Dear Reader,

A Latter-day Saint who believes that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its leaders are authorized of God doesn’t necessarily accept whatever the church puts forth as “gospel.” On the contrary, anyone who wants a better church tomorrow really ought to speak up today. We aren’t potted plants. Let's face it: Theological malarkey will continue to thrive in the church if members say “amen” to it all.

That is the main reason this site exists.

It also exists because I want to encourage wavering Latter-day Saints not to leave the Lord's restored church merely because of its flaws and the errors of its leaders.

Each article is listed below with a title, short synopsis and a link. They were written by Steve Warren (bio below). Articles by others may be added.

Keep the faith.

Steve Warren
West Valley City, Utah

“God is actually trying to create a much more profound relationship with us. We can only do that if we are actually wrestling with issues at hand.”
--Fiona Givens

Christ moves closer to us as we move from dogma toward truth.

Steve Warren was raised in Heppner, Oregon, and has lived in Utah for 45 years. He attended Ricks College for two years, served a mission to Colombia and Venezuela, and graduated from BYU in 1973 with a degree in communications. He and his wife, JaNiece, have two sons and a daughter. He wrote and published Drat! Mythed Again, Second Thoughts on Utah in 1986 and was a copy editor at the Deseret News from 1988-2008. He wrote and printed 100 copies of a novel, Beyond the Finish Line, but has yet to find a real publisher. (2019)
Knowing, believing, seeing Insights into our borderline dysfunctional LDS relationship with the word “know.”

Pathway to heaven The Scriptures show one sure way to return to God’s presence: possess a heart that pleases him.

Obedience gone awry Strictly following the prophet is an excellent idea—at least as long as he’s right.

Falling short, staying put Living prophets constantly err, but that’s not a good reason to leave the Lord’s church.

What in the world? Certain strange features of the Book of Mormon add to its credibility.

Some kind of miracle Fiction. An invitation to speak in sacrament meeting begins a Utah couple’s wild ride.

The cross = victory The cross is a worthy, positive symbol because it reminds us that it is the dying Christ who saves us.

Pilate tried Jewish religious leaders sought to kill Jesus; Pontius Pilate sought to set him free, so let’s give the man a break.

Father, Father, Father Why do we repeat the name of Deity so often in prayers these days?

Witnesses Multiple witnesses provide a compelling reason for anyone to ponder the claims of Mormonism.

Who is God? The Book of Mormon and other scriptures clearly teach that Jesus Christ is God and that Heavenly Father is God the Father.

In the beginning If we didn't allow speculation and guesswork in lessons on the Creation and Adam and Eve, classes would be really short.

Short takes Brief quotes, comments and reflections on a variety of gospel topics.
A few heresies... that would make for a more interesting sacrament meeting.
Oopsy-daisy 40 foul-ups by top LDS authorities.
Appreciating Christ

Monday, December 3, 2018

Appreciating Christ

In the Church of Jesus Christ, we still have quite a way to go to properly appreciate Christ.

For example, we could make a much better effort in explaining why Christ is both Father and Son.  If we were to do that, members would more easily recognize that on Sinai it was Christ, not the Father, who said, this is my work and my gloryto bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. (Moses 1:39) After all, he alone is the giver of eternal life, and we know from Moses 1:1-3 that the God speaking throughout the chapter is indeed Christ (see Exodus 6:3). 

Elder McConkie observed that Christ's role as our father “is over, above and in addition to” Heavenly Father's role as the father of our spirits. (BYU, Jan. 28, 1975, italics added)  How many members believe that Christ's place as our father is over and above Heavenly Father's?  These same members likely fail to  recognize that in the Scriptures, God far more often refers to Christ than to the Father (see Who is God? on this site).  And, as noted below, Christ qualifies as Father in seven ways.  I Am a Child of God (meaning God the Father) could just as accurately have been titled I Am a Child of Christ.  One of many passages of scripture that make this point is King Benjamin's explanation that because of the covenant which ye have made, ye shall be called the children of Christ, his sons and daughters (Mosiah 5:7). 

