Jesus Was Not a Unitarian


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The doctrine of the Trinity has long distinguished conventional Christianity from the world’s other great monotheistic religions, including Judaism and Islam. But in his book Jesus Was Not a Trinitarian, Sir Anthony Buzzard argues for a strict, numerical monotheism and argues against all major forms of trinitarianism. He asserts that the doctrine “God is a single Person . . . ought to be the creed of the Church. That it is not should be cause for alarm. Jesus was a unitarian, believing that God the Father alone was truly God.”1 Similar to the message of the Latter-day Saints, Buzzard’s claim is one of restoration. Indeed, the subtitle of the book is “A Call to Return to the Creed of Jesus.” However, the book declares anything but numerically literal monotheism as antibiblical. This clearly makes the LDS view of the Godhead and of Christ’s divinity heresy in Buzzard’s eyes.2 His insistence on monotheism has some warrant, as it appears to be repeatedly affirmed in both the Old and New Testaments.3 However, as we will argue in our critique, we believe Buzzard’s specific formulation of biblical monotheism is problematic.

When taken as a whole, Buzzard’s claims decree that conventional Christians are seriously in error. Nor do they fit well within Mormon doctrine. Though Latter-day Saints are not monotheists,4 they would agree with Buzzard’s primary theses that the conventional Trinitarian view of God is not biblical, was developed long after Christ’s death, and would have been alien to the mortal Messiah. In this review essay, we compare Buzzard’s unitarian understanding of God with views held by Latter-day Saints and conventional Christians, briefly summarize and critique Buzzard’s biblical case for unitarianism and against the divinity of Jesus Christ, and examine and defend why Latter-day Saints are uniquely committed to both the divinity of Jesus Christ and a plurality of divine persons in the Godhead. By pointing out these contrasts, we hope to demonstrate that the LDS model of the Godhead, including both a divine community and a subordination to the Father, allows for the most graceful resolution of the tensions arising in the debate over monotheism and Trinitarianism.

Buzzard’s Biblical Case for Unitarianism

Buzzard’s stated goal is to define “who the God of the Bible is” and, more specifically, to define “biblical monotheism.”5 Buzzard argues against conventional readings and interpretations of scripture, and he accordingly offers detailed accounts of his views together with citations from supporting scholarship. The book particularly focuses on creeds, both biblical and ecumenical, and argues that anything that contradicts the unitarian “creed of Jesus” is heretical. Though the word creed is found nowhere in the New Testament, Buzzard claims that the Jewish Shema prayer (Deut. 6:4–9) is the creed to which Christ and his disciples strictly adhered, as found in Mark chapter 12: “The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; the Lord our God is one Lord. . . . There is one God; and there is none other but he” (see verses 28–34).6

Buzzard is right to afford the Shema so much attention due to its role in biblical religion, but his interpretation is considered unconventional. Weinfeld explains in the Anchor Bible series that Deuteronomy 6:4–25 “centers on exclusive allegiance to YHWH, which means scrupulous observance of his commandments,”7 and adds that the phrase in verse 4 is best translated as “YHWH our God is one YHWH (cf. Driver 1902) . . . with a clarification, however: the connotation of ‘one’ here is not solely unity but also aloneness.”8 Weinfeld establishes this aloneness by citing parallel language in the kingship context of the ancient Near East, found in a Sumerian inscription, Ugaritic literature about Baal or Mot, and other ancient literature. He concludes that “all of these pagan proclamations cannot of course be seen as monotheistic; yet they are of hymnic-liturgical nature. By the same token, Deuteronomy 6:4 is a kind of liturgical confessional proclamation and by itself cannot be seen as monotheistic.”9 Though Weinfeld believes that Deuteronomy 6:4 fails to introduce other deities within biblical religion, he concedes that “no explicit notion of exclusiveness is attested here.”10

The regular interpretation of the Shema in Mark 12:28–34 also disagrees with Buzzard’s interpretation. Joel Marcus’s commentary for the Anchor Yale Bible points out the peculiarity of the account given by Mark,11 for Matthew and Luke lack the oneness declaration from the Shema (“Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord”). Buzzard does not mention these alternate accounts but draws from Mark’s minority account and its oneness declaration to support Jesus’ unitarianism. Furthermore, Marcus understands Mark’s peculiarities much differently than Buzzard: “Mark’s answer . . . is that Jesus’ authority comes from God; in the very next passage, indeed, Jesus will come close to placing himself on par with ‘the Lord’ (12:35–37). . . . Mark thus foreshadows a daring Christian reinterpretation of the Jewish idea of divine oneness, a reinterpretation that implies a unity between God and Jesus.”12 Where Buzzard sees unitarianism, Marcus sees shared unity.

