Monday, April 22, 2013
P2 Christianity vs Mormonism: Doctrine of Christ
1 John 4:1-3 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; 3 and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world.
Yesterday we began a new blog series wherein we compared Christianity and Mormonism. The simple question we are asking is this: is Mormonism another Christian denomination or is it a non-Christian religion? In exploring the Doctrine of God, we discovered that Mormonism and Biblical Christianity are completely different. Will that profound difference hold up as we continue in today's post about what each believes about the Person of Jesus Christ?
Christianity vs Mormonism on the Doctrine of Christ
In the March 2012 issue of the online periodical "SBC Life" (the link to SBC Life is on the SBC website: www.sbc.net), there is an informative article entitled: "Always Ready, Sharing the Gospel with you Mormon Friends". From that article we read the following statement about the Historical and Biblical Christian Doctrine of Christ:
The Doctrine of Jesus Christ - Historic Christianity
"Jesus Christ is the eternal Word, coexistent and coeternal with the Father and Holy Spirit. In His incarnation, He was conceived supernaturally by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. He possesses two natures, human and divine, in His One Person. He lived a sinless life, died on the cross as a willing sacrifice for the sins of humanity, and was raised from the dead. He will come again to the earth and reign as King of kings. Luke 1-2; John 1:1-18; 8:56-59; Philippians 2:6-11; Colossians 1:13-22; Hebrews 1:3; 13:8"
In 2000, the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) drafted the final and complete copy of the doctrinal statement: Baptist Faith and Message 2000 (BFM 2000). For sake of comparison, I highlighted the pertinent details for today's blog in red, and did the same in the below quote from Article II of the BFM 2000 on the doctrine of Jesus Christ:
"Christ is the eternal Son of God. In His incarnation as Jesus Christ He was conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. Jesus perfectly revealed and did the will of God, taking upon Himself human nature with its demands and necessities and identifying Himself completely with mankind yet without sin. He honored the divine law by His personal obedience, and in His substitutionary death on the cross He made provision for the redemption of men from sin. He was raised from the dead with a glorified body and appeared to His disciples as the person who was with them before His crucifixion. He ascended into heaven and is now exalted at the right hand of God where He is the One Mediator, fully God, fully man, in whose Person is effected the reconciliation between God and man. He will return in power and glory to judge the world and to consummate His redemptive mission. He now dwells in all believers as the living and ever present Lord."
The highlighted phrases underscore three essential truths about Biblical Christianity's protrayal of Jesus: 1. One Person 2. Who is Divine 3. and who came to also become fully human. This understanding of Jesus Christ, derived from the scriptures, is core to the Gospel. If Jesus Christ is not fully God, He cannot be the source of salvation. Secondly, if Jesus Christ is not fully man, then He could not had been capable of shedding innocent blood on behalf of guilty sinners. Then finally, if Jesus Christ had not remained one Person, nor if He did not retain His full Humanity and full Deity following His resurrection, then He could not be the true Mediator. Now let's take a comparitive look at the Mormon view of Jesus as detailed by the article "Always Ready, Sharing the Gospel with you Mormon Friends":
Mormonism's belief about the doctrine of Christ
"Jesus was Heavenly Father's first born spirit child: "Every person who was ever born on earth was our spirit brother or sister in heaven. The first spirit born to our heavenly parents was Jesus Christ, so he is literally our elder brother" (Gospel Principles [GP], p. 11)." As the physical offspring of God, he is "the only person on earth to be born of a mortal mother and an immortal father" (GP, p. 64). His atonement (death and resurrection) provides immortality for all people regardless of their faith. "Christ thus overcame physical death. Because of his atonement, everyone born on this earth will be resurrected. . . . This condition is called immortality. All people who ever lived will be resurrected, 'both old and young, both bond and free, both male and female, both the wicked and the righteous'" (The Book of Mormon, Alma 11:44; see also GP, pp. 11, 17-19, 61-77). Some Mormon documents claim that Jesus was married at Cana and had children himself. Mormons teach that Jesus visited the Israelites (Native Americans) in North America after his resurrection and established the true church among them."
