Recently through Facebook I answered a poorly written (as usual) article from one Rob Bowman, which itself was a response to something written by Dr. Daniel Peterson.
Mr. Bowman claims that several items in LDS doctrine don’t have a clear postion on them which is rather incorrect. I shall endeavor to respond to each of his points some of which are quite inane (see entry on Mary’s virgin birth.)
#1. Did the Father become God after passing through a period of testing and exaltation, so that he was not always God but rather became God?
There is no official position on this but if one pays attention to the King Follett Discourse Joseph uses Christ as the archetype of how the Father experienced mortality, seeing as how Christ was divine even in mortality it is obvious Joseph is declaring the same of the Father, the part he states with the Father not being God and enthroned eternally is not a reference to any lack in being theos, but rather that there was a time when the Father wasn’t actively ruling and enthroned. No more no less. However given that we have no official position on the topic members themselves are free to take whichever view they choose. Bowman may not like the position the church takes a firm “we don’t know” but an answer is hardly non existent or unclear.
#2. Was the Father a sinner during his mortality? Could he have been a sinner?
Here again is something the church takes no official position on, which while not really answering is different than having an indeterminate position on the topic the postion is determined as “we don’t know, and such is irrelevant, as He is God now.”
#3. Is the Father still progressing in knowledge or power?
Define knowledge and power and then we’ll talk, we believe God knows all that can possibly be known and has power to do that which is possible to do. Once again the position is quite defined and determined.
#4. What is the relation of the Holy Ghost to the Father? Is the Holy Ghost another spirit son of the Father? If not, who is he?
Yes we hold that the Holy Ghost is another spirit son of God, hard to believe with all the claimed knowledge of Mormonism that Bowman asserts that this has somehow alluded him. My 6 yr old son answered this readily.
#5 Was there a God before our Heavenly Father who was his Father? Was there a Father before that one, and so in, in an infinite regress of divine Fathers?
Irrelevant frankly, additionally another instance where the church position is decidedly “we don’t know” which is again different than a we don’t have a clear answer.
#6. Is Heavenly Mother a God (or Goddess)? Yes (see Section 132) This is quite clear in LDS theology. Again one wonders if Bowman even pays attention.
If so, why shouldn’t we worship her, since she is our divine Mother and is even the divine Mother of Jesus Christ? Why isn’t Heavenly Mother a member of the Godhead?
Again the answer here is quite obvious, God has commanded that we worship Him in the name of the Son, or that our worship is given to Father, Son and Holy Ghost as a unit as they are one God.
#7. Is worship properly given to the Father only, or to the Father and the Son?
See the extension of my previous answer worship is properly given to the Father in the name of the Son, the Son can also be worshiped due to the principles of divine invesiture as can the Holy Ghost as part of the functioning Godhead.
#8. Were we actual self-conscious, individual persons from all eternity, or did we become such persons at some distant point in the past preexistence?
See Section 93 of the Doctrine and Covenants. Which answers this question. Our eternal essence of who we are is just that: eternal. That said, essence clothed in a spiritual vessel or spirit body doesn’t change the fact that it was already a self aware agent unto itself capable of choosing for itself. Again one wonders if Rob has even paid attention.
#9. Did our heavenly parents literally procreate us as their spirit offspring, and again, what did that change about us if we were eternally preexistent?
Answered more or less in my previous response, but I’ll go further and ask why Rob supposes literal procreation as necessary or even the method by which spirit bodies are organized? Could Rob please tell me the gestation period of a spirit fetus?
We don’t know the process or methodology use nor do we claim to, we do declare that the only change was our eternal essence or intelligence was clothed upon by a spiritual body, itself being composed of eternal existent elements. This is pretty basic stuff yet again.
#10. If our heavenly parents literally procreated us as their offspring in the preexistence, why did they procreate us as spirits rather than as physical beings like themselves?
Again Bowman is begging the question here on literal procreation, which itself is also something we don’t claim and represents somewhat of a strawman. If Robert would like to rephrase his question so that it is no longer reliant upon fallacy I would be happy to address why we were clothed upon with only spirit first of all. (Hint: God intended it that way)
#11. If mortality and exaltation are essential steps in attaining Godhood, how did Jesus Christ become a God in the preexistence when he was Jehovah, before he had become mortal and attained exaltation? (He just did, okay? That seems to be the usual answer.)
