Polygamy versus Democracy

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Related Posts: Utah Polygamy and Divorce – 1880 to 1930; Divorce in 1890 Utah: Signs of Polygamy; Marriage in 1890 Utah: Very Normal; Utah’s Teachers and Students, 1870 to 1899;

Polygamy versus democracy

The June 5, 2006 issue of the Weekly Standard has an article written by Stanley Kurtz titled “Polygamy Versus Democracy: you can’t have both.” (Kurtz is an adjunct fellow of the Hudson Institute, Senior Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, and has written for National Review Online, Weekly Standard, Policy Review, The Wall Street Journal, and Commentary.) His general thesis is polygamy, or more broadly polyamorous unions, as well as gay marriage are antithetical to democratic values. He writes, “American democracy rests upon specific family structures.” In his article he outlines what he believes is a relationship between polygamy and tyranny, and a large section of his article is dedicated to an analysis of 19th century Mormon polygamy—The Mormon church officially discontinued the practice of polygamy in 1890. Under the section titled “The Mormon Question” he draws parallels between the United States Government’s struggle to stamp out Mormon polygamy and the current war on terror. “In effect, the fight against polygamy was a slow, frustrating, expensive, ultimately successful campaign to democratize Utah. (The parallels to the war on terror are eerie)” (parenthesis original). Writing that “the Mormons renounced polygamy and set themselves on the path to democracy.” Continue reading

The Iowa Supreme Court and Gay Marriage

Related Posts: Gay Marriage Again; Gay Marriage; More on gay marriage

This post takes another look at the gay marriage issue. Specifically, the Iowa Supreme Court and gay marriage. I keep going on about the gay marriage debate because I feel it will become rather more heated than it already is, and religion will be closely scrutinized because of its connection and effectiveness in opposing gay marriage.

The Iowa Supreme Court in overturning Iowa’s Defense of Marriage Act has in its final decision set a precedent that I believe is disturbing. Some of my arguments are mentioned below. Additionally, they inserted religion into their legal thinking. Though they admit religion was not brought up during the case, they decided to mention it anyway. Near the end of their decision they write,

We [now] consider the reason for the exclusion of gay and lesbian couples from civil marriage left unspoken by the County: religious opposition to same-sex marriage. (p. 63)

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Faith and Justification

Related Posts: Why Covenants?; Justification; Grace; Election; Faith and Charity

To many of our Protestant brethren the subject of justification is very important. And I confess it is not as central in Mormon beliefs as it is in many Protestant denominations.

Protestants generally view justification as “a legal act, wherein God deems the sinner righteous on the basis of Christ’s righteousness” (Justification, theopedia.com). This understanding of justification is part of their view of salvation by grace and the belief that good works have noting to do with salvation.

In the Mormon view good works cannot be ignored and are seen as essential to how we “put on Christ.” I always felt the Mormon repose to the Protestant belief about justification was lacking. So I thought I would weight in on the subject. As such this post includes a lot of my own interpretation.

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Faith hope and charity

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Related Posts: Why Covenants?; Justification; Grace; Election; Faith and Justification

What are the relationships between faith, hope, and charity? If the scriptures say “without faith there cannot be any hope” (Moroni 7:42) and also say “how is it that you can attain unto faith, save ye shall have hope?” (Moroni 7:40). There seems to be a problem. No faith without hope. No hope without faith. So how does this work?

What is faith?

We have definitions of faith such as, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1) and, “Faith is things which are hoped for and not seen” (Ether 12:6), and “Faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true” (Alma 32:21). The Bible Dictionary says, “To have faith is to have confidence in something or someone” (“Faith,” Bible Dictionary). We know that it was by faith that “Noah…prepared an ark” (Heb. 11:7), “Abraham…obeyed; and he went out…[and] sojourned in the land of promise” (Heb. 11:8-9). By faith “Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau” (Heb. 11:20), and “Moses…refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter…[and] forsook Egypt (Heb. 11:24-27). Their faith was a motivating force. Because of their firm conviction that God would honor his promises Noah prepared, Abraham obeyed, Isaac blessed, and Moses forsook. Continue reading

Mormon and Arminian Beliefs

Related posts: Omnipotence and the Problem of Evil; Grace

According to Mormon beliefs God’s work and glory is “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39). And we share, along with out Christian cousins, the belief that “God is love.” But Mormons are extremely bothered by some of the tenants of Calvinism. For example, the Westminster Confession says,

By the decree of God, for the manifestation of His glory, some men and angels are predestinated unto everlasting life, and others fore-ordained to everlasting death. These angels and men, thus predestinated and fore-ordained, are particularly and unchangeably designed, and their number is so certain and definite, that it cannot be either increased or diminished…The rest of mankind God was pleased, according to the unsearchable counsel of His own will…to pass by; and to ordain them to dishonour and wrath, for their sin, to the praise of His glorious justice. (Chapter 3)

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Omnipotence and the problem of evil

Related posts: Opposition in all things; Creation ex nihilo; The Fall of Man: The Doctrine

Classical theism affirms that God is omnipotent. But the meaning of this varies from person to person. Can God do only what is logically possible? Are there only non-logical limits to God’s power? Is God’s power limited by our free will? If God has all the power are we powerless? If we have some power then to what extent is God limited?

