In this video I refute all arguments in support of tithing (mandatory giving of 10% of monetary income), to include the prosperity preachers’ latest scam that Jesus is the High Priest receiving our tithes just as Melchizadek/Melchizedek received tithes from Abram.
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Seventh-Day Adventism (SDA) arose from the aftermath of the Adventist movement of the mid-1800s. “Seventh-day” refers to the focus on sabbath, or Saturday worship. “Adventist” refers to the SDA belief that they are the fulfillment of prophecies pertaining to the latter days remnant and the coming of Christ. The world was predicted to end in 1844 with the Second Coming of Christ, by William Miller, a New England Baptist itinerant preacher. Miller’s followers condemned all the churches of the day as apostate and “Babylon,” and warned Christians to come out of them. A great many did, and the “adventist” movement was born and grew rapidly (Melton, J. Gordon, Encyclopedia of American Religions, Vol. 2, pp. 21–22).
Christ did not appear in 1844. After this “Great Disappointment,” one “little flock” still insisted the date of their original predictions had been correct. They decided the event marked by 1844 was not the Second Coming, but the entrance of Christ into the Holy of Holies in the Heavenly Sanctuary. There, they said, He began the “Investigative Judgment.” (See #6 below.) This doctrine was received and endorsed by Ellen G. White (Ibid., p. 680).
From 1844 to 1851, the group taught the “shut door” doctrine, based on Jesus’ parable of the ten virgins. Anyone who had not accepted the Adventist message by the time Jesus entered the Holy of Holies was to be shut out permanently, as were the five foolish virgins. Cut off from the Bridegroom, they could not join the Adventists or have any hope of eternal life. Ellen White not only approved and taught this doctrine, but her first vision experience (she claimed over 2,000 visions) was largely responsible for its being received by the Adventist group (Brinsmead, Robert, D., Judged by the Gospel: A Review of Adventism, pp. 130–133).
By 1846, the group had adopted the Seventh-Day Baptists’ view that the Saturday Sabbath must be observed by Christians. A highly elevated form of this doctrine, together with the doctrine of the Investigative Judgment, became the hallmarks of Seventh-Day Adventism. In 1850, James and Ellen White began publishing a magazine, The Review & Herald, to disseminate Adventist and Sabbatarian doctrines. This helped many of the remaining “Millerites” to coalesce into a distinctive body, which adopted the name of Seventh-Day Adventist Church in 1860, and formally incorporated in 1863, with approximately 3,500 members in 125 congregations (Encyclopedia of American Religion, Vol. 2, p. 681).
Ellen G. White (1827-1915) never held official title as the head of the SDA church, but was one of its founders and acknowledged spiritual leader. She rather disingenuously declined to claim the title of “prophet,” calling herself a “messenger” instead (P.G. Damsteegt, et al., Seventh-day Adventists Believe … A Biblical Exposition of 27 Fundamental Doctrines, 1988, p. 224). But she claimed to have the “spirit of prophecy,” and that her messages were direct from God for the guidance and instruction of the church. With her knowledge and consent, others called her a prophet and an inspired commentator of Scripture1, and even “the Spirit of Prophecy” (Maurice Barnett, Ellen G. White & Inspiration, pp. 5–17). Having only a third grade education, Ellen White said for years she was unable to read, bolstering the claim that her beautiful prose was inspired by God. However, it has been discovered that she not only read, but plagiarized other Christian authors throughout virtually all her writings. The sad facts of this matter have been thoroughly and indisputably established in several books. (e.g., see Walter Rea, The White Lie; and Judged by the Gospel, pp. 361–383).
As of year-end 1999, the SDA church claimed more than 10.9 million members worldwide in 46,700 churches; there are more than 900,000 Adventists in the U.S. and Canada (making the SDA one of the fastest growing “churches” in the world — membership up over 10% in 1999). While headquartered in Washington, D.C., SDA employment worldwide totals nearly 166,000, not including 13,815 ordained ministers. (Contributions in 1999 totaled $1.6 billion.) SDAs claim to be working in 725 languages and over 1,000 dialects. They have a large investment in publishing and education — they operate 56 publishing houses and support 549 medical units (696 including 117 nursing homes and retirement centers and 30 orphanages); and 5,846 primary and secondary schools, colleges, and universities (with total enrollment of over a million students). They also broadcast over Adventist World Radio more than 1,000 hours per week of programming in more than 40 languages from 18 transmitters in seven international locations, and have almost 13 million students enrolled in its more than 110,000 “Sabbath Schools” (11/2001, SDA Internet web site). (The SDA church also publishes two of their own Bible “translations”: The Study Bible and The Clear Word Bible.)
SDA is organized as a representative democracy. Lower echelons elect representatives to higher units; determination and administration of policy and enforcement of doctrinal orthodoxy is imposed from the top down. President and Executive Committee of General Conference are standing chief administrative offices. Lower administrative units are the General Conference, Divisions (over continents), Union Conferences, local Conferences, and congregations.
