Wednesday, October 1, 2014

THE DIVINE MOTHER GODDESS OF MORMONISM - PART 2

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Part 2 of "The Divine Mother Goddess of Mormonism" will investigate further the LDS belief that God has a wife—particularly LDS scholars’ claim that Asherah, depicted in the Old Testament (the wife of Baal) was really Eloheim’s wife and that Jewish scribes falsified the scriptures about her.

I’m sure you'll find the subject a fascinating one.

To read the previous Part I (or any other past article) click on "Archived Articles" on the dashboard. Orit may appear below this one.

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THE DIVINE MOTHER GODDESS OF MORMONISM- PT 2 

IS THERE A MOTHER IN HEAVEN WHO REIGNS WITH GOD THE FATHER AS HIS WIFE?©

Part I explored the Mormon belief in a heavenly Goddess as God’s wife who is the Mother in Heaven to millions of spirit offspring who are then placed in human babies. It also pinpointed how the LDS doctrine developed, quoted statements from leaders verifying their belief, presented details about Mrs. God, explained the reason for polygamous sex in heaven, and why the church covers up this belief to the public.

PART II will cover the following: 
  • Asherah: Who was she?
  • Who was her husband? Yahweh or Baal?
  • Mother Goddesses in antiquity
  • What led the Israelites to consider worshipping Asherah?
  • Have archaeologists found evidence that God had a wife?
  • Were the Biblical writers and scribes guilty of hiding the real truth about God’s consort?
  • Were Asherah poles placed in Old Testament temples?
  • Were Asherah poles used in the later temple at Jerusalem?
  • LDS scholars connect their Mother Goddess with Asherah
  • Religions today that believe in a Mother Goddess
  • What the Bible has to say about a divine Mother Goddess
  • Does God have a bride other than Asherah?
  • Summary of Mormon beliefs in a Heavenly Mother.
  • Summary of what the Bible says and does not say

Special NoteIn my references to Asherah, the Canaanite female deity in the Old Testament, I will use the single name of “Asherah.” This is easier than switching back and forth to the various spellings of her names, e.g., Astarte, Astareth, Ashtareth, Ashtaroth, etc. It will also prove much easier reading for you. Her name is also translated as “groves” and has reference to her “pole,” which will be explained later. In the KJV, Asherah is referred to as “groves” or “Asherah,” which follows the Greek Septuagint and the Latin Vulgate. The New Revised Standard Version uses “poles.” Sometimes Asherah poles are called, “graven image of the grove.” This also explains why Asherah poles were made. (See endnote no. 1 for all the Old Testament scriptures that reference her.) [1]

Now, a few definitions are in order about Asherah: 

Asherah: Who was she?
Asherah was the chief female deity worshipped in ancient Phoenicia (as Astarte), Syria (as Ishtar) and Canaan (as Asherah). She was also known as the "Queen of Heaven."

She was first mentioned in Exodus 34:13; also, Deut. 7:5; 12:3; 16:21. After Moses received the Ten Commandments and he pled with God to forgive the people for the Golden Calf incident, God said he would but they had to cut down the Asherah poles and destroy the “groves” and images in Canaan. They were also commanded not to set up any Asherah poles of their own. That command suggests that the Israelites were succumbing to the pagan influence.)

As soon as Joshua died, because of the incomplete conquest of the land of Canaan and with so many goddess cults around them, it was almost impossible for the Israelites to remain immune to the Canaanite worship of Asherah (and Baal). 
The sons of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and forgot the Lord their God and served the Baals and the Asheroth” (Judges 3:7). 
Baal worship and Asherah worship always went together because they were the “divine couple.” The Israelites’ worship of them continued down through the religious life of the Hebrews, although God’s prophets periodically tried to rectify the situation. (We’ll get to the relationship between Baal and Asherah in a minute.)

How was Asherah worshipped? Limbless tree trunks were planted in the groves on the “high places,” carved with her image. The upper part was definitely female, but the lower part was simply a column. They were also referred to as "Asherah poles.” Animal sacrifices were offered to her; there was also divination and snake worship.

But that’s not all . . .

