Also, To provide context for the brief discussion that follows, please keep in mind the question posed by CARM’s Theo1689 to Mormons who may make the dire mistake of visiting CARM’s discussion forums:
1) Why do you believe in “plural gods”, when the Bible teaches monotheism (Deut. 4:35,39, 1 Kings 8:60, Isa. 43:10, 44:6,8, 45:5,21,22, 46:9, John 17:3, 1 Cor. 8:4-6, etc.)?
That early Israelite religion was henotheistic is nearly beyond dispute. Henotheism, of course, is the position that reverence is paid to one god while still acknowledging the existence of other gods or divine beings. This is distinctly different from polytheism where reverence is paid to multiple gods simultaneously. Clear examples of polytheism can be found in the pantheons of both Greece and Rome. Early Israelite religion was not polytheistic. The highest reverence was given YHWH (rendered the LORD) while the existence of other divine beings was clearly acknowledged.
It is with keen interest that I have watched a recent discussion at the Mormon Apologetics and Discussion Board (MADB) regarding the translation process Joseph Smith used to dictate the Book of Mormon and so-called “Truth in Advertising” ethics.
In short, Jeff Ricks, the founder of postmormon.org, and Wade Englund, a long-time defender of the Mormon Church, are discussing the ethics of the Church using specific artwork depicting the Book of Mormon translation process in proselyting efforts generally, and in the Church’s recent Truth Restored campaign, specifically.
If you have not read my previous post on Theo1689, it may be helpful for you to browse what I have written there to provide context for what I discuss here.
Before seeking to answer Theo1689’s questions about Mormon doctrine and dogma as it relates to the Biblical text, it is important to put a few things in context. First, we must acknowledge that Mormonism, just like all religions, is a living organism. It changes and adapts over time. Some dogmas, which were emphasized even as few as 10 – 20 years ago, are not spoken of much today. Second, it must be understood that Mormonism has no official creed. This can make it extremely difficult to pin down exactly what is, and what is not, Mormon doctrine or dogma – especially on ancillary issues or speculative points. Third, Mormonism is not evangelical Christianity. It does not claim to be evangelical Christianity nor does it claim to be constrained by the biblical text.
On to Theo’s first question:
Why do you believe in “plural gods”, when the Bible teaches monotheism (Deut. 4:35,39, 1 Kings 8:60, Isa. 43:10, 44:6,8, 45:5,21,22, 46:9, John 17:3, 1 Cor. 8:4-6, etc.)?
The first thing I would like to address is Theo’s statement that “the Bible teaches monotheism.” This would seem to imply that the Bible is a monolithic autograph that expresses singular meaning, without ambiguity, throughout. This is simply not the case. The Bible is a collection of 66 (73 in Catholic Bibles) individual and distinct books. Some of these books are clearly related to each other while others have no apparent relation at all. Very few share the same author and other than the letters of Paul (which the exception of Hebrews), book authorship is ambiguous at best. Thus to claim that the Bible, as a whole, teaches anything consistent throughout is to ignore the very nature of the text itself.