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A "Personage" or The Real Jesus?

January 13, 2009

“I bear witness again and again and again of the divinity of that personage, Jesus Christ, who came to the Prophet Joseph Smith and who came to the Nephites” [emphasis mine]. Spencer W. Kimball, The True Way of Life and Salvation, Ensign, May, 1978, 4.

I believe it is important to note a distinction in the LDS testimony of Jesus Christ. The LDS testimony of Jesus is directly connected to the affirmation of that “personage” that appeared to Joseph Smith [1, 2, 3]. While the term “personage” can be synonymous with person, it also carries the following definitions:

  1. Form, appearance, or belongings of a person; the external appearance, stature, figure, air, and the like, of a person.
  2. Character assumed or represented. “The actors and personages of this fable.” –Broome. “Disguised in a false personage.” —Addison. [4]

Why is this significant?


I invite you to take a journey with me down a trail of important consideration for a moment.  In the Bible, Jesus warned us that false Christs and false prophets will arise in the latter days (Matt. 24:23-26).  We are informed that Satan disguises himself as an angel of light (II Cor. 11:14), and we are warned, in particular, not to receive “another Jesus” (II Cor. 11:4) than the One the Apostles preached.  Jesus said that at the final judgment there will be people expecting to enter heaven because they were doing “wonderful works” in the name of Jesus, but they will be turned away because Jesus will profess, “I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Matthew 7:21-23).

Former LDS President, Gordon B. Hinckley, admitted that the LDS personage of Jesus is not the same as the traditional Christ of Christianity:

“They say we do not believe in the traditional Christ of Christianity. There is some substance to what they say… Our faith, our knowledge comes of the witness of a prophet in this dispensation who saw before him the great God of the universe and His Beloved Son, the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ…It is out of that knowledge, rooted deep in the soil of modern revelation, that we, in the words of Nephi, “talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that [we and] our children may know to what source [we] may look for a remission of [our] sins” (2 Ne. 25:26) [emphasis mine] Gordon B. Hinckley, “We Look to Christ,” Ensign, May 2002, 90.

The “personage of Jesus” is defined in LDS theology as the first-born of many spirit children of an exalted man (the god of this universe) who is one of many exalted men (gods) who rule over other universes, who were conceived by heavenly mothers through the natural manner of intercourse and are co-equal with humans in intelligence, immortality, and potential for deity.  The LDS Jesus is defined as the literal spirit-brother of humans who all resided together in a “pre-existence” prior to being sent to earth in order to make themselves worthy of being exalted like the gods who have gone before [5] [6] [7].

As I have noted in previous posts, there are some troubling inconsistencies with the first vision story. What if it’s not true? What if, as many ex-mormons have come to believe, Joseph Smith really was a false prophet and the Book of Mormon is a 19th century fable?  If one’s testimony is based on this Jesus, what then? Sadly, seen all over the internet is a trend that is the fruit of having one’s testimony thus ordered: a crisis of faith.  Many LDS who have lost faith in the church, the historicity of the Book of Mormon, and Joseph Smith as a prophet of God, have lost faith in Jesus Christ as well. Why? I submit that it is because they were never directed to believe in the real Jesus Christ at all, but rather in the “personage” that appeared to Joseph Smith. These two are not one and the same Jesus.

The Jesus of the Bible is the Mighty God and Father of Eternity (Isaiah 9:6), who created all things, including Satan and humans (Col. 1:16-19), who only has immortality (I Tim. 6:16), and in whom all the fullness of Deity dwells (Col. 1:16-19), who revealed Himself publicly in history to be the Only Begotten Son of the one and only true God who is the only God who has ever existed or ever will exist (Isaiah 43:10).

One day we will all stand before the real Jesus Christ and He will be the One who decides our eternal destiny.  Many religious people will expect to gain entrance because they were doing “many wonderful works” in the name of Jesus, but they will discover that the real Jesus did not know them (Matt. 7:21-23).

