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All Praise to YHWH!

July 11, 2009

Recently, an LDS commenter on this blog said, “I believe God the Father and Jesus Christ are not the same person.* I do not worship or pray to Jesus, only God the Father, in the name of Jesus.” Of course, this commenter is representing the teaching of the LDS church.  For example, former LDS apostle Bruce R. McConkie has said, “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” (BYU Devotional, March 2, 1982).  Elder L. Lionel Kendrick has said, “We always pray to our Father in Heaven, and to him alone… We do not pray to the Savior or to anyone else. To do so would be disrespectful of Heavenly Father” (Personal Revelation, BYU address, May 20, 1997).

During my devotions this morning it suddenly occurred to me. If Jesus is YHWH of the OT (as LDS teach), then why was it acceptable for the OT saints (yet unacceptable for NT saints) to worship and pray to Jesus and give all glory to His name?

By replacing YHWH with Jesus we have the following praises and prayers of OT saints:

I will praise thee, O Jesus, with my whole heart; I will shew forth all thy marvellous works (Psalms 9:1). I will praise thy name, O Jesus; for it is good (Psalm 54:6).

My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O Jesus; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up (Psalms 5:3).

O Jesus, thou art my God; I will exalt thee, I will praise thy name; for thou hast done wonderful things; thy counsels of old are faithfulness and truth (Isa. 25:1).

O Jesus, thou hast searched me, and known me… I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth… How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee…(Psalm 139:1, 14-18).

Also, if Jesus was the one speaking to the OT saints, why does Hebrews 1:1-2 say that God spoke in times past by the prophets, but in these last days has spoken unto us by His Son. This verse makes no sense if Jehovah of the OT is referring to Jesus.

Further, if we are not to worship Jesus and give all glory to His name, then Jesus’ prayer to His Father in John 17:5 was not answered:

“And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.”

The angels are worshipping Jesus (Heb. 1:6).  Are you?

* * *

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)

Christ is the express image of the invisible God (Hebrews 1:3, Col. 1:15)

*I agree with this commenter that Jesus and the Father are not the same person.  The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three separate persons in one divine Being.

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52 Comments leave one →
  1. July 12, 2009 4:04 am

    It’s a good question. I don’t put as much weight on the “correct” answer as some LDS might, but the most straightforward reason I can think of is that Jesus told us “to pray to the Father in [his] name,” and didn’t tell us to pray to Jesus.

    That said, it’d be interesting to see how prayer structure developed among early LDS, though I wouldn’t have the skillz to do such a study.

    *Of course you don’t really agree with that commenter, seeing that you are using different definitions of the word “person.” But I think you know that.

  2. July 12, 2009 4:32 am

    Jessica,

    Thanks for leaving a comment at Feast.

    I am similar to Brian in that I’m not as concerned about “correctness” on a point like this, but I’ll offer a thought or two.

    I think Brian’s right that the scriptural warrant that is probably behind a statement like Bruce R. McConkie’s is to be found in passages where Jesus commands His disciples to pray to the Father (often enough in His name, if LDS scriptures are included, as they certainly would be for McConkie!).

    However, historically, the LDS position is a bit murkier on this point. For example, in 1836, in a canonized dedicatory prayer (now section 109 of the Doctrine and Covenants), we find Joseph Smith praying directly to Jehovah. This has been explained by orthodox Latter-day Saints in a number of ways (among the most fanciful being that “Jehovah” is a title that can be applied to anyone who has attained the status of godhood, and so is applied there by the prophet to the Father), but the most justifiable historical answer is that Latter-day Saints did not equate Jehovah with Jesus until quite late in the nineteenth century, long after Joseph Smith’s (and even Brigham Young’s) death. That is (for the sake of clarity), though Latter-day Saints quite early on drew a sharp distinction between the Father and the Son (even at a remarkably sophisticated philosophical level), they tended to assume for some time that “Jehovah” was a name belonging to the Father and not to the Son.

    The equation of Jehovah with Jesus didn’t come—or, at least not at the popular level—until a series of articles was published in the last years of the nineteenth century by a leading Mormon intellectual, in which he argued that Jesus and Jehovah were the same figure. (That he had to argue for it is quite telling: this was not something he could presume to be known among the Saints.)

    All that said, it seems to be established Mormon doctrine now that Jehovah is Jesus (though I don’t think the point could be said to be a test of orthodoxy). Now, then, to the question: Why don’t Latter-day Saints worship Jesus?

    The answer, I think, is complex. Because I think Latter-day Saints actually do worship Jesus, despite what Elder McConkie had to say in his BYU devotional address. (I think it is worth saying that much of what Elder McConkie had to say in that devotional address is nothing like representative of many quite orthodox Mormons. Its status is hardly unquestioned even among “stalwart” members of the Church!) I think one would have a hard time coming across Latter-day Saints who worship Jesus by saying formal prayers to Him, but worship and even prayer take many more shapes than this. If the LDS hymnbook is any evidence, Latter-day Saints find themselves praising Jesus every week in their meetings, at the very least, though you won’t hear the opening or closing prayer of a sacrament meeting beginning with “Dear Lord Jesus.”

    So let me echo the title of your post, and as a believing Latter-day Saint: Praise YHWH!

  3. July 12, 2009 5:01 am

    I should point out that I totally missed the word “worship” in your question, Jessica, so I read it as only, “Why don’t LDS pray to Jesus?” I find the issue of worship much weightier than prayer—and I worship Jesus.

  4. July 12, 2009 5:37 am

    Thank you for your comments, Jessica. I wish to write a few words tonight about our reverence for the Lord. It is important that our brothers and sisters from other faiths know that we believe in and proclaim the divinity of Jesus Christ, that He is the Son of God. You quote Elder Bruce R. McConkie as saying: “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.” What follows clarifies what Elder McConkie meant: “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” (Bruce R. McConkie, Sermons and Writings of Bruce R. McConkie, p.60).

    The Savior Himself was always the first to point out His own continual loving deference for the Father in all that He did. The Holy Scriptures are full of examples. I will give one. To those who asked, “Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” our Lord and Savior clearly distinguished between Himself and the worshipfulness owed to the Father: “Why callest thou me good? none is good, save one, that is, God.” (Luke 18:18-19). It was the Savior who taught us to pray to the Father by example: “I will pray the Father for you”(John 16:26).

    Our Hymns are full of praise for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Some of the Hymns we use were composed by some of our Christian brothers and sisters from other faiths, and some were written by our own members. A few of my favorite hymns of devotion and praise to the Savior include: “Jesus, the very thought of thee,” “Jesus of Nazareth, Savior and King” and “Jesus, Once of Humble Birth.” The musical instructions have the words, “Worshipfully” or “Reverently” by them. A scripture from the book of Mormon is also a hymn of reverent praise: “And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins” (2 Nephi 25:26).

