Misunderstanding Mormonism

The bishop of the Howell [Michigan] ward of the LDS Church, Mark Briscoe, recently told a journalist that it’s painful to him when others think Mormonism isn’t a Christian religion. He identifies this notion as the “greatest misconception about the [Mormon] church.” On April 26th LivingstonDaily.com reported:

“Sometimes people would say that we’re not Christians,” [Mr. Briscoe] said. “We definitely are. We believe in Jesus Christ.”An Idaho native, Briscoe has been a Mormon his whole life, and said it is painful to have others think that his church is somehow outside the boundaries of Christianity. He said he was a high school student when he first heard the accusation.

“It was a little bit unsettling,” he said. “From my earliest memories, we talked about Jesus Christ.”

This is nothing new, of course, and if you’ve been reading Mormon Coffee for awhile you will have read my thoughts on this topic before. I keep bringing it up because I’m ever hopeful that Latter-day Saints might “get it” if they are encouraged periodically to think the issue through.

Setting aside the specific definition of “Christianity,” which Evangelicals and Mormons may disagree on until the cows come home, just think about the implications in the next part of the article:

In fact, members of the church believe that Jesus’ teachings were changed and weakened soon after the apostles died, and that this “apostasy,” or falling away from the truth, led to the withdrawal of the true church from the earth.Mormons believe that was reversed when Joseph Smith, regarded as a prophet, was visited by God and Jesus in a vision in 1820. That’s when Smith was chosen to restore the true church to the world, according to LDS doctrine. Smith translated the Book of Mormon, the sacred text of the Latter Day Saints[sic], which is based on the Bible.

The Mormons’ refer to this process as the “restoration.”

This is the LDS message. The true teachings of Jesus were changed. His followers abandoned the true faith. The true church that Jesus instituted was withdrawn from the earth, leaving behind nothing but a counterfeit. This false church — false Christianity — reigned unchallenged for nearly two thousand years until Joseph Smith restored the true church — the LDS Church — to the earth once again.

Now, what does that mean in regards to all those who call themselves “Christians” who do not presently accept Joseph Smith’s restored church? We may talk about Jesus Christ, but according to Mormonism, our faith is false. It’s based on the corrupted teachings of Jesus which finds expression in millions of apostate churches all over the world.

Mr. Briscoe is hurt if people say Mormonism isn’t Christian, yet he has no qualms in saying that historic Christianity has become an entirely perverted religion.

Though there might be disagreement over what constitutes true Christianity (Mormonism, orthodox Christianity, or something else altogether), the point I think too many people miss is that Mormonism and historic Christianity are different religions. If Mormonism is true, then historic Christianity is false, and vise-versa; one or the other is “outside the boundaries of [true] Christianity.”

In my opinion, the greatest misconception about the Mormon Church is that people think it’s just another Christian denomination. The doctrines of Mormonism do not allow for that option. I’d like everyone to know.

About Sharon Lindbloom

Sharon surrendered her life to the Lord Jesus Christ in 1979. Deeply passionate about Truth, Sharon loves serving as a full-time volunteer research associate with Mormonism Research Ministry. Sharon and her husband live in Minnesota.
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18 Responses to Misunderstanding Mormonism

  1. rick b says:

    One major problem I see is this. Take this blog for example, we see many LDS post on it here, yet we also see tough questions posed by various authors and tough questions from some of us replying, Yet look at the lack of good honest replys by the LDS. It seems to me the LDS either cannot answer or simply refuse to answer.

    I know the biggest reply I see is, You really dont want to know so why should we bother. Two things that bother me about that reply is this. 1. the people that tend to keep saying that, are the ones that seem to avoid the hard questions while still replying to the more simple non-salvation issues.

    2. Is, when you say that, you not only judge my heart in guessing I will never convert, but what about the People who never reply on either side of the Issue? LDS who read and never post, might think, wow, some LDS cannot defend what they believe, Yet some Christians who never reply might feel the same way.

    I feel your not doing as the scriptures state in, give every man an answer that asks for the hope that lies with in you. Example, no LDS replyed on the topic of forgivness, So LDS claim us so called Anti Mormons twist the facts and mis-quote all our sources, Yet not one LDS set the story straight, on forgivness, So are Non LDS to believe it is correct, you have no assurance of forgivness? Rick b

  2. Jim Sweeney says:

    Fantastic points. Thanks! I’ve heard from too many evangelical Christians who claim that Christianity and Mormonism “aren’t that far apart” when in fact Mormon doctrine flat out contradicts the biblical truths we cherish as our assurance of salvation.