Have you put your faith in the real Jesus Christ or in a personage of Jesus?



References:

[1] Glenn L. Pace, “Do You Know?,” Ensign, May 2007, 78–79.

[2] L. Aldin Porter, “‘To Bear Testimony of Mine Only Begotten’,” Ensign, May 2001, 30.

[3] Chapter 47: “Praise to the Man”: Latter-day Prophets Bear Witness of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, (2007),541–57.

[4] “personage.” Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary. MICRA, Inc. 11 Jan. 2009. Dictionary.com http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/personage.

[5] Chapter 40: The Father and the Son,” Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith, 353.

[6] Chapter 2: Our Heavenly Family,” Gospel Principles, 11.

[7] Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 342-356.

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30 Comments leave one →
  1. January 13, 2009 3:44 pm

    Jesus Christ. Thanks for asking!

  2. DaveyMike permalink
    January 13, 2009 10:15 pm

    Keep up the great posts! I find it so hard to put in words the joy and clarity that grace has in my life. You do so well at it.

  3. Tyler permalink
    January 14, 2009 12:21 am

    Jessica this is silly…

    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/personage
    http://dictionary.die.net/personage
    http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/personage

    You use a strange lead for the ensuing paragraphs.

    Also,

    “… who were conceived by heavenly mothers through the natural manner of intercourse and are co-equal with humans in intelligence, immortality, and potential for deity.”

    Careful here- this is not doctrine. It has been speculated upon but never confirmed as authoritative.

    As for the rest, I think you’re pulling at straws here…

  4. January 14, 2009 3:59 am

    Hi Tyler! 🙂 I’m not sure which part of my sentence you are referring to that you say is not doctrine. The part about heavenly mothers is implicit in LDS thinking, as you know, and is inferred from standard works such as D & C 132 as well as the teachings of LDS presidents: http://www.lightplanet.com/mormons/basic/godhead/heavenly_mother.html

    Gospel Principles teaches: “All men and women are … literally the sons and daughters of Deity. … Man, as a spirit, was begotten and born of heavenly parents, and reared to maturity in the eternal mansions of the Father, prior to coming upon the earth in a temporal [physical] body. Every person who was ever born on earth was our spirit brother or sister in heaven. The first spirit born to our heavenly parents was Jesus Christ (see D&C 93:21), so he is literally our elder brother (see Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 26). Because we are the spiritual children of our heavenly parents, we have inherited the potential to develop their divine qualities. If we choose to do so, we can become perfect, just as they are” (Chapter 2: Our Heavenly Family,” Gospel Principles, 11).

    If you were referring to the latter half of my sentence, this comes from Joseph Smith’s teaching on the intelligence and immortality of the human spirit as being co-equal and co-eternal with God’s:

    “We say that God himself is a self-existent being…Who told you that man did not exist in like manner upon the same principles? Man does exist upon the same principles. The mind or the intelligence which man possesses is co-equal with God himself…The intelligence of spirits had not beginning, neither will it have an end. That is good logic. That which has a beginning may have an end. There never was a time when there were not spirits; for they are co-equal [co-eternal] with our Father in heaven…God never had the power to create the spirit of man at all” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 342-356).

    The point of my post is to recognize the differences between the Christ of Mormonism and the traditional Christ of Christianity. Mormon leaders have not disagreed with this. I cited Gordon B. Hinckley in my post. Elder Bernard P. Brockbank also said “It is true that many of the Christian churches worship a different Jesus Christ than is worshipped by the Mormons” (The Living Christ, Ensign, May 1977). Apostle Bruce McConkie’s said, “Virtually all the millions of apostate Christendom have abased themselves before the mythical throne of a mythical Christ” (Mormon Doctrine, p.269).

  5. Tyler permalink
    January 14, 2009 5:54 am

    My problem with your sentence was the ‘natural manner of intercourse.’ That may have been, but we don’t have an official doctrine on the matter. But I love how you pull out King Follett (a beautiful, wonderful discourse) and BRM (as you always do). I love my peculiar religion.

