Mormon (LDS): My-Forum Defense of the Gospel, p. 2

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>>>In Mosiah 15.  In the first few verses it says that God himself will come to save people. I’m sorry I don’t have my Book of Mormon with me so I may be a little wrong about it. I read it a long time ago. I just remember the verse because it stuck, but I can’t remember the words exactly. If this is true than Jesus can’t be a separate being from God the Father.

The Nephites were living the Law of Moses, and their God was Jehovah, whom we believe was Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ, their God, did come to save his people.

>>>Mosiah 15 says “and now Abinadi said unto them: I would that ye should understand that God himself shall come down among the children of men and shall redeem his people. And because he dwelleth in the flesh he shall be called the Son of God, and having subjected the flesh to the will of the Father, being the Father and the Son, the Father, because he was conceived by the power of God and the Son because of the flesh thus becoming the Father and the Son — And they are one God yea the very Eternal Father of heaven and of earth.

>>>To me this sound like modalism.

I can understand how it would sound like a modalist doctrine. On the surface, it talks about Christ being both the Father and the Son and being just one God. Let me explain.

In my online book, in the chapter about The Nature of God , I discuss our belief that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are three separate divine personages but are one in unity and purpose, and that they are one Godhead. With that as background, let’s go back and read the words of Abinadi. I will put phrases in brackets to clarify the meaning.

“1 And now Abinadi said unto them: I would that ye should understand that God [the Nephites were living the Law of Moses, so their God was Jehovah or Jesus Christ (see the LDS belief that Jesus Christ is Jehovah) ] himself shall come down among the children of men, and shall redeem his people [referring to Christ’s role as the Messiah].”

“2 And because he dwelleth in the flesh [that statement shows that Abinadi did, in fact, believe that Jesus Christ was Jehovah and that he would come in the flesh to fulfill his Atonement] he shall be called the Son of God, and having subjected the flesh [as the mortal Christ] to the will of the Father, being the Father and the Son– [Abinadi goes on to explain why Christ is the Father and the Son, even though he is a separate personage from the Father]”

“3 The Father, because he was conceived by the power of God; and the Son, because of the flesh; thus becoming the Father and Son– [think of Abinadi’s remarks in terms of genetics. Jesus was the literal son of the Father and thus inherited the traits of God from his Father. As Jehovah, he was a God before his birth in Bethlehem, and after his birth, he was still a God due to his being a literal son of the Father and inheriting Godhood from his Father. Because Jesus was born of Mary, though, he was a mortal person and had the ability to sin and to die. He was both a God and a mortal person. Abinadi said “becoming the Father [the God part of him] and the Son [the mortal part of him].]”

“4 And they [Christ being the Father and the Son] are one God [Jesus Christ, Jehovah], yea, the very Eternal Father of heaven and of earth [the Nephites worshiped Jehovah. To them, he was the God of heaven and of earth. It matters not that there was also a Father in Heaven since Jehovah (Christ) and the Father are perfectly united in purpose, goals, actions, etc.]

>>>Do your consider God to be an office or a being?

We use the word “God” to refer to the Father, the Son, or the Holy Ghost. One can tell which of the three is being referenced by the context of the statement. We use the word “Godhead” to refer to the group of three. The Godhead isn’t an office. It is more like a “committee”, a “group”.

>>>When you say they are one God do you mean a person or a being?

We usually use the word “person” to refer to a mortal person, and the word “being” to refer to an immortal being. Within this usage, we would refer to God as a being. It’s common for people to use words in ways that aren’t clear, and we have to understand the context of the statements to figure out what the people mean.

>>>In mormonism God is supposed to be made of flesh and bone, right? in Alma 9-10 it says he is a spirit.

The only reference I could find in Alma 9 and 10 to God being a spirit was in 9:21, where Alma said the Nephites were visited by the Spirit of God. He was referring to the Holy Ghost. Sometimes the Holy Ghost is called the Holy Ghost. Sometimes he is called the Spirit of God. You have to go by context to know what is meant by the phrase “Spirit of God”.

>>>It also says this in John4:24 “God is spirit”.

I discuss this in in my online book in the chapter on the Nature of God. Here are my remarks from that chapter.

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There are verses in the Bible, however, that say God is a spirit. For example, Jesus said the following.

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

Some people use this verse to substantiate their claim that God is a spirit without a body. However, in so doing they use the verse out of context of the Bible as a whole. So, what did Jesus mean when he said “God is a Spirit”?

The context of that verse concerns a Samaritan woman who believed the Old Testament prophecies that Christ would come. Jesus declared to her that people would shortly worship God in spirit and in truth. Jesus then said God is a Spirit and repeated his statement that people would worship him in spirit and in truth. If Jesus meant God was a only a spirit, he must have also meant people would leave their bodies and worship him with only their spirits, because the context of the word “spirit” is the same for both God and the worship of the people (same Greek word, pneuma). That does not make sense. The context of the word “spirit” is that people would worship in the influence of God. Likewise, when Jesus said God is a Spirit he meant God fills space with his spiritual influence.

