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Philosophical Problems with the Mormon Concept of God
Christian Research Institute ^ | Francis J. Beckwith

Posted on 02/13/2003 6:03:04 PM PST by scripter

Most Christians who critique the Mormon view of God do so from a strictly biblical perspective. Christian apologists have correctly pointed out that Mormon theology conflicts with biblical doctrine in a number of important areas, including the nature of God, the plan of salvation, and the nature of man.1 

Although the biblical approach should be the Christian's primary focus, Dr. Stephen E. Parrish and I have suggested another approach in several articles and books.2 This approach focuses on the philosophical rather than the biblical problems with the Mormon concept of God.

In this article I will (1) compare and contrast the Christian and Mormon concepts of God and (2) present three philosophical problems with the Mormon view.


THE CHRISTIAN CONCEPT OF GOD

Christians claim that their concept of God is found in the Bible. Known as classical theism, this view of God has long been considered the orthodox theistic position of the Western world. Though there are numerous divine attributes that we could examine, for our present purposes it is sufficient to say that the God of classical theism is at least (1) personal and incorporeal (without physical parts), (2) the Creator and Sustainer of everything else that exists, (3) omnipotent (all-powerful), (4) omniscient (all-knowing), (5) omnipresent (everywhere present), (6) immutable (unchanging) and eternal, and (7) necessary and the only God.

Let us now briefly look at each of these attributes.

1. Personal and Incorporeal. According to Christian theism, God is a personal being who has all the attributes that we may expect from a perfect person: self-consciousness, the ability to reason, know, love, communicate, and so forth. This is clearly how God is described in the Scriptures (e.g., Gen. 17:11; Exod. 3:14; Jer. 29:11).

God is also incorporeal. Unlike humans, God is not uniquely associated with one physical entity (i.e., a body). This is why the Bible refers to God as Spirit (John 4:24).

2. The Creator and Sustainer of Everything Else that Exists. In classical theism, all reality is contingent on God that is, all reality has come into existence and continues to exist because of Him. Unlike a god who forms the universe out of preexistent matter, the God of classical theism created the universe ex nihilo (out of nothing). Consequently, it is on God alone that everything in the universe depends for its existence (see Acts 17:25; Col. 1:16, 17; Rom. 11:36; Heb. 11:3; 2 Cor. 4:6; Rev. 4:11).

3. Omnipotent. God is also said to be omnipotent or all-powerful. This should be understood to mean that God can do anything that is (1) logically possible (see below), and (2) consistent with being a personal, incorporeal, omniscient, omnipresent, immutable, wholly perfect, and necessary Creator.

Concerning the latter, these attributes are not limitations of God's power, but perfections. They are attributes at their infinitely highest level, which are essential to God's nature. For example, since God is perfect, He cannot sin; because He is personal, He is incapable of making Himself impersonal; because He is omniscient, He cannot forget. All this is supported by the Bible when its writers assert that God cannot sin (Mark 10:18; Heb. 6:18), cease to exist (Exod. 3:14; Mal. 3:6), or fail to know something (Job 28:24; Ps. 139:17-18; Isa. 46:10a). Since God is a perfect person, it is necessarily the case that He is incapable of acting in a less than perfect way which would include sinning, ceasing to exist, and being ignorant.

When the classical theist claims that God can only do what is logically possible, he or she is claiming that God cannot do or create what is logically impossible. Examples of logically impossible entities include "married bachelors," "square circles," and "a brother who is an only child." But these are not really entities; they are merely contrary terms that are strung together and appear to say something. Hence, the fact that God cannot do the logically impossible does not in any way discount His omnipotence.

Also counted among the things that are logically impossible for God to do or create are those imperfect acts mentioned above which a wholly perfect and immutable being cannot do such as sin, lack omniscience, and/or cease to exist. Since God is a personal, incorporeal, omniscient, omnipresent, immutable, wholly perfect, and necessary Creator, it follows that any act inconsistent with these attributes would be necessarily (or logically) impossible for God to perform. But this fact does not count against God's omnipotence, since, as St. Augustine points out, "Neither do we lessen [God's] power when we say He cannot die or be deceived. This is the kind of inability which, if removed, would make God less powerful than He is.... It is precisely because He is omnipotent that for Him some things are impossible."3

But what about Luke 1:37, where we are told that "nothing is impossible with God?" (NIV) Addressing this question, St. Thomas Aquinas points out that this verse is not talking about internally contradictory or contrary "entities," since such "things" are not really things at all. They are merely words strung together that appear to be saying something when in fact they are saying nothing.4 Hence, everything is possible for God, but the logically impossible is not truly a thing.

4. Omniscient. God is all-knowing, and His all-knowingness encompasses the past, present, and future.5 Concerning God's unfathomable knowledge, the psalmist writes: "How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. When I awake, I am still with you" (Ps. 139:17,18). Elsewhere he writes, "Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit" (147:5). The author of Job writes of God: "For he views the ends of the earth and sees everything under the heavens" (Job 28:24). Scripture also teaches that God has total knowledge of the past (Isa. 41:22). Concerning the future, God says: "I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: 'My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please,'" (Isa. 46:10). Elsewhere Isaiah quotes God as saying that knowledge (not opinion or highly probable guesses) of the future is essential for deity (Isa. 41:21-24), something that distinguished God from the many false gods of Isaiah's day.

5. Omnipresent. Logically following from God's omniscience, incorporeality, omnipotence, and role as creator and sustainer of the universe is His omnipresence. Since God is not limited by a spatio-temporal body, knows everything immediately without benefit of sensory organs, and sustains the existence of all that exists, it follows that He is in some sense present everywhere. Certainly it is the Bible's explicit teaching that God is omnipresent (Ps. 139:7-12; Jer. 23:23-24).

6. Immutable and Eternal. When a Christian says that God is immutable and eternal, he or she is saying that God is unchanging (Mal. 3:6; Heb. 6:17; Isa. 46:10b) and has always existed as God throughout all eternity (Ps. 90:2; Isa. 40:28; 43:12b, 13; 57:15a; Rom. 1:20a; 1 Tim. 1:17).6 There never was a time when God was not God.

Although God certainly seems to change in response to how His creatures behave such as in the case of the repenting Ninevites His nature remains the same. No matter how the Ninevites would have responded to Jonah's preaching, God's unchanging righteousness would have remained the same: He is merciful to the repentant and punishes the unrepentant. Hence, a God who is responsive to His creatures is certainly consistent with, and seems to be entailed in, an unchanging nature that is necessarily personal.

7. Necessary and the Only God. The Bible teaches that although humans at times worship some beings as if these beings were really gods (1 Cor. 8:4-6), there is only one true and living God by nature (Isa. 43:10; 44:6, 8; 45:5, 18, 21, 22; Jer. 10:10; Gal. 4:8; 1 Cor. 8:4-6; 1 Tim. 2:5; John 17:3; 1 Thess. 1:9). And since the God of the Bible possesses all power (see above), there cannot be any other God, for this would mean that two beings possess all power. That, of course, is patently absurd, since if a being possesses all of everything (in this case, power) there is, by definition, nothing left for anyone else.7

Moreover, since everything that exists depends on God, and God is unchanging and eternal, it follows that God cannot not exist. In other words, He is a necessary being,8 whereas everything else is contingent.