In the late 1950s, cult expert Walter Martin, founder of the Christian Research Institute, in collaboration with neo-evangelical Donald Barnhouse, made an extensive investigation of the teachings (doctrines) of Seventh-Day Adventism. Their purpose was to determine whether to classify SDA as part of the evangelical community, or to go along with the majority of evangelicals and treat SDAs as cult members (thereby requiring evangelicals to exercise Biblical separation). (In the 1955 edition of The Kingdom of the Cults, Martin originally did classify SDA as cultic.) Martin and Barnhouse concluded that SDA was within the bounds of Christian orthodoxy. Walter Martin, in his article in the 12/19/60 Christianity Today, said: “That Adventists should be recognized as Christians and that fellowship should be extended to them we do not deny” (p. 15).
Among those adamantly opposing that conclusion was Biblical scholar Dr. John Whitcomb, Jr., then of Grace Theological Seminary. Detailed below is Whitcomb’s reasoning* for his classification of SDA as a [anti-assurance, Sabbath-keeping, Law-enslaving] cult:2
1. Source of Authority. Ellen G. White claimed to be, “a lesser light to lead men and women to the greater light.” The official SDA Questions on Doctrine (Q.D.) states that, “the Holy Spirit opened to her mind important events and called her to give certain instructions for these last days, and inasmuch as these instructions, in our understanding, are in harmony with the Word of God, which Word alone is able to make us wise unto salvation, we as a denomination accept them as inspired counsels from the Lord” (Q.D., p. 93). (Emphasis added.) Mrs. White claimed to have received more than 3,000 “inspired counsels from the Lord” (i.e., visions) between 1844 and 1868. (From these “visions,” she produced over 100,000 handwritten manuscript pages from which were published 54 books!) Therefore, SDAs have a new source of authority in their lives — according to SDA’s dogma, if an SDA does not accept Mrs. White as infallible, they have no salvation!
2. Mankind. Seventh-Day Adventists do not believe that the whole man or any part of him is inherently “immortal” (Q.D., p. 518). SDAs believe in “soul sleep” for the saved (i.e., no conscious existence from the time of death until the resurrection), and annihilation for the wicked (i.e., the body and soul are destroyed at death rather than experiencing everlasting torment). How, then, can one get to heaven?: SDAs believe that one can have immortality only on the condition that he comes to Christ through Ellen G. White; i.e., a works program, following salvation by grace with light of revelation through Ellen G. White as the infallible guide to Holy Scripture, apart from which one cannot have immortality.3 Then, at resurrection day, the body will be re-created (necessary because of soul sleep) for all those who believe in White’s guidance and teachings (while non-SDAs will remain in “soul sleep” forever; i.e., will cease to exist [annihilated] and will not suffer everlasting torment).
3. Christ. Mrs. White: “Christ took upon His sinless nature our sinful nature … Christ took human nature and bore the infirmities and degeneracy of the race. He took our nature and its deteriorating condition” (Q.D., pp. 654-656) (cf. Jn. 14:30). According to SDA, then, Christ acquired a sinful nature! Of course, if this could have been so, there could have been no sinless sacrifice, no hope for sinners, and no Savior.
4. Atonement. “Now, while our great High Priest is making the atonement for us, we should seek to become perfect in Christ” (E.G. White, The Great Controversy [TGC], 1911, p. 623; TGC has since been retitled and published as America in Prophecy, 1988). SDA teaches that, though saved by grace, we are kept by the Law (i.e., “partial atonement”). Therefore, one must keep Old Testament dietary and ceremonial laws, paying particular attention to keep the Saturday Sabbath and the Ten Commandments, and most importantly, making sure to faithfully pay the tithe.
Even when speaking of being saved by the righteousness of Christ, Adventist writers refer to imparted righteousness, seldom to the Biblical concept of imputed righteousness. Calling it “Christ’s righteousness,” while insisting on the believer’s perfection of character as a prerequisite to salvation, is at worst a thinly veiled works salvation, or at best an attempt to mix grace and works, something the Bible says is impossible to do (Rom. 11:6). Mrs. White’s words are crystal clear — one will not be forgiven until all sins are eradicated from one’s life and one’s character is perfected. Precisely the same heresy is found (besides many others) in Mormonism. It is not the salvation by grace alone through faith alone offered in the Bible.
5. Baptism. “… Christ made it clear that He required baptism of those who wished to become part of His church, His spiritual kingdom”; “In baptism believers enter into the passion experience of our Lord”; “… [B]aptism also marks [a] person’s entrance into Christ’s spiritual kingdom. … it unites the new believer to Christ.… Through baptism the Lord adds the new disciples to the body of believers — His body, the church.… Then they are members of God’s family” (SDAs Believe …, pp. 182, 184, 187).
