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Criticism of Mormonism/Books/Mormonism 101/Chapter 12
Response to claims made in "Chapter 12: Heaven and Hell"
|Chapter 11: Grace and Works||
A FAIR Analysis of: Mormonism 101, a work by author: Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson
|Chapter 13: Communion and Baptism|
Response to claims made in Mormonism 101, "Chapter 12: Heaven and Hell"
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- Response to claim: 171 - The authors state that the LDS believe that "a person is destined for one of six places after death"
- Response to claim: 172 - The key to understanding LDS soteriology is to "examine the biblical proof texts the Latter-day Saints use...to support their views"
- Response to claim: 172 - "many scholars believe that Paul was referring to heavenly bodies such as the moon, sun, and stars"
- Response to claim: 172 - The next "proof text" the authors consider is 2 Corinthians 12:2-4: "I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago...such a one caught up to the third heaven..."
- Response to claim: 17-174 - The authors state that Outer Darkness is reserved for those who commit murder or apostasize until they are resurrected and judged, and that those who fail to enter the Telestial kingdom after judgment will "return again to outer darkness, this time for eternity"
- Response to claim: 174-175 - The authors claim that Mormons' understanding of the Telestial Kingdom "is completely foreign to the Bible"
- Response to claim: 175-176 - "For those whose 'righteousness' will enable them to escape both outer darkness and the telestial kingdom, the next level up is a terrestrial kingdom"
- Response to claim: 177 - The authors claim that "Mormon males become gods of their newly inherited worlds" in the Celestial Kingdom
- Response to claim: 178 - LDS theology teaches that people can become angels. According to the authors, the "Bible, however, does not teach that people become angels. Angels are a distinct creation of God"
- Response to claim: 179 - "Mormon males and their goddess wives will have the ability to populate the worlds they will inherit"
- Response to claim: 179-180 - "Mormonism's heaven revolves around personal adoration and eternal sexual relations"
- Response to claim: 181 - The authors note that any "earth that a faithful Mormon hopes to eventually inherit, is predestined to be infected with sin" and that the "Mormon as 'God' will be in charge of the mess"
- Response to claim: 182-183 - "Only a people ignorant of God's righteousness can think that they can establish their own righteousness and thereby meet the standard of God's absolute perfection"
- Response to claim: 184 - The authors claim that "those who believe that personal merit will vindicate them will be horribly disappointed"
The authors state that the LDS believe that "a person is destined for one of six places after death," by which they mean Perdition, or Outer Darkness, the Telestial Kingdom, the Terrestrial Kingdom, and the three levels of the Celestial Kingdom.
The spin: By failing at the outset to make the critical distinction that these destinies are not determined until after the Judgment, not just after death, they sow the first seeds of confusion which permeate this chapter.
Response to claim: 172 - The key to understanding LDS soteriology is to "examine the biblical proof texts the Latter-day Saints use...to support their views"
The authors make the first error of "preaching to the choir" in the chapter, when they write that the key to understanding LDS soteriology is to "examine the biblical proof texts the Latter-day Saints use...to support their views."
The mistake: Anyone who understands the Restored Gospel will know that we do not base our doctrine upon proof texts  from the Bible (or anywhere else, for that matter), but upon latter-day revelation.The facts: Since we do not believe our teachings contradict the Bible, it is quite normal (even normative) that we would preach from the scriptures, but they are the reflection of our doctrine, not its source-a confusion all too easy for a Biblicist to make, for whom the relationship between doctrine and scripture goes exactly the other way around.
Response to claim: 172 - "many scholars believe that Paul was referring to heavenly bodies such as the moon, sun, and stars"
The first alleged "proof text" examined by the authors is 1 Corinthians 15:40, "There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial...". They say that in light of verse 41, where Paul makes the comparison between the light of the sun, the moon and the stars as a simile for the difference in glories between the three kingdoms, that "many scholars believe that Paul was referring to heavenly bodies such as the moon, sun, and stars."
The mistake: Well, yes—that is the whole point of a simile. If one were to say "my true love's eyes are like almonds," one is not writing an agronomy treatise, but, yes, one is referring to almonds.The facts: Paul's analogy works like this: "There are A, B, and C...so too is the resurrection of the dead (verse 42)"—a classic simile. To misunderstand such a fundamental literary feature as a simile does not bode well for the authors' understanding of the even more sophisticated literary forms that Paul often employs.
The authors then say, "One thing for sure, there is no mention of 'bodies telestial.'" No, not in so many words, but Paul's simile is quite clearly tripartite, using the symbolism of the sun, the earth and the stars, so "telestial" (meaning "stellar," or "of stars") is hardly out of harmony with the verse. Because of their Biblicist background, they accuse Joseph Smith of a rather barefaced attempt to "bolster his erroneous doctrine" by inserting the word into the Joseph Smith Translation. However, it's well known that people in the nineteenth century often made what are technically called paraphrases (Thomas Jefferson made one of the New Testament which reflected his proto-Unitarian beliefs, for instance). A paraphrase is not a translation in the secular sense of looking at texts in other languages and then redacting (editing and recombing) the various texts and rendering the resultant consensus in the target language, and this latter, modern sense of translation has never been claimed by Latter-day Saints on behalf of the Joseph Smith Translation-it is, in fact, not canonical for precisely that reason (that is, his paraphrase as a study project was interrupted by his martyrdom so is incomplete at best). In any case, the term fits doctrinally and in the sense of the language Paul uses here, and its insertion would be problematic only for Biblicists (in other words, this is yet another error of "preaching to the choir").
- For a detailed response, see: 1 Corinthians 15:40 as a "proof text?" and History of the belief in a three-part heaven
The next "proof text" the authors consider is 2 Corinthians 12:2-4: "I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such a one caught up to the third heaven..."
The mistake: They start off in their usual way, with the circular assumption that we are basing our doctrines upon passages like this, rather than teaching doctrine from the scriptures, which is not quite the same thing. They then skim lightly over the scholarly tradition of Jews in a rather evasive way with the claim:
The facts: If this sounds remarkably, even anachronistically modern, it's because it is. It turns out not to be Jewish at all: their reference is to the eighteenth-century Enlightenment-era Protestant commentator Matthew Henry, who writes:
Using these passages to validate the idea of three kingdoms making up heaven ignores the Jewish tradition Paul would have known. According to that tradition, paradise was the abode of God, the place of eternal joy for God's people. However, Jewish custom never viewed a first or second heaven as alternative eternal destinations. Rather, these referred to the atmospheric heaven (the sky) and the galactic heaven (the universe).
It was certainly a very extraordinary honour done him: in some sense he was caught up into the third heaven, the heaven of the blessed, above the aerial heaven, in which the fowls fly, above the starry heaven, which is adorned with those glorious orbs: it was into the third heaven, where God most eminently manifests His glory. 
Such a glaring error leads one to believe that perhaps they don't think people will check their footnotes-another sign of the "down-market" audience for which their book seems to be intended.
- For a detailed response, see: 2 Corinthians 12:2-4 as a "proof text?" and History of the belief in a three-part heaven
The authors state that Outer Darkness is reserved for those who commit murder or apostasize until they are resurrected and judged, and that those who fail to enter the Telestial kingdom after judgment will "return again to outer darkness, this time for eternity."
- Bruce R. McConkie, Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3:75.
- George Q. Cannon, Gospel Truth, 1:62.
- Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 757.
- Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 350.
- Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 2:220.
The mistake: The authors misinterpret the LDS concept of "outer darkness."
- For a detailed response, see: Fate of the "Sons of Perdition" and Will the "sons of Perdition" be resurrected?
The authors claim the following concerning our understanding of the Telestial Kingdom:
It is said that it "surpasses all understanding"; and that even its inhabitants, the last to be redeemed, and even then deprived of the personal presence of God and the Christ, shall nevertheless receive the ministration of angels and the Holy Ghost...is completely foreign to the Bible.
The mistake: Since the authors make absolutely no connection between how they interpret Biblical terms and modern LDS terminology, this claim doesn't even make sense. Their criticism could conceivably be true-if only we knew what they meant by the terms the Bible uses.The facts: Since the Bible itself so clearly teaches that Christ Himself went to minister to the souls in Hell (sheol), as referred to in 1 Peter 3:18-19 and 4:6, one can see that any serious attempt by a reviewer to take their criticisms at face value crashes upon the shoals of inconsistency and profound ignorance of the terminology used in the Bible.
Response to claim: 175-176 - "For those whose 'righteousness' will enable them to escape both outer darkness and the telestial kingdom, the next level up is a terrestrial kingdom"
The authors state,
For those whose "righteousness" will enable them to escape both outer darkness and the telestial kingdom, the next level up is a terrestrial kingdom...
- Ludlow, ed., "Degrees of Glory," Encyclopedia of Mormonism, vol. 1, 368.
- Spencer W. Kimball, Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, 48.
The mistake: The authors misrepresent LDS belief by indicating that a person's "righteousness" will allow them to "escape" outer darkness and the telestial kingdom.The facts: They do not mention the atonement of Christ, thus implying that Latter-day Saints must "work" for their salvation.
The authors claim that "Mormon males become gods of their newly inherited worlds" in the Celestial Kingdom.
- Ludlow, ed., "Marriage," Encyclopedia of Mormonism, vol. 2, 858.
The mistake: The quote used by the authors says nothing about "Mormon males" becoming gods of "inherited worlds."The facts: It talks of looking "forward to an association in the postmortal world with a worthy spouse, and with those who were earthly children, fathers, mothers, brothers, and sisters."
- For a detailed response, see: Do Latter-day Saints believe that they can become gods and rule over their own planets? and Nature of God/Deification of man
LDS theology teaches that people can become angels. According to the authors, the "Bible, however, does not teach that people become angels. Angels are a distinct creation of God." They quote Psalm 148:2, 5,
Praise ye him, all his angels: praise ye him, all his hosts....Let them praise the name of the Lord: for he commanded, and they were created."
- Psalm 148:2
- Psalm 148:5
The mistake: It's all too easy to be tempted to look up Psalms 148:2 and Psalms 148:5 and see what's in the intervening verses. Upon doing so, one learns that verses 3 and 4 include the exhortation to praise God to the sun and the moon and the stars of light, the heavens of heavens, and the waters that are above the heavens. God created everything, including us, and including angels and including the physical universe. Note the reference to multiple heavens: "the heaven of heavens."The facts: There is no one-to-one relationship here that suggests that angels are not human species, merely humans at a different stage of development or playing a different role. That many today believe angels to be a different species of some kind is not an original Christian doctrine, nor is it an original Jewish doctrine.
- For a detailed response, see: Plan of salvation/Angels
Response to claim: 179 - "Mormon males and their goddess wives will have the ability to populate the worlds they will inherit"
According to the authors, "Mormon males and their goddess wives will have the ability to populate the worlds they will inherit."
- Joseph Fielding Smith, The Way to Perfection, 238-239.
The spin: This is a misrepresentation of Mormon belief.
Question: Do Mormon men believe that they will become "gods of their own planets" and rule over others?
Mormons believe in human deification, but what this doctrine means or entails is beyond human comprehension
It is claimed by some that Mormons believe that they can push themselves higher in a type of 'celestial pecking order.' This is often expressed by the claim that Latter-day Saint men wish to become "gods of their own planets." One critic even extends this to our "own universe,"
Mormons teach that by obedience to all the commandments of Mormonism, a Mormon may attain the highest degree of heaven and ultimately become a god, creating and ruling over his own universe. Do you believe that? Is this your ultimate personal goal?
Members of the Church—like early Christians—believe in human deification or theosis. They assert that this doctrine is taught in the Bible and by modern revelation. However, what this doctrine means or entails is beyond human comprehension anyway. "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him," taught Paul (1 Corinthians 2:9).
Most members of the Church realize that they have enough on their plates to do and become through Christian discipleship and keeping their covenants. They do not spend much time concerned about the details of their future state. They are simply confident that they will be happy, in families, and back in the presence of God where they will continue to do His will.
Certainly we can have the end in mind, remembering the relationship of Father to child is crucial. He will always, through all eternity, be our Father and our God. Still, it would be unwise to jump the gun and assume we are practically almost there; we have plenty to do in the meantime, and an eternal and abiding need for the grace of Christ to compensate for our manifest inadequacies.
The critics' accusations along these lines are a caricature of LDS belief, and omit virtually everything of importance in their discussion of this doctrine.
The caricature: Mormons wishing to "get their own planet"
Mormons, along with many other Christian denominations, believe in deification or theosis, based on the teaching that we can become heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17). Little is known, though much might be speculated, about the specific details of our potential under this doctrine. Reducing it to ruling a planet caricatures a profound and complex belief. The use of the word “planet” makes Mormons seem more like sci-fi enthusiasts than devout Christians.
