Paul Derengowski, ThM
Few doctrines within the Mormon religion are more blasphemous than the one which declares the Jesus and Satan are brothers. Of course some Mormons are appalled that any Christian should even bring up the subject, citing that to do so is to “shock” those on the outside Mormonism who may not otherwise be familiar with such teaching. 1 Nevertheless, the Mormon disgust is unwarranted, since it is the Christian’s duty to expose such aberrant doctrines so that not only may other Christians be warned, but also that those unwary of Mormonism’s false teaching might be prepared if they are considering Mormonism as a viable option in their spiritual quest for truth. 2 Besides, to think that God could be equated with Satan is just plain shocking, and to try and shame Christians into thinking that it is not shocking is to engage in mind manipulation and callous desensitization whereby the Mormon hopes to get the Christian to focus on the “kinder and gentler” commonalities between Mormons and Christians, rather than the absolutely blatant differences that keep them apart.
It is the object, therefore, of this paper to discuss the satanic brotherhood of Jesus and Satan as found within the Mormon belief structure. Just why do Mormons believe that Jesus and Satan are brothers? Where could such a belief even originate? Does the Bible give any indication that Jesus and Satan are brothers, or does it tell us something completely contrary? What about the Early Christians? Did they honestly believe that Jesus and Satan were the spiritual offspring of God the Father and one of his polygamously married wives? If so, does that make Jesus a created being? Are angels, humans, and Jesus all of the same species? Finally, just what is the primary doctrine in Mormonism that gives impetus to the whole Jesus-Satan doctrine which argues that they are rival siblings? The “shocking” answers to these questions will be provided as we look at a Mormon doctrine that clearly sets it apart from Christian thought.
The Sufficiency of the Bible
The reason for starting our examination of this doctrine with a brief statement about Bible sufficiency is that unless one goes outside the bounds of biblical authority, one is not going to find that Jesus and Satan are brothers. Mormons admit that the Bible is something special, only to turn right around and contradict its content and authority when Mormon beliefs take precedence. Such contradiction often extends to isolating Bible verses and passages from their contexts whereby Mormon doctrines are derived, whether it is the promotion of polygamy, sin being the necessary factor in propagating the human race, or as in the case of the topic of this paper, Jesus and Satan become “spirit brothers.” And when nothing can be culled from the Bible to support Mormonism’s aberrant doctrines, extra-biblical sources of authority supercede biblical revelation to make the Mormon belief system come to life.
With a Christian, though, the Bible is completely sufficient for all matters of faith and practice. It is the inerrant Word of God. King David once wrote, “The words of the Lord are pure words; As silver tried in a furnace on the earth, refined seven times” (Ps. 12:6). Mormons have often mocked such confidence in the Bible by rhetorical stating that all of God’s revelation cannot possibly be contained within one book, or that God has always spoken to prophets in the past, and hence there is no reason why He still doesn’t today. 3 Typically, passages such as Ephesians 4:11 are cited to make the case for ongoing contemporary revelation, all of which is found only within the confines of the Mormon religion, of course. Such misquoting of Scripture, however, is indicative of a religion that does not find its beliefs within the Bible, but outside of it.
The same is true when approaching the subject of Jesus and Satan, and their identities. As will be seen, the Bible is quite clear in identifying just who those two persons are, and it is only through an absolute perversion or denial of biblical revelation, coupled with a confidence in extra-biblical writings and pronouncements—that completely contradicts the Bible—that would lead to a doctrine that states just the opposite of what God had revealed in the first place. God obviously has not chosen to infinitely reveal all that He wishes for man to know within the 66 books which comprises the Bible, whether it be about Jesus or Satan. It would be impossible to do so anyway. Nevertheless, that which He has revealed is sufficient for humans to understand just who and what they are, and to deny it is to lead to all kinds of falsification. Moreover, the clarity of that revelation is enough to assist the discerning and prudent person when someone comes along and proclaims something contrary to it.
The Deity of Jesus
A full exposition of the deity of Jesus is outside the scope of this paper, but it must be mentioned at least in passing that to forget that Jesus was 100% God 4 is to leave him in the category of a mere creature. Furthermore, to overlook the fact that Jesus was God, the second person in the Trinity 5, and to relegate him to the status of a demigod, as what many of the cults today do (i.e., the Jehovah’s Witnesses and Christadelphians), is to eventually repeat the heresies of the past, which looked at Jesus as a superhuman creature. In fact, it was due to the misidentification of Jesus that sparked the convention at Nicaea in 325 A.D. 6 Jesus was assumed by Arius to be nothing more than a creature with superhuman abilities, which Alexander and Athanasius argued to be false, and Constantine agreed.
Yet, more importantly, it is because of Jesus’ deity that distinguishes him from creation, and more particularly Satan. For God’s essence, or that which makes God what He is, is totally different from that which He created. God is an eternal being, who has always existed and subsisted within Himself. He needs no eternal impetus to exist, nor is He contingent upon anything or anyone outside Himself to exist. The medieval theologian Bernard of Clairvaux wrote, “What is God? That without which nothing exists (Jn. 1:3). Just as nothing exists without him, so he cannot exist without himself. He exists for himself and for all, and so in some way he alone exists who is his own existence and that of everything else.” 7 Those same qualities of eternality and aseity are coequally shared with each person in the Godhead, and more specifically in this case, Jesus. All other things that do not share these godly qualities are not God, and are hence something other than God. Some may argue to the contrary that the universe is eternal and self-existent, yet such assumptions are contrary to both biblical revelation and contemporary science which states that the universe had a beginning, is not eternal, and is completely contingent upon an external intelligence for its existence. 8 And since Jesus is God, then those eternal and self-existent qualities that constitute God’s being are shared by Jesus. Jesus is eternal and self-existent as well, in other words, and hence is totally different from that which is created, even though he took upon himself a human nature. 9
Jesus’ “First-born” Status
Prōtotokos. An area of confusion that Mormonism has created by ignoring both the context and linguistic usage of a frequently used word found in the Septuagint (LXX) and the New Testament (NT) has also led to a misidentification of the person Jesus, and ultimately led to a false relationship between Jesus and Satan. That word is prōtotokos (πρωτότοκος), or its English translation “first-born.” To a Mormon when the term is used an image is brought to mind of a Heavenly Father siring with a Heavenly Mother the spirit-child that would become Jesus. This idea is later confused with another Greek term, monogenēs (μονογενής), which is usually translated “only-begotten,” to try and make Jesus appear to be preeminent among all of God’s children, including Satan. Joseph Fielding Smith made this evident when he wrote, “Our Father in heaven is the Father of Jesus Christ, both in the spirit and in the flesh. Our Savior is the Firstborn in the spirit, the Only Begotten in the flesh.” 10 Implicit in the misinterpretations of both words is a naturalistic theology that actually denies the ontological difference between Jesus and his creation, but also the supernatural act of God to bring Jesus into the world as its Savior.
In the first instance, the word prōtotokos does not mean that God naturally sired the spirit-child called Jesus, and until such action occurred, Jesus existed as a mere nebulous “intelligence” 11 floating about in a universe that God did not create, but simply rearranged. Prōtotokos is used 127 times in the Septuagint (LXX) 12 and eight times in the New Testament (NT) 13 and typically denotes that something or someone is first in a familial line, first in production, or first in excellence, although in the LXX prōtogenēma (πρωτογενήμα) is often used to denote “first-fruits.” 14 When the term is used in reference to the person of Jesus, several different nuances are seen which demonstrate Jesus’ preeminence in creation due to his relationship with God, as God, rather than some naturalistic explanation that recognizes Jesus’ significance with empty words. One particular refer which stands out, and is often misinterpreted by many, including the Mormons. That reference is Colossians 1:15-18. The apostle Paul, in an effort to refute the proto-Gnostic propaganda being taught in his day concerning the person of Jesus, wrote,
And He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created by Him and for Him. 17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.18 He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the first-born from the dead; so that He Himself might come to have first place in everything.
Here Paul is stressing Jesus’ preeminence over creation by attributing creatorship to Jesus, and then further attributing to him that which could only belong to God, divine omnipotence, or the absolute power and authority to uphold all of creation. The expression in verse 18—“to have first place in everything” (Gr. proteuō)—is a summation of what Paul is attempting to convey earlier by using “first-born” or prōtotokos. In other words, Paul is telling the Colossian church that Jesus is preeminent in creating “all things,” or that he is to be recognized has having “first place” in bringing creation into existence. Why? Because only God could do what Jesus is being credited to have done. And when Paul continues on to use prōtotokos in reference to Jesus as being the “first-born” from the dead (v .18), he again is emphasizing Jesus’ preeminence as being the one who will lead the parade of the redeemed, and are deceased, forth from the grave at the resurrection. 15 It is not that some dead person conceived Jesus in the spirit-world as a “first-born” son, which would be the logical assumption if one was to accept the Mormon explanation of the word prōtotokos consistently. Most importantly is the fact that if Jesus is the preeminent one to bring “all things” into existence in creation, then Jesus cannot be a familial relative of that which he created, and that would include Lucifer, who would later become Satan when Satan chose to rebel against God and become His adversary.
Monogenēs. The second word, monogenēs (μονογενής), has equally been abused and misinterpreted by the Mormons to support their naturalistic theology. To a Mormon “only-begotten,” when applied to Jesus, means that God came to earth and sired his physical body with His daughter Mary. The Mormon teaching manual Gospel Principles confirms this by asserting, “Jesus is the only person on earth to be born of a mortal mother and an immortal father. That is why he is called the Only Begotten Son.” 16 Former Mormon president Joseph Fielding Smith wrote that Jesus was not begotten of the Holy Ghost, and argued, “Christ was begotten of God. He was not born without the aid of Man, and that Man was God!” [emphasis his]. 17 The late Mormon apostle Bruce R. McConkie perhaps explains the Mormon understanding of “only-begotten” best when he wrote, “These name-titles 18all signify that our Lord is the only Son of the Father in the flesh. Each of the words is to be understood literally…Christ was begotten by an Immortal Father in the same way that mortal men or begotten by mortal fathers.” 19 Those things said, however, none of them accurately reflect the biblical meaning of monogenēs when viewing the special relationship Jesus had with God the Father.
