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 44 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. (2018)
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.

Creation stories Teachings about the Creation tend to turn wobbly when they go beyond “God created the earth.”

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



Thursday, October 22, 2015

Who is God?



Latter-day Saints routinely use God as a synonym for Heavenly Father.  This usage is consistent with our Bible Dictionary, which notes that “when one speaks of God, it is generally the Father who is referred to.”  In referring to Jesus Christ, members use terms such as Lord, Savior, Redeemer, Son of God and Jehovah.  

In the Scriptures, however, the word God usually refers to Jesus Christ, not to the Father.  The message of the Book of Mormon, “the most correct of any book,” is emphatic:  Christ is God. 

In these last days, even before the Lord named his church, he declared: Behold, I am God.” (D&C 1:24)  If it is a good thing to call the church by the name Christ has given, surely it must also be a good thing to call Christ by the name (God) he has given himself.  Indeed, Alma states that embracing our Redeemer includes a willingness to confess that he is God.  (Mosiah 27:30, 31)  

Much confusion in the Christian world about the Trinity or Godhead would be eliminated if we all made a better effort to distinguish between two separate beings, God (Christ) and God the Father (Heavenly Father).  Moreover, recognizing that God in the Scriptures usually refers to Christ elevates our Lord to his true stature; namely, that he is the God who possesses all power over the earth and that we follow him.  He alone lifts us to exaltation.  He is the central focus of our worship, observed President Gordon B. Hinckley in April 2002.

Failure to routinely describe Christ as God suggests that we primarily think of him as the mortal Jesus rather than as the risen, glorified Lord who reigns as God over the earth.

Also, failure to describe Jesus Christ as God shows lack of understanding of the relationship among Father, Son and us.  Briefly stated, our relationship with the Father is significantly different from Christ’s relationship with him.  The Father is the God who lifted the Son to godhood.  Christ is the God who lifts us.

The earliest mentions of the word God in all four Standard Works connect the term to Christ, not to the Father.

In the Book of Mormon, even before we get to the first verse, we are told in the title page that JESUS is the CHRIST, the ETERNAL GOD, which are the only words in the title-page text that are entirely capitalized.  Verse one of the Bible says, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.”  (Christ was God the creator.)  The first words of the Pearl of Great Price are: “The words of God, which he spake unto Moses at a time when Moses was caught up into an exceedingly high mountain.  And he saw God face to face, and he talked with him . . . ”  (The God who spoke to Moses was Jehovah or Christ.)  And in Section One of the Doctrine and Covenants, Christ tells us three timesthree times!that he is GodGod the Lord, even the Savior of the world” (v. 20), “Behold, I am God” (v. 24) and “the Lord is God” (v. 39).  Let us not forget that Christ himself directed that Section One be placed first and that it is viewed as the Lord's preface to the book. How much clearer can it be that the God of the Scriptures from Page One is primarily Jesus Christ?

For Latter-day Saints, it should be especially noteworthy that the Book of Mormonthe keystone of our religionteaches from start to finish that Christ is God.  Seventeen examples follow:

“And also to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that JESUS is the CHRIST, the ETERNAL GOD . . . ”  (title page)

“there is one God and one Shepherd over all the earth.”  1 Nephi 13:41

the Lord their God, their Redeemer . . . loveth those who will have him to be their God.  1 Nephi 17:30,40

“For if there be no Christ there be no God; and if there be no God we are not, for there could have been no creation.  But there is a God, and he is Christ . . . ”  2 Nephi 11:7

“it must needs be that the Gentiles be convinced also that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God.”  2 Nephi 26:12

come unto God, the Holy One of Israel . . . I would that ye should come unto Christ, who is the Holy One of Israel . . . ” Omni 1:25,26

“Christ, the Lord God Omnipotent . . . is God above all.”  Mosiah 5:15

“And because he said unto them that Christ was the God, the Father of all things . . . and that God should come down among the children of men, and take upon him flesh and blood . . .”   Mosiah 7:27

“Teach them that redemption cometh through Christ the Lord, who is the very Eternal Father.” (Mosiah 16:15)

whosoever were desirous to take upon them the name of Christ, or of God, they did join the churches of God; and they were called the people of God.  Mosiah 25:23,24

“Is the Son of God the very Eternal Father? And Amulek said unto him: Yea, he is the very Eternal Father of heaven and earth . . . ”  Alma 11:38, 39

