Miscategorizing Mormonism

In an opinion piece that recently appeared in The Salt Lake Tribune (1/28/12), LDS authors David Paulsen and Hal Boyd sought to answer the question, “How do we categorize Mormons?” They state:

“Brigham Young put it this way, ‘We, the Latter-day Saints, take the liberty of believing more than our Christian brethren: we not only believe … the Bible, but … the whole of the plan of salvation that Jesus has given to us. Do we differ from others who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ? No, only in believing more.’”

The authors conclude, “We’d…prefer to be called ‘more Christians.’”

Indeed, Mormons have typically been happy to express the thought that Mormonism is much more, and has much more to offer people, than evangelical Christianity does. While it is true that the LDS belief system adds many teachings not found in the Bible, Mormonism leaves its adherents with much less than a biblical Christian faith grants to those who are in Christ. Mormonism does not add to the Christian faith; rather, it takes much away. Here are a few examples:

Faithful and Able God
Christianity calls for worship and service to the one true God over all. He has revealed Himself in Scripture to be absolutely faithful and able to deliver all He has promised. Because of who He is and His marvelous attributes, we can have complete confidence in Him. (Isaiah 44:6, 8; Deuteronomy 32:4)

The god worshiped and served in the LDS Church is not God over all. He has power over this planet (and perhaps others), but is subservient to his own father-god. He is a being who progresses; therefore, he is not the same yesterday, today and forever. His promised blessings are not sure, but are always conditioned upon man’s behavior. (Achieving a Celestial Marriage Student Manual, 129; D&C 130:21)

Mormonism takes away the Christian’s confidence in the utterly faithful and completely able God.

Peace With God
Christians believe sin separates human beings from God; as sinners, all are enemies to Him. But Christ has reconciled believers to God by His death on our behalf. Our relationship with God is restored through faith and trust in Jesus Christ. God loves and accepts us, not because of anything we have done, but because Jesus has made peace with God for us. (Isaiah 59:1-2; Romans 5:9-11; Colossians 1:20-22)

Mormonism teaches that a person finds favor with God according to his level of obedience to God’s commandments. Reconciliation has not been accomplished, but instead it is an ongoing process, changeable day to day, conditional upon a person’s ability at any given moment to behave perfectly. Because humans are not perfect, their peace with God is always in limbo. (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 1:14-15; Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, “Love,” “Loving-kindness,” 460)

Mormonism takes away the Christian’s restored relationship with his Creator.

Cleansed Conscience
The Bible teaches–and therefore a Christian believes–that because of Christ, upon confession and repentance, a believer’s sins are “blotted out” and God will “remember [them] no more.” (Acts 3:19; Hebrews 8:12) Therefore, a Christian is not subject to any charge of guilt or condemnation. (Romans 8:1, 33-34) God has granted the incredible gift of full and complete forgiveness.

Mormonism, however, claims that a person’s sins are never really removed unless and until one achieves perfect obedience to all of God’s commands. Suppose a man repents and is forgiven for a sin, but then he repeats that same sin. According to Mormon doctrine, the burden and penalty for all his past sins come back upon him. (D&C 82:7; Spencer W. Kimball, The Miracle of Forgiveness, 170)

Mormonism takes away the Christian’s peace resulting from a conscience cleansed by God’s permanent forgiveness.

Assurance of Salvation
The Christian rests in the certainty that he will spend eternity in the presence of God. Scripture bears witness of this. In the words of the Apostle John, “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life,…” (1 John 5:13; John 14:1-3) This assurance brings not only peace, but boldness in living for Christ.

Resurrection is the only future certainty within the LDS belief system. Mormonism’s rules governing whether or not a person spends eternity in the presence of God are very strict. One never knows if he has done enough to earn that blessing. According to Brigham Young, the second prophet of the LDS Church, only those who keep all of God’s commandments will spend eternity with Him. (Journal of Discourses, 14:133) Thus, the possibility of failure is always present.

Mormonism takes away the Christian’s assurance that his eternal future is secure in Christ.

In their Salt Lake Tribune article Paulsen and Boyd say,

“As Robert Millet, emeritus dean of religious education at Brigham Young University, observes ‘it is, of course, the “more” that makes many in the Christian world very nervous and usually suspicious of [Latter-day Saints]. But it is the “more” that allows us to make a meaningful contribution in the religious world.’”

In the area of faith, Mormonism contributes nothing of value – nothing meaningful – to one who has been made alive in Christ. On the contrary, it is Christianity that has much to offer those who trust in Mormonism.

