Beliefs Faith Jana Riess: Flunking Sainthood Opinion

Mormons, Evangelicals, and the Trinity

Yesterday, evangelical seminary president Richard Land stated his public disagreement with former Fuller Theological Seminary president Richard Mouw about the evolution of Mormon beliefs.

The background for this is that a few weeks ago, Mouw published an article in First Things in which he stated that Mormon beliefs have moved closer to Christian orthodoxy . . . in one area, which is that Mormons today rarely or ever talk about God having once been a man.

Mormons nowadays, said Mouw, focus on only one-half of the famous “Lorenzo Snow couplet” that stated:

As man now is, God once was;

As God now is, man may be.

In other words, while Mormons still talk about the eternal progress of the human soul and the possibility of our becoming like God (part 2 of the couplet), the first half has fallen into such disuse that Mouw points out that in recent LDS curriculum focusing on Lorenzo Snow, all four of the suggested discussion questions related to the couplet “focus on the future life of the believer,” and not a single one on “the ontological status of God.”

Mouw says in the article that his thinking on this issue has been profoundly changed by his participation in an evangelical-Mormon dialogue group over the last decade and a half. For years now, he has co-led this dialogue with BYU religion dean Robert Millet, forging deep friendships across the evangelical-Mormon divide.

Over the last year, I’ve had the privilege of being involved with this dialogue too, and just returned from our spring meeting, held last Friday at Harvard Divinity School. It was a feast of discussion and fellowship.

Returning from this intellectual and spiritual high, I came down with a thud this morning when I saw Richard Land’s categorical rejection of Mormonism in OneNewsNow.

Because instead of, as one member of our group put it, asking Mouw himself or someone who was actually there at the dialogues, Land took it upon himself to erect a clear wall to fend off all Mormon interlopers.

“The Mormon Jesus is not our Jesus,” he said.

Land’s statement reveals that he doesn’t know Mormon theology very well:

“The foundational doctrine of Mormonism is that God is eternal but Jesus is not,” Land told OneNewsNow. “Until they get that doctrine right—the doctrine of the Trinity—how can they be approaching orthodoxy?”

Hmmm. Last I checked, the Trinity was not defined as the belief that both God and Jesus are eternal. If it were, Mormons would be in the clear, since LDS theology clearly states that Jesus, as well as God, is an eternal being who has never not existed.

Instead, traditional definitions of the Trinity focus on God and Jesus being part of a three-in-one God, being the same essence. Trinitarian theology posits a triune God in full equality of relationship.

And that is where Mormons and traditional Christians diverge.

Mormons are not Trinitarians. We believe in “God in three persons,” yes; but those persons are “separate and distinct” even though they are fully “one in purpose.” The Father is not the Son; the Son is not the Holy Spirit.

What I wish is that Land and others like him, those who are so quick to dismiss the Mormon Jesus as “not our Jesus” and engage in us-them boundary setting, would take the time to learn some nuances about what Mormons actually believe and teach.

That’s not glamorous work. Quiet study and deep listening are never going to land on any news feeds. But it’s what we should demand from Land, a seminary president with, for heaven’s sake, a doctorate from Oxford.

The theological differences between Mormons and evangelicals are real, especially when it comes to the Trinity. But we don’t need to widen that gulf by fabricating, in our ignorance, additional differences that don’t exist.


RELATED POSTS:

 

 

About the author

Jana Riess

Senior columnist Jana Riess is the author of many books, including "The Prayer Wheel" (Random House/Convergent, 2018) and "The Next Mormons: How Millennials Are Changing the LDS Church" (Oxford University Press, 2019). She has a PhD in American religious history from Columbia University.

86 Comments

Click here to post a comment

  • Yes! Where’s the “Like” button for this article? 🙂 Thank you. I’m so weary of the whole “us vs. them” dialog. And we (Mormons) are not innocent on that front. We’ve been pointing a doctrinal finger at other faiths since the beginning. Jana, I appreciate people like you working for understanding and middle ground.

  • From Wikipedia.

    John 1:1 is the first verse in the opening chapter of the Gospel of John. In the King James Version, the verse reads:

    “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”.
    The phrase “the Word” (a translation of the Greek word “Logos”) is widely interpreted as referring to Jesus, as indicated in other verses later in the same chapter. This verse and others throughout Johannine literature connect the Christian understanding of Jesus to the philosophical idea of the Logos and the Hebrew Wisdom literature. They also set the stage for later understanding development of Trinitarian theology early in the post-biblical era.

    Maybe you can all figure it out.

  • So mainstream Christians teach of a God that is three-in-one in substance, and Mormons teach of a God whose three-in-one is corporate — but whether the label is the Trinity or the Godhead, or simply God, the three act as one. Personally, I consider the difference between predestination and free will, or salvation through Grace alone or through Grace and acts, to be of much greater importance. But those divisions run through mainstream Christianity rather than between mainstream Christianity and the LDS Church, and so are unsuited to many detractors’ purposes.

  • As I understand LDS theology, they believe that Jesus always existed in the “loins” of Elohim.

    Yet, there’s more differences between Biblical christianity and the LDS, origin of the universe for one. I mean, if man must have a planet/world/earth (the LDS I’ve witnessed to will obfuscate about the semantic differences regarding those 3 words…) in order to fulfill the statutes and ordinances of the LDS, where did the first planet come from? In fact, where did the universe come from according to LDS theology?

    If Moroni 8:18 states: 18 For I know that God is not a partial God, neither a changeable being; but he is unchangeable from all eternity to all eternity.
    But in the King Follett discourse, Joseph Smith says:…” for I am going to tell you how God came to be God. We have imagined and supposed that God was God from all eternity. I will refute that idea, and take away the veil, so that you may see.
    So which is it?

    I have only scratched the surface of the differences between christianity and the LDS…..

    BTW, I LOVE the LDS people which is why I try to witness to them as often as possible. Because if what they believe about the afterlife is true, then I have nothing to worry about. But if what the Jesus of the Bible said is true…..

  • Oh my goodness Jana. Did you just post an article that did not rip into the Church? Bravo.

  • Well does your Jesus care what brand of Christianity one prescribes to? Has your Jesus really prepared a place of literal fiery torment for all eternity simply because one picked the wrong one? Are theological technicalities that important or does your Jesus save all those who seek his salvation no matter their sect?

  • Well to go into a frank and open discussion, and not just apologetics, I would say that Jesus is the first born among our Heavenly Father’s spirit children. That’s why many Mormons call Him our Elder Brother. However intelligences, the most basic starting point of all spiritual beings, have no beginning and have no end. So Jesus is the Firstborn and from our perspective so from the beginning He was there. That premortal Jesus, being chosen by the Father, was the Jehovah of the Old Testament and the Creator of the world. So for Mormons the first chapter of John holds no contradiction to Mormon doctrine. Now critics would claim we are performing mental gymnastics when defending our views but let’s be honest so does anyone who tries to explain the logic and scriptural necessity of the Christian Trinity.

  • Joseph Smith: History 1:19 Glasshouses and stones spring easily to mind.

    Further, historically, Jesus has only existed eternally as all have, according to Mormon teaching, in the sense that all ‘matter’ is eternal, but he hasn’t always existed as Jesus. He was ‘born of the Father’ in eternity, a thought that reignites the debate of whether there was a time when the Son ‘was not.’ Mormonism insists there was. He is not, in the Mormon view, eternally God, or even eternally one of three gods, but the eldest of a brood of children, including Lucifer, brought into existence, as we understand existence.

    McConkie explains it well in his book ‘The promised Messiah.’

    ‘Though he has now attained unto that exalted state in which he is described as being, ‘from everlasting to everlasting’…yet, as a conscious identity, he had a beginning. He was born, as were all the spirit children of the Father. God was his Father, as he is of the rest. For him, as for all men-and he is the Prototype-the eternal spirit element that has neither beginning nor end, and is self-existent by nature, was organised into a spirit body. He is one of, ‘the intelligences that were organised before the world was.’ (Abr.3:22) He was and is the Firstborn of the Father.’

    Perhaps Land understands Mormonism better than you think, perhaps better than you.

  • There are those who insist that The
    Holy Bible and the Book of Mormon are in agreement. If that is true, then are
    Mormons about to confess the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ Who is
    God-in-human-flesh? If Mormons are unable to do so, then The Holy Bible and the
    Book of Mormon are not in agreement. Furthermore, Mormons have a different
    Jesus than do Christians. God, a Trinity of Persons having one Eternal Essence.
    This was clarified in A.D. 325 by
    the Church Fathers meeting in a Council to deal with the heresy known as
    Arianism. From the teachings of those Church Fathers, who Orthodox Christians
    commemorate on both 29 May AND the Seventh Sunday of Pascha,we have these three
    terms:
    1. homoousios
    – A Greek term meaning one essence; of the same, identical substance or essence. The Western term generally used instead of homoousios is “Consubstantial.”
    2. hypostasis/-es – Its theological premise is that God IS
    a complete whole with no separation of parts, and humans only define the Three
    so as to explain what for us is inexplicable. In the West, this term, in
    English, is often translated as a person.
    3. ousia – A Greek term meaning essence; Saint Basil strictly defined ousia as “the essence of the Godhead, shared by all Three Persons—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” “Substance” is the Western term
    for essence.

    Clearly,the teaching of the Trinity and the Eternal Nature of God the Father, God the
    Son, and God the Holy Spirit is not some recent phenomenon.

  • The First Ecumenical Council was held in 325 A. D. in the city of Nicaea. This Council condemned the heresy of Arius, who denied the divinity of Jesus Christ and was teaching that our Lord was a God’s creature. This heresy provoked much unrest in the Church. Besides proclaiming true teaching concerning God Father and God Son, Jesus Christ, as it is presented in the first seven articles of the Creed, the Council made some canons, regulating the life of the Church.

  • You know well Latter-day Saints know Jesus Christ as the LORD GOD, Jehovah, the Creator of the world. For the most part Jesus is the same in Mormonism, it’s God the Father that differs quite a bit and the article explains how.

    Now I’m curious. As a believer in the orthodox Trinity (and through your post you are cleary quite knowledgeable) how does God the Father and God Holy Spirit differ? If they both are personages of spirit (so are not like God the Son who has a body) why is there a Trinity instead of a Divine Duo?

  • No, I think you know more than Land. I learned what you are talking about as a primary child (younger than 8). It’s the same curriculum for all Mormon children.

  • You make a fine point. If free will is up your theological ally you may find as much in common with a Mormon as you would a Presbyterian.

  • I always have fun asking people if they believe in Arianism. It’s a fun question to ask Mormons and non-Mormons alike. Ask a Jehovah’s Witness. You will make their day.

  • In reality it was the first sectarian conflict Christians engaged in. One which was typified with genocide and erasing of an entire culture/belief.

  • You are right, these teachings are not the same. But those who say they are in agreement are not referring to the Council of Nicea or any other mystical, man-made definition of God.
    Sincere but uninspired councils like that of 325 A.D. are the reason the Book of Mormon and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were given to humanity by God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, and why the Holy Ghost verifies Their revelations to spiritually sensitive and seeking individuals.

  • My issue with Snow’s quote is that it’s always assumed we’re talking about God the Father (and thus God the Mother too). The quote only works when one says, “As man now is, Christ once was; as Christ now is, man may be.” And this is true as Christ was not a resurrected being until after the Resurrection (duh) and the Bible teaches us that we will stand at the right hand of the Father and have all that Christ has, through Christ (the Atonement). I fear that the misconstrued Adam-God theory has mucked up the waters. Young was clear in both his version of the temple drama and in the Journal of Discourses that Adam is the Holy Ghost. But, anti-Mormons teach that he meant Adam was God the Father, which doesn’t make any sense. Even Bruce R. McConkie pretended not to get it in his “Seven Deadly Heresies” talk.

  • True. And while there are some great differences between Mormon theological thinking and mainstream Christianity there are points of congruence as well, but not perhaps in the way many think. One book I thoroughly enjoyed is “Claiming Christ” by Robert Millet and Gerald McDermott — a Mormon and an Evangelical, both scholars discussing their mutual and differing beliefs.

  • I agree the church no longer wants to discuss that God was once a man. President Hinkley almost crawled under the table on a talk show on that one so he just lied for the lord instead. The brethren are too interested these days in acceptance and being mainstream. The church is in this place where we no longer have doctrine that truly sets us apart. I can see where other people of faith would say we are not Christian because of the differences in the God we worship. I think we need to clarify who God is before we get concerned about being accepted by others, Is God a perfected man and woman who are married? If so, we are not allowed to worship them. Is it the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost? We know nothing about the holy ghost? Is it a man with many wives? Is it the Father ,Son and Adam?

  • “The Mormon Jesus is not our Jesus,” he said. Land’s statement reveals that he doesn’t know Mormon theology very well.

    President Hinckley spoke of those outside the Church who say Latter-day
    Saints ‘do not believe in the traditional Christ.’ ‘No, I don’t. The
    traditional Christ of whom they speak is not the Christ of whom I speak.
    For the Christ of whom I speak has been revealed in this the
    Dispensation of the Fullness of Times.

    Looks like Land is saying what Hinckley said.

  • “confess the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ Who is God-in-human-flesh”

    Does this qualify?

    Mosiah 3:5-8 (https://www.lds.org/scriptures/bofm/mosiah/3.5?lang=eng#4)

    5 For behold, the time cometh, and is not far distant, that with power, the Lord Omnipotent who reigneth, who was, and is from all eternity to all eternity, shall come down from heaven among the children of men, and shall dwell in a tabernacle of clay, and shall go forth amongst men, working mighty miracles, such as healing the sick, raising the dead, causing the lame to walk, the blind to receive their sight, and the deaf to hear, and curing all manner of diseases.

    6 And he shall cast out devils, or the evil spirits which dwell in the hearts of the children of men.

    7 And lo, he shall suffer temptations, and pain of body, hunger, thirst, and fatigue, even more than man can suffer, except it be unto death; for behold, blood cometh from every pore, so great shall be his anguish for the wickedness and the abominations of his people.

    8 And he shall be called Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of heaven and earth, the Creator of all things from the beginning; and his mother shall be called Mary.

    or this

    D&C 110:2-4 (https://www.lds.org/scriptures/dc-testament/dc/110.2?lang=eng#1)

    2 We saw the Lord standing upon the breastwork of the pulpit, before us; and under his feet was a paved work of pure gold, in color like amber.

    3 His eyes were as a flame of fire; the hair of his head was white like the pure snow; his countenance shone above the brightness of the sun; and his voice was as the sound of the rushing of great waters, even the voice of Jehovah, saying:

    4 I am the first and the last; I am he who liveth, I am he who was slain; I am your advocate with the Father.

    Or this
    The Living Christ: THE TESTIMONY OF THE APOSTLES
    http://jesuschrist.lds.org/testimonies-of-him/articles/the-living-christ-the-testimony-of-the-apostles-of-the-church-of-jesus-christ-of-latter-day-saints?&lang=eng
    As we commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ two millennia ago, we offer our testimony of the reality of His matchless life and the infinite virtue of His great atoning sacrifice. None other has had so profound an influence upon all who have lived and will yet live upon the earth.

    He was the Great Jehovah of the Old Testament, the Messiah of the New. Under the direction of His Father, He was the creator of the earth. “All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:3). Though sinless, He was baptized to fulfill all righteousness. He “went about doing good” (Acts 10:38), yet was despised for it. His gospel was a message of peace and goodwill. He entreated all to follow His example. He walked the roads of Palestine, healing the sick, causing the blind to see, and raising the dead. He taught the truths of eternity, the reality of our premortal existence, the purpose of our life on earth, and the potential for the sons and daughters of God in the life to come.

    He instituted the sacrament as a reminder of His great atoning sacrifice. He was arrested and condemned on spurious charges, convicted to satisfy a mob, and sentenced to die on Calvary’s cross. He gave His life to atone for the sins of all mankind. His was a great vicarious gift in behalf of all who would ever live upon the earth.

  • We, as Mormons should certainly endeavor to cooperate with like-minded faiths whenever the purpose is to serve others, and function in a beneficial way toward our sisters and brothers.

    I would look with a bit more skeptical of an eye toward efforts to reconcile LDS doctrine with doctrine of other mainstream faiths. Even comparisons of dogma seem to serve a purpose of very limited scope. Beyond awareness and respect, I’ve never felt a need to work toward reconciliation.

  • Riess writes: “Hmmm. Last I checked, the Trinity was not defined as the belief that both God and Jesus are eternal.”

    Implicit in an evangelical definition of the Trinity is the eternality of the Son. Consider the Athanasian Creed: “The Father is eternal, the Son is eternal, the Holy Spirit is eternal. And yet there are not three eternal beings; there is but one eternal being. So too there are not three uncreated or immeasurable beings; there is but one uncreated and immesurable being.” Riess’s comments are unhelpful and, ironically, indicative of her misunderstanding of traditional, orthodox Trinitarianism.

  • Qwerty, I do not believe the couplet can be said to speak of Christ alone. After all, according to Eliza Snow-Smith, two weeks prior to Lorenzo’s conversion to Mormonism, Joseph Smith promised him, “You will become as great as you possibly wish–even as great as God, and you cannot wish to be greater.”
    See Eliza R. Snow Smith, “Biography and Family Record of Lorenzo Snow, (SLC: Deseret News, 1884), 10.

  • Again, we steroids inherit all that the Father has, through Christ. Thus we will be as God, Jesus; and we could not wish to be greater than the God that died for us on the cross. Doctrinally, we cannot state any more than this. Quoting LDS leaders in or out of context is irrelevant. We must look at all teachings through the Doctrine, which is the Scriptures.

  • Quoting LDS leaders in context is hardly irrelevant to the greater understanding of LDS doctrine. If you wish to remove all non-canonical teachings on eternal progression, opting instead to read only the four standard works, then the doctrine all but disappears. Where in the four standard works does eternal progression appear?

  • Well-stated discussion and conclusions, which is also why Mormons who voted for and supported Ted Cruz were foolish to do so. He is clearly of the mindset that Mormons are “fake” Christians. People who think that way are not fit to be President, and not just because of the Mormons. Judgmental “Christian” hypocrites are incapable of being the “President of all.”

  • Let’s be clear about the couplet, at least. Mormons may focus on the second line today, but they have not repudiated the first line. If that first line is still their belief (and it is), then even their “God” is not eternal. No being that has a beginning can be eternal. Nor is Mohler wrong about the definition of the Trinity. Just because the first sentence in the definition may refer to the three persons as co-equal, almost every definition I’ve seen sooner or later gets around to the eternality of the Son. The Athanasian Creed, for example, refers to the Son as “uncreated.” Eternal is not only implied, it is a necessary aspect of uncreated. As I understand it, that eliminates the Mormon idea of Jesus altogether. I’m afraid Mouw is suffering from Stockholm syndrome. He needs an intervention.

  • I wish Mormons would quit masquerading as Christians. They’re not. They’re great people and good friends, but they’re not Christians. Also, there is much more than the concept of God that divides Mormons from the Christian faith. I respect them but I’m knowledgeable and honest enough to say that our faiths are quite different.

    The Christian Jesus is not the Mormon Jesus. Just like the Muslim Jesus is not like the Christian Jesus.

  • I wish Trinitarians would stop masquerading as Christians. They’re not. They’re great people and good friends, but they’re not Christians.

    Arius was right.

  • “There are those who insist that The Holy Bible and the Book of Mormon are in agreement. If that is true, then are Mormons about to confess the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ Who is God-in-human-flesh?”

    “This was clarified in A.D. 325 by the Church Fathers meeting in a Council to deal with the heresy known as Arianism”

    Not even a Mormon, but as a former Arian, I am interested to know your thoughts on things. You clearly imply here that the Holy Bible agrees with the Council of Nicea.

    But no Trinitarian I have talked to can point to a good verse that shows the Holy Bible agrees with the Trinity theory. Care to point me to the correct verse?? Closest I’ve found was the verse in the writings of Paul where God tells Jesus that he will raise Jesus up to the status of a God. Though God also tells Moses the same thing in Exodus 7:1, so I don’t see it as proof of the Trinity theory.

  • So do I hold myself up to the 10 commandments? yes
    Do I accept Christ’s new covenant in the Sermon on the mount? yes
    Do I measure myself against Christ’s teachings? yes
    Is He Son of God and Son of man? yes
    Do I fast and pray to ask God to cast out my impurities? yes
    Am I fully dependent upon Christ’s atonement? yes
    Is my soul filled with gratitude and longing? yes
    Do I love truths I read from Luther, Catholicism, CS Lewis, Methodists and Baptists? yes
    Am I an imperfect but devout Mormon? yes
    I think it is foolish for all of us trying to follow Him not to work together to further His purposes.

  • Remember. God is not even a theory. Theories are shown to be true. God is not even a qualified hypothesis. Unless Robin Hood is too!

  • Why does the author want so badly to believe that Mormons are Christians even though they do not believe in the Trinity. Hmmmm

  • After reading a lot of the comments below I realize that most did not say the Athanasian Creed this past Holy Trinity Sunday.

  • Eastern Orthodox discussions of the doctrine of theosis are replete with quotations from early Christian fathers like Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyon, who said “God became man so that man may become God.” The whole narrative of Christ is about God becoming a man and living a mortal life in order to bridge the gap between mankind and God, and enable us to come into God’s presence, becoming like God through the power of God. I assume that every Protestant will affirm that Christ is fully God, and was also fully embodied, not only at birth but also through his resurrection. The Christ who is God ascended into heaven in his resurrected, embodied state, and promised to return to earth as the same person. If Christ’s body, which is the promise of the resurrection of mankind, is not a hindrance to his powers as God, then why would it be impossible for God the Father to also have a similar body? The idea that God has no “body, parts, or passions” is distinct from the doctrine that the three distinct persons are unified. Indeed, it is not at all clear how the unified God can be without a body or passions when Christ experienced the emotions of love and pain in and through his body, which he went to the trouble of taking up again. We Mormons think that our concept of God is closer to what the Bible explicitly teaches than the creeds that were created two hundred years later by committees, and which insist on contradictions within themselves.

  • It’s doesn’t help, as they are not adding anything of value. We should demote women, blacks, homosexuals, etc? That’s not in the doctrine yet the LDS branch of Mormonism has been pushing these ideas without new scripture to back up the anti-Mormon rederict. Where’s the value add?

  • According to the doctrine we can’t speculate beyond what I’ve stated. Anything more is simply not doctrine, and thus irrelevant.

  • Please tell me chapter and verse and which epistle Paul says God will raise Jesus up to the status of a god. Thank you.

    Realizing that some are never satisfied, then I will attempt to answer your question to your satisfaction.

  • Mr. Swenson, you state:

    “We Mormons think that our concept of God is closer to what the Bible explicitly teaches than the creeds that were created two hundred years later by committees, and which insist on contradictions within themselves.”

    I have often seen you repeat this same (mis)understanding of the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. Rather than repeating the same, worn and oversimplified apologetic tracts, I admonish you to actually spend some time reading what the councils themselves had to say, and to familiarize yourself with the history that led to the affirmation of God as three distinct, unique persons sharing a single, divine essence. What you are attacking is not the Holy Trinity as affirmed in the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed, but a misunderstanding of that affirmation that resulted from the Augustinian school of thought. I would be happy to discuss this issue with you if you wish.

  • The Father differs from the Holy Spirit in that He is ontologically prior to the Holy Spirit, or is the source of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit differs from the Father in that He depends on the Father for His existence. They are further distinct in the roles they fulfill. The Holy Spirit is the messenger of God and the Giver of Life. The Father is the source and the monarchical head of the Trinity, though in His love he makes the Holy Spirit and the Son His equals. As for why there are three rather than two, the answer is pretty simple (according to Christian belief): because that is the way it is. Some have argued that it is necessary that there be exactly three, no more and no less, but I don’t find this argument convincing.

  • Do you want a demonstration that shows that the Trinitarian belief is compatible with the Bible, or are you looking for proof that the Bible demonstrates the Trinity? The former is easy to demonstrate, whereas the latter is open to debate.

  • The intrinsic value of all human beings is explicit throughout the Bible and, consequently, Mormonism. From human beings created in God’s image and likeness (Gen 1:26) to the equality of all humanity in terms of their ability to become justified before God through faith in Christ (Gal 3:28) to the picture of heaven as a multi-ethnic, -racial, -gender, -tribal community of the redeemed (Rev 7:9), the Bible is quite clear on the matter — all human beings are intrinsically valuable. What is unclear in the Bible–and in all of the other three standard works of Mormonism for that matter–is the idea of eternal progression. Simply because the four standard works so not teach exhalation, does that mean it does not exist within Mormonism?

  • First: John 14:6
    Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

    Acts 4:12
    There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to people, and we must be saved by it.

    Revelation 21:-8
    Then the One seated on the throne said, “Look! I am making everything new.” He also said, “Write, because these words are faithful and true.” And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give water as a gift to the thirsty from the spring of life. The victor will inherit these things, and I will be his God, and he will be My son. But the cowards, unbelievers, vile, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars — their share will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.

    Just as Adam, Eve, Abraham, Isaac, Joseph, Moses, Joshua all the old testament Prophets, the Disciples and everyone else who has been RADICALLY CHANGED BY GOD…..
    Ephesians 2:8-9….
    For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift — not from works, so that no one can boast. For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them.

    I hope this helps.
    Thanks for asking and have a wonderful Memorial Day!

  • This article and discussion seems like so much straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel..ignoring the weightier matters.
    The Mormon ELEPHANT doctrine IN THE ROOM is that if Christ restored His Church and apostolic authority, if His Apostles (to the world) speak instruct/correct/command, if those apostles are the expression of God’s love to us: then, each lone pilgrim, working out his salvation with fear and trembling, owes it to God to listen and ask God if they are His apostles. Mormons believe that Thomas Monson, Dieter Uchtdorf, and,Jeffrey Holland are as Peter, John and Paul.
    You believe the Bible because the Spirit touched you. Latter-day Saints believe if you listen, read, and pray the Spirit will touch you again.
    Those are the hard doctrines.
    The question of the Trinity is minor compared to Catholicx2/Lutheran/Calvin/Anabaptist/Baptist/Methodist/Anglican/Unitarian/Presbyterian doctrinal conflicts.

  • Traditional Christianity’s Jesus is incomplete because He does not have a Resurrected, Perfected, Glorified Body. The LDS Church has made Him whole again.
    Also, traditional Christianity has gotten the centralized leadership of Christ’s church all confused. The Pope came along to Rome about three hundred years after Jesus, the apostles had been killed off and not replaced.

  • Again, Mormons are NOT Christians. You don’t believe in Jesus. You don’t believe in the Trinity.

    Please stop confusing people and leading people to Hell.

  • Does the traditional Christian Jesus have a body, Glorified and Perfected? That is what is known as the Resurrection. Traditional Christianity is full of holes. There is no “Mormon Jesus”, but one Jesus of Nazareth, Saviour and King. That is who Latter-day Saints and real Christians worship.

  • You will not go to Hell for a misunderstanding for the true nature of Jesus, if you love Him and follow His commandments, including proper baptism in His name. We can agree to disagree now but in the afterlife we should be close to the same page. I am a Latter-day Saint Mormon Christian and I love that the Gospel of the Redeemer allows us the grace to be saved by His sacrifice, despite our trials and weeknesses.
    PS: Catholics are Christians even though I disagree with certain Roman Apostolic doctrines and practices.

  • Do you know what priesthood of God Jesus acted under and are forever His and our Father’s to have the authority to do His work?
    They are the Aaronic and Melchizedek, and God has an order and plan to save His people. Always has. God is not a god of disorder.
    Continue to read and pray and you will know.

  • Seraphim: so you agree that Jesus and God the Father have glorified physical bodies, unlike the declarations of the Councils of Nicea?
    I hope so. The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is real and a free gift to all! He is Wonderful.

  • I sincerely feel sorry for you Ed. You have bought into the good works gospel of a cult that promises if you are good enough you too can be a god of your own world. Yes, people outside the Mormon Organization do know the teachings.

    As a Christian I know that I cannot do anything for God or anything for my salvation … it’s all a gift of God. God does everything for me.

    Good works do not save me, they are only an outward expression of my faith and love for God.

  • Where does the Bible say that God the Father has a glorified physical body?

    Furthermore, where do the declarations of the Nicene Council say anything about whether or not God the Father has a physical body?

