Criticism of Mormonism/Books/Becoming Gods/Use of sources

Table of Contents

Source Analysis, Sorted by Page Number

A FairMormon Analysis of: Becoming Gods: A Closer Look at 21st-Century Mormonism, a work by author: Richard Abanes

Something to Consider

Most references and comments are placed at the end of the book. This requires a tedious process of looking up each citation at the end of the book by those who wish to study the sources used. Unfortunately, the endnotes are also used to provide information which ought to have been acknowledged in the main text. The average reader will not check the end notes—they will read the main text without looking up the "rest of the story" in the endnote. Some examples this are provided in the following sections.

69-70

Source interpretation
The author claims that ""LDS apologists and BYU professors are advocating a new unofficial opinion that Lehi and his people represented only a 'small band' of Israelites, compared to a larger population of indigenous people in the New world." He then asserts that "according to Mormon 1:7 in the Book of Mormon, the Nephite and Lamanite populations were hardly small: "The whole face of the land had become covered with buildings, and the people were as numerous almost, as it were the sand of the sea [about A.D. 322]."

Author's source(s)

  • Jeffrey Meldrum, "The Children of Lehi: DNA and the Book of Mormon, lecture at the 2003 FAIR Conference, Aug. 8, 2003.

Source Analysis

  • The book seems to propose that the proposition that Lehi's small group intermingled with a larger population of Native Americans in approximately 600 B.C. is somehow contradicted and invalidated by the fact that the population was as numerous as "the sand of the sea" in A.D. 322, almost 1000 years later. The logic behind this comparison is elusive. If anything, the idea that Lehi's group mingled with an existing population supports the idea that they would become quite numerous over a long period of time.


76, 368n143

Source interpretation
The book asserts that FARMS claims that B.H. Roberts was only playing "devils advocate" when he wrote the critical documents now contained in Studies of the Book of Mormon. The book goes on to claim that FARMS has have never provided documentation to support this assertion, and that FARMS only focuses on Roberts' declarations that were made before he reached what the book calls his "final conclusion."

Author's source(s)

  • Truman G. Madsen, "B.H. Roberts and the Book of Mormon," Brigham Young University Studies 19 no. 4 (1979), 427. PDF link
  • [A version also appears in Truman G. Madsen, "B.H. Roberts and the Book of Mormon," in Book of Mormon Authorship: New Light on Ancient Origins, edited by Noel B. Reynolds and Charles D. Tate (eds.), (Provo, Utah : Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University ; Salt Lake City, Utah : Distributed by Bookcraft, 1996 [1982]),7–27. ISBN 0884944697 GospeLink (requires subscrip.)]

Source Analysis


84

Source interpretation
The author claims,

[The revelations] were subsequently arranged, edited by Smith for accuracy, then printed as A Book of Commandments (1833). But because very few copies of the Book of Commandments were produced, it remained unavailable to most Mormons. So in 1835 LDS leaders republished the revelations. But by that time the declarations were showing their age. Many contained outdated information. Some included erroneous statements. Others presented abandoned doctrines. A few of the revelations simply revealed too much information about LDS beliefs... (emphasis added)

An endnote provides the following clarification: "(p. 370 n.9)The press that printed the sheets of revelations was destroyed by an anti-Mormon mob. The sheets, scattered in the streets, were gathered up and assembled into a 160-page book."

Author's source(s)

Source Analysis

  • The authors makes a statement in the main text and then only provides crucial clarification in the endnotes at the back of the book. In the main text, the text makes it appear as if the Book of Commandments was successfully printed and distributed, but that it was unavailable to most Church members because there were "very few copies." Then, just two years later, the revelations were supposed to be "showing their age" for a variety of reasons.
  • For a detailed response, see: Doctrine and Covenants/Textual changes


184

Source interpretation
The book asserts the following:

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 source(s)

Source Analysis


273, 446n91

Source interpretation
The book clearly tries to lead the reader to believe that Robert L. Millet deceptively altered a biblical verse by making the following assertion:
Interestingly, when BYU professor Robert L. Millet attempted to justify baptism for the dead using the Corinthians verse, he actually changed the second sentence of biblical text, replacing the word "they" with "we." The substitution, of course, makes it seem as if Paul was saying that he and all the Corinthians were baptizing the dead.

