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Rob Bowman on the Trinity Part 4

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever
The Truth Network Radio
January 27, 2021 8:43 pm

Rob Bowman on the Trinity Part 4

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever

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One member is examining the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints from a biblical perspective view .1 Mormonism sponsored by Mormonism research ministry since 1979 Mormonism research ministry has been dedicated to equipping the body of Christ with answers regarding the Christian faith in a manner that expresses gentleness and respect. And now, your host for today's viewpoint on Mormonism are things that Adams wrote them for that musical introduction welcome to the sedition viewpoint on Mormonism on your host Bill McKeever Felder director Mormonism research ministry with me today is my good friend Dr. Rob Bowman.

Rob has written a number of articles dealing with the subject of the Trinity. He received his PhD in biblical studies at the South African theological seminary and for 10 years. He was the executive director of the Institute for religious research and Robbie had mentioned in an earlier show what I want to mention it again you have a number of articles that are still on the IRR.org website. So if people wanted to get more information on this and other topics they can go there and get that as well. Correct. That is correct.

The reason why want to have Rob on the show was because as I said, he's written a number of articles and spoken on this subject numerous times dealing with this very important doctrine of the Trinity, and in light of the fact that there was an article posted on the desperate news in the church. New section by Dr. Daniel Peterson and Dr. Daniel Peterson is the professor of Islamic studies in Arabic at Brigham Young University. He's also an established Mormon apologist and he's discussed a number of issues dealing with Mormon theology, but he wrote an article called defending the faith where the disagreement lies as I mentioned earlier, this is posted on April 19, 2018 is not a brand-new article but is not even a brand-new subject with Dr. Peterson, that's for sure. And as you said Rob this article encapsulates a lot of things that he is written about on this topic. In times past and and I think that's good for our listeners because sometimes they can get a little bit too wordy and a little bit too heavy and sometimes very confusing when it's on the radio but let me just go through this.

This is what Dr. Peterson says in the opening lines of his piece, a fundamental disagreement between latter-day St. Christianity and mainstream Christianity concerns the doctrine of the Trinity. Both outsiders and members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints themselves commonly say Mormons reject the doctrine that then he goes on to say, but this isn't quite true. And it's important to be precise about where the actual disagreement lies, and then he gives five points for the what he calls the mainstream Trinitarian understanding through these five points. They are the father is God the son is God the Holy Ghost or Holy Spirit is God the father is not the son. The son is not the Holy Ghost and the Holy Ghost is not the father point number five. There is one God, and in only one God. That's what I want to talk about today in his piece. He cites Joseph Smith, a famous sermon that Joseph Smith gave towards the end of his life on June 16, 1844 it was called the sermon in the growth. This is what Dr. Peterson writes Robbie says I have always, he said on June 16, 1844, less than two weeks before his assassination.

Quote declared God to be a distinct personage Jesus Christ as separate and distinct personage from God the father and that the Holy Ghost was a distinct personage and a spirit and these three constitute three distinct personages and three gods any siding this from the history of the church, volume 6, page 74.

I was amazed. Well, I probably should have been amazed but I was surprised that Dr. Peterson through this quotation in there because certainly I was thinking about it as I'm reading all of the other things he had to say. But just a few paragraphs earlier Rob. He says latter-day St. Scripture declares there is one and only one God, and certainly the book of Mormon does do that, but he gives the impression that they believe that there is one and only one God because he says after listing those five points in the fifth point is there is one God and only one God.

Both mainstream Christians and latter-day Saints except all five statements. This is where it can be very confusing to most Christians that are engaging their LDS counterparts. What about the statement where Joseph Smith says that these three constitute three distinct personages and three gods, what would that mean to someone like Dr. Peterson well is a really is a really big question there because there's a lot underneath this statement that needs to be unpacked. Joseph Smith was in this particular sermon arguing that God the father himself had a divine father who came before him, and was his God before he was God and so what Joseph is doing here is he is teasing out one of the implications of his idea that he advanced in the King Follett discourse that gods are beings like us who ascend or become exalted to godhood in a process that is open to us as well. And God the father himself.

According to Joseph in the King Follett discourse was once a man like us and he became a God he hasn't always been God but he became a God, and the implication of course is that the same thing would be true of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. But Joseph goes further and says that it's also true of you. You can become God's you're supposed to become God's that's what you're here for to make progress toward this exultation to godhood like all the gods that came before you. The implication of that is that there are other gods, even besides the father son and Holy Ghost and Joseph begins teasing out that implication.

In this sermon at the Grove where he says the father has a God that's above him and the implication of course is there's no ceiling apparently there's God's all the way up her all the way down half you want to look at it.

