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Libs

Polytheism

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I'm LDS, and I do not reject the label because I believe in calling a spade a spade.

It might be more precise to say that calling Mormons polytheists is like calling a spade a shovel. It's true, more or less, but calling it a spade gives you an idea of the size and what kind of shoveling will be done with it. We believe that there is more than one god across all of existence, but they do not comprise a pantheon, nor do we worship any god but Eloheim.

The terms "monotheistic" and "polytheistic" are tricky. Hindus, for example, believe that there is a single divine entity with numerous manifestations. In that sense, they believe that there is one god, but worship numerous gods because those numerous gods are all "parts" of the one god. (This idea reminds me of the creeds.) If we call Hindus polytheists, it ignores the fact that they only believe in one god. If we call them monotheists, it ignores the fact that they worship that god through many identities.

Believing in multiple gods but only worshipping one is called monolatry. Henotheism is a subtype of polytheism wherein people believe that there are multiple gods, but that one of them is the chief god who rules over the others.

Seeing as how we belief in a "God of gods," Heavenly Father, I'd classify Mormons as henotheists. In general Mormons worship only the Father, but I suspect they would not object to worshipping the Son if he appeared among them (as the Nephites and Lamanites do in The Book of Mormon), so I don't know that we'd be considered strictly monolatrous.

The definitions of Henotheism and Monolatry that I'm familiar with differ slightly. Based on their respective Wikipedia articles:

  • Henotheism: The belief in multiple gods, the consistent worship of only one such god, and the belief that another god can be worshiped with equal validity.
  • Monolatry: The belief in multiple gods, the consistent worship of one, and the denial that any other god can be worshiped with validity.

I would consider Monolatry a better (though still imperfect) fit, as we reject the children of Eloheim can worship exalted Abraham with any validity. The only issue is whether or not the three-ness of the Godhead qualifies as worshiping a pantheon.

(Sorry Libs), if I've derailed this topic, I just need to state/ask one last thing... tss, is this the reason we have the worship services that we do, ie: no hallelujuhs etc, in our church? We don't choose to glorify Him too much?

A non-religious friend of mine once told me that "if there is a god, he doesn't need me to remind him that he's cool." I was surprised by the answer for a moment, as I've never thought of "reminding God that he's cool" as being the purpose of going to sacrament meeting. In fact, the opposite might be true: I go to sacrament to remind myself of what I have promised Him to do and contemplate the sacrifice that Christ made to make my efforts worth while.

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snapback.pngDBMormon, on 30 August 2012 - 02:55 PM, said:

you say we pray to heavenly father but The God of the old testament is Jehovah.... so who were they actually praying to? who did they think they were praying to?

I don't think they made that distinction. They were praying to God, plain and simple.

I think that is a incomplete answer. As far as Old Testament believers go they are told there is one God. The great I am. They worship him and pray to him. From Old Testament scripture it seems on some level they are vaguely if at all aware of Jehovah's father. To them Jehovah is the father. The Book of Mormon reiterated this point (even stronger before changes to it were made to make it less confusing to this generation who are aware of the Godhead). The New Testament gets it right but it explains at least in part why so many jews had trouble accepting him for what he claimed to be.

Old Testament for the most part worshipped, recognized, and prayed to Christ as the Father.

It also expplains in part why Elder Ballard wishes us to de-emphasize Christ as our elder brother and emphasize him as our Father in the gospel covenant (didn't old testament believers enter a gospel covenant? - http://en.fairmormon...rother_of_Satan

Elder M. Russell Ballard cautioned members of the Church: We occasionally hear some members refer to Jesus as our Elder Brother, which is a true concept based on our understanding of the premortal life with our Father in Heaven. But like many points of gospel doctrine, that simple truth doesn't go far enough in terms of describing the Savior's role in our present lives and His great position as a member of the Godhead. Thus, some non-LDS Christians are uncomfortable with what they perceive as a secondary role for Christ in our theology. They feel that we view Jesus as a spiritual peer. They believe that we view Christ as an implementor for God, if you will, but that we don't view Him as God to us and to all mankind, which, of course, is counter to biblical testimony about Christ's divinity… Now we can understand why some Latter-day Saints have tended to focus on Christ's Sonship as opposed to His Godhood. As members of earthly families, we can relate to Him as a child, as a Son, and as a Brother because we know how that feels. We can personalize that relationship because we ourselves are children, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters. For some it may be more difficult to relate to Him as a God. And so in an attempt to draw closer to Christ and to cultivate warm and personal feelings toward Him, some tend to humanize Him, sometimes at the expense of acknowledging His Divinity. So let us be very clear on this point: it is true that Jesus was our Elder Brother in the premortal life, but we believe that in this life it is crucial that we become "born again" as His sons and daughters in the gospel covenant.[2]

