Friday, December 28, 2007

Mormonism 101

With Mitt Romney's presidential candidacy, there has been quite an uproar within evangelical Christianity over whether to endorse him due to his Mormonism. As I have stated repeatedly, I have no problem with Mitt Romney running for office. What I object to is the effort of some within evangelical Christianity to get Mormonism recognized as just another Christian denomination. It is not. And for pastors to claim ignorance on the subject is appalling. They need to do their homework.

Here are some quick facts on Mormonism.

1. Mormons believe the Bible is the word of God "insofar as it is correctly translated." What determines if it is correctly translated? Mormon doctrine, not Bible scholarship in Hebrew and Greek. Hundreds of Hebrew and Greek scholars, as well as those with expertise in manuscript evidence, would testify at variance with Mormon claims.

2. Mormons believe the Earth is one of several inhabited planets ruled over by gods and goddesses, who were at one time humans on other planets. Mormons are polytheistic, not monotheistic.

3. Mormons misunderstand the Trinity, believing it consists of three gods born in different times and places. The Father begot the Son and Holy Ghost through a goddess wife in heaven.

4. Humankind is the same species as God. God begot all humans in heaven as offspring of his wife or wives, who were sent to earth for their potential exaltation to godhood.

5. Salvation is resurrection, but exaltation to godhood, for eternal life in the celestial heaven, must be earned through self-meriting works.

This is NOT biblical, orthodox Christianity by any stretch of the imagination. These are doctrines of demons, and believing them will result in an eternity separated from God -- in Hell.

While I have read several apologetic works on this subject, Dr. Walter Martin's "The Kingdom of the Cults," recently revised and updated by Dr. Ravi Zacharias, is stellar. Here is a link to another recommended reading list:

20 comments:

Starting To Learn said...

It will be helpful for anyone reading this list to go to lds.org or mormon.org to determine whether Mormons are really taught, and thus believe these things.

The website lds.org contains all of the doctrine of the LDS Church. It has all of the scriptures, all of the Church curriculum, magazines and major addresses of the last 30 years.

SolaMeanie said...

Sorry, I don't care what spin the LDS puts on things now, especially on a website. Given LDS history and their efforts to cover up or obfuscate their history, you would be better off looking at their actual "sacred texts" rather than what their PR people say now.

The truth of what Mormons believe is in the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, the Pearl of Great Price etc. Look at older editions also, then compare with newer ones to see what's been altered. What I have listed here is accurate.

Like the Jehovah's Witnesses, the Mormons are good at either altering their writings over time or obfuscating the truth about their real beliefs.

While I am at it, I find it very interesting how many rank and file Mormons seem ignorant of their own history. The LDS excommunicated Dr. D. Michael Quinn in 1993 because he refused to keep quiet about what his research had discovered.

Starting To Learn said...

There is a difference between what Mormons are taught and what they believe vs. what may or may not be in their history as there is in all religions.

Certainly you would not suggest that the current theology of Evangelical Christians is identical with that of the last 2000+ years. Even a brief study of the history of Christianity demonstrates that it also has evolved. For that matter, the Bible itself evolved into it's present state.

The point is that the 30 years of LDS teachings found at lds.org is very consistent. That is what Mormons believe. Arguing that because something might have been taught in the past it is binding now, would seem to make an argument that all Evangelical Christians are actually Catholic and believe in the infallibility of the Pope.

No, what you've listed is not "all accurate".

Yes, read the Book of Mormon and other LDS scripture to determine the truths contained in them.

SolaMeanie said...

I am well aware of church history, including the development of the biblical canon and the Reformation. The Reformation was intended to bring the church back to the Bible. Each step since then, including the development of evangelicalism and fundamentalism, has been an effort to more closely follow Scripture, not get farther away from it.

You will have to give me specific examples of what I have said here in each of these points that is inaccurate. The burden of proof is on you. Keep in mind, my time is limited and I will have to respond as I have opportunity.

Louis P said...

SolaMeanie,

I'll respond to a couple of your points for now, and maybe get to the rest a bit later: (which, by the way are good points which deserve clarification)

Your point 5: "Salvation is resurrection, but exaltation to godhood, for eternal life in the celestial heaven, must be earned through self-meriting works."
- Mormon theology believes that “it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.” 2 Nephi 25:23 (Note that you are correct about the resurrection. Salvation is an inclusive word that can mean salvation from death [by the resurrection] or it can mean exaltation as you described it. Or it can mean salvation from worldly bondage, as with the children of Israel in Egypt. Here, it refers to exaltation.)
- The debate of the role of works and faith is well known to Christians, owing in large part to the presence of Biblical scriptures that on their face are at odds. For example, James says: “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” (Jam. 2:26) Paul then says “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God” (Eph. 2:8). James seems to value works, while Paul seems to value grace.
- Mormons theology reconciles these scriptures about grace and works. In order to be eligible for Christ’s grace, which is the only way to be saved in the Kingdom of Heaven, one must do all that he can to keep the commandments and serve and love others in this world by works. Though the works themselves aren’t able to save one, they qualify one for mercy through Christ’s grace, and then they are saved by grace. Hence we need both works and grace to be saved: we are completely powerless to save ourselves, but still obligated to live Christian lives to the best of our ability to merit Christ' grace.

