01
Nov
08

ETERNAL FAMILIES

 

     I use to see them more often, but I still sometimes see the bumper stickers that say, “Families are Forever”.   Even though I don’t see as many bumper stickers spending all eternity with your family remains one of Mormonism’s more attractive teachings.

     But what I have found is that a lot of Mormons don’t see the connection between having an eternal family and becoming a god.  But that is the connection Mormonism makes.  “Eternal life, or exaltation, is to inherit a place in the highest degree of the celestial kingdom, where we will live in God’s presence and continue as families (see D&C 131:1-4)” True to the Faith, p, 52.  Note how the quote includes a reference to D&C 131.  That’s the same section that links exaltation with godhood.  “they shall pass by the angels, and the gods, to their exaltation. . .Then shall they be gods.”  (v. 19-20)  It’s obvious that official Mormonism links having an eternal family with being a god.  “Exaltation consists in the continuation of the family unit in eternity.”  (Life and Teachings of Jesus & His Apostles, p. 130.

     Many Mormons, in the course of a discussion, have mentioned to me how they are looking forward to having an eternal family.  I then ask them if they are then also looking forward to becoming a god.  That is something almost every single one has quickly denied.  After I show them the link Mormonism makes between the two, they often don’t know what to say.

     But what many Christians don’t realize is that the subject of eternal families offers us a wonderful window through which we can witness Christ to our Mormon friends.  According to the Bible, one result of faith – of trusting that Jesus has done everything for us – is becoming a child of God – becoming a member of God’s eternal family.  That, my friends, is a lot more glorious, a lot more attractive, than having my own eternal family.  There is one family that is forever – God’s family.  And you don’t have to get married in the temple to become part of it.  It’s God’s gift to us. “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)

 

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23 Responses to “ETERNAL FAMILIES”


  1. 1 Darrell
    November 1, 2008 at 2:34 pm

    Well said!! When my wife and I were coming out of mormonism that was one of the things that almost jumped out at me. The mormon teaching of families being “together forever” is ridiculous and an insult to Christ. I don’t mean that to be rude. What I mean is that if one believes that they will be with God forever and that their spouse and children will be with God forever… then it automatically follows that we will be TOGETHER with God forever. We don’t need a false “priesthood” ordinance to accomplish this. Christ has already accomplished it for us. To say that we need a priesthood ordinance to acheive something Christ has already done for us is an insult to Him.

    Darrell

  2. November 1, 2008 at 5:21 pm

    “becoming a member of God’s eternal family.”

    Mark, I think you utterly missed the point.

    The point of Mormon exaltation IS to become a part of God’s family. Not just limited to my wife and kids.

    In fact, you’ve missed the boat on one of the key passages on the Mormon afterlife contained in D&C section 2:

    “Behold, I will reveal unto you the Priesthood, by the hand of Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. 2 And he shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, and the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers. 3 If it were not so, the whole aearth would be utterly wasted at his coming.”

    This is quoting Malachi 4:5-6 of course and constitutes part of the Mormon scriptural grounds for baptism for the dead and other temple work. The core idea is to unite the ENTIRE human family as ONE FAMILY.

    Your remarks make it pretty plain that you are still operating from the standard Godmakers narrative that Evangelicals can’t seem to get out of their head.

    You seem to think that the Mormon idea of salvation is to get to heaven, give Jesus a thank you hug for his help, get your own “god” badge, and then wander off to some unpopulated corner of the galaxy with a couple wives and start making spirit babies in your own little isolated corner, free from God’s influence, supervision or control.

    This is an utterly trivializing and ridiculous portrayal of Mormon doctrine. The only way you get there is by having the Godmakers narrative as your starting point and then devoting all your subsequent study of Mormonism toward justifying that original first impression you had.

    The goal of temple work is the unification of the entire human family in one family. It is personalized at the popular level by talking about one’s immediate family, but it extends much further than that.

    And you left out the most important component of the Mormon heavenly family – God the Father Himself!

    I mean seriously, how did you miss that part?

    When we talk about having our family with us – that includes God. Where you unaware of this?

