October 24, 2012

What Does Mormonism Teach About Jesus, pt. 2

Last time we laid out what the basic Mormon teachings regarding Jesus and God are.

In sum, God the Father, called Elohim, is only the god of this planet we inhabit. He was once a man – a mortal – like you and me, but achieved godhood (we’ll explore that in depth later). Then he went to Heaven and proceeded to have a lot of “spirit children,” which are the souls of every person ever born on earth. Two of those children were Jesus (also called Jehovah) and Lucifer, who are our brothers. Elohim saw that mankind needed redemption, and asked the “grand council” of gods how that should happen. Lucifer presented a plan to remove mankind’s free will. Jesus said mankind should have free will and be allowed to choose good or evil. The council of the gods voted and Jesus won. So Lucifer rebelled and was cast out, along with those who fought alongside him.

So, now let’s look at what the Bible says about Jesus, God, and the Trinity. Remember, we already established that the Bible that we have today is every bit as reliable and authoritative as it was when the various parts of it were written over the years and then compiled and canonized. There are no “plain and precious truths” missing from the Bible as we have it today.

To know where I’m coming from and why I’m doing this, and to see previous posts in this series, click the graphic below to be taken to the introductory post for this series.

young

Just for the sake of saying it, I’ll be using the King James Version exclusively. Generally, I prefer contemporary English versions, and as we saw previously, many modern English translations are every bit authoritative and accurate as the KJV when it comes to translations and matching the original documents. However, KJV is the most widely accepted translation, and I do enjoy the style, so that’s what I’ll use.

First, let’s talk about what the Bible tells us about Who God is. While Mormon teaching puts a distinction between God the Father (who they call Elohim) and Jehovah (Jesus) the Bible specifically tells us that Jehovah, or Yahweh (same word, different pronunciations), is actually God’s name. In Exodus, God speaks to Moses out of a burning bush. He sends Moses to Pharaoh and the Israelites. Moses asked God how to make the Israelites believe that the message really was from God.

“And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, Yahweh God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name forever, and this is my memorial unto all generations.” (Exodus 3:15)

Now, you’ll have to bear with me here a minute, but this is important going forward.. You’ll notice Yahweh is in brackets. That’s because way back in the days of KJV, the translators had this superstition that you weren’t supposed to actually say or write Yahweh, the name of God. So they replaced with with LORD, the all-caps version. Most contemporary translators have carried that superstition forward. As you can see, that directly contradicts God’s instruction to remember the name Yahweh from generation to generation. Yahweh wouldn’t tell us His name, and to remember it, and expect us not to use it. So, whenever you see LORD in the Bible, replace it with Yahweh, which is what I do here on the blog.

Yahweh and Jehovah are the same word originally, by the way. Jehovah is the Romanized version of the root word, Yahweh is closer to the original Hebrew. Both indicate the name of God the Father, who spoke to Moses out of the burning bush. Both are appropriate, respectful, biblical ways of referring to and addressing God. So, in future, whenever the translators have opted for the superstitious rendition of “the LORD” I’m going to correct it back to the original word Yahweh. Just fyi.

So, who is Yahweh? Is he an exalted man who was once like us but is now a god who is one of a council of the gods who decided the fate of humanity, as Mormon theology teaches?

“Thus saith Yahweh the King of Israel, and his redeemer Yahweh of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God…Fear ye not, neither be afraid : have not I told thee from that time, and have declared it? ye are even my witnesses. Is there a God beside me? yea, there is no God; I know not any." (Isaiah 44:6-8)

“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” (1 Timothy 2:5)

“These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee…that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” (John 17:1-3)

If anyone should know how many gods there are, I think Jesus would. That doesn’t just mean there is only one god we are allowed to worship, or only one god with jurisdiction over this planet. Yahweh said he doesn’t know any other god – that there is no other god in existence besides him. If there was a council of the gods, or if there were exalted men becoming gods today, it would directly contradict all these statements made by Yahweh Himself.

Okay, so Yahweh is the only God. But has He always been God? Was there ever a time where He wasn’t God? Is Yahweh an exalted man who lived a good life and attained godhood?

God is not a man, that he should lie ; neither the son of man, that he should repent.” (Numbers 23:19)

"And Samuel said unto him, Yahweh hath rent the kingdom of Israel from thee this day, and hath given it to a neighbour of thine, that is better than thou. And also the Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent : for he is not a man, that he should repent.” (1 Samuel 15:28-29)

“Before the mountains were brought forth , or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.” (Psalms 90:2)

God is not someone’s son. He is not a man, that he should need to repent. He never had a beginning. God has been God from all eternity. That’s not what we have imagined and supposed, that’s what Yahweh Himself has told us.

So, Yahweh is God. He is the only God. He always has been God and always will be God. This is what the Bible teaches. This is what God has told us about Himself.

So what about Jesus? Is Jesus a son of God, or the Son of God? Is he subordinate to Yahweh, God the Father? Or is he part of a co-equal Holy Trinity?

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made…And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.” (John 1: 1-3, 14)

The Word was God, and became flesh and dwelt among us. So, God became flesh and dwelt among us. The only person from Heaven who became flesh and dwelt among us was Jesus. Therefore, Jesus was God, and was in the beginning, not created after God. In fact, here is says everything was created by Jesus.

“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God… Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:5-6, 9-11)

The Bible is very clear that worshipping anyone other than God is idolatry. In fact, Yahweh Himself says in Isaiah 45:23 that “every knee shall bow and every tongue shall swear” unto Him. So for the Bible to repeat that exact phrasing but with the name of Jesus, it is literally equating Jesus with Yahweh. They are equally God.

“And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying , Behold , a virgin shall be with child , and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” (Matthew 1:21-23)

Emmanuel literally means God with us, using the Hebrew word for God, El. That’s where Emmanuel comes from. Also El Shaddai (God is Sufficient), El Elyon (The Most High God) and other variants that appear throughout the Old Testament. In every case, an “El” name in the Bible refers to the One True God. So for an angel to refer to Jesus as Emmanuel, he is proclaiming Jesus to be the One True God.

One of my favorite examples further illustrating this is the story of Jesus healing the lame man. Jesus was healing people and there was a man who was a paraplegic. His friends carried him to Jesus for him to be healed.

“And when he saw their faith, he said unto him, Man, thy sins are forgiven thee. And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason , saying , Who is this which speaketh blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone? But when Jesus perceived their thoughts, he answering said unto them, What reason ye in your hearts? Whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Rise up and walk? But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power upon earth to forgive sins, (he said unto the sick of the palsy ,) I say unto thee, Arise , and take up thy couch, and go into thine house. And immediately he rose up before them, and took up that whereon he lay , and departed to his own house, glorifying God.” (Luke 5:20-25)

Here Jesus clearly shows that He possesses the full power and authority of God. Also, notice that Jesus was able to know what the scribes and Pharisees were thinking. Only God can see into the hearts and minds of people.

Now how can Yahweh be the One True God and Jesus be the One True God? Because they have co-existed eternally as members of the Holy Trinity, including the Holy Spirit. Of course, we’ve already established that there is only One God. But the Bible also teaches that One God exists in three persons.

We’ll have to start with a short grammar lesson. “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord.” This is from Deuteronomy 6, one of the first things Hebrew children memorize. In the original Hebrew, the word for “one” is Echad, which refers to a compound unity, not a singularity. Like “jury” or “school.” It’s one jury, but a jury is made up of multiple people. It’s one school of fish, but in that school are many fish. Throughout the Old Testament, when the Bible says there is One God, it says Echad. There is a word for “one” singular individual. But that’s not used when referring to God. Only the compound unity is.  Even in the Hebrew Scriptures, God is considered a compound unity, a single unit made up of multiple parts.

There is only One God, and he exists in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This is displayed at the baptism of Jesus, where Jesus, the Holy Spirit and God the Father were all present at the same time. (See Matthew 3) Another place we see this is in Jesus’s final instructions to His disciples, where he tells them to baptize new believers “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” (Matthew 28:19) Not in the “names” of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. The single “name.”

Or look at it this way. According to the Bible, who created the Heavens and the Earth?

”In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1)
“All things were made by him [Jesus]; and without him was not any thing made that was made.” (John 1:3)
”By His Spirit He hath garnished the heavens;” (Job 26:13)

Here we see all three persons of the Trinity involved in the Creation.

How about another example? Who raised Jesus from the dead?

" Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;)” (Galatians 1:1) 
Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” (John 2:19)
”But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.” (Romans 8:11)

There are plenty of other examples, but this is long enough for a blog post. If you are interested in more Biblical support for the doctrine of the Trinity, this is a great resource: link

So, let’s bring this all together.

There is only One True God. There is no other god, over this world or any other. He exists eternally, equally in three persons, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He never had a beginning, and He will never have an end. God has always been God, He has never not been God.

Jesus is every bit as much God as is God the Father and God the Holy Spirit (or Holy Ghost). Jesus was never created. He has existed since before the beginning of time along with God the Father. And because He is fully, equally God, He is the only one capable of paying the penalty to deliver us from our sins.

When you compare what the Bible tells us about God with what Mormonism teaches about God, it’s clear there are incompatible contradictions. And you can’t serve two masters here. There’s no possibility that they could both be partially right. Either God has always been God, or He hasn’t. Either God is the only God in the universe, or He isn’t. Either Jesus is an eternal being equal and co-existing with God, or He’s not.

Again, don’t just take my word for it. Read and study the Bible yourself and see what God says about Himself.

1 comments:

  1. great Biblical explanation of the Trinity!! I had a discussion with mormon missionaries once and had trouble putting together the scriptures to support it. Very helpful! Also, Isaiah 43:10-11 states the Elohim and Jehovah are the same person "Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD (Yahweh/Jehovah), 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 (elohim) formed, neither shall there be after me" (Isaiah 43:10-11).

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