The Main Claim of Mormonism

Lee Benson at Mormon Times wrote about the “big image problem” Mormons are plagued with. According to LDS researcher Gary Lawrence, “We’re not as popular as we think we are.” Though Americans are very aware of the LDS Church (84 percent have been exposed to missionaries, members and/or Mormons in the media), people don’t really know what Mormonism is about. Lee Benson wrote,

“… of that 84 percent, just 14 percent could correctly answer the main claim of Mormonism: that it is Christ’s original gospel re-arranged on the Earth.”

I’m not entirely certain what is meant by that particular phraseology, but to me it makes perfect sense. To rearrange something is to change it, and if there is anything Mormonism has done, it has changed Christ’s original gospel.

Christ’s original Gospel teaches of the eternal God becoming a man; in Mormonism’s rearranged gospel an eternal intelligence was organized into a man who later became a God.

In the original Gospel the veil in the temple was torn asunder, signifying that we now have direct access to God in Christ; in Mormonism’s rearranged gospel people are required to approach a new veil hanging in a Mormon temple and practice secret key words, signs and tokens that will one day grant them access to God’s kingdom.

In the original Gospel Jesus created all things; in Mormonism’s rearranged gospel Jesus “organized” eternally pre-existent matter to make this earth; He wasn’t necessarily involved in the organization of the other worlds that exist under the dominion of other Saviors in other universes directed by other Gods.

In the original Gospel God so loved the world that He gave His only Son; in Mormonism’s rearranged gospel God gave one of His many begotten sons.

In the original Gospel Christ died to rescue unworthy sinners from God’s wrath unto eternal life in His presence; in Mormonism’s rearranged gospel Christ’s sacrificial death ultimately only rescues those who prove themselves worthy of eternal life.

Mormonism has definitely rearranged Christ’s Gospel. As for me, I’ll stick with the original.

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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167 Responses to The Main Claim of Mormonism

  1. Lautensack says:

    DOF,
    Was God the Father once a man? Clearly a teaching of Joseph Smith and of great importance to him. Gordon B. Hinckley supposedly didn't know very much about it when speaking in the public sector however when speaking to LDS he uses quite different rhetoric, that would make those who hear him believe He has authority on such things.

    Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith , 357. (2002 Covenant Edition)

    God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, sits enthroned in yonder heavens! That is the great secret. If the veil were rent today, and the great God who holds this world in its orbit, and who upholds all worlds and all things by his power, was to make himself visible, – I say, if you were to see him today, you would see him like a man in form…

    SUNDAY INTERVIEW – Musings of the Main Mormon
    Gordon B. Hinckley – San Francisco Chronicler – http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/

    Q: There are some significant differences in your beliefs. For instance, don't Mormons believe that God was once a man?

    A: I wouldn't say that. There was a little couplet coined, “As man is, God once was. As God is, man may become.'' Now that's more of a couplet than anything else. That gets into some pretty deep theology that we don't know very much about.

    "Don't Drop the Ball," General Conference Oct 1994, quoted in Ensign, November 1994 – http://lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=2354f

    On the other hand, the whole design of the gospel is to lead us onward and upward to greater achievement, even, eventually, to godhood. This great possibility was enunciated by the Prophet Joseph Smith in the King Follet sermon (see Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 342–62; and emphasized by President Lorenzo Snow. It is this grand and incomparable concept: As God now is, man may become! (See The Teachings of Lorenzo Snow, comp. Clyde J. Williams, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1984, p. 1.)

    If hiding the truth from people is what you mean by clear, or laying your cards on the table then sure, your prophets do that however if actual honesty is required I am not so sure they do this in the public sector.

    Lautensack

  2. DOF says:

    Germit and Laut

    I just don't see them running and hiding. "laying low"? I guess I just don't agree. The Church is ridiculously diligent about record keeping. Anyone can see what they want….this blog is ample evidence of that.

  3. DOF says:

    Germit,
    While I appreciate the complement, one might ask where does this reasoning (which I try to cultivate) come from. Of course the scriptures and seeking wisdom through the Spirit. But who pointed me there? The very leadership you are ferring to . I firmly believe the leaders of teh Church are there to point the way to the Savior. Nothing more nothing less. And all that leads to learning by study(reason) and also by faith. D&C reference

  4. Lautensack says:

    DOF,
    Was God the Father once a man? Clearly a teaching of Joseph Smith and of great importance to him. Gordon B. Hinckley supposedly didn't know very much about it when speaking in the public sector however when speaking to LDS he uses quite different rhetoric, that would make those who hear him believe He has authority on such things.

    Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith , 357. (2002 Covenant Edition)

    God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, sits enthroned in yonder heavens! That is the great secret. If the veil were rent today, and the great God who holds this world in its orbit, and who upholds all worlds and all things by his power, was to make himself visible, – I say, if you were to see him today, you would see him like a man in form…

    SUNDAY INTERVIEW – Musings of the Main Mormon
    Gordon B. Hinckley – San Francisco Chronicler – <a href=”http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cg… ” target=”_blank”>http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/

    Q: There are some significant differences in your beliefs. For instance, don't Mormons believe that God was once a man?

    A: I wouldn't say that. There was a little couplet coined, “As man is, God once was. As God is, man may become.'' Now that's more of a couplet than anything else. That gets into some pretty deep theology that we don't know very much about.

    "Don't Drop the Ball," General Conference Oct 1994, quoted in Ensign, November 1994 – <a href=”http://lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?vgnext… ” target=”_blank”>http://lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=2354f

    On the other hand, the whole design of the gospel is to lead us onward and upward to greater achievement, even, eventually, to godhood. This great possibility was enunciated by the Prophet Joseph Smith in the King Follet sermon (see Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 342–62; and emphasized by President Lorenzo Snow. It is this grand and incomparable concept: As God now is, man may become! (See The Teachings of Lorenzo Snow, comp. Clyde J. Williams, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1984, p. 1.)

    If hiding the truth from people in general (non-members) is what you mean by clear, or laying your cards on the table then sure, your prophets do that however if actual honesty is required I am not so sure they do this in the public sector.

    Lautensack

  5. testallthings says:

    “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.”
    Text found in Isaiah 44: 5, King James Version

  6. testallthings says:

    God asks us “Is there a God beside Me?”
    He gives us the question to the test, and then He answers it for us.

  7. faithoffathers says:

    I have not been following this thread and so I am jumping in mid-stream.

    A few thoughts on Sharon’s article. It is your opinion that we have rearranged Christ’s Gospel. You were not present, nor were any of us when he arranged His church in ancient times. In the New Testament we have a few writings from some who were there, and other writings from some who followed after those events. We interpret those writings differently. You say we are “rearranging” things, we say you have an incomplete picture.

    The last verse in St. John states “there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written.” Jesus spent forty days with the disciples after His resurrection, teaching, and revealing the secrets of His kingdom to them. We have no record of any of those forty days. I don’t think the LDS view is unreasonable, you disagree.

    You mention the veil of the temple. That veil has deep symbolism, and its being rent represented more than one thing. In the ancient (and modern) temple, the veil represents the barrier or separation between God and man, between this world and the next. The veil of the Jerusalem temple was very appropriately rent at Christ’s death as He entered the spirit world. There, He preached His gospel as mentioned in the New Testament. Isaiah said, “they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.” He broke the bands of death and brought many out of that prison through the resurrection (ultimately all of us).

    Your statement concerning the symbolism of the veil I believe is overstated and oversimplified. Again, we differ on opinion and interpretation. It being rent symbolized His entering the spirit world to break those bands.

    You also mislead in your saying “in Mormonism’s rearranged gospel God gave one of His many begotten sons.” I have a hard time believing you don’t know our doctrine better than this. In our doctrine, GOD HAS ONLY ONE BEGOTTEN SON, hence the phrase, ONLY BEGOTTEN. Yes God has many sons. Do you disagree? What then of Job 38:7 “all the sons of God shouted for Joy” (at the creation). But He has only ONE BEGOTTEN SON. This means there is only one son of God on earth of whom He is the physical Father. Your statement is inaccurate and misleading.

    Your last paragraph is also problematic: “In the original Gospel Christ died to rescue unworthy sinners from God’s wrath unto eternal life in His presence; in Mormonism’s rearranged gospel Christ’s sacrificial death ultimately only rescues those who prove themselves worthy of eternal life.”

