Saturday, December 12, 2009

Ministering to Mormons: The Burning Bosom

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and its missionaries instruct potential converts to rely heavily upon feelings in order to come to belief in its teachings, and they apply pressure to those who don't experience those feelings. Upon praying to God, they claim, the Holy Spirit will confirm that their message is true through a warm feeling. If after some time the one being witnessed to does not receive the warm feeling indicating that LDS doctrine is true, he is told perhaps he is unstable, doubting or lacking in genuineness of intent.

HOW CAN I KNOW THIS IS TRUE?

After explaining the basics of Latter Day Saint doctrine, before leaving the Christian's home the mormon missionary will encourage him to pray and ask that God would reveal the truth of what the missionary has communicated. Latter Day Saint doctrine teaches that this is the principal and proper way to test that what they teach is true. At their public online presence, visitors asking "How can I know this is true?" read the following:

Your Heavenly Father is the source of all truth. He loves you and wants to answer your questions. Therefore, He will help you recognize the truth as you sincerely seek it and ask Him for guidance. You can know if the things you are learning are true if you ask your Heavenly Father in prayer. He desires for you to know the truth, and you can receive an answer from Him through the Holy Ghost.

How does the Father confirm the truth of LDS doctrine in response to the seeker's prayer? In what manner will God communicate this answer? The article continues:

As taught in the Bible, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, [and] temperance” (Galatians 5:22–23). These feelings from the Holy Ghost are personal revelation to you that the restored gospel of Jesus Christ is true...Feelings from the Holy Ghost are personal revelation to you that confirm the truth of the Book of Mormon and the gospel of Jesus Christ as restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith.

Latter Day Saints find this doctrine not primarily in the Bible, but in two other works they consider authoritative scripture. First, as explained at the end of the article, the Book of Mormon teaches this method of testing the LDS truth claims:

The last prophet of the Book of Mormon, a man named Moroni, gave this remarkable promise to anyone who wants to know whether the Book of Mormon is true: “And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost” ( Moroni 10:4).

Second, one of Joseph Smith's revelations from God as recorded in his Doctrine & Covenants instructed a man to use this test for confirming that what he was writing for Smith was correct:

But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right. (Doctrine and Covenants 9:8)

IT WASN'T ANYTHING THAT WAS LOGICAL

The emphasis on a feeling in response to prayer as the primary test of Mormonism's truth is palpable, but at this point the surface has only just been scratched. Not only ought the potential convert to pray to receive this burning of the bosom, but this feeling should be considered to the exclusion of all else. Logic, research, science, archaeology, even the Bible--all of these alternative ways of testing truth claims are to be ignored; only this feeling in response to prayer truly matters.

In one of the videos linked to in the article above, a woman describes how she came to believe in the truth of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints:

It was not a decision I made with my head. It wasn't... That was what was so odd about it, was that I was raised in Academia. Everything made sense. I studied. I was a math brain, a science brain... Everything had to make sense, and this was the first time in my life that I was making the biggest decision I have ever made based on something that I didn't feel that I could or had to prove on paper. I knew that God told me this was true. I knew that I had read the Book of Mormon and that I had prayed, and that I had done everything the missionaries told me to do...I couldn't prove it, I didn't... I didn't have any proof and so it wasn't, it wasn't anything that was logical. To ask me what I was thinking, I wasn't thinking. I was feeling. And I hadn't ever really been in touch with my emotions before, and didn't realize how much more powerful that would be. (http://mormon.org/mormonorg/eng/videos/decision-by-faith-jennifer)

The woman's testimony, and its presentation by the LDS Church as being the kind of conversion the seeker should expect--nay, even desire--illustrates LDS doctrine well. Mormonism emphasizes emotions, experiences and feelings, and urges the ignoring of anything else that might contradict its claims. As she put it, "I wasn't thinking. I was feeling."

