Criticism of Mormonism/Books/Becoming Gods/Chapter 7

Table of Contents

Response to claims made in "Chapter 7: After All We Can Do"

A FairMormon Analysis of: Becoming Gods: A Closer Look at 21st-Century Mormonism, a work by author: Richard Abanes
Claim Evaluation
Becoming Gods
Chart.becoming.gods.ch7.jpg

Response to claims made in Becoming Gods, "Chapter 7: After All We Can Do"

Jump to Subtopic:


Response to claim: 183 - Latter-day Saints are claimed to reject the "Evangelical belief" that "Christ was born of the virgin Mary"

The author(s) of Becoming Gods make(s) the following claim:

Latter-day Saints are claimed to reject the "Evangelical belief" that "Christ was born of the virgin Mary, who, when the Holy Ghost came upon her, miraculously conceived the promised messiah."

(Author's sources: *Isaiah 7:14

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is a falsehood - The author has disseminated false information

This claim is entirely false.



Question: Do Mormons believe that Mary was still a virgin when Jesus was born?

Latter-day Saints believe in the virgin birth

It is claimed that Latter-day Saints believe Jesus was conceived through sexual intercourse between God the Father and Mary, therefore Mary was not a virgin when Jesus was born. As evidence they point to a handful statements from early LDS leaders that directly or indirectly say so. It is also claimed that Latter-day Saints reject the "Evangelical belief" that "Christ was born of the virgin Mary, who, when the Holy Ghost came upon her, miraculously conceived the promised messiah."

Critics of the Church like to dig up quotes like those from Brigham Young for their shock value, but such statements do not represent the official doctrine of the Church. Furthermore, critics often read statements through their own theological lenses, and ignore the key distinctions which LDS theology is attempting to make by these statements. Instead, they try to put a salacious spin on the teaching, when this is far from the speakers' intent. The key, official doctrine of the Church is that Jesus is literally the son of God (i.e., this is not a symbolic or figurative expression), and Mary was a virgin before and after Christ's conception.

At the annunciation, Mary questioned the angel about how she could bear a child: "How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?" (Luke 1:34; the expression "know" in the Greek text is a euphemism for sexual relations). Nephi likewise described Mary as a virgin (1 Nephi 11:13-20), as did Alma1 (Alma 7:10).

Latter-day Saints believe Jesus was the Only Begotten of the Father in the flesh

Latter-day Saints do believe that Jesus Christ was literally the Son of God, not the son of Joseph or even the son of the Holy Ghost. (see 2 Ne 25:12 and DC 93:11) As Ezra Taft Benson stated,

[T]he testimonies of appointed witnesses leave no question as to the paternity of Jesus Christ. God was the Father of His fleshly tabernacle, and Mary, a mortal woman, was His mother. He is therefore the only person born who rightfully deserves the title “the Only Begotten Son of God.”[1]

What the Church has not taken a position on is how the conception took place, despite speculations by various early Church leaders

The canonized scriptures are silent on how the conception took place—even Nephi's detailed vision of then-future Messiah is veiled during the part where Mary conceives (1 Nephi 11:19).

Some early leaders of the Church felt free to express their beliefs on the literal nature of God's Fatherhood of Jesus' physical body

For example, Brigham Young said the following in a discourse given 8 July 1860:

"...[T]here is no act, no principle, no power belonging to the Deity that is not purely philosophical. The birth of the Saviour was as natural as are the births of our children; it was the result of natural action. He partook of flesh and blood—was begotten of his Father, as we were of our fathers." [2]

Jesus shared God's genetic inheritance without necessarily requiring a sexual act to combine that inheritance with Mary's mortal contribution

But are these types of statements official Church doctrine, required for all believing Latter-day Saints to accept? No—they were never submitted to the Church for ratification or canonization. (See General authorities' statements as scripture.)

Critics have noted that this statement, and others like it, can be read to indicate there was sexual intercourse involved in the conception of Jesus. Regardless of this speculation--which goes beyond the textual data--Brigham Young's view may be seen by some contemporary Latter-day Saints as correct in that Jesus was literally physically the Son of God, just as much as any children are "of our fathers." Modern science has discovered alternative methods of conceiving children--e.g., in vitro "test tube" babies--that don't involve sexual intercourse. Thus, though processes such as artificial insemination were unknown to Brigham and thus likely not referenced by his statements, it does not necessarily follow from a modern perspective that the conception had to come about as the result of a literal sexual union. It is certainly not outside of God's power to conceive Christ by other means, while remaining his literal father. (Put another way, Jesus shared God's genetic inheritance, if you will, without necessarily requiring a sexual act to combine that inheritance with Mary's mortal contribution).

Ezra Taft Benson taught:

He was the Only Begotten Son of our Heavenly Father in the flesh—the only child whose mortal body was begotten by our Heavenly Father. His mortal mother, Mary, was called a virgin, both before and after she gave birth. (See 1 Nephi 11:20.) [3]

Benson's emphasis is on both the literalness of Jesus' divine birth, and the fact that Mary's virginal status persisted even immediately after conceiving and bearing Jesus.

Church leaders' statements on the literal paternity of Christ were often a reaction to various ideas which are false

  • they disagreed with the tendency of conventional Christianity to deny the corporeality of God. They thus insisted that God the Father had a "natural," physical form. There was no need, in LDS theology, for a non-physical, wholly spirit God to resort to a mysterious process to conceive a Son.
  • they disagreed with efforts to "allegorize" or "spiritualize" the virgin birth; they wished it understood that Christ is the literal Son of God in a physical, "natural" sense of sharing both human and divine traits in His makeup. This can be seen to be a reaction against more "liberal" strains in Christianity that saw Jesus as the literal son of Mary and Joseph, but someone endowed with God's power at some point in His life.
  • they did not accept that the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost were of one "essence," but rather believed that they are distinct Personages. Thus, it is key to LDS theology that Jesus is the Son of the Father, not the Holy Ghost. To a creedal, trinitarian Christian, this might be a distinction without a difference; for an LDS Christian it is crucial.

Bruce R. McConkie said this about the birth of Christ:

God the Father is a perfected, glorified, holy Man, an immortal Personage. And Christ was born into the world as the literal Son of this Holy Being; he was born in the same personal, real, and literal sense that any mortal son is born to a mortal father. There is nothing figurative about his paternity; he was begotten, conceived and born in the normal and natural course of events, for he is the Son of God, and that designation means what it says. [4]

In the same volume, Elder McConkie explained his reason for his emphasis:

"Our Lord is the only mortal person ever born to a virgin, because he is the only person who ever had an immortal Father. Mary, his mother, "was carried away in the Spirit" (1 Ne. 11:13-21), was "overshadowed" by the Holy Ghost, and the conception which took place "by the power of the Holy Ghost" resulted in the bringing forth of the literal and personal Son of God the Father. (Alma 7:10; 2 Ne. 17:14; Isa. 7:14; Matt. 1:18-25; Luke 1:26-38.) Christ is not the Son of the Holy Ghost, but of the Father. (Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 1, pp. 18-20.) Modernistic teachings denying the virgin birth are utterly and completely apostate and false. [5]

Note that McConkie emphasized the literal nature of Christ's divinity, his direct descent from the Father, and the fact that the Holy Ghost was a tool, but not the source of Jesus' divine Parenthood.

