Comments about ‘Defending the Faith: Joseph Smith's restoration of 'theosis' was miracle, not scandal’

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Published: Wednesday, Aug. 3 2011 4:00 p.m. MDT

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New Yorker
Pleasant Grove, UT

Thank you, Brother Peterson. I was never very keen on the prospect of just singing in the heavenly choirs for all eternity. Isn't it wonderful that there is eternal purpose in going through this earthly existence!

no fit in SG
St.George, Utah

Afraid some other faiths find such a philosophy offensive, Appears to go along with " Mormonism the only true religion".
You might want to tone it down a notch.

New Yorker
Pleasant Grove, UT

No fit,
I fail to understand why it is okay for people to be "offended" by Mormonism. It would generally be considered bigotry to be "offended" by a teaching of Judaism or even Islam. We are a pluralistic society that accepts just about anything except pedophilia and homicide without being judgmental. Yet it is still socially acceptable to be rude and even crude to Mormons, even around Temple Square.
Many people of many different faiths believe that their religion is true. Granted there are some post-denominationals and new-agers out there, but since when is believing that one's own religion is true is "offensive." Should a Jew be offended that Muslim believes he or she has the truth? I think not.
Can you answer this? Exactly which "other faiths" find it "offensive" that people from a different faith believe that they have the truth? I don't think there is such a major organized faith here in the United States, but there are certainly intolerant individuals. One shouldn't "tone down" their statement of belief just to please an intolerant individual. Our country is founded on freedom of religion, freedom of association, and freedom of speech.

Scottsdale, AZ

Dr. Peterson,

The doctrine of theosis espoused by the Eastern Church Fathers (the EXACT same doctrine held to by the modern Eastern Orthodox Church) is qualitatively different from the LDS doctrine of theosis. The parallels you have drawn are therefore both misleading and misrepresentative. The quotes that have been mined in the article are torn from a particular theological context. In grad school, I did a significant amount of study on Athanasius' formulation of theosis. It's interesting that you didn't provide any quotes from him-- so allow me to do so. He is representative of the whole Eastern tradition on theosis:

"For as, although there be one Son by nature, True and Only-begotten, we too become sons, not as He in nature and truth, but according to the grace of Him that calleth, and though we are men from the earth, are yet called gods, not as the True God or His Word, but as has pleased God who has given us that grace" (Con. Arian. 3.19).

For He [Jesus] was made man that we might be made God (de Incarn. 54.3). In other words, Jesus was not a man prior to his incarnation.

across the sea
Topeno, Finland

Great article!

AND as to the following discussion on THE RIGHT TO PROCLAMATION OF ONE'S TRUTH.

"what is so different about you Mormons?* was the question raised by the 5 people around the dinner table. They were all highly educated business people and state officials from Florida. All working for a company owned by an LDS serial investor. I was an independent consult advising them on select matters.
What a tough situation! How I could remain "neutral" to continue my consulting work with them? To stay firm and faithful to my conviction? To not OFFEND my friends around the table...
I deeply pondered the question for a moment... and this was the answer given to me, as I said:
"First, I want you all to know, that I know that the Church I belong to is the only true Church in the world today - AND - My most sincere wish is that YOU would feel the same way about yours, if you do not, then you have some searching to be done."
What a wonderful evening we had, because I was HONEST and TRUE and just told them about my MOST SINCEREST desire that they, too, have PEACE in their lives

Scottsdale, AZ

Alternate translation for that last quote: "god" or "gods."

[W]e are not sons by nature, but the Son who is in us; and again, that God is not our Father by nature, but of that Word in us, in whom and because of whom we cry, Abba, Father. And so in like manner, the Father calls them sons in whomsoever He sees His own Son. . . .

[B]ut that they might know that from the beginning they are creatures, but when according to grace they are said to be begotten, as sons, still no less than before are men works according to nature (Con. Arian. 2.59).

Athanasius' view of our sonship makes perfect sense of the NT data with regard to our adoption by the Father (Romans 8:15). Adoption "denoted the Greek, and particularly Roman, legal institution whereby one can 'adopt' a child and confer on that child all the legal rights and privileges that would ordinarily accrue to a natural child" (Moo, 501).

