Thank you for your kind and thoughtful response to my email. Remember that our entire doctrine is founded on the interpretation that Jesus Christ is the literal Son of God the Father. We reject the Nicaean Creed and the non-biblical concept of the Trinity (non-biblical word) as a 4th-century fabrication. We do believe in the Bible's teaching of the God Head which is comprised of God the Father and The Son Jesus Christ; both with tangible, perfect, glorified, bodies of flesh and bone (no blood), parts, and righteous passions. The Holy Ghost is a personage of spirit whose image is in the likeness of a man which is in the express image and likeness of God. These 3 beings are 1 in purpose, but we only pray to and worship God the Father in the name of Jesus Christ. We do not pray to or worship Jesus and we do not pray to or worship the Holy Ghost. We interpret the "God is spirit" verse figuratively because the Bible speaks of God's corporeal nature in nearly every other instance.
I am happy to say that it is LDS doctrine that God is an infinite being, dynamic, omnipotent and omniscient (Mosiah 4:5-10). If fact, LDS doctrine teaches that God really is aware and concerned with the intimate and mundane details of our lives (Alma 24:17-28), We do not subscribe to the clockmaker, Deist, Rabbi Kushner theory that God wound up the universe like a clock and things happen randomly to people and its not God, its just random chance whatever bad or good happened to you. God does allow for the free expression of our agency and the resultant consequences but I agree with Einstein that "God does not play dice with the universe." The rain does fall on the righteous and the unrighteous alike, but it is God that causes the rain. Also, we believe that God is so powerful, he has the power to exalt his children. Can you think of a greater love than to share all you have with everyone? Not possible you say? Doesn't the Bible teach that all things are possible? Now who really believes the Bible?
On the subject of God and the Laws of the Universe; we do not place God in opposition with Laws. This is not an issue with X>Y or Y>X. We believe that X=Y. Since God has always existed and we also believe that Law has always existed. God is co-eternal with law and law is co-existent with God. It is the perfect understanding and obedience to Law that makes God omnipotent. Remember that laws do not limit us, they make us free. God created the laws of the universe in the sense that he organized and created the heavens and the Earth. But this obviously comes down to a misunderstanding on another doctrine about creation and the LDS doctrine of eternity and that laws and man were and are co-existent with God. Also, we feel "main-stream" christianity misinterprets 2 scriptures (Col. 1: 17, 2 Cor. 4: 18) to somehow mean that the opposite of created is eternal and visa versa. If this were true than man, a created being, could never become eternal and inherit eternal life. Please read the following post for more on this: http://ldsdoctrine.blogspot.com/2007/03/creation-from-nothing-or-organized.html. There is no scripture that I am aware of that says that God is uncreated despite what the creeds have added and subtracted.
"If I can "become" an adult, that means I was not "always" an adult." The Bible does not use the word "god" in the adult vs. child sense. The Bible refers to all mankind as gods and children of god. Ps. 82: 6 "I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High." Gods and children of god is what we are. If God were synonomous with adult and man with child then it would be redundant for the Bible to continually refer to God as "God the Father" and to man as "children of God." To us, saying we are gods is like saying we are human. It defines what we are in relation to everything else in the universe. Man was co-existent with God yet also created in the express image and likeness of God when we were given bodies and the god-like ability to be fathers and mothers. Because it is parenthood that distinguishes us from God. He is our Spiritual Father and we are his spiritual offspring. The Bible distinguishes God the Father from mankind on the basis of his Fatherhood and not his Godhood (Gen. 3: 22). It could be said that parenthood must be part of the "good" that Adam and Eve learned after partaking of the fruit.
In review, LDS doctrine and the teachings of the Bible seamlessly mesh in my mind and heart. It makes both logical sense to my mind and feels right to my heart. The Bible talks about Christ being the Son of God and Stephen seeing the corporeal Christ standing at the right hand of the Father. The Bible talks about Christ doing nothing but what he has seen the Father do and doing nothing but the will of the Father in all things. The Bible accounts Christ praying for his Apostles that they be one in purpose as he is one in purpose with the Father. Its the Bible that tells us that we can become "join-heirs with Christ" and "heirs of God" (Rom. 8: 17). The Bible teaches us to be perfect as the Father is perfect, to be holy as the Father is holy, and promises us through the Atonement of Christ that mankind can gain Eternal Life which is to know God. We interpret "knowing God" to mean more than just being acquainted with him. We will only really know him when we are like him and do the things he does (1 Jn. 3: 2).
On several other common misunderstandings:
We do not believe that God the Father and Satan are brothers. We believe that Jehovah (Jesus Christ, the Son of God) and Lucifer were spirit brothers. Lucifer (son of the morning) is our spirit brother who fell from heaven for rebellion at the grand heavenly council, where we were present and "shouted for joy" and overcame Satan by our love, faith, and testimony for Christ. Rev. 12: 11 "And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death." Those who overcame are those angels who kept their first estate. Jude 1: 6 "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."
Also, it is not LDS doctrine that we can somehow save ourselves by works. This faith vs. works debate is a false dichotomy. Both are necessary. We do baptize, and have temple ordinances like eternal marriage which are technically necessary for exaltation but there is nothing in our doctrine which says that you are automatically exalted by doing these things. After the baptism of water you must be baptized by fire and the reception of the Spirit. That's why when the Holy Ghost is confirmed upon a believer they are invited to "receive the Holy Ghost," which is dependent upon ones faith and continued belief. Unfortunately, there will be many LDS that will have fallen from God's grace. Also, marriages must be sealed by that same Spirit which we call the sealing by "the holy spirit of promise." There is nothing about a temple marriage that would force a woman who has been abused or neglected by her husband to continue that relationship in the next life. And all of these "works" would be dead and worthless if it wasn't for the Atonement of Christ. Consequently, all of these ordinances are performed in the name of Jesus Christ. Again, we perform ordinances because Christ taught that man must be born or water and of the spirit. And we do vicarious work, by proxy, for the dead to extend these necessary ordinances to the whole human family to be accepted by those who would have been faithful and believed if they had been given the chance during mortality. Baptism for the dead really is one of the most remarkable labors of love by man toward his fellow man. And it really is the perfect answer to the centuries old conflict between faith and works.
David D. Brosnahan MD, MS
Thanks for your email.
Although you say that our web articles show that we "misunderstand many fundamental principles of [LDS] doctrine," the specific alleged misunderstandings you mention seem to be focused on whether the LDS conception of God is of an infinite being. Thus, you assert that LDS doctrine does affirm that God is omnipotent and omniscient. I agree that Mormonism affirms that God is omnipotent, though I'm not sure we agree on what this means. I'm also not sure if you affirm that God is omniscient in the same sense. For example, in your opinion, does God know in advance every choice that we will make in the future? I'm interested in your opinion on this question.
It is incoherent to say that X is subject to Y but that Y is not above X. Therefore, it does not make sense to say that God is subject to laws and principles and yet that those laws and principles are not above God.
You assert that "it is LDS doctrine that God has always been God." That wasn't Joseph Smith's doctrine, though, was it? He explicitly disagreed with that statement in his King Follett Discourse. I don't think you really mean that God has always been God, either, since you then add, "And if you become a god you will likewise rightly be considered to be eternally god." Again, it is incoherent to claim that you can "become" something you "always" were. If I can "become" an adult, that means I was not "always" an adult.
We do our best to understand and describe Mormon doctrines fairly. However, any religion that can claim that God is subject to laws but not under them, or that God became God but has always been God, is too incoherent to describe coherently. If the problem with our web articles on Mormonism is that we did not navigate these internal inconsistencies to your satisfaction, I'm not convinced that the blame rests with us.
In Christ's service,
Manager, Apologetics & Interfaith Evangelism
North American Mission Board
Visit us online at http://www.4truth.net/
Hello, I manage a personal blog on the subject of LDS doctrine at http://ldsdoctrine.blogspot.com. It is clearly evident from reading many of your writings about the LDS church that you misunderstand many fundamental principles of our doctrine. In several of your articles on http://www.4truth.net you attempt to compare and contrast LDS doctrine on God vs. so-called historic christian doctrine.
First off, I would like to explain the fundamental and key pillar of all our understanding of diety. Everything the LDS believe about God rests on our knowledge and literal interpretation of the Bible that Jesus Christ is the literal Son of God the Father. Upon this key doctrine all our other doctrines rest and rely. We believe and testify that Yeshua of Nazareth, born of the virgin Mary at the Meridian of time was the awaited Jewish Messiah, the Anointed One, the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, the Christ, the Savior and Redeemer of Mankind, the Only Begotten Son of God in the Flesh.
But, both the Bible and the Book of Mormon call Jesus Christ, the Father of Heaven and Earth or Emanuel (God With Us). This we interpret figuratively. Jesus Christ is figuratively called the Father for many important reasons. Each of these reasons are critical as they not only reveal to us the true nature of God the Father, they also reveal to us the true nature and eternal destiny of Man. Because isn't that Eternal Life to personally know and understand God the Father? If Christ (A member of the Godhead) came to Earth and recieved all from the Father then, through Christ's Atonement, man can become joint-heirs with him and do likewise.
