Saturday, November 8, 2008

Study of the LDS Church 3.2 - The Doctrine of Jesus

**Make sure you've read this post first!

Last session we examined the LDS doctrine concerning God, or Elohim, the Heavenly Father. That was enough to removal the “Christian” title from the LDS church. However, where does Jesus fit into the big picture according to the LDS church? Let’s take a look…

Jesus is the firstborn of the spirit children of Elohim (the Heavenly Father) and the Heavenly Mother (which isn’t mentioned except in reference to birthing the spirit children). Since we are also spirit children of God (we’ll discuss this more later), Jesus is kind of our big brother. Jesus then progressed in the realm of the spirits to attain the level of a God. “Our Savior was a God before he was born into this world and brought with him that same status when he came here. He was as much a God when he was born into the world as he was before” according to LDS President Joseph Fielding Smith in The Life and Teaching of Jesus & His Apostles (page 15). Having attained godship, Jesus is also given the name Jehovah in the Old Testament (the word translated LORD or GOD (in all caps)).

So was Jesus born of the Virgin Mary per the classic New Testament story found in Matthew and Luke? Yes. However, the LDS church teaches that God the Father took on a human body to have a sexual relationship with Mary (one of his apparent wives) to conceive Jesus. Many apostles of the LDS church have supported this in the literal sense including Bruce McConkie, Orson Pratt, James E. Talmage, as well as LDS President Ezra Taft Benson. However, despite the obvious implications of such a relationship, the LDS church maintains that Mary was still a virgin at Christ’s birth because she had never had a physical relationship with a mortal man.

Mormons also asserted that during the wedding at Cana of Galilee that Jesus not only performed his first miracle (water into wine), but was in fact married at that time. It seems that sometime throughout his life, he married Mary, Martha and the other Mary.

It is to note that LDS members do not worship Jesus. They do not want to be branded polytheists and since God has a physical body and Jesus has a physical body, they cannot possibly be one god, so they refrain from worshipping Jesus. Bruce McConkie, in a devotional at BYU in 1982, noted that the worship noted in the Bible that was directed toward Jesus was not true worship, but more of a sense of reverence and gratefulness.

And to summarize this section, it should be noted that former President/Prophet Gordon S. Hinckley stated that 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…” (Church News, June 20, 1998, p 7).

So, it is evident by the brief description above of the LDS Jesus that they cannot be called a branch of the Christian faith without SERIOUSLY stretching the definition of the word. Let’s look at how the Bible treats their claims.

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. So Jesus was not created by God. He was there all along. In fact, if you continue reading to verse 3, you can see that Jesus was actually the one who did the creating. The phrase “in the beginning” here is the same phrase used in Genesis 1:1 indicating that these are the same event.
Matthew 1:18: Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Case in point. There is no way to read this except that Jesus was begotten by the Holy Ghost, not the Heavenly Father in a bodily form.
See also Luke 1:34-35 (Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.) to confirm the conception method of Jesus.
Deuteronomy 6:4: Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD. The actual translation here is “The Jehovah our Elohim is one Jehovah.” This being the case, it really does not make sense that the LDS church teaches that Jehovah, who by their definition is Jesus, and Elohim, the Heavenly Father, are two different people. It that is the case, this verse is simply gibberish and does not make sense. The only explanation is to read it at face value and believe it as written. This was called the Shema, a Jewish affirmation of faith, and has never been translated any other way. You can also use Genesis 27:20 and Exodus 3:6-7, substituting “Jehovah” for LORD and “Elohim” for God to refute this idea with LDS members.

There are other verses (Isaiah 40:3, Isaiah 9:6) that indicate that Jesus is Elohim. This is more evidence to present to the Mormons as needed.

You must also understand the importance in the name “Jehovah” and how it does not fit with Mormon’s description of who Jesus is. The word Jehovah was written in the Old Testament by Jewish scribes who were too humble to write “Yahweh,” the name given as God’s name to Moses during the burning bush experience (Exodus 3). It is a derivative of the verb “to be,” most literally I AM. This indicates the eternal nature of the one holding the name. Therefore, Jehovah was never begotten, but always was based on His name itself.
Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever. Confirmation of the eternal (and not created) nature of Jesus Christ.

As for the marriage—there is no indication in the Bible that Jesus was ever married. And if He was, He was clearly never at home or rarely with His wives. Not exactly the representation of a God that I would imagine.

And the prayer to and worship of Jesus? If Jesus is Jehovah of the Old Testament, there are many instances (Deuteronomy 4:7, Psalm 5:2 just to name a couple) where people are specifically instructed to pray to Jehovah. Even in Acts 7:59 and Romans 10:12 prayer to Jesus is spoken of with approval. In Revelation (4:10 as well as 5:11-14), the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, receives the same worship that God the Father does. Jesus, during his lifetime on earth, accepted appropriate worship from Thomas (John 20:28), a leper (Matthew 8:2), wise men (Matthew 2:11) a ruler (Matthew 9:18), a blind man (John 9:38), a woman (Matthew 28:9), and the disciples (Matthew 28:17). In all instances the Greek word proskuneo, the same word used for worshipping the Father, is used.

You can clearly see that the Jesus of the LDS church’s teachings is not the Jesus of Christianity. There is no denying that their image of Jesus is not nearly as glorified and holy as that of the traditional Christian Jesus. From this point in the study forward, the LDS church will not be insinuated to be affiliated as a Christian church, as we have seen that their view of both God and Jesus are contrary to Christian doctrine. All mention of “Christian” from here forward will apply to traditional Christianity as taught by the Bible along.

I’ve already given you a lot of scripture to back up the claims of who the real Jesus is, but here are some other questions that you might want to present to your LDS acquaintances:

  1. Since the LDS church teaches that taking on a physical body is a prerequisite to becoming a god, how did Jesus attain this godship before being born into a human body?
  2. Please read 2 Nephi 27:23. Now please read Mosiah 3:5, 8. What do these verses say about the eternal nature of Jesus?
  3. Please read from Alma 7:10. Does this verse say that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Ghost and not the Eternal Father in bodily form? Is the Book of Mormon wrong or the teaching of the LDS church?
  4. Please read Isaiah 42:8. Doesn't this indicate that God will not give His glory to another? Now please read Matthew 17:1-23. Doesn't this indicate that Christ had this glory? What does that tell you about Jesus?
  5. How can the LDS church claim truth in teaching something that is in direct opposition to the “most correct book ever written”?

2 Corinthians 11:3-4 says, “But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.” (emphasis added)

The LDS church indeed teaches another Jesus, another spirit, and another gospel. You can see Paul was warning the Corinthians that to follow it would be evil. There is no salvation in a Jesus other than that taught by the Bible.

Study of the LDS Church - 3.3 The Doctrine of Man

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