21 Comments

Gods in Embroyo / My First Sunstone

I attended my first session of Sunstone today.  I have to say it was really nice to be around people who wanted to talk about some things where I really respected the opinions of the speakers.  It was energizing.  I was able to meet some of my favorite mormons, such as John Dehlin, and D Michael Quinn (a former mormon.)  It was refreshing to be in an environment where intellectualism is embraced, not shunned.

My favorite session was on “ARE WE STILL GODS IN EMBRYO? THE MORMON DOCTRINE OF HUMAN DEIFICATION” by HUGO OLAIZ (probably because I just blogged about it.)  One of the most interesting points to me that Hugo made was Lorenzo Snow’s couplet  “As man now is, God once was; as God now is, man may be.”

According to Olaiz, it seems that most of the prophets embrace “as God now is, man may be”, but are much more uncomfortable with the “As man now is, God once was” part.  He said Pres Hinckley only quoted the latter part of the quote in the 2nd half of the couplet in 1994, and that it seems that previous prophets also had problems with the 1st half.

I was able to ask both Hugo and D Michael Quinn about the Eastern Orthodox position of theosis.  Quinn said that the Eastern position is more of a bodyless God, while the mormon idea is not.  He said that except for that major difference, then there are some good similarities.  Interestingly later he sat next to me in another session, and I pulled up the Athanisius quote in my previous quote, and I made the statement that it sounded strikingly similar to Snow’s couplet.  He agreed that the second half sounds similar, but the first part is not, and that most Eastern Orthodox and Catholics would have a real problem with believing that God was once a man.

Of course, Hugo talked about many other things, like the King Follett sermon, so please don’t think I’m summarizing his presentation.  I just wanted to highlight these points.

Anyway, at times the sessions were quite academic, but overall, it was a wonderful experience, and I hope that I will be able to attend next year.  I hope to continue to blog, but I will be finishing my thesis project this semester, so it may be tough to post as often as I have.

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21 comments on “Gods in Embroyo / My First Sunstone

  1. You’d probably be interested in the FAIR wiki article on “Deification of Man.” It has a great list of Bible scriptures supporting this idea of deification or theosis. Here’s the link:

    http://en.fairmormon.org/Deification_of_man

  2. I attended that session too and thought Hugo did a great job.

    From my perspective, we’ve been gradually assimilating into the greater Christian/American culture probably starting in the 1870s when the railroad came to Utah. We’ve resisted, and then given in, resisted in, then given in. Waves of gradual assimilation.

    Our quest for respectability and acceptance seems to be an obsession that I don’t really understand. So what if the evangelicals think we’re weird and going to hell. Why do we care? I’m not sure how would affect the church.

    So we’re in this big push to appear more Christian than ever, and it appears the doctrine of the origin of God may be sacrificed. How far will this assimilation go? What distinctive characteristics will we retail?

  3. I blogged about how much I enjoyed this session, too. What other sessions did you like?

  4. i enjoyed hugo’s paper until i realized at the end that he did not check the recent joseph smith manual which contains the “god was once a man as we are now” statement from the king follet discourse. this pretty much goes against much of his thesis and concluding statements.

    as far as eastern orthodox (and other early chirstian) notions of theosis go, their idea of deification is drastically different than the lds view. this is because tradtional (and eastern orthodox) christians have a completely different conception of god. the aristotelian notion of an omnipotent, omnipresent, and immaterial god is incompatible with lds deification. aristotleian monotheism cannot logically allow for any others to be of the same kind as god.

  5. As I understand it, the major “good news” (gospel) of Jesus was the resurrection. That is what separates Jesus from a prophet. Jesus is more than a prophet.

    If the Eastern Orthodox believe in a bodyless God, why is the resurrection of Jesus important at all?

    It seems that if Jesus is going to become bodyless, then the resurrection is just a miracle, and relatively unimportant in the grand scheme of things. Wouldn’t this make Jesus simply a prophet, not a god?

    To me, the LDS view of including the resurrection with becoming like god would be necessarily important.

  6. Seth, thanks for the links–those are nice, but it is interesting that some of those quotes were probably from people who believed in the trinity.