Monogenēs is used 13 times throughout both the Old and New Testaments. 20 In Luke’s gospel the usage is simply to point out a single son or daughter that belonged to a parent. In the Hebrews 11:17 reference, Isaac obviously was not Abraham’s only son; hence a nuance is in view that involves the idea of uniqueness. Isaac was unique in the sense that he not only almost became a sacrifice of Abraham’s to God, but that God intervened on his behalf to become a sacrifice in his stead. It is the concept of uniqueness or “one-of-a-kindness” that comes into focus when applied to the person of Jesus, which is only found in John’s gospel and letter. John tells the reader of the very special relationship that Jesus had with the Father as “the only begotten of the Father” (Jn. 1:14), who was also the “only begotten God” (Jn. 1:18). Later John would inform us that Jesus is the “only begotten Son of God” (Jn. 3:16, 18), which is not a naturalistic appeal to Jesus’ subordinate position to the Father, but an emphatic declaration of his deity. 21 According to Büchsel, the only-begotten “as a designation of Jesus corresponds the fact that God is the πατήρ ̔ʹιδιοις of Jesus, Jn. 5:18; for ̔ʹιδιοις means to be in a special relation to Jesus which excludes the same relation to others.” 22 In other words, Jesus was essentially God, and monogenēs amplifies who he was by nature, making him totally different from anyone else who would become “children” or “sons” via adoption. 23 Hence, monogenēs when applied to the person of Jesus means “only” and/or “unique” due to his natural relationship to God the Father as God the Son, 24 which Mormonism completely rejects, given that it does not believe that God the Father and Jesus share the same essential attributes of deity, but are in fact two totally separate beings or gods among a pantheon of gods and goddesses.
We’re not all God’s Children
In an effort to show familial relationship between Jesus and Satan, Mormons often resort to the fallacious conclusion that since God created everyone then everyone must be related as either brothers or sisters, with Jesus being the eldest brother. Several terms have been distorted along the way to try and support such a conclusion. Aside from what has already been discussed—that Jesus is God, and not a creature—terms such as Father, children, and salvation take on meanings that are contrary to what the Bible reveals them to be, and in turn forces a naturalistic theology upon inquirers that is at odds with the Christian faith.
Father. To a Mormon there never was a son (or daughter) where there was not a father. Fatherhood is a divine imperative, in other words. Without fatherhood no one could exist in their current human form. Joseph Smith made this clear when he stated,
If Jesus Christ was the Son of God, and John discovered that God the Father of Jesus Christ had a Father, you may supposed that He had a Father also. Where was there ever a son without a father? And where was there ever a father without first being a son? Whenever did a tree or anything spring into existence without a progenitor? Paul says that which is earthly is in the likeness of that which is heavenly. Hence if Jesus had a Father, can we not believe that He had a Father also? I despise the idea of being scared to death at such a doctrine, for the Bible is full of it. 25
Unfortunately, such a naturalistic understanding of father defies the theological and biblical understanding of father when applied to God. For father does not mean that unless God copulates with one of his wives to produce a progeny related to him, God is no longer the Father. 26 Father figuratively means that God is the source of existence; 27 that when He spoke, all things came to be at His command, and that when He breathed the breath of life into a lump of dirt, it became a human being (see Genesis 1). The same metaphorical expression is used to describe the special relationship between God the Father and God the Son. God did not need to sire the Son as a human father would sire a human son in order for Him to be His Father, for the Son always existed with God (Jn. 1:1; 17:5). The term Father, when applied to God in that instance, is used purely for anthropomorphic reasons to distinguish the personalities in the Godhead in order that humans might finitely understand the relationship, and yet still be beyond full human comprehension. Hence, when Jesus speaks about “My Father,” he is not referring to someone that brought Jesus into being, but as someone with whom he always shared infinite attributes with, that others claiming God to be their Father can only share through adoption (cf. Rom. 8:15-16; Heb. 2:11-12).
Children. Another area where Mormons have confused the Fatherhood of God is in respect to children as created beings. Mormons assume that creation is equated with familial relation, and that is simply not true. In speaking of the “Brotherhood of the Human Race,” Mormon apostle John Taylor wrote,
ALL ARE GOD’S CHILDREN.-How does God feel towards the human family? He feels that they are his children. What, all? Yes, the white, the black, the red, the Jew, the gentile, the heathen, the Christian, and all classes and grades of men. He feels interested in all. He has done so from the beginning and will continue to do so to the end. He will do all that lies in his power for the benefit, blessing, and exaltation of the human family, both in time and eternity, consonant with those laws and those eternal principals that I have referred to, from which he himself cannot deviate. 28
The fact of the matter is that until one becomes a child of God’s through adoption, which is evidenced by the indwelling Spirit of God, then that person “does not belong to Him” (Rom. 8:9 cf. Jn. 1:12-13). Instead, as the apostle Paul points out, the individual is “dead in trespasses and sins,” being led about by the “prince of the power of the air,” and is a “son of disobedience” and “by nature children of [God’s] wrath” (Eph. 2:1-3). This is not something exclusive to Paul, as even Jesus asserted that the unbelieving Jews were of their “father the devil (Jn. 8:44) and John the Beloved would speak of those continuing on in the practice of sin as “children of the devil” (1 Jn. 3:10). In the former instance, “those who live in a false way, as Jesus’ opponents were doing, do but reflect their kinship with the devil,” according to Morris. 29 In the latter instance, “One either loves his brother and proves his is God’s child or does not love his brother and proves he belongs to the devil.” 30 Therefore, to confuse creation with relation is to ignore the plain statements from Scripture which not only discuss how one becomes a child of God’s, but also the reality that the devil has a family himself comprised of some of God’s creatures who are patterning their lives after their “father.”
Salvation. Perhaps one of the most confusing and misunderstood doctrines that Mormonism espouses is its doctrine of salvation. For in Mormonism salvation is equated with resurrection. Since everyone is going to be resurrected, then everyone is going to be saved. Conversely, only those who manage to merit eternal life through their obedience become God’s true children. In other words, Mormon salvation is divided into two categories, one Universal and the other Individual. The late Milton R. Hunter of the First Council of the Seventy makes this evident when he wrote,
There is a definite difference between “immortality” and “eternal life….”
The resurrection—or bringing about of the immortality of man—was accomplished through the atonement of Jesus Christ. All men who have ever lived, regardless of how wicked or how righteous their lives have been, or who ever will live in this mortal world, will be made recipients of this great gift of the Savior’s; that is, they will be resurrected and blessed with immortal existence.…
Eternal life, however, is a special blessing granted to a relatively few people because of their obedience to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The word of the Lord to His children is as follows: “If you keep my commandments and endure to the end you shall have eternal life, which is the greatest of all the gifts of God.” “He that hath eternal life is rich.” On another occasion the Lord explained both immortality and eternal life to the Prophet Joseph and definitely made it clear that they were entirely different things. 31
He goes on to conclude,
To summarize, immortality means to live forever and the immortality given to every man and woman by the Savior is resurrection [i.e., General Salvation]. Each of us will resurrect our body which will be united with the spirit, never to be separated again nor to disintegrate. Eternal life, on the other hand, is the condition of life that those who live righteous lives will enjoy throughout the ages in the Kingdom of God [i.e., Individual Salvation]. In fact, it means exaltation. He who receives the greatest portion of eternal life becomes a God. 32
Clearly what Hunter and Mormonism have to say about salvation is antithetical to what the Bible has to say about salvation. For the Bible nowhere differentiates salvation into two totally distinct categories when speaking of the redemption of the soul, nor does it confuse salvation with the resurrection of the body. In the former instance salvation means to experience redemption through regeneration of an otherwise “dead” spirit by the Spirit of God himself (2 Thess. 2:13). God selects, Jesus sacrifices, and the Holy Spirit sanctifies a person whereby he is born from above into a living, thriving relationship with the one, true God (cf. Eph. 2:1-ff.; Jn. 3:3-8). It is something that only occurs by God’s grace and in accord with His plan and purpose (Eph. 2:8-10; 2 Tim. 2:9; Tit. 3:5). A person is saved, therefore, from the penalty of sin, which until such time is separated from God, and is destined to hell upon dying. In the latter instance, resurrection cannot mean salvation simply because many are destined to go the way of destruction and the Lake of Fire. Jesus made this clear when he said, “Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it. For the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it” (Matt. 7:13-14). John then tells us of an impending judgment for those whose names are not written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, or those who have traversed the broad gate unto destruction. It is known as the second death, and the Great White Throne Judgment, which is associated with resurrection (Rev. 20:6 cf. Acts 24:15), but not of the blissful variety.
And I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. 12 And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. 13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. 14 And death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:11-15).
A. T. Robertson writes of verse 15, “In this short sentence the doom is told of all who are out of Christ, for they too follow the devil and the two beasts in the lake of fire (the counterpart of Gehenna of first, Matt. 5:22). There is no room here for soul sleeping, for an intermediate state, for a second chance, or for annihilation of the wicked.” 33 Clearly the effort by Mormons to argue that all humans are God’s children, much less that Jesus and Satan are brothers, based upon their doctrine of salvation is exposed as fallacious by simply referring to what the Bible does say about the topic. Jesus will stand in judgment of Satan as His Creator, not a fellow creature, and will one day cast him and his followers into the Lake of Fire that will burn forever.
