Answering Bowman

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.)

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.”

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. 

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.

<6 continued>

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.

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. 

. 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. 

#12Mormonism 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. 

. 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…

. 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. 


Some Thoughts on Discipleship

In a conversation with an Evangelical Christian they at one point commented with this.

《 I don’t ever see Jesus saying “give your best effort”. And, when He talks about eternal life, I don’t see Jesus ever combining effort/works/commandment keeping and believing. I only see one or the other. What do you make if that?》

The following is what I make of that

You’re welcome to take those views.

I see God requiring us to love and serve Him with all our heart might mind and strength (give our best effort everything we have)

If we don’t love God with all our heart might mind and strength we are failing.

And need something to save us from failure.

The other thing is that our effort, commandment keeping etc, they are part of believing, they are part of faith, they aren’t something foreign to or separate from faith they are facets of it.

If one claims faith and trust in Christ and isn’t a doer of the word, their faith is merely lip service and they will say “Lord Lord…” and be told He never knew them.

Obedience isn’t an addition to faith it is the very core of it. It isn’t a separate thing. It is simply a facet of it That’s they way I see Christ, James, Paul, John, Peter, and all the Holy prophets speaking about.  It isn’t do this and this and this plus believe.

It is if you believe you’ll do, this and this, and this

And those that don’t do that aren’t believers or those that cease doing them are cut off the vine So where you see it as a this + that scenario when I describe it I see that view as totally foreign not only to my mindset, but to what the scriptures describe.

The condemnation of works in the NT is a condemnation of thinking:

1. That if we do xyz God will owe us Salvation or eternal life
2. That we can do enough and become enough to earn eternal life on our own.

That’s what Paul condemns not the righteousness and obedient living of discipleship.

Paul declares that such a life is necessary and that if one claims to be a believer they have to do those things, and that such things are a part of the whole of belief.

Christ declares it too, that’s why He says we must take up our Cross, put His yoke upon us, be ye therefore perfect etc. 

Because faith or fidelty (the word used in Greek), staying true to something (Christ) is what saves us. You can’t stay true to Christ if you aren’t doing what He asks, becoming what He desires, and walking the path He walked, relying on Him and the power of His Atonement to cleanse us, strengthen us, enlarge our capacity, provide mercy and forgiveness then you don’t truly have “faith” or fidelity to Christ. 

Health Care Solutions

Best way to achieve the result you want is to setup a scenario where you reward the behaviors that bring about said result. 

Case in point: We want to have pre existing conditions or things like Autism covered by insurance and we want to keep premiums down.

Problem is covering those things increases the cost to insurers, which insurers compensate for by increasing premiums.

So how do we get both. Well ultimately it takes conpromise. Additionally I don’t plan on getting into the nitty gritty and fine details of how and what exact solution should be implemented. What I want to discuss is the frame work or a framework from which we can then arrive at quality soutions.

This compromise must occur mutually between all involved parties, namely: Insurers, health care providers, consumers, and government.

Now one of the things we seem to really suck at in this country is correctly identifying root causes to problems. We also are pretty crappy when it comes to forming mutually beneficial partnerships with those whose interest isn’t perfectly aligned with ours.

For example, for some idiotic reason we in this country have demonized and made villains out of the wealthy, and CEOs, and Corporations, and enterprise as if those entities were the source of our problems. Now sometimes they might be, but in reality they aren’t our enemies and ultimately those corporations and CEOs, and enterprise, can and should be the source of our relief and soutions.

You know what else isn’t in our benefit? Government trying to be an active participating party. Government works best when it acts as referee or adjudicator, it is at its worst when it tries to accomplish that task by not only playing referee, but then playing league commissioner at the same time. Like it does with health care and taxation.

Now moving forward to compromise and who should compromise what.

Government needs to compromise on size and authority, let the market and freedom and incentive be the guiding principles. You want insurers to pick up more high risk people and cover stuff that they know hits their bottom line hard?

