We Latter-day Saints “talk of Christ . . . rejoice in Christ . . . preach of Christ . . . prophesy of Christ . . . and write of Christ, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins” (2 Nephi 25:26). But have we always been consistent in our understanding of Christ? What are the evolutions in thought about Christ that we have undergone in the nearly two centuries since the church’s founding? How did earlier Latter-day Saints understand certain terms in ways that are different from today’s views? We Mormons also speak regularly of the importance of “coming unto Christ,” “taking his name upon us,” “standing as a witness for Christ,” and “becoming perfect in Christ.” What do we mean by these terms? Do they have multiple layers that can reveal great richness when we examine them deeply?
In this five-part episode, Charley Harrell, Jody England Hansen, and Phil McLemore join Mormon Matters host Dan Wotherspoon in an extensive dive in both doctrinal and devotional aspects related to our Christian beliefs and experiences.
On Sunday, 13 July 14, I dreamed of being with President David O. McKay. Upon awakening that morning I Googled McKay and discovered this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZK8TXgxIufc, where he says unequivocally: “No one can preside over this church without first being in tune with the head of the church: our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. He is our head. This is his church. Without his divine guidance and constant inspiration, we cannot succeed. With his guidance; with his inspiration, we cannot fail.”
If this is true, and I believe it is, the issue then becomes whether the presiding authorities at any level are in fact “in tune with” the Lord Jesus Christ. Regarding the recent excommunications, I believe the presiding authorities were certainly NOT in tune with Jesus Christ.
An exceptional discussion about Jesus Christ, folks. Beautiful, deep thinking, expansive thinking. Decidedly, joyfully uncorrelated. Joseph Smith would have felt right at home in this discussion; the STMC, much less so. The episode invites repeated listenings and much pondering.
Phil, Dan, Jody, and Charley, thank you so much for this podcast. I appreciate your thoughts, the expansive concepts that were expressed, and the freedom I now feel to be able to let go of past ways of thinking about these things. I will return to this episode often to remember and ponder.
Dan, I loved this podcast. It is my all time favorite so far. Please bring us more, more, more of these types of podcasts. Thank you!
I am just getting into the first episode of this series. I appreciate that you have people on the the podcast who have a Mormon background, and that limits who you might have on the panel as a specialist. For example, it is too bad that you could not have a theologian or biblical studies scholar on the podcast instead of Charlie. He is an informed amateur, which isn’t a negative, just a fact. While Charlie did provide a number of good explanations and had to in brief, my opinion is that he created some confusion. I am a theology student and am concerned that those listening to the podcast are unable to appreciate the meaning of what Charlie was saying or those items that were miscommunicated. I also disagree with Dan’s comment as to whether Christology matters in minute 36, it absolutely matters. Further Dan has incorrectly suggested that Gnostocism influenced biblical christology.
I can’t remember talking about Gnosticism and don’t have time to listen and find it, but if I did it was likely in reference to gnostic elements in John. Gnosticism as a defined movement certainly didn’t pre-date the formation of the Christian canon, but gnostic elements (perhaps from a more ancient source) such as Logos and Light and Jesus repeatedly showing people how they are focusing on the material world rather than spiritual are clearly present in John (with Nicodemus, woman at the well, all over John 6, etc.).
I’d love an argument from you about why Christology matters. How could something so complex and that takes such strenuous study to even grasp and that is so clearly western (with these two issues alone leaving out so many people) be a key element in salvation? Versus what those of us on the podcast were arguing recovering via experience our knowledge of our essential divinity and allowing the presence of Spirit to transform us into the likeness of Christ?
Dan, My format and footnotes did not copy over, I can email you if you like and wish to see my sources. With respect to the development of Gnosticism and its influence on John’s gospel, you should consider your time periods and evaluate the possibility that Gnosticism could have influenced John. Further, doing some work around the development of the canon should lead you to conclude that if John’s gospel was Gnostic, it would not have been included in the canon. That is not to say that we don’t see differences between the four gospels, we do, but that is not to say that these differences represent different Christianities. John definitely identifies Christ with God’s divine identity, but this was not new. Paul had already done so and Paul is never considered a Gnostic. Even in Mark, our earliest Gospel, Mark nearly goes as far as John. So, there is a difference between the Gospels, but that does not admit to John being Gnostic.
