Most Mormons are unaware of the fact that early LDS leaders taught that God the Father was actually married to Mary, Jesus’ mother. Brigham Young, second President, and Prophet of the LDS Church stated:

This matter was a little changed in the case of the Savior of the world, the Son of the living God. The man Joseph, the husband of Mary, did not, that we know of, have more than one wife, but Mary the wife of Joseph had another husband. On this account infidels have called the Savior a bastard. This is merely a human opinion upon one of the inscrutable doings of the Almighty. That very babe that was cradled in the manger, was begotten, not by Joseph, the husband of Mary, but by another Being. Do you inquire by whom? He was begotten by God our heavenly, father (Journal of Discourses, 11:268; emphasis added)

LDS Apostle and General Authority, Orson Pratt explains clearly:

but it was the personage of the Father who begat the body of Jesus; and for this reason Jesus is called the Only Begotten of the Father; that is, the only one in this world whose fleshly body was begotten by the Father. There were millions of sons and daughters whom He begat before the foundation of the world, but they were spirits, and not bodies of flesh and bones; whereas, both the spirit and body of Jesus were begotten by the Father the spirit having been begotten in heaven many ages before the tabernacle was begotten upon the earth. The fleshly body of Jesus required a Mother as well as a Father.

Therefore, the Father and Mother of Jesus, according to the flesh, must have been associated together in the capacity of Husband and Wife; hence the Virgin Mary must have been, for the time being, the lawful wife of God the Father: we use the term lawful Wife, because it would be blasphemous in the highest degree to say that He overshadowed her or begat the Saviour unlawfully. It would have been unlawful for any man to have interfered with Mary, who was already espoused to Joseph; for such a heinous crime would have subjected both the guilty parties to death, according to the law of Moses. But God having created all men and women, had the most perfect right to do with His own creation, according to His holy will and pleasure; He had a lawful right to overshadow the Virgin Mary in the capacity of a husband, and beget a Son, although she was espoused to another; for the law which He gave to govern men and women was not intended to govern Himself; or to prescribe rules for his own conduct.
It was also lawful in Him, after having thus dealt with Mary, to give Mary to Joseph her espoused husband. Whether God the Father gave Mary to Joseph for time only, or for time and eternity, we are not informed. Inasmuch as God was the first husband to her, it may be that He only gave her to be the wife of Joseph while in this mortal state, and that He intended after the resurrection to again take her as one of his own wives to raise up immortal spirits in eternity (Orson Pratt, The Seer, 158; emphasis added).

Orson Pratt agrees with Young when he says, “the Father and Mother of Jesus, according to the flesh, must have been associated together in the capacity of Husband and Wife; hence the Virgin Mary must have been, for the time being, the lawful wife of God the Father. Keep in mind Pratt was a Mormon Apostle he was a General Authority of the LDS Church.

The worst part of this teaching is: in LDS theology, all of human-kind are the literal off-spring (by sexual relations) of God the Father and one of His wives in heaven. Thus, God the Father married Mary, His own daughter, and begot Jesus by her. But, if Mormons say that they disagree with this pagan teaching they are, to be sure, repudiating a LDS Prophet and Apostle as false teachers.

 

Ontological Monotheism: The belief in one God by nature (biblical Christianity).

LDS system of God, Polytheism: The belief in more that one true God (technically, the LDS embraces Henotheism: i.e., worshiping only one God, while acknowledging  the existence of many true Gods):

 

LDS founder Joseph Smith: (April 7, 1844, conference of the Church in Nauvoo, Illinois):

God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens. . . ! 

for 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. . . . 

Here, then, is eternal life—to know the only wise and true God; and you have got to learn how to be gods yourselves, and to be kings and priests to God, the same as all gods have done before you. . . .

Joseph Smith  (Meeting in the Grove, east of the Temple, June 16, 1844; Smith was murdered [shot] just days later on June 27th):  

I will preach on the plurality of Gods . . . I have always and in all congregations when I have preached on the subject of Deity, it has been the plurality of Gods. . . . Jesus Christ a separate and distinct personage from God the Father, and that 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, 370).

 

Brigham Young, second President and Prophet:

There was never a time when there were not Gods and worlds, and men were not passing through the same ordeals that we are now passing through (Brigham Young, Discourses of Brigham Young, 22-23).

 

Mormon Apostle Orson Pratt declared:

In the Heaven where our spirits were born, there are many Gods, each one of whom has his own wife or wives which are given to him previous to his redemption; while yet in his mortal state (Orson Pratt, The Seer, 135).

In devastating contrast to LDS doctrine, Scripture has always taught that there is only one true God. Anything can be called a god, money, your job, your car, etc. However, the position of Scripture is unavoidable- ontological monotheism, that is, by nature there exists one God. John 17:3 states: “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.” Whereby all other so-called gods are false.

The apostle Paul makes a crystal clear demarcation of false gods and the one true God in 1 Corinthians 8:4-5, “There is no God but one… many ‘gods’ many ‘lords’ yet for us there is but one God.” Underlining this central theme of Scripture, Paul reminds the Galatians, when they did not know God- they were slaves to those who by nature were not gods (cf. 4:8). Mormons champion polytheism, thus by maintaining this false notion, the Mormons have deviated from the essential truth of God.

Again, this must be stressed: the fundamental difference between historic orthodox Christianity and Mormonism is that Christianity maintains the belief in one immutable, Eternal God by nature. He does not grow, change, or progress (cf. Mal. 3:6). He is God from all eternity, Creator (not organizer)1 of everything that exists. Absolute monotheism has always been the distinctive principle “norm” of the Jews and Christians alike. Never has the church or any of the church Fathers held to the pagan doctrine of many Gods.

Pure monotheism (ontologically) is the core of Christian theology from which all other doctrines flow. The first lie ever told to humankind was from Satan, in the Garden of Eden. “Ye shall be as gods. . .” (Gen. 3:5).

 

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD (Deut. 6:4)

Literally: “Hear, O Israel: Jehovah our Elohim is one Jehovah.” The Mormons argue: “we don’t worship those other Gods.” But, whether or not someone worships these “other Gods” is wholly irrelevant, the question is: how many Gods are there? For the Mormon there is an infinite number of Gods.

To ensure that no one will be confused God explains again and again that no other Gods exists! Particularly in the book of Isaiah, where absolute monotheism (one God by nature) is incontrovertible:

Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: That ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he; before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me (Isa. 43:10).

Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of host; I am the first, I am the last; and beside me there is no God (Isa. 44:6).

Fear ye not, neither be afraid: have not I told thee from that time, and have declared it? ye are even my witnesses. Is there a God beside me? yea, there is no God; I know of not any (Isa. 44:8).

God asks the question: “Is there a God beside me?” The Mormon who believes the LDS doctrine would have to say yes, but God responds sharply: “NO, there is no God, I know of not any.”

Thus saith the LORD, thy redeemer, and he that formed thee from tee womb, I am the LORD that maketh all things; that stretch forth the heaven alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself (Isa. 44:24).

I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me. . . . (Isa. 45:5).

All throughout Scripture God consistently affirms that He is the only true God:

Unto thee it was shewed, that thou mightiest know that the LORD he is God; there is none else beside him (Deut. 4:35)

Know ye that the LORD he is God (Ps. 100:3)

In the New Testament, one of the scribes had asked Jesus, “Which is the greatest commandment in the law?” Jesus answered: “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD.”

The polytheistic teaching of the LDS Church certainly contradicts the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Reducing God to the same species as man while denying that God was always God for eternity

Mormons worship a changing god that is not eternally God. What he was before, he is not today. Mormons say that God was once a man that lived on a planet similar to this one. He progressed and was exalted to become the God of this planet by His Father God Who Himself is an exalted man that lives on the planet Kolob.2 Without question, the faithful followers of the Mormon Church reject the Word of God: “For I am the LORD, I change not. . . . ” (Mal. 3:6).

The doctrine of many Gods then, will always be the primary and fundamental difference that excludes the Mormon religion from bona fide orthodox Christianity and hence true salvation. Polytheism is the radical corruption that disturbs sound biblical theology. Christianity is cradled in monotheistic Judaism: “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD.” Remember, Joseph Smith did not invent polytheism: “the day you eat thereof . . . you shall be as god. . . ” (Gen. 3:5).

 

Standard Mormon Arguments

1) Gen. 1:26, 27, “Let us make man in our image.”

Response: Verse 27 says God created man: “in His own image.” Not- ” in their image.” Man is not in the image of angels hence the Members of the Trinity were conversing (cf. John 14:23). Also, God is invisible He does not have physicality (cf. 2 Ch. 6:18; esp. John 1:18; Col. 1:15; 1 Tim. 1:17; 6:16).

2) John 10:34, (Ps. 82:6) “I said Ye are gods.”

Response: First of all in John 10:34 Jesus said, “Ye are gods” is in the present tense, ruling out the possibility that they were really true Gods on earth. Note that in LDS theology, the hope of becoming God is in the future. Thus, this passage provides no comfort for Mormons.

In John 10:34, Jesus is quoting from Psalm 82:6. The defining context of verses 1 through 8 is speaking of wicked judges. Verse 2 says, “How long will ye judge unjustly, and accept the persons of the wicked?” Verse 5 says, These wicked judges “walk in darkness” Verse 7 says, “ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes.” Die like men? That does not sound like true Gods.

The context of John 10:30-36 is clear. In verse 30, Jesus claims to be equal with God. Because of that, the Jews wanted to kill Him (v. 31). In verse 33, the Jews understood His claim to be God. Jesus then quotes Psalm 82: “Ye are gods.” Jesus here (John 10:34-36) that the Father called them “gods” (Ps. 82) not because they were true deity but they were “to whom the word of God came” (John 10:35) and were supposed to be the representatives and judges for God (called Elohim).. However, the genesis of men being representation of and even called Elohim is back in in Exod. 18:17-27. Thus (because they represented God) subsequently these judges were actually termed Elohim starting in Exod. 21:6; cf. 22:8, 9, etc.

These judges in Ps 82, however, were wicked; hence, God called them “gods” in irony. In verse 36, Jesus goes on to explain if the wicked Judges were called gods in irony, how can you stone me for claiming I am the true Son of God?

Even LDS scholar and Apostle James E. Talmage agrees. In his book Jesus the Christ, Talmage explains John 10:34-36 under the heading : “Divinely Appointed Judges Called Gods-In Psalm 82:6. . . .” (James E. Talmage, Jesus The Christ, 501; 15TH ed.).

3) Matt. 3:16, 17; Ac. 7:55, 56, Two personages (hence in LDS thought: 3 separate Gods).

Response: These verses do not conflict with the doctrine of the Trinity that states there is three distinct (not separate) Persons that share the nature of the one Being (cf. Matt. 28:19; John 1:1; 2 Cor. 13:14; Eph. 2:18).

In Acts 7:55, Stephen sees the glory of God and Jesus standing on the right hand of God. The term “right hand” must be understood in a Jewish context. “Right hand” was a Jewish idiom that meant, “place on honor” or “position of authority” (e.g., Exod. 15:6, 12; Job 40:14; Ps. 48:10; 73:23; Isa. 41:10; Matt. 26:64). The text does not say Stephen saw two Gods.

4) 1 Cor. 8:5, “many gods and many lords.”

Response: The entire context of the chapter deals with idols. You can call anything a god: money, car, job, hay, wood, stubble, but these would be false gods (idols). By nature, there is exists one true Eternal God (Gal. 4:8). Notice Paul declares that there is only one God (v. 6).

For all the gods of the people are idols: but the LORD made the heavens and the earth (1 Chron. 16:26).

There exists one Eternal God by nature that has always been God: e.g., Deut. 4:35; Isa. 43:10; 44:6, 8, 24; 45:5; Ps. 90:2; 100:3; Jer. 10:10, 11; John 17:3; Gal. 4:8

Note the plain reading of Isaiah 44:6, 8:

Thus saith the LORD [Jehovah] the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God. . . .

 

Fear ye not, neither be afraid: have not I told thee from that time, and have declared it? ye are even my witnesses. Is there a God beside me? yea, there is NO God; I know NOT ANY (emphasis added).

Notes

1, In LDS theology God does not create anything He merely “organizes” eternal matter. Joseph Smith explains:

I am right, I might with boldness proclaim from the house–tops that God never had the he power to create the spirit of man at all (Teaching s of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 354).

Of course, this idea does not, in no way shape or form, square with Scripture. The Bible presents God as Creator (e.g., Gen. 1:1; Isa. 44:24; 45:18; Jer. 10:10, 11; John 1:3; Col. 1:16-18; Heb. 1:2, 10).

2, Pearl of Great Price: Abraham, 3:9.

A Distortion of the Trinity

Before examining the Christological teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (i.e., Mormons, hereafter LDS), the LDS doctrine of Exaltation must be defined. Basically, it teaches the idea of man becoming a God. According to the LDS, it is salvation in its “truest sense”—“eternal life.” It is ultimate goal of every “devoted” Mormon male. Exaltation is the very heart of LDS theology. First President and founder of the LDS Church, Joseph Smith Jr., explains that

God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens. . . . for 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; and I will show it from the Bible. . . . you have got to learn how to be Gods yourselves . . . the same as all Gods have done before you, namely, by going from one small degree to another. . . .[1]

Consequently, the Mormon Jesus (and the Father) had to learn also how to become a God “the same as all Gods have done before.” Hence, the LDS envisage Jesus as one of the three separate Gods (but “one” in purpose) for this world. Further, LDS Apostle Bruce R. McConkie, who was honored for his scholarship by former LDS President, Ezra Taft Benson, comments on the LDS version of the Godhead:

Three separate personages—Father, Son, and the 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. . . . these three are the only Gods we worship (emphasis added).[2]

The LDS faulty view of Christ[3] starts with their faulty view of the Trinity (“Godhead” in LDS vernacular)—as thee separate Gods.

The LDS Main Assertion: Jesus became a God

As with many ancient and current heresies (e.g., Adoptionism), the LDS teaches that Jesus obtained His “full deity” at a point in time. Though they assert He was a God in a sense before coming to earth, as discussed below. Just like His Father, He lived as a mortal man learning and “growing in wisdom” on earth. We are told that He had “worked out His own salvation” and eventually, after His resurrection, was exalted to full Godhood. Presently, as the LDS maintains, Jesus exists as one of the three separate Gods for this world. In LDS thinking, all who are Gods now (as with the Father) were once mere men who became Gods.

LDS Apostle Lorenzo Snow (who became the fifth President of the LDS Church), sums up the LDS man-to-God doctrine in a short, but most quoted, couplet: “As man now is, God once was; as God now is, man may become.” So, in LDS theology, man and God are of the “same species.”[4] In other words, according to the LDS, there is no quality difference between mortal man and Jesus. The only difference: Jesus at present is exalted as a God, while all men here are still mortal only hoping for a future exaltation after death—if deemed worthy enough.

The LDS teaches that Jesus was the “firstborn” (cf. Col. 1:15), that is, the first “spirit child” (while Lucifer being second spirit child born) of God the Father and the Mother God (one of His wives) in heaven—by sexual relations. In his definitive doctrinal glossary (i.e., Mormon Doctrine) under the title “Firstborn,” McConkie affirms that “Christ is the Firstborn, meaning that he was the first Spirit Child born to God the Father in pre-existence.”[5] In his book The Promised Messiah, McConkie goes on to say:

Implicit in his spirit birth as the Firstborn is the fact that, as with all the spirit children of the Father, he had a beginning; there was a day when he came into being as a conscious identity, as a spirit entity, as an organized intelligence.[6]

What is extraordinarily problematic in LDS Christology is the question: How did Jesus become a God in a sense in His pre-existent life before going through a “probationary time” on earth as a mere mortal man? This is a prerequisite and vital part of becoming a God (Exaltation) in LDS theology. This entire process: pre-existence,[7] to mortality (on earth), to the Spirit world, then, Godhood (if worthy enough) is what the LDS call Eternal Progression. It explains man’s “progression” from their “first estate” as spirit children in heaven, to their “second estate” on earth where they acquire mortality, then, after their death and resurrection (from the so-called “Spirit world”), they will proceed to their final abode: one of the three kingdoms or heavens.[8]

However, the question remains: Since according to the LDS, Jesus was a God in some sense before coming to earth, how then did He become a God without going through the so-called eternal progression? Not much literature has been written on the subject. Yet, tenth President of the LDS Church, Joseph Fielding Smith, gave an explanation in his Doctrines of Salvation, under the title: “CHRIST WORKED OUT HIS OWN SALVATION”:

CHRIST BEGAN MORTALITY AS MEN DO. Our Savior was God before he was born into this world, and he brought with him that same status when he came here. . . . But as far as this life is concerned it appears that he had to start just as all other children do. . . . John records that “he received not of the fullness at the first,” but had to progress “from grace to grace, until he received a fullness.” Paul wrote, “Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered” [Heb. 5:8].[9]

A page later, Smith explains that even though Jesus was “God before he was born into this world,” He was not God in the fullest sense until after His resurrection:

CHRIST GAINED FULLNESS AFTER RESURRECTION.
The Savior did not have fullness at first, but after he received his body and the resurrection, all power was given unto him both in heaven and in earth. Although he was a God . . . yet there were some things lacking which he did not receive until after his resurrection. In other words he had not received the fullness until he got a resurrected body, and the same is true with those who through faithfulness become sons of God.[10]

By maintaining that Jesus in His pre-existence was a God, in some sense, before going through His probationary state as mortal man and before He was supposedly married contradicts the LDS fundamental doctrine of Eternal Progression. To circumvent this doctrine, LDS General Authorities like Fielding Smith simply assert that Jesus was “lacking some things which he did not receive until after his resurrection.” The denial of the full deity of the Son, Jesus Christ, is a common feature of every non-Christian cult. The LDS Jesus was an incomplete God—nothing unique, nothing special about this God only that He is now one of the separate Gods for this world.

A BIBLICAL REFUTATION:

To effectively refute LDS Christology, an adequate understanding of the Trinity must be first apprehended.

The Trinity teaches that there is ONE eternal God[11] who has revealed Himself in three co-equal, co-eternal, and co-existent distinct Persons—not separate Gods. Note: the very foundation of the Trinity is ontological monotheism.[12] The biblical data for the Trinity is massive.[13] That Jesus did not eternally exist as God and was the “literal brother” of the created angel Lucifer, as the LDS teach, is easily and clearly refuted by a few biblical points:

1. Jesus is presented in Scripture as eternally existing as God (e.g., John 1:1, 18; Phil. 2:6-11[14]; Heb. 1:3).

2. Jesus created “all things” including all the angels as with Lucifer (e.g., John 1:3; Col. 1:16-17; Heb. 1:8-10).

3. Only God is to be worshipped (cf. Exod. 20:5), yet Jesus was worshipped: e.g., by wise men (Matt. 2:11); by a leper (8:2); by His disciples (14:33; 28:17); by a blind man (John 9:38); by all the angels (Heb. 1:6); by all of creation (Rev. 5:13-14).

The Mormons claim (along with other non-Christian cults such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses and Oneness Pentecostals) that “Jesus Christ is Lord,” but, to be sure, they are speaking of a different Christ and thus, a different God than that which has been revealed in Holy Scripture (cf. John 8:24; 17:3).

SEE ALSO: The Christological Assertions of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, with Exegetical Refutations

NOTES

[1] Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 345-47.

[2] Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 576-77.

