(MOBILE FRIENDLY)

Mormonism and Eternal Truth

Truth is not only
violated by falsehood;
it may be equally
outraged by silence.
(Henri-Frederic Amiel)

COMPARING THE MORMON JESUS
WITH THE BIBLICAL

All Mormon doctrines, including those on God and Christ, stem from Joseph Smith’s law of eternal progression. And eternal progression opposes the basic teachings of the Bible. As Robert Millet, former Dean of Religious Education at Brigham Young University, puts it:

“… the Bible is not the source of our doctrine or our authority, nor is much to be gained through trying to “prove” the truthfulness of the restored gospel from the Bible.” (Getting at the Truth: Responding to Difficult Questions about LDS Beliefs, Kindle version, by Robert L. Millet).

Nevertheless, Joseph Smith used biblical terms when formulating Mormon doctrine. And this has caused a lot of confusion.

The aim of this article is to reveal what the Bible actually teaches about who Jesus is, and in what manner He is related to God.

GETTING OUR FOCUS ON REALITY

Common sense tells us that the Creator has to be far greater and more complex in every way, than that which He has created. So in order for us to have any hope of understanding who He is and how He functions, He would need to “explain” Himself to us. And He has done just that. He has communicated to us within the pages of the Bible, as much of Himself as we are capable of comprehending. And He did this firstly through His prophets and lastly through the Lord Jesus Christ:

“God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds.” (Hebrews 1:1,2, KJV)

The Bible explains that God is spirit (John 4:24); that His presence fills the heavens and the earth (Jeremiah 23:24); and that no man has seen Him as He really is, as He is surrounded by unapproachable light (1 Timothy 6:16).

THE MEANING OF THE WORD “ETERNAL”

Eternal means forever, or everlasting. And when the Bible refers to God as the eternal God, it is indicating that He always has been God, and that He always will be God.

However, in an attempt to fit the Mormon God of eternal progression into the Bible, the LDS maintains that the word eternal does not describe Him. They insist that it is merely His title, in the same way as Mr. is a title. (Mormon Doctrine, LDS Apostle Bruce R. McConkie, page 233 and POGP Moses 7:35, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, page 345, compiled by Joseph Fielding Smith).

But the Bible does not teach Mormonism. It teaches Judaism in the Old Testament and Christianity in the New. And it tells us that there is only one true God, who is unchanging and who has always been God. When He created the world with its dimension of time, He was not part of His creation: He was outside of it, beyond the bounds of time. And because He created everything through Christ, Christ was right there with Him.

God told Moses that He is the I AM. In other words He is always in the here and now, and is not subject to time or change.

“… Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.” (Exodus 3:14, KJV)

Remember when the Jewish leaders wanted to stone Jesus because He called Himself the I AM? (c/f John 8:58). They knew that He was intimating that He was the eternal, unchanging One, i.e. God Himself.

THE ORIGIN OF CHRIST

As a Mormon I was taught that mankind, Jesus and the angelic beings were all the marital offspring of God and His heavenly wife, in what had been our pre-mortal existence. In other words Jesus was our biological brother.

But Christ told another story altogether. He was emphatic about having had a different origin to that of mankind. He said that He had come from heaven, whereas mankind was of the earth:

“And He said unto them, Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world.” (John 8:23, KJV)
“He that cometh from above is above all: he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: He that cometh from heaven is above all.” (John 3:31, KJV)

Then too, Genesis reveals that God had only created mankind after He had created the world and all that was in it. This means that we hadn’t existed prior to that time. And Psalm 148 confirms that the angels were also created beings (albeit that their creation was at an earlier stage to ours). So they were not God’s biological offspring either, as Mormons are taught that they were.

“Praise ye the Lord … Praise ye Him, all his angels … for He commanded, and they were created.” (Psalm 148:1-5, KJV)

Although the Bible sometimes referred to the angels as sons of God, this was merely a well known term of speech that was not meant to be taken literally. There are of plenty of examples that illustrate this. For instance, if you look up 2 Kings 2:7, 5:22, you will discover that when the Bible talked about “the sons” of the prophets, this had nothing to do with their ancestry. It was a term of speech that indicated that they were being instructed by the prophets in ministerial service. And in the same way, God created the angels to serve Himself, and they too are under instruction from Him. So they are sometimes referred to as sons of God.

