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Think About Eternity - Mormonism and Christianity Comparison

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1. "… Even from everlasting to everlasting, Thou art God" (Psalm 90:2). "Thy throne is established of old: Thou art from everlasting (Psalm 93:2). "… Thou, O Lord art our Father, our Redeemer; thy name is from everlasting" (Isaiah 63:16). <Return>
2. Joseph Smith taught, "God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man … I am going to tell you how God came to be God. We have imagined and supposed that God was God from all eternity. I will refute the idea.… What did Jesus do? Why; I do the things I saw my Father do when worlds came rolling into existence. My Father worked out his kingdom with fear and trembling, and I must do the same; and when I get my kingdom, I shall present it to my Father.… He will then take a higher exaltation, and I will take his place, and thereby become exalted myself" (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 345–48). <Return>
3. "Know therefore this day, and consider it in thine heart, that the Lord he is God [Yahweh (Jehovah) he is Elohim] in heaven above, and upon the earth beneath: there is none else" (Deuteronomy 4:39). "Thus saith the Lord [Yahweh] the King of Israel, and his redeemer the Lord [Yahweh] of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God [Elohim]" (Isaiah 44:6). <Return>
4. Joseph Smith taught, "… You have got to learn how to be Gods yourselves, and to be kings and priests to God, the same as all Gods have done before you … " (Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 348). "Sons of God who exalt themselves to be Gods, even from before the foundation of the world, and [sic] are the only Gods I have a reverence for" (Ibid., p. 375). "… There is an infinite number of holy personages, drawn from worlds without number, who have passed on to exaltation, and are thus gods" (McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 577). <Return>
5. "Know ye that the Lord he is God [Yahweh he is Elohim]: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves …" (Psalm 100:3). "Thus saith the Lord [Yahweh], thy redeemer, and he that formed thee from the womb, I am the Lord [Yahweh] that maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself" (Isaiah 44:24). "All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made" (John 1:3). "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 1:16). Satan is a created being (Ezekiel 28:15), and is thus a creation (initially perfect) of Christ the Creator, not Christ's brother. <Return>
6. On Christ Being Created, and On Satan Being the Spirit-brother of Christ: 

A. First, it must be understood that in Mormonism there is a sense in which neither Christ nor any human was created, but all are eternally self-existent as some basic elemental form of intelligence. Joseph Smith taught, "We say that God himself is a self-existent being.… Man does exist upon the same principles.… The mind or intelligence which man possesses is co-equal with God himself.… The intelligence of spirits had no beginning, neither will it have an end.… There never was a time when there were not spirits; for they are co-equal with our Father in heaven.… All the fools and learned and wise men from the beginning of creation, who say that the spirit of man had a beginning, prove that it must have an end.… I might with boldness proclaim from the house-tops that God never had the power to create the spirit of man at all, God himself could not create himself" (Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 352–4). When Mormons claim they believe Christ is an uncreated being they are using the root word create in the ex nihilo sense — He was not brought into existence out of non-existence. This acknowledgement, however, is something of a subterfuge. It employs the root word create in a sense normally not used by Mormons. Moreover, it does nothing to distinguish Christ, within the overall context of Mormon doctrine, from other intelligent beings; it does not confer to Him any unique quality not possessed by all others.  

B. Second, it must be understood that when Mormons speak of creation, they do not usually mean creation ex nihilo, out of nothing. They refer, rather, to the idea of simply controlling self-existent matter sufficiently to organize it in such a way as suits the "creator," and/or to be so worthy of honor that matter and intelligence willingly obey. Joseph Smith taught, "Now the word create came from the word baurau which does not mean to create out of nothing; it means to organize; the same as a man would organize materials and build a ship. Hence, we infer that God had materials to organize the world out of chaos — chaotic matter, which is element, and in which dwells all the glory. Element had an existence from the time he had. The pure principles of element are principles which can never be destroyed; they may be organized and re-organized, but not destroyed. They had no beginning, and can have no end" (Ibid., pp. 350–2). "The organization of the spiritual and heavenly worlds, and of spiritual and heavenly beings, was agreeable to the most perfect order and harmony: their limits and bounds were fixed irrevocably, and voluntarily subscribed to in their heavenly estate by themselves…" (Ibid., p. 325).  

