Tag Archives: Mormonism

. . . Of One Essence With The Father?

Post Author: Darrell

(This post originally appeared on Darrell’s Thoughts and Reflections on Aug. 5, 2013 and is being reposted here for Tough Questions Answered readers.)

I was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints – aka The Mormon Church – for several years prior to converting to Christianity and becoming Orthodox.  One of the significant gulfs between Mormon and Christian theology involves the Doctrine of the Trinity as codified at Nicea in 325 AD.  Traditional Christians affirm the Doctrine of the Trinity, believing it to be the correct understanding of the Godhead, while Mormons repudiate it.  The Church to which I belong – The Eastern Orthodox Church – holds the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed to be The Symbol of our Faith.  It is the standard confession of every Orthodox Christian, being recited at ones baptism and reaffirmed every week before Holy Communion in the Divine Liturgy.

One of the major sticking points of the Trinitarian confession for the Mormon Church is the declaration that the three Persons of the Holy Trinity – the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – are one in Essence or Nature.  The Nicene Creed says, in part:

“We believe . . . in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the only-begotten, begotten of the Father before all ages. Light of Light; true God of true God; begotten, not made; of one essence with the Father. . . “

Considering this aspect of the Doctrine of the Trinity, in the October 2007 General Conference, LDS Apostle Jeffrey R. Holland said:

“Our first and foremost article of faith in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is ‘We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.’ . . I think it is accurate to say we believe They are one in every significant and eternal aspect imaginable except believing Them to be three persons combined in one substance. . .”

In the April 1995 General Conference, LDS Apostle Dallin H. Oaks spoke even more directly when he declared that the rejection of the understanding of God contained in the historic Christian Creeds is “one of the distinguishing features of the doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. . .”

Over the last few years, I have spoken to several Mormons regarding their Church’s rejection of this aspect of Trinitarian Theology.  One of the things I have discovered is that very few of them seem to understand what we mean when we declare the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit to be one in essence.  Some believe it means that the three are one person with three separate personalities, others believe it means that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are separate expressions of God, and still others say rather directly that they have no idea what it means, they just believe it to be false.

In my opinion, one of the best ways to understand what the Nicene Creed means by “one in essence” is to look to the writings of those in the early Church.  The Third Ecumenical Council of the Church met at Ephesus in 431 AD to address the Nestorian Heresy.  After the Council’s completion John of Antioch wrote a letter to Saint Cyril of Alexandria, seeking to restore greater communion within the Church.  In this letter, he gives great insight into the Church’s understanding of what is means to declare Christ to be of one essence, or consubstantial, with the Father.  It says, in part:

“We confess, therefore, our Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, perfect God, and perfect man of a reasonable soul and flesh consisting; begotten before the ages of the Father according to His divinity, and in the last days, for us and for our salvation, [was born] of the Virgin Mary according to His humanity; that He is consubstantial with the Father according to divinity and consubstantial with us according to humanity, for in Him there is a perfect unity of two natures. [emphasis mine]”

The Early Church Fathers believed that Christ was consubstantial, or one in essence, with us as well as the Father.  In fact, this understanding was central to the Church’s soteriology, the belief being that it was through becoming consubstantial with humanity in the incarnation that Christ redeemed the human nature, uniting it to God through His Person.

So this leads to the question, if Christ is one in essence with humanity as man in the same way that He is one in essence with the Father and the Holy Spirit as God, how are we to understand this oneness in essence?  How is Christ “one with humanity” in essence?  We can say for sure that He is not one with us by being an “expression” of humanity or by being a “personality” of humanity.  Our human experience shows us otherwise.  The simple answer is that He is one with us because He shares our human nature.  You, me, Christ, and all the rest of us are human.  We each share in the oneness of human nature or essence, but we still remain separate persons within the human species.

This is how we are to understand the Oneness of the Holy Trinity.  Each of the Persons of the Trinity are separate individuals.  There exists a Father, and a Son, and a Holy Spirit.  However, each of the members of the Holy Trinity are God, and they are united in essence by each of them being fully God.  Christ is unique among the members of the Holy Trinity in that He became one with humanity in the incarnation – becoming one in essence with us.  However, He did not lose any of His God Nature in this process.  He still remains fully God.

