A Different Jesus Book Review – Life After Ministries

A Different Jesus
Book Review by Michelle Grim 

     When I think of Jesus I am reminded of the blind man He healed and the questions He must have answered in the temple at the age of twelve.  I imagine myself sitting on a hillside drinking in every word He said about the sparrows and lilies never worrying about their next day.  I try to place myself in His presence while He walked through the dusty roads of Jerusalem and I tremble when I think of what it must have been like to hear Him when He said that in “three days I can rebuild this temple”. 
    

     From the time I was a small child I have always been drawn to the gospels simply because they contain countless scenarios of Him interacting with the people.  It’s as if the world around me fades away and I am drawn in time and again.  Of course nothing can compare to the timeless account of His crucifixion and ultimate resurrection.

     Words are very powerful for not only me, but for everyone in life.  People can either command or demand attention by them with the inflection of their voice.  While there are some in life who are powerful because of their profession or which family they were born into; there are people who hold power by the words they choose to employ.  Someone holding a title of president of a church or a seminary will gain people’s attention by merely stating their name and title.  This is what I couldn’t stop thinking of when I read “A Different Jesus”.  The author is the BYU professor of Religious Studies, Robert L. Millet.  His book is an apologetic look at the Mormon Jesus vs. the traditional Jesus of the Judeo-Christians belief.  In all honesty I should state that it is more of what I see as the wolf in sheep’s clothing trying to sneak in the back gate. 

     For the past few years the Mormon Church has gone out of its way to try and meld itself into the mainstream denominations of the Protestant world and this is just another ploy by them to do so. I can’t count the number of times a pastor has called me to say that their congregation was visited by the missionaries or that they were waiting out in the parking lot of their church for the sermon to end.  This book is what this reminds me of and the reason why is because of who published it and who contributed to its compilation.

     I am thoroughly appalled by the fact that Eerdman’s published this book and that Richard Mouw, President of Fuller Theological Seminary, in addition to encouraging Eerdmans to do it, wrote the forward as well.  While Mouw does not ascribe to any of the Church’s teachings he clearly stated the evangelicals should rethink the way we ‘confront’ the differences between Mormonism and traditional Christianity.  On the surface this may sound benign but looking further into the details of what goes on in the mind of the Mormon it should be highly discouraged to come alongside them in this manner.  I am all for being kind to the Mormon people.  I was a sixth generation Mormon from Utah and I can still feel the rush of hot anger climbing up my face after rudely being told that I was going to hell.  It only added fuel to my fire of hating any non-Mormon but especially the ‘so-called Christian’, as I was taught to call them.

 

     The Ominous Restoration  

 

  

     On page 65 of Millet’s book he said; “For the Latter-day Saints, the work of “restoration” is a work in progress, just as it was for those who might be called the Former-day Saints. 

     In other words the theology of their brand of Christianity is ever evolving.  There will always be something new to be learned about Jesus in regards to his divinity or the new laws his father might employ in the future.  By tagging the phrase “thus saith the Lord” at the end of any sentence your salvation is now in jeopardy if you do not comply with the “suggestions” that are a result of their new revelations.  In the real world of Mormonism this is also known as the Law of Eternal Progression.

     For those of you who are unaware of the intimate details of Mormonism, it needs to be understood the whole concept for the need of a restoration of the Christian church rests on Joseph Smith’s vision.  If his story of the vision is disproved, then the entire belief system of Mormonism unravels on itself.  The Church says so as well!

     “Mormonism, as it is called, must stand or fall on the story of Joseph Smith. He was either a prophet of God, divinely called, properly appointed and commissioned, or he was one of the biggest frauds this world has ever seen. There is no middle ground.  If Joseph Smith was a deceiver, who wilfully attempted to mislead the people, then he should be exposed; his claims should be refuted, and his doctrines shown to be false, for the doctrines of an impostor cannot be made to harmonize in all particulars with divine truth. If his claims and declarations were built upon fraud and deceit, there would appear many errors and contradictions, which would be easy to detect. The doctrines of false teachers will not stand the test when tried by the accepted standards of measurement, the scriptures.” Doctrines of Salvation, Vol. 1: 188.

     In chapter three the book goes into great detail of why a restoration was necessary while at the same time trying to back-peddle on what Joseph Smith really meant when he said the church was ‘the only true church on the face of the earth’.  He has quoted many of the Mormon scholars and their interpretations of what Smith might have been trying to express but they, as well as Millet are not telling us the truth.  Smith clearly stated in D&C 1:30:  And also those to whom these commandments were given, might have power to lay the foundation of this church, and to bring it forth out of obscurity and out of darkness, the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth…”  Or when Smith wrote down his ‘revelation’ as listed in the Book of Mormon calling the church the whore of all the earth.  1 Nephi 14:9-10 is just one example of this.  How do you explain to the body of Christ that being called a whore is not so bad? 