    But I agree that we worship a different being. The same in function, but different in attributes.

    Again, my problem with your post is your lead and title. As you can imagine, I agree with the quotes.

  6. January 14, 2009 7:07 pm

    Oh that. Well, to steal a quote from exmormon, Randy J.: “Considering the volume of this consistent teaching, in my opinion, Mormons who do NOT agree with this teaching are the ones who are ‘speculating.'” He compiled a list of quotes from Mormon leaders who taught this doctrine. I will paste the link here for any interested readers:
    http://www.exmormon.org/mormon/mormon385.htm

    As for my lead and title, I had an “ah-ha” moment one day while reading that opening quote from Kimball. It jumped out at me that he was making a clear distinction regarding the entity he was bearing testimony of and separating that entity from the Biblical Jesus. I’m sure you disagree, but since I do not believe the Nephites ever existed or that the real Jesus Christ ever appeared to JS, his quote jumped out at me that he was bearing testimony of a “false personage” of Jesus. This leads right into my quotes about false Christs and false prophets in the latter days and the warning about receiving “another Jesus” and that Satan will try to disguise himself as an angel of light. I then showed the differences between the Biblical Jesus and the Jesus presented by Mormon leaders. I realize you disagree, but I felt I needed to bear my testimony on the matter.

  7. Tyler permalink
    January 15, 2009 12:50 am

    Well thank you for that testimony. And may I say, thank you for the civil manner with which you respond to these issues. While I disagree wholeheartedly with your posts (virtually every one :)), I appreciate that you are less belittling than many of your christian cohorts. Still wrong, just less patronizing than others.

    As for Randy J… who is he that I should care about his opinion? I give less credibility to ex-mormons than to those who never lived in the church. They usually have an axe to grind. Also, it is easy to read a list of quotes and get the feeling that there is a consensus. I read the article linked in your last response but honestly don’t see the big deal. First, there are only 6 or 7 people quoted, and none of them explicitly state that it was through sexual intercourse (as ‘Randy J,’ our knowledgeable guide concedes). We believe that he is literally the Son of God. That does not necessarily mean we believe that God had sex with Mary. He may have, it is just that we don’t know (or really care). Either way, as a practicing and well-versed member of the church for over 30 years, I can honestly say that the majority of members don’t believe that (if they even have ever thought about it).

    And again, none of this is authoritative doctrine. You’ll notice that nearly all of your posts deal with topics that are non-canonical. To reiterate- unless it has been confirmed by God Himself through his Prophets AND Apostles by official church sanction, it is the opinion of men. Good men speaking as good men. But when it is included in the standard works, it is the word of God speaking through His good men.

  8. Michael W. Mattei permalink
    January 15, 2009 3:25 am

    I find it distressing that you disregard the statements of people who have left your church so readily. You say they have an ax to grind. Why? Whatever has upset them so might very well be an important part of this discussion. If there is some easily dismissible universal grievance shared by apostate Mormons, it might be very helpful to address it now.

    Does the converse hold true? Do Christians who convert to Mormonism have no bearing on a conversation about Christianity? Does Joseph Smith lose the right to comment on the Christian Church because he left it?

    I think if we’re going to keep the discourse honest we’re going to have to not discard someone’s comments out of hand without addressing them.

    Now maybe this statement might be a little more authoritative:
    “I have given you a few leading items upon this subject, but a great deal more remains to be told. Now remember from this time forth, and forever that Jesus Christ was not begotten by the Holy Ghost. I will repeat a little anecdote. I was in conversation with a certain learned professor upon the subject, when I replied, to this idea – ‘If the son was begotten by the Holy Ghost, it would be very dangerous to baptize and confirm females, and give the holy Ghost to them, lest he should beget children, to be palmed upon the Elders by the people, bringing the Elders into great difficulties.'” -Brigham Young (Journal of Discourses, Vol 1, p. 51) (April 9, 1852). Now, please let me know if I got that quote wrong but it does seem to contradict Matthew 1:18-23 and Luke 1:26-38 which indicates that Mary was a virgin and that she would conceive by the power of the Holy Spirit.

