It would be quite a remarkable thing if an unschooled farm-boy like
Joseph Smith were able to set up shop as a prophet and produce a stream
of coherent, mutually reinforcing doctrine in the difficult thicket of
theology. Indeed this is hard,— too hard,— and he did no such
thing. It's a wonder that his followers haven't broken up into
time-sectioned sects, for example the Reorganized Saints acknowledging the earlier
'revelations,' and the polytheists acknowledging the later. The Salt
Lake City Mormons try to hold the whole ball of wax together, and as
this simply can't be done, they are left waving their hands and
shouting. Take for example the question of 'eternity;' God is eternal
in the true sense, without beginning of days or end. In his earlier
career, Joseph Smith still prophesied in the name of an eternal God.
But his later template of gods reproducing after the manner of the
Greek pantheon left no room for this kind of eternity, except for
matter and the intelligence atoms of which spiritual beings are
comprised (spirit being just another kind of matter, more rarefied and
fluid). There are no eternal gods, if gods are born in the "literal"
way; they enjoy eternal life only in the way promised to men under the
old system, who come into being from non-existence, and then enjoy
everlasting life in the shadow of God's wings. They are 'eternal' in
one direction only. Even after the adoption of this new system,
however, all the old language was still there, hanging around. What to
do? Holler, wave your arms, and invent nonsense words like 'gnolaum:'
"In what appears to be a case of transliteration from
the Egyptian of the Book of Abraham, the Prophet Joseph Smith has
added the word gnolaum to the English language. Its meaning is
substantially synonymous with our word eternal. Speaking of 'two
spirits' the Lord said to Abraham, as the Prophet has translated it,
that they 'have no beginning; they existed before, they shall have
no end, they shall exist after, for they are gnolaum, or eternal.' (Abra.
3:18)." (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 315).
'Eternal' in its fullest sense does indeed mean without beginning and without
ending. True eternity is ascribed to God many times by the false prophet
Joseph as well as the Bible,
"Endless, used as a noun and not as an adjective, is one
of the names of God and signifies his unending, eternal continuance
as the supreme, exalted ruler of the universe, 'Behold, I am the
Lord God Almighty, and Endless is my name,' he said, 'for I am
without beginning of days or end of years; and is not this endless?'
(Moses 1:3, 7:35). 'Endless is my name' he said to the Prophet. (D.
& C. 19:10.)" (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 226).
We are still on quasi-Christian turf, because the living God is indeed without beginning
and without end; as Jesus said, "Before Abraham was, I am."
(John 8:58). Time is not a condition of God's life as it is of ours; He
created time. But then the great discovery is made that God is an
exalted man, and men can become gods. Men therefore must become
"By gaining exaltation — which includes the fulness of
the Father and 'a continuation of the seeds forever and ever' — men
become 'gods, because they have no end; therefore shall they be from
everlasting to everlasting, because they continue.' (D. & C.
132:19-20). That is, those who gain eternal increase, who have
unending spirit children in the resurrection, have thereby become
from everlasting to everlasting. Because of their eternal progeny
they continue everlastingly without end; from eternity to eternity
they are the same; and being being perfected and exalted beings,
their course never varies, nor is there shadow of turning to the
right or the left." (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 244).
Hmmm. . .so now you can become "from everlasting to everlasting," and furthermore
you do that by. . .having children!??? Of course only the living
God is from everlasting to everlasting, but from this point onward,
Mormon commentators are doomed to incoherence and contradiction. Men had
a beginning, they freely concede; and yet they are eternal just as is
"Life began for man and for all created things at the
time of their respective spirit creations. Before that there were
only the spirit elements from which the Almighty would in due course
create life." (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 442).
What to do? Wave your arms and make up nonsense words like 'gnolaum.'
"Having in mind this eternal, unending repetition of the
eternal plan of creation, redemption, and salvation, it is plain
what our Lord meant when he said he was 'from all eternity to all
eternity' (D. & C. 39:1), and also when he said of himself, 'From
eternity to eternity he is the same, and his years never fail.' (D.
& C. 76:4). In other words Christ, as an eternal, exalted Being,
never varies; from one eternity to the next he is the same. From
pre-existence to pre-existence his course goes on in one eternal
round, and so will it be with all exalted beings. Those who become
gods will then be from eternity to eternity, everlastingly the same,
always possessing the fulness of all things and multiplying their
race without end." (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 240).
Self-evidently, "[t]hose who become gods" are not "everlastingly
the same," because they have become what they were not
previously. Waving your arms and jabbering about "one eternal round"
cannot resolve this contradiction. Those now on the early stages of the
'exaltation' tread-mill await the day when they will have 'spirit
children' of their own (gods, it seems, propagate on an industrial scale
that would embarrass lice). These 'spirit children' do not yet exist.
Their 'literal' begetting will call them into existence from
"Men are the literal spirit children, spirit offspring,
of the Eternal Father; they were born to him as his spirit progeny,
as spirit entities having bodies made of a more pure and refined
substance than that comprising these mortal tabernacles."
(Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 251).
Their begetters travelled the same road as they will, in their
turn, travel on the way to deification:
"Exaltation is eternal life, the kind of life which God
lives. . .They have eternal increase, a continuation of the seeds
forever and ever, a continuation of the lives, eternal lives; that
is, they have spirit children in the resurrection, in relation to
which offspring they stand in the same position that God our Father
stands to us. . .'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.'" (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 257).
And in their turn, these 'spirit children' will become gods, and
"therefore shall they be from everlasting to everlasting." Although
they do not now exist, "they shall be from everlasting to
everlasting." How can one who does not now exist, at some future time
undergo a change with the result that he is now, belatedly, "from
everlasting to everlasting"? Has a more incoherent set of ideas ever been set forth
in the name of religion?
All Things Common
The early Mormons briefly practiced the voluntary communism of the Munster Communards:
"CONSECRATION. . .As then attempted, practice of the
full law of consecration called for the saints to consecrate,
transfer, and convey to the Lord's agent all of their property 'with
a covenant and a deed which cannot be broken.' (D. & C. 42:30;
58:35). They were then given stewardships to use for their own
maintenance, with all surpluses reverting back to the lord's
storehouses." (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 158).
As is commonly the case, this did not work out so well, and it
may well be their own unhappy experience that sparked the fierce
Mormon anti-communism of the 1950's and 60's. Mormons remain however
one of the very few religious organizations ordering members not to
covet their own property: ". . .thou shalt not covet thine own
property.' (D. & C. 19:25-26; 88:123; 136:20)." (Bruce R. McConkie,
Mormon Doctrine, p. 168).
Speaking of the Ten Commandments, Bruce R. McConkie says, "These
eternal principles have all been ratified and given renewed force by
latter-day revelation." (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 783).
Hmmm. . .that's odd. Even the one about not worshipping "other" gods?:
"Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the
LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers
upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that
hate me. . ." (Exodus 20:5). Trying to observe the first commandment
leads into an impenetrable thicket of confusion for Latter Day Saints,
because they believe the God who delivered these laws to Moses was
Jesus Christ, but they do not worship Him; they worship 'Heavenly
Father,' who, they think, did not instruct them not to worship other gods: