The Privilege to Worship What They May

On the “Before God Was God” thread here on Mormon Coffee a Latter-day Saint has been defending his position that Mormonism is not polytheistic. The core of his argument resides in his definition of “polytheism,” which he defines as the worship of more than one God. He posits that Latter-day Saints worship only Heavenly Father; they do not worship any other Gods. I asked him about the worship of Jesus Christ and provided two supporting statements made by late LDS prophet Gordon B. Hinckley:

“We honor Him, we worship Him, we love Him as our Redeemer, the great Jehovah of the Old Testament, the Messiah of the New Testament.” (”A Testimony of the Son of God,” Ensign, 12/2002 p. 4)

“He is the central focus of our worship. He is the Son of the living God, the Firstborn of the Father, the Only Begotten in the flesh…” (”We Look to Christ,” Ensign, 5/2002 p. 90)

If Mormons worship Heavenly Father (one God) and Jesus Christ (a second God), they would be polytheists according to our Mormon friend’s definition. He responded,

“As for President Hinckley’s comment, i do not agree with his use of the word ‘worship’, and this may be just an argument of semantic, which is prevalent on this board. However, as a mormon, i and we only pray TO Our Heavenly Father. Though your quote has minor merit, it is hardly a statement of doctrine. It is hardly a revelation that any religious doctrine may have a verse, statement, or idea that is an inconsistency or contradiction. Even as a prophet, man is not, and never can be, perfect.”

This raises all sorts of issues, not the least of which being the idea that the LDS prophet was wrong about something so basic and important as who members of the “Only True Church” worship. But the question that interests me at the moment is whether or not Mormonism promotes the worship of Jesus Christ.

Worship by Celestial PhotographyWorship of Christ as God is and has always been at the core of Christianity. From His birth (Matthew 2) to His resurrection (Matthew 28) to His triumphant return (Revelation 22), Jesus Christ is to be worshipped.

Yet Mormons disagree about whether they do or ought to worship Christ. On May 2nd (2008) the Mormon Insights blog discussed this question. “Do Mormons Worship Jesus?” LDS blogger S. Faux asked. The answer is long — and complicated.

After providing four sample quotes from the March 2008 Ensign magazine stating that Mormons do worship Christ, and providing several references from LDS scriptures that state Mormons worship the Father “in the name of Christ,” S. Faux demonstrates how LDS Apostle Bruce McConkie introduced confusion on the issue when he taught,

“We worship the Father and him only and no one else.

“We do not worship the Son, and we do not worship the Holy Ghost. I know perfectly well what the scriptures say about worshipping Christ and Jehovah, but they are speaking in an entirely different sense–the sense of standing in awe and being reverentially grateful to him who has redeemed us. Worship in the true and saving sense is reserved for God the first, the Creator.” (BYU Devotional, March 2, 1982)

But in his book Mormon Doctrine, Mr. McConkie wrote:

“The Father and the Son are the objects of all true worship. ‘Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.’ (Matt. 4:10; Luke 4:8; Ex. 34:14; Mosiah 18:25; D. & C. 20:17-19.) No one can worship the Father without also worshiping the Son. ‘All men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him.’ (John 5:23.) It is proper to worship the Father, in the name of the Son, and also to worship the Son.” (page 848)

S. Faux doesn’t accept Bruce McConkie’s idea that the worship Mormons offer to Jesus is somehow a lower form of worship than that offered to the Father. Indeed, there doesn’t seem to be any LDS support for that apart from Mr. McConkie. Yet some Mormons subscribe to that notion as they attempt to support their claim of monotheism by insisting Latter-day Saints worship only one God — in the face of evidence to the contrary.

It seems that Mormons are on the horns of a dilemma. Their faith requires either:

a) Monotheistic worship of the Father alone (at the exclusion of worshiping the Son); or
b) Polytheistic worship of both the Father and the Son.

Either way Mormonism is way outside the boundaries of historic, biblical Christianity.

I don’t know which is of more concern — that Mormons might not worship Christ, or that they don’t know if they worship Christ.

Christian Pastor John Piper once noted,

” This is God’s design…His aim is that the nations — all the nations (Matthew 24:14) — worship His Son. This is God’s will for everybody in your office at work, and in your neighborhood and in your home. As John 4:23 says, ‘Such the Father seeks to worship Him.’ At the beginning of Matthew we still have a ‘come-see’ pattern. But at the end the pattern is ‘go-tell.’ The magi came and saw. We are to go and tell. But what is not different is that the purpose of God is the ingathering of the nations to worship His Son. The magnifying of Christ in the white-hot worship of all nations, the reason the world exists.”

One day all will know, without question, that Jesus Christ is worthy of worship, for “God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11).

Come before the King of kings now — and worship Him.

About Sharon Lindbloom

Sharon surrendered her life to the Lord Jesus Christ in 1979. Deeply passionate about Truth, Sharon loves serving as a full-time volunteer research associate with Mormonism Research Ministry. Sharon and her husband live in Minnesota.
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55 Responses to The Privilege to Worship What They May

  1. Michael P says:

    Sharon, this is a great piece, and I look forward to the discussion.

