Tag Archives: Godhead

Little Known Propaganda: 12 – Personal Relationship With Jesus

8 Feb

This is my continuing responses to the list of “little known facts” referenced at the blog Sound Doctrine. On this blog the author presents the list along with responses to each from a F.A.I.R. Mormon scholar, known only as CleanCut. In addition the author of this blog, known as Damon, gives a response to CleanCut. As I said in my introduction blog, I am writing a response to each fact in a lengthy series. I will not, however, comment on what CleanCut or Damon said.

See also Fact #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7, #8, #9, #10, #11

FACT #12. Mormon Apostle Bruce R. McConkie has warned his people against a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus.

McConkie made these shocking statements at a speech given at BYU:

“… gaining a special, personal relationship with Christ that is both improper and perilous. . . . Now, I know that some may be offended at the counsel that they should not strive for a special and personal relationship with Christ. . . .But you have been warned, and you have heard the true doctrine taught.” (Church News, week ending March 20, 1982, p. 5)

In opposition to this, Jesus gives us a personal invitation:

“Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)

 

I have read the talk that is being quoted here, and I will agree that this is likely unknown to the vast majority of the world. I think the best way to address this is to simply let Elder McConkie explain himself. So, we will first see the quote in its context. After all, the quote given is actually taken from three different parts of the talk, and are separated by a great deal of further explanation.

 

“There are yet others who have an excessive zeal which causes them to go beyond the mark. Their desire for excellence is inordinate. In an effort to be truer than true they devote themselves to gaining a special, personal relationship with Christ that is both improper and perilous.”

So, Elder McConkie is, first of all, speaking of an over the top Zeal that is truly fanaticism, which is never healthy.

“I say perilous because this course, particularly in the lives of some who are spiritually immature, is a gospel hobby which creates an unwholesome holier-than-thou attitude. In other instances it leads to despondency because the seeker after perfection knows he is not living the way he supposes he should.

“Another peril is that those so involved often begin to pray directly to Christ because of some special friendship they feel has been developed…”

Here we are told why it is perilous. It causes arrogance and pride in those who seek it, or such depression that it hinders their functioning. The Bible tells us that “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16: 18) Is it any wonder that we are warned against such actions?

Please note that we have not even touched on the second part of the quote given, and we have gone through three paragraphs. We now skip down four more paragraphs before we get to the second part of the quote.

“Now I know that some may be offended at the counsel that they should not strive for a special and personal relationship with Christ. It will seem to them as though I am speaking out against mother love, or Americanism, or the little red schoolhouse. But I am not. There is a fine line here over which true worshipers will not step.”

So, again, we have Elder McConkie speaking against an improper relationship. There is a proper, personal relationship we can have with Christ, but once we step over that line to seek an improper relationship, that is when we are in danger.

“It is true that there may, with propriety, be a special relationship with a wife, with children, with friends, with teachers, with the beasts of the field and the fowls of the sky and the lilies of the valley. But the very moment anyone singles out one member of the Godhead as the almost sole recipient of his devotion, to the exclusion of the others, that is the moment when spiritual instability begins to replace sense and reason.”

And here we get the full point of all of this. The personal relationship with Christ becomes improper when we seek that over the other members of the Godhead. When our devotion to Christ overshadows our devotion, veneration, and worship of the Father we have stepped over the line and are in peril.

Then, jumping down four more paragraphs, Elder McConkie tells us this.

“Those who truly love the Lord and who worship the Father in the name of the Son by the power of the Spirit, according to the approved patterns, maintain a reverential barrier between themselves and all the members of the Godhead.”

When we try to remove the reverence between us and God in a desire for a personal relationship with Christ we dishonor the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. When we maintain that reverential barrier we strengthen ourselves spiritually.

 

I think this is sufficient to show the true intent of Elder McConkie’s words. He is not saying we shouldn’t have a relationship with Christ, even a personal one. He is saying that we should not have an improper relationship that removes the reverential respect and excludes the rest of the Godhead from our devotions. I honestly don’t see how any Christian could even disagree with this, let alone complain about it.

