By Eric Johnson
The name of Jesus (also known as Jehovah) is found in the name of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Many Christians are surprised, however, to learn that the Jesus of Mormonism is different than what is taught in the Bible.
Jesus had his beginning when he was born to God the Father and Heavenly Mother in the preexistence. As one church manual put it, “The oldest child in our heavenly family was Jesus Christ. He is our oldest brother” (Gospel Fundamentals, 2002, p. 5). Twelfth President Spencer W. Kimball explains,
Long before you were born a program was developed by your creators. . . . The principal personalities in this great drama were a Father Elohim, perfect in wisdom, judgment, and person, and two sons, Lucifer and Jehovah (Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, pp. 32,33. Ellipsis mine).
There was a conflict between Jesus and Lucifer climaxed at a council in heaven, as described by Seventy Milton R. Hunter:
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 (The Gospel Through the Ages, p. 15).
Jesus was appointed to be the Savior of the world and came to this earth through a “virgin birth”:
From their accounts we learn that Jesus was born of a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to marry Joseph when an angel of the Lord appeared to her. The angel told her that she was to be the mother of the Son of God. She asked him how this was possible (see Luke 1:34). He told her, ‘The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God’ (Luke 1:35). Thus, God the Father became the literal Father of Jesus Christ. Jesus is the only person on earth to be born of a mortal mother and an immortal Father. That is why He is called the Only Begotten Son (Gospel Principles, 2009, pp. 52-53).
Although it doesn’t seem to be taught today, several earlier leaders taught that Jesus was married. For instance, Apostle Orson Hyde explained,
It will be borne in mind that once on a time, there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and on a careful reading of that transaction, it will be discovered that no less a person than Jesus Christ was married on that occasion. If he was never married, his intimacy with Mary and Martha, and the other Mary also whom Jesus loved, must have been highly unbecoming and improper to say the best of it (Journal of Discourses 4:259).
Regardless, Jesus lived a sinless life and it is through the Atonement that everyone born in the world has a chance to go to one of three kingdoms of glory. Yet Jesus had to earn his position. Apostle Richard G. Scott gives an overall summary of what Jesus did:
Jesus Christ possessed merits that no other child of Heavenly Father could possibly have. He was a God, Jehovah, before His birth in Bethlehem. His beloved Father not only gave Him His spirit body, but Jesus was His Only Begotten Son in the flesh. Our Master lived a perfect, sinless life and therefore was free from the demands of justice. He was and is perfect in every attribute, including love, compassion, patience, obedience, forgiveness, and humility. His mercy pays our debt to justice when we repent and obey Him. Since with even our best efforts to obey His teachings we will still fall short, because of His grace we will be saved, “after all we can do” (“The Atonement Can Secure Your Peace and Happiness,” Ensign (Conference Edition), May 1997, p. 53).
Yet Jesus had to work this out in this life on earth, according to tenth President Joseph Fielding Smith:
CHRIST GAINED FULNESS AFTER RESURRECTION. The Savior did not have a fulness 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 which he did not receive until after his resurrection. In other words he had not received the fulness until he got a resurrected body, and the same is true with those who through faithfulness become sons of God. Our bodies are essential to the fulness and the continuation of the seeds forever (Doctrines of Salvation 1:33)
Latter-day Saints believe Jesus will return in a Second Coming at Independence, MO and institute a millennial kingdom.
What Does Christianity Teach
Mormon leaders admit that the Jesus of Mormonism is different than what has been taught in Christian churches for 2,000 years. Consider these quotations:
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 (Apostle Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 1966, p. 269).
It is true that many of the Christian churches worship a different Jesus Christ than is worshiped by the Mormons or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Seventy Bernard P. Brockbank, “The Living Christ,” Ensign (Conference Edition), May 1977, p. 26)
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 (15th President Gordon B. Hinckley, “We look to Christ,” Ensign (Conference Edition), May 2002, p. 90).
According to the Bible, Jesus is:
- always God (John 1:1, 14) from the beginning of time and not just “a” god
- the second member of the Trinity
- fully man as well as God (1 Tim. 2:5)
- the Redeemer of His people (those who have faith in Him)
Verses used to support Mormonism’s view of Jesus
- Luke 2:52: Nature of Jesus
- Luke 23:44-46: Death of Jesus
- John 14:28: Father greater than Jesus
- John 17:3: Glorifying the Father
- John 20:17: Jesus my God
- Acts 2:36: Jesus created by the Father?
- Philippians 2:5-8: Jesus not God?