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"Who Do [Mormons] Say That I Am?"

April 21, 2009
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A recent conversation on this blog set me to thinking a little more deeply about Mormonism’s current position on the nature of God.  I learned recently that some Mormons do not believe in the doctrine that God is an exalted man.  As I considered and studied the matter I found a contradiction between what has been historically taught in the LDS church and what is taught in the LDS canon.

First of all, the LDS canon is not only absent any teaching that God is an exalted man – it actually teaches the exact opposite!  Yet the exalted man doctrine has been taught historically by LDS prophets, continues to be taught in current church manuals, and is apparently believed by the majority of Mormons.  Some Mormons even believe God could have been a sinner during his mortal life prior to his exaltation.

The Book of Mormon and the Doctrine & Covenants teach against this doctrine that God progressed to be God.  The Book of Mormon says that any God who changes is no God at all.

For example, Mormon 9:9-10 says, “For do we not read that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and in him there is no variableness neither shadow of changing? And now if ye have imagined up unto yourselves a god who doth vary, and in whom there is shadow of changing, then have ye imagined up unto yourselves a god who is not a God of miracles.”

Mormon 9:19 says, “And if there were miracles wrought then, why has God ceased to be a God of miracles and yet be an unchangeable Being?  And behold, I say unto you he changeth not; if so he would cease to be God; and he ceaseth not to be God, and is a God of miracles.”

Moroni 8:18:  “For I know that God is not a partial God, neither a changeable being; but he is unchangeable from all eternity to all eternity.”

Moses 1:3:  “And God spake unto Moses, saying: Behold, I am the Lord God Almighty, and Endless is my name; for I am without beginning of days or end of years; and is not this endless?”

D & C 20:17:  “By these things we know that there is a God in heaven, who is infinite and eternal, from everlasting to everlasting the same unchangeable God, the framer of heaven and earth, and all things which are in them.”

D & C 7:1-4:  “…for the Lord is God, and beside him there is no Savior…  From eternity to eternity he is the same, and his years never fail.”

The Bible, of course, also teaches that God is unchangeable and has always existed as God:

Exodus 3:14:  “And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM”  (“the self-existent One”)

Genesis 21:33: “the LORD, the everlasting God

Psalms 90:2:  “from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God

Isaiah 40:13-14: “Who hath directed the Spirit of the Lord, or being His counselor hath taught him?  With whom took he counsel, and who instructed him, and taught him in the path of judgment, and taught him knowledge, and showed to him the way of understanding?” (reveals that God has not learned or progressed in understanding)

Malachi 3:6:  “I am the LORD, I change not

Hebrews 13:8: “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and for ever

James 1:17:  “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”

Revelation 22:13: “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last

Why is the LDS church teaching a doctrine that directly contradicts their own canon?  Would God contradict Himself?  Why would He give a revelation that He is unchangeable from eternity to eternity and then give a revelation that He changed from being a mere mortal to God of the universe?  It is more like men to change; God does not change.

When I examine the lives of men I find many frailties and failings.  In the lives and teachings of the LDS prophets I find failings.  When Joseph Smith failed to correctly interpret a revelation he had received, he admitted that sometimes it was hard for him to tell whether a revelation was from God or from himself or from the devil.  He admitted a man could be deceived by his own carnal desires, and could receive an answer according to his erring heart, but it would not be a revelation from the Lord.

I understand that some Mormons have backed away from the exalted man doctrine after the famous Gordon B. Hinckley interview.  But in all honesty, does this evasive response really constitute modern revelation?

I love my Mormon friends and I am deeply, deeply concerned that this heretical doctrine is being sanctioned by the leadership of the LDS church.  There are many sincere, active LDS who believe in a God who was once a man (who may have sinned) and who progressed to being a God.  According to Mormonism’s own canon, this is a God who cannot save! President Monson should publicly renounce this doctrine as a heretical teaching and should remove this teaching from church instructional manuals.  After all, how can LDS be expected to accept this doctrine?  The LDS church teaches members that “God will never give them personal revelation that contradicts what has already been revealed in the scriptures.”

The question with eternal consequences is still being asked of each of us today.  Jesus asks each individual Mormon, “Who do you say that I am?” (Matthew 16:15)

References:

Mormonism: A Way That Seemeth Right, L. Aubrey Gard.

Theology for Today, Elmer Towns.

What is the Status of the First Half of the Lorenzo Snow Couplet in Mormonism?

Recognizing Personal Revelation

We Used To Agree

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87 Comments leave one →
  1. April 21, 2009 12:48 pm

    We should be careful of absolutes when interpreting scripture.

    For example, Christ (who is God, right?) came to earth, was born of Mary, had a flesh and bone body, grew in wisdom and stature, traveled and taught, died and was resurrected, etc.

    Does this not represent ‘change’? Sure it does.

    When we start delving into theology we often need to avoid literal, absolute interpretations.

    When I think of an unchanging God, it is more about character and attributes. It is not a absolutely static being for which there are never any ‘events’.

  2. faithoffathers permalink
    April 21, 2009 3:01 pm

    Can anybody provide documentation of authoritative statements from the church that suggest God ever sinned? How about any unofficial statement from leaders?

    Yes, we still believe God had a mortal experience. Critics love to equate that with Him being a sinner. It is the same thing as insisting that since Christ had a mortal experience, He must have been a sinner.

    Heavenly Father had a mortal experience in the same sense that Christ had a mortal experience. There have never been statements from the church to suggest God ever sinned.

    You might find a member who believes the center of the earth is made of cheese. So what? What do the revelations and prophets say about the topic?

    fof

    fof

  3. April 21, 2009 3:06 pm

    “When I think of an unchanging God, it is more about character and attributes.”

    But if God was once temporal and then became non-temporal then his attributes changed. In addition, if God was once a mortal sinful man and is now the immortal God then his character changed.

    “For example, Christ (who is God, right?) came to earth, was born of Mary, had a flesh and bone body, grew in wisdom and stature, traveled and taught, died and was resurrected, etc.”

    This is not a problem at all with the Christian theological understanding of the dual nature of Christ. But you are correct, this does create a quandry on numerous levels under LDS theology. First, how do you declare Him (Christ) to be God when he is a spiritually born being? This violates The Bible which teaches that God has always existed as God, has no Gods before Him or after Him.

    Darrell

  4. April 21, 2009 3:23 pm

    I think that the thing with God having possibly sinned once is simple numbers and probability. Sure, He could have played the sacrificial “Son” role on His original world and thus never sinned, but what are the chances of that? As I understand it, only one spirit child in billions upon billions gets to be that. The other possibility I can see is that God died as a child before the age of accountability during his mortal probation before he could sin.

    And if it’s still possible to become a God having been a sinful man, what does it really matter? Even if our world is technically exempt, there are billions and billions of worlds out there with Gods who sinned.

  5. April 21, 2009 3:42 pm

    Darrell:

    It seems that you are deliberately misunderstanding.

    “But if God was once temporal and then became non-temporal then his attributes changed.”

    Yes, that is the point I am making. Thus God (Christ) changed, and we should not take an absolute/literal interpretation that would suggest anything else.

    “In addition, if God was once a mortal sinful man and is now the immortal God then his character changed.”

    That is a huge if, not taught in the church at all.

    “This is not a problem at all with the Christian theological understanding of the dual nature of Christ. ”

    But it is a problem if you make the claim that God never changes whatsoever – which is indirectly what is claimed on this post.

    “But you are correct, this does create a quandry on numerous levels under LDS theology. ”

    No it doesn’t.

    “First, how do you declare Him (Christ) to be God when he is a spiritually born being? This violates The Bible which teaches that God has always existed as God, has no Gods before Him or after Him. ”

    The Bible also declates Him (Christ) as being the firstborn here So we declare Him to be God and the firstborn of God based on the Bible (and other things). This goes along quite well with the eternal, uncreated intelligence as well.

  6. Susan permalink
    April 21, 2009 4:37 pm

    Bridget,

    You said,
    “And if it’s still possible to become a God having been a sinful man, what does it really matter? Even if our world is technically exempt, there are billions and billions of worlds out there with Gods who sinned.”

    Are you speaking theoretically? This doesn’t sound like a statement I have heard from the Evangelical camp.

  7. MadChemist permalink
    April 21, 2009 5:46 pm

    Sorry Jessica.
    But you got it wrong about Mormonism. It wasn’t Gordon B. Hinckley’s interview which caused an unwillingness to grant canonical status to non-canonical statements, but rather a movement in the Church, lead by Church authorities to return to our scriptures and use them for teaching. This began with President Kimball but made the most progress under President Benson when members were told to read more of the Book of Mormon. I’ll agree that President Hinckley’s interview certainly wasn’t a revelation (he never called it such and didn’t submit it to the church for canonization…). But I think it dishonest to call it evasive. He stated facts. If you had read the full interview, instead of tidbits, culled by apostates, you would know that in context, he firmly admitted that it was taught, but then he acknowledged an agnosticism within the church about everything that we would need in order to understand it. Quite frankly, I think it beneath you, Jessica, to use the Time article when it’s contextualization has been firmly uprooted.
    http://www.fairlds.org/Misc/Does_President_Hinckley_Understand_LDS_Doctrine.html

    “There are many sincere, active LDS who believe in a God who was once a man (who may have sinned) and who progressed to being a God.”
    And there are many sincere, active Evangelicals who believe in easy, greasy grace who believe the opposite. I just don’t see how people who believe more than God has actually revealed are in danger.

    Are they saved by doing a work, and having the right doctrine, or are they saved fully by grace. Under the Evangelical framework, often beaten upon Mormons by Evangelicals, they say, it’s only grace. Then, It’s only if you believe THE RIGHT THING. But believing is also a work. And you’ve changed the grace of God into a work. Ironic, yes.

