THE GODHEAD/THE TRINITY:
THE GODHEAD/THE TRINITY:
EVANGELICALS believe that God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit are three distinct parts, sometimes called persons, but one God. A common, though not perfect, comparison is an egg - although the egg shell, egg white, and egg yolk are three distinct parts, they form one egg. It's a concept that is impossible for humans, in their limited understanding, to fully comprehend.
MORMONS believe that God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost are three separate and distinct individuals. God the Father and Jesus Christ both have bodies which are similar to human bodies, although perfected and superior in form.
THE NATURE OF GOD:
EVANGELICALS believe that:
God is omnipotent - nothing exists that is contrary to God's supreme will, and there is no possibility of anything or any group of things ever growing strong enough to exist or behave contrary to God's supreme will. God allows free will, but if He decides to intervene, He can.
God is omnipresent - although it can be said that God's spirit sometimes leaves people or places, God is not confined to any particular places, nor bound by the aspect of travel. God's attention is everywhere at all times.
God is omniscient - nothing can be hidden from God. He knows everything there is to know.
God is eternal - God exists outside of time. In human temporal understanding, that means that God has always existed, exists now, and will exist forever. God is self-causing; no one created God, and in this timeless existence God is immutable - He does not simply exist eternally, but stays the same for all of eternity.
God is holy - God is set apart from His creation, and apart from the things that tarnish His creation. God is pure, blameless, and human minds cannot entirely comprehend Him.
God is infallible - God is absolutely trustworthy in every matter. There is no possibility of God doing something that goes against His nature. His power will never decrease; neither His attributes nor His personality will ever change.
In being these things, God is transcendent. There is no one like God, there never was anyone like God, and there never will be. He is beyond us. God is the creator of all existing things, be they physical or spiritual.
MORMONS believe that:
God is omnipotent and omniscient. There are universal laws that God keeps. For example, the law that required someone to suffer on behalf of our sins. Whether God is the Creator of these laws or whether He simply keeps them is uncertain. Mormons will sometimes squabble about the details of this.
God is not omnipresent because He has physical form. However, His influence is omnipresent, which is where the Holy Ghost comes in. The Holy Ghost is an individual entity, but is also subject to God and allows Him, in a sense, to be omnipresent.
Mormons also believe God has transcended the human concept of time, and yet they do believe the statement, "As man is, God once was, as God is, man may become." They don't fully understand how this process works.
Mormons believe God manipulates matter through His power, which is essentially the Priesthood, although they're not sure what the exact process for doing so is. It may be a sort of telekinetic deal, moving it with "mere thought." Matter itself is eternal. God does not create something out of nothing, but rather organizes extant matter into the desired objects. Also, Mormons do aspire to become creators themselves, gods and goddesses, but they understand that they will be eternally subservient to God, similar to the way a child is always subservient to his or her father. We believe that we are part of a huge family and in that way connected to everybody else.
It should be noted that many aspects of the nature of God, including those discussed above, are debated hotly by Mormons. Though Mormons have been given, in great detail, the information necessary to obtain salvation, things that are not crucial to their salvation are not mentioned or discussed at any length in Scripture. Such things will be explained when they are necessary. This doesn't stop Mormons' ravenous curiosity, however.
One thing Mormons basically all agree on is that God the Father did in fact have a human experience not unlike the one everyone else has, and that people can aspire to become creators like Him.
THE PERSONALITY OF GOD:
EVANGELICALS believe that:
God is righteous - this stems from His being holy. He cannot bear to even look upon sin, much less act it, and so God's rule is entirely righteous and just - in both His own thought and His dealing with people.
God is loving - this balances God's righteousness. He wants the best for His creation, and goes to great lengths to see the best come to pass for each individual. He chooses to be merciful, even though there was absolutely no obligation on His part to look after us following the appearance of sin.
God is personal - God is not an impersonal force, but desires a relationship with each person. He is active in the lives of people, and can be thought of as a holy father, teacher, friend, and lover.
God is perfect in every way, and is best summed up with the the phrase "God is Good" - to the point that Good does not describe God, but God describes Good.
MORMONS believe pretty much the same thing. Commonly, they will refer to the concepts mentioned above as "righteous" and "loving" as "just" and "merciful." This is, of course, splitting hairs, but the just and merciful nature of God is a common topic of discussion in Mormon Sunday School classes.
THE NATURE OF CHRIST'S STAY ON EARTH:
EVANGELICALS believe that Christ was immaculately conceived and was born as a human in order to take the sins of all people upon Himself, die, and be resurrected, thereby providing a loophole in the system of God's justice. Christ knew of His purpose and His special relationship with God the Father. Jesus was born without sin and never sinned. He was capable of never sinning because He is also God.
MORMONS believe basically the same thing, but they believe Jesus was born without any special knowledge of His calling or identity. This was revealed to Him as He progressed and was obedient to His Father's commands.
DEATH AND RESURRECTION:
EVANGELICALS believe that Jesus died on the cross, but paid for everyone's sin by descending to Hell in their place. His bodily resurrection was a demonstration of the victory He has over death.
MORMONS believe that the Atonement of Jesus Christ was suffered primarily in Gethsemane, in which Jesus paid the spiritual price for all the sins of all humans. Jesus' death on the cross was also a crucial part of mankind's salvation, because Jesus' resurrection was the precedent to the resurrection of all individuals. Jesus' resurrection was permanent, and He still has His body, as all humans, good and evil, will be forever reunited spirit and body.
EARTH, HEAVEN, ZION:
EVANGELICALS, in many cases, believe that Heaven exists in a different realm, outside of time, like God, but there's a lot of debate on the matter. There is endless discussion over how to interpret the book of Revelation, and that goes hand-in-hand with different ideas about how Earth is going to end up, and what Heaven is like. Zion is generally just another term used for the geographical location of Israel, of which Jerusalem is the capital.
MORMONS believe that Earth is the future home of God the Father and Jesus Christ, because after the Second Coming, the Earth will be cleansed entirely and become the Celestial Kingdom. Mormons endlessly debate what exactly "Zion" is, but one thing that is set in concrete by Mormon Scriptures is that Zion will be one of the capital cities of the Celestial Kingdom, located in present-day Missouri. Jerusalem will be the other capital city.
Part II: PEOPLE will be posted at Flossing Philosophy tomorrow at 12:01 AM