What is Mormonism and why is it relevent to me?
Mormonism is a clever counterfieght of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I waste no words in getting that point across first and foremost. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the Church pertaining to Mormonism, began technically in 1820 when a young man - a money digger - by the name of Joseph Smith alledgly recieved a Vision from God the Father and Our Lord Jesus Christ. When God and Christ appeared to Smith, They told him to build the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and preach the restored Gospel of Christ to the world. That is the aim of the Mormon missionaries who approach your door-step. Upon first encounter with you, they will smile, compliment your rose garden, shake the hand firmly, and proceed to tell you their message, offering you a free copy of something called The Book of Mormon. To the Saints, the Book of Mormon is a sacred text in addition to the Bible: however, what they will not tell you is that they believe the Book of Mormon is purer and more reliable than the Bible itself. We will cover this in more detail later on. As you go through meeting with these missionaries over the weeks, you will discover that what they are teaching you runs contrary to orthodox Christianity, though it may not seem so at first. As you delve deeper and deeper into their doctrines, you will realize that what you're looking at is not simply "another Christian denomination", but a masterpiece of satanic deception and spiritual bondage. This answers the question why The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (or Mormonism, as the outsiders label it) is relevent to you. Millions of souls fall for such a subtle trap and don't see the danger lurking behind it. As we uncover some of their basic teaching, taken from their own archives, not only will you see the great importance of standing up against Mormonism, but you will learn how to answer the men in white shirts and ties who darken your threshold.
The Origins of Mormonism
In a nutshell, Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, claims in his History that he was faced with a spiritual problem many today in Christendom are faced with: Which church is the true church? Which one should I join? In answer to his crisis, Smith was led to James 1:5 in his trusty KJV Bible, "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him." Taking this passage to heart, Smith says in his History, he went into the woods to pray "on the morning of a beautiful, clear, day, early in the spring of eighteen hundred and twenty." (Joseph Smith History 1:14). As he prayed, he was "siezed upon by some power which entirely overcame me, and had such an astonishing influence over me as to bind my tongue...Thick, darkness gathered around, and it seemed to me for a time as if I were doomed..." (Ibid 1:15). Using what little strength he had left, Smith called out to God for help, to which God did respond rather quickly, showing up Himself at the scene. Not only God, but Jesus Christ as well! Smith describes it thus:
It no sooner appeared than I found myself delivered from the enemy which held me bound. When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name, pointing to the other - This is My Beloved Son! Hear Him! My object in going to inquire of the Lord was to know which of all the sects was right, that I might know which to join. No sooner, therefore, did I get possession of myself, so as to be able to speak, than I asked the Personages who stood above me in the light, which of all the sects was right (for at this time, it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong) - and which I should join. I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: "they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof." He again forbade me to join with any of them... (Ibid 1:17-20).
Later, Smith claimed to have been visited by an angel named Moroni (the earliest versions of Smith's account say the angel's name was Nephi) who told Smith of certain golden plates which were hidden in the earth. Smith found the golden plates, and in 1827 began translating them into English. The language of the plates was said to be "Reformed Egyption", a language no linguistic scholar or professor recognizes, and of which there have been no other ancient documents written in said tongue. The method of translation was most unusual, and resembled a sort of occultic practice prevelant in those days. Smith claimed to have used two seer stones, the Urim and the Thummim, as supernatural glasses. Upon looking at the ancient text, he would see the English translation and dictate it to his scribe. Other accounts mention his placing the plates into his hat, with a stone on top of the plates, burying his face in the hat and by divine intervention dictated the English translation of the "Reformed Egyption" writing. These plates and their translation became the famous Scripture work of the Church: the Book of Mormon. The Latter-Day Saint teaching reference Gospel Principles on page 53, under the chapter entitled "Scriptures: Chapter 10", says of the Book of Mormon:
'The Book of Mormon is a sacred record of some of the people who lived on the American continents between about 2,000 B.C and A.D. 400. It contains the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ...The Book of Mormon tells of the visit Jesus Christ made to the people of in the Americas soon after his resurrection. Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon into English through the gift and power of God. He said that it is "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" (History of the Church, 4:461)'
Notice the stress is made by Smith that the Book of Mormon is the most correct book on earth, even more correct than the Bible. Compare with the Mormon Article of Faith: "We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly" (Articles of Faith 1:8). Mormons are told that the Bible has undergone many changes throughout the centuries and has lost many of Christ's pure doctrines. If ever there is something in the Bible that contradicts Mormon teaching, then that certain passage in the Bible has not been correctly translated.
