For a 4-part Viewpoint on Mormonism series that aired in June 2012, click the following links: Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4
When it was learned that 2008 Presidential contender Mike Huckabee was going to ask, “Don’t Mormons believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers?” in an upcoming edition of the New York Times Magazine, Mormons everywhere cried foul. On December 11, 2007 Associated Press journalist Libby Quaid, in an effort to clarify the issue, turned to LDS spokesperson Kim Farah. Sadly, Farah missed a good opportunity to be unambiguous with the American people:
“We believe, as other Christians believe and as Paul wrote, that God is the father of all,” said the spokeswoman, Kim Farah. “That means that all beings were created by God and are his spirit children. Christ, on the other hand, was the only begotten in the flesh and we worship him as the son of God and the savior of mankind,” she said. “Satan is the exact opposite of who Christ is and what he stands for.”
Mormons believe as other Christians believe on this topic? Really? Can Farah name one non-Mormon Christian group that believes we are all the literal children of a God who procreated us by way of a sexual relationship with a “Heavenly Mother”?
I think the great majority of people hearing Farah say,”that all beings were created by God and are his spirit children,” would struggle with the connection here. Would they draw a familial relationship between Jesus and Lucifer on such little information? Probably not. If Farah did indeed give a more candid answer, and this was edited by Quaid, then shame on Quaid. But if this was the best explanation an official LDS spokesperson could give, it appears that the shame lies with Farah and the church she represents. How are readers supposed to understand what Mormons mean when they say all beings, including His spirit children, were created by God? What does it mean when Mormons say Jesus is the “only begotten in the flesh”? In this article, I will tackle the first question, since the second question is covered elsewhere on mrm.org.
Quaid noted that Farah also said such a “question is usually raised by those who wish to smear the Mormon faith, rather than clarify doctrine.” If clarification is what Mormons like Farah really seek, why didn’t she do that? Instead, she sidesteps the issue by making it appear that Mormon belief on this issue is similar to that of other “Christians” when it clearly is not.
Mormonism, like Christianity, shares a belief in angels, but like many other issues that separate these traditions, how these concepts are defined is fundamentally important. In Christianity angels are a distinct creation of God, entirely different in person and function than God or humans. According to Psalm 148:2-5 (except for punctuation, this passage reads the same in both the King James Version and the Joseph Smith Translation):
Praise ye him, all his angels: praise ye him, all his hosts.
Praise ye him, sun and moon: praise him, all ye stars of light.
Praise him, ye heavens of heavens, and ye waters that be above the heavens.
Let them praise the name of the LORD: for he commanded, and they were created.
In Mormonism, however, Gods, angels, and men are of the same species.
“Latter-day Saints believe that angels are men and women, human beings, sons and daughters of God, personages of the same type as we are. Parley P. Pratt, an early apostle, wrote, ‘Gods, angels and men are all of one species, one race, one great family.’ Elder Bruce R. McConkie, a more recent apostle, wrote, ‘These messengers, agents, angels of the Almighty, are chosen from among his offspring and are themselves pressing forward along the course of progression and salvation, all in their respective spheres.” (BYU Professor Robert L. Millet, The Mormon Faith: Understanding Restored Christianity, p.39)
To better understand this teaching, it is important to know that in Mormonism, all angels and humans are literally the sons and daughters of God, begotten in the spirit world by a procreative act between God and his heavenly “wife.”
“By definition exaltation includes the ability to procreate the family unit throughout eternity. This our Father in heaven has power to do. His marriage partner is our mother in heaven. We are their spirit children, born to them in the bonds of celestial marriage.” (Achieving a Celestial Marriage, LDS Church manual, p.129)
Mormon Apostle John A. Widtsoe, noted that sexual relations is not only necessary for this mortality, but it plays an absolutely essential role in the next life as well. It is practiced by God, and all those who are considered worthy enough to achieve celestial exaltation:
“Sex Among the Gods. Sex, which is indispensable on this earth for the perpetuation of the human race, is an eternal quality which has its equivalent everywhere. It is indestructible. The relationship between men and women is eternal and must continue eternally. In accordance with Gospel philosophy there are males and females in heaven. Since we have a Father, who is our God, we must also have a mother, who possesses the attributes of godhood. This simply carries onward the logic of things earthly, and conforms with the doctrine that whatever is on this earth is simply a representation of spiritual conditions of deeper meaning than we can here fathom.” (John A. Widtsoe, Rational Theology, 1915 1st ed., p.64)
“Eternity of Sex. It has already been said that sex is an eternal principle. The equivalent of sex, dimly understood by man, has always existed and will continue forever. Since sex, then, represents an eternal condition, the begetting of children is coincidentally an eternal necessity. We were begotten into the spirit world by God the Father, and have been born into the world which we now possess.” (John A. Widtsoe, Rational Theology, 1915 1st ed., p.146)
In essence, Lucifer is not only the brother of Jesus, but he is also the brother of all mankind. This connection has been made many times by LDS leadership when discussing the LDS doctrine of the “war in heaven.”
