Board index Mormonism; Latter Day Saints

Let's talk about the Church of the Latter Day Saints, in some circles known as Mormonism.

Are Mormons Christian?

Postby Weight Lifter 3 » Tue Jul 17, 2018 2:54 pm

It seems to me that the general consensus is no. I propose that they are. What does it take to be a Christian? To accept Jesus Christ as your savior. That's all it takes. Mormons also believe he is the son of God, and believe in the bible.

According to you, what does it take to be considered Christian?
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Re: Are Mormons Christian?

Postby Average Joe » Tue Jul 17, 2018 2:58 pm

The problem is that what Mormons mean by salvation and who they believe Jesus is and God is, is vastly different from orthodox Christianity.

If someone said they accepted Jesus as their savior, but they believed jesus to be the guy down the street at Jerry's bait shop and by salvation they meant that they this guy was going to get them out of jail if they ever were arrested, well that would provide no evidence that such a person was a Christians.

Now, Mormons are closer than that, but it illustrates the point that merely saying they accept Jesus as their savior is not enough. You can use the same language to mean very different things.

That said, my personal opinion is that Mormonism is very very wrong and their church is a false church, but it is possible that some mormons, especially those recently converted, may be true believers. Because the language is so similar to orthodox Christianity, some may convert and believe in Jesus, without understanding the differences. But I am not certain about this.
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Re: Are Mormons Christian?

Postby jimwalton » Tue Jul 17, 2018 3:04 pm

No they're not. Allow me to outline some of the differences in what Mormons and Christians believe.

Mormon theology of Jesus:

1. Jesus is a son of God: one of many.

2. He was sexually born of God the Father (Elohim) and a heavenly mother, as was his brother, Satan (also a spirit child as the rest of us were), who went astray. Therefore, he was a spirit child of God just like the rest of us, but was chosen in the primeval council of the gods and foreordained to perform his earthly ministry.

3. Christ worked out his own salvation by worshiping the Father. He was ranked as a god, even in his preexistent state.

4. He is not deity, but is a spirit‑child of God as all human beings are supposed to have been prior to their birth. He is not to be worshiped as Elohim God, but is to be worshiped as a savior (Jehovah God). He is part of the godhead, but he is not our father.

Alma 7.10, in the book of Mormon) says he was born at Jerusalem of the virgin Mary, but that means, according to the Mormons, in the land of Jerusalem, the region of Jerusalem.

5. Jehovah is the name for the pre‑incarnate Jesus Christ.

Mormon theology of salvation:

1. All men (except a very corrupt few) will be saved, because of Christ’s atonement. All are redeemed by the Savior’s self‑sacrifice from the individual consequences of the Fall.

2. Salvation is available because of the atoning blood of Christ. Christ’s death on the cross was partially effective in saving the sinner. Good works are also necessary. It is received only on condition of faith, repentance, baptism, and enduring to the end in keeping the commandments of God.

3. Baptism by Mormon officials is necessary for salvation (Doctrines and Covenants 112.29)

4. The dead can be baptized by proxy (1 Cor 15.29)

5. Our atonement is made possible by Christ’s death (Alma 21.9), but only possible. We must do the rest.

6. Christ’s death is not the basis of forgiveness; Salvation from sin is obtainable only through obedience. Christ’s work opens the door: Man’s work must do the rest.

7. To reach the Celestial place (the highest glory of heaven where God resides), one must be married.

In other words, Mormons believe Jesus is a son of God, but not God. Salvation comes not by accepting Jesus as your savior but instead by being a good person and by being baptized by Mormon officials. And Mormons believe that the Bible has been corrupted, so they don't really believe in it. The Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and The Pearl of Great Price are more sacred to them than the Bible.
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Re: Are Mormons Christian?

Postby Spiderman » Tue Jul 17, 2018 4:41 pm

> Jesus is a son of God: one of many.

this seems supported by the bible, which mentions other sons of god.