 

On a final note, none of this contradicts anything in the Bible. The specific quote given tells us to come to Christ, which we should do; but we should do so with reverential respect, never forgetting that He is the Son, not the Father.

 

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Little Known Propaganda: 5 – God man and man God

1 Feb

This is my continuing responses to the list of “little known facts” referenced at the blog Sound Doctrine. On this blog the author presents the list along with responses to each from a F.A.I.R. Mormon scholar, known only as CleanCut. In addition the author of this blog, known as Damon, gives a response to CleanCut. As I said in my introduction blog, I am writing a response to each fact in a lengthy series. I will not, however, comment on what CleanCut or Damon said.

See also Fact #1, #2, #3, #4

 

FACT #5. Mormonism continues to teach that God the Father is a glorified, resurrected Man, and men and women may become Gods and Goddesses.

Apostle Bruce R. McConkie makes this claim: “God himself, the Father of us all, is a glorified, exalted, immortal, resurrected Man!” (Mormon Doctrine, p. 643[pg 229 in the pdf link, halfway down the second column)

Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, taught: “…you have got to learn how to be Gods yourselves…the same as all Gods have done before you,…” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 346 [pg 346 on pdf link)

The Lord Himself answers this teaching by pronouncing: “… I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.” (Isaiah 44:6)

 

There are a few things to understand about LDS doctrine regarding this.

First, one must understand that the LDS use the word God in three different ways.

  1. The supreme authority that we worship; a title used only in reference to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
  2. Any being that lives in an exalted state, possessing all good attributes in their fullest and most perfect sense.
  3. The entities that false religions worship as gods are called gods, but do not fall into either of the first two definitions.

 

So, while we believe we have the potential to become gods, we mean this with reference to the second definition. We believe that we can possess all the same power and attributes that our Heavenly Father possesses. Thus we will gain the power to create; we will gain the power to have spirit children and have them progress through mortality to exaltation; we will have all knowledge and power that is possible to have.

However, what we will never have is the authority to rule in heaven, and thus we will never be a God in reference to the first definition. That distinction belongs only to the three members of the Godhead.

There are a number of Biblical verses that we believe support this doctrine.

Gen. 3:2, Ps. 82:6, Matt. 5:48, John 10:34, Acts 17:29, Rom. 8:17, 2 Cor. 3:18, Gal. 4:7, Eph. 4:13, 1 Jn. 3:2, Rev. 3:21

This is not a comprehensive list, but the ones that are clearer and together they illustrate the point.

 

As to God being an exalted man, that is also in the Bible, but let us just consider what the doctrine actually says.

First, as it says in Acts 17: 29, we are the offspring of God. We are not merely something he decided to create one day. We are his literal children, sons and daughters of God, and (as Paul says in Galatians 4: 7) if we are sons and daughters then we are heirs of God. An heir inherits what his Father has, and, in this case, that is perfection and exaltation.

When we understand our relationship with Heavenly Father then it becomes a simple matter to see the nature of God. As we are his children, and the scriptures say that all things reproduce after their own kind (Genesis 1), then it becomes simple reason to believe that God is also a man, as we would be after His kind.

 

Now, this is not to say that we are the same as God. After all, you would not say that a baby is the same as a fully grown man. The difference in ability, knowledge, and intelligence that is apparent between a baby and their father is comparable to the difference between us and God. Just as a baby must grow through experience and life to become an adult like their father, so to must we grow through experience and life to become a god like our Heavenly Father. And, just as no child can replace their father, we cannot replace God. Actually, a son can become a father, which then elevates his father to a grandfather, thus bringing greater glory to him. The same is true of us and God; when we become gods we only bring greater glory to our Heavenly Father.

 

Christ said in John 5: 19 “Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.”