Most people don’t believe that God can make 1 + 1 + 1 = 1, but do believe God can cure the sick and prevent accidents. But understanding omnipotence to mean God can do only what is logically possible isn’t enough: It’s logically possible God doesn’t exist. Consequently, some Christians define omnipotence as having all possible power, or maximal power. Continue reading

The progression of God, the knowledge of God, the power of God

Related posts: Immutable, Omnipresence; Omniscience; Omniscience and divine Learning; Godhead: God or Gods?

The eternal progression of God

In 1844 Joseph Smith taught,

God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens!…I say, if you were to see him today, you would see him like a man in form—like yourselves in all the person, image, and very form as a man; for Adam was created in the very fashion, image and likeness of God. (King Follett Sermon, Ensign, April 1971)

This was emphasized by president Lorenzo Snow (5th president of the church; d. 1901),

the Spirit of God fell upon me to a marked extent, and the Lord revealed to me, just as plainly as the sun at noon-day, this principle, which I put in a couplet: ‘As man now is, God once was; As God now is, man may be’” (The Teachings of Lorenzo Snow, edited by Clyde J. Williams, p. 2).

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Omniscience: Does God Learn?

Related posts: Omniscience; Immutable, Omnipresence; Whence God? Talking about God; Creation ex nihilo

Does God Learn?

If you were to ask a typical Mormon the question “Does God learn?” you would most likely get a negative response. Mormons today tend to believe in what is called the neo-classical view of God, which as it applies to divine learning means that God knows everything.

However, this was not always the case. During the 19th century the common belief among Mormons was that God is forever progressing to greater knowledge. In 1857 Apostle Wilford Woodruff (who became 4th president of the church in 1889) said, “God himself is increasing and progressing in knowledge, power, and dominion, and will do so, worlds without end” (JD 6:120). Brigham Young said, “The greatest intelligence in existence can continually ascend to greater heights of perfection” (JD 1:93).[1] George Q. Cannon (Apostle; d. 1901) said, “There is progress for our Father and for our Lord Jesus…It is endless progress, progressing from one degree of knowledge to another degree” (Gospel Truth: Discourses and Writings of President George Q. Cannon, p. 92). General Authority B.H. Roberts (Seventy; d. 1933) wrote, “God is [not] Omniscient up to the point that further progress in knowledge is impossible to him; but that all knowledge that is, all that exists, God knows” (Seventy’s Course in Theology, vol. 4, p. 70-71).

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The Attributes of God: Omniscience and Fate

Related Posts: Immutable, Omnipresence; The Fall of Man: Defense of the Doctrine; Election; Creation ex nihilo; Omniscience and divine Learning; Whence God? Talking about God

Omniscience and Fate

Immutability leads to timelessness. And timelessness leads to ubiquity. If so then God is omnipotent and free from all spatial and temporal limitations. God is also omniscient. In contrast, the LDS belief in spiritual omnipresence does not entail timelessness or immutability, and it still allows us to believe God knows all things.[1]

A typical definition of omniscience is that God knows all truths and holds no false beliefs. Traditional omniscience includes God’s certain knowledge of past, present, and future. Of knowing past, present, and future, absolute knowledge of the future is most controversial.

In this post I explore how omniscience affects beliefs about freedom, moral responsibility, and the nature of man. If one billion years ago God knows that today I have a veggie sandwich for lunch, and because God cannot be wrong, I have no choice but to realize my fate. If God knows me completely, does that mean I am a mechanism? If I am a mechanism and/or my future was determined without me, can I be held morally responsible for my actions? Continue reading

Attributes of God: Omnipotent, Omniscient, Omnipresent

Related posts: Omniscience and Fate; Omniscience and divine learning; The Fall of Man: Defense of the Doctrine; Whence God? Talking about God

Immutable; Omnipresent; Impassible

In this six part series I explore Mormon conceptions of the attributes of God and compare them to traditional Christian beliefs. By conceptions I mean that Mormonism has no prescribed conception of the attributes of God. There are guidelines but few specifics. We don’t adhere to the traditional belief that God has one essence and three personal distinctions; we don’t accept God’s plurality and unicity. Not in any traditional sense at least. We believe the Godhead consists of three separate persons, each a God. (See Godhead: God or Gods?) Though we believe they share an intimate unity such that they may be spoken of as God, our language is along the lines of social trinitarianism; generally, that is the sense of our unqualified monotheistic language. In the posts comprising this series, when I use the word God in an LDS context it is in this generic sense. Continue reading