6. The Investigative Judgment. According to SDA theology, beginning on October 22, 1844, Christ entered upon the “judgment phase” of His ministry, whereby He blots out sin: [The SDA doctrine of the “Investigative Judgment” rests on Ellen G. White’s claimed revelation that Christ entered the heavenly Holy of Holies, not at His ascension, but in 1844, wherein He then began to investigate the records of human works (TGC, pp. 362-373) (cf. Heb. 9).] “When Christ, by virtue of His own blood, removes the sins of His people from the heavenly sanctuary at the close of His ministration, He will place them upon Satan, who, in the execution of the judgment, must bear the final penalty” (TGC, p. 422). Satan, thereby, becomes the scapegoat of Leviticus 16. This lack of clear distinction between the forgiveness of sins and the blotting out of sins, makes it impossible for anyone to know, even in the hour of his death, whether he is saved or not. (SDAs are not “allowed” to experience assurance of salvation, because then there would be no pressure on them to keep the Old Testament law, as interpreted by Ellen G. White, and especially no pressure to pay the tithe.) Moreover, the concept that the sins of all men are to be laid on Satan, assigns to Satan an indispensable role in the blotting out of sin, thus nullifying the all-sufficiency of the finished work of Christ. [When Jesus said on the cross, “It is finished,” i.e. completed, paid in full, it cannot be that there is yet another salvation event more than 1,800 years later, just as essential to salvation as Christ’s death on the cross, in which one must believe in order to be saved. This is clearly “another gospel” (Gal. 1:6–9).]4
The “Investigative Judgment” and the “Scapegoat Theory of the Atonement” are, by themselves, so non-Biblical as to contradict Galatians 1:8-9. It is “another gospel,” about which the Apostle Paul wrote, “let such be anathema” (i.e., cursed/condemned). Yet according to Ellen White, one must believe this doctrine to be saved:
“Those who would share the benefits of the Savior’s mediation should permit nothing to interfere with their duty to perfect holiness in the fear of God … The subject of the sanctuary and the Investigative Judgment should be clearly understood by the people of God. All need a knowledge for themselves of the position [in the Holy of Holies] and work [Investigative Judgment] of their great High Priest. Otherwise it will be impossible for them to exercise the faith which is essential at this time or to occupy the position which God designs for them to fill. Every individual has a soul to save or to lose. Each has a case pending at the bar of God … All who have received the light on these subjects are to bear testimony of the great truths which God has committed to them. The sanctuary in heaven is the very center of Christ’s work in behalf of men … It is of the utmost importance that all should thoroughly investigate these subjects … The intercession of Christ in man’s behalf in the sanctuary above is as essential to the plan of salvation as was His death upon a cross. By His death He began that work which after his resurrection He ascended to complete in Heaven” (TGC, pp. 488–89; emphasis added).
7. The Sabbath. “In the last days, the Sabbath test will be made plain. When this time comes, anyone who does not keep the Sabbath will receive the mark of the beast and will be kept from heaven” (TGC, p. 449); “… [T]he divine institution of the Sabbath is to be restored … The delivering of this message will precipitate a conflict that will involve the whole world. The central issue will be obedience to God’s law and the observance of the Sabbath. … Those who reject it will eventually receive the mark of the beast” (TGC, pp. 262–63). In one of her most revered works, Ellen White wrote that Sabbath observance would be the “line of distinction” in the “final test” that will separate God’s end-time people who “receive the seal of God” and are saved, from those who “receive the mark of the beast” (The Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan, p. 605). Describing a supposed vision direct from God, Ellen White wrote, “I saw that the Holy Sabbath is, and will be, the separating wall between the true Israel of God and unbelievers” (Early Writings, p. 33; emphasis added). She also wrote of some Adventists failing to understand that “Sabbath … observance was of sufficient importance to draw a line between the people of God and unbelievers” (Ibid., p. 85).
SDAs have, thereby, made Sabbath-keeping a criterion for a personal relationship with the Lord — even to the extent of one’s salvation! Why? Because, according to SDAs, we are all to be under strict adherence to Old Testament Law, including the Ten Commandments, of which the fourth one says, “keep the Sabbath.” (This Sabbath-keeping requirement was supposedly confirmed in a vision received by Ellen G. White, rather than by study of the Bible.) SDAs believe that “Sunday-keeping” will be the mark of the beast in the future.
8. Ellen G. White, the Prophet. Many rank-and-file SDA members deny that their organization any longer decrees Ellen G. White a God-inspired prophet. Yet in SDA official publications, the SDA church continues to defend Ellen White legends, and maintain there was no difference in the degree of inspiration she received from that received by Bible writers (Review & Herald, 4 October 1928, p. 11; “Source of Final Appeal,” Adventist Review, 3 June 1971, pp. 4–6; G. A. Irwin, Mark of the Beast, p. 1; “The Inspiration and Authority of the Ellen G. White Writings,” Adventist Review, 15 July 1982, p. 3; Ministry, October 1981, p. 8 (5); see also, Judged by the Gospel, pp. 125–130). And in the SDA June 2000, General Conference, the church voted to more aggressively affirm and support the “Spirit of Prophecy through the ministry of Ellen White” (Adventist Today, [online: July 2000]).
* Besides relying heavily on the work of Dr. Whitcomb (1988 Syllabus notes), some of the material in this report has also been excerpted and or adapted from: “Seventh-day Adventist Church Profile,” Timothy Oliver (Watchman Fellowship Profile, 1996).