One thing to bear in mind is that the fall caused an unnatural division in the human nature.  As a result, our oneness in essence is broken.  Part of Christ’s mission to save humanity was to heal this brokenness by recapitulating our nature, bringing it back into Communion with God.  However, the Oneness of the Holy Trinity is perfect.  It has never suffered a fall and, as a result, the unity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit transcends our understanding in a rather profound and significant manner.

Surprisingly, when I have shared this understanding with Mormons, I have often found them to have no issues with it.  When they are able to see that holding the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit to be one in essence does not do away with them being separate Persons, their points of disagreement seem to fade into the background.  Don’t get me wrong, there are still several points of disagreement between Mormon and Orthodox Theology, and those points are quite significant and profound.  However, this particular point may be one that is more a product of misunderstanding than true substance (no pun intended 🙂  ).

Is the Biblical Canon Closed? Part 2

Post Author: Bill Pratt

This is a profound question for the Christian church.  Every year, there are new cults that emerge where a charismatic leader claims that he or she has received a revelation from God that must be added to the biblical canon.  In fact, this is exactly what happened almost 200 years ago when Joseph Smith claimed to have received revelation from God which became the Book of Mormon.

In part 1, we examined why the canon is theologically closed.  In this second post, we will look at why the canon is historically closed, and then why the canon is still only hypothetically open.  Here are Geisler and Nix again from their book A General Introduction to the Bible:

Historically the canon is closed. For there is no evidence that any such special gift of miracles has existed since the death of the apostles. The immediate successors of the apostles did not claim new revelation, nor did they claim these special confirmatory gifts. In fact, they looked on the apostolic revelation as full and final. When new cults have arisen since the time of the apostles, their leaders have claimed to be apostles in order that their books could gain recognition. Historically, the canon is closed with the twenty-seven books written in the apostolic period. They alone are and have been the books of the canon through all the intervening centuries. No other non-apostolic books have been accepted since the earliest centuries, and no new books written by the apostles have come to light. In His providence, God has guided the church in the preservation of all the canonical books.

The canonical books are those necessary for faith and practice of believers of all generations. It seems highly unlikely that God would inspire a book in the first century that is necessary for faith and practice and then allow it to be lost for nearly two thousand years. From a providential and historical stand-point the canon has been closed for nearly two thousand years.

But is the canon hypothetically open?  If so, what does this mean?

Hypothetically the canon could be open. It is theoretically possible that some book written by an accredited apostle or prophet from the first century will yet be found. And what if such a prophetic book were found? The answer to this question will depend on whether or not all prophetic books are canonic. If they are, as has been argued, then this newly discovered prophetic book should be added to the canon. But that is unlikely for two reasons. First, it is historically unlikely that such a new book intended for the faith and practice of all believers, but unknown to them for two thousand years, will suddenly come to light. Second, it is providentially improbable that God would have inspired but left unpreserved for two millennia what is necessary for the instruction of believers of all generations.

Geisler and Nix, therefore, leave open the possibility that a first-century book could be found that belongs in the canon, but they think it is highly unlikely to occur.  Given the death of Jesus’s apostles in the first century, and given that Jesus was supposed to be the final revelation of God, Geisler and Nix reject the possibility that a new prophet will produce a new work today.  A new prophet would first have to make the case that the canon was not closed in the first century, and then demonstrate the miracles that go along with being a legitimate representative of God.

It is important to note, in closing, that neither Muslims, nor Mormons, nor any other religious group that has its roots in Christianity, has ever had a prophet who successfully performed miracles to prove that they were truly from God.  Hasn’t happened.

Is the Biblical Canon Closed? Part 1

Post Author: Bill Pratt

This is a profound question for the Christian church.  Every year, there are new cults that emerge where a charismatic leader claims that he or she has received a revelation from God that must be added to the biblical canon.  In fact, this is exactly what happened almost 200 years ago when Joseph Smith claimed to have received revelation from God which became the Book of Mormon.