So with all that said, do you acknowledge that Old Testament believers in the only true God considered that God to be Jehovah and though hinted to it seems they were practically unaware of Elohim or better put Jehovah's father?

Edited by DBMormon
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Also good talks on Christ as the Father

- http://rsc.byu.edu/archived/book-mormon-treasury/24-doctrine-god-father-book-mormon

- http://www.lds.org/ensign/2002/06/finding-jesus-christ-in-the-old-testament

- http://byutv.org/wat...5f-7134f11c4aba

Other then introducing his son Heavenly Father seems to remain in the background

Edited by DBMormon
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snapback.pngDBMormon, on 30 August 2012 - 02:55 PM, said:

you say we pray to heavenly father but The God of the old testament is Jehovah.... so who were they actually praying to? who did they think they were praying to?

I think that is a incomplete answer. As far as Old Testament believers go they are told there is one God. The great I am. They worship him and pray to him. From Old Testament scripture it seems on some level they are vaguely if at all aware of Jehovah's father. To them Jehovah is the father. The Book of Mormon reiterated this point (even stronger before changes to it were made to make it less confusing to this generation who are aware of the Godhead). The New Testament gets it right but it explains at least in part why so many jews had trouble accepting him for what he claimed to be.

Old Testament for the most part worshipped, recognized, and prayed to Christ as the Father.

It also expplains in part why Elder Ballard wishes us to de-emphasize Christ as our elder brother and emphasize him as our Father in the gospel covenant (didn't old testament believers enter a gospel covenant? - http://en.fairmormon...rother_of_Satan

So with all that said, do you acknowledge that Old Testament believers in the only true God considered that God to be Jehovah and though hinted to it seems they were practically unaware of Elohim or better put Jehovah's father?

I'm not saying they were unaware. I'm saying they probably didn't use the terms "Elohim" and "Jehovah" the same way we do. We tend to separate the Father from the Son too much and I think we shouldn't do that. The Son is the Father in almost every way the Father is. They are one.

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I'm pretty sure Trinitarians would disagree with you.

No, you just missed the point he was making.

We are in the same way they are, if they can be called polytheistic.

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I wanted to ask this question here, because it is sincerely perplexing to me.

Critics very often accuse LDS of being polytheistic, because 1. LDS believe that Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost are three separate Gods (One in Purpose); 2. Because the church teaches that members can become like their Heavenly Father, which suggests there are many "gods"; 3. The standard response, to questions about this has always been, "we only worship One God"...yet I have seen Apostles and others say that they worship Jesus Christ, as well.

Merriam Webster Definition of "polytheism":

"belief in or worship of more than one god."

My question is, why do LDS reject the polytheistic label, and why do they consider that label offensive?

Ever heard of some people who believe in only one God while also believing there is more than one person who is that one God?

One God + more than one person who is that one God = only one "kind" of being who is that one God.

Edited by Ahab
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You crack me up.

Poly want a cracker?
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I don't mind if there is Thor or Cthulu. I will still be LDS and worship God Almighty.

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I wanted to ask this question here, because it is sincerely perplexing to me.

Critics very often accuse LDS of being polytheistic, because 1. LDS believe that Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost are three separate Gods (One in Purpose); 2. Because the church teaches that members can become like their Heavenly Father, which suggests there are many "gods"; 3. The standard response, to questions about this has always been, "we only worship One God"...yet I have seen Apostles and others say that they worship Jesus Christ, as well.

Merriam Webster Definition of "polytheism":

"belief in or worship of more than one god."

My question is, why do LDS reject the polytheistic label, and why do they consider that label offensive?

