General Conference, April 2014 – Saturday Morning

General Conference imageThis session was presided over by Thomas S Monson and conducted by Dieter Uchtdorf, affectionately dubbed ‘the silver fox’ by some, and second counsellor in the first presidency. Boyd K Packer of the twelve apostles is, not so affectionately, nicknamed ‘Darth Packer’ and ‘Boyd KKK Packer,’ by critics both inside and outside the church for his unreconstructed Mormon outlook. I point this out only to say the two men represent for many the passing of the ‘old guard’ (Packer) and the coming of a softer, more acceptable face of Mormonism (Uchtdorf). Yet it might be said of Mormonism, the more things change, the more they remain the same.

In a world where many are struggling to define themselves, to identify which “tribe” they belong to, where Western Europeans (my perspective) are asking whether theirs is a local, regional, national or European identity, Mormons see themselves as a people group with clear distinctives of which they are unashamed. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir sang beautifully looking splendid in their matching outfits, plum coloured two piece for the women, conservative suits, white shirts, and ties for the men, and all obviously enjoying themselves.

This uniformity extends to all true-believing-Mormon attendees, as you will see from the pictures in the May Ensign magazine; it struck me as a key theme in the conference. There is apparent change, i.e. from Packer to Uchtdorf, yet there is also obvious uniformity. At a time when even Mormons are asking themselves who exactly is making doctrine for the church these days, the General Authorities or church lawyers and members of the BYU faculty, conference is where Mormons get reassuring answers. This where the Mormon world, troubled by a clear shift in the tectonic plates of their faith, find apparent continuity, a squaring of the circle, a reconciling of the old (Packer) with the new (Uchtdorf).

This uniformity, which Mormons mistake for unity, sometimes works, as in the case of Linda S Reeve, president of the Relief Society, who gave an impassioned and earnest plea for people to face up to the problem of pornography. I found myself nodding enthusiastically as she spoke reason and faith on a subject that should concern us all, and I noted how comfortable Mormons would have been with a female leader that fitted the mould of generations of Relief Society presidents.

On the other hand, Carlos Amado, originally from Guatemala City, and of the first quorum of the seventy, appeared to struggle not so much with speaking English, which he handled well enough as a second language, as with the peculiar idiom of Mormon leadership. I don’t write this to in any way denigrate the man but I considered, if he came and spoke in my church we would not expect such a performance from him and he would have been encouraged to be his native self and share his message in his own words.

He had to wrestle with the Jacobean English in the King James Bible that Mormons insist on using, but he further struggled to sound like a General Authority, mimicking tones and inflections, phrases and terminology clearly designed to give the impression of solemnity and reverence, nevertheless language that has no place in the modern world and that would trip up anyone using English as a second language. But that image of unity and continuity was achieved as he met the demands of being a General Authority, speaking Mormonese to the conference.

President Monson came out with the expected anecdote to illustrate his theme, “Live true to the Faith.” This is a Mormon trope designed to reassure people that what they are about to hear is consistent with the faith of their fathers. It is a package, and the whole package must be embraced, from Henry B Eyring (crying Eyring) and his typically tearful account of his forebears and the importance of genealogy, to Jeffrey R Holland’s call to “suffer the shame of the world,” for the Mormon faith.

So lets tick some boxes and see what Mormonism teaches because the Mormon Church has apparently shifted its position on many issues in recent times:

Added Upon

It was Henry B Eyring who, speaking of covenants, reminded listeners that blessings are predicated upon their keeping those covenants. He spoke of our having had a life before this one with God in a pre-mortal state, which Mormons call the first estate, and as literal children of God. We are, according to Mormonism, the same species as God, gods in embryo and, as Mormonism has always taught, God is an exalted man. It is on this very site that a Mormon insisted that this is but a speculation about God’s nature. In this conference we can lay speculation aside and identify Mormon ‘truth.’

Here on earth we are in our second estate, Eyring insists, and we got here by being obedient in our first estate. Our eternal destiny is dependent on our continuing to keep covenants, from baptism to temple, till death.

President Eyring quotes the Mormon Book of Abraham:

And they who keep their first estate shall be added upon; and they who keep not their first estate shall not have glory in the same kingdom with those who keep their first estate; and they who keep their second estate shall have glory added upon their heads for ever and ever.” (Abraham 3:26)

The Mormon ‘scripture’ declares:

There is a law irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundation of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated-

And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.(Doctrine and Covenants 130:20-21)

God’s ‘Plan of Happiness’

It was Neil L Anderson who, speaking of building a foundation on Christ, came up with the statement that has all the Mormon world buzzing. After much effort in the recent past to reach out to the gay community, he states clearly that civil law cannot change moral law – something with which we would agree – and that marriage is between one man and one woman – something else with which we would agree, although I question whether Joseph Smith and Brigham Young would.

His reason for insisting on this male/female partnership is the fulfilment of God’s great plan of happiness, the creator’s plan for his children to go through this testing second estate and prove worthy. You don’t hear so much these days about the ‘duty’ of having children to bring people from the spirit world (the first estate) to this (the second estate), with even Mormons being given licence to limit their family size, yet this is what is in view here. So we have a pre-mortal existence where we are literally spirit children of God, and a testing ground (this world) in which we prove ourselves fit and worthy to go on to receive glory for eternity.

Gethsemane

It was the aforementioned Carlos Amado who spoke movingly of Jesus going “to face his most demanding trial, in the Garden of Gethsemane, in all the loneliness he suffered the most intense agony, bleeding from every pore, in total submission to his Father he atoned for our sins…”

But it was in Gethsemane that Jesus, comforted by an angel, prepared for his most demanding trial on the cross. Remarkably, Mormons don’t lay great store by the cross of Christ. In a special broadcast in 2001 entitled Special Witnesses of Christ, in which Mormon ‘apostles and prophets’ testify to their faith, the cross is absent as the story leaps from the Garden to the tomb. You can read about this peculiar treatment of a key Christian and biblical doctrine on The Mormon Chapbook Nevertheless, the atonement achieves for everyone a general resurrection, which Mormons call ‘salvation,’ but what Christians call eternal life Mormons achieve by obedience not faith.

Carlos Amado goes on to describe Christ as spending three days setting up missionary work among the dead so that those who did not hear the Mormon ‘gospel’ in this life might have a chance to hear and accept it there. This raises, of course, the question of original sin and whether we are saved by the grace of God from a just but terrible punishment, or saved by hearing and having the sense to accept a message.

This is an issue with which some Christians struggle but lets be clear, we are not in a neutral place, innocents, until we accept or reject the Christian message, we are sinners bound for condemnation unless someone steps in and, by his grace, saves us. It is that saving that is the message, not some system of eternal attainment. Faith in Mormonism appears to be, not the Christian settled trust in the finished work of Christ on the cross, but a determined conviction that these Mormon teachings are true and should be acted upon in order to obtain blessing and glory.

