Bruce McConkie's
 'Mormon Doctrine' 


Divine Sex Exalted Man
Adam God Heavenly Mother
Omnipresence Racism
Eternal Matter Is Mormonism a Cult?
Polytheism Gnolaum
All Things Common Ten Commandments
Authority Figures

Discussions between Latter Day Saints and evangelicals will motor along for a while but then stop abruptly at a dead end, because some of the more controversial things that Mormons believe are not recorded in their scriptures. It's not clear why this should end the discussion, because evangelicals also debate with atheists, and atheists don't have any scriptures at all! However when controversial topics like divine-human sex come up, Mormons, like Roman Catholic apologists, adopt a doctrinal minimalism and refuse to defend even doctrines which they personally believe. So I've set up this page discussing controversial views expressed by Bruce McConkie in his widely-read compendium, 'Mormon Doctrine,' which may or may not be reflected in the Doctrine and Covenants of the Latter-day Saints, but which are widely held, fully realizing that Mormon doctrine, not resting upon the stable foundation of the Bible, is changeable, variable and unstable.

Was Jesus the Outcome of a Divine-Human Fling?

One of these orphaned teachings that scorches up discussion threads is the idea that Jesus is the 'literal' offspring of a union of God the Father and the formerly virgin Mary. By 'literal' one fears the author means 'carnal:'


  • "ONLY BEGOTTEN SON. . .These name-titles all signify that our Lord is the only Son of the Father in the flesh. Each of the words is to be understood literally. Only means only; Begotten means begotten; and Son means son. Christ was begotten by an Immortal Father in the same way that mortal men are begotten by mortal fathers." (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, second edition, pp. 546-547).


  • "God the Father is a perfected, glorified, holy Man, an immortal Personage. And Christ was born into the world as the literal Son of the Holy Being; he was born in the same personal, real, and literal sense that any mortal son is born to a mortal father. There is nothing figurative about his paternity; he was begotten, conceived and born in the normal and natural course of events, for he is the Son of God, and that designation means what it says." (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, second edition, p. 742).




One fears that by 'literally' the author means 'carnally.' What is the problem with this idea? First of all, it reflects a mix-up of different orders of being. The animals go two by two into the ark, but God does not have a consort; He is not a biological entity seeking a simulated immortality by reproducing itself. He is not a material being but Spirit: "God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth." (John 4:24).

Moreover there are other difficulties. Even if God were an exalted man, which He is not, Mary was a virgin when the child was conceived within her:



  • “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”
  • (Isaiah 7:14).



Matthew confirms this: "Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us." (Matthew 1:23). If she was pregnant while yet a virgin, then her child was not conceived "in the normal and natural course of events," where this does not happen. Other less than felicitous aspects to this conception is that Mary, in Mormon thinking, is the offspring of her paramour: "MARY. . .Certainly she as one of the noblest and greatest of all the spirit offspring of the Father." (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, second edition, p. 471). Moreover, this carnal idea accuses God of adultery, because Mary already had a legal husband: "Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily." (Matthew 1:18-19). How many modern Mormons believe this appalling idea I don't know, but Bible-readers should not hesitate to criticize it because it is not mandatory. Most Mormon responses to such criticism do not so much defend the doctrine as play keep-away with it, demanding that the critic find the doctrine in official scripture, though many still believe in this unfortunate conjecture. One can only surmise that someone was reading in Bulfinch's Mythology about the sexual exploits of Zeus when they came up with this.

The Mormons themselves perceive the similarity between their ideas and those of the mythologists, and are not ashamed:

"DEMIGOD. . .By addnig the prefix demi, meaning half, to the word God gives us the title demigod, meaning literally half-god. Accordingly in pagan religions a demigod is assumed to be a divine or semi-divine being who is the offspring of a deity and a mortal. The interesting thing about this is that there are so many pagan legends in which gods are supposed to have cohabited with mortals with offspring of one kind or another being brought forth. Obviously these beliefs, encountered among apostate peoples, had their origin in the true account, first revealed to Adam, that God in due course would father his Only Begotten in the flesh." (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 190).
Up



Exalted Man

The idea that God is an exalted man is foundational to this religion:


  • "SON OF MAN. . .Christ is the Son of Man, meaning that his Father (the Eternal God!) is a Holy Man. 'In the language of Adam, Man of Holiness' is the name of God, 'and the name of his Only Begotten is the Son of Man, even Jesus Christ, a righteous Judge, who shall come in the meridian of time.' (Moses 6:57). Thus Christ is the Son of Man of Holiness or more briefly put, the Son of Man. . .for that God who is his Father is a Holy Man." (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, second edition, p. 742).


