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Did Dr. Mouw Get It Wrong? New Jets Essay Says Yes!


David Waltz

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Ronald V, Huggins (associate professor of historical and theological studies at Salt Lake Theological Seminary) wrote the following essay that was published in the most recent issue of Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society (49.3 â?? Sept. 2006, pp. 549-568): â??LORENZO SNOWâ??S COUPLET: â??AS MAN NOW IS, GOD ONCE WAS; AS GOD NOW IS, MAN MAY BEâ??; â??NO FUNCTIONING PLACE IN PRESENT-DAY MORMON DOCTRINE?â?? A RESPONSE TO RICHARD MOUWâ?.

From the essay:

During his appearance with Ravi Zacharias in the Mormon Tabernacle on November 14, 2004, Fuller Seminary President Richard Mouw apologized on behalf of evangelicals for â??bearing false witnessâ? against Mormons. When challenged about his remarks, Mouw sent out an e-mail identifying places where he felt evangelicals had misrepresented Mormon teaching. Among these was the claim that â??Mormonism teaches that God was once a human being like us, and we can become gods just like God is now,â? a belief, Mouw goes on to assure us, that has â??no functioning place in present-day Mormon doctrine.â?

The rest of the essay goes on to examine Snowâ??s famous â??coupletâ? from historical, theological, and current usage perspectives, which leads Huggins to conclude that â??Mouw is simply incorrectâ?.

Given the responses by many LDS posters in some recent threads here at FAIR, it sure seems that Huggins is correct in asserting that it was Mouw who got it wrong, and the â??apologyâ? he gave back in 11/04 in the Tabernacle was na

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How can the couplet have â??no functioning place in present-day Mormon doctrine?â? It's the very center of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the New Testament. God became flesh so that men could become like God. There is a reason Christ commands us to be perfect. There is a reason why the Atonement makes us joint heirs with Christ.

For years the first principle taught in the discussions was about God and how he created a plan to help us become as He is. I just dont understand how anyone could conclude otherwise.

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here's an alternative explanation for such a couplet given by David Paulsen (although I'm not sure that he believes it, he gave teh explanation anyway).

Was Jesus a man (as in mortal being who died on the cross)? Is Jesus a God? (yes). Then Jesus was once what we are, and we may become what he is now.

Does it make sense? I dont think that is how Lorenzo Snow believed it, but it is an alternative explanantion that some intelligent mormons apparently espouse.

ILA

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Hello Avatar,

You wrote:

>>How can the couplet have â??no functioning place in present-day Mormon doctrine?â? It's the very center of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the New Testament. God became flesh so that men could become like God. There is a reason Christ commands us to be perfect. There is a reason why the Atonement makes us joint heirs with Christ.>>

Me: That is how I understand the couplet and I know that a few Latter-day Saints (notably, Blake Ostler) also understand Snowâ??s couplet that way; but, as the essay points out, that was not the understanding of the early Saints, nor many present day Saints (for examples see this thread: http://www.fairboards.org/index.php?showtopic=19138 ).

Grace and peace,

David

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William C, it is the height of absurdity to say that Adam-God doctrine was the core of Brigham Young's belief.

It was talked about for a while, sure. But it was never pressed on the Church by BY or anyone else. And it was definitively shot down by Spencer Kimball, speaking as the Prophet, in the 1970s.

As for Bro. Snow's couplet. This, too, would be absurd to call the core of Mormon belief. Which is why President Hinckley said he did not know much about it. (A national talk show was certainly not the right place to be talking about it, anyway, which Bro. Hinckley was well aware...)

But unlike Adam-God doctrine, I happen to think that Snow's couplet is accurate, because of our recognition that God and the human family are the same species.

A concept that IS at the core of the our belief...

As for Mouw's apology. Surely it was warranted, since EVs have a LOT to apologize for, with their constant harassment and bigotry against any one who won't tow their party line.

Beowulf

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The rest of the essay goes on to examine Snowâ??s famous â??coupletâ? from historical, theological, and current usage perspectives, which leads Huggins to conclude that â??Mouw is simply incorrectâ?.