Then throw them a bone and alleviate their tax burden for doing so,  Open up interstate borders for competitive commerce. Reward the good you want do not simply invoke penalty for that which you don’t want.

Insurers, recognize that when we live in a society where ultimately people have access to health care and utilize it, that ultimately leads to a healthier population, and is in your best long term interest as well. And if their outgoing going financial burdens are lightened no doubt they will he more willing to endure the short term hit on their bottom line in order to provide this coverage.

Providers, compromise by getting some standardization in your pricing structure, and be more transparent about it.

Consummers, understand and compromise on the fact that in reality we aren’t entitled to insurance, it isn’t a right, health care provided for by trained medical professionals isn’t a right, it is a privilege and service, and you don’t have a right to it.

Now I certainly don’t want to live in a society that doesn’t want to provide that service, but recognize it is a service, recognize the hard work that goes into providing that service at a high level and understand that those skills and services will come at a price, and a hospital and doctor etc need to stay solvent to provide you with it 

So compromise and understand that the more you ask for the more it is going to cost. The more high risk and high draw people are put in the system the more it is going to cost.

So compromise as well by sacrificing some of your pleasures to be more healthy yourself. Nobody owes you healthcare it’s your health your body take responsibility and ownership and ease your own draw on the system as much as you can.

And everybody think of the long long term, and sacrifice some of your own self interest sometimes in order to do what benefits the most possible people for the longest possible time.

Don’t make villains out ofthose who view things differently than you.  Don’t operate with contempt for those who disagree with you and view them or their ideas as worthless. Stop using all or nothing mentalities or the idea that if the “other side gets something they want you’ve lost” give that crap up it isn’t helping anyone. 

Take the time to rightly identify root causes and work towards soutions those, and realize their likely isn’t a quick fix and patience to stay the course and endure hardship, and set backs will be needed. 

Mostly take the best of what each side has to offer and find a way to incorporate that and make sure everybody comes away with something benefitting them and their perspective. 

Stop trying to divide and pit people and entities against each other and unite and seek to bring opposing sides together not further alienate them. 

The solution to our health care woe isn’t easy, but it isn’t all that hard either, it simply requires compromise and sacrifice 


The difference between Lament and Complaint 

As most who know are aware I have a son with Autism. I talk about Cohen frequently. His triumphs, his silliness, the frustration he experiences, and the frustration he causes. 

You’ve probably heard me pontificate on the many ways and aspects for which I’ve become a better human in the many facets of my multiple areas of life, and how I attribute these to growth facilitated because of autism. 

You may have even heard me declare my gratitude for it, and the blessing I feel it to be in my life. And I am sincere in that declaration. I feel truly blessed and humbled by the trust my Heavenly Father has had in me, demonstrated by sending me a soul so powerful, and unique, as Cohen, and pairing it with a body so weighted down with some truly harsh physical limitations. 

You might not as often heard me also declare how blessed I feel for my other children and how I don’t think Cohen could have better siblings and humbled I am that I was also entrusted with their great souls. 

What you’ve probably not heard in all my effervescent praise of: my boys, my wife, the lessons learned, obstacles overcome etc, is the heartache, stress, worry, pain, and occasional hopelessness that accompanies all that joyous goodness.

Much of that stems from what I mention above as true gratitude for what I do have and an understanding of how fortunate we are even in the midst of a legitimately crappy situation.  And not wanting to appear ungrateful I haven’t wanted to complain. 

Which brings me to the crux of today’s post. I’ve come to realize there is a vast difference between Lamenting and mourning for what isn’t or might never be, and complaint, and murmuring over the way things are. 

To explore this further let’s look at how lament differs from murmuring or complaining. 

A lament is by definition a passionate expression of grief or sorrow or a mourning. 

A complaint by contrast is an expression of discontent, and resentment. 

My disaffection with autism isn’t a matter of discontent, or resentment at my situation, it is a sorrow and mourning for what isn’t, tempered with an ongoing gratitude for what I do have, and the reality that my situation could be worse but isn’t and I’m genuinely blessed, and really in a successful situation despite the hardships. 

