I really enjoyed reading "Wresting the Scriptures" on the blog, A Bird's Eye View. In it the author makes the point that traditional Christians do not believe that Jesus Christ is the literal Son of God. Because of their false belief that God is incorporeal and does not have a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man's, when a traditional Christian says that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, he means this in a figurative or literary sense rather than in the literal sense taught by true Christians in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. From the perspective of the Restoration, believing the Savior to be God's Son only in some figurative or literary sense is a denial of his divinity. In a sense, this belief makes traditional Christians anti-Christ because they deny the divine Sonship of Jesus of Nazareth.
And although it is not politically correct to point it out, traditional Christianity is a form of atheism for much the same reason. If they do not believe that Jesus is the Son of God literally, they also do not believe that God exists literally. Rather he is an incorporeal God.
This point was driven home to me by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost when I was first investigating the Mormon faith during my junior year of high school in 1962. I was profoundly enlightened while reading The Articles of Faith, by James E. Talmage, when I came across this teaching of Orson Pratt in the footnotes to the chapter on the nature of the God-head. To this day, it is one of the most important paragraphs of written English I have ever read:
9. Immaterialists and Atheists—"There are two classes of atheists in the world. One class denies the existence of God in the most positive language; the other denies his existence in duration or space. One says 'There is no God;' the other says 'God is not here or there, any more than he exists now and then.' The infidel says 'God does not exist anywhere.' The immaterialist says 'He exists nowhere.' The infidel says 'There is no such substance as God.' The immaterialist says 'There is such a substance as God, but it is without parts.' The athiest says, 'There is no such substance as spirit.' The immaterialist says 'A spirit, though he lives and acts, occupies no room, and fills no space in the same way and in the same manner as matter, not even so much as does the minutest grain of sand.' The atheist does not seek to hide his infidelity; but the immaterialist, whose declared belief amounts to the same things as the atheist's, endeavors to hide his infidelity under the shallow covering of a few words. * * * The immaterialist is a religious atheist; he only differs from the other class of atheists by clothing an indivisible unextending nothing with the powers of a God. One class believes in no God; the other believes that Nothing is god and worships it as such."—Orson Pratt, in pamphlet Absurdities of Immaterialism, p. 11.
Of course, there is little difference between believing there is no God, and believing in a God that is nothing. Do traditional Christians really believe that Jesus is the Son of God? Well… not really. They believe it only in a figurative or poetic sense. Do they really believe that there is a God? Well… not really. They believe in an incorporeal God, or in other words, a God that does not really exist in any meaningful sense of that word. They believe that Jesus is the Son of God only in literary or poetic sense. And they believe in the existence of God only in a mystical, incomprehensible sense.
No wonder miracles have ceased among them. No wonder they no longer receive revelation from heaven as they did anciently. Faith must be terribly difficult to achieve when the object of your faith only exists in some mystical, figurative or poetic sense. And of course, where there is no faith or very little faith, there can be no miracles.
When Satan first persuaded men to believe that God was some incorporeal essence that fills the immensity of space, that He is everywhere but nowhere in particular present, he accomplished a truly great work of evil. He destroyed the very foundation upon which all faith in God must be based, an understanding of and belief in his actual existence in the real universe. In accomlishing this great deception, the devil laid the foundation for the great rise to supremacy of secularism in the modern world, a secularism that threatens to sweep most of mankind away at the Second Coming, an event very similar to what occurred anciently in the Great Flood.
Secularism is caused by the almost universal loss of faith that God is an actual man that exists in the real universe. And that loss of faith is the result of this false doctrine that God does not have a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man's. It is a false doctrine taught by and believed by virtually all of mankind with the sole exception of believing Latter-day Saints.
How thankful I am to my Heavenly Father that he brought me out of darkness into light when he shared this wonderful "mystery" with me so many years ago. If it were not for Joseph Smith, and the wonderful truths that he revealed to the world, I would not know anything about Jesus Christ. At least I would not know anything about him that is correct. I would not even understand that he really is God's literal, actual Son, his Only Begotten. But for Joseph Smith, I would be an atheist or an agnostic.