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Monolatry - Existence of other gods


Larrin

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While reading a commentary on Deuteronomy I came accross the debate of whether ancient Israelites believed in the existence of other gods or whether strict monotheism was always accepted. While reading this I came accross my vocabulary word of the day: monolatry, or the belief in other gods but only worshipping one God. Could this word be correctly applied to Latter-Day Saints?

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The scriptures tell us consistently that there is "one God". I think the best descriptive word is *patrimony*, where we are joint heirs with Christ under the authority of the Father. Patrimony means that the estate is undivided and all the heirs have responsibility for the estate in toto. Our individual responsibilities may be different, but we are acting under authority and assignment of the Father.

Thus we believe in "one God".

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The ancient Israelites believed in a divine council of gods/sons of God. That's the "us" in the creation account. We believe that there is one God of three seperate entities: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost who are one God because they function as one God. I believe that the early Christians saw the Godhead as being like three dancing together as one, but I don't have a reference right now. God is the most High God and is above the gods. We can be joint-heirs in Christ and become deified as well.

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The ancient Israelites believed in a divine council of gods/sons of God. That's the "us" in the creation account. We believe that there is one God of three seperate entities: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost who are one God because they function as one God. I believe that the early Christians saw the Godhead as being like three dancing together as one, but I don't have a reference right now. God is the most High God and is above the gods. We can be joint-heirs in Christ and become deified as well.

That is a pretty good summary, but you didn't directly answer the monolatry question. :P

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I think the key difference between mormonism and monolotry is that in monolatry they believe that the Gods of other religions existed ie the pagan Gods but that their God the Jewish God was more powerful. Mormons believe in The One God and other less Gods beneath that God that we dont worship. Those though should not be confused with say the existence of Baal or other pagan deities. So in part its the idea of multiple Gods, but it seems to me that Monolotry and the council of Gods are distict concepts. If im wrong correct me :P

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Presumably, if our God has a Father, there must be other Gods in existence as well who are not children of God our Father.

Yes, if God has a father. It is debatable. This speculation is based off of Joseph Smith's statements in the King Follett Discourse and the line "as man is God once was". I see it hard to reconcile with the scriptures that God was once not divine and that he has his own Father in Heaven. I think that Blake Ostler has got it pretty much right.

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Yes, if God has a father. It is debatable. This speculation is based off of Joseph Smith's statements in the King Follett Discourse and the line "as man is God once was". I see it hard to reconcile with the scriptures that God was once not divine and that he has his own Father in Heaven. I think that Blake Ostler has got it pretty much right.

I tend to trust God's Prophet, who has done more for the salvation of men in this world than any other (save Christ), over Brother Ostler.

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I tend to trust God's Prophet, who has done more for the salvation of men in this world than any other (save Christ), over Brother Ostler.

How about these prophets?

Joseph Smith:

According to that which was ordained in the midst of the Council of the Eternal God of all other gods before this world was, that should be reserved unto the finishing and the end thereof, when every man shall enter into his eternal presence and into his immortal rest.

(D&C 121:32)

Abraham:

And the Lord said unto me: These two facts do exist, that there are two spirits, one being more intelligent than the other; there shall be another more intelligent than they; I am the Lord thy God, I am more intelligent than they all.
(Abraham 3:19)

Seems to me that there is a Most High God of all other gods. Many Latter-day Saints including prophets and Blake Ostler have speculated about what exactly Joseph Smith meant when he taught that God had a mortal experience. I just don't think that an infinite regress of Gods works. I'm open to hearing what you have to say, though.

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Why?

Well problem # 1 with an infinte regress of Gods is that it isn't logical. Like when Descartes discusses that for there to be minds there must have been a mind to get it all going. Infinity of people doesnt work. For example if i got a dollar from you and you got it from someone else there would have to be a first person with that dollar to pass it along. there just cant be an infinite amount of people passing along that dollar.

Problem #2 is the clear examples of God proclaiming himself most high God, or the greatest among you etc.

We can reject infinite regress and still buy that God was once a man I dont see the conflict there

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Well problem # 1 with an infinte regress of Gods is that it isn't logical. Like when Descartes discusses that for there to be minds there must have been a mind to get it all going. Infinity of people doesnt work. For example if i got a dollar from you and you got it from someone else there would have to be a first person with that dollar to pass it along. there just cant be an infinite amount of people passing along that dollar.

Problem #2 is the clear examples of God proclaiming himself most high God, or the greatest among you etc.

We can reject infinite regress and still buy that God was once a man I dont see the conflict there

Exactly. There are also several scriptures that state that God is unchanging from everalstint to everlasting. I think it makes sense for God to have experienced mortality the same way Christ did. He was divine before, He was divine after, and He was divine during mortality.

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Don't want to hijack the thread.

However, I didn't want to start a new one for my brief question.

What exactly is the the distinction between God and god. I mean if LDS recognize that there are "gods", then what are they exactly?

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Don't want to hijack the thread.

However, I didn't want to start a new one for my brief question.

What exactly is the the distinction between God and god. I mean if LDS recognize that there are "gods", then what are they exactly?

I can't speak for all Mormons, but I think that there is one Godhead and only one God to worship and only one God that is in charge of the universe. All other beings are below him and are of lesser intelligence. The sons of God are occasionly called gods. Even people on earth are called gods occasionly (see John 10:34). We believe that people can become perfected in Christ and become joint-heirs in him. Then we can really win the title of gods. We will always be under the Most High God, the God of gods, our Father in Heaven.

