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Can You Be Closest to God in the Temple?

October 10, 2009

A former temple worker shares his experience of seeking to be near to God by serving 40 hours a week in the temple. At eighteen years old, he was the youngest full-time temple worker in the history of the modern LDS church.

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41 Comments leave one →
  1. October 11, 2009 5:12 am

    Polo shirt with a tie… WHY?!

    I’m very curious to hear why he was granted a special exception to be a full-time temple worker at age 18. I’m pretty sure the CHI says men normally can’t be temple workers until age 30.

    And I’m glad the camera panned over to all those handsome young men in suits walking into the gate. Makes me miss temple square.

  2. faithoffathers permalink
    October 11, 2009 10:09 pm

    This former LDS takes the metaphor of whited sepulchres out of context and does not appear to understand Christ’s meaning.

    Christ used this imagery to criticize the Pharisees for “outwardly appear[ing] righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.” It was living a double-standard that Christ condemned. It had nothing to do with the temple. He told them “ye appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.”

    Ironically, He includes in this condemnation of the Pharisees their refusal to accept his servants and prophets: “ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous, And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets…..I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city.”

    So from my perspective, this teaching of Jesus actually is directed toward those who reject His prophets and servants, just as this former LDS does on the video.

    Christ in no way was invalidating the temple in His condemnation of the Pharisees. Maybe the person in the video believes those who enter the LDS temples are all hypocrites- if so I suppose the “fulfillment” he suggests would make at least some sense.

    Bridget- you ask “Polo shirt with a tie….WHY?” My guess is that it is intended to mock at some level the dress of missionaries- contrasting their (Adam’s Road) new informality to that of their former wardrobe. Just a guess.

    fof

  3. October 12, 2009 12:20 am

    faithoffathers ~ Bridget- you ask “Polo shirt with a tie….WHY?” My guess is that it is intended to mock at some level the dress of missionaries- contrasting their (Adam’s Road) new informality to that of their former wardrobe. Just a guess.

    A good guess. Whatever the case may be, all I’m saying is, it looks awful.

  4. Cordelia permalink
    October 12, 2009 8:04 pm

    Jack – I don’t know about what the CHI says, but I was an ordinance worker in the Provo Temple for awhile and there were tons of male recently-returned missionaries who also worked there, so they were in their 20s. I dunno, maybe the Provo Temple has some exceptions?

    I’m also super curious to know how he got special permission to work 40 hours a week in the temple, especially at age 18. I thought most of the workers only do one or two five-hour shifts a week (at least that’s been my experience).

  5. October 12, 2009 8:28 pm

    Shem,

    Christ’s condemnation of the Pharisees in Matt 21 – 23 is a very interesting piece. He actually used some of the most harsh language of His time towards them. He was condemning their empty, outward man focused approach to God. They emphasized the outward cleanliness/morality of man whiel utterly ignoring their inward emptiness. Christ’s approach demonstrated that He cared more about the inner man than the outer man. Personally, this is one of my huge beefs with Mormonism as I tend to see it as a very Pharisitical Religion. Think about the Temple Recommend… it is almost exclusively focused on the outward man. If you smoke, drink tea or coffee you are not worthy to enter the Temple. Your relationship with God is damned solely based on the fact that you like Tea… sounds an aweful lot Pharisees who declared a man was unclean because he walked to many steps on Saturday.

    Interestingly enough, during His discourse, Christ also told us that The Lord’s Glory was being taken from the Temple. Just after His triumphal entry into Jerusalem He cleansed the Temple. Matt 21:13 says, “And He said to them, ‘It is written, “My house shall me called a house of prayer…”‘ [emphasis mine]”

    After cleansing the Temple He sat down and began to preach on the Temple grounds. Now, turn forward to Matt 23:38-39 and notice how His language changes. In Matt 21:13 He called the Temple “My House”. Here is what He says after pronouncing the woes upon the Pahrisees:

    “See! Your house is left to you desolate; for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ [emphasis mine]”

    He was telling them that the Glory of The Lord was LEAVING the Temple. It was no longer His house… it was now their house. In just a few days, He would further emphasize this fact by splitting the veil of the Temple in two. We no longer need a Temple for now we are the Temple of God.

    Darrell

  6. October 12, 2009 9:42 pm

    FOF,

    My apologies. The above comment was meant for you, and I accidently addressed it to Shem. I have been conversing with him so much!

