Monday, December 3, 2007

LDS Question: Are Jehovah and Elohim seperate Gods?

LDS Question: Are Jehovah and Elohim seperate Gods?

LDS theology teaches that Jehovah is the preincarnate Jesus Christ, while Elohim is the formal name for the Heavenly Father. LDS theology also teaches that they are not the same God, which is blasphemous, but two distinct Gods who both comprise two Holy Personages of the Godhead.

In the King James Version of the Bible, the word Jehovah is the Elizabethan approximation of the actual Hebrew word YHWH, which is also translated as LORD. The word "God" is almost always a translation of the word "Elohim" from Hebrew. How does the average Latter-day Saint reconcile the verse Deuteronomy 6:4, "Hear, O Israel! The LORD (Jehovah) is our God (Elohim), the LORD is one!" with his or her LDS understanding of the meaning of those words? Is Jehovah actually God, or is the Bible incorrect and not to be trusted? Note, also, that the phrase "the LORD (Jehovah) our God (Elohim)" occurs numerous times throughout the Bible.

My Response

Ma shlomcha? Ani tove maiod. Ani ohev ze tanakh.

Hello Ryan. I respect your zeal for doing what you think is
right. Some of the greatest missionaries in the world are those who exerted tremendous effort in doing what they believed was right and the Lord's work. When they were corrected they became very helpful and powerful. Saul of Tarsus comes to mind. Saul had trouble accepting Jesus as the prophesied Messiah (due partly to an extremely strong personality and very thorough training at the feet of Gamaliel -a prominent Jewish scholar of the time). He fought against the young church to the point where he sought their executions throughout the lands. On one such journey he was confronted by Jesus Christ himself who set him straight on whom he was fighting against. We now know him as Paul, one of the greatest missionaries to ever walk the earth.
I myself am a convert to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I mention this so it is understood that I know both sides of the argument.

Now, after my long winded introduction I will answer your question by showing that the answer is in the question itself.

I commenced my response with a little bit of Hebrew (which I have studied). Translated, "how are you? I am very good. I love the Bible."

El, Eli, Eloi, Eloah are all forms of the word "god."
*Christ, agonizing on the cross cried out "Eli, Eli, lama sabacthani?" which is translated "My (God), my (God), why hast thou forsaken me?" -Matt 27:46
*Bethel - "house of God"
*Israel - "to prevail with God"

What's interesting is when the "im," or "him," is added to a word, it pluralizes it.

*Yehuda = Jew, or Judah
Yehudim = jews

The addition of "him" to El, or Elo, does two things: It makes it greater -god, the (almighty). It also pluralizes it. Hence, a more accurate translation would read "The gods created man in their image." This more accurate translation has partly come through in the King James Version:

"And God said, Let US make man in OUR image, after our likeness..." -Gen 1:26

By the way, Elohim is not the "formal name for the heavenly father," though It is a title that is often used to refer to him. These are semantics, but you sound like you wouldn't settle for anything less than a thorough and accurate answer.

I personally do not believe that God is schizophrenic and that he refers to himself (one individual) as "us," as did the man possessed of an unclean spirit who referred to himself as "legion: for we are many." -Mark 5:9 It would also seem contradictory for Jesus to pray to himself and proclaim, "this is my beloved son" from the heavens when he was
baptized. -Matt 3:16-17 There was at least one other entity with God the Father at the time of the creation. It is strange that so many nay-sayers go up in arms at the thought of another god (not a pagan god or idol, but one just like Heavenly Father). Much of this opposition probably comes from a lack of true understanding of who God is and what his purposes are.

Let's tackle the second part of your question now.

Since the fall of Adam, Jehovah (Jesus Christ) has been the mediator between Heavenly Father (Elohim) and mankind (his children). It was already planned in what we refer to as “the counsels in heaven.” He was the “lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” –Revelation 13:8

I don’t believe you would disagree with me then that Jehovah was the God who dealt with man. -See Exodus 6:3. That Jehovah came to earth and took on the earthly name of Jesus (which is also a poor translation) is probably also agreed upon. –see Isaiah 12:2: “Jehovah is my strength and my song; he also IS BECOME my salvation.”

Jehovah is not properly translated as “the Lord.” YHWH, which you mentioned, is often referred to as the tetragrammaton. The ancient Jews considered the utterance of this name so holy that if used improperly it was punishable by death. “Adoni,” which does mean “lord” or “majesty,” was often substituted for it. It is a somewhat irrelevant point in this situation. What IS relevant are the words that follow. You quoted Deut. 6:4: “The LORD is our God, the LORD is one. I’ve just explained that “the LORD” is Jehovah. We both agree on this. However, “our God” is not translated from Elohim in the Hebrew text. It comes from Elohe-"NU,” which is first person plural. Adding “nu” to a word is simply saying “our.” And remember that El is not a name, but a title. The King James translators did a good job with this phrase. It is simply stating, “The LORD (Jehovah) is our God.” So, there is no contradiction.-and this goes for the other times this phrase is used as well. "God" in this situation is not referring to Elohim (God the Father).

Stating the “the Lord is one,” is saying that the LORD (Jehovah) is almighty/all-powerful. -As opposed to idols. Remember that this is directed to the Israelites (“Hear, O Israel!”) who frequently fell into false idol worship.

To sum up: “Jehovah is our God, and he is almighty.”

Yes, Jehovah (Jesus Christ) is a distinct, separate being from Elohim (Heavenly Father), and yes he is God, or “a” God if you want to be specific, and is equal, or possessing the same abilities and perfection as our Heavenly Father.

Philippians 2:5-6 “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be EQUAL with God”

If you have plowed through this entire thing I thank you for your time. I wanted to answer your question thoroughly and satisfactorily.

If you’re still curious how Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost can be distinct personages and yet still be called “one,” I find the “Great Intercessory Prayer,” also called the “High-priestly Prayer,” found in John 17 to clear that up (especially v 11 and 21).

And yes Ryan, the Bible can be trusted. It is just important to keep things in context (and additional light from modern revelation definitely helps). The Bible has been through numerous translations and interpretations. One verse (or group of similar versus) can be confusing. For example, Exodus 15:3 states that God is a man of war….” 1 John 4:8 states that “God is love.” Someone who is not very familiar with the Bible might read that and think the Bible is not divinely inspired because it contradicts itself. You and I know otherwise.

Best Wishes,

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