[3] The LDS also believes that in the OT, Jehovah (“LORD”) is Jesus and Elohim (“God”) is the Father. However, the compound phrase, Jehovah-Elohim (or more properly, Yahweh-Elohim) refers to the one true God (e.g., Deut. 6:4)—occurring over 500 times. Further, Jesus is called Elohim at places such as Isa. 9:6; 40:3; Ps. 45:6-7 and the Father is called Jehovah (Yahweh, “LORD”) at Isa. 53:6. Even more, false gods are called Elohim (e.g., Ps. 96:5; Jer. 10:11).

[4] Parley P. Pratt, Key to the Science of Theology, 33

[5] McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 281.

[6] McConkie, The Promised Messiah, 165. The LDS also uses the term “firstborn” and well as “begotten in the flesh” to show that (a) Jesus was the first spirit child born in heaven and (b) as to His physical body on earth, He was sexually procreated by God the Father and the Virgin Mary (see McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 546-47, 742). However, an unfamiliarity with biblical languages causes LDS teachers to misdefine and confuse the Greek words prōtotokos, “firstborn” (meaning, “supremacy/preeminence,” cf. Ps. 89:27; Col. 1:15-17) and monogenēs, “begotten” (meaning, “unique one,” “one and only,” not “created one,” cf. John 1:18; Heb. 11:17). As pointed out below, what quickly demolishes their argument is that Scripture presents Jesus as the Creator of “all things” (cf. John 1:3; Col. 1:16-17; Heb. 1:8-10), whereas Satan, who the LDS claim was Jesus’ “literal” spirit brother, was a created angel (cf. Ezek. 28:13).

[7] The LDS doctrine of Pre-existence is the so-called “prior state” of humans as “spirit children” before coming to earth.

[8] The supposed three levels of heavens are called the Telestial being the lowest, the Terrestrial, and the Celestial kingdom being the highest where Mormons who made it to Godhood dwell. Hell, on the other hand, is a temporary holding place where all the wicked will be tormented, then, after their resurrection, they will go on to the Telestial heaven. Thus, Hell will have an end. But the Devil, his angels, and the sons of perdition (e.g., folks that speak-out against the LDS) will be tormented in “outer darkness” forever (cf. Mormon Doctrine, 349-50, 746).

[9] Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 1:32.

[10] Ibid., 1:33

[11] Cf. Deut. 6:4; Isa. 43:10; 44:6, 8; Jer. 10:10-11; 1 Tim. 2:5.

[12] Ontology is the study of “nature” or “being.” Thus, ontological monotheism means that there is only one true God by nature. Mormons believe that there are countless “true Gods” that exist on other worlds, thus they worship only the God for this world. However, opposing this polytheistic view, the Apostle Paul states that “when you did not know God, you were slaves to those which by nature are no gods” (Gal. 4:8).

[13] E.g., Matt. 28:19; Luke 10:21; 2 Cor. 13:14; Titus 3:5-7; etc.

[14] Phil. 2:6 reads: “who being [huparchōn] in very nature [morphē] God.” The term translated “being” is huparchōn, which is a present tense participle indicating a “continuous existence,” “continually subsisting.” (cf. Thayer). Thus, the Son always (continually) existed in the nature (morphē) of God (cf. Heb. 1:3).

The titled page of the the Book of Mormon reads:

The Testimony Of Three Witnesses

BE IT KNOWN unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, unto whom this work shall come: That we, through the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, have seen the plates which contain this record, which is a record of the people of Nephi, and also of the Lamanites, their brethren, and also of the people of Jared, who came from the tower of which hath been spoken. And we also know that they have been translated by the gift and power of God, for his voice hath declared it unto us; wherefore we know of a surety that the work is true. And we also testify that we have seen the engravings which are upon the plates; and they have been shown unto us by the power of God, and not of man. And we declare with words of soberness, that an angel of God came down from heaven, and he brought and laid before our eyes, that we beheld and saw the plates, and the engravings thereon; and we know that it is by the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, that we beheld and bear record that these things are true. And it is marvelous in our eyes. Nevertheless, the voice of the Lord commanded us that we should bear record of it; wherefore, to be obedient unto the commandments of God, we bear testimony of these things. And we know that if we are faithful in Christ, we shall rid our garments of the blood of all men, and be found spotless before the judgment-seat of Christ, and shall dwell with him eternally in the heavens.. And the honor be to the Father, & to the Son, & to the Holy Ghost, which is One God. Amen.’ Signed: Oliver Cowdery & David Whitmer & Martin Harris

And Also The Testimony Of Eight Witnesses
BE IT KNOWN unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, unto whom this work shall come: That Joseph Smith, Jun., the translator of this work, has shown unto us the plates of which hath been spoken, which have the appearance of gold ; and as many of the leaves as the said Smith has translated we did handle with our hands; and we also saw the engravings thereon, all of which has the appearance of ancient work, and of curious workmanship. And this we bear record with words of soberness, that the said Smith has shown unto us, for we have seen and hefted, and know of a surety that the said Smith has got the plates of which we have spoken. And we give our names unto the world, to witness unto the world that which we have seen. And we lie not, God bearing witness of it.

Signed: Christian Whitmer & Hiram Page & Jacob Whitmer & Joseph Smith, Sen. Peter Whitmer, Jun. & Hyrum Smith & John Whitmer & Samuel H. Smith

Who got the vision?

John Whitmer (David’s brother), one of the eight witnesses, wrote the following in his own history of the church, which later, of course, was crossed out: “God knowing all things prepared a man whom he visited by an angel of God and showed him where there were some ancient record hid . . . whose name is James J. Strang . . . and Strang Reigns in the place of Smith the author and proprietor of the Book of Mormon” (John Whitmer’s History, p.23).

Points to consider concerning of the so-called Three Witnesses

Most of the Three (including the eight) were blood related. In fact, all of the Eight were members of either the family of Joseph Smith Jr. or the family of David Whitmer’s father.

The Three Witnesses all of questionable character.

Commenting on the Three Witnesses, founder of the Mormon religion Joseph Smith said in 1838, “Such characters as McLellin, John Whitmer, David Whitmer, Oliver Cowdry, and Martin Harris are too mean to mention; and we had liked to have forgotten them” (History of the Church, vol. 3, p. 232).

Also, consider this: All three *witnesses* were eventually excommunicated from the Mormon church.

Martin Harris:

Even after his testimony regarding the Book of Mormon, he was known for wavering as to what church to join! Over his whole life he changed his affiliation over 13 times.

He stated: “Testimony of three witnesses: We Cheerfully certify . . . The Lord has made it known to me that David Witmer is the man. David was then called forward, and Joseph and his counselors laid hands upon him, and ordained him to his station, to succeed him . . . He will be prophet, seer, Revelator and Translator before God.” Signed Martin Harris, Leonard Rich, Calvin Beebe (emphasis added).

>This however, never happened, for Brigham young became Smith’s successor.

The Mormon Church saw him as “became partially deranged . . . flying from one thing to another” (Millennial Star, vol. 8, p.124).

The Mormon paper, Millennial Star, reported that the Mormons said of Martin Harris and a few other men “a lying deceptive spirit attend them . . . they are of their father, the devil. . . . The very countenance of Harris will show to every spiritual-minded person who sees him, that the wrath of God is upon him” (Millennial Star, vol. 8, pp. 124-28).

Commenting on Harris’s wavering character and unstableness, the Mormon church says of him:

One of the witnesses to the Book of Mormon, yielded to the spirit and temptation of the devil a number of years ago—turned against Joseph Smith and became his bitter enemy. He was filled with the rage and madness of a demon. One day he would be one thing, and another day another thing. He soon became partially deranged or shattered, as many believed, flying from one thing to another…. In one of his fits of monomania, he went and joined the “Shakers” or followers of Anna Lee. . . . but since Strang has made his entry … Martin leaves the “Shakers,” whom he knows to be right . . . and joins Strang. . . . We understand that he is appointed a mission to this country,… if the Saints wish to know what the Lord hath said to him they may turn to … the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, and the person there called a “wicked man” is no other than Martin Harris … Elder Wheelock will remember that evil men, like Harris, out of the evil treasure of their hearts bring forth evil things. . . .

Just as our paper was going to press, we learned that Martin Harris, about whom we have written in another article, had landed in Liverpool,… there was a strangeness about him, and about one or two who came with him … A lying deceptive spirit attends them, and has from the beginning…. they know that they are of their father, the devil, who was a liar from the beginning, and abode not in the truth (Latter-Day Saints’ Millennial Star, vol. 8, pp.124-28).

David Whitmer

Years after he alleged that he “witnessed as to the Book of Mormon plates, Whitmer said, 1887:

If you believe my testimony to the Book of Mormon; if you believe that God spake to us three witnesses by his own voice, then I tell you that in June, 1838, God spake to me again by his own voice from the heavens, and told me to ‘separate myself from among the Latter-day Saints. . . . ” (Address to All Believers in Christ, p. 27, 1887).

Of course, no matter how clear the evidence is, LDS apologists still have no problem denying this. For several views have been promulgated. Example, struggling to somehow defend Whitmer’s statement, one LDS writer said:

He only mentioned the undefined voice at Far West once, in this last writing to fellow believers– but he had repeatedly testified of an audible voice authenticating the Book of Mormon. Those with him in 1830 in the New York grove certified that they had also heard God’s voice then, but neither Oliver Cowdery nor John Whitmer, both of whom left Far West with David at this time, say anything about the heavenly command of 1838. Whatever came to David Whitmer, the later experience fails to contradict his earlier divine command to testify of the ancient record. David Whitmer could have received true spiritual comfort because of the unjust methods that his former associates were using against him; or he may have only felt that God spoke to him because of the powerful indignation that swelled up in his soul; or if he gave way to the spirit of anger and retaliation, he invited Satan to inspire him and deceive him. For instance, once in later life he was tempted to lead, thereby dictating several revelations that he later considered false. The Far West “voice” might fall into this category (Richard L. Anderson, Investigating the Book of Mormon Witnesses (SLC: Deseret Book Co., 1981, pp. 163-64).

Note the theories, (“Whitmer could have . . . or he may. . . . “). The historical fact is, Whitmer denied the Book of Mormon and was excommunicated by the Mormon Church–later claiming that he only saw the Book of Mormon plates wit the eye of

Further, Whitmer later started his own church.

Oliver Cowdery

SAME AS Whitmer: He was excommunicated from the Mormon Church and joined the Methodist church.

In 1841, the Mormons published a poem which said: “Or Book of Mormon not his word, because denied by Oliver” (Seasons and Times, 2:482)

The Mormon church accused Cowdery of “adultery” and claimed he had joined “a gang of counterfeiters, thieves, liars, and blacklegs”.However, Cowdery returned to the Mormon Church before his death, but note that David Whitmer claimed that Cowdery died believing that Joseph Smith was a fallen prophet and that his revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants must be rejected:

I did not say that Oliver Cowdery and John Whitmer had not endorsed the Doctrine and Covenants in 1836. They did endorse it in 1836; I stated that they “came out of their errors (discarded the Doctrine and Covenants), repented of them, and died believing as I do to-day,” and I have the proof to verify my statement. If any one chooses to doubt my word, let them come to my home in Richmond and be satisfied. In the winter of 1848, after Oliver Cowdery had been baptized at Council Bluffs, he came back to Richmond to live. . . . Now, in 1849 the Lord saw fit to manifest unto John Whitmer, Oliver Cowdery and myself nearly all the errors in doctrine into which we had been led by the heads of the old church. We were shown that the Book of Doctrine and Covenants contained many doctrines of error, and that it must be laid aside. . . . They were led out of their errors, and are upon record to this effect, rejecting the Book of Doctrine and Covenants (An Address to Believers in The Book of Mormon, 1887, pp.1-2).

As seem above, Joseph Smith listed Cowdery as among those, “too mean to mention” Further, Cowdery died claiming that the book of Doctrines & Covenants must be abandoned.

For the Mormons admitted in 1846:

One day he [Martin Harris] would be one thing, and another day another. He soon became deranged or shattered, as many believed, flying from one thing to another, as if reason and common sense were thrown off their balance. In one of his fits of monomania, he went and joined the ‘Shakers’ or followers of Anne Lee. He tarried with them a year or two, or perhaps longer… but since Strang has made his entry into the apostate ranks, and hoisted his standard for the rebellious to flock too, Martin leaves the ‘Shakers,’ whom he knows to be right, and has known it for many years, as he said, and joins Strang in gathering out the tares of the field. ( Millennial Star, vol. 8, November 15, 1846, p. 124.)

LDS Apostle George Q. Cannon, a member of the First Presidency had stated,

[Cowdery] transgressed the law of God; he committed adultery; the Spirit of God withdrew from him, and he, the second elder in the Church, was excommunicated from the Church. (Juvenile Instructor, 1885, p. 360)

Despite these facts, LDS Apostle John A. Widtsoe does not agrees with their founder. Despite clear instability on these witnesses and certainly fertile imaginations, Apostle John A. Widtsoe states The Book of Mormon plates were seen and handled, at different times, by eleven competent men, of independent minds and spotless reputations, who published a formal statement of their experience. (Joseph Smith, Seeker After Truth, 338).

A Holy, Sacred and Divine Roll and Book; From the Lord God of Heaven, to the Inhabitants of Earth

As Jerald and Sandra Tanner, in their book, The Changing World of Mormonism point out:

It would appear that same of the witnesses to the Book of Mormon would follow almost anyone who had a peep stone or claimed to have been visited by an angel. Take, for instance, their willingness to believe in the claims of the deceiver James J. Strang who claimed to translate ancient plates with the Urim and Thummim. The reader will remember that Martin Harris even served on a mission for the Strangites. This was not the only time that Harris endorsed a religion which claimed to have a sacred book given directly by the Lord.

As we have already shown, in the Millennial Star the Mormons admitted that Martin Harris joined the Shakers: “In one of his fits of monomania, he went and joined the ‘Shakers’ or followers of Anne Lee.” The Shakers felt that “Christ has made his second appearance on earth, in a chosen female known by the name of Ann Lee, and acknowledged by us as our Blessed Mother in the work of redemption” (Sacred Roll and Book, p.358). The Shakers, of course, did not believe the Book of Mormon, but they had a book entitled A Holy, Sacred and Divine Roll and Book; From the Lord God of Heaven, to the Inhabitants of Earth. More than sixty individuals gave testimony to the Sacred Roll and Book, which was published in 1843. Although not all of them mention angels appearing, some of them tell of many angels visiting them—one woman told of eight different visions.

On page 304 of this book, we find the testimony of eight witnesses:

We, the undersigned, hereby testify, that we saw the holy Angel standing upon the house-top, as mentioned in the foregoing declaration, holding the Roll and Book.

Betsey Boothe.
Louisa Chamberlain.
Caty De Witt.
Laura Ann Jacobs.

Sarah Maria Lewis.
Sarah Ann Spencer.
Lucinda McDoniels.
Maria Hedrick.

Joseph Smith only had three witnesses who claimed to see an angel. The Shakers, however, had a large number of witnesses who claimed they saw angels and the Roll and Book. There are over a hundred pages of testimony from “Living Witnesses.” The evidence seems to show that Martin Harris accepted the Sacred Roll and Book as a divine revelation. Clark Braden stated: “Harris declared repeatedly that he had as much evidence for a Shaker book he had as for the Book of Mormon” (The Braden and Kelly Debate, p.173).

There is a Mormon source which indicates that Martin Harris claimed to have a greater testimony to the Shakers than to the Book of Mormon. In a thesis written at Brigham Young University, Wayne Cutler Gunnell stated that on December 31, 1844, “Phineas H. Young [Brigham Young’s brother] and other leaders of the Kirtland organization” wrote a letter to Brigham Young in which they stated: “There are in this place all kinds of teaching; Martin Harris is a firm believer in Shakerism, says his testimony is greater than it was of the Book of Mormon” (“Martin Harris—Witness and Benefactor to the Book of Mormon,” 1955, p.52) (Jerald and Sandra Tanner, The Changing World of Mormonism, chap. 5, pp. 106-07).

There is much more that can be said about the unreliability of the Three (and the Eight) Witnesses to the Book of Mormon plates. However, even if all eleven Witnesses affirmed that they really saw and even handled the Book of Mormon plates it does biblically validate the Mormon faith: The Mormon faith rejects Jesus Christ.

As seen, the LDS faith affirms

1. the existence of many Gods (polytheism).

2. God was a mere man on another planet before becoming God.

3. that God had to become God at a point in time (thus denying that God always existed as God).

4. that God the Father and Mary had *sexual intercourse* to procreate the physical body of Jesus Christ.

5. that God was married to His own spirit daughter, Mary.

6. that Jesus Christ is not the eternal God (i.e., denying that He always existed as God).

7. that eternal life (true salvation) is acquired by meritorious works.

8. that *black skin* (Indians, Africans, etc.) is a mark from God indicating that they are or were (depending on what LDS Prophet you read) cursed by God for their evil acts in their first estate in heaven (as *spirit children* before coming to earth).

Thus, it is not the major discrepancies and inconstancies that plague the history and origin of the Book of Mormon, nor is it the insurmountable problems with the Book of Mormon (internally and externally), but it is the God that the Mormons embrace that condemns them:

But the LORD is the true God;
He is the living God and the everlasting King
At His wrath the earth quakes,
And the nations cannot endure His indignation.

Thus you shall say to them, “The gods that did not make the heavens and the earth will perish from the earth and from under the heavens” (Jer. 10:10-11)

When one examines the Book of Mormon and its teachings, what is interesting is that the Book of Mormon does not contain distinct LDS doctrine. The doctrinal essentials, according to Mormonism, which lead to salvation, are not the same essentials as taught in 1830. Why? Because Joseph Smith changed his teachings, with no explanation to the Mormon people.

The Book of Mormon for example, does not teach: God is an exalted man with a body of flesh and bones; the plurality of Gods; a Mother God in Heaven; Celestial, Terrestrial and Telestial heavens; Baptism for the Dead; Celestial marriage; the Law of Eternal Progression; Exaltation (i.e., man becoming a God); the Aaronic Priesthood, the Melchizedek Priesthood and the doctrine of Pre-existence.

These are distinctive LDS teachings that Mormons pride themselves on, but why then, do we not find these teachings before 1832? If Joseph Smith was speaking as God’s “prophet,” then what he taught in 1830 should be consistent with was is taught today by the Mormon Church. Truth does not change.

Early Teachings of Joseph Smith vs. Latter Teachings
One God or Many Gods?

“Testimony of the Three Witnesses”:

And honor be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, which is one God (Book of Mormon, Introduction).

Book of Mormon (1830):

And now, behold this is the doctrine of Christ, and the only and true doctrine of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, which is one God, without end. Amen” (2 Nephi 31:21; emphasis added).

And Zeezrom said unto him: Thou sayest there is a true and living God? And Amulek said; Yea, there is a true and living God. And Zeezrom said: Is there more than one God? And he answered, No. Now Zeezrom said unto him again: How knowest thou these things? And he said: An angel hath made them known unto me (Alma 11:26-31; emphasis added).

Doctrine and Covenants:

In the early sections of the LDS scripture, Doctrine and Covenants, are clear teachings that there is only one eternal God:

By these things we know that there is a God in heaven, who is infinite and eternal, from everlasting to everlasting the same unchangeable God, the framer of heaven and earth, and all things which are in them. . . . Which Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are one God, infinite and eternal, without end (20:17; 1830; emphasis added).1

Smith wrote the Book of Mormon by 1830 and these early sections of Doctrine and Covenants were written in the same year. However, when we read the later sections we find that Smith’s teaching of one God radically changed:

Then shall they be gods, because they have no end; therefore they shall be from everlasting to everlasting, because the continue; then they shall be above all, because all things are subject unto them. Then shall they be gods, because they have all power, and the angels are subject to them (132:20; 1843; emphasis added).

Pearl of Great Price:

We also find this doctrinal switching in the LDS scripture Pearl of Great Price. In the first book of the Pearl of Great Price is the book of Moses. The book of Moses text is an excerpt from Smith’s own translation of the Bible called the Inspired Version,2 which is from 1830.

And I, God said: Let there be light . . . And I, God saw the light . . . And I, God called the light Day; and the darkness, I called Night. . . . (Moses, 2:3-5; emphasis added)

And I, God made two great lights . . . And I, God set them in the firmament of the heaven . . . And I, God, said; Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life. . . . (ibid., 16-17, 20; emphasis added).

However, when you turn to the next book (Abraham) in the Pearl of Great Price, you find something very interesting. When we compare the same verses in Abraham (ch. 4 was penned in 1842) with the book of Moses (penned in 1830) we find Smith’s doctrinal switching most obvious:

And they (the Gods) said: Let there be light . . . And they (the Gods) comprehended the light. . . . And the Gods called the light Day, and the darkness they called Night. . . . (Abraham, 4:3-5; emphasis added).

And the Gods organized the two great lights . . . And the Gods set them in the expanse of the heavens… And the Gods said: Let us prepare the waters to bring forth abundantly the moving creatures that have life. . . . (ibid., 16-17, 20; emphasis added)

These are only a few examples of the verse-to-verse comparisons of the book of Moses (ch. 2) and Abraham (ch. 4).

The point is: the word “God” is singular throughout Moses chapter 2 and in the book of Abraham, which is, almost verbatim, the same account as in Moses, the word “God” is changed to “Gods” (“Gods” 47 times in ch. 4). Keep in mind that Smith penned this section of the book of Abraham in 1842 and Moses is from 1830.

Joseph Smith started out, in 1830, teaching that there is only one God but by 1844, Smith is declaring full-blown polytheism (i.e., many Gods):

I will preach on the plurality of Gods… I have always and in all congregations when I have preached on the subject of Deity, it has been the plurality of Gods. . . . Jesus Christ a separate and distinct personage from God the Father, and that the Holy Ghost was a distinct personage and a Spirit: and these three constitute three distinct personages and three Gods (Joseph Fielding Smith, ed. Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 370; given August 15, 1844; emphasis added).

Here then, is eternal life–to know the only wise and true God; and you have got to learn how to be Gods yourselves, and to be kings and priest to God, the same as all Gods have done before you, namely by going from one small degree to another, and from a small capacity to a great one. . . . (ibid., 346; emphasis added).

God is Spirit

Along with Monotheism, that is, the belief in one God, Joseph Smith also started out teaching that God is spirit. And, just as he changed his doctrine of one God to many Gods, Smith, changed his teaching that God is spirit to the Father has a body of flesh and bones (cf. D&C, 130:22). But, to be sure, Smith did teach, early on, that God is spirit.

Book of Mormon:

And Aaron said unto him: Yea, he is that Great Spirit, and he created all things both in heaven and in earth. Believeth thou this? (Alma 22:10)

Holy, holy God; we believe that thou art God, and we believe that thou are holy, and that thou wast spirit, and that thou art a spirit, and that thou wilt be a spirit forever (Alma 31:15; emphasis added)

Doctrine and Covenants:

The original 1835 edition of Doctrine and Covenants contained a section called: Lectures on Faith. This section had about 68 pages and more than 20, 000 words. However, this section is now missing from the current edition of Doctrines and Covenants. The entire Lectures on Faith have subsequently been removed from both the RLDS and LDS Doctrine and Covenants. The reason why it was removed is evident:

There are two personages who constitute the great, matchless, governing and supreme power over all things. . . . They are the Father and the Son: The Father being a personage of spirit, glory and power: possessing all perfection and fullness: The Son, who was in the bosom of the Father, a personage of tabernacle, made or fashioned like unto man, or being in the form and likeness of man (Lecture 5, 52-53; emphasis added)

“The Father being a personage of spirit,” is not what modern LDS teaches. Compare this to what the later sections of the current Doctrine of Covenants teach:

The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as mans; the Son also; but the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of Spirit (130:22; given April 1843; emphasis added)

Modalism

Joseph Smith did not understand the difference between the doctrine of the Trinity and the teachings of Modalism. Modalism or Oneness Pentecostalism 3 was the second century heresy that made the assertion that God exist as one person that reveals himself in different modes, manifestations or dimensions, but God is not three distinct Persons.

In other words, in Oneness thinking, since God is one, but in the Bible the Father is called God, Jesus is called God, and the Holy Spirit is called God, therefore Jesus is the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. The one person (Jesus) has two natures, divine being the Father and human being the Son. Thus, in this doctrine, Jesus acts sometimes as the Son (human) and sometimes as the Father (God) and yet other times the Holy Spirit.

So, what does Modalism have to do with Joseph Smith? Answer: the Book of Mormon teaches both Trinitarian and Modalism. However, I find that the Book of Mormon is more modalistic than Trinitarian, though. First, observe these decidedly modalistic passages in the Book of Mormon. The introduction of Mosiah chapter 15 reads:

How Christ is both the Father and the Son–He shall make intercession and bear the transgression of his people. . . . (emphasis added).

Then, starting at verse 1:

And now Abinadi said unto them: I would that ye should understand that God himself [the Father] shall come down among the children of men, and shall redeem his people. And because he dwelleth in flesh he shall be called the Son of God, and having subjected the flesh to the will of the Father, being the Father and the Son. The Father because he was conceived by the power of God; and the Son, because of the flesh; thus becoming the Father and Son. And they are one God, yea, the very Eternal Father of heaven and earth. And thus the flesh becoming subject to the Spirit, or the Son to the Father, being one God. . . . (Mosiah 15:1-5; emphasis added)

That Jesus is the Father, is a teaching that is clearly taught in Smith’s, Book of Mormon:

Behold, I am the he who was prepared from the foundation of the world to redeem my people. Behold, I am the Father and the Son. . . . (Ether 3:14; emphasis added)

Now Zeezrom saith again unto him: Is the Son of God the very Eternal Father? And Amulek said unto him: Yea, he is the very Eternal Father of heaven and of earth, and all things which in them are; he is the beginning and the end, the first and the last (Alma 11:38-39; emphasis added).

Amazingly, a mere five verses later the Book of Mormon seems to be teaching to what resembles the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity:

but every thing shall be restored to its perfect frame, as it is now, or in the body, and shall be brought and be arraigned before the bar of Christ the Son, and God the Father, and the Holy Spirit , which is one Eternal God. . . . (ibid., 11:44; emphasis added).

And now, behold, this is the doctrine of Christ, and the only and true doctrine of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, which is one God, without end. Amen” (2 Nephi 31:21; emphasis added).

And as previously quoted, the “Testimony of the three Witnesses” do not agree with the present-day LDS teaching (three separate Gods). Rather, the converse is stated:

And honor be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, which is one God (Book of Mormon, Introduction).

The nature of God is not the only doctrine that Joseph Smith changed in his lifetime. However, it is the doctrine of God that would determine one’s salvation. Only the true God is able to save- the God of biblical revelation, a false god does not exist. Jesus was very concerned as to the different beliefs of Him, which would deceive mankind. Jesus taught that having accurate knowledge of Him was a prerequisite to salvation:

I SAID THEREFORE TO YOU THAT YOU WILL DIE IN THE SINS OF YOU; FOR IF YOU BELIEVE NOT THAT I AM. . . . (John 8:24; lit. Gk.; emphasis added; also cf. Ex. 3:14; Is. 43:10).

In the end, plainly, early LDS doctrine is fundamentally different then present-day LDS doctrine. Smith started out teaching that God was spirit and there is only one eternal God. Then, Smith did a doctrinal U-turn, teaching heresies that deny who God is, and all the while, claming it was God that was giving him these revelations.

Hence, if the Joseph Smith really had restored the “plain and precious truths” that were allegedly lost and if Smith restored the so-called lost church, then, God’s truth in the nineteenth century should be consistent with God’s truth today. But the fact is: Joseph Smith believed in revolving gods that change who they are and altered their doctrines. Unlike the God of Scripture Who said:

“I the LORD do not change. . . . ” (Mal. 3:6; NIV)

Notes

1, These passages in the LDS scripture Doctrine and Covenants directly renounce the LDS doctrine of Eternal Progression which states that God the Father was once a man that had to become a God. Plainly taught by Joseph Smith:

it is necessary we should understand the character and being of God and how he came to be so; for I am going to tell you how God came to be God. We have imagined and suppose that God was God from all eternity. I will refute that idea, and take away the veil, so that you may see. and that 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… Here then, is eternal life–to know the only wise and true God; and you have got to learn how to be Gods yourselves, and to be kings and priest to God, the same as all Gods have done before you, namely by going from one small degree to another, and from a small capacity to a great one. . . . (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 345-47; emphasis added).

Hence, in LDS theology God has not eternally existed as God. Joseph Smith gave this address in 1844, whereas Doctrine and Covenants, sec. 20 was given in 1830. Thus, the evolution of Smith’s teaching is obvious.

2, The interested reader should note, that with no formal education in the field of biblical language the unlearned Joseph Smith made his own version of the Bible. It was called The Inspired Version of the Bible. The Inspired Version contains numerous alterations to what the text (cf. Gk. and Heb., as well as recognized translations of the Bibles) actually says in order to support his preconceived teachings. Example: John 1:19 of Joseph Smith’s translation states, “No man hath seen God at any time, except he hath borne record of the son; For except it is through him no man can be saved” (emphasis added). Compare this with John 1:18, “No man hath seen God at any time: the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.” There is not one Greek manuscript in existence that would support Joseph Smith’s alterations of the Bible. The common response by most Mormon missionaries, is that Joseph Smith had never finished his translation, however, July 2, 1833 at Kirtland, Ohio, Smith stated: “this day finished the translating of the Scriptures. . . . ” (History of the Church, 1:368).

3, Known also as the “Jesus only” churches, the United Pentecostal International Church being the largest. See my article on Oneness Pentecostalism.

copyright

As with virtually all non-Christian sects salvation is by meritorious works of the individual. Mormons are no different. Mormons convolute the biblical doctrine of salvation-, which is by grace alone, through faith alone, whereby reducing it to a crass works/salvation system.

LDS theology has two types of salvation; unconditional (general) and conditional (individual).

Unconditional or general is a salvation is for everyone regardless of their spiritual standing with God. This type of salvation is granted to everyone because of the Atonement. Mormons believe that Jesus’ Atonement at the cross only provided a “resurrection” to immortality for all men, where they will, depending how well they performed, end up in one of the three heavens. Even the worst of sinners will eventually end up in the lowest heaven (telestial kingdom), where they will live in glory.

This is what Mormons call “saved by grace” meaning everyone will be saved (i.e., resurrected, immortal) but not everyone will receive “eternal life.” In Mormonism the term “eternal life” is synonymous with exaltation (i.e., becoming a God). So, when Mormon missionaries say “eternal life” they mean, becoming a God.

Conditional salvation is eternal life or true salvation, (Godhood). This is what Mormons call “exaltation”. Mormons call it conditional because they have to prove themselves worthy by works and try to live a perfect life, obeying all the laws of the LDS Church and the Mormon gospel. In the LDS doctrine, this kind of salvation is: salvation in its truest sense, the kind of salvation followers of Jesus longed for.

In Mormon terminology then, salvation, true salvation, means eternal life = exaltation = Godhood (all synonymous terms). This, undeniably, is another gospel (cf. Gal. 1:6-9). Near 12 million members are taught: the way to true salvation is by works. On the subject of unconditional or general salvation, Mormon favorite Bruce R. McConkie informs readers:

Unconditional or general salvation, that which comes by grace alone without obedience to the gospel law, consists in the mere fact of being resurrected. This kind of salvation eventually will come to all mankind, excepting only the sons of perdition. . . . Those who gain only this general or unconditional salvation will still be judged according to their works and receive their places in a terrestrial or a telestial kingdom. They will, therefore, be damned; their eternal progression [i.e., progression to become a God in the celestial kingdom] will be cut short; they will not fill the full measure of their creation, but in eternity will be ministering servants [i.e., angels] to more worthy persons (Mormon Doctrine, 669; emphasis theirs).

Fundamentally then, the LDS system of true salvation is by works, as Bruce R. McConkie goes on to say:

Eternal life, the kind of life enjoyed by eternal beings in the celestial kingdom, comes by grace plus obedience (ibid., 671; emphasis added).

In the Mormon Scripture, Pearl of Great Price, in the third Article of Faith, we read:

We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by the obedience of the laws and ordinances of the Gospel (emphasis added).

Even more, the Book of Mormon reinforces this false notion:

Be reconciled to God: for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do (2 Nephi 25:23; emphasis added).

Brigham Young goes so far as to teach the Mormon people that salvation (i.e., true salvation, Godhood) only comes through Joseph Smith:

No man or woman in this dispensation will ever enter into the celestial kingdom of God without the consent of Joseph Smith. From the day that the Priesthood was taken from the earth to the winding up scene of all things, every man and woman must have the certificate of Joseph Smith, junior, as a passport to their entrance into the mansion where God and Christ are (Journal of Discourses, 7:289).

Constantly let us be mindful of Mormon vocabulary. The term “salvation” in Mormon thinking, in one sense means: unconditionally (general salvation) all men will be resurrected and become immortal. He or she will afterwards, live in one of the levels of Heaven regardless of what standing with God that they had.

The highest level of Heaven is the celestial kingdom. This level is reserved only for faithful Mormons who are worthy wherein they can become Gods, presiding over their own planet and endlessly procreating spirit babies to fill their planet, as does the God for this earth (individual salvation). For the Mormon, progressing to this level (Godhood) is not an easy journey. The Mormon must strive for perfection. Mormons indefatigably, must struggle to follow all of their church’s mandates and gospel laws. Also, the Mormon to achieve true salvation must be WATER BAPTIZED INTO THE MORMON CHURCH (see: Water Baptism a Deed/Work of Righteousness).

Temple Rituals

Additionally, Temple rituals are an integral part of Mormon salvation. Mormons who are trying to attain Godhood perform these highly secret ceremonies in the LDS Temple. However the first LDS Temple sprang up around 1836 in Kirkland Ohio. But in this first Temple, they did not implement the Temple rituals and endowments. It was not until 1842 right after Joseph Smith became Master Mason1 that they started this. Hence, the LDS ceremonies are almost identical to the ceremonies that are practiced by the Masons.

The foremost ritual is the “Endowment.” The Endowment ceremony includes washing and anointing the body (in intimate places), receiving the holy underwear (for protection), and receiving a new name. Also, Mormon couples look forward to being married in the Temple where they can be “sealed” (i.e., the marriage ceremony where the Mormons are sealed “for time and all eternity”). In other words, they can be the Father and Mother God of their own planet. For the Mormon woman, her hope is eternal pregnancy, giving birth to thousands of spirit children ad infinitum to populate their world. An eternity of childbearing, which doesn’t sound to wonderful for the Mormon woman?

Temple entrance is closed to non-Mormons. Without exception, only “worthy” Mormons that have their “Temple recommend” can participate.2 To be saved in the truest sense (i.e., eternal life, exaltation to Godhood) Mormons say they must have been married in the Temple, where they were sealed and received their endowments.3 Additionally, the Mormon male must be ordained to the “Melchizedek”4 Priesthood for him to progress to Godhood.

Moreover, sealing, endowments, and baptism can be done in proxy (i.e., substitution for the dead). This work is practiced consistently by faithful Mormons to ensure that people, who died that did not receive the Mormon gospel in their life, will get a second chance, an opportunity to progress to a higher level of heaven, even Godhood.

Mormons are taught that after death people immediately go to “spirit prison.” Mormons say that they are Mormon missionaries in spirit prison, that witness to the men and women who never had the opportunity to become became Mormons in their life. And if the person in spirit prison accepts the Mormon gospel, and if someone preformed proxy rituals (i.e., endowments, baptism, and sealing if marriage is involved) they may become a Mormon and leave spirit prison to progress into a higher kingdom.

If the person rejects the Mormon gospel then they will eventually reside in the lowest or middle the three levels of heaven depending how good (or how evil) they were in their life on earth. However, if a Mormon dies, then the Mormon will immediately go to “paradise” and after the resurrection they proceed to one of the three levels or kingdoms of heaven. Consequently, the Mormon Church spends countless hours on genealogies. The quest of the LDS is to proselytize every person who ever died starting with their relatives and then all others that are in “spirit prison.”

And this, in Mormon certainty, is the way to eternal life or true salvation. It is, without a doubt, a total works/salvation construct. In the end, their works, obedience, and dedication to the LDS Church will determine their salvation and to which level of the three heavens they will dwell in.

Biblical Teaching

Scripture does not, in any way, shape or form, make a distinction between general and individual salvation. Jesus gives one kind of life: Life Eternal. As seen, Mormons reject the idea that true salvation, is by grace alone through faith alone. To the Mormons, this teaching is patently false. Mormon Apostle, Bruce R. McConkie tells us:

one of the untrue doctrines found in modern Christendom is the concept that man can gain salvation (meaning in the kingdom of God) by grace alone without obedience (Mormon Doctrine, 671).

John 5:24

However, contrary to LDS doctrine, Scripture speaks unambiguously on the subject of salvation. The centrality of Scripture can be summed up in this question: “How is a man justified?” Is not that the question of the ages, from the first man to the present? How can man be reconciled to God? How can man be declared not guilty in the sight of a perfect God? More so, how can man be saved? I think we would do well to allow Jesus Christ, the authority on the matter, to answer clearly:

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, HAS [echei] eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life” (John 5:24; emphasis added).

The LDS would be wise to breathe in the grammatical significance of the words of Christ.

The grammar of the text (5:24) speaks the opposite. Starting with the first clause: “He who hears [akouōn] My word, and believes [pisteuōn] Him who sent Me” (emphasis added). The Greek verb akouōn (lit. “hearing”) is a singular present active participle. The verb pisteuōn (lit. “believing”) is also a singular present active participle. Note that both verbs are in the present tense, literally: “the one hearing and the one believing.”

Then the phrase: “has [echei] eternal life.” The verb echei (“has”) is the singular present active indicative of echō. The indicative mood of the verb indicates the absolute certainty of the event (i.e., “eternal life”). That echei is in the present tense shows that the one believing possesses de facto eternal life presently and continuously. For this reason, the one believing will never come into God’s wrath and judgment (cf. John 10:28).

We now come to the last clause of the passage: “but has passed out of death into life” (emphasis added). The verb metabebēken (“has passed”) is the perfect active indicative of metabainō. The perfect tense indicates a completed action that normally occurred in the past, which has continuous results into the present.

Hence, the reason as to why the one believing (apart from works) “does not come into judgment” is that he “has passed out of,” completely and indicatively (an assured certainty), spiritual death. I submit, therefore, the full force of what Jesus was literally saying:

He who presently and continuously hears My word and believes Me (who I really am), I promise that he will presently and continuously possess, without end, eternal life, that is, salvation. And he will NEVER come into condemnation. He has, in times past, been called to be declared righteous (justified) and then glorified, whereby passing out of death into life with Me forever.

See also John 6:47 and 1 John 5:12 [as discussed below] where the present indicative echei is utilized to indicate the certainty of eternal life for the one believing. In point of fact, never is creaturely works (e.g., water baptism, obedience, etc.) grammatically or contextually connected to salvation in John’s gospel. God justifies His people freely apart from their meritorious performance. What is more, Paul anathematizes those who would assert that creaturely works are a necessity or requirement for justification (Gal. 1:6-9).

