sons and daughters of God in the life to come.

    He instituted the sacrament as a reminder of His great atoning sacrifice. He was arrested and condemned on spurious charges, convicted to satisfy a mob, and sentenced to die on Calvary’s cross. He gave His life to atone for the sins of all mankind. His was a great vicarious gift in behalf of all who would ever live upon the earth.

    We solemnly testify that His life, which is central to all human history, neither began in Bethlehem nor concluded on Calvary. He was the Firstborn of the Father, the Only Begotten Son in the flesh, the Redeemer of the world.

    He rose from the grave to “become the firstfruits of them that slept” (1 Corinthians 15:20). As Risen Lord, He visited among those He had loved in life. He also ministered among His “other sheep” (John 10:16) in ancient America. In the modern world, He and His Father appeared to the boy Joseph Smith, ushering in the long-promised “dispensation of the fulness of times” (Ephesians 1:10).

    Of the Living Christ, the Prophet Joseph wrote: “His eyes were as a flame of fire; the hair of his head was white like the pure snow; his countenance shone above the brightness of the sun; and his voice was as the sound of the rushing of great waters, even the voice of Jehovah, saying:

    “I am the first and the last; I am he who liveth, I am he who was slain; I am your advocate with the Father” (D&C 110:3–4).

    Of Him the Prophet also declared: “And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives!

    “For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father—

    “That by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God” (D&C 76:22–24).

    We declare in words of solemnity that His priesthood and His Church have been restored upon the earth—“built upon the foundation of … apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone” (Ephesians 2:20).

    We testify that He will someday return to earth. “And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together” (Isaiah 40:5). He will rule as King of Kings and reign as Lord of Lords, and every knee shall bend and every tongue shall speak in worship before Him. Each of us will stand to be judged of Him according to our works and the desires of our hearts.

    We bear testimony, as His duly ordained Apostles—that Jesus is the Living Christ, the immortal Son of God. He is the great King Immanuel, who stands today on the right hand of His Father. He is the light, the life, and the hope of the world. His way is the path that leads to happiness in this life and eternal life in the world to come. God be thanked for the matchless gift of His divine Son.

  • http://patheos.com magpie

    I read about 50 of the comments and became very sad as some were negative on either side. I am glad we are talking but respect of each other is most important. No matter what you beleive, or what church you attend, it will be your works which define you to Christ as his–how you treat your fellow beings (and his earth). Christ would ask us to listen and study what all beleive, without twisting their words, and decide for yourself what rings true to you and then beleive with all your heart by doing good and being good–without degrading others. Love and chariety is the best religion–the only true religion of Christ. I am a Christian. I am a Mormon.

  • Dwight Rogers

    Mormons are not supposed to be Christian because we have some doctrinal differences with other Christian groups of today. The foundation for the beliefs of these other groups is the creeds of the 4th. 5th, and 6th centuries and so on. The bible is viewed through the lens of these creeds causing certain interpretations to be favored and other biblical teachings to be minimized or ignored. Interestingly, if you look at the doctrines of the early church fathers before the creeds, they are very Mormon-like. In a number of doctrinal areas the early Christians were good Mormons and would be rejected as non-Christian by many Christians of today. See where Jesus taught about man becoming gods (John 10:31-36). He quotes Psalms 82:6 which teaches the same thing. See where Paul taught it in 1 Corinthians 8: 5-6 where he says that there be gods many and lords many but only one of them is our god. He even mentions these gods being in Heaven so he was referring to true gods. See where Paul taught it in Romans 8:14-18. See where John taught it in Revelations 3:21. This is essentially the teaching of Jesus in John chapter 17 which he adds to his very clear statement in John chapter 10. The early church fathers, those early Bishops and Orthodox theologians in early Christianity, taught the same doctrine:

    Irenaeus says “If the Word became a man, It was so men may become gods.”(Irenaeus, Against Heresies, bk. 5, pref.)
    And again Irenaeus: “We were not made gods at our beginning, but first we were made men, then, in the end, gods.” (Ibid, also in (Bettenson, H., The Early Christian Fathers, [London: Oxford University Press, 1956,] p. 94.)

    Clement of Alexandria: “Yea, I say, the Word of God became a man so that you might learn from a man how to become a god.” (Clement of Alexandria, Exhortation to the Greeks, 1; Also in Clement of Alexandria, Protrepticus 1, (8,4), in Bettenson, The Early Christian Fathers, p. 244.)

    Justin Martyr: men are “thus deemed worthy of becoming gods and of having power to become sons of the highest.” (Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho, 124)

    Athanasius : “The Word was made flesh in order that we might be enabled to be made gods . Just as the Lord, putting on the body, became a man, so also we men are both deified through his flesh, and henceforth inherit everlasting life.” (Athanasius, Against the Arians, 1.39, 3.34.)