We correctly teach that Father and Son are separate, but I don’t recall ever attending a Sunday class on the subject of how Christ also serves mankind as both Father and Son (except for the high priests class I taught in September 2016), but the Scriptures offer lots of insight on the subject.  It is worth noting that Joseph Smith changed Luke 10:22 to read: “no man knoweth that the Son is the Father, and the Father is the Son, but him to whom the Son will reveal it.” (The uncorrected King James version reads: “no man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him.”)

Abinadi’s words suggest that in the Church we need to be teaching that the Son is the Father:  “Teach them that redemption cometh through Christ the Lord, who is the very Eternal Father.” (Mosiah 16:15)

Christ is Father in 7 ways

There are at least seven ways in which Christ qualifies as Father.  In 1916 The First Presidency and the Twelve published “The Father and the Son,” a doctrinal exposition that covers in greater detail the first three items listed below.

First, Christ is the creator of the earth and numerous other worlds.  The Book of Mormon calls him “the Father of heaven and earth.” (Mosiah 3:8; Hel. 14:12; 16:18; Ether 4:7)

Second, he is the Father of those who are spiritually reborn and receive eternal life. “They who shall believe on my name . . . shall become my sons and my daughters.” (Ether 3:14; Mosiah 5:7, 2 Cor. 6:18, etc.)

Third, he has power to speak and act as though he were literally God the Father. This is sometimes referred to as divine investiture of authority and occurs often in scripture.  Numerous passages seem to refer to the Father rather than Christ when, in fact, the “Father” cited is the Son speaking or acting as the Father. (“Behold, I am Jesus Christ. I am the Father and the Son.” Ether 3:14)  For instance, in Moses 1, 6 and D&C 29, the god who speaks of “mine only Begotten” is actually Christ in his role as Father referring to himself as the Son.  In Moses 7: 35, Christ says, “Behold I am God; Man of Holiness is my name.”

Fourth, the premortal Lord is the creator or father of the physical bodies of Adam and Eve.  He tells the Brother of Jared:  “Behold, this body, which ye now behold, is the body of my spirit; and man have I created after the body of my spirit . . . ”  (Ether 3:16)  “For by the power of my Spirit created I them; yea, all things both spiritual and temporal.” (D&C 29:31.  See also Mosiah 26:23; Alma 5:15;  Isaiah 54:5, 1 Nephi 17:36, etc.)  His creation of the physical bodies of Adam and Eve obviously is related to the fact that all mortal bodies come from the dust (or elements) of the earth, which he created. Because we are descendants of Adam and Eve, Christ is the first father of our physical bodies. 

Fifth, the crucified and resurrected Christ is the father of our resurrected bodies.

Sixth, as the God who reigns over the earth, he interacts with mortals as a father or parent.  He compares this relationship as that of a hen who would gather her chickens and as a shepherd and his sheep. He refers to us as his little children. (D&C 50:41; John 13:33; Mosiah 5:7)

Seventh, the mortal Messiah was the Father.  Abinadi says Jesus was “the Father, because he was conceived by the power of God; and the son, because of the flesh; thus becoming the Father and Son.” We may infer from Mosiah 15:1-5 that as the mortal Christ grew, he became the Father because he subjected the flesh (being the son of Mary) to the Father (being the son of the Father) [see also 3 Nephi 1:14].  It’s difficult to think of the younger Jesus as the Father, because he learned line upon line. During his ministry, however, we get a strong hint of why the mortal Messiah is also the Father when he says to Phillip, “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father.” (John 14:9) We get another clue when the outraged Jews say “he makes himself equal to God” and when Paul taught that Jesus “thought it not robbery to be equal with God.” (Philippians 2:6) Additionally, in the 1830 edition, 1 Nephi 13:40 reads: the Lamb of God is the Eternal Father and the Saviour of the world.  (Changed to is the Son of the Eternal Father in later editions. Similar changes were made in 1 Nephi 11.) 

