Although there are many doctrines which the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has in common with that taught by traditional Christianity yet there some that are unique to the LDS faith. Perhaps the best known one concerns the doctrine of the Godhead.
Not only did the ancient Israelites believed in one God (Deut. 6:4), but Jesus Himself also taught that there is one God (John 10:30). And so, the great majority of churches have taught for centuries that the Father, Son and Holy Ghost are one God. By this they mean that these three terms do not refer to three separate people, but are all the same being.
How can this be? How can the Father also be the Son who is also the Holy Ghost? This is where Christians begin to divide. Some teach that these are merely different manifestations of the same being - i.e., like water, steam, and ice are all the same thing, but appear in different forms. Others believe these are terms meant to represent God's functions - i.e., He is the Father because He created the universe, He is the Son because He came to save us, and He is the Holy Ghost because He guides us spiritually. Others say that since God is a spirit (John 4:24), He is therefore a much different form of being than we are, and consequently it is beyond our ability to comprehend how He can be three different entities and yet still be one. In other words, it is a mystery that we cannot explain.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints declares that the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are three separate and distinct individual people. That is, they each have a separate human form and each has their own individual personality. The LDS church also teaches that each of these distinct persons is a God. Hence, the conclusion is made that we believe in three Gods, not one. Since this seems to say something different than not only what is recorded in the Bible but what has been accepted as truth for centuries, this viewpoint has been ridiculed and attacked as being anti-Christian.
On the surface this would seem to be a valid argument, however, that is only because the word "one" is being interpreted in a very limited way. When properly understood, this is not only in harmony with the Bible, but we gain a much clearer concept of what type of being "God" is.
To most Christians the word "one" is interpreted to represent the number "1". In other words, if you have "one" of something and you add another "one" to it then you have "two" somethings. When used in this sense the term "one" is purely a numerical value. Hence, if the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are "one" that means there is only "1" being (numerically speaking). If they are distinct and different entities, that would make each of them a "one" and together that would make them a threesome, instead of a "one"some.
But that is not the only definition of this word. The dictionary tells us that the word "one" can also mean: "Shared by or common to all: as one nation indivisible" or "a state of unity or harmony" or "being all the same." The question to be asked then is: What does the Bible mean by the use of the word "one?" To determine it's intended meaning we need to examine how the word is used in the context of the sentence.
Unfortunately, in John 10:30 there is no way to determine the meaning of the word "one" as used in this verse, therefore we must look to see how it is used in other parts of the Bible. The first use is found in Genesis 2:24, where God had just made the woman Eve and gave her to Adam and then made this statement, "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall become one flesh."
God, in effect, gave a commandment that a husband and wife shall become one flesh. Does this mean they are to become, numerically speaking, "one" person? Obviously not. It means they were to become one in the sense of sharing or having things in common; they were suppose to become united, indivisible, or be in a state of harmony with each other. Is this not what we today believe marriage should be like?
The next time the Bible again uses this word we read: "And the Lord God said, Behold the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil" (Genesis 3:22). First of all, notice that the Bible refers to both Adam and Eve as "man" - a singular term rather than a plural word. Does this mean that the two of them had now literally become numerically "one" being? Of course not. Furthermore, God said the two of these people had become as "one" with God. Does this mean they were numerically a part of "1" God? Not at all.
As we look at this verse in context we see that Adam and Eve now had something that God, and whomever He was talking to, had - knowledge of good and evil. They had their eyes opened and now knew something they didn't know before. They became "one" with God because they now had something in common with Him, and they shared in something that seemed to be unique to God, at least up to that point in time. Since once they received this knowledge they couldn't lose it, in this respect, they were indivisible from God. In other words, you can't divide Adam and Eve into one category of people who don't know good from evil and put God in another category of someone who does know about good and evil.
Also notice that when speaking about Himself, God uses the plural word "us" rather than the singular word "Me." If God is a numerical being of "one" then why does He use the plural noun? Some say that He was talking to the angels when He made this comment, and perhaps so, but that would mean the angels were also one with God. Either way, we're left with only one conclusion - there is more to being "one" than just being a number.