    It is absolutelly dishonest to say that Mormon Canon says God cannot save.
    It makes no sense.

    I’m sure President Monson thanks you for telling him what to do, but I trust he has conversations with a HIGHER AUTHORITY.

    For a post entitled what Mormons believe about Jesus, there’s been precious little of that.
    Sinless, perfect, loving, our God. Those are the Mormon attributes of Jesus.
    Every Mormon should be able to answer, if Jesus asked them the question found in Matt 16;15, with Peter, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”

  8. April 21, 2009 6:01 pm

    MadChemist, you said, It is absolutelly dishonest to say that Mormon Canon says God cannot save. It makes no sense.

    I did not say that the Mormon canon says God cannot save. The Book of Mormon describes an unchangeable Being as God. I agree with this definition of God because it agrees with the Bible.

    I disagree with the 1844 revelation that God is an exalted man. See the first two BoM references in my post – a god who changes is not a God of miracles. What I meant was that, according to Mormonism’s own canon, the God of the 1844 revelation cannot save as he is a god who changes. A god who changes cannot save as he is not a God of miracles.

    Before the 1844 revelation, Christians and LDS were in basic agreement on the nature of God. I was brought to tears by the concept in the article I linked to above: “We Used To Agree”

    My heart longs for us to agree again on this most critical doctrine.

  9. MadChemist permalink
    April 21, 2009 6:17 pm

    Mormons find inconsistenties with Evangelical interpretations of the Bible all the time.
    We don’t say that Evangelicals believe their God can’t save.
    As Eric made perfectly clear, by the Bibles own account, Jesus changed.
    Jesus was God, ergo, God changed.
    “Jesus waxed strong in spirit,” to wax is to grow, he grew, he changed. I won’t press this too far, but I firmly view this as someone living in a glass house throwing a stone (and the first stone I might add).
    She that is without doctrinal inconsistancies should throw the first stone, Art thou she?

  10. April 21, 2009 6:25 pm

    Eric,

    I am not purposely trying to misunderstand you and I don’t believe you are purposely trying to misundertand me. I am sorry if I came across in that manner. Let me see if I can make what I am saying a little clearer.

    You said:

    “When I think of an unchanging God, it is more about character and attributes. It is not a absolutely static being for which there are never any ‘events’.”

    My point is this… if you believe that God the Father was once a man who progressed to Godhood then you are violating what you assert above about an unchanging God. For, if God was once a temporal being who is now non-temporal both His attributes and character have changed.

    This is not a problem in Christian theology for we do not believe God was once a man. He has always been eternally God.

    “But it is a problem if you make the claim that God never changes whatsoever – which is indirectly what is claimed on this post.”

    Not at all… God has ALWAYS been God. I agree with you about his attributes never changing. One of His attributes is Pure Actuality… which He cannot have if He was once temporal.

    My problem with Mormonism revolves around this issue… who is God. Mormonism denys what The Bible teaches about the nature of God/Jesus Christ. The Church teaches Jesus is a spirit born son of God the Father and at times in the past the church has taught that God Himself was once a man who progressed to become a God. I will grant you the emphasis on God progressing to Godhood has siginifcantly decreased in recent years. I am glad to see that. However, the theology of Jesus being a spirit born son of God the Father violates The Bible wholeheartedly.

    “The Bible also declates Him (Christ) as being the firstborn here So we declare Him to be God and the firstborn of God based on the Bible (and other things).”

    I believe I know the passage you are referring to in Colossians, correct? Are there any others you are referring to? I would like to get your take on exactly what in the passage leads you to believe it is referring Christ being a spirit born son of God the Father. Is there something specifically in the text that leads you to interpret it this way? If not, why do you interpret it the way you do?

    I believe that when we are seeking to properly interpret a passage we must do so in light of what the entire body of scripture tells us. The problem with your interepretation of this passage in Colossians is it wholeheartedly violates numerous passages which tell us that He has always existed as God, there are no Gods before Him, besides Him or ever will be after Him. How do you reconcile this contradiction? Here are a few of the passages to which I am referring.

    Isaiah 43:3 For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
    43:10 “You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, “and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me.
    43:11 I, even I, am the LORD, and apart from me there is no savior.
    43:12 I have revealed and saved and proclaimed— I, and not some foreign god among you. You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, “that I am God.”
    Isaiah 44:6 This is what the LORD says— Israel’s King and Redeemer, the LORD Almighty: I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God.
    44:8 You are my witnesses. Is there any God besides me? No, there is no other Rock; I know not one.
    Isaiah 45:5 I am the LORD, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God.
    45:6 so that from the rising of the sun to the place of its setting men may know there is none besides me. I am the LORD, and there is no other.
    45:14 ‘Surely God is with you, and there is no other; there is no other god.’ ”
    45: 18 I am the LORD, and there is no other.
    45: 21 And there is no God apart from me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none but me.
    45:22 Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other.
    Isaiah 46: 9 I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me.
    Deut 6:4 The LORD our God, the LORD is one.
    Mark 12:29 The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one”
    Deut 4: 35 You were shown these things so that you might know that the LORD is God; besides him there is no other.
    Deut 4:39 Acknowledge and take to heart this day that the LORD is God in heaven above and on the earth below. There is no other.
    1 Cor 8:4 So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that an idol is nothing at all in the world and that there is no God but one.
    Psalms 86:10 For you are great and do marvelous deeds; you alone are God.

    God Bless!

    Darrell

  11. April 21, 2009 6:43 pm

    “As Eric made perfectly clear, by the Bibles own account, Jesus changed. Jesus was God, ergo, God changed. “Jesus waxed strong in spirit,” to wax is to grow, he grew, he changed.”

    Christians believe in the dual nature of Christ. This is not a problem under our theology. As God, He never changed, grew weary, felt fear, pain, hunger, etc. However, as man he hungered, felt pain, grew weary, grew older, etc.

    This is not a problem for us.

    Darrell

  12. April 21, 2009 6:49 pm

    Susan ~ Yes, I’m playing with the theoretical LDS paradigm. I’m evangelical myself and I certainly believe God has always been God.

  13. Exitmusic permalink
    April 21, 2009 7:08 pm

    Darrell:
    “Christians believe in the dual nature of Christ. This is not a problem under our theology. As God, He never changed, grew weary, felt fear, pain, hunger, etc. However, as man he hungered, felt pain, grew weary, grew older, etc.”

    Is the dual nature of Jesus Christ, as you believe it, defined explicitly in the Bible?

  14. April 21, 2009 7:20 pm

    Yes.

    The Bible teaches in numerous passages that Jesus Christ is eternally God (as I have shown in numerous passages above). In additon, The Bible shows in several passages that He suffered, felt and held the nature of man. Thus, we accept that He has two natures – God and man. If you deny that He held either of these natures then you are denying at least part of what The Bible says about Jesus. Thus my problem with Mormonism… it does not teach that Jesus Christ has eternally existed as GOD… instead it teaches that He is a spirit born son of God the Father.

    Darrell

  15. April 21, 2009 7:25 pm

    I’m LDS and I believe that God has always been God AND that God is an “exalted man”. This is not a mutually exclusive proposition. I don’t believe God is a bodiless substance, but if you were to see Him you would see him in the form of a man. We are “of God”, the offspring of God–mankind. So God, for us is not another species–he’s an exalted man AND He is Eternally God.

    I see how confusion would be easy for uninformed LDS and non-LDS to make the assumption that Joseph was teaching God was once “merely” a man, sinful like us. But Joseph never says that. He says that he had a mortal experience, like Jesus. Jesus was God, and although he was also a man, he never sinned. I do. But we too are having a mortal experience, although clearly there is a difference. It has been said that “experience” is the hallmark of Mormonism. We need experience. The Son of God needed experience. Joseph obviously didn’t share any more details, but the “great secret” he was teaching was that God the Father also had mortal experience (which thing people never before had supposed).

  16. April 21, 2009 7:33 pm

    Darrell, tread carefully here in representing what Mormons believe about Jesus Christ. “Mormonism” teaches that Jesus is the “Eternal God” (see title page of the Book of Mormon). You can’t say that Mormons believe that there was a time when the Son was not God, because our cannon teaches he is from everlasting to everlasting. (There is a great post about that, by the way, here: http://mormoninsights.blogspot.com/2008/10/jesus-is-everlasting-to-everlasting.html

    If you sense some kind of contradiction, then join the club. As much as I try to understand the Trinity there remains such aspect of “mystery”. I guess you’ll have to be okay with “mystery” to some degree here, as well.

  17. April 21, 2009 7:47 pm

    Clean Cut,

    No offense meant by what I am going to say here… I am just being honest about what I think. If you say that Jesus Christ is a spirit born son of God the Father then you are most certainly denying the fact that He has eternally existed as THE ONLY GOD TO EVER EXIST. Philosophically speaking it is a nightmare to say that an eternal being came from something else. By definition an eternal being is self sufficient and self sustaining. If Christ was born of another being He is not eternal, self sufficient or self sustaining. This is the same problem that darwinists run into. They want to claim that the universe is not eternal and that it came into being at some point in time yet they are not willing to postulate on WHAT CAUSED IT TO COME INTO BEING. If Jesus Christ came into being at some point (which by definition He did if He was spiritually born) then there was a time that He did NOT EXIST. Thus, He is not eternal, self sufficient (for something actualized Him) or self sustaining.

    This violates what The Bible says about Him and this doctrine is EXTRA BIBLICAL. You will not find it taught anywhere in The Bible that Jesus Christ was SPIRITUALLY born of another being… it is not there. It is only due to the unbiblical sources of Mormonism that this doctrine even exists.