  • "ADAMIC LANGUAGE. . .For instance, the name of God the Father, in this original language, is Man of Holiness, signifying that he is a Holy Man and not a vague spiritual essence. (Moses 6:57)." (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, second edition, p. 19).


  • "MAN OF HOLINESS. . .God the Father is a Holy Man, an exalted, perfected, and glorified Person. Life eternal is gained through a knowledge of the nature and kind of being that he is. Hence, when he revealed himself to Father Adam, the first man, he chose words which, 'in the language of Adam,' identified him as 'Man of Holiness.' (Moses 6:57). By this name he signifies both his position as a Man and his status as the embodiment of holiness and perfection." (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 467).




Does this idea pass scriptural muster, or is it directly contradicted by the Bible?:



  • “God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?”
  • (Numbers 23:19).


  • “And also the Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent: for he is not a man, that he should repent.”
  • (1 Samuel 15:29).


  • “I will not execute the fierceness of My anger; I will not again destroy Ephraim.  For I am God, and not man, The Holy One in your midst; and I will not come with terror.
  • (Hosea 11:9).



This idea that God is a man who worked his way up the food chain is unhelpful, in that God is God "from everlasting to everlasting." God is eternal!

"Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God." (Psalm 90:2).
"Art thou not from everlasting, O LORD my God, mine Holy One? we shall not die. O LORD, thou hast ordained them for judgment; and, O mighty God, thou hast established them for correction." (Habbakuk 1:12).

"Thou art God," how long? Lately? No, "even from everlasting to everlasting." He does not change:

"For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed." (Malachi 3:6).




Rembrandt van Rijn, Head of Christ


Adam God

Another controversial doctrine is the 'Adam-God' doctrine:

"Having particular reference to his position as the patriarchal head of the human family — the first man, 'the first and oldest of all, the great, grand progenitor' — Adam is known as the Ancient of Days. (D. & C. 27:11; Teachings, pp. 157-159, 167-169). In this capacity he will yet sit in formal judgment upon 'ten thousand times ten thousand' of his posterity, and before him at Adam-ondi-Ahman will be brought the Son of Man to receive 'dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him.' (Dan. 7:9-14.)" (Mormon Doctrine, Bruce R. McConkie, p. 34).

Why is this controversial? For one thing, because Bible-believing Christians do not share the conception that God, man and angels are all various life-stages of one and the same organism. Rather, they make a sharp distinction. The Bible offers nothing but scorn for men self-promoted to godhood:



  • “Son of man, say unto the prince of Tyrus, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Because thine heart is lifted up, and thou hast said, I am a God, I sit in the seat of God, in the midst of the seas; yet thou art a man, and not God, though thou set thine heart as the heart of God:. . .Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Because thou hast set thine heart as the heart of God; Behold, therefore I will bring strangers upon thee, the terrible of the nations: and they shall draw their swords against the beauty of thy wisdom, and they shall defile thy brightness. They shall bring thee down to the pit, and thou shalt die the deaths of them that are slain in the midst of the seas. Wilt thou yet say before him that slayeth thee, I am God? but thou shalt be a man, and no God, in the hand of him that slayeth thee.
  • (Ezekiel 28:2-9).





Mormon Doctrine teaches that God, man, and for that matter angels, are all of the same race and nature: "Because angels are of the same race as man and God, it is with perfect logic that in the pure language spoken by Adam, they were designated as Anglo-man." (Mormon Doctrine, Bruce R. McConkie, second edition, p. 37); "Men and God are of the same race. . ." (Mormon Doctrine, Bruce R. McConkie, second edition, p. 744). The Bible to the contrary continually emphasizes God's grandeur, His height above mankind:



  • “Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance: behold, he taketh up the isles as a very little thing.
  • “And Lebanon is not sufficient to burn, nor the beasts thereof sufficient for a burnt offering.
  • “All nations before him are as nothing; and they are counted to him less than nothing, and vanity.”
  • (Isaiah 40:15-17).





