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) Continue reading
Insights from the Ascension of Isaiah
The Ascension of Isaiah is an early Christian document that is thought to have been written some time in the second century A.D., and is considered a Christian re-working of an older Jewish tradition. It resembles, in some ways, Isaiah 6, but details a much more elaborate vision, in which Isaiah is taken, in spirit, through the various levels of Heaven until he reaches the highest heaven, where he is privileged to behold a vision of the Father, Beloved Son, and Holy Spirit.
For further background info on Ascension of Isaiah, and to read the text (translated from the Greek version), please see http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/ascension.html.
Starting in Chapter 6 of the text, Isaiah recounts the vision that he saw in which a glorious angel comes to him, takes him by the hand, and leads him upwards into the heavens. The angel declares the purpose of this celestial journey:
When I have raised thee on high through the various degrees…You will see one who is greater than I…and his Father also who is greater you will see (vv. 7:4, 7-8).
In my post on Book of Mormon Doctrine of Deity, Divine Investiture, Representational Modalism, I mentioned the idea that some people hold up Mosiah 15:1-5 as proof that Joseph Smith (as supposed author of the Book of Mormon) originally wrote the Book of Mormon to support a Swedenborgian view of God (aka Serial Modalism) where The Father is a spirit that took on a body called Jesus.
In my opinion, this point of view ignores a lot of facts or at least force fits them. For example, the Book of Mormon also presents both the Spirit of the Lord as being a person as well as the premortal Jesus. It also presents the premortal Jesus as talking from Heaven as a personality separate from the Father.
But there is a bigger problem I have with the assumption that Mosiah 15:1–5 can only be historically read as Swedenborgian and thus (we are told) we must assume Joseph Smith meant it that way.
It’s D&C 93.
Do Joseph Smith’s own writings count as counter evidence if he explicitly tells us what he means? Continue reading
Divine Investiture and Modalism
In my last post, I discussed how Divine Investiture is the lynchpin of all Mormon Doctrine of Deity and probably of all Mormon Doctrines period. Even non-Mormon theology, if it lacks Divine Investiture, is often logically inconsistent.
An interesting fact of Divine Investiture is that it makes Mormons “Modalists,” after a fashion.
Here I pause to the storm of disaffected Mormon and anti-Mormon protest. “No, Mormons aren’t Modalists! They are the opposite of Modalists! They are Freakin’ Tritheists!”
I also pause to let the Believing Mormons protest (assuming they’ve even heard of Modalism before). “No! I am not a Modalist! That’s… a heresy! It’s worse than… than… the Trinity Doctrine!” Continue reading
A while back, KC Kern gave an explanation of the Mormon concept of Trinity. To summarize, Mormons often use the word “God” to refer collectively of the entire Godhead which can be thought of as an entity different but not fully distinct from each individual person in the Godhead. He likened “God” to a corporation, which is legally different from, but not fully distinct from the people that make up the corporation.
I think KC Kern’s explanation of the Mormon concept of Trinity is correct, but is missing (but hints at) one very important point which I wish to expand upon in the next few posts.
Included in the Mormon concept of deity is a doctrine called “Divine Investiture.” A summary of this doctrine is that each person in the Godhead fully represents the entire Godhead to the point of representing and even speaking for the others. 
Unfortunately Divine Investiture just doesn’t get the due it deserves. It is usually only trotted out to explain certain scriptures and then not mentioned again until we come to the next scripture that requires it. As such, some people have entirely discounted it as part of the doctrines of the LDS Church. They see it merely as an excuse to ignore or “figure-atize” scriptures that just don’t play well with Mormon’s (supposedly) otherwise Tritheistic doctrines.  Continue reading