, we began an examination of the nature of God, comparing the doctrines of orthodox Christianity with that of the group that refers to itself as "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." Now, we will continue this examination as we discuss the LDS view on the nature of Christ, the second person of the trinity.
Hold in mind through our examination that conservative Christianity, while believing in the full deity of Christ, still holds that there is but one God: “For there is one person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, is all one” (the Nicene Creed). We will not go into depth on the doctrine of the Trinity here since this is a topic of great depth. For now, just accept that Christians since the beginning of the Church have accepted that there is “one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity.” Therefore, when they speak of Jesus, they speak of the second person of the Trinity, not some other God.
Mormons, on the other hand, believe that Jesus and God the Father are entirely separate and comprise two Gods. Thus, from the start, Christian dogma stands in stark contrast to Mormon teaching in regard to Jesus.
Yet their differences do not end here. The LDS teachings on Christ Jesus stand in such contrast to orthodox Christianity that we must deal with them entirely separate of our dealings with the doctrine of the essential nature of God.
Let’s start this discussion on ground which both Christians and Mormons are agreed upon: namely that Jesus is the Son of God. At first glance, this appears to be a straightforward and genuine agreement between the LDS church and the Christian Church. Yet as we dig deeper, we find that this is not the case. When we look beneath the surface of the Mormon’s beliefs on Jesus’ Sonship, we find that they in fact proclaim Jesus as the literal son of God.
To explain what this means, we must first examine another heretical teaching of Mormonism. You see, the LDS church teaches that “God” has a wife, a woman who also attained glorification. This doctrine is evidenced throughout their writings. Consider the words of Melvin J. Ballard, member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the LDS church, “as we have a Father in heaven, so also we have a Mother there, a glorified, exalted, ennobled Mother.”
Despite the fact that there is no scriptural backing for this, whether in the Bible or any other of the Mormon scriptures, the Mormons continue to hold to the idea of a Mother God with astonishing tenacity, LDS Apostle Abraham H. Cannon once writing, “The fact that there is no reference to a mother in heaven either in the Bible, Book of Mormon or Doctrine and Covenants, is not sufficient proof that no such thing as a mother did exist there.” He concludes, saying, “Does not common sense tell us that we must have had a mother there also?” He fails, however, to demonstrate any of the “common sense” behind his conclusion. So unreasonable and unfounded is the belief in a “mother god” that Cannon must close lamely with an empty and unexplained appeal to common sense!
Indeed, the Scriptural evidence, both Mormon and Christian, is entirely opposed to the idea of a “mother god.” One such example is found in Colossians 1:16, which tell us that all things were created by God. Did God then create His own wife? Or did Christ create his own mother? “Common sense,” as Cannon so aptly put it, scoffs at the concept of this “mother god.” Yet the Mormon church continues to hold steadfastly to a belief in this Mother God.
Now we can see what is meant by the Mormons when they claim for Jesus the position of “literal” son of God. They mean quite simply that Jesus is the first-born child of God the Father and the Mother God, the result of sexual relations between God and His wife before the creation of the world. Donald Q. Cannon, associate dean of Religious Education at Brigham Young University and bishop in the LDS church, along with Larry E. Dahl and John W. Welch, writes, “Jesus was in the beginning with the Father and was the Father’s firstborn spirit child.” According to the LDS church, Jesus eternal and uncreate Son of God, but rather, simply one among many sons, who attained deity by following the code which God set for him to follow in His premortal life.
Of course, without the “mother god,” this belief falls to the ground. Yet, as we dig further, we find still more, fundamental flaws with this teaching, for according to this doctrine, Jesus was not (and therefore is not) the eternal God. Rather, as Wilford Woodruf, fourth president of the Mormon church states, “the savior was born in the flesh, and the Father said that he did not give him a fullness at first but continued from grace to grace until he had received a fullness and was called the Son of God because he did not receive a fullness at first.” Yet, Paul writes that, “In Him the entire fullness of God's nature dwells bodily.” If the entire fullness of God’s nature dwells in Christ, this would mean that, since God is unchanging, Christ too must be unchanging. But how then could He have changed from bearing the nature of the created to that of the Eternal Creator?
In addition, Christ, in whom the “entire fullness” of God’s nature dwells, must be eternal, with neither beginning nor end, for God is eternal. As John Calvin claimed, “[Christ] is the eternal God who was manifested in the flesh.” This is made clear when Jesus describes Himself with the following words: “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.” He is the beginning and the end, for He has no beginning or end. Yet if He has neither beginning nor end, how can God have brought him forth as “the Father’s firstborn spirit child” as Cannon, Dahl, and Welch claim? Clearly, these doctrines are in contradiction. Which then shall we accept, the word of flawed and fallen men, or the true Word of the eternal, unchanging God?
Yet another point of contention between orthodox Christianity and Mormonism is found in the doctrine of the virgin birth. To understand the nature of this disagreement, we must first understand what orthodox Christianity teaches about the incarnation, the coming of Christ, the Son of God to earth as a man.
Traditional theology affirms that Christ was born of the Virgin Mary. As J.I. Packer writes, “Mary became pregnant by the Holy Spirit’s creative action without any sexual relationship.” This is clearly seen in Luke’s account of the birth of Christ. The angel Gabriel said to Mary, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.” The angel made this statement in response to Mary’s inquiry, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?” Thus the words of the angel seem to imply an act of special creation on the part of the Holy Spirit. This has been the stance of the orthodox Christian Church.
The Mormon Church, however, claims that God the Father came down to earth and had sexual relations with Mary, resulting in the incarnation of Jesus Christ. As Brigham Young said,
“The man Joseph, the husband of Mary, did not, that we know of, have more than one wife, but Mary the wife of Joseph had another husband. … That very babe that was cradled in the manger, was begotten, not by Joseph, the husband of Mary, but by another Being. Do you inquire by whom? He was begotten by God our heavenly Father” (Journal of Discourses 11:268).
Elsewhere we read, “Christ [was] not begotten of [the] Holy Ghost … Christ was begotten of God. He was not born without the aid of Man and that Man was God!” (Doctrines and Covenants 1:18). As Bruce McConkie writes, “Christ was begotten by an Immortal Father in the same way that mortal men are begotten by mortal fathers.” The incarnation according to Mormons is no miracle. There is nothing special in the conception of Jesus save that His father was God. As Brigham Young once said, “The birth of the saviour was as natural as are the births of our children; it was the result of natural action. He partook of flesh and blood – was begotten of his Father, as we were of our Fathers” (Journal of Discourses 8:115).
As can be clearly seen, the teachings of Christianity and of Mormonism regarding the nature of Christ are incompatible. The LDS church worships a different Jesus from the Jesus of Christianity. Their Jesus is not the Eternal God incarnate, but rather a finite, created, changing son of God. They have exchanged the Truth of God for a lie. They worship the creations of their own imaginations. Can we engage in such practices? We must lovingly guide Mormons into a proper knowledge of the Eternal Creator, to whom be praise and glory for ever and ever. Amen.