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Origin

Frank Violo stated:

The phrase personal Savior is yet another recent innovation that grew out of the ethos of nineteenth-century American revivalism. It originated in the mid-1800s to be exact. But it grew to popular parlance by Charles Fuller (1887–1968). Fuller literally used the phrase thousands of times in his incredibly popular Old Fashioned Revival Hour radio program that aired from 1937 to 1968. His program reached from North America to every spot on the globe. At the time of his death, it was heard on more than 650 radio stations around the world.

Today, the phrase personal Savior is used so pervasively that it seems biblical. But consider the ludicrousness of using it. Have you ever introduced one of your friends by such a designation? “This is my ‘personal friend,’ Billy Smith.” . . . the phrase personal Savior reinforces a highly individualistic Christianity. But the New Testament knows nothing of a “Just-me-and-Jesus” Christian faith. Instead, Christianity is intensely corporate. Christianity is a life lived out among a body of believers who know Christ together as Lord and Savior. 1

J. Gordon Melton also stated:

Born again is a phrase used by many Protestants to describe the phenomenon of gaining faith in Jesus Christ. It is an experience when everything they have been taught as Christians becomes real, and they develop a direct and personal relationship with God. 2

Doctrinal Veracity

Elder Bruce R. McConkie commented:

What is and should be our relationship to the members of the Godhead?

First, be it remembered that most scriptures that speak of God or of the Lord do not even bother to distinguish the Father from the Son, simply because it doesn’t make any difference which God is involved. They are one. The words or deeds of either of them would be the words and deeds of the other in the same circumstance.

Further, if a revelation comes from, or by the power of the Holy Ghost, ordinarily the words will be those of the Son, though what the Son says will be what the Father would say, and the words may thus be considered as the Father’s. Thus any feelings of love, praise, awe, or worship that may fill our hearts when we receive the divine words will be the same no matter who is thought or known to be the author of them.

And yet we do have a proper relationship to each member of the Godhead, in part at least because there are separate and severable functions which each performs, and also because of what they as one Godhead have done for us.

Our relationship with the Father is supreme, paramount, and preeminent over all others. He is the God we worship. It is his gospel that saves and exalts. He ordained and established the plan of salvation. He is the one who was once as we are now. The life he lives is eternal life, and if we are to gain this greatest of all the gifts of God, it will be because we become like him.

Our relationship with the Father is one of parent and child. He is the one who gave us our agency. It was his plan that provided for a fall and an atonement. And it is to him that we must be reconciled if we are to gain salvation. He is the one to whom we have direct access by prayer, and if there were some need—which there is not!—to single out one member of the Godhead for a special relationship, the Father, not the Son, would be the one to choose.

Our relationship with the Son is one of brother or sister in the premortal life and one of being led to the Father by him while in this mortal sphere. He is the Lord Jehovah who championed our cause before the foundations of the earth were laid. He is the God of Israel, the promised Messiah, and the Redeemer of the world.

By faith we are adopted into his family and become his children. We take upon ourselves his name, keep his commandments, and rejoice in the cleansing power of his blood. Salvation comes by him. From Creation’s dawn, as long as eternity endures, there neither has been nor will be another act of such transcendent power and import as his atoning sacrifice.

We do not have a fraction of the power we need to properly praise his holy name and ascribe unto him the honor and power and might and glory and dominion that is his. He is our Lord, our God, and our King.

Our relationship with the Holy Spirit is quite another thing. This holy personage is a Revelator and a Sanctifier. He bears record of the Father and the Son. He dispenses spiritual gifts to the faithful. Those of us who have received the gift of the Holy Ghost have the right to his constant companionship.

And again, if it were proper—and I repeat, it is not!—to single out one member of the Godhead for some special attention, we might well conclude that member should be the Holy Ghost. We might well adopt as a slogan: Seek the Spirit. The reason of course is that the sanctifying power of the Spirit would assure us of reconciliation with the Father. And any person who enjoys the constant companionship of the Holy Spirit will be in complete harmony with the divine will in all things.

Heresies among Us

Now, in spite of all these truths, which ought to be obvious to every spiritually

enlightened person, heresies rear their ugly heads among us from time to time.

There are those deluded cultists, and others who, unless they repent, are on the road to becoming cultists, who choose to believe we should worship Adam. They have found or should find their way out of the Church.

There are others—in the main they are intellectuals without strong testimonies—who postulate that God does not know all things but is progressing in truth and knowledge and will do so everlastingly. These, unless they repent, will live and die weak in the faith and will fall short of inheriting what might have been theirs in eternity.

There are yet others who have an excessive zeal which causes them to go beyond the mark. Their desire for excellence is inordinate. In an effort to be truer than true they devote themselves to gaining a special, personal relationship with Christ that is both improper and perilous.

I say perilous because this course, particularly in the lives of some who are spiritually immature, is a gospel hobby which creates an unwholesome holier-than-thou attitude. In other instances it leads to despondency because the seeker after perfection knows he is not living the way he supposes he should.

Another peril is that those so involved often begin to pray directly to Christ because of some special friendship they feel has been developed. In this connection a current and unwise book, which advocates gaining a special relationship with Jesus, contains this sentence:

Because the Savior is our mediator, our prayers go through Christ to the Father, and the Father answers our prayers through his Son.3

  1. Pagan Christianity by Frank Viola and George Barna, Tyndale, 2008, pp. 191-192.
  2. Melton, JG., Encyclopedia Of Protestantism (Encyclopedia of World Religions)
  3. Bruce R. McConkie, Our Relationship with the Lord, March 1982 Devotional, http://speeches.byu.edu/?act=viewitem&id=602

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