Man is not on the same plane with God, but vastly lower:

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." (Isaiah 55:8-9).

Naming Adam as the "Ancient of Days" identifies Adam with God the Father, which is apparently what Brigham Young concluded. That Adam is the "Ancient of Days" whom Daniel saw is reiterated in this work a number of times: "Daniel wrote of the Son of Man being brought before the Ancient of Days (who is Adam, our Father, and there our Lord would have 'given him dominion. . .'" (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 694); "There Adam, the Ancient of Days, will sit in council with his children; there Christ will come, and to him shall be given 'dominion, and glory, and a kingdom. . .' (Daniel 7.)" (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 732). But the Ancient of Days is God the Father, there can be no question of that. Who created Adam? God the Father through the Son:

"And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is:. . .For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, for to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done." (Acts 4:24-28).

Adam is a creature, not the Creator; he is not the Ancient of Days, nor is he seated on a throne in heaven. The Bible objections to this identification are insurmountable, although not because there is any special Bible inhibition in using the word 'man' of God. Bruce McConkie is willing to use the mere title as proof that God is by nature no more than a glorified man: "God revealed himself to Adam by this name to signify that he is a Holy Man, a truth which man must know and comprehend if he is to become like God and inherit exaltation." (Mormon Doctrine, Bruce R. McConkie, second editiion, p. 29). The Bible itself says that God is a "man" ['ish'] of war: "The LORD is a man of war: the LORD is his name." (Exodus 15:3), but no Bible-believer will found a major heresy on a trivial point of language.

Theophanies are quite simple in Mormon theology; just look and see: ". . .in a theophany the Lord is seen in the same literal sense in which he was manifested to the ancient prophets." (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 790).




Instead of equating ourselves with God, a better attitude for us to take would be that of Abraham, the friend of God, who called himself "dust and ashes:"

"And Abraham answered and said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am but dust and ashes:. . ." (Genesis 18:27).

In rebuttal, Mormons point to the fact of the incarnation. But the incarnation was not a revealing that God after all has the same nature as man, but rather a new thing; God the Son took on a human nature, in addition to His own eternal divine nature.

For men to acclaim themselves gods is nothing new; the Prince of Tyre and the King of Babylon did it, Wallace D. Fard did it, and the late Kim Jong Il sometimes dipped his toe in the divinity pool, as did Father Divine. It was Satan's lying promise to Adam and Eve that they could be as gods.

The reason why the Bible teaches that Jesus is both God and man is not because the Bible authors share Joseph's confusion that these are somehow the same thing. The two natures are understood to be of altogether different character and origin, though joined in one person. Jesus, the God-man, does not receive His kingdom from any man, least of all from Adam. The incarnation is not the belated discovery that God has always been a man, but rather a new thing, God taking on flesh:




Heavenly Mother

Another controversial doctrine taught in 'Mormon Doctrine' is that we have a Heavenly Mother:



  • "Implicit in the Christian verity that all men are the spirit children of an Eternal Father is the usually unspoken truth that they are also the offspring of an Eternal Mother. An exalted and glorified Man of Holiness (Moses 6:57) could not be a Father unless a Woman of like glory, perfection, and holiness was associated with him as a Mother. The begetting of children makes a man a father and a woman a mother whether we are dealing with man in his mortal or immortal state." (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, second edition, p. 516).




If it really were the case that we are the offspring of a goddess, then it is simply impossible to understand why every effort to reach out to this party is so quickly slapped down in the Bible:



  • “The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead their dough, to make cakes to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto other gods, that they may provoke me to anger. Do they provoke me to anger? saith the LORD: do they not provoke themselves to the confusion of their own faces? Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, mine anger and my fury shall be poured out upon this place, upon man, and upon beast, and upon the trees of the field, and upon the fruit of the ground; and it shall burn, and shall not be quenched.”
  • (Jeremiah 7:18-20).




It is often assumed by secular scholarship that the pagans, who believed in female gods, and whose theology gnosticism carried forward into the Christian era, looked with more favor upon women's rights than did the orthodox, who knew of no female deities. Elaine Pagels bangs this drum, for instance. The novel religion of the Latter-day Saints is a good test case for this thesis, because Mormons acknowledge female deities like 'Heavenly Mother.' Are they especially sympathetic to women's rights, as the thesis proposes? In the Bible, salvation does not depend upon the good conduct of the relatives:

"The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him." (Ezekiel 18:20).

