Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Contrast LDS Beliefs about God with the Nicene Creed Beliefs about God.

Here are some statements of LDS beliefs about God. 

God the Father by Cima da Conegliano, c. 1515. I love this loving rendition of Heavenly Father! 

Heavenly Father is a separate being from Jesus and the Holy Ghost 

“We declare it is self-evident from the scriptures that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are separate persons, three divine beings” (Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, “The Only True God and Jesus Christ Whom He Hath Sent,” Ensign Nov. 2007, 41).

Heavenly Father is an Exalted Man

“God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder Heavens!  If you were to see him today, you would see him like a man in form – like yourselves in all the person, image and very form as a man.”  (Joseph Smith, History of the Church, 6:305)

How Familiar Heavenly Father is to us

“If we could see our Father who dwells in the Heavens, we would learn that we are as well acquainted with him as we are with our earthly father...We would be ready to embrace him and fall upon his neck and kiss him, if we had the privilege.”  (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, 8:30)

You will be sorry you didn’t try harder

“When you find out who you are, you will be sorry you didn’t try harder."  (President Eyring, as quoted on March 21, 2006 BYU Devotional, “Understand Who You Are”, Elder Robert C. Oaks)

Nothing is going to startle us more

“Nothing is going to startle us more when we pass through the veil to the other side than to realize how well we know our Father and how familiar his face is to us.”  (President Ezra Taft Benson, Ensign, Dec 1988, p.6)

We are his child all of the time

“You are His child all the time, not just when you are good, you are his child when you are bad.  You have within you a portion of Divinity that is real and tremendous and marvelous and wonderful.”  (President Gordon B. Hinckley, Church News, April 27, 1996)

God is cheerful

“I am perfectly satisfied that my Father and my God is a cheerful, pleasant, lively, and good-natured being…He is a jovial, lively person, and a beautiful man.”  (Heber C. Kimball, Journal of Discourses, Volume 4:222)

Explanation of each member of the Godhead from D&C and Church History Seminary Teacher Manual, page 466-467)  

“God the Father: It is generally the Father, or Elohim, who is referred to by the title God. He is called the Father because He is the father of our spirits. … God the Father is the supreme ruler of the universe. He is all powerful … , all knowing … , and everywhere present through his Spirit. … Mankind has a special relationship to God that sets man apart from all other created things: men and women are God’s spirit children. …

“God the Son: The God known as Jehovah is the Son, Jesus Christ. … Jesus works under the direction of the Father and is in complete harmony with him. All mankind are His brothers and sisters, for He is the eldest of the spirit children of Elohim. [He is the Redeemer who suffered the sins and pains of all mankind and overcame physical death for all.] …

“God the Holy Ghost: The Holy Ghost is also a God and is called the Holy Spirit, the Spirit, and the Spirit of God, among other similar names and titles [such as the Comforter]. With the aid of the Holy Ghost, man can know the will of God the Father and know that Jesus is the Christ” (Guide to the Scriptures, “God, Godhead,” The primary role of the Holy Ghost is to bear witness of God the Father and Jesus Christ. The Holy Ghost teaches and confirms truth.

Icon depicting the Emperor Constantineand the bishops of the First Council of Nicaea (325) holding the Niceno–Constantinopolitan Creed of 381. From Wikipedia

Now contrast the above descriptions of the Godhead with the Nicene Creed description of the Godhead.

President Gordon B. Hinckley:

“For centuries men gathered and argued concerning the nature of Deity. Constantine assembled scholars of various factions at Nicaea in the year 325. After two months of bitter debate, they compromised on a definition which for generations has been the doctrinal statement among Christians concerning the Godhead.  I invite you to read that definition…

“Compare [The Nicene Creed] with the statement of the boy Joseph. He simply says that God stood before him and spoke to him. Joseph could see Him and could hear Him. He was in form like a man, a being of substance. Beside Him was the resurrected Lord, a separate being, whom He introduced as His Beloved Son and with whom Joseph also spoke. “I submit that in the short time of that remarkable vision Joseph learned more concerning Deity than all of the scholars and clerics of the past.” (“The Great Things Which God Has Revealed,” Liahona, May 2005.) 

Here is the Nicene Crede for you to read. (There are varying versions.)

“We believe in one God the Father All-sovereign, maker of all things. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, begotten of the Father, only-begotten, that is, of the substance of the Father, God of God, Light of Light, true God of true God, begotten not made, of one substance with the Father, through whom all things were made, things in heaven and things on the earth; who for us men and for our salvation came down and was made flesh, and became man, suffered, and rose on the third day, ascended into the heavens, and is coming to judge living and dead. And in the Holy Spirit.”

Here is what Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said about our belief compared with the Nicene Creed. 

“Our first and foremost article of faith in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is ‘We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost’ [Articles of Faith 1:1]. We believe these three divine persons constituting a single Godhead are united in purpose, in manner, in testimony, in mission. We believe Them to be filled with the same godly sense of mercy and love, justice and grace, patience, forgiveness, and redemption. I think it is accurate to say we believe They are one in every significant and eternal aspect imaginable except believing Them to be three persons combined in one substance, a Trinitarian notion never set forth in the scriptures because it is not true.

“Indeed no less a source than the stalwart Harper’s Bible Dictionary records that ‘the formal doctrine of the Trinity as it was defined by the great church councils of the fourth and fifth centuries is not to be found in the [New Testament]’ [Paul F. Achtemeier, ed. (1985), 1099; emphasis added].

“So any criticism that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does not hold the contemporary Christian view of God, Jesus, and the Holy Ghost is not a comment about our commitment to Christ but rather a recognition (accurate, I might add) that our view of the Godhead breaks with post–New Testament Christian history and returns to the doctrine taught by Jesus Himself. …

“We declare it is self-evident from the scriptures that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are separate persons, three divine beings” (“The Only True God and Jesus Christ Whom He Hath Sent,” Ensign, Nov. 2007, 40, 41).

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