  3. Steve says:

    No one should be surprised by this use of misinformation that is common among Mormons. Mormons used to publicly emphasize their differences with Orthodox Christianity, the uniqueness of their teachings and the importance of Joseph Smith used to be the first things they would mention. Then they learned that the message was better received if it sounded Christian. A new emphasis was placed on talking about Jesus (a different one), using Christian terms (with different meanings), and selling Mormonism as a more complete and “restored” version of Christianity. This is done in an attempt to fool prospective converts that do not know enough about Christianity to spot the differences. Any counterfeit is only successful if it closely resembles the original.

    This new emphasis was done in an attempt to increase their candidate pool. It is all about marketing. That is why you will regularly see stories in local papers profiling the plight of local missionaries and an emphasis on the supposed growing popularity in your area.

    Anyone who has spent time with Mormons or has attended any of their meetings knows that privately they do not consider Orthodox Christianity as part of there faith, but they publicly want to be considered part of Christianity.

    The only answer to this approach is education. When I was younger I dated a Mormon girl and her family tried to get me to convert. This inspired me to re-examine Christianity and allowed me (and her) to learn the truths of Christianity as opposed overwhelming historical, linguistical, geographical, archeological, and theological evidences that condemn Mormonism.

  4. Steve says:

    This is a common misinformation tactic used publicly by Mormons. Publicly they want to be considered Christians (it may help them get more converts–especially those who have some Christian background), but privately they do not consider Orthodox Christianity to be a part of their belief system. It is a false system–therefore making Mormonism necesssary.

    Mormons used to embrace these differences publicly. They used to focus on Mormonism’s unique teachings and had an emphasis on the importance of Joseph Smith. Once they found that people were more open to a Christian sounding message they started focusing on Jesus (even increasing the font size of Jesus Christ in their name-while ignoring the different role that he plays in Mormon “salvation”), using Christian terms (with different meanings), and selling Mormonism as a more complete and “restored” form of Christianity–not an entirely new religion.

    The best way to make a counterfeit is to make it appear to be like the original–Mormons try to appear Orthodox whenever it gives them an advantage in a conversion opportunity or when it allows them to portray their church in a positive way. The only way counter this tactic is with education. As our society becomes more Biblically illiterate, countering these and claims by other groups (Da Vinci Code, Gnostic Gospels, Jesus Tomb etc.) becomes more challenging.

  5. Interested says:

    I really don’t understand why they keep disapearing. I have asked several questions that I feel are fair to mormon folks but they all disapear; Neal, Ginger, et. al. Just answer the questions…do you believe this stuff or not?

  6. Andy says:

    There is also the fact that there are “Christians” who would blur the lines between Mormons and Christians. I know first hand how this has affected me in my witnessing and personal life. The “Christians” who continue to promote this deception is adding fuel to the fire with the Mormons. Mormons are deceived and will work from their agenda ALWAYS, we must be diligent of that.

  7. lonnienord says:

    petty arguments.
    mormons don’t drink coffee
    we all need to get together and celebrate JESUS

    JESUS is all that matters.
    HE loves us
    HE wants us to love HIM and each other
    HE wants us to be one as HE and the father are one.

  8. Arthur Sido says:

    Interested,

    Mormons are ingrained with a fear and aversion to those who are “anti” mormons. When backed into a corner, the reaction is typically to flee. Everything from the death of Joseph Smith to modern efforts to evangelize them fall into the category of “[filtered profanity or slur]ism” and thus pointed questions on a blog are little different in intent from a pistol pointed at Joseph Smith.

    If I may gently add a rebuke, if the goal is to evangelize mormons via this blog, perhaps some patience may be in order rather than jumping on them with both feet. It is not just what we are saving them from, but what we are saving them to…

    Arthur

  9. Interested says:

    lonnienord said…
    petty arguments.
    mormons don’t drink coffee
    we all need to get together and celebrate JESUS

    JESUS is all that matters.
    HE loves us
    HE wants us to love HIM and each other
    HE wants us to be one as HE and the father are one.