> He was sexually born of God the Father (Elohim) and a heavenly mother, as was his brother, Satan (also a spirit child as the rest of us were), who went astray.

the book of job mentions that the adversary (ha-satan) is among the sons of god.

> He is part of the godhead, but he is not our father.

well, yeah, that's also true of the trinity.
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Re: Are Mormons Christian?

Postby jimwalton » Tue Jul 17, 2018 4:47 pm

> this seems supported by the bible, which mentions other sons of god.

Of course the Bible mentions other sons of God, but Jesus is presented as the only unique, unparalleled, incomparable son (John 3.16: μονογενῆ ). Christ is without beginning. He has a unique relationship with YHWH in personal fellowship (the whole book of John): they share a nature and are of the same essence. This is not true of other mentions of the sons of God when the phrase refers to angels, "the heavenly council," or even human beings. μονογενῆ is used in Jn. 3.16 to mark out Jesus as in a different category than any other earthly or heavenly beings. Christian theology is a very different concept than what Mormons believe about Jesus.

> the book of job mentions that the adversary (ha-satan) is among the sons of god.

We need to understand more than words (the locution). We have to think about what is being communicated with the words—the illocution. In Job 1.6 the "sons of God" came to present themselves before the Lord, and the adversary came with them. First of all, "Satan" here is not a name (since there is a definite article). It portrays this being's role as the prosecutor of God. Second, in the OT the divine council is portrayed as how God administrates the cosmos. It differs from divine councils in the other religions of the ancient Near East. The sons of God are equated to the host of heaven. In the OT council, however (different from the surrounding cultures), while the sons of God can be cantankerous or rebellious, they are always held in check with a tight rein (Ps. 82). YHWH gives them assignments (Dt. 32.8) and solicits them for their ideas (1 Ki. 22.19-22). He engages with them and counsels with them (Gn. 1.26; 3.22; 11.7; Isa. 6.8), though He doesn't need them (Isa. 40.12-14). But the major difference between the Bible and the ANE is that none of the sons of God in the council are on an equal par with YHWH (Ps. 89.6-8), nor do they carry their own divine authority. Whatever authority they have has been delegated to them (not distributed to them) by YHWH.

In the ANE, the "sons of the gods" were lesser members of the pantheon. In both Mesopotamian and Ugaritic texts there are glimpses of the meetings of the gods and their divine court. In Israel, by contrast, the sons of God are angels.

This is very different from Mormon theology, which take Jesus and Satan as brothers, conceived sexually by the Heavenly Father and the Heavenly Mother.

You missed one very important thing I said. In Mormon theology, Jesus is not deity. That's what makes them not Christians. You can't be a Christian if you don't believe in the deity of Christ. In Christianity, Jesus and YHWH are the same essence: 1 deity. In Mormon theology, Jesus is not God, he is not of the same essence as YHWH (the Father), and he is only part of godhead (for Mormons) in the sense that we all are: all men will become gods (the Mormon doctrine of "eternal improvement": one day we will all be gods, and Jesus will one day, as Elohim has become, and Elohim's father, and grandfather, and great-grandfather...). This is vastly different than anything Christians believe. All of this stuff is what we call heresy: pure out lies.
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Re: Are Mormons Christian?

Postby Spiderman » Wed Jul 18, 2018 1:15 pm

> Of course the Bible mentions other sons of God, but Jesus is presented as the only unique, unparalleled, incomparable son (John 3.16: μονογενῆ ).

only begotten? how were the other ones made?

> Christ is without beginning.

early christology varied on this; i don't think we can say there's an obvious biblical stance.

> He has a unique relationship with YHWH in personal fellowship (the whole book of John): they share a nature and are of the same essence. This is not true of other mentions of the sons of God when the phrase refers to angels, "the heavenly council," or even human beings.

are you sure? the angel of the lord is consistently identified as yahweh, and philo's name for it, λόγος, leads directly into early high christology.

> Christian theology is a very different concept than what Mormons believe about Jesus.

considering all of the early opinions from the various churches before the forth century, all of which are "christian" just retroactively heretical, and all of the various christologies in the NT, i have no problem calling them christians. weird, heretical christians with a ridiculous extra canon, but christians nonetheless.

