Mormonism and the council of gods
This dialogue is the second one with the Mormon named "Larry." The first one is Mormonism, works, and the LDS temple ceremony. It dealt with works' righteousness and the Temple Ceremony. This dialogue also occured in private, not in a public chat room, so I requested permission to post it on CARM. He agreed.
In this dialogue, Larry tries to defend the idea of Mormon polytheism.
Larry: So how did you get into the whole counter-cult business.
Matt: God called me into it. Before I was saved, I saw a painting of [Joseph] Smith in the forest--kneeling. I must have been 8. I asked about it (it was at a restaurant in Utah). The waitress explained it to me. [The painting is a well-known one depicting Joseph Smith as a boy kneeling and praying in a forest with a beam of light shining on him]. I thought it was great. But . . . I can still remember staring at that painting. The more I stared at it, the more I knew something was wrong. I didn't know what; I just knew something was wrong. Then, later, I met Jesus . . . personally. He came to me in person. I couldn't see him or touch him; but he was there, incredibly THERE. [To read my testimony including this event please check out My Testimony]. When I read how Smith boasted he did more than Jesus to keep a church together, I KNEW that he had NEVER met Jesus. Anyone who HAD ever met Jesus could NEVER EVER boast in any way that they did more than Jesus.
Larry: I've played more Nintendo than Jesus
Matt: Also, years later, the Lord gave me a verse through several unrelated circumstances. It was 2 Tim. 2:15. After that, my interest in the Bible exploded . . . Here I am.
Larry: Ok . . . now answer my question. How did you get into the counter-cult BUSINESS.
Matt: It isn't a business.
Larry: Yeah it is.
Matt: It is a ministry.
Matt: There is nothing wrong with being paid from your labors--is there?
Larry: Nothing is wrong.
Matt: The LDS church is a business.
Larry: In some aspects it is.
Matt: 2nd richest corporation west of the Mississippi next to Bank of America. THAT is a business.
Larry: Big difference though
Matt: Yeah, I know. The LDS church brings in billions through its business investments.
Larry: How much do you pay for a book of Mormon?
Matt: I pay about a buck.
Matt: But, it all comes down to this.
Matt: What does the Bible SAY? It says that God is not a man from another planet, etc. Mormonism is still wrong.
Larry: Actually . . . its says nothing
Matt: Yes it does.
Larry: Especially considering the worldview of the Israelites.
Matt: It says "from everlasting to everlasting, though art God." (Psalm 90:2). That means that God was never a man.
Larry: Not so.
Matt: Yes, so.
Larry: The Israelite worldview had a different view of time.
Matt: So, everlasting doesn't mean everlasting?
Larry: The word translated 'everlasting' did NOT mean a limitless time. But rather an indefinite period of time
Matt: So it really means that God had a beginning as a man on another planet?
Larry: I didn't say that. I just said it says NOTHING. Try listening.
Matt: So, when God says that there were NO gods formed before Him and there will be none formed after Him (Isaiah 43:10), what does that really mean?
Larry: Creation of idols. False gods.
Matt: I see, so there were no idol gods created before God, and there will be no idol gods created after God?
Larry: Try studying up on Israelite views of time and space.
Matt: Can you just answer my last question? So there were no idol gods created before God, and there will be no idol gods created after God?
Larry: Sorry. I should rephrase what I said. It's by way of commandment to the Israelites.
Matt: So, when God says in Isaiah 44:6 that there is NO God besides HIM, what does that really mean? Remember, God says that He doesn't even KNOW of any other gods (Isaiah 44:8).
Larry: It's referring to his position in the council.
Matt: It is?
Matt: Where does it say that? Can you show me in the Bible where it is referring to the council of Gods?
Larry: Yup. Psalm 82. Mentions the gathering of the elyon. Amos 3:7. There are others as well. I don't remember all of the references.
Matt: Hold on. First of all, Psalm 82 doesn't say there are other gods or a council of Gods. Amos 3:7 simply says, "Surely the Lord God does nothing unless He reveals His secret counsel to His servants the prophets." [It is great having a computer Bible program for posting verses].
Larry: Psalm 82:1, Yes, the congregation. But what is the congregation? a congregation of Gods? Assembly of the elyon (might gods)
Matt: If that were the case, then why would God say he didn't even KNOW of any other Gods (Isaiah 44:8)? The word there is not elyon but elohim, and it has several meanings: Gods, judges, angels, etc., depending on context. Nevertheless, God says that he doesn't even KNOW of any other gods (Isaiah 44:8). If there is a council of gods (reminds me of Greek mythology), then why does God say that He doesn't even know of any others?