And behold, he is God, and he is with them, and he did manifest himself unto them, that they were redeemed by him; and they gave unto him glory . . .  Helaman 8:23

“I am the God of Israel, and the God of the whole Earth, and have been slain for the sins of the world.”  3 Nephi 11:14

“thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel—the God of the whole earth shall he be called.”  3 Nephi 22:5

“that Jesus, whom they slew, was the very Christ and the very God.”  Mormon 3:21

Behold, I am Jesus Christ . . . And he ministered unto him even as he  ministered unto the Nephites; and all this, that this man might know that he was God  Ether 3:14, 18

Listen to the words of Christ, your Redeemer, your Lord and your God.” Moroni 8:8

It is helpful for disciples of Christ to distinguish among the three contexts in which the Scriptures use the term God.

First, as the PREMORTAL Lord God or Jehovah, the first commandment that God (Christ) gives to Moses refers to himself: Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

Second, as a MORTAL, Jesus Christ sometimes is referred to as God (Isaiah 25:8,9; Mosiah 15:1; Helaman 8:20,23), but usually writers of scripture, the early apostles and the Lord himself call him Jesus, Lord or other names while describing the Father as God.  This is especially true in the New Testament.  However, even in the New Testament the first mention of God is a reference to Jesus (they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. Matthew 1:23).  Nearly always, the New Testament use of the term God is a shortened way of saying God the Father. 

Third, as the POSTMORTAL risen Lord, he proclaims, Behold, I am God” (D&C 1:24).  The risen Lord is the God who reigns over the earth, is the central focus of our worship and possesses all power” over mortals.  (Matt. 28:18; D&C 19:3, 93:17; 1 Nephi 9:6, Alma 26:35, Ether 3:4. etc.). 

After Adam and Eve left the Garden, believers worshiped and prayed to Yahweh/Jehovah/God.   When Jehovah was born into mortality as Jesus Christ, the relationship between God (Christ) and man changedbut only for 33 years.  As a mortal a little lower than the angels, Jesus learned line upon line and obviously did not  pray to himself.  We can assume, therefore, that during these years it was the Father who acted as God over the earth and who answered prayers.  Today, however, in correctly teaching that the risen Lord is our God and answers prayers, it makes no difference that Jesus in referring to Heavenly Father spoke, for example, of ascending to my God and your God because your God was a temporary designation.  It remained in effect only for the time it took him to bid adieu to his disciples and rise to heaven, where your God for mortals again became Christ himselfas it has been for the other 6,000 years (or 99.5 percent of the time) since the Fall. 

What are we to make of such words from Jesus himself as “this is life eternal to know thee the only true God and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent”? (John 17:3, italics added)  First, this verse is spoken from the temporary perspective of a learning, praying, mortal Messiah; second, two verses later Jesus speaks of returning to his former glory, a glory apparently equivalent to that of the Father: “glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was,” and third, whether considering this passage or passages from elsewhere in scripture, we must remember that the vast preponderance of scriptures uses God to refer to Christ. An example cited earlier:  King Benjamin observes that “Christ, the Lord God Omnipotent . . . is God above all.”  (Mosiah 5:15)

Similarly, when the Lord visited America, he provided an example for the Nephites by continuing to humbly pray, to display obedience and to show reverence toward God the Father, just as he had done in the Old World.  However, his departure from the Nephites signaled the end of his short mission as the praying, kneeling, learning Jesus and allowed him to return to his I am the Father and the Son” stature (Ether 3:14; see Appreciating Christ on this site) and to fully reclaim his mantle of the Lord your God, even Jesus Christ, the Great I Am, Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the same which looked upon the wide expanse of eternity, and all the seraphic hosts of heaven before the world was made; the same which knoweth all things, for all things are present before mine eyes (D&C 38:1,2). 

Until the Lord's Prayer, the faithful had seldom prayed to Heavenly Father; instead, they almost always had prayed to God (i.e., Jehovah, the Lord God and various other titles for Christ).  If we taught that Christ acts and speaks as the Father, we would more easily understand that although we pray to God the Father, who hears prayers, Christ (God) both hears and answers them.  Mormon clearly understood this.  In Moroni 8:3, he speaks of continually praying unto God the Father while making it clear four verses later that a prayer addressed to the God the Father is also a prayer addressed to God (Christ) and that Christ both hears and answers: I inquired of the Lord concerning the matter. And the word of the Lord came to me by the power of the  Holy Ghost, saying: Listen to the words of Christ, your Redeemer, your Lord and your God.

