A friend recently asked about whether or not Mormonism makes any headway here in the city of London, I replied in the last two years “I’ve seen more trans-men than more-men.” That being written, people reading from the States and elsewhere probably see their fair share of the tie wearing, bike riding, smile shooting Mormons going about door-to-door. In fact, though my reply from out of sheltered London might be dismissive, many others have felt the full force of the Mormon mission in their own backyard.
They’re not to be underestimated. When measured in the 1980’s the Mormon church had accumulated assets in excess of $2 billion, which isn’t to be snubbed considering in the proceeding decades they were increasing at a yearly rate of 200,000 conversions (consider that in light of Mormonism’s strict rules on tithing). Add to that what was once their formidable birthrate, 28.1 per thousand (compared to the average of 15.9 in the States), and Mormonism should be viewed for what it’s become, a powerful propagandists against its members coming to Christ.
Mormonism, however transparent to you and I, with its seer stones and Jewish native Americans, has a mesmeric power over its membership, a hold which to break may take many people working over several years. Which leads into today’s conversation, as you’re about to read from Chris, who, being a young LDS, is at the age where his temple is sending him out on mission trips to share his testimony (this happens usually in their early twenties or late teens). Chris begins by replying to a video, a video wherein Jeff Durbin, a Christian apologist, quotes Isaiah so to show a Mormon he’s discussing with how God is one, in direct contradiction to Mormon theology. Taking exception, Chris went onto Fair Mormon, an apologetics website for Mormonism, and decided to do a copy and paste to drop below the video. How would you address their article?
Isaiah 44:6 reads:
Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.
Passages such as Isa 44:6,8 and 45:5,21 that read “no God beside me” or a variation of that phrase are traditionally interpreted by mainstream anti-Mormons as meaning that other than Yahweh no form of deity exists at all, including exalted men. This type of interpretation at first seems obvious, but after considering similar passages in other parts of scripture it is clear that this interpretation is incorrect.
For example, Isaiah 47:8-10 depicts the city of Babylon as saying:
Therefore hear now this, thou that art given to pleasures, that dwellest carelessly, that sayest in thine heart, I am, and none else beside me; I shall not sit as a widow, neither shall I know the loss of children: For thou hast trusted in thy wickedness: thou hast said, None seeth me. Thy wisdom and thy knowledge, it hath perverted thee; and thou hast said in thine heart, I am, and none else beside me.
These passages use the exact same phrase as Isa 44 and 45, yet they certainly do not exclude the existence of any city other than Babylon. The city of Ninevah would be very upset if this were the case, as Zephaniah depicts Ninevah in Zephaniah 2:15 as saying:
This is the rejoicing city that dwelt carelessly, that said in her heart, I am, and there is none beside me: how is she become a desolation, a place for beasts to lie down in! every one that passeth by her shall hiss, and wag his hand.
Again it is clear that this phrase does not exclude the very existence of other cities. Using these parallel phrases makes it clear that Isaiah is not excluding the very existence of any other deity when he quotes Yahweh as declaring “there is no God beside me.” There are, in fact, several scriptures in the Old Testament that imply that Yahweh is in fact one of a number of Gods, albeit supreme. Compare the following passages from the KJV, NIV and ESV versions of the Bible:
And the heavens shall praise thy wonders, O Lord: thy faithfulness also in the congregation of the saints. For who in the heaven can be compared unto the Lord? who among the sons of the mighty can be likened unto the Lord? God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be had in reverence of all them that are about him. O Lord God of hosts, who is a strong Lord like unto thee? a or to thy faithfulness round about thee? (KJV Psalms 89:5-8)
The heavens praise your wonders, O LORD, your faithfulness too, in the assembly of the holy ones. For who in the skies above can compare with the LORD? Who is like the LORD among the heavenly beings [fn. Lit “sons of god(s)]? In the council of holy ones God is greatly feared; he is more awesome than all who surround him. O LORD God almighty, who is like you? You are mighty, O LORD, and your faithfulness surrounds you (NIV Psalms 89:5-8).
Among all the gods there is none like unto thee, O Lord; neither are there any works like unto thy works (Psalms 86:8) [This is not being shared in quotes or italics, simply because it’s not a quote, it’s got words from the Bible in it, but it’s not an actual quote (hence no Bible version being used by the original Fair Mormon team)].
God has taken his place in the divine council; in the midst of the gods he holds judgment (ESV Psalms 82:1)God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods. (KJV Psalms 82:1)
These scriptures speak of divine beings, “gods” who are the “sons of god(s)” who are heavenly beings who dwell in the skies. These cannot be idols or false gods. Yahweh dwells among them, reigns over them, and holds judgment in their midst.
Another favorite scripture of the critics of the LDS doctrine of exaltation is Isaiah 43:10. They seem to believe it contradicts this doctrine when it says:
Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me.
Whether this passage is referring to false idols who represent deities that do not exist, or whether it refers to real divine beings who exist alongside and subordinate to Yahweh is not crucial for responding to this particular criticism. The passage specifically says “before” and “after” Yahweh. Since Yahweh has always existed, and since He will always exist no man can ever be exalted “before” or “after” Yahweh. All men who are exalted to godhood will be contemporaries of Yahweh, and will never precede nor follow Yahweh’s existence. They will also become part of the divine council over which he presides.
awesome stuff here Chris.
Thanks Bro. Keep up the good fight.
