Questions about the Nature of God

August 21, 2009    By: Matt W. @ 9:33 am   Category: Theology

I’ve been corresponding with a friend regarding the nature of God. I ended my last post saying there are some questions that I am not sure we have clear answers to. Since you are a bunch of smart people, thought I’d see if anyone had a persuasive argument for the answer to any of these questions being fixed in our theology. I don’t think they are.

1. The Divinity of Jesus Christ- Is he a God exatly like Heavenly Father is, or is he divinely invested with Authority by the Father?  What are the implications of this on our understanding of the atonement?

2. The Existance of a Heavenly Mother- Do you believe or not believe in her? If she is existant, is it like J. Stapley believes and she is not equal to the Father? What does her existance imply?

3. Is there a Father of Heavenly Father? What does that mean?

4. If God was once a man like we are now, but was also always God, are we also always God?

5. What does it mean to be the Most High God? Is it just smarter than the smarties?

6. What does it mean to be an eternal being? Are we Eternal in the sense that we have always been conscious?

168 Comments »

  1. Aren’t these the very questions we have been grappling with for 5 years at this blog?

    Comment by Geoff J — August 21, 2009 @ 9:55 am

  2. I totally agree. And after 5 years, I guess the only thing which has become more clear to me is my lack of answers to these questions.

    Comment by matt w. — August 21, 2009 @ 10:03 am

  3. I believe Heavenly Father has a Father. Few things make as much sense to me as that does. Lorenzo Snow’s statement is one of my favorites. I’ve always wondered why there is so much agonizing about such things. Do we not as mormons believe that? Do we not believe that we are walking the same path the he (and she) walked? Sure there are questions we don’t know – but don’t we still believe that He was once like us and we can become like Him (and her)?

    Comment by Hal — August 21, 2009 @ 10:26 am

  4. 1a. I believe God is a being who can accomplish all things that are actually possible: heal the sick, raise the dead, end war and poverty, empathize with all people, etc… (Creating rocks He can’t lift may not be possible so if it isn’t, no, I don’t think He can do it. Simple as that.)

    1b. In addition to being able to do all things possible, He has the unique attribute that He only uses His power to promote righteousness. (Those with such power who are use it for unrighteousness are devils, and I have faith God will beat them.)

    2. Anybody who is both 1a and 1b is as much a God as anyone else. (And if nobody is 1a and 1b then there is no God, but I have faith at least somebody in all of existence is and we should strive to be like Him.)

    3. I see nothing preventing a woman from 1a and 1b so if a man can do it, I have no doubt a woman can too. I’m sure they are happy to be co-equals. Maybe they do different specific things, but it is teamwork and for the common good.

    4. The true gospel is “the way” needed to accomplish 1a and 1b.

    Comment by Joseph Smidt — August 21, 2009 @ 10:33 am

  5. Hal,

    See this thread for some arguments both ways on the does the Father have a Father debate.

    Comment by Geoff J — August 21, 2009 @ 11:17 am

  6. Joseph- one reason such an answer is incomplete, in my view is that it leaves us wondering about why we worship one and not the other. Another is that if a devil can accomplish all things that are possible to accomplish, Why want to be God, all you get is the limitation of righteousness. Is there not a connection between righteousness and increased ability?

    Comment by Matt W. — August 21, 2009 @ 11:31 am

  7. Hal:By accepting that God the Father had a Father, are you rejecting the idea of a Most High God? Do you really want to do that?

    Geoff- good pick.

    Comment by Matt W. — August 21, 2009 @ 11:32 am

  8. 1. The Divinity of Jesus Christ- Is he a God exactly like Heavenly Father is, or is he divinely invested with Authority by the Father? What are the implications of this on our understanding of the atonement?

    Rameumptom: Jesus was invested with authority when ordained to the priesthood. But my understanding is that the “doctrine of the priesthood” (D&C 121) is that we gain power of the priesthood until we become priesthood incarnate.

    2. The Existance of a Heavenly Mother- Do you believe or not believe in her? If she is existant, is it like J. Stapley believes and she is not equal to the Father? What does her existance imply?

    Ram: I do believe in Heavenly Mother. How her role works in heaven is all supposition, however. I would be surprised if she were not equal, as Paul wrote that Jesus thought it not robbery to be equal with God.

    3. Is there a Father of Heavenly Father? What does that mean?

    Ram: If we are to believe the KFD, yes. How such works in a day of possible multiverses, string theory, and eternal rounds, I don’t know.

    4. If God was once a man like we are now, but was also always God, are we also always God?

    Ram: Abraham 3 suggests that some had achieved godhood in the premortal existence, as not all would be chosen as Abraham had. As for “always” being God, I think that is semantics. Are we talking “always” as in God’s entire existence, or “always” as in OUR entire existence?

    5. What does it mean to be the Most High God? Is it just smarter than the smarties?

    Ram: It means you are at the top of a group. I can be a father of my own family, and be a son in another group. Our Godhead is just one group that God belongs to.

    6. What does it mean to be an eternal being? Are we Eternal in the sense that we have always been conscious?

    Ram: It means two things. Eternal: to live forever as an immortal. Eternal: to live God’s life. I am not sure that we’ve always had a “conscious.” I believe that we all began as intelligences: microscopic elements (electrons, atoms, molecules) that were organized into higher intelligences. We are now highly organized intelligences with conscious or self-identity and the ability to reason.

    Comment by rameumptom — August 21, 2009 @ 11:34 am

  9. Matt: If God was once a man like we are now, but was also always God, are we also always God?

    Nicely put. I think we do have to include such radical universalism in the pantheon of theological possibilities.

    Comment by Geoff J — August 21, 2009 @ 11:38 am

  10. “Joseph- one reason such an answer is incomplete”

    I agree, but I doubt anyone here has a complete answer that doesn’t have major flaws so I am sticking to only those statements I believe to be true. Though incomplete, I still believe true none the less.

    “Another is that if a devil can accomplish all things that are possible to accomplish, Why want to be God, all you get is the limitation of righteousness. Is there not a connection between righteousness and increased ability?”

    Which is the reason why the a devil would believe he could win, could beat God, has the “better” life/plan and could be so convincing to those who love power more than righteousness. It takes faith to believe that righteousness will triumph and hence is therefore more powerful.

    Comment by Joseph Smidt — August 21, 2009 @ 11:45 am

  11. 1. The Divinity of Jesus Christ- Is he a God exatly like Heavenly Father is, or is he divinely invested with Authority by the Father? What are the implications of this on our understanding of the atonement?

    I say He is now exactly like the Father in every meaningful way. He may take the role of a subordinate at times I guess. Implication is that others can become that way also.

    2. The Existance of a Heavenly Mother- Do you believe or not believe in her? If she is existant, is it like J. Stapley believes and she is not equal to the Father? What does her existance imply?

    Yes I believe in her. No, I believe that she is an equal. Implies spirit birth, eternal families, etc.

    3. Is there a Father of Heavenly Father? What does that mean?

    Probably. Some eternal circle of life. Some of the same as above for implications.

    4. If God was once a man like we are now, but was also always God, are we also always God?

    Depends on your definition of God. Immortal beings. If someone asks if you are a god, say ‘yes!’

    5. What does it mean to be the Most High God? Is it just smarter than the smarties?

    Something like that. Didn’t Widtsoe say something about a first God in Rational Theology. I think something like that.

    6. What does it mean to be an eternal being? Are we Eternal in the sense that we have always been conscious?

    Never created nor made – always conscious is my vote.

    Comment by Eric Nielson — August 21, 2009 @ 11:48 am

  12. By the way, I’m really sorry if my wording sounds arrogant. I’m not trying to be.

    I just wanted to express my personal views on the nature of God.

    Comment by Joseph Smidt — August 21, 2009 @ 12:08 pm

  13. No worries Joseph. It is important to remember we are all talking about our beliefs, or worse typing about our beliefs, so all of our ideas are in need of clarity, etc. Just one of the challenges of blogging. Glad to have your comments.

    Eric and Ram, I’ll get back to you. I have to be gainfully employed for a bit.

    Comment by Matt W. — August 21, 2009 @ 12:12 pm

  14. Ram- Interesting Thoughts. But what is the difference between Priesthood and Priesthood Incarnate? (Incarnate means real or embodied, right?) If priesthood is authority, we move from having authority to being authority? Is that your view? If so, what does that mean?

    and Abraham 3 suggests what?

    and if we were once a bunch of molecules, then our mind isn’t really eternal is it, since those molecules weren’t always connected?

    Geoff (9) – yes I concede it is in the realm of possibility. I just imagine it differently than you do.

    Comment by Matt W. — August 21, 2009 @ 1:11 pm

  15. I’ll be answering a somewhat different question and that is, based on extant sermons, revelation, scripture and other material from Joseph Smith available, what are the answers to these questions?

    1. Christ is, as the Book of Mormon proclaims, the Eternal God, without beginning of days or end of years. Joseph Smith described the three persons of the Godhead as having different roles: the Creator, the Redeemer and the Witness or Testator. An everlasting covenant was made between these three personages. The Father created all things and saved them by his Only Begotten.

    2. Joseph has not provided any information about a Heavenly Mother. He spoke twice about God as the “Great Parent of the universe.”

    3. Joseph spoke about the Head God of all other Gods numerous times both in the King Follett Discourse and Sermon in the Grove. See also D&C 121:32. If there is a Father of Heavenly Father, it cannot mean, according to Joseph Smith, that existence is contingent upon such a Father since Joseph taught that spirits have no beginning, that spirits are co-eternal with God and “there is no creation about it.”

    4. God the Father was once was we are now in the sense that he experienced mortality in that he laid down his life and took it up again. Christ too was once as we are now in the sense that he experienced mortality, laid down his life and took it up again. This corresponds to Joseph’s teaching that God the Father is embodied as well as God the Son. In Joseph’s cosmogony, the spirit is co-eternal with God and cannot be created or destroyed. Therefore, in Joseph’s world, the term divinity does not correspond to eternality. Otherwise, spirit and element is divine since they are eternal and then there is nothing that is not divine, and divine as such loses meaning. Therefore, we need a question that recognizes this point. Joseph taught that God instituted laws by which the weaker intelligences could advance. None of the weaker intelligences are said to have instituted laws or to have advanced without entering into a relationship with God.

    5. Joseph taught that God is the One who is more intelligent than they all, and that the glory of God is intelligence. However, the Father also entered into an everlasting covenant with the Son and the Holy Spirit.

    6. Joseph taught that the spirits are eternal and there is no creation about it. Joseph also spoke about the mind of man being eternal. Given Joseph’s teachings, it is not clear he would accept the view that spirits are eternal but their minds are not.

    Lest I be misunderstood, I’m not suggesting that there can not be any doctrinal development or revelation after Joseph Smith. Rather, I’m merely trying to suggest that it might prove fruitful to first identify what Joseph taught, and at least be able to trace a particular notion or idea to an individual who advocated or articulated it for the first time. I think doing so may help advance the discussion and assist in better organizing our thoughts on these various subjects.

    Comment by aquinas — August 21, 2009 @ 1:13 pm

  16. Eric- But was Jesus always like the Father?

    Joseph Smidt- to be clear, you are really for the Devil being equal in capacity to God? The idea is somewhat staggering to me, just trying to make sure I am reading you right. (I’m not saying you are wrong, just want to make sure I understand)

    aquinas- Did 1844 Joseph have different ideas than 1830 Joseph? Was Joseph always consistent? On top of that, since most of Joseph’s people did not take notes, but went home and transcribed what they remembered him saying, how accurate are his sermon accounts? We only have 3 instances of him writing out a sermon.

    But anyway, to respond on the terms you set forth.

    1. The Book of Mormon does say in 2 Ne. 26 that Jesus is the Eternal God. Is also says in Mosiah 16:15 and 15:1-4 that Jesus is the Eternal Father. So the Book of Mormon says Jesus is Heavenly Father. Of Course, in 3 Ne 11, it also has Jesus saying He and the Father and the Holy Ghost are one. Thus you see the problem with attempting to use scriptures there to explain our theological position, as much of the Book of Mormon is able to be interpreted very easily in a trinitarian light. And while Joseph did describe the different roles of the three, He also taught via Abraham that the Son was also active in the creation, and also testified of himself. He also taught that the Father and Son are distinctly different beings. I’ve always liked the Covenant beginning the Godhead idea.

    2. Joseph Told Zina D. Huntington and Eliza R. Snow there was a Heavenly Mother. (see Sisters in Spirit)

    3. Joseph did teach about a Head God, and he did teach this Head God was the Father of Jesus, and he did teach this Father of Jesus had a father. So as Rameumpton said, does this limit God to being Head God of a particular sphere?

    4. We know that weaker intelligences institute laws (Insert Politcal Joke here). More Seriously, so, the difference between HF and us is he can Institute laws? What sort of laws? Also, assuming HF can advance without having a relationship with either himself or without having a relationship with his Father, as Joseph taught, seems a bit sketchy.

    5. I assume you are referring to Abraham where the Lord God is more intelligent than all other intelligences. Is this an infinite group of intelligences, or some subset?

    6. I agree that Joseph taught this. It has been interpreted at least 4 ways. 1. Spirits are eternal. 2. Intelligences are Eternal 3. The Stuff Spirits are made out of are eternal and intelligent. 4. The stuff spirits are made out of are eternal.

    Comment by Matt W. — August 21, 2009 @ 1:53 pm

  17. “1. The Divinity of Jesus Christ- Is he a God exatly like Heavenly Father is, or is he divinely invested with Authority by the Father. What are the implications of this on our understanding of the atonement?”

    Very good question. However, I’m more interested in the second question than the first. I’m interested in hearing others’ thoughts.

    By the way, if people believe that the Father’s mortal experience was undertaken “exactly” like you and me, such as being sinners, aren’t they admitting that Christ is somehow superior to the Father because He was able to do something the Father was unable to do? (ie: lead a sinless, perfect mortal life) Yet Joseph Smith said that Christ did only that which he saw his Father do and that when the Father underwent a mortal experience He also had the power to lay down His life and take it up again.

    By any means, all I know is that through the Atonement we can be cleansed from all sin. That’s good enough for me.

    “2. The Existance of a Heavenly Mother- Do you believe or not believe in her? If she is existant, is it like J. Stapley believes and she is not equal to the Father? What does her existance imply?”

    I have no problem believing in a Heavenly Mother. I just have no clue how she fits into this whole plan. I once asked my wife that if she and I are to be “one”, as I assume Heavenly Father and Mother are “one”, does that make Heavenly Mother somehow part of the Godhead in some way? It’s interesting to think about what her role is. Also, is there anything that definitively rules out the idea that the “Spirit” can be emanating from Heavenly Mother? I don’t know. Pure speculation, I know, so I’m content with the ambiguity. We have little to no concrete teaching about her (at least primary source from Joseph Smith), so I could take it or leave it. I’m comfortable believing she exists, but I’m uncomfortable discussing it as established doctrine because of the huge lack of information about her.

    “3. Is there a Father of Heavenly Father? What does that mean?”

    Joseph spoke of a Father of God the Father, but there seems to be a lack of consensus on what that means and how to interpret it. (I still haven’t made my way through the complete post that Geoff linked to, even though I’ve been trying to for weeks.) This, perhaps, is another area that we should put up on the shelf, so to speak, for now and focus on what is important and imperative for us to know and do.

    4. “If God was once a man like we are now, but was also always God, are we also Always God?”

    We are eternal, like God. Or co-eternal with God. But I wouldn’t say we’re also always God. LDS take pride in erasing the distinctions between us and God because the traditional world has put up such a bright divide between the Creator and the created–and divide that can never be crossed. For us, we don’t operate under that same creatio ex nihilo frame of mind, and we see Christ’s role as one which erases those barriers and distinctions to put us “at one” again with God. Yet, there still seem to be significant distinctions between us and God. That’s why I tend to emphasize that there is a difference between “G” and “g” when discussing exaltation and deification.

    “5. What does it mean to be the Most High God? Is it just smarter than the smarties?”

    Great question. Who knows?

    “6. What does it mean to be an eternal being? Are we Eternal in the sense that we have always been conscious?”

    Another very good question. Have we always been conscious intelligences/spirits or was there a time when we were made to be conscious. This goes back to the whole tripartite existentialism post that J. Stapley did–and something I’m still thinking about even now.

    Comment by Clean Cut — August 21, 2009 @ 2:18 pm

  18. Matt, I find it interesting that you didn’t ask what people believe about each of these points (but we really can’t help ourselves); rather you asked for persuasive evidence as to the fixed nature of any of these points. No evidence from me that any of these items are fixed. Believe on.

    Comment by Kent (MC) — August 21, 2009 @ 3:06 pm

  19. I do not know and do not care. But I do believe in God and have experienced what I believe is God in my life.

    It is fun to speculate about these things though.

    Comment by DavidH — August 21, 2009 @ 3:13 pm

  20. “to be clear, you are really for the Devil being equal in capacity to God”

    In as much as you can have the same capacity without being righteous, yes. But the lack of righteousness is crucial.

    He thinks it doesn’t matter, a “limitation” as you said. However, he will find out it makes all the difference in the world.

    Comment by Joseph Smidt — August 21, 2009 @ 4:07 pm

  21. Let’s also say I am straying into more speculative waters. Talking about “devils” was not my point. My point was to say: I believe the nature of God is He is 1a and 1b (above) with all the things that entails and that the true gospel is that what leads us to also becoming 1a and 1b.

    Comment by Joseph Smidt — August 21, 2009 @ 4:11 pm

  22. Kent (MC) I was thinking the same thing myself. Aquinas came close with his Joseph Smith approach, but in a church of continuing revelation, do we really want to go with the idea that What Joseph said was most true, and the church has gotten more apostate since then? Would it not be better to look at the current status quo and work our way backwards?

    DavidH- That’s what I was trying to say here.

    Joseph Smidt- I am down with 21, and it would be fun to discuss 20 more, in light of the counter argument being that devils do not have bodies, etc.

    Clean Cut- I owe you an e-mail or a phone call or something.

    Comment by Matt W. — August 21, 2009 @ 8:49 pm

  23. I don’t have any of the requested persuasive evidence, but I think this is an important post, because it asks some core questions. Nicely done.

    Comment by Ben Pratt — August 21, 2009 @ 10:08 pm

  24. If God was once a man like we are now, but was also always God, are we also always God?

    There is no individual who has always been an exalted man.

    What does it mean to be the Most High God?

    It means that either one was the founder of the divine concert, or the one who currently presides over that body, or both.

    Comment by Mark D. — August 21, 2009 @ 11:53 pm

  25. “it would be fun to discuss 20 more”

    Okay, I will humor all who would find these things fun. Before I do I want to make a disclaimer:

    *Nobody quote me on this. Though I stand by my above definitions (you can quote those) I am smart enough to know I am on incredibly speculative ground and am now engaging in a long standing LDS tradition of extreme speculation that will only get worse when I become a high priest. :)*

    Okay, the devil:

    Notice I always used devil in above posts as plural: “devils”.

