God Gave His Only Begotten Son

In preparing for the joys of Christmas during our brief return to the winter wonderland of Wisconsin, my wife and I read John 17 and contemplated the ministry of the Messiah and His mission to rescue mankind. As we read the Lord’s great Intercessory Prayer, we marveled at how clear Christ’s words were regarding unity and His relationship with the Father. To begin with, the very act of worshipful prayer tells us much of that relationship. He also refers to His premortal relationship with the Father:

These
words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father,
the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee:

As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.

And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.

I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.

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

And regarding His disciples and those who would accept Him and follow Him as Savior and Redeemer, He prayed:

18 As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.

19 And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.

20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;

21 That
they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that
they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast
sent me.

22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:

23 I
in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that
the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou
hast loved me.

24 Father,
I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am;
that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou
lovedst me before the foundation of the world.

25 O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me.

26 And
I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love
wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.

From my LDS perspective, I often wonder how did so much misunderstanding arise in debates centuries later about these relationships and the unity of God, which here is held up as the kind of unity Christians should achieve? Not becoming one Being, but united beings, one in purpose and intent. Of course, I recognize that many fellow Christians fully accept the declarations of the creeds arising from those debates, and while we are comfortable with much stated therein, we feel that the earliest Christians understood the unity of Christ with the Father to be a unity in heart and purpose shared between two Beings, between the Father and the Son.

When we read the touching words of how God sent and gave His only begotten Son in John 3:16, in my opinion that loving, poignant sacrifice is best understood as making reference to the love a father naturally has for a son, an analogy that only makes sense to me if they are distinct beings. Yes, of course others will read this differently.

In any case, may we contemplate the teachings of the scriptures about our relationship to Christ, and His relationship to the Father, and pursue paths to help us to become more fully one in them.

Author: Jeff Lindsay

107 thoughts on “God Gave His Only Begotten Son

  1. Jeff, coming from one who often chastises "LDS critics" for wanting nothing more than to argue here, your trolling never ceases to amaze. But nonetheless….

    Perhaps the "misunderstanding" you speak of comes from the mouth of Jesus a few chapters earlier when he claims for Himself the very title of God "Jesus said to them, Truly, truly, I say to you, Before Abraham was, I am."

  2. I guess sometimes I just stumble and feel a need to remind people that we do have significant theological differences with others that from my perspective link us to early Christianity. I apologize if that makes you angry and seems like trolling. In noting this difference in beliefs, I am not saying that those who see things differently are not Christian, a courtesy that we are seldom afforded by Bible-only ministers criticizing our departure from their post-biblical Trinitarian creeds. Those who believe in Christ as their Savior are Christians in my book, regardless of which details in their theology I don't like.

  3. No need to apologize, doesn't anger me. Just pointing out the hypocrisy. You also didn't address my point of Christ's blasphemy

  4. Anonymous, I'm not sure you really want to be in the crowd accusing Jesus of blasphemy. The original crowd who accused him of blasphemy weren't particularly good moral or theological role models.

  5. I only used that word to prove my point. They knew exactly what Jesus was saying to the point of wanting to kill him. There was no misunderstanding

  6. Nor should there be misunderstanding among us. In those words, Christ was revealing his premortal status as Jehovah, which we fully accept. Christ and the Father, though two Beings, are one Godhead, or one God, fully united. The Book of Mormon teaches this as well: they are one Eternal God, as Abinadi taught. (The question, of course, is how are they one. United Beings, or one immaterial Being of one metaphysical substance?)

    Philippians 2 is helpful here, and reminds us that the divine status of Christ is not robbery of God or blasphemy, and indeed, reflects a mindset that we Christians should emulate:

    5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:

    6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:

    7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:

    8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

    9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:

    10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;

    11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

    Here, as throughout the Bible, it should be clear that the Christ, though one with God, is subordinate to the Father (in the sense of John 14:28, for example) and, of course, is a distinct Being. Yes, I recognize others will see it differently. But the concept of three persons in one Being of one substance is not found in earliest Christianity, while the subordinate nature of Christ is repeatedly taught and the anthropomorphic God of Israel is clearly proclaimed in early Judaism and early Christianity, as is the corporeal nature of the resurrected Christ, whom Stephen saw at the right of the Father (Acts 7:55-56).

