Last month, I, Edward Dalcour, president/apologist of DCD, formally debated Muslim apologist Sadig Abdul Malyk, which was held at Foothill Bible Christian Church in Upland, CA.

The thesis of the debate was the deity of Jesus Christ. Being familiar with the method to which Muslim apologists defend Islamic teachings, in my opening statements I described how Mr. Malyk would handle the biblical affirmations and evidence regarding the deity of Christ. I stated that I did not expect Mr. Malyk to 1) exegetically interact with any of the passages submitted for his examination, 2) adequately respond to the unambiguous claims of deity made by Christ Himself (esp. John 5:17ff.; John 10:30; the “Alpha and Omega” claims; and the absolute “I Am” [egō eimi] declarations found in John 8:24, 28; 58; 13:19; 18:5, 6, and v. 8), and 3) I did not expect Mr. Malyk to respond to the heated reaction of the Jews when Jesus made these claims: They wanted to kill Him for blasphemy!

I also stated in my opening that due to Mr. Malyk’s denial of the deity of Christ as a Muslim, I did expect him to 1) appeal to liberal scholars such as Bart Ehrman who not only denies the reliability of the NT and thus denies divine revelation all together, but calls himself a “happy agnostic.” Ehrman, as I pointed out, would certainly see the Koran as a ridiculous piece of work, 2) deny all the passages that affirm the deity of Christ asserting that the passages in the Gospels that allegedly assert the deity of Christ and/or Jesus’ claims of deity, were either not the original work of the biblical authors (esp. John) or an incorrect interpretation. And further assert that the Apostle Paul cannot be trusted. Paul, as Muslims claim, did not accurately represent the teachings of Christ, and 3) ignore and/or evade specific passages that present the deity of Christ. In the end, as I predicted, Mr. Malyk did exactly that!

The arguments of unitarians (i.e., groups that assert a unipersonal God—namely, God as one Person) are basically the same. Assuming that “one God” means “one Person” causes unitarian groups such as the Muslims, JWs, Oneness Pentecostals, etc., to reject the idea that the Son, Jesus Christ is also God. In their mindset, that idea violates monotheism. But as biblically stated, the very foundation of the Trinity is monotheism:

One eternal God revealed in three coequal, coeternal, coexistent, distinct Persons (not 3 Gods). For it must be pointed out here: there is a distinction between “being” and “person.” “Being” is what something is, “person” is who something is. Thus, maintaining a continued awareness of this distinction is greatly efficacious in accurately communicating the doctrine of the Trinity—one Being revealed in three Persons.

Passages Muslims & JWs use to Deny that Jesus is God

The passages used by Mr. Malyk in the debate and by most JWs to deny the deity of Christ are as follows: Mark 13:32 (where seemingly the Son is ignorant of His return); John 14:28 (where Jesus says that the Father is “greater” than the Son); Matthew 16:28 (where Muslims make the absurd claim that Jesus made a false prophecy); and Matthew 27:46 and John 20:17 (where Jesus addresses the Father as His God).

Before dealing with these passages, it must be remembered that the deity of Christ is exegetically presented in virtually every NT book[1] (e.g., Matt. 12:6; John 1:1-3, 18; 8:24, 58;10:30; Rom. 9:5; 1 Cor. 2:8; Phil. 2:6; Col. 1:16-17; 2:9; Titus 2:13). So, to put implicit biblical passages against explicit passages reveals a serious flaw in one’s hermeneutic. Furthermore, these passages that Muslims and JWs use to deny the deity of Christ actually prove the converse—they affirm the deity of Christ!

Mark 13:32: “But of that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone” (same with the response to Mark 10:18)

If one is going to use Mark 13:32 (or 10:18) to argue that the ignorance of the Son- shows that the Son cannot be God; to stay consistent one must use the entirety of chapter 13 and not omit verse 32 from its context. In short, the entire context of the chapter is future events from the time of which the author is writing. However, in spite of the various eschatological views proposed these days, it seems that in verse 32 (in light of Matt. 24:36), Jesus is speaking of His final Eschaton (return).

Note first, verse 27, where we read that the Son “will send forth the angels, and will gather together His elect from the four winds, from the farthest end of the earth to the farthest end of heaven.” Here the Son is said to “send forth the angels” and they will gather His elect. Does Mohammad (or Michael the archangel, as JWs believe Jesus to be) have angels that obey him? Does Mohammad have an elect? For only Yahweh has an elect class (cf. Rom. 8:33; 1 Pet. 1:1). So thus far, the full deity of the Son is clearly presented in chapter 13. So whatever Jesus actually meant in verse 32, it cannot be in objection to verse 27.

Now, let’s deal with verse 32. First, Philippians 2:7 says Christ emptied (kenoō) Himself. But how did He empty Himself? By taking the NATURE (morphē) of a slave, being made in the likeness of men. . . .” Then in verse 8, we read that the Son humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death—even death on a cross! Thus, Jesus Christ voluntarily veiled some of His divine prerogatives, without divesting any deity.[2]

So any knowledge that the Son did not apparently have, must be seen within the context of His incarnation, thus, His emptying and humbling—He was not only God, He was God-man. Muslims and JWs confuse and deny all aspects of His incarnation and merely go to passages which denote His humanity. If the incarnation and humiliation of Christ is misrepresented and/or distorted, then, one will be hopelessly confused, and keep asking questions, such as, “If Jesus was God, why didn’t He know the day or hour of His return?, “How can He die?” “Why didn’t He know who touched Him”; and on and on it goes.

Secondly, and a key point, notice the ascending ontological (in nature) order in verse 32: “But of that day or hour”:

1) “No one knows.” Thus, no “man” knows. Thus, the first category of being is man.

2) “Not even the angels in heaven.” The next category is angels, which is a higher category of being than that of man.

3) “Nor the Son, but the Father alone.” What being is higher than angels? God. So, the ascending order: man> angels> Son shows that the Son, as God, is in a higher category than that of man and angels—hence clearly affirming the deity of the Son.

John 14:28: “The Father is greater than I.”

Just as Mark 13 actually proves the deity of Christ, John 14 likewise proves the same. First in verse 6, Jesus says that He is the Way, and the Truth, and the Life and no one can come to the Father except through Him. Neither Mohammad nor Michael the archangel, nor any mere man or angel can make such a claim. Then in verse 14, Jesus says that “If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.”

Prayer is to God alone, but the Son instructs His disciples to pray to Him. And in verse 23, Jesus says, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.” What does this passage reveal about the Son? It indicates that Jesus is omnipresent as the Father is. Jesus claims that He and His Father will be with believers everywhere: “We will come to him and make Our abode with him.”

Up to now, Jesus reveals that He possesses the very attributes of God affirming once again His absolute deity: He is the only Way, the only Truth, the only Life, and hence, the only means of coming to the Father; He instructs His followers to pray to Him; and He claims to be omnipresent.

Therefore, when we come to verse 28, we must take the preceding passages into consideration theologically and not wrench them out of the chapter. So what then does Jesus mean? First, it must be realized that the term translated “greatest” is meizōn (from megas), which denotes position or function—not nature (cf. BDAG). In fact, no standard lexicon offers a meaning of qualitative or ontological superiority for the term megas. Note how the same term in the same form (meizōn) is used in Romans 9:11-12:

though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that God’s purpose according to His choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls, 12 it was said to her, “The older [meizōn] will serve the younger” (cf. John 15:20).