THE MORMON CONCEPT OF GOD

Apart from biblical influences, the Mormon doctrine of God is derived primarily from three works regarded by the Mormon church (the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints [LDS]) as inspired scripture: The Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants (hereafter D&C), and the Pearl of Great Price. (Most of these writings were supposedly received through "revelation" by the movement's founder and chief prophet, Joseph Smith.) It is also found in Smith's other statements and doctrinal commentaries. Although not regarded by the LDS church as scripture per se, Smith's extracanonical pronouncements on doctrine are almost universally accepted by the Mormon laity and leadership as authoritative for Mormon theology.

The Mormon doctrine of God is also derived from statements and writings of the church's ecclesiastical leaders especially its presidents, who are considered divinely inspired prophets. Additionally, we will consider the arguments of contemporary LDS philosophers who have attempted to present Mormonism's doctrine of God as philosophically coherent.9

Because there are so many doctrinal sources, it may appear (with some justification) that it is difficult to determine precisely what the Mormons believe about God. For example, the Book of Mormon (first published in 1830) seems to teach a strongly Judaic monotheism with modalistic (God is only one person manifesting in three modes) overtones (see Alma 11:26-31, 38; Moroni 8:18; Mosiah 3:5-8; 7:27; 15:1-5), while the equally authoritative Pearl of Great Price (first published in 1851) clearly teaches that more than one God exists (see Abraham 4-5). This is why a number of Mormon scholars have argued that their theology evolved from a traditional monotheism to a uniquely American polytheism.10

Consequently, our chief concern will not be the historical development of Mormon theism, but rather, the dominant concept of God currently held by the LDS church. Though there is certainly disagreement among Mormon scholars concerning some precise points of doctrine, I submit that the church currently teaches that God is, in effect, (1) a contingent being, who was at one time not God; (2) finite in knowledge (not truly omniscient), power (not omnipotent), and being (not omnipresent or immutable); (3) one of many gods; (4) a corporeal (bodily) being, who physically dwells at a particular spatio-temporal location and is therefore not omnipresent like the classical God (respecting His intrinsic divine nature we are not considering the Incarnation of the Son of God here); and (5) a being who is subject to the laws and principles of a beginningless universe with an infinite number of entities in it.

No doubt there are individual Mormons whose personal views of God run contrary to the above five points. But since both the later writings of Joseph Smith and current Mormon orthodoxy clearly assert these five points, Mormons who dispute them are out of step with their church.

The modern Mormon concept of God can best be grasped by understanding the overall Mormon world view and how the deity fits into it. Mormonism teaches that God the Father is a resurrected, "exalted" human being named Elohim who was at one time not God. Rather, he was once a mortal man on another planet who, through obedience to the precepts of his God, eventually attained exaltation, or godhood, himself through "eternal progression."

Omniscience, according to Mormon theology, is one of the attributes one attains when reaching godhood. Mormons appear to be divided, however, on the meaning of omniscience. It seems that some Mormons believe omniscience to mean that God has no false beliefs about the past, present, and future. This view is consistent with the classical Christian view.11

On the other hand, the dominant Mormon tradition teaches that God only knows everything that can possibly be known. But the only things that can possibly be known, traditional Mormons say, are the present and the past, since the former is occurring and the latter has already occurred. Consequently, since the future is not a "thing" and has never been actual (and hence cannot possibly be known), God does not know the future. Therefore, the Mormon God is omniscient in the sense that he knows everything that can possibly be known, but he nevertheless increases in knowledge as the future unfolds and becomes the present.12 The common ground of the two Mormon views is that God must, at minimum, have complete and total knowledge of everything in the past and in the present.

Once Elohim attained godhood he then created this present world by "organizing" both eternally preexistent, inorganic matter and the preexistent primal intelligences from which human spirits are made. Mormon scholar Hyrum L. Andrus explains:

Though man's spirit is organized from a pure and fine substance which possesses certain properties of life, Joseph Smith seems to have taught that within each individual spirit there is a central primal intelligence (a central directing principle of life), and that man's central primal intelligence is a personal entity possessing some degree of life and certain rudimentary cognitive powers before the time the human spirit was organized.13

For this reason, Joseph Smith wrote that "Man was also in the beginning with God. Intelligence, or the light of truth, was not created or made, neither indeed can be."14 In other words, man's basic essence or primal intelligence is as eternal as God's.

The Mormon God, by organizing this world out of preexistent matter, has granted these organized spirits the opportunity to receive physical bodies, pass through mortality, and eventually progress to godhood just as this opportunity was given him by his Father God. Consequently, if human persons on earth faithfully obey the precepts of Mormonism they, too, can attain godhood like Elohim before them.

Based on the statements of Mormon leaders, some LDS scholars contend that a premortal spirit is "organized" by God through "spirit birth." In this process, human spirits are somehow organized through literal sexual relations between our Heavenly Father and one or more mother gods, whereby they are conceived and born as spirit children prior to entering the mortal realm (although all human persons prior to spirit birth existed as intelligences in some primal state of cognitive personal existence).15 Since the God of Mormonism was himself organized (or spirit-birthed) by his God, who himself is a "creation" of yet another God, and so on ad infinitum, Mormonism therefore teaches that the God over this world is a contingent being in an infinite lineage of gods.16 Thus, Mormonism is a polytheistic religion.

Comparing the Mormon concept with the classical Christian concept of God (see the chart for a breakdown of this comparison17), Mormon philosopher Blake Ostler writes:

In contrast to the self-sufficient and solitary absolute who creates ex nihilo (out of nothing), the Mormon God did not bring into being the ultimate constituents of the cosmos neither its fundamental matter nor the space/time matrix which defines it. Hence, unlike the Necessary Being of classical theology who alone could not not exist and on which all else is contingent for existence, the personal God of Mormonism confronts uncreated realities which exist of metaphysical necessity. Such realities include inherently self-directing selves (intelligences), primordial elements (mass/energy), the natural laws which structure reality, and moral principles grounded in the intrinsic value of selves and the requirements for growth and happiness.18

Mormonism therefore teaches a metaphysical pluralism in which certain basic realities have always existed and are indestructible even by God. In other words, God came from the universe; the universe did not come from God (although he did form this planet out of preexistent matter).

It follows from what we have covered that in the Mormon universe there are an infinite number of intelligent entities, such as gods (exalted humans) and preexistent intelligences. If this is denied, however, the Mormon must somehow reconcile a finite number of these beings with an infinite past. For instance, if there is only a finite number of gods in a universe with an infinite past, then there was a time when no gods existed (which Joseph Smith denies19). For a finite number of gods coming into being cannot be traced back infinitely. Moreover, if there is only a finite number of gods, then the continually repeated scenario of a god organizing intelligences so that they can begin their progression to godhood would have never begun. This is so because in Mormonism one needs a god in order for another to become a god, and no being has always been a god.

Furthermore, if there were only a finite number of preexisting intelligences in the infinite past, then there could no longer be any preexistent intelligences who could become gods, since they would all certainly be "used up" by now. An infinite amount of time is certainly sufficient to use up a finite number of preexistent intelligences. At any rate, in order for Mormonism to remain consistent, it must teach that there is an infinite number of gods and preexistent intelligences in an infinitely large universe.


SOME PHILOSOPHICAL PROBLEMS WITH THE MORMON CONCEPT OF GOD

In our two books, Dr. Parrish and I deal with a number of philosophical problems with the Mormon concept of God.20 In this article I will present three of these. Because of space constraints, however, I cannot reply to all the possible Mormon responses to these problems. For this reason, I refer the reader to the detailed replies in my two books.