Norman Geisler and William Nix tackle this very question in their book A General Introduction to the Bible.  To the question of whether the biblical canon is closed, Geisler and Nix answer, “To this one should respond that the canon is closed theologically and historically, and is open only hypothetically.”

Theologically the canon is closed. God has inspired only so many books and they were all completed by the end of the apostolic period (first century A.D.). God used to speak through the prophets of the Old Testament, but in the “last days” he spoke through Christ (Heb. 1:1) and the apostles whom He empowered with special signs (miracles). But because the apostolic age ended with the death of the apostles (Acts 1:22), and because no one since apostolic times has had the signs of a true apostle” (2 Cor. 12:12) whereby they can raise the dead (Acts 20:10–12) and perform other unique supernatural events (Acts 3:1–10; 28:8–9), it may be concluded that God’s “last day” revelation is complete (see Acts 2:16–18).

This does not mean that God’s visitations are over, because there are many other things yet to be fulfilled (see Acts 2:19–20). Nor does it mean that there will be no new understanding of God’s truth after the first century. It simply means that there is no new revelation for the church. Indeed, this does not necessarily imply that there have been no miracles since the first century. Supernatural acts will be possible as long as there is a Supernatural Being (God). It is not the fact of miracles that ceased with the apostles but the special gift of miracles possessed by a prophet or apostle who could claim, like Moses, Elijah, Peter, or Paul, to have a new revelation from God. Such a prophet or apostle could back up his claim by dividing a sea, bringing down fire from heaven, or raising the dead. These were special gifts bestowed on prophets (apostles), and they are not possessed by those who are not the recipients of new revelation (Acts 2:22; Heb. 2:3–4).

It is interesting to note that both Muhammad and Joseph Smith were rejected as prophets by most Christians of their day because they were unable to perform miraculous feats such as dividing seas, bringing down fire from heaven, or raising the dead.  Their miraculous claims centered around supernatural visitations from God or angels, who allegedly gave them new revelation.  This was not sufficient to back up their claims of being prophets of God.

I have often been asked how I would deal with someone who claimed to have a brand new message from God.  I would say this to the person: “Show me the miracles.  Show me the signs.  Heal the deaf and blind.  Raise some people from the dead.  Until you do those kinds of things, I won’t even consider your new revelation from God.”  Muhammad and Joseph Smith were likewise asked to do those things, and they could produce nothing of the kind.

In part 2, we will look at why the canon is historically closed.

Did The Church Fall Away?

Post Author: Darrell

One of the foundational teachings of Mormonism is that shortly after the death of the Apostles, the bulk of mankind rejected the teachings of Christ and the Apostles, and the world fell away from the plain and precious truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  As a result, the Church and the authority to act in God’s name were taken from the earth, and the world entered into a period known as the Great Apostasy.  It was not until God’s appearance to Joseph Smith in 1820, and his subsequent call to be a Prophet, that the Fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and God’s Church were once again restored to the earth.  Today, this fullness is known and taught only in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. 

During my last few years as a Mormon, I struggled with this teaching as I came to realize that it does not line up with what Christ promised us.  In Matthew 16:18, Christ says, “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.”   Mormonism teaches that with the restoration of the Gospel, Temples have been reestablished upon the earth.  Within these Temples, Mormons perform various Ordinances that are believed to be binding not only on earth, but also in heaven.  Two of these Ordinances are known as Baptism for the Dead and Endowment for the Dead.  They are performed vicariously for and in behalf of individuals who did not receive them in this life. 