If the Son wished to communicate that the Father was ontologically superior (better) than He was, He certainly could have used the term kreittōn, “better/stronger” to accomplish this.

This term can indeed denote ontological superiority (e.g., Heb. 1:4: the Son is “much better [kreittōn] than the angels”). The same word is used in verse 12: “He who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater [megas] works than these. . . .” What are these greater works? Contextually, they can only refer to greater in quantity (geography), not greater in quality (cf. Matt. 28:19).

Matthew 16:27-28: “Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.”

All the apostles died and Jesus has not yet come. So is this a false prophecy? This assertion of Jesus making a false prophecy rests upon the assumption that the phrase, “Son of Man coming in His kingdom” speaks of His final return. Simply, the first word in verse 1 of chapter 17 is the conjunction: kai, “and.” (“and six days later . . .”). Hence, 16:28 and 17:1 are connected: the “Son of Man coming in His kingdom” is connected with the Transfiguration, which was witnessed by Peter, James, and John who were the “some of those” that “would not taste death.” This coming was not the final return, but rather a precursor to Jesus’ final Eschaton.

Finally, in Matthew 27:46 and John 20:17, Jesus calls His Father “God.” Thus, it is argued, “If Jesus is God, how can He address someone else as His God? The simple answer: Jesus is not only God, but God-man. He has two natures. As to His humanity He can grow in wisdom, feel pain, die on the cross, etc., but as to His deity He can claim that He is the “I Am” of the OT (John 8:58; cf. Deut. 32:39; Isa. 43:10 LXX); He can still the waters (Matt. 8:23-27); command the Father to glorify Him with the glory that only Yahweh possesses (Isa. 48:11; John 17:5); be the Creator of all things (John 1:3; Col. 1:16-17); claim that He is greater than the temple and “Lord of the Sabbath” (Matt. 12:6, 8).

Further, in John 20:17, Jesus carefully distinguishes His relationship with God the Father and the relationship of God the Father with others: “My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.” Jesus is the Son of God by nature; whereas believers are sons and daughters of God, by adoption.

Therefore, many of the arguments railed against the deity of Christ by Muslims and other anti-Trinitarian groups, actually affirm the deity of Christ. Aside from that, it is no wonder as to why Muslims deny the authenticity of the Gospel of John and the Epistles of Paul—they present in the strongest and clearest way that the Son, Jesus Christ, was God (e.g., John 1:1; 8:58; 20:28; Col. 2:9; Titus 2:13; see also Heb. 1:3, 8), Creator (cf. John 1:3; Col. 1:16-17), and He was worshipped in a religious context (cf. Matt. 14:33; John 9:35-38; see also Heb. 1:6; Rev. 5:13-14)–see Christ Worshiped as God

.NOTES

[1] In the OT, as well, there are numerous places that teach the deity of the Son (e.g., Gen. 19:24; Ps. 102:25-27 [cf. Heb. 1:10-12]; Prov. 30:4; Isa. 6:1-10 [cf. John 12:41]; 9:6; Dan. 7:9-14; Joel 2:32 [cf. Rom. 10:13]; etc.).

[2] In verse 6, Paul indicates that the Son was en morphē theou huparchōn, lit., “in nature God subsisting.”

“To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever, Amen” (Romans 9:5 ESV)

The Christ that the Apostle wrote and preached about was fully God (cf. Phil. 2:6; Titus 2:13) and fully man (cf. Gal. 4:4; 2 Tim. 2:8)—thetwo natured Person. At a time when the gnostic heresy (which denied Jesus’ humanity) was mounting and deluding the church, Paul constantly presented a clear antithesis to the two natures of Christ. In Romans 9:5, we have just that: a contrast between the human origins and the deity of Christ. However, some ambiguity exists in the punctuation of the phrase kata sarka ho ōn epi pantōn theos (lit.,“according to the flesh who is over all God”—i.e., to whom does the phrase refer—God the Father or Christ?[1]).

Although, the majority of early important church Fathers[2] and present day scholars[3] attribute the phrase to Christ—namely, Christ is over all God blessed forever.” Nevertheless, biblical translations are somewhat mixed. While some translations see the phrase as unambiguously referring to Christ (e.g., NIV, ESV, TNIV, NET, NLT, NKJV, Message, HCSB).

Others see the phrase as clearly referring to God the Father (e.g., RSV,[4] NEB, REB, NAB, TEV, GNB, CEV). Others are just ambiguous (e.g., KJV, ASV, JB, NRSV, and NASB). One thing we must keep in mind, the original text of the NT was written in all capital letters with no punctuation.[5] Thus, any subsequent punctuation was at the discretion of later editors.

There are both contextual and grammatical considerations that support the position that the phrase who is over all God blessed forever” refers to Christ.

Context:

1) Lament over Israel’s rejection of Jesus as the Messiah. The style of these opening verses is a lament, thus, it seems most natural to take this as an affirmation of the deity of Christ. For Paul is feeling deep sorrows for his kinsmen who although had Jewish privileges, they had rejected the true Messiah.

2) An independent or asyndetic (i.e., omission of conjunctions) doxology to God the Father is contextually out-of-place. A doxology(i.e., an outburst of praise) to God the Father would be incongruous in a passage marked by sorrow over Israel’s failure to recognize in Jesus Christ her spiritual blessing. This doxology jumps out in the middle of Paul’s utter grief for his fellow Jews who refuse to believe in Jesus as the true Messiah.

3) All of Paul’s doxologies are tightly link with the preceding context. Every time Paul gives a doxology, it is linked to the preceding context (e.g., Rom 1:25; 11:36; 2 Cor 11:31; Gal 1:5). There is no place in the writings of Paul where he steps out of the context to give a separate praise to God (unless one sees Rom. 9:5 as the one exception).

Grammar:

1) Kata sarka (“according to the flesh”)Throughout Paul’s writings, he routinely emphasizes the two natures of Jesus Christ—divine and human. In Paul’s theology, Jesus’ perpetual incarnation (as a literal blood descendant of David) is part of his gospel: Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendant [spermatos] of David, according to my gospel (2 Tim. 2:8). We also find Paul placing the phrase kata sarka in apposition (side-by-side) to something else and/or set in contrast to Jesus’ deity. In Romans 1:3-4, for example, we find kata sarka in contrast to the phrase kata pneuma (“according to the Spirit”). If this doxology in Romans 9:5b refers to Christ, then, as NT scholar Murray Harris rightly points out,

there is a natural climax that elevates the person of the Messiah as well as an antithesis that complements the limitation signified by to kata sarka. . . . Not only did the Messiah come from Jewish stock, he is a universal monarch who will be eternally worshiped as God. To refer theos to Christ accords perfectly with the immediate context.[6]

2) Ho ōn. The phrase ho ōn (“who is”) adds significant weight to the affirmation that “who is over all God” refers to Christ. The participle ōncan denote a continuing state of being or timeless existenceThe participle phrase is used in John 1:18: “No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God [or “the one and only God”] who is [ho ōn—i.e., continually] in the bosom of the Father. . .” Since Paul’s doxologies are always connected with the preceding context, obviously the participle phrase in Romans 9:5 would modify the preceding context and thus point to the previous subject (namely, the Christ, whom the Jews rejected), not a different subject. In the NT, we find many examples where the articular[7] participle ōn further describes an existing subject as with John 1:18.[8]

Consider also that the participle phrase ho ōn agrees grammatically with ho Christos (“the Christ”),[9] which makes “the Christ” even more likely to be the referent to the phrase “who is over all God.” The “who is,” then, describes Christ as both “over all” and “God blessed, forever.”

