I was just paging through an old book I found at a used bookstore. It’s titled Principles of the Gospel, published in 1961 by the Corporation of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and contains an opening note to “Brethren” of the armed services from the First Presidency (David O. McKay, J. Reuben Clark, and Henry S. Moyle). The book contains brief explanations of various Mormon doctrines, “Based Largely Upon the Compendium (Richards-Little) With Excerpts From Other Writings.”
Under the heading “Godhead” and sub-heading “1. Father as Literal Parent,” the book states,
“Jesus Christ is the Son of Elohim both as spiritual and bodily offspring; that is to say, Elohim is literally the Father of the spirit of Jesus Christ and also of the body in which Jesus Christ performed His missions in the flesh, and which body died on the cross and was afterward taken up by the process of resurrection, and is now the immortalized tabernacle of the eternal spirit of our Lord and Savior. No extended explanation of the title ‘Son of God’ as applied to Jesus Christ appears necessary.” (196)
What do you think it means that, according to Mormonism, Jesus is the literal “bodily offspring” of God the Father?
“You all know that your fathers are indeed your fathers and that your mothers are indeed your mothers you all know that don’t you? You cannot deny it. Now, we are told in scriptures that Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of God in the flesh. Well, now for the benefit of the older ones, how are children begotten? I answer just as Jesus Christ was begotten of his father. The Christian denominations believe that Christ was begotten not of God but of the spirit that overshadowed his mother. This is nonsense. Why will not the world receive the truth? Why will they not believe the Father when he says that Jesus Christ is His only begotten Son? Why will they try to explain this truth away and make mystery of it?
“Now if God is a man, a glorious perfected man-that is, perfect in all his glorious attributes, and infinite in power, there never will come a time when God the Father will not have power to extend His dominion and His Glory. He is the maker of Heaven and the Earth, on which we dwell, for He made this earth by his word and by his power. How did he make it? He called the elements that are invisible to our eyes. He formed the earth on which we dwell, and has formed millions of worlds, and they are peopled with his children, for there is no end to his dominions and the worlds he has created cannot be numbered unto man.
“Now, little boys and girls, when you are confronted by infidels in the world who know nothing of how Christ was begotten, you can say he was born just as the infidel was begotten and born, so was Christ begotten by his Father, who is also our Father-the Father of our spirits-and he was born of his mother Mary.
“The difference between Jesus Christ and other men is this: Our fathers in the flesh are mortal men, who are subject unto death; but the Father of Jesus Christ in the flesh is the God of Heaven. Therefore Jesus, as he declared, received the power of life from his Father and was never subject unto death but had life in himself as his father had life in himself. Because of this power he overcame death and the grave and became master of the resurrection and the means of salvation to us all.
“Shall we as Latter-day Saints deny the truth and then claim that God made man in his likeness in the beginning? Shall we come under the impression that God possesses the power of creation, and yet did not literally create? He is not without his companion any more than I am without my companion, the mother of my children.
“These are truths and I wish they could be instilled into the hearts of these little children so that they will not be tossed about by every wind of doctrine and be confused by the teachers of atheism. Now, by and by you will be able to understand this far better than you can today. Some of us grandparents find it difficult to conceive the truth we want to think of something marvelous. We want to try to make it appear that God does not do things in the right way, or that he has another way of doing things than what we know, we must come down to the simple fact that God Almighty was the Father of His Son Jesus Christ. Mary, the virgin girl, who had never known mortal man, was his mother. God by her begot His son Jesus Christ, and He was born into the world with power and intelligence like that of His Father…
“Now, my little friends, I will repeat again in words as simple as I can, and you talk to your parents about it, that God, the Eternal Father is literally the father of Jesus Christ.
“Mary was married to Joseph for time. No man could take her for eternity because she belonged to the Father of her divine Son. In the revelation that has come thru Joseph Smith, we learn that it is the eternal purpose of God that man and woman should be joined together by the power of God here on earth for time and eternity.
“If a man and woman should be joined together who are incompatible to each other it would be a mercy to them to be separated that they might have a chance to find other spirits that will be congenial to them. We may bind on earth and it will be bound in Heaven, and loose on earth and it will be loosed in Heaven. I would like teachers of the Sunday school to take these simple facts and teach them to the children so that they may understand the truth, that their faith may be founded in fact and in truth; for nothing that is not built upon truth will stand. That which is false will fall. Only that which is based upon God’s truth will endure.
“Now, my brothers and sisters and the Sunday school workers, we want you to teach the children the truth and nothing but the truth.” (Messages of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 4:327ff. Read the entire sermon at the MRM website.)
President Smith indicated that the LDS understanding of these things is different from “the Christian denominations” who believe “nonsense” and try to “explain the truth away.” Therefore, we must conclude that the Mormon doctrines pertaining to the “only begotten” Son are at great odds with the doctrines embraced by Christians. Though the Mormon community is divided in their individual conclusions regarding exactly how the body of Jesus was conceived, the differences between what LDS leaders have taught and what Christians believe cannot be chalked up to mere semantics, as some Mormons suggest.
Many Mormon leaders have taught ideas compatible with President Smith’s teachings regarding God being the literal father of Jesus’ body. Check them out here at mrm.org.