This isn’t just a quibble about semantics. Claims that Mormons hope for “their own planets” almost always aim to disrespect and marginalize, not to understand or clarify. The reality is that we seek eternal life, which we consider to be a life like that of our Father in Heaven. We consider our immediate task on Earth to learn to understand and obey the Gospel of Jesus Christ, rather than speculate on what life might be like if we achieve exaltation. Specifics about the creation of worlds and the ability to govern them upon achieving eternal life are not clarified in Latter-day Saint scripture. Attempts to portray these concepts as simply wanting to “get our own planet” are a mockery of Latter-day Saint beliefs.
The reality: Latter-day Saints wishing to become like their Father in Heaven
Much criticism of Joseph Smith and the Church in general stems from a teaching regarding the eternal potential of mankind. The Church believes that men and women are the "offspring" of Heavenly Parents (see Acts 17:28-29) composed of the same eternal substance (see DC 93:33-35) and hence we have divine possibilities through the grace of Christ. Latter-day Saints believe that they can achieve a life like that of our Father in Heaven. This implies that one can eventually participate in similar works, among which would be the creation of worlds. In 2001, Elder Henry B. Eyring of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles noted,
The real life we’re preparing for is eternal life. Secular knowledge has for us eternal significance. Our conviction is that God, our Heavenly Father, wants us to live the life that He does. We learn both the spiritual things and the secular things “so we may one day create worlds [and] people and govern them” (Henry B. Eyring, quoting Spencer W. Kimball, Ensign, October 2002.)
Elder's Eyring and Kimball are not the only ones to make such references. Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball and Joseph Fielding Smith all associated becoming like our Heavenly Father with the creation of worlds, and the populating of these worlds with spirit children.
However, there are many names for (and many interpretations of) this belief in and out of the Church. There are various schools of thought on what it might mean for a person to become a "god" after this life. On this view, Brigham Young didn't teach of countless gods doing their own thing in countless universes, each out for their own concerns. According to Brigham, there will be no such separate kingdoms of personal power
...to yourself, by yourself, and for yourself, regardless of every other creature.
But the truth is, you are not going to have a separate kingdom; I am not going to have a separate kingdom; it is not our prerogative to have it on this earth. If you have a kingdom and a dominion here, it must be concentrated in the head; if we are ever prepared for an eternal exaltation, we must be concentrated in the head of the eternal Godhead...If we fancy that we have an independent interest here and in the world to come, we shall fail in getting any of it.
Your interest must be concentrated in the head on the earth, and all of our interest must center in the Godhead in eternity, and there is no durable interest in any other channel.
Along these lines, consider the interesting sermon by Heber C. Kimball from 1856. In this discourse, President Kimball tangentially referred to deification, not as a glorious declaration that we will become gods or godlike, but to remind his listeners not to put the cart before the horse. We ought to consider becoming true "Saints" before focusing too much on being gods.
Many think that they are going right into the celestial kingdom of God, in their present ignorance, to at once receive glories and powers; that they are going to be Gods, while many of them are so ignorant, that they can see or know scarcely anything. Such people talk of becoming Gods, when they do not know anything of God, or of His works; such persons have to learn repentance, and obedience to the law of God; they have got to learn to understand angels, and to comprehend and stick to the principles of this Church.
…I bear testimony of this, and I wish you would listen to counsel and lay aside every sin that doth so easily beset you, and turn to the Lord with full purpose of heart.</ref>
Similarly, during the King Follett discourse, Joseph Smith is said to have taught:
When you climb up a ladder, you must begin at the bottom, and ascend step by step, until you arrive at the top; and so it is with the principles of the Gospel--you must begin with the first, and go on until you learn all the principles of exaltation. But it will be a great while after you have passed through the veil [died] before you will have learned them. It is not all to be comprehended in this world; it will be a great work to learn our salvation and exaltation even beyond the grave.
The need for divine grace
Christ said "be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father in Heaven is perfect" (see Matthew 5:48) and members of the Church tend to take that charge literally. The trouble is, some Saints might feel they can or even must achieve this impossible goal through their own efforts. In conversations about grace and works Mormons are quick to quote: "faith without works is dead," (see James 2:20), often in reaction to extreme conservative Protestantism's claims that one can be saved by faith alone without a concurrent change in behavior and life wrought by that faith. In this respect, the Latter-day Saints share far more with the early Christians than they do with modern conservative Protestantism.
