Ep54-The Godhead in Mormon Thought (pt 2) - Of God and Gods Ch 8



Topics Discussed:
• The Divine Kind
•  Indwelling Love
• The Ontological Nature of Personal Existence
• The Scriptural Argument for Yahweh’s Kind Uniqueness




Show Notes:

The Divine Kind

“It is clear that the key issue is what is entailed in the divine nature—in other words, what it means to be the same kind as the Most High God.”

“What I am asserting is that the scriptures have a notion of kind or nature and that there are others of God’s kind. They are designated as God’s kind by being called “gods” and “sons of God.” Indeed, Christ, the Son of God, is designated to be the same kind as the Father precisely by being called a “son.”

“Mormons believe that we are, in some sense, the offspring of God. We are his sons and daughters. We are not different in kind; we exemplify the divine nature to the extent that we fulfill the commandment to love as God loves.”

“Further, it is common to define the nature of a kind in terms of properties that must be possessed all at once. That seems to me to be a mistake. The kinds of things that we know that have natures, have potentiality to realize properties that seem quite uncharacteristic of that kind as it grows and realizes its nature. For instance, an acorn has little in common with an oak tree except “oak DNA.” However, because they both possess the essential property of being the kind “oak” (precisely by possessing oak DNA), the acorn is as much of the kind “oak” as a fully grown oak tree”

“It seems to me that it means that there are certain properties of a kind that are shared among the Most High God and the subordinate gods that are mutually necessary and jointly sufficient to belong to the kind “divine.” Intuitively, to be a god is to be a person who shares fully in relevant attributes of God by participation.”

“The key notion underlying the meaning of “divine person” or “god” in Mormon scripture is that the gods share in the glory, power, and knowledge of the one true God, the Father, by virtue of indwelling participation in divine light that proceeds from the one God’s presence “to fill the immensity of space.”

“the divine nature can be defined as follows:
DN: For all X, X possesses the divine nature if and only if the following properties are actualized when X is joined in indwelling unity with others of the kind divine: (a) X is a person; (b) X has perfect cognitive faculties and knows immediately all things that can be known; (c) X can act immediately to bring about any result possible for maximal power; (d) X is present to all things as the potential to act in all places whatsoever; and (e) X is potentially joined in a relationship of perfect loving unity with other fully divine person(s).”

Unpacking DN (a)
“Thus, I propose that we define a person as an individual essence “IE” in the context of Mormon thought as follows:
IE: For all X, X is a person if and only if: (a) X has cognitive and conative faculties; (b) X is potentially conscious and self-determining if fully mature; and (c) X exists of ontological necessity as an instantiated individual essence from all eternity; (d) X is eternally related to others who are persons; and (e) X instantiates the divine nature DN.”

“This view of a person entails a particular view of intelligences as eternally having a capacity for consciousness and feeling. This view of what an intelligence is will undoubtedly be somewhat controversial, but it seems to me to accurately capture what I believe is intended by an “intelligence” in Mormon scripture (Abr. 3:18–23). It does not entail that intelligences are actually eternally conscious and sentient; rather, they merely have the potential to have such capacities. However, individuation and identity are eternal in this view. Such a characterization conflicts with the view of some Mormons that “intelligence” is nothing more than a universal mass of divine mental stuff that can be individuated by God.”

“We are essentially related to others in an eternal web of relationships in which the influences of others are embodied in the very fabric of our personal identity. Indeed, the very point of referring to the common light of Christ in Mormon scripture, which we all share as the very basis and condition of being conscious (D&C 88:11), highlights the fact that our consciousness is a social reality that involves the presence of otherness in our so-called self-consciousness.”
“The difference between the gods in the council of gods and the divine persons of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost is that the latter have chosen to be in a relationship of indwelling love from all eternity. The gods in the council of gods are the same kind of being as the divine persons in the Godhead. They have the capacity to be joined as one with them if they freely choose. If they are joined in indwelling unity with the Godhead then they actualize the divine properties. One does not have to be in the unity of the Godhead to possess the divine nature any more than a baby must be able to think rationally to be human. However, one must have the potential for such divine unity to possess the divine nature—and it is therefore the potential of having a “fulness of divinity” that defines those who possess the divine nature.”

Indwelling Love

“The properties of “godliness” or the divine nature are realized when persons who possess the divine nature are joined as one in a relationship of loving indwelling unity. It is like a light bulb in the presence of a power source. The light bulb is potentially a source of light, and this potentiality is realized when it enters into a certain relation with the power source. So it is with the divine persons. The potentiality for divinity is realized by accepting the divine light into one’s very soul and being. They become actualized by participating in the divine light that proceeds from the presence of God to fill them. When a person is filled with the light from God, the properties of the divine nature that are possessed in potentiality are actualized and they then also become a source of the divine light. Thus, the divine persons actualize their divine potential when they share their light with each other.”