Harold B. Lee was clear that the method of Jesus' conception had not been revealed, and discouraged speculation on the matter

Harold B. Lee said,

We are very much concerned that some of our Church teachers seem to be obsessed of the idea of teaching doctrine which cannot be substantiated and making comments beyond what the Lord has actually said.

You asked about the birth of the Savior. Never have I talked about sexual intercourse between Deity and the mother of the Savior. If teachers were wise in speaking of this matter about which the Lord has said but very little, they would rest their discussion on this subject with merely the words which are recorded on this subject in Luke 1:34-35: "Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God."

Remember that the being who was brought about by [Mary's] conception was a divine personage. We need not question His method to accomplish His purposes. Perhaps we would do well to remember the words of Isaiah 55:8-9: "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts."

Let the Lord rest His case with this declaration and wait until He sees fit to tell us more. [6]


Response to claim: 184 - "Until recently, the common belief clearly implied throughout the history of Mormonism...was that Jesus' conception occurred via sexual intercourse between Heavenly Father (Elohim) and Mary"

The author(s) of Becoming Gods make(s) the following claim:

"Until recently, the common belief clearly implied throughout the history of Mormonism...was that Jesus' conception occurred via sexual intercourse between Heavenly Father (Elohim) and Mary."

(Author's sources: *Luke 1:35

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

The author cites a number of scriptures from the Book of Mormon, none of which imply sexual intercourse between Elohim and Mary.



Response to claim: 185, 405n41 - Early LDS leaders redefined "virgin" to mean a woman who has never known a mortal man, since Heavenly Father is immortal

The author(s) of Becoming Gods make(s) the following claim:

Early LDS leaders redefined "virgin" to mean a woman who has never known a mortal man, since Heavenly Father is immortal.

(Author's sources: *Joseph F. Smith, Charles Penrose, "Message of the First Presidency," vol. 5, p. 34. "...his unique status in the flesh as the offspring of a mortal mother and of an immortal, or resurrected and glorified, Father")

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda and/or spin - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

This is the author's conclusion. The author wants to talk about a "sexual union" again, but the statement he uses in his citation in the endnotes says nothing about redefining "virgin" to mean a woman who has never known a mortal man. It is certainly true that Latter-day Saints believe Jesus Christ to be the literal son of our Heavenly Father, but the author takes liberties in drawing his conclusions about the event.



Question: Do Mormons believe that Mary was still a virgin when Jesus was born?

Latter-day Saints believe in the virgin birth

It is claimed that Latter-day Saints believe Jesus was conceived through sexual intercourse between God the Father and Mary, therefore Mary was not a virgin when Jesus was born. As evidence they point to a handful statements from early LDS leaders that directly or indirectly say so. It is also claimed that Latter-day Saints reject the "Evangelical belief" that "Christ was born of the virgin Mary, who, when the Holy Ghost came upon her, miraculously conceived the promised messiah."

Critics of the Church like to dig up quotes like those from Brigham Young for their shock value, but such statements do not represent the official doctrine of the Church. Furthermore, critics often read statements through their own theological lenses, and ignore the key distinctions which LDS theology is attempting to make by these statements. Instead, they try to put a salacious spin on the teaching, when this is far from the speakers' intent. The key, official doctrine of the Church is that Jesus is literally the son of God (i.e., this is not a symbolic or figurative expression), and Mary was a virgin before and after Christ's conception.

At the annunciation, Mary questioned the angel about how she could bear a child: "How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?" (Luke 1:34; the expression "know" in the Greek text is a euphemism for sexual relations). Nephi likewise described Mary as a virgin (1 Nephi 11:13-20), as did Alma1 (Alma 7:10).

Latter-day Saints believe Jesus was the Only Begotten of the Father in the flesh

Latter-day Saints do believe that Jesus Christ was literally the Son of God, not the son of Joseph or even the son of the Holy Ghost. (see 2 Ne 25:12 and DC 93:11) As Ezra Taft Benson stated,

[T]he testimonies of appointed witnesses leave no question as to the paternity of Jesus Christ. God was the Father of His fleshly tabernacle, and Mary, a mortal woman, was His mother. He is therefore the only person born who rightfully deserves the title “the Only Begotten Son of God.”[7]

What the Church has not taken a position on is how the conception took place, despite speculations by various early Church leaders

The canonized scriptures are silent on how the conception took place—even Nephi's detailed vision of then-future Messiah is veiled during the part where Mary conceives (1 Nephi 11:19).

Some early leaders of the Church felt free to express their beliefs on the literal nature of God's Fatherhood of Jesus' physical body

For example, Brigham Young said the following in a discourse given 8 July 1860:

"...[T]here is no act, no principle, no power belonging to the Deity that is not purely philosophical. The birth of the Saviour was as natural as are the births of our children; it was the result of natural action. He partook of flesh and blood—was begotten of his Father, as we were of our fathers." [8]

Jesus shared God's genetic inheritance without necessarily requiring a sexual act to combine that inheritance with Mary's mortal contribution

But are these types of statements official Church doctrine, required for all believing Latter-day Saints to accept? No—they were never submitted to the Church for ratification or canonization. (See General authorities' statements as scripture.)

Critics have noted that this statement, and others like it, can be read to indicate there was sexual intercourse involved in the conception of Jesus. Regardless of this speculation--which goes beyond the textual data--Brigham Young's view may be seen by some contemporary Latter-day Saints as correct in that Jesus was literally physically the Son of God, just as much as any children are "of our fathers." Modern science has discovered alternative methods of conceiving children--e.g., in vitro "test tube" babies--that don't involve sexual intercourse. Thus, though processes such as artificial insemination were unknown to Brigham and thus likely not referenced by his statements, it does not necessarily follow from a modern perspective that the conception had to come about as the result of a literal sexual union. It is certainly not outside of God's power to conceive Christ by other means, while remaining his literal father. (Put another way, Jesus shared God's genetic inheritance, if you will, without necessarily requiring a sexual act to combine that inheritance with Mary's mortal contribution).

Ezra Taft Benson taught:

He was the Only Begotten Son of our Heavenly Father in the flesh—the only child whose mortal body was begotten by our Heavenly Father. His mortal mother, Mary, was called a virgin, both before and after she gave birth. (See 1 Nephi 11:20.) [9]

Benson's emphasis is on both the literalness of Jesus' divine birth, and the fact that Mary's virginal status persisted even immediately after conceiving and bearing Jesus.

