Part of the Mormon blogging community has been picking over the Nicene Creed and all that stuff about homoousian, the created or uncreated nature of members of the Trinity, and other “heavy stuff” that you may or may not want to wade into. One big sticking point between us and traditional trinitarian Christianity seems to be whether God created Jesus or not. They don’t think He did. We do. The Mormon explanation of Christ’s divinity blurs the line between God and man quite a bit more than many traditional Christians are comfortable with. I assume it was these controversies that recently led one evangelical blogger to pointedly ask: How many Gods are there anyway?
Well, for Mormons, the answer is a tad murky. It seems to depend on your definition of “God,” for one thing. It also depends on which sources of LDS authority you are citing (my understanding is that they aren’t all in agreement). So we tend to equivocate on the question a bit – and are invariably accused of dishonesty by our critics. But for me, one question in particular has been nagging me:
Whom do we worship?
Well, God the Father obviously. But do we worship, say… the Holy Ghost?
I don’t think we worship the Holy Ghost…
What about Christ?
I would imagine this isn’t as much of an issue for a traditional Christian, since under the Nicene Creed, they believe all three beings in the Godhead are “one God.” So the question of which one you are worshiping is rather irrelevant. But for Mormons with their independent and distinct personalities in the Godhead, the question does seem to require an answer.
My understanding growing up, was that we do not worship Christ. Neither do we pray to him. Christ is presented to the Mormon student as a conduit to the Father. He is personalized as our “Elder Brother.” Scriptures where Christ deferred to the Father – such as John 14:28 – are emphasized. Furthermore, we are all on this path to godhood together. Perhaps Christ is simply further along that path than we?
But wait a minute… Something doesn’t quite sound right about that… What about what Bruce R. McConkie said in Mormon Doctrine, under the heading “Worship?”
The Father and the Son are the objects of all true worship. “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.” (Matt. 4:10; Luke 4:8; Ex. 34:14; Mosiah 18:25; D&C 20:17-19.) No one can worship the Father without also worshiping the Son. “All men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him.” (John 5:23.) It is proper to worship the Father, in the name of the Son, and also to worship the Son. “Believe in Christ, and deny him not; and Christ is the Holy One of Israel; wherefore ye must bow down before him, and worship him with all your might, mind, and strength, and your whole soul; and if ye do this ye shall in nowise be cast out.” (2 Ne. 25:16, 29.)
Hmmm… well that’s awkward. So we do, in fact “worship” Christ. At least, according to Elder McConkie we do, and I’ll admit, he makes a strong case for it. But this doesn’t satisfy the question either. What is “worship” anyway. Elder McConkie, in the same entry in Mormon Doctrine, defines it simply as “paying divine honors to a deity.” Which I suppose easily includes Christ, even by the Mormonism I grew up with. But I’ve still got this nagging sense of protocol and hierarchy telling me that I really should only be worshiping the person at the top – which would be God the Father.
So I ask again: Whom do we worship anyway?