Temples

There are now apparently 142 operating Mormon temples across the world we are informed. When all planned temples are completed that number will rise to 170. President Monson insists that Mormons are a temple-building people. Later it is Neil L Anderson who reminds us that it is in these “holy places” faithful Mormons are to stand and he celebrates the proliferation of temples since his youth. “The Lord has given this generation greater access to temples than any generation in the history of the world.” Both men overlook the fact that, in the history of the Bible, the only temple-building people of the sort described are the builders of the ziggurats on the plains of ancient Mesopotamia, out of which Abraham was called.

Prophets

Finally, we are reminded by Jeffrey R Holland that Mormons have prophets to guide and inspire. Referring to the spirit of this age he speaks of prophets that say pleasing things, that “not only don’t rock the boat, they don’t even row the boat,” the irony of which obviously escaped him. Mormon prophets these days appear to have a great deal of time on their hands – perhaps to open temples and shopping malls – as BYU and amateur Mormon apologists do most of the doctrinal heavy lifting.

Nevertheless, Mormons attend and/or listen to conference twice a year to gain the reassurance that, despite the fact their prophets don’t actually prophecy any more (don’t rock or row the boat), nevertheless they have prophets; that despite more recent public prevarication on the issue they can look forward to godhood as did their forebears; that regardless of more recent obfuscation on the subject they are of the same species as God, and God is an exalted man; that they have already proved ‘worthy’ as evidenced by their presence in this ‘second estate’; that by their obedience they can be entitled to blessings; that they can attain an eternity with God, not because of God’s undeserved grace, but because they have passed the test set for them by the one who was their literal father in the first place.

Grace

In all this, of course, one wonders what room there is for the grace of God. What significance has the sacrifice of Christ in a system where he conquers death without conquering for us the sin that brought death into the world. Where the problem is not our slavery to sin but the prospect of a test.

The Mormon answer is, once again, the squaring of a circle. In Mormon thought “We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, we are saved by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel” (third Article of Faith)

What is the point of the atonement if we are “saved by [our own] obedience?”

Mike Thomas was a Mormon for 14 years, became a Christian in 1986 and for many years worked with Reachout Trust speaking and writing about Mormonism. He still researches Mormonism and occasionally posts his thoughts on Mormon issues at The Mormon Chapbook

27 thoughts on “General Conference, April 2014 – Saturday Morning”

  1. Sir,

    It is my understanding that the Authorised Version (AV) – known by Americans as The King James Version – was written in ELIZABETHAN English; and not Jacobean as the report states.

    Should Carlos Amado have used the NIV? The letters NIV standing for: ‘The Nearly Inspired Version!

    I am not a member of the LDS Church. However, I wonder where all the Mormons would go to (which church each one would choose): for there are churches/sects/denominations that claim to be the TRUE Church – the Church of Rome is the foremost.

    Furthermore, which Doctrines/Teachings are the correct ones?

    I have concluded that the Church is the largest disfunctional family that has ever existed.

    Hopefully I may get a reply. However, I am not holding my breath!

    Sandy Forsyth

    Date: Mon, 7 Apr 2014 21:15:15 +0000 To: afor56@hotmail.com

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    1. Sandy,

      I am sorry your faith in human nature is so low that you even doubt anyone will take your seriously enough to reply to your comment. It is a bad place to be and I hope things look up for you in the near future.

      Lets start with the idea of dysfunctionality.I see where you are coming from but suggest the problem is even greater. The largest dysfunctional family that has ever existed is the human race. No wonder, then, that the church faithfully reflects that dysfunctionality among its members since they are drawn from humanity itself. Two things stand out about the church that might be worth considering in this respect.

      1. The difficulties of the church seem greater because they reflect the fact that the church is a particular refuge for people who want to flee the this dysfunctional world and all its problems and they find refuge in the church. It is the church that a) is prepared to have them when often no one else will and b) offers any real hope for change.

      2. The lives of countless Christians bear testimony to the fact that those who are seeking something better find real hope and consolation in the church, something usually overlooked in the rush to judge an imperfect church.

      I acknowledge that the church is not perfect but then it is made up of people and people are not perfect. Indeed, the old adage stands, that if you find a perfect church don’t join it because you will only spoil it. With respect Sandy, this is true of you as much as it is true of me.

      Regarding Bible translations, the King James Bible – well there you have it, the clue is in the name. It was translated during the reign and at the behest of James I and, therefore, is Jacobean. It is also Elizabethan inasmuch as it is broadly the product of the Elizabethan era, but I like to recognise the fact that it is, as you rightly say, the King James Bible.

      The history of Bible translation, particularly into English, shows a motive to have God’s word available in the ‘common tongue’ but the KJV translators also had an eye to achieving a copy that was resonant and dignified in public reading – “appointed to be read in churches” literally refers to the public reading of Scripture. This being the case, they used an idiom that was already archaic. This, along with 400 years of archaeological and scholarly research, gives us sound reason for more modern translations. The NIV, as I am sure you know, is the New International Version and has proved the most popular modern translation.

      As to the “true church” I can only give you my own considered view on the subject. The best definition I have ever heard is “the people of God, gathered around the word of God, ready to do the will of God.” This makes the church all faithful saints, or followers of the Way, in all ages, living or dead, past present and future who look to Jesus and trust his promises found in the Bible. This is not, as your note suggests, a position arrived at by chance, or default but by reason, thought and careful investigation. If you think you see otherwise I would draw your attention to Jesus’ parable of the wheat and the weeds and suggest sometimes we think we are looking at Christians when we are actually looking at darnel, a member of the rye grass family and not wheat at all (Lolium temulentum, typically known as darnel, poison darnel or cockle, is an annual plant that forms part of the Poaceae family and part of the Lolium genus.) The parable stands strong as a picture of God’s church.

      You can breath again now Sandy, since I have replied and I look forward to your further comments.

      Blessings

      Mike

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  2. Mike, I was glad to see that Bobby Gilpin didn’t write this! I’ve come to appreciate his more balanced and mutually respectful approach. It reflects his genuine faith in Christ. We’ve been able to engage in a dialogue that has been informative, thought promoting and inspiring. Unfortunately, your style uses ridicule, contempt and misinformation, It’s difficult to even acknowledge.

    I would invite anyone who wants to know for themselves the messages shared at General Conference to experience it for themselves at https://www.lds.org/general-conference?lang=eng.

    Keep some tissue nearby when you listen to the Choir. As non-professionals, they have truly mastered the ability to harmonize their individual voices into one resounding matchless voice of faith and inspiration. Enjoy!

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    1. Michael,

      I understand that you like Bobby’s style, I appreciate it myself. My own approach is different and comes from a different perspective.but I consider I have something to say and it is a pity that you lay down such strict (convenient?) criteria before you will engage, i.e. I have to like you (on this I am agnostic) and consider your faith position of equal worth with my own. If that were the case we would hardly be having this conversation.