    Clair, thanks for your comments. While I understand your desire to not “water down” LDS theology, your comments do seem to be sort of a “circle the wagons” approach. I think better relations between LDS and evangelicals should always be a goal. Perhaps the LDS could become more conversant in the quotes that Seth gave to show that earlyl Christians believed in deification as well.

    BiV, I was only able to attend the Friday sessions. I found the “why is church so boring?” session to be quite boring. I seemed to gravitate to the “how can I stay active LDS?” type sessions interesting–not because I’m thinking of leaving, but rather because I find the speakers, John Dehlin, Claudia Bushman, Jeff Burton, Lavinia Anderson, etc, interesting people to listen to.

    Thanks for the updates. I enjoyed your blog about Susan Skoor, the apostle for the RLDS church. I ended up sitting near her often, and imagined Russell M Nelson at Sunstone–kind of a strange thought….

  7. Narrator,

    Its quite a big piece of news to me as an Orthodox Christian that our conception of God is from Aristotle. If it were, our conception of God wouldn’t entail that God was personal and it wouldn’t entail monotheism since it isn’t clear that Aristotle limited the number of unmoved movers to one.

    The main reason why the lds and Orthodox views on deification are different is because for the Orthodox we partake of the divine energies and do not become another instance of the type of being deity is. For the LDS view it seems that is exactly what is in mind. A futher difference is that for us, deity is non-contingent, but for the LDS, deities seem to be contingent beings.

  8. perry,

    i never said that the eastern orthodox notion of god came from aristotle. i said that it agreed with aristotleian monotheism such that god is logically the only god in existence because there can only be one absolutely omnipotent being. god is completely other from man and god’s creation as god is necessary and man is contingent. with the eastern orthodox creation, man cannot logically become equal with god because god is such that there cannot logically be another that shares his attributes equally. furthermore in the eastern orthodox tradition god and man are wholly other and are of distinct kind and that separation of kind cannot be transcended.

    again i do not claim that the eastern orthodox belief in god came from aristotle (though one could made the argument about aristotelian and neo-platonism influencing the christian conception of god). i am just saying that the eastern orthodox tradition (like the rest of traditional christianity’s) conception of god utilizes concepts of god first articulated by aristotle that were contrary to the polytheism and semi-anthropomorphic conceptions of god that inhabited the western world at his time. it is for this reason that some of the early church fathers claimed that many of the greek philosophers were unknowing christians.

  9. Narrator,

    I think you are confusing later scholastic formulations and arguments with the concept of God. The Orthodox conception doesn’t turn on or depend on Aristotle. And Aristotle didn’t advance the claims regarding God that you attribute to hm.

    While it is true that for us there is only one God, that thesis while possibly explicated using Aristotelian metaphysics in a significantly modified way, doesn’t by itself depend on that thesis. The claims you make concerning Orthodox theology are also mistaken. For God to be wholly other or completely different than humans, God would have to be being ad intra, but we reject that claim. Second we reject the use of dialectic as a methodology. Distinguishing things through opposite properties isn’t compatible with Orthodox theology. God and humans are not at two ends of a spectrum. Third, humans are made in the divine image and so there is no “otherness” or opposition between nature and grace. Fourth, God is not a “kind.” Even for Aristotle, being is not a kind or genus either. I’d invite you to consider the possibility that Orthodoxy is significantly different than Catholic or Protestant Scholastic articulations of the concept of God.
    Influence can amount to lots of different things. Everyone’s view of God is “influenced” by surrounding culture, and the LDS view is no exception. Orthodoxy is free to use philosophical terms but it has always modified them for its own purposes, and used them most of the time in an apophatic way. So it is historically false to claim that we utilize concepts taken from Aristotle. Pagan monotheism did exist in late antiquity after Aristotle, but it had a variety of forms. None of the ideas you have either attributed to Aristotle or agreed with his conception actually do in fact were held by him or agree with his conception of the unmoved mover. If you think so, please point me to Aristotle’s texts that you think support this claim.
    Some of the Fathers and witnesses in the early church did view some philosophers as Christians before Christ for their monotheistic outlook, but there are two things to consider here. First, this supports the traditional Christian claim and not the LDS claim since it is early evidence that the more informed early Christians held our view or something much closer to it. Second, they thought so not just for their metaphysical views on deity, but also for their moral views. But that is not a grounds for thinking that Christian moral thinking was unbiblical and derived from paganism.