Paul frequently referred to Timothy as his son for the simple reason that Timothy was under instruction from him in the ministry of the gospel of Jesus Christ:

“To Timothy, my dearly beloved son: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.” (2 Timothy 1:2,KJV)

JESUS AND GODHOOD

The LDS’s Doctrine and Covenants 93:36, says that God’s glory is His intelligence. And Mormons maintain that Jesus attained godhood during His pre-existence, through acquiring the necessary degree of intelligence.

“By obedience and devotion to the truth he [Jesus] attained that pinnacle of intelligence which ranked him as a God, as the Lord Omnipotent, while yet in his pre-existent state.” Mormon Doctrine, Bruce R. McConkie, Page 129).

However, the biblical Jesus never ever claimed to be a God. What He said was that He was in God and that God was in Him. In other words, He and God were one in nature and essence:

“… Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? He that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father? Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? The words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, He doeth the works. Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works’ sake.” (John 14:9-11, KJV)

“… He that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on him that sent me. And he that seeth me seeth him that sent me.” (John 12:44-45, KJV)

“I and my Father are one.” (John 10:30, KJV).

“He [Jesus] is the radiance of His [God’s] glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power.” (Hebrews 1:3, NASU)

“For it pleased the Father that in Him [Christ] should all fulness dwell.” (Colossians 1:19, KJV)

ONE GOD

In various places the Bible refers to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit as each being God. But there is an order. God sends both the Son and the Holy Spirit. And the Son sends the Holy Spirit. But the Holy Spirit does not send either the Father or the Son. So the order is Father, Son, then Holy Spirit. But this order does not mean that they are not each equally God in essence.

When Jesus says in John 14:28, KJV: “I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I,” He is not intimating that God the Father is greater in His nature as God, but in His rank. God the Father is the initiator or the cause. The Son is the doer. He always fulfills or enacts the will of the Father. And the Holy Spirit is the vehicle of the spiritual life and power of both the Father and the Son.

For instance, although Jesus calls us to Himself for salvation, He also says:

“No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him.” (John 6:44, KJV)

“All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven not to do mine own will, but the will of Him that sent me.”(John 6:37-38, KJV)

CHRIST, THE WORD OF GOD

The following verses explain that Jesus was God’s Word, i.e. God’s manifestation of Himself, robed in flesh. So although Jesus was fully man, He was also fully God.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. … And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.” (John 1:1, 14, KJV)

“No man hath seen God [as He is] at any time; the only begotten Son which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him.” (John 1:18, KJV)

“And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh …” (1 Timothy 3:16, KJV)

To go back to John 1:1, we must not overlook the fact that as well as being God, the Word was also with God. Although this boggles our finite minds, the Bible is telling us here as well as in other places, that whilst Jesus (the Word of God) is one in nature and essence with God, at the same time He is also distinct in His personhood.

CHRIST THE SON

One of the titles of Christ is the Son of God. But He also called Himself the Son of Man. The fact that these opposing terms were used interchangeably indicates that they weren’t meant to be taken literally.

If you look up the word son in a Bible concordance you will notice that it was a term of speech that was frequently used in a figurative way, to emphasize the characteristics or nature of the person concerned. And in those days everybody knew that. For instance, in Mark 3:17 Jesus called James and John “sons of thunder,” indicating that they had explosive temperaments. Just so, when Jesus called Himself the Son of Man, He was not implying that He had been fathered by a man. Rather, He was indicating that although He was deity, because of having taken on flesh He was subject to the frailties of man, such as fatigue, hunger, thirst and so on.

In the eyes of the people of those days, the term the Son of God described someone who had the nature of God. That was why the Jewish leaders took offense when Christ used this term for Himself, as well as when He referred to God as His Father. In their eyes He was making Himself equal with God. And their immediate response was to accuse Him of blasphemy.

But don’t let us lose sight of the fact that Philippians 2:6 tells us that Jesus was equal with God.

“Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men.” (Philippians 2:6-7, KJV)

There is a well referenced, easy to read article on this site, that will enable you to understand the meanings of some of the biblical terms of speech that have most frequently led to mistaken ideas. It will give you a far clearer understanding of the Bible, in particular of Christ, especially when it comes to terms such as firstborn, only begotten, and also Father. You will find the article here: Understanding Hebrew Terms of Speech.

