The “Jesus” of the Latter Day Saints

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Many people think the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is just another “Christian denomination” because they teach about Christ and the Bible. On their website, they state:

“We believe Jesus is the Son of God, the Begotten Son in the flesh … We accept the prophetic declarations in the Old Testament that refers directly and powerfully to the coming of the Messiah, the Savior of all humankind. We believe that Jesus of Nazareth was and is the fulfillment of those prophecies.”

Hardly would a Christian disagree with the above (though as we proceed, you will understand what is packed beneath the first line).

Most pseudo-Christian religions gain converts by first teaching what most Christians will readily agree with. Their heresies are usually introduced little by little until the convert is so indoctrinated that he is ready to defend these lies.

But a major way to identify a cult is to check their Christology. Once it is defective, what they have is a false gospel and behind it is a false spirit.

In previous articles, I have shown how Roman Catholicism, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Seventh Day Adventists fail this major litmus test, here, I will be examining Mormonism.

My quotes will be mainly from their scripture, the book of Mormon, as well as teachings of their prophets (both early and modern) which are equally authoritative.

Joseph Smith says “And whatsoever they shall speak when moved by the Holy Ghost shall be scripture, shall be the mind of God … the Word of God and the power of God unto salvation” (Doctrine and Covenants 68:4).

1. Quasi-Sabellianism

“Now Zeezrom saith again unto him: Is the Son of God the very Eternal Father? And Amulek said unto him: Yea, he is the very Eternal Father of heaven and of earth…” (Alma 11:38-39).

“…Behold, I am Jesus Christ. I am the Father and the Son.” (Ether 3:14)

The Christological heresy espoused here was known in the early church as modalism or sabellianism. It taught that God was one God who variously manifested Himself in three modes of existence, as the Father, later as the Son and then the Holy Spirit.

It totally did away with the distinction of persons within the Godhead. This was the initial Christological error Joseph Smith held to.

The Bible however, distinguishes between the Father and the Son (Mt. 5:16; 11:25; Jn. 10:29; 20:17 etc) and between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit (Jn. 14:16; 16:5-15; Jn. 7:39, Acts 8:5-25 etc).

This is where the Mormon misconception of the Christian Trinity stems from.

2. Pre-mortal Godhood

“[A]ll men lived in a premortal estate before they were born into this world; all were born in the premortal existence as the spirit children of the Father. Christ was the firstborn spirit child … Christ, the Word, the Firstborn, had, of course, attained unto the status of Godhood while yet in premortal existence” (What Mormons Think of Christ, 1976, p. 25).

Christ was not created and didn’t have to attain the status of Godhood. He is and has always been God. He is eternal, “the first and the last” just as the Father is (Rev. 1:17-18; Is. 48:12).

The creation of man by God negates pre-mortal existence. Mormon theology seems to be closer to Greek paganism than to the Bible.

3. A Firstborn of gods

In modern times he has said: ‘I was in the beginning with the Father, and am the Firstborn. And all those who are begotten through me are partakers of the glory of the same and are the church of the Firstborn. Ye were also in the beginning with the Father” (Doctrines and Covenants 93:21-23).

This is a gross misunderstanding of the Biblical concept of Jesus as the firstborn.

Colossians 1:15-19 is offered as proof but this actually presents Jesus as the Creator. The Greek word for “firstborn” is prototokos which means “preeminence” and “eternal preexistence.”

Also, humans do not share in God’s glory nor become gods at any time (Isa. 42:8). Such a teaching is a lie of the serpent.

4. Lucifer’s brother

And the Lord God, spake unto Moses saying: “That Satan, whom thou has commanded … came before me, saying – Behold, here I am, send me. I will be honor. But behold, my Beloved Son which was my beloved and Chosen from the beginning, said unto me – Father, thy will be done, and the glory be thine forever.” (Pearl of Great Price, Moses, 4:1-2)

Mormons believe Jesus and Lucifer were among the spirit children born by God, but Lucifer rebelled when God accepted Jesus’ salvation plan and rejected his.

However, the Bible says of Christ: “For by him all things were created” (Col. 1:16). Lucifer was one of the angels created by Christ and is not on equal footing with Him let alone be His “spirit brother” as LDS teach.

Jesus Christ, who is the exact image of the Father, has received an excellent name above angels.

5. The Polygamist Christ

“Jesus Christ was married at Cana at Galilee, that Mary, Martha, and others were his wives, and that he begat children.” (Journal of Discourses 2:210)

The Scriptures says that He, the Lord, came walking in the Temple, with His train; I do not know who they were unless His wives and children.” (J of D, 13:309)

The plan of God has been that the Saviour should become man, not to have physical children, but to produce godly seeds – sons of God – on earth by new birth and sanctification (Heb. 2:10-12).

But the Christ of Mormonism couldn’t even be Lord unless he was married! That’s not the Jesus of the Bible but an attempt to tailor Jesus in the image of Joseph Smith who was a polygamist.

Jesus is spiritually married to His church – His people. “I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him” (2 Cor. 11:2).

He illustrated this with a parable in Matthew 25:1-10 and there is the “wedding Supper of the Lamb” at His second coming (Rev. 19:6).

6. Atonement in Gethsemane

And lo, he shall suffer temptations, and pain of body, hunger, thirst, and fatigue, even more than man can suffer, except it to be unto death; for behold, blood cometh from every pore, so great shall be his anguish for the wickedness and the abominations of his people” (Mosiah 3:7)

“[Jesus] took his apostles into a garden called Gethsemane where he subsequently began to pray, and being in great agony he bled at every pore. Thus did he assume the burden of men’s sins” (The Life and Teachings of Jesus and His Apostles, 1979, 170-76).

In other words, the Mormon Jesus paid the price for the sins of mankind by suffering at the garden of Gethsemane and not by His death at the cross. This is a defective view of the atonement that ignores and rejects several plain passages of Scripture.

One, the wages of sin is death, not “great agony” or “anguish” (Ezk. 18:20; Rom. 3:23).

Two, one of the Messianic prophecies is that Christ will be “pierced” hands and feet (Ps. 22:16) and “cut off from the land of the living” (Is. 53:8). The events culminating in Christ’s crucifixion are fulfillment of Bible prophecy.

Note this carefully the next time a LDS claims they “believe that Jesus of Nazareth … is the fulfillment of those prophecies.” By denying His sacrifice at the cross, they have embraced a false gospel.

Christ was made sin for us and bore it in His body on the cross and died there (2 Cor. 5:21; 1Pet. 2:24). Just as the spotless lamb was killed during the Jewish Passover, He is the Lamb of God who took away the sins of the world (Jn. 1:30).

Through His death on the cross, redemption – purchase from the marketplace of sin and death – was made possible (1 Cor. 6:20). Through it, reconciliation and propitiation for man’s sins was achieved.

Without the cross of Christ there is no redemption, no forgiveness and no salvation. Consequently, Mormonism is a doomed ship taking millions to a Christless eternity.

7. A Rejection of the Blood of Jesus

It is true that the blood of the Son of God was shed for sins through the fall and those committed by men, yet men can commit sins which it [the blood of Christ] can never remit.” (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 4:54)

“…We may talk of men being redeemed by the efficacy of his [Christ’s] blood, but the truth is that that blood has no efficacy to wash away our sins. That must depend upon our own action” (Apostle Amasa Lyman, J of D 7:299).

This is simply the next logical step from a defective atonement.

If “the blood of Jesus…purifies us from all sin” and Jesus has “provided purification for sins,” there is no reason to claim that we can somehow add to its efficacy (1 Jn. 1:7; Heb. 1:3).

There is no amount of human action that can purge man from his sins. Conclusively, the “Jesus” of the LDS is not the Jesus revealed in the Bible.