Laying aside the flippancy here, actually the answer is again found in Section 93 of the Doctrine and Covenants. Christ was with God from the beginning by virtue of who He was. His intelligence or eternal essence was always in perfect alignment and willing submission to the Father, thus He was theos (or God or Divine a qualitative designation) inherently, where as we aren’t. However this inquiry from Bowman begs the question that being theos requires exaltation, which isn’t the case. One can be theos or God and also not yet exalted as is the case for the pre-existent Christ, and the currently spirit form of the Holy Ghost. While it is true one can’t be exalted without becoming theos, it isn’t true that one must first be exalted in order to become theos.
#12. Mormonism affirms that Jesus Christ is the literal son of Heavenly Father and of Mary his mother in the flesh, actually “sired” by Heavenly Father. Is it consistent with this doctrine to infer that the Father impregnated Mary by physically uniting with her, i.e., is there anything in LDS doctrine that actually denies that this happened?
I’ll interject here and say yes our affirmation of the Virgin Birth, again one wonders if Rob really knows Mormon beliefs like he claims. He does however pull a classic Bowman and beg the question that physical union is the only way that the Father could’ve been the literal sire of Christ. Never mind that modern science can now produce literal offspring of two parties without direct physical union between them, but 2000 years ago the supreme ruler of the universe that simple speaks worlds without end into existence couldn’t manage to combine genetic material from Himself and Mary and place it in her womb without direct physical union… smh is all I’ve got there.
<continting with the initial question>
If that is not how Jesus was conceived, how was he conceived such that he is the Father’s literal physical offspring?(Peterson’s “question” on this topic is, “Was Jesus the son of Joseph?” which neatly sidesteps the problem. Mormons usually take offense at these questions, however politely they may be asked, rather than offering any answers to them. Orthodox Christians don’t have this problem because their theology absolutely precludes the notion of God uniting physically with Mary.)
Neither do Mormons have this issue as I’ve explained.
#13. Is the hill where Joseph Smith discovered the gold plates the same hill called Cumorah in the Book of Mormon?
No. The New York drumlin was called Cumorah later by the saints starting with Oliver Cowdery, but there really isn’t given a careful reading of the text reason to view the hill where Moroni buried the record as the same hill they fought their final battles at, or where the other records kept by Mormon were buried. Though again the church takes no official position regarding geography which is different than indeterminacy that Bowman asserts.
#14. Is the Book of Abraham a translation of text that appeared on one of the papyri that the LDS Church bought in 1835?
Yes, though it ought to be noted that the fragments that we now have don’t come from the material Joseph translated for the Book of Abraham, such material is no longer extant.
#15. Is the Bible missing any books that are actually extant today, and if so, why doesn’t the LDS Church include them in their editions of the Bible?
If they are currently extant why would they be missing? Kind of a silly question eh Rob?
Undoubtedly there are books out there that could have warranted inclusion in the Bible, but weren’t, the purpose of the restoration isn’t to restore every lost book to the Bible but rather the lost teachings and understandings and authority. Speaking of which…
#16. Why did the early church become apostate—because the Christians were bad, or because of persecution, or what? (Mormons have a tough time with this question. It’s a dilemma:
Actually no it isn’t a dilemma the apostasy of teachings was slow and gradual over time, the loss of authority (which our contention of apostasy is more about anyways) and specifically apostolic authority was actually fairly rapid seeing as they were killed off faster than new ones could be called.
#17. If the purpose of polygamy is to “raise up seed,” then why did Joseph Smith apparently not have any children by his plural wives?
Only one purpose of plural marriage was to raise up seed, also never mind that raising up seed doesn’t mean simply many total overall children, but rather more children into specific families.
It is also interesting the Lord uses the phrase raise up seed in speaking of His covenant with Abraham, that would seem to me that raising up seed is the increase in covenant families and generations of the church. Nevertheless as Section 132 states raising up seed is but one of many reasons for it.
In the end this is a classic case of Bowman wanting to be right vs wanting to get it right.
With actually very little time and effort the answers to these questions could have been had, most of them likely through conversation with some 10 yr olds.
It is always unfortunate when polemics takes precedence over the facts and getting it right.