Those who are familiar with the Bible will recognize the first part of the title of this post as a quote from the Lord Jesus Christ himself, as recorded in Matthew 5:44. Evangelical creedalists of most denominations would have people believe, however, that Mormons do not read and are not familiar with the Bible and thus are not acquainted with this teaching.
Mormons are praying for Evangelical creedalists.
In case any Mormons have forgotten what Evangelical creedalists think about Mormons, a caustic view has been voiced about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in relation to Focus on the Family’s decision to remove an interview with a popular Mormon, Glenn Beck, from its website. The statements serve as a reminder to Latter-day Saints that the Evangelical creedalist right is spitefully using Mormons for their money and organization to further their political agendas.
According to the Christian Post article, the pastor of some Evangelical creedalist congregation in North Carolina stated that (before caving to such criticism and removing the interview with Glenn Beck) Focus on the Family was using “Mr. Beck’s story as a way to show that hope can be found in God, which is true enough; the problem is that Mr. Beck’s god is not the Triune God of the Bible nor is his Jesus the Jesus of the Bible” (emphasis added). The bolded portion here is truly remarkable considering that the pastor’s own “Triune God” is itself not found in the Bible absent certain prerequisite syllogisms that do not constitute the only way — and thus not the necessary way — of reading the Bible.
This raises the question of whether the Jesus of this Evangelical creedalist pastor is the Jesus of the Bible or the Jesus of the Trinitarian Creeds. Given the fourth century context of the Nicene Creed as the textual source of the Trinity, it would seem accurate to say that this pastor’s Jesus is not the Jesus of the Bible but rather the Jesus of the Creeds. Some Evangelical creedalists of which I am aware have argued that, even absent the creeds, they themselves would have, on their own and without the overlay of Greek philosophy that informed the creation of the creeds and their fourth century context, concluded that God must be a One Substance Trinity (rather than a Godhead consisting of three separate entities who are one in purpose) based on a straightforward reading of the Bible. That they would come to such a conclusion based on a reading of the face of the Bible strains reason, but of course so does belief in the appearance of God the Father and Jesus Christ as two separate beings to Joseph Smith.
Ironically on this point, Latter-day Saints, by contrast, believe more literally in the Jesus of the New Testament who is the Son of God and therefore distinct from his and our Heavenly Father. The first century A.D. context displays no lack of testimonies of disciples of Jesus Christ seeing Christ on the right hand of the Father, for one thing. For example, that Stephen is recorded as having seen Jesus on the right hand of God gives comfort to Latter-day Saints that this belief is not unbiblical, as Evangelical creedalists claim it is:
55 But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God,
56 And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. (Acts 7:55)
Of course, upon such exclamation, the martyr Stephen was stoned by the stalwart residents of Jerusalem for daring to utter a challenge to what they believed was the One God of the Old Testament. One wonders whether the North Carolina pastor would have thrown down his coat with those Jews and thrown stones at that witness of Jesus Christ for contravening the notion of the One God of the Old Testament by testifying to the existence of the Son of God and of seeing him standing separately on the right hand of God the Father.
Although numerous other passages of scripture from the New Testament testify that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and show him as a being separate from God the Father, no passage requires a reading outlining a One Substance Trinity. To the contrary, in his great Intercessory Prayer, Jesus Christ prays to the Father that his disciples may be one with him and with the Father, just as he and the Father are one:
20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;
21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:
23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. (John 17:20-23)
Again, although a One Substance Trinity is one possible reading of Christ’s “oneness” with the Father in some places in the New Testament, particularly when situated in relation to syllogisms attempting coherence with Old Testament severity, such is a creedalist reading informed by centuries of political intrigue and Greek philosophy and is not the only possible reading. The fact that Jesus prays that his disciples will be one with each other and with him and the Father and that he (Jesus) may be in his disciples as the Father is in him suggests that some other meaning of “being one” is intended. Actually, the reading of Latter-day Saints seems more straightforward than the complex One Substance Trinity artifice when viewed from the perspective of this Intercessory Prayer and the stoning of Stephen.
Is Glenn Beck’s Jesus the Jesus of the New Testament or the Jesus of the Creeds? I do not know Glenn Beck but assume that he has a pretty standard Mormon belief in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and Savior of the world. Assuming that Glenn Beck maintains such a belief, the Evangelical creedalist pastor quoted in the linked article is therefore absolutely correct that Glenn Beck’s Jesus is not the Jesus of the Trinitarian Creeds (“Mr. Beck’s god is not the Triune God”), but then again, neither is the God of the Bible.