I’ve learned it is okay to be mournful and even upset and times and to have the desire to say “Screw you Autism”

And this is not the same as complaining, and being bitter and discontent or resentful at my situation. 
I look at the Lament of Christ as he overlooked Jerusalem, and His commenting wondering how oft would He have gathered her?  And the reality that He was still willing and able to gather her, and that He hadn’t become bitter and resentful and spiteful towards His people, but rather was mourning that they hadn’t sought Him. 

But if they did seek Him, His arms were open stretched out and ready to receive them. 

To this effect I feel similarly with my situation I have timed when I mourn for what isn’t, and yet I’m fully ready to embrace what is and accept the next challenge the next obstacle the next whatever, and to do so with humility and gratitude trusting in my Heavenly Father to continue to uphold me and magnify my efforts to meet these things and continue to learn and move forward. 

Complaint on the other hand would have me bitter, and bemoaning every challenge, cursing each obstacle and short coming, and resentful of my life and situation. 

In the end it’s okay to be frustrated, annoyed, irrtated, and upset at times, and even okay to voice these the feelings. The key is to recognize even in the midst of these trials the goodness and mercy and blessings that we do have and remaining grateful. 

I know we all have our own hard rows to hoe in life, and if you ever need a hand with yours let me know I’ll help however I can. Heaven knows I’ve had countless people help me with mine. 

Continuing in the Christmas Spirit and the Footsteps of Christ

Mosiah 15:1-5 Used to confuse me. Once I realized it is only about Christ it made perfect sense.
Where it refers to the Father it references Christ’s premortal self as Jehovah, and the Son is reference to his flesh and mortal side.
He perfectly subjected his flesh (Son) to His Spirit (Father) which made it possible for Him to not yield to temptation to perform miracles, and to enduring the suffering of the Atonement.

At first glance it is tricky but once that is understood it becomes an plain and simple and beautiful truth that Abinadi is bearing witness of.

That God (Jehovah/Jesus) made a promise or Covenant to our fathers Adam, Abraham etc and viewed it of such great necessity and importance that He Himself would come down to dwell among us in flesh in order to ensure that His portion of that Covenant was kept.

As we exit the Christmas season that celebrates His long awaited arrival to fulfil that promise let us keep the light and hope of this season with us through the coming year, and focus on easing the burdens and cares of others rather than bludgeoning them with our ideology.
Love others as He loved you, not leaving the well being of others to be handled by another but take it upon yourself as He did, to alleviate the suffering of those whom it is in your power to aid, no matter how small that circle.

No matter what our political leanings or way of thinking whether liberal, or conservative, or something in between we will improve the world faster and more effectively through looking to serve others and lighten their burdens ourselves, rather than waiting for another or worse hoping to have government and legislation enacted to deal with these issues.

Christ was the God of Heaven and Earth, and what He had promised was of such great importance to Him that He didn’t entrust it to others or governmental entities, and He didn’t achieve it through dictat and edict, but through self sacrifice, and personal service and humility.

We would be wise to follow suit.

The Nature of God as taught by the Bible absent Creedal Presupposition

A friend of mine Noé Correa, wrote the following on what the Bible teaches regarding who/what God is according to the Bible looking purely at what the text itself teaches. These remarks were part of a Facebook conversation in which I have not reproduced the comments to which Noé is responding particularly because I find his words suitable by themselves. 

Many Bible passages have been quoted with a Creedal reading of the text. Also, many scholars were quoted with no actual engagement with the text. Please let me explain how I (and perhaps others) understand my biblical LDS beliefs. First, correct me if I am wrong, but the trinitarian concept being discussed here (this isn’t the only concept), is that there is one being who is God (YHWH), who consists of three persons: the Father, the Son/Word, and the Holy Spirit. Am I correct? By this definition all references to the God of Israel or God of the New Testament must include Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. If we are trying to define our beliefs biblically then it is necessary that we be able to locate that belief in at least one passage in the Bible. You see, we can all do scriptural gymnastics but if no one author or person ever said that the one ontological God (YHWH) is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, then we can see why it is not considered biblical to LDS. The statement was made several times that the Bible says there is only one God (ontologically) with no biblical citation. I am quite aware of passages regarding the idea of “one God” but find the lack of any citations as an attempt to not address the context. I (we) are more than willing to look at those passages in context. I hope that makes sense.

