[Was Christ a Created Being?]
ON December 1st 2018 I did a post titled “He Received Not of the Fulness at First: When did Jesus Christ BECOME the Son of God?”
In the post I made the outlandish suggestion that Jesus Christ is the creator of all things AND that he, himself was a created being.
I am sure that raised some eyebrows.
Recently I got comments from two people who have indigestion with the notion that Christ is a created being.
JN and Mike, thank you for providing thoughtful responses regarding this particular post and topic.
“Hey Watcher, thanks for this blog post and all others. They always make me think and turn to the scriptures, so thank you!!!
I just reread this post because this topic has been on my mind. This is a tough subject with no easy answers. I have some ramblings I want to pass by you. If you have time, I’m super curious of your response… after much of my own searching I think I have to agree with biblical Christians that the Son was not and is not a created being; but, is coeternal with the Father.
Maybe I’m only seeing one side of the coin right now, but I see a many scriptures showing Christ as being from eternity to all eternity and that he is the Eternal God.
“JN, this is a puzzle to me as well… The Only Begotten was with the Father from the beginning and was the means by which all things were created. If Christ is a created being of God, He couldn’t have been created along with us on the 6th day. He was already there, doing all the work of creation on the previous days.
I think we can all agree that the mystery of Godliness/God and the full understanding of the relationship between the Father and the Son will remain a mystery to each of us until God personally reveals Himself to us. Until Christ reveals himself to us, we cannot speak authoritatively on the topic, other than to quote scripture.
Even then it can be a messy business since we can interpret scripture differently as this exchange will demonstrate. According to the JST, Christ must reveal the Father to us and until then, we will obviously not fully comprehend who and what God is.
In the meantime, we have been commanded to search the scriptures and to meet often to discuss them (even meeting online to discuss them??)
I think that it behooves each of us to try and understand what information God has given us in the written word of God about his nature and character including the relationship between the Father and the Son, who are ONE God, although they clearly can and do manifest themselves independently as they see fit.
Each of us is trying to do this to the best of our ability and to the degree of personal revelation that we each enjoy during this time of hidden darkness. We all labor to understand the things of God during a dark time when God has turned his face from us. The Lord had told Moses that in the latter days he would scatter his people and hide his face from us-
Then My anger will be kindled against them in that day, and I will forsake them and hide My face from them
This is why the Lord commanded the saints in Section 88 to “call upon me while I am near”
This presents a challenge in discerning God’s written word even though God has not altogether withdrawn his spirit from us.
Gratefully, God has assured us that at the appointed time, he will once again turn is face toward us again and the light of the everlasting gospel will shine forth.
Regarding this controversial topic, allow me to reiterate some past observations in light of some new scriptural evidences not previously visited.
I have mentioned in a few of my posts that during my years of study and research, I have become converted to Biblical Christianity as the foundation of my belief in Christ and his atonement. It is my contention that most Mormons are not Biblical Christians and that the restored church has become corrupted and cult-like, teaching for doctrines, the commandments of men.
I consider the Old and New Testaments to be the foundation of Christianity as well as the LDS restoration movement that the Lord conducted through Joseph Smith Jr..
I have found the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants to be congruent with the Bible as it is translated correctly, however, if I were to find discrepancies, I would have to go with the Bible (in its original inspired form) as the ultimate authority. I say this because it is the primary witness of Christ and his original apostles while the other books of scripture of the restoration are secondary witnesses of the gospel and the foundational truths contained in the Bible.
I take the same stance with the teachings of Joseph smith.
Any time he has taught something out of harmony with the true translation of Christ’s teachings in the Bible and other supporting scriptures, I roll with the Bible and supporting scriptures.
They are my rock when it comes to the written word of God.
Those that do not believe in the infallibility of modern prophets must ultimately come to this conclusion to avoid heresy. The words of living and recently living prophets take no precedence over the inspired words of ancient prophets. Truth does not change.
