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Gospel Topics Chapter 12 Kline/Steenblik Part 1

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever
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July 4, 2021 9:55 pm

Gospel Topics Chapter 12 Kline/Steenblik Part 1

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever

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July 4, 2021 9:55 pm

In the final week of this 11-week series, Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson take a closer look at the chapter written by Caroline Kline and Rachel Hunt Steenblik in the book The LDS Gospel Topics Series. For a look at the entire series and articles written on each of the Gospel Topics essays, visit


Mormonism 101 for teens is a valuable resource for anyone wanting a simplified view of the Mormon religion from a Christian perspective. 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. We continue looking at the book, the LDS Gospel Topics Series, a scholarly engagement. Today we are going to be looking at Chapter 12, Mother in Heaven, a Feminist Perspective. This chapter is written by Carolyn Klein and Rachel Hunt Steenblick. According to the biography in the back, Rachel Hunt Steenblick is a Ph.D. student in philosophy of religion at Claremont Graduate University and has a B.A.

in philosophy. She has a B.A. in philosophy from Brigham Young University and an M.S.

in library and information science from Simmons College. Carolyn Klein earned her Ph.D. in religion at Claremont Graduate University and her areas of interest revolve around the intersections of Mormon and feminist theology and the study of contemporary Mormon women's communities. So we can see that this chapter is going to lean quite heavily towards their feminist perspective.

I'm surprised based on the topic matter of this chapter, but let's look at what they have to say in the first paragraph that starts on page 303. The doctrine of Heavenly Mother holds enormous potential for LDS women, though this potential has been largely unrealized. Unlike most other Christian traditions which affirm a genderless, amorphous deity, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints posits a sexed, embodied Heavenly Mother and Father. I'll stop right there because when they talk about an embodied Heavenly Mother and Father, naturally that takes us to section 130, verse 22 in the Doctrine and Covenants, where Joseph Smith clearly states that God has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man's.

I appreciate that they're making a distinction between what the position is of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as opposed to what Christians have historically believed, because Christians have not historically believed that God has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man's. They continue, the existence of this embodied female deity is crucial for LDS women since she, and she is capitalized as the pronouns are throughout the article, she stands as the eternal exemplar of LDS women's own divine destinies. Let me stop you there, Eric, because when they say the existence of this embodied female deity is crucial for LDS women, I find it a bit difficult for me to try and rebut that statement. This is certainly a position that the authors hold, but how do we really know it's crucial for LDS women? I'm sure it's crucial for LDS women who are of the mindset of a Caroline Klein and a Rachel Hunt Steenblak, but I have to be quite honest in talking with LDS women, I can't recall ever bringing this subject up in the course of a discussion, because quite frankly, I want to get right to what I think really matters most, and that is where they are in light of eternity, not so much whether or not a Heavenly Mother exists. But then I would also argue that I haven't seen a lot of articles on this subject in official publications, and I think these two would argue, well, that's because they've basically been censored for having a position like that. So is it really crucial for LDS women? I don't know how to argue against that.

It could be, I guess, maybe it isn't. And this is only speaking of the position that these two authors have. We don't normally run across Mormon feminists, but a couple of years ago I did, there was a group of LDS women out at the BYU football game outside, and they were handing out some different materials. I had a chance to talk to one of them, and for her, this is a very big issue. But I'm going to suggest, as you're, I think, intimating here, Bill, that most LDS women are probably not thinking this is the most important issue for them and their theology and their belief in the LDS Church. I'm going to think that perhaps, and we don't have anything to back us up, but most LDS women, this is not the top issue that they're going to be so concerned with, as are Klein and Steenblick. Well, and I think one of the reasons why is because as we get into this chapter, it becomes very apparent that these two authors really don't care what the current leadership says about this subject. I don't think that's a position most LDS women have. I don't really think that's a position that most LDS members have.

They look to their leadership with a very high amount of respect and duty in believing what they are being told by these men that are in authority in the Church. I don't get that from this chapter from these two authors, Klein and Steenblick. So if that is a big issue, it's kind of hard for us to know. I'm sure that the circles that these two authors trade in, probably that's what they talk about all the time, and maybe they think that is a big issue.

I don't know. I just found the word crucial in that sentence to stand out for me. They continue, Well, let me stop you again. They start off in this sentence, if Heavenly Mother exists. Now, I don't think for a minute that they're using the word if as if there's any doubt in their mind whether or not a Heavenly Mother does exist. I think these two authors are very firm in their commitment and belief that yes, Heavenly Father is married to a Heavenly Mother. They're not at all, in my opinion, doubting that. But I think we should talk about Heavenly Mother's existence since we're this far into this paragraph.

