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Response to "50 Questions to Ask Mormons: Questions About the Bible"

A FairMormon Analysis of: 50 Questions to Ask Mormons, a work by author: Tower to Truth Ministries
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Response to claim: "28. If marriage is essential to achieve exaltation, why did Paul say that it is good for a man not to marry?"

The author(s) make(s) the following claim:

28. If marriage is essential to achieve exaltation, why did Paul say that it is good for a man not to marry? (1 Corinthians 7:1)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

Paul does not say it is good not to marry, but quotes the Corinthian Saints' comments in a previous letter to him. Paul is responding to this claim, and he critiques it.


Question: Why does the Church teach that marriage is essential for full exaltation, when Paul says in 1 Corinthians 7:1 that it is good for a man not to marry?

The evidence of Paul’s writings leads to the conclusion that he not only tolerated marriage among the saints, but encouraged and exhorted them to marry and bear children

Paul indicated that marriage is an essential part of the gospel framework, and asserted that one of the signs of apostasy in the last days would be teachings against marriage. (See 1 Timothy 4:1–3.) Certainly Jesus was foremost in importance to Paul, just as he should be in the hearts of men today, and on occasion Paul had to remind men called to the ministry to be fully dedicated to the Lord’s work. Nevertheless, Paul understood and taught that in the presence of the Lord, the man will not be without the woman, neither the woman without the man.[1]

There are several things that should be understood if one is to correctly interpret this chapter in Paul's letter to the Corinthians.

  1. The statement, "it is good for a man not to touch a woman" was probably not Paul's.
  2. Paul may well have been married himself, but traveling in the ministry without his wife.
  3. Paul taught the importance of marriage in many places.
  4. The reason for Paul's advice to the unmarried was for an unusual and a temporary situation.
  5. Paul is careful to point out that this advice to remain single for the time being is not God's commandment, but was only his personal (though very wise) opinion.
  6. Paul is clear that marriage, not celibacy, is a requirement for church leadership.


Response to claim: "29. Since the Word of Wisdom teaches us to abstain from alcohol, why did Paul encourage Timothy to drink wine for the stomach?"

The author(s) make(s) the following claim:

29. Since the Word of Wisdom teaches us to abstain from alcohol, why did Paul encourage Timothy to drink wine for the stomach? (1 Timothy 5:23)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

A related question which Christian critics ought to ask themselves might be, "Since we know now that alcohol—including wine—can cause gastritis, ulcers, or stomach bleeding why did Paul (a prophet!) tell Timothy to use it?"

This is a lot like earlier questions about Joseph Smith or Brigham Young expressing a false, though popular, opinion about scientific matters. Paul isn't any less an apostle because he expressed a false idea about the benefits of alcohol on stomach problems.


Question: Since the Word of Wisdom teaches us to abstain from alcohol, why did Paul encourage Timothy to drink wine for the stomach?

The Word of Wisdom was given to modern saints as protection against "the designs of conspiring men in the last days"

In Timothy's day, water was often not safe to drink. (Historically, it is interesting that the temperance movement opposing alcohol only took off in the United States once relatively clean water supplies were available to most people—prior to that, alcohol mixed with water was a necessary way of keeping water drinkable.[2]

The Word of Wisdom was given to modern saints as protection against "the designs of conspiring men in the last days." Certainly we don't have to look far to see such conspiracy against the health of customers at work today in tobacco companies or street drug dealers.

This shows why modern revelation is so important—what was dangerous for us in the modern age (cigarette manufacturers, illicit drugs, alcohol marketing, etc.) may need different advice from God than that given 2000 years ago where dying from dysentery transmitted by contaminated water was a far bigger risk than dying of cirrhosis or stomach cancer.

Paul isn't any less an apostle because he expressed a false idea about the benefits of alcohol on stomach problems

A related question which Christian critics ought to ask themselves might be, "Since we know now that alcohol—including wine—can cause gastritis, ulcers, or stomach bleeding why did Paul (a prophet!) tell Timothy to use it?"

Latter-day Saints will be untroubled that a prophet and apostle (such as Paul) could have had a a false, though popular, opinion about scientific matters. Paul isn't any less an apostle because he expressed a false idea about the benefits of alcohol on stomach problems.

Yet, many sectarian critics of the Church are quick to point fingers at Joseph Smith or Brigham Young for 19th century ideas which they expressed.


Response to claim: "30. If obeying the Word of Wisdom-which tells us to abstain from coffee, tea, alcohol and tobacco-is important for our exaltation, why did Jesus say that there is nothing that can enter a man to make him defiled?"

The author(s) make(s) the following claim:

30. If obeying the Word of Wisdom-which tells us to abstain from coffee, tea, alcohol and tobacco—is important for our exaltation, why did Jesus say that there is nothing that can enter a man to make him defiled (Mark 7:15)?

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

The Word of Wisdom says nothing about such substances "defiling us." Members believe it is important to obey the Word of Wisdom because God has commanded us not to do something, and we have promised not to do it. We should keep our promises to God.

The Jews promised not to eat pork, and so it was a sin for them to eat pork—not because pork contaminates or "defiles" them, but because disobedience (that which comes OUT of us, as Jesus said) shows we do not love and trust God. The underlying principle here is obedience to God, not the Word of Wisdom, per se.


Response to claim: "31. If Jesus is the Jehovah of the Old Testament and Elohim is referred to as God in the Old Testament, can you explain Deuteronomy 6:4 to me "Hear, O Israel: the Lord (Jehovah) our God (Elohim) is one Lord (Jehovah)?"

The author(s) make(s) the following claim:

31. If Jesus is the Jehovah of the Old Testament and Elohim is referred to as God in the Old Testament, can you explain Deuteronomy 6:4 to me "Hear, O Israel: the Lord (Jehovah) our God (Elohim) is one Lord (Jehovah)?

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information - The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event

An alternate translation of the passage is "Hear, O Israel: The LORD [Jehovah] is our God [Elohim], the LORD alone" (ESV footnote). In this case, "Elohim" is used as a title meaning "God" while "Jehovah" is used as a proper name. This translation also would suggest the possibility of other gods for other non-Israelite nations as seen in Deuteronomy 32:8-9. Moreover, we must not make the mistake of thinking that the name-titles "Jehovah" and "Elohim" had those meanings anciently, or were always used that way in scripture—they did not, and were not.
  • These titles as used in the LDS Church for the Father and the Son are modern (i.e., 20th century) and are used for clarity when distinguishing members of the Godhead. It is not to be expected that ancient writers used the terms always in the same way. The use of the term such as "Elohim" could mean, depending on the context and grammar, "God," "gods," or even what would be better termed "angels" or "heavenly beings."


Question: Are Elohim and Jehovah the same deity?

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

It is claimed that Elohim, Jehovah, Adonai and other similar Old Testament Hebrew names for deity are simply different titles which emphasize different attributes of the "one true God." In support of this criticism, they cite Old Testament scriptures that speak of "the LORD [Jehovah] thy God [Elohim]" (e.g., Deuteronomy 4:2; 4:35; 6:4) as proof that these are different titles for the same God. [3]

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 (D&C 110:1–4) and not Biblical exegesis. The teachings of modern prophets and apostles has tended to reinforce this usage, such as when President Joseph F. Smith taught, "Among the spirit children of Elohim the firstborn was and is Jehovah or Jesus Christ to whom all others are juniors." [4]

The 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

The 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, [5] 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." [6]

Use of Elohim and Jehovah in the Old Testament

The separation of Elohim and Jehovah in the Hebrew Old Testament is not as clear as critics would have us believe.

The following scriptures illustrate the confusion of divine names in the Old Testament:

  • Exodus 34:23 combines the Hebrew words Adon (Lord), Jehovah (LORD) and Elohim (God [of Israel]) into one title which is translated "Lord God, the God of Israel" or "Lord Jehovah, God of Israel."
  • The Hebrew version of Psalm 82:1 reads: "God [Elohim] stands in the assembly of God [El]; he judges in the midst of the gods [Elohim]."
  • Psalm 110:1 reads: "The LORD [Jehovah] said unto my Lord [Adonai], Sit thou at my right-hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool." (Hebrews 1:1–3 indicates that God the Father said this to Jesus Christ; see also Matthew 22:44; Mark 12:36; Luke 20:42.)
  • In one instance (Psalm 8:5), the Hebrew Elohim is even rendered "angels." The Hebrew text states that Jehovah made the son of man "a little less than Elohim" [KJV "angels"]. Though most literal translations render Elohim as "God" in this verse, there is justification for translating it "angels": Hebrews 2:7 quotes this verse, using the Greek word aggelos ("angels") in place of Elohim.
  • We also find that Elohim is translated in four instances as "judges" (Exodus 21:6, Exodus 22:8-9), though "God's representative" is probably the intended meaning. This nevertheless shows that divine names were used by inspired writers with different meanings.

Development of name-titles in Israelite history

In the Old Testament, the title Elohim often emphasizes the strong, covenant-keeping qualities of God while the name Jehovah, the self-existent and eternal attributes; and Adonai, the characteristics of a sovereign lord; they have not always been applied to just one God.

A study of the various Hebrew words used for deity in the Old Testament reveals that the same name-titles were often used for both true and false gods as well as for human leaders. Thus, the Hebrew for Elohim and Jehovah were often used in a generic sense. Such usage could especially cause confusion if the text were later modified.

Eugene Seaich has indicated that many scholars have found that early Canaanite and Israelite theology recognized two separate and distinct sets of divine traits: one for a "Father of gods" and "Father of men" and the other for a son of the former who was a "dying-and-resurrecting god, who gave life to all creatures" and "managed the cosmos for his Father." Seaich explains that the High God was called "El and his son was called Ba'al at least through the time of the Israelite monarchy." The Israelites who returned from the desert with the Mosaic religion referred to El's son as Yahweh. Some evidence of this distinction still survives in our Old Testament scriptures (see Deuteronomy 32:8–9; Psalm 82; Proverbs 30:4). He also notes that Genesis chapter 1 speaks of Elohim (the longer form of El) as the creator while chapter 2 speaks of Yahweh-Elohim. Seaich writes:

...the Mosaic reform, which only began as an attempt to root out the licentious excesses to which the old polytheism had sunk (Ex. 32), took at least a half-dozen centuries to establish itself as Israel's "true" religion, eliminating in the process many former truths, before emerging as the "ethical monotheism" of late Judaism.... In the new monotheism...the earlier Elohim and Yahweh became the single "YHWH-Elohim" of Deut. 6:4.... The complete assimilation of two gods into one probably took as long as the "Monotheistic Reform" itself, i.e. from ca. 1500 to 500 B.C..... Finally, the Old Testament itself was thoroughly subjected to a corresponding revision (known as the "Deuteronomic Revision"). [7]

Divine investiture

Latter-day Saints also believe that Jesus often spoke for the Father by right of divine investiture. Bruce R. McConkie wrote:

"... since he [Jesus] is one with the Father in all of the attributes of perfection, and since he exercises the power and authority of the Father...the Father puts his own name on the Son and authorizes him to speak in the first person as though he were the Father." [8]

There are numerous examples of divine investiture in scripture. The clearest biblical examples involve angels speaking in behalf of God or Christ (Genesis 22:11—12; Exodus 3:2, 6; 23:20–21; Revelation 1:1; 19:9–13; 22:8–16), though Christ also spoke "as though he were the Father" on many occasions throughout the Old Testament (Genesis 17:1; 35:11; Exodus 6:3). Christ was also referred to as "the Almighty" (Revelation 1:8, 18; 4:8; 11:17). It is for this reason that many other Christians identify Elohim and Jehovah as the same person.

The LDS view

The concept of Christ as the Father is clearly set forth in a 1916 statement entitled, "The Father and the Son: A Doctrinal Exposition by the First Presidency and the Twelve." [9]

Additional support for the LDS differentiation in the use of divine titles is found in New and Old Testament scriptures. Matthew and Mark reported that Jesus while on the cross cried out to his Father using the name Eli (Matthew 27:46) or Eloi (Mark 15:34). Both of these names are regarded by scholars as the Aramaic equivalents of El or Elohim. [10]

Although references to Christ's sonship are somewhat rare in the Old Testament, they nevertheless exist. Daniel 3:25 describes a fourth individual in Nebuchadnezzar's furnace whose form was like a "Son of God [Elah]." Proverbs 30:4 speaks of the "son" of the creator and Daniel 7:13 refers to the glorious coming of the "Son of man" (compare John 3:13 and Moses 6:57). Hosea 11:1 was quoted by Matthew (2:15) as a prophecy that God's "son" would be called out of Egypt and we should not forget that Isaiah's famous messianic prophecy foretold the birth of a son who would also be known by the titles "everlasting Father" and "mighty God" (Isaiah 7:14; 9:16). All of these scriptures provide evidence that, as Nephi stated, many do now "stumble exceedingly" because of the "plain and precious thing which have been taken away" from the scriptures (1 Nephi 13:26–30, 34, 40).

Elohim versus Eloheim

Some LDS works (especially from the nineteenth century) may refer to "Eloheim," instead of the more familiar (especially to those outside the Church) "Elohim."

Both of these words represent the Hebrew word אלהים—they are transliterations (that is simply converting the Hebrew into English letters). During the 19th century, there were two styles of Hebrew transliteration and pronouncing systems:

  1. Ashkenazic (from Jewish communities in Northern Europe - starting in Germany); and
  2. Sephardic (from Jewish communities in southern Europe, mostly coming from Spain and Portugal).

Joseph Smith's Hebrew instructor at the School of the Prophets in Kirtland was Joshua/James Seixas—he also taught many other LDS members to read Biblical Hebrew in Kirtland. Seixas's family came from Portugal, and so he taight Sephardic Hebrew (he was one of the best—if not the best—American Hebraicist of his day). Sephardic Hebrew pronounces this word for God a bit differently than does Ashkenazic Hebrew (which is the Hebrew that is most commonly used and taught today).

Joseph's instructor spelled this word eloheem, and this pronunciation became the eloheim that is sometimes used in LDS writings. Essentially though, both versions represent exactly the same word. The change from eloheim or eloheem to elohim occurred as later LDS writing (in particular Elder James E. Talmage) who engaged later Hebrew scholarship that followed the Ashkenazic pronunciation style. This led to a shift in usage among the leadership of the church, which now matches the broader world of non-LDS scholarship. They are, however, essentially the same word.


Response to claim: "32. Why does the Mormon Church teach that we can be married in heaven when Jesus said in Matthew 22:30 that in the resurrection man neither marry, nor are they given in marriage?"

The author(s) make(s) the following claim:

32. Why does the Mormon Church teach that we can be married in heaven when Jesus said in Matthew 22:30 that in the resurrection man neither marry, nor are they given in marriage?

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

Marriages persist after resurrection if done by proper authority; they are not entered into after the resurrection. Yet, the Bible teaches that men and women are not complete before God without each other (See 1 Corinthians 11:11). The Church teaches that marriages need to be performed either in person or by proxy here on the earth. Thus all such marriages will be arranged either here or in the spirit world, and conducted either now or during the millennium on earth.


Question: Is marriage essential to achieve exaltation?

There is no Biblical obstacle to the doctrine of eternal marriage

Some criticize the Latter-day Saint view of marriage as essential on the following grounds:

  1. If marriage is essential to achieve exaltation, why did Paul say that it is good for a man not to marry? (1 Corinthians 7:1)
  2. Why does the Mormon Church teach that we can be married in heaven when Jesus said in Matthew 22:30 that there is no marriage in the resurrection?
  3. Since not all members of the Church are married, doesn't this mean there will be many otherwise good Mormons who will not be exalted?

There is no Biblical obstacle to the doctrine of eternal marriage.

  1. Some of Paul's statements addressed specific situations (e.g., missionaries wishing to leave their labors to be married), and some refuted false ideas in the Christian churches about avoiding marriage. There is textual evidence for the importance of marriage in the early Church, and evidence from early Fathers and the Bible that Paul was, in fact, married.
  2. It will be too late for weddings after the resurrection, but the state of marriage itself can exist eternally, if entered into via the Lord's way. This is supported by the details of the situation described in Matthew, and the original Greek.

Latter-day Saints do not draw their doctrine from a reading of the Bible—as in all things, they are primarily guided by modern revelation. That same revelation assures them that no worthy person who was unable to marry will be denied any blessing in the hereafter.

The critics misstate the Biblical evidence: Paul's statement is a response to a particular situation, probably regarding missionary work

In brief, the critics misstate the Biblical evidence.

  1. Paul does not say it is good not to marry. Paul was probably married himself. But, married or not, his advice to the Corinthians — that the unmarried remain unmarried and that the married be as if they were not married — is a response to a particular situation, probably regarding missionary work.
  2. Jesus' response to the Pharisees in Matt 22 says nothing about the marital status of the righteous in heaven. It responds to a particular question about an actual case that the Sadducees were using to try to trick the Savior.

The critics also misunderstand or misrepresent LDS doctrine on the necessity of marriage for salvation. Each of these points is discussed below.

Paul and "good not to marry"

The basis for the suggestion that Paul counseled against marriage and sexual relations is found in 1 Corinthians 7:1-2:

Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.

There are several things that should be understood if one is to correctly interpret this passage and, indeed, the entire seventh chapter of Paul's letter to the Corinthians. These are:

  1. The statement, "it is good for a man not to touch a woman" was probably not Paul's.
  2. Paul may well have been married himself, but traveling in the ministry without his wife.
  3. Paul taught the importance of marriage in many places.
  4. The reason for Paul's advice to the unmarried was for an unusual and a temporary situation.
  5. Paul is careful to point out that this advice to remain single for the time being is not God's commandment, but was only his personal (though very wise) opinion.
  6. Paul is clear that marriage, not celibacy, is a requirement for church leadership.

For a detailed response, see: Further discussion of Corinthians 7

Jesus and "neither marry nor given in marriage"

Matthew 22:23-30 (or its counterparts, Mark 12:18-25 and Luke 20:27-36) is often used by critics to argue against the LDS doctrine of eternal marriage. The Sadducees, who didn't believe in the resurrection, asked the Savior about a case where one woman successively married seven brothers, each of which died leaving her to the next. They then tried to trip up Jesus by asking him whose wife she will be in the resurrection. Jesus' answer is almost identical in all three scriptural versions.

Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven. (Matthew 22:29-30)

This scripture is one of the most misunderstood scriptures in the Bible. If one is to understand it properly, one must take into account the following:

  1. The question that the Sadducees asked was not a hypothetical one but was based on a real case of a woman who married seven brothers in succession, and that Jesus is commenting on this particular case.
  2. The original Greek of this passage makes it clear that Jesus intended no statement concerning the marital status of the righteous in heaven.
  3. The eternal unmarried state is the state of the angels in heaven, but it is not that of the heirs of salvation.

For a detailed response, see: Further discussion of Matthew 22:23-30


Response to claim: "33. How can worthy Mormon males become Gods in the afterlife when God already said that before him no God was formed, nor will there be any Gods formed after him?"

The author(s) make(s) the following claim:

33. How can worthy Mormon males become Gods in the afterlife when God already said that before him no God was formed, nor will there be any Gods formed after him? (Isaiah 43:10)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

Critics often misunderstand the doctrine of theosis, or human deification. Yet, it is a doctrine shared by many early Christians and much of modern Eastern Christianity (e.g., Eastern Orthodox). However, the question asked here represents a misunderstanding of the Isaiah scripture in its ancient context when compared with the rest of the Bible.


Question: How is Mormon belief compatible with Isaiah's statement that beside the Lord "there is no God?"

These scriptures in Isaiah clearly are meant to assert the supremacy, authority, and superiority of Yahweh over not only over false idols but over all else, including real gods

Some Christians claim that the Mormon doctrine of the Godhead and belief in theosis are not compatible with multiple statements in Isaiah that "beside [the Lord] there is no God." These passages include Isaiah 43:10-11; Isaiah 44:6,8; Isaiah 45:5-6; Isaiah 45:21-22; and Isaiah 46:9-10.

These scriptures in Isaiah clearly are meant to assert the supremacy, authority, and superiority of Yahweh over not only over false idols but over all else, including real gods.

The passages in Isaiah cannot be called upon to disprove LDS beliefs in separate divine beings in the Godhead or theosis. Their main point is to encourage Israel to stop worshiping other divine beings or idols but to worship Yahweh alone (see Isaiah 41:29, Isaiah 42:8, Isaiah 43:10,12,24, Isaiah 44:8,9,10,17,19, Isaiah 45:9,12,16,20,22.

Any other use of these passages distorts Isaiah's meaning and intent.

Isaiah 44:6 reads:

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.

Passages such as Isa 44:6,8 and 45:5,21 that read "no God beside me" or a variation of that phrase are traditionally interpreted by mainstream anti-Mormons as meaning that other than Yahweh no form of deity exists at all, including exalted men. This type of interpretation at first seems obvious, but after considering similar passages in other parts of scripture it is clear that this interpretation is incorrect.

For example, Isaiah 47:8-10 depicts the city of Babylon as saying:

Therefore hear now this, thou that art given to pleasures, that dwellest carelessly, that sayest in thine heart, I am, and none else beside me; I shall not sit as a widow, neither shall I know the loss of children:
For thou hast trusted in thy wickedness: thou hast said, None seeth me. Thy wisdom and thy knowledge, it hath perverted thee; and thou hast said in thine heart, I am, and none else beside me.

These passages use the exact same phrase as Isa 44 and 45, yet they certainly do not exclude the existence of any city other than Babylon. The city of Ninevah would be very upset if this were the case, as Zephaniah depicts Ninevah in Zephaniah 2:15 as saying:

This is the rejoicing city that dwelt carelessly, that said in her heart, I am, and there is none beside me: how is she become a desolation, a place for beasts to lie down in! every one that passeth by her shall hiss, and wag his hand.

Again it is clear that this phrase does not exclude the very existence of other cities. Using these parallel phrases makes it clear that Isaiah is not excluding the very existence of any other deity when he quotes Yahweh as declaring "there is no God beside me." There are, in fact, several scriptures in the Old Testament that imply that Yahweh is in fact one of a number of Gods, albeit supreme. Compare the following passages from the KJV, NIV and ESV versions of the Bible:

  • And the heavens shall praise thy wonders, O Lord: thy faithfulness also in the congregation of the saints. For who in the heaven can be compared unto the Lord? who among the sons of the mighty can be likened unto the Lord? God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be had in reverence of all them that are about him. O Lord God of hosts, who is a strong Lord like unto thee? aor to thy faithfulness round about thee? (KJV Psalms 89:5-8)
  • The heavens praise your wonders, O LORD, your faithfulness too, in the assembly of the holy ones. For who in the skies above can compare with the LORD? Who is like the LORD among the heavenly beings [fn. Lit "sons of god(s)]? In the council of holy ones God is greatly feared; he is more awesome than all who surround him. O LORD God almighty, who is like you? You are mighty, O LORD, and your faithfulness surrounds you (NIV Psalms 89:5-8).
  • Among all the gods there is none like unto thee, O Lord; neither are there any works like unto thy works (Psalms 86:8).
  • God has taken his place in the divine council; in the midst of the gods he holds judgment (ESV Psalms 82:1)
  • God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods. (KJV Psalms 82:1)

These scriptures speak of divine beings, "gods" who are the "sons of god(s)" who are heavenly beings who dwell in the skies. These cannot be idols or false gods. Yahweh dwells among them, reigns over them, and holds judgment in their midst.

