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.