LDS doctrine teaches that when a person who is either an unfaithful Mormon or a non-Mormon dies, they go to a place known as Spirit Prison.  According to LDS.org, Spirit Prison is another name for Hell or Hades.[1]  It is contrasted with Paradise, the place where righteous Mormons go upon their death.  Those who reside in Spirit Prison have the opportunity to hear the teachings of the LDS Gospel.  If they accept them and their Temple Work (Ordinances of Baptism and Endowment) has been performed vicariously on their behalf, they can leave Hell and enter Paradise.[2]

This is where I found the LDS teaching to be problematic, for what does this mean for those individuals who lived and died during the Great Apostasy?  If Christ’s Church was really taken from the earth, and it was not restored until after Joseph Smith, what, according to Mormonism, has happened to all those individuals who lived and died during the period of the Great Apostasy?  Well, the reality of the fact is that they are in Hell.  Even if they accepted Christ, believed in Him, and strove to live by His teachings, they are still in Hell.  It is not until their Temple Work has been done that they can be released from Hell.   Even worse is the fact that the Temple Work for the majority of the Earth’s past population has not been done and will not be done for many years to come because we do not have their names.  Our records don’t go back that far. 

In my opinion, this teaching does not line up at all with Christ’s promise.  He told us that the Gates of Hell would not prevail against the Church He established.  However, if LDS teaching is true, the Gates of Hell are prevailing against Christ’s Church and have been doing so since shortly after Christ’s ascension.  His Church was taken from the earth and those who lived lives seeking Him and living by His commandments are suffering in Hell as a result.  Not only is this teaching demeaning to the power of God, it also makes a complete mockery of Christ’s redeeming work.  He came to earth to unite humanity with divinity, bridging the gap between fallen mankind and the Creator of all.  However, according to Mormonism, many of those who have sought to follow Him are suffering in Hell for no other reason than they were born at the wrong time.

To be fair to Mormons, I must submit that Christ’s promise does not present a problem to their teachings alone.  Those who hold to strong fundamentalist Protestantism also encounter problems when comparing their beliefs to Christ’s promise.  I have spoken to many Protestants who believe that one cannot be a “faithful Catholic” or a “faithful Eastern Orthodox Christian” and still be saved.  They believe that the teachings of both of these great Churches are a corruption of what Christ taught and that if one holds to their teachings they are “non-Christian.”  However, the truth is that many of the core teachings of these Churches date back to the earliest times in Christianity, so if they are corruptions, they are corruptions that instilled themselves in the Church from virtually the very beginning of Christendom.  For example, the teaching that the Eucharist contains the Real Presence of Christ was a fundamental teaching of the Church from around the year 100, and the veneration of Mary can be dated to at least the middle 100’s.  By default then, stating that those who hold these beliefs are non-Christian is to state that the Church, from the earliest of times, apostatized in some of its key doctrines very early and remained that way until after the reformation.  Therefore, at its heart, this is to believe that the Gates of Hell prevailed against the Church for nearly 1500 years, dooming those who held to its key teachings to Hell.  Do we really believe that?

Think about it. 

 [1]http://classic.lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?index=8&locale=0&sourceId=a5352f2324d98010VgnVCM1000004d82620a____&vgnextoid=bbd508f54922d010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD.  Accessed 7/18/011.

Do the Creeds Matter? Part 2

Post Author:  Darrell

In my last post, I conducted a poll as to whether or not the Nicene Creed is relevant and authoritative in Christianity today.  Thus far, the results are as follows:  48% believe it to be both relevant and authoritative, 21% believe it to be relevant, but not authoritative, and a relatively small number (17%) believe it to be completely irrelevant.  Given the tone of my post, you will find it no surprise that I fall in line with the majority opinion, holding the Nicene Creed to be both relevant and authoritative.

Those who oppose the idea of the creeds being relevant and authoritative often appeal to the doctrine of sola scriptura, i.e., the doctrine that scripture alone is authoritative.  The general claim is that the Bible is the only authoritative source on Christian doctrine and life, and, as a result, the creeds can’t possibly carry any authority.  This position grew out of the classic and radical reformers reaction to papal abuses, and quite honestly, I can understand the sentiment behind it.

However, those who hold this position often fail to realize that while our beliefs may be rooted in scripture, it is often not scripture itself that is believed.  Instead, our beliefs are based upon our interpretation of scripture.  For example, while the Bible says that God is one, it does not tell us exactly how God is one. Nevertheless, most conservative Christians assert that God is one in nature, essence, and being.  These words and this belief are not explicitly taught in the Bible.  Instead, they are inferred based upon what the Bible does say and are thus, an interpretation of the biblical teachings relative to the nature of God.

