Editor's Note: Stephen Prothero, a Boston University religion scholar and author of "The American Bible: How Our Words Unite, Divide, and Define a Nation," is a regular CNN Belief Blog contributor.
By Stephen Prothero, Special to CNN
(CNN)–Why are evangelicals like Billy Graham and Ralph Reed stumping for Mitt Romney? And why are roughly three-quarters of white evangelicals inclined to vote for him?
Because politics matters more to them than religion.
Last year, in a talk at a conference on Mormonism and Islam at Utah Valley University, I asked my Mormon listeners why they had not rushed to the defense of Muslims in controversies such as the one that raged over the Park51 project near ground zero. After all, they have been the victims of religious prejudice. Their founder, Joseph Smith, was killed by a mob of vigilantes.
Given this history, I expected that members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, known as Mormons, would feel the sting of anti-Muslim prejudice and speak out against it. But neither Mitt Romney of the GOP nor Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of the Democratic Party did anything of the sort. In fact, Romney issued a statement opposing the construction of the Islamic center.
Why? Because they were thinking and acting as Republicans or Democrats first and Mormons second.
Follow the CNN Belief Blog on Twitter
I see a parallel story playing out this election season with the religious right.
Until quite recently, many evangelicals saw Mormonism as a dangerous cult spreading false theology and dooming its followers to hell. In fact, only after Romney showed up for a meet and greet with Billy Graham in North Carolina earlier this month did the website of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association erase a reference to Mormonism as a “cult."
Did Mormons all of a sudden change their theology? Did Graham change his definition of a “cult”? Of course not. It just became politically expedient for Graham to declassify Mormonism, given the fact that Romney, a Mormon, was the presidential nominee of his beloved GOP.
Ralph Reed, too, is forsaking his theology for his politics, mobilizing his Atlanta-based Faith and Freedom Coalition to place voter guides in Ohio churches in the run-up to election day.
I am old enough to remember when the main purpose of Reed’s Christian Coalition and other groups on the religious right was to put born-again Christians in the Congress, the White House, and the Supreme Court. And for decades those who were running those groups saw Mormons as non-Christians.
And don't get me started on Mike Huckabee, who in a recent ad says that a vote for Obama is a vote for your own damnation.
Have LDS Church members repudiated the Book of Mormon as “another testament of Jesus Christ” or their view that the Bible is the word of God only “as far as it is correctly translated”? Have they accepted the Trinity? Rejected their teaching that there are many gods?
As Ben Witherington, Albert Mohler, and many other evangelical thinkers continue to insist: no, no, and no.
CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories
I used to believe that the purpose of the religious right was to infuse American politics with Christian politicians and Christian politics. I no longer believe that. The purpose of the religious right is to use the Christian God for political purposes. Why any Christian, conservative or liberal, can say "Amen" to that is beyond me.
I am perfectly happy to see Reed stump for Romney in Ohio and Graham plump for Romney in an ad in The Wall Street Journal. Just don’t tell me they are doing so as Christians. They are doing so as shills for the GOP.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Stephen Prothero.
Prayer changes things
Going to church doesn't make you a Christian anymore than standing in a garage makes you a car.
Let's test that!
All religious Republican voters pray for a Romney victory and Republican majority in the Senate. Pray often, pray hard!
All people voting for Obama and/or a Democrat for Senate, do not pray, not at all.
Let's see what happens . . .
Pray all you like. You'll still be wrong.
Religion stunts the evolution of human society.
Actually ... it's MORE healthy.
Republicans have been trying to destroy the world and prop up Israel for DECADES in order to bring about the "Second Coming" in a more timely fashion. Why do you think they're so in denial about climate change?
"Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things"
Nobody said facing reality and admitting Santa isn't real was EASY. It's hard, but the truth is a much better thing than a lie.
I have always wondered if being a Mormon is the answer why are children sent door to door to sell it?
You've got yourself a circular argument there. If the reason for the cult is to have it's children sell it door to door and if the reason for children to sell it door to door is to grow the cult, well...you see where you're going with that.
So that people who don't know that it's the answer have the chance to find out.
Again "Professor" Stevie P misses the real evangelical/Christian right issue but that is not unusual as his only concern is that we love all the gods.
Now to the issue at hand and why Obama (and Axelrod) are running pro-choice/pro-abortion/pro-Roe vs Wade ads non- stop this week:
Why the Christian Right/evangelicals no longer matter in presidential elections:
Once again, all the conservative votes in the country "ain't" going to help a "pro-life" presidential candidate, i.e Mitt Romney, in 2012 as the "Immoral Majority" rules the country and will be doing so for awhile. The "Immoral Majority" you ask?
The fastest growing USA voting bloc: In 2008, the 70+ million "Roe vs. Wade mothers and fathers" of aborted womb-babies" whose ranks grow by two million per year i.e. 78+ million "IM" voters in 2012.
2008 Presidential popular vote results:
69,456,897 for pro-abortion/choice BO, 59,934,814 for "pro-life" JM.
And the irony:
And all because many women fail to take the Pill once a day or men fail to use a condom even though in most cases these men have them in their pockets. (maybe they should be called the "Stupid Majority"?)
The failures of the widely used birth "control" methods i.e. the Pill and male condom have led to the large rate of abortions ( one million/yr) and S-TDs (19 million/yr) in the USA. Men and women must either recognize their responsibilities by using the Pill or condoms properly and/or use other safer birth control methods in order to reduce the epidemics of abortion and S-TDs.
i.e. IF THE PILL AND MALE CONDOMS WERE USED PROPERLY, ABORTION WOULD NOT BE AN ISSUE AND OBAMA WOULD NOT BE PRESIDENT.
Ding ding ding! We have a winner for the Adjustment-of-logic-to-fit-a-made-up-reality winner!
Next will you prove that the Wiccan vote helped put Obama in the White House so if we were to bring back witch-buring McCain and Palin would have won – or that Romney/Ryan would?
One has to be a hindu, ignorant to use word GOD's, there no two truth absolute but one, GOD, constant, proven by science, take your hinduism, absurdity and shave it in hind of Lucifer, self centered, denier of truth absolute, like you your other god. .
Professor Prothero doesn't want us to love all gods, but rather to understand and recognise the differences between the religions. After all, if we are to be respectful and tolerant of religion, wouldn't it be advisable to know what we should be respectful and tolerant of? (Yes, I read the book, the entire book and I agree with his arguement).
As to the "Immoral Majority", it is easy to label others who don't share your beliefs as "immoral", but is the answer to your vision of morality to take away a person's choice? I don't think abortion is the answer, but the thing is, I don't see Pro-Choice proponents running around telling people that they have to get an abortion. Free will is the choice, not taking away the choice.
Follow the path that you feel is right for you, but don't expect that path to be right for anyone else.
I wonder how truly devout Mormons feel about Billy's change of heart?
Don't really care, if you want to know the truth. It doesn't matter to me if Billy Graham or Ralph Reed think I'm a Christian. I only care if Christ thinks I'm a Christian. Thanks for asking! :)
@LDSinSC – You're welcome. Just trying to see if hypocrisy mattered or not. If you're male – I hope you get your own planet when you die and if you're female I hope to have fun populating your man's planet! Take care.
You make that sound like a bad thing. You should always put EVERYTHING before a non existent fictional being.
Live in the real world, be a good person, enjoy life.
Nothing is a Foreverness and Matter is in its' infinitesimally finiteness, a foreverness unobtainable by human-like megaliths called mankind.We are all giants too huge and too vast for us to enter back into the Kingdoms of God whch are our bodies. Damn dumb buildings of evolution's ascension into the spatial voids of outward motions!
That's heavy, Dude! Pass that over here will you?
Chill out kids, I'm in class right now (That's right, BYU). I'll get at ya later.
Too late Tyy, I already passed out from waiting for you to defend your cooky cult.
No worries – we can wait for more of your fun input. Don't get your magic underwear in a wad worrying we miss you. Good luck in your studies – I hope you get your own planet to populate when you die!
God created the universe. Many billions of years ago, a life form evolved on a planet not so far distant and their scientists deduced the building blocks for life existed in the universe and from it, new life forms could be created.
These ancient ones populated Mars with life and eventually, due to asteroid events over millions of years, life arrived here on Earth. We are a product of that primeval turbulence.
Therefore, we must worship the Aliens, not God. The Aliens have to worship God. This is all true because I have faith that it happened just this way.
Odin laughs at your puny priests who sell themselves out in the name of politics.
Christians, Mormons, Islam, etc., cling to religion and continue to endorse it as reality and insist that it somehow should govern morality and law-making. One can lay out all the evidence and build (and have built) an airtight case against every single religion on Earth past and present, but still believers will not budge from their point of view, even when presented with the lies and contradictions in the very scriptures they base their beliefs on.
Understand, I am not talking about a belief in God. I do understand that. I am talking about religion. Every one of which has been empirically proven false but yet clings like moss to ancient rocks.
I believe the single most important factor in this inability to see through the foolishness of religion is fear. Children’s stories of heaven and hell. The initial indoctrination for many, simply cannot be undone.
Secondly, there is a feeling of community that comes with any “club” Naturally this is not relegated to religion so it does not qualify as an excuse.
Lastly some minds are unable to think creatively enough to imagine the more plausible alternatives. What are those alternatives? Well we have to turn to science, but also we have to accept what we don’t know and keep looking. And in truth, we don’t really know anything about how the universe came to be, what came before and where it is going. If there are multiple universes and time lines through which we move, these would be marvelous discoveries. There was a wonderful article in Scientific American a few months ago regarding a new spin on the Quantum theory. That being the quantum universe could have foamlike fluctuations that rule spacetime, not unlike the 0’s and 1’s that are the foundation of computing and storing information.
If we wish to believe in the supernatural, we have to make things up. Hence religion. It doesn’t mean there is no god, or gods, or aliens, but it does mean that we don’t have the answers and most likely never will.
Now we arrive back at fear. What will happen to me when I die? For me, I look forward to an eternity of nothing. Others fear this prospect and prefer to believe in fairies and fantasies and are not even ashamed that their mental description of an after life is akin to that of a 5-year-old’s picture book.
I believe the Universe and the “everything” are FAR more bizarre than we could ever imagine with the faculties we have thus far obtained via evolution on this planet. And I wonder how many millions of civilizations across the vastness of space and time have pondered likewise.
Finally, the entire planet is affected by the irrational belief systems of the various mainstream religions. It affects the global economy, it affects world peace, it affects our secular life style in the United States. These ancient belief systems are based on superst.ition and mythology. One would think humans would have moved forward by now but instead we as a species behave in the same self-destructive manner now as we did thousands of years ago with more at stake then at any other time in history.
It's like that scene in the movie contact when they're trying to castigate Jodie Foster's character – who's an atheist – by saying that 90% (or whatever) of the world believes in a supreme being and they try to make her out to be out of touch when all she had to do was answer, "yes, but none of you can agree on who's supreme being is correct."
according to your post, there is nothing at stake. Absolutely nothing.
Thank you for this article, Stephen Prothero. I have been saying these very words and feel as though i live in a twilight zone. Why can't more christians connect the dots? Why is critical thinking so frowned upon? My facebook is covered with with friend's phrases like "trust and obey, it's the only way." Very frustrating to see this from the outside. Please, people – THINK!
But if you think for yourself you might just realize religion is not all it's cracked up to be. Just sayin'...
@Think for yourself,
you have hit on a key point here when you ask "Why is critical thinking so frowned upon?"
The American Taliban hates critical thinking. This is true of all fundamentalism. With all its contradictions, biblical literalsim cannot withstand the microscope of critical thinking.
This is why sects like Catholicism do not rely on literalism. They evolved a philosophy over 2,000 years with non-biblical theological components to make the whole house of cards stand as something more cohesive.
Adherents of Evangelical Protestantism must blindly obey to embrace the cognitive dissonance required for bible literalism. If they will blindly accept their religion, then by extension they will blindly accept any message from a similarly "trusted source".
When politics is conflated with religion any politician, or his/her proxies (like Fox News, Americans for Prosperity etc) who also profess tenets of this religion, automatically also becomes a "trusted source".
Critical thinking attacks this behavior at the root and must therefore they attempt to extirpate it.
Education is our only hope and look how hard they try to pervert that.
Hooray for religion and politics. Too bad Halloween is over...gonna be hard to find witches to burn at the stake.
I waited almost two hours for the Brood Witch last night. I wasn't really hungry anyway.
@saneperson... I'd be glad to answer those question, but not in such a hateful and biased place. Those are deep doctrine questions, and it's best to not discuss them here.
It's pointless to talk religion on here. Everyone come already with their biases and hateful arguments. All I can really say is that I personally was able to do the right thing (I had a good influence), and I studied the Book of Mormon, and went to church every week, and more than anything, I prayed and asked God if this was His Church. After all that hard work, I truly gained a testimony of this Church, and even more so of Christ our Savior. Now I constantly strive to keep the commandments (ya i'm not perfect, that's for sure), and my testimony just gets stronger. People can hate all they want, but there's reason that Mormon's are known to be friendly, helpful people. It's because they have the truth and Spirit constantly with them. Obviously that's not true for all LDS people, but for those that live the Gospel of Jesus Christ, it's true.
There are many great and amazing churches out there. But I know that this church has the Priesthood of God, which sets us apart from the world.
Belief one Mormons believe that there are many gods and many worlds. Their belief is that every universe has its own specific God. We only have to abide by our God that controls this planet. They also believe that if one can get to the highest level of many levels of heaven that they will become gods themselves. There are many scriptures that they base this on according to their own specific Bible. Like any religion though it comes down to a matter of interpretation
Belief two This deals with forgiveness. According to the Mormons, all sins are forgiven with the exception to the first one in denying the Holy Spirit and the second is murder. They stand on the premise that once God returns then wherever your status is at that point deems where you are going to end up and you will not be given any further chances.
Belief three We referred to different levels of heaven or what is considered as multiple levels and that there are actually three distinct heavens. There is the Telestial heaven. which is the lowest level and those who basically followed the carnal laws reside here. Then there is the Terrestrial, which is the mid heaven, comprised of the followers of Moses and finally the last and highest level being The Celestial Kingdom. This is reserved for God himself and all the faithful followers that followed his law.
Belief four This is in reference to priesthood and in this religion only males that are believed to be worthy become part of the priesthood and once they do so they are given very specific duties. Up until 1978, black people were never allowed into the priesthood and to this day females are definitely not allowed.
Belief five The nature of God in this religion is the belief that God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are all exists as separate beings. Further to this belief is that these three are resurrected beings that have bodies of flesh and bone.
Believe six This belief is interesting in that according to the book of Mormons Jesus actually visited the Americas. This is based on the story the tribes of Leah this was to have taken place after the resurrection
Belief seven Modern revelation as many may not realize it the Mormon religion possesses a belief in a prophet.
Belief eight The next one that we deal with is spirits. The belief here in is that prior to everyone coming to live they existed as a spirit. Then once they are on earth and then die, their spirits then become separated from their bodies. If they have lived a good life then they go to the spirit paradise if they have been unscrupulous individuals then it is off to the spirit prison they go. According to the beliefs here, the whole spirit world exists until the second coming of Christ
Belief nine Is in reference to the pleasures in life but there are a lot of doctrine in the Mormon religion that applies to what one should take pleasure in and what should not be taken as pleasure. Three of the major taboos are coffee, drugs and tobacco
Belief ten T.i.thing which has to do with the money and is actually quite prominent in many religions. However, with the Mormons the concept is that if you want to get into the highest level of heaven then you must pay up the money.
"Priesthood of God" – which god, please? Yaweh? Kolob? Ganesh? Allah? Odin? Cthulhu?
Those are inaccurate. Like I said, stop reading into anti-mormon literature.
