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On Isaiah 44:6 "There is no God Beside Me"
By Kerry A. Shirts
Critics against Mormonism usually quote Isaiah to the effect that our doctrine of there being many Gods is totally unbiblical. I wish to examine that more closely here. What is necessary is to read more than just one verse in Isaiah in order to understand the Bible concepts of God. Truly, taking just a verse here and a verse there, is wrenching the Bible out of its own cultural, philosophical, historical, and religious milieu and context. Here are the verses critics against Mormonism usually quote.
6 Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I [am] the first, and I [am] the last; and beside me [there is] no God.
7 And who, as I, shall call, and shall declare it, and set it in order for me, since I appointed the ancient people? and the things that are coming, and shall come, let them shew unto them.
8 Fear ye not, neither be afraid: have not I told thee from that time, and have declared [it]? ye [are] even my witnesses. Is there a God beside me? yea, [there is] no God; I know not [any].
5 ¶ I [am] the LORD, and [there is] none else, [there is] no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me:
21 Tell ye, and bring [them] near; yea, let them take counsel together: who hath declared this from ancient time? [who] hath told it from that time? [have] not I the LORD? and [there is] no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; [there is] none beside me.
22 Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I [am] God, and [there is] none else.
4 Yet I [am] the LORD thy God from the land of Egypt, and thou shalt know no god but me: for [there is] no saviour beside me.
Now on the face of it this seems like a good rejoinder. Even our own Book of Moses teaches this!
6 And I have a work for thee, Moses, my son; and thou art in the similitude of mine Only Begotten; and mine Only Begotten is and shall be the Savior, for he is full of grace and truth; but there is no God beside me, and all things are present with me, for I know them all.
So are Mormons simply wrong in proclaiming the doctrine of a plurality of Gods? Lets take another closer look still. I have always, and I mean without exception, found that seeing a broader context with the fuller, more true sense and reason for our doctrines is the very best way to come to an understanding. When this is done honestly, there is no contradictions between the Mormon doctrines and the Bible. I have found that Church Leaders have done a really outstanding job of explaining and showing how when all the verses of the Bible are dealt with, then a more understanding and coherent picture of what and Who God really is shines quite brightly. It is really quite exciting.
"And I have a work for thee, Moses, my son; and thou art in the similitude of my Only Begotten; and mine Only Begotten is and shall be the Savior, for He is full of grace and truth; but there is no God beside me, and all things are present with me, for I know them all." (Moses 1:6).
The words particularly debated are; "but there is no God beside me." They appear to be in conflict with many other statements in scripture, both ancient and modern, but are not out of harmony with them when properly understood.
Moses was reared in an atmosphere of idolatry. There were numerous deities among the Egyptians. In commencing the work which the Lord said he had for Moses to do, it was necessary to center his mind and faith upon God the Eternal Father as the only Being to worship. Therefore, the words now under consideration, or rather those that were actually spoken to Moses of which these are a translation, were made emphatic, not only as to the false gods of the times but delusive spirits, of whom Satan was the chief and who tried to pass himself off to Moses as a divine object of worship, as narrated in the same chapter. (Verses 12-25).
This was repeated in substance, and for the same reasons, in the first of the Ten Commandments: "Thou shalt have no other gods before me,"that is, beside me, above me, or equal to me, or to be an object of worship, (Exodus 20:2-5). Or, as Paul put it: "For though there be [many] that are called gods whether in heaven or in earth, (as there are gods many and lords many) yet to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things and we by Him." (1 Cor. 8:5-6).
