In one week my presentation will be over, and perhaps I will be able to think about something else. That might be nice. In a recent thread at BCC, J. Stapley apparently felt the need to argue my presentation before it is even given. This is probably no big deal since we have been over this stuff often, and I am sure that I will not be presenting anything that will be a big surprise to anybody. In the comments to this thread I stated that Dr. David Paulsen and I seemed to be on the same page with much of this topic. Matt W. said that he read the same section of ‘Mormonism in Dialogue with Contemporary Christian Theologies‘ and did not come away with the same impression. I am pleased to pass along what I feel are the relevant statements from this section of the book.
On page 525 Paulsen begins speaking of deification, and he states:
Latter-day Saint tradition holds that there exists no ontological barrier preventing mankind from becoming all that God is and enjoying the same kind of life that God lives, and I have been puzzled by scholarly claims to the contrary
This is a foundational motive for me maintaining the idea of spirit birth – maintaining no ontological barrier. Incidently the reference of his puzzlement is to ‘How Wide the Divide?’, which made me laugh and got three exclamation points and two underlines.
Then on page 526 Paulsen is reviewing some of the King Follet Discourse, and then provides:
In short, God’s purpose is to help man realize his divine potential, and until recently LDS thought has recognized no limits upon this potential. …the question for open theism is what to do with the overwhelming biblical evidence that humans are the offspring o God, not creatures merely.
Scriptures that are cited are – Acts 17:28-29, Deut. 14:1, Ps 82:6, Hosea 1:10, Mal. 2:10, Eccl. 12:7, Rom. 8:16, Eph. 4:6, and Heb. 12:9.
Then there is a section titled ‘God and Gender’ which starts on page 532. Paulsen begins by addressing two specific questions, ‘Do Latter-day Saints speak of goddesses?’ and ‘Is there procreation [with god’s and goddesses]? Paulsen answers, ‘To both of these questions, LDS theology answers yes’. He then gives some background and quotes the hymn ‘O My Father’ at length. He then quotes from the ‘Origin of Man’ and ‘The Family: A Proclamation to the World’. (He sounds a little like me, huh?)
Then he wraps up this section on page 536 with quite a paragraph that I will quote at length:
While the Latter-day Saints admittedly do not often speak of ‘gods and goddesses’ in their Church meetings, this idea does occupy a central place in LDS theology as well as in temple ceremonies – of which eternal marriage is one. And as noted before, the ability to enjoy an ‘eternal increase’ is one of the main characteristics by virtue of which God is considered to be divine. Hence the LDS notion of deification holds that this divine, procreative power can be communicated to those who qualify for exaltation in the Celestial Kingdom. Thus it is clear that deification requires both the male and female genders, and that both are considered ‘gods’ and ‘goddesses’ respectively, and the doctrine of the eternality of families and the ability to exercise procreative powers beyond the grave are cherished by the Latter-day Saints.
Now, in fairness, Paulsen admits in his second response, that we do not know all of the details associated with what I might call ‘bodily functions’ of resurrected beings. Perhaps they do not need to use the toilet for example. But even if the procreative process is different for resurrected beings than it is for mortal beings, does not mean that it does not take place.