Lesson 12: Mormonism

Lesson 12: Mormonism

Thus far we’ve looked at several movements and philosophies that are highly antagonistic toward biblical Christianity. Unfortunately, some movements exist that claim to be Christian but are really anti-Christian. Such groups are often called “cults.” One of the most successful and influential of the pseudo-Christian cults is Mormonism.

Historical Background: Joseph Smith, the father of Mormonism, was born in 1805 in Vermont. In 1820, Smith allegedly received a marvelous vision in which God the Father and God the Son appeared to him and announced that a restoration of true Christianity was needed, and that Smith had been chosen as the leader of this new dispensation. He was told that all other churches were wrong and that their creeds were an abomination. A few years later, the angel Moroni supposedly revealed that golden plates had been buried in Smith’s neighborhood near Palmyra, New York, back in AD 421. Smith supposedly found the plates by using “peep stones,” magical rocks he put in a hat. The characters on the plates were supposedly written in “reformed Egyptian” hieroglyphics. Smith claimed he translated the plates by using “Urim and Thummim,” a set of miraculous glasses. The golden plates supposedly disappeared soon thereafter. This book was published in 1830, and is known as the Book of Mormon.


The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS) was organized in 1830 with six members. The group moved to Ohio, then Missouri, then Illinois, where they established the city of Nauvoo. In 1844, Smith was jailed after he ordered his followers to burn down the local newspaper press. A mob broke into the jail and killed him. Afterwards, the church broke up into several factions, the largest of which followed Brigham Young, who led the Mormons on the trek to Utah, which was then Mexican territory. They settled in Salt Lake City, the current headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The temple and many administrative buildings are there. That whole area of the country is heavily Mormon.

The Book of Mormon: The Book of Mormon contains the story of two migrations to America, one in 2250 B.C. and the other in 600 B.C. The first group traveled from the tower of Babel to Central America, but later all perished. The second group, including Lehi (a Jewish prophet) and his family, migrated to South America and prospered. Nephi and Laman, were two of Lehi’s sons. Because the Lamanites rebelled against God they were cursed with dark skin. These are the ancestors of the American Indians. The Nephites obeyed God. The Lamanites killed all the Nephites, except Moroni, in AD 421. Moroni’s father, Mormon, was the writer of the golden plates.

Mormons claim that the Book of Mormon is “another witness” to the truths of the Christian gospel. Upon investigation, one will find that the Book of Mormon is one grand myth. It’s full of plagiarism, anachronisms and false prophecies. All the evidence points to the unavoidable conclusion that the Book of Mormon is really a piece of nineteenth-century fiction. Whatever else it is, it cannot be divine revelation.

Smith also wrote two other books, The Pearl of Great Price and The Doctrines and Covenants. The key points of Mormon doctrine taught in these books are absent from, or contradicted by, both the Bible and the Book of Mormon. In addition, since Mormons believe in continuing revelation, new books approved by the President can be published by or for the church and be considered authoritative.

Mormons not only claim to be Christians, but to be the only true Christians. According to them, the early Christian church went through an apostasy, lost the true teaching of God, and is built on a Bible that, they say, is translated incorrectly and missing many books. Interestingly, while LDS Church president Gordon Hinckley assured the press that ‘‘[t]he New Testament is a fundamental scripture for us,’’ he failed to point out the Mormons’ bias against the Bible. Article 8 of the Mormon Articles of Faith says, “We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it has been translated correctly.” This approach allows Mormons to ignore key Bible passages which refute Mormon doctrines. Bible verses used to counter Mormon teachings are brushed off in favor of passages from the Book of Mormon and other Mormon scriptures (as well as ongoing revelation that may change previous LDS Church teachings).

The LDS Church has published its own version of the King James Bible, incorporating footnotes from Joseph Smith’s “inspired version” of the Bible. This version supposedly edits and corrects the King James text. However, in spite of their efforts at revisionism, Mormons have not been able to support their claims as to the authenticity of the Book of Mormon. History and archeology refute Mormon allegations regarding the Bible and the course of Christianity. Far from showing us so-called “restored truth,” the Book of Mormon is filled with anachronisms, and the names of cities and coins that have never been found to have existed.

Distinctive Mormon Practices: baptism for the dead; holy underwear; polygamy (Smith had about 50 wives; Young had 27); eternal marriage; the ability of humans to become gods; the Trinity as three separate Gods; mother goddesses (heavenly mothers); temple marriages as a requirement for exaltation to receive eternal life; and salvation in the spirit world after death. They portray a lifestyle of clean-living, family-orientation, and conservative politics. They abstain from caffeinated drinks. Many college-age Mormons go on a two year proselytizing “mission.”

Organization: The Mormon Church is directed by its General Authorities. At the top is the First Presidency assisted by a Counsel of Twelve “apostles,” the First Quorum of the Seventy, and other administrative groups. Mormonism recognizes two priesthoods, the Aaronic (lesser) and the Melchizedek (higher). Every male Mormon 12 years old and over belongs to one of the priesthoods. Church administration is divided into territories made up of “wards” and “stakes.” Each ward is presided over by a bishop and two counselors. The Mormon Church is a very large, well-organized, wealthy organization. They usually go into a community, build a very nice building, and start services. Mormon congregations are often made up of former members of Protestant churches.

Mormon False Doctrine: Mormons want you to think they are very similar to mainline Christian groups. They’ll use familiar words and assure you that they are Christians. However, Mormonism has little in common with genuine Christianity. It is a dangerous cult that is leading millions of people down the path to hell.

  1. There are many gods. The gods have appointed one to be God over the earth. He has a physical body. A popular Mormon saying is “As man is, God once was. As God is, man may become.” The god of the earth gradually attained godhood by living a perfectly righteous life. Each god has a father and a grandfather, etc.

  2. Jesus is the first of God’s many children. Jesus is the physical son of God. He is also the spirit brother of Lucifer. There is nothing in Jesus’ life more than what is attainable by anyone else.

  3. Prior to physical birth, everyone had an existence in heaven as a spirit-child. Each spirit is then born physically into a family on earth and is kept from remembering their former existence.

  4. Salvation is through faith and works. General salvation is provided for all men through Christ by grace alone whether they believe in God or not and includes resurrection. Individual salvation to receive eternal life is only attained through faith plus works.

  5. Everyone will be resurrected and spend eternity in one of three kingdoms or heavens, the Celestial (highest–only for devout Mormons), the Terrestrial (middle–for non-Mormon Christians and “good” people in general), or the Telestial (for dishonest and immoral people). They believe there is a hell reserved for Satan and the “sons of perdition,” that is, those who have committed the unpardonable sin (identified mainly as those who leave the Mormon Church). Devout Mormons can progress to become gods themselves and rule over and populate a planet just like Heavenly Father does on earth.

Refutation of Mormon Doctrine: These ideas are so obviously unbiblical that they are easily refuted.

  1. There is only one God, not many (Isa 43:10-11, 45:21-22).

  2. God is an eternal Spirit (John 4:24). He has never been a man and does not change.

  3. Jesus is the eternal, not the physical, Son of God (Col 1:15-18). He is not the spirit brother of Lucifer, but rather created him.

  4. Man has no existence prior to conception.

  5. Salvation is by grace through faith, not through works (Eph 2:8-9).

  6. Those who trust in Christ for salvation will spend eternity with God in heaven. Those who reject the gospel will suffer eternal torment in hell (Matt 25:46; Rev 20:15). There is only one heaven, not three.

Conclusion: The strength of the Mormon church is in the commitment of its adherents, in the positive image projected by its dedicated young missionaries and in the healthy family life displayed by the Mormon community. However, people who take the Bible as their sole authority in matters of faith and practice can readily conclude that Mormonism is a dangerous cult that contradicts genuine Christianity in many significant ways.

Discussion:

  1. Who was the founder of Mormonism? Joseph Smith

  2. Who led the Mormons to Utah? Brigham Young

  3. What is the book that details the lives of the Nephites and the Lamanites? The book of Mormon

  4. What makes Mormonism attractive? Family-orientation, conservative politics, good administration, overall positive reputation, nice buildings, entertaining activities, etc.

  5. How close is Mormonism to genuine Christianity? Not too close. It contradicts historic Christian doctrine on most points. Mormonism is hostile to Christianity.

Comments

  1. Mark Christiansen says:

    Hi, I hope I don't offend, but I'm a Mormon and I wanted to say this has many inaccuracies throughout. I encourage you to also look at other objective sources such as Wikipedia.

    For example, Mormons do believe they are saved by grace in the end. However, to qualify for saving grace you also need to do your part, by serving others, keeping God's commandments, growing and trying to be a better person. For example, James 2: 24,26 "Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only…. For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also."

    The New Testament is definitely core scripture for Mormons. It contains the life and teachings of Jesus, which are essential to for us to understand and follow. Mormons believe Jesus is the Christ, the Savior, the Son of God, the only way to salvation. In this sense they definitely believe they are Christian, although we understand traditional Christians don't always see us that way. The statement that Mormons belong to a cult has always mystified me.

    Joseph Smith found an ancient record written by prophets, which as been called the Book of Mormon. I suggest you read it before you dismiss it as fiction. The primary purpose of the book is to be another witness of our Savior Jesus Christ. (Magical peep stones used to locate the record? I've never heard this and I've been a Mormon all my life.)

    There are many other inaccurate statements here. Some are a matter of different interpretations of scripture, others are just inaccurate.

    God bless you and me as we all try to learn truth and try to live our lives according His will.

    • Maybe you should check the real history of Joseph Smith to see that he did indeed use a stone in his hat to do his translating. His own wife, Emma speaks to this in her journal as do numerous others who were privy to this method.

    • Dear Mark, you certainly didn't say anything harsh or offensive in response to this lesson. I found this site through my church. My church is a non- denominational Bible believing church and we are currently studying through the systematic theology course on Wed. nights.

      I grew up LDS in a small town in So. Utah. I always thought I was Christian, I was always told I was Christian because Mormons believe in Jesus as the Savior. However Christianity is not only defined by what we believe Jesus did, it is just as importatly defined by who we know Jesus is. The trinity is a very difficult concept for our minds to understand, and therefore many times it is explained as something else, easier to define, like a godhead of three gods.

      In order to undersand what grace is, you have to understand who Jesus is and what he did for His creation. If we deny the diety of Christ, His sacrifice cannot be explained in the terms of the truth of His gospel. That we are sinful and nothing we can do can justify us to God. Only through God being both "the just and the justifier" can we be saved by grace through faith, and there is nothing we can add to that.(continued in next post)

    • (continued from previous post) I really struggled with the truth of the gospel for a long time. I had a lot of hang ups about things mostly from things I believed from my youth. A book written by a LDS Institute director named Grant H. Palmer helped me to finally see the difference in Mormonism and Biblical Christianity. It is called "An Insiders View of Mormon Origins". I understand Mr. Palmer is a devout Mormon who had to take on hard questions head on with his college age students and through these conversations researched and wrote this book. Mr. Palmer I believe is still a devout Mormon. I encourage you to check this book out. The first copy I read was purchased from Deseret Books.

      By definition, there can only be one truth. God's will for us is already revealed in His word. His desire is that all would come to the knowledge of truth concerning Christ. I encourage you to read the Bible and think about what the words mean. It is trustworthy. God loves you.

      Sincerely,
      Howard Simkins

  2. Good day very nice site!! Guy .. Beautiful .. Amazing .. I’ll bookmark your site and take the feeds additionally?I’m satisfied to search out a lot of useful information right here in the put up, we want work out more techniques in this regard, thank you for sharing. . . . . .

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