Should Christians pray to Jesus?

EDIT: BE SURE TO READ THE GREAT DISCUSSION WE HAD AFTER THIS ARTICLE WAS POSTED IN THE COMMENTS SECTION

Recently I had the pleasant opportunity to engage in a great discussion at CARMchat with a poster named Gamma4. This individual inquired as to why LDS 0nly pray to the Father, and why we do not pray to Jesus as well. The question was intended as evidence against our claim to be Christian. The reasoning was that if we truly consider Christ to be God, we should pray to him.

Mr. (Ms.?) Gamma was very polite and respectful and I hope to encounter him (her?) again sometime. Below I have copied a piece of an article by Cooper Johnson in which he addresses a similar challenge made by CRI. The tone of Johnson’s article is understandably very defensive owing to the nature of the critic (CRI), but the tone is not representative of my attitude towards Gamma4. Nonetheless, it provides some valuable thoughts on this subject.

This is the link to the article, but below I have quoted the piece of the article that directly addresses the issue:  http://www.fairlds.org/Anti-Mormons/Can_Mormons_Be_Considered_Christians.html

(From here down are the words of Cooper Johnson as quoted at FAIR)

CRI continues with the following interesting proclamation:

Where does this leave Jesus in Mormon Theology? Well, Mormons say they believe that Jesus is Jehovah, the LORD, the God of Israel, yet they refuse to pray to Him, as Jehovah Himself commands in the Old Testament (cf. Deut. 4:7; 2 Chron. 7:14; Pss. 5:2; 32:6; Jer. 29:7,12)–the same Jehovah who knows of no other God besides Himself, the One worshipped and honored by all true Christians (Ex. 34:14; cf. Matt. 2:11; 14:33; Luke 24:52).

Readers are to believe, according to CRI, that Mormons aren’t Christian because they don’t pray to Jesus or Jehovah. I must say that CRI is correct in assessing to whom Mormons pray. We do not pray to Jesus or Jehovah. We pray to our Father in Heaven (e.g. God, the Father). We pray according to the specific instructions given to us by Jesus, Himself. Here is the specific command of Jesus: “After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven…”27 Now, this is, of course, from the King James Version of the Bible. Let us take a look at other Bible translations just to make sure this is clear for our Catholic and Protestant friends that may use those other versions:

“Pray, then, in this way: Our Father who is in heaven…” (NASB)

“Pray like this: Our Father in heaven…” (NLT)

“So talk to your God like this: Our Father in heaven…” (WE)

“Thus therefore pray ye: Our Father who [art] in the heavens…” (YLT)

So, it is abundantly clear in Jesus’ famous Sermon on the Mount that we are instructed, indeed commanded (contrary to CRI’s claim), to pray to the Father. Nowhere in the New Testament are we instructed to pray to Jesus. Nor, am I aware of any passage of scripture in the New Testament that records any person approaching Jesus Christ in prayer as opposed to the Father.

Yes, it is correct to say that Israel prayed to Jehovah, who was the same person as Jesus. But should we do all that the Israelites did? Should we perform all that the Jews did for Jehovah? Should we continue animal sacrifice? Should we continue in the practice of circumcision? No, of course not. The Law of Moses was fulfilled in Jesus. So, just as many of the practices under the Law of Moses should not be practiced today, due to the teachings of Jesus and His apostles and prophets, nor should we use the Old Testament as our guide at the expense of Jesus Christ’s words and commands to pray to the Father.

There is no other command, in regard to whom we should pray, but that of Jesus to pray to the Father. Latter-day Saints have been taught in kind. We do indeed pray to the Father. Does that make us unchristian?

Now, one might rightly ask, “what about Jesus Christ? Why should we leave him out?” The answer is simple: Latter-day Saints don’t leave Christ out. Again, it is Christ’s instructions that Latter-day Saints follow. Just as He taught us, we pray to the Father, in the name of Jesus Christ. Jesus said:

“And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.”28

Further, when Jesus was instructing the apostles, he repeats this theme with more detail:

“Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.”29

I can’t help but wonder in this situation (when people claim I’m not Christian because I don’t pray to Jesus), why would Jesus tell the apostles to pray to “the Father, in my name,” if He really wanted them to pray directly to Him? The answer is obvious, is it not? Jesus wanted them to pray to the Father. Nowhere does Jesus command us or even suggest that we pray directly to Him.

Why? Because just as we come unto God, the Father, through His Son, Jesus Christ for salvation and Eternal Life, we also come unto God, the Father, through His Son, Jesus Christ, in prayer. It is perfectly consistent.

It is important to share one last piece of instruction, by Jesus unto His apostles. As Christ prophesied to them of his death and how soon they would not see him any longer, for He would go to be with His Father. He tried to console them at this disheartening news and then told them:

“And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.” (John 16:23)

Once again, we find the clear distinction between asking Christ and asking the Father. Jesus clarifies that once He is gone out of their presence and ascends to Heaven, they are not to ask Jesus for anything. They are to pray unto the Father in His name. This is the third time Christ repeated this charge to His apostles. Certainly, this must be important, to be repeated time and time again by Jesus. Yet CRI and other groups have decided to exclude The Church of Jesus Christ from being considered Christian, for simply following the clear Biblical teaching on the matter, from the lips of Jesus Christ Himself.

We have Christ commanding us to pray to the Father, by example. Then we have three separate instances where Jesus repeats this instruction (not to mention other examples of Christ praying unto the Father). But, try as one might, there isn’t one passage that instructs us to pray to Jesus. Not one. Yet CRI wants to make this a prerequisite for being a Christian. Amazing, isn’t it?

Now, if there are those who are Christian and Bible believers who wish to pray directly to Christ instead of to the Father in Christ’s name, then so be it; that is their choice. But to use this practice as a club to beat the Mormons with and declare them unchristian is quite a different thing.

—————————————————————————————————————————

27 Matthew 6:9.

28 John 14:14-15.

29 John 15:16.

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35 comments on “Should Christians pray to Jesus?

  1. Gamma4Ever says:

    Sargon, interesting. But think this way: would Jesus have prayed to Himself in the Lord’s Prayer? No. And just because Jesus did not command us to pray to Him-does that mean we shouldn’t? No! There is only one God and one Lord, just as it is said of in the Scriptures. Take, for example, Isaiah 43:10-11. It says no god was present before God and none will there be after. Now, this apologist is violating one of the most important rules of interpreting the Bible when he gives a bunch of verses that apparently say there is more than one God when there is this verse, which says none. Period. It makes much more sense to accept that these were indeed referring to idols. Again, when he refers to 1 Cor. 8:5-6, and says that though some would claim that Paul is referring to idols, he makes the “distinction” that he was referring to gods that exist elsewhere, he makes a major mistake. The passage is talking about food sacrificed to idols-in other words, the gods of Greek/Roman mythology-not the gods Mormons acknowledge to exist. Additionally, the passage says “if” they exist. Even “if” these gods exist, which in light of the Isaiah passage do not.
    So generally, I am unimpressed. He wrenches these verses out of context and tries to force a new meaning on them-just as he accused the CRI apologist.
    I would like to talk with you further on these matters in the Carm chat room. Thank you for showing me this, though. It’s given us something more to discuss.

