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God in a Box or Pyramid? (Part 5 of 8)

As humans, we try to understand God, and sometimes we put him in a box.  But would a pyramid be a better idea?  Benjamin Shaffer & David Patrick of Christ’s Church share their feelings on the Adam-God theory and talk about cubes & pyramids to describe God.

Benjamin:  Open up the scriptures anywhere, including the Doctrine and Covenants, which you think would be more clear because it’s more recent, and you will find plenty of instances where–just go ahead and get yourself three highlighter colors, and try to decide exactly which member of the Godhead to speaking at any given moment. You’ll find that it’s an impossible task. They switch off in ways that are quite convoluted and confusing. Go to the Book of Mormon and read what Abinadi says in his descriptions of God, and some people say this sounds very Trinitarian.

They get rather confused. Well, wait a second, which individual do you mean? I think that this is just a wrong way of approaching the question of what is God. We’re trying to put him in a box and we’re trying to put him in this box that’s based on American individualism, where the individual is so paramount. The whole point of the Godhead, the whole point of them being one–and when we say the Father and the Son are one God, I mean, phrases like that appear in the scriptures. How can they be one if we’re constantly trying to turn them into separate individuals? So I guess what I’m trying to say is yes, we do believe that there are such things as individuals. We’re not completely rejecting that but, I think that that really breaks down when you start talking about God. I know this is an outside source, but if you if you go to Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis talks a lot about maybe our problem is that we’re so two dimensional. Individuals are like squares, we keep thinking squares, squares squares, and that each square is separate from every other square. In order to really comprehend the Godhead, you have to recognize that there are a cube. That means that you’ve got to get away from this two dimensional thinking, where we’re so fundamentally focused on squares and how every square is separate, how every square is individual. You know what a cube is made out of six individual squares. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t one shape. It’s not. It is one thing.

GT:  So you know, that’s interesting that you said squares because I thought you were going to go with pyramid. Because in your presentation you said you represented a pyramid. Can we talk about that?

Benjamin:  Sure. So oftentimes we look at the Godhead as a triangle, right? There is plenty of Trinitarian, especially iconography. We have the Father, the Son, the Holy Ghost. It’s that triangle shape. But we’re talking about this as a hierarchy or generations of the gods, which creates this plurality of the gods situation. So instead of seeing it like a triangle, I kind of want to turn it three dimensional. When you turn a triangle three dimensional, all you see is the line. But I’m saying the Godhead isn’t a two dimensional shape. It’s a three dimensional spiral. So that as it goes down through these generations of the gods–the Godhead. Yes, you can view it as a triangle if you’re thinking two dimensionally. But if you’re thinking three dimensionally, it’s more that God’s ways are one eternal round as its described. So then there’s no problem with there being multiple generations of the gods: Elohim, Jehovah, Michael, Jesus Christ, the Holy Ghost and essentially by theory on and on, throughout eternity. Each person takes on those roles, fulfills those principles. Jesus is never called, for example, Jehovah, we like to point out. We don’t believe that the title Jehovah applied to Jesus Christ before His resurrection, but there is a reference in the Doctrine and Covenants, saying that the voice of Jehovah came saying, “Behold, I am Jesus Christ.” [This] is in the Doctrine and Covenants. But the title, Jehovah, if these are all priesthood titles can be applied to Jesus when he takes that role. So again, instead of just thinking Father, Son, Holy Ghost as a two dimensional thing, and when we think of it as this spiral, we recognize that each of these roles, each of these titles can be adopted by a different member of the Godhead at a different time.

What do you think of this explanation?  Check out our conversation…

Benjamin Shaffer and David Patrick describe the Adam-God doctrine as a three-dimensional object rather than the two-dimensional triangle of the trinity or godhead.

Don’t miss our previous conversations with David & Benjamin!

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