    Now if Jesus is not the product of Holy Spirit as the “Apostle/Prophet” Brigham Young states then how did it happen?

  9. royalton permalink
    January 15, 2009 5:46 am

    In our time, we have developed the means of inseminating a woman without requiring a man to have sex with her. Do you think we are more intelligent or powerful than God? I think He could manage to literally be the Father of Jesus without such a physical relationship occuring.

    I think it is telling that evangelicals who criticize the LDS church seem very willing to debase God and Christ in sarcastic and demeaning language. Of course, in their minds they are only pointing out what they think are blemishes of the LDS church, but in the end they are simply mocking God. This discussion is a good example. I don’t think LDS contemplate the question of a physical relationship between deity and Mary- they simply trust that God made it happen in some good and holy way. Critics lower the decency level in their analysis and criticisms!

    By the way Michael Mattei, I personally do not know a person who has left the church on “intellectual” grounds to subsequently become a loud critic who has not also simultaneously fallen in moral behavior. This is the case in every instance I know (many). This creates a great conflict of interest for them that they never admit to.

  10. January 15, 2009 6:34 am

    “I appreciate that you are less belittling than many of your christian cohorts. Still wrong, just less patronizing than others.”

    Thank you! I do hope you shall consider returning the favor! 🙂 While I deeply disagree with Mormon doctrine I seek to refrain from attacking or belittling Mormons while discussing the major differences in our beliefs (I’m not perfect at this and I try to be understanding when Mormons also fail in this area). I’m sure the things I have to say about Mormonism are very offensive to Mormons, but I hope that the sincerity of my intentions is evident even if they disagree with my conclusions.

    “I give less credibility to ex-mormons than to those who never lived in the church. They usually have an axe to grind.”

    Does that include Cowdery, Harris, and Whitmer? Should Mormons consider their testimony of the Book of Mormon less credible since they all later left the LDS church?

    “You’ll notice that nearly all of your posts deal with topics that are non-canonical. To reiterate- unless it has been confirmed by God Himself through his Prophets AND Apostles by official church sanction, it is the opinion of men.”

    Mine is a tough job. If I cite the lack of historical/archeological evidence I am told that I’m jumping to conclusions and not allowing enough time for some evidence to surface. If I cite canonical works I’m told that I’m misinterpreting them. If I cite the teachings of prophets/apostles I am told that it was just the opinions of men. I think I will just become a Buffet Non-Mormon so I can pick and choose what I believe Mormonism teaches. 🙂

    Royalton,

    you said, “evangelicals who criticize the LDS church seem very willing to debase God and Christ in sarcastic and demeaning language. Of course, in their minds they are only pointing out what they think are blemishes of the LDS church, but in the end they are simply mocking God”

    We are quoting Mormon prophets that we believe said disgusting and blasphemous things about our Awesome God who dwells in unapproachable light. We reject false teaching and refuse to align ourselves with any so-called prophets who teach debasing doctrines. Some Mormons, when made aware of what former prophets have taught about God, see the blasphemy and reject it. This is a large reason why Evangelicals seek to educate people about Mormonism.

    By the way, you might visit my blogroll and get to know a small sampling of the many exmormons who have left the LDS church for doctrinal and historical reasons (although we will gladly welcome your sinners too). The wonderful good news of freedom, forgiveness, and grace offered by our loving Lord Jesus Christ extends to all.

  11. Tyler permalink
    January 15, 2009 7:03 am

    I’ll disagree with Royalton here and say that many people leave the church without falling into immoral behavior. This is a gross oversimplification, and not true. True in some cases, perhaps many. But not necessarily most, and certainly not all.

    You’re right, you do have a tough job.
    Then again,
    Acts 9:5
    5And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.

