Thursday, December 04, 2008

"Those Abominable Creeds", by Ron Huggins

I appreciate the thoughtfulness and effort that Ron Huggins put into this lecture. However, I have a few issues with several of the points of this lecture as it relates to LDS doctrine.

#1 Ron Huggins talks about an evolving view or understanding of the nature of God by Joseph Smith and then uses the Nicene Creed to contrast this to the orthodox view.
A. Yes, I do not doubt that the understanding of Joseph Smith evolved as more of the restoration was unfolded to his view.

B. Most critics of the LDS church point to the several accounts of the First Vision to support the claim that Joseph changed his tune about God. Really, it comes down to the first written account by Joseph Smith of the First Vision where he failed to mention that he had seen 2 separate beings standing next to one another and had seen Jesus Christ standing on the right hand of the Father. However, what is not being said is that the explanation for this omission was not Joseph changing his story but that in relating the experience the first time he was trying to make a parallel between himself and the experience of Paul the Apostle who saw and spoke to Christ only as opposed to Stephen who saw Jesus Christ standing on the right hand of God (which we interpret as referring to God the Father). There could be a myriad of reasons for the omission other than Joseph intentially trying to deceive which Mr Huggins suggests at the end.

C. If anything demonstrates an evolution of thought it is the Nicene Creed. We see its origin in the Creed of Cesarea, and how it changed to become the Nicene Creed of 325, of which there are several versions, which then evolved into the Creed of Nicene-Constantinople 381, and on and on until the modern creeds that are recited in various churches today.

#2 The Lecturer makes a claim that Joseph Smith taught polytheism or henothesism.
A. These terms carry an emotionally-charged meaning which is associated with the worship of many Gods which results in a doctrine that teaches against the existence of absolute truth and righteousness. Because, if there are many Gods, then what is true and what is right depends on which God you are worshiping. Therefore using the words polytheism or henothesim in associating with Joseph Smith as the general public define them today is a very unfair characterization.

B. I think a better term to describe Joseph Smith concept of God is Monolatrism. Monolatrism allows for the existence of other gods, but only allows for the worship and obedience of one God.

C. What Joseph Smith taught is that Our Heavenly Father is God and Jesus Christ is God, that they are 2 separate beings, 2 distinct persons but they constitute One God because they are perfectly unified and one in purpose.

#3 Next the Lecture calls into question the LDS claim that we believe all the Bible and states that for us to get some of our interpretations we are forced to separate words from their meanings.
A. some meaning of words have changed. For instance faith has turned into words without action, hope has turned from an assurance to what happens when your picking lottery numbers, and the word charity has changed meaning from the pure love of Christ to become a can of beans donated to the food pantry.

B. But if anyone has to separate words from their meanings, it is anyone who accepts the trinity doctrine which claims that God is 1 being and 3 persons at the same time.

#4 Next the Lecturer discusses the several Isaiah passages which say there in not God formed before or after Jehovah and that beside Him there is no other God, and there is none like Him.

A. These verses don't exclude monolatrism. LDS interpret these verses in context to mean that there are no other Gods beside Jehovah that will save Israel and that Israel should worship. These verses do not necessarily mean that there are absolutely no other beings in the universe which can be rightly called gods (lowercase g).

B. remember that the Jews and the Arians used these same verses of scripture to deny that Jesus Christ is God.

C. I appreciate the point the lecture makes that if it is the Father speaking in Isaiah then wouldn't he have known about the Son? The heavenly speaker in Isaiah obviously did know that Christ would come and that Christ is also God so we are forced to clarify the meaning in context.

#5 Next he discusses the LDS doctrine that Christ is the First-Born spirit son of God and the only begotten son of God in the flesh.

A. I like the wording of the Creed of Cesarea which states that Jesus Christ is the “first-born of every creature and was begotten before all ages.” LDS also believe that Christ was begotten and not made. But we also believe that man was likewise spiritually begotten and not made. Jesus Christ being the first.

B. But remember that the act of generation and creation is not from nothing, and this fact allows for the Biblical teaching that Jesus Christ is self-existent and has always existed. The opposite of eternal is not created and visa versa. Created and Begotten things can be eternal because create as well as beget is not ex nihlo or from nothing. If this were the case, man who is created, could never become eternal and inherit eternal life.

C. As far as separating meaning from words, LDS believe that Christ was both the first spirit begotten of the Father (not conjured), and that he is also preeminent over all other creations. This is in contrast to the lecture saying that first-born doest necessarily have to mean first.

#6 Mr. Huggins then compares and contrasts the LDS view of God and the orthodox view in terms of 1 Col 1:15-18. He claims that to fit the LDS definition of monolatrism we would have to change the wording of 1 Col 1 to fit our theology or accept that the LDS God is not all-powerful.

