Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
Jesus and Lucifer: Spirit Brothers?
06/27/2007 - James WhiteJust finished a quick segment with Todd Friel on Way of the Master. He had called yesterday when a Mitt Romney proponent had challenged him on his statement that Jesus and Lucifer are spirit brothers. So we did the "Todd Friel Express Interview"® thing, but I only got to read a single statement actually substantiating the doctrine, since I had to do some basic "Mormonism 101" stuff again to lay out the basic LDS doctrine of God. In any case, as the "spin machine" is at full throttle, and sadly, so few know almost anything about Mormonism, here are some quotes on the fact that Jesus and Lucifer are spirit brothers according to Mormonism:
Thus it is shown that prior to the placing of man upon the earth, how long before we do not know, Christ and Satan, together with the hosts of the spirit-children of God, existed as intelligent individuals, possessing power and opportunity to choose the course they would pursue and the leaders whom they would follow and obey (James Talmage, Jesus the Christ, p. 8)
The appointment of Jesus to be the Savior of the world was contested by one of the other sons of God. He was called Lucifer, son of the morning. Haughty, ambitious, and covetous of power and glory, this spirit-brother of Jesus desparately tried to become the Savior of mankind (Milton R. Hunter, The Gospel Through the Ages, p. 15---this book was "written and published under the direction of the General Priesthood Committee of the Council of the Twelve of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints").
Compare these statements from LDS Apostle Bruce R. McConkie in his book, Mormon Doctrine:
The devil...is a spirit son of God who was born in the morning of pre-existence (p. 192)....Christ is the Firstborn, meaning that he was the first Spirit Child born to God the Father in pre-existence (p. 281)....Christ, the Firstborn, was the mightiest of all the spirit children of the Father (p. 590).The June, 1986 edition of the Ensign Magazine, p. 25, the official publication of the LDS Church, had this question, "How can Jesus and Lucifer be spirit brothers when their characters and purposes are so utterly opposed?" The response provided included the following:
On first hearing, the doctrine that Lucifer and our Lord, Jesus Christ, are brothers may seem surprising to some---especially to those unacquainted with latter-day revelations. But both the scriptures and the prophets affirm that Jesus Christ and Lucifer are indeed offspring of our Heavenly Father and, therefore, spirit brothers....But as the Firstborn of the Father, Jesus was Lucifer's older brother.So anyone denying the reality that Jesus and Lucifer are spirit-brothers is, in the words of the LDS Church, ignorant of latter-day revelations. Or, they are spinning things and hoping they are talking to folks who don't know any better and they can get away with it. That's sadly a possibility. Of course, we should be quite clear in what our objection to this doctrine is, and what it means. Jesus and Lucifer are spirit-brothers in Mormonism because we are all spirit-brothers and sisters of them both. We are all spirit offspring of an exalted man from another planet, Elohim. The objection, then, is that this belief denies the unique and eternal deity of Christ, not that the character of Lucifer is somehow the issue at this point.
I will be continuing my series "Mormonism 101" as it is painfully clear that there is a tremendous need for it. And please realize that both Letters to a Mormon Elder and Is the Mormon My Brother? are coming back into print from Solid Ground! I hope to have links up to the pre-publication specials on those when I get back to Phoenix early next week.
Mormonism 101: Third Level Statements (#1)
06/27/2007 - James WhiteThe Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints provides a tremendous amount of literature to its people. This body of printed material can hardly be surveyed here. However, we can focus upon those publications that are specifically meant to communicate doctrinal truth to the members of the Mormon Church. Since the vast majority of this material appears in Church published documents, we feel quite confident that we are being fair in allowing it to speak and bear testimony to the LDS position.
Melchizedek Priesthood Study Guide
The Melchizedek Priesthood, or the Holy Priesthood after the Order of the Son of God, as some Mormons refer to it, is central to the LDS concept of authority. The Church has published a book titled Search These Commandments, which is subtitled, "Melchizedek Priesthood Personal Study Guide." On pages 151 through 158 we have a study, Lesson 21, based upon D&C 132:20. The first section of the lesson is titled, "God Was Once a Man As We Are Now." The topic of Lorenzo Snow is brought up in these words:
When he was a young man, Lorenzo Snow was promised by the Lord through the Patriarch to the Church that through obedience to the gospel he could become as great as God, and you cannot wish to be greater (Eliza R. Snow Smith, Biography and Family Record of Lorenzo Snow, pp.9-10).I believe the significance of this is clear: the Church has no qualms about promoting Snow's couplet in modern times, and even citing a very secondary source regarding Joseph Smith's confirmation of the verity of Snow's ideas. Not surprisingly, then, the very next citation is very familiar to us:
President Lorenzo Snow recorded this experience that occurred when he was still a young elder: "The Spirit of the Lord rested mightily upon methe eyes of my understanding were opened, and I saw as clear as the sun at noon-day, with wonder and astonishment, the pathway of God and man." Elder Snow expressed this new found understanding in these words: "As man now is, God once was: As God now is, man may be." Later the Prophet Joseph Smith assured him: "Brother Snow, that is true gospel doctrine, and it is a revelation from God to you" (quoted by LeRoi C. Snow, in Devotion to Divine Inspiration, Improvement Era, June 1919, pp. 651-56).
The Prophet Joseph Smith said:The continued relevance, and authority, of Smith's teaching is here plainly demonstrated. So, too, is the authority of a General Authority speaking in Conference, as the next citation provided shows:
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" (Teachings, pp. 345-46; italics in original).
President Brigham Young elaborated on this concept: "It must be that God knows something about temporal things, and has had a body and been on an earth; were it not so He would not know how to judge men righteously, according to the temptations and sins they have had to contend with" (as cited by Harold B. Lee, in Conference Report, Apr. 1969, p.130; or Improvement Era, June 1969, p.104).Are modern Mormons taught that God was once a man and progressed to godhood? Most definitely. The second section of this lesson is titled, "Our Father Advanced and Progressed Until He Became God." What sources are provided to the Melchizedek priest to substantiate this claim?
