Question: Did Elder Dallin Oaks say that "so-called Christianity sees God as an entirely different kind of being"?

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Question: Did Elder Dallin Oaks say that "so-called Christianity sees God as an entirely different kind of being"?

Elder Oaks never said any such thing

Author Richard Abanes in his critical book One Nation Under Gods claims that Dallin Oaks told Mormons in 1995 "that so-called Christianity sees God as an entirely different kind of being." He cites Dallin H. Oaks, "Apostasy and Restoration ," Ensign, May 1995, 84. However, Elder Oaks made no such claim.

In the cited article, Elder Oaks says nothing about "so-called Christianity." The only mention of the phrase "so-called" in the article is the following:

The received language of the Bible remained, but the so-called “hidden meanings” of scriptural words were now explained in the vocabulary of a philosophy alien to their origins.

Elder Oaks' contention is not that the LDS God is not the Christian God, but rather that many Christian faiths have grafted non-scriptural ideas onto their conception of God

Elder Oaks does not deny the label of Christian to others who differ with us, or think that we do not also have many points in common.

In the cited article, Elder Oaks says nothing about "so-called Christianity." Instead, he uses such phrases as:

  • The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has many beliefs in common with other Christian churches....
  • In common with the rest of Christianity, we believe in a Godhead of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
  • Like other Christians, we believe in a heaven or paradise and a hell following mortal life, but to us that two-part division of the righteous and the wicked is merely temporary, while the spirits of the dead await their resurrections and final judgments.
  • It is the reality of these glorious possibilities that causes us to proclaim our message of restored Christianity to all people, even to good practicing Christians with other beliefs.

Elder Oaks describes the differences between LDS belief and that of many other Christians as due to the influence of Greek philosophy after the loss of the apostles

We maintain that the concepts identified by such nonscriptural terms as “the incomprehensible mystery of God” and “the mystery of the Holy Trinity” are attributable to the ideas of Greek philosophy. These philosophical concepts transformed Christianity in the first few centuries following the deaths of the Apostles. For example, philosophers then maintained that physical matter was evil and that God was a spirit without feelings or passions. Persons of this persuasion, including learned men who became influential converts to Christianity, had a hard time accepting the simple teachings of early Christianity: an Only Begotten Son who said he was in the express image of his Father in Heaven and who taught his followers to be one as he and his Father were one, and a Messiah who died on a cross and later appeared to his followers as a resurrected being with flesh and bones.

The collision between the speculative world of Greek philosophy and the simple, literal faith and practice of the earliest Christians produced sharp contentions that threatened to widen political divisions in the fragmenting Roman empire. This led Emperor Constantine to convene the first churchwide council in a.d. 325. The action of this council of Nicaea remains the most important single event after the death of the Apostles in formulating the modern Christian concept of deity. The Nicene Creed erased the idea of the separate being of Father and Son by defining God the Son as being of “one substance with the Father.”

Other councils followed, and from their decisions and the writings of churchmen and philosophers there came a synthesis of Greek philosophy and Christian doctrine in which the orthodox Christians of that day lost the fulness of truth about the nature of God and the Godhead. The consequences persist in the various creeds of Christianity, which declare a Godhead of only one being and which describe that single being or God as “incomprehensible” and “without body, parts, or passions.” One of the distinguishing features of the doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is its rejection of all of these postbiblical creeds (italics added).