Ep45-The Distinctive Facets of the Mormon Concept of God and The Gods - Of God and Gods Ch 1

Topics Discussed:
• Creation by Organization of Matter
• The Council of Gods
• The Supreme or Head God
• One God Among the Gods Appointed as Ours
• Premortal Humans in the Council of the Gods
• Elohim and Jehovah in Mormon Thought

Show Notes:


Creation by Organization of Matter

“The creation occurred by organizing the world not “from nothing” but from preexisting matter.”

“In the King Follett Discourse Joseph Smith stated: “The word ‘create’ came from the word BARA; it does not mean to create out of nothing; it means to organize, the same as a man would organize materials to build a ship. Hence, we infer that God had materials to organize the world out of chaos—chaotic matter, which is element, and in which dwells all the glory. Element had an existence from the time He had. The pure principles of element are principles that can never be destroyed; they may be organized and reorganized but not destroyed.”

“the concept of creation out of absolute nothing is not found in the New Testament.”

Still somewhat of a Creator-Creature relationship in Mormonism....explain

“there are at least three views of the intelligence(s) in the Mormon thought:
(1) An uncreated intelligence with properties of free will and autonomy that exists without beginning but is later created in the sense that it is “begotten” (in some sense) as a spirit child of God and, at that time, becomes a “spirit”;
(2) Intelligence, or the light of truth, which is uncreated, and intelligences, which are created when they are individuated from this Intelligence as free and autonomous beings who later are begotten sons and daughters of God;
(3) Spirits that are identical to autonomous intelligences which exist without beginning and without being begotten.
The first view was elucidated by Brigham H. Roberts.
The second view was held by Bruce R. McConkie and Charles Penrose.
The third view was held by Joseph Smith.”

“In addition, “the elements are eternal” and uncreated (D&C 93:33). However, “elements” appears not to refer to the elements on the periodic chart—hence, to already organized sub-atomic quanta. Rather, “element” appears to mean material states in their most elementary state of chaotic existence. ”

So was JS right about the word 'Bara'? Let's talk about the ancient Hebrew view of Cosmology.

“Jon Levenson, the Albert A. List Professor of Jewish Studies at Harvard Divinity School, stated : “Nowhere in the seven-day creation scheme of Genesis 1 does God create the waters; they are most likely primordial. The traditional Jewish and Christian doctrine of creatio ex nihilo can be found in this chapter only if one translates its first verse as “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” and understands it to refer to some comprehensive creative act on the first day. But that translation, subject to doubt since the Middle Ages, has fallen into disfavor among scholars, and the rest of the chapter indicates that the heaven was created on the second day to restrain the celestial waters (vv. 9–10), and the earth on the third day (vv. 9–10). It is true—and quite significant—that the God of Israel has no myth of origin. Not a trace of theogony can be found in the Hebrew Bible. God has no nativity. But there do seem to be other divine beings in Genesis 1, to whom God proposes the creation of humanity, male and female together: “Let us make man in our own image, after our likeness” (v. 26). When were these other divine beings created? They too seem to have been primordial. . . . From the biblical accounts of the divine assembly in session, it would appear that these “sons of God/gods” played an active role and made fresh proposals to God, who nonetheless had the final say.”

The Council of Gods

“There was a grand council consisting of a plurality of gods in the beginning of the creation of this earth.”

Briefly touched on here just to point out that as early as 1830 JS referred to a plurality of Gods even if just the three members of the Godhead.

The Supreme or Head God

“In the earliest Hebrew pantheon, the head God was referred to variously as El, Elohim, El Elyon, and El Shaddai, among other epithets. In the patriarchal age, El Elyon was the name of the God whom Melchizedek worshipped and to whom Abraham paid tithes (Gen. 14:18–20). El Elyon can mean “the Supreme God,” or “the Most High God,” “El the Highest One,” or “El who is the God Elyon.”

Now we get into Joseph Smith's views.

“There still remains some dissonance regarding several issues related to the status of the head God. These issues include: (1) whether the God and Father of Jesus Christ is a supreme God in some sense—a Most High God who is the God of all other gods; (2) whether the Father is just one in an infinite hierarchy of gods and thus not a head God or God of gods; and (3) whether this head God is in fact the God and Father of Jesus Christ or some other divine figure altogether. The alternative to the view that the Father is the head God, who is the supreme God of all other Gods, is the view that the Father was merely appointed to become one of the head gods and that there are, logically, Gods more supreme and ultimate than the Father.”

