Monday, July 20, 2009

The Book of Mormon 18/18

Yay! You made it to the last post in this series. So far, I've been breaking up the posts topically, but today is miscellaneous day. I'm just going to talk about a few verses in the BOM I found interesting.

Jacob 2:27 says, "Wherefore, my brethren, hear me, and hearken to the word of the Lord: For there shall not any man among you have save it be one wife; and concubines he shall have none." This verse jumped out at me because of the LDS Church's association with polygamy in the past. They still believe in polygamy in the afterlife, just not this life since it's against the law.

In 2 Nephi 3:6-25, there's a prophecy predicting the coming of Joseph Smith. It doesn't say "Joseph Smith," but it's pretty obvious that's who it's talking about. His name will be Joseph, and his father's name will also be Joseph. It says he will be a seer, and "he shall be great like unto Moses." It predicts that he will convert the native Americans with the use of the BOM and the Bible. I thought it rather crass of Joseph Smith to insert such a convenient prophecy about himself. Later on in the book, he adds that a seer is greater than a prophet (Mosiah 8:15).

In Alma 18:1ff, it says that the Lamanites referred to their god as "the Great Spirit," which I thought was interesting since in a lot of Indian movies I've seen, the Indians refer to their god as "the Great Spirit." I'm sure Joseph Smith knew about that.

Alma 34:35 says, "For behold, if ye have procrastinated the day of your repentance even until death, behold, ye have become subjected to the spirit of the devil, and he doth seal you his; therefore, the Spirit of the Lord hath withdrawn from you, and hath no place in you, and the devil hath all power over you; and this is the final state of the wicked." This verse seems to contradict the Mormon belief in baptisms for the dead. They believe that if a person doesn't become Mormon while they are alive, somebody else can be baptized on their behalf once they are dead and know the truth. That allows them to go on to exaltation.

In 3 Nephi 28:4-9, Jesus tells three of his disciples that they will never die. According to Moroni--the last person to write in the BOM--the three disciples were still alive. By then, they were almost 400 years old. Presumably, they are still alive today. I went to Yahoo Answers and asked if anybody knew who they were or whether they were members of the LDS church. It makes you wonder. According to the Mormons, the true church completely disappeared from the face of the earth until Joseph Smith restored it, but if those three disciples were faithful, then it seems like they would constitute the church through the ages, and the true church did not disappear.

None of the Mormons claimed to know who they were, and some speculated about whether they were members of the LDS Church or not, but they all agreed they were still around. They also said the apostle, John, was still around. They claimed, based on John 21:22-24, that John got the same promise. But John 21:23 explicitly denies that John got any such promise. It says, "Jesus did not say to him that he would not die." I went back and forth with some of the Mormons through private messages, and they just could not see it, which left me scratching my head.

4 Nephi 1:17 says, "There were no robbers, nor murderers, neither were there Lamanites, nor any manner of -ites." I just thought that was funny.

Mormon 8:21-22 says that God will fulfill all his promises. What about the promises in the Old Testament to always bring the whole house of Israel back to Palestine?

Ether 13:2-4 says that America will be the place where the New Jerusalem will come down out of heaven.

There ye have it!

Friday, July 17, 2009

The Book of Mormon 17/18

Now I'm going to talk about a few verses from the BOM on the subject of grace.

For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do. (2 Nephi 25:23-24)

Therefore, blessed are they who will repent and hearken unto the voice of the Lord their God; for these are they that shall be saved. And may God grant, in his great fulness, that men might be brought unto repentance and good works, that they might be restored unto grace for grace, according to their works. (Helaman 12:23-25)

Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God. (Moroni 10:32).
I remember the subject of grace came up when I was talking to the Bishop. I had told him I hoped to be able to share the doctrines of grace with Kay. He asked me what I meant by "grace," and I told him I understood it to mean "unmerited favour--when God does something for us wholly undeserving." I don't remember his exact words, but it was something to the effect of God granting grace in proportion to a person's good works.