    First of all, the first part or your sentence is perfectly consistent with LDS belief. The most righteous person to make it to the celestial kingdom is unworthy of the reward (i.e. does not earn it). You say our doctrine is incorrect because we believe Christ “only rescues those who prove themselves worthy….” So how is your belief different? Are you saying you believe He saves everybody? If not, then whom does He save? What makes those who are not saved different from those who are? Don’t they do something that distinguishes them from those who are not saved? Of course. But we disagree on what that something is. This could easily lapse into faith vs. works again, but you get my drift.

  8. First of all, the first part or your sentence is perfectly consistent with LDS belief. The most righteous person to make it to the celestial kingdom is unworthy of the reward (i.e. does not earn it).

    Oh?

    “Only through sacrifice can we become worthy to live in the presence of God. Only through sacrifice can we enjoy eternal life. Many who have lived before us have sacrificed all they had. We must bewilling to do the same if we would earn the rich reward they enjoy (see Joseph Smith, Lectures on Faith, p. 58).” – Gospel Principles, p.171

    “Not all of his children are worthy of celestial glory, and many are forced to suffer his wrath because of their transgressions, and this causes the Father and the whole heavens to have sorrow and to weep. The Lord works in accordance with natural law. Man must be redeemed according to law and his reward must be based on the law of justice. Because of this the Lord will not give unto men that which they do not merit, but shall reward all men according to their works.” – Joseph Fielding Smith, Conference Report, April 1923, Third Day—Morning Session, p.137; cf. Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 3 vols., edited by Bruce R. McConkie, 2:, p.27

    “Each of us has been sent to earth by our Heavenly Father to merit eternal life” – Robert D. Hales, “Personal Revelation: The Teachings and Examples of the Prophets”, October 2007 General Conference

    FoF, would you join us in publicly denouncing such statements made by your leaders?

    You can’t have your cake and eat it too. Either people have to prove themselves worthy and meritorious of the earned reward of eternal life and Celestial exaltation, or they receive it as a free gift. Which is it?

  9. germit says:

    DOF: you wrote

    While I appreciate the complement, one might ask where does this reasoning (which I try to cultivate) come from. Of course the scriptures and seeking wisdom through the Spirit. But who pointed me there? The very leadership you are ferring to .

    the nicest thing I could say in response to that is “they (your leaders) are VERY selective about that , about directing you or anyone else toward using their God given reasoning and brain power. This topic could, and perhaps will, become a thread all its own one day. I think just as often, Mormons are taught, if only by the EXAMPLE of your leaders, that history is suspect. scholarship is to be kept on a short leash, and reasoning is more often than not, the tool of the devil. I’m at work and can only do a short post due to the op.sys. , but perhaps this will get amplified in the future. I DO appreciate your efforts to defend yourself and your church with all God has given you. GERMIT

    PS: the “our leaders are called to teach the basics of repentance and salvation” is the lamest of lines. Christian leaders/teachers of every stripe and color step up to the bar daily and TRY and answer the tough questions that range across the board…. and so does FAIR and FARMS……but WHERE are your GA;s in all of this ????

  10. gundeck says:

    FOF,

    In light of your statement, “You also mislead in your saying “in Mormonism’s rearranged gospel God gave one of His many begotten sons.” I have a hard time believing you don’t know our doctrine better than this. In our doctrine, GOD HAS ONLY ONE BEGOTTEN SON, hence the phrase, ONLY BEGOTTEN.”, can you please explain this statement by one of your prophets and quoted in chapter 2 of the Gospel Principles published by the LDS Church?

    God is not only our ruler and creator; he is also our Heavenly Father. “All men and women are . . . literally the sons and daughters of Deity. . . . Man, as a spirit, was begotten and born of heavenly parents, and reared to maturity in the eternal mansions of the Father, prior to coming upon the earth in a temporal [physical] body” (Joseph F. Smith, “The Origin of Man,” Improvement Era, Nov. 1909, pp. 78, 80).”

  11. SteveH says:

    Gundeck,

    To clarify the matter, in LDS doctrine all of the human race are spiritual sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father. However, ONLY Jesus Christ is physically begotten by our Heavenly Father hence the term ONLY BEGOTTEN. Mary was the mother of Jesus and God the Father was the father. We do not know of the precise manner in which the immaculate conception was brought about (notwithstanding BY’s speculative musings).