Satan’s Creaturely Status
Mormonism, with its pantheistic view of creation, espouses a view of Lucifer or Satan that is consistent with the rest of that worldview, namely that Lucifer always existed in some form or another, like his brother Jesus did. Mormonism does not teach that Lucifer was a created being in the biblical sense, where he came into being out of nothing. Such a thought is abhorrent to the average Mormon. In fact, creation ex nihilo was one of Joseph Smith’s main points of contention with Christians, as he claimed that it was impossible for God to create something out of nothing. Therefore, Smith took it upon himself to definitively state that the Hebrew word for “create” (bara, בָרָא) only meant “to organize” or rearrange preexisting material. According to Smith,
Hence, we infer that God had materials or organize the world out of chaos—chaotic matter, which is element, and in which dwells all the glory. Element had an existence from the time he had. The pure principles of element are principles which can never be destroyed; they may be organized and re-organized, but not destroyed. They had no beginning, and can have no end. 34
It was from this imposition upon the Bible that Smith and others come to the conclusion that all things and beings, including Satan, always existed, simply because all things are comprised of the eternal elements. So, even though Satan may not have existed in his present form, he still existed somewhere in the universe, as a nebulous intelligence, until God sired and conceived a spirit body for him as one of God’s children. But, is such a warped imposition consistent with the Scriptures.
First of all, the Hebrew word bārā’ does mean “to organize,” “to shape,” to “form, fashion by cutting, shape out, pare a reed for writing, a stick for an arrow,” and of course, “to create.” 35 Yet, as McCominsky points out, “It differs from yāsar ‘to fashion’ in that the latter primarily emphasizes the shaping of an object while bārā’ emphasizes the initiation of the object.” 36 This is extremely important in relation to the current discussion of preexistent elements, for McCominsky goes on to argue, “The word is used in the Qal only of God’s activity and is thus a purely theological term. This distinctive use of the word is especially appropriate to the concept of creation by divine fiat.” 37 In other words, depending on the context in which bārā’ is used; the word itself helps to facilitate the understanding that when God created, He brought that which had no existence into existence. That is not to say that bārā’ is used exclusively in a way where preexistent material is not present. A classic example of this is found in the creation of man in Genesis 1:27. What it does mean is that before making an exclusive claim, like Joseph Smith did, one must check the context in relation to the rest of Scripture before automatically interpreting the word to mean God did not bring anything into existence, but merely rearranged some molecules. Clearly the Bible teaches that only God is eternal, and therefore when speaking about the inception of creation God did so ex nihilo, or “out of nothing,” which would include the person of Satan.
The second point, therefore, simply reiterates the fact of Lucifer and/or Satan’s creaturely status. Prior to his coming to be he did not exist. He had a beginning and is a created being. A typical passage in Scripture which stresses that fact is found in Ezekiel 28:13. Although is agreed that the King of Tyre is also in view, there are several statements made throughout the passage which cannot be directly attributed to any human being. They can only be attributed to a supernatural being, namely Lucifer. In verse 13 we read,
You were in Eden, the garden of God; Every precious stone was your covering: The ruby, the topaz, and the diamond; The beryl, the onyx, and the jasper; The lapis lazuli, the turquoise, and the emerald; And the gold, the workmanship of your settings and sockets, Was in you. On the day that you were created They were prepared [emphasis added].
Here the word for “created” is bārā’, it is in the Niphal stem, which is causative of the Qal stem, meaning that Lucifer was caused to be brought into existence from a previously non-existent state. And as Dickason notes, “Satan was created by God, not in his present corrupt form, but wonderfully constituted and holy…Colossians 1:16 includes Satan as one created by Christ, since he is one of the invisible powers that owe their existence to the Son. As a creature, he is infinitely less than God.” 38
Two things need special attention at this point. Not only did God create Lucifer, but since Jesus is God’s creative agent 39, then Jesus created Lucifer when he created all the other angels, with Lucifer as their head. In verse Ezekiel 28:14 we read that Lucifer was the “anointed cherub,” which was a position of no small rank among angelic beings. Even Michael the Archangel would not pronouncement judgment against Satan (Jude 9) because of his status. That being the case, Jesus could not be his “brother” in any capacity, whether spiritual, physical, or familial. Jesus’ nature is completely different than that of a created being. Jesus’ nature was after the order of the Creator (Heb. 1:3), not the creature. Therefore, when a Mormon speaks of Jesus and Satan being relatives, he is not speaking of the same two characters discussed within the pages of the Bible. He is speaking of two beings whose origins are found in vain imagination and perverse doctrine.
Before Time Was
Mormon cosmology revolves around the idea that all things in the universe have an eternal existence to them. All of the building “elements” are self-existent, and hence God has not created anything in the biblical sense, but merely rearranged all the universal molecules into that which we currently see. Naturally, each “element” is on a par with him, since his being is no different that anyone or anything else. According to John Widtsoe, “God and man are of the same race, differing only in their degrees of advancement. True, to our finite minds, God is infinitely beyond our stage of progress. Nevertheless, man is of the order of Gods, else he cannot know the Lord.” 40 The idea of self-existent, eternal, material elements are nothing new, though. The Greek philosopher, Plato, taught the same thing. In his Dialogue entitled Timaeus one reads of a discussion between Socrates, Critias, Hermocrates, and Timaeus. What starts out as a discussion about the formation of the state soon turns into a discussion about the formation of the earth and the universe. Timaeus, who is considered to be “the most of an astronomer among us,” sets forth to answer the question “was the world…always in existence without a beginning? or created, and had it a beginning?” His answer? It was created! But, then he then goes on to ask, “Which of the patterns had the artificer in view when he made the world—the pattern of the unchangeable, or of that which is created?” His answer, in true Platonic form, is that the world is patterned after an original that has always existed. What we see before us in “creation” is an analogy of the real. The “creator” took the four, necessary existing elements (earth, wind, fire, and air) and brought order out of chaos, and hence the universe came to be what it currently is. All of this fits nicely into the Mormon cosmology and the idea of preexistent life prior to the beginning of creation found in Genesis and elsewhere.
Mormonism teaches that prior to “God” creating the earth that he, his harem of wives, and hoard of spirit-children lived in a celestial setting. Two of his most important spirit-children were Jesus and Satan. Not satisfied with simply ordaining his children as gods—they were “gods in embryo” 41 instead—by divine decree, the Mormon “God” decided that his children needed to be put to the “test,” because he knew that the only way that his children could become like him, then they needed to sin, be redeemed, and then progress upwards to “true” godhood through their meritorious behavior. It was the very course that he has traversed as a human being himself. Joseph Smith wrote of Heavenly Father’s trek to deified fame by stating, “It is the first principle of the Gospel to know for a certainty the Character of God, and to know that we may converse with him as one man converses with another, and that he was once a man like us; yea, that God himself, the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth, the same as Jesus Christ himself did; and I will show it from the Bible.” 42 Such a notion is perhaps one of the most-often repeated quotes among Mormon writers. 43 Such a notion is also completely contrary to what the Bible teaches. Nevertheless, it is the preexistent setting which Mormons allude to, to try and justify the idea that everyone has existed prior to coming to earth, and it is also the rationale used to try and justify the brotherly relationship between Jesus and Satan. But, does the Bible mention anything about a preexistent family of pre-deified human beings, with Jesus being the head of the brotherhood?
Nowhere in Scripture is there any mention of eternal matter or a family that God had sired with his wives, and then sent to earth to take any tests. In fact, in the former instance, the idea of eternal matter or “element,” as was already seen is more in line with the Hellenistic Greek culture and thought than the Christian worldview. Mormon philosophy Sterling McMurrin acknowledged this years ago when he wrote, “Now Mormonism has much in common with the naturalistic position of the Greeks. It holds, in the first place, that although the structure and configurations of the world are the product of God’s creative act, that anything at all should exist is not due to God but is simply a given fact.” 44 He would go on to say, “The established Mormon doctrine is squarely opposed to the traditional concept of creation and is in principle reminiscent of the position common to classical Greek naturalism.” 45 Moreover as Geisler points out, the idea that there is preexistent, eternal matter is advocated not only by Platonism, but with Atheism as well. “Matter is simply there and always has been in one form or another. In fact, for the atheist, the universe is ultimately all that exists—even mind came from matter.” 46 Add to that that pantheists 47 and monists also subscribe to a eternal existence of matter, and Mormonism is not in good company for a religion claiming to be Christian, which asserts that matter is not eternal, but was created out of nothing by the only, eternal God.
In the latter instance, the Mormons like to refer to several Bible passages to support their case for a preexistent life, 48 but a careful perusal through each of their references either shows poor exegesis, the fallacy of appealing to Mormon authority as the basis for the conclusion, or the acknowledgement that unless one goes outside the Bible for “additional help,” then the belief cannot be upheld. For instance, in reference to Proverbs 8:22-31, one Mormon writer falsely concludes, based on “appearance” and likeliness, that because Solomon wrote the Proverb, then he must have been speaking metaphorically about his preexistence. 49 Such a sloppy conclusion is incredulous when looking at the context of the passage. Clearly Solomon is talking about wisdom and the role it played in the founding of the earth. Prior to that wisdom is seen as a female, standing at the opening of the gates of the city imploring the naïve to be prudent in their dealings. Nowhere is Solomon speaking metaphorically about himself, but is personifying wisdom in a way that the reader would ultimately understand the person of the Creator God.