    Darrell

  7. October 12, 2009 9:50 pm

    Cordelia ~ I’ll have to try to check the CHI again. For women, I distinctly remember it said the only restriction was that you cannot be a temple worker if you have children 18 or younger living in your home—which is a pretty major restriction when you think about it. But any young woman who’s endowed and either single or married having not had children yet should be able to do it.

    I don’t remember what it said about men, but there were no restrictions due to children in the household. I’ll try to check it and come back to this.

  8. October 12, 2009 10:24 pm

    Christ was claiming the temple Darrell, not condemning it.

    See – I can read the scriptures in an utterly self-serving manner too!

  9. Cordelia permalink
    October 12, 2009 10:27 pm

    Jack – Yeah, I’m pretty sure that’s the case as well, for women at least. After having my son, a temple worker informed me that I could not be an ordinance worker again until after he turns 18. But I’ve known a few fathers with young children working in the temple. Not sure why it’s that way…maybe because they need more men than women to officiate? Or it could just be another problem related to the patriarchal nature of it all. Who knows?

  10. October 13, 2009 12:21 am

    Seth,

    I agree with you that in Matt 21:13 Christ is saying that the Temple is His. However, that is not the case in Matt 23:38-39, for here He is turning around and telling the Pharisees and Saducees that He is done with the Temple. The Glory of The Lord is leaving the Temple, for with Christ’s act of sacrifice there was no need for it any longer. Bear in mind that this is reaffirmed throughout the rest of the New Testament: Christ splitting the veil, Christ entering the True Holy of Holies once for all, God sending The Holy Spirit to dwell with all believers making them the temple of God, etc.

    The Sanhedrin ran the Temple, and they were largely run by and made up of Pharisees and Saducees – the very ones Christ spent the bulk of His ministry condemning. They considered the Temple for all intents and purposes to be theirs… they ran it, they sold franchises for merchants to run on the Temple grounds, etc. Christ was highlighting a very significant turn of events here: the Temple was His, and as a result of apostate Judiasm attempting to highjack it and His no longer needing it, He was turning it over to them and leaving it desolate. He said, “Your house is left to you desolate…”, for that was exactly how they viewed the Temple – as theirs. Since you disagree with me, would you mind making your argument for as to what exactly Christ was referring to here?

    Darrell

  11. faithoffathers permalink
    October 13, 2009 5:47 pm

    Darrell,

    Christ did not condemn outward righteousness or observance of law. Please understand this- He condemned the HYPOCRISY- the PRETENDING to be righteous outwardly while actually being filled with “uncleanness” and “iniguity.” The Pharisees were saying one thing and doing another when others weren’t looking. They could dress up all they wanted, give great speeches, pray in front of crowds, and condemn others. But behind closed doors, they had adulterous hearts, selfish motives, greed, and violent tempers.

    Christ said they were guilty of extortion and excess, or self-indulgence.

    They “strained at gnats” but “swallowed camels.” In other words, they were very quick to judge and condemn others for small infractions, while being guilty themselves of ugly and pervasive “private” sins.

    Look at verse 23: “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and canise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.”

    Notice that he does not condemn them for paying tithes, but rather leaving out “the weightier matters.” He even says they should observe both the weighter matters AND to “not leave the other undone.” In other words, they need to observe the outward commandments AND the inward spirit of the law- humility, virture, mercy, etc.

    You criticize mormons for observing outward commandments. This by itself is completely unbiblical. But if we observe outward commandments and claim to be righteous, yet have adulterous hearts, have no mercy, are greedy, etc., then you have a point. Otherwise your arguement holds no water. Do you feel comfortable making such a claim?

    When Christ said “your house is left unto you desolate,” how in the world does that mean the temple was no longer needed. The first temple had been destroyed before as a result of apostasy and sin. Christ is saying the second temple would be destroyed- just like the first, a result of killing the prophets and apostasy.

    Using your logic, there should have been no need for the second temple after the first temple of Solomon was destroyed.

    You say “He was telling them that the Glory of The Lord was LEAVING the Temple. It was no longer His house… it was now their house.”

    You seem to be reading into this a whole lot that is certainly not spelled out in His actual words. It certainly may have referred to the temple or it may have used the word “house” in general terms, such as the “house of Israel” or “House of Judah.”