Some suggest that Christ may be a father in one or two other ways—as the married father of children on earth and/or in heaven—but this is non-scriptural speculation.

Because Christ acts and speaks as the Father and is our father in other ways, many in the Christian world have incorrectly concluded that they are one being.  If we more clearly taught that Christ is Father and Son for mortals while being separate from God the Father, we would better understand their relationship and would be less tempted to parrot such notions as “Jesus works under the direction of the Father.” (Bible Dictionary)  It is not sound theology to try to remake the Godhead into a celestial First Presidency in which Christ is first counselor and needs “direction” or needs someone to preside over him ostensibly because he lacks knowledge, power, authority or leadership skills.  Nor does such a notion honor the Father; instead, it turns him into a backseat driver.  Correct theology is to teach that Christ is the God in whom resides “all the fullness of the Godhead” (Col. 1:19; 2:9; D&C 93:4).  Interestingly, in terms of the Godhead and Christ, when the Savior speaks of being baptized in “my name” in 3 Nephi 11:23-38, “my name” refers to Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

The Son has ascended to the throne of God where he is at the right hand of the Father.  Being at the right hand means neither below nor above nor behind nor in front of.  It means side by side or on the same level.  Indeed, a celestial flow chart depicting yesterday, today and tomorrow might show yesterday with the Father at the top, with Jesus and all spirit children of the Father below. The today phase would show Christ directly right of the Father, with the earth and all mortals and those awaiting resurrection below him. The tomorrow chart would show the Father and Son side by side, perhaps with other exalted beings on the same level. Unexalted beings would be at different levels below them.

Rather than continuing to follow the unscriptural practice of using God as a synonym for Heavenly Father, if we better understood that Christ, the God of the whole earth, is both Father and Son and that his roles as Father are over and above that of our Heavenly Father, we would understand that when the term God stands alone, it usually refers to Christ.  (See Who is God? on this site.)  In The Church of Jesus Christ, it should be used that way.  In cases where we intend God to refer to Heavenly Father rather than to Christ, we would be well-advised to specifically say Heavenly Father or God the Father.  

Perspectives on Christ

There are three perspectives on Christ that in particular deserve our attention today. 

First, the mortal Messiah is our exemplar.  He teaches us to pray, exercise faith, love one another, resist temptation, cope with difficulties and as children to be subject to parents.  While it may be useful to follow the example of the mortal Messiah as he subjected himself to the will of the Father and taught his disciples to do likewise, it is important to remember that the risen Christ who we worship is different from the mortal who learned line upon line and precept upon precept.  As a mortal, for example, Jesus prayed often.  As the risen Lord, perhaps he has not prayed in 2,000 years.  As a mortal, he counseled his followers to “be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” (Matt. 5:48) As the risen Lord speaking to the Nephites, however, he counseled us to first be like him, saying, “ye should be perfect even as I, or your Father who is in heaven is perfect.” (3 Nephi 12:48) Notice how in the second passage, with its singular verbs, he appears to be speaking of himself as both Father and Son.  Note also the use of or rather than and.

Also, in delivering the Sermon on the Mount during his mortal ministry, he never uses the words “come unto me.” But during a similar sermon as the risen Lord, he three times commands the Nephites to “come unto me.”  

Second, it is the dying Christ who saves us.  As Elder Jeffrey R. Holland stated, “It is the wounded Christ who is the captain of our soul.” (Ensign, November 1995) When Mormon tells his son Moroni to “keep the death and sufferings of Christ in your mind … forever,” (Moroni 9:25) he is reminding him that the living Christ has power to save only because the dying Christ conquered death and hell. “For us on Calvary’s cross he bled, And thus dispelled the awful gloom That else were this creation’s doom.”  (“While of These Emblems We Partake,” hymn 174.) See “The cross = victory” elsewhere on this site.

