Ep44-God The Eternal Father- The Problems of Theism & The Love of God Ch 12

Topics Discussed:
• The Scriptural Argument
• The King Follett Discourse
• The Sermon in the Grove
• Why Would a Divine Person Become Mortal?


King Follett Discourse:

Sermon in the Grove:

New Cool Thang: Did God "Come to be God' or not?

New Cool Thang: Yes, God the Father has a Father

Juvenile Instructor: "Infinite Regress" or "Monarchical Monotheism"?

Show Notes:


“On February 5, 1840, Joseph Smith observed: “I believe that God is eternal. That he had no beginning, and can have no end. Eternity means that which is without beginning or end.”1 However, just a few years later, Joseph Smith reportedly stated: “We have imagined and supposed that God was God from all eternity. I will refute that idea.”2 How can these both be true?”

“I also want to clear away an assumption that could derail this discussion before it gets started. It is common among Latter-day Saints to assert that it is necessary to have a glorified body of flesh and bones to be divine. However, that view is surely mistaken, for the LDS scriptures uniformly identify the Son as the God revealed in the Old Testament. It follows that the Son was fully divine before he became mortal. ”

“The Holy Ghost is a personage of spirit though a fully divine person (D&C 130:22)”

“In LDS thought, it is also clear that God the Father is an eternally self-existent being. The notion of God’s self existence was made clear by Joseph Smith in his April 1844 King Follett discourse: “We say that God is a self-existent being. Who told you so? It is correct enough; but how did it get into your heads?”

“Has the Father always existed as a divine person from all eternity without beginning? This question makes a distinction between at least the following two possibilities:
(1) There was an interval of time from T2 through T3 during which the Father was mortal and not fully divine, but the Father was fully divine eternally prior to T2 and forever after T3.

(2) There was a time T2 at which the Father first became fully divine, but he was not fully divine prior to T2; however, the Father has always existed without beginning and will always exist without end.”

The Scriptural Argument

“ I will argue for the view that: (a1) “God the Father is eternally, without beginning, a divine person,” although: (a2) “he condescended for a time to become a mortal in the same manner as Christ.”

“Consider the various ways in which the eternity of God is affirmed in LDS scripture:
Father, Son and Holy Ghost are one God, infinite and eternal, without end. (D&C 20:27; cf., Mosiah 15:2–5; Alma 11:44; Eth. 12:41)

Behold, I am the Lord God Almighty, and Endless is my name; for I am without beginning of days or end of years; and is not this endless? (Moses 1:3–5)

By these things we know that there is a God in heaven who is infinite and eternal, from everlasting to everlasting the same unchangeable God, the framer of heaven and earth. (D&C 20:17)

For we know that God is not a partial God, neither a changeable being; but he is unchangeable from all eternity to all eternity. (Moro. 8:18)”

“Joseph Smith’s statements also show that the view that God is eternally divine is not an early view that he later superceded, although, as we shall see, he did develop a nuanced view of God’s eternity.”

“there are two sermons given by Joseph Smith in Nauvoo that may appear to challenge this uniform scriptural teaching: the King Follett discourse given April 7, 1844, and the Sermon in the Grove, given June 16, 1844.”

The King Follett Discourse

“It is the first principle of the Gospel to know for a certainty the Character of God, and to know that we may converse with him as one man converses with another, and that he was once a man like us; yea, that God himself, the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth, the same as Jesus Christ himself did; and I will show it from the Bible. . . . The Scriptures inform us that Jesus said, As the Father hath power in Himself, even so hath the Son power—to do what? Why, what the Father did. The answer is obvious—in a manner to lay down His body and take it up again.”

“John 5:19 reads: “The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do; for what things soever he [the Father] doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.”

“if this scriptural interpretation is followed to its conclusion, then the Father’s mortal experience was like Christ’s, and thus it is more consistent to interpret Joseph Smith to assert that the Father, like Christ, was divine before his mortal sojourn but emptied himself of his divinity and became mortal for a time.”

“the Prophet declares that, as a mortal, the Father had a power that only a divine being can have—the power to lay down his body and take it up again.”

“What did Jesus do? Why; I do the things I saw my Father do when worlds came rolling into existence. My Father worked out his kingdom with fear and trembling, and I must do the same; and when I get my kingdom I shall present it to my Father, so that he may obtain kingdom upon kingdom, it will exalt him in glory. He will then take a higher exaltation, and I will take his place, and thereby become exalted myself. So that Jesus treads in the tracks of his Father, and inherits what God did before; and God is thus glorified and exalted in the salvation and exaltation of all his children.”

