Jesus Christ/Worship

Mormons worship Jesus Christ

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Question: Do Mormons worship a "different Jesus"?

LDS Christians and other Christians agree on the vast majority of points on Jesus' nature, mission, and indispensable role in salvation

Some Christians claim that despite the Saints' witness of Christ, they worship "a different Jesus" and so are not entitled to consider themselves "Christians." Rather than illuminating LDS Christians' or non-LDS Christians' beliefs about Jesus, this accusation is simply an attempt to spread discord and confusion.

LDS Christians and other Christians agree on the vast majority of points on Jesus' nature, mission, and indispensable role in salvation.

The LDS differ from other Christians only in that they tend to believe additional things about Jesus

The LDS differ from other Christians only in that they tend to believe additional things about Jesus, since they have other scriptures (such as the Book of Mormon) which provide them with further information. This information complements the Biblical beliefs which they share with the whole Christian world.

The most important recent document to discuss the beliefs of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints regarding our Lord and Savior is found in "The Living Christ: The Testimony of the Apostles." [1]

Latter-day Saints believe the following:

A protester at the April 2003 LDS General Conference attempts to convince others that members of the Church do not believe in the Biblical Jesus.  Members of the Church may believe some different things about Jesus, but this does not mean they worship a different being than the protester.
  • Jesus is the Christ, the promised Messiah
  • Jesus of Nazareth is the Only Begotten Son of the Father
  • Jesus was born of a virgin birth to Mary
  • Jesus is perfect, without sin
  • Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father, but by Him
  • Jesus performed miracles. He:
    • healed the sick
    • opened eyes of the blind
    • opened ears of the deaf
    • forgave sins
    • cast out demons and evil spirits
    • changed water into wine
    • multiplied loaves and fishes
    • raised the dead
  • Jesus was foreshadowed by, and fulfilled, the law of Moses
  • Jesus suffered and died for the sins of all humanity
  • Jesus was crucified under Pontius Pilate, died, was buried, and rose again
  • Jesus appeared in resurrected form to Mary, Thomas, the apostles, five hundred brethren at once
  • Jesus ascended to the Father to sit down on the right hand of His power
  • Jesus converted Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus
  • Jesus will come again to reign in glory with all the faithful

To be sure, there are doctrinal differences between some Christians and the Latter-day Saints. But, this is true of virtually all Christians:

Christians have argued, often passionately, over every conceivable point of Christian doctrine from the filioque to the immaculate conception. There is scarcely an issue of worship, theology, ethics, and politics over which some Christians have not disagreed among themselves. [2]

Latter-day Saints have no quarrel with the idea that some of their beliefs about Jesus may differ from those of other Christians

Latter-day Saints have no quarrel with the idea that some of their beliefs about Jesus may differ from those of other Christians. If there were no differences in belief at all, it would make little sense to have the hundreds of Christian denominations which exist.

But, it is insulting and unfair to insist that the LDS do not worship the "same" Jesus as other Christians. By analogy, a Protestant might consider Martin Luther an inspired instrument in the hands of God to reform the wayward Christian Church. A Catholic might rather consider Luther to be a wayward priest who was gravely mistaken. Clearly, the opinions about Luther may differ, but it would be absurd to insist that Catholics and Lutherans are each talking about a different Luther.


Question: Do Latter-day Saints believe in a "different" Jesus than "mainstream" Christians?

"Mormon Beliefs About Jesus" versus "Christian Beliefs About Jesus": Mormons worship the Jesus Christ of the Bible

It would be enlightening for any Latter-day Saint to read this description of the "Mormon Jesus" in the left column and see just how much of this is recognizable as church doctrine. The list is taken from page One Nation Under Gods, p. 378 (PB). This claim is repeated in the author's later work Becoming Gods—The "Mormon Jesus" versus the "Traditional Jesus".

