The Latter-day Saint View of Jesus Christ

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Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, sometimes erroneously called the Mormon Church, worship Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Latter-day Saints believe that all things that have ever been created were created through and by Jesus Christ, and that His is the only name through which we may be saved. Latter-day Saints believe that He is the Only Begotten Son of God in the flesh, that He was born of a virgin, Mary, in Bethlehem, and that He suffered in Gethsemane and then was crucified, taking upon Himself the sins of all mankind, if they would only believe in Him and repent. Latter-day Saints believe that Christ was the first fruits of the resurrection and guaranteed the resurrection of all living things; a free gift to us.

Jesus Christ Mormonism

In fact, Latter-day Saints beliefs and the beliefs of most other sects of Christianity, even "traditional" Christianity, differ only on two important points—whether Jesus Christ was a created being, and whether a belief in the Trinity—God, Christ, and the Holy Ghost being of the same substance and God being incorporeal—is necessary to be called a Christian.

We don't know how many years the universe has existed; perhaps billions, perhaps more; perhaps it has always existed in some form, but the doctrine of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ teaches that we all are eternal beings. We existed first as intelligences; then God the Father organized our spirits. We lived with Him as His spirit children in a premortal realm for an unknown, but perhaps very long period of time. Latter-day Saint doctrine calls this our "first estate." As spirit children of God, we had our agency to choose right from wrong. God revealed to us His plan for our salvation. His desire was for us to become more like Him. His plan is for our eternal progression, so it is often called the Plan of Progression, or God's Plan of Happiness.

Latter-day Saint doctrine teaches that Jesus Christ, the firstborn spirit, was preeminent among all the God's spirit children. He was chosen and ordained to be the one and only Savior and Redeemer of the human race.

In the premortal spirit realm Jesus Christ offered to become our Savior. The plan of progression demanded that there be a time of testing out of the presence of God, and that we take upon ourselves mortal bodies through which we could be tested. Mortality would be a time of learning, a time of trial, but also a time of forging eternal relationships with other people and forming families with eternal potential. God knew we would fall short of qualifying to return to His presence, since no unclean thing can dwell there. He knew we would sin, and He knew Adam and Eve would fall. To overcome the fall, to bring us the gift of resurrection and immortality, and to redeem us from our sins, Christ in the flesh would offer Himself as a ransom. He would atone for our sins, if we would only repent and believe in Him.

According to Latter-day Saint belief and scriptural record, as well as modern revelation, there was another spirit in the premortal realm who offered to be Heavenly Father's emissary. His name was Lucifer, and he was a powerful, charismatic spirit, whose pride nevertheless outstripped his intelligence. He offered a plan in which not one soul would be lost, but he wanted God's glory for himself. He willfully rebelled against God. His plan not to lose one soul would either entail force, or placing heaven so obviously before our eyes that there would be no need for faith — no test, no error, no effort, no progress. This would have destroyed the agency so central to God's plan. Lucifer's rebellion to God's plan was rejected and he was cast out with those who followed him—one-third of the hosts of heaven. (See The War in Heaven and Satan's Continuing Battle for Power.) They became Satan and his devils who continue to oppose God's plan and seek to destroy the agency of those who followed Christ and came to live on the earth.

The Godhead

The first Article of Faith of the Church of Jesus Christ is “We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.”

"Latter-day Saints reject the doctrines of the Trinity as taught by most Christian churches today. These creeds were canonized in the fourth and fifth centuries AD and do not reflect the thinking or beliefs of the New Testament church."

These are the introductory sentences of an article written by Daniel Peterson and Stephen D. Ricks [1] regarding first century Christianity and the biblical view of God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost. Latter-day Saints call Jesus Christ Jehovah, the "God of the Old Testament." When God speaks in the Old Testament, it is most often the voice of the premortal Christ. Latter-day Saints believe that God is One, as Jews recited in their shema. The Godhead is defined as one, opposing the pagan belief in many gods, each with a different purpose and often competing. Even Judaism has a place for ruach hakodesh, the holy ghost, and Jewish mysticism even proposes metatron, in essence, the doer of all God's will. Latter-day Saints see three separate beings in the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist, wherein the Holy Ghost descended as a dove, the voice of God was heard from heaven, and Christ was in the water; also at the crucifixion when the dying Christ addressed His Father in the familiar, abba ("Daddy"), and in the vision of Stephen as he was martyred. Jesus Christ referred to and prayed to His Father often.

The term "Christian" appears to have been first used for followers of Christ in Antioch (Acts 11:26). The word was probably devised by non-Christians. The idea of a Trinity — three beings of one substance — evolved over centuries and was not formulated until the councils of bishops. The idea was never unanimous among followers of Christ or among leaders of orthodoxy.