“Here then is eternal life—to know the only wise and true God; and you have got to learn how to be Gods yourselves, and to be kings and priests to God, the same as all Gods have done before you, namely, by going from one small degree to another, and from a small capacity to a great one; from grace to grace, from exaltation to exaltation, until you attain to the resurrection of the dead, and are able to dwell in everlasting burnings, and to sit in glory, as do those who sit enthroned in everlasting power.”

“there are at least two interpretations of this passage:
(A) Persons learn how to become Gods by becoming a “god” at some first time T1 by advancing from one capacity to another until they reach the status of gods.

(B) God the Father has been in a process of eternal progression from one exaltation to another for all eternity, and humans can commence to progress toward godhood by engaging in the same activity of progression.”

“In the official report of the King Follett discourse which B. H. Roberts redacted and edited for the official seven-volume history of the Church, Joseph Smith is reported as stating: “I am going to tell you how God came to be God. We have imagined and supposed that God was God from all eternity. I will refute that idea, and take away the veil, so that you may see.”

Explain the differing accounts

“A final consideration of the King Follett discourse makes it almost certain that Joseph Smith adopted a form of monarchical monotheism rather than simple henotheism or polytheism. Joseph’s interpretation of Genesis 1:1 entailed that there is a single God who is the head of all other gods. Joseph stated:
[I will] make a comment on the first sentence of the history of creation. Berosheit want to annalize the word—Be—in by through & everything else—rosh [indecipherable]—the head. sheit—where do [sic] it come from—when they inspired man wrote he did not put it there. It reads in the first—the head one of the Gods brought forth the Gods—is true meaning—rosheet signifies to bring forth the Eloheim [sic]. Learned men cannot learn any more that what I have told you hence the head God brought forth the head God in the grand council.”

“It follows that there is a head God (the monarch) and other gods who are subordinate to him in the council of gods.”

The Sermon in the Grove

“Joseph Smith gave an interpretive discourse on Revelation 1:3: “And hath made us kings and priests unto God and His Father.” What interests Joseph Smith in this verse is the reference to both God and his Father, because he reads it to support a plurality of gods. In addition, this scriptural verse supports the view that “God” has a Father. The sermon has four topics to support this interpretation.”

“Joseph refers to Abraham 3:19: “ . . . there are two spirits, one being more intelligent than the other; there shall be another more intelligent than they; I am the Lord thy God, I am more intelligent than they all” (emphasis mine).26 The Book of Abraham views the head God as the Most High God, the most intelligent of all intelligences.”

“However, the view that there must be an eternal chain of gods, of which the Father is only one, seems to be supported by the next statement that Joseph Smith makes: “If Abraham reasoned thus—If Jesus Christ was the Son of God, and John discovered that God the Father of Jesus Christ had a Father, you may suppose that He had a Father also. Where was there ever a son without a father? And where was there ever a father without first being a son? . . . Hence, if Jesus had a Father, can we not believe that He had a Father also?”

“there are at least two ways to understand the statement that the Father of Christ had a father:
(X) When the Father condescended from a fulness of his divine state to become mortal, he was born into a world and had a father as a mortal.

(Y) Before he was a mortal, the Father was spiritually begotten by another Father above him.”

“I want you to pay particular attention to what I am saying. Jesus said that the Father wrought precisely in the same way as His Father had done before Him. As the Father had done before? He laid down His life, and took it up the same as His Father had done before.”

“The Father, like the Son, exercised a power that only a divine being has: to lay down his life and take up again after death.”

“Joseph Smith seems to be asserting that the Father also left his divine state to become begotten of a father at the time he became mortal.”

“It is of extreme importance to note that in the George Laub’s journal notes of the Sermon in the Grove, Joseph Smith stated that: “the holy ghost is yet a Spiritual body and waiting to take upon himself a body, as the Savior did or as god did.”31 Thus, Joseph Smith taught that already divine persons, including the Son and the Holy Ghost, take upon themselves bodies”

“In addition, I believe that the reading of these statements which assumes the “Father of God the Father” refers to a more supreme deity, or one who spiritually begets the Father from intelligence to a spirit body, is likely anachronistic.32 Such a reading makes assumptions about spiritual birth and intelligences being begotten into spirit bodies that were absent from Joseph Smith’s views.”

Why Would a Divine Person Become Mortal?

“LDS scriptures suggest a compelling reason why each of the divine persons may choose to become incarnated. There are some things that a divine person as one Godhead cannot know. The relationship of the divine persons in the Godhead is, by its very nature, the most intimate and loving experience possible. They live their lives in each as an indwelling spiritual presence. They are transparent to each other. While they are distinct persons, they are not isolated, alienated, or separated persons like we are. To know what it is to experience the existential vicissitudes of mortal life, to participate in the blood and mud of humanity, they must leave the unity of the Godhead to become not merely distinct, but separated, even experiencing abandonment by the other two members of the Godhead.”


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