It should be remembered that it was Christ before he was in the flesh who gave the law and the commandments to Moses, and who spoke for the Father, as He explained to the Nephites when he appeared to them after his resurrection. (3 Nephi 15:5.) He "was in the beginning with God and was God," according to John 1:1. The Father was represented by Him and He acted and spoke for the Father, in the creation and from that time forward in all the divine dispensations. Angels also, under Him, have been appointed to speak for God, being so authorized and empowered. (See Ex. 23:20, 21). But the sole object of worship, God the Eternal Father, stands supreme and alone, and it is in the name of the Only Begotten that we thus approach Him, as Christ taught always. "God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; He judgeth among the gods." (Psalms 82:1.) Jesus quoted this and did not dispute it (John 10:34-6). All the perfected beings who are rightly called gods, being, like the Savior, possessed of "the fullness of the Godhead bodily," are ONE, just as the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost are one.1
James Reuben Clark of the First Presidency, has demonstrated that the discussion of there being no other God besides the Savior, this is in contrast, not to other Gods, but rather, to idols.
"Yet I am the Lord thy God from the land of Egypt, and thou shalt have no god but me: for there is no savior beside me." (Hos. 8:4; 13:2-4.)
Micah, speaking the will of the Lord regarding Samaria, declared:
"And all the graven images thereof shall be beaten to pieces, and all the hires thereof shall be burned with the fire, and all the idols thereof will I lay desolate: for she gathered it of the hire of an harlot, and they shall return to the hire of an harlot." (Mic. 1:7; see also Habakkuk 2:18; Zechariah 10:2; 13:2.)
The Old Testament prophets never ceased to condemn Israel, in unrestrained vehemence, for her worship of idols.
At the great council of the Apostles and elders held in Jerusalem, concerning the status of gentile converts, at which Peter, Paul, and Barnabas spoke, and James also, they declared that:
". . . we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God:
"But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication." (Acts 15:19-20; 21:25.)
Paul's "spirit was stirred in him" at Athens, "when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry." (Acts 17:16; and see Romans 2:22.)
Repeatedly the Apostles--Paul perhaps more frequently than the others--spoke "touching things offered unto idols." (I Corinthians 8:1.) James, at the great council already referred to, commanded: "That ye abstain from meats offered to idols." (Acts 15:29.) Paul spoke on the matter to the Corinthians, and added, ". . . that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one. For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,) but to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him." (I Corinthians 8:4-7; and see 10:18 ff.; 28; 12:2; II Cor. 6:14 ff.; I Thess. 1:9.)
He affirmed also:
"But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God." (I Corinthians 10:20)
The concluding words of John in his first epistle were:
"Little children, keep yourselves from idols." (I John 5:21.) John on Patmos, beholding the great visions given in Revelation, and seeing the angels of destruction killing a third part of the men, declared:
"And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk." (Revelation 9:20; and see as to those who worship the beast and its image, Revelation 14 and 15; and as to the woman upon whose forehead was written, "Mystery, Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots and Abominations of the Earth," Revelation 17; and as to the Great and Abominable Church, the Church of the Devil, 1 Nephi 13:4 ff; 14:3, 10 ff.; 22:13 ff.; 2 Nephi 6:12; 10:16; 23:19; 4 Nephi 29.) 2
Obviously the contrast is between the True God of Israel of which there is no other, and idols made by men and women to worship. The idols were not Gods as Jehovah was. There truly is no other God than the Creator and Just God. Idols are not just. Idols do not create.
Bruce R. McConkie demonstrates this using the attributes of God, such as justice, as described in the Bible.
"Justice is one of the attributes of God. "Publish the name of the Lord," Moses proclaimed, "ascribe ye greatness unto our God. He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he." (Deut. 32:3-4.) "Justice and judgment are the habitation of thy throne: mercy and truth shall go before thy face," the psalmist wrote. (Ps. 89:14.) "There is no God else beside me," the Lord says, "a just God and a Saviour." (Isa. 45:21; Zeph. 3:5; Zech. 9:9; Rev. 15:3-4.)" 3
McConkie also notes another angle on this worth understanding. "And from God himself comes this word to his people: "Before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. I, even I, am the Lord; and beside me there is no saviour." (Isa. 43:10-11.) "I am the Lord, and there is none else, there is no God beside me." (Isa. 45:5; 46:9.) "The Lord is God, and beside him there is no Savior." (D&C 76:1.) Our Godhead consists of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. They are supreme over all, and though they administer their kingdoms through a hierarchy of appointed angels who also are exalted, one of whom is Adam or Michael, in the ultimate sense these members of the Eternal Godhead are the only Gods with whom we have to do. We worship the Father, in the name of the Son, by the power of the Holy Ghost. We follow the Son as he follows his Father. We labor and strive to be like the Son as he is like the Father, and the Father and Son and Holy Ghost are one. For these holy Beings we have unbounded love, reverence, and worship." 4
Yet still more context reveals something else fascinating in understanding Isaiahs description of God.
