Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
The "Real" Paul Owen
05/09/2005 - James WhiteI have mentioned the fact that the person Paul Owen is in writing an article, for example, is not the person he is in "regular life" when interacting, especially, with those he considers non-scholars. The posting of the previous two articles, which I intended to be the end as far as my time currently allows, has led Owen to correct his first article's rather odd misspelling of Millet's name. I know my own original post was lacking some apostrophes and a few spaces between words, but that was due to the random activity created by inserting from html saved by Microsoft Word into my blog software, so I can blame Bill Gates! Quite a different thing than smugly sitting there talking about how familiar you are with all these LDS scholars and then misspelling Millet's name consistently throughout your article. But beyond this, we have also been given an opportunity to see the "real" Owen in the comments he left, anonymously, sort of, on Dustin Curlee's blog regarding this same issue. As I simply do not have time to go into depth, I must be brief. Note the patented and trademarked attitude of Paul Owen when speaking to his "lessers":
In your rush to judgment on Eerdmans--which will only serve to give certain internet personalities more controversies to jibber jabber about--you have spoken inaccurately on many levels.Hi, I'm Mr. Certain Internet Personality, but you can call me "Dot" for short.
By speaking in such a manner, you simply reveal your own bad motives, and the fact that many professing Christians in the apologetics community simply like to fight about things, usually from a posture of profound ignorance.I have really come to the conclusion that Paul Owen believes anyone who disagrees with him about these issues is just "profoundly ignorant" and if everyone was just as smart as he is, all would be well and everyone would agree...with him. His dislike of the "apologetics community" has been self-evident for years now, and as far as I can tell, he has not left a single bridge standing to it, either.
4. Like others who are presently shooting their mouths off on the internet, you do not appear to have a very good grasp of Mormon theology:Speaks for itself.
1) Mormons do not call the Son a "mere creature." They believe he is God the eternal creator.Eternal in the Mormon sense, and then only as one who is "sent" by his Father, Elohim, an exalted man, to "organize" pre-existing matter in the company of Michael the Archangel! And that is part of the LDS Temple ceremonies! "Eternal" does not mean, in Mormonism, what it means in Christianity (a fact Owen well knows). The Son is "God" only derivatively, and "God" is more a position than anything else, a position of exaltation, once again, utterly different than Christianity. And Christ "created" nothing: He organized pre-existing matter, and was sent to do so by Elohim and accompanied in his task by Michael (contra Isa. 44:24). Owen knows this. This is simply deceptive on his part. One truly begins to wonder about a "former Mormon" who gains a position in a non-LDS school who then begins to spread falsehoods about what Mormonism actually teaches so as to aid their attempted mainstreaming within evangelicalism.
2) The fact that Mormons view Jesus as the Spirit-brother of Lucifer is rather insignificant, when understood within the broader Mormon ontology. For Mormons, all personal beings have the same kind of nature, though not the same powers, nor status. Lucifer is the same kind of being as we are in LDS theology, though more powerful. So for the LDS, it is no more blasphemous to call Jesus the brother of Lucifer than it is for the author of Hebrews to call Jesus our brother (2:11-14).Which goes to prove exactly what: that Mormonism is not Christianity! Since it is blasphemous, to the extreme, to identify Jesus as the spirit brother of His own creation in the true faith, but it is "rather insignificant" in Mormonism, common sense tells you what? Fill in the blank.
Is it blasphemous to say that Jesus has a human nature? Of course not. Then, if Lucifer were to have the same kind of nature as us (as in LDS theology), then it would not be blasphemous to say that Jesus and Lucifer are brothers.Once again, this sounds like the kind of argument we have dealt with from LDS apologists for years. Yes, Jesus had a human nature, as a result of the incarnation. But the blasphemy of the Mormon position is not that Jesus is the spirit-brother of Lucifer because of the incarnation to begin with! The blasphemy is that Jesus is the spirit brother of Lucifer ontologically from the time of his pre-mortal birth to an exalted man from another planet! Once again, given that Owen is, by his own repeated assertion, a credentialed scholar of the highest rank, he knows this, and hence has not the slightest excuse for this horrific form of false argumentation and deceptive teaching.