Mormons have not so much eliminated the doctrine of Hell as they have grayed it out; in its place they have elaborated degrees of exaltation. And guess what, a woman's hope for residence in these glorious mansions depends squarely upon the character of. . .her husband. She can be promoted to goddess by tagging along with her god-husband:

"QUEENS. . .If righteous men have power through the gospel and its crowning ordinance of celestial marriage to become kings and priests to rule in exaltation forever, it follows that the women by their side (without whom they cannot attain exaltation) will be queens and priestesses. (Rev. 1:6; 5:10). Exaltation grows out of the eternal union of a man and his wife. Of those whose marriage endures in eternity, the Lord says, 'Then shall they be gods' (D. & C. 132:20); that is, each of them, the man and the woman, will be a god. As such they will rule over their dominions forever." (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 613).
"Those women who go on to their exaltation, ruling and reigning with husbands who are kings and priests, will themselves be queens and priestesses. They will hold positions of power, authority, and preferment in eternity." (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 594).

Women who marry badly are out of luck. Men are in no comparable position, especially since the suppression of polygamy is understood to be a temporary expedient: "Obviously the holy practice will commence again after the Second Coming of the Son of Man and the ushering in of the millennium." (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 578). Tough luck, sister.

Unmarried persons constitute the servant class in eternity:

"Persons for whom the family unit continues become the sons of God, members of his family; those who remain unmarried in eternity will, as angels and not gods, be 'ministering servants, to minister for those who are worthy of a far more, and an exceeding, and an eternal weight of glory.'" (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 706).

So Paul, who was unmarried, gets to wait tables for Joseph and his friends in eternity: "I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I." (1 Corinthians 7:8).




Omnipresence, or Otherwise

'Omnipresence' is the characteristic of being present in all places simultaneously. The Bible ascribes this characteristic to God:



  • “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.”
  • (Psalm 139:7-10).



The limited god of the Latter-Day Saints does not possess this characteristic. Neither in historic Mormonism:

"'The Lord he is God in heaven above and upon the earth beneath; there is none else.' - Deut. iv. 39. Such a passage when referring to the person of God, should be understood the same as we would understand a similar expression concerning any earthly ruler: for instance, it can be said of her Majesty, she is queen in Great Britain and also in Canada, and there is none else; that is, there is none else that is queen in these two places. This would have no reference to her person being in these two places at the same time; it only shows that she should be the only acknowledged queen in these two places." (Absurdities of Immaterialism, Orson Pratt, 1849).

. . .nor to this day have they figured out that God is not God if He is limited by time and space:



  • "Though each God in the Godhead is a personage, separate and distinct from each of the others, yet they are 'one God' (Testimony of Three Witnesses in Book of Mormon), meaning that they are united as one in the attributes of perfection. . .Accordingly they all think, act, speak, and are alike in all things; and yet they are three separate and distinct entities. Each occupies space and is and can be in but one place at one time, but each has power and influence that is everywhere present. The oneness of the Gods is the same unity that should exist among the saints." (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, second edition, p. 319).




It is characteristic of all material things that they are here not there, that they have an inside and an outside, that there is a boundary line demarcating the limit between this thing and that thing. In making God (pardon me, "the Gods") a material being, they have willingly surrendered this essential attribute of deity.

The reader will have noticed the author does not believe in the doctrine of the Trinity, as Mormons invariably do not; as he states elsewhere: "ATHANASIAN CREED. . .Of it Elder James E. Talmage says: 'It would be difficult to conceive of a greater number of inconsistencies and contradictions expressed in words as few.' (Articles of Faith, p. 48)." (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 57). The 'Mormon Trinity' are three gods, marked off from the nearly infinite plethora of gods they believe to exist, who happen to agree with one another.

Racism

It is a pseudo-Biblical interpretation invented by racists to justify their crimes that the 'mark of Cain' was black skin.

"The Lord placed on Cain a mark of a dark skin, and he became the ancestor of the black race." (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 109)

"To illustrate: Cain, Ham, and the whole negro race have been cursed with a black skin, the mark of Cain, so they can be identified as a caste apart, a people with whom the other descendants of Adam should not intermarry." (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 114).

