Do Latter-Day Saints believe in a Different Jesus?

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David Maynard appears to address how different religious belief systems hold to an idea of Jesus that is not compatible with the idea and understanding of how Christians understand who Jesus is. His article – How is Jesus Different From Other Religious Leaders? – appears to provide a Biblical response to the different religious worldviews. His premise appears to reflect that while many different religions hold to an idea of who Jesus is, they fail to understand and comprehend who the real Jesus is of the Bible. He cites James 2:19 (which he mistakenly says it is James 2:29 – there are on 26 verses in chapter 2 of the Book of James):

Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.

Maynard also cites Matthew 24:23-26:

For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.

He asks two questions and makes his intent and purpose known:

  • What do they mean by “believe”?
  • How do they define Jesus?

And the premise of his article: You need to determine if their definition of Jesus is correct. Maynard continues to define what it means to believe:

Now let’s look at the two different types of belief. One is just an acknowledgment of something. I believe the sky is blue but that doesn’t impact my life. I will not dedicate my life to proving the sky is blue. This type of belief or acknowledgment has no effect on my life. The demons believe that Jesus is Lord but they don’t allow that belief to transform them (James 2:19). The other belief is a transformational belief. Christians not only believe in Jesus, they have received Him into their life. He comes in and transforms our lives (John 1:12)

According to the Online Etymology Dictionary we have this definition:

late 12c., bileave, “confidence reposed in a person or thing; faith in a religion,” replacing Old English geleafa “belief, faith,” from West Germanic *ga-laubon “to hold dear, esteem, trust” (source also of Old Saxon gilobo, Middle Dutch gelove, Old High German giloubo, German Glaube), from *galaub- “dear, esteemed,” from intensive prefix *ga- + PIE root *leubh- “to care, desire, love.” The prefix was altered on analogy of the verb believe. The distinction of the final consonant from that of believe developed 15c.

The be-, which is not a natural prefix of nouns, was prefixed on the analogy of the vb. (where it is naturally an intensive) …. [OED]

Meaning “conviction of the truth of a proposition or alleged fact without knowledge” is by 1530s; it is also “sometimes used to include the absolute conviction or certainty which accompanies knowledge” [Century Dictionary]. From c. 1200 as “a creed, essential doctrines of a religion or church, things held to be true as a matter of religious doctrine;” the general sense of “That which is believed” is by 1714. Related: Beliefs.

Belief meant “trust in God,” while faith meant “loyalty to a person based on promise or duty” (a sense preserved in keep one’s faith, in good (or bad) faith, and in common usage of faithful, faithless, which contain no notion of divinity). But faith, as cognate of Latin fides, took on the religious sense beginning in 14c. translations, and belief had by 16c. become limited to “mental acceptance of something as true,” from the religious use in the sense of “things held to be true as a matter of religious doctrine.”

When it comes to understanding how words are defined, we have to look at the root and origin of said word. Here, we find that belief equates trust. If we were to simply understand James 2:19 – we find that the demons believe in God, however, they do not trust in him or have any loyalty toward him. Their belief is fear based (hence the term tremble or shudder). They trust in God’s power and authority and tremble at that.

Essentially, Maynard appears to define belief as where Christians are the only religious beliefs that have a trusting and loyal understanding and awareness of who Jesus Christ is. It also appears to mean that Maynards understanding of Christ – from a Biblical worldview – is the only true and accurate understanding of Jesus Christ. All other religious belief systems fail to meet his perceived worldview and definition of who Christ is.

Maynard also introduces a basic premise of the law of non-contradiction:

According to the most basic of laws, the law of non-contradiction says that “A” cannot be “Non-A”. If Islam says Jesus is one thing and Christianity says He is something different, both cannot be right. Either they’re wrong or one is wrong and the other is right.

Here, we see the first issue of attribution and misrepresentation. Aristotle developed the philosophy of non-contradiction. This deals with ontology and first principles of which the principle (or law) of non-contradiction is the firmest. According to this philosophy there appears to be three differing versions.

  • Ontological argument based on the principle of non-contradiction – what exists in the natural world
  • Doxastic argument based on the principle of non-contradiction – what we believe
  • Semantic argument based on the principle of non-contradiction – assertion and truth

Maynard appears to refer to the Doxastic argument on the principle of non-contradiction. Yet, when you read his summation on how different religious belief systems hold to an understanding of their idea of who Christ is – he appears to hold to more of a Ontological argument on the principle of non-contradiction. In one instance, he appears to even violate the very principle of the ontological argument.

As we progress through his entry, Maynard sets Christianity as the first religious belief system and worldview on who Jesus is:

Jesus is God in the flesh, a part of the trinity, God the Son, who came down from heaven, died for our sins, rose from the dead for our justification and will come back to set up Kingdom for all eternity

There is no disagreeing with this. It may be a simplified summation, however, it stems from Maynard’s worldview and belief. He appears to sum up each religious worldview in simplified sentences. It is when he gets to the brief summation of Mormonism that we read:

Mormonism…God is an office that you can be elevated to. Our God was once a man with a physical body the same as ours. If you’re a good Mormon in this life, you may become a Jesus on another world. Eventually you may become God on another world also. Jesus was created as a spirit child of God the Father and the Heavenly Mother. His Earthly body was created through a sexual union of God the Father and Mary. Mormons don’t believe in the Trinity.

This is where Maynard’s failed logic and understanding besets him. First, this is a poorly defined Strawman Logical Fallacy. Second, it misrepresents actual teachings and doctrines. His article appears to focus on the differences between religious belief systems understanding of who Jesus Christ is – yet fails to maintain this focus. He appears to be tangential in his strawman fallacy. It also appears much of his understanding stems from two main resources. Christian Apologetic Research Ministry (CARM) and Dr. Walter Martin’s work – Kingdom of the Cults.

When it comes to misrepresenting the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints many people (like Maynard) do poorly in accurate representation of what we truly believe.

A Different Jesus? No – You Misunderstood

The reality is that Latter-day Saints fully understand and believe in who Jesus Christ is. It is the foundation of any Christian belief system.

In the Articles of Faith we read this:

We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.

Here are some resources that help you understand who Jesus Christ is. He is the savior of humanity. His infinite atonement provides redemption from sin and death. These resources provide a more thorough and accurate understanding of who Latter-day Saints understand who Jesus Christ is.

Books I recommend purchasing and reading:

As one will find – through a thoughtful and thorough investigation – that the Church of Jesus Christ does not stray away from the Biblical Worldview regarding who Jesus Christ is. His purpose. His ministry. His death. and His resurrection. There is no other Christ – but the Son of the Living God.

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