Catholic deification.


#1

Hello. I have been fascinated while reading about the Catholic tradition of deification recently. Could someone explain their understanding of this Catholic doctrine and how it differs from Mormon theology?

Thank you =)


#2

I am uncertain of this tradition. could you elaborate further?

are you saying the old “catholics worship Mary” misconception? Or are you refering to our naming saints?

We Catholics only believe in one God. No one can become a god. Nor can we make anyone a god. there is only one.


#3

Hi Sue. Thanks for your reply. I can direct you to some of the links I have been reading. I know that everything you read on the internet doesn’t necessarily represent what any person or group officially believes so I thought I would come here. I would like to know how you interpret this tradition and whether you believe it.

Thanks for you time.

Catholic Theosis

A catholics personal take on deification


#4

Welcome to the forum, James. :slight_smile:

Divinization, or theosis, is the process of growing into our identity in Christ bestowed upon us in Baptism. We do not remain mere creatures; in Baptism we are elevated by grace to the status of sons and daughters. hrough baptism into Christ there is an ontological change in our identity. It doesn’t prepare us (contra Mormonism) to become gods in our own right, but to participate by grace in the life of the Most Holy Trinity, to prepare us to enter into the Beatific Vision.

The temptation of Adam and Eve’s was to “become gods” without conformity to God; that has been turned on its head in Christ Who now offers us, through our obedience, not to become “gods” on our own, but to participate in His own Divine Nature that IS His has by Nature. He invites us to participate in that Nature by grace; Hewants us to be even more closely united to Him than as Creator and creature. He wants to relate to us as Father to child. The possibility for this deeper relationship is founded first in the creation of the first Man and Woman who walked in friendship with God, but then lost all that would have been theirs through that sin of disobedience; the second, New and ultimate foundation now is the re-creation of Man in the Life, Death and Resurrection of His Incarnate Son, Jesus Christ.

Just looking briefly at the Lord’s words to Saul, we see Him saying, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute ME?” Such is His identity with those incorporated into Him. It’s important to have a deep sense of Christ’s indwelling in His Body, the Church, and in each member of that Body.

This is what the Fathers of the Church and the Saints who have written on the spiritual life have recognized , and why their (and the Catechism’s -see below) right understanding of the use of “gods” as an appellation for those in Christ is a deeply God-centered one. Two works (both of them two-part editions) that would help you on this teaching are Fr. John G. Arintero, O.P.'s, The Mystical Evolution in the Development and Vitality of the Church, and Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange’s Three Ages of the Spiritual Life.

“Divinization” expresses the absolute transformation of oneself through the soul’s participation in God’s Divine Nature. This is not something we of ourselves have, but can only receive by grace initiated in Baptism and grown through fidelity to the sacramental life of the Church. We have become, as St. Peter writes, “partakers of the divine nature;” we become truly united by grace to the Divine Life which the Divine Persons alone have by their Nature.

From the Catechism:

1726 The Beatitudes teach us the final end to which God calls us: the Kingdom, the vision of God, participation in the divine nature, eternal life, filiation, rest in God.

1812 The human virtues are rooted in the theological virtues, which adapt man’s faculties for participation in the divine nature: for the theological virtues relate directly to God. They dispose Christians to live in a relationship with the Holy Trinity. They have the One and Triune God for their origin, motive, and object

1988 Through the power of the Holy Spirit we take part in Christ’s Passion by dying to sin, and in his Resurrection by being born to a new life; we are members of his Body which is the Church, branches grafted onto the vine which is himself: [God] gave himself to us through his Spirit. By the participation of the Spirit, we become communicants in the divine nature. . . . For this reason, those in whom the Spirit dwells are divinized.

continued. . .


#5

St. John of the Cross, Doctor of the Church, writes beautifully on this doctrine in his work The Spiritual Canticle:

“. . .the Bridegroom [Christ] communicates Himself to the soul by means of the adornment of these virtues, He feeds on the soul, transforming her into Himself, now that she is prepared and seasoned with the flowers of virtues, gifts, and perfections, the seasonings with which, and among which, He feeds on her. By means of the Holy Spirit, who prepares the dwelling, these virtues delight the Son of God so that through them He may feed more on the love of the soul. This is the characteristic of the Bridegroom: to unite Himself with the soul amid the fragrance of these flowers.” Stanza 17, #10.