Your point 3: "Mormons misunderstand the Trinity, believing it consists of three gods born in different times and places. The Father begot the Son and Holy Ghost through a goddess wife in heaven."
- I wouldn’t say they don’t understand the Trinity (though technically no one understands it, which is part of the doctrine of the Trinity). Mormons simply have a different belief than the Nicean understanding of Deity. The Mormon belief is stated in their first article of faith: “We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.”
- This is supported by many things, three of which I'll explain here. First, man was created in the image of God, as it says in Genesis. We believe that it literally true. We are all children of God, and like any child, made in the image of our Father, who himself is a person of flesh and bone.
- Also, it has a Biblical base, in that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost were all present in separate forms during Jesus’s baptism (See Matt. 3:13-17), suggesting their distinctness. Also, during the great intercessory prayer, Jesus prayed to the Father, which presumably wasn’t a prayer to himself (See John 17).
- Lastly, in large part to clarify this and many other doctrinal confusions stemming from the thousands of Christian denominations extant that each believe something different about God and salvation, God has given us prophets in these days to clarify doctrines and guide us according to his will. Because Joseph Smith saw God the Father and Jesus Christ as two separate persons in 1820, it also makes sense that the Father and Son are separate beings. Living prophets have always been an essential element of God’s dealings with man (see Amos 3:7), and if anything, we are more in need of a prophet today than ever before we have been.

That’s a response to two of your five points. I haven’t the time to get to them all, but may try to respond a bit later to the others. Thanks.

SolaMeanie said...

Hi, Louis..

Thanks for commenting. Time is short, so I'll try to respond briefly.

‘It is by grace we are saved, after all we can do.”

This flies in the face of what the Bible says about adding works to grace. “But if it is by grace, it is NO LONGER on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace (Romans 11:6).

Biblical salvation is having your sins forgiven by a holy, just God, whose wrath has been satisfied by the willing sacrifice of Jesus, His Son. You are declared righteous through saving faith in what He has done on the cross in your behalf.

The supposed discrepancy between James and Paul is one of the most misunderstood areas of Scripture, and it shouldn’t be, because the answers are right there in the text. James is merely saying that someone can yak all day about having faith, but if there is no tangible evidence of that faith by the fruit of your life, then your faith is suspect. When James talks about being justified by works, it is in that context of being justified before men, not being justified before God. There is no contradiction.

In order to be eligible for Christ’s grace, which is the only way to be saved in the Kingdom of Heaven, one must do all that he can to keep the commandments and serve and love others in this world by works. Though the works themselves aren’t able to save one, they qualify one for mercy through Christ’s grace, and then they are saved by grace.

This is doublespeak, and in light of the previous passages I quoted, it ought to be obvious. One cannot be “eligible” for Christ’s grace. There is NONE righteous. No, not one (Romans 3:10). In essence, this is the old Roman Catholic line about “meriting the merits of Christ,” which is impossible for us to do. That totally negates the willing sacrifice of Christ on the cross, and is an insult to the Gospel. If we dare to stand before God and say that our own good works played a role in our salvation, His only response will be “Depart from Me.” What the Mormon position is saying is that Jesus’ shed blood wasn’t sufficient for payment of our sins.

In terms of our “obligation” to live Christian lives, yes indeed. We are. However, our obedience is out of love for Christ, not an effort to win His approval. “If you love Me, keep my commandments.” Again, we cannot “merit” Christ’s grace.

As to the Trinity, the Mormon explanation you describe is not the doctrine as understood by the orthodox church. The creeds you mention (i.e. the Nicene) were set forth to articulate settled doctrine as the churches arrived at consensus as to what was apostolic teaching. In other words, confirming the doctrine set forth by Scripture.

The Trinity is hard for some to understand because God is a non-analogous being. There is none other like Him. We believe in one God, manifest in three Persons. The three Persons in the Godhead are one in essence, but distinct in personality and role. It is difficult timewise for me to enter an exhaustive discussion on this subject on the blog because of time. However, there are excellent works out there to help you gain a biblical understanding of this subject, such as Dr. Robert Morey’s book, “The Trinity.”

The supposed divisions between the denominations on God and salvation really aren’t as bad as you’re making them out to be. When you look at the core of the faith as set forth in the Apostles’ Creed, Nicene, Athanasian, etc..the churches are largely agreed on essentials. There is a significant difference between Protestant churches and the Roman Catholic church on justification and salvation, plus some other matters, but at least within Protestantism, these matters are largely agreed.

