Mormons see “anything but a unity of the [Christian] faith.”

LDS Apostle Jeffrey Holland was invited to speak at Harvard Law School last month (20 March 2012) during the LDS Student Association’s annual Mormonism 101 series. His talk was about what Mormons believe. After telling his audience about Joseph Smith’s First Vision and the Mormon proclamation of complete Christian apostasy, Mr. Holland explained,

“It is commonplace to note that in the Christian world we see anything but a unity of the faith, or any Christian cohesiveness that could remotely be called ‘the building fitly framed together [Ephesians 2:22].’ There seems to be none that would reaffirm one Lord, one faith, and one baptism [Ephesians 4:5].

“So it was in Joseph Smith’s day. This young boy-prophet lamented that his region was ‘a scene of great confusion and bad feeling . . . priest contending against priest, and convert against convert; so that [any] good feelings . . . were entirely lost in a . . . war of words and tumult of opinions.’ That says so very much about post-New Testament Christianity. (Find this quote beginning at 7:15 in the video. This quote is transcribed directly from the video; please note that the text that appears on the Mormon Newsroom website is somewhat different.)

Mr. Holland’s critical and dismissive attitude toward “post-New Testament Christianity” aside, as the Christian church understands Paul’s teaching in Ephesians, this Mormon apostle has got it all wrong.

In Ephesians 4 Paul is talking about a particular kind of unity: a unity of the Spirit (v. 3). Pastor and theologian John Piper explains,

“[Paul] pleads with the church to walk [in a way] worthy of our calling [v.1]. Specifically, the way he wants to emphasize is that we be ‘diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace’ (v.3). We walk unworthily of our calling in Christ if we disregard the unity of the body and don’t expend any effort to safeguard what Christ died to obtain. ‘Be diligent,’ Paul says, ‘Be eager, be earnest’ to keep the unity given by the Spirit of God and obtained with the blood of Christ (2:16).”

Pastor Piper points to verse 2 which reveals that one character quality Paul calls for in maintaining that spirit of unity is, among other things, humility.

“The humility that leads to unity is not uncertainty and doubt and vagueness and confusion [about truth]. It is the demeanor that says: I am not the center; truth is the center and I submit to the truth and go where it leads. I am not king; God is king. My will is not the law; God’s Word is the law. I don’t tell God how many faiths are acceptable to him; he tells me. I don’t define the foundation of the unity of the Spirit; God does.”

God defines the foundation for the unity of the Spirit through Paul in verses 4-6:

“Here he gives the objective ground in reality for the subjective experience of unity that we are to pursue. The unity of the Spirit that we should be so diligent for is based on a given, objective unity outside ourselves that we have nothing to do with creating or defining. It is there, and we are humbly to recognize it and submit to it and rejoice in it and live it out.

“’There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.’

“One body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one Father. This is the objective foundation of our diligent efforts to preserve the unity of the Spirit. It is not a fragile or ultimately vulnerable thing. It rests on the oneness of God, the oneness of faith, the oneness of baptism, and the oneness of the body. Those things are one, no matter what you or I do. They are fixed realities. Our task is to walk worthily of them.”

1 Corinthians 12:13So what are these fixed realities on which we are to be united? Pastor Piper explains,

… “there is only one God (the Father of all who believe, Ephesians 2:12) and only one Lord (the Lord Jesus Christ, Ephesians 1:2f.), and only one Spirit (the Holy Spirit poured out from the Father by the Son, Acts 2:33) and only one faith (faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, Ephesians 1:13, 15) and only one baptism (into Christ in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Matthew 28:19f.), and only one body (the church of God gathered with Jesus as the head, Ephesians 4:15)—since there is only one God and one faith, we must take the news of this God and this faith to the nations. ‘There is no other name under heaven,’ Peter said, ‘given among men by which we must be said’ (Acts 4:12). Other religions and other lords will not save.”

This is exactly what we see in Christianity. Christians do share a unity of the faith and a unity of the Spirit. And, in fact, all Christians affirm “one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.”

Christians from all denominations are united in the Spirit as one body of believers. In that unity we act together to take the amazing truth of one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father over all to those who do not yet know Him and are not yet joined with us in this astonishing, God-given unity of the Spirit.

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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15 Responses to Mormons see “anything but a unity of the [Christian] faith.”