"It is hoped that all those who accept Jesus as Lord and Savior know also that the Old Testament prophets and seers knew him as Jehovah, which is to say, Jehovah is the Savior of the world. The writings of Moses, as originally recorded by the great lawgiver, contained these words: "Mine Only Begotten is and shall be the Savior, for he is full of grace and truth." (Moses 1:6.) Isaiah and various of the prophets recorded the words of the Eternal Jehovah in such ways as: "I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour. . . . I, even I, am the Lord; and beside me there is no saviour." (Isa. 43:3, 11.) "I am the Lord thy God. . . . There is no saviour beside me." (Hosea 13:4.) And there are many other such statements.
To show that the New Testament authors knew that Christ their Savior was Jehovah, the Savior of Israel, let us examine these words spoken by Jehovah to Isaiah. That holy being identifies himself as the "God of Israel, the Saviour"; announces that "Israel shall be saved in the Lord with an everlasting salvation"; says to "the seed of Jacob: . . . There is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me." Having so spoken to Israel, his chosen, he then affirms: "Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else." (Isa. 45:15-22.)
That is to say, Jehovah is the Savior; come unto him, all ye ends of the earth; he "is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe." (1 Tim. 4:10.) "The Lord is God and beside him there is no Savior." (D&C 76:1.) Let all men come to him.
Having so stated, having issued the great invitation to come to him, the Lord Jehovah then says: "I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear." (Isa. 45:23.) Before Jehovah, Judge of all, shall all things bow in humble reverence; to him every tongue that speaks shall swear an allegiance that shall never end! Well and gloriously spoke the great God by the mouth of Isaiah.5
McConkie continually shows the Biblical context of Isaiah in contextually consistent ways. "To his sons and daughters thus gathered into his fold in all nations, acclaims: "Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he." It is the Lord's servants who proclaim his divinity to the world; they are the ones who testify that salvation is in Christ; it is their witness that brings in converts and is binding on earth and in heaven. "I, even I, am the Lord; and beside me there is no saviour. I have declared, and have saved, and I have shewed, when there was no strange god among you: therefore ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, that I am God." (Isa. 43:3-12.) He alone is the Saviour; he alone is that Jehovah who this once will cause men to know his name and his might."6
Dallin Oaks also shows how Mormonism is consistently contextually correct with the Bible. "We worship God the Father, the great Elohim. Though there be "gods many, and lords many" (1 Corinthians 8:5), his position is unique. He is the Father of our spirits, the creator of all things, and the author of our salvation. God taught Moses: "Mine Only Begotten is and shall be the Savior, for he is full of grace and truth; but there is no God beside me" (Moses 1:6). As the object of our worship, God the Eternal Father "stands supreme and alone." ("Only One God to Worship," Improvement Era [April, 1912], 15:483--85; also in Messages of the First Presidency, ed. James R. Clark [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1970], 4:27071. See D&C 20:17-19.) The Apostle Paul declared: "To us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him" (1 Corinthians 8:6)."7
B. H. Roberts in his masterful debate with Rev. Von Der Donckt demonstrates the Biblically contextual reality of how there can be just One single God, and yet a plurality of Gods. Its a rejoinder which makes perfectly good Biblical sense. Roberts fine text The Mormon Doctrine of Deity, is far and away ignored much too much by both critics and we Mormons. It is still one of the finest expositions on this subject ever printed.
