Discussions of Mormons and Mormon life, Book of Mormon issues and evidences, and other Latter-day Saint (LDS) topics.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

A Limited, Finite God?

"Do Mormons believe in a limited, finite God, not the all-powerful, unlimited God of the Bible?"

Ever get that question? Sometimes we are accused of worshipping a limited, finite God because we believe He has a tangible body in whose image we were created (this is definitely a biblical teaching, by the way, per Gen. 1:26-27 and many other passages). So if that is a concern to a fellow Christian, we might in turn ask this: Was Jesus Christ suddenly less divine when we took up His physical body at the moment of the Resurrection? Did his divine powers shrink and his glory recede? Did His authority wane? We don't think so, and I don't think anyone teaching that Resurrection made Christ less divine could claim to have biblical support.

Through the majestic Resurrection, we believe Christ was actually adding to His glory and becoming more fully like the Father. In fact, the Resurrected Christ is said to be in the "express image" of the Father, meaning that He looks just like Him (Heb. 1:1-2; see also 2 Cor. 4:4 and John 14:9). God's power extends across the universe. He does not need to be a dilute incorporeal wisp of cosmic ether to have such power, nor does He need to comply with man-made Neoplatonic fiction about the philosophical advantages of lacking a body.

In fact, the glorious physical body of God apparently contributes to His power and majesty, if we are to believe the words of Paul in Philippians 3:21 as he foreshadows our own divine potential:
[20]  ... we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:[21]  Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.
Through the workings of His glorious physical body, the Resurrected Lord is able to subdue all things. This sounds like an amazing tool, not a burdensome limitation. The loathing of the body is something some of our fellow Christians need to get over. Though enshrined in some versions of the post-biblical creeds manufactured by bickering philosophers long after apostolic revelation ceased, it is time to recognize their limitations and restore the ancient recognition that God has made us to look a little like Him because, after all, He is our Father and we are His offspring (Heb. 12:9-10; Acts 17:28-29).

God is all powerful, but that does not mean there are no limitations. He does not do evil. He does not do the logically impossible, such as making the circumference of a circle equal to twice its radius (the number pi is defined by mathematical reality, not by God, and cannot be changed by God). The idea that there might be some limitations on God should not be all that surprising. Indeed, we have clues to that effect in the Bible. In Mark 10:40, Christ tells James and John that there is something He cannot do: determining who will "sit on my right hand is not mine to give." And then in Mark 13:32, the all-knowing Son of God explains that there is something He did not yet know: "But of that day [the specific day of the Second Coming of Christ] and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father." These limitations on Christ did not make Him less worthy of our worship or less divine.

I should also add that even God cannot not dump unlimited amounts of money into a nation's economy without harming its economy and debasing its currency, making Him in the eyes of some to be far less majestic than Ben Bernanke. But I think God will prevail in this matter.

15 comments:

Quantumleap42 said...

Jeff, it should be pointed out that in general the field of Christology is rather complex and is not always easily reducible to the characterization you have here. It is true that many American Christians hold a rather unique (and logically and Bibilically indefensible) view of Christ, but it is not representative of the major Christilogical views throughout history. Some of those different views are important because they represent some of the major divides within Christianity today.

Even still I would say that all the disagreements over the nature of Christ are irrelevant based on the LDS nature of God that you point out here.

aunmas said...

good

Kelly Merrill said...

It has always been my experience that those arguments holding the most sense and most weight are those who's logical parts are the most simple. Good job.

CF said...

in my experience, the bottom line is this: 99% of non-LDS Christians who have spent any decent amount of time studying us know we're right, they just don't want to admit it.

Their denial of it it almost always boils down to either jealousy, tradition, or feelings of inadequacy. Period.

Taking time to debate them is pretty much pointless. They already know we've got them, but like debating a 3 year old, they're just going to deny it anyway.

Anonymous said...

CF, a little harsh....

We need to rely on revelation to know the nature of Heavenly Father. We have received a little bit regarding the nature of Heavenly Father in the Doctrine & Covenants. It is easy to understand why other Christians believe in a God that is not constrained by a physical body, even though it is not scriptural. For instance, if we believe that Heavenly Father hears each one of us, that He is approachable and personal, that act alone takes a lot of cognitive ability. The volume of our skulls is finite, the synapses that create our neural networks, while extremely many, have to be finite as well as you cannot create an infinite number of pathways with finite resources. These facts do not bother me and I only wait until more revelation comes about the nature of resurrected bodies.

Stan Bull said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

99% of non-LDS Christians... know we're right, they just don't want to admit it"

Ever hear of Hans Mattsson? He was a solid believer and a pillar of the LDS church.He even became an “area authority” overseeing the LDS Church throughout Europe. Then, he started to Google. See the story about him in the "New York Times" of 20 July 2013?

Donna said...

thank you for this....I will be coming by more often...I hope you can go by my blog today, it is kind of special to me.
beachervision.blogspot.com

bunker said...

I have read about Hans Mattsson. He says he has some issues with things he wasn't aware of earlier in his membership. I, on the other hand knew about many of these things growing up in the Church and they haven't bothered me. Many of these things that he lists are all talked about on Jeff's LDSFAQ page and on FAIR. I guess Bro. Mattsson needs to check out your page Jeff? A strong testimony helps defend against some of these things we weren't aware of in our history. I am guessing Bro. Mattsson has/had? a strong testimony and will be back stronger than ever.

Isn't it funny when these types of stories come out and the antis start salivating? The same antis don't acknowledge the many truths that are found though in the Gospel. The many evidences that have been shown. O well, it is to be expected I suppose.

Anonymous said...

Hans Mattsson says "I don't want to hurt the church, I just want the truth" Perhaps Jeff would like to do a post about Brother Mattsson and offer a considered refutation of what Mattsson has been talking about?

Anonymous said...

Please read the parable of the watchman/tower/vineyard in D&C 101. The Lord has already answered the questions, or rather not answered the specific complaints given now or in the parable. But those who are wise and take the spirit for their guide will be enlightened. I read all this, the comments and the transcript and D&C 101 has come immediately to me by revelation. We can receive answers but don't expect them to be what we expect.

Theodore said...

This is awesome!

Anonymous said...

Infinity has no beginning.

When LDS get accused of worshiping a finite God, it's because LDS theology teaches that God has not ALWAYS been completely God, that at some point a man BECAME God, thus.....finite.

The difference between the God described in the Bible and the God of LDS theology is the God of the Bible HAS NO BEGINNING. God has ALWAYS been infinitely, completely God, period.

In Exodus He calls Himself "I AM" meaning He has ALWAYS been. There is no starting point to God being God, no beginning.

The God of LDS theology says God was once a man and then BECAME God. That means God has not ALWAYS been completely God. If He BECAME God, that means there was a STARTING point. Infinity cannot have a starting point.

Please search any PRO-LDS websites, this is NOT "anti-Mormon" rhetoric. This is simply a fundamental theological difference between LDS Christians and non-LDS Christians concerning the nature of God.

Anonymous said...



Please search and study the teachings of Joseph Smith himself called "The King Follett Discourse" and decide for yourself if the God Smith describes is INFINITE or not.

Anonymous said...



A finite God? Joseph Smith said He was.

...God himself was ONCE as we are now, and is an exalted man...it is necessary we should understand the character and being of God and how He CAME TO BE SO; for I am going to tell you how God CAME TO BE GOD. 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...He was ONCE A MAN LIKE US; yea, that God himself, the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth

-Joseph Smith. The King Follett Discourse, April 6, 1844