    They always seem to fit the exact same pattern:

    1. They grow in light and truth until they are basking it it as noon day. Some progress so far we compare them to “bright morning stars” and admit in some cases they are comparable to God. I maintain they progress ever so closer to 1a. They are really becoming like God.

    2. They then reject something that turns them into a devil. I maintain it is 1b above. They obviously don’t reject all truth otherwise they’d just be a raving lunatic which they are not. They reject some crucial piece of truth, I believe it is using 1a in righteousness. This would make them truly the most evil creatures that could possibly exist: 1a without 1b.

    Can anything be more evil? Having a handle on 1a but then intentionally rejecting 1b? If any creature accomplished this they would truly be a devil indeed.

    As for a body. Okay, maybe Lucifer is lacking in this area, but this is why some LDS people have speculated perhaps Cain is the more powerful “son of perdition”. Perhaps there are beings with bodies who are devils.

    Many LDS people think Adam was as close to being God-like as you get. Some eve think he is God but I will not go there, just saying there is a feeling he is very God-like.

    What about his son? Cain was walking with God right? How close to God did he get before he fell? How close to 1a before rejecting 1b? Cain has a body.

    I’m not saying he got all the way there by the way. But I will speculate that, given all the worlds with intelligent life that probably exist, there are probably different grades of beings who who have edged closer and closer to 1a before rejecting 1b. In my opinion these are truly devils.

    If someone can come up with something more evil let me know. If someone has an argument why there couldn’t exists an “ultimate Cain” let me know since we have gone off the speculation deep end.

    As for Lucifer, maybe he doesn’t have a body. I will remind everyone that Jehovah was like unto God without a body and Lucifer was like unto Jehovah so perhaps Lucifer is 1a – 1b – body. That will still go down as a devil in my book. :)

    Comment by Joseph Smidt — August 22, 2009 @ 12:17 am

  26. This is not an answer to any of the questions. But someone mentioned the Snow quote. While reading one of office journals for the church historian, I found Brigham Young quoted as saying that God had revealed to him in England (then follows the Snow couplet). He didn’t mention Snow, although Snow says he talked to Brigham about it and Young told him not to say anything until Joseph said something about it. So now I wonder if BY was claiming an independent revelation, or if he was just acknowledging Snow (without acknowledging him). And for number 6, I vote yes. Although it might require infinite storage. I didn’t promise to be helpful.

    Oh, and I kind of like Roberts’ solution (tripartite). I like it because I like it, but also because when I told my uncle’s son-in-law I liked it, steam came from his ears.

    -WVS

    Comment by WVS — August 22, 2009 @ 12:29 am

  27. Matt (16)

    Of course there was a time when Jesus was not exactly like the father. There was a time when he did not have an eternal flesh and bone body for starters. He was the first born of all the spirit children of God, therefore I am guessing that there must have been a time before he was a spirit child of God since this was an ‘event’ right?

    Comment by Eric Nielson — August 22, 2009 @ 4:20 am

  28. Are we obligated to interpret “Firstborn” any other than firstborn from the dead (ie: Col. 1:18) or such as the “first fruits of them that slept” (1 Cor. 15:20)?

    I don’t think we’re necessarily obligated by scripture to accept “spirit birth”.

    Comment by Clean Cut — August 22, 2009 @ 6:15 am

  29. The Divinity of Jesus Christ- Is he a God exatly like Heavenly Father is, or is he divinely invested with Authority by the Father?

    There are three basic possibilities here:

    1. No. His Father is unique and non-invested with authority by anyone else.
    2. Yes. His Father is invested with authority by his Father, ad infinitum.
    3. Yes. All divine authority is ultimately invested by the divine concert as a whole.

    (1) contradicts D&C 84:38
    (2) and (3) are open possibilities.
    The most direct argument in favor of (3) is the law of common consent (D&C 26:2, 104:71).

    Ultimately though, one has to resolve the question of whether God has authority because he is God, because he does what is right, because he persuades others to follow him, or some combination of the three.

    If legitimate authority is dependent on consent in any way, (3) is the only possible alternative.

    Comment by Mark D. — August 22, 2009 @ 1:28 pm

  30. Mark, my current position is “I don’t know”, so I’m not taking a position here, but when D&C 84:38 says we’ll receive Father’s kingdom and all that the Father has, I don’t think it’s saying that we’ll necessarily “be” exactly what the Father is. We may share in all that He has, but God is still the source.

    Comment by Clean Cut — August 22, 2009 @ 3:59 pm

  31. Clean Cut, At the very least (1) contradicts Joseph Smith’s statement to the effect that God is an exalted man, a statement which implies that there has never been a god (in the full sense of the term) who wasn’t.

    The best scriptural source on this is D&C 93, in particular this passage:

    And I, John, bear record that he received a fulness of the glory of the Father; And he received all power, both in heaven and on earth, and the glory of the Father was with him, for he dwelt in him…

    I give unto you these sayings that you may understand and know how to worship, and know what you worship, that you may come unto the Father in my name, and in due time receive of his fulness. (D&C 93:16-19, emphasis added)

    Or in other words, the self proclaimed purpose of the first twenty or so verses of D&C 93 is to teach us that we worship an exalted man. That is “what you worship” means in this context. Not someone we can never be like, but rather an exalted man who received of a fulness in more or less the same manner as Jesus Christ did, and which we must.

    Comment by Mark D. — August 22, 2009 @ 5:27 pm

  32. One other thing – the word “the” (without further qualification) implies a reference to a singular entity, a proper noun.

    So if we say the Eternal Father of heaven and earth, one of two things follow:

    (1) Joseph Smith was wrong: our Heavenly Father is the only Eternal Father that there has been and will ever be
    (2) the term properly refers to the divine concert of all heavenly fathers, and any particular heavenly father is Heavenly Father by investiture.

    Otherwise when we say the Eternal Father, who or what are we talking about?

    Comment by Mark D. — August 22, 2009 @ 5:43 pm

  33. I don’t doubt that God is “an exalted man”. I just doubt the extent of interpretation that some ascribed to that statement.

    I share my perspective here: “My Take On Joseph Smith’s King Follet Sermon”. http://latterdayspence.blogspot.com/2009/07/my-take-on-joseph-smiths-king-follet.html

    Comment by Clean Cut — August 22, 2009 @ 6:48 pm

  34. In a nutshell–God happens to be of the same kind or species as us. He’s a man in the same sense that Jesus (as God) is a man–an exalted man. Latter-day Saints know that God is not some “one of a kind” spiritual essence. He’s a human being, like us, but different in the sense that He is perfectly God. Nevertheless, there’s not such a bright ontological gap between God and mankind as there is with Creedal Christians.

    Comment by Clean Cut — August 22, 2009 @ 6:55 pm

  35. Clean Cut, I would say that you are equivocating on the term “exalted”. It is in past tense for a reason. One cannot be an exalted man unless there was a time when one was not exalted.

    A more significant objection is why the universe should have “started out” with exactly one embedded person / eternal spirit with such a radical ontological difference from all others. Why not two? or seventeen? or one hundred?

    It is like saying we have a theory of fundamental particles, and most species number in the zillions, but there is one species that by some sort of metaphysical accident there is exactly one of.

    Comment by Mark D. — August 22, 2009 @ 11:34 pm

  36. Hmm. I’m not sure about the details, but couldn’t we say that Jesus Christ is also an “exalted man”? What are the implications of that statement? Since Joseph Smith taught that Christ was doing what He saw His Father do, and that the Father also had power to lay down his life and take it up again while He was undergoing His mortal experience, wouldn’t the same implications apply to the Father?

    If Christ was God (ie: the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob, etc) before he came to earth, I don’t think he would have needed to be exalted in the exact same way we do. Perhaps “exalted” applies more to His present state compared to ours, rather than any past state of His? Just thinking out loud here.

    Comment by Clean Cut — August 23, 2009 @ 5:51 am

  37. Clean Cut, That depends – if Jesus Christ had a fulness of divinity from all eternity, then he is not an exalted man. On the other hand D&C 93 is pretty clear that is not the case.

    The scriptures imply that Jesus Christ did not complete his exaltation until he was resurrected (unless he is an exception to every rule in the book, of course, a proposition which D&C 93 explicitly contradicts).

    As far as his role in the Old Testament is concerned (which I don’t think is always as clear cut as some would like to make it) he could do all that by divine investiture of authority.

    Comment by Mark D. — August 23, 2009 @ 8:56 pm

  38. if Jesus Christ had a fulness of divinity from all eternity, then he is not an exalted man

    Mark I don’t think your argument here is very sound. If Jesus has always been fully divine but condescended through a veil to become a man and then returned to his fully divine state he could still be considered exalted even by the definition you have given here. The same applies to any other always-divine person.

    Comment by Geoff J — August 23, 2009 @ 9:19 pm

  39. Geoff J, Suppose you maintain that Jesus was in an unexalted state during his mortal life. Then of course one can consistently say that at some point afterwards he became an exalted man. But one cannot consistently say that Jesus Christ has always been an exalted man, from all eternity. That is a self contradiction.

    Comment by Mark D. — August 23, 2009 @ 10:16 pm

  40. Ben (23 )- Thanks.
    Mark D. (24)- I know you and CC go at it later in the comments about the whole exalted man thing, but since we agree that Divine Investiture of Authority exists, and since we agree that the Holy Ghost is not exalted but still a member of the Godhead, is it safe to say that being God is not equal to being exalted.
    Joseph (25)- I’m cool with that. I could even speculate on why righteousness would of necessity give one greater power. (righteousness leads to community and indwelling trust, while unrighteousness leads to singularity and being alone. Strength in numbers, etc.)

    WVS (26)- I am a fan of some form of tripartitism, at least to the extent that I definitely hold to a time when we were not children of god but were adopted by our Father in Heaven. I have some wild speculations about our lack of storage capacity as pre-mortal beings, but they need to wait for another time.

    Eric (27)- If we take the view of Christ literally being “firstborn” no matter whether you look at this birth as literal or adoptive tells us something very interesting about Heavenly Father’s plan, I think. It seems to imply that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ had a relationship before Jesus was adopted/born.

    CC (28)- That’s an interesting idea. Never thought of it that way.

    Mark D. and CC and Geoff (29-39)-
    First let me say I am assuming, based on my memory of the facts that exaltation must entail having an immortal physical body. That said, I’m going to stick with the view that God and exalted Man are not the same thing. Jesus Christ was God made flesh. If you ascribe to Kenosis, he emptied himself of his divinity when he became man. In any view of the facts, looking at things like Ether shows he was pre-mortally a spirit and lacking a body.

    Also, the way investiture of authority works ultimately requires that those under the authority invest the authority in the being for that being to have authority. So it is we who ultimately invest our Godhead with Authority.

    Comment by Matt W. — August 24, 2009 @ 6:55 am

  41. Matt W #14 asked:
    But what is the difference between Priesthood and Priesthood Incarnate? (Incarnate means real or embodied, right?) If priesthood is authority, we move from having authority to being authority? Is that your view? If so, what does that mean? <<<

    Ram: Right now, we do all our priesthood functions in Christ’s name (or his power). While Christ was able to choose what he would do with the priesthood, we have to work according to his (God’s) will. When we become Gods, priesthood becomes us, and we become priesthood: righteous power. It will flow from us as the Light of Christ fills all space. It will be according to our own will, which will be as Jesus’ will is now. As D&C 93 suggests, we will go from grace to grace, receiving grace for grace.
    The Bible describes Melchizedek as “without father or mother”, which was changed by Joseph Smith to the priesthood of Melch being without father or mother. Neither concept makes sense in and of itself, but when combined, where the individual becomes God, Eternal, Priesthood Incarnate, then the phrase takes on an interesting and new meaning.

    Matt: and Abraham 3 suggests what?

    Ram: That there was a gathering of the great and noble ones. Not all spirit children were in attendance, as not all were great and noble. Some were chosen before this earth life to godhood. Among those chosen would have included Christ, Adam, etc.

    Matt: and if we were once a bunch of molecules, then our mind isn’t really eternal is it, since those molecules weren’t always connected?

    Ram: The Light of Christ is eternal, and can be considered the “one mind” of all, as it animates and flows through all things. All things are matter/energy, and determined by how these interact one with another as a bunch of chemical processes. Do we think that our minds, spiritual or physical, are anything more than that?

    Comment by rameumptom — August 24, 2009 @ 7:36 am

  42. Matt (40)

    I am not opposed to that implication.

    Comment by Eric Nielson — August 24, 2009 @ 8:38 am

  43. Ram (41) I like this. I like that the authority we have now is invested in us, whereas the authority we have post-exaltation is based on our own capacity. This ties in with John 5 pretty well, where his Father has given him to judge, but he only judges what the Father would judge.

    I don’t agree with the implication of predetination in your Abraham 3 concept. I don’t think anyone born here on earth is somehow excluded from the opportunity to maximize their divine potential.

    And yes, I like to think my spirit always existing was my will, my ability to choose, and not spirit chemical reactions. I like to think that when Joseph talks about the ring analogy he was specifically referring to this- ie that we as a free willed entity are without beginning, rather than some sort of gnostic approach where we are bits of Sophia trying to return to the “one mind”. Though I can understand the appeal of such an approach,

    Eric 42- Me either.

    Comment by Matt W. — August 24, 2009 @ 8:49 am

  44. Also, the way investiture of authority works ultimately requires that those under the authority invest the authority in the being for that being to have authority. So it is we who ultimately invest our Godhead with Authority

    I would say it is more like this. Every follower of righteousness invests the divine concert with authority, including the members of the same. Then that concert invests authority to act on behalf of the whole to individual members.

    The latter is what is more conventionally known as divine investiture of authority, but I agree it goes both ways.

    Comment by Mark D. — August 24, 2009 @ 10:11 pm

  45. With regard to exaltation, I think we are getting lost in technicalities. The only real issue here is whether every person who has a fulness of divinity has it by following more or less the same process and under more or less the same conditions as anyone else.

    If that is not the case, the exceptions are strictly speaking members of a different species. I don’t believe that because it presents far more problems than it solves. If Jesus Christ is included, it means his example is a triviality, the doctrine of Christ is a fiction, and much of the New Testament is wrong.

    Kenosis is fine if Jesus Christ progressed to a quasi-exalted state previously. But if he was fully divine from all eternity, kenosis is strictly speaking a metaphysical impossibility, and his example is a joke.

    Comment by Mark D. — August 24, 2009 @ 10:23 pm

  46. “the exceptions are strictly speaking members of a different species”

    I don’t think I can bring myself to agree with this line. I think it confuses ontology and identity.

    Comment by Clean Cut — August 25, 2009 @ 5:44 am

  47. Mark D. 44- I don’t see a lot of current evidence that we are investing authority into what I believe you are terming the Divine Concert as a whole, practically speaking. That doesn’t mean it isn’t happening, but at least the worshipers hear that I am aware of Follow and Invest Authority directly into the Godhead, and have “no other God before them” etc. This may signify nothing, as it is impossible to divide Heavenly Father from his righteousness/divinity/referent power, but I thought I’d bring it up.

    and 45- I don’t know that I’d say it is a technicality. I’d put it as thus.

    1. Jesus was God/divine, according to our scriptures/prophets, before he had a physical body.
    2. The scriptures/prophets teach we must have a body to be exalted.
    3. Therefore Godhood/Divinity is not equal to Exaltation.

    To be clear, I think the Godhead is my God and no one else can be my God in the same since that I am the Father of my children and no one else can be their Father. It is impossible, yet does not require an ontological difference.

    Clean Cut- I am not sure what you mean by ontology or Identity here.

    Comment by Matt W. — August 25, 2009 @ 6:50 am

  48. Matt W.,

    Jesus was God/divine, according to our scriptures/prophets, before he had a physical body.

    I am claiming that the proposition that he was fully God (in the same sense as his Father) prior to his resurrection is not a necessary one, and furthermore is essentially a contradiction. In addition, if we do not need glorified, resurrected bodies one might wonder why anyone needs a physical body at all. Just dispense with the resurrection and be done with it.

    That doesn’t mean it isn’t happening, but at least the worshipers hear that I am aware of Follow and Invest Authority directly into the Godhead

    Unless all divine authority is derived from the minority of earthly denizens who have a particular theological view, that doesn’t matter. What matters is whether all followers of righteousness everywhere are ultimately led by the Spirit into a unity of truth.

    There is only one true God, infinite and eternal. If there is more than one Godhead or Heavenly Father and they don’t work together, none has legitimate claim to be the one true God at all, but rather more like a claim to be the pastor of the local religious denomination. They should dispense with the capital letters and be done with it, because any claim to the contrary is a fraud.

    Comment by Mark D. — August 25, 2009 @ 9:00 am

  49. Clean Cut, Suppose we have sets A and B. All members of A necessarily have immutable property X. All members of B necessarily do not and cannot have property X.

    That is an ontological distinction. It means that A is a class or species that no member of B belongs to or will ever belong to. Any similarity between the two is superficial. One is the “real thing” and the other is a simulacrum.

    Comment by Mark D. — August 25, 2009 @ 9:13 am

  50. Mark,

    I would love to have Blake again describe why he thinks there is no ontological gap between the always-divine Godhead and never-yet-divine us in his theology. He seems to think that on some kind of technicality he escapes the logic you lay out in #49.

    Comment by Geoff J — August 25, 2009 @ 9:47 am

  51. Matt W #43,

    I agree with kenosis. I think that Abraham and the great and noble ones were demi-gods. D&C 93 seems to fit in here (going from grace to grace, receiving grace for grace), with the concept that there are levels of righteousness, and perhaps levels of exaltation or godhood. That they still continue to progress to full Godhood is without a doubt true, since Christ in mortality still had not achieved it, either.

    At the same time, there are many who developed greater spiritually than others. Some who were so spiritual that a level of godhood was almost assured (as they had already attained it). Could Christ have failed his mission? If so, then it means he could be a God in the premortal existence, but still required to achieve a fullness of glory and power – to be priesthood incarnate.

    Comment by rameumptom — August 25, 2009 @ 11:42 am

  52. Ram: So you are just say not everyone is equal and some people are further along the path than others. I am cool with that. One thing I am uncomfortable with in your idea of divine investiture of authority = priesthood argument is that women can not hold the priesthood. What are your thoughts in regards to that.

    Mark D.: If I seem obtuse here it is because I am personally trying to resolve what we mean when we talk about God with a capital G. I don’t think we can say Jesus is God in the same sense as the Father now, or can we? I think we do need exalted glorified bodies to achieve our full potential. I do not think we need glorified perfect bodies to be worthy of worship and emulation. The former I would term exaltation and the later I would term Godhood. I feel like I am being redundant, but I just want to make sure my perspective is clear.