The 'trouble' I have with LDS is their belief that somewhere in Outer-Space lays a Godly Planet. If LDS folks do hold dearly the KJVB, then one would see that Inner-Space is where this Godly Planet lays. LDS'ers and Christians do fail miserably when contemplating Fractals of Cosmologies. In factualities, the whole world is held hostage by a "Bigger is better" synopsis.
1Cr 3:9 For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, [ye are] God's building
Luk 17:21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.
Love Let Us,
Tyy,uh huh...which ones are inaccurate?
@Tyy – I see you do not wish to answer questions about which god you are referring to. Unfortunate as you lose your foundational base for discussion/
Tyy, good thing I am not holding my breath nut-job.
If you won't answer simple yes or no questions it comes off as you are ashamed of your religion. So I guess the answer was yes to all my questions? Why be embarrassed of your beliefs, just say what you believe and say it with confidence.. If you can't do that, maybe you should re examine your beliefs.
24HCC, You say "Their belief is that every universe has its own specific God." Where in Mormon teaching does it say that? Which verse in Mormon scripture? Which publication of the LDS church?
And now, in regard to your comment about becoming gods.
Christians today may be appalled at any suggestion that there could be more than one god or that men can become like God, or that there is any hint of polytheism in the Bible. However, that is a Christian tradition of today which is at odds with Biblical fact and early teachings of the Christian Fathers and Bishops in the early Christian Church.
Jesus taught the following:
“Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him.
“Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me?
“The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.
“Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said ye are gods? If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken; Say ye of him whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest, because I said, I am the Son of God:” (John 10:31-36)
Here, the Jews wanted to stone Jesus ” for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.” Jesus then reminded them of their own scripture which teaches that “, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High” from Psalms 82:6.
After this the Jews had to back down. They could not stone him because they knew he was right. They knew that their own scriptures teach the same thing and they had no case against Him. Jesus reminded them that God had “called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken”.
The Apostle Paul makes a similar point as recorded in the New Testament. Like Isaiah, he writes of false man-made gods in 1 Corinthians chapter 8. In addition to the false man-made gods on earth, he also writes of the existence of true gods in the heavens He says:
“For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many and lords many,) But to us there is but one God.. .” (1 Cor. 8: 5-6)
Here Paul recognizes that there are both false gods on earth and true gods in the heavens, but out of them all, there is only one God for us. Some may doubt that Paul was referring to true gods when he said “in heaven” and “(as there be gods many and lords many,). Yet, among true Bible believers, who can believe that there are false gods in heaven? So, when Paul talks of gods in heaven, he can only be talking of true Gods. Here, the Apostle Paul speaking polytheistically about the gods in heaven but monotheistically when he says that only one of them is our God.
Psalms 8:4-5 teaches that man is “a little lower than the gods.” The King James Version (and most translations) give it as “lower than the angels,” but the word used in the Hebrew is gods. The Hebrew term “elohim”,or “gods” is used to describe human judges in Exodus 21:6 and 22:8-9. Here authorized servants of God are called “gods.” Exodus 7:1 says that Moses was to be “god to Pharaoh.” Note that these are with a small “g” recognizing the pre-eminence of the God we worship.
And Paul says in Romans 8:14-18: “For as many as are lead by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God; And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ;”
And again Christ said to John the Revelator: “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. (Revelations 3:21)
John says: "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doeth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure." (1 John 3:2-3)
In the first verses of the Bible, in the Hebrew, Moses refers to the head God who called forth the other gods. It is not rendered this way in English translations. Yet, scholars have noted that throughout the Bible there is a theme of a head God who presides over the other gods.
Thus, the head God says "Let US make man in OUR image and after OUR likeness" ( Genesis 1:26-27, emphasis added) Jewish teachers understood Genesis 1:26-26 to teach a plurality of Gods as taught in Kabbalistic (Jewish) readings of the verses. (Owens, "Joseph Smith and Kabbalah Ibid., 182-83.)
God confirms this elsewhere when He speaks to the other gods, saying "Behold, the man is become as one of us to know good and evil." (Gen 3:22). Again, notice the reference to "us" – this group that the head God called together.
And again, the head God speaking to the council said: “let US go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech." (Genesis 11:5-7, emphasis added).
This council of gods is recognized by Bible scholars as a concept that runs throughout the Bible and includes a head God and the council which He presides over. Thus God can say “let us make man after our own image” and “let us go down,” and so forth.
Furthermore we read: “God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods.” (Ps. 82:1) Or as it is rendered in the NRSV translation “God has taken His place in the divine council, in the midst of the gods he holds judgment.” In this verse the Hebrew term rendered “congregation of the mighty” is from the Hebrew la td[ (cedat 'el), which really means "the council of God." The idea of a council of God, wherein the head God meets with the other gods is referenced throughout the Bible. Another Hebrew term that means "council" is dws (s?d). (See the discussion in Frank Moore Cross, “The Council of Yahweh in Second Isaiah,” 274, n. 1; also R. Gordis, “Democratic Origins in Ancient Israel,” in Saul Libermann, ed., Alexander Marx Jubilee Volume (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1950), 376-388.)