“Our Father said, ‘Whom shall I send?’ (Abraham 3:27). Two of our brothers offered to help. Our oldest brother, Jesus Christ, who was then called Jehovah, said, ‘Here am I, send me’….Satan, who was called Lucifer, also came, saying, ‘Behold, here am I, send me, I will be thy son, and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor’ (Moses 4:1).” (Gospel Principles, 1997, pp.17-18).
“After hearing both sons speak, Heavenly Father said, ‘I will send the first.’ (Abraham 3:27).” (Gospel Principles , 15).
“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.” (Seventy Milton R. Hunter, The Gospel Through the Ages, Melchizedek priesthood manual, 15).
“In the grand council called to ratify the Father’s plan, a great difference arose. The majority, led by the First Born of the Father, our Elder Brother, Jesus the Christ, was ready to accept the plan with all its conditions. The minority, led by Lucifer, a ‘son of the morning,’ feared the isolation and the pains and ills of earth. For them Lucifer proposed that they should be sent to earth, but that provisions should be made by which they would suffer no pain and would not have to make any sacrifices. All of them would be returned with earthly bodies irrespective of their works on earth. This latter plan seemed desirable that one-third of those present favored it, in direct opposition of God’s plan. Lucifer and his followers were thrown out of the council, and as opponents of God’s plan, became the devil and his angels, who strive ever to tempt men to disobey the laws of God.” (John A. Widtsoe, Joseph Smith – Seeker After Truth, pp.156-157)
“According to our teachings, Satan and an army of supporters were cast down to earth from the premortal spirit world. They are spirit brothers of ours, and are real persons having spirit bodies.” (Mormon Apostle Joseph F. Merrill, Conference Report, April 1941, p.49)
Consider also the following:
Writing for the LDS periodical Times and Seasons, W.W. Phelps stated:
“And again, we exclaim, O Mormonism! No wonder that Lucifer, son of the morning, the next heir to Jesus Christ, our eldest brother, should fight so hard against his brethren; he lost the glory, the honor, power, and dominion of a God: and the knowledge, spirit, authority and keys of the priesthood of the son of God!” (Times and Seasons, 5:758)
Seventy Joseph Young (brother of Brigham Young):
“Who is it that is at the head of this? It is the Devil, the mighty Lucifer, the great prince of the angels, and the brother of Jesus.” (Journal of Discourses 6:207).
Mormon Apostle James Talmage:
“Christ, the Creator of heaven and earth, tabernacled as He then was in mortal flesh, may not have remembered His preexistent state, nor the part He had taken in the great council of the Gods; while Satan, an unembodied spirit—he the disinherited, the rebellious and rejected son—seeking to tempt the Being through whom the world was created by promising Him part of what was wholly His, still may have had, as indeed he may yet have, a remembrance of those primeval scenes.” (James Talmage, Jesus the Christ, p.132)
Mormon Apostle John A. Widtsoe:
“The story of Lucifer is the most terrible example of such apostasy. Lucifer, son of the morning, through diligent search for truth and the use of it, had become one of the foremost in the assembly of those invited to undertake the experiences of earth. But, in that Great Council, his personal ambition and love of power overcame him. He pitted his own plan and will against the purposes of God. He strove to gain the birthright of his Elder Brother, Jesus the Christ” (John A. Widtsoe, Evidences and Reconciliations, p.209).
In 1915 the LDS periodical Improvement Era ran an article titled, “The Temptation of Christ.” In it the following points were made:
“It is said that after Jesus had fasted forty days he was an hungered. How keen the pangs of starvation we shall never know. He must have been at the point of famishing or the greatest test was not yet made. The hour had come to strike. Every spirit throughout the limitless empires was intense with fear and hope. The two brothers were about to meet-the one starving and trembling, was at his weakest point, proving himself to be worthy of being the Savior of the world; the other, Lucifer, the star of the morning, though defeated in heaven, was now at the height of his glory; the prince of earth, with all nations at his feet… Did Lucifer pale at the thought of offering all of his conquests? Yet, to be rejected would be a defeat as fatal as his defeat in heaven. Stand with me in fancy’s realm and picture the scene anew; the two brothers are face to face, the one holding the kingdoms of the earth as his own; the other come to redeem them from their enslaved condition. Lucifer not only claimed the earth and her inhabitants, but he held them in the bondage of ignorance and superstition.” (Improvement Era, October 1915, volume XVIII, number 12)
12th Mormon President Spencer W. Kimball:
“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.” (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, pp. 32-33).
