21 Questions about Mormonism – Part 1

Why do some call the Church a cult?

Does the Mormon Church believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God?

Does the Church believe in the divinity of Jesus?

Does the Church believe that God is a physical being?

If so, does the Church believe that God lives on a planet named Kolob?

Where is the planet Kolob? What significance does the planet have to Mormons?

Does the Mormon Church believe that God and Mary had physical sex to conceive Jesus?

Does the Mormon Church believe Jesus appeared in North America after his crucifixion and resurrection?

If so, when did this happen? And under what circumstances?

Does the Mormon Church believe its followers can become “gods and goddesses” after death?

In the midst of the publicity storm surrounding Mormonism FOX News at the end of 2007 compiled a list of 21 questions to put to The Mormon Church. The Church objected to answering some of the questions on the grounds that they misrepresent the basic tenets of the Mormon religion.

Qu. “Many of these questions are typically found on anti-Mormon blogs or Web sites which aim to misrepresent or distort Mormon doctrines,” the church said in a statement. “Several of these questions do not represent … any serious attempt to depict the core values and beliefs of its members.”

You may judge for yourself whether the questions are fair and whether they have answered or evaded them. However, Mormons have traditionally revelled in the title “peculiar people” so it does seem churlish to complain when others ask about those things that mark them out as peculiar. We begin here to look at the questions (Q) and answers (A) with comments (C) and quotes (Qu.):

Q: Why do some call the Church a cult?

A: For the most part, this seems to stem from a lack of understanding about the Church and its core doctrines and beliefs. Under those circumstances it is too easy to label a religion or other organization that is not well-known with an inflammatory term like ‘cult.’ Famed scholar of religion Martin Marty has said a cult means a church you don’t personally happen to like. We don’t believe any organization should be subjected to a label that has come to be as pejorative as that one.

C: I have commented before on how peculiar it is that a church claiming to be Christian should be so consistently “misunderstood”, even by “other Christians”. The Mormons seem to be constantly fighting a rearguard action against misunderstandings and misconceptions. This is all the more puzzling for a church with an ongoing professional programme of self-promotion. Is Mormonism hard to understand? Why does the church continually have to “explain” itself? It is a truism that someone who does a lot of explaining usually has a lot of explaining to do. Blaming your detractors is not good enough; the Mormon Church does have a lot of explaining to do and it would be wise to ask why.

As to the assertion that no organisation should suffer the pejorative label of cult, it should be remembered that Mormonism is founded on the teaching that all the creeds of “Christendom” (that’s your church and mine) are “an abomination” and that all who profess those creeds (that’s you and me if you are a Christian) are “corrupt”. Perhaps Mormons should remember that people who live in transparent dwellings should seriously consider the consequences before hurling things at others; that what goes around comes around; that people don’t so easily forget that Mormonism is established on terms that remain antagonistic to and pejorative of others.

The Mormon Church trades on the modern creed that every religion is of equal value, everyone’s right “in their own way”; there is no blame and therefore no shame; and the “everyone’s a victim” culture of today. However, Christians know that there is right and wrong, truth and falsehood, righteousness and sin and a way that seems right to a man but that leads to destruction. Mormonism is founded on the claim that the ways of Christendom lead to destruction. Christians, in turn, warn others that there is no salvation in Mormonism. They teach that we are apostate, and we teach that they are a cult and in serious error. It’s a messy old place sometimes but welcome to the real world.

Q: Does the Mormon Church believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God?

A: Mormons believe Jesus Christ is literally the Son of God, the Savior and Redeemer, who died for the sins of humankind and rose from the dead on the third day with an immortal body. God, the Father, also has an immortal body.

Q: Does the Church believe in the divinity of Jesus?

A: Mormons believe Jesus Christ is literally the Son of God, the Savior and Redeemer, who died for the sins of humankind and rose from the dead on the third day with an immortal body. God, the Father, also has an immortal body.

Q: Does the Church believe that God is a physical being?

A: Mormons believe Jesus Christ is literally the Son of God, the Savior and Redeemer, who died for the sins of humankind and rose from the dead on the third day with an immortal body. God, the Father, also has an immortal body.

Qu: “God Himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens…If the veil were rent today…if you were to see him today, you would see him like a man in form ” (Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 345)

C: The god of Mormonism has a body and, like the Wizard of Oz, he only appears omnipotent. Pull back the veil and you see a man. Mormons use the phrase “literally the Son of God” as though it is a classic orthodox Christian tenet but by this deceptively simple phrase they are conveying their belief that an “exalted man” with a physical body had intercourse with an exalted woman and, from that union, came the “literal Son of God”. While the Bible teaches and Christians believe that Jesus is “literally God the Son”, the eternal God, Mormons believe he is “literally the Son of God”, the offspring of a man they worship as God and a woman they regard as their goddess mother. Indeed, neither is he the “only Begotten” but the first of countless millions conceived and born in the same way. To answer the questions according to Mormon orthodoxy then:

Q: Does the Mormon Church believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God?

The Mormon Church believes that Jesus is the offspring of God but not God the Son as Christians understand him

Q: Does the Church believe in the divinity of Jesus?

