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Question

 

Gramps,

Do Mormons adopt some kind of panentheism or pantheism?

Salah

 

Answer

 

Dear Salah,

I would like to thank you for your question and I hope I can take the time to illustrate who GOD is!

Through all generations of time, the human mind has had the need to understand what and who God is. There have been many minds who have given their best effort to interpret the origin and nature of God, and have made that attempt in diverse ways as well as tenets.

So, with all of these, I hope that I can share with you why we believe the way we do, and I hope you’re patient enough to read through to the end and come up with your own conclusion as to whether or not we have adopted either panentheism or pantheism in our core beliefs:

What do members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe in?

The best place to start with regards knowing what the members of the Church of Jesus Christ believe in, is reading and understanding the articles of faith.

What are the Articles of Faith?

‘The Articles of Faith outline 13 basic points of belief of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Prophet Joseph Smith first wrote them in a letter to John Wentworth, a newspaper editor, in response to Mr. Wentworth’s request to know what members of the Church believed. They were subsequently published in Church periodicals. They are now regarded as scripture and included in the Pearl of Great Price.”

The first Article of Faith reads:

  •  1 We believe in Godthe Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.

I strongly believe that there was no coincidence in making this claim first: to state that we believe in God the Father, in Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son and in the Holy Ghost.

So, our religious view of deity is this:

“Many people believe in or at least wonder about the existence of a supreme power or being. Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe firmly in the literal existence of that Supreme Being, whom we call God. He is the Being we worship and revere as omnipotent and omniscient. As Christians, we believe in the Godhead, which is comprised of God the Father, His Son, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost. However, unlike many other Christian denominations who believe that these three members are part of one ethereal entity, we believe that the members of the Godhead are separate beings united in purpose rather than form. We also believe that God the Father and Jesus Christ both have glorified physical bodies, and that our own bodies are created in God’s image. One of the most fundamental and dearly-held convictions of Latter-day Saints is that God is our Father—the Father of our spirits and the Creator of our bodies. As such, we believe that He loves us infinitely and desires our eternal happiness. We each have, as part of our divine heritage, the potential to progress and become like Him. It is with that goal in mind that we believe He created the earth and authored the Plan of Salvation, in which mortality is a crucial component of our learning and growth. We seek to follow that Plan by coming to know God, obeying His commandments, and striving to attain His attributes. Just as we develop earthly relationships through communication and active service, we can come to know God as we speak to Him in prayer and hear His words in the scriptures, in the counsel of latter-day prophets and apostles, and in the quiet promptings of the Holy Ghost. We can also see His influence in the miraculous complexity and beauty of the world around us. Furthermore, as we strive to be obedient to His commandments, we come to recognize His love and wisdom in a personal way. The Latter-day Saint understanding of the nature of God is rooted in beliefs about the Restoration of the gospel, which began with the prophet Joseph Smith and continues through revelation given to current prophets and apostles. It includes the testimonies of God contained in the Book of Mormon”

Now, let’s look a little deeper as to who God the Father is:

In the first vision, Joseph Smith, as mentioned above, saw God the Father and introduced His Son even Jesus Christ.

Joseph Smith—History 1

So, God The Father, covers all: He is omniscient (Gen. 18:191 Sam. 2:31 Chr. 28:9Rom. 11:332 Ne. 9:20Morm. 8:17D&C 127:2Moro. 7:22) and Omnipotent (Gen. 18:14Alma 26:35D&C 19:1–3), not only is He the creator and governor of this universe, but also knows it all up to and including every particle that lies within His creations.

Thank you again for your question and please do know I appreciate your enquiries.

Gramps

11 While I was laboring under the extreme difficulties caused by the contests of these parties of religionists, I was one day reading the Epistle of Jamesfirst chapter and fifth verse, which reads: If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.

 

12 Never did any passage of scripture come with more power to the heart of man than this did at this time to mine. It seemed to enter with great force into every feeling of my heart. I reflected on it again and again, knowing that if any person needed wisdom from God, I did; for how to act I did not know, and unless I could get more wisdom than I then had, I would never know; for the teachers of religion of the different sects understood the same passages of scripture so differently as to destroy all confidence in settling the question by an appeal to the Bible.

 

13 At length I came to the conclusion that I must either remain in darkness and confusion, or else I must do as James directs, that is, ask of God. I at length came to the determination to “ask of God,” concluding that if he gave wisdom to them that lacked wisdom, and would give liberally, and not upbraid, I might venture.

 

14 So, in accordance with this, my determination to ask of God, I retired to the woods to make the attempt. It was on the morning of a beautiful, clear day, early in the spring of eighteen hundred and twenty. It was the first time in my life that I had made such an attempt, for amidst all my anxieties I had never as yet made the attempt to pray vocally.

 

15 After I had retired to the place where I had previously designed to go, having looked around me, and finding myself alone, I kneeled down and began to offer up the desires of my heart to God. I had scarcely done so, when immediately I was seized upon by some power which entirely overcame me, and had such an astonishing influence over me as to bind my tongue so that I could not speak. Thick darkness gathered around me, and it seemed to me for a time as if I were doomed to sudden destruction.

 

16 But, exerting all my powers to call upon God to deliver me out of the power of this enemy which had seized upon me, and at the very moment when I was ready to sink into despair and abandon myself to destruction—not to an imaginary ruin, but to the power of some actual being from the unseen world, who had such marvelous power as I had never before felt in any being—just at this moment of great alarm, I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me.

 

17 It no sooner appeared than I found myself delivered from the enemy which held me bound. When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!

 

18 My object in going to inquire of the Lord was to know which of all the sects was right, that I might know which to join. No sooner, therefore, did I get possession of myself, so as to be able to speak, than I asked the Personages who stood above me in the light, which of all the sects was right (for at this time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong)—and which I should join.

Through this revelation, not only did Joseph receive an answer to his question, but we all (humanity) received further light and knowledge which enabled us to know the character of God himself. Let’s delve through what some of those answers are:

Joseph Smith’s First Vision in 1820 immediately clarified misunderstandings about the nature of the Godhead as well as what type of person God the Father:

• God the Father is a distinct personage, separate from the Lord Jesus Christ.

• God the Father looks like a man, as does His Son—who is our Savior.

• God the Father can speak and move.

• God the Father knows individuals by name.

• God the Father hears and answers prayers.

• God the Father bears witness of His Son.

• Satan and his power are real, but God’s power is greater.

President Ezra Taft Benson said about this event, the following:

The appearance of God the Father and his Son Jesus Christ to the boy prophet [Joseph Smith] is the greatest event that has occurred in this world since the resurrection of the Master. [Ezra Taft Benson, “Life Is Eternal,” Ensign, June 1971, 34]

Furthermore, I feel the need to clarify this; Jesus Christ Himself stated that “…I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.”.

So, we can see that Jesus Christ was always teaching his disciples to worship God His Father and that He was sent in His name, but, the unique and holy calling He was sent to earth by was to save and redeem His children.

By now, I hope you are getting a clearer idea as to what exactly is our belief with regards the type of theology we subscribe to.

Let me finish by sharing a quote from one my most favorite authorities: Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve stated:

God is known only by revelation; he stands revealed or remains forever unknown. He cannot be discovered in the laboratory, or by viewing all immensity through giant telescopes, or by cataloging all the laws of nature that do or have existed. A knowledge of his powers and the laws of nature which he has ordained does not reveal his personality and attributes to men in the true gospel sense. Certainly a knowledge of these laws and powers enables man to learn truths which are faith promoting and which help him to understand more about Deity; but saving knowledge of God comes only by revelation from the Holy Ghost as a consequence of obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel.

 

Man’s purpose in life is to learn the nature and kind of being that God is, and then, by conformity to his laws and ordinances, to progress to that high state of exaltation wherein man becomes perfect as the Father is perfect. [MD, s.v. “God,” 318] (emphasis added)

So, God The Father, covers all: He is omniscient (Gen. 18:191 Sam. 2:31 Chr. 28:9Rom. 11:332 Ne. 9:20Morm. 8:17D&C 127:2Moro. 7:22) and Omnipotent (Gen. 18:14Alma 26:35D&C 19:1–3), not only is He the creator and governor of this universe, but also knows it all up to and including every particle that lies within His creations.

Thank you again for your question and please do know I appreciate your enquiries.

 

Gramps

 

 

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