IS THE “SPIRIT” OF MORMONISM TRUE BECAUSE IT CONFESSES JESUS HAS COME IN THE FLESH?
1 JOHN 4:2-3; 2 JOHN 7: “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…. For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.”
–– Do these passages prove that the “spirit” of Mormonism is true because it confesses Jesus has come in the flesh?
Mormon founder, Joseph Smith, Jr claimed that in 1823 he was visited by an angel of light, named Moroni, who testified to him that Jesus is the “Christ” and that God had a work for him to do in translating a book written on gold plates, giving the account of former inhabitants of America to whom, allegedly, Christ came in the flesh and proclaimed the “fullness of the everlasting Gospel.” In order to obtain credibility for their assertions regarding this message from the angel Moroni, Latter-day Saints (Mormons) appeal to passages in 1st and 2nd John that speak of the fact that a false spirit does not testify that Jesus has come in the flesh. They claim that the angel Mormon could not have originated from Satan since he spoke of Christ’s coming in the flesh.
While it is true that 1 John 4:2-3 and 2 John 7, describe a specific heresy that false spirits would espouse, these verses are not intended to be an all-encompassing test for the truthfulness of angelic beings. However, in understanding the historical background surrounding John’s warnings, the principles held in these passages can be applied to Mormonism.
It is important to recognize that 1 John was written to counter some of the religious ideas of a sect known as Gnosticism. The Gnostics pre-dated Christianity. Named after the Greek word “gnosis” for “knowledge,” Gnosticism combined Jewish and Christian elements of faith with eastern mythology and Greek philosophy to produce an ideology possessing a kind of secret knowledge of Christ. The primary difference between the Christian view of God and the Gnostic belief centered on its concept that God, who was purely good, could not have created the physical world because it contained evil. Thus, Gnosticism held that various other forces, known as the children of God, created the physical world and that Christ was merely one of these children who descended to earth to share this “secret knowledge” that only the Gnostics claimed to posses.
Adhering to a dualistic concept in which spirit is viewed as good and flesh evil, Gnosticism held that Christ’ divine spirit descended into the man Jesus at his baptism and left him before the cross, leaving the man Jesus devoid of His Divine “Christ” spirit at his birth and at his death. The danger of Gnosticism is evident as it denies the incarnation of God as the Son, and in so doing, denies the true effectiveness of the atonement since, if Jesus is not God, He could not atone for all of mankind’s sins, leaving us without a Savior.
When we take into consideration the reasons why John warned against the “antichrist” spirits of Gnosticism which denied that Christ had come in the flesh and, in so doing, distorted the true nature of Jesus and His atonement, it is evident that Mormonism also falls under condemnation, for it distorts the nature of Christ in reference to His Deity.
By claiming that Jesus had to “earn” his Godhood (see Mormon Doctrine, p. 129) and that He is the spirit-brother of Lucifer and all mankind (see Encyclopedia of Mormonism, vol. 4, 1992, p. 1670), Mormonism relegates Christ to a mere creature–far from the Eternal God who never had a “beginning of days” (see Hebrews 7:3) and who never had to “earn” his Godhood because He has always been and will continue to be “God” from eternity past to eternity future (see Isaiah 9:6). Hence, while Mormonism is the opposite of Gnosticism in reference to its view of Christ’s human nature, it is similar to Gnostics heresy in that it distorts a key aspect of Christ’s person – i.e., His Deity.
Thus, we see Satan’s tactics do not change but are merely repackaged, applying truth mixed with error to deceive people. Just as the Bible warns, Satan goes about disguising himself as an “angel of light” (2 Cor 11:14) and can be identified by his distortion of the truth concerning Christ’s nature. Whether the distortion is focused on Jesus’ humanity or His Divinity, it is still deception.
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