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#81 Ahab

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Posted 30 August 2012 - 03:19 PM

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, 30 August 2012 - 03:48 PM.

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#82 Zakuska

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Posted 30 August 2012 - 04:16 PM

You crack me up.

Poly want a cracker?
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#83 DarkScythe

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Posted 30 August 2012 - 05:15 PM

I don't mind if there is Thor or Cthulu. I will still be LDS and worship God Almighty.
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#84 supersnail

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Posted 30 August 2012 - 05:34 PM

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:

http://www.mormondia...entry1209079082
http://www.mormondia...entry1209079099
http://www.mormondia...entry1209079290
http://www.mormondia...entry1209079587
http://www.mormondia...entry1209080081
http://www.mormondia...entry1209081526
http://www.mormondia...entry1209082458
http://www.mormondia...entry1209084592
http://www.mormondia...entry1209089870
http://www.mormondia...entry1209070351
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#85 Libs

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Posted 30 August 2012 - 10:52 PM

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, 30 August 2012 - 10:53 PM.

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#86 Libs

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Posted 30 August 2012 - 10:53 PM

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

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Posted 30 August 2012 - 11:00 PM

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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#88 Robert F. Smith

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Posted 30 August 2012 - 11:48 PM

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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#89 Cobalt-70

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Posted 31 August 2012 - 02:15 AM

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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#90 DBMormon

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Posted 31 August 2012 - 03:15 AM

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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#91 wenglund

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Posted 31 August 2012 - 08:19 AM

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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#92 altersteve

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Posted 31 August 2012 - 02:07 PM

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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#93 DBMormon

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Posted 31 August 2012 - 03:50 PM

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, 31 August 2012 - 03:51 PM.

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#94 Tacenda

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Posted 31 August 2012 - 03:59 PM

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, 31 August 2012 - 04:01 PM.

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#95 altersteve

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Posted 31 August 2012 - 04:52 PM

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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#96 DBMormon

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Posted 31 August 2012 - 05:11 PM

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, 31 August 2012 - 05:13 PM.

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#97 Tacenda

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Posted 31 August 2012 - 05:31 PM

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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#98 calmoriah

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Posted 31 August 2012 - 06:19 PM

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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#99 Tacenda

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Posted 31 August 2012 - 07:11 PM

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, 31 August 2012 - 07:16 PM.

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#100 calmoriah

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Posted 31 August 2012 - 07:16 PM

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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When you climb up a ladder, you...begin at the bottom...ascend step by step, until you arrive at the top...so it is with the principles of the Gospel--you must begin with the first...go on until you learn all the principles of exaltation. But it will be a great while after you have passed through the veil before you will have learned them. It is not all to be comprehended in this world. Joseph Smith
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