If Jesus could only do what the Father had done before him, then it follows that the Father was born into a mortal world, just as the Son was. It is also logical that the Father was the savior of that world, just as Christ was the savior of ours. This is taught by Joseph Smith in the same sermon that the author cites above. Joseph Smith taught “The scriptures inform us that Jesus said, as the Father hath power in himself, even so hath the Son power—to do what? Why, what the Father did. The answer is obvious—in a manner to lay down his body and take it up again. Jesus, what are you going to do? To lay down my life as my Father did, and take it up again.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pg. 346 on pdf link)

 

In all honesty, no one in the church really understands what happened before this earth. The full truth has not been revealed, and so we generally don’t talk about it much. God was once a man, just as we are. That is about the extent of the doctrine.

 

As to the verse from Isaiah, I wrote a post about the “First and the Last” some time ago which explains this verse.

The Revelation of John: Chapter 14 – Two Harvests

6 Oct

I am continuing on with Revelation. In this series I have been comparing John’s vision with books with similar prophecies, such as Daniel, as well as section 77 of the Doctrine and Covenants, which gives interpretations to a selected portion of the images of the Revelation. I also rely heavily on the Joseph Smith Translation (JST – given in red).

See also chapter one,  two, three, four, five, first five seals, Sixth Seal I, Sixth Seal II, Seventh Seal Opens, First Four Trumpets, Fifth Trumpet, Sixth Trumpet, Ten, Witnesses, Seventh Trumpet, Twelve I, Twelve II, The Beast, The Mark, Three Angels

Revelation 14: 14-20

In this last half of the fourteen chapter we read of a very interesting event. I say this because it parallels other passages in the scriptures that also speak of the last day. But, before we look at these other passages, let us look at Revelation.

Verse 14

At this time John saw upon a white cloud “one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle.” This is Christ, sitting on his throne in heaven. The sickle was tool for harvesting grain, and thus we see Christ ready to harvest the world.

Verses 15-16

An “angel came out of the temple, crying…Thrust in thy sickle, and reap…for…earth is ripe. And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle…and the earth was reaped.”

This angel comes from out of the Temple; or, in other words, is sent by God the Father. Also, without hesitation, Christ reaps, or harvests the earth. At this time we are not told what, or who is being reaped, only that Christ is the one reaping.

Verse 17

An “angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle.”

Again, this angel is sent from God, but he comes with his own sickle prepared to reap.

Verse 18

An “angel came out from the altar…and cried…Thrust in thy sharp sickle…for her grapes are fully ripe.”

Note here that the angel comes from the altar. This is significant. He is still sent from God, but comes from an area that is open to the general members. In the modern day it would be like the first two coming from the temple while the third comes from the chapel (or church headquarters).

Verses 19-20

“And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth…and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. And the winepress was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs.”

This is the wicked, as they suffer the wrath of God. Notice that this happens outside the city of God, not just outside the temple. Also, the blood represents the suffering of these people. A horse’s bridle is usually about six feet up, and a furlong is 660 feet. So, the blood will be six feet deep for 200 miles. This is some suffering.

Now, if this second harvest is the wicked, than can we not conclude that the first harvest is the righteous?

 

These harvests occur at the end of the world, for that is the period of time that John is now seeing. So, let us look at a few other passages that seem to parallel John’s vision.

 

Matthew 13: 24-30, 36-43

In the parable of the Wheat and Tares we read how the world was sown with good seed by God, than the devil came and sowed tares. At the end of the world there would be a harvest. In explaining the meaning of this parable Jesus said

“For in that day, before the Son of man shall come, he shall send forth his angels…And they shall gather out of his kingdom all…them which do iniquity, and shall cast them out…For the world shall be burned with fire.” (verses 41-43)

Remember that the wheat is gathered first (verse 30, JST footnote a). Again we see two harvests; the first is the righteous which is done by Christ, and the second the wicked who are destroyed by angels.