 

A Case Study of Watchtower Falsehood (Part III)

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The Watchtower Society being so desperate to indoctrinate their readers against the Trinity doctrine really tried to link it with Paganism (pp. 9-12). But their fabric kept falling apart at its seams.

On page 9, under the heading “The Triads of the Great Gods,” they quoted the Larousse Encyclopedia of Mythology to prove that ancient Babylonia and Assyria believed in triad of deities which influenced the Christian Trinity but they left out this part:

He [Anu] was god in the highest sense the supreme god. All other deities honoured him as their ‘Father’ that is to say their chief…” (pp. 54-55).

This wasn’t included because the Babylonian triad actually looks more similar to the Jehovah’s Witness theology of a supreme Father called Jehovah and other lesser gods – Jesus, angels, devil and men – than the historic, orthodox doctrine of the Christian Trinity!

On page 10 are pictures of triad deities and the “Christian Trinity” aimed at ‘proving’ that the Trinity came from paganism. This is actually an appeal to emotion. These deities didn’t influence the Trinity doctrine in any way.

All scholars agree that ancient Babylonian religion was polytheistic, not “trinitarian.” The same goes for ancient Egyptian, Greek, Canaanite and Sumerian religions.

The Egyptian Osiris, Isis and Horus belonged to a large family of gods like Set, Nut, Seb, Apnu etc. with their head being Amon-Ra. Is this the Christian Trinity? Absolutely not.

The tactic of trying to fault the Trinity by pointing to pre-Christian pagan cultures with similar beliefs is not only a fallacy of wrong parallel, it is in fact, lame. In another publication, they stated that:

The universality of the flood accounts is usually taken as evidence for the universal destruction of humanity by a flood … So we can confidently conclude that the Flood legends confirm the reality of the Biblical account.” (The Watchtower January 15, 1992, 8).

If the flood legends in many pagan cultures confirm the Biblical account, then the trinity beliefs in many cultures can confirm the Divine Trinity.

Another thing to note is that, most of the sources they used in an attempt to link the Trinity with paganism were either heretical or anti-Christian works. In other cases where this wasn’t done, they resorted to their favourite tactic – misquotation.

On page 9 for instance, the Encyclopedia Americana (Vol XXVII, 294) was quoted:

“Fourth century Trinitarianism did not reflect accurately early Christian teaching regarding the nature of God; it was, on the contrary, a deviation from this teaching.

But page 301 of the same work says: Neither will Unitarians accept any dogma as true because Scripture teaches it … The Unitarian church … maintains that [the Bible] writers were subject to errors.”

Here they were quoting an article on the Unitarians as an authority on the history of the Trinity! How preposterous!

Why is the Watchtower so desperate that they would resort to quoting the opinions of Bible haters for what Christians are to believe?

Again, on pages 3, 6 and 11, they quote Arthur Weigall’s The Paganism in Our Christianity (1928, 197) which is a Unitarian cultist book:

“The origin of the [Trinity] is entirely pagan.” But the final paragraph of this book has this to say:

The mistaken attitude of Christianity is very largely the fault of St. Paul … Paul was not very interested in Christ the Teacher; he was more concerned with Christ the divine Human Sacrifice.”

Why in the name of integrity would a writer quote a cultist as an authority of Christian belief?

The Watchtower writers couldn’t obviously find works by reputable Christian scholars they could use to attack the Trinity, so they had to use anti-Christians like Alvan Lamson, Andrew Norton or E. W. Hopkins.

Such a feat shows that the Watchtower Society grossly disobeys its own directives in Qualified to be Ministers (1967, p. 199):

Be very careful to be accurate in all statements you make. Use evidence honestly. In quotations do not twist the meanings of a writer or speaker or use only partial quotations to give a different thought than the person intended … And use reliable, capable authority.

On page 14, there is a section titled “Jesus a Separate Creation”. A part of it reads:

“…Jesus was a created spirit being, just as angels were spirit beings created by God…[He] was ‘the first-born of all creation.’ (Colossians 1:15 NJB) He was ‘the beginning of God’s creation.’ (Revelation 3:14, RS)…Yes, Jesus was created by God as the beginning of God’s invisible creation.”