One of Asherah’s titles was “Mistress of Sexual Rejoicing” which gives you a hint of what else took place in the sacred groves. Some academic sources believe Asherah’s wooden pole was a phallic symbol, which makes sense when one considers that the worship rituals involved sensuality and ritual prostitution. By sexually coming together in imitation of Asherah and Baal (the divine couple), participants were ensured of the fertility of people, animals and the land or some form of personal prosperity. The fertility rite would have especially appealed to women in an age where childbearing was so important. The rituals involved a form of sympathetic magic in which the forces of nature could be influenced by the example acted out in the ritual. An explanation is given on this website, www.followtherabbi.com, as follows:

Asherah was worshiped in various ways, including through ritual sex. . . . Pagans practiced sympathetic magic, that is, they believed they could influence the gods’ actions by performing the behavior they wished the gods to demonstrate. Believing the sexual union of Baal and Asherah produced fertility, their worshipers engaged in immoral sex to cause the gods to join together, ensuring good harvests. This practice became the basis for religious prostitution (1 Kings 14:23-24). The priest or a male member of the community represented Baal. The priestess or a female member of the community represented Asherah. In this way, God’s incredible gift of sexuality was perverted to the most obscene public prostitution. No wonder God’s anger burned against his people and their leaders.(2)

Who was Asherah’s husband?
Asherah was, first, the wife of El, the male creator God, and Baal was their son. Baal later replaced El as the chief male fertility deity of Canaan. Then, Baal married his mother, Asherah, who then became Baal's consort and was worshipped as the chief female deity.

Baal was represented as a man with the horns of a bull carrying thunderbolts in his hands (like his father, El). Baal was the storm god and the sun god. He was also depicted as a serpent; therefore both the bull and the serpent were worshipped as gods of fertility.
A bas-relief of the storm god, Hadad (a derivative of Baal) found in Northern Syria. He holds in each hand a pronged fork representing lightning and stands on the back of a bull. The bull, known for its strength and procreative power, represents fertility. The image of the bull was used in Egypt, Mesopotamia and Canaan. In Canaan it represented the head god of all gods. 

Asherah, since she was considered the “Mother of all living,” was often portrayed in figurines as a voluptuous, bosomy figure to represent her life-giving, nourishing qualities. Mother goddesses are found in practically all cultures.
Asherah, wife of Baal

Mother Goddesses in antiquity
In all cultures there was a belief in a Mother in Heaven who reigned alongside a God. She was “mother” to worshipers, but “wife” to the God. One doesn’t have to search hard to find evidence. As early as the Paleolithic Age, a Mother-Goddess belief existed with fertility being her primary function. 

(This single paragraph might be boring for some, but it's here to illustrate that mother-goddesses were prevalent.) She was worshiped among the Hittites (a part of the Canaanite nation). During the Hellenistic age (323 BC to 146 BC or 31 BC), Asherah and the goddess Anath, goddess of love and war and sister and helpmate of Baal, were blended into one deity called Atargatis, chief Goddess of fertility, wife of Baal/Hadad, in Northern Syria. In Egypt it was Isis. Germanic paganism erected altars to the “Mothers and Matrons.” In Norse paganism it was Frigg (or Frigga), Sif, wife of Thor, and the female deities were the Valkyries. In Rome it was Juno. In pre-Islamic times there were three goddesses, Uzza, al-Manat and al-Lat, each of whom had a separate shrine near Mecca. In the Greco-Roman period there was Aphrodite, Artemis and Athena. Goddess-mothers were also utilized in the Eleusinian mystery religions. Gnosticism proclaimed Sophia as their goddess who embodied wisdom; Africa’s fertility goddesses eventually syncretized into Marian devotion, and there were female deities in the Chinese and Southeast Asian religions. 

The Mormon Mrs. God
The Mormon's Heavenly Mother parallels most of the images of all ancient goddesses. It includes the concept of God having a harem of plural wives (see Part I) with wife number one being the head wife. This perception of a chief wife over the others can be found in Mormon polygamy practiced today where the first wife rules the roost and is usually referred to as the "Queen Bee." The concept is also reminiscent of the Egyptian Amun, Queen of Heaven and Chief-Priestess who, as God's wife " was the head of a large harem and initiation into her cult involved some rather lusty rites that reflected her association to love and sex."(3)

 What led the Israelites to consider worshiping Asherah?
To understand how this attraction for Asherah began, we need to go back a step—back to when the Israelites first came out of the dry, sun-blistered desert.

The Israelites were nomad/shepherds, who followed Moses out of Egypt and certainly knew Jehovah as the God of their desert experience. But when they came into the promised land of Canaan and found a totally different environment of green, lush fertile land like they’d never seen before, they struggled over whether they should worship Jehovah, God of the desert, which was no longer their environment, or El, the God of their new land of Canaan who, to them, made everything fertile. The struggle between Yahweh-only versus El/Baal and Asherah lasted for centuries. Israel was continually drawn away and may even have participated in the Asherah fertility rites. Jeremiah 7:18 confirms that they did make "Asherah cakes" for her--the Queen of Heaven..