    I prefer to go with simply what The Bible says… Jesus Christ has always existed as God, He is the only God, there are no Gods besides Him, before Him or after Him.

    Darrell

  18. April 21, 2009 8:38 pm

    In follow up to Clean Cuts comments I had another though. The Trinity, while a mystery is taught in The Bible.

    The Bible teaches there is one God (as referenced in the multiple scriptures I provided above). In addition, The Bible teaches that Jesus Christ is God, The Holy Spirit is God and The Father is God. Hence, One God eternally existing in three persons. I am fine accepting a mystery which is taught in The Bible.

    The problem I have with Mormonism’s teaching (which Clean Cut refers to as a mystery) of Jesus Christ being a spirit born son of God the Father yet eternally God is that it is contained NO WHERE in The Bible. Not only is it not contained in The Bible it flat out contradicts The Bible. Thus, I do not hold it as a mystery rather I consider it a heresy.

    Darrell

  19. April 21, 2009 10:57 pm

    I’m not talking about spirit birth. If you want to talk spirit birth, go here:
    http://bycommonconsent.com/2009/04/15/tripartite-existentialism/

  20. April 21, 2009 11:38 pm

    Clean Cut, you said, I see how confusion would be easy for uninformed LDS and non-LDS to make the assumption that Joseph was teaching God was once “merely” a man, sinful like us.

    I’m not sure if you had a chance to check out the link to http://www.godneversinned.com in my post or if you’ve seen it before. Many of those interviews with LDS were conducted during the recent general conference. They look very dedicated to their faith. One of them said she thought it was “awesome” to consider that God might have been a sinner. Would you say that all Mormons who believe this are uninformed? Or are their beliefs a rather logical conclusion of this doctrine – summed up best perhaps by the Lorenzo Snow couplet “As man is God once was, as God is man may be”?

    I know you’ve participated a lot in interfaith dialogue. I’m not sure if that has contributed at all to your conclusion that God has always been God and was never a sinner. I’m very glad to know you think this is a heretical belief. But it appears, at least from these interviews, that many LDS believe it a perfectly reasonable and acceptable belief that God was once a sinner like us.

    How do you think the church should respond to this error? Is there any definitive statement from a prophet that clarifies that God has always been God and was never a sinner like us? Is this theological error addressed in church meetings? Why do some Mormons seem to think it is perfectly acceptable to have this view of God? That is why I said in my post that I felt the LDS leadership was “sanctioning” this belief.

  21. MadChemist permalink
    April 22, 2009 12:16 am

    Jessica,
    Logical conclusions must follow logig, not anti-Mormonism post-facto declarations.
    Because the statement by Lorenzo snow says nothing about a supposed past sinfulness of God, it would completely illogical to infuse that into our beleifs.
    The facts are these:
    Mormons do believe in the non-canonical (yet normative) couplet by President Snow.
    Mormons recognize that Jesus, came to reveal the Father.
    Jesus lived a perfectly sinless life, as a mortal, and as our God.
    Mormons recognize that Jesus life as a mortal, who later received the fulness of the Father’s glory as the missing link and prototype between fallen humanity and godhood.
    If Mormons believe Jesus never sinned (and we do), why can’t we believe the Father also never sinned during His mortal experience.

    The problem is that there’s a lot of other things that we don’t know.
    But we certainly know that Evangelicals misrepresent Mormons when they say, “Mormons don’t think that God can save them”, or that “Mormons think Jesus wasn’t sinless” or that as a church, we teach that the Father was sinful during His mortal experience. The truth is, we don’t, as a Church anything about the Father’s mortal experience because we don’t know anything about it! No matter how many times we point that out to Evangelicals, they won’t accept “We Evangelicals really know more about Mormonism than the Mormons do.”

    Only if you assume from the outside of that quote

  22. April 22, 2009 12:56 am

    I think it’s pretty apparent that there is a strong subset of Mormon thought that claims that God was once a man–exactly as we are now–which includes the very distinct possibility that He was once a sinner.

    That doesn’t mean it’s what “Mormonism teaches” (since nailing down exactly what Mormonism teaches is pretty tough)…and you certainly don’t have to believe it to be an active Mormon in good standing…but the idea does exist, it is prevalent, and I would go so far as to say it is a belief held by most of the average, active Mormons I know.

  23. April 22, 2009 1:12 am

    Katie,

    I agree with your assesment. In addition, I believe Jessica makes a great point about the LDS Church’s complicity in this belief. For they have NEVER made an official statement about the “God was once a sinful man like us” belief being wrong. Yet one can find numerous statements throughout Mormon history teaching this belief. Again, what good is a prophet if he can’t clear this type of “confusion” up. I thought having a living Prophet was supposed to clear up all the confusion?

    I have a book, published by Deseret, of Best Loved Mormon Talks. There are numerous talks by General Authorities contained within this book which most certainly teach this doctrine.

    Darrell

  24. April 22, 2009 1:35 am

    MC,

    These are honest questions so that I can try to get my head around your thoughts on this, and it is not meant to be derogatory.

    If in Mormon philosophy the father progressed to godhood without sinning (you use the example of Christ who never sinned), what does that say about eternal progression to godhood for everyone from Earth who has sinned, with the exception of Christ?

    Is it possible for a sinner saved by a combination of works and grace to fulfill the “non-canonical (yet normative) couplet by President Snow” and achieve godhood and become like the Mormon view of the father?

  25. Susan permalink
    April 22, 2009 2:08 am

    Clean Cut,
    It is great to see your posts again. I always think you add to the conversations. I am an evangelical and am learning about the LDS faith. I am new to this type dialog……….. but want to understand.

    Can you expand on the following:
    “The Son of God needed experience.”

    This sounds foreign to my evangelical ears. Like a singer that suddenly hits and F# in the key of C during an otherwise beautiful melody. The God I worship is perfect and holy. Set apart. He is complete and self-existent. Jesus being part of the Godhead is perfect, eternal and self-existent. Can you expand on the idea of Jesus “needing” experience? My understanding is that Jesus chose to add human flesh to his perfect existence out of love. He didn’t need anything. He will never need anything.

  26. April 22, 2009 2:43 am

    Here’s a question to piggyback on that point…my LDS friend and I were discussing various Easter messages today, and she brought up the recent GC talk about Christ feeling spiritual death on the cross. It seems like all of us like the idea that Christ understands our human suffering because he was human, so my question is two-fold:

    1. Do non-Mormons believe that Christ’s “Father, why hast thou forsaken me” indicate his feeling of spiritual death? (I’m intrigued by the idea, but I haven’t yet thought out the ramifications of that…)

    2. How does the idea of Christ experiencing human suffering affect his ultimate sacrifice? (Amazingly, I think I understand the LDS position on this, but I’m not quite clear how protestants like me should think about it. Also, I’m really tired.)

    The reason I ask is because I’m confused with the statement that “Jesus chose to add human flesh to his perfect existence.” I don’t really believe that grace/perfection comes in gradient shades (one of the main reasons I don’t subscribe to LDS teachings on Heaven). So with Jesus already perfect, how can you really “add” anything to His existence?

    Is this me getting confused with the nature of the Trinity?

  27. MadChemist permalink
    April 22, 2009 3:01 am

    Well It’s a good thing we can rely on Darrel and Katie for their non-scientific (and unreliable) surveys of Mormonism. Just kidding. I trust Darrel about as far as I can virtually throw him. It’s interesting how the majority of the confusion is caused by anti-Mormon evangelicals instead of among Mormons themselves. There are a lot more false doctrines, that haven’t been corrected, but I trust that they are being lead by a more intelligent being than an Evangelical. Those who try and force the church betray their viewpoint that the Church isn’t inspired. They can push and push as much as they want, but the church never heads those and waits on the Lord. Obviously, having much more interaction with Church members than people like Darrel, they know a lot more. They know what their problems are, and what doctrine they are stumbling on. They don’t feel it’s a statistical necessity.

  28. MadChemist permalink
    April 22, 2009 3:20 am

    Gundeck:

    I don’t think it does. I don’t think we are exalted the same way the Father is. I think the Father was exalted by Nature, we are exalted via Nurture (grace). I think the point of the Lorenzo Snow couplet/Jospeh Smith KFD is that God is great enough, strong enough, and powerful enough to bridge the gulf between fallen man and godhood, whereas the stereotypical Evangelical viewpoint of God is a God of limited power, unable to exalt lower creatures to higher status (one exeption is Jack, to some degree in her understanding of theosis. sorry for outing you Jack, but you did write it on the internet. Jack doesn’t hold the Mormon viewpoint, but she doesn’t shy away from the “orthodox” teachings of theosis found in the Bible
    http://ldstalk.wordpress.com/2009/03/11/evangelicals-theosis-exaltation/
    )
    I think the point is to show that we are literally the offspring of God, like Paul told his pagan greek friends, and to cancel the apostate beliefs from creedal christianity that matter, and physical bodies are evil. It’s meant to show, that man’s fall, redemption, and exalation is what God had planned all along, and not that the fall was some sort of unforeseen surprise for God.

    I don’t like people using phrases like “combination of works and grace.” Please see my explanation under the “greasy grace post” about the “parable of the pie.” While works are required, they do not save us, truly grace alone saves us, but not if we aren’t obedient to Christ. Second, I’ve never heard the words “achieve godhood” used in our church.

    What I have heard, is that those who have been purified by the blood of the Lamb of God can be exalted, and receive their exaltation (which also comes by gift) and become like God (either the Father or the Son). They don’t replace either Father or Son, they don’t become equal with Them in glory, but they do inherit everything They have. they don’t become the Platonic version of God that hellenized creedal Christianity uptook as the absolute cause of all being, but rather, god’s by grace, and agents of the Father, creating under the Father’s direction, and bringing Him greater honor and glory. Those that seek for their own glory will not be granted such power.