I’ll close with this for the time being, and then I will have to prepare a new post for the blog. As for Joseph Smith’s “prophet” status, Smith fails the biblical test for a prophet of God hands down. For one thing, any new “revelation” must jive with what has already been revealed. Smith’s supposed revelations are a complete departure from previous revelation in Scripture.

SolaMeanie said...

My friend and fellow apologist, Joe Whitchurch, sent me the following email with permission to use here. His response came after reading our exchanges here, and on the other thread involving Joel Osteen, where LDS commenter Brenda raised issues with me. Joe's blog is called "Puddleglum's Foot," and can be accessed via my links sidebar.

I read them all just now and i think you are doing just fine. Brenda thinks she and her religious affiliations (LDS/Mormons) all needs to be and should be thought of as nice. Your mention of doctrinal issues and the NT authority and her dodges with Enoch and such are more at the point of LDS (issues, not individual nice-ness scales of civility).

One might ask if it Is very nice to those who died in the 1200s, 1300s, - late 1800s, to say that the church went out of existence until Joseph Smith unearthed it? And on WHAT authority of niceness and God's goodness and concern for His glory and revelation does one make such statements? What of all those who can't therefore make it to the highest heavenly reward?

Is it really nice to say that non LDS will be the servants of LDS through eternity? Eternal gophers of the elitist nice ones, eternally. Interesting? Nice? It sure seems condescending and not frankly nice at all.

For the rhetorical record, I just have a burning in my bosom that Smith is wrong on his teaching on the Trinity. There is only one Creator God eternally existing from eternity past to eternity future in three persons only (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). And he is wrong that Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Peter, Paul, and obviously Jesus, are Far more authoritative and trustworthy as a source than Joseph Smith and his followers and their discoveries and missing golden plates and such. I don't know if Mark was nicer than John or not. His gospel is more authoritative than the Pearl of Great Price or the Doctrine of Covs.

These matters are obvious to all except those whose persecution complex craves only one thing, to be thought of as a nice person affiliated with nice people. Sincerity and nice-ness neither one are sure bets of believing what is true and right. Friendships and who helped me out in a hard time are not either. Neither is family. The Bible, has been preserved, and God has had a true people in every generation. Nice or not, Smith's followers (and nice is so lame as a category really if you think about such matters of racism, bigotry, convenience polygamy, and no polygamy and celestial polygamy...sexism, etc) are seriously wrong about a many foundational matters like those I've mentioned earlier and just mentioned and you've mentioned in your posts. That said, I'll bet I would find that Brenda the LDS apologist, a nice person (except for her using her 'niceness' to get people to believe wrong things like her religious affiliation believes). No offense intended, but so what if she is nice? My chiropractor is also LDS and nice, as is my daughter's former dance instructor. So what?

I know many pleasant people who believe all kinds of nonsense from horoscopes to UFO oddities to conspiracy theories, to diet scrupples held to with religious fervor, to how to invest or where not to invest, or what to drive, or how to go nuts over sports teams and dissing ones opponents and competitions etc. Benign people are... well, better than dwelling with Sharia law, jihadist extremists. But so what? What do they believe about God the Triune God of the Bible, the church the people of God through the ages and now the church since Pentecost, the Unique authority of the Bible, the nature of faith and grace, Creation, the virgin birth of Jesus, and even admittedly to a lesser extent the historic creeds of earliest church history. These are important questions for clarity and frankly the LDS approach seems less than helpful and more than a little bit spun and nuanced for the sake of appearing nice.

Frankly they change the contexts to make their definitions of the terms seem to fit and seem reasonable but when spoken out of the contexts and paragraphs and days and times of Joseph Smith and Brig. Young and other elders of the past which spoke them, they do frankly sound ridiculous and fanciful. And sadly they sound that way because they are such. I know it doesn't sound nice to say so, but to let 'nice' people delude themselves and others that it is all the same when it isn't, just isn't respectful of their intelligence, maturity, free thinking, and well it wouldn't be nice.

Hopefully nicely yours,
Joe Whitchurch

Louis P said...

Hi,

Thanks for the reply. It seems there are two different issues you are addressing: one of being whether Mormons are Christians, and one being whether Mormons are right. It seems you have framed the discussion as one in which if someone is not “right,” they are not Christian. But that is flawed reasoning. Most would probably agree that there are three categories of Christians: (1) non-Christians, (2) Christians who hold correct beliefs, and (3) Christians who hold incorrect beliefs. Catholics, for example, different significantly from Protestants in that they believe in Mary as an intermediatrix between God and man, and they don’t believe in the sufficiency of the Bible to save. Protestants don’t believe in the authority of the Pope and the necessity of the Catholic rites. But most Catholics and Protestants don’t withhold the title “Christian” from the other no matter how flawed they think the particular doctrines are, or by citing not-flattering parts of their respective histories; they simply file the other into the “Christians who hold incorrect beliefs” category.