Members must also remember, however, that works without faith is also dead, and Heber seems to be trying to express that message.
Here we see an early example of a Church leader discussing "grace," though he still maintains a perspective in which works are essential. It is for us, today, to focus on today, and retain a remission of sins relying on Christ, as the light grows brighter and brighter until the perfect day, when the rest of this doctrine can be figured out more clearly. In the meantime, our probation continues, and Heber had a few pieces of advice to impart:
We cannot become perfect, without we are assisted by our heavenly Father. We must be faithful and of one heart, and one mind, and let every man and woman take course to build up and not pull down. See that you save your grain, that you may save yourselves from the wicked of the world. Try to take care of every thing that is good to eat, for this is the work of the Lord God Almighty, and we shall have times that will test the integrity of this people, that will test who is honest and who is not.
Omitting prayer is calculated to lead the mind away from those duties which are incumbent upon us; then let us attend to our prayers and all our duties, and you will know that brother Brigham and his brethren have told you of these things...
There are trying times ahead of you, do you not begin to feel and see them? If you do not, I say you are asleep. I wish that the spirit which rests upon a few individuals could be upon you, everyone of you, it would be one of the most joyful times that brother Brigham and I ever saw with the Saints of God upon this earth.
Response to claim: 179-180 - "Mormonism's heaven revolves around personal adoration and eternal sexual relations"
The authors claim that,
Much of the LDS outlook on true salvation centers on the desires of the Mormon individual and not on Jesus Christ. Rather than the picture portrayed in the Book of Revelation, where God's saints pay rightful homage to the One who redeemed them, the Mormon heavenly system is more focused on personal power, gain, and sex.
- The authors go on to say the "Mormonism's heaven revolves around personal adoration and eternal sexual relations."
Orson Pratt, The Seer, 37. Personal e-mail message sent to Bill McKeever, 19 May 1997.
Fact checking results: This claim is falseThe falsehood: The authors have created a truly repulsive and offensive characterization of Latter-day Saint beliefs which is hardly worthy of response, with sources being Orson Pratt's The Seer (which was repudiated by the Church) and a "personal e-mail message to Bill McKeever."
The authors' characterization of theosis (deification, eternal progression), either in its early Christian or latter-day Christian form, as being self-centered ("more focused on personal power, gain, and sex" as they put it) is nothing more than a cheap shot. They unwittingly echo a common criticism by atheists of religion as a whole being self-centered. They contrast what they see in LDS doctrine with the image of worshiping God in Revelation, forgetting that Revelation is a canonical book for Latter-day Saints, too. They do not explain this contradiction.The facts: For the record, all the speculations of nineteenth-century brethren aside (which, like the circular arguers that the authors are, they assume we lend all written material equal doctrinal weight-which we clearly do not) they assume all LDS writings are as indicative of LDS doctrine as are our canonical scriptures. This is circular because it argues a point of our doctrine based on one of their assumptions-that the written word is the Word of God, not a record of the Word of God. And in any case, uniquely LDS scripture happens both to echo the apocalyptic worshiping of God as in Revelation, along with the primacy of God in LDS soteriology (doctrines regarding salvation) and eschatology (doctrines concerning the latter days):
And he hath brought to pass the redemption of the world, whereby he that is found guiltless before him at the judgment day hath it given unto him to dwell in the presence of God in his kingdom, to sing ceaseless praises with the choirs above, unto the Father, and unto the Son, and unto the Holy Ghost, which are one God, in a state of happiness which hath no end. (Mormon 7:7)
...for God said unto me: Worship God, for him only shalt thou serve. (Moses 1:15)
Question: Do Latter-day Saints believe in a practice called "celestial sex," and that this is the manner in which "spirit children" are formed?
It is the critics of the Church that invented and use the offensive term "celestial sex"
This is not a term used by Latter-day Saints. It has, in fact, never been used by Latter-day Saints. The use of the term "celestial sex" by critics is intended to be demeaning and shocking to Latter-day Saints or interested readers. The use of such tactics may say much about the mainstream culture's preoccupation with sexual behavior. However, it says nothing about the actual beliefs of Church members.