President Joseph Fielding Smith said: Our Father in heaven, according to the Prophet, had a Father, and since there has been a condition of this kind through all eternity, each Father had a Father (Doctrines of Salvation, 2:47).
President Joseph F. Smith taught: I know that God is a being with body, parts and passions. . . . Man was born of woman; Christ, the Savior, was born of woman; and God, the Father was born of woman (Church News, 19 Sept.1936, p.2).
President Wilford Woodruff explained: [God] has had his endowments a great many years ago. He has ascended to his thrones, principalities and powers in the eternities. We are his children. . . . We are here to fill a probation and receive an education (Deseret News Weekly, 28 Sept. 1881, p.546).
Aside from demonstrating how deeply embedded in LDS thought is the idea of eternal progression, the use of all of these non-canonical sources by the Church to its own members should be noted. The Church is not merely providing private speculation from these leaders to her members. By citing these sources the Church is demonstrating that her truth can be found in a wider body of literature than just the Standard Works.
Next we find that the Church specifically says that the mortal life of God the Father, prior to His exaltation, was basically the same as our life today:
How does it help us to know that the basic elements of God's life in a mortal world were the same as ours? President Brigham Young explained:
He is our Father--the Father of our spirits--and was once a man in mortal flesh as we are.
. . . There never was a time when there were not Gods and worlds and when men were not passing through the same ordeals that we are now passing through. . . .
It appears ridiculous to the world, under their darkened and erroneous traditions, that God has once been a finite being (Deseret News, 16 Nov. 1859, p.290).
The next section is titled "Through Obedience to the Gospel, Man May Become like God." To illustrate this, they quote from a devotional speech in which Elder S. Dilworth Young attributes words to the Father in heaven as He revealed His plan to us in our premortal home.
My children all: You see in meTake special notice that the Father's Father is here mentioned. That is, the God of God, the God that the heavenly Father worshipped when He was a man, is here affirmed to exist. Some modern LDS refuse to speculate beyond what pertains to this earth, but the Church, in teaching its own people, is willing to discuss such matters. The centrality of Smith's King Follett Discourse is seen again: the reference, HC 6:302-17, is to the History of the Church by Joseph Smith, and the King Follett sermon is found in volume 6, pages 302 and following. The lesson returns to the idea that God's mortal existence was very much like ours by quoting an LDS Prophet:
Exalted man, of flesh and bone
And spirit pure. One time, long
Long ago, I was as you, a spirit son
Of an exalted Father. [see HC 6:302-17]
You may become as now I have become
But you must do as I have done.
President Joseph F. Smith said: We are precisely in the same condition and under the same circumstances that God our heavenly Father was when he was passing through this, or a similar ordeal (Gospel Doctrine, p.64).Following these quotes, the student is asked some questions. Some include, "What can a child grow up to be?" which is immediately followed by "What can a son of God grow up to be?" There is only one answer: a God. The student is then told that God does not jealously guard his position and power. The King Follett discourse is cited again, this time the section that says you have got to learn how to be Gods yourselves, and to be kings and priests to God, the same as all Gods have done before you.
After some more discussion the lesson concludes with a most interesting note: "Be careful in presenting this material that you dont bring God down to man's level. Our objective is to perfect ourselves and raise our level to his exalted place."
Here is the LDS Church teaching her own members her theology, and in so doing, being quite open about the ramifications of believing that God was once a man. And even here, one hundred and forty years after Joseph Smith stood to deliver his sermon at Conference on the character of God, the emphasis remains upon the exaltation of man to the position of the divine. It doesn't seem much has changed.
 Search These Commandments, (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1984). It carries the copyright of the Corporation of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
 Compare, however, Isaiah 48:11.
Mormonism 101: Second Level Statements (Final)
06/25/2007 - James WhiteThe LDS Temple Ceremonies
Recognizing that Mormons find discussion of their ceremonies offensive, we present only that information that is vital to determining the theological teaching of those ceremonies. We have already established the fact that these ceremonies are believed to be revelatory, and hence must be allowed to speak with reference to the official LDS doctrine of God.
What do the LDS temple ceremonies teach concerning the nature of God and Christ? At one point during the endowment ceremony, the temple patrons hear the following words:
Brethren and sisters, as you sit here, you will hear the voices of three persons who represent Elohim, Jehovah, and Michael. Elohim will command Jehovah and Michael to go down and organize a world. The work of the six creative periods will be represented. They will also organize man in their own likeness and image, male and female.
Elohim: Jehovah, Michael, see: yonder is matter unorganized. Go ye down and organize it into a world like unto the other worlds we have heretofore formed. Call your labors the First Day, and bring me word.
Jehovah: It shall be done Elohim. Come Michael, let us go down.
Michael: We will go down, Jehovah.
Jehovah: Michael, see: here is matter unorganized. We will organize it into a world like unto the other worlds we have heretofore formed. We will call our labors the First Day, and return and report.
Michael: We will return and report our labors of the First Day, Jehovah.
Jehovah: Elohim, we have done as thou hast commanded, and have called our labors the First Day.
Elohim: It is well.
Here we have very clearly presented the concept that we have seen already, specifically, the plurality of gods. Here Elohim (the Father) is seen as one personage; Jehovah, the Son, is another, a separate god. The role of Michael is a fascinating one in LDS history, but beyond our scope here. Elohim directs the creation (in reality, the organization of pre-existing matter), and Jehovah does Elohims bidding.
The LDS temple ceremonies have undergone a good deal of evolution and development over time. In fact, a major change was made in the endowment ceremonies in April of 1990. The ceremonies, which had been 90 minutes in length, were radically altered, and now last only 60 minutes. The scene recorded above is from the current (1990) edition of the endowment. However, many LDS today have gone through both the pre-1990 version as well as the post-1990. Prior to 1990, and for the vast majority of the history of the LDS Church, a sectarian minister was presented (and mocked) in the LDS endowment ceremonies. What is significant for our purposes is the fact that specific doctrinal information was presented in the words of this sectarian minister. In this case, however, it was doctrinal error, or more specifically, the very doctrines of Satan himself, that was presented. We pick up with Lucifer encountering the Preacher:
Lucifer: Good morning sir!I emphasize that this material is not a part of the current LDS temple ceremonies. However, it was a part of the ceremonies for at least a century, and it does communicate a fair amount of information about how the LDS leadership views God. In light of the claims that the LDS ceremonies were given by revelation, many even in Mormonism have questioned how the Church could so radically alter the ceremonies at all. But that issue aside, the LDS Church taught, as revealed doctrine, that to believe in the Christian concept of God is to believe, in reality, in the very teachings of Satan himself. One does not have to look too hard to see the influence of the Westminster Confession of Faith in the preaching of the Minister, and the phrase without body, parts and passions comes directly from that Confession (2:1):
Sectarian Minister: Good morning!
(The Preacher turns and looks into the camera.)
Sectarian Minister: A fine congregation!
Lucifer: Yes, they are very good people. They are concerned about religion. Are you a preacher?
Sectarian Minister: I am.
Lucifer: Have you been to college and received training for the ministry?
Sectarian Minister: Certainly! A man cannot preach unless he has been trained for the ministry.
Lucifer: Do you preach the orthodox religion?
Sectarian Minister: Yes, that is what I preach.
Lucifer: If you will preach your orthodox religion to these people, and convert them, I will pay you well.
Sectarian Minister: I will do my best.
At this point Lucifer leads the minister to Adam and Eve, and a conversation ensues:
Sectarian Minister: I understand you are inquiring after religion.
Adam: I was calling upon Father.
Sectarian Minister: I am glad to know you were calling upon Father. Do you believe in a God who is without body, parts, and passions; who sits on the top of a topless throne; whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere; who fills the universe, and yet is so small that he can dwell in your heart; who is surrounded by myriads of beings who have been saved by grace, not for any act of theirs, but by His good pleasure? Do you believe in this great Being?
Adam: I do not. I cannot comprehend such a being.
Sectarian Minister: That is the beauty of it. Perhaps you do not believe in the devil, and in that great hell, the bottomless pit, where there is a lake of fire and brimstone into which the wicked are cast, and where they are continually burning, but arenever consumed?
Adam: I do not believe in any such place.
Sectarian Minister: My dear friend, I am sorry for you.
There is but one only living and true God, who is infinite in being and perfection, a most pure spirit, invisible, without body, parts, or passions; immutable, immense, eternal, incomprehensible, almighty, most wise, most holy, most free, most absolute, working all things according to the counsel of His own immutable and most righteous will, for His own glory; most loving, gracious, merciful, long-suffering, abundant in goodness and truth, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin, the rewarder of them that diligently seek Him; and withal, most just, and terrible in His judgments; hating all sin, and who will by no means clear the guilty.One might well recall that Joseph Smith claimed, upon his returning home after his First Vision, that he told his mother, I have learned for myself that Presbyterianism is not true (Joseph Smith History, 1:20).
We are seeking to establish, as fairly as possible, the official LDS position based upon their own Scriptures, statements, and teachings. We have come a long way in looking at these second level statements from Joseph Smith, the First Presidency, and the Temple Ceremonies. The outlines we were able to see in the LDS Scriptures and in the words of the living Prophet have been greatly expanded by these teachings. We find a strong consistency here, for the concepts of a plurality of gods, God once havingbeen a man, and the possibility of exaltation to godhood, have been affirmed over and over again all across the spectrum of evidence.
 For those unfamiliar with the LDS endowment ceremonies, we note that actors on a stage (in the old style--in the vast majority of temples today, movies present these scenes) are portraying various events, such as creation, the Fall, etc. Temple patrons are seated, viewing these films, dressed in their Temple garments. At points they stand to make various signs and symbols, representing various oaths being taken, that fit into the dialogue taking place before them on the movie screens.
 Cited in Jerald and Sandra Tanner, Evolution of the Mormon Temple Ceremony: 1842-1990 (Salt Lake City: Utah Lighthouse Ministry, 1990), p. 65.
 For a full discussion of Michael, Adam, and the Adam-God doctrine, see Jerald and Sandra Tanner, Mormonism: Shadow or Reality? (Salt Lake City: Utah Lighthouse Ministry, 1982), pp. 173ff.
 Ibid., pp. 79-80.
 Westminster Confession of Faith, cited from BibleWorks 3.5, Hermeneutika Software, Electronic version Copyright © 1991 by M. S. Bushell.
Mormonism 101: Second Level Statements (More)
06/18/2007 - James WhiteMore from Joseph Smith
While the preceding discourse is certainly the longest extant presentation of the LDS doctrine of God and man from the Mormon Prophet, it is certainly not all he said on the subject. Indeed, in the few years before his death in 1844, Smith spoke often of this concept. He encountered a good bit of opposition, even from within his own movement, especially on this point. This would seem to indicate that it was, indeed, a development that took place over time, and that had been absent from the earlier forms of the Mormon faith. Note his words from June 16, 1844, a scant eleven days prior to his death:
It is altogether correct in the translation. Now, you know that of late some malicious and corrupt men have sprung up and apostatized from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and they declare that the Prophet believes in a plurality of Gods, and, lo and behold! we have discovered a very great secret, they cry--"The Prophet says there are many Gods, and this proves that he has fallen."
The passage of Scripture to which Smith makes reference is Revelation 1:6 in the King James Version of the Bible, which reads, "And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen." From this passage Smith will derive the concept of the plurality of Gods, as he himself declares:
I will preach on the plurality of Gods. I have selected this text for that express purpose. I wish to declare I have always and in all congregations when I have preached on the subject of the Deity, it has been the plurality of Gods. It has been preached by the Elders for fifteen years.Smith goes on to insist that he had taught all the stronger doctrines publicly, and always teach stronger doctrines in public than in private. Hence, he is preaching the doctrine of a plurality of Gods. This is not mere conjecture or opinion, it is doctrine.