On Christology, I am sorry you find it complex and requiring study. It is not so complex, but what makes it hard for you is your Mormon background. Mormonism is what I would call radical Arianism. I grew up a Mormon, and yes I am going to say it, became a Christian in 2011 but of the Anglican persuasion. It was very difficult for me to understand the consubstantial relationship between Father, Son and Spirit, but I got there, and in so doing, my confusion about God disappeared. It is only in the Triune God that we know who God really is.
Mormons are very confused about God and this was very evident in the first episode of this series of your podcast. This is not surprising because Arianism produces a confused God that no one can know. Think of this, Mormons, only through the manipulation of the First Vision come First Visitation think of God as distinct persons, not of the same substance, and so in agreement with Arius that at one time the Son was not and does not share in God’s essence. Yet in the Mormon baptismal prayer, one is baptised in the name of the Father, Son and Spirit. One is not baptised in the names of but the name of the three. What is the name of the three, God, or Trinity. The name of God is Father, Son and Spirit. How can Mormons be baptised in the name of the Triune God and worship a monad? Confusion! So, your own confusion about God and thoughts of complexity around Christology arise from your Mormonism.
What I have to say below is in response to Arianism. This is the place to start in my opinion when addressing the Godhead to Mormons, as in keeping with what I have said, Mormonism is radical Arianism.
Arianism leads to either theomonism or thritheism. Take your pick as to which one best describes Mormonism. Ultimately it is the former, as its declared polytheism is actually a pantheon of demigods in subjection to the ultimate monad.
What does Arius’ monism do to the Son? The Son becomes a creature. The pronoun son is changed into a title only. Athanasius argues, echoing Tertullian, that the Son cannot be the Son in definite and substantial separation from the Father and still be the Son. If we hold with Arius that the Son was created at some time, though long ago, as the first of creation, the Son is no longer Son, but a creature. If the Son is a creature and is not what he is by his name, then his name is only a title. This denies the Son is the Son and so God’s own nature and being. Son is to be understood as a title related to the primary position held in relation to the rest of creation. As a creature God is not revealed in the Son and the Christian Gospel is undermined.
What’s more the Son is placed in an awkward position. While we as creatures partake in the Spirit, the Son does not as “the Spirit Himself takes from the Son” and so is not himself sanctified by the Spirit. Ultimately then we must conclude that the Son is not the second person of the Godhead. That position would now fall to God’s Spirit. We are left with confusion in the Godhead.
Confusion is further added because of what monism does to the Father. Athanasius argues that the separation also denies who the Father is. To separate the Father from the Son and to make the one monad and the other creature who at one time was not is to also say that at one time the Father was not the Father. Thus the Arian monad is a changeable God who is one time not Father and at another time Father.
Out of this confusion we are presented with an unknown God behind the Son. The Matthean account of Jesus’ baptism records that “a voice from heaven said ‘This is my Son, the Beloved.” (Mat 3:17). If, as Athanasius says, Jesus is the Son as pronounced, then he must by definition be homoousion with the Father. If He is not homoousion with the Father, than there is another something “between this that is from the Father and the essence of the Son, whatever that be.” How can there be another something between the Father and Son and the Christian monotheistic concept of God remain valid?
The confusion cannot stand and we must say that the Son is the Son of the same essence of the Father.
“And thus of the Son Himself, all things partake according to the grace of the Spirit coming from Him; and this shows that the Son Himself partakes of nothing, but what is partaken from the Father, is the Son; for, as partaking of the Son Himself, we are said to partake of God.” (2 Peter 1:4).
It is in Jesus that God has revealed himself as God’s Word and Wisdom. Homoousious guarantees the words of Jesus “If you know me, you will know the Father also. Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.” (Jn 14:7,9)
Homoousious holds salvation together. If we separate the Son from the Father, the Son is not God incarnate. Not only is Christ not truly God, but he cannot be truly human because he is the creator. Athanasius notes that if we say Christ is not God revealed to man then there is no redemption and no new creation. Torrance puts it this way:
“Jesus’ acts are saving acts, for they are divine acts. Suppose, then, that there were no such oneness of being and agency between Jesus and God: that would mean that whether in healing someone’s body or in claiming to forgive someone’s sins, Jesus was acting merely on his own as another creaturely being…without any creative penetration.”
