Tuesday, March 29, 2011

What I liked about Mormon theology

Part of the reason I was a Mormon is because I really liked the theology, so I thought I'd talk about some of that today.

I'll begin with some caveats. First, this all made sense to me only because I began with a couple of assumptions. I assumed that there is a God, and that Jesus is the Savior of humanity. (And I made those assumptions because I was brought up from childhood with them.) Without those assumptions, obviously the theology is all nonsense.

Second, these are all my personal interpretations of Mormonism. If you disagree with them, well, they're all logically defensible based on mainstream Mormon thought, but I don't actually believe any of this anymore, so I'm not going to try very hard to defend it. I'm willing to discuss it nicely if you are, though.

Third, don't anyone bother telling me that it's all silly because there are no gods (if you think that, I already think you're probably right) and especially don't bother telling me that it's all silly because it's not in the Bible (if you think that, I think your beliefs are at least as silly anyway).

So, here's what I liked.

1) Mormonism has kind of figured out what to about the salvation of non-Christians. Yes, the whole baptism for the dead thing has its offensive elements, and yes, there are obvious practical difficulties, but I found it to be a clever way of taking care of all the non-Christians without automatically sending them to Hell. Everyone supposedly gets a fair chance to hear and accept or reject the Gospel, either in this life or the next. Seems like a step up from what a lot of other Christians teach.

2) The Mormon God is a space alien. Sort of. He has a body, he comes from another planet (or universe or whatever), he lives in a place, and he occupies physical space. He's not some obscure and bizarre thing made out of nothing. He used to be like us, and we can be like him.

3) Mormonism dumps the bizarre Trinity concept and embraces polytheism. None of that ridiculous egg, shamrock, or water-ice-steam nonsense for Mormons; they come right out and believe that the Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost are separate beings who are only figuratively "one God." (Not that many Mormons will admit that they're polytheists, but that's just because of our silly cultural prejudice against polytheism. By any sensible definition, it's obviously a polytheistic religion.)

4) God didn't create the universe out of nothing, he "organized" it out of already existing stuff. Same with the people and other beings: "organized," not created. Which leads to:

5) God is not omnipotent. He couldn't just create any kind of universe he wanted; he had to work with what he's given. Good and Evil are eternal, and there are rules that apply to God too (putting Mormonism squarely on the sensible Platonist side of the Euthyphro dilemma). Which leads to:

6) Mormonism almost solves the Problem of Evil. Almost. In Mormonism, God can't create a universe with no evil, and he can't forcibly remove all evil from the universe he's created. (Yes, I'm aware that this contradicts the idea of "Celestialized" worlds. So sue me.) So all God has to do to prove he's good is to mitigate all evil that can possibly be mitigated. (Unfortunately, if he exists he doesn't seem to be mitigating all the evil that could be mitigated, only some of it, so the problem isn't solved. But at least it gets kicked down the road a ways.)

7) In Mormonism, God made people to help them grow, not to fulfill his own neurotic needs. Other Christian denominations generally tend to teach that God made people for reasons such as wanting worshipers (creepy) or companions (pets, essentially, since we're so far below him). (And apparently he wasn't competent to do this without condemning millions of them to eternal torment in the end, but hey, if you're going to make an omelet....) The Mormon God, on the other hand created ("organized") human beings because he wants to make us into his peers, which is supposed to be possible through a progression from "intelligence" to spirit to human to god. And even the ones for whom that doesn't work out are probably better off than when they started.

So that's some of the theological stuff I liked when I was a Mormon. Number 1) was the most influential in my conversion, since that was something I'd thought about a lot. (The logic of "They all go to Hell" was enough to get me to stop being a born-again Christian when I was about 14). Number 7) was probably my favorite idea, though.

Are there any aspects of Mormon theology that you (whether believer, non-believer, or ex-believer) find/found particularly appealing or interesting?

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1 comment:

  1. Cool post.

    I liked the belief that everything was created spiritually and would be restored to its natural perfect state during the resurrection. I loved the belief that loss -- even and sometimes especially of loved pets -- was only temporary.

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