  29. April 22, 2009 3:23 am

    MadChemist, I didn’t say my experience was representative of all Mormons and never purported it to be a survey, scientific or otherwise. I merely said that it was my experience. What’s more, I made no value judgment on the teaching, merely observed that it exists as a prevalent strain of thought in mainstream Mormonism.

  30. April 22, 2009 3:24 am

    I should add, a prevalent strain of thought in mainstream Mormonism IN MY EXPERIENCE.

  31. April 22, 2009 3:48 am

    MadChemist, you said, whereas the stereotypical Evangelical viewpoint of God is a God of limited power, unable to exalt lower creatures to higher status (one exeption is Jack, to some degree in her understanding of theosis.

    Sorry. Have to completely disagree with this. I know, there’s a first for everything. :) The stereotypical Christian teaching on salvation is that there are 3 parts: justification, sanctification, and glorification. This is the common, Biblical understanding. I’m sorry if you misunderstood and thought that Jack was the only Evangelical who believed in glorification/theosis. It is a standard, common teaching in Christianity. I read Jack’s post on LDStalk and it is very good, sound, Biblical teaching on this subject. Though we don’t commonly use the term theosis in soteriology (glorification is the term I’m more familiar with), we believe God is going to exalt sinful, finite, created beings to status of “joint-heirs” with His Son (Rom. 8:17). This is the magnificent, incredible God we serve!

  32. April 22, 2009 5:42 am

    MC,

    Ask an honest question… You have never heard the words achieve godhood in church? I would recommend LDS.org if you were looking. “Likewise, we could never achieve godhood unless we set our sights on something nobler than the foothills of mediocrity and started reaching our hands up to God.”

    Theosis is an interesting topic, but while it is not the same theologically as, it is also not so very different from, the Reformed doctrine of union with Christ. Sadly, union with Christ is not taught much outside of orthodox Reformed Churches anymore. While the Westminster Larger Catechism contains more information about union with Christ (Q 65, 66, 69, 79, and 168) I think that the first question to the Shorter Catechism sums it up nicely. “What is the chief end of man?” “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him for ever.” An interesting corollary between theosis and union with Christ is the importance of the Church and the sacraments in the journey toward the ultimate glorification after the second coming.

    I assume that when you refer to Paul you are referring to Acts 17:28, 29 where Paul quotes Aratus’s poem “Phainomena” in his polemic against idolatry. Unfortunately you have neglected the clear teaching of adoption in John 1:12; Romans 8:15; Gal 4:4–5; Eph. 1:5 etc. This is clear, whether you follow the Orthodox view of theosis or the Reformed view of union with Christ, man is not the same as God ontologically.

    I am sorry if you don’t like phrases like “combination of works and grace.” I don’t particularly care for “hellenized creedal Christianity” or “stereotypical Evangelical viewpoint of a God is a God of limited power” but I’ve gotten over it. I have read your post on the parable of the pie but I honestly think you underestimate the corruption of sin and overestimate the ability of man. You also do not take into account the work of the Holy Spirit and our union with Christ in the process of sanctification.

  33. Tom permalink
    April 22, 2009 4:51 pm

    I’ve only got a few seconds – haven’t had time to read and post as much. If I haven’t responded to a direct question asked of me, I’m sorry. It isn’t out of intent to avoid the question, I just haven’t had time to write proper responses.

    1) Darrell – how do you interpret statements from the NT like “church of the firstborn?” (Heb. 12:23) Firstborn appears a few times in the NT, not just in Colossians.

    2) I am not aware of anything in LDS theology that claims we will ever be self-existent. There is always a distinction between “God” and our becoming “gods.” I don’t understand what the difference is, but I’m just saying there is a difference. I personally don’t see too much difference (in practice) between “deficiation” and “glorification.” Either way we are “partakers of the divine nature” and sit with Christ on God’s throne as promised in Revelation.

    3) MadChemist – can you tell me where you get the phrase “gods by grace?”

    4) Many Mormons have applied logic to the Snow couplet and come out with a belief that it is POSSILBE that God was once a man, and may have been sinful. That doesn’t mean they’ve considered all the ontological consequences of such a belief. Don’t fault the LDS Church as a whole for the failure of some members (albeit many, IMO) to consider the ramifications of such a belief. The bottom line is, we DON’T KNOW, and it isn’t essential to our salvation, so prophets haven’t felt the need to expound on it.

    5) Jessica – can you at some pont expound on what you think 1 Cor. 3 actually menas? It definitely ponts toward graduated salvation, but you say there are essential differences between your belief and the LDS belief.

  34. Tom permalink
    April 22, 2009 5:05 pm

    Quick follow up to avoid confusion on what I’m saying -

    Joseph Smith IMO did not intimate that God the Father was ever sinful. Just that He is an exalted man. His point was based on the Savior’s statements

    “The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise”

    and

    “I lay down my life that I might take it again”

    Joseph’s words would point to the Father having lived in mortality just as Jesus lived in mortality. No sinful mortal has that kind of power over death.

  35. MadChemist permalink
    April 22, 2009 7:11 pm

    Gundeck,
    Your quote is by a non-general authority.

    http://www.lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=2354fccf2b7db010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD&locale=0&sourceId=5dc1fc3157a6b010VgnVCM1000004d82620a____&hideNav=1

    Searching the term “achieving godhood” returned 59 hits.
    Searching the term “receiving exaltation” returned 1845 hits.
    Obviously, I’m more familiar with the term used 30 times more frequently.
    I was honestly surprised that it was used at all, but I wasn’t surprised that “receiving exaltation” returned many more hits.

  36. April 22, 2009 7:55 pm

    Tom,

    Great question. When The Bible referes to Jesus Christ as the “Firstborn” I believe it is referring to Him being the first to be raised from the dead. This is made very clear in Colossians 1:18.

    “…he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead…”

    Hope that helps.

    Darrell

  37. GERMIT permalink
    April 22, 2009 9:59 pm

    this was the Chemist’s take:

    MadChemist said,

    April 22, 2009 at 3:20 am

    Gundeck:

    I don’t think it does. I don’t think we are exalted the same way the Father is. I think the Father was exalted by Nature, we are exalted via Nurture (grace).

    just wondering where the other LDS are on this ????? I’m not trying to box anyone in here, but is this a widespread LDS interp. ??

    thanks
    GERMIT

  38. Tom permalink
    April 22, 2009 10:28 pm

    I would say there is nothing in our canon or even in historical documents that suggests God was ever less than God, i.e. as MC says, He is perfect by nature. I am not aware of anything that says His nature was ever otherwise.

    Again, Joseph’s statements are most consistent IMO with God having a mortal existence similar to Christ’s (see my above comments) in which He was already God.

  39. MadChemist permalink
    April 23, 2009 12:01 am

    I thought it was fun to infuse popular psychology buzzwords into a theological discussion. I wonder if that’s the same feeling the Bishops at Nicea felt…

  40. April 23, 2009 1:29 am

    MC,

    I an not sure what your point is that the quote I provided was from a non general authority. I don’t think that the quote I provided is out of line with James Talmadge’s description of the celestial glory in the “Articles of Faith” or with the Nov 84 Ensign article by Boyd K. Packer at the official LDS.org site.

    In fact I think Talamge’s description of celestial glory is the clearest description of the Mormon exaltation system I have ever read. I find this to be the case, when I want to figure out what the Mormon Church believes, read what Talmage has written about it.

    So correct me if I am wrong. In the Mormon view God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man. God experienced mortality before what we would traditionally call the beginning. There is no official Mormon doctrine on what occurred before the beginning so any view on the sinfulness or perfection of god, before the beginning, in Mormon beliefs, is just speculation.

  41. faithoffathers permalink
    April 23, 2009 3:03 am

    Nobodoy has been able to provide any statement from the church to suggest in the slightest that God ever sinned. Critics of the church seem to stir this implication. I understand that it would be blasphemous to teach this thing. But it simply has never been taught by the church or its leaders. You can find individual members who may thing such a thing. But it isn’t church doctrine. I never hear people in the church discuss such a thing.

    fof

  42. April 23, 2009 4:20 am

    Hey Whitney ~ Welcome! Glad you joined the conversation.

    Tom, I’ll expound more on my view of I Cor. 3 later, I’m too tired tonight.

  43. April 23, 2009 4:28 am

    Thanks Jessica,

    I’ve been thinking about what I wrote above, and I’m pretty sure that it doesn’t actually make sense (which is probably why nobody has responded to it). So my apologies for being so nonsensical on my first post here…at some point I will try to rephrase what I was trying to ask on the matter. But it’s finals time, so I need to sleep :-).

  44. April 23, 2009 6:03 am

    Whitney! I didn’t respond to you because I didn’t see your question. Hope finals are going well for you. Sounds miserable. Glad I’m not you! ;)

    1)–I think we take this declaration to mean that the Father did forsake Him and withdraw His presence from Jesus. Since spiritual death is, in a sense, being banished from the presence of God, I suppose you could say that in some way Mormons might argue that Christ experienced the feeling of spiritual death. Maybe. I’ve never heard that explicitly taught, and I think the fact that Christ is God would mean that He was never truly out of the presence of God, since it’s not really possible to be out of one’s own presence. You know?

    2)–I’m not sure I quite understand what you’re asking here. Are you saying you’re confused by the idea that Christ needed to “add” flesh to His existence in order to perfect Himself? If that’s what you’re saying, I can see why you might confused, because my understanding is that would be a flawed teaching. (Someone correct me here if I’m wrong or missing something.) I always thought that Christ didn’t need to “add” anything to Himself in order to be perfected, but instead condescended to become mortal in order that He might redeem us.