Given the responses by many LDS posters in some recent threads here at FAIR, it sure seems that Huggins is correct in asserting that it was Mouw who got it wrong, and the â??apologyâ? he gave back in 11/04 in the Tabernacle was na

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Hello Hawkmoon,

You wrote:

>>There is something rather sad about this statement... to retract an apology due to bearing false witness (your example appears to be but one example) against mormons, and showing intolerance towards them-- seems rather against the teachings of Christ, does it not? It also seems rather petty... and makes your Grace and peace sign off all the more ironic.>>

IMHO, you are confusing the issues at hand. Note again what Huggins wrote:

>>During his appearance with Ravi Zacharias in the Mormon Tabernacle on November 14, 2004, Fuller Seminary President Richard Mouw apologized on behalf of evangelicals for â??bearing false witnessâ? against Mormons. When challenged about his remarks, Mouw sent out an e-mail identifying places where he felt evangelicals had misrepresented Mormon teaching. Among these was the claim that â??Mormonism teaches that God was once a human being like us, and we can become gods just like God is now,â? a belief, Mouw goes on to assure us, that has â??no functioning place in present-day Mormon doctrine.â?>>

The essay is addressing whether or not evangelicals have misrepresented what Mormons actual believe; it has nothing to do with intolerance, that is a separate issue, and one that I am certain needs to be addressed by ALL types Christians, not just EV's.

Now, if I say that you believe X, but you actually believe Y, then I need to repent, and adjust my thinking. But if you really do believe X, then there is no need of repentance.

Moving on, if I persecute you for believing either X or Y then I need to repent, for that would be intolerance. And in my defense, I sincerely believe that when it comes to the LDS faith, I have been, and am, anything but intolerant.

Grace and peace,

David

P.S. I am the same David Waltz who wrote the two following reviews:

http://farms.byu.edu/display.php?table=review&id=361

http://www.fairlds.org/Mormonism_201/m20100b.html

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Hello Beowulf,

You wrote:

>>As for Mouw's apology. Surely it was warranted, since EVs have a LOT to apologize for, with their constant harassment and bigotry against any one who won't tow their party line.>>

If Mouwâ??s apology was for EVâ??s â??constant harassment and bigotry against any one who won't tow their party lineâ?, then I agree whole heartedly; however, if the apology was for misrepresentation, well, that is a totally different issue, and one that Mouw seems be in error on.

Grace and peace,

David

P.S. I totally agree with your statements concerning the â??Adam-Godâ? doctrine.

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"[T]his doctrine is accepted and taught by the Brethren... It is clear that the teaching of President Lorenzo Snow is both acceptable and accepted doctrine in the Church today." -Hoyt W. Brewster Jr., "I Have a Question," Ensign, Feb. 1982

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Hi Pahoran,

You posted:

>>Mouw is certainly correct. Evangelical anti-Mormons have been bearing false witness against us for generations. His apology was correct, timely and appropriate.

However, I agree that the example he offered in support was perhaps not the best one to hand.>>

I found the following quote from Mouwâ??s address online (there are many sites that have it):

I am now convinced that we evangelicals have often seriously misrepresented the beliefs and practices of the Mormon community. Indeed, let me state it bluntly to the LDS folks here this evening: we have sinned against you. The God of the Scriptures makes it clear that it is a terrible thing to bear false witness against our neighbors, and we have been guilty of that sort of transgression in things we have said about you.

What is the false witness that Dr. Mouw is referring too? It sure seems to me the context pertains to â??seriouslyâ? misrepresenting â??the beliefs and practices of the Mormon communityâ?; hence my question: did Dr. Mouw actually misrepresent â??the beliefs and practices of the Mormon communityâ?? Once again, given many of the responses I have read here on the FAIR mb, he did not commit the sin he felt that he did...am I all wet on this?

Grace and peace,

David

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What is the false witness that Dr. Mouw is referring too? It sure seems to me the context pertains to â??seriouslyâ? misrepresenting â??the beliefs and practices of the Mormon communityâ?; hence my question: did Dr. Mouw actually misrepresent â??the beliefs and practices of the Mormon communityâ?? Once again, given many of the responses I have read here on the FAIR mb, he did not commit the sin he felt that he did...am I all wet on this?

Grace and peace,

David

Dear David:

I thought, though I could be wrong, that evangelical criticisms of Mormonism were far in excess of the teaching which Mouw actually specified. Pahoran appears correct.

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What is the false witness that Dr. Mouw is referring too? It sure seems to me the context pertains to â??seriouslyâ? misrepresenting â??the beliefs and practices of the Mormon communityâ?; hence my question: did Dr. Mouw actually misrepresent â??the beliefs and practices of the Mormon communityâ?? Once again, given many of the responses I have read here on the FAIR mb, he did not commit the sin he felt that he did...am I all wet on this?

I do think it ironic that Mouw should now apologize to LDS for misrepresenting their position on the Lorenzo Snow couplet, a misrepresentation expressed in an apology for misrepresenting LDS...

