A Different Jesus

Names of Jesus2In one of the Apostle Paul’s letters to the church at Corinth, he wrote something that struck me as odd:

But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ. For if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you bear this beautifully. (2 Cor 11:3-4)

I’m referring to the part of the above passage in which he says “another Jesus.” Did he have in mind, another “Christ?” I could understand that–already there had been various people claiming to be the Messiah. So if Paul would have said, if someone claims to be another Christ, don’t be deceived, that would have made perfect sense to me.

But he chose instead to say “another Jesus.” And of course that word choice was as inspired by the Holy Spirit as all else he wrote, so I wanted to grapple with what “another Jesus” would look like.

In truth, I think it is probably easier to understand today than it was in the first century, because a number of “other Jesuses” have shown up.

Take for example the Mormon Jesus. This is a Jesus who is not a person of the One True and Triune God. Rather he is a god, like all of us–one of the Father’s spirit children, special only because he is the first begotten (not the only begotten as John 3:16 says). He is brother to Satan and Plato and Paul himself–the son of god and god, as we all are and can become.

This Mormon Jesus is decidedly different from the Person Paul wrote about who is the image of the invisible God, who created all things and by whom all things hold together.

The Mormon Jesus isn’t so very different from Example Jesus–the person some believe to be such a good person he should be our model for living. If we could only love as he loved, serve as he served, our lives and those of the people around us would be so much better. We simply need to commit ourselves to being like Jesus.

The problem with Example Jesus is that he is only a shadow of the real Person. Jesus didn’t come to show us how life is done. He came because no matter what we do, we can’t make life work. We don’t need an example to follow; we need a Redeemer to rescue us, to set us free.

Example Jesus is pretty close to Kinder, Gentler Jesus. This is the person some believe came to right the wrong of the angry god of the Old Testament who needed to repent for venting on people and committing genocide. Hence, Kinder, Gentler Jesus showed up, loving others and giving his life to make amends and to prove that god was different now–loving and willing to forgive instead of judge.

Kinder, Gentler Jesus misses the mark because he doesn’t have any explanation for all the stories the true Jesus told about “outer darkness” and a place where there was “gnashing of teeth.” The true Jesus also graphically described the day of judgment on many occasions–a day when goats and sheep will be separated, when wheat and weeds will be divided.

Some people counter with Mythical Jesus. He wasn’t a real person at all–simply the idea of a bunch of first century Jews who were dissatisfied with the status quo. They envisioned a Messiah who could do all kinds of amazing things like heal the sick, feed thousands of people with a few loaves of bread, walk on water, order demons out of possessed people. Not that they for a minute believed he really did those things. They were creating a myth like Pecos Bill or Paul Bunyan.

Mythical Jesus stands in contrast to Historical Jesus. This is the person some scholars who disdain the miraculous discover by stripping Scripture of all the “signs and wonders” the True Jesus says were evidences that He had in deed come from the Father. But no, the Historical Jesus was a wise teacher who stirred up many followers who later embellished his actions to make him worthy of acclaim as they went about talking him up. The Historical Jesus was pretty unremarkable. And of course, he never actually came out of his tomb alive.

I’ve only touched on some of the many different Jesuses that have arisen over time. And as I began writing this post, I realized there’s a whole book about them–My Imaginary Jesus by Matt Mikalatos. I gave an idea of the number of Jesuses Matt discussed in one of my CSFF Blog Tour posts about the book:

Along with his own custom-built Jesus, Matt, the character, encountered King James Jesus, Political Power Jesus, 8-Ball Jesus, Peacenik Jesus, TV Jesus, Legalist Jesus, New Age Jesus, Free Will Jesus and any number of others belonging to the SSIJ (Secret Society of Imaginary Jesuses). There are even those who people invent for a specific reason and then discard “when they don’t need him anymore.”

How quickly I forget. Or perhaps I never connected the idea of “re-imaging” Jesus with this passage from Paul in 2 Corinthians. In reality, he says, anyone preaching a different Jesus is using the same deception that Satan used against Eve.

In the garden, the issue was “Has God really said . . .” Because Jesus is the Incarnate Word of God, Satan really hasn’t changed his tactic. He’s still questioning God’s Word: “Is Jesus really . . .”

Peter, who was in the perfect position to know, had this to say, which pretty much answers Satan’s charge:

For [Jesus Christ] was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God . . . for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God. (1 Peter 1:20-21, 23)

Is God’s word reliable? Both His written word and His Incarnate Word are reliable and true and enduring–the first for revelation, the second for salvation. There is no other Jesus whereby a person may be saved.

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Published in: on July 11, 2013 at 6:59 pm  Comments (2)  
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2 Comments

  1. Your description of the “Mormon Jesus” doesn’t sound like the Jesus I know at all.

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  2. As a Mormon, if this description of the Mormon Jesus seems foreign to you, perhaps you aren’t as much a Mormon as you think you are.

    I’m not inventing these positions, though I think there’s been an effort recently to gloss over these facts. I’ve found most of them on LDS sites or on sites that quote from LDS literature.

    First I said Jesus, according to Mormonism, is not a person of the One True and Triune God.

    Mormons believe that Jesus Christ has always been a separate person from God the Father. In some ways Christ Himself is our father—He is the creator of the heavens and the earth; He is a father to all those who are born-again; He is one with God the Father in all the attributes of perfection, power, and authority. (from Mormon Beliefs)

    Here’s another one, this from the LDS web site:

    Latter-day Saints believe that the simplest reading of the New Testament text produces the simplest conclusion — that the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost are separate and distinct personages, that They are one in purpose. We feel that the sheer preponderance of references in the Bible would lead an uninformed reader to the understanding that God the Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost are separate beings.

    Second, I said the Mormon Jesus is a god, not the One True, Triune God.

    According to the Mormon view, Jesus is not unique from the rest of mankind. He is simply the firstborn spirit child. The Doctrine and Covenants states, “The difference between Jesus and other offspring of Elohim is one of degree not of kind.”{4} That is why Mormons refer to Jesus as elder brother. (Zukeran)

    Here this is explained in a little more detail.

    The Plan of Salvation teaches that God the Father is the literal father of our spirits, and that as spirits, we lived with Him before we were born with physical bodies into mortal life on earth. Christ was the firstborn of the spirit children of God the Father, and was more intelligent and gifted than all. Christ was chosen to save mankind by working out an infinite and eternal atonement—to come to this earth as the literal Only Begotten Son of God, and to put the whole plan of redemption, salvation, and exaltation in operation (from *Mormon Beliefs).

    Of course, this begs the question how Jesus can be the firstborn of the spirit children and the Only begotten Son of God.

    Finally, I said Jesus is Satan’s brother and the first to be elevated from our status as spirit children to that of god. Here are a couple points that, taken together, clarify this belief.

    * “As man is, God once was: as God is, man may become” (Prophet Lorenzo Snow, quotedin Milton R. Hunter, The Gospel Through the Ages, 105-106)

    * Remember that God, our heavenly Father, was perhaps once a child, and mortal like we ourselves, and rose step by step in the scale of progress, in the school of advancement; has moved forward and overcome, until He has arrived at the point where He now is” (Apostle Orson Hyde, Journal of Discourses, 1:123)

    * Jesus is the brother of Satan this is revealed in the Pearl of Great Price, Book of Moses 4:1-4 and affirmed by Brigham Young in the Journal of Discourses, 13:282

    If your understanding of Jesus is uniquely different from the teachings of your church, perhaps it’s time to consider a re-examination of it. I’d also be curious how you came about believing in a Jesus that is different from the one acclaimed by your church.

    Becky

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