    To me, it is clear they are indeed polytheistic, and their denial baffles me. Some reluctantly admit there are aspects of it within their faith, yet never fully claim the title.

    The defense always seems to shift, and it is nearly impossible to get them to settle on an answer.

    But anyway, thank you for posting, and I hope discussion is fruitful!

  2. falcon says:

    Well Sharon,
    The problem with Mormonism is it doesn’t have a systematic theology, and is proud of it. That’s why it is called the Maze of Mormonism. Christian denomonations have different perspectives on various issues but Christians agree on the big ticket items and articulate it in a systematic way. Mormons, within their own body, can’t even come to an agreement on such a basic notion as “who do we worship”. What’s the point of having a so called prophet, if he can’t even make a proclamaiton regarding such a fundamental issue as this? So Mormons are stuck. If they say they worship Jesus and Heavenly Father, then they are indeed polytheists because they regard them each as a separate god. If they don’t worship Jesus, then they don’t have a clue who He is, which I would say they don’t anyway.

  3. Afton_RC says:

    Thank you Sharon for this site.

    Many years ago I lived in an area of 98% LDS, I am a RC. One special family taught me much of what I know about their religion and asked much about mine. I went to their services and we even went to Mass at the Cathedral in SLC.

    I think if your site was available back then, it would have been instrumental of them looking more seriously into another religion. They were seaching.

  4. Rick B says:

    I guess the LDS either do not read the Bible or dont fully trust it, as they have admited as much, but the Bible tells me we are to go through Jesus to get to the father. It does not teach, we simply by pass the son. So we do need to and must worship the Son. So if LDS agree with Scripture, then they will worship the father and Son, hence they worship two gods, or they skip the son and only worship one God, yet then they deny scripture. Rick b

  5. traveler says:

    So according to LDS doctrine (which, I might very well misunderstand) if G*d was once a man – then who did G*d worship when G*d was mortal?

    Why not just ‘skip the middleman’ and worship THAT deity?

    T

  6. Anitap says:

    Traveler, you made a very good point. For that matter, how do Mormons know that there is not a bigger, more powerful “God” out there that will come and destroy their “God’s” world (and them with it)? If you want to believe in more than one God, then isn’t this a possibility? After all, Mormons are continually saying that there is so much we don’t know about God and his ways.

  7. Just for Quix says:

    Personally, I think henotheism is a more appropriate term and line of criticism than polytheism, given that on the monotheistic front LDS can make a pretty good dodge and glide (if they choose to) for social monotheism / trinitarianism.

  8. iamse7en says:

    I’m sorry, this is a very silly discussion! Of course we worship the Father AND the Son, and this LDS fellow was wrong in saying that LDS individuals worship the Father, and do not worship the Son. You mainstream Christians also worship the Father and the Son, only you say the Father and the Son are one being, therefore you worship “one being.”

    This really comes down to whether the Godhead is one being or three physically separate (but one in every other sense of the word) beings. A child, while reading the Bible, will see it’s quite clear that when Jesus is praying to his Father, he is speaking with a totally separate being, or when it says Jesus is the Son of God, the child will believe that he IS the SON of God, therefore a separate being. But because He is his literal son, he has the very power/authority of God within him.

    The Bible is quite clear that Jesus and His Father are separate beings, and Mormons will win this battle every time. You may bring out your silly analogies about the egg (shell, white, yolk, yet one egg), but when one simply reads the Baptism of Jesus, the Son is coming out of the water, the Father speaks from Heaven, and the Holy Ghost descends… It is crystal clear.

    But, you say, the scriptures say they are ONE. Exactly. And what does ONE mean? Well the very scriptures tell us! John 17, where Jesus prays TO HIS FATHER, in behalf of the Apostles, and those that believe their words, that they (believers) “may be one, even as we are one” (John 17:20-22). What’s that? If you think ONE means being one physical being, then Jesus wants believers to be one physical being? That sure as heaven doesn’t make any sense. No, he wants the believers to be one, or in total spiritual union of love, purpose, and doctrine, just as he is with the Father! I’m sorry, but it just doesn’t get any clearer than that.

    It is obvious that the mainstream view of the ‘Trinity,’ ‘Godhead,’ or whatever you want to call it, is NOT biblical.

  9. Just for Quix says:

    iamse7en:

    I recommend you roll up your sleeves, read the Bible, and study up on the history behind trinitarianism and the heresies Sabellianism / modalism and Arianism. Christians accept, and have accepted since the earliest days the Biblical teachings — which early Pauline writings affirm — and doctrine of the Trinity:

    1. Father, Son and Holy Spirit are three distinct persons
    2. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are each fully God
    3. There is _only one eternal God_. (one essence – Greek: homoousian; one substance – Greek: hypostasis)

    Trinitarian doctrine (the unifying word), the later added Comma Johanneum notwithstanding (1 John 5:7–8 — so much for KJV being the most correct translation *wink*), was an attempt to affirm an abstract way to express these three paradoxical but completely biblical teachings about God’s Nature into one affirming Truth, especially to stand boldly against heretical doctrines. The fact that the term “trinity” doesn’t appear in the Bible is a non-issue; these affirmed paradoxical doctrines are all quite real and present.

