Saturday, December 10, 2005

My Father, My God, part II

We know that God is our Father. With plenty of scriptural evidence, I have clearly illustrated this fact in part I. We’ve learned that he is corporeal, with a “body of flesh and bone as tangible as man’s” (D&C 130:22). It has been shown that we are begotten in his image. We are his offspring. All these were shown in part I. But knowing that he is our Father is different from knowing him as our Father. In other words, part II is devoted to the effects of having a relationship with our Father.

Now this may seem odd, but I will use some of the different names or titles of God to express our relationship with him, starting with the less personal, and drawing closer and closer.

God and Lord. These are titles that can refer to either the Father or the Son. They are the same titles that are also used for the heathen gods or lords of earthly dominion (at least when not LORD in all caps, in which case it is actually a translation of Jehovah). Despite the commonality of the occurrence of these words, that does not diminish the value of referring to him as such. The true God is the creator of all things, and reigns over all. His lordship extends to the infinite bounds of the Universe and we are his subjects.

Elohim. That is the name-title of God. It was used extensively by the Hebrews to refer to the God of their fathers. Elohim is actually is plural for Eloah, and both are usually translated as God in the Bible. In reference to the true God, the word “Elohim” is used 2,570 times in the Old Testament, as opposed to the 57 times that “Eloah” is used. It is a glorious title, and though the name is written as plural, it is to signify his greatness and glory, the God of gods, the Most High God (see Psalms 136:2, for instance). His name shows his deservedness to be worshipped, respected, and honored. It truly calls to mind his magnificence, and it should not be used wantonly or disrespectfully. It is the name to which he is referred in the temple, and we should treat that name with reverence and respect, honoring his glory through it.

Ahman. This is a name that is generally unused, and is not even particularly well known among the general population of the Church. It only has a couple of references within scriptures. What would be more enlightening is this quote by Orson Pratt: “There is one revelation that this people are not generally acquainted with. I think it has never been published, but probably it will be in the Church History. It is given in questions and answers. The first question is, ‘What is the name of God in, the pure language?’ The answer says, ‘Ahman’” (Journal of Discourses 2: 342-343). Immediately following, Elder Pratt explains that Christ is called “Son Ahman,” explaining D&C 78:20 and 95:17. In those revelations, it is the Son Ahman, or Son of God who is speaking to us. But what does this name mean? Well, the certainty of it is unknown, but Bruce R. McConkie feels that Ahman is Adamic for Man of Holiness (Mormon Doctrine, “Ahman”). Reference to Man of Holiness comes from Moses 6:57. The significance of this shows what God is: an exalted Man. God is a Man, one who has undergone mortality, and even now has a body. He is not a mere essence or substance. He has flesh and bone (see part I), and therefore has a great deal in common with us. He is a Man, and likewise we are gods (John 10:34), making us of the same race. Ultimately, we can be like him. But understanding this relationship leads to an even more personal name.

Father, or Heavenly Father. What a title! Of all his glorious names, the most commonly used and seemingly preferred is Father. A little doctrine may be discussed here. God is the Father of our spirits, as has already been illustrated in part I. In both respect and in love, I call my earthly parents father and mother, or other terms of similar nature. I never call them by their first names. Similarly, I call Heavenly Father my Father out of both respect for his authority, as well as out of love for our relationship. It is interesting to note that we actually have disowned him. This may sound somewhat shocking, but it is true. Upon our sinning and yielding to our fallen nature, we cast off that sacred relation. But through the Atonement of his Son, we are again adopted back into his family. We are forever his literal offspring, just like a child who may be adopted still has his biological parents, but we are restored to our former status as heirs to his throne through his Son. Let us look at some scriptures. "But as many as received him, to them gave he [Christ] power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name” (John 1:12). “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption” (Romans 8:14-15). As my seminary teacher taught, a puppy grows to be a dog. A child of God grows to be a god. But our place as his children must be restored via Christ. Starting with verse 16 of the preceding chapter, “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ.” As his children, literally and “legally”, we have the right to his throne, heirs to his kingdom alongside his Son.

Those who look at their own scriptures might note that in the quotes from Romans, a particular phrase was left out. Recognizing that we are God’s children, “we cry, Abba, Father” (Romans 8:15). Likewise, we read in Galatians 4:6, “And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.” The name or title of Abba will be my final focus. The Bible Dictionary teaches that Abba is “[a] personal, familial term for father as used in Hebrew…and later by Greek-speaking Christians, as an intimate name for the Father in Heaven.” It is this name that I find to be the most personal. It reminds me of a time when in lonely Gethsemane, our suffering Savior uttered these words: “Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt” (Mark 14:36). Think upon the tenderness of the moment. Many have equated Abba with “daddy” in its intimate nature. Christ, pleading with the Father whom he knew so personally, the one with whom he had the closest relationship throughout his mortal life and all eternity, meekly asked, “Daddy, help me.” It is that same sort of intimacy that Christ restored to us immediately after that cry. His remaining hours were spent bringing us back to the point where we can look to our God, our Creator, our Father, and recognize him as “Abba,” our Daddy. He is our Father, and knowing this will give us the strength to do his will, because we will truly know who we are.

1 comment:

darth_ender said...

There will be a part III, addressing the issue of "Faith in God," with much aid from the Lectures on Faith.