Kevin Christensen: Alma to Zeezrom, “One God”

In Alma 11 there is an exchange between Amulek and Zeezrom which has proven to be somewhat controversial among anti-Mormons. The issue involves Amulek stating that there is only “one God” and that the Son of God is the “very Eternal Father of heaven and earth”. For some critics of Mormonism this amounts to Trinitarianism in the Book of Mormon.

Kevin Christensen addresses this concern in a MADB post:

Contextualizing is a much better approach than reading passages of ancient scripture in isolation, and interpreting them against what usually turns out to be anachronistic assumptions.

In responding to Zeezrom, Amulek goes on to provide much more useful context. For example, in verses 39-40, he equates the Son of God with the Eternal Father of Heaven and Earth, the beginning and the end, the first and the last, the one who”shall come into the world to redeem his people”, to take upon him the transgressions of those who believe on his name.

In verse 44, Amulek refers to the bar of Christ the Son, and God the Father, and the Holy Spirit, which is one Eternal God.

In the next chapter, Alma joins in, referring in verse 31 to “becoming as Gods, knowing good from evil.” In verse 33, Alma refers to God calling upon men in the name of hias Son, and having mercy through “mine Only Begotten Son.” And chapter 13 includes, among other things, mentions of the Holy Ghost, Holy Spirit.

3 Nephi 19:23, 29 provide useful insights on what is means to be “one.” As does John 16:22, where Jesus prays that the apostles may be “one even as we are one.”

Earlier, 1 Nephi 11:6 has an angel commending Nephi for his belief in “the Son of the Most High God.” Since Most High in Hebrew is El Elyon, and the Dead Sea Scrolls Deut. 32:8-9 identifies Yahweh as the Son of El Elyon, we have more helpful context.

Since I am both a son to my father, a father to my children, I have no problem conceiving how the same individual can be both a father and a son. Since I have an earthly father, and a Heavenly Father, I have no trouble seeing how one person can have more than one father.

Brant Gardner has an excellent FAIR essay discussing how El Elyon was seen as the Father in the Heaven, and how Yahweh was seen as the father of earthly beings through covenant. This notion appears in several places, including Mosiah 5:7, “because of the covenant ye have mande she shall be called the Children of Christ, his sons and daughters: for behold this day hath he spiritually begotten you.”

Contextualizing properly costs some extra effort, usually turns out to simplify issues in the long run. It’s like Nibley said, “Things that appear unlikely, impossible from one point of view often make perfectly good sense from another.” (CWHN 1:65.)

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