    Jessica, my complete post along with posts from others who have asked questions can be found at:
    http://feastuponthewordblog.org/2009/01/11/biblical-proof-that-jesus-is-jehovah/

    Best,

    Gregorio

  5. July 12, 2009 6:22 am

    The issues have been drastically oversimplified. The LDS Christian tradition is simply more broad, rich, and complex than it has been presented here. For instance, D&C 109 (a canonical Mormon text)–the dedicatory prayer that Joseph Smith offered for the Kirtland temple–addresses God the Father as Jehovah (YHWH) several times (see, for instance, verses 34, 42, 56, and 68). Moreover, there have been articles in the Ensign which have pointed out that in at least several instances the name “Jehovah” in the biblical texts most likely refers to God the Father, as well as pointed out that there are likely many other such texts. See, for example, Keith H. Meservy, “Lord = Jehovah,” Ensign, June 2002, 29. Moreover, it has been discussed in several publications that Joseph Smith and other early Church leaders used Jehovah to refer both to the Father and the Son. The current distinctions between “Elohim” and “Jehovah” among Mormon Christians is not a doctrinal distinction that is to be systematically projected back throughout the scriptural texts, but rather was a means of standardizing discourse in late 19th and early 20th century Mormonism. There are several articles that have discussed these issues. David Bokovoy (who is currently pursuing his PhD at Brandeis under noted Jewish scholar Marc Brettler) in the FARMS Review during his exchange concerning the divine council with evangelical scholar Michael Heiser remarked:

    “Though Latter-day Saints view God the Father and Jesus Christ as two separate divine beings, for the Saints, the biblical titles associated with these deities are clearly interchangeable. Latter-day Saints have no problem, therefore, in associating God the Father with the title Yahweh…The 1916 official declaration presented by the First Presidency of the church states “God the Eternal Father, whom we designate by the exalted name-title Elohim, is the literal Parent of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and of the spirits of the human race.” Clearly, however, the First Presidency’s move toward designating God the Father as Elohim and Jesus, the Son, as Jehovah was primarily a move by church leaders to create uniformity in Latter-day Saint expression. In a recent Ensign article, Keith Meservy observed that “in at least three Old Testament passages it appears that LORD [i.e., Jehovah] applies to Heavenly Father, not Jesus Christ: Ps. 110:1; Ps. 2:7; Isa. 53:10.” No doubt, for many Latter-day Saints, this estimate offered by Meservy could be greatly augmented.” Finally, I don’t know any Mormon who would mind referring to God the Father as our Savior.”

    I have discussed most of the issues raised in this post already here:

    http://toughquestionsanswered.wordpress.com/2009/01/20/yhwh-and-mormonism/

    Have a great day.

    TYD

  6. July 12, 2009 6:37 am

    Meh.

    It all goes to the same place anyway.

    So it’s all good as far as I’m concerned.

  7. Stephanie permalink
    July 12, 2009 8:26 pm

    YTD,

    Very interesting post! 🙂 I appreciated hearing your perspective. However it leaves me wondering…if God the Father and God the Son are not one why are they being called the same name? It seems strange for a religion to adamantly oppose the doctrine of the Trinity and then acknowledge that at least two members of the Godhead are referred to and worshiped by the same name. How is this more logical than Trinitarianism?

    Stephanie

  8. Stephanie permalink
    July 12, 2009 8:27 pm

    Oh. I guess its “TYD” not YTD.

    Sorry.

  9. July 12, 2009 8:32 pm

    Thanks for your comments everyone. Yes, I’m well aware that early Mormons did not believe Jehovah=Jesus. I made this comment on another thread recently:

    Joseph Smith “apparently never specifically identified Jehovah as Jesus, nor Jehovah as the Son of Elohim. Rather, the Prophet followed the biblical Hebrew usage of the divine names and either combined them or used them interchangeably as epithets for God the Father” (Jehovah as Father: The Development of the Mormon Jehovah Doctrine).

    I believe the teaching that Jehovah = Jesus has come about as an attempt to explain Smith’s later teaching of a plurality of beings… The Book of Mormon, of course, still contains references to God as one being and actually appears to have some passages that infer Modalism (i.e. Ether 4:12).

    So, judging from your post, Gregorio, I’m assuming you take the view that Jehovah (YHWH) is Jesus.

    Judging from your comments, Brian, Joe, and Yellow Dart, I’m assuming you do not necessarily take this view. Is that correct?

    Also, Joe, I don’t mean to psychoanalyze, but is there any reason you only echoed part of my title? I noticed you said “Praise YHWH” instead of ALL praise to YHWH. I was wondering if you did not feel comfortable saying the “all” part in reference to Christ or am I over-analyzing?

  10. July 12, 2009 8:37 pm

    Oh, and Steph, I do believe they are one. 🙂

    TYD

  11. Stephanie permalink
    July 12, 2009 8:51 pm

    TYD,

    Thanks for the link, but it doesn’t really answer my question. 🙂 Jessica and I might be one in purpose and intent but we are also completely distinct separate human beings with individual bodies. No one would simply assume that since we are one in purpose we therefore share a name! We each have our own names. Neither would a person say, “When you’ve seen Jessica you’ve seen Stephanie.” Yet this is what Jesus claimed about His relationship with God,

    Philip saith unto him, Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us.

    Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father? John 14:8, 9

    In re-reading your first paragraph in your original post I see a great amount of inconsistency with what was being said and what is considered doctrinal. How is the LDS position more logical than the doctrine of the Trinity?

    Stephanie

  12. July 12, 2009 10:43 pm

    Yes Jessica, you have correctly understood that I believe that Yahweh is Jesus. I wanted to also introduce a Pseudepigraphical work here, The Ascension of Isaiah. I have both the Charles and Knibb translations. The latter is part of the two-volume The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha. The Ascension of Isaiah is a very old manuscript. The scholars have placed parts of this somewhere between two centuries before the birth of the Savior to about a century after. It is difficult to trust dates very well, as people are often guided by their own beliefs on this matter. I believe that the book of Isaiah (see my book, Isaiah Testifies of Christ) was written by one prophet. Those who hold a different view tend to ascribe Chapters 40 onward to a much later date. But for our purposes, even if we take the book as written as late as 100 AD, we see that some early Christians clearly believed that God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost were three distinct beings and one in purpose. The Holy Ghost is depicted as an angel visible to Isaiah (“this is the angel of the Holy Spirit who has spoken in you”—I love that expression, spoken in you, Ascension 9:36). Isaiah is first permitted to see and worship the Lord Jesus Christ, along with Adam, Abel, Seth and many of the righteous (Ascension 9:27-32). We see both the Lord and the Holy Spirit worshipping God the Father, although in this verse the Father and the Lord are both called by the title Lord, and elsewhere there is a distinction made. “And I saw how my Lord and the angel of the Holy Spirit worshipped and both together praised the Lord” (Ascension 9:40). Finally, Isaiah is brought before the presence of the Father, who is called the “Glorious One” (Ascension 10:1-2) and called “the Father of the Lord” (Ascension 10:6). We see the commission of the Savior: “And I heard the voice of the Most High , the Father of my Lord, as he said to my Lord Christ, who will be called Jesus, ‘Go out and descend through &c.” (Ascension 10:7-8). Just so people do not think this is just my misunderstanding of the text, Knibb writes in the introduction: “What is perhaps of greater interest is that a superior status is attributed to the Father in that ‘the Lord’ and the angel of the Holy Spirit are presented as worshipping him” (p. 154). These three beings are spoken of as being clearly distinct from each other in this Pseudepigraphical work.