Third, the Christ who we worship is the living, risen God of the whole earth.  His disciples interacted differently with the mortal Jesus and the risen Lord.  During his ministry, they often had difficulty grasping his teachings, sometimes behaved in ways that showed lack of faith, and one of them betrayed him. But when the risen Lord appeared to them, Matthew and Luke tell us “they worshipped him.”  (Matt. 28: 17; Luke 24:52))  When the risen Lord appeared to the Nephites, “they did fall down at the feet of Jesus, and did worship him.” (3 Nephi 11:17) 

Is Christ God of Gods?

Elder Bruce R. McConkie wrote that Christ is the “God of Gods.” (Mormon Doctrine, p. 129), a concept that also is taught in the Bible (For the Lord your God is God of gods . . .  Deut. 10:17. Also, Daniel 2:47).  Whether this is true or not, it certainly is worth considering.

Let's begin by reminding ourselves that the Scriptures and modern prophets teach that worlds without number were created by Christ. (Moses 1:33, 35) There are at least three reasons to believe that Christ may be the Savior of all these worlds.  

First, Joseph Smith said so. Church publications and speakers credit the prophet with writing or co-writing the following poetic lines based on Doctrine and Covenants Section 76 verse 24: “By him, of him, and through him, the worlds were all made, Even all that careen in the heavens so broad. Whose inhabitants, too, from the first to the last, Are sav’d by the very same Saviour of ours.” (Italics added)

Second, in the Plan of Salvation, it was essential for Christ to die for our sins.  Apparently, he came as a mortal to this earth because the prospects of being killed were far better here than elsewhere.  As we read in Moses 7:36, this earth was the most wicked of all the worlds he had created. Moreover, even with all the wickedness on this earth, the Book of Mormon tells us there still was only a single nation here that would actually crucify him. (2 Nephi 10:3)  In other words, if Christ had lived on another world, the people would not have been wicked enough to crucify him, thereby frustrating the Plan of Salvation in all worlds.

Third, the words universal and infinite, which often are used to describe the Atonement, suggest that it has no bounds or limits. In other words, if the Atonement were limited only to this earthor only to the worlds that Christ createdit would have limits and, therefore, would be neither infinite nor boundless.  To say that the Atonement applies to our universe alone misconstrues the definitions of both infinite and universe.  The Atonement must apply to every person who has ever lived on this world or any other world and to any person who will ever live on this world or any other.  Otherwise, it is less than infinite.

The boundless nature of the Atonement is reflected in the fact that it was in force long before it occurred.  Early prophets knew that Christ would successfully atone for sin. Both the Old Testament and Book of Mormon teach that repentant sinners were receiving forgiveness thousands of years before Christ entered Gethsemane.  But the Atonement’s impact may go back much further.  If Christ indeed is the Savior of worlds, then his Atonement also would have been in force on worlds that existed before our 4-billion-year-old planet.  How do we know worlds existed before ours?  In the Pearl of Great Price, Christ tells Moses: “There are many worlds that have passed away by the word of my power.” (Moses 1:35)

We also get a glimpse of the boundless nature of the atonement in D&C 19 where Christ declares that Endless is my name (v. 10), then states I, God, have suffered these things for all . . . Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble
. . .  (vs. 16,17)

Furthermore, if Heavenly Father was indeed once a mortal and committed sins, it is reasonable to assume that the infinite and retroactive power of the Atonement of Christ also remitted his sins.  (LDS leaders have taught that the Father lived on an earth and apparently committed sins.  For example, Joseph Smith said that the Father is an exalted man, and Lorenzo Snow taught that as man is, God once was.”  Elder Bruce R. McConkie observed that the Father worked out his salvation by obedience to the same laws he has given us so that we may do the same.

We may need to expand our horizons (along with our capacity to speculate) when we consider Christ’s words: “Other sheep I have which are not of this fold.” The Lord’s Atonement may have redeemed all beings anywhere in the universe.  If so, it is hardly surprising that McConkie and the Old Testament would describe him as “God of Gods.”