  10. perry,

    i think you are reading way too much into my comments. i am not arguing that eastern orthodoxy is derived nor sourced from aristotelian philosophy. i am not claiming that eastern orthodoxy is unbiblical nor that it is pagan. neither am i claiming that aristotelian philosophy is exactly similar to an aristotelian notion of god.

    i am simply saying that for latter-day saints to point to eastern orthodoxy deification is problematic because lds and eo have completely different conceptions of god and thus have very different conceptions of theosis.

    as i said before, i am not claiming that eo beliefs in god are based in aristotelian philosophy. and by ‘aristotelian philosophy’ i am not even necessarily referring to aristotle. i am referring to the philosophical (especially metaphyical) concepts introduced by aristotle and departing from that of aristotle’s predecessors (such as plato’s forms). i am saying that early christian fathers utilized conceptions of god from aristotelian and neo-platonic philosophy to describe that which they believed were implicit or even explicit in biblical narratives. i don’t see this any different from your claim that “Orthodoxy is free to use philosophical terms but it has always modified them for its own purposes, and used them most of the time in an apophatic way.” to say that aristotle’s philosophy is not present in eastern orthodoxy is blatantly false. it is well understood that the metaphysical concepts first introduced by aristotle have been utilized in christian thought (including eo) to try to make sense of biblical statements about god. for example wikipedia (which i know is not a perfect source) states that “In metaphysics, Aristotelianism had a profound influence on philosophical and theological thinking in the Islamic and Jewish traditions in the Middle Ages, and it continues to influence Christian theology, especially Eastern Orthodox theology, and the scholastic tradition of the Roman Catholic Church.”

    i think your response is confused as it fails to recognize that aristotelian philosophy does not have to be necessarily stated by aristotle but is largely dependent on his drastic switch in philosophical reflection from his mentors in that he rejected the rather a priori conception of knowledge for an a posteriori conception that depended much on exerience and experimentation. this especially his metaphysical concepts that were very different from plato’s forms and have been utilized by christian fathers (including eo) in trying to make sense of god.

  11. Narrator,

    I am wondering why the Aristotelian conception of God is called Aristotelian if it isn’t in large measure derived from Aristotle. And you could have just said that we have different views of theosis because we have different conceptions of God without making an implicit argument in favor of a hellenization thesis. Of course to just say that will deprive your position of the ability to claim that the Orthodox teaching present in the fathers is supporting evidence for LDS views on the apostasy and exaltation.

    The great supposed distance between Aristotle and Plato is more of a myth than a reality. This is not to say that there aren’t differences, but the difference between them aren’t nearly so drastic. As I noted before the Father’s couldn’t have used Aristototelian conceptions of deity unmodified and advance the positions they did. The same can be said of middle and late platonic conceptions. A key example as to why not is Origen. If you don’t see any difference between saying that one is using Platonic or Aristotelian concepts and saying that one is using those concepts but significantly alters them, then I don’t know what to say. The two ideas expressed are quite different, not in the least respect to the latter Christian usage being primarily apophatic.

    As someone who has taught philosophy for six years I can say I think say that Orthodox theology does not entail or use Aristotle’s philosophy or Plato’s for that matter. Consequently, I don’t care what Wikipedia says on the matter.

    Aristotle’s difference with Plato is not drastic at all. It consists in thinking that energia was primary and not dynamis and that an eidos existed only in hypostases and not separate from it. Aristotle is not some crypto-Humean or Lockian. He does not think that knowledge is gained through empirical abstraction of represenstations since he thinks that the forms of objects are conveyed to the passive intellect in sensation. I suggest you read his Prior and Posterior Analytics.

    I would really like to know what specifically in the Orthodox view of God you think is dependent on Aristotle or Aristotelian philosophers. Which Aristotelian philosophers in particular conveyed these ideas and when and in what sources to what Christians?

  12. ever talk to a foreigner and feel like that if you repeat yourself louder he’ll understand?

    let me try this again.

