Lucifer is a Latin name meaning “light bringer.” It is the name of the devil or Satan in Mormonism, especially applied to him before his rebellion against God. Of course, it is also the name of Satan in orthodox Christianity (Isaiah 14:12). However, this initial similarity conceals some important doctrinal differences between the two faiths.
Lucifer is actually the Latin form of the Hebrew word Hayelel in the Isaiah passage (Strong’s Concordance #1966). Technically, the name Satan is not the devil’s name, but only a title that describes his function (ha satan in Hebrew). It means “the adversary” or “he who opposes” (Smith’s Bible Dictionary, p. 75). This distinction is held in both Mormonism and Christianity (Mormon Doctrine, p. 677). Both faiths believe Lucifer to be some sort of fallen angel, the tempter, and an opponent of both man and God.
The LDS Position
The differences between Christianity and Mormonism are quite significant. Mormons believe Lucifer to be a “son of God” In the same way that Jesus is a “son of God”—indeed, in the same way that we are all sons or daughters of Heavenly Father (see also Law of Eternal Progression).
This means that the Mormon Lucifer, like all of us, was born to the LDS god and one of his goddess wives on the planet near the great star, Kolob. Thus, there is no essential difference between Jesus and Lucifer. There is only an accidental difference: Lucifer went wrong.
McConkie explains Satan’s initial sin in this way:
When the plan of salvation was presented [to the Council of the Gods] and when the need for a Redeemer was explained, Satan offered to come into the world as the Son of God and be the Redeemer. “Behold, here am 1, send me,” he said. “I will be thy son.” But then, as always, he was in opposition to the full plan of the Father, and so he sought to amend and change the terms of salvation; he sought to deny men their agency [free will] and to dethrone God. “I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor,” he continued (Moses 4:1–4; Mormon Doctrine, p. 193).
When Lucifer’s plan was voted down by the council, he rebelled and managed to convince a third of the preexistent spirit children of Heavenly Father to rebel. Lucifer and his spirit partisans were cast out of the presence of the gods and forever denied physical bodies. Thus Satan was and always will be “only” a spirit being.
In Mormonism this contrasts to Heavenly Father, who has a glorified physical body of parts and passions. The LDS church believes it is an error of the apostate church to teach that God is a purely spiritual being. Thus, it can truthfully be said (as Brigham Young observed) that there seems to be a great deal of resemblance between the Christian God and the LDS version of Satan:
Their [Christian] belief reminds me that brother Joseph P. Nobles once told a Methodist priest [sic] after hearing him describe his god, that the god they worshipped was the “Mormons” Devil—a being without a body, whereas our God has a body, parts, and passions. The Devil was cursed and sent down from heaven. He has no body of his own Journal of Discourses 5:331, October 7, 1857).
Additionally, Lucifer is presented, strangely, in the secret temple endowment ceremony as a teacher and conveyer of important wisdom. The LDS theology of the fall of man denies that Adam sinned (see Fall of Adam). Thus, Lucifer’s part in the eating of the fruit of the tree is oddly positive, especially as portrayed in the temple rite. At first, he teaches correct LDS doctrine to Adam and Eve, and then after the fall he sarcastically teaches Christian orthodoxy through his preacher lackey—at least until the temple rites were changed (see Temples, Changes to the Ritual).
Thus there is a strange ambivalence in Mormonism about Satan. On one hand he is the rebel and the tempter, but on the other hand he is the one who helped Eve understand the gospel plan. He also instructs the temple patrons in the wearing of the apron which is the symbol of his “power and priesthoods” (Chuck Sackett, What’s Going On in There? pp. 28–29)—aprons which temple Mormons wear in the temple for the rest of their lives. They are even buried in that apron!
Satan is presented to faithful Latter-day Saints in the Book of Mormon as a wily deceiver who “cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell. And behold, others he flattereth away and telleth them there is no hell—even a lake of fire and brimstone, which is endless torment” (2 Nephi 28:21–23)
Yet he is also the only person in the Bible who taught (through the serpent) the LDS law of eternal progression, that “ye shall be as gods” (Genesis 3:5). It is even more strange because LDS doctrine teaches the very same thing Lucifer is credited with teaching in 2 Nephi 28:23—that there is no eternal hell (Doctrine, pp. 349–50).
Is it any wonder that many Mormons do not know precisely what to make of Lucifer?
The Biblical View
First, it is clear from all the related sections herein that the LDS concepts of God, Christ, the Holy Ghost, salvation, the fall, and other key doctrinal issues are 180 degrees away from biblical truth. It should not be surprising that they have Lucifer caught up in the same whirlwind of confusion.
The Bible is clear about Lucifer. In the Garden of Eden he is the arch deceiver, the liar who whispered that man can be as God. We still live in the consequence of that deception. It is the same lie that the Mormons have believed and it still brings the curse of death with it.
Lucifer was once a beautiful angel. But he believed his own lie and it brought him the same swift justice it later brought Adam and Eve:
How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit (Isaiah 14:12–15).
To say that Lucifer was a literal son of God in the same manner as is Jesus is once more only the prattling of arrogant liars who instruct their followers in their own ignorance of Scripture.
God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in t
hese last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day
have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son? (Hebrews 1:1–5).
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