During times of apostasy the Israelites always turned to false gods and goddesses. Three reasons for their turning to carved images was (1) Jehovah had forbidden any images of himself and it was difficult for the Hebrews to worship an invisible God—it was much easier to worship one they could see, even if made of wood or stone. (2) They lived in such close proximity to Canaanite worship that the influence was just too much for them to resist. (3) So much depended upon good harvests and wives having children, so fertility was the name of the game—all of which Asherah and Baal represented. Faithful Hebrews, however, who avoided the worship of Asherah, used the name “boshet” for her, meaning “shameful,” or “shamed person,” indicating their contempt for her cult. (Encyclopedia Britannica)

Through his prophets, Jehovah continually rebuked the straying Israelites for their idolatry and spiritual adultery. When the repentant Israelites turned back to Jehovah they were blessed and would have a period of faithfulness to Yahweh, but then it would start all over again.

It has been suggested by scholars that the continuance of Asherah worship may have been because she answered the psychological need for a loving mother who softened their hearts as only females can do, and that she was seen as complementary to, rather than competitive, with Yahweh. Therefore, in view of this, her worship was often “tolerated” (even in the case of Elijah on Mt. Carmel with the prophets of Baal). Archaeological findings dating to 800 BC (middle of the period of the divided Judean-Israelite monarchy) show many inscriptions pronouncing certain blessings to "Yahweh and his Asherah."

Have archaeologists found evidence that Jehovah God had a wife?
Yesthat is, they found evidence that the concept was believed. Because of the prevalence of the worship of Asherah, artifacts of house shrines have been found representing the Mother Goddess and her husband.

The 2008 March/April issue of Biblical Archaeology Review (BAR) shows pictures of small, ancient house-shrines found in Trans-Jordan, identified as Moabite or Ammonite. They date from the ninth or eighth century BC. Most, if not all, of the house shrines bear iconographic motifs of Asherah and display either an empty chamber with no throne-seat at all, or one with a throne-seat with no figure sitting in it.

Why are there no carved images sitting on the throne of these house shrines? The assumption of scholars is because graven images of God were prohibited. Therefore, the backslidden Israelites, while believing that the double-seated throne shrines were for Yahweh and his wife Asherah, didn’t want to violate the commandment that forbade graven images. How do we know these shrines meant Yahweh and not Baal? An 8th century storage jar’s inscription and iconography discovered at Kuntillet Ajrud in the northern Sinai desert shows three anthropomorphic figures on the jar with Hebrew inscriptions that say: “Yahweh and his Asherah.”(4)

Of significance is a rare picture that BAR published for the first time of a small house-shrine called “naoi,” (a Greek word that means “temple or inner sanctum”) which has a double-throne (one throne with two seats) carved into it for God and his consort. An Israelite shrine from northern Israel, found after World War II, contains a two-seated throne and also carries iconographic motifs of the Mother Goddess, Asherah. There have also been terra cotta figurines (not house shrines) from Israel and Judah found of Asherah. She is usually naked and rendered voluptuously as the goddess of fertility.

Many female figurines have been unearthed in ancient Israel, supporting the view that Asherah, a.k.a. Queen of Heaven, functioned as a goddess consort of Yahweh and was worshiped.

This, however, is not to say that the inscriptions, Yahweh and his Asherah, mean that Yahway really had a wife. To assume that inscriptions, house shrines and other artifact from pagan cultures and an oft backslidden Israel is proof that God had (and still has) a wife, is preposterous. Nevertheless, Mormon scholars are quick to pick up on these archaeological findings, hoping to prove that God has a wife so they can validate their theology.

This brings us to a troublesome question:

LDS leaders push belief that the Biblical writers and scribes purposely hid the real truth about God’s consort. Is this true?
The Mormon Archaeological Symposium, covered in an article in the (LDS) Church News, claimed that the "truth" about Mother-God as Yahweh’s wife has been “lost” from the Bible and that “Bible writers are in part responsible for the cover-up.”(5) What would that kind of cover-up consist of? In order to promote their monotheistic God, they purposely altered the scriptures to make sure that Asherah wasn’t mentioned as often as she really was and make it look like Israel was in the wrong for worshipping her when they were really right.