As I mentioned before, Athanasius' teaching represents the entire Eastern tradition on theosis. I would challenge you to find a Church father who says God the Father was once a man.

Curtis Hight
Juneau, AK


I smile when I see your display name: so often, if not always, complaining, but I don't recall you offering me anything. What would you have me do? And what authority is attached to this offer?
Dr. Peterson stated that "Joseph Smith restored an authentically ancient Judeo-Christian doctrine." St. Athanasius's teachings came hundreds of years after the mortal ministries of the apostles who worked with our Savior in His mortal ministry. St. Athanasius, and the Nicene Creed, postdate all the dated quotes except for the one from St. Jerome. Hence, I'm not surprised that St. Athanasius's views include items that I don't agree with: I'll lay hold upon those items that are scriptural (meaning the Bible in this context), and charitably let pass those that aren't.

(continued below)

Curtis Hight
Juneau, AK

(continued from above)

I attended meetings at St. Innocent Russian Orthodox cathedral in Anchorage last fall. One woman I spoke with was excited when she heard that I was a Latter-day Saint and warmly acknowledged our similarities. Speaking of theosis she stated something like "some denominations say that makes us a cult, but our beliefs are the original ones." If you don't hold to Latter-day Saint teachings about theosis, do you hold to those of Orthodoxy? If you don't hold to either, to what do you hold?

Come to Alaska, we'll go fishing! :-)

Ogden, UT

Thank you, Brother Peterson. The information you have included in this article is very enlightening, edifying and useful. Much appreciated.

Santa Cruz, CA

Two quotes from the Christian "New Testament"

1 John 3:2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.

24 Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy,
25 To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.

Brother Chuck Schroeder
A Tropical Paradise USA, FL

Let's address this then, Daniel Peterson, For the Deseret News.

"If we are children (of God)," wrote the apostle Paul to the Romans (8:17, New International Version), "then we are heirs - heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ."

"To him that overcometh," says the Savior to John the Revelator (3:21, King James Version), "will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. He that hath an ear, let him hear."

Mormonism has been harshly criticized because it takes those verses very literally.

I had to look up "paraprosdokian." Here is the Wikipedia definition: "Figure of speech in which the latter part of a sentence or phrase is surprising or unexpected, frequently used in a humorous situation."
(such as) Going to church doesn't make you a Mormon any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.

Joseph Smith began to teach that humans, being children of God, can become like their Father. The doctrine is most famously expressed in the couplet of Lorenzo Snow: "As man is, God once was. As God is, man may become."

My views.

Pocatello, ID

What a beautiful truth to adhere to! To know that we have a Father who loves us and provides us an "opportunity" to become like Him, is a warm, comforting thought in this world of evil. Granted, it will take a long, long time to become that good, but heck, I have the time apparently since I'm not much of a choir person either. Sometimes I reflect back on my life and marvel at how much I have learned and realize to become as God is is a great goal and is entirely possible. To become like my earthly father is an on-going goal; why not work for an even loftier one and become like my Heavenly Father.

FL Cougar

Fascinating article, and timely, too. While I discount the writings of early 'Christian Fathers' on a number of doctrines, it is very interesting to hear their points of view on theosis.

I have always explained this doctrine to people by way of explaining the principle of Eternal Marriage, and having families of our own after this life. It seems to help most people when described in this manner.

Provo, Ut

I actually like this article. Not because I'm convinced that there is any truth to the religious implications, but because I think it is at least a fair explanation of Mormon belief. When the tiresome debates stir regarding the issue of whether Mormons are "Christian", these are the kinds of answers that ought to be given.

Idaho Coug
Meridian, Idaho

I greatly appreciate this article. It is the antithesis of what has been a move toward PR and mainstreaming of the Church as of late. Daniel Peterson says here is what we believe, have always believed, and here is why. It does us NO good to sugarcoat or pretend we are something we are not. Thanks to the internet, milk before meat is obsolete. We need to embrace who we are and what we believe.