Another favorite scripture of the critics of the LDS doctrine of exaltation is Isaiah 43:10. They seem to believe it contradicts this doctrine when it says:

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.

Whether this passage is referring to false idols who represent deities that do not exist, or whether it refers to real divine beings who exist alongside and subordinate to Yahweh is not crucial for responding to this particular criticism. The passage specifically says "before" and "after" Yahweh. Since Yahweh has always existed, and since He will always exist no man can ever be exalted "before" or "after" Yahweh. All men who are exalted to godhood will be contemporaries of Yahweh, and will never precede nor follow Yahweh's existence. They will also become part of the divine council over which he presides.

Wherefore, as it is written, [the inhabitants of the Celestial Kingdom] are gods, even the sons of God (D&C 76:58).


Response to claim: "34. If God had a father who was a God, how come Isaiah 44:8 says that he doesn't know him?"

The author(s) make(s) the following claim:

34. If God had a father who was a God, how come Isaiah 44:8 says that he doesn't know him?

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

Again, the interpretation of this verse is mistaken.


Response to claim: "35. If God was once just a man who progressed to becoming a God, how do you explain Psalm 90:2:…'even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God'"

The author(s) make(s) the following claim:

35. If God was once just a man who progressed to becoming a God, how do you explain Psalm 90:2:…"even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God"

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information - The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event

The only aspect of this about which we are certain is that God the Father underwent a mortal experience like Christ did. Jesus was, however, God before He underwent His mortal experience, and the Father may have been too. We simply don't know.


Question: Does the Book of Mormon refute Joseph Smith on the nature of God?

The term "unchangeable God" mentioned in the Book of Mormon is not referencing a physical state

The Book of Mormon never says God was once a mortal, and, in fact, it teaches that God was always God. Take for instance Moroni 8:18. It says God is "unchangeable from all eternity to all eternity." Joseph Smith, however, taught, "We have imagined and supposed that God was God from all eternity, I will refute that idea, and take away the veil so that you may see."[11]

The term "unchangeable God" is not referencing a physical state. This can be shown from similar terms from the Bible about Jesus. Jesus is referred to as "the same yesterday, today, and forever" (Hebrews 13:8). Yet we learn from the scriptures that Jesus “increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man”(Luke 2:52) here is certainly a change in condition; here is succession of time with God, a before and after; here is being and becoming; for whereas, He was a spirit, He became man; and in becoming man, He passed through all the phases in life from infancy to manhood. It is significant also that it was not until Jesus had arisen from the tomb and stood in the presence of His disciples, glorified personage, body and spirit united, that He exclaimed, “all power is given unto Me in heaven and earth.” (Matthew 28:18) If “given”, there must have been a time when He did not possess all power in heaven and in earth; and hence, a change from possessing some power to the condition of possessing “all power”. So this term is not meant to mean His physical condition.

In context, no scripture tells us of God's physical change, but actually tells us that one can be eternal, unchanging, the same yesterday, today and forever, and still go through physical changes. Joseph however was contending against this false interpretation of scripture and was teaching the saints appropriately. In his lecture, he was talking about God passing through physical changes, even as Christ did, and as we must.

Here is a brief synopsis of scriptures that speak about this term, and possible meanings:

Scriptural Review

Hebrews 13:8-9

8 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and for ever.
9 Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein.

Comment: The term here seems to say that God/Christ will not tell you one thing, and another, something different, when it comes to doctrine.

Moroni 8:12,18

12 But little children are alive in Christ, even from the foundation of the world; if not so, God is a partial God, and also a changeable God, and a respecter to persons; for how many little children have died without baptism!...
18 For I know that God is not a partial God, neither a changeable being; but he is unchangeable from all eternity to all eternity.

Comment: This also seems to say the same thing. God will not tell someone that one doctrine is correct, in this case, infant baptism, and another it is ok.

Mormon 9:7-9

7 And again I speak unto you who deny the revelations of God, and say that they are done away, that there are no revelations, nor prophecies, nor gifts, nor healing, nor speaking with tongues, and the interpretation of tongues;
8 Behold I say unto you, he that denieth these things knoweth not the gospel of Christ; yea, he has not read the scriptures; if so, he does not understand them.
9 For do we not read that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and in him there is no variableness neither shadow of changing?

Comment: Again, this agrees with the other scriptures. God, will not give tell/give the Gifts of the Spirit to one group, and tell another it is wrong.

2 Nephi 27:23

23 For behold, I am God; and I am a God of miracles; and I will show unto the world that I am the same yesterday, today, and forever; and I work not among the children of men save it be according to their faith.

Comment: Virtual agreement with our other scriptural references.

Psalms 102:24-27

24 I said, O my God, take me not away in the midst of my days: thy years are throughout all generations.
25 Of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth: and the heavens are the work of thy hands.
26 They shall perish, but thou shalt endure: yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment; as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed:
27 But thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end"

Comment: The Psalmist here, in context, is referring to the eternal nature of God. All things will pass away, but God will remain.

Malachi 3:4-6

4 Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the LORD, as in the days of old, and as in former years.
5 And I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his right, and fear not me, saith the LORD of hosts.
6 For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed."

Comment: This is a reference to the promises God makes to His children, and his remembrance of those covenants.


Response to claim: "36. How can God be an exalted man when Numbers 23:19 says that God is not a man?"

The author(s) make(s) the following claim:

36. How can God be an exalted man when Numbers 23:19 says that God is not a man?

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

The verse actually says (NET Bible version):

God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a human being, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? (Numbers 23:19)

Thus, the teaching here is that God is not a fallible mortal who will change his goals or say He will do something and then not do it. There is, by contrast, abundant Biblical evidence of God's physical form upon which man's body was patterned:


Question: Does the doctrine that God has a physical body contradict the Bible?

It is incorrect to imply that God cannot be in human form, since a fundamental doctrine of Christianity is that Jesus is God, made flesh

Mormons believe that God has a physical body and human form. Does scripture which says that "God is not a man" (e.g. Numbers 23:19, 1 Samuel 15:29, Hosea 11:9) contradict this idea?

These scriptures read (emphasis added):

  • "God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man [i.e., a human being], that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?" - Numbers 23:19
  • "And also the Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent: for he is not a man, that he should repent." - 1 Samuel 15:29
  • I will not execute the fierceness of mine anger, I will not return to destroy Ephraim: for I am God, and not man; the Holy One in the midst of thee: and I will not enter into the city. - Hosea 11:9

The first passage, in Numbers, not only says that "God is not a man", but it also says that God is not "the son of man." If a Christian were to claim from this passage that God is not a man, they would have to consistently claim that God is also not a "son of man." This of course contradicts many New Testament statements about Jesus (who is God) to the contrary. Though there are many examples, one should suffice. Jesus says, "For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth." Matthew 12:40 Therefore, we know that the passage from Numbers is not suggesting that God is fundamentally not a "son of man", but rather that God is not a "son of man" in the sense that God doesn't have need for repentance. The next logical step requires us to conclude that the passage is not suggesting that God is fundamentally "not a man", but that God is not a man in the sense that God does not lie.

These verses say nothing about the nature or form of God—they merely assert that God is not like man in certain ways

God will not lie or change his declared course, unlike humans. As the NET translation of 1 Samuel says, "The Preeminent One of Israel does not go back on his word or change his mind, for he is not a human being who changes his mind.”

It is incorrect to imply that God cannot be in human form—the fundamental doctrine of Christianity is that Jesus is God, made flesh. One would have to assume that these verses also apply to Jesus, when they clearly do not. Jesus may be in human form, but he will not sin, or change his mind from doing his father's will.


Response to claim: "37. Why does the Mormon Church teach that Elohim had sexual relations with Mary to produce Jesus when both Matthew and Luke teach she was a virgin?"

The author(s) make(s) the following claim:

37. Why does the Mormon Church teach that Elohim had sexual relations with Mary to produce Jesus when both Matthew and Luke teach she was a virgin (The Seer, January 1853, p. 158)?

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is false

The 19th century periodical The Seer was a publication that was officially disavowed by the First Presidency soon after it was published by Orson Pratt. So, this is not LDS doctrine, and it is not taught. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believes in the virgin birth of Christ, but has no doctrine about how such a miracle occurred.


Question: Do Mormons believe that Mary was still a virgin when Jesus was born?

Latter-day Saints believe in the virgin birth

It is claimed that Latter-day Saints believe Jesus was conceived through sexual intercourse between God the Father and Mary, and that Mary therefore was not a virgin when Jesus was born. It is also claimed that Latter-day Saints reject the "Evangelical belief" that "Christ was born of the virgin Mary, who, when the Holy Ghost came upon her, miraculously conceived the promised messiah."

Often used as evidence are a handful statements from early LDS leaders, such as Brigham Young, that directly or indirectly support this idea. However, such statements do not represent the official doctrine of the Church. The key, official doctrine of the Church is that Jesus is literally the son of God (i.e., this is not a symbolic or figurative expression), and Mary was a virgin before and after Christ's conception.

At the annunciation, Mary questioned the angel about how she could bear a child: "How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?" (Luke 1:34; the expression "know" in the Greek text is a euphemism for sexual relations). Nephi likewise described Mary as a virgin (1 Nephi 11:13-20), as did Alma1 (Alma 7:10).

Latter-day Saints believe Jesus was the Only Begotten of the Father in the flesh

Latter-day Saints do believe that Jesus Christ was literally the Son of God, not the son of Joseph or even the son of the Holy Ghost. (see 2 Ne 25:12 and DC 93:11) As Ezra Taft Benson stated,

[T]he testimonies of appointed witnesses leave no question as to the paternity of Jesus Christ. God was the Father of His fleshly tabernacle, and Mary, a mortal woman, was His mother. He is therefore the only person born who rightfully deserves the title “the Only Begotten Son of God.”[12]

What the Church has not taken a position on is how the conception took place, despite speculations by various early Church leaders

The canonized scriptures are silent on how the conception took place—even Nephi's detailed vision of then-future Messiah is veiled during the part where Mary conceives (1 Nephi 11:19).

Some early leaders of the Church felt free to express their beliefs on the literal nature of God's Fatherhood of Jesus' physical body

For example, Brigham Young said the following in a discourse given 8 July 1860:

"...[T]here is no act, no principle, no power belonging to the Deity that is not purely philosophical. The birth of the Saviour was as natural as are the births of our children; it was the result of natural action. He partook of flesh and blood—was begotten of his Father, as we were of our fathers." [13]

Jesus shared God's genetic inheritance without necessarily requiring a sexual act to combine that inheritance with Mary's mortal contribution

But are these types of statements official Church doctrine, required for all believing Latter-day Saints to accept? No—they were never submitted to the Church for ratification or canonization. (See General authorities' statements as scripture.)

Critics have noted that this statement, and others like it, can be read to indicate there was sexual intercourse involved in the conception of Jesus. Regardless of this speculation--which goes beyond the textual data--Brigham Young's view may be seen by some contemporary Latter-day Saints as correct in that Jesus was literally physically the Son of God, just as much as any children are "of our fathers." Modern science has discovered alternative methods of conceiving children--e.g., in vitro "test tube" babies--that don't involve sexual intercourse. Thus, though processes such as artificial insemination were unknown to Brigham and thus likely not referenced by his statements, it does not necessarily follow from a modern perspective that the conception had to come about as the result of a literal sexual union. It is certainly not outside of God's power to conceive Christ by other means, while remaining his literal father. (Put another way, Jesus shared God's genetic inheritance, if you will, without necessarily requiring a sexual act to combine that inheritance with Mary's mortal contribution).