I have always declared God to be a distinct personage, Jesus Christ a separate and distinct personage from God the Father, and the Holy Ghost was a distinct personage and a Spirit: and these three constitute three distinct personages and three Gods. If this is in accordance with the New Testament, lo and behold! we have three Gods anyhow, and they are plural; and who can contradict it?
John was one of the men, and apostles declare they were made kings and priests unto God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It reads just so in the Revelation, Hence (sic) the doctrine of a plurality of Gods is as prominent in the Bible as any other doctrine. It is all over the face of the Bible. It stands beyond the power of controversy. A wayfaring man, though a fool, need not err therein.Smith then calls upon Paul's testimony to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 8:4-6), and says,
Paul says there are Gods many and Lords many. I want to set it forth in a plain and simple manner; but to us there is but one God--that is pertaining to us; and he is in all and through all. But if Joseph Smith says there are Gods many and Lords many, they cry, "Away with him! Crucify him! Crucify him!"How, then, does Joseph Smith, here at the very end of his life, view those whose viewpoint he once held regarding the Godhead? He tells us in this sermon:
Mankind verily say that the Scriptures are with them. Search the Scriptures, for they testify of things that these apostates would gravely pronounce blasphemy. Paul, if Joseph Smith is a blasphemer, you are. I say there are Gods many and Lords many, but to us only one, and we are to be in subjection to that one, and no man can limit the bounds or the eternal existence of eternal time. Hath he beheld the eternal world, and is he authorized to say that there is only one God? He makes himself a fool if he thinks or says so, and there is an end of his career or progress in knowledge. He cannot obtain all knowledge, for he has sealed up the gate to it.
Some say I do not interpret the Scripture the same as they do. They say it means the heathens gods. Paul says there are Gods many and Lords many; and that makes a plurality of Gods, in spite of the whims of all men. Without a revelation, I am not going to give them the knowledge of the God of heaven. You know and I testify that Paul had no allusion to the heathen gods. I have it from God, and get over it if you can. I have a witness of the Holy Ghost, and a testimony that Paul had no allusion to the heathen gods in the text.
Many men say there is one God; the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost are only one God. I say that is a strange God anyhow--three in one, and one in three! It is a curious organization. "Father, I pray not for the world, but I pray for them which thou hast given me." "Holy Father, keep through Thine own name those whom thou has given me, that they may be one as we are." All are to be crammed into one God, according to sectarianism. It would make the biggest God in all the world. He would be a wonderfully big God--he would be a giant or a monster.When Joseph Smith attempted to express Trinitarian concepts in the Book of Mormon he demonstrated a misunderstanding of the doctrine, and fourteen years or more did nothing to disabuse him of his misconceptions. He does not understand the Trinity even in his last days.
Can There Be A Doubt?
The strength of the preceding statements may cause the reader to wonder why it is necessary to even continue the study, let alone multiply citations! How can anyone question the teaching that is plainly presented by the founding Prophet of the LDS Church? But we must indeed document that Smith's doctrine then became the official doctrine of the Church in his day; that it has been believed and taught in the days since then, and that it remains the teaching of the LDS Church at the beginning of the twenty first century. What is more, the teaching of later General Authorities expands upon, and explains, these seminal sermons from the Mormon Prophet.
More Official Pronouncements
Another form of official teaching of the LDS Church is found in the statements of the First Presidency or the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. There are very few of these statements to examine, but most of them are directly relevant to the subject at hand!We are truly left with little doubt on the key issues of Mormon orthodoxy regarding the doctrine of God by these statements that are meant to define, with measured accuracy and certainty, what the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believes.
The first statement comes from the First Presidency in 1909. Responding to the controversy concerning Darwinian evolutionary theory, the leaders of the LDS Church spoke of the nature of man, and in the process, the nature of God as well. The statement is titled The Origin of Man, and reads in part:
The Father of Jesus is our Father also. Jesus Himself taught this truth, when He instructed His disciples how to pray: Our Father which art in heaven, etc. Jesus, however, is the firstborn among all the sons of God--the first begotten in the spirit, and the only begotten in the flesh. He is our elder brother, and we, like Him, are in the image of God. All men and women are in the similitude of the universal Father and Mother, and are literally the sons and daughters of Deity. . . . What more is needed to convince us that man, both in spirit and in body, is the image and likeness of God, and that God Himself is in the form of man?We need to note a few important teachings in this official pronouncement. First, the passage specifically makes mention of our heavenly Mother. Many find such a phrase most strange: heavenly Mother. And yet, this is exactly what the Church teaches. Such is hardly surprising, given the centrality of the concept of the family, coupled with the belief that God is an exalted man. Second, we are told that God Himself is in the form of man. Is this not exactly what Joseph Smith taught sixty-five years earlier in the King Follett Discourse? We can then show a consistency between the teachings of the LDS Prophet on this topic and his followers half a century later. Next, the First Presidency claims it bases itself upon divine revelation in saying that God is an exalted man, perfected, enthroned, and supreme. This again is perfectly in line with what has come before. Finally, it is directly asserted that man has the capacity, "as the undeveloped offspring of celestial parentage" of "evolving into a God."
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, basing its belief on divine revelation, ancient and modern, proclaims man to be the direct and lineal offspring of Deity. God Himself is an exalted man, perfected, enthroned, and supreme. By His almighty power He organized the earth, and all that it contains, from spirit and element, which exist co-eternally with Himself.
Man is the child of God, formed in the divine image and endowed with divine attributes, and even as the infant son of an earthly father and mother is capable in due time of becoming a man, so the undeveloped offspring of celestial parentage is capable, by experience through ages and aeons, of evolving into a God.