    Comment by Matt W. — August 25, 2009 @ 2:59 pm

  53. Matt: I don’t think we can say Jesus is God in the same sense as the Father now, or can we?

    Why wouldn’t we?

    Comment by Geoff J — August 25, 2009 @ 3:54 pm

  54. Geoff: For one thing, he isn’t the Father. For another, By his own statements, he is subordinate to the Father. (He only does what his Father tells him, Judges as his Father would have him, etc.)

    Comment by Matt W. — August 25, 2009 @ 4:23 pm

  55. Well, by some measures Jesus is our Father. Also while he was completely subordinate to the Father while he was a mortal he is one with the father now and only as part of the unified Godhead do they make up the One God.

    Comment by Geoff J — August 25, 2009 @ 4:43 pm

  56. Matt W, the primary doctrine of monotheism (a pretty important one I might add) is that there can only be one true God. So whether you think that is ultimately an individual, a presidency, a council, or a concert, there can only be one entity in charge of the entire universe.

    Any other individual can only properly be termed God with a capital G if he speaks and acts with plenipotentiary authority on behalf of that person/group.

    Now in my opinion, there has never been nor ever will be an individual who is God in and of himself. I would say that is a metaphysical impossibility. Pelagianism has some good points, but its cardinal heresy is that one can be saved without at-one-ment.

    I claim that is how God came to be God. The plan of salvation was bootstrapped with an everlasting covenant (presumably between three individuals) and that spiritual union expanded to the point where the full members thereof jointly (not severally) exercise all power in heaven and in earth.

    The alternative is what I call divine singularity theory, i.e. some small handful of individuals are fully divine in their own right, without any particular effort on their part, and no one else will ever be. Even that doesn’t work with more than one individual unless they work together.

    Ultimately the question boils down to this – is divinity in its fullest sense a metaphysical accident that happens to be the exception to all exceptions, or is it a spiritual union or at-one-ment of a large number of individuals who discipline themselves in such a manner as to make such a union possible.

    Comment by Mark D. — August 25, 2009 @ 4:56 pm

  57. Furthermore, I claim that all scriptures that refer to “the Father”, ultimately refer not simply to the Father pertaining unto us but rather to the divine concert of all Heavenly Fathers.

    So the Hebrew scriptures the term elohim (gods) and Elohim (all the gods). Other scriptures refer to “the Eternal Father”, Endless is his name. When a person is baptized, endowed, etc. God places his name upon them. By that means his name becomes literally endless.

    “And we know that all men must repent and believe on the name of Jesus Christ, and worship the Father in his name, and endure in faith on his name to the end, or they cannot be saved in the kingdom of God.”

    Or in other words, someone can ultimately only be saved if they take the name that has been placed upon them seriously, i.e. if they are willing to sacrifice in his name, as befits a true Christian. Believing Christ is not enough – one must believe on the name of Jesus Christ. That is what the scripture says.

    Comment by Mark D. — August 25, 2009 @ 5:33 pm

  58. Geoff- I don’t see any evidence which must force a reading that oneness entails non-subordination on the part of the Son. On the other hand, John has Christ saying in John 5:30

    I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.

    Comment by Matt W. — August 25, 2009 @ 7:14 pm

  59. I claim that all scriptures that refer to “the Father”, ultimately refer not simply to the Father pertaining unto us but rather to the divine concert of all Heavenly Fathers.

    Mark, as I have stated elsewhere, my problem with this is that I don’t know of any compelling evidence to interpret “The Father” in scriptures as a plural entity. I understand the Elohim argument very well. But Joseph treated Heavenly Father as singular being of flesh and bones, and so has every other prophet of this dispenasation. While there have been intimated possibilities of other divine beings (Joseph said he always taught the plurality of gods), it is always that these divine beings are either not directly related to us or are subordinate to God.

    Of course, I am not arguing for such a view, just saying that there are passages and thoughts which tend to be against your view.

    In this thread, sadly, I am not arguing for any one position except the position that there is unfortonately not one uniform position one can appeal to as authoritative in any of the questions I have stated.

    That said,I like the idea of a divine concert, and personally trend toward the idea of God as an exalted being being a single being acting as representative for the preceding totality for the benefit of us, his adopted children.

    Comment by Matt W. — August 25, 2009 @ 7:27 pm

  60. Matt W., Admittedly, I am making a logical argument. If you want an evidentiary one how about we start with this passage from the King Follett Discourse:

    In order to understand the subject of the dead, for the consolation of those that mourn for the loss of their friends, it is necessary that we should understand the character and being of God and how he came to be so; for I am going to tell you how God came to be God.

    A couple paragraphs down:

    Here, then, is eternal life – to know the only wise and true God; and you have got to learn how to be Gods yourselves, and to be kings and priests to God, the same as all Gods have done before you, namely by going from one small degree to another, and from a small capacity to a great one, from grace to grace, from exaltation to exaltation, until you attain to the resurrection of the dead, and are able to dwell in everlasting burnings, and to sit in glory, as do those who sit enthroned in everlasting power.

    (That is from TPJS – you can check the parallel accounts at boap.org if you like. Of course capitalization here is guesswork.)

    Here Joseph Smith, as plain as day says that he will refute the idea that God was God from all eternity, and furthermore says that exaltation involves doing what all the other Gods/gods have done before you.

    For those who think Joseph Smith hadn’t lost his mind on this point, that should settle most of the issue here right there. If our Heavenly Father was not God from all eternity, but rather progressed grace for grace, from one small degree to another, etc, the same as all the Gods/gods have done before then we can conclude without hesitation that he is not a member of a radically different species. It is hard to see how Joseph Smith could be more clear on the subject without giving a philosophy lesson.

    Comment by Mark D. — August 25, 2009 @ 7:59 pm

  61. The first paragraph I quoted has two more sentences I omitted, like this:

    In order to understand the subject of the dead, for the consolation of those that mourn for the loss of their friends, it is necessary that we should understand the character and being of God and how he came to be so; for I am going to tell you how God came to be God. We have imagined that God was God from all eternity. I will refute that idea, and take away the veil so you may see.

    Comment by Mark D. — August 25, 2009 @ 8:06 pm

  62. Mark D.- What you just said supports my position of multiple gods and a single “Our Heavenly Father” rather than presenting any evidence for Father being the concert.

    Comment by Matt W. — August 25, 2009 @ 8:35 pm

  63. Matt W., I didn’t say I could resolve the whole issue. The evidence I presented was that:

    (1) Our Heavenly Father (aka “God”) has not been God from all eternity.
    (2) Nor has anyone else
    (3) The way all of them learned how to be gods was by progressing from grace to grace, from one small degree to another.

    Another excerpt along the same lines:

    How consoling to mourners when they are called to part with a husband, wife, father, mother, child, or dear realitive, to know that although the earthly tabernacle is laid down and dissolved, they shall rise again to dwell in everlasting burnings in immortal glory, not to sorrow, suffer, or die any more; but they shall be heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ.

    What is it? To inherit the same power, the same glory, and the same exaltation, until you arrive at the station of a God, and ascend the throne of eternal power, the same as those who have gone before.

    What did Jesus do? Why, I do the things I saw my father do when worlds came rolling into existence. My Father worked out his kingdom with fear and trembling, and I must do the same

    Given the truth of these doctrines, how is it possible to maintain that Jesus Christ and his father in heaven are in any way fundamentally different from each other, or for that matter different in potential from any of us?

    Joseph Smith taught that there were no small number of people who had been exalted and risen to the station of a God, that they all did it the same way. Unless they are all off in different universes and never speak to each other any more, that sounds an awful lot like a concert to me.

    Comment by Mark D. — August 25, 2009 @ 9:50 pm

  64. Matt, I appreciate your interaction with my comments (16) and I’m hoping to respond but I’d like to just identify what I see as a major point of concern for at least some on the thread, although I’m not exactly sure where everyone stands on the issue, and that is on the question of whether God and man are same or different.

    I think this is also the concern behind question 4 in the original post. Now, just as a backdrop I think most people recognize that classical Christian theology holds that man and God are fundamentally different in that man is created and God is uncreated. So we have an uncreate-created dichotomy. I think many LDS thinkers assume that Joseph Smith and the Restoration responds by saying that God and man are not different but fundamentally the same, or to put it differently, that man and God are both uncreated and therefore on the same side of the divided line.

    I think articulating this point has been a perennial problem in LDS discourse. To say that God and man are on the same side of the divided line is to stick with the framework or paradigm of classical Christian theology and I don’t think that Joseph Smith is using this framework at all. I’m not convinced that Joseph Smith is arguing that there is absolutely no difference between God and man. I don’t think that is the import of the King Follett Discourse.

    However, I recognize that once one comes to the conclusion that God and man are fundamentally no different, that one’s theology must take a set shape, and certain doctrines become necessary. I think there has been a problem in past discussions with assuming that all differences between God and man are ontological. This simply isn’t the case.

    Now, there is still the issue of the singular performance of Jesus Christ as the only person in history who did no sin and did not require a Redeemer. That is a difference between Jesus Christ and the rest of us. In addition, Jesus was the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob before he was born and I am not, nor do I know of any other person who was the God of Abraham, Isaac or Jacob before their birth other than Jesus Christ. If one takes the view that God and man are fundamentally the same, then we should find many more instances of mortals passing through mortality without sin and without the need for a Savior. Now, I understand some to be saying that unless we can do what Jesus did that the Plan of Salvation is somehow a sham and bankrupt. However, my understanding is that the point is that we cannot do what Jesus Christ did, otherwise he is irrelevant and superfluous and no one has need for a Redeemer. In my view, this tends to downplay the role of Redeemer.

    I also understand that most would agree that of course in this life there is a vast difference between God and man, but because they hold that God and man are fundamentally the same, their theology must claim that at some point in the past God and man must have been identical. Now, I can readily see where this idea comes from and how people can hold to this idea. However, I remain unconvinced that this is the case or that Joseph was teaching such an idea. Such a position requires one to postulate, at the very least, the infinite regression model and claim that God the Father was redeemed by a previous Savior, or that perhaps Jesus Christ in some other mortal probation required a Savior, and this must be postulated so that everyone is identical and equal. The thinking then becomes: If we need a Savior, then God the Father and God the Son must have needed a Savior since we are all on the identical journey.

    Yet, taken to its logical extreme it seems to me that this idea is fraught with grave difficulties, least of which it doesn’t seem to me to correspond to Joseph’s sermons, revelations or the texts that we have. It makes the Godhead somewhat arbitrary. Any three intelligences could have just entered into an everlasting covenant, and me and two other spirits could have just decided to form our own Godhead. However, this isn’t the story that comes from Joseph Smith. Rather the story is “that God himself finds himself in the midst of Sp & bec he saw proper to institute laws for those who were in less intelligence that they mit. have one glory upon another in all that knowledge power & glory & so took in hand to save the world of Sp” (from Bullock Report). Joseph doesn’t say that a not-yet-God found himself in the midst of the spirits, or that someone else had instituted laws for this not-yet-God to advance or that there were other triads of spirits covenanting to form godheads were also doing the same thing trying to save these spirits. Again, one could always postulate that God was just doing what was done for him, but this isn’t the King Follett Discourse.

    It is true that Joseph taught that the Father and the Son work out their kingdom with fear and trembling but this is not the same as working out one’s salvation with fear and trembling. Joseph is deliberately modifying Paul’s language in Philippians 2:12 with regard to the Father and Son. Mankind may work out their salvation with fear and trembling but it makes little sense to say that God works out his salvation. This is why Joseph Smith said the Father and Son work out their kingdom, not salvation.

    And again, if one takes the view that anything God can do man can do and must do, one must postulate a prior existence where the Father and Son did work out their salvation with fear and trembling. That’s fine, but that is not what I understand Joseph Smith to be teaching in the King Follett Sermon. Joseph taught that the Father and Son laid down their life and took it up again, something no one else apparently has the power to do. It would seem to me that one should not understand Joseph Smith or Mormonism to be setting up a theological system where the Father and Son are merely ahead of mankind chronologically and that otherwise there is no difference at all between us. I must stress that to say there is a difference is not to say there is an ontological difference, it is merely to state the obvious. While I feel I understand the concern with those who disagree, I personally do not feel let down or disappointed that God is somehow unique anymore than I am disappointed that the Savior is somehow uniquely the Savior and I am not.

    Once we become One with God, and receive all the the Father has, and become joint-heirs with Christ, what more else do we need to receive? Why must it be necessary that, after receiving all the Father has and becoming one with God, that I must now become a Savior of another world or a God the Father of another world, what does this give me that I haven’t already received by becoming One with God? Forget for a moment the difficulty with replicating the journey of the Holy Spirit, since that would entail everyone after the resurrection to somehow separate with an inseparable resurrected body (D&C 93:33).

    In my view, the gospel handed down by Joseph Smith is that we are to become one with God by being saved and redeemed by God through covenant, rather than the goal of trying to duplicate or replicate God’s journey because we are fundamentally identical in nature. If we could replicate this journey without God, then there is no need for the plan of salvation. While some may answer that we do replicate the journey because God the Father was also redeemed by another God the Father, I simply say that I can’t find such a gospel being preached by Joseph Smith.

    Comment by aquinas — August 25, 2009 @ 11:50 pm

  65. Matt W #52 wrote: One thing I am uncomfortable with in your idea of divine investiture of authority = priesthood argument is that women can not hold the priesthood. What are your thoughts in regards to that.

    Ram: I believe women DO hold the priesthood when they are sealed to their husbands in the temple. They share the Patriarchal Priesthood. In heaven, women will be ordained to be queens and priestesses. Just how their roles are different than king/priest, I do not know. But they too should become priesthood incarnate.

    Comment by rameumptom — August 26, 2009 @ 7:36 am

  66. Aquinas, very well put!

    Comment by Kent (MC) — August 26, 2009 @ 7:54 am

  67. aquinas, I agree with you that a literal replication of journey is not what Joseph Smith taught (with regard to us at any rate). However, he did teach that God was not God from all eternity, that God came to be God, and so did all the other Gods before.

    There is no need to assume that the procedural details of the salvation of any given individual are the same in every case. If the plan of salvation was bootstrapped, that almost certainly is not the case.

    The scriptures are more than clear that one cannot save oneself, and furthermore that salvation without God is impossible. This is not a problem. The divine concert saves the divine concert.

    Unless you hold to the causality violation involved in having Jesus Christ suffer due to sins that haven’t been committed yet, there is no reason that his spiritual role in the matter can’t be served by any other sufficiently exalted (i.e. divine) person, or all of them together.

    You say there is not an ontological difference. But the real question here is how did God come to be God, and what accounts for his glory and power. I claim that God came to be God by joining together with other individuals in a concert or spiritual union, and the power and glory of God is a consequence of that union, without which it would not exist.

    So if there is not an ontological difference, and Joseph Smith was wrong on God coming to be God, what accounts for a small number of individuals magically being endowed with divine power by absolutely no one? Or with infinite backwards recursion theory, whoever came “first”, or before time t as t goes to minus infinity?

    The accidental view is as if divinity is some sort of magical fluid that can be passed from person to person under the right conditions, but no one can explain how the magical fluid came to exist in the first place, and what sustains its existence. Why is it that the powers of heaven can only he handled on the principles of righteousness? If some number of people were endowed with this magical fluid by accident, why should the universe care whether they use it for good or for evil?

    Ultimately, D&C 121 only makes sense if divine power and glory are contingent rather than necessary. Otherwise, at a minimum, the initial people endowed with divinity by accident would have to be deprived of their free will, to metaphysically prevent its exercise in any other way.

    Comment by Mark D. — August 26, 2009 @ 7:55 am

  68. Or in short, what I am claiming is that the proposition that righteousness is a metaphysical necessity is ridiculous.

    The universe, I suppose, could accidentally endow some person with great power and intelligence, but making such a person be a righteous person is not metaphysically possible, due to the free will of the person involved.

    So we would be left with the proposition that it is a metaphysical accident that there is any God at all, that it is nearly as likely that the universe would be unalterably dominated by a group of evil beings as unalterably dominated by a group of righteous ones.

    Comment by Mark D. — August 26, 2009 @ 8:08 am

  69. MarkD.

    Well put.

    Comment by Eric Nielson — August 26, 2009 @ 8:55 am

  70. Masters and apprentices

    1. The Divinity of Jesus Christ- Is he a God exactly like Heavenly Father is, or is he divinely invested with Authority by the Father? What are the implications of this on our understanding of the atonement?

    No. Christ operates under the authority of His Father until after the resurrection. After that He will operate under His own authority.

    2. The Existence of a Heavenly Mother- Do you believe or not believe in her? If she is existent, is it like J. Stapley believes and she is not equal to the Father? What does her existence imply?

    We are told we must be married in order to obtain the highest degree of the Celestial kingdom, where God lives. It is reasonable to expect that he is also married. Tell me this, is your wife equal to you?

    3. Is there a Father of Heavenly Father? What does that mean?

    No. At one time the Father had a heavenly Father. This was when He was a terrestrial being. But not now. It’s like the medieval guilds. One has a master and an apprentice. Once the apprentice passes the requirements for master, he is raised to the level of his previous master. He no longer has a master over him.

    4. If God was once a man like we are now, but was also always God, are we also always God?

    We are discussing the difference between terrestrial time and Celestial time. Celestial time is based on eternity. Since we have no understanding of what eternity is or how it works, we can’t answer questions such as these.

    5. What does it mean to be the Most High God? Is it just smarter than the smarties?

    No, it means He is the source of all power and authority pertaining to the gospel plan. It is the Priesthood.

    6. What does it mean to be an eternal being? Are we Eternal in the sense that we have always been conscious?

    See the answer to question #4.

    Rich

    Comment by Rich K — August 26, 2009 @ 1:53 pm

  71. There is a tremendous semantic problem with the word ‘eternal.’ It simply doesn’t mean that something has always been exactly as it is. An ‘eternal’ state can be achieved.

    Think of it like the word blue. Is one always blue? No. But if one element of blue was that it cannot be altered, once one was painted blue one would be eternally blue. So that we are not now eternal, whether or not we have always existed in some form, but can be through the same process that other eternal beings (and things) became eternal. And this is the whole point. (Examples: has eternal marriage always been eternal? – no, it must become eternal. When we attain ‘eternal life’ will it be because life was always so? No. When the earth attains its ‘eternal state’ (Sec 77) will it always have been in that state? No. Has God always been exactly as He is now? No, but he became eternal – that is, by process He became perfectly united with everything that is called eternal – which are those things – ideas, beings, a body – that cannot change.)

    It seems to me that a misunderstanding of this word, and related words, put us a long way down the road to the creeds.

