Criticism of Mormonism/Books/Mormonism 101/Chapter 2

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Response to claims made in "Chapter 2: Jesus"

A FairMormon Analysis of: Mormonism 101, a work by author: Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson

Response to claims made in Mormonism 101, "Chapter 2: Jesus"

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Response to claim: 40 - The authors repeat the common claim that, because Latter-day Saints differ in understanding the traits of the Lord Jesus Christ, they worship "a different Jesus"

The author(s) of Mormonism 101 make(s) the following claim:

*The authors repeat the common claim that, because Latter-day Saints differ in understanding the traits of the Lord Jesus Christ, they worship "a different Jesus." The authors quote Elder Bruce R. McConkie to lend an authoritative air to their interpretation of what the LDS position is on the matter:

And virtually all the millions of apostate Christendom have abased themselves before the mythical throne of a mythical Christ.

(Author's sources: *Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 269.)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda and/or spin - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

Simply put, just because one group has differing opinions about the traits of a Person than another group, it does not follow that those groups are describing different people. Leaving aside the fact that it is not the anti-Mormons who determine what official LDS theology is, several problems remain with this appeal to authority:
  1. The President of the Church, not any one Apostle, determines official LDS theology.
  2. Newly formed official LDS doctrine is put forth by the President of the Church in an official statement countersigned either by his counselors or all members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, or both. No one man posits new doctrine alone.
  3. Although Elder McConkie is much respected as an Apostle of the Lord by the Latter-day Saints, he did not become an Apostle until 1972,[1] fourteen years after the first edition of his book, Mormon Doctrine was published.
  4. Elder McConkie made it clear that he was not speaking ex officio.[2]:5



Response to claim: 41 - "We cannot imagine, for instance, a Baptist telling a Lutheran, 'Our Jesus is basically the one Lutherans worship.' A Presbyterian would not tell a Methodist that he does not believe in the traditional Christ"

The author(s) of Mormonism 101 make(s) the following claim:

The authors' rationale for declaring that Latter-day Saints follow another Christ is bizarre:

"We cannot imagine, for instance, a Baptist telling a Lutheran, 'Our Jesus is basically the one Lutherans worship.' A Presbyterian would not tell a Methodist that he does not believe in the traditional Christ. Nor can we imagine a member from the Assemblies of God telling a Wesleyan that the Christ of the Wesleyan Church is mythical."

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda and/or spin - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

Yet Evangelical anti-Mormons apparently have no problems telling Latter-day Saints that since they do not believe in Christ as defined in the Nicene and other creeds, they are not Christian.



Question: Do Mormons worship a "different Jesus"?

LDS Christians and other Christians agree on the vast majority of points on Jesus' nature, mission, and indispensable role in salvation

Some Christians claim that despite the Saints' witness of Christ, they worship "a different Jesus" and so are not entitled to consider themselves "Christians." Rather than illuminating LDS Christians' or non-LDS Christians' beliefs about Jesus, this accusation is simply an attempt to spread discord and confusion.

LDS Christians and other Christians agree on the vast majority of points on Jesus' nature, mission, and indispensable role in salvation.

The LDS differ from other Christians only in that they tend to believe additional things about Jesus

The LDS differ from other Christians only in that they tend to believe additional things about Jesus, since they have other scriptures (such as the Book of Mormon) which provide them with further information. This information complements the Biblical beliefs which they share with the whole Christian world.

