Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
The Only Begotten of the Father in the Flesh: Mormonism's Embarrassing Theology (#4)
12/05/2007 - James WhiteBut of all LDS authorities, Apostle Bruce R. McConkie provides the clearest, most pointed affirmations of this doctrine. In his book, Mormon Doctrine, in defining the phrase, "Only Begotten Son," he wrote,
These name-titles all signify that our Lord is the only Son of the Father in the flesh. Each of the words is to be understood literally. Only means only; Begotten means begotten; and Son means son. Christ was begotten by an Immortal Father in the same way that mortal men are begotten by mortal fathers.What does "the same way that mortal men are begotten by mortal fathers" mean? McConkie has no hesitation:
God the Father is a perfected, glorified, holy Man, an immortal Personage. And Christ was born into the world as the literal Son of this Holy Being; he was born in the same personal, real, and literal sense that any mortal son is born to a mortal father. There is nothing figurative about his paternity; he was begotten, conceived and born in the normal and natural course of events, for he is the Son of God, and that designation means what it says."There is nothing figurative about his paternity" we are told. McConkie is no nineteenth century leader-he passed away in 1985! But these are just the beginning of the passages in which this Mormon leader taught-with the force of doctrine itself-this concept. I quote from The Promised Messiah:
The great God, the Eternal Elohim, the Father of us all, . . . in his love, mercy, and grace condescended to step down from his Almighty throne, to step down to a lesser and benighted state, as it were, and become the Father of a Son "after the manner of the flesh." . . . This then is the condescension of God-that a God should beget a man; that an Immortal Parent should father a mortal Son; that the Creator of all things from the beginning should step down from his high state of exaltation and be, for a moment, like one of the creatures of his creating. . . .We have spoken plainly of our Lord's conception in the womb of Mary; in reality the plain assertions are found in the revealed word, and we have but certified that the words mean what they say and cannot be spiritualized away. And as it is with reference to our Lord's mother, so it is as pertaining to his Father. The scriptures say that Jesus Christ is the Only Begotten Son. The problem is that the intellectually led ministry and laity of the day assume, as Satan leads them to do, that a name-title of this sort is simply figurative and does not have the same literal meaning as when the words are spoken in ordinary conversation. Perhaps again the best service we can render, on the issue here involved, is somehow to get the message across that words mean what they say, and that if Christ is the Only Begotten of the Father, it means just that.It seems impossible to me that anyone could miss McConkie's point. How else could he possibly state it? If he is not teaching this doctrine, he is doing everything in his power to confuse and mislead the reader, that's for certain! The reader should note: nowhere do any of these General Authorities say, "Now, this is merely my speculation on the topic-it's just an opinion which you can take or leave." As much as some professors at BYU might wish otherwise, these men meant what they said. Listen to how McConkie put it:
Some words scarcely need definition. They are on every tongue and are spoken by every voice. The very existence of intelligent beings presupposes and requires their constant use. Two such words are father and son. Their meaning is known to all, and to define them is but to repeat them. Thus: A son is a son is a son, and a father is a father is a father. I am the son of my father and the father of my sons. They are my sons because they were begotten by me, were conceived by their mother, and came forth from her womb to breathe the breath of mortal life, to dwell for a time and a season among other mortal men.
And so it is with the Eternal Father and the mortal birth of the Eternal Son. The Father is a Father is a Father; he is not a spirit essence or nothingness to which the name Father is figuratively applied. And the Son is a Son is a Son; he is not some transient emanation from a divine essence, but a literal, living offspring of an actual Father. God is the Father; Christ is the Son. The one begat the other. Mary provided the womb from which the Spirit Jehovah came forth, tabernacles in clay, as all men are, to dwell among his fellow spirits whose births were brought to pass in like manner. There is no need to spiritualize away the plain meaning of the scriptures. There is nothing figurative or hidden or beyond comprehension in our Lord's coming into mortality. He is the Son of God in the same sense and way that we are the sons of mortal fathers. It is just that simple. Christ was born of Mary. He is the Son of God-the Only begotten of the Father.
And so, in the final analysis, it is the faithful saints, those who have testimonies of the truth and divinity of this great latter-day work, who declare our Lord's generation to the world. Their testimony is that Mary's son is God's son; that he was conceived and begotten in the normal way...This is their testimony as to his generation.This doctrine is not just found in one or two of McConkie's works. No, it is a doctrine that is found throughout the considerable literature he produced.
Again the answer is perfect. There is a power beyond man's. When God is involved, he uses his minister, the Holy Ghost, to overshadow the future mother and to carry her away in the Spirit. She shall conceive by the power of the Holy Ghost, and God himself shall be the sire. It is his Son of whom Gabriel is speaking. A son is begotten by a father: whether on earth or in heaven it is the same.
I will not multiply examples, but instead draw from McConkie's Doctrinal New Testament Commentary for my last citations. One does not normally fill doctrinal commentaries with mere speculations or opinions. Hence, these words should carry much weight:
The express image of his person] What more need be said? God the Eternal Father is the Father; the Son of God is the Son. A father is a father, and a son is a son. The Father begets; the Son is begotten; they are Parent and Child; Sire and Son look alike, so much so that they are the express image of each other's persons. The substance composing the body of one is identical in appearance to that composing the body of the other. What could be plainer? . . . Begotten means begotten; it means Christ's mortal body was procreated by an Eternal Sire; it means God is the Father of Christ, "after the manner of the flesh."The phrase "Eternal Sire" does not lend itself very well to metaphorical interpretation, especially in the way McConkie consistently uses it. One thing is for certain: this General Authority believed this doctrine, taught it, and never once identified it as a "speculation."