As I was weeding my garden last weekend, preparing for spring planting I was enjoying a very nice quite time with God. I was listening to music of praise and receiving some wonderful spiritual insight and really felt God speaking to me in a special way during that time. It was one of those precious times where you just feel like His Holy Spirit is very present with you.
One of the great insights that came to me while working in my garden was that my spiritual life is very much like my garden. My childhood in the Mormon church was overall positive. The LDS church teaches many truthful and wonderful things like the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the importance of family, and they emphasize living a life of service and love. These are all good things. They sing many beautiful hymns like “How Great Thou Art”, “I Know That My Redeemer Lives”, “Count Your Blessings”, etc. And the church wards have a real sense of closeness and a great support system. The LDS church definitely has its very own, unique culture.
Despite the wonderful hymns and the many truthful teachings, like my garden, there are many, many weeds that grow in the LDS church. A few examples of the weeds, the false teachings, would be their teachings in regards to God having once been an imperfect man who became perfected, their teachings that God is our literal Father and that we all have a Heavenly Mother and that God has many wives, and their teachings on many other topics like the requirements for salvation. After being raised in the Mormon church I am now having to go through my spiritual “garden” and pull out the weeds one by one that grew over the years and began to choke out the positive, fruitful teachings. If you let them, the weeds (the false teachings) begin to overtake the fruit (the true teachings) until finally your garden is so overcome with weeds that the fruit no longer receives any sunlight, the weeds suck energy from the plants, the weeds take most of the water and nutrients from the soil, and it ultimately becomes an overwhelming prospect to even begin to pull out each individual weed one by one. It feels like it’s going to take years to accomplish the task of weeding and cleaning up the garden. And trust me, it does take years! But with God, it’s possible.
This is why I believe the LDS church is so dangerous. They mix a lot of truth with a lot of false teaching which makes it extremely confusing for people who are raised in the church to find their way in discovering what is true and what is not true. It’s very, very difficult to make your way through the mind maze of the Mormon religion. And when you are raised in a religion that you have been taught since childhood, human nature is to accept that as truth. But we really must analyze if what we’ve been taught from childhood really is the truth.
Weeds in my spiritual garden:
One of the weeds that overtook my garden more than any other single weed was the subject of the divinity of Jesus. I’m telling you, this weed was a whopper. It had roots running up and down my garden.
The worst plant I ever planted in my backyard garden was mint. Mint grows and grows and doesn’t stop. It will take over your garden if you let it. I call it the kudzu of my garden. I planted it in my garden beds a few years ago because it is supposed to help keep squirrels away. It grew like crazy and I’ve been trying to get rid of it ever since. Just the other day I was pulling out many strong, giant mint roots that ran up and down the length of my garden bed. My gardening tip to you: plant your kudzu, I mean mint, in pots. Don’t plant mint in the soil of your garden beds! The subject of the divinity of Jesus was the mint in my spiritual garden. It was what was stopping me from truly comprehending who Jesus was and what He did for us on the cross. It’s been a real life changer and faith builder to remove this weed from my spiritual garden.
What the LDS church teaches about the Divinity of Jesus:
I’ll try and briefly share what I was taught as a child about the divinity of Jesus. The LDS.org website says this about Jesus’ birth:
Jesus Christ is the Son of God in the most literal sense. The body in which He performed His mission in the flesh was sired by that same Holy Being we worship as God, our Eternal Father. He was not the son of Joseph, nor was He begotten by the Holy Ghost. He is the Son of the Eternal Father!” https://www.lds.org/ensign/2001/12/five-marks-of-the-divinity-of-jesus-christ.p1?lang=eng
As you can see from the above quote, the LDS church teaches that God is the literal father of Jesus. Literally. They teach that God sired Jesus with Mary. Here are some more quotes:
How are children begotten? I answer just as Jesus Christ was begotten of His Father…We must come down to the simple fact that God Almighty was the father of his son Jesus Christ. Mary, the virgin girl who had never known a mortal man, was his mother. God by her begot His son Jesus Christ.” 1972 Family Home Evening Manual, pg. 125-126
The divine Sonship of Jesus Christ … is central to understanding the entire plan of salvation. He is the First Begotten Son of the Father in the premortal existence and the Only Begotten Son of the Father on earth. God the Eternal Father is the literal parent of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and of His other spirit children. …
“The ‘divine Sonship’ also refers to the designation ‘Only Begotten Son in the flesh.’ … This title signifies that Jesus’ physical body was the offspring of a mortal mother and of an immortal Eternal Father, which verity is crucial to the Atonement, a supreme act that could not have been accomplished by an ordinary man. Christ had power to lay down His life and power to take it again because He had inherited immortality from His Heavenly Father. From Mary, His mother, Christ inherited mortality, or the power to die.” Elder Robert E. Wells of the Seventy https://www.lds.org/manual/jesus-christ-and-the-everlasting-gospel-teacher-manual/lesson-7-jesus-christ-gods-only-begotten-son-in-the-flesh?lang=eng
The condescension of God (meaning the Father) consists in the fact that though he is an exalted, perfected, glorified Personage, he became the personal and literal Father of a mortal Offspring born of mortal woman.” (Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. , 155).