But I shall be asked how all this is to be reconciled with the scriptures quoted by Mr. V., and relied upon as the basis of his argument in this part of the discussion"Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord" (Deut. 6: 4); and "I alone am, and there is no other God beside me" (Deut. 32: 39); and, also coming to the New Testament, "There is none good but one, that is God" (Matt. 19: 17).
The whole apparent difficulty is explained by Paul, who, I think, will be accepted as a remarkably good theologian. He says: "For though there be that are called Gods, whether in heaven or in earth (as there be Gods many and Lords many), but to us there is but one God, the Father" (I Cor. 8: 5, 6). That is, "pertaining to us," as Joseph Smith explains, "there is but one God." Ah, but Mr. V. has explained all that, and destroyed all the force of "Mormon" argument, based upon this Corinthian letter passage, by saying that "a man must not be a lawyer to know that the fact that not a few quacks and clowns are called doctors does not make them such;" and then follows this "Neither Christ nor Paul say that they are or were Gods, but simply that they were called Gods!"
One wonders at this, when he takes into account the evident carefulness of Mr. V. as a writer. Jesus, whom he quotes as saying, the beings referred to as Gods are but called Gods, not that they are so, really fails to give due weight to the Psalm which Jesus quotes: "I have said ye are Gods, and all of you are children of the Most High" (Psalm 82: 6). Of this scripture, Jesus says: "Is it not written in your law, I said, ye are Gods," and he quotes with evident approval these inspired words of David, for he adds"the scripture cannot be broken" (John 10: 33); that is, the scripture of David saying, "ye are Gods," is true, it cannot be gainsaid. Nor is this indorsement of David's utterance weakened by the subsequent remark of Jesus, "If he called them Gods unto unto whom the word of God came," etc.; for, when considered in the light of all the Psalmist said, and all that Jesus said, the "called them Gods" by no manner of means signifies that they were not Gods. David said, "ye are Gods, and all of you are children of the Most High" (Psalm 82: 6). The Jews accused Jesus of blasphemy, because he had said he was the son of God (John 10: 36); in defense, Jesus quoted the passage from the Psalms where it is said of men, "ye are Gods; and all of you are children of the Most High"as showing that he was but claiming for himself the relationship that in the law of the Jews was accorded to mensons of God, children of the Most High, and hence, he was not a blasphemer. In other words, if the Psalmist could say to those he addressed, "all of you are children of the Most High," why should he, the Christ, be considered a blasphemer because he called himself the Son of God?
Surely, also, the gentleman has overlooked Paul's very emphatic declaration in the parenthetical part of the sentence he quotes: viz., "There BE Gods many and Lords many; yet to us there is but one God."
Now, consider with this explanation of Paul's the following:
"Hear, O, Israel: the Lord our God is one Lord."Moses. "The head of the Gods appointed one God for us."Joseph Smith.
"He [Aaron] shall be to thee instead of a mouth, and thou shalt be to him instead of God."The Lord to Moses
"See, I have made thee a God unto Pharaoh."The Lord unto Moses (Exodus 7: 1).
"I believe those Gods that God reveals as Gods, to be sons of God, and all can cry 'Abba, Father.'"Joseph Smith.
