The Mormon Concept of God: A Philosophical Analysis

Francis J. Beckwith and Stephen E. Parrish’s The Mormon Concept of God contains five chapters; chapter 1 is “The Classical Concept of God.” In it the authors give an overview of traditional Christian theism and brief arguments for what they take to be the central claims of the classical view of God, namely, that God is personal and disembodied; that he is the creator and sustainer of all contingent existence; that he is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent; that he is immutable and eternal; that he is the source of all values and perfectly good; that he is able to communicate with human beings; and that he is the necessary and only God. Chapter 2, “Mormon Finitistic Theism,” gives what purports to be an overview of Latter-day Saint belief about the nature of God. Chapters 3 and 4, “Philosophical Problems with the Mormon Concept of God” and “Design, Necessity, and the Mormon God,” offer arguments against the positions that Beckwith and Parrish attribute in chapter 2 to Latter-day Saints. Chapter 5, “A Biblical Critique of the Mormon Concept of God” offers what its title suggests, an attempt to use the Bible to criticize the Latter-day Saint understanding of God.

The Mormon Concept of God is an unusual book. Beckwith and Parrish are obviously conservative Protestants, but they nonetheless attempt to give a reasoned and fair critique of Latter-day Saint beliefs. They claim their critique centers on showing that the LDS understanding of the “universe is fundamentally irrational” (53) and that the LDS understanding of God is nonbiblical (109). However, they devote most of their time to the former, and that is the best of their work.

Published in BYU Studies Quarterly 32:4
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