The LDS church proclaims that Jesus Christ is the son of God in the most literal sense. The body in which he performed his mission in the flesh was sired by that same Holy being we worship as God, our Eternal Father.” Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, pg. 7
Major holes in Mormon theology:
So, as shown above, the LDS church believes that God literally sired Jesus Christ with Mary. It is taught in the Mormon church that Mary was a virgin because she had never been with a mortal man. It wasn’t until I became an adult and started thinking more deeply on these types of things that I realized the many problems with this teaching. First, the LDS church teaches that we are all spirit children of God. They teach that God has many wives and that we all have a Heavenly Mother as well as our Heavenly Father, God. If this were the case, then that would mean that Mary was God’s literal daughter…so God would have sired a Son, Jesus Christ, with His daughter, Mary! Not only is the church teaching incest, but it also is condoning God having sex outside of marriage because God, Heavenly Father, according to the LDS church has many wives. Siring a son with Mary, whom He was not married to, would have been an affair outside of the bounds of marriage with another woman other than His wives! God would have been cheating on His heavenly wives. This all just does not add up at all and is sickening to even think about.
LDS doctrine on the divinity of Jesus:
In addition to those problems, we have the problem of the teaching that Jesus is a separate person from God. It is believed that Jesus is God’s son, not in the Christian way of thinking, but literally His son. So while the LDS church teaches that Jesus is divine, it’s a different divinity than what Christians think of. They teach that Jesus is half mortal because His mother was Mary, and half divine because His Father was God. And this is how, they believe, Jesus was able to accomplish a perfect life and how His death on the cross was sufficient; because he was half mortal/half divine.
What does the bible say about the Divinity of Jesus?
As we know John 1:1 says:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
So as we see, the Word was both with God and was God at the same time. That’s something my mind can’t fully wrap its little self around. That goes above my human comprehension that the Word was both with and was God at the same time. God is greater and more vast than our human minds can even comprehend. Then John 1:14 says:
And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”
The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us. So the Word was Jesus. As John 1:1 says, “…the Word…was God.” Jesus, the Word, IS God. The moment I came across this in John Chapter 1, I laid my bible in my lap and looked across the room dumbfounded with my jaw almost in my lap. It was like I was struck with a lightning bolt of truth and a light switch went off for me. It was one of the greatest moments in my Bible study so far because it hit me that Jesus IS GOD in the flesh! He is not half mortal, half divine. He is God incarnate! Life. Changing. This was the moment that I first spotted the biggest weed in my garden and saw that it needed to be pulled. Pulling it took some time and effort studying God’s written Word, but I finally got that big ole weed out.
Only Begotten Son:
So then, I needed answers on what it means for Jesus to be the Only Begotten Son of God. I thought to myself, “If he’s not the literal son of God who was sired by God, but He is God in the flesh, then what does it mean that Jesus is God’s son?” Well first, I’ll just say, as John 1:1 says that the Word was both with God and was God at the same time – how could Jesus be WITH God and at the same time BE God? My first thought was that my mind cannot fully grasp that concept that Jesus could be both with God and be God at the same time, so I’m obviously not grasping the Only Begotten Son question in the same way. But with more research, here’s what I have learned about Jesus being the Only Begotten Son. And it’s very clear to me now and makes so much more sense than my previous beliefs. Here is a wonderful explanation that helped me understand:
The phrase “only begotten Son” occurs in John 3:16, which reads in the King James Version as, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” The phrase “only begotten” translates the Greek word monogenes. This word is variously translated into English as “only,” “one and only,” and “only begotten.”