  2. James says:

    Gamma,
    Hi! I’m glad you took the time to comment here.

    First of all, let me say that I am a bit confused as to why you chose to address a piece of the article that I did not quote from (namely, the bit about multiple gods), and that does is not immediately related to our discussion. The existence of other divine beings outside of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is certainly fun to debate, but isn’t very relevant right now.

    I wonder if maybe you were confused. After posting the link to the article, immediately below I have quoted the part of the article that is relevant to our question: “Must one pray to Jesus?”

    I will edit the above article in order to clarify the fact that I am actually quoting the relevant part. I ask that you then respond to it.

    James

  3. James says:

    Gamma,
    The point I wish to stress with all of this is that the bible does not anywhere instruct or even explicity authorize anyone to pray TO Jesus. There is one example I know of in which Stephen cries out to Jesus while being stoned to death, but that example is tainted by the fact that Stephen is having a vision at the moment in which Jesus appears to him.
    I personally have no qualms with you or your colleagues addressing your prayers to Jesus or the Holy Spirit. You are welcome to do as you please. However, I caution against rationalizing the practice considering the dearth of biblical evidence. God has not given you license to create doctrine (the doctrine of praying to Jesus) at will.
    As demonstrated in the post above, Christ very clearly gave instructions for the method of prayer. He instructed that we pray to the Father, in the name of the Son. Had he felt that praying to the Son was acceptable, he would have indicated it in that moment. Yet, he did not.
    Mormons should not be considered “non-biblical” or “unChristian” because they do not address their prayers to Jesus. In fact, a small survey of participants at the CARM chatroom reveals that most Evangelicals do not address their prayers to Jesus, yet they consider him God. Mormons practice likewise.

    James

  4. Gamma4Ever says:

    I addressed the god thing because I feel it represents my feelings on how Mormon apologists take so many things out of context. I realize I should have recognized such.
    But in response to the author’s saying that no where in the Bible does it teach that we should pray to Jesus, yes it does. 1 Cor. 1:1-2 calls saints those who place call on Christ Jesus our Lord. Read the passage, and tell me what you think. Thank you!

  5. James,

    It’s an interesting post. I like the new format of the site as well.

    As far as praying to Jesus, if we’re praying to the Father, doesn’t Jesus also hear our prayers? We address the Father as Jesus taught for sure, but I believe that Jesus also hears and answers as the Father and the Son are infinitely more one than they are two. :)

    I appreciate you keeping me updated on the CARM scene. I haven’t been over there in a while.

  6. James says:

    Gamma,
    I appreciate your comments. 1 Cor 1:1-2 does seem indicate that many Christians prayed to Jesus. However, it is not entirely clear that “call upon” is the equivalent of “prayer”. When we pray to God the Father for forgiveness of our sins we are essentially “calling upon” the blood of Christ.

    At any rate, you reject the conclusion “that no where in the Bible does it teach that we should pray to Jesus”. I reply by saying that Paul does not teach that we should pray to Jesus. Paul only mentions the fact that many people do it, which is not the same as endorsing or encouraging or teaching this practice.

    But, I want to emphasize that I have no theological qualms with a prayer addressed to Jesus. In the Book of Mormon there is an moment of intense worship in which disciples pray to Jesus as he stands in their midst, and Jesus does not correct them. What seems clear to me, and to the majority of Christianity, is that Christ gave specific instructions on the proper mode of prayer. Those instructions were to pray to the Father. I believe that Christ allows for a certain degree of theological error in a situation where correcting the mistake would not serve a practical purpose.

    I also want to emphasize that I am NOT attacking your mode of worship. My purpose in this post is to only demonstrate that Mormons should not be disqualified as “Christians” on this basis. I also want to demonstrate that addressing prayers to the Father only is not a negation of Christ’s divinity.

    Thanks Gamma.

    James

  7. GnarlyOcelot says:

    Hey James… great to see the site up and growing. I just had a quick Q.

    You posted John 14:14 where Jesus says: “If you ask *Me* anything in My name, *I* will do it.”.

    But… you didn’t explain it. Isn’t this the very definition of praying to Jesus?

  8. James says:

    Gnarly,
    Hey bud it’s great to see you on here. Hope all is well for you.

    Great question concerning John 14:14. A quick look at all the translations given at BLB for this verse will demonstrate that the verse in question reads essentially like this, “If you ask anything in my name, I will do it.” The verse immediately preceding it further clarifies the question:

    “And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.”

    For me, this is an unambiguous instruction to pray “in my name”, not to pray “to me”. The passage seems to say that we are to address our needs to the Father, in the name of Christ, and then those needs are provided by the Father through his Son Jesus.

    In LDS theology, one of Christ’s most important roles among others is to represent God the Father and act as a mediator. Therefore, we pray to the Father through the Son, and often our prayers are answered by the Father through the Son.

    Hope that makes sense.

    James

  9. GnarlyOcelot says:

    1. Jesus says: “If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.” (Jn 14:14)
    You disagree with this translation (excluding the “me”), but appeal to the BLB (which uses the outdated KJV [translated from class D manuscripts]). The recently deceased Bruce Metzger (’07), if you don’t know, was professor emeritus at Princeton Theological. In terms of Biblical literature, his authority is unparalleled (he’s the guy Bart Ehrman studied under and looks up to). Metzger writes the following:

    The Text of the New Testament (on the textus receptus used by the KJV): “They all dated from the 12th Century or later, and only one came from outside the mainstream Byzantine tradition. Consequently most modern scholars consider his text to be of dubious quality” [p. 99.]

    In this next source, Metzger touches specifically on the topic of John 14:14.
    Metzger, Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament: Either the unusual collocation, “ask me in my name,” or a desire to avoid contradiction with 16:23 seems to have prompted (a) the omission of me in a variety of witnesses (A D K L P Y Byz al) or (b) its replacement with to.n pate,ra (249 397). The word me is adequately supported (î66 a B W D Q ¦13 28 33 700 al) and seems to be appropriate in view of its correlation with evgw, later in the verse.

    So, both by early manuscript witness and text-critical evaluation, the “me” is preferred, wouldn’t you say? The most respected, scholarly, and direct translations today utilize “me” (NET, NASB etc.) and I think we should do the same.

    2. Gamma cites 1 Cor 1:2 where we read “To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours:” (1 Cor 1:2)

    You respond by writing “However, it is not entirely clear that “call upon” is the equivalent of “prayer”. When we pray to God the Father for forgiveness of our sins we are essentially “calling upon” the blood of Christ.”
    First, I’m more than curious as to how you arrived at this interpretation (call on the blood???). I’m not aware of any Christian scholar or otherwise who takes it.
    Second, it is entirely clear what is meant by “call upon”, perhaps more than any other phrase in the Bible. Simply to do a word search on “call upon the name of” and see exactly what it means.
    The following are the last three found in the Old Testament, but the first three (and all the others) are just as “clear”:
    Then I called upon the name of the LORD: “O LORD, I beseech You, save my life!” (Ps 116:4)
    I called on Your name, O LORD,Out of the lowest pit. (Lam 3:55)
    “And it will come about that whoever calls on the name of the LORD Will be delivered; For on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem There will be those who escape, As the LORD has said, Even among the survivors whom the LORD calls. (Joel 2:32)

    Every single time (of the 11 instances), it’s very “clearly” prayer. Further, every time it’s used, it’s “call upon the name of Jehovah [YHWH]”). There is no other subject it ever refers to. This of course matches Acts 7:59 perfectly “They went on stoning Stephen as he CALLED ON THE LORD and said, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!” [emphasis added].