"Turn Your face toward the mountains. . .The face of God is the divinity, and the mountains are the soul’s faculties (memory, intellect, and will). This verse is like saying: Let Your divinity shine on my intellect by giving it divine knowledge, and on my will by imparting to it divine love, and on my memory with the divine possession of glory.

“The soul asks in this line for everything she possibly can ask of Him. She is no longer satisfied with the knowledge and communication of the “back” of God - which was His communication to Moses [Ex. 33:23] - and which is knowledge of Him in His effects and works; she can only be satisfied with God’s face, which is an essential communication of the divinity of the soul. This communication is not brought about through any means, but through a certain contact of the soul with the divinity. This contact is something foreign to everything sensory and accidental, since it is a touch of naked substances - of the soul and the divinity.” Stanza 19, #4

“. . .Beloved, first turn to the interior of my soul, and be enamored of the company - the riches - You have placed there, so that loving the soul through them You may dwell and hide in her. For, indeed, even though they are Yours, since You gave them to her, they also belong to her.” Stanza 19, #6


#6

Frances - thank you for your reply. I feel what you described is pretty much what I understand the Catholic doctrine of deification or divinisation to be. Some of your vocabulary is foreign to me so I’d like to restate what I understood you to mean. If I understood you correctly, simply put deification describes the process whereby Christians partake of Christ’s grace and become not only rescued from sin and hell but actually become something more than they ever were before or could have been alone. They are not just perfect humans but they are changed fundmentally in to new beings, holy beings - not only creatures or creations but children of a Father and joint heirs to a throne. They become godly - not God - but they take on some of the divine attributes of Christ and through Christ, of God the Father. Did I understand you correctly?

I’m curious then how, as far as you understand it, this view differs from what Mormon scripture says about deification or, as we call it, exaltation. You seemed to allude to what you feel is a big difference between the Catholic teaching and that of my church when you said

We do not remain mere creatures; in Baptism we are elevated by grace to the status of sons and daughters. through baptism into Christ there is an ontological change in our identity. It doesn’t prepare us (contra Mormonism) to become gods in our own right, but to participate by grace in the life of the Most Holy Trinity, to prepare us to enter into the Beatific Vision.

Do I take it to mean that you feel the Mormon doctrine of divinisation differs from the truth in that Mormon’s believe that they can become gods independant of Christ and God the Father?

Thanks again for your input on this sensitive and interesting topic.

James


#7

I think you’ve summed it up well, James. As for vocabulary, the Catholic online Encyclopedia may be helpful to you in understanding such things as (perhaps?) the Beatific Vision:

newadvent.org/cathen/index.html

I’m curious then how, as far as you understand it, this view differs from what Mormon scripture says about deification or, as we call it, exaltation. You seemed to allude to what you feel is a big difference between the Catholic teaching and that of my church when you said

[quote]We do not remain mere creatures; in Baptism we are elevated by grace to the status of sons and daughters. through baptism into Christ there is an ontological change in our identity. It doesn’t prepare us (contra Mormonism) to become gods in our own right

, but to participate by grace in the life of the Most Holy Trinity, to prepare us to enter into the Beatific Vision.

Do I take it to mean that you feel the Mormon doctrine of divinisation differs from the truth in that Mormon’s believe that they can become gods independant of Christ and God the Father?
[/quote]

I think our differences regarding deification arise from our differences vis-a-vis the nature of God, James. If one understands Him to be one of a long line of gods - but who just happens to be the particular god that one worships (who fathered us with a divine mother before our being born to earthly parents), then deification will be to join in one’s turn at godhood as the god one worships moves on to greater exaltation. For Catholics, though - and all orthodox Christians - God is the One Infinite, Uncreated, Immutable Being Who out of His Love creates, and highest of that Creation is Man Who, by God’s grace, may be elevated to the status of sons and daughters of God.

It seems that for LDS God has power; but for Catholics (and Orthodox, Protestants, and Jews) God is power. IOW, all Divine attributes (e.g., to name a few: omniscience, transcendence, ominipresence, infinity, justice, omnipotence) are One in the simplicity of the One Being Who is Pure Spirit.

This imperfect example from the natural world comes to mind: Geologists tell us that the Hawaiian Islands are formed by the shifting of the tectonic plates under the ocean; the sub-oceanic volcanic activity of the area stays pretty much in place while the ocean floor shifts over the lava streams that erupt above the surface. So the islands are developed as the ocean floor slowly moves over those areas of eruption. For LDS, then, using this analogy, the gods would be the islands; for Catholics God would be the lava flow, for God’s power is not something outside Himself that He taps into.