The Problem of an Infinite Number of Past Events

It is evident from what we have covered that Mormonism teaches that the past series of events in time is infinite or beginningless. Joseph Fielding Smith, the Mormon church's tenth prophet and president, writes that Joseph Smith "taught that our Father had a Father and so on."21 Heber C. Kimball, who served as First Counselor in the church's First Presidency, asserts that "we shall go back to our Father and God, who is connected with one who is still farther back; and this Father is connected with one still further back, and so on...."22 Apostle and leading doctrinal spokesman Bruce R. McConkie writes that "the elements from which the creation took place are eternal and therefore had no beginning."23 O. Kendall White, a Mormon sociologist, points out that because Mormon theology assumes metaphysical materialism it "not only assumes that God and the elements exist necessarily, but so do space and time. In contrast, traditional Christian orthodoxy maintains that space and time, along with everything else except God, exist because God created them."24

There are several philosophical and scientific problems in asserting that the series of events in the past is beginningless. Philosopher William Lane Craig has developed four arguments two philosophical and two scientific along these lines.25 In this article, I will apply Craig's second philosophical argument to the Mormon concept of God:

(Premise 1) If the Mormon universe is true, then an infinite number (or distance) has been traversed.
(Premise 2) It is impossible to traverse an infinite number (or distance).
(Conclusion) Therefore, the Mormon universe is not true.

Premise 1 is certainly true. We have seen already that the Mormons fully acknowledge that the past is infinite. And if it is infinite, then certainly an infinite number of events has been traversed to reach today.

But can an infinite number actually be traversed, as premise 2 denies? I think it is clear that it cannot. Consider the following example.

Imagine that I planned to drive on Interstate 15 from my home in Las Vegas to the Mormon temple in Salt Lake City. The distance is 450 miles. All things being equal, I would eventually arrive in Salt Lake. But suppose the distance was not 450 miles, but an infinite number. The fact is that I would never arrive in Salt Lake, since it is by definition impossible to complete an infinite count. An "infinite" is, by definition, limitless. Hence, a traversed distance by definition cannot be infinite. Consequently, if I did eventually arrive in Salt Lake City, this would only prove that the distance I traveled was not infinite after all. That is to say, since I could always travel one more mile past my arrival point, arriving at any point proves that the distance I traveled was not infinite.

Now, let us apply this same logic to the Mormon universe. If the universe had no beginning, then every event has been preceded by an infinite number of events. But if one can never traverse an infinite number, one could never have arrived at the present day, since to do so would have involved traversing an infinite number of days. In order to better understand this, philosopher J. P. Moreland provides this example:

Suppose a person were to think backward through the events in the past. In reality, time and the events within it move in the other direction. But mentally he can reverse that movement and count backward farther and farther into the past. Now he will either come to a beginning or he will not. If he comes to a beginning, then the universe obviously had a beginning. But if he never could, even in principle, reach a first moment, then this means that it would be impossible to start with the present and run backward through all of the events in the history of the cosmos. Remember, if he did run through all of them, he would reach a first member of the series, and the finiteness of the past would be established. In order to avoid this conclusion, one must hold that, starting from the present, it is impossible to go backward through all of the events in history.

But since events really move in the other direction, this is equivalent to admitting that if there was no beginning, the past could have never been exhaustively traversed to reach the present moment.26

It is clear, then, that premises 1 and 2 are true. Given the fact that the argument is valid, the conclusion therefore follows: the Mormon universe is not true. And if the Mormon universe is not true, then the Mormon God does not exist, since his existence is completely dependent on the existence of the Mormon universe.


The Problem of Eternal Progression with an Infinite Past

In this second objection, unlike the first, I am arguing that even if we assume that the past series of events in time is infinite, it is impossible for the Mormon doctrine of eternal progression to be true. Although Dr. Parrish and I present three arguments for this view in one of our books,27 I will limit myself to one argument in this article.

Mormon theology teaches that all intelligent beings have always existed in some state or another and progress or move toward their final eternal state. McConkie writes:

Endowed with agency and subject to eternal laws, man began his progression and advancement in pre-existence, his ultimate goal being to attain a state of glory, honor, and exaltation like the Father of spirits....This gradually unfolding course of advancement and experience a course that began in a past eternity and will continue in ages future is frequently referred to as a course of eternal progression.

It is important to know, however, that for the overwhelming majority of mankind, eternal progression has very definite limitations. In the full sense, eternal progression is enjoyed only by those who receive exaltation.28

Here is the problem: if the past series of events in time is infinite, we should have already reached our final state by now. Yet, we have not reached our final state. Therefore, the Mormon world view is seriously flawed.

The Mormon may respond by arguing that we have not yet reached our final state because there has not been enough time for it to have transpired. But this is certainly no solution, since the Mormon's own world view affirms that an infinite length of time has already transpired. One cannot ask for more than an infinite time to complete a task.

We must conclude, then, that since none of us has reached his or her final state whether it be deity or some posthumous reward or punishment the past series of events in time cannot be infinite in the sense the Mormon church teaches. For even if we assume that the past is infinite, since we have not yet reached our inevitable fate the Mormon world view is still false.


The Problem of Achieving Omniscience by Eternal Progression

McConkie explains the Mormon doctrine of eternal progression when he writes that "during his [an evolving intelligence] earth life he gains a mortal body, receives experience in earthly things, and prepares for a future eternity after the resurrection when he will continue to gain knowledge and intelligence" (D&C 130:18-19). McConkie then states that the God of this world (Elohim) went through the same process until he reached a point at which he was "not progressing in knowledge, truth, virtue, wisdom, or any of the attributes of godliness."29 That is to say, the Mormon God progressed from a point of finite knowledge until he reached a point of omniscience (infinite knowledge). I believe, however, that this view is incoherent. Consider the following inductively strong argument:

(Premise 1) A being of limited knowledge gaining in knowledge entails the increasing of a finite number.

(Premise 2) Starting from a finite number, it is impossible to count to infinity.

(Premise 3) The Mormon view of eternal progression entails a being of limited knowledge gaining in knowledge until his knowledge is infinite (remember, the Mormon universe contains an infinite number of things).

(Conclusion 1/Premise 4) Therefore, the Mormon view cannot be true, for it is impossible given premises 1, 2, and 3 for eternal progression to entail that a being of limited knowledge gains knowledge until his knowledge is infinite.

(Premise 5) The Mormon doctrine of eternal progression is entailed by the Mormon concept of God.

(Conclusion 2) Therefore, the Mormon concept of God is incoherent.

Let us review each of these premises. Premise 1 is clearly true: Mormon theology teaches that all beings are limited in knowledge unless or until they attain godhood (see D&C 130:18-19). Consequently, every time one of these beings acquires a new item of knowledge on his or her journey to godhood it amounts to an increase in a finite number of items of knowledge.

Premise 2 asserts that it is impossible to count to infinity if one starts at a finite number. For example, if one begins counting 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and so on no matter when one stops counting one can always add one more member to the count. But if one can always add one more member, then one can never arrive at an infinite number which is, by definition, limitless. To use an example cited earlier, one can never arrive in a city an infinite distance away, since it is impossible to complete a count (or a distance) which has a limitless number of members.