It is evident from the above passages (Exodus 4: 16, and Exodus 7: 1) that God does appoint men to be Gods, even in this world. Why then should it be considered error to believe that from "the congregation of the Mighty," where "God judgeth among the Gods" (Psalm 82: 1), there should be appointed One who should be our God? And is it strange that from henceforth, the true servants of God should stand up for the dignity and honor and exclusiveness of the power and authority of that One God over this earth against the claims, and to the exclusion of all gods and powers, that men in their vain imaginings set up against this God of heaven and earth, as did Moses, Paul and Joseph Smith? No wonder that Moses sent ringing down through the centuries that clarion sentence: "Hear, O Israel, Our God is one Lord;" that the Hebrew race stood as the witness of that one God, and fashioned their nomenclature accordingly; or that Paul said, "Though there be that are called Gods, whether in heaven or in earthas there BE Gods many, and lords manybut to us there is but one God;" or that Joseph Smith, in the Dispensation of the Fullness of Times, should take up the same refrain as these ancient servants of God, and say, "Pertaining to us, there is but one God;" "Those Gods whom God reveals as Gods, are sons of God, and all can cry Abba, Father!" 8
In the Lectures on Faith, it was declared how there is no other God, like that of Israel. The context is sharp, powerful, and quite to the point of Isaiahs discourses on this topic, as it includes Isaiah's point.
"Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God." Genesis 1:1: "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." Isaiah 14:24, 27: "The Lord of hosts hath sworn, saying, 'Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass: and as I have purposed so shall it stand. For the Lord of Hosts hath purposed, and who shall disannul it? and his hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back?'"
Thirdly -- Justice. Psalms 89:14: "Justice and judgment are the habitation of thy throne." Isaiah 45:21: "Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together; who hath declared this from the ancient times have not I the Lord? and there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour." Zephaniah 3:5 "The just Lord is in the midst thereof." Zechariah 9:9: "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem; behold thy King cometh unto thee; he is just and having salvation."
Fourthly -- Judgment. Psalms 89:14: "Justice and judgment are the habitation of thy throne." Deuteronomy 32:4 "He is the Rock, His work is perfect; for all His ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is He." Psalms 9:7: "but the Lord shall endure forever. He hath prepared His throne for judgment." Psalms 9:16: "The Lord is known by the judgment which he executeth."
Fifthly -- Mercy. Psalms 89:14: "Mercy and truth shall go before His face." Exodus 34:6: "And the Lord passed by before Him, and proclaimed, 'The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious.'" Nehemiah 9:17: "But thou art a God ready to pardon, gracious and merciful."
And sixthly -- Truth. Psalms 89:14: "Mercy and truth shall go before thy face." Exodus 34:6: "Long-suffering and abundant in goodness and truth." Deuteronomy 32:4: "He is the Rock, His work is perfect; for all His ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is He." Psalms 31:5: "Into Thine hand I commit my spirit; thou hast redeemed me, O Lord God of Truth." 9
Reynolds and Sjodahl also give another interesting look into the parameters which we understand Isaiahs teaching.
The Jews were guilty of effacing the Sacred Scriptures to suit their own purposes, but,
however, they could not erase every mention ofno matter how they triedtheir Saviour and Redeemer. If one looks into every fragment of their sacred writings that have been handed down to us, and known as the Old Testament, one will find many references to the Holy One of Israel, their Saviour and Redeemer.
