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Is Jesus an Eternal Being?

by W. John Walsh

Since Jesus is identified as one of the spirit children of our Heavenly Father, then how can he be "the Eternal God"? Since eternal means without beginning and the fact that something was begot or created indicates a time when they did not exist, how does the LDS church call Jesus eternal?" 

First, widely-used dictionaries give far more comprehensive definitions of the word eternal. You are attempting to restrict the normal usage of the word in order to create a classical strawman argument. For an interesting discussion on how anti-Mormons like to change commonly accepted definitions, see The Exclusion by Definition by Dr. Stephen E. Robinson.

Here are a several different interpretations of the word eternal:

"1. without beginning or end; lasting forever; always existing: eternal life 2. perpetual; ceaseless; endless;: eternal character 3. enduring; immutable: eternal principles 4. existing outside of all relations of time; not subject to change 5. something that is eternal (Random House Webster's College Dictionary)

1a. Having infinite duration; 1b of or relating to eternity 1c characterized by abiding fellowship with God. 2a continued without intermission: perpetual; 2b seemingly endless (Webster's Collegiate Dictionary)

First, notice that "without beginning or end" is only one of the many definitions above. In order for Jesus Christ to be eternal, he only has to meet one commonly accepted definition. In LDS theology, the Savior actually qualifies under several. For example, Jesus is "characterized by abiding fellowship with God." The Lord is also "perpetual; ceaseless; [and] endless." By the way, Jesus also is "without beginning or end." Before Jesus was born to the Virgin Mary, he existed in a premortal state as the firstborn spirit son of our Father in Heaven. However, before his spirit was created, he existed as intelligence which "was not created or made, neither indeed can be" (D&C 93:29; see Intelligences)

(See Response to Criticism home page; Accusatory Questions home page)

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