Perhaps some of us evangelicals have misrepresented Mormonism by asserting that it presently believes what can be considered deprecated or disputed beliefs.

Stop linking the anti-mormon wiki please. If you have something to say do it without anti-mormon links and cut 'n paste. -mods

As for the regular countercultists, the most serious and heavy of criticism has been targeted toward King Follet Discourse theology and the Mormon idea of exaltation via personal worthiness. I think the confusion comes with Millet and others' rhetoric and neo-orthodoxy. Millet now claims to believe in justification by faith alone, and Mormon academia seems to retract or obsfuscate the traditional LDS position concerning the Lorenzo Snow couplet. When Mouw interacts with this crowd, and then looks down over at the traditional countercult movement, he perhaps sees a disparity.

Laymen, in the meantime, continue to believe much of traditional Mormon theology. Concerning this, Mouw should have taken the counsel and wisdom of those doing evangelical ministry to Mormons seriously.

One more note: I believe I also read somewhere an appeal by Mouw to Hinckley's public interviews, where he [insert your favorite LDS apologetic here] at the question on the topic of the Lorenzo Snow couplet theology. There's no denying the fact that Hinckley has NOT clarified the Mormon organization's position on Lorenzo Snow couplet theology.

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Hi Lognormal,

You wrote:

>>I thought, though I could be wrong, that evangelical criticisms of Mormonism were far in excess of the teaching which Mouw actually specified. Pahoran appears correct.>>

As an owner of over 150 anti-Mormon books (the majority of which are written by EVâ??s) there is no doubt in my mind that many â??evangelical criticisms of Mormonism were far in excess of the teaching which Mouw actually specifiedâ?. However, Mouw sure seemed to be a bit more specific; in other words, I do not think he was merely addressing general criticisms, but felt that EVâ??s were misrepresenting what Mormons actually believe, and included himself as one who had done so.

I just found the following online and shall let Dr. Mouw himself inform us as to what he meant to convey as to the content of the said misrepresentations:

http://www.standingtogether.org/Responses_mouw.doc

From the above:

On

a more technical point, I have received emails in the past few days where evangelicals have said that Mormonism teaches that God was once a human being like us, and we can become gods just like God now is. Mormon leaders have specifically stated that such a teaching, while stated by past leaders, is something they don't understand and has no functioning place in present-day Mormon doctrine. Bob Millet has made the same point to many of us, and Stephen Robinson insisted, in the book he co-authored with Craig Blomberg, that this is not an official Mormon teaching, even though it can be found in non-canonical Mormon writings.

Would it be accurate to say that certain â??Mormon leadersâ?, Bob Millet, and Stephen Robinson espouse a minority opinion on the above? If so, is it truly misrepresentation to say that Snowâ??s couplet and Josephâ??s King Follet discourse do in fact have a â??functioning place in present-day Mormon doctrineâ??

Grace and peace,

David

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Would it be accurate to say that certain â??Mormon leadersâ?, Bob Millet, and Stephen Robinson espouse a minority opinion on the above? If so, is it truly misrepresentation to say that Snowâ??s couplet and Josephâ??s King Follet discourse do in fact have a â??functioning place in present-day Mormon doctrineâ??

It would be more accurate to say that Millet and Robinson are not, in fact, Mormon leaders - understood implicitly as those who actually lead in the Church (don't they work at BYU?). In fact, I think it is accurate to say that Snow's couplet and the KFD don't, in fact, have a fuctioning place in present-day Mormon teachings. I haven't really heard them referred to over the pulpit very frequently at all recently.

This isn't to say that I don't believe the doctrine, and so forth, but it is to say that I don't teach it myself when asked to teach, and am not aware of others who do.

I hope I have adequately addressed your question.

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Hi Pahoran,

You posted:

>>Mouw is certainly correct. Evangelical anti-Mormons have been bearing false witness against us for generations. His apology was correct, timely and appropriate.

However, I agree that the example he offered in support was perhaps not the best one to hand.>>

I found the following quote from Mouwâ??s address online (there are many sites that have it):

I am now convinced that we evangelicals have often seriously misrepresented the beliefs and practices of the Mormon community. Indeed, let me state it bluntly to the LDS folks here this evening: we have sinned against you. The God of the Scriptures makes it clear that it is a terrible thing to bear false witness against our neighbors, and we have been guilty of that sort of transgression in things we have said about you.