    I think we have always existed individually in some form. But we may not have always been conscious of ourselves, we may not always have had, say, a personality. Individuation is a process, and apparently at some point in that process our Father became Father is a way that is meaningful to us and literal. It seems to me inarguable that if He is to be called Father in a meaningful way, then some act of His brought us into a different state of individuation. (Much as our fathers and mothers in this life brought us into a different state in the process.) And that whether or not this is spirit birth, it seems both likely in our theology, and otherwise beautiful, that this required both man and woman.

    It seems coherent to me that in the process of individuation, or becoming eternal, Jesus had become eternal, or had taken on eternal traits, that pretty much, along with a difference in His physicality, insured that He would able to fulfill His unique role. He was not complete yet, because He lacked a body. But he mat have already become eternal in some significant way. He was not a god, as we might have even been described, but a God. We may also have taken on eternal traits, but we continued to posses flaws that could be exploited to derail us from the path. That is simply to say that we had godly, or eternal traits, but remain(ed) imperfect. So that we see that while there was a difference between the Lord and us in quality, it was not a permanent difference in kind.

    At some point along the way we take on, we could even say we are sealed to, eternal characteristics and then we “go in and go no more out.” Joseph famously explained that anything that has a beginning may also have an end. But this is only for those of us that are moving linearly (I DO NOT mean moving forward in time.) For those who are sealed to eternal characteristics, beginnings and ends are described as “one eternal round.” It says that no sooner does one earth pass away than another is brought into existence. We become endless, without beginning of days or end of years – but we are not currently eternal in that way.

    We tend to think that God is at such great remove from us that He is incomprehensible. He is certainly considerably beyond us, but He is knowable. Many eternal characteristics we can get a mature grasp on in this life – love, truth, etc. So much so that we can be sealed up unto eternal life, in this life. Joseph’s God is a knowable God.

    There is tension that if God was at some point in a state less than others or than He is now, or less that Christ in mortal existence, for instance, that somehow permanently makes Him of less consideration. That tension itself tends to devalue the _equality_ of Eternal beings, or Gods. He is the Most High because there is and can be none above Him. But, the Savior ‘found it not robbery to be equal with God.’ And an attained perfection is no less perfect than an imagined inherent perfection. ~

    Comment by Thomas Parkin — August 26, 2009 @ 6:12 pm

  72. Mark and Aquinas, I appreciate you responses and back and forth. Both were very well argued, and thus I think the two go a way towards showing the ambiguity I believe exists if we must base our theology on the current statements we have available.

    Sorry I can’t engage you (Or Thomas Parken or Rich K) further at this time. Real life etc.

    Comment by Matt W. — August 26, 2009 @ 8:47 pm

  73. Our theology can only be based on personal revelation, which is an individual matter. The only way to know anything about God is to have God speaking to you. Otherwise we are ever learning, or ever thinking, ever grappling, and never able to come to a knowledge of the truth. So this or that statement or that can be a doorway into understanding, but we don’t learn much of anything by comparing interpretations.

    Since our individual revelations are not binding, or often even meaningful, to anyone other than ourselves (if for no other reason that people are prepared to learn only that which lies just over their personal horizons), these discussions may be fun, less often but sometimes enlightening, never conclusive, or even close to conclusive.

    What’s more, since the program of the church has been for some time to lead individuals into a situation where they are able to obtain personal revelation, more than dictating or giving much more than a touchstone on what the content of that revelation is likely to be, we are not going to be able to conclude anything on these matters collectively.

    Seems to me the best program is still scripture study, prayer, participation in the ordinances where God is symbolically revealed (especially the Temple ordinances), all with an expectation of receiving, then the patience to allow things to unfold. The key question is: what is the next thing that I am capable of understanding? Building not on speculation but on personal revelation. Without the quickening associated with the Holy Spirit, it’s going to remain gobbledygook.

    The one fatal thing is to tie one’s ideas to one’s identity. “These are my ideas”, or “this is the way that I think.” I’ve been struggling with this in the last couple months. A body has got to be able to give that all up. ~

    Comment by Thomas Parkin — August 26, 2009 @ 9:05 pm

  74. Our theology can only be based on personal revelation

    Just a minor quibble: Any theology based solely on personal revelation would not be “ours”. It would be a personal theology (unless others accepted the revelations for themselves I suppose).

    Comment by Geoff J — August 26, 2009 @ 11:26 pm

  75. Yeah – good catch – I should have said “our approach to theology …”, or something. Although that doesn’t really even say it, does it? We do have touchstones, we do have commonality. I think that commonality pretty much includes the scriptures, the temple ordinances, and possibly some of the teachings of Joseph Smith. There is a lot of wiggle room there. A pretty wide variety of beliefs can be held in perfectly good faith. Question is whether we are increasing in understanding. That’s the Mormon question. :) ~

    Comment by Thomas Parkin — August 27, 2009 @ 5:43 am

  76. Mark D, thank you for charitably engaging in my comment. I would like to offer a response, of course with the caveat that I understand we probably fall on different sides of the issue. Naturally, one of the issues in these discussions is how to interpret Joseph Smith. Now, when Joseph says that God came to be God, I understand him to be saying that God the Father has a history. There is no need to interpret Joseph to be saying anything more than God the Father once experienced mortality and laid down his life and had power to take it up again. Notice that the context of the King Follett Discourse is that this is a funeral sermon given to console those who are experiencing the pains of losing a loved one to death. The consolation is that God the Father knows what we are going through because he also went through the experience of death, as did Jesus Christ, and that the resurrection is a reality. I’m not sure the value of consolation of telling the audience that God wasn’t always divine. There is no need to interpret the language beyond the bounds employed by Joseph Smith himself.

    What Joseph is teaching is that the Father did not possess a resurrected body from all eternity but that, like Christ, had a mortal experience. Again, this should not be surprising for Joseph Smith to teach this as his First Vision narrative implicitly asserts this fact. That Jesus Christ has a resurrected body of flesh and bone is explained by the New Testament narrative and is readily understood. On the other hand, without the King Follett Discourse we have no knowledge of how God the Father came to have a body of flesh and bone, but with the sermon we do learn how God came to be God. The King Follett Discourse is drenched with references to the body and the resurrection, to the form of God and the fact that man can converse with God as one man with another, that we should see Him in the form of a man. The import of the Discourse has nothing to do with God going from non-divine to divine. The Discourse must be understood not only within the social context of a funeral but against the religious environment of the day, where prevailing notions about the nature of God was, and still is, that God is pure spirit without form and without the capacity for man to speak with God, making Joseph’s First Vision a theological impossibility. It should be stressed that the Book of Mormon tells the story of how God came to be God as well, but does not postulate a time when Christ was not divine.

    Furthermore, when Joseph speaks of those who have gone before, it is clear to me that he is referring to the sons of God within the framework that Joseph has already provided; namely, that God saw proper to institute laws by which the weaker intelligences might advance. Joseph never speaks in terms of a “divine concert.” Rather, Joseph’s language is that of a Grand Council with a Head God who calls forth or brings forth the gods. We know God doesn’t bring forth the gods into existence (since spirits are co-eternal with God) but he brings them forth into council. D&C 121:33 speaks of the “the Council of the Eternal God of all other gods.”

    When Joseph speaks of a plurality of Gods, he is referring to the three Gods who comprise the Godhead, never to multiple Godheads. Joseph makes a distinction between the three Gods who are “plural anyhow” and the gods who he deems the sons of God. Now, I understand your claim that “God came to be God by joining together with other individuals in a concert or spiritual union, and the power and glory of God is a consequence of that union, without which it would not exist.” I agree that Joseph taught “An Everlasting covenant was made between three personages before the organization of this earth and relates to their dispensation of things to men on the earth. These personages according to Abraham’s record are called God the first, the Creator; God the second, the Redeemer; and God the third, the Witness or Testator.” (from William Clayton’s Private Book). However, what I find alien to Joseph Smith is the seemingly arbitrary notion that any three spirits could have done this, or that there are more than three who have entered into this everlasting covenant. Joseph only teaches of three and notes three specific roles that correspond to these three personages. In addition, it seems to me you are suggesting that there isn’t anything particularly special about the Savior but that anyone could have been the Savior. This doesn’t sound like Joseph Smith to me. You suggest that “there is no reason that his spiritual role in the matter can’t be served by any other sufficiently exalted (i.e. divine) person, or all of them together.” However, for me the question is: what did Joseph actually teach?

    If this is the case, there seems nothing particularly special about our godhead, or even our savior. Why this Godhead then? However, I’d like to point out that this kind of reasoning that explains the move towards a model where the gods simply rotate in and out of positions since there is nothing inherently special about any intelligence, they are simply generic spirits. In fact, the strong drive to complete and total equality in all respects between God and man forces one into a position where there is nothing particularly special in God, because to be special is interpreted as some ontological difference. I remain unconvinced this was Joseph’s project. Furthermore, I’m not sure this model has any greater explanatory value either. It seems to me that you simply push back the question into infinity because you still have the question of how the “divine concert” came to be, or who founded it, and therefore you are still in the same predicament.

    Joseph Smith on the other hand doesn’t use this language at all; rather, he speaks of God who is the greatest of all and “more intelligent than they all”; He is the one instituting laws and instructing and saving the weaker intelligences. In Joseph’s narrative, there is no competition among the spirits for forming godheads and saving the souls of men other than the conflict between the members of the Grand Council. The Book of Abraham never advances a theory to account for the differences in the intelligences; it simply asserts that “two facts exist.” Your assumption about the universe as a kind of character that endows God and other spirits seems again foreign to Joseph Smith. God is the one who endows the weaker intelligences and seeks to save them, not the universe.

    More than anything I’m trying to identify these two views and from whence they spring. Once a person decides that God the Father and man must have identical journeys then they must hold the view that God the Father had a God the Father and that God the Father had a mortal probation where either he was a sinner like us or where he was a Savior on another world like Christ (or both). This leads to the notion of various spheres or dimensions or universes each with its own Godhead or its own Head God and it leads to this notion of infinite regression of Gods and multiple mortal probations. All of these theological add-ons are necessary to make the whole project work. This makes spirits generic because no spirit is necessarily special or unique in and of themselves. Each has the potential to do what any other can do, and this leads to the popular idea of rotating offices or titles where gods just rotate in and out of these positions since it doesn’t matter. This radical equalizing of spirit potential for replication of progression may be appealing to some because perhaps they think “if only God can do something I cannot then it isn’t fair and then God isn’t really like me” but I don’t think it stands up well under scrutiny. However, this drive really does explain a lot and I think it explains why certain schools of Mormon theology have developed along these lines. Is it possible that perhaps this is an overreaction to classical Christian theology?

    On the other hand, once we decide that the goal is not a one-to-one replication of progression then there is no need to posit a infinite regression of God model, no need to postulate that God the Father had a God the Father, and so on; no need to postulate that there are multiple saviors on multiple worlds with multiple Godheads, no need to postulate a multiple mortal probations, but only one. All of this in my mind gets rid of all the mental gymnastics and just allows a plain reading (at least a more plain reading) of the scriptures and Joseph Smith. Now we can really accept Joseph when he says there is a Head God who brought forth all the gods (not into existence but into council), that there is only one Savior who performed an infinite and eternal atonement, that God the Father created and redeemed all worlds by his Only Begotten, that this life is the time to prepare to meet God, that God is Eternal without beginning of days or end of years and never was a sinful man in a previous probation; this allows Christ to do what he sees the Father do, it allows us to read the Book of Abraham at its words that there is a God who is more intelligent than they all, it allows us to accept Joseph Smith’s words that God finding himself in the midst of spirits saw proper to institute laws whereby they may advance. It also allows us to see the need for entering into covenant with God, the need for a Redeemer, and it allows us to accept that God is a person not merely an office or a title. It allows the goal to be to enter into covenant and receive all that the Father has, and to become joint-heirs with Christ, rather than duplicate their journey, since we never duplicated it in the past. It allows us to have love and devotion to our God who redeemed us without the idea that any one could have redeemed us and it just happened to be Christ, but it could have been anyone. All of this seems more like what I read in the Book of Mormon, Bible and from Joseph Smith. This tastes better to me.

    I am fully aware that many people feel passionately about their particular position on these issues, and I appreciate those who have engaged my comments civilly and charitably. It is greatly appreciated.

    Comment by aquinas — August 28, 2009 @ 5:01 pm

  77. Aquinas- while you addressed this to Mark, I would also like to respond. I have read your statement several times today, and I do think there are a few points where I think a greater understanding of the opposing view could help. I am not taking sides (I am arguing for ambiguity after all) here, I just want to elaborate on a few points.

    You say

    I’m not sure the value of consolation of telling the audience that God wasn’t always divine. There is no need to interpret the language beyond the bounds employed by Joseph Smith himself

    First of all, the King Follet Discourse was not merely a funeral sermon, but was also a Session of General Conference for the Church. I do in any case think we need not interpret Joseph’s language beyond what he himself said. And he said:

    We suppose that God was God from eternity. I will refute that Idea, or I will do away or take away the veil so you may see.

    - Wilford Woodruff Journal, King Follet Discourse. General Conference April 7, 1844

    So Joseph refutes the idea that God was God from all eternity. Perhaps it is possible to argue that being God and being divine are two different things, but it is not possible to argue or interpret Joseph to think that God was always God.

    Also in the Same Sermon we see where Saints get the idea that our exaltation means being equal with God. Joseph Said:

    We choose tabernacles for ourselves that we might be exalted equal with God himself

    Laub Summary, King Follet Discourse. General Conference April 7, 1844

    You also said:

    there is no need to posit a infinite regression of God model, no need to postulate that God the Father had a God the Father

    Typically it is not the King Follet Sermon from which we get the idea of an infinite regression of Gods, but it is the Sermon at the Grove, from June 16, 1844, which as far as I know, may well be Joseph’s last Sermon.There Joseph said:

    If Jesus Christ was the Son of God, and John discovered that God the Father of Jesus Christ had a Father, you may suppose that He had a Father also. Where was there ever a son without a father? And where was there ever a father without first being a son? Whenever did a tree or anything spring into existence without a progenitor? And everything comes in this way. Paul says that which is earthly is in the likeness of that which is heavenly, Hence if Jesus had a Father, can we not believe that He had a Father also? I despise the idea of being scared to death at such a doctrine, for the Bible is full of it.
    I want you to pay particular attention to what I am saying. Jesus said that the Father wrought precisely in the same way as His Father had done before Him. As the Father had done before? He laid down His life, and took it up the same as His Father had done before. He did as He was sent, to lay down His life and take it up again; and then was committed unto Him the keys. I know it is good reasoning.

    – Bullock Report, Sermon in the Grove, June 16, 1844

    and

    the holy ghost is yet a Spiritual body and waiting to take to himself a body. as the Savior did or as god did or the gods before them took bodies

    – Laub Journal, Sermon in the Grove, June 16, 1844

    So at that point, we have Joseph teaching the the Father of Jesus Christ had a Father and that the gods before god took bodies upon themselves also.

    So to summarize, Joseph Taught:
    God was not always God.
    God was once a Man.
    God had a Father.
    There were gods before God.
    Men can be Equal with God (this requires having a body)

    I hope this helps. Keep in mind, I do understand your point of view (Thus in our email earlier, I encourage you to share it) I even am sympathetic to it to a certain extent. I just think appealing to Joseph singularly is not the method to go about establishing such a view. I think we are far better off establishing the teachings of the Current authorities and working backwards, rather than the teachings of Joseph coming forwards.

    Comment by Matt W. — August 28, 2009 @ 9:05 pm

  78. I just posted this question and thought I have on another post, but I would like to post it here as well, to get more insight on it.

    Here it is:

    I have a question, that maybe someone could expound upon for me- If Jesus only saw as his Father had done, doesn’t that mean our ultimate God we worship was a Christ for his mortal existence (including being the first spirit born of his Father)? Wouldn’t this mean that if our God was not a Christ for his Father, Jesus would be higher than our God, for he has experienced more? And if our God was a savior for his Father, how can we become a high God if we have not experienced being a Christ for our God? Would we not just be minor rulers, and not become full high Gods? Now I’m thinking we could probably still have our own spirit children, and dominions/creations, but if we did not go through all as Christ did, how could we be their God, wouldn’t we, our spirit children, and creations be under the realm of our God and our Savior still? I am reminded by the order of priesthood in the Old Testament times: it was given and passed down through the first born male. What about the second or third male son, and their sons, would they still be held under their father’s priesthood, or their first born brother’s priesthood? Maybe this is in relation to how true Godhood works in the eternities. We could in a sense be a part of the “Elohiem” (making decisions and carrying out minor roles), but not the most high God or “El” as the order of our Christ will carry on this role of “El” (most high), then his first born spirit male son will carry the role of “EL” after he completes his father’s (our Christ’s) work as our Christ completed his Father’s work, as his Father completed his Father’s work, etc. I’m sorry if this is hard to figure out, but this is just my thinking. Please give me any insights. Thanks

    Comment by Trevor — August 29, 2009 @ 6:24 pm

  79. Trevor- the idea of the Son not being a Redeemer for his father is not problematic if you hold to the idea that the redemption is so complete it makes us a Redeemer as well. See Stanley Thayne’s talk at SMPT conference 2008 for more.

    Comment by Matt W. — August 30, 2009 @ 8:07 pm

  80. Matt, I don’t think it’s wise to state unequivocally that Joseph refutes the idea that God is God from all eternity. I just finished reading the chapter on “God the Father” in Blake Ostlers Volume 2 of “Exploring Mormon Thought” today. Oslter points out that that statement (from the Willard Richards and Willford Woodruff accounts) is “an incomplete report of what Joseph actually said, according to two other sources with a very different reading. The most complete report is by Joseph’s scribe, Thomas Bullock, who made what appears to be the closest word for word rendition of the discourse. His record states: ‘I am going to tell you what sort of a being of God. for he was God from the begin [sic] of all Eternity & if I do not refute it–truth is the touchstone’. This version states that God was God (a divine person) from the beginning and that Joseph Smith does not intend to refute that view.”

    William Clayton omits the statement about a refutation altogether and simply says “going to tell you how God came to be God”. I also interpret “came to be God” as saying that God has a history, like you and me, similarly to how one could talk of how Matt W. came to be Matt W., even though you’ve always been Matt W. So I very much appreciate Aquinas’ comments here. Also, similar to Ostler, I don’t interpret Joseph to be contradicting scriptures that speak of God being from everlasting to everlasting, or even late statements that Joseph himself made that God has always been divine.

    PS: In the footnotes of his book, Ostler quotes the Woodruff report as “We suppose God was God from all eternity. I will refute that idea, or I will do away or take away the veil so you may see…” and says that “this line of clarification also suggests that Joseph Smith may have misspoke: He says he will ‘refute the idea’ and then corrects himself to say what he really intended: ‘or I will take away the veil’.”