After the time of Noah, apparently there was only "one" language being spoken. This can be taken to mean the number "one" or it can also be interpreted to mean that the language spoken was common to all, or shared by all. At that time, the people had decided to build a tower that would reach the heavens. "And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded. And the Lord said, Behold the people is one" (Genesis 11:5,6). Again, we need to ask ourselves what does this word "one" mean. Does it mean that all of these people were literally "1" in a numeric sense, or is it more reasonable to conclude that it means they were united in their efforts to build this tower which was an affront to God, that they had a common goal, and that they all felt the same in respect to this undertaking?
The answer is very obvious. We further read that God confounded their language and they could no longer achieve their collective desire. In other words, God caused them to talk in many different languages (numerically speaking) and as a result they could not continue the common purpose they once had. Since they couldn't share the same language, they no longer could remain as "one", or as a united people.
We refer to the Ten Commandments as the Law of Moses. That means there is only "one" Law. We don't say there are ten laws of Moses; we say there is only "one". And yet we know that in this "one" law, not only is there contained "ten" laws, but there are actually hundreds of laws that the Israelites were commanded by God through Moses to keep. Yet all of these rules are referred to as the (one and only) law (singular, not plural) of Moses.
But what did Jesus mean when He said that He and His Father are "one"? Did He mean they were numerically "1" being, or did He mean they had something in common which they shared together, that they were united or indivisible, that the two of them were of the same mind, had the same goals, and shared the same glory?
As we said before, from the verse in John 10:30 alone we cannot make that determination, but let's look at another statement Jesus made where He used the word "one" in referring to Him and His Father.
Jesus was in Jerusalem in an upper room having supper the night before He was to be crucified. His heart was heavy, and, wanting to strengthen the apostles that were with Him, He gave them considerable counsel and instruction. But this was not enough. He was still concerned for their spiritual well being, so He prayed to His Father in heaven and said, "Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one as we are. Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word that they all may be one: as thou, Father, art in me and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: And the glory which thou hast given me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one" (John 17:11,20-22).
Christ's fervent prayer for His followers was that all of them, collectively, would become "ONE" in the same way as he and his father were one! If we are to interpret this word "one" in a numerical sense then we have to conclude that all Christians are to become "1" person, not tens of thousands of people. Then we have to say there is only "1" Christian in the entire world.
But we don't say that. We say that Christians have "1" faith, "1" belief, and "1" God they worship. They all share a common Bible, they all pray to the same person, and they are united in their acceptance of one savior. Hence Christians are (or at least are suppose to be) one, even though there may be thousands or millions of them.
Jesus prayed for all Christians to become "one" just like, or in the same way that He and His Father were one. The clear context of this word means, "Shared by or common to all," as "indivisible" or "a state of unity or harmony" or "being all the same." Certainly the Father and the Son are indivisible. Certainly they are united and in harmony with each other and share the same goals and have the same aspirations (as Jesus said, "Not my will be done but thine"). It is in this way that the two of them are one.
The apostle Paul taught this very same doctrine. He wrote, "for ye are all one in Christ" (Gal. 3:28), because "he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit."(1 Cor. 6:17). Notice how he speaks of all Christians as being one with Christ. He further explained his comments by writing, "For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body" (1 Cor. 12:12). "So we, being many, are one body in Christ" (Rom. 12:5, 16).
Just as the human body has many different and individual parts, yet they all work together as one unit. Likewise, even though there are many different and individual Christians, we all belong to the one "body of Christ." Paul then declared, that in this same way "so is Christ" one with His Father. Paul further wrote, "For both he that sanctifieth (i.e. God), and they who are sanctified (i.e. the believers in God) are all one" (Heb. 2:11). Therefore, not only is there one God, but we likewise are to be one with God.
But what does the Bible mean when it says that Christians are "one" with God? It means we have "one heart and one soul" (Acts 4:32), that we have "the same mine toward one another" (Rom. 12:16), that "with one mind and one mouth [we] glorify God" (Rom. 15:6), that we "all speak the same thing and that there be no divisions among [us]; but that [we] be perfectly joined together in the same mind" (1 Cor. 1:10), that we "stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together" being "likeminded" and "being of one accord" (Phil. 1:27; 2:2).
Notice that all these scriptures indicate that we become one with God because we are in a state of unity with God and that we share the same mind of God,. And it is in this same way that the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are considered as being one.
Yet, having said this, there are still many in the Christian world who cannot bring themselves to believe that the Bible teaches that the Father and the Son are two, separate and distinct individual beings who both hold the title of "God." In their way of thinking, that means there are two "gods" (numerically speaking) instead of the numerical "one" God which they feel the Bible teaches.