The final paragraph cited above appeared in another such official pronouncement, this one dated 1925, and titled "Mormon" View of Evolution. This statement, too, is signed by the members of the First Presidency. Hence, the assertion that men are capable of "evolving into a God" carries the weight of the signatures of six General Authorities, including two LDS Prophets.
The longest statement from the First Presidency that is relevant to our study comes from 1916, and is titled The Father and the Son: A Doctrinal Exposition by the First Presidency and the Twelve. This document appears as an appendix in a very popular work by James Talmage, Articles of Faith. There is much in this statement that would be worthy of examination, especially as it relates to Christ, but we will focus again primarily upon those statements dealing with God and exaltation:
Those who have been born unto God through obedience to the Gospel may by valiant devotion to righteousness obtain exaltation and even reach the status of godhood. Of such we read: Wherefore, as it is written, they are gods, even the sons of God (D&C 76:58; compare 132:20, and contrast paragraph 17 in same section; see also paragraph 37). Yet, though they be gods they are still subject to Jesus Christ as their Father in this exalted relationship; and so we read in the paragraph following the above quotation: and they are Christ's, and Christ is God's (76:59).Some light is shed on what it means to be exalted, and the nature of celestial parentage, by the following: ...
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An E-Mail That Illustrates a Great Truth
06/09/2007 - James WhiteWe received this e-mail unsolicited. We have sought to exemplify a God-honoring approach to Mormonism since 1982. Here is why:
Dear Dr. White, I would like to thank you for taking a bold, truthful stand in opposition to the ungospel of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I am especially grateful that you rely of TRUTH to denounce what, in light of the truth, is so clearly wrong. You see, when I was 18, I was "saved into" a KJV-only Baptist Church. One of the first Christian books I read was "The God Makers" by Ed Decker and Dave Hunt. I lived in Boise, ID which had not shortage of Mormons, and I thought it would be good to know what they believed. Shortly afterwards, I was enlisted in the Navy and left to fend for myself amidst a new world of temptations. When I was 19 when I found myself debating the 30-something-year-old Mormon elder who bunked next to me. Armed with "The God Makers," I found myself fully unable to refute what this Mormon elder was so clearly able to prove were miss characterizations within that book. Before long, I found myself listening to this Mormon elder and believing his false gospel. I became a Mormon myself and was quickly baptized, ordained into the Aaronic Priesthood and later the Melchizedek Priesthood over the course of a year-and-a-half. When the Navy sent me to the Defense Information School to become a military journalist, I was taught some very good critical thinking skills. So, when I found another book on Mormonism while passing a Family Bookstore at a mall, I thought it would be fun to apply some of those critical thinking skills in proving that book's premise to be false. When I left the Defense Information School, I was no longer a Mormon. I would like to thank you for your books, "Debating Calvinism" and "Scripture Alone." I finished the former last winter and am about half way through the latter. Thanks for standing for the Truth and never lying for the Truth.
Mormonism 101: Second Level Statements: The King Follett Discourse (#4)
06/06/2007 - James WhiteThe Council of the Gods
At this point Smith goes into a fascinating discussion of Genesis 1:1 and how this passage supports his theology, but we move past this to remain focused upon ascertaining the what of his theology more than the how at this point.
Oh, ye lawyers, ye doctors, and ye priests, who have persecuted me, I want to let you know that the Holy Ghost knows something as well as you do. The head God called together the Gods and sat in grand council to bring forth the world. The grand councilors sat at the head in yonder heavens and contemplated the creation of the worlds which were created at the time. . . . In the beginning, the head of the Gods called a council of the Gods; and they came together and concocted a plan to create the world and people it. When we begin to learn this way, we begin to learn the only true God, and what kind of a being we have got to worship. Having a knowledge of God, we begin to know how to approach him, and how to ask so as to receive an answer. When we understand the character of God, and how to come to him, he begins to unfold the heavens to us, and to tell us all about it.
Every LDS person who embraces these words as true must realize how they sound to the ears of an orthodox Christian. God calling a council of the Gods? Concocting a plan to create the world and people it? Such words are so far removed from historic Christian belief that many struggle to react properly to them. We must remember that it is claimed by Mormons today that this is also what was believed by the Apostles of Jesus Christ, such as Paul, John, and Peter. Yet, their testimony to these things has been muted by time and by the corruption of the Scriptures.
Man's Spirit Eternal and Uncreated
Smith then goes on to lay the foundation of the LDS denial of creatio ex nihilo, creation out of nothing, the historic Christian belief that God did not create the universe out of pre-existing matter, but solely by His creative power and will.
Now, I ask all who hear me, why the learned men who are preaching salvation, say that God created the heavens and the earth out of nothing? The reason is, that they are unlearned in the things of God, and have not the gift of the Holy Ghost; they account it blasphemy in any one to contradict their idea. If you tell them that God made the world out of something, they will call you a fool. But I am learned, and know more than all the world put together. The Holy Ghost does, anyhow, and He is within me, and comprehends more than all the world: and I will associate myself with Him.
How does Smith deal with the assertion that God created the heavens and the earth, as well as man himself?
You ask the learned doctors why they say the world was made out of nothing; and they will answer, Doesnt the Bible say He created the world? And they infer, from the word create, that it must have been made out of nothing. Now, the word create came fromthe baurau which does not mean to create out of nothing; it means to organize; the same as a man would organize materials and build a ship. Hence, we infer that God had materials to organize the world out of chaoschaotic matter, which is element, and inwhich dwells all the glory. Element had an existence from the time he had. The pure principles of element are principles which can never be destroyed; they may be organized and re-organized, but not destroyed. They had no beginning, and can have no end.
Here Joseph Smith clearly teaches the eternality of matter, and the idea that God does not create but instead organizes. It should be noted, then, that while Smith has said that God has not eternally been God, matter has eternally existed. Hence, matter pre-exists God in that God has not always been God!
