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“Forever Families” a Hurtful Doctrine?

Many LDS members find comfort in the idea that Families can be together forever.  But does it have a darker side?  What happens when a family member leaves the Church?  In our next conversation with Christ’s Church apostle David Patrick and Seventy Benjamin Shaffer, we’ll find out that both were former members of the LDS Church.  Have they been cut off from their families?

Benjamin:  Right. So we believe that families are forever. But I view this statement that families can be together forever as essentially one of the most vile and apostate teachings that has ever been perpetrated upon the Latter-day Saints.

GT:  You just offended all of my LDS listeners. {chuckling}

Benjamin:  I’m so sorry. Let me explain the difference…So families are forever is what I believe. The Doctrine and Covenants makes it clear that the same sociality which exists amongst us here will exist amongst us hereafter, which basically means that if you’re viewing the sealing ceremonies, if you’re viewing these concepts of the eternity of families as an eternity of association, then I think we’ve got a really big problem. Because essentially, what they’re then saying is, is that if you don’t follow our rules, if you don’t make it to the temple, then you’re not promised an eternity of association with your loved ones. That would mean, you’d have to have some kind of enforcement method where people can’t be with their families anymore. This is kind of what I would call the geographic view of the Three Degrees Of Glory, like they’re separated so fundamentally by geography, that people in one Kingdom can’t visit the people in another. If that’s the view that you take, then God’s a monster by that kind of reasoning. Essentially, what you’re saying is, is that the single mother who didn’t pay her tithing and didn’t get sealed to her child, or the single mother, therefore, who isn’t sealed to the Father, and therefore, dies without having those opportunities–you’re saying that you’re going to tear these children from their mother’s arms. This is worse than the slave auction block. We’re not just talking about separation for life. There’s a separation for eternity. It’s just absolutely heinous.

David:  Benjamin, do you think the most Latter-day Saints are not going to be as maybe literal about the word can be together forever, and you may be a little bit more literal than they are?

Benjamin:  Perhaps, but I think that the thing is, is that when you have your whole family, everybody’s in good standing with the church. It’s true. You don’t really think about it that way. But the moment anybody leaves the church, the moment someone apostasizes, people do start to panic. I’ve seen it over and over again.

David:  Yeah.

Benjamin:  If somebody starts leaving the church, they say, “Well, but does that mean I won’t be with you in eternity?” It’s like one of the first things that a lot of LDS people immediately go to when somebody, even if somebody just drinks a beer or something, is “Oh my goodness, you’re putting our eternal family at jeopardy”. That’s why I think it’s a really invidious doctrine. It’s not that your average LDS family when everyone’s in good standing is even thinking about it. They’re all just feeling happy. They’re going to be together forever. It’s all good. But yeah, when someone leaves, I think it is fairly universal for people immediately to go to that more terrifying understanding of,  “Wait, does this mean then that we are separated?” I think that’s why it’s dangerous.

Have you thought of it that way before?  Are forever families a two-edged sword that both provides comfort and pain?  David & Benjamin talk about the impact on their families.  Check out our conversation….

“Forever Families” is a comfort for the LDS, until a family members leaves. Then it is hurtful.

Don’t miss our previous conversations!

386: Why Polygamists are Threatening to LDS Church

385: God in a Box or Pyramid?

384: Documentary Hypothesis & Adam-God

383: Intro to Adam-God Theory

382: Scriptures of Christ’s Church

381: Intro to Christ’s Church

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Documentary Hypotheses & Adam-God (Part 4 of 8)

The Adam-God doctrine identifies Elohim and Jehovah as separate beings.  However, the Documentary Hypothesis states that these two names were used interchangeably for the same god in the Old Testament.  I asked 2 members of Christ’s Church how they dealt with that issue with regards to the Documentary Hypothesis.  Apostle David Patrick and Seventy Benjamin Shaffer share how they deal with this issue.

GT:  As I understand the Documentary Hypothesis, the idea is the first five books of Moses were written by four different authors.

Benjamin: Right.

GT:  The J author refers to God as Yahweh; E [author refers to] Elohim because this is the point that I want to make here. I might be getting this backwards. In the Northern Kingdom, they referred to God as Elohim and then in the Southern Kingdom they referred to God as Jehovah.[1] And then the editors according to the Documentary Hypothesis combined them all. Really Jehovah and Elohim are really two names for the same for the one and only God. And if you go to the Hebrew, they basically alternate behind between Jehovah and Elohim as the same person. And so Mormons are heretical, because we say that Jehovah and Elohim are two different people but historically, especially in the in the five books of Moses (I hope I’m getting this right) the Southern Kingdom referred to Jehovah, the Northern Kingdom referred to Elohim but they’re really the same person. So how would you respond to that issue?