To accuse the writers and scribes of the Bible of covering up and falsifying the scriptures is a pretty daring leap to verify one's unbiblical beliefs. One need only consider how these copyists viewed the texts handed down to them. The scriptures were absolutely sacred to them and they would not have purposely made any major change of anything. And to be accurate was laborious work! They had to copy the scriptural texts onto lengthy, forty-five-foot scrolls, and if found to have made mistakes had to start all over with a new forty-five foot scroll. Further, their intense reverence for the scriptures can be seen in the procedural process they took. According to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scribe
  • They could only use clean animal skins, both to write on, and even to bind manuscripts.
  • Each column of writing could have no less than forty-eight, and no more than sixty lines.
  • The ink must be black, and of a special recipe.
  • They must say each word aloud while they were writing.
  • They must wipe the pen and wash their entire bodies before writing the most Holy Name of God, YHVH, every time they wrote it.
  • There must be a review within thirty days, and if as many as three pages required corrections, the entire manuscript had to be redone.
  • The letters, words, and paragraphs had to be counted, and the document became invalid if two letters touched each other. The middle paragraph, word and letter must correspond to those of the original document.
  • The documents could be stored only in sacred places (synagogues, etc.).
  • As no document containing God's Word could be destroyed, they were stored in a genizah (store room in a Jewish synagogue), or buried, which they did later. 

This is not to say that there weren’t occasional marginal insertions by copyists who wanted to clarify something more clearly which was inadvertently put into the text by a later scribe, or that there weren't occasional slips of the pen. For myself, I’m convinced of the accuracy of the transmission down through time for this reason:

Back in the LDS Church, when I was teaching the Gospel Doctrine class, we were studying the Dead Sea Scrolls. When I discovered that 95% of the words from the Isaiah scroll (in the Dead Sea Scrolls) are identical with the Hebrew text of Isaiah in our present Bible, and that the 5% consisted only of minor slips of the pen and variations in spelling, I had no choice but to conclude that the scriptures were well preserved after all despite contrary statements by the LDS church.

There is an additional archaeological assertion by LDS scholars that they say really justifies the truth of their belief that God has a wife. What is it? That Asherah poles were used in the Jerusalem temple! 

This prompts the burning question, “Did the Israelites really put them in there? Did God approve?

Were Asherah poles placed in the Old Testament temples?
The Mormon Archaeological Symposium claims that Asherah’s wooden pillars, or poles, stood beside Jehovah’s altar as God’s wife inside all Israelite temples. They also claim that both Moses and Aaron carried one of these Asherah poles as a sacred staff of power. (The staff idea is taken from stories handed down by Jewish Rabbis; nothing in scripture substantiates that.)

Yes, Mormons are right. Asherah poles were indeed placed in the temple. This was a periodic occurrence that happened all down through Israel’s history. Whenever the not-so-good kings ruled Israel, they always placed Asherah poles into the temple to indicate Yahweh’s consort. Of course, when the “godly” kings came back into power they were immediately removed.


Here is a summary, including which Israelite kings put in the Asherah poles and which kings removed them: 
  • Israel worshiped Asherah after settling in Canaan.
  • Elijah didn't eliminate the Asherah worship. It survived down to the end of the Israelite monarchy.
  • Under King Ahab (874-853 BC), there were Asherah images in Samaria. (The Southern Kingdom kept to Yahweh)
  • When the kingdom of Israel was ended by the Assyrians (721-722 BC), Asherah worship surprisingly continued to survive for another 100 years.
  • King Joshiah (in Judah's reform c 621 BC) purged the images and religious buildings previously set up 300 years previous by Jeroboam in Bethel (2 Kings 23:15)
  • King Rehoboam, son of Solomon (ab. 928 BC) introduced Asherah into the Jerusalem temple. Her statue was worshipped in the temple for 35 years.
  • King Asa removed it in 893 BC.
  • King Joash (836-798 BC) did right in Yahweh's sight and restored work in the temple, minus Asherah, as long as he was under the influence of Jehoida, the priest. But after Jehoida's death, Joash led the people back to Asherah worship again and set up images in the temple. The image remained there for 100 years. (2 Kings 21:3-7; 2 Chron 33:3-7, 15-19)
  • King Hezekiah (725 BC) destroyed the Baal and Asherah images that were in the temple. (2 Kings 23:4,6,7,13-14; 2 Chron 34:3,4,7)
  • After Hezekiah's death, his son Manasseh (698-642 BC) reverted to the worship of Asherah and 2 Kings 21:4-5,7 says he put them in the "House of the Lord," violating Deut. 16:21-22. She remained in the temple for 78 years.
  • Upon Joshiah's death, 11 years later (609 BC) she was brought back into the Jerusalem
  • temple where she remained until its destruction 23 years later in 586 BC.

