Martin Luther and Mormonism

Don't Read ThisIn the early 1500’s, a man named Martin Luther figured out something important — the Roman Catholic Church, of which he was a devout member, was abusing its power. Among other things, the church was selling — for money — forgiveness and passes to heaven.

Luther could see that the Church was in error because Luther had thoroughly studied the Holy Bible.

In Luther’s day, the Catholic lay-people knew little of what was in the Bible. The Catholic clergy used a Bible written in Latin, a language that the common people did not speak or read. The clergy, by keeping the Bible to themselves in this way, were free to misinterpret the holy book to their own benefit — and thus they did.

In an attempt to end the wrongful practices of the Church upon the people, Luther himself translated the Bible into German. Though he did not, at the time, particularly agree that a few of the books belonged in the Bible, he did not presume to add to, nor take away from, the Bible as it was. He translated God’s Word, making it accessible to the masses.

Skip ahead three centuries. In the early 1800’s, a man named Joseph Smith produced a book called the Book of Mormon, which condemned the Catholic Church for its errors, calling it the “great and abominable church”. It should be understood that the “Reformation”, a movement that had started with Martin Luther, would have been widely recognized by Smith’s day.

This is a good time to add just a little more information about the Reformation. According to Theopedia.com,

“The theology of the Reformers departed from the Roman Catholic Church primarily on the basis of three great principles:

* Sole authority of Scripture,
* Justification by faith alone, and
* Priesthood of the believer. ”

In other words, in the view of the Reformers (who had read and studied the Bible for themselves), where the Catholic Church was most errant was in

1- Going above/around the Bible for spiritual/religious doctrine
2- Teaching that justification had more requirements than faith in Christ
3- Claiming exclusive “priesthood” for the religious elite, rather than for each born-again believer (1 Peter 2:9).

Joseph Smith and his Book of Mormon claimed that the Catholic Church had erred by taking many “plain and precious truths” from the Bible, and that he was the one to restore those truths. This post is not going to address his work on the Bible, other than to state that it is easy to prove that what Joseph “restored” came from his creative imagination and desire to prove himself a prophet.

The question for this post is, given that Mormonism in its inception considered the Catholic Church to be the church of the devil (or at least the main face of said church), why has it done the exact same thing?

Specifically:

1- The Mormon Church claims that there is authority over and above the Bible: the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, the Pearl of Great Price (all produced by Joseph Smith), and the teachings of the LDS authority figures.
2- The Mormon Church has added to faith many other requirements.
3- The Mormon Church teaches that priesthood is only for worthy LDS male members.

The Catholic Church was able to keep its people subjugated to the Church, its leadership, and its false teachings by keeping them away from a knowledge of the Holy Bible.

Martin Luther, by exposing people to the biblical gospel and making the Bible more accessible, freed people financially, emotionally, and spiritually from the religious wrong-doings of the Roman Catholic religion.

The Mormon Church keeps its people subjugated to the Church, its leadership, and its false teachings by keeping them away from a knowledge of the Holy Bible.

The LDS have the Bible in their homes, in their own language. But their religion still keeps the Bible truth out of their minds and hearts in at least five ways:

1- The LDS religion insists that the Bible can not be trusted (cf. the 8th Article of Faith).

2- The LDS religion has created and taught new definitions for terms in the Bible, so that when a Mormon reads the Bible, s/he is confused. Some examples of this are the teachings a) that there are two God the Father’s (one above the other), b )that “salvation” equals universal resurrection by grace, distinguished from exaltation by works/merit, and c) that ‘priesthood’ is an authority or power that gets handed down from one faithful (to the church) Mormon man to another.

3- The LDS religion emphasizes Book of Mormon reading over Bible reading. The Book of Mormon contains plagiarized sections of the KJV Bible, with minor wording removed or inserted. It contains Bible stories with new character names and reworked story details. It also contains separated and recombined Bible passages. Because a Mormon is typically more familiar with the Book of Mormon than the Bible, Bible comprehension is negatively affected by the reader’s Book-of-Mormon ‘lenses’.

