Monday, September 6, 2010

Exploring Dan Peterson (A look at his recent Mormon times article entitiled, Dan Peterson on Exploring Universal Christian Beliefs) Part 1

(This is part 1 of 2)

A recent article caught my eye the other day. Dan Peterson, known for his work with FARMS, published an article on the Mormon Times website, Exploring Universal Christian Beliefs. After reading the article, I found myself confused, and annoyed at the blatant deception contained within the article.

The article title made it sound as if Dan would be looking into, "Universal Christian" beliefs. (I suspect his definition of Christian is quite different from mine.) The article begins with the following statement from Dan:

"Glenn Beck has been in the news lately and, not surprisingly, so has his religion. Some have warned Christians to be wary of Beck, not because of his political views but because of his religious affiliation. He is, they say, not a real Christian. I'm betting, though, that he is. I don't know Mr. Beck personally, but he belongs to the same church I do, and I'm a pretty mainstream member. I'll wager that his beliefs resemble mine."

From the opening statement, confusion sets in for me. His example of exploring universal Christian beliefs, begins and ends with Glenn Beck. He mentioned Beck who has been in the news due to his 8/28 rally, and his attempt to bring all faiths under one banner. 

Mr. Peterson, I do not know if I missed something, but it is not new to most that Glenn Beck is a Mormon. In fact if you listen to his radio program, and if you know what to watch out for, it's pretty obvious. Beck himself is not silent about his beliefs, or the sponsors he chooses. While 8/28 was not suppose to be political, Beck himself is extremely political. Not that this is wrong, but he is in the news far more for his political views than for his position as a Mormon.

As far as people who say Glenn Beck is not a real Christian, I have two responses. The first is, I don't know that there has been many people who have done that, and the second response is, to those who say Glenn Beck is not a Christian, they are right. If Mr. Beck holds to the same view as his church does on the doctrines of God and of salvation, he is not a Christian.

Mr. Petersen continues on to say that he is willing to bet that Mr. Beck is a Christian. Why? Because he belongs to the same church that he does, Dan says.

At this, Mr. Petersen lays out what he believes. And the deception begins, pay close attention to where he adds his commas:

I believe in God, the Father Almighty, the creator of heaven and earth. I also believe in Jesus Christ, his only-begotten Son, the Lord of all humankind, who, before being born to the Virgin Mary, was the Jehovah of the Old Testament. I believe that Jesus Christ suffered under Pontius Pilate, that he was crucified, died and was buried. While his body lay in the tomb, he descended into the realm of the spirits of the dead and preached the gospel there. On the third day, Jesus rose, physically, from death. He ascended into heaven, where he sits at the right hand of the Father. He will return, however, in power and great glory, to judge the living and the dead. In the meantime, we can receive guidance from the Holy Spirit, the third member of the Trinity.

I believe that Christ founded a church in order to teach his doctrine and administer the ordinances of salvation to all humanity and that the fellowship of the Saints, Christ's disciples, transcends not only all ethnic, cultural and national divisions but even death itself. I believe in the forgiveness of sins and the resurrection of the body, which are made possible only through the gracious Atonement of Jesus Christ, in whom we have our only hope of salvation. And, finally, I believe in everlasting life.

To those of you who might be thinking this sounds familiar, there is a reason. Mr. Peterson rewrote the Apostles Creed. He changed it to fit his church's beliefs. It is a bold move to rewrite something that so beautifully describes the beliefs of Christianity and has been around for so long. Not only does Dan Peterson rewrite the creed, he also has no problem whatsoever leaving the Christian words intact, but changing their meaning. Mr. Peterson of course does so without informing his reading audience of what he is doing. Since he obviously refuses to define his terms, I will do it for him.

