Do You Agree With Scott Gordon?

ScottGordon

Recently Scott Gordon who is the President of FairMormon, one of the main Mormon Apologetics organizations was interviewed on a Christian Podcast called Issues Etc. You can find that particular episode here.

I am doing this post to invite Mormons who read this article to give that episode a listen, and let me know what you think. Gordon is asked a number of questions on the beliefs of Mormons, and many things he said particularly with regards to the LDS view on the nature and origin of God really surprised me. I will say from the start that I appreciate that Gordon does not speak officially for the LDS church so he is welcome to have his own view on these issues, however he does preside over what is probably the most well established and well known institution seeking to defend the truthfulness of the LDS Church, so you you would expect him to give some honest good answers, I feel that this is far from the case.

At around 21:00 Gordon says that he really does not know that the LDS Church teaches that God was once a man,  the interviewer quotes this  Joseph Smith in his King Follet sermon where he says this:

We have imagined and supposed that God was God from all eternity. I will refute that idea, and take away the veil, ……

The interviewer asks what does Joseph Smith mean if not, God was once  a man? Gordon says this:

“The answer is, we dont know, the reason we dont know is because he was killed shortly after that, since then much speculation has jumped up about that, you will get quotes from people that talk about similar kind of things.”…….”That gets into speculative theology because we really dont know.”

This is amazing to me, its almost history repeating itself if you remember a certain interview of past Mormon Prophet Gordon B Hinckley. Where in time magazine when asked about this same thing he said:

‘I don’t know that we teach it. I don’t know that we emphasize it … I understand the philosophical background behind it, but I don’t know a lot about it, and I don’t think others know a lot about it,’” 

It seems that to the outside world Mormons just back away from this, yet lets see what one of their own Official Church manuals: ‘Achieving a celestial marriage’ 1992, which I own a copy of says this at the top of page 4.

God was once a man who, by obedience, advanced to his present state of perfection; through obedience and celestial marriage we may progress to the point where we become like God.

2nd Mormon Prophet Brigham Young said:

“The doctrine that God was once a man and has progressed to become a God is unique to this Church. How do you feel, knowing that God, through His own experience, ‘knows all that we know regarding the toils [and] sufferings’ of mortality?” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, p. 34. Brackets in original).

And of course 5th Mormon Prophet Lorenzo Snow Said:

“As man is now, God once was; as God is now, man may be” (The Teach- ings of Lorenzo Snow, p. 2. Italics in original. See also The Life and Teachings of Jesus and His Apostles manual, 1979, p. 59)

This has been reinforced in this years LDS Teaching manual which this blog has been going through as well.

lorenzo-snow-manual_thumb.jpg

Chapter 5 says this:

“As man now is, God once was:
“As God now is, man may be.”1

Feeling that he had received “a sacred communication” that he should guard carefully, Lorenzo Snow did not teach the doctrine publicly until he knew that the Prophet Joseph Smith had taught it.2 Once he knew the doctrine was public knowledge, he testified of it frequently.

In addition to making this truth a theme for many of his sermons, he adopted it as the theme for his life. His son LeRoi said, “This revealed truth impressed Lorenzo Snow more than perhaps all else; it sank so deeply into his soul that it became the inspiration of his life and gave him his broad vision of his own great future and the mighty mission and work of the Church.”3 It was his “constant light and guide” and “a bright, illuminating star before him all the time—in his heart, in his soul, and all through him.”4

 

So it is simply amazing to me that Gordon backtracks from this so much, it seems that sometimes what is said in house is very different to what some Mormons want to tell the outside world. These are not abstract comments from nobodies in the LDS Church that I have quoted. Rather they are held as “Prophets” who the LDS Church teaches are those that speak for God today. Please give the interview a listen for yourself.

 

Also Bill Mckeever of Mormonism Research Ministry has been on this podcast since sharing his thoughts on Gordons comments, you can find that here. 

 

James White of Alpha and Omega Ministries has also spent two episodes of his podcast on this, please check those out below, they go into a lot more depth than I have here and are really worth the time.

November 22, 2013

November 26, 2013

I just cannot understand how someone in the position Scott Gordon is in can simply say “I dont know” in light of the absolute wealth of information from the LDS Church on this issue. Many of the answers he gives in this interview are very light and do not seem to reflect what Mormon Authorities have said. I appreciate there will be many LDS people who will very much disagree with what Scott Gordon said on this interview and some will agree, which one are you?

27 thoughts on “Do You Agree With Scott Gordon?”

  1. I think you are misstating the Mormon insight provided by JS. If there is a God (or god-like beings), then the speculation is that God the Father was once a mortal creature or man like Jesus Christ was on our world (a Savior of his species). I believe this is the source of the statements that “we don’t know”. The mistake leaders of the Church have made (and repeated as you’ve noted) is stating that God the Father was once human (an anthropomorphization). I think that is highly unlikely given that life that may have evolved on another world would not likely look like or be like us. However, they would have at one time been mortal creatures and intelligent and would have shared those attributes with us. They just weren’t human beings.

    Like

      1. And those statements “As man now is” etc etc is a logical outcome of what I stated. Think about it this way. If God the Father evolved on another world and his species was as primitive as we are now, but has since advanced enough to visit other worlds (including ours) and interact with our species; then we too are fully capable of becoming like and advancing like God has. God has attributes that most people superstitiously dismiss, but they are misapprehensions of what the reality may be. If such beings do exist (and these records we have called the scriptures have a basis in fact), then we should be fully capable of doing and achieving the same things – such as visiting other worlds, to study and interact with the life there, and even become immortal and not subject to disease and death too.

        It is my view those that criticize Mormonism just don’t understand what they are talking about because of the archaic and often superstitious language used. When you update the language and concepts, it is not that far fetched.

        Like

      2. If you compare it to the Bible which I am, its a million miles off Psalm 90:2 says from everlasting to everlasting you are God. Joseph Smith said hey forget all that stuff, let me tell you about God.

        That simply does not work for me, whether you think God was once a mortal human man or something else makes no difference, simply stating that He is there by promotion, rather than by necessity of His own being as being God, is where my problem lies.

        We see in Philippians 1:21 that the heart of Paul was to be with Christ for eternity, why was He not looking forward to His eternal family?

        Like

  2. That God was once a man and so has a body of flesh and bone was THE first thing ever taught to me by LDS Missionaries and was emphasised throughout my time in the LDS.
    This particular doctrine has become to the LDS as the “Xenu” story has become to the Scientology church, something accepted within the church but denied outside of it., because unless you are already brainwashed enough to accept any old tripe, it just seems too blooming ridiculous to be accepted by the casual researcher or truth seeker.

    Like

  3. Bobby,

    I’m not here to debate you about your views of the Bible and contrast that with Mormonism. I’m rather uninterested in that because I view the Bible as a text written by rather superstitious and primitive man, who attempted to comprehend these advanced beings and what they were trying to say to them. And the same can be said of Mormon literature as well.

    Instead, my goal was simply to explain these concepts in an up-to-date language so you (and your readers) would appreciate what they essentially are. My own view being that these claims in Mormonism are in fact very plausible in the universe as we understand it today.

    Like

    1. Ok thats fine, bear in mind then that your “views” are no more official than mine, so therefore have no weight and no basis while of course they are interesting.

      I would also say they are far from plausible, but then again if you come at this from your worldview then I guess they will seem so, that can of course also apply to many of us.

      Like

      1. Hi Tobin Drake, Yes, there are several accounts of the First Vision, but as to Joseph claiming that God the Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as mans and is an exalted man seems to be awfully well accepted regardless of the different accounts of the First Vision…that is irrelevant. Please ask 10 LDS Bishops if the LDS church teaches that Heavenly Father is an exalted man like you and me, but just exalted…feel free to call me at (801) 645-7433 Your friend, Russ http://www.upfc.org

        Like

  4. Hey Bobby,

    Here is my view. Scott was right about the KFD. It was a talk given at a funeral not long before he was murdered. What doctrine was taught? WE ARE NOT SURE. Was he talking about how Christ is God? Was he talking about how we can become a god? Remember in the Old testament is says “we are gods,” Psalms 82. The Savior even quoted this passage. What was Joseph Smith trying to say at this funeral service? We are not sure. Is this a key LDS teaching? Is it required to be a member in good standing? The answer to both questions is no.

    What about the Lorenzo Snow couplet? The second part is standard and average Christian theology. We can become joint heirs with Christ if we…Rom. 8:17.
    The first part of the couple is like Scott said, we don’t know. What happened before Genesis 1:1? We don’t know. What did God do before He created this world? Again, we don’t know. Was God a man on another world just like us in eternity past and grew by faithfulness to become OUR God? I know some members who believe that teaching just the way I explained it. I also know others who say, “let’s let God be who He is and not put Him in the box of our limited understanding.” I would be part of the second group.

