Sunday, October 9

Jesus and Satan: Spirit Brothers?

The branch of the Christian tradition popularly known as Mormonism, founded by Joseph Smith in the 1820's in New York, postulates that we are all spirit children of God the Father and of a Mother Goddess, and the offspring of said beings include not only us, but Jesus and Satan as well.[1] The Church of Latter Day Saints (LDS), or Mormons, teach that Jesus and Satan are literal spirit brothers, who had a beginning, although Jesus was born first "in the morning of pre-existence."[2] Jehovah's Witnesses, on the other hand, teach that Jesus was once the archangel Michael who later became a man.[3] Many regard Satan and Michael as brothers, since from what we can glean, Satan was likely once an angel. This is where we draw the conclusion concerning Jehovah's Witness teaching regarding Jesus and Satan. Though dissimilar in several aspects, both Mormonism and Jehovah's Witnesses essentially teach that Jesus and Satan are brothers. Let's take a look at this doctrine. (Photo source/credit: Mosaic derived from Basillica di San Marco)

Jehovah's Witnesses, as noted, do not specifically teach this doctrine, though it is, to some degree, implied. Watchtower magazine, the only venue through which the Witnesses believe they can rightly interpret Scripture, says, "As God's firstborn Son, Jesus was a spirit creature in heaven before he was born as a human on earth."[4] Mormon doctrine teaches that God once had a father and mother, and that this god had a father, who in turn also had a father, and so forth. This creates an issue, however, which can be called an infinite regression of causes. If God had a father, who also had a father, and that god had a father, when does the cycle begin? In this infinite regression of causes, this would mean that god exalted a god who exalted another god, and that there is no start to the chain. If God was eternal, there would not be an issue, because He would be outside of time and space, and not bound by it, because He would have created it. In Mormonism, however, God is not eternal, but had a beginning. Mormon doctrine teaches that God was born on another planet as a man, and later had relations with his goddess wife and that we are the result of this union, their "spirit children."[5]

12th century mosaic at St Mark's Basilica, Venice
As conveyed by the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry, "There cannot be an infinite regression of causes, i.e., a god that exalted someone to godhood, who exalted someone to godhood, ad infinitum.  This is logically impossible.  Why?  Because you can not cross an infinity. In other words, in order for us to get to the present state of this god on this planet, there would have had to be an infinite number of exaltations in the past.  But, this cannot be because in order to get to the present, you would have to transverse an infinite number of exaltations.  But that is impossible since you cannot transverse an infinity -- if you could cross (transverse) an infinity of time, then it isn't infinite.  Therefore, the Mormon system of infinite regressions of exaltations to godhood is impossible..."[6] This eternal progression of gods is not found in the Bible. What does God's Word tell us about Him?
  • "Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the LORD is one." (Deuteronomy 6:4, TNIV)
  • "The eternal God is your refuge..." (Deuteronomy 33:27)
  • "...the LORD is God... there is no other." (1st Kings 8:60)
  • "The LORD reigns forever..." (Psalm 9:7)
  • "...the LORD is enthroned as King forever." (Psalm 29:10)
  • "God, who is enthroned from of old, who does not change..." (Psalm 55:19)
  • "Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God." (Psalm 90:2)
  • "Your throne was established long ago; you are from all eternity." (Psalm 93:2)
  • "...And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." (Isaiah 9:6)
  • "...the LORD is the Rock eternal." (Isaiah 26:4)
  • "Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me. I, even I, am the LORD, and apart from me there is no savior." (Isaiah 43:10-11)
  • "...apart from me there is no God." (Isaiah 44:6)
  • "Is there any God besides me? No, there is no other Rock..." (Isaiah 44:8)
  • "I am the LORD, who has made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by myself." (Isaiah 44:24)
  • "I am God, and there is no other." (Isaiah 46:9)
  • "But the LORD is the true God; he is the living God, the eternal King." (Jeremiah 10:10)
  • "I am God, and not a human being - the Holy One among you." (Hosea 11:9)
  • "...one LORD..." (Zechariah 14:9)
  • "Do we not all have one Father? Did not one God create us?" (Malachi 2:10)
  • "God is one and there is no other but him." (Mark 12:32)
  • "There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and father of all, who is over all and through all and in all." (Ephesians 4:4-6)
  • "Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen." (1st Timothy 1:17)
  • ..."there is one God." (James 2:19)
There are many other references and points to make, but these references are sufficient enough to establish that God, as described in Scripture, is eternal, immortal, one being, and that there are no other gods. Though the Bible describes around twenty-three foreign gods, it is clear that these are "false gods." Some are quick to claim, "the concept of monotheism is recent, and the Bible actually teaches that there is many gods." In each case, including passages such as Psalm 82:1, Scripture must interpret Scripture. It is clear that when the Bible speaks of "others gods," it is not referring to more than one god, but to authorities. When Christ refers back to Psalm 82 concerning the priests, He is calling them authorities, not literal gods (cf. John 10:34-35). As for the concept of monotheism, two points: 1) how does one define "recent?" 2) the Hebrew Bible is packed with references to the nature of God, including the verses above. If we wish to say that Judaism began with Abraham, we would date its inception to the 1800's BC. If we wish to say it was Moses, we would date it to the 1400's BC. Either way, monotheism is not a "new" concept. This topic will be covered more in-depth in a later article.

One can make an inference based on a comparison between monotheism and polytheism. In monotheism, there exists only one god, whereas in polytheism, there exists more than one god -  Hinduism, for example, in which some believe in thousands or more. Yet if polytheism were true, and there was more than one creator or heavenly power, then the universe would be in a constant state of disorder, a constant state of chaos. Some may argue that our universe is in a state of chaos now, and while sin has "cracked" God's perfect creation, if you will, the Natural Laws still uphold the universe. We can still recognize order. Consider the following analogy: if person A wanted to create a computer program in which the player would engage in a virtual paradise, free of problems, but person B, using the same program, wanted to create a program in which the player would engage in a virtual world of suffering, there would be a constant conflict, and disorder as well as chaos would abound. Not the best analogy, but according to the Bible, there is only one God, who created the universe perfect. Giving man the choice of free will, we chose to break free of this, and attempted to become "like God" (Genesis 3:5). By doing so, we "cracked" God's perfect creation. But God still holds the universe together (Colossians 1:17; Hebrews 1:3). 

This, though, diverges a bit from the topic at hand. It does not answer the lingering question, "Are Jesus and Satan spirit brothers?" The Christian Scriptures teach that Jesus is God. Jesus is called God (Isaiah 7:14, 9:6; Matthew 1:23; John 1:14, 20:28; Titus 2:13; 2nd Peter 1:1; 1st John 5:20), Jesus declared Himself God - and not the literal Son of God, but Son in the relational sense (John 5:18, 8:58, 10:33; Matthew 26:63-64, 28:18-19; Hebrews 1:8), He is to be worshiped (Hebrews 1:5-6; Philippians 2:9-10; Revelation 19:10), and both Testaments teach to worship God only (Deuteronomy 6:13; Luke 4:8; Revelation 19:10, 22:9). Jesus is also called the Creator, and passages such as Isaiah 44:24 make clear that God alone made "all things" (John 1:1-14; Colossians 1:12-17; Revelation 14:7), and we are also taught that Jesus is equal to the Father, and is therefore God (Matthew 28:18-19; 2nd Corinthians 4:4; Philippians 2:6; Colossians 2:15, 19). Just as Colossians 2:9 teaches, "For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form." As an aside, the title "Son of God" was understood in the Jewish context to be a messianic title, and not a claim to be the biological son of God (see Psalm 2, 89; 2nd Samuel 7:14; Proverbs 30:4; Hosea 11:1).