A Mormon pamphlet, The Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, one of many works I have obtained from the Church, has this to say concerning the restoration of the priesthood:
'In 1829, Joseph Smith recieved the same priesthood authority that Jesus had given to His Apostles. John the Baptist...appeared to Joseph Smith and conferred on him the Aaronic Priesthood...Peter, James, and John...later appeared to Joseph Smith and conferred on him the Melchizedek Priesthood, or higher priesthood.' (page 12)
Interestingly enough, the Mormons insist all Twelve Apostles must be present with the laying on of hands for the initiation of the new Prophet. They seem to allow an exception for Smith, who was only 'anointed' by the Baptist and three Apostles, and not all Twelve. It must also be said, though the Twelve are most spoken of in Scripture, there were definetly more. Paul, for example, not among the Twelve, became an Apostle - and not by the laying on of hands - but because he had seen Jesus Himself, who Himself gave Paul his mission. Peter, the head of the Church at the time, recognized that Paul was not a fraud, and indeed extended the right hand of fellowship to him, welcoming him as a true Apostle and brother in Christ. The requriments for Apostleship was first, to experience the risen Christ in flesh, and second to go forth and found churches. The Mormons are convinced Christ couldn't hold the Church together, thereby letting it fall into Apostasy, but they have significant confidence that their "Church" will never apostasize: for they have their Prophets and Apostles guiding it in the "light." And why should they think otherwise? After all, it was Joseph Smith who boasted he had done more than any man on the earth, past or present, including Our Lord Jesus Christ:
"I have more to boast of than any man had. I am the only man that has ever been able to keep a whole church together since the days of Adam. A large majority of the whole have stood by me. Neither Paul, John, Peter, nor Jesus ever did it. I boast that no man ever did such work as I." (History of the Church, Vol. 6; pg. 408-09)
Among their unique Scriptures, the Mormons have also Doctrines and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price (which includes a passage concerning black skinned people and how "the skin of blackness" was the mark of Cain, a curse from Almighty God).
The Mormon Church, led by Smith, then later by the Second Prophet, Brigham Young, declared itself to be God's only true Kingdom on earth. All other churches were the Great and Abominable Church, or the Church of the Devil. The first Mormons understood this as referring to the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, the Pope being the agent of Satan. Today they stay off the subject when speaking to other Christians, whether Catholic, Protestant, or Eastern Orthodox, but they still see all other Christian communities as compromising the Great and Abominable Church, which keeps back "the most plain and precious parts of the gospel of the Lamb." (1 Nephi 13:34, from The Book of Mormon). They now admit all Christian churches have elements of the Truth (as do all false religions) but their understanding of the Abominable Church has not changed one iota.
"There is no salvation outside the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints." (McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 670)
What do I say when they come to the door?
Upon first encounter, the missionaries will proceed to tell you a brief history of the founding of their Church. They will explain to you that there was a Great Apostasy at the death of the last Apostle, and that the true Gospel of Jesus Christ was lost after that. This is in fulfillment of a prophecy given in Amos:
"Behold, the days come...that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord: And people shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it." (Amos 8:11-12)
Mormon Claim #1: God had to restore the true Gospel of Christ through Prophet Joseph Smith because the early church fell into the Great Apostasy.
Hence, as He had done in Old Testament times, God once again raised up a Prophet, Joseph Smith, to restore the true Gospel of Christ. After all, God always led Israel by Prophets: each time a Prophet died, the people rebelled, so God would raise up a new Prophet to restore Israel back to the truth.
A: First of all Israel was not led by prophets alone: God used kings as well as judges. The kings were God's visible head of Israel on earth, representatives of the Supreme Invisible King. The judges were also God's instruments of bringing Israel back in line when they fell into darkness. The judges exercised force over the people if need be, and usually also force over Israel's enemies (Samson slaying the Phillistines, for example). And, of course, the prophets spoke the word of the Lord to the people. They were the visible mouths of the Invisible Mouth of the Lord. So before we start looking at the Old Testament and applying it to Christianity in some way or other, let's make sure we look at it in context. That said, let us take a look at Christ's words to Peter in Matthew 16:18, "Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." Here we have Christ's unaltering promise to Peter and the Apostles ("...the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return..." Isaiah 45:23). Of all words we can trust, it is the Lord's.