“The extant texts of Joseph Smith’s King Follett and Grove sermons allow several readings. However, I find more persuasive the reading that there is a Most High God, who presides over a council of gods, and a chief vizier, who is appointed to act as the Most High’s principal agent, rather than the claims of the reading that sees an infinite chain of gods above the head God.”

One God among the Gods Appointed as Ours

“The council of gods, under the direction of the head God, appointed one God to preside over us in the work of creation and redemption.”

“I believe that Joseph Smith taught that there is a head God who is the God of all other gods and that the council, under the direction of this Most High God, met to appoint a God over this entire world or scope of all that God created. Such a view would bring Joseph Smith’s teachings into line with Deuteronomy 32, which states that Yahweh was appointed as the God of Israel. Deuteronomy 32:8–9 is one of the oldest strata of sources in the Hebrew writings: “When the Most High (’elyon) gave the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of men, he fixed the bounds of the people according to the number of the sons of God (bene ’elohim). For the Lord’s (Yhwh) portion is his people, Jacob his allotted heritage” (Revised Standard Version [RSV]).”

“The notion that one among the Gods was appointed is also presented in Abraham 3, which presents the dramatic dialogue of the divine council of gods at the time the Lord appointed rulers:
3:22. Now the Lord had shown unto me, Abraham, the intelligences that were organized before the world was; and among these were many of the noble and great ones.
23. And God saw these souls that were good, and he stood in the midst of them, and he said: These I will make my rulers; for he stood among those that were spirits, and he saw that they were good; and he said unto me: Abraham, thou art one of them; thou wast chosen before thou wast born.
24. And there stood one among them that was like unto God, and he said: We will go down, for there is space there, and we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these can dwell. . . .
27. And the Lord said: Whom shall I send? And one answered like unto the Son of Man: Here am I, send me. And another answered and said: Here am I send, send me. And another answered and said: Here am I send, send me. And the Lord said: I will send the first.”

Who is one like unto God, Like unto the son of man?

Explain parallels with Daniel 7

Premortal Humans in the Council of Gods

“Among these gods in the pre-earth council were intelligences who existed eternally without creation before they became mortal.”

“Joseph Smith’s belief in premortal spirits in the council of gods is well established. In the King Follett Discourse, Joseph proclaimed:
The first principles of man are self-existent with God. God himself, finding he was in the midst of spirits and glory, because he was more intelligent, saw proper to institute laws whereby the rest could have a privilege to advance like himself. The relationship we have with God places us in a situation to advance in knowledge. He has power to institute laws to instruct the weaker intelligences, that they may be exalted with Himself, so that they might have one glory upon another, and all that knowledge, power, glory, and intelligence, which is requisite in order to save them in the world of spirits.”

Many noble and great ones. They are the rulers

“Humans have the potential to be gods because they are the same kind as God.”

Elohim and Jehovah in Mormon Thought

“It could be argued that Mormons should not expect to find an accurate knowledge of God in the Old Testament presently available to us because Israel rejected the higher law when it was given.”

“It is imperative to keep in mind that the distinction between Elohim, as God the Father, and Jehovah, as God the Son, is a creation of early twentieth-century Mormon scholarship that was adopted more as a means of distinguishing the Father from the Son in common discourse than an attempt to reflect a fixed doctrine of divine identity. In other words, it is a mere convention of distinguishing the two rather than a doctrine or scriptural truth. ”

“The revelations received by Joseph Smith refer to God the Father as Jehovah as well as by other divine names. For example, in Doctrine and Covenants 109, the dedicatory prayer for the Kirtland Temple, Joseph Smith prays to “the Holy Father in the name of Jesus Christ” (D&C 109:4, 10, 22, 29, 47); however, he addresses the Father as “O Jehovah” no fewer than four times (D&C 109:34, 42, 56, 68). Joseph Smith also taught that the Father’s name is Ahman, not Elohim (D&C 78:20; 95:17). In contrast, the Father is never called Elohim in Mormon scripture. The book of Abraham does not distinguish between Elohim and Jehovah, and there is no basis in the text for the view that El is the Father and Jehovah is the Son. It is a mistake to assert that, for Mormons, Elohim is the Father and Yahweh is the Son Jesus Christ without further explanation—the kind that I have just given.”

It is easy to say that the Mormon view is an abandonment of Israel’s most basic commitment—the commitment to monotheism. However, the charge oversimplifies just what is entailed in Israelite views of the council of El. Such charges are made by beginning with a ready-made idea of what monotheism must be, based upon the assumptions of metaphysical monotheism”


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