To note, there are other lines of internal and external evidence for the deity of Christ, which have been explored in prior articles. Now, in Ezekiel 28, when Satan was influencing the king of Tyre, God spoke directly to Satan. From this chapter, we can glean that Satan was the serpent in the Garden of Eden (v.13; cf. Revelation 12:9, 20:2), that he is a created being (v.13, 15), that he was once the "guardian cherub" (v.14, 16), and that Satan was created perfect, and having been given free will, he chose sin (v.15-17). Isaiah 14:12-15 reveals that Satan attempted to overthrow God, and make himself "like God," saying, "...I will make myself like the Most High" (v.14). Micah 5:2, Colossians 1:17, Hebrews 1:8–12, 13:8; and John 8:58 indicate that Jesus is eternal, and elsewhere we find passages which say that God is eternal and unchanging. Therein we find a distinction between Jesus and Satan: Jesus is God, uncreated, immortal, eternal, and unchanging, though He made Himself lower than the angels (Hebrews 2:9) for a little while, dwelling in flesh (John 1:14, Colossians 2:9) to redeem us from our sins, and by accepting Him as Lord and believing that He rose from the dead, we may be saved (Romans 10:9). Compared to Jesus, Satan is a created being, and has sinned (Isaiah 14:12-15; Ezekiel 28:15-17), whereas Jesus never sinned (Hebrews 4:15; 1st Peter 2:22).

Jesus created "all things," and Satan is one of these creations. Jesus is God; and Satan - in popular belief within the tradition - is a fallen angel who rebelled against God. Jesus is the Creator, and Satan is one of the creations. The fact that Satan rebelled was not a flaw in the creation, but a choice of the creation. Consider: if God had not given us free will, we would be nothing more than mindless drones unwillingly obeying the divine will of God. No, God gave us free will for a myriad of reasons, one of which includes the chance to love, and the choice to accept or deny Him. By teaching that, like Jesus and Satan, we are all spirit children of the Father, Mormonism teaches that we too have the potential to become gods.[7] Instead of distinguishing between the Creator and us, the creation, they teach that the creation can somehow become the Creator. The Bible is clear on the fate of Christ and Satan: Jesus will reign forever (2nd Samuel 7:13; Psalm 9:7, 45:6 - cf. Hebrews 1:8; Ezekiel 37:27-28; Daniel 7:14; Micah 4:7; Revelation 21-22, etc.), and Satan's ultimate fate is that he "will be tormented day and night for ever and ever," having been cast into "the lake of burning sulfur" (Revelation 20:10).

By making mankind spirit brothers and sisters along with Jesus and Satan Mormonism has, whether adherents are aware of this or not, rehashed what Satan said to Eve in the Garden of Eden, "you will be like God..." (Genesis 3:5). Several centuries later, mankind again attempted to become "like God," as indicated by their approach, "Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not to be scattered over the face of the whole earth" (Genesis 11:4). In defiance of God's direct command to "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it" (Genesis 1:28), we mimicked Satan, trying to establish ourselves above the throne of God (Isaiah 14), and make ourselves "like God." This has been numerous times since the beginning of the world, and we again see it here, in Mormonism, where it is taught that we have the potential to become a god. There is a reason that God did not want us to "know good and evil," but our ancestors chose to disobey God's direct command, and in doing so, corrupted creation. Attempting to again repeat history and become "like God" is not what God wants for His people.

Are Jesus and Satan brothers? No, Jesus is God, while Satan is a created being, a fallen angel. Both have radically different fates, and though both do not have an end, Jesus never had a beginning, but Satan did. In Matthew 16:15, Christ asked, "But who do you say that I am?" To say that the one who despises us because we were made in the image of God is our brother (Satan), and that God Himself is our brother, goes against the clear teaching of Scripture. Surely, some may argue that Jesus is not God, and that it is not "clear teaching," raising objections to the deity of Christ. Nevertheless, The Truth Ministry believes that Jesus is God. Jesus and Satan are not spirit brothers, and though the topic of Jesus as Michael will be covered in another article, we also hold that Jesus is not Michael the archangel, but that the two are distinct, separate beings. If as Jehovah's Witnesses taught, Jesus was once Michael, this would theoretically make him the brother of Satan. Yet the Bible does not teach that Jesus and Satan are spirit brothers - it teaches that Jesus is Creator, and Satan is one of the creations. Nowhere in Scripture do we find the phrase, "Jesus and Satan are brothers" in any sense.

