Scripture Roundtable 7: D&C Gospel Doctrine #3

(Originally published on 28 December 2012.)

This is the seventh Scripture Roundtable from The Interpreter Foundation, in which we discuss Doctrine & Covenants Gospel Doctrine Lesson #3 (First Vision), bringing in various insights to help us better understand these scriptures. We apologize that the recording picked up after we had already begun. These roundtables will generally follow the 2013 Gospel Doctrine schedule of scriptures, a few weeks ahead of time.

Panelists for this roundtable include Brant Gardner, William Hamblin, Craig Foster, and Martin Tanner.

This roundtable is also available as an audio podcast, and will be included in the podcast feed. You can listen by pressing the play button or download the podcast below:


2 thoughts on “Scripture Roundtable 7: D&C Gospel Doctrine #3

  1. I was recently listening to the podcast of the round table discussion on the D&C #3. About the 11 minute mark, I believe William Hamblin made a couple of very interesting points about creeds and the corruption of those that profess the creeds. He mentioned there were two possibilities about why the creeds were declared to be abominable:

    1. The process of creed making was abominable
    2. The creeds contain incorrect teachings.

    I wanted to suggest a third possibility, namely that the creeds leave out critical and relevant teachings.

    For example, if one were to list each statement in the Apostles Creed or the 325 Nicean Creed or the 381 update of the Nicean (which is much closer to what many Christian Churches use), there are very few statements taken on their own that a faithful Latter-day Saint would disagree with. There are two statements in the 381 Creed that require interpretation. One is the belief in the Holy Catholic Church. Christian denominations that use this creed (and most do) have to interpret this to ensure their denomination is included.

    The other is the statement that the Son is of the same “substance” as the Father. The Greek word used used to be translated into English by Catholics as “Being,” but the Roman Catholic Church recently has adopted the Coptic translation “Consubstantial with the Father.” The Eastern Orthodox churches translate the word as “Essence.” Most mainline Protestant churches use “Substance.”

    The original word comes from Tertullian in about 200 AD when he created the concept of the Trinity in a treatise against Modalism (the idea that there is one Divine Being putting on masks to perform different roles). He argued that the Father and Son were separate persons, but of the same substance. He used a lot of the same scriptural arguments to denounce Modalism and support a Trinity of Gods, that Latter-day Saint use to denounce current Trinitarian conceptualizations of God.

    He gave three examples to illustrate his point:

    Father = Tree Trunk
    Son = Branch
    Substance = Wood

    Father = Fountain
    Son = River
    Substance = Water

    Father = the Sun
    Son = Sunbeam
    Substance = Sunlight

    For Tertullian, separate persons–one, coming from the other, but while a different person both are of the same material substance.

    Latter-day Saints believe that the Father and the Son have the same substance in the Tertullian sense. Both have perfected, resurrected bodies. Note, that nothing in the creed says anything about the Holy Ghost being of the same substance. Thus, I think Latter-day Saints could accept even that statement, if it is interpreted as a description of divine tangible perfected resurrected glorified bodies.

    The problem with the creeds, in my opinion, isn’t what they say. It is what they leave out. They say nothing about where we came from, why we are here, and where we are going. They say nothing about why we need to follow Jesus. They say nothing about why God gave commandments and why we should live them. They say nothing about establishing and living up to covenants. They are limited in what they say about the Atonement and in particular how the Atonement provides the means for us to progress in this life and in the eternities. They say nothing about the ordinances we are required to perform as part of following Christ. They say nothing about subjecting our wills to the will of God. They say nothing about developing faith and how that leads to a Christ-like love and service to others.

    If I am allowed to interpret a couple of specific statements in the creeds (as all Christian churches do), then I see little incorrect in them. What is wrong, in my opinion, is that most of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is ignored by the creeds and thus some concepts–often of lessor importance–are pushed to the forefront in the creeds. The creeds became a statement of defining whether an individual was inside or outside the circle of the followers of Christ, but what they stress is off the mark.

    Just throwing that opinion out and I would be interested in whether anybody at Interpreter sees it similarly or differently.

    • I don’t want to just pile on my original comment, but the instructor in the High Priest Group made a comment that I thought summarized my original post very well. In response to a comment from a member of the group, he said “This is a Gospel of improving and not one of stagnation.” The Christian creeds say nothing about how the children of God improve and if one follows the creeds as written, the result is stagnation.

      I also do not believe there will be a question on our “final exam” about whether we believe in Modalism, Trinitarianism, LDS “social Trinitarianism”, polytheism, or deism. I think the final test will all be one how we grew and improved in our reliance on the Savior and our love for God and our fellow human beings.

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