    Consider the passage “The house of the wicked shall be overthrown: but the tabernacle of the upright shall flourish.” Proverbs 14:11

  12. October 13, 2009 6:23 pm

    Shem,

    They “strained at gnats” but “swallowed camels.” In other words, they were very quick to judge and condemn others for small infractions, while being guilty themselves of ugly and pervasive “private” sins.

    I completely agree with you. Christ was in no way saying that observing the commandments was unimportant; he was, rather, saying that the Pharistical obsession with the outward was off balance. They considered themselves holy because of their outward observance and considered the vile sinners Christ hung out with to be unclean. As a result of their self-righteousness, they looked down their noses at those who did not live up to their standards, which by the way they considered to be God’s standards, though they weren’t.

    Mormonism’s obsession with the outward man is very Pharisitical. Take the obsession by the church with the WoW as an example. Do you drink tea or coffee? Why even be concerned with whether a person drinks tea or not! Christ Himself said it is not what goes in the body that defiles a man, but what comes out of the heart. So why should whether or not someone drinks tea or coffee keep them from the highest level of heaven? Again, this is overly focusing on the outside and being legalistic, which is exactly what the Pharisees were.

    But if we observe outward commandments and claim to be righteous, yet have adulterous hearts, have no mercy, are greedy, etc., then you have a point.

    I think you partially miss Christ’s point. Everyone of us have adulterous hearts and are greedy by God’s standards That is Christ’s point with the Pharisees. They looked down on all those who did not live up to “God’s” standards and considered themselves okay because they kept them, and all the while they missed the fact that they were in the very same boat as everyone else. The overt focus on the law and outward cleanliness causes people to think that they are okay… they are righteous while all those people who drink tea are not. It is not the person who thinks they are doing okay who is going to heaven… rather, it is the person who realizes they can never live up to God’s standards and asks for mercy.

    Using your logic, there should have been no need for the second temple after the first temple of Solomon was destroyed.

    Not at all… my point is we need to read the totality of The Bible to garner the context. If the totality of The Bible demonstrated that no new temple was to be built due to the fact that they day of sacrifices in accordance with the Law of Moses had come to an end you, might have a point.

    You seem to be reading into this a whole lot that is certainly not spelled out in His actual words. It certainly may have referred to the temple or it may have used the word “house” in general terms, such as the “house of Israel” or “House of Judah.”

    What happened 3 days after Christ uttered these words? The veil was split in two. What happened just a few weeks later? The Holy Spirit came upon believers making them the Temple of God. What happened in AD 70? This very Temple was destroyed and has never been rebuilt. The context of the totality of The Bible goes along with my interpretation. Could this verse be talking about the House of Israel of Judah? No, I do not believe it can be, for The Bible teaches that God is not done with the House of Israel or Judah. They play a vital role in the end times. The Book of Revelation speaks directly that this so I believe it garners this interpretation as utterly unrealistic.

    Darrell

  13. October 13, 2009 7:12 pm

    Cordelia ~ Okay, dug up my copy of the 2006 CHI. I was misremembering what it said. Under the requirements to become a temple worker, it says:

    “Be married, if a male over 30 years old (widowers excepted).”

    As far as women goes it says, “Mothers who have minor children living at home… may not be called as regular temple ordinance workers.” Call me cynical but I would definitely blame it on the church’s patriarchal tendencies, i.e. priority #1 for women is to stay home and take care of the kids.

    I wouldn’t know why a man has to be married if he’s over the age of 30 to serve as a temple worker. It’s possible that they would like all temple workers to be married by age 30, but they don’t put that restriction on women due to the higher number of single sisters in the church.

    For the purposes of this post though, I would guess that the young man in the video was allowed to serve a temple worker at such a young age for one of two reasons:

    (1) He was considered extremely zealous and spiritually mature for his age.
    (2) He was not able to serve a mission (for whatever reason) and so they gave him something else to do.

    If anyone has another opinion, I’d love to hear it.

  14. faithoffathers permalink
    October 13, 2009 7:29 pm

    Just a thought on the whole patriarchal oppression bit-

    My wife and I have 4 daughters- oldest is 15, youngest is 5. The last 15 years have been very challenging for my wife, as is quite normal for any young mother caring for children. Although rewarding and important, having a calling in the church can add to a mother’s load.