A. Actually you don't. Verse 15 reads, “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible” Yes, all things weer created, organized, formed, and arranged for operation in heaven and in earth. This doesn't say as God created all things in all the heavens, it says God created all thing in this heaven and in this earth.

B. I shouldn't make the same mistake. The word “this” before heaven is not in the text any more than the word “all” but this is how LDS interpret it and in doing so, no changes have to be made to the text.

C. Therefore, our God is all-powerful, and all-knowing and if there are other gods of other universes, they would not be more powerful or more knowing than our God.

D. But if you want to compare power and are worried if the LDS doctrine properly elevates God, what good is all that power if God cannot pro-create (figuratively speaking). The LDS concept of God is the living God who is the God of the living and who has power to elevate man to become like him. So, ask yourself, can the God your pastor describes do that? The God of the Bible who Christ called Our Heavenly Father can.

#7 Next the Lecturer talks about the word “homoousios” or God and Christ being one undivided substance, one undivided essence, or the same being.

A. This is the only problem with the Nicene Creed that the LDS take exception with. There isn't an Orthodox Trinitarian believer that can explain how 3 divided persons can be 1 undivided being. In fact many say God is a mystery and it cannot be understood or adequately explained. Most explanations using water, or an egg do a better job describing modalism than they do trinitarianism.

B. LDS believe that God the Father is God, Jesus Christ is God, and the Holy Ghost is God. Together they are One God, but 3 distinct persons, 3 separate beings, with 3 individual wills that are perfectly unified into 1 purpose.

#8 Next Mr. Huggins suggests that LDS doctrine about man being also spiritually begotten as Christ was, cheapens or devalues Christ.
A. This doctrine does not devalue Christ, but only serves to elevate man. And that is what the doctrine of Christ does is to elevate and exalt man. Christ came to raise man from our fallen state to return to God and to help man become like God as He is. Again, a doctrine that elevates man does not devalue God.

B. This doctrine also is important as it relates to how we as humans view other who are not our our faith. Because all mankind are spiritually begotten of the same Heavenly Father we all have the seeds within us to become like God through Christ. And although we must become adopted sons and daughters of Christ to realize this, all mankind have this infinite potential and all are my brothers and sisters. You don't have to be Christian for me to consider you my brother.

#9 The Lecture make a brief statement questioning why if the Book of Mormon were originally written in Reformed Egyptian would we find KJV language in the Book of Mormon.
A. The Ancient American Nephites whose prophets wrote the books in the Book of Mormon came from Jerusalem and spoke Hebrew and wrote it using paleo-Hebrew or Phoenician script. The prophet Mormon makes a comment that they would have used this script to make his abridgment, which constitutes the Book of Mormon, had that plates been larger, but to preserve space, he made the abridgment using reformed Egyptian characters. The language was still Hebrew, but the script or alphabet was Egyptian.

B. God as well as Joseph Smith were well acquainted with the language of the KJV. So when a particular idea was expressed, Joseph was inspired to use KJV language to translate it. This facilitates the reader in comparing verses teaching similar things. When I am reading the Bible and come across a particular phrase, I often times think, ahhh that sounds like something in the Book of Mormon and visa versa and I can then easily look up and compare both passages.

#10 Lastly, the lecturer suggests that Joseph Smith's teachings and LDS doctrine undermines faith in the Bible.
A. Again, as was said by various sources, LDS believe the Bible 100%. There isn't a verse in the Bible that I do not accept. It is the traditional or so-called orthodox interpretations of the Bible that we don't accept.

B. There are many facets of Christian worship that are described in the Bible that are not a part of Evangelical worship. When it comes to these, Evangelicals are forced to say that that aspect of worship ended with Christ or has yet to be instituted leading into the tribulation and the second coming of Christ. In Contrast, the LDS church accepts that the apostasy and restoration of temples, and priesthoods, and proper church organization has already occurred, the LDS find more literal meaning out of more of the Bible than any other Christians.

C. Mr. Huggins criticizes LDS for claiming that some truths have been lost from the Bible. And while he is kindly talking about millstones and drowning people, he seems to ignore the history of the Bible that many books of the Bible could have originally been written in Egyptian, Phonetician, and Aramaic, before being translated in to Classical Hebrew, and that with each translation ambiguity of language can creep into the text. It is also a fact that there are many writings referred to within the Bible itself which are lost. This is in addition to the fact that there are currently thousands of Bible translations. 1 Cor. 9: 14 is quoted 50% of the time to read “Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live the gospel.” and 50% of the time “Should earn a living from the gospel.” That kind of thing is not inconsequential. And there are many similar examples. God has promised that through scripture and His church he would bring us to a unity of the Faith. But what we see from the Bible is a mass of different denominations and non-denominations who all claim to believe the Bible 100% while everyone else is a picker and a chooser. This lack of unity is not due to anything wrong in the Bible but a loss of plainness and unambiguity which God has restored with the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon clarifies the Bible and allows us to interpret its words correctly.