These are claptrap arguments. First, nowhere did the Bible ever say “Jesus was created.” The idea of Jesus being an archangel is totally false and has been addressed here.

That Colossians 1:15 used as “proof” is invalid because the word “firstborn” does not imply “first created”. Two different Greek words are used for them (prototokos and protokistos) respectively.

JWs have craftily added the word “other” in brackets 4 times to Col. 1:14-18 in their translation to support the error that God created Jesus and Jesus made all other things.

But the “firstborn” means “preeminence” and “eternal preexistence” (Strong # 4416). It doesn’t mean ‘first created’. According to Greek scholar Marvin Vincent:

‘First-born’ points to eternal pre-existence …We must carefully avoid any suggestion that Christ was the first of created things, which is contradicted by the following words: ‘in Him were all things created‘” (Word Studies in the New Testament, 1946, 3:468).

The Greek word translated as “beginning” in Rev. 3:14 is “arkhe” which denotes the Creator, Originator or the One Who starts and stops time. In Rev. 21:6 and 22:13, God Himself is called Alpha and Omega, the Beginning [ar-khe] and the End. Therefore, the title applies to God as it applies to Jesus.

From pages 14-20, most of what the booklet attacked are straw man arguments about the Deity of Christ. The Watchtower Society may have convinced JWs that they are demolishing the Deity of Christ there, but what they did all through was slash away at straw man points.

Let me dig up three more misquotations.

Page 16: The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, edited by Gerhard Kittel (1967, Vol IV, 736) says: “[Monogenes] means ‘of sole descent’ i.e without brothers or sisters … But the word can also be used more generally without reference to derivation in the sense of ‘unique’, ‘unparallel’, ‘incomparable.'”

Page 20: “The fact has to be faced that New Testament research over, say, the last thirty or forty years has been leading an increasing number of reputable New Testament scholars to the conclusion that Jesus himself may not have claimed any of the christological titles which the Gospels ascribe to him, not even the functional design ‘Christ’ and certainly never believed himself to be God” (G. H. Boobyer in John Ryland’s Library Bulletin 1697-8, 50: 251).

This was a work written by another cultic group attacking Christian belief but the magazine cleverly omitted the points which trashes their belief in Jesus as Christ yet they steal their arguments!

Page 22: “Although the NT concepts of the Spirit of God are largely a continuation of those of the OT, in the NT, there is a gradual revelation that the Spirit of God is a person. The majority of NT texts reveal God’s spirit as something, not someone, this is especially seen in the parallelism between the spirit and the power of God.” (The New Catholic Encyclopedia, 13:575)

In their conclusion on p. 30, they wrote:

“…Trinitarians have often persecuted and even killed those who rejected the Trinity doctrine…They have killed their fellow Trinitarians in wartime … all in the name of the same Trinitarian God? … Thus the teaching of confusing doctrines about God has led to actions that violate his laws.

This mode of argumentation is called “poisoning the well.” It’s an attempt to create a very negative image of your opponent such that you don’t even want to consider what he really believes or to listen to what he has to say.

By making these vague or exaggerated accusations against Christians who believe in the Trinity, the Watchtower Society seals up the trap to prevent JWs from seeing their own deception.

Interestingly, this statement is coming from a religion that is horribly stained with the blood of its own adherents who have chosen to die for their heresies instead of accepting blood transfusion.

They continued: “By honouring God and worshipping him on his terms, we can avoid the judgement that he will soon bring on apostate Christendom” (p. 31).

Such hypocrisy! Does it honour God to promote falsehoods in His name? Does it honour God to hack up quotations and hide scholarly evidence that refute your views? Does it honour God to quote people who oppose His Word and deny His nature as authorities?

Do you worship God on His own terms by getting around your own rules and misleading your followers? This booklet says it all: the Jehovah’s Witness religion is a false one!