At this point, then, Smith moves to the spirit of man. Note well what he says:
We say that God himself is a self-existent being. Who told you so? It is correct enough; but how did it get into your heads? Who told you that man did not exist in like manner upon the same principles? Man does exist upon the same principles. God made a tabernacle and put a spirit into it, and it became a living soul. (Refers to the old Bible.) How does it read in the Hebrew? It does not say in the Hebrew that God created the spirit of man. It says God made man out of the earth and put into him Adams spirit, and so became a living body.
The mind or the intelligence which man possesses is co-equal with God himself. . . . I am dwelling on the immortality of the spirit of man. Is it logical to say that the intelligence of spirits is immortal, and yet that it had a beginning? The intelligence of spirits had not beginning, neither will it have an end. That is good logic. That which has a beginning may have an end. There never was a time when there were not spirits; for they are co-equal [co-eternal] with our Father in heaven. . . . But if I amright, I might with boldness proclaim from the house-tops that God never had the power to create the spirit of man at all. God himself could not create himself.
Mark well the assertion, God never had the power to create the spirit of man at all. This flows from the idea that the intelligence of spirits is immortal and without beginning, and that God Himself is to be numbered amongst the intelligences that areco-eternal with Him. This is what Smith means when he says God . . . could not create himself. The equation is complete, in that God and man are one species, one kind, along the divine continuum, separated by time and exaltation, but not by being. ...
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Keith Walker Corresponds with CT
06/05/2007 - James WhiteKeith Walker got a response from CT about the deceptive Millet/McDermott article that so grossly spun Mormonism as to try to make it look evangelical. Here's the correspondence. (HT: Plaidman!)
Evangelical Apostasy (Part 2)
06/02/2007 - James WhiteThe spin only moves faster as the article continues:
Besides, Mormon beliefs are not as un-evangelical as most evangelicals think. Unlike Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons hold firmly to the deity of Christ. For Latter-Day Saints, Jesus is not only the Son of God but also God the Son. Evangelical pollster George Barna found in 2001 that while only 33 percent of American Catholics, Lutherans, and Methodists agreed that Jesus was "without sin," Mormons were among the "most likely" to say that Jesus was sinless.This is again simply dishonest at its best. There is no excuse for this. Millet knows what he is doing; whether McDermott does I have no idea; and the editors of Post-Christianity Today show about as much insight and discernment as Eerdmans, so one can never assume any serious study of LDS theology there. What can possibly be more un-evangelical than the idea of polytheism and that God became a god by obedience to law? As I said, Muhammad is more "evangelical" than Joseph Smith, and that shows the absurdity of this abuse of language.
It is dishonest to say "Unlike Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons hold firmly to the deity of Christ." Why? Because Jehovah's Witnesses are unitarian henotheists, while Mormons are polytheists, so the comparison is invalid. And it is clearly Millet's intention here (or Millet/McDermott or however the authorship was handled) to communicate that Mormons believe in the "deity of Christ" in an evangelical sense. They do not! Christians believe in the deity of Christ, but as monotheists, that makes the deity of Christ utterly unique! The one true God, creator of all things, entered into His own creation. This is the Incarnation. But Mormonism has no Creator to begin with; "incarnations" may have taken place billions of times in the past in the endless universes that existed prior to ours; the "deity" of Christ is simply not unique (nor could it be, given their view of god, men, and angels, all being of the same species). Folks, believing Jesus is a god like billions of others is not "better" than simply denying His deity as Jehovah's Witnesses do! This is pure gamesmanship, and the idea that this is appearing in the flagship publication of post-evangelicalism is only further documentation of the utter lack of discernment to be found therein any longer.
"For Latter-Day Saints, Jesus is not only the Son of God but also God the Son." The first born spirit child of an exalted man from another planet, himself the offspring of an even more remote exalted man, etc., who is then brought into mortality through the natural union of Elohim, in a physical body of flesh and bone, with his spiritual daughter, Mary, hence "the only begotten of the Father in the flesh" is "God the Son"? Another gross abuse of language, for, what "Son of God" and "God the Son" means to a Christian Trinitarian is light years removed from what it means to a Mormon! Millet knows this, so to include this kind of language in this context is deceptive, plain and simple.
Finally, the very citation of a Barna poll while intentionally hiding the plain statements of LDS leaders promoting polytheism and the idea that God was once a man who lived on another planet and that men today (sinners, aren't they?) can become gods (which would men there are gods who were once sinners, yes?) is just more of the sleight-of-hand that Millet is promoting with the willing aid of men like Mouw, McDermott, and, seemingly, the large proportion of post-evangelical media outlets like Post-Christianity Today and Eerdmans.
But this insulting display of "lets hope no one out there has actually paid any attention to what LDS leaders have been saying since the days of Joseph Smith" is not finished. Oh no. There is more to come. Obviously assuming a level of knowledge of the great doctrines of justification by faith and the atoning work of Christ just above the level of one's shoelaces, and a complete ignorance of the contents of the Book of Mormon, our writers opine,
Most evangelicals would also be surprised to learn that the Book of Mormon contains passages that teach salvation by the merits and grace of Christ ( "There is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah" 2 Nephi 2:8) and others that require personal trust in Christ for salvation, such as 1 Nephi 10:4-6: "All mankind were in a lost and in a fallen state, and ever would be save they should rely on this Redeemer."Compare these with the citations already given from the BoM, as well as the definition of grace cited from the official LDS Bible Dictionary, and you will see that someone is trying to sell you a used car at a new car price. Join this with even the slightest familiarity with the writings of LDS Church leaders down through the history of the church, in which they attack the gospel with ferocity, and one cannot help but experiencing some level of anger at the level of deception found here. To try to palm the BoM's confused soteriology as "evangelical" is one thing; to ignore the fact that the BoM was written long before Smith actually developed his view of exaltation to godhood, and hence, is basically irrelevant to the full and mature theology of the later portions of the D&C is even worse. This kind of cherry-picking of the BoM is easily done. No serious scholar would give it a second thought, however, in light of the development of Smith's theology between 1830 and 1844. This kind of facile salesmanship is reprehensible and insulting. Any serious reader who picks up the D&C, the PGP, and a copy of Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith will not fail to recognize the deceit. What does Millet expect to accomplish with this kind of rhetoric? I cannot tell, but, evidently, it seems to be working well. ...