A similar approach is taken by more eisogetes and allegorists when looking at Jeremiah 1:5. It says, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.” Here is the rationale is that since God knew Jeremiah prior to his actually walk upon the face of the earth, then Jeremiah must have already existed somewhere, preferably in God’s presence. But, just because God knows a person in no way automatically means that that person presently exists in some physical form. It merely means that Jeremiah is acknowledging the omniscience of God, as well as His omnipotence and sovereignty. God knows all things, persons, event, situations, et cetera, simply because He is omniscient. Yet, such omniscience does not necessitate the actual existence of all things, otherwise, once again, we get back to equating the Creator with the creation, or vice versa, and the distorted view that “God and man are of the same race.” 50 So, the whole idea that there is biblical support for the preexistence of man is as non-existent as man was before God brought him into being. To argue otherwise is to engage in the same kind of eisogetical and allegorical method of biblical interpretation seen above, leaving the eisogete and allegorist as the final source of authority on the matter, and not God himself.
The Early Church Fathers on Preexistent Souls
The Mormon Church within the past 25-30 years has been earnestly seeking help from the Early Church Fathers to bolster its doctrinal claims, particularly in relation to the preexistence of souls, which it views an integral in proving that prior to the creation of the universe and earth, everyone, including Satan and Jesus, lived a premortal existence. Most, if not all, of the appeal has been made by rank Mormon apologists who have no authority or say-so in doctrinal matters in the Mormon Church, but have taken it upon themselves to make a case that otherwise the Mormon Church has remained silent. Typical citations made, without adequate historical setting to help the reader understand the climate in which the comments were made, range from Clement of Alexandria to Origen. This is not to say that there were not some Fathers who did believe in preexistent souls, because there were. What it means is that without a proper context in which to understand why some of the Fathers believed as they did, then a falsehood can be easily extrapolated from their comments to build a whole doctrine, that not only misrepresents what they taught, but also the Christian faith as well.
For instance, one of the Early Church Fathers that is regularly referred to by the Mormon apologists to make their case for the preexistence of spirits and souls is Origen. Origen was a systematic theologian who lived in Alexandria, Egypt in the early third century A.D., which was a cultural hotbed of diverse religious ideology and Hellenistic influence. One of the most influential philosophies in his day was Platonism. González points out, Alexandria “toward the end of the second century, was like a pot boiling with diverse teachings, all of them eclectic in nature: the Gnosticism held by Basilides, the Neoplatonism of Ammonius Saccas and Plontinus, the Hellenistic Judaism that followed in the tradition of Philo, and—what is most interesting to us—the esoteric and Platonist Christianity of Clement and Origen.” 51 The reason why this background information becomes important is simply because the very doctrine of preexistence that the typical Mormon is arguing for, and then citing certain ones of the Early Church to garner support, is rooted in paganistic influences! In other words, Origen’s doctrine of preexistent souls is patterned after Plato’s philosophy of ideals and forms. And, as we have already seen previously, Plato was no Christian, even though he knew that there was something more to reality than what we currently see in the particulars found in the material world.
Some Mormons might interject at this point an “Aha! We told you so. The early church was infected with Greek philosophy which led to the ‘Great Apostasy,’ and hence by your admission, we know the Mormon Church is true.” 52 To which the Christian would reply, not true. Only certain ones living in certain locales, such as Alexandria, managed to incorporate certain philosophies, like the preexistence of souls, into their theology. It was not wholesale endorsement of the belief. For as J. N. D. Kelly points out,
Most of the Greek fathers, however, rejected this view, which was to be formally condemned in the sixth century. Augustine, too, reacted against the pessimistic valuation of the material order and the suggestion that the body serves as a prison for the soul which it implies. The prevalent Greek theory was creationism, i.e. that each individual soul was created independently by God at the moment of its infusion into the body. Western writers like Hilary, Ambrose and Jerome shared it, teaching that the soul was spiritual and immortal, being extended throughout the whole body, although existing particularly in a special part of it. Pelagius and his disciples, it need hardly be said, accepted creationism, which harmonized well with their general position. 53
Several things, therefore, need to be kept in mind when discerning the Mormon attempt to refer to the Early Church Fathers for support for the idea that there was a preexistence in which everyone shared. First of all, there is rampant selective quoting going on that is then used in as broad of a manner as possible to make it look as if the Early Church universally accepted the doctrine. Such quoting, though, is totally dishonest. Only a few of the fathers subscribed to such a notion, and then only with the bounds of the “rule of faith.” 54
Second, regardless of what any one person might have said or written that in no way makes his comments inspired, nor binding upon anyone, let alone the whole Christian Church. Pelikan in quoting Gregory of Nyssa offers a more objective alternative, and one that most Mormons have an aversion towards. In reference to the doctrine of souls he wrote, “For we make Sacred Scripture the rule and the norm of every doctrine. Upon that we are obliged to fix our eyes, and we approve only whatever can be brought into harmony with the intent of these writings.” 55 And while Pelikan further points out Gregory’s difficulty of following his rule, having had Middle Platonistic overtones in his writings, the rule itself is a sound one, since a grammatical-historical appeal to the contents of Scripture help to keep the human imagination in check and from further propagation of error. It is the only objective standard upon which humans may be reliably sure that he or she is understanding and teaching the truth.
Third, given the absence of background information on this subject by most Mormon apologists, they give the impression that the doctrine itself is wholesome and untainted, when in fact the Mormon doctrine itself is a regurgitation of Platonic philosophy. In other words, despite all the railing accusations that some Mormons have engaged in to vilify Christianity and its involvement with Greek philosophy, just for the sake of promoting the Mormon Church in light of the so-called “Great Apostasy,” Mormonism itself is steeped in the very thing that formulates its condemnation of Christians. The big difference between the two, though, is that while there was a borrowing of Hellenistic concepts to help the early church defeat the heretical attacks against it, it did not infuse the content of those concepts. The same cannot be said of Mormonism. It continues to teach and believe the same basic content that the early pagans believed when the concepts were being bandied about. That is perhaps of the one major reason why Christians and Mormons continue to be miles apart on fundamental issues such as whether there are preexistent souls or whether Jesus and Satan are brothers. Nevertheless, with that in mind, we now turn our focus upon what at least one Early Church Father had to say about the Jesus-Satan relationship, and how that Church Father’s comments have been distorted to try and prove the Mormons argument.
The Early Church Fathers on Satan
Contemporary Mormonism has not only availed itself the opportunity of seeking support from the Early Church Fathers relating to the existence of souls and spirits, but it has done the same with the person of Satan, particularly in an effort to justify its belief that he and Jesus are brothers. Unfortunately, though, their selection has been much less sparse, given that all but one obscure reference in the ECFs is contrary to Mormon thought on the subject. In fact, the perspective of the ECFs is that Satan was a created angel and totally distinct from his Creator. Tertullian gives us a classic example of this perspective when he commented on Ezekiel 28:12-ff. by stating,
This description, it is manifest, properly belongs to the transgression of the angel, and not to the prince’s: for none among human beings was either born in the paradise of God, not even Adam himself, who was rather translated thither; nor placed with a cherub upon God’s holy mountain, that is to say, in the heights of heaven, from which the Lord testifies that Satan fell; nor detained amongst the stones of fire, and the flashing rays of burning constellations, whence Satan was cast down like lightning. No, it is none else than the very author of sin who was denoted in the person of a sinful man: he was once irreproachable, at the time of his creation, formed for good by God, as by the good Creator or irreproachable creatures, and adorned with every angelic glory, and associated with God, good with the Good; but afterwards of his own accord removed to evil. 56
The one reference that has been repeated ad naseum, even though as will be seen, it does not support Mormon doctrine either, is written by Lactantius and is found in his Divine Institutes.
Lactantius lived in the late third and early fourth centuries and wrote his theology in the Western tradition. González noted that Lactantius was “perhaps the best Latin stylist of the ancient church.” 57 Pelikan quoting Geffcken asserted that, “the Latin writers, ‘Tertullian, Lactantius, and Augustine outweigh all the Greek apologists’” in their brilliance and apologies. 58 Nevertheless, as Giovanni Papini—another writer that many contemporary Mormons often cite, but misquote—informs us, Lactantius, despite all his apologetic acumen, “has no great authority as theologian.” 59 The reason why? Probably, in part, because of the statement we will see shortly, which is obscure or at odds with Scripture. It reaffirms the principle that regardless of whom the person is, it is the Bible that one turns to for objective confirmation of one’s thoughts and beliefs, not mere opining.
In Lactantius’ Divine Institutes one essentially finds a sound theology worthy of all Christian’s attention. Clearly he argued against Greek mythology, and believed in one, incorporeal God who created all things out of nothing. In fact, both prior to and after his statement in question about the devil he would assert, “Now it is easy to reply to these persons who do not understand the power of God: for they believe that He can produce nothing, except out of materials already existing and prepared; in which error philosophers also were involved.” 60 Nevertheless, it is his statement about the devil that the Mormons have cherry-picked out of the rest of his commentary that has led them to further propagate the false notion that the Church Fathers believed that Jesus and Satan were brothers. Lactantius’ unexpurgated comment was thus:
Since God was possessed of the greatest foresight for planning, and all the greatest skills for carrying out in action, before He commenced this business of the world,—inasmuch as there was in Him, and always is, the fountain of full and most complete goodness,—in order that the goodness might spring as a stream from Him, and might flow forth afar, He produced a Spirit like Himself, who might be endowed with the perfections of God the Father. But how He willed that, I will endeavor to show in the fourth book. Then He made another being, in whom the disposition of the divine origin did not remain. Therefore he was infected with his own envy as with poison, and passed from good to evil; and at his own will, which had been given to him by God unfettered, he acquired for himself a contrary name. From which it appears that the source of all evils in envy. For he envied his predecessor, who through his stedfastness [sic] is acceptable and dear to God the Father. This being, who from good became evil by his own act, is called by the Greeks diabolus: we call him accuser, because he reports to God the faults to which he himself entices us. God, therefore, when He began the fabric of the world, set over the whole work that first and greatest Son, and used Him at the same time as a counselor and artificer, in planning, arranging, and accomplishing, since He is complete both in knowledge, and judgment, and power; concerning whom I now speak more sparingly, because in another place both His excellence, and His name, and His nature must be related to us. Let no one inquire of what materials God made these works so great and wonderful: for He made all things out of nothing. 61
And that is all Lactantius had to say on the subject. His words are not repeated anywhere else, except recently by those in the Mormon Church who are attempting to find support for their otherwise baseless theology. Lactantius would later expound on what he meant by God’s begetting of the Son, but in those comments he makes it absolutely clear that there was no one else that was worthy of the calling of the Son. He would write,
God, therefore, the contriver and founder of all things, as we have said in the second book, before He commenced this excellent work of the world, begat a pure and incorruptible Spirit, whom He called His Son. And although He had afterwards created by Himself innumerable other beings, whom we call angels, this first-begotten, however, was the only one whom He considered worthy of being called by the divine name, as being powerful in His Father’s excellence and majesty. 62
Therefore, to be automatically concluding that Lactantius was teaching the brotherhood of Jesus and Satan, based on one short, obscure reference, without consulting the rest of what he had to say about Jesus, is irresponsible, misleading, and deceptive.
