Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Book of Mormon and Latter Day Saints

I recently had the opportunity to visit with some Mormons that came to my home.  We met for about an hour on three different occasions, and that experienced challenged me to learn more about their beliefs.  I'm sharing that experience and what I learned to help anyone else that may some day have a similar experience, or that perhaps have friends that are Mormon.

If I had to sum up what I took away from that experience and the concept that I want to share the most with others concerning that matter, it is this:  The 66 books of the Christian Bible are all that one needs. (PERIOD)

Anything added later, such as the Book of Mormon, is just that "something added later" and, therefore, it should not be considered part of the inspired, infallible, authoritative Word of God.  Put another way, God did not "forget" to put it all in the first time!  We, therefore, do not need "Latter Day Saints" to give us additional revelations from Jesus Christ.  To do that simply undermines God's omniscience.

Supposedly (and all we have is the word of one person or the whole Mormon system really falls apart), Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon from gold plates which he dug up in a hill in New York in the early 1800's.  Gold plates that, very suspiciously, can not be reproduced: It's awfully convenient for Joseph Smith that the story he told is they were taken and hidden again after he was specially selected to transcribe their contents.  Some common sense about the matter should raise substantial suspicion.  Unfortunately, that’s not so easy from a Mormon’s perspective, because to question things like that would be considered heretical; thus, their relationship with other Mormon friends and with their own family would be threatened.

The Mormon young men that came to my home were very likable, and I believe there is a lot that Christians can learn from Mormons.  My experiences by visiting with those that came to my door as well as knowing some Mormons through various community activities have always been positive.  I have found that Mormons have strong moral values, are eager to help people, and that they show a kindness and gentleness that many of us could imitate.  Moreover, when I pressed the young men that visited with me, I did not find anything that disagreed with my orthodox Christian beliefs.  I even read the Book of Mormon they left with me and still didn't find any glaring issues or discrepancies (admittedly I didn't study it diligently).  However, something in my Spirit continued to raise caution, so I did some additional research to find out more...

That's when the problems surfaced, because a lot of the beliefs within Mormonism are not within the Book of Mormon, rather they are within other Mormon literature, such as The Doctrine and Covenants and The Pearl of Great Price.  Unlike the Book of Mormon which is handed to you when they visit your door (in fact giving you a copy of that book is an integral part of their mission), those books are not provided to you.  There is a reason for that, because those books are where the substantial discrepancies exist: like God once being a man; the denial of the Trinity; Jesus having been created and, therefore, "Satan's brother"; various levels of heaven not supported in the Christian Bible; and more. The fact they essentially have a "bait and switch" way of presenting the Mormon gospel in itself should raise suspicion.

Another major problem I discovered is that one must accept Joseph Smith as a prophet to buy into their beliefs.  The Mormons I talked to insisted I “search my feelings” as I read the Book of Mormon.  Feelings, however, are unreliable because they are subjective and for many people are something that can be somewhat “conjured up”.  In fact, Mormons are told that if they are not getting that special "feeling" and "insight" from the Holy Spirit, then they are just not doing it right. I’m sure that is what their missionaries are told if people, like me, give them back their book and explain all one needs can be found within the 66 books of the Christian Bible (not some other book or prophetic visions added centuries later).

Rather than feelings, what we need is something with which to measure  any claims or teachings presented to us.  We have that in God’s Word.  How can we test His Word?  We read in Deuteronomy 18:21-22, "You may say to yourselves, 'How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the LORD?' If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the LORD does not take place or come true, that is a message the LORD has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously.  Do not be afraid of him."

Therein presents a significant problem with Mormonism, as Joseph Smith actually made false prophecies.  (I'm surprised the religion stands after that; but, as noted before, the cultish way in which it is handed down from generation to generation ensures its survival.)  That is, he claimed something would happen "in the name of the LORD" several times, but then it did not!  For example, he prophesied that New York would be destroyed if they "rejected the [Mormon] gospel" (D&C 84:114-115).  By far, New York rejected his Mormonism: and, to date, New York has not been destroyed.  Eventually it will be, along with the rest of the world, but that will be during the end times as explained in many places of the Christian Bible, such as Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21, and Revelation (the real Revelation of Jesus Christ).

Also, for those familiar with Bible prophecy, you know that the Jewish people and the nation of Israel is an integral part of God's plan.  Thus, another suspicious issue with Mormonism is the idea that God, contrary to His previous pattern, suddenly decided to choose "Utah" and/or "Missouri" to be the new "Epicenter" of His plan.  From the perspective of a false prophet, perhaps that oddity holds water; but to anyone that carefully studies God's Word, we see many contradictions within that concept.

I pray that God will open the eyes of people caught in the lies of Mormonism.  As noted earlier, however, I realize that would take great courage for them to do so given its cultish way of dealing with friends and family that defect from their false religion.  If they could break from that bondage and use their gentle zeal for the true Kingdom of God, they could accomplish much.  Meanwhile, if you encounter a Mormon that wants to recruit you into their faith, I hope this brief introduction to the problems of their beliefs will equip you to resist and, if necessary, give you reason to do additional research to counter their false gospel.  

I conclude this article with the powerful words, and warning, Paul wrote in Galatians 1:6-9:

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—  which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ.  But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!  As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!

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1 comment:

  1. I have learned about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints through "Kingdom of the Cults" by Walter Martin and through his "Bible Answer Man" on the radio. I was in the Army in the late 70's when I had a chance to dialog with Lt. Muggelston in the motor pool office at Ft. Ord.
    From that time to the present I have watched Mormonism evolve and change from isolation as the only true Church to working to be accepted as "Christians." Mormon missionaries are sent out to present the "Restoration of the Gospel." As I am sure you experienced this...they focus on the New Testament, then move to how "the gospel" was corrupted. Then they present Joseph Smith as the prophet who was given "the gospel" to be restored to the earth. What is appealing in their presentation is that Church History does show that the hierarchical Church went apostate after the tird century. This seems to support the BoM claim:

    And thus commandeth the Father that I should say unto you: At that day when the Gentiles shall asin against my gospel, and shall reject the fulness of my gospel, and shall be blifted up in the pride of their hearts above all nations, and above all the people of the whole earth, and shall be filled with all manner of lyings, and of deceits, and of mischiefs, and all manner of hypocrisy, and cmurders, and dpriestcrafts, and whoredoms, and of secret abominations; and if they shall do all those things, and shall ereject the fulness of my gospel, behold, saith the Father, I will bring the fulness of my gospel from among them.
    3 Nephi 16:10

    I learned the apologetics approach to deal with them by comparing what they teach over against the Bible. However I found this ineffective. Mormons are trained to expect opposition and that such opposition by anti-Mormons is proof they have the "true gospel." When I moved to Utah and worked with the Baptist Churches planted by Northwest Baptist Mission, Baptist Mid-mission and Continental Baptist Mission, I learned that keeping the focus on God's grace and defining the gospel from the Bible is more effective.
    As to countering their view of Church history I go to Foxe's Book of Martyrs to show there were faithful Chirsitan who opposed the corruption of the gospel of grace to a gospel of works via baptismal regeneration and sacramentalism.
    Two books I would recommend for witnessing are "I Love Mormons" by David Rowe and Speaking the Truth to Mormons With Love by Mark Cares