Reviewing ‘Eternal Man’ Part 3 – Creation and Procreation

The third of a seven part series.  See 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.

Chapter three of Eternal Man is ‘Creation and Procreation’. Madsen begins by providing a poetic writing by Joseph Smith:

And I heard a great voice bearing record from Heav’n,
He’s the Saviour, and Only Begotten of God-
By him, of him, and through him, the worlds were all made,
Even all that career in the heavens so broad.
Whose inhabitants, too, from the first to the last,
Are sav’d by the very same Saviour of ours;
And, of course, are begotten God’s daughters and sons,
By the very same truths, and the very same pow’rs.

Madsen then asks – ‘But is Divine fatherhood in any sense similar to human fatherhood’? He mentions what he feels is the one important similarity. It is that in both Divine and human fatherhood there is a transmission of traits and attributes. He then offers two anticipated objections to this assertion.

1 – Anthropomorphism. Taking biblical phrases like Jesus’ ‘My father and your father’, or Paul’s ‘offspring of God’ and ‘Father of spirits’ literally apply manlike qualities to God. Such ‘Fatherhood’ connotes a finite, material God who is subject to space and time. Traditional Christianity finds these traits absurd, and feel that they destroy the dignity and unconditioned ultimacy of God.

 2 – Psychologism. The idea of Divine Fatherhood is here objectionable because of our tendency to project our own mortal ‘father-image’ onto God.

 Milton is then referenced for his claims to inspired poetry. He felt the Bible was seriously literal in what it says about the fatherhood of God. He felt that there was no radical distinction between spirit and matter, and that there was a point-by-point analogy between heaven and earth. He asks ‘Why should we be afraid to ascribe to God what He ascribes to Himself’?

 Madsen then points out how inept the fear of Divine parenthood is in Christendom. If God can transmit his attributes through Mary, a human being, to the body of Christ, then why is it unthinkable that He could transmit attributes and spirit traits to immortal spirits? Why would this be any less dignified?

 Conquest of a Paradox

 Madsen then considers the creation paradox: An immaterial Trinity elicited from nothing both material and immaterial substance. The unchanging and unchangeable Deity yet changed and continues to change the whole of reality. A nontemporal and nonspatial being – literally nowhere and nowhen, created everywhere and everywhen. The All-powerful and All-good Deity absolutely brought into being mankind, angels, demons and Satan. Of such is the creation paradox. The teachings of Joseph Smith, like the ancient prophets, are involved in none of these paradoxes.

 Reverent or Irreverent

 It is tempting to think of Divine parenthood as being quite irreverent. We see mortal weakness and corruption in earthly parenthood and wonder how God could be involved in anything similar. Many therefore conclude that God could not be a person or personable, let alone a parent.

 Madsen asserts that nothing in the universe is more lofty than personality. Calling God ‘Unconditioned’ may idolize but it does not deify. When Jesus says, ‘I ascend unto my Father, and your Father’ what does he mean? If there is revulsion to a literal meaning does this revulsion come out of the revelations of God, or out of tradition and guilt?

 Things More Noble

 What is the appeal to a doctrine of Divine parenthood?

 Madsen offers that all of us crave an infinite, certain, ultimate, rich, abiding, undergirding, trustworthy love. What greater sense of love could there be than that of one who believes in Divine parenthood? Man has often believed that somehow God could be in his heart. But now he may realize that godliness in engrained through him by divine lineage. A father and a mother looking down at their sleeping infant commune in a sacred parental love. Such love is a shining light with a wealth of poignant insights that follow in its wake. A parent/child relationship with the divine with feelings of gratitude, virtue, sympathy, peace and motivation replace grosser emotions of fear, distant awe, dread, solitude, even despair.

 This is the flame that is rekindled when Joseph Smith testified in the 20th century what Jesus did in the first, that God is our Father.

8 Responses to “Reviewing ‘Eternal Man’ Part 3 – Creation and Procreation”

  1. 1 Matt W. May 13, 2009 at 12:36 am

    I’m reading these, keep them coming.

  2. 2 Matt W. May 13, 2009 at 12:37 am

    And I note you must have enjoyed this chapter in all it’s parent-child glory…

  3. 3 Eric Nielson May 13, 2009 at 8:50 am

    Thanks Matt. I am glad sombody likes these. I am a little surprised how few visits these are getting.

    And yes, it makes me feel good that someone with the philosophical chops of Madsen seems so squarely in the spirit birth camp.

  4. 4 Matt A May 13, 2009 at 8:52 pm

    I, too, am enjoying your summaries. I think there is great value in making a connection between heavenly and earthly relationships.

    The more time I spend working with children, the more I see echoes of how my Heavenly Father works with me. I am slowly beginning to understand what my role in our relationship is, and ought to be, as His child. The more I understand this, and really feel it on an emotional level, the closer I feel to Him, and the happier I am.

    Thank you for taking the time to write all this stuff up! 🙂

  5. 5 Eric Nielson May 14, 2009 at 7:15 am

    It seems like everybody named Matt likes these.

    I agree that there are a lot of important insights associated with this.

  6. 6 Ellen F January 31, 2010 at 4:00 pm

    I have just recently even learned of Eternal Man, by Madsen, and I hope to read it soon. I am sure it will be very helpful to have an overview beforehand. Thank you.

  1. 1 Reviewing ‘Eternal Man’ Part 2 – Identity or Nothing « Small and Simple Trackback on August 6, 2009 at 10:23 pm

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