    I am wondering why the Aristotelian conception of God is called Aristotelian if it isn’t in large measure derived from Aristotle.

    again. aristotelian philosophy is a school of philosophy that began with aristotle. among many things, it shares and continues logical and metaphysical concepts first articulated by aristotle. it greatly differs from socrates’ skepticism and plato’s forms. aristotelian philosophy need not have necessarily been articulated by aristotle; just as philosophical work by rush rhees, dz phillips, normon malcom, gem anscome, and peter winch is considered wittgensteinian philosophy even though arguments and claims they make were never made by wittgenstein himself; or just as work by antonio negri can be considered marxist theory but were never articulated by marx.

    And you could have just said that we have different views of theosis because we have different conceptions of God…

    i could just say that feet are different from hands. i could also be a little more specific and say that they differ as hands are located at the ends of arms while feet are located at the hands of feet.

    … without making an implicit argument in favor of a hellenization thesis

    i never made the implicit argument! i did point out that some argue the hellenization argument, but i explicity stated repeatedly that these philosophical concepts may simply have been utilized to describe concepts articulated by the scriptural narratives.

    Of course to just say that will deprive your position of the ability to claim that the Orthodox teaching present in the fathers is supporting evidence for LDS views on the apostasy and exaltation.

    I NEVER SAID ANYTHING ABOUT AN LDS CONCEPTION OF APOSTACY. nor do i care to. how many times do i have to point out that i am not making any case that the adoption of greek philosophical concepts indicates a departure from proper religious beliefs. i think latter-day saints who make such a bold claim are foolish and fail to recognize that their own tradition has adopted concepts foreign to their scriptural and prophetic narratives. christians can simply appeal to divine providence and avoid the whole criticism altogether, of which many do.

    The great supposed distance between Aristotle and Plato is more of a myth than a reality. This is not to say that there aren’t differences, but the difference between them aren’t nearly so drastic.

    plato’s forms and aristotle’s metaphysics were very different. you can be your own scholar and differ. you can also claim that the sun goes around the earth. do as you will.

    As I noted before the Father’s couldn’t have used Aristototelian conceptions of deity unmodified and advance the positions they did.

    did i ever say they weren’t modified? who said they couldn’t be modified? what are you even talking about?

    If you don’t see any difference between saying that one is using Platonic or Aristotelian concepts and saying that one is using those concepts but significantly alters them, then I don’t know what to say.

    again. i never said that alterations weren’t made. altered aristotelian metaphysics are still aristotelian metaphysics. just as d.z. phillips altered wittgensteinian (or as some call it neo-wittgensteinain; which is based on later-wittgenstein) is still wittgensteinian as it is still part of the same school of philosophy.

    The two ideas expressed are quite different, not in the least respect to the latter Christian usage being primarily apophatic.

    i agree to an extent. the aristotelian concept of god is different from the christian concept of god. the revelation of christ necessitated a difference. a difference however does not mean that they are wholly different. you should read ingolf dalferth’s philosophy and theology where he goes into much detail about the relationship and differences.

    As someone who has taught philosophy for six years I can say I think say that Orthodox theology does not entail or use Aristotle’s philosophy or Plato’s for that matter.

    does not entail? what does that even mean? do you teach ancient philosophy or philosophical theology? if so, maybe your students need a refund.

    Consequently, I don’t care what Wikipedia says on the matter.

    neither do i. it’s just run by a bunch of damn liberals anyways.

    Aristotle is not some crypto-Humean or Lockian. He does not think that knowledge is gained through empirical abstraction of represenstations since he thinks that the forms of objects are conveyed to the passive intellect in sensation.

    i never said he was a humean. however, he did depart from plato with his rejection of the forms and his heavy dependence on experimentation and knowledge via experience. the idea of the forms was crucial to plato’s worldview. aristotle rejected it. it doesn’t get more drastic than that.

    I would really like to know what specifically in the Orthodox view of God you think is dependent on Aristotle or Aristotelian philosophers. Which Aristotelian philosophers in particular conveyed these ideas and when and in what sources to what Christians?

    i never said anything was dependent.

    why do you keep assuming that i am articulating a hellenization thesis. i’m not. i’m no enemy. i simply began my comments here to point out that an appeal to early christian fathers and eastern orthodoxy as justification for mormon deification is problematic because the early christian fathers and eastern orthodoxy have a completely different conception of god from mormonism. this is exemplified in the former’s use of aristotelian notions of an immaterial uncreated un-moved mover who is absolutely omnipotent; and the latter’s belief in an anthropomorphic created moved mover who is not absolutely omnipotent.

