Robert Millet’s presentation on the 11/27 episode of Faith Under Fire was truly an excellent example of the “modern” Mormon viewpoint that is actively seeking to shift the emphasis that had existed in Mormon theology from the last days of Joseph Smith all the way through Joseph Fielding Smith and Bruce R. McConkie. Those familiar with the sermons and teachings of Brigham Young and the early LDS prophets and Apostles (such as those represented by the 26 volumes of the Journal of Discourses) all the way through such monumental works as Articles of Faith and Jesus the Christ (James Talmage) into such modern works as A Marvelous Work and a Wonder (LeGrand Richards), Doctrines of Salvation (Joseph Fielding Smith) and Mormon Doctrine (Bruce R. McConkie) know well the centrality of the King Follet Funeral Discourse in which Joseph Smith said:
I will prove that the world is wrong, by showing what God is. I am going to enquire after God; for I want you all to know him, and to be familiar with him; and if I am bringing you to a knowledge of him, all persecutions against me ought to cease. You will then know that I am his servant; for I speak as one having authority. I will go back to the beginning before the world was, to show what kind of being God is. What sort of a being was God in the beginning? Open your ears and hear, all ye ends of the earth, for I am going to prove it to you by the Bible, and to tell you the designs of God in relation to the human race, and why He interferes with the affairs of 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. 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.
These are incomprehensible ideas to some, but they are simple. It is the first principle of the Gospel to know for a certainty the Character of God, and to know that we may converse with him as one man converses with another, and that he was once a man like us; yea, that God himself, the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth, the same as Jesus Christ himself did; and I will show it from the Bible.
Millet, however, following the lead of the current LDS prophet, Gordon Hinckley, wishes outsiders to believe that this teaching of Smith is not really central to the Mormon faith. Yet, the fact of the matter is, when you look at the writings of the Church itself over the past fifty years you will find that there is no statement of Joseph Smith cited more often by the LDS Church itself than the words he uttered in that very sermon. How odd, then, to hear a BYU scholar saying they don’t really know a lot about what Joseph Smith said was â€œthe first principle of the gospelâ€! Every single Mormon who received his or her theological education prior to, say, 1990, well knows that Millet, and all those who likewise are quite hesitant to affirm what their religion has unabashedly taught for over a century, are simply not telling the whole truth. They are fudging. The evidence is beyond question.
As I had predicted, there was surely not enough time to even touch on the issues, but Greg Johnson gave an acceptable account of himself (I would have lent him a Rush tie had he asked for one!).
In the other segment of most interest to me, that of Shabir Ally vs. Michael Licona, we heard the same old, oft-refuted arguments from Ally. Some may wonder why Licona went the direction he did. I understood his reasoning. Ally is known for using “liberal” writings and positions against apologists, and sadly, many apologists do not know how to respond to that approach. Licona obviously knew where Ally would go, and headed him off at the pass, basically, tailoring his approach to be the most difficult for Ally to respond to. Obviously, I would love to have seen the segment last much longer, but such is the constraints of network television in America today.