For the Catholic, God is Perfect (He is Perfection Himself) and Unique; since He is Perfection there is, then, perforce, nothing of His Nature that could at some point not have been perfect; thus matter, which is something that is subject to change, could not be part of His Perfect Nature.

Now humans may share in His perfection by the grace won for us in Christ - thus deification. What we can never be is what God is in Himself. By His grace He allows us to participate in the perfection of His Divinity, but it is never ours on our own since we are creatures, creatures who change and require matter for our existence; God, otoh, does not have this requirement for His own Existence, since He is Existence Itself and never could have this requirement by virtue of His Being Perfect, Simple, and Omnipresent.

Thanks again for your input on this sensitive and interesting topic.

My pleasure, James. I hope the above is helpful to you.


#8

Thanks Frances - There is much speculation both inside and outside the LDS church on what God’s true nature is. I feel the target of your rejection of Mormon theology on deification exists in the differences in our semantics and culture but not in our esteem of God as Omni-everything. Besides the biblical references to becoming gods (small g) and joint heirs of Christ that you and I share in common, Latter Day saints have only two other references to deification in canonized scripture, found in the Doctrine and Covenants. When read with a sympathetic eye and an open heart I do not feel they differ in substance to your description of theosis. May I one day share in some of God’s attributes? The gospel tells me it is so. Who am I to reject that idea? I embrace it, like you do. I will always be subservient to my Father in heaven and indebted to Christ His son. He is the vine, I am a branch. Without him I can do nothing, here or in eternity. Mormon’s are not God-Makers - but we believe Christ is our god-maker, if we dare follow him there. Do you disagree with anything I have described as my personal beliefs?

Interestingly, when asked about the often quoted Mormon axiom “As man is, God once was. As God is, man may become.” our current prophet remarked on national television, “We really don’t know very much about that.” He was honest and true. We don’t. There has been much speculation, even from our pulpits, but what we hold to is our scripture and therein God has not revealed many details about things beyond our comprehension when it comes to His nature. There will always be a ‘mystery’ of deity that we may never fully comprehend.

Here are some thoughts on a common complaint about Mormon theology that you raised. You reject the idea of God the Father having a tangible body, yet you accept the resurrection of His Son whom the Apostles both handled and touched. You also await the day when your own corruptible body will put on an incorruptible body of glory. Does Christ, the Son of God continue to possess a body?. That would be an odd family photo =) And we, as sons and daughters of God - why retain our bodies if doing so separates us further from his divine nature? To me the logic goes against reason. I respect that for you it may not.

Besides and more importantly than reason and logic, I believe that God has a body of flesh and bone because He revealed it to one of his modern prophets and the Holy Spirit confirms that truth in my heart. I feel it it is true - probably the way you feel about your faith. At the same time, I expect to be greatly surprised when I first open my eyes in heaven and see it a much different place than I had always imagined.


#9

DC 76: -

50 And again we bear record—for we saw and heard, and this is the testimony of the gospel of Christ concerning them who shall come forth in the resurrection of the just—
51 They are they who received the testimony of Jesus, and believed on his name and were baptized after the manner of his burial, being buried in the water in his name, and this according to the commandment which he has given—
52 That by keeping the commandments they might be washed and cleansed from all their sins, and receive the Holy Spirit by the laying on of the hands of him who is ordained and sealed unto this power;
53 And who overcome by faith, and are sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, which the Father sheds forth upon all those who are just and true.
54 They are they who are the church of the Firstborn.
55 They are they into whose hands **the Father has given **all things—
56 They are they who are priests and kings, who have **received of his fulness, and of his glory; **
57 And are priests of the Most High, after the order of Melchizedek, which was after the order of Enoch, which was after the order of the Only Begotten Son.
58 Wherefore, as it is written, they are gods, even the sons of God
59 Wherefore, all things are theirs, whether life or death, or things present, or things to come, all are theirs and **they are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s. **
60 And they shall overcome all things.
61 Wherefore, let no man glory in man, but rather let him glory in God, who shall subdue all enemies under his feet.
62 **These shall dwell in the presence of God and his Christ forever and ever. **
63 These are they whom he shall bring with him, when he shall come in the clouds of heaven to reign on the earth over his people.
64 These are they who shall have part in the first resurrection.
65 These are they who shall come forth in the resurrection of the just.
66 These are they who are come unto Mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly place, the holiest of all.
67 These are they who have come to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of Enoch, and of the Firstborn.
68 These are they whose names are written in heaven, where God and Christ are the judge of all.
69 These are they who are just men **made perfect through Jesus **the mediator of the new covenant, who wrought out this perfect atonement through the shedding of his own blood.
70 These are they whose bodies are celestial, whose glory is that of the sun, even the glory of God, the highest of all, whose glory the sun of the firmament is written of as being typical.

