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 (chap. 2) and Abraham (chap. 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 chap. 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 (the Father, and Holy Spirit) 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 in the Book of Mormon

Clearly, Joseph Smith did not understand the difference between the doctrine of the Trinity and the teachings of Modalism. Modalism (also referred to as Oneness theology) was the second century heresy that asserted that God is unitarian (unipersonal), that is, God existing as one person that reveals himself in different modes, manifestations or dimensions, rejecting the Trinity.

In other words, in Oneness thinking, since God is one, and Jesus is called God, Jesus then is the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit—not three persons, rather three manifestations or modes. Oneness doctrine teaches then that the unipersonal God (named 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.

For more details on Oneness see: Oneness Theology. 

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.

 

Mosiah 15. 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. . . .” Then, starting at verse 1 through verse 5, note the heighted areas:

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).

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

 

Ether 3:14: “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. . . .”

Alma 11:38-39: “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.”

Amazingly, a mere five verses later (11:44), we find a contradictive implication of 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. . . .”

 2 Nephi 31:21: “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.”

Further, 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, the true God of biblical revelation is the triune God and thus, a denial of the nature of God is a denial of Christ and His gospel (cf. Isa. 43:10; Hosea 6:6; John 8:24, 58; 5:24; 17:3; 1 John 5:20).

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, claiming 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 Church International (UPCI) being the largest. See my article on Oneness Pentecostalism.

 

DCD (c) copyright 2020

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 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.

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.

A primary evaluation of the LDS doctrine of salvation can not be fully concluded without the mention of the horrible LDS doctrine of “Blood Atonement.” It is necessary to address this extraordinarily shocking doctrine. In point of fact, LDS leaders (General Authorities) have taught that there are some sins that are so grievous that the blood of Christ cannot atone for them, hence, they (the men and women that commit these certain sins) would have to spill their own blood.

In other words, LDS leaders would actually teach that the people whom commit certain sins would have to be killed to atone for their sins. LDS leaders now suppress this notoriously anti-Christian doctrine, however, historically, this was taught and practiced. It is a matter of record.

Despite God’s commandment not to murder and the many clear verses in Scripture that teach: Jesus forgives ALL SINS, 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).

Young goes on to say:

Suppose he is overtaken in a gross fault, that he has committed a sin that he knows that will deprive him of exaltation which he desires, and that he cannot attain to it without the shedding of his blood, and also knows that by having his blood shed he will atone for that sin and be saved and exalted with the Gods. . . . (Journal of Discourses, 4:219).

Keep in mind Brigham Young was the second President and Prophet of the Mormon Church the successor of Joseph Smith, hence Mormons will concede that the teachings of Young were Scripture. Present day LDS leaders however, converge their efforts to expunge this outrageous doctrine. But the documentation is overwhelming and is a matter of record. Concurring with Young, Joseph Fielding Smith, tenth President and Prophet of the Mormon Church, tells us:

Joseph Smith taught that there were certain sins so grievous that man may commit, that will place the transgressors beyond the power of the atonement of the power of Christ. If these offences are committed, then the blood of Christ will not cleanse them from their sins even though they repent. Therefore their only hope is to have their own blood shed to atone, as far possible, in their behalf” (Doctrines of Salvation, 1:133-38)

To say that there are some sins that Jesus could not atone for is notably blasphemous and sharply undermines the clear teaching in Scripture. The Apostle John unequivocally states:

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9; emphasis added).

The Apostle Paul reminds us:

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures. . . . (1 Cor. 15:3; NASB)

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace (Eph. 1:7; ibid.; cf. Col. 1:14)

In the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in His sight (Col. 1:22).

Jesus forgives ALL SINS. There is no distinction of kinds or types of sins. He forgives all. Because of one sacrifice (death on the cross) Christians are presently and completely perfect in God’s sight:

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).

Christ hath perfected them forever.

The LDS system of salvation affirms that baptism is essential for true salvation. Mormons equate baptism, into their church with being “born again.” Bruce R. McConkie stresses the importance of baptism saying:

The second birth begins when men are baptized in water by a legal administrator. . . . (Mormon Doctrine, 101).