Church leaders' statements on the literal paternity of Christ were often a reaction to various ideas which are false

  • they disagreed with the tendency of conventional Christianity to deny the corporeality of God. They thus insisted that God the Father had a "natural," physical form. There was no need, in LDS theology, for a non-physical, wholly spirit God to resort to a mysterious process to conceive a Son.
  • they disagreed with efforts to "allegorize" or "spiritualize" the virgin birth; they wished it understood that Christ is the literal Son of God in a physical, "natural" sense of sharing both human and divine traits in His makeup. This can be seen to be a reaction against more "liberal" strains in Christianity that saw Jesus as the literal son of Mary and Joseph, but someone endowed with God's power at some point in His life.
  • they did not accept that the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost were of one "essence," but rather believed that they are distinct Personages. Thus, it is key to LDS theology that Jesus is the Son of the Father, not the Holy Ghost. To a creedal, trinitarian Christian, this might be a distinction without a difference; for an LDS Christian it is crucial.

Bruce R. McConkie said this about the birth of Christ:

God the Father is a perfected, glorified, holy Man, an immortal Personage. And Christ was born into the world as the literal Son of this Holy Being; he was born in the same personal, real, and literal sense that any mortal son is born to a mortal father. There is nothing figurative about his paternity; he was begotten, conceived and born in the normal and natural course of events, for he is the Son of God, and that designation means what it says. [10]

In the same volume, Elder McConkie explained his reason for his emphasis:

"Our Lord is the only mortal person ever born to a virgin, because he is the only person who ever had an immortal Father. Mary, his mother, "was carried away in the Spirit" (1 Ne. 11:13-21), was "overshadowed" by the Holy Ghost, and the conception which took place "by the power of the Holy Ghost" resulted in the bringing forth of the literal and personal Son of God the Father. (Alma 7:10; 2 Ne. 17:14; Isa. 7:14; Matt. 1:18-25; Luke 1:26-38.) Christ is not the Son of the Holy Ghost, but of the Father. (Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 1, pp. 18-20.) Modernistic teachings denying the virgin birth are utterly and completely apostate and false. [11]

Note that McConkie emphasized the literal nature of Christ's divinity, his direct descent from the Father, and the fact that the Holy Ghost was a tool, but not the source of Jesus' divine Parenthood.

Harold B. Lee was clear that the method of Jesus' conception had not been revealed, and discouraged speculation on the matter

Harold B. Lee said,

We are very much concerned that some of our Church teachers seem to be obsessed of the idea of teaching doctrine which cannot be substantiated and making comments beyond what the Lord has actually said.

You asked about the birth of the Savior. Never have I talked about sexual intercourse between Deity and the mother of the Savior. If teachers were wise in speaking of this matter about which the Lord has said but very little, they would rest their discussion on this subject with merely the words which are recorded on this subject in Luke 1:34-35: "Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God."

Remember that the being who was brought about by [Mary's] conception was a divine personage. We need not question His method to accomplish His purposes. Perhaps we would do well to remember the words of Isaiah 55:8-9: "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts."

Let the Lord rest His case with this declaration and wait until He sees fit to tell us more. [12]


Response to claim: 187, 406n54-55 - Latter-day Saints reject the idea that the death of Jesus on the cross was a significant part of the atonement

The author(s) of Becoming Gods make(s) the following claim:

Latter-day Saints reject the idea that the death of Jesus on the cross was a significant part of the atonement.

(Author's sources: Cky J. Carrigan, "Did Jesus Christ Die on the Cross to Pay for Our Sins?: A Survey of Mormon Teachings on the Atonement of Christ," Annual Meeting of the Evangelical Ministries to New Religions, Biola University, Jan. 25, 2003.)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is a falsehood - The author has disseminated false information

The author has made a false statement. Although Latter-day Saints believe that the atonement was carried out in the Garden of Gethsemane, the death of Jesus Christ on the cross and his subsequent resurrection is of extreme significance to Latter-day Saints.



Question: Are Latter-day Saints are not true Christians because they do not use the cross and believe that the atonement occurred in the Garden of Gethsemane?

Latter-day Saints include Christ's suffering and death on the cross as part of his atonement for all humanity

Latter-day Saints teach that the atonement of Christ was carried out in Gethsemane, rather than on the cross. However, these statements from a variety of LDS sources are sufficient to show that the LDS include Christ's suffering and death on the cross as part of his atonement for all humanity. His suffering on the cross was preceded by suffering at Gethsemane.

Even Jesus' life had a part in His atonement, since only God, a perfect being, could perform this service. His mission thus also included being "in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin" (Hebrews 4:15). It is therefore arbitrary and misleading to draw some type of "line" during Jesus' mortal life or death when He was not working for our salvation. This includes Gethsemane and the cross.

An anti-Mormon protester claims—falsely—that Latter-day Saints do not value the atoning sacrifice of Christ on the cross for all humanity.

There is a spectrum of belief in the Church, among both the leaders and the people in the pew, as in all religions. It is true that members of the Church have historically included the garden of Gethsemane as playing a role in Jesus' saving act. Some have emphasized it, perhaps in reaction to the emphasis on the cross alone in other Christian denominations.

The garden and the cross

However, even that emphasis, were it the sole message of the Church (and it is not) does not exclude the cross. Note, for example, this excerpt from the Christmas message of Gordon B. Hinckley, past President of the Church:

We honor His birth. But without His death that birth would have been but one more birth. It was the redemption which He worked out in the Garden of Gethsemane and upon the cross of Calvary which made His gift immortal, universal, and everlasting. His was a great Atonement for the sins of all mankind. He was the resurrection and the life, "the firstfruits of them that slept" (1 Corinthians 15:20). Because of Him all men will be raised from the grave. [13]

Other statements by Elder Bruce McConkie, who is sometimes used as evidence for this criticism, show he was not as one-sided as critics imply:

And now, as pertaining to this perfect atonement, wrought by the shedding of the blood of God—I testify that it took place in Gethsemane and at Golgotha, and as pertaining to Jesus Christ, I testify that he is the Son of the Living God and was crucified for the sins of the world. He is our Lord, our God, and our King." [14]

The official training booklet sent out with missionaries includes this statement:

The Atonement included His suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane as well as His suffering and death on the cross. [15]

As a fourth example, consider something that recently came from the Church press:

Jesus' atoning sacrifice took place in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross at Calvary. In Gethsemane, He began to take upon himself the sins of the world…. The Savior continued to suffer for our sins when He allowed Himself to be crucified. [16]