DC 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 unto them. Then shall they be gods, because they have all power, and the angels are subject unto them.


#10

James, it is not just a matter of semantics or culture, but one of reality vs. unreality. Semantics means that the same thing is perceived/understood but the words we use to describe it are different; e.g., we both perceive and understand a feline creature with blue eyes and a long tail; you man use the words, “Siamese cat”, I may use the words “blue-eyed feline” – the semantics are different but we agree on what we are perceiving. OTOH, if you think that feline is composed of feathers and chocolate, oregano and toothpaste, and I perceive it to be composed of skin and bones, muscle and fur, then either one of us is wrong in our perception or both of us are wrong.

Now regarding God, we are using – at least in part - the same or similar language, but our language expresses entirely different understandings and doctrines. The LDS teaching/speculation on the nature of God is one to which all orthodox Christianity rightly objects.

. . . .but not in our esteem of God as Omni-everything.

Well, you see, James, here is precisely an example of the above: When you “esteem God" as “Omni-everything”, the LDS Omni-everything only encompasses that which “Heavenly Father” has created out of already existing matter and over which He rules; it doesn’t encompass that which his father and his father before him and his father before created and rule – and which faithful LDS members will eventually come to create and rule. So, yes, Catholics “esteem” God, but for Who He truly IS (the One, Holy, Unique, Uncreated, Immutable God Who Has neither beginning nor end) not for what a misguided “prophet” and his successors have variously claimed Him to be.

Besides the biblical references to becoming gods (small g) and joint heirs of Christ that you and I share in common, Latter Day saints have only two other references to deification in canonized scripture, found in the Doctrine and Covenants. When read with a sympathetic eye and an open heart I do not feel they differ in substance to your description of theosis.

Actually, they do, given the true nature of Who God IS vs. the LDS version. For Catholicism (and Orthodoxy), theosis draws one into an intimacy with the One Who IS; for LDS it is to attempt to gain identity with a god of vain imaginings who needed a god above him in order to be born, etc., etc. So the differences hardly lie in a mere difference in semantics.

May I one day share in some of God’s attributes? The gospel tells me it is so. Who am I to reject that idea? I embrace it, like you do. I will always be subservient to my Father in heaven and indebted to Christ His son. He is the vine, I am a branch. Without him I can do nothing, here or in eternity. Mormon’s are not God-Makers - but we believe Christ is our god-maker, if we dare follow him there. Do you disagree with anything I have described as my personal beliefs?

I agree they are your personal beliefs, James, :slight_smile: but you and I both know that, e.g., “Father in heaven” and “Christ His son” mean far different things to LDS than they do to Catholics and all orthodox Christians. Thus your acknowledgement of your being subservient is your Father in heaven does not negate that your progeny will be subservient to you when you fall into the line of “godhood”, and their progeny to them, ad infinitum. And thus your indebtedness to Christ His son is one of indebtedness to an older brother, not to the Second Person of the Holy Trinity incarnate as Jesus Christ.

Interestingly, when asked about the often quoted Mormon axiom “As man is, God once was. As God is, man may become.” our current prophet remarked on national television, “We really don’t know very much about that.”

Perhaps Mr. Hinckley doesn’t, but orthodox Christians know enough from God’s Self-revelation in Scripture and most of all from the Incarnation of the Son of God to recognize the axiom as a lie of the first magnitude, echoing the temptation in the garden.

continued. . .


#11

He was honest and true. We don’t. There has been much speculation, even from our pulpits, but what we hold to is our scripture and therein God has not revealed many details about things beyond our comprehension when it comes to His nature. There will always be a ‘mystery’ of deity that we may never fully comprehend.

