47. Mormonism - The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
Purpose: The purpose of this session is to acquaint the disciple with the unique, rapidly growing group called Mormons, or “Latter Day Saints.” We desire that you know something of what this group teaches and how to talk with them.
1. The disciple will know something of the beginning of this group.
2. The disciple will understand the major differences between Mormonism and evangelical Christianity.
3. The disciple will understand ways of talking with them and helping them know the true gospel.
4. The disciple will recognize their teachings that are given in disguise.
But even if we (or an angel from heaven) should preach a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be condemned to hell!
1. Mutual sharing, accountability, and prayer.
2. Discuss new terms.
3. Discuss this material.
4. Sharing of Scripture memory.
Inasmuch as Mormonism is a rapidly growing cult in the world, and since many of their teachings are deceptive and seem to be related to Scripture and historic Christianity, we want to include something about them with the hope that what we say will enable you to know how to deal with them. As with Jehovah’s Witnesses, you should not try to engage them in discussion unless you know the fundamentals of our beliefs. As with Jehovah’s Witnesses, the way of Mormonism leads to eternal death.
Mormonism springs from a fraudulent beginning and a totally different world view from Evangelicals and even Jehovah’s Witnesses. Their beginnings are fabricated and are held in much doubt. Their founder was known to be a liar. Their teachings are contrary both to natural history and the teaching of the Word of God. The Bible is not rejected, but is considered to be translated incorrectly. The world view of Mormonism is polytheism — many gods. Beside the Scriptures, the Book of Mormon, The Pearl of Great Price, and The Doctrine and Covenants are accepted as inspired. Mormonism is aggressive; young men donate time to make new Mormons before they go into a life career. They are busy knocking on doors as are the Jehovah’s Witnesses. They emphasize family life and being at home together. These and other points will be discussed in the material that follows.
We will speak first of the world view of Mormons. From the teachings of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young and their secret beliefs not talked about openly, Mormons believe in many gods. They can therefore be correctly called ___________________. We normally think of a polytheist as someone in the jungle who is uncivilized, or of early Hawaiians who had a god of volcanoes, the sea, the rain, and everything else. Mormons are as a rule well educated and civilized, but they are polytheists.
Their beginnings are built upon a lie. Joseph Smith claimed that the angel Moroni came to him in a dream showing him where golden plates were buried and he found them near Palmyra, New York. They were supposedly written in “reformed Egyptian” which is a language that has no record of existence anywhere. The Book of Mormon came from the golden plates, and they were never seen by anyone but Joseph Smith. He claimed to have translated them perfectly; however, there have been hundreds of corrections to the original translation. It was not the book translated in perfection as is claimed.
One theory of the origin of the sect of Mormonism that seems most likely is as follows. In the early 19th century, there was much speculation about the early settlers of the North American continent. Many speculative stories were written. Samuel Spaulding, a Presbyterian minister, wrote a novel about early America and gave it to a publisher to look over and give his assessment regarding its worth to be published. It was not accepted for publication and Mr. Spaulding left it at the publishers feeling it was not worth anything. Enter Joseph Smith and Samuel Rigdon. They were known to come and rummage around this old print shop, and they came upon this manuscript. Rigdon was an excommunicated Church of Christ pastor and the reputation of Joseph Smith was well known in the area. Somehow, they saw in this an opportunity to connect and gather a following. One will note doctrines related to the Church of Christ in Mormon theology, such as an emphasis upon works and the necessity of baptism for salvation (which is quite different than the Evangelical perspective). These men went to England and gathered a thousand followers from among untaught Baptists and when they returned to America, the Mormon church began. The original Spaulding writings are in the library of Oberlin University.
Major Errors in the Teaching of Mormonism
I. Mormons claim to believe that God is the eternal Father with Jesus Christ, his son, and the Holy Ghost. These three cannot, however, be construed as one. There are three gods separate in personality, united in purpose, and perfect in their perfections.
God is a progressive being, a man just as we are men. He has a body of flesh just as we have bodies of flesh. He is developing continually and was once a child as we were children. This, of course, is not what the Scriptures teach. God is spirit and has never been seen. See John 4:24 where it says ____________________________________________________ and that He is ___________________, James 1:17. God’s changelessness is also taught in the Old Testament in what way? Malachi 3:6. So according to Mormonism, God does not have the attribute of omnipresence since He has flesh and bones.
Concerning Jesus, His father was Elohim, who is a lesser god than Jehovah. See how the Scriptures contradict this belief? Luke 1:26-38. The Holy Spirit is the impersonal influence of deity. He is like electricity. How is this contradicted in Scripture? Eph. 4:30, John 14:26.
What can the Holy Spirit do that teaches His personhood?
Concerning salvation, Mormonism is a system of works and is contra-dicted by scores of verses that teach salvation is by grace through faith. The apostle Paul was especially clear when he talked of works and declared a curse on any whose teaching is other than grace. What does he say in:
Gal. 1:8, 11
II. Mormon theology teaches...
A. Salvation by works.
B. God is really a man who has progressed significantly and we can become gods also.
C. Marriage in the world to come.
D. There is no such thing as eternal punishment.
E. Salvation for those already dead can be obtained through proxy baptism.
F. Spirits from celestial marriages that are made in a Mormon temple are circling the earth waiting for bodies they might enter and begin their quest to become gods.
G. Three supposed levels of heaven - celestial, telestial, and terrestrial.
H. Multiple marriage partners for men is biblical although it is prohibited by man today (in most societies), see Ephesians 5:31.
I. That the book of Mormon is the most carefully translated book and it is true.
III. The Book of Mormon is not true for the following reasons.
A. Its supposed history is preposterous—See 2 Nephi 5:5,6,28.
How could two great nations grow from 28 people in a period of 30 years?
The mighty cities of the Nephites and Jaredites, Ether 9:23, and Alma 50:15. There are at least 38 names of cities and not one of these has ever been found in South or Central America.
B. There is no archeological evidence that “Reformed Egyptian” ever existed as a language.
IV. The Book of Mormon does not meet the tests of canonicity. See the session on Bibliology.
A quote from the head of the religion department of Brigham Young University concerning the book of Mormon is as follows:
“No one could possibly be saved and reject it…
if false, no one could possibly be saved and accept it.”
A quote from Dr. Ross T. Christenson, a Mormon anthropologist, says:
“The statement that the Book of Mormon has already been proved by archeological evidence is misleading.” (Or a lie?)
V. Finally, the Mormon church says that “revelation” is the cornerstone of the church. But what did Jesus say about this? Matt. 16:18, Eph. 2:20.
In conclusion, it is important to emphasize the grace of God and the need for Scriptural new birth. It is important to stay with the Scripture and what it says. Mormon missionaries are trained to follow a set pattern in their proselytizing. Be sure you emphasize the true gospel. Stay with the Scriptures. It will bring forth its fruit even though this may not happen right away.
Summary and Key Concepts
This has been a cursory study to acquaint you with some of the teachings of Mormonism. This system fits well the category of a cult. It beginnings are very questionable and its teachings are contrary to the teaching of the Scriptures. Mormons, unlike Jehovah’s Witnesses, are friendly and will relate with the idea of winning you to their beliefs. They have been quite successful reaching untaught Baptists. Their first converts in the British Isles were a group of baptistic people.
They believe that God is a man like we are who became the “God” He is through bearing earthly children. Every man (every good Mormon) can become a god in his own right and have his own universe. Therefore, celestial marriage is appropriate and will continue beyond physical death where spirits will continue to be born and seek earthly bodies to perpetuate their “godhood.”
Baptism is part of the necessary scheme in one’s salvation and there are arrangements made through genealogical research to baptize people for the dead “in proxy.” Why do we call them a cult? Because they teach that they have all the truth and deny salvation by grace, and because they have unscriptural writings in addition to the Bible. They teach salvation only in Mormon context.
The Maze of Mormonism by Walter Martin, Regal Books.
Related Topics: Discipleship