  13. Narrator,

    First, Socrates isn’t a skeptic properly speaking. Second Aristotle’s doesn’t differ from Plato in the majority of respects. I think you have inherited an academic myth here. (You’ve also got some of the names of philosophers significantly wrong btw)

    Aristotle actually had few followers philosophically speaking. The vast majority of commentators on Aristotle in Late Antiquity were Platonists.

    To the point what specific theses do you take to be Aristotelian? So far I haven’t see any distinct thesis that is so.

    Putting the rest aside.

    If you didn’t make a specific argument for hellnization, then you made some kind of allusion to one.

    UHm, if Plato’s forms and Aristotle’s metaphysics are very different, then why does Aristole include Forms in his metaphysics? Here I am not being idiosyncratic. The is an established point among Aristotelian scholars and I studied under one of the world’s best during graduate school. But you don’t need to do that to know, all you have to do is read Aristotle’s book, Metaphysics. I have taught the text. Have you read it? Do you know what a formal cause is? Or what a secondary substance is? Have you been to graduate school in philosophy? How many years have you taught it? How many degrees in it do you have? I am not bragging here but you shouldn’t insult people who have specialized training that you lack.

    As for modification, you asserted that the Fathers used Aristotelian concepts as if they just performed a conceptual copy/paste maneuver.

    You keep talking about the Aristotelian concept of God. Who do you think from the 3rd century BC to the Christian era articulates this view? From whom do you think Christians supposedly drew this conception?
    As for your reading recommendations, I don’t need them. I have enough professional competence in this field to know a Platonic genera when I see one. I know what apophatic is. I’d suggest reading some Ps. Denys to start finding out.

    If you don’t know what an entailing relationship is in logic, I can’t help you much. I have taught both ancient philosophy and philosophical theology-the latter is my area of specialization. So I’d suggest you put your insults aside.

    Wikipedia is dismissed since it isn’t reliable and it isn’t peer reviewed, which is the academic process to weed out hacks, cooks, cranks and frauds.

    Again, Aristotle doesn’t reject forms per se. So there is no major departure from Plato there. Aristotle has quite a lot to say about them, if you read Aristotle.
    Omnipotence isn’t a specifically Aristotelian thesis. I think you are reading back perspectives and projects from medieval scholasticism into the patristic era.

  14. First, Socrates isn’t a skeptic properly speaking.

    I know. that is why i never said he was a proper skeptic. that is why i called it “socratic skepticism” which is a commonly used phrase to discuss socrates dialectic of questioning and doubt.

    Second Aristotle’s doesn’t differ from Plato in the majority of respects. I think you have inherited an academic myth here.

    i never said anything about the majority. i specifically was referring to their difference in methodology, metaphysics, and ontology. whether or not that is the majority, i could care less. it was different enough to be considered differing schools of thought.

    I think you have inherited an academic myth here.

    i’m just recounting what i have been taught by those who specialized in ancient greek philosophy. you are probably much much smarter than them.

    (You’ve also got some of the names of philosophers significantly wrong btw)

    such as? which did i get wrong?

    Aristotle actually had few followers philosophically speaking. The vast majority of commentators on Aristotle in Late Antiquity were Platonists.

    whether or not they considered themselves followers of aristotle, the adoption or use of his methodology, metaphysics, ontology, and logic is the use of aristotelian philosophy. for many beginning students of aristotle (today) his ideas may seem so obvious, but this is because our society today has adopted an aristotelian worldview. put into aristotle’s time, it was drastic and new. similarly, few people today would classify themselves as holding a copernican model of the solar system. they would just say that the earth goes around the sun. regardless of what they call it, or regardless of what they know of it, it is still a copernican model.

    To the point what specific theses do you take to be Aristotelian?

    the concepts of substance, universals, and the uncreated unmoved mover. i explicitly stated this previously.

    If you didn’t make a specific argument for hellnization, then you made some kind of allusion to one.

    all i said was, in a paranthetical, “though one could made[sp] the argument about aristotelian and neo-platonism influencing the christian conception of god.” that’s it. you turned that into something much more. i also pointed out that divine providence could be argued in defense from this critique. i never said either of them were right, nor made a thesis of either of them. i really couldn’t care either way.

