What Do Other Religions Think About Jesus?
Look into at enlightening exploration as we uncover how different religions perceive Jesus. From Islam to Hinduism, learn how various faiths interpret the teachings of Jesus
Dr. John Ankerberg: Dr. Martin, we’ve got something here. We look at the Watchtower magazine of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Boy, they’re strong on what they think about Jesus. For example, they say in Let God Be True, “Who ran the universe during the three days that Jesus was dead and in the grave? If Jesus was God, then during Jesus’ death God was dead and in the grave. If Jesus was the immortal God, he could not have died.” Then they take up this verse, “My Father is greater than I,” [John 14:28] means greater not only as to office but also as to person. They are saying he is a small god, if you want, but He’s not the Almighty God.
Dr. Walter Martin: Well, “Who ran the universe when Jesus was dead?” sounds like a very show-stopping question until you realize that when you talk to a Jehovah’s Witness there’s only one person that’s called God, that’s the Father. The Son and the Spirit are not part of the Trinity. They reject the Trinity as pagan and satanic. So what you have to do is establish Trinitarian theology by showing them that the Bible indeed calls the Father, the Son and the Spirit God and that there is only one God. That can be easily demonstrated.
Dr. John Ankerberg: Let’s do it.
Dr. Walter Martin: Well, if you point to passages of Scripture where the Father, the Son and the Spirit are mentioned, you can’t miss it. Matthew 28:19-20, “Go into all the world and baptize them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. I am with you always, even to the end of the world.” Jesus Christ said, “Before Abraham was, I Am.” [John 8:58] He claims to be God. The Holy Spirit is called God in Acts 5:4. The Holy Spirit answers prayer in Acts 13:2. The Holy Spirit is a person. You can grieve Him, vex Him, blaspheme Him. You can’t do that to an invisible force. So the problem with the Jehovah’s Witnesses is that they say, “Jesus is God. Jesus died. God died. Who ran the universe?” Wrong! Jesus is God the Son, second person of the Trinity. God the Son died on the cross. God the Father and God the Holy Spirit were alive and well running the universe.
Dr. John Ankerberg: Okay, comment on this, “My Father is greater than I.” [John 14:28] A lot of folks get messed up on that. They say, “You know, that sounds like Jesus has got be a lot less, so He can’t be the same thing as God.”
Dr. Walter Martin: Okay, let’s illustrate this in a way we can’t possibly miss. Ronald Reagan is President of the United States. He is greater by his office and position than any American. But if you said to Reagan, “That makes you better than me,” Reagan would say, “No: greater in position but not better in nature.” If you go to Hebrews 1, it says that God recognized His Son as God. He said, “Let all the angels of God worship Him.” [Heb. 1:6] To which of the angels did He ever say, “You are my Son, today I have begotten you?” [Heb. 1:5] To none of the angels, the Greek says; none of them. Well, Jehovah’s Witnesses believe Jesus is Michael the archangel.
Dr. John Ankerberg: I can hear my Jehovah’s Witness friends out there saying, “But, you know, He’s the firstborn in Revelation and Colossians. [Rev. 1:5; Col. 1:18] That tells me if He’s firstborn, He was born, he had a start, didn’t He?
Dr. Walter Martin: They use that constantly. Also, most Christians don’t know the answer to it. Just simply take them to the gospel of Matthew where Jesus is in the temple answering questions back and forth with the rulers of the temple. His parents miss Him and they come back for Him and they say to Him, “Well, why have you done this to us? We’ve been looking for you.” He said, “I must be about my Father’s business.” Then it says, “He went down to Nazareth and He was subject to them.” [Luke 2:41-52] Well, if subject means inferior, then Jesus was inferior to Mary and Joseph because it is exactly the same word that appears in 1 Corinthians 15 when it says, “Everything is subject to the Father.” [1 Cor. 15:27-28] It’s true. God the Father will be all and in all, but that does not detract from the deity of Christ.
Dr. John Ankerberg: And “firstborn” means rank. It means not the fact that He was born first.
Dr. Walter Martin: Yes, your context in Colossians 1 is authority, who He is. “He is above all thrones, and dominions, and principalities, and powers. All things were created by Him and for Him. He exists before all things.” [Col. 1:16] Your key, John, is the word “things.” What is a thing? A “thing” is something created. God alone is not a thing, he is the Creator. He calls His Son the Creator. Therefore, he is not a “thing.”
Dr. John Ankerberg: How about Isaiah 9 in commenting about His being not Almighty God, but Mighty God?
Dr. Walter Martin: Just turn the page over to Isaiah 10. It says, “Jacob shall return unto the Mighty God.” [Isa. 10:21] Who is the Mighty God? El Gibbor. Who was El Gibbor? Jehovah. There is no way out of it in the Hebrew.
Dr. John Ankerberg: Let’s jump to the Mormons at this point and we are talking about the Journal of Discourses and what they say about Jesus and the Virgin birth. In there they say, “Jesus, our elder brother, was begotten in the flesh by the same character that was in the Garden of Eden and who is our Father in heaven.” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 1, pp. 50-51) Or, “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 is our father and our god and the only god with whom we have to do.” What should Christians say when they hear something like that?
Dr. Walter Martin: Well, after they get over the shock of what they have heard I think they should point out that the Mormon Church taught that doctrine for over 100 years, the doctrine of Adam-god. A few years ago it got so obnoxious to the average Mormon that they had to change it. The Mormon god changes his mind. He changed his mind about polygamy. He changed his mind about the Blacks and he changed his mind about Adam being their father and their god.
Dr. John Ankerberg: What you are saying is they get new revelation along the way.
Dr. Walter Martin: Oh yes, you always get a new revelation to cover it. But this is very important, John. The Mormon Church teaches that Jesus Christ, and I am quoting now, Brigham Young, “Jesus Christ was not begotten by the Holy Ghost.” Alright now, how was He begotten? Brigham said, “After the same manner as the sons and daughters of Adam and Eve.” Jesus Christ according to classic Mormon theology came into existence by sexual relations between a resurrected God and the Virgin Mary, and that has not been repudiated by the church to today. This is not Christianity, this is pornography. Matthew 1 says, “That which is conceived in her was from the Holy Spirit.” [Matt. 1:20]
Dr. John Ankerberg: Yes, if they want to check that out that’s in Brigham Young’s Journal of Discourses, page 473, edition 1974, I believe. Now, right along this line, can I jump with the fact of Garner Ted, when we were having a conversation with him, commented on the fact he didn’t like the Holy Ghost coming upon Mary and Jesus was conceived. And the reason was, as I pointed out, first of all if the Holy Ghost was really a person, he was saying that would make Him the Son of the Holy Ghost. And he says it should be of the Father. Now, to both Mormons that think this way as well as to Garner Ted who is a little mixed up at that point, let’s talk about what that really means. Dr. Walter Martin: The Bible says the Father is God, the Son is God and the Spirit is God. The three persons are the one God. Therefore, when the Holy Spirit overshadowed the Virgin Mary He was the active agent and power of God for the conception of the body of Jesus of Nazareth in her womb and it was by a direct command of God the Father. So the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit were all involved in the immaculate conception of Christ and in the virgin birth of our Lord.
Editor’s note: In 1983 we asked Dr. Walter Martin, author of The Kingdom of the Cults, to comment on what various groups believe about The Bible, God, Jesus, Salvation, and a number of other topics. This article is excerpted from that interview. Some groups mentioned may have changed names, disbanded, or modified their beliefs since this interview took place.