LDS Articles of Faith, Part VIII
Article I—Jesus Christ, cont’d
When Christians tell Mormons that the Jesus of Mormonism is not the Jesus of the Bible, they are often offended. Mormons accept the gospel accounts of Jesus’ earthly life, but they also accept many other things about Christ taught in LDS scripture and by LDS Prophets that are not Biblical. Christians often tell LDS they believe in a different Jesus because of those other non-Biblical beliefs like Christ’s “pre-mortal life” discussed in our previous blogs. But LDS leaders have also said they believe in a different Jesus. President Gordon B. Hinckley, the 15th LDS Prophet said of Christ, “He is the Son of the living God, the firstborn (pre-mortal spirit son) of the Father, the only begotten in the flesh, who left the royal courts on high to be born as a mortal…As a Church we have critics, many of them. They say we do not believe in the traditional Christ of Christianity. There is some substance to what they say. Our faith, our knowledge is not based on ancient tradition, the creeds which came from a finite understanding and out of almost infinite discussion of men trying to arrive at a definition of the risen Christ. OUR faith, our knowledge comes of a witness of a prophet in this dispensation (Joseph Smith) who saw before him the great God of the universe and His beloved Son, the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ. They spoke to him. He spoke to them. He testified openly, unequivocally, and unabashedly of that great vision. It was a vision of the Almighty and of the Redeemer of the world, glorious beyond our understanding but certain and unequivocating revelation, that we, in the words of Nephi, ‘talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that we and our children may know to what source we may look for a remission of our sins’ [II Nephi 25:26]” (Ensign, May 2002, pp.90-91).
According to Hinckley, LDS beliefs about Christ are based on what Joseph Smith said he saw, not on traditional (Biblical) accounts of the eye witnesses of Jesus’ ministry and resurrection! Joseph Smith said he was alone when he was 14 years old and saw God the Father and Jesus Christ (see the Pearl of Great Price, Joseph Smith—History 1:14 to 23). So,he had no witnesses to support what he said he saw when he was 14. Later, Smith said both God the Father and Jesus had bodies of flesh and bones (Doctrine & Covenants 130:22) The Bible shows there were many eye witnesses of Christ’s earthly ministry and His resurrection and they were reputable adults, not just one 14 year old child. Yet, Hinckley and the LDS Church accept Smith’s word and reject “ancient tradition, the creeds which came from a finite understanding.” What Hinckley rejects came from the eye witnesses of Jesus’ ministry and resurrection and it was passed on to later generations as “The Rule of Faith.” It is true that they were mortals with finite understanding, but so was 14 year old Joseph Smith! And Smith was not an eyewitness of Jesus’ earthly ministry or His resurrection and they were! Hinckley’s reason for rejecting the ancient traditions and creeds is questionable when so much genuine historical evidence exists.
Mormons accept the Biblical accounts of Jesus’ earthly ministry, but they also accept what Joseph Smith said and what LDS scriptures says about Christ in the Book of Mormon (B. of M.), the Doctrine and Covenants (D. & C.) and Pearl of Great Price (P. of G. P.). All three of those LDS books of scripture were produced by Joseph Smith, and they all have information about Christ that is not Biblical or it is out of historical context. The book of Moses in the P. of G. P. speaks of Christ’s pre-mortal existence where Satan was also a son of God and a spirit brother of Jesus. Joseph Smith claimed that God revealed the contents of the book of Moses to Moses when he was leading Israel from Egypt to the Promised Land. That would be about 1500 years before Jesus was born in Bethlehem, yet in the Book of Moses, Jesus is called the “Only Begotten” Son numerous times. But, LDS authorities say that Jesus is called the “Only Begotten Son” because He was the “only begotten Son of God in the flesh” when He was born in Bethlehem. The same problem exists in Genesis of the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible (JST) which contains exactly the same content as Moses chapter 2 through 8:18 in the P. of G. P. Those books also mention “Jesus Christ” and the “Holy Ghost” in the texts that Moses supposedly wrote hundreds of years before the birth of Christ. But those terms are never found in the Biblical books that Moses wrote or anywhere else in the Old Testament! It is also revealing that the book of “Moses” and the JST of the Bible are written in the King James language of 1611 AD and several parts of those books even use the exact words in the same order as the King James Translation of the Bible. That is plagiarism, not inspiration! Moses didn’t speak 1611 A. D. English in 1500 BC and Americans didn’t speak it in 1830 AD either when Joseph Smith began his “Translation” of the JST Bible!
The D. & C. contains numerous “revelations from the Lord” to Joseph Smith, but many of them contain false predictions about someone or about some future event. LDS often refer to D. & C. Sec. 87 which they say is a prophecy of the Civil War that Smith received from the Lord on December 25, 1832. Verses 1-3 say, “Verily, thus saith the Lord concerning the wars that will shortly come to pass, beginning at the rebellion of South Carolina, which will eventually terminate in the death and misery of many souls; And the time will come that war will be poured out upon all nations, beginning at this place. For behold, the Southern States will be divided against the Northern States, and the Southern States will call on other nations even the nation of Great Britain, as it is called, and they shall also call upon other nations, in order to defend themselves against other nations; and then war shall be poured out upon all nations.” Smith often used the phrase “Thus saith the Lord” to give his messages more credibility. Any good U S history book will show that anything true in this “prophecy” was common knowledge in December of 1832. On July 14, 1832 Congress passed a tariff act that the Southern States considered harmful. So, on November 19, 1832 South Carolina passed a nullification ordinance rejecting the tariff. On December 10, 1832 President Andrew Jackson issued a proclamation against nullifiers threatening them with trial for treason. When the Governor of So. Carolina ignored it, President Jackson sent part of an army with a war ship to collect the tariff and the nation expected war to begin in 1832, but it didn’t. Even when the Civil War began it didn’t fulfill Smith’s prophecy which predicted “wars” beginning “shortly” in South Carolina and that the Southern states would call on Great Britain and they would call upon other nations. The Southern states called on Great Britain, but they didn’t respond and didn’t call on other nations as Smith predicted. This prophecy said this war would result in war being poured out upon all nations and v. 6 says it will bring about “a full end of all nations,” which didn’t happen. So “the Lord” who revealed this prophecy to Joseph Smith was not “the Lord Jesus” of the Bible because He didn’t reveal false prophecies to anyone!
We will continue to discuss Jesus in the first LDS Article of Faith next time.