Where Trinitarians understand “one God” in an ontological sense (one being) we understand it in a functional sense (one in purpose). An official LDS statement on the relationship between the Father and the Son says the following:

“…in all His dealings with the human family Jesus the Son has represented and yet represents Elohim His Father in power and authority. This is true of Christ in His preexistent, antemortal, or unembodied state, in the which He was known as Jehovah; also during His embodiment in the flesh; and during His labors as a disembodied spirit in the realm of the dead; and since that period in His resurrected state. To the Jews He said, “I and my Father are one” (John 10:30; see also John 17:11, 22); yet He declared, “My Father is greater than I” (John 14:28), and further, “I am come in my Father’s name” (John 5:43; see also John 10:25). The same truth was declared by Christ Himself to the Nephites (see 3 Ne. 20:35; 3 Ne. 28:10), and has been reaffirmed by revelation in the present dispensation (D&C 50:43). Thus the Father placed His name upon the Son; and Jesus Christ spoke and ministered in and through the Father’s name; and so far as power, authority, and godship are concerned His words and acts were and are those of the Father.” (

“Name” in this sense signifies authority. We believe this concept of what we call Divine Investiture (representation) is consistent with the Bible (John 14:9-10). The Son represents and speaks for the Father (being one in purpose) as “God with us” (Matt 1:23). John states that “No one has ever seen God; the only-begotten God [μονογενὴς θεὸς], who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known” (John 1:18). I hope you don’t consider John to be a “polytheist” because he identifies two Gods. No, he is actually describing their functional unity. In fact polytheism is a late term, identifying the belief and worship of different gods in different ways. LDS doctrine has nothing to do with. We don’t worship the Father on one day in one way and the Son the next day in another way. No, we worship the Father through the Son (John 14:6; Matt 10:40). So there is no need for the term “polytheism.” How about Bible theism? 

This also means that we believe that even as YHWH, the Son represented the Father. We don’t believe that John’s statement that the Only-begotten God reveals God the Father began in the first century, which brings us to Hebrews 1:1-2 (quoted in the above thread). The author clearly states that God (someone distinct and not identified as YHWH/Lord) spoke “in many ways” to the fathers by the prophets. We can see this throughout the OT and there is no need to support it. We believe the principal of these “many ways” was through YHWH the Son. Consistent with Hebrews 1:2, in his mortal ministry, Jesus was the only way God the Father communicated his will: “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9). Not even the Spirit was present until Jesus left: “for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you” (John 16:7). By stating that God has strictly spoken now through the Son, are you suggesting that the Son did nothing before incarnation? You may say no but that is exactly what is being implied. 

Elder Bruce R. McConkie explained Hebrews 1:1-2 in this way:

“Christ proclaims the gospel of the Father. In the ultimate sense the word of salvation comes from the Father. Said Paul, God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son. [Hebrews 1:1]

The Father sent the prophets; they represented him; and they spoke his word. When Jesus quoted the Old Testament prophets to the Nephites, he attributed their words to the Father.

Though the revelations came from the Son, yet in the ultimate sense the truths taught were those of the Father. We are also aware of many instances in which Jesus, acting by divine investiture of authority, speaks in the first person as though he were the Father. Thus Jesus said: My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself. [John 7:16–17]”

(“Our Relationship With The Lord” Elder Bruce R. McConkie BY Speech on March 2, 1982).