3) “Over all.” First, the phrase epi pantōn (“over all”) is connected to the participle phrase ho ōn: “Who is over all.” “Over all” denotes ultimate supremacy. Jesus the Messiah is supreme ruler over all Jews, Gentiles, believing, and unbelieving. It is true that Scripture calls God the Father “over all” (cf. Eph. 4:6). However, Jesus is called “over all” in Acts 10:36: The word which He sent to the sons of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ (He is Lord of all).” Note the parallel to the phrase in Romans 9:5: ho ōn epi pantōn theos (lit., “who is over all God”) with the end of Acts 10:36: houtos estin pantōn kurios (lit., “He is of all Lord”). Further, in Romans 10:12, Paul states that Jesus is kurios pantōn—“Lord of all.”

The supremacy over all things is constantly expressed in Paul’s theology (esp. in Col. 1:16-17 where Jesus is Creator of all things, thus having the supremacy over all creation). As “God blessed forever,” we would except to read passages where Christ is supreme over allthings; the “Lord of all”; “the Lord of glory” (1 Cor. 2:8); and the Creator of all things.

4) Jesus as theos (“God”). Objection may be raised at Paul identifying Jesus as “God” being that he normally identifies the Father as “God” and Jesus as “Lord” (e.g., Gal. 1:1, 3; 1 Cor. 8:6). It is true that in the NT Paul normally refers to the Father as theos (“God”) and the Son as kurios (“Lord”) particularly when the Father and Jesus appear in the same verse or context. However, in religious contexts both titlestheos and kurios were two equal descriptions of deity. This is especially seen when one considers that the very term used to translate the Tetragrammaton (i.e., YHWH, “LORD”) in the LXX was kurios.

Frequency does not mean exclusivity. The fact is, even though Paul regularly refers to the Father as “God,” he has specifically referred to Jesus as ho theos (“the God”) in Titus 2:13; existing in the nature of God in Philippians 2:6; and dwelling in “all the fullness of Deity” in Colossians 2:9; and, as mentioned, the Creator of all things in Colossians 1:16-17. To Paul, Jesus Christ is the YHWH of Isaiah 45:23as presented in Philippians 2:10-11.[10] So referring to Christ as “over all God blessed forever” is quite consistent in Paul’s theology.

One more point, in Romans 9:5, theos (“God”) does not have the article: ho ōn epi pantōn theos (lit., “who is over all God”). As with John 1:1c (lit., “and God was the Word”) where the anarthrous[11] theos refers to the Word’s nature, not identity. Hence, in Romans 9:5, Christ is “over all God” as to His nature.

5) “Blessed forever.” When we examine the biblical record, whenever eulogētos (“blessed”) appears as an independent or asyndetic doxology to God the Father, it always comes before the name of God.[12] But here in Romans 9:5, it comes after “God”: “who is over all God blessed forever.” Paul uses the expression “blessed forever” twice in his letters and each time, undeniably, it is an assertion regarding the subject (see Rom 1:25 and 2 Cor 11:31). In 2 Corinthians 11:31, a similar construction as Romans 9:5 is found where ho ōn refers to the subject of the sentence: “The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, who is [ho ōn] to be praised forever, knows that I am not lying.”

Therefore, it is with the highest of probability that the phrase in Romans 9:5, “who is over all God blessed forever” refers to Jesus the Messiah. As seen in point 4 above, in Paul’s theology, Christ is the supreme God, which is congruous, not only within Paul’s own literature, but with the other biblical authors. Whereas Paul refers to Christ as “over all God” in Romans 9:5; John refers to Him as the “one and only God” and “the true God” (John 1:18; 1 John 5:20); the author of Hebrews refers to Him as “the God” (Heb.1:8) and unchangeable Creator—the YHWH of Psalm 102:25-27 (cf. Heb. 1:10-12); Peter refers to Him as “the God and Savior” (2 Pet. 1:1); and Jude refers to Him as “the only Master and Lord” (Jude 1:4).

Since his conversation on the road to Damascus, Paul’s life was forever changed. He personally encountered the “the great God and Savior, Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13). The Christ that Paul preached was from the line of David “according to the flesh” and as to His divine nature, He is “over all God blessed forever, Amen.”

 NOTES:

[1] Either as: “the Christ, who is over all, God blessed forever,” or “the Messiah. God who is over all be blessed forever!” or “the Messiah who is over all. God be blessed forever!”(the former referring unambiguously to Christ).

[2] E.g., Irenaeus, Cyprian, Athanasius, Gregory of Nyssa, Ambrose, Augustine, and Hilary, etc. 

[3] E.g., (partial list): Calvin (1540); Haldane (1958); Dwight (1881); Hodge (1886); Shedd (1879); Moule (1887); Sanday and Headlam (1902); Denney (1904); Lenski (1936); Schlatter (1959); Schmidt (1963); Murray (1965); Cranfield (1979); Metzger (1980); Bruce (1985); Morris (1988); Harris (1992); Fitzmyer (1993); Stott (1994); Mounce (1995); Moo (1996); Schreiner (1998).

[4] The RSV reads: “To them belong the patriarchs, and of their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ. God who is over all be blessed for ever.Amen,” clearly attributing “God who is over all” to the Father.

[5] For example, an early copy of John 1:1 would look like this: ENARCHHNOLOGOSKAIOLOGOSENPROSTONQNKAIQSHNOLOGOS as compared to later manuscripts in which punctuation and spaces were added:) Ἐνἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ λόγος, καὶ ὁ λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν θεόν, καὶ θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος.

[6] Murray J. Harris, Jesus as God, 165.

[7] “Articular,” meaning with the article (“the”) in contrast to “anarthrous,” which means without the article.       

[8] Also at John 3:13; 11:31; 12:17; Acts 11:1; 2 Corinthians 11:31; Ephesians 2:13; Colossians 4:11.

[9] Both the articular Christos and the articular participial ōn are in the nominative (subject) case.

[10] Cf. Hebrews 1:10-12.

[11] See note 7 above.

[12] E.g., Genesis 14:20; 2 Corinthians 1:3; Ephesians 1:3; 1 Peter 1:3.

 

John 17:3: “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” The one true God has revealed Himself as three distinct persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”

Oneness Theology is non-Christian

Oneness Christology is a clear and major departure from biblical orthodoxy. Similar to Islam, it teaches a unitarian/unipersonal (i.e., one person) concept of God. Hence, the chief Oneness Christological divergences from that of the biblical teachings are as follows:

  1. Oneness Christology denies the unipersonality and deity of the Son. It teaches that “Jesus” is the name of the unipersonal deity. Accordingly, the “Son” merely represents the human nature of Jesus, while “Father/Holy Spirit” represents the divine nature of Jesus—thus, the Son is not God, only the Father is (cf. Bernard, Oneness of God, 1983: 99, 103, 252). 
  1. Along with the deity, Oneness Christology denies the preexistence and incarnation of the Son, and thus, His role as the Creator (cf. Ibid., 103-4; Magee,Is Jesus in the Godhead or Is The Godhead in Jesus?, 1988: 25). By denying the preexistence of the person of the Son, Oneness doctrine rejects the incarnation of the divine Son holding to the erroneous notion that it was Jesus as the Father, not the Son, who came down and wrapped Himself in flesh, and that “flesh” was called “Son” (cf. Bernard, Oneness of God, 106, 122).