  12. Royalton permalink
    January 15, 2009 5:31 pm

    Tyler,
    What I said, if you read it again, is that LDS who leave the church and become loud critics- you know the type (angry, bitter)- have almost all had moral issues. I do not claim to be better or more holy than these people. But I have found this to be quite consistent, and I think the conflict of interest in these people should be recognized. They are often accepted with open arms in the critic community and nobody seems to care about this.

    What do I mean by conflict of interest? If a person cheated on a wife, guilt naturally follows. One possible reaction is to get rid of the guilt. For some, that means trying to discredit or invalidate the source of guilt- which for some people will mean the church. So, they will go to almost any length to convince themselves and others that the church is not true. They want and need the church to be false. (and it helps to change to a religious community where there are not disciplinary measures or the same level of accountability).

    I have no problem dealing with their arguments head on, in fact I find arguments from those who have never been members are more clear and developed.

    I say all this from direct experiences with people I know, unfortunately. This is simply my experience.

  13. Brad permalink
    January 15, 2009 7:02 pm

    Royalton,

    What about those who HAVE left the church over intellectual issues, are now outspoken critics of Mormonism, but have had no major “moral falldown” like you speak of? While you say you know of none personally, you almost seem to imply that these people don’t exist at all. I, myself, know and talk to at least 2 such people, and no moral falldown has occurred.

    How do you explain that, Royalton?

  14. January 15, 2009 7:03 pm

    “You’re right, you do have a tough job. Then again, Acts 9:55 And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.”

    Tyler, I do not consider it persecution when Mormon missionaries or members try to convince me I am part of the apostate church. And belittlements and offensive comments from Mormons about my blog does not equate with the beatings, killings, and church burnings experienced by my brothers and sisters in India, China, and the Middle East. The “persecution card” has to be set aside if we are going to have productive conversations.

  15. Royalton permalink
    January 15, 2009 8:20 pm

    Brad,

    I do not claim that it has never happened- I just don’t believe it is common. This is from my personal experience AND doing a little looking behind the scenes when the “big-name” intellectuals leave the church. It is surprisingly consistent!

    My point is that there are very frequently details that are not disclosed by the individual- details that are very relevant and that support what I am claiming.

    royalton

  16. Tyler permalink
    January 15, 2009 8:39 pm

    Jessica
    Who made that comparison? Don’t stretch what I say.

  17. Brad permalink
    January 15, 2009 9:06 pm

    Royalton, my point is this – what of those who do fall in this bucket? What of their intellectual reasons for leaving? We can’t just set them aside – so how would you answer them, when they say there is no evidence for the LDS church being true?

  18. Tyler permalink
    January 15, 2009 11:20 pm

    While I assert my disagreement with Royalton’s opinion, I will say that giving the former mormon an elevated place in these discussion is illogical. No one knows the current or former status of such a person’s heart. In other words, I know many members of my church who, if they left now (even though many have served missions and worked in the church and been active), would have no more authority on church doctrine or policy than anyone else. Many of them have been in the church for cultural reasons without ever really caring for or understanding the doctrine of the church. If they were to leave and decide that suddenly they wanted to be anti-mormons, I would give them no more credibility than I give Jessica. We can only evaluate the arguments they make, not their claim to truth based on former activity in the faith.

    Do you give apostate christian atheists more credibility than life-long secularists? Am I to trust Richard Dawkins as an atheist because he was once a believer?

  19. royalton permalink
    January 15, 2009 11:26 pm

    Brad,

    I have not encountered any claims from former members that, after considering and studying them honestly myself, challenged my belief from a spiritual or intellectual standpoint.

    The claim that “there is no evidence for the LDS church being true” is silly in my opinion. I personally have no outside compelling influence pushing me to believe in the church- monetary, social, intellectual, family, etc. I have a background in the sciences and have spent significant amounts of time conducting and interpreting scientific experiments. I would say I have mountains of evidence that the church is true. I am so fully satisfied with the evidence that I have. What is cool is that if I am faithful and diligent in my search for truth- I find new and exciting evidences quite regularly!