To further validate the LDS position that Asherah is God’s true consort, their scholars point to Jeremiah, Chapters 7 and 44, saying, “See, Asherah, the Queen of Heaven is mentioned five times!” . . . (as if five somehow legitimates the worship). Their assertion makes no sense at all, considering that the Jeremiah passages they reference show God condemning the worship of Asherah. Yahweh also made it very clear that He did not want her image in the temples.

Below are the passages the LDS scholars refer to. Since they are lengthy, I have summarized parts and only quote excerpts; however, the complete Chapters 7 and 44 are worth reading:

Because of Israel’s sin of worshiping Asherah and other gods, Jeremiah, in Chapter 44, proclaims God’s condemnation of the people because the wives of the Israelite men were making cakes for Asherah, Queen of Heaven, with her image on them. He says to them:

“Why provoke my anger by burning incense to the idols you have made . . . have you forgotten the sins of your ancestors, the sins of the kings and queens of Judah, and the sins you and your wives committed in Judah and Jerusalem. To this very hour you have shown no remorse or reverence. No one has chosen to follow my word and the decrees I gave to you and your ancestors before you.” (44:8-10)

"Then all the women present and all the men who knew that their wives had burned incense to idols—a great crowd of all the Judeans living in Northern Egypt and Southern Egypt answered Jeremiah, “We will not listen to your messages from the Lord! We will do whatever we want. We will burn incense and pour out liquid offerings to the Queen of Heaven just as much as we like - just as we, and our ancestors, and our kings and officials have always done in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem. For in those days we had plenty to eat and we were well off and had no troubles! But ever since we quit burning incense to the Queen of Heaven and stopped worshiping her with liquid offerings, we have been in great trouble and have been dying from war and famine. Besides,” the women added, “do you suppose that we were burning incense and pouring out liquid offerings to the Queen of Heaven and making cakes marked with her image, without our husbands knowing it and helping us? Of course not!” (44:15-19)

Jeremiah explains to them the reason for their war and famine. 
“[T]he Lord could no longer bear all the disgusting things you were doing that he made your land an object of cursing—a desolate ruin without inhabitants—as it is today. All these terrible things happened to you because you have burned incense to idols and sinned against the Lord. You have refused to obey him and have not followed his instructions, his decrees, and his laws.” (44:20-23) But listen to this message from the Lord . . .” (v 25-26) 
He then describe the devastation that will come to them because of worshiping the Queen of Heaven and tells Jeremiah not to weep or pray anymore for the people and not to beg Him to help them. He says to Jeremiah: 
“Don’t you see what they are doing throughout the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? No wonder I am so angry! Watch how the children gather wood and the fathers build sacrificial fires. See how the women knead dough and make cakes to offer to the Queen of HeavenAnd they pour out liquid offerings to their other idol gods! Am I the one they are hurting?” asks the Lord. “Most of all, they hurt themselves, to their own shame.” 
"So this is what the Sovereign Lord says: “I will pour out my terrible fury on this place. Its people, animals, trees, and crops will be consumed by the unquenchable fire of my anger . . .” (Jer. 7:16-20)

The Jeremiah passages, that LDS scholars so proudly tout, show God’s anger over Judah’s idolatrous worship of the Queen of Heaven and vowing He will bring disaster upon them—not his approbation. So, the passages do not prove their case.

Were Asherah poles used in the later temple at Jerusalem?
Most LDS scholars, in order to validate their Mother-in-Heaven belief, claim that Asherah poles were placed in the Jerusalem temple. They base their claim on the work of historian, Dr. Ralph Patai, from his book, The Hebrew Goddess.

Are they right? Yes.

Mormon Fundamentalist, Fred C. Collier in his booklet, “The Common Origin of Ancient Hebrew/Pagan Religion and the Demise of the Hebrew Goddess,” also follows suit. He states that in the Jerusalem temple the two fifteen-foot high golden statues in the Holy of Holies rather than being cherubim were actually male and female images representing God and his wife; also, that at one time they were posed in a very explicit sexual embrace.