In sharp contrast to Oneness Christology, Scripture presents clearly and definitely that the distinct person of the Son 1) is fully God (cf. Dan. 7:9-14; John 1:18; 5:17-18; Phil. 2:6-11; Heb. 1:13, 8, 10; Rev. 1:8, 17), 2) was the Creator of all things (cf. John 1:3; Col. 1:16-17; Heb. 1:2, 10-12), 3) eternally coexisted with and is distinct from the Father and the Holy Spirit (cf. Gen. 19:24; Dan 7:9-14; Matt. 28:19; John 17:5; 2 Cor. 13:14; 2 John 1:3; Rev. 5:13-14), and 4) became fully man in order “to give His life a ransom for many” (cf. John 1:1, 14; Mark 10:45; Phil. 2:6-11). This is the Jesus Christ of biblical revelation. 

Jesus Christ is the only mediator and intercessor between God the Father and human beings. The Jesus of biblical revelation is the divine Son, the monogenēs theos who always is in the bosom of the Father (John 1:18), a personal self-aware subject, distinct from the Father and the Holy Spirit. Hence, in biblical opposition to Oneness Christology, Jesus is not the Father, but “the Son of the Father” (2 John 1:3).

Worshiping the unipersonal God of Oneness theology is neither worshiping the true God in spirit nor truth. The Oneness concept of God is fundamentally the same as Islam: a unipersonal deity with no distinction of persons. The true God of biblical revelation is triune—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. This is and has been the historic biblical position and foundation of the Christian religion.

And behold! Allah will say: “O Jesus the son of Mary! Didst thou say unto men, worship me and my mother as gods in derogation of Allah?” He will say: “Glory to Thee! never could I say what I had no right (to say). . . . ” (Qur’an, Sura 5.116).[1]

Anyone who has interfaced with Muslims (or also JWs) on the Person of Christ or nature of God has probably been asked that question. Although, Muslims are taught that Jesus was a prophet of Allah, sinless, virgin born, preformed miracles, etc. they reject that He was eternal God in the flesh, crucified, and resurrected from the dead. The rejection of the deity of Jesus Christ (and the Trinity) is common to all non-Christian cults and false religions. Because Jesus said in John 8:24 that “unless you believe that I am [egō eimi], you will die in your sins” we cannot be hesitant or be timid in proclaiming that Jesus is God in the flesh—for salvation is predicated on that belief. A few months ago, in a formal debate with a Muslim apologist, I was asked the typical question: “Where did Jesus claim to be God and say worship Me?” The fact of the matter is this: If Jesus is God, Islam is proven a false religion and thus, Mohammad is merely another false prophet who deceived his followers.

Jesus’ claims to deity were much stronger and clearer than if He had said, “I am God”

First, we must understand that in the NT, Jesus never literally said, “I am God.” As we will show, the term “God” is subject to different meanings according to the context. In other words, the term “God” (Heb. Elohim; Gk. theos) had many meanings in the OT. And in the NT, the plural form of theos (theoi, “gods”) denoted false gods (cf. John 10:34-35; 1 Cor. 8:5). In the OT, Elohim (“God”/“gods”) referred to judges (cf. Exod. 21:6; 22:8-9), false gods (cf. Ps. 96:5), the true God (cf. Jer. 10:10); etc. In Exodus 7:1, the Lord said to Moses: “See, I make you as God [Elohim] to Pharaoh.” Of course, Moses was not actually made deity, but only as God’s direct representative, he was made as God to Pharaoh. The point is, Moses, judges, angels, etc. were called “God(s),” even though they were not God by nature. So if Jesus would have stated, “I am God,” those that deny the deity of Christ could construe the phrase to mean that Jesus was merely claiming that He was a representative of God, or a perfect judge, or a mighty angel (as the JWs see it, using Isa. 9:6).

However, Jesus’ claims to deity were much stronger and clearer than if He had said, “I am God.” In other words, Jesus made specific claims to express His deity (some of which were used only of YHWH in the OT), which were clearly understood by both friends and enemies as claims to be equal with God. These specific claims were not used by nor were they applied to humans or angels, as with the term “God.”

Note the following claims, which explicitly demonstrate that Jesus did indeed claim to be equal with God, in the same sense as God the Father.

Egō Eimi (“I am”)

In John 8:24 Jesus declared: “For if you should not believe that I am [egō eimi] you will perish in your sins” (lit. trans.). Although, many translations add the pronoun “he” (e.g., NKJ, NASB, NIV)[2] after “I am” in spite of the fact that the pronoun is not contained after egō eimi (“I am”) in any Greek manuscripts of John 8:24—nor is the pronoun contained after Jesus’ other egō eimi affirmations in John 8:28, 58; 13:19; 18:5, 6, and 8. Jesus claimed He was the “I am” seven times in the Gospel of John. These instances are absolute “I am” claims—i.e., with no supplied predicate. Hence, they are the not same as statements such as, for example, “I am the door” or “I am the shepherd.” These all have predicates following “I am” whereas the seven “I am” statements listed above have no supplied predicate, but rather the “I am” stands alone. Cleary this was an absolute and clear claim to deity.

The Hebrew phrase, ani hu, which was translated egō eimi (“I am”) in the LXX,[3] was an exclusive and recurring title for YHWH (cf. Deut. 32:39; Isa. 41:4; 43:10; 46:4; etc.). Thus, this title, then, clearly denoted YHWH alone (which the Jews clearly understood, cf. John 8:59). Further, Jesus’ claim to be the “I am” was not only seen in John 8:58 (as many assume), but note the marked progression starting in 8:24, then, vv. 28, 58; 13:19; 18:5, 6, and 8. It is when we take all the “I am” statements do we see the thrust of His claim.

So strong was this affirmation of deity that the Jehovah’s Witnesses had to mistranslate the present active indicative verb, eimi (“am”) in John 8:58 turning it into a past tense, “I have been” (NWT), as if Jesus was merely claiming to be older than Abraham. However, what immediately refutes this false notion is the response of the Jews in verse 59: They wanted to stone Him (legally, under Jewish law), which clearly shows that the Jews understood Jesus’ claim as an unequivocal claim to be God. Jesus’ claim to be the “I am” was essentially a claim to be YHWH, not a mere judge, angel, or representative of God, but YHWH. Hence, salvation is predicated on believing that the Son, Jesus Christ, is the eternal God, YHWH, the great “I am.”

The Son of God—in Essence

Muslims deny that Jesus’ claim to be the “Son of God” was in fact a claim of deity. Muslims are taught that Jesus was only speaking metaphorically when He referred to Himself as the Son of God (cf. John 10:36). In other words, Muslims argue that Jesus was the Son of God by doing good works, glorifying God, being humble, etc., thus, Jesus was not the one and only (monogenēs)[4] Son in a unique sense.[5] They further point out that in both the OT and NT, “son(s) of God” was applied to both angels and men (cf. Gen. 6:2; Job 1:6; Luke 3:38). So, as Muslims argue, when Jesus claimed Himself to be God’s Son, it could not have been a title of deity. In response,

1) The meaning of biblical words and phrases are determined by the context (as with the term Elohim). In a Semitic (Jewish) context, to be the “son of” something meant that one possesses or shares the nature of that something. In Ephesians 2:2-3, for example, the unsaved are said to be the “sons of disobedience . . . by nature children of wrath” in that they possess the nature of disobedience and wrath. Unbelievers are sons of the devil (cf. John 8:44), whereas believers are sons of God by adoption (cf. Eph. 1:5), through faith (cf. Gal. 3:26).

