Challenge: Your God Is Depressing

Posted: July 24, 2012 by Amy Hall in Choosing My Religion, Weekly Challenge

For the final Mormon challenge this month, here’s an objection I’ve heard many times from missionaries:

Your image of God as being a different kind of being from us is so depressing! How can you ever hope to become like Him if you’re not literally His child?

This one may sound strange to you because there are a few Mormon ideas behind this challenge, and you may not be aware of all of them. What kind of questions would you ask your Mormon friend to draw out the differences between your beliefs and explain your answer? Why does our view of God’s nature give us joy, whereas the same view would give your Mormon friend hopelessness? The answer to this question goes to the heart of the difference between our gospels.

This week, Rob Sivulka of Courageous Christians United will join Brett to talk about the answer to this challenge. And the Ambassador’s Guide to Mormonism is now shipping, so be sure to check it out!

  1. Albert says:

    I would first ask them, “What do they mean by depressing?”
    And then I would ask what they mean by “become like Him?”
    And, “What is your understanding of us being his child?”

    I think this will open up plenty to discuss that will show us different in thinking. The fact that Mormons believe they too are or will be gods makes a big difference in how we believe.

    Philippians 2:5-7(NIV)
    In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature[b] of a servant, being made in human likeness.

    When Paul explained to us to be like Jesus, he wasn’t speaking of Jesus and his Godly attributes but be someone who was divine, having the greatest of honor, yet who did not cling to his rights and privileges.

    If Jesus being the Son of God didn’t consider himself equal with God, then who are we, merely adopted children, think we are to place ourselves to high?

  2. This challenge is a bit more tricky because it has a lot more to do with Mormon theology. According to the Mormons, God is only one of many gods who exist in multiple universes. God and his wife procreated all humans as spirit children first, and then had them reborn on earth.

    As always, I’d start this challenge with the Columbo questions and try to pry out what’s really underpinning the question in this Mormon’s mind. Why exactly does he think our idea of God is “depressing.”

    After figuring this out, I’d ask something like, “Have you considered that even if you think my view of God is depressing that says nothing about whether or not it is true? Even if you like the Mormon view of God better, you need reasons for why you ought to think it is true.”

    From a purely philosophical standpoint, there are a great many problems with the Mormon view of God. For starters the Mormons believe in an infinite past of infinite universes in which an infinite number of gods have procreated their own spirit children, producing our God and our universe. However, as has been pointed out by the Kalam Cosmological argument, the idea of an infinite past is actually impossible. An actually infinite number of things cannot exist in the real world, and if the past is in fact infinite we would never reach where we are now.

    Furthermore, God as the Mormons describe him cannot actually be God. There cannot be a multitude of infinitely great beings. In order for two or more infinitely great beings to exist, they would have to lack qualities that others had and thus none of them would be infinitely great. These among other reasons show that the Mormon view of God is logically unsound.

    I don’t actually believe our view of God is depressing. We are God’s children, not in the biological sense, but as followers of Christ. He loved us so much, that he was willing to make the sacrifice on the cross for us. Why on earth would anyone find this view of God depressing?

    We actually have good reasons to think that Christianity is true. If a Mormon has reasons for thinking that his view of God is true, despite the fact that it is logically incoherent, I would love to hear what those reasons are.

  3. Amy Hall says:

    Great questions, guys.

    Here’s what I think it comes down to: A God who is beyond us in every way is good news to those who are depending on Him for perfect salvation, but bad news to those who are depending on their own works to perfect themselves. If He wasn’t once a man who became God by His works, then they cannot become like Him through their works. They have to lower God in this sense to make His position attainable. But we have nothing but praise for a Being who is, and always has been, beyond us in His greatness–who is in a different category (Creator) from us (creatures). In fact, we’re depending on His greatness to save us. I don’t think I would have the same confidence in an exalted man who may or may not have been a sinner at one time, who became a god.

    This is why our two reactions are so different. If this ever comes up, it’s a perfect segue into a discussion about your complete dependence on God for salvation (what they would call “eternal life” or “exaltation”) vs. their dependence on works. I will never be a god, but that’s not depressing to me! I’m quite happy to enjoy and worship the one God who exists.

  4. “How can you ever hope to become like Him if you’re not literally His child?”

    Galatians 4:4-7, NLT: But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children. And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.” Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are his child, God has made you his heir.

  5. Rob Sivulka says:

    Without stating as much in the interview, being depressed that we can’t become Gods as God is God makes as much sense as being depressed that we can never become angels, Martians, dogs, eagles, computers, numbers, etc.