Buzzard’s case for unitarianism consists of two parts relating to divinity: his biblical case against the divinity of Jesus Christ and his refutation of biblical arguments for Christ’s divinity. Buzzard’s arguments against the divinity of Jesus are based upon the numerical singleness of God, the “begotten” nature of Jesus Christ, and the assumption that divinity must be exclusive. However, research on the wider ancient Near East provides an interesting context for the issue. For instance, scholars generally now hold that early Israelite religion esteemed God as the head of a court of divine beings and did not teach a strict numerical monotheism.13 Mark Smith represents most scholars’ position well:

The earliest texts render Yahweh as a divine monarch enthroned among other heavenly beings. The divine status of the other members of the council is stressed by terms such as “sons of gods,” bĕnê ‘ēlîm (Pss. 29:1; 89:7) and “congregations of the holy ones,” qĕhal qĕdōšîm (Ps. 89:6; cf. Hos. 12:1; Zech. 14:5). Similarly, ĕlōhîm in Psalm 82:1b apparently means “gods,” since it parallels the divine council. All these texts present Yahweh as the preeminent member of the divine assembly.14

Others even argue that the idea of a divine council endured throughout second temple Judaism.15 In light of this research, we find that a more historically informed resolution of the biblical dilemmas of the Trinity is found not in Buzzard’s unitarian interpretation of numerical monotheism but in positing a sharing of divinity via council: subordination without exclusion. In this way, one can preserve a single God in some respects (there is only one Most High Father) as well as affirm Christ’s divinity.

Nevertheless, Buzzard identifies several biblical arguments for the divinity of Jesus Christ and attempts to show that none of them is compelling. These arguments are based on biblical passages wherein Christ is referred to as Lord or even God, Christ is described as being worshipped, and Christ is identified as the Creator of the world or otherwise affirmed to be eternal or to have existed premortally. Buzzard’s general strategy in rebutting these putative proof-texts is to attribute them to misinterpretations or mistranslations of the earliest Hebrew and Greek texts—errors occasioned by translators who read the ancient texts, not in terms of their likely original meanings but in terms of the then-reigning Christian theology. Below are some examples of proof-texts that Buzzard attempts to refute.

1. Passages referring to Christ as “Lord” or “God.” Perhaps the clearest New Testament text affirming Christ’s divinity is Thomas’s exclamation upon viewing the risen Savior, “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28). According to Buzzard’s reading, Thomas carefully addresses two ontologically distinct persons, namely the Messiah (“my Lord”) and the God of Jesus who is at work in him (“my God”).16 Such a reading of John 20 seems strained. One would expect the master teacher to issue a correction if Thomas mistakenly addressed him as God, or at least to confirm Buzzard’s suspicion that Thomas was referring to two separate beings. Jesus did neither. The straightforward reading ascribes both titles to the resurrected Christ.

Another proof-text used in support of Christ’s divinity comes from Psalm 110 and is quoted by Jesus in Mark 12: “The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool” (Ps. 110:1; Mark 12:36). Buzzard argues that the Psalmist’s prophecy is a declaration that the “LORD” (Yahweh) is speaking to the mortal “Lord” Jesus.17 His argument is a linguistic one, drawn from the Hebrew words used in Psalm 110. Buzzard contends that the Psalmist uses the words Adonai (used in place of YHWH, translated as LORD) and adoni (Lord), and “adoni in none of its 195 occurrences ever refers to Deity.”18

Buzzard, who believes that begottenness contradicts premortality, has colored his reading of Psalm 110:1 and its appearance in Mark 12:36. These verses are best understood as affirming Christ’s premortality together with his mortal begottenness: the two concepts need not exclude one another. Joel Marcus explains that for these verses “many exegetes . . . prefer to take their cues from Rom 1:3–4: Christ is both the Son of David and the Son of God.”19 Philosophically, the “two Lords” problem need not imply the nondivinity of the Son, but rather a welcoming of the Son to rule at the Father’s side. Indeed, in their book Putting Jesus in His Place, Bowman and Komoszewski explain that the imagery of sitting at God’s right hand implies just that:

A careful examination of Psalm 110:1 . . . reveals how remarkable Jesus’ claim was and why it seemed to the Sanhedrin to be blasphemous. It was one thing to enter God’s presence and yet another to sit in it. But to sit at God’s right side was another matter altogether. In the religious and cultural milieu of Jesus’ day, to claim to sit at God’s right hand was tantamount to claiming equality with God.20

Given this cultural understanding, Jesus’ divinity appears unproblematic and his subordination moot. The Word Biblical Commentary summarizes that the phrase in New Testament times “affirmed supreme exaltation without calling into question the glory of God the Father. It permitted Christians to confess faith in the absoluteness of Jesus before they had resolved such problems as ditheism or subordinationism.”21 Latter-day Saints and Buzzard would agree that the Trinitarian solutions to these problems, offered by the postapostolic church, are biblically and philosophically unsatisfying. But the Latter-day Saint solution forfeits less of the conventional reading: it maintains divinity for Christ “without calling into question the glory of God the Father.”

2. Passages describing the worship of Christ.22 After his resurrection, Christ appeared to the disciples in Galilee, and Matthew tells us that “when they saw him, they worshipped him” (Matt. 28:17). There is no record of Christ reproving the disciples for this; rather, Jesus appears to assure them that their worship was appropriate, telling them in response, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth” (Matt. 28:18). Buzzard’s rebuttal claims that to worship someone (even appropriately) does not necessarily mean that the person is divine, and Jesus is worshipped in a different sense than the Father.23 In the Greek New Testament and the Septuagint, Buzzard explains, the word for divine worship is latreuō and is used only once in reference to the Messiah, in Daniel 7:14. He asserts that in other references of worship or paying homage, Greek scripture uses douleuō, peithō, or proskuneō.24

The problem with his argument is that, although latreuō appears to be Father explicit, the Father accepts other varieties of worship as well25proskuneō, for example, which means “to prostrate oneself in homage.”26 Kittel and Friedrich’s Theological Dictionary of the New Testament highlights the sacred character of this word used in the New Testament, where the Father and the Son each regularly accept proskuneō.27 Perhaps a more convincing example than mere mortal worship of the Messiah is that of him being worshipped by the angels of heaven. The Epistle to the Hebrews quotes the Father as saying, “Let all the angels of God worship (proskuneō) him [Christ].”28 Bowman and Komoszewski maintain that Hebrews is not saying “that angels happened to worship Jesus . . . but that God told them to worship Jesus.”29 It would take a very robust argument to deny the Father’s endorsement and command for angelic worship of the resurrected Christ. Buzzard’s argument appears to rest on the assumption that worship and divinity do not admit to degrees. If one breaks free of these assumptions, a more comprehensible model appears in which the Father and the Son share in divinity and worship.

3. Passages describing Christ as Creator or otherwise affirming his premortal or eternal existence. Several passages affirm or imply that Christ existed premortally as a divine person. See, for instance, Christ’s words in his intercessory prayer: “And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was” (John 17:5; emphasis added). Despite the clarity of this passage, Buzzard gives a labored explanation that these verses reference “glory in prospect, glory promised in advance. [Jesus] says nothing about regaining glory, temporarily forsaken, but of winning that glory for the first time.”30 Contra Buzzard, the Word Biblical Commentary points out that as Christ prays for glory, his mortal life “entailed a forfeiture of glory that the Son once possessed.”31 The intuitive reading of John 1—that Christ possessed premortal glory—is also supported by mainstream exegetes.

However, the most common reference used to validate the doctrine of Christ’s premortal Godhood is the first chapter of the Gospel of John, verses 1–10, which describes the Word. Buzzard begins by calling the convention of capitalizing the W in Word an artful interpolation, “forcing readers to suppose that a second Person has existed as God from eternity.”32 He reads “the word” as God’s “divine intention and mind,” and nothing more.33 This reading might be fine except that John explains that the “Word” is Jesus Christ: “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). Sadly, Buzzard makes no mention that John equates “the Word” with Christ. This is alarming, considering that, as the Word Biblical Commentary states, the declaration that “the Word became flesh” is “the controlling utterance of the sentence. It is not to be subordinated to the third clause, as though it signified only the condition for manifesting the glory of God in the world.”34 Unconvincingly, Buzzard has overlaid a definition of “the word” that he does not draw from the text of the Bible itself but from his own unitarian viewpoint.