Ezra Taft Benson taught:

He was the Only Begotten Son of our Heavenly Father in the flesh—the only child whose mortal body was begotten by our Heavenly Father. His mortal mother, Mary, was called a virgin, both before and after she gave birth. (See 1 Nephi 11:20.) [14]

Benson's emphasis is on both the literalness of Jesus' divine birth, and the fact that Mary's virginal status persisted even immediately after conceiving and bearing Jesus.

Church leaders' statements on the literal paternity of Christ were often a reaction to various ideas which are false

  • they disagreed with the tendency of conventional Christianity to deny the corporeality of God. They thus insisted that God the Father had a "natural," physical form. There was no need, in LDS theology, for a non-physical, wholly spirit God to resort to a mysterious process to conceive a Son.
  • they disagreed with efforts to "allegorize" or "spiritualize" the virgin birth; they wished it understood that Christ is the literal Son of God in a physical, "natural" sense of sharing both human and divine traits in His makeup. This can be seen to be a reaction against more "liberal" strains in Christianity that saw Jesus as the literal son of Mary and Joseph, but someone endowed with God's power at some point in His life.
  • they did not accept that the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost were of one "essence," but rather believed that they are distinct Personages. Thus, it is key to LDS theology that Jesus is the Son of the Father, not the Holy Ghost. To a creedal, trinitarian Christian, this might be a distinction without a difference; for an LDS Christian it is crucial.

Bruce R. McConkie said this about the birth of Christ:

God the Father is a perfected, glorified, holy Man, an immortal Personage. And Christ was born into the world as the literal Son of this Holy Being; he was born in the same personal, real, and literal sense that any mortal son is born to a mortal father. There is nothing figurative about his paternity; he was begotten, conceived and born in the normal and natural course of events, for he is the Son of God, and that designation means what it says. [15]

In the same volume, Elder McConkie explained his reason for his emphasis:

"Our Lord is the only mortal person ever born to a virgin, because he is the only person who ever had an immortal Father. Mary, his mother, "was carried away in the Spirit" (1 Ne. 11:13-21), was "overshadowed" by the Holy Ghost, and the conception which took place "by the power of the Holy Ghost" resulted in the bringing forth of the literal and personal Son of God the Father. (Alma 7:10; 2 Ne. 17:14; Isa. 7:14; Matt. 1:18-25; Luke 1:26-38.) Christ is not the Son of the Holy Ghost, but of the Father. (Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 1, pp. 18-20.) Modernistic teachings denying the virgin birth are utterly and completely apostate and false. [16]

Note that McConkie emphasized the literal nature of Christ's divinity, his direct descent from the Father, and the fact that the Holy Ghost was a tool, but not the source of Jesus' divine Parenthood.

Harold B. Lee was clear that the method of Jesus' conception had not been revealed, and discouraged speculation on the matter

Harold B. Lee said,

We are very much concerned that some of our Church teachers seem to be obsessed of the idea of teaching doctrine which cannot be substantiated and making comments beyond what the Lord has actually said.

You asked about the birth of the Savior. Never have I talked about sexual intercourse between Deity and the mother of the Savior. If teachers were wise in speaking of this matter about which the Lord has said but very little, they would rest their discussion on this subject with merely the words which are recorded on this subject in Luke 1:34-35: "Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God."

Remember that the being who was brought about by [Mary's] conception was a divine personage. We need not question His method to accomplish His purposes. Perhaps we would do well to remember the words of Isaiah 55:8-9: "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts."

Let the Lord rest His case with this declaration and wait until He sees fit to tell us more. [17]


Response to claim: "38. Why does the LDS Church teach that Jesus paid for our sins in the garden of Gethsemane when 1 Peter 2:24 says that it was on the cross?"

The author(s) make(s) the following claim:

38. Why does the LDS Church teach that Jesus paid for our sins in the garden of Gethsemane when 1 Peter 2:24 says that it was on the cross?

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information - The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event

The atoning sacrifice began in the Garden of Gethsemane and culminated on the cross. We can see from the Gospels that the suffering began in the Garden and went on until Jesus said on the cross "it is finished." Neither aspect was unimportant, and both involved suffering which we cannot fathom (see D&C 19:18). The LDS Church has no quarrel with this doctrine. This hostile question seems to be an attempt to suggest that Latter-day Saints do not value or appreciate Christ's saving death on the cross, but this is false.

It may be that the Church sometimes emphasizes Gethsemane, because traditional Christianity has long focused on the cross in art, iconography, and ritual. Yet, Gethsemane must not be overlooked, where Christ "sweat...as it were great drops of blood" for the sins of all humanity (Luke 22:44; see also Alma 7:11, D&C 19:18).


Question: Are Latter-day Saints are not true Christians because they do not use the cross and believe that the atonement occurred in the Garden of Gethsemane?

Latter-day Saints include Christ's suffering and death on the cross as part of his atonement for all humanity

Latter-day Saints teach that the atonement of Christ was carried out in Gethsemane, rather than on the cross. However, these statements from a variety of LDS sources are sufficient to show that the LDS include Christ's suffering and death on the cross as part of his atonement for all humanity. His suffering on the cross was preceded by suffering at Gethsemane.

Even Jesus' life had a part in His atonement, since only God, a perfect being, could perform this service. His mission thus also included being "in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin" (Hebrews 4:15). It is therefore arbitrary and misleading to draw some type of "line" during Jesus' mortal life or death when He was not working for our salvation. This includes Gethsemane and the cross.

An anti-Mormon protester claims—falsely—that Latter-day Saints do not value the atoning sacrifice of Christ on the cross for all humanity.

There is a spectrum of belief in the Church, among both the leaders and the people in the pew, as in all religions. It is true that members of the Church have historically included the garden of Gethsemane as playing a role in Jesus' saving act. Some have emphasized it, perhaps in reaction to the emphasis on the cross alone in other Christian denominations.

The garden and the cross

However, even that emphasis, were it the sole message of the Church (and it is not) does not exclude the cross. Note, for example, this excerpt from the Christmas message of Gordon B. Hinckley, past President of the Church:

We honor His birth. But without His death that birth would have been but one more birth. It was the redemption which He worked out in the Garden of Gethsemane and upon the cross of Calvary which made His gift immortal, universal, and everlasting. His was a great Atonement for the sins of all mankind. He was the resurrection and the life, "the firstfruits of them that slept" (1 Corinthians 15:20). Because of Him all men will be raised from the grave. [18]

Other statements by Elder Bruce McConkie, who is sometimes used as evidence for this criticism, show he was not as one-sided as critics imply:

And now, as pertaining to this perfect atonement, wrought by the shedding of the blood of God—I testify that it took place in Gethsemane and at Golgotha, and as pertaining to Jesus Christ, I testify that he is the Son of the Living God and was crucified for the sins of the world. He is our Lord, our God, and our King." [19]

The official training booklet sent out with missionaries includes this statement:

The Atonement included His suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane as well as His suffering and death on the cross. [20]

As a fourth example, consider something that recently came from the Church press:

Jesus' atoning sacrifice took place in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross at Calvary. In Gethsemane, He began to take upon himself the sins of the world…. The Savior continued to suffer for our sins when He allowed Himself to be crucified. [21]

The importance of Gethsemane in the scriptures

Gethsemane does present some interesting problems. Other Christians reject the Latter-day Saint view of the importance of Gethsemane in part because it is only mentioned twice in the New Testament (Matthew 26:36 and Mark 14:32). While this may be so, the events that transpired there are mentioned also in the other two gospels. In other words, all four gospel writers felt it important enough to include it in their 'memoirs.' In John 18:1 it is reported that Christ and His disciples "often resorted thither." Luke 22:39 tells us that He went there, "as he was wont" (compare Luke 19:29 and Luke 21:37, the latter of which says He spent the 'nights' on Mount Olive). This was apparently a special place for them to seek solitude, a private place to seek their Father in prayer. It is evident from the commentaries written on the various gospels that the exact purpose of the experience is not well understood. We don't need to go into the events verse by verse, but there are some things that need to be noted. Despite the importance the Lord places on prayer in general, there are only a few places where He is actually depicted as doing so; this prayer in Gethsemane is one of them. Furthermore, there are few places in the New Testament where He is depicted as being 'strengthened' by an angel (Matthew 4:11). The experience in the Garden is one of them (Luke 22:43, in which an angel is sent to strengthen Him during His prayer). There are others who have also commented on the singularity of this experience, and attributed it, at least in part, to the atonement.

Gethsemane as viewed by non-Latter-day Saint Christians

Christian theologian Leon Morris is quoted frequently by Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson, the authors of the book Mormonism 101 (a book critical of Mormonism). It is not without significance, therefore, that Morris quotes Lesslie Newbigin as follows:

The Son of God, the Word of God made flesh, kneels in the garden of Gethsemane. He wrestles in prayer. His sweat falls like great drops of blood. He cries out in an agony: "not my will, but thine be done." That is what it costs God to deal with man's sin. To create the heavens and the earth costs Him no labor, no anguish; to take away the sin of the world costs Him His own life-blood. [22]

Elsewhere, Leon Morris himself admits that, at least for Matthew, "what took place in the Garden was very important." [23]

In a recent commentary, Donald A. Hagner of Fuller Theological Seminary writes:

The thought of what he will have to undergo in the near future fills Jesus with dread and anguish. A real struggle within the soul of Jesus takes place in Gethsemane, and he craves the support of those who have been closest to him during his ministry. The mystery of the agony of God's unique Son cannot be fully penetrated. That it has to do with bearing the penalty of sin for the world to make salvation possible seems clear. [24]

In a commentary on Matthew 26, first published in 1864, German scholar John Peter Lange refers to several interpretations offered by earlier commentators. He quotes a scholar named Ebrard: "His trembling in Gethsemane was not dread of His sufferings, but was part of His passion itself; it was not a transcendental and external assumption of a foreign guilt, but a concrete experience of the full and concentrated power of the world's sin." [25] At the same place Lange refers to the reformer Melanchthon as teaching that in the Garden Christ "suffered the wrath of God in our stead and our behalf."

Another recent commentary quotes favorably a statement to the effect that Matthew 26:37 ("And he took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy") indicates that "at this point the Passion, in its full sense, began." [26]

J.M. Ford writes, "the theological importance, however, is that for Luke the blood that redeems humankind begins to flow in the garden." [27] Popular evangelical scholar Thomas C. Oden paraphrases Catherine of Siena this way:

[Christ] was not externally compelled to be baptized with the baptism of sinners, to set his face steadfastly toward Jerusalem or go to Gethsemane, or drink the cup of suffering. Rather he received and drank that cup not because he liked to suffer—the very thought cause him to sweat profusely—but rather because it was an intrinsic part of the purpose of his mission to humanity. [28]

B.H. Roberts quotes the following from the International Commentary on Matthew:

This conflict presents our Lord in the reality of His manhood, in weakness and humiliation, but it is impossible to account for it unless we admit His Divine nature. Had He been a mere man, His knowledge of the sufferings before Him could not have been sufficient to cause such sorrow. The human fear of death will not explain it. As a real man, He was capable of such a conflict. But it took place after the serenity of the Last Supper and sacerdotal prayers, and before the sublime submission in the palace and judgment hall. The conflict, therefore, was a specific agony of itself. He felt the whole burden and mystery of the world's sin, and encountered the fiercest assaults of Satan. Otherwise, in this hour this Person, so powerful, so holy, seems to fall below the heroism of martyrs in His own cause. His sorrow did not spring from His own life, His memory of His fears, but from the vicarious nature of the conflict. The agony was a bearing of the weight and sorrow of our sins, in loneliness, in anguish of soul threatening to crush His body, yet borne triumphantly, because in submission to His Father's will. Three times our Lord appeals to that will, as purposing His anguish; that purpose of God in regard to the loveliest, best of men, can be reconciled with justice and goodness in God in but one way; that it was necessary for our redemption. Mercy forced its way through justice to the sinner. Our Lord suffered anguish of soul for sin, that it might never rest on us. To deny this is in effect not only to charge our Lord with undue weakness, but to charge God with needless cruelty. "Surely He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows…. He was wounded for our transgressions. He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed" [Isaiah 53.4-5]" [29]