The importance of Gethsemane in the scriptures

Gethsemane does present some interesting problems. Other Christians reject the Latter-day Saint view of the importance of Gethsemane in part because it is only mentioned twice in the New Testament (Matthew 26:36 and Mark 14:32). While this may be so, the events that transpired there are mentioned also in the other two gospels. In other words, all four gospel writers felt it important enough to include it in their 'memoirs.' In John 18:1 it is reported that Christ and His disciples "often resorted thither." Luke 22:39 tells us that He went there, "as he was wont" (compare Luke 19:29 and Luke 21:37, the latter of which says He spent the 'nights' on Mount Olive). This was apparently a special place for them to seek solitude, a private place to seek their Father in prayer. It is evident from the commentaries written on the various gospels that the exact purpose of the experience is not well understood. We don't need to go into the events verse by verse, but there are some things that need to be noted. Despite the importance the Lord places on prayer in general, there are only a few places where He is actually depicted as doing so; this prayer in Gethsemane is one of them. Furthermore, there are few places in the New Testament where He is depicted as being 'strengthened' by an angel (Matthew 4:11). The experience in the Garden is one of them (Luke 22:43, in which an angel is sent to strengthen Him during His prayer). There are others who have also commented on the singularity of this experience, and attributed it, at least in part, to the atonement.

Gethsemane as viewed by non-Latter-day Saint Christians

Christian theologian Leon Morris is quoted frequently by Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson, the authors of the book Mormonism 101 (a book critical of Mormonism). It is not without significance, therefore, that Morris quotes Lesslie Newbigin as follows:

The Son of God, the Word of God made flesh, kneels in the garden of Gethsemane. He wrestles in prayer. His sweat falls like great drops of blood. He cries out in an agony: "not my will, but thine be done." That is what it costs God to deal with man's sin. To create the heavens and the earth costs Him no labor, no anguish; to take away the sin of the world costs Him His own life-blood. [17]

Elsewhere, Leon Morris himself admits that, at least for Matthew, "what took place in the Garden was very important." [18]

In a recent commentary, Donald A. Hagner of Fuller Theological Seminary writes:

The thought of what he will have to undergo in the near future fills Jesus with dread and anguish. A real struggle within the soul of Jesus takes place in Gethsemane, and he craves the support of those who have been closest to him during his ministry. The mystery of the agony of God's unique Son cannot be fully penetrated. That it has to do with bearing the penalty of sin for the world to make salvation possible seems clear. [19]

In a commentary on Matthew 26, first published in 1864, German scholar John Peter Lange refers to several interpretations offered by earlier commentators. He quotes a scholar named Ebrard: "His trembling in Gethsemane was not dread of His sufferings, but was part of His passion itself; it was not a transcendental and external assumption of a foreign guilt, but a concrete experience of the full and concentrated power of the world's sin." [20] At the same place Lange refers to the reformer Melanchthon as teaching that in the Garden Christ "suffered the wrath of God in our stead and our behalf."

Another recent commentary quotes favorably a statement to the effect that Matthew 26:37 ("And he took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy") indicates that "at this point the Passion, in its full sense, began." [21]

J.M. Ford writes, "the theological importance, however, is that for Luke the blood that redeems humankind begins to flow in the garden." [22] Popular evangelical scholar Thomas C. Oden paraphrases Catherine of Siena this way:

[Christ] was not externally compelled to be baptized with the baptism of sinners, to set his face steadfastly toward Jerusalem or go to Gethsemane, or drink the cup of suffering. Rather he received and drank that cup not because he liked to suffer—the very thought cause him to sweat profusely—but rather because it was an intrinsic part of the purpose of his mission to humanity. [23]

B.H. Roberts quotes the following from the International Commentary on Matthew:

This conflict presents our Lord in the reality of His manhood, in weakness and humiliation, but it is impossible to account for it unless we admit His Divine nature. Had He been a mere man, His knowledge of the sufferings before Him could not have been sufficient to cause such sorrow. The human fear of death will not explain it. As a real man, He was capable of such a conflict. But it took place after the serenity of the Last Supper and sacerdotal prayers, and before the sublime submission in the palace and judgment hall. The conflict, therefore, was a specific agony of itself. He felt the whole burden and mystery of the world's sin, and encountered the fiercest assaults of Satan. Otherwise, in this hour this Person, so powerful, so holy, seems to fall below the heroism of martyrs in His own cause. His sorrow did not spring from His own life, His memory of His fears, but from the vicarious nature of the conflict. The agony was a bearing of the weight and sorrow of our sins, in loneliness, in anguish of soul threatening to crush His body, yet borne triumphantly, because in submission to His Father's will. Three times our Lord appeals to that will, as purposing His anguish; that purpose of God in regard to the loveliest, best of men, can be reconciled with justice and goodness in God in but one way; that it was necessary for our redemption. Mercy forced its way through justice to the sinner. Our Lord suffered anguish of soul for sin, that it might never rest on us. To deny this is in effect not only to charge our Lord with undue weakness, but to charge God with needless cruelty. "Surely He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows…. He was wounded for our transgressions. He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed" [Isaiah 53.4-5]" [24]

David B. Haight, of the Quorum of the Twelve, quotes the following from the Reverend Frederic Farrar:

They then rose from the table, united their voices in a hymn, and left the room together to walk to the Garden of Gethsemane and all that awaited them there "The awful hour of His deepest [suffering] had arrived…. Nothing remained…but the torture of physical pain and the poignancy of mental anguish…. He…[calmed] His spirit by prayer and solitude to meet that hour in which all that is evil in the Power of [Satan] should wreak its worst upon the Innocent and Holy [One]. And He must face that hour alone…. 'My soul,' He said, 'is full of anguish, even unto death.'" It was not the anguish and fear of pain and death but 'the burden…of the world's sin which lay heavy on His heart. [25]

Evangelical scholar Klaas Runia has recently drawn our attention to a prayer which was formerly read at the beginning of the Lord's Supper service in the Reformed Churches in Holland. The prayer said in part: "We remember that all the time he lived on earth he was burdened by our sin and God's judgment upon it; that in his agony in the garden he sweated drops of blood under the weight of our sins." [26]

Alfred Edersheim referred to the Garden as "the other Eden, in which the Second Adam, the Lord from heaven, bore the penalty of the first, and in obeying gained life.'" [27] Adam Clarke is quoted as having once said that "Jesus paid more in the Garden than on the Cross." [28] S. Lewis Johnson, from whose article these previous two quotations derive, concluded, "Gethsemane sets forth for us the passion of our Lord for the souls of men. The voice of Gethsemane sounds forth, 'I am willing,' while the voice from Calvary cries, 'It is finished.' Both illustrate how much He cared." [29]

This is the one thing which seemingly all commentators, LDS or otherwise, agree: He loved us and He manifested that love by His life and by His death. As the above quotations indicate, there is a fair amount of non-LDS support for the idea that the experience of our Savior in the Garden of Gethsemane is also related to the atoning sacrifice which He made for us. There is also enough material by non-LDS scholars to indicate that the exact mechanics of the Atonement are not known.