The most important recent document to discuss the beliefs of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints regarding our Lord and Savior is found in "The Living Christ: The Testimony of the Apostles." [3]

Latter-day Saints believe the following:

A protester at the April 2003 LDS General Conference attempts to convince others that members of the Church do not believe in the Biblical Jesus.  Members of the Church may believe some different things about Jesus, but this does not mean they worship a different being than the protester.
  • Jesus is the Christ, the promised Messiah
  • Jesus of Nazareth is the Only Begotten Son of the Father
  • Jesus was born of a virgin birth to Mary
  • Jesus is perfect, without sin
  • Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father, but by Him
  • Jesus performed miracles. He:
    • healed the sick
    • opened eyes of the blind
    • opened ears of the deaf
    • forgave sins
    • cast out demons and evil spirits
    • changed water into wine
    • multiplied loaves and fishes
    • raised the dead
  • Jesus was foreshadowed by, and fulfilled, the law of Moses
  • Jesus suffered and died for the sins of all humanity
  • Jesus was crucified under Pontius Pilate, died, was buried, and rose again
  • Jesus appeared in resurrected form to Mary, Thomas, the apostles, five hundred brethren at once
  • Jesus ascended to the Father to sit down on the right hand of His power
  • Jesus converted Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus
  • Jesus will come again to reign in glory with all the faithful

To be sure, there are doctrinal differences between some Christians and the Latter-day Saints. But, this is true of virtually all Christians:

Christians have argued, often passionately, over every conceivable point of Christian doctrine from the filioque to the immaculate conception. There is scarcely an issue of worship, theology, ethics, and politics over which some Christians have not disagreed among themselves. [4]

Latter-day Saints have no quarrel with the idea that some of their beliefs about Jesus may differ from those of other Christians

Latter-day Saints have no quarrel with the idea that some of their beliefs about Jesus may differ from those of other Christians. If there were no differences in belief at all, it would make little sense to have the hundreds of Christian denominations which exist.

But, it is insulting and unfair to insist that the LDS do not worship the "same" Jesus as other Christians. By analogy, a Protestant might consider Martin Luther an inspired instrument in the hands of God to reform the wayward Christian Church. A Catholic might rather consider Luther to be a wayward priest who was gravely mistaken. Clearly, the opinions about Luther may differ, but it would be absurd to insist that Catholics and Lutherans are each talking about a different Luther.


Response to claim: 41 - "Proper belief in the person of Jesus Christ has always been considered essential to Christian fellowship"

The author(s) of Mormonism 101 make(s) the following claim:

*The authors correctly state that "[p]roper belief in the person of Jesus Christ has always been considered essential to Christian fellowship."

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information - The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event

Unfortunately, the authors leave unsaid who is the one to determine what is "proper," and how much deviation is permissible. After all, Latter-day Saints fully believe that Jesus is the Son of God, and God in the flesh, just as much as Evangelical Christians do.[5] One must question, though, what the authors think about all the Christians who lived prior to the Council of Nicea. Are the authors willing to dismiss them as non-Christian? Or are they somehow "excused" under an ex post facto rule? They do not say.

If pre-Nicene Christians are somehow "excused," these question remains unanswered: "By what authority do the members of the Council of Nicea impose their "private interpretation" (See Peter 1:20) as official Christian doctrine? And by what authority do they excuse pre-Nicene Christians?



Response to claim: 42 - "the Mormon Jesus, by becoming a god without having to live a human life on a previous planet, did something that his own 'father' could not accomplish"

The author(s) of Mormonism 101 make(s) the following claim:

The authors endeavor to interpret what Latter-day Saints say to other Latter-day Saints, quoting Bruce R. McConkie, then telling us what he "really" means:

He [Jesus] is the Firstborn of the Father. By obedience and devotion to the truth he attained that pinnacle of intelligence which ranked him as a God, as the Lord Omnipotent, while yet in his pre-existent state… Inasmuch, however, as Christ attained Godhood while yet in pre-existence, he too stood as a God to the Other Spirits.

In essence, the Mormon Jesus, by becoming a god without having to live a human life on a previous planet, did something that his own "father" could not accomplish.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

The authors superimpose their assumptions onto LDS doctrine and commentary. There is no statement by any LDS authority stating that God the Father could not have been God without having lived in mortality. Ignoring the fact that their "interpretation" of Elder McConkie's "essence" has nothing to do with what Elder McConkie actually said, by so inferring that Latter-day Saints are too stupid to know what they believe (or what other Latter-day Saints are saying), the authors grossly insult the intelligence of Latter-day Saints. Further, they, like other critics, claim that only they can properly interpret and explain what Latter-day Saints believe.