    Since today is the Sabbath day, and a day of worship, I thought I would share a scripture we can all, together be grateful for. It is my favorite scripture (my children tease me that I have hundreds of favorite scriptures):

    “Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches:But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD.” Jeremiah 9:23-24 (9:22-23 in Biblia Hebraica).

  13. July 13, 2009 12:19 am

    As a part of the Rogers family, I share my dad’s name, and sometimes act in his name.

    I imagine the same would apply with Jesus and his father, and then some!

  14. Michael Mattei permalink
    July 13, 2009 3:47 am

    Well, excuse me for sliding briefly into modalistic thought but I’ve been under the impression that the reason why we pray to Father and not to Jesus is because the way Jesus relates to us is the same way a person relates to us because He is both human and God. We pray to God “above”, to the Father, YHWH, Jehova (an unfortunate translation error but a lovely name for God nonetheless). But in praying to the Father we are still communing with Jesus for He and the Father are one.

    Incidentally, I see the spirit as both motivating force and the medium through which prayer is conveyed.

    I’m rambling, I’m clearly tired. Let me come at this in a purely trinitarian way: When we pray we engage all three persons of God fully, we pray to the Father with whom we have always yearned to be connected to, whether we knew it or not, it was Jesus who demonstrated and sanctified the way we might have the communication (in praying in His name we are essentially trying to unite our intents and desires with Christs, essentially). Jesus didn’t pray to Himself, He prayed to the Father and all things we emulate Him. The Spirit within us is what make that possible, both making us right with God and bringing us into harmony with Christ.

    I hope there is something in there someone find useful. I think I better go to bed.

  15. July 13, 2009 3:57 am

    “Judging from your comments, Brian, Joe, and Yellow Dart, I’m assuming you do not necessarily [view that YHWH=Jesus]. Is that correct?”

    Probably. Sort of. Most of the time, I don’t think the Father or the Son care to stress the distinction, so I don’t think it’s appropriate to do so with their words. (Which is not to say that I think it’s bad, just that it misses the author’s (i.e., God’s) intent.)

    I don’t think that “YHWH=Jesus” because I don’t think that “YHWH always=Jesus.”

    What is important is that Jesus was God during the OT period and not just after the resurrection or ascension or whatever. In a way, I’m stressing the argument against Modalism here, which I view as more problematic than Trinitarianism.

  16. July 13, 2009 4:09 am

    Jessica,

    I’m not particularly concerned to be “right” about whether Jesus is/is not Jehovah. The jury is out for me on most questions, meaning that I enjoy the work of thinking about possibilities, seeing where different hypotheses might lead, etc. I think if I were asked to say what I assume is actually the case, I’d say that Jesus is Jehovah, but I wouldn’t be either surprised or upset to find out that weren’t the case. My point in offering the historical clarifications was not to give a sense of where I stand on the question, but to make clear that the question itself is a bit murkier than it might appear. Mainline Protestantism has had five centuries to work out its present doctrinal “system.” Mormonism has only had a century and a half. 🙂

    At any rate, my task is not to be right about doctrinal points (especially since they don’t save us!), but to give myself to the infinite grace manifested in Christ’s rising from the dead. Whatever the details amount to in the end, I’ll just be happy to have been given the latitude comprehended in Christian liberty to try to make sense of the scriptures.

    As concerns psychoanalyzing, psychoanalyze away! (I’m certainly interested enough in Freud, and especially in Lacan, to be interested in any analysis of my slippery words.) Actually, it’s funny you mention it. As I just brought your post up to see how the discussion was going, I noticed the full title and thought, “Oh, hey. I guess I should have looked back up at the title of the post before I ‘quoted’ it in my comment. Whoops!” All of which is to say: analyze away, but I have no qualms saying “All praise to YHWH!” either. Whatever the metaphysical relationship between the Father and the Son turns out to be (and I think there is a lot of room to talk about that), I think you’ll agree with me that any praise we render to the Son is equally rendered to the Father.

    (I’m tempted to say a bit about the Trinity, but I don’t think I will tonight. Suffice it to say that, while I am not myself a Trinitarian in any orthodox sense, I think Latter-day Saints have a good deal to learn from Trinitarian theology, especially the shape it takes in, say, the first volume of Karl Barth’s Church Dogmatics.)

  17. Tom permalink
    July 13, 2009 5:13 am

    I think Jesus commanded that we pray to the Father in His name. However, I’m not getting hung up on who I pray to because they ARE one God, after all, regardless of how you define “one God.” Note also that we are never told that praying to Jesus directly is a bad thing.

    Alma 36 and 3 Ne.17 (19?) are great Book of Mormon examples of praying to Jesus. Sometimes I find myself asking Jesus to relieve some burden in my life. Not in a formal “prayer” usually, but I am nonetheless addressing Him directly and asking for some blessing. I don’t feel inappropriate about it.

  18. Tom permalink
    July 13, 2009 5:17 am

    The Living Christ, a proclamation from the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, declares that Jesus is also Jehovah, thus making it official LDS Church doctrine.

  19. gloria permalink
    July 13, 2009 1:56 pm

    Jessica,
    Thank you for sharing the you tube video/ praise song… it was so beautiful.. and blessed my heart this morning… I so love and am blessed by worship music… there is truly nothing like making a joyful noise unto the Lord! It is something that I have learned to love and treasure.
    God bless ~~

    Gloria

  20. psychochemiker permalink
    July 13, 2009 11:34 pm

    That’s fine, Tom.
    But that’s a modern distinction that may not work for every past use of YHWH either in the OT, the NT, or the D&C.
    We still need a little nuance in making sense of the historical record.