In a sense, they are right. There is only "one" being whom we known as the only true, supreme God. However, Jesus Christ never referred to Himself as being that God. Instead, He is always referred to God as being our Father in heaven. Paul likewise made the same distinction. He taught that there is "one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all." (Eph 4:6). Jesus is not the Father. He is the Son. As Christians, it is God, the Father we worship. Listen to what Paul preached: "But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and [there is also] one lord Jesus Christ by whom are all things and we by him." (1 Cor.8:6). Notice that Paul clearly states there is only "one God," and that being is "the Father," not the Son. However, he then adds a second person to the list (Jesus Christ), whom he refers to by the title of "lord," thereby indicating there are two beings, not one.
Most people think that Paul is saying that Jesus is both God and Lord, but that is not what this verse says. It makes a clear and definite distinction between God the Father and Jesus Christ, His Son. It is interesting to note that in most places in the Bible, Jesus is referred to by the title of "lord" rather than God. However, the Father is never referred to as "lord." Instead, He is always called "God." And that's because, He alone is the one true God. In fact, the Bible specifically teaches that "the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth" (John 4:23).
Repeatedly throughout the New Testament, the Bible makes a specific, clear-cut, unambiguous separation between the Father and the Son. Consider these scriptural verses: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." (He is both "God" and "Father" to Jesus - Eph. 1:3,7, 1 Peter 1:3) "We give thanks to God, and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." (Col. 1:3). "That ye with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." (Rom. 15:6). "truly our fellowship is with the Father and [also] with his Son Jesus Christ." (1 John 1:3).
In most of his opening comments Paul writes "Grace be unto you, and peace from God our Father, and (i.e., as well as from His Son) the Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Cor. 1:3; 2 Cor. 1:2; Gal. 1:3; Eph. 1:2; Phil.1:2; 1 Thes. 1:1; 2 Thes. 1:2). By the very wording which Paul uses, he clearly states that the Father and the Son are two separate and distinct individuals.
Not withstanding these verses of scripture, many Christians still cling to the idea that the title "God the Father" and "the Lord Jesus Christ" refer to one being. To say otherwise, would be to admit that there are two beings whom we worship as God. (The Bible does occasionally refer to Jesus as God - see 1 Tim. 1:1; Heb. 1:8,9). However, there are other scriptures which further clarify this matter.
Paul told Timothy, "There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus" (1 Tim 2:6). This verse of scripture definitely states that there is only one God. Yet it just as clearly states that there is also another person who is the "one mediator between God and men," and that mediator is "the man Christ Jesus." If Jesus is God, how can He stand between Himself and mankind as a mediator? The only way this verse makes any sense is if God is someone different than the person doing the mediating.
Jesus is also known as our advocate with the Father (1 John 2:1), and Paul states that He makes intercession for us (Rom. 8:34). By definition, a mediator, an advocate or someone who intercedes for us is someone who takes on the role as our defense attorney, pleading our case before the judge. The very imagery which the Bible uses shows three separate and distinct beings - man, God, and Jesus.
There are those who claim that despite these Biblical quotes, the triune God is not something we can fully comprehend. Therefore, they argue that such statements by Paul are feeble attempts to explain the unexplainable. However, such a theory is not supported by the Bible. Paul gave us a clear illustration of the difference between Jesus and God when he wrote, "But I would have you know that the head of every man is Christ and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God" (1 Cor. 11:3).
When Paul declares that Christ is "the head of every man," he is saying that man is a servant to Christ. There are numerous passages in the Bible where Jesus is portrayed as the Master and the believers are likened unto His servants. In the same way, the man is "the head of the woman." That means, the husband is the lord and master of his household, and the wife is commanded to be in subjection to him, in the same way that the church is to be in subjection to Christ (Eph. 5:24).
But then, Paul concludes his remarks by explaining that "the head of Christ is God!" In other words, God is the Master and Jesus is God's servant. The Bible clearly states that God, the Father, is greater than the Son (John 14:28), and that the Son is in subjection to the Father (1 Cor. 15:27,28). It was Jesus who declared, "I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me" (John 5:30). "I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things." (John 8:28).