Question: How did Christ achieve deification before mortality?

It was necessary that at some point Jesus receive a body, but the specific time in which He did so is not particularly important

It is claimed that Latter-day Saint doctrine, which teaches that a physical body is necessary for a fulness of glory, is inconsistent, since Jesus was God prior to his mortal birth. However, having a body is necessary for a fullness of joy (DC 93:33). The Holy Ghost is also God, but does not at present have a body in LDS doctrine.

It was necessary that at some point Jesus receive a body, but the specific time in which He did so is not particularly important. (To travel overseas, one needs both a passport and an airplane ticket. It doesn't matter in which order one gets the passport or the ticket, but one must eventually have both in order to reach one's destination.)

If a specific sequence is an absolutely requirement, then all Christians would need to explain how Christ's atonement could be efficacious to those who were born, lived, and died prior to His crucifixion. The fact that the atonement was effective should caution us against adopting an absolute requirement for sequence concerning Christ's receipt of a physical body.

Critics ignore that the gospel teaches us what we must do to fulfill God's commandments and purposes. It does not spend much time telling us what Jesus was required to do—clearly, he had many duties and abilities which far outstripped ours. That is why he was God and Savior before we came to this earth, and why we must rely upon his grace for salvation.


Response to claim: 42 - "How could Jesus obtain godhood in the preexistence when the whole purpose of the mortal probation is supposedly to test the individual's worthiness to become a god?"

The author(s) of Mormonism 101 make(s) the following claim:

The authors continue their false "interpretation" of LDS beliefs by asking:

"How could Jesus obtain godhood in the preexistence when the whole purpose of the mortal probation is supposedly to test the individual's worthiness to become a god?"

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

The authors get the purpose of mortality wrong (the purpose of mortality is to test whether we would obey God. See Abraham 3:25), so their question is moot. Jesus is God and Satan is His adversary precisely because Jesus passed the obedience test from before His mortality, (See Hebrews 5:8 and Moses 4:2) while Satan rebelled. (See Moses 4:3)

It is noteworthy that the authors prove the LDS point:

Paul certainly admonished the Corinthians for accepting a false version of Christ when he said in 2 Corinthians 11:4, "For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him." He added:

I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.15

The authors ignore the fact that most of Christianity accepts the extra-biblical Nicene and other creeds to describe Jesus Christ. This substitution of "tradition" for Biblical revelation has been the criticism made by LDS leaders since the days of the Prophet Joseph Smith.[6]:327 Yet, Joseph Smith and other Prophets accept the Christianity of other denominations:

Have the Presbyterians any truth? Yes. Have the Baptists, Methodists, etc., any truth? Yes. They all have a little truth mixed with error. We should gather all the good and true principles in the world and treasure them up, or we shall not come out true "Mormons."[6]:316

  • From Brigham Young:

It is our duty and calling, as ministers of the same salvation and Gospel, to gather every item of truth and reject every error. Whether a truth be found with professed infidels, or with the Universalists, or the Church of Rome, or the Methodists, the Church of England, the Presbyterians, the Baptists, the Quakers, the Shakers, or any other of the various and numerous different sects and parties, all of whom have more or less truth, it is the business of the Elders of this Church (Jesus, their Elder Brother, being at their head) to gather up all the truths in the world pertaining to life and salvation, to the Gospel we preach, to mechanism of every kind, to the sciences, and to philosophy, wherever it may be found in every nation, kindred, tongue, and people and bring it to Zion.[7]





Question: How did Christ achieve deification before mortality?

It was necessary that at some point Jesus receive a body, but the specific time in which He did so is not particularly important

It is claimed that Latter-day Saint doctrine, which teaches that a physical body is necessary for a fulness of glory, is inconsistent, since Jesus was God prior to his mortal birth. However, having a body is necessary for a fullness of joy (DC 93:33). The Holy Ghost is also God, but does not at present have a body in LDS doctrine.

