Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Man's Potential to Become like his Heavenly Parents

We teach what the Bible mentions as man's potential to become like his heavenly parent. This is not a new concept and was shared by some of the earliest of Christians; (before the Nicean Creed) The concept of Theosis has existed long before that group of philosopher's got together to declare that God is TOO big to understand or too dogmatic. I, for one, choose to believe that God is literally our father in heaven. He is the father of Spirits. Jesus Christ called him, "Abba" which interpreted literally means, "Daddy or Papa"
and we were encouraged to do the same while being members of the covenant... not that being a member gives us some sort of right but it means we acknowledge that he LITERALLY is the father of spirits.
(Compare Rom. 8: 15-18, Galatians 4:6)

Here, below, are examples of men who shared a similar belief that we as latter-day saints do and they did so WELL before God was declared TOO dogmatic for men to dare comprehend:

(This information was found at: http://en.fairmormon.org/Nature_of_God/Deification_of_man )

Irenaeus (ca. AD 115-202)

Saint Irenaeus, who may justly be called the first Biblical theologian among the ancient Christians, was a disciple of the great Polycarp, who was a direct disciple of John the Revelator. Irenaeus is not a heretic or unorthodox in traditional Christian circles, yet he shares a belief in theosis:

While man gradually advances and mounts towards perfection; that is, he approaches the eternal. The eternal is perfect; and this is God. Man has first to come into being, then to progress, and by progressing come to manhood, and having reached manhood to increase, and thus increasing to persevere, and persevering to be glorified, and thus see his Lord.

Like the LDS, Irenaeus did not believe that this belief in any way displaced God, Christ, or the Holy Ghost:

there is none other called God by the Scriptures except the Father of all, and the Son, and those who possess the adoption....Since, therefore, this is sure and stedfast, that no other God or Lord was announced by the Spirit, except Him who, as God, rules over all, together with His Word, and those who receive the Spirit of adoption.

Yet, Irenaeus—whom it is absurd to exclude from the ranks of orthodox Christians—believed in theosis in terms which agree with LDS thinking on the matter:

We were not made gods at our beginning, but first we were made men, then, in the end, gods.


How then will any be a god, if he has not first been made a man? How can any be perfect when he has only lately been made man? How immortal, if he has not in his mortal nature obeyed his maker? For one's duty is first to observe the discipline of man and thereafter to share in the glory of God.


Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Word of God, of his boundless love, became what we are that he might make us what he himself is.”


But of what gods [does he speak]? [Of those] to whom He says, "I have said, Ye are gods, and all sons of the Most High." To those, no doubt, who have received the grace of the "adoption, by which we cry, Abba Father."

And, Irenaeus considers the doctrine clearly Biblical, just as the LDS do:

For he who holds, without pride and boasting, the true glory (opinion) regarding created things and the Creator, who is the Almighty God of all, and who has granted existence to all; [such an one, ] continuing in His love and subjection, and giving of thanks, shall also receive from Him the greater glory of promotion, looking forward to the time when he shall become like Him who died for him, for He, too, "was made in the likeness of sinful flesh," to condemn sin, and to cast it, as now a condemned thing, away beyond the flesh, but that He might call man forth into His own likeness, assigning him as [His own] imitator to God, and imposing on him His Father's law, in order that he may see God, and granting him power to receive the Father; [being] the Word of God who dwelt in man, and became the Son of man, that He might accustom man to receive God, and God to dwell in man, according to the good pleasure of the Father.

Further quotes from Irenaeus available here.
Said one Protestant theologian of Irenaeus:

Participation in God was carried so far by Irenaeus as to amount to deification. 'We were not made gods in the beginning,' he says, 'but at first men, then at length gods.' This is not to be understood as mere rhetorical exaggeration on Irenaeus' part. He meant the statement to be taken literally.

Clement of Alexandria (AD 150-215)

Clement, an early Christian leader in Alexandria, also taught the doctrine of deification: yea, I say, the Word of God became a man so that you might learn from a man how to become a god.

"...if one knows himself, he will know God, and knowing God will become like God...His is beauty, true beauty, for it is God, and that man becomes god, since God wills it. So Heraclitus was right when he said, "Men are gods, and gods are men."

Those who have been perfected are given their reward and their honors. They have done with their purification, they have done with the rest of their service, though it be a holy service, with the holy; now they become pure in heart, and because of their close intimacy with the Lord there awaits them a restoration to eternal contemplation; and they have received the title of "gods" since they are destined to be enthroned with the other "gods" who are ranked next below the savior.

