Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mormonism: Joseph Smith's King Follet Sermon

Mormonism: Joseph Smith's King Follet Sermon

Two years before the Mormon "prophet" and founder--Joseph Smith died, he gave one of his most infamous and controversial sermons where he asserted God used to be a human and is not eternal, and that Genesis 1 teaches there are multiple Gods. Smith's sermon will be in black and my words in blue.

God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens! That is the great secret. If the veil were rent today, and the great God who holds this world in its orbit, and who upholds all worlds and all things by His power, was to make himself visible—I say, if you were to see him today, you would see him like a man in form—like yourselves in all the person, image, and very form as a man; for Adam was created in the very fashion, image and likeness of God, and received instruction from, and walked, talked and conversed with Him, as one man talks and communes with another.
Smith here shows that Mormons have a radically different idea of God than Christians, or even other Monotheistic faiths. Mormonism does not believe God is immutable, but rather had to BECOME God.  Going even further, he insists God still looks like a man, but chooses not to show it to us! He bases this on Adam being made in the "image and likeness of God." Like much of Mormon doctrine it seems to have an origin in Jewish mysticism, neo-Platonism, and old fashioned paganism, in this case the rabbinical writing Genesis Rabbah 8:10 does has a section where a rabbi insists Adam looked exactly like God.  However, the issue is we know what "image of God" means in the ancient world, as many Jewish commentaries like Etz Hayim mention, in the ancient Middle East kings were often called the "image of a god," so the Bible here is telling us all human beings are made in the image of God, and this is repeated in the Noachide laws of Genesis  9:6.  So rather that one person being the image of God, all men are, thus democraticizing it, and showing all humans were made to rule the earth and endowed with free will and intellect by God.  Joseph Smith, however, ignoring traditional understanding, or being ignorant of the expression interprets it literally. Furthermore, if God was a man, why doesn't Joseph Smith tell us where God when He was a man came from? Who created him?   
In order to understand the subject of the dead, for consolation of those who mourn for the loss of their friends, 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 seems to be only concern with how a man became god and unconcerned with the much bigger question of where he came from.  Furthermore, Smith's statement about God not being God "from eternity" seems to contradict his own holy book: 
For behold, God knowing all things, being from everlasting to everlasting, behold, he sent angels to minister unto the children of men, to make manifest concerning the coming of Christ; and in Christ there should come every good thing.--Moroni 7:22
Perhaps Smith has his own ideas of what "everlasting" and "eternal" mean also?
These ideas are incomprehensible to some, but they are simple. It is the first principle of the gospel to know for a certainty the character of God, and to know that we may converse with Him as one man converses with another, and that He was once a man like us; yea, that God himself, the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth, the same as Jesus Christ Himself did; and I will show it from the Bible.
This analogy seems to imply Jesus was not God before hand since he went through the same process as the Father. We know this is not the case because John 1:1 said the "word WAS God" in regards to "the beginning."
Eternal Life to Know God and Jesus Christ
I wish I was in a suitable place to tell it, and that I had the trump of an archangel, so that I could tell the story in such a manner that persecution would cease forever. What did Jesus say? (Mark it, Elder Rigdon!) The scriptures inform us that Jesus said, as the Father hath power in himself, even so hath the Son power—to do what? Why, what the Father did. The answer is obvious—in a manner to lay down his body and take it up again. Jesus, what are you going to do? To lay down my life as my Father did, and take it up again. Do you believe it? If you do not believe it you do not believe the Bible. The scriptures say it, and I defy all the learning and wisdom and all the combined powers of earth and hell together to refute it.
Here we see the "prophet" cannot get the verse right, Mormons say Smith is paraphrasing John 5:26 which reads:
"For just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself;--John 5:26
 The verse is nothing to do with the Father and Son having died once and needing to resurrect, otherwise someone would have have to have given the Father power to die and resurrect likewise!  Ofcourse, Smith does not want to provide or refer to this person.  Furthermore, Smith completely misunderstands the verse--its talking about the Father posessing life--that is "salvation" and giving the ability to save to the Son, and its not talking about themselves, the whole context of John 5:26 is the Son judgement and giving life to people, whether spiritual or physical, though spiritual life (salvation) is the one emphasized the most as in
Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.--John 5:24
 those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.--John 5:29
Furthermore, we have a similar verse to John 5:26 only a few verses before, but about judgement--which Jesus contrasts with life
The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son,--John 5:22
The Father gave the Son JUDGEMENT and LIFE, refering to the ability to damn and save people, just as verse John 5:29 that I posted above shows!
 Here, then, is eternal life—to know the only wise and true God; and you have got to learn how to be gods yourselves, and to be kings and priests to God, the same as all gods have done before you, namely, by going from one small degree to another, and from a small capacity to a great one; from grace to grace, from exaltation to exaltation, until you attain to the resurrection of the dead, and are able to dwell in everlasting burnings, and to sit in glory, as do those who sit enthroned in everlasting power. And I want you to know that God, in the last days, while certain individuals are proclaiming His name, is not trifling with you or me.
Great advertising technique, tell your members they too can become Gods!  This is incredibly different from the historical Christian doctrine of Theosis, which is about becoming by grace what God is by nature, not about achieving some Divine powers and being transformed into a member of a pantheon! Interestingly, he says there are already gods
The Righteous to Dwell in Everlasting Burnings
These are the first principles of consolation. How consoling to the mourners when they are called to part with a husband, wife, father, mother, child, or dear relative, to know that, although the earthly tabernacle is laid down and dissolved, they shall rise again to dwell in everlasting burnings in immortal glory, not to sorrow, suffer, or die any more, but they shall be heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ.
If we were to read this section by itself as it it were written by an ordinary, it does not sounds strange, pagan, or crazy, but nothing Joseph Smith his idea of "heirs" is very different.
What is it? To inherit the same power, the same glory and the same exaltation, until you arrive at the station of a god, and ascend the throne of eternal power, the same as those who have gone before. What did Jesus do? Why, I do the things I saw my Father do when worlds came rolling into existence.
This is just a power trip, power is a common theme in new age religions like Wicca too and is part of its appeal to the weak.  Also, notice how Smith seems to invent a quote that vague resembles a real saying of Jesus, partly by combining sayings of Jesus and smashing quotes together--just as he did several times through out the book of Mormon (especially about baptism read 3 Nephi 11):

