Is the Jesus of Mormonism the Jesus of the Bible?

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The Bible. Image by Alex Grodkiewicz. Adapted for Redemption of Humanity. Used under licence.
The Book of Mormon. Image from Wikimedia Commons. Public domain.

Last edited on 25/Jan/2021

Introduction

The answer to this question is no; the Jesus of Mormonism is not the same Jesus of the Bible. This conclusion is unavoidable when one compares the teachings of the Mormon religion, which include the writings of high-profile Mormons, with the teachings of the Bible, the only source of authority and doctrine for the Christian religion. Please understand that it is not the intention of this article to be disrespectful or insulting towards Mormons or their faith, nor has it been written in such a way. Instead, it is only concerned with comparing the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint’s teachings with that of the Bible—Biblical Christianity—and in drawing a logical and honest conclusion from the results found.

Quote From a Mormon President

To start off with, President Hinckley of the Mormon religion declared:

In bearing testimony of Jesus Christ, President Hinckley spoke of those outside the Church who say Latter-day Saints ‘do not believe in the traditional Christ.’ ‘No, I don’t. The traditional Christ of whom they speak is not the Christ of whom I speak. For the Christ of whom I speak has been revealed in this the Dispensation of the Fullness of Times. He together with His Father, appeared to the boy Joseph Smith in the year 1820, and when Joseph left the grove that day, he knew more of the nature of God than all the learned ministers of the gospel of the ages.’ (LDS Church News Week ending June 20, 1998, p. 7) ³

President Hinckley stated very clearly that the Jesus whom Mormons believe in is not the same as the “traditional” Jesus whom Christians believe in, and he based his argument on the alleged appearance of Christ (and God the Father) to Joseph Smith at a grove in 1820. He seemed to have understood the fundamental differences between Christian and Mormon beliefs. This is important, because faith is only as good as what you put it in. Belief in the true Jesus is necessary for salvation; only the Jesus of the Bible can reveal the Father (Matthew 11:27), send the Holy Spirit (John 16:7), and is the way to eternal life (John 14:6). While the quote above correctly distinguishes between the two Christs, it fails in recognising that the teachings of Mormonism oppose and contradict the teachings of the Bible with regards to Jesus, which means that the Mormon faith teaches a false Jesus.

The Bible Warns Us about Religious Groups Which Proclaim False Christs

Ever since the times of the apostles, the apostle Paul warned us of those who preach a different Jesus than the Jesus proclaimed in the Bible:

But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. 4 For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough. (2 Corinthians 11:3–4)

Therefore, if a religious group or individual claims something about Christ that is in contradiction to or inconsistent with the testimony of the inspired authors of the Bible, then the Christ whom they are preaching is not the real Christ of the Bible. The Mormon religion has done this many times. One example has already been given: Joseph Smith, who was the founder and alleged prophet of Mormonism, claimed that Jesus Christ and God the Father appeared to him in a grove in 1820.

The Alleged Appearance of Christ to Joseph Smith in 1820

In this appearance, Jesus supposedly told him that all Christian churches were corrupt and that he should join none of them in the following account:

It no sooner appeared than I found myself delivered from the enemy which held me bound. When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!   18 My object in going to inquire of the Lord was to know which of all the sects was right, that I might know which to join. No sooner, therefore, did I get possession of myself, so as to be able to speak, than I asked the Personages who stood above me in the light, which of all the sects was right (for at this time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong)—and which I should join.   19 I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: “they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof. (Joseph Smith—History 1:17-19) ⁴

How This Alleged Appearance Compares with the Biblical Jesus

This is not the Jesus of the Bible. In fact, the real Jesus even tells us in Matthew 24:23–27 that if anyone claims to have seen him before his second advent—when he will come on the clouds of Heaven with power and great glory to judge the living and the dead (Matthew 24:29–31)—not to believe them, and that they are false prophets:

Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. 24 For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. 25 See, I have told you beforehand. 26 So, if they say to you, ‘Look, he is in the wilderness’, do not go out. If they say, ‘Look, he is in the inner rooms’, do not believe it. 27 For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. (Matthew 24:23–27)

Notice how Joseph Smith claimed to have both seen “the Christ” before that time (the second coming) and also that he was “in the wilderness” (a grove), which was one of the examples Jesus directly warned the apostles and the early Christians against. Like Jesus said, when he comes everyone will realise it. It will be like “the lightning” that “comes from the east and shines as far as the west“, and it will be a time of judgement. It will not be a secret appearance to one person, nor will there be two appearances or more. Jesus will appear on the Earth again only once and it will be on the last day. This means that Joseph Smith was proclaiming another Christ, whom he claimed to see before the real Christ’s second coming.