Origen (ca. AD 185-251)

And thus the first-born of all creation, who is the first to be with God, and to attract to Himself divinity, is a being of more exalted rank than the other gods beside Him, of whom God is the God, as it is written, "The God of gods, the Lord, hath spoken and called the earth." It was by the offices of the first-born that they became gods, for He drew from God in generous measure that they should be made gods, and He communicated it to them according to His own bounty. The true God, then, is "The God," and those who are formed after Him are gods, images, as it were, of Him the prototype.

The Father, then, is proclaimed as the one true God; but besides the true God are many who become gods by participating in God.

Origen also defined what it means to "participate" in something:

Every one who participates in anything, is unquestionably of one essence and nature with him who is partaker of the same thing.

Justin Martyr (d. ca. AD 163)

Justin the Martyr said in 150 A.D. that he wishes

to prove to you that the Holy Ghost reproaches men because they were made like God, free from suffering and death, provided that they kept His commandments, and were deemed deserving of the name of His sons... in the beginning men were made like God, free from suffering and death, and that they are thus deemed worthy of becoming gods and of having power to become sons of the highest...


[By Psalm 82] it is demonstrated that all men are deemed worthy of becoming “gods,” and even of having power to become sons of the Highest.

Hippolytus (AD 170-236)

Now in all these acts He offered up, as the first-fruits, His own manhood, in order that thou, when thou art in tribulation, mayest not be disheartened, but, confessing thyself to be a man (of like nature with the Redeemer,) mayest dwell in expectation of also receiving what the Father has granted unto this Son...The Deity (by condescension) does not diminish anything of the dignity of His divine perfection having made you even God unto his glory.


In 347, Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria and participant in the council of Nicea, said:

the Word was made flesh in order that we might be enabled to be made gods....just as the Lord, putting on the body, became a man, so also we men are both deified through His flesh, and henceforth inherit everlasting life...[we are] sons and gods by reason of the word in us.

For as Christ died and was exalted as man, so, as man, is He said to take what, as God, He ever had, that even such a grant of grace might reach to us. For the Word was not impaired in receiving a body, that He should seek to receive a grace, but rather He deified that which He put on, and more than that, gave it graciously to the race of man.

He also states that Christ "became man that we might be made divine."
Augustine (AD 354-430)

Augustine, considered one of the greatest Christian Fathers, said

but He himself that justifies also deifies, for by justifying He makes sons of God. For He has given them power to become the sons of God, (John 1:12). If then we have been made sons of God, we have also been made gods.

Jerome (AD 340-420)

Jerome also described the deification of believers as an act of grace, which matches the LDS understanding precisely:

“I said 'you are gods, all of you sons of the most high.’" let Eunomius hear this, let Arius, who say that the son of God is son in the same way we are. That we are gods is not so by nature, but by grace. “but to as many as receive Him he gave power to becoming sons of God” I made man for that purpose, that from men they may become gods. We are called gods and sons!...[Christ said] "all of you sons of the Most High," it is not possible to be the son of the Most High, unless He Himself is the Most High. I said that all of you would be exalted as I am exalted.

Jerome goes on to say that we should

give thanks to the God of gods. The prophet is referring to those gods of whom it is written: I said ‘you are gods’ and again ‘god arises in the divine assembly’ they who cease to be mere men, abandon the ways of vice an are become perfect, are gods and the sons of the most high...

Modern Christian exegesis

The Westminster Dictionary of Christian Theology describes "deification" thusly:

Deification (Greek Theosis) is for orthodoxy the goal of every Christian. Man, according to the Bible, is ‘made in the image and likeness of God’...it is possible for man to become like God, to become deified, to become God by grace. This doctrine is based on many passages of both O.T. and N.T. (Psalms 82: (81) .6; 2 Peter 1:4), and it is essentially the teaching both of St. Paul, though he tends to use the language of filial adoption (Rom. 8:9-17, Gal. 4:5-7) and the fourth gospel (John 17:21-23).

Joseph Fitzmyer wrote:

The language of 2 Peter is taken up by St. Irenaeus, in his famous phrase, ‘if the Word has been made man, it is so that men may be made gods; (adv. Haer v, pref.), And becomes the standard in Greek theology. In the fourth century St. Athanasius repeats Irenaeus almost word for word, and in the fifth century St. Cyril of Alexandria says that we shall become sons ‘by participation’ (Greek methexis). Deification is the central idea in the spirituality of St. Maximus the confessor, for whom the doctrine is corollary of the incarnation: ‘deification, briefly, is the encompassing and fulfillment of all times and ages’,...and St. Symeon the new theologian at the end of the tenth century writes, ‘he who is God by nature converses with those whom he has made gods by grace, as a friend converses with his friends, face to face...’