The Mormon Jesus is profoundly different. For one thing, the Mormon doctrine of Jesus is connected to its concept of the doctrine of God. The Mormon deity is an exalted man with Divine attributes, One among many lesser spiritual like beings. With that said, Mormons teach that Jesus Christ was begotten of this deity and is a divine being with flesh and bones like the One who gave Him life.1 Furthermore, the Mormon Christ is lesser than God, since He is a spirit child (one of many) who was begotten by Him.2
Why the Mormon Jesus is not a saving Jesus
Whenever you deny the full Deity of Jesus Christ, you automatically create an alien theology that leads to idolatry.3 If Jesus is even an exalted created being who is like a god, then only one inevitable result will occur - idolatry. The god of Mormonism is not the True and Living God of the Bible, as we saw yesterday. To that statement we can add a second: since the Mormon god is not the True and Living God, then neither is the Mormon Christ the True and Living Savior of the Bible.
To compound the problem further, I would argue that the Mormon Christ is also not a truly human one. How so?4 In the Bible, true humanity has a beginning here on earth at conception, with no evidence of physical nor spiritual pre-existence. (Genesis 1:26-28; 2:7; Jeremiah 1:5; Psalm 51) Herein lies the conflict: if Mormons are to contend for Jesus' true humanity, they need to adhere to the Bible alone and admit that the Mormon writings are in conflict with the Biblical teaching of humanity. For mankind to have a Savior, that Savior had to be a genuine human being. Therefore the Mormon Jesus is not entirely human.
Conclusion So why does today's blog matter? Here is why: in order to have true salvation, you need to believe in the right Jesus.5 I close today's blog with two more suggestions from the above cited article on how to share the Gospel with Mormons:
- "Present a clear testimony of your faith in Jesus Christ alone for salvation. Use precise language about how you came to trust in Jesus Christ."
- "Familiarize yourself with how Mormon doctrine differs from historic Christian faith"
1. Mormonism's concept of Jesus is not unique in history. Throughout Church history there have been variations on this idea of Jesus being somehow a lesser being than God. Cerinthius of the 1st century, Arius of the fourth century, various other Christological heresies of the fourth, fifth and eighth centuries and liberalism of the nineteenth century all communicated in varying detail the basic assumption of Jesus Christ being lesser than God the Father. In Mormonism, the twist is that God Himself is reduced to the rank of exalted man, with Jesus being placed underneath their newly invented deity.
2. In Mormonism, Jesus was pre-existent spirit child, like everyone else. In the Mormon writing "Pearl of Great Price", Jesus and Lucifer were actually spiritual brothers so to speak and competed to see who would be the savior of the world. God or Elohim thought Jesus' plan was better, since it included freewill. Lucifer rebelled and led one third of the spirit children astray out of the Great Council of Heaven.
3. According to Isaiah 43:11 the Lord God states: “I, even I, am the Lord, And there is no savior besides Me." When we come to the New Testament, we read statements such as Titus 2:13 - "looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus." As the early Christians wrestled with the two truths of God being One God and Christ's Full Deity, the only proper conclusion to draw was that God is One God, who is Father and Son and Holy Spirit. (compare 1 Corinthians 8:6-7, Acts 5:4-5)
4. In Mormonism, every person at one point was a pre-existent spirit being that was born in this world with no knowledge of their pre-existence. In the Mormon version of Jesus' birth, He already pre-existed as a flesh and bone exalted being created by a flesh and bone deity.
5. If Jesus Christ is not fully God, He cannot be the source of salvation. Secondly, if Jesus Christ is not fully man, then He could not had been capable of shedding innocent blood on behalf of guilty sinners. Then finally, if Jesus Christ had not remained one Person, nor if He did not retain His fully Humanity and full Deity following His resurrection, then He could not be the true Mediator between God and man. The Mormon Jesus is not the true Jesus, but rather a counterfeit. The warning of Galatians 1:6-7 should alert us to the error of Mormonism: "I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; 7 which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.