In reality there is no indication that "black skin" was the mark of Cain, nor even that the mark of Cain was inherited by his offspring. Whoever invented this fable was thinking, with Lamarck, that acquired characteristics are heritable. Christian denominations which flirted with this hateful way of thinking have abandoned it and repented, but this new religion cannot altogether abandon it, because those who taught it are held to be prophets.

In this they depart completely from the traditions of the church, one of whose early teachers was a man called 'Simeon the Black Guy:' "Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul." (Acts 13:1). (Of course, as they always point out in the case of Aesop, there are lots of reasons why somebody might be called that, for instance he might have worn a black bandanna, a black kilt, etc.).




Eternal Matter

Joseph Smith, not generally a well-read person, happened upon a book written by a classic nineteenth century materialist, and so Mormons are saddled with the nineteenth century materialist postulate that matter is eternal, neither created nor destroyed:

"There is no such thing as annihilation, no such thing as matter or element of any sort going out of existence. The elements are eternal; they may be organized and reorganized, but they cannot be destroyed." (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 39).

"That matter or element is self-existent and eternal in nature, creation being merely the organization and reorganization of that substance which 'was not created or made, neither indeed can be.' (D. & C. 93:29)." (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 589).

Modern-day materialists do not believe this: they believe rather in the conservation of matter and energy, inasmuch as anyone who has watched a video of a nuclear bomb going off has seen matter destroyed and transformed into energy. Moreover they do not as a rule believe that matter and energy as we know them pre-dated the Big Bang. Thus Mormons are stuck in a time-warp, believing in a form of materialism that no materialist now believes. They believe, for religious reasons, in an anti-religious doctrine!:



  • "ELEMENTS. . .Those natural or earthy substances of which the earth in all its parts is composed and which make up the physical or temporal bodies of all created things are called elements. They are of the earth, earthy (1 Cor. 15:44-48); they are to be distinguished from the more pure and refined substances of which spirit matter is composed (D. & C. 131:6-7). 'The elements are eternal,' the Lord says. . ." (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, second edition, p. 218).




Notice that, according to the Mormon view, spiritual beings are composed of matter also, albeit a more "refined" version than that which makes up the mud and mire in the street. It is "atheism" to think there is any immaterial existent being:

"At the other extreme, those who profess belief in the sectarian God are in a position at least akin to atheism for their God is defined in effect as an immaterial nothing." (Article Atheism, Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 59).

In other words, Mormons agree with the New Atheists that only matter is real. Joseph Smith had a ready, inquiring mind, but not one well-stocked. Any new information which crossed his path, whether from an Eastern European kabbalist, or a book written by a nineteenth century materialist, made a disproportionate impact on the vacuum it encountered.

In Mormon doctrine, it is 'atheism' to bow down and worship an immaterial God:



  • “IMMATERIALISTS ARE ATHEISTS.

  • “There are two classes of Atheists in the world. One class denies the existence of God in the most positive language: the other denies his existence in duration or space. . .
  • “The infidel says, There is no such substance as God. The Immaterialist says, There is such a substance as God, but it is "without Parts." (First of the Thirty Nine Articles; also i Art. Methodist Discipline.) The Atheist says, There is no such substance as Spirit. The Immaterialist says, "A Spirit, though he lives and acts, occupies no room, and fills no space, in the same way and after the same manner as matter, not even so much as does the minutest grain of sand.' . . .
  • “That which is "not extended and not divisible" and "without parts," cannot be anything else than nothing. Take away these qualities and conditions, and no power of language can give us the least idea of existence. The very idea conveyed by the term existence is something extended, divisible, and with parts. Take these away, and you take away existence itself. . . Therefore, it must be the negative of all existence, or what is called absolutely NOTHING. Nothing, and nothing only, is a representative of that which has no relation to space or time-that is, unextended, indivisible, and without parts. Therefore, the immaterialist is a religious Atheist; he only differs from the other classes of Atheists, by clothing an indivisible unextended NOTHING with the powers of a god. One class believes in no God; the other class believes that NOTHING is god, and worships it as such. There is no twisting away from this. The most profound philosopher in all the ranks of modern Christianity, cannot extricate the Immaterialists from atheism. He cannot show the least difference between the idea represented by the word nothing, and the idea represented by that which is unextended, indivisible, and without parts, having no relation to space or time. All the philosophers of the universe could not give a better or more correct definition of Nothing. And yet this is the god worshipped by the Church of England — the Methodists — and millions of other atheistical idolaters, according to their own definitions, as recorded in their respective articles of faith. . .
  • “Everything which the Immaterialist says, of the existence of Spirit, will apply without any variation, to the existence of Nothing. . . If he declares, that he is "unextended," so is Nothing. If he asserts that he is "indivisible" and "without parts," so is Nothing. If he declares that a spirit "occupies no room and fills no space," neither does Nothing. If he says a spirit is "Nowhere," so is Nothing. All that he affirms of the one, can, in like manner, and, with equal truth, be affirmed of the other. Indeed, they are only two words, each of which express precisely the same idea.”
  • (Absurdities of Immaterialism, Orson Pratt, 1849).