      You give the impression that I had nothing positive to say about the session but the contrary is true. I complimented the choir, even going to the trouble of asking my wife what colour she thought the women were wearing so as not to commit some fashion faux pas. I was genuinely moved and encouraged by the words of Linda Reeve and feel I made it clear I share her concerns. I agreed wholeheartedly with Neil Anderson’s biblical assertion that marriage is between one man and one woman, and I made sure it was understood that I meant no derogation when I spoke of your Guatemalan GA, Carlos Amado’s apparent struggle with the Mormonese the rest of us find so quaint..

      It should come as no surprise to you that, all this notwithstanding, criticism should come since this blog is dedicated to close examination of and, where necessary, exposure of Mormonism and its inconsistencies and errors. But allow me to explain something to you about respect.

      First, respect is earned and, while I might respect individual Mormons I know, Mormonism has done nothing to earn my respect. How can I respect a religion that insists on respect before it is earned? That insists you only look at the bits of the religion they want you to look at and be impressed, and expect you to turn a blind eye to those bits they would rather you didn’t see, swallowing the lie that it doesn’t matter?

      Secondly, whatever you think about the way the piece was written it, nevertheless, makes substantial and serious points that you fail to address, hiding behind “you didn’t respect me” as an excuse. On this blog it has been said that God’s being an exalted man is “mere speculation,” yet Henry B Eyring made it very clear that this Mormon dogma stands and that we are the same species. Mormon prophets fail to prophesy, even in the widest sense of the term, yet Mormons meet biannually to “listen to a prophet’s voice.” What they get is just more encouragement to “keep the faith,” yet even Mormons are asking what exactly does that faith look like nowadays and who exactly defines it? FAIR? BYU? FARMS? The Mormon down the road?

      We were invited last weekend to listen to prophets, the implication being that there is now no more room for speculation, no “private interpretation.” Yet, once that prophet says something compromising we are not to look to him but to someone like you who stands ready to correct the prophet. Correct the prophet? And this is the prophet you want us to trust? One who is corrected from the pew? Hence my points about Boyd Packer and Dieter Uchtdorf.

      To quote Hamlet, “I am only mad north-north-west, but when the wind is in the south, I know a hawk from a handsaw.”

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  3. Mike, I do like your first name 🙂
    It was the introductory KKK comparison that started this piece in the wrong direction for me – too over the top to take seriously – at least for a yankee familiar with US History and the KKK’s involvement!
    Here’s the text of the talk you referenced from President Eyring: https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2014/04/a-priceless-heritage-of-hope?lang=eng .

    Where does he talk about the origin of God or that God is an exalted man?

    I’m glad you agreed with Elder Andersen (with an “e”).
    In the October 2012 Conference, Elder Andersen answered many of your other questions with this quote, “There is an important principle that governs the doctrine of the Church. The doctrine is taught by all 15 members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve. It is not hidden in an obscure paragraph of one talk. True principles are taught frequently and by many. Our doctrine is not difficult to find.The leaders of the Church are honest but imperfect men. Remember the words of Moroni: “Condemn me not because of mine imperfection, neither my father … ; but rather give thanks unto God that he hath made manifest unto you our imperfections, that ye may learn to be more wise than we have been.”

    Food for thought: Why do think our mothers named us “Michael”? (derived from the question “Who is like God?” (literally, “Who is like El?). In English, it is sometimes shortened to Mike, Mikey, Mickey, or Mick.)

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    1. Michael,

      The question I ask regards my name is why, since I and my siblings were born Welsh, did we all get English names? Regarding what Ted calls “name-calling,” it was not name-calling but reportage included to make a valid point regarding the significant changes behind the façade of continuity presented at conference. Generational differences in both leadership and laity in Mormonism don’t get talked about much by Mormons so it is up to others to point these things out and in a way that makes the point stick. I am fully cognisant of the historical significance of the letters KKK, otherwise how would I be able to understand my own point? But remember that even among Mormons he has that sort of reputation.

      “Who is like God?” A good question and one I would ask Mormons. You insist that Henry Eyring didn’t say that God is an exalted man but, in fact, that is exactly what he said by reiterating and affirming the whole doctrine behind this dogma. You should know I used to teach this stuff and it is very familiar to me.

      Consider, he said we all had a pre-mortal existence, which he called our first estate. What were we in that place? Children of God, literal children of God. Not creatures made to be like God, as the Bible teaches, but his literal offspring. If he is a God then we are of the same species, gods in embryo. How do we come to be like him in eternity? By following the plan of salvation, God’s great plan of happiness.

      Having passed the test of that first estate we are now in our second estate, a place where we are further tested to see if we will walk by faith, and where we gain a physical body in order to be like God. If your progress through this estate is what brings you closer to being like God then God must have a physical body too and, according to Mormon doctrine, he does. Thus, he is an exalted man. Joseph Smith taught this very clearly and the “estates” account given last weekend is built upon the idea. Take away the concept of God as an exalted man and you destroy the whole Mormon concept of progression from one sphere to another. Here is Smith:

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

      In order to understand the subject of the dead, for consolation of those who mourn for the loss of their friends, it is necessary we should understand the character and being of God and how He came to be so; for I am going to tell you how God came to be God. 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.” (King Follett Discourse)

      Parley P Pratt declared, “The Gods who dwell in the heaven above have been redeemed from the grave in a world which existed before the foundations of this earth were laid. They and the heavenly body which they now inhabit were once in a fallen state…they were exalted also, from fallen men to Celestial Gods to inhabit their heaven for ever and ever.” (The Seer, January 1853)

      The Encyclopedia of Mormonism explains:

      “Latter-day Saints believe that God achieved his exalted rank by progressing much as man must progress and that God is a perfected and exalted man: “God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens! That is the great secret. If the veil were rent today, and the great God who holds this world in its orbit, and who upholds all worlds and all things by his power, was to make himself visible,-I say, if you were to see him today, you would see him like a man in form-like yourselves in all the person, image, and very form as a man; for Adam was created in the very fashion, image and likeness of God, and received instruction from, and walked, talked and conversed with him, as one man talks and communes with another” (TPJS, p. 345).

      Much of the LDS concept of godhood is expressed in a frequently cited aphorism written in 1840 by Lorenzo Snow, fifth President of the Church. At the time, Snow was twenty-six years old, having been baptized four years earlier. He recorded in his journal that he attended a meeting in which Elder H. G. Sherwood explained the parable of the Savior regarding the husbandman who hired servants and sent them forth at different hours of the day to labor for him in his vineyard. Snow continued, as recorded in his sister’s biography of him: “The Spirit of the Lord rested mightily upon me-the eyes of my understanding were opened, and I saw as clear as the sun at noonday, with wonder and astonishment, the pathway of God and man. I formed the following couplet which expresses the revelation, as it was shown me…. As man now is, God once was: As God now is, man may be” (Eliza R. Snow, p. 46).”

      God is an exalted man according to Mormonism and president Eyring affirmed the fact as recently as last weekend.

