Mormon Beliefs: Jesus Christ
Jesus Christ is the central figure of Mormon doctrine and practice. His is the central name in the true name of the Mormon Church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Every converted member of the Church (often referred to as a "Mormon") holds a firm testimony that Jesus Christ is the Savior and Redeemer of the world, and a knowledge that only through His sacrifice in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross can mortal man be saved in the Kingdom of God. Jesus Christ and His teachings are the central focus of all Mormon scripture, the Book of Mormon, the Bible, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price.
We bear testimony, as His duly ordained Apostles—that Jesus is the Living Christ, the immortal Son of God. He is the great King Immanuel, who stands today on the right hand of His Father. He is the light, the life, and the hope of the world. His way is the path that leads to happiness in this life and eternal life in the world to come.
Mormons are believers in the divine mission of Jesus of Nazareth and followers of His teachings. Many anti-Mormons and ex-Mormons attack the Church and claim that it is not Christian, because its teachings about Jesus differ from mainstream, traditional Christian teachings. There are, of course, differences between Mormon doctrine and Protestant and Catholic teachings, just as there are differences among the various Christian denominations. Mormonism teaches that its doctrines were restored to earth by Jesus Himself through living prophets after many centuries of apostasy in the world. Mormonism rejects the various medieval and modern creeds promulgated by the Christian world after Christ's death, because the Mormon Church has revelations from God Himself about who He is.
- 1 Mormon Doctrine about Jesus
- 1.1 Jesus is Jehovah
- 1.2 Jesus is the Christ
- 1.3 Jesus is our Savior
- 2 Mormonism is Christian
- 3 External Links
Mormon Doctrine about Jesus
Mormons teach that Jesus Christ is Jehovah, as revealed in the Old Testament. He is the Messiah who came to earth as Jesus of Nazareth, whose life and teachings are recorded in the New Testament.
Jesus is Jehovah
He was the Great Jehovah of the Old Testament.
The Bible is sufficient to show that Jesus Christ is the same person as Jehovah in the Old Testament. "God" in the Old Testament often refers to Jesus Christ, and the term is used interchangeably to speak of God the Father and Jesus Christ, the Son.
The earth is the LORD's[i.e. Jehovah’s], and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. For he hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods.
- ~Psalms 24:1-2
[God] Hath in these last days spoken unto us by [his] Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;
- ~Hebrews 1:2
Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him.
- ~Colossians 1:13-16 (emphasis added)
It is clear, then, that Jesus Christ, Jehovah, created the world under the direction of His Father, our God. Jesus also declares that He gave the Mosaic Law to Israel.
Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.
- ~John 8:58
By declaring Himself as I AM, Jesus was declaring that He was Jehovah. For I AM, as is shown by the quote below from Exodus, is a translation of the Hebrew word for Jehovah which in most English translations is rendered as LORD in all capital letters. The Old Testament further shows that Jehovah is the judge, the lawgiver of Israel, our King and our Savior:
And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.
- ~Exodus 3:14
For the LORD[i.e. Jehovah] is our judge, the LORD is our lawgiver, the LORD is our king; he will save us.
- ~Isaiah 33:22
Before the LORD: for he cometh, for he cometh to judge the earth: he shall judge the world with righteousness, and the people with his truth.
- ~Psalms 96:13
Compare this with the New Testament teaching of Paul:
I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;
- ~2 Timothy 4:1
Jesus is therefore Jehovah since Jehovah (LORD) is the judge and lawgiver as Paul declares Jesus to be. Mormons worship Jesus as King, Savior, and Judge of the world in accordance with the teachings of the Bible.
Jesus is the Christ
Mormon teachings are consistent in proclaiming, as with all of Christianity, that we believe that it was Jesus of Nazareth, who was sentenced to be crucified by Pontius Pilate, He was the promised Messiah, the Savior and Redeemer of mankind, even The Christ, as was foretold by ancient prophets as recorded in the Old Testament, and then testified of by those who witnessed His life's mission in The New Testament, and taught His Gospel that He established while upon the earth. It suffices to say that Mormons believe in the Bible and that, to quote a verse familiar to all Mormons, John 3:16:
- For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life; for God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
- ~John 3:16-17
The Book of Mormon is a Christian Book
Unfortunately, many people are under the false impression that Mormons are not Christian and that the Book of Mormon is not a Christian book. The following quotes, selected from among many, demonstrate the central Christianity of Mormonism and the Book of Mormon:
- And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.
- ~2 Nephi 25:25
- But wo, wo unto him who knoweth that he rebelleth against God! For salvation cometh to none such except it be through repentance and faith on the Lord Jesus Christ.