1 The Bible lists six identifying marks of false prophets, any one of which is sufficient for identification: (1) through signs and wonders they lead astray after false gods (Dt. 13:1-4); (2) their prophecies don’t come to pass (Dt. 18:20-22); (3) they contradict God’s Word (Isa. 8:20); (4) they bear bad fruit (Mt. 7:18-20); (5) men speak well of them (Lk. 6:26); and (6) they deny that Jesus, the one and only Christ, has come once and for all in the flesh (1 Jn. 4:3), thereby denying His sufficiency in all matters of life and godliness (2 Pe. 1:3). Most cults are founded upon false prophecies, which, if pointed out, offer an effective way to open blind eyes and rescue cultists. SDA originated with similar false prophesies about Christ’s coming. It began with William Miller’s prediction that Christ would return in 1843 (revised to October 22, 1844). Miller admitted his error. However, SDA prophetess Ellen G. White (EGW), who had repeatedly endorsed Miller’s prophecy, insisted that Christ had indeed come, but not to earth. Instead, He had entered “the holy of holies” in heaven “to make an atonement for all who are shown to be entitled to its benefits” (The Great Controversy, p. 480).
Number 17 of the “Fundamental Beliefs of Seventh-Day Adventists” states: “The Gift of Prophecy: One of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is prophecy. This gift is an identifying mark of the remnant church and was manifested in the ministry of Ellen G. White. As the Lord’s messenger, her writings are a continuing and authoritative source of truth which provide for the church comfort, guidance, instruction, and correction.” Yet EGW made numerous false prophecies: that “Old Jerusalem never would be built up” (Early Writings, p. 75), that she would be alive at the Rapture (Early Writings, pp. 15-16), that Christ would return before slavery was abolished (Early Writings, pp. 35, 276), that Adventists living in 1856 would be alive at the Rapture (Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 3, pp. 131-132), and many more. Nevertheless, SDAs revere this false prophet’s writings as if they were Scripture.
2 Nevertheless, SDAs are continuing their efforts to be identified as “evangelical Christians.” As an illustration of this effort, SDAs were very prominent at the annual meetings of the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS) held in San Francisco, November 19-21, 1992. They presented themselves in the printed program as the Adventist Theological Society (ATS). During the meetings, they conducted at least eight workshops/seminars open to all the members of the ETS, as well as a general meeting of their own ATS on Saturday morning, November 21st. Likewise, at the 1/97 National Religious Broadcasters Convention, the SDA’s “Voice of Prophecy” booth provided books and tapes of their programs, but there was no indication that this was an SDA organization. Christians need to be aware that cult groups like SDA often use the same Christian-sounding terminology, but the meanings of the words have been redefined.
3 Many quotes could be given to prove that EGW taught salvation by works. Here are a few:
(a) “Our acts, our words, even our most secret motives, all have their weight in deciding our destiny … though … forgotten by us, they [our works] will bear their testimony to justify or condemn” (TGC, pp. 486-490).
(b) “When any have sins remaining upon the books of record, unrepented of and unforgiven, their names will be blotted out of the book of life …” (TGC, p. 483).
(c) “Each one of you needs to … [be] working with your might to redeem the failures of your past life. God has placed you in a world of suffering to prove you, to see if you will be found worthy of the gift of eternal life” (Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 3, p. 530).
4 This teaching of the “Investigative Judgment” is the foundational doctrine and major heresy of Seventh-Day Adventism: that the atonement was not complete on the cross, but was begun in heaven in 1844 and depends upon our works. According to Ellen G. White (EGW), the blood of Christ, instead of making “an atonement for the soul” (Lv. 17:11) and “cleans[ing] us from all sin” (l Jn. 1:7), brought sin into heaven: “[O]ur sins are, in fact, transferred to the heavenly sanctuary by the blood of Christ” (Spirit of Prophecy, Vol. 4, p. 266). Thus, Christ had to begin the work of cleansing the heavenly sanctuary (of sins His blood had brought there!) through the “Investigative Judgment.” EGW declared that “Ministers who would not accept this saving message” were hindering God’s work and “The blood of souls is upon them” (Early Writings, p. 234). Millerites who adopted this delusion became Seventh-Day Adventists. The whole concept of the Investigative Judgment is antithetical to the Gospel. Jesus did not wait until 1844 to enter the Holy of Holies in heaven (Heb. 1:3; 6:19–20; 8:1; 9:6–12, 24; 12:2). Neither is He still making an atonement in heaven (Heb. 9:25–26; 10:11–14). The Investigative Judgment proposes to “vindicate the justice of God in saving those who believe in Jesus,” by showing they were “loyal,” “penitent,” and “faithful” commandment keepers. This is an outrage. God’s justice in saving sinners is vindicated by Christ’s death on the cross, period (Rom. 3:24–26).
5 The SDA Church made this statement in their Ministry magazine of October 1981, and have never retracted it — “We believe the revelation and inspiration of both the Bible and Ellen White’s writings to be of equal quality. The superintendence of the Holy Spirit was just as careful and thorough in one case as in the other” (June 1997, The Baptist Challenge). (Bold added.) This sounds like SDAs also believe that Mrs. White is inerrant.
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Did The Early Church Believe In the LDS Doctrine of God? by James White
All such expressions of the deification of man are, it must be remembered, purely relative. They express the fact that man has a nature essentially spiritual, and to that extent resembling the being of God; further, that he is able to attain a real union with God, by virtue of an affinity proceeding both from nature and from grace. Man, the Fathers might have said, is a supernatural animal. In some sense his destiny is to be absorbed into God. But they would all have repudiated with indignation any suggestion that the union of men to God added anything to the godhead. They explained the lower in terms of the higher, but did not obliterate the distinction between them. Not only is God self dependent. [sic] He has also all those positive qualities which man does not possess, the attribution of which is made by adding the negative prefix to the common attributes of humanity. In addition, in so far as humanity possesses broken lights of God, they are as far as possible from reaching the measure and perfection with which they are associated in the godhead. Real power and freedom, fullness of light, ideal and archetypal spirit, are found in Him alone. The gulf is never bridged between Creator and creature. Though in Christ human nature has been raised to the throne of God, by virtue of His divine character, yet mankind in general can only aspire to the sort of divinity which lies open to its capacity through the union with the divine humanity. Eternal life is the life of God. Men may come to share its manifestations and activities, but only by grace, never of right. Man remains a created being: God alone is agenetos [i.e., uncreated] (Prestige, pp. 74-75).
Note well what Prestige says. He asserts that the early Fathers did *not* “obliterate the distinction” between God and man (Mormonism most definitely does, teaching that God was once a man who has progressed to godhood). Prestige says that “real power and freedom” are found in God *alone*, not in the creature man. And, in as clear a denial of the concept that is presented by Mormonism (and that Evenson is attempting to substantiate) that one could find, Prestige says, “The gulf is never bridged between Creator and creature.” He closes by saying, “Man remains a created being: God alone is agenetos.” Clearly, Prestige is saying that the early Fathers did *not* teach that men could become gods *in the sense that Mormonism would like us to believe.*
Some leading ideas about the nature of God may be illustrated in a few quotations from early writers. Tatian writes (ad Gr. 4.1,2), “Our God does not have his constitution in time. He alone is without beginning; He Himself constitutes the source (“arce”) of the universe. God is spirit. He does not extend through matter, but is the author of material spirits and of the figures (“schemata”) in matter. He is invisible and in- tangible” (Prestige, p. 3).
Note that Prestige is giving what he views as *representational* views of the early Fathers. And what do we find? Do we find Mormon doctrine here? Hardly! Note the many things that are *directly* contradictory to LDS teaching. First, God is eternal, that is, he does “not have his constitution in time.” The LDS God has progressed to his current position–obviously, then, he undergoes a progression of time. Tatian states that God is without beginning; yet Mormonism speaks of God’s once having been a man, so, obviously, he had to enter into the condition of a god at some point in time. Tatian says God is spirit. Mormonism says He is flesh. Tatian says that God is the “author” of “material spirits and of the figures in matter.” Joseph Smith taught that “God never had the power to create the spirit of man at all” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 354). Tatian says that God is invisible and intangible; Doctrine and Covenants 130:22 says just the opposite. We continue with Prestige:
Athenagoras (*suppl.* 10.1) expresses allegiance to “one God, the uncreated, eternal, invisible, impassible, incomprehensible, uncontainable, comprehended only by mind and reason, clothed in light and beauty and spirit and power indescribable, by whom the totality has come to be.”…But, in brief, this statement implies that God is transcendent and everlasting; free alike from limitations of time or space and from subjection to sense or affections; and possessed of supreme supernatural power and glory. Theophilus speaks similarly (ad Aut. 1.3) of the abstract qualities of the deity. “The form of God is ineffable…in glory He is uncontainable, in greatness incomprehensible, in height inconceivable, in might incomparable, in wisdom without peer, in goodness inimitable, in well-doing indescribable…He is without beginning because He is uncreated, and He is unchangeable because He is immortal.” And again, (ib. 2.3), “it belongs to God, the highest and almighty and the truly God, not only to be everywhere, but also to overlook all things and to hear all things, and yet, nevertheless, not to be contained in space” (Prestige, p. 3).
We again note the completely different view of God presented here than that of Mormonism. The God of the early Fathers is uncreated, eternal, invisible, impassible, incomprehensible, and uncontainable. The God of Mormonism entered into godhood at a particular point, he has not eternally been God, He is not invisible (in the sense the Fathers meant the term), he is certainly not impassible, incomprehensible, or uncontainable; many LDS *mock* these very aspects of the Christian doctrine of God.
But Prestige did not stop there. He continued on:
His absolute independence is a corollary to His absolute goodness and wisdom, as well as to His absolute capacity to create. Thus the emphasis…on God being uncreated (agennetos) implies that He is the sole originator of all things that are, the source and ground of existence ; and the conception is taken as a positive criterion of deity. The insistence that God is uncontained spatially (acoretos) conveys a very necessary warning against Stoic pantheism. Though the created universe contributes an implicit revelation of God through His works, it is by no means a complete or perfect revelation of His being; He is infinitely greater than His creation. Thus Justin claims (dial. 127.2) that God is uncontained either in one place or in the whole universe, since He existed before the universe came into being (Prestige, pp. 4-5). That all of this is directly contradictory to the LDS doctrine of a finite, limited God who has a physical body of flesh and bone (D&C 130:22) and who was once a man is too obvious to require further comment. The early Fathers did *not* believe in the God of Mormonism in any way, shape, or form.
One of the greatest patristic scholars, J. N. D. Kelly, has written,
The classical creeds of Christendom opened with a declaration of belief in one God, maker of heaven and earth. The mono- theistic idea, grounded in the religion of Israel, loomed large in the minds of the earliest fathers; though not re flective theologians, they were fully conscious that it marked the dividing line between the Church and paganism. According to Hermas, the first commandment is to `believe that God is one, Who created and established all things, bringing them into existence out of non-existence’. It was He Who `by His invisible and mighty power and great wisdom created the universe, and by His glorious purpose clothed His creation with comeliness, and by His strong word fixed the heavens and founded the earth above the waters’. For Clement God is `the Father and creator of the entire cosmos’ and for `Barnabas’ and the “Didache” `our maker’. His omnipotence and universal sovereignty were acknowledged, for He was `the Lord almighty’, `the Lord Who governs the whole universe’, and `the master of all things’. The reader should notice that at this period the title `almighty’ connoted God’s all-pervading control and sovereignty over reality, just as `Father’ referred primarily to His role as creator and author of all things (J.N.D. Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines, p. 83).
But, so that no one thinks that we are simply citing authors who agree with us, below you will find a number of citations from early Christian sources on this very issue. The combined testimony of these Fathers is inarguable:
Ignatius to the Magnesians, (A.D. 110), 8:1
For that reason they were persecuted, inspired as they were by His grace to convince the disobedient that there is one God, who manifested Himself through His Son, Jesus Christ, who is His Word proceeding from silence, and who was in all respects pleasing to Him that sent Him.
Aristides of Athens, Apology (A.D. 140), 1
I call the One who constructed all things and maintains them God: He that is without beginning and eternal, immortal and lacking nothing, and who is above all passion and failings such as anger and forgetfulness and ignorance and the rest.
Aristides of Athens, Apology (A.D. 140), 4
Let us proceed, then, O King, to the elements themselves, so that we may demonstrate concerning them that they are not gods, but corruptible and changeable things, produced out of the non-existent by Him that is truly God, who is incorruptible and unchangeable and invisible, but who sees all things and changes them and alters them as He wills.
Justin, Dialogue with Trypho the Jew (A.D. 155), 5
For whatever things exist after God or will at anytime exist, have a corruptible nature, and are such as may be blotted out and no longer exist. God alone is unbegotten and incorruptible, which is why He is God. Everything else after Him is produced and corruptible.
Tatian, Address to the Greeks (A.D. 165), 4
Our God has no introduction in time. He alone is without beginning, and is Himself the beginning of all things. God is a spirit, not attending upon matter, but the Maker of material spirits and of the appearances which are in matter. He is invisible and untouchable, being Himself the Father of both sensible and invisible things. This we know by the evidence of what He has created; and we perceive His invisible power by His works.
Matter is not without a beginning, like God; nor is it of equal power with God, through being without a beginning. It is begotten, and not produced by any other begotten beings; but is brought into existence by Him alone who is the Creator of all things.
Athenagoras, Supplication for the Christians, (A.D. 177), 4
Is it not unreasonable to apply the name of atheist to us, who distinguish God from matter and teach that matter is one thing and God another, and that there is a great difference between them, the Deity being unbegotten and eternal, able to be known by reason and understanding alone, while matter is produced and perishable?
Athenagoras, Supplication for the Christians (A.D. 177), 10
I have sufficiently demonstrated that we are not atheists, since we acknowledge one God, unbegotten, eternal, invisible, incapable of being acted upon, incomprehensible, unbounded….
Irenaeus Against Heresies, (A.D. 190) 1:10:1
For the Church, although dispersed throughout the whole world even to the ends of the earth, has received from the Apostles and from their disciples the faith in one God, Father almighty, the Creator of heaven and earth and sea and all that is in them….
We hold, however, the rule of truth, according to which there is one almighty God, who formed all things through His Word, and fashioned and made all things which exist out of that which did not exist….
Nor is He moved by anyone; rather, freely and by His Word He made all things. For He alone is God, He alone is Lord, He alone is Creator, He alone is Father, He alone contains all and commands all to exist.
It is easy to demonstrate from the very words of the Lord that He acknowledges one Father, Creator of the world and Fashioner of man, who was proclaimed by the Law and by the Prophets; and that He knows no other, this being God over all.
Of His own accord and by His own power He made all things and arranged and perfected them; and His will is the substance of all things. He alone, then, is found to be God; He alone is omnipotent, who made all things; He alone is Father, who founded and formed all things, visible and invisible, sensible and insensate, heavenly and earthly, by the Word of His Power.
…let them learn that to be without beginning and without end, to be truly and always the same, and to remain ever without change, belongs to God alone, who is Lord of all. All things, however, which are from Him, all that have been made and which will be made, receive each their own beginning of existence; and inasmuch as they are not unbegotten, in this way they are inferior to Him who made them. They perdure, however, and continue through a length of ages, according to the will of God their Maker; for indeed, He makes them to be in the beginning, and afterwards gives them continuance.
Tertullian, Apology (A.D. 197) 17:1
The object of our worship is the One God, who, by the Word of His command, by the Reason of His plan, and by the strength of His Power, has brought forth from nothing for the glory of His majesty this whole construction of elements, bodies and spirits; whence also the Greeks have bestowed upon the world the name KOSMOS. He is invisible, and yet He may be seen. He is intangible, and yet His presence is apparent through His grace. He is immeasurable, and yet He is measured by the human senses. He is, therefore, as real as He is great. In regard to other things, that which is able to be seen, to be touched, or to be measured is less than the eyes by which it is seen, than the hands by which it is touched, and the senses by which it is discovered. But what is truly infinite is known only to itself. Thus it is that the measure of God is taken, although He is really immeasurable. Thus it is that the force of His greatness makes Him known to men, although He is yet unknown. And this is the crowning guilt of men, that they do not want to know Him of whom they cannot be ignorant.
Tertullian, Apology (A.D. 197), 21:13
So also, that which proceeds from God is God and Son of God, and both are one. Likewise, as He is Spirit from Spirit, and God from God, He is made a second by count and in numerical sequence, but not in actual condition; for He comes forth from the source but does not separate therefrom.
Tertullian, The Demurrer Against the Heretics, 13:1
There is only one God, and none other besides Him: the Creator of the world who brought forth all things out of nothing through His Word….
Tertullian Against Hermogenes, 4:3
Whatever special property God has, it must necessarily be unique, so that it can belong to Him who is One. But what can be unique and singular except that to which nothing can be equated? What can be principal, if not that which is above all, if not that which is before all and from which all things are? It is by being the sole possessor of these qualities that He is God; and by being sole possessor, that He is One.
Tertullian Against Marcion, 1:3:1
Christian truth, however, has distinctly declared, “If God be not one, He does not exist”; for we more properly believe that that which is not what it must be does not exist at all. So that you may know, however, that God must be one, ask what God is, and you will find that such is the case. In so far as a human being is able to formulate a definition of God, I formulate such a definition as the conscience of every man may acknowledge; God is the Great Supreme Being existing in eternity, unbegotten, uncreated, without beginning, and without end.
Hippolytus, Refutation of All Heresies, 10:32
The one God, the first and only, both Creator and Lord of all things, had nothing coeval with Himself, neither infinite chaos, nor immeasurable water, nor solid earth, nor dense air, nor hot fire, nor gentle breeze, nor the azure roof of the great heavens. No, he was one, to Himself alone; and when He so willed, He created those things which before had no existence other than in his willing to make them and inasmuch as he had knowledge of what would be: for he has also foreknowledge. He first created, however, the diverse elements of the things which would come into existence, fire and air, water and earth, from which various elements he then made his own creation.
Origen, De Principiis, 1, Preface, 4
First, that there is one God who created and arranged all things, and who, when nothing existed, called all things into existence;
Origen, De Principiis (A.D. 220), 1:1:6
Since our mind is in itself unable to behold God Himself as He is, it knows the Father of the universe from the beauty of His works and from the elegance of His creatures. God, therefore, is not to be thought of as being either a body or as existing in a body, but as a simple intellectual Being, admitting within Himself no addition of any kind. Thus, He cannot be believed to have within Himself something greater and something lesser. Rather, He is in every part “monas” and, so to speak, “henas.” He is the mind and source from which every intellectual being or mind takes its beginning.
Origen, Ad Celsus, 1:23
How much more effective it is–and how better than all those invented explanations! –that when we are convinced by what we see in the excellent orderliness of the world, we then worship its Maker as the one Author of one effect, which, since it is entirely in harmony with itself, cannot, therefore, have been the work of many makers.
Novatian, The Trinity, (A.D. 235) 31
God the Father, founder and creator of all things, who alone knows no beginning, who is invisible, immeasurable, immortal, and eternal, is one God. Neither His greatness nor His majesty nor His power can possibly be–I should not say exceeded, for they cannot even be equaled.
Cyril, Catechetical Lectures, (A.D. 350), 6:11
Whence came the polytheistic error of the Greeks? God has no body: whence, then, the adulteries alleged among those whom the Greeks call gods?
Hilary, Commentaries on the Psalms, on Psalm 129, 3
First it must be remembered that God is incorporeal. He does not consist of certain parts and distinct members, making up one body. For we read in the Gospel that god is spirit: invisible, therefore, and an eternal nature, immeasurable and self-sufficient. It is also written that a spirit does not have flesh and bones. For of these the members of a body consist, and of these the substance of God has no need. God, however, who is everywhere and in all things, is all-hearing, all-seeing, all- doing, and all-assisting.
Didymus, The Holy Spirit (A.D. 375), 35
God is simple and of an incomposite and spiritual nature, having neither ears nor organs of speech. A solitary essence and illimitable, He is composed of no members and parts.
Ephiphanius, Against All Heresies, 70:5
Reject also the opinion of those who say the body is in the image of God. For how were it possible for the visible to be close to the invisible? How the corporeal to the incorporeal? How the tangible to the illimitable?
Chrysostom, Against the Anomoians, 4:3
For God is simple and non-composite and without shape….When, therefore, you hear that “no one has ever seen God,” consider it the same as hearing that no one can know God in an utterly perfect manner, as to His essence.
Cyril, Commentary on Psalm 11, 3
When the divine Scripture presents sayings about God and remarks on corporeal parts, do not let the mind of those hearing it harbor thoughts of tangible things, but from those tangible things as if from things said figuratively let it ascend to the beauty of things intellectual, and rather than figures and quantity and circumscription and shapes and everything else that pertains to bodies, let it think on God, although He is above all understanding. We were speaking of Him in a human way; for there was no other way in which we could think about the things that are above us.
Lactantius, The Divine Institutions, (A.D. 300), 2:8:8
But God Himself makes His own material, because He is able. To be able is a quality of God; and, were He not able, neither would He be God. Man makes things out of what already exists, because he is weak as a consequence of being mortal; and because of his weakness, he is of limited and moderate power. God, however, makes things from what does not exist, because He is strong on account of His eternity; and because of His strength, His power is immeasurable, having neither end nor limitation, like the life itself of the Maker.
Cyril, Catechetical Lectures, (A.D. 350), 4:4-5
First let there be laid as a foundation in your soul the doctrine concerning God: that there is one God alone, unbegotten, without beginning, unchangeable and immovable; neither begotten of another nor having another to succeed to His life; who neither began to live in time nor will ever cease to be; and that He is good and just….The Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is not circumscribed in any place, nor is He less than the heavens….He knows beforehand the things that shall be, and is mightier than all. He knows all, and does as He will. He is not subject to the consequences of events, neither to astrological geniture, nor to chance, nor to fate. He is in all things perfect, and possesses equally every absolute of virtue, neither diminishing nor decreasing, but remains ever the same and unchanging.
Hilary, The Trinity, (A.D. 356), 2:6
The Father is He to whom all that exists owes its origin. He is in Christ; and through Christ He is the source of all things. Moreover, His existence is existence in itself, and He does not derive His existence from anywhere else. Rather, from Himself and in Himself He possesses the actuality of His being. He is infinite because He Himself is not contained in something else, and all else is within Him. He is always beyond location, because He is not contained; always before the ages, because time comes from Him….God, however, is present everywhere; and everywhere He is totally present. Thus, He transcends the realm of understanding. Outside of Him there is nothing, and it is eternally His characteristic that He shall always exist. This is the truth of the mystery of God, of the impenetrable nature which this name Father expresses. God is invisible, unutterable, and infinite.
Gregory of Nazianus, Second Oration on Easter (A.D. 383), 45:3
God always way, and is, and will be: or better, He always is. Was and will be are portions of time as we reckon it, and are of a changing nature. He, however, is ever existing; and that is how He names Himself in treating with Moses on the mountain. He gathers in Himself the whole of being, because He has neither beginning nor will He have an end. He is like some great sea of Being, limitless and unbounded, transcending every conception of time and nature.
Gregory of Nyssa, Against Eunomius, (A.D. 383), Jaeger, 2:163
We judge it proper, therefore, to believe that that alone is truly divine whose existence is found to be eternal and infinite, and in whom all that is contemplated is ever the same, neither increasing nor diminishing.
Augustine, Sermons, (A.D. 391-430), 7:7
Being is a name of unchangeableness. For everything that is changed ceases to be what it was and begins to be what it was not. Being is. True being, pure being, genuine being is had only by Him who does not change.
Augustine, The True Religion, 25:46
The first decision to be made is whether we should prefer to believe those who call us to the worship of many gods, or those who call us to the one God. Who can doubt that it is preferable to follow those who call us to one, especially when those worshipers of many agree that this one God is the ruler of all others? And certainly, rank begins at one. Those, therefore, are to be followed first who say that there is only one supreme God, the true God, who alone is to be worshipped. If truth does not shine forth from them, then a change is to be made.
John of Damascus, The Source of Knowledge, 3:1:5
The Divinity is perfect and without defect in His goodness, in His wisdom, in His power, without beginning, without end, eternal, infinite, and to put it simply, perfect in every respect. If we were to speak of many gods it would be necessary to recognize a difference among the many. But if there is no difference among them, there is but one and not many. And if there were a difference among them, where then were their perfection?
[We believe] in one Father, the beginning and cause of all things, begotten of no one, but uncaused and unbegotten, alone subsisting; Creator of all things, but Father by nature of One only, His Only- begotten Son and our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ…There never was a time when the Father was and the Son was not; but always Father, always Son, who is begotten of Him; for one cannot be called father apart from a son.
It seems that the most authoritative of all the names spoken of God is “WHO IS,” as He did Himself say on the mountain in answer to Moses….For, since He holds all existence in Himself, He is like a sea of being, boundless and infinite.
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