It was necessary that at some point Jesus receive a body, but the specific time in which He did so is not particularly important. (To travel overseas, one needs both a passport and an airplane ticket. It doesn't matter in which order one gets the passport or the ticket, but one must eventually have both in order to reach one's destination.)

If a specific sequence is an absolutely requirement, then all Christians would need to explain how Christ's atonement could be efficacious to those who were born, lived, and died prior to His crucifixion. The fact that the atonement was effective should caution us against adopting an absolute requirement for sequence concerning Christ's receipt of a physical body.

Critics ignore that the gospel teaches us what we must do to fulfill God's commandments and purposes. It does not spend much time telling us what Jesus was required to do—clearly, he had many duties and abilities which far outstripped ours. That is why he was God and Savior before we came to this earth, and why we must rely upon his grace for salvation.


Response to claim: 43-45 - The authors claim that it is official LDS doctrine that Jesus was born because God had sexual intercourse with Mary

The author(s) of Mormonism 101 make(s) the following claim:

The authors claim that it is official LDS doctrine that Jesus was born because God had sexual intercourse with Mary.

(Author's sources:
  • Ezra Taft Benson, Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, 7, quoted in Ensign (April 1997), 15.
  • Gospel Principles, 64.
  • Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 8:115.
  • Heber C. Kimball, Journal of Discourses 8:211.
  • Joseph F. Smith, Family Home Evening Manual (1972), 125-126.
  • Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 547, 742.
  • McConkie, The Promised Messiah, 468.
  • Talmage, The Articles of Faith, 466-467.
  • Talmage, Jesus the Christ, 81.
  • Messages for Exaltation: Eternal Insights from the Book of Mormon (1967), 378-379.
  • Stephen E. Robinson, The Mormon Puzzle (video, 1997)
  • McConkie, The Promised Messiah, 466.)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is a falsehood - The author has disseminated false information

It is significant that while the authors quote several LDS Apostles and Prophets to the extent that Latter-day Saints believe that Jesus Christ is literally the Son of God (and Latter-day Saints do believe this), not once do they cite an official source that proclaims that Jesus was not virgin-born. Elder McConkie's assertion that disbelief in Christ's virgin birth is apostate[2]:822 is strangely missing, even though McConkie's statement that Jesus is literally God's Son is quoted. Also missing are Book of Mormon statements to that effect.[8]



Question: Do Mormons believe that Mary was still a virgin when Jesus was born?

Latter-day Saints believe in the virgin birth

It is claimed that Latter-day Saints believe Jesus was conceived through sexual intercourse between God the Father and Mary, therefore Mary was not a virgin when Jesus was born. As evidence they point to a handful statements from early LDS leaders that directly or indirectly say so. It is also claimed that Latter-day Saints reject the "Evangelical belief" that "Christ was born of the virgin Mary, who, when the Holy Ghost came upon her, miraculously conceived the promised messiah."

Critics of the Church like to dig up quotes like those from Brigham Young for their shock value, but such statements do not represent the official doctrine of the Church. Furthermore, critics often read statements through their own theological lenses, and ignore the key distinctions which LDS theology is attempting to make by these statements. Instead, they try to put a salacious spin on the teaching, when this is far from the speakers' intent. The key, official doctrine of the Church is that Jesus is literally the son of God (i.e., this is not a symbolic or figurative expression), and Mary was a virgin before and after Christ's conception.

At the annunciation, Mary questioned the angel about how she could bear a child: "How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?" (Luke 1:34; the expression "know" in the Greek text is a euphemism for sexual relations). Nephi likewise described Mary as a virgin (1 Nephi 11:13-20), as did Alma1 (Alma 7:10).