Author's source(s)

Source Analysis


331 n.35

Source interpretation
The book displays a disturbing preoccupation with what is constantly referred to as a "sexual union" between heavenly parents: The word "sex" and "sexual" are often inserted into descriptions of LDS beliefs which otherwise never mention the word. The author makes similar claims in his earlier book One Nation Under Gods. The author states,

I have often spoken of the LDS belief in eternal "Celestial Sex" (i.e. the process by which Mormons believe they will procreate spirit children in eternity with their spouses, see chapter 6). But this has brought LDS criticisms because the actual phrase "Celestial Sex" is not used by LDS leaders—even though sexual union is how many Mormons believe they will procreate in the Celestial Kingdom. (emphasis added)

Author's source(s)

  • The author provides no sources to support this claim.
  • A search of the endnotes for Chapter 6 shows no references to 1982 anti-Mormon film The God Makers, from which the offensive term "Celestial Sex" originated.

Source Analysis


Question: Do Latter-day Saints believe in a practice called "celestial sex," and that this is the manner in which "spirit children" are formed?

It is the critics of the Church that invented and use the offensive term "celestial sex"

This is not a term used by Latter-day Saints. It has, in fact, never been used by Latter-day Saints. The use of the term "celestial sex" by critics is intended to be demeaning and shocking to Latter-day Saints or interested readers. The use of such tactics may say much about the mainstream culture's preoccupation with sexual behavior. However, it says nothing about the actual beliefs of Church members.

Critics of the Church twist LDS beliefs into a form that makes them look ridiculous. Quotes made by early LDS leaders are often used to support the claim that Latter-day Saints believe in “Celestial sex.” It should be noted, however, that LDS leaders have never used the term "Celestial sex." This phrase was coined by critics of the Church, likely for its “shock value” in portraying the following concepts in LDS belief:

  1. The belief that God the Father has a physical body.
  2. The belief that there exists a Heavenly Mother who also possesses a physical body.
  3. The belief that our Heavenly Father and Mother together are capable of creating “spirit children.”

Critics take these ideas and combine them, leading to a declaration that Latter-day Saints therefore believe in “Celestial sex.” Various anti-Mormon works then use this idea to mock LDS beliefs or shock their readers—though this claim does not describe LDS beliefs, but the critics' caricature of them.

One of the earliest uses of the term "celestial sex" was in the anti-Mormon film The God Makers

For example, the 1982 anti-Mormon film The God Makers makes reference to “engaging in celestial sex with their goddess wives." One woman in the film, who is claimed to have once been a Latter-day Saint, expresses the idea that the primary goal of women in the Church is to "become a goddess in heaven" in order to "multiply an earth" and be "eternally pregnant." The claim that Latter-day Saints expect to have "endless Celestial sex" in order to populate their own planet is very popular among critics of the Church, though members themselves would not explain their beliefs in that way.

The critics' assumptions simply take what we know about our physical world and naively apply it to the afterlife. When one examines the critics’ point further, a key question ought to be raised: How does the union of two immortal beings in a physical manner produce spirit offspring? Latter-day Saint belief is that “spirit children” only receive a physical body upon being born on earth.

This question, of course, cannot be answered. It is pointless to speculate on the exact manner in which “spirit children” are produced, and to assume that this occurs through “Celestial sex” and being "eternally pregnant" is to apply a worldly mindset to a spiritual process. The bottom line: Latter-day Saints do not know the mechanism by which “spirit children” are produced, and no LDS doctrine claims that "celestial sex" and being "eternally pregnant" are the means.


392 n.14

Source interpretation
According to the author,

...thanks to Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother—who, through some kind of sexual union, "clothed" each of us with a spirit-body. (emphasis added)

Author's source(s)

  • Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 750.

Source Analysis

  • From the cited source, McConkie states,"Our spirit bodies had their beginning in pre-existence when we were born as the spirit children of God our Father. Through that birth process spirit element was organized into intelligent entities."
  • Bruce R. McConkie is quoted in the endnote, but he never mentions anything about "sexual unions."