Nevertheless, to add insult in injury, Mormons such as Stephen Gibson often cite the Catholic writer Giovanni Papini, and his work on The Devil, where Papini references Lactantius’ comments, as if Papini himself believed Lactantius. 63 What the Stephen Gibson-type always failed to do, though, is provide the context of what Papini is saying, along with his subsequent comments, all of which clearly show that Papini was not in agreement with Lactantius. Papini wrote,
Lactantius’ extraordinary opinion has not, to my knowledge, been accepted and restated by any Christian theologian. Perhaps, in his thinking, it sprang from the exaggeration of doctrine, then and later quite widely diffused, according to which Lucifer was the most luminous and perfect of the angels, therefore the nearest to God and, perhaps, the first to have been created. But the highest of the angels is still very far, both in nature and essence, from the one and triune God.
It is curious that a sincere and learned Christian could teach, in the fourth century, that Satan was not only the first of the Archangels but actually the brother of God. 64
Therefore, did the Early Church Fathers universally teach that Satan was anything other than a created angel who fell from his first estate due to his own choice rooted in pride? Absolutely not. There are some like Origen, who thought that Satan might be redeemed, but even those comments are well outside the boundary of early church doctrine and beliefs. The Early Church Fathers had nothing kind to say about Satan. He was the archenemy of God’s, and was not to be equated with Him, nor His Son, who was also God. Did Lactantius teach that Jesus and Satan were brothers? Not at all. His allusion to Jesus and Satan might lead one to that conclusion, if the rest of his comments about Jesus and Satan, or the devil, are ignored. Other than that, all we can really conclude about Lactantius is that he made “curious” comment that we do not know the source of, and has no precedence elsewhere among any other writer, as Papini points out. And speaking of Papini, did he believe that Jesus and Satan were brothers? Again, absolutely not. Mormon writers and apologists, who keep alluding to him without qualifying his statements either about Satan, or what he said about Lactantius, are deceiving the public. Misquoting Christian sources is typical behavior of those involved in the cults, as they try to find substantive footing upon which to stand. And clearly in the case the Early Church Fathers and the brotherhood of Jesus and Satan, that is exactly what has taken place among the proponents and apologists of Mormonism.
Of Angels and Men
Another line of reasoning that Mormons use to justify its brotherly equation between Jesus and Satan is to argue that humans and angels are brotherly relatives as well. In fact, Mormonism teaches that there is no special difference between humans and angels. Angels are simply the perfected spirits of men. “These are the spirits of men who have worked out their salvation, but are awaiting the day of the resurrection.” 65 Since angels are ministering “spirits,” and have the “appearance” of men—when they appear—then according to Mormon logic, angels must be of the same species as humans. Moreover, since Jesus was once called the “Angel of the Lord,” and was a human and Satan is an angel, then not only are they “spirit brothers,” the two of them are brothers to everyone else as well. According to Joseph F. Merrill, Satan “is a spirit brother of ours and of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is our Elder Brother in the spirit world.” 66 Here we see another example of the “paneverythingism” 67 that the Christian philosopher Francis Schaeffer once wrote about. Nevertheless, apart from a “paneverythingistic” worldview that Mormonism espouses, just where has Mormonism gone wrong to arrive at the faulty conclusion that angels and humans are of the same species, and then hence to further conclude that Jesus and Satan are brothers?
The first thing that needs to be pointed out is that the Mormons have consistently failed to observe the details in the very references that they cite to prove their point. For example, Psalms 104:4 and Hebrews 1:13-14 are often cited as proof texts to make their case. Yet, both references clearly state that angels are ministering “spirits.” The Reformer Martin Luther wrote, “An angel is a spiritual creature created by God without a body for the service of Christendom and of the church.” 68 Jesus Christ would assert as much when he said, “a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have” (Lk. 24:39). The emphasis here ought to be clear. Just because an angel is a minister does not necessitate that the angel is a human being, much less that he requires a physical body in order to minister. In fact, the opposite is the case. Humans are not spirits, but are complex beings with a body, soul, and spirit (1 Thess. 5:23). Angels, on the other hand, are nothing more than pure spirit beings, with no body or soul. This leads to a second observation often overlooked by those attempting to equate humans with angels, and that deals with the appearance of corporeality.
The times that angels actually appear in Scripture are scant given their numbers. 69 Moreover, there are some angels in scripture which do not have the appearance of humans, but are winged creatures. 70 Others have a human form, but they also have four faces, feet like calves feet, and have their being within “wheels” in which they move (Eze. 1:5-ff.). For those angels that have appeared to humans in Scripture, the key word to remember is appearance and that almost exclusively those appearances are in the form of men, not women. 71 Those appearances may seem so realistic that those to whom they appeared thought them to be human beings (Gen. 18:1; 19:1; Heb. 13:2). Nevertheless, they are still appearances—or what is known as “anthropomorphisms” 72
—of beings that have been specially created by God, and are unrelated to human beings, except as fellow creatures. Humans have been created a little lower than the angels (Ps. 8:4-6; Heb. 2:5-7), and angels were not created in the image of God, 73 which is not to imply that God is a corporeal being. It merely means that angels and humans are of a different order of creatures. Moreover, when angels do appear it is accompanied by some miraculous act of God. They do not just appear capriciously, nor are they able. 74 Chafer makes the observation of why the latter is true by contending that, “One reason angels are rendered invisible to human sight may be that, if they were seen, they would be worshiped.” 75 He goes on to say, “Man, who is so prone to idolatry as to worship the works of his own hands, would hardly be able to resist the worship of angels were they before his eyes.” 76
Another argument often posed by Mormons to sway individuals into believing that angels are merely exalted humans stems from a misunderstanding of Matthew 22:30 which says, “For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.” To a Mormon this verse says nothing about an angel being sexless, but only that he is single as far as a married being. Therefore, the angel is capable of procreating, just like he did when he was a human being, so long as he is married. But, as has already been seen, angels are non-corporeal beings, and there is no record than any angel was ever married. They are spirit beings after a completely different order than are humans, and are in fact of a special variety of created being which inquires after human salvation (1 Pet. 1:12), and are ministering spirits of the heirs of salvation. Hence, angels are non-redeemable beings after they fall into sin. In Matthew 22:30 Jesus is merely answering the question of the Sadducees, who did not believe in the resurrection, of whose wife a women would be after having been the wife of seven brothers. His answer was that none of them would be, given that in the resurrection there is no such thing as human marriage. The redeemed, in the final resurrected state, would all be “like angels,” which are not married. Does this further mean that angels or humans are asexual as far as genitalia are concerned? To angels, the question is moot, given that they only appear to be human, when in fact they are spirits. As far as humans are concerned, the Bible is silent on the subject. Yet, by deduction one may conclude that all body parts will a part of each human being in the resurrection, even though there is no need for those parts to function in exactly the same manner that they did in fallen state. In other words, humans will no longer marry and procreate as they did while on earth, but will in fact be “married” to Jesus as his bride, the church. Therefore, humans will be “like” the angels in the sense of worshiping, honoring, and glorifying God, none of which has ever involved the procreation or furthering of their species.
In conclusion, despite the effort on the part of Mormonism to try and justify its conclusion that Jesus and Satan are brothers based on a tenuous rationalization, that humans and angels are relatives, the effort itself falls flat upon further inspection. Angels are spirits and not reconstituted human beings that have gone on to perfection, and are awaiting the resurrection. Angels are of a completely different species than humans, even though some of them, at times, might have appeared to other humans as humans. Appearances, though, can be mistaken, as has happened a few times in those instances. Lastly, but certainly not least, in the resurrection there is no marriage between human beings, and no one will sit around in heaven waiting for one’s earthly spouse to arrive, whereby they will continue their marriage relationship. Everyone who is graced to be allowed into the presence of God are already a part of Jesus’ bride, the church, meaning that like the angels, they are not married to anyone else. And since humans are not angels, nor can they be, then whatever extrapolation that might occur which links Jesus to Satan as spirit beings, whether angelic, human, or otherwise, is pure fantasy of the worst kind.
The Meaning of Brotherhood
The word “brother,” “brotherly,” or “brotherhood,” appears over 500 times throughout the Bible, with nearly one-third of the occurrences seen in the Book of Genesis (158 times). When the word “brother” is used it conveys either one of two basic meanings. One, the physical relationship between two siblings born from the same womb, 77 or two, the spiritual relationship that God has fostered through the salvific experience of spiritual regeneration. Examples of the former are first found in the brotherly relationship between Cain and Abel (Gen. 4:2). Yet, later we see that Shem, Ham, and Japeth were brothers (Gen. 10:1), Joseph and his brothers would eventually comprise the 12 tribes of Israel, and in the New Testament that Jesus had physical brothers and sisters (Matt. 13:55-56; Mk. 6:3)—although they were half-brothers and sisters due to his divine nature and incarnation.