Troy Hillman

Sources
[1] Mormon Doctrine, p. 163.
[2] Ibid, p.192
[3] The Watchtower, May 15, 1963, p. 307; The New World, 284. 
[4] The Watchtower, April 1, 2011, p.5.
[5] Mormon Doctrine, p. 321, 561; Articles of Faith, by James Talmage, p. 443' Joseph Smith, Times and Seasons, vol. 5, p. 613-614; Orson Pratt, Journal of Discourses, vol. 2, p. 345; Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, vol. 7, p. 333.
[6] Slick, Matthew J. "A logical proof that Mormonism is false." Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry. Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry, n.d. Web. 9 Oct 2011.
[7] Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 345-347, 354; Doctrines & Covenants 132:20.


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6 comments:

  1. Anonymous,
    Thank you for taking the time to comment. However, I must correct you. You had stated, "You are wrong." In all actuality, my name is Troy, not wrong. To be candid, though, the article was written in a argumentative format, and to simply state "you are wrong" is not a valid argument, it is an appeal to your beliefs.
    God bless you.

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  2. Why are you so obsessed with other peoples religion, if you are secure in your own beliefs. Jesus is the son of God, not heavenly father. If Jesus was god, why did he ask his father why he had forsaken him, when he was on the cross. Does God have multiple personality disorder? Also Satan and Christ were spritual brothers, not physical. Satan was a glorified angel who decided he wanted all the power, and he wa cast out. King James version.

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    Replies
    1. Hello, Lisa! Thank you for taking the time to comment on the article and share your thoughts. Why am I "so obsessed" with "other peoples religion"? Well, because as someone in ministry who is tasked with defending Christianity, that also means examining the beliefs of other denominations and other religions. It's quite logical to do so, and it's a good thing for people to understand their own beliefs as well as the beliefs of others. So there is nothing logically or Biblically wrong with writing articles of this nature, I am sorry if you feel otherwise. If I may point out - you commented on my article, which by the logic used would mean that you are insecure in your own beliefs.

      But since both of us appear to be quite firm in our own beliefs, I'll simply note that Scripture encourages us to research, study, check and know why we believe what we believe - and why we do not believe other things.

      As for Satan and Jesus being "spiritual brothers," there is nothing in the canonical Scriptures or the writings of the Early Church to give us any evidence for this. Jesus is God, and this belief has been held from the very beginning. Satan was indeed a glorified angel who wanted to become a god himself and was cast out, but Jesus was not his spiritual brother - Jesus is the one who created Satan. This is quite clear from the earliest writings of the Church, both in the Scriptures and the Church Fathers.

      I wrote an article that may explain a bit more on Jesus as God and the historical, textual and archaeological evidence than I can get into in this comment, which you can find here: http://thetruth-blog.blogspot.com/2013/09/exegesis-on-early-christian-christology.html

      However. I will here excerpt part of it in case you don't have the time or desire to read through (I realize my work can be length):
      One of our earliest non-biblical references is found in a letter written by Plinius Secundus (Pliny the Younger), who was governor of Bithynia in Asia Minor c.AD 112. In this letter addressed to Emperor Trajan (AD 98-112), he writes that that the Christians “were accustomed to meet on a fixed day before dawn and sing responsively a hymn to Christ as to a god” (emphasis mine, Epistle X.96). Evidently by AD 112 the Christians in Asia Minor had been worshiping Jesus as a god, according to Pliny. There are also various other references to Jesus as God in the second century. Polycarp (c.AD 115) referred to “our Lord and God Jesus Christ” (Philippians 12:2). In a Syriac version of the Apology by Aristides written about AD 125 we read, “it is said that God came down from heaven, and from a Hebrew virgin assumed and clothed himself with flesh” (2).In the Sibylline Oracles, book 6 we read, “O blessed tree, on which God was hung!” The Epistle to Diognetus 7 says, “As a king sends his son, who is also a king, so God sent Him (Jesus Christ). He sent Him as God.” Also, the Address to the Greeks from Tatian notes that “God was born in the form of a man” (21). 2nd Clement 1:1 says, “Brothers, we must think about Jesus as we think about God” (written c.AD 150).