      Sorry, I didn’t mean to include so much but something to think about as we consider, who is like God indeed?

      Blessings

      Mike

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  4. Mike,
    There is nowhere in President Eyring’s talk where he speaks of the origin of God or speaks of God as an exalted man. His main topic is living a legacy of hope through Christ and how that can bless our children and their children’s lives. Within that topic, he begins in our pre-mortal existence with the creation of the world and then on to Adam and Eve, emphasizing the role of covenant making and keeping in living the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And then he talks about the challenges of parents with children who make contrary choices. To them he says, “We can depend on that unfailing desire of the Savior to bring all of Heavenly Father’s spirit children back to their home with Him. Every faithful parent, grandparent, and great-grandparent shares in that desire. Heavenly Father and the Savior are our perfect examples of what we can and must do. They never force righteousness because righteousness must be chosen. They make righteousness discernible to us, and They let us see that its fruits are delicious”

    With regards to the origin of God: In 1997.President Hinckley was asked specifically asked about the idea of God being an exalted man and this was his response, “I don’t know that we teach it. I don’t know that we emphasize it. I haven’t heard it discussed for a long time in public discourse. I don’t know. I don’t know all the circumstances under which that statement was made. I understand the philosophical background behind it. But I don’t know a lot about it and I don’t know that others know a lot about it.”

    I have previously referred to the overall lack of historical consensus on the subject of the origin of God after the 1840′s. An Example of this is the First Presidency in 1911 purposely excluded the King Follet Discourse (Sermon) from circulation, stating this, “When the sermon was first published it did not receive the revision or sanction of the Prophet Joseph, who preached it, and it was reported from the impressions obtained by four different persons who heard it, neither of whom was a shorthand writer. There are some points in the sermon which appear to be in direct conflict with revelations accepted by the Church as divine.”,

    Combined, these have led me to maintain God’s origin in the category of well meaning speculation. What is actively taught Mormon doctrine is that we are children of God and hold within us the potential of Godliness and becoming heirs and joint heirs with Christ just as Christ and His apostles taught.

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    1. Michael,

      Just stop for a moment and consider what you have just shared. You have quoted a Mormon prophet – Gordon B Hinckley – who insists he has no understanding of this key doctrine of the Mormon Church. In five short sentences he uses the words ‘I don’t know’ six times!

      This, I suggest, underlines another point I made in my article, i.e. Mormon prophets don’t prophesy, indeed, they don’t appear to know or understand the doctrinal provenance of their own religion. Further, while Eyring has clearly declared orthodox the whole panoply of doctrine that upholds the God-as-an-exalted-man dogma, you want me to take my lead, not from a Mormon prophet, but from you. With the greatest of respect Michael, why should I listen to you when the prophets to whom you point cannot be depended upon to know doctrine, or even to agree among themselves? If I were sitting in your seat now I would be concerned.

      Lest you find this dismissal offensive let me qualify it by saying that I taught Mormon doctrine for many years in the seventies and eighties as a Mormon. As recently as that time this was an unequivocally accepted teaching of the Mormon Church. This means that Mormon prophets up to the time at least of Ezra Taft Benson (d.1985) all understood and accepted the doctrine. The books and manuals of the church taught it. So this is not some obscure, archaic idea, some speculation as you suggest, but a doctrine of the Mormon Church. Now you want me to accept they were all wrong? And this on the basis of what exactly? The man in the pew correcting the man with the mantle? Have you thought about the implications of what you are saying?

      It may well be that you have heard or read an “explanation” that satisfies you but what I can see is everything I wrote vindicated.

      Think it through with me. If we had a pre-mortal existence in the presence of God, and that God is our literal Father then it stands to reason that we are the same species as God. That means, if I am a man, then God is a man. But we don’t have to reason it through because prophets and apostles from Joseph Smith up to modern times have affirmed this doctrine. It is convenient to take one quote from the King Follett Discourse given by JS and dismiss it as “obscure,” quoting Gordon B Hinckley, the great PR man of the church and the most disingenuous Mormon since Smith himself, but…history is not on your side. Mormons have been taught and believed this up to my own day and beyond and what you are now saying is only very recently come on the Mormon scene. I wonder why that is? Maybe I was right about giving the appearance of continuity while all along making changes. I wish you would re-examine my answers, reconsider what you are saying and think of the eternal implications of following ‘prophets’ who change their minds, can’t agree among themselves, and deny any knowledge or understanding of what previous prophets have said and taught.

      Blessings

      Mike

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      1. Bless you Mike,
        Really true what you say about Mormon prophets. To those looking in objectively without the mindset of “BUT THE MORMON CHURCH IS TRUE NO MATTER WHAT” it seems that the leaders have documented that the original Mormon belief system is no longer sustainable without ever admitting that it could possibly be fundamentally false with no foundation to stand on. How much the unthinkable sinks in with the top 15 is everybody’s guess, but there is a good chance that most of the leaders know that they are continuing in wearing Josephs mantle of defensive lies.

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  5. Mike,
    1) With all due respect, Nowhere in President Eyring’s talk does he discuss the “origin of God” or that “God is an exalted man”. To insist that he did is to purposely propagate misinformation for your own purposes.

    2) Even when the topic of the origin of God was addressed in the 1840’s, it is was always in the context of directing us to consider or focus on our identity, purpose and potential as children of God, It was always presented in a supporting role to the principle doctrine of our identity, purpose and potential as children of God.

    3) As I quoted from Elder Andersen, “The leaders of the Church are honest but imperfect men. Remember the words of Moroni: “Condemn me not because of mine imperfection, neither my father”
    The original Apostles wrestled with issues of doctrine and governance and did not always agree,
    This reality of our human condition does not “concern” me. In fact, it inspires me and gives me great hope and a greater desire to continue to wrestle to better understand and have developed my own identity, purpose and potential as a son of God with Christ.

    4) As Elder Andersen explains, “There is an important principle that governs the doctrine of the Church. The doctrine is taught by all 15 members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve.”
    I believe President Hinckley had it right on the subject of the “origin of God”. It has NOT historically been a consistent focus of the teachings of Mormon prophets. Some embrace it Some are cautious of it. The enormity of the topic alone is beyond my comprehension. What has been a consistent focus and continues to be is our identity, purpose and potential as children of God.

    5) To other topics in your final paragraph (in your most recent response) I haven’t already addressed , the Bible is clear that we are children of God:
    “Let “us” make man in our image, after our likeness:… male and female created he them.”

    “Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?”

    “For in Him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.”

    “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; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.”

    “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect”.

    As to existing as pre-mortal spirits with God prior to birth, the Bible teaches,
    “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.”

    “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:”

    .”And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.”

    “And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.”

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    1. Michael,

      Allow me to address your first point:

      “Nowhere in President Eyring’s talk does he discuss the “origin of God” or that “God is an exalted man”. To insist that he did is to purposely propagate misinformation for your own purposes.”