We refer to the following passages from the Old Testament:
Job 19:25 I know that my Redeemer liveth
Psalm 19:14 O LORD, my strength, and my Redeemer
78:35 God was their rock, and the high God their Redeemer
Proverbs 23:11 For their redeemer is mighty; he shall plead their
cause with thee Isaiah
41:14 I will help thee, saith the LORD, and thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel
54:5 And thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel
43:14 Thus saith the Lord, your redeemer
44:6 Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his
redeemer the LORD of Hosts
24 Thus saith the LORD, thy Redeemer, and he that
48:17 Thus saith the LORD, the Holy One of Israel; I am
the LORD thy God
49:7 Thus saith the LORD, the Redeemer of Israel
54:8 With everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee,
saith the LORD thy Redeemer [p.121]
47:4 As for our Redeemer, the LORD of hosts is his name,
the Holy One of Israel
49:26 All flesh shall know that I the LORD am thy Saviour
and thy Redeemer, the mighty One of Jacob
59:20 And the Redeemer shall come to Zion
63:16 Thou, O LORD, our redeemer
Jeremiah 50:34 Their Redeemer is strong; the LORD of hosts is his
Reynolds and Sjodahl, Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 3, p.121
II Samuel 22:3 My refuge, my saviour
II Kings 13:5 Lord gave Israel a saviour
Psalm 106:21 They forgot God their saviour
Isaiah 19:20 He shall send them a saviour
43:3 Holy One of Israel thy Saviour
11 Beside me there is no saviour
45:15 O God of Israel, the Saviour
21 A just God and a Saviour; there is
49:26 Know that I am thy Saviour
60:16 That I the Lord am thy Saviour
63:8 People, so he was their Saviour
Jeremiah 14:8 The saviour of Israel in time
Hosea 13:4 For there is no saviour beside
One of the first, and certainly the greatest, of Christian Apologists was Justin Martyr. In his famous dialogue with the Jew Trypho, he charges "the teachers and leaders of the Jews" with having deliberately defaced and, where possible, removed from the Scriptures every trace of the true Messianic Gospel, which the Jews themselves once taught. He makes it very clear that Christianity is strictly an "eschatological"1 religion, that stands or fall on its apocalyptic2 claims. They are the same claims, he insists again and again, that the real inspired Jews of old used to make, the very things that the prophets always taught. The Christians alone, the dialogue insists, are in direct line with the ancient prophets (Dial. 52); the Christians preach an eternal and unchanging gospel (Dial. 29-30), the very same which was taught by the Patriarchs in the beginning. It was Christ whom Abraham saw and talked with (Dial. 56); it was not an angel but the Lord himself who wrestled with Jacob (Dial. 58-60). As Elias came anciently, so he came in John the Baptist to announce the Christ, and so he will come to herald Him when he comes again. (Dial. 49) When Trypho declares this paradoxical, Justin points out that while Moses was still alive God caused the spirit of Moses to descend upon Joshua, who was thereby both a Moses and a Joshua. Circumcision began with Abraham, and sabbaths and sacrifices with Moses [?];3 but behind these was an eternal law that had no such beginning, and that is the law brought by Jesus Christ, withheld in other ages because of the wickedness of their hearts, but known to the patriarchs in the beginning none the less. (Dial. 43)
We are really in the same tradition of teaching that you are, Justin tells Trypho the orthodox Jew (Dial. 11), but we look behind all tentative and provisional rules to the one eternal plan; behind all this passing show is the real thing, ageless and changeless (Dial. 45).
However much they may quarrel about other things, there are two basic doctrines, say Justin, in which all Christians must believe. The resurrection and the millennium. (Dial. 80) Why don't the Jews believe in them? Because, says he, they have been led astray by their "teachers" (Didaskaloi) and "leaders" (archontes). It is they who make and control the official doctrines, and because they happen to sit in Moses' seat and enjoy the support of the government and the control of the schools, it does not follow for a moment that their "official" doctrine is the true patriarchal tradition they claim it is. Indeed, they fight that tradition tooth and nail. "You know very well that your teachers whenever they detect [p.122] anything in your scriptures that might refer to Christ, diligently efface it." (Dial. 120) "Your teachers not only undertake their own interpretations in preference to the Septuagint (once their official Bible), but have also removed many passages from the text entirely." To this the indignant Trypho replies: "Do you mean to charge us with completely rewriting the scriptures?" And in answer Justin cites three important passagesall strong evidence for the Gospel of Christthat have been deliberately removed from the Scriptures by "the leaders of the people." (Dial. 71-72). 10
Hugh Nibley gives the idea some focus from the Pearl of Great Price, which is quite instructive as well.
