On Monday I blogged about my disagreement with Mormon bishop Nate Sharp’s implication that because there is “one and only one Jesus Christ” the idea that Mormons believe in a “different Jesus” is a myth. Today I want to look again at his blog article and very briefly examine a few of the attributes Dr. Sharp attributed to the Jesus he said Mormons believe in. In his recent article titled “Dispelling 5 More Myths About Mormons,” Dr. Sharp stated,
“Myth #1: Mormons believe in a ‘different Jesus.’
“One myth about Mormons is the notion that we believe in a ‘different Jesus.’ In reality, of course, there is one and only one Jesus Christ. Jesus of Nazareth, whose life, ministry, Atonement, death, and resurrection are recounted in the New Testament, is the center of our faith in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Mormons worship and accept Jesus Christ as King of kings, Lord of lords, Creator of the universe, the promised Messiah, the Son of God, and the Savior and Redeemer of all mankind. Jesus is the ‘author and finisher of our faith’ (Hebrews 12:2) and ‘the way, the truth, and the life’ (John 14:6). We believe His is the only name under heaven whereby mankind can be saved.”
Dr. Sharp’s description of Mormonism’s view of Jesus Christ is filled with biblical words and quotes, giving the impression that Mormonism’s “different Jesus” is the same Jesus that is revealed in the New Testament. But in fact, such a conclusion would be a myth. Consider the following.
Dr. Sharp wrote, “Mormons worship and accept Jesus Christ as King of kings, Lord of lords.” Yet an article in Ensign magazine said that, “what we can hope for regarding the consummation of the latter-day work that the Lord began through Joseph Smith…[is that] Jesus Christ will become the King of Kings…” (Gerald N. Lund, “A Prophet for the Fulness of Times,” January 1997, 54. Emphasis added). The biblical Jesus is not becoming the King of kings; He is the King of kings (1 Timothy 6:15).
Dr. Sharp wrote, “Mormons worship and accept Jesus Christ as…the Savior and Redeemer of all mankind.” I have to believe that this Jesus offers a limited or partial redemption, because in LDS General Conferences it has been taught that the redemption of all mankind also requires human redeemers: Mormons do temple work “for a purpose, which is to redeem our dead ancestors,” President James Faust said (Ensign, November 2003, 54); and, as quoted by President Thomas Monson, “It is by this [Mormon] priesthood that…[men’s] sins are forgiven, and that they are redeemed” (President Wilford Woodruff, Ensign, November 2000, 47). This is a “different Jesus” because the biblical Jesus Himself provides redemption and forgiveness through His blood (Ephesians 1:7) — not through proxy temple work or the Mormon priesthood.
Dr. Sharp wrote, “Jesus is…‘the way, the truth, and the life’ (John 14:6).” Yet a Mormon apostle taught in General Conference that “This Church…is the way, the truth, and the life” (Marion G. Romney, 1961, quoted in Book of Mormon Student Manual, 1989, 26. Emphasis added). LDS President Thomas Monson wrote, “Jesus Christ taught… ‘the way, the truth, and the life’” (Ensign, April 2006, 3). And a Mormon Seventy said Jesus “will forever light our way, our truth, and our life (see John 14:6)” (Donald Hallstrom, Ensign, May 2010, 80. Emphasis added). When the biblical apostle Thomas said, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” The biblical Jesus did not say, “The church is the way” or “I will teach you the way” or “I will illuminate your way.” The biblical Jesus said, “I am the way” – the only way — because “No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:3-7). Unlike the “different Jesus” of Mormonism, the biblical Jesus is the only way, the only truth, and the only life.
In reality, nearly every word and phrase used by Dr. Sharp to describe the biblical-sounding attributes of Mormonism’s “different Jesus” represent an unbiblical Jesus Christ. His ministry, his atonement, his creatorship, his sonship (etc.) are all different from the ministry, Atonement, Creatorship and Sonship (etc.) of the biblical Jesus. And because this “different Jesus” of Mormonism is not the true Jesus Christ, Dr. Sharp’s assertion regarding the Mormon belief in his sufficiency rings hollow.
Dr. Sharp wrote, “We believe His is the only name under heaven whereby mankind can be saved.” Yet in an article commemorating the death of Joseph Smith in the LDS Church News, the author wrote,
“In the final analysis – when this dispensation is completed – the salvation and happiness of men and women will be determined on how each of us has responded to the name and the prophetic calling of Joseph Smith.” (William O. Nelson, “Joseph’s prophetic mission,” Church News, July 16, 1994, 5)
Years later Church News quoted Mormon Seventy Theodore Tuttle who said during a 1971 General Conference,
“Every Man who has lived since the days of Joseph Smith is subject to accepting him as a prophet of God in order to enter into our Heavenly Father’s presence.” (“No greater prophet,” Church News, March 17, 2001, 14)
Mormon President Brigham Young taught,
“From the day that the Priesthood was taken from the earth to the winding-up scene of all things, every man and woman must have the certificate of Joseph Smith, junior, as a passport to their entrance into the mansion where God and Christ are — I with you and you with me. I cannot go there without his consent.” (Journal of Discourses 7:289)
And Mormon President Joseph F. Smith explained,
“The day will come—and it is not far distant, either—when the name of the Prophet Joseph Smith will be coupled with the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, the Son of God, as his representative, as his agent whom he chose, ordained and set apart to lay anew the foundations of the Church of God in the world, which is indeed the Church of Jesus Christ, possessing all the powers of the gospel, all the rites and privileges, the authority of the Holy Priesthood, and every principle necessary to fit and qualify both the living and the dead to inherit eternal life, and to attain to exaltation in the kingdom of God.” (Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, 5th ed. , 134; quoted in “Joseph Smith: Restorer of Truth,” Ensign, December 2003, 17)
The biblical Jesus does not couple His name with the name of Joseph Smith to bring salvation to His people. The name of the biblical Jesus is the only name whereby we can be saved. Christian theologian John Piper explains,
“The point of saying, ‘There is no other NAME,’ is that we are saved by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus. His name is our entrance into fellowship with God. The way of salvation by faith is a way that brings glory to the name of Jesus. Peter says in Acts 10:43, ‘Every one who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.’ The name of Jesus is the focus of faith and repentance. In order to believe on Jesus for the forgiveness of sins, you must believe on his name. That is, you must have heard of him and know who he is as a particular man who did a particular saving work and rose from the dead.
“Paul put it this way in Romans 10:13–15: ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. …’ There is salvation in no one else—… Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, apart from him no one comes to the Father (John 14:6).”
Nineteenth century Christian pastor Charles Spurgeon said,
“You must understand that there is only one door to salvation, and that is Christ; there is one way, and that is Christ; one truth, and that is Christ; one life, and that is Christ. Salvation lies in Jesus only…” (read more).
Not Jesus plus. Jesus plus Joseph. Jesus plus the temple. Jesus plus the priesthood. This “different Jesus” of Mormonism is only part of the way and part of the truth. Another way to say this is that this Jesus is insufficient. But the biblical Jesus, the true Jesus Christ, is all sufficient. As John MacArthur notes in his sermon on the sufficiency of Christ, Colossians 2:10 (NKJV) says, “You are complete in Him.”
Mormonism’s “different Jesus” is lacking in many ways. But the biblical Jesus — He is all anyone will ever need.