Therefore, Jesus can speak about the Temple being his Father’s because everything is the Father’s. This actually brings up another issue. It was not Jesus’ practice to identify the Father as the Lord/ YHWH of the OT. All titles that Jesus used for this Father are never attributed to YHWH in the OT. YHWH is the father of Israel because he chose them, and that’s it (Deut 14:1-2; 32:6; Isa 63:16). Then again, Jesus is also the father of all believers (Matt 9:22). I find it very important to see how divine titles were used. If Jesus is repeatedly called YHWH from the OT and the Father never is, that means something.

I’m glad Acts 3:13 was mentioned but it was never properly addressed. The word Luke uses to identify Jesus is not “son” but παῖς, commonly translated as servant. The identity of the servant of the “God of Abraham…” (and the noun itself) is actually taken from LXX Isaiah 43:10 which is very different than the Hebrew: 

“‘Be my witnesses and I also am a witness,’ says the Lord God, ‘and the servant [παῖς] whom I have chosen so that you might know and believe and understand that I Am. Before me there is no other god and with me there is none”

(γένεσθέ μοι μάρτυρες κἀγὼ μάρτυς λέγει κύριος ὁ θεός καὶ ὁ παῖς ὃν ἐξελεξάμην ἵνα γνῶτε καὶ πιστεύσητε καὶ συνῆτε ὅτι ἐγώ εἰμι ἔμπροσθέν μου οὐκ ἐγένετο ἄλλος θεὸς καὶ μετ᾽ ἐμὲ οὐκ ἔσται). 

I quoted the whole passage because it is important to note that the YHWH of Isaiah is consistently identified as Jesus throughout the NT, not the Father. In case you missed it, the Lord God calls himself a witness and the chosen servant. Luke understood this to mean Jesus. The Son as YHWH would send himself as Jesus the servant.

Now Acts 5:30: not only does this passage clearly identify the Father as the God who raised the divine Jesus (hence not the same ontological God) but there is more about who raised and who was raised in the book of Acts. Here’s one example, Acts 2:32-36. In a sermon, Peter identifies the divine Jesus and the divine Holy Spirit as distinct from God the Father (vv 32-33) with no mention of ontological unity. It was God who raised and exalted Jesus (two beings). Peter then quotes Psalm 110, which speaks about YHWH and “my Lord” (v 34-35). Often missed is what Peter does next. He says: “Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified” (v 36). Peter has exegeted Psalm 110 beautifully. Where did Peter get the titles “Lord and Christ”? Psalm 110:1 mentions both YHWH and the kingly lord who was the Christ (the anointed one). Therefore, God made the Son both YHWH and Christ. Peter said it. I imagine you don’t like this but it explains why in the Gospels when Jesus asks who did David call Lord, “Lord” is always anarthrous in Greek, pointing to YHWH in the previously quoted passage: εἶπεν κύριος τῷ κυρίῳ μου (Matt 22:44); εἰ οὖν Δαυὶδ καλεῖ αὐτὸν κύριον πῶς υἱὸς αὐτοῦ ἐστιν (22:45). This also explains why whenever Psalm 110:1 is applied directly to Jesus and the Father YHWH/Lord is always changed to something else or left out of the quote entirely (Matt 26:64; Heb 1:3; 8:1; etc).

I have no issue with Acts 5:3-4 calling the Spirit “God” (or describing their functional unity) but I find nothing that suggests He is YHWH or “one God” ontologically with the Father and the Son. It’s just not there. The explanatory phrase/title “Spirit of God” or “Spirit of the YHWH” does not suggest that the Spirit is YHWH. If you are a “servant of the Lord” does that mean you believe you are also the Lord himself? I don’t believe you do. If you believe all references to the “Spirit of God”/“Spirit of the YHWH” are about ontological oneness then there are many passages in the OT that may be difficult for you: 

“Then the Spirit of God clothed Zechariah… and he stood above the people, and said to them, “Thus says God, ‘Why do you break the commandments of YHWH, so that you cannot prosper? Because you have forsaken YHWH, he has forsaken you.’”” (2 Chron 24:20)

Here, the Spirit of God was standing above the people as He quoted God who Himself was speaking about YHWH (third person). I count three who are clearly three ontologically distinct divinities. There is no ontological one-being implied. In fact, at one point Genesis 19:24 was quoted stating that there was one YHWH in heaven and another YHWH on earth. Actually, the author is simply being emphatic. Aside from that, Deuteronomy 6:4 was quoted on another comment stating that YHWH is one, but that’s exactly what we LDS believe. You believe YHWH is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; i.e. “YHWH is three.” So, your interpretation of Genesis 19:24 contradicts your quotation of Deuteronomy 6:4.