  • I believe in God, the Father Almighty:
Mormonism does teach that God is called Father. Most often, God is referred to as, "Heavenly Father". While Christianity teaches that we are God's children by adoption, (Gal. 4:5, Eph. 1:5) Mormonism teaches that we are all LITERALLY the very offspring of God. Also, while the Bible teaches that God is eternal, (Romans 1:20), Mormonism teaches that, "We have imagined and supposed that God was God from all eternity. I will refute that idea, and take away the veil, so that you may see. ... "These are incomprehensible ideas to some, but they are simple." (LDS President Joseph Smith, History of the Church, Vol.6, Ch.14, p.305-6). The God we worship, to Mormons was once a man. He is merely an exalted man who had to go through all of the ordinances and follow the law in order to become God. In Mormonism, God is a married man, who along with whomever His wife(wives) is/are, the procreate spirit children. The God of Mormonism is a man, with a body of flesh and bone. Doctrine and Covenants 130:3 says, "The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man's." While the Bible is clear that God is a spirit (John 4:24)

  • The creator of heaven and earth
This is another area confusing to me. According to Mormonism, God did not create anything. The Mormon concept of creation tells that the council of gods saw matter unorganized, and merely reorganized already created matter. In Mormonism, matter must be eternal. Look at the Mormon book of Abraham 4:1, "And then the Lord said: Let us go down. And they went down at the beginning, and they, that is the Gods, organized and formed the heavens and the earth." In fact, Brigham Young said, "God never made something out of nothing; it is not in the economy or law by which the worlds were, are, or will exist. There is an eternity before us, and it is full of matter; and if we but understand enough of the Lord and His ways, we would say that He took of this matter and organized the earth from it. How long has it been organized it is not for me to say, and I do not care anything about it." (Brigham Young, May 14, 1871, Journal of Discourses 14:116)

This is absolutely contrary to what the Bible teaches. The Bible is clear that God created the heavens and the earth. Not reformed pre-existent matter, but created Ex Nihilo, which means, out of nothing. We see this in Genesis 1:1. Even in the New Testament,  we are told of the fact of creation. John 1:1-3 says, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being."

Mark 10:6 says, "But from the beginning of creation, God MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE."

Romans 1:20 says, "For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse."

Not only that, but it is logically an impossibility for us to assume that matter is eternal and self created. If something was eternal and not created, it itself would then become "god". We can use the same logic when we look at what Mormons call an infinite regression. This is the doctrine in Mormonism, that there was never a time without gods being gods. They teach exaltation has always occurred, and if that is the case, how did the very first man become a God without having a planet, temple, etc to do his works and become a god. It is logically an impossibility.

  • I also believe in Jesus Christ, his only-begotten Son
While Mr. Peterson does believe in Jesus Christ, is it true that Mormons believe that Jesus Christ is the only begotten son of God?  Mormons do believe that Jesus Christ is God's son, but not His only Son. LDS.ORG says that, "Jesus Christ is the only begotten son of God in the flesh." Now that last statement changes things quite a bit. As we looked at before, Mormonism teaches that we are the "literal" children of God. So if we are literally the children of God, Jesus cannot be the only begotten son of God. In fact, Mormonism teaches that Jesus and Lucifer are spirit brothers, and they are both actually our elder brothers. So truly, what Mr. Peterson should have said, is that he belies that Jesus Christ is a son of God, not the one and only Son. Joseph Fielding Smith said, "We accept Jesus as the Only Begotten Son of the Father in the flesh, although we are all his offspring in the spirit and therefore his children" (Conference Reports April 1921, pp39-40)

  •  Who, before being born of the virgin Mary
This section will likely raise some eyebrows. Some LDS may have thought of this, some may not even know the official church stance. But we absolutely need to look more closely at this statement. The question truly is, do Mormons believe in a "virgin birth"? Lets take a look. The 6th president of the LDS church, Joseph F. Smith says, "Now, we are told in scriptures that Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of God in the flesh. Well, now for the benefit of the older ones, how are children begotten? I answer just as Jesus Christ was begotten of his father. The difference between Jesus Christ and other men is this: Our fathers in the flesh are mortal men, whoa re subject unto death: but the Father of Jesus Christ in the flesh is the God of heaven...So you see Jesus is the only person who had our Heavenly Father as the father of his body." (Family Home Evening Manual 1972, pp 125,126)