Strangely enough, Mormons tell us that at the moment of baptism their blood literally changes into Jewish blood.1 LDS Apostle and teacher, Bruce R. McConkie explains:

But if someone whose blood was wholly of Gentile lineage were converted, he would be adopted into the lineage of Abraham and Jacob and become the house of Israel. (Abraham 2:9-11.) That this action involves a literal change in the convert’s blood was plainly taught by the Prophet [Joseph Smith] . . . “while the effect of the Holy Ghost upon a Gentile, is to purge out the old blood, and make him actually of the seed of Abraham. . . .” (Teachings, 149-150) (Mormon Doctrine, 390; emphasis added)

Nevertheless, in LDS theology baptism is essential for salvation.

LDS Proof texts

All groups that teach baptismal regeneration use generally the same passages to try to prove that water baptism is necessary for salvation: Mark 16:16; John 3:5; Acts 2:38; 22:16; and 1 Peter 3:19ff. By asserting that water baptism, or any external deed, is necessary to receive justification, the LDS Church places its members in a state, as the Apostle Paul warns, of anathema (i.e., Divine condemnation; see Gal. 1:6ff.).

To respond to exegetically to the assertion of baptismal regeneration, please go here: International Church of Christ.

Salvation is by Grace Alone through Faith Alone

John 5:24; 6:47 Acts 10:43; 16:31 Romans 4:4; 5:1 Ephesians 2:8 Titus 3:5 Heb. 10:14.

At least 60 times in the New Testament is salvation explicitly tied with repentance or faith but never with baptism.

The LDS Teaching of Baptism for the Dead: 1 Corinthians 15:15:29.

Besides the fact that the LDS doctrine of baptism for the dead is non existent in church history, the entire chapter of 1 Corinthians 15, Paul uses first person plural (i.e., “our,” “us,” “we”) to refer to Christians but when he gets to verse 29, he then switches using second person (“they”). Hence, he does not include himself or the Corinthian church with this practice (v. 29: “what will they do” Not: “what will we do”). Most likely, that the pagans of the day were practicing baptism for the dead, but even so, it still was not with synonymous with the LDS way of thinking.

Judgment is at DEATH: Matthew 25:46; John 3:36; Hebrews 9:27; Revelation 14:9-11; 20:10, 15.

Notes

1, Cf. Joseph Smith, History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Salt Lake City, Utah: Dessert Book Company, 1973) 3: 380; Journal of Discourses, 2:268-69

2, Much evidence exist demonstrating that the ending of Mark (16:9-20) is spurious.

Concerning the canonical objections of the long ending of Mark 16:9-20:

External Evidence:

1. The reading (vv. 9-20) that appears in the majority of manuscripts is not found in the earliest manuscripts (e.g., codex Vaticanus, codex Sinaiticus, codex Bezae, codex Regius, codex Sangallensis, etc.; also Jerome was aware of manuscripts that did not contain it).

2. A number of manuscripts that do include it have critical marks (e.g., asterisks) indicating that the scribe knew of its spurious nature.

3. There are at least four different endings of Mark that exist (e.g., a longer ending than that of the majority rendering appears in codex W).

Internal Evidence:

1. In Scripture, water baptism is never so closely woven together with salvation.

2. There are several non-Markan words.

3. There is a numerical problem: “Afterward He appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at the table. . . .” (v. 14). But was not Thomas absent?

4. Compared to the other post-resurrection events reported in Matthew, Luke, and John we find peculiarities in verses 9-20, e.g., Jesus as appearing in a different form (v. 12); Jesus rebukes His disciples for their unbelief, which was completely out of character (v. 14).

Therefore in light of the compelling evidence above it is highly unlikely that the ending of Mark that appears in the majority of manuscripts (but not he earliest) was contained in the original

In Mormon theology Jesus is not the eternal God second Person of a Triune Being but rather He is “a God,” one of the Gods in the Godhead (for this world). Of course, this teaching: more than one true God, is polytheism to be sure, and hence anti-biblical (cf. Duet. 4:35; 6:4; Isa. 43:10; 44:6, 8).