In my opinion, Joseph Smith was restoring Biblical Christianity up until about the end of 1834 when the fulness of the gospel was rejected by the gentiles of the LDS restoration.
I consider Joseph Smith to be the quintessential Biblical Christian and I believe God has provided critical new scripture through him that adds upon and magnifies the written word of God in the Bible and never contradicts it. Because of this, protestant biblical Christians are at a real disadvantage in understanding the nature and character of God and other doctrines.
Having said that, I think it is fair to say that some of the teachings attributed to Joseph Smith are not historically accurate. Further complicating things and necessitating the need for personal revelation, I believe Joseph Smith’s erred in doctrine during the dark years of Far West and Nauvoo.
I believe his calling as an intercessor eventually had caused his mind to be darkened because of his intercessory offering and the subsequent rejection of the gospel by latter day Israel. This caused him to eventually teach false doctrine about the nature of God and to contradict his earlier teachings as well as the scriptures he was instrumental in bringing forth. God the Father was never a mortal man.
All of this makes our study of gospel topics like this one challenging and requires us to look for multiple credible scriptural sources that testify of each other when determining which principles are valid. By the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.
I accept Lectures on Faith as scripture with regard to the doctrines taught in it.
I believe the JST provides some amazing clarifications and corrections to the bible, although it is not perfect and is not the Book of the Lamb of God that is yet to come forth.
JN and Mike-
While I appreciate your observations and concerns, and I think you have brought up some good points to ponder, I remain convinced that even though Christ has an eternal spirit that originally existed within the Father, and is now co-eternal with the Father as a member of the Godhead, enjoying the fulness of the Father, Christ did become the Son of God and transition from a spirit personage to a personage of tabernacle at some point.
In that sense, he was a created or, organized being which is one of the major differentiating characteristics between him as a distinct personage and the Father as a distinct personage.
Nevertheless, since the Father dwells in the physical personage of the Son and the Son dwells in the spiritual personage of the Father, they are ONE and Christ enjoys the fulness of the Father, which means that all of the attributes of the Father can now be attributed to him in their state of oneness. This is why it can be said, referring to Christ’s inherited fulness, that Christ has been God from eternity to eternity, from everlasting to everlasting, simply because the Father has been.
The Fulness of the Father
I accept this mind-blowing truth about the Godhead written by Sidney Rigdon and Joseph Smith in Lectures on Faith:
“There are two personages who constitute the great, matchless, governing, and supreme, power over all things, by whom all things were created and made, that are created and made, whether visible or invisible, whether in heaven, on earth, or in the earth, under the earth, or throughout the immensity of space.
They are the Father and the Son — the Father being a personage of spirit, glory, and power, possessing all perfection and fulness, the Son, who was in the bosom of the Father, a personage of tabernacle, made or fashioned like unto man, or being in the form and likeness of man, or rather man was formed after his likeness and in his image; he is also the express image and likeness of the personage of the Father, possessing all the fulness of the Father, or the same fulness with the Father.
Being begotten of him, and ordained from before the foundation of the world to be a propitiation for the sins of all those who should believe on his name, and is called the Son because of the flesh, and descended in suffering below that which man can suffer; or, in other words, suffered greater sufferings, and was exposed to more powerful contradictions than any man can be.
But, notwithstanding all this, he kept the law of God, and remained without sin, showing thereby that it is in the power of man to keep the law and remain also without sin; and also, that by him a righteous judgment might come upon all flesh, and that all who walk not in the law of God may justly be condemned by the law, and have no excuse for their sins.