"For the most part, these creeds—the most famous of which is the Nicene Creed—were canonized in the fourth and fifth centuries A.D. following centuries of debate about the nature of the Godhead. Consequently, it is highly questionable whether these creeds reflect the thinking or beliefs of the New Testament church. 'The exact theological definition of the doctrine of the Trinity,' notes J. R. Dummelow, 'was the result of a long process of development, which was not complete until the fifth century, or maybe even later.' [1] As Bill Forrest remarks, 'To insist that a belief in the Trinity is requisite to being Christian, is to acknowledge that for centuries after the New Testament was completed thousands of Jesus’ followers were in fact not really ‘Christian.’

Can We Become Like God?

The idea that we can become like God, actually, that this is God's intent for us, is called theosis. It is not a new idea but is found in the Bible and among most early Christian leaders and among many modern theologians (the idea going in and out of vogue in modern times in many Christian sects).

"As even a cursory glance at early Christian thought reveals, the idea that man might become as God—known in Greek as theosis or theopoiesis—may be found virtually everywhere, from the New Testament through the writings of the first four centuries. Church members take seriously such passages as Psalm 82:6 [Ps. 82:6], John 10:33–36, and Philippians 2:5–6 [Philip. 2:5–6], in which a plurality of gods and the idea of becoming like God are mentioned."
"The notion of theosis is characteristic of church fathers Irenaeus (second century A.D.), Clement of Alexandria (third century A.D.), and Athanasius (fourth century A.D.)." [2]
"Though the idea of human deification waned in the Western church in the Middle Ages, it remained very much alive in the Eastern Orthodox faith, which includes such Christian sects today as the Greek Orthodox and Russian Orthodox churches. [2] Jaroslav Pelikan notes, “The chief idea of St. Maximus, as of all Eastern theology, [was] the idea of deification.” [3]

The idea of theosis shows that God loves His children. We are promised that we may become co-heirs with Christ. How much more can God give us? This does not diminish Christ in any way. He will remain our Creator and Savior. "The phrase 'Only Begotten Son' occurs with its variants at least ten times in the Book of Mormon, fourteen times in the Doctrine and Covenants, and nineteen times in the Pearl of Great Price. Basic to Latter-day Saint theology is the uniqueness of Jesus Christ as the Only Begotten Son of the Father in the flesh."

The Book of Mormon as a Second Witness of Jesus Christ

Book of Mormon

The Book of Mormon record opens in 600 B.C., and in the beginning pages prophets see visions of the coming of Christ — His birth, death, and resurrection. From then on, the prophets in America leading a branch of Israelites predict the coming of Christ, and also teach of His redeeming grace.

Says the prophet Nephi:

"And thou hast beheld in thy youth his glory; wherefore, thou art blessed even as they unto whom he shall minister in the flesh; for the Spirit is the same, yesterday, today, and forever. And the way is prepared from the fall of man, and salvation is free" (2 Nephi 2:4).
"Wherefore, my beloved brethren, reconcile yourselves to the will of God, and not to the will of the devil and the flesh; and remember, after ye are reconciled unto God, that it is only in and through the grace of God that ye are saved" (2 Nephi 10:24).
"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 25:26).

Book of Mormon prophets prophesied of signs of Christ's birth and signs of His death. After His death and resurrection, Christ visited these people and taught them, and organized His church as He had in the Holy Land. Being more righteous than the Jews in Israel, Christ performed many miracles among these "other sheep," and the record of His visit is marvelous to read.

"And when he had said these words, he wept, and the multitude bare record of it, and he took their little children, one by one, and blessed them, and prayed unto the Father for them. And when he had done this he wept again; And he spake unto the multitude, and said unto them: Behold your little ones. And as they looked to behold they cast their eyes towards heaven, and they saw the heavens open, and they saw angels descending out of heaven as it were in the midst of fire; and they came down and encircled those little ones about, and they were encircled about with fire; and the angels did minister unto them" (3 Nephi 17:21–24).
"And it came to pass that he did teach and minister unto the children of the multitude of whom hath been spoken, and he did loose their tongues, and they did speak unto their fathers great and marvelous things, even greater than he had revealed unto the people; and he loosed their tongues that they could utter" (3 Nephi 26:14).

Jesus Christ witnessed to these people of His birth, death, and resurrection. The Book of Mormon is a second testament of Jesus Christ.

More Information about the Ministry of Jesus Christ

Presidentt Joseph F. Smith beheld a vision of the Spirit World, where the spirits of men and women go after death to await resurrection and judgment. He beheld the ministry of Christ to these spirits during the three days that Christ was in the tomb. This revelation is a magnificent gift to broaden the understanding of devoted Christians everywhere, who should be eager to read it. (To read the revelation, click here.)


  1. Cited by Bill Forrest, “Are Mormons Christians?” Mormon Miscellaneous Response Series (Salt Lake City: Mormon Miscellaneous, n.d.).
  2. See G. I. Mantzarides, The Deification of Man: Saint Gregory Palamas and Orthodox Tradition, trans. Liadain Sherrard (Crestwood, N.Y.: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1984)
  3. The Spirit of Eastern Christendom, p. 10.