A couple weeks ago I wrote about women holding the priesthood. The discussion turned from women holding the priesthood to a lively discussion on Heavenly Mother. Some of my Evangelical pastor friends who have followed my blog for a few years were shocked and appalled to learn that Mormons were openly discussing this. I think they kind of also felt a “bait and switch” because this is something they hadn’t heard of before in my writings, but more importantly isn’t mentioned in Mormon books they have such as: The Book of Mormon, A Marvelous Work and a Wonder, Doctrine and Covenants, etc.
The reaction of my friend reminded me of a similar experience I had while I was in Germany on a Mormon mission in the mid 1990s. As a missionary, you always are worried about what a member might say when you bring a potential convert to church with you. There are many strange things out there that prophets have done or said over the years that some members full heartedly believe. You invite people to visit church with the hopes that someone doesn’t say something “crazy” and scare them off.
On this particular day, it wasn’t a Mormon church member that scared our potential convert off, but a song called “O My Father”. Part of the song discusses that there is a Mother in Heaven. When my German friend read that verse he looked like someone had punched him in the gut as he turned and looked at me with a questioning look. Right after the service he ran out the door and we really never saw him again after that.
With this experience in mind, and the fact that the doctrine of a Heavenly Mother isn’t technically doctrine (in my mind, at least), I tried to explain that to my non-Mormon friends online.
Other LDS, or Mormon, friends who follow the blog jumped in and shared quite a few recent comments made by Mormon prophets and apostles who discuss us having Heavenly Parents. Even with all of the educating of the doctrine of having a Heavenly Mother, I have the feeling my Evangelical friends are still very uneasy with the concept.
Why Evangelicals are Shocked
I think there is an underlying reason why Evangelicals are shocked to learn of Mormons discussing having a Heavenly Mother, and that is the way Mormons view our relationship to who God is vs. how Evangelicals view our relationship to God.
In the book “How Wide the Divide?”, Stephen Robinson states the following about how Mormons view God:
Since Latter-day Saints take seriously and literally the scriptural language about becoming the children of God (Rom 8:16), it makes sense to us that the children will grow up to be like their Father. According to Scripture, God is the Fother of spirits (Heb 12:9). We are his offspring (Acts 17:29), and offspring grow up to be what their parents are…(How Wide the Divide, pg 80)
The Evangelical point of view of man’s relationship to God is described by Craig Blomberg in the same book as God being the “Creator” and man being the “creatures”. Therefore, God is like the sculptor who sculpts a statue. Although the statue is in the image of a human, the statue does not possess the traits of a human and is a completely different creature.
I believe that Mormons who feel we are the literal offspring of God have this in mind when they discuss having a Heavenly Mother. A very good example of this is the song I mentioned previously, “O My Father”. A portion of the song reads:
I had learned to call the Father, Through thy Spirit from on high,
But until the key of knowledge Was restored, I knew not why.
In the heavens are parents single? No, the thought makes reason stare!
Truth is reason, truth eternal tells me I’ve a mother there.
Mormons take the biblical scripture literally to mean that they are the offspring of God. With that thought in mind, many Mormons assume that it is logical that God has a wife (Heavenly Mother) who conceived our spirits. Evangelicals view man’s relationship with God much differently in the sense that God created us and formed us in His image, but we are not literal offspring of God.
If you are not a Mormon, what are your thoughts about the concept of a Heavenly Mother?
If you are a Mormon, why do you think there isn’t much discussion surrounding having a Heavenly Mother? Do you consider this to be speculation, or do you consider it to be an official doctrine?