Thursday, January 08, 2009

Reading Between the Clean Cut Lines, Part 2

In his “Witnessing to Mormons” post of September 27, 2008, Clean Cut, the Mormon apologist, stated, “…there is only one eternal God…there are many gods, but they are gods by grace, made so by God himself.” In my previous post, I showed that the Bible plainly teaches that there is only one God, period. There is not a central, original, eternal God who then made other “gods” as per Mormon thinking. Several passages from Isaiah were listed. See that posting for the list.

The Bible does use the words god and gods, with a small g. However, such usage is almost always in reference to false gods, or idols. The nations surrounding Israel all had false gods and idols against which God repeatedly warned. It is no wonder the word gods is in the Bible so often. Of course, those “gods” are not real gods; they are mere fabrications, first in the mind of a human and then often fashioned from wood or stone. An analogy is a false passport. It is not really a passport at all; it only attempts to pass itself off as one. It may appear to be real. However, upon closer examination it will be found phony. Some false gods exist only in the imagination of men’s minds. For example, some people believe in and worship the non-material, ethereal gods of Hinduism. The first of the Ten Commandments tells us to have no other “gods” before God. This is in reference to false gods, who merely pose as God. There is only one real God and any other “gods” are false pretenders. Neither are these false gods some kind of junior level gods that were made into gods by the one eternal God of Mormonism. Again, this is clear from Isaiah, as well as many other passages in both the Old and New Testaments.

What about the interesting statement in the New Testament, John 10:34-36, where Jesus Christ says, “Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods? If he called them gods, unto whom the word of the God came, and the scripture cannot be broken; Say ye of him, who the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?” Mormons often quote this passage to “prove” that men can become, and even have already become, gods.

In order to properly understand any Bible passage, one must first understand its context. This rule applies to all written works, not just the Bible. To take a passage in the Bible, or any book, and use it in disregard to its contextual meaning, is nonsense. The context of John 10:34-36 is Jesus answering His attackers who want to stone Him to death (vss. 31-33). They believe He has blasphemed by claiming to be God. (vss. 29-30). Go back to at least verse 24 and start there to see the context of this passage.

And for further context of John 10:34-36, go the Old Testament passage Jesus is quoting, Psalm 82:6 “I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.” Note in verse 1 of Psalm 82 that God (the only one God) is judging the “gods.” In verse 5, He says that these “gods” are devoid of knowledge and even the ability to know. In verse 7, He pronounces a judgment of death on these “gods.” In verse 8, we see the psalmist’s plea that God Himself, the One and Only God, judge the earth. For, only God, the real God, can and will judge creation in perfect justice. It is therefore obvious that these “gods” of Psalm 82:6 and John 10:34 are in no way the “gods” of classical Mormonism, who must become very knowledgeable, good, and righteous before they can become gods. This is clear from the official LDS instruction manual, The Gospel Through the Ages, as well as Mormon scripture, the Pearl of Great Price, which I quoted from in my previous posting, which is Part 1 of this topic.

In His use of Psalm 82:6, Jesus is making a simple argument to the people who want to kill him for blasphemy. He is proving with Psalm 82:6 that the word gods can be legitimately used to refer to others than God Himself and that its use does not mean that other beings are actually Gods, or even junior “gods” that under the direct authority of the one eternal God. In other words, Jesus is asking His attackers, If God, in Psalm 82:6 refers to people as “gods” and “children of the most High,” then why are you so upset if I, Jesus, call myself God? Jesus is using a play on words by stating that if humans can be called gods, then it is OK for Jesus, the Messiah, to call Himself God. For, of course Jesus is God the Eternal Son, the second person (not former human) of the Holy Trinity. As proof that He really is God, Jesus asks His attackers to consider the works He had done (vss. 37-38).

Now, what about Clean Cut’s assertion regarding God’s grace? Did the one eternal God of Mormonism make many gods by his grace? Is Clean Cut being clear about Mormon doctrine with his statement? Is he obfuscating or misleading, or is he correct according to Mormon scripture?

In LDS scripture, the Pearl of Great Price, Abraham 5:22 it states, “And God saw these souls [called “intelligences’ in verse 22] were good…and he said: These will I make my rulers.” In chapter four, verse one, these rulers organize the world [note that Mormonism’s “gods” do not create, but merely organize]. In verse 2, these rulers are called “Gods. If we ignore the use here of the capital G, and replace it with a small g, we can see in Mormon scripture that the original LDS God, who is the “only eternal God,” chose other “rulers” or “intelligences” to become "gods." There is no description in this passage of LDS scripture that these “gods” did anything to become gods. However, the one eternal God makes them his adjunct “gods” “for [means because] they were good.” In this way it appears on the surface that the original “only one eternal God” of Mormonism made “many…gods by his grace.” Thus, on the surface, Clean Cut appears to be in line with LDS scripture.

However, upon deeper examination, there is a serious problem with Clean Cut’s statement that the one eternal God made gods by his grace. The use of the word for in Abraham 5:22 shows us that the one eternal God of Mormonism chose beings called “intelligences” to be his “rulers” or “gods” on the basis of their inherent goodness. This is simply the standard heresy of Pelagianism and Arminianism, whereby God chooses those He sees have some inherent goodness, or worth, or ability. In other words, that God chooses based not on His own will and purposes, but because of some inherent value in other beings. Such a way destroys the sovereignty of God and puts mankind in charge of God. But this voids the voice of Scripture.

Yes, it is true that in Abraham 5 that the” intelligences” had apparently performed no overt actions to earn godhood. However, they were chosen because they were “good.” What had made these “intelligences” good? If they followed the standard Mormon "plan of salvation" they had made themselves good. They worked for it. This state of being “good” implies that they deserved to be the “rulers” under God, or his “gods.” Everywhere in Mormon doctrine, one finds the requirement that beings make themselves “good” to earn godhood. So, why would it be different with the “intelligences”? All this focus on the goodness of other beings, and God having to chose them because of their, not His, character is not grace!

At this point, the discerning Christian will recognize that Clean Cut and Mormonism have redefined grace to be something that is outside the orthodox, biblical, Christian meaning of grace. In this manner, Clean Cut is misleading and false in his use of the word grace. Just what is the Mormon definition of grace? In the official, LDS-printed book of doctrine, Gospel Principles, grace does not appear in either the Glossary or the Index! Grace, if it had any significance or importance in Mormon theology, would be listed. But it is not! In his book, The Miracle of Forgiveness and cited in Gospel Principles, former Mormon prophet and President Spencer W. Kimball, did not list grace in his index. However, he did say this about grace: “One of the most fallacious doctrines originated by Satan and propounded by man is that man is saved alone by the grace of God; that belief in Jesus Christ alone is all that is needed for salvation.” Wow! No ambiguity there, huh?

Because an LDS apostle speaks with more authority than Clean Cut, we can conclude that Clean Cut is wrong with his statement that God made many gods by his grace.