Premise 3 that the Mormon view of eternal progression entails that a being of limited knowledge gains in knowledge until his knowledge is infinite (since there are an infinite number of things for the Mormon god to know in his universe) is a doctrine clearly taught by Joseph Smith:

Here, then, is eternal life to know the only wise and true God; and you have 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....When you climb up a ladder, you must begin at the bottom, and ascend step by step, until you arrive at the top; and so it is with the principles of the gospel you must begin with the first, and go on until you learn all the principles of exaltation.30 (emphasis added)

Therefore, given that premises 1, 2, and 3 are established as valid, then conclusion 1 logically follows. And if conclusion 1 is linked with premise 5 (a foundational belief of Mormon theism), the final conclusion of the argument logically follows: the Mormon concept of God is incoherent.

Someone may argue that the Mormon God receives his infinite knowledge from his own "Heavenly Father" God all at once when he reaches a particular point in his progression. Although there are a number of replies to this argument,31 one is to point out that this response does not really explain how the Mormon God acquires his infinite knowledge. It merely places the problem on the shoulders of a more distant God, who acquired his supposed omniscience from an even more distant God, and so on into infinity.

Appealing to an endless series of contingent beings as an explanation for why all the Mormon gods are omniscient explains nothing. Consider the following: If Being A does not have the sufficient reason for his omniscience in the being who created him (Being B), but requires other prior conditions (i.e., B receiving his omniscience from his creator, Being C, and C receiving his omniscience from his creator, Being D, ad infinitum), then the necessary conditions for the omniscience of any one of the gods in the series are never fulfilled and can never be fulfilled in principle. It follows from this that none of the gods in the Mormon universe could have ever actually attained omniscience. Whether a Mormon god "progresses" to infinite knowledge or receives it all at once from his own superior God, the Mormon concept of God is nevertheless incoherent.

In conclusion, I began this article by defining both the Christian and Mormon concepts of God, showing them to be radically different. I then presented three related philosophical criticisms of the Mormon concept of God: (1) the problem of an infinite number of past events; (2) the problem of eternal progression with an infinite past; and (3) the problem of achieving omniscience by eternal progression. I believe these criticisms clearly demonstrate that philosophically the Mormon concept of God is irredeemably flawed.


Francis J. Beckwith, Ph.D. is Lecturer of Philosophy at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He is the author of five books, including The Mormon Concept of God: A Philosophical Analysis (Edwin Mellen Press, 1991) and See the Gods Fall: A New Approach to Christian Apologetics (Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1993), both of which he coauthored with Dr. Stephen E. Parrish.


NOTES

1 E.g., Walter R. Martin, The Maze of Mormonism, 2d ed. (Santa Ana, CA: Vision House, 1978); Jerald and Sandra Tanner, The Changing World of Mormonism (Chicago: Moody Press, 1980).
2 Francis J. Beckwith and Stephen E. Parrish, The Mormon Concept of God: A Philosophical Analysis, Studies in American Religion, vol. 55 (Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press, 1991); Beckwith and Parrish, See the Gods Fall: A New Approach to Christian Apologetics (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1993); Beckwith and Parrish, "The Mormon God, Omniscience, and Eternal Progression," Trinity Journal 12NS (Fall 1991):127-38.
3 Saint Augustine, City of God (Garden City, NY: Image Books, 1958), 5.10.
4 Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, I, 25, 3, as contained in Introduction to Saint Thomas Aquinas, ed. Anton C. Pegis (New York: The Modern Library, 1948), 231.
5 Some contemporary theists have denied this classical view of omniscience, claiming that God does not know the future. They do not deny, however, that God knows everything. Like many Mormon thinkers, they argue that since the future is not a thing (because it has not happened yet), it is impossible for God to know it. For a defense of this position, see Clark Pinnock, "God Limits His Knowledge," in Predestination and Free Will, eds. David Basinger and Randall Basinger (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1986), 141-62. For the opposing view, see the responses to Pinnock by John Feinberg, Norman L. Geisler, and Bruce Reichenbach, 163-77.
6 Although all orthodox Christians agree that God is eternally God, they dispute whether He exists in time (i.e., the temporal eternity view) or out of time (i.e., the timeless eternity view). See Thomas V. Morris, Our Idea of God: An Introduction to Philosophical Theology (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1991), 119-38; and Ronald H. Nash, The Concept of God (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1983), 73-83.
7 It is true that by His power God grants power to His creatures. But unlike this hypothetical other God, their limited power is always subject to His unlimited power. Thus God "possesses" all power in that all other power comes from, and is under, His power.
8 Orthodox Christians all agree that God is in some sense necessary, but they do not all agree on what that means. See Morris, 107-13; and Nash, 106-13.
9 For example, Gary James Bergera, ed., Line Upon Line: Essays in Mormon Doctrine (Salt Lake City, UT: Signature Books, 1989); Sterling M. McMurrin, The Philosophical Foundations of Mormon Theology (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1959); Sterling M. McMurrin, The Theological Foundations of the Mormon Religion (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1965); Blake Ostler, "The Mormon Concept of God," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 17 (Summer 1984):65-93; David Lamont Paulsen, The Comparative Coherency of Mormon (Finitistic) and Classical Theism (Ann Arbor, MI: University Microfilms, 1975); Kent Robson, "Omnis on the Horizon," Sunstone 8 (July-August 1983):21-23; Kent Robson, "Time and Omniscience in Mormon Theology," Sunstone 5 (May-June 1980):17-23; and O. Kendall White, Jr., Mormon Neo-Orthodoxy: A Crisis Theology (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1987), 57-67.
10 James B. Allen, "Emergence of a Fundamental: The Expanding Role of Joseph Smith's First Vision in Mormon Religious Thought," Journal of Mormon History 7 (1980):43-61; Thomas G. Alexander, "The Reconstruction of Mormon Doctrine: From Joseph Smith to Progression Theology," Sunstone 5 (July/August 1980):32-39; Boyd Kirkland, "The Development of the Mormon Doctrine of God," in Bergera, 35-52.
11 Neal A. Maxwell, "A More Determined Discipleship," Ensign (February 1979):69-73; Neal A. Maxwell, All These Things Shall Give Thee Experience (Salt Lake City: Deseret Books, 1979).
12 Ostler cites four Mormon leaders who have held views consistent with this view of omniscience: presidents Brigham Young, Wilford Woodruff, and Lorenzo Snow; and scholar B. H. Roberts. See Ostler, 76-78.
13 Hyrum L. Andrus, God, Man and the Universe (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1968), 175.
14 D&C 93:29.
15 Bruce McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2d ed. (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966), 386-87, 516-17, 750-51.
16 See Joseph Smith, History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (hereafter HC), 7 vols., introduction and notes, B. H. Roberts, 2d rev. ed. (Salt Lake City: The Deseret Book Company, 1978), 6:305-12.
17 This chart, changed slightly for this article, originally appeared in Beckwith and Parrish, The Mormon Concept of God, 38.
18 Ostler, 67.
19 Joseph Smith declares, "Hence, if Jesus had a Father, can we not believe that He had a Father also?...." (HC, 6:476). See also McConkie, 577.
20 Ibid., chapters 3 and 4; and Beckwith and Parrish, See the Gods Fall, chapter 3.
21 Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 3 vols. (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1959), 1:12.
22 Journal of Discourses, by Brigham Young, President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, His Two Counsellors, the Twelve Apostles, and Others, 26 vols., reported by G. D. Watt (Liverpool: F. D. Richards, 1854-86), 5:19.
23 McConkie, 77.
24 White, 61.
25 William Lane Craig, The Kalam Cosmological Argument (New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., 1979). A popular version of his arguments can found in his The Existence of God and the Beginning of the Universe (San Bernardino, CA: Here's Life Publishers, 1979).
26 J. P. Moreland, Scaling the Secular City (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1987), 29.
27 Beckwith and Parrish, The Mormon Concept of God, 59-63.
28 McConkie, 238-39.
29 Ibid., 239.
30 HC, 6:306-7.
31 See Beckwith and Parrish, The Mormon Concept of God, 75-76.

