Divine Nature and Oneness in Mormonism and Catholicism

This is a continuation of the “Huge Questions” thread that Catholic Dude started. In one of his last posts, he had some good questions for me, so I decided to pick it up here.

[quote=Catholic Dude]I just saw something, you said “Jesus and the angels are the same species”, explain what this means. Are they both created beings?
I was looking into the lds site for info on that name marked on the angel stuff, and I found something… There were a few pages that said Adam was actually Michael the ArchAngel.
There are two big articles I found Here and Also here.
[/quote]

One thing that needs to be understood is that Catholics divide all things and beings into two categories: 1) God, who is uncreated and eternal, and 2) everyone and everything else, which is created from nothing. On the other hand, Mormons believe that God is the Creator, but He creates from something, not nothing. We have no creatio ex nihilo concept in Mormonism. Therefore, matter and the essence that spirits are made of had no beginning, and will have no end. In our theology, angels are either pre-mortal or post-mortal men. For example, Adam is considered equivalent to Michael. In a sense, all men/angels are created by God, but in another sense they are uncreated, just like God.

[quote=Catholic Dude]Also you keep mentioning “subordinate”, I dont know where TomNossor went, but we were talking about this. You seem to say that “subordinate” means inferrior to God, which is the exact same concept the JWs use. There are different degrees of subordination, for example when Jesus was not in heaven but on earth doing the will of His Father. There are passages that say Jesus took the form of a slave/servant. But He was still God. So in a sense there was a level of subordination, but not how you make it sound. Subordination is not a bad or degrading thing, like I said to Tom there are acceptable views of subordination. Jesus doesnt say “I AM” and mean that only His will is inline with the Father, but that He and the Father are one.
[/quote]

The JWs (who are essentially neo-Arians) start from the same premise that you do, i.e., that God is uncreated and eternal, while everything else came from nothing. The question is, in which category does Jesus belong? Catholics and others put him in the “God” category, and JWs put him in the “everything else” category, as an archangel who can be called “god” with a little “g”.

Mormons, on the other hand, lump God, angels, and men into the same ontological category. However, for us, “God” is not an ontologically “simple” entity that has to be completely homogeneous. Therefore, there can be more than one being included in the One God, and those beings can have gradations of rank and glory. In a sense, these gradations don’t have practical meaning in some contexts, because the beings who make up the One God are completely unified in will, purpose, love, and covenant.

The pre-Nicene early Christian Fathers generally regarded Jesus as subordinate to the Father in rank and glory. So far I have used Justin and Origen as examples, but I can provide more, if you like. Ex-mo mentioned Tertullian. Would you like me to start with him?

In response to my claim that both Justin and Origen claimed that the Jews of their time generally believed in an anthropomorphic deity, CDude asked me to remind him of the sources. Here they are. First, Justin is talking to Trypho the Jew:

And again, when He says, “I shall behold the heavens, the works of Thy fingers,” unless I understand His method of using words, I shall not understand intelligently, but just as your teachers suppose, fancying that the Father of all, the unbegotten God, has hands and feet, and fingers, and a soul, like a composite being; and they for this reason teach that it was the Father Himself who appeared to Abraham and to Jacob. [Dialogue with Trypho 114.]

Next, Origen:

The Jews indeed, but also some of our people, supposed that God should be understood as a man, that is, adorned with human members and human appearance. But the philosophers despise these stories as fabulous and formed in the likeness of poetic fictions. [Homilies on Genesis 3:1]

Notice that Origen specifically says that some Christians also believed in an anthropomorphic God. And why did Origen reject this belief? Because the philosophers [Origen was a Platonist] thought it was silly. Justin was a converted philosopher, by the way, a Platonist.

BDawg

Actually, what Origen says is that God should be understood as a man. And that is true. The only way we can understand God is to make Him have man-like qualities. What Origen DOES NOT say is that God has a body.