Let’s look at the “no other god” and “alone” language in Deutero-Isaiah. (I use this term for clarification and suggest no textual presupposition). Just start reading from the beginning of Deutero-Isaiah (Isa 40), or perhaps from Isaiah 37 just to see the battle between YHWH God and the false idol gods. As subsequent chapters in Isaiah will state, there is no (false idol) god before or after YHWH. No false idol god was with him during creation; he was alone in that sense. Context is everything. If you are trying to argue that YHWH, who is/are Father, Son, Holy Spirit, was/were alone then I would like to see any one passage of scripture that states it. John, on the other hand, identifies the Father as the God in Genesis 1:1 (not YHWH from Gen 2) and clearly distinguishes Him from the God with whom He was in the beginning (John 1:1; τὸν θεόν καὶ θεὸς). Translate this passage however you would like but you have to explain why the second θεός is anarthrous. Of course, we already saw how John 1:18 identifies two: God the Father and the Only-begotten God.

In addition, Hebrews 1:2-3 does not say that the Father and Son are/were one ontological being during creation. No. God (ontologically distinct) created the world through the Son. That means (just like John says) before/during creation God was an ontologically distinct being from his Son. Let’s continue. The author says that the Son was an exact imprint/copy of God’s being (χαρακτὴρ τῆς ὑποστάσεως αὐτοῦ). If there is a being identified as God (the Father) and He as an exact imprint of His being (the Son), I count two beings. You can read this passage however you would like but you would have to explain why the author of Hebrews did not say “He is the radiance of the glory of God and [is one being with him].” No, he is clearly the χαρακτὴρ τῆς ὑποστάσεως αὐτοῦ.

There was a statement along the lines of, how can Jesus be eternal and also changing, attempting to critique LDS beliefs. Well, YHWH/Jesus is from everlasting to everlasting (Psa 90:2). He should be because he is symbolically in the Father’s bosom (ὁ ὢν εἰς τὸν κόλπον τοῦ πατρὸς; John 1:18). Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb 13:8). However, we do not decide what that means to best fit our theology. How did the Bible authors explain it? According to scripture, this unchanging divine Son existed in the beggining (ὑπάρχω) in the “form of God” (ἐν μορφῇ θεοῦ) and shared equality with God (εἶναι ἴσα θεῷ; Phillip 2:6). There would be no need to have the same form or equality with God if you both (or three) are all the same ontological God. Nonetheless, the Son was divine and distinct from God. No ontological oneness implied. This same Divine Being, who was with and like God, took on the form of humanity and died (vv 7-8). This same Divine Being was then highly exalted by God (v 9). God is clearly a being distinct from this Divine Being. Is this too much “change” for you? Not for us. The Son did this all and remained eternal. Then Paul explains it all for us: “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (vv 10-11). As you know, Paul is quoting Isaiah 45:23. The Lord here then is YHWH. Therefore, the Divine Being who was with God (the Father), in His form and equal to Him, was YHWH/Jesus before whom we will bow “to the glory of God the Father.”

Now, when the NT refers to “one God” it is always speaking of the Father (John 17:3; 1 Cor 8:6; Eph 4:6; 1 Tim 2:5). This simply reiterates the Father’s preeminence. You suggest that means for LDS that Jesus and the Spirit must be false gods. I’m sorry, but I find no biblical support for that reading. Jesus as a resurrected divine and glorious being clearly states that He has a God who is ontologically distinct from Himself: “my God and your God” (John 20:17). Thomas later recognizes Jesus as his Lord and God (v 28). There is no mention of false gods or polytheism, strictly truth. The God of God the Son is the Father: “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever… therefore God, your God, has anointed you” (Heb 1:8-9). In case you don’t believe this is in the OT, read the text without a creedal lens and ask yourself who is speaking and about whom is it being spoken:

“‘And now entreat the favor of God, that he may be gracious to us…’ says the LORD of hosts” (Mal 1:9)

More importantly, how did NT authors read the OT.

