Does It Stand The Test?
by David C. Novak

"Take up the Bible, compare the religion of the Latter-day Saints with it, and see if it will stand the test." Who presented that challenge? Was it the great evangelist Billy Graham? Was it the well-known author J. I. Packer? Or perhaps, was it John R. W. Stott, the highly acclaimed Bible scholar of our day? To my knowledge, none of these famous men made such a statement. The man who laid forth this challenge was none other than Brigham Young, the second prophet of the Mormon Church. 1 With such a challenge before us, we are logically led to ask, "Are the doctrines of the Mormon Church Biblically founded?" Before we answer this question, however, I need to make it clear that I have no ill will whatsoever against any Mormon personally. Actually, I love them all very much with a love that only God could give. But keep in mind, nevertheless, that real love warns. 2

Now, to deal with this question, we will apply Brigham Young's challenge to three major areas of doctrine:
  • (1) The doctrine of God
  • (2) The doctrine of ChristWho is He?
  • (3) The doctrine of ChristWhat did He do?

*1This challenge is quoted from the journal of Discourses, 26 vols. (Liverpool, England: F. D. and S. W. Richards, Publishers, 1855-1886), 16:46.
2 If you have not yet read the preface to this article, please do so now as it better explains my motivation for researching Mormonism.

Through the comparison of Mormon doctrine and Biblical doctrine in these vital areas, we will be able to establish the fallacy or truthfulness of Mormonism. If truthfulness is found the victor, Mormonism should be accepted and followed by all. If fallacy is concluded, Mormonism should be rejected by true Biblical Christendom.

Comparison 1: The Doctrine of God

The study of this one fundamental doctrine is unquestionably the most important concept of comparison in any two religions. Certainly, one cannot teach an erroneous concept of God and yet claim to be a recipient of His special enlightenment. 3 It is crucial to understand that in order to develop a relationship with God, we must first begin with a correct knowledge of who He is. Even Joseph Smith (the founder of the Mormon Church) maintained that "It is the first principle of the gospel to know for a certainty the character of God . . . ."4 Agreeing with this statement,we will proceed by studying first the Mormon concept of God and then the Biblical concept of God.

The God of Mormonism

Since the time of Christ, Christians have held the view that God is triune in nature (briefly defined as one God manifest in three Persons). The Mormon Church, however, currently rejects this doctrine. Joseph Smith is quoted as saying:
Many men say there is one God; the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost are only one God! I say that is a strange God anyhowthree in one, and one in three! It is a curious organization. . . . All are to be crammed into one God, according to sectarianism. It would make the biggest God in all the world. He would be a wonderfully big Godhe would be a giant or a monster.5

As should be obvious from this statement, the very concept of a triune God would be considered a sectarian notion to Mormonism. What, then, is the Mormon concept of God? Joseph Smith again states:
I have always declared God to be a distinct personage, Jesus Christ a separate and distinct personage from God the Father, and that the Holy Ghost was a distinct personage and a Spirit: and these three constitute three distinct personages and three Gods. . . . we have three Gods anyhow, and they are plural; and who can contradict it?6

3 See Deuteronomy 13:1-5.
4 Joseph Smith, History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 6 vols. (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 197B), 6:305 (hereafter cited as Joseph Smith, History of the Church).
*5 Ibid., 6:476.
*6 Ibid., 6:474.

In this quotation, Joseph Smith presents the current Latter-day Saint teaching of a Godhead comprised of three Gods. To better understand this doctrine, we will want to examine the diagram below.

Diagram 1: Three Persons = Three Gods

This diagram illustrates that the Mormon doctrine of the Godhead is polytheistic, defined as a "belief in or worship of more than one god."7 In a sermon entitled "The Christian Godhead--Plurality of Gods," Joseph Smith made the following comments:
I will preach on the plurality of Gods. I have selected this text for that express purpose. I wish to declare I have always and in all congregations when I have preached on the subject of the Deity, it has been the plurality of Gods. . . . . . . the doctrine of a plurity of Gods is as prominent in the Bible as any other doctrine. It is all over the face of the Bible. It stands beyond the power of controversy. 8

This doctrine of a plurality of Gods is well-known and taught by the Mormon Church today.9
Also present in Mormon theology is the teaching that God, the Father, is ". . . a glorified, exalted, immortal, resurrected Man!"10 Mormon Apostle James E. Talmadge writes:
We believe in a God who is Himself progressive, whose majesty is intelligence; whose perfection consists in eternal advancement a Being who has attained His exalted state by a path which now His children are permitted to follow, whose glory it is their heritage to share. In spite of the opposition of the sects, in the face of direct charges of blasphemy, the Church proclaims the eternal truth: "As man is, God once was: as God is, man may be."11

7 Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary, 1980 ed., s.v. "polytheism."
*8 Joseph Smith, History of the Church, 6:474.
*9 See Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, Inc., 1966), s.v. "Plurality of Gods," pp. 576-577; and Milton R. Hunter, The Gospel Through the Ages (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1958), pp. 107-108.
*10 McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, s.v. "Resurrection," p. 643.
*11 James E. Talmage, The Articles of faith (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1979), p. 430.