Christians believe God created the world from nothing; matter, therefore, cannot be eternal:

"In the third place a beginning may be that out of which a thing comes, the underlying matter from which things are formed. This, however, is the view of those who hold matter itself to be uncreated, a view which we believers cannot share, since we believe God to have made the things that are out of the things which are not, as the mother of the seven martyrs in the Maccabees teaches, and as the angel of repentance in the Shepherd inculcated." (Origen, Commentary on John's Gospel, Book 1, Chapter 18, p. 471, ECF_0_10).

"The object of our worship is the One God, He who by His commanding word, His arranging wisdom, His mighty power, brought forth from nothing this entire mass of our world, with all its array of elements, bodies, spirits, for the glory of His majesty; whence also the Greeks have bestowed on it the name of Cosmos." (Tertullian, Apology, Chapter 17).

"Without doubt, as all things were placed in order, arranged, and made by some artificer, so matter itself must of necessity have been formed by some being. Who, then, made it except God, to whose power all things are subject?" (Lactantius, The Divine Institutes, Book 1, Chapter 5).
"Let no one inquire of what materials God made these works so great and wonderful: for He made all things out of nothing." (Lactantius, The Divine Institutes, Book 2, Chapter 9).

Matter, therefore, is not eternal, having itself been created:




The materialists from whom the Mormons borrowed this conception, that only matter really exists, in general made no pretense of theism or belief in immortality. How to fit these new elements into such hostile surroundings? By recourse to absurdity: "If the material spirit be as small as Bishop Butler intimates, it will not occupy much room in the body. Many millions of millions of such spirits, if 'not larger in bulk than the elementary particles of bodies,' could occupy much less room that a cubic inch of space." (Absurdities of Immaterialism, Orson Pratt, 1849). No doubt by making the "material spirit" really, really tiny the Mormons have satisfactorily resolved all difficulties with their materialist theism.

That God created the world out of nothing is the consistent belief of the Christian church:

"While men, indeed, cannot make anything out of nothing, but only out of matter already existing, yet God is in this point prominently superior to men, that He Himself called into being the substance of His creation, when previously it had no existence." (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, Book 2, Chapter 10, Section 4, p. 737, ECF_0_01).

A more familiar 'theological' use of the nineteenth century concept of the indestructibility of matter is found in an atheist author like Edward Aveling:


Edward Aveling
 The Gospel of Evolution 

As should be apparent, if matter is eternal and uncreated, there is no such thing as a creation as Christians understand it:

"To create is to organize. It is an utterly false and uninspired notion to believe that the world or any other thing was created out of nothing or that any created thing can be destroyed in the sense of annihilation. 'The elements are eternal.' (D. & C. 93:33)." (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 169).

Nor is there any beginning; the world, uncreated and eternal, has ever been:

"There is no such thing as an ultimate beginning, a time prior to which there was nothing, any more than there ever can be an ending, a time past which there will be nothing. 'The elements are eternal.' (D. & C. 93:33)." (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 76).

There is a blatant contradiction here in Mormon doctrine, because Joseph Smith ascribes eternity to 'the intelligence of spirits,' but elsewhere withholds eternal subsistence from all of them, awarding this solely to matter: "Spirit element (that is, 'the intelligence of spirits') always existed. 'Is it logical to say that the intelligence of spirits is immortal, and yet that it had a beginning?' the Prophet asked. (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 76). 'Matter' has more of the characteristics of 'God' in this system than do the gods themselves, who are more like the super-heroes of the Saturday morning cartoons on TV. The 'gods' came into existence from non-existence: "All men were first born in pre-existence as the literal spirit offspring of God our Heavenly Father. This birth constituted the beginning of the human ego as a conscious identity." (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 84).

