Thursday, 16 January 2014

Equating the Mormon God (the Father) with Zeus/ Jupiter, the demiurge or a godling is usually ignorant/ misinformed; or else silly, or malicious


1. Ignorant/ Misinformed

It is no shame, neither is it unusual, to be misinformed about Mormonism (why should people know about it, after all?) - so long as this ignorance is acknowledged and correction is accepted.

Most often, people are both ignorant and misinformed - having accepted as truth various malicious lies and distortions, or else they are simply confused, and accidentally conflating Mormonism with other religions.

But Mormonism has been around 180 years, and masses of information is freely available - and we know in great detail how Mormonism has worked-out in practice and what Mormons actually do.

So that an informed person could never honestly equate the Mormon concept of God with the head of a pantheon such as Zeus or Jupiter, or the Platonic or Gnostic demiurge, or else a 'godling' (whatever they mean by that) - the facts very simply and obviously refute this equation.

Of course there are similarities - just as there are similarities between men and women, or the Archangel Michael and Satan, or Winston Churchill and David Cameron - but obviously that similarity does not make them the same.

(The proper question to ask, the correct enquiry to make, would be based on the knowledge that the Mormon concept of God was not the same as Zeus, a demiurge or 'godling' - and to try and understand why this was not so.)


2. Silly

People express opinions about stuff in an unserious way, without their brains being fully-engaged, just to make conversation or to fill-in time, or to provoke a response.

They don't really care much either way.

They are not prepared to pay attention, to concentrate, to follow a line of reasoning.

They are just silly - at least on this subject - and there is really no point in talking with them unless they will first stop being silly (or else it only encourages them in their silliness). 


3. Malicious

Malicious: a.k.a. wicked, evil, anti-Good.

Many people, including many or most Christians and all Leftists and Liberals; are malicious about Mormonism. They hate it, and they enjoy hating it, and they do not want anybody to disturb them in the enjoyment of this hatred.

They will cheerfully spread lies, distortions, false equations, confusions, gross exaggerations... whatever they suppose will cause the most damage to Mormonism.

They say things like that Mormons worship a polytheistic pantheon with God as the Chief; or that Mormons are some kind of Gnostic cultists; or that Mormons have a low view of God such that he is better described as a mere 'godling'. 

Other malicious people will then believe what these malicious people say, and so it goes. And since they are motivated by malice, it is impossible to refute such  lies - the less evidence for the lies the more sinister is the perceived conspiracy and threat...

Such people have put themselves on the wrong side, on the side of wrong - because they are hate-full; therefore, if they willfully remain on the side of hatred, then they have freely chosen to reject salvation.

(Of course, they can and may repent.)



Commodore said...

Clearly the Mormon God isn't a demiurge, and yes, saying such a thing would be hyperbole.

But let me offer a counterpoint to your generally held assumption that Christians are negatively biased against Mormons and knowledge without bias would lead to regarding them as fellow Christians. My initial feelings towards Mormons (the people) have been very positive, and Mormonism (the faith) skeptical but generally cautious about judging something I know less about. As you've done a very enthusiastic survey of Mormon doctrine, I have been increasingly impressed by how very heretical it all is; indeed you seem to agree that it flies in the face of traditional Orthodox Christian beliefs/theology. I still am positively inclined to individual Mormons, but the more I learn of the CJCLDS, the more I see it as not in the "heretical" camp (which Protestants, Catholics, and Orthodox will cheerfully put each other in without discounting the others as at least merely Christian) but in the "apostate" camp (worshiping something else). Indeed, you seem to be feeling similarly about any hard Calvinist/strict monist with the snarky references to "the other monotheism" to which we should belong...

Matthew C. said...

There are a lot of things about Mormonism, and Mormons which are very positive.

I would never put Mormons in the "Apostate" camp even though I cannot agree with much their theology. Their faces are turned towards Christ - and who of the sinners among can understand Him, really?

Bruce Charlton said...

@Commodore - you are greatly broadening the focus of this piece by your response.

I am not making a general point about Mormonism here.

From the 'mainstream' Christian perspective there is no doubt that Mormonism is heretical - but I am not really concerned about heresy: I regard heresy as almost trivial in a context of Christianity.

(I have this attitude because of my beliefs about salvation. I believe that Christ won everybody salvation by his work - everybody except for those who choose to reject it. However, that may be a lot of people.)

Apostasy, in the sense of turning against the church - does not apply specifically to Mormonism, since it does apply to any new church. Protestantism is apostate in relation to the Catholic churches, Roman Catholicism apostate in relation to Orthodoxy and so on.

My attitude to Mormonism overall can be found here:

I regard Christianity as (in this sense) an 'incredible' religion; and Mormonism an *especially* 'incredible' kind of Christianity.

That is to say, both layers of belief (Christianity, and within it Mormonism) are - to those who do not share them - extraordinary claims, extremely implausible but not impossible.

So I find it completely understandable that someone should choose not to be a Mormon (I am not, myself, a member of the church, after all - have indeed never even been inside a Mormon church; but you must not assume to interpret or infer anything from this fact).