Critics of the Church twist LDS beliefs into a form that makes them look ridiculous. Quotes made by early LDS leaders are often used to support the claim that Latter-day Saints believe in “Celestial sex.” It should be noted, however, that LDS leaders have never used the term "Celestial sex." This phrase was coined by critics of the Church, likely for its “shock value” in portraying the following concepts in LDS belief:
- The belief that God the Father has a physical body.
- The belief that there exists a Heavenly Mother who also possesses a physical body.
- The belief that our Heavenly Father and Mother together are capable of creating “spirit children.”
Critics take these ideas and combine them, leading to a declaration that Latter-day Saints therefore believe in “Celestial sex.” Various anti-Mormon works then use this idea to mock LDS beliefs or shock their readers—though this claim does not describe LDS beliefs, but the critics' caricature of them.
One of the earliest uses of the term "celestial sex" was in the anti-Mormon film The God Makers
For example, the 1982 anti-Mormon film The God Makers makes reference to “engaging in celestial sex with their goddess wives." One woman in the film, who is claimed to have once been a Latter-day Saint, expresses the idea that the primary goal of women in the Church is to "become a goddess in heaven" in order to "multiply an earth" and be "eternally pregnant." The claim that Latter-day Saints expect to have "endless Celestial sex" in order to populate their own planet is very popular among critics of the Church, though members themselves would not explain their beliefs in that way.
The critics' assumptions simply take what we know about our physical world and naively apply it to the afterlife. When one examines the critics’ point further, a key question ought to be raised: How does the union of two immortal beings in a physical manner produce spirit offspring? Latter-day Saint belief is that “spirit children” only receive a physical body upon being born on earth.
This question, of course, cannot be answered. It is pointless to speculate on the exact manner in which “spirit children” are produced, and to assume that this occurs through “Celestial sex” and being "eternally pregnant" is to apply a worldly mindset to a spiritual process. The bottom line: Latter-day Saints do not know the mechanism by which “spirit children” are produced, and no LDS doctrine claims that "celestial sex" and being "eternally pregnant" are the means.
Question: What have Latter-day Saint leaders actually said about the method of procreation in the afterlife?
Church leaders have said very little about this, because little is known about the process
The fact that we do not know the exact process by which “spirit children” are created does not mean that LDS leaders have not speculated on the process. There are a few quotes that are often used to support the critics’ concept of “Celestial sex," which we will now examine:
Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 387
"[I]ntelligence or spirit element became intelligences after the spirits were born as individual [spirit] entities."
Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 750
"Our spirit bodies had their beginning in pre-existence when we were born as the spirit children of God our Father. Through that birth process spirit element was organized into intelligent entities."
Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, vol. 11, 122
"[God] created man, as we create our children; for there is no other process of creation in heaven, on the earth, in the earth, or under the earth, or in all the eternities, that is, that were, or that ever will be."
— Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 11:122..
John A. Widtsoe, A Rational Theology, p. 69
The author of the anti-Mormon book Becoming Gods says the following:
"As for the sexual aspect of this event, LDS apostle John A. Widtsoe explained, 'Sex Among the Gods. Sex, which is indispensable on this earth for the perpetuation of the human race, is an eternal quality which has its equivalent everywhere.'" (p. 392, n14)
Upon reading the quote above, it does indeed sound as if Widtsoe is talking about a “sex act” among gods. It must be noted, however, that Widtsoe referred to "sex" as a "quality" rather than a "practice." Of course, the fact that two genders exist at all implies that it somehow takes both to accomplish the creation of spirit children. Looking at Widtsoe’s quote in context, we learn that he is not speaking about the sex act, but about gender:
Sex Among the Gods.
Sex, which is indispensable on this earth for the perpetuation of the human race, is an eternal quality which has its equivalent everywhere. It is indestructible. The relationship between men and women is eternal and must continue eternally. In accordance with Gospel philosophy there are males and females in heaven. Since we have a Father, who is our God, we must also have a mother, who possesses the attributes of Godhood. This simply carries onward the logic of things earthly, and conforms with the doctrine that whatever is on this earth is simply a representation of spiritual conditions of deeper meaning than we can here fathom.
Would a “sex act” be considered a “quality” that was “indestructible?” Critics rely on contextual presentism by quoting the term "sex" without the context that makes its meaning clear. It is more reasonable to consider “gender” a “quality” that is “indestructible.” Consider the following quote from James E. Talmage.