  1. grindael says:

    Having done much research on the “Burned Over District” of New York, and the “Great Awakenings” in Europe and America, both Jo Smith and Jeffrey Holland have a small point when it comes to individuals sects, and the apparent struggle that went on among them. But what Jo Smith failed to see was the underlying spirituality that drove men to better themselves, and break the shackles of tradition and sin. The traditions of society played a great role in Christianity from the beginnings of the movement, to this present day, with a great divide between rich and poor, bond and free, and the political mechanizations of Kings and Rulers. Through it all, was the one cohesive thing that has been the standard for all true Christians, the Word of God. When men live up to it’s precepts, we do have unity, (as explained by Sharon above), and a true guide to how men should act towards each other. The Great Awakenings, were a time when all men had ready access to the Word, and it slowly changed society, and also fulfilled the words of Christ:

    “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to turn “‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother,
    a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law —36 a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’ 37 “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 10:34-39, NIV)

  2. grindael says:

    Smith wrote in 1833 to a Newspaper editor (N. C. Saxton) that,

    “The Lord declared to His servants, some eighteen months since [D&C 63:32 ?], that He was then withdrawing His Spirit from the earth and we can see that such is the fact for not only the churches are dwindling away, but there are no conversions, or but very few; and this is not all, the governments of the earth are thrown into confusion and division; and Destruction, to the eye of the spiritual beholder, seems to be written by the finger of an invisible hand, in large capitals, upon almost every thing we behold.”

    He added, “Have not the pride, high-mindedness, and unbelief of the Gentiles, provoked the Holy One of Israel to withdraw His Holy Spirit from them, and send forth His judgments to scourge them for their wickedness? This is certainly the case.”

    Smith could not have been more wrong. America has gone on to become the greatest Christian Nation in the history of the world. There is literally a Christian Church in every town and city, on every corner. Smith then “prophesied” that,

    “And now I am prepared to say by the authority of Jesus Christ, that not many years shall pass away before the United States shall present such a scene of bloodshed as has not a parallel in the history of our nation; pestilence, hail, famine, and earthquake will sweep the wicked of this generation from off the face of the land, to open and prepare the way for the return of the lost tribes of Israel from the north country. The people of the Lord, those who have complied with the requirements of the new covenant, have already commenced gathering together to Zion, which is in the state of Missouri, therefore I declare unto the warning which the Lord has commanded to declare unto this generation, remembering that the eyes of my Maker are upon me and that to him I am accountable for every word I say wishing nothing worse to my fellow-men than their eternal salvation; therefore, “Fear God, and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment is come.” Repent ye, repent ye, and embrace the everlasting covenant, and flee to Zion, before the overflowing scourge overtake you, for there are those now living upon the earth whose eyes shall not be closed in death until they see all these things, which I have spoken, fulfilled. Remember these things; call upon the Lord while He is near, and seek Him while He may be found, is the exhortation of your unworthy servant.”

  3. grindael says:

    According to Smith, God withdrew his Spirit from the world, and there wasn’t much time before the end. He would again “prophesy” a few years later that “There are those of the rising generation WHO SHALL NOT TASTE DEATH til Christ comes.” (Joseph Smith, General Conference, 6 April 1843, quoted in The Words of Joseph Smith, p.179)

    He also said in that same year,

    ‘I prophecy in the name of the Lord God of Israel, unless the United States redress the wrongs committed upon the Saints in the state of Missouri and punish the crimes committed by her officers that in a few years THE GOVERNMENT will be utterly overthrown and wasted, and there will not be so much as a potsherd left …”

    Parley P. Pratt took up the gauntlet and wrote this in 1838,

    “I WILL STATE AS A PROPHECY, that THERE WILL NOT BE AN UNBELIEVING GENTILE upon this continent 50 YEARS HENCE; and if they are not greatly scourged, and in a great measure overthrown, WITHIN FIVE OR TEN YEARS FROM THIS DATE, THEN THE BOOK OF MORMON WILL HAVE PROVED ITSELF FALSE.” (Parley P. Pratt, “Mormonism Unveiled”, pamphlet, self published, 1838).

    Wilford Woodruff prophesied in 1863 at the dedication of the Logan Temple,

    “Yea the day will come after your Father & these Prophets And Apostles are dead and gone into the spirit world you will have the privilege of going into the Tower of a glorious Temple built until the Name of the Most High God /East of us upon the Logan Bench/ and while you stand in the Tower of that Temple and your Eyes survey this glorious valley filled with Cities & village occupied tens of thousand of the Latter day saints, you will then Call to mind This visitation of Presidet Young & his Company. You will say that was in the day when Presidets B[enson?] & Maugn presided over us. That was the day when Presidet Young & the Apostles were with us. That was before New York was destroyed by an Earthquake. It was before Boston was swept into the sea by the sea heaving itself beyond its bounds. It was before Albany was destroyed By fire. Yea at that time you will remember the scenes of this day. Treasure them up & forget them Not.