> We need to understand more than words (the locution). We have to think about what is being communicated with the words—the illocution.

well, let's start with understanding the words.

In Job 1.6 the "sons of God" came to present themselves before the Lord, and the adversary came with them.

not "with" but בתוכם "among". ב+תוך+ם. in+center+pl 3rd person. he's part of the group.

start with understanding the words, then figure out what they mean.

> First of all, "Satan" here is not a name (since there is a definite article). It portrays this being's role as the prosecutor of God.

correct, yes.

> Second, in the OT the divine council is portrayed as how God administrates the cosmos. It differs from divine councils in the other religions of the ancient Near East.

not particularly, no.

> The sons of God are equated to the host of heaven. In the OT council, however (different from the surrounding cultures), while the sons of God can be cantankerous or rebellious, they are always held in check with a tight rein (Ps. 82). YHWH gives them assignments (Dt. 32.8) and solicits them for their ideas (1 Ki. 22.19-22). He engages with them and counsels with them (Gn. 1.26; 3.22; 11.7; Isa. 6.8), though He doesn't need them (Isa. 40.12-14).

yes, this is all standard. compare baal's council in ugaritic myth.

> But the major difference between the Bible and the ANE is that none of the sons of God in the council are on an equal par with YHWH (Ps. 89.6-8),

the "incomparable" references are also common. the same is said of baal.

also, deut 32:8-9 in the DSS strongly implies that yahweh was a member of the sons of god prior to talking over as elyon. again, same as baal.

> nor do they carry their own divine authority. Whatever authority they have has been delegated to them (not distributed to them) by YHWH.

by el elyon, who appears to have been initially distinct from yahweh. yahweh's authority over israel was similarly delegated.

> In the ANE, the "sons of the gods" were lesser members of the pantheon. In both Mesopotamian and Ugaritic texts there are glimpses of the meetings of the gods and their divine court. In Israel, by contrast, the sons of God are angels.

this seems to be exactly what job is describing.

> This is very different from Mormon theology, which take Jesus and Satan as brothers, conceived sexually by the Heavenly Father and the Heavenly Mother.

it's different, yes. but not that different.

> You missed one very important thing I said. In Mormon theology, Jesus is not deity.

now, i'm not a mormom. but i've been to several services, and talked to lots of missionaries. that seems like a mischaracterization to me. you think that way that they believe in the deity of christ doesn't count according to your definition. that's a very different statement.

> That's what makes them not Christians. You can't be a Christian if you don't believe in the deity of Christ. In Christianity, Jesus and YHWH are the same essence: 1 deity. In Mormon theology, Jesus is not God, he is not of the same essence as YHWH (the Father),

iirc, mormons identify yahweh ("jehovah") as the pre-incarnate christ. they think the father ("elohim") is one level higher (which, again. has biblical support). it's a bit similar to arianism.

> and he is only part of godhead (for Mormons) in the sense that we all are: all men will become gods (the Mormon doctrine of "eternal improvement": one day we will all be gods,

the bible depicts men becoming like gods in, like, the third chapter...

catholic doctrine is that salvation is hinged on christ's hypostatic union, bridging our natures with god, so in that sense we're saved by being adopted into god. so... not that different.

> All of this stuff is what we call heresy: pure out lies.

sure. they're heretical christians. (but so are all protestants)
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Re: Are Mormons Christian?

Postby jimwalton » Wed Jul 18, 2018 2:38 pm

> only begotten? how were the other ones made?

The other ones are created beings. Jesus is the creator (Jn. 1.3; Col. 1.16; Heb. 1.2) and is Himself uncreated (Jn. 1.1; 17.5). All other beings—angels, Satan, demons, cherubim, seraphim, whatever all they all are—are created. Hebrews 1 outlines how Jesus is not like any of them.

> early christology varied on this; i don't think we can say there's an obvious biblical stance.

