Mormon Theology

When I was in seminary back in the 1980′s I wrote a paper on Mormonism, reading a lot of their original and sacred documents. I sense I have a pretty firm grasp of their history and teachings, but let this be a brief synopsis of their theology.

This information does not endorse Mormonism as a valid theological belief system, so allow the Person of the Holy Spirit to guide you in knowing the truth that will set you free (John 8:32). I firmly believe that YOU CAN’T read the Bible from cover to cover and come to the conclusion that Mormonism is true.

The LDS MUST rely on lofty teachings and arguments, with secret knowledge given through their self-appointed apostles. There is biblical condemnation for false teachers by the early apostles:

These people are false apostles. They are deceitful workers who disguise themselves as apostles of Christ. But I am not surprised! Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no wonder that his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. In the end they will get the punishment their wicked deeds deserve. (2 Corinthians 11:13-15)

I am shocked that you are turning away so soon from God, who called you to himself through the loving mercy of Christ.You are following a different way that pretends to be the Good News but is not the Good News at all. You are being fooled by those who deliberately twist the truth concerning Christ. Let God’s curse fall on anyone, including us or even an angel from heaven, who preaches a different kind of Good News than the one we preached to you. I say again what we have said before: If anyone preaches any other Good News than the one you welcomed, let that person be cursed. (Galatians 1: 6-9)

We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do. We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:3-5)

In him lie hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I am telling you this so no one will deceive you with well-crafted arguments. For though I am far away from you, my heart is with you. And I rejoice that you are living as you should and that your faith in Christ is strong. (Colossians 2:3-5)

Some people may contradict our teaching, but these are the wholesome teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. These teachings promote a godly life. Anyone who teaches something different is arrogant and lacks understanding. Such a person has an unhealthy desire to quibble over the meaning of words. This stirs up arguments ending in jealousy, division, slander, and evil suspicions. These people always cause trouble. Their minds are corrupt, and they have turned their backs on the truth. To them, a show of godliness is just a way to become wealthy. (1 Timothy 6:3-5)

Statistics:

  • Founder: Joseph Smith
  • Founding Date: April 6, 1830
  • Scriptures:
    • Book of Mormon
    • Doctrine and Covenants
    • Pearl of Great Price

Organizational Structure:

  1. One prophet leads the Church.
  2. Beneath the prophet in authority is the Council of the Twelve Apostles.
  3. A third group of men are called the First and Second Councils of the Seventy.
  4. All of these men together are called the General Authorities.

Unique Terms:

  1. Local churches called Wards or Stake Centers.
  2. The Temples are not for worship, but are used for ceremonies for the living and the dead.
  3. Less than ten percent of all LDS are allowed to enter these structures.

Theological History:

Born in 1805 in Sharon, Vermont, Joseph Smith would begin just a few years later what would become one of the world’s largest and fastest growing non-Christian religions.

According to the official story of the LDS Church, in 1820 Smith was visited by God the Father and God the Son after praying about which church he should join. He was told by Jesus, he should join none of them for they were “all wrong” and all the Christian church’s doctrines “were an abomination” (Joseph Smith – History 19, Pearl of Great Price).

This First Vision was followed by several visits from an angel named Moroni who, in 1827, allowed Smith to find a set of Golden Plates which had been buried in a hill near Smith’s home in Palmyra, New York. These golden tables became the Book of Mormon, published in 1830.

Doctrines:

Trinity: Mormonism is a polytheistic religion. Joseph Smith declared, “I will preach on the plurality of Gods. I have always declared God to be a distinct personage, Jesus Christ a separate and distinct personage from God the Father, and the Holy Ghost was a distinct personage and a Spirit: and these three constitute three distinct personages and three Gods” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 370).

Mormon Apostle Bruce R. McConkie spoke about the Godhead in this way, “Plurality of Gods: Three separate personages: Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, comprise the Godhead. As each of these persons is a God, it is evident, from this standpoint alone, that a plurality of Gods exists. To us, speaking in the proper finite sense, these three are the only Gods we worship. But in addition there is an infinite number of holy personages, drawn from worlds without number, who have passed on to exaltation and are thus gods” (Mormon Doctrine, pp. 576-577).

God the Father: Joseph Smith explained, “I am going to tell you how God came to be God. We have imagined and supposed that God was God from all eternity. I will refute that idea, and take away the veil, so that you may see. He was once a man like us; yea, that God himself, the father of us all, dwelt on an earth, the same as Jesus Christ Himself did” (LDS History of the Church, Vol. 6, p. 305).

God the Son: Brigham Young stated, “The birth of the Saviours was a natural as are the births of our children; it was the result of natural action. He partook of flesh and blood, was begotten of his Father, as we were of our father” (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 8, p. 115).