Hence, verses like 5:24 specify that justification is the sole work of the Triune God. They grammatically and contextually support that regeneration precedes faith.

The main theme of John’s letter was (a) the full deity of Jesus Christ (e.g., 1:1; 18, 8:24, 58; 20:28; etc.) and (b) eternal life/salvation (e.g., 1:12; 3:16; 6:37-40, 47; 10:27-29; etc.). That all those salvation passages in the Gospel of John never once connect water baptism with salvation is something that should be seriously pondered by the ICC. Salvation is exclusively by faith/belief ALONE. If works like water baptism were, in fact, an indispensable means of salvation as the LDS teaches, you would think that John or Jesus would teach it—at least once. Justification by faith alone is uniquely Christian as clearly taught in the pages of the Holy Writ. God justifies His people freely. That water baptism, circumcision, ordinances, rituals, ceremonial or ethical old covenant laws, or any works to add to one’s justification, places one firmly under the anathema of the Judaizers: cursed by God.

In the end, looking at all the non-Christian cults and world religions we do find doctrinal harmony on at least two points. The first, of course, is that they all reject Jesus Christ as eternal God, that is, they impugn the Tri-Unity of God in some way or other, and second, they attack and deny the doctrine of JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH ALONE. They all add some kind of creaturely work to their system of salvation. Yes, indeed, it is difficult for mere man to comprehend that through faith alone God freely justifies the sinner. However we cannot rely on our faulty emotions to test truth. For notwithstanding our limited finite conventional wisdom and understanding, the Apostle Paul who wrote as the Holy Spirit enabled him declares:

Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due. But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness, just as David also speaks of the blessing on the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works. . . . (Rom. 4:4-6; emphasis added; cf. John 6:47; 10:28-29; Rom. 5:1; 8:1; Eph. 2:8).

The Apostle Paul speaks on Justification by Grace Alone Through FAITH ALONE

Contrary to the LDS Church

Inquiring of salvation the jailer had asked the Apostle Paul (an authority on the subject):

Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved. . . (Acts 16:30, 31).

Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law” (Rom. 3:28).

The Apostle Paul’s epistle to the church at Galatia was specifically an anti-Judaizer polemic. Paul was very concerned as to the pervading heresy of the Judaizers. The Judaizers taught that “faith in Christ” was not enough. Hence, one had to add the Old Testament ordinances especially circumcision and the keeping of the ethical and ceremonial laws, to the finished work of Christ:

Some men came from Judea and began teaching the brethren, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom [Law] of Moses, you cannot be saved” (Acts 15:1; cf. Gal. 2:1ff).

This kind of teaching, in the apostles’ mind, was not a doctrinal “on the rim” issue. By teaching that man must co-operate with God’s grace by adding works (any works) to his faith, the Judaizers stripped Jesus’ atonement of its efficacy. So toxic was the works/salvation doctrine of the Judaizers that the apostle wasted no time (from his the opening statement) in sharply anathematizing (i.e., pronouncing a divine curse) men and even angels from heaven who promulgate it:

I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed [anathema]! As we have said, before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed! (Gal. 1:6-9; emphasis added).

Paul never gets tired impressing to the Galatians: justification is through faith ALONE; i.e., faith apart from, without, modifications or additions of works:

knowing the a man is not justified [ou dikaioutai] by the works [ex ergōn; “from works”] of the Law but through faith [dia pisteos] in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that [hina, purpose clause] we may be justified by faith [dikaiōthōmen ek pisteōs] in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified (Gal. 2:16; emphasis added).

You foolish Galatians, who as bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? This is the only thing I want to find out from you; did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? Even Abraham BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS RECKONED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS (Gal. 3:1-3, 6; emphasis added).

Paul further declares that it is through faith (dia tes pisteōs) alone that enables one to be adopted as sons of God.

For you are all sons of God through faith [dia tēs pisteōs] in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized [i.e., unified, see above] into [en] Christ have clothed yourself with [eis] Christ (Gal. 3:26-27; emphasis added).

Justification by Faith Alone

Romans 4:4-8

In fact, in the entire Pauline corpus, salvation by grace alone through faith alone is clearly the theological starting point for the apostle. There are scores of verses that teach clearly: the righteousness of Christ is the sole ground of justification (man excluded) and the sole means is faith alone apart from works. However, space precludes us from citing all. In Romans though (and esp. Gal.) Paul presents solid grammatical arguments for justification by faith alone. Let us examine 4:4-8:

[4] Now to the one who works, his wages are not credited as a favor, but as what is due.

[5] But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness,

[6] just as David also speaks of the blessings on the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:

[7] “BLESSED ARE THOSE WHOSE LAWLESS DEEDS HAVE BEEN FORGIVEN,

AND WHOSE SINS HAVE BEEN COVERED.

[8] “BLESSED IS THE MAN WHOSE SIN THE LORD WILL NOT TAKE INTO ACCOUNT” (NASB).

Consider the following:

1. In verse 4, Paul explains that wages from work are not credited as “a gift” or a favor, but “what is due.” The literal rendering is even clearer: “Now to the working one, the reward is not reckoned [or “imputed,” logizetai] according to grace [charin; Paul’s normal word for “grace”], but according to debt [misthos].” In other words, if an employer, after giving a paycheck to the employee, says, “Thanks a lot, here is your gift,” the employee would object stating that he or she earned that or worked for it! Hence, it was not a gift. Exactly the argument Paul makes here: wages are the result or reward from works (viz. “what is due”). In verse 5 he then contrasts “wages” that one earns by works with being “credited” or imputed as righteousness by faith (or “belief,” pistis) ALONE—apart from additions or modifications. This contrast cannot be missed: works vs. faith.

2. Paul presents two kinds of people here: the one working and the one not working: “But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him . . . his faith is credited as righteousness.” Note that the same participle (ergazomenō, “working”) is used for both verses 4 and 5. However, Paul inserts a negation in verse 5:

4: tō de ergazomenō, lit. “but the one working.”

5: tō de mē ergazomenō, lit. “but the not working one.”

It is God, Paul declares, “who justifies the ungodly.” The righteousness of Christ is imputed to the sinner’s account when they are justified and the sinner’s sins are imputed to Christ (cf. 2 Cor. 5:21).

3. In verse 6, Paul now shows that David understood that “God credits righteousness apart from works [chōris ergōn; emphasis added].” The verse literally reads: “Blessed is the man to whom God imputes or credits righteousness WITHOUT works [theos logizetai dikaiosunen choris ergōn].” Again, Paul does not here limit works only to “works of the Law” (a Catholic assertion). Please note once again, Paul does not (in this context) use the phrase ho nomos, “the Law,” but ergōn, “works”—any works.

To avoid the plain and straightforwardness of Romans 4:4-8, some would appeal to Ephesians 2:10 (“created . . . for good works”). However, in this passage, Paul is simply teaching that salvation is chariti, “by grace,” and dia pisteōs, “through faith,” and ouk ex ergōn, lit. “not of works” (2:9). Hence, works are the result (not the cause) of genuine faith (as pointed out above). The Apostle James draws the same point: genuine faith does not result in a deedless life.

4. Then in verses 7 and 8, Paul quotes David (Psalm 32:1-2):

“Blessed are those whose lawless deeds have been forgiven, and whose sins have been covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will not take into account” (emphasis added).

When the sinner is justified (through faith), he is legally declared: NOT GUILTY!

Justification is a one-time declarative act in which God pronounces the sinner just or righteous. Hence, God does not count their trespasses against them (cf. 2 Cor. 5:19). Note the strong and specific language that Paul uses in verse 8: “Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will not take into account” (emphasis added).

Many times the full import of particular passages is lost in translations, which is the case here. As in John 6:37 (and 10:28 as noted above), Paul employs a double negative (ou mē) followed by the aorist subjective (logisētai). In first century Greek, there were several ways to negate (i.e., to say “No”) something. Each way had its own, to some extent, nuance. The strongest possible way, however, to deny or negate a future possibility was to use the double negative (ou mē) followed by a subjunctive verb (i.e., generally, the verb of possibility, e.g., “I might go to the store,” hence, “might” being in the subj. mood). This construction was only used about 85 times in the New Testament.

In verse 8 Paul uses this construction, which was more emphatic than simply saying ou, “no”: “Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord ou mē, “will not” [“never, never”] take into account.” The NIV reads, “whose sin the Lord will never count against him.” Paul is denying that there is even a possibility (due to the subj. verb logisētai, “take into account” or “count”) that the Lord will count sins against the one justified. Jesus used the same construction (i.e., double neg. + the subj.) in John 10:27-28:

My sheep hear My voice, and I know them and they follow me and I give eternal life to them, and they will never [ou mē] perish; and no one can snatch them out of my hand (emphasis added).

Therefore, there is not, Jesus says emphatically, even a possibility, of His sheep perishing. Jesus uses the double negative to emphasize that the eternal life that He gives is not dependent on man’s self-determination, for man can fail. But rather eternal life is the promise to those who He has justified, to those whose sins will never be counted against them, to those who He imputed His own righteousness to their account; they are declared righteous and they, by no means, will ever perish—not even a possibility! To be sure, the Apostle Paul saw justification as an essential and fundamental teaching. To deny justification through faith ALONE, meaning: without additions or modifications, was the same as denying the deity of Christ! This is clearly seen in Paul’s letter to the Galatians. The main purpose of Paul’s letter was to pointedly refute the heresy of the Judaizers (cf. Acts 15:1ff; Gal. 1:6ff.).

What was the grand heresy that caused Paul, directed by the Holy Spirit, to pronounce divine condemnation (anathema; 1:8, 9) on those who were pervading it? It was the heresy of the Judaizers who taught that faith ALONE was not enough for God to justify a sinner. They loaded men down with a crass faith + works = salvation doctrine. In which Paul sharply proved false. Justification is the sole work of God (cf. Rom. 8:33). To add to God’s work—is to add to Scripture. “Who,” Paul rhetorically asks, “will bring a charge against God’s elect? . . . who is the one who condemns? . .” (Rom. 8:33-34). Hence, how can anyone undo the work of God? In justification, it can only be God alone who declares the sinner eternally righteous.

Aside from Romans 4:4-8 and many other verses that plainly and exegetically teach justification is through faith alone, Romans 5:1 especially reveals the consciousness of Paul on this central doctrine: “Therefore, having been justified [dikaiōthentes; the aorist passive participle of dikaioō (justified/ made righteous). Note, the mood of the verb is passive, hence it is not the sinner who justifies him or herself, but God alone], by faith, [ek pisteōs; lit. “from faith”] WE HAVE [echomen; present indicative] PEACE WITH GOD through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:1)– Sola Fide.

I

Romans 5:1

Therefore having been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (emphasis added).

Paul constantly taught that justification comes not by works, formulas, or laws but rather: a man is declared rightness before God through faith alone:

Paul was theologically precise as to how the sinner is justified before the presence of God. Notice first that the sinner having been justified has peace with God. The verb dikaiōthentes, translated “having been justified,” is the aorist passive participle of dikaioō. Grammatically, the aorist here tells us that the action of the verb dikaiōthentes, “having been justified,” was a past action (as rendered in most translations). Furthermore, the verb dikaiothentes is in the passive voice. This indicates that the action of being justified was not of the sinner in any way (lest the verb be in the active voice), but rather the justification was done to the sinner, in the past, which was solely a divine act of God (cf. Rom. 8:33). Thus, the ones having been justified now “have” [echomen, the present active indicative plural of echo] peace pros ton theon, “with the God.”

It is not the action or work of the sinner which then results in justification, rather Paul simply says “through faith” (ek pisteōs; “from faith”) “having been justified.” This is important to realize that if Paul thought that “baptism” or “works” were an aspect or a requirement of justification, he could have easily modified the clause to say, “Therefore since we have been justified by faith, baptism, and works, then, let us has peace with God” (as in LDS soteriology) But, Paul was clear and consistent in all of his letters: justification is through faith alone, with no additions or modifications. This is wonderful news, the unregenerate sinner who was called has been legally declared righteous (regenerated) in the sight of God, whereby has present active and continuous peace, that is, final reconciliation and fellowship with God. In his definitive exegesis of Romans Wuest can say of this beautiful passage:

Therefore having been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 5:1).

Paul was theologically precise as to how the sinner is justified before the presence of God. Notice first that the sinner having been justified has peace with God. The verb dikaiothentes, translated “having been justified,” is the aorist passive participle of dikaioō. Grammatically, the aorist here tells us that the action of the verb dikaiōthentes, “having been justified,” is a past action (as rendered in most translations). Furthermore, the verb dikaiōthentes is in the passive voice. This indicates that the action of being justified was not of the sinner in any way (lest the verb be in the active voice), but rather the justification was done to the sinner, in the past, which was solely a divine act of God (cf. Rom. 8:33). Thus, the ones having been justified now “have” [echomen; present active indicative] peace pros ton theon, “with the God.”

It is not the action or work of the sinner which then results in justification, rather Paul simply says, “through faith” (ek pisteōs; lit. “from faith”) “having been justified.” This is important to realize that if Paul thought that “baptism” or “works” were an aspect or a requirement of justification, he could of easily modified the clause to say, “Therefore since we have been justified by faith, baptism, and works, then, let us have peace with God.” But, Paul was clear and consistent in all of his letters: justification is through faith alone, with no additions or modifications. This is wonderful news, the unregenerate sinner who was called has been legally declared righteous (regenerated) in the sight of God, whereby has present active and continuous peace, that is, final reconciliation and fellowship with God. In his definitive exegesis of Romans Wuest can say of this beautiful passage: In his definitive exegesis of Romans Wuest can say of this beautiful passage:

The word “therefore” reaches back to the contents of chapter four—therefore being justified, not by works (1-8), not by ordinances (9-12), not by obedience (13-25), but by faith, we have peace. The first three never give peace to the soul. Faith does. . . . The context is didactic. It contains definite statements of fact. It is highly doctrinal in nature. It has to do with a sinner’s standing before God in point of law, not his experience. As Denney [James Denney, D. D.] says; “The justified have peace with God,… His wrath (1:18) no longer threatens them; they are accepted in Christ. It is not a change in their feelings which is indicated, but a change in God’s relation to them (Romans in the Greek New Testament, 75-76).

Hence Paul announces to the Christians at Ephesus: “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; NOT AS A RESULT OF WORKS, so that none may boast” (Eph. 2:8; emphasis added). “If it is by grace,” Paul says, “it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace” (Rom. 11:6). We can go on from here and cite many other passages that explicitly teach that salvation is by grace alone through faith alone without any mention of modifications of the necessity of water baptism: “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:30f). How are sins forgiven? Scripture is clear:

Of Him all the prophets bear witness that through His name everyone WHO BELIEVES ON HIM RECEIVES FORGIVENESS OF SINS (Acts 10:43; emphasis added).

Let us pause and think; why is it that over and over the New Testament teaches that eternal salvation is explicitly tied to faith or belief alone with no mention of water baptism if in fact water baptism was essential to one’s salvation? 24 Paul’s own statement refutes the notion that water baptism was an indispensable means of salvation:

For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel. . . . (1 Cor. 1:17).

Let us pause and think, why is it that over and over the New Testament teaches that eternal salvation is explicitly tied to faith or belief alone with no mention of HUMANS WORKS such as water baptism, if in fact works or water baptism was essential to one’s salvation? (e.g., John 5:24, 6:47; Rom. 5:1; Eph. 2:8; Titus 3:5). Paul’s own statement refutes that the idea that water baptism was an indispensable part of salvation: For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel.

God the Holy Spirit inspires Paul to speak on the GIFT not reward of salvation:

By grace ye are saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast (Eph. 2:8)

Notice, that “faith” that saves comes from Christ not of ourselves. Salvation is a gift. We cannot achieve it by meritorious works nor do we deserve it. The sole reason why men come to Christ is because the Father gives them to Christ and He will raise them up at the last day:

“No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:44; cf. vv. 37-40, 65)

One cannot help to admire Paul’s unceasing passion: salvation is by the grace of Jesus Christ and solely through faith alone. The addition of works, any kind of works, to attain salvation is by definition alien to the Apostle Paul. In Scripture, water baptism is defined as an “act” or deed “to fulfill [not to receive] righteousness” (Matt. 3:15). Yet, Paul clearly refutes this idea:

He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior (Titus 3:5f; emphasis added).

the law was our school master to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith (Gal. 3:24)

Man can never work enough to be justified in front of a perfect God, justification comes by faith alone. The Prophet Isaiah sums it up:

all our righteousness are as filthy rags (Isa. 64:6)

Through Christ, Christians are declared perfect (positional) in front of a perfect God even though practically we still sin. The Mormons could never say that he or she is perfect NOW in God’s eyes.

For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified… And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more (Heb. 10:14, 17; emphasis added)

No General Salvation

The Bible clearly communicates that after death man will reside in one of two places: Heaven for the saved or Hell for the unsaved. Hence, eternal separation from God is the fate of the person who rejects the Jesus of Scripture (cf. John8:24).

And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment (Heb. 9:27).

Jesus was a masterful communicator. And with that in mind Jesus makes a clear dichotomy of heaven or hell for the destiny of all mankind. Jesus never gave the idea that there is an intermediate state or a temporary place in which man may or may not end up at:

“He that believeth on the Son has [echei] 5 everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth [Gk. menei] on him” (John3:36; emphasis added).

It should be noted that in the above verse (John 3:36) the word “abideth” (menei) carries the idea of a continuous action (e.g., John 1:33; 2:12; 8:31). So, for the one that rejects the Person of Christ (of the Bible) God’s wrath continues to remain of him.

To illustrate that there are only two possibilities Jesus gave some insightful parables; In Matthew 13:30, wheat and tares. Matthew 13:49, wicked and the just. Also in Matthew 25:32, Jesus compares sheep (believers) and goats (unbelievers) and says that the goats will go to eternal punishment (kolasin; see below) and the sheep or righteous will go to eternal life.

Moreover in Luke 16:20ff., Jesus describes “Hades” as a place with two compartments; Abraham’s bosom and torment. And there was a “great gulf fixed” so that no one could pass from compartment to compartment. For the rich man in torment, there was no escape. Therefore, biblically there are only two possibilities heaven or hell, saved or unsaved hence, as with the rich man in Hades, the Mormons have cold-shouldered biblical truth.

The unsaved will be separated from God, thrown in the lake of fire wherein they will experience conscience torment forever and forever (Matt. 25: 46; 2 Thes. 1:9; Rev. 14:9-11; 20:10, 15).

Matthew 25:46: “everlasting punishment” The word translated “punishment” is kolasin. Greek scholars universally agree the word means punishment. (see Moulton and Milligan’s, The Vocabulary of the Greek New Testament; Joseph Thayer’s, Greek-English Lexicon). Furthermore, the parallel between “everlasting life” and “everlasting punishment” indicates duration (eternity).

Revelation 14:11: “Their torment rises for ever and ever… no rest day or night…” The word “torment” (basanizo) Thayer defines as “To be vexed with grievous pain” (Thayer).

Revelation 20:10, 14: “The Devil, the false prophet and the Beast were thrown in the lake of fire where they will be tormented forever and ever.”

