Thomas S. Monson, the current LDS president and prophet, has a Facebook page. Well, actually, a Thomas Monson Facebook page exists, but it is “not an Official church Facebook page.” The page describes itself as, “Quotes and talks from Thomas S. Monson.”
A couple of weeks ago (24 June 2012) the page posted a picture of a Mormon temple with a “One Way” sign in the foreground, pointing at the temple. The caption said, “Millions of ordinances are performed in the temples each year in behalf of our deceased loved ones. May we continue to be faithful in performing such ordinances for those who are unable to do so for themselves.”
The implication, of course, is that Mormon temples — or perhaps more specifically, the ordinances performed in Mormon temples – constitute the “one way” to “celestial glory” (as one commenter on the thread put it).
Mormonism teaches that to live in the celestial kingdom is to “live eternally in the presence of Heavenly Father” (Gospel Principles, p. 277). Therefore, as the photo on the Thomas S. Monson Facebook page so graphically portrayed, the “one way” to Heavenly Father (i.e., God) is through Mormon temples.
But the Bible says something different.
“Jesus said to [Thomas], ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’” (John 14:6)
To expand a bit, John MacArthur wrote,
“The biblical message is clear. Jesus said, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me’ (John 14:6). The apostle Peter proclaimed to a hostile audience, ‘Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved’ (Acts 4:12). The apostle John wrote, ‘He who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him’ (John 3:36).
“Again and again, Scripture stresses that Jesus Christ is the only hope of salvation for the world. ‘For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus’ (1 Timothy 2:5). Only Christ can atone for sin, and therefore only Christ can provide salvation. ‘And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life’ (1 John 5:11-12).”
Mormon temples – or Mormon temple ordinances – are not the way to the Father; according to Jesus, He is.
Mormons may argue that “everything in the temple testifies of Jesus Christ’s divinity and sacrifice and teaches us to follow his example of love and service,” (a statement from temple open house brochures that requires another blog post to examine); nevertheless, the Bible is clear that following Jesus’ example is not the “one way” to the Father. Jesus Himself is the way.
Mormon apostles teach:
“Ordinances and covenants become our credentials for admission into his presence. To worthily receive them is the quest of a lifetime; to keep them thereafter is the challenge of mortality” (Boyd Packer, Conference Reports April 1987, p. 27. See also Ensign (Conference Edition), May 1987, p. 24).
“Temple ordinances, covenants, endowments and sealings enable individuals to be reconciled with the Lord and families to be sealed beyond the veil of death. Obedience to temple covenants qualifies us for eternal life – the greatest gift of God to man” (Russell M. Nelson, “Eternal life comes from obedience to temple ordinances,” Church News, April 7, 2001, p. 10).
Where is Jesus in this? Disagreeing with Jesus Himself, Mormonism teaches that the ordinances, covenants, endowments and sealings found in Mormon temples are the only way to be reconciled to God and gain eternal life. In fact, Mormon temples promise what they cannot deliver. Rather than “a stepping stone to eternal glory,” (Russell M. Nelson, “Prepare for Blessings of the Temple,” Ensign, March 2003, p. 22) Mormon temples are like the “whitewashed tombs” of Matthew 23:27 – they may appear beautiful on the outside, but they are full of dead people’s bones.