Do Mormons Believe in Jesus?
- Clarence L. Haynes Jr. Contributing Writer
- 2022 28 Feb
Growing up in NYC in a predominantly African American neighborhood, I would often see these young men, usually white, with white dress shirts on, skinny ties which were usually black, and a backpack. At first, I had no idea who they were I just noticed they looked out of place. I soon discovered these were Mormons and they were in NYC doing missions work. I am not sure what history you have with Mormons but a common question that can be asked of Mormons and honestly every religious group is do Mormons believe in Jesus? Hopefully, this answer won’t surprise you but just like many other religious groups, they do believe in Jesus. On the surface, you might consider that reason to celebrate, because maybe they are co-laborers for the cause of Christ. Well, the fact they believe in Jesus requires us to ask a deeper question not just of Mormons but of every religious group that says they believe in Jesus. The question is what Jesus do they believe in?
For some, this question may seem a little strange, after all, isn’t Jesus, well Jesus? The answer to that question is not so fast. We should never assume that just because someone uses the name Jesus they are seeing and understanding Jesus in the same way we do as Bible-believing Christians. It is not enough to know and accept that Mormons believe in Jesus we need to know what they believe about Jesus. Answering that question will let us know if the Jesus of the Mormons and the Jesus of the Bible are the same Jesus.
Where can you find Mormon doctrinal positions?
Before I answer that I would like to give you a wonderful reference if you ever want to know about cults or other religious groups there is a classic book written by Walter Martin called Kingdom of the Cults. This book has been in my library probably for 30 years and has since been updated several times.
When it comes to Mormons, first it is important to note that officially the proper name of the Mormon Church is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. They subscribe primarily to the teachings of Joseph Smith who is its founder. He started the church in New York in 1830 and authored one of the foundational books within the Mormon religion which is The Book of Mormon. Mormons will also derive their doctrinal positions from Doctrines and Covenants, as well as the Pearl of Great Price. You can also learn more about Mormon beliefs by referring to the Journal of Discourses, which is a 26-volume collection of public sermons by early leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. One of those was Brigham Young who is a revered authoritative figure in the history of the church.
Is there an issue with Mormon theology?
The problem or challenge when dealing with Mormon or Latter-Day Saint theology is how they arrive at their doctrinal positions. There was an address given to the Harvard Divinity School in March 2001 by Robert L. Millet who is the former dean of religious education at Brigham Young University. Within this address, he lays out many of the beliefs of their church including their belief of who Jesus is. Fundamentally one of the problems of the church is even though they believe the Bible, they believe the Bible is not enough. Here are two quotes from this address.
“One of the main reasons Latter-day Saints are often relegated to the category of cult of non-Christian is because we believe in scripture beyond the Bible. To be sure, we love the Bible. We cherish its sacred teachings and delight in reading and teaching it. We seek to conform our lives to its marvelous precepts. But we do not believe that the Bible contains all that God has spoken or will yet speak in the future.”
“While we do not believe the Bible to be inerrant, complete or the final word of God, we accept the essential details of the Gospels and more particularly the divine witness of those men who walked and talked with Him or were mentored by His chosen apostles.”
The reason this quote is so problematic when applied to the beliefs of Mormons, especially about Jesus, is it opens the door to additional “revelation” beyond what God has revealed in his Word. We know that the Scriptures are all-sufficient in understanding and knowing who God is and his desire for us.
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” – 2 Timothy 3:16
As we will soon see in a few examples, the erroneous things that Mormons believe about Jesus all come from these extra-biblical sources.
What do Mormons believe about Jesus?
With this as the backdrop let’s now dig into what Mormons believe about Jesus. If you were to have a conversation with a Mormon or simply read some of the doctrinal statements many of their positions would sound like your traditional Christian beliefs. For example, here are some of the things Mormons may say they believe about Jesus.
- They believe Jesus is the Son of God, the only begotten Son in the flesh and that he was born of a virgin Mary in Bethlehem.
- They believe the accounts of Jesus’ life and ministry as recorded in the Gospels to be true and accurate.
- They believe in the miracles Jesus performed and that he suffered in the Garden of Gethsemane and that He submitted himself to death on the cross of Calvary. He was a willing sacrifice and a substitutionary atonement for our sins.