      Along with many other Gnostic texts, by about AD 100 there appears to be a belief held by at least some members of the church that Jesus was God. The 2nd and 3rd centuries onward are replete with references to Jesus as God or as a god, particularly from the Gnostics. So much so, apparently, that a third-century writer as quoted by Eusebius asserts of a series of teachers in the second-century “in all of whose work Christ is spoken of as God” (Ecclesiastical History 5:28). The Johannine works found in the New Testament - John, 1st-3rd John and Revelation – make several clear references to the divinity and humanity of Jesus, as has been recognized by both Christian and non-Christian scholars.

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    2. Further:

      Early magical papyri and other related items provide further credence for this understanding. Jesus’ name was used in a myriad of pagan spells and exorcisms, and was usually identified as a god. For example, a lead tablet from the third century found in Carthage says, “… the god having authority over this hour in which I conjure you, Jesus.” It also names Hermes, the Greek god and others. Another ancient pagan papyri says, “I conjure you by the god of the Hebrews, Jesus” (PGM IV, line 3020). Line 2929 of the same papyrus may also contain an anagrammatized mention of Jesus in an invocation of the sexual goddess Aphrodite for a love charm. Given the context, his name appears to be used as a deity. While the magical papyri is after the first century, it evidently reflects a tradition found in the earliest of gospels, seemingly demonstrating that even during Christ’s lifetime, some considered him a god.

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    3. [That is all I will excerpt from the article. On your last point, about why Jesus called out to the Father if both were God:]
      While on the cross in Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34, Jesus cries out, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?" Many believe that here, Jesus is demonstrating that He is not God. However, this is not the case. Jesus is actually quoting from Psalm 22:1, a Psalm of David written nearly 1000 years before the birth of Christ. By citing Psalm 22, Jesus knew that we could later go back and check the entire Psalm, and indeed the New Testament writers quoted from this particular Psalm elsewhere for a good reason: parts of it depict the scene of the crucifixion! For example, "they pierce my hands and my feet...", "They divide my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment," "All who see me mock me, they hurl insults..." and the passage, "I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted within me" (Psalm 22:14), many believe refers to the fact that Jesus' heart burst, or ruptured, and when the soldier speared His side, John 19:33-34 records that it brought "a sudden flow of blood and water," showing that His heart had ruptured.

      Aside from this, when Jesus cried out "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?", it also signified that the Father, for the first time in all of eternity, had to turn away from the Son, and for the first time, both were disconnected, and not only did Jesus experience extreme loneliness because of this, but all of the sins of mankind - past, present, and future - were placed upon him then. Elsewhere, such as John 20:17 and Revelation 3:2 and 12, when Jesus calls the Father, "My God," this is also not a claim that He is not God. Though Jesus is God incarnate, He is still separate from the Father. The Father is the God of the Son, and this does not negate the fact that each is part of the whole, as stated prior, much like a pyramid - one pyramid, but three sides, though each one may be different. Indeed, the Father even calls Jesus "Lord" and "God." In Psalm 110:1 we read, "The LORD says to my Lord: 'Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet."

      Also, when the Father is quoted as speaking of Jesus, we read that "...about the Son He says, 'Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever...'" (Hebrews 1:8). The Father calls the Son - God, and the Son calls the Father - God. The same is true of the Holy Spirit. Though the Trinity is a rather complex and difficult to understand relation, it is still biblical, and it is what we know of the nature of God. God is not a human, and since, aside from things such as multiple personality disorder, one person is normally not three, it is difficult for our fallible minds which are tied to linear time and not eternity - to rationalize that God is one yet three (Although eternity has been set in the human heart, see Ecclesiastes 3:11).

      I hope this has answered some of the things you brought up, Lisa. Best wishes, peace and love!

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