IS MORMONISM A CHRISTIAN RELIGION?
I’ve had the privilege of going to Utah on two different occasions to share the gospel of Jesus door to door with Mormons. Some have wondered why I would do such a thing. They ask “Aren’t Mormons already Christians?” It is surprising how many people do not understand the real teachings of Mormonism, especially since the founders (Joseph Smith and Brigham Young) spent so much time trying to make themselves clear.
What is the truth about Mormonism? I’ve met many Mormons that I have truly enjoyed getting to know; they are usually kind, gracious people. We’ve had several come to our home over the years and have always found them to be courteous and engaging. Mormons typically bring a Bible with them and want to talk about Jesus. This raises the obvious question: is Mormonism just another Christian denomination? While most Mormons are certainly sincere and compassionate, the real issue is what Mormonism teaches about Jesus (which is always the real issue with any religious movement that makes absolute truth claims).
Having read a lot of Mormon literature, what follows is a short summary of what Mormonism teaches. What I will present below is rooted in the original teachings of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young.
Mormonism teaches that Jesus is a created being, the literal offspring of God the Father and one of His heavenly wives. According to Mormon theology, God the Father, Elohim, dwells on a planet with His many spirit wives producing numerous spirit children who are waiting to inhabit physical bodies, so that they too may one day ascend to godhood as their parents did.
Jesus is believed to be the firstborn spirit child of Elohim. The Doctrine and Covenants, one of the four sacred books of Mormonism states, “Christ, the Firstborn, was the mightiest of all the spirit children of the Father” (93:21-23). Brigham Young taught that Adam was resurrected as a god, and had sexual relations with the virgin Mary resulting in the birth of Jesus (cf. The Journal of Discourses, vol 1; 50-51). The current LDS Church in Utah now downplays this doctrine of Brigham Young, but there can be no doubt that Brigham taught it. And Brigham also claimed to be a prophet of God whose pronouncements were as good as Scripture. Brigham was clearly a polytheist—that is he believed in many gods. Mormonism remains polytheistic at its core. This means that Mormon theology, in its DNA, is a massive departure from biblical theology. Mormonism is not Christian in any sense of the term historically.
The Mormon doctrine of Jesus is significantly different from the Bible, which teaches that Jesus is eternal and not procreated. Although Mormons teach that Jesus is eternal, what they mean is that He existed as a spirit child prior to His incarnation. Being an offspring of Elohim means He was created at some point in time, making Him no different than any other faithful Mormon male.
Mormonism also teaches that Jesus and Lucifer are spirit brothers. The late, prominent Mormon theologian Bruce McConkie stated, “The appointment of Jesus to be the Savior of the worlds was contested by one of the other sons of God. He was called Lucifer, son of the morning. Haughty, ambitious, and covetous of power and glory, this spirit-brother of Jesus desperately tried to become the savior of mankind.” McConkie, Mormon Doctrine; 193.
Mormonism also teaches that Jesus was married to multiple women at once—they teach that Jesus was married to at least three women. Although Mormons today try to distance themselves from this teaching, it is clearly a part of their historical record. Orson Hyde, one of the original “Twelve Apostles” of the Mormon Church and who was ordained by Joseph Smith himself, writes, “Jesus was the bridegroom at the marriage of Cana of Galilee, and He told them what to do. Now there was actually a marriage; and if Jesus was not the bridegroom on that occasion, please tell who was. I shall say here, that before the Savior died, He looked upon his own natural children as we look upon ours.” Journal of Discourses, vol. 2; 89.
Mormonism teaches that Jesus was not only married, but that He had a family. However, according to the New Testament, there is no evidence to indicate that Jesus was married or that He had children. It is even more inconceivable that He would enter into a polygamous relationship, for it was not God’s intended will for marriage.
The bottom line is that a simple study of Mormonism reveals that the “Jesus of Mormonism” is not the Jesus of the Bible. The “Mormon Jesus” teaches that He was not eternal God, that He was procreated as the first spirit child of the Father, that He is a spirit brother of Lucifer, and was begotten of the Father through physical relations with Mary. For these reasons we cannot consider the Mormon teachings on Christ to be consistent with the New Testament. The Apostle Paul warns us in 2 Corinthians 11 to beware of “another Jesus” and “another gospel. Just because someone comes to our door with a Bible and wants to talk about “Jesus” does not mean they are representing the Jesus of the Bible. We need to reach out to Mormons, in love, to share the real gospel of our crucified, risen Savior.