Examples of the spiritual usage are seen in the disciples of Jesus being called “brothers” (Matt. 23:8), in the Apostle Paul’s conversion (Acts 9:17; 22:13 cf. 2 Pet. 3:15), as well as Sothenes (1 Cor. 1:1), Apollos (1 Cor. 16:12), Timothy (2 Cor. 1:1; Col. 1:1; 1 Thess. 3:2), et al. 78 The use of the term “brother” among Christians started out in the Jewish community as von Soden points out. He says,
The usage plainly derives from Jewish religious custom. The old Israelite lament הוֹי אָחִי[“‘Alas, my brother!’”] (Jer. 22:18) seems to contain a regular spontaneous address to fellow-Israelites. In Judaism, too, ἀδελφός means a co-religionist, who historically is identical with a compatriot. Yet the latter as such is called רֵעַ [“neighbor,” or “friend, “companion”] == πλησίος, and Rabbinic writings this is sometimes explicitly distinguished from אָח [“brother”] == ἀδελφός. There can be no doubt, however, that ἀδελφός is one of the religious titles of the people of Israel taken over by the Christian community. 79
When one turns to the supposed brotherhood between Jesus and Satan that Mormonism proposes, we see that the biblical definition does not fit their relationship. Jesus could not be the physical brother of Satan simply because Satan has never been, nor will ever be, a human being; much less will he be born of Mary. Moreover, Jesus could never be the spiritual brother of Satan’s, simply because Jesus’ spiritual constitution is, first of all, completely different than that of a creature. Jesus is God, meaning that his essential ontological make-up is consistent with that which makes God what He is: an eternally self-sufficient being that is infinite by nature, and perfect in all his attributes. Satan, on the other hand, is a created being, that is contingent upon the Creator for his existence, and is therefore finite in his capacity to move and to will in a finite universe.
More importantly, though, is the fact that spiritual “brothers” are regenerate beings, who otherwise are “dead in trespasses and sins” (Eph. 2:1-3). Jesus, who is the Savior of humanity, never needed spiritual regeneration, because he never sinned in the first place (2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 4:15; 7:26). Conversely, Satan has been a murderer from the beginning (Jn. 8:44), and cannot help but sin, so great was his fall when he decided to rebel against God. Additionally, there is no repentance on the part of Satan, nor will there ever be, given that he is an angel, and Jesus never paid the sin-debt of angels. Hence, Satan and his minions will never be spiritually regenerated. As Dickason summarizes the final and permanent destiny of Satan and his angels,
Satan and his rebellious angels will come to their final judgment when they are cast into the lake of fire (Rev 20:10). This is the place for which he was destined after his fall, and the demons following him must follow him there (Mt 25:41). From this point on, there is never again the possibility of release for either Satan or demons. Just as with men, the smoke of their torment ascends throughout eternal ages (Mt 25:46; Rev 12:10; 14:9-11). 80
Of course some Mormons might argue that all of the aforementioned does not take into account the “pre-existence” that we all had prior to coming to earth. But, such quibbling is irrelevant given what the Bible does say about brotherhood, as well as the natures of both Jesus and Satan. Even if there was some preexistent life that all people lived prior to coming to earth—which the Bible gives no indication of any such thing happening, but for the sake of argument we will consider it—that would not change the meaning of the word “brother,” either physically or spiritually. Ultimately, a preexistent state would not change the fact that Jesus is God, that there is only one God, and that God has no brothers, much less would his brother be Satan if he had any.
Therefore, given what we have just seen concerning the word “brother” and “brotherhood” from Scripture, plus what we know about Jesus as the Creator and Satan as a creature, there is no conceivable way that they could be either physical or spiritual brothers. And one must either twist or distort the Scriptures, or go outside them to garner extra-biblical authority which contradicts the Scriptures, in order to maintain the Mormon position. Unfortunately, the latter is exactly what the Mormon Church has done, since it cannot find support for its otherwise eccentric and/or blasphemous belief that Jesus and Satan are brothers.
The Age-Old Lie
In the Book of Genesis one is immediately confronted with the modus operandi of Satan that he has used to try and destroy humankind, and ultimately to undermine the plan and purpose of God. In chapter 3 we are told,
Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” 2 And the woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; 3 but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, lest you die.’” 4 And the serpent said to the woman, “You surely shall not die! 5 “For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
The first mode of attack is to attempt to cause humans to doubt what God has said. That is followed up by persuading humans to think independently and autonomously. Finally, with enough manipulation and false confidence built up, Satan ultimately tricks the most gullible humans into believing that they can become gods and goddesses themselves.
When we turn to the whole idea of Jesus and Satan being brothers, we see the same pattern exhibited all over again. First, there is the denial of what God has said on the subject. Jesus is not really God, and Satan is not really a creature. Jesus is an eternal “intelligence” that became a god, and Satan has eternally existed as well in a similar state, and could have become a god, if he would have only minded his own business. There is absolutely no real distinction between the two characters according to Mormonism, except one just happened to espouse a doctrine that is a hallmark of Mormonism that kept him in the good graces of the biggest god in this universe. That doctrine, Free Agency 81, led to the implementation of the second prong in the devil’s plan of attack, independence from God, or self-autonomy. Humans have always been free to choose whether or not they want to obey God, and then go on to godhood themselves, and it is because of Jesus that such a condition was made available. Forget the fall, forget the sinfulness of sin, and forget that humans are spiritually “dead” to God prior to salvation. They all still “free agents,” and are on their own to make their own autonomous decisions of whether they want to reject God all over again. Such an attitude has led to the final stage, the arrogance in thinking that one is a god, or can become one. Satan has never been satisfied in knowing that he will never become a god himself. Yet, that has not stopped him from misleading others into thinking that they can become gods and goddesses. It is the ultimate insult to God, which Satan constantly uses as he lashes out against God. It is also the ultimate insult that Mormonism propagates in its attack upon Christians, Christianity, and ultimately God.
One might be asking, but how does all of this tie into the Jesus-Satan brotherhood question? The correlation is found, once again, in how Mormonism denigrates the person of Jesus, and exalts the person of Satan. By denying the explicit statements in scripture, or by causing others to doubt what the Bible says, as we have seen earlier, Satan, through the rest of the teachings found in Mormonism, elevates his otherwise fallen and demonic status to the place of equality with God. Except more sympathetic language is used like “Jesus and Satan are spirit brothers,” or Satan was a “son of the morning,” or “everyone is a spirit child of God’s.” Therefore, while different persons are involved, the same strategy is employed, whereby God is unequivocally doubted, Satan is undeniably believed, and humans unconscionably fall for the same age-old lie.
The answer to the Mormon proposition is to simply say, “Yes, God has said,” and then stick by the response. Those in Mormonism and the cults in general, love to tout how much they believe the Bible, only to turn right around and deny or distort everything written within its pages. That is when the Christian should know the question “Hath God said” is being asked all over again, yet in slightly different words and perhaps with more cunning and subtlety. It is when the Christian should know that a plea for self-autonomy and independence is about to be made. It is also when the Christian should know that the Mormon is about to make an offer than is just too good to be true: that if the Christian will simply lay aside his Bible, he can become a god one day, and just how glorious that would be! Yet, that is when the Christian should know enough to say, “Yes, God hath said,” and that “The sum of Thy word is truth, and every one of Thy righteous ordinances is everlasting.” That, “in Him we live and move and exist.” And lastly, “‘Before Me there was no God formed, And there will be none after Me.’”
In summary, the idea that Jesus and Satan are brothers has its roots in the age-old lie first taught in the Garden by none other than the Devil himself. It is Satan’s delusional way of equating himself with the Creator, and it is the primary method he uses to get others to fall for the rest of his wicked plan which is aimed at attacking God. The only way to refute such a notion is head-off his attacks by affirming what God has said, and then systematically rebut arguments by constantly referring to God’s inspired Word, the Bible. Failure to deal with such an attack in the prescribed manner is certain to lead to either a compromised stance on the person of God or Jesus at best, or to subject oneself to satanic influences whereby one could easily be tricked into believing other equally diabolical doctrines, such as thinking that one can become a god himself.
So we finally come to our conclusion. After all that has been said, is Jesus Satan’s brother, as the Mormons believe? We can answer the question in the affirmative if (1) the Bible is insufficient as a document which provides an inerrant and authoritative response to such a question; (2) Jesus’ is not God, nor has he always been God; (3) Jesus “first-born” status as the originator of all that is really means that he is the by-product of a sexual union between either God and one of His wives, or God and His daughter Mary; (4) We are all God’s children, which includes the Devil and all his demons; (5) Satan is really an eternal being, and we completely ignore his creaturely status, which Jesus brought into existence when he created him; (6) God and the “elements” He used to shape and form all things, including Satan, are on the same level of existence, meaning that nothing, nor no one, had a beginning, but have merely changed form, through God’s help, into that which we currently see all around us; (7) The Early Christians believed and taught the existence of pre-mortal souls and spirits that lived elsewhere before making the trek to earth as part of their journey back home, and unto godhood; (8) The Early Church Fathers really believed that God had a brother, and his name was Satan; (9) Angels are really reconstituted or perfected human beings; (10) Brotherhood means that we can overlook the fact that Jesus and Satan’s essential ontological make-ups are totally different from each other; (11) The age-old lie that God never meant what He said, and that men could become gods one day, which in turn lowered God to the level of a creature, is true. Then Jesus and Satan are brothers.