Notes

1, Joseph Smith stated:

“In the evening I received the first decree in free Masonry in the Nauvoo Lodge, assemble in my general business office” (History of the Church, 4: 551)

2, For a Mormon to gain entrance into the LDS Temple, he or she must first receive a “Temple recommend.” To receive this E- ticket to the Temple the Mormon must be counted as “worthy.” “Worthy” Mormons are those who prove themselves “worthy.” This comes after about a year or so of being a member of the LDS Church, unless the Mormon was raised in the LDS Church, then the candidate would generally wait until they are ready for a mission or marriage. At the discretion of the local Bishop, a Mormon can be deemed “worthy” and ready to enter the Temple. First, the Mormon, or Mormon couple preparing for marriage would have to attend a temple preparedness class. Then, by way of interview, the Bishop will ask a series of questions about tithing, obedience, church attendance, and any other questions the Bishop can think of that he feels would be pertinent. After which, if he determines the candidate is worthy, the Mormon or couple must then repeat the whole interview process with someone from a higher level in the LDS Church (i.e., stake presidency). And if worthiness is determined, a “Temple recommend” card is issued. A “Temple recommend” has to be renewed annually, and, of course, renewal is predicated on tithing. Without the “Temple recommend” the Mormon cannot go into the Temple to take out his or her endowments, or be married and sealed. However, as seen, Jesus completely annihilates this false notion in Luke 18:10-14. There is simply no mention of a “Temple recommend” in Scripture.

3, The “Endowment,” what Mormons call a gift, is actually drama play that worthy Mormons have to watch in the Temple. At this play (now it is a video) they learn how Elohim (God the Father) instructed Jehovah (Jesus) and Michael the arch-angel (Adam) how to organized this world. In LDS theology God does not create He merely organizes or fashions the eternal matter and intelligences. Joseph Smith said that God “never had the power to create” (Teachings of The Prophet Joseph Smith, 354).

4, In the Mormon religion there are two priesthoods: Aaronic and the Melchizedek. The Aaronic is the lesser of the two. To have eternal life (i.e., exaltation to Godhood) the “worthy” (and married) Mormon male must be ordained to this higher priesthood. This priesthood was excluded to all blacks until 1978 (see my article: Mormons and Black Skin) and is excluded from all females presently.

5, The verb “has” ( echei) is a present tense indicative that expresses continuous present action. When the person believes in Christ that person HAS continually and presently eternal life (cf. John 5:24; 6:47; 1 John 5:12).

The foundation of the Mormon faith is their four standard works- Book of Mormon (hereafter BOM), Doctrine and Covenants, Pearl of Great Price and the King James Version of the Bible. To Mormons, these works are equal in terms of being “inspired by God.” Although the Bible, is rather sub-canonical in LDS thinking:

the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God (Pearl of Great Price, in the 8th Article of Faith; emphasis added).

Saying that the Bible is the Word of God “as far as it is translated correctly” is an “easy out” for Mormons, especially when they encounter difficult verses which contradict their theology or they cannot answer, hence they assume their conclusion that their trying to reach. This, is a typical Mormon apologetic. Moreover, it is fair to say that there are not one in a thousand Mormons who can properly translate Hebrew or Greek into English.

A key factor in Christian apologetics, which the Mormons would agree to, is the fact that the Bible is the oldest revelation originating hundreds of years before the BOM. This point should be well established at the prologue of your discussion with the Mormons. Once that point is made, it opens the door for effective evangelizing from the Bible alone. We ought not to test doctrine by our feelings or prayers but by Scripture (cf. Acts 17:11; 1 Thess. 5:21). False gospels were obviously in the apostle Paul’s mind when he wrote to the Galatians:

I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed (Gal. 1:6-8)

Paul markedly states that the propagators of false gospels would be cursed by God (anathema) Paul could not have used a stronger term then anathema.

Scripture is the sole objective authority, whereby all things are measured and tested. When the apostle Paul was in Berea the people listening tested all things that Paul said, not by a feeling or a “burning in the bosom” but by Scripture (cf. Acts 17:11). Let us therefore test the BOM to what we know is the Word of God, and examine, objectively, its credibility.

The BOM above the Bible?

In their effort to proselytize, Mormon missionaries will bring out the BOM first, rather than the Bible. The Mormons are absolutely, without qualification, convinced that the BOM is the Word of God. Mormons will tell us that they know beyond doubt that the BOM is true because God confirmed its truthfulness to them by way of a “burning in the bosom.” Commonly Mormons share the usual testimony, concerning the validity of their belief: “I know that Joseph Smith is a true prophet and that the church is true and the BOM is true. . . .” Not surprising is that they cannot provide any factual, objective evidence but rather they will say that, “I prayed about it and God confirmed it by a burning in my bosom.” Mormons will quote Moroni 10:3-5 and Doctrine and Covenants, 9:8, 9, which tells them to pray about the BOM and God, will manifest a “burning in the bosom.” This, of course, is not the biblical method of testing, nor is it good God told us to test all things using Scripture as the standard (cf. Acts 17:11; 1 Thess. 5:21; 2 Tim. 3:15, 16).

Feelings can be deceptive:

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it (Jer. 17:9)

There is a way which seems right to a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death (Pr. 14:12)

He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool. . . . (Prov. 28:26 KJV)

BOM Origins

Leader and founder Joseph Smith Jr. claimed, as do other cult leaders, that God spoke to him personally, telling him that all the churches, all the Christian professors and all the Christian creeds were completely in error. Then we learn how God supposedly told Joseph Smith that he alone was chosen to restore the church, which suffered a total apostasy shortly after the death of the original apostles. But, of course, there is not one shed of evidence that would support this view.

Thus, a “new prophet” with a new scripture, the BOM “another testament of Jesus Christ” emerged. We are told that on September 21, 1823, three years after Smith’s alleged encounter with God the Father and Jesus, the angel Moroni son of the prophet Mormon appeared to Smith in his bedroom. The angel told Smith that there was a book that was written on gold plates. Allegedly these plates were written in “reformed Egyptian” (an unknown language–known only to Smith). The plates contained an account of the former inhabitants of this continent- primarily the Nephites and the Lamanites.

The Nephites were righteous and therefore “white and delightsome” and the Lamanites were the ones that rebelled against the Lord and became cursed with black skin (cf. 2 Nephi 5:21; BOM). This, of course, is racism at its peak. We are told that eventually the wicked black Lamanites destroyed virtually all the white righteous Nephites. The Mormons say that the Lamanites are the ancestors of the American Indians. Before the desolation of the Nephites, a prophet named Mormon wrote this supposed historic account, on “gold plates.” Mormon then confided the plates to his son Moroni who thereafter hid them at the hill Cumorah around A.D. 421. And on September 22, 1827 subsequent to many other visits, Moroni finally allowed Smith to remove the gold plates buried at the hill Cumorah (Western NY).

We also learn how Smith allegedly translated the “gold plates.” David Whitmer, one of the “three witnesses,” explains, let us read Whitmer’s statement:

I will now give you a description of the manner in which the Book of Mormon was translated. Joseph Smith would put the seer stone into a hat, and put his face in the hat, drawing it closely around his face to exclude the light; and in the darkness the spiritual light would shine. A peace of something resembling parchment would appear, and on that appeared the writing. One character at a time would appear and under it was the interpretation in English. Brother Joseph would read of the English to Oliver Cowdery, who was his principal scribe, and when it was written down and repeated to brother Joseph to see if it was correct, then it was disappear, and another character with the interpretation would appear. Thus the Book of Mormon was translated by the gift and power of God and not by man (David Whitmer, An Address to All Believers in Christ (Concord, CA: Pacific Publishing Co., 1976, reprint; emphasis added).

Of course, this method of translation is as occultic as it gets.

The Insurmountable Problems of Book of Mormon

Nephi or Moroni?

Difficult is the task for LDS leaders, to somehow try to defend the blatant contradictions of their founder Joseph Smith. We are told in the current LDS scripture Pearl of Great Price (Smith, History 2:33) that the BOM is a translation from the “gold plates” that the angel Moroni allegedly gave to Smith. In fact at the top of every LDS temple is the angel Moroni tooting his horn.

Yet in the Mormon gospel, Pearl of Great Price (original 1851 ed., 41) we read that it was not Moroni but rather the BOM prophet Nephi that had delivered the plates to Smith! Moroni is nowhere to be found in Smith’s original story. So why the change of angels? The LDS Church has never provided an answer for that question.1

The question I ask is: If Moroni was such a key figure in the BOM, then why is he still a mere angel rather than a God? In Mormonism, an angel is somewhat of a punishment or as LDS apostle Bruce McConkie says that the ones that did not make it to exaltation (i.e., Godhood) they are damned (cf. Mormon Doctrine, 670). In Mormon theology, only the righteous can become a God. Was not Moroni righteous? And but another question that has never been sufficiently answered.

Changes in the BOM

Few Mormons are privy to the fact that the original 1830 BOM is substantially different than the current editions of the BOM. There are nearly 4000 changes from the 1830 ed. to the current ed.! The usual arguments imposed by the missionaries, trying to defend the indefensible, are that the changes are misspellings or punctuation errors. This line of argumentation seems sensible at first, to the uninformed; however when the 1830 ed. is compared to the current BOM we find that there are multiple changes in the factual data not just the spelling and punctuation. Many of the changes are doctrinal! One would ask though, “Why were there any corrections at all?” According to Joseph Smith:

I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth. . . . (see the Introduction of the BOM; cf. Joseph Smith, History of the Church, 4:461).

Furthering this false notion that the BOM is free from error, Smith claims that after he translated the plates God told him:

These plates have been revealed by the power of God, and they have been translated by the power of God. The translation of them which you have seen is correct, and I command you to bear record of what you now see and hear” (History of the Church, 1:54-55; emphasis added)

Think about it, after the translation was completed, according to Smith, God gave His approval of the flawlessness of the translation – but what of the 4000 changes?

Doctrinal Changes

The 1830 ed. of Mosiah 21:28 reads: “King Benjamin had a gift from God. . . ” The current ed. reads, “King Mosiah had a gift from God. . . ”

The 1830 ed. of 1 Nephi 11:21 reads: “And the angel said unto me, Behold the Lamp of God, yea, even the Eternal Father.” Current ed. reads, “even the Son of the Eternal Father.”

The 1830 ed. of 1 Nephi 11:32 reads: “yea, the everlasting God. . . ” The current ed. reads, “yea, the Son of the everlasting God. . .”

These are just a few of the numerous and substantial doctrinal changes. But why, are there changes at all? God allegedly said, “and they have been translated by the power of God. The translation of them which you have seen is correct. . . ”

And according to Smith, God said this after the translation was finished! When in fact the translation was not correct- nearly 4000 changes!

Again, why were there any changes at all? Notice the precise way translation (as Whitmer tells us above): character by character, then reading the characters back again to confirm. And when the translation was finished God said, according to Smith, “and they [the “gold plates’] have been translated by the power of God. The translation of them which you have seen is correct. . . .”

Again, why the changes if God said the translation was correct? This point must be driven home.

Plagiarisms

One interesting point that should be discussed with Mormons is the fact that the BOM contains some 27,000 words taken directly from the King James Version of the Bible. This in itself presents a rancid problem for the BOM. We are told that the BOM was written between 600 B.C. and A.D. 421. So how did 1611 Elizabethan English words get in the BOM? A question, I think, that is inescapably awkward for Mormon missionaries to deal with.

In fact there are many places in the BOM where whole verses are plagiarized word for word from the KJV (compare Luke 10:15 with 2 Nephi 9:34; John 1:29 with 2 Nephi 31:4; John 15:6 with Jacob 5:7; Eph. 4:5 with Mosiah 18:21; 1 Cor. 3:4 with Moroni 7:45. These are but a few of the many plagiarized verses that the BOM contains.

Archaeology

Notwithstanding the hopeless attempts to substantiate the BOM by gratuitous and less than honest archaeological claims; is the reason as to why archaeology is so antagonistic to Mormonism. Embarrassing for the LDS Church is the lack of archaeological evidence, which is anything but encouraging for investigating Mormons?

The fact is, there is not a single shred of anything that could even come close to validating the BOM. First of all, the BOM talks of great wars in which hundreds and thousands were killed yet no one has found any evidence of these wars. Also, what about all the BOM locations and structures? Where is the proof? For example: where is the “land of Moron, north of the great land of Desolation?” (Ether 7:5, 6; BOM). Where is the evidence for a “King Moron?” Has any BOM town or land, ever been found? The answer categorically is NO!

Next time you pick up a BOM try and find a map of any BOM land or city. Hence, there is much confusion and debate among LDS scholars as to BOM locations. Not at all surprising is that no BOM location has ever been discovered. Embarrassing to the Mormons are the glaring facts: No BOM persons, no BOM coins, no BOM nations, no BOM names, no BOM artifacts, no BOM scriptures, no BOM inscriptions, no BOM gold plates, has ever been found. There is nothing that would demonstrate the BOM as a reliable record.

BYU Professor Thomas Stuart Ferguson

Ruinous to the BOM’s credibility is the archaeological research of former Brigham Young University professor Thomas Stuart Ferguson. For the lone purpose of discovering archaeological evidences of the BOM Ferguson founded the Department of Archaeology at BYU. Their first field trip was in 1948 to western Campeche (southern Mexico). Campeche would be the first of many following excursions.

And after a twenty-five year journey of research and trying to prove the archaeology of the BOM Ferguson came short of anything that would support the BOM. Subsequently in 1975, out of total discouragement, Ferguson wrote a paper in a response to Mormon apologist John Sorenson and Garth Norman entitled: Written Symposium on Book-of-Mormon Geography: Response of Thomas S. Ferguson to the Norman & Sorenson Papers. Wherein he states:

With all of these great efforts, it cannot be established factually that anyone, from Joseph Smith to the present day, has put his finger on a single point of terrain that was a Book-of-Mormon geographical place. And the hemisphere has been pretty well checked out by competent people. Thousands of sites have been excavated (4; to obtain the paper see Ferguson’s Manuscript Unveiled, Salt lake City, Utah: Lighthouse Ministries).

Ferguson’s conclusions were the result of many years of honest and objective research. Most Mormons missionaries today are unaware of Thomas Stuart Ferguson and his research. Therefore, it is well worth the time to mention him.

Dee F. Green

In addition to Ferguson, Dee F. Green who had worked with Ferguson, was one of the first to overtly criticize the BOM. He was once heavily involved in the archaeological research of the BOM. In 1958-1961 he was the editor of the University Archaeological Society Newsletter. What he said in an article is well worth reading:

Having spent a considerable portion of the past ten years functioning as a scientist dealing with the New Worlds archaeology, I find that nothing in so-called Book of Mormon archaeology materially affects my religious commitment one way or the other, and I do not see that the archaeological myths so common in our proselytizing program enhance the process of true conversion. . . . The first thing we need to eliminate is that Book of Mormon archaeology exist. . . . since no Book of Mormon location is known with reference to modern topography. Biblical archaeology can be studied because we do know where Jerusalem and Jericho were and are, but we do not know where Zarahemla and Bountiful (or any other location for that matter) were or are (Carlfred B. Broderick, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Autumn 1967, 100-101; emphasis added).

Smithsonian Institution

Uninformed Mormon missionaries will often insist that the prestigious Smithsonian Institution and other credible institutions actually utilizes the BOM for an archaeological guide. However that statement is simply false, in point of fact, inasmuch as the many have inquired to the Smithsonian Institution concerning the BOM the Institution had written a response letter to inquiring minds. Whereby refuting point by point the preposterous assertions fabricated by the Mormon Church and their founder Joseph Smith.

Overall, archaeology has always been a thorn in the flesh for the Mormons. Mormon missionaries struggle with the lack of evidence concerning the BOM. Whereas the Bible is well supported by detailed and extensive archaeology. Just about every town, city, and land that is mention in the Bible has been located. The Bible, unlike the BOM, is over flowing with physical evidence (e.g., structures, coins, writings, ostraca, papyri, manuscripts, quotations from early church Fathers, etc).

This type of evidence can be examined and verified to demonstrate the genuineness of the Bible that would satisfy even the most incredulous. The BOM is an island that is deserted of objective tangible evidence. *To see a photocopy of the Smithsonian’s statement concerning the BOM– go Here

Anachronisms

What is quite remarkable is the fact that the BOM is replete with many anachronisms. An anachronism is a person or a thing that exist but is chronologically out of place. Example: The BOM mentions “steel” in 1 Nephi 4:9. The BOM contains the English word “Bible” in 2 Nephi 29:3-6. It speaks of “glass” in Ether 3:1. There are many more that can be cited. So, since the BOM is a supposed record of the people in the American continent from 600 BC to AD 421 how were these things possibly around? Even more puzzling is the BOM prophet Lehi who is said to have found something like a “mariner’s compass” (see 1 Nephi 16:10, 16; 18:12, 21; Alma 37:38). How did Lehi find a compass around 600 B.C. when it’s a matter of historical fact, a magnetic compass was first used by the Chinese to navigate not until A.D. 1100?!

Furthermore the BOM mentions particular animals in the New World such as elephants (Ether 9:19), cows, oxen, horses and goats (1 Nephi 18:25). Not one of these animals even existed in the New World at this particular time, as concurred by the Smithsonian Institution. Mormons go so far as to say that the highly regarded Smithsonian Institution supported their claims; but the fact is: Smithsonian Institution has never taken the BOM seriously, neither has anyone else except the Mormons.

Also, Joseph Smith says that the BOM did not contain Greek words:

There was no Greek or Latin upon the plates from which I, through the grace of God, translated the Book of Mormon (Joseph Fielding Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 299; emphasis added)

No Greek? The fact is, contained in the BOM are numerous Greek words. For example, in Alma 16:13 we see the word “synagogue” which comes from the Greek word, “sunagoge.” Historically out-of-place is the fact that the concept of a synagogue did not exist at the time of Lehi’s migration from Israel. Also we read in 3 Nephi 9:18; “I am the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.” “Alpha” and “Omega” is the first and last letter of the Greek alphabet!

BOM without LDS Doctrine?

Since its inception, Mormons are convinced that the BOM contains all the many plain and precious parts that were lost through the hands of men. However, when reading through the BOM one discovers something that is quite odd: distinct, standard LDS doctrines are not contained in the BOM!

In other words when we comb through the BOM we don’t find LDS doctrines like: God is an exalted man with a body of flesh and bones; the plurality of Gods; a Mother God in Heaven; Celestial, Terrestrial and Telestial heavens; Baptism for the Dead; Celestial marriage; the Law of Eternal Progression; Exaltation (i.e., man becoming a God); the Aaronic Priesthood, the Melchizedek Priesthood and the doctrine of Pre-existence.

Where in the BOM are all these many plain and precious parts and distinctive LDS doctrines that were supposedly lost? What exactly did Smith restore?

*See: The Early Teachings of Joseph Smith where we find that Smith did not hold to many present-day essential teachings of the LDS Church, like polytheism (many Gods), the teaching that the Father has a body of flesh and bones, etc.

Sadly, the Mormons really do believe and trust that the BOM is the “Word of God.” However, when we put the BOM under scrutiny we find that the BOM is anything but a reliable source. If it was, in fact, God’s Word, the BOM would not be historically inconsistent nor would it contain the vast internal and external discrepancies (e.g., different accounts of the so-called “first vision”; different accounts of angels; the archeological problems; anachronisms; plagiarisms; etc.). The Bible stands the test. It is the oldest revelation hence all things should be tested in light of it. The Bible can be demonstrated to be the Word of God.

So, whom can you trust? You can’t trust the BOM- but you can trust Scripture, the Word of the true and only God.

Notes

1, For a photocopy of the original Pearl of Great Price, 1851 ed., 41, where “Nephi” is mentioned rather than “Moroni,” write this ministry.