It’s this last phrase (“only begotten” used in the KJV, NASB and the NKJV) that causes problems. False teachers have latched onto this phrase to try to prove their false teaching that Jesus Christ isn’t God; i.e., that Jesus isn’t equal in essence to God as the Second Person of the Trinity. They see the word “begotten” and say that Jesus is a created being because only someone who had a beginning in time can be “begotten.” What this fails to note is that “begotten” is an English translation of a Greek word. As such, we have to look at the original meaning of the Greek word, not transfer English meanings into the text.
So what does monogenes mean? According to the Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (BAGD, 3rd Edition), monogenes has two primary definitions. The first definition is “pertaining to being the only one of its kind within a specific relationship.” This is its meaning in Hebrews 11:17 when the writer refers to Isaac as Abraham’s “only begotten son” (KJV). Abraham had more than one son, but Isaac was the only son he had by Sarah and the only son of the covenant. Therefore, it is the uniqueness of Isaac among the other sons that allows for the use of monogenes in that context.
The second definition is “pertaining to being the only one of its kind or class, unique in kind.” This is the meaning that is implied in John 3:16 (see also John 1:14, 18; 3:18; 1 John 4:9). John was primarily concerned with demonstrating that Jesus is the Son of God (John 20:31), and he uses monogenes to highlight Jesus as uniquely God’s Son—sharing the same divine nature as God—as opposed to believers who are God’s sons and daughters by adoption (Ephesians 1:5). Jesus is God’s “one and only” Son.
The bottom line is that terms such as “Father” and “Son,” descriptive of God and Jesus, are human terms that help us understand the relationship between the different Persons of the Trinity. If you can understand the relationship between a human father and a human son, then you can understand, in part, the relationship between the First and Second Persons of the Trinity. The analogy breaks down if you try to take it too far and teach, as some Christian cults (such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses), that Jesus was literally “begotten” as in “produced” or “created” by God the Father. https://www.gotquestions.org/only-begotten-son.html
More about The Son:
Hebrews 1:3 makes it clear that the Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the representation of God’s being. “Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high” Hebrews 1:3
In contrast, here’s another great usage of the word “son” in the bible which helped me understand more clearly:
Another example can be found in John 17:12 where Judas is described as the “son of perdition.” John 6:71 tells us that Judas was the son of Simon. What does John 17:12 mean by describing Judas as the “son of perdition”? The word perdition means “destruction, ruin, waste.” Judas was not the literal son of “ruin, destruction, and waste,” but those things were the identity of Judas’ life. Judas was a manifestation of perdition. In this same way, Jesus is the Son of God. The Son of God is God. Jesus is God made manifest (John 1:1, 14).”
There are multiple examples in the Bible which confirm Jesus as being God in the flesh:
Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.” Acts 20:28 – Who purchased the church with his own blood? God did!
John 10:33, “The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.” The Jews tried stoning Jesus for making Himself God. Jesus calmed them down for a moment and then a few sentences later in verse 38 He said, “But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him.” When He said this, “The Father is in me and I in him” they tried stoning Him again because he was claiming to be God once again.
“And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.” John 20:28 – Thomas the disciple called Jesus God. Jesus does not correct him.
In Hebrews 1:8 the Father declares of Jesus, “But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.” The Father refers to Jesus as “O God”, confirming that Jesus is indeed God in bodily form.
In Revelation, an angel instructed the apostle John to only worship God (Revelation 19:10). Several times in Scripture Jesus receives worship (Matthew 2:11; 14:33; 28:9, 17; Luke 24:52; John 9:38). Jesus never rebukes people for worshiping Him. If Jesus were not God, He would have told people to not worship Him, just as the angel in Revelation did.
“Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.” John 8:58 Jesus used the same “I am” that God used with Moses, which the Jews were so aware of. This was a clear declaration of His own divinity.
In summary, I’ve learned a great deal. It has taken a lot of time, but I pulled a great big kudzu weed from my garden when I learned the truth of Jesus’ divinity. Jesus is not God’s literal sired son. God did not have “he and she time” with Mary and together, with her, produce a son. Jesus is God’s son in the sense that He is God made manifest in the flesh, in human form. Jesus is God’s son in the sense that He was conceived in Mary through the Holy Spirit. Just before His death, Jesus was accused of blasphemy for claiming to be the Son of God. The Jewish leaders understood exactly what it meant by the phrase “Son of God”. To be the Son of God meant He was “of God” or the same nature as God. Claiming to be of the same nature as God was claiming to be God.
“I and my Father are one” John 10:30