 

D&C 86: 1-7

This also speaks to the parable of the Wheat and the Tares, but gives a more definite explanation. It also speaks of two harvests, but it states that the field, or the earth, will be burnt, not just the tares. Thus we see that this second harvest is a time of cleansing for the earth.

 

D&C 88: 95-102

This is the passage that I was reminded of first while reading in revelation. I have quoted portions of it in my analysis of the first half of chapter fourteen, and here again we see parallel passages. We see in this passage a literal rendering of the two harvests, heralded by four angels.

The first angel heralds Christ’s return, at which time all those who have inherited a Celestial glory are caught up to him (verses 95-98). The second angel heralds the rising of those who inherit Terrestrial glory (verse 99). And thus we see the end of the first harvest.

The third angel declares the judgments against the wicked, who inherit the telestial, who do not live again until the end of the world, but are cast out, as it says in Matthew 13: 42 (verses 100-101). The fourth declares that among the wicked are the Sons of Perdition (verse 102). And thus we have the end of the second harvest.

 

As all these passages testify, there shall be a time of gathering, when the righteous will be gathered out of the wicked and preserved by God. There will then be a time of cleansing, when the wicked are destroyed and the earth is cleansed with fire, which will burn away all the filth of the wicked.

The first gathering has already begun (see Doctrine and Covenants 33), but it will be completed in an awesome and dramatic way when Christ returns. The second awaits the completion of the first, but will be no less awesome of dramatic.

 

I love it when scriptures come together so beautifully in a unified message. To me this is confirmation that all these scriptures were inspired by God.

Response to CARM: Difficult questions, part 11

5 Sep

I have recently been pointed to a website called Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry as an excellent location to learn LDS doctrine. On this website they have many pages dedicated to what they call exposing the truth of Mormonism. Most of what they present is well thought out, and they use many quotes and documents to support it. When they are simply giving a list of quotes they don’t do too bad. When they try to interpret those quotes and explain doctrine they fail almost completely. So I am starting a new series in which I will address a selection of pages from that website.

This next page is titled “Difficult Questions For Mormons to Answer.” It is a series of questions that are supposed to stump members of the LDS church. There are 32 questions total. Most are followed by a few quotes that try to establish the subject in question. The first part of my response will be a comment on the quotes given, and this will be in green.

 

Q. If Mormons can become gods why does Isaiah 43: 10 say, “You are My witnesses,” declares the LORD, “And My servant whom I have chosen, So that you may know and believe Me And understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, And there will be none after Me.”

A. No quotes are given. While I prefer the KJV I see no need to give it here as it will not affect my answer.

This verse must be considered in proper perspective. God, as a title for the Supreme Being, is applied only to the Father. For us there is no other God. There was never one before Him, nor will there be after. We have but one, and always will. But this does not mean that others do not exist in a state of godhood, or Celestial perfection.

It is just like our earthly fathers. I have only one Father. I never had any other, and I never will have any other. So, before my father there was no father for me, and there will be no father for me after him. That does not preclude others from having their own fathers.

See my post regarding the Godhead for more information.

Q. Why do Mormons emphasize part of the Word of Wisdom and ignore the part forbidding the eating of meat except in winter, cold or famine? (Doc. & Cov. 89:12, 13).

A. No quote is given.

I like my mother’s answer to this question. It is always winter in my fridge.

People who ask questions like this are trying to “make a man an offender for a word” as they demand the letter of the law as the Pharisees did. Yet, they do not understand the spirit by which the law was given.

The Word of Wisdom is, first and foremost, a health code. The spirit of that law is to live well and eat healthily. When the revelation was given they did not have refrigeration. Meat putrefies very quickly when not frozen. So, in the 1830’s people were counseled by God not to eat meat except in dire need (famine) or when it could be effectively preserved (winter). In our day we have refrigeration and meat can be preserved very effectively for extended periods of time, even in the heat of summer. As such, in keeping with the Spirit of the law, we eat meat only in dire need (famine) or when it can be effectively preserved (refrigerated).