It should be noted that in LDS theology, to become a “God” the worthy male (NOT females) must first live as a “mortal” on earth and pass through the same ordeals and testing of his second estate on earth, the same as all the Gods have done before him (including the God the Father and Jesus). The first estate for humans was in Heaven as “spirit children” of Elohim (God the Father) and one of His wives). Also, to become a God, Mormons tell us that the worthy male must be married (i.e., sealed for eternity). What is problematic for the Mormon to explain though, is that according to LDS doctrine, Jesus was a God before He came to earth.1 How was Jesus able to beat the LDS system?

Was is true, Mormon missionaries know to carefully avoid their churches teaching that Jesus was a polygamous. He was married to Mary, Martha, and the other Mary. Moreover, Mormons say that Jesus had children by them as well. I will quote from only the General Authorities of the LDS Church whereby removing myself from mere opinion and speculation.

LDS Apostle, Orson Hyde:

Jesus was the bridegroom at the marriage of Cana of Galilee…We say it was Jesus Christ who was married, to be brought into relation whereby he could see his seed [children] before he was crucified (Journal of Discourses, 2:82; emphasis added)

There was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and on a careful reading of that transaction, it will be discovered that non less a person that Jesus Christ was married on that occasion. If he was never married, his intimacy with Mary and Martha an the other Mary also whom Jesus loved, must have been highly unbecoming and improper to say the best of it (Journal of Discourses, 4:259; emphasis added)

LDS Apostle, (and to become the LDS President) Wilford Woodruff:

In the Church councils, it was spoken of: “Joseph F. Smith. . . . He spoke upon the marriage in Cana of Galilee. He thought Jesus was the bridegroom and Mary and Martha the brides (Journal of Wilford Woodruff, July 22, 1883)

LDS Apostle, Jedediah Grant:

The grand reason of the burst of public sentiment in anathemas upon Christ and his disciples, causing his crucifixion, was evidently based upon polygamy, according to the testimony of the philosophers who rose in that age. A belief in doctrine of a plurality of wives caused the persecution of Jesus and his followers. We might almost think they were Mormons (Journal of Discourses, 1:346; emphasis added)

LDS Apostle, (and prolific writer on LDS doctrine) Orson Pratt:

One thing is certain, that there were several holy women that great loved Jesus, such as Mary and Martha her sister, and Mary Magdalene; and Jesus greatly loved them and associated with the much; and when he arose from the dead, instead of first showing himself to his chosen witnesses, the Apostles, He appeared first to these women, or at least to one of them–namely, Mary Magdalene. Now, it would be very natural for a husband in the resurrection to appear first to his own dear wives, and afterwards show himself to his other friends. If all the acts of Jesus were written, we no doubt should learn that these beloved women were his wives (The Seer, 159).

There are many more quotations that can be cited made by the General Authorities of the LDS Church. Mormons cry out: “We do believe in Jesus.” But is this the Jesus of Scripture?

Biblical Teaching

The twisting of the text is practiced regularly by Mormons. The LDS stands alone in these gratuitous interpretations. The simple fact of the matter is that Scripture as well as Church history provides no support for this absurd teaching; it is the sole product of Mormon mythology. The plain reading of the text can quickly dismantle these Mormon assertions.

If Mormons would take some time to actually read the passages that deals with wedding at Cana (John 2:1-11) then they would see clearly that in verse 2: Jesus and His disciples were invited as guest to the wedding, not His own:

“On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding” (John 1, 2; NIV; emphasis added)

As with other distinctive LDS teachings concerning Jesus, the idea that Jesus was a polygamist is no where to be found in Scripture. Mormons would do well to rely on the Bible rather than the LDS teachers, since the Bible was the oldest revelation?

Notes

1, Cf. Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 392. In LDS theology Jesus was the “Jehovah” (i.e., LORD) of the Old Testament. See the Mormons KJV, sold in the Mormon book stores, under the title Jehovah we read:

Jehovah is the premortal Jesus Christ and came to earth being born of Mary. . . .

Also see, Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 1:27.