    President Young followed and said what Br Woodruff had said was revelation and would be fulfilled. (Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, Vol. 8, p.246-248, see also Deseret News, Vol. 33, page 678 where part of this was also published).

  4. grindael says:

    So much for the “authority” of Mormon Prophets. Jo Smith also said that if he didn’t speak the truth, that “it becomes my duty to renounce all further pretensions to revelations, inspirations, or to be a Prophet; and I should be like the rest of the world—a false teacher”. (King Follett Discourse, 1844)

    Not only was Smith a false teacher, but all that followed him fall into that category, for the “authority” of the “priesthood” didn’t help to make their statements come true. They were wrong. They were wrong about all of it, and true Christianity continues to grow and fill the earth, as Jesus said it would. He wasn’t speaking of a Corporation that panders to itself, but of a movement of love that would engulf the earth, and those that “had ears” would “hear” and embrace it. His Gospel has transcended all the traditions of men, and will continue to do so until the King comes to claim the earth as His own.

  5. Mike R says:

    Mormon apostles claim that Jesus’ church and the gospel His original apostles preached
    was altered and changed to the extent that it was no longer available on the earth , hence
    it was supposedly re-established 1n 1830 by God through Mormonism’s first prophet .
    Mormon authorities have attempted to prove that their church is the same church with the
    same gospel that we find Jesus had inaugurated after His resurrection , and which is recorded
    in the New Testament . But though it shared some aspects with Jesus’ church when it was first
    established in 1830, the Mormon church led by it’s apostles proceeded to produce doctrines
    that would clearly relegate it to what Paul warned of in Gal. 1:7-9 and 2Tim 4:1-5 . When all
    the finger pointing by Mormon leaders at those in other churches is done we then notice
    that it is guilty of many of the same accusations . True believers in Jesus are scattered over a
    wide area, they are not identified by the title over the door of the building they gather in , but
    rather in embracing the simple core truths of God’s word in the Bible , particularly the New
    Testament . Jesus’ gospel of salvation has been available for 2000 years now , it’s truths
    did’nt need to be “re-established ” in the early 19th century by some prophet —-Matt 24;11,24.

  6. Mike R says:

    Mormon apostle Jeffery Holland claims that the Mormon church is as the New Testament
    church was in it’s purity, it being the same Church that Jesus established 1900 years ago .
    He claims no connection to any body of believers in Jesus centuries after Jesus’ original
    apostles had died off. I agree that our focus should be on the New Testament , the teachings
    of the apostles contained therein are a safe anchor for all who would consider Jesus. So the
    question becomes : is Mormonism the true church of Jesus Christ today ? and have it’s apostles
    actually been directed by Jesus to preach His Gospel of salvation as was done 1900 yrs ago ?
    Mormon leaders have claimed that shortly after the death of Jesus’ original apostles that
    apostasy set in , that His gospel was distorted and then soon became unavailable on earth , it
    was then re-established in 1830 by God thru Joseph Smith . So what I did at one time was to
    compare the teachings of Jesus’ apostles in the N.T. concerning God and Jesus and what
    was required for a person to receive a right relationship with God , I then looked at what
    Mormonism’s first apostles taught about these doctrines . The last of the N.T. writings
    were up close to the beginning of the 2nd century , the sermons by the first Mormon apostles
    spanned a time up close to the beginning of the 20th century ( give or take a few years ) . So what
    do we find coming from the pen of Mormon apostles that they preached and published for all
    their flock to receive as ” of the Church as it was in its N.T.?

  7. Clyde6070 says:

    Christians from all denominations are united in the Spirit as one body of believers. In that unity we act together to take the amazing truth of one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father over all to those who do not yet know Him and are not yet joined with us in this astonishing, God-given unity of the Spirit.
    This is a very interesting comment. I did not realize this about how christians see themselves. I like watching this in action when I see videos of preachers criticizing calvinism or arminianism. Or the westboro baptist church and James the preacher screaming at each other. Oh but I guess you can probably say they weren’t showing good Christian values or they weren’t united in the spirit. Sound like a cop out to me. Sorry if I offend you.