    Just like beauty- “it is in the eye of the beholder.”

    royalton

  20. January 16, 2009 1:00 am

    Tyler,
    I’m sorry if I was unclear in my comment. E-communication is so fraught with limitations with too much room for misunderstandings. What I was *trying* to say was that I felt you were accusing me of persecuting Mormons with the Acts 9 quote (please clarify if I misunderstood you). My response to that was two-fold. 1) I feel that using the term “persecution” is a hindrance to productive dialog and steers the focus of the conversation away from the issues raised. 2) I feel I could claim persecution from Mormons if we are using this definition for the term, but I don’t feel like communication such as we are having equates with “persecution.” This is a free country. People have the option to participate here or not. No one is forcing anyone to participate here and no one is persecuting anyone.

    We have major, serious differences as you pointed out earlier in the thread: “But I agree that we worship a different being.” – This is hugely serious and is what we should be talking about on this thread, not side issues such as whether or not exmormons are a reliable source for providing quotes that we can easily verify in other places such as the JoD or LDS.org.

    Since I have set forth my reasons/Scriptures in my post for why I believe Mormons are worshipping a “false personage” of Jesus, now is the time for you to defend your belief that you are worshipping the true Jesus. I would be interested in seeing your arguments rather than “Jessica this is silly” or “you’re pulling at straws here” – How am I pulling at straws? What are the arguments for your position?

  21. January 16, 2009 1:24 am

    Jessica, if I may jump in, I think it’s just as silly to argue about this “different Jesus”. Again, this is about interpretation. We each claim to believe in the biblical Jesus. You view it through the lenses of the councils and creeds. We view it through the lenses of modern revelation.

    It’s just as silly as arguing who truly is more biblical–the Triune God of the historical Christian tradition, or the Godhead of the restoration. I’m convinced we each have enough ways of interpreting the Bible to “prove” our view is correct/biblical. Thousands of conversations have addressed this and the only thing “proven” is that we interpret essential biblical passages differently.

  22. January 16, 2009 2:26 am

    Hi Clean Cut, 🙂

    You said, “I’m convinced we each have enough ways of interpreting the Bible to “prove” our view is correct/biblical.”

    I don’t think people should come to the Bible with the goal of “proving” their view is correct. That’s eisegesis as I’m sure you are aware. The Bible says we are to “receive with meekness the engrafted word which is able to save your souls” (James 1:21).

    Why not allow the Bible to speak for itself and interpret it in the normal literary sense as we do with other literature? How many ways are there to interpret Ex. 33:20? God told Moses, “Thou canst not see my face, for there shall no man see me, and live.”

    Or John 1:18 “no man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.”

    Or I Tim. 6:16 “the King of kings, and Lord of lords…whom no man hath seen, nor can see

    These are pretty clear passages, not difficult to understand or interpret, unless one is approaching them from the lens of modern revelation and trying to make them fit that viewpoint. In literary criticism, modern revelation would be the “preconceived bias” that affects one’s understanding of the normal sense of the text.

    You say “We each claim to believe in the biblical Jesus.”

    Actually, the main point of my post was to say that I believed Mormon leaders were NOT presenting the Biblical Jesus, but preaching the “Jesus” that appeared to the Nephites and JS. As I stated earlier in another comment, I believe the lack of historical evidence for the Nephites is one argument against this being the true Jesus. The other argument is the verses that say no man can see God. A third argument is AOF #8 that really undermines faith in the Bible and allows modern revelation to take precedence when conflicts surface between the Bible and modern revelation.

  23. January 16, 2009 6:17 pm

    I think the whole “Mormon visions and miracles are from Satan” line of argument is completely unproductive. It has zero persuasive power for people who didn’t already agree with you to begin with.