But that is exactly what Paul said grace was not. Paul said, "But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace" (Romans 11:6). The Mormon view of grace doesn't even make sense. Even Mormons will agree that salvation is by the grace of God. 2 Nephi 10:24 says that "it is only in and through the grace of God that ye are saved." But what are we being saved from? Why do we need to be saved? It is because we sin, and because we sin, we are under the wrath of God. But God shows mercy by giving us eternal life in spite of our sins. He spares us from the wrath we deserve, and that is the grace he shows us. It follows that the more you sin, the more grace you need. Likewise, Paul said, "where sin increased, grace abounded all the more" (Romans 5:20). But that is exactly the opposite of the Mormon view where you are given grace according to your good works. The better you live, the more grace you get. Essentially, you earn grace by living properly. That view makes no sense at all since the more righteously you live, the less grace you need.

I told the Bishop this issue of grace was probably the biggest difference between us, and he agreed.

I wonder if any Mormon has ever met the requirements of the Book of Mormon for obtaining God's grace. Has any Mormon ever done all they could do as 2 Nephi 25:23-24 requires? Has any Mormon ever denied himself of all ungodliness as Moroni 10:32 requires?

Part 18

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Book of Mormon 16/18

Another thing that causes me to doubt the Book of Mormon is a translation of an ancient American document is that it quotes or alludes to parts of the Bible that were written after Lehi left the land of Jerusalem and went to America. There are far too many of them to list, so I'll only list a few. If you're fairly familiar with the Bible, I recommend reading the BOM, and you'll see what I'm talking about.

2 Nephi 6:5-8:25 (and other places, e.g. Mosiah 14:1ff) quote from Second Isaiah (i.e. Isaiah 40-55), saying, "And there are many things which have been spoken by Isaiah which may be likened unto you, because ye are of the house of Israel. And now, these are the words..." In all fairness, there's dispute about when Second Isaiah was written. The more conservative scholars will say it was written before the exile by Isaiah himself, but most people think it was written during the exile by somebody other than the Isaiah of First Isaiah (i.e. Isaiah 1-39). I'm not sure myself, but I lean toward the majority.

2 Nephi 2:5 says, "And by the law no flesh is justified," which is just what Paul said in Romans 3:20.

Alma 5:38-39 says, "Behold, I say unto you, that the good shepherd doth call you; yea, and in his own name he doth call you, which is the name of Christ; and if ye will not hearken unto the voice of the good shepherd, to the name by which ye are called, behold, ye are not the sheep of the good shepherd. And now if ye are not the sheep of the good shepherd, of what fold are ye? Behold, I say unto you, that the devil is your shepherd, and ye are of his fold." This passage is a clear allusion to the parable of the good shepherd in John 10.

Alma 5:52 says, "And again I say unto you, the Spirit saith: Behold, the ax is laid at the root of the tree; therefore every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit shall be hewn down and cast into the fire, yea, a fire which cannot be consumed, even an unquenchable fire." John the Baptist said the same sort of thing in Luke 3:9.

Alma 19:10 says, "And Ammon said unto her: Blessed art thou because of thy exceeding faith; I say unto thee, woman, there has not been such great faith among all the people of the Nephites." That's an allusion to Luke 7:9 where Jesus says, "I say to you, not even in Israel have I found such great faith."

Alma 26:12 says, "Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever." Alma is alluding to Philippians 4:13 which says, "I can do all things through him who strengthens me," and 2 Corinthians 10:17 which says, "But he who boasts, let him boast in the Lord" and 2 Corinthians 12:5-10 where Paul talks about the thorn in his flesh.

Alma 38:13 says, "Do not pray as the Zoramites do, for ye have seen that they pray to be heard of men, and to be praised for their wisdom." In Matthew 6:5, Jesus said, "And when you pray, you are not to be as the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners, in order to be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full."

Mormon 9:27 says to "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling before him," which is just what Paul said in Philippians 2:12.

In Ether 8:10ff there a story that closely parallels the story in Mark 6 about the beheading of John the Baptist.

Ether 12:6 says, "faith is things which are hoped for and not seen," which comes from Hebrews 11:1, and the rest of Ether 12 parallels the discourse on faith in Hebrews 11.

Moroni 7:45 says, "And charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things." That comes from 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, which says in the KJV, "Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things."