Here, from one of Mormonism's most authoritative sources, we find the very center of their beliefs: God, the Father, was once a man who earned, attained, or progressed His way into being a God. In the same way, man may also strive to attain or progress his way into being a God. This doctrine that men can progress to become Gods is known by Mormons as "eternal progression."12Mormons as "eternal progression."'2 Another Mormon author admits that:
Mormon prophets have continuously taught the sublime truth that God the Eternal Father was once a mortal man who passed through a school of earth life similar to that through which we are now passing. He became God an exalted being....
... Elder Orson Hyde, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, said: "Remember that God our Heavenly Father was perhaps once a child, and mortal like we are, and rose step by step in the scale of progress, in the school of advancement; has moved forward and overcome until He has arrived at the point where He now is."13

Should anyone still think that this is not taught by the Mormon Church, consider carefully the words of Joseph Smith:
God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens! . . . I say, if you were to see him today, you would see him like a man in form like yourselves in all the person, image, and very form as a man ....
. . . We have imagined and supposed that God was God from all eternity. I will refute that idea, and take away the veil, so that you may see. . . .
. . . He was once a man like us; yea, that God himself, the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth, the same as lesus Christ did . . . .14

*12 See McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, s.v. "Eternal Progression," pp. 238-239; and Hunter, The Gospel Through the Ages, p. 12. General Authority Milton R. Hunter explains this concept of eternal progression as follows:
"In the first stage, man was an eternally existent being termed an intelligence. . . .
"We do not know how long we lived in this first realm, but it must have been ages and ages. There came a time, however, when we completed our work in that realm and were permitted to go forward in the eternal process of progression.
"The next realm where man dwelt was the spirit world. According to Mormon concept eternally- existing intelligences were clothed with spirit bodies in the mansion of their Eternal Father. . . [They were] born of heavenly parents into that eternal family in the spirit world. . . . There in the spirit world they were reared to maturity, becoming grown spirit men and women prior to coming upon this earth.
". . . Here he receives a physical body and undergoes the experiences of mortality. It is true that when we are born into mortality a veil is drawn over our minds, so that we have forgotten our pre- mortal life....
"Eventually, however, mortal death comes upon all. The eternal spirit goes to the spirit world to await resurrection and judgement. In due time, all will rise from the grave and stand before the judgement seat of Jesus Christ. . . . There some of them will become angels and others priests and kings, or, in other words, Gods" (Hunter, The Gospel Through the Ages. pp. 127-129).
*13 Hunter, The Gospel Through the Ages. pp. 104-105.
*14 Joseph Smith, History of the Church, 6:305. Even more astonishing than this belief that God was not always God is the notion presented by Mormon writer Cleon Skousen. According to Skousen, God has the possiblity of losing His exalted status and is dependent upon us to sustain His power. He writes:
"Through modern revelation we learn that the universe is filled with vast numbers of intelligences, and we further learn that Elohim is God simply because all of these intelligences honor and sustain Him as such. In other words, as God extended His power and influence throughout His great kingdom. He did so by obtaining the voluntary cooperation and support of vast concourses of intelligences.
". . . the Father is actually dependent upon their sustaining influence or honor to accomplish His purposes.
". . . God's 'power' is derived from the honor and support of the intelligences over whom He rules. This is what Lucifer coveted.
". . . His glory and power is something which He slowly acquired until today 'all things bow in humble reverence.' But since God 'acquired' the honor and sustaining influence of 'all things' it follows as a correlary that if He should ever do anything to violate the confidence or 'sense of justice' of these intelligences, they would promptly withdraw their support, and the 'power' of God would disintegrate. . . . Our Heavenly Father can do only those things which the intelligences under Him are voluntarily willing to support Him in accomplishing" (W. Cleon Skousen, The First 2000 Years [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1953], pp. 355-356).

In keeping with their belief that God is an exalted man, the Mormon Church declares that God has a visible body of flesh and bone." Because of His confinement to this body. He ". . . cannot be in more than one place at any one time."16 This flesh-and-bone God is also said to have at least one female counterpart known by faithful Mormons as the "Eternal Mother."17 These "heavenly parents"" are said to reside on (or very near) a planet named "Kolob."19 Together, these physical Gods spend their time producing spirit-children through sexual relations with each other.20

Do we now grasp what the Mormon Church teaches about God and man? Mormonism says that God was not always God and that He earned, attained, or progressed His way into being God. Before He became God, the Father was a man who lived on an earth just the same as we do (having a mother and father and perhaps even brothers and sisters). Man, in turn, can also work or attain or progress his way into being a God. The climactic statement is, of course, "as man is, God once was; as God is, man may be." But is this the God of the Bible?