    The other side of the coin you may not be considering is that the leaders of the church have publically asked local leaders to be sensitive to the time and emotional needs of young mothers. While you see these criteria for temple service as an exclusive thing, could there be an element of protection in there? I can easily imagine a local bishop recognize in a young mother great spiritual strength and potential and want to call her to serve in the temple. I think the brethren are trying to protect the moms out there rather than exclude them. I personally don’t know too many young LDS moms who are pining away to have a formal calling to work in the temple. But then again, I don’t know everybody in the church!

    By the way, I am not convinced that the young fella in the video is being straight up- I have never heard of an 18 year old kid being asked to work full-time in the temple. I doubt it in a big way. And aren’t all the guys in Adam’s Road returned missionaries?

  15. October 13, 2009 7:36 pm

    FOF,

    I jsut realized I have called you Shem yet again. I am a twit! Please accept my apologies!

    Darrell

  16. faithoffathers permalink
    October 13, 2009 7:59 pm

    Darrell,

    No problem.

    The renting of the veil of the temple is an interesting topic. The event had more than one meaning. The veil represented the barrier between us and God, sometimes equated to death (it is after passing through death that we meet God).

    One symbolism of the renting was the reality that Christ was passing through death, the barrier that had had complete power over mankind. Christ broke that barrier, hence the symbolism of the veil being rent.

    There is another symbolisms though. And that is that instead of only the High Priest (of which there was only one per year) being able to enter the Holy of Holies, that place was opened to all who accepted Christ and His gospel and taught by Him and His servants. And that is what we see today in the church- all who repent and receive the ordinances of Christ are free to enter the temple and the Celestial Room in the temple. It was the atonement of Christ that affected this change.

    I know you disagree, but this is completely consistent with the events in the New Testament. The fact that you have a different interpretation is fine.

    By the way, you mention the House of Israel. What is the role you mention?

    In my opinion, most Christians very much underappreciate this topic and the role that Israel will play in the latter days.

    Before the crucifixion, only the High Priest could enter the Holy of Holies.

  17. October 13, 2009 9:03 pm

    FaithofFathers ~ I don’t want to turn this into a gender debate or anything. The problem with the “we’re just protecting women from being burdened with too much work” argument is that it prevents women from being the ones to make that choice for themselves. Additionally, it precludes the possibility that there are women who can effectively handle both motherhood and a temple ordinance worker calling. Say that temple worker callings were available to mothers of minors. A mother who is too busy for said calling can simply protect herself by exercising her agency and refusing the calling. As the current policy stands, it’s basically the same argument as, “Darling, don’t you worry your pretty little head, we’ll take care of it.”

    Personally, I was a SAHM for the last three years, and I found it horribly dull. I wanted more work to do. Now I’m attending seminary full-time, working part-time, signing up for every service project I can with my new church, and I’m still home with my daughter five days a week. I couldn’t be happier with what I’m doing right now.

  18. October 14, 2009 1:37 am

    BJM said, “I would guess that the young man in the video was allowed to serve a temple worker at such a young age for one of two reasons:

    (1) He was considered extremely zealous and spiritually mature for his age.
    (2) He was not able to serve a mission (for whatever reason) and so they gave him something else to do.”

    Reason #1 is exactly what I was thinking. I know he served a mission because that’s when he was challenged by a Baptist minister to read the New Testament and that’s how he ended up leaving Mormonism.

    Anyway, I see no reason to doubt his story, FOF. Wouldn’t it be pretty simple to find out whether or not this video is telling the truth? Why would he risk his credibility like that? I don’t see what the point would be. His mom was also a tenured associate professor at BYU. She and his dad also left Mormonism after Micah challenged them to read the NT. These are credible folks in my opinion. Why would he lie?

  19. October 14, 2009 2:13 pm

    “I know he served a mission because that’s when he was challenged by a Baptist minister to read the New Testament and that’s how he ended up leaving Mormonism.”

    “She and his dad also left Mormonism after Micah challenged them to read the NT”

    I’m not wanting to threadjack your conversation here, but I think there will be a disconnect here for the average reader in these quotes. Maybe you should be more explicit. What is it about the New Testament that causes people to leave Mormonism, especially because Mormons love and use the New Testament?

    Speaking personally–I love the New Testament and can’t get enough of it. Should I leave Mormonism? I don’t get it. Am I missing something? How are these two things somehow mutually exclusive?