  21. July 14, 2009 12:18 am

    Tom,

    I’m glad you agree that it’s ok to pray to Jesus sometimes. Of course the usual way to pray is as Jesus taught us – to the Father in His name. But we certainly have examples in the NT where Jesus was addressed in prayer after He returned to heaven (obviously while He was on earth people were petitioning Him and worshiping Him and just generally communicating with Him all the time). After He returned to heaven we have the following examples:

    Paul prayed directly to Jesus (II Cor. 12:8-10)

    And Stephen (Acts 7:59)

    And John (Rev. 22:20)

    The apostles were also praying to Jesus in Acts 1:24-25. (Jesus is commonly referred to as “the Lord” throughout the NT.)

    we are never told that praying to Jesus directly is a bad thing.

    I completely agree and I’m assuming you mean in the scriptures. Clearly, somewhere, LDS are being taught that its never appropriate to pray to Jesus. I’m not sure if this is cited anywhere in “official” doctrine, but I’ve heard this from LDS members and you can find it in quotations from LDS leaders such as the example I cited in my post. I am very, very concerned about this teaching because I fear it separates people from a personal relationship with our Savior which is necessary for eternal life (Matt. 7:21-23, John 14:6, I John 5:11-12, 20).

    Thanks for the link to the “official” LDS doctrine that Jesus=Jehovah. Again, this doctrine makes no sense to me. Why was Jesus Christ the primary recipient of all praise and prayer in the OT? Why the change in the NT? Why didn’t OT saints pray to the Father?

    I submit that YHWH is one God, one divine Being, and that one of the greatest “proofs” that Jesus is God is John 8:58 where Jesus claims the divine name of YHWH. The Jews knew what He meant. That’s why they picked up stones to stone Him. “One in purpose” does not go far enough in describing this relationship. Per Isaiah 43:10 there was no God prior nor will there be any God after YHWH. He is the one and only true God.

  22. Stephanie permalink
    July 14, 2009 11:34 pm

    Thanks for the link to the “official” LDS doctrine that Jesus=Jehovah. Again, this doctrine makes no sense to me. Why was Jesus Christ the primary recipient of all praise and prayer in the OT? Why the change in the NT? Why didn’t OT saints pray to the Father?

    I second Jessica’s confusion at this doctrine. How can this possibly make any sense? Why is there such a shift from the OT to the NT regarding who is supposed to be worshiped? It would make much more sense to me to claim that God the Father was worshiped in the OT because it was He who was revealed. Looking back through the lens of history we can see examples of Jesus in the Old Testament (called a Christophany). But to say that He was the primary recipient of praise in the OT is a different matter completely. When He was revealed as the Creator of the world (John 1) and as the Savior of the world He certainly was the deserved recipient of adulation. I don’t understand how God can be praised before He is revealed.

  23. July 15, 2009 1:18 am

    Since when did trinitarians ever care about making sense?

    Isn’t it all some divine “mystery” anyway?

  24. July 15, 2009 2:30 am

    Yes, Ethan was mistaken. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are not the “same person” even for Trinitarians. But mutual understanding is a two-way street. The Bruce R. McConkie statement needs to be put into context:

    Bruce R. McConkie and “Our Relationship With The Lord”/Do Mormons Worship Jesus?
    http://latterdayspence.blogspot.com/2009/04/bruce-r-mcconkie-and-our-relationship.html

  25. psychochemiker permalink
    July 15, 2009 3:46 am

    Jessica,
    I think I will make a semantics argument first, and then go on to a more substantive LDS philosphy view.
    Depending on what the definition of prayer is, you may come up with different answers. Certainly Acts 1:24-25 is the strongest proof-text showing one may pray to the Lord Jesus Christ. Of course, the text really only says that they did in this one instance, you assume this means one could pray to Jesus in all circumstances. Maybe not everyone makes the same assumption.

    24 And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, shew whether of these two thou hast chosen,

    I don’t think Revelation 22:20 even sounds like a prayer.

    20 He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.

    Acts 7:59.

    59 And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.

    This isn’t just a normal prayer most of us would pray every day. I’m not saying there’s much of a distinction between “calling upon God” and praying, I’m just saying, when you’re suffering a martyrs death maybe your allowed to cry out to Jesus even not in formal prayer.

    Scripturally, for the LDS, there are times when people have historically prayed to Jesus. Jessica has already pointed out in Acts, the apostles prayed to the Lord to determine who should replace a fallen apostle and keep the quorum whole. Of course, we’re going to ignore the context that the apostles felt the quorum should be complete, but…
    Furthermore, there are examples in the Book of Mormon where the saints prayed directly to Jesus. 3 Nephi 19:22

    Father, thou hast given them the Holy Ghost because they believe in me; and thou seest that they believe in me because thou hearest them, and they pray unto me; and they pray unto me because I am with them.

    I think almost all of the prayers recorded in the Old Testament addressed to YHWH are addressed to Jesus. So historically, many people have prayed to Jesus, both premortal and as resurrected. I don’t think we have any scriptural history of Jesus being prayed to when He was an un-resurrected incarnate.
    But something changed with Jesus’ ministry. In many other portions of Jesus’ ministry, He taught people to perfect the Law of Moses. Yet in the sermon on the mount, Jesus doesn’t say, “When ye pray, ye should pray to Adonai (an epithet used to remove the saying of YHWH),” he didn’t say, “When ye pray, ye should pray to YHWH.” He didn’t say, “When ye pray, ye should pray to Me, Jesus.” He said, “When ye pray, in this matter should you pray, Our Father who is in heaven…”
    By LDS meta-thought, ever since the Fall, man had lost the right and privilege to be in the presence of the Father. From that time on, man had been cut off from the Father, and had access to the mediator of the future covenant, Jesus. As God, Jesus (YHWH in premortality) was He whom all prayer and divine action from God came through Him. Jesus, however, came to reveal the Father, and as a revelation of that Mediation, came to bring man back into his proper relationship with their Father. Therefore, when we call upon God the Father, we are subliminally, and subconsciously accepting the fact that Jesus serves as our mediator to the Father, whom we can now approach because of Jesus grace. Elsewhere, LDS scripture makes clear that all men, good and evil, will be brought into the presence of the Father to be judged. It is Jesus’ atonement that even allows us into the Father’s presence to be judged. But, it we choose to respond to His invitation, we can have access to the Father through prayer. Why would those who have access to the supernal gift of communing with the Father give it up, especially when Jesus explicitly commanded it.

    On a personal note: I love singing hymns because in them we are allowed to raise our voices in praise and worship, adoration, and imploration of Christ. While the LDS church authorities have instructed us to address our prayers to the Father, I feel no need to condemn historically unclear or seemingly incorrect usage. I also feel no need to correct Evangelicals in their usage as long as they recognize that the NORM is to pray to the Father in the name of the Son.

  26. July 15, 2009 6:34 am

    psychochemiker said, I also feel no need to correct Evangelicals in their usage as long as they recognize that the NORM is to pray to the Father in the name of the Son.