Finally, it should be noted that deification does not mean absorption into God, since the deified creature remains itself and distinct. It is the whole human being, body and soul, who is transfigured in the spirit into the likeness of the divine nature, and deification is the goal of every Christian.

According to Christian scholar G.L. Prestige, the ancient Christians “taught that the destiny of man was to become like God, and even to become deified.”

William R. Inge, Archbishop of Canterbury, wrote:

"God became man, that we might become God" was a commonplace of doctrinal theology at least until the time of Augustine, and that "deification holds a very large place in the writings of the fathers...We find it in Irenaeus as well as in Clement, in Athanasius as well in Gregory of Nysee. St. Augustine was no more afraid of deificari in Latin than Origen of apotheosis in Greek...To modern ears the word deification sounds not only strange but arrogant and shocking.

In conclusion:

This view of the early Christians' doctrines is not unique to the Latter-day Saints. Many modern Christian writers have recognized the same doctrines. If the critics do not wish to embrace these ancient doctrines, that is their privilege, but they cannot logically claim that such doctrines are not "Christian." One might fairly ask why modern Christians do not believe that which the ancient Christians insisted upon?UnBiblical?

Theosis has been taught by many Christians through the centuries. They pulled these beliefs from the Bible itself. The Father is the one true God. This thing is certain: no one will ever ascend above Him; no one will ever replace Him.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Till We All Come To A Unity Of The Faith

Till we all come to a unity of the faith.
The gospel as it has been restored only differs from how you see the gospel message.
You could easily say the same thing about a Baptist if you happened to be a Methodist because they both teach the gospel differently. The same goes for the 20,000 + sects of Christianity which have certainly not helped to fulfill the Lord's words through Paul as he gave them to the Ephesians in which, "all would come to the unity of the faith."
And this UNITY does not mean compromise one with another... but to actually ALL have preached to them the gospel of Christ in its purity; only how Apostles of the Lord can teach it. (1 Tim 2:7)

It was in its fullness when the early church began because there were Apostles and Prophets on the earth.
Not even in the Catholic church, the supposed stewards of the Lords' priesthood authority, continued to call additional Apostles.

When Judas Iscariot was found as dead (committed suicide) his vacancy was filled by the calling of Matthias. Else if he were not called, then the purpose and function of the 12 Apostles may have seemed benign and unimportant... but the calling of Matthias proves that the Lord's organization as it was established by him was meant to continue. If it were possible, there would have been a church ALWAYS upon the earth guided by Apostles and Prophets as the Lord had established. (Ephesians 4:11-14)

The day of the gentiles would one day come, according to the Lords' words in Luke 21:24... and that day would not come for centuries later. The Jews indeed have been trodden down and continued to be despised of men (and in many ways still are) but the times of the Gentiles is beginning to be fulfilled.

The last shall be first and the first shall be last is a literal insight into the Lord's plans to gather Israel one last time. The priesthood of God (as restored in 1830) was in preparation to restore Israel one last time. Indeed... the Lord's words in Luke chapter 21 have already begun to be fulfilled but they could ONLY fulfill themselves with priesthood authority.

Gentiles would not take upon themselves this honor. They would have to have been called of God as was Aaron...

But I know what you may be thinking... you might be thinking that Joseph Smith... or those called by Angels to receive the priesthood may not have had any rites to have it.

Israel had been scattered upon the whole face of the earth. The blood of Ephraim and Manasseh along with the blood of many of the other 10 tribes has had a chance to mix with the Gentiles for the many hundreds of years after the Lord completed the supreme sacrifice. At some point, if you're truly intrigued, I'll share with you the many epiphanies that I've received while studying the Bible as it pertains to Ephraim, the seed through with the Lord blessed via the birthright.

Even though Jesus Christ was born through the loins of Judah, great were the promises and responsibilities of they who belonged to Joseph's descendants. (both Ephraim and Manasseh)

Although we won't see this unity until "WELL" into the Millennium, the ball got rolling; ie, "The Stone Cut Out of the Mountain" that was cut without hands, according to the words of Daniel, the prophet, in chapter 2 of his record.

He that has ears... let him hear.

