The Godhead vs the Trinity Part II - More definition of the nature of Christ
In my last post, I clarified the Mormon position on the Godhead, and its comparison to the Christian Trinity as clarified in the Nicene Creed. Next I'd like to talk about the second part of McConkie's speech to BYU entitled "Our Relationship with the Lord". Again, I will add emphasis, and make comments on the primary sources when I feel it adds to the content presented.
The next part of McConkie's speech, after he defines the Godhead, discusses "those doctrines and concepts that a gracious God has given to us in this day and which must be understood in order to gain eternal life". According to McConkie, they are:
1. 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. 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. Worship in the true and saving sense is reserved for God the first, the Creator.
Our revelations say that the Father "is infinite and eternal," that he created "man, male and female,"
And gave unto them commandments that they should love and serve him, the only living and true God, and that he should be the only being whom they should worship. [D&C 20:17–19]
True worshippers shall [note that this is mandatory] worship the Father in spirit and in truth; for the Father seeketh such to worship him.
For unto such hath God promised his Spirit. And they who worship him, must worship in spirit and in truth. [JST John 4:25–26]
There is no other way, no other approved system of worship.
from "Our Relationship with the Lord"
The main problem here between these teachings and the teachings of the Catholic church is that the Catholic church teaches that Christ IS God IS the Holy spirit. The Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church states:
83. In what sense is Jesus the Only Begotten Son of God? (441-445, 454)
Jesus is the Son of God in a unique and perfect way. At the time of his Baptism and his Transfiguration, the voice of the Father designated Jesus as his "beloved Son." In presenting himself as the Son who "knows the father" (Matthew 11:27), Jesus affirmed his singular and eternal relationship with God his Father. He is "the Only Begotten Son of God" (1 John 4:9), the second Person of the Blessed Trinity. He is the central figure of apostolic preaching. The Apostles saw "his glory as the Only Begotten of the Father" (John 1:14).
84. What is the meaning of the title "Lord"? (446-451, 455)
In the Bible this title regularly designates God as Sovereign. Jesus ascribed this title to himself and revealed his divine sovereignty by his power over nature, over demons, over sin, and over death, above all by his own Resurrection. The first Christian creeds proclaimed that the power, the honor and the glory that are due to God the Father also belong to Jesus: God "has given him the name which is above every other name (Phillippians 2:9). He is the Lord of the world and of history, the only One to whom we must completely submit our personal freedom.
87. In what way is Jesus Christ true God and true Man? (464-467, 469)
Jesus is inseparably true God and true Man in the unity of his divine Person. As the Son of God, who is "begotten not made, consubstantial with the Father," he was made true man, our brother, without ceasing to be God, our Lord.
from "Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church", 28-29
Next, in McConkie's speech, he gives more doctrines:
2. We love and serve both the Father and the Son.
In the full, final, and ultimate sense of the word the divine decree is:
Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy might, mind, and strength; and in the name of Jesus Christ thou shalt serve him. [D&C 59:5]
And Jesus also said:
If ye love me, keep my commandments. [John 14:15]
These, then, are the commandments of commandments. They tie the Father and the Son together, as one, so that both receive our love and service.
3. Christ himself loves, serves, and worships the Father.
Though Christ is God, yet there is a Deity above him, a Deity whom he worships. That God is the Father. To Mary Magdalene, the first mortal to see a resurrected person, Jesus said:
I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.[John 20:17]
All of us, Christ included, are the spirit children of the Father; all of us, Christ included, seek to become like the Father. In this sense the Firstborn, our Elder Brother, goes forward as we do.
4. The plan of salvation is the gospel of the Father
The plan of salvation originated with the Father; he is the Author and Finisher of our faith in the final sense; he ordained the laws by obedience to which both we and Christ can become like him.
The Father did not ask for volunteers to propose a plan whereby man might be saved. What he did was ask whom he should send to be the Redeemer in the plan he devised. Christ and Lucifer both volunteered, and the Lord chose his Firstborn and rejected the amendatory offer of the son of the morning.
Thus Paul spoke of "the gospel of God, . . . concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh" (Romans 1:1–3). It is the Father's gospel, it became the gospel of the Son by adoption, and we call it after Christ's name because his atoning sacrifice put all of its terms and conditions into operation.
5. Christ worked out his own salvation by worshiping the Father.
After the Firstborn of the Father, while yet a spirit being, had gained power and intelligence that made him like unto God; after he had become, under the Father, the Creator of worlds without number; after he had reigned on the throne of eternal power as the Lord Omnipotent--after all this he yet had to gain a mortal and then an immortal body.
After the Son of God "made flesh" his "tabernacle," and while he "dwelt among the sons of men"; after he left his preexistent glory as we all do at birth; after he was born of Mary in Bethlehem of Judea--after all this he was called upon to work out his own salvation.
Of our Lord's life while in this mortal probation the scripture says:
He received not of the fulness at the first, but received grace for grace;
And he received not of the fulness at first, but continued from grace to grace, until he received a fulness.
Finally, after his resurrection,
he received a fulness of the glory of the Father;
And he received all power, both in heaven and on earth, and the glory of the Father was with him, for he dwelt in him. [D&C 93:12–14, 16–17]
Note it, please, the Lord Jesus worked out his own salvation while in this mortal probation by going from grace to grace, until, having overcome the world and being raised in immortal glory, he became like the Father in the full, complete, and eternal sense.
In summary, according to McConkie, here are some basic truths about Christ:
- God and Christ should be loved and served
- Christ, separate from God, loves and worships God as we should
- Christ is our elder brother
- Christ volunteered to be the Savior and beat out Lucifer for this task
- Christ worked out his own atonement
- Christ's mortal life was a mortal probation for him
- Christ progressed while on this earth to become like God
In contrast, according to the Catholic church:
- Christ, in union with God, came to this earth "in order to save us by reconciling us with God" (CCC, 457)
- Christ is the incarnation of God in the flesh (CCC, 461)
- Christ, as the "Word made flesh", came to Earth to be our model of holiness (CCC, 459)
- Christ, as the son of God, " '... came down "from heaven, not to do [his] own will, but the will of him who sent [him]', ... said on coming into the world, 'Lo, I have come to do your will, O God.' 'And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.' From the first moment of his Incarnation the Son embraces the Father's plan of divine salvation in his redemptive mission: My food is to do the will of him who sent me, and to accomplish his work.'" (CCC, 606)
- Christ's experience at Gethsemene was described as "The cup of the New Covenant, which Jesus anticipated when he offered himself at the Last Supper, is afterwards accepted by him from his Father's hands in his agony in the garden at Gethsemani, making himself 'obedient unto death'. " (CCC, 612) Gethsemene was not the sacrifice, it was the acceptance of the sacrifice to come and the ultimate submission to the will of God.
Next up, more doctrines, and how to worship God.