    3. You then write of our verse (1 Cor 1:2) that: “Paul does not teach that we should pray to Jesus. Paul only mentions the fact that many people do it”
    But I’m absolutely puzzled at how one could think Paul means anything else. The verse clearly reads: “…those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor 1:2)” Paul is quite plain in his meaning here, don’t you think? He defines the saints (Christians) specifically AS those who “call on the name of our lord Jesus Christ”. That’s his definition of a saint. Is that not exactly what the text indicates?

    This, of course, brings to mind (and fits quite perfectly with):
    For the Scripture says, “WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; for “WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.” How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? (Rom 10:11-14)

    If there was ever any doubt as to what was meant by “call on the name”, Paul extinguishes it here (by appealing to the Old Testament specifically). We are to pray to Jesus (to call on His name) and by this prayer (among others) we are saved (i.e. we become a saint). Wouldn’t you say this is rather conclusive?

  10. James says:

    Gnarly,
    Hey bud, good to see you again.

    In regards to Metzger, I am aware of his work and his quase-iconic status. I thank you for providing me his comments on John 14:14, and I have no reason to doubt he is correct. However, I still feel it is necessary to cordially challenge your interpretation of the text.

    First of all, notwithstanding Metzger’s very educated opinion, to my ears the text of John 14:14 is very strange:

    14 If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.

    It seems awkward to even suggest that when asking person A for something, you would do it ‘in the name’ of person A. Why even say that? Why would that be necessary? It causes me to wonder how accurate this recording is, unless there is something I don’t understand about the language. What are your thoughts on this?

    A quick reading of chapter 14 is enough to realize that Jesus is in the midst of a thick discourse about his relationship to the Father, and his role as mediator. It is Jesus who will go to prepare a place for them in his Father’s house (2-3), it through Christ that we come to the Father(6), the Father does His work through Christ(10), the Father is glorified by the works of His Son(13).

    Then we get to verse 14 where Christ suddenly gives an instruction that seems strangely out of place, from my perspective. The very next chapter, 15, which possibly is part of the same discourse, has Christ giving unambiguous directions “to ask of the Father in my name(15:16).” As you know, the next chapter(16) has Christ repeating this instruction again(vs. 23). What are your thoughts?

    Furthermore, Christ gives very clear instructions elsewhere on the mode of prayer. When asked, he unambiguously directs them to pray to the Father, and Luke comments that John the Baptist taught his disciples likewise(Luke 11).

    Further commenting on John 16, I want to point out that Christ says something very peculiar:

    22 So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.
    23 In that day you will no longer ask me anything. I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.

    24 Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.

    25 Though I have been speaking figuratively, a time is coming when I will no longer use this kind of language but will tell you plainly about my Father.

    26 In that day you will ask in my name. I am not saying that I will ask the Father on your behalf.

    Sorry I am making this so long. I keep finding more and more to write about! My interpretation of these passage is this: Christ is speaking of the time following his ressurrection. Up until that day, he says that they have been asking him directly for things. However, a day will come after their time of grief when he will “see [them] again”(ressurrection), when they will begin to pray to the Father in his name.

    This is consistent with the account of Christ in the Book of Mormon, in which the people pray directly to him while he is in their midst, and he graciously allows them to. However, he gives very clear directions that they should pray to the Father in his name. Therefore, my conclusion is that when Christ is in your midst, we are welcome to pray directly to him–but when he is not we are to pray to the Father in his name. This is also consistent with Stephen’s prayer during his vision of Christ.

    So what do I make of Paul’s remarks? Well, I believe you short-changed me by only quoting half of my response to Gamman:) The first part of my immediate response was:

    “1 Cor 1:1-2 does seem indicate that many Christians prayed to Jesus. However, it is not entirely clear that “call upon” is the equivalent of “prayer”.

    I clearly agreed with Gamma’s observation, as I do with yours. I think you make a strong case that “call upon” is probably a reference to prayer. However, in keeping with Christ’s instructions I find it improbable that Paul would encourage praying directly to Jesus. Rather, I find it likely that Paul understood that to address the Father through Christ’s name is essentially the same as calling upon Christ. Paul clearly knew that Christ serves as the mediator between God and man (2 Tim 2:5). They are one God, and I don’t think Paul was describing any formula for prayer as Christ so often did. To suggest that Paul was teaching a formula for prayer to me seems to be stretching the text a bit far.

    Thanks for your critique Gnarly, I always appreciate your insights. You help me realize where I err and sharpen my arguments. Take care bud.

    James

  11. GnarlyOcelot says:

    Hey James, thanks for the response.
    As it happens, concerning the “Me” in Jn 14:14, those are exactly the reasons Metzger argues its in the original. He mentions your first point specifically in the quote I provided:
    “Either the unusual collocation, ‘ask me in my name,’…”
    and then your second point just after
    “…or a desire to avoid contradiction with 16:23 seems to have prompted (a) the omission of me in a variety of witnesses (A D K L P Y Byz al) or…”.
    ow, to any who first consider the art of textual criticism, this might sound counter intuitive, but these “difficult readings” are considered one of the surest signs of originality (when compared to a variant). In other words, the copyists thought the same thing you did, which is the whole reason they tried to “fix” it. Look up “Lectio difficilior potior” which means, quite literally, “the more difficult reading is the stronger”. It’s perhaps the foundation of textual criticism. Thus, based on manuscript evidence and textual criticism, we can be confident that the original reads “ask Me anything in My name and I will do it”, which serves as our first compelling evidence in support of prayer to Jesus.

    You then discuss the multiple times that Jesus directed His followers to pray to the “Father”. Now, to begin, there is a logical error at work (I believe). Even if Jesus did encourage prayer to the specific person of the Father, that would be no means be mutually exclusive to prayer to Himself.
    Of course, I would hope you don’t think that every time he uses the word “Father” that He’s only referring to the specific person of the Father anyways (i.e to the exclusion of the Spirit and the Son). Aside from blatant statement that Jesus is the “Eternal Father” (Isa 9:6), I would think it clear that the apostles and Jesus’ audience understood “the Father” to be the God of the Old Testament, which we both know includes (or to you, “is”) the person of Jesus Christ. Assuming you don’t deny this, when we hear Jesus’ instruct us on how to pray to the Father, does He not again mean the God of the Old Testament? Consistency would encourage this interpretation. As the immediate context of Jn 14:14 explains, if we’ve seen Jesus we’ve seen the Father, and the same is true if we pray to or accept Jesus, because they are so largely inseparable (all being “God”). So then, no matter which view you take, Jesus teaching is very consistent with an orthodox Trinitarian understanding of God and prayer.