Moroni 10:8-17 comes from 1 Corinthians 12:4-11. It says, "And there are different ways that these gifts are administered; but it is the same God who worketh all in all; and they are given by the manifestations of the Spirit of God unto men, to profit them. For behold, to one is given by the Spirit of God, that he may teach the word of wisdom; And to another, that he may teach the word of knowledge by the same spirit...And again, to another, the interpretation of languages and of diverse kinds of tongues. And all these gifts come by the Spirit of Christ; and they come unto every man severally, according as he will."

Dagoods asked me a while back what criteria I would use to determine whether there was a dependence between sources. I didn't have a clear set of criteria, but one criteria I said I think establishes a literary dependence is the use of exact wording. But these parallels in the BOM are enough to convince me that there was a literary dependence. The BOM obviously borrows from the New Testament which, if the story is true, the authors of the BOM could not have possibly been familiar with. That leads me to believe the BOM is not a translation of an ancient document, but was a document written by somebody who was familiar with the New Testament--somebody like Joseph Smith and his friends.

Part 17

Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Book of Mormon 15/18

In John 3:17, 1 Timothy 1:15, and Matthew 9:12-13, it says that Jesus did not come into the world to judge the world or to call the righteous. Rather, he came into the world to save sinners. But the Jesus of the New Testament is unlike the Jesus of the BOM in this regard. In 3 Nephi 9, Jesus makes his appearance in America and utterly destroys sixteen different cities, burning some with fire and causing others to sink into the ocean or be buried beneath hills. These events were all judgments for the wickedness and unrighteousness of the inhabitants of those cities. Then Jesus offers the gospel to the rest, saying, "O all ye that are spared because ye were more righteous than they, will ye not now repent of your sins, and be converted, that I may heal you?" (3 Nephi 9:13).

I went to Yahoo Answers and asked, "Did Jesus come to call the righteous or did he come to call sinners? If he came to call the sinners, why did he destroy them BEFORE offering the gospel? Why did he offer the gospel to the righteous? If they are righteous, why do they need to be saved? Or am I misunderstanding 3 Nephi 9, John 3:17, Matthew 9:12-13, and 1 Timothy 1:15? Or is the New Testament unreliable? Or is the BOM unreliable?"

Some Mormons argued that there was no inconsistency since God had destroyed cities in the Old Testament. I grant that there is no inconsistency on God's part in destroying cities because of sin. The inconsistency is in the mission of Jesus when he came to earth--whether he came to call the righteous or sinners.

Other Mormons said that all these people had already heard the gospel, and because they were so wicked, there was no hope for them. The survivors were not without sin; they just weren't as sinful as those Jesus destroyed. There was still hope for them.

Part 16

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

The Book of Mormon 14/18

There are a few passages in the BOM that basically say that faith and knowledge are mutually exclusive. You can only have faith as long as you don't have knowledge, and once you know something, you can no longer exercise faith in it.
Alma 32:17-18 "Yea, there are many who do say: If thou wilt show unto us a sign from heaven, then we shall know of a surety; then we shall believe. Now I ask, is this faith? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for if a man knoweth a thing he hath no cause to believe, for he knoweth it."
I thought this was an interesting passage because the New Testament seems to teach that faith is necessary for salvation. But Alma 32:17-18 says that if you have signs, then you have knowledge, and if you have knowledge, then you cannot have faith; it follows that if you have signs, then you cannot have faith. But Jesus performed many signs for his apostles, including rising from the dead. It would seem to follow that the apostles did not have faith. And also the Nephites saw many signs in the sky indicating that Jesus had been born, and then had died, and then he even appeared to them. I went to Yahoo Answers and asked, "Did this nullify their faith, and if so, did it ruin their salvation? Or is faith not necessary for salvation?" Unfortunately, I didn't get any straight answers. One person said it required faith in the first place to recognize the signs, and that the signs didn't nullify their faith; they only strengthened their faith.

