It Comes Down To Jesus

Recently I was confronted by two groups of people, on separate occasions, who most of us know a little about: Jehovah’s Witnesses and young Mormon missionaries offering their literature door-to-door. I’m always struck by the practiced, almost-corporate manner of these conversations. Of course, I’m not naive -- they have dozens of such exchanges every day and are playing a “numbers game” trying to hook interested parties.

So, as I often do, I engaged and had a short conversation. They, like many other pseudo-Christian groups, try to start the conversation by highlighting all of our similarities. They try to find some common ground. For the JWs, it’s about a shared concern for the future, anxiety over things in the news or war in the Middle East, and questions about what happens after we die. Everybody can relate, right? The Mormons also tap into similar concerns, while emphasizing how CHRISTIAN they really are -- “We also believe in Jesus! We love the Bible! We live by longheld Christian moral standards and promote family values, just like you!”

Before I say anything else, I want to be clear that I appreciate anybody out there who is living a clean, moral life, and being a positive influence in the community. But once you get past these basic similarities, the actual theology, Christology, and approach to the scriptures for groups like these is vastly different than what is true Biblical Christianity. In fact, it’s in the word itself (CHRISTianity) that the biggest problem is found. When I talk to Mormons and JWs, I try to get past all the superficial stuff and cut to the chase: “What do you think about Jesus?”

While both of these religious groups use some of the common language about Jesus, they do not believe He is co-equal with the Father. They regard Jesus as the first born of God, but He is a created being, inferior and subordinate to God, with certain attributes that make Him like God. He might be, in some sense, divine, but it is only an inherited trait.

In Joseph Smith’s own words, Jesus Christ is “God the Second, the Redeemer.” And according to the JW’s website, they claim to have “learned from the Bible that Jesus is not Almighty God and that there is no scriptural basis for the Trinity doctrine.”

While there might be plenty of other differences to dwell upon (worship practices, hierarchical structures, use of terminology), the most substantial issue is Jesus Christ. If we deny Him, we also deny the Father (1 John 2:22-23). If we relegate Jesus to anything but the highest place of supremacy, then we are not respecting the co-equality espoused by God Himself (Eph. 1:20-23, Phil. 2:9-11). Jesus, by His own admission, claimed equality and absolute authority (John 10:30, 14:8-11). Even the people who hated Jesus most understood Him (John 5:18).