Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Christ as Father

Father's Day has come and gone, without a single reference here. Can't let that happen. So here is a thoughtful and interesting look at Christ as our Father.

That Jesus Christ is our father, metaphorically speaking, is something I find beautiful and not the least bit troubling, but some may be confused still.

It's not something we talk about often because we worry that it comes too close to the concept of the Trinity or three persons in one being. We want to be sure no one misunderstands our concept of the Godhead, that is three personages one in purpose rather than essence.

But it is doctrine that is taught all through the scriptures. So let's look at it. 

Below are a couple of articles that may clarify.

Larry E. Dahl, The Morning Breaks, The Shadows Flee

The four listed meanings of the term Father include:

1. Father as Literal Parent—referring to God the Father, or Elohim, as the father of our spirits

2. ‘Father’ as Creator—referring to both God the Father and to Jesus Christ;
Jesus Christ is often referred to as the Father because he is the Creator of heaven and earth. Amulek taught this truth in response to Zeezrom’s question, “Is the Son of God the very Eternal Father?” (Alma 11:38):  
Yea, he is the very Eternal Father of heaven and of earth, and all things which in them are; he is the beginning and the end, the first and the last;  
And he shall come into the world to redeem his people; and he shall take upon him the transgressions of those who believe on his name; and these are they that shall have eternal life, and salvation cometh to none else” (Alma 11:39–40).

To Moroni the Savior explained His role as Father, or Creator, of the heavens and earth: “And in that day that they shall exercise faith in me, saith the Lord, even as the brother of Jared did, that they may become sanctified in me, then will I manifest unto them the things which the brother of Jared saw, even to the unfolding unto them all my revelations, saith Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of the heavens and of the earth, and all things that in them are” (Ether 4:7).

In their exposition on the subject, the First Presidency and the Twelve offered this clarifying insight: Jesus Christ, whom we also know as Jehovah, was the executive of the Father, Elohim, in the work of creation. … Since His creations are of eternal quality He is very properly called the Eternal Father of heaven and earth.
3. Jesus Christ the ‘Father’ of Those Who Abide in His Gospel;
King Benjamin provides an example of the idea that Jesus Christ is the Father of all who truly accept the Atonement. Benjamin speaks of those who are “spiritually begotten” of the Savior and become “his sons, and his daughters” (Mosiah 5:7) through making and keeping gospel covenants.

This same principle is spoken of by Abinadi when he explains that the Savior’s “seed” (Mosiah 15:10) are those who believe on him and hearken to the words of his prophets (see Mosiah 15:10–14).

Again the First Presidency and the Twelve summarize: If it be proper to speak of those who accept and abide in the Gospel as Christ’s sons and daughters—and upon this matter the scriptures are explicit and cannot be gainsaid nor denied—it is consistently proper to speak of Jesus Christ as the Father of the righteous, they having become His children and He having been made their Father through the second birth—the baptismal regeneration.
4. Jesus Christ the ‘Father’ by Divine Investiture of Authority.
The First Presidency and the Twelve wrote: In all His dealings with the human family Jesus the Son has represented and yet represents Elohim His Father in power and authority. … The Father placed His name upon the Son; and Jesus Christ spoke and ministered in and through the Father’s name; and so far as power, authority, and Godship are concerned His words and acts were and are those of the Father.
Hence, when Jesus Christ begins a revelation with “Listen to the voice of Jesus Christ” and says that “the righteous shall be gathered on my right hand unto eternal life; and the wicked on my left hand will I be ashamed to own before the Father,” then later in the same revelation speaks of “mine Only Begotten Son” (D&C 29:1, 27, 42), it can be understood in the latter verse that it is still the Savior speaking, by divine investiture of authority.

In that same revelation he speaks both for himself and for the Father. It may be in many of the scriptures where it appears the Father is speaking that Jesus Christ is really the voice, speaking in the name of the Father in the first person as if he were the Father. 
Good talk from LDS.org goes on to expound on Christ as the Son, Christ as the Father, and Christ as Redeemer. Well worth the read.

Reese Dixon, My Father's Day Sermon

...the record might not show Christ as a literal father, we can still turn to him as our example in all things. Throughout the scriptures, Christ is referred to as a father. Isaiah, in a passage quoted famously by Handel, refers to Christ as “Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” [Isaiah 9:6]
[1Cor 4:15] For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.
[Mosiah 15:11] Behold I say unto you, that whosoever has heard the words of the prophets, yea, all the holy prophets who have prophesied concerning the coming of the Lord—I say unto you, that all those who have hearkened unto their words, and believed that the Lord would redeem his people, and have looked forward to that day for a remission of their sins, I say unto you, that these are his seed, or they are the heirs of the kingdom of God.
[D&C 11:30] But verily, verily, I say unto you, that as many as receive me, to them will I give power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on my name. Amen.
Corinthians tells us that Christ bears us into the gospel. Mosiah says that we become His heirs and His seed when we hearken to those that testify of Him. The D&C tells us that if we believe in him we become His sons and daughters. Christ becomes our metaphorical father when we believe in his name. The baptismal ceremony is replete with symbolism of birth. We enter the waters of baptism and are reborn in His name.

She goes on to expound on Christ as a teacher, nurturer and exemplar. Good talk.

And last...

Teachings of Joseph F. Smith, The Father and the Son

“… I am in the Father, and the Father in me, and the Father and I are one” [3 Nephi 11:27].

I do not apprehend that any intelligent person will construe these words to mean that Jesus and his Father are one person, but merely that they are one in knowledge, in truth, in wisdom, in understanding, and in purpose; just as the Lord Jesus himself admonished his disciples to be one with him, and to be in him, that he might be in them.

It is in this sense that I understand this language, and not as it is construed by some people, that Christ and his Father are one person. I declare to you that they are not one person, but that they are two persons, two bodies, separate and apart, and as distinct as are any father and son.

[The Father and the Son] are one—in attributes. They are one in love, one in knowledge, one in mercy, one in power, one in all things that make them united and powerful, glorious and great, because in them is perfected all truth, all virtue and all righteousness.

Food for thought. Comments?


1 comment:

  1. Wonderful quotes and thoughts! It is so easy to skip over the fact that we all have a Father in common, and I love just the knowledge that we are His children. It gives me so much comfort!


Share your thoughts, but please be respectful.