glory that I had with you before the world existed.--John 17:5
the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.--John 5:19
Mormons like John 5:19 especially, because they argue that Jesus can only ressurect because he was the Father ressurect himself once, however Jesus is talking again about life and judgement, about how the Father is at work, so the Son is likewise as in the verse prior
Jesus answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.”-John 5:17
My Father worked out His kingdom with fear and trembling, and I must do the same; and when I get my kingdom, I shall present it to My Father, so that He may obtain kingdom upon kingdom, and it will exalt Him in glory. He will then take a higher exaltation, and I will take His place, and thereby become exalted myself. So that Jesus treads in the tracks of His Father, and inherits what God did before; and God is thus glorified and exalted in the salvation and exaltation of all His children. It is plain beyond disputation, and you thus learn some of the first principles of the gospel, about which so much hath been said.
"Fear and trembling" is a phrase found about 4 times in the New Testament and is only used about humans, not God, likewise the Book of Mormon uses it obviously in Mormon 9:27 taking from Philippians 2:12 about "working out your salvation with fear and trembling." Who does God have to fear and trembling over? is it himself? The implication is that there is someone he reports to, but of course Smith does not want to talk about that here either!  In this section Smith is still making God the Father and Jesus out to be self seeking for self exaltation and to glorify themselves and ascend up some ladder of godhood--much different than the Jesus of John 17:5 where Jesus asks to be RESTORED to His previous glory, rather than being GIVEN NEW GLORY:
And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was--John 17:5
Furthermore, a Jesus wanting to exalt himself gives us a Jesus radically diffferent that the Biblical one that came in form of a servant as Phillippians 2:7 and was exalted by God the Father because of it, especially since the Mormon Jesus gets to take his father's place! This is an extremely selfish, motivated Jesus--he gets a huge personal payout by helping man kind, he gets to take his father's job!
When you climb up a ladder, you must begin at the bottom, and ascend step by step, until you arrive at the top; and so it is with the principles of the gospel—you must begin with the first, and go on until you learn all the principles of exaltation. But it will be a great while after you have passed through the veil before you will have learned them. It is not all to be comprehended in this world; it will be a great work to learn our salvation and exaltation even beyond the grave. I suppose I am not allowed to go into an investigation of anything that is not contained in the Bible. If I do, I think there are so many over-wise men here that they would cry “treason” and put me to death. So I will go to the old Bible and turn commentator today.
Joseph Smith is presenting his religion as a sort of 12 step program where a persons goal is to achieve greater and greater degrees of godhood by working their way up, perhaps even getting to take Jesus' spot?
I shall comment on the very first Hebrew word in the Bible; I will make a comment on the very first sentence of the history of creation in the Bible—Berosheit. I want to analyze the word. Baith—in, by, through, and everything else. Rosh—the head, Sheit—grammatical termination. When the inspired man wrote it, he did not put the baith there. An old Jew without any authority added the word; he thought it too bad to begin to talk about the head!
There is no evidence whatsoever for this assertion that the "baith" or rather "beth" or "beit"--the second letter of the Hebrew alphabet was added to Genesis 1:1, in fact a Mormon apologist from FAIR on this point desperately tried to prove so with the following statement:
The idea that the Hebrew letter b (b) was a later addition was attested by some medieval Jewish commentators. Rabbi Abraham Ibn Ezra (born 1189), in his commentary on this verse, wrote, “Our scholars said that the bet in [bereshit] is superfluous.” Translator Michael Linetsky notes, “Apparently he refers to Rabbi Saadiah Gaon, followed by Ibn Janah (see Riqmah, p. 86, n. 3) and probably Ibn Balcam (commentary to Hos. 1:1), who rendered our verse as: The beginning of what (or the first thing) God created was the sky and the earth as though the bet had been discarded.”--FAIRMormon on the King Follet Discourse
However, here is what Ibn Ezra REALLY said:
Our sages have said that the [letter] bet was added, like the bet in barishonah (“in the beginning”) Bereshit 13:4, for you find “at the beginning (rishonah) they travelled” Bamidbar 2:9. But were that the meaning, the bet would have been vocalized with a kamatz gadol. And there are those who say that [the word] bereshit always [appears in] attached [form], where the meaning is “at the beginning of the evening, or the night, or the darkness”. But behold, they forgot “he saw a beginning reishit for himself” Devarim 33:21. And there are those who say that the bet is a subject without meaning. Their reason is that it is unthinkable that there is no beginning to the heavens and the earth. Therefore, it said “bereshit. But according to my opinion, it is indeed an attached form, like “At the beginning (bereshit) of the rule of Yehoyakim”. Now don’t wonder how can it be attached to a past tense verb [instead of a noun], for behold, thus: “At the beginning (techilat) spoke Hashem with Hoshea, and Hashem said to Hoshea” Hoshea 1:2, “The city (kiryat) where David camped” Yeshayahu 29:1. The meaning [of this usage] will be explained for you in the second verse.--Ibn Ezra Commentary on Genesis 1:1
The word נוסף is translated as "superfluous" in the work cited by the Mormon apologist, while the work is translated above as "added", which is truer to its real meaning! Translating it as "superfluous" makes no sense because Ibn Ezra is giving reasons why its used. Ibn Ezra is not saying someone added the Beit there--he is saying why the author of Genesis himself added beit to reshit. No matter how its spun, nothing supports Joseph Smith's claim of addition by an "old Jew." 
It read first, “The head one of the Gods brought forth the Gods.” That is the true meaning of the words. Baurau signifies to bring forth. If you do not believe it, you do not believe the learned man of God. Learned men can teach you no more than what I have told you. Thus the head God brought forth the Gods in the grand council.
There is so much wrong with this claim. First of all, his rendering requires the reader to assume reshit is refering to the "head of the gods" where "gods" is absence in the Hebrew for "head of the gods." Furthermore, Genesis 1:1 continues on to say "the heavens and the earth"--Smith's claim only makes sense if you ignore the words immediately after. He would have to read "“The head one of the Gods brought forth the Gods. The heaven and the earth." This would not make sense in Hebrew since there is a word that cannot be translated into English 'et' in Genesis 1:1 that tells us "heaven and earth" are the direct objects of the sentence, so they cannot be made part of another sentence! The Hebrew reads:
אֵת הַשָּׁמַיִם, וְאֵת הָאָרֶץ--et hashshamayim v'et ha'aretz
Furthermore, Bara or as Smith seems to say it "baurau" NEVER in the Bible means "bring forth"--there are other words that can mean "bring forth." In fact, the Mormon translation of the bible available on the LDS site has "bring forth" several times in Genesis 1 (v 11,12,20, 21, 24; 3:16 etc) and the rest of Genesis and it is NEVER a translation of "bara."
I will transpose and simplify it in the English language. Oh, ye lawyers, ye doctors, and ye priests, who have persecuted me, I want to let you know that the Holy Ghost knows something as well as you do. The head God called together the Gods and sat in grand council to bring forth the world. The grand councilors sat at the head in yonder heavens and contemplated the creation of the worlds which were created at the time. When I say doctors and lawyers, I mean the doctors and lawyers of the scriptures. I have done so hitherto without explanation, to let the lawyers flutter and everybody laugh at them. Some learned doctors might take a notion to say the scriptures say thus and so; and we must believe the scriptures; they are not to be altered. But I am going to show you an error in them.

