Lesson 18 of the Gospel Doctrines Class covers Mosiah 12-17 of the Book of Mormon. The lesson in the teacher’s guide is entitled “God Himself. . .Shall Redeem His People”. This title is based on Mosiah 15:1 which states: “And now Abinadi said unto them: I would that ye should understand that God himself shall come down among the children of men, and shall redeem his people.” This obviously refers to Jesus. Verse 2 continues by saying: “And because he dwelleth in flesh he shall be called the Son of God. . .” Obviously here, and in many other places, the Book of Mormon refers to Jesus as God.
That sparks many questions. For example, when and how, according to Mormonism, did Jesus become God? It teaches that people must have a physical body to become a god since it believes that Heavenly Father has a body. But it also teaches that Jesus was Jehovah, the God of the Old Testament. How, then, was Jesus God before he had a body? How could he come down already as God to redeem us? I repeat: How and when, according to Mormonism, did Jesus become God?
Mormonism’s identification with Jesus as Jehovah (LORD) and Heavenly Father as Elohim (God) also breeds confusion. For often the Bible places those two names together to describe one person. Just one example, “And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone. I will make him an help meet for him.” (Genesis 2:18) Why would the Bible so frequently use LORD God as a description of one person when it is, according to Mormonism, two persons?
Or how about Isaiah 45:21? “Who hath told it from that time? have not I the LORD? And there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me.” How does the Father fit into that verse if there is no God besides the LORD?
Something else that is puzzling is Mormonism’s interpretation of the passages that say there is only one God. The most common explanation I have heard from Mormons is that this means that there is only one God whom we are to worship. But who is that God? Talking about Heavenly Father Gospel Principles says: “God is the Supreme and Absolute Being in whom we believe and whom we worship.” (p. 5)
But Jesus often is referred to as the God of this world. “Jesus Christ is the God of this world. He has made it very plain in his many self-introductions.” (Spencer W. Kimball, Oct. 1977 General Conference) In a news release dated October, Elder M. Russell Ballard answered the question, do you worship Jesus Christ in your Church services, in this way: “Anyone that visits The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is welcome and you would be, they would be impressed, totally, with the devotion and the center of our faith being Jesus Christ, the son of God. You would hear the name of Jesus Christ mentioned time after time after time. We pray in His name. We teach in His name. We have the communion, or the sacrament we call it, all in His name in remembrance of His atoning sacrifice. We partake of the bread and the water in renewing our covenants we’ve made with Him. When the meeting is concluded we close it in the name of Jesus Christ.”
It’s interesting that he doesn’t come right out and say that they worship Jesus. Some might argue that I am straining at gnats but you see the same distinction made in other places. For example, under “Worship” in True to the Faith it talks only about worshipping the Father. One example: “As you reverently partake of the sacrament and attend the temple, you remember and worship your Heavenly Father and express your gratitude for His Son, Jesus Christ.” (p. 188)
Does Mormonism espouse both the worship of Heavenly Father and Jesus? If so, how does that coincide with its explanation of the Bible passages that there is only one God?
These are just some of the questions that arise from Mormonism’s teaching of Jesus.