4- The LDS religion has an official version of the Bible, the KJV. The King James Version, written in Old English, contains uncommon words and phrasing. More modern Bible translations, such as the NKJV or the NASB, are much more easily understood by the modern reader.

5- The LDS Bible comes with chapter headings. These headings look like they are brief overviews of each chapter. However, they are really used to promote Bible-contrary LDS church doctrine. For instance, the chapter heading for 1 Corinthians 8 teaches that there are many real gods, just as Joseph Smith did from this same piece of scripture.

I was a Mormon. Like Martin Luther, I’m protesting that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is keeping their members away from a knowledge of the truth of the Bible. My efforts, and those of people like me, will probably not bring the Mormon Church to its knees. But my prayer is that many Mormons will still find the Bible, and because of it, be freed from Mormonism and saved into the Life of Jesus Christ.

About setfree

God trusting, Bible believing, Jesus lover.

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207 Responses to Martin Luther and Mormonism

  1. setfree says:

    I forgot to revisit this, so here it is finally.

    Above, I showed how the LDS-selected verses specifically about “God the Father-Elohim” are actually about Jehovah.

    Ralph’s reply was basically that the creator of the Topical Guide is only human, and therefore fallible.

    Ralph, anyone…

    If the official LDS website displays verses about a God other than Jehovah, in this case “Elohim”, and yet, when you go to the verses, they are actually about Jehovah again, and not some god named “Elohim”…

    would you care? WHY NOT?

    Isn’t there one thing in the world you won’t forgive your church for? “oh that’s ok, the church is still true”

    For pity sake, people. The Christians argue that there is only one real God in the Bible – Jehovah.

    Your church comes along and says “no, there are many”, and “here are the specific verses about ‘Elohim’, Jehovah’s dad”

    and then you look, and no they’re not! They’re about Jehovah again.

    Isn’t it perhaps, maybe, just possible that the Christians are telling you the truth and there is only ONE REAL GOD IN THE BIBLE?????

    http://scriptures.lds.org/en/tg/g/52

  2. setfree says:

    “The law discovers the disease. The Gospel gives the remedy.” – Martin Luther

    Galatians 3:24-25

  3. setfree says:

    I misunderstood a question by Ralph above. Ralph, the “god” of 2 Cor 4:4 is Satan. Here is some commentary on that:

    “The phrase “god of this world” (or “god of this age” [NKJV]) indicates that Satan is the major influence on the mind-set expressed by the ideals, opinions, goals, hopes and views of the majority of people. His areas of influence also encompass the world’s philosophies, education, and commerce. The thoughts, ideas, speculations and false religions of the world are under his control and have sprung from his lies and deceptions.

    Similar titles are found elsewhere in Scripture concerning Satan. Satan is called the “prince of the power of the air” in Ephesians 2:2. He is called the “ruler of this world” in John 12:31. These titles, and many more attributed to Satan throughout Scripture, signify his capabilities. To say, for example, that Satan is the “prince of the power of the air” is to signify that in some way he rules over the world and the people in it.

    This is not to say that he rules the world completely; only God does this. But it does mean that God, in His infinite wisdom, has allowed Satan to operate in this world (within the boundaries God has set for him) and has allowed Satan to operate with an agenda. When the Bible says Satan has power over the world, it must be made clear that God has given him domain over unbelievers alone. Believers are no longer under the rule of Satan (Colossians 1:13). Unbelievers, on the other hand, are caught “in the snare of the devil” (2 Timothy 2:26), lie in the “power of the evil one” (1 John 5:19), and are in bondage to Satan (Ephesians 2:2).

    (to be continued)

  4. setfree says:

    “So, when the Bible says that Satan is the “god of this world,” it is not saying that he has ultimate authority. It is conveying the idea that Satan rules over the unbelieving world in a specific way. In the case of 2 Corinthians 4:4, the unbeliever follows Satan’s agenda. According to 2 Corinthians 4:4, the “god of this world has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ.” Satan’s agenda includes pushing a false philosophy onto the unbelieving world—a false philosophy that blinds the unbeliever from the truth of the Gospel. Satan’s philosophies are the fortresses in which people are imprisoned, needing to be set free and brought captive to Christ in obedience to the truth.