    Finally, you write: “I think you make a strong case that “call upon” is probably a reference to prayer. However, in keeping with Christ’s instructions I find it improbable that Paul would encourage praying directly to Jesus. Rather…”
    My though, of course, is that you find it “improbable” because you’re relying on more than the Bible. Biblically, its very probable:
    (a) Jesus Himself taught it [as we’ve seen],
    (b) it was done all throughout the Old Testament
    (c) we see it in the New Testament [Stephen],
    (d) and we see it here “to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ”.
    Now you have various “explanations” for all these, but they are very creative and clearly ad hoc in nature. So I’m not saying I can prove your explanations are false (I can’t do that for any religion, because humans are infinitely imaginative), but I can say that your interpretations are not the critical-scholarly ones, nor are they the most simple or obvious ones. Rather, they are viewpoints clearly dependent on LDS revelation and I think most outsiders (even nonbelievers) would agree that, to be appropriate, really requires we first accept Mormon doctrine.

    Anyways, my goal was to write more than you did, so I hope I succeeded. Looking forward to your thoughts, as always. :)

  12. James says:

    Hi Gnarly, Thanks for your response.

    It was Ehrman in “Misquoting Jesus” who gave me my first primer on “Lectio difficilior potior”, so I thank you for the reminder. I agree entirely that the “me” was more likely in the original text, and I suggested that perhaps this(the original text) was a mis-recording of Jesus’ actual words. Again, the awkwardness of the phrase “ask me anything in my name” does make it more likely to be in the original, but still doesn’t make it more likely that Jesus actually said that because whether or not it is in the originial, it still is an inconsistent teaching. That of course is no problem for my theology.
    Now, I would like to allow for the possibility that Jesus did actually say this. Since he was speaking to his closest apostles, and at a time prior to his departure from them, it would be consistent with my conclusion that Christ’s directions to pray to the Father are meant for after his ressurrection and departure(John 16:22-26).
    I do believe that every time Jesus refers to the “Father” in his prayer formulas it is an exclusive reference to the person of the Father in the Trinity(of whichever model). It would be appropriate to call Jesus the “father” in certain situations, but not in these. To any normal listener, there seems to be very little reason to suspect “Father” is a veiled reference to himself in John 14:14; especially in light of the chapter it is placed in, one which very throughtly outlines their distinctness.
    It is most likely true that Jesus’ disciples (mistakenly)understood the “Father” to be YHWH of the OT prophets. For this very reason Christ repeated the formula for prayer so many times. Jesus struggled to make them understand the HE was YHWH (“before Abraham was, I AM.”), but he also very consistently referred to a second personage other than himself, his Father.
    To repeat my conclusion in my last reply, before Christ’s ressurrection it was standard to pray directly to Jesus, YHWH. However after the ressurrection it became the rule to pray to the Father in the name of Jesus. Why? The atonement had been wrought, Christ had submitted his will to the Father’s.

    To summarize my view:
    A) John may have recorded Jesus as saying “ask me anything in my name”
    B) This statement seems to conflict with every other instruction by Jesus on the matter (ex. Metzger)
    C) Christ taught a contrary formula of prayer at least 4(off the top of my head) different times
    D) Allowing that Christ did say it, it still doesn’t permit us to violate John 16:22-26, which reveals that the disciples had not been praying to the Father in Christ’s name, but would soon be required to.

    D) Christ was not referring to himself each time he directed that they pray to the “Father”
    E) Paul was either not violating Christ’s clear directions, or he was. Either way, I go with Christ.

    I don’t think it can be fairly said that I have relied on modern LDS revelation for my interpretation of these passages. In fact, I have only referred to the Book of Mormon once and it wasn’t meant as any sort of compelling piece of evidence for you, but rather as a sidenote.
    We disagree that my conclusions are not simple or obvious. In my view, your strange interpretations demand far greater rigorous philosophical inquiry(in fact, it demands acceptance of the Trinity), and it requires(in my understanding) ignoring Jesus’ repeated instructions. Furthermore, it appears most of Christianity at large would be inclined to agree that we pray to the Father, in the name of Christ. I don’t think I am arguing against the masses of Christianity here.

    Gnarly, as a personal question, do you pray directly to Jesus?

    As always, thanks again for your remarks. I think we can soon agree to disagree, and rejoice in our friendship.

    James

  13. James says:

    I must add Gnarly, that despite what I believe are pretty clear instructions from our Savior in the bible, I thank God day and night (in the name of Jesus :) ) for having once again established living prophets on the Earth to guide us in these latter-days, and to clarify questions such as these.

    James

  14. GnarlyOcelot says:

    Hey James, your response topped my in word-count! We can’t have that now can we?? 

    Let’s start with your Offense. :)

    Jn 16:23
    “In that day you will not question Me about anything Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask the Father for anything in My name, He will give it to you.”

    Your Argument:
    1. Jesus says “in that day” they won’t question Him.
    2. To pray to Jesus is to question Him
    3. Therefore “in that day” they won’t pray to him

    #2 is false. The verb “ask” (erotao) in the phrase “in that day you will no longer ask me anything” means “to ask a question” rather than “to request a favor (see v19 “Do ye enquire [eratao] among yourselves of that I said”).” The verb you were hoping for is found shortly after “My Father will give you whatever you ask” (aitesete).
    The correct interpretation is this: Questioning Jesus like they used to would obviously not be an option anymore (i.e. His death and ascension). Rather “when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth” (v13). This says absolutely nothing about praying to Jesus (Jehovah) as done in the Old Testament and as Christians do today.

    Jn 16:26
    “In that day you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I will request of the Father on your behalf;
    Your argument:
    1. Jesus says in that day they won’t be asking Him to bring their requests to the Father.
    2. If they can bring their requests directly to the Father, they don’t need to pray to Jesus.
    3. Therefore, Jesus is not to be prayed to.

    #2 is false (I believe), since the Father here (I argue) will include Jesus very soon (i.e. the Father is “God in heaven”, so while Jesus is on Earth it only includes the Holy Spirit and The Father [the person]). When Jesus sits back on His throne in Heaven, His role as “the Father” [God] will resume. I’m not sure what else I can do since you’ve already admitted that Jesus distinguishes Himself from the Father in passages where we both know He’s referring to Himself as the Father. You just subjectively determine (when its convenient) the times that He’s being “distinct enough” to really mean just the person. Again, not much I can do.

    #3 is definitely false. If Jesus said “you don’t need me to make requests of the Father”, why would that prevent them from making requests to Jesus as well? It wouldn’t, that’s terrible logic. Not only is it not prevented, but we’ll soon see that it’s encouraged. Jn 16:26, therefore, is no challenge to Christians who pray to God.

    Thus, we no longer have any reason whatsoever to believe that “after the resurrection it became the rule to pray [only] to the Father in the name of Jesus”. So now that your offense has been neutralized, let’s see how you handle the Evangelical offense.

