Reading an article in the January 19, 2008 edition of the LDS Church News I was struck by an evident disparity between Mormonism and traditional Christianity. In an article titled “Bearing down in pure testimony,” a missionary training seminar talk by LDS apostle L. Tom Perry was described for readers. Speaking of the impact mission presidents and visitor center directors can have on young missionaries, the newspaper reported:
“…[Elder Perry] said[,] ‘You’re going to have the opportunity to touch their lives, to teach them the gospel of Jesus Christ. I want to be certain when they leave you, either serving with you in the visitors center or when they leave to go out in the field, they have a firm testimony of the four cornerstones of the gospel.’
“These he identified as, first, Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior; second, belief in the calling of the Prophet Joseph Smith; third, the Book of Mormon as tangible proof of the mission of the Prophet Joseph; and fourth, the restoration of the priesthood.”
In trying to understand just what Mr. Perry was teaching, I looked up the definition for “cornerstone.” My dictionary said, “An important quality or feature on which a particular thing depends or is based.”
If that definition is correct, then Mr. Perry was saying that the gospel depends on–or is based on–Jesus Christ, Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, and the LDS priesthood. Clearly, this is a different gospel than that which has been embraced and proclaimed by Christians throughout redemptive history.
If I were to identify the four cornerstones of the Gospel from the Bible, they would be the life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ.
Life: But the testimony that I have is greater than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to accomplish, the very works that I am doing, bear witness about me that the Father has sent me. (John 5:36)
Death: God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. (Romans 5:8-10)
Resurrection: [Abraham’s] faith was “counted to him as righteousness.” But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification. (Romans 4:22-25)
Ascension: In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. (John 14:2-3)
Rather than the LDS gospel which is based on Jesus Christ plus Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, and the LDS priesthood, the Good News (Gospel) proclaimed in the Bible rests completely on Jesus Christ.
As Jesus taught His disciples regarding His future ascension, He said,
“And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:4-6)