And he being the Only Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth, and having overcome, received a fullness of the glory of the Father, possessing the same mind with the Father, which mind is the Holy Spirit, that bears record of the Father and the Son, and these three are one; or, in other words, these three constitute the great, matchless, governing and supreme, power over all things; by whom all things were created and made that were created and made, and these three constitute the Godhead, and are one; the Father and the Son possessing the same mind, the same wisdom, glory, power, and fullness—filling all in all; the Son being filled with the fullness of the mind, glory, and power; or, in other words, the spirit, glory, and power, of the Father, possessing all knowledge and glory, and the same kingdom, sitting at the right hand of power, in the express image and likeness of the Father, mediator for man, being filled with the fullness of the mind of the Father; or, in other words, the Spirit of the Father, which Spirit is shed forth upon all who believe on his name and keep his commandments;”
Truly, the Father is a personage of spirit, glory and power. The Son is a personage of tabernacle fashioned after the image of the Father.
Truly, the Father and Son share the same mind which is the Holy Spirit and Christ has been imbued with the same fulness as the Father and has inherited all that the father has.
With regard to the potential of mortal man who repents and accepts the gospel and keeps the commandments of God, here is the ending snippet of the above Lecture which informs us how man can become a son of God.
“..and all those who keep his commandments shall grow up from grace to grace, and become heirs of the heavenly kingdom, and joint heirs with Jesus Christ; possessing the same mind, being transformed into the same image or likeness, even the express image of him who fills all in all; being filled with the fullness of his glory, and become one in him, even as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are one.”
In my opinion, the supposition that the Father and the Son have both been co-existent for all eternity and that the Son has never changed and has always been a personage of tabernacle, is simply not congruent with the countless declarations that Christ is the Son of God.
What is the point of declaring Christ to be the Son of God if in fact he is not the Son of God?
An integral issue here has to do with the fact that the Father is “sovereign” and “self existent” and “without cause” and has never derived his power and glory from another God. This is what is meant when He declares that “there is no God beside me“.
(g)ods beneath him yes. (g)ods within him yes. But independent self existent sovereign (G)ods outside of his domain that are just like him and exist independent of him, NO!
.My contention is that all power originates with the Father and all other beings INCLUDING Christ, derive their power and glory from the Father. He is the originating and continuous power source from which all beings derive their power.
Christ was not ever sovereign and self existent nor was he without cause in becoming the Son of God. He derives his power and glory from God. This is one of the reasons for the declaration that he is a Son of God.
In the Beginning
One of the challenges when studying this topic is the scriptural concept of “in the beginning”.
It is easy to assume that some passages are saying that Christ has been the Son of God from the beginning of eternity, however I do not think that is what they are saying.
Many if not all of the passages that speak about Christ being in the beginning with the father are referring to the beginning of the creation of this “world” or “earth”, or the creation of all “worlds and earths”.
I am unaware of any scriptures that refer to the beginning of ETERNITY. That would be a contradiction in terms. Context is so important when interpreting scripture and building belief based on oxymorons is a slippery slope.
JN you have provided some good mental gyrations in dissecting the Greek translations to suggest that terms like “only begotten” and “first born” do not necessarily literally mean what we may think they mean in the English language, however, we cannot get around the declarations in modern revelation that Christ is indeed the “Son of God“.
What does it mean to be the Son of God?
I believe it inherently implies that Christ originates from the Father. Further, it inherently implies a beginning point of some kind regardless of what the exact process was or how it may differ from how a mortal father begets a mortal son.
I take those declarations of Christ’s Sonship to be evidence of a literal beginning point having to do with his state of Sonship and I don’t see how Christ can be the Son of God if he has always eternally been co-existent with the Father and self existent.
The very act of being a Son inherently implies an act of being begotten or created by a father.
Christ was the Beginning Creation of the Father
The Book of Revelation informs us that Christ is the “Amen” and the “beginning of the creation of God”
14 And unto the servant of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;
Some translations of this verse state that Christ is “the beginning of God’s creations“. Some state that Christ is “the chief of God’s creation.”
Edward Harwood’s translation of 1768 puts it; “The very first Being that the Deity called into existence.”
Although anyone can choose to interpret a passage differently, to me, Rev 3:14 is clearly identifying Christ as the first of God’s creations.
