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An Assessment of Mormonism
by Dr. Henderson Ward
11/09/2013 / Christian Living
The Son of God, Jesus Christ the Saviour of the world, never compromised. Jesus never said, "I am right and you are wrong but for the sake of peace I will meet you halfway". This is not how it works in the Kingdom of God. God verily does not seek popularity, and Heaven is not a democracy but a monarchy with Almighty God on the throne. No matter how committed you are to your religion, how passionate you believe and defend its doctrines, it is necessary to be on the right track otherwise you will be lost. The Bible says this, "There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death." (Proverbs 14:12)
So, are Mormons on the right track; are their religion Christian?
Many scholars, theologians and websites have examined Mormons religion and have pointed out the many errors they found, teachings that are clearly incompatible with orthodox Christianity and authors John Ankerberg and John Weldon posited the following.
"It is not logically possible that a religion which rejects the biblical Trinity and accepts polytheism, which denies that God always existed and instead maintains that God was once a man who evolved into godhood, which teaches works-salvation and denies salvation by grace, which offers a pagan view of the virgin birth, which endorses the occult, and so on, can legitimately call itself Christian. Mormonism is not true Christianity and true Mormons cannot be considered Christians.....For Mormons to maintain they are truly Christian, they must ignore the weight of 20 centuries of history and the conclusion of most people outside the church who have seriously and independently investigated the issue." - (Fast Facts on Mormonism, John Ankerberg and John Weldon, 2003, p. 90)
Christians should be aware that one of the most deceptive and insidious phenomenon of a Christian cult is its appearance of reasonableness. This is particularly true when viewed through the eyes of non-Christians looking, with an open mind, for some spiritual enlightenment.
The Mormons as a cult, on initial examination, look very much like just another Christian denomination that may have some minor differences with mainstream Christianity and whose liturgical system is peculiar but understandable and functional. As I peruse information from their official website, read articles from their leaders and scholars as well as from their supporters and critics I get the impression that Mormonism is not the solid, sure religion that some make out but that it is friable, just awaiting an occasion, an event of some sort to generate a schism to set the whole edifice crumbling.
On the surface the Mormons appear to worship God, believe in man's fallen state and his need for salvation, promote Jesus Christ as God's provision for man's salvation, believe in the holy sacrament of baptism, accept the Word of God as given to us in the Bible, accept that there is a devil in the world, accept the concept of the Trinity and the existence of Heaven, believe in the sacrament of the Lord's Supper and seem to understand the concept of the Ecclesia.
In their living as believers Mormons seem to subscribe to fundamental principles of Christian morality in abstaining from pre-marital sex, alcohol and illegal drugs, pornography, foul language and gambling, helping their fellow man in need, showing kindness and hospitality to the neighbors, bringing up their children in the fear and knowledge of the Lord, respecting and loving the Jews and many such laudable acts.
All of these things would indicate that these people are on the right lines and making a valuable contribution to Christian ministry until you examine the details. Without doubt, Mormonism is a false religion founded by a false prophet and its followers are deluding themselves that they are just fine in the sight of God. I have no doubt that the majority of these people are sincere, but being sincerely wrong will be no excuse, and unless they change course they are doomed to eternal perdition.
Mormons Differences from Biblical Christianity
As far as I am able to detect, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is governed by a theology based on several documents, what they refer to as sacred or revered text, these being the Book of Mormon, The Doctrine and Covenants, The Pearl of Great Price and The Holy Bible. From my observations of their literature, and in keeping with all Christian cults, they do not subscribe to standard hermeneutics (interpretation) in their understanding of the Bible and whenever it suits them they skew scriptures to suit their theology.
To make a proper assessment of their theology one has to pick out bits that are doctrinal or, as I have done, look at their main statement of faith as reflected in The Pearl of Great Price and it is mainly those that I will contrast with Biblical Christianity.
According to the Mormons the Bible is full of errors and omissions and though accepted as one of their sacred texts it is not given preeminence. This one thing more than any other underpins the falsity of Mormonism in that it places the writings of its founder Joseph Smith, and all their presidents, above that of the divinely inspired Word of God.
Whereas one can accept that revelations can, and do, still come from God they have to be compatible and consistent with the Bible not contradict it since we know that the Bible is true and inerrant in its original manuscripts, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works." (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
Another problem with Mormonism is their concept of God; for they believe that God is in the form of a man, had a Father, has a body of flesh and bones and got to his exalted position by obedience and righteous living.
We know from the Bible that God is not a physical being, "God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth." (John 4:24) and the Spirit world does not contain flesh and blood, "Now I say brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God" (1 Corinthians 15:50).
We know that God never had a father for God is eternal, "The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms" (Deuteronomy 33:27) "I am he: before me was no God formed, neither shall there be after me." (Isaiah 43:10) "For I am the Lord, I change not" (Malachi 3:6) "Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God." (Psalm 90:2). "As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one." (1Corinthians 8:4) "For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus" (1Titus 2:5).
All true Christians believe in the Trinity but Mormonism teaches that the Trinity is three separate Gods, The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost and that these three are separate individuals, physically distinct from each other. This is contrary to scripture, "For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one." (1 John 5:7).
Nowhere in Scripture are there three Gods but one, "And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord:" (Mark 12:29). The Apostle Paul, writing to the church at Ephesus says, "There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all." (Ephesians 4:4-6).
The Bible teaches that the Trinity consists of three persons of one essential nature, power and eternity, i.e. the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit and not three Gods as Mormonism teaches.
Mormonism then proceeds from a wrong concept of the Trinity to wrong theology on each individual member of the Trinity to an extent that have more in common with third rate science fiction than Biblical reality.
They say that God the Father is an exalted man (a man who has progressed to godhood) with a body of flesh and bones (which is the same thing they say about God, to which I have responded above) and that he was produced through sexual relation with Mother God. This is vintage polytheism combined with voodoo theology.
The Bible is most explicit in stating that God is not a man, "God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?" (Numbers 23:19), "I will not execute the fierceness of mine anger, I will not return to destroy Ephraim: for I am God, and not man; the Holy One in the midst of thee: and I will not enter into the city." (Hosea 11:9), see also 1Samuel 15:29 and Hosea 11:9.
On the contrary God is a Spirit, "God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth" (John 4:24). Jesus said that a spirit does not have flesh and bones, "Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have." (Luke 24:39) and nowhere in the Bible is Mother God mentioned, or that anyone ever was before Almighty God; for then God would not be eternal.
God is from everlasting and any teaching contrary to this is demonstrably false. Mormonism teachings on Jesus Christ seem to be aimed at all those who deride the Bible, and the essential foundation on which it stands, since they claim that there was no virgin birth but that Jesus was conceived through sexual relations between the mother of Jesus and God and that Jesus was married and had children. This teaching is thoroughly false and has its genesis in the mind of a false prophet who thought that he was above God. I understand that Mormonism teaches that no one could advance to the "highest heaven" except Joseph Smith gives them permission.
The conception of Jesus through the Holy Spirit is well documented in the Bible, "Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost." (Matthew 1:18), "And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God." (Luke 1:35). No sign here of any sexual relationship of any kind.
Jesus Christ became a man when he took on the body and the nature of a man by being born into the human family but Jesus' eternity is clearly documented in the Bible, "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God." (Philippians 2:5-6), "And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory." (1 Timothy 3:16), "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God" (John 1:1) "For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him" (Colossians 1:16).
It is false that Jesus was married and had children.
The Bible gladly and fulsomely told us of Jesus' parents, his brothers, his aunt and uncle but never mentioned anything about Jesus having a wife and children and that was for a very good reason; he never had any.
Mormonism also teaches that the Holy Spirit is a male personage, A Marvelous Work and a Wonder, not God but a God and like Jesus was created. All of this flies in the face of revealed truths declared unto us in the Bible.
The Holy Spirit is and always was God, "But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hath thou conceived this thing in thine heart? Thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God." (Acts 5:3-4).
The Holy Spirit is eternal, "How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God" (Hebrews 9:14). He is omnipotent, "Through mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God; so that from Jerusalem, and round about unto Illyricum, I have fully preached the gospel of Christ" (Romans 15:19). He is omnipresent, "Whither shall I go from thy Spirit? Or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me." (Psalm 139:7-10). He is omniscient, "But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God." (1 Corinthians 2:10).
The only person that has these qualities is God and therefore the Holy Spirit is God. In every way the Holy Spirit is equal in essence to the Father and the Son but he has some offices and functions which are different and the Mormons seem not to understand that.
Mormonism also teaches that man was also in the beginning with God, uncreated, eternally existent, reared to maturity in the spirit world, becoming grown spirit men and women prior to coming upon this earth. This teaching is all wrong, according to the Bible man is a finite being, not an eternal one. The first man, Adam, and the first woman, Eve, were created at a specific point in time (Genesis 1:26-27, 2: 7). Man did not exist in the beginning when God was creating the world, for if he had, God's question to Job would have made no sense, "Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding.' (Job 38:4).
Man was created lower than the angels, so that David wondered why God is even mindful of him, "When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour" (Psalm 8:3-5), see also Psalm 144:3.
Mormonism also has a faulty concept of man's fall, and his salvation, affirming that salvation is by works and Jesus' atonement was not enough for all sins and everyone will be saved anyway because of Jesus' sacrifice.
The Bible is clear that all men WILL NOT be saved, "The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God." (Psalm 9:17) and Matthew expressed it like this, "Then shall he answered them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into eternal life." (Matthew 25:45-46).
Everlasting life in Christ, and not just simply eternal existence through resurrection, is the gift offered by God to all mankind, "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans 6:23) and is obtainable only by grace through faith, "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them" (Ephesians 2:8-10) when one repents and accepts Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16), see also Luke 13:3.
Jesus' death serves to reconcile all believers to God, "For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life." (Romans 5:10). In dying, Jesus broke down the wall of separation between us and God that was present through man's disobedience to the Law, and all man's righteous works for salvation are as filthy rags, "But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away." (Isaiah 64:6). No one can by his own works earn salvation, as the Mormons teach, for the Bible clearly tells us so, "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourself: it is the gift of God. Not of works, lest any man should boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Mormonism has problems understanding the church of God and derides the present as many different churches serving God, and asserts that there is no salvation outside their church. What they fail to understand is that you will find members of Christ's true church among every mainstream Christian denomination. Membership in Christ's true church is based on relationship, not religion. The Church is the body of saved believers and God does not regard extraneous factors, "For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond or free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to promise." (Galatians 3:26-29).
Mormonism teaches that the Bible does not contain all that is necessary for salvation; hence the writings of their so called "prophets".
These claims are patently not true because God has revealed all that matters in regard to salvation and tells us with respect to the Scriptures, "That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works" (2 Timothy 3:17) and that means complete, lacking nothing, all sufficient and total.
Mormons believe that after death people are placed into one of three "degrees of glory" in the afterlife, which commensurate with the laws they have obeyed on earth: the telestial, the terrestrial and the celestial kingdoms and this is based on a false interpretation of 2 Corinthians 12:1-4 where Paul speaks of "three heavens". Paul meant the sky, outer space and God's eternal kingdom.
Mormonism also teaches baptism for believers and baptism for the dead and both are based on faulty theology.
Their members are typically baptized at the age of eight, although the age obviously differs for those who convert later in their life and they do so in the name of Jesus, whereas the Bible tells us different, "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." (Matthew 28:19).
Mormons research genealogies and get baptized in their temples in proxy for their dead relatives. They misinterpret the verse in the Bible which says, "Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?" (1 Corinthians 15: 29) Christians are warned to avoid endless genealogies which engender strife (1 Timothy 1:3-4). Paul was dealing with the resurrection and showing the Church at Corinth that even unbelievers were following the pagan tradition of "baptism for the dead" while at the same time they were denying the resurrection. Paul was in fact saying that these people were foolish doing something quite pointless because they did not believe in resurrection. The Bible is very clear that you can do absolutely nothing to help the dead, "And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:" (Hebrews 9:27)
These then are the main issues of contention, as far as I can see, between Mormonism and Biblical Christianity but because Mormonism is predicated on an unstable, unpredictable and transient theology, which has more to do with the impulses of its current leadership than to Biblical conformity, I fully expect other issues to arise challenging the Bible.
So, is there hope for the Mormons? Yes, but not if they continue in their willingness to flout the Scriptures and adhere to unsound theology. What a person believes is very important and the Bible affirms it this way, " For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he" (Proverbs 23:7). God is merciful and his compassion fails not and all who serves him in SPIRIT and in TRUTH can look forward to a blessed eternity with him.
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Dr. Henderson Ward received his Doctor of Divinity in theology, with distinction, from Masters International School of Divinity, USA, where he is currently a post-doctoral fellow. Dr. Ward's career involved pastoring, evangelism, and teaching. Copyright 2017
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