Where does this come from? And that's what's amazing to me, because when you look at the book Mormon Doctrine by Bruce R. McConkie, who was a Mormon apostle in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he makes this statement, and it goes back to the question that I raised at the beginning of this program. On page 516, he writes, Catch that phrase, folks, the unspoken truth.

Now, these two authors have built, in their opinion, a huge doctrinal platform regarding an individual that is part of what McConkie says is an unspoken truth. There is no mention of Heavenly Mother in Mormon Scripture, unique to Mormon Scripture, as there is no mention of a Heavenly Mother in either the Old or the New Testament. When this starts to spring up, the authors are going to argue that it goes back to Joseph Smith, but this is not what we find McConkie saying. He says that this doctrine, that there is a Heavenly Mother, was affirmed in plainness by the First Presidency of the Church.

And the First Presidency at this time was Joseph F. Smith, the sixth President of the Church. Interesting, he's got to go clear to the sixth President of the Church to get a reference for the point he's trying to make. Joseph F. Smith, John R. Winder, and Anthony H. Lund, when, in speaking of pre-existence and the origin of man, they said that, that man is the, quote, offspring of celestial parentage, end quote, and that, quote, all men and women are in the similitude of the universal Father and Mother and are literally the sons and daughters of deity, end quote. And this is a citation from the book Man, His Origin, and Destiny between pages 348 and 355. Well, on page 351 of the book they cite, it says at the bottom, all men and women are in the similitude of the universal Father and Mother and are literally the sons and daughters of deity. What we see from this, as I said earlier, is a whole doctrinal platform built on something that really has no scriptural evidence. It's just something that the leadership in the Church thought must be true, because in order to have literal spirit children in the pre-existence, you have to have a father and a mother, because here in mortality to have children, physical children, you have to have a father and a mother. And they assume from that, that that must be how it is in the spiritual realm. Well, do you notice that, as you mentioned, they're referring to the first presidency of the sixth president, Joseph F. Smith. Now, that is a long ways off and ignoring the first five. However, there's another citation from Apostle Neil A. Maxwell in his book, Things as They Really Are, page 67, and he actually takes it back one previous president.

Listen to what he says. In other dispensations, the truths given to us through modern prophets about a heavenly mother were not stressed, so far as surviving records show. But in this dispensation, the Lord gave us this doctrinal truth through a prophet, Lorenzo Snow, whose sister Eliza R. Snow expressed it in her poem, Oh My Father. I find it interesting that, okay, maybe it's the sixth president, maybe it's the fifth president, but nobody's making the argumentation that John Taylor or Wilford Woodruff, these other presidents, ever taught it. Now, these women are going to suggest that Joseph Smith did teach it, but if he taught it and the other next three don't, that seems to be pretty strange.

Well, you mentioned Eliza Roxy Snow, which, by the way, was a plural wife of Joseph Smith, and the poem that she wrote, Oh My Father, was written in 1843. Let me just read you from that poem. In the heavens are parents single. No, the thought makes reason stare. Truth is reason.

Truth eternal. Tells me I've a mother there. So obviously, she is making the case that if we have a father, we must have a mother. Now, this is a woman, Eliza Roxy Snow, who was not a general authority in the church. It's not to say that she probably didn't have some convincing elements on her brother, Lorenzo Snow, who was the fifth president of the church. But do we see this doctrine being voted on as so many Latter-day Saints try to wiggle their way out of some of the more confusing and silly teachings that maybe Brigham Young brought about? You know how quick they are to say, well, Adam, God, it was never voted on, even though you had a number of Mormon leaders verifying that they believed it to be true.

Why is it we don't see it with this? It's interesting, whenever you bring up the idea of God and who was his God and who was his God and talk about as man is, God once was, the Lorenzo Snow couplet, if you refer to that to a Latter-day Saint, what are they going to respond with? That's just speculation. In essence, isn't Heavenly Mother just speculation? These two authors don't want to take it to that limit.

They want to take it all the way. And their big argument is, if in fact Heavenly Mother is deity, and they're going to talk about that in this chapter, then why isn't she being worshipped and prayed to, just as they worship and pray to Heavenly Father? If you would like more information regarding Mormonism Research Ministry, we encourage you to visit our website at, where you can request our free newsletter, Mormonism Researched. We hope you will join us again as we look at another viewpoint on Mormonism.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-09-24 20:31:55 / 2023-09-24 20:36:49 / 5

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