  20. October 14, 2009 3:17 pm

    By the way, you mention the House of Israel. What is the role you mention?

    Ah, eschatology… that gets into some pretty deep stuff. Revelation speaks of a role for the House of Israel (the 144,000) and Romans 8 – 11 speak of a role they will play as well. Romans 11:1 specifically says, “Has God cast away His people? Certainly not!” This speaks directly against interpreting “your house” in Matt 23:38 to mean the House of Israel.

    God is going to use Jews who come to Christ to help spread the Gospel during the Great Tribulation. He chose the Israelites to be the people through which He would incarnate Himself and though which His gospel woudl be delivered. Now, at the end times, a large number of these people will be redeemed and help to spread the Gospel to an even larger number of gentiles. How beautiful it is!

    Darrell

  21. October 14, 2009 3:31 pm

    I love the New Testament and can’t get enough of it. Should I leave Mormonism? I don’t get it. Am I missing something? How are these two things somehow mutually exclusive?

    CC,

    I am not saying this to be short or rude, but I would have to say that there is something you are missing that others have seen. In my past conversations with you, you have typically chalked this up to two different but equally valid interpretations. On the other hand, I, and numerous others I know who have left, chalk this up to being two completely different Gospels.

    I know of several people who have left the LDS Church due to the manner in which the New Testament contradicts the Mormon Church’s Gospel. I know you and I have discussed our different views before, but if you are truly interested in exploring this, I would be happy to discuss it with you.

    Have a great day!

    Darrell

  22. Cordelia permalink
    October 14, 2009 3:38 pm

    Jack – Thanks for looking that up. It certainly explains a lot. I was beginning to think the Provo Temple had yet another reason for being unique…

    I guess he did serve a mission, so maybe your Reason #1 is the best explanation. Still, it seems very odd to me and, though I have no reason to doubt his experience, it makes me wonder exactly what his circumstances were to allow such special exceptions.

    Oh, and Clean Cut–I totally agree with you. I’ve read the NT soooo many times, both in English and my mission language and, though I may be told I’m reading it wrong because I come at it with an LDS perspective, I still love it and think it’s full of support for LDS theology. =)

  23. Cordelia permalink
    October 14, 2009 3:46 pm

    Darrell – It’s funny that you should mention your view of the NT and that you think those who read it who don’t leave the LDS Church are just “missing” something. I could easily say it the other way around–that those who are outside the LDS Church who read the NT and don’t end up joining that church are also missing something. And while you know many who have left because of apparent contradictions, I know of several people who have joined the LDS Church due to the manner in which the New Testament supports the gospel as taught in the LDS Church. So, you see, it does work both ways. =)

  24. October 14, 2009 4:09 pm

    So, you see, it does work both ways.

    Agreed. Here’s the thing though… we both can’t be right.

    Keep in mind that there is a spiritual battle going on here. 2 Cor 10-11 tells us this much. There is a war of ideas, worldviews, and allegences for which there are consequences. 2 Cor 11 warns that there will be those who come preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but are really preaching a twisted false gospel. They come cloaked in righteouness, claiming to be apostles of Christ (vv. 13-15), but in the end their Gospel is false.

    My point is this, just because someone claims to be teaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ does not make it so. They could easily be a false apostle who is distorting the simplicity of Jesus Christ’s message. They may even be fooled themselves… thinking they are a minister of righteousness who in the end will receive according to his works (v 15).

    As a result, we need to examine what the say and teach closely. The differences between Christianity andd Mormonism are so vast that they cannot be the same Gospel: the nature of God is different, the nature of Christ is different, the method of salvation is different, the origin of man is different, and one teaches theosis. These are two completely different Gospels. And which one we choose to follow bears consequences.

    Darrell

  25. Cordelia permalink
    October 14, 2009 4:38 pm

    I know we can’t both be right. And yes, there are people on both sides who are absolutely convinced that they are on the right path, but God is allowing them both to live and grow together until that day when the wheat and the tares, the sheep and the goats, will be separated and both groups of people receive their just rewards.