    If you wish to understand why Christians accept Trinitarian doctrine, I invite you, first. to trust and respect the Bible. Then let these doctrines invite your heart to relish in the power and mystery of God (which He affirms repeatedly about Himself) rather than rationalise your conception of God into a doctrine of casting Him into a more constrained image of humanity — indeed an idol of our own choosing and creation. LDS Godhead-ism and LDS henotheism is not clearer, accurate nor more scriptural.

  10. Brian says:

    Dear Sharon,

    What a well-written article you have shared with us.

    In my experience, the statement “Jesus Christ is God” would tend to surprise people who are LDS. And since worship is reserved for God alone, LDS people would tend to struggle with the question of whether they are to worship Christ.

    I was struck by the quotes you shared, such as:

    1) “We do not worship the Son.”
    2) “It is proper … to worship the Son.”

    It is interesting that a prominent LDS scholar would be confused about a tenet as basic as who is to be worshiped.

    In the first chapter of Colossians, verse 15, Jesus Christ is described as “the image of the invisible God.”

    In John 12:45, Jesus tells those around him that “When he looks at me, he sees the one who sent me.”

    In the Gospels, Jesus Christ received the worship of his creation. Those who do not know who Jesus Christ is would be unlikely to worship him.

  11. oceancoast says:

    I think some confusion here comes from the word Worship. Do LDS Worship the Jesus.. Maybe indirectly, but I think a very important point to see is that LDS Pray to the Father not the Son, yet we indirectly worship the Son, it’s through the Son that we have access to the Father.

  12. fourpointer says:

    iamse7en,

    I believe you have misunderstood the orthodox view of the Trinity. You refer to the “egg analogy” and dismiss it as “silly.” I would offer you a better analogy. Consider a river.

    It begins at a lake, or some other body of water. It ends when it empties into the sea. Yet if you look at the lake, river and sea they are all, truly, ONE body–one continuous body, with no real distinction between where one ends and the other begins. The water in the lake is the same water that is in the river that is the same water that is in the sea. Each of the three is of the same nature and substance as the others. This is much like the orthodox Trinity. The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are of the same nature and substance, yet are distinguished from one another.

    We know from the reactions of the Pharisees that Jesus was equating Himself with the Father in John 10:33. The Jews answered Him, saying, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God.” You and I both know that when they said, “You, being a man, make yourself God” that they were talking about Jesus equating Himself with the Father. And what was Jesus’ reaction? Did He say, “No, no, no. You’ve got it all wrong! I’m not God!” No. He answered by quoting Psalm 82, indicating to them that (Big G) God was in the midst of (little g) gods. Same with John 8:58-59. They knew Jesus was calling Himslef God (not “a god”).

    Now, “A child, while reading the Bible, will see it’s quite clear that when Jesus is praying to his Father, he is speaking with a totally separate being…” Of course, it would also appear clear to that child that we should nail two boards together and carry it around with us everywhere we go (see Luke 14:27).

  13. oceancoast says:

    I think your analogy of the Trinity is nice but falls short. The water appears to be one body but in reality it’s not.. A molecule of water in the river is NOT a molecule of water in the Sea.. They are separate and distinct.

    Then again, you analogy would apply to Humans as well. We all posses the same DNA.. Handed down over time.. So in reality we are all made of the same substance and nature but we are separate and distinct.

    The Trinity Doctrine is a Paradoxical doctrine. A 4th century attempt to reconcile seemingly polytheistic Christianity with Monotheistic Jewish culture.

  14. Lautensack says:

    iamse7en,
    First God is not a physical being, God is spirit. You must first prove that God is not spirit but flesh and bones or you have absolutely no grounds to stand, as your entire argument is based upon the supposition that God is physical. Second your analogy from reading the bible as a child is a flawed argument as the Apostle Paul writes “when I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.” and “Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature.” Thus we are not to remain in a state of stupor, but are to be mature in our thinking. Finally as to John 17, Jesus High Priestly Prayer, could it not be that Jesus is speaking of the unity of the Church, just as Paul explains that we are the Body of Christ? Furthermore Jesus Christ’s prayer to His Father is a prayer that the disciples may have perfect unity in the Church just as Jesus Christ and the Father are in a perfect unity in the One True God.

    Lautensack

  15. Arthur Sido says:

    The problem with Trinitarian arguments that start with “The Trinity is like…”, is that the Triune God is like nothing on earth. Every comparison fals short and kind of adds to confusion. It simply is because it is who God is, Father, Son and Holy Spirit is revealed as in the Bible.

    Even if mormons only actively worship one god, they recognize the existance of other gods that are on par with or even superior to the God of the Bible, and though they may not pray to those other gods, they are given the same status.

  16. Ralph says:

    Worship means many things from showing love and respect towards someone/thing, to bowing down and praying to someone/thing (look up an online dictionary). Yes, LDS regard Heavenly Father, Jesus and the Holy Ghost as Gods, we show love and respect and reverence to all of them. But we give the glory to Heavenly Father and we place Heavenly Father far above everyone/thing else as our God (or to quote the Bible “God of gods”).