 

CHRISTIAN MORMON
1. Personal and incorporeal    1.Personal and corporeal (embodied)
2. Creator and sustainer of contingent existence 2. Organizer of the world, but subject to the laws  and principles of a beginningless universe
3. Omnipotent 3. Limited in power
4. Omniscient 4. Limited in knowledge
5. Omnipresent in being 5. Localized in space
6. Immutable and eternal  6. Mutable and not eternal (as God)
7. Necessary and the only God 7. Contingent and one of  many gods
CONCEPT OF GOD CONCEPT OF GOD

 



TOPICS: Heated Discussion
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1 posted on 02/13/2003 6:03:04 PM PST by scripter
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To: drstevej; Wrigley; RnMomof7; CARepubGal; CCWoody; Elsie; P-Marlowe; computerjunkie; ...
Ping.
2 posted on 02/13/2003 6:03:44 PM PST by scripter
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To: scripter
Frank is one of my Philosopher-heroes. Thanks
3 posted on 02/13/2003 6:11:26 PM PST by LiteKeeper
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To: scripter
***5. Localized in space***

Specifically in space nigh unto Kolob!
Article looks interesting. Will read.
4 posted on 02/13/2003 6:16:46 PM PST by drstevej
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To: scripter
printed
5 posted on 02/13/2003 6:58:06 PM PST by Wrigley
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To: scripter
For later read..I will say I scanned the chart ..we have a very different God..
6 posted on 02/13/2003 7:13:26 PM PST by RnMomof7
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To: scripter; drstevej; RnMomof7
Will read later.

I can say that in my experience Francis Beckwith is one of the smartest guys I've had the pleasure to hear or read. He's a Law Professor and a serious Christian apologist. Though I haven't read it yet, I believe one can safely assume that this article is well reasoned and well researched. Lets see if it can be sucessfully critiqued.

7 posted on 02/13/2003 7:46:56 PM PST by P-Marlowe
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To: scripter
Thanks! This is good reading.
8 posted on 02/13/2003 8:00:44 PM PST by CARepubGal
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To: scripter; P-Marlowe; CARepubGal; White Mountain; CubicleGuy; Utah Girl; rising tide; Grig; Rad_J; ..
FOUNDER OF THE ~ Christian Research Institute

Dr. Walter R. Martin

1. Was Dr. Martin an ordained minister?
2. Does Dr. Martin claim a Doctor's Degree that he doesn't have?
3. Is Dr. Martin's degree legitimate?
4. Did Walter Martin lie about being a descendant of Brigham Young?
5. Did Walter lie about having a suit against the church?
6. Is Walter Martin interested in being accurate?
Also: Walter R. Martin - Historical Figures in the Christian Counter Cult Movement

Good man to defend your view

"Birds of Feather Flock Togather!"

BTW that chart is greatly distorted! But what does anyone care who continues to Bare False Witness Right!

9 posted on 02/13/2003 8:33:58 PM PST by restornu
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To: restornu
Ok you start with an ad-hominem attack on the author. That means you have no ammunition to attack his statements or his conclusions. So once again rest, you are firing blanks. Then you say that the Chart is distorted, but you don't sy how. Hey rest, if the chart is distorted, then enlighten us. Don't just accuse everyone of lying. If you want to spread the truth, then do it. If you have some disagreements with the body of the article, then express them

Frankly I don't think you have a clue. So maybe you should call in your reinforcements.

10 posted on 02/13/2003 9:09:03 PM PST by P-Marlowe (you have got to learn how to be gods yourselves...yeah , right! no thanks, I'll pass on that apple.)
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To: P-Marlowe
You really are delusional - the guy is a deceiver and you want me to address his lies -- I been there done that! umteen times I am tired of it!

Be my guess to continues to believe this invalidating evidence.

You made your choice! You can continue to vacillate somedays you can honor the Lord and somedays you can honor yourself. For grace is all you need!

11 posted on 02/13/2003 9:27:32 PM PST by restornu
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To: P-Marlowe
BTW Ok you start with an ad-hominem attack on the author

I think it was the author who started this and made a good living off of it! And the gravy train coninues today:)

12 posted on 02/13/2003 9:29:35 PM PST by restornu
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To: restornu
the guy is a deceiver and you want me to address his lies

Explain what it is about the article that is inaccurate or deceitful. I bet you can't because up to now the only weapon in your arsenal is an ad-hominem attack on the founder of the Organization that posted his article. Why don't you deal with Beckwith's article. could it be because you have no arguments and all you have is your ad-homnem attacks. I'd be willing to bet that you can't refute a single point.

Prove me wrong.

13 posted on 02/13/2003 9:40:56 PM PST by P-Marlowe (LDS debating strategy-- When you can't refute the arguments-- which is always--attack the author.)
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To: restornu
But nothing on the merits of the argument itself.
14 posted on 02/13/2003 9:41:50 PM PST by A.J.Armitage
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To: scripter
While the Mormon concept of deity may be interesting to some, I find this "Christian" concept of deity far more perplexing. Let's take a closer look:

1. Personal and Incorporeal...God is also incorporeal. Unlike humans, God is not uniquely associated with one physical entity (i.e., a body). This is why the Bible refers to God as Spirit (John 4:24).

So does God have a body or not? Well, uh, sometimes. Christ came to earth as a mortal. He died and was resurrected. Did he later shed that resurrected body and become a "spirit" again? (We won't even get into whether a spirit is "incorporeal" or not.)

2. The Creator and Sustainer of Everything Else that Exists...the God of classical theism created the universe ex nihilo (out of nothing). Consequently, it is on God alone that everything in the universe depends for its existence (see Acts 17:25; Col. 1:16, 17; Rom. 11:36; Heb. 11:3; 2 Cor. 4:6; Rev. 4:11).

Check all the above references. Not a single "ex nihilo" in any of them. Perhaps this doctrine was created out of nothing.

3. Omnipotent. God is also said to be omnipotent or all-powerful. This should be understood to mean that God can do anything that is (1) logically possible (see below), and (2) consistent with being a personal, incorporeal, omniscient, omnipresent, immutable, wholly perfect, and necessary Creator.

Let's see now. God is all powerful, but he is not. He cannot do that which is logically impossible. Is God restricted by the illogical or merely the impossible? Perhaps "logical" and "impossible" are attributes which humans have assigned to God based on their own (mis)understanding of Him. At any rate, I find this whole argument logically impossible.

4. Omniscient. God is all-knowing, and His all-knowingness encompasses the past, present, and future.

The future? Been there done that.

5. Omnipresent. Logically following from God's omniscience, incorporeality, omnipotence, and role as creator and sustainer of the universe is His omnipresence. Since God is not limited by a spatio-temporal body, knows everything immediately without benefit of sensory organs, and sustains the existence of all that exists, it follows that He is in some sense present everywhere. Certainly it is the Bible's explicit teaching that God is omnipresent (Ps. 139:7-12; Jer. 23:23-24).