[quote=tkdnick]Actually, what Origen says is that God should be understood as a man. And that is true. The only way we can understand God is to make Him have man-like qualities. What Origen DOES NOT say is that God has a body.
[/quote]

Hi tkdnick,

I’m not following you. Origen said that the Jews and some Christians understood God as a man, THAT IS, having human MEMBERS (arms, legs, etc.) and human APPEARANCE (i.e., he looks like a man). Origen specifically said that he disagreed with this notion, and cited the opinions of the philosophers to back him up. I could dig up the quote in the university library here, and see if I could provide more context. However, I think the quotation is clear enough as it stands, and this is from the “Fathers of the Church” translation series put out by the Catholic University of America, which isn’t available online.

In Origen’s time, the teaching about the nature of God (whether he is incorporeal, has a body, or whatever) was in a state of flux, so that in Origen’s book “On First Principles,” he could say there was no clear Christian teaching on the matter.

For it is also to be a subject of investigation how God himself is to be understood, – whether as corporeal, and formed according to some shape, or of a different nature from bodies, – a point which is not clearly indicated in our teaching. [On First Principles, Preface 9]

BDawg

I myself could never think of God as a man. I would consider that thinking in the flesh, thinking in the world so to speak. Nothing that I want on this earth can compare in any way to wanting God. Thinking of myself as created by my creator who has always been makes Him so much bigger than I. I appreciate the fact that God thought of me and out of that came me. That I was absolutely nothing until He gave this nothing life. As a fairly new Catholic I feel as if I do know where my life comes, and in the end it has nothing to do with who I think I want to be, or what I will receive in heaven. It’s all about knowing that without Gods Spirit in me I would go back to being Nothing. I am not talking about nothing as if it in itself is something, I am speaking about nothing. There is nothing that exists that was not first created by God. Our God in Christianity is very large. And if there are planets without end as the Mormon faith teaches God defiantly could manage each one of them all by himself. The Same Father, Son and Holy Spirit would be just as present to them as to each of us. It’s not about who we are and what we can become, but rather all about who God is and what He has given His creation. That would be Jesus.

Our Love and our very being. Through Him we have our existence, because of Him.

God is neither male nor female, made in “His image” means much more than that. It means we were created “good” But we fell out of His image, we became “bad – Fallen” Jesus because he loves us in spite of ourselves brings us back to Gods Image. Not to be it, rather to live in it for all eternity. Never to fall into ourselves again. To have a share in what Jesus has always had, Why? It’s simple, because Gods love cannot be contained. The Mormon faith has only the world exalted to offer. It offers the desires of the flesh and this is why it is popular. In the Mormon faith you can have the status that most of us desire. For a Christian God has to be enough, with a Cross thrown in for good measure to keep our heart in the right place. I was at work today and one of the LDS mentioned three crosses that they saw Saturday in a field across from our church. I explained that it was our Spanish community re-enacting the Passion. They told me that that was weird. I had just come out of Lent, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, the Easter Vigil, and Easter Sunday Mass. What could I say?

I had nothing to say. How do you explain? Jesus went silent before He was led away. I think I understand this silence, this love that at times can not be explained to others. Five years ago I was baptized Catholic. Now when I attend Midnight Mass I have come to realize that I am in Christmas, not like the ones I had growing up, rather I am literally in Christmas. Now when Easter arrives I come to find my self really in Easter. Living in the midst of the Passion.

Understanding the Cross, Christ Crucified for me, Witnessing the resurrection, living within this resurrection. If you were to place the Catholic Church next to the Mormon Church all that would be seen would be a very large Cross with the multitudes who call themselves Christians holding on for dear life, and down below it would be the other children of God, the LDS. Not clinging to the Cross yet, others would be calling out to them, get on it, you need to get on it. Like the great flood in Noah’s time, the doors will close. To understand the Catholic faith you have to come to the cross and embrace it in your lives. There you will find the Christ of Christianty. There you will find “the” God

I myself could never think of God as a man. I would consider that thinking in the flesh, thinking in the world so to speak. Nothing that I want on this earth can compare in any way to wanting God. Thinking of myself as created by my creator who has always been makes Him so much bigger than I. I appreciate the fact that God thought of me and out of that came me. That I was absolutely nothing until He gave this nothing life. As a fairly new Catholic I feel as if I do know where my life comes, and in the end it has nothing to do with who I think I want to be, or what I will receive in heaven. It’s all about knowing that without Gods Spirit in me I would go back to being Nothing. I am not talking about nothing as if it in itself is something, I am speaking about nothing. There is nothing that exists that was not first created by God. Our God in Christianity is very large. And if there are planets without end as the Mormon faith teaches God defiantly could manage each one of them all by himself. The Same Father, Son and Holy Spirit would be just as present to them as to each of us. It’s not about who we are and what we can become, but rather all about who God is and what He has given His creation. That would be Jesus.