    I was simply pointing out that your implication, that those who read the NT closely will see whatever it is they are missing and therefore leave the LDS Church, is unfounded. Of course both sides are going to think they are doing what is right. It just so happens that we think we’re on the right path, and you think you are. And I really doubt either of us are ever going to completely convince everyone on the opposing side that our side is correct. Maybe a few people will go back and forth, but didn’t the Lord say that He wants us to be either hot or cold, and if we are lukewarm He will spew us out of his mouth? (Rev 3:15-16) We must choose a side. We have both done that, so now we must be valiant to what we believe is true so that we may see what our reward is in the world to come.

  26. October 14, 2009 4:53 pm

    I was simply pointing out that your implication, that those who read the NT closely will see whatever it is they are missing and therefore leave the LDS Church, is unfounded.

    Let me clarify what I mean here as I don’t want to be mistaken. I was not saying that all who read the New Testament closely will choose to leave the LDS Church. There are many factors that come into play when it comes to this: a person’s will, worldview, to whom/what they give their allegiance, etc. As a perfect example, there are many scholars who study the New Testament very closely, but choose to remain agnostic.

    As I mentioned, there is a spiritual battle going on, and there are many who ae unknowingly deceived. One of the most important factors, IMO, is to whom/what a person chooses to give their allegiance: Is is to a church, to self, or to God?

    Darrell

  27. October 14, 2009 4:59 pm

    Oh, and I forgot to clarify… when I said “to God” I should have also said, “and if so, which God?” For there are many who say they love and follow God, but they are not following The One and Only True God.

    Darrell

  28. October 14, 2009 5:04 pm

    Darrell, I do have a question for you. If a Trinitarian Christian who doesn’t have the whole Trinity worked out/understood properly, and perhaps even unknowingly errors on the side of heresy, would you say that they are worshipping a different God? Are they also not following The One and Only True God?

  29. October 14, 2009 5:10 pm

    CC,

    You are setting up a false dichotomy here, CC.

    Did this God they are worshipping appear to a man in 1820 and did the individual who is worshipping this God actually say, “for the Christ of whom they [traditional Christians] speak is not the Christ of whom I speak”?

    The difference between the Mormon God and the Christian God goes much deeper than a simple misunderstanding/difference on the nature of the Trinity.

    Darrell

  30. October 14, 2009 5:30 pm

    Darrell, I assure you I wasn’t even going to go there. I’m not trying to set up an apologetic debate. This is a sincere attempt to get inside the mind of a thoughtful Christian and how you would perceive others of your own belief system who may be in error. It’s based off of curiosity, nothing more. I do wonder if different perceptions about or mistaken views of the Triune God would qualify the innocent heretics as believers of a different God. Sincere question.

  31. October 14, 2009 6:26 pm

    CC,

    Cool! Thanks for the clarification.

    IMO, this would depend upon how much a divergence you are talking about. Has this person become a full blown tri/poly-theist? For this has been utterly condemned in The Bible. Are they denying that Christ is the One and Only True God? Are they denying that the Holy Spirit is the One and Only True God? Are they denying that The Father is the One and Only True God?

    Darrell

  32. October 14, 2009 7:31 pm

    Thanks Darrell.

    Of course, one thing sparks another curiosity. How does a Christian find the proper balance between the Trinitarian extremes of modalism and tri-theism?

    I wonder if by rigidly emphasizing the oneness of God, it’s possible that many Trinitarians de-emphasize the plurality–or threeness–of God? Knowing that a Trinitarian accepts the fact that the Father is not the Son, the Son is not the Father, and the Holy Ghost/Spirit is also another person, my next question is where/how would a Trinitarian disagree with this statement: “All those who believe and teach of God the Father, and also accepts the divinity of Christ, and of the Holy Ghost, teaches a plurality of Gods”.

    Is the concern that referring to the three divine persons as “Gods” equates to tri-theism? Furthermore, which kind of Christian is “worse off”, so to speak: A modalist or a tri-theist?

  33. October 14, 2009 8:06 pm

    The beautiful thing about the Trinity is that it is so simple, and yet we as humans, due to our falleness and finiteness, have trouble comprehending it. I look forward to the day when I dwell with God and see Him as He truly is! Here is what is so simple about it:

    There is One and only One God. This God has existed eternally as 3 Persons: Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

    Any Heresy you look at typically emphasizes and/or denies some part of this: God Being Eternally One, God existing Eternally as Three Persons, The Divinity of all Three Persons in the Godhead, etc. Why do people do this? I generally find they do it because they want God to be able to contained inside their mind. Since they cannot get their mind around God, they lessen Him and in the process, create a God they feel comfortable with. A God after their own image. This is a sin. Where in scripture did God say we should be able to fully comprehend Him? Nowhere! If fact, He generally said the opposite… He went to great lengths to emphasize how great and uncomprehendable He is; all the while telling us how we are like grasshoppers. To create a God we can comprehend is actually a form of idolatry.

    how would a Trinitarian disagree with this statement: “All those who believe and teach of God the Father, and also accepts the divinity of Christ, and of the Holy Ghost, teaches a plurality of Gods”.