    What does the element of human suffering have to do with all this? I’m not sure. I’ve been toying with the idea that suffering is an essential aspect of human existence; so essential that God created human beings THAT WE MIGHT SUFFER; so essential that He was willing to take upon Himself all of human suffering in order to eventually alleviate it. I don’t think this was a mistake or God “making do” with what He had. I think that this existence, which is, for all intents and purposes, an existence of pain, is the BEST possible world for us.

    Why? What is it about suffering? I don’t know. But there is something purifying in the experience of suffering, something almost holy. Don’t twist this to mean that I think we need to become masochists or anything crazy like that–but I have found that it is in the deepest, darkest depths that I’ve discovered the greatest light and meaning.

    Anyway, these are just snippets of thoughts I’ve been having lately, so I’m sorry if they don’t make sense…and I’m sure y’all will find dozens of holes in what I’ve just said–which is fine by me. Poke away. :)

  45. April 23, 2009 6:05 am

    P.S. MadChemist: this might sound crazy, but Jessica and I have a bet going. Would you be willing to tell us how old you are? If not, it’s totally cool; I know people value their online anonymity.

    For the record, I am 27.

  46. MadChemist permalink
    April 23, 2009 1:34 pm

    Katie, ditto.

  47. MadChemist permalink
    April 23, 2009 1:49 pm

    Gundeck,
    I was specifically refering to the comments where the phrase “achieve godhood” was used to describe how the majority of Mormons think about exaltation. For me, at least, it’s much easier to ignore something a “mere member” believes, or wrote, because they have no standing to present doctrine. I think the statistical argument stands on it’s ownl. Evangelicals have chosen to use a statistical aberrational phrase, instead of the more representative phrase. While technically not dishonest (because some Mormons HAVE used it, and that was new to me), it is certainly not representative of Mormonism.

  48. MadChemist permalink
    April 23, 2009 1:58 pm

    Gundeck:
    You’re getting close. The quasi-normative statement, “As man now is, God once was, as God now is, man may become” is difficult to parse because it lacks technical canonicity, yet enjoys normative value. So if something’s technically not in the canon, and there’s also no technical interpretation for it, how do we define it?

    Let’s put it this way, no one would be censured in Mormonism for not accepting the couplet. One would be censured, if they taught that the Father, (or the Son) did not have a physical body. But you are 100% right that there is no official Mormon doctrine on what occured before the beginning, and therefore any explanations are just speculation.

    Someone asked earlier why there are still things we don’t understand if we have a living prophet. I would answer that there are many things that we DO understand a lot better than some of our friends of other faiths, but that doesn’t mean we know everything. We know only what God has given us to know, and some of us don’t even do that very well.

    But even with the uncertainty in the implications of our theology, we do not lose sight of the official doctrine’s contained in the Standard Works, nor will I any longer allow Evangelicals to define MY beliefs to the rest of the world. I don’t care if they say I’m wrong, but I’d at least like them to be 100% accurate in describing them. Or better yet, they could stick to preaching their own religion like we do. :)

  49. MadChemist permalink
    April 23, 2009 2:10 pm

    To: Tom
    Re: gods by grace
    Source: http://en.fairmormon.org/Deification_of_man
    Last post for a couple hours. sorry to inundate…

  50. April 23, 2009 6:27 pm

    “For me, at least, it’s much easier to ignore something a “mere member” believes, or wrote, because they have no standing to present doctrine. ”

    MC,

    Couple of questions and comments in regards to the above statement. When you say it is much easier to ignore something a “mere member” states does that apply to “FAIR” (which you linked to in a comment above), FARMS and Millett? They are all “mere members” who are not General Authorities yet they are quoted repeatedly by Mormons on this and other blogs (including yourself) as if they are authoritative. Why should we take what they have to say above something a General Authority says in a talk or article?

    “…nor will I any longer allow Evangelicals to define MY beliefs to the rest of the world. I don’t care if they say I’m wrong, but I’d at least like them to be 100% accurate in describing them. ”

    I would never try to describe what YOU believe but I can describe what the LDS Church teaches. And, taking your “mere member” thought from above, why should I accept what you claim to believe as official LDS beliefs… you are a “mere member” are you not?

    Bottom line, whenever I cite what the LDS Church teaches I do my best to be accurate. I am human and do make mistakes. As I have mentioned in the past, if I make a mistake please tell me specifically where I made the mistake and provide me EVIDENCE. A mere assertion will not do… as it is simply the opinion of a mere member.

    I will grant you in some areas there is a wide range of beliefs within Mormonism. However, when speaking about the Church as a whole, unless the leadership comes out with a Declaration or Official Statement one is left with what they say in talks and put out in print to determine what the beliefs are.

    Darrell

  51. April 23, 2009 7:16 pm

    MC,

    In trying to understand your beliefs I have been using only LDS sources, with the exception of Google Books for the writings of Talmage. I have not tried to tell you what you beleive but I find you assertion that the Mormon Church sticks to preaching its own religion hard to swallow.

    Can you please point me to the official Mormon definition of what is canonical. You say that “”As man now is, God once was, as God now is, man may become” is difficult to parse because it lacks technical canonicity” but I am unable to find a definitive definition on LDS.org concerning what is canonical. In fact everything that I have seen so far does not allow the laity in Mormonism to judge the validity of what a prophets says.

    To be honest I can except your view that the the Mormon god has never sinned. I can also understand the what happened before the “beginning” is a mystery. Thinking this through and taking it to its logical conclusion I think that this would have implications for the Mormon doctrine of eternal progression, but that is my speculation, and I will label it as such.

    If Joseph Smith’s statement “God himself was once as we are now…” specifically excludes sin, I would have to also say, because of faithoffathers comment, that I have never read anything from and official Mormon source that definitively says the Mormon god ever sinned. When I read this statement by your prophet and the take it to its logical conclusion, we are all now sinners, the Mormon god was “once as we are now”, so the Mormon god was once a…? Once again this is only my speculation and it comes from documents that while official Mormon documents and teaching of your prophet, may not be viewed as canon.

  52. Tom permalink
    April 23, 2009 7:58 pm

    The following press release describes how we should approach “Church doctrine.”

    http://www.newsroom.lds.org/ldsnewsroom/eng/commentary/approaching-mormon-doctrine

    If it’s in the standard works, it’s doctrine. If multiple prophets have taught it over time, it’s doctrine. If one prophet taught it and it was never taught again, then it was probably that prophet’s opinion and may even be TRUE, but it is not doctrine. Lots of things that are TRUE aren’t doctrine of your church or mine.

    Gundeck-

    The exact wording “God himself was once as we are now…” is the scribe’s rendition of Joseph’s statement (and remember they didn’t have shorthand yet). In approaching historical documents like TPJS, I don’t get too tied up in taking the words exactly as they are but try to focus on principles. We have to fit the statement with our standard works and other teachings of Joseph Smith.

    I do appreciate that you are using LDS sources to inform your understanding of our beliefs. Remember that we LDS have to use discernment in interpreting LDS sources and I hope you do the same. The Ensign and General Conference are not infallible sources of truth!

    Darrell -

    We quote “mere members” when they summarize the doctrine in a way that we think will properly communicate it. Perhaps we should rely more on the scriptures, but let’s face it – so much of what we’re discussing on these forums relies on our extrapolating from the scriptures. They aren’t really topics addressed in the canon (and thus aren’t topics typically addressed by GA’s). All of the following are extra-canonical concepts:

    God having a past mortal existence
    The putative sinfulness or perfection of God in that mortal existence
    What happened before “the beginning”
    Spirit birth (and what that even means)

    Truthfully, you are welcome to discount whatever I say as a “mere member.” But on the flip side you shouldn’t go advertising what we “mere members” say as Church doctrine. We’re just describing how we understand the doctrine based on our experience. My understanding is changing every day, so I hope you don’t fault me for doing my best today even though I may have a different opinion tomorrow.

  53. gloria permalink
    April 23, 2009 10:50 pm

    Jessica,
    Thanks for posting about this, because it is at the core or heart I believe, why many Christians do not view LDS teachings as Biblical. When I was LDS I believed God was once a “man” and I believe it was J.Smith that taught the now famous LDS couplet : “as God is so man can become as man is so God once was”.. I think that is right, LDS readers can please correct me if I am wrong. I think that is the general message of that couplet, but I can be wrong, so please do correct. ( I think it’s from the king follet discourse?)
    When I was LDS I believed God had passed thru a mortal life, like man does now, and progressed to becoming a “god”. I did not ever believe he was “sinful” or “sinned”. I never once heard any LDS teach that the LDS god had sinned, but yes that he was once a man. So not sure where that is coming from.
    this teaching is a teaching, that I believe troubles or causes many Christians to really question the LDS teachings. To equate God to having been once a man, negates what the bible teaches about God. You posted several passages about God not being ‘man’ — I especially love the ones in Isaiah.
    One of the most wonderful things that happened to me personally when I came out of the LDS church was realizing God has always been and always will be…. that He did not ‘become’ god or ‘progress’ to becoming god, but has always been and forever more will be God.
    oh my! What comfort, peace and assurance this brings to my heart and mind and very being! To know that My God has always been my God is a precious knowledge that I just recently came to know and understand.
    God truly has always been God – there is none other like Him and there never will be.
    Isaiah 44:8
    ” Is there a God beside me? Yea there is no God, I know not any.”

    I am so thankful for that knowledge I now have that there is NO other God, and that He has always been and forever more will be!

    Praise His Holy Holy Name!
    Gloria

  54. April 23, 2009 10:51 pm

    MadChemist, just so you know, I won the bet. I thought you were in your 20s. Jessica thought you were older–not like super old, but older than 20s. We got on the topic by discussing the good times had by all here on this blog, by the way.