    An example of a false philosophy might be a belief that man can earn God’s favor by a certain act or acts. In fact, earning eternal life is a predominate theme around the world. Earning God’s favor by works, however, is contrary to biblical revelation. Man cannot work to earn God’s favor; eternal life is a free gift (see Ephesians 2:8-9). And that free gift is available through Jesus Christ and Him alone (John 3:16; 14:6). You may ask why does mankind simply not receive the free gift that enables them to truly be called children of God (John 1:12)? The answer is that Satan—the god of this world—pushes a false philosophy onto the world. Satan sets the agenda, the unbelieving world follows, and mankind continues to be deceived. It is no wonder that Scripture calls Satan a liar (John 8:44).”

    Remember that Satan offered to give his power to Jesus, when he tempted Him in the desert. Jesus refused, knowing that going to the cross was God’s way to conquer sin/death/Satan. (Luke 4:5,6,7)

  5. It seems to have gone quiet here, so I thought I might share some thoughts about the scenario presented in Rev 12:7-12 (It follows on from setfree’s posts about Satan, and it’s related to Grace, so it’s not totally off-topic)

    And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back…

    Firstly, I’ll lay my cards on the table by noting that I tend towards amillenialism. By contrast pre-millenialists will say that John’s revelations point to events that will happen, and post-millenialists will say they point to events that have already happened.

    I prefer to see these word-pictures as scenarios that are played out as part of the human experience (like many of Jesus’ parables, for example). So I don’t associate this picture with the origins of Satan or his (its?) ultimate destiny. I’m more concerned with what the scenario portrays.

    So, what’s going on here?

    Firstly, we should note that the word “Satan” derives from the Hebrew “accuser”, an attribute emphasized by John in Rev 12:10. It’s not unreasonable, then to suppose that the accuser’s job is to publicize the failures of the “brethren”.

    Their response, which overthrows the accuser, is the Blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony (Rev 12:11). Again, it’s not unreasonable to suppose that the two are inter-linked – the testimony of the Brethren is about the Blood of the Lamb.

    What interests me here is the dynamic of the conflict. On the one side we see the accuser, who attempts to focus on the works of the believers. On the other, the believers’ response is to focus on the work of Christ.

    Maybe, the message is that when we enter into the conflict on the basis of what we have done, we will be thrown out. When we enter it on the basis of Christ’s completed work, we will overthrow this “Satan” and the world that he/it dominates.

    I see this scenario played out time and time and time again.

  6. DeeAnn says:

    Wow, Setfree, this is a breath of fresh air. After years of disconnect, truth pierced my heart through the Bible. Just as I learned about the "cyclical Nephites" of the Book of Mormon, I repeated the same cycles of attachment/detachment–attached when the Sunday School curriculum went through the Old and New Testaments, semi-detachment through the BOM, and total frustration/detachment during Doctrine & Covenants/Church History. Christian teachings resonated through the Bible, while I found central LDS doctrines to be merely a fleeting vague mention in the Bible that became (voila!) fully-fledged through LDS scripture/Conference talks, etc. As for the God=Jehovah/Jesus or Elohim debate, how is the doctrine of "divine investiture" not a grudging acknowledgement of the Triune nature of God? I don't really understand either concept, other than they seem to be differently worded ways to deal with this puzzle of the Bible that essentially say the same thing. (Incidentally, I've had LDS people tell me there is no such doctrine of "divine investiture" in the LDS faith, so someone ought to let the professors of BYU and Institute teachers know that they are teaching "false doctrine.")

  7. setfreebyjc says:

    DeeAnn, it's nice to meet you, and hear your thoughts. Are you ex-Mormon, Christian, then? I hope you continue to hang around – welcome!

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