Is the LDS Jesus different from what is taught in the Bible?

By Eric Johnson

Question/Comment: On your website you have a page which claims that ‘the Mormon Jesus’ is different from the Jesus other Christians believe in. I assure you that the Christ members of the LDS church have faith in is the same Christ from The Bible. If you think He is different, then it’s because you have changed ‘your’ Jesus to be what you want Him to be, not because the LDS member have changed Him. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the very church that Christ Himself organized and He is who is at the head of the LDS church.

Response:

Thanks for writing us. It is greatly appreciated. Allow me to comment…

I believe the Jesus of Mormonism is different from the traditional Christ of Christianity. President Gordon Hinckley agrees with me when he said,

“As a church we have critics, many of them. They say we do not believe in the traditional Christ of Christianity. There is some substance to what they say” (Gordon Hinckley, “We look to Christ,” Ensign (Conference Edition), May 2002, p. 90).

Apostle Bruce R. McConkie taught,

“And virtually all the millions of apostate Christendom have abased themselves before the mythical throne of a mythical Christ whom they vainly suppose to be a spirit essence who is incorporeal uncreated, immaterial and three-in-one with the Father and Holy Spirit” (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 1966, pg.269).

Seventy Bernard Brockbank stated in a general conference,

“It is true that many of the Christian churches worship a different Jesus Christ than is worshipped by the Mormons or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” (Bernard P. Brockbank, “The Living Christ,” Ensign (Conference Edition), May 1977, p. 26).

What are some of the ways He is different. For one, the LDS Jesus had to work for his salvation. McConkie taught,

“Christ worked out his own salvation by worshipping the Father. After the Firstborn of the Father, while yet a spirit being, had gained power and intelligence that made him like unto God; after he had become, under the Father, the Creator of worlds without number; after he had reigned on the throne of eternal power as the Lord Omnipotent-after all this he yet had to gain a mortal and then an immortal body” (Sermons and Writings of Bruce R. McConkie, 1966, p. 61).

Seventy Milton R. Hunter believed that Jesus had to have continuous obedience, according to a 1945 Melchizedek priesthood manual:

“Jesus became a God and reached His great state of understanding through consistent effort and continuous obedience to all the Gospel truths and universal laws” (Milton R. Hunter, The Gospel Through the Ages, p. 51).

According to Mormonism, perfection is something that Jesus apparently did not have when He was here on earth, for one apostle explained,

“That Jesus attained eternal perfection following his resurrection is confirmed in the Book of Mormon. It records the visit of the resurrected Lord to the people of ancient America. There he repeated the important injunction previously cited but with one very significant addition. He said, ‘I would that ye should be perfect even as I, or your Father who is in heaven is perfect.’ This time he listed himself along with his Father as a perfected personage. Previously he had not” (Russell M. Nelson, “Perfection Pending,” Ensign (Conference Edition), November 1995, p. 87).

Christians beleive that Jesus is God made flesh (see John 1:1-14), which we call the Incarnation. Christ was God from the very beginning and never lost His deity upon the Incarnation. (See Phil. 2:5-11.) Rather, He is 100% God and 100% man. He never sinned–He couldn’t even if He wanted to, as the LDS writers seem to insist He could do–and sits at the right hand of God the Father. It belittles Jesus to say that he “became a god” and had to have “consistent and continuous obedience to all the Gospel.”

Second, the Jesus of Mormonism is nothing more than the spirit brother of Lucifer, as Milton R. Hunter taught in a Melchizidek priesthood manaul in 1945:

“The appointment of Jesus to be the Savior of the world was contested by one of the other sons of God. He was called Lucifer, son of the morning. Haughty, ambitious, and covetous of power and glory, this spirit-brother of Jesus desperately tried to become the Savior of mankind” (Milton R. Hunter, The Gospel Through the Ages, p. 15).

That thought was agreed upon by an LDS professor:

“Jesus was the firstborn spirit child of God the Father and thus the recipient of the birthright of the royal family. As such, and in that premortal realm, he was the Elder Brother of all of the spirit sons and daughters of the Father” (BYU Professor Robert L. Millet, A Different Jesus? The Christ of the Latter-day Saints, p. 20).

Such a concept is belittling to the Personhood of Jesus; He is not my (or Lucifer’s) brother in the “preexistence.” (Where in the Bible does such an idea come?) Instead, Jesus was, is, and always will be God (Romans 9:5). While we as humans can become children of God through our faith in Him, the Bible writers never insinuated that, somehow, we were related in any way, shape, or form from a spiritual beginning.

Finally, the blood of Jesus alone is not efficacious to cleanse a person from sin. As one LDS tract states:

“Christians speak often of the blood of Christ and its cleansing power. Much that is believed and taught on this subject, however, is such utter nonsense and so palpably false that to believe it is to lose one’s salvation. Many go so far, for instance, as to pretend, at least, to believe that if we confess Christ with our lips and avow that we accept him as our personal Savior, we are thereby saved. His blood, without other act than mere belief, they say, makes us clean” (LDS Tract titled What the Mormons Think of Christ, p. 31).

The Bible teaches that we can receive justificaiton through belief in Jesus and His work done on the cross (Rom. 10:9-10; Acts 16:31). According to Romans 3:

21 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—26 he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.

Second Corinthians 11:4 says it’s possible to hold on to a false Jesus. And Galatians 1:8-9 says we can buy into a false gospel, which Paul says is “no gospel at all.” A person who buys into this false Jesus and false Gospel may feel like he/she is doing OK with God when this isn’t true at all. If a religion teaches false doctrine, its precepts ought to be abandoned. Even the Bereans were considered more noble than the Thessalonians in Acts 17 because they searched the scriptures to see if what Paul was teaching was true. We ought to be like the Bereans and not allow any old Jesus to satisfy us. Settle only for the authentic, which is acceptance of the true Jesus. The LDS version of Jesus is, unfortunately, missing the mark.

For more on the topic of God and the nature of the Godhead, click here.