149

Source interpretation
The book makes the following claim,

Now concerning the title "Son of Man," there are several ways to interpret this phrase. But none of them imply that God the Father is a man. One might notice, for instance, that contrary to what Mormons may assert, the phrase does not say "son of a man." There are no indefinite articles in the Greek. Each instance simply reads, "Son of Man."

Author's source(s)

  • No source is provided to support the assertion and implication that LDS reinterpret the title "Son of Man" as "son of a man."

Source Analysis

  • The book implies through the construction of this text that Mormons believe that the title "Son of Man" actually means "son of a man."
  • Latter-day Saints accept "Son of Man" as a messianic title, and do not attempt to reinterpret or alter it.


157

Source interpretation
The author once again approaches the topic of "Celestial Sex" by asserting the following:

According to Brigham Young, our spirit body was created via a sexual union of Heavenly Father and Mother..."[God] created man, as we create our children," said Young, "[f]or there is no other process of creation in heaven, on the earth, in the earth, or under the earth, or in all the eternities, that is, that were, or that ever will be." (emphasis added)

Author's source(s)

Source Analysis

  • From the cited source,

"...So God created man in his own image. in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them." I believe that the declaration made in these two scriptures is literally true. God has made His children like Himself to stand erect, and has endowed them with intelligence and power and dominion over all His works, and given them the same attributes which He Himself possesses. He created man, as we create our children; for there is no other process of creation in heaven, on the earth, in the earth, or under the earth, or in all the eternities, that is, that were, or that ever will be. As the Apostle Paul has expressed it, "For in Him we live, and move, and have our being." "Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art or man's device." There exist fixed laws and regulations by which the elements are fashioned to fulfill their destiny in all the varied kingdoms and orders of creation, and this process of creation is from everlasting to everlasting. Jesus Christ is known in the scriptures as the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth, and it is written of Him as being the brightness of the Father's glory and the express image of His person. The word image we understand in the same sense as we do the word in the 3rd verse of the 5th chapter of Genesis, "And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, after his image."

  • Does Brigham sound like he is talking about sex? He is talking about how God created man "in his own image!"
  • The book speaks of the "LDS belief in 'Celestial Sex'" and "sexual union" between Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother as a fact, yet this characterization is abhorrent and offensive to Latter-day Saints. The book continues by stating that "sexual union is how many Mormons believe they will procreate in the Celestial Kingdom." Latter-day Saints do not claim to know the process by which spirit children are created.
  • It is ironic that the book uses this as an example of Mormons "splitting terms" while "dismissing the broader point" raised by critics. The broader point is that LDS believe that they will be able to have spirit children if they achieve exaltation. The narrow point is the assignment of the ugly and offensive term "Celestial Sex" to this process—a term coined by Ed Decker in the 1982 anti-Mormon film The God Makers ("...engaging in celestial sex with their goddess wives.")


265

Source interpretation
The author asserts that Latter-day Saints are not "Christian," and then compares Latter-day Saints with other groups who claimed to be "Christian:"

...the Branch Davidians, who called themselves "Christian" but stored illegal weapons, abused children, and murdered law enforcement officers? What about The Family, a "Christian" group that currently engages in premarital "sharing" with multiple partners and allows adultery with consent? How about so-called "Christian" witches? There are also a significant number of liberal "Christian"...who deny the virgin birth, the deity of Jesus, and Christ's physical resurrection. And let us not forget "Christian" nudists.

Author's source(s)

  • The book uses a variety of sources related to the various groups mentioned.

Source Analysis

  • So, lets examine the author's stated criteria for disallowing the "broad definition" of the term "Christian:"
    • Storing illegal weapons
    • Abusing children
    • Murdering law enforcement officers
    • Pre-maritial sharing partners and consensual adultery
    • Witches
    • Denial of the virgin birth
    • Denial of the divinity of Jesus Christ
    • Denial of the resurrection of Jesus Christ
    • Nudists
  • This "laundry list" of groups and their abhorrent practices are presented in order argue against the application of the term "Christian" to Latter-day Saints. Examining this list closely—are any of these things taught, advocated or practiced by Latter-day Saints? This is the category into which Latter-day Saints are to be consigned? Such a comparison and its use as justification for denying the use of the term "Christian" to Latter-day Saints is insulting.
  • For a detailed response, see: Latter-day Saints aren't Christians?