The Bible talks about church discipline. With a double emphasis on holding firmly to the truth and living a moral life, the New Testament says the church (the body of true believers) is to call sinners to repentance. If someone is accepted as part of the visible church but refuses to repent of sin, whether it is of a moral nature or a heretical nature, the church is to turn them out of the fellowship.
For example, 1 Corinthians 5 tells of a man in the church who is proudly unrepentant of his blatant immorality. Paul instructs, “Let him who has done this be removed from among you” (1 Corinthians 5:2). Following this pronouncement Paul includes, “Purge the evil person from among you” (1 Corinthians 5:13).
When Paul wrote to Titus, he warned about a person who “stirs up division” within the church with unsound doctrine. Paul says, “…after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned” (Titus 3:10-11).
Jesus spoke about what to do with unrepentant people in the church also. After approaching the person twice with a call to repentance, “If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector,” Jesus said (Matthew 18:15-20).
In 2 Corinthians Paul warns the church about people who teach heresy for truth. He calls them “false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:13-15). Paul told the Corinthians, “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols?…’Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord'” (2 Corinthians 6:14-18).
Why do I bring this up? A friend of mine once said, “Mormons want to be embraced as part of the Christian church, but they wouldn’t be happy with the reality. For if they were part of the visible church, they would be subject to discipline for believing the heretical doctrines the LDS Church teaches.”
What would the result of such church discipline look like on a corporate scale? It would look exactly like what we see today. In obedience to the mandates of Scripture, the greater Christian church would denounce Mormonism and remove it from among us. The Christian church would purge itself of LDS heresy. It would have nothing more to do with Mormonism. We would be obligated to obey the command to be separate from the LDS Church, for what fellowship has light with darkness?
If Joseph Smith and his followers were ever embraced as part of Christianity, if Joseph ever taught his followers the true nature of God as God has revealed Himself in the Bible, when Joseph began to teach that God the Father became a God by obedience to laws and ordinances, that there are multiple true Gods, and that human beings can become the same sort of God as God the Father has become if we but follow the same path of obedience, everything would have changed.
At that point Christians would have been obligated to call Joseph Smith to repentance for his false teachings. Historical evidence suggests that this very thing transpired. But Joseph refused to repent. Therefore, by necessity, compelled by the Word of God, Mormonism would have been (and has been) cut off from the tree of Christian fellowship.
Today Christians continue to call believers in Mormonism to repentance for the sin of idolatry. We plead, “Put away the foreign gods which are among you, and incline your heart to the LORD God of Israel” (Joshua 24:23). Put them away, friends, and enter into the joy of the Lord.
Comments within the parameters of 1 Peter 3:15 are invited.