Do Mormons Believe Satan the Brother of Jesus Christ?? This issue is coming up with surprising frequency, at least from my vantage point (including email I receive). It’s a question I address on my LDSFAQ (Mormon Answers) page on Relationships Between God and Man, so I’ll quote the relevant section here:
Do Latter-day Saints believe that Christ and Satan are brothers???
This seems to be one of the most popular cheap shots against the Church.
The Church has issued a short statement on this topic (“Answering Media Questions About Jesus and Satan,” LDS.org Newsroom, Dec. 12, 2007):
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.
I’d like to add some of my thoughts as well. Christ is the creator of this earth and our one and only Savior and the Only Begotten of the Father in the flesh. However, He shares something with us in that we are all spirit sons and daughters of God (Heb. 12:9; Acts 17:28; Numbers 16:22) as is Christ (see also Hebrews 1:5,6; Heb. 2:9-12; Matt. 12:50; Col. 1:15; Psalms 89:27; Romans 8:29; Rev. 3:14). Christ differs from us in several ways, such as the fact that He alone was perfect and sinless throughout his mortal life, having served as Co-creator with God and then as our Savior. Yes, technically, Satan is the brother of Christ, but so are all of us and all the angels, both good and fallen. But anti-Mormons want to make this doctrine sound scary by leaving out the information that would explain our position, and suggesting that somehow we worship a false “Mormon” Christ who is like Satan. That’s seriously misleading – and often deliberately so.
It’s a Biblical doctrine that Satan was in heaven originally but fell from heaven. Here is an excerpt from the article “Satan” in Smith’s Bible Dictionary (a non-LDS source):
Of the nature and original state of Satan, little is revealed in Scripture. He is spoken of as a “spirit” in Ephesians 2:2; as the prince or ruler of the “demons” in Matthew 12:24-26; and as having “angels” subject to him in Matthew 25:41; Revelation 12:7, 9; The whole description of his power implies spiritual nature and spiritual influence. We conclude therefore that he was of angelic nature, a rational and spiritual creature, superhuman in power, wisdom and energy; and not only so, but an archangel, one of the “princes” of heaven. We cannot, of course, conceive that anything essentially and originally evil was created by God. We can only conjecture, therefore, that Satan is a fallen angel, who once had a time of probation, but whose condemnation is now irrevocably fixed. As to the time cause and manner of his fall Scripture tells us scarcely anything; but it describes to us distinctly the moral nature of the evil one.
As for our common heritage with Christ as sons of God, the teachings of the Bible are clear. In Romans 8:14-18, I see Paul saying that our divine heritage from God is what makes it possible for humans to become “joint heirs with Christ.” Though we may be potential “joint heirs,” Christ is always and eternally our Savior. Latter-day Saints also believe that Satan was a spirit being in the premortal existence that we all shared, who, as Revelation 12:7-9 describes, rebelled against God and was cast down to earth, with those angels (spirits) who followed Satan (see also Jude 1:6, 2 Peter 2:4). Lucifer (Satan) was in heaven and was “a son of the morning” (Isaiah 14: 12-15) who sought to usurp God’s glory and throne, rather than follow God’s will (see also Job 1:6, where Satan comes into an assembly among the sons of God – these sons of God, premortal spirit children, existed before the creation of the earth was completed, according to Job 38: 4-7).
Just as we see the potential for great goodness and great evil in humans around us, so has there always been such potential among the spirit children (Heb. 12:9) of God who are blessed with liberty to choose God and Christ or to choose evil. Satan chose the greatest evil possible and still works toward that end. That he was in heaven and was a “son of the morning” among the spirit beings there (“morning stars” in Job 38:7) makes his fall and his guilt and his eternal punishment all the more terrible. But our understanding of who Satan was and is – a fallen angel, by choice a total and complete enemy to God and Christ – does not make us unchristian, in my opinion. Nor does it give us any respect for that abominable being!
