JOEL - I promise you the missionaries are not trying to confuse you. It is because of one of three things;
1. They are trying to avoid getting into an argument with you;
2. They are avoiding talking about more advanced concepts that you might not be able to understand without first having a knowledge of some more basic things;
3. They really don't know the answer to the question.
Remember that these are young men, some coming straight out of high school, without a lot of experience or intense study of the scriptures yet. Before they are sent out they have had a few weeks of training on how to be missionaries and have learned how to teach the basics to people who don't know anything about the Church. Many times some of them are unprepared to explain some of the more complex aspects of the gospel. Their calling is to look for those who have been touched by the spirit and are ready to accept the gospel as it is presented and not to debate or argue about it with anyone. If the answer to any question they give you is not satisfactory, tell them so and they will find out what the answer is and will come back and report to you what they have found out. But they usually try to avoid getting into unproductive debates with people. Their job is to teach and testify.
I completely agree with the statement you have made about Christ. You will have to be more specific about what the contradiction is so I can give you my thoughts on it. As far as we are concerned, in our universe, Jesus Christ has always been God, is God, and always will be God. He has however, gone through some changes through time. Before He was born to this earth He existed first as an intellegence in the eternal past, destined to become our God. Then as a spiritual being without flesh and bone as a spirit child of His Father, but still a God. He created the heavens and the earth. He was the God of the Old Testament. He came to earth and obtained a body, brought us His gospel, suffered for our sins, and died and was ressurected with a body of flesh and bones as His Father has. He is now our God and will always will be.
You mentioned the scriptures in John. John 1:1 says:
"IN the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."
You say scriptures like these tell us "that Christ is eternal and a member of the trinity from eternity past until eternity future." If that is so then how can there be a "beginning" as explained in John 1:1? The question is, the beginning of what? Those scriptures do go on to talk about the creation of things. So perhaps it is talking about the beginning of our universe. If it is, and Jesus is eternal, then what was Jesus before that beginning?
I do know that God imparts to us information about His nature and more understanding about eternal life when He believes we are ready to accept and comprehend it. What He told people in Bible or Book of Mormon times may not have been as extensive or as complete as what He has told us through His prophets today. Hence the seeming contradictions between Joseph Smith and some Bible and Book of Mormon scriptures.
As Paul explained:
"I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able [to bear it], neither yet now are ye able." (1 Cor. 3:2)
And in John 16:12 Jesus said this to His apostles, "I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now." Jesus had something important to tell his apostles but they were not yet ready to receive it.
They and the other followers of Jesus were not yet able to comprehend advanced concepts, such as the true nature of the Godhead, so they were taught the basics and were held accountable to living according to what they were taught at that time.
A scripture in The Book of Mormon says,
"For behold, thus saith the Lord God: I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom; for unto him that receiveth I will give more; and from them that shall say, We have enough, from them shall be taken away even that which they have." (2 Nephi 28:30)
As we continue to "hearken unto His precepts" He will continue to reveal more of His mysteries to us through His prophets, so we can better understand who God is, why we are here, and what we should become.
Consider what Jesus said to His disciples:
"And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables?
He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.
For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath."
We will probably never know nor comprehend everything in this life about the nature of God. You say we talk around the truth instead of addressing it. Some people are too proud to admit they don't know all the answers. But not everyone in our church is like that.
Sometimes we just don't know the answers to all your questions. I still have questions of my own I am working on. There are many things we have to accept on faith without completely understanding. This is what I keep trying to tell my teenage daughter, without much success. That is why it is important to first believe in and receive a testimony of the fact that Joseph Smith was a prophet, and did in fact talk to God, and that our prophets of today are also inspired and are directed by God. Without that as a foundation it is very hard to accept anything else.
BECKY - Thank you for your very considerate reply.
I guess what I was specifically referring to was that you stated Jesus was not fully God, and that somehow he "needed" something more to be "more" God.
The understanding I have of Jesus learning things through what he suffered, growing in grace etc. have to do with the fact that he was fully human and had to, on that level, experience what all humans do regarding suffering and learning. However, he also was fully God (not fully "a" God, but fully God). He was fully God, or Heavenly Father in the person of the Son, needing not to go through this for his own exaltation or progression, but came to save us because of our fallen and hopeless state (indeed in need of a Savior who could not be in the process of becoming God, but in order to truly take away our sins must be complete without a process of "becoming" anything other than what he always was). If Christ was God before the world began as you stated, why would he ever have to prove anything more to become more of God... that logic does not make sense to me.
As you can tell, I have emphasized the simple disagreement that I believe is at the root of all of this. Very plainly... I believe Jesus was, is, and always will be God, One nature, three persons, and you believe he was, is, and always will be "a" God. Do you believe he is the same substance as God, or "Heavenly Father"? That is probably where the real question is.
JOEL - In my explanation I did not mean to suggest that Jesus was lacking in anything in order to be God. Or that there was something more He needed to do to become God. I did not mean to say that He was not "fully" God. I was only explaining that the scripture in question did not say that He was "fully" God. I did say that He lacked a body of the same type as His Father, but I did not mean to imply that He was any less of a God because of that. Either He is God or He is not God. We believe that God the Father has a body of flesh and bone and that Jesus did not have a body of flesh and bone so that He could come down to this earth, experience mortality, suffer for our sins, and begin the resurrection. This was all in the plan from the beginning. We needed Him to do this otherwise we would never be able to return home to our Heavenly Father. I don't think I ever said that Jesus had to prove anything to become "more" God. If you can find where it is I said that let me know and I will correct it.
Sometimes it's hard to communicate with people of other faiths because each of us has been raised on our own unique interpretations of certain words, phrases, and scriptures that mean something different to someone else. Even the way you interpret my response to certain questions may not be the way I meant it to be understood.
We also believe that God the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Ghost are three separate beings. Each one is a God and the three of them together are also called "God". This might not be a good analogy but the word "deer" can mean one animal or it can also mean a group of animals. The word "God" can also be singular or plural. It depends on the context in which it is used. This is the source of some of the confusion when comparing some scriptures.
The LDS church believes God the Father and Jesus to be separate beings because of the fact that Joseph Smith saw them in a vision as two separate individuals. Bible scriptures would suggest this as well. Was Jesus praying to Himself in the Garden of Gethsemene?(Mark 14:32-39) Was He talking to Himself on the cross?(Mat. 27:46) How could Stephen see Jesus standing on the right hand of God if they were one being?(Acts 7:55-56) When Jesus was baptized on earth, someone's voice from heaven said, "This is my beloved Son..." and the Holy Ghost was separately manifested by the sign of the dove.(Luke 3:21-22)
Jesus is made out of the same kind of substance that God the Father is (resurrected immortal body of flesh, bone, and spirit), but they are two separate individuals. The Holy Ghost is a third individual of spirit only.
But as I said before we don't profess to have all the answers about the exact nature of God. We are still learning and perhaps someday we will all find out a lot more about Him when He feels we are ready. Perhaps in the meantime we should concentrate more on who we are and on what God wants us to do and become.
Return to top