    Sorry psychochemiker, I’m with Seth on this one. It all goes to the same place anyway.

    I start my prayer’s with; Our Father, Our Lord, Our Savior, Our God. May your name always be honored. I like to finish each prayer with. Prasing you always, Amen.

  27. July 15, 2009 5:15 pm

    I appreciate that the conversation has remained amicable. Thanks Jessica and all who have commented. I had been putting together my thoughts for my next installment, one related to the atonement, and the change brought about by the expiatory sacrifice of our Savior, when Psychochemiker contributed his thoughts above. There are a number of good points raised by Psychochemiker, but I want to focus on prayer. I have reworked one of Psychochemiker’s paragraphs as follows:

    With the fall, mankind lost the right and privilege to be in the presence of the Father. Although cut off from the presence of the Father, mankind was not left totally alone but was given access to the mediator of the New Covenant, even Jesus Christ, who is also YHWH of the Old Covenant. Jesus the Christ opened the way for our return to the Father through the atonement (or at-one-ment). Through the process of Divine Investiture, a sort of power of attorney, Jesus spoke in the name of the Father. The Savior explains: “Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things” (John 8:28), and “For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak” (John 12:49). In the meridian of time the Savior came to bring us into the proper relationship with the Father. When we pray to the Father we are acknowledging that Jesus is the mediator of the New Covenant. Why would those who have access to the supernal gift of communing with the Father give it up, especially when Jesus explicitly commanded it?

  28. July 15, 2009 8:21 pm

    Jessica: I may have missed the link you refer to, but I don’t understand your question:

    “Thanks for the link to the “official” LDS doctrine that Jesus=Jehovah. Again, this doctrine makes no sense to me. Why was Jesus Christ the primary recipient of all praise and prayer in the OT? Why the change in the NT? Why didn’t OT saints pray to the Father?”

    Is there somewhere that uses the phrase “Jesus was the primary recipient of praise” and/or “OT saints did not pray to the Father”? Or is that your extrapolation of the Living Christ proclamation?

  29. July 16, 2009 12:11 am

    Brian, my questions relate to the teaching that Jehovah=Jesus. If I haven’t made myself clear, I simply disagree with this teaching and I believe this teaching prevents LDS from seeing the nature of God in the same way that I do. As I said in my OP, Hebrews says it was “GOD” who was speaking to the OT prophets (Heb. 1:1) and in the context this is clearly referring to God the Father, because the verse goes on to say that in these last days God has spoken unto us “by His Son” (1:2). The verse makes a differentiation between how God spoke in times past and how He has spoken in these last days. In times past God the Father spoke unto the OT prophets. In these last days, God is speaking unto us by His Son who He has revealed to be “the express image” of God the Father (1:3).

    The revelation that Jesus is God (which resulted in the formulation of the doctrine of the Trinity) did not occur until the NT. Throughout the OT the OT saints were worshiping and praying to the one divine Being, YHWH, who they understood to be the one true God. They lacked the fuller knowledge that we have, due to NT revelation, that this one divine Being exists in 3 persons.

    So, it simply makes no sense to me – this teaching that Jehovah=Jesus. When I used the phrase “Jesus was the primary recipient of praise” in the OT I am referring to the teaching that Jehovah=Jesus. YHWH is the primary recipient of prayer and praise in the OT so if YHWH=Jesus then that would indicate a radical change between the OT and NT as far as which member of the Godhead is the primary recipient of praise & prayer. Does that make sense?

    PC said,

    By LDS meta-thought, ever since the Fall, man had lost the right and privilege to be in the presence of the Father. From that time on, man had been cut off from the Father, and had access to the mediator of the future covenant, Jesus. As God, Jesus (YHWH in premortality) was He whom all prayer and divine action from God came through Him.

    This is very interesting, but my question is can you show me anywhere in the Bible that supports this view or alludes to it?

    I decided to look into this claim by examining the Hebrew texts in my Bible software and this is what I found:

    First of all, Adam & Eve were enjoying the presence of “YHWH Elohim” (Gen. 3:8) prior to the Fall (which I’m assuming refers to Jesus according to LDS, not God the Father). So, even prior to the fall, YHWH is prominent in the OT texts. YHWH Elohim is also the one who banishes them from the Garden. This isn’t matching up with the explanation provided by the LDS church that prior to the Fall man was enjoying the presence of God the Father.

    Later, after the Flood, God (Elohim) showed His mercy upon mankind by making an “everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth” that He would never again judge the earth by a Flood and He set a rainbow in the sky as a token of this everlasting covenant between Him and all the earth (Gen. 9:9-17).

    After the Fall, we see God (Elohim) making a covenant with Abraham and Abraham falling on his face and “God [Elohim] talked with him” (Gen. 17:3). God made an “everlasting covenant” with Abraham and with his seed after him promising to be “their God [Elohim]” (17:8). We see Abraham praying directly to God (Elohim) again in Genesis 20:17 and God [Elohim] ministering to Hagar in her need (Gen. 21:17-21). Specifically the text says of Hagar’s son “and God [Elohim] was with the lad” (21:20).

    I skimmed ahead a few more chapters and see God [Elohim] responding to Rachel and Leah, etc. None of this is jiving with the explanation given by the LDS church. It simply does not line up with the Hebrew texts. Joseph Smith knew a bit of Hebrew I believe. That is probably why he never set forth this theory that Jehovah=Jesus.

  30. July 16, 2009 12:32 am

    “This is very interesting, but my question is can you show me anywhere in the Bible that supports this view or alludes to it?”

    I thought this blog was titled “I Love Mormons,” not “I Love People Who Already Share My Assumptions.”

  31. psychochemiker permalink
    July 16, 2009 1:08 am

    Yeah, Jessica. You’re missing the context about when those texts were written, and by whom. Part of loving Mormons is understanding why they believe what they believe, and how it makes sense to them. Quite frankly, the fact that it doesn’t make sense to you really means little to me, just as my not understanding your viewpoint of trinity ultimately matters little to you. Besides, I thought we had already established that Mormons, as well as Evangelicals, believe things not taught in the Bible?

    Under LDS meta-thought, the texts were written post-exile from the Garden. Even the human author who wrote the text probably didn’t know there was anything more to God, than YHWH, no plurality, no trinity. Even Isaiah, with his assent into heaven doesn’t describe a plurality in God. Of course, some other texts that have been excised from the Old Testament do (Testament of Enoch), but even LDS accept only the canonized OT as canonical, and reject the apocryphal works.

    I just go back to my original assertion, “Strict monotheism” is incomplete by both LDS and “trinitarian” standards. And I can’t see the difference between that statement and yours: “They lacked the fuller knowledge that we have, due to NT revelation, that this one divine Being exists in 3 persons.”