Our Love and our very being. Through Him we have our existence, because of Him.

God is neither male nor female, made in “His image” means much more than that. It means we were created “good” But we fell out of His image, we became “bad – Fallen” Jesus because he loves us in spite of ourselves brings us back to Gods Image. Not to be it, rather to live in it for all eternity. Never to fall into ourselves again. To have a share in what Jesus has always had, Why? It’s simple, because Gods love cannot be contained. The Mormon faith has only the world exalted to offer. It offers the desires of the flesh and this is why it is popular. In the Mormon faith you can have the status that most of us desire. For a Christian God has to be enough, with a Cross thrown in for good measure to keep our heart in the right place. I was at work today and one of the LDS mentioned three crosses that they saw Saturday in a field across from our church. I explained that it was our Spanish community re-enacting the Passion. They told me that that was weird. I had just come out of Lent, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, the Easter Vigil, and Easter Sunday Mass. What could I say?

I had nothing to say. How do you explain? Jesus went silent before He was led away. I think I understand this silence, this love that at times can not be explained to others. Five years ago I was baptized Catholic. Now when I attend Midnight Mass I have come to realize that I am in Christmas, not like the ones I had growing up, rather I am literally in Christmas. Now when Easter arrives I come to find my self really in Easter. Living in the midst of the Passion.

Understanding the Cross, Christ Crucified for me, Witnessing the resurrection, living within this resurrection. If you were to place the Catholic Church next to the Mormon Church all that would be seen would be a very large Cross with the multitudes who call themselves Christians holding on for dear life, and down below it would be the other children of God, the LDS. Not clinging to the Cross yet, others would be calling out to them, get on it, you need to get on it. Like the great flood in Noah’s time, the doors will close. To understand the Catholic faith you have to come to the cross and embrace it in your lives. There you will find the Christ of Christianty. There you will find “the” God

[quote=catholic-rcia] I was at work today and one of the LDS mentioned three crosses that they saw Saturday in a field across from our church. I explained that it was our Spanish community re-enacting the Passion. They told me that that was weird. I had just come out of Lent, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, the Easter Vigil, and Easter Sunday Mass. What could I say?
[/quote]

Well, on behalf of all the other LDS people out there, I apologize for your friend’s unconscionable insensitivity. As if Mormons aren’t weird. HA!

BDawg

Well, on behalf of all the other LDS people out there, I apologize for your friend’s unconscionable insensitivity. As if Mormons aren’t weird. HA!

BDawg

No need to apologize at all, when your in touch with the Cross you come to understand comments like that, you see yourself in the same light as the one commenting. I would not want to think of myself as more enlightened. I am not, it is only Christ in me that is. So what I do is give it up to Christ and he deals with it.

[quote=catholic-rcia]So what I do is give it up to Christ and he deals with it.
[/quote]

I mean to say that he has already dealt with it on the cross, so all is forgiven. No pain in this life that comes from Satan is really directed at us, its all directed to the one he hates, this would be the Mass, the Cross where he was defeated, this would be Jesus. Satan in this world will try to gather us in to his side in many ways, but by taking shelter under the cross, in confession and forgiveness of sins his power is limited indeed and only for a short time.

What is the importance of the Cross?
It represents Satans defeat. It is the Tree of life

[quote=catholic-rcia]What is the importance of the Cross?
It represents Satans defeat. It is the Tree of life
[/quote]

That was good, but I think you missed some…or maybe I’m just getting more specific. Not only does it mean Satan’s defeat, it means our life! It means (as you have said), we are all forgiven of our sins! Heck, it means EVERYTHING!

“Heck, it means EVERYTHING!”