Conversely, if (1) the Bible is sufficient for Christians in all matters of faith and practice; (2) Jesus has always been God, very God; (3) Jesus’ “first-born” status merely credits him as the founder and Creator of all that is; (4) we are not all God’s children, but become children through God’s gracious adoption; (5) Satan is a temporal being who had a beginning in time and space like all creatures in God’s creation have; (6) God created all things “out of nothing,” and did not merely rearrange pre-existing material, as the Platonists and Pantheists seem to believe; (7) The Early Church Fathers did not widely believe in preexistent souls and spirits; (8) The Early Church Father did not believe that God had a brother by the name of Satan; (9) Angels are beings of completely different order than humans, with angels created a little higher than humans, with human beings being created in God’s image; (10) Jesus and Satan’s beings are wholly-other by comparison, with the latter relying on the former for His existence, and the former relying upon no one but himself for his; and (11) The age-old lie is still an age-old lie. Then Jesus and Satan are not “brothers,” and never will be “brothers.” Furthermore, those propagating such nonsense in the light of scripture, reason, and history do so in spite of the truth, and not because of it. Therefore, let the buyer beware the next time a member of the Mormon Church comes knocking on your door and wanting to tell you about the Mormon Jesus. For he has relatives in low places, and depending on your gullibility, you just may end up joining him there.
- A classic example of this is found in the FAIR article written by Michael Hickenbotham “Do Latter-day Saints Believe Jesus and Satan are Brothers?” His comments parrot Mormon lawyer, Richard Hopkins, who asserts that such attempts to “shock” the public concerning Mormon beliefs is “yellow journalism.” Maybe if such individuals were not so “yellow” when it comes to divulging such “shocking” beliefs in the first place, then Christians who know Mormon doctrine would not have to bring such beliefs to light where those interested can see them. ↩
- Matthew 7:15; 16:6, 11-12; Acts 20:28; Romans 16:17; Galatians 1:6-8; Philippians 3:2; 1 Timothy 1:3-4; Jude 3-4. ↩
- “One of the great heresies of modern Christendom is the unfounded assumption that the Bible contains all of the inspired teachings now extant among men. Forseeing that Satan would darken the minds of men in this way, and knowing that other scripture would come forth in the last days, Nephi prophesied that unbelieving Christians would reject the new revelation with the cry: “A Bible! A Bible! We have got a Bible, and there cannot be any more Bible.” Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966), 83. ↩
- Isaiah 45:23 cf. Romans 14:11; Matthew 1:23; John 1:1-3, 18; 12:44-45; 20:28; Acts 20:28; Romans 9:5; Colossians 1:16; 2:9; Philippians 2:6, 9-10; 2 Thessalonians 1:12; 1 Timothy 3:15-16; Titus 2:13; Hebrews 1:8; 2 Peter 1:1; 1 John 5:20. ↩
- Matthew 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:14; Galatians 4:6 cf. 1 John 4:13-14. ↩
- Bingham succinctly argues that, “The critical concern [at Nicaea] was the Son’s essence and his relationship to the Father.” D. Jeffrey Bingham, Pocket History of the Church (Downer’s Grove: IVP, 2002), 47. This is in stark contrast to what many believe the subject matter was about at Nicaea, which usually involves the development of the biblical canon, which had noting to do with Nicaea. ↩
- Bernard of Clairvaux, Selected Works (New York: Paulist Press, 1987), 158. ↩
- Although not all contemporary scientists would concur that the universe had a beginning, those holding out only appear to be doing so based on atheistic beliefs, which when thought through to their logical conclusions render them as irrational and meaningless. With the introduction of COBE (Cosmic Background Explorer) in 1992 there was a scientific clarification in cosmic thought about universe origins. Physicists were well aware of an expanding universe, but up until 1992 did not have a way to explain how galaxies were formed from a “Big Bang.” The COBE satellite helped to provide that answer, and in the words of physicist Hugh Ross, “Astronomers who do not draw theistic or deistic conclusions are becoming rare, and even the few dissenters hint that the tide is against them.” Hugh Ross, The Creator and the Cosmos (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2001), 32. ↩
- John 1:14; Romans 1:3; 8:3; Philippians 2:7; 1 Timothy 3:16; Hebrews 2:14; 1 John 4:2; 2 John 1:7. ↩
- Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, ed. by Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols. (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, ), 1:18. ↩
- The controversial Book of Abraham, which has been shown to be a fraudulent “translation” effort of Joseph Smith’s, tells us about Jesus, as in “intelligence,” in 3:18 where it states, “Howbeit that he made the greater star; as, also, if there be two spirits, and one shall be more intelligent than the other, yet these two spirits, notwithstanding one is more intelligent than the other, have no beginning; they existed before, they shall have no end, they shall exist after, for they are gnolaum, or eternal.” ↩
- The Septuagint is the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament. Gen. 4:4; 10:15; 22:21; 25:13, 25; 27:19, 32; 35:23; 36:15; 38:6f; 41:51; 43:33; 46:8; 48:18; 49:3; Exod. 4:22f; 6:14; 11:5; 12:12, 29; 13:2, 13, 15; 22:28; 34:19f; Lev. 27:26; Num. 1:20; 3:2, 12f, 40ff, 45f, 50; 8:16ff; 18:15, 17; 26:5; 33:4; Deut. 12:6, 17; 14:23; 15:19; 21:15ff; 33:17; Josh. 6:26; 17:1; Judg. 8:20; 1 Sam. 8:2; 14:49; 2 Sam. 3:2; 13:21; 19:44; 1 Kgs 16:34; 2 Kgs 3:27; 1 Chr. 1:29; 2:3, 13, 25, 27, 42, 50; 3:1, 15; 4:4; 5:1, 3, 12; 6:13; 8:1, 30, 38f; 9:5, 31, 36, 44; 26:2, 4, 6, 10; 2 Chr. 21:3; Neh. 10:37; Psa. 77:51; 88:28; 104:36; 134:8; 135:10; Mic. 6:7; Zech. 12:10; Jer. 38:9; Ezek. 44:30. ↩
- Luke 2:7; Rom. 8:29; Col. 1:15, 18; Heb. 1:6; 11:28; 12:23; Rev. 1:5. ↩
- Exod. 23:16, 19; 34:26; Lev. 2:14; 23:17, 19f; Num. 18:13; 2 Kgs 4:42; Neh. 10:36; Ezek. 44:30; 48:14. ↩
- Ceslas Spicq wrote, “He is also the firstborn with respect to the dead (prōtotokos ek tōn nekrōn, Col. 2:18) and thus has primacy in order of the resurrection, not simply because he was the first to come forth from the grace, but because he came forth as the all-powerful sovereign, the prince of the new humanity (Rev. 1:5, ho archōn). Theological Lexicon of the New Testament, 3 vols. (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1994), 3:212. ↩
- Gospel Principles (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1995), 64. ↩
- Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 1:18. ↩
- “Only Begotten,” “Only Begotten Son, and “Only Begotten of the Father.” ↩
- Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966), 546-47. ↩
- Judg. 11:34; Psa. 21:21; 24:16; 34:17; Luke 7:12; 8:42; 9:38; John 1:14, 18; 3:16, 18; Heb. 11:17; 1 John 4:9. ↩
- Cullmann, in attempting to answer where the expression “Son of God” came from, and whether Jesus thought of himself as such a person, informs us that “whether Jesus called himself Son of God or not—according to the witness of the whole Gospel tradition, the ‘Son of God’ title as applied to Jesus expresses the historical and qualitative uniqueness of his relation to the Father.” Oscar Cullmann, The Christology of the New Testament (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1963), 275. ↩
- Gerhard Kittel, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, 10 vols. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, ), s. v. “monogenes” by F. Büchsel. ↩
- Jn. 1:12; Rom. 8:15-16, 23; Gal. 4:5. John Calvin would make this point when he wrote, “He [God] calls Christ this [“only begotten”] because he is by nature the only Son of God. It is as if he wants to place him above men and angels and claim for him alone that which belongs to no creature.” John Calvin, John, ed. Alister M=cGrath and J. I. Packer (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 1994), 27. Thomas Oden adds, “His [Jesus’] eternal sonship is by nature, while the believer’s daughterhood or sonship in him is by grace.” Systematic Theology, 3 vols. (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1987), 2:58. ↩
- C. K. Barrett wrote, “Moreover, though μονογενής means in itself ‘only of its kind,’ when used in relation to father it can hardly mean anything other than only (-begotten) son (cf. Dodd, Interpretation, 305). For παρά, cf. v. 6; the Son (it is not the δόξα which is said to be παρὰ πατρός) not merely is his Father’s Son, but proceeds from him in personal though never independent existence.” C. K. Barrett, The Gospel According to St. John (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1978), 166. ↩
- Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, compiled by Joseph Fielding Smith (Salt Lake City: Deseret, 1976), 373. ↩
- In discussing the lack of the use “father” in the OT when applied to God, Robert Stein notes that, “This metaphor for God may have been avoided in the Old Testament due to is frequent use in the ancient Near East where it was used in various fertility religions and carried heavy sexual overtones. The avoidance of this description for God can still be found in the intertestamental literature.” Walter A. Elwell, Baker Theological Dictionary of the Bible (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1996), 247. ↩
- 1 Cor. 8:6; Eph. 3:14-15; Heb. 12:9; James 1:17-18. ↩
- John Taylor, The Gospel Kingdom, edited by G. Homer Durham (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1987), 63 on Infobases Gospel Library CD-ROM [hereafter IGLCD]. ↩
- Leon Morris, The Gospel According to John (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1995), 412. ↩
