At the same time the LDS Church leadership is taking mini-steps toward understanding the developments in science, along come the conservatives and biblical literalists, this time in the form of Dave Banack at T&S (12 Mar 2013). He argues that making theological accommodations to conservative Christians groups is important.
The subject of Dave’s blog entry at T&S is Lorenzo Snow’s famous couplet:
- As man is, God once was:
- As God now is, man may become.
He argues that the couplet is not LDS Church doctrine and should be deemphasized (or perhaps chucked). In order to do this, he chucks the King Follett Discourse (we don’t know what Joseph Smith really said), the teachings of Brigham Young (he is unreliable on doctrinal issues), and Lorenzo Snow’s personal beliefs. According to Dave, the belief that God was once a man, and that man may become as God:
- contradicts LDS scripture
- was never canonized
- has never been affirmed by any modern LDS leader
- damages the Church
While I don’t buy the first three (for reasons that are made by commentors on T&S), it’s the last reason that I find offensive. According to Dave:
the Couplet is often Exhibit 1 in a Christian argument that LDS doctrine is outside the bounds of Christian belief. Those are not “anti-Mormon” arguments–they are made by reasonable Christians with legitimate questions about why Mormons would apparently accept and affirm such questionable and problematic doctrine.
So, to accommodate our critics on the Christian right, Mormonism should trash one its most beautiful beliefs? To back up his claim, Dave quotes Stephen Robinson (from the book How Wide the Divide?), an instructor at BYU. This is the same professor who wrote–in the same book–“there is not a single verse in the Bible that Latter-day Saints do not accept,” and “We take the scriptures to be literally true, and we hold symbolic, figurative or allegorical interpretations to a minimum . . .”
Mormons, and particularly Mormon scientists, are increasingly understanding that much of the OT is “symbolic, figurative or allegorical.” Thus, I don’t feel comfortable with Stephen defining my beliefs, or the beliefs of the Church in general.
But the bigger issue is the doctrine of Eternal Progression (or eternal evolution if you prefer). If life makes any sense at all, I believe it must involve eternal personal development, and that we can take the knowledge that we gain in this life into the next. And I’m not just talking about religious or theological knowledge.
For me, Eternal Progression applies to everybody. including God. When we talk about the omni’s, and God being perfect, it relates to his knowledge and his power in relation to ours. For example, by comparison to us, he is omni everything. But only in a relative sense. Snow’s couplet is the essense of my religious belief, such as it is.
When I die, if there is an afterlife, I certainly hope there is Eternal Progression and that there are important things to do and accomplish. I don’t want to sing in the Tabernacle Choir for the eternities; I have a lousy voice and don’t enjoy singing.
Dave is concerned about being called a polytheist. I’m not!