    Fourpointer, the water in the ocean is totally different from the water in a river and lake. It is highly saline and there is a zone in the lower river (estuary) where a change over takes place. So it’s not as continuous as you think.

    I have said it in past blogs, the Harper’s Bible Dictionary states that the Trinity described in the 4th and 5th century creeds is not found in the Bible. Yes Lautensack, I know you have copied it out on another page and say that it actually says different. But if you read it carefully it is a dictionary entry – it is neutral, just stating the facts. It states that the Trinity as described is not found in the Bible. It explains that it most likely evolved from early Christian thoughts. Then it goes on to say that people justify their belief in a Trinity by using these scriptures, but the whole article is neither for nor against a belief in a Trinity.

    I looked up the BSL website and this is what they say about their members – ”The Society of Biblical Literature is the oldest and largest international scholarly membership organization in the field of biblical studies. Founded in 1880, the Society has grown to over 8,500 international members including teachers, students, religious leaders and individuals from all walks of life who share a mutual interest in the critical investigation of the Bible.” (emphasis mine). Although I cannot find if there are any non-believers in it there is reference to possible. Regardless, to support a Trinity would be against their ideals (see their website).

  17. Lautensack says:

    Ralph, were back on this I agree this is a neutral dictionary stating the facts. There is nothing in the entire entry that suggests that this is an evolving doctrine that is not in scripture rather the very paragraph you cite is the very same passage that states the Trinitarian formula is found in scripture. Again I will quote the cited part.

    The formal doctrine of the Trinity as it was defined by the great church councils of the fourth and fifth centuries is not to be found in the NT . Nevertheless, the discussion above and especially the presence of trinitarian formulas in 2 Cor. 13:14 (which is strikingly early) and Matt. 28:19 indicate that the origin of this mode of thought may be found very early in Christian history.

    I encourage anyone who thinks the Trinity is an invention of the 4th or 5th century, I suggest you read Ignatius, Polycarp, Justin, Irenaeus, Athenagoras, Tertullian, Origin, Dionysius of Alexandria, et cetera. These men all lived prior to the fourth century.

    As to the Society of Biblical Literature could you please cite where the organization, not simply a member, is anti- or Non-Trinitarian. If such is the case then regrettably it has fallen from what Phillip Schaff started it as. Yet if it has, since membership is open to the public, you and I could both join, you could submit an anti-trinitarian essay and I one proclaiming the God of the Bible to be Triune, and both could get published, assuming they were well written.

    Lautensack

  18. David says:

    If one’s theology is going to be theo-centric then it does not matter so much as to which god a particular human worships, but rather how many “gods” are worthy of true worship (even by beings other than humans). God the grandfather and God the Uncle are worthy of worship in Mormonism (just not by us here on earth), therefore I would call the cosmology of Mormonism “polytheistic”.

    Consider . . . if Mormons here worship (a) God here on earth will they continue to do so in exaltation? If so, then does Elohim continue to worship his Father-God? Doesn’t this idea denigrate the very idea of worship?

    iamse7en you wrote – “The Bible is quite clear that Jesus and His Father are separate beings, and Mormons will win this battle every time.” . . . Unless you were in the 1st century (B.C. or A.D. take your pick) and then there would not even be a battle.

    Many here can, and probably will (this is shaping up to be a long thread), battle with you on the proper interpretation of your chosen scripture as well as others. But let it be known that the Monotheism present in Christianity goes way way back . . . back to Jesus Himself. Show me where any group of Jews or Christians took the view of the Godhead that modern day latter-day saints take. It does not exist until the 19th century; it is a new thing, not “the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.” It definitely is not a “restored gospel”.

    traveler,

    In Mormon cosmology there is an infinite progression and regresssion of gods. This idea has not been completely hammered out in Mormon theology but it should/could weigh heavily in this thread. You and I are potential gods. Our God was not always a god, and our kids can become gods of their own people. In that way, the cosmos (the laws of eternal Mormonism) could more accurately be called God (capital G; compare to Brahman in Hinduisms). BTW are you of semitic origin?

  19. David says:

    “I encourage anyone who thinks the Trinity is an invention of the 4th or 5th century, I suggest you read Ignatius, Polycarp, Justin, Irenaeus, Athenagoras, Tertullian, Origin, Dionysius of Alexandria, et cetera. These men all lived prior to the fourth century.”

    Word to Bigbird.

  20. oceancoast says:

    Yes, read those Early church fathers.. You won’t find the Trinity doctrine there. Yes some of them used the term “TRINITY” in the 2nd to 3rd Century, in fact that is the first time we find the usage of the term, but there is NO definition of what that meant other than the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. They could just have well been meaning a Triune Godhead as LDS believe. In fact there is some instances where the context seems to suggests just that. Even in the 4th Century there wasn’t a clear consensus of the doctrine. Hence the councils and the creeds. Simple reasoning will tell you that if the doctrine was so clear and un-disputed there would have been NO NEED FOR THE CREED.

