Recently on Twitter, a Mormon theology scholar by the name of Dan McClellan recently posted a video, making the argument that Jesus is not, nor has he ever in the New Testament claimed to be, God.
“Jesus nowhere claims to be God in the New Testament. What Jesus claims is to be the authorized bearer of the Divine Name and therefore to manifest the presence and the divinity of God and to have the power and authority to do what only God is supposed to be able to do.
But that’s not unique or new to Jesus. That’s just the logic of divine images applied to a sentient, personal being. And that’s a pattern that is already developed in the Hebrew Bible where we have the angel of the Lord who similarly manifests God’s presence and divinity and does what only God is supposed to be able to do, because as God explains in Exodus 23, ‘my name is in him.’”
McClellan went on to argue that Jesus is simply aggregating the example set forth in the Old Testament and Greco-Roman era Judaic literature. He is capable of performing acts of God because the name of God is “in him”, just as it was in the angels and prophets before Him.
Cale Clarke took a look at this video on a recent episode of The Cale Clarke Show and explained why McClellan’s arguments are misguided and inaccurate, and how we know that Jesus’s claim to be God is much more than a metaphor for His divine appointment as a messenger from above.
Cale began by clarifying the fact that even though the Mormon religion is technically known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, they are not Christian.
“They don’t believe in the Trinity. They don’t believe that there is one God and three persons in the Godhead: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,” he said. They may have “Jesus Christ” in the name of their church, and they may talk about God the Father, but it’s important to clarify the meaning behind their words.
Contrary to what one might think, Mormons are actually polytheists. This isn’t information they share with you when they first approach you, but they actually believe in an innumerable amount of gods. Cale’s hometown, Cole Harbor, Nova Scotia, is actually home to one of the few Mormon temples, and growing up, Cale had several Mormon friends whom he discussed religion with. And after learning a lot about the Mormon faith, he’s learned that their beliefs, regardless of how they initially present themselves, are not at all related to the Christian faith.
“When Mormon missionaries knock on people’s doors, they don’t tell people – usually, the first time that they meet you – that they believe that every Mormon male hopes to one day become a god on his own planet. I am not making that up.”
Further, Mormons believe that to be the very case on our planet, Earth. They think that a man reached such high levels of personal holiness that he was granted the title of “god” and his own planet. They also believe that the god of Earth (the one they refer to as “God the Father”) is a corporeal being, who had physical relations with Mary and that that was how Jesus Christ was conceived.
But even though Mormons are not Christian, Dan McClellan’s argument has great relevance to the Christian world. He, as a scholar, is calling into question the divinity of Jesus, the one who founded our Church. But he is highly mistaken.
Just as Jesus knew people would argue about the office of bishops, He knew that people would argue about the truthfulness of dogma and teaching. So just as He established apostolic succession, He established a teaching authority in the Magisterium. They are the final word when it comes to scriptural interpretation, regardless of whether Dan McClellan references the Book of Enoch or the Apocalypse of Abraham to present context from non-Canon sources.
McClellan is pointedly calling out Jesus’s words in the New Testament, so what does the Gospel itself have to say about His divinity?
“Jesus said to them, ‘Amen, amen, I say to you, before Abraham came to be, I AM.’” (John 8:58)
“‘The Father and I are one.’” (John 10:30)
“‘If I do not perform my Father’s works, do not believe me; but if I perform them, even if you do not believe me, believe the works, so that you may realize [and understand] that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.’” (John 10:38)
“‘Now glorify me, Father, with you, with the glory that I had with you before the world began.’” (John 17:5)
As theologian N.T. Wright says the New Testament was written based on the pre-supposition that Jesus was God. In other words, the gospels were written to address believers, not to convince readers that Jesus was the Messiah. For Christian teaching, go to the Catechism. It is based on sacred tradition and scripture, which was interpreted by the one, true teaching authority of the Church: The Magisterium.
Tune in to The Cale Clarke Show weekdays at 5pm CT