     His attempt at trying to explain the reasoning for a restoration is ambiguous and outright shameful at best.  Most if not all serious Christians, do not live their lives in a vacuum where they just take in any information given to them and seal it to their souls as truth.  There is studying to be done, verifications to be made through the Bible and the not so extraneous information that is being presented.  If, as they say, there are major theological differences between what Smith taught and what the Bible has always said then someone is wrong.  It leads me back to the vast differences in the terminology between the two.

 

The “dramatically altered” Jesus of Mormonism

 

    “The Christ of the Latter-day Saints” is the title for chapter four.  Mr. Millet says that the members of the LDSChurch can claim to be Christians based on their “doctrines, relationships and lifestyles”.  Let’s take a look at whom they believe Jesus Christ to be.

     They believe that “Jesus was the Only Begotten Son in the flesh”.  In reality this means they believe the Mormon god came down here to earth to beget Jesus in the natural way that man does this.  Brigham Young said that the Jesus was not begotten by the Holy Ghost else it would be ‘dangerous to confirm females and give them the gift of the Holy Ghost’, Journal of Discourses .  Millet states the historical story of Jesus as recorded in the gospels are “truthful” and “is indeed the Christ of faith” but in the same sentence he tells his readers they “do not believe the Bible to be the inerrant, complete or final word of God”.  My question to this doctrine:  why even believe in the Jesus of the Bible if you don’t believe the Bible to be inerrant?

     He went on to say that Jesus “inherited powers of Godhood and divinity from his Father, including immortality”.  Also that Jesus “possessed the powers of a God”.  (Emphasis mine).  Jesus did not inherit any power of godhood since He is God.  How do you inherit something that is already yours to begin with?  The meaning for inherit from www.dictionary.com says:  to receive from an ancestor.  Each of the other five definitions for inherit describes this word with ‘receive’.  If Jesus already possessed the powers of a god why then did he have to inherit them?  This type of logic just doesn’t make sense!

     “Altered dramatically” is the term Millet used to describe the changes in the traditional understanding of scripture, our understanding of the nature and character of the Godhead and the heavens.  I’ve never heard any Mormon openly admit this while at the same time tell me we believe in the same Jesus.  It’s too bad their missionaries don’t use that same phrase when they go knocking on the door of the unsuspecting; or better yet why don’t all the bishops say this to their parishioners in the Sacrament Meetings?  People like my mother aren’t going out to purchase this book to read and find this kind of information!  No, people like my mother will continue going to their meetings and never hear that what the Mormon Church teaches about Jesus is in direct opposition to the Bible.

     The last chapter is entitled “Recurring Questions” which I believe is Mormonism in a nutshell.  Millet answers basic questions that Mormons receive repeatedly from the non-Mormon world.  On page 140 he says this about those who oppose the Church; “In one sense, Latter-day Satins have been the target of anti-Mormon propaganda since 1830.  This is nothing new.  But in the last few decades the mount of polemical material has increased dramatically, some of it not only uncomplimentary but even blatantly false.  One might be prone to dismiss my story above on the basis that the analogy does not hold…

     Now this is something I would definitely agree with!  It’s hard to believe that people could say anything derogatory about Mormonism because of the aesthetic persona they portray, but their own doctrine begs all people to investigate their teachings and expose the truth!  Since the inception of the Church there has been opposition to the doctrines from the true believers.  Smith prophesied in D&C 71:10 that whenever someone came up against them then the one who would oppose them will be confounded.  This is a false prophecy!  I’m not confounded and I’ve known hundreds of others who haven’t been confounded either!

     In point seven of who they believe Jesus to be, Professor Millet stated that “because he kept the law of God, Jesus was in the Father and the Father was in Jesus…though they were two separate and distinct persons, they were one – infinitely more than separate”.  (Page 148).  This is their reasoning for what Paul said in 1 Corinthians ; “For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.”

     This belief alone disqualifies them from being Christians.  John says in 1 John 4:2-3; “Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:  And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.”  It’s pretty simple as John has stated here – if you deny the Deity, you are not a Christian, but you have the spirit of the antichrist.

     The theme of the book proves they are one of the antichrists as we saw above and I highly discourage anyone to take much of anything Millet says as truth.  In addition to this we are also told by numerous writers of the Bible to tell the truth.  We are to warn others of impending danger that comes in the form of false teachers – 2 Corinthians 11:14.   Remember my friend that even Satan can disguise himself as an angel of light.

    It’s amazing to me that books such as these are written and then endorsed by the LDSChurch without anyone getting their feathers ruffled.  It’s not like Millet is just another pew warmer!  There was just enough truth in between the front and back covers to sound ‘Christian’ and this my friend is the true danger.  When the true body of Christ (Bible believing Christians) even stand to endorse writings such as these then we’re just as much at fault as the cults.

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