(First Things) Stephen Webb—Mormonism Obsessed with Christ

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The eternal embodiment of the divine is metaphysically audacious, and it explains why Mormonism is so inventive. Mormon metaphysics is Christian metaphysics minus Origen and Augustine—in other words, Christianity divorced from Plato. Mormons are so materialistic that they insist that the same unchanging laws govern both the natural and the supernatural. They also deny the virgin birth, since their materialism leads them to speculate that Jesus is literally begotten by the immortal Father rather than conceived by the Holy Spirit.

By treating the spiritual as a dimension of the material, Smith overcomes every trace of dualism between this world and the next. Matter is perfectible because it is one of the perfections of the divine. Even heaven is merely another kind of galaxy, far away but not radically different from planet earth. For Mormons, our natural loyalties and loves have an eternal significance, which is why marriages will be preserved in heaven. Our bodies are literally temples of the divine, which is why Mormons wear sacred garments underneath regular clothing.

This should not be taken lightly. The Mormon metaphysic calls for the revision of nearly every Christian belief. Still, not all heresies are equally perilous. If Gnosticism is the paradigmatic modern temptation—spiritualizing Jesus by turning him into a subjective experience—Mormonism runs in the exact opposite direction. If you had to choose between a Jesus whose body is eternal and a Jesus whose divinity is trivial (as in many modern theological portraits), I hope it would be an easy choice.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsMormons* TheologyAnthropologyThe Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit

3 Comments
Posted January 20, 2012 at 5:00 am

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1. Alta Californian wrote:

All the better that one day people of our own world may be obsessed with us. No, Professor Webb, it may be an attractive heresy, with adherents who are genuinely good and decent people, but its fundamental cosmology is blasphemous. I have had long discussions with Mormons well versed in their theology and I came to the conclusion (not lightly) that it is fundamentally satanic, because the ultimate goal is to be gods on equivalence with YHWH. This is precisely the rebellion begun by Satan and the essential basis of the Fall. This argument that “they’re not gnostic, so they must be okay” is insane. LDS theology legitimizes the worst of sins, and cannot be considered Christian in any sense.

I find there is much to admire about the LDS: their integrity, perseverance, community values, commitment to history. Smith was a scoundrel, polygamy was a scandal, but they did not deserve the persecution they received, and I personally believe that what they have built in Utah should be the envy of the world (a heroic pioneer journey that has resulted in a genuinely pleasant place). But their theology is what it is - vile heresy and blasphemy.  I think Webb has studied Mormonism so long he’s suffering from Stockholm Syndrome.

January 20, 6:48 pm | [comment link]
2. Katherine wrote:

This summary of Mormon cosmology makes it clear that the Mormon myth cannot answer the ultimate questions about existence, and doesn’t try to.  Who or what created everything that is?  Was it a coalition of the once-man-now-gods of Mormon theology?  Are the gods-to-be (current living Mormons) therefore inferior to the original set because they did not participate in the creation?  It also requires, like Islam, belief that an alternate “revelation” is more reliable than the revelation in the Bible, since it contradicts the Bible on several crucial points.

But it’s true that most Mormons will insist they love Jesus Christ.  He’s just not the same Jesus Christ whom we know.

January 20, 7:24 pm | [comment link]
3. BlueOntario wrote:

Wow.
“And if Smith’s stories are not true, aren’t they more like exaggerations or embellishments than outright slander and deceit?”
In a word, no. Joseph Smith was a deceiver.

January 21, 12:08 am | [comment link]


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