2) Even though the phrase “son(s) of God” was applied to angels and men, when applied to Jesus, it was in a context of essence or nature. Whereas Christians are sons of God by adoption, Jesus is the Son of God by nature—which was a clear claim of deity.[6]

3) Son of God = God the Son (cf. John 1:18). In John 5:17-18, when Jesus said, “My Father is working until now,” note the response of the Jews (similar to John 8:59): [they] “were seeking all the more to kill Him.” But why? The Apostle John tells us: “because He . . . was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God.” The Jews (and the Apostle John) clearly understood that by claiming God was His Father, Jesus was claiming to be “equal with God.”

“I and the Father are one” (John 10:30)

Many Christians rightfully point to this passage to show that Jesus claimed equality with God the Father. As with Jesus’ other undeniable claims to be God (cf. John 5:17-18; 8:58-59), the response of the Jews in verse 33 is an irrefutable confirmation of Jesus’ claim to be God: “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God.”

However, it is not merely in verse 30 where we see a clear claim of equality with God. Note the passages leading up to verse 30. In verses 27-29, Jesus claims that He is the Shepherd and He gives His sheep eternal life and no one can snatch them from His or His Father’s hand. The Jews were familiar with Psalm 95:7: “For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand.” Knowing that only YHWH can make this claim of having sheep in His hand as well as giving them eternal life (cf. Isa. 43:11), when Jesus made this exact claim and then added, “I and the Father are one,” it’s easy to understand the response of the Jews: “You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God.”

Therefore, to answer the question of the objectors, Yes, Jesus claimed He was God in the most unequivocal and explicit way.

He claimed He was the egō eimi (“I am”; John 8:24 et al); Son of God (by nature; John 5:17-18; cf. 17:5), which was only applied to YHWH; and claimed that He has sheep in His hand and He is one in essence[7] with the Father (John 10:27-30). Jesus’ claims to be equal with God were much stronger and clearer than if He had said, “I am God.” We also see other unmistakable claims of deity such as when Jesus boldly stated He was “greater than the Temple” (Matt. 12:6); that He has “the authority on earth to forgive sins” (Mark 2:10); that He gives His life as a ransom (Mark 10:45); etc.

The Worship of Jesus

We worship Jesus because He is truly God. Jesus came to earth as a humble servant (cf. Phil. 2:7-8); He came to serve, not to be served (cf. Mark 10:45). His mission on earth was to die for the redemption of sinners, for this reason, God became flesh. Hence, it was not His role on earth to demand His creatures to worship Him—believers did this naturally.

However, in John 5:22-23, Jesus states that the purpose of the Father giving all judgment to Him was for the result of all honoring the Son in the same way (kathōs) they would honor the Father. The honor that is given to the Father is clearly religious honor—namely, worship. Therefore, Jesus asserts His essential equality with God by expressing that the worship/honor given to the Father is to be given to the Son and if one does not worship/honor the Son, he or she “does not honor the Father who sent Him.” Further, we find many examples in both the OT and NT where Jesus was worshiped in a religious context[8] and He accepted it (e.g., Dan. 7:14; Matt. 14:33; Heb. 1:6; Rev. 5:13-14).

NOTES

[1] Yusufali’s translation.

[2] The pre-2011 NIV had a bracketed clause after “I am” that read: “the one I claim to be.”

[3] LXX is the abbreviation for the Septuagint (meaning “seventy”—the traditional number of scholars that translated the OT Hebrew into Greek originating in Alexandria, Egypt around 250 B.C.). The NT authors frequently utilized the LXX in their OT citations (esp. in Hebrews).

[4] Monogenēs means “one and only”/“unique one” (cf. John 1:14, 3:16) with no idea of “to beget,” “give birth,” or origin. Thus, monogenēs huios, means, “one and only Son” (NIV) or “unique Son” (cf. John 1:18: monogenēs theos, “God the One and Only”/“only begotten God”). The lexical meaning of the term is especially seen in Hebrews 11:17 where Isaac is called one and only (monogenēs) son, yet Isaac was not Abraham’s first or only son, but he was the unique son from whom God’s “covenant would be established” (Gen. 17:19-21).

[5] See Answering Islam, which is one of the best and most prolific sites dealing with Islam > http://www.answering-islam.org <

[6] The most substantial way that the “Son of God” is used is in a Trinitarian sense. Jesus Himself employs it that way in several places (cf. Matt. 11:27; 14:28-33; 16:16; 21:33-46; 26:63).

[7] The neuter hen (“one”) here denotes essential unity, not identity, as Oneness Pentecostals assert. In addition, it is one in essence as the context demands (cf. vv. 27-30 along with the response of the Jews in v. 33).

[8] A religious context is any such context where spirituality or holiness exists.

But the Spirit explicitly says that in the later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrine taught by demons. . . . (1 Tim. 4:1).

Most historically informed Christians should be familiar with the Latin sola’s (sola meaning, “alone”) that were first boldly proclaimed by the Reformers in the early sixteen century: sola gratia (“grace alone”), solo Christo (“Christ alone”), sola fide (“faith alone”), sola Scriptura (“Scripture alone” [1]), soli Deo Gloria (“to the glory of God alone”).

That is not to say that these important biblical concepts were not proclaimed before the sixteenth century—for they were by many important early church Fathers. For example, Athanasius, the great defender of the full deity of Christ in early fourth century, declares that Holy Scripture “is sufficient above all things,” and “fully sufficient for the proclamation of truth.”[2]

The point here is that because of an out-and-out attack on and a vociferous denial of the sufficiency of Scripture[3] and the perfect and sufficient work of Christ made by the Roman Catholic Church, the Reformers codified (not invented) and determinedly proclaimed these sola’s. For them, sola Scriptura[4] teaches that salvation was by sola gratia,[5] through solo Christo,[6] through the instrument of sola fide,[7] and soli Deo Gloria.[8] For every one of these essential sola’s, Rome categorically rejected as they do today.

Note: the very bedrock upon which all the other sola’s rest is sola Scriptura (“Scripture alone”), which groups such as Roman Catholicism and Mormonism (LDS) aggressively deny.[9] To allow Scripture to read for itself would be theologically disastrous to these groups. However, there is one sola that is loyally and tenaciously shared by both: sola Ecclesia (“Church alone”). In fact, sola Ecclesia is absolutely necessary and foundational to their entire theological/sociological system. In other words, for them, it is their Church alone that determines what is and what is not doctrine. Thus, for the Catholic: Rome is correct because she says she is correct—ex cathedra.[10]

Toto Scriptura: “All of Scripture”

Aside from the sola’s, there was also another important principle that came out of the Reformation: toto Scriptura (“all Scripture”). The Reformers, as with the early church Fathers before them, held persistently to defending and affirming Scripture alone. And with this same passion and zeal they saw that “all of Scripture” (toto Scriptura) should be clearly and vigorously taught—since “all Scripture is God breathed out” (2 Tim. 3:16).

