News Articles

Patterson: Mormon president admits a different Christ than Christianity

WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP)–A statement by the president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints acknowledging Mormons do not believe in the same Jesus as traditional Christians confirms what most evangelicals have been claiming for years, Paige Patterson said in a letter to Mormon President Gordon B. Hinckley.
In a Sept. 2 letter, Patterson, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, referred to comments Hinckley made during a June 6 speaking engagement in Geneva, Switzerland, responding to those outside the Mormon church who say Mormons do not believe in the traditional Christ.
“The traditional Christ of whom they speak is not the Christ of whom I speak,” Hinckley was quoted on page seven in the June 20 issue of the Church News, a Mormon publication. “For the Christ of whom I speak has been revealed in the Dispensation of the Fullness of Times. He together with his Father, appeared to the boy Joseph Smith in the year 1820, and when Joseph left the grove that day, he knew more of the nature of God than all the learned ministers of the gospel of the ages.”
Patterson, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wake Forest, N.C., described Hinckley’s acknowledgment that Mormons and traditional Christians do not share beliefs in the same Jesus as refreshingly candid considering many Mormon missionaries and church spokesmen “in recent years have sought to minimize that distinction.”
“In my opinion, that enhances both your credibility and the reality that traditional Christians and Mormons believe in two different and distinctive views of Christ,” Patterson wrote. “Baptists, as you know, hold to a view of Jesus Christ that is based strictly on biblical revelation and they believe that Jesus was and is eternal God. This view is clearly at odds with your own faith that, as I understand it, confesses that he was sired by God, the heavenly father, in consort with his wife. He was in that sense a literal son of God. I also realize that you believe that Jesus existed as an eternal spirit form, but not in the sense as God or as the Son of God.”
Despite Hinckley’s published comments on the Mormon view of Jesus, a church spokesman still contends Latter-day Saints adhere to the New Testament account of Jesus.
“We believe that we have more information on the life of Christ than the Christian community already has,” said Mike Otterson, director of media relations for the Mormon Church. “That doesn’t mean that we don’t embrace the New Testament account of Christ.”
Otterson, who declined to comment specifically about Patterson’s letter, reiterated Mormons believe Jesus is the literal Son of God and that they hold to a Christ-centered faith that recognizes Jesus — not Joseph Smith — as the focus of their worship.
In his letter, Patterson also expressed his disagreement with the Mormon claim that it is “the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth.”
“If one does not have his faith in the genuine, biblical Christ, then it is our conviction that he is not a Christian,” Patterson stated in his letter to Hinckley. “We must therefore acknowledge that he is outside of the saving grace of the genuine and true biblical gospel. Sadly and regrettably, on this most critical issue our two respective confessional communities disagree.”

    About the Author

  • Lee Weeks