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Evangelical Apostasy (Part 1)
06/01/2007 - James WhiteFolks, please read this series, even if you live out East where Mormonism is not that big an "issue." The complicit cooperation of alleged "evangelicals" in deceiving Christians about the nature of Mormonism represents a trend relevant to all sorts of apologetics issues today. Read on!
I have been presenting the statements of LDS leaders (not current BYU academics, but the apostles and prophets of the LDS church across the century and a half of its existence) regarding the fundamental difference between Mormonism and Christianity: Christianity is unalterably monotheistic, believing in one eternal God, Creator of all things. Mormonism denies this foundational truth, knowingly and purposefully, instead teaching a rank form of polytheism (which they prefer to dub "the plurality of gods"), wherein god and man are of the same "species," just at different points along the spectrum of exaltation. This is not just a "doctrinal difference." In many ways, Islam is foundationally closer to Christianity than Mormonism is. Did you catch that? Evidently the vast majority of right-wing politicos who wish to court the "evangelical vote" have missed that statement, or reject it out of hand, but facts are facts.
Now, I have not commented on Mitt Romney's politics. I have no interest in distracting people with getting involved in promoting or opposing Romney's candidacy. My point is simple: when discussing Mormonism, at least have the honesty to represent it truthfully. Don't spin it. Don't lie about it. Don't dodge it. Let it speak for itself. In my opinion, a very small percentage of current office holders in the United States are actually believers in the first place. In most races, you are voting for unbelievers--they are the only choices. Sadly, many claim to be "Christians" but have no concept of the faith or the demands of the Lordship of Christ. So if you are comfortable voting for a pure pagan, why not a polytheist? I do have a concern, however, over whether Romney will have the honesty to actually admit to the teachings of the LDS faith (he surely cannot claim ignorance of them). But that is another issue.
We have documented on this site many times the apostasy of post-evangelicals regarding the abandonment of the uniqueness of the Christian gospel in reference to Roman Catholicism. Many who parade under the "evangelical" banner have no problems abandoning justification by faith and the perfection of the work of Christ so as to hold hands with Rome, and when John Paul II died, this tendency exploded before our eyes in cascades of praise and the immediate confession of the Pope's entrance into paradise itself. Likewise, Beckwith's return to Rome has revealed that the number of those professing the gospel to be definitional of the Christian faith continues to plummet in the ranks of post-evangelicalism.
Likewise, even Trinitarian heresy is forgivable as long as you can sing (PC&D) or preach loudly while wearing Armani (Jakes). But since Oneness heresies only impact the primary area of Trinitarian theology that most post-evangelicals do not understand anyway (the relationship of the divine persons), they've generally been given a "pass." Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses, up until recently, have been universally recognized as being cultic, thoroughly opposed to orthodox Christian faith, and outside Christian fellowship.
But over the past decades, as Mormons have sought to main-stream, some in evangelicalism have been more than willing to assist in the cause. Most famous among them is Fuller Theological Seminary President Richard Mouw. Through his influence, many others have been drawn into the "dialogue" with Mormonism. Of course, I am all for dialogue: we should be calling all Mormons to repent of the idolatry of worshiping an exalted man who lives on a planet that circles a star named Kolob (Abraham 3:9-10) and embrace the living and true God through faith in the true Jesus Christ. I have engaged in that kind of dialogue for decades myself. This is a far cry from the "lets sit around and share our experiences" "dialogue" that has become popular today. Mormonism has no place at the table of Christian dialogue, anymore than the prophets of Baal had place to "discuss our similarities and differences" with Elijah. The Holy Spirit said it well, "However at that time, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those which by nature are no gods" (Gal. 4:8). That does not say, "at that time, you sorta knew God, but sorta didn't, and were slaves to those which by nature are not as accurately to be called gods as we would like." You do not show God's love to those trapped in idolatrous religion by nudging them a bit "closer" to the truth, hoping that in a few generations they will be "close enough."
Today I was sent a URL by Randy Brandt to an article in the publication that should be called "What Parades as Christianity Today." And once again we find Robert Millet, the Academic Apostle of Mormonism, Eerdmans author, and general sales-person of Mormonism to a completely non-discerning post-evangelical world, writing in such a fashion as to promote his faith. The article is titled:
Can conservative Protestants vote for a member of what they consider a cult?
Robert Millet and Gerald McDermott
The refrains are the same, but why should they not be? Obviously the chant is working. Repetition seems to be working. But what truly concerns me here is the abject dishonesty of this article. Yes, simple dishonesty. Anyone who knows the truth can see it, but, evidently, Millet (and McDermott?) are hoping those who know better are a small enough group to be avoided. Note their words,
But evangelicals are reluctant to vote for a Mormon. Historically, evangelicals and Mormons have demonized each other. Evangelicals consider the Church of Latter-day Saints to be a cult and typically think Mormons are not real Christians.Demonized? If you mean the Mormon leadership has proclaimed the LDS Church the one true church on earth and denounced Christian doctrine, quite true. And if you mean that some calling themselves Christians have written horribly flawed, inaccurate, despicable about Mormonism, quite true. But I am personally sick and tired of the Millets and Mouws of the world pretending to speak for me. I have bent over backwards to speak the truth about Mormonism, both in representing it, and in presenting the truths of the Christian faith in response to it. It is not to "demonize" to say "Mormonism is a false religion with a false god, false savior, and a false gospel, founded by a false prophet," if, in fact, you can demonstrate, clearly, the truthfulness of each element of such a statement!