Unfortunately, many Christian leaders and pastors today will indeed declare “Scripture alone” yet disregard the principle of “all of Scripture.” Important doctrines are often marginalized and/or flatly avoided because many behind the pulpits of large churches and leaders of Christian organizations are afraid that they might offend someone, and/or lose sponsorships and endorsements. Consequently and inevitably, when a false teaching emerges in a church or on the airwaves, it is gladly accepted and goes unchallenged. For why would anyone see a false teaching as false if they themselves are undiscerning and unstudied?

By consistently avoiding (and distorting) the whole counsel of God, Christian leaders and pastors are raising up biblically illiterate Christians ineffectual in providing an accurate presentation of the gospel. The Apostle Peter rightly says that the “untaught[11] and unstable distort” Scripture (2 Pet. 3:16).

Acts 20:17-31

When the Apostle Paul gave his farewell address to the elders of the church of Ephesus (cf. Acts 20:17ff.), he was very concerned as to what was going to soon take place (cf. v. 25). This was the last time that they would see Paul, for he was martyred roughly 4 to 6 years later under Nero around A.D. 64-66. Next, Paul testifies that he is “innocent of the blood of men.”

For, Paul tells the elders, “I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God (v. 26).[12] Paul understood the severity of preaching only “parts” of Scripture or “toning down” what God has said, as many do today. God takes a very dim view at those who preach an edited version of the gospel utterly dodging judgment and apologetic passages of Scripture. In verse 28, Paul then instructs the leaders of the church to carefully watch and protect the church: “Be on guard for yourself and for all the flock. . . .” And as a final point of instruction, in verses 29-30, Paul speaks of the grave consequences of not proclaiming all of Scripture (toto Scriptura):

I know after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves, men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw disciples after them. Therefore be on alert, remembering that for night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears (emphasis added).

Biblically there are two categories of “wolves”: Those outside the church: e.g., non-Christian cults, world religions, etc. and those inside the church to whom Paul is referring. Paul was so concerned about the wolves from “within the church” that he warned the Ephesians elders for three years in tears! So destructive were these false teachers that the Holy Spirit warns and prophesizes of their coming in virtually every New Testament epistle. Hence, it should be paramount that we as Christians (esp. leaders) be biblically equipped to (a) accurately affirm the gospel and (b) detect false teachings so we can warn others and “refute those who contradict” sound doctrine (Titus 1:9).

Jesus said to “watch out for false prophets.” For they always come as “Christians” and they do everything in the “name of Jesus”; even producing “miracles, signs, and wonders” (Matt. 7:15-23; see also 2 Thess. 2:9ff). It is of no great wonder then as to why Paul was so troubled. These particular “inside-job” wolves came as the genuine article deceiving many in their path. Why? Far too many Christians today determine the validity of pastors and evangelists on the way they speak, not on their theology! Hence, the most popular so-called Christian speakers today are the greatest[13] of heretics (e.g., T. D. Jakes).

And according to Paul, these false teachings will be perpetual (cf. 1 Tim. 4:1). Moreover, the Apostle Peter likewise deals with the on-going problem with false teachers within the church. Towards the end of his life, he was directed by the Holy Spirit to state:

But false prophets arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies . . . bringing swift destruction upon themselves . . . and in their greed they will exploit you with false words. . . . (2 Pet. 2:1-3; emphasis added).

Again, these false teachers exist within the church. The Mormons, JW’s, Oneness believers, Christian Science, etc., are wolves outside the church: But the deception by which most Christians are duped is from the wolves within their own number. So let us be studied Christians being able to defend and affirm the whole gospel (viz. toto Scriptura) with doctrinal precision. It is a biblical command to all Christians and it glorifies God. And to Christian leaders and pastors: you have been called by God the Holy Spirit to shepherd and hence “guard” the flock against the wolves who seek to distort the gospel. If Christians do not speak out against false teachings, the false teachings will be construed and truth!

NOTES

[1] Sola Scriptura simply means that in Scripture alone all things necessary for salvation and concerning faith and life are taught explicitly and implicitly in which any literate person can understand.

[2] Cf. Athanasius, De Synodis, 6.

[3] I.e., the accepted Protestant cannon, which does not include the seven (or more) “apocrypha” books added by Rome in which they call “Deuterocanonical” (“secondary canon”).

[4] Sola Scriptura (“Scripture alone”) opposes Rome’s view that both Scripture and tradition (viz. oral traditions not contained in Scripture) are the word of God.

[5] Sola gratia (“grace alone”) opposes Rome’s view that justification comes by the grace of God and the meritorious works of man, which includes water-baptism (which Rome calls “the laver of regeneration”), performing the sacraments, good works, and esp. acknowledging all Marian doctrines, which includes religious worship to Mary.

[6] Solo Christo (“Christ alone”) opposes Rome’s view that the sole work of Christ is not sufficient. For Rome teaches that one must merit his or her justification in addition to the work of Christ. Further, doctrines such as Purgatory deny that Christ totally and perfectly propitiated (appeased) the Father (viz. His sacrifice averted God’s wrath *literally* taking away sin). However, that salvation is through Christ alone does not mean that the Father and the Holy Spirit did not participate in the salvation of the believer. For salvation from start to finish rests on the work of the triune God: God the Holy Spirit regenerates the sinner (cf. Titus 3:5) after which the *gift* of faith is granted by God and then exercised by the sinner as a result of being regenerated (cf. John 1:12-13; Phil. 1:29) after which the Father justifies the sinner (cf. Rom. 8:33) and, through that faith alone, imputing to him or her the righteousness of His Son (cf. Rom. 4:4-8). Christ alone simply means that the sole work and righteousness of Jesus Christ passive (allowing Himself to be crucified) and active (His perfect obedience to the Father) is the very ground of salvation. Thus, salvation is through His righteousness alone.

[7] Sola Fide (“faith alone”) opposes Rome’s view of faith + works. The Council or Trent (1546-63) states categorically:

If any one saith, that by faith alone the impious is justified; in such wise as to mean, that nothing else is required to cooperate in order to the obtaining [of] the grace of Justification, and that it is not in any way necessary, that he be prepared and disposed by the movement of his own will; let him be anathema (Canon 9).

However, in sharp biblical contrast, the very ground of justification is the work of Christ (as seen above) while faith being the very instrument that God uses to justify the sinner. Note: biblically, faith is never said to be the cause or ground of justification, but rather the sole instrument: “having been justified by faith (ek pisteōs, lit., “from faith”) we [now] have peace with God” (Rom. 5:1). If faith (i.e., the faith-act) was the cause of justification, it would become a meritorious work opposing Paul’s “apart from works” theology. Further, saving faith is said to be a “gift” granted by God. “By His doing,” Paul says, “you are in Christ Jesus” (see Acts 13:48; 2 Thess. 2:13; 2 Tim. 1:9; 2:25).

[8] In view of Rome’s official doctrine of salvation, the glory belongs to both man and God, hence rejecting soli Deo Gloria (“to the glory of God alone”). According to Rome, man must, by way of his required works, cooperate with God to be justified. Thus, man and God working together (synergism) as a team in justification, whereas Paul states that it is God alone that justifies (cf. Rom. 8:33). So, in Roman Catholicism, the glory of salvation is shared by both man and God.