What is the false witness that Dr. Mouw is referring too? It sure seems to me the context pertains to â??seriouslyâ? misrepresenting â??the beliefs and practices of the Mormon communityâ?; hence my question: did Dr. Mouw actually misrepresent â??the beliefs and practices of the Mormon communityâ?? Once again, given many of the responses I have read here on the FAIR mb, he did not commit the sin he felt that he did...am I all wet on this?

Grace and peace,

David

I read his "we" as meaning something like "we as a community" rather than "my friends and I." That is, he used the first person plural because he's an EV too, not because he personally participated. Thus, his "we" is exactly symmetrical to the "you" in the same statement--I know of no EV propaganda that traduces the beliefs of James W. Jones from Sugar House, by name.

If Dr. Mouw thought that EV's were bearing false witness against us when they assert that we believe in Exaltation, he was wrong. However, there are plenty of other ways in which the EV "countercult" industry does indeed bear false witness. As just one single solitary example, there exists a certain anti-Mormon Wiki site that asserts, among other things, that the Saints are "atheological." Although a fairly minor point, I registered with it and attempted to correct the entry to read that the Church has no systematic theology, and that therefore some might think we are atheological. The correction was rolled back, the falsehood reinstated, and my registration cancelled. The administrators of that site are so determined to propagate their blatant lies that they won't permit the correction of even the most minor ones.

Regards,

Pahoran

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Even if it no longer has an explicit "functioning place" in contemporary Mormon teaching, isn't this a different question of whether contemporary Mormons still believe it? Also, Mormon vernacular is often "pregnant with meaning", i.e. when Gospel Principles says we can "become like our Heavenly Father", many LDS understand it with the traditional meaning, something that used to be more explicitly articulated.

"We can become Gods like our Heavenly Father. This is exaltation." (P. 290, 1978)

"We can become like our Heavenly Father. This is exaltation." (p. 302, 1997)

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Pahoran, please see the following essay:

http://ia301119.us.archive.org/0/items/Why...ading_Draft.rtf

Appealing to an obscure essay by an unknown student--did you have his permission to reproduce it? does not justify your false witness-bearing. You insist on telling our story, and refuse to let us speak for ourselves. Even if you were scrupulously trying to stick to the facts--and we both know you are not--such an approach is ipso facto false witness-bearing.

And of your industry, I expect nothing else.

Regards,

Pahoran

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Hello Hawkmoon,

IMHO, you are confusing the issues at hand. Note again what Huggins wrote:

>>During his appearance with Ravi Zacharias in the Mormon Tabernacle on November 14, 2004, Fuller Seminary President Richard Mouw apologized on behalf of evangelicals for “bearing false witness” against Mormons. When challenged about his remarks, Mouw sent out an e-mail identifying places where he felt evangelicals had misrepresented Mormon teaching. Among these was the claim that “Mormonism teaches that God was once a human being like us, and we can become gods just like God is now,” a belief, Mouw goes on to assure us, that has “no functioning place in present-day Mormon doctrine.”>>

The essay is addressing whether or not evangelicals have misrepresented what Mormons actual believe; it has nothing to do with intolerance, that is a separate issue, and one that I am certain needs to be addressed by ALL types Christians, not just EV's.

I'm afraid I didn't confuse "the issues at hand"... note where I have highlighted in the above quote. In this quote there were obviously several issues at hand as your statement attests to-- yet, only one was discussed, or debunked if you will, and from that one instance it was estrapolated that he (Mouw) should retract his apology. Are you saying that his other claims are now debunked as well? Or are you saying there really wasn't any other issues? If so, I'm confused at the many heated issues that EV's bring up in this forum as well as other places, as to why we are so, so wrong. Furthermore, "bearing false witness" denotes some level of intolerance on the face of it... so, I have yet to see the error of my ways.

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Hi Hawkmoon,

Thanks for responding. You wrote:

>>Are you saying that his other claims are now debunked as well? Or are you saying there really wasn't any other issues?>>

Me: Huggins' essay specifically addressed the Snow couplet, Josephâ??s King Follet discourse of 04-07-1844, and Josephâ??s â??last public discourseâ? of 06-16-1844, the doctrines presented therein, and whether or not said doctrines are still believed and promulgated in what Huggins calls â??recent timesâ?.

Mouw in the site I linked to ( http://www.standingtogether.org/Responses_mouw.doc ) specifically mentions other perceived doctrinal misrepresentationsâ??I think it best that you read the material for yourself.