If the Son is not God he is not Emmanuel. However, as Emmanuel we have man raised to God in new creation, brought into his presence and sharing in his communion through the Son. As man, humanity dies in the man Jesus but rises with the risen Son. As God, the Son defeats the evil cosmic powers of Sin and Death bringing in the new creation. If there is no homoousion between Father and Son, there is no union of God and humanity and no atonement as we understand it.
The word homoousious has implications for how the Christian scriptures are to be understood. Tertullian and Athanasius consider that the Christological statements made in scripture, such as “The Father and I are one” (Jn 10:30), point directly to the identity of God. We can understand the unity of the Father and Son in substantial terms, of the same essence, from scripture. When the scriptures say that the Son is in the image of the Father, or the Father is only revealed in the Son it is proved that the Son is homoousion with the Father. The Arian argument does not treat Christological statements in scripture for what they say. This raises the question of whether or not scripture possesses a revelatory character or if it is instead an expression of human speculation.
Arius was one of many who put homoousious to the test. In what he saw as a defence of monotheism he exposed the strength of the Creedal word through the responses drawn from Athanasius. Tertullian rejected any separation between Father and Son as impossible, as impossible as separating a sunbeam from the sun. In his developing doctrine of the Son Athanasius held to the distinctness of Father as Father and Son as Son, but also rejected any form of separation. Homoousious conveys to us the relationship of unity, love and fidelity that what God is in himself he is to us in the Divine Son. “It is upon that relation of identity and fidelity between the Son and the Father, between Christ and God, that the truth and integrity of the Gospel depend.”
Dan, this is more than you asked for, and not in direct response to your request for an argument as to why Christology matters. However, in case you missed it, if Christ is not God in the Trinitarian sense, then there is no revelation of God. If there is no revelation of God then we are left to imagine who God is and fall into idolatry. If Christ is not Emmanuel, then there is no saving power of the cross. This is why Paul says “I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” (1 Cor 2:2)
The Mormon baptism prayer says, “(Name) having been commissioned of Jesus Christ I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, And of the Holy Ghost.” If the performing of the baptism fails to say “and of the” the ordinance is redone.
The Mormon prayer is actually not the Mormon prayer but is found in Matthew 28. I appreciate you think the scripture as indicating three names. However, if that was the case, people would be baptized into the Names of the… However, the scripture clearly indicates that there is “a Name” that describes the persons of the Trinity. To quote Karl Barth (Triunity of God, Church Dogmatics, I/I), Those baptized are not baptized into three divine names. This is precisely what you are saying.
If as you suggest there is a misunderstanding of grammar in the apostolic commission, then all you have to do is prove it. However, at the same time you have to also prove that all the references of the New Testament that identify Jesus with God’s unique divine identity are also mistaken.
I can assure if your reading was correct, it would have been spotted by at least a few smart people over the last 1700 years. The fact is, no one reads it that way except those who are reading their own doctrine back into scripture.
For some further reading, that is very accessible try Reading Paul by Michael Gorman. He has a chapter showing those references where Paul identifies Jesus with God’s identity.
Also accessible is Richard Bauckham’s book Jesus and the God of Israel: God Crucified and Other Studies on the New Testament’s Christology of Divine Identity
For more advanced readers or those willing to read more carefully Thomas F. Torrance’s collection of essays The Incarnation: Ecumenical Studies in the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed A.D. 381
For the very advanced there is Torrance’s Christian Doctrine of God, One Being Three Persons
Thank-you for your response.
Thanks, Michael. You definitely shared a lot! On the Gnostic label, we’re clearly talking past each other. I am, of course, aware of the history of Gnosticism as a tradition and when it arose (that wouldn’t be compatible with the dating of John), but as I wrote, it certainly didn’t appear out of thin air. “Gnostic-like” or even “proto-Gnostic elements” in John is just fine for whatever purpose my passing comment made in the podcast (and I still can’t even remember making it, so awfully minor point) might have been about.
As far as the rest of your long response goes, it feels a lot like the kinds of things I got excited about (on different subjects) when I was in grad school. When learning various models, it all feels really important and something everyone just plain ought to know! Then time passes and other models arise alongside them, each with their particular gifts and drawbacks, and they each become contextualized. They remain valuable for what they inspire in us, for how they illuminate something important that serves us well as human beings making our way here in this sphere, but none can be salvific.