    Lonnie I agree with you to a point: I think the real concern, for me at least, is the effect certain mormon teachings have upon young people. In my experience alone, I have seen the dreadful result of the presure put upon the young females in LDS circles. Take a look at http://mormonnomore.blogspot.com/. This is just one story of tragedy because of mormon pressure on girls. My own granddaughters are going through some extreemely dificult times because they are forced to strive for perfection as dictated by the church. I know that some on this blog are very sincere in their desire to help mormon believers to see the truth of the LDS teachings and I commend them all. It takes a great deal of courage to face constant rejection. But I believe if one young girl finds peace and safety from impossible goals imposed by the oppression of these beliefs, it has all be worth it.

  10. Ginger says:

    Interested, here I am! I’m working on an MBA right now and it’s the end of the semester. If I don’t post every once in a while, that’s the reason. I’m here for entertainment and a little lively debate, not because my life or salvation or anyone else’s depends on it. 😉

    It’s interesting to me that this is a topic that would cause an uproar. Yes, when Christ left us, the Apostles tried to hold everything together. But people are what they are and many, MANY people want God and his laws to be what THEY want them to be. People with different cultures and languages interpret things differently and just ask any cop today how many eye-witness testimonies are the same. I don’t know if that made sense, I’ve been buried in economics, not religion.

    Anyway, the worst of the “falling away” occurred during the Nicean Council (heard of it?) when the Catholic bishops met to vote on church policy and God’s law. It went downhill fast from there. No longer was “the church” God’s church, it belonged to men.

    Early Protestants left the Catholic church because they knew that it was no longer a religious entity, but a political one. They did the best they could with the information they had, but until God decided that it was time, the WHOLE gospel was not available to these good people.

    Like I said before, MANY people that I know, although they’ll tell you what religion they are (or used to be) in a heartbeat, don’t actually go to their church. They want the minister or preacher or bishop or priest to preach THEIR beliefs rather than God’s law. They want to pick and choose which commandments to follow. God is no respecter of men, and neither am I.

    I see the pressure to be perfect put on many of the home-schooled Protestant girls in my community. I see many of them lose their lives when they go away from home and have to make their own choices for the first time in their lives when they’ve never been taught to think for themselves. That’s an American thing, not a Mormon thing. That’s the family’s issue, or even the community’s at times, not the Church as a whole.

    At the risk of beginning a dissertation here, I’ll continue.

    This “different Christ” is not literally a different being, human or divine. It is the Son of God and Mary. Raised by Joseph the carpenter. The Savior of the world and the Lord of all. All of us here believe in that Jesus Christ. The “different” part is in the way we think of Him and worship Him. LDS don’t worship a dead Christ. The suffering for our sins was in the Garden, the Resurrection was from the tomb. Yes, Christ had to die between those two, but the manner of his death is not what saves us. Jesus Christ is ALIVE! He will never be touched by illness nor death again. He has offered that gift to every person who has ever lived or will live on this earth! WOW! Now if anyone tells me I’m going to hell because there’s not a cross on my church, I’ll roll my eyes and refuse to respond to such silliness.

    One more thing: I’m not afraid. I was not raised to fear a challenge.

  11. Arthur Sido says:

    Ginger,

    >>This “different Christ” is not literally a different being, human or divine. It is the Son of God and Mary. Raised by Joseph the carpenter. The Savior of the world and the Lord of all. All of us here believe in that Jesus Christ. The “different” part is in the way we think of Him and worship Him.< < That is either remarkably uninformed or disingenuous. A brief review: – Mormons hold that Jesus Christ is a created being, not eternally existent, not literally God, the brother of Lucifer, the son of God and Mary in the manner of the flesh. – Christians recognize that Jesus Christ is uncreated, eternally God, co-existent with the Father and the Holy Spirit, the eternal Word made flesh. Those two definitions are mutually exclusive. He cannot be both created and uncreated, God and not God. Mormon leaders have, up until recently, wanted nothing to do with the Jesus Christ of orthodox Christianity. When mormon leader speak of Christ and Christian leaders speak of Christ, they are not speaking of the same being, any more than a muslim speaking of Christ is speaking of the same being as a Christian. By the way, your description of the Council of Nicea (>>Anyway, the worst of the “falling away” occurred during the Nicean Council (heard of it?) when the Catholic bishops met to vote on church policy and God’s law.< <) is inaccurate. The Council of Nicea in AD 325 was not about “church policy” but rather addressed exactly what we are talking about here, the nature of Christ. The consensus of the Church is the same consensus of Christians today, that Jesus Christ is God, or as it reads in the Nicene Creed: “God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God,” You can read an interesting account of Nicea, if you are interested, here: http://bible.christiansunite.com/sch/sch01-11.shtml.

