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).

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 46 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 not found a real publisher in spite of good reviews.
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 fall short in properly appreciating Christ.

A prime of example is explained elsewhere on this site, wherein it is noted that the word God in the Scriptures more commonly refers to Christ than to God the Father. (See Who is God?)

Another example relates to why we should make a much better effort in explaining how Christ is both Father and Son.  If we did so, members would more easily recognize that often the God who speaks of his Son or of “mine Only Begotten” is actually Christ/Jehovah in his role as the Father referring to himself as the Son.  Furthermore, if we had a better understanding of Christ as Father and Son, we would cease teaching that Christ, in  doing God the Father's will, is effectively a lesser god functioning under the direction of his Father.  (See the section below titled Under the direction of . . . ?”) 

Elder Bruce R. 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).  While I would never argue that Elder McConkie's views are always gospel, how many members have even entertained the thought that Christ's place as our father is over and above Heavenly Father's?  And, as noted below, Christ qualifies as Father in seven ways.  Yes, I Am a Child of God is viewed in the Church as referring to God the Father, but it could just as easily refer to Christ. 

We correctly teach that Father and Son are separate beings, but in my lifetime I've attended only one Sunday class on the subject of how Christ also serves mankind as both Father and Son.  (I was the teacher of that September 2016 class of high priests; one of the perks of being an assistant to the group leader was that I was allowed to choose my own topic.)  The Scriptures provide much 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 Father or creator of the earth and numerous other worlds.  The Book of Mormon repeatedly 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 is the Father through divine investiture of authority, which gives him the right to speak and act as though he were literally God the Father.  Numerous passages of scripture seem to refer to the Father rather than Christ when, in fact, the “Father” or God being cited is the Son speaking and/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 God the Son/Jehovah 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 Scriptures teach that the premortal Christ is the father of the physical bodies of Adam and Eve and all others who dwell on earth.  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 Isaiah 44:24, 54:5, 64:8; Mosiah 26:23; 1 Nephi 17:36, etc.)  His creation of the physical bodies of Adam and Eve obviously is related to the fact that mortal bodies come from and return to the dust (or elements) of the earth, which he created. Therefore, Christ is the first father of our physical bodies.  Note:  A Feb. 10, 2020, letter to me from Brook P. Hales, secretary to the First Presidency, states that according to “the consistent teaching of Church leaders, God the Father is the father of Adam.”  At the conclusion of this essay, under “Christ created our  physical bodies,” I explain why I disagree.

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

Sixth, as the God who reigns over the whole 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 also infer from Mosiah 15:1-5 that as the mortal Christ grew, he became more as 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].  Speaking of this passage, the 2020 Come Follow Me manual, p. 71, offers the following: Because of this, Jesus Christ is both the Son of God and the perfect earthly representation of God the Father. (A more complete wording would have been: Because of this, Jesus Christ, our God, is also the Son of God and the perfect earthly representation of God the Father.”  Keep in mind that Mosiah 15:1 states: God himself shall comedown among the children  of men, and shall redeem his people. )  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.  It may somewhat be connected to the LDS conviction that to be a god, one must possess a resurrected body, be married and have children--none of which characterized the God (Jesus Christ) of the Old Testament.

Correct theology is to teach that Christ is the only 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” appears to refer 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 flow chart depicting celestial authority 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 below him and all mortals and those who have come to earth or will come to earth also below him. The tomorrow chart might show the Father and Son side by side, perhaps with other righteous, 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, I believe 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; Joshua 22:22).  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 kill 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 earth or to the worlds that Christ created or to the worlds in our realm of the universeit 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).

Furthermore, if Heavenly Father was indeed once a mortal child of two mortal parents (Lorenzo Snow taught that as man is, God once was”) and, unlike Christ, committed sins, it is reasonable to assume that the infinite and retroactive power of the foreordained Atonement of Christ also remitted his sins.  (LDS leaders have taught that the Father lived on an earth and apparently committed sins.  For example, 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.”  The mortal, sinless Christ, on the other hand, did not work out his salvation but was already a God and creator of worlds without number.

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 any so-called universe.  If so, it is hardly surprising that McConkie and the Old Testament would describe him as “God of Gods.”

