Ephesians 6:12 teaches us, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”
Throughout the centuries, and even since Christ was brought into the world, there have been actors, imitators, and those who seek to destroy the Christian faith. Those who oppose Christianity are not so easily spotted, and certainly do not always fall under the guise and veil of “atheism” or “anti-theism.”
No, the problem is much, much worse.
Those who oppose historical Christianity, many times, claim the name of Christ themselves. This causes confusion and even hurt in the lives of any and all who have been affected by these cultic and aberrant traditions.
The Mormon church is no exception. In fact, it was not long ago I was having a conversation with an old friend of mine and life-long Mormon. She emphatically declared, “There is not one verse in the Bible that contradicts the teachings of the Book of Mormon.”
In this post, I’d like to refute her claim by examining just two significant differences between the Mormon religion and the true Christian faith.
1. A Difference in Tradition
The Bible is the most significant and magnificent work of literature in all history. It was written over a period of roughly 1600 years, is a collection of 66 books with one cohesive message, was penned by over 40 authors, and spanned across three continents. The Bible is a closed revelation. This can be seen clearly by understanding the implications of just one verse of Scripture:
Deuteronomy 18:22—“When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.”
Moses has made clear that if a prophet comes along who makes claims that do not come to pass, then the Lord has not spoken. This is significant for the believing Christian. In essence, this is a biblical “insurance policy.” We can be sure that the Bible is God’s Word because it is an accurate predictor of the future. If the Bible were to set this standard for itself, and fail, it would obviously not be God’s Word.
Conversely, it allows us to discern truth from error. Today, God does not speak nor work through revealed prophecy, but rather, through preachers who proclaim the “more sure word of prophecy” (2 Peter 1:19–emphasis mine). This is meaningful in a discussion on Mormonism because Joseph Smith, the self-proclaimed “prophet” and progenitor of Mormonism who claimed that God told him to reject all current religious denominations and re-ignite the “true church,” made many prophecies which have not come to pass.
There are multiple examples, but just one will suffice. According to homicide detective-turned defender of Christianity J. Warner Wallace, in an 1832 prophecy, Joseph Smith foretold of an LDS temple that would be built in Independence, Missouri.
Wallace writes, “Verses four and five declare a “temple shall be reared in this generation. For verily this generation shall not all pass away” before the temple will be built. And this temple is to be built in Zion, which is Independence, Missouri. Over one hundred and eighty years later, there is still no Temple on the “temple lot” specified in this prophecy. Early Mormon leaders made it quite clear the word “generation” meant those who were alive when the revelation was given in 1832.”1
Yet, over 103 years later, devout Mormons still believed this prophecy would come true. Wallace reflects, “Finally, after 140 years, the Mormon Church itself admitted this was a false prophecy. No temple was ever built on this property and the close-dated, unconditional prophecy never came true. Joseph Fielding Smith finally admitted there was no expectation this prophecy would ever come to pass.”2
The Scriptures are unambiguous and make no room whatsoever for a further revelation to be given to a “prophet” living in the United States of America 2,000 years later. There is a clear difference in tradition.
#2. A Difference in Definition
One of the great difficulties in confronting Mormonism is understanding the language barrier. Many of the same words and ideas are used as in classical Christianity, but the definitions are wildly different. Here is a brief list of the most common terms along with a brief understanding from each viewpoint:
God. Scripture teaches that God is the “Alpha and Omega, the first and the last” in Revelation 1:11. God is eternal, uncreated, and self-existing. In Isaiah 43:10, God insists that “before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me.”
Mormonism teaches that “Heavenly Father” is one of many gods existing in an infinite regress of worlds and universes, is the god over the Earth, and enjoys a physical existence near the planet Kolob.3
Mormons are even taught that one day, they can become gods themselves and participate in eternal reproduction.
Jesus. In John 1, the Bible teaches that “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.” It is clear, especially by verse 14, that Jesus Christ is the subject of these verses.
The Bible teaches that Jesus is co-equal and co-eternal with God the Father as the second person of the Trinity.
Mormons teach that Jesus Christ, Satan, and all created beings are spirit brothers and the sons of Elohim, or, “Heavenly Father,” from the beginning.4 There is a great war between the brothers, which supposedly characterizes the biblical tension between good and evil, the need for salvation, etc.
Salvation. In Ephesians 2:8-9, Paul declares, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” This is a straightforward understanding of the Christian doctrine of salvation.
The Mormon understanding, however, is a works-based gospel.
This can be clearly seen in the Mormon Articles of Faith 1:3—“We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.” This can also be seen in 2 Nephi 25:23, “For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.”
One’s obedience to the laws and ordinances, on the Mormon view, are crucial to one’s standing in the afterlife.
Heaven. In 2 Corinthians 5:8, Christians learn that “to be absent from the body” is to be “present with the Lord.” In the Mormon understanding of heaven, “Mormon scripture describes the three corresponding states of postmortal existence as the celestial kingdom, the terrestrial kingdom and the telestial kingdom. Though all three are understood to be degrees of glory, Mormons believe the highest state — the celestial kingdom — to be where God is (or, as those of other faiths understand it, heaven).”5
“In addition,” the Mormon Newsroom states, “our destination after this life depends on whether we participate in the essential rites (such as baptism) that aid us in the process of repentance, progression and sanctification.”6 The ultimate goal of a Mormon woman is to be counted worthy of an eternity of maternal bliss, where she will produce spirit babies “forever and ever.”7
Hell. Rev 20:15 teaches, “And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” Who is written into the book of life? Born-again Christians (Phillippians 3:4; Revelation 3:5; Revelation 17:8).
The Mormon understanding is as follows: “Latter-day revelation speaks of hell in at least two senses. First, it is the temporary abode in the spirit world for those who were disobedient in mortality. In this sense, hell has an end. The spirits there will be taught the gospel, and sometime following their repentance they will be resurrected to a degree of glory of which they are worthy…Second, it is the permanent location of those who are not redeemed by the Atonement of Jesus Christ. In this sense, hell is permanent. It is for those who are found “filthy still” (D&C 88:35, 102). This is the place where Satan, his angels, and the sons of perdition—those who have denied the Son after the Father has revealed Him—will dwell eternally (D&C 76:43–46).”8
This understanding is entirely works-based and is foreign to any interpretation of classical Christianity.
With respect to the Mormon church, it is quite obvious they teach doctrine contrary to the true gospel of Jesus Christ. Discerning Christians would be wise to heed the advice of the Apostle Paul in Romans 16:17—“Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.”
Of course, we should not avoid them in the sense of witnessing to them or reasoning with them about their beliefs; but one should not be fooled into thinking that Mormon belief is the same as or compatible with historical Christianity—in reality, they are polar opposites.
There are only two religions in the world: Cain and Abel, i.e., “Do” and “Done.” Every world religion says “do,” but Christ says, “it is done.” He has finished the work (John 19:30). You need only “confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and…believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead.” And then, “thou shalt be saved” (Romans 10:9).
Questions? Feel free to comment below and start the discussion, or click the blue button on the right (desktop only) to ask a question with a voicemail. We will do our best to answer in an upcoming post. Thanks!
- J. Warner Wallace. “Can We Trust the Prophecies of Joseph Smith?,” Cold Case Christianity (website). http://coldcasechristianity.com/2014/can-we-trust-the-prophecies-of-joseph-smith/ (accessed January 17, 2018).
- Jannalee Sandau. “3 Fascinating Things Every Mormon Should Know About Kolob” LDS Living. http://www.ldsliving.com/3-Fascinating-Things-Every-Mormon-Should-Know-About-Kolob/s/82249 (accessed January 17, 2018).
- Mormon Voices. “Jesus Brother of Satan,” Mormonvoices.org (website). http://mormonvoices.org/1/jesus-brother-of-satan (accessed February 4, 2018).
- Mormon Newsroom. “Mormon Beliefs About Heaven,” Mormon Newsroom (website). https://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/heaven (accessed January 17, 2018).
- Joseph Fielding Smith Jr., Doctrines of Salvation, Vol.2, p.48
- LDS. “Hell,” LDS.org (website). https://www.lds.org/scriptures/gs/hell (accessed January 17, 2018).