  8. falcon says:

    This is another one of those red herrings that Mormons would add, “therefore the Mormon church is true.” I know, there is no logic behind the statement but Mormons connect just about anything to the idea of the restoration of the “true” gospel.
    Really, when I look at this “unity” indictment I do a big “SO WHAT!”. First of all I’d like to point out that at last count there are about one hundred different off-shoots of Mormonism all with a prophet that has the real message and the real restoration. We can’t even get the Mormons who blog here to agree on who the Mormon god is or to clear up any number of issues in Mormonism.
    There’s a couple of ways to look at “unity”. One, which is very obvious, is how well people get along with each other. I would remind the readers that our collective gene pool is pretty messed up since the fall. We have a sin nature and quite often demonstrates our core by how we act towards others. This type of “unity” is not only difficult to achieve but I’d say impossible.
    The second kind of “unity” deals with theological points of view and opinions regarding doctrine. I would like to point out that Mormons can’t even achieve unity within their own particular sects. The SLC version of Mormonism can’t even achieve “unity” between their prophets of various eras. One of the reasons their are so many different sects of Mormonism is because they have no “unity” on very fundamental issues.
    It has been pointed out endlessly on this blog that their are some very basic doctrines of the Christian faith that achieve “unity”. After that we have a lot of opinion. I find that stimulating and not negative at all.

  9. Rick B says:

    You say, I dont see unity, I see all these people yelling and screaming, and I see problems.

    Here is your problem, You dont know your Bible and dont care. If you read the Bible you would see that the Bible says, The Devil can come as an Angel of light to deceive people, you read the Bible saying their will be ravenous wolves coming from with in our own ranks to destroy us, You will read that people will have their faith ship wrecked, and that the wheat and tares will look alike and grow up together.

    So what do we do about this you may ask? Well I know you would not ask and do not care, but for those who do, we look at the fruit as the Bible tells us, We will know if we are believers by our love and things we do. If I keep lying and stealing then I must not be a true believer. If I teach false doctrine then I must be a false prophet.

    Clyde, It’s really simple, look at the fruit, is it good fruit or is it rotten? If you choose either good or bad, then what do you base it upon? You will say your prophets are producing good fruit, and we say it is rotten. How do we know? We base it upon Gods holy word and the actions of the people.

    Did JS lie, cheat and steal? Yes he did. So he must not be trusted. Did Jesus lie, cheat or steal? No He did not, I trust Him with all the evidence He provided over JS who cannot keep his story straight and the ever changing story of the Mormon prophets.

  10. Mike R says:

    Falcon, you said, ” This is another one of those re herrings that Mormons would add,
    ‘ therefore the Mormon church is true ‘ ” . That is so true . Mr Holland, the Mormon
    authority that Sharon cites in this thread seeks to convince his listeners that the Mormon
    church is the actual church of Jesus Christ which was exterminated from the earth shortly
    after the death of Jesus’ original apostles , but then supposedly restored in 1830 thru
    Mormon prophet Joseph Smith . Thus Mr. Holland claims that the Mormon church
    is that same church today as he states , the same ” as it was in it’s New Testament purity.”
    One of Mormonism’s original apostles summed up his church’s claim succinctly when he said;
    ” The same gospel which was preached by Jesus and by His apostles has been delivered unto
    us through Joseph Smith, the Prophet of the living God, and the keys and powers pertaining
    to that Gospel and priesthood are now resting upon brother Brigham Young…” [ Heber C.
    Kimball, JofD. v.5, p. 7 ] . This bold claim is’nt unique because many “modern-day” prophets
    seek to convince people that they have a connection with the same gospel of salvation that
    Jesus’ original apostles preached, it bolsters their message. So upon examining the teachings
    of the original Mormon apostles , men who also claim Jesus personally appointed them to teach
    His spiritual truths, we some similarities to the gospel of salvation as preached by Jesus’ apostles
    but sadly too many aberrant teachings as they strayed from the truth and ” taught for doctrine
    the commandments of men ” .

  11. falcon says:

    I’ve always thought this concept of “unity” was phoney. It’s a lot like the idea of “love”. I like what Jesus had to say about it……………….how’s that for arrogance on my part? However I’ve seen the twin concepts of “unity” and “love” used in crooked ways in religious circles to sweep problems under the rug or manipulate people.
    In First Corinthians 11:18-19 Paul makes the startling statement “……I hear that divisions exist among you; and in part, I believe it. For there must also be factions among you, in order that those who are approved may have become evident among you.”
    OK take a shot at what that means. Context and the entire cannon of Scripture needs to be considered when getting at the meaning of a single text. Prior to the above verses’ Paul writes, “But in giving this instruction, I do not praise you, because you come together not for the better but for the worse”.
    I think the point is that divisions, disagreements and arguments existed in the first century Church. Galatians 2:11-14 provides an example of this with Peter and Paul as does Acts 11:1-3 with Peter and those of the circumcision. Finally look at Acts 15:36-41.
    In conclusion, this idea of “unity”, as it’s being applied by Holland is way off base.