Mormon Apostle McConkie explained, “And Christ was born into the world as a literal Son this Holy Being; he was born in the same personal, real, and literal sense that any mortal son is born to a mortal father. He was begotten, conceived and born in the normal and natural course of events (Mormon Doctrine, p. 742).

Jesus, according to Milton Hunter of the LDS First Council of the Seventy, is the brother of Lucifer. “The appointment of Jesus to be the Savior of the world was contested by one of the other sons of God. He was called Lucifer, son of the morning. Haughty, ambitious, and covetous of power and glory, this spirit-brother of Jesus desperately tried to become the Savior of mankind” (The Gospel Through the Ages, p. 15).

God the Holy Ghost / Holy Spirit: In Mormonism a distinction is drawn between the Holy Ghost and the Holy Spirit.

As LDS Apostle Marion G. Romney stated, “The Holy Ghost is a person, a spirit, the third member of the Godhead” (Ensign May 1977, 43-44).

The sixth LDS prophet, Joseph F. Smith explains that the Holy Spirit is not a person but rather an impersonal force. “You may call it the Spirit of God, you may call it the influence of God’s intelligence, you may call it the substance of his power; no matter what it is called, it is the spirit of intelligence that permeates the universe” (Mormon Doctrine, McConkie, pp. 752-753).

Man’s Destiny: As Lorenzo Snow, fifth prophet of the LDS Church exclaimed, “As man now is, God once was; as God now is, man may be” (Ensign, February 1982, pp. 39-40). This means that every worthy male, according to the standards of Mormonism, will become a god and rule over their own planet. But what about the women? That question was answered by Joseph Fielding Smith, tenth prophet of the Church, when he spoke of Man’s salvation or exaltation as it is called in Mormonism.

“The Father has promised us that through our faithfulness we shall be blessed with the fullness of his kingdom. In other words we will have the privilege of becoming like him. To become like him we must have all the powers of godhood; thus a man and his wife when glorified will have spirit children who eventually will go on an earth like this one we are on and pass through the same kind of experiences, being subject to mortal conditions, and if faithful, then they also will receive the fullness of exaltation and partake of the same blessings. There is no end to this development; it will go on forever. We will become gods and have jurisdiction over world, and these world will be peopled by our own offspring. We will have an endless eternity for this” (Doctrines of Salvation, Vol. 2, 48).

Other Doctrines Worth Noting:

  1. God the Father is married and there is a Mother God (Answers to Gospel Questions, Joseph Fielding Smith, Vol. 3, pp. 143-144).
  2. All men and women who have ever lived on the earth are the spirit offspring of Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother. Every person was conceived and born in a pre-existent spiritual realm (Mormon Doctrine, p. 589).
  3. Black people are black because of their misdeeds in the pre-existence (Three Degrees of Glory, LDS Apostle Melvin J. Ballard, p. 21).
  4. Temple ceremonies include Baptism for the Dead, Washing and Anointing for the living and the dead (Mormon Doctrine, McConkie, pp. 72-74, 226-228).
  5. Salvation or exaltation, whereby men become gods, is based on one’s own good works or merit (Church News, October 8, 1988, p. 23 and The Religion of the Latter-day Saints, Lowell Bennion, LDS Institute of Religion Director, p. 160).
  6. The Bible is considered usable, but suspect due to its many errors and missing parts (Articles of Faith No. 8, Ensign January 1989, pp. 25, 27).

Biblical Response:

  1. Only one God (Isaiah 43:10, 44:6-8, 45:5-6, 18, 22, 46:9, 48:12, 1 Corinthians 8:4).
  2. Mankind is not a son or daughter of God from a pre-existent birth (John 1:12 “power to become”).
  3. Salvation is a free gift from God, not something to be worked for or earned (Romans 3:24, 4:4-5, 5:1, Ephesians 2:8-10, Titus 3:5-7).
  4. Holy Spirit is a Person, not simply a force (John 16:13-14).

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Being a Disciple of Jesus

This is a poem written by Jefferson Bethke to highlight the difference between Jesus and false religion. In the Bible, Jesus received the most opposition from the most religious people of his day. At it’s core Jesus’ gospel and the good news of the Cross is in pure opposition to self-righteousness/self-justification.

Religion is man centered, Jesus is God-centered. This poem highlights his journey to discover this truth. Religion either ends in pride or despair. Pride because you make a list and can do it and act better than everyone, or despair because you can’t do your own list of rules and feel “not good enough” for God.

With Jesus though you have humble confident joy because He represents you; you don’t represent yourself. His sacrifice is perfect, putting us in perfect standing with God!

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