That brings us to the next passage:
Alma 32:26-34 "Now, as I said concerning faith--that it was not a perfect knowledge--even so it is with my words. Ye cannot know of their surety at first, unto perfection, any more than faith is a perfect knowledge. But behold, if ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in your, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words. Now, we will compare the word unto a seed. Now, if ye give place, that a seed may be planted in your heart, behold, if it be a true seed, or a good seed, if ye do not cast it out by your unbelief, that ye will resist the Spirit of the Lord, behold, it will begin to swell within your breasts; and when you feel these swelling motions, ye will begin to say within yourselves--It must needs be that this is a good seed, or that the word is good, for it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to enlighten my understanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me. Now behold, would not this increase your faith? I say unto you, Yea; nevertheless it hath not grown up to a perfect knowledge. But behold, as the seed swelleth, and sprouteth, and beginneth to grow, then you must needs say that the seed is good; for behold it swelleth, and sprouteth, and beginneth to grow. And now, behold, are ye sure that this is a good seed? I say unto you, Yea; for every seed bringeth forth unto its own likeness. Therefore, if a seed groweth it is good, but if it groweth not, behold it is not good, therefore it is cast away. And now, behold, because ye have tried the experiment, and planted the seed, and it swelleth and sprouteth, and beginneth to grow, ye must needs know that the seed is good. And now, behold, is your knowledge perfect? Yea, your knowledge is perfect in that thing, and your faith is dormant; and this because you know, for ye know that the word hath swelled your souls, and ye also know that it hath sprouted up, that your understanding doth begin to be enlightened, and your mind doth begin to expand."
Let me summarize that for people who don't want to read the whole thing. Basically, it's saying that you can do an experiment where you entertain an idea, either exercising a small degree of faith or at least wanting it to be true. If the object of your faith is good or true, then your faith will grow. It will get stronger and stronger. Eventually, you will reach certainty, at which point you no longer have faith or belief; rather, you have knowledge. So knowledge is epistemological certainty.

When I talked to the Bishop, he read this whole passage to me. Before he got to the end, I was on the edge of my seat, and I said, "That's one of the passages I wanted to ask you about!" Remember, I didn't know I was going to meet with the Bishop that day, so I didn't have my notes with me. Earlier in the conversation, I had asked the Bishop whether he believed Joseph Smith was a prophet, the Book of Mormon was an ancient document translated by Joseph Smith, and the LDS Church was the true church of Christ restored by Joseph Smith. He said, "I don't believe it; I know it." So I questioned him on what he meant by saying he knew it. What did he mean by "know"?

We went back and forth because he wasn't really giving me straight answers, but after a little frustration, we finally arrived at his definition of knowledge. He simply equates knowledge with epistemological certainty. To believe something means to have some degree of doubt, but to know something means to have no doubt at all.

Words are defined by their use, so I suppose I can't quibble with the way the BOM uses the word, "knowledge," but I don't think that is what people usually mean by the word. After all, it's possible to be absolutely certain about something and still be wrong. And it hardly seems possible to know something that isn't true. You can't know that the earth is flat if the earth is not really flat. It seems to me that before you can know something, it has to at least be true.

And to believe something means to think it's true. You'd be contradicting yourself if you said, "I believe my cat is pregnant, but I know she is not." So before you can know something, it has to be true, and you have to think it's true.

But it's possible for something to be true, for you to think it's true, and you still don't know it. A person might think they will win the lottery, and maybe they will win the lottery, but that doesn't mean they knew it. They are just an optimistic person who made a lucky guess. It's not really knowledge unless you have some sort of reason or justification for thinking it's true. Justification is what connects the belief inside your mind with the reality outside your mind. Without that connection, any correspondence between your mental states and the external world is merely a coincidence.

So knowledge is justified true belief. I think that's how most people use the word, whether they've thought about what they mean by it or not. Since knowledge is justified true belief, knowledge and belief cannot be mutually exclusive. Belief is necessary for knowledge.

Here is one last passage from the BOM about faith and knowledge:
Ether 3:18-19 "And he ministered unto him even as he ministered unto the Nephites; and all this, that this man might know that he was God, because of the many great works which the Lord had showed unto him. And because of the knowledge of this man he could not be kept from beholding within the veil; and he saw the finger of Jesus, which, when he saw, he fell with fear; for he knew that it was the finger of the Lord; and he had faith no longer, for he knew, nothing doubting."
I think this is a good example of why you have to be careful to define your terms when you're talking with people. Any Christian might say they know the gospel is true, but when Mormons say they know it's true, they mean they have absolute certainty.

