LDS Articles of Faith, Part XV

Article IV, First Principles and Ordinances

The LDS Articles of Faith uses Biblical words that are often defined by LDS scripture and LDS prophets, instead of the Bible. That is why the LDS description of Jesus Christ is so different in blogs six through ten of this series. LDS Apostle Bruce R. McConkie was an LDS theologian and the son-in-law of Joseph Fielding Smith, the tenth LDS Prophet. In his book The Promised Messiah he said on page 294, “What does it mean to believe in Christ? It means to accept Him as the Son of God in the literal and full sense of the word. It means to believe that God is His Father in the same sense that all mortal men have fathers. It means to believe that the Spirit Jehovah (LDS say that is Jesus) was born as the Son of Mary: that the great Creator took upon Himself a tabernacle of clay; that He came into the world to work out the infinite and eternal atonement. It presupposes that His Father is a personal being in whose image man is made.” And on p. 456 he said, “Our Lord’s mortality was essential to His own salvation. The eternal exaltation of Christ Himself—though He was a God and had power and intelligence like unto His Father—was dependent upon gaining a mortal body, overcoming the world by obedience, passing through the portals of death, and then coming forth in glorious immortality with a perfected celestial body. Christ came into the world to work out His own salvation with fear and trembling before the Father. There neither was, nor is, not shall be any other way for anyone. To house a spirit body, even that of a God, in an eternal tabernacle like the Father, requires a mortal birth and a mortal death. Christ wrought His atonement, first for Himself and His own salvation, then for the salvation of all those who believe on His name, and finally and in a lesser degree for all the sons of Adam. Our Lord’s mortality shows man can be saved by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel.” Rom.3:20 contradicts what McConkie said when it says, “By the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in His sight; for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” I John 3:5 also contradicts McConkie when it says “Ye know that He (Christ) was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him is no sin.” Since Jesus had no sin, He didn’t need to work out His own salvation!

In The Promised Messiah on page 521 McConkie quoted John 17:3 and said: “And this is life eternal, that they may know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent, which means that to gain eternal life we must become like the Gods of heaven, knowing and experiencing as they do, and living in the family unit as does our own Eternal Father.” John 17:3 in its context doesn’t say anything that McConkie said! He also said on page 549, “The Eternal God is a Holy Man in whose image mortal men are made. He has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s. He is a resurrected, glorified, exalted Personage of tabernacle. And He lives in a family unit. We are the spirit children of God the Eternal Father, as also are all those yet unborn and all those who have and do and will dwell on any of the infinite number of earths He has created, in an ever-expanding universe, already composed of worlds without number. All of us lived in His presence, saw His face, heard His voice, knew Him as our Father, and were taught eternal truths by Him. He endowed us with agency and ordained and established those laws, by obedience to which we could advance and progress and become like Him, those laws whereby we could gain eternal life, which is the kind of life He lives.

None of what McConkie said in this paragraph is Biblical.

On page 80 of the December 2018 LDS Ensign is an article entitled “Knowing Christ through Joseph Smith” by LDS Apostle Bruce R. McConkie. In it He said, “We teach and testify that salvation is in Christ…We rejoice in Him and in His atoning sacrifice…without whom there would be neither immortality nor eternal life…But I shall now speak of another, of the one by whom the knowledge of Christ and salvation has come to our dayI shall speak of Joseph Smith, Jr. the mighty prophet of the Restoration, the one who first heard the heavenly voice in this dispensation, the one through whose instrumentality the kingdom of God was once again established among men. In the spring of 1820 God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ rent the veil of darkness which for long ages had shrouded the earth…They came down from Their celestial home to a grove of trees near Palmyra, New York. Calling young Joseph by name, they told him that…he would be the instrument in their hands of restoring the fullness of their everlasting gospel. All men may well ask themselves where they stand with reference to Joseph Smith and his divine mission. Do they inquire after his name and seek that salvation found only in the gospel of Christ as revealed to His latter-day prophet?…Let there be no misunderstanding. We are witnesses of Christ. He is our Savior…But we are also witnesses of Joseph Smith, by whom we know of Christ, and who is the legal administrator to whom power was given to bind on earth and seal in heaven, that all men from this day forward might be heirs of salvation.”

The LDS Jesus described above and in blogs six through ten of this series is not the Biblical Jesus. The Biblical Jesus said in John 14:6 “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” No one will enter God’s heaven by trusting in the wrong Jesus! The Apostle Paul saw that some Corinthians might do that when he wrote II Cor. 11:3-4, “I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ. For if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or you receive a different spirit, which you have not (already) received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you bear this (go along with it) beautifully.” Their faith was so immature that they might accept a different Jesus or a different spirit or different gospel. Cultic groups today proclaim a false Jesus and gospel. Any organization today that claims that they alone have the truth of God and you must belong to their “church” in order to have God’s best in eternity is teaching a false gospel!

McConkie said Jesus was a pre-mortal spirit who needed a physical body in order to progress so that he could work out His own salvation before He provided salvation for others. None of that is Biblical! The Biblical Jesus was God from the very beginning according to John 1:1 and He revealed Himself in a mortal body (I Tim. 3:16, John 14:7-10). Jesus said in John 8:58 “Before Abraham was, I am.” In Ex. 3:6 God said those same words from the burning bush when Abraham asked who He was. The New Testament writers knew Jesus and were inspired to report what they saw and heard and no one today can add any real truth about Jesus! I Tim. 2:5 says “There is one God, and One Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus.” If Joseph Smith is needed to know Jesus Christ and salvation, as McConkie said, that is more than one Mediator! But II Tim. 2:13 says “God cannot deny (or contradict) Himself.”

Next time we will discuss repentance in the fourth Article of Faith.