[9] Rome states that “Both Scripture and Tradition must be accepted and honored with equal sentiments of devotion and reverence” (Catechism of the Church, para. 82).

[10] Ex Cathedra (“from the throne”) meaning that any official theological affirmation made by the Pope is infallible, for he cannot error. This teaching was promulgated as doctrine by Pope Pius IX at the first Vatican Council (1870), as he arrogantly stated: “I am tradition.”

[11] The term “untaught” is from the Greek term amatheis, which carries the literal meaning of “unstudied” or “untaught” as the NASB translates. Thus, it is not the biblically studied that distorts Scripture, but rather the unstudied.

[12] Here, Paul seems to be drawing from Ezekiel 33:6ff.

[13] I use the term “greatest” in the sense of most influential.

If you have dialogued with Mormon missionaries, you have, no doubt, been frustrated to find that Mormons constantly use Christian vocabulary and unfamiliar LDS terms to propagate the teachings of their church. Along with Jehovah’s Witnesses, Christian Science, and most non-Christian cults the Mormons will declare: “Jesus is my Lord and Savior,” “There is only one eternal God,” “I am a true Christian,” “Jesus died for me and I am saved by grace,” and other terms that sound absolutely Christian. Furthermore, there are many distinct LDS doctrinal terms that Mormons will employ as well.

Therefore, it is important for Christians to be familiar with these distinct LDS terms, as well as being able to define Christian terms that Mormons utilized in dialogue. When the Mormon say: “I am saved by grace,” what do they mean by that? Or when they say: “I believe in the Trinity,” what does that mean to them? If you do not define the meanings that are poured into words, you will agree to the terms without understanding what is really being stated.

Below is a list to some important distinct LDS doctrinal terms along with common Christian terms. The terms will be defined by LDS teaching and understanding. Hence, when Mormon missionaries use these terms you will have a better understanding to what they actually mean.

Aaronic Priesthood: The lesser of the two LDS priesthoods (see below: Melchizedek Priesthood). To be ordained to this office of Priesthood the worthy male (women are excluded) must be 12 years of age. There are three offices within this Priesthood: age 12, Deacon; age 14, Teacher; age 16, Priest. The function of the Aaronic Priesthood is the ministry of temporal needs of the church (e.g., collect the fast offerings on the first Sunday of each month; perform baptisms; assist in home teachings etc.).

Adam: The first of the human family on earth. The Ancient of Days, and is also known as Michael the archangel.

Adam-God Doctrine: Second President of the Church, Brigham Young taught that Adam was God the Father, “the only God with whom we have to do.” This doctrine was taught and preached by Young, for over twenty years. In 1852 Young stated:

When our Father Adam came into the Garden of Eden, he came into it with a celestial body, and brought Eve, one of his wives, with him. He helped to make and organize this world. He is MICHAEL the Arch-angel, the ANCIENT of DAYS!. . . . He is our FATHER and our GOD and the only God with whom we have to do (Journal of Discourses, 1:50, 1852; emphasis theirs)

Young was always consistent with this teaching. Twenty-one years after his statements in Journal of Discourses, in an article in the Deseret News, he confirmed this teaching to his Mormon devotes:

How much unbelief exists in the minds of the Latter-day Saints in regard to one particular doctrine which I revealed to them, and which God revealed unto me- namely that Adam is our Father and our God. . . . (Deseret News, June 18, 1873).

If anyone wishes to assert that this teaching was not official but rather the mere speculation of LDS Prophet, Brigham Young, notice this statement where Young refutes that idea:

I have never yet preached a sermon [as in Journal of Discourses] and sent it out to the children of men that they may not call Scripture. . . . (Journal of Discourses, 13:95; emphasis added).

Adoption: When one becomes a Mormon their blood physically changes to Jewish blood. Bruce R. McConkie explains:

By the law of adoption those who receive the gospel and obey its laws, no matter what their literal blood lineage may have been, are adopted into the lineage of Abraham. . . . to purge out the old blood, and make him actually of the seed of Abraham (Mormon Doctrine, 23 )

That this adoption involves a literal change in the convert’s blood was plainly taught by the Prophet (ibid., p. 390).

Angel: The spirit children of Father God and Mother(s) God in pre-existence.

Apostle: A person called to be a special witness for Christ. The LDS apostles are “apostles” in a most literal sense as with the New Testament apostles.

Baptism: Provides remission of sins; membership in the LDS Church; is the gate that leads to the celestial kingdom (i.e., the third and highest heaven; see: Heaven); personal sanctification. May only be performed by legal administrators of the LDS Church.

Baptism for the Dead: Baptism performed by a living person for someone that is dead. The purpose of this ordinance is to enable a person who died with out the LDS gospel to become a member of the LDS Church. Since one cannot be a member without being baptized in the LDS temple while they were still alive, a living person may be baptized in substitution.

In the spirit world, (see Spirit World) there are Mormon missionaries that preach the LDS gospel to those that died as a non-members (they are in spirit prison; see Hell). If a person should accept the LDS gospel, they can become members (assuming a living person was baptized for them). Then, after becoming a member can progress to a higher level of heaven (see Heaven).

Bible: “We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God” (Pearl of Great Faith: eighth Article of Faith). The only recognized Bible is the King James Version. The Bible has been corrupted by the hands of men.

Blacks: Less valiant fighters in their pre-existent life, hence God cursed them with black skin. They were also cursed as to the Priesthood until 1978. Joseph Smith stated:

Had I anything to do with the negro, I would confine them by strict law to their own species, and put them on a national equalization (Joseph Fielding Smith, ed., Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 270; History of the Church, 5:218; emphasis added)

Brigham Young second President and Prophet states:

You see some classes of the human family that are black, uncouth, uncomely, disagreeable and low in their habits, wild and seemingly deprived of nearly all the blessings of the intelligence that is generally bestowed upon mankind… the Lord put a mark upon him, which was the flat nose and black skin. (Journal of Discourses, 7:290; emphasis added).

Young further states:

Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the African race? If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot. This will always be (ibid., 10:110; emphasis added). See The LDS Church and Black Skin.

Blood Atonement: Spilling your own blood for remission of the sins which are so vial that the blood of Jesus Christ cannot cover them. Brigham Young explains:

There is not a man or woman who violates covenants made with their God that will not be required to pay the dept. The blood of Christ will never wipe that out. Your own blood must atone for it, the judgments of the Almighty will come sooner or later, and every man and women will have to atone for breaking covenants (Journal of Discourses, 3:247).

Born Again: When a person becomes a member of the LDS Church and continues to be faithful.

Burning in the Bosom: Confirmation of truth, allegedly by the power of the Holy Ghost (cf. Moroni 10:4-5).

Christian: Mormons only (cf. Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 132).

Church of the Devil: All non-LDS churches (cf. 1 Nephi 14:10).

Church of the Lamb of God: The LDS Church (ibid.).

Create: To organize elements that already exist into new form. In LDS theology, God does not create out of nothing he only forms and organizes eternal matter that has always existed. Joseph Smith said:

I might with boldness proclaim from the house-tops that God never had the power to create the spirit of man at all (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 354).

Elohim: The personal name for God the Father.

Eternal (God): All matter and intelligences are eternal, thus, man and God, in that way, are said to be “eternal.” God has not always been God, only that his intelligence has always existed (cf. Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salivation, 12; Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 352-54).