The above scriptures are used to illustrate that we cannot "hide" from God. He can "see" us wherever we are, or from wherever He is. That doesn't mean He is everywhere at all times.

6. Immutable and Eternal. When a Christian says that God is immutable and eternal, he or she is saying that God is unchanging (Mal. 3:6; Heb. 6:17; Isa. 46:10b) and has always existed as God throughout all eternity (Ps. 90:2; Isa. 40:28; 43:12b, 13; 57:15a; Rom. 1:20a; 1 Tim. 1:17).6 There never was a time when God was not God.

Did God's nature change when he "became" a mortal and suffered death on the cross? Did God really "die," and if so, how could he still be God?

7. Necessary and the Only God.

The Jews could also use this to argue that Jesus Christ is not God.

What surprises me most about this particular "Christian concept of God," is that not once is Jesus Christ mentioned. Is/Are not Jesus and God one and the same? Why have the left the Saviour out of their philosophy of God?

15 posted on 02/13/2003 10:23:11 PM PST by wai-ming
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To: scripter
Read thru this last night. I'm glad you posted this as it helped me understand a book I'm currently reading much better.

The author makes a strong case in this short article. I'm sure his books are that much better.
16 posted on 02/14/2003 4:51:29 AM PST by Wrigley
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To: P-Marlowe; restornu
I'm convinced that rest doesn't read these articles. She probably has some talking points memo next to her that she consults when certain names come up. Then she know what site the Mormon Church wants her to use to "discredit" the person.

Its all in her programming. GIGO
17 posted on 02/14/2003 4:54:26 AM PST by Wrigley
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To: scripter
There are a few nuggets of truth here but it's mostly subjective interpretation, once again, of what someone outside the faith THINKS that "Mormons" believe.

For example, although you MIGHT take the view that God is "subject to external laws," in fact His "oneness" with divine laws is what MAKES Him "God" in the first place.

Also, the notion that there are "many gods" is a vast oversimplification.

We can posit that there are "co-equal gods" but that is mere speculation. In fact, for us there is but ONE God, our Eternal Heavenly Father. There is no other. We worship no other. We contemplate no other. We are connected with no other. So the notion of "plurality of gods" is an academic exercise only, akin to wondering where the end of the universe might be.

And although it is true that we know that God has a physical, tangible body, the notion that this "limits" Him somehow is itself a limitation of mortal, physical experience. In fact it is WE who are limited, not God. Simply because we are coincidentally physical AND limited in our reach or influence does not mean that physicality is the root cause of our limitation.

In short, attempts at making "lists" like this are such vast oversimplifications as to be almost meaningless.

18 posted on 02/14/2003 5:35:27 AM PST by Illbay (If the hunger for liberty destroys order, the hunger for order will destroy liberty. - Will Durant)
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To: restornu
I think it is safe to say that Walter Martin has been about as thoroughly debunked as any religious demagogue who ever lived.

He is the embodiment of "Chri$tianity."

19 posted on 02/14/2003 5:36:49 AM PST by Illbay (If the hunger for liberty destroys order, the hunger for order will destroy liberty. - Will Durant)
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To: P-Marlowe
I just did. See above.

This is such a vast oversimplification, and reflects only the desire to distort so as to "attack," that it is a meaningless exercise.

If you want to say "oh, you see the universe differently from me, and I can't accept that," that's fine. I have no problem with it.

But don't go putting out distorted "explanations" of what "Mormons" believe, and then base your conclusion on those distortions. You don't understand our beliefs, because you don't WANT to understand. They threaten you, and so you don't want to hear it.

It's like the young man, a devout Baptist, who wanted to talk to me about how "wrong" I was to believe in the Book of Mormon. On what did he base this? He had just been to a seminar where a Chri$tian preacher told him what my beliefs were.

Then I offered him a Book of Mormon, and said "here, why don't you simply read it for yourself, and find out what it's all about?"

He held up both hands in a "warding off" gesture and said "no, I can't touch that unclean book!"

I mean, give me a break! Since when did Baptists start believing in the "magical power" of inanimate objects? And how can you belittle something you know nothing about, save what someone ELSE has told you about it?

It's just preposterous.

I have NO problem with someone believing differently from me, and even rejecting my beliefs based on what they actually KNOW about them. But it is tiresome to hear the same lies and distortions spouted constantly, and then have those LIES be the basis of judgement. It's intellectually dishonest, as well as vapid.

20 posted on 02/14/2003 5:43:42 AM PST by Illbay (If the hunger for liberty destroys order, the hunger for order will destroy liberty. - Will Durant)
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To: wai-ming
Why have the left the Saviour out of their philosophy of God?

It's a good question. The only plausible answer I can come up with is that the poster has not yet paid for that series of lessons yet.

21 posted on 02/14/2003 5:45:47 AM PST by Illbay (If the hunger for liberty destroys order, the hunger for order will destroy liberty. - Will Durant)
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To: wai-ming
The reason the "Christian" philosophy of God outlined does not mention Christ is that it is a product of the Western Christian preference for speculation over experience (note the only Church Father quoted in the piece is Blessed Augustine), and is really a piece of Hellenistic philosophy rather than Christian theology.

In the Christian East, a "philosophy of God" which is not grounded in the Church's experience of God as the All-Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, is a non-starter.

Incidentally for Orthodox and Latin Christians, though not for protestants, the doctrine of creation ex nihilo is Biblical: there is a passage in one of the books of the Maccabees (I don't have it to hand) in which a Jewish woman, exhorting her sons to steadfastness unto death in the face of Hellenistic pagan persecution speaks of God creating the world out of nothing. At least among the Orthodox, she and her sons are numbered among the saints of the Old Covenant, and commemorated on our calendar.

22 posted on 02/14/2003 6:28:14 AM PST by The_Reader_David
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To: The_Reader_David
Thanks for your detailed response. It's good to examine where this is "philosophy" is coming from. I find this particularly interesting:

The reason the "Christian" philosophy of God outlined does not mention Christ is that it is a product of the Western Christian preference for speculation over experience (note the only Church Father quoted in the piece is Blessed Augustine), and is really a piece of Hellenistic philosophy rather than Christian theology.

Whew!

23 posted on 02/14/2003 9:38:35 AM PST by wai-ming
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To: P-Marlowe
I can say that in my experience Francis Beckwith is one of the smartest guys I've had the pleasure to hear or read. He's a Law Professor and a serious Christian apologist. Though I haven't read it yet, I believe one can safely assume that this article is well reasoned and well researched.

Oh, really? See my #15 above. This "Christian Concept of God" is full of holes. Care to discuss/debate it?

Let's see if it can be sucessfully critiqued.

Yes, let's.

24 posted on 02/14/2003 9:48:22 AM PST by wai-ming (l)
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To: Illbay; restornu; drstevej; P-Marlowe; RnMomof7; OrthodoxPresbyterian; scripter; nobdysfool
In short, attempts at making "lists" like this are such vast oversimplifications as to be almost meaningless.

