Saturday, December 08, 2007

Comparing Mormon and Christian Views

I've had several requests for explanations comparing Mormon and Christian theology. Here's a good starter. There are certainly others available online. A key issue in my conversations with LDS members is that they use the same theological terms, but with a different meaning.

I applaud the sincerity and convictions of the Mormons I know. But I believe their sincerity is based on false teaching.

17 comments:

Beth said...

I am so tired of reading that Mormons believe Christ was born as a result of a sexual encounter between the God and Mary. LDS doctrine supports the Bible which says Mary was a virgin.
Protestant Christianity relies on its various interpretations of the Bible. It totally rejects other interpretations. But they ALL deserve consideration.

Beth said...

The belief that anyone who does not accept Jesus in this life is damned, regardless of whether or not they ever HEARD of Jesus, is an insult to a just and loving God.

Kevin N said...

I have Mormon relatives and lived in Salt Lake City for a few years, so I've had a good amount of contact with Mormons. Most of them are very nice people, the sort you would want for neighbors.

I have several basic problems with Mormonism that are serious enough that I have no reservations about considering it to be a non-Christian religion.

1. The God of the Mormonism is nothing like the God of the Bible. The God of Mormonism was once a man who progressed to being a god. To Mormons, our "god" has a God over him, and has not always been God. The God of the Bible exists eternally, the same yesterday, today, and forever.

2. The Jesus of Mormonism is different than the Jesus of the Bible. The Jesus of Mormonism is one of many spirit children born to the father and mother who happen to be the gods of this world (there are other gods and goddesses over other worlds). The Jesus of the Bible is eternally one with the Father and Holy Spirit, not the product of heavenly sexual intercourse.

Does this matter? The true identity of Jesus is crucial. I could name my cat "Jesus" and create a religion in which I worship it, but that would not make my religion Christianity. Why not? Because my cat is not Jesus. Likewise, Mormons may claim to worship "Jesus" but that does not make their religion Christianity, because they have a radically different Jesus.

3. The Book of Mormon has absolutely zero historical foundation. We do not have any manuscripts, and the book describes history in ancient America that simply never happened.

4. The Mormon view of church history is defective. To Mormons, the gates of hell did prevail against the church until Joseph Smith restored the "true" church of Mormonism.

5. More on the Mormons' defective view of history: the early church had none of the things that characterize modern Mormonism: temples, temple rituals, holy underwear. The early church also had none of the things that distinguished 19th century Mormonism: polygamy, all-white priesthood.

Could an individual Mormon be a Christian? I suppose by the grace of God they could. But the overall system has a different God, a different Jesus, a defective set of scriptures, and does not offer the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.

Grace and Peace

Beth said...

Kevin n, Everyone of your points is disputable in scripture. I'd go to the work of finding it all, but it never seems to make a difference. The LDS church is an honorable institution that does much good in the world. Its "fruits" should be enough, but never are.
How sad it is that anyone would turn to a non-Mormon source rather than an active LDS member to learn about Mormonism. The criticism and lies just drag on and on.

Kevin N said...

Beth:

--Did I distort any LDS doctrines?
--Does the LDS church not teach that God the Father was once a man who progressed to godhood?
--Does the LDS church not teach that Jesus pre-existed as a spirit child of God the Father and his wife?
--Can you point to a single reference in the New Testament which indicates they had temples or temple ceremonies?
--Are there any manuscripts of the Book of Mormon?
--Is there any legitimate archeological evidence for anything that is presented in the book of Mormon?

Historical Christianity--as expressed in the ancient creeds, Catholicism, Orthodoxy, and Reformation Protestantism--has often needed correction; it has never been perfect. But there are constant streams that have flowed throughout church history; there is a sense of continuity. The church did not disappear sometime in the first century, and it was not restored by Joseph Smith in the 19th. I am not disputing that Mormons are good people. But I ask the question: "Is Mormonism true?" It cannot be, for it contradicts both the Bible and history.

Beth said...