There is an obvious biblical stance, as I just related. Of course there are writers from the early eras that contradicted this viewpoint, and they were shown to be incorrect.

> are you sure?

Yes, 100%.

> the angel of the lord is consistently identified as yahweh

We don't know who the angel of the Lord is. Many scholars think he was Jesus, some think he was an angel. Even as an angel he would be identified with the one who sent him, viz. YHWH. But the bottom line is that there is no particular identification of who the angel of the Lord is, so a case can't be made there.

> and philo's name for it, λόγος, leads directly into early high christology.

In the same way, it is unknown what source John used for his use of λόγος in John 1. Various scholars speculate Heraclitus, Stoicism, Philo, or Marcus Aurelius. A more like source is the Tanakh. Psalm 33.6 speaks of the λόγος as the agent of creation, Hosea 4.1 as God's message to his people, and Ps. 119.11 as God's revelation of Himself as the standard of holiness. But since we don't know from where John derived his use, a case can't be made here.

> considering all of the early opinions from the various churches before the forth century, all of which are "christian" just retroactively heretical,

This sounds like you're claiming that all Christian beliefs are wrong, just that some are wronger than others, which is just an unuustified broad disclaimer. Such generalizations don't go very far. As far as "retroactively heretical," the Church Fathers engaged heresy head on as it happened. Of course they can't deal with it until it rears its ugly head, so it's unavoidable that treatment of heresy is retroactive.

> i have no problem calling them christians. weird, heretical christians with a ridiculous extra canon, but christians nonetheless.

If they're heretical, they're not Christians. It's like saying, "I have no problem called Repbulicans democrats. Sure, they don't believe in anything the democrats do, but they're democrats nonetheless." It's just nonsense to claim that a heretical faith system that disagrees with the fundamental tenets of Christianity can be regarded by you as "christians nonetheless."

> not "with" but בתוכם "among". ב+תוך+ם. in+center+pl 3rd person. he's part of the group.

Yes, no argument here. There is active discussion about whether the accuser comes as a full-fledged member of the council or as a prosecutor crashing the meeting. The language only suggests that he has come to give a report when YHWH is holding open court. (The book of Job is set around a courtroom setting and motif.)

> also, deut 32:8-9 in the DSS strongly implies that yahweh was a member of the sons of god prior to talking over as elyon.

Yes, I know that some people interpret it that way, but I don't. One of the key concept in Deuteronomy is unity: One God as sovereign over all things. And there are vast and significant contrasts between Israel and ANE (incl. Baalism) beliefs.

1. In the ANE, no entity possessed ultimate power. Jurisdiction and authority had to be shared, and each god was accountable to the council. But YHWH was the ultimate power and authority (Ex. 20.3). There is no pantheon to which he is accountable, no assembly of gods over him, no sharing of power.

2. The gods of the ANE were manifested in the heavenly bodies, the powers of nature, and idols in the temples. YHWH is not associated with any image or material forms (Ex. 20.4).

3. The gods of the ANE had needs, shortcomings, and weaknesses. YHWH is holy and perfect in all of his ways.

4. In the ANE, the gods were dependent on people. YHWH was noncontingent (Ps. 50.7-15).

5. The gods of the ANE did't reveal themselves permanently, to the confusion of humans. YHWH revealed his expectations (Dt. 10.12-14; Micah 6.8).

It's not rightful to say that YHWH and Ba'al were similar.

> it's different, yes. but not that different.

Oh my, it's RADICALLY different. There is no heavenly mother, God didn't procreate Jesus by sex, and Satan is never portrayed as divine, family, or in any way commensurate with Jesus.

> now, i'm not a mormom. but i've been to several services, and talked to lots of missionaries. that seems like a mischaracterization to me.

My understanding of Mormon theology comes from the Mormons themselves via conversations and research into their documents. They don't believe in the deity of Jesus except that he became divine by good works just like all of us will become divine by our good works. It's not a biblical teaching.

> they think the father ("elohim") is one level higher (which, again. has biblical support).

????? Where? How? What?

> it's a bit similar to arianism.

