Part 2 of McMurrin’s ‘The Theological Foundations of the Mormon Religion’ has to do with the concept of God. Once again I will ignore the historical background and the comparisons McMurrin makes with Catholic and Protestant belief, and will only focus on the Mormon theology.

Section 7 (continued from part 1) deals with creation. Mormonism denies creation ex nihilo which supports its finitistic theology. The Mormon scriptures assert that the elements are eternal, and that they were not and can not be created. In this case the term ‘eternal’ refers to something that never began rather that some state of timelessness. It is common for Mormons to state that God organized the world out of materials that already existed. Mormons realize that in the traditional Christian world this belief is somewhat unorthodox, but deny that the traditional Christian doctrines are demanded by the Bible.

Section 8 considers God as Absolute or Finite. The Mormon concept of God is quite finite. This is based mainly on the personalistic and anthropomorphic description of God, and in the denial of ultimate and absolute creation out of nothing. Mormons do move sometimes ambiguously between the more emotional absolutism and the more rational and logical finitism. This is a failure to recognize the demands of their own theology and the strength of that theology, and comes from a tendency towards biblical literalism and rhetorical Christian orthodoxy.

In Mormonism, God is described as a non-absolute being who is related to and conditioned by the universe of which he is part. And because of the denial of absolute creation out of nothing, the world is not under his absolute control or dominion. The Mormon deity is part of the continuing process of reality, and determines the world’s configuration. God’s environment is the universe, which consist of the minds of individuals who are not identified with him, the principles of reality, and the value absolutes which govern the divine will. For Mormons then, God is finite rather than absolute.

Section 9 addresses Time and Eternity. In the theological context ‘eternal’ can refer to the quality of being ‘timeless’. In this sense something that is eternal would not have a past, present, or future. It would not be involved in any type of process. In this sense Mormonism denies an eternal God. The Mormon concept of a material or temporal God demands that God is somewhere, and that he is sometime. In this way God has a past, present and future. He is involved in the processes of the world. This gives meaning to events from the perspective of God. God is not placed in some absolute ‘above’ or ‘without’ space and time but right there in the ongoing processes of the universe. This theology has a beauty and power which is not fully appreciated.

Section 10 is on Nominalism and Materialism. Mormonism is both nominalistic and materialistic in its view of God. Mormonism tends to the particular and concrete in its concept of reality. It is direct, highly literal, and positivistic and tends to be suspicious of the abstract and recondite. This is evidenced in the Mormon denial of the doctrine of the trinity set forth by the Nicene Creed. Mormonism is tritheistic in regards to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. The unity or oneness of the Godhead is not an internal thing where the individuals dissolve their ontological independence, but is an external relationship involving a total agreement of will and purpose. For Mormons, God DOES have a body, parts, and passions.

Section 11 is on Natural Theology. Mormonism is largely based on the claims of revelation to Joseph Smith and subsequent prophets. And there is an element of Mormonism that views philosophical and theological efforts with suspicion. Yet, for Mormons there is also the belief that the world and the universe are knowable, and in the ultimate sense there is not a need to accept paradoxes or maintain a doctrine of mysteries. The limitations are that of human reason. There is also the optimism of future revelation.

Continue reading at the original source →