The Church believes that Jesus is a god in a pantheon which Mormons intend join

Q: Does the Church believe that God is a physical being?/p>

Yes. The Mormon god is an exalted man.

Q: If so, does the Church believe that God lives on a planet named Kolob?

A: ‘Kolob’ is a term found in ancient records translated by Joseph Smith. Joseph Smith did not provide a full description or explanation of Kolob nor did he assign the idea particular significance in relation to the Church’s core doctrines.

Q: Where is the planet Kolob? What significance does the planet have to Mormons?

A: ‘Kolob’ is a term found in ancient records translated by Joseph Smith. Joseph Smith did not provide a full description or explanation of Kolob nor did he assign the idea particular significance in relation to the Church’s core doctrines.

 

C: This is a classic Mormon “How can we bury this?” idea. It is found in the Book of Abraham, Pearl of Great Price, which Joseph Smith claimed was a translation of papyri he bought from a travelling exhibition. The Pearl of Great Price has long been discredited as a serious translation but some of the most controversial Mormon teachings come from this source. Kolob is said to be the translation of a hieroglyph in the document. In Mormon cosmology the worlds move in concentric circles around a central point where an exalted man that Mormons call god lives. Time is reckoned according to the relative distance of each world to the centre and the world nearest that centre place is Kolob.

Qu.“Kolob, signifying the first creation, nearest to the celestial, or the residence of God. First in government, the last pertaining to the measurement of time. The measurement according to celestial time, which celestial time signifies one day to a cubit. One day in Kolob is equal to a thousand years according to the measurement of this earth, which is called by the Egyptians Jah-oh-eh.” – (Book of Abraham, Facsimile 2, Figure #1 explanation)

What is informative is that there is a reckoning of god’s days:

Qu. “…Kolob was after the manner of the Lord, according to its times and seasons in the revolutions thereof; that one revolution was a day unto the Lord, after his manner of reckoning, it being one thousand years according to the time appointed unto that whereon thou standest. This is the reckoning of the Lord’s time, according to the reckoning of Kolob.

“… The planet which is the lesser light…is above or greater than that upon which thou standest in point of reckoning, for it moveth in order more slow; this is in order because it standeth above the earth upon which thou standest, therefore the reckoning of its time is not so many as to its number of days, and of months, and of years. [This is in reference to the moon: see Genesis 1:16.]

“And where these two facts exist, there shall be another fact above them, that is, there shall be another planet whose reckoning of time shall be longer still; and thus there shall be the reckoning of the time of one planet above another, until thou come nigh unto Kolob, which Kolob is after the reckoning of the Lord’s time; which Kolob is set nigh unto the throne of God, to govern all those planets which belong to the same order as that upon which thou standest.” (Book of Abraham 3:4-9; see also Book of Abraham, Facsimile #2, explanation to Fig

Confused? Surprised? Basically, what is being claimed is that as you move away from the earth and nearer to Kolob time slows down so that on “the lesser light” (the moon) time goes more slowly. As you move further towards Kolob again so time slows down further until you come to Kolob where time is reckoned in the same way that God reckons time, i.e. a day on earth is a thousand years on Kolob. In other words, the Mormon god is subject to time.

Mormons use Ps.90:4 and 2 Pe.3:8 to show that time is relative, even to God. This doesn’t work however because the psalmist compares a thousand years with a day and with a watch in the night. A watch in the night is a part of the night during which a person is set to watch over a ship or camp, or to patrol a community before the introduction of police forces (Judges 7:19). The point is that a watch in the night is usually four hours. The Psalmist is not saying that a day to us is a thousand years to God but that is demonstrating that God is not subject to time however it is measured. A day or a watch in the night, it is all the same to God.

Interestingly Mormon apostle Bruce R McConkie said that God had been presiding over our universe for almost 2,500,000,000 years (The Seven Deadly Heresies pp 146/7). From this we may safely infer that the reign of the Mormon god is subject to linear time. We may also infer that 2,500,000,001 years ago he did not preside over our universe.

Kolob illustrates again the idea that the Mormon god is relatively omniscient (an oxymoron), not an eternal God but an exalted man who is only eternal going forwards; going backwards he clearly decreases until that time when he did not reign. A worrying thought.

Q: Does the Mormon Church believe that God and Mary had physical sex to conceive Jesus?

A: The Church does not claim to know how Jesus was conceived but believes the Bible and Book of Mormon references to Jesus being born of the Virgin Mary.

Qu: “The Only Begotten of the Father (Moses 5:9). These name titles all signify that our Lord is the Only Son of the Father in the flesh. Each of the words is to be understood literally…Christ was begotten by an Immortal Father in the same way that mortal men are begotten by mortal fathers” (McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, pp. 546/7, c.f. Talmage, Jesus the Christ, p.81 where he writes of “celestial Sireship” and “the ordinary operation of the fundamental law of heredity”).

