A reprint from Mormon Matters.
Prepare for the ultimate philosophical smack down between a David and a Goliath! In one corner we have our champ Craig L. Blomberg who I have been told is one of the foremost New Testament scholars in the world. Simply put, he’s brilliant.
Our contender is my former missionary companion who was never anything but a junior companion.
Craig Blomberg comes out of his corner swinging, in How Wide the Divide? His upper-cut is the logical impossibility of the Mormon concept of becoming divine and having more than one Omnipotent “being.” He says,
Even simple logic should suggest that it is contradictory to have more than one omnipotent being; otherwise, for example, not only would God be able to judge me but I would be able to judge God. Both of us could theoretically destroy each other, and then there would be no eternally existing God. (How Wide the Divide? p. 212)
Well, spectators at home, Mormonism has taken a blow. It starts to fall and swoon. Blomberg may have just disproven Mormonism altogether using “simple logic.” So everyone on this website, please close up shop and go home, this show is over.
But wait, here comes my poor little companion out of his corner with a one-two punch response to Blomberg – and years before Blomberg ever tried his upper cut!
In passing my companion once mentioned to me that the Jehovah’s Witnesses attempt to disprove other Christians with the very same argument Blomberg uses. It seems the Jehovah’s Witnesses are fond of saying, “How can there be three Almighties? That’s a contradiction! All of Christianity is wrong, including Craig Blomberg’s form of it! [Note: okay, I admit I added that part.] Jehovah is the only Almighty and Jesus is not an Almighty! “My Father is Greater than I.” This is simple logic! All of Christendom should convert to the religion of the Jehovah’s Witnesses because we are the only ones being logical!”
“But Elder Nielson,” he said to me, “They are wrong. This isn’t logical. If multiple beings have the same purpose and will — if they never come into conflict over what they want — you can logically have an infinite number of Almighties.”
So there we have it: my former companion’s inadvertent response to Craig Blomberg’s “simple logic.” It would appear our Goliath is down for the count, logically speaking. He never made it past round 1.
The Aftermath: One Moral Will Theology
My former companion’s brief comment resulted into my additional scriptural studies on this topic. This proved a profitable approach to scripture study, particularly with the Book of Mormon.
I have named this doctrine: “One Moral Will Theology.”
At the same time my companion clarified for me the profound importance of Jesus’ teaching that He and the Father were one (John 10:30) and that He desired His disciples to be one with Him in the same way He is one with the Father. (John 17:11, 21) It turns out Jesus didn’t just want us to “be one” (D&C 38:27) because it’s unseemly when we don’t behave ourselves.
And it came to pass that I realized that in Mormon theology the Trinity Doctrine and Plurality of Gods Doctrine are really one and the same doctrine.
Logic and Reason: Are Human Beings Capable of Using Them Evenly?
All these years later, I am still dumbfounded at the ease with which my companion shunted aside such a logically “sounding” surface argument. It has made me question the purpose of even having logic/reason discussions such as this. If this is the best a massively brilliant person like Blomberg can do, how well am I doing?
But what really amazes me are the following three take aways from this match up:
Point #1: Even Really Smart People Are Incapable of Using Reason If It Goes Against Their Beliefs
How could someone as smart as Craig Blomberg not figure out that the Mormon view of Deity suffers no “simple logic” problem like he asserts? It’s certainly not a lack of familiarity with Mormon theology on this subject; his grasp of Mormon theology through out the book proves this.
And how could he not see that his “simple logic” could be – is — used against him just as easily and would mean little more?
Once we realize that to everyone in the world — save creedal Christians only — that “being” and “person” are synonyms, consider a slight rewording of Blomberg’s quote:
“Even simple logic should suggest that it is contradictory to have more than one omnipotent person; otherwise, for example, not only would the Father be able to judge Jesus but Jesus would be able to judge Father. Both of them could theoretically destroy each other, and then there would be no eternally existing God.”
Do you think Blomberg would still feel this is good logic? Is he ready to go join the Jehovah’s Witnesses now?
Point #2: We Don’t Differentiate Between “Logic” and “Assumption”
Perhaps more uncomfortable is the realization that Blomberg’s logic is actually sound; it’s just based on assumptions Mormons don’t hold. I will grant that his unspoken assumption plays to our intuition: the fact that no two persons on earth ever completely share one moral will and purpose. That is to say, we have no direct experience with people that share the same purpose and will so it’s hard for us to conceive. Blomberg’s “logic” is only “logic” if we start with the assumption that such a thing is impossible.
Worse yet, as per my reworded quote above, it would appear that Blomberg’s argument was based on an assumption that he does not himself hold to be true. What we have here is a double standard in his logic.
But this is only the beginning of my woes because:
Point #3: This Post is A Waste of All Our Time
Because either a) I think I’m being logical, but in reality I am just fooling myself to believe that I am because it’s convenient for my point of view (see point number 1); or b) I am being logical but it won’t matter because anyone that disagrees with me (including Blomberg if he were to read this) will fail to comprehend the logic presented because it’s convenient for their point of view.
Either way this post was pointless.