- ~Mosiah 3:12
- And because of the redemption of man, which came by Jesus Christ, they are brought back into the presence of the Lord; yea, this is wherein all men are redeemed, because the death of Christ bringeth to pass the resurrection, which bringeth to pass a redemption from an endless sleep, from which sleep all men shall be awakened by the power of God when the trump shall sound; and they shall come forth, both small and great, and all shall stand before his bar, being redeemed and loosed from this eternal band of death, which death is a temporal death.
- ~Mormon 9:13
Finally, the closing words of the Book of Mormon are a plea for all people to come unto and accept Christ and be saved through Him:
- Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God. And again, if ye by the grace of God are perfect in Christ, and deny not his power, then are ye sanctified in Christ by the grace of God, through the shedding of the blood of Christ, which is in the covenant of the Father unto the remission of your sins, that ye become holy, without spot.
- ~Moroni 10:32-33
Do Mormons believe in a different Jesus?
There is only one Jesus Christ. Mormons believe in the Jesus whose deeds and teachings are found in the Bible, but Mormon doctrine rejects the creeds and reasonings of post-New Testament Christian theologians. Mormonism teaches that to correct errors in understanding about God, God the Father and Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith in his First Vision, and called him to be a prophet, just as prophets were called in Biblical times, to teach the truth about Jesus and to call all men to repentance.
In a revelation to the Prophet Joseph Smith on January 2, 1831, the Lord Jesus Christ declared who He was:
- Thus saith the Lord your God, even Jesus Christ, the Great I AM, Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the same which looked upon the wide expanse of eternity, and all the seraphic hosts of heaven, before the world was made; The same which knoweth all things, for all things are present before mine eyes; I am the same which spake, and the world was made, and all things came by me. I am the same which have taken the Zion of Enoch into mine own bosom; and verily, I say, even as many as have believed in my name, for I am Christ, and in mine own name, by the virtue of the blood which I have spilt, have I pleaded before the Father for them.
- ~Doctrine and Covenants 38:1-4
This shows the Jesus that Mormons worship: the great I AM, the beginning and the end, the omniscient, omnipotent Creator of the world, the Savior of the world, and man’s advocate with God the Father. The following is Joseph Smith’s testimony of Jesus Christ:
- And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives! For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the 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.
- ~Doctrine and Covenants 76:22-24
It is true that Mormons do not believe in the Trinity as most other Christian Churches do. (See Lightplanet for a comparison of Mormon and Trinitarian views). Mormons believe in three separate beings united in purpose, but not in substance. They believe in a Godhead that is make up of three distinct personages that are one in purpose and will. Jesus Christ is the Son of God the Father. The Holy Ghost is a personage of Spirit, separate from both the Father and the Son. The New Testament contains enough to dispute the Trinitarian doctrine. Jesus declared that “this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” (John 17:3). To know God and Jesus Christ is eternal life, therefore, through the grace and Atonement of Jesus Christ man can know God. This is very different from the unknowable God of the Athanasian Creed which is as follows:
- [O]ne God in trinity and the Trinity in unity, neither confusing the persons nor dividing the divine being. For the Father is one person, the Son is another, and the Spirit is still another. But the deity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is one, equal in glory, coeternal in majesty. What the Father is, the Son is, and so is the Holy Spirit. Uncreated is the Father; uncreated is the Son; uncreated is the Spirit.
Jesus, on the other hand, declares the nature of His unity with the Father:
- Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; that they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one.
- ~John 17:20-22
Jesus declares that His disciples can be one just as He and the Father are one. This oneness is obviously not that they become the same person, but rather oneness in purpose, glory, perfection, and love. This passage also shows Jesus praying to the Father, which would not make sense if He were the Father. Other passages in the New Testament show that Jesus is distinct from the Father:
At the baptism of Jesus all three personages of the Godhead—God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost, were there (Matthew 3:15-17). In the great intercessory prayer recorded in John 17, Jesus prays to the Father. In the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross, Jesus again prayed to the Father and once asked His Father why He had forsaken Him (see Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34). At the Martyrdom of Stephen in Acts 7, Stephen declares, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God” (Acts 7:56).
All these passages make sense only if Jesus and God are separate individuals. In short, the rejection of Trinitarian notions is not a rejection of Jesus Christ. The original saints and Apostles neither taught nor hinted at the doctrine in the later Creeds, and their Christianity is crucical to the claims of all Christian churches.
Jesus is our Savior
Mormon doctrine clearly teaches that Jesus Christ is our Savior. The Book of Mormon states that "there shall be no other name given nor any other way nor means whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent” (Mosiah 3:17). Mormons believe that Jesus Christ set the perfect example for all mankind during His mortal life.
Mormon doctrine teaches that Jesus Christ died for mankind. His suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross, His death, burial, and resurrection constitute the core events of the atonement which brings about the resurrection of all mankind and provides the means of salvation for those who believe and follow Him.