Anything that would ever be tied to “salvation” must be able to aid in transformation. For that reason, I’m far from convinced that (as we talked about in Part 4 of the podcast) Christ (and therefore the things you share here about the Trinity) is necessary in order for people to experience grace and find their divine nature unfolding within them. One might think of the Christ mythos as necessary for those who inhabit the starting points about a Fall, the problem of sin, etc, as those are huge stumblingblocks to overcome. But even then, the identity of Christ as in some way “God” who lives and loves in the way that the person described in the Gospels lives and acts seems sufficient to me, rather than having to understand all that you bring here. The key is how the Christ story uncovers in us–in our psyches that have picked up the bad idea of ourselves as fallen and under the judgment of some kind of eternal law (or God) that requires a blood price–the fact that we are already “at one.” From that realization, we begin to work with Spirit (ours and whatever one might attribute to existing as part of God) and experiencing an unfolding of our divine nature. In this model of God and humans and their relationship and key tasks, Mormonism clearly seems to me to have a quite sufficient symbol system.
And clearly we, as evidenced here and in your comment about the baptismal prayer and “name” versus “names” we have far different views of scripture as God’s revelation.
“I’m far from convinced that (as we talked about in Part 4 of the podcast) Christ (and therefore the things you share here about the Trinity) is necessary in order for people to experience grace and find their divine nature unfolding within them.”
Dan, I don’t think there is much to talk about based on your comment I quote above. I think that Christ is divine and is indeed God. Christ’s is God’s own self-unveiling. It is therefore impossible to discover one’s own divine nature and say that Christ is unnecessary in that regard.
While Mormonism is by definition not a Christian faith, its own self definition aside, I don’t see how your comment fits within Mormonism.
Trinitarians do not think that Christ was the first created Charlie at minute 41. That is an Arian view, against which the early Fathers campaigned. You cannot say that Christ is a creature and include that in a Trinitarian view. It is a total opposite. Please read your Athanasius or your Torrance. You’re killing me.
The “us” is handled so well in a first year Old Testament course but I get your point on the wandering Mormon doctrine arising. What you aren’t getting at though when you talk about foundational scriptures for Mormon doctrine is how thin these references are. The Mormon doctrine of God is based on a very thin biblical foundation or misunderstood references combined with modern “revelation”. However, you may get to that.
Michael, my comment at 41 was that Trinitarians would argue that Christ was “not” the first creation of God (admittedly my sentence was poorly structured). Throughout the discussion I repeatedly emphasized that Trinitarians hold that Christ was “eternally generated” from the Father and that he was uncreated. That, in fact, is one of the reasons I pointed out for the Trinitarian rejection of the Mormon Christ who “became” God. I’m sorry you didn’t catch that from the discussion.
Thanks for joining in the discussion, and I’m sure my sketchy overview is not beyond criticism.
“While Mormonism is by definition not a Christian faith, its own self definition aside, I don’t see how your comment fits within Mormonism.”
When trying to be persuasive and draw people to your ideas, it’s generally a non-starter to draw circles that include some people and exclude others. And here you do it twice: Mormons are not Christian, and Dan’s position is not Mormon! 🙂
Dan, please listen to episode one of the podcast. There you will learn that by the definitions offered by Charley that Mormonism is a type of Arianism, I would suggest that it is radical Arianism. Mormonism denies the revelation of God in Christ consistent with its radical Arianism. Therefore, Mormonism by definition is outside of the big Christian tent. I am not name calling here at all.
Your own comment, which I quote again here “I’m far from convinced that Christ is necessary in order for people to experience grace…” Speaks for itself in relation to both Mormon views of its’ Christ and the Christian Christ.
My appreciation of your perspective is you are less interested in Christianity then you are in mystical self discovery outside of the the constrictions of Mormonism or organised faith systems.
I am not attempting to draw anyone to my point of view, but merely interacting with the content of your podcast and blog posts.
So Arians aren’t Christian. Mormons aren’t Christian. Those who tend toward mystical encounters with God aren’t Christian…
Michael, no one is upset that you think certain groups and people aren’t Christian. Many people think identifying in this way is a good strategy, perhaps even your seminary teachers and pastors, but it’s not. It’s only effective for in-group strengthening, but for any kind of mission work (perhaps except for those who are really fear-based in their lives), it’s a terrible strategy.
It seems unwelcomed by you, and I can understand that, but my teasing about drawing circles and labeling is more about helping you interact with others in the future. Say your truth. Let others do the same. See what happens. Does your truth win your audience’s heart? That’s the only battleground that matters even in the least.
Dan, I had no idea when making my first post in this forum that I would participate so much and to no real purpose. A friend of mine at St. Andrew’s Uni sort of warned me about these places some time ago.
Dan, I think that with respect to your first point Karl Barth expresses it quite well and briefly “The doctrine of the Trinity is what basically distinguishes the Christian doctrine of God as Christian, and therefore what already distinguishes the Christian concept of revelation as Christian, in contrast to all other possible doctrines of God or concepts of revelation.” (CD 1/1 p. 301)
I am at a loss to your reference to my seminary teachers or pastors or your hints at any hidden motives and application of strategies to some end.
One of the things that I think would be great is bringing Mormonism into discussion with Christianity. I am sorry to continue to make a distinction. It’s because a distinction can be drawn that invites an investigation. The questions that need to be answered include that of why can such a distinction be drawn. Where in Mormon understanding, teaching, doctrine and practice do differences open up between Mormonism and the Christian Church.
I think that these questions are very important, especially at this time as Mormonism is attempting to melt into Christianity instead of owning Mormonism. Individuals like Denver Snuffer are very clear that Mormons need to own Mormonism. In owning Mormonism, Mormons need to understand what makes their religious system and doctrine of God unique. In so doing the question of why Mormonism is necessary is addressed.
The foundation of this discussion is the very nature of God. This podcast did not address these questions or place the Mormon Christ into conversation with the Christian God. In the weakness of this medium I have tried to underline, although at too much length, this distinction. However, upon investigation, and perhaps with some of the reading suggestions I have posted you, and perhaps others will come to appreciate that fundamentally there is something very different in Mormonism, that does not allow it to be included in the Christian Church.
After years of faithful Mormon adherence, including serving a mission and temple marriage etc., I no longer attend, but have found a place in the Anglican Communion. My transition was very difficult and has indeed cost me so much more than I would prefer to post here. Never-the-less, my experience has helped me to appreciate that the differences between Mormonism and the Christian church are very real and cannot be dismissed as minor differences. It is a fascinating area of study.
I’m very glad you posted here, Michael, and I think others have been, as well. It has been good to read about the Trinity again. I’m also very glad that you have found a wonderful spiritual home in the Anglican Communion.
On the question that seems to occupy you still, “…there is something very different in Mormonism, that does not allow it to be included in the Christian Church,” I repeat my complete lack of interest. If you’ll go back in this podcast, over and over again I argue that Mormons should own their unique claims, that I couldn’t care less what other Christian denominations (or the “Christian Church” whatever that means!) label us. What had continued to astound me, and now learning that you are a former Mormon missionary it is even more of a surprise, is that you could imagine that calling Mormons non-Christian is anything but a non-starter in attempts at effective dialogue. There is no “its own self definition aside,” everyone is free to express their beliefs and experiences in whatever terms she or he likes. Dress up creating “in” and “out” groups however you’d like, it will never lead to a good end. Karl Barth doesn’t get to draw circles, and just because the debate over Arius’ ideas went the other way back in the day doesn’t make any version of Arianism (and, really, who cares what label one gives?) “non-Christian.”
My replies about how you’ve interacted here have always been typed with a smile and with an eye to offering you a mirror to see yourself in as you decide (or not) to have future interactions with Mormons. But while we’re talking about it, it’s also probably not a good idea to take an exasperated tone (“Please read your Athanasius or your Torrance. You’re killing me.”), and with many replies you also seemed to not remember the purposes of the podcast, especially that first section, which was to tell of the evolution in LDS views on Christology, not to offer a graduate seminar on the Trinity. You weren’t the intended audience, but it was good to get some refreshers on the things you commented on, and we went along with you. You just weren’t persuasive–to me, at least. Other readers may have had different reactions.
A conclusion that my own graduate study in religion, including quite a few courses in Christianity and Christian theology, has led me to is that any kind of theology that requires massive graduate-level study to even articulate–is disqualified from possibly being essential to salvation (even if one wanted to entertain the idea that beliefs ultimately matter in “salvation” beyond their effects on the human soul). What is true–and this works in eastern as well as western traditions–is that something important happens “in” us. It’s what Gautama taught, as well as Jesus and Paul and Joseph Smith. When we start putting a bunch of layers on top of that, we can sometimes come to richer appreciations (and sometimes I grant that people with intellectual temperaments might need stuff like this before they can exercise faith), but more often than not, I think it obscures.
Best, always! Dan
Overall, I found the discussions (Part 1-4 so far) interesting and the panelist’ personal interpretations of the “Christ within Mormonism” benign and resonant with my exposure to progressive Christianity, meager as that may be.
However, I also found Jody’s discussion of Mother Teresa’s turning back the compassionate intentions of visiting Westerners’ disturbing. When these visitors said, “We’ve got to do something, we can save these people, we can cure them,” Mother Teresa evidently “would not them be there if they were like that.” As Judy added, “[the Western visitors] needed to allow them to remain the way they were and pass on … it wasn’t just a matter of loving them … but [of] not going to where we go, which is to fix them, to change them, to turn them into people more like us, who are clean, who are healthy, who are dressed well … accepting them where they were at and allowing them to continue on the journey they were on, which in that place was towards death.”
This strikes me as a gross conflation of moral values. What does a Western cultural “fix” have to do with a physical suffering “fix”? Is it really necessary to let people suffer and die because providing Western medicine commits the greater sin of Western cultural imposition? Why not push Mother Teresa out of the way and ask the suffering what they might want? This comes across as piety gone off the rails … the spiritual hubris of “allowing” people to die. I’ll have to look into this.
Jody England Hansen cited the “Last Battle,” by C.S. Lewis, specifically the scene with the dwarves who think they are still in the stable. Another scene from that book is speaks to the issue you discussed at length of whether salvation in Christ is interpreted parochially (i.e.., you have to know the correct name of Christ and the correct Christian story), or universally (an underlying Christ character, principles, and path that are universal). Emeth is a Calormene lord who is a lifetime devoted follower of Tash, the evil (incorrect) but real (actually existing) deity of the Calormenes. When Emeth crosses the threshold and meets Aslan (the good and real deity), he expects to be destroyed. Instead, Aslan tells him “I take to me the services which thou hast done to Tash. For I and he are of such different kinds that no service which is vile can be done to me, and none which is not vile can be done to him.” This seems consistent with a broad interpretation of scriptures like Moroni 7:11-13.
Great insight, Joseph. Thank you!
Dan, Minute 17 episode (4 I think, it’s the first one after you reconvened) You are talking of your surprise as Christ shown as a nursing mother in paitinings. You have missed the Trinitarian message and Old Testament references depicted in the subject matter. I am sorry to overparticipate on your blog.
Surprise? Perhaps I was back in 1989 when I first encountered it. Have enjoyed those kinds of depictions ever since. In terms of missing the Trinitarian message and OT references in a Christ offering his breast for nursing, I guess I have. Can you elucidate? And would those be the only ways to interpret such depictions? Would the mystical sort of message and the symbolism we suggested on the podcast really be out of the question?
Hi Dan, just briefly as I am busy writing a paper, the OT includes descriptions of God as a nursing mother. The work of art you saw is including Jesus in God’s divine identity (see Richard Bauckham). You were seeing Yahweh-Kyrios in the painting.
There is no mysticism in this for Christians as this would reject revelation. The doctrine of the Trinity keeps us from mysticism and mythology. In the Trinity we have the revelation, the revealer and the revealed (see Karl Barth Church Dogmatics vol. 1) This is the revelation of scripture. Anything else is an idol, an invention of man. Only God reveals God. This is the message that Paul gave to the Corinthians in what we call his first letter to them. The Corinthians were taught by Paul that man does not gain a knowledge of God through his own efforts. God is revealed to them in Christ and him crucified. This is what makes Christianity unique. While others have said this I like how David Torrance says it. The Christian religion is different from every other religion. The Christian religion is about Gods search for man (drawing on Barth) while all other religions are about man’s search for God. This is the message of the Cross. Mormonism will never be a Christian faith under the big Christian tent until it rejects its radical Arianism and comes to accept the God revealed in Scripture (and other things of course too, but that would be most of it)
Thanks for the opportunity to participate on your blog.