Eternal Progression: The process of going from: Pre-existence to being mortal on earth, to exaltation (i.e., becoming a God) (cf. Mormon Doctrine, 238-39).

Exaltation: Becoming a God. Exaltation is synonymous with “eternal life” and “true salvation.”

Gabriel: Noah (cf. Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 157).

Fall of Adam: The change to mortality when Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. The fall, Mormons say, was s good thing. If Adam and Eve had not transgressed, they would not have had the capacity to have children.

Gentile: A non-member of the LDS Church.

General Authorities: Leaders of the LDS Church: The First Presidency, Council of the Twelve (apostles), the Patriarch to the Church, Assistants to the Twelve, First Council of the Seventy, and the Presiding Bishopric.

Godhead: Three separate Gods: God the Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost. They are one in purpose and unity only, not one in nature (ontologically). Joseph Smith explains:

I will preach on the plurality of Gods . . . I have always and in all congregations when I have preached on the subject of Deity, it has been the plurality of Gods. . . . Jesus Christ a separate and distinct personage from God the Father, and that the Holy Ghost was a distinct personage and a Spirit: and these three constitute three distinct personages and three Gods (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 370; emphasis added).

God the Father: An exalted man with a body of flesh and bones as well as sexual desires. He is the head God for this world. He was once a mortal man that became a God by obedience to law. He has a Father over him, that Father has a Father, and that Father has a Father, etc., hence an infinite regression of the Gods. He was married to his own daughter, the Virgin Mary, whereby sexual relations, begot Jesus.

Heaven: Three levels: celestial the highest; the terrestrial the middle and the telestial being the lowest of the three.

Hell: The temporary holding place where all the wicked will be tormented. Then after their resurrection, the majority will go on to the telestial heaven (the lowest level). Hell will have an end. Mormons refer to hell as “eternal” only in the sense that the temporary punishment is from an eternal God. But the Devil, his angels, and the sons of perdition will be tormented in “outer darkness” forever. (cf. Mormon Doctrine, 349-50, 746).

Holy Ghost: One of the three Gods in the Godhead. Does not have a body of flesh and bones.

Jehovah: Or “LORD.” The identity of Jesus Christ in the Old Testament.

Jesus Christ: One of the three Gods in the Godhead. He is the “LORD” or “Jehovah” of the Old Testament. His Atonement provided immortality (only) for all men. Hence, men have the opportunity to work for their salvation.

Jesus was the literal Son of Elohim (by sexual relations with the Virgin Mary). That is why Jesus is called: “Only Begotten Son in the Flesh.” (Mormon Doctrine, 546-47, 742).

Jesus was a polygamist, married to Mary, Martha, and the other Mary. Along with his Father, he also was once a mere man that sinned and was in need of redemption. He had to earn his salvation by obedience to law.

Kolob (the planet): The star nearest to the throne of God the Father (Elohim) (cf. Pearl of Great Price: Abraham, 3:2-3, 9).

Lucifer: One of Elohim’s spirit children. He is Jesus’ spirit brother. He was a good angel but rebelled and was expelled from Heaven, taking a third of the spirit children with him.

Melchizedek Priesthood: The higher of the two LDS priesthoods. Without this Priesthood, exaltation (i.e., becoming a God) cannot be attained nor can any male enter into the LDS temple (except worthy Priest of the Aaronic Priesthood may enter, only to perform Baptisms). The worthy candidate (only white males until 1978) must be 18 years of age and hold the Aaronic Priesthood. The offices of the Melchizedek Priesthood include: Elder, Seventy, and High Priest. This Priesthood was conferred on Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery in June, 1829 by the Apostle Peter, James and John.

Moroni: Son of the Book of Mormon character, Mormon. In 1823, the angel Moroni appeared to Smith and delivered the records (i.e., gold plates) of ancient America (600 B.C. to A.D. 421) to him. Smith translated the gold plates in 1827 and thus in 1830 the Book of Mormon emerged.

One God: There is only one God, for this world. Other Gods in other worlds have nothing to do with us in this world. Only the God for this world is to be worshipped and prayed to.

Only Begotten Son in the Flesh: Jesus Christ is called “Only Begotten in the flesh” because he was the only one (firstborn) of Elohim’s spirit children that was begotten (by sexual relations) both in the spirit and in the flesh. God the Father had sexual relations with the Virgin Mary to procreate Jesus’ physical body. Second LDS President, Brigham Young declares:

and when he took a tabernacle [body], it was begotten by his Father in heaven, after the same manner as the tabernacles of Cain, Abel and the rest of the sons and daughters of Adam and Eve. . . . (Journal of Discourses, 1:50; emphasis added).

The birth of the Savior 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. . . . (ibid., 8:115; see my article The Paternity of Jesus Christ).

Outer Darkness: The final dwelling place for the Devil, his angels, and the sons of perdition (see Hell).

Plain and Precious things: The many truths that were deleted from the original Bible.

Pre-Existence: The pre-mortal existence of mankind, as spirit children of God the Father. This is, before they come to earth. No one remembers his or her pre-existence life, also referred to as the “first estate.”

Prophet: One who speaks for God. The President of the LDS Church is God’s Prophet on earth. As with the Old Testament prophets, the LDS President is a Prophet in a technical and literal sense.

Salvation: “There is no salvation outside The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” (Mormon Doctrine, 670). “Salvation” in its truest sense is exaltation, which is, becoming a God. True salvation, is synonymous with exaltation and eternal life. There are two types of salvation:

1, General salvation: Because of the Atonement of Christ, all men will be resurrected to immortality and will dwell in one of the three levels of heaven (except the “sons of perdition”).

2, Individual salvation: Where men have the opportunity to work for their salvation and progress to Godhood (exaltation). This type of salvation is what Jesus and the apostles preached about. This “true” salvation can only be attained by meritorious works. The Book of Mormon is clear:

for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do (2 Nephi 25:23; emphasis added).

LDS Apostle Bruce R. McConkie informs the Mormon people that:

Salvation in the celestial kingdom of God, however, is not salvation by grace alone. Rather, it is salvation by grace coupled with obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel (Mormon Doctrine, 671).

Saved by Grace: Because of the grace of Jesus Christ, all men will be resurrected to immortality. Immortality comes by grace alone. Therefore, we are saved (general salvation) by grace.

Sealings: Those ordinances performed in the LDS temple whereby husbands and wives are sealed together in the marriage union for time and eternity. To become a God the man has to be married and sealed in the LDS Temple–hence, there are no single Gods.

Scripture (God’s Word): The Standard Works of the LDS Church (see Standard Works). Scripture is also the spoken word by the men of God, when moved by the Holy Ghost, which would include the President and the General Authorities of the LDS Church.

Standard Works: The Book of Mormon; Doctrine and Covenants; Pearl of Great Price; and the KJV Bible, as far as it is translated correctly.

Spirit World: The abiding place of disembodied spirits that await the day of their resurrection. This world is divided into two parts: Paradise for the righteous (faithful Mormons) and Hell (“spirit prison”) which is the temporary abode of the wicked (see Hell).

Trinity: Three separate Gods. These three Gods are: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost. They are one in purpose and unity. But they are not one in nature (see Godhead).

Zion: The city of New Jerusalem, to be built in Jackson County, Missouri, is to be called Zion.