  12. falcon says:

    It must be pointed out that if Mormonism wants to be considered a Christian religion and if Mormons want to be considered Christians, then they are contributing to the disunity of the faith.
    Starting with the nature of God, the person and work of Jesus and the doctrine of the Holy Spirit, Mormonism attacks the unity of the Body of Christ. Joseph Smith used attacks on the Body of Christ and the Christian faith in an attempt to justify his own created form of Christianity.
    He stepped away from orthodoxy to “progress” to a different view of God, making the Mormon god an exalted man. He taught that men could become gods and that the pathway to deification of man, was the practice of polygamy. He declared Christian denominations in league with the devil and portrayed Christian ministers as hired hands of the devil.
    It doesn’t seem that Joseph Smith was too interested in the unity of the Christian faith. Despite his claims, Joseph Smith couldn’t even hold his own group together and the final straw was his attack on the printing press of a former member who dared to expose (Smith’s) lies and deceit.

  13. Mike R says:

    Mr. Holland’s opinion on the defectiveness of all other churches and their members is seen
    in his commentary of some verses in Eph. ( 2:22;4:5). These particular allegations of his
    are similar , but somewhat kinder, than the usual finger pointing that Mormon leaders engage
    in when describing all other churches : the usual mantra of citing Joseph Smith’s supposed
    visit with God when He told Joseph that ALL churches were wrong, ALL their creeds were an
    abomination and those professors were ALL corrupt. Mormon apostles like Mr. Holland have
    not been silent when it comes to declaring the defectiveness of all other churches . While
    granting that not everything that those in other churches teach is wrong , inaccurate , still the
    vital doctrines these churches embrace are said to be only the doctrines of uninspired men
    whose teachings are the product of their own ideas , ” the precepts of men” , and not from
    God because they are not stable , not certain , they have not come through God’s sole
    authorized channel of communication to mankind—Mormon priesthood leaders.
    All this , like much of what Mormon leaders advertise as a way to make themselves stand above
    all others who profess to love Jesus and seek to follow Him , are the way others are portrayed.
    It’s all carefully crafted to portray the Mormon Church as the only true church with the only true
    unity because supposedly all other churches constitute another ” church” —the church of the

  14. falcon says:

    I’d like for once, for a leader like Holland to prove that what Mormonism teaches, is first century Christianity. There is no record of Mormonism any where before Joseph Smith decided to start his own religion. As we know, he started out fairly conventional in his beliefs regarding the doctrine of God and then went off the deep end. He incorporated a lot of ideas from other sources including Free Masonry, of which, he was a member.
    So this idea of “unity”, like I wrote in a previous post, is a Mormon red herring as is the idea of a “restored” gospel.
    The Book of Ephesians is a good place to look at the concept of “unity”. As Paul writes it, unity was a goal. Something to be achieved. Paul talks at length about the offices of the NT church including apostle, prophet, evangelist, teacher and pastor. He goes on to say that the purpose of these offices is to have people fill them who would train the disciples until unity would be achieved. Paul wanted the believers to grow-up in the Spirit, to mature in Christ.
    Unity will come in full when Jesus returns. Until then, we’ll just stumble along doing the best we can, as imperfect as we are. As we learn to yield to the Spirit of God, we are transformed, built up and push on toward spiritual maturity.
    Like the wise and foolish virgins, some people have oil in their lamps while others don’t. The oil, I believe, is emblematic of the Spirit of God. The Bride of Christ will be made ready to meet the Bridegroom. The Bride will achieve unity when joined to the Bridegroom.

  15. Mike R says:

    Falcon, Mormonism claims to be the same church , and with the same gospel as Jesus’
    original apostles established and preached , but you’re right they certainly don’t . By and
    large some of what Mormon leaders have said about why they reject all other churches
    as being unworthy to be called Jesus’ church and possess Jesus’ gospel , is also true about
    the Mormon church. If we lump every organization in this country that calls its “Christian”
    then we do see significant problems , but if we look at those churches that still believe that
    the Bible is necessary to anchoring their beliefs about God , Jesus , the need to be reconciled to
    God , etc , then there is substantial unity. I experienced this years ago when I attended a Billy
    Graham crusade , there were dozens of denominations , all with minor differences, but unity in
    the fundamental doctrines , all there for the purpose to praise and worship God and see those
    they invited surrender their lives to Jesus. It seems that Mormonism tries to down-play this
    type of mass unity so thanks for sharing some great facts about what the N.T. says about this.
    I think that those points need to be remembered by all when we talk about Christian unity .

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