Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Satan's Relationship to Jesus Christ

      "Mormons believe that Jesus Christ and Satan are brothers!" That seems to be one of the more popular Mormon-bashing slurs. The statement implies that Mormons believe that Jesus Christ is in some way equal with the devil, which is blasphemous. In fact, Mormons never speak of Jesus Christ as Satan's brother or vice versa. The idea of equating the two is totally foreign to Mormon sentiment.

      But regardless of whether Mormons think of Jesus Christ and Satan as brothers, does their doctrine imply it? Not in the way that the criticism would have us believe. Mormons recognize, as do all Christians who read the Bible, that Satan was once known as Lucifer, and was an angel in heaven, but that he was cast out of heaven for rebellion and became the devil (Isaiah 14:12; Luke 10:18; Revelation 12:7-9). Because Mormons believe that Jesus Christ is a separate being from the Father, he shares a certain brotherhood will all the rest of God's children, which at one time included Lucifer.
      Mormon theology is unique in providing for the possibility of eternal families, but all family relationships must be sealed by the priesthood and are conditional on worthiness through repentance (Galatians 4:4-7, Doctrine and Covenants 132:7;15-18). Therefore, Satan cannot be considered Christ's brother, because when he fell from heaven, he also fell from his position in God's eternal family. It will always be true that Satan, like Jesus Christ and all of us, was begotten as a spirit child of God. But Jesus is the Only Begotten of the Father in the flesh, and has no siblings in that regard. The criticism ignores the full context of the situation in order to create controversy. Satan enjoys no benefits of a familial relationship with the Father, the Son, or anyone else. The criticism seeks to misrepresent how Mormons feel about their Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ.

In summary
Argument: Mormons believe that Jesus Christ and Satan are brothers, because both are children of God.
Response: Jesus Christ is the Firstborn of all the spirits begotten by God the Father, and the Only Begotten in the flesh. One of those spirit children was Lucifer, who became Satan, the devil, and was cast out. Although he is still a child of God—like Jesus Christ or any of us—he has fallen from his status as such. To say that Jesus and Satan are brothers is to misrepresent the situation.

References
Ludlow, Daniel H. "War in Heaven." Encyclopedia of Mormonism, New York: Macmillan, 1992.
Intellectual Reserve. Preach My Gospel: A Guide to Missionary Service (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2004), 155.

5 comments:

Samuel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Samuel said...

I erased my last post because it was incorrectly posted.
If jesus is not the same being as the father; and this lesser being, jesus, shares some sort of brotherhood with all other lesser beings, including Lucifer, who is Satan, then would it not be correctly said that Satan and Jesus are brothers? Or is there some sort of semantic argument you can make for the determining of degrees of brotherhood?

And just for the record, I am a Mormon Critic. My Faith is normed by the infallible and Spirit Inspired Scripture, the Creeds, and the Unaltered Augsburg confession, and those are in sequence of weightiness.

Sam

Travis Brinton said...

Thank you for your question. I would like to highlight this sentence from the post: "It will always be true that Satan came into being as a child of God, but that has nothing to do with his current status." It's true that Jesus Christ and Satan (and every one of us) are spirit children of the Father. But the point is that referring to those two as brothers gives a wrong impression about what we believe. Jesus Christ is divine, perfect, all-powerful, full of love, and omniscient. Satan is utterly evil and has no glory and no inheritance. He forfeited all blessings and status as a child of God. They cannot be compared, and we never think of them as brothers.

Samuel said...

Travis,
I understand what you are saying. But the question, I think, is not rooted in the attributes of each. But the actual relationship one has to the other. Since the Latter Day Saints do not believe that Jesus is the One and Only Begotten Son of God the Father, Begotten before all worlds, God of God and Light of Light, with one Substance with the Father, by whom all things were made,
and they believe that jesus was a child of the Father, fashioned in the same way as Satan and the rest of us, there is a logical connection for outsiders to make. Satan and jesus are brothers because they were born in the same way in heaven, whether or not their attributes are the same makes no difference then.

Sam

Travis Brinton said...

Because I am not here to convince, but to explain what I believe, I don't want to get much further into a discussion of the nature of the Godhead or Trinity. Besides, that's a larger question, perhaps for a later post. I think we've explored the meat of the question, but there are two things that I think I should have mentioned regarding the nature of Jesus Christ: First, he is the Only Begotten Son of the Father (John 1:14), meaning that he is the only one who is God's child in the flesh as well as in the spirit. Second, he is the firstborn of all the spirit children of God (Hebrews 1:6). So although it's correct in one specific sense to say that Christ is a brother to us all (Malachi 2:10; Acts 17:29; Romans 8:16), it is also true that he was greater from the very beginning.
Thanks again for commenting. I think I may alter the blog post to make it clearer.