A SINCERE HEART, WITH REAL INTENT, HAVING FAITH IN CHRIST

If the Latter Day Saints' emphasis on feelings, to the exclusion of all else, weren't enough, it goes still further. If after some time of praying to be shown whether LDS teachings are true one does not receive this "burning of the bosom," it will not be because Mormonism is to be doubted. Instead, blame will be placed squarely on the shoulders of the one doing the praying. Consider the passage from the Book of Mormon pointed to by the article above:

I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost. (Moroni 10:4)

Note that one must not only pray, but one must do so "with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ." If one does not receive the promised warm feelings, it becomes all too easy to simply claim that the prayer was made with a lack of sincerity, without genuine intent, or without faith in Christ. It is this subtle pressure that is perhaps the most disturbing aspect to this LDS teaching. If conversion doesn't come about as a result of answered prayer, it can still be coerced through convincing the potential convert that his prayer was somehow deficient, lacking. It's his fault, not the fault of the god of Mormonism.

So what is the Christian to make of this doctrine?

THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT

As quoted above, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints points to Paul's letter to the Galatians in support of this "feeling not thinking" teaching. Paul's words read, "the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control." The Saints' leaders claim, "these feelings from the Holy Ghost are personal revelation to you that the restored gospel of Jesus Christ is true." In so doing, they demonstrate that they are false teachers and prophets, unable to rightly interpret and teach scripture. For here is the verse in its context:

The whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, "YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF." But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another. But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. (Galatians 5:14-25)

Paul is writing to the Galatians contrasting deeds, not feelings. The "fruit of the Spirit" is contrasted with "the deeds of the flesh", and thus "fruit" is analogy to works, to actions. And lest the mormon claim that to "walk by the Spirit" means to rely upon feelings and emotion in an effort to walk with God, the context of this passage makes it clear that to "walk by the Spirit" means to behave in accordance with the Spirit, rather than the flesh.

IF ANY OF YOU LACKS WISDOM, LET HIM ASK OF GOD

The founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Joseph Smith, claimed that as a seeking teenager in the midst of religious confusion he stumbled upon a passage in scripture that practically leapt from the pages of the Bible and spoke to him personally:

I was one day reading the Epistle of James, first chapter and fifth verse, which reads: If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. Never did any passage of scripture come with more power to the heart of man than this did at this time to mine. It seemed to enter with great force into every feeling of my heart. I reflected on it again and again, knowing that if any person needed wisdom from God, I did; for how to act I did not know, and unless I could get more wisdom than I then had, I would never know; for the teachers of religion of the different sects understood the same passages of scripture so differently as to destroy all confidence in settling the question by an appeal to the Bible. (Joseph Smith--History 1:10-12, http://scriptures.lds.org/en/js_h/1/)

This realization led Joseph Smith, he claims, to pray for the first time in his life, and mormons will point Christians to this passage as evidence that above all else they should pray to be shown that what the LDS Church teaches is true. However, in doing so they demonstrate yet another case in which the prophets and leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints misinterpret scripture.

In context, James' words have nothing to do whatsoever with asking God to show the Christian truth or meaning. James is writing to Christians encouraging them to find joy in the testing of their faith through temptations:

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. (James 1:2-5)

The sort of wisdom for which James instructs Christians to pray is that which provides strength and courage in the midst of trials. "Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him" (James 1:12). This wisdom reminds he who is facing temptation that "God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust" (James 1:13-14). It urges those being tested to "prove [themselves] doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves" (James 1:22).

EXAMINING THE SCRIPTURES DAILY TO SEE WHETHER THESE THINGS WERE SO

So if the mormons are wrong, and if these passages don't instruct us to pray to ask God to show us the truth of their claims, what should we do? How should we verify that what they tell us is true? A look at the travels of Paul and Silas give us the answer:

The brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so. Therefore many of them believed, along with a number of prominent Greek women and men. (Acts 17:10-12)

Why did the Bereans come to believe what Paul and Silas were telling them? Did they pray to receive a burning in their bosom confirming the reality of Paul's and Silas' teachings? No. Instead, though they "received the word with great eagerness," they tested what they were told by "examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so."
 
Were the Bereans spoken of negatively for using this approach? Is it implied that the test they applied is somehow inferior to praying and responding to emotions? No. Instead, the Bereans are said to have been "more noble-mnded than those in Thessalonica." They are lauded for their approach, applauded.