D. But lastly and most importantly Mr. Huggins seems to be urging us that LDS should have more faith in the Bible. But I would invite all Christians to hearken to the Bible and have increased faith in God and Christ and the in the Holy Ghost. The Bible teaches that Christ promised all believers the gift of the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost enables every believer the enjoyment of a personal relationship with God. The Bible points us to God. It invites us to Ask and receive, knock and it will be opened unto us.

And it is through asking God Our Eternal Father in the name of Christ, that God revealed to me through the power and operation of the Holy ghost that God, Our Heavenly Father lives, Jesus is the Christ, that the Book of Mormon is His word together with the Bible, that the Father and the Son appeared to Joseph Smith in the First Vision, and that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is Christs church on the Earth today. And I give my witness and testimony in the Holy name of Jesus Christ Amen.


RJPope said...

David, you said, “Again, as was said by various sources, LDS believe the Bible 100%. There isn't a verse in the Bible that I do not accept. It is the traditional or so-called orthodox interpretations of the Bible that we don't accept”.

I am obviously familiar with this statement from you. However, as you know, I think this is a disingenuous claim (at its very core!). However, maybe I am wrong, Dave. Let’s examine (for a moment) the Biblical picture of God. The Old Testament explains consistently its most revealing conceptions of God in the prophets. The greatest of these conceptions is the confirmation of a one-God belief system; monotheism. The New Testament clearly follows this thought as well. I mean, the Bible IS harmonious with this theology. Do you agree with the following Biblical definitions of God (I can site more obviously)?

Numbers 23:19, "God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?"

Psalms 102:26-27, "They shall perish, but thou shalt endure: yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment; as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed: But thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end."

Isaiah 43:10-11, "Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. I, even I, am the LORD; and beside me there is no saviour."

Isaiah 44:6, "Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God."

Isaiah 44:8, "Fear ye not, neither be afraid: have not I told thee from that time, and have declared it? ye are even my witnesses. Is there a God beside me? yea, there is no God; I know not any."

Isaiah 45:21-22, "Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together: who hath declared this from ancient time? who hath told it from that time? have not I the LORD? and there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me. Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else."

Jeremiah 23:24, "Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the LORD. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the LORD."

Malachi 3:6, "For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed."

John 1:16-18, "And of his fullness have all we received, and grace for grace. For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him."

John 4:24, "God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth."

Romans 1:22, "Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things."

Colossians 1:15, "Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:"

1 Timothy 1:17, "Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen."

1 Timothy 6:16, "Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen."

I will answer the question for you at this point because by your own admission you have testified that you DO accept every verse of the Bible. However, David, since you accept these Biblical passages 100%, how is it that you also believe that God was once a man of this world (because of his good works on another planet somewhere out in the universe). He then "earned" godhood, and was thus appointed by a counsel of gods in the heavens (I have addressed your interpretation of Psalm 83) to his high position as the god of planet Earth. Again, the Mormon god of this world was a man, like all men, who became a god. This is what the celestial marriage and the temple vows are all about (I think this is right). LDS men, by doing their temple work, are striving for exaltation by which they, too, shall one day become gods (I think I’m on the mark with this). Their wives will be the mother goddesses of "their" world and with their husband will produce the population of their world. This is the Mormon doctrine of "eternal progression."

There seems to be an apparent contraction here. How do you accept both when one (Bible)strictly forbids the other?



BRoz said...

Numbers 23:19 The point of this is to say that God does not lie. It says God is not a man. It doesnt say God was never a man.

Psalms 102:26-27 God is the same. That doesnt mean He stands in one place but is a living God who never deviates from His straight course. God is not just the existing God but the true and living God.

Isaiah 43:10-11, "beside me there is no saviour." Right, God is eternal and there is only one God who will save Israel. This doesnt say there arent others "called gods" in heaven.

Isaiah 44:6 Beside God there is no other God. God will always remain supreme over man, and man under god. Again this doesnt say there arent others "called gods" in heaven.

Isaiah 44:8 From the verse before, there is only One God who will reveal the future "things that are coming" to Israel. Again this doesnt say there arent others "called gods" in heaven.

[Jews and Arians used these verses to deny the divinity of Christ. If this was the Father speaking, how could He say this knowing about Christ who would come]

Isaiah 45:21-22, There is none else but the One True God who will save Israel and reveal the future. This does not say there are not others in heavens "called gods"

Jeremiah 23:24 Time does not confine God. He dwells in the eternal now. Everything is present before Him. Therefore, He can be everywhere and somewhere at the same time. God's presence still fills the immensity of space.

Malachi 3:6 God doesnt change. He does not deviate from his straight course.