Jesus Christ is the rightly called the Eternal Father of Heaven and Earth because:
On your website at 4truth.net you characterize our belief in God using the following table:
Personal and corporeal (embodied):
Yes, we do believe God is corporeal. The Bible speaks of Moses talking to God face to face and Stephen seeing the ressurected Jesus Christ standing at the right hand of the Father (even if you interpret this glory, the glory was not eminating from Christ but beside Christ and separate from Him). If we were not to think of God in terms of having parts, then why does the Bible clearly describe Him that way (Rev 1:13). We interpret these literally, while we interpret "God is spirit" figuratively.
The significance of this doctrine is our belief in our pre-mortal existence (Jer. 1: 5). If we lived with God the Father in heaven and came to Earth than what is gained by going through mortality, risking hell, and returning to God is the same state we left (spirits). We would have gained nothing. On Earth we recieve imperfect bodies and like driving school, we must to get our bodies to do the will of the spirit and not alow the flesh to run out-of-control. In the resurrection, we will recieve perfect glorified bodies.
Organizer of the world but subject to the laws and principles of a beginningless universe:
Yes, we believe God is subject to laws and principles. This doesn't place laws above God. God is God because He has perfect obedience and power to utilize the laws of the Universe. But it is obedience to laws and principles of the Universe that makes God God. You know this. Don't we say that rules, laws, and commandments aren't limitations but are directions. The truth makes us free it doesnt bind us down or limit us. This doctrine helps me understand better the nature of commandments and the need for obedience.
Omnipotent vs. Limited in power:
Not true. God is increasing in glory but that does not mean he is not all powerful. God's glory is the exaltation and eternal life of his children. The more children he exalts, the greater is his glory. But this doesnt add to his abililty to exalt us. Other churches do not believe in true Eternal Life. Others do not believe as the Apostolic Fathers (http://ldsdoctrine.blogspot.com/2006/12/early-christian-fathers-on-theosis.html) that true Eternal Life is possible. Others do not believe that God can exalt his children. Who believes in a limited God? The Bible describes God as "The Most High God" a "God of gods" and Christ who will come as "King of kings and Lord of lords." Does it add to God's glory to interpret "God of gods" as to mean a God of fables and idols or to mean that God is the God of children who He will exalt and glorify to be like himself and who will continue to reverence and worship Him as the only God. Our belief in Eternal Life does not diminish God, but it glorifies Him. God the Father will always be our Father and our God and be worshiped as such. Do not criticize us for being the only church that believes that Christ can make Eternal Life and the Perfection of man possible.
Omniscent vs. Increasing in knowledge:
Not true. God is increasing in glory, not knowledge (see above). The concept of eternal progression is an important one in my life and others. It was not surprising when my brother, who got a job right after college, went back to school for his MBA. There is a drive in all of us to grow and progress. Our God possesses all knowledge but continues to increase in glory as more of his spirit children become like him.
Omnipresent vs. being Localized in space:
This is a false dichotomy based on a limited understanding of classical physics. It is very possible through quantum mechanics and relativity for a localized object, expecially if it is made of light, to be everywhere at the same time. Time does not exist for God in the same sense as it does for us. So, although we believe God is localized in space, we do not believe that God's coporeal (pure light) nature limits him from dwelling in us or being Omnipresent. This is also another gross mischaracterization of our beliefs applying classical Newtonian Physics to God.
Unchanging and eternal vs. Changing and not eternal (as God)
False: It is LDS doctrine that God has always been God and has always been Eternal. And if you become a god you will likewise rightly be considered to be eternally god (Ps. 82: 6). We are eternal children of the Eternal God. I don't consider my children sub-human while they are maturing just because they haven't reached adulthood yet. They are always rightly considered human and unchanging in their dynamic process of development. Likewise, the Bible rightly considers all men to be gods (in-embryo). If we continue on the path to exaltation and Eternal Life then we have never changed from our course. God is not a static being but is dynamic and eternally increasing in glory.
Necessary and the only God vs. Contingent and one of many gods
It is LDS Doctrine that God the Father is "The One and Only True God." If you become exalted and gain true eternal life as a god, you would never cease to worship The One and Only True God. We would always continue to worship The God as the Only God eternally. Look at your own family. Your children will cease to consider you their father when they have children and become mothers and fathers. It is LDS Doctrine that man can become like god, but The God, the author of our Eternal Life, will always remain The God and Our God.
David D. Brosnahan MD, MS