Personally, I believe this is exactly what the creeds are: correct interpretations of scripture contained in short statements of faith.  However, I believe that their connection to Apostolic Tradition and the culmination of Church history have demonstrated them to be authoritative.  Most of the creeds were hard won, coming at the expense of much blood, sweat, and tears.  In large part, they have served as a source of unity for Christians, placing fences that help to delineate orthodoxy from heresy and heterodoxy.  The Nicene Creed came out of a long, hard fought battle with the Arian Heresy (Mormonism’s ancient cousin) and answered the question of how God is one once and for all.

Admittedly, the belief that the creeds are authoritative is a position of faith.  Epistemological certainty is impossible in an area such as this.  However, it is a position of faith that is supported by good reason, logic, and evidence.  In addition, those who believe they can’t be authoritative because “scripture alone is authoritative” hold their position to their own peril.  For, if the creeds can’t be authoritatively correct because they aren’t scripture, how do you know your interpretation is correct and authoritative, and by what authority do you judge differing positions to be wrong?  After all, your interpretation isn’t scripture.

Have a blessed day!


Do The Creeds Matter?

Post Author:  Darrell

I recently spent some time on a Christian Facebook page that ministers to Mormons.  It is mostly made up of ex-Mormon Christians who feel very strongly about their faith and want to reach out to Mormons.  They write articles explaining the differences between Traditional Christianity and Mormonism and the problems with Mormon Theology and History in general.

A few days ago I had a cordial conversation with a Mormon gentleman regarding the Nicene Creed.  We were discussing the development of the creed, what its terms mean, and what the ante-Nicene Fathers believed in regards to the nature of God.  For those who are not familiar with Mormonism, the Nicene Creed is a particular point of contention for them as its teachings are in stark contrast to Mormonism.

While we were in the midst of the conversation an administrator on the website stepped in and deleted nearly our entire conversation.  When I asked why she did this, she proceeded to tell me that the Nicene Creed doesn’t matter and that the creeds are irrelevant to the subject of defining God, and she chastised me for being “overly intellectual.”

This has led me to do some pondering over the last few days.  What do Evangelical Christians believe when it comes to the Nicene Creed?  Does it matter?  Are any of the creeds relevant today?  Are they authoritative or are they simply their writer’s opinions?

Share your thoughts with me on this poll.  Once I’ve had a chance to digest the various opinions, I’ll likely write a blog post sharing some of my thoughts.

Mormon Church Visit

LDS Church Annaberg-Buchholz
Image via Wikipedia

Post Author:  Darrell

The Sunday before last some friends and I attended services at a local Ward of the Mormon Church.  This is the first time I have attended the LDS Church since leaving it for Christianity a few years ago.  For any Mormons reading this, please know that we were very polite and courteous during our visit.  We did not debate, argue, or disrupt any of their services.  For the most part, we listened quietly and asked a few non-confrontational questions during Sunday School.  In fact, we were so polite that the Second Counselor in the Bishopric invited us to come back (note: we won’t!)!

I have been discussing Mormonism on-line since leaving the Church, and being back reminded me of something that I had forgotten: there are some substantial differences between the Mormonism that is portrayed on-line by amateur LDS Apologists and the Mormonism as taught and practiced in the church Wards.

I realize that not all Mormons are going to believe exactly the same thing on every single issue and that some may be more nuanced in their beliefs than others.  However, I believe the difference we see between chapel Mormons and internet Mormons is more than mere nuance.  In on-line conversations, I have had internet Mormons declare emphatically that such and such is not Mormon doctrine.  However, when in the Mormon Church I have had chapel Mormons declare just as emphatically that such and such is Mormon doctrine.