THE HEART IS MORE DECEITFUL THAN ALL ELSE

Why does God demand that we look to His word to test teachings presented to us? Why shouldn't we pray and respond to the burning we feel in our bosom? Because, "the heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick" (Jeremiah 17:9). From birth we are all "by nature children of wrath," "indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind" (Ephesians 2:3). And upon being born again as a result of faith, we do not lose this body of sin but will instead struggle with it for the rest of our lives:

I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. (Romans 7:21-23)

Our hearts, our flesh, whether born again or not, love sin. It is for this very reason that we must not trust our emotions, but must instead test them and what we're told by something else, by some objective, unwavering standard. This standard is the Bible, for while "The grass withers, the flower fades, ...the word of our God stands forever" (Isaiah 40:8). As Jesus said, "until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished" (Matthew 5:18). God doesn't change, and neither does His word, and we must test the words of others with those of God to make sure they're true, rejecting what contradicts.
 
ALL SCRIPTURE IS GOD-BREATHED
 
In his letter to Timothy, Paul wrote that "all Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness" (2 Timothy 3:16). The Greek word translated "inspired by God" is theopneustos which comes from the root word theos, meaning God, and pneƍ, meaning to breathe. Literally, then, "inspired by God" means "God-breathed".
 
The Bible is not just the words of men, nor were men merely "inspired" to write its contents. Instead, the original words of scripture were breathed out by God through the pens of men. They are perfect, trustworthy and unchanging. We mustn't trust a warm feeling in our chest in testing truth because our hearts wish to deceive us. Fortunately we can turn to the original words of scripture and what we know are faithful translations of them, and in so doing we see that the prophets and leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints are false ones and we mustn't trust our faith to them.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Wrestling With the Watch Tower: Jesus, the Only-Begotten Son

Upon refuting the argument that Jesus' having been called "the firstborn of all creation" means He was the first being God created (Wrestling With the Watch Tower: Jesus, the Only-Begotten Son), the Christian may be asked by the Jehovah's Witness at the door to turn to John 3:16 which reads, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son..." The argument continues in the Watch Tower publication, "What Does the Bible Really Teach?" in the chapter, "Who is Jesus Christ?" in the section, "Where Did Jesus Come From?":

There is something else that makes this Son special. He is the “only-begotten Son.” (John 3:16) This means that Jesus is the only one directly created by God. (http://www.watchtower.org/e/bh/article_04.htm)

The word "begotten" comes from the word "beget" which means "to procreate or generate". The Jehovah's Witness, then, would argue from this passage that while Jesus created everything else, He himself was created by the Father, and thus is not eternal nor equal with God.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Ministering to Mormons: The Stick of Ephraim

Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS) are commonly known as "mormons". Its founder, Joseph Smith, began his church claiming he was led to discover and translate ancient golden plates which contain a record of North American history written by a prophet named Mormon (http://scriptures.lds.org/en/gs/b/35). This "Book of Mormon" is one of four collections recognized by mormons as scripture, including also the Bible, the Pearl of Great Price and the Doctrine and Covenants. The more peculiar LDS beliefs do not typically find their foundation in the Book of Mormon. However, mormons point to its discovery and translation by Joseph Smith as evidence of his authority as a prophet, claiming it to be a fulfillment of prophecy contained within the pages of the Bible itself.

THE STICK OF EPHRAIM

The LDS missionary at the Christian's door will point to the writings of Ezekiel as evidence that the Book of Mormon is a fulfillment of biblical prophecy and is as authoritative as the Bible. The following is stated in the LDS "Bible Dictionary", under the topic "Ephraim, Stick of":

A prophetic reference to the Book of Mormon as a record of one portion of the tribe of Ephraim that was led from Jerusalem to America about 600 B.C. When joined with the stick of Judah (the Bible), the two records form a unified, complementary testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ, his resurrection from the grave, and his divine work among these two segments of the house of Israel. (http://scriptures.lds.org/en/bd/e/65)

The "stick of Ephraim" comes from the prophecies of Ezekiel. Here is the passage the missionary will claim foretold the coming of the Book of Mormon:

The word of the LORD came again to me saying, "And you, son of man, take for yourself one stick and write on it, 'For Judah and for the sons of Israel, his companions'; then take another stick and write on it, 'For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim and all the house of Israel, his companions.' Then join them for yourself one to another into one stick, that they may become one in your hand. When the sons of your people speak to you saying, 'Will you not declare to us what you mean by these?' say to them, 'Thus says the Lord GOD, "Behold, I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel, his companions; and I will put them with it, with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they will be one in My hand."' (Ezekiel 37:15-19)

The LDS argument is that a "stick" as it is used here is the rod around which a scroll is wrapped, and that this passage foretells the future combining of the Book of Mormon--the "stick of Ephraim"--and the Bible--the "stick of Judah"--as one more complete testimony to Jesus Christ. To Christians unfamiliar with this argument, it may seem somewhat convincing. However, just a bit of research demonstrates that this is not at all what this passage teaches, and if the LDS prophets are wrong about this passage, they invalidate themselves as prophets and the entire mormon religion.