Kevin N,
1. The true God is in the Bible, but not in the Nicean Creed. I assume you combine the Father, Jesus, and Holy Ghost into one. Therefore, concerning Jesus, physically he is not the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. He was born to Mary as a baby, then became a child, then a grown man. The Bible says Jesus “increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man” (Luke 2:52) (He had a body and you say he doesn’t have one today.) This sounds like change. However, in purpose, he remains the same as he always was.
2. Never, not once in LDS doctrine, will you ever hear that sexual intercourse exists in heaven. This absolutely drives me crazy. It’s only non-Mormons saying this. WE DO NOT KNOW THE PROCESS. We don’t even try to speculate! You are the one bringing sex into heaven, not us. Nor do we believe that Mary was anything but a virgin, in every sense of the word. I wish you could all get past this stupid assumption.
3. There are archeological evidences of the Book of Mormon. There never were manuscripts, it came from gold plates. The gold plates were returned to the Angel Moroni, who was the last person to write in them. However, there are 11 other witnesses besides Joseph Smith who saw and held the plates and signed their names witnessing to the fact.
There are well-researched sources concerning the evidence, but since they are written by a LDS member, you’re probably not interested. It seems non-LDS only prefer non-LDS sources.
If the Book of Mormon is a fake, who wrote it? It was not possible that Joseph Smith wrote it, nor any of his associates. And please don’t say the devil did it. That just insults my intelligence.
4. Perhaps the rock, that will withstand the gates of hell, is actually revelation, and not Peter. (Matt. 16:17-18)
5. No temples in the Bible? What about Solomon’s temple? What did Jesus cleanse by throwing out the money changers? What is your proof that the other things did not exist?
By the same logic, some Christian churches perform baptism by sprinkling. Is this mentioned in the Bible? No, Christ taught us the proper procedure, yet some churches have changed it. Some ministers wear special collars, or robes. Jewish men wear caps. Does it say in the Bible that we should wear crosses or put them on our churches? By the way, where are your apostles and prophets, mentioned in Eph 4:11? And is it possible that parts of the Bible are missing? Yes.

Read about the life of Abraham. How many wives did he have? The priesthood, in the Old Testament, was only given to limited groups. We don’t know the reasons why. We don’t understand the timing. But look back at the typical Protestant congregations before the mid 1900’s. How many black ministers did you see in a white congregation? When Joseph Smith was a candidate for the US presidency, one of his platforms was to abolish slavery. One of the reasons Mormons were run out of the states in the mid-1800’s is because certain states didn’t want their vote to tip to anti-slavery.
So Kevin, yes you did distort some of our doctrine. But join the crowd, it seems we're everyone's favorite target these days.

Beth said...

"Does the LDS church not teach that God the Father was once a man who progressed to godhood?"

Rev. 3:20-22
20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.
22 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

Kevin N said...

Beth,

I don't think I distorted any LDS doctrines. If you look at what I wrote, I never once said anything about Mary or sexual intercourse in heaven. The LDS church speaks of Jesus being the offspring (however that happened) of God the Father and his wife. Is this not true?

Where in the Bible does it say anything about God once being a human, or having a wife?

--"God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind." (Numbers 23:19)
--"Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me." (Isaiah 43:10)
--I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God." (Isaiah 44:6)
--"I am the Lord, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God." (Isaiah 45:5)
--"I am God, and there is no other." (Isaiah 45:22)

The whole idea of eternal progression is a denial of everything the Bible says about God. To use Revelation 3:20-22 for this is a stretch of the imagination.

I'll stick with the ancient creeds, such as the Nicene Creed, which are an accurate summary of what the church believed from the beginning. Even though the word "trinity" is not used in the Bible, the concept is there from Genesis through Revelation. God is one, but He is not a simple God. The eternal God exists as three persons, eternally relating to one another as a complete God. What does the phrase "God is love" mean apart from the Trinity? Nothing. But within the Trinity there has been an eternal expression of love between the persons. God did not have to create humans in order to express His love; He has always been able to express it.

With a god who eternally progresses, however, there are many problems. What if God is still progressing? What if our world is a practice world for him, and he really blows it? What if his love isn't really perfect yet? Or what if he doesn't have the strength to pull it all off in the end?

And how did the whole thing get started? Who was the first "God"?

No, the God of Mormonism is not the God of the Bible. The Jesus of Mormonism is not the Jesus of the Bible.

Written in love,
Kevin N

Kevin N said...

Regarding temples:
--Yes, there was a temple in the Old Testament. Everything that was done in that temple was a picture of what Christ would do on our behalf. Now that Christ has fulfilled all of the temple ceremonies (he is our great high priest, he is the lamb sacrificed in our place, etc.) there is no longer a need for a temple. This is all explained in Hebrews. In the book of Acts, the believers gathered in the temple courts, but they certainly were not allowed in the temple itself. As Paul started churches throughout the Roman Empire, he did not establish temples. The early church did not have temples. They are not a part of New Testament Christianity.