The fundamental difference between Mormonism and Christianity is the LDS doctrine of “many Gods.” Polytheism (i.e., the belief that more than one true God exists) is roundly condemned in biblical theology (e.g., Deut. 6:4; Isa. 43:10; 44:6, 8; 45:5). It is this belief alone that excludes Mormons from being Christian. Mormons assert that God the Father (and Jesus) was once a man that lived on an earth, similar to this one, whereby He worked His way up and earn His Godhood (salvation), by obedience to the law (just as did Jesus). This entire process: spirit child (pre-existence) to mortal man (on earth)- to a God (of His own planet(s) sometime after the final resurrection) is termed by Mormons as “Eternal Progression.”

Thus, the ultimate goal for the Mormon male is “Exaltation.” Exaltation is the heart of Mormon theology. Exaltation in LDS vernacular, simple means: man progressing to the status of Godhood (salvation in its truest sense). Hence, exaltation is the ultimate future goal of most every devoted Mormon male.

Of course, exaltation is future. That is, worthy Mormon candidates may, become a God in the after-life (after the resurrection). However, they must, here on earth, first prove themselves worthy by obeying the mandates of the LDS Church, which includes marrying and being sealed in their Temple. In LDS teaching, there are no single Gods. And since men cannot become Gods presently, Mormons refer to men as “Gods in embryo.”

Mormons often quote this vexatious phase, “As man is, God once was, as God is man may become” (coined by LDS Apostle and later fifth president Lorenzo Snow), this LDS maxim sums up the teaching of exaltation. First Prophet and President of the LDS Church, Joseph Smith first annunciated this teaching:

Here then is eternal life- to know the only wise and true God; and you have got to learn how to be Gods yourselves, and to be kings and priests to God, the same as all Gods have done before you, namely, by going from one small degree to another, and from a small capacity to a great one; from grace to grace, from exaltation to exaltation, until you attain to the resurrection of the dead, and are able to dwell in everlasting burnings, and to sit in glory, as do those who sit enthroned in everlasting power (Joseph Fielding Smith ed, Teachings of The Prophet Joseph Smith, 346-47).

In the same sermon,1 Smith goes on to say:

When you climb up the ladder, you must begin at the bottom, and ascend step by step, until you arrive at the top; and so it is with the principals of the Gospel- you must begin with the first, and go on until you learn all the principals of exaltation (ibid., 348).

In his book: Doctrines of Salvation, under the subject: ALL EXALTED MEN BECOME GODS, tenth President and Prophet, Joseph Fielding Smith teaches:

To believe that Adam is a god should not be strange to any person who accepts the Bible. When Jesus was accused of blasphemy because he claimed to be the Son of God, he answered the Jews: “Is it not written in your law, I said Ye are gods? . . . Joseph Smith taught a plurality of gods 2 and that man by obeying the commandments of God and keeping the whole law will eventually reach the power and exaltation by which he also will become a god (97-98; emphasis added).

Teaching on exaltation, Twelfth President, Spencer W. Kimball says:

Brethren 225,000 of you are here tonight. I suppose 225, 000 of you may become gods. There seems to be plenty of space out there in the universe. And the Lord has proved that he knows how to do it. I think he could make, or probably have us help make, worlds for all of us, for every one of us 225,000 (The Ensign, Nov. 1975, 80; emphasis added).

In his book: A Marvelous Work and a Wonder, after quoting Doctrine and Covenants, 132:4-6, 15-17, 19, 212, LDS Apostle Le Grand Richards writes:

From this revelation, it will be seen that men can become Gods and enjoy a “fullness and a continuation of the seeds fore ever and ever,” only by observing the new and everlasting covenant of marriage. . . . (313).

LDS General Authority and LDS Apostle, Bruce R. McConkie states:

Exaltation grows out of the eternal union of a man and his wife. Of those whose marriage endures in eternity, the Lord says, “Then shall they be gods” (D. & C. 132:20); that is, each of them, the man and the woman, will be a god.3 As such they will rule over their dominions forever (Mormon Doctrine, 613; cf. 257).

This is the basic tenet of Mormon doctrine. In fact, all those who do not make this elite status are “damned,” in Mormon teaching.4 And, of course, Godhood is only available in the highest level of the celestial kingdom.

Biblical Teaching

In Scripture, God has much to say concerning polytheism (many true Gods) and the false idea that that men can become a God. Keep in mind, Mormons believe that God was once a man, hence, Mormons are taught that God is not the eternal God from everlasting to everlasting (cf. Ps. 90:2), for God had to become God

Isaiah 43:10 and 44:6, 8

Isaiah 44:6, 8:

First, keep in mind that in the OT, the Mormons are taught that the “LORD” (Heb. Yahweh or, as the Mormons pronounce, “Jehovah”) is the pre-incarnate Christ and “God” (Heb. Elohim) is the Father.

With that in mind, Isaiah 44:6, 8 reads:

44:6: Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.

44:8: Fear ye not, neither be afraid; have not I told thee from that time, and have declared it? ye are even my witnesses. Is there a God beside me? yea, there is no God; I know not any.

Note first that it is the LORD speaking–who the Mormons think is Jesus, not the Father, the Father is Elohim (“God”). So how is it that the Son (LORD) can say “beside me there is no “God” [Elohim, the Father]? Does He deny His Father’s (Elohim) existence?

And how is it that the Son can affirm that “there is no God [Elohim]” and that He knows of “not any.”? This passages in light of Mormon theology is quite problematic.

Further, the LORD asks, “Is there a God beside me?” In LDS theology, there are many Gods, so, how is it that the LORD would ask, “Is there a God beside Me?”? Is not the LORD omniscient, knowing all things?

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Isaiah 43:10:

“Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: That ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he; before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me” (Isa. 43:10).

Notice, God affirms: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. Also we read:

“for I am God, and there is none else” (Isa. 45:22; emphasis added).

Mormons usually respond to this verse and others by asserting that either (a) the translation is corrupt or (b) God here, as in Isa. 43:10; and 44:6, 8 is speaking of false gods or idols. However, this line of reasoning is flawed.

First, virtually every manuscript, and translation that contains Isaiah 43:10 and 44:6, 8 whether Hebrew or the Septuagint (LXX; i.e., the Gk. Translation of the OT, which Jesus and the apostles frequently used) essentiality reads the same. What is more, the oldest complete manuscript of Isaiah (extant) contained in the Dead Sea Scrolls also reads the same!: “before me there was no God [Heb. El] formed, neither shall there be after me.”

Secondly, in Isaiah 43:10 God is not saying: ” No other false Gods exist but Me,” for He is the true God. Hence, there are no other true Gods that exist but the one true God of Scripture, Creator of Heaven and earth (cf. Is. 44:24).

But the LORD [is] the true God, he [is] the living God, and an everlasting king: at his wrath the earth shall tremble, and the nations shall not be able to abide his indignation. Thus shall ye say unto them, The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth, [even] they shall perish from the earth, and from under these heavens (Jer. 10:10-11).

Exaltation (i.e., man becoming a God) is an utterly pagan doctrine, which, by the way, did not originate with the Mormons but rather was quite pervasive among the pagans, centuries before Mormonism. Hence we find a clear and pointed refutation in the book of Isaiah: “BEFORE ME THERE WAS NO GOD FORMED, NEITHER SHALL THERE BE AFTER ME” (43:10; emphasis added).

You have been taught that the LORD alone is God – there is no other besides him (Deut. 4:35).

Notes

1,One of Smith’s greatest sermons, Mormons tell us, called: The King Follett Discourse. Joseph Smith delivered this discourse before about twenty thousand LDS at the April conference of the church, 1844, being the funeral sermon of Elder King Follett. LDS writers and General Authorities, frequently quote portions of this sermon when teaching and discussing official LDS doctrine.

2, Doctrine and Covenants, 132:20 reads: “Then shall they be gods, because they have no end; therefore shall they be from everlasting to everlasting, because they continue; then shall they be above all, because all things are subject unto them. Then shall they be gods, because they have all power, and the angels are subject unto them.”

3, Not implying that women would be the man’s equal (according to LDS theology), however, they teach that women will be “queens” (goddesses) to their King (their husband) in full submission. Hence, they will not be the head God, that position is only relegated for men. As one LDS writer put it: “women will be eternal birth-machines.”

4, Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 669.

Stamped on every cover of the Book of Mormon (recent edition) is the phrase, “Another Testament of Jesus Christ.” Undoubtedly, this statement is quite accurate; the Jesus of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (hereafter LDS) is indeed, another Testament of Jesus Christ. Notwithstanding the polished Christian vocabulary in which young LDS missionaries employ, the LDS Church embraces a decidedly heterodox Christology. Because of a distorted view of the doctrine of the Trinity, the LDS’ chief Christological assertion is clear: Jesus Christ did not eternally exist as God. As will be demonstrated, the Jesus of Mormonism had to earn His salvation whereby becoming a God (in the fullest sense). Mormons are quick to point out that Jesus Christ is the “eternal” God (cf. Book of Mormon: preface) but what they mean is that His “matter” has always existed.1 Only in that sense, is He tagged as a “God.” As with all non-Christian cults, the Mormons pour a meaning into the term “Son of God,” which is far removed from the biblical definition. When Mormons are asked, “Who is Jesus?” they confidently respond by saying, “He is the Only Begotten Son of God in the flesh.” Concerning this LDS motto is the last phrase “in the flesh.” This is very significant in LDS theology. LDS Apostle Bruce R. McConkie explains “Christ was begotten by an Immortal Father in the same way that mortal men are begotten by mortal fathers” (emphasis added).2

In LDS theology, Jesus was the actual biological Son of an exalted man (the Father) and a mortal woman (Mary). That Jesus was begotten, “in the same way that mortal men are begotten by mortal fathers,” has been the official position of the LDS Church. In fact, never has there been any LDS General Authority3 who denied it. Since the Mormon Jesus was a start-up God, His life as a God had a beginning. Unconditionally, to err on the doctrine of Jesus Christ is a deadly error. LDS doctrine deifies man and dethrones Jesus Christ of His rightful position as the eternal God. Only by ignoring the grammar and context of particular biblical passages can Mormon Christology be achieved. Church history and biblical exegesis is no friend of LDS theology. The Christological conclusions of the LDS Church are patent eisegesis at its worst. It was the God and Savior Jesus Christ who clearly defined Christianity:

“Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am4 He, you will die in your sins” (John 8:24; Note: All biblical citations hereafter are from the New American Standard Bible, unless indicated).

The full deity of Jesus Christ is the very foundation of orthodox Christianity. Only because Jesus Christ is the divine Mediator, is salvation a reality. Nevertheless, the LDS position stands firm: Jesus Christ the Son of God did not eternally exist as God. Rather, He became a God by obedience to law when He lived on earth.

A Distortion of the Trinity

Before examining the LDS Christological postulation, one must understand its distinctive doctrine of Exaltation. Exaltation is the heart of Mormon theology. Exaltation, in LDS vernacular, simply means: man progressing to Godhood, that is, salvation in its truest sense. Accordingly, exaltation to Godhood is the ultimate goal of nearly all devoted Mormon males. First president and founder of the LDS Church, Joseph Smith, explains:

I will go back to the beginning before the world was, to show what kind of being God is. . . . God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens. . . . it is necessary we should understand the character and being of God and how he came to be so; for 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. These are incomprehensible ideas to some, but they are simple. It is the first principle of the Gospel to know for a certainty the Character of God, and to know that we may converse with him as one man converses with another, and that 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; and I will show it from the Bible. . . .

Here, then, is eternal life—to know the only wise and true God; and you have got to learn how to be Gods yourselves, and to be kings and priests to God, the same as all Gods have done before you, namely, by going from one small degree to another, and from a small capacity to a great one. . . . (Smith’s emphasis).5

Therefore, the LDS Jesus had to learn how to become a God “the same as all Gods have done before.” Hence, Mormons envisage Jesus as one of the three separate, but one in purpose, Gods for this world. The Mormons have replaced the biblical doctrine of the Trinity with a crude tritheistic concept. LDS Apostle and scholar, James E. Talmage, explains the LDS analysis of the Trinity:

The scriptures specify three personages in the Godhead; (1) God the Father, (2) His Son Jesus Christ, and (3) the Holy Ghost. These constitute the Holy Trinity, comprizing three physically separate and distinct individuals, who together constitute the presiding council of the heavens.6

LDS Apostle Bruce R. McConkie, who was honored for his scholarship by former LDS president, Ezra Taft Benson, comments on the LDS version of the Godhead:

Three separate personages—Father, Son, and the 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 (emphasis added).7

Clearly, the LDS Christological assertions are based primarily on their faulty view of the doctrine of the Trinity. To properly understand LDS Christology, a clear cognition of how they envisage the doctrine of the Trinity is key.

The LDS main assertion: Jesus Became a God

As with many ancient heresies (e.g., adoptionism), the Mormons teach that Jesus Christ obtained His deity at a point in time. Thus, like Father like Son; He lived as a man learning and “growing in wisdom” on earth. Jesus, according to Mormon theology, had “worked out His own salvation.” He eventually, after His resurrection, was exalted to Godhood by His Father, who was exalted by His Father, et cetera. Presently, as Mormons maintain, He exists as one of the three separate Gods for this world. However, in LDS thinking, all who are Gods now were once mere men who became Gods. LDS Apostle Lorenzo Snow, who later became the fifth president of the Church, sums up the LDS man-to-God doctrine in a short, but most quoted, couplet: “As man now is, God once was; as God now is, man may become.” Accordingly, in LDS theology, man and God are of the same species. Parley P. Pratt, who was one of the original LDS apostles, explains that men, angels (i.e., spirit children), and Jesus Christ have all originated8 from the same source:

Gods, angels, and men are all of one species, one race, one great family, widely diffused among the planetary systems, as colonies, kingdoms, nations, etc. . . . Each of these Gods, including Jesus Christ and His Father, being in possession of not merely an organized spirit, but a glorious immortal body of flesh and bones, is subject to the laws which govern, of necessity, even the most refined order of physical existence.9

In other words, according to this exclusively LDS idea, there is no quality difference between mortal man and Jesus. The only difference is, Jesus is exalted as a God presently, while man must live out his life here on earth; hoping for a future exaltation. This is why Mormons refer to Jesus as their “elder brother”—literally. Moreover, Mormons utilize the term “firstborn” to describe Jesus’ origin as the first literal spirit child born to God the Father.

In his definitive doctrinal glossary Mormon Doctrine, under the title “Firstborn,” LDS authority Bruce R. McConkie affirms that “Christ is the Firstborn, meaning that he was the first Spirit Child born to God the Father in pre-existence. (D. & C. 93:21; John 1:1-5; Rom. 8:29; Col. 1:15).10 In his book The Promised Messiah, McConkie goes on to say:

Implicit in his spirit birth as the Firstborn is the fact that, as with all the spirit children of the Father, he had a beginning; there was a day when he came into being as a conscious identity, as a spirit entity, as an organized intelligence.11

Christians must be familiar with Mormon vocabulary on this issue. Mormons claim that Jesus is Lord, Savior, and eternal God. As seen however, the phrase “eternal God” means simply that Jesus is God presently, but only His “intelligence” has eternally existed. Only when LDS terms are defined, is the full import of their Christology revealed. Additionally, what is extraordinarily problematic in LDS Christology is the explanation of how Jesus was a God in His preexistent life.

In Mormondom, one must go through a probationary time on earth as a mortal and earn his Godhood. This entire process: preexistence, to mortality,12 to Godhood (if worthy enough), in LDS doctrine is termed as Eternal Progression. The doctrine of Eternal Progression teaches of man’s journey from their “first estate” as spirit children, to their “second estate” on earth where they acquire mortality. Then, subsequent to their death and resurrection, they will proceed to their final abode in one of the three kingdoms, or heavens. In LDS theology, to progress to the highest level of heaven (i.e., the celestial kingdom), is ultimate Godhood. To reach this level, the Mormon male would have had to live a near perfect life on earth. Moreover, he must have possessed the Melchizedek priesthood; having been married and “sealed” in the LDS Temple. This is what Mormons call “true” salvation or eternal life. However, the question remains: How did Jesus become a God whereby skipping His eternal progression? Not much literature has been written on the subject. However tenth president and prophet of the LDS Church, Joseph Fielding Smith, gave an explanation in his Doctrines of Salvation, under the title: CHRIST WORKED OUT HIS OWN SALVATION:

CHRIST BEGAN MORTALITY AS MEN DO. Our Savior was God before he was born into this world, and he brought with him that same status when he came here. . . . But as far as this life is concerned it appears that he had to start just as all other children do and gain his knowledge line upon line. Luke says he “increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.” [Luke 2:52]. John records that “he received not of the fullness at the first,” but had to progress “from grace to grace, until he received a fullness.”13 Paul wrote, “Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered.” [Heb. 5:8] (Smith’s emphasis).14

A page later Smith explains that even though Jesus was “God before he was born into this world,” He was not God in the fullest sense until after His resurrection:

CHRIST GAINED FULLNESS AFTER RESURRECTION.

The Savior did not have fullness at first, but after he received his body and the resurrection, all power was given unto him both in heaven and in earth. Although he was a God, even the Son of God, with power and authority to create this earth and other earths, yet there were some things lacking which he did not receive until after his resurrection. In other words he had not received the fullness until he got a resurrected body, and the same is true with those who through faithfulness become sons of God. Our bodies are essential to the fullness and the continuation of the seeds forever (Smith’s emphasis).15

By maintaining that Jesus was a God (in some sense) in His preexistence, before He eternally progressed, and before He was supposedly married, contradicts the LDS fundamental doctrine of Eternal Progression. To circumvent the doctrine of Eternal Progression, LDS General Authorities like Joseph Fielding Smith simply asserted that Jesus was “lacking some things which he did not receive until after his resurrection.” Such is the common feature of every non-Christian cult: Jesus had a beginning. In His preexistence, the LDS Jesus was an incomplete God. Nothing unique, nothing special about this God, only that He is now one of the separate non-eternal Gods of, what Mormons call, the Trinity.

A BIBLICAL REFUTATION

To effectively refute LDS Christology, an adequate and exegetical description of the doctrine of the Trinity must be provided. Mormons, as well as many professing Christians, generally confound and misrepresent the biblical doctrine of the Trinity. Sound Christology can only be accomplished if the doctrine of the Trinity is correctly apprehended. What should be established first is that the very foundation of the Trinity is ontological monotheism:16 “Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one!” (Deut. 6:4). As noted previously, the Mormons vandalize the biblical doctrine of the Trinity. They assert that the Trinity is three separate Gods, which is tritheism, not Trinitarianism. The biblical doctrine of the Trinity simply states that there exist three coequal, codistinct Persons or Selves, who share the nature of the one Being.

The biblical data for the Trinity is massive.17 Unequivocal monotheism is the foundation of the Trinity. However, the LDS denial of monotheism has been the theological starting point from which their distinctive Christology was first formed.

Jesus Christ: The Eternal Word

In sharp contrast to the teachings of the LDS Church, the Christian church has always taught that there is one true eternal God, Creator of all things. The early church markedly distinguished creation from the Creator. Scripture speaks clearly of God’s eternal status:

Before the mountains were born or You gave birth to the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God (Ps. 90:2).

To communicate God’s eternal nature, the usual term utilized by the early church was agennētos (i.e., “uncreated”), which denoted His self-existence or unoriginateness (cf. Justin Martyr 1 Apol. 14.1). In his letter to the Ephesians, Ignatius of Antioch (c. A.D. 107) strictly applies agennētos to Jesus Christ:

There is one Physician who is possessed both of flesh and spirit; both made and not made [agennētos]; God existing in flesh; true life in death; both of Mary and of God; first possible and then impossible, even Jesus Christ our Lord (chap. 7; emphasis added).