C: Jesus was naturally conceived and not supernaturally, and is just “the only begotten of God in the flesh”. In the spirit we are all sons of God (Joseph F Smith, Gospel Doctrine, p. 69). They avoid Mt.1:20 in this answer in which they claim to believe the Bible account. The answer they give here is simply dishonest and misleading since, in Mormonism, we are all spirit children of God and Jesus is marked out only by the facts that he is 1) the firstborn spirit child (our elder brother) and 2) the only one of God’s children who is literally the Son of God in the flesh. This is a well attested Mormon teaching, they know it, and to deny that knowledge is a lie.

Let me make this clear. All men and women were born to and lived with God in a premortal existence and Jesus is the eldest of that vast family. The only thing that otherwise makes Jesus different is that, while everyone else was born into this world as a result of mummy and daddy having sex, Jesus’ mummy was Mary and his daddy was God; otherwise the operation was no different. McConkie and Talmage are giants of Mormonism in theological terms and their books formative in Mormon thinking. Note McConkie’s words, “Christ was begotten by an Immortal Father in the same way that mortal men are begotten by mortal fathers”. Note Talmage’s reference to “celestial Sireship” and “the ordinary operation of the fundamental law of heredity”. This is what Mormons believe by the term “only begotten”, i.e. only begotten in the flesh but first begotten in the spirit.

Look, the Mormon god is a man with a physical body. He has a wife (or rather wives) with a physical body. Mormon men expect that one day they will be gods with physical bodies with wives who have physical bodies. Work it out for yourself.

Q: Does the Mormon Church believe Jesus appeared in North America after his crucifixion and resurrection?

A: The appearance of Jesus in the Western Hemisphere shortly after his resurrection is described in the Book of Mormon. Mormons believe that when Christ told his disciples in the Bible He had other ‘sheep’ who should receive his message he was referring to those people in the Western Hemisphere.

 

Q: If so, when did this happen? And under what circumstances?

A: The appearance of Jesus in the Western Hemisphere shortly after his resurrection is described in the Book of Mormon. Mormons believe that when Christ told his disciples in the Bible He had other ‘sheep’ who should receive his message he was referring to those people in the Western Hemisphere.

C: Jesus declared:

“And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd (Jn.10:16)

Of course, the sheep to which Jesus had come were the people of Israel (Mt.15:24) and the “other sheep” to whom he referred are Gentiles and to whom he sent his apostles (Mk.16:15). If he had meant the “lost sheep” of the Book of Mormon they would have been included in Israel and not “other” since they are purported to be Jews. There are two folds in Scripture, Israel and Gentile, and Paul echoed Jesus’ words when he wrote to Gentiles believers in Ephesus:

“Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands– remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of by abolishing the law of commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.

And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God” (Eph.2:11-19)

The both that are made one are Gentiles who are “alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise” and those of “the covenant”, those who are “far off” – Gentiles – and those who “were near” – Jews.

Finally, people leave “footprints” in history and if we depended solely on evidence from the Americas there would no reason at all to believe that Jesus existed since there is no evidence of his having ever appeared in the Americas. His life in the old world on the other hand is not in dispute.

Q: Does the Mormon Church believe its followers can become “gods and goddesses” after death?

A: We believe that the apostle Peter’s biblical reference to partaking of the divine nature and the apostle Paul’s reference to being ‘joint heirs with Christ’ reflect the intent that children of God should strive to emulate their Heavenly Father in every way. Throughout the eternities, Mormons believe, they will reverence and worship God the Father and Jesus Christ. The goal is not to equal them or to achieve parity with them but to imitate and someday acquire their perfect goodness, love and other divine attributes.

Qu: “Brethren, 225,000 of you are here tonight. I suppose 225,000 of you may become gods. There seems to be plenty of space out there in the universe. And the Lord has proved that he knows how to do it. I think he can make, or probably have us help make, worlds for all of us, for every one of us 225,000” (Spencer W Kimball, Ensign, Nov.1975, p.80)

C: Mormon men intend to become gods, just as their god has done before them. Joseph Smith taught this and, in 1974, Mormon apostle Marion G Romney stated, “God is a perfected, saved soul, enjoying eternal life.” That is what “salvation” is to a Mormon, i.e. godhood. (Salt Lake Tribune, Oct.6, 1974)

Not only do Mormons teach that God has a physical body, but that He is an exalted man. Joseph Smith said ‘God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens. Mormon Apostle Orson Pratt went even further:

Qu. “The Gods who dwell in the Heaven have been redeemed from the grave in a world which existed before the foundations of this earth were laid. They and the Heavenly body which they now inhabit were once in a fallen state… they were exalted also, from fallen men to Celestial Gods to inhabit their Heaven forever and ever.” (The Seer, Jan 1853, p.23 quoted in the Salt Lake City Messenger, Nov. 1994, p.6.)

The Mormon Plan of Salvation teaches that those who live worthy lives and fulfil all the ordinances of the church can become gods one day. This is an endless cycle: God was once a man and lived worthy to become a god. He created an earth to hold his spirit children, so that they in their turn could follow him. Mormon Apostle LeGrand Richards wrote a letter to Morris L. Reynolds on 14th July 1966, in which he stated: ‘There is a statement often repeated in the Church, and while it is not in one of the Standard Church Works, it is accepted as Church doctrine, and this is: “As man is, God once was; as God is, man may become.”

Categories: Mormons

Tags: ,,,,

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.