    Let’s be clear on something here. LDS doctrine never talks about “independent gods.” There are no jurisdictional boundaries here. Becoming “as God is” for me does not mean, and never has meant wandering off to do my own thing on my own “turf.” We participate in being “god” the same way Jesus does – through complete and absolute unity (perichoresis) with the Father.

    The way you describe it, you make it sound like God the Father won’t even be on board with whatever I choose to do in the afterlife.

    Fact is Mark, you may have some nice isolated scriptural and prophetic quotes about us. But you have utterly missed the boat on what it means eternally to be a Mormon. Your attempt to contrast the Mormon “limited family” with the Evangelical “God’s united family” betrays the prejudices and misconceptions you are operating under. There is no contrast on this point.

    The Mormon family in the hereafter IS “God’s family.”

    You’ll do a lot better with us when you stop going to cheesy cartoons for your paradigm about us.

  3. November 1, 2008 at 5:25 pm

    By the by, Mark…

    This blog could really, really use an RSS feed.

  4. 4 markcares
    November 1, 2008 at 10:20 pm

    Seth:
    I saw the Godmakers film once many years ago and have not looked at it since. I have never endorsed it and I understand why many Mormons would be irritated by it. Your statement that I was influenced by it is dead wro
    What I was recently influenced by was the blog of September 13th on Nine Moons – an LDS blog which lists you as a contributor. Read that particular blog and the numberous comments on it. YOu will have to agree that there is a whole lot more focus in those comments by Mormons on their immediate families compared to how much they talk about being part of God’s family.
    Besides, my main point was that many Mormons (at least ones I have talked to) don’t connect having an eternal family with exaltation, or becoming a god.
    On the RSS feed, I realize that it was not working for awhile, but the RSS feeds on the right column are working now – or so people are telling me.

  5. November 2, 2008 at 12:04 am

    Like I said, there is a difference between the analogies that are used to make a doctrine accessible to lay members, and the doctrine itself. Just because someone may use the analogy of being with your wife forever, does not mean that it is limited to this.

    My remark about the Godmakers was to illustrate something larger than the film itself. It’s this impulse in the Christian apologetics world to trivialize key Mormon doctrines in an attempt to make them seem less appealing. The idea that the Mormon “Celestial family” is somehow limited to the nuclear family of 1950s fame is a perfect example of this attack-by-trivialization methodology. As I have pointed out, it is not true either.

    Now, if you merely wish to point out a problem with popular Mormon folk beliefs, that’s fine, but you need to make it clear that this is what you are doing. Because such folk beliefs are decidedly not an accurate summary of the view one would get from a detailed read of Mormon scripture. So it is not accurate to level this criticism against Mormonism proper. It would be better leveled against the lay membership of the LDS Church, making it clear who the target is.

  6. 6 Darrell
    November 2, 2008 at 12:46 am

    Seth,

    I appreciate your attempt to make the mormon doctrine of celestial families seem more “christian” in nature. However, I take issue with the way you view it. The fact is that it is NOT commonly taught in the LDS church that when we sing “Families Can Be Together Forever” we are talking about “God’s Family”. It is taught that “Families Can Be Together Forever” is referencing “your nuclear family of the 1950’s” (using your phrasing). They hardly EVER reference the linking of God’s entire family together. I have heard it referenced in more of “passing” type of remark… but it is not commonly taught and the average mormon does not believe the doctrine of eternal families that way. They focus only on binding THEIR family together.

    Mark is not trivializing anything. He is talking about what the average mormon believes. YOU may not look at it this way… good for you. Based upon my discussions with you, you view just about everything differently than the average mormon does. As I have said before, so now I say again… you are NOT a typical mormon. Even you voting pattern this year shows that. (Just kidding!!! Don’t get upset.)

    Nevertheless, even looking at the teaching from your perspective, it is STILL un-christian in nature. It is taking Christ’s sacrifice and trivializing IT. Saying that more than Christ is needed for us to be together in heaven is a slap in the face to Him. The LDS church does nothing more than play on emotions… showing people videos with pretty music while telling people that they need the “sealing power of Holy Melchizidek Priesthood” to be with their children who have tragically died while still babies is sick. It is nothing more than an emotional sales tactic AND it is an insult to Christ.

