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Author: coralville Big red star, 1000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 196899  
Subject: Defining the nature of God Date: 2/13/2001 2:06 PM
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I have read with some interest the discussion on Mormonism and would like to make one comment concerning the Trinitarian concept.

The bible clearly states that there is only one God. However, the bible also clearly describes three personages that are Divine: God the Father, Jesus, the Holy Spirit. A perplexing question then is how can these three personages be compatible with a single God? As far as I can see, the bible does not directly provide an explanation for this. Therefore, it seems unavoidable that any explanation for how three can equal one is going to be based in large part on human interpretation and reasoning.

Since the 4th century A.D., the Trinitarian belief has been the accepted dogma of traditional Christianity, three persons from one substance. This stemmed from the deliberations and decisions of the Council of Nicaea, which was called by the Emperor Constantine who politically united the Roman Empire and was subsequently interested in uniting Christianity. The primary aim of the council was to deal with the “Arian controversy”. Arius championed a belief that seems similar to the Mormon claim. He suggested (I am greatly simplifying here) that Jesus was created by the Father and was both separate from and subordinate to the Father. This was of course rejected by the Nicene council as heresy.

I have read excerpts of the reasoning of the early supporters of the Trinitarian concept (folks like Origen, Tertullian, and Augustine). I admit to not understanding much of it, but from what I do understand it seems a reasonable explanation of the three into one paradox and it also seems consistent with scripture. Being consistent with scripture however is not the same as being scripture. What I see from my reading is that some very intelligent and devout men (yes they were all males) interpreted scripture to derive the Trinitarian concept of God. To what extent this human interpretation represents Truth depends on your own beliefs and choice of religious denomination.

I would also suggest that at least part of the controversy with Mormonism is semantic. Consider the traditional conservative Christian view of what occurs after death. The individual becomes independent of the physical limitations of the physical body and is no longer subject to physical death. The individual is brought in the presence of God and so gains enlightenment. Upon the defeat of satan, the individual will no longer be capable of choosing evil. In sum we have an individual who is not limited by the physical universe, who is essentially immortal, highly enlightened, and morally infallible. Some might define such qualities as "god"-like and such an individual as a "god" (lower case intentional).

It seems to me that part of what we need to do here is define how traditional Christians and Mormons define "god". What at minimum are the qualities that would allow a being to be called a “god”? Is what Mormons call a "god" the same as that defined by traditional Christians?

For example, for me an essential characteristic of “God” is the capacity to create something from nothing...God as Creator. This is philosophically called ex nihilo creation. For me there is only one such Creator and this is God. What the Mormons describe as “god” or as an “exalted man” would not qualify in my definition as “god”, at least from what I've heard so far. So to me, what the Mormons are guilty of is not the worship of multiple gods, but a poor definition of what god is and a misuse of the term. What I am not clear is whether Mormons believe in God as I defined it (God as Creator).
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