I admittedlydo not have a testimony of all things LDS. But I want to decide what I believe about LDS teachings without leaders and members constantly trying to rewrite, sugarcoat or dumb it down.

Thank you Daniel Peterson for embracing and explaining a concept that, while a key reason some reject us, is key to LDS doctrine.

layton, UT

Brother Chuck Schroeder: Romans 8:17 NIV, Now if we are children, then we are heirsheirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. Verse 15,the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, abba, Father. See verse 23.(adopted into the family of God)

And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God's promise to Abraham belongs to you(Gal 3:29 NLT) Christians become spiritual descendants by adoption not the same substance. God is other.
Now you are no longer a slave but God's own child. And since you are his child, God has made you his heir. (Gal 4:7NLT)

In Mormon America, Richard and Joan Ostling examine the alleged compatibility between Eastern theosis and Mormon godhood.After citing several experts in this field, the Ostlings concluded by saying, "It seems clear that support for the Mormon, eternal progress, and deification cannot be found in Eastern Orthodoxy, the early church fathers. More on this later.



Thanks, a couple more scriptures.

Matt 5:48 "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father in Heaven is perfect." I think Heavenly Father wouldn't give us a commandment he didn't think we could keep.

Eph. 4:13 " Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ." This also emphasizes we are to attain perfection and the very stature that Christ has.

Finally, in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus said

Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?

Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?

If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?
All good people I know want their children to have all they have and more. I can't conceive of a jealous God hedging up his Children's way. Why don't all Bible believers believe in theosis?

Idaho Falls, ID

Daniel R. Peterson takes Romans 8 WAY out of context. Being joint heirs with Christ means were are adopted by the Father as His sons and daughters, not theosis. The totality of scripture is very much against the idea of man becoming God.

Also, the Patristic writings mentioned have a very different idea about "deification" of man, and perhaps reflect more of the Eastern Orthodox tradition regarding the topic-- but never do they ever attempt to show that man evolved from his current state into the Alpha and Omega.

I am curious as to why Moroni 8:18 seems to also go up against the idea of theosis, yet Joseph Smith sharply repudiated it.

Odd are the use of quoted originating from Alexandria- it is the same school
from where Arius originated, and he was declared a heretic.

On one hand there is widespread condemnation of the Patristic fathers, claiming they helped create contemptible creeds, yet when it is deemed convenient, such quotes are employed to buttress arguments.

Did anyone also notice Peterson's use of the NIV? I thought Mormons weren't supposed to reference that version.

Newport Beach, CA

Traditional Christians believe in the doctrine of the Trinity -- the concept that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, though each has a distinct personal identity (that's the "neither confounding the Persons" in the Athanasian Creed) are nevertheless one God. (LDS doctrine also teaches that the persons of the Godhead together constitute "one God"; the differences aren't as great as either traditional Christians or many Mormons make it out to be.)

Once you've gone beyond the strict mathematical notion of oneness, there's no real reason why -- if three Persons can constitute one God -- three *billion* persons can't also be included under the heading "one God."

To paraphrase the old saying, we've already established what God can be -- now we're just quibbling about numbers.

Hever City, UT

This certainly sets the bar low for miracles. Using mathematical principals to defend a religious belief - cute but dangerous. What happens when we use math to measure the lives of Mormons vs. others? Divorce, teenage pregnancy, drug use, porn addiction and other measurable benchmarks show that despite their devotion, they lead lives that are essentially the same as others.

I'm consistently amused at Mormons trying to convince others that they are mainstream and that they alone are the holders of truth. Neither is true.
Victim-hood is part of the culture that comes with claims that they are believed to have horns and/or pointy tails or that they are portrayed as inherently evil. The truth is that most people don't care. They know little more about Mormons than Mormons know of Christian Science, 7th-day Adventists or Jehovah Witnesses.

Mormon beliefs are not mainstream. The past practice of polygamy, the belief that polygamy will be practiced in "heaven", homophobia, racism, garments and priesthood. None of this is mainstream.

Trying to defend it only fuels the fire of those who think it matters. Does anyone really believe the "I'm a Mormon ads work?

Again, who cares what others think?

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