Simply saying that “Mormons think Christ and Satan are brothers” is a distortion of LDS doctrine – it is deliberately misleading. We see all of humanity and all of the angels – fallen as well as divine – as creations of God, spirit sons and daughters, given freedom to choose good (through Christ) or evil. Christ is obviously a Son of God, though much more completely than we are. He is also our Savior and even our Eternal Father in several ways. Our common relationship to those who are Good and those who are truly evil in no way impugns the Good or blasphemes God and Christ.
Obviously, Latter-day Saint doctrine is not derived from the popular teachings of mainstream churches, but I see it as being in harmony with the Bible, though others are free to interpret the Bible differently. But I hope you won’t mistake differences in interpretation with a rejection of Christ, to whom I look for salvation.
Update: Early Christian Evidence on the Nature of Satan
FAIR (www.fairlatterdaysaints.org/) has a valuable entry on the charge that Mormons think Christ and Satan are brothers. Here’s a helpful excerpt with some evidence from early Christianity in favor of the LDS view:
The early pre-nicene Church father Lactantius wrote:
Since God was possessed of the greatest foresight for planning, and of the greatest skill for carrying out in action, before He commenced this business of the world,–inasmuch as there was in Him, and always is, the fountain of full and most complete goodness,–in order that goodness might spring as a stream from Him, and might flow forth afar, He produced a Spirit like to Himself, who might be endowed with the perfections of God the Father… Then He made another being, in whom the disposition of the divine origin did not remain. Therefore he was infected with his own envy as with poison, and passed from good to evil; and at his own will, which had been given to him by God unfettered, he acquired for himself a contrary name. From which it appears that the source of all evils is envy. For he envied his predecessor, who through his steadfastness is acceptable and dear to God the Father. This being, who from good became evil by his own act, is called by the Greeks diabolus: we call him accuser, because he reports to God the faults to which he himself entices us. God, therefore, when He began the fabric of the world, set over the whole work that first and greatest Son, and used Him at the same time as a counselor and artificer, in planning, arranging, and accomplishing, since He is complete both in knowledge, and judgment, and power… [Lactantius, Divine Institutes 2.9. in Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, eds. The Ante-Nicene Fathers, 10 vols. (1885; reprint, Peabody: Hendrickson, 2004), 7:52-53]
Many things he here taught are not considered “orthodox” by today’s standards. However, Lactantius was definitely orthodox during his lifetime. Amazingly, many things here correspond to LDS doctrine precisely in those areas that are “unorthodox.” For example,
- “He produced a Spirit like to Himself,” namely Christ. Christ, in this sense, is not the “co-equal,” “eternally begotten,” “same substance” “persona” of the later creeds.
- “Then he made another being, in whom the disposition of the divine origin did not remain.” God made another spirit who rebelled and who fell from his exalted status. He is the diabolus.
- Christ is the “first and greatest Son.” Not the “only” son.
- Lastly, since the diabolus and Christ are both spirit sons of God, they are spirit brothers.
The writings of Lactantius are available online. The quote above can be read at http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf07.iii.ii.ii.ix.html.
Please note that I use the term “anti-Mormon” above to describe those who are not interested in mere debate or understanding, but who intentionally use deceptive tactics to frighten people who know little about the Church. It’s fine to disagree with our views and to question whether there was a premortal existence, or whether we and all angels, fallen or otherwise, can be called “spirit children” of God, etc., but to take our doctrine and spin it into an emotionally-charged cheap shot like, “Mormons worship a false Jesus who is Satan’s brother!!” – well, that’s far from intelligent discourse or sharing of differing views. It’s a hostile attack meant to frighten people, to prey on their ignorance, and stir up prejudice. Anti-Mormon is the appropriate term in this case, no matter how much the perpetrators claim they “love the Mormon people” and are just trying to help do God’s work in their own dishonest way (“When it comes to fighting the cult of Mormonism, the ends justify the means,” as one anti-Mormon book seller told a friend of mine at a Christian book seller’s conference about 20 years ago, justifying his deliberate distortion of what Mormons believe). Now some may repeat this charge out of ignorance, so there’s nothing wrong with merely asking the question if you want clarification, but others use it knowingly as a tool to achieve their own ungodly ends. And one day, I think, they’ll give an accounting of their works to our true Lord and God, Jesus Christ, who may have have a few familiar words for them. But that’s just my opinion.