“In the wilderness of Judaea, on the temple’s pinnacles and on the high mountain, a momentous contest took place between two brothers, Jehovah and Lucifer, sons of Elohim… Satan, also a son of God, had rebelled and had been cast out of heaven and not permitted an earthly body as had his brother Jehovah. Much depended upon the outcome of this spectacular duel” (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p.34).
“The importance of not accommodating temptation in the least degree is underlined by the Savior’s example. Did not he recognize the danger when he was on the mountain with his fallen brother, Lucifer, being sorely tempted by that master tempter?” (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p.163. See also Teachings of Presidents of the Church; Spencer W. Kimball, pp.107-108).
“Similarly Satan had contended for the subservience of Moses. Satan, also a son of God, had rebelled and had been cast out of heaven and not permitted an earthly body as had his brother Jehovah. Much depended upon the outcome of this spectacular duel” (Faith Precedes the Miracle, p.87).
Mormon Apostle Robert D. Hales:
“We cannot remember that we once lived with our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and that we probably sat in meetings much like this, where the Father’s plan for us was explained. We cannot remember that Lucifer, a son of God the Father, a brother of Jesus Christ, rebelled against God’s plan and, in his rebellion, promised he would bring us all back home. But Lucifer would have denied us our free agency, the freedom to make decisions. We cannot remember that his plan was not accepted by us because, without choice, there would not have been a purpose for coming to this mortal probation. We would not have had opposition or repentance. We would not have learned obedience.” (Robert D. Hales, “The Aaronic Priesthood: Return with Honor,” Ensign, Conference edition, May 1990, 39).
In 1946 a new course of study was released for the Melchizedek Priesthood quorums, Written and published under the direction of the general authorities, it was authored by LDS Seventy Milton R. Hunter, and published under the title of The Gospel Through the Ages:
“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)
Mormon Apostle Joseph F. Merrill:
“Now there is another personality of which I desire to speak, one that the world calls by a name, but in whose reality as a personal Being it does not believe and that person is Satan, the Devil. But according to our understanding and teaching. Satan is a person with a spirit body, in form like that of all other men. He is a spirit brother of ours and of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is our Elder Brother in the spirit world” (Conference Reports, April 1949, p.27).
In the “I Have a Question” section of the LDS magazine Ensign, Jess L. Christensen wrote:
“On first hearing, the doctrine that Lucifer and our Lord, Jesus Christ, are brothers may seem surprising to some—especially to those unacquainted with latter-day revelations. But both the scriptures and the prophets affirm that Jesus Christ and Lucifer are indeed offspring of our Heavenly Father and, therefore, spirit brothers. (Isa. 14:12; D&C 76:25–27.) Both Jesus and Lucifer were strong leaders with great knowledge and influence. But as the Firstborn of the Father, Jesus was Lucifer’s older brother. (See Col. 1:15; D&C 93:21.)” (Jess L. Christensen, “I Have a Question,” Ensign, June 1986, pp.25–26.)
In their book No More Strangers, Emeritus General Authority Hartman Rector, Jr., and his wife Connie, record the following story as told by LDS Church member Naomi Adair Hendrickson:
“This is what they [the Mormon missionaries] told me: God has a physical body shaped like a man’s except that it is a resurrected and perfected body of flesh and bones and spirit-no longer corruptible. He has a head, body, legs, and arms such as ours. He has feelings and emotions-love, compassion, jealousy, anger, and so on-much as we have, though in him they are controlled and exercised to perfection. He once was as we are now, and we may some day become as he is now. He once lived in accordance with eternal laws on a planet such as ours. In due time he obtained the power to beget spirit children—to become a God or Father in heaven. Jesus Christ was the first born of his children in heaven. Probably Lucifer similarly was among those early born spirits. Both are older brothers of ours, Jesus Christ being our eldest brother. We were created in God’s image.” (No More Strangers, 3:91)
John Henry Evans, a highly respected Mormon author, noted:
“As for the devil and his fellow spirits, they are brothers to man and also to Jesus and sons and daughters of God in the same sense that we are.” (John Henry Evans, Joseph Smith: An American Prophet, p. 341)
Brent L. Top, an LDS author who has contributed many articles to LDS publications, including Ensign, wrote:
“Almost like echoes from eternity past, one can logically hear Lucifer using the same types of arguments as he denounced Jehovah. He may have accused him of oppressing and misleading the spirit children of God so that he might have power over them. Perhaps, because of the perils inherent in the Father’s plan, Satan could cleverly (though falsely) accuse Jehovah of indifference towards his brothers and sisters, since many would be lost.” (Brent L. Top, The Life Before, pp.126-127)
That Jesus and Lucifer are considered brothers in Mormon thought cannot be denied. That being the case, Mormons really have no right to act incredulous when such a question is raised about what has historically been a part of their doctrine. In doing so, they only exacerbate the suspicion many have for Mormons and the church they represent.