>>If so, I'm confused at the many heated issues that EV's bring up in this forum as well as other places, as to why we are so, so wrong. Furthermore, "bearing false witness" denotes some level of intolerance on the face of it... so, I have yet to see the error of my ways.>>

The last thing I want to do in my dialogue with faithful Mormons is to misrepresent what they actually believeâ??I sincerely want to â??get it rightâ?. With that said, it sure seems to me that Mouw is getting some things wrong, and may have committed the very error he was attempting to correct in his Tabernacle address.

As for posters here at FAIR, I personally cannot count the number of times I have been chided (by both Mormons and non-Mormons) for asserting that the doctrines espoused by Joseph in the above two mentioned discourses (and Snowâ??s couplet) â??are not official doctrines of the CoJCoLDSâ?, and may in fact contain false doctrine/s.

Anyway, I shall be looking forward to your comments on Mouwâ??s thoughts as contained at the above link.

Grace and peace,

David

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Anyway, I shall be looking forward to your comments on Mouw’s thoughts as contained at the above link.

Grace and peace,

David

I'm afraid I am not sure how to proceed... it would take far too long to make a running commentary on what he has said; however, in reading this article it is apparant that my original response (and his apology) is quite spot on. Furthermore, I think it would behoove the EV "sect" to adopt his position as it is a great improvement over the current one. By this I do not mean to imply that they (the EV's) are coming closer to adopting our views or Mormonism in general, but rather, it emphasizes the commonality in our beliefs and allows respectful disagreement. In the current environement this is NOT the case! In the end, I do not think that Mr. Huggins' has much of a leg to stand on.

On the specific issue at hand he writes:

"On a more technical point, I have received emails in the past few days where evangelicals have said that Mormonism teaches that God was once a human being like us, and we can become gods just like God now is. Mormon leaders have specifically stated that such a teaching, while stated by past leaders, is something they don't understand and has no functioning place in present-day Mormon doctrine."

There are two sections to this issue one being God as human, and the other being man as God. While I do believe that most members hold the latter to be truthful, on the former it becomes much less clear what most think. I do think that it is clear what official doctrine on this is-- it is NOT canonical and we "don't understand' what this really means. IMO, this is far more accurate than the replies you have received in this thread. Could it mean that God the Father was once human as we are? Perhaps. Could it be talking about Jesus? Perhaps. Could it be referring to being part of the same species? Perhaps. Could we become Gods? I think this is a clearer and the answer is yes. Of course, when you ask what is meant by being a god the answer becomes far more muddled. The only truthful answer to this is "we don't know what is meant by this." This shouldn't be shocking as christian sects do NOT know what much of what the Bible means... not an insult, but an indication of how little is clarified.

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"On a more technical point, I have received emails in the past few days where evangelicals have said that Mormonism teaches that God was once a human being like us, and we can become gods just like God now is. Mormon leaders have specifically stated that such a teaching, while stated by past leaders, is something they don't understand and has no functioning place in present-day Mormon doctrine."

I think Mouw was probably trying to address the way this is twisted. I think he is correct that we don't talk about becoming just like God is now. As far as I am aware there is not a belief that gets articulated that God will cease being our superior. The EV twist is that we replace God. He has had much contact with many LDS scholars...I was at one conference Fuller held that had several BYU profs and the mutual love and respect was palpable. I would give Mouw the benefit of the doubt on this.

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Hello once more Hawkmoon,

You posted the following:

>>I do think that it is clear what official doctrine on this is-- it is NOT canonical and we "don't understand' what this really means. IMO, this is far more accurate than the replies you have received in this thread. Could it mean that God the Father was once human as we are? Perhaps. Could it be talking about Jesus? Perhaps. Could it be referring to being part of the same species? Perhaps.>>

Me: Now, the above is pretty much what I was hoping someone would articulate. As I pointed out earlier, I have said pretty much the same on quite a few occasions, but when I have done so, I was bluntly told that I do not understand official Mormon doctrine. As such, I hope you can understand my sense of frustration over this issue.

You also wrote:

>>Could we become Gods? I think this is a clearer and the answer is yes. Of course, when you ask what is meant by being a god the answer becomes far more muddled. The only truthful anser to this is "we don't know what is meant by this." This shouldn't be shocking as christian sects do NOT know what much of what the Bible means... not an insult, but an indication of how little is clarified.>>

Me: That redeemed mankind will become Gods is, IMHO, a clear teaching of the Bible; the doctrine is also clearly taught in the writings of the early Church Fathers, and by many Catholic theologians and mystics. (BTW, I have been working on a book on deification over the last few years and have from time to time posted some of my research on this mb, and others.)

I have appreciated your reflections, and shall look forward to further constructive dialogue.

Grace and peace,

David

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