“We affirm as reasonable, scriptural, and true, the eternity of sex among the children of God. The distinction between male and female is no condition peculiar to the relatively brief period of mortal life. It was an essential characteristic of our pre-existent condition, even as it shall continue after death, in both disembodied and resurrected states .... [The] scriptures attest a state of existence preceding mortality, in which the spirit children of God lived, doubtless with distinguishing characteristics, including the distinction of sex, "before they were [created] naturally upon the face of the earth." ("The Eternity of Sex," Millennial Star (24 August 1922): 530.)"
Note the phrase “the distinction of sex.” Talmage is not talking about a “sex act,” but rather the distinction between the two sexes or genders.
The authors note that any "earth that a faithful Mormon hopes to eventually inherit, is predestined to be infected with sin" and that the "Mormon as 'God' will be in charge of the mess." Not content to treat the LDS as Biblicists by giving every speculative personal LDS commentary the same weight as scripture, the authors go on to draw their own conclusions and present this as if it were LDS doctrine:"Every Mormon couple who obtains exaltation has no choice but to look forward to the day when one of their own children will serve as a tempter and cause one-third of the other family members to rebel and fall into sin."
In footnote 30 on page 303, the authors present this bizarre scenario:
According to Mormonism, this planet is said to be a portion of Elohim's inheritance and reward for a life of good works in a previous world...Given this LDS premise, does it seem reasonable that God is overflowing with joy watching His creation stumble through life? Does He bubble with pride as He witnesses His creation killing each other in war, aborting their babies, overdosing on drugs, and stealing from each other? Only the most sadistic of creatures would define heaven in such a disappointing way.
- Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 14:71-72.
The spin: As if this non sequitur weren't vivid enough, they bring in the names of Auschwitz, Rwanda, Tiananmen Square and Kosovo in a melodramatic attempt to paint a horrible vision of "Mormon eternity."The facts: There is no better condemnation of this kind of overheated prose than to quote the authors' own words against them: "Perhaps with our sin-tainted minds, such a wondrous concept would be difficult to grasp." Indeed. But the way to at least begin to grasp it is to ask the LDS what we believe, not presume to tell us what we believe.
Regarding the authors' absolutely irreverent view of "Mormon heaven," of course God does not "bubble with pride" when he sees his children commit heinous sin. The scriptures are filled with evidence of the displeasure of God. The authors have seriously twisted LDS belief into a caricature of the truth.
Response to claim: 182-183 - "Only a people ignorant of God's righteousness can think that they can establish their own righteousness and thereby meet the standard of God's absolute perfection"
The authors state that "[o]nly a people ignorant of God's righteousness can think that they can establish their own righteousness and thereby meet the standard of God's absolute perfection. How disappointed they will be to hear the words found in Matthew 25:41: 'Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.'"
The mistake: Again, the authors claim that Latter-day Saints are attempting to "establish their own righteousness" with no mention of our dependency upon the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
- For a detailed response, see: Plan of salvation
The authors claim that "those who believe that personal merit will vindicate them will be horribly disappointed. Exposed as insufficient will be sin-tainted deeds performed with the anticipation of individual exaltation. A life dedicated to self-glorification will not be enough to assuage God's demand for perfection. A horrible end also lies in store for those who pride themselves in their false religion...neither the Jesus of Mormonism nor the Jesus of any other false religion has any power to save..."
The spin: The authors attempt to imply that Latter-day Saints do not worship the same Jesus that they do.
- For a detailed response, see: Plan of salvation/Three degrees of glory/Concept of Hell
- In apologetic terms, a proof text is typically a scripture, often pulled out of context, used to prove a doctrinal point.
- Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry's Commentary of the Whole Bible (McLean, Virginia: MacDonald Publishing Co., 1706), 6:641.
- This article was based on a blog post, Blair Hodges, "Becoming Saints before gods," lifeongoldplates.com (8 February 2008), last accessed (28 December 2008) off-site (used with permission). Due to the nature of a wiki project, the text may have been subsequently modified.
- Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 4:26-28.
- Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 volumes, edited by Brigham H. Roberts, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1957), 6:306–307. Volume 6 link
- Heber C. Kimball, Journal of Discourses 4:1-7.