    UHm, if Plato’s forms and Aristotle’s metaphysics are very different, then why does Aristole include Forms in his metaphysics?

    most commentators agree that aristotle thought plato’s ideas of the Forms were seriously flawed and that aristotle’s forms (or essence) were completely different. you can disagree with most commentators. most commentators on mammology argue that big foot does not exist, yet there are couple of guys claiming that bigfoot is dead and stuffed into their freezer right now.

    The is an established point among Aristotelian scholars and I studied under one of the world’s best during graduate school.

    i dunno who you studied under, i do know that the majority of scholars agree that aristotle rejected plato’s notion of the forms.

    all you have to do is read Aristotle’s book, Metaphysics. I have taught the text.

    so did my professor who taught the text to me and did his doctoral work in aristotle.

    Have you read it?

    yes.

    Do you know what a formal cause is?

    yes.

    Or what a secondary substance is?

    yes.

    Have you been to graduate school in philosophy?

    i am currently in the philosophy of religion and theology program at claremont graduate university.

    How many years have you taught it?

    you probably beat me here. i have not taught ancient philosophy. you win.

    How many degrees in it do you have? I am not bragging here but you shouldn’t insult people who have specialized training that you lack.

    while i was intending to insult you, i was not intending to insult anyone else. i know that ingolf dalferth (who i’m sure has taught more, written more, read more, studied more, and is much more respected than you in the philosophical and theological community) disagrees with you… but of course i don’t want to make an appeal to authority.

    … okay. i am making that appeal. but you started the game.

    As for modification, you asserted that the Fathers used Aristotelian concepts as if they just performed a conceptual copy/paste maneuver.

    no i didn’t. i just said that they utilized his concepts to help define what they saw articulated within the bible. you may be really really smart, but you need to stop building up straw men to battle with.

    You keep talking about the Aristotelian concept of God. Who do you think from the 3rd century BC to the Christian era articulates this view? From whom do you think Christians supposedly drew this conception?

    aristotle himself need not to have been read continually for his thoughts to have been influential. by the christian era, his worldview had become fairly normative in the mediterranean area. as i mentioned earlier, most people today maintain aristotelian concepts, have a copernican/heliocentric model of the solar system, and have a newtonian view of physics although most people have never read aristotle, copernicus (or galileo), or newton, nor have they had any schooling in these.

    If you don’t know what an entailing relationship is in logic, I can’t help you much.

    i know what an entailing relationship is. i think your use of entailment earlier was nonsensical or dependent on assumptions that i have repeatedly denied.

    I have taught both ancient philosophy and philosophical theology-the latter is my area of specialization. So I’d suggest you put your insults aside.

    now that i know you have taught these, i uphold my insults even higher. i’ve had professors i have disagreed with. i’ve had professors that other professors have disagreed with.

    Wikipedia is dismissed since it isn’t reliable and it isn’t peer reviewed, which is the academic process to weed out hacks, cooks, cranks and frauds.

    this is the same reason why i rejected nature‘s finding that wikipedia was more reliable than the encylopedia brittanica. nature is just a bunch of hacks, cooks, cranks and frauds.

    well actually, wikipedia is in theory more peer-reviewed than most journals out there.

    Again, Aristotle doesn’t reject forms per se.

    “per se” – such a lovely pair of words. i don’t think you are a terrible philosopher per se. bill clinton didn’t have sex with monica per se. i didn’t kill the taxi driver per se.

    So there is no major departure from Plato there.

    “major”. there isn’t a major difference between the heliocentric model and the geocentric model – after all, they both involve something going around something else. there is no major departure of interrogation and enhanced interrogation techniques – they both involve interrogating. there is no major difference between mormonism and eastern orthodoxy – they both use words like ‘god’ and ‘jesus’. there is no major difference between red and blue – they are both colors.

    Omnipotence isn’t a specifically Aristotelian thesis.

    “specifically.” need i play this game some more? the concept need not be specific or exclusive to aristotle to be part of his philosophy.

    I think you are reading back perspectives and projects from medieval scholasticism into the patristic era.

    you may very well be much smarter than me. you may very well be much smarter than all those i’ve read who have focused their studies on ancient and/or theological philosophy. perhaps i should throw out all of their books and ideas and just study you instead.

