By Elizabeth Prata
The Church of the Latter Day Saints, commonly known as the Mormons, produced a Nativity short film called “The Christ Child: A Nativity Story”. It’s 18 minutes long, and it is live action. It has few words, but what words are spoken are in Aramaic. The film is scrupulous in its biblical-historical accuracy, for example, showing Joseph and Mary traveling to Bethlehem in a caravan instead of alone.
Lone travel was dangerous in those days and since all Jews had to return to their town of origin as per census rules, it is more than likely the pair traveled with others who were doing the same thing.
The stable is in their relatives’ home, not a barn somewhere in town. This is likely true since they would have gone to their relatives’ house, the upper room of which would likely have been full of other relatives, so the pair slept in the area where the family keeps their animals at night.
Some shepherds had their families with them since shepherding was sometimes a family profession, so the film shows the men as well as some women and children being visited by the heavenly host.
The Wise Men arrived to Joseph and Mary’s house when the boy child was 2 years old or thereabouts, not on the night of His birth as commonly shown in nativity scenes.
The production values are off the charts good, being visually interesting and quite beautiful to look at. It’s an intensely moving depiction of the Nativity story. It is quite wonderful. There’s only one problem…
The Jesus of Mormonism is not the Jesus of the Bible.
The Church of Latter Day Saints believe and teach that God the Father has a wife, and this is the Heavenly Mother. They teach that all humans are born of a Heavenly Father AND a heavenly Mother, and further, that Jesus was born of such a union. Mormons do not believe that Jesus was born of the Holy Spirit. Their errors continue from there, but we need look no further to see that the baby Jesus presented in the film is not the grown Jesus of the Bible.
Should Protestants watch the film? It is a matter of individual conscience. There is nothing biblically erroneous in the film itself, and it could be used with your family in careful measures to visually teach the historical accuracy of the birth and aftermath. It might be especially interesting for children to view it with parents. Family discussions could flow from there.
With older children or youth students in Sunday School, if some have seen the film, discussions cold begin about how not all who claim the true faith of Jesus Christ are actually in the faith, and how false doctrine comes in slowly and slyly. Jude 1:4 reminds us that people creep in unnoticed with a goal of turning doctrine into licentiousness, and Paul reminds the Galatians that they quickly fell for a different Gospel given by people who distorted it. (Galatians 1:6-7).
To that end, some people or families might not want to watch, since it may present a stumbling block to those new to the faith, or lack enough discernment. The Youtube channel where the film can be seen is of the LDS church, with 243 million views of all its material since its inception in 2005. This is dangerous to the unwary. We would not want to give credibility to the LDS site by sending people to it, only to have someone stay behind to dig around and become ensnared. It’s a fact that 85% of all converts to the LDS church come from biblical Christianity. They are people who have not read their Bible and have no tools to combat the false doctrine presented by the LDS adherents. (Source).
The film could be used as a vehicle for the advent knowing and stating clearly that Mormonism is false, or, it could be a stumbling block and a first snare to an unwary believer. As with any material with sketchy origins, it’s up to you how far you go with it.
I was disappointed in one thing in the movie, however. In my opinion it is a perfect example of how cults and false teachers of doctrine twist the Bible. As the last scene fades and the title card appears, a verse with ellipses is shown: “Jesus of Nazareth … went about doing good. Acts 10:28. This Christmas season, so can you.”
I looked up the verse, and the title card did not show the full verse. The elipses indicate a cut, and they placed a period where none exists. The full Acts 10:38 verse is,
how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. Acts 10:38.
This is exactly one way that cults and false teachers ensnare- distort the verses by presenting a half-verse, or use it out of context. Here, the impression I was left with was that I could be equal to Jesus, who went around doing good, so I can too. I had not known the verse was truncated. The juxtaposition was jarring, given the intensity of the worshipful scene of the Magi immediately displayed a moment prior.
Christianity is not solely about doing good, and the point of His coming into the world was not to do good. It was to seek and save the lost, because all humans are lost in sin and separated from God. At the end of a Nativity story it would be better to present a verse that explains why Jesus came rather than misuse a half verse to urge people to do nice things at Christmas.
I read a testimony of a LDS convert back to Christianity. The women who left the LDS church, had been drawn in because she was a professor of the faith, but didn’t read her Bible. She converted back when she did start reading her Bible. John 17:17 says “Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.”
In that verse, Jesus is praying in the Garden of Gethsemane that through those correct biblical views of God, that God’s revealed truth in His word would be the medium by which they are made holy, and they would be continually consecrated for all His good works. The Truth is what protects us, propels us in our sanctifying walk, and is the armor to combat fortresses mounted up against Him, of which Mormonism sadly is one.
How I Escaped the Mormon Temple
After being in the LDS Church for 30 years, I began reading the New Testament. What was there shocked me
Postscript: I debated whether to post the full movie here or not. But I thought it was better to embed it here rather than have a curious someone go to the LDS Youtube website to watch it, and then click around to see other LDS material posted there.