Of course what we know of God is far less than what we don’t know about Him, but through His Self-Revelation and through the use of our God-given reason when informed by the faith of the Church, we are able to say true things about God - one such being the truth of His infinite Nature to which LDS wonderings and “revelations” are in no way comparable.

Here are some thoughts on a common complaint about Mormon theology that you raised. You reject the idea of God the Father having a tangible body, yet you accept the resurrection of His Son whom the Apostles both handled and touched. You also await the day when your own corruptible body will put on an incorruptible body of glory. Does Christ, the Son of God continue to possess a body?. That would be an odd family photo =) And we, as sons and daughters of God - why retain our bodies if doing so separates us further from his divine nature? To me the logic goes against reason. I respect that for you it may not.

Apples and oranges, James. The nature of God didn’t change by virtue of the Incarnation of the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity. The nature of God is immutable; having a tangible body is not necessary for Him to be God, in fact it is something that can not be for God. That is reasonable AND fulfilling to the heart because it is Truth - and Truth became Incarnate.

The Incarnation of the Second Person is a change external to the Divine Person; iow, nothing of the Divine Person changed by virtue of the Incarnation. Rather, it was Man who changed by being brought into friendship with God in and through the God-Man. The theological term for the union of God and Man in Christ Jesus is “hypostasis”. Briefly put:

“The dogma asserts that there is in Christ a Person, who is the Divine Person of the Logos, and two natures, which belong to the One Divine Person. The human nature is assumed into the unity and dominion of the Divine Person, so that the Divine Person operates in the human nature and through the human nature, as its organ,” Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, Ludwig Ott.

So the Divinity of the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity did not/does not change; iow, His Divinity is not in any manner altered or aided by the fact of His Incarnation as Man; it is, rather, man who is changed in Christ by our unity in the One Who has raised humanity in and through His Redemptive Death and Resurrection to participate in His Divinity by means of that Incarnation.

In speaking about the Incarnation and Risen Body of Our Lord Jesus Christ, first we have to remember that His becoming Incarnate was pure condescension on His part, and not a necessity for His Being; i.e., the Divine Nature of the Son wasn’t/isn’t dependent on having a body for His Self-Existent Communion with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Second, what is true of the Divine Nature of One Person is true of the Others, since that Nature is One and Unique; therefore, none of the Persons requires a Body for Self-Existence. Third, Christ Jesus has two Natures, one Human, one Divine, not one; the Divine Nature when united to the Human Nature of Jesus Christ does not come into any sort of limitation in that Human Nature; His Divine Nature fills and fully informs the Human Nature, the Human Nature does not fill His Divine Nature.

St. Anselm addresses this:

“For we affirm that the Divine nature is beyond doubt impassible, and that God cannot at all be brought down from his exaltation, nor toil in anything which he wishes to effect. But we say that the Lord Jesus Christ is very God and very man, one person in two natures, and two natures in one person. When, therefore, we speak of God as enduring any humiliation or infirmity, we do not refer to the majesty of that nature, which cannot suffer; but to the feebleness of the human constitution which he assumed. And so there remains no ground of objection against our faith. For in this way we intend no debasement of the Divine nature, but we teach that one person is both Divine and human. In the incarnation of God there is no lowering of the Deity; but the nature of man we believe to be exalted.”

continued. . .


#12

And from the Catholic Encyclopedia:

“It is to be remembered that, when the Word took Flesh, there was no change in the Word; all the change was in the Flesh. At the moment of conception, in the womb of the Blessed Mother, through the forcefulness of God’s activity, not only was the human soul of Christ created but the Word assumed the man that was conceived. When God created the world, the world was changed, that is, it passed from the state of nonentity to the state of existence; and there was no change in the Logos or Creative Word of God the Father. Nor was there change in that Logos when it began to terminate the human nature. A new relation ensued, to be sure; but this new relation implied in the Logos no new reality, no real change; all new reality, all real change, was in the human nature.”

It is possible for us to share and partake in the Divine Nature by the power of the Holy Spirit, not by anything inherent in the composition of our material being. It is only because our material being has a human soul which is immaterial and immortal that it is able by grace to be transformed to an image of the Incarnate Son. As creatures of flesh and blood by God’s design, we require matter for our existence; angels, beings solely of spirit, do not; this is a sign of the superabundant creativity of the Divine Trinity. God, then, does not require material being; it is counter His Divine, Self-Existent, Immutable Nature. In the resurrection of the dead our material bodies will join with our spirits in the reward – or not! – given for our response to the grace of Christ. We will see and participate in His glory by virtue of our adoption into the life of Christ. This glory is necessary for us if we are to enjoy the Beatific Vision. Christ’s glory is His by virtue of His being the Only Son; we share in His glory by being adopted sons in THE Son.

A book that would be helpful to you in understanding Catholic teaching on this is Frank Sheed’s Theology for Beginners – or his Theology and Sanity.

Lastly, a theological adage may help you see why Incarnation is unique to the Son: “Whatever is not assumed is not saved.” Since it is in and through the Word (the Son - cf. Jn. 1:1ff) that all things that are came to be, it is fitting that in and through the Word that we become a New Creation through the Son’s Life, Death and Resurrection and that all things are reconciled to God (Col. 1:20) - the One, Unique God Who is Love.

Besides and more importantly than reason and logic, I believe that God has a body of flesh and bone because He revealed it to one of his modern prophets and the Holy Spirit confirms that truth in my heart. I feel it it is true - probably the way you feel about your faith. At the same time, I expect to be greatly surprised when I first open my eyes in heaven and see it a much different place than I had always imagined.

Yes, we will all be surprised, and I hope happily so!; authentic hope, though, isn’t based on nice feelings, but on the witness of Christ that His Catholic Church brings to the world, not on the false teachings of a self-proclaimed “prophet” whose life and work belies his claims for all with eyes to see.


#13

Ah Frances - your post made me a little sad. You’ve heard the phrase, “You had me at hello?” Well, you lost me at “reality vs. unreality”… “I am right James. You are wrong. My understanding is superior James. You are deluded. What I believe is real. You live in an evil fantasy.”

I admit I kinda skimmed the rest of your post after that.

What came across to me was a disappointing air of elitism and condescension. Every word you wrote may even be true - but your approach shut me down. If you want to reach me as a brother you’ll need to change your tact. If you want to establish yourself as an all knowing dispenser of wisdom - you pretty much got it down. What I believed to be an interesting and sincere exchange of ideas between two aquaintenances became an insult to my intellect and ability to reason. Questioning the moral character and divine calling of men I consider prophets of God was unwise on your part - if your intent was to educate and enlighten me.

misguided “prophet” and his successors
a god of vain imaginings
false teachings of a self-proclaimed “prophet” whose life and work belies his claims for all with eyes to see.

My eyes then are blind I guess because I don’t see what you see. The only explanation is I’m deluded. Quite an insult for someone you’ve just met.

When I study what God has said through his prophets in the scriptures my spirit soars and my heart leaps. I feel attuned to truth when I hear it each time. If any of what you spent so much time and so many words trying to explain to me felt right, I would follow it. It doesn’t. What then should I do?

I’ll bet we will get a chance to talk again Frances.

Your friend

James


#14

Simply said, we Catholics know that we’re not on some sort of fast-track to Godhood. Mormons think they are, themselves, progressing to be Gods. With all due respect, we believe Mormons are wrong about that.

One group is wrong and the other is right. Naturally we Catholics believe we are the ones that are right. To me, it’s not just theology, it’s just common sense. Will we, at some point in our existence, be so fortunate as to behold God? One can only hope. But BECOMING a God seems quite a reach for me.


#15

Hi Melanie. Thank you for sharing your beliefs. I do not doubt that what you believe is so natural to you that if feels like common sense. Hard to imagine then that I actually feel the same way about my beliefs. "Common’ sense is hardly so. Interesting phenomenon isn’t it.

I used to say and believe things like, “One of us is right, the other is wrong.” I have changed quite a bit in the last few years, mostly through interacting and dialoguing with people of other faiths and cultures. I sincerely believe that I and my church are probably ‘wrong’ on many things. By that I mean that our understanding is still infantile.

“For now we see through a glass, darkly…But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away (paraphrased CORINTHIANS 13)”

I think you are right on many things, even some on which I am wrong. But I have been moved so powerfully and often to a firmer conviction of my faith, I would be foolish to trade what (for me) would be light for darkness and go in another direction. Yet I sincerely strive to question everything and to never be complacent. The only group of people I know of that Christ berated were the hypocrites, the self righteous and the spiritually stagnant. To all others He offered gentle encouragement.