But I would regard it as basic intellectual honesty for any informed person to acknowledge that there is nothing impossible about Mormonism - nothing that refutes it, that it is a perfectly legitimate faith.

In this respect Mormonism is precisely analogous to the larger case of Christianity. It seems perfectly reasonable to me that someone could know everything there is to know about Christianity, but choose not to be a Christian: in the sense that there is nothing which *compels* belief in Christianity.

I also feel that something similar applies to Calvinism, Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy and the old-style (Book of Common Prayer) Church of England (the list is not exhaustive). All are in principle perfectly legitimate modes of Christianity - with pros and cons - albeit they are not symmetrical or equivalent.

I am profoundly drawn to the LDS (and old style CoE; and in a sense to Orthodoxy, although it seems too exotic to be *real* for me) - and not to Calvinism or the RCC.

But while I would argue the LDS has many special advantages - especially in relation to marriage and the family and the theological focus - I cannot extrapolate that to all people, the whole world and all possible circumstances.

I would not recommend the Amish to change their spots, for example (although they will, sooner or later, have to drop their pacifism). And indeed I feel there is a special dispensation for the race of Orthodox Jews - so I believe Christians should welcome, but not seek, Jewish converts.

Thursday said...

Well, the King Follett discourse is clearly polytheistic. It's not technically binding on Mormons, but its doctrines is so widely believed in, from Presidents of the church on down to the common believer, that pragmatically it can be treated as part of Mormonism.

The Mormon god has a physical body and is only different in degree, not kind from human beings. He is just another creature in the universe, albeit vastly larger, more powerful, more knowledgeable and more morally benign. That may make him a really nice guy, but not God. He's a godling.

There's always something behind the Mormon god, more primary than him. He's not the ultimate anything. Though we may of course admire, like or even love him, like we do our earthly parents, he is unworthy of worship. Indeed it seems blasphemous to worship such a limited being.

I'm mildly admiring of Mormons as people.

Simeon said...

>I would not recommend the Amish to change their spots, for example (although they will, sooner or later, have to drop their pacifism

I don't understand that comment at all - don't you think if circumstances could convince anabaptist Christians (eg Amish, Mennonites, etc) to reject pacificism this would already have happened? They come from a tradition of martyrdom (see the copy of "Martyr's Mirror" in many such homes) that is real and present to their experience of faith. What could change to convince them to abandon what has endured for 300 years?

Bruce Charlton said...

@Th - a mixture of 1 and 3.

@Sim - by 'don't understand' I suppose you mean you don't agree that it could happen. Pacifism is not core to Christianity, indeed it is a very recent thing; so there is no reason why it could not be abandoned.

When there were a few hundred Amish, their best hope was not cause any trouble, be invisible and quietistic - now there are hundreds of thousands, doubling twice a generation, and constantly expanding territory, that is not an option.

The Federal liberals will try to destroy them for refusing to implement the sexual revolution (i.e. being 'bigots'). This has, I think, begun - and I predict will accelerate very soon.

When the US breaks-up, and there is no state to protect then - they will be like the Shire hobbits after the Rangers left. They will either be enslaved or resist.

Adam G. said...

The temptation is that malice is *pleasurable,* though it's a mostly harmless pleasure when its just this kind of thing, except when its wedded to righteous indignation.

Unfortunately, malice wedded to righteous indignation is the dominant mode of discourse these days.

Adam G. said...

your attack on Mormonism is exactly opposite the one you should make. Mormons, it is true, think of God as a man, but this isn't because Mormons bring him down to our level. It is because, incredibly, we think we are at his level in some sense. You should be accusing us of blasphemy. I'd think you're wrong, but at least you'd be characterizing our beliefs correctly.

simeon said...

@Bruce - yes I should have said I don't agree. Again - the anabaptist strains of Christianity have already endured fire and sword and martyrdom for their beliefs. This is not strictly limited to ancient history - as recently as WWI Hutterites, Mennonites, Amish etc were imprisoned subjected to maltreatment and even died as a result of their refusal to fight.

You may be entirely right about the Federal attitude towards the Amish but I expect the same result - they will flee if possible, be imprisoned or die if necessary, but they will not sacrifice their beliefs.

I wonder if you might enjoy reading some of the Anabaptist strain of Christianity. I'm guessing you are less familiar with the left wing of the reformation and its heirs than the larger branches of Catholicism, Orthodoxy, Magisterial Protestantism etc. Anabaptists for instance would claim that pacifism (or better named non-resistance) is certainly not a new thing in Christianity but a very old thing reclaimed. Jesus can be read as advocating non-resistance - it takes some effort to read him in any other way! - and early Church Fathers such as Origen and Tertullian condemned violence and military service while admitting that some Christians did take part in such things.

I understand your pragmatic approval of Mormonism given its success in supporting family life. You might find a similar appeal in the family life in many old order groups which manage to support large and close families without heresy from the broader stream of mere Christianity. They have been less evangelistically successful than Mormonism - but perhaps that is a result of the pacifistic response to persecution.