  12. Arthur Sido says:

    You should check out (if you haven’t already) Albert Mohler’s piece on Newsweeks On Faith page about mormonism…

    http://newsweek.washingtonpost.com/onfaith/r_albert_mohler_jr/2007/05/is_mormonism_in_the_mainstream.html

  13. D says:

    Interesting how Arthur a presumably non-Mormon pretends knows what Ginger believes. It seems to me that Ginger knows what she believes. There are items in all churches including the one that Arthur belongs to, that on the face of things don’t make much sense. There are things that appear to contradict other things.

    Religion is an intensely personal thing and should be left up to the individual and not a church. In my opinion, all churches including Arthur’s church are organizations of Man. True spirituality is found within the soul and not a building. If you find God at a Mormon Church or Evangelical Church, then good for you. The petty nature of the argument is what is Un-Christian.

    I commend Ginger for seeking God in her own way, even though I chosen a different path towards God.

  14. Geoff J says:

    Arthur: Mormons hold that Jesus Christ is a created being, not eternally existent, not literally God

    This claim of yours is patently false. Mormonism clearly teaches that Jesus Christ is uncreated, beginningless, and literally God — the eternal Word made flesh. (Seriously — where have you been getting your information about Mormonism from?) If you believe that too then I commend you. However, you will need to find something else to complain about than this specific doctrine.

  15. Ruthie says:

    D, I’m concerned about your post to Arthur. If I understand your viewpoint correctly, you dislike organized churches and claim that your way/your beliefs make sense to you.

    D, are you saying that if Ginger believes God is a dog, and Geoff believes that there are thousands of gods, and Arthur believes there is one eternal God who shed His blood for mankind’s sins–that all these people are correct? Are you saying that there is no truth? That whatever anyone believes is okay?

    My goodness, man! Where are your convictions? If you think that whatever anyone believes is okay in the end, well, D, you’ve entirely missed the point of Mormonism, Christianity, and other major belief systems!

    The reason for this blog is that both Mormonism and Christianity hold to different beliefs . . . and these belief systems are diametrically opposed! They cannot logically both be true! For example, Mormonism teaches that Elohim was once a man on a distant planet who evolved into being the God of this Earth. Christianity on the other hand firmly believes that God has been God from all eternity, is sinless, and has never been a man (He’s always been God).

    D–rather than espousing a “whatever you believe is fine” mentality, I suggest you check out what God says. He definitely will not support the view that all roads lead to heaven. He gave us His message, sent His son to die on the cross for your sins and mine, and He has provided one way–not thousands of ways–to make peace with Him.

  16. Mormons hold that Jesus Christ is a created being, not eternally existent, not literally God

    I think an issue here is language. From the traditional Christian standpoint, Mormonism doesn’t believe in creation out of nothing at all. So of course Jesus is eternal and isn’t created; he is co-eternal with the rest of us. Also, he was not always fully divine (in the Mormon sense) and had to progress from being an intelligence to being a spirit child to being what he was just before mortality.

    As far as not being “literally God”, I’ll restate it like this: Mormonism denies that Jesus is of the same God-being as the Father, and has such a radically different notion of divinity and humanity that, while Jesus may be called “a god”, he cannot in Christian discourse be identified as the one true God.

  17. D says:

    Actually I’m espousing that religion is a PERSONAL DECISION and not the decision of a Fundamentalist Evangelical to decide. It simply is not for you to decide. This does not mean that everyone will make a correct decision.

    Personally I don’t have a problem with religion, but have some issues with the people who run some of them. I appear to have more issues with Evangelicals because they are so hell bent that they are correct, that they need to impose their beliefs on everyone else. If anyone does not agree with then their damned to hell.

    I bigger point is that Mormons are nice people that try to live a righteous life. This is more that I can personally say about Evangelicals and their behavior. When the topic about who is Christian or not, I can help but feel the Evangelicals have been led a stray. If Mormons feel that Evangelicals are not Christians, I inclined to agree.

  18. D,

    “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.” – John 3:18-19

    How can we evangelicals take passages like this seriously and still be popular with pluralists like you?

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