Mormon Christology Q1: Being of God
The first set of questions I have really centers on how Mormon's understand the being of God. I'm going to start by trying to lay out the facts as I understand them:
- We Evangelicals think that the phrase 'God is Trinity' (meaning one being ontologically, with three distinct persons) best summarizes the meaning of the biblical data.
- Robinson says "Many Evangelicals would be surprised to learn that Mormons can accept the formula of "one God in three persons." However, we believe that the oneness of these three is not an ontological oneness of being...but a oneness of mind, purpose, power, and intent...The three persons are one God...but [what] is said at Nicea and is rejected by Mormons is that these three persons are ontologically one being" (How Wide the Divide, p 129)
- one the next page Robinson continues: "Latter-day Saints believe the biblical concept of 'oneness'...is revealed at John 17:21-23, Rom 12:5, 1 Cor 12:12-13, Gal 3:28, etc. where individual disciples can also be 'one' in the Father and Son, or 'one' in Christ, or even 'one' w/ each other in Christ (p 130).
- then one page further: "Obviously, some Evangelical will tell me that my belief in three separate and distinct beings adding up to one God is illogical and therefore amounts to polytheism. While it may seem illogical that Mormons believe a divine Father, Son and Holy Ghost who are separate and distinct beings still only add up to one God, it is nevertheless what we believe...thus there are three divine persons, but only one Godhead." (p 132).
a) it seems to me that Mormons would then interpret the OT concept of "God being one" (cf. Deut 6) as simply the "oneness of mind, purpose, power, and intent" rather than a oneness of "being". Yes? No? Clarify? The overarching impression I get when reading the OT contextually is that God is opposed to other divinities on the basis of their not-being-him, rather than on the basis of their not-being-unified-with-him. How would Mormon's address this?
b) it seems to me that for Mormons, there is this single thing called "godhead" and within that there are three "beings" (where each of these beings is a distinct "person" - Father, Son, Holy Spirit). Yes? No? Clarify? If that is the case, what is the "godhead" if not a "being"?
c) it seems to me that Mormons are saying there is "one being" (God, Godhead) which is simultaneously "three beings" (F, S, HS). Is this what Mormons actually think? To me, this to present a quandry:
- either it implies a real logical contradiction by saying "1 something" is also "3 of the same somethings" (which the Evangelical doctrine of Trinity avoids by definition)
- or else "Godhead" is something different than "being" ('being' in the first case is different than 'being' in the second case)
- or else it devolves into polytheism (many gods)
- or else it devolves into pantheism (we are all part of the divine being).
d) how is it possible for God to be all-powerful and all-knowing while at the same time existing as more than one being? By definition, it would seem that only one being could truly be all-powerful (unless we are going to redefine omnipotence, or devolve back into pantheism). Can someone explain?
e) regardless of our common vocabularies and Scriptures, it seems to me that at the end of the day Evangelicals and Mormons are fundamentally talking about two very different divine beings here - the Evangelical's "God" seems ontologically different than (and incompatible with!) the Mormon "God." This difference seems such that we cannot both be right; someone must be wrong. Agree? Disagree?
Ok, that's enough for now. Before you respond, please read the ground rules...