The plain exegesis of John 1:1, as treated below, presents Jesus Christ as eternally subsisting as the eternal Logos, God Himself. The passage presents Jesus Christ subsisting on the same plane of deity as that of the Father. Thus, Jesus Christ as God was “from everlasting to everlasting.” It is important to remember that the LDS assertion that Jesus became a God at a particular point in time comes exclusively from LDS sources.18 Hence, there is absolutely no biblical support for this LDS assertion.

Scripture clearly and straightforwardly demonstrates that Jesus is fully God.19 Justification of the sinner rests on the full deity of Christ. As man, He was the perfect representation; as God His atonement had infinite value. Much too frequently, Christians make the mistake of simply trying to prove the deity of Jesus Christ. This is not an efficacious witnessing approach with the Mormons because the Mormons believe that Jesus is a God, but what they mean is that He became one of the Gods for this world.

Therefore, to effectively refute the Mormon position is to show that Jesus Christ has eternally existed as God Himself. To adequately refute something is to provide the evidence that it is false. Scripture, on its own merit, will be the chief instrument of refutation. The texts that will be utilized are John 1:1-14; Philippians 2:5-11; and the absolute egō eimi, (“I AM”) claims of Jesus Christ. If the passages are allowed to speak for themselves, they plainly and distinctly demonstrate that Jesus Christ eternally existed as God.

John 1:1-4

In the beginning was [ēn] the Word, and the Word was with God [ēn pros ton theon] and the Word was God [ theos ēn ho logos]. He was in the beginning with God. All things [panta] came into being [egeneto] through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being [egeneto] that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men (emphasis added).

To defend against Christological heresy and clearly teach that Jesus Christ eternally existed as God, the early church has enjoyed the prologue of the Gospel of John. Clement of Alexandria (c. A.D. 195) writes that “the Son was always the Word is signified by saying, “In the beginning was the Word.”20 Brilliant theologian and polemicist, Tertullian of Carthage (c. A.D. 213), used John 1:1 to refute the Modalism of Praxeas:

Now the Word of life became flesh, and was heard, and was seen, and was handled, because He was flesh who, before He came in the flesh, was the “Word in the beginning with God” the Father, and not the Father with the Word. For although the Word was God, yet was He with God, because He is God of God; and being joined to the Father, is with the Father.21

The prologue of John’s Gospel thoroughly destroys every Christological heresy from first century Docetism to the present-day theology of every non-Christian construct. The LDS denial of the eternality of Jesus Christ as God is clearly refuted in light of the grammar of John’s prologue.

From the very first clause, John presents his first argument for the eternality of Christ: Ēn archē ēn ho logos (“In [the] beginning was the Word”). The Greek verb ēn is the imperfect tense of eimi. The imperfect tense indicates a continuous action normally occurring in the past. Hence, the verb reveals that the Word did not originate at a point in time but rather in the beginning of time, the Word already existed. But then in verse 3, John utilizes the aorist egeneto.22 This verb, as opposed to imperfect ēn clearly refers to a point of time or origin, which, in this context, creation is in view: All things egeneto (“came into being”) through Him (cf. vv. 6, 10, 14). Noticeably, John strongly contrasts the verb ēn referring to the Word and egeneto referring to all created things, including John the Baptist: “There came [egeneto] a man sent from God, whose name was John” (v. 6; emphasis added).23 The same contrast is found in John 8:58. Here Jesus draws a clear distinction between His unoriginated existence as the eternal God, egō eimi (“I AM”) and the beginning of Abraham’s life (using the aorist genesthai, “to become”).

Moreover, the same contrast (created vs. eternal) is found in Psalm 90:2:

Before the mountains were born Or You gave birth to the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God (emphasis added).

Note the striking parallel between this passage above and John 8:58: Abraham “was born” (created) is contrasted with Jesus as the “I AM” (eternal). And the same in Psalm 90:2: the mountains that “were born” (created) is contrasted with God, “You are” (eternal).

In John’s prologue, egeneto is applied to “all things” created, whereas in verses 1-13 he applies the verb ēn exclusively to the Word alone. As an imperfect tense, this Greek verb destroys the LDS Jesus who became a God. It is not until verse 14 that John applies egeneto to the Word, pertaining to His incarnation: Kai ho logos sarx egeneto, “And the Word flesh became.” The always-existing Word, as John declares, “became flesh.”

Furthermore, John, in 1:1b, states: kai ho logos ēn pros ton theon, “and the Word was with the God.” John purposely uses the expressive Greek preposition pros to clearly differentiate God the Father (ton theon) from the Word ( ho logos).24 As John concludes his definitive Christological presentation, he affirms the centrality of Scripture: theos ēn ho logos (“God was the Word).” Properly, theos occupies the first word in the clause drawing emphasis on the Word’s quality as theos. Commenting on the high Christology of John 1:1, preeminent biblical scholar Benjamin B. Warfield points out:

In three crisp sentences he declares at the outset His eternal subsistence, His eternal intercommunion with God, His eternal identity with God: “In the beginning the Word was; and the Word was with God; and the Word was God” (John i. 1). . . . He was nevertheless not a separate being from God: “And the Word was”—still the eternal “was”—“God.” In some sense distinguishable from God, He was in an equally true sense identical with God. There is but one eternal God; this eternal God, the Word is; in whatever sense we may distinguish Him from the God whom He is “with,” He is yet not another than this God, but Himself is this God. . . John would have us realize that what the Word was in eternity was not merely God’s coeternal fellow, but the eternal God’s self (emphasis added).25

Concluding, John 1:1 systematically debunks the Mormon view of Christ. In his prologue, John immediately asserts grammatically and contextually that (a) the Word has always (ēn) subsisted, (b) the Word existed distinct from His Father (pros ton theon), and (c) the eternal Word was Himself God (theos ēn ho logos). Where the LDS Jesus was a non-eternal insufficient God who was a mere instrument of creation; John 1:3 presents the eternal Logos as the Agent of creation:

All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being (cf. Col. 1:16-17).

Philippians 2:5-11

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God [hos en morphē theou huparchōn] did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant [morphēn doulou] being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death-even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord [kurios Iēsous Christos] to the glory of God the Father (NIV; emphasis added).

Philippians 2:5-11 was a very early Christian hymn, worshipping Christ as God. In seven short verses the Person and finished work of Jesus Christ is clearly expressed. Paul, as in all of his Epistles, was utterly consumed in proclaiming the two-natured Person, Jesus Christ (e.g., Rom. 1:3-4; 9:5). A full treatment of Philippians 2:5-11 will not be necessary here; however, there are some grammatical aspects that incontrovertibly demonstrate the eternal preexistence of Jesus Christ as God. First, instructing the Philippians on humility, Paul gives the ultimate example of humility—Jesus Christ. Then in verse 6, Paul declares: hos en morphē theou huparchōn (“Who in nature God being [or subsisting]).” The word translated “nature” or “form” as in the NASB, is from the Greek word morphē. The meaning of morphē denotes the specific qualities or essential attributes of that something. Concerning Paul’s usage of morphē in this passage, Warfield accurately notes:

Paul does not say simply, “He was God.” He says, “He was in the form of God,” employing a turn of speech which throws emphasis upon Our Lord’s possession of the specific quality of God. “Form” is a term which expresses the sum of those characterizing qualities which make a thing the precise thing that it is. . . . And “the form of God” is the sum of the characteristics which make the being we call “God,” specifically God, rather than some other being—an angel, say, or a man. When Our Lord is said to be in “the form of God,” therefore, He is declared, in the most express manner possible, to be all that God is, to possess the whole fullness of attributes which make God God.26

That one denies that Jesus was truly the morphē of God is to deny that Jesus was truly the morphē of man as in verse 7: “taking the very nature [morphēn] of a servant.” Again, it must be stressed: Mormons agree that Jesus was a God, but disagree that He eternally existed as God. Conversely, the Apostle Paul cannot resist in establishing that Jesus Christ eternally existed as God. Further, the word translated “being” is from the Greek participle huparchōn. As a present tense participle, huparchōn clearly indicates a continuous existence or continually subsisting. Hence, Jesus did not, as the LDS claim, become a God at a certain point in time. Scripture does not allow for such; He always existed as God just as Paul explicitly indicated.

Jesus Christ: The Eternal egō eimi

In his gospel and epistles, the Apostle John clearly and cogently presented the Person and finished work of Jesus the Christ. The Jesus that John passionately preached was God the eternal Word who became flesh. In the New Testament (primarily in John’s gospel), Jesus made seven (possibly eight) “absolute”27 egō eimi (“I AM”) declarations. These would be Mark 6:50;28 John 8:24; 8:28; 8:58; 13:19; 18:5; 18:6; and 18:8.

To understand the full theological significance of the phrase egō eimi the Old Testament background must first be considered. Most commentators and well meaning Christians seize John 8:58 and then hastily connect it with Exodus 3:14. There is, though, a solid connection between Jesus’ divine claim in John 8:58 and Exodus 3:14. However, to envisage the full theological impact of Jesus’ divine declarative, egō eimi should be contextually juxtaposed with the Hebrew phrase ani hu (“I am He”). The import of the phrase egō eimi is directly connected to the Hebrew phrase ani hu. This phrase was a frequent title for Yahweh (esp. in Isa.), in which the LXX renders as egō eimi, “I AM” (e.g., Deut. 32:39; Isa. 41:4; 43:10; 46:4). Thus, the Jews understood clearly that egō eimi was a title reserved for Yahweh alone. I will expand on this point shortly.

As pointed out above, in John 8:58, egō eimi (“I AM”) is set in sharp contrast to genesthai (“was born”). Jesus drew a shining contrast between Abraham, who had a beginning (“was born”),29 and Himself, who eternally existed (“I AM”).30 Hence, Jesus distinguished Abraham’s origination with His unoriginate existence. The same contrast can be seen in the prologue of John (vv. 1-14; see above). The contrast supplied in John 8:58 (eimi vs. genesthai) clearly distinguishes Abraham’s origin and Jesus’ timeless existence.31

Egō eimi and the LXX

Unquestionably, I see Jesus’ statement of egō eimi as a pointed parallel to the LXX rendering. Consider also that the LXX was a practical corresponding translation of the Hebrew Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh. Hence, the Exodus 3:14 (LXX) to John 8:58 correlation is quite compelling. In John 8:58 Wallace positively sees Jesus drawing from the LXX:

if egw eimi is not a historical present, then Jesus is here claiming to be the one who spoke to Moses at the burning bush, the I AM, the eternally existing One, Yahweh (cf. Exod. 3:14 in the LXX, egw eimi o wn).32

Egō eimi: Eternal God

As briefly discussed, the Old Testament background plays a most vital role in accurately determining the meaning of egō eimi. The Hebrew phrase ani hu which was translated as egō eimi in the LXX was an exclusive and recurring title for Yahweh (cf. Deut. 32:39; Isa. 41:4; 43:10; 46:4). Again, Jesus claimed to be the egō eimi (“I AM”) in the absolute seven (or eight) times (cf. Mark 6:50; John 8:24; 8:28; 58; 13:19; 18:5; 6, 8). In fact, in John 13:19 Jesus’ words are identical (minus the extraneous words) with Isaiah 43:10 (LXX):

John 13:19: “that you may believe . . . that I am [hina pisteuēte . . . hoti egō eimi].”

Isaiah 43:10: “that you may . . . believe . . . that I am [pisteuēte . . . hoti egō eimi].”

In conclusion, when Jesus Christ claimed to be the egō eimi He purposefully and appropriately applied the divine name to Himself. And the Jews unequivocally knew what He meant: “Therefore they picked up stones to throw at Him. . . .” (v. 59). If He were merely claiming that He preexisted Abraham, as the JWs assert, He certainly would not have been a candidate for stoning (cf. John 10:30-33).33

Jesus definitively claimed that He was the Yahweh of the Old Testament.34 Hence, at John 8:58 most meaningful translations render egō eimi correctly as “I AM.” “Undoubtedly,” says Robertson, “here [John 8:58] Jesus claims eternal existence with the absolute phrase [i.e., egō eimi] used of God”35

The Christian church has consistently used this wonderful passage to demonstrate that Jesus was and claimed to be the eternal God. However, Mormons still do not consider Jesus’ affirmation of being the eternal God, egō eimi. In John 8:24, Jesus warned of rejecting His eternality as God:

“Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am [egō eimi] He, you will die in your sins.”

Note above that the translators italicized “He” indicating that “He” was not in the Greek text.35 According to Jesus, believing that He was the egō eimi that is, the eternal God, was a necessity for salvation; in which, as seen, was already substantiated back in Isaiah 43:10

for they all saw Him and were terrified. But immediately He spoke with them and said to them, “Take courage; it is I [egō eimi], do not be afraid” (Mark 6:50; emphasis added).36

He demonstrated His divine sovereignty over the winds, sea, and all creation. Creation itself is subject to its Creator. God is Creator whereby He creates all things that exists. Scripture presents Jesus Christ as the actual Agent of creation (cf. John. 1:3; Col. 1:16-17). Conversely, the Mormon Jesus was anything but Creator. In LDS doctrine, Elohim instructed His Son Jesus along with Michael the archangel (i.e., Adam)37 to organize (not create)38 the already existing “matter” into an earth.39 Consequently, the Mormons regard Jesus only as the leading “helper” in creation rather than the Creator. In sum, the Jews clearly understood that egō eimi was a title strictly reserved for Yahweh alone (cf. Exod. 3:14; Deut. 32:39; Isa. 41:4; 43:10; 46:4; cf. LXX). Hence, when Jesus affirmed Himself to be the absolute egō eimi eight times in the New Testament,40 He unequivocally established Himself as being the eternal God; of the same essence as that of the Father.

Conclusion
In the objective light of biblical exegesis, the LDS Christological assertions are decidedly unbiblical and utterly blasphemous. The Mormons have aggressively removed the Jesus of biblical revelation and present a repackaged non-eternal, non-Creator Christ. That Jesus was a start-up God flies directly in the face of Scripture: “Who, being in very nature God.” The eternal Word was (ēn) always with (pros) the Father, and eternally existed as God Himself (theos ēn ho logos). The Mormon Jesus, though, had to earn His own salvation by obedience to law. The LDS doctrine of Eternal Progression attacks the very Being of God Himself. The Mormons have no problem heralding their distinctive doctrinal position to the world: God the Father and Jesus Christ are merely two separate polygamous Gods in a pantheon of created Gods that were once mortal men working out their own salvation.

Joseph Smith deceived the world when he proclaimed: “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.”41 To be sure, LDS Christology is the obvious result of a distorted view of the biblical doctrine of the Trinity (i.e., a tritheistic view), as McConkie put it, “these three are the only Gods we worship.”42 When the Tri-Unity of God is misrepresented in any way, shape, or form, the second Person of the Trinity is de facto perverted. By denying the biblical Christ, the Mormons are disqualified from true salvation. “Whoever denies the Son,” the Apostle John teaches, “does not have the Father” (1 John 2:23). Sadly, LDS Christology hides salvation from its devotees. Notwithstanding the overuse of smooth “Christian lingo,” the LDS Church embraces a Jesus disconnected from Scripture. In this fashion, the Mormons enjoy announcing to potential proselytes that their Church “bears the name of Jesus Christ.” In the introduction to his voluminous book Jesus the Christ, LDS Apostle James E. Talmage stated:

The solemn testimonies of millions dead and of millions living unite in proclaiming Him as divine, the Son of the Living God, the Redeemer and Savior of the human race, the Eternal Judge of the souls of men, the Chosen and Anointed of the Father—in short, the Christ43.

At first glance, the above statement sounds very Christian. However, LDS leaders define these so-called Christian terms only in light of their own theology—hence, pouring LDS meanings into the terms. The sacred name of Jesus Christ does not mean anything unless it is the Jesus of biblical revelation. In anticipation of the “different” Christ, the Apostle Paul gave this sober warning:

But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him. . . . For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore, it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works (2 Cor. 11:3-4, 13-15; KJV).

Paul said he was afraid that the church might be deceived by “another” (allon) Jesus. The Mormons can proclaim “Jesus Christ” in every LDS publication, scripture, and advertisement, while at the same time openly reject Him as eternal God, in the face of Scripture.

NOTES

1 The Mormons propose a complex and awkward meaning to the term “eternal.” In LDS theology, “matter” or intelligence has always existed. Tenth LDS President Joseph Fielding Smith explains: “The intelligent part of man was never created but always existed” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation: Sermons and Writings of Joseph Fielding Smith, comp. Bruce McConkie, 3 vols. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954], 1:12). Hence, in that sense, Mormons can say that God and man are eternal. Thus, Mormons do not believe that God was always God, only that His “matter” or “intelligence” has eternally existed.

2 Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed., rev. (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966), 547.

3 LDS General Authorities include: The First Presidency (i.e., The LDS President and his two Counselors), Council of Twelve (i.e., the so-called Twelve Apostles), the Patriarch to the Church, Assistants to the Twelve, First Council of the Seventy, and Presiding Bishopric. Therefore, only the LDS General Authorities determine what and what is not LDS doctrine.

4 The full force of Jesus’ assertion is striking: ean gar mē pisteusēte hoti egō eimi, apothaneisthe en tais hamartiais humōn (“For if you shall believe not that I AM [egō eimi] you will die in the sins of you”). Hence, “I AM” (egō eimi) and not “I am He” is the literal rendering. Jesus clearly asserts here that salvation rests on believing that He is the eternal God.

5 Joseph Fielding Smith, ed., Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1976), 345-47.

6 James E. Talmage, Jesus the Christ: A Study of the Messiah and His Mission According to the Holy Scriptures both Ancient and Modern, 33rd ed. (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1973), 32.

7 McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 576-77.

8 “Originated” in the sense that “eternal intelligence” or “eternal matter” was merely “organized,” thus not actually created by God. In Smith’s mind: “God never had the power to create. . . . ” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 354).

9 Parley P. Pratt, Key to the Science of Theology, 10th ed. (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1948), 33.

10 McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 281.

11 Bruce R. McConkie, The Promised Messiah (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1978), 165. Note, Mormons use the terms “firstborn” and “begotten” to show that (a) Jesus was the first spirit child, and (b) that He was sexually procreated by His Father and the Virgin Mary (see pp. 2-3 above). However, unfamiliarity with biblical languages causes LDS teachers to misdefine and confuse the Greek word monogenēs, “begotten” (cf. John 1:18; 3:16) and prōtotokos, “firstborn” (cf. Col. 1:15). In that they conjured up the idea that Lucifer, being the “second born,” was Jesus’ literal spiritual brother. Of course, what quickly demolishes their argument is that Scripture teaches that Jesus created ta panta, “all things” (cf. John 1:3; Col. 1:16-17; 1 Cor. 8:6), whereas Satan was a created angel (cf. Ezek. 28:13).

12 “Mortality” in LDS vocabulary simply means possessing a physical body for this life and after.

13 This reference is not contained in the authentic writings of the Apostle John it is only found in the LDS standard work: Doctrine and Covenants (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1961), 93:6-16. Mormons are enamored with the practice of interpolating their own theology into the mouths of the biblical authors.

14 Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 1:32.

15 Ibid., 33.

16 Ontology is the study of “nature” or “being.” Thus, ontological monotheism, meaning that there is one true God by nature. Mormons believe that there are countless true Gods by nature, clashingly contradicting the words of the Apostle Paul: “However at that time, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those which by nature are no gods” (Gal. 4:8).

17 E.g., Matthew 28:19; Luke 1:35; 10:21; Romans 15:16; 2 Corinthians 13:14; Ephesians 2:18; 4:4-6; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; Titus 3:5-7; 1 Peter 1:2-3. Furthermore, the many passages which clearly reveal the Father and the Son having intimate loving fellowship before time strongly substantiates the doctrine of the Trinity (e.g., John. 1:1; 17:5).

