Is the LDS Jesus the True Jesus of the Bible
One of the most important studies one can undertake is the study of Jesus. No one has made a greater impact upon the world or made such grand promises than he. It is also true that due to both His claims and promises there probably has never been anyone so sucritizened as Jesus either. More importantly, a personís view of Jesus will determine the validity of their religion. This is extremely important to understand. Even if a true example of ďreformed EgyptianĒ or Lehiís tree of life or some other archeological evidence of the various peoples referenced in the Book of Mormon were found, it would not provide conclusive evidence that the doctrines of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are true if the LDS Jesus is not the same Jesus as described in the Bible, Godís former self-revelation. Therefore, the study of the nature and characteristics of Jesus ought to take center stage in every discussion. Both LDS and non-LDS agree that knowing Jesus is crucial to our beliefs and hopes.
I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.[i]
Therefore, the most essential knowledge for you to obtain is the saving knowledge of the gospel and its authoróeven Jesus Christ...As the Savior said: "This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent"[ii]
Despite the agreement between LDS and non-LDS about the importance of knowing Jesus, there is a great difference between the Biblical record of Jesusí essence and characteristics and those presented by LDS Authorities and apologists. The purpose of this tract is to discuss a few of the more important differences concerning the person and work of Jesus as expressed by LDS Authorities and apologists and Godís former self-revelation, the Bible.
If you are LDS, I pray this tract will be a meaningful and nonthreatening discussion that will act as a springboard to close some doctrinal gaps separating us in our beliefs. If you are a member of the church of the meridian of time (churches of Christ), I pray you will find this writing to be a useful tool to conduct a meaningful dialogue with your LDS friend or the next young elder or sister who knocks on your door.
The blood of the LDS Jesus is limited
In most of the writings of LDS Authorities and apologists one learns Jesus went to the cross to shed his blood for the forgiveness of sins.[iii] Yet, there is evidence in those same writings that Jesusí blood is limited in the power it has to be the source by which God forgives certain sins. Former President Joseph Fielding Smith stated ďAll other sins may be forgiven, but only on conditions of sincere and permanent repentance.Ē[iv] The only exception President Smith stated is the sin against the Holy Spirit. Nevertheless the late Apostle Bruce McConkie stated;
...man may commit certain grievous sins-according to his light and knowledge-that will place him beyond the reach of the atoning blood of Christ. If then he would be saved he must make sacrifice of his own life to atone-so far as his power lies-for that sin, for the blood of Christ alone under certain circumstances will not avail...[v]
So, LDS Authorities and apologists not only seem to disagree among themselves about the extent of the power of Jesusí blood but also that Jesusí blood is limited. They even give us a list of which sins that are beyond the power of Jesusí blood to forgive. We need to realize that even though these sins are beyond the power of Jesusí blood, Heavenly Father can still forgive them. The process is called blood atonement. If a person is willing to shed his own blood for these sins, Heavenly Father will use that blood sacrifice to forgive him. This seems to mean that the blood of a sinner is actually more powerful than Jesusí blood in LDS theology. Now what are the sins which Jesusí blood cannot forgive? The sins are which are beyond Jesusí power to atone for are murder[vi], the sin against the blood of Christ[vii], adultery[viii], being married to an African[ix], breaking oneís covenant with God[x], apostasy[xi] , stealing[xii], and blasphemy against God and the Prophet.[xiii]
This concept does not square with the Bible, Godís former self-revelation. Both LDS and non-LDS agree Jesusí blood cannot save one who is not baptized for the forgiveness of sins nor one who, as a follower, refuses to repent of a sin. This is not the issue. The issue concerns the ability of Jesusí blood to atone for certain sins even if one does repent of them. The Bible teaches Jesusí blood has the power to forgive every sin from which one repents, bar none, including those sins which LDS Authoritites and apologists claim are beyond the power of Jesusí blood to atone.[xiv] Godís former self-revelation, the Bible, states that Jesusí blood can atone for: murder,[xv] adultery,[xvi] stealing,[xvii] apostasy,[xviii] covenant breaking,[xix] and blasphemy.[xx] Blasphemy against the Prophet and a white marrying an African are not addressed in the Bible.