    Would you mind clarifying this for me? I want to make sure I fully understand your question. Also, some questions come up on this: Does this person believe that Christ and the Holy Ghost are eternal, uncreated, not spirit born, and are all one God with the Father?

    Is the concern that referring to the three divine persons as “Gods” equates to tri-theism?

    Well, there are several problems/heresies that have come into existence as a result of over emphasizing the threeness of God. One that came into existence in the early church was the teaching that Christ was created – Arianism. Obviously, this violates numerous Old Testament passages. Really and truly the fear behind this extreme is that it vilolates what God has gone to painstaking lengths to tell us about Himself… that there is One and Only One God and that He has always existed fully as God.

    Furthermore, which kind of Christian is “worse off”, so to speak: A modalist or a tri-theist?

    That is hard to answer. Kind of like asking, “Which accident is better. Falling off of a 10 story building or getting caught in a fire?” Both are dangerous as they both violate the Word of God.

    Darrell

  34. October 14, 2009 8:47 pm

    Darrell, I guess my question revolves around the distinctness of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit–how much of that is lost by rigidly emphasizing the oneness of God (fully biblical) but not emphasizing the plurality/threeness of God (also fully biblical). Sometimes what I hear from Trinitarians translates into this: “Yes, they’re distinct, but they’re not REALLY distinct”.

    Anyway, well done in describing the Trinity and your point about not fully comprehending it. I respect it and I hear your point about how God never said that he should be fully comprehended. I agree. Of course, He also never said that He exists eternally as 3 Persons, but I digress.

    Have you ever read my post “That They May Be One As We Are One”? http://latterdayspence.blogspot.com/2009/05/that-they-may-be-one-as-we-are-one.html

    I tried really hard there to accurately capture the idea of the Trinity, as well as an LDS understanding of the Godhead. With an different interpretation of God’s oneness than traditional Christians, I wonder whether LDS Christians are considered “tri-theists”, and whether you would consider them worse off than or about the same as Christian tri-theists along the spectrum of heresy, or even about the same as Christian modalists in the other direction.

    As for the quotation that you want me to clarify, it’s a bit complicated. You asked “Does this person believe that Christ and the Holy Ghost are eternal, uncreated, not spirit born, and are all one God with the Father?” It’s my common experience that Traditional Christians say that LDS believe that Christ is created. However, that is very inaccurate. If we’re talking about spirit birth, then there is no common agreement about that within Mormonism. Joseph Smith never taught it. Joseph Smith taught that all of us have an eternal identity, and that the mind of man, our spirits, were neither created or made. I that respect, at least in some way we are co-eternal with God, who is also Eternal and uncreated. Thus, Jesus has always been Jesus. The only “created” thing about Jesus was his mortal body.

    Didn’t mean to get even further off topic. I don’t mean to turn this blog into a replica of “New Cool Thang” and debate various models of pre-existence. 🙂

  35. October 14, 2009 10:37 pm

    CC,

    I will check out your post. Thanks for the link.

    In regards to God saying He has eternally existed as three persons, I have to disagree with you. The Father, Holy Spirit, and Christ are each referred to as God numerous times throughout The Bible. In addition, God Himself has told us that there is One and only One God, and He has always existed. The doctrine of the Trinity is nothing more than a statement of these very facts – There is One God who eternally exists as three Persons.

    I wonder whether LDS Christians are considered “tri-theists”, and whether you would consider them worse off than or about the same as Christian tri-theists along the spectrum of heresy, or even about the same as Christian modalists in the other direction.

    Personally I consider the Mormon Church to be non-Christian… in that I don’t believe they worship and follow the Christ/God of The Bible. I know you will not agree with me, and I don’t say it to offend you. I would be happy to discuss my reasons for this belief if you would like. In answering your other questions, I will partially touch on a few of them below.