Exactly, and arianism was known to be off-kilter as soon as Arius taught it. Athanasius stood against him. Eusebius disagreed with Arius's conclusion, but tried to find some kind of compromise position. The Council of Nicea was called to resolve the Arian Controversy, and it did. Arius was denounced as incorrect and the truth won out.

> the bible depicts men becoming like gods in, like, the third chapter...

You've misread. Humanity has attempted to make themselves the center of order and the source of all wisdom, exalting themselves falsely to this position. They were trying to take God's role for themselves rather than eventually joining God in His role and acknowledging Him in it.

But the text describes their godlikeness not in terms of essence, status, or wisdom (and therefore not really Godlike at all), but regarding "knowing good and evil". In this sense only have they become somewhat Godlike in that they exercised their ability to decide. ("The knowledge of good and evil" in the ANE means the ability to decide, to formulate and articulate a judicial decision [Gn. 24.50; 31.24, 29; Dt. 1.39; 1 Ki. 3.9; 22.18].) Their "becoming like God" means that they knew the guilt of their rebellion and the violation of God's law. They have truly made themselves the center of order and the source of wisdom (like God), but falsely so.

> catholic doctrine is that salvation...

Yeah, I'm not catholic and so, yeah.

> sure. they're heretical christians. (but so are all protestants)

Umm...
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Re: Are Mormons Christian?

Postby Spiderman » Wed Jul 18, 2018 3:26 pm

> There is an obvious biblical stance, as I just related. Of course there are writers from the early eras that contradicted this viewpoint, and they were shown to be incorrect.

not just writers from the early eras. biblical texts. the "obvious biblical stance" is less obvious when you actually look at the texts critically and contextually, without assuming later theology. for instance, the gospel of mark appears adoptionist, and paul's writings might mean that jesus became the son of god on his resurrection.

> In the same way, it is unknown what source John used for his use of λόγος in John 1. Various scholars speculate Heraclitus, Stoicism, Philo, or Marcus Aurelius. A more like source is the Tanakh. Psalm 33.6 speaks of the λόγος as the agent of creation, Hosea 4.1 as God's message to his people, and Ps. 119.11 as God's revelation of Himself as the standard of holiness. But since we don't know from where John derived his use, a case can't be made here.

it may not be philo directly, but philo is indicative of late second temple hellenistic judaism.

> This sounds like you're claiming that all Christian beliefs are wrong, just that some are wronger than others, which is just an unjustified broad disclaimer.

that wasn't what i said. i said that it falls within the range of beliefs we call "christian" historically.

> If they're heretical, they're not Christians. It's like saying, "I have no problem calling Repbulicans democrats. Sure, they don't believe in anything the democrats do, but they're democrats nonetheless." It's just nonsense to claim that a heretical faith system that disagrees with the fundamental tenets of Christianity can be regarded by you as "christians nonetheless."

no, it's a disagreement about what counts as fundamental. the most clearly obvious definition of christianity is any cult that believes that jesus of nazareth is the christ, and centers their faith around him. when we start lumping specific doctrines into that definition, we run into problems.

> Yes, no argument here. There is active discussion about whether the accuser comes as a full-fledged member of the council or as a prosecutor crashing the meeting. The language only suggests that he has come to give a report when YHWH is holding open court. (The book of Job is set around a courtroom setting and motif.)

my argument is pretty straightforward -- the word used implies he is a member of the sons of god.

> In the ANE, no entity possessed ultimate power.

yes there was, that god was even called by the same name: elyon.

> The gods of the ANE were manifested in the heavenly bodies, the powers of nature, and idols in the temples. YHWH is not associated with any image or material forms (Ex. 20.4)

yes he is, he appears materially many times throughout the bible, including just four chapters later in ex 24. though you're not to make idols, yahweh instructs moses and co to make idols of the keruvim (AKA shedu, as in "el shaddai") and the nachushtan. oh, i know, they don't count because reasons, but they're functionally identical to idols and literally graven images associated with god.
further, it's pretty clear from yahweh's appearance on mountaintops, and his habit of striking people with lightning, that he's a storm god from the ANE model, just like baal. in fact, he even battles the same forces, the sea/leviathan.