Latter-day Saint scripture contains some clear references to the cross

Further, uniquely LDS scripture contains some clear references:

1 Nephi 11:33
Jesus was "was lifted up upon the cross and slain for the sins of the world."
3 Nephi 27:14
"My Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross"

Latter-day Saint Sacrament hymns refer to the cross

An anti-Mormon protester at October 2004 LDS General Conference claims that members of the Church are "enemies" of the cross. He apparently knows little of LDS scripture, doctrine, hymns, or belief.

It is worthwhile to note that Latter-day Saints make frequent reference to Christ's sacrifice on the cross in their Sacrament hymns:

  • Hymn 171, With Humble Heart: "Help me remember, I implore, Thou gavst thy life on Calvary."
  • Hymn 172, In Humility Our Savior: "Let me not forget, O Savior, Thou didst bleed and die for me when Thy heart was stilled and broken on the cross at Calvary."
  • Hymn 174, While of these Emblems We Partake: "For us the blood of Christ was shed; For us on Calvary's cross He bled..."
  • Hymn 177, Tis Sweet To Sing the Matchless Love: "For Jesus died on Calvary, that all through him might ransomed be."
  • Hymn 178, O Lord of Hosts: "salvation purchased on that tree for all who seek thy face."
  • Hymn 181, Jesus of Nazareth, Savior and King: "Jesus of Nazareth, Savior and King, Our thoughts to thee are led, in reverence sweet. Bruised, broken, torn for us, on Calvary's hill."
  • Hymn 182, We'll Sing All Hail to Jesus' Name: "We'll sing all hail to Jesus name...to him that bled on Calvary's hill, And died that we might live."
  • Hymn 184, Upon the Cross at Calvary: "Upon the cross at Calvary, they crucified our Lord, and sealed with blood the sacrifice that sanctified his word. Upon the cross he meekly died, for all mankind to see that death unlocks the passageway into eternity. Upon the cross our Savior died, but, dying brought new birth through resurrection's miracle to all the sons of earth."
  • Hymn 185, Reverently and Meekly Now: "With my blood that dripped like rain, sweat in agony of pain, with my body on the tree, I have ransomed even thee...Oh remember what was done, that the sinner might be won. On the cross of Calvary, I have suffered death for thee."
  • Hymn 190, In Memory of the Crucified: "Our Savior in Gethsemane shrank not to drink the bitter cup. And then, for us, on Calvary, upon the cross was lifted up."
  • Hymn 191, Behold the Great Redeemer Die: "Behold the great Redeemer die... They pierce his hands and feet and side; And with insulting scoffs and scorns, they crown his head with plaited thorns. Although in agony he hung... his high commission to fulfill, He magnified his Father's will."
  • Hymn 193, I Stand All Amazed: "I stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers me, confused at the grace that so fully he proffers me. I tremble to know that for me he was crucified, that for me, a sinner, he suffered he bled and died...I think of his hands pierced and bleeding to pay the debt! Such mercy, such love, and devotion can I forget? No, no, I will praise and adore at the mercy seat, until at the glorified throne I kneel at his feet...Oh it is wonderful that he should care for me, enough to die for me. Oh it is wonderful... wonderful to me."
  • Hymn 196, Jesus, Once of Humble Birth: "Jesus once of humble birth, now in glory comes to earth...Once upon the cross he bowed, Now his chariot is the cloud. Once he groaned in blood and tears, now in glory he appears."
  • Hymn 197, O Savior, Thou Wearest a Crown.: "O Savior, thou who wearest a crown of piercing thorn, the pain thou meekly bearest, weighed down by grief and scorn. The soldiers mock and flail thee; for drink they give thee gall; Upon the cross they nail thee to die, O king of all."

These hymns are sung every Sunday as the Sacrament is being prepared. It is clear that Jesus' sacrifice on the cross is a central focus of Latter-day Saint worship services.

Statements regarding the atonement

These statements are not cited in order to devalue in any way the importance of the cross. It is important to realize however that the cross is not necessarily as significant a concept in the scriptures as some might think. Leon Morris agrees with Murphy-O'Connor that aside from the writings of Paul, there are not many references in the New Testament to the 'death' of Jesus; indeed: "We would imagine that there are many New Testament references to the death of Christ. But, outside of Paul, there are not." [30] And in this context it is important to remember that Paul's writings comprise less than one-fourth of the New Testament writings. Father Murphy-O'Connor also writes "during the first Christian centuries, the cross was a thing accursed. No one professed allegiance to Christ by wearing a cross." He indicates that it was only after Constantine lifted the ban against Christianity in general, and forbade crucifixion in particular, that a "new, more pleasant meaning for the cross was facilitated." But, he concludes, "even after the cross had been widely accepted as a symbol, there was a consistent refusal to accept its reality. Only two crucifixion scenes survive from the fifth century… The situation remains unchanged until the twelfth century." [31] These comments are not intended to devalue the cross or the blood shed there, only to place these events in their proper context within sacred scripture. Despite the fact that Gethsemane is mentioned only twice in the scriptures, it has nevertheless engendered an enormous amount of secondary literature. A study on the study of the passion narratives published in 1989 identified seven books dealing specifically with Gethsemane during the previous 100 years and more than 100 articles. That represents a significant amount of discussion on something seemingly of no account! [32]


Response to claim: 201 - The three heaven doctrine has no basis in the Bible, but is only based upon a vision of Joseph Smith

The author(s) of Becoming Gods make(s) the following claim:

The three heaven doctrine has no basis in the Bible, but is only based upon a vision of Joseph Smith.

(Author's sources: DC 76:)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

See 2 Corinthians 12:2 and 1 Corinthians 15:40-41



Question: Do the Latter-day Saint "Three Degrees of Glory" have a basis in the Bible?

It is clear that Joseph Smith went far beyond the information found in the Bible concerning the degrees of glory in the resurrection

It is claimed that the doctrine of three heavens has no basis in the Bible.

It is clear that Joseph Smith went far beyond the information found in the Bible concerning the degrees of glory in the resurrection. However, it is equally clear that many of those extra details he included are corroborated by the testimony of the early Christian writers—and this to such an extent that it is hard to explain the phenomenon as mere coincidence.[33]

The Bible makes clear that all mankind will be "judged. . . according to their works." (Revelation 20:12) And if so, won't everyone's rewards be different one from another? Jesus insisted that in His "Father's house are many mansions" (John 14:2), and Paul wrote that in the judgment a person's works might be added to his reward or burned up, but either way he might still be saved: "If any man's work abide which he hath built [upon the foundation of Jesus Christ], he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire." (1 Corinthians 3:14-15) Paul also indicated that he had seen a vision of "the third heaven." (2 Corinthians 12:2) Therefore, one might logically conclude from these passages that recipients of salvation will be allotted varying rewards within at least three different "heavens" or "degrees of glory." However, it must be admitted that this fact is not really made explicit in the Bible, so it is understandable that the Christian world has for many centuries been content with the doctrine of one heaven and one hell.