Latter-day Saints believe Jesus was the Only Begotten of the Father in the flesh

Latter-day Saints do believe that Jesus Christ was literally the Son of God, not the son of Joseph or even the son of the Holy Ghost. (see 2 Ne 25:12 and DC 93:11) As Ezra Taft Benson stated,

[T]he testimonies of appointed witnesses leave no question as to the paternity of Jesus Christ. God was the Father of His fleshly tabernacle, and Mary, a mortal woman, was His mother. He is therefore the only person born who rightfully deserves the title “the Only Begotten Son of God.”[9]

What the Church has not taken a position on is how the conception took place, despite speculations by various early Church leaders

The canonized scriptures are silent on how the conception took place—even Nephi's detailed vision of then-future Messiah is veiled during the part where Mary conceives (1 Nephi 11:19).

Some early leaders of the Church felt free to express their beliefs on the literal nature of God's Fatherhood of Jesus' physical body

For example, Brigham Young said the following in a discourse given 8 July 1860:

"...[T]here is no act, no principle, no power belonging to the Deity that is not purely philosophical. The birth of the Saviour was as natural as are the births of our children; it was the result of natural action. He partook of flesh and blood—was begotten of his Father, as we were of our fathers." [10]

Jesus shared God's genetic inheritance without necessarily requiring a sexual act to combine that inheritance with Mary's mortal contribution

But are these types of statements official Church doctrine, required for all believing Latter-day Saints to accept? No—they were never submitted to the Church for ratification or canonization. (See General authorities' statements as scripture.)

Critics have noted that this statement, and others like it, can be read to indicate there was sexual intercourse involved in the conception of Jesus. Regardless of this speculation--which goes beyond the textual data--Brigham Young's view may be seen by some contemporary Latter-day Saints as correct in that Jesus was literally physically the Son of God, just as much as any children are "of our fathers." Modern science has discovered alternative methods of conceiving children--e.g., in vitro "test tube" babies--that don't involve sexual intercourse. Thus, though processes such as artificial insemination were unknown to Brigham and thus likely not referenced by his statements, it does not necessarily follow from a modern perspective that the conception had to come about as the result of a literal sexual union. It is certainly not outside of God's power to conceive Christ by other means, while remaining his literal father. (Put another way, Jesus shared God's genetic inheritance, if you will, without necessarily requiring a sexual act to combine that inheritance with Mary's mortal contribution).

Ezra Taft Benson taught:

He was the Only Begotten Son of our Heavenly Father in the flesh—the only child whose mortal body was begotten by our Heavenly Father. His mortal mother, Mary, was called a virgin, both before and after she gave birth. (See 1 Nephi 11:20.) [11]

Benson's emphasis is on both the literalness of Jesus' divine birth, and the fact that Mary's virginal status persisted even immediately after conceiving and bearing Jesus.

Church leaders' statements on the literal paternity of Christ were often a reaction to various ideas which are false

  • they disagreed with the tendency of conventional Christianity to deny the corporeality of God. They thus insisted that God the Father had a "natural," physical form. There was no need, in LDS theology, for a non-physical, wholly spirit God to resort to a mysterious process to conceive a Son.
  • they disagreed with efforts to "allegorize" or "spiritualize" the virgin birth; they wished it understood that Christ is the literal Son of God in a physical, "natural" sense of sharing both human and divine traits in His makeup. This can be seen to be a reaction against more "liberal" strains in Christianity that saw Jesus as the literal son of Mary and Joseph, but someone endowed with God's power at some point in His life.
  • they did not accept that the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost were of one "essence," but rather believed that they are distinct Personages. Thus, it is key to LDS theology that Jesus is the Son of the Father, not the Holy Ghost. To a creedal, trinitarian Christian, this might be a distinction without a difference; for an LDS Christian it is crucial.

