Signs of another rapidly approaching Christmas are all around us. Therefore it is only appropriate to address the question of who is it whose birth we celebrate each Christmas. As is the case with so many other teachings, Mormonism answers this uniquely.
After quoting the angel’s announcement of Christ’s birth to Mary as it is recorded in Luke 1:35, Gospel Principles goes on to say, “Thus, God the Father became the literal Father of Jesus Christ. Jesus is the only person on earth to be born of a mortal mother and an immortal Father. That is why He is the called the Only Begotten Son.” (p.53) Although Christians have frequently portrayed this LDS teaching crassly and wrongly, it still must be acknowledged that Mormonism and Christianity view Jesus’ conception very differently. I know of no Christian church that would agree with the above quotation.
Another answer that Mormonism gives to this question is that Jesus was “the great Jehovah of the Old Testament”. I have always found this puzzling for a couple of reasons. In the King James Version, “Jehovah” is consistently translated with LORD (all capitals). And quite often it is found in the combination LORD God. In the original Hebrew this is literally Jehovah Elohim. This is interesting because Mormonism identifies Elohim as the Father. Therefore, in Mormonism, LORD God translates into Son, Father – quite an awkward construction. But what is even more striking is that often the LORD God speaks in the singular, not in the plural. For example, “And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone. I will make him an help meet for him.” (Genesis 2:18) Why would the Bible so frequently use LORD God as a description of one person when it is, according to Mormonism, two persons?
But it gets even more complicated. For example, the LDS Bible rightfully refers Isaiah 50 to the Messiah. One of the things it states in its chapter heading is “Messiah shall have the tongue of the learned.” That refers to verse 6 which states: “The LORD God has given me the tongue of the learned.” Again, if LORD (Jehovah) is Christ then this has Christ giving Christ the tongue of the learned.
Or how does Mormonism handle Isaiah 45:21? “who hath told it from that time? have not I the LORD? And there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me.” How does the Father fit into that verse? God here is again the Hebrew Elohim. Therefore Jesus here is saying that he is Elohim. And how could Jesus be God before coming to earth and receiving a body, since, according to Mormonism, having a physical body is essential for godhood?
Who is Jesus? As can be seen, Mormonism answers that question quite differently from Christianity. Although it is not usually meant in this way, it is true that Mormonism has a different Jesus than Christianity.