The Mormon doctrine of degrees of glory

While pondering the significance of certain of the aforementioned passages in the Bible, Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon were given a most striking vision of the fate of mankind after the general resurrection and judgment, which included a description of the three principal kingdoms of glory. (D&C 76) They found that the first kingdom, called the Celestial, will be inhabited by those who have overcome by faith in Jesus Christ (D&C 76:50-70, 92-96), including children who have died and those who would have accepted the gospel in this life, but were not given the chance until they reached the spirit world. (D&C 137:1-10) The second kingdom, called the Terrestrial, will be inhabited by good people who were just and kind, but were not valiant in their testimony of Jesus. Those who rejected the gospel in this life, but afterwards received it will be given a reward in this kingdom, as well. (D&C 76:71-80,91,97)[34] The third, or Telestial, kingdom will be given to the generally wicked masses of the earth who spent their entire residence in the Spirit World in Hell, and so were not worthy of any higher glory. (D&C 76:81-90,98-112)

Another distinction between these kingdoms is that those who receive Celestial glory will reside in the presence of the Father Himself, while those in the Terrestrial kingdom will receive the presence of the Son, and those in the Telestial will have the Holy Ghost to minister to them. (D&C 76:62,77,86)

Sun, Moon, and Stars as Types of the Degrees of Glory

What marvelous light this vision has thrown upon obscure Bible passages! For example, what good does it do to know that there are three heavens if one does not know anything about them? Another example of a passage illuminated by this revelation is Paul's description of the glory of the resurrected body:

There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead. (1 Corinthians 15:40-42)

In the vision of the kingdoms of glory, the Lord revealed that this passage is not just a comparison of earthly bodies with heavenly, but also a reference to the fact that there are three different major levels of glory to which a body can be resurrected:

And the glory of the celestial is one, even as the glory of the sun is one. And the glory of the terrestrial is one, even as the glory of the moon is one. And the glory of the telestial is one, even as the glory of the stars is one; for as one star differeth from another star in glory, even so differs one from another in glory in the telestial world. (D&C 76:96-98)

Origen, in the early third century, revealed that the early Church interpreted this passage in essentially the same way:

Our understanding of the passage indeed is, that the Apostle, wishing to describe the great difference among those who rise again in glory, i.e., of the saints, borrowed a comparison from the heavenly bodies, saying, "One is the glory of the sun, another the glory of the moon, another the glory of the stars."[35]

He further explained that the highest of the three degrees is associated with the Father, and the second degree with the Son:

And some men are connected with the Father, being part of Him, and next to these, those whom our argument now brings into clearer light, those who have come to the Saviour and take their stand entirely in Him. And third are those of whom we spoke before, who reckon the sun and the moon and the stars to be gods, and take their stand by them. And in the fourth and last place those who submit to soulless and dead idols.[36]

We shall see that Origen's doctrine of a fourth degree for the very wicked is fairly consistent with LDS belief, as well.

John Chrysostom was another witness to the fact that the early Church considered this passage to be a reference to degrees of reward in the afterlife:

And having said this, he ascends again to the heaven, saying, "There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon." For as in the earthly bodies there is a difference, so also in the heavenly; and that difference no ordinary one, but reaching even to the uttermost: there being not only a difference between sun and moon, and stars, but also between stars and stars. For what though they be all in the heaven? yet some have a larger, others a less share of glory. What do we learn from hence? That although they be all in God's kingdom, all shall not enjoy the same reward; and though all sinners be in hell, all shall not endure the same punishment.[37]

More Ancient Witnesses to the Three Degrees of Glory

This doctrine goes back much further than Origen and Chrysostom, however. Irenaeus preserved the same tradition which had supposedly come from the elders who knew the Apostles. Many think he received it from Papias:

And as the presbyters say, Then those who are deemed worthy of an abode in heaven shall go there, others shall enjoy the delights of paradise, and others shall possess the splendour of the city; for everywhere the Saviour shall be seen according as they who see Him shall be worthy. [They say, moreover], that there is this distinction between the habitation of those who produce an hundred-fold, and that of those who produce sixty-fold, and that of those who produce thirty-fold: for the first will be taken up into the heavens, the second will dwell in paradise, the last will inhabit the city; and that was on this account the Lord declared, "In My Father's house are many mansions." For all things belong to God, who supplies all with a suitable dwelling-place; even as His Word says, that a share is allotted to all by the Father, according as each person is or shall be worthy. And this is the couch on which the guests shall recline, having been invited to the wedding. The presbyters, the disciples of the Apostles, affirm that this is the gradation and arrangement of those who are saved, and that they advance through steps of this nature; also that they ascend through the Spirit to the Son, and through the Son to the Father, and that in due time the Son will yield up His work to the Father, even as it is said by the Apostle, "For He must reign till He hath put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death."[38]

Clement of Alexandria also expressed belief in the three degrees, and echoed the Lord's revelation to Joseph Smith that those in the highest degree "are gods, even the sons of God." (D&C 76:58)

Conformably, therefore, there are various abodes, according to the worth of those who have believed . . . . These chosen abodes, which are three, are indicated by the numbers in the Gospel--the thirty, the sixty, the hundred. And the perfect inheritance belongs to those who attain to "a perfect man," according to the image of the Lord . . . . To the likeness of God, then, he that is introduced into adoption and the friendship of God, to the just inheritance of the lords and gods is brought; if he be perfected, according to the Gospel, as the Lord Himself taught.[39]

Clement also preached that the three gradations of glory are procured by virtue of three types of actions:

[Clement of Alexandria] reckons three kinds of actions, the first of which is . . . right or perfect action, which is characteristic of the perfect man and Gnostic alone, and raises him to the height of glory. The second is the class of . . . medium, or intermediate actions, which are done by less perfect believers, and procure a lower grade of glory. In the third place he reckons sinful actions, which are done by those who fall away from salvation.[40]

Other Systems of Multiple Heavens

Actually, there were several schemes for the structure of the heavens, with different numbers of heavens which varied also in their contents.[41] But even where three degrees were not specifically mentioned, it was maintained that various gradations of the elect exist. For example, Similitude 8 in the Pastor of Hermas discusses various types of elect. The editors of one collection of early Christian documents preface the chapter with this summary: "That there are many kinds of elect, and of repenting sinners: and how all of them shall receive a reward proportionable to the measure of their repentance and good works."[42]

Jesus, in the Epistle of the Apostles, made a distinction between the "elect" and "most elect."[43] And consistent with this, the Jewish Christian Clementine Recognitions reduced the number of heavens to two.[44]

