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Farms Review And Mother In Heaven.


David Waltz

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I finally got around to cracking open the last issue of The FARMS Review (19.1). After reading Dr. Petersonâ??s intro, I went to Von Feldtâ??s review of Deverâ??s Did God Have A Wife? [ http://www.farmsresearch.com/display.php?t...view&id=639 ]. I had read this book shortly after it was published, and was looking forward to what Von Feldt had to say. IMHO, a very interesting reviewâ??a review which is in essence, a bit more than just a review, but also an apologetic for the LDS doctrine of â??Mother in heavenâ?.

I have argued in the past that MIH is not an â??officialâ? LDS doctrine, and that a faithful Mormon does not have to believe this doctrine in order to receive a â??temple recommendâ??. Some MADB (then FAIR) posters agreed with me on this, others did not. However, after reading through Von Feldtâ??s contribution, I am now asking myself this question: Do any Mormons with temple recommends deny the MIH doctrine? To my knowledge, I am not aware of any (with the possible exception of one, who may be in the process of affirming it).

Now, I shall postulate that the MIH doctrine is quite â??black-and-whiteâ??â??there is either a MIH or there is not. I would also postulate that the MIH doctrine (whether true or false) carries huge implications for so many other aspects of theology as a whole such that if true, this would mean that virtually ALL other forms of â??modernâ? Christianity are false; but if there is no MIH, it would then mean that a doctrine cherished by the vast majority of temple Mormons (ALL?) is in error, casting suspicions on many other â??uniqueâ?? LDS doctrines.

Looking forward to your thoughts and comments on this issue.

Grace and peace,

David

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A Mother in Heave is a doctrine, it has been proclaimed to be true by the First Presidency.

Is it "essential" theology that "must" be believed to be a mormon? No.... Because as far as I know, God hasn't specifically stated this princple in the form of revealed scripture, i.e. binding to man.

I believe the reason this is so, is because the Lord has revealed it too the Brethren only, and is withholding the principle to only the shadows within the Church, for the world apparently isn't ready for it, and likely not reverent enough for it either.

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I'm not so sure the implications of the Heavenly Mother doctrine being false are quite so grand. There is no reason why it should result in doubt being cast out on other beliefs that have been revealed directly through scripture and through official statements from the First Presidency. If it ends up that the Mother in Heaven was just the flawed opinion of a great but nevertheless flawed prophet, that doesn't diminish what the Lord revealed directly.

But I think the existance of a Heavenly Mother is supported by the Standard Works, even if it isn't stated directly.

I would guess that the large majority of temple-recommend-holding Mormons believe in a Heavenly Mother, or at least belief it's very likely, but recognize that the Lord has not expressly revealed it. There would definitely be some, though probably a very minute amount, that are against the idea, but I would guess that they would be hard to come by.

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Joseph Antley:

"I would guess that the large majority of temple-recommend-holding Mormons believe in a Heavenly Mother, or at least belief it's very likely, but recognize that the Lord has not expressly revealed it. There would definitely be some, though probably a very minute amount, that are against the idea, but I would guess that they would be hard to come by."

Agreed.

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Do any Mormons with temple recommends deny the MIH doctrine?

I neither deny nor affirm it. I am inclined to believe that there is a Mother in Heaven, but the scriptures are essentially silent on the topic. In the absence of a scriptural basis for it, I cannot readily concede that it is "doctrine" in any binding sense.

To my knowledge, I am not aware of any (with the possible exception of one, who may be in the process of affirming it).

Count me in, I guess.

Now, I shall postulate that the MIH doctrine is quite â??black-and-whiteâ??â??there is either a MIH or there is not.

Agreed. But I think an equally germane question is this: There is either divinely-revealed information about MIH or there is not.

Is that a "black and white" question? I don't think so. I think it's rather gray. The lyrics of Oh My Father make it gray. Quotes attributed to Joseph Smith make it gray. The language in The Family: A Proclamation to the World ("All human beingsâ??male and femaleâ??are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents...") makes it gray.

This grayness, in my view, lends credence to the concept. If there were no MIH, I think the Church would have said as much. Instead, we get oblique references that, if anything, corroborate the notion.

I would also postulate that the MIH doctrine (whether true or false) carries huge implications for so many other aspects of theology as a whole such that if true, this would mean that virtually ALL other forms of â??modernâ? Christianity are false;

"False" as in missing essential tenets and authority of "true" Christianity? Okay. But that doesn't help the LDS Church, because the Church operates on truth claims that do not necessarily include the doctrine of MIH.

So this doctrine is apparently definitive, either for LDS Christians or any other type of Christians. We all seem to be operating just fine without it.

but if there is no MIH, it would then mean that a doctrine cherished by the vast majority of temple Mormons (ALL?) is in error, casting suspicions on many other â??uniqueâ?? LDS doctrines.

Not really. Non-LDS place no inherently divine value in "LDS doctrines." So it doesn't really matter if Mormons are wrong about this one particular doctrine, because we're wrong about all of our "unique" doctrines.

Latter-day Saints, on the other hand, do believe that our doctrines are divinely inspired. That they are the product of revelation. The "yardstick" by which we ascertain divinely-inspired doctrines is the Standard Works. The Standard Words are silent on the topic of Mother in Heaven. Consequently, members are free to believe as they wish. Some (many, really) believe in the doctrine, others reject it, and many are undecided pending further light and knowledge on the subject.

In short, a Latter-day Saint is free to approach the MIH doctrine in ways unavailable as pertaining to doctrines that are clearly taught in the Standard Works, that are undeniably presented to us as revealed truth. An observant Latter-day Saint is obligated to believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God. There's not a lot of wiggle room there. But is an observant Latter-day Saint obligated to profess belief in Mother in Heaven? Nope.

Interesting stuff, tho.

-Smac

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I find it really hard to believe that ANYBODY can believe that the creator is only male.

Billions of Christians throughout history have apparently believed this.

There either has to be a Heavenly mother or else God must be male and female. The very act of the creation of life (giving birth) is a female function. It's common sense.

But common sense is not always correct, is it?

-Smac

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Now, I shall postulate that the MIH doctrine is quite â??black-and-whiteâ??â??there is either a MIH or there is not. I would also postulate that the MIH doctrine (whether true or false) carries huge implications for so many other aspects of theology as a whole such that if true, this would mean that virtually ALL other forms of â??modernâ? Christianity are false; but if there is no MIH, it would then mean that a doctrine cherished by the vast majority of temple Mormons (ALL?) is in error, casting suspicions on many other â??uniqueâ?? LDS doctrines.

The review is quite interesting. I will point out that while you call it an apologetic piece, Von feldt concludes that the evidence in Dever's book does not prove the existence of a Heavenly Mother.

I'm not sure why all other forms of Christianity would be false if a MIH were a true doctrine. As long as they are capable of admitting the possibility that they do not know everything about heaven, it wouldn't make them false. Having less light and knowledge doesn't make one false, just less true.

Sargon

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Here is the full quote:

All human beingsâ??male and femaleâ??are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.

Further, if exaltation is available to men and women equally, and gender is eternal, and exaltation entails bearing spirit children, I don't see how one can deny the existence of heavenly mother(s).

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From von Feldt's review;

So I ask again, can we conclude from all this evidenceâ??Dever's archaeology, Barker's wisdom theology, and now the Book of Mormon tree of life imageryâ??that the Latter-day Saint doctrine of a Mother in Heaven is a restoration of the ancient Israelite belief in the Goddess Asherah/Wisdom?

I regretfully suggest that no, it is not. Though the Book of Mormon prophets seem to allude to Asherah, we have very little modern revelation by which to substantiate and flesh out this belief. We may not yet connect the dots between the Asherah of ancient Israel, the tree of life image in the Book of Mormon, and the very limited (though potent) modern-day prophetic teachings about a Heavenly Mother.

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I have argued in the past that MIH is not an â??officialâ? LDS doctrine, and that a faithful Mormon does not have to believe this doctrine in order to receive a â??temple recommendâ??. Some MADB (then FAIR) posters agreed with me on this, others did not. However, after reading through Von Feldtâ??s contribution, I am now asking myself this question: Do any Mormons with temple recommends deny the MIH doctrine? To my knowledge, I am not aware of any (with the possible exception of one, who may be in the process of affirming it).

Now, I shall postulate that the MIH doctrine is quite â??black-and-whiteâ??â??there is either a MIH or there is not. I would also postulate that the MIH doctrine (whether true or false) carries huge implications for so many other aspects of theology as a whole such that if true, this would mean that virtually ALL other forms of â??modernâ? Christianity are false; but if there is no MIH, it would then mean that a doctrine cherished by the vast majority of temple Mormons (ALL?) is in error, casting suspicions on many other â??uniqueâ?? LDS doctrines.

Interesting thought process. :P

First you start out stating that teachings concerning our MIH are not "official" LDS doctrine, and then you seem to suggest that if teachings concerning our MIH are not true that would cast suspicion on other 'unique" LDS doctrines.

