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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?