I think I've figured it out. You can't argue logic with Mormons because logic doesn't apply. We can't cite their scriptures because we have no hope of possibly interpreting them correctly (if we show that their scripture proves a position they don't like, then we must not be reading or interpreting it correctly). We can't cite the Bible definitively because either it's been tampered with or without their scriptures to supplement it we only have one piece of the puzzle. We can't cite any sort of error or personal failing of Joseph Smit because we're attacking and not addressing the real issue. We can't post the works of any other Christian theologian or apologist because they're all easily proven to be liars and hypocrites (unlike Joseph Smith). We can't use logic because...wait, I already said that one.

Basically, all non-Mormon's have no business doing anything except believing and affirming Mormon theology because it's the truth and that's that. How do we know it's the truth? Well, we can't rely on our own logic or understanding, and we can't rely on God because it's our responsibility and not His. I can only think of two possible influences left...physiological change and Satan. Until you can show me the chemical reason for my rejection of Mormonism, I'll bet my carnal logic and less-than-theistic existence on the latter. I think the burning in my bosom is just from the fried fish I had for lunch.

25 posted on 02/14/2003 10:09:06 AM PST by Frumanchu (mene mene tekel upharsin)
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To: restornu; Wrigley
I don't know if there's any history between you two on this issue. A cursory search turned up the following:

1. Was Dr. Martin an ordained minister?
2. Does Dr. Martin claim a Doctor's Degree that he doesn't have?
3. Is Dr. Martin's degree legitimate?

From The biography of Walter Martin

The Reverend Walter Martin held four earned degrees and received his education at Stony Brook School and Shelton College. He completed his Master's degree at New York University, and his Ph.D. at California Western University.

Rev. Walter Martin was an ordained minister and a member of the Southern Baptist Convention. He maintained an active pulpit ministry and taught every Sunday at the Newport Mesa Christian Center in Costa Mesa, California.

Dr. Martin held membership in the American Academy of Religion, The Society of Biblical Literature, the Evangelical Theological Society, the National Association of Religious Broadcasters and the National Association of Evangelicals. He served for 15 years as a founding board member of the Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Hamilton, Massachusetts and was a Professor in the M.A. program at the Simon Greenleaf School of Law in Anaheim, California.

Articles on Walter Martin can be found in Who's Who in the West, Who's Who in Religion, The Dictionary of American Biography, Community Leaders and Noteworthy Americans, The International Registry of Profiles, Men of Achievement, Who's Who in Intellectuals, The International Register of Biographies, and Community Leaders of the World.

Was there supposed to be some disagreement about Walter Martin's degrees? If so, I don't see justification for it from the biography.
26 posted on 02/14/2003 1:21:15 PM PST by scripter
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To: Wrigley; drstevej; Frumanchu; P-Marlowe; A.J.Armitage; CARepubGal; RnMomof7; LiteKeeper
While searching for the biography on Walter Martin I found this:
Early Mormonism, Laying the Foundation

27 posted on 02/14/2003 1:28:08 PM PST by scripter
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To: scripter
Excellent article! Thanks for posting it...and thanks for the ping!
28 posted on 02/14/2003 1:36:49 PM PST by computerjunkie
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To: restornu; Wrigley
Does Dr. Walter Martin Have A Genuine Earned Doctor’s Degree?
29 posted on 02/14/2003 1:42:49 PM PST by scripter
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To: restornu; Wrigley; P-Marlowe
Sorry dear, not going to let you get away with that.

Martin's degree.

Martin's ordination (requires RealPlayer)

Martin's ordination (documents)

For those of you interested in Dr. Walter Martin's biography, see the following:

Biography

Spreading this kind of garbage does not do credit to the LDS or you, especially since it is so easily disproven.

30 posted on 02/14/2003 2:15:49 PM PST by Calvinist_Dark_Lord ("I once had the Charismatic Disease, but God Miraculously healed me"!!!!!)
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To: scripter; restornu
So instead of discussing the merits of the article, I guess we're just going to try to discredit Dr. Martin? Goodness...he didn't even WRITE the article in question.

"The Christian Research Institute (CRI) was founded in 1960 by the late Dr. Walter Martin, the first evangelical Christian clergy to recognize the threat and opportunity presented to the Christian church by cults and alternative religious systems. First Peter 3:15 was the inspiration for CRI: But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence."

Quote from here.

31 posted on 02/14/2003 2:20:32 PM PST by computerjunkie
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To: scripter; White Mountain; CubicleGuy; Utah Girl; rising tide; Grig; Rad_J; Illbay; pseudogratix
Why didn't this imformation come out when he was alive? He was asked plenty of time on the air waves?

He was asked umteen times in 1986 he all that time until he died to make corrections!

"Dr." Walter Martin Sues the LDS Church.

THE MYTH SURROUNDING WALTER MARTIN'S DEATH-

"WALTER MARTIN'S DEATH POLICE REPORT

32 posted on 02/14/2003 2:22:39 PM PST by restornu
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To: restornu; Calvinist_Dark_Lord
restornu >> ***But what does anyone care who continues to Bare False Witness Right!***

POT.KETTLE.BLACK
33 posted on 02/14/2003 2:23:23 PM PST by drstevej
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To: computerjunkie; White Mountain; CubicleGuy; Utah Girl; rising tide; Grig; Rad_J; Illbay; ...
Got a little confusion here of who is operating the Cash Cow!

"About Hank Hanegraaff Hank's Biography

IS HANK HANEGRAAFF THE RIGHTFUL PRESIDENT OF THE CHRISTIAN RESEARCH INSTITUTE?!

34 posted on 02/14/2003 2:38:18 PM PST by restornu
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To: drstevej; restornu
i don't see how it is possible to carry on a dialogue with either 1)Those who are lying; 2)Those who choose to perpuate lies.

If they lie on this matter, what else will be lied about? i really see no point in argueing with liars.

35 posted on 02/14/2003 2:40:00 PM PST by Calvinist_Dark_Lord (Where are those "golden plates" by the way?)
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To: restornu
We're still waiting on a reply to the Beckwith article.
36 posted on 02/14/2003 2:42:48 PM PST by Calvinist_Dark_Lord (Where are those "golden plates" by the way?)
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To: Calvinist_Dark_Lord
I see you do selective reading!
37 posted on 02/14/2003 2:46:54 PM PST by restornu
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To: restornu
Rest, did you bother to READ the actual article itself? Or did you just merely click on the source and go from there?



38 posted on 02/14/2003 2:51:07 PM PST by computerjunkie
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To: restornu; drstevej
Got a little confusion here of who is operating the Cash Cow!

"About Hank Hanegraaff Hank's Biography

IS HANK HANEGRAAFF THE RIGHTFUL PRESIDENT OF THE CHRISTIAN RESEARCH INSTITUTE?!

So? Christians are looking into this stuff...if it's true, we'll "stuff" Hank.

You speak as if we fear the truth, since we haven't knowingly told untruths to begin with, why would we fear the truth?

Now, about the Beckwith Article?

39 posted on 02/14/2003 2:53:43 PM PST by Calvinist_Dark_Lord (Where are those "golden plates" by the way?)
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To: restornu; drstevej
I see you do selective reading!

Why don't you tell me which sections of the bible are "mistranslated"?

Now, about Dr Beckwith's Comments?...

40 posted on 02/14/2003 2:58:13 PM PST by Calvinist_Dark_Lord (Where are those "golden plates" by the way?)
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To: The_Reader_David; wai-ming
You don't have to search through Macabees to find the principle of creation "ex-nihlo" all you have to do is look at the psalms:

Psa 33:6 By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.