So, Jesusí sacrifice as taught by LDS Authorities and apologists is limited because his blood cannot atone for every sin of which one repents whether they are inside or outside the church. On the other hand, Godís former self-revelation reveals that Jesusí blood can atone for any sin, including those LDS Authorities and apologists exclude, if a person truly repents. The only conclusion which we can draw is that the Jesus as described by LDS Authorities and apologists is not the same Jesus of Godís former self-revelation, the Bible. My friend , do you see the difference?
The LDS Jesus atoned for mankind in the garden.
Historically, those who are a part of the church of the meridian of time (Churches of Christ) accept that Jesusí atonement, through which Heavenly Father forgives the sins of those who are either water baptized or repent as a Christian, was accomplished on the cross. We accept that the blood Jesus spilt for our sins was the blood on the cross because we know that Jesus is Godís prophet, the Bible is his inspired and reliable word for us today, and that the church of the meridian of time is the true church.
On the other hand, LDS Authorities and apologists have historically taught that Jesusí infinite atonement for the sins of all mankind occurred in the garden of Gethesemane! This does not mean, as some have concluded, that LDS Authorities and apologists do not believe in the importance of the cross. For LDS Authorities and apologists the cross is where Jesus became the sacrifice for mankind. Nevertheless, the cross is anti-climatic to the garden event. There are four lines of evidence clearing showing LDS Authorities and apologists believe the blood which Heavenly Father uses to atone for sins was the blood Jesus shed in the garden. To begin, LDS Authorities and apologists argue that Jesusí suffering in the garden is greater than any other suffering, which would have to include the cross events.[xxi] In addition, LDS Authorities and apologists continually contrast the sin committed in the garden of Eden with the blood sweated in the garden of Gethesemane.[xxii] The contrast is the transgression Adam committed in the garden of Eden and its consequences is offset by the blood sweated by Jesus in the garden of Gethesemane. Also, LDS Authorities and apologists argue that Jesusí sweating of blood in the garden is the fulfillment of Mosiahís prophecy in Mosiah 3:7. Mosiah prophesied that the Savior would shed his blood for sins of the world. This is true. LDS Authorities and apologists will argue that the blood spilt to fulfill Mosiahís prophecy is the blood which Jesus shed in the garden. [xxiii] This final line of evidence is the most important of all. The late Apostle Bruce McConkie was a General Authority of the church, an outstanding apologist, and one of her most prolific writers. In his writings he clearly and explicitly argues that the blood which Heavenly Father uses to atone for the sins of the world is the blood which Jesus spilled in the garden of Gethesemane.
There, in agony beyond compare, suffering both body and spirit in a way incomprehensible to us, he bore the sins of all men on conditions of repentance. There, as he sweat great gouts of blood from every pore, and shrinking because of pain (would -- had such been possible -- that he might not drink the bitter cup), he paid the penalty for a broken law and poured out his soul unto death. There, as none but a God could do, he fulfilled his Father's will; brought life and immortality to light through the gospel;... [xxiv]
It is the Garden of Gethsemane and the hill of Calvary. It is great drops of blood dripping from every pore, as he took upon himself the sins of the world.[xxv]
And then there is Gethsemane, the garden of the olive press, where he sweat great drops of blood from every pore, so great was his suffering and so intense his anguish as he took upon himself the sins of all men on conditions of repentance.[xxvi]
These quotations do not exhaustive all that has been written on this subject by either Apostle McConkie or other LDS apologists. There are many more statements would could be used to further substantiate that LDS Authorities and apologetics believe that Jesusí atoning blood was shed in the garden of Gethsesmane. The above are enough. Also, remember the above quotes come from a General Authority of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This means that they carry considerable weight as evidence for the authenticity of this doctrine.
What does Godís former self-revelation teach? The blood which Heavenly Father uses to atone for our sins is the blood Jesus shed on the cross and not the blood which was sweated in the garden of Gethesemane. The garden of Gethesmane is never mentioned in connection with Jesusí sacrifice. The sweating of Jesusí blood in the garden showed the agony he was going through at that time because of what he was about to do on the cross.[xxvii] In the book of Acts, which was written by Luke, we learn that Jesusí apostles were arrested twice in the first five chapters. The second time they were arrested Luke records that the Sanhedrin, the Jewish religious ruling body, complained that the apostlesí teaching was bringing Jesusí blood down on them. At that time Peter responded by reminding the Sanhedrin that they were the very ones guilty for putting Jesus to death. In this defense, Peter never mentions the garden of Gethsesmane in connection with Jesusí blood. [xxviii] When the apostle Paul wrote to the churches in Rome he had a lot to say about Jesusí blood and its atoning power. He argues that the blood which saves us is the blood which Jesus shed in his death, not in his agony in the garden.[xxix] The church at Corinth had many problems. One of the problems they were experiencing was the misuse of the Lordís supper. In Paulís instructions to these Christians he reminds them that the fruit of the vine (grape juice) which they were to use was the same liquid Jesus used when he initiated the supper during his last Passover. This drink represented Jesusí blood and the reason for taking this drink was to remember Jesusí death, not his suffering in the garden.[xxx] Another example is Paulís letter to Colosse. Paul encourages the church to remain faithful by reminding them that their sins had been atoned for by the blood Jesus shed on the cross and Paul never mentions the garden. There are no exceptions to the above examples. The garden of Gethsesmane is a crucial event in which Jesusí feelings battle with Satanís temptations to find a different path than the cross. But the blood sweated there merely tells us of the awesome spiritual battle that was raging during that night. Nevertheless, the blood which Heavenly Father uses to atone for our sins is the blood which Jesus shed on the cross.
This also brings up a problem with baptism. LDS Authorities and apologists argue that baptism is the process which Heavenly Father uses to be the place where a sinner symbolically contacts Jesusí blood and has his sins atoned for. Those of the church of the meridian of time agree completely. Nevertheless, according to Godís former self-revelation, the Bible, the process of baptism is effective because it puts one into Jesusí death, burial, and resurrection. As we pointed out earlier, the blood Heavenly Father uses to atone our sins is the blood Jesus shed in his death. The only way to contact Jesusí blood is through the process of baptism.[xxxi]
Nevertheless, according to LDS Authorities and apologists the place were Jesus spilt His blood for atonement was in the garden of Gethesemane, not on the cross. So, here is the problem. Since there is no mechanism provided by LDS Authorities and apologists by which one can get into the garden, even symbolically, and it is in the garden where Jesus shed His blood for the forgiveness of sins, it would seem then that no worthy LDS has truly received atonement.
To conclude, LDS Authorities and apologists argue Jesus shed his blood for the atonement of mankind in the garden of Gethsesmane and the cross, while important, is anti-climatic. This means the LDS application of baptism is misplaced and cannot provide atonement. On the other hand, Godís former self-revelation, the Bible, states that Jesus shed his blood on the cross to provide atonement for mankind. My friend, do you see the difference?
The LDS Jesus became a God
According to the process of Eternal progression all LDS Gods are humans who have progressed to exaltation. There are four general stages. Eternal floating particles merge to create a proto-spirit child.[xxxii] Eventually, these merged floating particles are spiritually born to a God and one of his Goddesses becoming a spirit child.[xxxiii] When the time is right the spirit child is eventually born into mortality on some planet, sins, obeys the LDS gospel, lives faithfully, dies, goes into the hadaen world and becomes a part of a huge missionary force spreading the gospel to the lost in Tarturus. Finally, if the person is worthy he will be resurrected and be exalted to the Celestial kingdom. It is here that the worthy LDS receives Godhood and is given a universe to populate. Thus, all the Gods start out as something other than Deity. Now, depending on who one talks with it is said Jesus had to do the same to become a God.[xxxiv] The implications for this are great. Since Eternal progression is by definition an endless process, this means no two Gods will ever be equal in anything. There will always be one God who is a little more Deity than another or one is a little less infinite than another. Because the process is endless no two Gods can ever be equal in power, presence, holiness, or knowledge. Since Jesus became a God after Heavenly Father this means Jesus will always be inferior as Deity to Heavenly Father. The Biblical world-view provided by Heavenly Father through his former self-revelation, the Bible, is quite different. Moses wrote;
Before the mountains were brought forth, or every thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.[xxxv]
The Bible describes God as one who has always been Deity. In other words, there has never been a point in the infinite past when God could ever have been a bunch of floating particles, a spirit child, or a mere human on some planet. According to his own self-revelation, the Bible, God defines himself as one who has always been Deity in the infinite past. Jesus is described also as one who has always been Deity in the past. Micah, a prophet of Israel, in his prophecy about the birth place of the Christ states;
But thou, Beth-lehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from old and everlasting.[xxxvi]
The Christ the Jews were looking forward to and the one whom Jesusí apostles wrote about was one who infinitely preexisted in the past his mortal state as Deity only.[xxxvii] The Jesus of the Bible did not progress through various existential stages to exaltation and Godhood. He has always been Deity. As Deity He is equal with Heavenly Father.[xxxviii] As Deity He is the Creator God.[xxxix] Therefore, one of the greatest differences between the doctrines of LDS Authorities and apologists and the church of the meridian of time is the doctrine of Jesusí preexistence. Both LDS and non-LDS accept that Jesus preexisted. That is not in question. What is in question is the existential state of that preexistence . LDS Authorities and apologists teach Jesus preexisted His mortal existence on earth for a period of time in the past as one who was not Deity. On the other hand, Godís own former self-revelation, the Bible, reveals that Jesus as God was Deity in the past, is right now, and always will be into the future. Therefore, the LDS Jesus has not always been Deity from old and everlasting, but in fact existed as something other than Deity. It seems the only conclusion we can draw is that the LDS Jesus is not the same Jesus described in the Bible. My friend, do you see the difference?
After comparing some of the characteristics of the LDS Jesus and the Jesus of the Bible, we see the two concepts are very different and some would argue, contradictory. The validity of any religious system is predicated upon the truthfulness of what is taught about Jesus. If what a religion teaches about Jesus is examined and they are not substantiated by Godís own former self-revelation, the Bible, then it would seem to follow that it is proper to question the existence of that religious system as well. However, this does not mean that every religious system is valid merely because it does hold to the Jesus of the Bible. Once the foundational issues are settled, then we would have to turn to the internal evidences of the Bible to distinguish between competing religions. So, if Jesus is the one who built the church then it would seem to follow that knowing who Jesus really is will help us from being deceived and miss out on the wonderful plans Heavenly Father has for us all.
The Christians of the church of the meridian of time (churches of Christ) plead with you to examine both the system of faith based upon the Jesus of LDS Authorities and apologists by comparing their claims with Godís own former self-revelation, the Bible.
If you would like more information about the Biblical teachings about Jesus, or need assistance in finding Biblical answers to todayís questions, please contact me at:
2810 Dunbar Drive
Uniontown Ohio 44685
[i]. John 8:24
[ii]. Ezraa Taft Benson, Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p.295 as reproduced in LDS Collectorís Library Ď97 [CD-ROM] (West Valley City, UT: Bookcraft, 1998).
[iii]. Mosiah 4:2
[iv]. Joseph Fielding Smith, Answers to Gospel Questions, Vol. 1, p. 68 as reproduced in LDS Collectorís Library Ď97 [CD-ROM] (West Valley City, UT: Bookcraft, 1998).
[v]. Bruce R. McConkie, Doctrines of Salvation, Vol. 1, p. 133-136 as reproduced in LDS Collectorís Library Ď97 [CD-ROM] (West Valley City, UT: Bookcraft, 1998).
[vi]. Bruce McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 520 MURDERS as reproduced in LDS Collectorís Library Ď97 [CD-ROM] (West Valley City, UT: Bookcraft, 1998).
[vii]. Joseph Fielding Smith, Gospel Doctrine, p. 477 as reproduced in LDS Collectorís Library Ď97 [CD-ROM] (West Valley City, UT: Bookcraft, 1998).
[viii]. Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, 3:247 as reproduced in LDS Collectorís Library Ď97 [CD-ROM] (West Valley City, UT: Bookcraft, 1998).
[ix]. Wilfordís Woodruffís Journal, January 16, 1852, typed copy
[x]. Jedehiah M. Grant, Deseret News, July 27, 1854 as reproduced in LDS Collectorís Library Ď97 [CD-ROM] (West Valley City, UT: Bookcraft, 1998).
[xi]. Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, 4:219-220 as reproduced in LDS Collectorís Library Ď97 [CD-ROM] (West Valley City, UT: Bookcraft, 1998).
[xii]. Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, 1:108-109 as reproduced in LDS Collectorís Library Ď97 [CD-ROM] (West Valley City, UT: Bookcraft, 1998).
[xiii]. Jerald and Sandra Tanner, The Changing World of Mormonism (Moody Press; Chicago, IL), p. 500
[xiv]. Romans 1:18-32; I Corinthians 6:9-11; Galatians 5:16-21. There are many other passages which when taken together with these show there is no sin for which one repents which Jesusí power can not remove.
[xv]. Acts 26:10. Paul, as Saul the persecutor murdered Christians. Nevertheless, he was forgiven. King David was guilty of murdering Uriah, yet was forgiven (2 Samuel 12:9)
[xvi]. I Corinthians 5:1; II Corinthians 2:5-8
[xvii]. I Corinthians 6:10-11
[xviii]. Isaiah 1:18-19
[xix]. Nehemiah 1:8-9
[xx]. Colossians 3:8
[xxi]. Joseph Fielding Smith Jr., Doctrines of Salvation, Vol.1, p.130 as reproduced in LDS Collectorís Library Ď97 [CD-ROM] (West Valley City, UT: Bookcraft, 1998).
[xxii]. Collected Discourses, Vol.5, Joseph E. Taylor, November 18th, 1894 as reproduced in LDS Collectorís Library Ď97 [CD-ROM] (West Valley City, UT: Bookcraft, 1998).
[xxiii]. George F. Richards, Conference Report, October 1914, p.82 as reproduced in LDS Collectorís Library Ď97 [CD-ROM] (West Valley City, UT: Bookcraft, 1998).
[xxiv]. Bruce R. McConkie, A New Witness for the Articles of Faith, p.620 - p.621 as reproduced in LDS Collectorís Library Ď97 [CD-ROM] (West Valley City, UT: Bookcraft, 1998).
[xxvi]. Bruce R. McConkie, The Mortal Messiah, Vol.4, pp.428-.429 as reproduced in LDS Collectorís Library Ď97 [CD-ROM] (West Valley City, UT: Bookcraft, 1998).
[xxvii]. Hebrews 5:7-9
[xxviii]. Acts 5:28-30
[xxix]. Romans 5:6-9
[xxx]. I Corinthians 11:23-25
[xxxi]. John 19:34; Romans 6:3-4; Colossians 2:13-15
[xxxii]. Orson Pratt, The Seer, (Grandin Book Company: Orem Utah, 1990) p. 103
[xxxiii]. Orson Pratt, The Seer, p. 37
[xxxiv]. There is a growing number of LDS Authorities and apologists who claim Jesus became a God in the preexistence because he already had so much knowledge. If this insight is true it means Jesus became a God before he had a mortal body and went through the process of Eternal progression.
[xxxv]. Psalms 90:2
[xxxvi]. Micah 5:2
[xxxvii]. Matthew 2:5-6
[xxxviii]. John 10:30
[xxxix]. Hebrews 1:8-12