Another issue is that the real Jesus would never contradict himself by saying that all Christian churches are false and have lost the true gospel message. The Jesus of the Bible said:

And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (Matthew 16:18)

Here, Jesus clearly said that the gates of hell would not prevail against his church. If the gospel message were lost and there was no true Christian church left, according to Mormonism’s belief, then the gates of hell would have prevailed. But this is clearly not true. It would help to note that the church which Jesus spoke of is the universal body of all Christian believers all over the world, who each believe the same gospel message. It is not a specific organisation, religious group, or ecclesiastical body. The church is the body of Christ, and Christ is the head of the body. Wherever true Christians are present, the true church is present, because Christians are the church according to Christ.

Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, (Colossians 1:24)

Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. (1 Corinthians 12:27)

For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” — Jesus Christ (Matthew 18:20)

The 19th century Jesus which Mormonism teaches failed in protecting the body of Christ from destructive heresies that completely corrupted the gospel message, but the real Jesus of the Bible protected it, has been building it up for the last 2,000 years, and continues to do so to this day.

Christological Issues

Aside from the false appearance of Christ and Mormonism’s equally false claims of all churches being corrupt in 1820, there are many contradictions between the attributes and nature of the Christ that Mormonism teaches and the attributes and nature of the Christ that the Bible teaches. This section will mainly deal with doctrines concerning the origins of Christ and his pre-existence.

Jesus’ Origins in Mormonism

According to Mormonism, Jesus was created. It teaches that God the Father and his wife, the Heavenly Mother, procreated to give birth to Jesus, their first spirit child, in a spiritual realm where he pre-existed before he came to Earth (this is a false teaching; also, God does not have a wife—there is only one God in all existence). This means that according to the Mormon religion, Jesus is not the Creator of all things in existence, but instead is referred to as everyone’s elder brother. The second spirit child whom the Heavenly Mother gave birth to was Lucifer (also known as Satan), which makes the devil the brother of Jesus in Mormonism. According to Mormonism, Jesus somehow ascended to Godhood in his pre-existent state, prior to coming to Earth.¹,²

Jesus’ Origins in the Bible

Although the above information may be true for the Mormon Jesus, this is absolutely false for the real Jesus of the Bible. According to the Bible, Jesus is God in flesh:

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:5–8) (Note: To be “in the form of God” means to be God.)

God is eternal by nature, otherwise he would not be God. This means that he has always existed and never came into existence at a point in time. The Bible also says that Jesus, who is God, created everything:

“For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.” (Colossians 1:16)

“All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.” (John 1:3)

Jesus was not created because he is the Creator. Everything exists because Jesus created all things, even Satan, whom the Mormons claim is his brother. An eternal God who created everything in existence is very different from a created spirit child who became a god.

The Meaning of the Mormon Jesus’ Identity as the Son of God

According to Mormonism, everyone once pre-existed as spirit children of the Heavenly Father and Mother before we came to Earth. In other words, we are all sons and daughters of God in the very same sense that Jesus is “a son of God”, as the Mormons say.¹,²

The Meaning of the Biblical Jesus’ Identity as the Son of God

The Bible does not teach the pre-existence of humans before their birth, nor does it teach that Jesus is “a son of God” in the same sense that we are. Humans are first born on earth (1 Corinthians 15:45–49), and then we have the decision to either accept Christ as the Saviour of the world or reject him (Hebrews 9:27–28). When a Christian puts their faith in Jesus, they are then adopted into God’s family as children of God by the Holy Spirit.

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” (Romans 8:14–15)

On the other hand, the Jesus of the Bible has always been the Son of God for all eternity:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. … And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:1, 14)

Jesus is the Son of God in the sense that: 1. He is of the exact same divine nature as the Father. 2. He is equal with the Father. 3. Because he is of the closest possible relationship with the Father.

He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, (Hebrews 1:3)

This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God. (John 5:18)

No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known. (John 1:18)

This biblical depiction of Jesus, who is the eternal Son of God by virtue of his divine nature, equality with God, and closest possible relationship with the Father, is very different from the Mormon depiction of Jesus, who is a son of God by procreation, and whose literal biological parents are the Heavenly Father and Mother.

The Mormon Jesus’ Participation in the Godhead

As mentioned above, Mormonism teaches that at some point in the spiritual realm, Jesus and the Holy Spirit ascended to divinity by following the Heavenly Father’s laws and ordinances, and joined the Godhead with the Father. The Godhead in Mormonism consists of three separate gods, rather than three Persons in the one God as the biblical Holy Trinity teaches.¹,²

But where Latter-day Saints differ from other Christian religions is in their belief that God and Jesus Christ are glorified, physical beings and that each member of the Godhead is a separate being. (“Godhead”, LDS.org) ²

The Biblical Jesus’ Participation in the Godhead

In contrast, the biblical Jesus (and the Holy Spirit) never became a member of the Godhead, because he was always a part of it, and the Godhead consists of one God, not three. This is evident from the fact that the Bible calls the Father God (1 Corinthians 1:3), the Son God (John 20:28–29), and the Holy Spirit God (1 Corinthians 3:17), that there is only one God (Isaiah 44:6–8), and that God is eternal (Psalm 93:1–2). The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are, therefore, co-equal, and co-eternal. They are the one God. They are three different Persons of the one essence. The biblical Jesus has always been the second Person of the Trinity. For someone to teach that he was not, means that the person teaching such a doctrine is actually teaching a different Jesus than the real, biblical one.