CHRIST, THE CREATOR

Just as God the Father was the creator and sustainer of everything that exists, so was Jesus the Son. His might and power are beyond our comprehension. Not only was everything created by Him [Jesus] but it was also created for Him.

“For by Him [i.e. Christ] were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist [i.e. are held together].” (Colossians 1:16-17, KJV)

However, on page 169 of Mormon Doctrine, Bruce McConkie (member of the LDS Quorum of the 12 Apostles) claims that Jesus Christ was assisted in the creation of the earth by mankind, when they were still in their pre-existent state. He names in particular Adam, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Peter, James and John, and Joseph Smith. The references he gives are POGP Abraham 3:22-24 and Doctrines of Salvation, Volume 1, pages 74-75.

It is a fact that Mormon teachings consistently give both Christ and God the appearance of being far less than they are, and mankind far more than we are.

CHRIST ACCEPTED WORSHIP

“And God [Elohim] spake all these words, saying, I am the Lord [Yahweh] thy God [Elohim], which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods [elohim] before me.” (Exodus 20:1-3, KJV)

No Jew would ever worship any being other than the only true God, not even if his life was at stake. When Peter visited him, Cornelius fell down at his feet and worshipped him. This offended Peter, and he immediately reprimanded Cornelius.

“And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him. But Peter took him up, saying, Stand up; I myself also am a man.” (Acts 10:25-26, KJV)

Yet this same Peter and others who were Jewish worshipped Christ, both during His ministry and after His death and ascension. And Christ accepted their worship. Here are a some examples:

“Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when he had found him, he said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God? He answered and said, Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him? And Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee. And he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him.” (John 9:35-38, KJV)

“Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God.” (Matthew 14:33, KJV)

“And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him.” (Matthew 28:9, KJV)

“Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God. Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” (John 20:28-29, KJV)

CHRIST IS THE SOURCE OF LIFE

Just as God is the source of life, so is Jesus.

“In Him (Jesus) was life …” (John 1:4,KJV)

“For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself” (John 5:26, KJV)

CHRIST THE MEDIATOR

As He was fully God and fully man, Christ was the only being who could perfectly represent both God and man. And through His redemptive work on the cross He reconciled man and God.

“And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ …” (2 Corinthians 5:18, KJV)

“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” (1 Timothy 2:5, KJV)

CHRIST THE GOD MAN

Christ was born an Israelite. So He lived under the Law. And He is the only man who has ever fulfilled the Law perfectly. He never, ever sinned. This qualified Him legally to bear our sin in our place. (A man who is guilty of sin cannot stand in for the punishment of another, as he is liable to that same punishment himself.)

The unblemished animals used in the Mosaic sacrificial system were merely a picture of the coming perfect sacrificial Lamb of God. No animal, no matter how perfect it is, has the same value as a man. Nor would any one man be of sufficient value to cover all the sins of all the men who had ever lived. But Christ wasn’t just a man: He was God in the flesh. And as the prophet Isaiah explains, the value of all the nations of mankind when compared to the value of God is as a speck of dust on a scale or a drop of water in a bucket (c/f Isaiah 40:15).

It is hard for us fallen, arrogant, self-centered creatures to credit that our great pure and holy Creator God came down from the glories of heaven in Christ, to live in a fallen world of suffering and sin … for our sakes. But He did. And He did so in order to pay the horrific price necessary to cover our sin, so that we who are guilty could go free.

Out of pure love, goodness and mercy He selflessly took our sins upon Himself and endured the punishment and shame that we deserve, in our place, as our substitute, on that awful cross at Calvary. And He thereby made a way for us to be saved from judgment … and much more. (But that is not the subject of this article.)

“ … By his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.” (Hebrews 9:12, KJV)

However, although Christ paid the price in full, God applies a condition to salvation. He only grants it to those who believe on Him whom He had sent:

“This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom he hath sent.” (John 6:28, KJV).

CONCLUSION

There is a vast difference between the Jesus of Mormonism and the Jesus of the Bible. And with the different Jesus comes a different God.

“And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent.” (John 17:3, NASB)

The following articles have a bearing on what we have been discussing:

This site is dedicated to helping Mormons understand the Bible.

Copyright © 2017 by Yvonne Gibbs. All rights reserved.

Home      Email Us