John 1:16-18 No man in his natural state has seen God. But prophets saw and spoke to him with their spiritual eyes. Joseph Smith saw God with his spiritual eyes in vision.

John 4:24 God is spirit, and also has a glorified tangible body. If the body were evil, why would Christ heal it. If the body were unnecessary, why would Christ raise it from the dead? But we are told to worship God both in spirit (spirit) and in truth (body).

Romans 1:22 Yes it is error to create God in your image. But remember it was God who created man in his image first.

Colossians 1:15 God is invisible to the natural man. But Enoch and Adam walked and spoke with God.

1 Timothy 1:17 To take the invisible comment literally you have to interpret all the accounts of the prophets as figerative. To be unbiased, you must also list all the anthopomorphic references and descriptions of God.

1 Timothy 6:16 No man in his natural and fallen state can approach or see God. But throught the transformative power of the Holy Ghost we become new creatures. Do you deny the transformative and sanctifying power of the Holy Ghost?

RJPope said...

Moses clearly acknowledges (and with the intention to do as much) God’ space outside of this world and his desires for his people under the heading ‘The Lord is God’ in Deuteronomy 4. He concludes his passages with, “Acknowledge and take to heart this day that the Lord is God in heaven above and on the earth below. There is NO other”


However, you would conclude, ‘but it doesn’t say there aren’t “other gods.” Mad men who insist the universe is full of clowns will say, ‘but it doesn’t say there are not other clowns.” I’m still waiting for you say, “just kidding.” However, you’re being serious- which makes all of this scary as hell. Like other issues I’ve raised with you, you have not adequately addressed the scripture that CLEARLY supports a monotheistic worldview- regardless of anything written or interpreted years later. You are not taking the prophets seriously. You are not taking God seriously.

So, while I appreciate you taking the stance the Bible as true, what I do not appreciate, Dave, is your deliberate attempts to make it indirectly say what it directly confirms; there is only one God. But, none of this matters to you. Reason is only as sound as how you feel today. Lets all hope you feel well. You’re in my prayers, brother.

Seth said...

This is a great blog. Keep up the good work! I'll be checking back and forth for updates! God bless!

BRoz said...

"Reason is only as sound as how you feel today."

Let me restate my position. There is only one God in heaven and Earth.

However, LDS believe that the Bible differentiates between the reward of saved beings. Some will be considered angels of God while others are "called gods." But being "called god" is not the same as being the One True God. God will always remain supreme over man forever.

Those that become heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ, become exalted, and receive Eternal Life will be empowered to participate with God in the work of creation and eternal parenting. LDS don't believe we take God's place.

Remember that a distinction is made by Paul between those saved beings who are considered children of the bond woman verses children of the promise, sheep and goats, profitable vs. unprofitable, wise vs. foolish, hot vs. lukewarm, etc, etc.

Anonymous said...

To RJPope:

I think you are missing the point of BRoz's argument. I think you think you know what BRoz believes and what he is trying to say and, therefore, you are assuming he is saying something that is incorrect. I don't think you are giving him a fair chance for him plainly speak what he is trying to say, because what he is trying to say is not contradictory to your position.

I would ask that you re-read BRoz's second response, which I think is more clearly dictated. Those teachings of the early prophets of the latter-day movement that you are quoting are taken wholly out of context and that, in my opinion, is "scary as heck." You need to understand the basics of LDS belief before you start trying to understand the meaning of a more complex statement that is taken out of context, which is, sadly, too often the case in these regards.

There is only one God. God will always remain and reign supreme over man forever. No one is disputing this statement and you are missing the point.

The Bible says we are joint-hiers with Christ. The LDS believe we are joint-hiers through Christ and his divine atonement. Christ recieved "all that the father hath." So can we, not through our own merits, but through Christ's atoning sacrifice, our accepting that sacrifice, and our obedience to the laws and ordinances of Christ's good news -- i.e., the gospel.

The fact that LDS believe in exhaltation and eternal progression is not contradictory to those passages of scripture you cite. That is what BRoz is trying to point out to you. There is no contradiction.

I teach primary and, like I tell my primary kids, the gospel is simple. We believe in eternal progression through our obediance to the laws and the ordinances of the gospel and, more importantly, through the atonement of Jesus Christ, our Lord and our Savior. Man will never become higher than God, but through Christ and his divine sacrifice, man may be "called Gods" and, in the eternities, may participate with God in helping to bring to pass the immoratlity and eternal life of man, which is God's purpose according to LDS scripture.

The point is this, your misinterpretation of LDS doctrine is as offensive to LDS members as it is to you. As far as man is concerned, there is only one God; there is no other. This is why LDS teachings are so widely misunderstood, but the concept really is not that obtuse. There is a big difference between those "called Gods" and the one, true God.

Best regards,