There are 'eternal' spirits yet unborn, who will come into existence in the future: "Spirits are actually born as the offspring of a Heavenly Father, a glorified and exalted Man. They will be born in a future eternity to future exalted beings for whom the family unit continues." (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 750). This contradiction is resolved by Mormon theologians in various ways. Some transfer 'eternity' to the process of procreation which brings new gods into existence; what is eternal is the way the lusty gods keep making baby gods. Our present author rather feebly transfers the 'eternity' to the 'elements' of which spirit beings are composed, as if 'intelligence' were some sort of building block.

Like the pagan gods of the ancient Greek pantheon, Mormon gods are born but never die. The pagan theologians used to wonder, if the world has ever been and gods are born but never die, then by this point why don't we have to push piles of gods aside to clear a path to walk down the side-walk? There is no God in this system who did not have a beginning, who did not come into being from non-existence, though we are given to understand the process of god-generation had no beginning, or if it did it was long ago and far away:

"If you could hie to Kolob
    In the twinkling of an eye,
And then continue onward
    With that same speed to fly,
D'ye think that you could ever,
    Through all eternity,
Find out the generation
    Where Gods began to be?
(Hymn 'If You Could Hie to Kolob,' by Elder WIlliam W. Phelps, quoted p. 225, Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine).

The task for Christians witnessing to Mormons is not so much to convince them that there is not a plurality of gods as they imagine, but rather to convince them that there is a God. One being who cannot not exist would be one more than they presently believe in, and thus, could they but be convinced of His existence, they would at least become theists:


Anselm's
Proslogium

Is Mormonism a Cult?

Does apostate Christendom's habit of calling Mormonism a 'cult' reflect bigotry, as charged? By their account, they are the true Christians, the gold standard:

"Since the Latter-day Saints believe the Book of Mormon — a volume which contains the fulness of the gospel, the same gospel which is in the Bible — they do not recoil from the designation of their views as Mormonism. Rather they take every honorable opportunity to herald these views to the world, for they are the pure, unadulterated Christianity of old. Momonism is Christianity; Christianity is Mormonism; they are one and the same, and they are not to be distinguished from each other in the minutest detail.. . Mormons are true Christians; their worship is the pure, unadulterated Christianity authored by Christ and accepted by Peter, James, and John and all the ancient saints." (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 513).



It is not obvious why the Mormons are so sensitive to the opinions of the apostate church, given that they continue to believe they are the one true church: "It follows that, as far as men now living are concerned, the only ones who have entered into covenants with the Lord are the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. . .the saints themselves are the only ones enjoying the companionship of the Holy Ghost so that personal revelation may be received." (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 166).

From the time when Utah renounced polygamy to gain entry into the United States, the Mormon leadership has shown a tender concern for the broader public opinion, co-existing however with a strange obtuseness as to just what the problem is. Reading newspaper complaints of 'bigotry' against Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, the reader is forced to conclude that our Mormon fellow-citizens have no idea in the world that polytheism is controversial; rather, they think it has something to do with underwear. Or maybe they have figured out that newspaper reporters are dumb enough to believe that.

It is difficult to understand how the Book of Mormon can contain the "fulness of the gospel," as Bruce McConkie effuses, when it omits to mention anything about polytheism, polygamy, eternal matter, or God's past history as a mere man, all understandings integral to the modern Mormon religion. Not only do Joseph Smith's later revelations contradict the Bible, they also contradict the Book of Mormon! The God of the Book of Mormon does not change:

"For I know that God is not a partial God, neither a changeable being; but he is unchangeable from all eternity to all eternity." (Book of Mormon, Moroni 8:18).

The God of the Book of Mormon is not a "changeable being," but the God of the King Follett Discourse came into existence at a point in time, thus changing from non-existence to existence, and subsequently changed from being a man to being a god. What being could be more "changeable" than such a newly-promoted god, nouveau-divine so to speak? Given the contradictions between the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith's later teaching, the protocol McConkie recommends for validating the Mormon religion is incoherent:

"As far as the printed word is concerned, men gain a testimony that the message is true by studying the Book of Mormon. That book is a witness of the divinity of Christ. . .Now if the Book of Mormon is true, then Joseph Smith was Prophet of God, for the book was translated from plates delivered to him by a resurrected being. . .Thus the whole message of the restoration stands or falls on the truth or falsity of the Book of Mormon." (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, pp. 487-488).