It is interestingly to note that In the 4th century, a major doctrinal controversy occurred in the church based on the question of whether Christ was a created being. A teacher from Alexandria named Arius believed and taught that the three persons of the trinity were not equally God, and that the Son of God was a created being. This resulted in a major council of church leaders, which became known as the Council of Nicea.
Since the fulness of the Father teaches that the Father shares his fulness with the Son, I do not agree with Arius, however, I think his supposition that Christ was a created being is on solid scriptural footing.
Paul seems to agree with John that Christ was the first of all creations:
15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature.
16 For by Him were all things created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones or dominions or principalities or powers: all things were created by Him and for Him
While we all agree with Paul that Christ created all other creatures, few people realize the subtle declaration of Paul in those verses, verifying that Christ is also a creature, or created being
1. That which is created; every being besides the Creator, or every thing not self-existent. The sun, moon and stars; the earth, animals, plants, light, darkness, air, water, etc., are the creatures of God.
Additionally, another somewhat subtle declaration is made in Lectures on Faith wherein we are informed that Christ was MADE or FASHIONED like unto man and in the express image and likeness of the personage of the Father after whose image man was created!
The Son, who was in the bosom of the Father, a personage of tabernacle, made, or fashioned like unto man, or being in the form and likeness of man, or, rather, man was formed after his likeness, and in his image;
FASH’IONED, participle passive Made; formed; shaped; fitted; adapted. made
Just because Christ was made, fashioned, created, does not mean that he is a finite being. He was an eternal spirit being before he was fashioned. It does not mean that he is not our divine creator. It does not mean that he is not now God by receiving the fulness of the Father.
Those that get indigestion about the possibility of Christ being created go to great lengths to challenge the terms “only begotten” and “first born” and “Son” and to suggest that maybe they don’t imply a creation point, but the truth is that when read contextually with other declarations from John and Paul, and the Book of Moses and the Book of Abraham and modern revelation, they appear to mean just exactly what they say.
It is important to stress that Christ was never “self existent” as a God, rather, he like all other created beings, gets his power from the Father.
The Book of Moses reveals that the Father created all things through his Son. I believe that is largely why John refers to Christ as the chief creation of the Father.
Is the Book of Abraham is a valid inspired book of scripture?
I believe it is. (although I am going to share some very interesting research on this topic done by a reader of this blog in a future post)
I have found to much contextual support for it to be a fabrication.
It informs us chapter 3:21-2 that there were two types of beings in the pre-earthly council of this world. One of them is referred to as “organized intelligences” leaving us to deduct that the other type of beings were “unorganized intelligences“.
..I rule in the heavens above, and in the earth beneath, in all wisdom and prudence, over all the intelligences thine eyes have seen from the beginning; I came down in the beginning in the midst of all the intelligences thou hast seen.
22 Now the Lord had shown unto me, Abraham, the intelligences that were organized before the world was; and among all these there were many of the noble and great ones;
The very next passage appears to give the clarifying descriptives for “organized intelligences” and unorganized intelligences. They are referred to as “spirits” and “Souls”
23 And God saw these souls that they were good, and he stood in the midst of them, and he said: These I will make my rulers; for he stood among those that were spirits, and he saw that they were good; and he said unto me: Abraham, thou art one of them; thou wast chosen before thou wast born.
Again, contextually, it appears as if unorganized intelligences are being referred to as spirits while organized intelligences are being referred to as souls.
Interestingly, the term soul varies between the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants. The Book of Mormon sometimes treats the word soul synonymous with spirit while the Doctrine and Covenants defines soul as the joining together of a physical body and spirit.
Contextually, it becomes obvious to me that the Book of Abraham translation of soul is consistent with the D&C. It is differentiating and clarifying the declaration in the previous passage about organized intelligences vs. unorganized intelligences.
