One significant difference between biblical teaching and Mormonism has to do with the nature of God’s Law. LDS leaders teach that salvation/exaltation is gained through faith plus works. To achieve the celestial kingdom (to spend eternity in the presence of God) one must believe in Christ and also keep the commandments embodied in the Law.
“It [the Book of Mormon] promises each of us that ‘all who will come unto [the Savior] and obey the laws and ordinances of his gospel may be saved’ (Robert D. Hales, “Holy Scriptures: The Power of God unto Our Salvation,” Ensign, 11/2006, 24)
Indeed, according to a seasoned BYU Professor of Theology, God Himself is subject to the Law:
“Many traditional theologies conceive of God as some type of divine power, the ‘first cause’ or ‘prime mover’ of the universe, the self-creating, self-motivating source of all creation and progression. Many theologians claim that nothing existed before him, and that all things derive from him. Latter-day Saints, on the other hand, assert that God progressed to his present state of perfection and glory by strict adherence to eternal law. In Mormon theology, law is the first cause and prime mover of the universe, and by adherence to it, people may become like God” [which is to say, people may become Gods] (Victor L. Ludlow, Principles and Practices of the Restored Gospel, Deseret Book Co., 382. Brackets mine. ).
However, the Bible teaches something quite different. Rather than God being subject to the Law (i.e., the Law is above God), God created and gave human beings His Law for His sovereign purposes. In Galatians Paul provides both the reason and the goal of the Law:
“Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary” (Galatians 3:19).
“But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian [the Law], for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith” (Galatians 3:25-26).
Tabletalk magazine explains:
“In describing the Law’s purpose in justification, Paul must also give us the Law’s purpose in the history of redemption, which he does in [Galatians 3] verses 19-29. Given the priority of the Abrahamic covenant, which bestows salvation on those who trust in God’s promise (vv. 15-18), it is clear that the Lord never intended His Law, which grants righteousness to those who keep its precepts flawlessly, to be used by sinners to effect their own salvation. Even the structure of the Mosaic law denies that fallen people can justify themselves by their works of obedience. Our Creator gave the Law after He redeemed the Israelites from slavery (Ex. 20:1-17), expecting them to obey it in gratitude for a redemption He accomplished, not to earn their own righteousness. The Law’s sacrifices for atonement presuppose that the people would continue to miss the mark.
“Knowing the fall made us stubborn enough to believe we can get right with Him by doing enough good works to ‘outweigh’ our bad ones, God gave the Mosaic law to Israel in order to refute this belief. The Law ‘was added because of transgressions’ (Gal. 3:19) to imprison ‘everything under sin’ (v. 22). It reveals wrongdoing as a transgression of the divine will (Rom. 7:7-25) to show Israel the depth of sin and her need for the righteousness of another. Augustine writes on 3:22 ‘Transgression of the law was needed to break the pride of those who…boasted of having a sort of natural righteousness’ (Ancient Christian Commentary, NT vol. 8, p. 47). Martin Luther echoes this in his Galatians commentary, explaining how the Law prepares a person for faith as ‘a mirror that shows…he is a sinner, guilty of death, and worthy of God’s indignation and wrath.’ Rightly used, the Law spurred Israel to look to God for salvation.” (Tabletalk, February 2009, vol. 33, no. 2, page 45)
So the Law was given because of transgressions — because of evil (Genesis 6:5) — to:
- Restrain the ungodly and unholy (1 Timothy 1:8-10)
- Reflect (as in a mirror) the depth of our sin (Romans 7:7)
- Enslave us in order that we recognize our inability to save ourselves (Galatians 3:23)
- Lead us to Christ “that we might be justified by faith” (Galatians 3:25); and finally,
- Reveal God’s perfect will, to define a holy life, that we may know how to honor and serve the God we love as we seek to please Him (Psalm 119:105)
Again from Tabletalk:
“Remember that our Savior pleased the Father by keeping His Law perfectly, by seeing the will of God as His ‘food’ (John 4:34). If the imitation of Jesus makes us grow spiritually (1 Cor. 11:1), and if Jesus followed the commandments of His Father to please Him, then it follows that we will please God if we keep His Law. We cannot keep it perfectly, and we cannot make Him love us or accept us through our obedience. However, we can bring Him pleasure in doing good. Freed from the curse of the Law through the cross, we can now keep these holy statutes by the power of His Spirit (Rom. 8:1-4).” (Tabletalk, February 2009, vol. 33, no. 2, page 53)
The Bible says the Law was given by God to lead us Christ; believers strive to obey God’s Law out of gratitude and as an expression of our love for Him.
Dr. Ludlow, after decades of research, Church callings, and teaching for the LDS Church, believes Mormonism says the Law is the “first cause” and “prime mover of the universe”; that God the Father–and every other human being–is required to obey it in order to prove themselves worthy and exalt themselves to Godhood.
See the difference?
Comments within the parameters of 1 Peter 3:15 are invited.