I just finished reading Leaving Mormonism: Why Four Scholars Changed Their Minds and thought it might be helpful to share some statements made within Mormon Doctrines that Christians should be familiar with. (LDS stands for Latter Day Saints which is the name of the Mormon Church)
#1: Mormonism teaches that a man is saved by grace only after exerting all of their own effort. “For we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.” (2 Nephi 25:23) This is supported by Mormon apostle and prophet Spencer Kimball who says “One of the most fallacious doctrines originated by Satan and propounded by man is that man is saved alone by the grace of God; that belief in Jesus Christ alone is all that is needed for salvation.”1 This is another gospel that the Apostle Paul warned about. (Galatians 1:6-9) This is counter Christian. It is in direct conflict with Ephesians 2:8-9 “For by grace you have been saved through faith… not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Sola Gratia. Grace alone.
#2: Mormonism teaches that man can become a capital “G” God . Brigham Young (Joseph Smith’s successor) stated that “The Lord created you and me for the purpose of becoming Gods like Himself.”2 This is very close to the lie that Eve fell for in the Garden. “The day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God.” (Genesis 3:5) Just in case you want to argue that this is perhaps a different meaning of the word God, proceed to the next point.
#3: Mormonism teaches that God was once a man. Lorenzo Snow, another Mormon prophet and apostle who was a contemporary of Smith, stated that “If ever there was a thing revealed to man perfectly, clearly that there could be no doubt or dubiety, this was revealed to me, and it came in these words: ‘As man now is, God once was; as God now is, man may be.’”3 Joseph Smith approved of this truth. When Snow told him about it, Smith replied, “Brother Snow, that is true gospel doctrine, and it is a revelation from God to you.” Malachi 3:6 states rather plainly “For I, the LORD, do not change.” Psalm 90:2 states “even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.” From everlasting is clearly stating that no matter how far you go back in eternity God was still God and He does not change.
#4: Mormonism teaches that God the Father is flesh, physical in nature, and was born of a woman. The sixth Mormon president and prophet stated that “I know that God is a being with body, parts and passions… Man was born of woman; Christ, the Savior, was born of woman; and God, the Father, was born of woman.”4 And just in case you want two witnesses the tenth Mormon president, Joseph Fielding Smith, said, “Our Father in heaven, according to the Prophet, had a Father; and since there has been a condition of this kind through all eternity, each Father had a Father.”5 God would seem to think otherwise “I am the first and I am the last, and there is no God besides Me.” (Isaiah 44:6) God is the first, therefore He could not have had a Father. God goes on to say “I am the LORD, and there is no other; Besides Me there is no God.” (Isaiah 45:5) For God to have been born there would have had to have been some kind of God before Him, His Word says otherwise. Finally, John 4:24 blatantly teaches that God is spirit not flesh.
#5: Mormonism teaches that the gates of hell did prevail against the church. Jesus said in Matthew 16:18 that “I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.” Joseph smith thought otherwise. He taught that he was used to restore the church that had been completely overpowered during the Great Apostasy. After the twelve died, the church fell and remained in a fallen state for roughly 1700 years. Listen to Smith’s words “I have more to boast of than ever any man had. I am the only man that has ever been able to keep a whole church together since the days of Adam… Neither Paul, John, Peter, nor Jesus ever did it. I boast that no man ever did such a work as I. The followers of Jesus ran away from Him; but the Latter-day Saints never ran away from me yet.”6
#6: The Book of Mormon is racist. Although modern Mormon leaders have and do teach against racism the LDS scriptures are clearly racist. Alma 3:6 states that “The skins of the Lamanites were dark, according to the mark which was set upon their fathers, which was a curse upon them because of their transgressions and their rebellion.”7 This is commonly called the “curse of Cain.” Another obviously racist verse is found in 3 Nephi 2:15 “And their curse was taken from them, and their skin became white like unto the Nephites.”8 Overall, there are 26 LDS scriptures that at face value are racist.9 Furthermore, until 1978 blacks were forbidden from holding a priesthood10 and could not attend Brigham Young University until the 1960s.11 An argument could be made that Christians are guilty of great racism too, and I fully concede that point. However, the distinction is that these racist teachings are in the Mormon scriptures whereas the Bible was revolutionary with inclusive verses like Galatians 3:28: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” One can easily assume that this verse teaches that there is neither black nor white as well.
Christians cannot consider the LDS a true church. We must not compromise on this when their teachings are so contrary to what the Bible teaches. We must love our Mormon neighbors by not allowing them to believe that we think they have an essential knowledge of the truth. (Romans 10:2) We must seek to respectfully and gently engage in discussion that brings them to the life giving Word of God and away from the false gospel and false god that has ensnared them. There is only one God who saves. There is only one Gospel that saves. There is only one Truth that sets free. Every Mormon desperately needs the true God, the saving Gospel and the only Truth. May we be faithful to share it with them in great love and unwavering truth.
(On a side note, while Leaving Mormonism was a great book and a very informative read, I must say that I am critical of Chapter 5: Wrestling with Nature and God. While I appreciate James Eccles honesty and many of his thoughts, he is too liberal in his theology for me to endorse. (he is a self-described moderate Protestant and I agree with his self-description) I would definitely consider him a brother in Christ, but his dogmatic elevated view of science and placing it on an exact par with God’s Word is an untenable position, from my perspective, for a Christian to hold. I will be having a five part blog series related to this topic shortly. I enjoyed reading someone of a much different perspective, but there were other areas of concern as well, especially his over focus on God’s love without drawing necessary attention to His other attributes as well, such as His wrath and His justice. This chapter makes me uncomfortable about recommending this book to a Mormon in a faith crisis and who could be influenced by what I see as theology that is approaching a dangerous level. Not dangerous yet, but nearer to that line than I would want someone reevaluating their faith to be influenced by.)
- Leaving Mormonism: Why Four Scholars Changed Their Minds; Corey Miller, Lynn K. Wilder, Vince Eccles, and Latayne C. Scott; (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2017) Ch:2 In Search of the Good Life, 45
- Ibid. 60; quote from: Brigham Young, August 8, 1852, Journal of Discourses 3:93
- Ibid. 75; quote from: “Unchangeable Love of God”, September, 18, 1898, Collected Discourses 5.453
- Ibid. 77; quote from: Search These Commandments: Melchizedek Priesthood Personal News, (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1984), 152
- Ibid. 77; quote from : Doctrines of Salvation 2:42
- Ibid. 28; quote from: Joseph Smith, History of the Church, 7 vols., ed. B.H. Roberts, 2nd ed. (Salt Lake City: Desert Book Co., 1978), 1:19
- Ibid. Ch 4: Social Consequences of Mormon Teachings: Finding Post-Mormon Mental Health,171
- Ibid. 172
- Ibid. 172
- Ibid. 158
- Ibid. 159
* All Christian scriptures from: NASB Thinline Bible, Zondervan, (2002: Grand Rapids, Michigan)