18 E.g., Doctrine and of Covenants, official LDS publications, and statements from LDS General Authorities.

19 E.g., John 1:1; 18; 8:58; 20:28; Romans 9:5; Philippians 2:6-11; Colossians 2:9; Titus 2:13; 2 Peter 1:1; Hebrews 1:3, 8, 10; and Revelation 1:8.

20 Clement of Alexandria Fragments of Clemens Alexandrinus, ed. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson in The Ante-Nicene Fathers: Translations of the Writings of the Fathers down to A.D. 325, vol. 2 (1885-1887, reprint, Peabody: Hendrickson, 1994), 574.

21 Tertullian Against Praxeas 15, in The Ante-Nicene Fathers, 3:610.

22 Egeneto is the aorist indicative form of ginomai. The aorist tense indicates an undefined action normally occurring in the past. Reformed theologian James R. White comments on the aorist egeneto:

The main emphasis of an aorist verb is undefined aspect, normally resulting in punctiliar action in the past. Such a verb points to a particular point of origin when used in the context of creation (James R. White, The Forgotten Trinity, Recovering the Heart of Christian Belief [Minneapolis: Bethany House, 1998], 198).

23 Egeneto anthropos, apestalmenos para theou, onoma autō Iōannēs.

24 The Apostle John deliberately used the preposition pros (“facing,” “toward”) with the accusative. It should be well noted that in the New Testament the predominate usage of pros denotes an intimate relationship between distinct persons (e.g., 1 Cor. 13:12: “for we shall see face to [pros] face”). Further, pros denotes the special relationship that Christians will experience with the Lord: “to be . . . at home with [pros] the Lord” (2 Cor. 5:8). In Romans 5:1, Paul teaches that since the believer has been justified (dikaiōthentes) by faith alone, they now presently have (echomen) peace “with the God” (pros ton theon).

25 Benjamin B. Warfield, Biblical Doctrines (Carlisle: The Banner of Truth, 1988), 191-92.

26 Warfield, Biblical Doctrines, 177.

27 “Absolute” meaning that the phrase egō eimi (“I AM”) comes at the end of the clause without supplying a predicate (cf. Archibald T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament [Nashville: Broadman Press, 1933], 5:146).

28 Some do not see Mark 6:50 (cf. John 6:20) as an absolute egō eimi statement (e.g., James R. White, The Forgotten Trinity, Recovering the Heart of Christian Belief [Minneapolis: Bethany, 1998], 209); D. A. Carson, “‘I AM’ Sayings” in Evangelical Dictionary of Theology [Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1984], 541). However others such as Protestant theologian Robert Reymond see it as a potential “I am usage” (although he cites the parallel passage in John 6:20; cf. Robert L. Reymond, A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith [Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1998], 231).

29 The verb genesthai is the aorist middle infinitive of ginomai. This verb clearly denotes origin (i.e., Abraham’s): “To come into being through the process of birth or natural production, be born, be produced” (Walter Bauer, A Greek English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 3rd ed., rev. and ed. Frederick W. Danker [Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000], 197).

30 The verb eimi is a present active indicative denoting an ongoing action with no indication of origin.

31 Robertson sees the grammatical contrast in both John 1:1 and 8:58:

[John 1:1a] Was (ēn). Three times in this sentence John uses this imperfect of eimi to be which conveys no idea of origin for God or for the Logos, simply continuous existence. . . . See the distinction sharply drawn in 8:58 “before Abraham came (genesthai) I am” (eimi, timeless existence) (Robertson, Word Pictures, 5:3).

32 Daniel B. Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics: An Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament, with Scripture, Subject, and Greek Word Indexes (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996), 531.

33 According to Hebrew Law there were five reasons in which stoning would have been legal: familiar spirits (cf. Lev. 20:27); blasphemy (cf. Lev. 24:10-23); false prophets (Deut. 13:5-10; 18:20); a stubborn and rebellious adult son (cf. Deut. 21:18-22); and lastly, adultery and rape (cf. Deut. 22:21-24).

34 The NT authors clearly envisaged Jesus Christ as the Yahweh of the OT. Hence, they often cited OT passages referring to Yahweh and applied them to Christ (e.g., Ps. 45:6-7 with Heb. 1:8-9; Ps. 102:25-27 with Heb. 1:10-12; Isa. 6:1, 10 with John 12:40-41; Isa. 8:12-13 with 1 Pet. 3:14-15; Isa. 43:10 with John 8:24 and 13:19; Isa. 45:23 with Phil. 2:10; Joel 2:32 with Rom. 10:13).
35 Robertson, Word Pictures, 5:158-59.

35 Greek: ean gar mē pisteusēte hoti egō eimi apothaneisthe en tais hamartiais humōn, . Lit. “For if you should believe not that I am [egō eimi], you will die in the sins of you.” His audience did not miss the clear and cogent way Jesus communicated His eternality as God: “Therefore they picked up stones to throw at Him. . . .” (John 8:59; cf. 10:31-33).

36 Greek: pantes gar auton eidan kai etarachthēsan ho de euthus elalēsen met’ autōn , kai legei autois tharseite egō eimi mē phobeisthe.

37 Cf. Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 157.

38 Cf. Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 1:74-75; McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 169.

39 In the three volume set, Doctrines of Salvation, tenth LDS President Joseph Fielding Smith explains Jesus’ role in creation:

CHRIST CREATED MANY WORLDS. Under the direction of his Father, Jesus Christ created this earth. No doubt others helped him. . . . It is true Adam helped to form this earth. He labored with our Savior Jesus Christ. I have a strong view or conviction that there were others also who assisted them. Perhaps Noah and

Enoch; and why not Joseph Smith, and those who were appointed to be rulers before the earth was formed? (1:74-75; Smith’s emphasis).

40 Cf. Mark; 6:50; John 8:24, 28, 58; 13:19; 18:5, 6, 8.

41 Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 345.

42 McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 576-77.

43 James E. Talmage, Jesus the Christ: A Study of the Messiah and His Mission According to the Holy Scriptures both Ancient and Modern. 33rd ed. (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1973).

If you have dialogued with Mormon missionaries, you have, no doubt, been frustrated to find that Mormons constantly use Christian vocabulary and unfamiliar LDS terms to propagate the teachings of their church. Along with Jehovah’s Witnesses, Christian Science, and most non-Christian cults the Mormons will declare: “Jesus is my Lord and Savior,” “There is only one eternal God,” “I am a true Christian,” “Jesus died for me and I am saved by grace,” and other terms that sound absolutely Christian. Furthermore, there are many distinct LDS doctrinal terms that Mormons will employ as well.

Therefore, it is important for Christians to be familiar with these distinct LDS terms, as well as being able to define Christian terms that Mormons utilized in dialogue. When the Mormon say: “I am saved by grace,” what do they mean by that? Or when they say: “I believe in the Trinity,” what does that mean to them? If you do not define the meanings that are poured into words, you will agree to the terms without understanding what is really being stated.

Below is a list to some important distinct LDS doctrinal terms along with common Christian terms. The terms will be defined by LDS teaching and understanding. Hence, when Mormon missionaries use these terms you will have a better understanding to what they actually mean.

Aaronic Priesthood: The lesser of the two LDS priesthoods (see below: Melchizedek Priesthood). To be ordained to this office of Priesthood the worthy male (women are excluded) must be 12 years of age. There are three offices within this Priesthood: age 12, Deacon; age 14, Teacher; age 16, Priest. The function of the Aaronic Priesthood is the ministry of temporal needs of the church (e.g., collect the fast offerings on the first Sunday of each month; perform baptisms; assist in home teachings etc.).

Adam: The first of the human family on earth. The Ancient of Days, and is also known as Michael the archangel.

Adam-God Doctrine: Second President of the Church, Brigham Young taught that Adam was God the Father, “the only God with whom we have to do.” This doctrine was taught and preached by Young, for over twenty years. In 1852 Young stated:

When our Father Adam came into the Garden of Eden, he came into it with a celestial body, and brought Eve, one of his wives, with him. He helped to make and organize this world. He is MICHAEL the Arch-angel, the ANCIENT of DAYS!. . . . He is our FATHER and our GOD and the only God with whom we have to do (Journal of Discourses, 1:50, 1852; emphasis theirs)

Young was always consistent with this teaching. Twenty-one years after his statements in Journal of Discourses, in an article in the Deseret News, he confirmed this teaching to his Mormon devotes:

How much unbelief exists in the minds of the Latter-day Saints in regard to one particular doctrine which I revealed to them, and which God revealed unto me- namely that Adam is our Father and our God. . . . (Deseret News, June 18, 1873).

If anyone wishes to assert that this teaching was not official but rather the mere speculation of LDS Prophet, Brigham Young, notice this statement where Young refutes that idea:

I have never yet preached a sermon [as in Journal of Discourses] and sent it out to the children of men that they may not call Scripture. . . . (Journal of Discourses, 13:95; emphasis added).

Adoption: When one becomes a Mormon their blood physically changes to Jewish blood. Bruce R. McConkie explains:

By the law of adoption those who receive the gospel and obey its laws, no matter what their literal blood lineage may have been, are adopted into the lineage of Abraham. . . . to purge out the old blood, and make him actually of the seed of Abraham (Mormon Doctrine, 23 )

That this adoption involves a literal change in the convert’s blood was plainly taught by the Prophet (ibid., p. 390).

Angel: The spirit children of Father God and Mother(s) God in pre-existence.

Apostle: A person called to be a special witness for Christ. The LDS apostles are “apostles” in a most literal sense as with the New Testament apostles.

Baptism: Provides remission of sins; membership in the LDS Church; is the gate that leads to the celestial kingdom (i.e., the third and highest heaven; see: Heaven); personal sanctification. May only be performed by legal administrators of the LDS Church.

Baptism for the Dead: Baptism performed by a living person for someone that is dead. The purpose of this ordinance is to enable a person who died with out the LDS gospel to become a member of the LDS Church. Since one cannot be a member without being baptized in the LDS temple while they were still alive, a living person may be baptized in substitution.

In the spirit world, (see Spirit World) there are Mormon missionaries that preach the LDS gospel to those that died as a non-members (they are in spirit prison; see Hell). If a person should accept the LDS gospel, they can become members (assuming a living person was baptized for them). Then, after becoming a member can progress to a higher level of heaven (see Heaven).

Bible: “We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God” (Pearl of Great Faith: eighth Article of Faith). The only recognized Bible is the King James Version. The Bible has been corrupted by the hands of men.

Blacks: Less valiant fighters in their pre-existent life, hence God cursed them with black skin. They were also cursed as to the Priesthood until 1978. Joseph Smith stated:

Had I anything to do with the negro, I would confine them by strict law to their own species, and put them on a national equalization (Joseph Fielding Smith, ed., Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 270; History of the Church, 5:218; emphasis added)

Brigham Young second President and Prophet states:

You see some classes of the human family that are black, uncouth, uncomely, disagreeable and low in their habits, wild and seemingly deprived of nearly all the blessings of the intelligence that is generally bestowed upon mankind… the Lord put a mark upon him, which was the flat nose and black skin. (Journal of Discourses, 7:290; emphasis added).

Young further states:

Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the African race? If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot. This will always be (ibid., 10:110; emphasis added). See The LDS Church and Black Skin.

Blood Atonement: Spilling your own blood for remission of the sins which are so vial that the blood of Jesus Christ cannot cover them. Brigham Young explains:

There is not a man or woman who violates covenants made with their God that will not be required to pay the dept. The blood of Christ will never wipe that out. Your own blood must atone for it, the judgments of the Almighty will come sooner or later, and every man and women will have to atone for breaking covenants (Journal of Discourses, 3:247).

Born Again: When a person becomes a member of the LDS Church and continues to be faithful.

Burning in the Bosom: Confirmation of truth, allegedly by the power of the Holy Ghost (cf. Moroni 10:4-5).

Christian: Mormons only (cf. Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 132).

Church of the Devil: All non-LDS churches (cf. 1 Nephi 14:10).

Church of the Lamb of God: The LDS Church (ibid.).

Create: To organize elements that already exist into new form. In LDS theology, God does not create out of nothing he only forms and organizes eternal matter that has always existed. Joseph Smith said:

I might with boldness proclaim from the house-tops that God never had the power to create the spirit of man at all (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 354).

Elohim: The personal name for God the Father.

Eternal (God): All matter and intelligences are eternal, thus, man and God, in that way, are said to be “eternal.” God has not always been God, only that his intelligence has always existed (cf. Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salivation, 12; Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 352-54).

Eternal Progression: The process of going from: Pre-existence to being mortal on earth, to exaltation (i.e., becoming a God) (cf. Mormon Doctrine, 238-39).

Exaltation: Becoming a God. Exaltation is synonymous with “eternal life” and “true salvation.”

Gabriel: Noah (cf. Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 157).

Fall of Adam: The change to mortality when Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. The fall, Mormons say, was s good thing. If Adam and Eve had not transgressed, they would not have had the capacity to have children.

Gentile: A non-member of the LDS Church.

General Authorities: Leaders of the LDS Church: The First Presidency, Council of the Twelve (apostles), the Patriarch to the Church, Assistants to the Twelve, First Council of the Seventy, and the Presiding Bishopric.

Godhead: Three separate Gods: God the Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost. They are one in purpose and unity only, not one in nature (ontologically). Joseph Smith explains:

I will preach on the plurality of Gods . . . I have always and in all congregations when I have preached on the subject of Deity, it has been the plurality of Gods. . . . Jesus Christ a separate and distinct personage from God the Father, and that 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, 370; emphasis added).

God the Father: An exalted man with a body of flesh and bones as well as sexual desires. He is the head God for this world. He was once a mortal man that became a God by obedience to law. He has a Father over him, that Father has a Father, and that Father has a Father, etc., hence an infinite regression of the Gods. He was married to his own daughter, the Virgin Mary, whereby sexual relations, begot Jesus.

Heaven: Three levels: celestial the highest; the terrestrial the middle and the telestial being the lowest of the three.

Hell: The temporary holding place where all the wicked will be tormented. Then after their resurrection, the majority will go on to the telestial heaven (the lowest level). Hell will have an end. Mormons refer to hell as “eternal” only in the sense that the temporary punishment is from an eternal God. But the Devil, his angels, and the sons of perdition will be tormented in “outer darkness” forever. (cf. Mormon Doctrine, 349-50, 746).

Holy Ghost: One of the three Gods in the Godhead. Does not have a body of flesh and bones.

Jehovah: Or “LORD.” The identity of Jesus Christ in the Old Testament.

Jesus Christ: One of the three Gods in the Godhead. He is the “LORD” or “Jehovah” of the Old Testament. His Atonement provided immortality (only) for all men. Hence, men have the opportunity to work for their salvation.

Jesus was the literal Son of Elohim (by sexual relations with the Virgin Mary). That is why Jesus is called: “Only Begotten Son in the Flesh.” (Mormon Doctrine, 546-47, 742).

Jesus was a polygamist, married to Mary, Martha, and the other Mary. Along with his Father, he also was once a mere man that sinned and was in need of redemption. He had to earn his salvation by obedience to law.

Kolob (the planet): The star nearest to the throne of God the Father (Elohim) (cf. Pearl of Great Price: Abraham, 3:2-3, 9).

Lucifer: One of Elohim’s spirit children. He is Jesus’ spirit brother. He was a good angel but rebelled and was expelled from Heaven, taking a third of the spirit children with him.

Melchizedek Priesthood: The higher of the two LDS priesthoods. Without this Priesthood, exaltation (i.e., becoming a God) cannot be attained nor can any male enter into the LDS temple (except worthy Priest of the Aaronic Priesthood may enter, only to perform Baptisms). The worthy candidate (only white males until 1978) must be 18 years of age and hold the Aaronic Priesthood. The offices of the Melchizedek Priesthood include: Elder, Seventy, and High Priest. This Priesthood was conferred on Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery in June, 1829 by the Apostle Peter, James and John.

Moroni: Son of the Book of Mormon character, Mormon. In 1823, the angel Moroni appeared to Smith and delivered the records (i.e., gold plates) of ancient America (600 B.C. to A.D. 421) to him. Smith translated the gold plates in 1827 and thus in 1830 the Book of Mormon emerged.

One God: There is only one God, for this world. Other Gods in other worlds have nothing to do with us in this world. Only the God for this world is to be worshipped and prayed to.

Only Begotten Son in the Flesh: Jesus Christ is called “Only Begotten in the flesh” because he was the only one (firstborn) of Elohim’s spirit children that was begotten (by sexual relations) both in the spirit and in the flesh. God the Father had sexual relations with the Virgin Mary to procreate Jesus’ physical body. Second LDS President, Brigham Young declares:

and when he took a tabernacle [body], it was begotten by his Father in heaven, after the same manner as the tabernacles of Cain, Abel and the rest of the sons and daughters of Adam and Eve. . . . (Journal of Discourses, 1:50; emphasis added).

The birth of the Savior was as 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 fathers. . . . (ibid., 8:115; see my article The Paternity of Jesus Christ).

Outer Darkness: The final dwelling place for the Devil, his angels, and the sons of perdition (see Hell).

Plain and Precious things: The many truths that were deleted from the original Bible.

Pre-Existence: The pre-mortal existence of mankind, as spirit children of God the Father. This is, before they come to earth. No one remembers his or her pre-existence life, also referred to as the “first estate.”

Prophet: One who speaks for God. The President of the LDS Church is God’s Prophet on earth. As with the Old Testament prophets, the LDS President is a Prophet in a technical and literal sense.

Salvation: “There is no salvation outside The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” (Mormon Doctrine, 670). “Salvation” in its truest sense is exaltation, which is, becoming a God. True salvation, is synonymous with exaltation and eternal life. There are two types of salvation:

1, General salvation: Because of the Atonement of Christ, all men will be resurrected to immortality and will dwell in one of the three levels of heaven (except the “sons of perdition”).

2, Individual salvation: Where men have the opportunity to work for their salvation and progress to Godhood (exaltation). This type of salvation is what Jesus and the apostles preached about. This “true” salvation can only be attained by meritorious works. The Book of Mormon is clear:

for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do (2 Nephi 25:23; emphasis added).

LDS Apostle Bruce R. McConkie informs the Mormon people that:

Salvation in the celestial kingdom of God, however, is not salvation by grace alone. Rather, it is salvation by grace coupled with obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel (Mormon Doctrine, 671).

Saved by Grace: Because of the grace of Jesus Christ, all men will be resurrected to immortality. Immortality comes by grace alone. Therefore, we are saved (general salvation) by grace.

Sealings: Those ordinances performed in the LDS temple whereby husbands and wives are sealed together in the marriage union for time and eternity. To become a God the man has to be married and sealed in the LDS Temple–hence, there are no single Gods.

Scripture (God’s Word): The Standard Works of the LDS Church (see Standard Works). Scripture is also the spoken word by the men of God, when moved by the Holy Ghost, which would include the President and the General Authorities of the LDS Church.

Standard Works: The Book of Mormon; Doctrine and Covenants; Pearl of Great Price; and the KJV Bible, as far as it is translated correctly.

Spirit World: The abiding place of disembodied spirits that await the day of their resurrection. This world is divided into two parts: Paradise for the righteous (faithful Mormons) and Hell (“spirit prison”) which is the temporary abode of the wicked (see Hell).

Trinity: Three separate Gods. These three Gods are: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost. They are one in purpose and unity. But they are not one in nature (see Godhead).

Zion: The city of New Jerusalem, to be built in Jackson County, Missouri, is to be called Zion.