David B. Haight, of the Quorum of the Twelve, quotes the following from the Reverend Frederic Farrar:

They then rose from the table, united their voices in a hymn, and left the room together to walk to the Garden of Gethsemane and all that awaited them there "The awful hour of His deepest [suffering] had arrived…. Nothing remained…but the torture of physical pain and the poignancy of mental anguish…. He…[calmed] His spirit by prayer and solitude to meet that hour in which all that is evil in the Power of [Satan] should wreak its worst upon the Innocent and Holy [One]. And He must face that hour alone…. 'My soul,' He said, 'is full of anguish, even unto death.'" It was not the anguish and fear of pain and death but 'the burden…of the world's sin which lay heavy on His heart. [30]

Evangelical scholar Klaas Runia has recently drawn our attention to a prayer which was formerly read at the beginning of the Lord's Supper service in the Reformed Churches in Holland. The prayer said in part: "We remember that all the time he lived on earth he was burdened by our sin and God's judgment upon it; that in his agony in the garden he sweated drops of blood under the weight of our sins." [31]

Alfred Edersheim referred to the Garden as "the other Eden, in which the Second Adam, the Lord from heaven, bore the penalty of the first, and in obeying gained life.'" [32] Adam Clarke is quoted as having once said that "Jesus paid more in the Garden than on the Cross." [33] S. Lewis Johnson, from whose article these previous two quotations derive, concluded, "Gethsemane sets forth for us the passion of our Lord for the souls of men. The voice of Gethsemane sounds forth, 'I am willing,' while the voice from Calvary cries, 'It is finished.' Both illustrate how much He cared." [34]

This is the one thing which seemingly all commentators, LDS or otherwise, agree: He loved us and He manifested that love by His life and by His death. As the above quotations indicate, there is a fair amount of non-LDS support for the idea that the experience of our Savior in the Garden of Gethsemane is also related to the atoning sacrifice which He made for us. There is also enough material by non-LDS scholars to indicate that the exact mechanics of the Atonement are not known.

Latter-day Saint scripture contains some clear references to the cross

Further, uniquely LDS scripture contains some clear references:

1 Nephi 11:33
Jesus was "was lifted up upon the cross and slain for the sins of the world."
3 Nephi 27:14
"My Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross"

Latter-day Saint Sacrament hymns refer to the cross

An anti-Mormon protester at October 2004 LDS General Conference claims that members of the Church are "enemies" of the cross. He apparently knows little of LDS scripture, doctrine, hymns, or belief.

It is worthwhile to note that Latter-day Saints make frequent reference to Christ's sacrifice on the cross in their Sacrament hymns:

  • Hymn 171, With Humble Heart: "Help me remember, I implore, Thou gavst thy life on Calvary."
  • Hymn 172, In Humility Our Savior: "Let me not forget, O Savior, Thou didst bleed and die for me when Thy heart was stilled and broken on the cross at Calvary."
  • Hymn 174, While of these Emblems We Partake: "For us the blood of Christ was shed; For us on Calvary's cross He bled..."
  • Hymn 177, Tis Sweet To Sing the Matchless Love: "For Jesus died on Calvary, that all through him might ransomed be."
  • Hymn 178, O Lord of Hosts: "salvation purchased on that tree for all who seek thy face."
  • Hymn 181, Jesus of Nazareth, Savior and King: "Jesus of Nazareth, Savior and King, Our thoughts to thee are led, in reverence sweet. Bruised, broken, torn for us, on Calvary's hill."
  • Hymn 182, We'll Sing All Hail to Jesus' Name: "We'll sing all hail to Jesus name...to him that bled on Calvary's hill, And died that we might live."
  • Hymn 184, Upon the Cross at Calvary: "Upon the cross at Calvary, they crucified our Lord, and sealed with blood the sacrifice that sanctified his word. Upon the cross he meekly died, for all mankind to see that death unlocks the passageway into eternity. Upon the cross our Savior died, but, dying brought new birth through resurrection's miracle to all the sons of earth."
  • Hymn 185, Reverently and Meekly Now: "With my blood that dripped like rain, sweat in agony of pain, with my body on the tree, I have ransomed even thee...Oh remember what was done, that the sinner might be won. On the cross of Calvary, I have suffered death for thee."
  • Hymn 190, In Memory of the Crucified: "Our Savior in Gethsemane shrank not to drink the bitter cup. And then, for us, on Calvary, upon the cross was lifted up."
  • Hymn 191, Behold the Great Redeemer Die: "Behold the great Redeemer die... They pierce his hands and feet and side; And with insulting scoffs and scorns, they crown his head with plaited thorns. Although in agony he hung... his high commission to fulfill, He magnified his Father's will."
  • Hymn 193, I Stand All Amazed: "I stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers me, confused at the grace that so fully he proffers me. I tremble to know that for me he was crucified, that for me, a sinner, he suffered he bled and died...I think of his hands pierced and bleeding to pay the debt! Such mercy, such love, and devotion can I forget? No, no, I will praise and adore at the mercy seat, until at the glorified throne I kneel at his feet...Oh it is wonderful that he should care for me, enough to die for me. Oh it is wonderful... wonderful to me."
  • Hymn 196, Jesus, Once of Humble Birth: "Jesus once of humble birth, now in glory comes to earth...Once upon the cross he bowed, Now his chariot is the cloud. Once he groaned in blood and tears, now in glory he appears."
  • Hymn 197, O Savior, Thou Wearest a Crown.: "O Savior, thou who wearest a crown of piercing thorn, the pain thou meekly bearest, weighed down by grief and scorn. The soldiers mock and flail thee; for drink they give thee gall; Upon the cross they nail thee to die, O king of all."

These hymns are sung every Sunday as the Sacrament is being prepared. It is clear that Jesus' sacrifice on the cross is a central focus of Latter-day Saint worship services.

Statements regarding the atonement

These statements are not cited in order to devalue in any way the importance of the cross. It is important to realize however that the cross is not necessarily as significant a concept in the scriptures as some might think. Leon Morris agrees with Murphy-O'Connor that aside from the writings of Paul, there are not many references in the New Testament to the 'death' of Jesus; indeed: "We would imagine that there are many New Testament references to the death of Christ. But, outside of Paul, there are not." [35] And in this context it is important to remember that Paul's writings comprise less than one-fourth of the New Testament writings. Father Murphy-O'Connor also writes "during the first Christian centuries, the cross was a thing accursed. No one professed allegiance to Christ by wearing a cross." He indicates that it was only after Constantine lifted the ban against Christianity in general, and forbade crucifixion in particular, that a "new, more pleasant meaning for the cross was facilitated." But, he concludes, "even after the cross had been widely accepted as a symbol, there was a consistent refusal to accept its reality. Only two crucifixion scenes survive from the fifth century… The situation remains unchanged until the twelfth century." [36] These comments are not intended to devalue the cross or the blood shed there, only to place these events in their proper context within sacred scripture. Despite the fact that Gethsemane is mentioned only twice in the scriptures, it has nevertheless engendered an enormous amount of secondary literature. A study on the study of the passion narratives published in 1989 identified seven books dealing specifically with Gethsemane during the previous 100 years and more than 100 articles. That represents a significant amount of discussion on something seemingly of no account! [37]


Response to claim: "39. Why did Bruce McConkie write that a man may commit a sin so grievous that it will place him beyond the atoning blood of Christ (Mormon Doctrine, 1979, p. 93) when the Bible says that the blood of Christ cleanses us from all sin?"

The author(s) make(s) the following claim:

39. Why did Bruce McConkie write that a man may commit a sin so grievous that it will place him beyond the atoning blood of Christ (Mormon Doctrine, 1979, p. 93) when the Bible says that the blood of Christ cleanses us from all sin? (1 John 1:7)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

  • "Mormon Doctrine" is not an official publication of the LDS Church.
  • In this case, however, Elder McConkie is in good company since Jesus taught that there was an unforgivable sin:

31 Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.

32 And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come. (Matthew 12:31–32, emphasis added)
  • Thus, it seems that 1 John is best interpreted as meaning that any forgivable sin is cleansed through—and only through—the blood of Christ. Latter-day Saints understand the "blasphemy against the Holy Ghost" to be rejecting the atonement of Christ when one has a perfect knowledge of it.
  • John later qualifies his statement making clear there is a sin that is unforgivable.

If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it 1 John 5:1.

  • The counsel here is to pray for those who sin unless they have committed the "sin unto death" which cannot be forgiven. Obviously, if one rejects the atonement of Christ, one cannot be saved by it, and so one will not be forgiven for that sin.


Question: Is there an "unforgivable sin" that is beyond the reach of Christ's atonement?

Jesus taught that there was an unforgivable sin

Why did LDS apostle Bruce McConkie write that a man may commit a sin so grievous that it will place him beyond the atoning blood of Christ (Mormon Doctrine, 1979, p. 93) when the Bible says that the blood of Christ cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7)?

Bruce R. McConkie's book "Mormon Doctrine" is not an official publication of the LDS Church.

In this particular case, however, Elder McConkie is in good company since Jesus taught that there was an unforgivable sin:

31 Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.

32 And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come. (Matthew 12:31–32, emphasis added)

Latter-day Saints understand the "blasphemy against the Holy Ghost" to be rejecting the atonement of Christ when one has a perfect knowledge of it

Thus, it seems that 1 John is best interpreted as meaning that any forgivable sin is cleansed through—and only through—the blood of Christ. Latter-day Saints understand the "blasphemy against the Holy Ghost" to be rejecting the atonement of Christ when one has a perfect knowledge of it.

John later qualifies his statement making clear there is a sin that is unforgivable.

If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it 1 John 5:1.

The counsel here is to pray for those who sin unless they have committed the "sin unto death" which cannot be forgiven. Obviously, if one rejects the atonement of Christ, one cannot be saved by it, and so one will not be forgiven for that sin.


Response to claim: "40. Why does the LDS Church teach that man first existed as spirits in heaven when 1 Corinthians 15:46 says that the physical body comes before the spiritual?"

The author(s) make(s) the following claim:

40. Why does the LDS Church teach that man first existed as spirits in heaven when 1 Corinthians 15:46 says that the physical body comes before the spiritual?

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

1 Corinthians is not talking about the order of creation, but is talking about the regeneration of the wicked person into a spiritual, born again person. Thus, of course the physical (i.e., carnal) person comes first, and the spiritual (i.e., born again) person comes next when regenerated through Christ.


Biblical statements indicate that God is the father of our spirits and we were known to him before our birth (e.g., Jeremiah 1:5).


Question: Why does the LDS Church teach that man first existed as spirits in heaven when 1 Corinthians 15:46 says that the physical body comes before the spiritual?

When Latter-day Saints speak of God creating our "spirit bodies," we do not mean the glorified, physical "spiritual body" of the resurrected

When Latter-day Saints speak of God creating our "spirit bodies," we do not mean the glorified, physical "spiritual body" of the resurrected. We refer to God's role as our Heavenly Father before our mortal lives.

Biblical statements indicate that God is the father of our spirits and we were known to him before our birth (e.g., Jeremiah 1:5). This is a separate doctrine from the doctrine of a glorious resurrection, which is clearly Paul's topic.

It is unfortunate that critics find it necessary to distort and twist the clear meaning of scripture in an attempt to make the Latter-day Saints "offenders for a word."