SILLY RABBIT, "EIGHTS" IS FOR TREES

The Hebrew word Ezekiel used in this passage which is rendered "stick" is 'ets, pronounced "eights". The word is defined as "tree, wood, timber, stock, plank, stalk, stick, gallows" (http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H6086&t=KJV). It appears some 328 times in the Old Testament, most often as "tree" or "trees" or "wood", and a few other places as "branch", "staff", and so forth. Never is it used to refer to a scroll, book, paper or anything of the sort.

More devastating to the LDS argument is the fact that Ezekiel tells us exactly what this prophecy foretold:

When the sons of your people speak to you saying, "Will you not declare to us what you mean by these?" say to them, "Thus says the Lord GOD, 'Behold, I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel, his companions; and I will put them with it, with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they will be one in My hand.'" The sticks on which you write will be in your hand before their eyes. Say to them, "Thus says the Lord GOD, 'Behold, I will take the sons of Israel from among the nations where they have gone, and I will gather them from every side and bring them into their own land; and I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel; and one king will be king for all of them; and they will no longer be two nations and no longer be divided into two kingdoms. (Ezekiel 37:18-22)

Unlike many prophetic symbols recorded in scripture which are not explained in advance, the explanation of this prophetic symbolism is given right here in this very passage. For some time the nation of Israel had been divided into two kingdoms: the northern kingdom of Israel, and the southern kingdom of Judah. God here tells Ezekiel that when his people ask him to explain the meaning of the sticks, he should tell them that it symbolizes the people of the northern kingdom--represented by the stick of Joseph or the stick of Ephraim--being united with the southern kingdom of Judah--represented by the stick of Judah. When the sticks would become one in Ezekiel's hand it would indicate that God would one day "make them one nation in the land," "and they will no longer be two nations and no longer be divided into two kingdoms."

TEST THE SPIRITS BECAUSE MANY FALSE PROPHETS HAVE GONE OUT INTO THE WORLD
(1 John 4:1)

The mormon missionary at the Christian's door will instruct him or her pray to God to be shown the truth about the Book of Mormon, claiming that a "burning of the bosom" will indicate that the missionary's message is trustworthy. But the Bible teaches us that "the heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick" (Jeremiah 17:9). Therefore, any such "burning of the bosom" cannot be trusted.

Instead, we're called to test that what we're told lines up with the Truth of the Bible. The prophets of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints have taught for decades that Ezekiel's prophecy foretold something that it didn't in fact foretell. LDS leaders, thus, are and have always been false prophets, misleading their flock. Christians must hold fast to what is true and reject the false doctrines of the mormon religion, which falls like a house of cards with its false prophets.

ZEAL FOR GOD BUT NOT IN ACCORDANCE WITH KNOWLEDGE
(Romans 10:2)

However, Christians must love and pray for the average mormon who is a victim who's fallen prey to the false prophets of mormonism. Christians such as myself who have friends, family and coworkers who are mormons can "testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge" (Romans 10:2). But God desires "true worshipers [who] will worship the Father in spirit and truth" (John 4:23). Let us pray that God will open their hearts and minds to the truth of His Word, and that the grip of the LDS false prophets would loosen.

Wrestling With the Watch Tower: Jesus, the Firstborn of All Creation

The Jehovah's Witness at the Christian's door, if pressed to defend the position that Jesus is not God but is instead His first creation, might start with Colossians 1:15 which reads, "[Jesus] is...the firstborn of all creation" (in certain translations including the NASB and Watch Tower-approved NWT). The argument is presented in the Watch Tower publication, "What Does the Bible Really Teach?" in the chapter, "Who is Jesus Christ?" in the section, "Where Did Jesus Come From?" (http://www.watchtower.org/e/bh/article_04.htm):

Jesus is Jehovah’s most precious Son—and for good reason. He is called “the firstborn of all creation,” for he was God’s first creation. (Colossians 1:15)

The dictionary defines "firstborn" as, "first in the order of birth; eldest" or "a first result or product." The Watch Tower's argument, then, is that in saying that Jesus is "the firstborn of all creation" Paul is asserting that of everything God created, Jesus was the first. Obviously, if Jesus was created by God, He is not God Himself, and does not have an eternal nature but instead came into existence when the Father created him.