For example, while at church this past Sunday, my friends and I attended the Gospel Principle’s class, the Sunday School class designed for investigators, i.e., those who are researching the church. During class, the teacher shared with us how “keeping the commandments” is a vital part of the formula for attaining salvation.  We politely pointed out how we believe that faith alone is all that is needed for salvation and that works are a result of, not a requirement for, salvation.  We then asked for clarification to make sure we understood exactly what she was saying.  In response, one of the members of class told us that keeping the commandments is not only vital to salvation, but there are some commandments that if not kept, will damn a person.

Unfortunately the bell rang ending class, so we didn’t have time to follow up with more questions.  However, I assume she was referring to Spencer W. Kimball’s book The Miracle of Forgiveness where he points out that murder is a nearly unforgivable sin and that denying the Holy Spirit (decreed by some to be apostasy from the Mormon Church) is unforgivable.

Here is the kicker though… we were taught this by a Mormon Sunday School Teacher in a class designed to teach investigators about Mormon beliefs.  The lady who taught the class has supposedly been called by God to teach the doctrine of God’s one and only true Church to investigators, yet in numerous conversations on-line, I have had internet Mormons tell me repeatedly that the LDS Church does not teach that works are required for salvation.  Instead, they say that the Mormon Church teaches salvation by faith alone.  Why the huge discrepancy?

For a church that is supposed to have the “plain and precious truths” of the restored gospel, there certainly is a lot of confusion amongst its members as to exactly what it teaches.  Perhaps the Church has apostatised again and the on-line Mormons should form a newly restored LDS Church – The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Internet Mormons.

Can Words Describe God? Part 2

Post Author: Bill Pratt

In the last post, we talked about how equivocal God-talk is self-defeating and how univocal God-talk lowers God to the level of a finite being.  The only solution seems to be analogous God-talk.  So how does analogous God-talk work?

Analogous God-talk ultimately tells us what God is like, but it does not describe him exactly as He is.

How does this work?  According to Geisler, “The definition of the attribute applicable to both God and creatures must be the same, but the application of it differs, for in the one case (God’s) it is applied without limits, while in the other (humankind’s) it is predicated with limitations.” (emphasis added)

Take the example of goodness.  The definition of good is “that which is desired for its own sake.”  Now, when we take that concept of good and use it to describe God and man, we retain the same definition.  But when we apply it (predicate it) to God, we apply it in an unlimited way.  God is unlimited good, whereas man is limited good.  God is good infinitely while man is good finitely.  God is to be desired for his own sake absolutely, while man is to be desired for his own sake relatively.

Another example would be the concept of being.  Geisler says, “Likewise, being may be defined univocally as “that which is,” but this univocal concept is predicated of God and creatures in an analogous way. God is “that which is” infinitely; a creature is “that which is” only finitely. Or, more properly, God is Existence and creatures merely have existence.”

Geisler further explains:

Generic concepts are univocal when abstracted, but analogical when asserted of different things, as man and dog are equally animal but are not equal animals. Animal is defined the same way (say, as “a sentient being”), but animality is predicated differently of Fido and of Socrates (c. 470–399 B.C.). (Socrates possesses animality in a higher sense than Fido does.) Likewise, both the flower and God are said to be beautiful, but God is beautiful in an infinitely higher sense than flowers are.

While this tells us nothing directly about the similarity between God and creation, it does inform us about the difference between an infinite being and a finite being. For if beauty means “that which, being seen, pleases,” then the pleasure of the beatific vision of God is infinitely greater than the pleasure of viewing a flower.

What about all the concepts of God that are applied negatively, such as eternal (non-temporal), uncaused (not caused), and immutable (not changing)?  The reason these concepts are negated is because their definitions contain limits or imperfections.  God, as an infinite (not limited) being, cannot be limited by any concept when it is applied to Him.  Time, causation, and change are all concepts which would make God dependent on something else – they all limit his being.  Therefore these terms must be negated.

Here is the bottom line.  We can never describe, with language, exactly who God is, but we can say what He is like.  We can take finite concepts and apply them to God in an infinite (unlimited) way.  That is the best we can do using human language.

An additional point needs to be made.  Some people find analogous God-talk to be difficult to understand (it can be more abstract that some people are comfortable with), and so they brush it aside and collapse their language back to univocal God-talk.  The danger, of course, is that when you start talking about God as a finite being, then you are lowering him to a creature.