Benjamin: Textual criticism is a big rabbit hole to go down, a big gospel tangent.

GT:  Sure.

Benjamin:  And it is complicated, but I do have a couple things that I could say to that. First of all, we do believe in this unity of godliness. Jehovah is in Elohim as in El, right? These are different titles as David [Patrick] is explaining. Right? You can use those titles. Sometimes you can use those titles somewhat interchangeably. This is actually another evidence for the Adam-God Doctrine. If Michael is a title of God with God right in the name right there then you could call any of them by any of those titles without being incorrect.[2]

[1] I got it backwards.  Southern Kingdom called God “Elohim” while Northern Kingdom called God “Jehovah” according to Documentary Hypothesis.

[2] It should be noted that El means “god” in Hebrew.  Therefore the name Michael could be written as Micha-El, which includes El (God) as part of Michael’s name.

Benjamin talks further about how the Documentary Hypothesis might support the idea that Laban was helping put together the Torah under King Josiah.  What do you think of his explanation?  We’ll also talk about how Christ’s Church deals with evangelicals who like to ambush Mormons at places like the Manti Pageant over the Adam-God doctrine.  Check out our conversation….

Mormons believe Elohim & Jehovah are 2 different beings, while the Documentary Hypothesis says Elohim & Jehovah are 2 names for the same god.
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Intro to Adam-God Doctrine (Part 3 of 8)

The Adam-God Doctrine is probably my most requested topic here at Gospel Tangents.  I admit I am not an expert on this topic, so I sat down with 2 members of Christ’s Church to learn more about this early Mormon doctrine.  David Patrick is an apostle and Benjamin Shaffer is a Seventy.  Think of this as your Adam-God 101 episode.

GT:  I believe that it was Bruce R. McConkie that called Adam-God doctrine, “a heresy.” And I also believe that even back to Orson Pratt [it was disputed.] Orson and Brigham had a big dispute over [Adam-God doctrine], and Brigham supported it and Orson did not. I do want to preface that before because I want to I want to make sure people understand that.

David:  Joseph Smith introduces this idea, wow! We can become gods. And so that means there’s a plurality of gods. But we only have one God that we have to deal with on this earth.

GT:  So the question from a Christian point of view is now your polytheistic. Right?

David:  Right.

Benjamin:  More or less. I’m not gonna shy away too much from that idea. I mean, okay, maybe we’re a little bit polytheistic. But we view our monotheism, I guess, as looking at the oneness of God, the unity of God.

GT:  And so the Adam-God doctrine is basically this. Adam was once a man just like us. He made his calling and election sure. He gained his exaltation. And then he became a god. And now it was time to people on earth. So he had spiritual children in his spirit world. And now it was time to people the earth but none of his spirit children had bodies. So he and his wife or wives came down to the earth to people it. Now he had to answer to his God. And his God was his connection in the priesthood. And he told him, “Of the garden, thou may eat of all these fruits but not of this tree.” And so there were still rules of the universe to follow. And once those rules were transgressed, then change would occur. And this is what Brigham Young had placed in the temple ordinance so people could understand the mysteries of godliness; how Adam came to be; how the children came to be. Because he said basically, once they partook of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, then their bodies were changed. It became more temporal. And they were now able to have children. And then those children are now the human race. It’s kind of that simple. But there’s much more to it than that.

GT:  So let me make sure I’m understanding that. This is my rudimentary understanding of the Adam-God doctrine. What we’re saying is the Adam is God. Is that a correct statement?

Benjamin:  Yes. But I think that doctrinally, why this is important is a fairly foundational idea. Are we the children of God? And this lecture at the veil for example, was this explanatory portion of the endowment. So that people would understand the meaning of the ceremony itself.

Now I admit there is a lot of doctrine people would find agreement in what was said, but there is also a disagreement as to whether Adam is God.  What are your thoughts about this topic?

Of course, we’ve only scratched the surface, and I’ve left a lot of our conversation out, so be sure to check out our conversation!

David Patrick & Benjamin Shaffer of Christ’s Church discuss their beliefs about the Adam-God Doctrine, which is definitely very different that the Trinity.

Don’t miss our previous conversations with David and Benjamin to learn more about their church, which is called Christ’s Church.

382: Scriptures of Christ’s Church

381: Intro to Christ’s Church