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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22 Responses to Miscategorizing Mormonism

  1. falcon says:

    So Jesus gave them this “gospel plus” huh?
    In Mormonism it’s always the basic plan and then “a little bit more”. One God isn’t sufficient for Mormonism so they add millions and perhaps billions of gods who transcend time and eternity. Men can become gods. WOW, that’s a plus! That’s a big plus.
    Joseph Smith and those “prophets” and apostles of his era were great thinker uppers. They would suppose something and call it revelation. That’s the real plus factor in Mormonism, continuous revelation. Mormons think something that makes them feel good and call it revelation.
    That’s the real problem with Mormonism; it’s basically some guy’s opinion and because he thought it, it’s true. There is no test. That’s why there’s all this goofy stuff that’s been proclaimed that Mormons try to sweep under the rug. There’s so much of it under the rug that the rug has huge lumps in it.
    Mormons think that continuous revelation is a real hot feature of their religion. The problem is that these revelations tend to be put out on the Mormon curb for the Mormon garbage man to pick up. You’d think that after a while these folks would figure it out. But Mormonism lives within “eras”. What was proclaimed in a former era by a prophet is ignored by subsequent eras and prophets.
    The Bible warns against false Christs, prophets and gospels. At the end of the Book of Revelation, John warns against adding to the revelation.
    Mormons, with their “gospel plus” are on their own. God doesn’t recognize it because what He proclaimed was enough. Too bad it isn’t enough for Mormons.

  2. Kate says:

    One of the biggest lies in Mormonism is that Jesus isn’t capable of Saving us all by himself. Those living aren’t Saved until “after all that we can do.” Grace only kicks in after this 2 Nephi 25:23. For those already dead, well baptism needs to be performed by a faithful LDS for those unfortunate souls, otherwise they’re out of luck. Jesus can’t Save them. Let’s remember that to a Christian, being Saved is living with God, to a Mormon the Celestial Kingdom is living with God, and you can only get there by all your works and promises to the LDS church! How can the LDS possibly perform “works” for all those who have died? What happens to those who they don’t get to or those who fall through the cracks? It’s all so “out there.” Is this what Jesus was doing in the temple while he was here on earth? Was he performing baptisms and sealings? I don’t see anything of the sort in the Bible. In fact the Bible says that Jesus does not dwell in temples made by hands Acts 17:24. I understand why the LDS don’t take this seriously. I didn’t take the Bible very seriously either. It’s not translated correctly and has been changed by people in the past. What I didn’t realize is that we have ancient Bibles we can compare to. The true Gospel of Christ is so much more than Mormonism gives it credit for.

  3. Mike R says:

    The Authors conclude , ” We’d …prefer to be called ‘ more Christians’ ” . So we go from
    demanding to be called “Christians ” to now ” more Christians ” . Since there have been Mormon
    leaders who have stated that they are ” the true Christians ” , I’m wondering how long until that
    is more publically promoted ? The fact of the matter is that Mormon apostles have added to
    what Jesus’ apostles taught on very important issues , and like false teachers in Peter’s
    day who introduced false doctrine by adding to the true gospel [ 2Pt.2:1] , Mormon apostles
    have succumbed to this type of behavior. Yet this adding to the gospel has only resulted in
    reducing the uniqueness of not only God/ Jesus, but also as Sharon has said it can affect a
    person’s relationship with God thru Christ.

  4. spartacus says:

    Mike R, this is what I was going for with my discussion with TJayT a few posts ago. LDS should just be honest and say what they really believe or what their leaders have really always taught – that they are the “only true christians” (along with their only true church).

    I have tons to say about this post – the loss that any Christian would receive by accepting Mormonism. It is so great that you wonder 1) if they were truly Christians before – and thus 2) if they were then did they have any real idea what the LDS church teaches, 3) why any professed Christian with even a modicum of knowledge of God and Jesus and the Gospel would even entertain the possibility that LDS is attractive, let alone true.

    I’ll come back later to give a quick summary of the major ways that everything in LDS theology is smaller than in Christian theology, accept for all the wrong things that are made bigger.

    For now, I congratulate you Sharon on an excellent summary of the Gospel differences. I’m sure LDS here will challenge some of your claims (specifically whether the LDS Father is over all or not) but they will have to ignore consistent past preaching by the Lord’s “apostles and prophets” in order to do so. They thus will show themselves at least ignorant, if not buffet believers, if not shoot themselves in the foot with each claim to the contrary.

    Hope everyone has a good day!
    God Bless You in Jesus the Christ’s Name, Amen.

