Are Mormons Christians?
Latter-day Saints consider themselves to be Christians. Whether or not Latte r-day Saints, or Mormons, are Christians is a concern between the believer and Christ on an individual basis. Mormon doctrine, on the other hand, is not compatible with the Gospel of Christ. Former LDS president, Gordon B. Hinckley, admitted openly that the Jesus of the LDS Church is not the same Jesus of historical and traditional Christianity. From Brigham Young University's frequently asked questions website, LDSfaq (ldsfaq.byu.edu), comes the following LDS answer to the question of whether or not Mormonism is Christian:
"The response to the question "Is Mormonism Christian?" depends on the substance of the question and its context. If the inquiry is more theological and religious than theoretical and academic, then the question and answer are normative and depend upon the presuppositions that underlie the query. However, the question can be examined by asking about the significance and implications of labeling and naming in the world of religion. While much modern Latter-day Saint literature has emphasized elements in common between the LDS Church and other Christian denominations, the frequent use of "Mormon" among the early Saints shows that the unique doctrines and beliefs of the Saints-such as the Book of Mormon, the gathering, and the leadership of the prophet-enabled the Saints to withstand the centrifugal pull of Protestant hegemony and establish their own identity. Likewise, the Saints referred to everyone outside of their religion as "Gentile," a practice that continued into this century. Now, with their identity firmly established, the Saints no longer feel constrained to be segregated from other denominations. At the same time, however, new conservative Christians have adopted the label "Christian" to unite themselves and to exclude outsiders or those who may differ in their doctrinal beliefs. The need to show this divergence has grown with the increased prominence of the Church and its members and with the realization that conservative Christians share with the Saints a common social and political agenda."
Basically, what this simply means is, "No."
"I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel -- which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying tp pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!"
Mormonism was founded in New York around 1830, by Joseph Smith, Jr., who was reported to have been visited by God (the Father and the Son) in 1820, and told to restore true Christianity since all churches had become an abomination. In 1823, he was supposedly visited by the angel Moroni (the gold angelic figure blowing a horn atop many Mormon temples), who gave him a series of golden plates inscribed with hieroglyphics, which he translated into the Book of Mormon. In 1829, Smith, revered as a prophet, seer, and revelator by friends and family, was reported to have been initiated into the priesthood of Aaron by John the Baptist and, in 1830, when the Book of Mormon was published, the Church of Christ was founded by Smith and his colleagues, later to be renamed The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and proclaimed by Smith to be the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth. The church moved throughout the midwest in the early to mid-1880s, and was often persecuted for its beliefs and practices. Smith was killed in an Illinois jail by an angry mob in 1844, and succeeded by Brigham Young, who led a majority of Mormon believers to Utah in 1847. Of the remainder of Mormons there were several small factions. Those who stayed in Illinois under the leadership of Joseph Smith's sons were known as the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (now known as the Community of Christ). The early Mormon Church was plagued with various illegal accusations and practices, civil discord, murder of dissenters and non-believers, purposeful cover-up and re-interpretation of its true history, and accounts of occult practices by its founder, whose former profession included digging for buried treasure with the aid of divination and magic rituals.
The "Four Standard Works" of Mormonism include:
Book of Mormon, "Another Testament of Jesus Christ... a volume of holy scripture comparable to the Bible." The Book of Mormon purports to be a historical account of two or three ancient civilizations from biblical times that emigrated to Central and South America, one of which were Jews escaping Babylonian captivity around 600 B.C. The Book of Mormon claims that Christ visited the American continent after his resurrection and shared the gospel with descendants of the immigrated Jews (Nephites), along with the practice of communion, baptism, and the priesthood. This history was recorded by the prophet Mormon and discovered fourteen hundred years later in New York by Joseph Smith, who translated the four sets of plates from "reformed Egyption hieroglyphics" into English with the use of Urim and Thummim (two seer stones set in silver bows, like mystical glasses). Since its original publication, it has undergone numerous corrections and revision by the LDS Church, as have Smith's other writings (not necessarily paradoxes of knowledge, but a process of continuing revelation due to man's incomplete comprehension of the knowledge and will of God, according to contemporary LDS reasoning).
Authorized King James Version Bible, considered the word of God "as far as it has been translated correctly." This is an annotated version based on a retranslated version of the KJV by Joseph Smith, called the "The Joseph Smith Translation" (JST). It includes LDS footnotes, cross-references, and study notes.
Doctrine and Covenants, "a collection of divine revelations and inspired declarations given for the establishment and regulation of the kingdom of God on the earth in the last days," most of which were received through Joseph Smith, Jr.
Pearl of Great Price, a collection of sacred, scriptural works by Joseph Smith, divided into five sections:
- Selections from the Book of Moses, "An extract from the translation of the Bible as revealed to Joseph Smith the Prophet, June 1830-February 1831"
- The Book of Abraham, "A Translation of some ancient Records, that have fallen into our hands from the catacombs of Egypt"
- Joseph Smith -- Matthew, "An extract from the translation of the Bible as revealed to Joseph Smith the Prophet in 1831: Matthew 23:39 and chapter 24"
- Joseph Smith -- History, "Extracts from the History of Joseph Smith, The Prophet, History of the Church, Vol. 1, Chapters 1-5"
- The Articles of Faith, a list of 13 specific beliefs of the LDS Church written in 1842
There are other official LDS publications, including: the Journal of Discourses, twenty-six volumes of lectures and sermons by LDS Church leaders between 1843 and 1886; the Documentary History of the Church, a seven volume publication of the history of the LDS Church written by Joseph Smith and various other LDS scribes and historians; Articles of Faith by James Talmage; Mormon Doctrine by Bruce R. McConkie; A Comprehensive History of the Church by B. H. Roberts, six volumes of additional information and commentary to the Documentary History of the Church; Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith by Joseph Fielding Smith, tenth LDS president, and Doctrines of Salvation, comprising three volumes of sermons and writings defining the basic Mormon tenets of faith; the Encyclopedia of Mormonism; Ensign magazine.
God (Elohim) was once a man on another world. Through adherence to a system of laws and ordinances he attained to godhead over this planet. He is mortal man ascended, of pure, refined matter, living and breeding with his celestial wife and producing billions of spiritual offspring on a planet in another galaxy near a star called Kolob. These offspring mature in heaven, then enter the bodies of earthly babies where they grow, learn by mortal experience, and, if they also adhere to Elohim's system of laws and ordinances, eventually progress to their own state of godhood on their own planet (knowledge of their premortal state is veiled while in their physical bodies). In need of a plan of salvation for the earthly people who had gone astray, Lucifer, a spiritual son of God, proposed that he be the savior of mankind, destroying the agency of man and forcing them to become gods. However, God chose Jesus (Jehovah), the firstborn of his spiritual offspring, and his plan of freewill for mankind to accept or reject his sacrifice of atonement. So, Lucifer rebelled and those who rebelled with him were cursed as demons, forever spirits, never to be allowed to become men and progress to godhood. Jesus and the remaining spirits were afforded the choice of physical preference on earth -- where they will live and what race they will belong to. Jesus was also chosen as the redeemer of mankind, born of a virgin as a result of physical intercourse with God. The original church of Christ, started by his first disciples, became apostate shortly after the death of the original apostles. Joseph Smith, Jr. (1805-44), was the founding prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the restored, true church of Christ. Church members accept his revelations as scripture and believe that through him the pure gospel of Jesus Christ was restored to the earth. In order for humans to be saved -- that is, to attain to their own individual state of godhood -- they must become Mormons and follow Mormon doctrine, laws, and rituals. Ascended Mormon males will inherit their own planet with their eternal spouses and produce spiritual offspring in order to glorify God and further his work in a celestial kingdom. Humans who believe in God but fail to follow the Mormon path will one day stand before Joseph Smith, Jesus, and God to be judged, most of whom will serve God as eternal spirits in a terrestial kingdom. Those who reject God outright will be allowed to tarry as spirits in the telestial kingdom.
The articles of faith of the Latter-day Saints:
- We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.
- We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam's transgression.
- We believe that through the atonement of Christ all men may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.
- We believe that these ordinances are: First, faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, repentance; third, baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost
- We believe that a man must be called of God by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer the ordinances thereof.
- We believe in the same organization that existed in the primitive church, viz. apostles, prophets, pastors teachers, evangelists, etc.
- We believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, etc.
- We believe the Bible to be the word of God, as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the 'Book of Mormon' to be the word of God.
- We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that he will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.
- We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes. That Zion will be built upon this continent. That Christ will reign personally upon the earth, and that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisaic glory.
- We claim the privilege of worshipping Almighty God according to the dictates of our conscience, and allow all men the same privilege; let them worship how, where, or what they may.
- We believe in being subject to kings, president, rulers and magistrates, in obeying. honouring and sustaining that law.
- We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul, 'We believe all things, we hope all things' we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely or of good report, or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.
"But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent's cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough... For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their ends will be what their actions deserve."
(2 Corinthians 11:3-4, 13-15)
On the surface, LDS doctrine, literature, and missionary teachings may seem in line with the Christian gospel. They openly claim to believe in Jesus as the Son of God, who died for our sins and is one of the three personages of the Trinity. The LDS Church's Articles of Faith, its creed for the general public, lists several Evangelical doctrines, such as faith in Christ, repentance, baptism, organizations of the primitive church (apostles, prophets, teachers, etc.), speaking in tongues, prophecy, the restoration of Israel, and subjection to earthly rulers. It's no wonder that half of LDS converts come from Christian denominations. Below the surface, however, there is too much to be refuted by biblical Christianity. Cult properties aside, Mormonism espouses just some of the following non-biblical teachings:
The Book of Mormon is more accurate and authoritative than the Bible.
Mormonism teaches that the Bible is incomplete and lacking in the fullness of the Gospel (Book of Mormon, 1 Nephi 13:26-28). Latter-day Saints rely on the KJV Bible because they think that it is the least tarnished translation, all others being corrupted in their reproductions. Joseph Smith claimed that "the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book" (Book of Mormon, Introduction), although it has had about 4,000 changes and numerous corrections since its first publication in 1830. It borrows much of its old English language and many of its quotations (along with a few KJV translation errors) directly from the King James Bible, even though it was supposedly written about 1,000 years prior to the 1611 publication of the KJV. The opening introduction to the Book of Mormon ("An Account Written by the Hand of Mormon Upon Plates Taken From the Plates of Nephi") even states that the book is an abridgment of the original plates, written by men with the possibility of mistakes, and newer editions contain a disclaimer that various errors have been perpetuated and corrections made that seem appropriate. Hundreds of changes were also made to revelations taken from Smith's 1833 Book of Commandments for the Government of the Church before being published in his 1835 Doctrine and Covenants. Yet the LDS Church has the temerity and audacity to question the strict and meticulous process of scriptural reproduction by Jewish scribes, of which Jesus himself said that not the smallest letter or least stroke of a pen would disappear until heaven and earth disappeared (Matthew 5:18).
Joseph Smith wrote that those who do not accept the Book of Mormon remain in sin and condemnation (Doctrine and Covenants 84:49-57). The Book of Mormon, with all its inconsistencies, translated from a single source of questionable origin by one man of disputed character, takes authoritative precedence over the Bible, which is God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16), living and active (Hebrews 4:12), written in accord by over forty authors, and endures forever (Isaiah 40:8).
Joseph Smith claimed to use Urim and Thummim to translate the golden plates of Moroni (Doctrine and Covenants, section 17). Urim and Thummim (derived from the Hebrew "lights" and "perfections" or "revelation" and "truth") are mentioned in Exodus 28:30 (also briefly mentioned in Leviticus 8:8, Numbers 27:21, Deuteronomy 33:8, 1 Samuel 28:6, Ezra 2:63, and Nehemiah 7:65) as being part of the high priest's breastplate of judgment, which were some kind of artifact, possibly colored stones, kept in a pouch and used for yes and no decisions (or to determine guilt or innocence). According to various scribes who dictated the translation of the Book of Mormon for Joseph Smith, including Oliver Cowdery, he decifered the mysterious writing from the golden plates by burying his face into a hat containing a seer stone, which illuminated the inside of the hat and revealed parchment that contained the English words for the reformed Egyptian hieroglyphics inscribed on the plates resting nearby. Once each passage was correctly dictated another would appear, a process which took approximately one and a half years to translate word for word. Two primary conclusions may be drawn from this -- that Smith didn't understand the traditional and sacred use of Urim and Thummim and that, had they been authentic, there should have been no need for mistakes to be corrected in the Book of Mormon.
Unlike the Bible, the Book of Mormon lacks archaeological evidence to support its historical claims. Some Mormon scholars, including Dee F. Greene, have had to admit that this kind of proof does not exist and some, like B.H. Roberts and Thomas S. Ferguson, have even come to the conclusion that it had to have been a clever hoax. In 1965, the Smithsonian Institute issued an official statement regarding the Book of Mormon that there is "no direct connection between the archaeology of the New World and the subject matter of the book."
A sign of the divine truthfulness of the Book of Mormon on a personal level is a burning sensation in the bosom from the touch of God (Doctrine and Covenants 9:8). Isaiah 8:20, nonetheless, regards anything that is spoken of which is not in accordance to the word of the law and the testimony as having no light. Acts 17:11 praised the Bereans for not only receiving the gospel with eagerness, but for also examining the Scriptures daily to ensure that what the Apostle Paul was teaching was true -- Scripture that is sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrating even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow (Hebrews 4:12).
The Bible prophesies the Book of Mormon.
The LDS Church maintains that Ezekiel 37:16-17 is a prophecy of the Book of Mormon, wherein Ezekiel is told to take two sticks, one upon which is written the name of Judah and one with the name of Israel (for Joseph, the stick of Ephraim), and join them together to become one stick in his hand. Ezekiel chapter 37 explains that this was a prophecy of these two nations around the 6th century B.C., where Israel would return from Assyrian captivity to join Judah returning from Babylonian captivity. Mormons, on the other hand, claim that the two sticks were meant to be used for scrolls, the stick of Judah being the Bible and the stick of Joseph being the Book of Mormon, which were to become one as complimentary scriptures.
Mormons hold that the other sheep Jesus was referring to in John 10:16 were the Nephites in South America. This passage reads, "I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd." In Ephesians 2:11-22, the Apostle Paul reveals that these other sheep are, in fact, the Gentiles (non-Jews) who were to be converted after the death and resurrection of Christ.
Joseph Smith claims the Book of Mormon to be a fulfillment of Isaiah 29:11-12, regarding a sealed scroll which cannot be read. The passage, however, was in regards to prophecies against the cities of Israel, particularly Ephraim and Ariel.
Joseph Smith was a prophet.
Tenth president of the LDS Church, Joseph Fielding Smith, wrote that Mormonism "must stand or fall on the story of Joseph Smith. He was either a prophet of God, divinely called, properly appointed and commissioned, or he was one of the biggest frauds this world has ever seen" (Doctrines of Salvation, vol 1, p 188). Joseph Smith claimed to be a prophet, with promises from God that would be fulfilled (Doctrine and Covenants, 1:37-39), but not all of his prophecies came true. For example, he prophesied that Independence, Missouri, would be the city of Zion and that the faithful would be preserved there (Doctrine and Covenants 57:1-2, 62:6, 97:10-28), however, the Gentile settlers drove them out in 1833. To this, he prophesied that the U.S. Congress would be broken up as a government if it didn't grant protection to the Mormons (History of the Church, vol 6, p 116), which it didn't. He prophesied that his seed would possess his house in Nauvoo, Illinois, forever (Doctrine and Covenants 124:22-23, 59), but it was completely abandoned shortly after his death. He prophesied that the result of the Civil War would be international holocaust leading to the second coming of Christ (Doctrine and Covenants, section 87). He also prophesied more than once Christ's return to be before the turn of the 19th century (Documentary History of the Church). Of Smith's 65 to 70 recorded prophecies, less than 10% of them came to pass in due time. According to Deuteronomy 18:20-22 and Jeremiah 23:31-32, he would then be considered a false prophet. Mormon doctrine, however, maintains there is no salvation without accepting Joseph Smith as a prophet of God. Brigham Young stated in Journal of Discourses (vol 7, p 289) that none would enter God's celestial kingdom without the consent of Joseph Smith. He also stated that any spirit that did not confess that God revealed his gospel through Joseph Smith was of the Antichrist (vol 8, p 176).
In Doctrine and Covenants 130:14-17, Joseph Smith says, "I was once praying very earnestly to know the time of the coming of the Son of Man, when I heard a voice repeat the following: Joseph, my son, if thou livest until thou art eighty-five years old, thou shalt see the face of the Son of Man... I was left thus, without being able to decide whether this coming referred to the beginning of the millennium or to some previous appearing, or whether I should die and thus see his face. I believe the coming of the Son of Man will not be any sooner than that time." Regardless of whether or not this may be construed as a false prophecy, several other crucial errors may be derived from this passage regarding Smith's legitimacy as a true prophet. For one, he apparently failed to question the origin of the voice and just assumed it was from God. Second, he came to his own conclusion on what the prophecy meant, then asserted it as the outcome of the prophecy. (Both of these actions were punishable by death according to Deuteronomy 18:20.) Third, he proves his ignorance of his knowledge of Christ, who himself said regarding the coming of the Son of Man, "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father" (Mathew 24:36-39, also Mark 13:32). Jesus later told his disciples, when asked about the restoration of Israel, "It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority" (Acts 1:6-7).
Jesus' disciples failed.
The church that Christ established on earth was supposedly restored by Joseph Smith after two millennia of apostasy, even though Christ chose his disciples and appointed them to go and bear fruit that would last (John 15:16), that he would be with them always, to the very end of the age (Matthew 28:20), and the church that he promised his disciples he would build could not be overcome by the gates of hell (Matthew 16:18). Smith claimed that he was the only man to ever keep a whole church together, something that Jesus and his apostles failed to do (Documentary History of the Church, vol 6, pp 78, 408-409).
Jesus is not man's mediator with God.
Jesus is not a mediator between God and man, nor is it possible to have a personal relationship with him. According to Bruce McConkie, former LDS apostle, this kind of perilous belief is fanatical, holier-than-thou, sectarian nonsense for those who are spiritually immature ("Our Relationship with the Lord," BYU speech, 3/2/82). This accusation is in direct contradiction to 1 Timothy 2:5, "For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus..." True, Jesus did not say that he would ask the Father on our behalf (John 16:26), however, what he does say is that we are to ask in his name (John 16:23). Jesus said, "As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. Now remain in my love" (John 15:9). Jesus has a personal relationship with his Father, which he shares with those who believe in him (John 17:20-23). We are no longer considered his servants, but his friends (John 15:15).
Salvation does not come through the blood of Jesus shed upon the cross.
Mormons do not practice traditional communion, the taking of bread and wine in remembrance of Christ's broken body and shed blood on the cross of Calvary (Luke 22:19-20, 1 Corinthians 11:23-26). Instead, they practice communion with water, called the Sacrament, which washes away the blood shed on the cross. Mormonism teaches that Jesus suffered for the sins of mankind in the Garden of Gethsemane, where he prayed earnestly while his soul was in deep anguish and he sweat drops of blood (Matthew 26:36-44, Mark 14:32-39, Luke 22:39-44), sacrificing himself instead with a broken heart and contrite spirit (Book of Mormon, 3 Nephi 9:20).
The LDS Church does not promote the image of the cross. To them it is a sign of death and suffering, which Jesus ultimately overcame at the resurrection. The focus should not be on Christ crucified, but on the resurrection, ascension, and glorious reign of Christ. Even so, Jesus used this analogy before his death on the cross as a duty of all believers (Matthew 10:38, 16:24, Mark 8:34, Luke 9:23, 14:27). The Apostle Paul, whose writings contained things that were hard to understand (2 Peter 3:16), wrote that all his teachings came down to Christ crucified: "For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel -- not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power" (1 Corinthians 1:17-18); "When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified" (1 Corinthians 2:1-2); "You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified" (Galations 3:1).
Jesus's death was an acceptable atonement for the sins of mankind not because he was God incarnate, but because he led a sinless life on earth and was sufficiently humble and willing to perform that service. He is the "Father" of the spiritual rebirth of mankind and humankind's salvation. Jesus (Jehovah) and God (Elohim) are not one, but Jesus was simply the firstborn spirit and preeminent among all of God's spirit children. In Joseph Smith's reasoning, "Jesus said that the Father wrought precisely in the same way as His Father had done before Him. As the Father had done before. He laid down His life, and took it up the same as His Father had done before. He did as He was sent, to lay down His life and take it up again; and then was committed unto Him the keys. I know it is good reasoning" (Teaching of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p 370-373). This basically means that God had performed the same sacrifice before, on another planet, and Jesus was doing the same thing over again in the course of this repetitive cycle. To shed some light on this subject, Isaiah 43:11 says, "I, even I, am the LORD, and apart from me there is no savior" (also Hosea 13:4). This, then, would require Jesus to actually be God incarnate in order to be the savior of the world (Luke 19:10, John 4:42, Acts 4:12, 5:31, 13:23, Titus 1:4, 2:13, 3:4-6, 2 Peter 1:1, 11, 2:20, 3:18, 1 John 4:14), which he himself claimed to be (John 8:58, 10:30-33, 38, 14:6-7, 9-11, Revelation 1:8). He said to his disciple, Philip, "it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work" (John 14:10). Jesus also mentioned that the only father people had was God in heaven (Matthew 23:9), the same God that was his Father (John 8:54, 20:17).
According to Brigham Young, Christ's blood does not atone for all sins. In certain cases, a man's own blood must be shed for atonement ("blood atonement"). In the Journal of Discourses, volumes 3 and 4, Brigham Young gives examples of such instances, including murder, and says, "There is not a man or woman, who violates the covenants made with their God, that will not be required to pay the debt. The blood of Christ will never wipe that out, your own blood must atone for it... This is loving our neighbor as ourselves; if he needs help, help him; and if he wants salvation and it is necessary to spill his blood on the earth in order that it may be saved, spill it." Although Jesus did say that the one unpardonable sin was blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (Matthew 12:32, Mark 3:29), and 1 Corinthians 11:29 states in regards to the bread and the cup, "For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself," regardless, there is nothing biblical about man's own blood atoning for his sin. On the contrary, Hebrews 7:27 says that "he sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself" and Hebrews 10:10 restates that "we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all." How can our blood atone for anything when Christ's blood "speaks a better word than the blood of Abel," (Hebrews 12:24), which is the blood of the lamb "without blemish or defect" (1 Peter 1:19)? 1 John 1:7 proclaims that the blood of Jesus purifies us from all sin.
Jesus died for all and all will be redeemed regardless of whether or not everyone accepts this. Contrary to this LDS belief is John 3:36, "Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him." Hebrews 9:26-28 and 1 John 5:11-12 also attest to this.
Salvation comes only through obedience to the law.
Although salvation by grace is emphasized, the way of salvation for Latter-day Saints mandates adherence to specific principles, covenants, rituals, and ordinances set forth by Joseph Smith. The LDS Church Articles of Faith states that all mankind may be saved through the atonement of Christ "by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel." Only by following these laws can believers advance to eternal life. Contrary to this, Colossians 2:13-15 explains that Christ cancelled the written code with its regulations on the cross. Galations 2:16 states that "we put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified." Romans 3:28 states, "For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law." Galations chapter 3 explains this in greater detail and adds, "all who rely on observing the law are under a curse." Romans 9:16 says, "It does not, therefore, depend on man's desire or effort, but on God's mercy," and Titus 3:5 reiterates this with, "he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy." It is this free gift of salvation by mercy that prompts believers in return to "be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good" (Titus 3:8). The Apostle Paul, who had much to boast about (2 Corinthians 11:16-30), said, "May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world" (Galations 6:14). Joseph Smith, on the other hand, was quoted in the official LDS History of the Church as saying, "I have more to boast of than ever any man had... I boast that no man ever did such a work as I." Ephesians 2:8 says, "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith -- and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God -- not by works, so that no one can boast."
Mormon missionaries will often speak of salvation, even questioning the salvation of Christians. According to Doctrine and Covenants 132:6, if they themselves do not abide by the entire law of Mormon scripture, then they are damned. This includes strict adherence to "all covenants, contracts, bonds, obligations, oaths, vows, performances, connections, associations, and expectations" (132:7). Therefore, their salvation is not certain until they have completely fulfilled the law by the end of their lifetime. For Christians, however, salvation is not through the law, but a free gift for those who believe (Romans, chapters 3 and 4).
God is man.
According to Doctrine and Covenants 130:22, God is a perfected and exalted man, made of flesh and bones as tangible as ours. Yet, according to John 4:24, Jesus said that God is spirit (Greek pneuma), and again, according to 2 Corinthians 3:17, Paul says that the Lord is the Spirit (pneuma). In Luke 24:39, Jesus says upon his resurrection that he was not a ghost (pneuma), "which does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have." 1 Corinthians 15:42-44 also teaches that the perishable body is sown as a natural body but raised as an imperishable, spiritual one (pneumatikos). When Jesus asked his disciples who he was and Peter answered that he was the Christ, the Son of the living God, Jesus replied, "Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven" (Matthew 16:17, KJV). Hosea 11:9 also attests that God is not a man, as does Numbers 23:19, nor a son of man.
God is married and has sexual relations.
Mormons teach that God is a procreating father with a divine mother-wife, or Heavenly Mother, who shares in creation and procreation. It is necessary to breed spiritual offspring, since it is through their worship and obedience that he is sustained as a god. There is, however, no mention in the Bible of a divine mother or of a heavenly wife, only warnings not to worship a pagan god known as the Queen of Heaven (Jeremiah 7:16-19, 44:15-25). The only spiritual bride is the church of Christ (2 Corinthians 11:2, Ephesians 5:22-33, Revelation 19:7). John 1:1-18 explains that through Christ "all things are made; without him nothing was made that has been made," and then goes on to reveal that "though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him" and "to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God -- children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God." Hebrews chapter 1 explains that, unlike the angels, Jesus is the only begotten Son, and through him all things are sustained by his powerful word. Zechariah 12:1 also states that God forms the spirit of man within him.
God physically impregnated the virgin Mary in order to beget Jesus. According to Brigham Young, God took on human form as Adam, who is also the archangel Michael, our father and our God (Journal of Discourses, vol 1, p 50), who helped in the creation of the world. According to Matthew 1:18-20 and Luke 1:35, however, the virgin conception came about through the Holy Spirit. If it had not, it would not have been the virgin birth prophesied in Isaiah 7:14. Even using Mormon reasoning, it remains questionable how Adam, as an exalted god with a physical body in the celestial kingdom, could also be at the same time Michael, a ministering angel with a spiritual body in the terrestial kingdom (Daniel 10:13, 12:1). To disregard Young's teaching on this, and maintain instead that God the Father physically impregnated Mary, would mean that God violated his own commandment not to have sexual relations with any close relative (Leviticus 18:6), since Mary was supposedly already a spirit offspring of God. How could a God who does this and punish angels for doing the same thing (Genesis 6:1-4, 2 Peter 2:4) then require us to be holy as he is holy (Leviticus 11:44-45, 19:2, 20:7, 1 Peter 1:15-16)?
Man can become God.
God was once human, who progressed to godhood. We, too, as humans may become as he now is, even gods unto ourselves -- a Mormon doctrine known as exaltation ("As man is, God once was; as God is, man may become," Lorenzo Snow, fifth LDS president). Christ was exalted to godhood through obedience to God's commands. This is in contradiction to Isaiah 43:10, "Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me," and Isaiah 44:6, "I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God" (also Isaiah 45:5, 14, 21-22, and 46:9). Malachi 3:6 plainly states, "I the LORD do not change." Psalm 106:48 blesses the LORD God, who is from everlasting to everlasting and Psalm 90:2 says that "from everlasting to everlasting you are God." According to Philippians 2:6-7, Christ was God before becoming a man. Although Christ became a man and ascended to the right hand of God (Mark 16:19, Luke 22:69, Acts 2:32-36, 5:30-31, 7:55-56, Romans 8:34, Ephesians 1:21-22, Colossians 3:1, Hebrews 1:3, 8:1, 12:2, 1 Peter 3:22), his nature never changes ("Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever," Hebrews 13:8). He did not simply become a god, but is God incarnate (John 1:1-18). 1 Corinthians 15:50 also tells us that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God. Besides all this, the Book of Mormon even states that God is unchanging (Mormon 9:9-11, Moroni 8:18, "he is unchangeable from all eternity to all eternity").
Mormon believers do not go to heaven to be with Christ, but are granted their own planet to populate with their eternal spouses. Celestial marriages, or sealings, are conducted in Mormon temples to unite couples into eternal matrimony. In John 14:2-3, Jesus tells his disciples that he is going to his Father's house, where there are many rooms, to prepare a place for them and that he would take them there to be with him ("if it were not so, I would have told you"). When God originally established marriage, it was the union of man and woman into one flesh (Genesis 2:24), not one spirit. Matthew 22:30 and Mark 12:24-25 both record Jesus as accusing the Sadducees of being in error of the Scriptures by not realizing that at the resurrection people will not marry nor be given in marriage. The same account in Luke 20:35 says that those who are worthy of taking part in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage. Smith contradicts this in Doctrine and Covenants 132:16 by charging that those who are married eternally are "worthy of a far more, and an exceeding, and an eternal weight of glory."
According to Doctrine and Covenants (chapter 76), there are varying progressions of ascension for all people, known as degrees of glory: telestial, for those who never received the gospel and many who abstained from carnal evil; terrestial, for approximately 3/4 of the lesser Mormon believers and those who accept Mormonism in the grave, who become ministering angels; and celestial, with subdivisions differentiating between single and married Mormons and priests in the order of Melchizedeck, who become gods. Everyone goes to some level of heaven after death, since Christ's death atoned for all, even those who do not believe. Although there is a hell, it is not eternal and is only one of the routes to the telestial kingdom, reserved primarily for members of historic Christian churches (this is purgatory, where ministering angels are sent from the terrestial kingdom to convert unrepentant souls). The sons of perdition -- primarily those who were once Mormon but rejected it -- are the only hopeless ones who will go into the lake of fire. In contrast to this, Jesus only taught of two destinations after death: either heaven or hell (Matthew 13:30, 37-43, 47-50). There are two divisions, those who are chosen for eternal life and those who are sentenced to eternal punishment (Matthew 25:31-46). "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it" (Matthew 7:13-14). According to John 3:16-18, Jesus is the only way to eternal life.
In one of Joseph Smith's last recorded sermons, known as the King Follett Discourse (The Teachings of the Prophet, Joseph Smith, p 342-362), Smith said the following, "...you have got to learn how to be Gods yourselves... namely, by going from one small degree to another, and from a small capacity to a great one; from grace to grace, from exaltation to exaltation, until you attain to the resurrection of the dead, and are able to dwell in everlasting burnings, and to sit in glory, as do those who sit enthroned in everlasting power." Biblically, this is no less than the aspirations of Lucifer (Isaiah 14:13-14), who sought to attain to the throne of God and, as a result, was cast into everlasting fire (Revelation 20:10).
God is ever learning and improving.
LDS theology upholds that, although omniscient, God is ever increasing his knowledge through access to the experience and knowledge of all divine beings (a grand union of divine minds), as part of his continuing progression and in order to expand his experience and attain to greater degrees of exaltation. Yet, Job 21:22 asks, "Can anyone teach knowledge to God, since he judges even the highest?" and Psalm 94:10-11 asks, "Does he who teaches man lack knowledge?" Isaiah 40:13-14 asks the rhetorical question, "Who has understood the mind of the LORD, or instructed him as his counselor? Whom did the LORD consult to enlighten him, and who taught him the right way? Who was it that taught him knowledge or showed him the path of understanding?" The Lord does not need to attain to greater degrees of exaltation, for he is the "Most High over all the earth" and "exalted far above all gods" (Psalms 97:9). He is "exalted over all nations" (Psalms 99:2) and exalted "above the heavens" (Psalm 108:5). "His name alone is exalted" (Psalm 148:13). Colossians 2:2-3 reveals that the mystery of God is Christ, "in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." Christ lacks nothing, he fills everything in every way (Ephesians 1:23) and he is exalted to the right hand of God (Acts 2:33, 5:31). Through Christ, God is fully exalted. "Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Philippians 2:9-11).
The Israelites inhabited the Americas.
According to the Book of Mormon, the inhabitants of the Americas who emigrated from Israel were descendants of the tribe of Joseph (1 Nephi 5:14, Alma 10:3), who had multiple temples (Alma 16:13, 23:2, 26:29) with multiple high priests (Alma 13:10) and were said to observe all things according to the laws of Moses (2 Nephi 5:10). By biblical standards, none of this was even possible. According to 1 Kings 8:44, 14:21, 11:13, 36, 2 Kings 21:7, and 2 Chronicles 6:1-11, 7:16, Jerusalem was the only location for the Lord's sole temple. According to Psalm 78:67-69, the Lord rejected the tents of Joseph and chose Judah for his sanctuary. According to Leviticus 16:32-33, 21:10, and Joshua 20:6, there was only one high priest. According to Numbers chapter 3 and 18, only descendants from the tribe of Levi were allowed to serve as priests in the temple (anyone else would die).
Mormons have replaced the Levitical priesthood.
The priesthood of Aaron no longer extends through the lineage of Levi, but through all Mormon males age 14 and older, and only LDS prophets receive authoritative revelation from God. There is, however, according to Hebrews chapter 7, no need for this priesthood due to the eternal priesthood of Christ. Even so, Christ has torn the temple curtain (Matthew 27:51) that separates God's people from the Most Holy Place (Exodus 26:31-35) and made priests of all who believe (1 Peter 2:5, 2:9, Revelation 1:6, 5:10).
Mormon elders are considered priests in the order of Melchizedek (with authority to bestow salvation), a position, according to the Bible, which is reserved for Christ alone (Hebrews 5:6-10, 6:20, 7:11-28). "Such a high priest meets our need -- one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens... For the law appoints as high priests men who are weak; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever." (Hebrews 7:26, 28)
LDS temples host the most sacred of ceremonies.
LDS temples are considered sacred and, after being dedicated, are open only to worthy Mormons for the purpose of temple ordinances (baptism for the dead, ceremonial washings and anointings, sealings of eternal marriages, and initiation ceremonies called endowments). The temple ordinances are considered by the LDS Church to be the most holy events that can be performed on earth. In contrast to this is Hebrews 13:9-16, which warns not to be carried away by strange teachings and reminds those who believe in Jesus that his blood was shed outside the temple to make them holy and that they are to bear the disgrace he bore outside the city gate, the sacrifices of which include doing good, sharing with others, and the praise of lips that confess his name. Besides, the true temples of Christ are not buildings made by men, but the individual bodies of believing Christians (1 Corinthians 3:16-17, "Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroy's God's temple, God will destroy him; for God's temple is sacred, and you are that temple."). Ephesians 2:21 says that this temple is built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. Christ literally tore the veil of the temple upon the cross (Matthew 27:51, Mark 15:38, Luke 23:45), thus removing the sacred, physical barrier between us and the Holy of Holies (Exodus 26:33, Leviticus 16:2, 21:16-23, Hebrews 10:19-20). Hebrews chapter 9 explains that the temple rituals of the Old Testament were only external regulations applying until the time of the New Testament of Christ.
Joseph Smith became a Mason in 1842. Many LDS temple rituals, ceremonies, gestures, initiation rights, and oaths of secrecy closely resemble those of Freemasonry, including secret keys, names, handshakes, sacred aprons, ceremonial strippings and washings, protective garments, celestial marriages, and passwords necessary to enter the celestial kingdom. Shared temple images include the all-seeing eye, the beehive, and the square, compass and rule, to name just a few. Up until 1990, temple rituals also included blood oaths. The Mormon temple endowment is the most sacred LDS ritual performed, wherein those few who are deemed worthy are bestowed the holy gifts of wisdom, sanctification, and power from on high.
God and Jesus are separate beings.
The LDS Church maintains that the Old Testament name for God is Elohim and for Jesus is Jehovah, the two being considered separate personages. Based on the King James Version Bible, Jehovah is another transliterative name for Yawheh (Hebrew YHWH, "I AM" -- Exodus 3:14), also rendered as LORD. The KJV generally renders Elohim simply as God. The problem for Mormonism is that the two are used together (LORD God) 518 times in the Old Testament, referring only to the one divine entity. Even more puzzling are the references in the Book of Mormon to Christ and God as just one personage (2 Nephi 11:7, 26:12, Mosiah 7:27, 15:1-5, Alma 11:38-39, 3 Nephi 11:27).
Judas was murdered.
Journal of Discourses, vol 6, p 125-126, claims that Judas Iscariot was murdered by the eleven remaining apostles who kicked him until his bowels came out. Accounts of his death in Matthew 27:4-5 and Acts 1:16-20 record that he killed himself after realizing that he had betrayed innocent blood.
Consumption of certain foods is forbidden.
Doctrine and Covenants, section 89, contains the revelation to Joseph Smith known as the "Word of Wisdom," wherein the personal use of liquor, hot beverages, and tobacco is prohibited to the saints. Brigham Young confirmed hot beverages to be coffee and tea and enforced the revelation as a commandment. This later came to include other sources of caffeine, such as soft drinks. Also recommended in this revelation was the partaking of meat sparingly and only during the winter, cold, or times of famine and excess hunger -- basically, as an alternate food source to grain. Although a commendable lifestyle, 1 Timothy 4:1-5 considers such teachings as abstinence from certain foods to come through hypocritical liars and taught by demons. 1 Corinthians 6:12 states, "Everything is permissible for me -- but not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible for me -- but I will not be mastered by anything." The Apostle Paul explains that although no food is unclean and that the consumption of which is a personal matter, it should not be done if it causes guilt or has adverse effects on fellow believers, thus causing them to fall (Romans 14:13-23).
Mormon converts receive a spiritual blood transfusion.
Early LDS Church leaders maintained they were direct descendants of either Ephraim or Manassah, the sons of Joseph, while Gentile converts received a spiritual blood transfusion. In Documentary History of the Church, volume 3, Joseph Smith writes that "the effect of the Holy Ghost upon a Gentile, is to purge out the old blood, and make him actually of the seed of Abraham." In the Journal of Discourses, volume 2, Brigham Young explains how "the Gentile blood was actually cleansed out of their veins, and the blood of Jacob made to circulate in them." Romans chapter 4 teaches simply that Abraham is the father of us all, both of the law and of the faith. Galations chapter 3 teaches that Abraham's seed is Christ and that those who believe are children of Abraham through faith. "In other words, it is not the natural children who are God's children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham's offspring" (Romans 9:8). The Apostle Paul also described Gentiles as being grafted into the lineage of Abraham (Romans 11:17-21), whereby they are supported.
According to the Pearl of Great Price, we are all born in heaven as spirits before we are born on earth and are spiritual siblings with Christ and Satan (Moses chapter 4, and Journal of Discourses, volume 13). 1 Corinthians 15:45-49, on the other hand, declares that although there is a natural body and a spiritual body, the earthly one, formed from the dust, comes first. This body then returns to the dust from which it came (Genesis 3:19, Psalm 90:3). Zechariah 12:1 says that God forms the spirit of man within him.
The Garden of Eden was located in North America.
According to Joseph Smith in Doctrine and Covenants, sections 116 and 117:8, the Garden of Eden was believed to have been located in Jackson County, Missouri. Adam and Eve fled to Daviess County, Missouri, after being expelled (also known as Adam-ondi-Ahman). Adam will one day return to visit his people as the Ancient of Days, as spoken of by Daniel the prophet. According to the account of the creation of the Garden of Eden in Genesis 1:8-14, however, it was located somewhere in the Euphrates Valley in ancient Mesopotamia, most likely modern day Iraq in the northern Persian Gulf region. The Ancient of Days spoken of in Daniel 9:7-14 is one who judges, according to Daniel 7:22, John 12:47, and Revelation 20:11-12, and God is this judge, according to John 8:49-50, Romans 2:16, 2 Timothy 4:8, Hebrews 12:23, James 4:12, Jude 1:14-15, and Revelation 6:10. The power to judge, in turn, has only been granted to Christ (John 5:22).
There was no original sin.
Adam did right by eating of the forbidden fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil because it enabled him to father the human race. He and Eve could not remain innocent and bear earthly children to embody the spirits of God's heavenly children. He transgressed in order to open his eyes and make way for humanity the contrasting experiences of mortality (Book of Mormon 2 Nephi 2:23-25, Pearl of Great Price Moses 5:10-12). The fall of man was a blessing in disguise (Doctrines of Salvation, vol 1 p 113-115). He was baptized by the Holy Spirit and made a son of God in the order of his eternal essence (Moses 6:64-68). First, although Adam and Eve's eyes were opened to the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 3:22), their act was viewed by God as sin (Romans 5:12) and they were cursed as a result (Genesis 3:16-19, 23). Adam's sin brought condemnation and death to the world (Romans 5:12-19). Second, Adam and Eve were told to be fruitful and increase in number before being disobedient (Genesis 1:28). Third, Adam was only a pattern for Christ (Romans 5:14), who was the last Adam, a life-giving spirit (1 Corinthians 15:45-46). Adam died (Genesis 5:5), yet it is only through Christ that we are raised from death as imperishable spirit (1 Corinthians 15:42-44).
Because, as the LDS Church maintains, there was no original sin, sin is not inherited and, therefore, people are not born into sin. The Bible, on the other hand, says in Psalm 51:5 that we are conceived and born into sin. When Adam and Eve originally sinned, they introduced death into the world (Genesis 3:19). Romans 5:12 says, "Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned -- for before the law was given, sin was in the world." This means that sin is, in fact, the inherent nature of us all (Isaiah 53:6, Ephesians 2:3), as a result of the original sin of Adam (1 Corinthians 15:22), and as manifested through the laws of Moses (Romans chapter 7), which are the laws of sin and death (Romans 8:2).
Satan was on equal ground as Jesus.
According to the The Pearl of Great Price (Moses 4:1-4 and Abraham 3:27-28), Lucifer was in contention with Jesus to be the son of God and the savior of the world. When Jesus was chosen for this role, Lucifer rebelled and was cast down. Biblically, according to Isaiah 14:12-15, Lucifer was in contention for the throne of God, not the salvation of the world. He was Satan, the ancient serpent called the devil (Revelation 12:9, 20:2). 1 John 3:8 reports that the devil was sinning from the beginning and that the reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil's work.
Proxy baptism is performed for the salvation of the dead.
In accordance with 1 Corinthians 15:29 and Hebrews 11:40, baptism is performed for pre-Mormon ancestors and those who have died outside the LDS Church in order to allow them to enter a celestial state from the dead, which is done by baptizing a live person as a substitute for the soul of the dead individual (proxy baptism). This is the result of a revelation given to the sixth LDS president, Joseph F. Smith, in 1918 (Doctrine and Covenants, section 138 -- "vicarious baptism," 138:33), and is based on 1 Peter 3:18-20 and 4:6, where Jesus was thought to have preached the gospel to the dead after being crucified. Joseph F. Smith saw the spirits of the dead and pondered how Jesus could have witnessed to them in such short time before his resurrection, then concluded that it was the duty of the living saints to assist in the salvation of the spirits of deceased unbelievers. (Marriage ceremonies are also performed to unite the dead with the living for the same purpose.) 1 Corinthians 15:29 reads, "Now if there is no resurrection, what will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized for them?" The Apostle Paul's argument in chapter 15 was in regards to the Greeks' lack of understanding about the resurrection, of which many didn't believe (Acts 17:32), and verse 29 was a retorical question in regards to a misapplied practice of baptism by some who were "in ignorance of God" (verse 34), who denied the resurrection, yet engaged in a baptismal practice based on the hope of it. 1 Peter 3:18-20 doesn't specifically say that Jesus preached to the dead during the three days between crucifixion and resurrection, but alludes to this event as happening after being made alive by the Spirit -- nor does it specifically target the spirits of the dead, but the "spirits in prison" from the days of Noah, most likely the angels who sinned and were imprisoned as mentioned in 2 Peter 2:4, which was a reference to Genesis 6:1-4. Jesus' account of the rich man and the beggar in Luke 16:19-31 plainly indicates that there is no spiritual holding cell, but either eternal torment or rest, and that there is a great chasm between the living and the dead that cannot be transcended.
Approximately 80% of Mormon temple rituals are dedicated to proxy baptisms and marriages. All Mormon saints are required to redeem the dead of their unsaved ancestors at least four generations back, along with performing proxy baptisms for random names from the vast LDS genealogical database of the deceased. The LDS Church has undertaken extensive genealogical research for the purpose of the assimilation of literally hundreds of millions of proxy baptisms of the deceased (in an attempt to go all the way back to Adam), regardless of their faith or religious affiliation while alive. Under the Genealogical Society of Utah, the Family History Library, with over 1,000 branches worldwide, has filed over 1.5 billion deceased persons. Contrary to this practice was Timothy's command to certain men to not devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote controversies, rather than God's work (1 Timothy 1:3-4). Even so, in contradiction to the LDS practice of proxy baptism, the Book of Mormon clearly states that the opportunity for salvation comes only during life on earth, after which it's too late (Alma 34:31-35, Helaman 13:38).
The God of Earth is just one of many gods.
Joseph Smith interprets Genesis 1:1, "In the beginning the head of the Gods brought forth the Gods," or, "The head of the Gods called the Gods together." This teaching is evident throughout the fourth and fifth chapters of the Book of Abraham in the Pearl of Great Price, wherein Smith refers to the makers of all creation as "the Gods." His interpretation of this is derived from the Hebrew word Elohim (God in the plural). In a sermon on the plurality of gods, Joseph Smith preached, "In the very beginning the Bible shows there is a plurality of Gods beyond the power of refutation. It is a great subject I am dwelling on. The word Eloheim ought to be in the plural all the way through - Gods. The heads of the Gods appointed one God for us; and when you take view of the subject, it sets one free to see all the beauty, holiness and perfection of the Gods... the doctrine of a plurality of Gods is as prominent in the Bible as any other doctrine. It is all over the face of the Bible." (Teaching of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p 370-373). Most Christians do recognize Elohim as plural, however, this is not a pantheistic view of deity, but God the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, unified as one and together creating the heavens and the earth. Isaiah 44:6-8 declares that apart from the LORD Almighty there is no God, he knows not one. He declares to his prophet Jeremiah, "These gods, who did not make the heavens and the earth, will perish from the earth and from under the heavens" (Jeremiah 10:11). Deuteronomy 13:1-5 also warns of rebellious prophets whose prophecies may be fulfilled, but if they encourage belief in other gods, then they themselves are not to be believed.
There is no such thing as the Trinity.
The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are not one and the same, but three separate and distinct gods -- individuals who are united only in thought, action, and purpose. This is the Godhead, or the "supreme presidency of the universe" (the president and his two counselors). Joseph Smith teaches, "Many men say there is one God; the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost are only one God! I say that is a strange God anyhow - three in one, and one in three! It is a curious organization. 'Father, I pray not for the world, but I pray for them which thou hast given me.' 'Holy Father, keep through Thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one as we are.' All are to be crammed into one God, according to sectarianism. It would make the biggest God in all the world. He would be a wonderfully big God - he would be a giant or a monster" (Teaching of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p 370-373). According to the Mormons, traditional doctrine of the Trinity which maintains that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are unified as one God is not only false, but one of the greatest heresies of traditional Christianity. Again, this is also contrary to the Book of Mormon, which states in 2 Nephi 31:21, Alma 11:44, and 3 Nephi 11:27 that the three are one God.
"But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them -- bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping."
(2 Peter 2:1-3)
For Latter-day Saints to deny the teachings of the church's founders and early leaders is to either forget their history or to re-create the foundation upon which the LDS Church was built. As one early Mormon dissenter wrote, "Many of us have sought a reformation in the church, without a public exposition of the enormities of crimes practiced by its leaders, thinking that if they would harken to counsel, and shew fruit meet for repentance, it would be as acceptable with God" (Nauvoo Expositor, June 7, 1844). This seems to be the attitude the LDS Church has adopted in the past few decades, concentrating efforts on keeping the truth from its own members. It is not that a legitimate church is struggling to rise from troubled beginnings, but that the LDS Church is merely mutating and adapting to its environment in order to survive. To defend against their history of persecution in the United States, it is necessary to remember LDS doctrines and attitudes towards the "Gentiles" that surrounded them, which were nothing short of elitist and threatening.
The LDS Church upholds protection of its apostles, leaders, and officials and will not allow anything to be published by its members that may be damaging to the church, regardless of truth. Yet, according to Revelation 2:2, the church at Ephesus was praised by the Lord for not tolerating wicked men and testing "those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false." Here are just a few more of the many controversial issues regarding the teachings and history of the Latter-day Saints:
Joseph Smith was considered a model deacon.
Joseph Smith, Jr., was self-elected president, bishop, and overseer of the LDS Church and its deacons, apostles, priests, teachers, bishops, elders, officials, presidents, and the whole church, to "be like unto Moses" (Doctrine and Covenants 107:85-99). However, according to the qualifications of a church overseer in 1 Timothy 3, and based on his history of personal conduct, Smith hardly qualified. "Here is a trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer [traditionally, bishop], he desires a noble task. Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money... He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil's trap" (1 Timothy 3:1-7). None of these qualified Joseph Smith as a church leader.
According to historical accounts, Joseph Smith, Jr., was, by all means, a narcissistic megalomaniac. Uneducated, but by no means unintelligent, he had the reputation of being a teller of tall tales. Along with the title of president of the Latter-day Saints, he appointed himself to Lieutenant-General of his own Illinois army in 1842, was ordained "King and Ruler over Israel" by the Council of Fifty in 1844, and mandated his authority as God to the Mormons in the Lord's stead, whether they liked it or not (History of the Church, vol 6). He also ran for U.S. president in 1844, shortly before his assassination. In opposition to this stance is Christ's admonition to his disciples that "if anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all" (Mark 9:35) and "whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave -- just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many" (Matthew 20:26-28, Mark 10:43-44).
Polygamy is a command of Mormon scripture.
Joseph Smith had a revelation in 1831 that plural marriages, or marriages with more than one wife, were permissible. Regardless that it was considered a wicked practice and forbidden according to the Book of Mormon (Jacob 1:15, 2:24-27, 3:5), as a leader, Smith claimed he was allowed more than one wife based on Old Testament accounts of plural marriages among God's rulers, most notably those of Abraham, Jacob, David, and Solomon (Doctrine and Covenants 132). This became known as the Patriarchal Law of Abraham. Despite the admonition in 1 Timothy 3:2 and Titus 1:6 of an overseer to be the husband of but one wife, Smith supposedly had somewhere between 33 and 43 wives, some of whom were married to other church leaders and some of whom were related to one another. Although secret amongst the leaders at first, Smith began promoting it openly in the 1840s. The church began teaching it publicly in 1852 and, under Brigham Young's leadership, it became rampant, with reports of inter-family marriages and wife swapping. Young, who had around 55 wives and believed monogamy to be a flaw of Christianity, declared, "The only men who become Gods, even the Sons of God, are those who enter into polygamy" (Journal of Discourses, vol 11, p 269). Some early LDS Church leaders even taught that Jesus had many wives and children while he lived on earth. In 1886, third LDS president John Taylor had a revelation that the Law of Abraham was an everlasting covenant never to be revoked, however, due to public hostility, along with severe pressure from the federal government (including the imprisonment of hundreds of polygamist Mormons), a revelation in 1890 to the fourth president of the LDS Church led to a supposed end of the practice of plural marriage (Wilford Woodruff's Manifesto of 1890, Doctrine and Covenants, Declaration 1). In 1904, after over a decade of continued polygamous marriages, another manifesto was issued by president Joseph F. Smith, after which the LDS Church began excommunicating polygamist members. In 1906, a federal senate investigation (Smoot hearings) concluded that a majority of the LDS leaders were living in polygamous cohabitation. Plural marriage ceremonies were no longer officially conducted after 1920, although a third manifesto was issued in 1933 by LDS president Heber J. Grant, who himself had three concurrent wives. Although there remain various Mormon clans that continue to practice polygamy, the current, official LDS stance on plural marriages is that it is not allowed. Still, plural marriage doctrine remains in LDS scripture and claims it will not only be permitted in the afterlife, but will be resumed on earth after Christ's return. Latter-day Saints who deny this teaching are damned (Doctrine and Covenants 132:4), and those who do not abide by this law cannot attain to everlasting glory (Doctrine and Covenants 132:21).
The LDS Church counterfeited money.
In 1836, the LDS Church began printing its own bank notes without a federal license and no precious metals to back it. The following year, after nearly $150,000 of the money had been distributed throughout the midwest, Joseph Smith and his banking associate, Sidney Rigdon, were found guilty of violating Ohio state banking laws. A warrant was later issued for Smith's arrest for bank fraud. In 1838, he and Rigdon fled to Far West, Missouri, leaving behind the LDS Church headquarters in Kirtland, Ohio, amidst a riotous dissention of its members. Arrest warrants were also issued against Brigham Young on counterfeiting charges, who hid from federal marshals and was able to evade them after the exodus to Utah in 1846.
Joseph Smith forged ancient texts.
The Book of Abraham was translated in 1835 by Joseph Smith from papyrus fragments containing Egyptian illustrations and hieroglyphics. Smith declared the writings to have originated from Abraham, cerca 2,000 B.C., and Jacob's son, Joseph. He claimed them to be a record of Abraham's calling by the Lord, including face to face conversations between Abraham and God, the pre-existant nature of human spirits, the creation of the Earth by multiple gods, and an account of the great star Kolob near the throne of God. Canonized in 1880 and included in the Pearl of Great Price, the Book of Abraham parchments were discovered in 1967 and identified as copies of the Book of Breathings and Book of the Dead, both from Egyptian funeral texts written some time around the second century B.C., containing the magic spells of ancient Egyptian burial rights with pictures of various Egyptian gods of the afterlife, such as Osiris, Isis, Maat, Sobek, and Anubis. The text was also determined to be less than 100 words, but Smith somehow derived an entire book out of it.
The LDS church is above the laws of the national government.
Contrary to Paul's exhortation to obey the government (Romans 13:1-5) and regardless of Joseph Smith's proclamation in Doctrine and Covenants 58:21-22, "Let no man break the laws of the land, for he that keepeth the laws of God hath no need to break the laws of the land. Wherefore, be subject to the powers that be..." (also 98:4-6, section 134, and Articles of Faith, verse 12), in 1852, Brigham Young declared of himself and the LDS Church, "I live above the law, and so do this people" (Journal of Discourses, vol 1 p 361). Mormons in Missouri in 1838 raised an internal army, known as the Danites (later to become Brigham Young's Destroying Angels), which were regarded by Joesph Smith as above state and local laws in carrying out whatever means necessary to keep the peace internally and protect from outside forces. Initiates were not to judge the morality of their orders from the president, but to accomplish their duties by all means and trust God for the result. Various counties subsequently voted for the Mormons to leave, the defiance of which eventually led to the violent expulsion of all Mormons by the Missouri army (to include the Haun's Mill Massacre of nearly twenty Mormons by Gentile vigilantes). Later, when Smith was mayor of Nauvoo, Illinois, he established a city ordinance that protected him from arrest due to extradition orders from Missouri, which included attempted murder charges on the governor who had them expelled from Missouri. Under Brigham Young's leadership, the Mormons outwardly condemned the U.S. government and took oaths as part of the temple endowment ceremony to carry out hostilities against the federal government to avenge the blood of Joseph Smith and to teach their children to do the same. In 1857, Brigham Young issued a proclamation as governor forbidding U.S. troops from entering Utah. All of the early LDS presidents prophesied destruction on the U.S. presidents, senate, and congress, primarily due to the legislative and military consequences of their defiance of federal laws.
Joseph Smith prophesied that the day would come when the U.S. Constitution would hang by a thread and that the leadership of the Latter-day Saints would rescue it from utter destruction. This belief is held today, along with the understanding that this prophesy presumes a change in U.S. government whereby the Saints will rule as a Mormon theocracy.
Dark skinned people are cursed.
According to the Book of Moses in The Pearl of Great Price, dark-skinned people are descended from Cain and are cursed because of his evil deed. Early Mormonist beliefs held that pre-existent souls that either rebelled with Lucifer, were lacking valor in the heavenly battle, or were indifferent, were assigned to varying degrees of dark-skinned, mortal bodies -- the darker the skin, the more the curse, black being the most accursed through the lineage of Cain. Brigham Young said that blacks were deprived of the blessings of the intelligence that is generally bestowed upon mankind, cursed as the servant of servants, and marked with the flat nose and black skin (Journal of Discourses, vol 7, p 290). Until recently, African Americans were not allowed to become Mormon priests or enter Mormon temples. After much protest and pressure during the civil rights movement from foreign missionaries, Mormon churches of varying ethnicities, black U.S. churches, and the NAACP (along with further revelation), the curse was lifted in 1978 (Doctrine and Covenants, Declaration 2).
Native American Indians were considered descendants of the Lamanites of South America (conquering enemies of the Nephites), also cursed with dark skin so that they wouldn't be attractive to the Nephites and inter-marry (Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 5:21-22). Believing the Native Americans to be descendants of the Israelites, in 1831 Joseph Smith began encouraging inter-marriages with Native American women in order that the skin of their offspring may become white and attractive (2 Nephi 30:6-7, the word "pure" replaced "white" in 1981). Any prejudice aside, the notion that the Indians of the Americas were descendants of the tribes of Israel was fairly popular before Smith's publications. Ethan Smith's View of the Hebrews, 1823, and Josiah Priest's The Wonders of Nature and Providence Displayed, 1825, are two examples that bear similar theories to the origins of the Native Americans in Smith's 1830 Book of Mormon.
The original revealer of the golden plates of Moroni are disputed.
Early LDS written accounts do not all agree with who or what Joseph Smith saw in his first vision, when he saw it, if it was the entity in the vision who accused all churches of being an abomination or Smith's own opinion, or if the golden books were really scriptural in origin and spiritually endowed -- least of all the writings of Smith himself (Richard Abanes, One Nation Under Gods, p 16-17, 46-53). According to this account in the Pearl of Great Price, History 1:17-20, Smith refers to the two entities of light simply as the "Personages," one of whom was a "Beloved Son." Early accounts from Smith's immediate family and members of his community indicate that the initial vision may have simply been a man with a long beard, telling Smith where to find a book that would reveal the valuable belongings of ancient inhabitants buried nearby (p 47-50). Once it was determined that a book about the native inhabitants of the area might bring in more money, the story behind the visions and the golden plates evolved and began to transform into a new religion amidst an atmosphere of spiritual revival. It should be important to note that Mormonism began during America's second "Great Awakening," an evangelical period when religious experimentation flourished. This period also fostered Unitarianism, Christian Science, Bahaism, and the Jehovah's Witnesses.
A sample of the reformed Egyptian hieroglyphics from the golden plates of Moroni was presented by one of Joesph Smith's colleagues in 1828 to Charles Anthon, then professor of Greek and Latin at Columbia College, who refuted the writing as meaningless, noting the misplaced Greek, Hebrew, and Roman letters, along with various other synthetic characters. The first three witnesses to the Book of Mormon, Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and Martin Harris, later condemned Joseph Smith and his teachings and were excommunicated by the LDS Church.
Joseph Smith was a convicted con man.
Joseph Smith, Jr., was well known for hunting for buried treasure with the aid of his seer stones, or peep stones, of which he made his living up until the discovery of the golden plates of Moroni. He was even arrested for this occult practice in 1826, which was known as glass looking, crystal gazing, or scrying, whereby a polished, solid object (such as a rock or crystal) was used to view unseen objects by clairvoyance or to foresee the future by precognition, sometimes for the use of illegal gain. Smith would continue to use and even promote these stones long after the establishment of the LDS Church. Today, Smith's seer stones reside in a vault in the LDS president's office in Salt Lake City, Utah. Smith also wore a Jupiter talisman, found on his body at death, designed to give him popularity and charm, along with success with women, the inscriptions of which were strictly for ceremonial magic.
LDS teachings are adopted from early gnostic texts.
The LDS Church admits parallels of doctrine with the teachings of gnosticism, in particular some of the Coptic books of the 1945 Nag Hammadi texts, such as the Apocalypse of Adam and the Apocalypse of Peter, which teach on the subjects of the nature of immortal souls and of Christ's spiritual existence in relation to his physical body (how his spirit entered the body at baptism and left the body before crucifixion). Other shared beliefs include the premortal existence of man, man's coeternality with God, baptism of the dead, and the importance of eternal marriage as the highest ordinance of Christianity. These gnostic texts are also used to support the Mormon's claims that other scriptural sources exist outside the Bible, thus making it incomplete.
Non-Mormon churches are of the devil.
All non-Mormon churches are founded by the devil and collectively known as the Great and Abominable Church (Book of Mormon, 1 Nephi 13:1-29). Today, the LDS Church strives not only to promote itself as the one true, restored church of Christ, but to camoflauge itself as a traditional Christian church, not unlike the "whore of all the earth" it historically and doctrinally opposes (1 Nephi 14:9-10). LDS apostle James Talmage wrote in his book, The Great Apostasy, "If the alleged apostasy of the primitive Church was not a reality, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not the divine institution its name proclaims."