It started out as a simple question and answer – my friend asking me about the difference between Mormons and Christians. My first reply was that I didn’t think there was a difference. He then proceeded to ask more in-depth questions about “proof”, “examples”, etc. I answered these questions too, mostly with testimony based on my experiences.
My perspective is that even though I feel my answers were very direct and answered his questions, he generally came back with more questions and didn’t seem to either read, understand, or WANT to understand my beliefs (which is fine I guess).
My last response to him was a bit more direct, quoting the scripture in 2 Nephi that invites people to believe in Christ and if you believe in Christ, you’ll believe in Nephi’s words.
Finally the discussion has turned to a “we believe in a totally different Jesus”, including examples of the “Mormon Jesus” vs. the “Jesus of the Bible.
Here was my friend’s latest response:
I really appreciate the discussion as well and it is a great thing to study, research and re-explore because truth answers any and all questions and it does set mankind free.
Let me respond to each of your responses and questions and the end of this message, but the most important thing we can deal with is the nature of God and Jesus Christ.
I understand your illustration about “Nate Moller,” and how the experiences after only add to the Nate Moller I knew, but if facts about your life contradict from the very beginning and just your name and a few other details are correct, than I would say that it is not the Nate I know. I am not talking about additions to who “Nate is”…I am talking about direct contradictions from the Nate Moller I knew.
When you and I talk about Jesus Christ, many of the same words are used and this can seem like we are in agreement…but when you take a deeper look at what the definition of those words are, it becomes really evident that we are talking about a completely different Jesus Christ. Let me give you just a few examples below and then you tell me if we are talking about the same Jesus…
#1. Jesus of the Bible: In the beginning with God, was never created and was always God.
Jesus of Mormonism: Jesus was one of spirit sons of the God Elohim. He was the brother of Lucifer and therefore He was not present in the beginning.
#2. Jesus of the Bible: Jesus is God (second person of the Godhead)…He claimed to be God and recognizes no other.
Jesus of Mormonism: Jesus is one of many Gods. One of thousands upon thousands of Gods.
#3 Jesus of the Bible: Born of the virgin birth (conceived supernaturally by the Holy Spirit). There is no physical union, therefore being virgin.
Jesus of Mormonism: conceived by a physical sex act between God the Father and Mary. (also called a virgin birth according to Mormonism, but vastly different that biblical account.)
#4. Jesus of the Bible:Eternally sinless and perfect
Jesus of Mormonism: Once sinful and imperfect
#5. Jesus of the Bible: As God, never required Salvation.
Jesus of Mormonism: Earned his own salvation through exaltation.
#6. Jesus of Bible:An unmarried monogomist
Jesus of Mormonism: A married man and by some accounts of Mormons had many wives.
Do these look the same to you Nate? The Jesus you serve and the Jesus I serve are very different….
You asked me a great question about why so many different translations and churches and why we all believed different things. The honest question to that is the pride and sin of mankind. God intended the Bible to be read and interpreted according to the author’s intended meaning who were all moved and inspired by the Holy Spirit to write the accounts recorded. But man in his sin and arrogance at times reads the Word and interprets according to what he wants to hear and what sounds best to him and this is a major issue of mankind and the church. But that does not change the truth of the Bible! It is inspired and true and stands up to the test of times!
I challenge you to find areas where the Bible contradicts itself? Give me some specific examples? Also, Give me 3 specific bible translations that have missing verses or words have been changed to scew the meaning.
You also mentioned that the Book of Mormon has been translated one time? Is that correct? Nate, I have read the book of Mormon and I have found many contradictions and major issues that I have never found in the word of God. Woud you be interested to know some of those things I have found?
Nate, this discussion we are having is more than an intellectual tug of war or food for thought. This is about eternity, this is about ultimate truth, this is about our family legacy and the future of those I love with all of my heart, this about loving a God that has first loved us….Nate, let’s search out all of these things and probe to find the answers that God is faithful to provide! He hold the truth.
So, I’ve been thinking about how to answer this question without encouraging contention or debate.
Here’s my attempt, which I haven’t sent yet:
Thanks again for your response and feedback.
Before I respond to some of your questions and insight, I want to make sure you know that I value our friendship and don’t want this conversation on religion to turn into a debate or argument. My intention from the beginning of your questions about “Mormons vs. Christians” has always been to simply answer your questions based on my experience as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for over 33 years.
Your recent response has seemed to take a different direction, attempting to tell me about the “Jesus of Mormonism” or who I supposedly believe Jesus to be. After thinking a lot about how to respond without creating contention, one of our articles of faith came to mind:
“We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God, according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men, the same privilege: let them worship how, where and what they may.” (http://lds.org/scriptures/pgp/a-of-f/1?lang=eng)
I won’t go into your beliefs on “Jesus of the Bible” since if that’s what you believe, I respect that even though I may not believe the same exactly or my interpretation may be different than yours.
