When having a spiritual conversation with a Mormon, the definition of Christianity can become a divisive point. So, what exactly are their beliefs? Let’s look at the history and major doctrines of their system to see how it lines up with scripture.
I. The History
- Church – The Church of Jesus Christ of Ladder-day Saints (LDS or Mormon Church) was founded in 1830 by founder Joseph Smith in Fayette,New York.
- Visits – Smith claimed to have been visited by God the Father and Jesus Christ. He said during the visit that Jesus told him all churches were corrupt, and had been since the death of the original Apostles. Smith also claimed later that an angel named Moroni visited him, and revealed the location of special gold plates.
- Marriage – In 1843 Smith said he had received a revelation sanctioning plural marriage (polygamy), but later it was officially banned by the LDS in 1890. The leader Wilford Woodruff claimed to receive a revelation ending the practice.
- Location – Pressured to leave several areas, Smith settled in Commerce,Illinois. After a critical article toward Smith, a newspaper was destroyed and Smith was arrested. While in jail, he and several other leaders were murdered by a mob.
- Leadership – Most Mormons decided to follow Brigham Young (one of Smith’s twelve apostles). He led them on a long difficult pilgrimage to Utah (Salt Lake City).
II. The Writings
- Book of Mormon – Joseph Smith wrote the entire book of Mormon, and published it in 1830. He said he had translated the golden plates into a book, and that the angel Moroni had already carried the plates back to heaven.
- Others – Doctrines & Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price were also written by Smith. Some of thePearl book he claimed to have translated from an ancient Egyptian document he’d purchased from a traveling show.
III. The Beliefs
The doctrines of the LDS church may surprise you if you’ve not read about them. At the same time, it’s important to know that these points are not clearly specified by a team at your doorstep. The goal of this post is to familiarize and display how terms may sound the same, but mean something different. For example:
- God – God the “Heavenly Father” is married to “Heavenly Mother” and had millions of “spirit children” in a preexistent time. The origin of “Heavenly Father” is best described in a famous Mormon quote, “As man is, God once was; as God is, man may become.” Basically the teaching is that God was once human, but achieved “godhood” through a process of eternal progression.
- Jesus – Their teaching is that Jesus was one of two sons who wanted to redeem the world. The other son was Lucifer. Jesus was chosen and Lucifer was rejected. He rebelled, became Satan, and took 1/3 of the spirit children with him (becoming demons). The other 2/3 came to earth as babies.
- Salvation – The core belief is called the “Law of Eternal Progression” and is what they refer to as the “Restored Gospel”. The term “Gospel” is the whole idea of progression, not the good news of Jesus dying on our behalf.
- Lifestyle – Mormons are known for their moral lifestyle. There are certain things a Mormon in “good standing” will be participating in, such as good conduct, regular church involvement, up-to-date on their tithe (full 10%). Also, being a Mormon means you’re part of “eternal marriage”, where you and your spouse hope to someday get your own cosmic domain to populate.
- Eternity – The idea for eternity is also one of progression. It starts at death with faithful Mormons going to paradise, and all others going to “spirit prison”. However, in the afterlife all people eventually make their way to paradise, through various methods. Here’s how it all shakes out:
- Telestial Kingdom – For sinners, criminals, and others
- Terrestrial Kingdom – Non-LDS practicing religious people
- Celestial Kingdom – Obedient and worthy Mormons, eventually achieving “godhood”
Basically the pivot point of the whole conversation is hinged on the person, and nature of Jesus. The Bible is clear concerning Him. He came as Savior, because we could not, and cannot save ourselves. As much as we would like to, we can’t even live up to the 10 Commandments, much less a broader set of rules. Think about these basics truths of scripture, compared to our list above:
- God is Trinity – Genesis 1 and John 1 we see each of the three persons distinctly
- God is Spirit – not bodily, having children – John 4:24
- God has no beginning – He is “everlasting to everlasting” – Psalm 90:2
- Jesus was not created – He was always with God – John 1
- We cannot earn salvation – Romans 3:23, 5:8, 6:23, 10:9
In Galations 1:6-10 Paul warns the readers of those that would preach a “different gospel”, and not to follow anyone teaching something different. Also too, the Revelation given to John ends with a strong warning to those who would add to or take away from the truth of God’s Word. The subtitle of the Book of Mormon is “Another Testament of Jesus Christ”, which I think is self explanatory.
Conclusion – It’s true that Mormons have a strong moral code, and use the term “gospel”, however it’s an inferior “gospel”. The true Gospel of Jesus Christ is grace, mercy, and faith, not something earned by works – Ephesians 2:8-9. It’s a far Superior Gospel to any other imitator, and available to anyone who chooses to place their faith in Him. I pray that everyone who reads this post has already, or will consider doing so today.
Series: Consider This…