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Mortal Ministry of the Savior ...

After perusing The Mortal Ministry of the Savior as Understood by the Book of Mormon Prophets by Richard D. Draper at the suggestion of a reader here (going by the name of 'alma'), I feel impressed to say something about it.

Apologies to Richard Draper, but I don't think I've ever read a piece of work which denied or contradicted so many principles of the restored gospel in one fell swoop as this. Eternal Progression and any understanding of mans destiny seems to have been thrown out the window by Draper, who seems to have unclear goals in his essay. The absurd claim that Jesus "was neither man nor human but ever God" and that "He was different from all his mortal kin in that he was never man, and he was never human." introduces an ontological gap that elevates Jesus either above God himself, or casts him as some sort of a mule. I can't quite figure out which it is.

In attempting to harmonize what Draper seemed to consider obscure or easily misunderstood passages in the Book of Mormon, he appears to have spun an entirely new theology distant from anything present in Mormonism past or present, whether "orthodox" or not. This never becomes more clear than in his concluding paragraph:

The Book of Mormon witnesses that we worship a God who can be touched with both our strivings and failures, for he was indeed tried, tempted, and in this way filled with mercy and compassion. Though he was neither man nor human but ever God, he knew mortality and loved mortals, perfectly understanding them because of his experience.

Father in Heaven seems to have been forgotten in this scenario, and we have something left very similar to what one might find in a Protestant sermon. In contrast to this, I worship and serve God - meaning Heavenly Father. Anything short of this seems to be asking for trouble. Draper might try reading some of the amazingly clear passages in the Book of Mormon, instead of spinning theology from only the most obscure passages.

Do you agree? Disagree? Did you read the article in a different way than I did?


The Husband said...

I started reading the article when it was linked, and couldn't keep my interest up after the first few misconceptions I came across. In short, I agree with your opinions given here.

LDS Patriot said...

Cool blog; keep up the good work.

Tamster said...

My perception is that Draper is not endeavoring to diminish the worship of our "Eternal Father (Elohim)" but give some clarity to the Savior's character and divine, ETERNAL mission. Meaning, the Savior's mortal ministry was the crux of his eternal ministry and he was GOD while taking on the mortal experience. I don't believe his focus on the Savior in his treatise takes away at all from the preeminence of our Heavenly Father.
According to a Webster's Dictionary definition of the words "human" and "man", Draper, in my view, is correct in stating that Christ was neither "man nor human". I don't understand how this statement would contradict with Mormon theology, although the disclaimer at the top shows that the LDS Church neither endorses nor rejects what Draper has written to be theology.

Jeff said...

Tamster, first to clear up some linguistics: "Elohim" is a Hebrew word meaning "Gods" (plural), not a personal name of any sort (it is used also to refer to humans and "angels" in the scriptures), and Joseph Smith indicated that this should have been translated as such (Gods) all the way through.

But more to the point, the problem with Draper's article wasn't diminishing worship of Heavenly Father, it was that he claimed that Jesus never was man, when it is a prominent Mormon doctrine that "As man is God once was, and as God is man may become." In other words, God was once a mortal man, and that man (meaning human beings, you and I) can progress to become Gods and Godesses some day. If Jesus was never man (Draper's position), but Heavenly Father was, then that makes Jesus an entirely unique species apart from ourselves and our Heavenly Father. Our Heavenly Father is an exalted man who sits enthroned in yonder heaven. Jesus also was a man, and whether or not he is yet exalted is up for debate. I personally believe he has progressed to a Terrestrial Glory and will receive a Celestial Glory only when he fathers his own earth.