Apologists for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (or LDS Church) frequently take exception to the criticism that they believe in “another Jesus.” A common strategy for refuting this criticism is to list various beliefs that Mormons have about Jesus that agree with the Bible and even with traditional or orthodox Christianity. The LDS apologetics group FAIR, for example, points out that they affirm that Jesus is the Messiah promised in the Old Testament, that Jesus lived a sinless life, that he performed the miracles recorded in the Gospels, and other traditional beliefs about Jesus. Daniel C. Peterson and Stephen D. Ricks presented a table in their book that listed twenty points of belief about Jesus where they clearly agree with the Bible and traditional Christianity: Jesus was born in Bethlehem, Jesus was Jewish, Jesus’ mother was Mary, Jesus taught in the temple, Jesus held no public office, and more (Offenders for a Word: How Anti-Mormons Play Word Games to Attack the Latter-day Saints [Aspen Books, 1992], 58).

I think it is quite reasonable for Mormons to point out that they do share some beliefs about Jesus in common with traditional Christians. If it’s not sufficient for critics to list only the differences, however, it’s also not sufficient for apologists to list only the similarities. Perhaps it would be helpful to list both the similarities and the differences in order to get a more accurate picture of the situation.

That’s what I have tried to do in my response to chapter 11 of Gospel Principles. It’s the latest installment of our Gospel Principles Scripture Study Guide, a free online resource that provides a chapter-by-chapter analysis and response to the LDS doctrinal manual. I explain why Joseph Fielding Smith was correct when he stated that Latter-day Saints “part paths with historical Christianity” in their view of Jesus Christ on a number of crucial issues. I also agree with him that “there is no salvation in the worship of a false Christ.” I list a dozen different issues on which Mormons and orthodox Christians agree, and ten issues on which LDS doctrine differs from the teaching of the Bible.

By the way, I don’t think (and I don’t know anyone else who does, either) that Mormons believe in a literally existing but different Jesus than the one who is the central figure of the New Testament. That is, we don’t think that there’s some other guy out there named Jesus that the Mormons are following by mistake. When Paul warned about those who preach “another Jesus” (2 Cor. 11:4), he was warning about those whose teaching about Jesus fatally distorted the truth about him. In a sense, it’s “the same Jesus,” but a fundamentally different understanding of his identity, nature, work, or message, against which Paul is warning. Likewise, our concern about the LDS Church is that its teaching about Jesus Christ gravely distorts the truth about Jesus.

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, June 15th, 2010 at 2:55 pm and is filed under Christology, Mormonism. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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