  21. Jacob5 says:

    I found some interesting rules that some gave for religious understanding. I find them very simple and helpful.
    (1) When you are trying to understand another religion, you should ask the adherents of that religion and not its enemies; (2) don’t compare your best to their worst; and (3) leave room for “holy envy” by finding elements in other faiths to emulate.
    I wonder how many in this forum can accept them and how many reject them. Try making up your mind about them before seeing who said them.

  22. Lautensack says:

    Oceancoast,
    The anti-niece fathers don’t teach the doctrine of the trinity? Is your hatred for God that great that you even deny non-scriptural references to Him? Furthermore if say, Ignatius taught that Jesus is our God, there is only one God, and Jesus is both God and Man, God the Father is Jesus’ Father, would that not be teaching both God as Trinity and the hyper-static union of Jesus? Furthermore do you even understand at all why any creed or confession was formally written? Only after what was formerly believed on faith is challenged, and the scriptures were searched was anything “formalized,” thus it is to protect from heresy that we plainly write what the bible teaches, that we might avoid those who would cause divisions teaching doctrine contrary to the truth. (Romans 16:17-18)

    Jacob5,
    1)Is the same true of all aspects of life, when I want to understand child molestation I should only ask those who adhere to such practices? How about a Cannon Sex Cult that performs Child Sacrifice, should I only ask its members what that is about? Clearly we must get information from both insiders and outsiders. Also do you truly believe that the Christians on this site have not learned of Mormonism first from Mormons? 2)I am pretty sure we are not comparing members but doctrine, and key ones at that you know, the very nature of God. Though I do agree with this point. 3)Out of respect for God I must not join that which is pure to a prostitute. Likewise I must not “emulate” elements of false religions, in fact to do so would be sin. This does not mean I disrespect you as a person. Thus your three points should be modified to say:
    (1) When you are trying to understand another religion, you should ask both the adherents of that religion and those critical of it; (2) don’t compare your best to their worst, but their best to your best; and (3) even though others differ in belief, respectfully disagree, but do not try to synchronize two radically different faiths.

    Lautensack

  23. oceancoast says:

    Also, I take exception to the use of Polytheism to describe LDS Godhead. Even if it were technically correct , the usage here is with the intent to demean or distract from the true nature of LDS Doctrine and try to associate it with pagan pantheons which it is nothing of the sort. In fact the LDS Godhead doctrine is not much different then the Trinity doctrine which is really Quasi -Polytheistic itself.. One only needs to read the creeds to see that.

  24. oceancoast says:

    Lautensack,

    No hatred for God whatsoever! Since when is not accepting the Trinity Doctrine hatred for God?

  25. David says:

    oceancoast,

    If you were only arguing against the classic Trinity then your job would be slightly easier, but you must also argue for Mormon tri-theism. I submit that there is no non-Mormon, scholar or otherwise, who has spent any serious time with the ECF’s that will take away a Mormon Godhead or cosmology from their writings. It is an invention of the 19th century.

    This is the real point of contention in our theologies isn’t it? Both claim to be the historic faith of Jesus that was taught to the 12 apostles. Both believe that the NT church was indeed a true church. Your side claims that the 1st century A.D. church looked like your faith but later fell into complete apostasy. Let the reader search biblical and non-biblical writings of the first three centuries of the first millennium. If one does not find Mormonism anywhere or signs of a complete apostasy then it would seem like the claims of Joseph Smith are hollow.

    There is a great irony between Muslims and Mormons on the Trinity issue. Both claim a corruption of the true faith. Muslims allege that pagan influence gave rise to the Trinity by introducing polytheism to monotheism. Mormons claim that platonic minded men could not handle a lesser deity among several deities and therefore invented an omnipotent God who alone created the universe by fiat. Both groups say the corrupting influence on original Christianity was Greek philosophy.

    Jacob5, I think I already know who came up with those rules and I don’t really like the guy(s). I don’t like rule #1, or at least its wording. The fact that I attribute all three to Bob Millet/Greg Johnson does not help them either.

  26. S.Faux says:

    Sharon, thanks for your citation of my blog. However, I assure you that if my answer was too long and too complicated, then I am entirely at fault. I am a very wordy blogger, I guess. ;)

    As to your concern that Mormons are NOT monotheists, please remember that Jesus while on earth was considered blasphemous for claiming to be merely “the son of God.” Such a claim, I am sure, seemed polytheistic to the Pharisees and Sadducees.

    Further, traditional Christians today are NOT considered to be true or pure monotheists by Orthodox Jews.

    So, I would conclude it is easy to mischaracterize other religions outside of one’s own faith.

    If you think the Mormon Godhead is too long, too many, and too complicated, then welcome us to the club. The Nicene Creed and its modern-day cousins are NOT exactly simple by any stretch of the imagination.

    But, look, can Mormons learn from you? I hope so. At the same time, it would be a mistake to simply castigate Mormon theology while ignoring its insights.

    I welcome respectful comments, questions, and criticisms on my page. I am a teacher, and I am all for learning, especially within myself. But, remember, truth travels in two directions.

    Best wishes…

  27. Lautensack says:

    oceancoast said, No hatred for God whatsoever! Since when is not accepting the Trinity Doctrine hatred for God?

    The Apostle Paul said, For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things…And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. (emphasis mine)

    I’m going to go with Paul and say yes, that rejecting God in the way that He has revealed Himself in Holy Scripture, and nature, as Triune, means that you are a hater of God.

    Lautensack

  28. Sharon Lindbloom says:

    Sharon, thanks for your citation of my blog. However, I assure you that if my answer was too long and too complicated, then I am entirely at fault. I am a very wordy blogger, I guess.

    Sorry to have given the wrong impression. Saying the answer was long and complicated was meant as an observation, not a criticism. Far be it from me to criticize wordy bloggers!

    Thanks for adding to the conversation here.

  29. Jerry Holt says:

    I think the real question here is
    “Did Jesus accept worship while He was here on earth?”

    John 9:38 And he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshiped him.

    John 20:28 And Thomas answered and said unto him, My LORD and my God.

    YES, Jesus did accept worship.

  30. JamesN says:

    Lautensack,
    ” I’m going to go with Paul and say yes, that rejecting God in the way that He has revealed Himself in Holy Scripture, and nature, as Triune, means that you are a hater of God.”

    In you citation of Paul, you make a huge leap here to say that if one doesn’t accept the Trinity they are a hater of God. NOT true. Paul does not say that at all. It’s your leap of subjectivity and interpetation that you associate the term “God” with the Trinity Doctrine. You read the Trinity into the scripture, it is not the other way around. So not believing in the Trinity does not make one a God hater.

  31. Jacob5 says:

    Actually Lautensack, I didn’t make those three points. I only felt them quite applicable. The person who gave this to us was Krister Stendahl, emeritus Lutheran Bishop of Stockholm and professor emeritus of Harvard Divinity School. Perhaps you could have a word with him when you get the chance.

  32. JamesN says:

    EVERY FACT IS TO BE CONFIRMED BY THE TESTIMONY OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES (2 Cor 13:1, Matt 18:16, 1 Tim 5:19; Duet 17:6)

    We need to keep the biblical evidentiary rule in mind when we read these accounts. John 9:38 and John 20:28 events are only testified too by a single witness that being John, NO OTHERS.

    Only one verse cited actually says Jesus was worshipped. That is John 9:38. Whether Jesus ACCEPTED the worship is not stated. Only that the individual in the story worshipped.

    The other (John 20:28) states that Thomas answers and said My LORD and my God. Whether that was direct worship is not clear either, but it is understandable that one might get that impression.

    In neither case does it say Jesus ACCEPTED worship

  33. Jerry Holt says:

    That fact that Jesus didn’t stop Thomas or correct him shows that Jesus did ACCEPT worship as Lord (Jehovah) and God (Elohim).

  34. Michael P says:

    JamesN–

    Thank you for showing the theory we have that Mormons will do much to discount the Bible. And this goes beyond the translated correctly issue.

    Why is that? Why do you not think everything in the Bible is useful? We see in 2 Tim 3:16 that not only is all scripture God-breathed, but useful. What you are inferring is that we can discount some portions. The same can be true of the argument Mormons give about Paul’s letters and their applicability only to the recipients of the letters.

    Any Mormon care to respond to this criticism/question?

    Thanks.

  35. subgenius says:

    All
    Since sharon has been so kind as to respond to issues i have raised as well as flatter me by quoting me, i am moved to further support my statements (though, admittedly i can be wrong, i am like many others on this board, and do not believe that i am wrong).
    First i would like to say that i enjoy everyone’s comments and most people seem to try and keep from digressing off the point of discussion and most people seem to be wary of personal attacks.
    However, the battle of semantics is way too prominent. Additionally, i find it interesting in how the classic jeffersonian arguments about our country’s constitution is applied – that is to say “we are only allowed to do what it says we can do versus we are allowed to do anything it does not forbid”.
    Nevertheless, back on topic
    The LDS article of Faith #11 is a clear statement on the topic we are now discussing.
    Additionally, i find that the label of “poly” or “mono” is relevant to only those who would use it as a means to hate the LDS church. These are people that do not realize that ‘love’ is by far the greatest weapon. However, i still stand by our prophets and the WORSHIP of Our Heavenly Father and FAITH in His Son, Jesus Christ. Wherefore those who read this are looking for “logical” conclusions to some of the statements on this board, they will not be found. Lautensack and myslef have had that debate on another topis and both agree that Spiritual things are not discerned in that manner.
    The head of the LDS church is Jesus Christ and its sole purpose is to assist Our Heavenly Father (as did Jesus).
    Clearly those who comment have little understanding of how heavily influenced the Bible was from the Greeks especially during the apostasy. Many Biblical translations use “Honor” for the reference regarding worshipping Jesus (such as in matthew, etc.). Again semantics.
    Who can answer the question as to “Who is it that Jesus PRAYED to?”….continue>

  36. subgenius says:

    cont…….Personally, President Hinckley should have used the word “reverence” instead of worship or perhaps Worship and worship. However, he was obviously moved by the Spirit to do otherwise. The whole of President Hinckley’s messages were always clear about the dominance in Worship for Our Heavenly Father and love, faith, and reverence for Jesus Christ. This is clearly discerned by the Spirit in those that would discern spiritual things, however temporal satisfaction may be more elusive. As the first article of faith states I also believe. Now perhaps I am wrong about my own use and emphasis of the word “worship”…afterall Hebrews 1:6 demands that all of us become “polytheistic”. This is also commanded in Revelations 5:13-14. So as I write this I will rebuke my previous monotheistic stance and proclaim that we are all polytheistic if we are faithful to the scriptures. Of course this supports the idea of polytheism being not just the worship of many but obviously the existence of many (at least two that we can all agree on).

    “I can of Mine own Self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and My judgment is just; because I seek not Mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent Me” John 5:30

  37. Michael P says:

    Hebrews 1:6– 6And again, when God brings his firstborn into the world, he says,
    “Let all God’s angels worship him.”

    I don’t see a command to be polytheistic. Anyone else?

    Revelation 5:13-14– 13Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing:
    “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
    be praise and honor and glory and power,
    for ever and ever!” 14The four living creatures said, “Amen,” and the elders fell down and worshiped.

    Don’t see it here either, unless you differentiate the one who sits on the throne and the Lamb, but that would not be any different than any other reference. It does not solve your riddle, and it does not negate our claim.

    As to semantics. You are partly right, subgenious, as it is in the use of words. We certainly do not use the terms in the same way.

  38. Jeffrey says:

    I didn’t get anything polytheistic from those verses either Michael P.

    I can see how you did, though, Subgenious. You read the verses through Mormon colored glasses. Hebrews 1:6 tells you to worship Jesus Christ. Since you believe Jesus Christ is his own God, and the Father is his own God, the whole of the scriptures including that verse tell you to worship both (plural) of them. And since to you, in order to be polytheistic, you have to “worship” multiple God’s, thats why you think that verse commands polytheism, correct?

    The problem is though, that you can’t try and pass that off to someone wearing Christian colored glasses because they believe the son and the Father are God. (singular).

    Now, to the person wearing no glasses who reads these verses. I can imagine one would see both sides (polytheism/monotheism) within the Bible. You then have to take into account every verse and find out what formula that would bring you to. It is very specific verses like –

    Isaiah 43:10
    “Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am HE: before me there was NO God formed, NEITHER shall there be AFTER me.”

    Calling Jesus Christ a liar?

  39. David says:

    James N,

    Jesus receives worship in other places in the gospels. In Matt 2 the Magi worship Jesus. In Matt 14:33, The disciples worship Jesus as well as in Matt 28. In Luke 24:52 the disciples worship Jesus. The argument that traditional Christians make is that, in the scriptures, when messengers of God (angels and apostles) received worship they rebuked the one who did so. In one instance, Acts 12:23, Herod is struck down for not giving God the glory when people said he was a god and not a man. Therefore, when Jesus gives tacit approval to worship of Himself it is a strong indicator that it is rightly placed worship.

    Subgenius,

    “Clearly those who comment have little understanding of how heavily influenced the Bible was from the Greeks especially during the apostasy. Many Biblical translations use “Honor” for the reference regarding worshipping Jesus (such as in matthew, etc.). Again semantics.”

    So what parts of the Bible were wrongly influenced by Greek thought? Which English translations use the word “honor” towards Jesus where the word “worship” is used by other translations? In the NRSV the word “homage” is used by the magi towards Jesus but not “honor”, and only in any other place is it used.

    “προσεκυνησαν” is the word from which we get “worship” (in the instances used towards Jesus) in the gospels. Every English Bible that I know of (including the KJV) renders it as such.

    Let me try to answer your question – Jesus is praying to the Father there. For you I am sure that it is just so obvious that it means that two separate gods are present but let it be known that your use of this Bible here is more of a restatement of your position than “proof”. Just like the numerous references to Jesus being the “Son” or a “son” does not necessarily mean that Jesus is the physical offspring of Elohim. Yes, those “son” texts and “pray” texts are compatible with LDS theology, but they are not incompatible with ours either.

  40. David says:

    Here are some questions for all the Mormons out there. They are taken form the thread “Before God Was God” (the thread that helped to spawn this one).

    How do you reconcile the non-literal references to sonship in the Bible? How do you reconcile the friend and servant references to God’s people (including Jesus) without calling them metaphorical/non-literal? Can anything can be shown to you from outside the Bible that demonstrates that God’s people never believed that God had a God or that we cannot become a god (or like god – as god)?

    I raised this issue in that previous post as well – “From where I am standing I do not see how you can rightly call God the one true God, when in your cosmology, many true Gods exist (even if you don’t worship them).”

    So, how can Mormons call Elohim the “one true God” when other true gods exist (like God the Grandfather, God the Uncle, etc.)?

    Lastly, I would not call all of this semantics nor would I call the “poly” and “mono” labels semantics or mean-spirited. I would call it elucidating what makes up two very different cosmologies :)

  41. Lautensack says:

    Jacob5,
    It does not matter who wrote the words, they are wrong. Furthermore I am not bound by the statements of men but the word of God and nothing more.

    JamesN,
    You said, not believing in the Trinity does not make one a God hater. If I were to say that Jehovah was a giant spaghetti Monster that evolved from a monkey, which clearly He is not, even after having Him revealed in scripture and nature as being Triune, then yes actively rejecting the God of Scripture would be hatred for God.

    Lautensak

  42. falcon says:

    Just a side note and observation and please correct me here if I am wrong. Mormons don’t have a systematic theology. So what do they have? A lot of opinions by a lot of people and writings and utterances by former prophets that can be dismissed and/or ignored or put out on a doctrinal buffet table and ingested if a person wants to. I see our Mormon friends making great pronouncements here regarding the history of the early church and I’m wondering where do they get the information. Just a continuing stream of Mormon urban legends to support a doctrinal point of view that has never been a part of the history of the Christian Church. The Trinity; the facts surrounding the declaration of the early Church defining what it always believed are readily available. I have an issue here of Christian History magazine that goes into depth in this regard. Do Mormons seek advanced degrees in Biblical Studies? No, because if they knew the actual history of the Christian Church and what the Bible acutally teaches then they wouldn’t be Mormons. What they are left with are a lot of half baked ideas based on folk doctrine.

  43. Michael P says:

    Falcon, I have said before that I see a lot of post-modern thought in Mormon apologetics. This makes it very difficult to pin down, because since it is based on such subjective foundations, it can shift as needed. I have raised the point a couple times and no one has commented, but I think your analysis is usedul, and your questions valid.

    I think if Mormonism were to find something solid to lay its foundation, it would be toppled immediately. It works better for them to float along than be destroyed on the rock of truth.

  44. falcon says:

    Thank you Michael P. for your feedback. We see a perfect example of what we are talking about here in the discussion of do Mormons worship Jesus? The tortured explanations to say they do, they don’t, they do but ignore what Mormon scholar X says even if it’s the opposite of prophet Y says who we don’t believe is 100% right-on, and yes Jesus and the Father are separate gods, but not really and even if we worship them as separate gods that doesn’t make us polytheists……and finally “If you were Mormon you’d understand how all of this makes perfect sense because you’d have a testimony that it’s all true even if the evidence is to the contrary because it comes from man and god confirmed that what we believe is true even if we don’t know exactly what we believe because god is continually revealing more and more to us because there is so much we have yet to learn.” Yea, I understand that!

  45. traveler says:

    A quote from David

    traveler,

    In Mormon cosmology there is an infinite progression and regresssion of gods. This idea has not been completely hammered out in Mormon theology but it should/could weigh heavily in this thread. You and I are potential gods. Our God was not always a god, and our kids can become gods of their own people. In that way, the cosmos (the laws of eternal Mormonism) could more accurately be called God (capital G; compare to Brahman in Hinduisms). BTW are you of semitic origin?

    Sorry David, I don’t understand your question…

    Semetic?

  46. Anitap says:

    Let me ask a question here. If possibly President Hinckley should have said “reverence” for Jesus instead of “worship” and the bible really means “honor” instead of worship, when it talks of Jesus, then doesn’t this bring Jesus down to the level of the Mormon prophets? Mormons are certainly supposed to be reverent toward and have faith in and certainly to honor their prophets. What is Jesus status as compared to the prophets? Christians would certainly agree that Jesus is far, FAR above mere mortal men, he IS God and is certainly worthy of worship. To say that he should be given reverence instead of worship seems to put him in a category with mere men. It seems to me that Mormons reject Jesus Christ of the Bible if they do not think he is worthy of worship as is God the Father. I don’t think it’s a question of semantics at all. To say Jesus is anything less than God who is to be worshipped is to deny the Jesus of the Bible. To not worship Jesus as God, fully God, is to reject him.

  47. David says:

    Traveler,

    Yeah that is correct – Semetic. Mispellings are a curse of the internet :)

  48. subgenius says:

    david
    not that it pertains to anything, but is it not actually semitic?….misspelling is so not the curse. not even close?

  49. subgenius says:

    David
    the NWT translation is vigorous in its translation of this word into obeisance when referring to Jesus. Furthermore, almost the entire Bible was manipulated by the Greeks, in order to humanize it…this is a widely known fact beyond denominations. as far as one true God existing, you speak of how this can be reconciled if you believe in the existence of other gods. easily, consider that there are many fathers of sons in this world. i believe that all of them are “fathers” and deserve to be caled dad by their children. However, i have my own father, and i only call him “dad”. so you see, i believe in fatherhood, but i only call one father my true dad.
    “Yes, those “son” texts and “pray” texts are compatible with LDS theology, but they are not incompatible with ours either.” david, exactly how are they compatible? things that are seperate are not together, thus these ideas are not compatible. cosmology, is a physical and metaphysical term, i am not sure how it is being used in the context of a “spiritual” board.
    as for literal versus meta-literal etc..
    reference
    1 corinthians 2:10-14

  50. Michael P says:

    Subgenious, quite a claim to say it is widely known the Greeks changed the text to humanize it. Care to give a source or sources?

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