In Deuteronomy 6:4, YHWH our Elohim is said to be one. Paul understood this to mean that YHWH was the one Jesus through whom all is done. In addition, he understood Elohim to be a tiltle/role (held by YHWH) that represents the one Father from whom everything originates (1 Cor 8:6). In case you didn’t catch that, Jesus is the one YHWH (YHWH isn’t three). Elohim, identified in the OT as YHWH’s role with Israel (YHWH the Elohim of Israel), represented the one Father. Paul understood YHWH’s role as YHWH our Elohim to be in representation of the Father. That’s exactly what LDS believe.

In Mark, Jesus calls the Father “God,” quoting Psalm 22:1: “…My God, my God why have you forsaken me?” (15:34). Mark did this after having attributed the salvation of YHWH from LXX Psalm 22:8, to Jesus: “…save yourself [σῶσον σεαυτὸν], descending from the cross …Others he saved [ἔσωσεν], he is not able to save himself [ἑαυτὸν . . . σῶσαι]” (Mark 15:30-31).

We can go on and on but only one more. John the Revelator makes an allusion to Isaiah 60:19. Who does John identify as God and who is the Lamb for him?:

LXX Isaiah 60:19 

“…the Lord shall be to you an everlasting light [κύριος φῶς αἰώνιον; יְהוָה לְאֹור עֹולָם] and God [shall be] your glory [ὁ θεὸς δόξα σου; וֵאלֹהַיִךְ לְתִפְאַרְתֵּֽךְ].”

Revelation 21:23 

“…for the glory of God gave it light [δόξα τοῦ θεοῦ ἐφώτισεν αὐτήν] and the Lamb [is] its lamp [ὁ λύχνος αὐτῆς τὸ ἀρνίον].”

The NT repeatedly distinguished Jesus as YHWH in the OT from the person of God the Father. Once again, we find no passage stating that God (YHWH) is/are ontologically the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

I think Noé has done an outstanding job of not only showing what the Bible itself does teach and the Nature and oneness of God in the Bible, but additionally shows that LDS theology is teaching exactly what the Bible teaches. 

I hope to have more to share on this in the near future and to show more from the Scriptures how the Gospel as taught by Mormons is drawn exactly from what is in the Bible and represents the Truth of what Prophets and Apostles of old taught about God. 

Pride The Great Stumbling Block

In the world of politics today we rarely see solid Bi-partisan measures that demonstrate collaboration and compromise. The interesting thing is that when we do they are generally the best measures that we enact.

Too often Politicians, pundits, and voters take an “all or nothing” approach to political positions and solutions.  It seems it is more acceptable to totally lose and complain about the other side, than to yield somethings we want and cooperate for the good of all, and accept some things that are less enticing to us.

Why do we have such a hard time coming together to work on solutions that incorporate the best that each side has to offer and examines what truly are multi-faceted issues, from the perspective that the first solution is going to have some bugs and kinks to work out, and that just because we are enacting legislation today doesn’t mean that as we work and collect data that legislation can’t change.

Why can’t our law making follow real world problem solving. I come from the Culinary world, and as a chef, I know that when rolling out a new menu, or even a menu item, there are going to be hiccups, and unforeseen obstacles that are going to arise in the roll out process.  I plan for it, and I expect that the ideal we worked on before going live isn’t going to remain a hard fast rule, and come hell or high water we are sticking to it, and customer experience be damned.

So why do we do this with Laws and Legislation.  Are we simply this dumb?  No I don’t think so, the same thing that blocks our collaborative efforts is the same thing that stops us from having a legislative process that is willing to acknowledge that error will occur along the way.