Since I had that discussion with the Bishop, I have noticed that a lot of Mormons will say they know their religion is true, rather than merely believing it to be true. The next time a Mormon tells me that, I think I'll question them on the issue of faith and say, "Does that mean you don't have any faith?"

Part 15

Sunday, July 05, 2009

The Book of Mormon 13/18

The BOM is like the Bible in some ways. The New Testament addresses theological issues the people were dealing with in the first century. They were dealing with the issue of eating meat sacrificed to idols, whether gentile converts had to be circumcised, etc. The BOM does the same thing. It addresses theological issues people were dealing with in the 19th century. The two major rival churches where Joseph Smith grew up were the Methodists and the Presbyterians--one group believing in predestination and the other putting a strong emphasis on free will.

In Alma 31, the author talks about the Zoramites who separated themselves from the Nephites. They were bad people, "perverting the ways of the Lord" (Alma 31:1). The author of Alma gives us what is essentially a statement of beliefs of the Zoramites that included: "we believe that thou art God, and we believe that thou art holy, and that thou wast a spirit, and that thou art a spirit, and that thou wilt be a spirit forever," and that "thou hast elected us that we shall be saved, whilst all around us are elected to be cast by thy wrath down to hell" (Alma 31:15,17). Some of the beliefs it explicitly says are in error, but it doesn't say they are all in error, so I went to Yahoo Answers and asked about it.

The Mormons who answered said all of the beliefs of the Zoramites mentioned were in error. God is not a spirit. He has a body of flesh and bone. The Mormon view seems to be an outright denial of John 4:24, which says that God is a spirit. I've heard some Mormons reconcile John 4:24 with their view by saying God is both flesh and spirit.

Some of them said they do believe in predestination (they prefer to say "foreordination"), but the Zoramites were mistaken to think they were foreordained to salvation and everybody else wasn't.

A few of them made a distinction between "foreordination" and "predestination," and they thought passages such as Romans 8:29-30 and Ephesians 1:5 and 11 are talking about foreordination rather than predestination. The difference is that predestination means you're chosen for salvation regardless of how you live your life, which removes the principle of moral agency, whereas foreordination is conditioned on our faithfulness.

This view seems to be contrary to what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 1:27-31:
But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise...that no man should boast before God. By his doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and the righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, that, just as it is written, "Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord."
The reason boasting is excluded is because it is by God's doing that we are in Christ, not our own doing. If our being chosen depended on our doing, then we'd have something to boast about. As Paul also said in Romans 4:2, "If Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about." In Romans 3, Paul says that "all have sinned," and that they are "justified as a gift by his grace," through faith, and because of this, Paul says, "Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith. For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law" (Romans 3:23-28).

It is also contrary to what Paul said in Romans 9:11-18:
For though the twins [Jacob and Esau] were not yet born, and had not done anything good or bad, in order that God's purpose according to his choice might stand, not because of works, but because of him who calls, it was said to her, "The older will serve the younger."
That raises the question of whether there is any injustice with God, which Paul answers by quoting where God said to Moses, "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion." Then Paul said, "So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy."

Part 14

Thursday, July 02, 2009

The Book of Mormon 12/18

Modalists believe the father, son, and holy spirit are the same person. Trinitarians believe the father, son, and holy spirit are the same God, but they are distinct persons. Mormons believe the father, son, and holy spirit are distinct beings. It seems like these views differ in their degree of distinction between the father, son, and holy spirit. Modalists make no distinctions between them. Trinitarians believe there is a distinction in personhood, but no distinction in being. Mormons believe there is a distinction both in personhood and in being.

But the BOM seems decidedly modalistic.
Alma 11:38-39 "Now Zeezrom saith again unto him: Is the Son of God the very Eternal Father? And Amulek said unto him: Yea, he is the very Eternal Father of heaven and of earth, and all things which in them are; he is the beginning and the end, the first and the last."

