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Gospel Topics Chapter 12 Kline/Steenblik Part 2

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever
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July 5, 2021 9:03 pm

Gospel Topics Chapter 12 Kline/Steenblik Part 2

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever

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July 5, 2021 9:03 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


Viewpoint on Mormonism, the program that examines the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from a Biblical perspective. Viewpoint on Mormonism is 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. I'm your host, Bill McKeever, founder and director of Mormonism Research Ministry, and with me today is Eric Johnson, my colleague at MRM. We are looking at Chapter 12 in the book, the LDS Gospel Topics Series, a scholarly engagement. This is a chapter titled, Mother in Heaven, a Feminist Perspective, written by two authors, Carolyn Klein and Rachel Hunt Steenblick.

And I want to go back and talk a little bit more about this. explain why we are taking so much time going through this book is because we feel that the Gospel Topics essays, being as quote-unquote transparent as they are, make for excellent material if you want to share what we believe as Christians with what your LDS acquaintance may believe. The reason being, these essays have been sanctioned by the leadership of the Church. They are standing behind these essays, even though the essays themselves were written anonymously. This book is a response to what we believe in.

So we're going to continue looking at the first paragraph that is found on page 303. Well, in yesterday's show, Eric, I was citing Mormon apostle Bruce R. McConkie, who speaks of this doctrine as an unspoken truth. In other words, folks, this portion that Eric just read, there's nothing in Mormon scripture that mentions Heavenly Mother, so it would kind of make sense that she's not mentioned in a lot of other things.

But the fact that she's not mentioned, don't you think that should raise at least some eyebrows? I mean, I cited Bruce McConkie yesterday, but Charles Harrell, who wrote a book on Mormon doctrine, he basically concurs with what Bruce McConkie said on page 516 of his book Mormon Doctrine. On page 138, Harrell says, the doctrine that God, through a procreative act involving a Heavenly Mother, is the literal father of our spirits, expresses the most fundamental and important relationship between God and humankind in LDS theology. Surprisingly, however, nowhere is this doctrine explicitly taught in any of the standard works, neither is it found in any of Joseph Smith's recorded teachings.

However, that Smith ever spoke publicly on this subject, although the two authors are going to mention private conversations to women on the very next page. But on page 303, they write, Now, Eric, when I read that word empowerment, and I'm going to be quite honest with you folks, I have a real problem with that word, especially when it speaks to Christians at large. This word empowerment seems to be quite the antithesis of the humility that is taught in the New Testament. So when I hear even professing Christians who talk about feminine empowerment, you seem to be contrary to that. I'm not contradicting the message of the New Testament, but I want to take this a little bit further in this context. The authors just spent a number of lines in this paragraph talking about how Heavenly Mother is absent from very important aspects of Mormon theology, including the temple rituals, the vast majority, they say, of church leader sermons and church curriculum, Mormon scripture.

She's not found there. And in general, the consciousness of most LDS members. But yet, they say that Heavenly Mother stands as a potentially powerful symbol of female empowerment?

Well, if she hasn't been able to overcome these obstacles over all these years, what kind of empowerment does she really have if she exists at all? You mentioned that this is not an attitude that the Bible talks about Christians having, or should have at least, and I immediately thought of John the Baptist in John chapter 3. The Gospel of John, this is what is written, it says, They came to John and said to him, Rabbi, that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan, the one you testified about, look, he is baptizing and everyone is going to him. So his disciples were a little ruffled that everybody's going to Jesus, and here's John the Baptist, John, you're a great man. This is what John says, A person can receive only what is given them from heaven.

You yourselves can testify that I said, I am not the Messiah, but I am sent ahead of him. The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom's voice.

That joy is mine, and it is now complete. He must become greater, I must become less. The one who comes from above is above all.