But if the Book of Mormon is true, then there is only One God, just as the Bible also testifies, and thus Joseph Smith's subsequent 'revelations' to the contrary are deception. The Book of Mormon cannot be called as a witness to the truth of doctrines contradictory to its own! While not myself perceiving the faux-Elizabethan English of the Book of Mormon as a token and guarantee of inspiration, if I did so perceive it, I would not abandon the law of contradiction: 'a' is not not-'a,'— simply because its young and restless author went on to other things, because,

"But the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD troubled him." (1 Samuel 16:14).

Bruce McConkie himself is aware of the problem in the case of Solomon, a man who prayed for, and received, God's wisdom, but then went off on his own:

"Solomon is the symbol of wisdom: 'I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart; so that there was none like thee before thee , neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee.' (1 Kings 3:12). . .But Solomon did not endure to the end; his wisdom vanished away. He apostatized from the Church, worshipped false gods, and incurred the wrath of a just God. (1 Kings 11)." (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 838).

In spite of realizing that the 'once inspired, always inspired' paradigm is not Biblical, Bruce McConkie evidently hopes no one will notice.

Polytheism

The 'original sin' of Mormonism is polytheism, the belief that there exist a plurality of gods accurately so described. The Bible vigorously condemns this belief, which is blandly asserted in Mormon Doctrine:

"Three separate personages — Father, Son, and Holy Ghost — comprise the Godhead. As each of these persons is a God, it is evident, from this standpoint alone, that a plurality of Gods exists. To us, speaking in the proper finite sense, these three are the only Gods we worship. But in addition there is an infinite number of holy personages, drawn from worlds without number, who have passed on to exaltation and are thus gods." (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, pp. 576-577).

Naturally any large assemblage must hold meetings to make sure everybody is on the same page. Disorganization amongst the gods would be unseemly, so they have conferences:



  • "COUNCIL IN HEAVEN. . .There were many meetings, conferences, councils, and schooling sessions held among the Gods and their spirit offspring in pre-existence. Among other things, at these various assemblages, plans were made for the creation and peopling of this earth and for the redemption and salvation of the offspring of Deity. . . Joseph Smith speaks of 'the head of the Gods' calling 'a council of the Gods' to arrange for the creation and peopling of the earth. (Teachings, pp. 348-349)." (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, second edition, p. 164).




No doubt the Gods must hold their councils and planning sessions, what could be worse than disorganization within the pantheon. McConkie goes on to explain that Jesus and Lucifer, Jesus' brother, both stepped forward to volunteer their services as Savior: "Two mighty spirits answered the call and volunteered their services." (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 164). Pre-existing one's mortal birth is no distinction in this system, we all do: "'I was in the beginning with the Father, and am the Firstborn,' Christ says of himself; and of all men, his spirit brethren, he says, 'Ye were also in the beginning with the Father.' (D. & C. 93:21-23)." (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 751). Jesus was accepted, Lucifer rejected, evidently on grounds that Jesus was an Arminian and Lucifer a Calvinist. Stung by this rebuff, Lucifer staged the rebellion recorded in John Milton's epic poem 'Paradise Lost' though strangely omitted from the Bible.




Gnolaum

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 "everlasting:"

"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 God.

"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 non-existence:

"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).

Ten Commandments

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:




Authority Figures

The new religion of the Latter-day Saints makes claims for its leadership that would make the Pope of the Roman Catholics blush. Their president is the earthly head of the kingdom of God:

"Upon the President of the Church the Almighty bestows the highest office and the greatest gifts that mortal man is capable of receiving. He is the earthly head of the kingdom of God. . ." (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 591).

God is obligated to speak through this person, who, like the Pope, is a prophet ex officio, whether He will or not:



  • "Any new revelation for the Church would, of course, be presented to the people by the President of the Church, he being the mouthpiece of God on earth. (D. & C. 21:1-7). 'Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.' (Amos 3:7)" (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, second edition, p. 606).