The doctrine of spiritual brotherhood
In responding to my recent post, “Are Mormons Christian?” an anonymous commenter objected to my claim that members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are Christians because he said that we believe Jesus and the devil are “literal” brothers. Elder Ballard requested that we become more involved with the dialog on the Internet about the church and our doctrine.
Said Elder Ballard, “There are conversations going on about the church constantly. Those conversations will continue whether or not we choose to participate in them. But we cannot stand on the sidelines while others, including our critics, attempt to define what the church teaches. There is no need to argue or contend with others regarding our beliefs.” In that spirit I offer this explanation.
This question has been raised and debated many times in the past, especially since Mike Huckabee made it a campaign issue in December 2007. I wrote about it back then but want to offer a more complete answer now since this reader brought it up again. My main objection to the comment is the inclusion of the word “literal”. It shows a lack of doctrinal understanding.
The doctrine of spiritual brotherhood
Here is the short LDS Newsroom answer, “Like other Christians, we believe Jesus is the divine Son of God. Satan is a fallen angel. As the Apostle Paul wrote, God is the Father of all. That means that all beings were created by God and are His spirit children. Christ, however, was the only begotten in the flesh, and we worship Him as the Son of God and the Savior of mankind.”
So Jesus and Satan are not “literal” brothers. My anonymous commenter is implying that literal means physical. That is false doctrine. Jesus was born into mortality as the Son of God. Satan never had a physical body so how could they be literal or physical brothers? They are not. I suspect that my friend was looking for shock value in his comment, just as Mike Huckabee was.
As the newsroom explanation points out, we are all spirit children of our Heavenly Father, and are therefore all spiritual brothers and sisters. That includes Lucifer, who the scriptures tell us was a son of the morning, meaning he was also a son of God, just as I am a son of God. God is the Father of all, including Lucifer. When he was cast out of heaven he became Satan or the devil.
Our spiritual family
As we declare in “The Living Christ,”We solemnly testify that His life, which is central to all human history, neither began in Bethlehem nor concluded on Calvary. He was the Firstborn of the Father, the Only Begotten Son in the flesh, the Redeemer of the world.” Jesus Christ was the Firstborn of Heavenly Father’s spirit children. We all, along with Lucifer, were born later.
We were all with our Heavenly Father as spirits in a premortal existence. We lived together as families before we were born into mortality. Lucifer and one third of the hosts of heaven, by their own choice, decided that they did not want to become mortal and learn to walk by faith. Satan and his followers are here on the Earth. They do not have physical bodies but are spirits.
Are these spirits still considered our brothers and sisters? If so, that means that we too are brothers and sisters to Lucifer, just as we are brothers and sisters to Jesus Christ. I don’t think that is too hard to understand, do you? Perhaps some don’t like to think about it. While it is true, the idea of evil spirits hanging around and trying to lead us astray is not a pleasant thought.
Summary and Conclusion
Our understanding of the doctrine of spiritual brotherhood and the family of God only solidifies our position that we are Christians. There is no inconsistency with the idea that Jesus and Lucifer were brothers and our bold statement that we are true followers of Jesus Christ. He is our Elder Brother. We worship Him out of love because of His love for us in atoning for our sins.
We do not argue with or belittle others who have not thought the issue through or have decided not to accept the doctrine. It is straightforward and logical. There is nothing sinister about it. Perhaps my anonymous commenter does not understand the concept of a fallen angel. Who created the angels? God did of course. Who created us? The same God. The same family.
We invite everyone to study the doctrine for themselves. It is not difficult to understand. It just takes a little patience to think it through. We hope that those who do not accept the doctrine will not try to redefine it in an effort to misrepresent it to others. Instead of telling others what you think we believe, please point them to official sources where they can interpret it for themselves.