People love to argue with Joseph Smith and Brigham Young et al. They aren’t here to defend themselves. So they argue with Joseph Smith about what he supposedly said or did through people like me. Ask me what I believe, then engage me respectfully as if my beliefs were just as sacred to me as yours are to you. Do I feel I am on a ‘Fast-Track’ to Godhood? No. Do I feel God has more in store for me (if I want it) in the afterlife than what is commonly believed? Only because I believe He has said it is so. I don’t feel Our destiny ends with harp strumming as some believe (I’m not telling you what you believe.) I believe the destiny of God’s children continues to unfold eternally.

I’m interested in knowing more of what you believe.

=) James


#16

here are a few differences:

Catholics believe that in the beatific vision we don’t “become” God or even like God. We “experience” God. Imagine placing a poker in a fireplace. after a while the poker will become hot and even glow white. it will have the characteristics of fire but it will not become fire. in fact it only has those characteristics while it is IN the fire. Similarly, those humans whom God takes into heaven will dwell in his presence and thus be able to experience all that God has. Yet we will never become God.

Contrast this to the Mormon doctrine of eternal progression. Gordon Hinkley once commented to a journalist that we don’t know much about this but once back in general conference he assured the LDS that he certainly did. Prior to him LDS prophets have consistently written and spoken in great detail on this concept and when not speaking to the print media even GBH has referred to the king follett sermon and other such talks on this subject. It is and has been taught by the LDS church that our God used to be a man just like us and had to become exalted. it is also taught that if we follow his example while on earth we can also become Gods. LDS reconcile this with scripture by stating that our heavenly father will always be OUR only God and that if/when we become exalted he will be even greater as a “God of Gods”. (as his heavenly father is now.)

The nature of God then appears to be a fundamental difference between mormons and catholics on this subject. defining who/what God is is critical to our understanding of theosis. Mormons claim personal experience through actual physical visitation of Joseph Smith by Elohim and Jehovah and continuing direct revelation by actual conversation in many cases between prophets and God. Catholics tend more to the scriptural accounts of visitation contained in the Bible. We take our doctrinal position from the teachings of Jesus in the gospels viewed in context as a continuation of OT teachings and then look to the explanation of the apostles in the NT and sacred tradition to flesh out the details.

I believe the terminology is close enough that the unwary might think the two concepts reconcilable if not congruent. I find it much more than simple semantics but a completely different “theosophy”.
To the Catholic mind there is literally only God anywhere ever and he has always been God. We are his creations. To the Mormon, the distinction between father and son is huge and the whole concept of eternal progression is an endless line of Gods who have literal offspring like us, some of whom grow into Gods themselves,


#17

James, the problem I have with Mormon theology is that it makes no sense, among other things. Numerous posts on this forum have outlined the glaring discrepancies of Mormonism, so I won’t repeat them, since the search function works well, so you are free to review them.

Among the many things I like about being a Catholic is that I don’t have to check my brain at the door. In order to be a Mormon, you do. Or, at least, you have to have a lot of the Mormon theology hidden from you. From what I have seen & heard, hiding the development of church theology is quite common for Mormons, so who knows how many people don’t know all the facts? If the church was true, facts wouldn’t need to be hidden.

I suppose that, in that, we Catholics have a bit of an advantage. We have 2000 years of history and tradition in the very church founded by Jesus Christ himself. There’s been no “apostasy” as Mormons contend. Our church has an unparalleled history and tradition to support it. Does it have some ugly stories by persons associated with the church? Of course it does, as does any institution that includes humans, but we have the benefit of being the actual church founded by Jesus Christ, the one He promised would continue forever. And it does. We don’t have to hide anything, and we particularly don’t have to hide our beliefs.

On the other hand, Mormons have a lot to hide, and they do so, routinely. One of the major things that bugs me is that Mormon theology requires you to believe that your major scripture was “translated” using magic rocks held in the bottom of a hat. If I am not mistaken, it also requires that you believe that this was done in secret, as the person “translating” was separated from the person taking dictation by an impenetrable screen. This entire story smacks of a “con” to me, but the biggest “con” is the magic rocks and how the story of the magic rocks is handled. Potential converts are not told about the magic rocks & if a potential convert has enough information to ask about them, they are given diversionary answers (I got that last bit from a returned Mormon missionary who has since rejected the church.)

