December 13, 2007

Did Mike Huckabee know what he was doing when he asked an interviewer, “Don”€™t Mormons believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers?”  If not, then perhaps the Huckster was right when he claimed earlier this month that his rise in the polls was at least partly the result of “divine providence,” because he was certainly quite lucky to stir up this hornets’ nest.

As Daniel Larison has noted, Huckabee’s question, while not going into detail, is a reasonable shorthand version of what Mormons actually believe.  Here’s a little more detail from, the official website of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints:

oth the scriptures and the prophets affirm that Jesus Christ and Lucifer are indeed offspring of our Heavenly Father and, therefore, spirit brothers. Jesus Christ was with the Father from the beginning. Lucifer, too, was an angel “€œwho was in authority in the presence of God,”€ a “€œson of the morning.”€ (See Isa. 14:12; D&C 76:25″€“27.) Both Jesus and Lucifer were strong leaders with great knowledge and influence. But as the Firstborn of the Father, Jesus was Lucifer’s older brother. (See Col. 1:15; D&C 93:21.)

How could two such great spirits become so totally opposite? The answer lies in the principle of agency, which has existed from all eternity. (See D&C 93:30″€“31.) Of Lucifer, the scripture says that because of rebellion “€œhe became Satan, yea, even the devil, the father of all lies.”€ (Moses 4:4.) Note that he was not created evil, but became Satan by his own choice.

When our Father in Heaven presented his plan of salvation, Jesus sustained the plan and his part in it, giving the glory to God, to whom it properly belonged. Lucifer, on the other hand, sought power, honor, and glory only for himself. (See Isa. 14:13″€“14; Moses 4:1″€“2.) When his modification of the Father’s plan was rejected, he rebelled against God and was subsequently cast out of heaven with those who had sided with him. (See Rev. 12:7″€“9; D&C 29:36″€“37.)

Jess L. Christensen, Institute of Religion director at Utah State University, Logan, Utah, who wrote the quoted material, hasn’t revealed quite everything, however.  Writing for Mormons, he assumes that, when he refers to Jesus and Lucifer as “offspring” of “our Heavenly Father,” they will understand that he means literal offspring: They are both sons of the “Heavenly Father” through procreation.

There is no distinction, in Mormonism, between pre-incarnate spirits and angels.  Using the traditional Christian language of Lucifer as a fallen angel deliberately muddies the waters.  Jesus is the firstborn of the “Heavenly Father” the way that my first son is the firstborn of myself; and Lucifer is his brother, as my second son is my first son’s brother.  Indeed, not only is Jesus Lucifer’s older brother; in the fullness of the Mormon myth, Lucifer is the second son.  (If all of this sounds like science fiction, there’s a good reason: The Book of Mormon was substantially plagiarized from an early science-fiction book.)

Mormons frequently muddy the waters when confronted about their departure from Christian belief.  See, for instance, “The Romney Experience,” a website run by Mormon Ryan Bell, who has set as his goal “explaining Mitt and Mormonism to an underinformed world.”  In a post linked to by Larison, Bell claims that:

The truth of the matter is that the Mormon Church teaches that God created everyone and everything. That means he created Jesus (one of the few areas where Mormon understanding of Jesus differs from that of traditional Christianity), and yes, it also means he created Satan, and also created you and me.

But again, that’s not exactly correct, because, as Bell admits in his next paragraph, “because both Jesus and Satan were created as part of the offspring of God, you could say they”€™re related, or even brothers.”  Exactly: In the Mormon mythos, God—or, more accurately, the “Heavenly Father”—“created” both Jesus and Lucifer the way I “created” my offspring: through a sexual procreation.  Christians normally use “creation” to refer to God’s nonsexual creation of man; we don’t normally think of “creating” our children, and Mr. Bell is taking advantage of that fact.

As is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, in a brief statement posted yesterday, “Answering Media Questions About Jesus and Satan”:

Like other Christians, we believe Jesus is the divine Son of God. Satan is a fallen angel.

As the Apostle Paul wrote, God is the Father of all. That means that all beings were created by God and are His spirit children. Christ, however, was the only begotten in the flesh, and we worship Him as the Son of God and the Savior of mankind.

I’ve already pointed out that there’s no distinction, in Mormon theology, between pre-incarnate spirits and angels.  And again, we see the deliberate use of “created” to confuse Christians.

But it’s that final sentence where the Mormon leadership is engaged in obfuscating the truth so completely that it’s hard not to consider it a lie.  Jesus, in Mormon theology, was the “only begotten in the flesh.”  While these words might resonate with Christians who recite the Nicene Creed each Sunday, they mean something very different.  In Mormon theology, the Virgin Mary was not a virgin—at least, she no longer was when she conceived.  “Heavenly Father” is a spirit, but in Mormonism, “spirit” does not mean wholly nonmaterial, which is why such “spirits” can have sexual relations and “create” further “spirit children.”  “Heavenly Father” is, by Christian standards, corporeal.  This also explains another radical departure of Mormonism from Christian theology: “Heavenly Father” (so the science-fiction blasphemy goes) came to earth and had sexual relations with Mary.  This resulted in the conception of Jesus, and his pre-existent soul was infused into the body “created” by the union of “Heavenly Father” and Mary.

I apologize to all of those who revere the Most Holy Theotokos; I don’t like writing about this blasphemy any more than you like reading it.  But the can of worms has been opened, and Romney’s “man of faith” speech isn’t going to put the top back on.

The big question here is this: What kind of “Church of Jesus Christ” finds it necessary to misrepresent its beliefs?  And, perhaps even more importantly, why?


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