  15. So how does one join this conversation with just a philosophy 101 class from 25 years ago?

  16. mh,

    i’m sorry. you just can’t. unfortunately you just are not smart enough.

    i kid. i kid.

    bytheway, mike quinn is hardly a ‘former mormon.’ though ex-communicated, he is very much a believing mormon.

  17. I didn’t mean to kill the conversation, but I was wondering if you two could come down to my level and explain some of the terms you are throwing around. I am just having a hard time understanding what you two are talking about. Don’t get me wrong, it is interesting, and I am trying to look up these things, but I just don’t have the background, and I appreciate you all enlightening me.

  18. I’m jumping in way late, and do not really have expertise in Aristotle. However, it seems to me that there is a strong connection between the apophatic elements of Orthodox Christianity and Neo-Platonism. But, that doesn’t itself entail that they were just cribbed from the Greeks.

    In an article called, “Apophasis and Trinitarian Philosophy” Vladmir Lossky argues, “Despite the undeniable fact that the negative elements of a progressive divesting of the mind among Christian theologians are in general linked, in their elaboration, with the speculative technique of Middle and Neo-Platonism, it would be unfair necessarily to see in Christian apophasis a sign of the Hellenization of Christian thought.”

    I am wondering if part of the disagreement is to the degree that apophasis existed within Judaism itself and the early Christian tradition, before the influence of theologians like Clement who were, in part, influenced by Platonism.

    If there is little apophasis and a strong tendency of anthropomorphizing God in the early church, then it would seem reasonable to see this element of Christianity as a consequence of the influence of Platonism. (Call this weak apophasis, WA)

    However, if one can show more that apophasis was substantially present before Platonic influence, for example in the Old Testament prohibition of idolatry etc, then the incorporation of Platonic concepts into theology is just the use of philosophical concepts to illuminate existing theological themes. (Call this moderate apophasis, MA)

    Mormons seem to tell the story of WA, from which they conclude that the apophatic elements are merely the Hellenization of Christianity.

    My own take, as someone partial to gnosticism, is that these elements make themselves most clear in the Gospel of John. Interestingly enough Mormons downplay these passages strongly, which they must to keep their claim of WA. But I really don’t know enough about early Christian history to make any sort of determinate conclusion.

    Did I come to play too late? Anyone??

  19. Ok, let me see if I understand all these terms.

    Apophasis (and all its related forms of the word): This basically means that God is a mystery.

    Anthropomorphic – God takes on human qualities. The Greek/Roman gods were anthropomorphic, and LDS views of God seem to be anthropomorphic, not apophatic.

    Narrator says the “Aristotlian notion of God” is an omnipresent, omnipotent, and immaterial God. Perry disagrees with this characterization, but I frankly am having a hard time understanding what Perry is trying to say, except that God is mysterious, and that the Orthodox church does not depend on Aristotle.

    I don’t understand what “contingent beings” means, nor most of the other terms thrown around. I don’t know what Plato brings to the discussion of God.

    I think we can all agree that with the LDS Godhead, and the Christian Trinity, there are significant differences in the nature of God–specifically if God is anthropomorphic or apophatic. I think it is important for LDS to remember this when making arguments about mormon deification, but it still mitigates the evangelical argument against deification as being non-biblical.

    I think Gnostic, and Narrator both seem to illustrate the differences pretty well. I understand that Perry takes some issue with what they are saying, but I’m really having a difficult time understanding Perry. Perhaps Perry is more correct, but the whole mysterious God thing and related vocabulary is just not familiar enough to me to understand what Perry’s real problems are with Narrator’s arguments.

    I’ve heard about the arguments about homo-uzious vs homio-uzious. (I probably killed the spelling.) As I understand it, homo means Jesus and God were of the same substance, while homoi means that Jesus and God were of a similar substance. While I acknowledge that both homo and homoi refer to the trinity, I feel comfortable saying the mormons would probably be more comfortable with homoi position instead of the homo-uzious position that was adopted by the early church. Could someone comment on this?

  20. […] gods in embroyo my first sunstone […]

  21. […] received a pingback from my previous post on Theosis from someone at Christian Forums.  I have another post on President Lorenzo Snow’s famous couplet, “As man now is, God once was; as God now […]

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