    Christ has already paid the price and we do not need a MAN to perform an ordinance to make it possible. Praise be to God!!

    Darrell

  7. November 2, 2008 at 2:52 am

    One of the first things I ever learned about heaven in primary was that the entire human race was my family. I remember explaining it to one of my friends in 2nd grade.

    And certainly, the point of temple work in D&C section 2 IS taught – regularly – in LDS Church’s everywhere. Almost every time I have heard temple work taught, it is taught about sealing your ENTIRE family – all the way back along the genealogical line – clear to Adam. The fact of the entire human family being related is often linked to such discussions. Certainly, EVERY believing Mormon that I know of believes that God will be a part of his or her eternal family.

    If you bother to press Mormons on this issue, I think you’ll find that my view of things is most definitely unobjectionable to them, certainly allowed, and often outright believed.

    It is a standard line that people are told during temple marriage that the marriage covenant is between – not just the two covenanting spouses – but with GOD as well.

    This point was made by no less a figure than Apostle Russell M. Nelson in the last General Conference:

    “To qualify for eternal life, we must make an eternal and everlasting covenant with our Heavenly Father. This means that a temple marriage is not only between husband and wife; it embraces a partnership with God.”

    Me and my wife had it emphasized at our own wedding by the sealer, that the marriage had God as a third and crucial partner.

    I really don’t see how this is really that off the wall for most Mormons. Maybe you weren’t like most Mormons…

    By the way, keep in mind that even exaltation (eternal family life in the Celestial Kingdom) is achieved only by grace. The ordinances in the LDS faith – ALL ORDINANCES – are merely the outward manifestation of an inward willingness to make and keep covenants with God through His Son.

  8. 8 Rosie
    November 3, 2008 at 4:18 am

    I don’t understand quite how Mormons think that.. I am sure it says in the bible that we won’t recognize people in heaven and we won’t be spouses (the pharasees tested Jesus with this question when they asked about the wife who married her first husbands brothers). What happens to the Children of the husband and wife in the mormon heaven? Don’t they get their own little planet how does that work if their families stick together.. I don’t understand.

    If they believe that Heavenly Father is a man made god then how can he be apart of all their families? I know they don’t believe in triune god…

    I am trying to understand this religion so I can talk to my LDS roommates, but I really don’t know anything.

  9. November 3, 2008 at 8:35 am

    I’ll add my testimony to that of Seth’s. It has always been common understanding in any ward I have attended for a period of time that we are genealogy is to link all of God’s children to one another, including Him.

    We will be sealed to our families, and to our ancestors, all the way back until we will all be one giant sealed family, with God at the center.

  10. 10 Darrell
    November 4, 2008 at 1:10 am

    I will agree with you that the sealing ceremony in Mormonism does teach that God is a part of the transaction. When my wife and I were sealed together that was the case. However, most mormons do not go around proclaiming that their family being sealed together seals them to other people in the ward or stake. The sealing is mainly taught from the perspective on sealing your “nuclear family of the 1950’s” (using Seth’s terminolgy) together.

    However, that is really a non-issue. The main issue here is that the teaching that you need to be “sealed together” in order to be together in Heaven is UN-CHRISTIAN. It is a slap in the face to Christ. Christ paid the price for all of our sins and all we need in order to be together in Heaven is faith in Jesus Christ. Telling people that they need the LDS Church’s saving priesthood ordinances to be together in heaven is a lie, blasphemous, and an insult to what Christ did for all of us.

    Ephesians 2:8-9 “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”

    We are told above that being saved IS A GIFT and DOES NOT REQUIRE WORKS (that includes temple “WORK”). In Romans we are told that it is not only a gift… but by virtue of it being a gift IT CANNOT COME FROM WORKS (including temple “WORK”).

    Romans 4:4-5 “Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that WORKETH NOT, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his FAITH is counted for righteousness.”

    We are saved by FAITH NOT WORKS. If works were part of it it would mean our going heaven IS NOT A GIFT. Teaching that you need to go and do temple “WORK” to be saved ADDS WORKS TO THE EQUATION and we are told clearly throughout the bible that you are not sent to Heaven by WORKS. It is based upon FAITH ALONE. For heavens sake, you guys even call it temple “WORK”. How much more clear can it be.