    The assumption behind both of these statements, (which I claim are equivalent), is contrary to several other Evangelical Christians including Stephanie and NChristine. This is one of the many times, I could point out, that Evangelical doctrine is just as jello-like (or gelly-like) as LDS doctrine.

  32. Stephanie permalink
    July 16, 2009 2:57 am

    Hi PC and Seth,

    First of all I would like to address this issue that was brought up by both of you. 🙂

    I thought this blog was titled “I Love Mormons,” not “I Love People Who Already Share My Assumptions.”

    And

    Part of loving Mormons is understanding why they believe what they believe, and how it makes sense to them.

    I absolutely do love Mormons and have many dear friends among them. I know Jessica does as well. I always anticipate both of you guy’s opinion and thoughts and value your ideas very much. I think you are both very intelligent and intellectual. But, the Bible never says that we won’t have disagreements—even among those we love dearly! 🙂 We should strive to be like the Apostle Paul and “speak the truth in love” (Eph 4:15). I know that the bloggisphere doesn’t translate emotions and feelings very well and it definitely doesn’t show facial expression or tone of voice. You’ll just have to take my word for it. I do have a continual positive regard for both of you (and all the rest of you LDS folks out there!). Doctrinal positions are beside the point in this matter and I wanted to be sure that you knew that!

    As far as Trinitarianism goes I find that the doctrine is prevalent in Scripture. We could make the argument of which view is least confusing but that is really irrelevant. Our ability to understand or not understand a view is not what makes it true. However, what makes the most sense in my understanding of the Scripture is a compilation of Biblical facts. They are as follows. God the Father is God. Jesus has the same attributes and power as the Father (John 1:1, Matt 9:2, John 5:25). He also allows humans to worship Him (Matt 14:33, John 20:28-29). The Holy Spirit is referenced as having the same attributes and powers as God (Acts 5:3-4, Heb 9:14, 2 Pet 1:21, Gen 1:2, Matt 3:16-17). The Old Testament and New Testament teach monotheism (Deut 6:4, 1 Tim 1:17). To me the most natural conclusion to come to is the doctrine of the Trinity.

    I don’t know if you all enjoy reading Evangelical texts (to be fair I am reading a book from FAIR recommended by Ethan called Of Faith and Reason: 80 Evidences Supporting the Prophet Joseph Smith) but there is a really excellent section of Lewis Sperry Chafer’s Systematic Theology on Trinitarianism. It is the best, most well supported and all-encompassing pieces I have read on the subject. The section is found in Volume 1 pages 272-414. It honestly is excellent and understandable and I heartily recommend it.

    Stephanie

  33. July 16, 2009 3:49 am

    Hello Psychochemiker,

    Would you please e-mail me at bielikov@yahoo.com as I have a question for you?

    Hello Jessica and Stephanie:

    I am just curious. When you say that you love Mormons, what do you mean by that? Have you observed Latter-day Saints and love their fruits? Or, is it more that you love the LDS people and feel sorry for them? Or, …? Why the Mormons, and not the Muslims, or Jehovah’s Witness, or Jews?

    As a Latter-day Saint I love people from all faiths and those who do not have a faith, also. Now, if I am on a plane and someone near me brings out the Bible, I feel a magnetic attraction and a huge desire to talk to them about what they are reading and about the good news of the Gospel and to rejoice together in our love for what we have in common. There are people who may be religious but are not men or women of the Book, but there is something about the Bible that is so very powerful. Now, of course, if I can share with them my testimony of the Book of Mormon, and of the Prophet Joseph Smith, even better. But I honestly can rejoice in that which we have in common.

    My first cousin on my father’s side is a Jewish Rabbi; my first cousin on my mother’s side is a Catholic Priest. My brother converted and became a Muslim about five years ago or so, and I converted to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints after reading the Book of Mormon. I was baptized 35 years ago, but my conversion process began way before that. I was given a personal testimony that God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost where three separate beings but one in purpose when I was about thirteen.

    I am writing a book, Isaiah Testifies of Christ.

  34. July 16, 2009 3:54 am

    Sorry, not where, but were, I keep making that mistake. Or better,

    I was given a personal testimony that God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost are three separate beings but one in purpose when I was about thirteen.

    I received the Book of Mormon a few years later while I still lived in Chile and was baptized at 19 in California.

  35. July 16, 2009 5:44 am

    My point was that when you are talking to Mormons and claiming to be doing outreach to them, it makes utterly no sense to start defensively demanding “well show me where the Bible says that.”

    We don’t believe the Bible to be the sole word of God.

    How many times do I have to repeat it before you finally get it.

    This isn’t outreach behavior Jessica. It’s boundary-maintenance.

    It basically says – “well, maybe YOU’RE going to hell, but your not taking me with you.”

    Sorry to disturb your defenses. I thought you were actually trying to talk to me. Mr. Sulu, raise shields to maximum!

  36. July 16, 2009 3:29 pm

    Jessica, yes your position is clearer now. I want to reiterate that I think (and I stress that this is my interpretation) you are coming at the “Jesus=Jehovah” statement the wrong way. I think the motivation behind that teaching was to stress that Jesus has always been God, and as such he has always been actively engaging mankind. And I think that teaching became necessary as Mormons stressed the distinction between the Father and the Son.

    You can argue that the implications of that teaching are misleading because it positions Jesus as “the primary recipient of praise,” but I really don’t think that’s what the statement was meant to teach. And, fwiw, I’ve never heard a Mormon discuss it in that way; instead, it has always been discussed as a way to stress Jesus’ premortal divinity. That’s not my attempt to brush the problem aside—I’ve argued elsewhere that the “Jesus=Jehovah”/”Father=Elohim” statement generates some confusion—but to suggest that that confusion can be resolved by considering the teaching in context.

    As an aside, I don’t see why this teaching in particular prevents LDS from seeing God as you do. If we believed that Jesus only became God after his life on earth then we’d be even further separated from your view. I consider “Jesus=Jehovah” to be a minor difference in comparison to other beliefs we hold about God, such as viewing them as distinct beings and rejecting creation from nothing.

  37. July 16, 2009 11:49 pm

    Seth,

    it makes utterly no sense to start defensively demanding “well show me where the Bible says that.”

    We don’t believe the Bible to be the sole word of God.

    Seth, I am well aware that LDS do not believe the Bible to be the sole word of God. I am also well aware that LDS do not prove their doctrines from the Bible. The divide between us started back when Joseph Smith claimed he would prove his doctrines from the Bible and we don’t believe he ever did.

