What's Beck going to say when Romney loses? The devil interceded? There is no accountability when it comes to religion.
I listened to an interesting podcast yesterday from To the Best of Our Knowledge on the Mormon faith. The interview was with Matthew Bowman, a Mormon who teaches American religious history at Hampden-Sydney College. Here is a partial transcript. Listen or read the rest here.
Matthew Bowman: Most centrally, I think, Mormans believe that while Jesus Christ was on the earth in the New Testament period, he gave his apostles priesthood authority to perform ordinances, like baptism or the Lord's Supper, things like that. It was this priesthood authority, Mormons teach, which was lost at some point after the death of those first 12 apostles and which needed to be restored. Along with this, many Mormons will say there were certain doctrines that were important for properly understanding Christianity that were lost as well.
Fleming: What kind of thing?
Bowman: Things about the nature of God, for instance. Mormons believe that God is a man, God has a body, a physical body like that that Jesus Christ has. And that human beings are of the same kind, the same species that God himself is, that our spirits, our souls, are literally the children of God. It's God's work, God's task, to help human beings progress to attain the same sort of divine relationship that God has with the other members of the trinity. Fleming: So in a sense you are searching for God within yourself? Bowman: Yeah, that we all have kind of a seed of divinity within us and it's our task here on earth to discover that, to cultivate those virtues that will allow us to better understand who God the father is.
Fleming: Now how is that different from regular Christians? Don't they also believe that God is within?
Bowman: You know, the real difference is whether or not God the father is of a similar type that the creation is, that the world, the universe is. And the creeds of Christianity proclaim that God is separate. God is outside of this creation. This creation is fallen, this creation is ruined, and God has to save it. The scandal of Mormonism is that Mormons close that gap. Mormons say no, God is like us, God is more like us than he is different. And that for many Christians really strikes at the foundations of what Christianity is all about, which is that God being God is the only one with the capacity to save us, we cannot save ourselves. Fleming: It sounds a little like hubris, doesn't it? Bowman: It does, yes. Fleming: Joseph Smith is kind of a mystery figure to a lot of Americans I think. His name is known as the founder of the Latter Day Saint movement but not a whole lot more about that. Maybe we know that he had visions and for a lot of people that, forgive me, makes him sound a little wacko.
Bowman: Oh yeah, certainly, and I think there's so much other stuff that's scandalous about Joseph Smith, that he was a visionary, he claimed to see God, of course polygamy eventually becomes a scandal as well. He is a person like this. He is a larger than life figure, someone who really claims far and away more than what anybody around him was claiming. I think it's probably appropriate historically to put him in a camp with people like Joan of Arc, or like Mohammed, these great kind of visionary figures who were scandalous in their times and remain so today. Fleming: Can you tell me, quickly, the story of the visions, his meeting with the angel and his discovery of the golden plates? Bowman: Mormans generally begin this in his teenage years, we're not sure exactly the year, but it was most likely in 1820 when he was 14, 15 years old. Joseph Smith was confused about what religion he should join. His mother had recently joined the Presbyterians, but his faher was standing further back from that, and Joseph Smith prayed about this. He went into the grove of trees behind his house and later said that he saw God, that God and Jesus Christ perhaps, appeared to him and told him that the true gospel of Jesus Christ was no longer on the earth. A few years later he encountered an angel. The angel told Joseph Smith that he would bring forth a new work of scripture that would restore the original gospel of Jesus Christ to the earth, and he led Joseph Smith to these golden plates which were buried in the earth on a hill near Joseph's house.