In Moses 1:3 God says, "My name is Endless." Notice it is capitalized in our books, and it should be. If you ask the rabbis what is the ultimate name you can call Him by, it's still an epithet, but it is En Sof. It means "who has no end." The Sof is the limit, the boundary. But there is no boundary, he tells us. Either in space or in time he is unlimited, so is that not endless? So he is the En Sof. "Endless is my name." Again, the importance of the name; we saw that. "There is no end to my works or my words." The works and words come out in all of these things. They must go together because the works mean nothing unless they are communicated, unless they are shared. " for I am without beginning of days or end of years; " Notice, that is time. Right across in verse six it says: " there is no God beside me and all things are present with me, " That means present in place and present in time. If I can be there, it's present; if it's right now, it's present. Remember we use the very same terms for time as we do for space. We don't use absent the same way, but the present is whatever is here. You can never make the statement "I am not here." And you can never make the statement "It is not now." Both statements are always false because you are always here and you are always now. Nobody else is here, and no other time is now when you perceive it. Strange paradoxes, aren't they? He says, " I am the Lord God Almighty, and Endless is my name, for I am without beginning of days or end of years; and is not this endless?" Meaning no limits. Now here comes the second one. He has introduced himself. In ancient literature, when a god describes himself, it's called an aretology. And this is a typical aretology. When someone else describes him and praises him, that's an aclamatio. That's an acclamation or a laus. Laudis is praises. Arete is "virtue, quality." The high qualities and virtues of a person are arete. Aretology is proclaiming your particular office, calling, function, etc. The most famous of them all is the "I am Isis" from the Egyptians, which the Greeks took over. "I am Isis," and then she describes herself.
This is an aretology. He says, " I am the Lord God Almighty, and Endless is my name; for I am without beginning of days or end of years; " And then he tells Moses how he is related to Him (why I am bothering to tell you this, why I am bothering to talk to you?). Remember, the brother of Jared says, "He talked to me in all humility as one man to another." Now that's what humility is. It is not bowing the knee in the presence of overwhelming superiority, power or glory. Anybody can do that. But it is recognizing that other creatures, small, very unimportant creatures, are just as good as you are and are on an equal basis with you. That's what humility is. You are listening and you put yourself on the level with them. So the brother of Jared, says, "He talked with me as one man to another in all humility." It was humility for the Lord, and it was humility for the brother of Jared, too. You notice how he was smitten down when he held up the rocks.
Then the Lord says to Moses, "And behold, thou art my son; " After the aretology, He says, this is where you come in: you are my son. In the Gospel of Philip it says an astonishing thing. It says, do you want to know what God is? A horse begets a horse, a dog begets a dog, a bull begets a bull. What does a god beget, if a god has a son? What can it possibly be except a god? This is the problem here. If you are the son of such a being, there is a lot of explaining to do here. And, therefore, you're qualified and I'm going to show you a few things. " look and I will show thee the workmanship of mine hands; but not all, for my works are without end, [There is your En Sof again. His works are without end. His presence is without end. His knowledge is without end. Everything about him is without end.] and also my words. [Remember that the works and the words always go together. The words are to communicate and the works are what's done, but it doesn't happen in a vacuum.] for they never cease [they go on and onspaceless, timeless]. Wherefore no man can behold all my works, except he behold all my glory; " So his works are his glory to behold. Remember that he says, "This is my work and my glory." My work is my glory. That is what it is: to share this with others to bring about the immortality of man. "Wherefore no man can behold all my works, except he behold all my glory; and no man can behold all my glory, and afterwards remain in the flesh on the earth." Then: Why am I telling you this? Because I have work for you to do. I am going to give you an assignment. The Prophet Joseph says every one of us received an assignment before he came here. You'd better find out what it is and do it. "And I have a work for thee, Moses, my son; and thou art in the similitude of mine Only Begotten; [Now not only is he His son, but in the similitude and the likeness as the Son is in the similitude of the Father. He is in the likeness of the Only Begotten.] and mine Only Begotten is and shall be the Savior for he is full of grace and truth. [That is very interesting because He refers to the Book of Ether 3:8-9. We won't go into that.] but there is no God beside me, " (verse 6). It tells us later on in the Book of Moses that he is commanded to "call upon God in the name of the Son forevermore." He says to call upon God and God only, but always in the name of the Son. He is full of grace and truth, and of course those are the qualities. How do you define grace? That's charis; that's everything good. Charis is your attitude toward others, toward everything else. It is an attitude of complete love. It is related to our word cheer and the Latin, gratia which means "thanks, grace," etc.11
The Bible doctrines and Mormon doctrines are perfectly agreeable with each other. The Latter Day Scriptures are a marvelous explanation as well as second testimony to the Biblical teachings on God.