Under the direction of . . . ?

We sometimes hear in the Church that Christ functions “under the direction of” the Father.  However, if Christ functions “under the direction of” someone else, that would constitute a stunning demotion for a being who is “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)  In a nutshell, if two beings are omniscient and possess the same mind and will, one would have no need to function under the direction of the other.

The confusion on this subject may be related to the numerous passages in which the risen Lord tells the Nephites that he is doing the Father’s will and that the Father “hath  commanded me.”  Let’s look more closely at these passages.

First, in his appearances to the Nephites (3 Nephi 11-28), it is quite clear that the Lord, although resurrected, continues to display characteristics of his mortal relationship with his Father.  For example, although Jesus tells the Nephites that he is God, rather than exercise the full powers of godhood, he still prays to the Father as though the veil remained between him and heaven.  It is quite likely that in doing so, he is continuing to act as the great Exemplar for mortals and is merely showing the Nephites how to approach the Father in prayer as he previously had done among the Jews.  In other words, his prayers were a teaching moment, as suggested by his words:  “Behold I am the light which ye shall hold up—that which ye have seen me do.  Behold ye see that I have prayed unto the Father, and ye all have witnessed”  (3 Nephi 18:24).

Second, the fact that Jesus among the Nephites is doing the will of the Father and doing as “the Father hath commanded me” is not the same as acting “under the direction” of the Father.  Instead, when he, the Lord God Almighty, carries out the will of his Father, he is simultaneously doing his own will.  This is exactly what we would expect from an omniscient being who possesses “all power” over the earth and who declares that he is both Father and Son (Ether 3:14).  Indeed, at the very end of the 18 Nephite chapters in which he says Father 154 times, Christ reminds us:  “I am even as the Father; and the Father and I are one”  (3 Nephi 28:10).

Third, when Jesus tells us in 3rd Nephi that he is doing the will of the Father, the term Father usually means himself in one of his roles as Father, as noted earlier in this essay.  Although Jesus often reminds the Nephites of the covenants of “the Father” with ancient Israel, Moses, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, etc., the Father who covenanted with ancient Israel was Jehovah, the premortal Jesus Christ.  As an example, in telling Nephi that on the morrow come I into the world, he states that he as the Father has revealed all things to mankind: I come unto my own, to fulfill all things which I have made known unto the children of men from the foundation of the world, and to do the will, both of the Father and of the Sonof the Father because of me, and of the Son because of my flesh (3 Nephi 1:13,14, italics added)  Another example:  In 3 Nephi 21:29, Jesus appears to be speaking of God the Father when he says, “And they shall go out from all nations, and they shall not go out in haste, nor go by flight, for I will  go before them, saith the Father, and I will be their rearward” (italics added).  But the Isaiah rendering of this passage makes it clear that “saith the Father” (a term Christ uses often in 3rd Nephi) actually refers to the God of Israel (Christ):  “For ye shall not go out with haste, nor go by flight; for the Lord will go before you; and the God of Israel will be your rereward” (Isaiah 52:12).

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; it's almost as though we could  picture a scene in which a worried Father reminds his earth-creating Son: “Don't forget to create the vegetation before the cattle, because we wouldn't want those poor critters to go hungry.”  Additionally, when we consider that LDS scripture says that Christ is the creator of worlds without number, to say that after billions of years he continues to create under the direction of someone else is to suggest that the Lord of the Universe is a slow learner.

Furthermore, if Christ after eons of time is acting under the direction of his Father, we are left to wonder whether his Father, who apparently was once a mere mortal (a sinner, unlike Jesus), remains under the direction of whatever God created him.  Call it the downline.


Christ created our physical bodies

As noted in the fourth point above under the heading “Christ is Father in 7 ways,” Jehovah/Christ created the physical bodies of Adam and Eve and of man on earth.  The First Presidency, however, currently (2021) believes that God the Father is not only the father of our spirits but is also the father of our physical bodies.  Church leaders say that several passages of Scripture, mainly from Moses, support this view.  But multiple passages also assert that it was Christ who created our bodies and all things.  Why the confusion?  Most likely, the Father’s “creation” of the earth and of our physical bodies is more about semantics than about an actual creation.  For example, a developer who drives past one of his housing developments might legitimately say, “I built those homes” when in reality he never set foot on the property.  In a similar way, the Father can technically say he created “all things,” including the bodies of Adam and Eve, but in reality he gave full authority to Christ (Moses 1:32), who actually performed the work of creation—a rather important distinction given the fact that authorizing someone to do something doesn’t amount to a hill of beans unless the work gets done.