I don't think that there's really any official doctrines about this and you could probably find Mormons who disagree with me.

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The ancient Israelites believed in a divine council of gods/sons of God. That's the "us" in the creation account. We believe that there is one God of three seperate entities: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost who are one God because they function as one God. I believe that the early Christians saw the Godhead as being like three dancing together as one, but I don't have a reference right now. God is the most High God and is above the gods. We can be joint-heirs in Christ and become deified as well.

According to the Book of Moses, "us" refers to the Son:

Moses 2
:

26 And I, God, said
unto mine Only Begotten, which was with me from the beginning:
Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; . . .

Genesis 1
:

26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: . . .

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Don't want to hijack the thread.

However, I didn't want to start a new one for my brief question.

What exactly is the the distinction between God and god. I mean if LDS recognize that there are "gods", then what are they exactly?

D&C 76
:

50 And again we bear record
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According to the Book of Moses, "us" refers to the Son:

Moses 2
:

26 And I, God, said
unto mine Only Begotten, which was with me from the beginning:
Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; . . .

Genesis 1
:

26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: . . .

Note that the JST revision to Genesis 1:26 presents an inspired interpretation of the passage, but it is NOT the only correct interpretation of this passage, nor does the JST in fact restore and/or reflect the original author's intended meaning by the use of the plural cohortative.

Genesis begins with an amalgamation of two separate versions of creation, the second, which commences in Genesis 2:4b, actually predates and appears to have directly influenced the version that now opens the Bible with the famous clause,

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Presumably, if our God has a Father, there must be other Gods in existence as well who are not children of God our Father.

If you could hie to Kolob in the twinkling of an eye, and then continue onward with that same speed to fly, do you think that you could ever, in all eternity, find out the generation, when Gods began to be?

Me personally, I don't think so. God had a father and so did he, and so did he, and so....

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Infinity of people doesnt work. For example if i got a dollar from you and you got it from someone else there would have to be a first person with that dollar to pass it along. there just cant be an infinite amount of people passing along that dollar.

Perhaps there should be another thread all about infinity, but I find infinity to be a far easier concept to accept as natural versus the alternative, finiteness, since finiteness has NOTHING at either of its ends, and I'm not prepared to accept NOTHING(S)(which is its own infinity, so you can't escape infinity anyway). Of course, in speaking of infinity, it is not a linear construction really, or usually (that is, an endless line, whether of space, time, or so on). It is rather more of a radiation, or bloom, from a source (a beginning, birth or center)(and which also can include the possibility of any linear infinity needed or wanted). Even in your own example, you have infinity, not finiteness. Because you have an endless story of that dollar. You will never be able to tell the beginning (nor the end, of course) of the dollar story because there isn't one. You say there has to be a first person with the dollar. Presumably that would be the guy at the dollar factory. And yet the story, which BEGINS, truly, with the print of the dollar on a machine, is still not finite, because we have an (infinite) story of how the machine was built, of where the paper came from for the dollar, of the system of money. Again, infinity makes sense. Finiteness hurts my brain because it involves NOTHING(S), of which there is no evidence. None of what I've said thus far is meant to defend or refute the idea of an infinite heritage of the Gods, although I give it as my opinion that there IS an endless heritage of Gods.

As to the use of the term "monolotry", I always find it rather funny at best, downright useless at worst, to use discourse such as "monotheism", "polytheism", "monolotry" unless we can keep it very clear in our own heads that these ARE academic NOT spiritual or even scriptural terms. I daresay none of us whether LDS or other Christians attends services we hear these terms and are asked in worship meetings to be "monotheists" or "monolists", etc. We, of course, are taught of God and we learn that God is one and unchangeable (although we might understand those things differently). We are taught of redemption and forgiveness, and so forth. None of us go to church for any "theisms", we go to church and subscribe to the gospel in order to seek God, period.

As to what is taught as doctrine of the LDS Church -- this may be a different proposal than asking what many LDS members accept as true without it being doctrine. It is my understanding that the doctrine of the Church regarding God is best said in Article of Faith 1: "We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ; and in the Holy Ghost." This is the starting point of understanding, and this is the belief to which we are obligated. Leaders, scripture, personal revelation, etc will likely confirm and expand on this truth and certainly there is more to know about God than is in this brief framework. So if you find monolotry (academically) in the first article of faith, well, there you go. :P

Nice to meet you. ;)

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Don't want to hijack the thread.

However, I didn't want to start a new one for my brief question.

What exactly is the the distinction between God and god. I mean if LDS recognize that there are "gods", then what are they exactly?

Latter-day Saints use the word 'God'/'god' in a number of ways, as far as I understand it.

1) As a name/title for God the Father.

2) As a name/title for the Godhead collectively.

3) Less often, as a name/title for Jesus Christ and/or the Holy Ghost individually.

4) God's children, including his mortal children (as in the LDS context of Psalm 82).

5) Exalted, glorified beings (both God our Father's progenitors and potentially his children).

6) Pre-mortal beings who were made rulers and were instrumental in the Creation (Christ, Michael, and others).

7) Angels, which overlaps with one or more of the above.

And possibly other uses that I can't think of off the top of my head.

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This and similar statements is, for me personally, one of the greatest intellectual evidences of Joseph Smith's inspiration.

I'm right there with you, Brother! I think there's nothing more exciting than the Prophet's views regarding the council of Gods reflected in Latter-day revelation and Joseph's Smith's sermons. I'm currently working on what I consider to be some amazing DC motifs in the Book of Mormon.

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