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Introducing Christianity to Mormons: Chapter 4

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Chapter 4: The Attributes of God: Attributes Worthy of Worship

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According to the Bible, some of God’s attributes are unique to Him while other characteristics can belong to humans as well. When biblical passages ascribe animal or human characteristics to God, it must be understood that the writers sometimes used symbolic language to make it easier to comprehend the Almighty. As far as His origination, the Bible denies that God was once a sinful human or has a body of flesh and bones. Instead, He existed as God before the creation and will remain as the only God throughout eternity. Among His many attributes, God is both just and holy. As far as God’s justice is concerned, humans are unable to enter the presence of the all-holy God unless, somehow, their sins are forgiven. Those who die with unforgiven sin will be separated from God throughout eternity in hell.

Discussion Questions Chapter 4

1. Why do Christians consider it blasphemous to suggest that God was once a human who might have sinned in a previous lifetime?

To worship a corrupt version of God demeans God’s very essence. Throughout the Old Testament especially, God jealously guarded this aspect of who He is, condemning the idolaters who claimed to know Him through Baal and Asherah worship. Go back to Tozer’s quote where he said, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.  . . . Worship is pure or base as the worshiper entertains high or low thoughts of God.” It is impossible to worship in a correct manner unless we have a correct understanding. To worship the Canaanite’s Baal, the Muslim’s Allah, or the Mormon’s Heavenly Father (i.e., this being was not always God, he has a body of flesh and bones, etc.) is blasphemous and is therefore unacceptable.

2. What is the difference between a communicable and incommunicable attribute of God? If you could choose only three of God’s attributes, which would you say are your favorites and why?

Communicable attributes characterize God but are shared in some ways the creatures, especially human beings. Examples include love, holiness, and faithfulness. Incommunicable attributes are those traits He cannot share with others, including omniscience, omnipotence, and omnipresence.

If I could choose just three, they would be:

  • Mercy: For my M.Div. degree, I was required to write a “Statement of Faith” paper describing my basic beliefs by utilizing an integrating motif. Without mercy, it is impossible to have a personal relationship with God due to the separating nature of sin. This means I don’t get the punishment I rightly deserve.
  • Grace: This works hand-in-hand with mercy, as it is getting what we don’t deserve, namely, forgiveness of our sins (through faith) and eternal life with God. “Amazing Grace,” John Newton penned in his famous hymn, “how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.”
  • Faithful: God can be trusted. If He says something, it is reliable and true.

3. What does it mean to say believers should have an appropriate fear of the Lord?

Quite simply, it is having the utmost respect for God. Of course, there is  “fear” when someone is scared of what God can do…and rightly so. But there is much more that is meant, as it refers to a reverence and awe that draws the believer to draw closer to Him in worship. This is an aspect of my own personal life that is continually  a “work in progress.” The more this concept is grasped, the more godly we become.

4. What is anthropomorphism? When the Bible uses human characteristics to describe God, how should this be properly interpreted?

Anthropomorphism is the use of metaphorical language to portray the indescribable God of the universe. While we should generally interpret the Bible in a literal fashion, we must be careful in interpreting it too literally in ways it was never meant to. Thus, when the Bible teaches that God has a face, eyes, ears, and a nose, it might be easy to look into the mirror and think that God somehow looks like me. This seems to be how Joseph Smith understood God when he claimed that He has a body of flesh and bones. Taken the way these descriptions were intended, however, we understand that being created in God’s image is not imagining God as simply a big one of us!

5. If someone said that Christianity’s God is not fair because not everyone goes to heaven, how could a Christian respond in a biblical manner? Is hell fair?

Actually, it is quite “fair” for people to go to hell because that is what every sinner deserves. Thus, hell is fair. What really is not fair is that anyone (true believers) are destined for heaven, as “all have sinned and have come short of the glory of God.” We must understand that, in reality, we should not want God to be fair in His justice because then everyone is doomed.

What have past LDS leaders said about God?


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