Assembly of God Church Statement on the LDS or Mormon Church
Is Mormonism Christian?
By James R. Spencer
Notice that the title of this article is not "Are Mormons Christians?" That is a somewhat different question. No one can see into the human heart but God. No one but God is qualified to judge hearts. But, does Mormonism teach a consistent biblical doctrine — a Christian doctrine? That is an important question because we can judge the teachings of an organization. And we must do so if we are to faithfully discharge our responsibilities as Christ’s disciples.
Mormonism, throughout its 170-year history, has always found itself toe-to-toe with the larger body of Christian believers. Today, the Mormon Church fields some 60,000 missionaries whose job it is to bring people into membership — to baptize them not merely into Christ, but into Mormonism. That is why most evangelical denominations are on record denouncing the doctrines of Mormonism. The late Walter Martin, the father of the modern anti-cult movement, called Mormonism a collection of "garbled doctrines masquerading as Christianity."
Those are strong words. Christians do not make such statements out of rancor, jealousy or ill will. They are simply facing up to their responsibility to challenge Mormonism’s erroneous doctrines. They do so because this religion teaches false ideas about the nature of God and man and about the way of salvation.
nature of God vs. the nature of man
The most important, distinctive and defended doctrine of Mormonism can be summed up by the famous couplet of Mormon President Lorenzo Snow (president from 1898-1901). This couplet can be recited by every moderately knowledgeable Latter-day Saint (as Mormons call themselves): As man now is, God once was; As God now is, Man may become.
Any Bible-savvy Christian recognizes this statement as patently unbiblical. Not only is it unbiblical, it is of paramount importance. Such a teaching blurs the distinction between the almighty, self-existent God and the creatures He has made. Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, claimed, "Man is coequal with God himself."1 Smith taught – and his successors have maintained – that there are many gods in the universe. He told his congregation: "You have got to learn how to be Gods yourselves … the same as all Gods have done before you … until you are able to dwell in everlasting burnings and to sit in glory."2
Joseph Smith’s most noted successor, Brigham Young, remarked, "Man is King of Kings and Lord of Lords in embryo."3
This pervasive teaching about the godhood of man is called, in Mormon theology, the doctrine of eternal progression. Mormon theology says Mormon men will one day rule over their own worlds as gods. This doctrine is foreshadowed in Smith’s version of the creation of the earth: "In the beginning, the head of the Gods called a council of the Gods; and they came together and concocted a plan to create the world and people it."4
Man, according to Smith, is himself self-existent with God; man’s intelligence is coequal with that of God: "The mind or the intelligence which man possesses is coequal with God himself."5
authority is it?
Mormonism teaches that authority to act for God on the earth is found only in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Only in the Mormon Church is the "Priesthood" found.
Mormon doctrine states that Jesus Christ bestowed a priesthood upon the original 12 apostles, a priesthood that eventually was lost from the earth. When that happened, Christ’s church supposedly ceased to exist on the earth. This, of course, is contrary to Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 16:18: "And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."
Smith claimed that John the Baptist and the apostles Peter, James and John visited him and conferred upon him two priesthoods so he could restore authority to the earth. This was essential, he said, because without this priesthood man cannot conduct any legitimate ministry. Neither Protestant nor Catholic clergy can conduct the Lord’s Supper or Communion. They cannot baptize anyone in a way God will accept, because they do not hold the Mormon priesthood.
The idea of Mormon priesthood is nowhere found in the New Testament. The Book of Hebrews goes to great lengths to explain that God’s priesthood was finalized in Christ. Everyone who is a child of God has bold access into God’s presence through one Priest, Jesus Christ (Ephesians 3:11,12).
Every blood-bought child of God is equal in power and authority to every other in the kingdom of God: "But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God" (John 1:12,13).
Mormon doctrine teaches that there are at least three heavens. Everyone (with a few notable exceptions) who lives on the earth will go to one of these magnificent heavens when they die, regardless of their faith in Christ or whether they lived godly or evil lives.
On the other hand, the atonement of Christ, in Mormonism, is not enough in itself to bring men and women into the presence of God. Mormonism teaches that Christ’s death only bought resurrection for mankind — for all men and women — but their ultimate destiny in one of the three heavens is totally dependent upon their obedience to the laws of Mormonism. And only those who fulfill all of Mormonism’s laws are able to be in the presence of God the Father.
Mormonism also teaches that people who die without hearing the Mormon message get another chance to do so in a place called "Spirit Prison." This is an afterlife realm that is neither heaven nor hell. While they are imprisoned there, they can receive Mormon missionaries and decide to accept Mormonism. If they do so, they must wait for someone on earth to be baptized for them in one of the Mormon temples. Here, thousands of schoolchildren are baptized repeatedly, "for and on behalf of" people who are dead. The dead people in Spirit Prison can accept the baptism and begin their journey toward Mormon heaven.
Proxy baptisms are not the only temple work done for dead people. Other washings, anointings and ceremonies are done in the temples for the dead. That is what drives Mormon genealogical research. Names of dead people are collected from all over the world so that baptisms and other temple ceremonies can be performed on their behalf.
The Mormon Third Article of Faith states: "We believe that through the atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel." (That is, the Mormon Gospel.)
"Faith without works is dead" (James 2:20) is often quoted by Latter-day Saints. To Christians this verse means that since good works must flow out of living faith, a life without obedience demonstrates that a person does not possess such faith. In Mormonism, however, obedience to laws and ordinances eventually buys access into the higher kingdoms of heaven.
Mormon salvation theology, like the Mormon explanation of the nature of God, clearly contradicts the Bible on every hand. But Mormon founder Joseph Smith had a solution for that – he produced three new books of Scripture and disparaged the Bible.
"We believe," the Mormon Eighth Article of Faith declares, "the Bible to be the word of God, as far as it is translated correctly … ." With this statement, Mormonism — from its earliest days — undermines the authority of the Bible. Early Mormon scholars went out of their way to declare the Bible unfit, damaged, mistranslated and dangerous. The Book of Mormon, on the other hand, is "the most perfect book on the face of the earth, singularly without error."
Orson Pratt, the cream of early Mormon scholars, in denigrating the Bible, asked: "What evidence have [Protestants] that the book of Matthew was inspired by God, or any other of the books of the New Testament? … [the books of the Bible] have been mutilated, changed, and corrupted in … a shameful manner … . Who knows that even one verse of the whole Bible has escaped pollution?"6
In the final analysis, Mormonism is an original, invented religion, born of the mind of Joseph Smith, who is responsible for the spiritual seduction of millions of people. To the world, Mormonism sells itself as the friendly Christian church down the street, but in reality it is no closer to biblical Christianity than Hinduism or Islam.
The goals of Mormonism, however, remain unchanged. It desires to turn Protestants and Catholics, Evangelicals and Pentecostals, into Mormons. It seeks to introduce them to what the Bible calls another gospel, another spirit, and another Jesus (2 Corinthians 11:4).
James R. Spencer is a minister and author of seven books on cults, the occult and secularism. He lives in Boise, Idaho.
1 History of the Church, vol. 6, pp. 310-312.
2 Journal of Discourses, vol. 6, p. 4.
3 Journal of Discourses, vol. 10, p. 223.
4 Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Section Six, 1843-44, p.349.
5 Journal of Discourses, vol. 6, p.6.
6 Orson Pratt’s Works, "The Bible Alone, an Insufficient Guide," pp. 44-47.
©1999-2008 General Council of the Assemblies of God
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. When most Christians think about the members of this group, they do not have positive thoughts. Mormons are not seen as people to be reached with the true gospel. Instead, most believers think of them as a lost cause … people with an unusual belief system to be avoided at all costs.
When Mormon missionaries arrive at our doors few Christians take the opportunity to give them a loving presentation of God’s plan of salvation.
Nineteenth-century evangelist Dwight L. Moody had already had a degree of success in reaching sinners when something happened that would transform his ministry and make him one of the most effective soul winners to ever walk the face of the earth. He invited Henry Moorhouse, a converted English pickpocket, to preach in his church. Moorhouse preached several times, always using the same text, John 3:16: "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
Moody, whose message had been of a vengeful God ready to cut the sinner down if he didn’t repent, was touched deeply. "This heart of mine began to thaw out," he said. "I could not keep back the tears." Moody’s message changed to a God of love in pursuit of the sinner running away from Him. After that Moody would be known as "the Apostle of Love."
Christians who encounter Mormons today can profit from this lesson. It is not for us to determine when someone is beyond God’s reach. Mormons, though trapped in a false belief system, certainly are not beyond reach. Neither are they deserving of our scorn. He who has a love for lost souls must love them.
The Mormons at your door should not be seen as a threat, but as an opportunity. If the thought of talking to a Mormon disturbs you, do this: Pray that God will give you a love for them!
If you love them, then when you face them you will respond differently. Christians should be informed and prepared to defend their faith. That’s one of the reasons for this issue. But a visit with a Mormon need not be a debate. There are two things that every Christian can effectively deliver to any Mormon who crosses his or her path: Christian love and a personal testimony. In a loving way, share how Jesus is real in your life. Just like Moody, we will win more when our hearts thaw and we love the lost.
– Ken Horn
©1999-2008 General Council of the Assemblies of God
The Religion of Mormonism (The Priesthood: Mormonism's Foundation)
By Kerry D. McRoberts
According to Mormonism's founder, Joseph Smith, Jr., on May 15, 1829, John the Baptist descended from heaven to confer the Aaronic priesthood upon himself and Oliver Cowdery.1 At the same time, John the Baptist allegedly promised that in "due time" the apostles, John, James, and Peter, would soon cross over from the immediate presence of God and bequeath the Melchizedekian priesthood to the Mormon prophet and his scribe.
Today, as the heirs of their prophet's priestly order, the Latter-Day Saints claim exclusive possession of the Aaronic and Melchizedekian priesthoods. The significance of this to the Mormon Church cannot be underestimated:
"And without the ordinances thereof, and the authority of the priesthood, the power of godliness is not manifest unto men in the flesh; for without this no man can see the face of God, even the Father, and live."2
"The Melchizedek priesthood holds the right of presidency, and has power and authority over all the offices in the church in all ages of the world, to administer in spiritual things."3
The possession of these two priesthoods not only extends to the Mormon Church exclusive authority to minister "in spiritual things," but the whole of the Latter-Day Saints edifice is founded upon this very claim: "All other authorities or offices in the church are appendages to this priesthood."4
Hebrews vs. Mormon Claims
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints stands or falls on the basis of their exclusive claim to the Aaronic and Melchizedekian priesthoods. Does the Mormon Church legitimately (i.e., biblically) possess these two priesthoods as they claim?
Brigham Young, Joseph Smith's successor as prophet and seer of the Mormon Church, invites inquirers into the claims of Mormonism to: "Take the Bible, compare the religion of the Latter-Day Saints with it, and see if it will stand the test."5 Nineteen centuries before the founding of Mormonism, the divinely inspired author of the Book of Hebrews addressed the challenge of Brigham Young.
In Hebrews 7:7-10, the Scripture clearly distinguishes the superiority of the Melchizedekian priesthood over the Aaronic priesthood. Why? Because Abraham, the father of Levi, paid tithes to Melchizedek, the priest of Salem (see Genesis 14:18-20).
Hebrews continues: "If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of it the law was given to the people), why was there still need for another priest to come—one in the order of Melchizedek, not in the order of Aaron? For when there is a change of the priesthood, there must also be a change of the law" (7:11,12).6 The word perfection (Greek teleiosis) means "to make perfect in the moral sense,"7 i.e., the Aaronic priesthood was unable to provide propitiation for human sin "because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins" (Hebrews 10:4). Therefore, "a change" is required in both the Aaronic priesthood and the Law (the Greek word translated change [metatithemi] refers to "a change from one state to another—change, transformation").8
At the moment of Christ's sacrificial death, "the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom" (Matthew 27:51). This signified the "change" or absolution of the Aaronic priesthood, for by faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ, all who believe now have access to God the Father (see 1 Peter 2:9; Revelation 1:6). By claiming to possess the Aaronic priesthood, this sinister cult rejects the "once for all" atoning death of Jesus Christ.
Our Lord was not a descendant of Levi but rather Judah (Hebrews 7:14). And, therefore, He is our Great High Priest, not on the basis of His ancestry but on the basis of His "indestructible life" (Hebrews 7:16). Thus, He is "a priest forever, in the order (Greek, taxis)9 of Melchizedek" (Hebrew 7:17). And because He "lives forever, he has a permanent (Greek, aparabaton) priesthood" (Hebrews 7:24). Aparabaton appears only here in the New Testament and means, "without a successor; permanent, unchangeable."10 The priesthood of Jesus Christ is nontransferable "because he always lives" (Hebrews 7:25).
The Mormon claim to the Melchizedekian priesthood is a subtle, demonically inspired (1 Timothy 4:1) denial of the bodily resurrection, ascension, and deity of our Lord Jesus Christ.
May God's forgiving grace turn Mormons from their destructive teachings to Jesus Christ who "is able to save completely (Greek, panteles, meaning, "forever, for all time")11 those who come to God through him" (Hebrews 7:25).
Kerry D. McRoberts is pastor of Kings Circle Assembly of God, Corvallis, Oregon.
Doctrine and Covenants, sections 13 and 27. The Mormon Church considers The Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and The Pearl of Great Price to be inspired revelations of God equal to the Bible.
Ibid., section 84:21,22. It is noteworthy that this "revelation" was not received until 1829, 9 years after Joseph Smith, Jr., claimed his vision of the Father and the Son as a 15-year- old boy in the spring of 1820. How was it possible for Joseph Smith to look upon the face of God and live without the priesthood?
Ibid., section 107:8. The racist history of the Mormon Church is most evident in their historic claims that black men are to be restricted from joining the priesthoods (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 476- 477). The double-minded god of the Mormon Church is continually concerned with the Mormon image. Therefore, Spencer Kimball, the then president and prophet of the Mormon Church, claimed to receive a "revelation" on June 9, 1978, that would apparently rescind previous "revelations,"—allowing for the entrance of black men into the Mormon priesthood. (See Walter Martin, The Maze of Mormonism, chapter 6, "Mormonism's Racism," 150, for a thoroughly documented discussion of the racism of the Mormon Church historically.)
Doctrine and Covenants, section 107:5.
Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, 6:46. It must be stressed that Young professed: "I have never yet preached a sermon and sent it out to the children of men, that they may not call scripture," Ibid., 13:95.
Scripture quotations are from the New International Version.
Johannes P. Louw and Eugene A. Nida, eds., Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (New York: United Bible Societies, 1989), 88.38.
Mormons attempt to point out that Jesus Christ belongs to an "order" of priests of which they are heirs through their prophet. However, the word translated order is better understood as "nature, quality, manner, condition, appearance," Bauer, Arndt, Gingrich, and Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago, Ill.: The University of Chicago Press, 1979), 804. Melchizedek mysteriously appears in Scripture as one without origins or end to his life (Genesis 14:18-20) and he is thus a fitting type of our Lord, (Hebrews 7:11) who is himself the "Alpha and Omega" (Revelation 1:8).
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