Who is Jesus?—to a Mormon

Related Posts: Are Satan and Jesus Brothers?; Whom do we Worship?; The Trinity; The Nature of Christ; Godhead: God or Gods?; The Premortal Life

Today in an article written by Frank Pastore on Townhall.com the following allegations about Mormon beliefs were proffered.
Second, when [Mitt Romeny] said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of mankind,” he did not also include that, according to Mormon theology, there are an infinite number of “sons of Gods,” that Jesus is a Son of God along with his brother Lucifer, and that Jesus is only the savior of this world, since Mormon males can become the God, Creator, and Savior of their own planet one day. (“Christian Angst Over a Romney Presidency)
I would like to write about who the Mormons believe Jesus is.

Who is Jesus?Our first article of faith says, “WE believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost”. And our third article of faith says, “We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.” (Articles of Faith.)

First, we do not believe in the Trinitarian view of God. We also reject the Christology in the Creed of Chalcedon. (See The Nature of Christ.) We believe that Jesus was begotten of the Father during the preexistence, our existence before the creation of the earth. As were you and me. (See The Premortal Life.) He was the first begotten of all the children of the Father. He is and was the most faithful, valiant, and beloved of all God’s children. He is the Father’s “Beloved Son,” who was “Beloved and Chosen from the beginning” (Moses 4:2).

The Father’s plan was to create an earth so that his children could be born into mortality “to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them” (Abr. 3:25). Because mortality meant we would unavoidably sin the Father needed to provided a Redeemer. When the Father asked Who shall I send, Jesus came forward and said, Father, thy will be done, and the glory be thine forever (Moses 3:2); he volunteered to sacrifice himself for the rest of us. Jesus is worthy of our worship. (See Whom do we Worship?)

Jesus is the first begotten Son of God during premortality and also the Only Begotten Son of God in the flesh. He was born of the virgin Mary. The Book of Mormon prophet Nephi saw a vision of Jesus and Mary:
I beheld a virgin, and she was exceedingly fair and white. And it came to pass that I saw the heavens open; and an angel came down and stood before me; and he said unto me: Nephi, what beholdest thou? And I said unto him: A virgin, most beautiful and fair above all other virgins. And he said unto me: Knowest thou the condescension of God?...Behold, the virgin whom thou seest is the mother of the Son of God, after the manner of the flesh. And it came to pass that I beheld that she was carried away in the Spirit; and after she had been carried away in the Spirit for the space of a time the angel spake unto me, saying: Look! And I looked and beheld the virgin again, bearing a child in her arms. And the angel said unto me: Behold the Lamb of God, yea, even the Son of the Eternal Father! (1 Nephi 11:13-21; see also Matt. 1:23-25).
Jesus' suffering, death, and resurrection constitute the Atonement, by which it is possible for mankind to be reconciled to God. In the Mormon view the bulk of the Atonement was during Jesus' suffering in Gethsemane where he pleaded, “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me,” his agony becoming so great that there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:42-44). According to Mormon beliefs his suffering was so great that he did sweat blood (D&C 19:18; Mosiah 3:7). We also believe his suffering and death on the cross were necessary. Jesus was betrayed by Judas Iscariot and crucified on the orders of Pontius Pilate. On the third day he resurrected and ascended into heaven.

Elder Russell M. Nelson (Apostle) explained that Atonement this way.

The ordeal of the Atonement centered about the city of Jerusalem. There the greatest single act of love of all recorded history took place. Leaving the upper room, Jesus and His friends crossed the deep ravine east of the city and came to a garden of olive trees on the lower slopes of the Mount of Olives. There in the garden bearing the Hebrew name of Gethsemane—meaning “oil-press”—olives had been beaten and pressed to provide oil and food. There at Gethsemane, the Lord “suffered the pain of all men, that all … might repent and come unto him.” He took upon Himself the weight of the sins of all mankind, bearing its massive load that caused Him to bleed from every pore.

Later He was beaten and scourged. A crown of sharp thorns was thrust upon His head as an additional form of torture. He was mocked and jeered. He suffered every indignity at the hands of His own people. “I came unto my own,” He said, “and my own received me not.” Instead of their warm embrace, He received their cruel rejection. Then He was required to carry His own cross to the hill of Calvary, where He was nailed to that cross and made to suffer excruciating pain.

...Jesus then complied with the will of His Father. Three days later, precisely as prophesied, He rose from the grave. He became the firstfruits of the Resurrection. He had accomplished the Atonement, which could give immortality and eternal life to all obedient human beings. All that the Fall allowed to go awry, the Atonement allowed to go aright. (“The Atonement,” Ensign, Nov. 1996)

What about people on other worlds?
One of the incorrect statements that Mr. Pastore made was that we believe “Jesus is only the savior of this world.” What we really believe is that “by [Jesus], and through [Jesus], and of [Jesus], the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God” (D&C 76:24). Joseph Smith put is even more succinctly in a poem:

And I heard a great voice, bearing record from heav’n,
He's the Saviour, and only begotten of God-
By him, of him, and through him, the worlds were all made,
Even all that career in the heavens so broad,

Whose inhabitants, too, from the first to the last,
Are sav'd by the very same Saviour of ours;
And, of course, are begotten God's daughters and sons,
By the very same truths, and the very same pow’rs. (Times and Seasons, Vol. 4, p. 82, 1843)

So there you have it--Jesus is the savior of every world created by the Father (through Jesus Christ).

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