*This question is answered in the response be S.H.I.E.L.D.S. I will address that in a later post, so keep an eye out for it.

Response to CARM: Difficult questions, part 8

4 Sep

I have recently been pointed to a website called Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry as an excellent location to learn LDS doctrine. On this website they have many pages dedicated to what they call exposing the truth of Mormonism. Most of what they present is well thought out, and they use many quotes and documents to support it. When they are simply giving a list of quotes they don’t do too bad. When they try to interpret those quotes and explain doctrine they fail almost completely. So I am starting a new series in which I will address a selection of pages from that website.

This next page is titled “Difficult Questions For Mormons to Answer.” It is a series of questions that are supposed to stump members of the LDS church. There are 32 questions total. Most are followed by a few quotes that try to establish the subject in question. The first part of my response will be a comment on the quotes given, and this will be in green.

Now, since there are so many questions and responding to all of them will take a long time, I will be dividing this into many separate posts, each answering 1-3 questions.

 

Q. Brigham Young, the second prophet of the Mormon Church, said that the birth of Jesus was “the result of natural action,” (Journal of discourses, volume 8, page 115 – given on July 8, 1860). He also said, “When the time came that His first-born, the Saviour, should come into the world and take a tabernacle, the Father came Himself and favoured that spirit with a tabernacle instead of letting any other man do it,” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 4, p. 218 – given on February 8, 1857). In light of this, how was Jesus born of the Virgin Mary?

A. No quote is given, except that which is in the question. However, I think a refresher of Isaiah 7: 14 is called for.

Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

Mary was a virgin until she conceived, and that is all the prophecy says. A virgin conceived and brought forth a son. It does not say she remained a virgin, but that a virgin would be chosen as the mother of God. If you read in 1 Nephi 11 it shows that she was a virgin until the Holy Ghost rested on her.

*This question is answered in the response be S.H.I.E.L.D.S. I will address that in a later post, so keep an eye out for it.

Q. In light of the previous question and Mormon doctrine saying that we are all literally the children of God, then wasn’t Brigham Young teaching that God had relations with his spirit daughter?

A. No quotes are given.

This is a difficult question to answer, and I am not going to try. The answer is something that is only for those who can learn it for themselves. It is a mystery of eternity, and it will remain such for all except those to whom God reveals the truth.

Q. According to Mormonism, Jesus was the one being married to Mary and Martha at the wedding of Cana in John 2. If this is so, then why was Jesus invited to his own wedding? Also, why was it not a temple marriage?

A. No quote is given.

Actually, the idea of Jesus marrying Mary and Martha at that wedding was the opinion of one man. That man was Orson Hyde, and his opinion is recorded in the Journal of Discourses, volume 2,  page 281. This discourse was delivered on October 6th, 1854. Now, there is some evidence that Joseph F. Smith later agreed with brother Hyde, but I have not been able to verify this. It is also true that many seem to have believed that Jesus was married to Mary and Martha. However, the question is addressing the wedding in Cana that is described in the second chapter of John, and so merely believing them married has no bearing on the issue.

Even if it is true the wording of the scripture does not necessitate Jesus being a guest. If it was an arranged marriage he would have been called to it, as the scriptures say (John 2: 2).

Lastly, at the time of this wedding there was no one on the earth who held the keys of sealing, and so what we refer to today as a temple marriage would not have been possible. These keys were restored by Elijah on the Mt. of Transfiguration (Matthew 17).

Response to CARM: Difficult questions, part 7

3 Sep

I have recently been pointed to a website called Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry as an excellent location to learn LDS doctrine. On this website they have many pages dedicated to what they call exposing the truth of Mormonism. Most of what they present is well thought out, and they use many quotes and documents to support it. When they are simply giving a list of quotes they don’t do too bad. When they try to interpret those quotes and explain doctrine they fail almost completely. So I am starting a new series in which I will address a selection of pages from that website.