Jesus Christ and the Trinity in LDS-Specific Scripture

Whatever doctrines may be problematic in the biblical record, unique LDS scripture helps clarify them. Mormon scripture definitively establishes Christ’s divinity and antemortal Godhood. Indeed, our expanded and expanding canon enables us to resolve many of the otherwise intractable disputes arising out of conflicting interpretations of the Bible.35 A quick overview of Latter-day Saint–specific passages that explicitly set forth the divinity of Christ will illuminate a very high Christology.

The title page of the Book of Mormon itself declares its aim of “convincing . . . Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations” (emphasis added). In his prophecy of the coming of Christ, King Benjamin declared, “For behold, the time cometh, and is not far distant, that with power, the Lord Omnipotent who reigneth, who was, and is from all eternity to all eternity, shall come down from heaven among the children of men” (Mosiah 3:5; emphasis added). Throughout the Book of Mormon, Jesus is declared to be the God of Israel. Nephi proclaims, “And the God of our fathers . . . yea, the God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, yieldeth himself . . . as a man, into the hands of wicked men, to be lifted up . . . and to be crucified” (1 Ne. 19:10). And the resurrected Lord confirms Nephi’s testimony: “I am the God of Israel, and the God of the whole earth, and have been slain for the sins of the world” (3 Ne. 11:14). The Doctrine and Covenants gives this expansive description the Savior’s divinity:

Thus saith the Lord your God, even Jesus Christ, the Great I AM, Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the same which looked upon the wide expanse of eternity, and all the seraphic hosts of heaven, before the world was made; The same which knoweth all things, for all things are present before mine eyes; I am the same which spake, and the world was made, and all things came by me. (D&C 38:1–4; see also 18:33, 47; 27:1)

Such verses are categorical; clearly there is no room in Latter-day Saint theology for unitarianism. The Latter-day Saint Standard Works reveal a very high Christology and an unarguably clear proclamation that Jesus Christ is divine.

LDS Reconciliations between Trinitarianism and Monotheism

Relevant LDS discourse reveals several models for understanding Christ’s divinity that elegantly navigate and even bring together the unity of monotheism and the variety of Trinitarianism. The first way Latter-day Saints view divinity deals with the relationship between the members of the Godhead. Joseph Smith taught that an “everlasting covenant was made between three personages [Father, Son, and Holy Ghost] before the organization of this earth and relates to their dispensation of things to men on the earth.”36 As a result of their separate roles, they are “one” God in the sense that they do their separate work together as part of the single “work and glory,” namely “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39). Paulsen and McDonald explain that Joseph Smith

understood this covenant to consist of each of the three divine beings covenanting with the others to fulfill specific roles in relation to the salvation of the human family. The Father, according to Smith, is God “the first” and presides “over all,” and it is the Father’s plan of creation and redemption that the Son carries out. Thus, Smith refers to the Son as God “the second” and as “the Redeemer” and “the Mediator.” According to Smith, God “the third,” or Holy Ghost, is “the witness or Testator.” Because of their covenant relationship, a synergetic bond exists between the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, the nature of which is distinctive to the Trinity. This bond was forged not only out of their oneness of minds, hearts, natures, and attributes, but also out of their interdependent missions.37

The second model operates by means of “divine investiture of authority.” In other words, the Father has given Christ the full, complete use of his authority and power, and the right to represent him and act as if he were, in fact, the Father himself. Christ alluded to this investiture of authority when he said, “I am come in my Father’s name” (John 5:43) and “I and my Father are one” (John 10:30). By asserting divine investiture of authority, Latter-day Saints affirm38 a version of monotheism and the divinity of Christ. In this model, Christ and the Holy Ghost are both deity by divine investiture of the Father’s authority, but in the Godhead, the Father is the one fount of divinity. Thus, even though “there be gods many, and lords many” (1 Cor. 8:5), there is one God the Father.