C. Employing the sense of create as usually understood and intended by Mormons, i.e., to organize, Mormon doctrine teaches that Christ indeed is a created being. That is, there was a time when His self-existent elemental intelligence was "organized" and "added upon" by other, previously "organized" beings. He obtained an existence as a "spirit child," the first-born spirit child, of Elohim, "God the Father." The means by which this was brought to pass was sexual procreation by God the Father and one of His wives, "… for there is no other process of creation in heaven, on the earth, in the earth, or under the earth, or in all the eternities, that is, that were, or that ever will be" (Young, Journal of Discourses, vol. 11, p. 122). "Among the spirit children of Elohim, the first-born was and is Jehovah, or Jesus Christ, to whom all others are juniors" (Smith, Gospel Doctrine, p. 70). "We believe absolutely that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, begotten of God, the first-born in the spirit and the only begotten in the flesh; that He is the Son of God just as much as you and I are the sons of our fathers (President Heber J. Grant, Millenial Star, p. 2). The First Presidency of the Church declared, "There is no impropriety, therefore, in speaking of Jesus Christ as the Elder Brother of the rest of human kind" (J. R. Clarke, ed., Messages of the First Presidency, vol. 5, p. 34). 

D. Mormon doctrine teaches that Christ is the Creator of this world, and so again, this sounds Christian. However, when Mormons acknowledge Christ as Creator, they are employing the sense of create as usually understood and intended by Mormons, i.e., to organize, not to create out of nothing. As such, Christ's "creative power" is not something intrinsic to His nature, but something He has acquired. It does not distinguish Him from other intelligent beings except as He has acquired it earlier (and later) than some others. Though he acquired it before any other humans born on this earth, according to Mormon doctrine it is nevertheless a power available to all humans who will apply themselves diligently to learning and obeying divine principles. 

E. On Satan as spirit-brother of Christ: "The appointment of Jesus to be the Savior of the world 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" (Hunter, The Gospel Through the Ages, p. 15). <Return>

7. "Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph her husband, being a just [man], and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. (Matthew 1:18–20). "And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God" (Luke 1:35). <Return>
8. President Brigham Young taught, "When the virgin Mary conceived the child Jesus, the Father had begotten him in his own likeness. He was not begotten by the Holy Ghost" (Journal of Discourses, vol. 1, p. 50). "When the time came that His first-born, the Saviour, should come into the world and take a tabernacle, the Father came Himself and favoured that spirit with a tabernacle instead of letting any other man do it. The Saviour was begotten by the Father of His spirit, by the same Being who is the Father of our spirits…" (Ibid., vol. 4, p. 218). "The birth of the Saviour was as natural as are the births of our children; it was the result of natural action. He partook of flesh and blood — was begotten of His Father, as we were of our fathers" (Ibid., vol. 8, p. 115). 

Apostle Orson Pratt taught, "…It was the personage of the Father who begat the body of Jesus; and for this reason Jesus is called 'the Only Begotten of the Father;' that is, the only one in this world whose fleshly body was begotten by the Father.… The fleshly body of Jesus required a Mother as well as a Father. Therefore, the Father and Mother of Jesus, according to the flesh, must have been associated together in the capacity of Husband and Wife; hence the Virgin Mary must have been, for the time being, the lawful wife of God the Father.…God having created all men and women, had the most perfect right to do with His own creation, according to His holy will and pleasure: He had a lawful right to overshadow the Virgin Mary in the capacity of a husband, and beget a Son, although she was espoused to another; for the law which He gave to govern men and women was not intended to govern Himself, or to prescribe rules for His own conduct. It was also lawful in Him, after having thus dealt with Mary, to give her to Joseph her espoused husband. Whether God the Father gave Mary to Joseph for time only, or for time and eternity, we are not informed. Inasmuch as God was the first husband to her, it may be that He only gave her to be the wife of Joseph while in this mortal state, and that He intended after the resurrection to again take her as one of His own wives to raise up immortal spirits in eternity" (The Seer, p. 158). 