The one who is from the earth belongs to the earth and speaks as one from the earth. The one who comes from heaven is above all. Bill, isn't that the purpose of being a Christian, is to bring all the glory that we might deserve, we think, in our own minds, but then to hand it over to God, because He's the one who wants that glory. And here we have an example of John, Jesus' cousin, promoting an act of humility when it comes to the person of Jesus himself. And I don't get the impression from reading this chapter that these two authors really have much respect for Jesus at all, because even though the leaders seem to point to Jesus' example in the New Testament regarding who's prayed to and so forth, these two authors don't care. Who cares what Jesus said?

Who cares what Jesus did? We want what we think Joseph said, and what Joseph did. They would much rather have Joseph than Jesus, especially in this context here. On page 304, they continue, It makes sense that the Institutional Church composed a very brief Gospel Topics essay on the subject of Heavenly Mother entitled, Mother in Heaven in the Fall of 2015.

Well, let's go back to a statement that is in the sentences that you just read, when it says, Did you get the impression from reading this chapter, Eric, that these two authors probably think that very thing? Isn't that blasphemous to think that this imaginary figure that is a huge part of Mormon theology is somehow truly God, equal to God the Father? That, I hope, would be problematic for any Christian who's reading this. And if that is true, then would it mean that Heavenly Mother is greater than Jesus? Because in Mormonism, Heavenly Father is the one that we pray to. He's the one that's to be worshipped.

You don't pray or worship Jesus in that sense. Well, if we're not giving her the due respect, she should be above Jesus. Bill, we can move over to page 306, and this is what the authors write, Now, there's something that we can take away from this, and that is more than once they point out the briefness of this essay. They say spending two of its six paragraphs, six paragraphs, were in this essay. As they're bemoaning the fact that Heavenly Mother is kind of ambiguous and not giving the credit to her, even the essay itself, by its length or lack of length, seems to do the same thing.

So you have to, I guess, walk away with the idea that these two authors probably saw that as an insult as well. Now, I read the quote from Harold, and he talked about, there is what he said, But here, they're talking about the secondary evidence where Joseph Smith supposedly told a woman, Zina, Diana Huntington, that they would meet their Heavenly Mother. But I think about, okay, he told a woman named Zina, who they don't mention in the essay, that was one of Joseph Smith's plural wives. That doesn't seem to me to be a very strong case, because Joseph Smith said a lot of things to his potential plural wives that were not true. And so was Eliza Roxy Snow. She was a plural wife of Joseph Smith.

So let me see if I understand you correctly. Are you hinting, Eric, that maybe Joseph Smith was telling these women something they wanted to hear, because he wanted something from those women? Why wouldn't that be possible? Can we rule that out with a surety?

I don't know, but it seems like that would be a question that should be raised in this whole discussion also. On the bottom of page 307 it says the essay's treatment of the Church's doctrine of Heavenly Mother is startling brief, a mere six paragraphs. However, despite his brevity, the essay accomplishes a number of important tasks in our feminist perspective. Namely, it affirms her existence and even capitalizes her name, downplays the possibility of multiple Heavenly Mothers, affirms her somewhat equal status, and steers away from folk doctrinal explanations about Heavenly Mother being too sacred to discuss.

This essay therefore lays groundwork for more inclusive LDS God rhetoric in the future. In looking at that statement when, again, she's complaining about mere six paragraphs, downplays the possibility of multiple Heavenly Mothers. Why would these two authors be excited that this essay seems to downplay the notion that there's a number of Heavenly Mothers? Why wouldn't that kind of play into their whole worldview? I mean, they're going to be a Heavenly Mother on their own world, are they not?

I would think that that would be kind of important to them. And then what do you do with all the statements from early Mormon leaders during the polygamous years, where leaders were talking about Heavenly Mothers, plural, and even arguing that there would have to be Heavenly Mothers, given the fact that, as some believed, there was a nine-month gestation period for these children to be born, and you would need multiple wives in order to populate a world that has as many people on it at that time as it had. In tomorrow's show, we're going to continue looking at Chapter 12, Mother in Heaven, a Feminist Perspective. Visit us 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 15:49:17 / 2023-09-24 15:53:40 / 4

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