Sunday, January 25, 2009

Mormons Have Another Jesus: The Biblical One

I am going to take the suggestion of one of those who recently commented to address the topic of the accusation that Mormons have another Jesus, different from traditional Christian faiths.

President Hinckley noted that we as Mormons DO have a different Jesus than Traditional Christianity. (June 20, 1998 Desseret News)

His point is the real Jesus is not revealed in the creeds or dogmas of Christianity. The real Jesus revealed Himself to Joseph Smith at the beginning of this dispensation. This is consistent with the Biblical teaching that "no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost." (1Cor 12:3) He is not known or discovered in the Bible or through pious reflection. He is only known via revelation.

Depending upon the attitude of the person I am talking with, I will measure the way I basically tell them they have the unBiblical Jesus, and I am OK having "another Jesus", as long as mine is the one described in the Bible.

When the Bible writes John 17:3 "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent," I am hard pressed to reconcile the traditional Trinitarian beliefs that Jesus is also that one True God. When Stephen says "I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God,"(Acts 7:56), I cannot find a logical way to reconcile the fact that Jesus is specifically said to NOT be God, so how can he be the Trinitarian God? It is logically impossible for a thing to be next to itself. If it were possible, then we could play the games like asking if God can create a rock to heavy to lift, or if there is a number too high for him to count to.

At the end of the day, Mormons believe in the Jesus of the Bible without any modifications of who that person is. We also believe he continues to communicate with man. If a Trinitarian is honest in a conversation, they will have to admit that their beliefs are not the obvious product of scripture, and history tell us that up until the 4th Century, believers were not necessarily those who held a Trinitarian point of view. Though Trinitarians like to say their beliefs are the logical conclusions drawn from the evidence of scripture, without a Trinitarian point of view one would never formulate such a conclusion. Philosophy outside of the Bible created Trinitarian insights into the Bible. I am specifically a Christian because I believe in every explicit aspect of the Nature of Jesus as taught in the Bible. He is the literal son of God. He is my one and only Savior. He is divine, and yet wholly separate from God the Father. There is one God the Father. Jesus Christ is Lord and son of God. These points do not require a belief in the Trinity to believe the words penned in scripture.

So I contend they made "another Jesus", and I follow the one we learn of in the Bible.


Tony said...

Great post! You really put it into perspective. Thank you.

Tony said...

Hey Bob, this is what Shawn said to me in regards to the necessity for baptism.
"Jesus´ baptism was for his beginning as our final and only High Priest - and they had to have ritual baths....

The second part of Mark 16,16 answers the other verses, and itself.....

John 3,5 - water can mean the word (Gods word cleanses), or the water that breaks when you are born... Taking context into account - see the next verse... "Born of FLESH is FLESH, born of SPIRIT is SPIRIT".. and add to that being born of WATER and SPIRIT"

I gave him an answer to the effect that Mark 16 makes it very clear that baptism is needed, and also that Jesus was trying to tell Nicodemus that it was NOT a physical birth as he supposed. I am wondering what your take on it is. I am sure Shawn will just dismiss my comments.

Bob the Anti-Anti said...

You will find Shawn is always reaching for his current "shiny penny" approach to the obvious problems of his positions.

Let's take the question of ritual washing for priests. Here is the question: "Shawn, where does a Melchizedek priest need ritual washing?"
Ps 110:4 "The LORD hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou [art] a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek."
No washing there.

Wait, here is how Christ became a high priest, according to the Bible:
Heb 7:28 "For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, [maketh] the Son, who is consecrated for evermore."

Hebrews 6:1-3 notes baptism is the foundational step on the path to perfection. Ceremonial washings for a priest were performed in the great Laver inside the area restricted to Aaronic priests. Did he really miss all this?

As for the essential role of baptism and Jesus' reception of it, he said it was necessary for him to be baptized to "fulfill all righteousness" (Matt 3:15). What is meant by that? Compare Matthew's other use of "Righteousness" (gk 'dikaiosune'):
Matt 5:6 Blessed [are] they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
Matt 5:10 Blessed [are] they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake...
Matt 5:20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed [the righteousness] of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.
Matt 6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
Matt 21:32 For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen [it], repented not afterward, that ye might believe him.

It's root word, dikaios, is used 19 additional times by Matthew.

So he means that were he not to be baptized, it would be unrighteous. In other words, for the sake of righteousness to be completed, even Jesus needed baptism. It is inconceivable that such a position is the result of ceremonial washings, since those washings are only mentioned in connection with Aaronic priests.

Jesus showed that baptism fulfilled righteousness, making even Christ complete in his own righteousness. It takes faith, but the Bible teaches baptism is essential to salvation (from a brochure I wrote a few years ago):
1Peter 3:21 “and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also--not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ,” (NIV)
Mark 16:16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
Matthew 7:21 ¶ Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
Titus 3:5 he saved us, not because of any works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy, through the water F8 of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.
F8: Gk [washing]
The Greek word used here is loutrou which meant to physically dunk something into water, and it was synonymous with immersive baptism in early Christian literature (see Just, 1Apol 61:3; 66:1) Liddell & Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon entry under loutron :” ; in NT, of baptism, Ep.Eph. 5.26; l. palingenesias Ep.Tit.3.5”
BDAG (3rd edition, 2000, pg 603) entry under loutron: “bath, washing of baptism” also lists Eph 5:26 and Titus 3:5.
I will point out that L&S and BDAG are the two premiere Greek Lexicons in the world. Others such as Strong’s, Thayer’s and Mounce agree.

Tony said...

Thanks for the response! Great insights.