Here's my response to this week's challenge:
This week's challenge: Mormons worship Jesus just like Christians do, right? The key to this challenge is starting with questions. That's the key to most challenges. Start with questions. When your Mormon friend or family member says that they worship Jesus, the same Jesus you worship, you want to ask them to tell you more about their Jesus. “What do you mean when you say ‘Jesus?’” Then, let them respond.
Recently, I had an opportunity to talk to a Mormon lady about this, and she said, “I don't understand why you Christians say that Mormons have a different Jesus because we don't.” So I said, “Well, what do you mean when you say ‘Jesus’?” She said, “Well, we believe that Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary, Jesus lived a perfect sinless life, Jesus died on the cross for our sins, and Jesus rose again. We believe in Jesus.”
At that point, did I have any problem with what she said? No. At that point, we're describing the same Jesus. So, I had to ask the question again, “What do you mean by Jesus? Tell me more. You've only told me about His earthly existence. Tell me about His existence prior to His earthly life.” Then she said, “Well, we believe he was the first born son of the Heavenly Father. He's the Son of God. “
“Okay, pause. Tell me more about that. What does it mean to be the firstborn Son of God?”
“Well, he's the literal first-born son. He is God's first son. Literally.”
“Oh, so he's a created being?”
Then, as we got into her explanation of Jesus prior to His earthly life, we started getting into some of the differences. At that point, after asking the questions, listening carefully to what her view of Jesus was, then I was able to say, “Gosh, what you've described there is different than the Jesus that I believe in and that I think Scripture teaches.” Then she said, “Well, how so?”
Then I was able to explain to her the deity of Christ, that Jesus is eternally Jesus, and He's eternally part of the Triune God. As I was able to describe my views about Jesus, then she came to the conclusion herself that we worship different Jesuses. She said to me, “I understand now why Christians say we worship different Jesuses.”
Instead of me just coming against her saying, “No, here's what you believe about Jesus,” I asked her questions and asked her to clarify. It took some time to get underneath the terminology problem that we have – we're using the same terminology – but once I got her to give me a full description of the Jesus that she believes in, then I was able to lay out the Christian view of Jesus. Then we were able to find that, no, we in fact don't worship the same Jesus.
There might be some similarities that we have about Jesus' earthly existence, but when it comes to the nature of Christ, who He was, that Father, Son, Holy Spirit together are the one God who have existed eternally as God, that's where we have a clear difference from the Mormon Jesus. The Mormon Jesus is a created being from the Heavenly Father. In fact, the Heavenly Father is also a created being from his Heavenly Father. So, not only do you have a different Jesus, you have a different Heavenly Father and a different Holy Spirit.
We can make those clarifications. At this point, we're not even asking which one's true. We're just clarifying that Mormons and Christians worship completely different Jesuses.