Bruce R. McConkie said this about the birth of Christ:

God the Father is a perfected, glorified, holy Man, an immortal Personage. And Christ was born into the world as the literal Son of this Holy Being; he was born in the same personal, real, and literal sense that any mortal son is born to a mortal father. There is nothing figurative about his paternity; he was begotten, conceived and born in the normal and natural course of events, for he is the Son of God, and that designation means what it says. [12]

In the same volume, Elder McConkie explained his reason for his emphasis:

"Our Lord is the only mortal person ever born to a virgin, because he is the only person who ever had an immortal Father. Mary, his mother, "was carried away in the Spirit" (1 Ne. 11:13-21), was "overshadowed" by the Holy Ghost, and the conception which took place "by the power of the Holy Ghost" resulted in the bringing forth of the literal and personal Son of God the Father. (Alma 7:10; 2 Ne. 17:14; Isa. 7:14; Matt. 1:18-25; Luke 1:26-38.) Christ is not the Son of the Holy Ghost, but of the Father. (Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 1, pp. 18-20.) Modernistic teachings denying the virgin birth are utterly and completely apostate and false. [13]

Note that McConkie emphasized the literal nature of Christ's divinity, his direct descent from the Father, and the fact that the Holy Ghost was a tool, but not the source of Jesus' divine Parenthood.

Harold B. Lee was clear that the method of Jesus' conception had not been revealed, and discouraged speculation on the matter

Harold B. Lee said,

We are very much concerned that some of our Church teachers seem to be obsessed of the idea of teaching doctrine which cannot be substantiated and making comments beyond what the Lord has actually said.

You asked about the birth of the Savior. Never have I talked about sexual intercourse between Deity and the mother of the Savior. If teachers were wise in speaking of this matter about which the Lord has said but very little, they would rest their discussion on this subject with merely the words which are recorded on this subject in Luke 1:34-35: "Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God."

Remember that the being who was brought about by [Mary's] conception was a divine personage. We need not question His method to accomplish His purposes. Perhaps we would do well to remember the words of Isaiah 55:8-9: "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts."

Let the Lord rest His case with this declaration and wait until He sees fit to tell us more. [14]


Response to claim: 45 - The assertion that Jesus Christ is God because of His "continued obedience to gospel laws" is in fact, a "diminishing of Jesus"

The author(s) of Mormonism 101 make(s) the following claim:

The authors further insult the intelligence of Latter-day Saints by claiming that Elder Milton Hunter's biblical assertion (Hebrews 5:8) that Jesus Christ is God because of His "continued obedience to gospel laws" is in fact, a "diminishing of Jesus."

(Author's sources: *Milton R. Hunter, The Gospel Through the Ages, 51, 200.)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources





Response to claim: 46-48 - The authors claim that the LDS believe Jesus Christ and Lucifer are brothers in the sense that both are in evil cahoots with each other

The author(s) of Mormonism 101 make(s) the following claim:

*The authors claim that the LDS believe Jesus Christ and Lucifer are brothers in the sense that both are in evil cahoots with each other.

(Author's sources: *Kimball, Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, 32-33.
  • Hunter The Gospel Through the Ages, 15.
  • Jess L. Christensen, A Sure Foundation: Answers to Difficult Gospel Questions, 223-224.)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

This ignores the LDS belief that all beings of spirit (not just Jesus and Lucifer) are children of God, Who is the "Father of Spirits." (Hebrews 12:9)

It is to understand just how the LDS view can be "unchristian" when early Christian saints such as Lactantius held similar views?[15]

The authors ignore the citation of Hebrews 12:9, which is given by Elder James Talmage and others?[16] [2]:323



Response to claim: 48 - The authors claim that the "Jesus of Mormonism is but one of many saviors"

The author(s) of Mormonism 101 make(s) the following claim:

*The authors claim that the "Jesus of Mormonism is but one of many saviors."

(Author's sources: *Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 14:71-72.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is a falsehood - The author has disseminated false information





Response to claim: 48-49 - The authors take issue with the belief that some Latter-day Saints have that Jesus Christ was married=

The author(s) of Mormonism 101 make(s) the following claim:

The authors take issue with the belief that some Latter-day Saints have that Jesus Christ was married. 36-40

(Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda and/or spin - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader





Question: Do Mormons believe Jesus Christ was married?