I have thought for many years about what difference the LDS doctrine of the Godhead could possibly make in actual worship or lived religious experience, compared to the traditionally orthodox Christian Trinity. I have come repeatedly to the conclusion that where it makes a difference is in whether humans are of the “same species” as God (PPP terminology) or whether God is “wholly other” (traditional Christian understanding). See my letter and others at http://www.firstthings.com/article/2009/02/february-letters
Loved all the episodes. I am grateful for the opportunity to be exposed to a richer interpretation of Jesus Christ. I have pondered many of the notions discussed. Thank You all!
This is one of your finest “hours” Dan. Thanks for focusing on this subject and in this truly insightful and unique way. Not sure if we can dig deep and wide enough into Jesus so I’d be delighted with even more and different takes on this foundational figure that our theological world revolves around.
I am an active LDS member that has struggled with the temple because of the seemingly belittling attitudes toward the woman, specifically in the endowment ordinance. During this podcast, Jody commented that we should approach the temple experience not identifying completely with our own gender, but recognize we should be identifying with the depiction of all of the characters. I find this concept very interesting and wonder if Jody would be willing to expand a bit more on this idea.
Thank you for your question and thoughts, Kimb.
When I prepared to first go to the temple and receive my endowments, I spoke often with my dad. I remember him saying that the power of the creation and garden and fall story in the temple is that it is about each of us. There is no real value in sitting there wondering about if that is what Adam and Eve looked like and acted like. This is a teaching of what we all face. What has happened through personal revelation since then is that I see where I am at this moment. Am I trying more to stay in the garden, and not have to choose? Am I willing to consider that it is time to step into an unknown moment of greater wisdom, even with great consequences? Am I trying to impose my control, for whatever reason, in ways that inhibit another’s agency? Am I creating life? What can I learn from this moment and from personal revelation about where I am and what I am facing? There is something for each of us in each part of the story.
Being a visual artist, I also teach that is the power of any piece of artwork or movie or play or book. It allows us to vicariously experience situations, and we can see ourselves in any role, or part, or place, and learn from it.
I think the cultural limitations we place on gender depictions limit us in experiencing all that God has to teach us. Right now, I think we need to use our individual agency to seek for ways to open our hearts and minds to greater light and knowledge that is not limited by long held traditions that might limit what we are willing to hear from God. That is part of the good news of the Gospel. God knows us each by name, and wants us to have all that will help us, but will not and can not force us to receive what we will not listen for. I like this quote from Elder Uchtdorf…If we stop asking questions, stop thinking, stop pondering, we can thwart the revelations of the Spirit….. We can block the growth and knowledge our Heavenly Father intends for us. How often has the Holy Spirit tried to tell us something we needed to know but couldn’t get past the massive iron gate of what we thought we already knew? –Dieter F. Uchtdorf.
Sorry if that went on beyond your question. Basically, I look at all figures and characters and people as opportunities to see myself, and where I am on the journey, and what I can learn.
I apologize. I should have lead with how valuable this podcast was to me. What a fanatastic discussion! Thank you all for your time and effort.
The characteristic of Christ that I find overwhelming is humility.
The Humility of God to allow someone like me to carry His/Her name, strikes at my heart, and brings me to my knees.
The Humility of God that allows waiting on mortals. Waiting patiently while we learn the same lessons over and over again….while we think we know and understand ideas and concepts that are eternal….and the world doesn’t get blown up, or flooded, while we learn.
The Humility of God that keeps coming back and seeking our hearts in whatever way possible. Never forcing. Never yelling. A seemingly constant invitation to Love.
Humility. God. Wow.
Thank you for this podcast. It was a wonderful gift to me.
This was fabulous, fabulous, fabulous. Thank you. I’m a non-denominational Christian with academic training in evolutionary biology and an interest in theology and intellectual gymnastics, and I found this the best and most informative programme on theology around Jesus Christ I’ve ever heard, or seen, anywhere – and I’ve been digging through stuff like that for nearly 30 years, read all the Apocrypha, many Dead Sea Scroll texts etc etc. Thank you thank you! 🙂 I work with my hands a lot at present as we’re building our own house, and it’s wonderful to learn so much stuff while gainfully occupied!