    Jessica, I think you owe me some Kirk Cameron paraphernalia or something. :)

  55. April 24, 2009 12:02 am

    Okay, so here’s what I’m hearing:

    The teaching that God is an exalted man is an extra-canonical concept. (Tom)
    The LDS canon actually refutes this teaching. (Jessica)
    No one would be censured in Mormonism for not accepting the couplet (MadChemist)
    Perhaps we should rely more on the scriptures (Tom)

    So, based on the scriptures in the LDS canon, should Mormons consider rejecting the teaching that God is an exalted man? Was it merely the prophet’s opinion?

    I was pondering the context of the 1844 revelation recently and was struck by this line in Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling: “”In the first six months of 1843, Joseph married twelve women, two of them already married to other men, one single and fifty-eight years old. Five of the women boarded in Joseph’s household when he married them. Emma probably knew nothing of these marriages at first and then temporarily accepted them before regretting her action and demanding that all five leave. Plural marriage was practiced secretly in 1843 and would be until well after Joseph’s death. The doctrine was not publicly announced until 1852” (Bushman, p. 491).

    This is the context of the 1844 revelation that God is an exalted man.

    Now, to be fair, I realize that LDS believe Joseph was given revelation from God to take these additional wives. However, at the time that he took them, was he not apostatizing from his own scriptures? (Jacob 1:15, 2:24-28, 3:5-6, Mosiah 11:1-2, Ether 10:5, I Tim. 3:2, Titus 1:6, Matthew 19:3-11, Seventh Commandment – Exodus 20:14).

    Should LDS really trust the 1844 revelation since it was given during a period when Joseph was apostatizing from the current scriptures he had? (not to mention the fact that it contradicts the previous revelations on the nature of God)

  56. April 24, 2009 12:16 am

    Katie: Jessica, I think you owe me some Kirk Cameron paraphernalia or something.

    Here you go

  57. Tom permalink
    April 24, 2009 1:09 am

    To anyone who thinks the Book of Mormon forbids polygamy, have you read ALL of Jacob 2?

    Don’t miss verse 30! The Lord can command what He will to accomplish His purposes. Abraham was commanded to lie, the Israelites were commanded to kill entire cities, leaving NOTHING, not even animals. Why couldn’t He command Joseph to take additional wives?

    Joseph was no more apostatizing by following the Lord’s direction to take more wives than Peter was apostatizing by admitting Gentiles into the Church. It’s only apostasy if the Lord didn’t command the action.

    Now whether or not the Lord instructed Joseph to take more wives hinges completely on whether or not you believe he’s a prophet of God.

    As for the context of the 1844 revelation, I don’t see how polygamy relates. What seems more important in the context is that Joseph had been preparing the Twelve Apostles to lead the Church – there was some urgency on Joseph’s part. Perhaps he knew he was soon to be killed. Perhaps not, but the urgency was there.

    I think he probably felt a similar urgency to teach the Church as a whole everything He was supposed to teach them.

  58. April 24, 2009 1:31 am

    Tom,

    Thank you for the link. I have heard the scribe argument before. If this was an isolated case to Joseph Smith then it would be a better argument but Young, Snow, and Talmadge all made very similar comments. I don’t know if anyone else of authority has made similar comment, these are the only ones that I have read in original sources.

    Like I have said before, I am not trying to go beyond the doctrine that the LDS teach/taught. I am just thinking through the implications of various views of your beliefs held within your Church.

    Did your deity sin before the “beginning”? Your doctrine the best I can see says you don’t know. The question for me is that if your deity did not sin (not a single sin, not one) what does that say about your doctrine of eternal progression and possibility of anyone ever earning/achieving godhood/exaltation. To me this seems to have large implications that don’t look good for anyone hoping to gain full exaltation. This may not be a question that anyone is able to answer because we do not have all of the information required. I can accept that.

  59. April 24, 2009 1:37 am

    JESSICA!

    LOL!!!!!!!!!!

    I’m so making that my screen saver.

  60. April 24, 2009 1:46 am

    As for the context of the 1844 revelation, I don’t see how polygamy relates.

    I suppose it might not seem to relate for those who have accepted JS as a prophet of God. For those of us that don’t, it fits very well. People change their view of God to justify their actions.

    One of my favorite theologians, A.W. Tozer, says “A god begotten in the shadows of a fallen heart will quite naturally be no true likeness of the true God” (The Knowledge of the Holy, p. 3).

  61. April 24, 2009 2:43 am

    Tom, Re: Jacob 2:30: Was that the purpose then for JS’s polygamy? For God to raise up seed? But now Mormon apologists are trying to argue that he only had spiritual relations with these women. So what was the point if God said the purpose for polygamy was to raise up seed?

    FAIR says “Critics who assume plural marriage ‘is all about sex’ may be basing their opinion on their own cultural biases and assumptions, rather than upon the actual motives of Church members who participated in the practice.”

  62. MadChemist permalink
    April 24, 2009 3:18 am

    Jessica,
    My own personal, non-doctrinal, non-binding, “mere member” speculation:

    To be part of a restoration of all things, it was present in biblical times, and even Martin Luther noted there was no scriptural basis for removing general polygamy..
    To teach the Saints that what God expects of them is not what the creedal traditions have preserved.
    To test the Saints to see if they could obtain a spiritual witness of hard concepts.

    re: “raising up seed.” BY’s use certainly did that. Contrast that with the fact that there are no genetically certififed polygamous children of Joseph Smith. While I consider those who want to follow the Bedroom life of anyone sick in some way, I can’t admit that it is somewhat telling that there aren’t any polygamous children of Joseph. Some have speculated the reason was to teach us about the adoptive and sealing network, exaltation is a group activity that requires relationships.

    Re: Use of non-canonical statements or sources like FAIR. I agree with Tom. I don’t agree with everything anyone at FAIR says. I merely suggest that some anti-Mormons ignore some data in their haste to put Mormonism down, and hope to show some more data. FAIR is a resource, not a repository of canon. Don’t take it personally Darrel, or Gloria. I’m just going to trust faithful Mormons like Tom and some of the people at FAIR better than those who never got the gospel while in the church, at least in describing my church. Your experience is nothing like mine, apparently. Now if we were talking about experiencing gossip and judgemental and shallow-blond-former Relief Society Presidents, we’d have something to talk about.
    I do want to learn and take at face value what Darrel and Gloria’s and Jack’s and Katie’s and Gundett’s current beliefs are. That is, unless it’s become an article of Faith to misrepresent Mormonism at every chance. I have no problem with you assuming that Mormonism isn’t correct, because that’s the same assumption I make about your beliefs (only to a degree though, I don’t view you as completely wrong, just incomplete). But then, I’m not writing a blog post about your beliefs and why you’re going to hell for them.

  63. gloria permalink
    April 24, 2009 4:53 am

    MadChemist,
    How can you possibly now if someone who has left the LDS church “got the LDS gospel” or not? I mean it truly is impossible for you to judge another person’s heart or testimony for that matter. How can you possibly judge if I “got” the LDS gospel? I believe I most certainly did. I lived and breathed it for the better part of 19 yrs. It’s frustrating for me, as a former LDS who left in “good standing” ( that is I resigned out of my own free will and choice) to be judged as if ” I didn’t get it”. Why can’t LDS just accept that many former mormons were indeed sincere in their beliefs at one time and yet found something better?
    I have found since leaving the LDS church that many LDS automatically assume that those like Darrell or myself must have :
    1. sinned and not repented
    2. been offended and didn’t forgive
    3. never had a “testimony” of the LDS gospel to begin with and “didn’t get it”

    Why can’t LDS just accept that for many of us, especially those of us who have come out and been born again in the Lord Jesus – we simply left because we found something more fulfilling & more meaningful?

    These are just some thoughts I have had since leaving and have run into these assumptions and biases from the LDS since leaving.

    Sincere regards,
    gloria

  64. Tom permalink
    April 24, 2009 12:36 pm

    Bottom line -

    We don’t know WHY the Lord commanded polygamy – I think MadChemist had some good thoughts on it, but we’ve never been told why.

    Was it to raise up seed? As an institution it did that, even if Joseph Smith’s personally did not. That is to say, the purpose could be to raise up seed without EVERY individual involved therein having offspring from said polygamous relationships.

    I personally agree that there was a dimension of “testing” the Saints (as in the case of Heber Kimball – I’ll tell the story later if you’re interested).

    Regarding the morality of LDS polygamy – it is only immoral if God did not command it. Those acquainted with Joseph and his wives acknowledged the marriages as legitimate marriages, not tawdry affairs. If Joseph desired to cover-up adulterous sins, why would he censure John Bennett for his immoral activities? Why not accept John as a crony in immorality and say the Lord commanded them both to do what they had done? Joseph certainly invited others into the circle of immoral polygamous conduct (tongue severely in cheek here).

    To respond to a few other things I have seen on this blog about polygamy:

    Gloria once said the result of Biblical polygamy was always a thorn in the side of Israel and thus the OT could not be interpreted as God being OK with polygamy. I don’t see how this view jives with the fact that the kingdom of Israel, the Lord’s covenant people, arose from a polygamous family. Joseph, who received the birthright, was the son of a polygamous wife.

    Furthermore, Nathan told David (2 Samuel 12):

    7 ¶ And Nathan said to David, Thou art the man. Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, I anointed thee king over Israel, and I delivered thee out of the hand of Saul;
    8 And I gave thee thy master’s house, and thy master’s wives into thy bosom, and gave thee the house of Israel and of Judah; and if that had been too little, I would moreover have given unto thee such and such things.
    9 Wherefore hast thou despised the commandment of the Lord, to do evil in his sight? thou hast killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and hast taken his wife to be thy wife, and hast slain him with the sword of the children of Ammon.
    10 Now therefore the sword shall never depart from thine house; because thou hast despised me, and hast taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be thy wife.
    11 Thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will raise up evil against thee out of thine own house, and I will take thy wives before thine eyes, and give them unto thy neighbour, and he shall lie with thy wives in the sight of this sun.