This next page is titled “Difficult Questions For Mormons to Answer.” It is a series of questions that are supposed to stump members of the LDS church. There are 32 questions total. Most are followed by a few quotes that try to establish the subject in question. The first part of my response will be a comment on the quotes given, and this will be in green.

Now, since there are so many questions and responding to all of them will take a long time, I will be dividing this into many separate posts, each answering 1-3 questions.

 

Q. How did Joseph Smith carry home the Golden plates when the weight of the plates, if they had been pure gold, would have been over 200 pounds and no supernatural help was ever said to be involved?

A. The author gives no quotes, but he does explain that some theorize that the plates could have weighed as little as 50 pounds. He leaves the question as it is however.

Now, I personally think that they weighed about 50 pounds. Then I consider the many stories of Joseph Smith’s physical strength; that he could stick pull grown men as a young man, or two men when he was an adult. Then I think of the 75 pound packs that modern soldiers are frequently required to carry for many miles, even at a run. My dad did this in the army. So, when people question that a strong, grown man can carry 50 pounds over a few miles, and even engage in a number of altercations while doing it, I think they are simply underestimating the abilities that God has granted the human race.

*This question is answered in the response be S.H.I.E.L.D.S. I will address that in a later post, so keep an eye out for it.

 

Q. In Mormonism, the father is called Elohim and Jesus is called Jehovah. But in 1 Kings 8:60 it says that “The Lord is God.” Literally in the Hebrew, it is “Jehovah is Elohim.” How do you explain this passage that says Jehovah is Elohim?

A. No quotes are given.

First of all this question assumes that Jehovah is never referred to as God in the Old Testament, and that is not the case. On many occasions Jehovah is called God in the Old Testament. (Genesis 2: 4; Genesis 28: 13, 1 Samuel 2: 30, 2 Kings 9: 6, pretty much whenever you see LORD God the scriptures are using the word Elohim to refer to Christ).

The question also assumes that the word Elohim is always used to refer to the Father. This is also not the case. Take for instance Psalms 82: 6, in which the term is simply translated as gods (or angels in some translations).

So, when we realize that Elohim, while it can be a name, or title for the Father, can also be used in its literal meaning of gods, we can start to see the meaning of 1 Kings 8: 60 and other such passages. Jesus is God, or a member of the Godhead, which can also be referred to as Elohim (meaning gods). So, this verse is affirming both Christ’s Godhead as well as his unique roll as Jehovah.

 

Q. In Mormonism, God and his wife are exalted beings from another world. We know that life forms from another planet are called aliens. Therefore, isn’t it true that Mormons worship an alien from another world who they call their god?

A. No quote is given.

This is a question that is hard to take seriously. Actually, it is impossible. It is a play on words that attempts to twist our doctrine and mock our faith and is hardly worth a response.

My first thought was “We know that life from other countries are called aliens, so isn’t the author worshiping an alien (as Jesus lived in Israel)?” Of course that sounds just as absurd as the author’s question.

So, if one wants to play with the English language to convey a meaning and connotation that was never intended than one could say God is an alien. Of course, if you are going to take the doctrine all the way we are colonizers from a different planet, and thus we are all technically aliens colonizing a foreign world.

However, if you are actually going to listen to the doctrine without the mockery than the question would never have been asked; at least not seriously.

Response to CARM: Difficult questions, part 6

2 Sep

I have recently been pointed to a website called Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry as an excellent location to learn LDS doctrine. On this website they have many pages dedicated to what they call exposing the truth of Mormonism. Most of what they present is well thought out, and they use many quotes and documents to support it. When they are simply giving a list of quotes they don’t do too bad. When they try to interpret those quotes and explain doctrine they fail almost completely. So I am starting a new series in which I will address a selection of pages from that website.

This next page is titled “Difficult Questions For Mormons to Answer.” It is a series of questions that are supposed to stump members of the LDS church. There are 32 questions total. Most are followed by a few quotes that try to establish the subject in question. The first part of my response will be a comment on the quotes given, and this will be in green.