  7. Excerpt from Mark Slick article:

    The belief that God the Father is called Elohim and Jesus is called Jehovah does not agree with what the Bible says. In actuality, in Hebrew the word for "God" is the word "elohim." Likewise, the word for the name of God (elohim) is "Jehovah." In the Bible, when the word "Jehovah" appears in the Hebrew text, it is rendered as LORD (all caps) in the English text. Also, the Hebrew word "elohim" is translated as "God."

    Please consider the following verses:

    "Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me" (Isaiah 43:10-11).

    This verse is important because if you read what it is saying, it states that Jehovah (LORD also known to the Mormons as Jesus) is stating that there will be no God (elohim) formed after him. But this is a problem for the Mormons since it could not be saying that Jehovah is the only elohim. In other words, this verse is stating that the LORD (Jehovah), is elohim.

    Let's look at two more verses.

    "Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God" (Isaiah 44:6).

    In this verse, LORD is Jehovah in the Hebrew. Jehovah is saying there is no God (elohim) besides him.

    "Fear ye not, neither be afraid: have not I told thee from that time, and have declared it? ye are even my witnesses. Is there a God beside me? yea, there is no God; I know not any" (Isaiah 44:8).

    The context of this verse is that Jehovah (LORD) is a speaking. He states here that there is no God (elohim) besides him. He is stating that he does not even know of any other elohim (God) besides himself.

    My point is that the name of God (elohim) is Jehovah (LORD), and that the LORD is stating that he alone is God. In other words, Jehovah is stating that he alone is elohim. Therefore, the Mormon idea that God the Father is called "elohim" and that the son is called "Jehovah" is erroneous.

    In actuality, the name of God is Jehovah, and the Mormons are incorrect.

    Remember, in Hebrew text LORD equals Jehovah. God equals elohim.

    "Unto thee it was shewed, that thou mightest know that the LORD he is God; there is none else beside him" (Deut. 4:35).
    "That all the people of the earth may know that the LORD is God, and that there is none else" (1 Kings 8:60).
    "Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves;" (Psalm 100:3).
    "And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The LORD is my God" (Zech. 13:9).

  8. Jeff, you stated that the trinity was not taught by early Christians. Likewise, as fairmormon states: The conviction that Elohim was anciently the Almighty God and Father of us all, and Jehovah was and is Jesus the Christ, his Son is based on modern scripture.

  9. anon…

    It goes even further than that. Not only is the Elohim/Jehovah distinction based on modern scripture, the idea that Jesus was Jehovah was not taught by early Mormons at all. They understood that Jehovah was God the Father, not Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ was the Son of Jehovah.

    Later, Adam became God the Father, and Jesus was Adam's Son.

    In the early part of the 20th Century, Talmage was playing around with a different conception of the persons of God, and the First Presidency asked him to write a statement listing his new concept. He did so, they 1st Pres. looked it over, adding minor revisions, and the new doctrine of Jesus as Jehovah was officially minted. This was around 1916 or 1918, something like that.

    As Jeff pointed out upstream, the Bible doesn't clarify whether the Father and Son are one in purpose or one in substance. Neither expressions are found in the Bible. Nor does any LDS Standard Works declare that they are one "in purpose."

    Both groups have come by their doctrine in the same way: by committee. LDS say that this is a sign of apostasy when it happens in the Christian church, and they say it is a sign of revelation through Prophets when it happens in the LDS Church.

    The double standard should be obvious, but it isn't unfortunately.

  10. Regardless of how you may want to define oneness, you have to start with the premise that the Father and the Son are two separate and distinct individuals. Otherwise, you're theological sights will be off and you'll miss the mark.