This Hebrew term is often translated "secret" in the KJV. One passage in which it should be read as "council" are Job 15:8 and Job 29:4 wherein it should be rendered “hast thou listened in the council of God?” Other examples of this are:Psalm 25:14; and Proverbs 3:32. Indeed, in some passages, KJV translates it "assembly" (Psalm 111:1; Jeremiah 6:11; 15:17; Ezekiel 13:9), while in a few others KJV renders it "counsel" (Psalm 55:14; 83:3; 89:5-7; Proverbs 15:22; Jeremiah 23:18, 22), while in Psalm 64:2, KJV renders it "secret counsel.” (For a discussion of the Hebrew term, see Raymond Brown, “The Pre-Christian Semitic Concept of ‘Mystery’,” Catholic Biblical Quarterly 20 (1958): 418-421.)
SOWD is the Old Testament Hebrew word for "assembly", "circle of people in council", or "confidential talk, secret." It is similar in meaning to the New Testament "musterion" or mystery. For example, in the King James version, SOWD is translated "secret" (e.g. Amos 3:7, where it literally means "what is going on in the heavenly council" of the gods.)
Thus, Amos was referring to the idea that God makes known to his prophets the “secret,” or what goes on in the heavenly council. This is repeated throughout the Bible, for instance: “God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods.” (Psalms 82:1)
As one scholar notes :
"The existence of other gods is not denied in the first commandment of the decalog itself; in fact it presupposes their existence and forbids the Israelites to worship them." (Roland de Vaux, The Early History of Israel, Philadelphia, 1968, p 463)
This teaching of a council of gods is presented in other ancient Jewish and Christian texts. But, even more important, it is clearly found throughout the Bible itself:
“Who is like unto thee, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?” (Ex. 15:11)
“For the Lord your God is God of gods, and the Lord of lords, a great God…
“Thou shalt fear the Lord they God; him shalt thou serve, and to him shalt thou cleave, and swear by his name.
“He is thy praise, and he is thy God…” (Deu. 11:17, 20-21)
“Among the gods there is none like unto thee, O Lord; neither are there any works like unto thy works.” (Ps. 86:8)
“For thou, Lord, art high above all the earth: thou art exalted far above all gods.” (Ps. 97:9)
“For I know that the Lord is great, and that our Lord is above all gods.” (Ps. 135:5)
“O give thanks unto the God of gods: for his mercy endureth forever. O give thanks to the Lord of lords: for his mercy endureth forever.” (Ps. 136: 2-3)
“For the Lord your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God.” (Deut. 10:17)
Not only was this belief a part of the Hebrew religion and not only is it found throughout the Bible, including the New Testament as taught by Jesus Himself as well as Paul, and John, but the Early Christian fathers continued to teach it for centuries following Biblical times. These early Bishops and respected orthodox theologians taught the belief very bluntly and clearly:
“God became man that man might become God.” (St. Augustine and Thomas Aquinis in: Philip Barlow, doctoral candidate in American Religious History at Harvard: Unorthodox Orthodoxy: The Idea of Deification in Christian History, Sunstone, Vol 8, no 5, pp 13-16))
“He became what we are, in order that we might be what he is.” (Maximus in Ibid)
“I may become God to the same extent as he became man.” (Gregory of Nazianus in Ibid)
“The Holy Spirit aids man in being made God.” (Basil of Ceasarea in Ibid)
“Flee with all in your power from being man and make haste to become gods.” (Origin in Ibid)
Speaking of the soul which seeks to become pure Clement of Alexandria said: “The soul, receiving the Lord’s power, studies to become a god.” (Clement in Ibid)
IRENAEUS, Bishop of Lyons [A.D. 130-200]
It has been claimed by some that this doctrine of becoming gods is an altogether pagan doctrine that blasphemes the majesty of God. Not all Christians have thought so, however. Irenaeus was instructed by Polycarp. Polycarp was personally instructed by the apostle John. Irenaeus became a prominent bishop in the Church in the second century and became the most important Christian theologian of his time, and is considered orthodox by mainstream Christianity. Yet he taught:
“If the Word became a man, It was so men may become gods.” (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, bk. 5, pref.)
Irenaeus also taught: “We were not made gods at our beginning, but first we were made men, then, in the end, gods.” (Ibid, also in (Bettenson, H., The Early Christian Fathers, [London: Oxford University Press, 1956,] p. 94.)