As Elder Bruce R. McConkie wrote in the 1976 Ensign“It is true that when we pray to the Father, the answer comes from the Son.”  Elder McConkie noted that whenever Joseph Smith asked the Father, in the name of the Son, for answers to questions, “the answering voice was not that of the Father but of the Son.” This is hardly surprising because there is no record of the Father dealing directly with man except to bear witness of the Son.  Answering prayers is exactly what we would expect from the Christ who declares at my command the heavens are opened and are shut; and at my word the earth shall shake; and at my command the inhabitants thereof shall pass away. (Ether 4: 9) The song In Humility, Our Savior, correctly states our prayer relationship with Christ: Let our prayers find access to thee in thy holy courts above.

For members who suggest that the first Article of Faith (We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in his Son Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.) means that we should refer to the Father, rather than Jesus, as God, here is a thought:  In the remaining Articles of Faith, the term God primarily applies to Christ.  In the fifth article, the God who calls man and gives authority in The Church of Jesus Christ is always Christ (See Mosiah 18:17,18).  In the ninth article, God the revelator is always Christ, as Elder McConkie notes above.  And Almighty God in the eleventh article is a scriptural term that applies primarily to Jehovah/Christ: And I appeared  unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name JEHOVAH was I not known unto them.  (Exodus 6:3 Also: Isaiah 9:6; 2 Nephi  28:15; Mosiah 3:17,18,21; Moses 1:3, etc.) 

A rather intriguing aspect of recognizing that Christ is God and rules and reigns over the earth is that by doing so, we may also come to better appreciate God the Father (about whom little has been revealed) because I am even as the Father; and the Father and I are one. (3 Nephi 28:10) 

Joseph Smith’s First Vision is the only scriptural record of the Father appearing to man and is an excellent teaching moment because the Father does something with great symbolic meaning—he points to Christ as he says, “This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!” The message is not only for Joseph Smith to look to Christ, it is for the whole world to look to him.  To Joseph Smith, the centrality of Christ in the First Vision was so clear-cut that in his brief first written account of it, he mentioned only Christ.

Christ glorifies the Father and the Father glorifies the Son.  But the will of the Father is for us to come unto Christ: whosoever will not repent and come unto my Beloved Son, them will I cut off . . . ” (3 Nephi 21:20)  In other words, a key reason why we should place Christ first and foremost in our lives and recognize that he is our God is that by doing so, we obey the Father.  The Nephites seemed to fully grasp this concept:  “We talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.” (2 Nephi 25:26)

Elder Neal A. Maxwell said, “It is all so wondrously Christ-centered. Whether in the structure of the atom or of the galaxies, or in the truths about temples and families, for those who have eyes to see, all things . . . are designed to point us to Christ, typifying Him, so that we might follow Him, have faith in Him, and keep His commandments.” (April 1986 General Conference; see also Alma 34:14)

Elder Maxwell also said, “One cannot have adequate faith in a Christ whom he does not adequately know.”  We certainly do not adequately know Christ unless we recognize that throughout our mortality, into the spirit world and until we are resurrected, he is our God and possesses all power over us.

In the church, our grasp of the term God hasn't been firm.  Our first three church presidents, Joseph Smith, Brigham Young and John Taylor, consistently and incorrectly taught that Jehovah was God the Father.  Moreover, Brigham Young asserted on multiple occasions that God the Father was Adam.  With this track record, it behooves us to make an extra effort today to get it right in our use of the term God.

Conclusion

It is always correct to refer to God the Father first when we speak of the Father and Son. He is the heavenly parent of us all.  We love him and address him in prayer.  Although the Son is the central focus of our worship, we also worship the Father.  We seek to dwell again with him.  But the Father has placed Christ as the God who rules and reigns over the earth and “hath given all things into his hand” (John 3:35).  He both hears and answers prayers.  As our God, the risen Lord instructs mortals to “look unto me in every thought” (D&C 6:36) and that we are “subject unto him” (2 Nephi 9:5).  For us, when the term God stands alone, it generally means Christ in his roles as Father, Son or both.  He is our advocate and our judge.  In him alone resides the fullness of the Godhead and all power over us. He alone is the giver of eternal life.

The message of the Book of Mormon and other scriptures that Christ is God is well worth understanding, appreciating and sharing.

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