Regarding the gates of hell:
--I didn't say Peter was the rock. The rock is the foundation laid for the church, which is the testimony that Peter gave about Christ. The Mormons say this wasn't a very strong foundation, for it was lost for 1800 years. No, the foundation was sufficient; Christ's church has existed on earth since the time it was established.

Regarding the Book of Mormon and other LDS scriptures:
--Why should I believe them? The Bible (Old and New Testaments) are firmly rooted in history, filled with verifiable historical facts. The Book of Mormon has none of this, no matter what some Mormon "archeologists" say.
--The gold plates don't exist. But manuscripts exist for the "Book of Abraham" which is also in the LDS canon of scripture. Joseph Smith completely mistranslated this Egyptian document.
--You say Joseph Smith could not have possibly written The Book of Mormon. Why not? Your argument is no different than that of a Moslem who says that Mohammad could not have possibly written the Koran.

I'll stick with the Bible, the God of the Bible, the Jesus of the Bible, and the gospel as presented in the Bible.

Beth said...

Kevin,

You wrote, “The Jesus of the Bible is eternally one with the Father and Holy Spirit, not the product of heavenly sexual intercourse.”
Then you wrote, “If you look at what I wrote, I never once said anything about Mary or sexual intercourse in heaven.”

You know, I’ve been down this road too many times. People like you don’t want to learn, you want to smear. You have an agenda to degrade, discredit, and belittle.
You will not receive this kind of treatment in return. LDS people are taught to respect others. Our 11th Article of
Faith says, “We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.”

No, our doctrines don’t agree and we believe we have the truth. Just as you believe you have the truth. I will never understand the evangelical mission of smearing another religion in order to save them.
My brother lives near a chapel of another religion in Utah. As they were building this chapel they ran short of money, so the LDS church gifted them the money to finish their building. We believe in the Golden Rule.

This agenda to smear another religion to make one’s own look better, shows insecurity and is anything but Christlike. The reason I jump into these blogs is that I can’t stand to sit by while the gospel I love, the gospel that has brought me so many blessings, is misrepresented and ridiculed. But I am not going to battle each point with you, because you are not here to learn.

Kevin N said...

Beth,

You are correct, I did refer to sexual relations; I had forgotten. It is a side issue, however. In LDS theology, God was once a man, and Jesus is the offspring of God the Father and his wife. That is not the God and Jesus of the Bible, plain and simple.

Am I smearing Mormonism? I don't think so. One of my goals is to protect my brothers and sisters in Christ who read this dialog from false teaching. It is a Biblical obligation to contend for the truth of the gospel against false gospels with false teachings about God, Jesus, man, and salvation.

Beth said...

An appeal for decency and fairness:

Anyone truly interested in LDS doctrine, please go to lds.org. It's all there, including all of our scripture. And if it's not there, please don't assume we believe it. I've seen too many distortions elsewhere.

In other words, please treat us as you would like to be treated. Thank you.

Steve St.Clair said...

Regarding the meaning of the King Follett discourse;(1) it is not part of the standard works and curriculum of the church, and thus are not part of our doctrine today; (2) There are very different ways of interpreting the what Joseph Smith meant in the King Follett Discourse and the Sermon in the Grove that allow for the eternal existence of the Godhead, and suggest that the Father was TEMPORARILY in the form of a man (just as Christ would later be during his earthly ministry); see the writings of LDS Philosopher Blake Ostler on my blog at this link: http://ldsfocuschrist.blogspot.com/2007/04/lds-thoughts-on-king-follett-discourse.html ; (3) Regarding whether or not God had relations with Mary to conceive Jesus, see EVERYTHING that any LDS Leader has said on the subject for the last sixty years at this link, and ask how you can suggest we believe it: http://ldsfocuschrist.blogspot.com/2007/04/lds-thought-on-how-jesus-was-conceived.html ;
(3) Regarding proofs of the Book of Mormon, the hundreds of Ancient Near Eastern literary parallels found in the book have NEVER BEEN EXPLAINED IN ANY OTHER WAY. Regarding Archeological evidence, 50 years ago, Near Eastern Archeologists and linguiats thought that evidence was plentiful for a civilization in ancient Israel based on people described in the Bible; but today, secularist and agnostic scholars laugh about the Old Testament's lack of physical evidence as you do about the Book of Mormon's.

Richard Mouw, president of Fuller Theological Seminary, suggests to all Evangelicals he knows to (1) let other religions say what they believe, instead of answering for them; and (2) If you compare yourselves with other religions, always compare YOUR BEST with THEIR BEST; not YOUR BEST with THEIR WORST.
Love & Thanks,
Steve St.Clair

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