The latter is admitted by Talmudic rabbis but they offer a more appeasing explanation of the sexual-embracing statues. Rather than saying they represented God and his consort, they say that the embracing statues symbolized the “love of God for Israel.” It is also said by others that the Star of David that portrays two triangles “embracing” became a “coded symbol” for God and Goddess locked in a “creating posture.”(6) This is not, however, the standard interpretation.

But, you might say, are you sure that LDS scholars are connecting their Mother Goddess with Asherah? Yes. Read on . . .

LDS Scholars connect their Mother Goddess with Asherah
An important note first: The average lay member does not usually delve into academic studies so may be totally unfamiliar with LDS scholars’ claim about Asherah. The majority of members believe, like the Bible says, that she was simply a Canaanite Goddess.

Here’s the detail. LDS scholars claim: From the time of Adam, Asherah as God’s wife was a sacred truth and was legitimately worshipped. Why it can’t be found in the Bible is because it was deliberately covered up by monotheistic Bible scribes who falsely attributed Asherah as Baal’s wife instead of Jehovah’s. They further believe that the knowledge of God’s true consort was later restored in the secretive, ritualistic circles of Solomon’s temple but was eventually lost again. (See “Nephi and his Asherah” by Daniel C. Peterson in the Journal of Book of Mormon Studies(7)) God then restored that knowledge through Joseph Smith. (NoteLay members only maintain a general belief that their temple rituals were the same as those practiced in Solomon’s temple but are generally ignorant about any claim that knowledge of Asherah, the Heavenly wife, was had in the Solomonic rituals.)

FAIR, the apologetic arm of the LDS Church, goes so far as to offer supplemental material about Asherah for teachers of the church’s adult Sunday school classes and even point out a connection between Asherah and Nephi’s vision in the Book of Mormon of the Tree of Life and the Virgin Mary (see  Part I).

It is important to note again, that lay individuals in the Mormon Church do not claim that his or her Mother in Heaven’s name is Asherah. They do not know what her name is because God has so many wives they can’t know for sure which polygamous divine wife their spirit was born through.

What seems to be lost among Mormon scholars is why, if worshiping Asherah was correct, God permitted the Hebrew temples to be destroyed and allow the Jews, his chosen people, to be carried off into exile as punishment for their worship of her?

The scriptures are packed with God’s condemnation of the Mother Goddess:

            You must break down their pagan altars and shatter their sacred pillars. Cut down their
Asherah poles and burn their idols. (Deut. 7:5 NLT)

Break down their altars and smash their sacred pillars. Burn their Asherah poles and cut
down their carved idols. Erase the names of their gods from those places! (Deut. 12:3,
NLT)

You must never set up an Asherah pole beside the altar of the LORD your God. (Deut.
16:21, NLT)

The attempt by FAIR and LDS scholars to validate their Mother in Heaven using examples of Asherah worship in the Old Testament, even having the poles in the temple, fails completely. The only leg they try to stand on consists of two assertions (1) This important information was “lost” down through the centuries, and (2) Bible scribes deliberately covered it up by falsifying the scriptures to say that Asherah was Baal’s wife when she really was Yahweh’s.

But is the Mormon Church the only religion that reveres a Mother Goddess? No. Today, worship of Asherah is not dead! 

Religions today that believe in a Mother Goddess
In the United States there has been a resurrection of her cult. There is an Australian Goddess Temple at Serenity that celebrates the “Divine Mother;” also, “The Goddess Temple of Orange County” (California) that offers the following description on their website (caps are theirs): 
SHE HAS RISEN! The Goddess is alive and thriving at The Goddess Temple of
Orange County! . . . We ARE a church! Did you hear that, ladies? BE ASSUREDTHERE IS A CHURCH IN THE UNITED STATES, WHERE, EVERY SUNDAY, WE WORSHIP HER! We praise HER name! We pray to HER divine presence in our lives! We recount HER stories of miracles, power and wonder! Each Sunday and with each Holy Day Ritual, it seems the energy expands greatly inside our hearts and inside Her Great Womb, which is reflected in our beautiful Temple to HER. We feel the golden energy grow and we feel healed, powerful, loving and prosperous. We send out our "world healing prayers" every Sunday (sometimes we howl them, drum them or dance them) and we hope you feel the energy too. Please visit us soon for a sacred pilgrimage to The Goddess Temple of Orange County [California] or check out what She is creating here. http://medusacoils.blogspot.com/2007/04/news-from-temples.html 
Isis is not dead either. There is a temple (Isis Oasis) at Geyserville, California. (www.isisoasis.org). There is also WICCA (Witches International Coven Counsel Association) where members worship a prime deity Goddess known as the “Queen of Heaven” similar to Isis and Asherah. WICCA’s Goddess’ consort is the Horned God (Baal), but who plays hardly any part in their worship and ritual. Their goddess often goes by different names because she is considered the summation of all goddesses in all cultures. There are, no doubt, more religions such as these.

