The New Testament writings and other LDS Scriptural texts present a variety of Christologies (i.e., understandings about who Jesus was and the purpose of his life, teachings, and mission). For instance, the Gospel of John presents Jesus as the pre-existent divine Word (logos) that was with the Father in the beginning and who created the world only to become flesh in it in order to redeem those who should believe on his name. The Gospel of Matthew, however, presents Jesus as the inspired Law-Interpreter whose teachings reveal the true understanding of the Law of Moses and whose life and actions fulfill the Hebrew Scriptures. In Matthew, Jesus is born of virgin; he is half-human, half-god. Likewise, Luke has an infancy narrative that attributes divine sonship to Jesus, but Luke’s Gospel portrays Jesus as the greatest of the prophets ultimately destined for rejection. Interestingly, Luke does not seem to understand Jesus’ death as a substitutionary sacrifice for sins. Mark’s Gospel, on the other hand, like John’s, lacks an infancy narrative; yet, in contrast to the Gospel of John, there is no mystical reflection in this text regarding Jesus’ pre-existent divine state. Moreover, unlike Luke’s account, Mark does appear to understand Jesus’ death as substitutionary (Mark 10:45). Suffice it to say, there are many other differences between the Gospels, and the other New Testament writings likewise portray Jesus’ life, teachings, and mission (if indeed they even directly touch on these issues) in different ways. The Epistle to the Hebrews says that Jesus was made perfect through his sufferings (Heb 2:10) and became in every respect like humanity (Heb 2:17), and therefore he is able to sympathize with humanity precisely because he suffered temptation/testing in the same manner, although he never capitulated to sin (Heb 4:15) (Hebrews does not refer to a birth narrative, although it does appear to understand Jesus as pre-existent in some sense; see Heb 1:1–6). (These statements, in turn, ask us to consider what exactly “sin” and “testing/temptation” is/are.) Finally, D&C 93:1–17 states that Jesus divested himself of the pre-existent divine glory which he shared with the Father and dwelt on earth as fully human (confer also, e.g., Jn 1:1–18; Jn 17:1–21; Phil 2:6–11). He received not a fullness at first in mortality but continued moving from “grace to grace” until he received a fullness.
It is clear according to (some of) the Gospels that Jesus experienced the range of human emotions and feelings, including love, anger, thirst, hunger, etc. Moreover, some of the Christological views in the New Testament and in modern LDS Scripture suggest that Jesus was not “perfect” (again, another word in need of careful thought) at first but progressed throughout his mortality. However, the Epistle to the Hebrews suggests that this notion should be qualified at least with respect to the fact that Jesus did not sin.
How do we navigate theologically through these various Scriptural Christologies? In what ways is Jesus like us? In what ways is he not? How do you answer basic historical and theological questions like: to what extent was Jesus limited in understanding, knowledge, power, etc., like the rest of us humans? Do you think that he made mistakes and errors? Matt 24:36 and Mark 13:32 famously suggest that Jesus did not know the time of the coming of the Son of Man. In some sense then, according to these authors, Jesus was at least limited in knowledge at some point in his mortal life. Similarly, Mark 13:30, part of Jesus’ famous apocalyptic discourse, apparently suggests that Jesus believed, like Paul (see 1 Thess), that the end of the age of the reign of the cosmic forces of evil would come in the lifetime of (at least some of) his disciples. (I could offer a number of other examples to underscore my point, but I think you get the idea.) How can Jesus’ theoretical “limitations” be viewed and expressed positively and meaningfully within Mormon Christological thought and discourse? How might Jesus’ potential limitations fit into a systematic Mormon Christological presentation, especially with respect to his redemptive work? In short, what is your Mormon Christology?
Christological debates have raged throughout Christian history. Mormonism, I believe, has some unique contributions to make to this field of theological inquiry. What say ye?