Mormon theology, or at least the Book of Mormon, if you believe it is “true”, requires you to believe all manner of things that, to me, are utterly preposterous. (And many of the “new world” bits have been proven to be archeologically impossible.) And yet people still believe it. Well, OK for them, but not OK for me. I believe that Mormons are both non-Christian (as we define Christian because Mormons obviously do not believe in the same “Father, Son & Holy Spirit” that we do) and also behave as a “cult”, judging from the common treatment of people that stop going to church. Since I live in Southern California, where there are a lot of Mormons, including friends of mine, I have had a lot of experience with Mormons and what happens when someone stops attending. They are shunned. Is that practice required by the church? Who knows, I can only tell you that it is common knowledge that it is done routinely.

You, of course, are free to believe what you believe and I respect your right to do that. But I am not required to believe that your beliefs are sound. Indeed, in the words of a Mormon testimony, I would say “I know the Mormon Church IS NOT true, I know that Joseph Smith IS NOT a prophet of God, I know that Gordon Hinckley IS NOT a prophet of God.” And I say this in the name of Jesus Christ.

If you seek to convert me to your way of thinking, save your energy, it will not happen. You are free to ask whatever questions you wish. I will ignore silly ones. And I won’t do your homework for you. If you have passages of whatever scripture you are interested in, feel free to look them up yourself.

I will not be Mormon, not ever, on that you can depend.


#18

Majick - I really enjoyed your post and I hope you’ll continue to explore this topic with me. I appreciate your ability to disagree with my beliefs without ridiculing them or me for believing them. I especially appreciate you explanation of your beliefs and why you believe them. I’m very open to that kind of dialogue.

I think I heard you say that you feel Gordon B Hinkley has been disingenuous and maybe even two-faced when it comes to our doctrine. I can understand how from your perspective it may seem that way. Needless to say I view him and his actions differently than you. As you can imagine I also view the actions of your Popes, past and present, differently than you. We come from different places on that subject I guess.

The part of your post that I really want to think about is how our views of the nature of God and our eternal potential truly do differ. I’m going to give it some more thought. I would like you to try really hard to accept what I describe as my beliefs and what I feel my church teaches as sincere. I feel LDS are often viewed with suspicion when describing their beliefs. Like “Cmon, we both know what you believe.” Why would I tell you I believe something I don’t? Would a Muslim tell you they believed in Christ’s divinity? Not if they valued their head =).

Can we set aside for a moment the questions about God’s ‘origins?’ I honestly don’t feel I have a grasp on how something can be without end or beginning as we traditionally describe God. Nor have I read the King Follet discourses recently enough to even tell you how I feel about what Joseph Smith believed about God then. And remember, I can’t defend Joseph Smith or even explain everything he said and did. He had experiences I have not.

I **would **like to talk more about what I believe and feel about my potential relationship to God in eternity and how it may truly differ from what you believe. I think this is the crux of your and many others’ rejection of Mormon deification. You feel we assume too much. We aggrandize our potential and ‘seek to become God.’ To do so is blasphemous to you. Have I described your feelings very well?

I need to hit the sack but I really like your analogy of the poker in the fire and I actually think your analogy fits my beliefs AND mormon doctrine perfectly. I will think a bit more on this and get back to you tomorrow.

Thanks for your thoughts.


#19

Hey Melanie -

…the problem I have with Mormon theology is that it makes no sense…

Among the many things I like about being a Catholic is that I don’t have to check my brain at the door. In order to be a Mormon, you do.

I stopped reading after that so I’m not sure what you said afterwards.

You’re unlikely to help me with insults. You assume a great deal about me, my experiences and my intellect with those remarks. I hope we get another chance to talk.

Your Friend

James


#20

I think I was careful not say that in this case. I made a distinction between what he says in press interviews and what he says in church. I am open to the idea that maybe he is doing milk before meat or not casting pearls before swine.

I don’t fear that at all. We had some horrid popes. the catholic church has survived in SPITE of many of it’s popes. That is in my opinion a big difference between us and mormonism.

I believe that YOU believe it if that helps.

this is largely due to obvious changes in teachings. I honestly think that many mormons have no idea what was previously taught in their church as “essential” topics.

I don’t see how we can “set aside” something so integral to this discussion.

partly. we think it equally blasphemous to go back the other direction and reduce God to one of us who “made it”.

I submit that your own beliefs may not be the same as mormon doctrine.


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