    However, LDS members have told me countless times that even if a certain doctrine isn’t in the Bible, the Bible does not contradict later LDS revelations. I was simply showing how the Bible contradicted the “LDS meta-thought” that PC provided. Rather than being defensive, I believe my response poses quite a challenge to the LDS view. I am open and welcome to receiving mutual challenge to my views, but I believe I amply demonstrated that not only could this “meta-thought” not be shown from the Bible, but in fact the Bible actually contradicts it. You claim this is not outreach behavior, but in my view outreach to LDS necessarily involves questioning and challenging the LDS world view. It’s the same thing LDS do when they try to evangelize us.

  38. July 16, 2009 11:59 pm

    “It’s the same thing LDS do when they try to evangelize us.”

    Most missionaries I know don’t take this approach. It’s more of a “here’s this cool stuff we have – pray about it and see if it jives with you.” We don’t waste much breath criticizing the Evangelical notion of “cheap grace” for instance. And other than giving a basic statement that there was an apostasy, we don’t waste a lot of breath on particulars. Nor do we attack vapid Evangelical notions of heaven, or even the monstrous heresy of 5-Point Calvinism. We’re just not really that interested in your failures, to be honest. We’d rather focus on where we go from here with people who are ready to go somewhere else.

    Usually, the only way to get a Mormon to start throwing punches on these topics these days is to pick a fight with him in the first place. We’re more interested in the task ahead, than dwelling on past missteps.

    A healthy enough approach in my opinion that works for a lot of people.

  39. July 17, 2009 12:06 am

    Hi Gregorio,

    you asked, “I am just curious. When you say that you love Mormons, what do you mean by that? Have you observed Latter-day Saints and love their fruits? Or, is it more that you love the LDS people and feel sorry for them? Or, …? Why the Mormons, and not the Muslims, or Jehovah’s Witness, or Jews?”

    If you review my About Me page you can see that I have Mormon ancestors and many extended relatives who are Mormons. My grandma, however, became a born again Christian and left the Mormon faith when she was quite young. She and my grandfather held a firm conviction that Joseph Smith was not a prophet of God. None of their children or grandchildren are Mormons, but we have many extended relatives who are. I also live in Southern Idaho (one of the hearts of Mormonville) where I’m kind of “surrounded” 🙂 So, hopefully that explains a little bit about why I have a special heart to speak to Mormons about the issues that separate us. I obviously care or I wouldn’t go to the trouble. I also have a heart for each of the other groups you mentioned, in particular Jehovah’s Witnesses, but from what I’ve observed I don’t think they are very active in the blogosphere.

  40. July 17, 2009 12:25 am

    Brian,

    You can argue that the implications of that teaching are misleading because it positions Jesus as “the primary recipient of praise,” but I really don’t think that’s what the statement was meant to teach.

    I don’t feel I’ve communicated myself very clearly. My main concern with this teaching is not the implication that Jesus would be the primary recipient of praise in the OT. My position is that the OT reveals that there is only one God. Isaiah 43:10 says that no god was formed before Yahweh and no gods will be formed after Yahweh – He is the one and only true God. Period.

    Fast track to the NT. Jesus claims to be God, claiming the divine name of Yahweh (John 8:58). Jews pick up stones to stone Him for blasphemy.

    Embracing both of these revelations (Isaiah 43:10 and John 8:58) is an example of how the doctrine of the Trinity is formed (1 Being in 3 persons). This is just 1 example, but the doctrine is formed based on the fact that Jesus revealed Himself to be the God of the OT and, according to the OT, there is only one God. But this significance is lost on those who embrace the LDS interpretation that the God of the OT was actually Jesus. For LDS, there is nothing Trinitarianly-significant (do you like my new word?) 🙂 about Jesus claiming the divine name of Yahweh in John 8:58.

  41. Michael Mattei permalink
    July 17, 2009 1:47 am

    Yeah, I have some Mormonism in my family history too. My Great-Grandfather was one of the first Mormon Missionaries. He too left the Mormon church and his son, my grandfather became a Nazarene minister.

    I am a little befuddled by the latest set of rebuffs. I thought the point of this blog was that it was to be a place where, respectfully, the differences in between the Mormon and Christian religion could be discussed. Frankly, even if things get a little confrontational, as long as the tone remains civil and arguments are formulated logically, it can’t be anything but helpful on both sides. What better way to engage your theology than to address these questions? To quote my favorite Mormon (Glenn Beck) quoting my favorite Deist Thomas Jefferson: “Question with boldness even the existence of a God, because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than of blind-folded fear.” Let’s not discard the question just because we don’t like it or we find it difficult or the implications disturbing. Let’s embrace with joy the opportunity to contemplate and wrestle with the finest subject we can engage in: God.

    Seth Rogers, you in particular seem to like to make snide and vaguely insulting comments pointed at Evangelicals, rather than wanting to engage the topic that Jessica has presented. You say: “We’re more interested in the task ahead, than dwelling on past missteps.” First off all, I’d comment that ignoring history is like building a house without a foundation but setting that aside. You’ve said something interesting here that I would sincerely like to have you expand. What is the “task ahead”? I’m assuming its not a conversion of Evangelicals to Mormonsim, because in the context of your objections that would seem enormously hypocritical. So what is the task ahead you envision, a form of joint outreach involving both Evangelicals and Christians? If so to whom and what form would that take?

  42. July 17, 2009 2:05 am

    “I’m assuming its not a conversion of Evangelicals to Mormonsim, because in the context of your objections that would seem enormously hypocritical.”

    Why?

  43. psychochemiker permalink
    July 17, 2009 2:09 am

    Michael Mattei,
    Sure Seth has some rough edges, but they are also somewhat endearing. {g}

    No one can always accept what they feel as [unfair] attacks on their faith without ever getting upset, or impatient.
    Quite frankly, having served as missionaries, and having interacted with a fair number of Evangelicals, I’ve learned pretty well to to see if they’re trying to understand us, or just trying to figure out where to land the best blow.
    It’s been over 10 years since How wide the Divide, but the desire only tear down Mormonism is alive and well.

  44. July 17, 2009 2:30 am

    We’re more interested in the task ahead, than dwelling on past missteps.

    I’ve gotten several replies in my posts at T&S to the effect of, “What do you have to say about all those mean things evangelicals have done to and said about Mormons?”, even though I haven’t done any posts designed to pick fights. And I remember one of the apologists at MADB who couldn’t stop talking about how nasty evangelicals are telling me that “a few hands waved in friendship does not obviate a thousand spears thrown.”

    As far as the missionary discussions go, my missionaries repeatedly attacked things like different Protestant modes of baptism and doctrinal differences between traditional Christians. I’m told that my missionaries were very, very stupid, but still.

    I’m not so sure Mormons are really doing better on the not-dwelling-on-past-missteps thing. There’s something people like about licking their own wounds and rubbing salt in other’s.