  5. canuck54 says:

    My first thought as I was reading this post was what a terrible burden that LDS must carry. They must always rely on THEIR works and THEIR righteousness. I pray that they would lay those burdens at the cross of Jesus. How freeing to know that Jesus paid it all in full and there is nothing that can be added. I remember a quote from one of the authorities that went something like, “take what you have (as a non LDS christian) and let us add to it”. So I guess that’s where the “more” Christians bit comes in.

    canuck

  6. falcon says:

    So why do Mormons believe this stuff? Where’s the authority? Some guy, who use to roam the countryside at night with his friends and his magic rock claiming to be able to look into the ground for buried treasure, told them so? Give me a break!
    It’s bad enough that Mormons don’t appear to know enough about the Bible and the revelation contained there to make an informed decision, but to believe the rest of this nonsense is inexcusable.
    I wouldn’t even consider Smith’s invention……….. what we as Christians believe with some added sweetener. The Mormon gospel doesn’t even contained the basics of what Christ revealed from the Father.
    In-a-nutshell, man is separated from God because of sin. We can’t atone for our sin and enter God’s presence on our own. To demonstrate His love for us, Christ died for us while we were yet sinners. We receive the gift of eternal life which God is offering us, through faith in Christ’s finished work of the cross.
    When Jesus died he said, “It is finished.” The word He used as it is written about in the Greek is an accounting term which means “the debt is paid”.
    Now Mormonism doesn’t accept the payment of the debt wrought by Jesus on the cross. They have (1) a different god(s), (2) a different plan of salvation and (3) a works oriented program the result, they believe, will turn them into gods.
    That’s not a “plus” program. That’s a different program entirely.
    So Mormons have a clear decision to make and it comes down to what they choose to believe regarding first who God is and second, what he requires for eternal life.
    Mormonism is a fools gospel that does not enrich what is taught in the Bible but is a gospel invented by a man.

  7. spartacus says:

    1) God, or the Father, is not The Ultimate. At the very least, LDS teaching states that matter is coexistent with Him, thus He is not the Ultimate. Other LDS teachings say that the Father was once a man like we are. The teaching has never been that the Ultimate Father came down to live a human life, but that He progressed from human to God as we can. Then there are the teachings about the Father of the Father and so on into eternities past. The LDS Father is tiny compared to The Ultimate God of Christianity.

    2) Jesus is not “part of” The Ultimate. He isn’t even special except for two things, neither of his own doing – he was born first in the 1st estate, and his body was sired directly by the Father. Now he apparently did some extraordinary things like become a god before ever receiving his body. But the Jesus of LDS is small compared to the Jesus of the Bible.

    3) The Holy Spirit is not “part of” The Ultimate. He is just another spirit child of the Father, like the rest of us. Though he did manage to do something neither of the first did, become a god without ever having a body at all. Nonetheless small.

    4) The Atonement of Christ is smaller. It only gets us immortal. And, assumedly, deals somehow with our post-baptismal sins, but this has never been talked about explicitly nor explained to me by an LDS.

    5) Humans are greater. We are the same “species” as God. We can become just like God is.

    6) Humans can do things to earn their place beside the Father. (supposedly)

  8. spartacus says:

    7) Sin is (somehow) smaller. That is to say that LDS think they are actually able to completely repent from their sins and all sin in order to live Celestial Law and be worthy of the Celestial Kingdom and becoming their own children’s gods. The BoM is clear and so are the early teachings of the church, and to some extent current teachings, that full repentance (not sinning anymore) is what is required for true progression and eternal life. Since this is obviously impossible LDS either don’t really believe it (I’m trying) or they must think that some sins aren’t really sins or are still ok, as long as you take sacrament to renew a covenant which can’t possibly be kept with their own sinlessness.

    8) The Priesthood is smaller. It is obviously so because it is only held by the males. But it is even more so, because one has to be worthy in order to “hold it” in any significant way. But considering 7 above, what priesthood holder anywhere, at anytime, has ever not sinned at all or has sinned so little (if you think some is ok) as to really be an effective priest?

    9) The Temple is smaller. Or, rather, it is more distant or more shallow. The Temple in Christianity is each believer. We are the Temple of God, indwelt by the Holy Spirit, as made possible by the continual cleansing of the Atonement. But for LDS, there are only external temples where God might show up, or at least used to. I’ve heard people talk more about seeing dead people at the temples, never Jesus or the Father.

  9. spartacus says:

    10) Women are smaller. Heavenly Mother (all of them) can’t even be named or spoken/prayed to. Women can’t hold the priesthood. But in Christianity there is no “male or female” but all are one in Christ. All are priests. All are the Bride of Christ.

