I am one of three Jim Wallace’s in my family. My father and son bear the same name, and all three of us are police officers. I often say that we are the “George Foreman’s” of law enforcement; we’re not very creative when it comes to names. If someone asked you, therefore, “Do you trust Jim Wallace as a police officer?” the first thing you’d have to determine is, “To which officer Jim Wallace are you referring?” In order to answer the second question, you’d have to examine the nature of the Jim you are trying to identify. Are you talking about the Jim who worked in Patrol? All three of us did that. Are you talking about the Jim who crashed his police vehicle? All three of us did that. Are you talking about the Jim who served on SWAT? Now you’ve started to limit the field slightly (only two of us have served in that capacity so far). Are you talking about the Jim who worked undercover as a surveillance officer? Now you’ve identified only one of us: me. It turns out that my identity is tied to my descriptive characteristics; my nature matters. While I am similar to the other Jim Wallace’s in my family, the more you examine the details, the more dissimilar I become. My identity is more than my name; it is the collection of my unique characteristics and features.
Jesus is Not Jesus If You Change His Nature
In a similar way, if you were to ask my Mormon friends and family, “Do you trust Jesus as your Savior?” the first thing you’d have to determine is, “To which Jesus are you referring?” In order to answer the second question, you’ll have to once again examine the nature of the Jesus you are trying to identify. The Mormon Jesus can be described in the following way:
Jesus was first “procreated” as a spirit child of Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother, then later conceived in an act of physical sexual intercourse between God the Father and Mary. He is the spirit brother of Satan, and is rather common in terms of His nature (in that he is one of many gods who share the same nature). Jesus earned His salvation through good works, eventually being exalted into godhood (like other obedient Mormons have been and will be). He is not a member of the triune Godhead but is instead a separate god from God the Father.
This description is quite different from the Jesus of Christianity:
Jesus is the uncreated, unique God of the universe, the Second Person of the triune Godhead. He was conceived by the Holy Spirit who supernaturally “overshadowed” Mary (she, therefore, remained a true virgin). Jesus was (and is) eternally perfect and sinless; for this reason, He’s never needed to earn His salvation.
The Mormon Jesus and the Christian Jesus Are Two Different Beings
While Mormons and Christians may refer to Jesus by name, they are clearly describing two different beings. Jesus’ identity is more than His name; it is the collection of His unique characteristics and features. In many ways, I am far more similar to the other Jim Wallace’s in my family than the Mormon Jesus is to the historic, orthodox Jesus of Christianity. When we ask our Mormon friends and family members, “Do you trust Jesus as your Savior?” they will most certainly answer in the affirmative. But the more important question is the second one we’ve been examining: “To which Jesus are you referring?” In answering this second question, it’s quickly apparent we are talking about two different beings. The earliest prophets of Mormonism (Joseph Smith and Brigham Young) understood the differences between the Mormon Jesus and the Christian Christ. Neither Smith nor Young had any interest in being identified as Christians; they rejected Christianity as a corrupt theistic system that needed restoration and saw Mormonism as the true restoration of the faith, including its redefinition of Jesus. While modern Mormons may want to identify themselves as Christians, the Jesus that Mormons trust as their savior is not the same Jesus trusted by Christians. Mormons are not Christians because the Mormon Jesus is not the Christian Christ. That’s why our team is here in Salt Lake City this week, talking about the differences between the Mormonism and Christianity and hoping to introduce Mormons to the Jesus of the Bible.
For more information about the reliability of the New Testament gospels and the case for Christianity, please read Cold-Case Christianity: A Homicide Detective Investigates the Claims of the Gospels. This book teaches readers ten principles of cold-case investigations and applies these strategies to investigate the claims of the gospel authors. The book is accompanied by an eight-session Cold-Case Christianity DVD Set (and Participant’s Guide) to help individuals or small groups examine the evidence and make the case.
J. Warner Wallace is a Dateline featured Cold-Case Detective, Senior Fellow at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, Adj. Professor of Christian Apologetics at Talbot School of Theology, Biola University, author of Cold-Case Christianity, God’s Crime Scene, and Forensic Faith, and creator of the Case Makers Academy for kids.
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