In context, Paul is clearly talking about the physical resurrection from the dead

In context, Paul is clearly talking about the physical resurrection from the dead. For example, earlier in the chapter he has written:

12 Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?
13 But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen:
14 And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.
15 Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not.
16 For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised:
...
22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming.
...
35 But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come?
36 Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die... (1 Corinthians 15:12-36, selections as indicated by verse numbers)

Paul clearly believes, then, that the physical body with which we die will be resurrected.

He then tells the Saints that:

40 There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another.
41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory.
42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption...
43 It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power:
44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. (1 Corinthians 15:40-43.)

The "spiritual body" to which Paul refers is the resurrected physical body which has been glorified

The "spiritual body" to which Paul refers is the resurrected physical body which has been glorified.

52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. (1 Corinthians 15:52-53.)

The "natural" body is the weak, corruptible mortal body that is "sown in weakness." The "spiritual body" is the glorified, resurrected body "raised in power." But, this does not mean that it is not also a physical, or corporeal body—Paul has just spent several verses insisting upon the reality of Christ's resurrection, and using Him as a model for the resurrection of the Saints. And, clearly Jesus' body was tangible and physical following the resurrection:

39 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''.
40 And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and his feet.
41 And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, he said unto them, Have ye here any meat?
42 And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb. (Luke 24:39-42, (emphasis added).)


Response to claim: "41. Since Jesus statement, 'be ye therefore perfect' (Matthew 5:48) is in the present tense, are you perfect right now? Do you expect to be perfect soon?"

The author(s) make(s) the following claim:

41. Since Jesus statement, "be ye therefore perfect" (Matthew 5:48) is in the present tense, are you perfect right now? Do you expect to be perfect soon? According to Hebrews 10:14, how are we made perfect?

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

In this life, perfection is something that can only be achieved by God's grace and in Christ. His perfection becomes ours through our covenant relationship with Him.

Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God. And again, if ye by the grace of God are perfect in Christ, and deny not his power, then are ye sanctified in Christ by the grace of God, through the shedding of the blood of Christ, which is in the covenant of the Father unto the remission of your sins, that ye become holy, without spot. Moroni 10:32-33

However, Matt. 5:48 suggests there will be a time when we will actually and independently be perfect like God. This, however, is not to be achieved in this life nor for a long time after death.


Question: What Biblical scriptures discuss the doctrine of the deification of man?

Theosis or deification is discussed in the following biblical scriptures

In regard to the Mormon doctrine, non-LDS scholar Ernst W. Benz has observed:

One can think what one wants of this doctrine of progressive deification, but one thing is certain: with this anthropology Joseph Smith is closer to the view of man held by the ancient Church than the precursors of the Augustinian doctrine of original sin. [38]

For more quotes about theosis see: Primary sources:Theosis


Response to claim: "42. Why do Mormons say the sticks in Ezekiel 37 represent the Bible and the Book of Mormon when Ezekiel 37:20-22 tells us that the sticks represent two nations, not two books?"

The author(s) make(s) the following claim:

42. Why do Mormons say the sticks in Ezekiel 37 represent the Bible and the Book of Mormon when Ezekiel 37:20-22 tells us that the sticks represent two nations, not two books?

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information - The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event

The two symbols are not exclusive. The sticks can be nations, and each nation has a witness of Christ which helps in restoring scattered Israel. The use of the Ezekiel passage is a modern one for Latter-day Saints. It does not mean that this is the only interpretation, or the use to which Ezekiel intended it to be put.


Response to claim: "43. Why does the LDS Church teach that Jesus and Lucifer are spirit brothers when both the first chapter of John and Colossians teach that Jesus is the Creator of all things, including Lucifer?"

The author(s) make(s) the following claim:

43. Why does the LDS Church teach that Jesus and Lucifer are spirit brothers when both the first chapter of John and Colossians teach that Jesus is the Creator of all things, including Lucifer?

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

This is another question intended more to sensationalize beliefs and polarize rather than lead to meaningful communication. Presumably, something akin to guilt by association is intended.


Question: Do Latter-day Saints consider Jesus to be the brother of Satan?

We believe Jesus is the divine Son of God and that Satan is a fallen angel, but that God is the Father of all

Some Christians claim that since Latter-day Saints consider Jesus and Satan to be "brothers" in the sense that they have the same Father, that this lowers the stature of Christ, or elevates that of Satan. Some go so far as to imply that the LDS "really" worship or revere Satan, and are thus not true "Christians."

Jesus, Satan, and all humanity share God the Father as their spiritual sire. However, moral agency led Jesus to obey God the Father perfectly and share fully in the Father's divine nature and power. The same agency led Satan to renounce God, fight Jesus, and doom himself to eternal damnation. The remainder of God's children—all of us—have the choice to follow the route chosen by Satan, or the path to which Christ invites us and shows the way.

Divine parenthood gives all children of God potential; Christ maximized that potential, and Satan squandered it.

To choose the gospel of Jesus Christ and the grace that attends it will lead us home again. If we choose to follow Satan's example, and refuse to accept the gift of God's Only Begotten Son, our spiritual parentage cannot help us, just as it cannot help dignify or ennoble Satan.

In December 2007 the Church issued the following press release on this issue:

Like other Christians, we believe Jesus is the divine Son of God. Satan is a fallen angel.
As the Apostle Paul wrote, God is the Father of all. That means that all beings were created by God and are His spirit children. Christ, however, was the only begotten in the flesh, and we worship Him as the Son of God and the Savior of mankind. [39]

Latter-day Saints do not believe the extra-biblical doctrines which surround many Christians' ideas about God, such as expressed by the Nicene Creed

LDS doctrine does not subscribe to traditional creedal trinitarianism. That is, the LDS do not believe the extra-biblical doctrines which surround many Christians' ideas about God, such as expressed by the Nicene Creed. Specifically, the LDS do not accept the proposition that Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit are "of one substance (homoousios) with the Father," as the Nicene Creed declares.

Rather, LDS doctrine teaches that God the Father is physically and personally distinct from Jesus Christ, His Only Begotten Son. The Father is understood to be the literal father of His spirit children.

LDS believe that Jesus Christ's role is central to our Heavenly Father's plan. Christ is unique in several respects from all other spirit children of God:

It is technically true to say that Jesus and Satan are "brothers," in the sense that both have the same spiritual parent, God the Father

God the Father also had many other spirit children, created in His image and that of His Only Begotten. These children include all humans born on the earth. Some of God's children rebelled against Him, and contested the choice of Jesus as Savior. (See D&C 76:25–27). The leader of these children was Lucifer, or Satan. Those spirit children of God who followed Satan in his rebellion against Christ are sometimes referred to as "demons," or "devils." (See Moses 4:1–4, Abraham 3:24–28).

Thus, it is technically true to say that Jesus and Satan are "brothers," in the sense that both have the same spiritual parent, God the Father.

Cain and Abel were also brothers, and yet no Bible reader believes that they are spiritual equals or equally admirable

However, critics do not provide the context for the idea that Christ and Lucifer were brothers. Cain and Abel were also brothers, and yet no Bible reader believes that they are spiritual equals or equally admirable. In a similar way, Latter-day Saints do not believe that Jesus and Satan are equals. The scriptures clearly teach the superiority of Jesus over the devil and that Michael (or Adam) and Lucifer (Satan) and their followers fought against each other (See Revelation 12:7-8) to uphold the plan of the Father and the Son.

Finally, while it is true that all mortals share a spiritual parent with Jesus (and Satan, and every other spiritual child of God), we now have a different, more important relationship with Jesus. All of God's children, save Jesus, have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). In sinning, they abandon and betray their divine heritage and inheritance. Only through Jesus can any mortal return home to God the Father. This return becomes possible when a sinner is born again, and adopted by Christ, who becomes the spiritual father to those whom He redeems. (See Romans 8:14–39.)

Critics also ignore the Biblical references that imply that Satan is one of the "sons of God." (See Job:16, Job 2:1)

Cautionary Note to Members

An Anti-Mormon poster at the 2004 Mesa Easter Pageant betrays its poor understanding of what "Mormonism" actually teaches.

Elder M. Russell Ballard cautioned members of the Church:

We occasionally hear some members refer to Jesus as our Elder Brother, which is a true concept based on our understanding of the premortal life with our Father in Heaven. But like many points of gospel doctrine, that simple truth doesn't go far enough in terms of describing the Savior's role in our present lives and His great position as a member of the Godhead. Thus, some non-LDS Christians are uncomfortable with what they perceive as a secondary role for Christ in our theology. They feel that we view Jesus as a spiritual peer. They believe that we view Christ as an implementor for God, if you will, but that we don't view Him as God to us and to all mankind, which, of course, is counter to biblical testimony about Christ's divinity…
Now we can understand why some Latter-day Saints have tended to focus on Christ's Sonship as opposed to His Godhood. As members of earthly families, we can relate to Him as a child, as a Son, and as a Brother because we know how that feels. We can personalize that relationship because we ourselves are children, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters. For some it may be more difficult to relate to Him as a God. And so in an attempt to draw closer to Christ and to cultivate warm and personal feelings toward Him, some tend to humanize Him, sometimes at the expense of acknowledging His Divinity. So let us be very clear on this point: it is true that Jesus was our Elder Brother in the premortal life, but we believe that in this life it is crucial that we become "born again" as His sons and daughters in the gospel covenant. [40]

Early Christian Evidence

An anti-Mormon protester at October 2002 LDS General Conference does little to help others understand LDS doctrine properly.

The early Ante-Nicene Church father Lactantius wrote:

Since God was possessed of the greatest foresight for planning, and of the greatest skill for carrying out in action, before He commenced this business of the world,--inasmuch as there was in Him, and always is, the fountain of full and most complete goodness,--in order that goodness might spring as a stream from Him, and might flow forth afar, He produced a Spirit like to Himself, who might be endowed with the perfections of God the Father... Then He made another being, in whom the disposition of the divine origin did not remain. Therefore he was infected with his own envy as with poison, and passed from good to evil; and at his own will, which had been given to him by God unfettered, he acquired for himself a contrary name. From which it appears that the source of all evils is envy. For he envied his predecessor, who through his steadfastness is acceptable and dear to God the Father. This being, who from good became evil by his own act, is called by the Greeks diabolus: we call him accuser, because he reports to God the faults to which he himself entices us. God, therefore, when He began the fabric of the world, set over the whole work that first and greatest Son, and used Him at the same time as a counselor and artificer, in planning, arranging, and accomplishing, since He is complete both in knowledge, and judgment, and power... [41]

Many things he here taught are not considered "orthodox" by today's standards. However, Lactantius was definitely orthodox during his lifetime. Amazingly, many things here correspond to LDS doctrine precisely in those areas that are "unorthodox." For example,

1. "He produced a Spirit like to Himself," namely Christ. Christ, in this sense, is not the "co-equal," "eternally begotten," "same substance" "persona" of the later creeds.
2. "Then he made another being, in whom the disposition of the divine origin did not remain." God made another spirit who rebelled and who fell from his exalted status. He is the diabolus.
3. Christ is the "first and greatest Son." Not the "only" son.
4. Lastly, since the diabolus and Christ are both spirit sons of God, they are spirit brothers.


Response to claim: "44. Why do worthy Mormon males hold the Aaronic Priesthood since Hebrews 7:11-12 clearly teaches that it was changed and superseded by something better?"

The author(s) make(s) the following claim:

44. Why do worthy Mormon males hold the Aaronic Priesthood since Hebrews 7:11-12 clearly teaches that it was changed and superseded by something better?

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information - The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event

Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles illustrated the doctrine clearly:

Since all priesthood is Melchizedek, the Aaronic Priesthood being a portion of it, one does not lose the Aaronic Priesthood when he is ordained to the Melchizedek Priesthood [...]

