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  Sunday, January 18, 2004

In today's priesthood meeting lesson ("The Mission of the Prophet Joseph Smith"), the popular Mormon concept of God as "just another guy" was held out as one of the glorious truths of the restoration of the gospel.  Lucky us, to not be seduced by Christian doctrines emphasizing God's majesty, glory, and transcendence.  I recognize, of course, that the formal LDS doctrine is expressed in rather more elevated terms.  Formally, "[t]he Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man's; the Son also" (D&C 130:21-22), and He lives near the star Kolob, "which Kolob is set nigh unto the throne of God" (Abraham 3:9).  But, "When the Savior shall appear we shall see him as he is.  We shall see that he is a man like ourselves" (D&C 130:1).  Not that he shall appear as a man like us, he is a man like us.

So it's easy to see where the popular Mormon view comes from, and why it offends some traditional Christians.  See, for example, my earlier post where a committee of Methodist scholars stated that the [LDS] belief regarding a gendered, married, and procreating god is at the core of LDS doctrine of God and makes claims about the essential nature of God that are in sharp contrast to the doctrinal statements of United Methodism.

But even such theology as Mormonism produces refutes the popular Mormon view.  Bruce R. McConkie, in his characteristically blunt talk The Seven Deadly Heresies (note these are Mormon heresies he's referring to), states that [t]he saving truth, as revealed to and taught, formally and officially, by the Prophet Joseph Smith in the Lectures on Faith is that God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent. He knows all things, he has all power, and he is everywhere present by the power of his Spirit.  By restricting God's location, if not his spiritual presence, to a body of flesh and bone, Mormons are all too easily led to diminish his power and knowledge as well.  In fact, the Mormon view of God as articulated by Elder McConkie is indistinguishable from the traditional Christian view of God as omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent .  Christians don't get hung up on Christ's resurrected body; why should they get so hung up on the LDS image of an embodied God, both Father and Son?  Some, after all, would say any human conception of God is simply metaphor, that we cannot possibly hope to comprehend the true nature of God (Isaiah 55:9, "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.").

To round out the discussion, it should be noted that even the modern Christian view of God is hardly monolithic.  A group of Christian theologians now defends a doctrine known as Open Theism that questions the omniscience of God in much the same way as popular Mormon views of God--see my earlier post on Open Theism for more details. 2:21:02 PM      

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Last update: 3/3/2004; 12:06:39 AM.