- Frank E. Gaebelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, 12 vols. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1981), s. v. “1 John” by Glenn W. Barker. ↩
- Milton R. Hunter, The Gospel Through the Ages (Salt Lake City: Stevens and Wallis, 1945), 9-10. ↩
- Ibid., 11. ↩
- A. T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament, 6 vols. (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1960), 6:465. ↩
- Smith, TPJS, 351-52. ↩
- Francis Brown, S. R. Driver, and Charles A. Briggs, The New Brown–Driver–Briggs–Gesenius Hebrew and English Lexicon (Peabody, MA: 1979), 135. ↩
- R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer, Jr., and Bruce K. Waltke, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, 2 vols. (Chicago: Moody, 1980), 1:127. ↩
- Ibid. ↩
- C. Fred Dickason, Angels: Evil & Elect (Chicago: Moody, 1975), 118. ↩
- Jn. 1:3; Rom. 11:36; 1 Cor. 8:6; Heb. 1:10; 2:10. ↩
- John A. Widtsoe, A Rational Theology (n.p.: 1915), 61-62. ↩
- Mormons generally shy away from acknowledging their inherent divinity, nevertheless it is Mormon doctrine. It speaks of man’s human potential in terms that many New Age gurus would envy. In the words of the late Mormon president Ezra Taft Benson, “As God’s offspring, we have His attributes in us. We are gods in embryo, and thus have an unlimited potential for progress and attainment.” Ezra Taft Benson, The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1988), 21. ↩
- Joseph Smith, History of the Church, 8 vols. (Salt Lake City: Deseret, 1980), 6:305; TPJS, 345-46. ↩
- Paul R. Cheesman, Monte S. Nyman, and Charles D. Tate, Jr., eds., Book of Mormon Symposium Series (Provo: Religious Studies Center, BYU, 1988-95), 34, on IGLCD; Bruce R. McConkie, Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965-73), 1:191, and The Messiah Series (Salt Lake City: Deseret, 1978-92), 12, 41, 80, and A New Witness for the Articles of Faith (Salt Lake City: Deseret, 1985), 64, on IGLCD; Daniel H. Ludlow, ed., Encyclopedia of Mormonism (New York: Macmillan, 1992), 547, and Latter-day Prophets Speak: Selections from the Sermons and Writings of Church Presidents (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1948), on IGLCD; General Conferences Reports: James A. Cullimore (Oct. 1970), William J. Critchlow, Jr. (Apr. 1961), Milton R. Hunter (Oct. 1948) on IGLCD; Joseph Smith, Journal of Discourses (London: Latter-day Saint’s Book Depot, Apr. 6, 1844) on IGLCD; Robert L. Millet and Joseph Fielding McConkie, The Life Beyond (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1986), on IGLCD; James R. Clark, ed., Messages of the First Presidency, 6 vols. (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965-75), 1:213, on IGLCD; ; B. H. Roberts, The Mormon Doctrine of Deity (Salt Lake City: Deseret, 1903), 227, and New Witnesses for God, 3 vols. (Salt Lake City: Deseret, 1911), 1:461, and The Rise and Fall of Nauvoo (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965), 198, on IGLCD; Milton R. Hunter, Pearl of Great Price Commentary (Milton R. Hunter, 1951), 52, on IGLCD; Errol R. Fish, Promptings of the Spirit (Mesa, AZ: Cogent, 1990), 21, on IGLCD; Milton V. Backman, Jr., Donald Q. Cannon, Arnold K. Garr, Clark V. Johnson, H. Dean Garrett, Larry C. Porter, Susan Easton Black, eds., Regional Studies in LDS History Series (Provo: Department of Church History and Doctrine, 1988-95), 217, on IGLCD. ↩
- Sterling M. McMurrin, The Theological Foundations of the Mormon Religion (Salt Lake City: Signature, 2000), 2. ↩
- Ibid., 24. ↩
- Norman Geisler, Systematic Theology, 4 vols. (Minneapolis: BethanyHouse, 2003), 2:425. ↩
- Francis Schaeffer aptly argued that what is often referred to as pantheism, whether among the Hindus, Buddhists, or modern religions subscribing to the belief is not really pantheism at all, due to the impersonal “god” that accompanies those systems. Instead, those religious beliefs advocate an acceptance of “paneverythingism,” which attempts to ascribe personality to a “god” that is otherwise unknown or non-existent. Francis Schaeffer, He is There and He is Not Silent (Wheaton: Tyndale, 1973), 9. The same concept of “paneverythingism” could readily be applied to the “God” of Mormonism, given its holy non-other status with the rest of the universe, and the futile Mormon effort to try and ascribe human attributes to “God” rather than understanding God’s person as revealed in the Bible. ↩
- Proverbs 8:22-31; Isaiah 14:10-16; Jeremiah 1:5; Acts 17:28-29; Ephesians 1:4; 2 Peter 2:4; Jude 1:6; Revelation 12:4, 7-9. ↩
- See Michael Hickenbotham article “Do Latter-day Saints Believe Jesus and Satan Are Brothers?” ↩
- See note 40 above. ↩
- Justo L. González, A History of Christian Thought, 3 vols. (Nashville: Abingdon, 1970), 1:187. ↩
- Mormon lawyer Richard Hopkins displays a classic example of this kind of leap in logic in his book How Greek Philosophy Influenced the Christian Concept of God (Bountiful: Horizen. 1998), 21-22. ↩
- J. N. D. Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines (New York: HarperRow, 1978), 345. ↩
- González defined the “rule of faith” as “a summary of the fundamental contents of the Christian message, probably underlining those aspects of that message which the heretics denied,” History of Christian Thought, 1:155. ↩
- Jaroslav Pelikan, The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine, 5 vols. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, ), 1:50. ↩
- Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, Ante-Nicene Fathers, 10 vols., Tertullian Against Marcion, 2.10, (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1994), 3:306. ↩
- González, History of Christian Thought, 1:229. ↩
- Pelikan, The Christian Tradition, 1:28. ↩
- Giovanni Papini, The Devil (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1954), 81. ↩
- Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, Ante-Nicene Fathers, 10 vols., Lactantius: The Divine Institutes, 2.9, (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1994), 7:53. ↩
- Ibid. ↩
- Ibid., 4.6, 7:105. ↩
- Stephen W. Gibson, One-Minute Answers to Anti-Mormon Questions (Springville, UT: Horizon, 1995), 135. ↩
- Papini, The Devil, 82. ↩
- McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 36. ↩
- Joseph F. Merrill, General Conference Reports (April 1949) on IGLCD. ↩
- See note 47. ↩
- Martin Luther, Table Talk (Gainesville, FL: Bridge-Logos, 2004), 363. ↩
- Dan. 7:10; Heb. 12:22; Jude 1:14; Rev. 5:11. ↩
- Ex. 25:20; 37:9; 1 Kgs. 6:24, 27; 8:6-7; Isa. 6:2. ↩
- The one exception is Zechariah 5:9, which speaks of two winged women who might be angelic in nature. But such an interpretation is not absolutely clear given the lack of data needed to make a conclusive statement on the verse. ↩
An anthropomorphism is the “Assignment of human attributes to nonhuman things. Biblical anthropomorphisms are used primarily in reference to God, who is neither visible (John 1:18) nor human (Num. 23:19; 1 Sam. 15:29). They are also used to assign human characteristics to angels (Gen. 16:7; 18:1-19:1), Satan (1 Chron. 21:1; Luke 13:16), and demons (Luke 8:32). Evil is also personified, depicted as slaying (Ps. 34:21) and pursuing (Prov. 13:21). In frequently, human qualities are attributed to animals (Num. 22:28-30) or vegetation (Judg. 9:7-15).” Walter A. Elwell, Baker Theological Dictionary of the Bible (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1996), 26.
According to Lloyd Bailey an anthropomorphism is “the description of God in terms that are literally appropriate for human beings. References to God’s hands or ears, or to his evening walk in the garden (Gen. 3:8), or to his being moved by passion, irritation, or regret are typical examples.” He adds, “When God appears to Abraham, he seem to be one of three ‘men’ (Gen. 18-19). He speaks with people in articulate human speech. He smells sacrifice. He regrets what he had done.” HarperCollins Bible Dictionary, Paul J. Achtemeier, ed. (San Francisco: Harper, 1996), 36. ↩
- According to Geisler, “Apparently, each angel is a species of its own. Thus, they cannot reproduce within their kind, as human beings can do; they are simple created beings and have no way to divide and/or multiply (Matt. 22:30). Each is one a kind, even though there are groups or classes of them, such as cherubim and seraphim.” Systematic Theology, 2:487. ↩
- “While angels are normally invisible (Col. 1:16), they do have the ability to appear on occasion. This freedom to appear is, of course, subject to the will of God but evidently operative at the will of the angel (cf. Lk. 1:11-13; 26-29). Dickason, Angels: Evil & Elect, 34-35). ↩
- Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, 8 vols. in 4 (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1993), 2:8. ↩
- Ibid. ↩
- “Adelphos is compounded from delphys, the womb, and the copulative a, and hence means born from the same womb. It was originally used for brother in the physical sense, while adelphē was a lit. sister.” Colin Brown, New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1986), 1:254-55. ↩
- Titus (2 Cor. 2:13), Tychicus (Eph. 6:21; Col. 4:7), Epaphroditus (Phil. 2:25), Onesimus (Col. 4:9), Silvanus (1 Pet. 5:12). ↩
- TDNT, 1:145. ↩
- Dickason, Angels: Evil & Elect, 214-15. ↩
- “Agency is the philosophy of opposites, and because these opposites exist, men can reap either salvation or damnation by the use they make of their agency.” If it were not for the law of agency, there could be no judgment according to the works and consequently no rewards or punishments” (Mormon Doctrine, 27). When one reads these words, one almost thinks of G. W. F. Hegel and his thesis + antithesis = synthesis approach to truth, whereby there is no longer a universal absolute the bind together the many particular in life. There are only shades of gray, and truth is a matter of individual opinion, rather than truth is a matter of what is. In other words, the whole “Free Agency” doctrine found in Mormonism. ↩