Larry: Whoops. Council of el. Judging among the elohim. Literally 'gods.'
Matt: Ok, it is el there; and it can mean "god, god-like one, mighty one, 1a) mighty men, men of rank, mighty heroes; 1b) angels; 1c) god, false god, (demons, imaginations); 1d) God, the one true God, Jehovah; 2) mighty things in nature; 3) strength, power," (Enhanced Strong's Lexicon, Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1995).
Larry: Just like I only have one dad, one president.
Matt: Again, I ask you. God says that He doesn't even KNOW of any other gods (Isaiah 44:8). If there is a council of gods, then why does God say that He doesn't even know of any others? If there is a council of Gods, then God would know about it, don't you think? But He says He doesn't even KNOW of any other gods. Deut. 4:35, "To you it was shown that you might know that the Lord, He is God; there is no other besides Him." 1 Sam. 2:2, "There is no one holy like the Lord, Indeed, there is no one besides Thee, Nor is there any rock like our God."
Larry: You don't listen. You don't study. You just blah blah blah blah.
Matt: Yes, I do listen; and I do study. I have repeatedly asked you a question that you have not answered.
Larry: I HAVE ANSWERED IT
Matt: God says that he doesn't even KNOW of any other gods (Isaiah 44:8). If there is a council of gods, then why does God say that He doesn't even know of any others?
Larry: Do you know what the documentary hypothesis is?
Matt: Yes, it is the Graf-Welhausen theory also known as JEDP, http://www.carm.org/Bible/jedp_a.htm.
Larry: Ok. So you understand that different theological views are present in the Bible? Just like I only have one dad. One President.
Matt: That isn't an answer to my question. Where is your answer to God saying that He does not even KNOW of any other Gods? Also, I reject the JEDP theory, http://www.carm.org/Bible/jedp_b.htm.
Larry: That's too bad.
Matt: Please answer the question I asked about Isaiah 44:8.
Larry: Ok. Here it is again.
Larry: Now as I answer it. please refrain from blahing the same thing over and over and over again. In light of the acknowledgement of other actual 'gods' throughout the OT . . . Yahweh is saying that there is no other god of worship. He is their god. Just as I only have one father, Israel had only one god. My dad knows of no other 'Larry's dad'.
Matt: There are no other actual gods in the OT. If there were, why would God say that He alone is God (Isaiah 45:5), that there was no God formed before Him (Isaiah 43:10), and that He doesn't even KNOW of any other gods (Isaiah 44:8)?
Larry: See . . . there you go again.
Matt: The Bible acknowledges those that are CALLED gods (1 Cor. 8:5) that are not, by nature, gods at all (Gal. 4:8). How is saying that you have one dad and one president an answer to my question about Isaiah 44:8 where God says that He doesn't even know of any other gods and when I ask you how God could say that if there was a council of gods around?
Do you mind if I put this dialogue on CARM as well?
Larry: Nearly every scholar of the Hebrew scriptures acknowledges the existence of other actual 'gods' in the texts.
Matt: I don't buy that for a second.
Larry: Do some studying.
Matt: You make profound statements that cannot be verified.
Larry: They can.
Matt: I have done my studies. I have a Masters of Divinity from a graduate level seminary
Larry: Then you should know.
Matt: I know about the liberal "scholars," but I also know what the Bible actually SAYS; and you still have not answered my question. AND . . . again, I want to put this dialogue on CARM. Do I have your permission to do so?
Larry: Go right ahead.
Larry: No . . . you know what you INTERPRET the Bible to say. And when the Bible acknowledges the existence of other actual 'gods' I believe that too.
Matt: When God says that He doesn't know of any other gods, then I conclude that God doesn't know of any other gods. When God says that there were no gods formed before Him and there will be none formed after Him, then I conclude that there were no gods formed before Him, and there will be none formed after Him.
Larry: If you don't want to believe the whole of the Bible . . . that's cool. Believe what you want.
Matt: How am I interpreting the Bible apart from what it actually says? I believe what the Bible says.
Larry: No you don't
Larry: You need to believe the Bible dude.
Matt: I am not believing in a host of gods, a goddess wife, etc. You are.
Larry: Why don't you believe in the Bible?
Matt: Why don't YOU believe the Bible?
Larry: I do . . . you don't believe in the Bible.
Matt: Well, there you have it. You will not repent due to your Mormon presuppositions.
Larry: I repent all of the time.