Honestly, I contemplate it a lot, I do not expect to understand it fully, nor do I have a burning desire. Its just a really good place to hang out isnt it! And the company of all those fallen freinds is pretty good company. We have a huge tapestry of the risen Christ covering the Crucifix through the Easter season. We have been accused of focusing to much on the death of Christ, on the Cross. And rightly so, and so it should be. It has a way of turning the resurection into a reality, into hope beyond anything I ever hoped for before I became Catholic. What it has all done for me and my family is place us right into the very heart of what Easter really is. Before it was just another Holiday, now its a 365 day procession that dates all the way back to the Cross. It brings the Cross and the resurection into our daily lives, we live in the real presence of the Passion of Christ where time stands still so that we can each climb aboard.
“Heck, it means EVERYTHING!”

I really do appreciate your devotional thoughts, but is this thread also going to get shut down because it is wandering off topic?

BDawg

Regarding divine nature and oneness in mormonism - I have recently been re-reading ‘Mere Christianity’ by CS Lewis, and he describes the very important point that is often skewed in lds theology: the difference between ‘made’ and ‘begotten’. I believe much of the lds view of divine nature comes from understanding these two words differently than the catholic/protestant world.

In lds theology Christ is our elder brother, we are all begotten spirit children of our Heavenly Parents. Jesus has the distinction in being the first born, much farther along in the process of exaltation, and the only one with Heavenly Father as His earthly father. The last point is how lds understand the phrase ‘only begotten’. Lds believe ‘conceived by the Holy Ghost’ a mistranslation, since Jesus is the ‘only begotten’ of the Father here on earth.

Because lds believe we are all spirit children begotten of the Father we all have the possibility of godhood, and we all share in the divine nature. This is in contrast with the Christian view point of man being ‘made’ by God, and Jesus being ‘begotten’.

Once Jesus is truly seperated as ‘the ONLY begotten’ (and not just here on earth) then it’s easier to understand how Jesus can be one with the Father in a way that we are not. Then Jesus being divine and the rest of us not makes more sense.

This also leads to the fact that we are ‘adopted’ into the family of God with our new birth. A theological point seemingly missed by the majority of lds.

Hi Mom,

I agree with your interpretation. One of my frustrations with people in our religion is that many don’t even try to reconcile such passages (“Only Begotten,” adoption, etc.) They just sort of ignore them. I don’t think Mormons are alone in that–my Catholic friends often moan about such problems in their church, too. It’s still frustrating, though.

BDawg

momathome

Wrote:


“This also leads to the fact that we are ‘adopted’ into the family of God with our new birth. A theological point seemingly missed by the majority of lds”

Here are some neat writings that I was given while going through the RCIA. They helped bring me come out of myself as I made the turn to Christ and His Church,.

When I was just twenty it gave me great satisfaction that I managed to read, and understand, the Ten Categories of Aristotle without a teacher. I would mention the book at every opportunity, slipping the title in with a touch of awe, smiling to myself when lecturers would comment how difficult it had been for them to answer it.

And much good it did me! Indeed, it was harmful, because it encouraged me to think of You, O Lord, as if you were part of what you had made, instead of being its essence and origin. Sadly, I had my back toward the light and my eyes fixed on the darkness. I could understand without difficulty logic, rhetoric, geometry, music, and arithmetic, but I did not see that my intelligence itself was a gift of God and that all the true things I learned came from him, their source. What advantage was it to me that I had a nimble wit when all the while I turned from good and clung to evil? Little did I realize then how much better off were all those (as I saw them) “simple” souls who lacked my native intelligence but put their trust in God **…**St. Augustine

                                       And

Lord, you are not pleased with someone simply because that person is knowledgeable. In fact, it would be possible for one to know everything there is to know in the whole wide world, except for knowing you, and consequently know nothing. Just as another person could live in blissful ignorance of the great sum of human knowledge, but know you, and be both happy and content. After all, who is better placed - the person who owns a tree and gives You thanks for all the good things it provides; or the one who owns a similar tree and knows its weight and dimensions down to the least leaf, but does not realize that You are its Creator and that it is through You that he or she has use of it? In essence, the latter person is ignorant, though full of facts, and the former person wise, though bit short on details.

So in general we can say that the most important knowledge is knowledge of You, O Lord."**…**St. Augustine


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.