The "mainstream Christian" author's misrepresentation of "Mormon Beliefs About Jesus" Jesus Christ, as He is actually viewed by Latter-day Saints For more information...
A literal son (spirit-child) of a god (Elohim) and his wife.
  • Latter-day Saints believe that everyone is a spirit child of Heavenly Father, including Jesus. What is a spirit child? We don't have the details.
  • Our eternal nature was organized into a spirit person, whatever that is. We don't know the details. We don't know the process by which we became a spirit person.
  • The difference between us is that Jesus is divine, while the rest of us are not.
  • Why the emphasis on the word "literal"? Apparently, to once again call attention to the subject of "Celestial Sex."
The elder brother of all spirits born in the pre-existence to Heavenly Father.
  • Latter-day Saints do not claim to know by what method a spirit is "born."
  • Christ is the "eldest," but what this means is also not clear. Is it a question of temporality? (i.e., He came first in time) Is it a rank? Does it describe His relationship to us? We simply don't claim to know, since time is only measured unto man.
  • Latter-day Saints do believe that Christ was not created ex nihilo at some moment; He is eternally self-existent.
A polygamous Jewish male.
  • This is not a belief among Latter-day Saints, and is based entirely upon non-doctrinal statements made by Orson Hyde and Orson Pratt.
  • It is surprising that this claim is still in the paperback edition of One Nation Under Gods. It was, however, removed from Becoming Gods.
One of three gods overseeing this planet.
  • There is only one God. Christ is one of three divine beings in the Godhead. They are one in purpose, not one in person. John 17:3, John 17:20-22
  • Regardless of this, a creedal Christian ought not to have a problem with one God consisting of more than one Person.
Atoned only for Adam's transgression by sweating blood in Gethsemane.
  • This statement is completely false.
  • The Book of Mormon teaches that Christ's sacrifice was "infinite and eternal." (2 Nephi) It could not be exceeded in any sense. Christ suffered for the sins, griefs, and pains of all humanity (Alma 7), whether or not they repent.
  • The benefits of that atonement are restricted if we refuse to do that which He asks of us to accept it (i.e. have faith, repent, be baptized, receive the Holy Ghost, and endure to the end.)
  • Note that this statement was changed in Becoming Gods—The "Mormon Jesus" versus the "Traditional Jesus" to "Atoned only for Adam's transgression, thereby providing the opportunity for us to obtain "eternal life" by our own efforts. The change, however, didn't really do anything to correct this falsehood.
The literal spirit brother of Lucifer.
  • Again, note the emphasis on the word "literal." Latter-day Saints do not consider Jesus in any way to be Satan's "peer."
Jesus' sacrificial death is not able to cleanse some people of all their sins.
  • Latter-day Saints believe that only those who reject the atonement cannot be cleansed from all their sins. If one doesn't accept the atonement, then the atonement can't save him or her. But, that is a reflection on the sinner, and does not imply that Christ's atonement was "not able" to cleanse our sins.
  • This is probably alluding to blood atonement.
  • Jesus Christ Himself taught that blasphemy against the Holy Ghost was an "unforgivable sin." Matthew 12:31-32
There is no salvation without accepting Joseph Smith as a prophet of God.
  • Latter-day Saints believe that there is no salvation without accepting Jesus Christ as our Savior and Redeemer. Salvation is obtained by receiving Jesus and his atoning sacrifice. The statement presented in the book is nonsense. All save the sons of perdition are saved. All will be resurrected.
  • A fullness of salvation requires accepting the words of ALL the prophets--including those who wrote the Bible, and including Joseph Smith.
  • If one believes that you have to accept the Bible witness to be saved, then how can one fault Latter-day Saints for believing that another prophet's witness must also be accepted? LDS doctrine saves infidels and non-Christians in a resurrection of glory, and provides for their evangelization after death.


To see citations to the critical sources for these claims, click here

Notes

  1. Twelve Apostles, "The Living Christ: The Testimony of the Apostles, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints," Ensign (December 2004), 4. off-site
  2. David Steinmetz, "Christian Unity: A Sermon by David Steinmetz," News and Notes 5/6 (April 1990); cited by Stephen E. Robinson, Are Mormons Christians? (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company, 1993),36–37. off-site FairMormon link