    -Ned

    Like

    1. Now then Ned

      You know as well as I do that Romans 8:17 may be average Christian theology, but the LDS take on it is a million miles away, (we both feel a future episode coming on at this point haha).
      Psalm 82 again if you read the full thing is talking to men, hence they are told at the end of it that they will die like men.

      So if we dont know so much with regards to the first half of the couplet how do you explain the church teachings I have presented? Why is there an official LDS manual saying that God became God by obeying laws? It amazes me that on one hand we have the apologetics community backtracking from this, but so, so many LDS members almost standing with the evangelical anti-Mormons saying dont you read the manuals? Dont you listen to our prophets? As I know many LDS people are saying to Gordons interview, and I think they very much have a point.

      thanks

      Like

  5. There is a great deal here to listen to and will do so but wanted or rather had to leave a comment first.

    I was looking forward to the interview President Hinkley gave on Larry King where he essentially denied the doctrine of God progressing from a man to his current status. I felt some bewilderment and surprise at his response. I have never forgotten it. Neither will I forget teaching that doctrine in Elders’ Quorum shortly afterwards.

    The main doctrine of Mormonism is that we, if we repent and live right will go to the Celestial Kingdom and will become like God, creating new worlds for our heavenly offspring just as God has been doing for some time.

    Any attempt to deny Mormonism does not hold to the idea of eternal progression now or at any time, progression for ourselves and for God is not honest.

    Like

  6. For the record, I agree with Scott Gordon. A stray comment by an LDS leader (usually many decades ago, if not more), or a stray sentence in an obscure LDS publication, does not constitute an institutionalized doctrine. The most recent and unambiguous comments on this issue from an LDS leader are those of Pres. Hinckley in the Larry King interview. That probably represents the closest thing to the position of today’s LDS church. I know it rubs you EVs the wrong way, but we believe in a dynamic, changing church who “sees through a glass darkly”. The Lord gives us the tiniest peek behind the curtain of heaven, and in the process of answering monumental questions (i.e., what is God like?) it leaves us with more questions than we started with.

    You will hardly find an LDS who will outright claim that it is *impossible* that God the Father was once a mortal man. Most LDS (myself included) see it as likely. What we are unlikely to do, however, is to commit to anything more than that. We don’t know what that entails. We don’t know what this hypothetical mortality would have been like. Was he a sinner? Was he perfect?

    See this post for a breakdown of the major lines of thought in LDS thinking on this issue: http://lehislibrary.wordpress.com/2010/08/31/lds-views-of-gods-past/

    Like

    1. Thanks for that James

      So has the nature of God changed, was He once a man and now He is not? Or were those manuals and tachings from your manuals and Prophets and Apostles simply wrong?
      I think it is unbelievable to refer to these things as stray sentences, you will likely know I have barely scratched the surface of LDS material on this.

      Also how do you get to decide that Hinckley was speaking as a Prophet in the interviews? Surely manuals and general conferences are a much more authoritative place to go?

      You of course are well aware of the difference in mindsets between us here, and thats ok, for this discussion I am almost stepping back from the whole is Mormonism true debate and trying to understand how in a movement that talks so much about the significance of God speaking today, you can sidestep years and years of teachings and appeal to one interview where Hinckley was very far from clear, as your basis for what you believe about God, that I will be honest is unbelievable to me and strikes me more of a get out opportunity for a teaching that those in the Apologetics community know is an utterly false teaching from their leaders, but then how do you know when to trust them?

      I have seen it said on other discussions that Hinckley was merely not casting his pearls before swine in those interviews, didnt he say in the following general conference that despite some doubts he was well aware of what the church taught?

      I appreciate it will not be a usual podcast you will listen to but please give the first James white podcast I referenced a listen, he talks about an increasing divide between those that take Mormon leaders literally and those that dont, this is probably the best evidence of that, that I have seen.

      thanks for commenting James, love ya and hope we can have some more dialogue on this.

      Like

      1. Hey James I really would appreciate a response on this, I dont feel I was in anyway contentious.

        Simply put, how have you come to the belief that Hinckley was speaking as a Prophet on that interview? But on the other hand not believe the other materials I showed you from LDS sources were not spoken with that authority?

        Like

  7. I found the Bill McKeever discussion much more descriptive of the Mormonism I know.

    The FAIR description is not the Mormonism I know. The various positions also don’t describe anything but a confused church. I think the FAIR position represented by Scott Gordon does more harm to the church than good. I am not sure who Scott’s audience is.