    As far as LDS Members, I find some whom I would refer to as tri-theists: they believe the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three separate Gods and Christ was a spirit born Son of God who progressed to become “like unto God”. However, I find others whom I would refer to as poly-theists: they believe that God the Father had a God prior to Him and that they themselves will progress to become Gods of their own worlds.

    It’s my common experience that Traditional Christians say that LDS believe that Christ is created. However, that is very inaccurate. If we’re talking about spirit birth, then there is no common agreement about that within Mormonism.

    Many Christians who don’t understand LDS venacular will use the word “created” when referring to the LDS Jesus. Being a former Mormon I understand that the Mormon Church does not believe or teach that anything was created. Hence, the LDS Jesus was not creaed. However, where you and I may disagree is on the teaching of Christ being Spirit Born. I can supply numerous quotes from LDS General Authorities throughout the years where they specifically teach that Christ is a Spirit Born Son of God the Father. While Ostler and his followers have diverged from the teachings of past General Authorities in this area, it is still a well known and widely taught belief within the Mormon Church. In fact, the LDS Church teaces that we are all spirit born sons and daughters of God the Father and His wife; Jesus Christ happens to the first spirit born son and our older brother. The teaching that Christ was an intelligence who was then Spirit Born to the Father necessitates the fact that He, as God, changed. This is divergent from the teachings of The Bible which says that God does not change.

    Another factor to bear in mind on this is the Nature of God the Father in Mormonism. The current LDS Temple Ceremony teaches that God the Father “gained His knowledge” just as Adam and Eve did. This carries with it numerous problems, and actually sounds an aweful lot like the teachings of JS in the King Follet Discourse. This very teaching is one of the reasons you will find many Mormons who believe God the Father has a Father God, for if God the Father had to “gain His knowledge” at one time, who was God while He didn’t have knowledge? In addition, this speaks of a changing God… something The Bible wholeheartedly speaks against.

    God Bless!

    Darrell

  36. October 15, 2009 12:47 am

    Darrell, most people are surprised (as well as confused) to encounter so much diversity of thought within the LDS faith, even among the General Authorities.

    Let me share two posts I think you may find very enlightening:
    “Why We’re Confused”, by Bridget Jack Meyers
    http://timesandseasons.org/index.php/2009/06/why-were-confused/

    And then specifically on the variety of models/ideas about spirit birth or no spirit birth: “Tripartite existentialism”
    http://bycommonconsent.com/2009/04/15/tripartite-existentialism/

  37. October 15, 2009 1:37 am

    CC,

    Thanks for the links. For the record, I am not confused by the diversity of thought within Mormonism. Bear in mind I was LDS for most of my adult life. While LDS I served in several leadership positions, and prior to leaving the Church, I studied the arguments for and against Mormonism quite well.

    Have a great night!

    Darrell

  38. October 15, 2009 1:52 am

    I’m not linking to that because I think you’re confused, Darrell. Simply that it’s informative for many people (including members of the LDS Church) who aren’t aware of such diversity of thought and insights into why this is.

  39. October 15, 2009 4:12 am

    Clean Cut and Cordelia,

    Your comments sparked a lot of curiosity with me and I decided to start a new thread on this topic. Hoping to hear some good comments from LDS on how the NT supports LDS theology! 🙂

    https://ilovemormons.wordpress.com/2009/10/15/does-the-new-testament-support-lds-doctrines/

  40. faithoffathers permalink
    October 15, 2009 7:55 pm

    Darrell,

    Who is the person in the endowment who teaches that “God the Father “gained His knowledge” just as Adam and Eve did?”

    Something to consider.

    fof

  41. October 15, 2009 8:20 pm

    There are numerous problems with simply writing it off as false because satan said it.

    First, there is no evidence that it is a false statement and everything else he said during the ceremony is readily accepted by Mormons as truth (that is unless it is corrected somewhere else in the temple ceremony) – that they have to partake to gain knowledge, tree is good, etc. Second, the LDS Church writes the Temple Ceremony, so why would they have it in there if it is a lie? Certainly, if it was a lie they would either not include it or correct it somewhere else within the ceremony. They would not allow this HUGE heresy to hang out there uncorrected. Lastly, this teaching actually sounds a lot like what JS taught in the King Follet Discourse, so you actually have SUPPORT for it outside the Temple Ceremony.

    Darrell

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