Let's beat that dead horse. I'm open to the idea that this topic has more to do with defining or redefining "polytheism" and "monotheism" than discussing the characteristics of Mormonism in terms that everyone can understand. People can make "polytheism" mean whatever they want it to mean. Clearly, the concept of polytheism has not developed with Mormonism as a central issue, which is why we are now having difficulty with whether the term applies or not. Even "henotheism" and "monolatry" are misleading.

This is my 2¢ if you are interested and have the patience. I probably won't have much to say in this thread that is new:

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No, you just missed the point he was making.

We are in the same way they are, if they can be called polytheistic.

No, I didn't miss that point. But, Trinitarians do attempt to make an argument for One God, by describing the Godhead as one in essence. One Being, One God. It's not very coherent, but they do make the attempt.

Edited by Libs
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Supersnail, thank you for the links. I'll look through them, as I have time.

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Supersnail...wow, I can see you really have some knowledge on this subject. There is a LOT there. I can see, just from a fairly quick browse that you have made, what appears to be, quite a substantive argument for Mormonism as monotheistic.

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So with all that said, do you acknowledge that Old Testament believers in the only true God considered that God to be Jehovah and though hinted to it seems they were practically unaware of Elohim or better put Jehovah's father?

I have dealt with this matter several times on this board, but will only summarize here:

Israelites were well aware of both Elohim and Jehovah as the title of the same God. The KJV normally translates Elohim as "God," and Jehovah (Yahweh) as "LORD" (in caps). They are virtually interchangeable titles (not names as we understand them). There were two kingdoms which kept separate records and had separate histories, the northern kingdom of Israel, and the southern kingdom of Judah. The religious compilation of the north is usually referred to by scholars as the Elohistic Document (E), and the one from the south as the Yahwistic Document (J). Presumably the Brass Plates of Laban was an E Document, and this is made likely by the fact that Lehi was descended from the northern tribe of Manasseh, and that the Book of Mormon itself is an E Document (as demonstrated by John Sorenson). These two documents were edited into one Bible as we have it today (along with a number of other documents).

How do we know for certain that these two terms were interchangeable? Aside from the careful work of scholars on the Documentary Hypothesis, we can look most immediately at the book of Psalms, which is composed of separate northern and southern collections of Psalms. Some are duplicate psalms, except for the preference for the northern term in one version and the southern term in the other. Thus we speak of Elohistic and Yahwistic Psalms.

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Israelites were well aware of both Elohim and Jehovah as the title of the same God. The KJV normally translates Elohim as "God," and Jehovah (Yahweh) as "LORD" (in caps). They are virtually interchangeable titles (not names as we understand them).

I agree as to Elohim, but not as to the name YHWH. Elohim was a generic title for God, but YHWH was a specific name. It was the name of one particular Hebrew god, among many. El was also the name of one particular Hebrew god, and in most surviving writings, El and YHWH were identified with each other much as Jupiter is identified with Zeus. But Elohim is interchangeable with YHWH only in the sense that "god" is interchangeable with "Zeus." The commandment about "taking the LORD's name in vain" was talking about the name YHWH.

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I have dealt with this matter several times on this board, but will only summarize here:

Israelites were well aware of both Elohim and Jehovah as the title of the same God. The KJV normally translates Elohim as "God," and Jehovah (Yahweh) as "LORD" (in caps). They are virtually interchangeable titles (not names as we understand them). There were two kingdoms which kept separate records and had separate histories, the northern kingdom of Israel, and the southern kingdom of Judah. The religious compilation of the north is usually referred to by scholars as the Elohistic Document (E), and the one from the south as the Yahwistic Document (J). Presumably the Brass Plates of Laban was an E Document, and this is made likely by the fact that Lehi was descended from the northern tribe of Manasseh, and that the Book of Mormon itself is an E Document (as demonstrated by John Sorenson). These two documents were edited into one Bible as we have it today (along with a number of other documents).

How do we know for certain that these two terms were interchangeable? Aside from the careful work of scholars on the Documentary Hypothesis, we can look most immediately at the book of Psalms, which is composed of separate northern and southern collections of Psalms. Some are duplicate psalms, except for the preference for the northern term in one version and the southern term in the other. Thus we speak of Elohistic and Yahwistic Psalms.