Also: “Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Word of God, of his boundless love, became what we are that he might make us what he himself is.” (Irenaeus in Henry Betteson, The Early Christian Fathers, London: Oxford University Press, 1956, p 106)
And: “While man gradually advances and mounts towards perfection; that is, he approaches the eternal. The eternal is perfect; and this is God. Man has first to come into being, then to progress, and by progressing come to manhood, and having reached manhood to increase, and thus increasing to persevere, and persevering to be glorified, and thus see his Lord.” (Irenaeus in Henry Betteson, The Early Christian Fathers, London: Oxford University Press, 1956, p. 94)
And :”How then will any be a god, if he has not first been made a man? How immortal, if he has not in his mortal nature obeyed his maker? For one’s duty is first to observe the discipline of man and thereafter to share in the glory of God.” (Ibid, pp. 95-96; and Against the Heresies 4.28.4-29.3)
Indeed, Saint Irenaeus had more to say on the subject of deification:
“Do we cast blame on him [God] because we were not made gods from the beginning, but were at first created merely as men, and then later as gods? Although God has adopted this course out of his pure benevolence, that no one may charge him with discrimination or stinginess, he declares, ‘I have said, ye are gods; and all of you are sons of the Most High.’ For it was necessary at first that nature be exhibited, then after that, what was mortal would be conquered and swallowed up in immortality.” (Irenaeus, Against Heresies,4.38. Cp. 4.11)
“But man receives progression and increase towards God. For God is always the same, so also man, when found in God, shall always progress toward God.” (Ibid)
JEROME (the Pope’s secretary)
St. Jerome explains Psalms 82:6 as did Jesus and other early Christian fathers:
“‘I said: You are gods, all of you sons of the Most High.’ Let Eunomius hear this, let Arius, who say that the Son of God is son in the same way we are. That we are gods is not so by nature, but by grace. ‘But to as many as receive him he gave power of becoming sons of god.’ I made man for that purpose, that from men they may become gods. ‘I said: Ye are gods, all of you sons of the Most High.’ Imagine the grandeur of our dignity; we are called gods and sons! I have made you gods just as I made Moses a god to pharaoh, so that after you are gods, you may be made worthy to be sons of God. Reflect upon the divine words: ‘with God there is no respector of persons.’ God did not say: ‘I said you are gods,’ you kings and princes; but ‘all’ to whom I have given equally a body, soul, a spirit, I have given equally divinity and adoption. We are ‘all’ born equals. Our humanity is one of equality.” (Jerome, The Homilies of Saint Jerome, Washington D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 1964 pp 106-107)
Jerome later indicates that after having become “mere men”, those men can still become gods. He quotes the scriptures and explains: “‘Give thanks to the God of Gods.’ The prophet is referring to those gods of whom it is written: I said: ‘You are gods;’ and again: ‘God arises in the divine assembly.’ They who cease to be mere men, abandon the ways of vice and are become perfect, are gods and the sons of the Most High.” (Ibid p. 353)
“If, indeed, you follow those who did not at the time endure the Lord when showing Himself to be the Son of God, because they would not believe Him to be the Lord, then call to mind along with them the passage where it is written, ‘I have said, Ye are gods, and ye are children of the Most High;’ and again, ‘God standeth in the congregation of the gods:’ in order that, if the scripture has not been afraid to designate as gods human beings, who have become sons of God by faith , you may be sure that the same scripture has with greater propriety conferred the name of the Lord on the true and one-only Son of God.” (Tertullian, The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Grand Rapids Michigan: Wm.B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1885, vol. 3, p. 608)
Like other early Church Fathers, Origen, [A.D. 185-254], also teaches the same Biblical doctrine, of Genesis 1:1, that there is a head god who is “Lord of gods”, Origin teaches that there is a distinction to be made between “the God” and others who are also “gods.”
“Everything which, without being ‘God-in-himself’ is deified by participation in his godhead, should strictly be called ‘God,’ not ‘the God.’ The ‘firstborn of all creation,.’ Since he by being ‘with God’ first gathered godhood to himself, is therefore in every way more honored than others besides himself, who are ‘gods’ of whom God is the God, as it is said, ‘God the Lord of gods spoke and called the world.’ For it was through his ministry that they became gods, since he drew divinity from God for them to be deified, and of his kindness generously shared it with them. God, then, is the true God, and those who through him are fashioned into gods are copies of the prototype.” (Ibid p. 324)
Origen went on to teach: “The Father, then, is proclaimed as the one true God; but besides the true God are many who become gods by participating in God.” (Ibid)
Origen claimed that God “will be ‘all’ in each individual in this way: when all which any rational understanding, cleansed from the dregs of every sort of vice, and with every cloud of wickedness completely swept away, can either feel, or understand, or think, will be wholly God….” (Origen, De Principiis 3:6:3, in Roberts and Donaldson, The Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 4, p. 345.)
Finally, Saint Augustine himself, the greatest of the Christian Fathers, said:
“But he himself that justifies also deifies, for by justifying he makes sons of God. ‘For he has given them power to become the sons of God’ [John 1:12] If then we have been made sons of God, we have also been made gods.” (Augustine, On the Psalms, 50.2 Augustine insists that such individuals are gods by grace rather than by nature, but they are gods nevertheless.)
“We find it in early Orthodox tradition as well, for the ‘chief idea of St. Maximus [who died in 662 A.D.] as of all of Eastern theology, [was] the idea of deification” (S.L. Epifanovic as quoted by Jaroslav Pelikan, The Spirit of Eastern Christendom (600-1700). The Christian Tradition, vol. 2, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1974, p. 10, as cited by Peterson and Ricks, p. 79).
You say "They stand on the premise that once God returns then wherever your status is at that point deems where you are going to end up and you will not be given any further chances."
Where in LDS teaching is this found? Mormons don't say that.
The Bible makes clear that all mankind will be "judged. . . according to their works." (Revalatiions 20:12) Since people are judged according to their various works, their rewards must differ according to their works. Jesus taught that in His "Father's house are many mansions" (John 14:2)
Paul had a vision of "the third heaven." (2 Corinthians 12:2). Therefore, Paul teaches us that there are three heavens or, as Mormons put it; three degrees of glory. Paul illustrates the three glories people will receive in the resurrection “There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead.” (1 Corinthians 15:40-42)
Latter-day Saints believe, as did the original Christians, that heaven has three major divisions or levels. The apostle Paul refers to these three levels: "There is on glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another in glory. So is the resurrection of the dead." (1 Cor. 15:41-42)
Here Paul explains that in the resurrection there will be different glories, one like the sun, one like the moon, and one like the stars. Paul also talks about being "caught up to the third heaven." (2 Cor. 12:1-2)
Early Christian father Origen’s teaching, in the early third century, shows that the early Church interpreted this passage in the same way:
He says: “Our understanding of the passage indeed is, that the Apostle, wishing to describe the great difference among those who rise again in glory, i.e., of the saints, borrowed a comparison from the heavenly bodies, saying, "One is the glory of the sun, another the glory of the moon, another the glory of the stars.” (Origen, De Principiis 2:10:2, in ANF 4:294.)