Mormons don't officially believe that Jesus was married

The easy answer is that no, Mormons don't officially believe that Jesus was married. In fact, there is no official Church doctrine on this issue. Individual members are free to believe as they wish concerning this matter. (Some believe that He was married; others believe He wasn't. Most members are open to believe either way.)

Do many Latter-day Saints believe that Jesus was married?

Since eternal marriage is one of the ordinances required to achieve exaltation, many Latter-day Saints do indeed believe that Jesus Christ was married. The question is: What is it about Jesus being married that would make Him less of our Lord and Savior? Yet, Latter-day Saints are accused of not being Christian because of such beliefs.

William Phipps, Professor of Religion and Philosophy at Davis and Elkins College in West Virginia, wrote an article and a book declaring his belief that the Lord Jesus Christ was married.[17] Are all Presbyterians not Christians on account of Reverend Phipps' beliefs, or do different standards exist for Evangelicals than for those "Satanic cultists," the "Mormons?" Perhaps those who make such accusations would counter that it is just Phipps who is not a Christian, on account of his belief that Jesus Christ was married. But again, why would they damn all Latter-day Saints because some Latter-day Saints believe something that is not official LDS doctrine?

The Bible is silent on the issue of Jesus' marital state

The Bible is silent on the issue of Jesus' marital state, and there has been no modern revelation stating he was or was not married. This leaves the issue an open question. Some Latter-day Saints believe he was married, but the Church has no position on the subject. This question was addressed by Charles W. Penrose in the September 1912 issue of the official Church magazine, the Improvement Era:

Question 2: Do you believe that Jesus was married?

Answer: We do not know anything about Jesus Christ being married. The Church has no authoritative declaration on the subject. [18]

Several early Latter-day Saint leaders believed Jesus was married and preached this from the pulpit

Several early LDS leaders believed Jesus was married, and said so from the pulpit on occasion. Here is one example from Apostle Orson Hyde:

Now there was actually a marriage [at Cana (John 2:1–11)]; and if Jesus was not the bridegroom on that occasion, please tell who was. If any man can show this, and prove that it was not the Savior of the world, then I will acknowledge I am in error. We say it was Jesus Christ who was married, to be brought into the relation whereby he could see his seed (Isaiah 53:10), before he was crucified. "Has he indeed passed by the nature of angels, and taken upon himself the seed of Abraham, to die without leaving a seed to bear his name on the earth?" No. But when the secret is fully out, the seed of the blessed shall be gathered in, in the last days; and he who has not the blood of Abraham flowing in his veins, who has not one particle of the Savior's in him, I am afraid is a stereotyped Gentile, who will be left out and not be gathered in the last days; for I tell you it is the chosen of God, the seed of the blessed, that shall be gathered. I do not despise to be called a son of Abraham, if he had a dozen wives; or to be called a brother, a son, a child of the Savior, if he had Mary, and Martha, and several others, as wives; and though he did cast seven devils out of one of them, it is all the same to me. [19]

Joseph Fielding Smith apparently believed that Jesus had been married

Joseph Fielding Smith apparently believed that Jesus had been married, and that He had children. In a 1963 letter to Elder Smith (then President of the Quorum of the Twelve), J. Ricks Smith asked for clarification on a question he had concerning the marital and paternal status of Jesus:

Burbank, California March 17, 1963

President Joseph Fielding Smith 47 East South Temple Street Salt Lake City 11, Utah

Dear President Smith:

In a discussion recently, the question arose, "Was Christ married?" The quote of Isaiah 53:10 was given, which reads,

Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put Him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul and offering for sin, he shall see His seed, he shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.

What is meant by "he shall see his seed"? Does this mean that Christ had children?

In the Temple ceremony we are told that only through Temple marriage can we receive the highest degree of exaltation and dwell in the presence of our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Christ came here to set us the example and, therefore, we believe that he must have been married. Are we right?

