Evil, Mormonism, and the Impossibility of Perfection Ab Initio: An Irenaean Defense -- By: Carl Mosser

Journal: Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
Volume: SBJT 09:2 (Summer 2005)
Article: Evil, Mormonism, and the Impossibility of Perfection Ab Initio: An Irenaean Defense
Author: Carl Mosser

Evil, Mormonism, and the
Impossibility of Perfection Ab Initio:
An Irenaean Defense1

Carl Mosser

Carl Mosser is Assistant Professor of Biblical Studies at Eastern University in St. Davids, Pennsylvania. He also serves as an Adjunct Professor in the graduate program in Christian Apologetics at Biola University in La Mirada, California. He is the author of several articles on topics as diverse as the epistle to the Hebrews, Calvin’s theology, and the origin of the patristic doctrine of deification. Dr. Mosser is coeditor (with Francis Beckwith and Paul Owen) of The New Mormon Challenge (Zondervan, 2002).


A strategy favored by apologists for all forms of finite theism is to adapt arguments from evil against classic theism while simultaneously denying the atheistic conclusion that no deities exist. This allows the finite theist to make room for a view of God (or the gods) that is allegedly superior to classic theism since it easily evades atheistic arguments. This strategy was employed as early as the second century when Valentinian Gnostics used an argument from evil against proto-orthodox Christianity.

The Valentinian argument focused on the fact of human imperfection and the doctrine of creatio ex nihilo. Their basic claim was that the Christian God could have created human beings perfect from the beginning and incapable of going wrong. The fact that human beings are imperfect demonstrates that they were not created by the Christian God. They reasoned that the Christian God, unlike the Demiurge and deities of the Greco-Roman pantheon, is not limited by preexisting, uncreated matter in his work of creation. He can create anything he wants ex nihilo. Since the Christian God is supposed to be all-good, they presumed that he would have created a perfect human race that could not err. The reality of human imperfection (particularly moral imperfection) demonstrates that humanity was not created by a being who is both all good and has the ability to create ex nihilo; the God of Christianity is not the creator of the world.2

This “Gnostic” argument has been revived by philosophers who wish to disprove Christian orthodoxy in favor of their preferred form of finite theism. The most well-known contemporary version of the argument comes from process theist David Ray Griffin.3 But LDS thinkers have produced distinctively Mormon solutions to the problem of evil that include versions of this argument.4 Mormons claim that their worldview has the resources to solve the prob...

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