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Differences on Deification


DonBradley

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Hi All,

Hey, I was just observing one way the LDS doctrine of deification differs from the "traditional" view.

To Latter-day Saints, we have the divine nature, well, naturally, by virtue of our celestial parentage, and need only develop it in cooperation with God.

To traditional Christians, insofar as they teach deification, we naturally lack the divine nature but are adopted into it through Christ. "God," as the church fathers' saying goes, "became man in order that we might become God."

Does this seem (both to LDS and to traditional Christians) like an accurate statement of difference (not the whole difference, but this one)?

I believe I see more biblical support for the latter view--e.g., Paul says that it is through our adoption in Christ that we can say, "Abba, Father." But I'd be interested in hearing biblical support for each.

Don

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Hi All,

Hey, I was just observing one way the LDS doctrine of deification differs from the "traditional" view.

To Latter-day Saints, we have the divine nature, well, naturally, by virtue of our celestial parentage, and need only develop it in cooperation with God.

To traditional Christians, insofar as they teach deification, we naturally lack the divine nature but are adopted into it through Christ. "God," as the church fathers' saying goes, "became man in order that we might become God."

Does this seem (both to LDS and to traditional Christians) like an accurate statement of difference (not the whole difference, but this one)?

I believe I see more biblical support for the latter view--e.g., Paul says that it is through our adoption in Christ that we can say, "Abba, Father." But I'd be interested in hearing biblical support for each.

Don

Seems fairly accurate to me. Let me study up on this and I'll get back to ya.

God bless you Don.

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One thought I had come across previously is that Christ is the only one who has a legitimate claim, as an heir, to the throne of Heavenly Father. That is because He is the only one descended of Him in both spirit and flesh. For us to partake of the same throne, to also be heirs, we are made joint-heirs with Christ, by the infinite Atonement He came to bring forth.

In a sense, the adoption view has merit, I think. We are heirs of the Father in spirit, but in the flesh here in mortality we are fallen and imperfect.

In the resurrection, we partake of that blessing provided by Jesus Christ, to have a perfect body reunited with our spirit. Then, and only then, may we become joint-heirs with the Savior, and inherit the throne of our Heavenly Father.

So, in a sense, I believe that both explanations are correct. We are heirs of God as His spirit children. We can be His physical heirs by the resurrection provided via Jesus Christ's atoning sacrifice.

An interesting line of thought, anyway. :P

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One thought I had come across previously is that Christ is the only one who has a legitimate claim, as an heir, to the throne of Heavenly Father. That is because He is the only one descended of Him in both spirit and flesh. For us to partake of the same throne, to also be heirs, we are made joint-heirs with Christ, by the infinite Atonement He came to bring forth.

In a sense, the adoption view has merit, I think. We are heirs of the Father in spirit, but in the flesh here in mortality we are fallen and imperfect.

In the resurrection, we partake of that blessing provided by Jesus Christ, to have a perfect body reunited with our spirit. Then, and only then, may we become joint-heirs with the Savior, and inherit the throne of our Heavenly Father.

So, in a sense, I believe that both explanations are correct. We are heirs of God as His spirit children. We can be His physical heirs by the resurrection provided by Jesus Christ.

An interesting line of thought, anyway. ;)

Well Said :P

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Hi All,

Hey, I was just observing one way the LDS doctrine of deification differs from the "traditional" view.

To Latter-day Saints, we have the divine nature, well, naturally, by virtue of our celestial parentage, and need only develop it in cooperation with God.

To traditional Christians, insofar as they teach deification, we naturally lack the divine nature but are adopted into it through Christ. "God," as the church fathers' saying goes, "became man in order that we might become God."

Does this seem (both to LDS and to traditional Christians) like an accurate statement of difference (not the whole difference, but this one)?

I believe I see more biblical support for the latter view--e.g., Paul says that it is through our adoption in Christ that we can say, "Abba, Father." But I'd be interested in hearing biblical support for each.

Don

You are absolutely correct. But it should be further observed that the difference in our views of deification is not merely a difference in description, but of foundational principle. Men need Christ to be divinized because they do have have a divine nature of their own. The purpose of the gospel is to give them one. That purpose is essentially denied in the Mormon version of deification. For this reason it is inappropriate for Mormons to use Catholic Church Fathers who teach theosis as support for the admissability of the Mormon concept of deification, which constitutes an essentially different worldview rejected by those same historical sources. Strictly speaking, Mormonism denies theosis to the core; it is Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy that really teach it, and who embrace the Biblical teaching of theosis in a complete and radical sense.

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One thought I had come across previously is that Christ is the only one who has a legitimate claim, as an heir, to the throne of Heavenly Father. That is because He is the only one descended of Him in both spirit and flesh. For us to partake of the same throne, to also be heirs, we are made joint-heirs with Christ, by the infinite Atonement He came to bring forth.

In a sense, the adoption view has merit, I think. We are heirs of the Father in spirit, but in the flesh here in mortality we are fallen and imperfect.

In the resurrection, we partake of that blessing provided by Jesus Christ, to have a perfect body reunited with our spirit. Then, and only then, may we become joint-heirs with the Savior, and inherit the throne of our Heavenly Father.