Sincerely,

J. Ricks Smith 1736 N. Ontario Street Burbank, California

In a written response (on the same letter), Elder Smith indicated his feelings on the matter—both in the positive. Placing an asterisk next to the words "His seed" in the letter, at the bottom of the letter Elder Smith wrote:

*Mosiah 15:10-12 Please Read Your Book of Mormon!

Placing two asterisks next to the words "he must have been married," at the bottom of the letter Elder Smith wrote:

**Yes! But do not preach it! The Lord advised us not to cast pearls before swine!

Apparently Elder Smith believed that the married state of Jesus was true, but that it should not be preached to others.

There has never been any revelation or official statement on the subject on behalf of the Church

Even though several leaders have expressed positive opinions on the subject, there has never been any revelation or official statement on the subject on behalf of the Church.

Dale Bills, a spokesman for the Church, said in a statement released Tuesday, 16 May 2006:

The belief that Christ was married has never been official church doctrine. It is neither sanctioned nor taught by the church. While it is true that a few church leaders in the mid-1800s expressed their opinions on the matter, it was not then, and is not now, church doctrine. [20]


Notes

  1. Church History in the Fulness of Times (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1989), 623.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2nd edition, (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966). GL direct link
  3. Twelve Apostles, "The Living Christ: The Testimony of the Apostles, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints," Ensign (December 2004), 4. off-site
  4. David Steinmetz, "Christian Unity: A Sermon by David Steinmetz," News and Notes 5/6 (April 1990); cited by Stephen E. Robinson, Are Mormons Christians? (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company, 1993),36–37. off-site FairMormon link
  5. Compare 2 Nephi 25:19 and the title page of the Book of Mormon with Hebrews 4:14 and John 1:1,3.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Joseph Smith, Jr., Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, selected by Joseph Fielding Smith, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1976). off-site
  7. Brigham Young, "Intelligence, Etc.," (9 October 1859) Journal of Discourses 7:283..
  8. For example, see 1 Nephi 11:13-24 and Alma 7:10. It is curious that the authors do not bring up the latter reference, which states that Jesus would be born "at Jerusalem … the land of our fathers." This claim, however, is quite answerable. Anybody who has lived in the Chicago area or who regularly watches WGN-TV would be quite familiar with the term, "Chicagoland," which is used to describe metropolitan Chicago.
  9. Ezra Taft Benson, "Five Marks of the Divinity of Jesus Christ," From a fireside address given at the University of Utah Special Events Center on 9 December 1979.
  10. Brigham Young, "Character of God and Christ, etc.," (8 July 1860) Journal of Discourses 8:115. (See also Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 1:238.; Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 4:218.; Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 11:268..
  11. Ezra Taft Benson, "Joy in Christ," Ensign (March 1986), 3–4. (emphasis added) off-site
  12. Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2nd edition, (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966), 742. GL direct link
  13. Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2nd edition, (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966), 822. GL direct link
  14. Harold B. Lee, Teachings of Harold B. Lee (Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft, 1996), 14. GospeLink (requires subscrip.)
  15. Lactantius, On the Workmanship of God. [ http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0704.htm Chapter 19].
  16. James E. Talmage, The Articles of Faith (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company, 1981[1899]), 401.
  17. William Phipps, "The Case for a Married Jesus," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 7 no. 4 (1972), 44-49., and William Phipps, Was Jesus Married? The Distortion of Sexuality in the Christian Tradition (New York: Harper and Row, 1970).
  18. Charles W. Penrose, "Peculiar Questions Briefly Answered," Improvement Era 15 no. 11 (September 1912).
  19. (6 October 1854) Journal of Discourses 2:82. Elder Hyde's interpretation of Isaiah 53:10 is at variance with the one given in the Book of Mormon. Abinadi taught that the prophets and those who believe the words of the prophets are Jesus' seed (Mosiah 15:10-13).
  20. "LDS do not endorse claims in 'Da Vinci'," Deseret News, 17 May 2006; (Link). See also "Book's premise not so shocking to LDS," The Salt Lake Tribune, 19 May 2006; (Link).