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>>>How has it come to pass that our perceptions of God have come to differ so much.

Go back to the forum and read the posting I did last night about the changes that came into the church after the Apostles were killed, culminating in the Council of Nicea in 325AD [see p. 1 of this Forum defense]. That Council was called for the very purpose of defining God, because by that time the church couldn’t agree on what God is.

>>>[Mormons believe that God] even had sex with Mary that he may have been conceived.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does not and never has taught that our Heavenly Father had sex with Mary. The scriptures say that she conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost, and that Jesus was the only begotten of the Father, and that is all we know. We know nothing how the conception took place. Some  Mormons, as well as some who are not Mormons, believe that the Father had sex with Mary, but they are speaking their own opinions.

You gave quotations from LDS leaders that Christ was begotten of the Father and was born in a natural way. Those statements do not say, nor do they imply, that Heavenly Father had sex with Mary. We don’t know how the conception occurred, but we do know that Mary was heavy with child and gave birth to the child. Perhaps the conception was by artificial insemination, perhaps it was by genetic cloning, I don’t know (I’m just giving examples from our current technology).

I think that everyone knows that conception and child birth can occur with no intimate contact between the two people. The scriptures say the conception happened by the power of the Holy Ghost, and that is as far as I will go.

>>> The confusion escalates because the First Book of Nephi, p.25 (1830):.”…behold the Lamb of God, yea, even the Eternal Father!” First Book of Nephi, p.32; (1830): “…that the Lamb of God is the Eternal Father and the Savior of the world.” This means according to Mormonism the father fathered Jesus who also is the father. So he fathered himself. He was in two places at the same time which according to Mormonism is impossible. This revelation was later revised.

The word “father” is used in various ways. Yes, the Book of Mormon refers to Jesus Christ as “Father”. He was Jehovah, the father of the earth. Through adoption he will be the spiritual father to those who accept him. Jesus Christ is not the father of our spirits; that honor belongs to our Heavenly Father. Yes, the statement was changed in wording to avoid confusion in the use of the word “father” in different ways.

>>> This means according to Mormonism the father fathered Jesus who also is the father. So he fathered himself.

The Book of Mormon and the LDS Church do not teach that Christ fathered himself. Anyone who has studied LDS doctrine knows that is a ridiculous statement. Please don’t say the LDS Church teaches ideas that it doesn’t teach! That idea is ridiculous to people who understand the teachings of the LDS Church. Either you don’t know much about the LDS Church (and therefore are in no position to criticize the Church) or you are very gullible in believing the anti-Mormon literature that you’ve may have been reading and quoting from.

>>> God was not literally his Father anymore than the father had literally begotten Israel the nation by sexual relations.( Israel is called Gods firstborn son).

There are many scriptures that state that Christ was the only Begotten of the Father. And, please remember, I’m not saying or implying that intimate sex was involved.

>>>”Hence the Virgin Mary must have been, for the time being the lawful wife of God the Father: we use the term lawful Wife, because it would be blasphemous in the highest degree to say that He overshadowed her or begat the Saviour unlawfully,” (The Seer, Apostle Orson Pratt p. 158).

Keep in mind, that Orson Pratt didn’t speak for the Church. He knew, and you and I know, that the scriptures don’t teach that Mary was the lawful wife of the Father, so he was obviously speaking his own opinion on the matter. This is a free country and Orson Pratt and the other LDS leaders you quoted are free to believe anything they want. Just don’t represent their statements as teachings of the LDS Church.

>>>Please explain to me your beliefs on becoming a god of your own Planet. The evidence, details, etc. This sounds like polytheism to me and seems to directly contradict the word of the God of the Israelites and everyone who has ever known Him personally.

In my chapter on the Nature of God, I explain that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are separate beings but one in purpose.

Then see my discussion of an essay that criticizes the LDS church where I address the question of polytheism. The paragraph you’ll be looking for is slightly past the center of the page (Click Edit and do a Find on polyt).

Then my chapter on exaltation where I discuss our belief in exaltation.

It’s important that you read them in the order I’ve given, because the first one establishes a context for the second one, and the first two establish a context for the third one.

You are invited to read my online book where you’ll find Biblical explanations of our beliefs.

>>>How can you become a god when even the Book of Mormon says that there is only one god in existence. Well it seems that way in Alma 11:28-31 it says “Now Zeerzon said: Is there more than one God? And he answered, No.”

The Book of Mormon people were living the Law of Moses, in which their whole focus was on Jehovah. As far as those people were concerned, there was only one God, Jehovah. An analogy to this is the Army. When I was in the Army, I had a platoon sergeant. As far as I was concerned he was the only platoonsergeant . even though there actually were many other platoon sergeants.