Critics of the LDS simply bring this up for the "shock value," with no intention of accurately representing the Mormon view. Their view may well be wrong, but it is not absurd, nor is it blasphemous, given their ontology.Ah, gotta get the shot in at the "critics of Mormonism." Isn't it comforting to know that Montreat College is free of critics of Mormonism?
3) Contrary to the assumptions underlying your unqualified criticisms of LDS views on God and deification, the teachings of the King Follett sermon are not official Mormon doctrine.I addressed this in Is the Mormon My Brother? rather fully. The fact is that if you were to do a survey of the non-inspired writings of the LDS leaders from, say 1880 to 1980 (make it an even century) and you were to simply collate the citations of Joseph Smith's words outside of the BoM and D&C, the King Follet Discourse would be the single most cited teaching of Joseph Smith, period. There really is no question about this. Once again, Owen fulfills the role of "non-LDS neo-orthodox Mormon apologist" by repeating the neo-orthodox party line.
Sorry that some critics of the Mormon Church can't seem to get that through their skulls. There is a difference between widely held beliefs and official teachings of the Church.Yeah, none of us are as bright as Paul, but despite that, I managed to present an entire chapter on how to determine the levels of authority in LDS pronouncements. The fact is Owen knows there are different views in Mormonism and he also well knows he is presenting only the view of the BYU scholarship and not the view of past LDS prophets (he considers them irrelevant anyway). But, if you disagree with him, well, it's due to your lower IQ.
The LDS do not have any official doctrinal understanding of deification which demands consent. Official doctrines are found only in the LDS Scriptures, and in official position statements of the First Presidency (not in the Journal of Discourses, Joseph Smith's sermons, Sunday School materials, or anything else of that nature).Again, those familiar with LDS writings know this is one view, a modern view, a view pretty much unknown from the pulpit of the General Conference throughout the first 150 years of the LDS Church, one that is highly arguable, one that leaves one wondering just what "latter-day revelation" is all about, etc. and etc., but, we are assured, it is the only way to understand Mormonism because, of course, Paul Owen says so. Simply amazing.
Many Mormons reject the idea that there was ever a time before God "became" divine, and they are well within the doctrinal parameters of the Church in doing so.I.e., Owen is now claiming that you can reject Joseph Smith's own teaching that God has not eternally been God and remain a good, believing Mormon. Could a person openly teach that from the pulpit in General Conference today? I do not believe so. In twenty years? Maybe. We don't know. But the fact of the matter is, it has been the core of the teaching of Mormonism since 1844. Nothing in Mormonism, including all the temple ordinances, etc., makes any sense without it. Note what Owen is doing. "Hey, it is possible, if you keep your head low, that you might be able to be a little bit less heretical and polytheistic than is the norm in Mormonism. Isn't that great! Let's publish more of this from Eerdmans!"
In conclusion, I am sorry that you (along with other lightning rod internet personalities) have chosen to issue a knee jerk reaction to the publication of Dr. Millet's book.Just call me Sparky. Sparky Dot.
I'm sorry that you are incapable of seeing the value of exposing Christians to a broader spectrum of theological vision within the Mormon religion than many are presently familiar with.Yes indeed, all Christians need to be exposed to neo-orthodox Mormonism, and why didn't Baker or Zondervan get on this before Eerdmans? Will Owen lead the charge to have neo-orthodox Islam or maybe some new form of Hinduism on the shelves of Christian bookstores next? Evidently I'm just one of those "incapable" of seeing the value of this.
And I am sorry that you choose to continue down the path of reactionary, emotional and inaccurate responses to the LDS, and to cling hysterically to straw men, rather than take the time to understand the LDS in their own terms, and constructively talk (and yes, "witness") to them on the basis of accurate information, rather than the caricatures and pathetic oversimplifications which fill the shelves of the "cults" sections of our Christian bookstores.Honestly, if you did not know that this did not usher forth from the halls of BYU itself, would you think this was anything other than a comment in a FARMS publication rather than the words of a "Presbyterian scholar"? No wonder Owen has been the favorite "scholar" of Mormonism for years. When he's on your side, why not? His broad-brushing the entirety of the apologetics community while failing to distinguish between the good and the bad is indicative of an agenda that is now coming to full light.