This still doesn't change that it was one God and that God was Jesus. They dealt with Jesus, God of the old testament. Heavenly Father is content to stay in the background and only shows himself when revealing his son. Jesus is the Father in as afar as the gospel is concerned though Jesus has a father who he, when he came in the flesh, acknowledged we should address his father rather then the son.

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The applicability of the "polytheism" label seems tied inversely to one's ability to grasp nuances. The less able, the more applicable it will seem.

Thanks, -Wade Englund-

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This still doesn't change that it was one God and that God was Jesus. They dealt with Jesus, God of the old testament. Heavenly Father is content to stay in the background and only shows himself when revealing his son. Jesus is the Father in as afar as the gospel is concerned though Jesus has a father who he, when he came in the flesh, acknowledged we should address his father rather then the son.

Again, I think you're separating them too much. Heavenly Father is not "content to stay in the background," ever, and that "one God" was not Jesus, it was Jesus and the Father. They act as one, they think as one, they speak as one. They are one.

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Again, I think you're separating them too much. Heavenly Father is not "content to stay in the background," ever, and that "one God" was not Jesus, it was Jesus and the Father. They act as one, they think as one, they speak as one. They are one.

But it is Jesus who is managing the earth under the direction of his father. If you ask President Monson "who is the God of the old testament?" my guess is he would answer Jesus or Jehovah (Who shall come as Jesus in the flesh.)

AlterSteve - I recognize ancient documents dicovered over time along with modern research show it to be what your saying, but I am left with church Leaders teaching my vantage point. What gives? What are we to make of all of it? By the way - this issue is not a difficult issue with me but I saw the thread and felt like we were missing a perspective.

Edited by DBMormon
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But it is Jesus who is managing the earth under the direction of his father. If you ask President Monson "who is the God of the old testament?" my guess is he would answer Jesus or Jehovah (Who shall come as Jesus in the flesh.)

AlterSteve - I recognize ancient documents dicovered over time along with modern research show it to be what your saying, but I am left with church Leaders teaching my vantage point. What gives? What are we to make of all of it? By the way - this issue is not a difficult issue with me but I saw the thread and felt like we were missing a perspective.

(Who shall come as Jesus in the flesh)

Wow, that sounds like some of what non lds christians believe!

Edited by Tacenda
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But it is Jesus who is managing the earth under the direction of his father.

Jesus is not just the "God of the Old Testament," He (along with His Father and the Holy Ghost) is the God of all the earth, throughout all eternity.

(Who shall come as Jesus in the flesh)

Wow, that sounds like some of what non lds christians believe!

Why are you implying that Mormons don't believe this?

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Jesus is not just the "God of the Old Testament," He (along with His Father and the Holy Ghost) is the God of all the earth, throughout all eternity.

Would you mind sharing if you agree that President Monson would answer Jesus when asked who the god of the old testament is/was?

Also while I agree the God head has always been as far as we are concerned the individual that believers in the Old Testament looked to as God, prayed to, and heard from.... was jesus in his premortal form

These links all testify that the church actively declares Jesus as the God of the old Testament.

http://www.lds.org/l...a____&hideNav=1

http://institute.lds...-02-gen-a-a.asp

http://www.lds.org/e...icult-questions

http://jesuschrist.l...is-jesus-christ

http://institute.lds...osp-01-10-4.asp

http://www.fairlds.o...e-old-testament

Your view seems to be in conflict with church teachings. Please expound?

Edited by DBMormon
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Jesus is not just the "God of the Old Testament," He (along with His Father and the Holy Ghost) is the God of all the earth, throughout all eternity.

Why are you implying that Mormons don't believe this?

We believe Jesus is God incarnate? And not that they're separate and distinct?

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What do you think "God Incarnate" actually means to other Christians? Is the God that is incarnated "God the Father" or "God the Son"? If God the Son, how is that different from what LDS believe?

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What do you think "God Incarnate" actually means to other Christians? Is the God that is incarnated "God the Father" or "God the Son"? If God the Son, how is that different from what LDS believe?

I guess what I thought DB was talking about, was the non-LDS Christian belief of God the father coming down and taking a physical body. So very different from the way the LDS believe which is that Jesus is the God of this earth and He came down in the flesh.

Edited by Tacenda
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the non-LDS Christian belief of God the father coming down and taking a physical body
And what Christian faith believes this?
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