    Note Jessica, that your whole line of “it’s from the devil” that you are taking with respect to Mormons is EXACTLY the same line of argument the Pharisees used to explain away Jesus’ miracles.

    Nice company you are keeping with your arguments.

  24. January 16, 2009 6:22 pm

    “I feel that using the term “persecution” is a hindrance to productive dialog and steers the focus of the conversation away from the issues raised.”

    You mean issues like calling our miracles “from Satan?”

    Seriously, you don’t get the irony here?

  25. January 16, 2009 6:22 pm

    I too am not advocating trying to “prove” anything. That goes against what I do–namely, seek mutual understanding. But even you must admit that there are other views/ways of interpreting these “pretty clear passages” of scripture so that the Bible doesn’t appear to have contradictions–such as verses that say that people HAVE seen God or that they WILL see God. (ie: Genesis 32:30 records Jacob as saying: “For I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved”).

    Stephen Robinson has wrote in “How Wide the Divide?”:

    “No Mormon would propose that any ‘mere human being has ever see or can see’ God. To see God would incinerate mere mortals. But certain scriptures, which the LDS take literally, but Evangelicals do not, confirm that “mere” human begins can be lifted by God above their “merely” human condition and then see God spiritually, as did Jacob (Gen. 32:20), Moses (Deut 5:4; 34:10), Nadab, Abihu, the Elders of Israel (Ex 24:9-11) and Isaiah (Is 6:1, 5). Jesus promises that humans who are not “merely human” but “pure in heart” WILL see God (Matthew 5:8), as does Paul (1 Cor 13:12), so it can hardly be credible to deny the explicit promise of Christ and say that no human ever CAN see God. Of course one might insist that the limitations implied by the term ‘human’ apply only in this life, not in eternity, so that Jesus’ promise means that those who are “merely human” now will be something more in eternity and thus able to see God–but then one makes my case that the distinction between the human and divine applies only in mortality.”

    You further stated that you have your arguments for believing what you do. Surly I have mine. We can’t “prove” anything, but we can at least allow others the possibility that they can in good faith believe what they do without suspecting the worst of them.

    You also mentioned Article of Faith #8, which says: “We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly…” You say that it undermines faith in the Bible, but this should not be so. The wording is intended to communicate EXACTLY the same caution to Latter-day Saints that the phrases “when all facts are known,” “in their original autographs,” and “properly interpreted” from the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy are intended to convey to Evangelicals.

  26. January 17, 2009 12:08 am

    Clean Cut,

    You said:

    “I think it’s just as silly to argue about this “different Jesus”

    Are you saying that we should not take the warning in 2 Corinthian 11:4 seriously?

    “For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough.”

    I believe this is the most important point to be addressed between Mormons and Christians. It is THE difference. Even Gordon B Hinckley admitted that the LDS Church teaches s “different” Jesus from Christians.

    “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 Fulness [sic] of Times'” – June 20, 1998

    He said this in fact while I was STILL a member of the LDS Church. I remember this VERY clearly.

    You also made some comments about the 8th Article of Faith. So that I don’t misunderstand your position, would you mind clarifying your understanding of the LDS Church’s position on the reliability of the Bible? Thanks!

    Darrell

  27. January 17, 2009 12:10 am

    Jessica,

    Would you mind fixing the smiley face above… it is supposed to read 1998 and NOT be a smiley face.

    Thanks!!

    Darrell

  28. January 17, 2009 12:16 am

    Sure, I don’t know why it does that!