Alma 11:44 "Now, this restoration shall come to all, both old and young, both bond and free, both male and female, both the wicked and the righteous; and even there shall not so much as a hair of their heads be lost; but every thing shall be restored to its perfect frame, as it is now, or in the body, and shall be brought and be arraigned before the bar of Christ the Son, and God the Father, and the Holy Spirit, which is one Eternal God, to be judged according to their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil."

Mosiah 15:1-4 "And now Abinadi said unto them: I would that ye should understand that God himself shall come down among the children of men, and shall redeem his people. And because he dwelleth in flesh he shall be called the Son of God, and having subjected the flesh to the will of the Father, being the Father and the Son--The Father, because he was conceived by the power of God; and the Son, because of the flesh; thus becoming the Father and Son--And they are one God, yea, the very Eternal Father of heaven and of earth."

Ether 3:14 "Behold, I am he who was prepared from the foundation of the world to redeem my people. Behold, I am Jesus Christ. I am the Father and the Son. In me shall all mankind have life, and that eternally, even they who shall believe on my name; and they shall become my sons and my daughters."
Since Alma 11:44 could also be interpreted in a trinitarian fashion, I posted a question about these scriptures on Yahoo Answers, asking how Mormons understood the relationship between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and whether they were modalists, trinitarians, or what. They all told me they believed they were distinct beings.

I've noticed that Mormons typically will use the word "personage" when talking about the father and the son. That caused me a little confusion in the beginning. I remember the Bishop told me toward the end of our conversation that the father and son are distinct personages. At the time, I thought he meant the same thing we trinitarians mean when we say "persons," so I didn't understand what all the fuss was about.

To get around these specific verses that call Jesus the eternal Father, the Mormons on Yahoo Answers told me that Jesus is our Father in a different sense than God the Father is. Jesus is our father in two senses--(1) in the sense that we are reborn through baptism, becoming his sons and daughters, and (2) in the sense that Jesus created our physical bodies.

I went back and read those verses with that in mind, to see if it meshed. I doubt that was the intention of the author of the BOM since Jesus is called "the very Eternal Father" in Alma 11:38-39. If Jesus is the very Eternal Father, then who is that other guy? Mosiah 15:1-4 says explicitly why Jesus is called the father. It says he was called "the Father, because he was conceived by the power of God."

The Mormons on Yahoo Answers also told me that the father, son, and holy spirit are one in unity and purpose--the same sense in which believers are to be one with each other and in which husbands and wives are one with each other. But Alma 11:44 explicitly says they are "one Eternal God," which tells us the sense in which they are one. They are one God; one being.

Since I posted that question, I've seen a lot of Mormons refer to a "godhead," when talking about the father, son, and holy spirit, rather than simply saying "God," like Alma 11:44 does. By "godhead," they seem to mean a council of gods that includes the father, son, and holy spirit.

Some time after Kay gave me her testimony, and I began to read about Mormonism, she warned me that not everybody claiming to be Mormon was part of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. There were heretical off-shoots. If the Book of Mormon really is the word of God, then I'd probably be enclined to think the LDS Church was the heretical group, and I'd search out some of these other branches to see if they adhered more closely to the BOM than the LDS Church does. It would be interesting to find out if there are any modalists among them and whether this issue had anything to do with why they split.

In the comment section of Part 1 of this series, Tracy gave me a link to an article by Barry R. Bickmore called "Of Simplicity, Oversimplification, and Monotheism." It's a long article, but I encourage everybody to read the first section--The Unity and Plurality of God. I have never seen a better example of how Mormons redefine words. If you read that section carefully, it sheds a lot of light on why some Mormons will insist that they believe there is only one God, and that we misrepresent them when we say otherwise. It turns out that what they mean by "one God" and by "monotheism" is "more than one God, unified in mind, will, love, and covenant."

I remember having a discussion with Kay several months before I found out she was a Mormon. She asked me what I thought about Mormons, and I brought up the issue of the eternal law of progression and how God was once a man, and how men can become gods. She insisted that I was misrepresenting Mormonism, and that Mormons believe there is only one God. When I told her about how some Mormons qualify that by saying one God for this universe, she still insisted that I was wrong and that there was only one God in all of reality. Now I understand where the confusion came from.

Part 13