Saturday, October 4, 2008

Praise to who?

The song always kind of bugged me, even when we were mormons, but wow let me just say what a visceral impact I had tonight to Praise to the Man. About halfway through the "Priesthood" session of the general conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, they sung that song. Just read the lyrics and then try to reconcille that with it being sung in a church that claims to follow and worship Christ...

Praise to the Man

1. Praise to the man who communed with Jehovah!
Jesus anointed that Prophet and Seer.
Blessed to open the last dispensation,
Kings shall extol him, and nations revere.

Hail to the Prophet, ascended to heaven!
Traitors and tyrants now fight him in vain.
Mingling with Gods, he can plan for his brethren;
Death cannot conquer the hero again.

2. Praise to his mem’ry, he died as a martyr;
Honored and blest be his ever great name!
Long shall his blood, which was shed by assassins,
Plead unto heav’n while the earth lauds his fame.

3. Great is his glory and endless his priesthood.
Ever and ever the keys he will hold.
Faithful and true, he will enter his kingdom,
Crowned in the midst of the prophets of old.

4. Sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven;
Earth must atone for the blood of that man.
Wake up the world for the conflict of justice.
Millions shall know “Brother Joseph” again.

Who are they praising? Where is the focus? Who is being exalted and glorified? He will enter "his kingdom"? "Great is his glory"? Don't even get me started on "mingling with Gods"!

More thoughts on the mormon general conference tomorrow. Suffice it to say that the mindset revealed in this song were on full display in Salt Lake City on Saturday night.


Pip said...

Oh wow. I can't even begin to comment on this one..."earth must atone for his blood"??!!?? Wow.
It's funny, though -I never knew about this song in all my Mo-years. I've only learned of it in the last year or so, but it's so telling of the mindset, like you said.

Mormon Heretic said...

I'll admit that this hymn is primarily praising Joseph. However, Joseph is clearly subordinate to Jesus (or Jehovah), "Jesus anointed that Prophet and Seer." It's not the other way around.

As for "mingling with gods", I have 3 references for you--2 from my blog, and an evangelical one.

First from my blog,

Eastern Orthodoxy:Theosis/Deification

Gods in Embryo

I have a copy of the Oct 2008 magazine, "Christianity Today." Let me quote from there a little, because I can't seem to find the entire article online for some reason.

The issue starts quoting the heretical hymn "Hark the Herald Angels Sing," by John Wesley.

"How the strange yet familiar doctrine of theosis can invigorate Christian life....Is salvation only about us and our need to be forgiven and born again, or is there a deeper God-ward purpose?

The leaders of the ancient church thought so, speaking regularly of salvation in a way that may sound strange to evangelicals, but which Wesley alluded to in some of his hymns. In particular, they envisioned salvation as theosis, an ongoing process by which God's people become increasingly "partakers of the divine nature" (2 Pet 1:4), formed more and more in God's likeness."

The article goes on to quote Athanasius and Irenaeus, as I did in my blog. Some key scriptures it points to regarding deification (or mingling with gods, as the mormon hymn points out) are:

John 10:34
Romans 8:29
1 John 3:2
Gen 1:26
Gen 3:5
1 John 1:5

Now I freely admit that mormons view of exaltation isn't 100% the same as deification. However, the similarites are striking, enough for me not to worry about this hymn you find so troubling.

Do you find "I heard the Bells on Christmas Day" troubling too--it's not explicitly about Jesus? It talks about canon fire of the Civil War. Is this inappropriate?

Historical Note: This hymn was writ­ten dur­ing the Amer­i­can civil war, as re­flect­ed by the sense of des­pair in the next to last stan­za. Stan­zas 4-5 speak of the bat­tle, and are usual­ly omit­ted from hymn­als:

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound the carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn, the households born
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

How about "Onward Christian Soldiers"? It seems to glorify war, not peace. If Jesus was against war and pro peace, do you have a problem with this?

Arthur Sido said...

Well onward Christian Soldiers is a cheesy hymn, but we read all the time about spiritual warfare in the Bible. War does not always equal cannons and rifles. There are a lot of hymns in Christian books that are garbage, man-centered tripe. But "Praise to the man" takes exaltating humans to a whole new level.

"Is salvation only about us and our need to be forgiven and born again, or is there a deeper God-ward purpose?"

Neither, it is about God's glory.

"Do you find "I heard the Bells on Christmas Day" troubling too--it's not explicitly about Jesus? It talks about canon fire of the Civil War. Is this inappropriate?"

Actually, I have never heard of that song or sung it in church so I can't speak to it.

The issue is not so much about hymns as it is about the standing of Joseph Smith in mormon lore. He clearly is exalted above other men, when in reality he is a sinner who died unrepentent and as far as the evidence would indicate unsaved.

I am putting together a new post that should lay to rest the notion that the scriptures you list support exaltation, regardless of what Wesley did or did not say.