    PSS: As to the statement in the Sermon in the Grove about the Father of God the Father and how that is used to support the infinite regression model, despite Joseph’s talk of the “Head God” or “Most High God”, I think Ostler makes a very sound case that when Joseph talked of a Father for God the Father, he was referring to the Father’s mortal probation as an extension of his Christology, similar to how Christ had a Father when he was born on earth. Ostler argues that any other interpretation of God having a Father spiritually beget him previously is anachronistic, since it “makes assumptions about spirit birth and intelligences being begotten into spirit bodies that were absent from Joseph Smith’s views.”

    I really appreciate those writings.

    Comment by Clean Cut — August 30, 2009 @ 8:34 pm

  81. One more thing, Matt. You said: “I think we are far better off establishing the teachings of the Current authorities and working backwards, rather than the teachings of Joseph coming forwards.”

    One problem I have with that is that it didn’t work too well in regards to the Priesthood Ban.

    Comment by Clean Cut — August 30, 2009 @ 8:39 pm

  82. Matt: Even if we take the assertion at face value that Joseph intended to “refute” the view God had always been God, it seems that it is open to a view you seem to implicitly rule out as a possible interpretation. If he said it, perhaps he meant nothing more than that the God (the Father) at one time became mortal so he wasn’t always “god.” That is, there was a time when God (the Father) wasn’t the God of the universe — the time during which he was mortal — so he wasn’t God from all eternity. That’s assuming that he said it which, as Clean Cut points out, is open to dispute.

    Further, how do you square your assertions with Joseph’s assertion that the Son only did what he had seen the Father do? The Son was divine before becoming mortal. If the Son did what the Father did, then it follows that the Father was also divine before becoming mortal. Moreover, Joseph observed that the Father laid down his life and took it up again. How does a non-divine being do that?

    Comment by Blake — August 30, 2009 @ 9:13 pm

  83. Hi Guys, Please keep in mind, I think the text is ambiguous, and don’t think there is a clear answer either way.

    And rather than argue this in circles, which we’ve been doing for years now, may I propose a possible solution? We have 5 scribes of the King Follet Discourse. They are Wilford Woodruff, William Clayton, Thomas Bullock, Willard Richards, and Samuel W. Richards. An Interesting test of hypotheses would be to check the later writings of these five for indicators of their beliefs regarding whether God was always God. Frankly, I find Blake’s wresting with the text unconvincing, and even more so in light of his equivocation here that even if he is wrong, then maybe God was only not God while going through mortality.

    And who was Christ’s Father when he was born on Earth? Wasn’t it Heavenly Father?

    And, What part of the teaching of the current authorities regarding the priesthood ban do you disagree with? Not sure what your point is there.

    Blake, in your #82 you say that God was not the God of the Universe for a time. Would you say also that he wasn’t divine at that time? If not, what is the difference between divinity and godhood to you?

    Finally, I believe in the resurrection. We will all die and be resurrected. Are we all divine beings?

    Comment by Matt W. — August 30, 2009 @ 10:01 pm

  84. Regarding 81- I think a legitimate objection to establishing the teachings of the church now and moving backwards would be that the current teachers are either nothing or “we don’t know”. Hard to go backwards from that.

    Comment by Matt W. — August 30, 2009 @ 10:53 pm

  85. First relevant passage from the KFD, various accounts (from boap.org):

    Smith diary (Willard Richards): “refute the Idea that God was God from all eternity -”

    Samuel W. Richards record: “Not God from all Eternity”

    Bullock Report: “for he was God from the begin of all Eternity & if I do not refute it”

    Woodruff Journal: “We suppose that God was God from eternity. I will refute that Idea, or I will do away or take away the veil so you may see”

    Clayton Report: “We have imagined that God was God from all eternity–”

    Times and Seasons (edited by Bullock from his and Clayton’s notes): “We have imagined that God was God from all eternity.”

    It doesn’t look like Bullock had any confidence in his notes on this passage.

    Comment by Mark D. — August 30, 2009 @ 11:33 pm

  86. Next relevant passage from the KFD, various accounts:

    Willard Richards: “you have got to learn how to make yourselves God, Kings, Priests, &c. – by going from a small to great capacity”

    Samuel Richards: “To know God learn to become God’s.”

    Bullock: “you have got to learn how to be a God yourself & be a K. & God Priest to God same as all have done by going from a small capy to anr. from grace to grace”

    Woodruff: “And you have got to learn how to make yourselves God, king and priest, by going from a small capacity to a great capacity”

    Clayton: “You have got to learn how to be a god yourself in order to save yourself– to be priests & kings as all Gods has done–by going from a small degree to another”

    T&S: “You have got to learn how to be Gods yourselves; to be kings and priests to God the same as all Gods have done; by going from a small degree to another”

    Bullock, Clayton, and Bullock in T&S all have the key phrase here “all have done”.

    The whole structure of this section of the discourse is a three part parallel between God the Father, Jesus Christ, and us as individuals. If Joseph Smith wanted to make the point that we were all intrinsically different, he chose exactly the wrong way to go about it.

    Comment by Mark D. — August 30, 2009 @ 11:44 pm

  87. Re 81 still- another reasonable argument for giving Joseph Smith further consideration that the current teachings of the church would be to consider him the head of the dispensation, and all following prophets to be be reflections of him. (McConkie said this somewhere.)

    Comment by Matt W. — August 31, 2009 @ 7:48 am

  88. Matt: You didn’t answer my questions in #82: how do you square your assertions with Joseph’s assertion that the Son only did what he had seen the Father do? The Son was divine before becoming mortal. If the Son did what the Father did, then it follows that the Father was also divine before becoming mortal. Moreover, Joseph observed that the Father laid down his life and took it up again. How does a non-divine being do that?

    To suggest that I am “wresting” the text is more than uncharitable. I’m just doing my best to make sense of the texts.

    Frankly, I’d rather put Joseph Smith’s teachings in light of his prior teachings. That is far more common. Further, with respect to the beliefs of what others understood from Joseph Smith — there is little or no guidance there because the others didn’t write or speak much about it and certainly didn’t reflect directly on the KFD or Sermon in the Grove. Wilford Woodruff did teach that God is always progressing in knowledge and dominion, but that doesn’t really solve the problems now does it? Further, Brigham Young wasn’t present for the JFD or Sermon in the Grove.

    Matt & Mark: I just wanted to be clear. My view doesn’t entail that we are different in kind from the Father and the Son. We are everything that they are in terms of species and potentiality. They have just realized a divinity that we have not because they have been one in each other from all eternity and we have not. If we had freely chosen to be one as they did from all eternity, then we also would have been fully divine from all eternity. The difference is merely in the choices we have made, not in the kind of things or beings that we are.

    Comment by Blake — August 31, 2009 @ 9:04 am

  89. Matt #83: “And who was Christ’s Father when he was born on Earth? Wasn’t it Heavenly Father?”

    Yes.

    “Blake, in your #82 you say that God was not the God of the Universe for a time. Would you say also that he wasn’t divine at that time? If not, what is the difference between divinity and godhood to you?”

    Matt, I make a distinction between potentially divine and being fully divine. We are all divine now in the sense that we have all the capacities, when in a relationship of indwelling unity, to be fully divine. To be fully divine (what the scriptures call having a “fullness”) is to share fully in the glory, knowledge, power and presence to all things that the Father, Son and Holy Ghost share. We have been invited into this unity. However, at present we don’t realize this potential. We are alienated from God. It doesn’t make us a different species any more than a caterpillar is a different species than a butterfly or an oak seed is different in species from an oak tree. Or perhaps better, we are already of the divine species in a way analogous to the potential that oxygen has to be water — it can create water but only when in an appropriate relationship with hydrogen. We are divine but only when in an appropriate relationship with the divine persons.

    Comment by Blake — August 31, 2009 @ 9:13 am

  90. Blake:

    You didn’t answer my questions in #82: how do you square your assertions with Joseph’s assertion that the Son only did what he had seen the Father do? The Son was divine before becoming mortal.

    What is your definition of divine here? I would define divinity as having the nature of a god. I hold that there is divinity within all of us, as Gordon B. Hinckley asserted in conference a few years ago. It is taught as a Young Women’s value to every woman in the Church who are taught “I have inherited divine qualities,
    which I will strive to develop.”

    So yeah, Jesus was divine. So was Geoff J. So your argument is based on some sort of definition of divinity which I think is different than mine. Sort of a non-starter for me, I guess.

    To suggest that I am “wresting” the text is more than uncharitable. I’m just doing my best to make sense of the texts.

    I am sorry for my poor choice in wording and if it offended you. I think you are great. If I am ever in Utah, I’ll buy you lunch. I was more or less just saying that I find that Joseph made some statements which are now still unclear and leave us with ambiguity in our theology. I know that seems like an underwhelming response from me, when you have worked extremely hard to produce a systematic theology. (Book 3 is on the way to my house right now, BTW, along with a 3rd copy of book 1. I’ve given two away, and clean cut is currently quoting my own copy of book 2 at me!)

    rankly, I’d rather put Joseph Smith’s teachings in light of his prior teachings. That is far more common.

    I listened to your response to Stanley Thayne at SMPT conference 2008 a few weeks back and you said much the same thing then, in that you wish to reject the B.H. Roberts idea of Smith living his life in crescendo. I also find that idea problematic to an extent, as it is hard to discern an uptick in revelatory experience from mere speculation or even theological backsliding. (and to be charitable, I am sure this is what Clean Cut meant when he referred to the priesthood ban) Anyway, as you have noted in previous posts, there is more than one acceptable mormon theology. What we are really doing here is making arguments within that outer window of which is more acceptable. My argument is that it is currently ambiguous, and we are better of making a theological case where either situation may be acceptable.

    with respect to the beliefs of what others understood from Joseph Smith — there is little or no guidance there because the others didn’t write or speak much about it and certainly didn’t reflect directly on the KFD or Sermon in the Grove. Wilford Woodruff did teach that God is always progressing in knowledge and dominion, but that doesn’t really solve the problems now does it? Further, Brigham Young wasn’t present for the JFD or Sermon in the Grove.

    I am researching Bullock and Clayton specifically. Nothing yet, so you are probably right. BY would be a poor choice for thoughts due to the whole “Adam God” thing, so I can agree with you there.

    I just wanted to be clear. My view doesn’t entail that we are different in kind from the Father and the Son. We are everything that they are in terms of species and potentiality. They have just realized a divinity that we have not because they have been one in each other from all eternity and we have not. If we had freely chosen to be one as they did from all eternity, then we also would have been fully divine from all eternity. The difference is merely in the choices we have made, not in the kind of things or beings that we are.

    You are here defining divinity as “being one from all eternity” But you say we chose not to be at one from all eternity. Since they were at one from all eternity, there was not a time when they were not at one, except for the time perhaps that they took on bodies and were not at one (which of course raises the question of why did they take upon them bodies, which are essential to exaltation, and thus goes back to my prior statement that divinity does not equal exaltation in my comments with Mark D. above.) Were we also at one from eternity, but later chose not to be at one, and thus lost our fullness of divinity? As I see it, if you can make the claim that we had the ability to be at one then either the Godhead had a moment whether they became at one (As Truman G. Madsen asserts Joseph Taught) or we were all at one but some of us chose to not be at one. If so, then what is the difference between our choice to not be at one and Christ’s choice to not be at one? Intent?

    Comment by Matt W. — August 31, 2009 @ 9:47 am

  91. Blake,

    I’ve always had a difficult time deciding how encompassing Joseph meant the comment, “[Jesus] only did what he had seen the Father do” to be.

    I’ve heard people take it to mean anything from the Father was also a Savior for his fathers children, to what Blake proposition that it merely means that Jesus like the Father was fully God before leaving the the unity of the Godhead to experience earth life for himself, and then is able to take his life up again.

    I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on how far you think it should be taken that Jesus did only what he saw the father do.

    thanks

    Comment by Riley — August 31, 2009 @ 9:55 am

  92. Blake 89:

    We cross posted.

    Since Heavenly Father had a Father, and clean cut has you arguing that this points to his Christology, and Jesus ‘ Father was Heavenly Father, then there is a Heavenly Grandpa, after all? This point elludes me.

    Matt, I make a distinction between potentially divine and being fully divine. We are all divine now in the sense that we have all the capacities, when in a relationship of indwelling unity, to be fully divine. To be fully divine (what the scriptures call having a “fullness”) is to share fully in the glory, knowledge, power and presence to all things that the Father, Son and Holy Ghost share. We have been invited into this unity. However, at present we don’t realize this potential. We are alienated from God. It doesn’t make us a different species any more than a caterpillar is a different species than a butterfly or an oak seed is different in species from an oak tree. Or perhaps better, we are already of the divine species in a way analogous to the potential that oxygen has to be water — it can create water but only when in an appropriate relationship with hydrogen. We are divine but only when in an appropriate relationship with the divine persons.

    First of, this sounds basically like Mark D. ‘s divine concert, just limited to the trinity and our potential, and ignoring the possibility of other prior attainments of membership therein. Second of all, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are progressing in glory, power, knowledge and presence (here on GPKP). Is it reasonable to say they now have more GPKP than they did a million years ago? I am assuming your answer is yes, as from my readings I see you as agreeing with England that God progresses. If that is the case, can this Divine Godhead go back far enough in their progression to not be omnipotent, omniscience (and not in the classical sense, but in the David Paulson power to save sense?)

    Comment by Matt W. — August 31, 2009 @ 10:00 am

  93. Matt: First, I believe that you make a few assumptions that I would question. Possession of a physical (mortal or exalted) body is not essential to be fully divine. Christ and the Holy Ghost are both instances showing that rather definitively.

    Second, you adopt the false dichotomy that: “then either the Godhead had a moment whether they became at one or we were all at one but some of us chose to not be at one. If so, then what is the difference between our choice to not be at one and Christ’s choice to not be at one? Intent?

    First, there is no first moment at which the members of the Godhead had to choose to be at one even if they freely chose it — they could have made that choice in each moment from all eternity. Apparently, they did (except when the Father and Christ gave up premortal glory to become mortal).

    Further, it doesn’t follow that we were once at one and then some chose not to be at one. We have not chosen in each moment of eternity to be at one. We had the opportunity to do so, we just didn’t. The difference in our choices is the difference in all free choices. We made a different choice and there is nothing outside of our wills that fully explains why we made the choices we did.

    Finally, it seems far more reliable to look at the totality of Joseph Smith’s thought and to place his latest statements in relation to his earlier ones than to look at how others interpreted him. I look primarily to his revelations which of course state very clearly that God as God from all eternity and that he has neither beginning nor end.

    Comment by Blake — August 31, 2009 @ 10:06 am

  94. First, I believe that you make a few assumptions that I would question. Possession of a physical (mortal or exalted) body is not essential to be fully divine. Christ and the Holy Ghost are both instances showing that rather definitively.

    I do not make this assumption. I assume exaltation and divinity are two different things. Where do you think I made this assumption?

    First, there is no first moment at which the members of the Godhead had to choose to be at one even if they freely chose it — they could have made that choice in each moment from all eternity. Apparently, they did (except when the Father and Christ gave up premortal glory to become mortal).

    Further, it doesn’t follow that we were once at one and then some chose not to be at one. We have not chosen in each moment of eternity to be at one. We had the opportunity to do so, we just didn’t. The difference in our choices is the difference in all free choices. We made a different choice and there is nothing outside of our wills that fully explains why we made the choices we did.

    I think this assumes some sort of form of infinite eternity which I do not understand. Maybe it is the “from eternity” part that is the problem.

    You have:

    1. God and Jesus always being in indwelling unity by choice. This is full divinity.
    2. Blake and Matt always not being in indwelling unity by choice. This is potential divinity.
    3. So if Blake and Matt began to be in indwelling unity, they would be fully divine?

    If so, Mark D. agrees with you.

    Finally, looking at the totality of Joseph’s thoughts does not bring about a single coherent theology without us being forced to accept that Joseph did change his mind, receive revelations which were over-ridden by later revelations, and did speculate from time to time. See one example here.

    Comment by Matt W. — August 31, 2009 @ 10:17 am

  95. If so, Mark D. agrees with you.

    To be clear, I don’t think anything resembling what we now call a fulness of divinity is possible without the purposeful spiritual union and co-operation of an extraordinary large (hundreds of millions) of individuals.

    Our Heavenly Father may have been the most kind and noble person from all eternity, but I claim that he did not achieve recognizably divine glory apart from the virtual exaltation of a large number of others, whether as founder, leader, or follower.

    Comment by Mark D. — August 31, 2009 @ 11:34 am

  96. If So, excluding scale, Mark D. agrees with you…

    Comment by Matt W. — August 31, 2009 @ 11:46 am

  97. Countdown to creeds … t-minus 100 years and counting … 99 … 98 …97 …

    “I look primarily to his revelations which of course state very clearly that God as God from all eternity and that he has neither beginning nor end.”

    Except that this isn’t what the word “eternal” generally means in the scriptures when applied to individual beings or things. ~

    Comment by Thomas Parkin — August 31, 2009 @ 12:36 pm

  98. Matt: I disagree with Mark. I think it only takes 2 and 3 is better because then 2 can remain in unity while a third experiences mortality. However, you are right, except for the requirement of millions in unity, I agree with Mark that a fullness of divinity is emergent from a relationship of indwelling love.

    Comment by Blake — August 31, 2009 @ 12:50 pm

  99. Thomas: “Except that this isn’t what the word “eternal” generally means in the scriptures when applied to individual beings or things.”

    Well, it is what it means in the English scriptures — eternal means eternal. Without beginning means there isn’t a beginning. Do you want citations?

    I agree that the Hebrew and Greek terms are more malleable.

    Comment by Blake — August 31, 2009 @ 12:51 pm

  100. Blake,

    I explained in #71.

    As far as I can tell, in almost all references to things ‘eternal’ the thing referred to can be shown to have had a beginning _as an eternal thing_. ~

    Comment by Thomas Parkin — August 31, 2009 @ 12:57 pm

  101. Blake 98- If I am right, then it is reasonably possible to say that it is not necessarily a requirement that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ have been in indwelling unity for infinity. It is reasonably possible thus to say that there was a point were God came to be God. And finally it is reasonably possible to say it doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things whether or not there was a time before God came to be God, because such a change doesn’t really alter the paradigm of divinity being indwelling unity. Fair enough?

    Comment by Matt W. — August 31, 2009 @ 12:58 pm

  102. Matt,

    It seems to me that the main reason why these discussions are important,- and not just delightful noodling,- is that on one side we have some very good bright folks positing a God that in his history and destiny is at a permanent remove from us. As Clean Cut said on his blog ‘There is a difference between exalted beings and the Exalted One.’ This greatly alters the way we view not only God, but ourselves and our relationship to him. Our own divine childhood either becomes or approaches metaphor. We begin to lose our grasp on the idea of literal Heavenly Father, a Man of Holiness who dwells in yonder heavens. And we draw closer and closer to a God that being permanently removed is therefore potentially incomprehensible to us.