    My point is – it seems that God gave David plural wives, but when he sinned with Bathsheba (not a wife given him of God) and killed Uriah then God took away David’s wives and GAVE THEM TO DAVID’S NEIGHBOR. The Lord explicitly says that the neighbor would lie with David’s wives (note the singular/plural combination of the neighbor and the wives).

    So if Joseph was apostatizing from the 7th commandment, we can only conclude that Nathan did the same thing. (FTR, they didn’t apostatize).

    If God could be OK with polygamy in 1000 BC, why is it automatically an abomination in the 1840s?

  65. Tom permalink
    April 24, 2009 12:43 pm

    PS – It would be hard to make a good case that Emma was the only wife with whom Joseph had sexual relations, and apologists are doing themselves a disservice by fighting the evidence on that one. To me it doesn’t really matter. If he had children by another woman, it was a woman to whom he was wed, not the result of some illicit adulterous fling.

  66. gloria permalink
    April 24, 2009 2:27 pm

    Where does it say in the Bible that God gave or commanded man to take more than one wife? I have yet to read any such thing. Abraham was given hagar by Sarah folks, not by God. God’s plan was to build Israel thru Isaac, not thru another child.

    The Word of the Lord is so clear on this, not sure why the LDS struggle with this so much . God created one man one woman and the twain shall be one flesh. That is what God’s plan is for man – that is what He created in the garden — it was Eve for Adam, not Eve and Emma and Sue….. one wife one husband. Our Lord stated the same thing in the New Testament.

    It’s so clear folks.

    Have men repeatedly fallen away from God’s plan? Yeah, they have… big time. What is so difficult to understand? David sinned, so did solomon so did Abraham …. so did lots of people that love God and so do Beleivers today. Sin is nothing new. It’s been around for milenia. Adam and Eve sinned, and we sin today.

    God has never ever stated that taking many wives is holy or from Him. Never once. The arguement about nathan giving David all of Saul’s wives is a very poor one. I don’t see how someone can take this to mean ” God wills” men or “ordains” men to have many wives. Saul’s wives were property. Wives were considered property in those days. Everything Saul had – his entire household was given over to the new King, David.

    God grace for David was abudnant, just as God’s grace is abundant for us today. Because Nathan gave David all of Saul’s household, including his wives and concubines, do not say in any way that God ordains plural marriage. Sorry guys this just doesn’t hold up.

    God’s pan for marriage is very clear.

    One man one woman – one flesh and the two shall be one. One flesh can not happen with various women.

    The bible stands clear, men have as usual sinned and fallen short of God’s plan, and they continue to do so today. ( divorce being one area of sin in married life)

    I just don’t buy this argument the LDS try to make with this one verse in the bible about nathan handing over the wives of saul to david… I believe they are taking this completely out of context. Nathan never ever says that having wives is from “God” or “holy” .

    LDS need to come up with a better argument.

    God’s word stands clear.

    One flesh.

    Period.

    gloria

  67. gloria permalink
    April 24, 2009 2:33 pm

    God did not ordain plural marriage in 1000 BC or in 1840. Now “men” sure may try to make it appear that way. But there is not biblical mandate for this life style. Just because a culture does something ( for example christians divorce today) does not make it God’s will or that He is ok with it. God is not ok with divorce. Jesus said it clearly, except in the cases of sexual imorality. Divorce was allowed by moses because the people’s hearts were in sin, and wanted it. NOT because God willed it.

    God does not will or ordain plural marriage. Does He allow it? Yes, He does, just as He allows people to sin today. Just because He allows something does not mean He ordains it and calls it Holy.

    Where do you find a text in the Bible where God says that plura marriage is holy, ordained and what He desires?

    It’s simply not there.

    Men sinned in the past, they sin today and they will continue to sin.

    God’s grace is more than sufficient.

    I know some wonderful Christians who have been divorced. They are not proud of it, and they know God is not pleased with it. Does that mean God doesn’t love them? No. He doesn’t love their sin, and condems it, but he loves the sinner.

    gloria

  68. MadChemist permalink
    April 24, 2009 3:02 pm

    Gloria:
    Look up levirate marriages. It was most certainly ordained by God, and it was most certainly polygamous, and I’m certain they didn’t have in vitro fertilization back then, and there’s only one way to raise of seed back then.

    The way I see some of the Ex-Mo’s describe Mormonism on this post certainly shows that they didn’t get it. That’s not an aspersion to their character. I haven’t insinuated or judged your religious character. I have judged the mischaracterization is incorrect at best and dishonest at worst. I can’t judge a persons heart, but I can provide data about statistical use of phrases, and ask people which is more representative (e.i., honest).

  69. Tom permalink
    April 24, 2009 4:27 pm

    Gloria, I don’t see how you get around the fact that

    1) Nathan was a prophet of God and thus spoke for the Lord.
    2) In 2 Samuel, Nathan specifically says, “Thus saith the Lord…I will take thy wives…and give them unto thy neighbour.”

    It is THE LORD who GAVE the wives. Why would the Lord GIVE the wives if it was an abomination in his sight for the neighbour to have more than one wife? God is acting here, not Nathan. Nathan’s just the messenger. The Lord is actively giving more than one wife to the neighbour. Did God ever say the neighour would be sinful for having more than one wife? It seems pretty unjust for God to give something and then tell them they are a sinner for having what God gave them.

    Are you saying that the abomination was “having more than one wife” or “having sexual relations with more than one wife?”

    And yes, levirate marriage was mandated by Jehovah in the Law of Moses.

    At one extreme, God PERMITTED polygamy in the Bible, without calling it a sin. At the other extreme, he commanded it.

    Gloria – I don’t see any evidence for God condemning polygamy as fundamentally sinful. I see no evidence that the Lord was displeased with Jacob for his polygamy. The Lord specifically gives instructions to polygamous households (Deut. 21). He doesn’t say – “It is a sin, but if you are living in sin, this is how to manage your household.”

    If polygamy was adulterous under the law of Moses as your logic would indicate, why weren’t polygamists stoned as was the penalty for adultery? (Deut. 22).

    If you say that Abraham and Jacob were sinners for having more than one wife and you say that Joseph Smith was also a sinner, I can accept that logic. But you must also then accept that Joseph Smith could still perform a great work for the Lord, just as Abraham and Jacob did. What I hear you saying is that Abraham’s and Jacob’s sinfulness did not disqualify them from leading God’s people. So why the double standard when Joseph Smith enters the picture?

  70. Tom permalink
    April 24, 2009 5:03 pm

    Another example is Jehoiada, a priest in the OT. He had two wives and yet is described as having “done good in Israel, both toward God, and toward his house.” (2 Chronicles 24). I can find no implication anywhere that Jehoiada was considered sinful or condemned for his polygamy.

    If polygamy is everywhere and always forbidden, why a complete absence of God condemning the practice when it does arise? Even if Sarah gave Abraham Haggar to wife, where does the Lord specifically condemn it or say Abraham was sinful in taking Haggar to wife? What evidence do we have that Jacob was adulterous for having many wives? Where in the Law of Moses is it condemned?

    Do you honestly posit that Abraham and Jacob were adulterers? Why then would you follow them any more than you are currently willing to follow Joseph Smith?

  71. gloria permalink
    April 24, 2009 5:20 pm

    These examples from the Bible do not state that God approved of or condoned or ordained the practice of plural marriage. It’s the same thing with divorce. Many believers divorce in their lives, that does not mean that they are not loved by God or that they can not live for God. What it does mean is that except for the case of adultery, divorce is not God’s will.

    There are many examples in the Bible of men and women who chose to do wrong, to sin and yet God’s grace is still extened to them. God does not love sin, and yes having more than one wife at one time is a sin. He loves the sinner but does not love the sin.

    Bottom line is there is no biblical text that supports the claim that Joseph Smith made in D & C 132. None what so ever.

    But there is texts in the Bible that clearly states that God has ordained one man and one woman to be one flesh.

    these examples cited here by LDS are not texts that support the idea that God ordains marriage between one man and more than one women. What these passages do reveal is that men do sin, they do err but they can still be loved by God and be used by God for His purposes.

    Regards,
    gloria

  72. gloria permalink
    April 24, 2009 5:47 pm

    Tom,
    I have no clue why God would tolerate David’s philandaring around and amassing wives or why He still chose Abraham even though abraham and sarah violated God’s will by “jumping the gun” sort of speak by Sarah giving Hagar to Abraham instead of resting in God’s promise that they would indeed have a son. ( Isaac)

    “why” would God chose to continue to use these sinful individuals? I don’t know why, honestly. I don’t know why God uses me as wretched of a sinner that I am. In all honesty Tom, God’s grace is so amazing I can’t wrap my mind around it. How He can love and use sinners like Abraham and David and yes even myself is utterly amazing.

    God tolerates divorce, he tolerated plural marriage – but condone it…. no He most definately did not and does not.

    How can you read the passage in the NT where Jesus so clearly lays out God’s plan for marriage? And the twain ( 2) shall be one?

    That is God’s plan for marriage. One man one woman. It was laid out in the garden so beautifully. But you know what? Man messed up. Yes, he did, and we continue to mess up today. That’s why God sent Jesus. Because we mess up, Tom.

    God’s ordained plan for marriage is beautifully laid out in the Bible.
    Men have messed up that plan and the result is heart ache, jealousy, even murder. When we step away from God’s ordained plan there is no happiness. When you read about the family life of Abraham and David and other polygamists, there is always heart ache, jealousy and pretty much dysfunctional family life. Why? Because they stepped out of God’s plan and yes, sinned.

