If you have happened upon this article and haven’t read Part I, then jump over to Why Mormons Don’t Believe In The Trinity | Part I
If you’ve already read Part I…well then what am I waiting for. Lets get right into it!
In the last article I tried to show how important it is for us to know who and what God is so that we can accurately strive to become like Him. It’s impossible for any of us to strive to become like a “mystery”. Heck…how could we. It’s a mystery! Unfortunately that’s how God is described as all to often in modern Christianity.
I also attempted to establish that if all other Christian denominations have the right to claim the title of “Christian”…then so also should members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
But now I wanted to focus specifically on the New Testament for the next two parts. Mormons have long been accused of “having their own Bible” because of the misperception that the Book of Mormon took precedent over the Bible. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Mormons love the New Testament. I am personally obsessed with the New Testament. It’s awesome…
But there’s a reason it’s so awesome to me! It’s because every single time I sit down to read it…I get to know God better. He becomes less and less mysterious every time I read about Him, which is what I think He intended to happen when we studied the scriptures. We weren’t given these scriptures so that we could throw our hands up and say “thats not for me to understand”. It is for us to understand…or else He wouldn’t have given us these scriptures!
The trinitarian defines God as an incomprehensible spirit essence that fills the immensity of space and yet dwells in the hearts of mankind. Without body, parts, passions…unknowable and unapproachable.
So one day I decided I wanted to see for myself whether Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost were one being “manifesting” Himself in three different persons. I wanted to get to know them better. So I went through every single page of the New Testament with a green pen and marked a “G” at the top right or left of every page that referred to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ as separate beings. As I did this I started to stumble upon some verses of scripture and word meanings that made things abundantly clear.
1. The Name of Jesus –
The name of Jesus in and of itself speaks to His individuality. He is Jesus the Christ. This can also be rendered as Jesus the Messiah. The actual word “Christ” means “The Anointed” in the Greek. The word “Messiah” also means “The Anointed” in the Hebrew and Aramaic.
So…all that Christ is…His name, His title, His mission points to Him as “The Anointed One”. But look at the logic. Does one “anoint” themselves? By definition, someone else always has to do the anointing. Who else would “anoint” Christ or set him apart and consecrate Him as the great High Priest? Only one is capable. The Father. This is backed up by Paul to the Hebrews when he’s explaining how people are anointed to the priesthood. “no man taketh this honor unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron. So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee. (Hebrews 5:4-6)
Christ didn’t anoint himself…or else He probably would have picked a different name for Him to be known by.
2. The Baptism of Jesus –
Jesus goes down into the water with John. Then the Spirit of God descended upon Him. Then a voice comes out of heaven that says “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” I never for a minute would ever logically conclude that God was a ventriloquist or that He wanted to come down here and play tricks on our minds. Why would He call Himself His own son? Would He need to tell everyone there that He was pleased with Himself? There are clearly 3 entities present…each doing something different. No one reading that without preconceived trinitarian notions would ever think to consider it a “manifestation” of one being in three different ways. (Matthew 3:16-17)
3. Jesus as God’s Son –
Anyone that reads the New Testament will be overwhelmed with the concept of God “sending” His Son. He was known in the Old and New Testament as the “Son of God”. Scripture verses as basic and as popular as John 3:16 even bespeak of a true Father/Son relationship. “For God so loved the world that He gave His Only Begotten Son”. Seriously…would He really send Himself…and then create a split personality for himself? (John 3:16)
4. Jesus as A Mediator and Advocate –
Jesus’s primary mission was to reconcile men and women back to God. He was described as a mediator and an advocate. The very nature of the word mediate requires three people. Two of them are estranged from each other and one of the stands in the middle or “mediates” between the two. Same concept with the word advocate. We are estranged from the Father, and our mediator is Jesus Christ. There would be no need to use the word “Mediator” in the scriptures to describe Christ if Christ was the same person as the Father. (1 Tim 2:5)
5. The Resurrection of Christ –
To think that the Father, Son, Holy Ghost and each of us all morph into some collective blob of ethereal oneness would completely deny the resurrection of Christ. Christ was specifically resurrected so that He could actually have a body in the next life…and so that we too could have our bodies in the hereafter. If we were to morph into oneness hereafter, then what would be the point?
It goes even further. In John 5:19, Christ says that “the Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do.” The inference is that the Son saw that His Father took up a glorified resurrected body and now He will follow in His footsteps.
Christ wants to make it very clear to His apostles (the ones who will be writing about Him in the gospels) that He has a body! “Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.” Luke 24:36-39
This body that He had was independent from any other body that His Father had. In fact…after He’s resurrected, Mary catches Him in the garden and He tells her that He’s about to go visit His Father! (John 20:17) You know…the one who anointed Him!?
Joseph Smith summed it up nicely back in the grove in 1844 when he said,
Many men say there is one God; the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost are only one God. I say that is a strange God anyhow — three in one, and one in three! It is a curious organization. “Father, I pray not for the world, but I pray for them which thou hast given me.” “Holy Father, keep through Thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one as we are.” All are to be crammed into one God, according to sectarianism. It would make the biggest God in all the world. He would be a wonderfully big God — he would be a giant or a monster.
Joseph is referencing John 17:20 which is known as the “Great Intercessory Prayer” where Christ talks about how He and His Father are one. Christ also speaks of the apostles becoming one with Him and the Father as well. So if you were looking at that for the first time, without any preconceived bias…honestly, how would you look at it? Would you dream that everyone might morph together as one essence or would you think that they should be unified with one goal and one purpose?
Each of these last 5 points give us a clear understanding of the nature and character of God. But that is only the beginning. Part III will contain a list of scriptures that reinforce these general overarching principles.