Joseph Fielding Smith also states, "Christ was begotten of God. He was not born without the aid of Man, and that Mas was God!" (Doctrines of salvation 1:18)

Ezra Taft Benson, the 13th president of the Mormon church says, "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints proclaim that Jesus Christ is the Son of God in the most literal sense. The body in which He performed His mission in the flesh was sired by that same Holy Being we worship as God, our Eternal Father, Jesus was not the son of Joseph, not was He begotten bu the Holy Ghost." (The teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, page 7)

Mormon apostle Bruce R. McConkie said, "Christ was Begotten by an immortal Father in the same way that mortal men are begotten by mortal fathers." (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 1966, page 155)

McConkie also said, "Jesus was begotten by his Father as literally as he was conceived by his mother." (Bruce McConkie, Doctrinal New Testament Commentary 1:144)

Brigham Young stated, "The birth of the Savior was as natural as are the births of our children; it was the result of natural action. He partook of flesh and blood - was begotten of his Father, as we were of our fathers." (Brigham Young, July 8 1860, Journal of Discourses 8:115)

Perhaps one of the most telling quotes from Brigham Young. He said, "The man Joseph, the husband of Mary, did not, that we know of, have more than one wife, but Mary the wife of Joseph had another husband. On this account infidels have called the Savior a bastard, This is merely a human opinion upon one of the inscrutable doings of the Almighty. That very babe that was cradled in the manger, was begotten, not by Joseph, the husband of Mary, but by another Being. Do you inquire by whom? He was begotten by God our heavenly Father. This answer may suffice you - you need never inquire more upon that point". (Brigham Young, August 19th, 1866. Journal of Discourses 11:268)

All I can says is, WOW! Talk about a doctrinal issue. This belief has so many problems associated with it, that it is difficult to know where to start. Remember, Mormons teach God was married. And Mary and Joseph were in their engagement period. They were to remain pure for the one year engagement period. When Mary was found to be with child, the law actually gave Joseph the right to have Mary put to death for adultery! The Bible tells us that Joseph did not want this to happen, since he was a righteous man.
Not only that, but remember, we are according to Mormonism, the LITERAL children of God.

So in this doctrine, we have God who is married, coming down and having sexual relations with His own daughter, who is also married ... am I the only one who can see problems? This makes God guilty of not only adultery, but also incest with His own daughter. Not only that, Mary is not a virgin if it was a natural action, and also was an adulterer, by cheating on her husband Joseph, and also is guilty of incest. This would make Jesus not only a product of incest, but also not born of a virgin! If Jesus was not born of a virgin, he did not fulfill the prophecies in the Bible about being born of a virgin, and is therefore not the Son of God, and not the Messiah!

Not only that, Ezra Taft Benson directly contradicts the Bible in teaching that Christ was not born by the Holy Spirit! 
  • Matthew 1:18 - Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit.
  •  Matthew 1:20 - But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.

  •  Luke 1:35 -  The angel answered and said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God. 
 So far, we have learned quite a bit from just a couple of sentences from Dan Peterson. This is part 1 of exploring his language of what some might call, "twisty-anity". We will continue to look at the rest of his creed he purports as Christian and Biblical.

In Him,
Jamie Pellew


//He mentioned Beck who has been in the news due to his 8/28 rally, and his attempt to bring all faiths under one banner. He then says he has not been in the news so much because of his political views, but due to his religious affiliation. //

You can't seem to even get the simplest of facts right. Peterson says that some have been WARY of Beck more because of his religious rather than political views. Peterson also says that with Beck in the news, his religious views have also been brought up, but he never says that Beck is in the news more or his religion than is political opinions. People who read carefully will be able to see this quite clearly.

Neal, interesting that you choose to ignore the entire post. Out of everything written you take issue with that one sentence? Interesting.