But is this in fact what this passage in Colossians teaches?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Wrestling With the Watch Tower: Where Did Jesus Come From? An Introduction


Jehovah's Witnesses believe that the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania is God's mouthpiece and theocratic representative on earth. The Watch Tower demands that faithful Witnesses subscribe to a variety of peculiar beliefs. Arguably most egregious of these is the Watch Tower's teaching that Jesus is not God, contradicting what the historic Christian faith has always taught, but is instead God's first created being through whom He spoke into existence the rest of all creation.

Since mainstream Christianity has always taught that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is in fact God Himself in human flesh, this can come as somewhat of a surprise to many Christians unfamiliar with the peculiarities of Jehovah's Witness' beliefs. When a faithful Jehovah's Witness presents the Watch Tower's case to the typical Christian, at first the claim is often easily shrugged off as bizarre. However, to those Christians having a weak understanding of why the Church has always taught that Jesus is God, the Jehovah's Witness' argument can quickly begin to appear quite convincing.

This is an introduction to a series of blog entries I will post intended to equip the Christian to defend the historic Christian position that Jesus is God, as the Bible clearly teaches. My sincere hope is that my friends and family who follow this blog—if such people actually exist J—will be able to lovingly but convincingly respond to the Jehovah's Witness at the door when he or she argues that Jesus is not God. In so doing, you may be able to "with gentleness [correct] those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of truth" (2 Timothy 2:25). More importantly, however, you can be certain that in believing Jesus to be God, you worship God "in spirit and truth" as He demands (John 4:24).

Look for an upcoming post entitled, "Wrestling With the Watch Tower: Jesus, the Firstborn of All Creation" for the first entry in this series. Also, you can click the labels "Watch Tower" and "Jehovah's Witnesses" under any post to see all of my posts that refute Watch Tower and Jehovah's Witnesses' teachings.

Jesus: Jehovah, the LORD of the Old Testament

This, my first theology and apologetics blog post, is addressed to those of you whose pastors, preachers or priests teach you that Jesus is someone other than whom He really is. This is not an attack leveled against you out of pride, but rather a gentle correcting out of love for you in the hopes that "God may grant [you] repentance leading to the knowledge of truth, and [you] may come to [your] senses and escape from the snare of the devil" (2 Timothy 2:25-26).

I am charged to "preach the word; [to] be ready in season and out of season; [to] reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance with their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths" (2 Timothy 4:2-4).

I appeal only to "the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work" (2 Timothy 3:15-17).

WHO DO PEOPLE SAY THAT I AM?
(Mark 8:27)

So, what do your pastors, preachers or priests teach concerning the nature and identity of Jesus? If you believe God's mouthpiece on earth is the Watch Tower, they teach you that "God's name is Jehovah" but that "Chris is...inferior to Him" and "was first of God's creations" (http://www.watchtower.org/e/jt/article_03.htm).

On the other hand, if you are a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, they teach you that "generally the Father, or Elohim...is referred to by the title God" but that the "God known as Jehovah is the Son, Jesus Christ" (http://scriptures.lds.org/en/gs/g/22).

So if you are a Jehovah's Witness, you are told to believe that Jesus is not Jehovah, the God of the Old Testament, but is instead His first created being. And if you are a Mormon, you are instructed to believe that the Jehovah and Elohim referred to in the Old Testament are two separate gods, albeit "one in perfect unity and harmony of purpose and doctrine."

EXAMINING THE SCRIPTURES TO SEE WHETHER THESE THINGS WERE SO
(Acts 17:11)

Out of sincere love for you I ask you to look not to man--including myself--for a proper understanding of the nature and identity of Christ, but rather to what God has revealed in His Word. Look with me at the first chapter of Hebrews, verses 10 through 13. Both Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons recognize the Old and New Testaments as being authoritative, at least to some extent, and to my knowledge neither claim that these verses, nor those from the Old Testament which the author is quoting, have been incorrectly translated or have changed since their original writing. Thus, these words should have some sway with you.