I think it might be help to distinguish between "official" LDS doctrine of the whole Church and beliefs that are common among some/many/most of the members.

Personally, I believe we do have a MIH, but my belief is not "officially" supported by the whole Church or the members in leadership who speak for the whole Church.

If it were to become canon, I would simply accept it just as I already have accepted it, but until such time I only consider it to be my personal belief and the personal belief of other members.

I think it's important to distinguish my personal beliefs from what is believed by the Church, in general.

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Of course the doctrine of a Mother in Heaven is a true doctrine. The Gospel Principles manual alludes to the fact:

(Gospel Principles Manual P. 11) "We Are Children of Our Heavenly Father- God is not only our ruler and creator; he is also our Heavenly Father. â??All men and women are... literally the sons and daughters of Deity.... Man, as a spirit, was begotten and born of heavenly parents, and reared to maturity in the eternal mansions of the Father, prior to coming upon the earth in a temporal [physical] bodyâ? (Joseph F. Smith, â??The Origin of Man,â? Improvement Era, Nov. 1909, pp. 78, 80). Every person who was ever born on earth was our spirit brother or sister in heaven. The first spirit born to our heavenly parents was Jesus Christ (see D&C 93:21), so he is literally our elder brother (see Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 26). Because we are the spiritual children of our heavenly parents, we have inherited the potential to develop their divine qualities. If we choose to do so, we can become perfect, just as they are."
Although it does not use the words heavenly mother, it does say heavenly parents (plural) so I do not think our Father is a "Single parent family" and also since we can be married for eternity then it follows that God the Father lives in the marriage relationship. Actually President Hinckley has spoken on this doctrine:
(Gordon B. Hinckley, â??Daughters of God,â? Ensign, Nov 1991,
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The reality of the existence of our Mother in Heaven has not been revealed???? I know we mere mortals like to complicate things, but really. There must be a hundred appellations other than father that Christ could have used to refer to . . . um, Heavenly Father. But He chose the title father. If that isn't a revelation, I don't know what is.

KISS

:P

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The Proclamation seems to be the clearest evidence- almost canonical.

In some ways its super-canonical. It hasn't been put to common consent yet, but I know of no other work (besides the similarly situated Proclamation - "The Living Christ"), that is found framed in every LDS home.

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I have argued in the past that MIH is not an â??officialâ? LDS doctrine, and that a faithful Mormon does not have to believe this doctrine in order to receive a â??temple recommendâ??. Some MADB (then FAIR) posters agreed with me on this, others did not. However, after reading through Von Feldtâ??s contribution, I am now asking myself this question: Do any Mormons with temple recommends deny the MIH doctrine? To my knowledge, I am not aware of any (with the possible exception of one, who may be in the process of affirming it).

MIH is official doctrine (as noted above). As for the temple recommend, questions about most specific doctrines are not asked. However, since it is implied that by upholding the Church and it's leaders, you also agree with the doctrine. Therefore, if you are aware of a doctrine taught in an official publication but don't believe/accept it and you hold a curent temple recommend, you lied in the interview. Simple as that.

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I think President Hinckley's comment is apt:

Logic and reason would certainly suggest that if we have a Father in Heaven, we have a Mother in Heaven. That doctrine rests well with me.

He doesn't ascribe the doctrine to revelation, but to "logic and reason."

If MIH is doctrinal, point me to the revelation establishing it. Point me to the scripture.

-Smac

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At the risk of torpedoing the thread, why does the doctrine of Heavenly Mother never get raised by the media? Its as novel a doctrine as eternal progression or baptism for the dead. Yet no one attacks us with it. Could it be that it is socially acceptable? Dare I say, even, progressive? It is really remarkable that JS taught such a doctrine when he was alive. To think that, 50+ years before women had sufferage, we believed they could become goddess. Even more, we taught that no man could reach his full potential without a woman. God, without a wife, is no longer God.

Now thats radical. But somehow the editors of TIME and Newsweek would rather grill the church about blacks and priesthood. How about balancing the coverage?

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If MIH is doctrinal, point me to the revelation establishing it. Point me to the scripture.

You obviously don't know the difference between doctrine and scripture.

Notice smac's little incongruity....

Logic and reason would certainly suggest that if we have a Father in Heaven, we have a Mother in Heaven. That doctrine rests well with me.
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You obviously don't know the difference between doctrine and scripture.

I do. Doctrine is what is found in and/or based on scripture.

I take your response as a tacit acknowledgment that there is no scriptural basis for the doctrine of MIH. Am I right?

-Smac

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