“The Mormon scriptures are unique in that they identify the three divine persons as “one God” who are in each other. The references in the Mormon canon are clear on this point:
. . . the true doctrine of Christ, and the only true doctrine of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Ghost, which is one God, without end. (2 Ne. 31:21; emphasis mine)

. . . which Father, Son and Holy Ghost are one God; infinite and eternal, without end. (D&C 20:28; emphasis mine)

And the Father and I are one. I am in the Father and the Father in me; and inasmuch as ye have received me, ye are in me and I in you. (D&C 50:43)

Behold, I am Jesus Christ the Son of God, I created the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are. I was with the Father from the beginning. I am in the Father, and the Father in me; and in me hath the Father glorified his name. (3 Ne. 9:15)

The Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost are one; and I am in the Father, and the Father in me, and the Father and I are one (3 Ne. 11:27).

. . . for the Father, and I, and the Holy Ghost are one. (3 Ne. 11:36)

. . . unto the Father, and unto the Son, and unto the Holy Ghost, which are one God. . . . (Mormon 7:7; emphasis mine)”

“These texts suggest two rather clear implications. First, the word “God” is ambiguous in the sense that the “one God” can mean either the Father alone or the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost united as one God. Another implication is that the unity of the three divine persons is a divine indwelling where they actually are “one” “in” each other.”

Q?s. Other than the fact that the scriptures seem to say so is it essential that this divine relationship is 'eternal'? If not then could it have sprung into being at some point and not change anything? Also if all it takes to be divine is to have three beings of 'whatever intelligences are' then couldn't any three being formed such a union? Couldn't these other divine I dwelling beings form something with shared purpose but a different purpose than our godhead? Also since we assume that countless worlds have come and gone with beings like us according to Mormon views than can we assume that many beings have already become exalted and joined this relationship with the godhead? Is the Godhead restricted to three beings or can it become a large community of I dwelling beings? Trying to weigh your view against other Mormon views and see what it does better to fit than those others. Or if it does.

The Ontological Nature of Personal Existence

“If something has always existed and will always exist without being caused by anything else, and if nothing else can cause it to cease to exist, then it exists of what I call “ontological necessity.” Each of the divine persons, like all personal intelligences, exists because it is their nature to exist from all eternity without beginning and without creation.”

“If something is caused to exist by another—but has always existed and will always exist because an ontologically necessary being always actively causes it to exist—then it exists of what I shall call “consequent necessity.” The Godhead exists of consequent necessity.”

The Scriptural Argument for Yahweh’s Kind Uniqueness

Michael Heiser concludes that Old Testament references to elohim thus do not entail that the gods share the same divine qualities as the Most High God. He assumes that Mormon writers rest their case for the argument that there are gods of the same “divine kind” as Yahweh on the assumption that all “elohim” referred to in the Old Testament must be always of the same species as Yahweh.”

“the proof texts reviewed by Heiser do not establish that the “sons of God” are not the same kind as Yahweh because they are created in the sense that they are ontologically contingent and he is not. Rather, they merely establish that: (1) some of the elohim are not considered to be fully divine beings like Yahweh; (2) some of the heavenly hosts such as sun, moon, and stars were created or organized at the time that the earth was created. The sun, moon, and stars already existed to be placed in the firmament. They are created only in the sense that they are organized by taking preexisting heavenly hosts and placing them in their order in the firmament.”

“Heiser’s second argument is that Yahweh’s species uniqueness is established because “Yahweh was considered preexistent to all gods and, as such, contrary to Mormon theology, he had no parents.” I also agree that Yahweh had no parents according to the Hebrews.”

“Heiser’s proof text creates problems for his view. He relies on Isaiah 43:10–12: “You are my witnesses, declares Yahweh, and my servants whom I have chosen that you may know, and believe me, and understand that I am he. Before me no God was formed and after me, there shall not be [any].”
This verse asserts that Yahweh has not formed any gods. None were formed before him. None will be formed after him. Heiser is correct that such a view entails that no gods have been birthed as such. However, it seems to entail too much. If Yahweh created the gods or elohim, as Heiser claims, then they were formed after him. In that event, Isaiah 43 would conflict with Heiser’s claim of the creation of the gods in Nehemiah 9:6 and Psalms 148:1–5.”

“Heiser’s third and fourth arguments assert essentially that Yahweh is “species unique” because he has authority that the other elohim don’t have. Heiser asserts that species uniqueness is suggested by the fact that “Yahweh has power to strip the other gods of their immortality.”

Army generals authority

“In the book of Abraham, Jehovah’s authority to organize the gods in the heavenly council and give them commands arises from the fact that “I am the Lord thy God, I am more intelligent than they all” (Abr. 3:19). Joseph Smith’s King Follett discourse suggests that God’s authority also arises from his advanced station and his willingness to assist the other spirits to advance to become as he is: “God found himself in the midst of spirits and glory, and because he was greater, he saw proper to institute laws whereby the rest could have the privilege of advancing like himself.”

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