    11) Family is bigger. It often seems to me that the claim to eternal families is given more focus in LDS than peace and relationship and eternity with God. LDS speak of the Celestial Kingdom but how does that work? Are you really with the Father if you are making and populating your own planet(s)? But then…

    12) The family is greater. See if you really think about the impossibility of people actually making it to the Celestial Kingdom, let alone the uppermost level, then it become absurd for anyone to really make it (unless you downplay a lot of sins), let alone a whole family. But then…

    13) The family is smaller. In Christianity the family of God is all believers together (not on separate planets) all living together in intimacy through the Spirit. In LDS you just have your own family (if the impossibility of 12 is overcome) and some neighbors if you really downplay sin completely?

  10. Mike R says:

    Spartacus, you made some great points !

  11. falcon says:

    So after reading spartacus’ post above I’m back to asking, “Why do Mormons believe this stuff?”
    They are asked to pray about the BoM to get a message from God that it’s true, right? Well what does that have to do with the rest of the “restored gospel” which I would characterize as the “Nauvoo gospel”. The Nauvoo gospel saw the introduction of Free Masory rituals in the Mormon temple, plural wifery as a means of reaching the highest level of the Celestial Kingdom (another borrowed concept), and men becoming gods.
    What does any of this have to do with mankind being separated from God because of sin and God’s reconciling (mankind) to Himself through the atoning act of Jesus’ death on the cross?
    Talk about “add-ons”. It’s Smith’s folly. Even sects of Mormonism reject the nonsense that Smith introduced in Nauvoo. The polygamy concept was so abhorrent that even the SLC Mormons were pressured into dropping it and it will never see the light of day as part of this gospel again. Mormon women wouldn’t allow it in this day and age. So if the polygamy add-on was a total abomination and error, what about the rest of Smith’s Nauvoo gospel.
    You’d think that Mormons would catch on but without accurate information they are doomed to separation from God for rejecting Him and His gospel for a false god and a false gospel.

  12. gpark says:

    Just some Bible verses and commentary to go along with Spartacus’ comments…

    1) God, or the Father, is not The Ultimate. At the very least, LDS teaching states that matter is coexistent with Him, thus He is not the Ultimate. Other LDS teachings say that the Father was once a man like we are. The teaching has never been that the Ultimate Father came down to live a human life, but that He progressed from human to God as we can. Then there are the teachings about the Father of the Father and so on into eternities past. The LDS Father is tiny compared to The Ultimate God of Christianity. So, in other words, this teaching is the opposite of what the Bible teaches, which is that there were no gods formed before God and there will be no gods formed after Him. (Isaiah 43:10, Also, see Isaiah 44:6; see Hebrews 6:13)

    2) Jesus is not “part of” The Ultimate. He isn’t even special except for two things, neither of his own doing – he was born first in the 1st estate, and his body was sired directly by the Father. Now he apparently did some extraordinary things like become a god before ever receiving his body. But the Jesus of LDS is small compared to the Jesus of the Bible. This, too, is the exact opposite of what the Bible teaches – that Jesus and the Father are One and that if you have seen Jesus you have seen the Father. (John 14:8-9; see also Hebrews 13:7) Jesus did not have to work his way to a position; He is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last. (Revelation 22:12-13)

    cont.

  13. gpark says:

    3) The Holy Spirit is not “part of” The Ultimate. He is just another spirit child of the Father, like the rest of us. Though he did manage to do something neither of the first did, become a god without ever having a body at all. Nonetheless small. In the Bible, when Ananias claimed to have given to the church the whole amount of the money he received from the sale of a property, Peter asked Ananias why he had lied to the Holy Spirit and told him that, in doing so, he had not lied to men but to God. (Act 5:1-6) Once again, Mormonism is not in agreement with what the Bible teaches.

    4) The Atonement of Christ is smaller. It only gets us immortal. And, assumedly, deals somehow with our post-baptismal sins, but this has never been talked about explicitly nor explained to me by an LDS. The Bible teaches that Christ is able to save “to the uttermost all those that come to God through Him.” (Hebrews 7:25) Barnes Notes on the Bible, referencing the KJV phrasing of Hebrews 7:25, which says, Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost… defines the phrase “to the uttermost” as follows – ‘This does not mean simply “forever” – but that he has power to save them so that their salvation shall be “complete” – εἰς τὸ παντελὲς eis to panteles. He does not abandon the work midway; he does not begin a work which he is unable to finish. He can aid us as long as we need anything done for our salvation; he can save all who will entrust their salvation to his hands.’