President Joseph Fielding Smith taught, "Our Father in heaven is the Father of Jesus Christ, both in the spirit and in the flesh.…I believe firmly that Jesus Christ is the Only Begotten Son of God in the flesh.…not as the Son of the Holy Ghost, but the Son of God.…Christ was begotten of God. He was not born without the aid of Man, and that Man was God!" (Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 1. p. 18). 

Apostle Bruce R. McConkie taught, "And Christ was born into the world as the literal Son of this Holy Being; he was born in the same personal, real, and literal sense that any mortal son is born to a mortal father. There is nothing figurative about his paternity; he was begotten, conceived and born in the normal and natural course of events, for he is the Son of God, and that designation means what it says" (Mormon Doctrine, p. 742). "Christ was begotten by an Immortal Father in the same way that mortal men are begotten by mortal fathers" (Ibid., p. 547). 

President Ezra Taft Benson taught, "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints proclaims that Jesus Christ is the Son of God in the most literal sense. The body in which He performed His mission in the flesh was sired by that same Holy Being we worship as God our Eternal Father. Jesus was not the son of Joseph, nor was He begotten by the Holy Ghost. He is the Son of the Eternal Father!" (Come Unto Christ, p. 4). <Return>

9. The Bible nowhere declares Jesus to have been married. He was an invited guest at the marriage in Cana (John 2:2). <Return>
10. Apostle Orson Hyde taught, "[having just read the account of the wedding in Cana from the Bible] Gentlemen, that is as plain as the translators, or different councils over this Scripture, dare allow it to go to the world, but the thing is there; it is told; 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. If any man can show this, and prove that it was not the Savior of the world, then I will acknowledge I am in error. We say it was Jesus Christ who was married, to be brought into the relation whereby he could see his seed, before he was crucified. …Well, then, he shall see his seed, and who shall declare his generation, for he was cut off from the earth? I shall say here, that before the Savior died, he looked upon his own natural children, as we look upon ours; he saw his seed…" (Journal of Discourses, vol. 2, p. 82). "I discover that some of the Eastern papers represent me as a great blasphemer, because I said, in my lecture on Marriage, at our last Conference, that Jesus Christ was married at Cana of Galilee, that Mary, Martha, and others were his wives, and that he begat children. All that I have to say in reply to that charge is this — they worship a Savior that is too pure and holy to fulfil the commands of his Father. I worship one that is just pure and holy enough 'to fulfil all righteousness;" not only the righteous law of baptism, but the still more righteous and important law "to multiply and replenish the earth.' Startle not at this! for even the Father himself honored that law by coming down to Mary, without a natural body, and begetting a son; and if Jesus begat children, he only 'did that which he had seen his Father do.'" (Journal of Discourses, vol. 2, p. 210). <Return>
11. Christ made only one sacrifice for sins, not two. That sacrifice was His death on the cross. 

"By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified." (Hebrews 10:10–14). 

"For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God" (1 Corinthians 1:17, 18). 

"But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world" (Galatians 6:14). 

"And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven" (Colossians 1:20) 

"Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed" (1 Peter 2:24). <Return>

12. "And lo, he shall suffer temptations, and pain of body, hunger, thirst, and fatigue, even more than man can suffer, except it be unto death; for behold blood cometh from every pore, so great shall be his anguish for the wickedness and the abominations of his people" (Book of Mormon, Mosiah 3:7). 

"For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent; But if they would not repent, they must suffer even as I; Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit — and would that I might not drink the bitter cup and shrink — Nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men" (Doctrine and Covenants 19:16–19). 

"Christ's agony in the garden is unfathomable by the finite mind, both as to intensity and cause.… It was not physical pain, nor mental anguish alone, that caused Him to suffer such torture as to produce an extrusion of blood from every pore; but a spiritual agony of soul such as only God was capable of experiencing.… In some manner, actual and terribly real though to man incomprehensible, the Savior took upon Himself the burden of the sins of mankind from Adam to the end of the world.… From the terrible conflict in Gethsemane, Christ emerged a victor.… The further tragedy of the night, and the cruel inflictions that awaited Him on the morrow, to culminate in the frightful tortures of the cross, could not exceed the bitter anguish through which He had Successfully passed" (James Talmage, Jesus the Christ, pp. 613–14). 

