Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Kudos Where They Are Due

I am going to take another break from my ranting in this post.  When someone gets things substantively correct in their description of the theology as presented by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, they deserve a pat on the back.  This is just such a moment.

Morgan Guyton has proved able to flush the stereotypes and fallacies that are rampant for something that is as accurate as anything I have seen by the most well read theologian or (certainly) by most of the anti-Mormons out there, including those that are former members.

His conclusion is that he cannot accept it for himself, and I can fully respect that.  When one neither whitewashes nor warps what is there, that decision must be respected.

That said, there are a couple of points that I think need a little clarification.  I hope they are given and received in the same mutual understanding of his original article.

The first thing that jumped out at me, mostly due to the repeat emphasis, was the nature of the Holy Ghost in LDS theology.  God, Christ and The Holy Ghost make up what we term "The Godhead".  Our church structure mirrors this at almost every significant level.  The Prophet has two councelors, a Stake President (over 6-12 Wards) had two councelors, and a Bishop (over one Ward or congregation) has two councelors. The councelors act in behalf of and for their presiding leader.  The only real difference between the two is that if the presiding leader is not present the First Councelor will step in to lead, and if the first is also missing, it falls to the Second Councellor.  Their authority is delegate or derived by their presiding authority, and they represent and act for him where and when necessary.  In other words, they are one in purpose, but three very separate beings.

I can understand the perceived deminishment of the Holy Ghost, but when one looks more deeply into our theology it will become clear his role is not lessened, and is certainly strong.  In fact the only way to make it into the Outer Darkness you wrote of is to deny the Holy Ghost.  You must have a sure knowledge of it and then deny it, but that is the only way.  You can know and deny Christ, and that can be forgiven, a la Peter, but to deny the Holy Spirit cannot be forgiven (Matthew 12:31-32).

I don't see his role as deminished, though perhaps different than what Trinitarians accept.  Don't let a lack of discussion as to who He (the Holy Ghost) is be read as deminishment, rather his roll is more important than an understanding of who he is as a being.

Perhaps the most representative scripture from the LDS perspective of the Godhead would be Matthew 3:16-17

16 And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: 
17 And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. 

All three are present.  Jesus in the water, the Holy Ghost descending as a dove, and the voice of God from the heavens.  All were present at this important juncture.

This next point I only bring up for clarification.  There is no official theology on how our spirits, or that of Christ's were created.  The term "literal children" is used in LDS writing, and those not familiar with our theology have tended to connote that this was accomplished via sexual means.  In fact we don't know, though traditional sexual means are probably not the method.  What we do know is that Christ was the first created in spirit, and thus he is our "older brother".

Saying this, I wish to further comment you on your correctly stating Christ was born to the Virgin Mary. Again, there is no official theology on the how, but we do emphatically believe Mary was a still a virgin at the time of Christ's birth.

Your concert analogy is a very good approximation of the relationship between the kingdoms of heaven.  I could quibble with minor aspects of it, but it clarifies so much for one not of the faith I will leave it as is.

I suppose there are other minor things I could quibble with, and it would be just that, quibbling.  In general you have done an excellent job of summarization and presentation of what is to many very opaque and fundamentally different.  You are to be commended for your article, and as a member of the LDS faith, I thank you for taking the time and effort this obviously took to get accurate.  If the media would do half that, many of the slights and misinformation would vanish from the collective consciousness rather than being needlessly perpetuated.

In summary, thank you.

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