In light of the above passage, the following passage in the D&C that you believe to be speaking about two unrelated concepts, does in fact identify man as an intelligence
29 Man was also in the beginning with God. Intelligence, or the light of truth, was not created or made, neither indeed can be.
As we continue in the narrative from that same section (93) we learn that man is a “spirit” and that when clothed upon with physical “element” that is “inseparably connected“, a “fulness of joy” can be achieved:
32 And every man whose spirit receiveth not the light is under condemnation.
33 For man is spirit. The elements are eternal, and spirit and element, inseparably connected, receive a fulness of joy;
34 And when separated, man cannot receive a fulness of joy.
35 The elements are the tabernacle of God; yea, man is the tabernacle of God, even temples; and whatsoever temple is defiled, God shall destroy that temple.
36 The glory of God is intelligence, or, in other words, light and truth.
37 Light and truth forsake that evil one.
Here we have another verifying witness that man is spirit and that when organized with element, we have the distinguishing characteristic between a spirit (unorganized intelligence) and a soul (an unorganized intelligence).
[Editorial Notes: As an interesting side note, it is implied in that passage that only celestial beings will be resurrected in an inseparably connected body composed of spirit and element resulting in a “fulness of joy“. This may explain why section 88 identifies those celestial spirits of the morning of the first being raised from death to be quickened and caught up, while those terrestrial inhabitants that come forth in the afternoon of the first resurrection remain on the earth to be judged according to “men in the flesh” with no mention of a final resurrection where their spirits and elements are inseparably connected for eternity. Indeed Section 76 informs us that the terrestrial spirits “are they who receive of his glory, but not of his fulness [of joy].!!]
According to an alleged statement from Joseph Smith, there are two types of beings in heaven, (the celestial kingdom) “spirits” of just men made perfect, [who are not yet resurrected, but inherit the same glory] and “angels“. That would be consistent with the spirits and souls spoken of in the pre-earth council in the book of Abraham.
As you can see, there are multiple scriptural witnesses that are consistent with regard to the concept of organized and unorganized intelligences.
JN your assumption that organized intelligences refers to the organizing of a council is not contextually congruent with the text in the Book of Abraham or the corresponding passages that I have documented.
The Old Testament is very clear about the Fact that God is the same yesterday today and forever and that he never changes. Yet by your own admission, the scriptures note that Christ was called the Son of God “because he received not the fulness at first“. Is that not depicting a changing being when, in fact God has told us that he changes not?
Clearly, he went through a change or transition that is not consistent with the characteristics that define the eternal God. He is referred to as God because he is infused with the fulness of the Father and therefore he becomes one with the Father legally claiming all of the divine attributes of the Father.
JN you quoted section 93 about Christ being called the son of God because he received not the fulness at first. You said:
D&C 93:14: 14 And thus he was called the Son of God, because he received not of the fulness at the first. I see the connection of not having the “fulness at first” with its relation to condescending in the flesh and not in the preexistence. I agree that John was talking about the beginning before the world was, but I believe that shifts in verse 11 when he mentions Christ condescending coming down and dwelling in flesh.
Yet the Father refers to Christ being the Son before he condescended to go to earth:
1 And I, the LORD God, spake unto Moses, saying, That Satan, whom thou hast commanded in the name of mine Only Begotten, is the same which was from the beginning;
2 And he came before me, saying, Behold I; send me. I will be thy Son, and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost; and surely I will do it. Wherefore, give me thine honor.
3 But behold, my beloved Son, which was my beloved and chosen from the beginning, said unto me, Father, thy will be done, and the glory be thine forever.
JN, I realize you are interpreting some of these passages differently than I do. However, I have provided in this response other scriptural evidences not previously discussed by me that provide additional context.
Again, we all see through a glass darkly at this time, and I don’t expect that we are going to agree on this topic. But I appreciate you and Mike bringing another interpretive perspective to the discussion and for the opportunity to explain why I see things differently than you do.
Until the servants return and we are all brought into a unity of the faith, keep watching.