    Darrell

  11. November 4, 2008 at 6:29 am

    I heard once from an Evangelical pastor that “we are saved by grace alone, but grace is never alone.”

    This was to convey the idea that true conversion to Christ will always be manifest and evidenced in the actions of the believer – righteous works.

    Under Mormon doctrine, I would say that a true conversion to Christ will manifest itself in ordinances such as baptism, the sacrament, and eventually the temple endowment.

    I do not consider temple ordinances to “save” me. For me, they are just something that Christ has asked me to do, and an outgrowth of an inward covenant I have made with God.

    Do a lot of Mormons probably think that the temple ordinances themselves are what save them? Quite possible. But I can only, on this particular point, report my own view of it.

  12. 12 Darrell
    November 4, 2008 at 11:25 am

    Seth,

    Question then… are you saying that under mormon doctrine I can get to the celestial kingdom even if I never receive my own endowment (either in this life or having it done for me in proxy after my death)?

    Darrell

  13. 13 Brad
    November 4, 2008 at 2:15 pm

    Seth, I agree with that pastor who said “we are saved by grace alone, but grace is never alone.” That’s absolutely true. And your statement that “true conversion to Christ will always be manifest and evidenced in the actions of the believer – righteous works” is also true.

    However, the key to remember is “manifest and evidenced in”, not “in part due to.” There’s a big difference between the 2. Unfortunately, if you look at what Mormonism’s official position is (regardless of whether YOU personally believe it or not, or have a different understanding of it), the works are a PART OF salvation, not just an EVIDENCE OF salvation. That makes all the difference in the world.

    If Mormonism believed according to the pastor’s quote above, or even according to your statement that immediately followed it, I don’t think they’d be far off (at least with respect to salvation by grace, though there are numerous other differences to still overcome). Problem is, that’s not the official position. Not saying YOU don’t believe that way, but talking about the official position here.

  14. 14 Susan
    November 4, 2008 at 4:52 pm

    Is the goal to teach Mormons their official doctrine or introduce them to the Christ we know and love? It seems that if we come across Mormons whose beliefs are closer to Biblical teaching than to official LDS teaching, we ought to praise God for that and start from there.

  15. 15 Darrell
    November 4, 2008 at 5:11 pm

    Susan,

    Many mormons do not even know what the LDS church teaches. They have their own “brand” of mormonism. However, they still adhere to the belief that the LDS church is the only true church on the face of the earth and is the only way to get to the Celestial Kingdom (Heaven). As a former mromon myself I understand where they are coming from.

    In addition, there is a history with Seth that Brad is addressing which you are probably unaware of. Seth has his own extreme fringe brand of mormonism… it can be difficult talking with him at times because he is like a chameleon… you can never be quite sure if he believes what the mormon church teaches or if he has his own “Seth Rogers brand”.

    Darrell

  16. November 4, 2008 at 6:08 pm

    Darrell, I usually try to back up my position with LDS source material.

  17. November 4, 2008 at 6:36 pm

    Susan, there is a difference of opinion among Evangelical ministries on this point.

    A few ministries are OK with the idea of encouraging doctrinally correct belief in Christ among Mormons, but not necessarily requiring that Mormons leave Mormonism – rather encouraging a change from within. They hope to encourage an internal transformation of the LDS Church into a bona fide “Christian” faith.

    Other Evangelical ministries take the stance that the LDS Church is not redeemable and never will be. From their standpoint, Mormons with “Evangelical” beliefs are actually dangerous, because they create an illusion that it is OK to be a Mormon and still believe in the “correct Jesus.” This is probably why Robert Millet gets a lot of flak.

    Some ministries take the stance that there is nothing worse than being a Mormon, and even a Mormon becoming an atheist is an improvement. I kid you not, I have heard this view expressed.

    Maybe others here can add a few other options. Pick your preference, I guess.

  18. 18 Brad
    November 4, 2008 at 7:02 pm

    Is the goal to teach Mormons their official doctrine or introduce them to the Christ we know and love? It seems that if we come across Mormons whose beliefs are closer to Biblical teaching than to official LDS teaching, we ought to praise God for that and start from there.