The Church uses the Aaronic priesthood as a "preparatory" priesthood, but has no disagreement with the idea that the Melchizedek priesthood contains greater power and authority, and is vital to the government of the Church of Christ. It should be noted that all priesthood was not equivalent in the New Testament Church either. For example, many members had been baptized with water (an ordinance of the Aaronic priesthood) but had not yet received the Holy Ghost until one of the apostles laid hands upon them (a Melchizedek priesthood function). (See Acts 8:15–19, Acts 19:2–6).


Question: Why do Mormons use the Aaronic Priesthood, since Hebrews 7 states that the Aaronic/Levitical Priesthood was "changed" to the unique priesthood "after the order of Melchizedek" held by Jesus Christ?

The idea that the Melchizedek Priesthood superseded the Aaronic Priesthood is a correct one, but this does not necessarily imply that there is no Aaronic Priesthood

As other Christians see it, the Aaronic Priesthood is like a small glass of water that is replaced by a fruit juice (the Melchizedek Priesthood). They are distinguished from each other, in most Christians' eyes, as quite separate things.

The LDS would use a different metaphor to explain things: they might compare the Aaronic Priesthood to a glass of water that is filled only part way. Instead of being replaced by an entirely different drink, more water is poured into it until it is a full glass (the Melchizedek Priesthood).

From a Mormon perspective, the two priesthoods are really the same substance: the power of God delegated to man

From whence do the two priesthoods originate? The same source—God. What is the purpose of the two priesthoods? They bring mortals to the Lord (note that only the Melchizedek Priesthood can do so entirely—see Hebrews 7:11—but the Aaronic Priesthood was instrumental in keeping ancient Israel holy and pure). The Aaronic Priesthood is merely a limited form of the Melchizedek Priesthood, or (as LDS scriptures call it) an "appendage" to it (D&C 107:13–14).

Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles illustrated the doctrine clearly:

Since all priesthood is Melchizedek, the Aaronic Priesthood being a portion of it, one does not lose the Aaronic Priesthood when he is ordained to the Melchizedek Priesthood [...][42]

Why does the Aaronic Priesthood persist in the Church?

So, if the Church possesses the Melchizedek priesthood, then why would the Aaronic Priesthood persist today? The Aaronic priesthood serves as a 'preparatory priesthood' (see D&C 84:26.) Just as the Levitical authority in ancient Israel acted as a "schoolmaster" to prepare Israel to receive Christ (see Galatians 3:24–25), in the modern Church the Aaronic priesthood serves to school young men for service in God's kingdom on earth.

The modern Aaronic priesthood's organizational structure follows the pattern established by the New Testament Church, and consists of Deacons (see Philippians 1:1, 1 Timothy 3:8,10,12–13), Teachers (Acts 13:1,1 Corinthians 12:28–29), and Priests (see Acts 6:7), and countless references in the Old Testament to Levitical/Aaronic 'priests').

Each Aaronic priesthood office is trusted with more responsibility, providing LDS young men with the opportunity to progress and mature until they are ready to receive the priesthood in full—the Melchizedek Priesthood.

Aaronic priesthood duties and function similar to ancient Israel

Despite some modern differences from ancient Israel, the Aaronic Priesthood is not much different compared to ancient times.

The Aaronic priesthood performs two ordinances (some Christian groups would call these 'sacraments').

  1. Baptism: John the Baptist held the Aaronic Priesthood, which holds the keys of baptism, and baptism is of course a fundamental part of salvation through Christ (see Acts 2:38).
  2. Sacrifice: The modern Church does not, of course, sacrifice animals because Jesus Christ sacrificed Himself for us, giving us the last great sacrifice (see Ephesians 5:2). Yet, the Church rejoices in and recalls His sacrifice for us by partaking of the sacrament ("communion" or "the Lord's supper" in other denominations) Matthew 26:26-29). Thus, the modern priest repeats a ceremony of atonement and sacrifice through the sacrament of the Lord's supper; this plays a similar theological role to the animal sacrifices offered by Aaronic priests anticipation of Christ's atonement and resurrection.

Separation of priesthood duties in the New Testament Church

It should be noted that all priesthood was not equivalent in the New Testament Church either. For example, many members had been baptized with water (an ordinance of the Aaronic priesthood) but had not yet received the Holy Ghost until one of the apostles laid hands upon them (a Melchizedek priesthood function). (See Acts 8:15–19, Acts 19:2–6).


Response to claim: "45. If your leaders are correct about the complete falling away of the true church on earth, was Jesus in error when he said that the gates of hell would not prevail against it?"

The author(s) make(s) the following claim:

45. If your leaders are correct about the complete falling away of the true church on earth, was Jesus in error when he said that the gates of hell would not prevail against it? (Matthew 16:18)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

This is a misunderstanding the original Greek text. In this case, "hell" is not a reference to the powers or evil, or Satan.

The word translated as "hell" in the KJV is actually Hades, the dwelling place of all departed spirits. For the gates of Hades to not prevail against the church could mean that the gates would not be able to stop the church from entering therein. (By comparison, in The Gospel of Nicodemus the "gates" mentioned in Psalm 24 refer to the gates of Hades and the attempt made there to keep out Jesus in the period between his death and resurrection. [See The Gospel of Nicodemus, Part II, 6 in ANF 8:436-437.]) In other words, Christ’s Church, his disciples, would preach the gospel not only among the living, but also among the dead—not even the gates of Hades could keep them out.

Another interpretation is that "prevail" has reference to keeping inhabitants inside. In this thought, gates could only prevail against something that is already inside of them and not external to them. This interpretation would be that Christ was saying that His Church would soon be inside the gates of the spirit world alone because of apostasy on earth, but that the Church would later come out from the world of the dead and back to earth—that His Church would shortly be confined to the spirit world, held back by its gates, but that later, members of Christ's Ancient Church (such as Peter, James, and John) would come, by revelation, out from behind the gates of Hades to restore the gospel to the earth.

Both of the above readings are distinct possibilities. Both reconcile all the Biblical data.


Question: Does the fact that Jesus said, "upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" mean that universal apostasy was impossible?

Jesus' teaching about the rock is not a reference to any individual church or group of believers, since even well-intentioned mortals must fail

Some Christians argue that a universal apostasy is impossible, because Jesus told Peter, "upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." (Matthew 16:18) It is claimed that this means the Church organized by Jesus would never suffer apostasy and loss.

Jesus' teaching about the rock is not a reference to any individual church or group of believers, since even well-intentioned mortals must fail. Christ is the only sure foundation upon which a church can be built, and the knowledge of Christ must come as it always has, as it came to Peter—by direct revelation from the Father. Christ's Church will then be built upon those who have such revelation of Christ, including prophets and apostles.

The gates of hell prevailing against the church must refer to keeping the church in or out of the Hades, the dwelling place of departed spirits

The gates of hell prevailing against the church must refer to keeping the church in or out of the Hades, the dwelling place of departed spirits. Gates do not force people to enter or leave, but they do keep people from going in or out. Therefore, the Catholic and Protestant interpretations are not very intelligible whereas the Latter-day Saints can interpret the passage in at least two logical, Biblically sound ways.

It is not surprising that this issue revolves around how one interprets Jesus' remark. There are several options. Key to understanding the passage, however, is figuring out what the final "it" refers to: the church or the rock. Does the passage mean "the gates of hell shall not prevail against the church," or does the passage mean "the gates of hell shall not prevail against this rock?" If it refers to the "rock," then one must determine what "the rock" refers to. Similarly, the word "prevail" can be interpreted in a number of ways.

Catholic perspective: "this rock" is literally Peter

The Catholic church, of course, thinks that "this rock" is literally Peter, and have based their claims to apostolic succession on the unbroken succession of bishops of Rome back to Peter. Other churches must necessarily define a different meaning, because they cannot claim apostolic succession in this way.

Churches (such as the Protestants) who believe that the Church of Rome is somehow flawed or in apostasy from the pure truth must adopt a different reading.

Protestant perspective: "the rock" refers to the Christian Church

Protestant readers have generally interpreted "the rock" to refer to the Christian Church. Under this reading, Jesus is promising that the church will never be entirely overcome by death and/or the forces of Satan.

Latter-day Saint perspective: the only true, unmovable rock that exists is revelation from God

Latter-day Saints have generally read this verse as referring to the only true, unmovable rock that exists--revelation from God. That is the rock upon which any Church must be built, and it is evidenced by the verses just before this one. In Matthew 16:13-17, the subject is literally revelation given to Peter as to who Jesus Christ really is. This knowledge came by revelation from God (Matthew 16:17), and Christ taught Peter that this revelation is the rock upon which He would build His Church. This is confirmed by Joseph Smith's teachings.

Jesus in His teaching says, “upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” What rock? Revelation.[43]

Both the Protestant and Catholic versions must contend with the fact that other Biblical authors taught an inevitable apostasy. It would seem strange for such Biblical authors, including Peter, to teach something which Jesus here denies.

One must also notice that gates only prevail against something by keeping it out or by holding it in. It makes little sense for gates, which by nature keep inhabitants in or out of a place, to "prevail" by forcing something to enter is completely illogical. The Catholic and Protestant interpretations force an interpretation that isn't logical, namely, that gates prevail by forcing someone to enter or someone to leave. Gates, of course, serve no such function. Gates keep things in or out, but they do not force things to go in or to go out.

"Prevail" meaning "to keep out"

The word translated as "hell" in the KJV is actually Hades, the dwelling place of all departed spirits. For the gates of Hades to not prevail against them could mean that the gates would not be able to stop the church from entering therein. (By comparison, in The Gospel of Nicodemus the "gates" mentioned in Psalm 24 refer to the gates of Hades and the attempt made there to keep out Jesus in the period between his death and resurrection.[44] In other words, Christ’s Church, his disciples, would preach the gospel not only among the living, but also among the dead—not even the gates of Hades could keep them out.

In this context, Jesus gives Peter the sealing power to bind on earth and have it bound in heaven. For Latter-day Saints the word "bind" in Matthew 16:19 is synonymous with "seal." This passage has reference to priesthood authority to perform ordinances or sacraments, such as baptism, echoing the Shepherd of Hermas’ usage of the word "seal."[45] When a baptism (seal) is performed vicariously for the dead by proper priesthood authority, the seal (baptism) is recognized in heaven. Thus, Joseph Smith explained, "there is a way to release the spirit of the dead; that is, by the power and authority of the Priesthood—by binding and loosing on earth."[46]

As extreme as this interpretation may seem, this was not a foreign concept to early Christians. Clement of Alexandria (AD 160-215), among others, believed that the apostles of Christ preached the gospel to the departed spirits in Hades. "And it has been shown also…that the apostles, following the Lord, preached the Gospel to those in Hades. For it was requisite, in my opinion, that as here, so also there, the best of the disciples should be imitators of the master..."[47]

"Prevail" meaning "to keep in"

Another interpretation is that "prevail" has reference to keeping inhabitants inside. In this thought, gates could only prevail against something that is already inside of them and not external to them. This interpretation would be that Christ was saying that His Church would soon be inside the gates of the spirit world alone because of apostasy on earth, but that the Church would later come out from the world of the dead and back to earth—that His Church would shortly be confined to the spirit world, held back by its gates, but that later, members of Christ's Ancient Church (such as Peter, James, and John) would come, by revelation, out from behind the gates of Hades to restore the gospel to the earth.

Both of the above readings are distinct possibilities. Both reconcile all the Biblical data.

"Prevail" meaning "shut up against"

A literal translation of the passage reads as follows:

"You are Peter or a small stone broken from a larger rock and upon the original larger rock I will establish my church and the gates of the world of spirts, or sheol, will not be shut up against my church or overpower the dead saints."[48]

In this context the passage could be Christ teaching that the spirits of the departed will have the chance to hear the gospel. This is supported by Peter's teaching about Christ's ministry to the world of spirits just prior to his resurrection in 2 Peter 3:18-22 through 2 Peter 4:1-6).

