What are Latter-day Saints (Mormons) Taught About Jesus?
|By: Dr. John Ankerberg / Dr. John Weldon; ©2004|
|The Mormon Church claims allegiance to Jesus Christ. They claim to be a “Christian” religion, but even LDS president Gordon B. Hinkley admits, “The traditional Christ of whom they [Christians] speak is not the Christ of whom I speak.” So, what “Christ” do Mormons accept?|
What Are Latter-day Saints (Mormons) Taught About Jesus?
- The traditional Christ of whom they [Christians] speak is not the Christ of whom I speak (LDS president Gordon B. Hinkley in Paris; Deseret News, June 20, 1998).
From the beginning, the Mormon church has confessed its allegiance to Jesus Christ. Mormon literature emphatically claims to accept and revere the biblical Christ. The publicity booklet What the Mormons Think of Christ, published by the Mormon Church, asserts: “Christ is our Redeemer and our Savior. Except for him there would be no salvation and no redemption, and unless men come unto him and accept him as their Savior, they cannot have eternal life in his presence. “He—Jesus Christ—is the Savior of the world and the Divine Son of God.”
In his book Are Mormons Christians?, written in an attempt to prove to the world that Mormons are Christians, Dr. Stephen Robinson emphasizes continually that Mormons believe in the true biblical Jesus Christ. In fact, he claims that the evidence is so persuasive that Mormons believe in Jesus Christ that critics have never even dared to raise the issue! Dr. Robinson, apparently, has not read many Christian apologetic works. Christian treatments of Mormonism consistently maintain that Mormons do not acknowledge the true Jesus Christ as Lord. For the real issue is which “Jesus Christ” one believes in. The simple truth is that although Mormons proclaim their belief in the biblical Jesus Christ, like other sects and cults theirs is a false, pagan Christ, one who has nothing to do with the biblical Jesus. As the following chart shows, the Mormon Christ and the biblical Christ are so incompatible that not a single resemblance can be found between them.
Mormon Christ and Christian Christ Incompatibility
|The Mormon Jesus Christ||The Biblical Jesus Christ|
|A created being; the elder brother of Lucifer||Uncreated God|
|Common (one of many gods) and, in some ways, of minor importance in the larger Mormon cosmology||Unique (the Second Person of the one and only Godhead) and of supreme importance throughout time, eternity and all creation|
|Conceived by a physical sex act between God the Father (Adam or Elohim) and Mary, thus not through a true virgin birth||Conceived by the Holy Spirit, who supernaturally “overshadowed” Mary, this a true virgin birth|
|Once sinful and imperfect||Eternally sinless and perfect|
|Earned his own salvation (exaltation, godhood)||As God, never required salvation|
|A married polygamist?||An unmarried monogamist|
Mormons deny Jesus Christ’s unique deity
Mormonism teaches that Jesus Christ is a created being. That is, Mormonism teaches that every person has two births; first, birth as a spirit child in preexistence and second, much later, birth as a human being. According to Mormon theology, Christ was the first and foremost of subsequent billions of spirit children created through sexual intercourse between the male earth god and his celestial wife. Later, in order to produce the body for this special spirit child, the earth god again had sexual intercourse, this time with the “virgin” Mary, who the Jesus’ earthly mother.
Jesus Christ is a common God
Mormon teaching implies that Jesus Christ is a “common” God and, in some ways, of minor importance in the larger Mormon cosmology. Mormons do refer to Christ as being “greater” than all other spirit children on earth, but this earth is only one of the infinite number of earths, each having their own Gods who have existed and evolved for aeons longer than Christ. Here on earth, Christ is our “senior” only by achievement and position, not by nature or essence.
The essence of Christ is no different from the essence of any spirit child of Elohim, whether of men or of Satan and his demons. Every person on earth has the same nature and essence as Jesus Christ, and He as they. Although Christ performed better than others in preexistence, He is nevertheless of one nature with all people. Thus, Mormons universally refer to Him as their “elder brother.” Jesus Christ is not unique in essence but only in achievement and mission.
Thus His divinity is not unique, for every exalted person will attain a similar Godhood. Neither is His incarnation unique, for all persons are incarnated spirit beings—in preexistence, the offspring of the sexual union of the gods, who then take tabernacles of flesh. Indeed, Christ was only unique in His physical birth; that is, rather than having a merely human father like the rest of us, His mother had physical sex with the God Elohim.