I discuss in my chapter on the Nature of God our belief that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are three distinct, separate personages but are perfectly united as one Godhead. So, the Nephites worship one God, Jehovah, even though there are three Gods in the Godhead.

Now, let’s look in detail at Amulek’s response to Zeezrom in Alma 11.

“28 Now Zeezrom said: Is there more than one God?”
“29 And he answered, No.”
“30 Now Zeezrom said unto him again: How knowest thou these things?”
“31 And he said: An angel hath made them known unto me.”
“32 And Zeezrom said again: Who is he that shall come? Is it the Son of God?”
“33 And he said unto him, Yea.”
“34 And Zeezrom said again: Shall he save his people in their sins? And Amulek answered and said unto him: I say unto you he shall not, for it is impossible for him to deny his word.”
“35 Now Zeezrom said unto the people: See that ye remember these things; for he said there is but one God; yet he saith that the Son of God shall come, but he shall not save his people–as though he had authority to command God.”

Notice that Zeezrom tried to trick Amulek. He got Amulek to say there is one God, and then he got Amulek to say there were two Gods (the Father and the Son). Amulek ignored Zeezrom’s manipulation of word definitions about one or two Gods because he and the people listening understood the nature of God. They understood that Christ is the son of God (two), yet to them there is one God (Jehovah or Jesus Christ). Amulek instead focused on Zeezrom’s challenge to the Atonement, and he preached the truth about the atonement to Zeezrom. The spirit was with Amulek, and when he finished, “Zeezrom began to tremble” (verse 46).

>>>Isaiah 43:10 and 44:8 are also like this. Our god says in 43:10 he is the first and the last. You can’t become a god if he is the last god and there couldn’t have been a god above him if he was the first.

In the revised version of my online book (the revised version isn’t online) I discuss Isaiah 43:10 and 44:8. Here are the comments I’ve made about those verses.

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Persons who object to the Church say, “What about Isaiah 43:10 where it says there were no Gods before Jehovah and will be none after him? Jesus and his Father have to be the same, and there is only one God.” Let us look at that verse.

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. (Isaiah 43:10)

In chapter 43, God is talking about the relationship between him and the Israelites. He uses the analogy of a trial in which he calls witnesses. In verse 3, he declares he is the God of Israel, and in subsequent verses he reassures the Israelites of this relationship. In verse 9 he challenges the nations of the earth to bring forth their witnesses of their gods, and in verse 10 he declares that the Israelites are his witnesses of his work and of the salvation which he is providing. Not only are they his witnesses but his servants because they do his work among the children of the earth. As his servants, he wants the Israelites to understand he is their God. In verse 10 when he said, “before me there was no God formed” he is saying he has always been the God of Israel. When he said, “neither shall their be [any] after me” he is saying he will always be the God of Israel. Thus, we see the context of that verse is that Jehovah always has been and always will be the God of Israel. That verse does not address the question whether Jesus and the Father are the same or are separate. As mentioned above, since Jesus and the Father are perfectly united, it is appropriate to refer to them as “one God”.
Those who object also ask, “How about Isaiah 44:8?” Let us look at that verse.
Hear 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 44:8 )

This verse is a continuation of the “trial” dialog we just discussed. Jehovah is the God of Israel, and “there is no God” besides Him. As with the other verse, this passage concerns the relationship between God and Israel and does not address the nature of the Godhead.

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The persons who object to the doctrine of the plurality of gods, say, “What about Isaiah 43:10 where it says there were no Gods before Jehovah and will be none after him?” That scripture, along with Isaiah 44:8, was discussed in the chapter on The Nature of God. Jehovah was trying to persuade the Israelites from worshiping the many false gods of their neighbors, and he wanted them to focus on their God, Jehovah, who is Jesus Christ. Jesus is perfectly united with our Father in Heaven and the Holy Ghost, and it is appropriate to refer to them as “one God” even though there are three distinct personages in that Godhead. The passages from Isaiah discuss the relationship between God and Israel and do not address the question of our becoming gods.

>>>Over the years I have come to know something of the beliefs of the Mormon church. In my investigations I have tried to get answers to some questions that I have. Perhaps you could be of some assistance? For example, where in the Book of Mormon does it teach “baptism for the dead”? And Where does it say that God has a body of flesh and bones? If the Book of Mormon does not teach these things could you tell me straight?

Baptism for the dead isn’t taught in the Book of Mormon. It is in the Doctrine & Covenants, section 128. In the Bible, Paul mentioned it as a reason to believe in the resurrection. He wasn’t teaching baptism for the dead, he was using the practice of it as a reason to believe in the resurrection. (see my chapter on The Spirit World ).

Concerning God having a body of flesh and bones, I discuss the nature of God in great detail in my online book.

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