    I never understood the whol concept of plural marriage for “raising up seed” as the LDS teach. If that was the case, why was Adam not a polgamist? I mean there was hardly anyone around on earth when he and Eve got started and then there is Noah — he wasn’t a polygamist either. Don’t you think after the flood would have been a good time to have polygamy to raise up seed and yet Noah did’t practice this. So the whole idea of raising up seed makes no sense to me.

    I am going to stand on God’s word here on this one. ” And a man shall leave his mother and father and cleave unto his wife and NONE else, and the two shall become one”.

    Beautifully put by our Lord and God,
    gloria

  73. April 24, 2009 5:54 pm

    Not to be contrarian, but in your own words, “there was hardly anyone around on earth when he and Eve got started…”

    He didn’t really have a lot of polygamist options, right?

    (And before I get myself into trouble, I should probably out myself as a Methodist who doesn’t take the creation story as literally as most who comment here seem to. So I’m offering a huge grain of salt with my comment…)

  74. gloria permalink
    April 24, 2009 6:07 pm

    Hi, whitney.

    Well since God created Eve from the rib of Adam…. ( Gen 2:22) He most definately could have taken 2 ribs and created 2 wives.

    If plural marriage was so essential to raising up seed, as some LDS leaders have claimed, then surely God would have supplied adam with more than one wife. He could have done the same with Noah during the flood, and there were plenty of pickings in his day.

    I have met some who do not take a literal approach to the bible. So you are definately not alone in your beliefs. :) It’s actually refreshing to have someone else other than an evangelical christian or mormon posting here, so I welcome the “grain of salt”! :)

    Kind regards,
    gloria

  75. April 24, 2009 6:28 pm

    Hi Gloria, thanks for the welcome. (And Jessica, too, I don’t think I responded to that one!)

    Anyway, I really don’t have much to add to the polygamy debate, but I’m enjoying watching from the sidelines. Have fun, kids.

  76. Tom permalink
    April 24, 2009 7:21 pm

    Gloria,

    You completely failed to address levarite marriage and apparent Mosaic tolerance for “adulterous” polygamy. I agree, in the gospel set forth by Jesus Christ He did state one man and one woman. So polygamy in the first century church was a sin. I just don’t see any evidence in the OT that God called it sinful. Why not just come out and say it rather than giving specific provisions for it in the Mosaic Law? If it was adulterous, then Moses should have commanded them to be stoned, not allowed to continue living in violation of the 7th commandment.

    I’m not saying I like polygamy, but I am saying God commands what He wants, when He wants, for His own purposes. I don’t like war and murder either but God commanded that from time to time in the OT. I honestly do not have a problem with it. Who am I to question God?

  77. Tom permalink
    April 24, 2009 7:28 pm

    So was Nathan sinning when he told David that the Lord was giving his wives to the neighbour? Was the neighbour sinning when he had relations with the wives the Lord had givein him? Why would the Lord give someone more wives and then call it a sin to have them?

    “Thus saith the Lord” is pretty strong language. Unless we are to doubt Nathan as a mouthpiece for God, I can’t come to any other conclusion then at that time the Lord was giving the wives to the neighbour just as He (God) had given them to David. The Lord wouldn’t give a man something that was a sin.

  78. April 24, 2009 7:59 pm

    Tom,

    Nathan pronounced the judgment of the Lord on David in 2 Sam 12. Who is the Neighbor that took Davids wives? David’s son Absalom following the advice of Ahithophel took his fathers wives in a tent pitched on the roof for all to see in order to dishonor his father (2 Sam 16:21, 22). So is it your contention that it is not a sin to rebel against the king and take his wives and have relations with them on the roof in order to strengthen your political position?

  79. Tom permalink
    April 24, 2009 10:09 pm

    Only if the Lord commanded it. It’s hard for me to argue with (paraphrasing) “Thus saith the Lord I will give your wives away” The wives were given BY THE LORD. I don’t think it can be considered sinful to have something the Lord gave you.

    (Caveat – Are we 100% certain that the “wives” mentioned in chapter 12 are equivalent to “concubines” in chapter 16? There is a difference between the 2 words, right? Did David keep extra concubines contrary to the will of God pronounced by Nathan and Absalom took these concubines onto the roof (not the wives given away to someone else)? I don’t know. I’ll have to read more about it.)

    I will say Nathan’s prophecy has two parts -

    1. What the Lord will do (Give the wives away)
    2. What Absalom would do (assuming wives = concubines)

    The Lord’s part can’t be considered evil, so there was no problem with Absalom HAVING them as wives. Relations on the roof? I don’t know – was it considered a sin to have relations with a spouse in public in ancient Israel?

    I honestly don’t think it would be considered a sin for the neighbor to HAVE relations with the wives God gave him – God gave him the wives and it thus wouldn’t be a sin just for him to have them as wives.

    We can’t judge the OT by 21st century standards. We would strongly disagree with killing entire cities, yet the Israelites did so at God’s command. But the Ten Commandments say “Thou shalt not kill!”

    So what? God told them to do it.

  80. April 24, 2009 10:12 pm

    The Lord said “and the two shall be one”. He NEVER says “and the three, four, five or 30+ in JS abd BY’s cases, shall be one”. Personally, I believe the evidence shows it is likely that JS had an adulterous affair and then manufactured the polygamy doctrine several years later to try and mask it. Even the D&C has had the phrase added in about him receiving “the principles as early as 1831″ when the “revelation” wasn’t revealed until 1843″. As for the Heber C. Kimball “test”, I think it is pretty sick. Taking a 14 year old girl as a wife by promising her family exaltation and making her cry as a result is pretty sad. Bottom line, we are left at taking JS’s word on this whole thing. Sorry, don’t believe him. I will stick with what the Lord has revealed in The Bible… “the two shall be one”.

    Darrell

  81. Tom permalink
    April 24, 2009 10:22 pm

    It was actually Heber’s wife, not a 14 year old girl. I don’t know what you’re talking about

    14-year old girls being married wasn’t undeard of in the 1840′s. I think the 1850 census had it at 2% of marriages in the 1840′s were to 14 year old women.

    Again, don’t judge by today’s standards.

    Do you posit that it was evil for the Lord to give David the wives?

  82. April 24, 2009 10:31 pm

    “It was actually Heber’s wife, not a 14 year old girl. I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

    Sorry to confuse you. I know it was Heber’s wife. I was saying the test was sick and then followed by talking about JS taking a 14 year old girl as a wife… Helen Mar Kimball.

    “14-year old girls being married wasn’t undeard of in the 1840’s. I think the 1850 census had it at 2% of marriages in the 1840’s were to 14 year old women. Again, don’t judge by today’s standards.”

    You are providing a false comparison here. 2% is not comming. And of the 2% it was not typical for the 14 year old girls to marry 30 something year old men. Much less for them to marry under the pressure of providing “exaltation to their family”. Sick.

    Darrell

  83. April 24, 2009 10:32 pm

    Typo… “comming” – I obviously meant common. Sorry!

    Darrell

  84. April 24, 2009 11:12 pm

    Tom,

    I don’t see any way out of this for you. This is not the verse you need to justify polygamy. Gen 50:20 shows us that God will use the sins of others for his own purposes. This is not the only example, I am not saying Nathan sinned he was the only one who comes out of 2 Sam 11-20 looking good.

    Nathan did not show up and start giving away Davids wives in a vacuum. He is there because of David’s sinful behavior in the Bathsheba matter 2 Sam 11, presuming that you find stealing a mans wife and then setting him up to die in battle to be a sin. David acknowledged it as such and said “I have sinned against the Lord.”

    Nathans prophesy has three parts as I read it, he never mentions Absalom.

    1 David has sinned
    2 David will be punished
    3 David is forgiven

    The discord between David and Absalom begins with the sordid “Amnon and Tamar” incident, Tamar’s rape by her 1/2 brother Amnon, Absalom’s killing of his 1/2 brother Amnon, and his exile, and eventual return allowed by David (2 Sam 13:1-14:33). Absalom’s rebellion against the rightful king (2 Sam. 15:1–19:43) fulfills part 2 of Nathans prophesy against David. I fail to see how any honest reading of Nathans pronouncement of God’s judgment can be seen as an endorsement of Absalom’s behavior.

    Yes, if you are interested having sex with your fathers wife, on the roof, in a tent, anywhere, is a sin (Lev 18:8). Somehow this last sentence reminds me of Green eggs and Ham. Odd.

  85. Tom permalink
    April 25, 2009 2:45 am

    Gundeck, LOL. I won’t try to make my answer sound like green eggs and ham, though!

    You’re right, it gets pretty messy when we start considering what happened to David’s wives after his sin of having Uriah killed. I have no desire to justify what Absalom did. In light of your last post, I can’t tell whether you are saying that the Lord gave the wives to Absalom or not, but verse 8 is more telling in my opinion:

    It seems pretty unequivocal that God gave David the wives in the first place. How could that be sinful if it was the Lord giving them to him?

    I know God can turn the effects of our sinful behavior for His own purposes, but He will never be the source of the sin, that will always be our own choice.

  86. Tom permalink
    April 25, 2009 3:08 am

    Also, Gundek,

    I think I wasn’t clear enough previously. I was talking about 2 Sam. 2:11 specifically having 2 parts. One part is God’s action, one part is the neighbour’s action.

    God’s action = giving the wives to the neighbor = holy and righteous (by definition)
    Neighbor’s part = sexual relations with the wives = sinful ONLY if they weren’t legally his wives when they had relations

    Do you posit that the neighbor was Absalom AND that the wives in question are the concubines described in chapter 16?

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