Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The God of Mormonism Is Not a Kindly, Bearded Old Man

If there's a God it seems to me it's got to be something else and not just a kindly bearded elderly man above and apart from earth where He sees all and knows all.

I saw the quote above on a group blog.  The following is my response:

I actually agree with that, and that is not a description of the God I choose to worship.

Frankly, within Christianity, Mormonism is perhaps the only denomination with enough elasticity in the overall theology to have God be more complex than just a figure like what the sentence above describes. Having said that, even the description above is more complex than the Calvinist puppet master who saves or damns us according to his exclusive and arbitrary will - and more complex than Voltaire's watch maker who initiates creation and sits back to watch it tick/tock through time - but there is a place for a MUCH more complex view of Godhood in Mormonism, since the very concept of Godhood and creation and spiritual evolution within Mormonism is one of the core reasons we are labeled as non-Christian by so many.

I mean that seriously. Where else but in Mormonism would it be even conceivable for someone to speak of a belief in a council of Gods who collectively collaborate to create spirit children (whatever that means)? Where else but in Mormonism would it even be conceivable for someone to speak of sealing God's children into such a collaborative work - where participation in eternal creation in a state of "Godhood" is a possibility (whatever that means)? Where else but in Mormonism would it be even conceivable to posit us as inheritors of godly glory - as "heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ"? That last description is taken straight from the Bible, but where else but in Mormonism is it taken seriously as an indication of our relationship to divinity?

Mormon theology doesn't describe God as a "kindly bearded elderly man" - even if the visual image we have in the temple suggests that. Mormon theology describes a damner of the most wicked - and a rewarded of obedience - and a loving Father - and a just judge - and a refiner through fire - and a weeping creator. It describes a very complex "personage" who is "perfect" (meaning complete, whole and fully developed - the embodiment of ALL emotions, for example, in their fullness) - in ways that no other Christian theology even comes close to approximating.

We catch a glimpse of that even in the temple when we see God interacting with Lucifer, but we see it much more clearly throughout the entirety of our canon, in my opinion.

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