      Neither have I, anywhere, said that Henry Eyring discusses the origin of God or the idea that he is an exalted man. But please try and comprehend this fact, the first/second estate plan he lays before his listeners falls down if God is not an exalted man. The whole foundation of the so-called Plan of Salvation is built on this idea and he has indicated as much.by saying that we are literally children of God (I will address the Bible texts you quote in a moment)

      The “purpose of life” as taught by Mormon missionaries, is to “progress” to become like God by passing the test of this mortality and gaining a body. Progression means moving from one stage of growth to the next, much as a baby grows to be an infant, an infant a child, a child an adult. So too, the children of God “progress” in like manner.

      Now, please address for me this one question: If we are literally children of God, as he and you insist, and if we enjoyed a pre-mortal existence with God as the literal Father of our spirits, doesn’t that make us the same species as God? I have two sons and both are now grown men. They are grown men because they are the children of a man and a woman. I also have two daughters and they are grown women. They, too, are grown women because they are the daughters of a a man and a woman; Homo Sapiens begetting Homo Sapiens.

      Again I quote the Encyclopedia of Mormonism:

      “There is no ultimate disparity between the divine and human natures; Joseph Smith asserted that mankind is of the same species as God, having been made in God’s image (theomorphism) and being eternal, with unlimited capacity (TPJS, pp. 345-46). One early LDS leader proclaimed, “As man now is, God once was. As God now is, man may be” (Lorenzo Snow). Latter-day Saints speak of man as a God in embryo” (under section “Christology”)

      Now you may have read and/or heard certain “explanations” that dismiss this idea and place it into the box marked “speculation” but who am I to believe, Joseph Smith. Brigham Young, The Encyclopedia of Mormonism, or you? It comes back again to that perennial test Mormonism brings, the test of authority. If official Mormon works agree with me, and you assert something different, who am I to follow? The fact is that, in speaking plainly of the first/second estates, and of our being children of God Eyring has implicitly declared God to be a man and this fits in perfectly with what Mormonism has taught consistently since the days of Joseph Smith.

      With regards your dismissal of the King Follett Discourse may I say it is a fine religion that is founded on the condemnation of all other churches (JS history 1:19) for being obscure and apostate to then turn around and say it doesn’t understand its own doctrine of God and questions the teachings of its founding prophet. Keep iin mind that this material didn’t fall into the hands of so-called “enemies of the church” to twist and distort. It has been and continues to be totally in the control of the Mormon Church.

      I am fully aware of the history of the KFD and its sources. I have before me a copy of Times and Seasons, vol.6:612-617 in which the discourse was printed, the edition dated Aug.15, 1844 (the sermon was preached April 6 of that same year). I also have a copy of the Journal of Discourses, vol.6, p.1 in which the same discourse was reproduced. Both publications are official organs of the Mormon Church

      It has been reproduced at various times since, the most recent to my knowledge being the Ensign magazine, April and May 1971. This, too, is an official publication of the church. It is not insignificant that 1971 saw the first publication of the Ensign, beginning in January that same year. It might reasonably be assumed that in such a new venture the Mormon Church would want to make an impression and, clearly, this is the impression they wanted to make.It was published over the two issues and without commentary or correction and was introduced thus:

      “The King Follett Sermon, one of the classics of Church literature, was given by the Prophet Joseph Smith at the April 7, 1844, conference of the Church in Nauvoo, Illinois. Some twenty thousand Saints were assembled. The account of the talk noted that it was the funeral sermon for Elder King Follett, a close friend of the Prophet’s who had been killed in an accident on March 9. Longhand notes of the discourse were made by Willard Richards, Wilford Woodruff, Thomas Bullock, and William Clayton. This reprint was taken from the Documentary History of the Church, vol. 6, pages 302–17. That volume notes: “This was not a stenographic report, but a carefully and skillfully prepared one made by these men who were trained in reporting and taking notes. Evidently, there are some imperfections in the report and some thoughts expressed by the Prophet which were not fully rounded out and made complete. …” It should also be noted that this discourse was given two months before the death of Joseph Smith. During these months the enemies of the Church were extremely active, and the Prophet undoubtedly anticipated the coming events. The first part of the sermon is printed this month, with the conclusion planned for the May issue of the Ensign. In future issues of the Ensign, other significant discourses and articles from the past will be presented.”

      Note that it was published without comment or qualification and, whilst recognising this was not a “stenographic report, but a carefully and skillfully prepared one made by these men who were trained in reporting and taking notes. Evidently, there are some imperfections in the report and some thoughts expressed by the Prophet which were not fully rounded out and made complete. …” Note also that it is taken from another official Mormon source, The Documentary History of the Church.

      The sermon has been quoted and cited widely in manuals and books down the years, one recent example of which I have before me. It is the church’s own Institute student manual, Church History in the Fulness (sic) of Time, second edition, copyright Intellectual Reserve, Inc.1989, 1993, 2000, 2003. On page 261 we read:

      “The most renowned of all the Prophet’s sermons was given at general conference in April 1844 as a funeral address in honor of his friend King Follett who had died in a construction accident. Joseph Smith spoke for over two hours mentioning at least thirty-four doctrinal subjects, Including the importance of knowing the true God, the way to become as God is, the plurality of gods,eternal progression, the importance of the Holy Ghost, the nature of intelligence, the unpardonable sin, and little children and the Resurrection.

      One of his most profound messages concerned God and man’s destiny in relationship to him. He declared, “God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens! . . .“. . . you have got to learn how to be gods yourselves . . . by going from
      one small degree to another, and from a small capacity to a great one; from grace to grace, from exaltation to exaltation, until you attain to the resurrection of the dead, and are able to dwell in everlasting burnings.” Man, then, is to become like God now is. Joseph also explained the “first principles of consolation” for those mourning for the righteous dead: “although the earthly tabernacle is laid down and dissolved, they shall rise again to dwell in everlasting burnings in immortal glory, not to sorrow, suffer, or die any more, but they shall be heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ.”

      What can I say Michael? This is a fundamental principle of Mormonism, I taught it myself out of church books and manuals, it has been preached and taught up to the present day and, if it isn’t true then Eyring’s whole scheme as he laid it out last weekend falls down utterly. Why do you continue to deny it?

      But what concerns me further is that, on the most fundamental question of faith for anyone – who is God – your prophets, by your own admission, cannot agree among themselves. If this is an unsettled matter for Mormon leaders then why on earth should anyone trust the claim that they alone speak for the God that you say they don’t know or understand?

      I will gladly come back on the texts you quote from Scripture and if you wish to wait until I do before you respond I will understand.

      Blessings

      Mike

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  6. Mike
    1) You stated, ” But please try and comprehend this fact, the first/second estate plan he lays before his listeners falls down if God is not an exalted man.”
    My response: respectfully, I don’t agree with your conclusion. Our progress as children of God towards godliness is not dependent on the idea that God is an exalted man. As President Hinckley said, “”I don’t know. …. I understand the philosophical background behind it. But I don’t know a lot about it and I don’t know that others know a lot about it.”

    The idea of God being an exalted man is not a foundational or root doctrine within Mormonism. You noted it was first introduced as late as 2 months before Joseph Smith’s murder. To those convinced of its veracity, it is a “branch” doctrine that is interesting to consider, but if God is not an exalted man, the rest of Mormonism does NOT fall apart.

    On the other hand, IF we are NOT children of God with the potential of godliness, then all of Mormonism and Christianity for that matter does fall apart.

    The Bible and Mormon scriptures are full of references to our premortal existence as I referenced (w/Bible versus only). The Bible is full of references of us as children of God as are Mormon scriptures. I am not aware of any where in the Bible or in any Mormon scripture where God is described as an exalted man (there are scriptures that could lead to well meaning speculation as you have described or as the King Follett Sermon seems to describe). The Encyclopedia of Mormonsim is NOT scripture, It is written by PHD’s (some of which aren’t even Mormon), It is not written by the authorities of the church. The King Follett sermon while interesting to consider is not canonized scripture. In 1911 it was even excluded from the 6th edition of Church History by the First Presidency at the time who stated, “When the sermon was first published it did not receive the revision or sanction of the Prophet Joseph, who preached it, and it was reported from the impressions obtained by four different persons who heard it, neither of whom was a shorthand writer. There are some points in the sermon which appear to be in direct conflict with revelations accepted by the Church as divine.”,

    Again, I am NOT concerned at all by the occasional varying views on non-core topics of honest and sincere followers of Christ over many years who have been called to be His special witnesses. The original apostles wrestled with matters of Church policy and doctrine while Christ was with them and afterwards. They are not called to answer every question that can be imagined in the heart of man, but rather to lead us in the continual direction towards eternal life through Jesus Christ. That is the focus Christ has put upon them and the origin of God has NOT been part of that focus, whereas our identity, purpose and potential as God’s children has consistently throughout scripture and by all modern day prophets remained a consistent priority and focus.

    I have a lot of questions when i die that i hope to be answered. This is one of them. I also want to know who shot President Kennedy (maybe the KKK? LOL). Both will be interesting to know. Both will be followed with a whole host of other questions, but NONE of the answers are necessary for me to know in order to develop towards godliness with my family.

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      1. Thank you for the link which supports exactly what I have been saying to you all along:

        This is what the church link you have provided states “Little has been revealed about the first half of this couplet (“As man now is, God once was…”), and consequently little is taught. When asked about this topic, Church President Gordon B. Hinckley told a reporter in 1997, “That gets into some pretty deep theology that we don’t know very much about.” When asked about the belief in humans’ divine potential, President Hinckley responded, “Well, as God is, man may become. We believe in eternal progression. Very strongly.”

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  7. Thank you Michael but, with the greatest of respect, I am not interested in what you are saying, I am interested in what your church leaders are saying and in what your church is teaching. If this “pretty deep theology that we don’t know very much about” is so impenetrable and the sources I bring are so questionable then why does the Mormon Church consistently teach from it? I am afraid you are cherry-picking quotes (I note they all seem to come from the singularly mendacious Gordon B Hinckley) and yet every official source I bring appears to contradict you in precept and example.

    You have singularly failed to engage with the evidence I bring, simply making assertions to counter it. Lets take this one step at a time and answer one question at a time:

    If we are literal children of God does that not make us the same species as God?

    Its a simple enough question and I know you want to anticipate where I am going with this and head me off at the pass but lets just stick with this and get a yes/no answer.

    Blessings

    Mike

    Like

    1. Mike,
      You question: If we are literal children of God does that not make us the same species as God?
      My response: I know that God is our creator. I know that we were created in His image. I know that He is the Father of our Spirits. I know that we are His children. I know that we are His offspring. I know that as his children, we can become immortal beings and heirs and joint heirs with Christ upon certain conditions. All of this is taught in the Bible (see references below)

      I don’t know if God was once a man. ”I don’t know. …. I understand the philosophical background behind it. But I don’t know a lot about it and I don’t know that others know a lot about it.” The church recognizes this lack of clarity on the subject as the link you shared indicates.
      Bible references:
      Paul taught this to the people of Athens (non-Christians worshiping idols): “For in Him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also “his offspring”. Forasmuch then as we are “the offspring of God”, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device. And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:”

      “And God said, Let “us” make man in our image, after our likeness:… male and female created he them.”

      “Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the “Father of spirits”, and live?”

      “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; “IF” so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.”

      “Be ye therefore perfect, even as “your Father” which is in heaven is perfect”.

      Like

      1. You are using a scientific term (species) that scientists don’t even agree on and refer to as the “species problem” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Species_problem

        I will be glad to use the terms I find in the Bible as I have done. The question is, Do you believe we are “the offspring of God” as Paul taught or that God is the “Father of our Spirits” that we are “children of God” or that we were created in the image and “likeness’ of God or that we have the potential to become “perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect”.as Christ taught?

        Final answer to your question:
        I do believe the Bible when it says, we are “the offspring of God”, “children of God, created in the image of God, in His “likeness” and that Jesus Christ has provided the means and directive for us to become “perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect”

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  8. Michael,

    I had expected that you would have sufficiently understood at least the fundamentals of your faith to readily see the obvious connection between what Eyring said and the nature of God. Every Mormon I ever knew back in the day would have been able to make that connection because this is what we were taught. But you don’t know what you believe, your leaders don’t know what you believe and can’t agree among themselves about the nature of God and the true nature of man.

    Your message of “restoration” is that there was a great apostasy in which church leaders didn’t understand the nature of God and had to hold councils to hammer out what they believed (this is historically untrue but lets not go there now). You are meant to have restored the truth that they, it is claimed, lost but this and other conversations like it demonstrate otherwise. Are Mormons staring in the face of another apostasy and isn’t it about time your leaders held a council themselves to hammer out these essential things? Because a growing number of issues that once were clear are becoming obscure.

    You can’t give a straight Mormon answer on the nature of God, the nature and destiny of man, the purpose of life, where we came from and what we were in that place, why we are here and what we are, and where we are going and what we will be when we get there. You use terms like “children of God” but cannot answer the most fundamental questions about what God is and what it means to be his children.

    In your thinking you have stripped away all the fundamentals of Mormonism that were once as instinctive as breathing to Mormons and ended up with a religion in which you worship someone you don’t begin to understand for a purpose you can’t be sure you know and with “explanations” that bring obfuscation instead of the revelation that Mormonism promises. So, it comes down to this one question. Why should anyone take Mormonism seriously?

    Blessings

    Mike

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    1. Mike, Cmon! you’re getting snarky again!
      Let’s stick to the merits of the arguments. Why don’t you share with me your belief in the nature of God, instead of chiding mine or lack thereof?

      I’m perfectly fine admitting that there are aspects of God’s nature that I don’t know and that no one I know knows.

      Mormonism does provide for me and my family and many others everything we need to need to know to sufficiently guide through our lives and get us closer to knowing God much more than we otherwise would. Gotta go for now – looking forward to your view on the nature of God 🙂

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      1. I have read this thread. I think it has been shown quite clearly that Mormonism has owned the doctrine of eternal progression. I have been through the temple just as I left for a mission in the UK and continued to attend until about 8 years ago. We can understand the belief in plurality of Gods right from the endowment. In my own experience I have taught the doctrine of eternal progression and the idea of a plurality of Gods right from the church manuals and right in the same week when President Hinkley made his interview. I remember that interview vividly when I watched it on TV. I was a little crestfallen because I couldn’t understand why he said what he did.

        I want to also comment on the atomistic presentation of lists of verses. It isn’t useful to present lists of scriptures without even a hint of exegesis. I am left to conclude that there is little understanding. Michael (not Miketea) you clearly have some time on your hands given that you have time for your numerous posts. I suggest, sincerely that you get a copy of “How to Read The Bible for all it’s Worth” By Gordon Fee. There’s a co-author whose name escapes me. You should also make use of a quality commentary. You see, I and some others who post here have been members of the LDS movement and are now Christians. We understand the Mormon position and since having become Christians can see down both sides of the street. I am not saying you have to agree, but having spent some time to understand why Christians believe what they do, will help engagements here.

        In the last few weeks I have begun to wonder why the LDS church does not do theology. There is a tremendous amount of material dealing with Christian doctrines but no response or correction from the LDS church. I would love it if the church addressed it’s own doctrine of God specifically addressing I Cor 8:6. Phil 2 and Rev 5. Even in Mark we see that he goes almost as far as John in identifying Jesus as God. How do we account for strict monotheism in the first century CE and reconcile it to the Mormon doctrine of God (though from reading here it seems the church leaders don’t understand it) Paul as a strict Pharisee rewrote the Shema and included Jesus in God’s divine identity. This means separate from all creation. How do we reconcile the Mormon doctrine of tritheism to what we read in the NT? It would be great to have some serious work done in this area. Work done by the church but it seems BYU lacks theologians and the church Prophets who know much. Of course it would mean giving up on the campaign to be accepted as part of the Christian church.

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      2. Michael,

        Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart. I have it and its very helpful isn’t it? I was also a Mormon, a temple Mormon and my main role in the Mormon Church was teaching so I can relate to your frustration and confusion when public pronouncements stand in stark contrast to in-house teaching. We have to get used to it because, for as long as I remember, Mormons have been disingenuous about their faith; they just don’t know it.

        I agree that lists of texts don’t achieve much. Mormons tend to present them as though they need no exegesis because their meaning is “obvious,” and they are puzzled when someone is dumb enough to disagree. They then take it personally, assuming it must be because no one in their right minds would disagree with “the church” so there must be a mean and despicable motive. You are “an enemy of the church.” Childish really and the only reason I engage at all is because, as Scripture says, “love compels us.” I care that Mormons are deceived, I want them to know the truth in Christ, and if I have to listen to a lot of shallow apologetic to shine the light of Christ so be it.

        The Mormon Church doesn’t have theology because it has prophets. If you want to have theology in the Mormon Church you ask your leaders to tell you what you believe. It takes all the heavy lifting out of it. Of course, those prophets are subject to correction from a correlation committee, which is, itself, subject to correction from the ordinary member you happen to be quoting Mormon prophets to at the time.

        One important thing to remember is that each generation of Mormons joins a different Mormon Church. Each thinks the way they understand it is how it has always been understood. The temple ceremony I went through in the 1980’s, for instance, changed in 1990, but it had already changed several times by the time I got to the temple and will, no doubt, change again.

        I have yet to come back on the question of God’s nature. I haven’t yet decided whether make it a blog post and a link here but I will do my best to ensure it includes some carefully reasoned theology. Will it make a difference? We are all in God’s hands on this point, as on so many others, but I trust him that he works in Mormon hearts, after all, he worked in mine.

        Blessings

        Mike

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      3. I said I would come back and answer Michael’s questions about the nature and person of God. Michael appears not to know much at all on the subject which should ring alarm bells since he, purportedly, follows a prophet and apostles who teach the truth about these things.

        The first thing to say is that God is knowable. The biblical apostle John wrote:

        “And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.” (1 John 5:20)

        Jesus came to make God known and declared that to know God is life eternal (John 17:3)

        To know God, then, is not only possible but essential if we are to know eternal life. It would seem strange that God would give the world apostles and prophets who cannot give us a clear understanding of the nature and person of God. Who are effectively saying, “We speak for the one true God but don’t ask me any questions about him because I am as much in the dark on the issue as the rest of you.”

        Peculiar that we should have had the conversation wherein I quote Mormon prophets on the subject and you, Michael, deny and disavow their words. Indeed, you have even said these men cannot agree among themselves. Well, I know that much to be true but you appear singularly casual about the fact given that this knowledge is essential, according to Scripture, if we are to have any hope of eternal life. Why on earth should anyone trust Mormon prophets on lifestyle issues such as dietary practices if those same prophets cannot give a clear message about the most fundamental question of who and what God is?

        The Bible tells us of God:

        “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24)

        Now I know the usual Mormon arguments about this but since you who are purportedly led by prophets apparently can’t give a straight answer I don’t think you have anything to say. The Bible tells us that God is spirit. He is not confined to a material body but exists in a way that does not have any parallel in this physical universe, which he made. This is what the Bible tells us and, given the paucity of data coming from your direction Michael, I say we stick with what we know from God’s Word.

        In the song of Moses we read, “Who is like you, O LORD, among the gods? Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders?” (Ex.15:11)

        The psalmist writes, “Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure.” (Ps.147:5)

        He is a God of infinite perfection and holiness. This is the God Christians serve. Apparently Mormons don’t know him and I so wish you did.

        Isaiah, a biblical prophet, had no problem talking about God’s nature:

        “Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god. Who is like me? Let him proclaim it..Fear not, nor be afraid; have I not told you from old and declared it? And you are my witnesses! Is there a God besides me? There is no Rock; I know not any.” (Is.44;6-8)

        “I am the LORD, and there is no other, besides me there is no God.” (Is.45:5)

        God is knowable through Jesus. This has to do with his character and perfections and nothing to do with anything so crass and trivial as his physical appearance. If we want to know what God is like we look at Jesus, who is, “the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature…” (Hebrews 1:3) Every characteristic of Christ’s nature reflects the character of God’s own nature. Is Jesus merciful? Then the Father is merciful. Is Jesus just in his dealings? Then so is the Father. Is Jesus’ judgement right and true? Then so is that of God the Father. Every aspect of Jesus’ character and nature that we find so admirable and attractive reflects the Father.

        God is self-existent, the ground of his own being, “for from him and through him and to him are all things.” (Ro.11:36) If you want to know how this compares with our existence consider the words of John writing of Jesus, “In him was life…”(Jn.1:4) That is to say, the Son is also self-existent. Now consider the words of Paul who, quoting a pagan poet, said of men, “In him we live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17:28) In other words, God has life in himself, but we have life only in God.

        God is immutable. The writer to the Hebrews writes of, “the unchangeable character of [God’s] purpose…” (Heb.6:17) and James writes of God as one, “with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” (Js.1:17) This speaks of God’s person and character, true and consistent, unchangeable.

        God is infinite and not subject to limitations.(Ps.90:2; 102:12) He is above and beyond time and space and his existence cannot be said in any way to have a relation to our own, i.e. his does not simply “appear” to be infinite compared with us but is truly without beginning or end.

        God knows all things and there is no limit to his knowing (Ps.139:1-16)

        God’s wisdom is limitless (Ro.11:33)

        God’s righteousness and goodness are perfect (Ps.36:6)

        He is perfectly holy (Is.6:5) a comparison with man here worthy of close attention.

        He is perfectly righteous (Ps.99:4)

        He is perfectly true and faithful (Heb.10:23)

        He reigns, Sovereign, over all (Ro.9:15-18) Not held to any great “Plan of Salvation” but only to be true to his own character and perfections.

        God is omnipotent, able to execute his perfect will unhindered. (Acts 2:23)

        God is spirit, an eternal being of infinite holiness, righteousness, power and mercy. He has always been God, always will be God and, besides him, there is no God.

        You see, the terrible mistake Mormons make is in assuming that they alone have the truth and other churches only have some cobbled-together, church councils-hatched, muddling along in the darkness parody of truth. In fact, we have the Bible, which we trust, consult, preach, teach and strive to have form our lives. What is alarming is that, when this question of God’s nature arose, my first instinct was to go to the Bible but your instinct, Michael, was to prevaricate over what your leaders might, or might not have said or meant.

        With all my heart I urge Mormons to think about what they are rejecting before they reject the plain and simple truth of the Christian Gospel by which alone we are saved (1 Cor.15:1-2)

        Blessings

        Mike

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  9. I said I would come back and answer Michael’s questions about the nature and person of God. Michael appears not to know much at all on the subject which should ring alarm bells since he, purportedly, follows a prophet and apostles who teach the truth about these things.

    The first thing to say is that God is knowable. The biblical apostle John wrote:

    “And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.” (1 John 5:20)

    Jesus came to make God known and declared that to know God is life eternal (John 17:3)

    To know God, then, is not only possible but essential if we are to know eternal life. It would seem strange that God would give the world apostles and prophets who cannot give us a clear understanding of the nature and person of God. Who are effectively saying, “We speak for the one true God but don’t ask me any questions about him because I am as much in the dark on the issue as the rest of you.”

    Peculiar that we should have had the conversation wherein I quote Mormon prophets on the subject and you, Michael, deny and disavow their words. Indeed, you have even said these men cannot agree among themselves. Well, I know that much to be true but you appear singularly casual about the fact given that this knowledge is essential, according to Scripture, if we are to have any hope of eternal life. Why on earth should anyone trust Mormon prophets on lifestyle issues such as dietary practices if those same prophets cannot give a clear message about the most fundamental question of who and what God is?

    The Bible tells us of God:

    “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24)

    Now I know the usual Mormon arguments about this but since you who are purportedly led by prophets apparently can’t give a straight answer I don’t think you have anything to say. The Bible tells us that God is spirit. He is not confined to a material body but exists in a way that does not have any parallel in this physical universe, which he made. This is what the Bible tells us and, given the paucity of data coming from your direction Michael, I say we stick with what we know from God’s Word.

    In the song of Moses we read, “Who is like you, O LORD, among the gods? Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders?” (Ex.15:11)

    The psalmist writes, “Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure.” (Ps.147:5)

    He is a God of infinite perfection and holiness. This is the God Christians serve. Apparently Mormons don’t know him and I so wish you did.

    Isaiah, a biblical prophet, had no problem talking about God’s nature:

    “Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god. Who is like me? Let him proclaim it..Fear not, nor be afraid; have I not told you from old and declared it? And you are my witnesses! Is there a God besides me? There is no Rock; I know not any.” (Is.44;6-8)

    “I am the LORD, and there is no other, besides me there is no God.” (Is.45:5)

    God is knowable through Jesus. This has to do with his character and perfections and nothing to do with anything so crass and trivial as his physical appearance. If we want to know what God is like we look at Jesus, who is, “the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature…” (Hebrews 1:3) Every characteristic of Christ’s nature reflects the character of God’s own nature. Is Jesus merciful? Then the Father is merciful. Is Jesus just in his dealings? Then so is the Father. Is Jesus’ judgement right and true? Then so is that of God the Father. Every aspect of Jesus’ character and nature that we find so admirable and attractive reflects the Father.

    God is self-existent, the ground of his own being, “for from him and through him and to him are all things.” (Ro.11:36) If you want to know how this compares with our existence consider the words of John writing of Jesus, “In him was life…”(Jn.1:4) That is to say, the Son is also self-existent. Now consider the words of Paul who, quoting a pagan poet, said of men, “In him we live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17:28) In other words, God has life in himself, but we have life only in God.

    God is immutable. The writer to the Hebrews writes of, “the unchangeable character of [God’s] purpose…” (Heb.6:17) and James writes of God as one, “with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” (Js.1:17) This speaks of God’s person and character, true and consistent, unchangeable.

    God is infinite and not subject to limitations.(Ps.90:2; 102:12) He is above and beyond time and space and his existence cannot be said in any way to have a relation to our own, i.e. his does not simply “appear” to be infinite compared with us but is truly without beginning or end.

    God knows all things and there is no limit to his knowing (Ps.139:1-16)

    God’s wisdom is limitless (Ro.11:33)

    God’s righteousness and goodness are perfect (Ps.36:6)

    He is perfectly holy (Is.6:5) a comparison with man here worthy of close attention.

    He is perfectly righteous (Ps.99:4)

    He is perfectly true and faithful (Heb.10:23)

    He reigns, Sovereign, over all (Ro.9:15-18) Not held to any great “Plan of Salvation” but only to be true to his own character and perfections.

    God is omnipotent, able to execute his perfect will unhindered. (Acts 2:23)

    God is spirit, an eternal being of infinite holiness, righteousness, power and mercy. He has always been God, always will be God and, besides him, there is no God.

    You see, the terrible mistake Mormons make is in assuming that they alone have the truth and other churches only have some cobbled-together, church councils-hatched, muddling along in the darkness parody of truth. In fact, we have the Bible, which we trust, consult, preach, teach and strive to have form our lives. What is alarming is that, when this question of God’s nature arose, my first instinct was to go to the Bible but your instinct, Michael, was to prevaricate over what your leaders might, or might not have said or meant.

    With all my heart I urge Mormons to think about what they are rejecting before they reject the plain and simple truth of the Christian Gospel by which alone we are saved (1 Cor.15:1-2)

    Blessings

    Mike

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