The universe was spoken into existence. It was not "organized" from pre-existing material. All the material necessary to make the universe was created by God, by the breath of his mouth.

Wai-ming, if you believe that there was anything that pre-existed God, then what was it and what proof do you have to support your position?

41 posted on 02/14/2003 3:00:40 PM PST by P-Marlowe
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To: P-Marlowe
I learned in high school that "matter and energy cannot be created or destroyed, only changed from one form to another." I believe it is called The First Law of Thermodynamics.

I have no problem with a God who works within natural laws rather than circumventing them. Did God create everything out of nothing? He probably could have if He had wanted to. But perhaps matter and energy have always existed, just as God has.

Ps 33:6 By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.

Great scripture. God decreed it, and so it was done. Nothing "ex nihilo" about that.

Wasn't it Julie Andrews who sang "Nothing comes from nothing. Nothing ever will..."?

42 posted on 02/14/2003 7:13:44 PM PST by wai-ming
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To: wai-ming
I have no problem with a God who works within natural laws rather than circumventing them.

I get the feeling from your posts that you do not accept scripture as authority for your theology. Thus, I see no use in discussing the theoloigcal ramifications of the article above. If you cannot accept the scripture as autoritative, then your theology is subject to every wind of doctrine.

In response to your post, who do you think created the universe? Who set into motion this First LAW of Thermodynamics? Is the First Law of Thermodynamics superior to God?

The Bible is quite clear on this. If there is a Law of Thermodynamics it is because GOD decreed that law at the creation. God works within the natural laws because he decreed those natural laws.

Col 1:16 for in him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities--all things were created through him and for him.
Col 1:17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

Thus even the particles that make up the atmos in our universe are held together by the power of the Word of God.

If you wish to limit your God to a being who must work with existing materials to create, then you believe in a lesser God than the God revealed in the Bible.

You are free to worship such a being, but you must remember that if you are wrong about the nature of God you may be very well wrong about your status before him.

BTW if you get your theology from a Julie Andrews song, I can guarantee you that you are headed for Hell. :-)

43 posted on 02/14/2003 7:53:54 PM PST by P-Marlowe
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To: Illbay
I mean, give me a break! Since when did Baptists start believing in the "magical power" of inanimate objects?

There are an awful lot of Mormons who believe in the magical power of "R" rated movies...

44 posted on 02/14/2003 8:00:54 PM PST by CubicleGuy
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To: P-Marlowe
If you wish to limit your God to a being who must work with existing materials to create, then you believe in a lesser God than the God revealed in the Bible.

But what if the materials did exist from all eternity?

Would God be guilty of "waste" if He were to create the universe out of new material when there were already perfectly good atoms, just waiting to be used?

45 posted on 02/14/2003 8:09:50 PM PST by CubicleGuy
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To: CubicleGuy; wai-ming
But what if the materials did exist from all eternity?

Perhaps you didn't read the verses. Try diagraming these sentences:

Col 1:16 for in him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities--all things were created through him and for him.
Col 1:17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

Now Cubicle. What part of "all things" do you fail to understand? Are not these atoms -- that you claim existed from all eternity -- "things?" Do you believe that these atoms somehow came into existence without being spoken into existence by God?

Was there a universe before God created it?

The Bible says that the universe and everything that exists in it was created by the God that I worship.

I know that the god that some people worship had nothing to do with the creation of the universe. This is not the God of the Bible.

What, Cubicle, do you believe that God evolved and that the universe somehow evolved before God? Did the physical universe exist before the spirtual realm? Is God merely a product of the nature of the physical universe, or is God the creator of the physical universe like it says in the Bible?

Hmmmm?

46 posted on 02/14/2003 8:27:48 PM PST by P-Marlowe
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To: P-Marlowe
Take a deep breath, P-Marlowe.

You invited us to "critique" the article and ideas found therein. If this "Christian Concept of God" does not hold water, shouldn't we expose its logical flaws so that they might be corrected?

This is a Religious forum where ideas can be discussed openly. If one can bring unique perspectives from a background in science, Buddhism, or even atheism, to the debate, should he not be allowed to do so? Or must everything that doesn't support your particular theology be expunged?

The Jews love to debate theology. It hones their thinking skills. Certainly, Christian doctrines can withstand the scrutiny of deep questioning. What are you so afraid of, P?

I know you are a lawyer, and that as such, you have to frame every debate so that you must win.

But in religious issues, it helps to have an open mind. That's how I first learned about Christianity. And that's the only way I can continue to learn more.

47 posted on 02/14/2003 8:53:40 PM PST by wai-ming
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To: wai-ming
Look Wai ming you made a statement about the First Law of thermodynamics and I answered your point. In response you jump on me and tell me to hold my breath and accuse me of being afraid to debate Christian doctrines and not having an open mind.

Well you never answered my points. Instead you start into a personal attack on me and accuse me of trying to frame the debate so that I will win because I'm a lawyer and that's what lawyers do.

Well if you would spend as much time thinking about coming up with an intelligent response as you did coming up with reasons to attack my character, then maybe we could have an intelligent discussion.

So how about it? Do you think you can answer my points? Or are you satisfied accusing me of being a chicken and leaving it at that?

48 posted on 02/14/2003 9:06:43 PM PST by P-Marlowe
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To: wai-ming; P-Marlowe
I learned in high school that "matter and energy cannot be created or destroyed, only changed from one form to another." I believe it is called The First Law of Thermodynamics.

Did you also learn Newtonian laws of Physics? If so, you can see that you might just be over simplifying your explanation.

I have no problem with a God who works within natural laws rather than circumventing them. Did God create everything out of nothing? He probably could have if He had wanted to. But perhaps matter and energy have always existed, just as God has.

The very existence of matter and energy begs the question "where did these things come from?".

Your statement confuses me somewhat. First you say that you have no problem with a God who works within natural laws, then you admit that God "probably" could have created Ex Nhilo if He had wanted to.

First, from a purely naturalistic view, your statement about the "laws" of thermodynamics is flawed (as well as the rest of the physical "laws"). Current Scientific thinking is that as the time elapsed from the "big bang" approaches zero, the "laws of physics" do not apply. Again, this is an argument from scientific theory only. If natural laws change it follows that God is not subject to them. Second: If you are honestly looking for a creation ex nhilo text in the bible, here it is:

pavnta di` aujtouÖ ejgevneto, kai; cwri;ß aujtouÖ ejgevneto oujde; e&n. o^ gevgonen

John 1:3 UBS 4th ed Text

Literal translation: All (things) through him became [came into existence], and apart (from) him came into existence not even one (thing) that came into existence and yet exists.

Wasn't it Julie Andrews who sang "Nothing comes from nothing. Nothing ever will..."?

i never was a big fan of Julie Andrews, though i saw "Mary Poppins" when it originally came out...now if you want to discuss the songs of Dar Williams or the late Kate Wolf, that is another matter

What i would really like to know is what you would consider as "proof"?

49 posted on 02/14/2003 9:18:32 PM PST by Calvinist_Dark_Lord (Where are those "golden plates" by the way?)
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To: Calvinist_Dark_Lord; wai-ming; CubicleGuy
Hey CDL, that's a pretty good response... for a Calvinist ;-)

Ok wai ming. You stated that the article is flawed. You claim you can refute it. You wanted this debate. So, how about answering some of the questions we have posed?

Hmmm?

50 posted on 02/14/2003 9:27:56 PM PST by P-Marlowe
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