If you stopped there you would think nothing is wrong with that because these things seem to align with biblical doctrine. This is when you must dig a little deeper and when you do you will begin to see where there are some major doctrinal differences.
The sacrifice of Jesus was not sufficient for our salvation.
I want to refer to the address from Robert L. Millet and quote him directly on some of the Mormon beliefs.
“We believe that while human works are necessary— including exercising faith in Christ, repenting of our sins, receiving the sacraments or ordinances of salvation and rendering Christian service to our neighbors — they are not sufficient for salvation.”
“In summary, the undergirding doctrine of the Book of Mormon is that we are saved by the grace of Christ “after all we can do” (2 Nephi 25:23), meaning above and beyond all we can do.”
We know this is a contradiction to Scripture which simply states in Ephesians 2,
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9
For the Mormon, salvation by grace alone is not enough which means Jesus’ work on the cross was not sufficient. We know when you add anything to salvation other than faith in Christ alone, it is no longer the true gospel, and that person is putting their trust in something else for salvation.
Mormons don’t truly believe in the virgin birth.
Along with Joseph Smith, one of the authorities in Mormonism is Brigham Young. According to his teachings, Jesus was not conceived by the Holy Spirit, but God the Father impregnated Mary, which again is a direct contradiction of Scripture and what some Mormon apologists may try to espouse today. You can find reference to this in Journal of Discourses, Vol.1, pp. 50 and 51.
Jesus is a separate God, the spiritual brother of the devil and married.
Mormons reject the doctrine of the Trinity and in truth they are polytheistic. In this polytheistic view, Jesus is a separate God from the Father but it doesn’t stop there. Consider this quote from Walter Martin in Kingdom of the Cults.
“The Mormon Savior is not the second person of the Christian Trinity since, as we have seen previously, Mormons reject the Christian doctrine of the Trinity, and he is not even a careful replica of the New Testament Redeemer. In Mormon theology, Christ as a pre-existent spirit was not only the spirit brother of the devil (as alluded to in the Pearl of Great Price, Moses 4:1-4, and later reaffirmed by Brigham Young in the Journal of Discourses, Vol 13, p.282) but celebrated his own marriage to both “the Marys and Martha, whereby he could see his seed before he was crucified.” (apostle Orson Hyde, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 4, pp.259-260).”
As you can see this is painting a far different picture from Jesus in Scripture.
The Jesus of Mormonism is different from the Jesus of the Bible.
There is much more that can be said about what the Mormons believe about Jesus and their beliefs overall. As you do a careful study you will discover that the Jesus of Mormonism is quite different from the Jesus of the Bible. It is another Jesus. The Jesus of the Mormon doctrine has no true power to save because he is not the true Jesus of the Bible.
If you continue to do further study of Mormon doctrine keep this quote from the great theologian Charles Spurgeon in mind.
“Discernment is not knowing the difference between right and wrong. It is knowing the difference between right and almost right.”
When it comes to knowing what the Mormons believe about Jesus, these words have never been truer. While in some instances they will use terminology that sounds very orthodox and you may even want to believe they are holding onto true biblical doctrine, it simply is not true. Any truth that is almost right, is still wrong. While there are many sincere Mormons, unfortunately, their doctrine does not align with true biblical doctrine and the reason is that many of their beliefs come from extra-biblical sources as we have noted earlier. While Mormons may refer to Jesus even in the name of their church, and even profess belief in Jesus, you can be sure they are not talking about the same Jesus in Christianity.
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Clarence L. Haynes Jr. is a speaker, Bible teacher, and co-founder of The Bible Study Club. He is the author of The Pursuit of Purpose which will help you understand how God leads you into his will. He has also just released his new book The Pursuit of Victory: How To Conquer Your Greatest Challenges and Win In Your Christian Life. Do you want to go deeper in your walk with the Lord but can’t seem to overcome the stuff that keeps getting in the way? This book will teach you how to put the pieces together so you can live a victorious Christian life and finally become the man or woman of God that you truly desire to be. To learn more about his ministry please visit clarencehaynes.com.
The views and opinions expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of Salem Web Network and Salem Media Group.
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