Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
Mormonism 101: Second Level Statements: The King Follett Discourse (#4)
06/06/2007 - James WhiteThe Council of the Gods
At this point Smith goes into a fascinating discussion of Genesis 1:1 and how this passage supports his theology, but we move past this to remain focused upon ascertaining the what of his theology more than the how at this point.
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. . . . In the beginning, the head of the Gods called a council of the Gods; and they came together and concocted 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 how to come to him, he begins to unfold the heavens to us, and to tell us all about it.
Every LDS person who embraces these words as true must realize how they sound to the ears of an orthodox Christian. God calling a council of the Gods? Concocting a plan to create the world and people it? Such words are so far removed from historic Christian belief that many struggle to react properly to them. We must remember that it is claimed by Mormons today that this is also what was believed by the Apostles of Jesus Christ, such as Paul, John, and Peter. Yet, their testimony to these things has been muted by time and by the corruption of the Scriptures.
Man's Spirit Eternal and Uncreated
Smith then goes on to lay the foundation of the LDS denial of creatio ex nihilo, creation out of nothing, the historic Christian belief that God did not create the universe out of pre-existing matter, but solely by His creative power and will.
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.
How does Smith deal with the assertion that God created the heavens and the earth, as well as man himself?
You ask the learned doctors why they say the world was made out of nothing; and they will answer, Doesnt 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 fromthe 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 chaoschaotic matter, which is element, and inwhich 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.
Here Joseph Smith clearly teaches the eternality of matter, and the idea that God does not create but instead organizes. It should be noted, then, that while Smith has said that God has not eternally been God, matter has eternally existed. Hence, matter pre-exists God in that God has not always been God!
At this point, then, Smith moves to the spirit of man. Note well what he says:
We say that God himself is a self-existent being. Who told you so? It is correct enough; but how did it get into your heads? Who told you that man did not exist in like manner upon the same principles? Man does exist upon the same principles. God made a tabernacle and put a spirit into it, and it became a living soul. (Refers to the old Bible.) How does it read in the Hebrew? It does not say in the Hebrew that God created the spirit of man. It says God made man out of the earth and put into him Adams spirit, and so became a living body.
The mind or the intelligence which man possesses is co-equal with God himself. . . . I am dwelling on the immortality of the spirit of man. Is it logical to say that the intelligence of spirits is immortal, and yet that it had a beginning? The intelligence of spirits had not beginning, neither will it have an end. That is good logic. That which has a beginning may have an end. There never was a time when there were not spirits; for they are co-equal [co-eternal] with our Father in heaven. . . . But if I amright, I might with boldness proclaim from the house-tops that God never had the power to create the spirit of man at all. God himself could not create himself.
Mark well the assertion, God never had the power to create the spirit of man at all. This flows from the idea that the intelligence of spirits is immortal and without beginning, and that God Himself is to be numbered amongst the intelligences that areco-eternal with Him. This is what Smith means when he says God . . . could not create himself. The equation is complete, in that God and man are one species, one kind, along the divine continuum, separated by time and exaltation, but not by being.
The Principles of Eternal Life
The first principles of man are self-existent with God. God himself, finding he was in the midst of spirits and glory, because he was more intelligent, saw proper to institute laws whereby the rest could have a privilege to advance like himself. The relationship we have with God places us in a situation to advance in knowledge. He has power to institute laws to instruct the weaker intelligences, that they may be exalted with himself, so that they might have one glory upon another, and all that knowledge, power, glory, and intelligence, which is requisite in order to save them in the world of spirits.
This is good doctrine. It tastes good. I can taste the principles of eternal life, and so can you. They are given to me by the revelations of Jesus Christ; and I know that when I tell you these words of eternal life as they are given to me, you taste them,and I know that you believe them. You say honey is sweet, and so do I. I can also taste the spirit of eternal life. I know it is good; and when I tell you of these things which were given my by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, you are bound to receive them as sweet, and rejoice more and more.
With these words we close our examination of Smiths King Follett Discourse. One might wish to re-read the citations, or even read the entirety of the discourse as found in numerous LDS sources, to fully grasp the breadth of the doctrines that are so plainly announced here. This sermon fleshes out the passages we examined in the LDS Scriptures, and will shed much light on the many other passages we have yet to examine. But to close out this section, we note a vital truth: for Mormonism, this concept ofGod---including exaltation, progression, and the plurality of gods---is intimately associated with the gospel itself. Smith speaks of the principles of eternal life, and when Mormon leaders so speak, they are referring to the concepts found in the King Follett Discourse. An understanding of this fact has tremendous ramifications with reference to our over-all inquiry regarding the nature of Mormon teaching and the relationship between Mormonism and Christianity.
 See the review of Smith's effort by Sean Hahn, Joseph Smith the Translator here.
 At this point Smith goes into a discussion of how the German translation is more accurate than the English because it has Jacob rather than James at places. Seemingly Smith did not know German well enough to realize that Jacobus in German is the equivalent of James in English.
 A quick glance at almost any recognized lexical source for the Hebrew language will show that Smith is in error. The term can be used in many ways, but in the Qal form it is used only of Gods activity, and hence carries great theological import. McComiskey, in the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (Chicago: Moody Press, 1980), 1:127 notes that bara "differs from yasar 'to fashion' in that the latter primarily emphasizes the shaping of an object while bara emphasizes the initiation of the object." Later in his article he writes,
The limitation of this word to divine activity indicates that the area of meaning deliniated by the root falls outside the sphere of human ability. Since the word never occurs with the object of the material, and since the primary emphasis of the word is on the newness of the created object, the word lends itself well to the concept of creation ex nihilo, although that concept is not necessarily inherent within the meaning of the word.Hence, Smith's assertion that bara means to organize is highly misleading at best, and downright erroneous at worst.