The "Lord God Almighty" told Moses: " mine Only Begotten is and shall be the Savior but there is no God beside me" (Moses 1:3,6). This means that pertaining to this earth no other God stands next to, or is equal to, the Father; he is the Most High. Paul confirmed this fact when he wrote the Corinthians, "there be gods many, and lords many, but to us there is but one God, the Father and one Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Cor. 8:5-6, emphasis added; cf.TPJS 370-71).30
Joseph Smith's teaching of a plurality of Gods is paralleled by the revelation that there is a corresponding plurality of inhabited earths as well. Moses "beheld many lands [worlds]; and each land was called earth, and there were inhabitants on the face thereof" (Moses 1:29). He also learned that these "worlds without number" were created fora divine purpose by the Son, the Only Begotten (Moses 1:33). However, Moses' knowledge of God's creative enterprises was limited to our own planet: "But only an account of this earth,and the inhabitants thereof, give I unto you" (Moses 1:35).
A plurality of gods and inhabited worlds is essential to the validity of the doctrine of exaltation wherein millions of men and women from this one earth will reign as kings and queens over their endless posteritiesposterities that will inhabit the endless earths yet to be organized (D&C 132:19-20).
The process of begetting spirit offspring, preparing earths on which they may dwell, and perfecting all things, is an endless divine cycle"one eternal round" (1 Nephi 10:19; Alma 7:20; 37:12; D&C 3:2; 35:1). Among other things, such a "round" may equal one eternity or one creative epoch of the gods. 12
Lowell Bennion noted how the doctrine is accurate and true as well.
"And God spake unto Moses, saying: Behold, I am the Lord God Almighty, and Endless is my name; for I am without beginning of days or end of years; and is not this endless? And, behold, thou art my son; wherefore look, and I will show thee the workmanship of mine hands; but not all, for my works are without end, and also my words, for they never cease. Wherefore, no man can behold all my works, except he behold all glory; and no man can behold all my glory, and afterwards remain in the flesh on earth. And I have a work for thee, Moses, my son; and thou art in the similitude of mine Only Begotten; and mine Only Begotten is and shall be the Savior, for he is full of grace and truth; but there is no God beside me, and all things are present with me, for I know them all. (Moses 1:3-6)
This passage and the entire chapter which follows, while acknowledging Jesus as the Son of God and co-Creator, with the Father, of the earth and of his continuous and unending creation, places no limitations on God. For "there is no God beside me" and "there is no end to my works."
We acknowledge God, the Father, to be the Supreme God of the universe. There is no mention in the Bible or in other Latter-day Saint scripture of any Gods above him or beside him. Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost are Gods working under him and with him. Men who attain a God-like character and stature will also share in his glory and work, but he will ever be God in a unique and supreme sense.
The recognition of God as the Supreme Intelligence and Being satisfies the mind. "13
So what we find on analyzing and reading several Mormon explanations is an expansion, an increase in comprehension of what the ancient prophets, as well as the modern prophets have always taught. God is alive. There is no God beside God. Idols are not God. Isaiah is obviously speaking within the context of idols. With other scriptures compared and read in conjunction with what Isaiah says, the plurality of Gods is clearly understood, not only to be Biblical, but also to be understandable, especially in light of Paul's writings. The problem is, most people stop short of reading in context. This includes what is said in the New Testament as well. When we do, we see that Mormon doctrine is Bible Doctrine.