  12. DefenderOfTheFaith says:

    Germit,
    Maybe it is lame to say that the GA’s are to teach repentance, but that is what the Lord has said and I will take him at His word. That is not to say that GA’s don’t comment on the so-called “tough questions”. They do, as this thread has quoted from them daily. Nevertheless, their calling is not to answer every question for every inquisitive or should I say accusative mind. Should I try to answer my kids questions about the theory of relativity before he learns about his 4th grade physics lesson? What good will it do him, except to firmly secure in his mind that Relativity is a bunch of junk?

    Food for thought!

  13. gundeck says:

    SteveH,

    Thank you for the clarification, I often find it difficult to follow LDS beliefs because of different language used between us. For instance your use of the phrase, “immaculate conception” has thrown me for a loop. I was unaware that Mormons believed in immaculate conception. I can only assume that there is a specific LDS definition for immaculate conception separate from the Roman Catholic belief that Mary was without the stain of original sin. I have always been under the impression that you rejected original sin?

  14. SteveH says:

    Gundeck,

    You are correct in that the term “Immaculate Conception” is a specific Roman Catholic dogma as you described. So as to avoid confusion, it would be more accurate to say that the conception of Christ was by divine means of which we do not have a full understanding.

  15. faithoffathers says:

    Again, this is a perfect example of LDS critics making claims they know are false. Yes, Aaron, I know it is possible to look up statements that include language you can interpret to mean we completely earn our way to Heaven. You win!

    Do you honestly think the men who made those statements are saying we earn our way to heaven? Yes I know the statements. They are saying we must meet the requirements set by the Lord, and in that sense you might say earn, or merit in the Lord’s system. Those men would cringe if they thought people would interpret their statements to mean they deserved or earned heaven in the way you are saying.

    So for the 57th time on this site, I will say that we must qualify by obedience and faith and doing what Christ commands to receive salvation and His grace. We do not do the saving. We do not do the saving. We do not do the saving. Without Christ, we could not arrive at any degree of salvation.

  16. MrNirom says:

    Just what is the “Gospel” of Jesus Christ. That word gospel is thrown around like everyone has the same idea what it is. Ask 10 people what the Gospel is.. and you will get 10 different answers. That is becasue everyone has to “add” what they believe belongs. Jesus Christ gave a specific definition of “the gospel”:

    Behold I have given unto you my gospel, and this is the gospel which I have given unto you—that I came into the world to do the will of my Father, because my Father sent me.

    And my Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross; and after that I had been lifted up upon the cross, that I might draw all men unto me, that as I have been lifted up by men even so should men be lifted up by the Father, to stand before me, to be judged of their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil—

    And for this cause have I been lifted up; therefore, according to the power of the Father I will draw all men unto me, that they may be judged according to their works.

    And it shall come to pass, that whoso repenteth and is baptized in my name shall be filled; and if he endureth to the end, behold, him will I hold guiltless before my Father at that day when I shall stand to judge the world.

    And he that endureth not unto the end, the same is he that is also hewn down and cast into the fire, from whence they can no more return, because of the justice of the Father.

    And this is the word which he hath given unto the children of men. And for this cause he fulfilleth the words which he hath given, and he lieth not, but fulfilleth all his words.

    And no unclean thing can enter into his kingdom; therefore nothing entereth into his rest save it be those who have washed their garments in my blood, because of their faith, and the repentance of all their sins, and their faithfulness unto the end.

  17. Enki says:

    Lautensack,
    “Anyone who denies that man is a free agent is irrational, however free agency is a different thing from free will.”

    There must be millions of people who are irrational. Its my understanding that Buddhists believe in Dependent origination.

    “…any teaching or school of thought which shows a world originating from a First Cause is contrary to the principle of conditionality, or Dependent Origination, which clearly states that all things are interdependent, arising continually through the influences of causes and conditions. Any First Cause, be it a Creator God or anything else, is impossible.”

    P. A. Payutto
    http://www.buddhanet.net/cmdsg/coarise2.htm

    Its interesting that the statement about dependent Origination also denies a first cause. So, there must be some essential connection between first cause belief and that of free will or free agency.

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