Do Mormons Worship Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, Or Both?

A man bows to Christ

This seems like one of those Mormonism 101 questions we all should know the answer to well before baptism, but it turns out it’s a much more complicated question than it may seem. Of course, we Mormons worship God the Father, but do Mormons actually worship God the Son as well? I’ve been doing some research on it, and it seems that even some senior leaders in the Church haven’t always agreed on an answer. Here’s what I’ve found:

According to Bruce R. McConkie

In a 1982 BYU devotional called Our Relationship with the Lord, Elder McConkie states very bluntly that “We do not worship the Son, and we do not worship the Holy Ghost. I know perfectly well what the scriptures say about worshipping Christ and Jehovah, but they are speaking in an entirely different sense—the sense of standing in awe and being reverentially grateful to him who has redeemed us. Worship in the true and saving sense is reserved for God the first, the Creator.”

Elder McConkie uses Doctrine and Covenants 20:17-19 to back up his statement (with emphasis on the last verse):

By these things we know that there is a God in heaven, who is infinite and eternal, from everlasting to everlasting the same unchangeable God, the framer of heaven and earth, and all things which are in them;

And that he created man, male and female, after his own image and in his own likeness, created he them;

And gave unto them commandments that they should love and serve him, the only living and true God, and that he should be the only being whom they should worship.

Well, that answers that, right? Well … keep reading.

Also according to Bruce R. McConkie

Ironically, Elder McConkie wrote the text for Hymn 134, I Believe in Christ. The first half of verse three reads as follows (and shout-out to Flunking Sainthood for making this connection):

I believe in Christ—my Lord, my God!
My feet he plants on gospel sod.
I’ll worship him with all my might;
He is the source of truth and light.
OK, now I’m just confused. You’re not doing us any favors here, Elder McConkie. Do we worship Christ or not?

According to LDS Topics

The topic “Worship” on makes it very clear that we are to worship God the Father. It does not explicitly state whether or not to worship Jesus Christ. One excerpt reads:

“As we reverently partake of the sacrament and attend the temple, we remember and worship our Heavenly Father and express our gratitude for His Son, Jesus Christ.”

One might extrapolate from this reference that we should worship God the Father and only express gratitude for Christ. BUT, Mormon Newsroom has more to add …

According to Mormon Newsroom

A Mormon Newsroom article titled What Mormons Believe About Jesus Christ makes it very clear that we do indeed worship Jesus Christ (emphasis added):

“We acknowledge Jesus Christ as the source of truth and redemption, as the light and life of the world, as the way to the Father (John 14:6; 2 Nephi 25:29; 3 Nephi 11:11). We worship Him in that we look to Him for deliverance and redemption and seek to emulate His matchless life” (D&C 93:12–20).

Additionally, back in 2007 they made a video with Elder M. Russell Ballard that places Christ at the center of our Sunday worship:

According to Elder Ronald A. Rasband

Back during the Church’s 2013 Christmas Devotional, Elder Rasband (then a member of the Quorum of the Seventy) said,

“The shepherds reverently approached the stable to worship the King of kings. How will we worship Him this season? Endlessly shopping? Hustling about and adorning our homes? Will that be our tribute to our Savior? Or will we bring peace to troubled hearts, good will to those in need of higher purpose, glory to God in our willingness to do His bidding? Jesus put it simply: ‘Come, [and] follow me.'”

According to President Gordon B. Hinckley

This is what President Hinckley said back in 2002 at a missionary devotional (which was later published in a 2007 Ensign):

“We love Him. We honor Him. We thank Him. We worship Him. He has done for each of us and for all mankind that which none other could have done. God be thanked for the gift of His Beloved Son—our Savior, the Redeemer of the world, the Lamb without blemish who was offered as a sacrifice for all mankind.”

According to the scriptures

2 Nephi 25:29

And now behold, I say unto you that the right way is to believe in Christ, and deny him not; and Christ is the Holy One of Israel; wherefore ye must bow down before him, and worship him with all your might, mind, and strength, and your whole soul; and if ye do this ye shall in nowise be cast out.

3 Nephi 17:10

And they did all, both they who had been healed and they who were whole, bow down at his feet, and did worship him; and as many as could come for the multitude did kiss his feet, insomuch that they did bathe his feet with their tears.

But what about …

Luke 4:8

And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.

And …

Moses 4:2

But, behold, my Beloved Son, which was my Beloved and Chosen from the beginning, said unto me—Father, thy will be done, and the glory be thine forever.

Christ didn’t ask for any glory … does that mean we should only worship God the Father? Maybe “glory” is different than “worship,” though. Questions questions questions!

According to me (for what it’s worth)

Do Mormons worship Jesus Christ in addition to Heavenly Father? I guess it depends on your definition and usage of the word “worship.” The all-knowing internet defines “worship” as, “the feeling or expression of reverence and adoration for a deity.” If that’s the definition we’re running with, then without question the answer to our original question is a resounding “YES! We do worship Jesus Christ.”

BUT, here’s what we need to be careful with: We should not worship Jesus Christ as if He were God the Father. Maybe that was what Elder McConkie was trying to get at. Yes, they are both deity, they share the same purpose, they’re part of the same Godhead. Heck, Christ made it very clear that “he that hath seen me, hath seen the father,” and that “if ye had known me, ye should have known the father also.” In this sense, it might be impossible to worship one without worshiping the other, but still, they are two different beings. They have the same ultimate goal but fill different roles to achieve that goal.

We worship Christ for His role as our Savior and Redeemer. We do not worship Christ through prayer, but rather through an ongoing effort to embody His teachings and to follow His example. We revere, honor, and express our gratitude to Him through the Sacrament (which sounds a lot like worship to me). But above all else, we worship God the Father for His divine plan and His role as our Eternal Father. As Christ himself taught, our prayers, the epitome of worship, will always be directed to the Father.

According to YOU

Have anything to add to our analysis? Let us know in the comments!

David Snell is a proud member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He's the Founder of The Sunday Pews, and has experience writing for Mormon Newsroom Pacific, KBYU11, Classical 89 Radio, and plenty more. He tries not to take himself too seriously and just wants to brighten your day a bit.