Some time ago I was told that Mormons believed in a different Jesus than the rest of Christianity. At first I took great offense to this comment. I was quick to defend the Christian validity of Mormonism. But as the years have passed, I am in agreement.
No, Mormons do not believe that two different guys named Jesus walked the Earth both claiming to be the Savior of the World. No, Mormons do not believe that Joseph Smith is a modern-day Jesus who deserves the same honor and glory that can only be placed upon Deity. But there are significant theological differences between Mormonism and many other Christian denominations, regarding Jesus The Christ, that are so significant that I am convinced that Mormons do believe in a different Jesus.
Of course there are many similarities in beliefs about Jesus Christ. Mormons believe He was born of the Virgin Mary, He performed miracles of every kind, that He fulfilled the prophecies of old by atoning for the sins of all mankind and was resurrected three days after His crucifixion. Mormons believe, as does all of Christianity that love, forgiveness, charity, compassion as taught in the Lords Prayer and the sermon on the mount replace “an eye for an eye” Mosaic practices. This includes loving our enemies and those of different religious and political persuasions. As a central point of gospel belief Mormons believe that only through the grace of Christ’s atoning sacrifice can mankind be redeemed from sin enabling us to live with God after this life. In fact, there are more similarities than differences. But the differences, make all the difference.
Here are four beliefs about Jesus Christ unique to the Mormon faith:
- His grace is sufficient for all. Many Christians believe that those who do not accept Christ as their Savior or are baptized will be condemned to hell. Mormons do believe that Baptism is a required ordinance for salvation and is the outward expression of accepting Christ. Everyone knows that there are people who have never heard and never will hear of Christ making it impossible for them to accept him. This includes children who die at an early age, those who have lived in times and places where the Gospel of Christ was not available, and even disabled persons who do not have the ability to discern right from wrong – as if they had the mind of an infant or toddler. Mormons believe that Christ came to make all things whole, even the opportunity to accept Him as our Savior. If that opportunity was not available in mortality, it will be available post mortality.
- He has a body. The resurrection was not a token event to demonstrate that he is the Son of God and Redeemer of the World. It was an essential event in becoming like his Father. Christ is a personage of flesh and bone. He is an immortal being and having conquered death, all will be resurrected and stand before him and confess that he is the Savior.
- He is separate from his Father. While much of Christianity believes the Father, Son and Holy Ghost are one being, Mormons believe they are three distinct individuals. Christ’s intercessory prayer during the last supper, his prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, and post resurrection visits to his Apostles and other disciples, Stephens vision of Christ standing on the right hand of God, and in modern times, his appearance with the Father to Joseph Smith are all cited evidences of Christ being unique from God the Father. Mormons often refer to God the Father as God, or Heavenly Father and to Jesus Christ as The Son, Jesus Christ or simply Jesus. The oneness Christ refered to in the intercessory prayer is the perfect explanation on how Mormons believe God the Father and Jesus Christ are one. One in purpose.
- He is not silent. Some believe that the Bible contains the final words of God/Jesus Christ. Mormons do not. Mormons believe that Christ continues to lead and guide his church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints through revelation.