There is no beginning to this that we can see there could be a grandfather God and a great-grandfather God and so on and so on.

Will this is the doctrine that has sometimes been called the doctrine of eternal progression. There's huge theological implications here that goes way beyond what Dr. Peterson actually acknowledges in this article he makes it sound like the difference between orthodox Christianity and its doctrine the Trinity and the LDS doctrine is we just agree on whether the father son and Holy Spirit are one being, or are one in purpose. That's the big conclusion that he drives to at the very end, but it's a much bigger deal than that it's a question of what is it mean to be God. What is a God and is that a category that you could potentially join if you just do what you're supposed to do and follow the rules of the church and eventually become exalted.

Can you become part of that circle of the gods.

The Mormon answer is yes and the Christian answer is no and so were dealing with not just in a different definition of the Trinity were dealing with a different worldview. It's as radical a difference in belief systems as you could possibly imagine. And we should mention that the King Follett discourse that you were talking about was a funeral sermon that Joseph Smith gave her a man whose name was King Follett life. Many times you hear King Follett you think of the title King and that I wasn't the chaos that his name was okay. Yeah, right. And you can find this in the teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, as well as the Journal of discourses let's get on with Peterson's statements here were getting towards the end of it, where he says so how is it that mainstream Christians Latter Day Saints both except the five propositions that ground the traditional Christian doctrine of the Trinity. Yet Latter Day Saints reject that traditional doctrine that sounds like a self refuting statement but anyway he goes on to say clearly the difference comes down to exactly what each group understands when it asserts as both groups do that. There is one and only one God. But then he finishes it out by saying this Joseph Smith's use of the phrase three gods quote" in his statement from June 1844 that we just looked at is important here. He says Latter Day Saints and mainstream Christians use the term one: quote in dramatically different ways Mormons insist on perfect divine unity in mind and will traditional trinitarianism drawing a concept from ancient Greek philosophy adds to that the unity of substance in an important sense, there is truly only one God, but father son and Holy Ghost are distinct individuals and Joseph was therefore not afraid in another sense to term them. Three gods. This makes my head hurt and I'm sure a lot of Christians reading this it's going to have the same effect on them to do now that writing is like paying attention. I think you said. I mean, it sounds like a huge contradiction, because normally when we say that there is only one God, we mean there is only one singular God and as Dr. Peterson has admitted here by citing Joseph Smith in his sermon in the Grove from June 16, 1844 that these three constitute three gods, so they're saying there what there's one God, but at the same time. The same three God and they say were confusing.

Well, apparently what Peterson is arguing is that there is a sense in which there is only one God and there is another sense in which there are three gods. The term God here. Apparently changes meaning or significance, depending on whether you say there's one God, or three God's that's the best construction I can put on what he saying that he's admitting that both kinds of statements are in the Mormon authoritative statements because the statement in the sermon. The Grove is clearly an authoritative statement from the founding prophet Joseph Smith.

His last public discourse before he died.

You know they can't throw it out.

So, to his credit, Peterson doesn't throw it out, but he doesn't explain the back story theologically of what Joseph is doing in the sermon which I tried to explain a little bit here, let me just make this point God in Mormonism is not the supreme absolute creator of all that exists, other than himself, rather God in Mormon theology in the Mormon worldview is a kind of being a category of being that has arrived at a certain level of completion or fullness of glory and power and knowledge that you can also reach if you follow the right path in Mormonism God is an open category into which beings can join in which there are already an unknown number of beings, not just three but we also to be honest you have to include heavenly mother. She's a God. And then there might be other gods besides those and so really Mormonism has a plurality of God's concept that is an open category of deity into which you can join now traditional Christianity as well as in Judaism and Islam. By the way, God is a closed category of one and only one member, or being that is properly termed God and he has always been God.

He cannot be anything other than God. He exists necessarily and eternally as the only true God and he makes everything else out of nothing that's basic monotheism as taught in traditional Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, and that concept of God is rejected by Mormonism. So when Mormon say we believe in one God.

They don't mean one the same way we do, and they don't mean God the same way we do. We been talking with Rob Bowman if you want to read more of what Rob has written on this and other subjects. I encourage you strongly to go to Robert Bowman.Nat and tomorrow were going to complete this series on this topic. Looking at an article written by Dr. Daniel Peterson titled defending the faith where the disagreement lies.

Thank you for listening. If you would like more information regarding his research ministry.

We encourage you to visit our website at www.mrm.org you can request a free newsletter Mormonism research. We hope you will join us again as we look at another viewpoint is


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