    How very very interesting to me that Joseph dropped these final bits in the days before he was killed. A final and very important thing for us to chew on, but trailing off into who knows what. We shouldn’t be arguing about it, we should be following Joseph’s example of seeking to know first hand. ~

    Comment by Thomas Parkin — August 31, 2009 @ 1:19 pm

  103. Thomas- Blake and Clean Cut have both clearly said there is no ontological gap. I am going to give Clean Cut the benefit of the doubt and say that the difference he is speaking of may be one of two different things.

    1. God is progressing at maximal efficiency, as we will also be, and while he is of the same kind as we are, will always be ahead of us.

    or

    2. the EXALTED ONE is the Godhead and not any individual therein.

    3. the EXALTED ONE is titular. Like in the Group of my children there are lots of people but only one Father.

    Comment by Matt W. — August 31, 2009 @ 1:34 pm

  104. Thomas, in saying that “there is a difference between exalted beings and the Exalted One we worship”, I’m not arguing an ontological difference. This is a difference in identity. For example, Jesus Christ is the Anointed One, the Savior and Redeemer, etc, and I worship Him for it. But I’m not saying that he is ontologically a different species that I cannot really relate to. We all have differences–even you and me–but that doesn’t put us on different ontological tracks. That’s why I don’t really buy the “two-track model”. I don’t believe there are different tracks at all. Just different roles/identities. God is God. I am not. Jesus is the Savior. I am not. Nor do I believe I’ll need another mortal probation in which I become a Savior. I don’t feel the need to be God in order to truly be exalted/share in His quality of life/be a god (with a lowercase g)/or be one with God. I’m completely content with sharing in a relationship of love and oneness and godhood with the Godhead without the assumption that it would thereby make me a part of another Godhead to other planets. I don’t even want to be a bishop.

    Comment by Clean Cut — August 31, 2009 @ 2:06 pm

  105. Matt,

    Clean Cut and I have been through it, and as far as I can tell none of your statements express his view. He is more than capable of speaking for himself, and I hope he will. I like him immensely. I don’t see how one can maintain a position that God has always been exactly as He is without creating a gap. I think one might apologize for it, and try to wiggle out of it, but I don’t think one can finally escape the fact that a being that has forever been unchangeable is, in a very significant way, not what we are. ~

    Comment by Thomas Parkin — August 31, 2009 @ 2:09 pm

  106. “I don’t even want to be a bishop.”

    Snort.

    Thanks for weighing in. ~

    Comment by Thomas Parkin — August 31, 2009 @ 2:12 pm

  107. Thomas: “a being that has forever been unchangeable”

    It depends on what senses God is unchangeable. I suppose that even you would agree that God’s personal identity is unchangeable. The Father has always been the individual that he is — don’t you agree? I fail to see how that entails that I couldn’t be the same kind of being that the Father is merely because he is unchanging from all eternity in this respect.

    That we are all capable of being exalted or being deified never changes either. Yet the fact that we are unchangeable in this respect doesn’t entail that I must be a different kind from the Father.

    Whether we are in fact fully divine changes for all of us, on all of our views, if God once became mortal. The fact that we change in this respect doesn’t entail that we are different kinds either.

    Comment by Blake — August 31, 2009 @ 2:25 pm

  108. Clean Cut- Re 104 I would say that is some sort of combination of being titular and individuality, which I hadn’t proposed.

    Blake 107- I agree except I have no idea what you mean by “Whether we are in fact fully divine changes for all of us, on all of our views, if God once became mortal.”

    Comment by Matt W. — August 31, 2009 @ 2:34 pm

  109. Matt: “have no idea what you mean by “Whether we are in fact fully divine changes for all of us, on all of our views, if God once became mortal.”

    Matt, I mean that when Christ became mortal he wasn’t fully divine. According to John 17 he was seeking to have his premortal glory that he enjoyed with the Father before the world was to be restored to him. We aren’t fully divine either — although we are potentially divine. I would say we are of the divine species, but divinity is realized not as a matter of natural growth but as a matter of choosing to love. The Father and Son and Holy Ghost have always chosen to love. We haven’t — and that is the difference that makes all of the difference.

    Comment by Blake — August 31, 2009 @ 2:44 pm

  110. The Father and Son and Holy Ghost have always chosen to love. We haven’t — and that is the difference that makes all of the difference.

    There’s that problematic “always” again. And I thought we’d made so much progress.

    Comment by Matt W. — August 31, 2009 @ 3:08 pm

  111. Returning to #96

    If So, excluding scale and your insistence on the perpetuity of the Godhead, Mark D. agrees with you…

    Comment by Matt W. — August 31, 2009 @ 3:12 pm

  112. Why is “always” problematic? If it is logically possible that the F,S & HG choose to love each other in each moment of existence, then it is logically possible that they have chosen to love each other in every moment of existence. Or do you somehow think that logic is problematic?

    Comment by Blake — August 31, 2009 @ 3:39 pm

  113. Blake,

    I suppose how many things we must have in common in order to say we are the same kind of being. I am like my father, in this life, because, among other things, we share a common history and constellation of potential destinies. It is possible to posit a God similar to us who doesn’t share our history, and is in some way forever beyond our destiny. (Not something I’ve seen you say, but something Clean Cut says). It is possible to say that we can still relate to such a being and he to us, share similarities, etc. and even experience a kind of metaphorical child to father relationship. But I think you’ve deeply underestimated the difference in kind that this represents. We begin as some point of intelligence, he begins as everything he has ever been or will be. That is a difference in kind. We are all one thing, He is another. A dog begins as a dog and goes through everything a dog goes through, and if it begins as a monkey, it was never a dog. ~

    Comment by Thomas Parkin — August 31, 2009 @ 4:15 pm

  114. “A dog begins as a dog and goes through everything a dog goes through, and if it begins as a monkey, it was never a dog. ”

    That leads me to this thought. I suppose you could say there is some essential dogness fully possessed by an Eternal Dog, and that the the actual experience of a dog in unnecessary to drawing a similarity of kind. But I would continue to assert that the Eternal Dog, not having shared the experience of the dog, is of a different kind, the gap is too large to say they are the same. The fact that Eternal Dog may understand the experience of the dog without having been through it makes them even less rather than more similar. ~

    Comment by Thomas Parkin — August 31, 2009 @ 4:22 pm

  115. “I don’t feel the need to be God in order to truly be exalted/share in His quality of life/be a god (with a lowercase g)/or be one with God. I’m completely content with sharing in a relationship of love and oneness and godhood with the Godhead without the assumption that it would thereby make me a part of another Godhead to other planets.”

    Clean Cut,

    I don’t feel the need to be a rock star, but that doesn’t say anything about whether or not I have the potential to be one. If I choose to believe that I could never be one, it may, however, say something about how I view myself and rock stars.

    I’m with you in that I feel no need to be worshiped. Thing is, I don’t believe Heavenly Father feels any need to be worshiped, either. He wants us to worship Him not because he has a narcissistic need (as you’ve recently said so well), but because He knows that it is through that worship that we reach our highest, fullest, deepest, most complete expression of life. Right – a life of such dimension that it is called “eternal life.” ~

    Comment by Thomas Parkin — August 31, 2009 @ 4:34 pm

  116. Right, Thomas. But just to be clear, I haven’t definitively taken a position that rules out “possibilities”, but rather I try to focus on what is actually more plausible (as opposed to simply that which is possible)–as well as what jives best with the Standard Works. Possibilities and potentialities I don’t necessarily want to rule out. I just personally prefer a more rigorous focus on what is more plausible based on the context we have been given, rather than possibilities that require adding/inventing additional doctrinal frameworks.

    I recognize that Mormonism has some wide and divergent interpretations that have not been set forth as “official doctrine”. But again, instead of only focussing on the possibilities, perhaps we should step back and think about what is more likely.

    Having said that, I think you’re argument in 114 about the Eternal Dog not sharing in the dog experience might actually work well with a traditional/creedal Christian. However, we Latter-day Saints have Joseph Smith teaching us that God the Father, like Jesus Christ, has been through a mortal experience too. Therefore, He/They can relate to us and our mortal experience far better than the mystical spiritual essence Trinitarians call God.

    Comment by Clean Cut — August 31, 2009 @ 6:22 pm

  117. Clean Cut, please remember when you say plausible, you mean what is most plausible to you. Neither Mark, Nor Thomas, nor Blake nor Anyone else here are suggest things which they find unplausible. We are all reasonable people, and I’d dare say we are all fairly good at pulling up some good stuff. I’d dare say we all find our own opinions plausible.

    Comment by matt w. — August 31, 2009 @ 7:03 pm

  118. Thomas: “But I think you’ve deeply underestimated the difference in kind that this represents. We begin as some point of intelligence, he begins as everything he has ever been or will be. That is a difference in kind.”

    Here’s why this statement isn’t persuasive. It is just false that God begins. It is false that we begin. That is the entire point of eternal intelligences — there is no beginning. So your mode of thinking begins with an ontological category mistake.

    Second, God began as an intelligence just as we do and it isn’t true on my view that as an intelligence God is everything he will ever be. Indeed, even now on my view God is not everything he will be. God is never everything he will be because he is always self-surpassing. So that is your second false assumption and another ontological category mistake.

    Comment by Blake — August 31, 2009 @ 7:17 pm

  119. Blake,

    Thanks. I guess I’ll have to buy the book, because it is clear that I have misunderstood you.

    Things do begin, though. This life began, the next life begins. Eternal life begins. Eternal marriage begins. God began to be a God and was not always so. He began to love in the way that He now does.

    Gonna check out – can’t afford tomorrow to be thinking about this as much tomorrow as I was today.

    All this motivated me to go to the temple this afternoon. I got all dressed to go and relieved at the thought of being there. Then I arrived … Monday!! d’oh! (I understand there are doing morning sessions in SLC on Mondays.) ~

    Comment by Thomas Parkin — August 31, 2009 @ 7:36 pm

  120. Clean Cut –

    As I’m sure you’re aware by now (*smirk*), I don’t agree that your views are most in agreement with the standard works, with the teachings of Joseph, or with the main current of Mormon thought, with the hints revealed to Apostles and Prophets, for most of the last 170 years, or so.

    Cool, brutha. :) ~

    Comment by Thomas Parkin — August 31, 2009 @ 7:40 pm

  121. Thomas: Eternal life begins.

    Joseph Smith disagrees with you on this one. He says spirits have no beginninging or end.

    Comment by Geoff J — August 31, 2009 @ 8:39 pm

  122. I suspect Thomas P. is using a different (and rather more common) sense of the term “eternal life”.

    Comment by Mark D. — August 31, 2009 @ 8:59 pm

  123. Why is “always” problematic?

    I would say that “always” is problematic because the probability of the condition obtaining for a being with free will for an infinite amount of time suggests a difference not only in degree, but in kind.

    Of course my standard objection is how is it that the universe managed to endow just a small handful of individuals with such exquisite perfection while all the rest have to proceed from grace to grace.

    Granting that the universe doesn’t care either way, the a priori probability of such radical exceptions seems to border on infinitesimal. Not to deny the possibility that all of divine history may revolve around such an accident, I prefer soteriological theories that don’t condemn us to eternal damnation if such a peculiar state does not obtain from the very beginning (lim t -> -inf).

    Comment by Mark D. — August 31, 2009 @ 9:16 pm

  124. Mark: the probability that any given atom is at any given place in the universe is so infinitesimally small that you can be sure that no atom is ever in any given place in the place universe. I’ll assume that you can spot the logical fallacy in your argument without me spelling it out.

    You’re going to have to show some logical problem. Probabilities are meaningless in such considerations. Further, the probability that we will all make different choices and be at different places in our progression is so infinitesimally high that you can be sure it will obtain.

    Comment by Blake — August 31, 2009 @ 9:26 pm

  125. the probability that any given atom is at any given place in the universe is so infinitesimally small that you can be sure that no atom is ever in any given place in the place universe.

    That is such a sloppy analogy that you ought to be embarrassed by it. “sure”? The equivocation on “any given place”?

    A more reasonable analogy is the proposition that there exists an atom with such enormous self control that it can remain within 1 micron of its initial position no matter what storms pass through the neighborhood, while virtually every other atom in existence gets swept for miles under similar circumstances.

    Comment by Mark D. — August 31, 2009 @ 10:20 pm

  126. Now, suppose that there is such an atom that at present has capacity x, where x indicates the variation in position the atom can maintain when a standard storm is applied.

    But the proposition here is “always”. Always what? Always zero? On the contrary, eternal progression implies progress. Always zero implies there has been no progress and never will be.

    Comment by Mark D. — August 31, 2009 @ 10:30 pm

  127. Blake:
    Always is problematic to me for 5 reasons.

    1st- You already said Jesus was not fully divine when he went to get his Mortal Body, and you said Heavenly Father was not fully divine when he went to get his Body. Thus they were not always fully divine. You may be able to say almost always, but you can not say always.

    2nd- We are taught that having a body is an important part of coming to this life, and is essential to exaltation. We are taught exaltation is essential for our become fully divine. We are taught that our Father is like us.

    3rd- I know I’ve said this before, but there is a difference between deciding to continue in indwelling unity and deciding to begin indwelling unity. While you could say that Jesus and Heavenly Father, in their mortal probations had to choose indwelling unity at that time, that begs the question of whether there were others in that indwelling unity who left it and did not choose to continue, which puts us back to either some variation of Mark D.’s account, or even some variation of Gnosticism.

    4th- It does not account for Heavenly Mother.

    5th- I am not sure why always is in anyway essential to your theology. Why must it be always? What are the consequences if it is not always?

    Comment by Matt W. — September 1, 2009 @ 6:26 am

  128. Regarding 117–Duly noted. :)

    Comment by Clean Cut — September 1, 2009 @ 7:48 am

  129. Regarding 120–Thomas, do you mind summarizing what those errant views of mine are?

    Comment by Clean Cut — September 1, 2009 @ 7:51 am

  130. Mark: I’m just not sure what you’re proposing here. Are you asserting that God must be incapable of sinning and not free? Are you suggesting that the likelihood of always choosing love is so low that it is logically impossible? Are you suggesting that the notion that God could come to a point where he always chooses love after a beginningless eternity of having failed to do so is more likely than a God who always chooses love in each moment? All seem extremely nonsensical to me.

    You appear not to get that you cannot apply probability judgments to such things as whether a free person will always choose a certain thing. You cannot apply probability the way you have no non-frequential instances. Further, what is the alternatives? it seems to me that you are stuck with the view that either: (a) God is essentially good and thus unable to freely sin; or (b) God (including God the Son) has been a sinner for eternity until some day when he became God. Which do you adopt?

    Matt: re: 1st. The divine persons are always divine (like we are). Even the choice to become mortal is a manifestation of love for us. No, the Son wasn’t always fully divine because he lacked the fullness of divine glory while mortal — but how is that inconsistent with anything I have said?

    re: 2nd I just don’t get what you could possibly be talking about. Are you suggesting that God cannot have been exalted until he had a body? How do you square that with the fact that the Son and Holy Ghost were fully divine before having a body?

    3rd — do you have even a smidgen of scriptural support for such an assertion of original unity except for F, S & HG? Who gives a crap about gnosticism?

    re: 5th — do you know something about Heavenly Mother that I don’t know? I suggest that we know squat about a heavenly mother.

    re: 5th — it is essential because: (1) it is consistent in all books that we accept as scriptural; (2) it was taught by Joseph Smith; (3) any other view leaves us with a mere demigod unworthy of worship.

    Comment by Blake — September 1, 2009 @ 8:37 am

  131. Blake:

    1st- You said we are always divine, but not always fully divine because full divinity entails choosing to live in indwelling unity with the Godhead. You then equating choosing indwelling unity to always choosing love. I may be conflating the two. If I am, I am sorry, just tell me and I’ll shut up and agree.

    Comment by Matt W. — September 1, 2009 @ 9:34 am

  132. How about this Matt: the divine persons have always been fully divine except when freely choosing to empty themselves of such fullness in order to achieve a redemptive mission chosen out of the very love that unites the divine person. However, they insure that at least two always remain in the fullness of divine unity so that they can govern the universe. That appears to me to be a statement of ALWAYS choosing love.

    More technically, for all times t a divine person is fully divine except during a freely chosen interval, t1 to t2, during which the divine person experiences mortality.

    Comment by Blake — September 1, 2009 @ 11:08 am

  133. Ok, I think I owe you a better response to 130

    re: 1st. The divine persons are always divine (like we are). Even the choice to become mortal is a manifestation of love for us. No, the Son wasn’t always fully divine because he lacked the fullness of divine glory while mortal — but how is that inconsistent with anything I have said?

    Ok, why are the Father and Son always in Unity and we are not in unity? And you can’t just say because we don’t choose to be. Why don’t we choose to be? Why does unity equate to divinity anyway? If two other of the infinite beings in the infinite space were in unity would they be able to be fully divine outside of the God head?

    re: 2nd I just don’t get what you could possibly be talking about. Are you suggesting that God cannot have been exalted until he had a body? How do you square that with the fact that the Son and Holy Ghost were fully divine before having a body?

    Joseph explicitly taught exaltation for men required having a body. Joseph explicitly taught God was a man like us. Thus God requires a body to be exalted. I am not suggesting it, Joseph Smith explicitly stated it. There are three options for the “squaring of fully divine” which you asked for.

    1. full divinity (as opposed to partial divinity) is not found anywhere in the scriptures, and thus doesn’t really exist.
    2. Jesus and the Holy Ghost may have been divine prior to having exalted bodies via divine investiture of authority.
    3. Divinity may be something other than/lesser than being exalted.

    In any case, we are still stuck with the dichotomy that a major purpose of life is to gain a body in our theology so we can achieve exaltation/salvation/happiness (Joseph said all three)

    3rd — do you have even a smidgen of scriptural support for such an assertion of original unity except for F, S & HG? Who gives a crap about gnosticism?

    I don’t see a smidgen of support for any notion of original unity at all. What I see is Joseph saying the Godhead came to be when Heavenly Father Covenanted with the other two.

    re: 5th — do you know something about Heavenly Mother that I don’t know? I suggest that we know squat about a heavenly mother.

    Well, we know that Joseph Smith taught about her to Zina Huntington and Eliza R. Snow. We know that she is a mainstay in our culture as a church, and has been officially recognized in several 1st presidency messages. I’d say we can confidently say the church teaches there is a Heavenly Mother. I think that is enough to justify my question.

    re: 5th — it is essential because: (1) it is consistent in all books that we accept as scriptural; (2) it was taught by Joseph Smith; (3) any other view leaves us with a mere demigod unworthy of worship.