    Susan, what you have to understand (and I don’t know if you already do or not) is that most Mormons ALREADY believe they worship the same Christ that Christians do – in fact, that’s one of their biggest sticking points, if you talk to many of them, including most on these boards. So to use the phrase “introduce them to the Christ we know and love”, while true, is not viewed as needed by many Mormons, b/c they think they already do.

  19. 19 Brad
    November 4, 2008 at 7:08 pm

    Salvation is never about what church you’re in (be it a Mormon church or a Baptist church or a Catholic church) – it’s about whether you have truly accepted Jesus Christ, who He really is as pictured for us in the Bible, as your personal Lord and Savior. That’s it.

    Is it “possible” for a person to be a member of the Mormon church, and yet be a true Christian? Yes, I believe it’s technically “possible”, yet highly improbably, and difficult at best. One would have to realize that all they’re getting taught in the church is wrong, and yet be comfortable still listening to it and not letting it affect them. One would not be able to accept the teachings of the Mormon church, which would be difficult to do if still a member. It would have to be a complete facade.

    Is the LDS church “redeemable”? Again, it’s not about a church as a whole, it’s about individual people and their relationship with Christ. Are all people redeemable, e.g. do all have a choice? Yes, I believe they do. As such, all LDS members would be redeemable, thus the “church”, if thought of in context of a group of people, is also “redeemable.”

    It’s not that there’s nothing worse than being a Mormon – I don’t believe that. There’s nothing worse, as far as your eternal soul is concerned, than being a person who does not have true salvation. Do I believe Mormons are in that group? Yes, I do, along with many other religions and people. Do I hate them? No. Does the truth that we say offend them? Yes, unfortunately. But the true gospel of Christ is offensive.

  20. 20 Susan
    November 4, 2008 at 7:10 pm

    I believe that everyone is redeemable….God forbid we would think otherwise. I recently came across the “Born Again Mormon” website, which sounds a lot like what Seth is referring to:

    “A few ministries are OK with the idea of encouraging doctrinally correct belief in Christ among Mormons, but not necessarily requiring that Mormons leave Mormonism – rather encouraging a change from within. They hope to encourage an internal transformation of the LDS Church into a bona fide “Christian” faith.”

    I can’t remember if the link was on this site or elsewhere. It’s very interesting and encouraging to hear what they are doing….very different from a lot of ministries I’ve come across..in a good way.

    Darrell – I haven’t been reading this blog for very long but I have definitely noticed Seth’s unique brand of Mormonism (or maybe not unique; I just haven’t come across Mormons that believe the way he does). I am not sure that we need to move back to go forward. If they don’t believe official doctrine, or don’t know of it….even better in my opinion. We don’t need to teach them how to be good Mormons. Now, if a Mormon is asking what we think of certain doctrines or questioning them and wanting our input, that seems a little different. But telling a Mormon that what he believes isn’t what he is supposed to believe seems strange to me, especially if he/she is moving closer to Biblical faith.

    Having said that, I think that I did exactly what I’m saying not to do in a comment I made awhile back in regards to the Mormon Prophets and the Mormon belief that they can trust what they say is straight from God (trustworthy, accurate, clear transmission).

  21. 21 Susan
    November 4, 2008 at 7:39 pm

    “Susan, what you have to understand (and I don’t know if you already do or not) is that most Mormons ALREADY believe they worship the same Christ that Christians do – in fact, that’s one of their biggest sticking points, if you talk to many of them, including most on these boards. So to use the phrase “introduce them to the Christ we know and love”, while true, is not viewed as needed by many Mormons, b/c they think they already do.”

    Brad – I am certainly no expert on Mormonism, but I have been studying it intensively for about 5 years now, and have had many conversations with my Mormon friends and the Missionaries. I have been amazed numerous times when I have tried to explain my beliefs in a very careful way, being sure that I define what I mean (so there is no confusion over definitions) and hear the response, “We believe pretty much the same thing as you do”. I still don’t think that we need to tell them what they are supposed to believe as Mormons in order to reach them with the Truth…but I do think that we need to do our best to understand what they believe (individually…which takes time) so that we can communicate effectively. Although, we have to always remember that Christ is the one who opens our eyes to the Truth. Unless He has done that, the Truth won’t be recongized. So our prayer should always be that the Holy Spirit will speak through us into that individual’s life….at their point of need….where Christ is at work and preparing the soil for the seed.