The church to be built upon the foundation of Apostles and Prophets

Jesus Christ has always been the bedrock of his church however, as in Simon "also called Peter" one must realize that the church organization should have always included a prophet, 12 apostles, a quorum of 70, pastors, teachers, evangelists, elders, etc.

Examine this scripture: Now we both know that the translation from language sometimes takes on a different idea when it goes from one to another.

"And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." Matt. 16: 18

We learn that his name was Simon, also called Peter. In the Greek direct translation, Petra (Greek "πέτρα" (petra), meaning rock, is something that signifies a "smaller rock" versus the more firmer "bedrock" which is upon Christ. When it reads; "and upon this rock" I will build my church, the second rock as also translated back into Greek and re-examined = "Bigger Rock"
(So we have "Little Rock" and "Bigger Rock.")

So if we were to read this scripture adding the direct translation, it would read,

"And I say also unto Thee, (Simon) also called, "The Smaller Rock", and upon this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."

But what rock would the gates of Hell not be able to prevail against? The smaller one or the larger one?
The Larger one because it means 'Jesus Christ,' who is the bedrock.
If man was infallible, then perhaps Jesus would have meant that Peter was unconquerable but we know
that this isn't the case nor would it. Later in the New Testament, we also learn that Jesus Christ acts as the "Chief Cornerstone" of his own church; in exactly the same fashion as he sits today; as the cornerstone of his church. If his church was permitted to exist in the same form that it was, there would have been NO restoration needed but we learn in Acts chapter 3 that the first efforts of Christ's original church may fall short because a restitution of all things was predicted.
"The Church is built upon foundation of apostles and prophets with Christ at the head. (Ephesians 2:20)

Peter was never more important than Jesus Christ. If you lived during his day, you'd probably say that the church was putting too much focus or attention on Peter... or the Church... because it's the same language you use today. Peter was never meant to be the primary focus but his calling as "leader of the church" as acting head of it; or the Lord's mouthpiece on earth, then you understand why we as Latter-day Saints put the same amount of value upon the acting prophet who stands as the Lord's living oracle today.
This man's name is Prophet Thomas S. Monson, current prophet in modern Israel.

Without Prophets and Apostles, we have no foundation; no temple of the Lord on the earth.
The Apostasy was imminent and the servants of God, all but John the Beloved, were to be removed from the Earth. It wouldn't be until a later date that a 'restitution' of all things would once again be needed. (Acts 3:19-23) and the days would not yet come before the Lord.
The events which are mentioned of in verse 23 had not taken place or else we would have seen it written.
This event has NOT yet taken place but is being fulfilled in our day as we one by one cast our votes:
Modern Israel and the Lord or rely on our own understanding; which wisdom, according to Isaiah, is considered "Foolishness." (Isaiah 29:11-14)

It happened once with Moses, who not unlike Joseph Smith, had to restore the knowledge of ALL things from the beginning (of Adam) to his present day. Jesus Christ was that same "Moses" whom was preached should come unto the people and restore/fulfill the law unto the people.
And not totally unlike that instance, another 1800 years or so goes by and the Lord sets forth his hand one last time to gather Israel from ALL parts of the earth to once again establish his Zion as he has hereto before done both in HUGE degree as well as smaller degrees all throughout the Bible.

1 Peter 2: 6-9
Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed. But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:

Your only argument would be whether or not Jesus Christ had the power to restore all things once again.
If you've read the Bible, at all, you'd know that this sort of "restitution" has taken place several different times in the history of mankind. The same argument you are making today was also made by the Jews unto Christ as they referenced verses of the Old Testament as THEY understood them and not how the Lord had intended for those verses to mean. I am willing to submit that the same case exists today with hordes of people who do not inquire of the Lord and rely upon their own understanding, which according to Peter, it is fruitless and without power to do so. The scriptures are not for "private interpretation."
(2 Peter 1:19-20) -

Private = pertaining to or affecting a particular person or a small group of persons; individual; personal: for your private satisfaction; undertaken individually or personally: private research.

Scriptures were meant to be studied together with the Lord and that they should ask for access of the Holy Spirit of Prophecy in order to understand them. This spiritual gift is given to all who have been granted the "Holy Ghost" which no matter how far removed from the church you are, you have ACCESS to that gift!
We should also do as Matthew suggests earlier in Matt. Chapter 16 vs. 17 and... be blessed for not having flesh and blood having reveal truth to you, but have our Father which is in heaven do so..." via the holy spirit, a spiritual confirmation, or the established manner in which to confirm truth.
(1 John 5:5-6)