Divine Investiture

Neal A. Maxwell summarizes the concept:

"Divine investiture is defined as that condition in which --in all His dealings with the human family Jesus the Son has represented and yet represents Elohim His Father in power and authority. ... Thus. .. Jesus Christ spoke and ministered and through the Father's name; and so far as power, authority and Godship is concerned His words and acts were and are those of the Father."[1]

The concept was first explained in a 1916 First Presidency message drafted by James Talmage: "The Father and the Son': A Doctrinal Exposition of the First Presidency and the Twelve"[2]. It was "subsequently championed by Joseph Fielding Smith and, to a much greater extent, by his son-in-law."[3]

It is well known that the 1916 doctrinal exposition "came about as a response to questions about the Godhead."[4] Members were confused about conflicting views of God between the Lectures on Faith, the Book of Mormon, the Bible, and later important sources of doctrine. The doctrine of divine investiture is seen by non-Mormons as an effort to account for the modalism of the Book of Mormon, wherein the person of the Father is indistinguishable from the person of the Son, as well as to account for tension heightened by the Elohim/Jehovah distinction, a convention which, like the divine investiture concept, was created in 1916[5]. That the Son, being Jehovah in the Old Testament, demands and accepts prayer and worship, would be awkward for LDS theology, since the Father is the one who is to be worshiped and prayed to.

Mormons Ari D. Bruening and David L. Paulsen (BYU professor) both admit this was a new doctrine, although both disagree that it was needed to reconcile Book of Mormon passages:

"None of these doctrines, excepting perhaps divine investiture of authority, was new at the time [1916]. Divine investiture of authority is the process by which the Father allows the Son or the Holy Ghost to speak in his name, as if the Son or the Holy Ghost were the Father. This doctrine provides an interesting explanation through which to understand the apparently modalistic verses in the Book of Mormon, but it certainly is not a necessary explanation; the Book of Mormon itself describes Christ as creator (see Mosiah 3:8) and as father of those who abide in the gospel (see Mosiah 15:10–11). Thus, the principle of divine investiture of authority was a new doctrine, but it was certainly not a doctrine needed to reconcile 'contradictory Book of Mormon passages.'"[6]

Mormon Jeffrey D. Giliam writes:

"This principle [of divine investiture] was obviously invented (at least partially) to help harmonize the doctrine that Christ is Jehovah. Thus Christ can call himself the Father whenever he wants. This doctrine has been taken to the extreme wherein we now say that all revelation since the fall of Adam has come through the Son and not the Father. If the Father wants to reveal something, He send[s] Jesus to do it (again). If the Father appears to someone, it is only to introduce Jesus and let him take over."[7]

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Contents _1 Passages cited in support_ 2 Christian response _3 Notes_ 4 See also _5 External links_ 5.1 Non-Mormon * 5.2 Mormon

[edit]Passages cited in support

  • Exodus 4:16
  • Exodus 23:21
  • Isaiah 1:24
  • Revelation 22:8-13
  • Moses 1:3-7

[edit]Christian response

This might very well be called the doctrine of divine pretension, for in it Christ is pretending to be the Father.

In the Bible the distinction between the two persons is more meaningful--the two are clearly the same God-being, but the two persons are clearly distinguished as interrelating, different persons and never feign the identity of another. One can speak on behalf of another, but never makes the pretension to be that other person. The doctrine of the Trinity seems to honor this truth better than the LDS idea of divine investiture does.

"For when God made a promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself, saying, 'Surely I will bless you and multiply you.'" - Hebrews 6:13-14

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1. [1] 2. "The Father and the Son': A Doctrinal Exposition of the First Presidency and the Twelve" June 30, 1916. In Messages of the First Presidency 5:26-34. Salt Lake City, 1971. Commentary on the pronouncement on pages 23-25. 3. Comment by J. Stapley. Accessed 11/16/2006 here:http://mormoninquiry.typepad.com/mormon_inquiry/2006/01/the_documentary.html#c12940833 4. Ross David Baron, "Melodie Moench Charles and the Humanist Worldview". Accessed 11/16/2006 at http://farms.byu.edu/display.php?id=173&table=review 5. It is worth noting that the Lectures on Faith were subsequently decanonized in 1921 6. Ari D. Bruening and David L. Paulsen, "The Development of the Mormon Understanding of God: Early Mormon Modalism and Other Myths". Accessed 11/16/2006 athttp://farms.byu.edu/display.php?id=392&table=review#_ftn1 7. Was accessible at http://mormondoctrine.blogspot.com/2005/05/does-father-do-anything.html

[edit]See also