Monday, 15 November 2010

Monday Mormon – Your Own Planet?

Last Monday Mormon we discovered that Mormon men intend to become gods. In the latest of our 21 Questions we ask what they expect to do when they are gods. We are getting rather used to the increasingly curt answers given by the Mormon Church but, still, this “No!" is still a bit – short. Oh, and did I mention disingenuous? What do you think? As before, we will look at the questions (Q) and answers (A) with comments (C) and quotes (Qu.)

Q: Does the Mormon Church believe in the existence of another physical planet or planets, where Mormons will "rule" after their death and ascension?

A: No.

Qu. "In the Heaven where our spirits were born there are many Gods, each one of whom has his own wife or wives, raises up a numerous family of sons and daughters... each father and mother will be in a condition to multiply forever and ever.

As soon as each God has begotten many millions of male and female spirits, and his Heavenly inheritance becomes too small, to comfortably accommodate his great family, he, in connection with his sons, organizes a new world, after a similar order to the one which we now inhabit, where he sends both the male and female spirits to inhabit tabernacles of flesh and bones....

The inhabitants of each world are required to reverence, adore, and worship their own personal father who dwells in the Heaven which they formerly inhabited.” (Mormon apostle Orson Pratt, The Seer, March 1853, pp. 37-39)

C. In the most fundamental way this describes the Mormon Plan of Salvation, the plan by which God himself became God according to Mormonism. God made this planet to accommodate his spirit children (us) and faithful Mormons will go on to create and inhabit their own planets, which will be populated by their spirit children who will, in turn, worship them – and the whole process starts again. And of course there is an awful lot of begetting that must go on if whole worlds are to be inhabited.

The answer, then, is that there are, or will be planets which Mormons expect to rule after their death and ascension to godhood.

Ye are gods!

Of course the whole purpose of the Mormon temple endowment ceremony is that faithful members are given instruction in the cosmology of Mormonism.

Christians view God as the first cause of all creation, and declare that “Man’s chief and highest end is to glorify God and fully to enjoy him forever” (Westminster Catechism).

Mormons see mankind’s true origins in a Von-Daniken type cosmos in which God is an exalted man; men and women are not creations of God but the same species as God, and lived with God in a pre-mortal life, gods in embryo if you will. The secrets of the Mormon temple are the means by which they come into their full inheritance as gods ourselves.

Mormons use several Bible texts to support the idea that there are many gods and these texts are worth knowing about.

Genesis 1:26a “And God said, Let us make man in our image.”

The Hebrew word for God used here is Elohim. This is a plural form and normally requires the pronouns “us” and “our” to be used. However, the rest of the account is in the singular: “So God created man in his own image, in the image God he created him; male and female he created them.” Several explanations seem reasonable.

Elohim might be seen as the plurality of majesty, reflecting the human agency in the authorship of Scripture, i.e. it is the practice for earthly monarchs to refer to themselves as “we” and so the writer represents God in the same way. Alternatively, God might be addressing his heavenly court or, thirdly God might be addressing Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

Whichever way you look at it God is using here a plural noun but singular verb and pronoun. There is a mixture of the many and the one in reference to the same thing – the Godhead. The trinity explains this phenomenon very well.

Psalm 82:1 “God presides in the great assembly; he gives judgement among the ‘gods’.”

The Hebrew translated “gods” here is again elohim but the meaning is quite different to what we find in Genesis. Elohim can mean the one true God. It can also refer to idols and false gods. And it can, as in this case, mean judges - those given power on earth to mete out God’s judgement. An illustration can be drawn from the use of the word Lord, which can refer to God the Father, or to Jesus, or to members of the British judiciary.

When a barrister refers to a judge as “my Lord” there is no suggestion that the judge is a god. If you substitute the word “Lords” for “gods” in this Psalm you get the sense immediately. It is notable that the “gods” in Psalm 82 are themselves being judged and their mere humanity is clear from verse 6, “I said, ‘You are “gods”; you are all sons of the Most High.’ But you will die like mere men; you will fall like every other ruler.”

John 10:34 “Jesus answered them, ‘Is it not written in your law, “I have said, you are gods”?’

This is out of chronological order but worth mentioning here since it is a reference to Psalm 82. The same argument applies here as there, i.e. “gods” means judges. Jesus argues that if sinful men can be called “gods” and the Pharisees raise no objection, why do they object when such a good and holy man calls himself God’s Son?

Matthew 3:16-17 “As soon as Jesus was baptised, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.’”

You can see immediately the argument. There are clearly three separate persons here, so how could they all be one God? Of course, this comes from a misunderstanding of language and terminology more than anything. Christians believe in one God, but that there are three persons in the Godhead. This does not mean that there are three Gods, or that God is “one person who is three persons”, a typical Mormon straw man description offered usually with a great theatrical expression of exasperation.

It is important not to confuse the word “God” and the word “person”, i.e. God is not a person but three persons; he is a being (singular) who exists in three persons (plural).

Acts 7:55 “But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God.”

Here you have what seems to be a description of the Father and the Son similar to Joseph Smith’s account of the First Vision. The first thing to be said is that Stephen didn’t claim to see God physically but “the glory of God”. Secondly, to see Jesus standing on the right hand of God is a figurative expression meaning that he “saw” Jesus in the place of honour. This is a poetic description of a Spirit-filled perception of Jesus’ place in heaven, a place of honour, and God’s glory vindicated in Christ.

1 Corinthians 8:5 “For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many ‘gods’ and many ‘lords’), yet for us there is but one God.”

Mormons argue that, although there are clearly many gods, yet Mormons only worship one God, “for to us there is but one God”. But Paul is writing here about food offered to idols not the order and population of the cosmos. Should Christians buy food in the marketplace that has almost certainly been offered to some pagan “god” or other? His answer is yes because “We know that an idol is nothing at all in this world, and that there is no God but one.”

n other words, these “gods” are idols and not true gods therefore they are of no consequence. He goes on to declare, “For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth [as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”], yet for us there is but one God.” The NIV brings out the meaning very well in calling them “so-called gods”.

He does counsel, however, that those who know this should be sensitive towards those who “are still so accustomed to idols that when they eat such food they think of it as having been sacrificed to an idol, and since their conscience is weak, it is defiled.” In other words, to pay heed to these false gods is a mistake and we are free to eat, but we should be patient with those who still feel there is something in it and fear to partake.

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