In 1838, Joseph Smith was asked, "What are the fundamental principles of your religion?" He replied:
The fundamental principles of our religion is the testimony of the apostles and prophets concerning Jesus Christ, “that he died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended up into heaven;” and all other things are only appendages to these, which pertain to our religion.1
Jesus Christ is central to Mormon beliefs.2,3 Most Mormon congregations display a portrait of Christ (i.e. Christ in the Red Robe) painted by LDS church member Del Parsons after he was commissioned to do so in 1983 by church leadership.
Mormon beliefs about Jesus (a.k.a. Mormon Christology) have many similarities with mainstream Christian beliefs about Jesus, while others are notably different.
In common with mainstream Christianity, Mormons believe the following:
- Jesus is the Son of God2
- Jesus is the Savior of humanity2
- Jesus existed before his birth3
- the world was created by and through him2 4
- Jesus was predicted by prophets3
- Jesus was born of Mary but not Joseph3
- Mary was a virgin when she gave birth to Jesus3 5
- as the son of God and Mary, Jesus is both man and God3
- Jesus lived a sinless life2
- Jesus worked miracles2
- Jesus was crucified for sins (the "atonement")2
- Jesus was raised from the dead on the third day2
- salvation is only possible through Jesus3
- Jesus will return in the Second Coming, which will happen soon but "no one knows the hour"3
Distinctive Mormon beliefs about Jesus, not shared by mainstream Christian denominations, include the following:
- Jesus did not exist eternally; he was the "firstborn spirit child of God the Father"3
- Jesus is identical with "Jehovah" in the New Testament2
- Jesus is the literal, biological son of God the Father, who has an immortal physical body3
- Jesus has a physical, immortal body6 3
- Jesus is an entirely separate being from his Father, though they are united in purpose (see "Godhead")
- Jesus appeared to ancient Native Americans called Nephites after his resurrection2
- Jesus and God the Father appeared to Joseph Smith in 1820 and subsequently other latter-day prophets2 3
- humans can become divine like Jesus; he is our Elder Brother3
The Encyclopedia of Mormonism published by Brigham Young University explains:
President Ezra Taft Benson stated, "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints 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 fathered by that same Holy Being we worship as God, our Eternal Father. Jesus was not the son of Joseph, nor was He begotten by the Holy Ghost. He is the Son of the Eternal Father!" (Benson, p. 4). From mary, a mortal woman, Jesus inherited mortality, including the capacity to die. From his exalted Father he inherited immortality, the capacity to live forever.
Van De Graaf, “Physical Body.” Encyclopedia of Mormonism. “God the Father and Jesus Christ, both perfected and glorified beings, possess tangible resurrected bodies of flesh and bone (D&C 130:22).... To become like God, his children, too, must obtain physical bodies.” ↩
- “Jesus Christ.” LDS.org. Web. Accessed 7 Mar. 2017.
- “Mormonism: Beliefs: God.” BBC Religion & Ethics. Web. Accessed 7 Mar. 2017.
- “Jesus Christ.” Mormon.org. Web. Accessed 7 Mar. 2017.
- “D&C 76.” The Doctrine and Covenants. 22-24.
- “Are Mormons Christian?.” LDS.org. Web. Accessed 7 Mar. 2017.
- Colton, Eleanor. “Virgin Birth.” Encyclopedia of Mormonism. Web. Accessed 21 Mar. 2017.
- Davis, Michael. “Mormon vs Biblical Teachings about Jesus.” Michael Davis' Mormonism Homepage. Web. Accessed 21 Mar. 2017.
- Millet, Robert L.. “Jesus Christ.” Encyclopedia of Mormonism. Web. Accessed 21 Mar. 2017.
- Smith, Joseph (ed.). Elders’ Journal of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Far West, Missouri: 44.
- Van De Graaf, Kent M.. “Physical Body.” Encyclopedia of Mormonism. Web. Accessed 21 Mar. 2017.