Mormon theology is the poster child for univocal God-talk gone wild.  God is created, God is material, God is in time, and so forth and so on.  The Mormon God is not transcendent, is not infinite, is not uncaused –  he is just like the rest of us, a creature.  Is this the God that is presented in Scripture?  I think not.

Do Mormons Worship the God of the Bible? Part 7

Post Author:  Darrell

When comparing the nature of the Mormon Jesus to the Jesus Christ of the Bible, several significant differences become readily apparent. Deut. 6:4 tells us emphatically that God is one in nature: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.” In addition, in John 10:30, Jesus tells us that He “and the Father are one.” When Christ uttered these words, the Jews picked up stones to kill Him, because they knew precisely what He was asserting; namely, that He is one with God and that, as a consequence of God being one in nature, that He Himself is God.

The biblical assertion that Jesus is God is confirmed by several other passages of scripture. Col. 2:9 says, “For in him [Christ] the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily.” In addition, in John 8:58, Jesus said, “before Abraham was, I Am.” Once again, when He said this, the Jews tried to stone Him, because they realized He was taking upon Himself the name of God by applying to Himself God’s declaration in Exod. 3:14: “God said to Moses, ‘I am who I am’.” In addition, Jesus taught in John 8:12, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” At first glance, this verse may sound like it is simply a beautiful metaphor; however, a closer analysis reveals that Christ is referencing the Old Testament teaching in Ps. 27:1: “The Lord is my light.” Christ was literally proclaiming Himself to be the Yahweh of the Old Testament, and, thus, the God of all.

Verses such as those above place Mormons in a difficult position: how can their Jesus, a Jesus who was spiritually born of and is ontologically separate from God the Father, be God if there is only one God and God is one? The typical Mormon response to this problem is to say that God and Jesus are one in purpose and not one in nature; however, this answer falls decisively short of solving the problem, for Mormons are still forced to tackle the issue that their Christ has not always been God and had a God prior to Him, i.e., God the Father. The God of the Bible tells us that He has always been God and that there have never been any Gods besides Him: “Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me” (Isa. 43:10). Unfortunately for the Mormon Church, the LDS Jesus does not meet this standard and thus, cannot be the Jesus of the Bible.

In conclusion, as this series of posts has demonstrated, there are several significant differences between the God of Mormonism and the God of the Bible. The Mormon Godhead is comprised of three Gods who are separate and distinct in nature. However, the Bible teaches that there is but one God. Both the Mormon God the Father and the Mormon God the Son are embodied in flesh and bone, and as a result, cannot be in more than one place at a time. In contrast, the God of the Bible is said to be a spirit who is both invisible and omnipresent.

The Mormon God the Father is an exalted man who progressed and earned the honorific title God through a process similar to the one through which mankind is now going. However, the Bible teaches that God is not a man and has always been God. In addition, according to the Bible, God is not an honorific title that a being earns. Rather, it is something God simply is. Mormonism also teaches that God and man are the same species. On the other hand, the Bible makes it clear that God is self-existent and necessary, while man is contingent. Consequently, the idea that man and God are the same species is, from a biblical perspective, completely illogical.

The Mormon God the Son was spirit born of the Father and a Heavenly Mother, making Him ontologically separate from the Father. As a result, He has not always been God, and instead, progressed through obedience in a pre-mortal life to become “like unto God.” In contrast, the Jesus of the Bible is one with God. Consequently, the biblical profession of the eternality of God, i.e., that He has always been God, having no Gods before, after, or besides Him, applies equally to Christ making His nature inconsistent with the spirit born nature of the Mormon Jesus.  For these reasons, it is readily apparent that the nature of the Mormon God and the nature of the God of the Bible are diametrically opposed to one another. In reality, there is no meaningful way to view them as describing the same being. As a result, it can be decisively said that the God of Mormonism is most certainly not the God of the Bible.

Do Mormons Worship the God of the Bible? Part 6

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.