Here, however, are responses to your claims* about the “Jesus of Mormonism” that you have been taught or understand. My attempt will be to simply clarify what members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints really believe about Jesus. My hope is that you will take my word about what I believe since I have been a member of this church my entire life.
* Jesus of Mormonism: Jesus was one of spirit sons of the God Elohim. He was the brother of Lucifer and therefore He was not present in the beginning.
This is a partial truth: yes, we believe that Jesus is the Son of God, that he is the brother of Lucifer and our oldest brother. We do believe He was the Creator of all things from the beginning, although the “beginning” is something I personally don’t understand completely. So to say he was “not present in the beginning” is not something we teach.
* Jesus of Mormonism: Jesus is one of many Gods. One of thousands upon thousands of Gods.
This talk given recently in our General Conference should clarify who we believe Jesus to be: http://lds.org/general-conference/2011/10/teachings-of-jesus?lang=eng
In my 33 years as a member of the LDS Church, I’ve not heard this claim that we worship thousands upon thousands of Gods. Here is a direct quote about who we believe God is from Mormon.org: “God is perfect, all wise, and all-powerful; the ruler of the universe. He is also merciful, kind, and just. He is our Father in Heaven. We are created in His image (Genesis 1:27). He has a body that looks like ours, but God’s body is immortal, perfected, and has a glory that words can’t describe. Because we are His children, He knows and loves each of us individually. He has a plan to help His children find joy in this life and return to live with Him when this life is over.” (http://mormon.org/faq/#Heavenly+Father|question=/faq/nature-of-god/)
While we do believe that we all have the potential to become like God as His children, we only worship God the Father, the only true and Living God.
* Jesus of Mormonism: conceived by a physical sex act between God the Father and Mary. (also called a virgin birth according to Mormonism, but vastly different that biblical account.)
I’ve never read anything in the scriptures or word’s of the prophets that goes into this detail nor is it something I’ve ever heard explained in the way that you’ve explained it.
Here’s one scriptural account of what we believe about Mary and Jesus:
15 And I said unto him: A virgin, most beautiful and fair above all other virgins.
16 And he said unto me: Knowest thou the condescension of God?
17 And I said unto him: I know that he loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things.
18 And he said unto me: Behold, the virgin whom thou seest is the mother of the Son of God, after the manner of the flesh.
19 And it came to pass that I beheld that she was carried away in the Spirit; and after she had been carried away in the Spirit for the space of a time the angel spake unto me, saying: Look!
20 And I looked and beheld the virgin again, bearing a child in her arms.
21 And the angel said unto me: Behold the Lamb of God, yea, even the Son of the Eternal Father!
One common thing I’ve seen as of late with the political campaign is non-members of our Church will tell the members what they do and don’t believe. When they show proof of some of our doctrines from a supposed “reliable” source, it is usually from a source that is not officially published by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Some of those errant sources are admittedly from members of our church, but that does not mean that it is an official declaration of the doctrine of the church. It sounds like this claim of the “Jesus of Mormonism” may fall into that category.
* Jesus of Mormonism: Once sinful and imperfect
I’ve never heard this or read this anywhere in our doctrine. We believe Jesus Christ was the perfect example, without sin, and that he paid for all of our sins if we will repent. He was baptized by John in the river Jordan only to show us His perfect example. When tempted by Lucifer, he did not give in and eventually told Satan to depart. We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the His Gospel.
* Jesus of Mormonism: Earned his own salvation through exaltation.
I’m not sure I really even understand what this statement means. Jesus did come to Earth to be our Savior; He was an integral part in the great Plan of Happiness.
* Jesus of Mormonism: A married man and by some accounts of Mormons had many wives.
This may be an opinion of some, but I have not read this in the official doctrine of the Church nor have I ever heard it discussed in our church meetings. As members of the Church of Jesus Christ, we believe marriage is an essential part of salvation, just as baptism is also a saving ordinance.
We know that Jesus was baptized to fulfill all righteousness; there are no documents to my knowledge that state that Jesus was married in the scriptures.
At the end of the day, whether or not Jesus was married does not change our belief that He is our Savior and Redeemer.
Hopefully my answers have helped clarify some misunderstandings you may have about who the “Jesus of Mormonism” really is.
Here are a few other sources that may help clarify as well:
Thanks again for the conversation we’ve had about our beliefs. I wish you the best in your pursuit of your faith and only ask that if you sincerely would like to know what we believe in, that you read and study the Book of Mormon, in conjunction with the Bible. Together, these inspired words of God written by ancient prophets will lead us back to Him if we follow their teachings.
Other Things I Found While Searching for Answers
The Book of Mormon is not a replacement for the Bible. In fact, because the Book of Mormon and the Bible both contain the gospel of Jesus Christ as it was revealed to different civilizations, studying them together can clarify some concepts that are difficult to understand. The Book of Mormon tells us to read the Bible and affirms that its message is true (Mormon 7:8-10). – http://mormon.org/book-of-mormon/