In denying that Christ had to be divine in order to fulfill his salvific mission, Buzzard makes an interesting point: “Another [person or agent] can of course represent Yahweh or act for Yahweh, reflect Yahweh’s character, or carry out the will of Yahweh—and Jesus did all of those things.”39 This resembles the Latter-day Saint understanding of divine investiture of authority or priesthood: acting in the place of God, using authority given from God to man; in effect, doing what God himself would do if he were present. When miracles have been performed, they have always been done by virtue of the Father’s invested authority. Christ himself even acknowledged this fact (for example, see John 5:19). The Father has given Christ all of his power and authority.40 According to Buzzard’s view, however, even such complete investiture of authority does not suffice to make Christ God.

The third way of understanding what Latter-day Saints mean by divinity is that in LDS discourse, including scripture, God is sometimes used as a title (like “President”) and thus represents a description of a certain type of person who meets certain criteria, but not a specific person in particular.41 Book of Mormon writers Alma and Moroni audaciously claim that God could hypothetically “cease to be God.”42 They are not describing pure annihilation (a philosophical impossibility in Mormon theology) but what would happen if he were to be ungodly or unjust, namely, he would no longer fit the description of what the title of “God” entails and would therefore no longer be known by that title or able to function with divine powers. Therefore, as a descriptive title of one who has the attributes of godliness, God can be appropriately used in reference to Christ, as well as to the Father, the Holy Spirit, and even to that “congregation of the holy ones” as referenced above.

Fourth, God has also been used in LDS discourse to refer to persons who stand in a specific relationship. LDS philosopher Blake Ostler explains that godhood belongs to beings who have entered into a “relationship [that] is so profound and the unity so complete that the persons who share this unity have identical experiences, know exactly the same things . . . and always act in complete unison.” Though ontologically distinct, the members of the Godhead are perfectly united—“of one heart and one mind.” And to be so is to be divine.43


Although Trinitarian represents an impassioned effort, Buzzard has attempted to defend a very difficult position. The standing evidence and scholarship is ultimately too much to overcome. His biblical argument for unitarianism is sophisticated and radical, but it cannot hope to supplant what are practically consensus biblical interpretations. His rebuttals to biblical arguments for Christ’s divinity are delicate and often strained because of their seeming implausibility. Though Buzzard has spelled out the attendant problems of Trinitarianism, his solutions discard vital elements of Christ’s gospel. Where other solutions are available, they must be considered. For Latter-day Saints, Restoration scripture and teachings affirm the plausible biblical reading that the Father is God while at the same time Christ shares in that divinity, is appropriately given divine worship, and cooperates with his Father in a Godhead based upon an interdependent social model.

About the author(s)

David L. Paulsen is Professor of Philosophy at Brigham Young University. He received his JD at the University of Chicago Law School and his PhD in philosophy from the University of Michigan. His recent publications include Mormonism in Dialogue with Contemporary Christian Theologies (Macon, Ga.: Mercer, 2007) and “What Does It Mean to be a Christian? The Views of Joseph Smith and Søren Kierkegaard,BYU Studies 47, no. 4 (2008): 55–91.

Jacob Hawken is a graduate of BYU, where he majored in Media Music with a minor in philosophy. Presently he is a freelance composer and sound designer and resides in Bellevue, Washington.

Michael Hansen is an undergraduate senior majoring in philosophy at Brigham Young University with minors in linguistics, logic, and ancient Near Eastern studies. He has worked as a research assistant to David Paulsen for three years, contributing to many of his publications over that time.


1. Anthony F. Buzzard, Jesus Was Not a Trinitarian (Morrow, Ga.: Restoration Fellowship, 2007), 28; emphasis in original.

2. A Journal from the Radical Reformation, the journal of Buzzard’s theological community, has published an article that explicitly denounces Mormonism as “the fruit of the Trinitarian Christian tree” and as “a logical progression of Trinitarianism.” In a gross oversimplification, the article also condemns Mormonism for causing “God to be lowered to the level of people.” Alan M. Goldberg, “Every Tree Is Known by Its Own Fruit: Of Mormonism, Trinitarianism and Polytheism,” A Journal from the Radical Reformation 6, no. 1 (1996): 25, 29. Also, in appendix 1 (page 387) of Trinitarian, Buzzard reproduces an essay by Durousseau noting that the formulation “Jesus is God” was anathemized by the fifth ecumenical council (553 CE) at Chalcedon as Eutychianism or Monophysitism.