Christ is also not unique as creator of this earth, because Mormonism teaches that Adam, Joseph Smith and others helped Him to create it. Christ “was aided… by ‘many of the noble and great’ spirit children of the Father… Adam… Noah… Joseph Smith….”
Mormonism teaches that Christ is Satan’s brother
In Mormon theology, Jesus Christ is the spirit brother of Satan. Since Satan (and his demons) were also preexistent spirit creations of Elohim and his celestial wife, Satan is therefore Christ’s brother as well. In fact, the devil and all demons are the spirit brothers of everyone on earth. In other words, Christ, the devil and all of us are brothers. Jess L. Christensen, director of the LDS Institute of Religion at Utah State University in Logan, Utah, writes in A Sure Foundation, “But both the scriptures and the prophets affirm that Jesus Christ and Lucifer are indeed offspring of our Heaven Father and, therefore, spirit brothers…. Jesus was Lucifer’s older brother.” Another Mormon writer concludes, “As for the devil and his fellow spirits, they are brothers to man and also to Jesus and sons and daughters to God in the same sense that we are.”
In light of the above, and many more doctrines, we must be careful not to accept Mormon claims concerning belief in Christ’s uniqueness or deity. Mormons may claim to exalt Jesus, for, as McConkie says, “He shall reign to all eternity as King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and God of Gods.” But what is often not understood is that literally millions of other people will likewise reign, for as Brigham Young emphasized, all men are “the king of kings and lord of lords in embryo.”
Mormonism denies the virgin birth
In his controversial Adam-God discourse of April 9, 1852, Brigham Young taught that the body of Jesus Christ was the product of sexual intercourse between God (Adam) and Mary, who then subsequently married Joseph. But since God (Adam) was also the literal, physical Father of Mary (Mary being his literal spirit offspring through celestial intercourse), this amounts to an incestuous and adulterous relationship, for at the same time she was betrothed in marriage to Joseph. Thus Mary had sexual relations with both her Father in heaven (God Himself) and her spirit brother, Joseph. One apparent effect of this teaching, at least in the minds of some, was to give divine sanction to “spiritual” adultery and even incest, and thus to render the incidents of incestuous polygamy and adultery in Mormon history more acceptable. “After all,” they could have reasoned, “God Himself engaged in such practices.” (See our Behind the Mask of Mormonism, ch. 29.)
This Mormon teaching denies that Jesus Christ was conceived by the Holy Ghost, and it maintains that Jesus was the literal offspring of the Father because, according to Mormon theology, the Holy Ghost does not have a physical body and therefore could not have had sexual intercourse with Mary. Mormon theology teaches that the Father has a physical body, one “of flesh and bones,” so He could easily have had physical sex with Mary to conceive the body of Jesus. Thus, the role of the Holy Spirit in the virgin birth of Jesus Christ, so clearly stated in Matthew 1:18 and Luke 1:35, is rejected by Mormons. The following “inspired” statements by Brigham Young make this clear:
- Now hear it, O inhabitants of the earth, Jew and Gentile, Saint and Sinner! When our Father Adam came into the Garden of Eden, he came into it with a celestial body, and brought Eve, one of his wives, with him. He helped to make and organize this world. He is MICHAEL, the archangel, THE ANCIENT OF DAYS! about whom holy men have written and spoken—he is our Father and our God, and the only God with whom we have to do. Every man upon the earth, professing Christians or non-professing, must hear it, and will know it sooner or later…. When the Virgin Mary conceived the child Jesus, the Father had begotten him in his own likeness. He was not begotten by the Holy Ghost. And who is the Father? He is the first of the human family [Adam]; and when he took a tabernacle [body], it was begotten by his Father in heaven, after the same manner as the tabernacles of Cain, Abel, and the rest of the sons and daughters of Adam and Eve.
- Now remember from this time forth, and forever that Jesus Christ was not begotten by the Holy Ghost.…
- “If the son was begotten by the Holy Ghost, it would be very dangerous to baptize and confirm females and give the Holy Ghost to them, lest he should beget children to be palmed upon the Elders by the people, bringing the Elders into great difficulties.”
In his Doctrines of Salvation, the tenth Mormon president and prophet, Joseph Fielding Smith, taught, “Christ was begotten of God. He was not born without the aid of Man and that Man was God!” The late LDS theologian Bruce McConkie declared, “Christ was begotten by an Immortal Father in the same way that mortal men are begotten by mortal fathers.” The former president and prophet of the Mormon church, Ezra Taft Benson, also believes that Jesus was not conceived by the Holy Ghost:
- The body in which he performed his mission in the flesh was sired by that same Holy Being we worship as God, our Eternal Father. Jesus was not the son of Joseph, nor was he begotten by the Holy Ghost. He is the son of the Eternal Father.