The scriptuers come no where near Smith's wild claims, he insists on believing the Scripture--I agree and the Scriptures show he is wrong, furthermore, he argues they cannot be altered--however, he accuses without merit Genesis 1:1 being altered by "an old Jew," which suggests Smith himself is altering Scripture.
I have an old edition of the New Testament in the Latin, Hebrew, German and Greek languages. I have been reading the German, and find it to be the most [nearly] correct translation, and to correspond nearest to the revelations which God has given to me for the last fourteen years. It tells about Jacobus, the son of Zebedee. It means Jacob. In the English New Testament it is translated James. Now, if Jacob had the keys, you might talk about James through all eternity and never get the keys. In the 21st [verse] of the fourth chapter of Matthew, my old German edition gives the word Jacob instead of James.The doctors (I mean doctors of law, not physic) say, “If you preach anything not according to the Bible, we will cry treason.” How can we escape the damnation of hell, except God be with us and reveal to us? Men bind us with chains. The Latin says Jacobus, which means Jacob; the Hebrew says Jacob, the Greek says Jacob and the German says Jacob, here we have the testimony of four against one. I thank God that I have got this old book; but I thank him more for the gift of the Holy Ghost. I have got the oldest book in the world; but I have got the oldest book in my heart, even the gift of the Holy Ghost. I have all the four Testaments. Come here, ye learned men, and read, if you can. I should not have introduced this testimony, were it not to back up the word rosh—the head, the Father of the Gods. I should not have brought it up, only to show that I am right.
This is a trivial point that people that read the Bible in other languages see--sometimes different names are used, does it prove anything really no, just that in English we've associated the New Testament people named Jacob (Yaakov) as being "James." It's silly that a person that is a great prophet should make a big deal about this. I seriously doubt Smith could really read German, Latin or Hebrew--the prophet just could see words. If he knew Hebrew--it was the very little he learned from a Hebrew professor the church paid to give lessons--who was not even Mormon.
A Council of the Gods
In the beginning, the head of the Gods called a council of the Gods; and they came together and concocted [prepared] a plan to create the world and people it. When we begin to learn this way, we begin to learn the only true God, and what kind of a being we have got to worship. Having a knowledge of God, we begin to know how to approach Him, and how to ask so as to receive an answer.
When we understand the character of God, and know how to come to Him, he begins to unfold the heavens to us, and to tell us all about it. When we are ready to come to him, he is ready to come to us.
Now, I ask all who hear me, why the learned men who are preaching salvation, say that God created the heavens and the earth out of nothing? The reason is, that they are unlearned in the things of God, and have not the gift of the Holy Ghost; they account it blasphemy in any one to contradict their idea. If you tell them that God made the world out of something, they will call you a fool. But I am learned, and know more than all the world put together. The Holy Ghost does, anyhow, and he is within me, and comprehends more than all the world; and I will associate myself with him.