    Jn 14:14
    You agree that “me” was most likely in the original text but claim that its not a problem for you because you’ll just interpret it as a “mis-recording of Jesus’ actual words”. But this sounds suspiciously like you’re denying that even the original manuscript was divinely inspired! And for what reason? Allegedly, because it’s: “an inconsistent teaching” (i.e. for you). If I’m hearing you right, when the Bible contradicts what you believe it teaches, you just claim the unsavory part was corrupt during transmission, and if we can establish that it wasn’t corrupt during transmission, you just say it was a slip-up in the original document! It’s impossible to “correct” you with scripture (2 Tim 3:16), because you’ll just dismiss anything you have to in order to maintain what you believe. That’s pretty… convenient?
    Contrary to what you said in your last message, I think this clearly establishes that your interpretation (of Jn 14:14) is a creative effort to abandon the most straightforward understanding. Right or wrong?

    You then say “I would like to allow for the possibility that Jesus did actually say this”, and then suggest that the admonition to pray to the Father (as opposed to Jesus) was only to take place after the resurrection. The reasons for offering this as only your secondary possibility, I think, are obvious. Jesus just sent Judas out (i.e. to betray Him), these are Christ’s last moments with His disciples, and He says: “Little children, I am with you a little while longer You will seek Me; and as I said to the Jews, now I also say to you, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’… then he continues: “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father. Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.” Thus, Jesus instructions apply specifically when “I am no longer with you” when “I go to the Father” (i.e. at the same time “you will work greater works than I”). It’s all post-resurrection. No commentator in history (and I challenge you to find one) would say otherwise. Additionally, we can be quite certain that the apostles prayed to the Father during Jesus stay, but by all means, please tell me if you sincerely disagree. Jesus’ message has childlike simplicity: “I’m about to resume my throne in heaven, so you can ask me anything you want and I will do it for you.”
    Therefore, again, your interpretation appears to be a creative effort to abandon the most straightforward understanding. Right or wrong?

    1 Cor 1:2
    To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours:

    1. Your assertion [Pt1]: Paul cannot mean that we should pray to Jesus [“I find it improbable that Paul would encourage praying directly to Jesus”]
    2. Your evidence: You have none. There is no Biblical reason to find this improbable (as demonstrated above).
    3. In fact, not only do you not have evidence for your assertion, but we’ve got evidence against it (see above [Jn 14:14])

    1. Your assertion [Pt2]: Paul meant that we are to pray to the Father. [“I find it likely that Paul understood that to address the Father through Christ’s name is essentially the same as calling upon Christ.”]
    2. Your evidence: You have none. There is no Biblical reason to find this probable.
    3. In fact, not only do you not have evidence for your assertion, but we’ve got evidence against it. Note the following:

    I’d again like to point out how creative your being with your interpretations. You agreed earlier that this scripture is a clear reference to prayer. I provided the very last three OT examples of “call on the name of” (please examine them again), and now I want to provide the very first three as well.
    to the place of the altar which he had made there formerly; and there Abram CALLED ON THE NAME of the LORD. (Gen 13:4)
    Abraham planted a tamarisk tree at Beersheba, and there he CALLED ON THE NAME of the LORD, the Everlasting God. (Gen 21:33)
    “Then you call on the name of your god, and I will CALL ON THE NAME of the LORD, and the God who answers by fire, He is God.” And all the people said, ” That is a good idea.” (1 Kgs 18:24)

    To call on the name of someone, is obviously to call THAT someone. Your interpretation makes no discernible sense AND contradicts what we see the phrase always means. Please examine the rest of the scriptures with this phrase in it (you have the resources to do so).

    Also examine Romans 10:
    For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes…. For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; for “WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.” How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GOOD NEWS OF GOOD THINGS!” (Rom 10:12-13)
    The “Him” that Paul is referring to is clearly Jesus.
    (a) The scripture which He quotes specifically uses Jehovah’s name! (“Whoever calls on the name of Jehovah will be saved” [Joel 2:32]). This is about Jesus.
    (b) The one they have not “heard” is Jesus, the one being “preached” is Jesus and the one to be “believed in” is Jesus. [If you need me to prove this just ask, but I can’t imagine I’d need to].
    (c) So here we see specifically that Jesus’ name is called on. From the Old Testament, we know exactly what it means for Jesus to be called on, and we know that it is Jesus that responds.

    Therefore, we have no good reason to believe that Jesus should not be prayed to, and there are multiple [very powerful] reasons that we can know Jesus IS to be prayed to.

    Anyways, this is all new fresh information for our discussion that I look forward to getting your thoughts on. There’s no rush at all to answer, so take your time. If I can help in any way while you study/respond to these issues, let me know [you have my e-mail].
    :)

  15. GnarlyOcelot says:

    Oh sorry, I forgot to answer your question “Do you pray directly to Jesus?” The answer is: Every day.

  16. James says:

    Gosh Blake, I can’t keep up with you!! Hope all is well for you until I find time to write back. I am preparing for mid-terms presently.
    Give me about a week.

    James

  17. AndrewMiller says:

    I find the practice of basing a religious belief on only one variant reading that is disputable risky.

  18. GnarlyOcelot says:

    Andrew, what are you talking about? Its not disputed, that was the whole point. In addition to Jn 14:14 (which again, isnt’ disputed as genuine, not even by James here) three other admonitions/instances of prayer to Jesus have been provided, along with the proof that Jesus is YHWH of the Old Testament who received prayer on a daily basis. As an extra factoid, this practice is confirmed by Pliny’s report that the early Christians prayed to Jesus. So, I’ve provided a solid, multifaceted case that Jesus is to be prayed and, most importantly, demonstrated that no good evidence exists suggesting that he was not.
    Clearly, your post is lackluster because its blatantly dishonest and misrepresentative of the discussion.

  19. AndrewMiller says:

    Since when is expressing an opinion “I find the practice…” “blatantly dishonest”?

    Honestly, I don’t find your other arguments as compelling as John 14:14, and, like I said, I don’t believe it is safe to base a religious practice on one variant reading. Thus, I will not start praying to Jesus any time soon. Like I said, I was expressing my opinion, and that is not in any way “blatantly dishonest” or “misrepresentative of the discussion” since I didn’t claim to be representing the discussion in any way. Chill, dude :)

  20. AndrewMiller says:

    By the way, I seemed to have missed your argument based on Pliny. Could you provide it again?

  21. GnarlyOcelot says:

    Andrew, I never attacked your “opinion” so please don’t misrepresent me yet again. What I attacked, obviously, was your blatant mischaracterization of our discussion. You then assert that “I didn’t claim to be representing the discussion in any way”… but “dude”… look at your sentence:
    “I find the practice of basing a religious belief on only one variant reading that is disputable risky.”
    You’re obviously implying that this is what I’m doing (in my dialogue with James). So please don’t pretend like your statement wasn’t intended to represent it – it was (otherwise you wouldn’t have said it).

    The translation is not based on “one” variant reading. I specifically quoted Metzger as saying: “The word me is adequately supported (î66 a B W D Q ¦13 28 33 700 al)…”.
    So why are you saying it only appears in one variant? Even if it did appear in one variant, your opinion still wouldn’t be a very educated one. There are many factors involved. Suppose we just found a copy of Galatians that dated to 50 a.d. [i.e. right about when it was written], and outside of that copy we only had 5 others that dated to 1,500 a.d. Here we have “one” variant, and you would think it unwise to comfortably decide on its authenticity over the other? That’s absurd. Now only do we have the manuscript evidence for the “me” reading, but we can trace why the change was made so its supported by textual criticism as well. So your statement is false, and even if it were true your following “opinion” is unscholarly.

