The Church’s Newer, More Common Use of the Word, “God”

God, Mormon, LDS

Creation of the Sun and the Moon (Wikimedia Commons)

Over the last couple of decades there seems to be a newer emphasis on the word, “God” by the leaders of the church. I remember when I was growing up that “God” was more of a “Christian” word. We used it sometimes, but it felt a little foreign. We always spoke of either Heavenly Father or Jesus Christ, The Lord, The Savior, etc. That has changed.

This may be a byproduct of a growing, more global church. The term “God” is more universal and applies more to both religious and non-religious people worldwide. But I do think we lose something in exchange. Addressing specifically either Heavenly Father or Jesus Christ continually emphasizes the distinction between the two beings and the Mormon Doctrine of the Godhead and the Plan of Salvation.

In Mormon scripture, the term “God”is found 6,238 times. The most common term for Deity (based on my own experience only) used to be “Lord”. That title is found 8,865 times in Mormon scripture and is the most common title for deity. The third most used title for Deity, or a member of the Godhead, is “Christ”. It is found 1,003 times in scripture. Of course that Greek term is not found in the Old Testament (but used many times in the Book of Mormon) after the time of Jacob’s speech, Nephi’s brother¹. The Hebrew equivalent is “Messiah”, which is used 27 times in the Book of Mormon and used only 3 times after the book of 2 Nephi. Incidentally, the Old Testament astonishingly only uses the title “Messiah” twice. Both are of course found in the Messianic, apocalyptic book of Daniel. Not coincidence that the only use of the title “Son of God” in the Old Testament is also found in the book of Daniel.

I prefer not to use the term “God” unless it is a very generalized use for Deity, but now I catch myself using it all the time. I hear it more from the pulpit at General Conference, I read it more in Ensign articles, from the pulpit in my ward and in Sunday School lessons. I’m not convinced it is a good thing.

  1. Finding the First Use of the Name Christ in The Book of Mormon, Taylor Halverson, Deseret News, Feb 8, 2016

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