Matt: You add into God's word a host of gods and believe in what Smith told you.
Larry: No. I believe what God has told me.
Matt: I will trust what God says in Isaiah 43:10; 44:6, 8.
Larry: And will trust in what god said in ALL of the Bible.
Matt: That is what I do. But, I don't have to change its meaning to get it to agree with what my church teaches.
Larry: If you wanna pick out verses and only believe those . . . that's cool . . . that's your choice. You should believe all of the Bible though. It's god's words
Matt: I believe what it says.
Larry: You should also believe in Jesus
Matt: I am not trusting in a god from another planet who has a goddess wife and is about six feet tall as Mormonism teaches.
Larry: Then don't.
Matt: I believe in Jesus--not the Mormon Jesus who is the brother of the devil begotten through relations between god and his goddess wife who both used to be people on another world.
Larry: Many early Christians believed that Jesus and Satan were brothers. But oh well. We could argue all these things all day long.
Matt: You mean Christians used to believe that they were LITERAL brothers?
Larry: Literally spirit brothers.
Matt: If they were literal brothers, then who was their mother and father?
Larry: Just like you and I are brothers.
Matt: We are not brothers.
Larry: God the father was Jesus' father.
Matt: You mean the LITERAL father?
Larry: Paul said we were all the offspring of god, saints and gentiles. Look.. neither of us are going to sway the other. You are set in your ways. And I am open to all truth.
Matt: Gal. 3:29, "And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abrahams offspring, heirs according to promise." And, I am set on following the real Jesus--not the brother of the devil.
Larry: Do you deny that Paul said that we were all the offspring of god? Both saints and gentiles?
Matt: Show me the verse so I might look at it in context. As I showed you, Paul said we are Abraham's offspring. So, he is using that term in a representative since Abraham is not my literal father.
Larry: Just a sec.
Matt: Let me help you out. Acts 17:29, "Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and mans device." [I did a search on my Bible program, found it, and inserted it here]. Paul is referring to non-Biblical poets and simply using their metaphor as an example to them, so that they might receive the gospel. He is not saying that we are the LITERAL offspring of God.
Larry: Paul said we are his offspring.
Matt: And Paul was referencing Aratus, a Greek poet.
Larry: But I guess you decide for Paul what he meant to be figurative or literal.
Matt: And Paul also says in Gal. 3:29 that we are the offspring of Abraham.
Matt: Are you going to tell me that we are the literal offspring of Abraham, now?
Matt: Or does Paul use the term figuratively? Acts 17:28 is where Paul references Aratus the Greek poet. THEN v. 29 he says that we are the offspring of God as Aratus said. He is using a tool--something they are familiar with.
Larry: I believe that through conversion we become a part of Abraham's posterity. Not only that . . . but why does Paul use such a tool? To teach them that we are the same 'genos' as god.
Matt: So, if it means that we are Abraham's posterity, then it doesn't mean we are his offspring . . . as Paul SAID, right? Or are you now picking and choosing what the word means? Rom. 8 is where Paul teaches that we are the children of God by adoption.
Larry: Look . . . as I said before . . . neither of us are going to sway the other. I really don't care to argue.
Matt: I have answered you at every point.
Larry: I've gone over all this stuff with a bunch of people over and over and over.
Matt: And you are still a Mormon? Wow.
Matt: You really WANT to believe it, don't you? That is the issue; and until you find the real Jesus, you'll never know what the truth is.
Larry: I believe I have. You believe I haven't.
Matt: I know you haven't. I know I have.
Larry: Good for you
Matt: My testimony of this is extremely strong.
Larry: Same for me. Of course. you will deny that.
Matt: Yes, of course.
Larry: Or say it is from Satan and all that prideful blah blah blah.
Matt: Yes, again. Except it is not pride--it is truth. God says that He knows of no other gods (Isaiah 44:8). I believe He doesn't.
Larry: You've met Dan Petersen haven't you? And you shut him down . . . didn't you?
Matt: I did not debate him . . . if it is who I think it is.
Larry: I don't think you'd dare.
Matt: Oh, yes, I would.
Matt: I'd debate him anytime.
Larry: I'd love to see that.
Matt: Me, too. Contact him. Arrange it. I'll be there. I'd be glad to debate him. Anyway, look, I have to go.
As you can see, it is a problem for Mormons to address the issue of God not knowing of any other gods. Unfortunately for this Mormon, he cannot see what the Bible really says. To him, it teaches many gods. We can only pray that the Holy Spirit will open his mind, so he would find the true God.
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