    Here in NZ the latest 2013 census reports only 36% of the number of members the church claims to have here. Also, thise who identify as Mormon is a few thisand less than 2006. If the FAIR position is to win back or keep people from leaving, I don’t see how it is helping.

    What is clear is that Scott poses a challenge to his own church. The challenge he raises is to the priesthood leadership and whether the church is lead by a prophet who speaks with, for and on behalf of God. Gordon argues that with the death of Joseph Smith the connection with God was lost. Prophets could only speculate and not receive any answers to the questions discussed. While he was busy painting himself into that corner he conveniently forgot to mention that what he disputes as an unknown and not taught was clearly described by many and taught in the current series of official lesson manuals. I suggest that Gordon apologise showing himself to be a true apologist.

    Like

  8. Like any religious movement, there are different streams of thought and practice within Mormonism. In “Mormon Christianity,” Catholic scholar Stephen Webb identified two of them, one he labeled an “evangelical Mormonism” identified with Bob Millet, and another he labeled “metaphysical Mormonism” identified with David Paulsen. Rather than assuming dishonesty, perhaps we can consider the possibility that Scott is honest and exercising good will, and that he represents a stream closer to Bob Millet’s thought. It is not uncommon for certain expressions of a religious tradition to be at odds with more “official” and institutional forms of that religion. Perhaps too Evangelicals should not force church members into accepting what we understand as official teaching. Shouldn’t we encourage a shift away from aspects of Mormon metaphysics which we find troubling?

    Like

    1. Thanks for that John.

      Rest assured I am not trying to convince these guys to take these unbiblical views on. Also if this was a discussion with say, a Mormon Missionary and they gave a flimsy answer I could live with that as they are young and do not know much. However for the president of the longest standing organization defending Mormonism (I think it is) to say that this is merely speculative theology without acknowledging. the other side of the issue is, I feel very dishonest.

      Joseph Smith said

      These ideas are incomprehensible 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 himself, the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth, the same as Jesus Christ Himself did; and I will show it from the Bible.

      Lorenzo Snow as reinstated in this years manual gave the couplet we all know very well.

      Yet Scott Gordon said that the key message of Mormonism is God speaks today. My question to the Apologists is how do these go together? How does God speak today through Prophets yet we can ignore Prophets teachings that are clearly and boldly stated, many Mormons are with me on that question.

      Still standing by.

      Like

      1. Hi, Bobby. I enjoyed our exchanges on Facebook yesterday. Thanks for responding to my comments. I think there might be a misunderstanding. I don’t deny that Joseph Smith taught various things about the nature of God and man, including divine embodiment, divine progression to godhood, and that human beings can also experience this exaltation. I also disagree with such teachings. Simply because I advocate a more diverse and complex understanding of Mormonism, and that we should engage them in civility as trusted rivals rather than enemies, does not mean I don’t disagree with them, or that I don’t share the gospel with them. Having said that, of course if there is dishonesty we should raise that as a concern. If we can prove it. In my praxis I assume honesty and presume good will until proven otherwise. But beyond that, it just may be that there are differences of thought within Mormonism, and some Mormons lean more Evangelical and distance themselves from official teachings on God. In order to understand Mormonism in all its complexity and diversity (other religions exhibit this same thing) Evangelicals should be willing to acknowledge this, and not always force Mormons to address official teachings that they may not have a complete grasp of (just as many Evangelicals fail to articulate a sophisticated Evangelical theology) or completely agree with. I think we have to meet Mormons where they are, and not constantly try to bring them to where we think they should be in regards to their stance on official teachings. Isn’t the gospel framed for each of us as individuals as well as broader religious cultures?

        Finally, we might remember that Mormons have strong connections to their concept of God. For them, the immaterial God of Christianity seems less than real and personal. In addition. when we critique their God concept they feel attacked in their identity. This doesn’t mean that we should hold back on sharing our perspectives, but instead that we need to exercise empathy when we engage such topics.

        Like

      2. All understood john, you are obviously aware that we have differences of opinion on some things and I guess this is another, however I appreciate your comments and take them on board.

        Obviously no Mormons are being denied of their right to believe anything that they want by my blog post, I am just asking a question that I feel needs asking, thanks

        Like

      3. In all seriousness this is an area I am simply trying to understand, Ned if you are reading this I would love to hear an episode from you on this subject and I would be happy to participate in it if you would like.

        Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s