> The gods of the ANE had needs, shortcomings, and weaknesses. YHWH is holy and perfect in all of his ways.

except for when he regrets things, or gets jealous, or... oh right those are all good qualities?

> Oh my, it's RADICALLY different. There is no heavenly mother, God didn't procreate Jesus by sex, and Satan is never portrayed as divine, family, or in any way commensurate with Jesus.

except for the parts where i just showed that almost all of those things were true?

now, the jews did reject the queen of heaven, but it's clear from the bible that at one point they accepted her. she's mentioned in jeremiah repeatedly by that title, and kings refers to asherah a few times. we also know from historical and archaeological data that yahweh was worshiped alongside a second goddess, anat.

> ????? Where? How? What?

jesus literally says that "the father is greater" than he is. it's in the gospel of john, even, the one with the highest christology.

> Arius was denounced as incorrect and the truth won out.

long term, yes. athanasius was also excommunicated for a time, and arius reinstated. history is weirder than you expect. regardless, we still refer to all of these groups, including the heterodox ones, as "christians". arians weren't some completely unrelated faith who just coincidentally had a savior they called "christ". they're part of the christian tradition, just a dead end of it.

> You've misread. Humanity has attempted to make themselves the center of order and the source of all wisdom, exalting themselves falsely to this position. They were trying to take God's role for themselves rather than eventually joining God in His role and acknowledging Him in it.

uh, god literally says, "behold, the man has become as one of us." i think you misread.

> Yeah, I'm not catholic and so, yeah.

well, cool, neither was arius. as we've just discussed, only orthodox christians are christians. so you're not a christian. glad we could clear this up.
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Re: Are Mormons Christian?

Postby jimwalton » Tue Jul 31, 2018 5:00 pm

> not just writers from the early eras. biblical texts. the "obvious biblical stance" is less obvious when you actually look at the texts critically and contextually, without assuming later theology.

By the same token, you're assuming that I haven't actually looked at the texts critically and contextually, which is not the case. I have. Your "obvious" is only the word you choose to use for a position you've chosen to take, not anything obvious in the text.

> for instance, the gospel of mark appears adoptionist

In the minds of some monarchianists. No weight here. I would disagree deeply with an adoptions reading of Mark.

> and paul's writings might mean that jesus became the son of god on his resurrection.

Yeah, again, such distortions of the Bible don't carry weight.

> it may not be philo directly, but philo is indicative of late second temple hellenistic judaism.

Of course he is, but that still is no evidence as a source of John's meaning. Since we don't know John's source, we'll have to "Philo" this comment in the "unsubstantiated" folder.

> i said that it falls within the range of beliefs we call "christian" historically.

Right, and I was showing you it doesn't. What became known as "Christian" is that which is true about Christ from people who had a chain of custody from Jesus himself. We're 2000 yrs removed. False ideas about Jesus were even around when Jesus was, and they didn't settle down after the resurrection. The apostles and their disciples had to keep tamping down the misrepresentations and lies about Jesus. As we're learning in our current political climate, anyone can say anything they want. But the purveyors of truth have to keep fact-checking and knocking down the false stuff.

> my argument is pretty straightforward -- the word used implies he is a member of the sons of god.

Your argument was straightforward, but your arrow didn't necessarily hit the target. Your term "implies" is indicative. When the accuser came "with" them, did he come as one of them with them, or at the same time with them? These are different things. One possible interpretation is that he was a member of the heavenly council. But since *hassatan* comes as a challenger/prosecutor, it's unclear whether he comes as a member of the council or to challenge the council, sort of as a watchdog agency there to raise questions and prosecute. The text isn't clear, regardless that you thought your argument was straightforward. He comes among the sons of God, which doesn't tell us if he is a member or if he is crashing the meeting.

> yes there was, that god was even called by the same name: elyon.