One of the most popular schemes was that of seven heavens. Daniélou asserts that the idea of seven heavens was first introduced by certain Jewish Christian groups and "derives from oriental, Irano-Babylonian influences," while the older Jewish apocalyptic tradition and many other early Christian groups held to the three heavens scheme.[45] However, it appears that the seven heavens may originally have been consistent with the three heavens doctrine. For example, we have seen that Irenaeus preserved Papias's doctrine of three heavens, but in another passage he asserted that "the earth is encompassed by seven heavens, in which dwell Powers and Angels and Archangels, giving homage to the Almighty God who created all things . . . ."[46] As Daniélou points out, since the seven heavens were the dwelling places of angels, they probably were thought to have been gradations within the second of the three principal heavens.[47]

Outer Darkness

As we noted in the discussion of the nature of the spirit world, both the Latter-day Saints and the early Christians have taught that the "hell" associated with the spirit world will have an end. It should be noted here, however, that there will be an everlasting hell after the resurrection, and the promise of eternal punishment is very real for those who in this life and the next not only reject Christ and His Kingdom, but who consciously fight against it once they have received a witness of its truth. The Lord revealed to the Prophet that those who deny the Holy Ghost, and thus committing the unpardonable sin, will be given a kingdom of totally without glory called "outer darkness":

Thus saith the Lord concerning all those who know my power, and have been made partakers thereof, and suffered themselves through the power of the devil to be overcome, and to deny the truth and defy my power--They are they who are the sons of perdition, of whom I say that it had been better for them never to have been born; For they are vessels of wrath, doomed to suffer the wrath of God, with the devil and his angels in eternity; Concerning whom I have said there is no forgiveness in this world nor in the world to come--Having denied the Holy Spirit after having received it, and having denied the Only Begotten Son of the Father, having crucified him unto themselves and put him to an open shame. (D&C 76:31-35)

Similarly, both the gnostic Christian Gospel of Philip and the Pastor of Hermas describe the denizens of "outer darkness" as those who have made a conscious and specific choice to rebel against God:

An Apostolic man in a vision saw some people shut up in a house of fire and bound with fiery chains, lying in flaming ointment . . . . And he said to them, "[Why are they not able] to be saved? [They answered], "They did not desire it. They received [this place as] punishment, what is called 'the [outer] darkness,' because he is [thrown] out (into it)."[48]

From the first mountain, which was black, they that believed are the following: apostates and blasphemers against the Lord, and betrayers of the servants of God. To these repentance is not open; but death lies before them, and on this account also are they black, for their race is a lawless one.[49]

Origen taught that the wicked in outer darkness would be devoid of intelligence, and possessed of bodies stripped of all glory.

But the outer darkness, in my judgment, is to be understood not so much of some dark atmosphere without any light, as of those persons who, being plunged in the darkness of profound ignorance, have been placed beyond the reach of any light of the understanding . . . . The wicked also, who in this life have loved the darkness of error and the night of ignorance, may be clothed with dark and black bodies after the resurrection . . . .[50]

Finally, the Lord told Joseph Smith that He never fully reveals to men the punishments of outer darkness, but only brief visions thereof. Consider the wording of this revelation as compared to that used by Jesus in the apocryphal Gospel of Bartholomew:

And the end thereof, neither the place thereof, nor their torment, no man knows; Neither was it revealed, neither is, neither will be revealed unto man, except to them who are made partakers thereof; Nevertheless, I, the Lord, show it by vision unto many, but straightway shut it up again; Wherefore, the end, the width, the height, the depth, and the misery thereof, they understand not, neither any man except those who are ordained unto this condemnation. (D&C 76:45-48)

And the earth was rolled up like a volume of a book and the deep [hell] was revealed unto them. And when the Apostles saw it, they fell on their faces upon the earth. But Jesus raised them up, saying: Said I not unto you, "It is not good for you to see the deep." And again he beckoned unto the angels, and the deep was covered up.[51]

The Loss of the Doctrine of Degrees of Glory

We have seen that the doctrine of degrees of glory was soon confused so that a number of schemes, notably that of seven heavens, were adopted, but it was always clear to everyone that there were different degrees of glory in the heavens. So how was this enlightening doctrine lost? Its fate is not completely clear, but the example of Jovinian, a monk from Milan who preached around the turn of the fifth century, may be instructive. Clark describes Jovinian's teaching, and Jerome's reaction to it: "Jovinian's view, that there are only two categories, the saved and the damned, is assessed by Jerome as more akin to the philosophy of the Old Stoics than that of Christians."[52] Therefore, once again an older Christian doctrine was replaced by the speculations of a Greek philosophical school.