This is neo-Platonism, a Greek Philosophy that some Jews accepted that teaches that the universe is made from eternal, uncreated elements. He humbly says he "knows more than all the world put together!" Yet, he makes very simply mistakes!

Meaning of the Word Create
You ask the learned doctors why they say the world was made out of nothing, and they will answer, “Doesn’t the Bible say he created the world?” And they infer, from the word create, that it must have been made out of nothing. Now, the word create came from the word baurau, which does not mean to create out of nothing; it means to organize; the same as a man would organize materials and build a ship. Hence we infer that God had materials to organize the world out of chaos—chaotic matter, which is element, and in which dwells all the glory. Element had an existence from the time He had. The pure principles of element are principles which can never be destroyed; they may be organized and re-organized, but not destroyed. They had no beginning and can have no end.
This contradicts what he said previously about the word "bara" or as he says "baurau" where he said it means "bring forth," yet now he says it means "to organize." Here Smith plainly shows his pagan thinking, in addition to teaching many gods, he is teaching the universe preexisted God himself, which is exactly what the pagan Greeks believed in their mythology until being enlightened by the Gospel of Christ! 

1 comment:

  1. The sermon is implicitly canonical, just as Medieval Mormonism (i.e. Islam) would never go against anything Mohammed taught, so too Mormons would never say what Smith taught here was heresy.

    The King Follett Sermon is even available on the LDS website and has been republished in the official LDS magazine at times: