Jesus Christ/Creator

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Jesus Christ as creator and savior of this world

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Question: Do Mormons believe that God is limited to ruling over this planet?

LDS scriptures affirm that God the Father created and rules the universe through Jesus Christ

It is claimed that the Latter-day Saint view of God is provincial or limited, with God simply being a ruler over "this planet." [1]

LDS theology sees the Father, Son and Holy Ghost united in perfect love and agreement, creating and ruling over "worlds without number." There is no effort to 'limit' them to a small sphere of influence.

LDS scriptures

LDS scriptures affirm that God the Father created and rules the universe through Jesus Christ. For example: D&C 45:1; D&C 76:24; Moses 1:33; Moses 2:1).

LDS leaders

The Latter-day Saint view of God is in no way provincial. This can be demonstrated by the frequency with which LDS apostles and leaders refer to Jesus as "Lord of the Universe," or a similar title.

Elder John Taylor (1853)

Who have we for our ruling power? Where and how did he obtain his authority? Or how did any in this Church and kingdom obtain it? It was first obtained by a revelation from the Lord of the Universe, by the opening of the heavens, by the voice of God, and by the ministering of holy angels.[2]

Brigham Young (1862)

We may read the history of the life of Christ, admire his moral and religious teachings, be impressed with awe by the description of the character and works of the Father and God of the universe, be made acquainted with the means be has devised to prepare mankind to enter his presence, but it is necessary that we should follow Christ, put, into actual practice the lessons of Christ, and obey the ordinances of Christ, to know for ourselves the saving effects they produce in mankind. A mere theory amounts to but little, while practice and obedience have to do with stern realities. In this way the ancients obtained a knowledge of the true God. "And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true; and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.(italics added)"[3]

Brigham Young (1870)

But the fact exists that the Father, the Divine Father, whom we serve, the God of the Universe, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Father of our spirits, provided this sacrifice and sent his Son to die for us; and it is also a great fact that the Son came to do the will of the Father, and that he has paid the debt, in fulfilment of the Scripture which says, "He was the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world." Is it so on any other earth? On every earth. How many earths are there? I observed this morning that you may take the particles of matter composing this earth, and if they could be enumerated they would only be a beginning to the number of the creations of God; and they are continually coming into existence, and undergoing changes and passing through the same experience that we are passing through....(italics added) [4]

Elder John L. Herrick (1910)

Since the discovery of this great country, when Columbus, with those who were with him; bowed down on his knees and kissed the earth, and thanked the God of the universe for having guided and directed them to this land,--coming down through history to the great patriot and father of the country, George Washington, as well as Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and all the great men, in fact, who had anything to do in the framing of the destinies of this new country, were men who acknowledged a living God.[5]

Elder Stephen L Richards (1931)

I prize my knowledge of the very Lord of the universe....[6]

Elder Matthew Cowley (1946)

The perverted use of man's free agency, arising as it does from a false sense of values, has brought down upon all earthly kingdoms, with crushing impact, the fears and frustrations which now beset them. The God of the universe, who "ordereth all things well," did not design, neither did he desire, that the destiny of man should be so fearful and awesome.[7]

Elder Stephen L. Richards (1947)

Where is the justification for discrimination against the other laws exacting worship and obedience to the God of the universe and proscribing idolatry, blasphemy, and desecration of the Lord's holy day?[8]

President Stephen L Richards (1952)

Here is a choir which, through the generations, has seen purpose in its work, which has striven steadfastly to advance a great cause, which has made art serve its Author, the Lord of the universe. God bless our Tabernacle Choir, from the beginning through the generations, as an emissary of art and truth in the earth.[9]

Elder Gordon B. Hinckley (1961}

...we have a duty from which none of us can shrink -- to declare to the world the living reality of the God of the universe, the Father of us all; and of his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world, our Redeemer, the Author of our salvation the Prince of Peace.[10]

President Marion G. Romney (1968)

Jesus Christ, in the sense of being its Creator and Redeemer, is the Lord of the whole universe. Except for his mortal ministry accomplished on this earth, his service and relationship to other worlds and their inhabitants are the same as his service and relationship to this earth and its inhabitants. … Implicit in the scriptures is the fact that the surest, if not the only, way to understand Jesus the Lord of the universe is to obtain an understanding of his relationship to this world and its inhabitants. … I bear my own witness that these great testimonies to the fact that Jesus Christ is the Lord of the universe are true, that he is also our Savior, and that the gospel of Jesus Christ is universal—the only plan by which men ever have been or ever can be exalted.”[11]

President Boyd K. Packer (1995)

If you are reverent and prayerful and obedient, the day will come when there will be revealed to you why the God of heaven has commanded us to address him as Father, and the Lord of the Universe as Son. Then you will have discovered the Pearl of Great Price spoken of in the scriptures and willingly go and sell all that you have that you might obtain it.[12]

Elder Neal A. Maxwell (1997)

Bearer of the only salvational name, yet the Lord of the Universe lived modestly as a person “of no reputation."[13]

Elder Neal A. Maxwell (2000)

Ponder how Jesus was and is the Lord of the universe (see DC 45:1; DC 76:24; Moses 1:33; Moses 2:1). Yet His ministry, as we all know, was accomplished in a very tiny geographical space. His ministerial travels were very limited. Yet therein the Savior accomplished the Atonement for all of mankind! There were certainly much more prominent hills than Golgotha and much more resplendent gardens than Gethsemane. No matter; these were sufficient to host the central act of all human history![14]

Elder Neal A. Maxwell (2003)

Therefore, we as Latter-day Saints cannot regard Jesus, as some do, as merely a “great moral teacher,” though He was the greatest, or even as a “minor prophet.” He is the Lord of the universe, as well as our Redeemer![15]

Elder Neal A. Maxwell (2004)

Jesus also exemplifies meekness and humility. Though ever supernal in His achievements, Christ always, always gave the glory to the Father whether in the first, second, or now in the third estate. He was and is Lord of the universe, who under the direction of the Father created “worlds without number” (Moses 1:33). Yet He was willingly known as Jesus of Nazareth, the carpenter’s son. He always knew who He was! He meekly partook of history’s most bitter cup without becoming bitter.[16]

Bishop Keith B. McMullin (2005)

</blockquote> The more we cleave unto righteousness, the more we enjoy the protecting care of our Savior. He is the Creator and Lord of the universe. He will calm the winds and the waves. His teachings and Atonement will heal the repentant soul. He is the Messiah or Deliverer, and because of Him, each of us can be in charge of his or her personal world, even as tragedies beset us.[17] </blockquote>


Question: Is Jesus Christ the savior of other worlds?

Very little has been revealed on this subject

The closest we have to an authoritative statement is an inference from Doctrine and Covenants 76:

For we saw him [Jesus Christ], even on the right hand of God; and we heard [a] voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father — that by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God. (verses 23–24.)

The generally accepted interpretation of this verse is that if Jesus is the creator of many worlds, and the inhabitants of these worlds are children of the Father (both by birth and by covenant), then Jesus must be their Savior. This is probably the understanding of the majority of Latter-day Saints.

This interpretation is strengthened by a poetic version of section 76 (probably written by WW Phelps, but with input from Joseph) in which the vision is restated:

And I give a great voice bearing record from heav'n,

He's the Savior and only begotten of God;

By him, of him, and through him, the worlds were all made,

Even all that career in the heavens so broad.


Whose inhabitants, too, from the first to the last.

Are sav'd by the very same Saviour of ours;

And, of course, are begotten God's daughters and sons

By the very same truths and the very same powers. [18]

Joseph Fielding Smith speculated that Jesus Christ might be the savior of other worlds

Joseph Fielding Smith said "Perhaps this is the reason Jesus Christ was sent here instead of some other world, for in some other world they would not have crucified Him, and His presence was needed here because of the extreme wickedness of the inhabitants of this earth" (The Signs of the Times, pg. 5)

Brigham Young, on the other hand, taught that each world had its own Adam and Eve, and its own savior

Brigham Young gave a sermon in General Conference on 8 October 1854 in which he espoused a different view:

Let me open the eyes of your understanding. There has never been a time when the creations of worlds commenced. They are from eternity to eternity in their creations and redemption. After they are organized they experience the good and the evil, the light and the dark, the bitter and the sweet as you and I do. There never was a time when there were not worlds in existence as this world is, and they pass through similar changes in abiding their creation preparatory to exaltation. Worlds have always been in progress, and eternally will be.

Every world has had an Adam and an Eve, named so simply because the first man is always called Adam and the first woman, Eve. And the oldest son has always had the privilege of being ordained, appointed and called to be the heir of the family if he does not rebel against the Father, and he is the Savior of the family. Every world that has been created has been created upon the same principle. They may vary in their varieties, yet the eternity is one: it is one eternal round. [19]

This statement is probably where our critics are getting the idea we believe in a different savior for each world. However, Brigham's statement doesn't settle the question. In the early Utah period, there was a great deal of exploration from the pulpit of the limits of LDS belief, but these sermons were not considered final or authoritative. Such ideas play little, if any, part in present-day LDS teaching or discussion.


Question: Do Mormons believe that the "Jesus of Mormonism is but one of many saviors"?

Such a belief is not taught and is not a doctrine of the Church

Some Christians claim that the "Jesus of Mormonism is but one of many saviors." [20]

Those making this claim cite Brigham Young to support this assertion:

Such a belief is not taught and is not a doctrine of the Church


Notes

  1. Richard Abanes, One Nation Under Gods: A History of the Mormon Church (New York: Four Walls Eight Windows, 2003), 286 ( Index of claims ); Watchman Fellowship, The Watchman Expositor (Page 2)
  2. John Taylor, Journal of Discourses 1:229.
  3. Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 9:329-330.
  4. Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 14:71.
  5. John L. Herrick, Conference Report (April 1910), 63.
  6. Stephen L Richards, Conference Report (April 1831), 21.
  7. Matthew Cowley, Conference Report (October 1946), 103.
  8. Stephen L Richards, Conference Report (October 1947), 133.
  9. Stephen L Richards, Conference Report (April 1952), 44-45.
  10. Gordon B. Hinckley, Conference Report (October 1961), 116.
  11. Marion G. Romney, "Jesus Christ, Lord of the Universe," Improvement Era (November 1968), 46-49.
  12. Boyd K. Packer, "The Shield of Faith," Ensign (May 1995), 7.
  13. Neal A. Maxwell, ""Apply the Atoning Blood of Christ"," Ensign (November 1997), 22.
  14. Neal A. Maxwell, "Content with the Things Allotted unto Us," Ensign (May 2000), 72.
  15. Neal A. Maxwell, "The Wondrous Restoration," Ensign (Apr 2003), 30.
  16. Neal A. Maxwell, "The Precious Promise," Ensign (Apr 2004), 42.
  17. Keith B. McMullin, "Be Prepared … Be Ye Strong from Henceforth," Ensign (Nov 2005), 5.
  18. Joseph Smith, Times and Seasons 4 no. 6 (1 February 1843), 83, stanzas 19-20; emphasis added. off-site GospeLink (requires subscrip.) direct off-site. Michael Hicks argued that Joseph was not the author of the poetic paraphrase in "Joseph Smith, W. W. Phelps, and the Poetic Paraphrase of 'The Vision'," Journal of Mormon History 20/2 (1994): 63–84.
  19. Brigham Young, "For This Is Life Eternal," in Eldon Watson (editor), Brigham Young Addresses (1982), 2:230. Brigham Young made similar statements on other occasions; for example: "There is no time when worlds have not been created and exalted; there have always been an Adam and an Eve—the first man and woman, and their oldest son is heir, and should be our Savior. We have one Father and we all are brethren." Journal of the Southern Indian Mission—Diary of Thomas D. Brown, p. 87–89; Friday, 6th Octr. 1854. "President Young said there never was any world created & peopled nor never would be but what would be redeemed by the shedding of the blood of the savior of that world." Journal of Wilford Woodruff; Ms/f/115, Church Historical Department; 12 May 1867. "All worlds have their God, their Savior, their sin, their priesthood, and can choose which they like, but beginning man rejected the priesthood by assuming to be a law unto himself—all other things abide this law." Minutes of Meetings Held in Provo City; Film/979.2/Z99/v. 2, BYU Microfilm Room; Sunday, 2 p.m. 3 October 1869.
  20. Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson, Mormonism 101. Examining the Religion of the Latter-day Saints (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 2000), 48. ( Index of claims )