First, recognize that what the author is doing is asserting that Jesus is distinct from, and superior to, angels. As proof, he presents passages from the Old Testament as having been spoken by the Father to and about the Son, and rhetorically asks us, "to which of the angels did [God] ever say," and "to which of the angels has He ever said," these things? The answer implicit in the questions is: none of them.

YOU, JEHOVAH, LAID THE FOUNDATION OF THE EARTH
(Hebrews 1:10-12 and Psalm 102:25-27)

Therefore, in verse 10 the author of Hebrews, in quoting Psalm 102, teaches us that it was not just a song written by a man to his God, but in fact was the Father speaking to the Son, Jesus Christ. So, when the psalmist wrote the lyrics, "Of old You founded the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands" (Psalm 102:25), he was also recording the very words of God the Father speaking to His Son. But to whom was this psalm addressed?

The very first verse gives us the answer: "Hear my prayer, O LORD!" When Bible translations render the word "lord" in all-caps, as the NASB does here, it indicates that the original Hebrew uses the word Jehovah, or Yahweh, the Tetragrammaton (much could be said, and if you would like further explanation don't hesitate to ask). In verse 12 again the psalmist writes, "You, O LORD, abide forever." In verse 15 he begins to refer to Jehovah in the third person saying, "the nations will fear the name of the LORD", but he continues to direct the words toward Jehovah personally, saying, "and all the kings of the earth Your glory." Thus, in verse 25 when he writes, "Of old You founded the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands," the words continue to be directed toward Jehovah.

The author of Hebrews therefore instructs us that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is Jehovah to whom the psalmist sang the lyrics of Psalm 102.

SIT AT MY RIGHT HAND, UNTIL I MAKE YOUR ENEMIES A FOOTSTOOL
(Hebrews 1:13 and Psalm 110:1)

However, the author of Hebrews goes on to quote verse 1 of Psalm 110, implying that God the Father said to the Son, Jesus Christ, "Sit at My right hand, until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet." In this case, the question is not to whom were these words addressed in the psalm quoted. Instead, the question is, who is doing the speaking?

Once again, the answer is found in the very first verse: "The LORD says to my Lord: 'Sit at My right hand until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.'" We see, again, the word "lord" capitalized, meaning that the original text contained the name Jehovah. And the psalm tells us that it is this Jehovah who is speaking to another party.

So the author of Hebrews teaches us that God the Father is the Jehovah of the Old Testament.

IN THE BEGINNING THE WORD WAS WITH GOD AND THE WORD WAS GOD
(John 1:1)

When the Watch Tower demands that faithful Jehovah's Witnesses believe Jesus to be separate from Jehovah, God the Father, they are teaching falsely. The author of Hebrews makes it very clear that the Father was speaking to Jehovah when He said to Jesus, "You, LORD, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth." Thus, Jesus is Jehovah.

And when the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints demands that faithful Mormons believe the Father is not Jehovah, they are teaching falsely. The author of Hebrews makes it very clear that Jehovah was speaking to the Son when He said to Jesus, "'Sit at My right hand until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet." Thus, the Father is Jehovah.

This is why the apostle John wrote, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God" ("the Word" referring to Jesus Christ, the Son). Jehovah, the God of the Old Testament, is both God the Father and God the Son, and yet the two are distinct from one another and interpersonally relate to one another. Jesus was both "with God" and "was God" at the same time.

If you hold the teachings of either of these organizations in esteem, or those of any other organization that teaches falsely as to the nature of God and Jesus Christ, please consider the words of Hebrews carefully and prayerfully. They demonstrate that you are being led into error, and Jesus says "those who worship [God] must worship in spirit and truth" (John 4:24).

And please believe me when I say again that my words are not a condemnation nor an attack, but rather an attempt to "with gentleness [correct] those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of truth" (2 Timothy 2:25), and to "exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict" (Titus 1:9).

WE WORSHIP ONE GOD IN TRINITY, AND TRINITY IN UNITY
(Athanasian Creed)

The historic teaching of the Trinity, albeit impossible to fully comprehend, is in fact what we are commanded by scripture to believe about the nature of God:

1. There is one and only one God
2. The Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God
3. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are eternally distinct and interpersonally relate to one another

As said in the Athansian Creed, "We worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity."