Sunday, October 18, 2009

Elizabeth Clare Prophet (RIP), a "Christian"?

Elizabeth Clare Prophet passed away a few days ago at 70. She was in the last stages of Alzheimer's. I remember our co-blogger Brad Hart citing her in a footnote as someone who believed in the "Christian Nation" idea (of course as SHE understood the term "Christian"); Mormons too have their own Mormon-Christian Nation idea.

Ms. Prophet considered herself a "Christian," and I think a number of other things, Muslim, Buddhist, someone who channeled the Ascended Masters including Jesus Christ himself. You could literally take courses at her University with Jesus, St. Germain, etc., all channeled through her of course.

Ms. Prophet's eccentric religious teachings are relevant to American Creation because of the disputed definition of "what's a Christian"? If "historic Christianity" = orthodoxy, i.e., the lowest common denominator among reformed/evangelicals, Roman Catholics and capital O Orthodox Christians, then Ms. Prophet and her followers were not "Christians."

If, on the other hand, "Christian" means self defining as one complete with the idea that Jesus was the Son of God (though not necessarily God the Son), "Messiah," "Savior" of some sort, then Elizabeth Clare Prophet gets to be a "Christian" along with the Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses and many other more heterodox, eccentric sects.

You can listen to Ms. Prophet speak about Jesus here:

BTW: She had a kind of neat teaching, if I understand it right, that all human beings through Karma and Reincarnation could one day become God. Not "Gods" plural, but God singular, using the same logic that Trinitarianism does. Many Hindus teach something similar about many gods really being one God. Instead of there being three distinct persons in the Godhead, there were potentially limitless numbers. That's the Hindu spin on monotheism. All of their deities are just different manifestations of one God. Ms. Prophet taught human beings became one with God (i.e., part of the Godhead) once they achieved "Ascended Master" status, as Jesus did, as her late husband Mark Prophet did (his Ascended Master name is Lanello). And as I'm sure many of her devout followers will now claim she has done.


Tom Van Dyke said...

that all human beings through Karma and Reincarnation could one day become God. Not "Gods" plural, but God singular, using the same logic that Trinitarianism does.

You must have meant "Mormonism" here. You can't wedge that belief in with Catholicism even in the most liberal definition of "Christianity."

Exceptions make for bad rules, and Elizabeth Clare Prophet was certainly, um, exceptional.

For some normative definition of Christianity, even a liberal one, there cannot be a pan-religionism, that "all religions are equally true," which is implied here. Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormonism can make that cut [just as Sufism or Ismailism can make that cut with Islam, even if some or even most Muslims deny they are Islam], but Elizabeth Clare Prophet, despite a conscious attempt to claim Christianity, is a bit over the brink.

Jonathan Rowe said...

When we start to discuss orthodox notions of 3 in 1 Trinity v. other notions of many gods/monotheism, I get a little confused.

Does Mormonism in fact teach that the humans who may become gods become part of a "one God" monotheistic godhead?

A traditional orthodox complaint against Mormonism is that they are polytheistic. Perhaps Mormons have a good answer to this.

I have read some works of Hindus who seem to make a monotheistic argument using logic that is akin to Trinitarianism -- all of these different gods of the Hindu pantheon are really just different variations of ONE GOD. In that sense, Hinduism like Trinitarianism, could be seen as monotheistic.

I also sensed something similar from Ms. Prophet's theology, that human beings, thru Karma and Reincarnation, could literally become part of the monotheistic Godhead itself.

Phil Johnson said...

heh heh heh


Tom Van Dyke said...

Jon, the more philosophical forms of Hinduism and Buddhism [some Buddhists have gods] do assert that the apparent polytheism is only apparent, that the gods are only "facets" of the godhead.

However, it should be said that Trinitarianism, Jesus-as-God, asserts that God was born as a man as Jesus, not as representational myth but as historical fact.

But the Eastern religions view man's relationship with the Godhead as a participant, as a part of the Everything which equals "God"; Abrahamistic theology holds God as a separate and discrete entity from man.

So Christianity's claim that God was born as man is unremarkable---in the East, since we're all part of the Godhead, God is born as man everyday.

Which brings us to "grace," a subject that heavily occupied Aquinas and Calvin. In the Eastern scheme, God can't give "grace" to God. "Grace" therefore becomes a dynamic, a juice, a petrol, undeserved and unearned by man, as opposed to Good Karma.

Karma is limited by the goodness of a man's own previous efforts; with grace, anything is possible, and Providence sometimes pays it forward. Such was the Founding dynamic: blessings are sometimes given in advance to the righteous, and the righteous man then scrambles to be worthy of them.

However, the Eastern Godhead has no personality, indeed it isn't even self-aware. It cannot pay karma forward, it cannot function as Providence.

As for the Mormon conception of God and Godhead, I cannot answer. I do not know if they have a workable metaphysics.