3. Deuteronomy 6:4; Isaiah 44:6; Mark 12:29.

4. For a clear statement of the LDS understanding of the Trinity, see Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, “The Only True God and Jesus Christ Whom He Hath Sent,” Ensign 37 (November 2007): 40–42. Compare David Paulsen and Brett McDonald, “Joseph Smith and the Trinity: An Analysis and Defense of the Social Model of the Godhead,” Faith and Philosophy 25, no. 1 (2008): 47–74.

5. Buzzard, Trinitarian, 1.

6. See Buzzard’s analysis of this passage, Trinitarian, 31–35, 39–41.

7. Moshe Weinfeld, Deuteronomy 1–11: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary, vol. 5 of The Anchor Bible (New York: Doubleday, 1991), 328–54.

8. Weinfeld, Deuteronomy, 337.

9. Weinfeld, Deuteronomy, 338.

10. Weinfeld, Deuteronomy, 349–51.

11. Joel Marcus, Mark 8–16: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary, vol. 27A of The Anchor Yale Bible (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2009), 836–45.

12. Marcus, Mark 8–16, 842.

13. See R. Scott Chalmers, “Who Is the Real El? A Reconstruction of the Prophet’s Polemic in Hosea 12:5a,” Catholic Biblical Quarterly 68 (October 2006): 611–30; Otto Eissfeldt, “El and Yahweh,” Journal of Semitic Studies 1 (1956): 25–37; Daniel C. Peterson, “‘Ye Are Gods’: Psalm 82 and John 10 as Witness to the Divine Nature of Humankind,” in The Disciple as Scholar: Essays on Scripture and the Ancient World in Honor of Richard Lloyd Anderson, ed. Stephen D. Ricks, Donald W. Parry, and Andrew H. Hedges (Provo, Utah: FARMS, 2000), 496–501; E. Theodore Mullen Jr., The Assembly of Gods: The Divine in Canaanite and Early Hebrew Literature (Chico, Ca.: Scholars Press, 1980) 207, 226; Blake Ostler, Exploring Mormon Thought: Of God and Gods (Salt Lake City: Greg Kofford Books, 2008); K. Toorn, Bob Becking, and Pieter Willem van der Horst, eds., Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible, 2d ed. (Leiden: Brill, 1999).

14. Mark Smith, The Early History of God, 2d ed. (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2002), 144; emphasis added. Smith has detailed the prekingship Israelite belief in El’s council of gods, the later emergence of Yahweh as Israel’s warrior god, the eventual merging of El and Yahweh, and a final achievement of monotheism in the postexilic era. See Smith, Early History of God, chap. 1; and Mark Smith, The Origins of Biblical Monotheism: Israel’s Polytheistic Background and the Ugaritic Texts, 2d ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002), chap. 10. It is important to note that many Latter-day Saints may not be comfortable with some of the baggage that comes with Smith’s developmental approach to biblical history. These problems are not necessarily insoluble for Mormons but will not be treated here.

15. Ostler, Of God and Gods, 49–54.

16. Buzzard, Trinitarian, 98 n. 13. Buzzard even states that in a proper translation of John 20, Thomas is rebuked. Buzzard acknowledges, however, that Thomas is rebuked not for addressing Savior as God, but for his predisposition toward disbelief.

17. Buzzard, Trinitarian, 86–87.

18. Buzzard, Trinitarian, 87.

19. Marcus, Mark 8–16, 847; emphasis in original.

20. Robert M. Bowman Jr. and J. Ed Komoszewski, Putting Jesus in His Place: The Case for the Deity of Christ (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Kregel, 2007), 244.

21. Leslie C. Allen, Psalms 101–150, vol. 21 of Word Biblical Commentary (Waco, Tex.: Word Books, 1983) 85–86.

22. From the KJV, Matthew alone gives a multitude of examples, each deserving linguistic review: Matthew 2:2, 8, 11; 5:6; 8:2; 9:18; 14:33; 28:9–10; 15:25; 20:20; 28:9, 17.