"Forgiveness is available because Christ the Lord sweat great drops of blood in Gethsemane as he bore the incalculable weight of the sins of all who ever had or ever would repent.… The atonement is … written for all to read in the wracked body and the spilt blood of the one perfect man who bowed in agony alone, in a garden outside Jerusalem's walls" (Bruce R. McConkie, The Promised Messiah, pp. 337–8). 

"Thus ends such accounts as we have of Jesus' suffering in Gethsemane. It is now over and he has won the victory; the atonement, in large measure, has been worked out, and he is now ready for the shame and humiliation and pain of the cross" (McConkie, The Mortal Messiah, vol. 4, p. 126). 

"Our Lord's sufferings -- the pain, torture, crown of thorns, scourging, and final crucifixion -- which he endured between the night of the Last Supper and his death on the cross are collectively spoken of as the Passion of Christ. The sectarian world falsely suppose that the climax of his torture and suffering was on the cross — a view which they keep ever before them by the constant use of the cross as a religious symbol. The fact is that intense and severe as the suffering was on the cross, yet the great pains were endured in the Garden of Gethsemane. It was there that he trembled because of pain, bled at every pore, and suffered both in body and in spirit, and would that he 'might not drink the bitter cup.' It was there he underwent his greatest suffering for men, taking upon himself, as he did, their sins on conditions of repentance" (McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 555). 

McConkie and other leaders do mention the cross from time to time by including it, with Gethsemane, as part of the Atonement. This of course creates the problem of "two sacrifices," one in the garden, and another on the cross. The Bible is clear, there was only one sacrifice (see #11, above). <Return>

13. "Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works" (Romans 4:4–6). 

"But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised [us] up together, and made [us] sit together in heavenly [places] in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in [his] kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast" (Ephesians 2:4–9). 

"But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things [but] loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them [but] dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith" (Philippians 3:7–9). 

"Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life" (Titus 3:5–7). <Return>

14. "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" (Book of Mormon, Moroni, 10:32, 33; emphasis added). 

"And no unclean thing can enter into his kingdom; therefore nothing entereth into his rest save it be those who have washed their garments in my blood, because of their faith, and the repentance of all their sins, and their faithfulness unto the end" (3 Nephi 27:19; emphasis added). 

"By this ye may know if a man repenteth of his sins — behold, he will confess them and forsake them" (Doctrine & Covenants, 58:43; emphasis added). 

In his tract called Repentance Brings Forgiveness, Mormon prophet Spencer W. Kimball quoted the last verse above. Immediately following, he wrote, "The forsaking of sin must be a permanent one. True repentance does not permit making the same mistake again." <Return>

15. "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus" (Romans 3:23–4). 

"For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:38–9; emphasis added). 

"Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet [i.e. Who has qualified us] 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.… And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; " (Colossians 1:12, 13; 2:13, 14; emphasis added). 

"But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them" (Hebrews 7:24–5). <Return>

16. "Immortality connotes life without end. Eternal life, on the other hand, connotes quality of life — exaltation, the highest type of immortality, the kind of life enjoyed by God himself. It is in the attainment of eternal life, which man must earn in mortality, that he reaches his full potentiality" (Marion G. Romney, of the First Presidency, at General Conference, October 1978, Ensign, November, 1978, p. 14). 

"Man's immortality and eternal life are God's goals. (Moses 1:39.) Immortality has been accomplished by the Savior's sacrifice. Eternal life hangs in the balance awaiting the works of men. This progress toward eternal life is a matter of achieving perfection. Living all the commandments guarantees total forgiveness of sins and assures one of exaltation through that perfection which comes by complying with the formula the Lord gave us.… " (Spencer W. Kimball, The Miracle of Forgiveness, pp. 208–10; emphasis added). 

In his tract called Repentance Brings Forgiveness, Kimball outlined the "five steps of repentance" necessary for forgiveness of sins. Step 2, "forsake the sin and not repeat it." Step 5, "live all the commandments of the Lord" (emphasis added). <Return>

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