September 16th, 2006

Worship the Father or Jesus?

Jesus statue

Do members of the LDS church worship Heavenly Father or Jesus Christ?

There are numerous scriptures explaining that we worship the Father while believing in Christ:

But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. (John 4:23)

…and when that day shall come that they shall believe in Christ, and worship the Father in his name, with pure hearts and clean hands… (2 Ne. 25:16)

Behold, they believed in Christ and worshiped the Father in his name, and also we worship the Father in his name… (Jacob 4:5)

And you shall fall down and worship the Father in my name. (D&C 18:40)

And we know that all men must repent and believe on the name of Jesus Christ, and worship the Father in his name, and endure in faith on his name to the end, or they cannot be saved in the kingdom of God. (D&C 20:29)

The only time in the scriptures (that I’m aware of) of Christ being worshipped is when he was in the company of those worshipping him. In the Old World:

And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him. (Matthew 28:9)

And in the New World:

Father, thou hast given them the Holy Ghost because they believe in me; and thou seest that they believe in me because thou hearest them, and they pray unto me; and they pray unto me because I am with them. (3 Nephi 19:22)

While these scriptures may seem to make the answer black and white, President Hinckley throws something of his own into the mix. In his July 2006 article “In These Three I Believe“, he stated that he worships both the Father and Jesus Christ. Referring to Heavenly Father, he said:

This is the Almighty of whom I stand in awe and reverence. It is He to whom I look in fear and trembling. It is He whom I worship and unto whom I give honor and praise and glory. He is my Heavenly Father, who has invited me to come unto Him in prayer, to speak with Him, with the promised assurance that He will hear and respond.

And referring to Jesus, he said:

He is the Savior and the Redeemer of the world. … I worship Him as I worship His Father, in spirit and in truth. I thank Him and kneel before His wounded feet and hands and side, amazed at the love He offers me.

So do we worship both Heavenly Father and Jesus? It might help to determine what ‘worship’ is. President Joseph Fielding Smith defined ‘worship’ by saying:

We believe that worship is far more than prayer and preaching and gospel performance. The supreme act of worship is to keep the commandments, to follow in the footsteps of the Son of God, to do ever those things that please him. It is one thing to give lip service to the Lord; it is quite another to respect and honor his will by following the example he has set for us.

The Oxford Dictionary defines ‘worship’ as “the feeling or expression of reverence and adoration for a deity”.

So whom do we worship? Do we only worship the Father in Jesus’ name? Or can we worship Jesus as well? Since they are “one”, is it wrong to worship Jesus as well as the Father? Is such an act misguided and disrespectful?

If to worship is to have feelings of reverence and adoration, can we not have these feelings for both God and His Son? If, as Pres. Smith says, to worship is to keep the commandments, and we are given God’s commandments through Jesus, can we not worship both of them?

Note: for further discussion on this topic, visit Blogger of Jared or By Common Consent.

3 Responses to “Worship the Father or Jesus?”

  1. Connor
    September 18, 2006 at 7:35 am #

    I just came across another verse that mentions worshipping Christ:

    And now behold, I say unto you that the right way is to 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 Nephi 25:29)

    and also:

    Therefore the true believers in Christ, and the true worshipers of Christ, (among whom were the athree disciples of Jesus who should tarry) were called Nephites, and Jacobites, and Josephites, and Zoramites. (4 Nephi 1:37)

  2. Chip
    September 19, 2006 at 5:54 pm #

    And to add to your question, “Which role is more important to us? the role of Jesus as our spiritual brother or the role of Jesus as our spiritual father?”

  3. Chip
    September 21, 2006 at 4:23 am #

    I believe that Jesus has shown the example for worshipping the Father. Jesus, I believe, knows His “place” with the Father, and that we can emulate His worship of the Father. In general, the Father is the object of our worship, and the Son is the means to our worship. To worship is to pay homage to the Father. We pray and we bless “in the name of Christ” which is, I believe, the key to being recognized or identified by God the Father. To worship in the name of Jesus probably means “using” or referencing the name of Jesus which gives us license or authority to approach God. The name of Jesus is used to validate our woship, to authorize our prayers and requests. I think the phrase “to take the name of the Lord in vain” actually means to use this authority vainly. On a side note, it may also refer to the act of abusing the authority of the priesthood by practicing unrighteous dominion as defined in D&C 121.

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