  14. gpark says:

    [Notice, we “entrust our salvation to His hands”… our complete salvation. The only place that works have in the process is that they are the natural (or should I say supernatural) outflow of a heart regenerated by, and filled with, the Holy Spirit (the third Person of the Trinity, the other Comforter, sent to guide us into all truth). The salvation paid for by Jesus with His life is not an “after all you can do” salvation or a partial salvation. It is a complete, “to the uttermost” salvation!]

    5) Humans are greater. We are the same “species” as God. We can become just like God is. Satan wanted to be like God, and look where that got him! (1 Timothy 3: 1, speaking of a man who “desires the position of a bishop” directs in verse 6 that he “not [be] a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil.”)

    6) Humans can do things to earn their place beside the Father. (supposedly) The Bible says that none of our works will earn our way to Heaven. (Galatians 2:16, 21; Ephesians 2:8-9;Titus 3:5)

    7) Sin is (somehow) smaller. That is to say that LDS think they are actually able to completely repent from their sins and all sin in order to live Celestial Law and be worthy of the Celestial Kingdom and becoming their own children’s gods. The BoM is clear and so are the early teachings of the church, and to some extent current teachings, that full repentance (not sinning anymore) is what is required for true progression and eternal life.

  15. gpark says:

    7 cont. Since this is obviously impossible LDS either don’t really believe it (I’m trying) or they must think that some sins aren’t really sins or are still ok, as long as you take sacrament to renew a covenant which can’t possibly be kept with their own sinlessness. (Read 1 John 1:8-10 if you believe in your own sinlessness.)

    The Priesthood is smaller. It is obviously so because it is only held by the males. But it is even more so, because one has to be worthy in order to “hold it” in any significant way. But considering 7 above, what priesthood holder anywhere, at anytime, has either not sinned at all or has sinned so little (if you think some is ok) as to really be an effective priest? All believers are priests. (Revelation 1:3-6, especially note verse 6; 1 Peter 2:4-5 and 9-10)

    9) The Temple is smaller. Or, rather, it is more distant or more shallow. The Temple in Christianity is each believer. We are the Temple of God, indwelt by the Holy Spirit, as made possible by the continual cleansing of the Atonement. But for LDS, there are only external temples where God might show up, or at least used to. I’ve heard people talk more about seeing dead people at the temples, never Jesus or the Father. (1 Corinthians 3:16 and 6:19)

    10) Women are smaller. Heavenly Mother (all of them) can’t even be named or spoken/prayed to. Women can’t hold the priesthood. But in Christianity there is no

  16. gpark says:

    10 cont. no “male or female” but all are one in Christ. All are priests. All are the Bride of Christ. (Galatians 3:27-29; 2 Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 5:25-29)

    11) Family is bigger. It often seems to me that the claim to eternal families is given more focus in LDS than peace and relationship and eternity with God. LDS speak of the Celestial Kingdom but how does
    but how does that work? Are you really with the Father if you are making and populating your own planet(s)? But then… Does one really think that being in the presence of God is not enough – God, Whose glory will illuminate the New Jerusalem. (Revelation 21:23; Revelation 22:5) One’s family members, if they have accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior, will be there, too, as Christ’s bride.

  17. gpark says:

    Answer to # 12 and # 13 is same as answer to # 11.

    “…for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.” 1 Timothy 1:12

  18. gpark says:

    My apologies! That last verse should be 2 Timothy 1:12. Also, comment 5 should have 1 Timothy 3:1-6.
    Lastly, can one of the more computer literate among you share with me how I can get the italicized portions I use to distinguish my additions from the original comment to be preserved when I post the comment?

  19. gpark, we have a few tips our comment policy page. They will explain how to indent, bold and italicize text.

  20. Mike R says:

    gpark, thanks for sharing your commentary on some of the things that Spartacus enunciated .
    Both of you have exposed significant Mormon teachings for what they are — merely the ideas
    of men .

  21. gpark says:

    Thanks, Sharon and Mike!

  22. spartacus says:

    gpark,

    Thanks for biblically “fleshing out” my posts. I could have added a lot more to each and probably some more areas where LDS is smaller in all the wrong places and greater in all the wrong places, but I didn’t want to get too far into any one.

    Again, I remember when I first heard the missionary lessons, when God and I had not worked out my relationship with Christ yet, and was impressed by the audacity of their claims about the apostasy and so on. Then, the next time we went through them, which was after I had accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior, I was suprised by the audacity to claim and judge so much on so little evidence, and astonished that any Christian would be able to listen to so much denigration of God and exaltation of Man, let alone be attracted to it, let alone accept it.

    thanks again gpark!

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