  29. January 17, 2009 6:00 pm

    Darrell, there are “differences” in our belief for sure. We believe in the Christ of the Bible, but not the Christ of post-biblical councils and creeds. I too was there in person and remember when President Hinckley said:

    “As a Church we have many critics, many of them. They say we do not believe in the traditional Christ of Christianity. There is some substance to what they say. Our faith, our knowledge is not based on ancient traditions, the creeds which came of a finite understanding and out of the almost infinite discussions of men trying to arrive at a definition of the risen Christ. Our faith, our knowledge comes from the witness of a prophet in this dispensation who saw before him the great God of the universe and His Beloved son, the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ. They spoke to him. He spoke to them. He testified openly, unequivocally, and unabashedly of that great vision of the Almighty Redeemer of the world glorifying our understanding, but unequivocating in the knowledge it brought.” (April 2002 General Conference)

    Both sides accept the biblical teachings about Christ, but we interpret them through different lenses. Yes, this is a difference. No one has ever claimed “we’re the same”. But I’m not convinced that even though we have differences in our Christian beliefs and the nature of God, that necessarily means we’re worshipping a different being, but rather understanding different things about that being.

    As Robinson put it:
    “Evangelicals often accuse Latter-day Saints of worshipping a ‘different Jesus’ because we believe some things about Jesus that cannot be proven from the Bible. However, I would point out that John thought Jesus was crucified the afternoon before Passover (John 19:14; 18:28), so that the Last Supper was not the Passover meal, while Matthew, Mark and Luke say Jesus ate the Passover with the disciples and was crucified the morning after (Mark 14:12, Matthew 26:17-19; Luke 22:13-15). Is John (or the Synoptics) writing about a ‘different Jesus,’ or do they simply disagree on the details concerning one Jesus?

    “If some Christians think Jesus had siblings and other Christians think that he did not, or if some think he stayed in Egypt for years while others think it was merely for weeks or months, do they worship different beings? If I think Jesus liked his veggies and you think he didn’t, are we therefore talking about two different people? Some Evangelicals, like the Mormons, do not accept the Nicene and Chalcedonian definitions, I am told, but limit their Christology to the New Testament data. Do these people also worship ‘a different Jesus’ than other more creedal Evangelicals, and are they therefore not Christian?

    “This charge, that people worship ‘a different Jesus’ if they disagree over any detail of his character or history, is simply a rhetorical device, a trick of language. All I can say to it is that Latter-day Saints worship that divine Son of God of whom the apostles and prophets of the Old and New Testaments bear record, and we believe all that they have to say about him. There is no biblical information about the Son of God that the Latter-day Saints do not affirm. If Evangelicals truly worship ‘a different Jesus’ than this, I shall be greatly disappointed.”

  30. January 17, 2009 10:27 pm

    Clean Cut,

    You said;

    “But I’m not convinced that even though we have differences in our Christian beliefs and the nature of God, that necessarily means we’re worshipping a different being…”

    I have to politely disagree with you. The NATURE of the being we worship is how we define WHO we are worshipping. Let me give an example…

    Let’s say you and I met at a Dialoque Symposium and we began talking. In the course of the conversation I mention a friend of mine by the name of John Taylor. You stop in your tracks and say… “wait I know John Taylor too!”! Naturally, we are both amazed that we know the same person. Well, how would we determine if we are speaking of the SAME individual? We would discuss the DETAILS ABOUT THEM!! So, I might say “well the John Taylor I know lives in Atlanta, has 4 kids, is caucasian, works at TBS, etc.” Then, you might follow follow with… “well, I guess we are talking about DIFFERENT John Taylor’s because my friend lives in Utah, works for BYU, has 8 kids and is Asian.” Given these descriptions we would both be able to determine that we are TALKING ABOUT DIFFERENT PEOPLE WHO HAVE THE SAME NAME.

    That is exactly what is happening between LDS and Christians. We talk about worshipping the Jesus of the Bible, however, our descriptions of the Jesus’ we each worship ARE VERY DIFFERENT. Therefore, they are different Christ’s. This is VERY IMPORTANT as the Bible warns that there will be those who preach a “different Christ”. In fact, Christ HIMSELF warned that there would be those doing all manner of good works in HIS NAME but that on Judgement Day He will tell them to “depart from” Him as He “knows them not”.

    Mormons and Christians each preach a different Christ… the only question is which one is correct?

    Darrell

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