Paul also illustrated this concept by telling the believers, "Ye are Christ's; and Christ is God's" (1 Cor: 3:23). The point Paul is making here is that, just like we belong to Christ (He is our Lord and Master), so also, Christ belongs to God, the Father, who is His Lord and Master. Just like we consider Christ to be our God by giving Him our respect, honor and obedience, so also Jesus considers the Father to be His God (Heb. 1:9) to whom He likewise gives respect, honor, and obedience. If we say that the Father and the Son are both one and the same being, then Paul has used a false illustration to make his point.
The Father and the Son are "one" in the sense that they "speak the same thing and that there [is] no divisions among [Them]; but that [They are] perfectly joined together in the same mindů standing fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together being likeminded and being of one accord."
But there is another way in which the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are one. The Bible tells us "For he [Jesus] received from God the Father honor and glory" (2 Peter 1:17, see Matt. 16:27; Mark 8:38). In John 17:22 Jesus said, "And the glory which thou has given me I have given to them." The Father had given His glory to His Son. If there is only one God, who is embodied in Jesus Christ, how can Jesus give Himself His own glory and honor? That comment makes no sense, unless we say that the Father and Son are two separate beings, with the Father being greater than the Son. And, indeed, the Bible verifies this when it says, "Christ gloried not himself to be made a high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, today I have begotten thee" (Heb. 5:5).
Therefore what we see is that despite the Father and the Son being two individuals, they share, or have in common, the same glory. In other words they are "one" in glory. Then Jesus said that He had given this glory to His apostles. However, even with that said, I don't think anyone would really believe that the apostles, at that time, were as glorious as the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are. Therefore it might be more accurate to state that He gave them some of His glory.
Regardless of this assumption, we need to ask ourselves: What is this glory that Jesus shares with His Father? In Hebrews we are told that Jesus was glorified by being made a High Priest after the order of Melchsedec. Furthermore, Christ did not take this honor (or glory) upon Himself, but was given this glory by His Father (Hebrews 5:1-10). As we saw earlier, Jesus gave at least some of this glory to His apostles, and the glory spoken of here is associated with being a priest after the order of Melchsedec.
In the seventh chapter of Hebrews, the apostle Paul speaks of two types of priesthoods - the Levitical priesthood after the order of Aaron, and another one after the order of Melchsedec (verse 11). The clear indication is that the latter is more glorious than the former in it's power.
In the days of Moses, the Lord gave a priesthood to Aaron and then eventually to all males who were of the tribe of Levi. Although the numerical number of people who held this priesthood was in the thousands, we do not refer to this glory (and they considered it a glorious honor to hold this power) in the plural sense. In other words, we don't say there were thousands of Levitical priesthoods, but rather we say there was only one priesthood which thousands of people held. It is true that there were thousands of priesthood holders (or priests), but each of them held the same, one and only, priest-hood (singular).
In Revelations we are told that those who are saved will sit with Jesus in His throne and will be made kings and priests to reign on the earth in the same way that Jesus sits down in His Father's throne (Revelation 3:21, 5:10). The clear implication is that we will share in the glory which Jesus shares with His Father, and that glory seems to be connected to being made a priest and a King.
While he lived on earth, Melchsedec was both an earthly king and held the same spiritual priesthood that Jesus had. Jesus gave this power to His apostles, but they did not become spiritual kings to rule over the earth at that time. The scriptures in Revelations seem to indicate that this glory will come to those who are saved after the resurrection. Hence, the apostles did not receive the full glory that Jesus had, but will receive it fully after the resurrection.
What is the glory that Jesus shares, or has in common with or is united with, and is indivisible from the Father? The answer is: The priesthood after the order of Melchsedec!
But there seems to be more to it than this. As already stated, Melchsedec was only an earthly king, not a "God." Yet, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost each hold the title of "God." Yet these three individual people are not three "Gods." Instead they are three people who hold the same God-hood. The scriptures also state that we who have accepted Christ and have been faithful will inherit the same glory as Jesus and will sit in His throne even as He sits in His Father's throne. When that happens, there will not be many "Gods" but there will still be one God because the God-hood is "one" regardless of how many people hold this power, or glory.
When we understand what Christ taught, His statement that "God is one", not only become clearer, but we can better comprehend the true nature and character of what it means to be "God."
same eternity, the same unchangeableness, the same majesty, the same power." - English Translation of Augustine's "On Christian Doctrine" book 1, chapter 5, taken from the
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