Of God and Gods
Blake Ostler announces his purpose as "a rescue operation to save the heart of God's revelations to the Hebrews from the Greek mind." The direct and powerful experience of the mysterious God that characterizes Hebrew religion was, he asserts, taken captive by the Greek fascination with intellectual puzzles. And the result was the complicated and unsatisfactory doctrine of the Trinity that has dominated traditional thinking ever since.
Ostler steps through the common complaint that Mormons aren't Christian because they believe, not only in three separate individuals in the Godhead, but also in the deification of human beings. He demonstrates the clear biblical understanding, both in the precursors of the Old Testament and the New, that Jesus and God the Father were not one in some incomprehensible "substance" while separate in person, but were actually distinct individuals. What made them one was their indwelling love. It is that loving unity into which they invite human beings.
A major contribution of this volume, the third in Ostler's series Exploring Mormon Thought
, is his reconstruction of the Hebrew view of a council of gods, presided over by the Most High God. In the oldest Hebrew sources, Yahweh was one of these gods. Thus, from the beginning of the Christian revelation, there was no confusion about a shared identity, although Ostler's discussion of the king/vizier relationship in the honor and shame culture of the ancient world explains how the confusion could have arisen.
In language and thought accessible to the lay reader but simultaneously rigorous and scholarly, Ostler analyzes and responds to the arguments of contemporary international theologians, reconstructs and interprets Joseph Smith's important King Follett Discourse and Sermon in the Grove just before the Mormon prophet's death, and argues persuasively for the Mormon doctrine of "robust deification."
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