    Now, you claim that the “other arguments” aren’t compelling. So please tell me which point you disagree with.
    1. That to “call on the name of” someone is to pray to them.
    2. That Christians are to “call on the name of” Jesus Christ.

    Please pick one, or both, and discuss it in your response.

    Keep in mind the Romans scripture also, which encourages us to “call on the name of Jehovah” (the Old Testament quote) and specifically applies it to Jesus today (as something believers are to do). I can establish both of the above points without this Romans quote… but with it, this argument is irrefutable from multiple angles. You are, however, welcome to try. In fact, I encourage it. :)

    As for the Pliny reference, I said: “s an extra factoid, this practice is confirmed by Pliny’s report that the early Christians prayed to Jesus.”. As an ‘extra’ factoid, it is extra to what was presented above (i.e. you wont find it). In short, Pliny was governor of Pontus & Bithyna (111 a.d.). He writes:
    “they were accustomed to … sing responsively a hymn to Christ as to a god”.
    Here, Christians are praying to Christ in song. This evidence, of course, is far behind my primary arguments. You should address them before engaging this one.
    :)

  22. James says:

    Gentlemen, I don’t approve of the direction this has gone. Let’s calm down and realize that we ultimately should be working towards the same goal, we are not enemies.

    Gnarly, later next week, as I said, I will try and give a response to your latest response to me.

    James

  23. AndrewMiller says:

    GnarlyOcelot,

    I was not trying to say that there is only one manuscript that has the variant reading. I refered to one variant. In my mind at least there is a difference between the two. I don’t think it’s safe, like I said, to base a theological concept on one variant reading even if it appears to be the correct one. My general personal practice is to have at least two clear affirmations in scripture before I conceive of an important doctrine or religious practice. I firmly believe that when it comes to religious practice, God is in the habit of giving us clear and multiple witness of what we should do. So, based on that, I would not make a practice of addressing Jesus in prayer based on one variant reading of a text.

    Having said that, you have presented other evidence for praying to Christ. I do not find the rest of your arguments very convinving. First of all, we LDS also sing hymns to Christ. I recommend you read section 25 of the Doctrine and Covenants for more information on this. It also says that “the song of the righteous is a prayer unto [Christ].” Many of our hymns petition Christ directly. So, if you define prayer as a hymn, like Pliny said, even we LDS pray to Jesus.

    I think James (I by no means speak for him), is using the term “prayer” in a more restrictive sense of formal prayer. In that case, there is no clear example in scripture of prayer to Jesus except in certain extraordinary cases (Stephen’s death, the Nephites in 3 Nephi in the Book of Mormon, etc). Jesus himself instructed, as James has pointed out, that we pray to “Our Father who art in Heaven.” That, therefore, is our practice. Jesus also taught that we should pray in his name. That, therefore, is also our practice. As best as I can tell, there is no instance anywhere in scripture of Jesus, prophets, or apostles instructing people to pray directly to Jesus.

    As far as calling on the name of Jesus, could not this be the same thing as praying to God in the name of Jesus? When we ask a blessing of the Father, we do it by the name of Jesus Christ and are thus calling on his name. The New Testament passage about “calling on the name of Jesus” are too vague, in my estimation, to be construed as commandments to “pray to Jesus.” As far as the Old Testament references about prayer to Jehovah (who is Jesus), the original article that James refered to (http://www.fairlds.org/Anti-Mormons/Can_Mormons_Be_Considered_Christians.html) addresses that issue. I’d be interested in your take on that.

    Thanks.

  24. AndrewMiller says:

    PS If there was anything in my posts that seemed inflammatory, I’m truly sorry. That was not my intention. I did not intend to hijack the discussion or to misrepresent the discussion. I was only trying to expressing my opinion.

  25. GnarlyOcelot says:

    You write: My general personal practice is to have at least two clear affirmations in scripture before I conceive of an important doctrine or religious practice.
    If you have even one clear reference in scripture to do or believe anything, why would you do/believe the exact opposite thing (which has zero references)?

    You write: So, based on that, I would not make a practice of addressing Jesus in prayer based on one variant reading of a text.
    First, I’m still lost as to how you define “variant”. There are two ways to use the word to my understanding (a) The amount of ways the verse variates throughout manuscripts and (b) The number of instances we have a single said variation (vs. another) throught manuscripts. I assumed you were referring to (b) because (a) would have you saying “I prefer readings which have lots of variation between manuscripts to readings that are unanimous throughout”. You just said you didn’t mean (b), so if neither of these represent what you said, can you please clarify exactly what you mean by “variant”.

    Second, and more importantly, we have many clear references to prayer to Jesus. Not just one. Excluding all the times Jesus is prayed to throughout the Old Testament, and excluding less clear references like “Amen Come, Lord Jesus.” (Rev 22:20), I gave the following:
    1. “ask me anything in my name and I will do it”
    2. Stephens prayer to Jesus
    3. Paul telling us to “call on the name of Jehovah” today (quoting the OT prayer to Jehovah)
    4. Paul stating that all saints “call on the name of Christ”

    I think outsiders would agree that these each illicit a wildly desperate excuse on the Mormons part: (“stephen is just an extraordinary case”), (“maybe ‘call on the name of’ means something different than it means every other time we see it in scripture”), (‘maybe John 14:14 was a typo”). And, you still havent provided a response to Romans 10 where Paul tells us to “call on the name of Jehovah” (quoting the OT prayer specifically to Jesus) and applies it to Jesus today. So why not believe what is taught? Why the desperation and imaginative responses? I think the obvious answer is that you’re Mormon and you prioritize Mormon doctrine over the plain reading of Biblical scripture.
    To counter the 4 incredibly powerful arguments above, all you have to offer are instances where Jesus said to pray to the Father (as if that’s mutually exclusive to praying to the Son!). What kind of logic is that? Even if Jesus was referring to the PERSON of the Father (which He wasn’t, He was referring to the God of the Old Testament [see my response to James]), what Christian doesn’t pray to the person of Father? I do so on a daily basis. So what’s the problem? Where’s the argument? There is no argument, and if there was one all you’d have is a contradiction in scripture (since it would teach us to pray to Jesus and teach us not to pray to Jesus). Thankfully however, your logic is just bad. Therefore, we have 4 solid evidences that Jesus is to be prayed to, and no solid evidence (no evidence at all!) that Jesus is not to be prayed to. If you’re going to respond to this post, instead respond directly to my post to James above (although do comment on the “variant” question). Everything else you have brought up is covered ground, and the rebuttal is more thorough in my post to him. Thanks.

  26. James says:

    Blake,

    I am in the midst of some intense preparations for mid-terms, but I think this has gone on too long without a reply.

    By the way, I hope to bring some friendliness back to the discussion; I sense some hostility in your recent posts. Hope all is well for you.