    1. I don’t think you can support this claim. I see no scriptures on the topic of perpetuity of the Godhead as a whole at all. Joseph Smith said:

    An Everlasting covenant was made between three personages before the organization of this earth and relates to their dispensation of things to men on the earth. These personages according to Abraham’s record are called God the first, the Creator; God the second, the Redeemer; and God the third, the Witness or Testator [Extracts from Wm Clayton’s Private Book, 10-11, Nuttall collection, BYU Library].

    This implies a beginning.

    Finally, demigods don’t exist within our theology.

    Comment by Matt W. — September 1, 2009 @ 8:38 pm

  134. Clean Cut,

    I don’t know that I want to do that. I think I’m done with that for now. In a general way – I believe that God is the exact same kind of being we are, without need for qualification, that we share with Him a history and that His current state of being / kind of life is, without compromise or any hedging, our identical potential destiny. We will create and populate worlds for the good of emergent intelligence / spirits, because that is what Gods, out of their perfect love, do – among other things that I’m sure make up a quality of life so boundless it is called ‘eternal life’. We will have been lifted through God’s grace and our covenant partnership with Him to be his _equal_ in all things. All that He has will be ours (and all that is ours will be His). As it says in the PoGP, those who keep their second estate will have glory added upon their heads forever and ever. I feel no christian anxiety about these doctrines. It is through Christ, who thought it not robbery to be _equal_ with God, that we are joint heirs of the Father’s Kingdom.

    But here is the thing – I want to disagree with you less, on this subject and everything else, and have a stronger tendency to find areas of commonality – which, between you and I, I think will be most things of the most immediate importance. I hope that doesn’t disappoint you – maybe at some point in the future when we are face to face we can discuss it at greater length. My experience is that seemingly incompatible positions are often not quite as incompatible as they seem when we get a more complete view. I’m today too convinced that we are decent men trying to know, and that we will seek in the right ways, and will eventually come to see eye to eye on these things.

    I’m not saying there is anything wrong about this kind of discussion. I think it has been enlightening – not to mention fun. I just feel a personal need to repent of some of the ways I go about these discussions. I hope to not just get along and agree to disagree, but to be a true friend to y’all, my brothers.

    Blake – on what “we know” about Heavenly Mother. I don’t like the term “we know” because knowledge is an individual matter. We teach next to nothing about her, that is true. It is impossible to know what another person might know. It seems to me that if someone does know something, based on Alma 12.9, they won’t be talking. May I say that at one point God revealed something to me about Heavenly Mother in an unmistakable fashion. Something deeply meaningful to me, something the bears on my life in a profound way. I may never find a place to share it. Because my revelations are not binding on anyone but me, and it would likely be close to meaningless to anyone but me – since other people are approaching Christ from where they are, and therefore have a different learning track. Besides, obviously, starting to declare personal revelations would be a total non-starter in this environment!! :) I’m just saying it is possible for individuals to know things that are not taught in Sunday School – I’m positive you’ll agree.

    Finally, I found this reading the JS Papers at my dad’s a couple weeks back. I knew I had read it before, so looked in my Teachings of Joseph Smith, and sure enough, there it was. I’m not posting this to thread jack, nor to make a comment on this discussions on this or any other blog (which I think are both beneficial and fun), only that it has given me personally some pause and to see that _I need_ to approach things in a somewhat different way.

    “we found that some of the young Elders, were about engaging in a debate, upon the subject of miracles, the q[u]estion was this; was or was it not the design of Christ to Establish his gospel by miracles.

    After an interesting debate of three hours or more, during which time much talent was displayed, it was decided by the presidents of the debate in the negative; which was a righteous decision I discovered in this debate, much warmth displayed, to much zeal for mastery, to much of that enthusiasm that characterizes a lawyer at the bar, who is determined to defend his cause right or wrong. I therefore availed myself of this favorable opportunity, to drop a few words upon this subject by way of advise, that they might improve their minds and cultivate their powers of intellect in a proper manner, that they might not incur the displeasure of heaven, that they should handle sacred things very sacredly, and with due deference to the opinions of others and with an eye single to the glory of God.”

    Well, I’m sometimes a little too flip, a little too authoritarian in making pronouncements, and do not give due deference. I also argue to win instead of discuss in hopes of acquiring truth. I hope to keep getting better about these things.

    Coolness. ~

    Comment by Thomas Parkin — September 1, 2009 @ 11:46 pm

  135. Matt: “Ok, why are the Father and Son always in Unity and we are not in unity? And you can’t just say because we don’t choose to be. Why don’t we choose to be?”

    Yes, I can say that because it is the answer. Your question, “why don’t we choose to be” looks for some outside explanation as to why agent freely choose. If there were such a sufficient explanation outside the agent’s, the agent wouldn’t be free. So your question makes assumptions I reject. However, there is an answer that isn’t a sufficient explanation — we choose not to be out of ignorance and self-defeating stupidity. Why does anyone choose sin when not sinning would make them so much happier? I have discussed the nature of choosing alienation to protect our vulnerable hearts in the 2nd vol. and it is quite adequate to explain why we choose to be alienated.

    Matt: Why does unity equate to divinity anyway?”

    For the same reason sin leads to misery — it is our nature and a natural consequence of what we choose. It is our nature to manifest divinity when we share unity. However, it is not just any kind of unity, it is the glorifying unity of accepting the life, glory, intelligence, spirit and light of God into our being to make us over in his image. It is the a different kind of unity than merely having the same goal to win a football game. It is a sharing of divine glory imparted to us from the Father thru the Son that literally remakes our lives new as a shared life lived in complete transparence.

    Matt: “If two other of the infinite beings in the infinite space were in unity would they be able to be fully divine outside of the God head?”

    I have no idea what you mean by “infinite beings.” It is unity with the Father, Son and Holy Ghost that is deifying. We must be what they are. Go read about it in Lectures 5 and 7 of the Lectures on Faith.

    Comment by Blake — September 2, 2009 @ 9:14 am

  136. Matt: “There are three options for the “squaring of fully divine” which you asked for: 1. full divinity (as opposed to partial divinity) is not found anywhere in the scriptures, and thus doesn’t really exist.
    2. Jesus and the Holy Ghost may have been divine prior to having exalted bodies via divine investiture of authority.
    3. Divinity may be something other than/lesser than being exalted.”

    None of these options are remotely plausible. Christ and the Holy Ghost were fully divine before having a mortal body of any sort. As to your first point, by fully divine I mean merely that they manifest all the essential attributes of divinity. Our scriptures make a distinction between having a fullness of glory and merely having the potential to receive such glory. According to John 17, Phil 2 and D&C 93, Christ enjoyed a fullness of glory with the Father before the world was. However, he emptied himself of this fullness of glory so that he could learn from the things that he suffered. However, he regained this fullness from the Father when he was granted the unity which he prayed for — and he prayed for the disciples to have the same oneness and glory that he had with the Father before his birth.

    What this shows is that becoming mortal and receiving a body is not necessary to possess a fullness of glory. The notion that such glory can simply be bestowed at God’s will by divine investiture misunderstands divine investiture. God can authorize others to act as his agent and act in his name. He cannot simply bestow divine glory on another who isn’t capable of receiving it. According to scripture, those who sin cannot receive such glory and in fact can’t even be in God’s presence.

    In your view, a person who doesn’t have a body isn’t capable of being divine — so how could God just make such a person divine by investiture? After all, investiture is a principal of agency, not of transformation and glorification.

    With respect to your 3rd point, I parse divinity into potential and full divinity. A person that is capable of freely choosing to receive the divine glory when it is imparted is potentially divine, and a person who freely chooses to accept divine glory receives that glory to the degree one is willing to accept it. The Son and Holy Ghost have freely chosen to accept the glory in its fullness in each moment of their eternal existence. We have not.

    So I accept that there is a difference between merely being divine (potentially) and being fully divine. But that doesn’t solve the problem for you. You maintain that a person must have a resurrected mortal body to be exalted or fully divine like Christ and the Holy Ghost are. However, your position is demonstrated as false because the Son and Spirit are fully divine without having first obtained a resurrected mortal body.

    Comment by Blake — September 2, 2009 @ 9:32 am

  137. Matt: “I don’t see a smidgen of support for any notion of original unity at all. What I see is Joseph saying the Godhead came to be when Heavenly Father Covenanted with the other two.”

    I agree that there is nothing to support your view of original unity of all intelligences from which we later fell. Further, Joseph doesn’t quite say what you say he does. He says that the covenant is “everlasting”. The F, S & HG have always existed. I take it that Joseph was saying that in each moment of their eternal existence, they have had this covenant of love: “An Everlasting covenant was made between three personages before the organization of this earth and relates to their dispensation of things to men on the earth. These personages according to Abraham’s record are called God the first, the Creator; God the second, the Redeemer; and God the third, the Witness or Testator” [Extracts from Wm Clayton’s Private Book, 10-11, Nuttall collection, BYU Library].

    Thus, the F, S & HG covenanted before this world in an everlasting covenant. I take “everlasting” to mean a covenant that obtains at all times without beginning or end. In contrast, you assume a kind of temporal beginning where there is a first moment that they entered into covenant, I don’t believe Joseph’s statement supports that assumption.

    The LDS scriptures repeatedly assert that “God” is eternally “God.” In particular they assert that the three divine persons are eternally one God. Consider the various ways in which the eternity of God is affirmed in LDS scripture:

    “Father, Son and Holy Ghost are one God, infinite and eternal, without end.” (D&C 20:27; cf., Mosiah 15:2-5; Alma 11:44; Ether 12:41)

    .. . the true doctrine of Christ, and the only true doctrine of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Ghost, which is one God, without end. (2 Ne. 31:21)

    … which Father, Son and Holy Ghost are one God; infinite and eternal, without end. (D&C 20:28)

    … And the Father and I are one. I am in the Father and the Father in me; and inasmuch as ye have received me, ye are in me and I in you. (D&C 50:43)

    Behold, I am Jesus Christ the Son of God, I created the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are. I was with the Father from the beginning. I am in the Father, and the Father in me; and in me hath the Father glorified his name. (3 Ne. 9:15)

    … The Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost are one; and I am in the Father, and the Father in me, and the Father and I are one. (3 Ne. 11:27)

    … for the Father, and I, and the Holy Ghost are one (3 Ne. 11:36)

    … unto the Father, and unto the Son, and unto the Holy Ghost, which are one God… (Mormon 7:7)

    “Behold, I am the Lord God Almighty, and Endless is my name; for I am without beginning of days or end of years; and is not this endless?” (Moses :3-5)

    “By these things we know that there is a God in heaven who is infinite and eternal, from everlasting to everlasting the same unchangeable God, the framer of heaven and earth.” (D&C 20:17)

    “For we know that God is not a partial God, neither a changeable being; but he is unchangeable from all eternity to all eternity.” (Moroni 8:18)

    Taken together, the most obvious reading of these scriptural statements is that God the Father has been a divine person from all eternity without beginning. These scriptures also firmly support that the F, S & HG are one without beginning.

    There is of course a question about how broadly we should take the scope of the word “eternal” in Mormon scripture in general and in Hebrew and Greek scriptures in particular. The word “eternal” could mean something like the Hebrew (’olam) or the Greek (aionios), both of which are translated as “eternal” but can mean an unmeasured span of time like the English “aeon.” However, Joseph Smith himself stated fairly clearly that when he spoke of God as eternal, he meant that God had no beginning – and he made these statements during the Nauvoo period (roughly 1839-44). In a January 1841 sermon, Joseph Smith gave a key to understanding the scriptures: “A key, every principle proceeding from God is eternal, and any principle which is not eternal is of the Devil.” On 5 February 1840, Joseph Smith stated: “I believe that God is eternal. That He had no beginning, and can have no end. Eternity means that which is without beginning or end.” On another occasion in 1840, Joseph Smith stated: “the priesthood is as eternal as God Himself, having neither beginning of days nor end of life.” Joseph Smith’s statements also show that the view that God is eternally divine is not an early view that he later superceded – though as we shall see he did develop a nuanced view of God’s eternity.

    I take it that my list of scriptures will put to rest your assertion that: “I see no scriptures on the topic of perpetuity of the Godhead as a whole at all.”

    Comment by Blake — September 2, 2009 @ 10:05 am

  138. Matt: “Well, we know that Joseph Smith taught about {the Mother in Heaven} to Zina Huntington and Eliza R. Snow. We know that she is a mainstay in our culture as a church, and has been officially recognized in several 1st presidency messages. I’d say we can confidently say the church teaches there is a Heavenly Mother. I think that is enough to justify my question.”

    We know nothing of the sort. Huntington’s claim is very late and, in my view, quite untrustworthy. I believe that she is conflating later teachings with claims about what JS taught. I don’t believe there is any good source to support that JS taught the doctrine to Snow. In any event, Snow later equated the mother in heaven with Eve in the context of the Adam God doctrine. Probably not a very reliable source.

    And yes, we have 1st pres. support for the doctrine of a mother in heaven. However, we have no revelation or scripture — so it has the same status as the 1st pres. position on blacks not receiving the priesthood in my book. It is a cultural overbelief that ought to be more carefully examined.

    Comment by Blake — September 2, 2009 @ 10:12 am

  139. Thomas: “May I say that at one point God revealed something to me about Heavenly Mother in an unmistakable fashion. Something deeply meaningful to me, something the bears on my life in a profound way. I may never find a place to share it. Because my revelations are not binding on anyone but me, and it would likely be close to meaningless to anyone but me”

    I suggest that you honor the sacred silence in which this knowledge was vouschafed to you.

    Comment by Blake — September 2, 2009 @ 10:14 am

  140. Blake #137- When Jesus says he “was with the Father from the beginning.” (3 Ne. 9:15) and that he, the Father, and the Holy Ghost are One God
    “without end.” (D&C 20:27; cf., Mosiah 15:2-5; Alma 11:44; Ether 12:41) That certainly sounds like they are uni-directionally everlasting to me, and not “without beginning”.

    I will grant you Moroni 8:18 as more challenging in regards to HF having a time when he was not all-powerful, all-divine, as he is unchanging from everlasting to everlasting, but you have this exact same problem, since you postulate the HF emptied himself for a time.

    Comment by Matt W. — September 2, 2009 @ 1:52 pm

  141. And yes, we have 1st pres. support for the doctrine of a mother in heaven. However, we have no revelation or scripture — so it has the same status as the 1st pres. position on blacks not receiving the priesthood in my book. It is a cultural overbelief that ought to be more carefully examined.

    I am uncomfortable with this statement. It translates to “The Family: A Proclamation to the the World” is not (based in) revelation and hence not doctrine.

    This disagrees with the guidelines outlined in Approaching Mormon Doctrine where it conflates the authority of ‘the four “standard works” of scripture (the Holy Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price), official declarations and proclamations, and the Articles of Faith.’

    Proclamations carry greater weight than official statements (which are still weighty of themselves – just more wiggle room) such as the black statements mentioned by Blake (examples).

    Comment by A. Davis — September 2, 2009 @ 2:24 pm

  142. Blake #136

    None of these options are remotely plausible

    Ok, that seems a little harsh, but I am not gonna hold it against you. If I didn’t want criticism, I wouldn’t keep putting myself out there.

    Regarding your response to my second point.

    they manifest all the essential attributes of divinity

    But you have said the essential attributes of divinity is unity. Now it seems like you are saying the essential attribute of divinity is sinlessness. That seems much more plausible.

    In your view, a person who doesn’t have a body isn’t capable of being divine — so how could God just make such a person divine by investiture? After all, investiture is a principal of agency, not of transformation and glorification.

    A person without a body isn’t capable of being exalted. I am still open to the idea of divinity being a separate entity than exaltation. Anyway, it isn’t the divinity that is invested, it is the authority. Thus divine investiture of authority works in the same way that priesthood works. I am not divine, but God endows me with a certain percentage of his authority to act on his behalf.

    AS for your responses to 1, where I say your parsing of divinity into potential divinity and full divinity. I say it is somewhat still incoherent in that you may prefer to label it partial and full divinity. Here you are equating divinity with glory. Glory is good, but it is not unity.

    And for your response to three. Your logic is not “remotely plausible” here. I said that it is possible that Jesus and the Holy Ghost were divine and not exalted and you responded that they were divine and thus exalted. You saying such does not make it so.

    Comment by Matt W. — September 2, 2009 @ 2:29 pm

  143. Blake #135- Infinite beings refers to quantity, as in infinite is bigger than 5.

    For the same reason sin leads to misery — it is our nature and a natural consequence of what we choose. It is our nature to manifest divinity when we share unity. However, it is not just any kind of unity, it is the glorifying unity of accepting the life, glory, intelligence, spirit and light of God into our being to make us over in his image. It is the a different kind of unity than merely having the same goal to win a football game. It is a sharing of divine glory imparted to us from the Father thru the Son that literally remakes our lives new as a shared life lived in complete transparence.

    Ok, so God chooses in each moment to accept the life, glory, intelligence, spirit and light of himself into himself so he can make himself over in his image? That is certainly different than the unity needed to win a football game. Again it is the sharing of divine glory imparted to Him from himself thru his Son that remakes His life as a shared life? Does that make my problem more apparent?

    Comment by Matt W. — September 2, 2009 @ 2:36 pm

  144. Blake #138- To say she is cultural overbelief is problematic Blake, especially if we don’t know squat in regards to her. You seem to be asserting we know so much as to deny her very existence. I’d say otherwise. While I agree with your rebuttals to Zina and Eliza, I think completely denying the possiblity of a mother in heaven is overstating the case. Being that every prophet from Brigham Young to President Hinckley has publicly mentioned her, and we hold prophets to have authority, it seems reasonable to say it is more plausible that there is a mother than not even if we know squat about her.

    Comment by Matt W. — September 2, 2009 @ 2:41 pm

  145. A. Davis: Why are proclamations (whatever they are supposed to be) granted greater weight than 1st presidency statements? I don’t believe you have any basis for saying any of the proclamations (except the 1st 2) is based on revelation. They appear to me to be nothing more than statements agreed upon by the 1st presidency and 12 — whereas the 1st and 2nd proclamations were based on revelations to Wilford Woodruff altho these proclamations don’t embody the substance of the revelation but merely a policy statements. The 1st two proclamations were placed with our scriptures and that seems to add weight to them.

    Approaching Mormon Doctrine isn’t based on revelation either and so has the same status as citing the bible to prove why one should believe the bible. Who wrote Approaching Mormon Doctrine and why should I give weight to a PR department document?

    Either way, the status of the mother in heaven is nothing more than a belief that got going without revelation and that has been accepted because no one dared disagree — same as the policy on the blacks and the priesthood. That is compounded by the fact that she is a shiboleth of popular culture who has been pushed into service for political purposes for the same reasons that adoration of Mary and worship of Isis arose (adoration of Mary is a cultural adaptation of worship of Isis by 4th century Catholics).

    Matt: Be careful. I never said that Mother in Heaven doesn’t exist. I didn’t deny her existence. It doesn’t follow from the fact that there is no public revelation about her that she doesn’t exist. Of course, we have little or no reason to accept her existence based on publically accessible revelation either.

    BY thought the MinH was Eve. I don’t think you can begin with him. JS never mentioned such a belief in any available source dated during his life time. The remaining doctrine is a residue of uncritical acceptance without scripture or revelation from BY’s and Eliza Snow’s position. It is accepted for the same kinds of reasons BY’s nonscriptural and non-revelatory refusal to give the PH to the blacks was accepted — plus its current faddish popular appeal for political purposes.

    Comment by Blake — September 2, 2009 @ 4:32 pm

  146. Matt: “Again it is the sharing of divine glory imparted to Him from himself thru his Son that remakes His life as a shared life? Does that make my problem more apparent?”

    Hardly. Your way of stating it as if God is merely sharing his own glory with himself as the basis of his divinity is rather clearly nonsense. Rather, the Father can share his love with the Son because other-love requires another with whom to share love. The Son returns the Father’s love. The two together share deifying love and they share it with us if and to the extent that we are willing to accept it. To the degree that we are open to accept the light of God into our lives, we are glorified and, if we accept it fully, we are deified. It’s not hard.

    Comment by Blake — September 2, 2009 @ 4:56 pm

  147. Blake 145 I didn’t deny her existence. It doesn’t follow from the fact that there is no public revelation about her that she doesn’t exist.

    By not including her even as a possibility in your theology, you deny her existence. There’s nothing wrong with that. Just own it.

    Blake 146
    1st
    Being that there is no ontological gap, and noting that for the Father and The Son to be fully divine they only need to share deifying love with at least a single individual in mutual perfectness, why would I not be able to share deifying love with a different single individual and get the same results?
    2nd- I can be fully divine by repenting and accepting God’s love now in this life, but for the Godhead in order to be fully divine they are required to have always had God’s love. Why am I better than God?

    Comment by Matt W. — September 3, 2009 @ 6:27 am

  148. Why are proclamations (whatever they are supposed to be) granted greater weight than 1st presidency statements? I don’t believe you have any basis for saying any of the proclamations (except the 1st 2) is based on revelation.

    You and I both agree that statements can be true without being the specific product of revelation, but rather a comment based on divine granting of knowledge of time. What makes certain documents very important is they are thoroughly vetted and carefully worded so as to not overstate a case. I do not doubt but that the prophets seek divine approval before issuing an official proclamation. I am less certain if such is done concerning private statements to Church leadership on policy.

    Specifically, concerning The Family: A Proclamation to the World, Pres. Hinckley announced it thusly:

    With so much of sophistry that is passed off as truth, with so much of deception concerning standards and values, with so much of allurement and enticement to take on the slow stain of the world, we have felt to warn and forewarn. In furtherance of this we of the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles now issue a proclamation to the Church and to the world as a declaration and reaffirmation of standards, doctrines, and practices relative to the family which the prophets, seers, and revelators of this church have repeatedly stated throughout its history.

    So, you’re right that it isn’t a specific product of a unique revelation (one reason I believe it hasn’t been subjected to the canonization process).

    But, that doesn’t mean the concept of Heavenly Mother isn’t doctrine. It has been publicly and officially declared doctrine by our prophets, seers, and revelators. You’re welcome to deny her existence and teach her non-existence (even if but by necessary omission), but it places you in opposition to the authorities of the Church. As I said in my original comment… it makes me uncomfortable.

    If you wish to necessarily deny her, I think your comment earlier, “I suggest that you honor the sacred silence in which this knowledge was vouschafed to you.” is well placed.

    Comment by A. Davis — September 3, 2009 @ 6:55 am

  149. Matt: I said be careful. It is particularly aggravating when another attempts to foist a position on me that I have specifically denied and already cautioned.

    I don’t deny the existence of a Mother in Heaven. However, we have no warrant in any revelation, scripture or even statement to discuss her relation to the Godhead, how she fits into creation and so forth.

    Matt: “why would I not be able to share deifying love with a different single individual and get the same results?”

    Because no other individuals could be united without the Father knowing about since the properties of divinity emerge from the inpenetrating relationship of love in shared life. The life and glory of God extend from his presence to fill the immensity of space and to indwell in all things. Thus, God is omniscient and knows all that there is to be known. If there were another such being who could be the source deifying glory, it would of necessity be in conjunction with God the Father. It so happens that there are two who are unified with the Father who also share deifying glory with you precisely because of their unity with the Father: the Son and Holy Ghost. BTW I’ve covered all of this at length in my 3rd vol.

    Matt: “2nd- I can be fully divine by repenting and accepting God’s love now in this life, but for the Godhead in order to be fully divine they are required to have always had God’s love. Why am I better than God?”

    False assumption. A mortal body subject to death is not capable of being fully glorified. You are of the divine species, but you are not fully divine. You may have had greater glory before this life, but not a fullness — because you didn’t choose it. The purpose of this life was to assist you to learn to love in such a way that would prepare you for deification.

    Comment by Blake — September 3, 2009 @ 7:30 am

  150. It is particularly aggravating when another attempts to foist a position on me that I have specifically denied and already cautioned.

    I apologize if I overstated your position.

    I don’t deny the existence of a Mother in Heaven. However, we have no warrant in any revelation, scripture or even statement to discuss her relation to the Godhead, how she fits into creation and so forth.

    And yet, one might find it particularly aggravating that one uses this defense to ignore the question posted by Matt W. in post 127 concerning Heavenly Mother.

    In post 109, you assert that Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost possess divinity because they have always chosen to love and thus form the Godhead. While we know nothing beyond her existence it is not unreasonable to consider her into the equation. For example one can ask:

    Did she always choose to love? If so, why not be a (public?) part of the Godhead?

    Did she acquire divinity in the same way we will?

    Why does my own ability to acquire a fulness of divinity require a spouse?

    The model you propose leaves her out of the equation entirely. Not that she can’t exist, but that she simply is moot to the model.

    Sure, one can do that. But the absence, I think, causes me to find the model wanting in persuasiveness – especially if the model is inconsistent with the (unjustifiable) preconceptions of her and her role in our existence. Simply dismissing her as indiscussible is… aggravating. Ah well.

    Comment by A. Davis — September 3, 2009 @ 9:41 am

  151. A Davis: You have nothing to apologize for. I was actually responding to Matt.

    I fail to see how any of the questions posed by Matt about the MinH could possibly be answered — nor do I see how the notion of a mother in heaven is entailed, implied or necessary to anything that I have said about the Godhead.

    You can be aggravated about the lack of knowledge we have about a MinH, but don’t blame me. I’m just accurately reflecting our actual (lack of) knowledge about her.

    Comment by Blake — September 3, 2009 @ 11:15 am

  152. nor do I see how the notion of a mother in heaven is entailed, implied or necessary to anything that I have said about the Godhead.

    Precisely. And that is our cause for variance. I see two basic tacts one can use.

    A. One can create a functional model/understanding of the Godhead by limiting ourselves to what is certain. That which is uncertain/unknown is unused.

    B. One can recognize an incompleteness of knowledge and assert that any model/understanding of the godhead will probably be incorrect if it does not give place to accommodate the incomplete portion.

    You say that Heavenly Mother simply does not need to figure into your model of the Godhead. She simply isn’t necessary for your understanding of it.

    I guess that I am camp B. And so I become uncomfortable from a simple perspective of bias of any model that does not justify the irrelevance of the known uncertainties.

    Comment by A. Davis — September 3, 2009 @ 1:35 pm

  153. You left out the most viable model: one can read the scriptures and other revelations and try to make sense of them giving due weight to other authoritative sources.

    Comment by Blake — September 3, 2009 @ 7:14 pm

  154. I think that statement fits both approach A and approach B. :)

    Comment by A. Davis — September 4, 2009 @ 6:38 am

  155. Blake: I agree with A. Davis. I think your model, by saying she need not figure into your model of the Godhead in fact denies her the possibility of figuring into the Godhead, and thus denies her existence. But let’s set the issue of the Divine Feminine aside as you’ve asked.

    The life and glory of God extend from his presence to fill the immensity of space and to indwell in all things. Thus, God is omniscient and knows all that there is to be known.

    That’s not an ontological Gap? Also, this phenomenal godlike power does not then come from God’s unity, but is a precursor to it. Thus divinity is not a function of unity, as you have stated, at least not for God.

    False assumption. A mortal body subject to death is not capable of being fully glorified. You are of the divine species, but you are not fully divine. You may have had greater glory before this life, but not a fullness — because you didn’t choose it. The purpose of this life was to assist you to learn to love in such a way that would prepare you for deification.

    This doesn’t answer my question. I was not speaking of a mortal but, but a resurrected immortal one. Anyway, Joseph Smith said a body was essential to exaltation. (See commment #77). Also, Joseph famously said:

    That which is without body or parts is nothing. There is no other God in heaven but that God who has flesh and bones.

    and:

    We came to this earth that we might have a body and present it pure before God in the Celestial Kingdom. The great principle of happiness consists in having a body.

    William Clayton’s Private Book Jan 5, 1841

    Comment by Matt W. — September 4, 2009 @ 7:28 am

  156. Matt W.: “That’s not an ontological Gap?”

    Hardly. We participate in the same knowledge of all things by participating in the same spirit and knowledge that are in and through all things when we are one in the divine persons. So we will also be omniscient. No ontological gap here.

    Matt: “Also, this phenomenal godlike power does not then come from God’s unity, but is a precursor to it. Thus divinity is not a function of unity, as you have stated, at least not for God.”

    I have no idea what your line of reasoning is to conclude that somehow it follows that the divine properties thus don’t emerge from the unity but from a precursor and I have no idea what precursor you’re referring to. In any event, it appears to me that your leap of logic here is a non-sequitur.

    God now has a body of flesh and bone (and had at the time that Joseph Smith stated that there is no other God but the one with a body of flesh and bone). Thus, Joseph’s statement is easily explained.

    I fail to see how anything you cite in #77 supports your view. In fact, what you cite roundly contradicts the view that an exalted body is necessary for full divinity: “the holy ghost is yet a Spiritual body and waiting to take to himself a body. as the Savior did or as god did or the gods before them took bodies.” – Laub Journal, Sermon in the Grove, June 16, 1844

    So what am I to conclude from your view? That the God of the Old Testament was not exalted? That the Holy Ghost is not really a divine person or divine?

    You have stated several times that you make a distinction between being exalted and being divine a being a god. Yet in D&C 132 those who are exalted are called gods because they exalted and deification just is this achievement of exaltation it seems to me. Your view is incoherent because it excludes the premortal Christ, the very God of the Old Testmanet, and the present Holy Ghost from the class of those who are divine and/or exalted (if there were some kind of distinction that could made). If anything is impermissible in Mormon thought, denying such status to two members of the Godhead would have to be unacceptable.

    Comment by Blake — September 4, 2009 @ 8:01 am

  157. Matt: “I think your model, by saying she need not figure into your model of the Godhead in fact denies her the possibility of figuring into the Godhead, and thus denies her existence.”

    I have reserved this statement for a separate post because I apologize up front. Your assertion is a non-sequitur. First, you assert that a “theology” must accommodate the MinH in the Godhead or it denies her existence. That it just nonsense. It could be that a MinH exists but she is not a member of the Godhead. It could be that a MinH exists and is possibly a member of the Godhead but presently isn’t. It could be that we just know nothing about the MinH from scripture or revelation so it is beyond irresponsible to make any affirmative statements about her. The latter happens to be my view.

    Note carefully: we know nothing about a MinH. Not one scripture, not one breath during Joseph’s lifetime, not one word in any uncanonized revelation from a prophet of God, not one word in revelation about her. What others cite about Asherah is in fact about a figure that was recognized as an idol and false god in the Old Testament. It is irresponsible to say anything about her other than that some early Mormons believed in various views of a MinH, many of which are now clearly recognized as heresy because they are tied up in the Adam God doctrine.

    In addition, we do have the cautionary tale of apostasy where many demand a female figure for worship and create such a figure to be worshiped for political purposes , like prayer to Mary or a cult of Isis that is mimicked in early catholicism by adapting the existing cultural myths to “christian” beliefs. If you want to worship such a figure, exalt her to the Godhead, demand that we adopt such a view out of a cultural imperative, you are clearly free to do so. However, I will wait for revelation and in the meantime make my best attempt to stick to what has been disclosed in revelation and scripture.

    However, if you truly believe that we must include the MinH in the Godhead to have a “Mormon theology,” then it seems that you ought to have something to back such a statement that is more reliable than a collective assumption based on erroneous views of what the historical record shows.

    Comment by Blake — September 4, 2009 @ 8:17 am

  158. A. Davis: “known uncertainties.”

    I have just written this down in my book of Injured English. The MinH is a known uncertainty? How about an unknown uncertainty?

    Comment by Blake — September 4, 2009 @ 8:22 am

  159. But Blake, you just said the Holy Ghost is not God.

    God now has a body of flesh and bone (and had at the time that Joseph Smith stated that there is no other God but the one with a body of flesh and bone). Thus, Joseph’s statement is easily explained.

    Re: Emergence. If the power is emergent from the unity, then it is totally reasonable that two other beings could be in unity without being in unity with the individual who is the Father and the same power would emerge from them. If your point is they would thus be also in unity with the Father, then, given there are an infinite number of beings, and an infinite amount of time has past, and God the Father had a God the Father, then there are other beings who are up there.

    Re: my comment #77- I sited in #77- “We choose tabernacles for ourselves that we might be exalted equal with God himself”. RE the Holy Ghost, see my beginning to this comment.

    The God of the Old Testament was Heavenly Father. Not Jesus. Stating otherwise is merely an instance of cultural over-belief.

    Comment by Matt W. — September 4, 2009 @ 8:23 am

  160. Matt: You and I both know that the “God” Joseph Smith is referring to is God the Father. So it doesn’t follow in any way that Joseph is talking about the Holy Ghost or that somehow I am saying by implication that the Holy Ghost is not God.

    Matt: “it is totally reasonable that two other beings could be in unity without being in unity with the individual who is the Father and the same power would emerge from them.”

    Maybe, but it just so happens to be revealed that the 3 who are the source of the light are the Father, Son & Holy Ghost. There is no chance that these 3 are not working with all to achieve deification and so no being could or would become divine without their being involved. It isn’t like they don’t notice or they’re just not paying attention.

    Matt: “The God of the Old Testament was Heavenly Father. Not Jesus. Stating otherwise is merely an instance of cultural over-belief.”

    Well, 3 Ne. disagrees with you: 3 Nephi 15:5
    5 Behold, I am he that gave the law, and I am he who covenanted
    with my people Israel; therefore, the law in me is fulfilled, for
    I have come to fulfil the law; therefore it hath an end.

    Comment by Blake — September 4, 2009 @ 10:14 am

  161. Blake, if God has to have a body to be God, and Happiness/exaltation requires having a body, and exaltation means becoming like God, then I’d say it’s reasonable to say the Holy Ghost can only be God by divine investiture of Authority, just as Jesus was God by divine investiture of authority prior to his resurrection.

    In any case, the most important word to me in #160 is this “Maybe.” I agree with you whole heartedly on that.

    Comment by Matt W. — September 4, 2009 @ 11:16 am

  162. Matt: “if God has to have a body to be God”

    Ahhhh! He clearly doesn’t if by “body” you mean exalted resurrected body!

    Comment by Blake — September 4, 2009 @ 12:16 pm

  163. Blake: No worries, my whole point to begin with was that there was ambiguity. Still friends?

    Comment by Matt W. — September 4, 2009 @ 4:02 pm

  164. Of course!

    Comment by Blake — September 4, 2009 @ 4:52 pm

  165. Blake, I’ve not followed the thread (yet). So quick question.

    Do you think there are certain perfections necessary to be God but that none deal with embodiment?

    There’s an interesting question here regarding the issue of God as fallen. Admittedly Mormon Christology entails some significant differences from other Christians. But it seems like you are pushing things in an even stronger way, oddly some moving you more towards BY’s position and others the more traditional Christian view..

    Comment by Clark — September 5, 2009 @ 11:56 am

  166. To add, I think the easiest solution is simply that Mormon rhetoric uses the terms God and divine equivocally.

    Comment by Clark — September 5, 2009 @ 12:12 pm

  167. Clark: The easiest way to begin is with a rewording of Matt’s question: is the Father necessarily fully divine? Put in another way, is it logically necessary that the Father be the God a relationship with him is the basis of deification of all other beings?

    I believe that it is a contingent matter that the Father is the one who is the source of light, life, intelligence, power, spirit and energy that deifies other; but it happens to be revealed that the Father was the most intelligent one who draws all other intelligences to his ever-growing and ever-increasing love.

    “Now what has that got to do with embodiment?”, you may ask? What makes us divine isn’t having a particular type of body. It is being glorified by a certain level of light. The Father is always progressing, always growing. Taking on bodies of various sorts (spirit bodies, physical bodies) seems to be a part of that ever-ongoing progress. The body gives us challenges and opportunities to learn and grow that we wouldn’t have without it. So I imagine after we have taken a resurrected body, there will yet be other types of bodies, even more glories, that we may assume and that will assist us in our everlasting progress.

    I’m not sure if an intelligence is embodied in some sense. It may be, but I don’t see anything in our scriptures or stated by Joseph Smith that requires it. It may be that a spirit body just is the same thing as an intelligence — Joseph Smith (as I am sure you’re aware) seemed to use the terms “eternal spirit” and “eternal intelligence” interchangeably as synonyms.

    It is clear (to me at least) that possession of a resurrected and exalted body is not essential to being fully divine because the pre-mortal Christ was fully divine. That doesn’t mean that he couldn’t progress and grow and even gain greater glory by having a body; but it does mean that having a body isn’t essential to such deity and Godhead.

    I would have a hard time coming up with a distinction between exaltation and deification or fully mature divinity (what I believe the scriptures, Joseph Smith and the LonF called “a fullness”). However, if there is one, it could be that to have eternal increase of offspring and eternal family is to be exalted and one can be fully divine without having such an eternal family. However, it seems to me that Joseph Smith didn’t make that distinction — and I don’t really either.

    However, having said all of that, I am in total agreement that Mormon discourse uses “divine” and “exalted” and “God” and “gods” equivocally. However, in my writings I have defined what I mean more closely than in common discourse to avoid confusion and equivocation.

    Comment by Blake — September 5, 2009 @ 12:35 pm

  168. I have just written this down in my book of Injured English. The MinH is a known uncertainty? How about an unknown uncertainty?

    Hehe. I almost commented on the phrase in my post – noting immediately the irony of it. I suppose it goes along the lines of “The more I learn the more I know about that which I don’t know.” :)

    Comment by A. Davis — September 8, 2009 @ 9:22 am

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