  22. 22 Darrell
    November 4, 2008 at 9:17 pm

    “If they don’t believe official doctrine, or don’t know of it….even better in my opinion. We don’t need to teach them how to be good Mormons. Now, if a Mormon is asking what we think of certain doctrines or questioning them and wanting our input, that seems a little different. But telling a Mormon that what he believes isn’t what he is supposed to believe seems strange to me, especially if he/she is moving closer to Biblical faith.”

    While I respect what you are saying here I must say I disagree with you. As one who had this happen to me in the mormon faith, I can honestly say that the only way to get someone OUT of mormonism is for them to see it for what it really is. If a person thinks the LDS church is TRUE yet they don’t know what it is really teaching, you cannot convince them that it IS NOT TRUE until you show them what it REALLY teaches. You then have to show them how what the LDS Church REALLY TEACHES does not match up with what the Bible teaches. That is the ONLY WAY TO GET THEM TO REALIZE THE LDS CHURCH IS A LIE. The problem with Mormons is that in reality THEY PLACE THEIR FAITH IN THE LDS CHURCH NOT CHRIST. That might sound strong but it is the truth. Just attend a ward on the first Sunday of any month and listen to the testimonies to see what I am saying… “I know this church is true” is what you will hear over and over again. They proclaim faith in Christ (a false Christ) yet they what they trust in at heart is THE LDS CHURCH.

    As an example of what I am saying…

    Let say that Mary is married to Joe. She thinks Joe is a wonderful, faithful husband and father. However, in reality Joe is cheating on her with 3 women. Now, how do you get Mary to realize that Joe is NOT A FAITHFUL HUSBAND AND FATHER? You have to tell her THE TRUTH. If mormons think that their church teaches the correct Jesus and they think it is the true church (placing their faith IN IT NOT IN CHRIST), how do you get them to realize that IT DOES NOT TEACH THE CORRECT CHRIST? By showing them what their church teaches and comparing that with the biblical Christ.

    There are many mormons that don’t know that…

    1) JS had 9 different versions of the first vision
    2) JS Translated the BOM by using a magic rock
    3) JS Cheated on Emma wby practicing poligamy all the while lying about it
    4) BY said that all of his words were considered scripture
    5) The LDS church teaches that you can become a God
    6) JS said he did somethign greater than even Christ did… hold a church together

    etc, etc, etc

    My point is this… the only way to get a mormon to realize their church is false is to put a mirror up to them that reflects what the LDS church is REALLY ABOUT and have them compare it to the bible. I went through that and it is painful… but coming out the other side of it is glorious beyond comprehension.

    Seth,

    My opinion is that the LDS Church as an organization will probably never become Christian. To do so it woudl have to give up so much of what makes it “mormon”. However, the Lord can do anything, so I will leave it to Him. In the meantime, I will do my best to shine the light of truth and to help other mormons see the church for what it really is and to come out of it to the REAL Jesus Christ.

    Darrell

  23. 23 Susan
    November 5, 2008 at 1:07 am

    Darrell,

    Thank you for sharing your perspective. I would never argue with someone’s testimony on how they came to Christ. I appreciate you sharing how God revealed His Truth to you, and the reality of the Mormon Church. I always enjoy reading the various ways that God turns darkness into light in someone’s heart. Have you found that this is a typical way that Mormons are reached with the Gospel (by exposing them to some of the evidence you mentioned above) or just one of many ways? The reason I ask is that I still believe it is an individual thing, and that we need to understand how a person thinks before we can know how to best communicate the Truth to them. I have seen many reject the above arguments and evidence supporting them while providing their own “evidence” for their position. As an example, I have a feeling that Seth has quite an arsenol for rejecting any position contrary to his own (I’m not trying to take a jab at Seth!). Hence, that approach is probably not beneficial in your interchanges with him. I may be way off….I appreciate other opinions.


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