    Concerning John 16:23, I still argue that it declares that the primary formula for prayer, especially after Christ’s resurrection, is to pray to the Father in the name of Christ. Here is the verse:

    23″In that day you will not question (erotao) Me about anything Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask (aiteo) the Father for anything in My name, He will give it to you.

    My argument is runs like this:
    1) In “that day” they will not question him
    2) Questioning Jesus is prayer
    3) Therefore, they will not pray to Jesus “in that day”.

    You argue that #2 is false, and is not supported by the Greek. You claim that the verb “erotao” differs from “aiteo”, and that that difference is significant. I disagree. Clearly Christ associated the two words very closely and within the exact same context. Clearly he equated “question[ing]” with “asking” in a context of prayer. It seems almost absurd to me to suggest otherwise.

    You also said the following:

    The correct interpretation is this: Questioning Jesus like they used to would obviously not be an option anymore (i.e. His death and ascension). Rather “when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth” (v13). This says absolutely nothing about praying to Jesus (Jehovah) as done in the Old Testament and as Christians do today.

    I agree that “questioning” or even “asking” Jesus like they used to would not be an option any longer. He would not be in their midst any longer. In lieu of that method, Christ instructs a new model for communicating with God. How can you argue that he did not? The specific instructions given are to “ask” the Father. As you agreed, it says absolutely nothing about praying to Jesus, but about praying to the Father. How can we be so bold as you ignore the clear instructions given by the Savior?

    I also wish to point out that there may be some equivocation going on surrounding the word “prayer”. What constitutes prayer? I believe that the simplest way to define prayer is worshipful communication held between man and God. Therefore, it indeed is prayer when the disciples reverently and worshipfully express gratitude and plead for grace to Jesus even before His death and resurrection. It is prayer when Stephen addresses Jesus face to face while being stoned.

    You also argued:

    #3 is definitely false. If Jesus said “you don’t need me to make requests of the Father”, why would that prevent them from making requests to Jesus as well?

    Well, the answer is simple. It has nothing to do with verse 26 as you believe my argument is based on. It has everything to do with verse 23, the same one we have been discussing. The words given are “In that day you will not question (erotao) Me about anything…”. Your strange rebuttal rests on the fact that a different word is used (erotao), but I have pointed out that it is a precarious thing indeed to suggest that Jesus didn’t associate that word with “aiteo”, the word used for prayer, found within the exact same sentence, and within the exact same context.

    The reason for why they would not question, or pray, to Jesus any longer is obvious. He would no longer be with them. However, that obvious rule would not apply in exceptional cases in which He was with them. In the case of Stephen, it was appropriate to pray to Jesus precisely because Jesus was there.

    You said:

    So now that your offense has been neutralized, let’s see how you handle the Evangelical offense.

    C’mon Blake, must we sound so hawkish? Neutralized? This isn’t a Star Wars. I see no reason to turn this into anything but a friendly exchange.
    —————————————————————————————————–
    Turning to John 14:14 now. I’m going to dismiss your false characterization of my methodology in understanding this passage, and stick to the actual debate. Consider the following instructions given by Jesus:

    Mat 6:9 Pray, then, in this way: Our Father who is in heaven…”

    John 15:16 “…whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.”

    John 16:23 In that day you will no longer ask me anything. I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.

    Luke 11:12 And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven,

    There are at least 4 instances I can think of off the top of my head in which Christ gives clear, unambiguous instructions about the formula for prayer. Nevertheless, we have this little puzzle to wrestle with:

    John 14:14 “If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.

    Jesus here used the same verb “aiteo” that he used in 16:23, in the context of prayer. What are we to think of this blatant contradiction? You seem to find much satisfaction in caricaturing me as one who simply rejects the scriptures whenever I find it convenient, as one who places religious tradition above the message of the scriptures. Not only is that offensive, it is untrue. My reasons for questioning the authenticity of this verse do not extend to any religious traditions I have embraced. In fact, I do not hesitate to embrace indirect prayer to Jesus. As Andrew pointed out, we sing hymns to Christ, we pray in the name of Christ, we do all things in the name of Christ. The true reasons for my skepticism are obvious, and you already know what they are.
    When a person says the same thing 4 or 5 times, and then on the sixth time says something quite contradictory, wisdom dictates that we at the very least question the anomaly. It is an anomaly. I have also demonstrated that the passage does not fit in with the overall theme of the discourse Jesus is given. Have I rejected the passage outright? No, not at all. But I believe I have very good reasons for wondering if it is a mistake. You on the other hand are bound by religious tradition. You are bound by your view of inerrancy. Because you believe the scriptures are inerrant, you cannot accept the possibility that a misplaced word could have been slipped into this sentence. Therefore, in order to maintain your faith you are forced to reconcile quite contradictory passages. I am not bound by inerrancy, which belief I find incorrect.

    Therefore, we see that my approach is actually more objective than your own. My approach is governed by very simple rules, and not by pre-conceived ideas about the inerrant status of scripture. I do not dispute Metzger’s conclusion that “Me” was most likely included in John 14:14. I do however remain cautious in believing that the author of John purposefully placed a contradictory and anomalous passage right in the middle of a section which continually emphasizes the very opposite formula for prayer.

    I will reserve comments on Paul’s statements about “calling upon Jesus” for a later post. Let us move slowly.

    All the best to you,

    James

  27. AndrewMiller says:

    Gnarly,

    Since James is doing such a wonderful job, I will probably sit this one out for now unless I feel there is something I can contribute. As far as defining “variant” the way I was using it, I would say I was using it to mean “a reading that differs from the traditional reading, whether it exist in only one manuscript or in hundreds.” In other words, The reading of “me” in the passage at hand is in this sense only one variant whether it is found in many manuscripts or not. That’s how I was using it. And, as I said, I don’t think it’s safe to base a theological concept on one variant (no matter how many manuscripts it appears in), especially when the variant seems to contradict the rest of scripture (as James has so aptly demonstrated).

    I hope that’s clear enough now so that you can understand what I was actually saying.

    PS When would you like to discuss the three witnesses to the Book of Mormon or Hebraisms in the Book of Mormon?

  28. James says:

    Blake,

    I wanted to add one more thing for clarification.

    I do believe that my interpretation of Christ’s instructions is derived directly from the text. As you agreed, the instructions on prayer given in John 16:23 are “all post-resurrection”, or they are given as post-resurrection instruction.

    You then make a peculiar statement:

    (Blake)- Additionally, we can be quite certain that the apostles prayed to the Father during Jesus stay, but by all means, please tell me if you sincerely disagree.

    I can certainly see the possibility that the apostles may have prayed to the Father before Christ’s departure. It makes sense in light of the repeated instructions that Jesus gave to do so. However, Jesus does make this informative statement:

    John 16:23-24
    23And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.

    24Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.

    According to Christ, the apostles had not up to that point addressed the Father in the name of Christ. So, based on this statement, I don’t find it likely that as a general practice the apostles were yet praying to the Father. Rather, they were addressing their needs directly to Jesus, who is Jehovah, just as all the Israelites had been doing up to that point. Upon Christ’s completion of the atonement the order of prayer was reconfigured. Christ submitted all things to the Father, and the symbolism of his role as mediator became much more pronounced in this new prayer formula.