He further explained that the highest of the three degrees is associated with the Father, and the second degree with the Son:
“And some men are connected with the Father, being part of Him, and next to these, those whom our argument now brings into clearer light, those who have come to the Saviour and take their stand entirely in Him. And third are those of whom we spoke before, who reckon the sun and the moon and the stars to be gods, and take their stand by them. And in the fourth and last place those who submit to soulless and dead idols. “ (Origen, Commentary on John 2:3, in ANF 10:324-325.)
Early Church Father, Papias, refers to the three levels and says they "are the gradation and arrangement of those that are saved, and that they advance through steps of this nature." (cited in Irenaeus, Adv. Haereses, v36)
John Chrysostom was another witness to the fact that the early Church considered this passage to be a reference to degrees of reward in the afterlife:
“And having said this, he ascends again to the heaven, saying, ‘There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon.’ For as in the earthly bodies there is a difference, so also in the heavenly; and that difference no ordinary one, but reaching even to the uttermost: there being not only a difference between sun and moon, and stars, but also between stars and stars. For what though they be all in the heaven? yet some have a larger, others a less share of glory. What do we learn from hence? That although they be all in God's kingdom, all shall not enjoy the same reward; and though all sinners be in hell, all shall not endure the same punishment.” (John Chrysostom, Homilies on 1 Corinthians 41:4, in NPNF Series 1, 12:2)
Even before Origen and Chrysostom, however. Irenaeus taught the same doctrine which had supposedly come from the elders who knew the Apostles. Many think he received it from Papias:
“And as the presbyters say, Then those who are deemed worthy of an abode in heaven shall go there, others shall enjoy the delights of paradise, and others shall possess the splendour of the city; for everywhere the Saviour shall be seen according as they who see Him shall be worthy. [They say, moreover], that there is this distinction between the habitation of those who produce an hundred-fold, and that of those who produce sixty-fold, and that of those who produce thirty-fold: for the first will be taken up into the heavens, the second will dwell in paradise, the last will inhabit the city; and that was on this account the Lord declared, "In My Father's house are many mansions." For all things belong to God, who supplies all with a suitable dwelling-place; even as His Word says, that a share is allotted to all by the Father, according as each person is or shall be worthy. And this is the couch on which the guests shall recline, having been invited to the wedding. The presbyters, the disciples of the Apostles, affirm that this is the gradation and arrangement of those who are saved, and that they advance through steps of this nature; also that they ascend through the Spirit to the Son, and through the Son to the Father, and that in due time the Son will yield up His work to the Father, even as it is said by the Apostle, "For He must reign till He hath put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death." (Irenaeus, Against Heresies 5:36:1-2, in ANF 1:567, brackets in original.)
Clement of Alexandria also expressed belief in the three degrees, and echoed the Lord's revelation to Joseph Smith. (D&C 76:58)
“Conformably, therefore, there are various abodes, according to the worth of those who have believed . . . . These chosen abodes, which are three, are indicated by the numbers in the Gospel–the thirty, the sixty, the hundred. And the perfect inheritance belongs to those who attain to "a perfect man," according to the image of the Lord . . . . To the likeness of God, then, he that is introduced into adoption and the friendship of God, to the just inheritance of the lords and gods is brought; if he be perfected, according to the Gospel, as the Lord Himself taught.” (Clement of Alexandria, Stromata 6:14, in ANF 2:506)
Clement also preached that the three gradations of glory are procured by virtue of three types of actions:
Clement of Alexandria] reckons three kinds of actions, the first of which is . . . right or perfect action, which is characteristic of the perfect man and Gnostic alone, and raises him to the height of glory. The second is the class of . . . medium, or intermediate actions, which are done by less perfect believers, and procure a lower grade of glory. In the third place he reckons sinful actions, which are done by those who fall away from salvation. (ANF 2:506.)
Well, of course they're more interested in politics. Given the state of contemporary Christianity in America, this can't possibly surprise anyone.
I don't think anyone is surprised here, other than in recognizing just how blatent it has all become.
We moved from an overt but ever so slightly indirect message of "vote according to your conscience on abortion and gay marriage" to "God wants you to vote Republican".
Religion is and will ever be about individualism and singularities of one's own faith. The "Gatherings" only indemnifies individualities' consternations.
Religion is and ever will be about control and power over the masses.
Religion is 1stly for one's self. Societal Religions are not for the self but rather for those who tend to impart upon others their will of policies toward aggregiousness.
"Religion is and will ever be about individualism and singularities of one's own faith."
Nonsense. Organized religion is about orthodoxy, conformity and the conversion of new adherents.
If it was all about a personal relationship with your God, no religious body would tell you how to vote.
you replied to me with this: (omitting the irrelevance of your bible verses)
Organized religions are societal pariahs ever leeching upon many so many of individualisms' religious fancies.
Furtherore, Nothing is a Foreverness and Matter, in its' infinitesimally finiteness, is a materiaized foreverness unobtainable by us, human-like megaliths called mankind.We are all giants too huge and too vast for us to enter wholy back into the Kingdoms of God which are our bodies. Damn dumb buildings of evolution's ascension into the spatial voids of outward motions!
Organized religions are the problem here. I will happily agree with you that they "leech upon" their adherents but calling them a "societal pariah" is meaningless when they are clearly not outcast, but not only integral to the lives of so many voters but attempt to dictate the votes of those voters.
The rest of your word salad I'll ignore.
I want to get me some whisky so I can get toe-up ya'll.
"Whiskey" is full of spirits don't ya know? Only there for the moments then they do leave one aching for more! The spirits of liqour will bash one's head in and leave one high and dry come the morrow.
Hey, my friends taught me how to drink. We smoke while we flip you the bird.
Some friends you have Meatiness. Teaching you to foam at the mouth do they? The spirits of whiskey lowers one's own spiritualism. Drink and smoke if you want. Flip me your birdie, that's okay and fine with me.
Let Us Love,
@God's Oldest Dreamer
I was gonna invite you for tacos and to go swimming in Carl's pool, but you don't sound like no damn fun.
iPhones, invented by appleism,. corruption of level playing field fourth quarter earnings by madison avenue suites, money grubbing self interested, follower of madison avenue filthy cellular ism by corrupted executives, known as think tanks, translated and stolen by steve jobs in 1978 AD in HTML, cross platform, SML XML language, also known as extensible, part of book of ASP php ism labeled as middle ware. A way to justify madison avenue criminal Kings and self promotion Prophets, fortune grubbers as apple’s to rule over humanity.
Tiny bubbles up one's nose!
hinduism, absurdity of a hindu, lair.
Word Puke is based on Latin absurd word Puki, Pe or Pa, Te, or Ta, meaning from stomach ism 180 and throat base word for Sick in English, Upchuck, blowing chunks or spewing ism, meaning, worshiping at the porcelain throne or a sweaty, infection of puke absolute ism, such as flu, or Food poisoning, in disregard diarrhea or Montezuma’s revenge ism , One who takes a s.h.i.t to be in violation of his body without his consent, considering himself to be dying, the truth you drank too much tequila ism 180, same as in barfing, denier it doesn’t work, word projectile abused vomiting is based on Latin word vomi, icky, smelly, horrible, icky, to be in a pool of sick and HeavenSent, to be dumber than the fluids leaking from your absurd ravished body ism to both of them, watery eyes, a noun in missing work, puke in your nose, way of making absurd filthy you even sicker, as in word “ralph”, a self-violating or a ja.panese p.o.r.n.o, otherwise known as a freak, a sadist. Puking is not an accident but a way to clear the crud ism 180 from your mutilated digestive system, defiance to the Lysol and filthy towels you will use ism absurd 180 filthy ism.
These are the most ignorant comments I've heard of the LDS faith. You guys really need to stop reading into anti-mormon literature, and msnbc. Go straight to the source if you want to know what we believe. lds.org is the site.
We believe in the God the Eternal Father, and in his Son Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.
We believe in the Bible. We use the King James Version. And of course we believe in it so far as it is translated correctly. I think everyone thinks the same way... "Oh we believe in the bible even if it was translated incorrectly multiple times throughout thousands of years." Does that make any sense at all?
More than anything, just pray and ask God. James 1:5. If you want to know, ask God and he will answer if you have a true desire to follow the answer that he gives.
Ive heard some things about Mormonism and wondering if you can verify with yes or no answers.
Do you believe god was once a human, or that humans can become gods?
Do you believe god lives on planet kolob, or that he has a wife?
Do you believe the garden of Eden is in USA?
'Leapin leporialisms' & egads! Troubles in Chinatown?
Tyy, Christians are not Mormons. They believe that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are one separate god. They are monotheists who do not believe in three separate gods. The do not believe that the Father, God, is an exalted man and has a physical body. They believe that the Bible is inerrant, and that salvation comes through faith alone.
These are not just “minor” differences. Christianity is a separate religion to Mormonism. Back in the early days of the LDS Church, they would have been just another heretic sect.
Son of blessed Mary had nothing to do with your hindu Mithra ism, pagan savior ism, Christianity, Shame on you hindu, denier of truth absolute christian, For using son of blessed Mary to promote hinduism, racism as religion. visit limitisthetruth.com to learn hinduism, illegality called Christianity.
We believe in the God the Eternal Father, and in his Son Jesus Christ
What do you think of human beings who don't believe the same things you do, because they live in a place where your belief system isn't practiced, and they probably have never heard of it? Are they your equal human brothers/sisters?
The Apostles' Creed 2012: (updated by yours truly and based on the studies of historians and theologians of the past 200 years)
Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven??
I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)
Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,
He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of
Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
many semi-fiction writers. A descent into Hell, a bodily resurrection
and ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.
(references used are available upon request)
GERBILS ARE NOT SQUIRRELS!!!
You are the most species-challenged aardvark-humper south of the Mason-Dixon line, and there's a LOT of competition for THAT honor, let me tell you!!!!!
Now go away, or I shall taunt you again.
Where is he now. Someone's got to fix the greed.
"Greedasciously ismatical". Where lies the puddin?
They have faith in money and greed.
So did the kings of Israel, and we all know that God just adored everything they did. :-)
'Alimoanialized' purities puts the finitely touched into 'schizms' of impure 'retributionals' leaving the leveraged high and dry.
That would be because money and greed are real.
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.