Now, since there are so many questions and responding to all of them will take a long time, I will be dividing this into many separate posts, each answering 1-3 questions.

 

Q. If Elohim, which is God the Father in Mormonism, was a man, then he changed from being a man-to-man God. How is this possible when the Bible says in Psalm 90:2, that God is God from everlasting to everlasting?

A. No Quotes are given.

Doctrine and Covenants 132: 20 Then shall they be gods, because they have no end; therefore shall they be from everlasting to everlasting, because they continue; then shall they be above all, because all things are subject to them. Then shall they be gods, because they have all power, and the angels are subject to them.”

We too will be from everlasting to everlasting if we attain to the state of godhood. Everlasting here is describing a period of time within eternity; that is the period between one physical creation and the next. So, from one period, or one everlasting, to the next God is God. He continues, remaining the same God from one creation to the next, or from one eternal generation to the next.

This was answered by Bruce R. McConkie in his work “Mormon Doctrine.” You will find it on page 175, under the heading of “eternity to eternity”

 

Q. Joseph Smith said that he saw God the Father (and Jesus) in the first vision in 1820. Smith said that he received the priesthood in 1829. In the Doctrine and Covenants 84: 21-22, Smith said that you cannot see the face of God and live without the authority of the priesthood. How did Joseph Smith see God when he didn’t have the priesthood?

A. The author gives the verses in D&C, which I give here also.

And without the ordinances thereof, and the authority of the priesthood, the power of godliness is not manifest unto men in the flesh; For without this no man can see the face of God, even the Father, and live.”

Notice that it does not say that one has to hold the priesthood to see God, only that the Priesthood must be present. This is explained in clearer detail in D&C 67: 11-12.

For no man has seen God at any time in the flesh, except quickened by the Spirit of God. Neither can any natural man abide the presence of God, neither after the carnal mind.”

Thus we see that the power of the Priesthood, which is the power of God, must be present for the Spirit of God to quicken a person, but that person does not have to hold the priesthood personally. Even in section 84 it states that Moses tried to prepare the Israelites to see God. That would have included the women, who did not hold the priesthood.

Also note that the context of this verse is the knowledge of God (verse 20) and the Mysteries of the Kingdom (verse 19). In verse 21 it says that the power of God is manifest in the priesthood. All this would suggest that what is being spoken of is the full truth and understanding of God and the Celestial word, which can be had only through the Melchizedek Priesthood.

Joseph Smith saw God because God brought the priesthood, as it is the power of God on Earth, and while that power was present the Spirit of God quickened Joseph Smith. However, until he received the priesthood for himself and partook of the ordinances the mysteries of the Kingdom and the Knowledge of God were not available to him.

 

Q. Joseph Smith said that he saw God the Father (and Jesus) in the first vision in 1820. But the Bible says that the Father cannot be seen (1 Timothy 6: 16). So which account is not true?

A. The author quotes the verse in Timothy, as well as John 6: 46. As the author does not use the KJV, I will give that version here.

1 Tim. 6:13-16, “Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen.”

John 6:46, “Not that any man hath seen the Father, Save he which is of God; he hath seen the Father.”

The Timothy verse is speaking of the light of Christ. It is cross referenced with D&C 88: 12 that tells us “Which light proceedeth forth from the presence of God to fill the immensity of space.” The section continues to describe this light, but this is sufficient. We then read in D&C 130: 7 that angels “…reside in the presence of God…where all things for their glory are manifest, past, present, and future, and are continually before the Lord.” So, what Paul is saying no man can see is God in his glory in the Celestial World. This is his full glory, and can be viewed only by others who reside in the Celestial World.

The verse in John, as rendered in the KJV, says that “he which is of God” has seen him. Now, I realize that the translation the author uses says that “the One which is from God” has seen him, but I prefer the KJV. Many men are of God, having been purified by the blood of Christ and cleansed from their sins. So, anyone who is worthy to be called a saint may see God.