    I am interested to hear your thoughts on this, and I am also interested to learn more about why you believe Jesus’ instructions to pray to the “Father” is not a reference to the person of the Father, but to Jesus himself. You accuse me of subjectively determining when “Father” refers to Jesus and when it refers to the person of the Father only, yet I see no apparent objectivity in your method. It appears we may be at an impasse.

    Sargon

  29. GnarlyOcelot says:

    “By the way, I hope to bring some friendliness back to the discussion; I sense some hostility in your recent posts. Hope all is well for you.”Yup, all is quite well. Sorry if anything sounded unfriendly. I admit I was a little annoyed with Andrews initial comment, but if my responses came off as hostile then I apologize (to both of you).

    “Concerning John 16:23…Clearly he equated “question[ing]” with “asking” in a context of prayer. It seems almost absurd to me to suggest otherwise.”It’s not absurd James:

    v19; Jesus knew that they wished to question [EROTAO] Him, and He said to them, “Are you deliberating together about this, that I said, ‘A little while, and you will not see Me, and again a little while, and you will see Me’?
    v20-22; [Jesus explains]
    v23; “In that day you will not question [EROTAO] Me about anything
    v24-28 [Jesus continues explanation]

    Why won’t they question Him? Because these sayings which have perplexed them and troubled them will all finally make sense. Commentators seem to agree, the EROTAO in v23 does not correlate with the AITEO following, rather, it connects with the EROTAO located just above in v19 (as demonstrated). The AITEO comment connects to v20-22, and v24-28 (take special notice the use of the word “joy” [v22, v24]). It’s Jesus answer for the question in v19.
    Now James, I think you’re going to have a hard enough time trying ot establish that this interpretation (taken by most scholarly commentators) is not the superior one. As it happens, however, your job is to establish it’s not even possible (you got your work cut out for you!). Your goal is to make it contradict John 14:14, specifically so that you can dismiss the pivotal word in Jn 14:14 as “misplaced/slipped into the sentence” (by the original author, no less!). Infallibilist or not, I don’t think you’ll be winning any non-mormons to your side any time soon.

    [from your next post]
    “I don’t find it likely that as a general practice the apostles were yet praying to the Father. [you list Jn 16:23-24 as justification]”1. There’s no reason to think the disciples were not praying to the Father.
    (a) Jn 16:23-24 in no way contradicts the disciples praying to the Father. Your argument certainly fails until you can establish that praying to the Father (in general) is the thing the apostles haven’t done; as opposed to praying to the Father specifically “in My name” (as context suggests).
    2. There are multiple reasons to think the disciples were praying to the Father.
    (a) Jesus told the disciples to pray to the Father multiple times (e.g. Mt 6:8-9; “your Father knows what you need before you ask Him. “Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven,…). You admitted these exist, but didn’t engage them at all… as if simply mentioning their existence made them go away. You’ve still got a lot of work to do.
    (b) Jesus frequently had quiet time with the Father. It’s only natural to expect His disciples to do the same
    (c) Jesus never told His disciples not to pray to the Father, nor did Jesus ever tell the disciples to pray to Himself.

    “Therefore, it indeed is prayer when the disciples reverently and worshipfully express gratitude and plead for grace to Jesus even before His death and resurrection.” (a) Just out of curiosity, when did the disciples do this? Surely if “prayer” could be done to someone you see directly, we should see plenty of examples.
    (b) Instead of providing plenty, you provide only one. And unfortunately, I have no reason to count it since it was a vision that only Stephen saw. Why should it count as an example supporting the notion that the disciples prayed to Jesus in non-visionary scenarios?

    “C’mon Blake, must we sound so silly? Neutralized? This isn’t a Star Wars. I see no reason to turn this into anything but a friendly exchange.”Lol, you’ve obviously misunderstood me. I don’t mean I neutralized your offense in the sci-fi sense (i.e. that I zapped/obliterated your arguments!), but neutralized it in the traditional English sense, like neutralizing a charge [dictionary.com: to make (something) ineffective; counteract; nullify: “carelessness that neutralized our efforts”.].

    [You list 4 instances where Christ instructed us to pray to the Father and then write:] “Jesus here used the same verb “aiteo” that he used in 16:23, in the context of prayer. What are we to think of this blatant contradiction? …”If I pray to the Father in Jesus name every day, how does this “contradict” me also praying to Jesus?

    “I have also demonstrated that the passage does not fit in with the overall theme of the discourse Jesus is given.”
    I missed this… when did you do that?

    “Therefore, in order to maintain your faith you are forced to reconcile quite contradictory passages. I am not bound by inerrancy, which belief I find incorrect.”James, to be “bound” by something (in epistemology) is a mark of strength (of that position). Instead, you bring up yet another example of Mormonism’s classic avoidance of falsification. My personal thinking is this: What religion couldn’t survive critique using the LDS invincible tests and defenses which seem (to me) crafted specifically to prevent people from proving it wrong. If there is a contradiction in my theology, then I’m forced to drop it and adjust (and thats the case with all science/academics/reality). If you had shown that Jn 16:23 didn’t fit with my theology, my theology would have to change. If I were you, however, I could just say John 16:23 was a typo (and play that card whenever I needed to). How would you like it if I did that? What if all religions did that?

    I will reserve comments on Paul’s statements about “calling upon Jesus” for a later post. Let us move slowly.I don’t approve of this, James. Please, like you said, “let us move slowly” — there is no rush so there’s no problem with you spending some extra time to address my offense. My above points are supported exponentially when we see that prayer to Jesus is something all Christians [saints] do. Right now, you’re asking me to consider my position on v23 without considering my other arguments which also support it. I don’t think this is fair at all. Please include it in your next response.

    Thanks in advance,

    Blake

  30. James says:

    Hi Gnarly, I am working on a response to you. I think our debate has outgrown the simple format that this “comment” section of my blog restricts us to. Therefore, I vote that we continue our correspondence via email, and that when we are done I will place it here in PDF format as I previously have done.
    I also will send include Andrew’s email address in our correspondence.

    James

  31. GnarlyOcelot says:

    Sounds good, although I think it’d be best if we keep it just between our e-mails (but you can certainly enlist Andrew for help on your responses).

  32. ji says:

    My perspective — We need not parse between the members of the Godhead. However, Christ also holds the title of Father, and EVERYTHING pertaining to our salvation is from and through Christ. I believe that when we pray to the Father in the name of the Son, as we are commanded to do, we are praying essentially to Christ (who is also the Father). We pray to the Father in the name of and through the person of the Son. We are Christ’s and he is the Father’s.

    If I pray a prayer and believe God has answered my prayer, I can say truthfully any of the following–
    – “My heavenly father answered my prayer!”
    – “The Lord Jesus answered my prayer!”
    – “The Holy Spirit answered my prayer!”
    – “My God answered my prayer!”
    All of these are synonymous and of equal truth and efficacy.

  33. James says:

    This post was almost seven years ago. Since then I’ve come around to feel less concerned about this issue. I still think there are enough instructions in the scriptures that the general rule ought to be that we pray to the Father in the name of Jesus, but I think enough exceptions to that rule exist that we shouldn’t be too worried about it.

    Thanks.

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