Elyon is well known as a way of referring to the chief Canaanite god, El, as one of many, though the father of the gods. El Elyon (along with elohim) is a generic identification of deity (similar to our English word "God") in most of the ANE. In the OT the term Elyon is almost always used as an epithet for YHWH, as here (Dt. 32.8). Here YHWH is dividing the disobedient nations as punishment for their rebellion.

> yahweh instructs moses and co to make idols

The cherubim and nachushtan aren't idols. Entirely different class of identification, and there's no way they are the functional equivalent of idols. The deity's presence was marked by the image of the deity. The cherubim and nachustan were not the image of YHWH. Rituals were performed to transfer the city from the spiritual world to the physical world in the form of the idol. This was never the case with YHWH. The deities were fed in the inner sanctum; this was never the case with YHWH. The image was to mediate worship from the people to the deity; this was never the case with YHWH. The deity was the reality that was embodied in the image; this was never the case with YHWH.

> further, it's pretty clear from yahweh's appearance on mountaintops, and his habit of striking people with lightning, that he's a storm god from the ANE model, just like baal. in fact, he even battles the same forces, the sea/leviathan.

It is true that the Israelites perceived some attributes of YHWH similar to their ANE cultural context. There were still significant differences, however, that your generalizations ignore or attempt to erase.

> she's mentioned in jeremiah repeatedly by that title,

Jeremiah mentions the Queen of Heaven 4 times. All of them refer to the worthless worship of people chasing false gods. It's not a reference to YHWH. "Queen of Heaven" would be possibly Ishtar or Asherah. She's a fake, a fraud, not the Heavenly mother.

> we also know from historical and archaeological data that yahweh was worshiped alongside a second goddess, anat.

Yes, all soundly condemned by the prophets.

> jesus literally says that "the father is greater" than he is.

Yes, I've studied John 14.28 in quite some depth. "Greatness" (μείζων) has a wide range of possible meanings: (1) spacially larger (measure: greater height; greater size), (2) larger number (quantity), (3) greater intensity (a great calm, for instance, a great deed), (4) higher rank or dignity, (5) greater power, (6) greater importance, (7) more extraordinary, (8) older. (9) more deserving of honor. So we have to determine by the context what Jesus means.

That the Father is superior to Jesus is not a point that Jesus has been making nor a concept He has been developing. He has been clear that the Father has a particular role to play, and the Son, in turn, also has a particular role to play. He has also been clear that He and the Father are one (Jn. 1.1; 10.30; 14.9).

Jesus's points about the Father have been (1) His love for the world 3.16, (2) He enables people to do good deeds 3.21, (3) He deserves worship and honor 4.23-24; 5.23, 12.28, (4) He is always at work 5.17, 36, (5) raises the dead and gives life 5.21-30; 6. 33 et al., (6) Has sent and approves of the Son 6.27, 45. The main points are that the Father draws people to Himself to give them salvation, He gives people life through the Son, and He sent the Son to reveal Himself.

What then did Jesus mean by "the Father is greater"? This verse is a re-cap of vv. 1-4: I am going away; I am coming back; you should not be troubled but be glad; I am going to the Father. Then Jesus emphasizes his own uniqueness and his own status: Jesus is the preparer, the way, the truth, the life, the revelation of the Father, the one who is "in" the Father, etc. The Father is the home owner (2), the goal and destination (6), the One at work (10), the sender (16, 25).

What we have is a scene of equality in essence but distinction in activity (in their roles). When Jesus says "the Father is greater than I," He can mean nothing other than during Jesus's incarnation, the Father has a role as Sender that outranks Jesus's role as the One sent.

> uh, god literally says, "behold, the man has become as one of us." i think you misread.

Duh, I know that's what it says. We have to discern what it means. There's a sign in front of my grocery store that says, "No Standing." It's in very clear English, but we all know that's not what it means. It's talking about cars and parking, not about people and standing. So you can't throw "god literally says" at me.

> only orthodox christians are christians. so you're not a christian. glad we could clear this up.

There's no reason to get snarky.


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