Hey, Chris. You seem like a nice enough guy, however, I’m of the opinion that the material you’ve shared from Fair Mormon isn’t accurate. You’re a sincere guy, nonetheless, the material you’ve posted for everyone appears to be misrepresenting, misapplying and lifting Scripture out of its proper context. If that’s the case, I’m sure you wouldn’t want to be deceived by it too. I’ll briefly interact with some of the verse quotations you’ve shared. Be patient with me as I try and share these in their fullness. Firstly, you quoted from the book of Psalms:
“God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods.” (KJV Psalms 82:1)
However, when you and I read further, we find “the gods” aren’t gods, they’re the Jewish judges, the unjust judges who will “die like men” according to God. The full chapter reads:
“God presides in the great assembly; he renders judgment among the “gods”: “How long will you defend the unjust and show partiality to the wicked? Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.
“The ‘gods’ know nothing, they understand nothing. They walk about in darkness; all the foundations of the earth are shaken. “I said, ‘You are “gods”; you are all sons of the Most High.’ But you will die like mere mortals; you will fall like every other ruler.” Rise up, O God, judge the earth, for all the nations are your inheritance”
In addition, the material you’ve shared made reference to Psalms chapter 86:8, which read: “Among all the gods there is none like unto thee, O Lord; neither are there any works like unto thy works” My friend, there’s no version online which matches this quote, and it’s not the KJV, ESV or NIV. Please check to back me up on this. From my searches, even the word “all” in the portion which reads “all the gods” isn’t in the translations. It’s as if “all” was added out of nowhere.
NIV: “Among the gods there is none like you, Lord; no deeds can compare with yours.”
ESV: “There is none like you among the gods, O Lord, nor are there any works like yours.”
KJV: “Among the gods there is none like unto thee, O Lord; neither are there any works like unto thy works.”
Adding words which don’t exist in the modern or ancient translations would be extremely dishonest, however, there’s more. The quote you have shared from chapter 86 of Psalms ends by verse 8, yet, if we just read verses 9 and 10 right afterwards, we find the text saying that there’s only ONE God. Quoting from the NIV translation, starting from verse 8 and continuing into verses 9 and 10: “Among the gods there is none like you, Lord; no deeds can compare with yours. All the nations you have made will come and worship before you, Lord; they will bring glory to your name. For you are great and do marvellous deeds; you alone are God.”
“You alone are God.” (Chapter 86), “you [the “gods”] will die like mere mortals.” (Chapter 82). The only Psalm I haven’t addressed would be number 89, which simply doesn’t read in the way many of my Mormon friends would like it to read. Also, someone has inserted “[fn. Lit “sons of god(s)]?” into the NIV translation, yet that’s not how the translation reads online. Jumping from three different (and even one non-existent) translations, as the article does, should warn people how something very suspicious is going on. Jesus in chapter 30 of the gospel of John really clears up any confusion on how to read about “gods” in the book of Psalms:
Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify about me, but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”
Again his Jewish opponents picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?” “We are not stoning you for any good work,” they replied, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.”
Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I have said you are “gods”’? If he called them ‘gods,’ to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be set aside—what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world?
Notice TO WHOM THE WORD OF GOD CAME (meaning judges, prophets and holy men), have been described as gods, that’s to write we’re not reading about actual others gods in the book of Psalms. In fact, Moses in the book of the Exodus was described as being the god of Pharaoh (Exodus 7:12).
With regards to Isaiah, it’s not safe to conclude that because sinful cities in their attitude believed they were special that God also didn’t mean Their word when They taught “Is there any God besides me? No, there is no other Rock; I know not one.” (God’s omniscient too, so He knows everybody!) To think because sinful Babylon was in error, therefore sinless God didn’t mean what He was saying, that’s not a safe judgement. God’s word isn’t unclear on the subject, He’s created everything:
“The Son is the image of the invisible God, the preeminent over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.
He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.”
“Who has performed and accomplished it, Calling forth the generations from the beginning? ‘I, the LORD, am the first, and with the last. I am He.'”
“Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: ‘I am the first and I am the last, And there is no God besides Me.
“Listen to Me, O Jacob, even Israel whom I called; I am He, I am the first, I am also the last.”
“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, who is and was and is to come–the Almighty.”
“When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man. But He placed His right hand on me and said, “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last,”
“To the angel of the church in Smyrna write: These are the words of the First and the Last, who died and returned to life.”
“To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Originator of God’s creation.”
“And He told me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give freely from the spring of the water of life.”
Towards the end of the article there’s the claim that “Since Yahweh has always existed”, however, that’s not true in LDS theology, and of course, if ever my message misrepresents what’s historically been considered the teachings of the Mormon church, please explain why that’s so. I welcome that. Nevertheless, in Mormon theology God wasn’t always God, they were a man, a man who by following pre-existent laws became god, they had to be exulted into godhood.
That’s not a forever god, not unless the LDS church believe in a tenseless theory of time (AKA the B-theory of time), which appears to me to be baseless in light of temporal becoming. In fact, if the B-theory of time were accurate, and if for everyone in the 1950’s it was the 1950’s right now, whereas for everyone in the year 2017 in was in fact 2017, then yes, god would always be god, and yet, god would always not be god! He’d be a man in the years he was a man forever, and he’d be a god in the years in which he was made into a god. It’s like living in a snow globe, trapped forever.
I really appreciate it if you’ve stayed with my message all the way through, Chris. I’d also prefer to make clear that I’m not anti-Mormon, nor am I anti-Jehovah witness (you can find my reply to Jeny Elia above). In fact, the Mormon’s seem to be lovely people. Yet, when it comes to you and I fighting the good fight, it has to be fought with truth, God bless you.
We’re going to read a lot more from Fair Mormon as our exchange continues, before that though, Jim, a body building, martial arts enthusiast is going to try and judo throw me out of the comments section before I’ve had an opportunity to share Christ. Is he going to succeed? (Spoilers: no!) Until next time, hiya!
― T. C. M