Mormons are Christians. Mormonism is centered on Jesus Christ and His role as Creator and Redeemer. He is not only the center of Mormon worship, He leads the Church personally through revelation to His prophet (the President of the Church) and by giving the authority to church priesthood-holders to act in His name. Mormons are accused of not being Christians for two reasons: 1) because the Mormon Church has canonized scriptures in addition to the Bible, and 2) because Mormons believe in “a different Jesus.” These accusations are difficult for Mormons to comprehend. Mormons wish they had even more scriptures and know that more will be given as they are more worthy to receive them. As for a belief in a “different Christ,” Mormons have more information regarding Christ than any other church on earth.
The Pre-Mortal Christ
Christ was God before the earth existed. Christ is an eternal being. Through Him, God the Father created worlds without number. Nothing was created, except through Christ. In Mormon doctrine, the pre-mortal Christ is called “Jehovah.” When God speaks in the Old Testament, it is Jehovah that was speaking. In the Bible, to avoid using His name too often, and out of reverence, the word LORD is substituted. Mormon doctrine holds that all people have existed eternally as individual “intelligences,” and then that God the Father created us spiritually, before we came to earth.
“Man was also in the beginning with God. Intelligence, or the light of truth, was not created or made, neither indeed can be” (Doctrine and Covenants 93:29).
“Intelligence” is the essence of our being and has existed forever. Although Mormons don’t know a great deal about this, evidently our intelligence has also always been individual. The Lord said to the ancient prophet Abraham,
And the Lord said unto me: These two facts do exist, that there are two spirits, one being more intelligent than the other; there shall be another more intelligent than they; I am the Lord thy God, I am more intelligent than they all.” (Abraham 3:19)
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 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 (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, ed. 2, p. 129).
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. By obeying His commandments during mortality, we become His children in another sense. We are His, and He is God’s.
Jesus Christ as the Mortal Messiah
Jesus Christ was born into this world as the son of Mary (inheriting from her His mortality) and as the Son of God (inheriting from Him the powers of immortality). Christ grew in knowledge from grace to grace until He gained the fulness of all things. All power in heaven and earth was given to Him. He comprehends all things and is infinite in all His powers and knowledge.
The biblical record has given us a portion of Christ’s doings and teachings during His mortal ministry. The Book of Mormon gives an account of His post-resurrection visit to descendants of Israel in the Americas. That account also claims that Christ planned next to go to the Ten Lost Tribes. Thus, we do not have every account of Christ’s doings on earth. Mormon scriptures teach that every prophet since the beginning of time, including Adam, Abraham, and Moses, had a personal witness of Christ and understood the concept of the atonement to come. All of these prophets taught their followers about the Messiah, but many of these teachings have been deleted or adulterated through the years from the biblical record.
Jesus Christ suffered the wrath of God for all the sins of mankind both in Gethsemane and on the cross. Because of His atonement, we need not suffer for our own sins, if we choose to repent and come unto Christ. Christ also suffered all our mourning, loss, insecurities, sorrows, and mistakes, so that the atonement can lead us to peace during our mortal lives in addition to the eternities. Resurrection is His gift to all living things. Exaltation is earned on conditions of repentance.
Christ will come again the second time in power and glory to destroy the wicked and usher in one thousand years of peace during which He will personally reign on earth. After the “Millennium,” a last final battle between good and evil will take place, wherein Christ will triumph and Satan and his followers will be cast out forever.
The Immortal Christ
Jesus Christ was the firstfruits of the resurrection and made resurrection possible for all. He now has a perfect and glorified resurrected body of flesh and bone and dwells with God in the Celestial Kingdom, worlds without end. He continues to rule in the eternities. Those who are saved and exalted in the highest heavenly kingdom receive all that He has—perfection, knowledge, wisdom, and power—yet never take His place as the eternal God.
Some scriptures to ponder
And after many days an angel of the Lord appeared unto Adam, saying: Why dost thou offer sacrifices unto the Lord? And Adam said unto him: I know not, save the Lord commanded me. And then the angel spake, saying: This thing is a similitude of the sacrifice of the Only Begotten of the Father, which is full of grace and truth. Wherefore, thou shalt do all that thou doest in the name of the Son, and thou shalt repent and call upon God in the name of the Son forevermore. And in that day the Holy Ghost fell upon Adam, which beareth record of the Father and the Son, saying: I am the Only Begotten of the Father from the beginning, henceforth and forever, that as thou hast fallen thou mayest be redeemed, and all mankind, even as many as will (Pearl of Great Price, Moses 5:6–9).
The words of God, which he spake unto Moses at a time when Moses was caught up into an exceedingly high mountain, And he saw God face to face, and he talked with him, and the glory of God was upon Moses; therefore Moses could endure his presence. . . . I have a work for thee, Moses, my son; and thou art in the similitude of mine Only Begotten; and mine Only Begotten is and shall be the Savior, for he is full of grace and truth; but there is no God beside me, and all things are present with me, for I know them all (Pearl of Great Price, Moses 1:1, 2, 6).
And now, my beloved brethren, and also Jew, and all ye ends of the earth, hearken unto these words and believe in Christ; and if ye believe not in these words believe in Christ. And if ye shall believe in Christ ye will believe in these words, for they are the words of Christ, and he hath given them unto me; and they teach all men that they should do good. And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins. (Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 33:10; 25:26—about 550 B.C.).
Wherefore, I the Lord, knowing the calamity which should come upon the inhabitants of the earth, called upon my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., and spake unto him from heaven, and gave him commandments; And also gave commandments to others, that they should proclaim these things unto the world; and all this that it might be fulfilled, which was written by the prophets—The weak things of the world shall come forth and break down the mighty and strong ones, that man should not counsel his fellow man, neither trust in the arm of flesh—But that every man might speak in the name of God the Lord, even the Savior of the world; That faith also might increase in the earth; That mine everlasting covenant might be established; That the fulness of my gospel might be proclaimed by the weak and the simple unto the ends of the world, and before kings and rulers. Behold, I am God and have spoken it; these commandments are of me, and were given unto my servants in their weakness, after the manner of their language, that they might come to understanding (Doctrine and Covenants 1:17–24).
And while we meditated upon these things, the Lord touched the eyes of our understandings and they were opened, and the glory of the Lord shone round about. And we beheld the glory of the Son, on the right hand of the Father, and received of his fulness; And saw the holy angels, and them who are sanctified before his throne, worshiping God, and the Lamb, who worship him forever and ever. And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives! For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father— That by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God (Doctrine and Covenants 76:19–24).
More on the Atonement of Jesus Christ
More on Second Coming of Jesus Christ