We can call this a lot of things: Arrogance, Hunger for Power, Stubbornness, Authoritarianism whatever, but what it really is is PRIDE

Most of us think of pride as self-centeredness, conceit, boastfulness, arrogance, or haughtiness. All of these are elements of the sin, but the heart, or core, is still missing.

The central feature of pride is enmity- Enmity means “hatred toward, hostility to, or a state of opposition.

Pride is essentially competitive in nature.

This is what blocks our willingness to compromise and collaborate.

For example nobody wants to perpetuate poverty.  We simply have differing ideas about how to solve that.  One side currently espouses a model that requires work and effort from those in need and a contribution on their part, and has designs to eventually get them to be self sufficient.  The other side has designs to increase taxes and funnel those tax dollars into expanded government programs deigned to make it possible for people to eventually have enough: money, education, skills, and employment that they no longer need the assistance.  (I know these are simplifications bear with me)

And each side bickers back and forth and puts forth bills and the other side votes it down or simply has the power to ram it through, and force the other side to submit to their design. The problem with this is…

…The proud cannot accept the authority of someone else giving direction to their lives. The proud make every man their adversary by pitting their intellects, opinions, works, wealth, talents, or any other worldly measuring device against others. In the words of C. S. Lewis: “Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man. … It is the comparison that makes you proud: the pleasure of being above the rest. Once the element of competition has gone, pride has gone.”

Pride is ugly. It says, “If you succeed, I am a failure.” Pride is a damning sin in the true sense of that word. It limits or stops progression.

The ugliness of Pride doesn’t allow collaboration because it would mean that the other side, whom we view as the opponent, gets to put some of their ideas in, Pride makes us view this as a victory for them or more likely as a loss for us.  “IF you succeed, I am a failure”

So instead of combining the plans and we have a moderate increase in taxes and funnel that into better self sufficiency and graduated assistance programs designed to lift and improve and extinguish themselves, essentially teaching men to fish rather than simply giving fish, we end up stuck with the same failing system that is insufficient to meet the desires of either side and worse meet the needs of the people, all because of the silliness of Pride

Why do we have this struggle? Well I propose that it is because of this: A proud person hates the fact that someone is above him. He thinks this lowers his position.

If we allow someone else a victory and their idea then succeeds, our pride says that that person is now better than us and is above us, because for some stupid reason we have decided we are in competition. 

Remember Pride is ugly. It says, “If you succeed, I am a failure.” Pride is a damning sin in the true sense of that word. It limits or stops progression.

But beating the opposition has become the goal in many things in our society and political system.

How much better would it be if we were slow to anger, forgiving, kind, and willing to concede and cooperate in the interest of the common good. And out of expediency?

How many people have you won over to your side of the aisle and argument through viewing them as the enemy? Probably ZERO

The key to lasting change in this world isn’t legislation it is in the conversion of hearts and minds to principles and ideals, and helping them to transform those principles into matters of conscience and character.

In the end we all tend to want the same basic things and want to see the same basic problems solved.  Our biggest differences are in how we think they should be solved.

But right now we aren’t solving anything, because of this Pride. Pride is the great stumbling block, and it also blocks us because we in implementing legislative solutions are to proud to build into the process the assumption that we could be wrong and our solution won’t fix the problem or that it will create others that we just didn’t see.

So we fix that by being willing to work together and give some ground for the sake of common good, and with the understanding that we reevaluate these solutions constantly, not once every 2,4,6 years when there is an election, not when we think we have to votes needed to repeal something we disagree with.  And if the solution needs adjustment we happily do it.

Now I know some of this does happen and solutions are reevaluated from time to time and amended; however, it is like pulling teeth it seems to do this, and it generally seems to happen when someone else has enough power to change it.

Let’s check our Pride and be willing to work together and collaborate more and think of others and stop being in competition with each other, because your neighbor isn’t your enemy.

** Most of the statements on Pride either appear in or are modified from an address given by Former Secretary of Agriculture Ezra Taft Benson which can be found here