Latter-day Saints believe that this sealing power given to Peter is the same power and keys that can seal families on both sides of the veil.

Jesus is also the Rock

It is not just revelation, however, that is key, but the revelation of Christ by God the Father.

The image of a rock is found throughout scripture, and bears directly on Jesus' remark to Peter:

But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit. (Ephesians 2:13-22)

Paul argues that the Church is built on a foundation of, among others, apostles and prophets, who were grounded in Christ as the cornerstone. Thus, Christ is the rock, as are those who receive revelation of Christ (such as the apostles and prophets) and His mission as part of their calling. Significantly, the apostasy resulted in the loss of apostolic authority (unless one accepts the apostolic succession of Rome).

Paul cautioned the Corinthian saints against presuming they could build on anyone or thing besides Christ:

For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building. According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire. Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are. Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness. And again, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain. Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours; Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours; And ye are Christ's; and Christ is God's. (1 Corinthians 3:9-23) (emphasis added)

Paul tells the saints that they are building the Church; but the Church cannot be built on man or men, even great men like Paul, Apollos, or Peter. (Of course, one cannot reject the testimony of the prophets and apostles either. But, relying on a mortal, fallible man alone will not suffice.)

Only Christ is a sufficiently firm basis for faith, practice, and belief. And, Christ cannot be found through the "wisdom of this world," but only through on-going revelation.

Paul noted the use of the same symbol later in the epistle, tying the Christians to covenant Israel:

MOREOVER, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; And did all eat the same spiritual meat; And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ. (1 Corinthians 10:1-4) (emphasis added)

One must ask again, How was Israel guided? By a prophet, who provided knowledge by revelation of the Rock of Israel. This symbol was a common one, of course, for the Israelites:

Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner [stone], a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste. Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet: and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding place. (Isaiah 28:16-17)


Notes

  1. C. Wilfred Griggs, "I Have a Question," Ensign (February 1976), 34.
  2. Tom Standage, A History of the World in 6 Glasses (New York, Walker Publishing Co., 2005), 38, 82, 98-101, 104, 108-109, 135. Note too the positive role played by coffee (made from boiled water, and so more healthy) and tea (also often boiled, and tea itself has anti-microbial properties) in earlier times when urban water sources were often of poor quality (see pp. 135, 179).
  3. This article was originally derived from an answer given in Michael Hickenbotham, Answering Challenging Mormon Questions: Replies to 130 Queries by Friends and Critics of the LDS Church (Horizon Publishers & Distributors, 1995) (now published by Cedar Fort Publisher: Springville, UT, 2004), 104-07. ISBN 0882905368. ISBN 0882907786. ISBN 0882907786. Because of a nature of a wiki project, this base material may have been edited, added to, or modified.
  4. Improvement Era 19/10 (August 1916):940–41 off-site; also quoted in 1990 Melchizedek Priesthood Personal Study Guide, p. 39. See also Talmage, pp. 36–38; Joseph Fielding McConkie and Donald W. Parry, A Guide to Scriptural Symbols, parts 2 & 3).
  5. James E. Talmage, Jesus the Christ (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company, 1983[1915]), 38.
  6. Joseph Smith, Jr., Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, selected by Joseph Fielding Smith, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1976), 371. off-site ; Eugene Seaich, Ancient Texts and Mormonism, p. 20.
  7. Seaich, pp.15–21; see text for complete listing of references.
  8. Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2nd edition, (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966), 130–131. GL direct link
  9. "The Father and the Son: A Doctrinal Exposition of the First Presidency and the Twelve," 30 June 1916. First published in Improvement Era 19/10 (August 1916):934–42 off-site; available more recently in an condensed format in Ensign 32 (April 2002):13–18 off-site.
  10. Strong's Greek Dictionary of the New Testament, p. 35; see entries for "Elah" and "Eloah."
  11. Joseph Smith, Jr., Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, selected by Joseph Fielding Smith, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1976), 345. off-site
  12. Ezra Taft Benson, "Five Marks of the Divinity of Jesus Christ," From a fireside address given at the University of Utah Special Events Center on 9 December 1979.
  13. Brigham Young, "Character of God and Christ, etc.," (8 July 1860) Journal of Discourses 8:115. (See also Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 1:238.; Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 4:218.; Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 11:268..
  14. Ezra Taft Benson, "Joy in Christ," Ensign (March 1986), 3–4. (emphasis added) off-site
  15. Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2nd edition, (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966), 742. GL direct link
  16. Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2nd edition, (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966), 822. GL direct link
  17. Harold B. Lee, Teachings of Harold B. Lee (Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft, 1996), 14. GospeLink (requires subscrip.)
  18. Gordon B. Hinckley, "A Season for Gratitude," Ensign (December 1997), 2. (italics added)
  19. Bruce R. McConkie, "The Purifying Power of Gethsemane," Ensign (May 1995), 9. (italics added)
  20. Preach My Gospel: A Guide to Missionary Service (Intellectual Reserve, 2004), 32. ISBN 0402366174. LDS link (italics added) PDF link
  21. "Atonement of Jesus Christ," in True to the Faith (Intellectual Reserve, 2004), 17. [{{{1}}} LDS link] direct off-site (italics added)
  22. Morris, The Cross in the New Testament, 28, note 30, quoting Newbigin, Sin and Salvation (London: SCM, 1946), 32. As mentioned earlier, Morris is designated by Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson, the authors of Mormonism 101, as a Christian theologian from whom they elicit support.
  23. Leon Morris, New Testament Theology (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing, 1985), 134.
  24. Donald A. Hagner, Matthew 14–28: Word Biblical Commentary, Vol. 33b (Dallas, Texas: Word Books, 1995), 785. Notice that Professor Hagner mentions the 'dread and anguish' which Jesus felt as He looked ahead to His death on the Cross; this is precisely what several of the LDS Church leaders have said.
  25. Ebrard, quoted in John Peter Lange, A Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical, Vol. 1, Matthew, translated by Philip Schaff (New York: Scribner, 1899), 481. No further details are given about this 'Ebrard.' However, it is probable that it could be Johannes Heinrich August Ebrard (1818–1888), who, about 1860, wrote a work translated in English as Apologetics; or the Scientific Vindication of Christianity. He was also the author of a Biblical Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews (1853); and another on the Epistles of St. John (1860). In 1858 was published the American version of his Biblical Commentary on the New Testament.
  26. W. D. Davies, Dale C. Allison, Jr., The International Critical Commentary. A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel according to Saint Matthew. Volume III: Matthew 19–28 (Edinburgh, T and T Clark Publisher 1997): 494, note 27, quoting A.H. McNeile, The Gospel according to St. Matthew. The Greek Text with Introduction and Notes (Grand Rapids 1980): 389. "Magisterial" is a word way overused with reference to others' studies, but it is used with reference to Davies and Allison's commentary by John Jefferson Davis, "'Teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.' The History of the Interpretation of the 'Great Commission' and Implications for Marketplace Ministries," Evangelical Review of Theology 25.1 (2001): 77.
  27. J. Massyngberde /Allen, this name is spelled 'Massyngbearde'; I checked it in the library; I have found her name spelt with and without the last 'a' in online discussions; she apparently has the 'a' in; her name is J. Massyngbearde Ford/Ford, My Enemy is my Guest. Jesus and Violence in Luke (Maryknoll, New York Orbis Books 1984): 118. Dr. Ford is a professor at the University of Notre Dame. She cites A. Feuillet, L'Agonie de Gethsemani (Paris 1977): 147–50.
  28. Oden, The Word of Life, Vol. 2, 323, citing The Prayers of Catherine of Siena (New York: Paulist Press, 1984), 17–18, 174.
  29. B.H. Roberts, The Seventy's Course in Theology, 2:127–128, quoting International Commentary, Matthew, page 359.
  30. David B. Haight, A Light Unto the World (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1997), 16, quoting Frederick W. Farrar, Life of Christ (Hartford, Connecticut: S. S. Scranton Company, 1918), 575–576, 579.
  31. Klaas Runia, "The Preaching of the Cross Today," Evangelical Review of Theology 25:1 (2001), 57.
  32. Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, Vol. 2 (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1953), 534, partially quoted in Lewis Johnson, Jr., "The Agony of Christ," Bibliotheca Sacra 124 (October 1967), 306.
  33. Quoted in Johnson, "The Agony of Christ," 307. Clarke was a Methodist theologian and died in 1832.
  34. Johnson, Ibid., 313.
  35. Morris, The Cross in the New Testament, 217.
  36. Murphy-O'Connor, "Even Death On a Cross," 21-22. H.E.W. Turner wrote 50 years ago that "it still remains true that the monumental genius of St. Paul had little permanent influence on the theology of the early Church." [H.E.W. Turner, The Patristic Doctrine of Redemption. A Study of the Development of Doctrine during the Fist Five Centuries (London: A.R. Mobray, 1952), 24.] After his exhaustive study of 'grace' in the New Testament and the Apostolic Fathers, Thomas Torrance had to conclude that Paul had had almost no influence on them: "The most astonishing feature was the failure to grasp the significance of the death of Christ." He further concludes that "failure to apprehend the meaning of the Cross and to make it a saving article of faith is surely the clearest indication that a genuine doctrine of grace is absent" in the Apostolic Fathers. [Thomas Torrance, The Doctrine of Grace in the Apostolic Fathers (London: Oliver and Boyd, 1948), 137–138.]
  37. David D. Garland, One Hundred Years of Study on the Passion Narratives, National Association of Baptist Professors of Religion Bibliographic Series, Vol. 3 (Macon, Georgia: Mercer University Press, 1989), 73–79. More recent commentaries on the relevant verses add significantly to that total.
  38. Ernst W. Benz, "Imago Dei: Man in the Image of God," in Truman G. Madsen (editor), Reflections on Mormonism: Judaeo-Christian parallels : papers delivered at the Religious Studies Center symposium, Brigham Young University, March 10-11, 1978 (Provo, Utah: Religious Studies Center , Brigham Young University and Bookcraft, 1978), 215–216. ISBN 0884943585. Reprinted in Ernst Benz, "Imago dei: Man as the Image of God," FARMS Review 17/1 (2005): 223–254. off-siteNote: Benz misunderstands some aspects of LDS doctrine, but his sketch of the relevance of theosis for Christianity in general, and Joseph Smith's implementation of it, is worthwhile.
  39. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, "Answering Media Questions About Jesus and Satan," Press release (12 December 2007). off-site
  40. M. Russell Ballard, "Building Bridges of Understanding," Ensign (June 1998), 62. off-site
  41. Lactantius, Divine Institutes 2.9. in Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, eds. The Ante-Nicene Fathers, 10 vols. (1885; reprint, Peabody: Hendrickson, 2004), 7:52–53.
  42. M. Russell Ballard, cited in Priesthood (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1981), 72.
  43. Andrew F. Ehat and Lyndon W. Cook, The Words of Joseph Smith: The Contemporary Accounts of the Nauvoo Discourses of Joseph Smith, 2nd Edition, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1996), 156–158.; Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 volumes, edited by Brigham H. Roberts, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1957), 5:258. Volume 5 link; Joseph Smith, Jr., Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, selected by Joseph Fielding Smith, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1976), 274. off-site
  44. See The Gospel of Nicodemus, Part II, 6 in ANF 8:436-437.
  45. The Pastor of Hermas, ANF 2:49. See also, Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2nd edition, (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966), 615-616. GL direct link and D&C 128:.
  46. Joseph Smith in The Essential Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City: Signature, 1995), 151-152.
  47. Clement of Alexandria, The Stromata, or Miscellanies VI. in ANF, 2:490.
  48. Personal translation taken from Blueletter Bible and BYU Professor Wilf Griggs.