  • If you don’t have the guts to accuse someone of lying then you shouldnt be trying it. If you want to claim I am incorrect, please rebut with your own facts. You want to be lazy, keep doing what you are doing.

  • In Hebrews, for one, Paul implies that God and Jesus are separate, hence “bodies” plural. Jesus also said,”If you have seen me, you have seen the Father.” Joseph Smith asserted they looked practically identical, the Son standing to the right of God the Father.
    I am by no means an apologist or great interpteter of the Athenasian Creed, but interpret it as confusing and misleading as to the true nature of the Trinity.
    I feel like if traditional Christians would really understand the doctrines of the New Testament it would be much more likely they would recognize the Church of Jesus Christ.

  • I just said we are saved by the grace of Christ, which is the doctrine of His Church. Don’t feel sorry for me: just follow the Lord’s commands, follow His Spirit, and repent of your sins.
    Christ has blessed me tremendously and I have continuef faith that he will bless all those who seek Him and repent in His name.
    In this life or the next, may we all be blessed to know that.
    The cult of the Son of God is true Christianity, and I hope to be proven guilty of its membersip. Nothing better.
    Thanks for your kind thoughts. Go forth and praise His name!

  • I am a former Mormon, born and raised, went through the temple, etc. I even received an MA in history under the top Mormon scholars in the world. I converted to Eastern Orthodox Christianity. I would be careful when assuming what one will and will not conclude from seeking to understand the New Testament. Several of my friends, both of whom served LDS missions and married in the temple (one even taught Institute) are converts to Eastern Orthodoxy. Why did that happen? They sought to understand the doctrines of the New Testament.

    You state that Hebrews implies that Jesus and the Father are distinct. Great. No Trinitarian denies that they are distinct persons. What Hebrews does not say is that they are completely separate, independent entities, each with physical bodies. In fact, the New Testament implies that they are not separate, but are intimately united in a way that physical separation would make impossible (see John 14:7-11 below). You make an unjustified leap in logic by concluding that distinction equals physical division.

    If one understands the general intent of the verses in question, one can see that, rather than highlighting the distinction between the Father and the Son, they are emphasizing their unity. Here is what John 14: 7-11 states:

    7 If you had known me, you would have known my Father also; henceforth you know him and have seen him.” 8 Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and we shall be satisfied.” 9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you do not know me, Philip? He who has seen me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father in me; or else believe me for the sake of the works themselves.

    If one concludes from these verses that Jesus is talking about physical likeness here they are engaging in a very superficial reading, and one that contradicts the passage as a whole. Jesus is conveying to His apostles that He and the Father are united in will, mission, and purpose, and beyond that, they are within one another! This is evident from verses 10 and 11. When one “sees” Jesus, they are not seeing the Father in a physical sense, otherwise this verse would be conveying unitarianism, the belief that the Father and the Son are the same person. After saying the those who see Christ see the Father, Jesus immediately declares that the Father dwells in Him and He dwells in the Father. How does this make sense if they are physical beings? Despite your objections, these verses seem much more complementary to Trinitarian belief than they are to Mormon views of the godhead.

    I recommend that, rather than interpreting these verses with your 21st century understanding, you seek to understand how Greeks and Jews living in Antiquity understood these passages. Keep in mind that Christians aren’t the only ones who interpret sayings such as “… at the right hand of the Father” metaphorically. Jews and Muslims do as well, not because they were all corrupted by Hellenism, but because they understand the use of metaphor in the Hebrew written tradition.

    The Athanasian Creed isn’t a dogmatic creed, at least not for Eastern Orthodox Christians. The Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed is our most important.

    God bless you, Ed Dado Klinche.

  • Well explained, thanks. In Hebrews Paul says ” …his Son… sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.”
    Traditional Jews, Christians, and Muslims believe in a disembodied God. Latter-day Saints are certainly different. He is physically real. Part of the purpose of the Resurrection. To have an eternal body.
    So when it comes to centralized authority of Christ’s Church, what of the 12 apostles?
    Why all the talk of the priesthoods by those names, like in Hebrews?
    All Christians are pointed in the right direction, but I do believe an apostasy took place and a Restoration is in order.
    Thanks for the clarification between Nicea and Athenasia; I can only really claim to know and believe what I practice and believe.
    However, I do like to understand and investigate other faiths and traditions.
    From what I know Orthodox priests have wives and families, which is great.

  • Correct, this is when the Catholic Church was born. We lost the original church and most of its offspring for the first megachurch.

  • Most Mormons, including myself would say no. Christ is co-eternal with God the Father (and God the Mother). He started as intelligence, was “born” a sprint as YWYH (the main God of the Old Testament), born in the flesh with the Holy Spirit as his father and Mary as his mother, died for us on the Cross, then rose to inherit all that the Father had on the 3rd day. So he is not a creation.

  • Christ is Begotten, not made–He was not born; to imply “born” is to teach Christ is a creature; doing so is heresy. There is nothing in either the Old or New Testaments that teaches about a mother god. If the Son and the Father are One (and they are), then Christ always had all that the Father had.

  • Actually you are wrong. If you read the original text you find the traces of Heavenly Mother that have been removed. You are also correct about Christ. The Book of Mormon makes it clear that Christ is the only begotten of the Father. No one knows what this means, but it is true.

  • When I read the Old Testament and the New Testament in Greek, I find nothing about a heavenly mother. The idea of a heavenly mother is not found, either, in the Hebrew Old Testament. Therefore, something had to have been added to the Old and/or New Testament about such a phenomenon, and we call such actions to be heretical.

  • What language are you reading them in? Even in English she is mentioned, and we are told by the Lord’s prophet mentioning her that we are not to worship her.

  • The Mormons do not see Jesus as eternal. Mormons say Jesus was conceived by the Father and his Wife – in heaven and pre-existed, and then was brought into bodily form at his physical birth. This is not in scripture, and is not the Christian Jesus at all. Jesus is the Alpha and Omega, “the beginning and the end”. This is idiomatic speech for Jesus had “no beginning and has no end”. The Mormon Jesus had a “finite beginning”. Jesus is a “little” god, one in purpose with the Father, but not one in “substance”. But then again the Angels are one in purpose with the Father too. Mormons need to make some real moves Biblically towards Biblical Christianity to be accepted as such. The Father, Jesus & the Spirit are “persons”, and identified as such in scripture. Individual and distinct, yet still one in substance and are eternal from the Past as well as the future. The Mormons do not have an eternal past Jesus, and this makes Jesus a created being – and not God, at all, and would make the atonement an insufficient offering. Jesus would just be an ADAM type that didn’t fall or fail – Just a perfect human – not divine.

  • Jesus had a body because he was born of woman. Are you saying that God the Father was born of woman, and was pre-existent and spiritually conceived by his Father for another cosmos? This is a reductionist thought and is senseless. The cosmological argument for God is useless, and you would have then “Eternal God’s”.

  • Mormons have Jesus preexisting, therefore, having a Mother in heaven before Mary. Mormons have Jesus having two Mothers, one Mother in heaven that gave birth to him spiritually, then a physical Mother (Mary) from earth. This is NOT biblical nor Christian doctrine.

  • I have been an LDS/Mormon for over forty years, and I do not know what you are referencing when you make your claims, but we believe Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Alpha and Omega, to be Eternal. He is, as it says in the Gospel of John, the Only Begotten of the Father. Heavenly Father is Eternal.
    Also, in difference with traditional Christianity, we believe that all of us children of God on Earth are eternal as well.
    I do not fully comprehend how Jesus was born of Mary, being who He is, but I believe it happened. And he suffered for all our sins and saved us through His grace, the Atonement. He died on the cross and then was Resurrected, becoming like Our Father, and leading the way to all of our resurrections.
    So, we are all eternal! However, only those allowed by God through His Son’s grace will live Him forever, which we call eternal life.
    Those who don’t want to don’t have to live with God.
    Those who love Jesus and repent will.

  • There are two kinds of eternal. There is eternal past, that Mormans do not believe Jesus had because they say he had a beginning. Mormans will teach that Jesus has a “finite past” and but has an eternal future – but that is no different than anyone else.

    You must not have read what I said well enough if you have been a Morman for those many years. How can Jesus be born in heaven? By what means? Everything’s Mormans teach has a logical consequence.

    First Born of Chreation is Jesus birth right – this deals with his place in redemption and inherits all things. Please understand Old Covenant first Born birth rights! Not that Father God and his wife had sex and popped out spirit Jesus in heaven LOL

    Jesus is eternal past “alpha” means Jesus had NO beginning – he is the beginning. You are not understanding the original language. If you think Apha means beginning then Omaga for you would imply he will also end. I hope you are following this. This is common sense.

  • Any references to God the Father is that He has always been. It is hard to fully comprehend what forever or eternal really means, me having a finite and limited mind. But I believe God is eternal , and He wants us, His children, to live again with Him.

  • All of us are eternal. Jesus is the foremost of us spirit children of God. Hard to understand but that is what true doctrine boils down to. I have a finite mind but God and Christ and us are spiritually without beginning or end, however that works.
    Gotta have faith in Jesus and His plan.
    It’s spelled Mormon with an “o” special witness and prophet of the Saviour.

  • Actually, God told Moses that he was/is I AM. Jesus told a crowd that he was I AM. Therefore Jesus existed before he was born in the flesh.

  • Mormons like me are Christians. Regarding the Trinity, while we understand that belief is sacred to you, and we respect you beliefs, we have read the bible, and we believe it, and the bible does not teach the doctrine of the trinity. Happy to discuss…

ADVERTISEMENTs