If you wish to discuss the correctness of the Mormon faith, that is a lengthy discussion which must begin with a discussion of the axioms on which the faith is built and could fill volumes, and has filled volumes, if not libraries. But if the issue is whether Mormons are Christians, it is simply a definitional issue, where the word “Christian” must be defined and the Mormon faith must be weighed to see if it fits within the accepted definition of the word, a much simpler exercise.

Try this: Encarta defines “Christian” as a “believer in Jesus Christ as savior” or “based on or relating to a belief in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and the Messiah, and acceptance of his teachings, contained in the Gospels.”

The Mormon articles of faith, which are a simple outline of the fundamental beliefs of Mormonism, state:

#1 “We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.”

#3 “We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.”

So Mormons do believe in Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Messiah, and are Christians according to the dictionary definition of the word (which captures what the word means to the general public who use it). Consequently, independent of the actual correctness of the faith, it is a Christian faith.

SolaMeanie said...

No, it is not flawed reasoning. The Bible defines what is a Christian and what is not a Christian. Mormonism fails the biblical test. There is more than just mental assent involved, and there is more to the issue of the object of belief. Jesus Himself said, "This is eternal life, to know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. As night follows day, if you don't know the God of the Bible and the Jesus of the Bible, you don't have eternal life either. The God of Mormonism is not the God of the Bible, and the Jesus of Mormonism is not the Jesus of the Bible. What you believe determines your eternal destiny. Mormons have an entirely different view of salvation than the biblical view of salvation. I am not interested in what Encarta defines as Christian. I am interested in what the Bible defines as Christian.

As to Roman Catholicism, yes, the differences with Protestantism are important because it impacts directly on salvific issues. What is the Gospel, and what is biblical justification. The Roman system, as does the Mormon system, tries to mix human works with grace in salvation. The Lord will have none of that. Liberal Protestantism these days tries to gloss that over, but this is a departure from Scripture.

I must say this, however, for the Catholics. In terms of many core doctrines, they are far closer in agreement with Protestantism than they are with Mormonism. Mormonism is not Christianity, but pseudo-Christianity. The church universal reserves the right to define itself. Joseph Smith is a Johnny come lately who fails the credibility test as a prophet of God.

Despite our disagreement, please know that I wish you no ill will. I hope and pray that you will be drawn to saving faith in Christ as you discover the real Jesus of the Bible.

Randy said...

Sola,

It seems to me, that many people will attach themselves to a belief, THEN look for ways to defend it. People's feelings get in the way of actual truth. When I was drawn to Christ by the Holy Spirit, I knew I had to repent. That's not always easy. But, truth isn't always warm feelings. I'd much rather stand before God someday with "truth" than with
a "feeling" or that I was deemed as "nice."

Some people throw all objectivity out the window to protect a belief. Wouldn't it be better to put a certain belief to the litmus test and see where it ends up, THEN make a decision on what will really stand up before the Lord?
I know, rhetorical, but you know what I'm saying.

Be well,

Randy

Louis P said...

Hi SolaMeanie:

Thanks for the reply, though it doesn’t seem very responsive to the point I made. You said: “The Bible defines what is a Christian and what is not a Christian,” and then you quoted a scripture that touches on eternal life (and which also, as a side note, on its face suggests God and Jesus are distinct persons). If there’s an explicit definition of what it is to be a Christian in the Bible, I’d like to know it. The word Christian doesn’t appear in any of the Gospels and is not mentioned by Christ. The first I know of the word appearing is in Acts 11:26: “And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.” And note this still isn’t a definition.

You then suggest that Catholics and any who believes that works are necessary in addition to belief in Christ is not a Christian, excluding both Catholics and some protestant sects from being Christian.

But most troubling is that you heavy-handidly dismiss what the word “Christian” means to English-speakers who use it (the dictionary definition). A dictionary definition seeks to capture what a word means to the majority of its users. In essence, when you assert that Mormons (or Catholics) are not Christians, you are saying that they do not believe Jesus Christ is the Messiah. But this is incorrect, as I’ve described (Article of Faith #3: “We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.”).

I appreciate the expression of no ill will, and I reciprocate, in spite of the fact that I believe you have an incorrect understanding of Christ. I believe there is a prophet on the earth that you do not acknowledge and a book of scripture called the Book of Mormon written by a people who came to the Americas hundreds of years before Christ was born in Jerusalem and who believed in Jesus Christ and who recorded their history and revelations. In short, I believe that I have a correct understanding of the Jesus of the Bible, while you do not.

But in spite of the fact that I believe your beliefs are incorrect, I do not deny that you are a Christian, because you believe that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is your Savior and the Messiah of the world. If I did, I would mislead an average listener to think you didn’t even seek Christ or acknowledge him as the Messiah, like those of the Jewish, Hindu, or Islamic faiths. I would instead say that you are Christian but challenge the scriptural and rational basis of your particular belief in Christ and establish the truth of my own. If I am confident in the veracity of my position, I would feel confident that I can use scripture, reason and the Holy Spirit to establish the truth of my position and not resort to a misleading use of language. Make sense?

SolaMeanie said...

The Gospel is defined in 1 Corinthians 15. What it takes to be a saved, born again Christian is defined throughout the pages of the New Testament rather than having a dictionary-type definition. You see from what is in Scripture beginning in Acts the following things.

A Christian is someone who has saving faith in the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross. We believe that He is the Son of God, the Logos, the Second Person of the Triune God. We believe He took on human form when He came to earth, dying on the cross for our sins and rising again from the dead for our justification. It is not enough just to have mental assent to these truths, as even "the demons believe and tremble." It must be a belief from the heart, coupled with trust in the fact that Jesus' shed blood paid the price for our sins. No human works whatsoever can have a role in our salvation and justification before God. This is the testimony of the New Testament in toto. And even taking the entire Bible into account, salvation has ALWAYS been by faith, not by works. (See Abraham, who believed God and it "was reckoned to him as righteousness."

You then suggest that Catholics and any who believes that works are necessary in addition to belief in Christ is not a Christian, excluding both Catholics and some protestant sects from being Christian.

That is correct, when you consider what constitutes saving faith. I will grant you that there is such a thing as a "cultural Christian" in the world's eyes. I will grant you that people can be part of churches that identify themselves as Christian. But if a church departs from the biblical Gospel, the Bible is plain that they are accursed. Paul made that clear in Galatians.

You can call me heavy handed if you like, but I am no more heavy handed than is Scripture, and it is the Word of God that sets the standard for our definitions, not what man-made dictionaries or philosophers say.

As I have stated earlier, the Mormon Jesus and the Mormon God are not biblical. Not even close. Mormons are polytheists, while Christians are monotheists. In comparing the Book of Mormon and other LDS writings or "scriptures," there is no contest between evidence for those writing and evidence for the Bible, both in terms of manuscript evidence, archeology, testimony etc. Mormons can claim that they are the one true church or restoration of true Christianity, but proving that is quite another matter. The biblical and historical record simply does not support Mormon claims. Haven't a few BYU professors lost their positions because they just can't academically back up Mormon claims?

SolaMeanie said...

One more thought for clarity to avoid what you think is misleading language. A true Christian is one who is born again according to the Scriptures, or one who has saving faith. And it must be faith in the real Jesus of the Bible, not a false Jesus. The Jesus of the Bible is not the spirit brother of Lucifer.

Tell you what. I think instead of going back and forth and back and forth here, I will instead prepare a new blog post that will set out my thinking on this in detail, and we can go from there. I am writing this in a hurry and am probably not communicating as precisely -- with Scripture references -- as I would like. That is not fair to this discussion.

Be patient. It might take me a few days given my schedule.

pastorbrianculver said...

I saw the remark...
#1 “We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.”
*****************************
Quick question for you on your belief...
First...
you said you believe in God, the Eternal Father.
A.) Do you believe that JESUS IS ETERNAL? (no beginning and no end)
just a yes or no answer will do.

Second, you said...
#3 “We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.”
*****************************
B.) what if you have not been obedient to the laws? what happens to you?
where will you end up?
Heaven? Hell? Different level of Heaven?

So Mormons do believe in Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Messiah, and are Christians according to the dictionary definition of the word (which captures what the word means to the general public who use it). Consequently, independent of the actual correctness of the faith, it is a Christian faith.
********************************
I know Mormons are pretty hung up on wanting to be called Christians.
C.) Isn't it a fact that mormons view christians as being apostate?
Would you please respond to this Scripture?
"Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I NEVER KNEW YOU: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matt 7:15-23)
D.) You as a Mormon have been presented with information that the Jesus of Mormonism is NOT the same Jesus as the bible shows Him to be. If what we are saying is true, then you will be one of those people who will say Lord, Lord and He will tell you, Depart from me you worker of iniquity, I never knew you. DOES THAT BOTHER YOU, THAT THE BIBLE SPEAKS OF MORMONS LIKE THAT?

SolaMeanie said...

Wow.

Thanks, Brian, for posting that. It reminds me of my colleague who got in a similar conversation with a cultist. He asked the cultist what he (my colleague) would lose if he was wrong. The answer was "nothing." He then asked the cultist, what if you're wrong? Surprisingly, he admitted..."If you're right and I'm wrong, then I've lost everything.

Louis P said...

Sure, Pastor Culver, I'm happy to answer your questions:

1. You asked if Mormons believe Jesus is eternal:

- Yes, Mormons believe Jesus is Eternal. "Behold, thus saith the Lord, even Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, even he who was crucified for the sins of the world -" (Doctrine and Covenants 54:1)

2. You asked what happens if someone hasn’t been obedient to the laws of the Gospel:

- Man can’t judge certainly, but the Mormon doctrine has beautiful doctrines that explain that allow all those who have been and will be born on this earth will have an opportunity to accept the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The countless millions in Africa and Asia who died having never heard the name Jesus Christ all will have an opportunity to learn of Jesus Christ and his Gospel as they await the resurrection. But though one must accept Jesus Christ and obey the laws of the Gospel, it’s not our place to judge any particular case. A modern prophet, J. Reuben Clark said it well:

“I believe that his juridical concept of his dealings with his children could be expressed in this way: I believe that in his justice and mercy, he will give us the maximum reward for our acts, give us all that he can give, and in the reverse, I believe that he will impose upon us the minimum penalty which it is possible for him to impose.” (note that this does NOT mean that the reward for our acts is our exaltation; acts are an evidence of faith, which is what qualifies one for Christ's mercy).

I also believe this to be true, from my experience and understanding of God’s disposition toward all of his children – I believe love is his defining characteristic.


3. You said: "Isn't it a fact that mormons view christians as being apostate?"

- Mormons believe that John the Baptist and Peter, James and John (but ultimately Jesus Christ) gave Joseph Smith the authority to baptize and administer the ordinances of the Gospel (baptism, gift of the Holy Ghost, etc.). In this sense, that of having authority to administer the ordinances of God through God’s priesthood, only the Mormon Church has it (yes, others are apostate). But that is very far from saying that all are ‘bad.’ Mormons believe that all churches and people carry truth, and I believe that we can all learn from one another. Joel, who maintains this blog, helped me increase my understanding of the interrelation of faith and works, and I’m grateful to him for it. Similarly, you likely know many things about God that I don’t. I honor the Amish and Quakers for their discipline and desire to live pure and peaceful lives. But I do also believe that only the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has the priesthood authority to administer the ordinances of the Gospel.

5. You asked me to respond to this Scripture:
"Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I NEVER KNEW YOU: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matt 7:15-23)

- I don’t know what you are looking for here – I agree with it. “For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles” (Rev. 16:14). We know that the devil and men under his influence can and do perform miracles that deceive many, but the Spirit is that which justifies (see 1 Cor 6:11). Consequently, some who “prophesy” and do “many wonderful works” will be found on the left hand of God.

6. You said: “You as a Mormon have been presented with information that the Jesus of Mormonism is NOT the same Jesus as the bible shows Him to be. If what we are saying is true, then you will be one of those people who will say Lord, Lord and He will tell you, Depart from me you worker of iniquity, I never knew you. DOES THAT BOTHER YOU, THAT THE BIBLE SPEAKS OF MORMONS LIKE THAT?”

-I don’t really know how to respond to this, Pastor Culver, it seems like a combative statement. I neither believe the Scripture you cite refers to Mormons, nor that you have shown by reason or the Spirit that it does. I believe strongly in my Mormon faith, and the Spirit testified to me that I should be baptized in the Mormon Church, and confirms the rightness of that decision often. I’m not offended, as I know it’s very easy to miscommunicate on this written-only medium, as I'll assume I misunderstood. I hope I’ve answered your questions, Pastor Culver. Have a great week,

pastorbrianculver said...

As a mormon you say that Mormons believe that Jesus is eternal. There is a problem with that statement. Mormons believe that as God is, man can become. You have a belief that Jesus was once just a man who ascended to godhood status. That is not the definition of eternal.

If you were to go to any Christian bookstore and look in the non-Christian cult section you will see numerous books on Mormonism that document Mormon beliefs as aberrant and un-Biblical. The Mormon Church is not considered a Christian church.

This is not simply an opinion that they are false. It is a fact that they teach abberant and unchristian theology. In fact, Jesus warned us about such groups when he said in Matthew 24:24 that in the last days many false Christs and false prophets will arise and deceive many. Mormonism is exactly that, a manifestation of a false prophet: Joseph Smith, who taught all these things.

The Bible does not teach that God came to another planet, or that he has a goddess wife, or that we can become gods. In fact, the Bible clearly and definitely contradicts those teachings. But, Mormon Church responds by saying that the Bible is not really trustworthy, that the true faith was lost, and that its leader, Joseph Smith, restored the so-called "true" Christian faith: god from another world, becoming gods, goddess mother, etc. Of course, the Mormon Church's claim is not true.

One question to ask the Mormon Church as a whole is why is it that it does not appoint a representative to publicly debate and answer the challenges of competent Christians who know not only the Bible, but what Mormonism teaches? Why is it that the Mormon Church refuses to have open dialogue and appoint a representative who would attempt to defend the LDS teachings from the Bible? Why does it refuse to do this? I believe it is because it doesn't want to be made to look bad.
Mormon Beliefs documented

Please note that these teachings are documented from Mormon writers, not anti-Mormon writers.

1. Book of Mormon
1. The book of Mormon is more correct than the Bible, (History of the Church, 4:461.)
2. Devil, the
1. The Devil was born as a spirit after Jesus "in the morning of pre-existence," (Mormon Doctrine, page 192.)
2. Jesus and Satan are spirit brothers and we were all born as siblings in heaven to them both, (Mormon Doctrine, p. 163.)
3. God
1. God used to be a man on another planet, Mormon Doctrine, p. 321. Joseph Smith, Times and Seasons, Vol 5, pp. 613-614; Orson Pratt, Journal of Discourses, Vol 2, p. 345, Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, vol. 7, p. 333.)
2. "The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as mans..." (D&C 130:22).
4. God, becoming a god
1. After you become a good Mormon, you have the potential of becoming a god, (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pages 345-347, 354.)
2. "Then shall they be gods, because they have no end; therefore shall they be from everlasting to everlasting, because they continue; then shall they be above all, because all things are subject unto them. Then shall they be gods, because they have all power, and the angels are subject unto them," (DC 132:20).
5. God, many gods
1. There are many gods, (Mormon Doctrine, p. 163.)
2. "And they (the Gods) said: Let there be light: and there was light (Book of Abraham 4:3)
6. God, mother goddess
1. There is a mother god, (Articles of Faith, by James Talmage, p. 443.)
2. God is married to his goddess wife and has spirit children, (Mormon Doctrine p. 516.)
7. God, Trinity
1. The trinity is three separate Gods: The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. "That these three are separate individuals, physically distinct from each other, is demonstrated by the accepted records of divine dealings with man." (Articles of Faith, by James Talmage, p. 35.)
8. Heaven
1. There are three levels of heaven: telestial, terrestrial, and celestial, Mormon Doctrine, p. 348.
9. Holy Ghost, the
1. The Holy Ghost is a male personage, A Marvelous Work and a Wonder, (Le Grand Richards, Salt Lake City, 1956, page 118; Journal of Discources, Vol. 5, page 179.)
10. Jesus
1. "Therefore we know that both the Father and the Son are in form and stature perfect men; each of them possesses a tangible body . . . of flesh and bones." (Articles of Faith, by James Talmage, p. 38).
2. "The birth of the Saviour was as natural as are the births of our children; it was the result of natural action. He partook of flesh and blood - was begotten of his Father, as we were of our fathers." (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 8: p. 115).
3. "Elohim is literally the Father of the spirit of Jesus Christ and also of the body in which Jesus Christ performed His mission in the flesh ..." (First Presidency and Council of the Twelve, 1916, God the Father, compiled by Gordon Allred, pg. 150).
11. Joseph Smith
1. If it had not been for Joseph Smith and the restoration, there would be no salvation. There is no salvation [the context is the full gospel including exaltation to Godhood] outside the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, (Mormon Doctrine, p. 670.)
12. Pre-existence
1. We were first begotten as spirit children in heaven and then born naturally on earth, (Journal of Discourse, Vol. 4, p. 218.)
2. The first spirit to be born in heaven was Jesus, (Mormon Doctrine, page 129.)
3. The Devil was born as a spirit after Jesus "in the morning of pre-existence," (Mormon Doctrine, page 192.)
13. Salvation
1. "One of the most fallacious doctrines originated by Satan and propounded by man is that man is saved alone by the grace of God; that belief in Jesus Christ alone is all that is needed for salvation." (Miracle of Forgiveness, Spencer W. Kimball, p. 206.)
2. A plan of salvation was needed for the people of earth so Jesus offered a plan to the Father and Satan offered a plan to the father but Jesus' plan was accepted. In effect the Devil wanted to be the Savior of all Mankind and to "deny men their agency and to dethrone god." (Mormon Doctrine, page 193; Journal of Discourses, vol. 6, page 8.)
3. Jesus' sacrifice was not able to cleanse us from all our sins, (murder and repeated adultery are exceptions), (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 3, p. 247, 1856.)
4. Good works are necessary for salvation, Articles of Faith, p. 92.)
5. There is no salvation without accepting Joseph Smith as a prophet of God, (Doctrines of Salvation, Vol. 1, p. 188.)
6. "The first effect [of the atonement] is to secure to all mankind alike, exemption from the penalty of the fall, thus providing a plan of General Salvation. The second effect is to open a way for Individual Salvation whereby mankind may secure remission of personal sins (Articles of Faith, by James Talmage, p. 78-79.)
7. "As these sins are the result of individual acts it is just that forgiveness for them should be conditioned on individual compliance with prescribed requirements -- 'obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.'" (Articles of Faith p. 79).
8. "This grace is an enabling power that allows men and women to lay hold on eternal life and exaltation after they have expended their own best efforts" (LDS Bible Dictionary, p. 697).
9. "We know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do," (2 Nephi 25:23).
14. Trinity, the
1. The trinity is three separate Gods: The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. "That these three are separate individuals, physically distinct from each other, is demonstrated by the accepted records of divine dealings with man." (Articles of Faith, by James Talmage, p. 35.)

pastorbrianculver said...

When I was in the mormon church, I read the BOM. I had that burning in the bosom so I just knew the BOM was true. AS I have grown to understand Scripture and really know what God's Word says, the spirit is convicting me that the BOM is false.

so, using logic that says the BOM is true because the spirit tells you it is, I have the opposite feeling because the spirit told me so.

so, who has the right spirit?
I have shown you who Jesus is in the Bible and I know who Jesus is in the Mormon faith. I will trust the spirit that teaches me all things in Christ.

Satan is able to give a burning feeling in the bosom so beware of relying on those feelings.

Louis P said...

Pastor Culver:

You mention again that Mormons don’t believe that Jesus is eternal. In the Book of Mormon, a prophet who lived in the Americas about 100 years before Christ was born was visited by an Angel, who taught him: “For behold, the time cometh, and is not far distant, that with power, the Lord Omnipotent who reigneth, who was, and is from all eternity to all eternity, shall come down from heaven among the children of men, and shall dwell in a tabernacle of clay, and shall go forth amongst men, working mighty miracles, such as healing the sick, raising the dead, causing the lame to walk, the blind to receive their sight, and the deaf to hear, and curing all manner of diseases.” Mosiah 3:5 (the entire chapter is terrific; the angel teaches about the life and mission of Christ with a beautiful simplicity and shortness). This is very clear that Jesus is “from eternity to all eternity.”

You mention that “any Christian bookstore” would have “numerous books on Mormonism that document Mormon beliefs as aberrant and un-Biblical.” Certainly many Christian bookstores have those books, but I’m sure you agree that the number of published books for or against a proposition is no proof of the proposition’s truth or falsity. Mormonism is highly controversial, with people holding strong opinions on either side of the debate, and many books have been written, for and against the faith. I’m sure many of those books elegantly argue that Mormonism is false and many argue elegantly that it is true by providing historical, scientific, logical, literary, and rhetorical supports or attacks on the faith. But truth is independent of popularity. (E.g. Martin Luther, who opposed the entire “Christian” world of his day but asserted things that were absolutely right, and even Jesus Christ himself).

As to why the Mormon Church doesn’t appoint representatives to publicly debate, I’m not sure. I can only speak for myself. There are over 50,000 full time missionaries in the world who pay to preach what they (and I) believe is the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. But you are correct the probably will not debate; their purpose is to find those who will receive the message rather than to engage in an academic back-and-forth. (See Acts 17, when Paul refused to debate the Greeks during his mission).

You then post a long list of quotes – I’m sure you’ll understand if I don’t take time to answer every one of them, but feel free to pick out and explain why you believe it is objectionable and I’ll see if I can respond.

You stated in your next post that you received a witness that the BOM is true, but that now you feel God is saying it is false. Then you raise the issue of distinguishing between spirits. What a deeply spiritual issue, one few in this world have the spiritual self-awareness to ask. Certainly the devil can work through feelings to lead men to unhappiness and misery. A “burning in the bosom” is not necessarily God’s stamp of approval, and I’m glad you bring that up, because I don’t think I’ve ever had the opportunity to articulate this before now. But there is an answer, and it is in the Bible: Galatians 5:22-23:

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” The devil can work miracles, give feelings or dreams, he can reason, befriend (in wickedness), and even “transform[] himself nigh unto an angel of light” (2 Ne. 9:9). But the devil cannot fill one’s heart and life with these fruits of the Spirit. I wonder if you felt these things as a member of the Mormon Church? I can’t say how great it has been since my baptism to see love and peace, gentleness and kindness increase in my life. I wouldn’t trade it for the world! God can and does communicate with man, as Martin Luther taught. And, as Paul taught, the Holy Spirit has a monopoly on these wonderful fruits.

I hope I’ve addressed the issues you raised to your satisfaction, Pastor Culver. I’m far from an expert on Mormonism, but am glad to share the little knowledge I do have –

Have a great night,

pastorbrianculver said...

There is a huge gaping hole here. It is the fact that the Jesus of mormonism is NOT the same as the Jesus of the Bible. Not even close to being the same. I prefer to walk with the Jesus of the Bible. Since mormonism believes they have living prophets and their words supercede that of the Bible or even of the BOM, then you need to compare what the prophets of mormonism have taught concerning Jesus. Their own teachings do not line up with your own scriptures. You can't dismiss it and say it was their own personal beliefs. Not when they say, "thus saith the Lord." If even one prophecy is not true (which there are many), then the prophet is a false prophet and is one spoken of in the Bible that we are to stay away from. They will be cast into the lake of fire (hell) and all their demons will go with them.