by Sharon Lindbloom
6 December 2023
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints presented its 2023 First Presidency Christmas Devotional on December 3rd. This event featured The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square (formerly known as the Mormon Tabernacle Choir) and comments by several LDS church leaders. Though church President Russell M. Nelson was present at the event, his address to the audience was given via a pre-recorded video.
During these recorded remarks, President Nelson shared some personal Christmas memories before arriving at the heart of his message: Jesus Christ. He began,
“Just think about the incomprehensible magnitude of what Jesus Christ accomplished — all according to the will of his Father. Jesus was already a God when he condescended, to come to earth to complete the most crucial feat for each of us.” (1:53:00. Emphasis in the original.)
Here President Nelson set the context for the remainder of his Christmas message, making clear that the Christ of whom he was speaking is not the Christ of the Bible.
Though President Nelson quoted the Bible in his remarks, though he spoke of “the babe in Bethlehem,” and “the cross of Calvary,” he wasn’t talking about the biblical Christ who was always God (see John 1:1-14); he was talking about a being who once was not a God, a being who became a God by persistent obedience to Mormonism’s gospel laws. According to an LDS book “written and published under the direction of the General Priesthood Committee of the Council of the Twelve of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,”
“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(1945), 51)
Every statement about Christ made by the LDS needs to be understood within this framework. The Jesus proclaimed and adored by the Mormon church is a “different Jesus”:
“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.” (LDS Seventy Bernard P. Brockbank, Ensign, May 1977, 26)
While serving as the fifteenth president of the LDS church, Gordon B. Hinckley affirmed,
“The traditional Christ of whom [those outside the LDS church] speak is not the Christ of whom I speak.” (Church News, week ending June 20, 1998, 7)
The Christ of the LDS church differs from the Bible’s revelation in many very significant ways, which explains the plain and forceful assessment presented by LDS Apostle Bruce McConkie:
“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.” (Mormon Doctrine (1966), 269)
President Nelson’s devotional statement that Jesus was “already a God” when He was born in a stable attests to traditional LDS theology: That Jesus was first born in the pre-existence to Heavenly Father and a Heavenly Mother, as were all people; that apart from being further along the path of eternal progression He is no different than any other human being; that Jesus attained Godhood, just the same as all human beings may, by obedience to laws and ordinances.
Mormonism is identified as a non-Christian religion by Bible-believing Christians, a designation Latter-day Saints deny. Pointing to the name of Christ in the name of their church, the image of Christ in their church logo, the church’s formula of offering prayer in Christ’s name, and their unique scriptures that “talk of Christ…rejoice in Christ…preach of Christ…[and] prophesy of Christ” (2 Nephi 25:26), Mormons insist their church is Christian. But the church has reimagined the Person of Jesus Christ and thus, the word “Christian” is redefined.
As President Nelson describes Jesus Christ with biblical titles like “Savior,” “Redeemer,” and “Son of God”–
As the LDS church lights up Times Square with huge digital displays of the traditional Christmas nativity–
As The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square sings “O come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord”–
Remember the LDS theological framework that surrounds these statements. According to Mormonism, Jesus Christ
- Is a created being
- Was not always God
- Was not perfect at first
- Needed to work out His own salvation
- Attained the status of a God by obedience to laws and ordinances
- Is not unique in that every human being also has the potential to become a God
In contrast, Christ is *revealed in the Bible to be
- The self-existent “I Am”
- Eternally God
- Immutably Perfect
- Everlastingly Holy
- Absolutely unique
- The only true God
The Christ of Mormonism is unequivocally a “different Jesus.” The songs and celebrations that the LDS church couches in biblical words do not change that fact.
So, this column today is a cautionary tale. The LDS church, especially at Christmas, looks good. It sounds good. But theologically, the Bible says to “beware,” because the LDS church’s respectable clothing is concealing “ravenous wolves” (Matthew 7:15. See also 2 Corinthians 11:13.).
The Bible is filled with promises for those who trust in Christ. Indeed, those promises are fulfilled only in Him (2 Corinthians 1:20). A false Christ – that is, a different Christ – cannot fulfill those beautiful promises for forgiveness and reconciliation with God, leading to an eternal home in His presence. A false Christ can only lead people down the broad way to destruction (Matthew 7:13).
As we celebrate Christmas, let us come and adore Immanuel, the one true God with us. He alone is worthy of our worship. He alone has come to save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21-23).
*For these biblical attributes see: John 8:58; Jeremiah 10:10; John 1:1; Psalm 93:2; James 1:17; Psalm 18:30; 2 Samuel 22:31; 1 John 3:5; 1 Peter 1:15-16; John 6:69; Isaiah 44:6
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