Conclusion
I have not quoted every scripture where God speaks against the goddess, Asherah, known as the Queen (or Mother) of Heaven. The important thing to remember is that throughout the Bible God continually commanded the Israelites not to worship her or any of the pagan female deities by whatever name they went by; also, not to put Asherah poles in the temple!

That Asherah's places of worship were popular is uncontested. Her sanctuaries, or “high places,” were on “every hill and under every green tree” and the populace, including backslidden Israelites, flocked to them. (Deut. 12:2; I Kings 14:23; 2 Kings 16:4, 17:10; 2 Ch 28:4) They also made house-shrines depicting the throne seats of God and his consort, including carved inscriptions to “Yahweh and his Asherah.”

Female deities are portrayed throughout Israel’s history as well as in many other cultures. But just because these cults were popular, or that backslidden kings of Israel placed them in the temple, does not validate Mother Goddess worship or the LDS belief in a Mother in Heaven serving as one of God’s wives.

The Bible shows that God condemned and refuted the idea of a Mother in Heaven which destroys any validity to the Mormon claim of a divine Mother Goddess as wife to the God who created this earth, or that Bible scribes falsely attributed her as wife of Baal instead of Jehovah in order to promote monotheism. 

Summary from Part I and Part II - What Mormons believe

  • The Mormon God is a resurrected man from a previous world and is our present Heavenly Father. He, along with his many wives, produce the spirits of babies born on earth. They accomplish this production physically in the same manner as husband and wives do here. 

  • The Mother-Goddess who is the “chief” wife in Mormon theology is wife number 1 whom God married in a Mormon temple of a previous world. The rest of his polygamous wives would be considered concubines, or wives of a lesser status.
     
  • Members believe they will one day earn and achieve their own Godhood. Their men will be Gods with a plurality of wives, and the women will become Mother Goddess consorts and spend eternity giving birth to spirit children. 
  • Knowledge of God and his consort Asherah was originally given to Adam and was lost. Then it was given again in the first set of Moses’ stone tablets (aka the higher law); but in the second set of tablets, when Israel sinned by worshipping the golden calf, it was omitted and only the Ten Commandments given (the lesser law). Later, it was restored secretly in the inner ritualistic circles of Solomon’s temple. After being lost again, it was restored through Joseph Smith.
  • LDS apologists attempt to use the idolatrous worship of Asherah, Queen of Heaven, to validate their belief in a Divine Mother. 
  • The Bible’s failure to show Asherah as Jehovah’s true consort was due to a deliberate cover-up by biblical scribes who falsely attributed God’s wife to Baal instead of Jehovah in order to promote male monotheism. 
  • FAIR, the apologetics arm of the LDS Church, use Asherah in connection with Nephi’s vision in the Book of Mormon. 
  • The reason why Mormon teaching contradicts the Bible is reflected in  David M. McConkie's statement (First Counselor on the LDS General Sunday School Board) that their study of the Old Testament must be done through the “light and lens of the [LDS] Restoration” and that the LDS church “understand(s) things in the Old Testament that can’t be understood by the world generally.”(8) 
  • The church cannot officially repudiate the doctrine because it was officially declared by previous church presidencies and would cause serious devastation with members. 
  • The doctrine of a Mother in Heaven will always be quietly believed in the LDS Church contrary to what one may hear announced publicly to appease the public. 

Summary of what the Bible says

 The Bible says (over and over again) that God condemned the worship of Asherah.
  • “Break down their pagan altars and shatter their sacred pillars; cut down their Asherah poles and burn their idols." (Deut. 7:5)
  • “Burn the Asherah poles and cut down their carved idols and erase the names of their gods from those places!” (Deut. 12:3)
  • “Never set up an Asherah pole beside the altar (in the temple) of the LORD your God!” (Deut. 16:21)
The Bible does not say: 
  • that God is a resurrected man from a previous world
  • that God is polygamous with multiple consorts
  • that men and women can become Gods and Goddesses
  • that God has a chief Mother Goddess as his number one wife
  • that the spirits of human babies are birthed through Mother Goddesses
  • that Adam knew God had a wife
  • that the knowledge that God has a wife was contained in the first set of Moses’ tablets
  • that the knowledge that God has a wife was restored in the ritualistic circles of Solomon’s temple
  • that the Israelites validly worshipped the Mother Goddess
  • that God approved the worship of Asherah 

Does God have a bride other than Asherah?
Yes! But, who is it? . . . It is none other than God’s people who make up his church!