A hymn popular among Mormons declares:
- There is a green hill far away,
- Without a city wall,
- Where the dear Lord was crucified,
- Who died to save us all.
- We may not know, we cannot tell,
- What pains he had to bear,
- But we believe it was for us
- He hung and suffered there.
- There was no other good enough
- To pay the price of sin.
- He only could unlock the gate
- Of heav’n and let us in.
- ("There is a Green Hill Far Away," LDS Hymns, no. 194)
Jesus is the Head of the Church
Mormonism proclaims that Jesus Christ stands at the head of His Church, and that He reveals His commandments and teachings to chosen prophets here on earth. The Bible declares that “Jesus Christ himself [is] the chief corner stone” (Ephesians 3:20). The Book of Mormon explains this even further. Jesus Christ appeared after His resurrection and ascension into heaven to the ancient inhabitants in America. He declared to them,
- Therefore, whatsoever ye shall do, ye shall do it in my name; therefore ye shall call the church in my name; and ye shall call upon the Father in my name that he will bless the church for my sake. And how be it my church save it be called in my name? For if a church be called in Moses' name then it be Moses' church; or if it be called in the name of a man then it be the church of a man; but if it be called in my name then it is my church, if it so be that they are built upon my gospel.
- ~3 Nephi 27:7-8
Thus The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints bears His name.
Jesus is the Firstborn of the Father and the Only Begotten in the flesh
Paul declares that Jesus Christ “is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature” (Colossians 1:15). The Psalms declare “I will make him [my] firstborn, higher than the kings of the earth” (Psalms 89:27). Mormon doctrine teaches that Jesus Christ was the firstborn of all God’s children in the pre-mortal life. Mormons also declare that Jesus is the Only Begotten in the flesh, that He was born of the Virgin Mary in Judea, and lived the only perfect life in the history of the world.
Jesus is the perfect example for all mankind
- Jesus is my friend. None other has given me so much. "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13). He gave His life for me. He opened the way to eternal life. Only a God could do this. I hope that I am deemed worthy of being a friend to Him.
- He is my exemplar. His way of life, His absolutely selfless conduct, His outreach to those in need, His final sacrifice all stand as an example to me. I cannot measure up entirely, but I can try.
- He marked the path and led the way,
- And ev'ry point defines
- To light and life and endless day
- Where God's full presence shines.
- ("How Great the Wisdom and the Love," LDS Hymns, no. 195)
- Wherefore, my beloved brethren, I know that if ye shall follow the Son, with full purpose of heart, acting no hypocrisy and no deception before God, but with real intent, repenting of your sins, witnessing unto the Father that ye are willing to take upon you the name of Christ, by baptism--yea, by following your Lord and your Savior down into the water, according to his word, behold, then shall ye receive the Holy Ghost; yea, then cometh the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost; and then can ye speak with the tongue of angels, and shout praises unto the Holy One of Israel.
- ~2 Nephi 31:13
Jesus will return to earth to rule as King of Kings
The very name of the Mormon Church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, proclaims that these are the latter days and that Jesus will soon return to rule and reign on the earth. Mormonism teaches that Joseph Smith was called as the first prophet in these last days to prepare the earth for Jesus’ Second Coming.
Mormons do not claim to know when Christ will return since, as Jesus said to his disciples,
- But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.
- ~Matthew 24:36
Mormons teach that before the Second Coming there will be wars and conflicts, and natural disasters and the righteous will be saved by Jesus’ sudden return. Jesus will then usher in the Millennium, 1,000 years of peace and righteousness when Jesus Christ himself will rule.
Mormonism is Christian
As these few quotes and statements have shown, Mormonism, the doctrines of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, are purely and perfectly of Christ, and, therefore, are Christian in the most exact sense. Jesus Christ stands at the head of the Church and His glorious teachings and His perfect example form the core of Mormon doctrine and the basis for the testimonies of all Mormons. The message of Mormonism is that Jesus Christ has called prophets in these last days to prepare the world for His imminent return and all are invited to ‘come unto Christ’ and be baptized by His authorized servants.
- Jesus Christ, The Bread of Life
- A dramatization with a message from LDS Prophet Thomas S. Monson
- The LDS Church's official website about the Savior
- A video introducing the Church's new website about the Savior
- Frequently asked questions about the Church
- The Way (General Conference 2008)
- "Are we Christians? Yes!" -- Jeff Lindsay
- Are LDS Christian? -- FAIR Topical Guide
- "Is Mormonism Christian? An Investigation of Definitions" -- Lightplanet
- Do the Saints Have a "Different Jesus"?
- Jesus Christ is Jehovah by David R. Seely -- Lightplanet
- In Christ shall all be made alive
- FAIRlds:Jesus Christ is Lord of the Old Testament
- D. Kelly Ogden, "Proving Christ"