Such teachings are hardly biblical (Matthew 1:18; Luke 1:31-35). They are similar to occult and pagan teachings. Dr. Anthony Hoekema appropriately concludes:
- What these men are saying is that, according to Mormon theology, the body of Jesus Christ was a product of the physical union of God the father and the virgin Mary. One shudders to think of the revolting implications of this view, which brings into what is supposed to be “Christian” theology one of the most unsavory features of ancient pagan mythology!
Christ was not eternally sinless
While Mormons staunchly affirm that Christ is sinless, what they mean is that Christ was sinless while on this earth. They do not teach that He was sinless for all eternity past.
In Mormon theology, Jesus was only one of innumerable spirit offspring of the earth god and his celestial wife and therefore no different in nature from any other spirit. So He too had to undertake schooling and progression in the spirit world to attain salvation. He had to be tested with good and evil, initially at least, falling into evil like every other spirit son. As we documented in our book Behind the Mask of Mormonism, Mormonism teaches that it is only by direct experience of evil that people learn to choose good.
Bruce McConkie confesses that “Christ… is a saved being.” The official student manual, Doctrines of the Gospel, teaches that “the plan of salvation which he [Elohim] designed was to save his children, Christ included; neither Christ nor Lucifer could of themselves save anyone.” The same manual also quotes the tenth president and prophet, Joseph Fielding Smith, on the subject:
- The Savior did not have a fullness [of deity] at first, but after he received his body and the resurrection all power was given unto him both in heaven and in earth. Although he was a God, even the Son of God, with power and authority to create this earth and other earths, yet there were some things lacking in which he did not receive until after his resurrection. In other words, he had not received the fullness until he got a resurrected body.
Thus, even though, according to Benson, “Jesus was a God in the pre-mortal existence,” He was still imperfect and lacking certain necessary things. McConkie taught: “These laws [of salvation], instituted by the father, constitute the gospel of God, which gospel is the plan by which all of his spirit children, Christ included, may gain eternal life.” “Jesus Christ is the Son of God… He came to earth to work out his own salvation.” “by obedience and devotion to the truth he attained that pinnacle of intelligence which ranked him as a God.” A Mormon publicity booklet, What the Mormons Think of Christ, asserts: “Christ, the Word, the First Born, had of course, attained unto the status of Godhood while yet in preexistence.”
The above are but several clear statements showing that Mormon theology does not hold a view of God, the Trinity and Jesus Christ that is biblical. The Mormon God is “another Jesus” (2 Corinthians 1:4), who has little if anything to do with the true Christian faith.
- Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, What the Mormons Think of Christ (pamphlet, 1982), p. 16.
- Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, p. 4.
- Stephen E. Robinson, Are Mormons Christians? (Salt Lake City, UT: Bookcraft, 1991), p. 111, emphasis added.
- Bruce McConkie, Mormon Doctrine (Salt Lake City, UT: Bookcraft, 1977), p. 169; cf. Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation: Sermons and Writings of President Joseph F. Smith, compiled by Bruce R. McConkie (Salt Lake City, UT: Bookcraft, 1976), Vol. 1, p. 75.
- Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, A Sure Foundation: Answers to Difficult Gospel Questions (Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book Company, 1988), p. 224.
- H. Evans, An American Prophet, 1933, p. 241, cited in Anthony Hoekema, The Four Major Cults: Christian Science, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormonism, Seventh-day Adventism (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 1970), p. 54.
- McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 129
- Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses (Salt Lake City, UT: np., 1967), vol. 10, p. 223.
- Ibid., vol. 1, pp. 50-51, emphasis added.
- Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 1:18, emphasis added.
- McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 547.
- Ezra Taft Benson, The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson (Salt Lake City, UT: Bookcraft, 1988), pp. 6-7.
- Hoekema, Four Major Cults, p. 56.
- McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 257.
- Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Doctrines of the Gospel, Student Manual (Salt Lake City, UT: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint, 1986), p. 15.
- Ibid., pp. 9-10.
- Benson, Teachings, p. 6.
- McConkie, Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 2:215
- Ibid., 3:238.
- McConkie, Mormon Doctrine
- Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, What the Mormons Think of Christ (pamphlet, 1982), p. 22; cf. McConkie, Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, vol. 3, p. 140.2