Is a Christian a monotheist? The answer to that question from every possible viewpoint is a resounding "yes." There is no more basic, foundational confession for the Christian faith than "there is one true, eternal God." And there is likewise nothing disputable about the fact that Mormonism denies this very truth. So no matter how strongly one may wish it were otherwise, Mormonism is, by definition, a religion other than Christianity, and unalterably opposed thereto. I personally respect the Mormon who is open about this. I do not respect the Mormon who tries to hide this fact, though he knows, sitting in the Celestial Room of the temple in his full temple regalia, that his religion is opposed to mine (and if you don't know what I am talking about, you don't know a lot about Mormonism).
Evangelicals accuse Mormons of adding new revelation (the Book of Mormon) to the Bible. They think Mormons teach that humans are saved by good works rather than by Jesus Christ, and that humans are of the same species as Jesus and can someday attain his status. In addition, evangelicals say, Mormons reject key Christian doctrines such as the Trinity and creatio ex nihilo (God creating the world out of nothing).This is where the dishonesty switches into high gear, and if this in any way represents the upcoming publication written by Millet and McDermott, yet another major theological and apologetic disaster is waiting to go to press. Let's correct the spin and speak the truth: ...
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Mormonism 101: Second Level Statements: The King Follett Discourse (#3)
06/01/2007 - James WhiteLearning to be a God
Smith's attempts to defend this doctrine from the Bible are enlightening with reference to his claimed abilities as a Scriptural exegete, but we must pass over them lightly at this point, since we have much material yet to admit into evidence before getting to an evaluation of these claims.
The Scriptures inform us that Jesus said, As the Father hath power in Himself, even so hath the Son power to do what? Why, what the Father did. The answer is obvious in a manner to lay down His body and take it up again. Jesus, what are you going to do? To lay down my life as my Father did, and take it up again. Do we believe it? If you do not believe it, you do not believe the Bible. The Scriptures say it, and I defy all the learning and wisdom and all the combined powers of earth and hell together to refute it.This is followed by another striking proclamation:
Here, then, is eternal life--to know the only wise and true God; and you have got to learn how to be Gods yourselves, and to be kings and priests to God, the same as all Gods have done before you, namely, by going from one small degree to another, and from a small capacity to a great one; from grace to grace, from exaltation to exaltation, until you attain to the resurrection of the dead, and are able to dwell in everlasting burnings, and to sit in glory, as do those who sit enthroned in everlasting power. And I want you to know that God, in the last days, while certain individuals are proclaiming his name, is not trifling with you or me.
It is certainly difficult to avoid getting Joseph Smith's point loud and clear. You have got to learn how to be Gods yourselves . . . the same as all Gods have done before you is an amazing claim. And here we are given a glimpse into the concept of exaltation, which is defined as going from one small degree to another, and from a small capacity to a great one. The promised end is to sit in glory, as do those who sit enthroned in everlasting power. Again we see the driving force: the exaltation of man to the highest categories.
I remind the reader that Smith was here preaching a funeral sermon that was combined with the Conference of the Church. He continues on to speak of how these glorious truths are helpful in consoling those who have lost a loved one, for, he goes on to say,
. . . 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 is it? To inherit the same power, the same glory and the same exaltation, until you arrive at the station of a God, and ascend the throne of eternal power, the same as those who have gone before. What did Jesus do? Why; I do the things I saw my Father do when worlds come rolling into existence. My Father worked out his kingdom with fear and trembling, and I must do the same; and when I get my kingdom, I shall present it to my Father, so that he may obtain kingdom upon kingdom, and it will exalt him in glory. He will then take a higher exaltation, and I will take his place, and thereby become exalted myself. So that Jesus treads in the tracks of his Father, and inherits what God did before; and God is thus glorified and exalted in the salvation and exaltation of all his children. It is plain beyond disputation, and you thus learn some of the first principles of the Gospel, about which so much hath been said.
The same themes are again struck here, with the emphasis upon the progression, in almost train-track fashion, whereby one persons exaltation adds to those above on the ladder, and so forth. We note the words, To inherit the same power, the same glory and the same exaltation, until you arrive at the station of a God, and ascend the throne of eternal power, the same as those who have gone before. The idea of men becoming Gods here results in the plain (and necessary) assertion of polytheism, for we hear Smith speaking of those who have gone before.
When you climb up a ladder, you must begin at the bottom, and ascend step by step, until you arrive at the top; and so it is with the principles of the Gospel--you must begin with the first, and go on until you learn all the principles of exaltation. But it will be a great while after you have passed through the veil before you will have learned them. It is not all to be comprehended in this world; it will be a great work to learn our salvation and exaltation even beyond the grave.
 Most Mormons dislike the term polytheism due to its connections with paganism and the like. However, the term is most appropriate, especially in this context, where the phrase plurality of gods hardly does justice to the concepts here enunciated. We also note the fascinating use of the phrase Christian polytheist by BYU professor Eugene England in a fairly recent issue of BYU Studies, Summer 1989, 29:3, p. 33:
He begins his discussion with a quotation from 1 Corinthians 8:5-6: There be gods many and lords many. But to us there is but one God the Father. Despite the context of this scripture--a discussion by Paul of belief in idols--Brigham Young, B. H. Roberts, Joseph Fielding Smith, and many others have used it as a brief explanation of how it is possible to be both a Christian polytheist (technically a henotheist) and a monotheist: how we can talk sometimes in an adventuresome mode about multiple orders of godhood, and how we can consider the advanced spheres that exist in the infinities, and yet at the same time, without contradiction, we can talk in a worshipful mode about our one God and his perfect knowledge and supreme redemptive power in the sphere of our world.
Likewise, Donl Peterson and Charles Tate, The Pearl of Great Price: Revelations From God, (Religious Studies Center Monograph Series, Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1989), p.102, interestingly note:
Mormonism is simultaneously monotheistic, tri-theistic, and polytheistic. There is but one God, yet there is a Godhead of three, and beyond them, gods many, and lords many (1 Cor. 8:5). But regardless of the multiplicity of personages bearing divine titles, they are one in that priesthood which governs throughout the eternities.
 Ibid., p. 348. Italics in printed edition.