So, in a sense, I believe that both explanations are correct. We are heirs of God as His spirit children. We can be His physical heirs by the resurrection provided via Jesus Christ's atoning sacrifice.

An interesting line of thought, anyway. :P

Exactly.

In LDS belief, adoption is an integral part of 'being saved'. In fact, we teach that there is NO salvation, and thus no deification, without becoming the adopted sons and daughters of God. It is the only way to become joint-heirs with Christ, as you said.

We are divine because of our Heavenly Parentage, but LDS believe that satan and his angels also had such divinity. Because of the fall, and our sins, that divinity has become corrupt and we have lost any birthright we had.

Thus, without being adopted into Jesus' birthright, we would permanentaly be 'disowned' (for lack of a better term)

That's how i have always understood it anyway.

;)

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Hi All,

Hey, I was just observing one way the LDS doctrine of deification differs from the "traditional" view.

To Latter-day Saints, we have the divine nature, well, naturally, by virtue of our celestial parentage, and need only develop it in cooperation with God.

To traditional Christians, insofar as they teach deification, we naturally lack the divine nature but are adopted into it through Christ. "God," as the church fathers' saying goes, "became man in order that we might become God."

Does this seem (both to LDS and to traditional Christians) like an accurate statement of difference (not the whole difference, but this one)?

I believe I see more biblical support for the latter view--e.g., Paul says that it is through our adoption in Christ that we can say, "Abba, Father." But I'd be interested in hearing biblical support for each.

Don

Hi Don,

I sometimes hear Mormons talk about God as a species, and human beings are the same species as God. This implies deification as a natural, not supernatural outcome of maturity as a human being. Some Mormons may object to my way of saying that.

I think you are using the word nature very precisely and so am I. Deification in my faith is most definitely beyond what could ever happen in the natural order of things. That would be an example of my understanding of the meaning of supernatural. Beyond nature. So...I think you have made a good and accurate distinction between two distinct ways of understanding deification.

I think most biblical passages will probably support either view of deification. There are perhaps passages such as the one you found on adoption that might lend itself to an understanding of God's nature being distinct from human beings. I'd have to think about it though. There are certainly a few passages like that one in Acts 17 (?), where St. Paul says we are God's offspring. I think the LDS would probably point to that first as teaching we are the same species.

Neither is he served with men's hands, as though he needed any thing; seeing it is he who giveth to all life, and breath, and all things: "Dwelleth not in temples"... God is not contained in temples; so as to need them for his dwelling, or any other uses, as the heathens imagined. Yet by his omnipresence, he is both there and everywhere. And hath made of one, all mankind, to dwell upon the whole face of the earth, determining appointed times, and the limits of their habitation. That they should seek God, if happily they may feel after him or find him, although he be not far from every one of us: For in him we live, and move, and are; as some also of your own poets said: For we are also his offspring. Being therefore the offspring of God, we must not suppose the divinity to be like unto gold, or silver, or stone, the graving of art, and device of man.
---Acts 17:25-29
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Hi Don,

I sometimes hear Mormons talk about God as a species, and human beings are the same species as God. This implies deification as a natural, not supernatural outcome of maturity as a human being.

What i think LDS mean by saying such things is that deification is possible because of that shared nature, not that is inevitable.

It is that nature that separates us from all of the rest of God's creations. A gorilla, for example, will never, regardless of the Atonement of Christ, become a joint-heir with Christ. This is because, for a gorilla, that possibility does not exist. So what is it that gives humans that possibility and not gorillas? I think that our inherent Nature is the biggest thing.

:P

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What i think LDS mean by saying such things is that deification is possible because of that shared nature, not that is inevitable.

It is that nature that separates us from all of the rest of God's creations. A gorilla, for example, will never, regardless of the Atonement of Christ, become a joint-heir with Christ. This is because, for a gorilla, that possibility does not exist. So what is it that gives humans that possibility and not gorillas? I think that our inherent Nature is the biggest thing.

:P

Hi Bluebell.

That was my understanding as well. Deification, according to LDS, because of that shared eternal nature, while not inevitable, would be natural. Deification, according to "orthodoxy", because of a natural gulf that separates us as creatures from our Creator, is beyond nature, supernatural.

Rory

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Hi Bluebell.

That was my understanding as well. Deification, according to LDS, because of that shared eternal nature, while not inevitable, would be natural. Deification, according to "orthodoxy", because of a natural gulf that separates us as creatures from our Creator, is beyond nature, supernatural.

Rory

Alright, i see what you are saying.

It makes me wonder though, according to the statement above, why is there no possibility that a gorilla (to use my earlier example) can gain deification? What separates mortal man from all the other creations of God in your beliefs?

Is it only God's will? That would mean that there was absolutely no difference between mortal man and God's other creations, He just chose to offer salvation to one form and not the others simply 'because'.

Is it something other than only God's will to offer deification to one species but not to another that comes into play?

I don't see how it can be a difference of mental abilities (intelligence) or the presence of free will, for God saves infants and the mentally disabled, but if that's part of your answer, then could you explain your thoughts on how my reason about that angle is flawed as well?

