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Dec 19, 2007

Mormonism, Incarnation, and Why It Matters

Before I preached the Incarnation message I mentioned yesterday, I was asked to comment for a Wall Street Journal "reaction" story, responding to Romney's speech on faith and politics.

I declined. I don't need a "new issue"... I have enough issues already. Grin. If they would have asked a theological question, I would have been glad to comment.

The conversation prompted me to mention in my Sunday message that Mormonism is not Chrisitanity-- and the incarnation is an important part of why that is the case.

What/who Jesus Christ was makes all the difference-- two natures in one person. Fully God and fully man. The Incarnation is understood through the Hypostatic Union. I mentioned the concept but did not use the term in my Incarnation sermon.

Well, FoxNews asked Mormon scholars 21 questions about Mormonism. And, they answered... but the uber-apologeticists at the North American Mission Board decided their answers were insufficient. I agree.

NAMB's Rob Bowman gets at the "what/who" issue here (the format is the FoxNews questions, then Mormon answers, finally Bowman response):

Q: Does the Mormon Church believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God?

Q: Does the Church believe in the divinity of Jesus?

Q: Does the Church believe that God is a physical being?

A: Mormons believe Jesus Christ is literally the Son of God, the Savior and Redeemer, who died for the sins of humankind and rose from the dead on the third day with an immortal body. God, the Father, also has an immortal body.

Bowman:

What this answer--which is accurate as far as it goes--neglects to make explicit is that Mormons understand what it means for Jesus to be "the Son of God" in a way that differs radically from orthodox Christianity. When they say they believe he is "literally" the Son of God, the significance of this qualification will be lost on most people. Mormons believe that God the Father is an immortal Man and that he is the literal father of Jesus Christ "in the flesh," just as Mary is his literal mother (see below). This is not what orthodox Christianity means when it affirms that Jesus is the Son of God. To us, Christ has existed eternally as the Son of God, personally distinct from the Father yet one and the same God. For us, to affirm that Jesus is the Son of God means to affirm that he is eternally of the same absolute, infinite divine nature as the Father.

It is peculiar that the LDS Church did not directly address the question of the divinity of Jesus. In their view, Jesus is Jehovah, the God of the Old Testament, and yet he is a different God than Elohim, the Father, and will always be subordinate to him. Mormons do not pray to Jesus. In their view, Jesus, and all other human beings, and all angels, existed in the distant past as the spirit offspring of our heavenly parents (God the Father and his wife); Jesus is simply our Elder Brother and the first of God's children to become a God himself.

So, read Rob Bowman's answers to the Mormon answers here.

Related Topics:Apologetics; Christmas; Mormons
Posted:December 19, 2007 at 12:00 am

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Mormonism, Incarnation, and Why It Matters