Notes

  1. Ezra Taft Benson, "Five Marks of the Divinity of Jesus Christ," From a fireside address given at the University of Utah Special Events Center on 9 December 1979.
  2. Brigham Young, "Character of God and Christ, etc.," (8 July 1860) Journal of Discourses 8:115. (See also Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 1:238.; Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 4:218.; Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 11:268..
  3. Ezra Taft Benson, "Joy in Christ," Ensign (March 1986), 3–4. (emphasis added) off-site
  4. Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2nd edition, (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966), 742. GL direct link
  5. Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2nd edition, (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966), 822. GL direct link
  6. Harold B. Lee, Teachings of Harold B. Lee (Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft, 1996), 14. GospeLink (requires subscrip.)
  7. Ezra Taft Benson, "Five Marks of the Divinity of Jesus Christ," From a fireside address given at the University of Utah Special Events Center on 9 December 1979.
  8. Brigham Young, "Character of God and Christ, etc.," (8 July 1860) Journal of Discourses 8:115. (See also Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 1:238.; Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 4:218.; Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 11:268..
  9. Ezra Taft Benson, "Joy in Christ," Ensign (March 1986), 3–4. (emphasis added) off-site
  10. Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2nd edition, (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966), 742. GL direct link
  11. Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2nd edition, (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966), 822. GL direct link
  12. Harold B. Lee, Teachings of Harold B. Lee (Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft, 1996), 14. GospeLink (requires subscrip.)
  13. Gordon B. Hinckley, "A Season for Gratitude," Ensign (December 1997), 2. (italics added)
  14. Bruce R. McConkie, "The Purifying Power of Gethsemane," Ensign (May 1995), 9. (italics added)
  15. Preach My Gospel: A Guide to Missionary Service (Intellectual Reserve, 2004), 32. ISBN 0402366174. LDS link (italics added) PDF link
  16. "Atonement of Jesus Christ," in True to the Faith (Intellectual Reserve, 2004), 17. [{{{1}}} LDS link] direct off-site (italics added)
  17. Morris, The Cross in the New Testament, 28, note 30, quoting Newbigin, Sin and Salvation (London: SCM, 1946), 32. As mentioned earlier, Morris is designated by Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson, the authors of Mormonism 101, as a Christian theologian from whom they elicit support.
  18. Leon Morris, New Testament Theology (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing, 1985), 134.
  19. Donald A. Hagner, Matthew 14–28: Word Biblical Commentary, Vol. 33b (Dallas, Texas: Word Books, 1995), 785. Notice that Professor Hagner mentions the 'dread and anguish' which Jesus felt as He looked ahead to His death on the Cross; this is precisely what several of the LDS Church leaders have said.
  20. Ebrard, quoted in John Peter Lange, A Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical, Vol. 1, Matthew, translated by Philip Schaff (New York: Scribner, 1899), 481. No further details are given about this 'Ebrard.' However, it is probable that it could be Johannes Heinrich August Ebrard (1818–1888), who, about 1860, wrote a work translated in English as Apologetics; or the Scientific Vindication of Christianity. He was also the author of a Biblical Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews (1853); and another on the Epistles of St. John (1860). In 1858 was published the American version of his Biblical Commentary on the New Testament.
  21. W. D. Davies, Dale C. Allison, Jr., The International Critical Commentary. A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel according to Saint Matthew. Volume III: Matthew 19–28 (Edinburgh, T and T Clark Publisher 1997): 494, note 27, quoting A.H. McNeile, The Gospel according to St. Matthew. The Greek Text with Introduction and Notes (Grand Rapids 1980): 389. "Magisterial" is a word way overused with reference to others' studies, but it is used with reference to Davies and Allison's commentary by John Jefferson Davis, "'Teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.' The History of the Interpretation of the 'Great Commission' and Implications for Marketplace Ministries," Evangelical Review of Theology 25.1 (2001): 77.
  22. J. Massyngberde /Allen, this name is spelled 'Massyngbearde'; I checked it in the library; I have found her name spelt with and without the last 'a' in online discussions; she apparently has the 'a' in; her name is J. Massyngbearde Ford/Ford, My Enemy is my Guest. Jesus and Violence in Luke (Maryknoll, New York Orbis Books 1984): 118. Dr. Ford is a professor at the University of Notre Dame. She cites A. Feuillet, L'Agonie de Gethsemani (Paris 1977): 147–50.
  23. Oden, The Word of Life, Vol. 2, 323, citing The Prayers of Catherine of Siena (New York: Paulist Press, 1984), 17–18, 174.
  24. B.H. Roberts, The Seventy's Course in Theology, 2:127–128, quoting International Commentary, Matthew, page 359.
  25. David B. Haight, A Light Unto the World (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1997), 16, quoting Frederick W. Farrar, Life of Christ (Hartford, Connecticut: S. S. Scranton Company, 1918), 575–576, 579.
  26. Klaas Runia, "The Preaching of the Cross Today," Evangelical Review of Theology 25:1 (2001), 57.
  27. Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, Vol. 2 (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1953), 534, partially quoted in Lewis Johnson, Jr., "The Agony of Christ," Bibliotheca Sacra 124 (October 1967), 306.
  28. Quoted in Johnson, "The Agony of Christ," 307. Clarke was a Methodist theologian and died in 1832.
  29. Johnson, Ibid., 313.
  30. Morris, The Cross in the New Testament, 217.
  31. Murphy-O'Connor, "Even Death On a Cross," 21-22. H.E.W. Turner wrote 50 years ago that "it still remains true that the monumental genius of St. Paul had little permanent influence on the theology of the early Church." [H.E.W. Turner, The Patristic Doctrine of Redemption. A Study of the Development of Doctrine during the Fist Five Centuries (London: A.R. Mobray, 1952), 24.] After his exhaustive study of 'grace' in the New Testament and the Apostolic Fathers, Thomas Torrance had to conclude that Paul had had almost no influence on them: "The most astonishing feature was the failure to grasp the significance of the death of Christ." He further concludes that "failure to apprehend the meaning of the Cross and to make it a saving article of faith is surely the clearest indication that a genuine doctrine of grace is absent" in the Apostolic Fathers. [Thomas Torrance, The Doctrine of Grace in the Apostolic Fathers (London: Oliver and Boyd, 1948), 137–138.]
  32. David D. Garland, One Hundred Years of Study on the Passion Narratives, National Association of Baptist Professors of Religion Bibliographic Series, Vol. 3 (Macon, Georgia: Mercer University Press, 1989), 73–79. More recent commentaries on the relevant verses add significantly to that total.
  33. This response is originally from Barry R. Bickmore, "Salvation History and Requirements," in Restoring the Ancient Church: Joseph Smith and Early Christianity (Redding, CA: Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research, 1999). It may have been added to or modified since, by nature of a wiki project.
  34. Note also that the paradise of Adam and Eve was in a Terrestrial state, and translated beings dwell in this sphere awaiting the resurrection, as well. See Chapter Note 2.
  35. Origen, De Principiis 2:10:2, in ANF 4:294.
  36. Origen, Commentary on John 2:3, in ANF 10:324-325.
  37. John Chrysostom, Homilies on 1 Corinthians 41:4, in NPNF Series 1, 12:251.
  38. Irenaeus, Against Heresies 5:36:1-2, in ANF 1:567, brackets in original.
  39. Clement of Alexandria, Stromata 6:14, in ANF 2:506.
  40. ANF 2:506.
  41. Daniélou, The Theology of Jewish Christianity, 179.
  42. The Lost Books of the Bible (New York: Bell Publishing Company, 1979), 240.
  43. Epistula Apostolorum, in NTA 1:210.
  44. Daniélou, The Theology of Jewish Christianity, 174; However, it is clear from the passages which mention two heavens in the Recognitions that the two heavens spoken of are the visible heaven, which men can see, and the invisible, where the angels, etc., dwell. See Clementine Recognitions 9:3, in ANF 8:183; Clementine Recognitions 3:27, in ANF 8:121; Clementine Recognitions 2:68, in ANF 8:116. There is no mention of any division in the invisible heaven, but the following passage may be an oblique reference to the three degrees: "Be this therefore the first step to you of three; which step brings forth thirty commands, and the second sixty, and the third a hundred, as we shall expound more fully to you at another time." Peter, in Clementine Recognitions 4:36, in ANF 8:143. The footnote to this passage makes clear that whatever it referred to was most likely part of the esoteric tradition.
  45. Daniélou, The Theology of Jewish Christianity, 174.
  46. Irenaeus, Proof of the Apostolic Preaching 9, in ACW 16:53.
  47. Daniélou, The Theology of Jewish Christianity, 176.
  48. The Gospel of Philip, in , James M. Robinson, ed., The Nag Hammadi Library in English (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1977), 140, brackets in original.
  49. The Pastor of Hermas, Sim. 9:19, in ANF 2:50.
  50. Origen, De Principiis 2:10:8, in ANF 4:296.
  51. The Gospel of Bartholomew, in ANT, 173.
  52. Clark, The Origenist Controversy, 131.