    Jack

  11. Jack, as EBU pointed out, the LDS themselves have redefined their own theology through the years as fairmormon conforms "LDS use of the name titles Elohim and Jehovah to designate God Our Heavenly Father and His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ respectively is not meant to insist that this is how these titles were always used anciently, including in the Holy Bible. Rather, these titles are a naming convention used in the modern Church for clarity and precision. Since Christ may be spoken of as "the Father" in a great many senses, the modern Saints use these name-titles to avoid ambiguity, regardless of which 'role' of a divine Personage is being discussed.
    Since this terminology was not standardized for convenience and clarity prior to the twentieth century, readers are cautioned not to expect the early writings of the Church to always reflect this practice, which arose only decades later. Likewise, attempting to read the Bible as if its writers followed the same modern practice is anachronistic, and may lead to confusion and misinterpretation.
    Although Elohim is understood and used in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as the name-title of God the Eternal Father and the name Jehovah is reserved for His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ, [3] this has not always been the case. Nineteenth-century Mormons—including Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and John Taylor—generally used Jehovah as the name of God the Father. Latter-day Saints also recognize that the Hebrew word Elohim was used anciently as a generic word for "god."

    Theological sights will be off? I'm afraid You're now the pot calling the kettle black

  12. "Although Elohim is understood and used in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as the name-title of God the Eternal Father and the name Jehovah is reserved for His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ, [3] this has not always been the case." -fairmormon
    .

    The LDS faith is one of constant change. Doctrine being blown to and fro. What once is true one day will be declared false the next. Teachings by prophets disavowed (Adam/God theory)

    How do I rely on this? What will change next?

  13. Anon1224

    This is actually a sign that the LDS Church is true. The Restoration is "ongoing." It will keep changing over and over and over again, and this is a sign that God is talking to his people. Yes…it sounds like a drunk God talking, but when you have a major international corporation to manage, it helps to have a God that can't be nailed down on any one point in particular.

    It's all about flexibility.

  14. That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;

  15. The doctrine of the Trinity, in relation to John 17, is very powerful. A pathway is laid out in John 17 whereby we are individually brought into the life of God, yet still retain our identity. This differs from Eastern religion that has us being brought into the life of God by being dissolved into it, thus losing identity.

    But in Christianity, we have this beautiful idea of one God that consists of three distinct persons, and the second person of that one God became something that He was not by nature, namely a human being. Through this act, now human beings can also become one with God and one with each other through their oneness with God while all along retaining their unique, God-created identities.

    Only in a Trinitarian worldview does John 17 carry such a powerful implication.
    In Mormonism, God isn't the source of identity. How could he be when we are said to be co-eternal with Him, as Uchtdorf so clearly stated in the most recent general conference? Our identity and our personality are simply the collateral result of processes outside of God. They are "matter unorganized." God simply organizes us. And he becomes the agent of a law, a CEO of a way of life that he didn't invent, but to which he conformed himself.

    Again…who invented this way of life?

    See…Mormonism is ultimately a Godless system. There is no law-giver. God is not technically a law-giver, but an officer of this law. Mormons know not who they worship, so they worship a middle-manager instead. Mormonism, rightly understood, is a bleak tyrannical system. It is a sinister path. It is a Godless path. It is an eternal multi-level marketing scheme.

    There is no God in Mormonism. Just law and officers of that law.

  16. "Since this terminology was not standardized for convenience and clarity prior to the twentieth century, readers are cautioned not to expect the early writings of the Church to always reflect this practice, which arose only decades later."

    "Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and John Taylor—generally used Jehovah as the name of God the Father"

    Jeff, so in order to accept this incredible explanation, were the early church prophets aware and purposely using the incorrect title for God the Father (Jehovah) or were these prophets simply wrong?

  17. "See…Mormonism is ultimately a Godless system. There is no law-giver. God is not technically a law-giver, but an officer of this law. Mormons know not who they worship, so they worship a middle-manager instead. Mormonism, rightly understood, is a bleak tyrannical system. It is a sinister path. It is a Godless path. It is an eternal multi-level marketing scheme."

    Anti Mormons use Communist tacticts very well. Twist words, lie, deceive, accuse the enemy of those things which you do, agitate, isolate and attack with verbal abuses and derogatory names, repeat lies until people accept it as truth, etc.
    Exactly what the Democrat Commies do.

  18. I think all of us would like to understand Who God is and what kind of Being He is. In fact the Bible itself says that "life eternal" is to know Them (John 17:3).

    The fact is, the Bible makes it difficult to do because it offers various, seemingly conflicting statements about Him/Them.

    For example, some excerpts from the lds.org Bible Dictionary entry on God:

    "Many of the things that the scripture says were done by God were actually done by the Lord (Jesus). Thus the scripture says that “God created the heaven and the earth” (Gen. 1:1), but we know that it was actually the Lord (Jesus) who was the creator (John 1:3, 10), or as Paul said, God created all things by Christ Jesus (Eph. 3:9).

    "The present translation of John 1:18 and 1 Jn. 4:12 is misleading, for these say that no man has ever seen God. However, the scriptures state that there have been many who have seen Him."

    And then there are all the statements about Them being One, yet plenty of other evidence that They are separate Beings. How can both be true?

    What tends to happen is that those who favor one view focus on the passages that support that view, and ignore all others.

    You can say all the ill against modern scriptures you would like, but I value their relative clarity on these matters. They don't as yet answer all questions one might raise on the subject of the nature of God, but there's enough information that we can at least begin to understand Who He is and our correct relationship to Him.

    As for the claim that we believe in a "Godless system," I suppose it depends on how you understand God, and how that differs from the way we do.

  19. However, the scriptures state that there have been many who have seen Him.

    Which scriptures state this? There is no scripture at all that declares that anyone has seen God the Father. There were many who saw Christ, but Christ was incarnate in the flesh, and thus was visible. But God the Father? Nope. And you can't refer to Moses, but you don't believe that Jehovah is the Father. You believe Jehovah is Christ. You have nothing but a late account of the First Vision to show that anyone has seen the Father.

    And then there are all the statements about Them being One, yet plenty of other evidence that They are separate Beings. How can both be true?

    This is called "Trinitarianism." Actually, though, they are separate persons, not separate beings. Theologians define these two words differently.

    I don't accept the "modern scriptures." And even if I did, they are not clear at all. Abinadi's explanation of how Jesus is both the Father and the Son is one of the most confusing passages ever written. He is the Father because of the Spirit. But he is the Son because of the Flesh. That sounds like good Modalism to me, and if we aren't forced to make it fit into current Mormon theology, then we can accept it as Modalism and walk away. But it has to fit into Mormon theology, which isn't modalistic, and thus Abinadi's words are a serious problem.

    By the way, D&C 132 rewrites John 17:3. It isn't "eternal life" to know God. It is "eternal lives" to know God. Notice the pluralization? Wonder what that means?

    Well, in light of the Adam-God doctrine it makes perfect sense. When you become a celestial being, you fall over and over again on planets of your own making with your wife. You become an Adam who creates, inhabits, falls, and produces offspring on a planet. And you do this again and again. Eternal LIVES.

    This is Mormon theology, canonized in scripture, but now covered over with a nice Christian veneer.

    Bearyb, you admit to being confused by Biblical doctrines about the nature of God. This confusion is of your own making. You have the spirit of Joseph Smith controlling your life, and this spirit is one of a rejection of Christianity and a building up of something else in its place. Mormonism was from its very inception a rejection. It's first pronouncement is that everyone else is wrong. Yet, nothing was immediately put into place. That came later, through the necromancy of Joseph Smith, who communed with what he claimed to be the spirits of dead men.

    Do you know what the Old Testament has to say about necromancy? There is probably a reason for this prohibition on communing with the dead. It opens the doors to deception. And now you, along with millions of others, are listening to this spirit.

  20. …the LDS themselves have redefined their own theology through the years…

    The fact that this has been the case and will continue to be the case is well documented in the 9th Article of Faith

    "We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God."

    That's right it says "many great and important things" have yet to be revealed. Not trivial things. So if you think we should simply circle the wagons and "settle once and for all" the sum total of our theology in order to avoid statements like that, think again.

    You may chalk it up as some sort of method of conforming to the times we live in, and there is some of that to be sure. After all, the Lord recognizes that we have to live "in the world." But as time progresses you will probably see an LDS theology that is more and more divergent from the mainstream, and we will probably argue that it will be mostly because the mainstream is moving further and further away from the pure doctrine of Christ. "The Family: A Proclamation to the World" first introduced on September 23, 1995 is a very good example of this. The world has certainly shifted further away from many of the teachings contained therein.