Monday, 28 January 2008

Gordon B. Hinkley, President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Prophet, Seer and Revelator, died last night at the age of 97.

He had led the Church for thirteen years. A whole generation of Latter-day Saints grew up with him as the Prophet. And now he's gone, just like that. And I'm having great difficulty getting my head round it.

Hail to the Prophet, ascended to heaven
Traitors and tyrants now fight him in vain
Mingling with Gods, he can plan for his brethren
Death cannot conquer the hero again...

Goodbye, President Hinckley. God bless.

Friday, 4 January 2008

Exaltation

Correct me please if I am wrong but exaltation is an LDS doctrine that claims worthy Mormoms can be exalted to godhood and someday become gods, ruling and reigning over their own planets.

God said in Isaiah 43:10 and 44:8 "before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me...yea, there is no God; I know not any.

God said it and I believe it! No exaltation doctrine in the Bible.

(Quoted word-for-word from a comment on a Deseret Morning News news article; comment by Robert)

You might think, with only three sentences to go on, that I can't write a lot in response to this.

You'd be wrong.

Let's start at the top. Doctrine of exaltation, as defined above? Well... yes, frankly. I'd take issue with the fact that he states only Mormons (or rather, Mormoms) can attain exaltation -- it implies that one must be a member of the Church in this life, which isn't the case at all.

I'd also question the phrasing -- true, it says 'can be exalted', but doesn't specify that this exaltation is none of our own doing, but all our Heavenly Father's. Other than that, though... I'll let it slide.

The Isaiah passages, then. Let's get some more of the background to Ch. 43:

I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour; I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee.

Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me.

I, even I, am the Lord; and beside me there is no saviour.

~Isaiah 43:3,10-11

Pretty powerful stuff... let's check ch. 44:

One shall say, I am the Lord's; and another shall call himself by the name of Jacob; and another shall subscribe with his hand unto the Lord, and surname himself by the name of Israel.

Thus saith the Lord the King of Israel, and his redeemer, the Lord of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.

And who, as I, shall call, and shall declare it, and set it in order for me, since I appointed the ancient people? and the things that are coming, let them shew unto them.

Fear ye not, neither be afraid: have not I told thee from that time, and have declared it? ye are even my witnesses. Is there a God beside me? yea, there is no God; I know not any.

~(Isaiah 44:5-8)

I'll deal with the second one first, because it's really easy. If we read verse 5 there, we can see pretty clearly what point the Lord is making here -- various people may say they have authority, but he is the only God. It is not a trans-universal statement; he is simply saying that he is the God of Israel, and they shall have no other.

Back to the first, which would seem to be a little more problematic. However, it's actually very simple. A God is one who has absolute power over men. Compare the term 'teacher'. A man -- let's call him an Ofsted inspector, might as well -- walks into a classroom where thirty students are studying diligently. He stands at the back for a moment, and then asks, 'Who is the teacher?'

All of a sudden, thirty hands go up. 'I am!' cries one young woman. 'Don't listen to her -- I am!' a young man near the back retorts. 'No, me -- look, I have a board pen!' 'I know what the textbook says!' A huge babble of voices floods the inspector's ears. One student scribbles 'It's me!' on a sheet of paper and thrusts it in his face. Imagine his confusion! But then he looks to the front of the class, to the largest, most important writing-space in the room, whereon the actual teacher has written, in large, clear letters, 'I am the teacher, and there is no other beside me'.

Would this inspector, on leaving the classroom, be inclined to disbelieve the teacher's words simply because there are other classrooms, with other teachers and other students? Of course not! His question, and the answer it provoked, was for the class he was visiting, and that class alone. Why, then, should we expect the Lord our God to detail the Gods of other worlds to his 'witnesses', when a simple answer will suffice: there is no God for you beside me -- concern yourself with no other.

And now, onto the last sentence in the comment: 'No exaltation doctrine in the Bible'. Oh dear me, I must disagree. In fact, I must disagree so strongly that I've got too many references to fit in. A few, then.

Romans 8:17, Matt. 25:34, Rev. 21:7 all deal with the idea of being heirs to God, inheriting kingdoms, and so forth. There's also Rev. 3:21, where we see that the faithful will sit in God's throne. All of these clearly involve some inheritence of power (what is an heir, but one who inherits all his Father has?).

... oh, goodness. Look, just skim this list and you'll see how many references there are. One of the most quoted is Psalms 82:6 - ye are gods, and all of you are children of the Most High - but there are many, many others. I can't even begin to repeat them all here.

In conclusion: the doctrine of exaltation, one of those which is frequently brought up as a charge against the LDS Church, has at least as many Bible passages to support it as it does against it. Those passages which may seem to contradict it are an essential characteristic of a volume of scripture limited to describing this world, and this world alone -- and in this world, there is one God, the Lord Omnipotent. Even so. Amen.