However, let us assume that Church leaders are correct in saying that certain verses in the Pearl of Great Price do indeed point to God the Father creating the bodies of Adam and Eve.  Because those passages conflict with the clear teachings of the Book of Mormon on the subject, we are well-advised to keep in mind that these same leaders also teach that the Book of Mormon, not the Pearl of Great Price, is the most correct” of any book on earth.  Furthermore, the Pearl of Great Price provides more confusion than clarity on the subject.  It provides four scenarios for the creation: 1. that our bodies were created by the Father alone, 2. that they were created by Christ alone, 3. that they were jointly created by the Father and Christ, and 4. that they were created by the  Gods with outside help from many noble and great ones (Abraham 3:22).  Take your pick.

The confusion in Moses is exacerbated by the fact that beginning in verse one, the God who speaks to Moses from the burning bush about the creation and often mentions mine Only Begotten is not God the Fatherit is Jesus Christ.  Repeat: The God speaking throughout the Book of Moses is Jesus Christ.

There simply seems to be no good reason why Christ, the great Creator” of the Book of Mormon, would create the whole earth and its elementsincluding the perishable bodies of all other creatures that dwell on earth (Moses 2:21)but wouldn't create the equally perishable bodies of mortals (Moses 2:27).  After all, a human eaten by wolves is digested in exactly the same way as a deer eaten by wolves. 

The Feb. 10, 2020, First Presidency letter to me cited above included three pages of undated commentary by Elder Bruce R. McConkie asserting that God the Father created the physical bodies of Adam and Eve.  Elder McConkie’s case is built by creatively interpreting various passages of Scripture, omitting others and making strong declarations in support of a weak case in an essay titled “Did Christ Create Man?”  Yes, Elder McConkie deserves credit for years of research, speaking freely and generating great insight into LDS doctrine.  But “Did Christ Create Man?” belongs in the pile of theological malarkey that he also produced.

Rather than attempt at length to rebut Elder McConkie’s arguments, I will reference only a pivotal one.  He attempts to show that in the appearance of Jesus Christ to the brother of Jared (Ether 3) that our Lord is acting in his capacity as “Father and Son” and that we should, therefore, believe that Jesus is referring to the Father when he says, “ye are created after mine own image.”  (McConkie uses this conclusion to buttress similar thoughts regarding the teachings of Abinadi on the subject.)  Alas, any objective reader of Ether 3:9-21 will quickly see that Christ is speaking repeatedly of himself, not in his role as Father and Son, as the creator of man on earth.  McConkie uses an ellipsis to skip over Christ’s words “never have I showed myself unto man whom I have created” (italics added) and simply ignores the fact that when Christ frequently says I, me and my, he is clearly speaking as himself, not as his Father.  Indeed, Ether 3 is far superior to any other passage of scripture when it come to answering the question “Did Christ Create Man?”and its answer is an emphatic YES.

And, rather than citing the many passages ignored by Elder McConkie and others that clearly identify Christ as the creator of our bodies, I will reference only two: Behold, the Lord hath created the earth that it should be inhabited; and he hath created his children that they should possess it (1 Nephi 17:36  Verse 30 reveals to us that the Lord being referred to in 36 is not the Father but is the Lord their God, their Redeemer.).  Similarly, in Mosiah 27:30, Christ is identified as my Redeemer,” followed by he remembereth every creature of his creating.  

Other Church leaders cited in the First Presidency letter often use the term God as though it refers to Heavenly Father as creator when, in fact, it usually refers to the Son.  In Ether 3, the usage of God as a synonym for Jesus Christ occurs in verses 12, 18 and 20.  In the Church, we routinely misuse the term God.  (See “Who Is God?” on this site.)