Post Author: Darrell
The formal name of the Mormon Church is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Many people believe that because the name of the church includes the words Jesus Christ, Mormons worship the Christ of the Bible. However, a closer analysis reveals several startling differences between the Jesus of Mormonism and the Jesus of the Bible. While many claim that these differences are simply peripheral in nature, in reality, they are central aspects in defining the nature of the being that is worshiped. As a consequence, when the Jesus Christ of Mormonism is compared to the Christ of the Bible, it becomes obvious that they are most certainly not the same being.
The Mormon Church teaches that all mankind existed as spirit sons and daughters of God in a pre-mortal world. Humans were spirit born into this world of God the Father and a Heavenly Mother. While there are varying opinions among LDS theologians as to exactly how this spirit birth took place, Mormons are united in the belief that all humans lived there as spirit brothers and sisters and that the firstborn among them was Jesus Christ. Former Mormon leader LeGrand Richards says, “Christ was not only the Only Begotten Son of God in the flesh, but . . . he was the Firstborn in the spirit.” In 1916, the LDS First Presidency and Council of the Twelve Apostles said, “Among the spirit children of Elohim the firstborn was and is . . . Jesus Christ to whom all others are juniors.” Former Mormon Apostle Bruce McConkie says Christ “is the Firstborn of the Father.”
As a result of this common spirit birth, in Mormonism, Jesus Christ is viewed as literally being the elder spirit brother of all mankind. However, His station as firstborn carries some significance. In The Life and Teachings of Jesus and His Apostles, the LDS Church teaches that Jesus “was the birthright son, and he retained that birthright by strict obedience. Through the aeons and ages of premortality, he advanced and progressed until, as Abraham described [in the Mormon Scripture The Pearl of Great Price], he stood as one ‘like unto God’.”
Being spirit born of heavenly parents and our elder spirit brother, the Mormon Jesus is as ontologically separate from God the Father as all other humans. Mormons believe Him to be united with the Father in purpose; nevertheless, they do not believe that the Father and the Son are one being. In addition, given the fact that Jesus is portrayed as having advanced to become like unto God, He has not always existed as God. Instead, He is a separate being who earned the right to be considered a God through obedience.
In the next post, we will look at the biblical problems presented by the Jesus of Mormonism and wrap up this series of posts. Stick around… only one more to go.