Now, Owen did not sign his comment, but everyone knew who it was who was commenting, and Owen himself, in his second set of comments, said "I forgot to sign my name at the end of the post." So, there really isn't any question as to who we are addressing here.
Christians are often very closed-minded in the sense that they have already made up their minds what Mormons believe, without actually listening to them.Quite true. I invite anyone to read Is the Mormon My Brother? and see who has been listening. What needs to be understood here is that Owen is again speaking a partial truth: no one has argued that Millet's views, and Robinson's views, should not be addressed (I sure have addressed them, as have all others who are serious about speaking the truth); the point is that 1) they are not the leaders of Mormonism, and there are still plenty of Mormons who believe orthodox Mormonism, and 2) none of this is even slightly relevant to having Eerdmans publish a book that is already, for all intents and purposes, in print from Deseret Book. It is not like the Mormons lack the technology to print their own material.
but accepting the fact that actual Mormon beliefs often do not correspond to the simplistic straw men which are built up and torn down by Evangelical "apologists."And yet another bridge goes up in smoke.
I am merely pointing out that in doing so, you are simply demonstrating your ignorance of the subject matter to those of us who specialize in the field of Mormon studies. Get over it.Try saying that in a real snooty British accent and it helps remove the edge, it really does.
Mormons strive to worship the God of the Bible, and intend to worship the biblical Jesus. Unfortunately, their religious worship is hindered by some very serious theological errors which at the present time place the LDS Church outside the pale of acceptable Christian orthodoxy. The problem is not that they worship the wrong God, or the wrong Jesus, but that they do not worship God "in spirit and in truth" (John 4:24). The Mormons, like the Samaritans of old, worship "what [they] do not know" (4:22). Like the Jews, they have a zeal for God (obviously, the true God), but not in accordance with knowledge (Rom. 10:2).This viewpoint needs to be understood. Let's move Mormonism aside for a moment. Let's apply this to a clearly biblical example. Let's use the neo-gnostic docetists about whom John wrote. You see, they claimed to follow Jesus. They claimed to worship God. They had even known the apostles and had been saved under their ministry! They had been leaders in the church, but you see, the church "apostatized" and now they were holding for the "true" beliefs that the now apostate church had abandoned. But, they were striving to worship the God of the Bible, and they intend to worship the biblical Jesus. It is just "unfortunate" that their religious worship is "hindered" by some very serious (but not damning---they can still be regenerate) theological errors which at the present time place them outside the pale of acceptable Christian orthodoxy, but, we need to really encourage them to keep making steps to go the right direction, so that maybe, in a few generations, they will slip across that line and become "acceptable" if not fully Reformational. Don't get us wrong, they are not worshipping the wrong God---as long as you are sincere, you must be worshipping the true God, since, of course, you say you are, and honesty is all there is to it. And though they deny the incarnation of Christ, they still have the right Jesus, because they say they do, see?" And so on and so forth. Owen says Mormons have a zeal for the true God: again, remember, he has pretty well dismissed Mormon orthodoxy as irrelevant, and defines Mormonism solely on the basis of the newly emerging BYU neo-orthodoxy, but that still involves the denial of monotheism, true eternality, and continues to include D&C 130:22 which states God has a physical body of flesh and bones.
Owen closes with:
Sorry that it is so difficult for you to accept a bit of nuance and extend a measure of Christian charity to our Mormon friends in discussing these issues. I will leave it up to God to judge who has offered a better witness of God's grace to the Mormon people.Is it truly showing love for the LDS people to so completely compromise the Christian faith as to make its very foundations mere points of "discussion"? Is it truly loving to throw the apostolic example out the window and in essence say, "OK, all major Christian denominations since the inception of Mormonism have, in fact, been wrong to deny to the Mormons the fellowship that I offer to them. They can, in fact, be heirs of grace without abandoning their views, and you can worship an exalted man who lives in a body of flesh and bones on a planet that circles a star named Kolob and that is acceptable Christian worship---just not as orthodox as we would like, and still outside the 'pale,' but only in a formal sense, and not itself a hindrance to eternal life"? Is that showing them love? I say it is not. I say it is showing gross disrespect to God's truth, to God's people, to Christ's Church, and to the Mormon people who need a clarion call to repent of their idolatry and turn to the true and the living God, the true Jesus Christ, and the gospel of grace that alone can save.