23. See Buzzard, Trinitarian, 135–48.

24. Buzzard, Trinitarian, 143.

25. For proskuneō in reference to the Father, see Matthew 4:10; Luke 4:8; John 4:20–24; 1 Corinthians 14:25; Hebrews 11:21; Revelation 4:10; 5:14; 7:11; 11:16; 14:7; 15:4; 19:4, 10; 22:9.

26. In fact, the first instance of the word translated “worship” in the Old Testament Hebrew means precisely the same thing, and there is not another word used that is translated as “worship” until midway through the Book of Jeremiah: Gen. 22:5, where Abraham says that he and Isaac will go worship, presumably God, on Mount Moriah, in offering a sacrifice.

27. Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, ed. Gerhard Kittel and Gerhard Friedrich, trans. Geoffrey W. Bromiley, 10 vols. (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2003), 6:763. The reader should understand that Buzzard does not deny that proskuneō is used in reference to the Father. Buzzard’s primary argument is that latreuō is unique. See Buzzard, Trinitarian, 135–48.

28. Hebrews 1:6; the language is originally from Psalm 96:7 and Deuteronomy 32:43. Buzzard does not deal directly with this particular passage as implying worship. The three times this verse is cited in his book, Buzzard overlooks its worship implications and focuses on the phrase that says God “brings the firstborn into the world.”

29. Bowman and Komoszewski, Putting Jesus in His Place, 40.

30. Buzzard, Trinitarian, 287. Buzzard’s argument for prospective pre-existence is detailed. The old Jewish idea that religiously important figures or objects often held a form of pre-existence in God’s consciousness supports Buzzard’s theory. Adolf Von Harnack presented this theme long ago in a special appendix on pre-existence in his landmark work History of Dogma, wherein he contrasts Hellenic and Jewish ideas of pre-existence: “According to the theory held by the whole of the Semitic nations, everything of real value that from time to time appears on earth has its existence in heaven. . . . Its manifestation on earth is merely a transition from concealment to publicity. . . . The old Jewish theory of pre-existence is founded on the religious idea of the omniscience and omnipotence of God, that God to whom the events of history do not come as a surprise, but who guides their course.” Buzzard, Trinitarian, appendix 1, 318.

31. George R. Beasley-Murray, Word Biblical Commentary: John, vol. 36 (Waco, Tex.: Word Books, 1987), 297.

32. Buzzard, Trinitarian, 275.

33. Buzzard, Trinitarian, 274.

34. Beasley-Murray, John, 15.

35. For a fuller development and illustrations of this point, see David L. Paulsen, “Joseph Smith Challenges the Theological World,” BYU Studies 44, no. 4 (2005): 176–212.

36. Larry E. Dahl and Donald Q. Cannon, eds., Encyclopedia of Joseph Smith’s Teachings (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2000), 345.

37. Buzzard, Trinitarian, 47; italics added.

38. James E. Talmage, Articles of Faith: A Series of Lectures on the Principal Doctrines of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1909), 470–71; David R. Seely, “Jehovah, Jesus Christ,” in Encyclopedia of Mormonism, ed. Daniel H. Ludlow, 4 vols. (New York: Macmillan, 1992), 3:721; and Truman G. Madsen, “‘Putting on the Names’: A Jewish-Christian Legacy,” in By Study and Also By Faith: Essays in Honor of Hugh W. Nibley on the Occasion of His Eightieth Birthday, ed. John M. Lundquist and Stephen D. Ricks (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1990), 458–81.

39. The 1916 declaration from the First Presidency on the Father and the Son makes the point that the Son is often referred to in scripture as the Father because of this authority, because of his role as the Creator, because of stewardship over those who have entered the gospel covenant, and because of divine investiture of authority. The First Presidency makes clear the fact that the creation of the earth, clearly ascribed to God in the Bible, was enacted by the premortal Jesus Christ. See James R. Clark, comp., Messages of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 6 vols. (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965–75), 5:26–34.

40. See Alma 42:13, 22, 25; see also Mormon 9:19.

41. K. Codell Carter, “Godhood,” in Encyclopedia of Mormonism, ed. Daniel H. Ludlow, 4 vols. (New York: Macmillan, 1992), 2:553–555; Donald W. Parry and Joseph Fielding McConkie, Guide to Scriptural Symbols (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1990), 113.

42. Ostler, Of God and Gods, 10.

43. Paulsen and McDonald, “Joseph Smith and the Trinity,” 54.


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