The June 2008 issue of Tabletalk magazine included an article rooted in the biblical book of Jude. Noting that Jude speaks directly and forcefully to the issue of false teachers, the Tabletalk article by Niel Nielson explains,
“Notice that Jude isn’t writing to [his readers] about voices calling from outside the visible faith. These people have ‘crept in unnoticed,’ that is, they are inside the congregation of God’s people. …the deadliest recommendations [i.e., encouragement to follow a different spiritual path] may come from those who claim to be fellow believers, because they masquerade as people of the light, they use ‘Christian’ vocabulary, and they assert that their views are faithful to our most holy faith.”
Dr. Nielson continues, noting the harsh language Jude uses to describe these false teachers and their terrible, eventual end (Jude 12-16). “And yet,” Dr. Nielson writes, “Jude’s burden for his readers is to urge them to contend – to fight earnestly – for the faith once for all delivered to the saints…”
For Christians who engage in faith conversations with Mormons, Jude’s instruction to contend earnestly for the faith once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3) provides very important direction for our method and motivation. While many Mormons are uncomfortable with the idea of “contending” (indeed, most Mormons understand contention to be “of the devil” – see 3 Nephi 11:29), Christians recognize the God-revealed necessity of it.
Knowing, then, that Christians must engage in earnest contention for the faith, the question must be asked: What is this faith? Dr. Nielson writes,
“It is the ‘once for all’ revelation from God, gloriously complete in providing all we need to know about God and His plan, purpose, and expectations for His creation.
“Jude gives his readers two clues for recognizing these false teachers and their recommendations: they pervert the grace of our God into sensuality, and they deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ (v. 4). While this list is not exhaustive, it provides very helpful tests.
“First, does a particular viewpoint rationalize sexual sin, in this case by co-opting the very grace of God? Beware, Jude is saying, of any teaching or perspective that would use the grace and love of God as the means for justifying sexual sin…”
Anyone who followed the conversations here at Mormon Coffee last June might recognize Joseph Smith’s polygamy as an example of what Jude is talking about. Joseph did not merely marry multiple women illegally; he asked for other men’s wives and young daughters, promising eternal rewards for those who complied with his requests. Did this not “pervert the grace of our God into sensuality”? While the Word of God promises forgiveness of sins and eternal life freely given through His grace to any and all who surrender to Him, Joseph Smith perverted that offered gift, turning it into something gained via gratification of Smith’s own desires.
Dr. Nielson continues with the clues Jude provides for recognizing false teachers,
“Second, does a particular viewpoint diminish the exclusive glory and truth of Jesus Christ as the only King and Savior? Beware, Jude is saying, of any teaching or perspective that undermines His deity, diminishes His uniqueness, doubts His kingly claims over the creation, or adds or subtracts from His Gospel.”
Again we can see the teachings of LDS prophets as examples of what Jude warns against. Mormonism robs Jesus of His uniqueness, teaching that He is just one of many billions numbered among the pre-existent sons of God; Jesus is Creator of some things, but not all things; Jesus is the Savior for this world, but other worlds have other Saviors; Jesus’ deity is no different than that achievable by any of us who work hard and prove ourselves worthy of Godhood (exaltation).
Using the “clues” provided by Jude, Mormon prophets are exposed as false teachers. Consequently, Mormonism is exposed as a false religion leading millions of people away from a saving relationship with the one true God. If ever there was anything worth contending over, surely, it is this.