  45. July 17, 2009 3:11 am

    Jessica: you’re getting clearer. Can I make one correction?

    “the LDS interpretation that the God of the OT was actually included Jesus.” There’s a big difference, and it’s the point I keep trying to make. I’m okay if you disagree with that view (i.e., you think it is un-biblical), but I want you to understand that it is the LDS view.

    “My main concern with this teaching is not the implication that Jesus would be the primary recipient of praise in the OT. My position is that the OT reveals that there is only one God.” Then my hunch above was correct: it’s not this particular teaching per se that bothers you, it’s the LDS rejection of trinitarianism that does. In other words, if no LDS person had ever said “Jesus = Jehovah” then you’d still have the same basic bone to pick. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying you can’t or shouldn’t pick that bone, I just want to be clear that the bone is not the “Jesus = Jehovah” statement.

    But let’s take a step back, if you’re willing, and look at the question this way: If a religion is going to accept the Bible but reject both trinitarianism and modalism, what possible conclusions could it reach in regard to the relationship between “Jehovah” and “Jesus”?

    “But this significance is lost on those who embrace the LDS interpretation that the God of the OT was actually Jesus. For LDS, there is nothing Trinitarianly-significant (do you like my new word?) about Jesus claiming the divine name of Yahweh in John 8:58.” I love the new word. And I agree, there is nothing Trinitarianly-significant about that statement (or any other statement, of course) to LDS. But you’d be wrong to say that there isn’t still something about that statement that is very significant to LDS . It is, after all, where Jesus lays down the LDS doctrine that “Jesus = Jehovah.” {grin}

  46. July 17, 2009 3:12 am

    Jack: mmmm…wounds.

  47. July 17, 2009 3:15 am

    You know Brian, the thought just occurred to me, maybe my annoyance at Mormons who seem unwilling to let me be free from the history of evangelical countercult misdeeds has a parallel in what I do to Mormons.

    Maybe this is exactly how Mormons feel when I complain about polygamy, the Adam-God doctrine, blacks and the priesthood, etc.

    Maybe I’ll be a bit quieter about those topics from now on.

  48. Michael Mattei permalink
    July 17, 2009 3:23 am

    Me: “I’m assuming its not a conversion of Evangelicals to Mormonsim, because in the context of your objections that would seem enormously hypocritical.”

    Seth: “Why?”

    Because if you think that concerns about apparent inadequacies in Mormon theology are either unloving or unfair while expressing concerns about Christianity (which is what “evangelizing Mormonism” is, when it is targeted at Christians*). You are saying that its alright to challenge Christian theology but to challenge Mormon theological precepts is somehow improper or unfair.

    If the discussion won’t be two-way it becomes less a discussion and more a monologue. Which is not the stated goal of this blog.

    Finally if your sole purpose here is to witness Mormonism and you won’t address Jessica directly but instead just raise unrelated objections like:

    “Since when did trinitarians ever care about making sense?

    Isn’t it all some divine “mystery” anyway?”

    You are neither addressing Stephenie in a respectful manner nor are you really addressing her in a relevant manner. I am a crappy evangelist, I’ll admit it, but even I know you have to engage people where they are, not mock them for not being on the same page as you.

    Or this gem: “Nor do we attack vapid Evangelical notions of heaven, or even the monstrous heresy of 5-Point Calvinism.”

    Perhaps you don’t in the Missionary context, but you do in this context. How is that better? It’s like claiming the moral high ground while you are in fact digging yourself a low place to stand in the same breath. Yes, I know I’ve mixed my metaphor. Perhaps, if your goal is embody the function a Mormon missionary and recruit for your faith, you should emulate that high standard of behavior here. It would at least seem less self contradictory.

    Now I don’t want to leave you on a low note so:

    God be with you and good-night.

    * = Unless you aren’t convinced of the superiority of Mormonism to Christianity when witnessing it, which would make you monster, intentionally acting against people’s benefit out of malice or caprice. I don’t think you are a monster.

  49. July 17, 2009 5:07 am

    For the record, when I mentioned “vapid Evangelical notions of heaven”, I was referring to a viewpoint that I knew full well was not necessarily representative of Evangelicalism at large, but rather merely one viewpoint among many within the tradition.

    Typically, I leave other religions alone, believe it or not.

    You’ll rarely hear me say much bad about Islam or Judaism or Buddhism.

    But that’s because they largely leave us alone too. Thus my reaction to those religions is more curiosity and wondering how their teachings and viewpoints could be used to enrich my own religious viewpoint.

    If I encounter Evangelicals online on the attack against my religion, I tend to respond in kind. And, like it or not, the stance of Evangelicalism towards Mormonism is still largely hostile despite progress made in the recent past.

    I’m not really concerned about proselyting people who are obviously hostile and stubbornly opposed to my faith. My only real purpose in interacting with such people is to make sure they aren’t getting away with stuff without a Mormon response. That’s about it.

    That saic, I’m not omniscient or omnipresent, so I get stretched thin on occasion, and I don’t have the resources available to wade into a full-fledged debate on a complex theological issue. So I sometimes take the easy way out and merely respond to peripheral issues raised in the discussion rather than the central point. A couple of my posts here were of that nature.

    And some issues have been frankly done to death, and I find little or nothing interesting about them anymore.

    The whole grace vs. works issue would be a good example. The more I’ve debated this with Evangelicals over the years, the more I’ve become convinced that it’s really nothing more than a massive theological chicken-or-the-egg debate. I just don’t see any real differences worth getting excited over anymore. So such debates tend to induce eye-rolling in me, and I get a bit sarcastic.

    My goal is not really missionary work. It’s more of a watchdog function combined with a hope that there still might be something to learn from the Evangelical read on God and the universe. A hope that is, I might add, often realized.

    So I feel enriched from reading blogs like this. But I’m not going to let attacks go unanswered either.

    Sorry if that’s all a bit incoherent and rambling. It’s a bit late and I’ve had a long week.

  50. July 17, 2009 6:08 am

    Our 11th Article of Faith:

    “We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.”

    I truly believe that as LDS strive–we don’t always succeed every time–to live by these words.

  51. July 17, 2009 2:00 pm

    Jack: I’m not sure what I said that made this thought occur to you:

    “maybe my annoyance at Mormons who seem unwilling to let me be free from the history of evangelical countercult misdeeds has a parallel in what I do to Mormons…. Maybe I’ll be a bit quieter about those topics from now on.”

    Maybe you should be quieter…

    …but prolly not. As long as you apply the same scrutiny to both sides—which I think you do—I don’t think you have too much to worry about. Has a given church made missteps? Has that same church taken reasonable steps to address their mistakes? If so, then it’s time to drop it. Of course, there’s still a lot of room to argue there—the devil is in the details.

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