Thanks.

:P

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I think its ironic that Nicene Christians are now all of a sudden embracing deification as though they have always have....I'm aware that the Eastern Orthodox have always taught it and embraced it as part of their doctrine. The Catholics believed in it but it is not one of their long held major doctrines only a belief that they are now starting to revive as most were not even aware of this teaching. And Protestants are the ones who have been the most vocal in berating the Mormons for the belief of "men becoming god." And now....that it's been proven to be a ancient christian belief and they can't refute it anymore they are now trying to say that the Mormons do not have the same belief as the ancient church taught when in fact the truth is that the Nicene Creed is what changed the nature of God so now they have to change deification to fit their view of God. Am I right in this analysis? My question is....are the Protestants now teaching deification (theosis) and how do they explain that they didn't teach it not too long ago but instead bought into films like the "Godmakers" to make fun of Mormons? How do they explain their change in beliefs...as though they have been lacking in truth with parts of the true Gospel missing and now walla they now believe???? Very interesting!!!!

The subject of deification has attracted the attention of scholars from various Christian traditions, from the beginning, both East and West; in fact, probably least of all from LDS scholars. And for good reason: the Latter-day Saints do not defend their belief in the exaltation and deification of humankind on the basis of what the early Church Fathers wrote. They do so on the basis of what a modern prophet has taught. The reason they cite the early Fathers is not for the purpose of defending their own doctrines, but rather for the purpose of asking their detractors why they are not themselves teaching the doctrine (or dogma, for such it was for the earliest Christians). (Edward T. Jones, â??Mormonism and the Christian Doctrine of Deification.â??)

â?¦the concept of deification has been a popular one from the beginning of the Christian church. And modern writers are in fact beginning to ask why their church is not teaching it as doctrine. Lutheran scholar Robert Jenson, in an article in a Lutheran journal on the very topic of theosis, concludes by asking: â??Perhaps the question has at least become a bit more urgent: The patristic church proclaimed deification; why do not we?â? (Robert W. Jenson, â??Theosis,â? in Dialog: A Journal of Theology 32 (St. Paul, Minn: 1993): 108-112, at page 112.)

Catholic scholar Hans Kung has even suggested that the Pelagian affair caused Augustine to replace the earlier deification theory with the doctrine of grace; Orthodox scholar Paul Evdokimov agrees. (Hans Kung, Justification. The Doctrine of Karl Barth and a Catholic Reflection (Westminster Press 1981; 1st German 1957) ):

Frederick W. Norris, a member of the Church of Christ, and professor of Church History at Emmanuel School of Religion in Tennessee, wrote that â??in a world which yearns for spiritualityâ?¦Christians ought to speak of deification.â? (F. W. Norris, op. cit., 413.)

Robert Rakestraw, writing in the journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, after covering some of the evidence from the Greek fathers, as well as from Luther, and Charles Wesley, then writes: â??Perhaps the most obvious deficiency is the terminology itself. To speak of divinization, deification, and human beings â??becoming Godâ?? seems to violate the historic Christian understanding of the essential qualitative distinction between God and the creationâ?¦. The strengths of theosis theology outweigh these weaknesses, however. The most significant benefit is that the concept as a whole, if not the specific terminology, is Biblical.â? (Rakestraw, op. cit., 266-7.)
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Alright, i see what you are saying.

It makes me wonder though, according to the statement above, why is there no possibility that a gorilla (to use my earlier example) can gain deification? What separates mortal man from all the other creations of God in your beliefs?

Is it only God's will? That would mean that there was absolutely no difference between mortal man and God's other creations, He just chose to offer salvation to one form and not the others simply 'because'.

Is it something other than only God's will to offer deification to one species but not to another that comes into play?

I don't see how it can be a difference of mental abilities (intelligence) or the presence of free will, for God saves infants and the mentally disabled, but if that's part of your answer, then could you explain your thoughts on how my reason about that angle is flawed as well?

Thanks.

:P

We also take seriously that God uniquely made man in His image. Maintaining the Creator-creature distinction which makes us part of the animal kingdom, we are also spiritual creatures endowed with intellects that make us part of the rational kingdom inhabited by God and His angels who are also created but non-physical. We have a foot in matter and a foot in spirit, if you will, and are unique, qualified beyond the gorilla to be raised to the level of gods. I am not attempting to argue that this is true, only that this is what we believe for now.

In answer to your question about the rationality and the presence of free will, it is these faculties which make us understand that God has made our souls (the principle of life) immortal. A body can be killed, but an intellect, separate from a body cannot. I am ill-equipped to argue philosophically about this. I know Mormons are philosophical materialists to the point where there is a material element, however faint in every reality. Rejecting materialism, and believing in the reality of pure immaterial spirit is what makes us believe that man is immortal and must dwell somewhere for eternity (apart from the intervention of God who could in theory annihilate).

If my inarticulate stammering makes things "clear as mud", I am still pretty sure I have said what is accurate, if nor real clear about our beliefs. I am hoping that perhaps soren, who has already answered once and has more expertise in this area than me could correct if necessary, and clarify on what is vague.

With Apprehension (heh),

Rory

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