Cross-reference this verse with John 14:16,17,26, "...I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever...he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you...But the Comforter which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance whatsoever I have said unto you." Here we have Promise #2: The Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is given to all Christians, but most especially to the Apostles to guide them in all Truth when proclaiming the Gospel and doctrines of Jesus. We see numerous times in Acts where the laying on of hands is used to impart apostolic authority, the Holy Spirit and his gifts (including the promise to guide in all Truth), as well as for other reasons. Match that up with Promise #3 from Jesus in Matt. 28:20, "...lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world." Now Jesus Himself, along with the Holy Spirit, is with His Church to keep it in line, in pure doctrine, protecting it from falling into oblivion. If the Church were to fall into a Great Apostasy, as the Mormons describe it, this would make Christ a liar when He said "the gates of hell will not prevail". Remember, for such an Apostasy to occur it would only take one false doctrine to be officially taught by the early church:
"Know ye not that a little leaven leaventh the whole lump? Purge out therefore the old leaven..." (1 Cor. 5:6-7a)
Of course, the immediet text is speaking of sin and not doctrinal issues, but the same formula applies to both. All it takes is a little leaven, and the lump is ruined. All it takes is one false doctrine to be officially taught, and the Church is ruined: the gates of hell have prevailed, making Christ a liar.
As for the prophecy in Amos, this is referring to the 400 years of silence, in which God did not speak through a prophet until the day John the Baptist rose up and preached in the wilderness. This prophecy cannot be applied to the so-called Great Apostasy, as we have just seen, or else we must conclude Christ is a liar and is too weak to uphold His Church from darkness.
Now we talked about the kings, judges, and prophets of Israel. All three of these attributes were given unto the Apostles themselves by Christ. They were Christ's visible representatives, Peter being head; they, like the judges, set the Church straight when it wavered, driving out all false doctrine that entered into various communities, and they waged spiritual warfare against the principalities and powers of hell; like the prophets, they proclaimed the Word of the Lord, Jesus Christ, the fulfillment of all the previous words of the Lord spoken before. We mentioned in Acts the laying on hands to bestow authority and the Holy Spirit upon others: to their successors, the Apostles distributed the same promises and attributes Jesus had given to them, thus continuing the bishopric of the Church.
Mormon Claim #2: There is a prophecy in Ezekiel that speaks directly about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon, thus proving beyond the shadow of a doubt the Book of Mormon is a true addition to Scripture, and Smith as a true Prophet of God.
A: The passage they refer to is Ezekiel 37:16-17, "Moreover, thou son of man, take thee one stick and write upon it, For Judah and for the children of Israel his companions: then take another stick and write, for upon it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions: And join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand." Judah's stick represents the Bible, Joseph's stick represent's the Book of Mormon. This is a complete twist of the text to make it say something it is not saying at all. The Joseph mentioned in this passage is not Smith, but rather Joseph from Genesis, who's son was Ephraim, hence his mentioning in Ezekiel. The sticks are not Scripture, but as explained in the verses following:
"...they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all..." (vs. 22)
These sticks represent the nations, Judah and Israel, which were divided at the time. The sticks in no way in this passage are meant to symbolize Scriptures of any kind. The context of the entire passage is dealing with two communities coming together as one: not two records bearing witness of one another, which is essentially what the Book of Mormon and the Bible are supposed to do. Remember, there is only one interpretation of Scripture, but many applications. The interpretation here is explained in the text: the application can be seen as the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church coming together as one again, the wound from 1054AD being made whole. This would make more sense than the Mormon application, since both Western and Eastern Churches are communities led by their own heads, but ultimatly looking to Christ, the "David" who will one day physically rule on Earth and govern according to His purposes.
Mormon Claim #3: The Book of Mormon has much archaeological evidence backing it up as authentic and historical. The events described in it have been verified as true, and many of the cities and various locations have been found.
A: This is no doubt one of the most untrue statments the missionaries could ever tell you. Whether they do it willingly, or whether they truly believe there is evidence supporting the Book of Mormon, I do not know. I suppose the latter would be true, since majority of missionaries do their missions out of sincerety, and whatever they may tell you (as far from truth though it may be) they see it as truth, and are in a sense like children who don't know any better. This gives us all the more reason to show them the light of Jesus Christ [of orthdox Christianity]. No reputable archaeologist has ever verified the statement that there is evidence for the Book of Mormon. In fact, just the opposite, they repeatedly declare there is absolutly no evidence whatsoever verfifying the Book of Mormon accounts. No currency, walls, architecture of any kind, burial grounds, documents, etc., from the Book of Mormon have been found. It is impossible to wipe out an entire civilization and leave not a hint of a trace of the slightest remain. Any reputable archaeologist will tell you this. The so-called "evidence" the missionaries claim to have is only verified by LDS sources, not contemporary sources. In addition this, I have provided an official statment from the Smithsonian Institution: National Museum of Natural History regarding this issue:
"The Book of Mormon is a religious document and not a scientific guide. The Smithsonian Institution has never used it in archeological research and any information that you have recieved to the contrary is incorrect. Accurate information about the Smithsonian's position is contained in the enclosed "Statment Regarding the Book of Mormon," which was prepared to respond to numerous inquiries that the Smithsonian recieves on this topic."
You may obtain your own copy of this Statment by writing to:
Anthropology Outreach Office
Department of Anthropology
National Museum of Natural History MRC 112
Washington, DC 20560
This is just one outside source condeming the Book of Mormon as unfit for archaeological support. Others, including National Geographic, have issued such statments. The missionaries may look at you and say, "That is a biased source. They have contemp for God's word (the Book of Mormon) so they are hiding the facts." This is interesting when considering the Smithsonian Institute also issued a statment concerning the Bible, which I have also provided:
"Much of the Bible, in particular the historical books of the Old Testament, are as accurate historical documents as any that we have from antiquity and are in fact more accurate than many of the Egyptian, Mesopotamian, or Greek histories. These biblical records can be, and are, used as are other ancient documents in archeological work. For the most part, historical events described too place and the people cited really existed." (Smithsonian Statment: The Bible as History)
You may obtain your own copy of this statement as well by writing to the above address. Now the Bible is also God's Word, according to even Mormon theology; yet the Smithsonian (as well as other sources too many to name here) finds the Bible as "accurate historical documents as any that we have from antiquity." But no such luck with the Book of Mormon, which is supposed to be the fulness of the Gospel, purer than any other book on the planet. Outside, unbiased, non-Christian sources see the Bible as accurate historically, but these very same sources do not feel the same way with the Book of Mormon. If I am to give the Book of Mormon any chance at all, I want to make sure it's verifiable. I already know the Bible is verifiable, thus it gives me a reason to look deeper into the Word. But with the Book of Mormon, I don't even have a reason to consider it as an accurate historical account, let alone "the fulness of the Gospel."
To be fair, and to show that I have given Mormon apologetics a chance (but have found them to be wanting), I will provide one example of an alledged Book of Mormon archeological find. In 1 Nephi, a man named Lehi is said to have travled with his family south-southeast (1 Nephi 16:13; 2:5; 16:14,34). In chapter 16:14, he and his family reach a place and call it Nahom. The claim made by LDS is that they have found a stone with the Hebrew letters NHM printed on it, thus being a stone from the land Nahom. What they will not tell you is that the Hebrew NHM does not neccessarily translate as 'Nahom', but may also translate as 'Nehem, or Naham,' and so to say it should only be Nahom is incorrect. Lastly, NHM is a tribal name, and not a location-name. (cf. Aston, Book of Mormon Studies 7:1, 1998, p. 7).
Mormon Claim #4: God has a body "of flesh and bone as tangible as man's." We can be sure of this because Christ Himself says He does nothing except that which He sees the Father do. Jesus rose again with a body of flesh and flesh - therefore Heavenly Father must have done the same thing. We were made in God's image, therefore God must have a body Himself. There are also innumerable Scripture passages that deal with God having a body: for instance, the strong arm of the Lord, the eyes of the Lord, the feet of the Lord, etc.
A: The missionaries will quote to a list full of verses from the Old Testament that describe God as having a body of flesh and bone. When discussing this issue with a set of missionaries, I asked them to give me these Scriptural references. And they did, gladly. After they finished, I mentioned they forgot one passage: Psalm 91:4, "He (God) shall cover thee with his feathers and under his wings thou shalt trust." Now He's a chicken. I asked them what kind of language that was, they said "figurative." I asked them how they determined figurative from literal, they answered that it depends upon interpretation. They kept using that word, "interpretation", throughout our dialogue. That fascinated me. I asked them to interpret something for me then: John 4:24, "God is spirit." Now jump over to Luke 24:39. Jesus appears in resurrected form to His disciples in the upper room, "Behold my hands and my feet, [see] that it is I myself, handle me and see: for a spirit does not have flesh and bone as you see me have."
The same Greek word, pneuma, translated as "spirit", means: a current of air, breath, a spirit, and is used both in John 4:24 and Luke 24:39. There is absolutly nothing physical about pneuma's use in Greek.
In the Josepth Smith Translation of the Bible, Smith claimed "revelation" that John 4:24 had been translated incorrectly, thus in the Mormon KJV it reads under a footnote: For unto such hath God promised his Spirit...This changes God from being Spirit to simply having a spirit, as all human beings do. Smith claimed the verse was mistranslated, thus correcting it, but every ancient manuscript of the New Testament (15,000 copies for the NT alone) all translate this verse exactly as is: God is Spirit. Sir Frederic Kenyon, one of the great authorities on New Testament textual criticism, says:
"The number of manuscripts of the New Testament, of early translations from it, and of quotations from it in the oldest writers of the Church, is so large that it is practically certain that the true reading of every doubtful passage is preserved in some one or other of these ancient authorities. This can be said for no other book in the world." (Kenyon, Frederic G. Our Bible and the Ancient Manuscripts. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1941; pg. 23)
None of these ancient authorities translate John 4:24 as Smith alledgedly recieved revelation to do so.
When the missionaries say Christ does nothing the Father does not do, they assume the Father must have risen from the dead Himself on some other world. The Scriptures actually tell us that God the Father raised Jesus up from the dead, and that Jesus did not do this of His own will or power. Christ saying He does nothing the Father doesn't do is to be understood from the context of the entire Bible that Christ does everything within in the will of the Father. Time and space does not permit for such detail and referrences to cite for this particular subject. But as we have clearly seen, Christ Himself says God is not a physical being: He is Spirit.
The answer to the claim that we are created in God's image, therefore God must have a body, is simple. "Image" and "likeness" are man's spiritual nature, not physical. God is invisible (Col. 1:15). When looking at it in context, including the passages from John and Luke, we see how ludicrous it is to assert God the Father must have an exalted body.
Mormon claim #5: You will know the Book of Mormon is true if you pray about it and get a "burning in your bosom".
A: Since when do feelings tell you whether something is true or false? Jeremiah 17:9 says, "The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, who can know it?" Feelings are deceitful, and can be dangerous if we let them lead us. God has given His gifts of logic, reasoning, and the ability to discern by waying the evidense. All these three gifts, when used to test the validity of Mormonism, show just how un-credible it truly is. God doesn't ask us to go by the "warm fuzzies", for all we know that could be heart-burn. "But," the missionaries tell you, "it's not really YOUR feelings, it's the Holy Spirit inside you." The Holy Spirit is not imparted to unbelievers who pray about the Book of Mormon, therefore He cannot tell them yea or nay.
Mormon claim #6: Joseph Smith spoke many prophecies that came true. He is thus a true Prophet of God and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is legitamet.
A: The truth is there are a number of prophecies which Smith said "in the name of the Lord" that have not been fulfilled. In the Mormon scriptures, Doctrines and Covenants 84:2-5, 31, we are told that 'Zion' will be built with a Mormon Temple at Independence, "in this generation...which shall not pass away until the temple be built..." In 1870, Apostle Orson Pratt reiterated this prophecy. "This generation" has long since died, and still no Mormon Temple sits on the ground in Independence. The temple lot is not even owned by the LDS Church! This is just one simple example of a myriad of false prophecies Smith proclaimed "in the name of the Lord." God says that is just one prophecy fails to come to true, we can know that the one who uttered it is a false prophet (cf. Deut. 13:1-5).
What to do before entering into dialogue with Mormons
Pray. Ask God to open their minds and hearts to Him, to the Truth. We have only covered a smidgen of Mormon doctrine, and have not even touched upon other issues such as: the Adam-God doctrine ["Adam is our father and our God, and the only God with whom we have to do." - Brigham Young, Second Mormon Prophet, Journal of Discourses 1:50-51], Jesus being the spirit-brother of Lucifer, Heavenly Mother [not to be confused with the Catholic doctrine of Mary - Mormonism's Heavenly Mother is a goddess], blood-atonement, Mormons becoming gods, salvation earned by works and not by God's grace (Catholic doctrine: works come after grace and expand our faith), polygamy requried for salvation, monogamy being evil, the contradicting changes to Smith's First Vision account throughout the years, the curse of black skin to the neuteral spirits in heaven, the exculsion of black men to the LDS priesthood, and the list goes on. Most if not all of these doctrines have been kept hidden away from the Mormons of today, but they still are just as authoritative and accurate Mormon theology as they were back then. The Prophets spoke, thus it is divine Scripture. Make no mistake: if Mormonism had the power it did over its people back in the day, it would still practice said doctrines. They have never deemed any of the said doctrines as false, but merely have hidden them for now. Such an example is when the government pressured the LDS about its teaching on black men not allowed the priesthood. Suddenly, a "revelation" was given to the Prophet Kimbal: Let black people obtain the priesthood. This goes in direct contradiction to the previous Prophets who said black people would not get the priesthood until the end of time, when the 'curse' would be lifted and they recieve white skin. The missionaries of today, if they know these facts, won't dare tell you - or, if they are unaware of them, should have the right to know about what their church has taught previously. And we should be the ones telling them. After all, they deserve to know the saving grace of Christ and be free from the errors of suger-coated occultism.