The Mormon Jesus’ Eternal Progression

In Mormon theology, there is an infinite amount of gods, and humans have the ability to become gods (contrary to the Bible). Even God the Father was once a man on another planet, who became a god through following his god’s laws and ordinances*. When someone has become a god, and rules their own world with their god/goddess spouse or spouses (Early Mormonism allowed men to marry more than one wife), they eternally receive more exaltation, and this is called the law of eternal progression. According to Mormonism, Jesus became a god in the spiritual realm by following his Heavenly Father’s laws and ordinances, and thus he, like all the other gods, is eternally progressing to greater levels of exaltation.¹,²

Here, then, is eternal life – to know the only wise and true God; and you have got to learn how to be Gods yourselves, … To inherit the same power, the same glory and the same exaltation, until you arrive at the station of a God, and ascend the throne of eternal power, the same as those who have gone before. What did Jesus do? … My Father worked out his kingdom with fear and trembling, and I must do the same; and when I get my kingdom, I shall present it to my Father, so that he may obtain kingdom upon kingdom, and it will exalt him in glory. He will then take a higher exaltation, and I will take his place, and thereby become exalted myself. When you climb up a ladder, you must begin at the bottom and ascend step by step, until you arrive at the top; and so it is with the principles of the Gospel. (Joseph Fielding Smith, Teachings, 349) ¹

The Biblical Jesus’ Current State

At the moment, the Mormon Jesus is eternally progressing, moving up to greater levels of exaltation, along with all the other gods in the universe. But this is not the case with the Jesus of the Bible. The Bible tells us that:

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever, (Hebrews 13:8).

In other words, the biblical Jesus is not changing or progressing in anything. He is already completely exalted. He has always been the only eternal God, of the one essence with the Father and the Holy Spirit, and always will be forevermore. Furthermore, the idea that Jesus is eternally progressing, along with all the other so-called “gods”, robs him of his divine attributes: omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence. If there really are other gods before and after Jesus who are also eternally progressing, then Jesus cannot be the sovereign or supreme ruler over all existence. Contrary to this, the Bible tells us that Jesus (and for that matter, the Triune God) is all-powerful (Philippians 3:20–21), all-knowing (John 21:17), and all-present (Matthew 28:20).

Conclusion

The unavoidable conclusion, which everyone who compares the Bible’s teachings of Jesus with Mormonism’s teachings of Jesus, should come to, is that Jesus cannot both appear before his second coming and not appear before his second coming. He cannot both protect the true church and gospel and fail to protect the true church and gospel. He cannot both be uncreated and created, the Creator everything and not the Creator of everything. He cannot be both eternal and not eternal. He cannot both not be the brother of Satan and be the brother of Satan. He cannot both be a son of God just like everyone else and the Son of God in a very different sense. He cannot both be the one God with the Father and the Holy Spirit and one of three separate gods in the Godhead. Finally, he cannot be both the same forever and eternally progressing. To put it simply, the Jesus that Mormonism teaches cannot be both a different Jesus from the biblical Jesus whom Christians proclaim, and the exact same Jesus whom Christians proclaim from the Bible.

If Mormonism, a religion which claims to teach the same Jesus as the one who is taught in the Bible, has a different Jesus, then this means that it is a false religion. Evidently, Mormonism does teach a different Jesus. The warning that Paul gave in 2 Corinthians 11:3–4 of those who proclaim a different Jesus than the one in the Bible perfectly applies to Mormonism in a modern-day context. Remember, only the Jesus of the Bible reveals the Father (Matthew 11:27), sends the Holy Spirit (John 16:7), and is the only way to eternal life (John 14:6). Please do not take this article’s word as true, but rather the Bible’s. Examine it for yourself to see if this is the case. Jesus said “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free,” (John 8:31–32). The Bible also says: “Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so,” (Acts 17:11).

Notes

* The Bible teaches that God the Father was never created in passages such as Psalm 90:2 and Psalm 93:2.

See Also

References List

1. Roberts, R P 1998, Mormonism Unmasked, B & H Publishing Group, Nashville, Tennessee, pp. 54-55, 66-71

2. Hodge, B, Patterson, R 2015, World Religions and Cults: Counterfeits of Christianity, Master Books, Green Forest, pp. 243-245, 250

3. Slick, M 2008, Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry, accessed 22 February 2017, <https://www.carm.org/hinckley-says-mormons-believe-different-jesus>

4. Bowman Jr., R M 2012, Institute For Religious Research, accessed 26 February 2017, <http://mit.irr.org/what-lds-church-says-about-traditional-christianity>

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