Most Christians believe that God, not Joseph, is the biological father of Jesus. I was surprised to learn that Strangites break with most Christians on this important point. Historian Bill Shepard will tell us more about Strangite beliefs about Jesus.
GT: I remember reading in your book that Strangites believe that God has a body of flesh and bone.
Bill: That’s right.
GT: So that would be very similar with the Utah church, in that regard.
Bill: Yeah, it’d be similar, particularly with The Lectures on Faith, the first and sixth Lectures on Faith.
GT: It’s interesting that you say that because I remember when I read Lectures on Faith, it seemed very Trinitarian to me.
Bill 60:14 I think it was, but it was saying that God cannot change. Where the difference would be, the Brighamites, with the eternal progression–I’m not shooting at Brighamites. I’m just saying that that the idea comes in that God can change. There can be evolution in God, where the Strangites, of course, would be so strongly different is that God cannot change.
GT: Okay. So let’s move on to Jesus, because what you said, I think it is a very different belief with regards to Jesus. Jesus was the son of Joseph and Mary, like the literal son, not [the son of] Mary and God.
Bill: Yeah. That’s right.
GT: I think that’s really surprising to people.
Bill: The idea of the immaculate conception, Isaiah 7:14, “A virgin shall conceive and bear a child and it shall be [called Immanuel].” So this idea is rejected. That prophecy is fulfilled. It was given to Ahaz and it was fulfilled at that time, and it was plucked out by the evolving Christian Church to make Christ more palatable to people who believed in virgin birth. So Strang is going to teach that Jesus…I think there’s a lot we don’t understand or maybe I don’t understand, but that Jesus is born in the natural way. Whether it was through administered by angels or something, but he is going to realize that, as he is evolving, that he is special. The Book of the Law is going to say that, during this period, that Jesus was wholly harmless, and without sin. He never stepped aside once from the path of rectitude to do a single evil deed. Jesus would never do anything to imperil his brethren and so forth like this. We believe that Jesus is caught up by the angel, taken into the wilderness, the 40 days, the 40 nights. We believe that he is ordained by an angel. We don’t know when, but that when he comes out of the wilderness, he is armed. He is a first-degree law-giver prophet, or the prophet. He is not God. He is armed with the priesthood and through the power of the priesthood, and his immaculate good works. Again, the phrase the Strangites like to use is wholly harmless, and without sin. He is never stepping aside from the path of rectitude to do a single evil deed. Christ maintained this sinless mortal life. Because he was able to maintain this with total allegiance to God, the relationship that he never seemingly took [upon himself], he gave the credit to God. So anyway, at the Mount of Transfiguration, the Strangites believe and it talks when Peter, James and John go to a high mountain apart, they believe that God appeared, himself, and ordained him.
GT: Ordained Jesus?
Bill: [The angels] ordained Jesus to be the Son of God. He is elevated by the power of the priesthood. We say Jesus did not have his full power at that time. Strangites would say that it is only after he is resurrected, the only person Christ would resurrect. With the resurrection, Jesus is going to say to various people that he is now perfected, because he has the keys of death and hell. So he came by this on his total faith that he would be resurrected. They believe that the person that appeared to Peter and the other people and the ladies and so forth, that this was, indeed the Son of God.