This article first appeared in the Ask Hank column of the Christian Research Journal, volume31, number2 (2008). For further information or to subscribe to the Christian Research Journal go to: http://www.equip.org
Chris Wallace: “What about Mitt Romney….is a Mormon a true Christian?”
Joel Osteen: “Well, in my mind they are. Mitt Romney has said that he believes in Christ as his Savior, and that’s what I believe; so, you know, I’m not the one to judge the little details of it. So I believe they are.”
— FOX News Sunday with Chris Wallace, FOX News, December 23, 2007
According to official Mormon teaching, Jesus Christ is the first spirit child conceived and begotten by Heavenly Father and one of Heavenly Father’s many wives (commonly referred to as “Heavenly Mother”). Just as Heavenly Father before him progressed to godhood, so Jesus progressed through obedience to the status of a god (prior to his incarnation on earth). In the words of the late Mormon Apostle and General Authority Bruce McConkie, Jesus Christ “by obedience and devotion to the truth… attained that pinnacle of intelligence which ranked him as a God.” As such, according to LDS authorities, Jesus is not to be worshiped or prayed to as one would worship or pray to Heavenly Father.
Mormons also teach that Heavenly Father subsequently had many more spirit children. We ourselves are thought to be such spirit siblings of Jesus. Mormons thus refer to Jesus as our “elder brother.” Moreover, Mormons believe that even Satan (Lucifer) is a spirit brother of Jesus. While LDS spokespersons obfuscate this fundamental of Mormon teaching, apostles of the Mormon Church and current official LDS publications affirm it. As explained in Ensign,
On first hearing, the doctrine that Lucifer and our Lord, Jesus Christ, are brothers may seem surprising to some—especially to those unacquainted with latter-day revelations. But both the scriptures and the prophets affirm that Jesus Christ and Lucifer are indeed offspring of our Heavenly Father and, therefore, spirit brothers….But as the Firstborn of the Father, Jesus was Lucifer’s older brother. (See Col. 1:15; D&C 93:21.)
Further, according to the official LDS teacher’s manual, Gospel Principles,
We needed a Savior to pay for our sins and teach us how to return to our Heavenly Father. Our Father said, “Whom shall I send?” (Abraham 3:27). Two of our brothers offered to help. Our oldest brother, Jesus Christ, who was then called Jehovah, said, “Here am I, send me” (Abraham 3:27)….Satan, who was called Lucifer, also came, saying, “Behold, here am I, send me, I will be thy son, and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor” (Moses 4:1).
In sharp contrast to Mormon Christology, the biblical witness is clear and convincing: Jesus Christ is the eternal Creator God (John 1; Col. 1; Heb. 1; Rev. 1). Paul explicitly teaches that Jesus is the creator of all, including the angelic realm to which Satan belongs: “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him” (Col. 1:15–16, emphasis added). Jesus is thus Satan’s creator, not his spirit brother.
The Bible emphatically underscores the truth that throughout His earthly ministry Jesus claimed to be God in word and deed (Mark 14:61–62; John 5:18, 20; 8:58; 10:30–33) and vindicated His claims to deity by living a sinless life (John 8:46; 2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 4:15; 1 John 3:5; 1 Pet. 2:22), by manifesting His power over nature (Mark 4:39), over fallen angels (Luke 4:35), over sickness (Matt. 4:23), and even over death itself (John 4:50; 11:43–44; 1 Cor. 15), and by accurately prophesying God’s judgment on Jerusalem through the destruction of the Temple that occurred in A.D. 70 (Matt. 24:1–2, 32–35). Contrary to Mormon teaching, therefore, Jesus is fully God and deserves to be worshiped as such (cf. Matt. 2:11; 28:17; Heb. 1:6; Rev. 5:11–14).
In sum, the distinction between the Jesus of Mormonism and the Jesus of the Bible makes all the difference in the world, and is not, as Joel Osteen would have us believe, reducible to “little details.” The apostle Paul warned of a “different Jesus” and “another gospel” — a counterfeit Christ and counterfeit Christianity that is impotent to save (see 2 Cor. 11 and Gal. 1). Christ Himself posed the operative question, “Who do you say I am?” (Matt. 16:15).
— Hank Hanegraaff