            In the Old Testament:
For your Maker is your husband—the LORD Almighty is his name—the Holy One of
Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth. (Isa. 54:5)

As a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you. (Isa. 62:5)’

“Return, faithless people,” declares the LORD, “for I am your husband. I will choose
you—one from a town and two from a clan—and bring you to Zion.” (Jer. 3:14)

In the New Testament:
            “Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has
come and His bride has made herself ready.” It was given to her to clothe herself in fine
linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. (Rev. 19:7-8)

And he said to me, “Write, ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of
the Lamb.’” And he said to me, “These are true words of God.” (Rev. 19:9)

And one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues, came
and spoke with me, saying, “Come here, I shall show you the bride, the wife of the
Lamb.” (Rev. 21:9)

For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and
the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to
Christ and the church. (Eph. 5:31-32)

Since the LDS Church’s objective is to draw in converts by convincing the public they are Christian, out of necessity they will continue to cover up their unbiblical belief of God having a wife while secretly adhering to it.

Why do LDS scholars insist on a belief that so obviously the Bible condemns? Perhaps this statement by David M. McConkie, First Counselor on the General Sunday School Board made in a Church News article entitled “Old Testament Flavor is Unique” clarifies this:

            “We’re in a unique position, because as members of the Church, we get to study the Old
Testament with the light and through the lens of the Restoration. We can understand things in the Old Testament that can’t be understood by the world generally, and if we’re teachers, we’ll teach it with that in mind.”

Teachers should ask themselves, “Is what we’re teaching different from what the world could teach,” Brother McConkie suggested. If the answer to that question is no, perhaps some rethinking is in order pertaining to approach, he said.(9)

The long-held teaching that there are many Mrs. Gods will prove interesting as Mormons wait for a new encyclopedic publication that will replace the withdrawal of LDS theologian and late apostle, Bruce R. McConkie’s Mormon Doctrine that openly declared this doctrine. His book was the all-time best seller among Mormons, achieving near-canonical status. If there will be a replacement, I expect the book will omit any reference to a Mother in Heaven, or else make a vague, cleverly-made reference to it as being taught by early leaders but that they don’t teach it now. The reason they don’t openly teach it now is because it would shock potential converts and new members from Christian backgrounds, making their religion appear “not Christian.”)

The last word to any Bible-believing person should be that the scriptures contain the “Word of God.” Its transmission down through the centuries has not been falsely manipulated by monotheistic scribes. It is reliable, and if God said that he has no wife and that there is no Mother in Heaven and condemned those who believed in her, that settles the matter.

Until next time,            
Janis
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ENDNOTES

1.  Exodus 34:13. Deut. 7:5; 12:3; 16:21. Judges 3:7; 6:25-26; 6:28; 6:30. I Kings 14:15; 14:23; 15:13; 16:33; 18:19. 2 Kings 13:6; 17:10; 17:16; 18:4; 21:3; 21:7; 23:4; 23:6-7; 23:14; 23:15; 2 Chron. 14:3; 15:16; 17:6; 19:3; 24:18; 31:1; 33:3; 33:19; 34:3; 34:4; 34:7. Isa. 17:8; 27:9. Jer. 17:2. Micah 5:14.

2.  “Fertility Rites of Canaan.” Http://www.followtherabbi.com.

3.  “The Mother in Heaven,” by Leah Walker, The Evangel, April 1991, p. 8.

4.  Disclosure made by J. Edward Wright, President of The Arizona Center for Judaic Studies and The Albright Institute for Archaeological Research.

5.  Church News, October 30, 1983, p. 7. Cited in “Our Mother Which Art in Heaven” by Rick and Carmen Branch, The Evangel, August 2004, p. 9.

6.  “Was the Hebrew God also a Woman?” http://www.northernway.org/hgoddess.html

7.  Journal of Book of Mormon Studies: Volume - 9, Issue - 2, Pages: 16-25
Provo, Utah: Maxwell Institute, 2000

8.  “Old Testament Flavor is Unique,” by R. Scott Lloyd, Church News staff writer. Jan. 2, 2010. http://www.ldschurchnews.com/articles/58406/Old-Testament-flavor-is-unique.html

9.  Ibid.

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