    St. Jerome, the Pope’s secretary explains Psalms 82:6 saying: “’ That we are gods is not so by nature, but by grace. ‘But to as many as receive him he gave power of becoming sons of god.’ I made man for that purpose, that from men they may become gods. ‘I said: Ye are gods, all of you sons of the Most High.’” (Jerome, The Homilies of Saint Jerome, Washington D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 1964 pp 106-107)

    Tertullilan quotes Psalms 82:6 and says: “…call to mind along with them the passage where it is written, ‘I have said, Ye are gods, and ye are children of the Most High;’ and again, ‘God standeth in the congregation of the gods:’ in order that, if the scripture has not been afraid to designate as gods human beings, who have become sons of God by faith , you may be sure that the same scripture has with greater propriety conferred the name of the Lord on the true and one-only Son of God.” (Tertullian, The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Grand Rapids Michigan: Wm.B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1885, vol. 3, p. 608)

    Origen: “Everything which…is deified by participation in his godhead, should strictly be called ‘God,’ not ‘the God.’…Since he…is therefore in every way more honored than others besides himself, who are ‘gods’ of whom God is the God, as it is said, ‘God the Lord of gods spoke and called the world.’ For it was through his ministry that they became gods, since he drew divinity from God for them to be deified, and of his kindness generously shared it with them. God, then, is the true God, and those who through him are fashioned into gods are copies of the prototype.”
    He went on to teach: “The Father, then, is proclaimed as the one true God; but besides the true God are many who become gods by participating in God.” (Tertullian, The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Grand Rapids Michigan: Wm.B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1885, vol. 3, p. 324)

    Agustine: “But he himself that justifies also deifies, for by justifying he makes sons of God. ‘For he has given them power to become the sons of God’ [John 1:12] If then we have been made sons of God, we have also been made gods.” (Augustine, On the Psalms, 50.2 Augustine insists that such individuals are gods by grace rather than by nature, but they are gods nevertheless.)

    There is some real factual and historic backing for the Mormon claim that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is original Christianity restored to the earth.

    Dwight

  • Charles Cherry

    Can one of you Mormon apologists tell me just when your god re-considered and no longer thought all of the Christian sects were an abomination to him?

    Because if he never changed his mind about that, why on earth do you want to be associated with all of these abominable Christian sects anyway?

  • Charles Cherry

    Oh, and one more thing. Does it really matter if Christians and Mormons differ on the Doctrine of the Trinity?

    It seems to me that you have to get past the whole “As god once was, so man shall be” thing…you know, the Mormon doctrine that says your “god” was once a mere human, just like all the men now living? And that good Mormon men can eventually become “gods” themselves?

    How does the Christian doctrine of the Trinity have any bearing whatsoever on this doctrine of men becoming gods and populating their own planets?

    • Dwight Rogers

      Hi Charles Cherry.

      I have a huge interest and respect for the early Christian fathers and what they went through. The transmission of scripture, doctrine, and tradition down through time and all the events that brought that about are fascinating to me.

      Most of us Mormons would like to talk about the things we have in common with other Christians including the things in the creeds that we can agree with. However, other Christian’s often have a habit of using the creeds to drive a wedge between themselves and Mormons and as a reason to claim that Mormons are not Christian (because we don’t believe everything in the creeds). Yet, through the centuries Christian doctrine has varied substantially and it has varied from group to group. If you must believe the creeds to be Christian than what do you do with all those Christians before the creeds? Were they not Christian? What do you do with all those Mormon-like beliefs of the early Christians? What do you do with Christ’s teaching in John 10:31-36 or Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians 8:5-6 and in Romans 8:14-18? Or John’s teaching in Revelations 3:21?

      It is really not historically or factually justified to claim that Mormons are not Christian.

      Regarding the question you ask about God being once a man, consider what Jesus taught:

      “Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.
      For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth: and he will shew him greater works than these, that ye may marvel.” (John 5:19-20)

      Jesus is God incarnate. This shows that God came to earth and took upon himself a physical body. He was resurrected with that body and will still have it when he comes again. Here,in this passage in John, Jesus tells us that he does nothing but what he has seen the Father do. Jesus knows this because the Father shows the Son “all things that himself doeth.” Since Jesus does nothing but what he has seen the Father do then This tells us what the Father has done before.

      Dwight

      • Charles Cherry

        I’m sorry, but I see Mormon attempts to be “Christians” as a thinly disguised ruse to infiltrate the true Body of Christ with heretical teaching and “doctrines of demons” (1 Tim 4:1).

        We do not lean solely on the creeds for validating the truth claims of various groups who have claimed the title of Christian, but upon the Scriptures. And the Scriptures plainly teach us that Mormonism is not Christian.

        “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.”
        (Galatians 1:8-9 ESV)

        Joseph Smith Jr., Brigham Young, and all other Mormon Apostles came preaching a different gospel. Their Jesus was (is) the brother of Lucifer, both of whom are sons of a former human. Paul’s Jesus the Eternal Son of God, Second Person of the Holy Trinity.

        If Mormons have a different Jesus, they (you) have a different gospel, and thus according to the Apostle Paul, not only are Mormons not Christians, they are anathema.

        Not only do Mormons have a different Jesus than historic, orthodox Christianity, they have a different God. We believe that there is only One God, eternally existing, uncreated, and transcendent.

        Joseph Smith taught that the Mormon god was a man who became a god.

        Joseph Smith said:

        “We have imagined and supposed that God was God from all eternity. I will refute that idea, and take away the veil, so that you may see. These are incomprehensible ideas to some, but they are simple. It is the first principle of the Gospel to know for a certainty the Character of God, and to know that we may converse with him as one man converses with another, and that he was once a man like us; yea, that God the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth, the same as Jesus Christ himself did, and I will show it from the Bible” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith).

        Joseph Smith claimed the humanity of God the Father as a “first principle.”

        You can’t get much further from historic Christianity than that.

        You can argue against the Trinity, as I am sure you do, but that only serves to show that you are outside the pale of orthodox Christianity. It puts you in same category as groups such as the Oneness Pentecostals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Christadelphians, etc., which are rightly known as cults.

  • http://dogames.ru/user/loargelry/ Waylon Spevak

    Nice read, I just passed this onto a colleague who was doing a little research on that. And he actually bought me lunch since I found it for him smile So let me rephrase that: Thanks for lunch!


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