The God of the Bible

From Genesis to the maps, the Bible reveals the ageless truth that there has never been, nor will there ever be more than one true and living God. While hinted at in the Old Testament, the New Testament reveals
*15 Joseph Smith, The Doctrines and Covenants of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1981), 130:22 (hereafter cited as Joseph Smith, Doctrine and Covenants).
*16Talmage, The Articles of faith, p. 43.
*17 See McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, s.v. "Mother in Heaven," pp. 516-517.
*18 See Gospel Principles (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1979), pp. 10-11.
*19 See McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, s.v. "Kolob," p. 428.
20 Mormonism claims that everyone's spirit pre-existed and was brought into being by the "Heavenly Father" and the "Heavenly Mother." (See Hunter, The Gospel Through the Ages. pp. 98-100.) Since these two both have bodies of flesh and bone, it is commonly held amongst Mormons that a very literal sexual relation was the method through which God "created" these spirit-children.

that this God is triune in nature. We will define the triunity (or Trinity) of God as follows: "Within the nature of the one God there are three coeternal and coequal Persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; the same in substance but distinct in subsistence." (The word "substance" should ". . . not be thought of as a common spiritual 'stuff or 'material' out of which three Beings of the same divine nature are produced (as we talk of silver as the substance from which coins may be made). The divine essence is not divided into three: it is fully present in each of the Persons. 'Substance' thus relates to the one Being who is God, rather than to the nature or being of that God."21 "Subsistence," however, describes His mode or quality of existence.) The diagram below helps to visualize the concept of the Trinity.

Diagram 2: Three Persons = One God

Although no diagram is perfect and each will eventually break down, several things are clear: each Person is seen to be God (not a God), each Person is also distinct; but there is nevertheless only one God. We are simply required to accept the fact that while the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are distinct from one another, they are exhaustively one God (II Peter 1:17; John 1:1; Acts 5:3,4; I Timothy 2:5).

While a more detailed study of the triune God would be profitable for us, space simply does not allow for it. Besides, since Mormonism already affirms that each Person in the Trinity is a God, we are not required to prove the deity of Jesus or any other member of the Godhead. That particular issue is not in question. Rather, we need only confirm that the three Persons in the Godhead are only one God and not three Gods as Mormonism teaches.

As should already be clear, the basic difference between Mormonism and Christianity is the difference between polytheism and monotheism. The fact that the historic Judeo-Christian faith has always been monotheistic is clear from the Bible.

21 T. C. Hammond, In Understanding Be Men (Downers Grove: Inter-Varsity Press, 1968), p. 54.

God's Word declares in Deuteronomy 4:35,39 that ". . . the LORD he is God; there is none else beside him. . . . the L ORD he is God in heaven above, and upon the earth beneath: there is none else."

The Prophet Isaiah is quite precise in his declaration of the Deity and quotes Him as saying, ". . . I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God" (44:6).22

Even more devastating to Mormonism, however, is Isaiah 43:10:". . .I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me." Since God plainly states that there would be no God formed after Him, no man will ever (past, present, or future) become a God. Therefore, Mormonism's claim "as God is, man may be" is in direct opposition to God's spoken word. It is not of God.

God also says in Isaiah 44:8, "Is there a God beside me? yea, there is no God; I know not any." Surely, if there are more Gods than one, the God whose "understanding is infinite" (Psalm 147:5) would know about them.23

Biblical monotheism is also supported by the Hebrew text of the Old Testament. The Mormon Church teaches that the Father is a God named Elohim, different from the Son who is another God named Jehovah (see Diagram 1). 24 The Bible, however, uses these Hebrew words inter- changeably in reference to the one true God. Look, for example, at Deuteronomy 6:4: "Hear, Oh Israel: The L ORD [Jehovah] our God [Elohim] is one LORD [Jehovah]." Thus, if these names were to refer to two different Gods (as Mormon doctrine teaches), they could never be used synonymously. Such a misuse of the Hebrew language will lead (or has led in the case of Mormonism) to a seemingly endless number of pitfalls and discrepancies.25

22 Many Mormons have attempted to "explain away" this monotheistic passage by claiming that the word "beside" only means "to my left or to my right." Thus, they argue, God is not excluding the possibility of other Gods; rather. He is simply saying that there are no Gods "to My left or to My right." Such an interpretation, however, is given with complete disregard toward the Hebrew language. According to Young's Analytical Concordance to the Bible, the word should mean "Apart from." (See Young's Analytical Concordance io the Bible. 1970 ed s.v. "beside"; and Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, 1980 ed., s.v. "beside.") With this Hebrew meaning in mind, we can reword the passage to say, "Apart from me there is no God." Therefore, our original interpretation of this verse stands.
23 In addition to these verses discussed on monotheism, I recommend looking up and studying the following scriptures: I Sam. 2:2; II Sam. 7:22; I Chr. 17:20; I Kings 8:23,60; II Kings 19:15; Psa. 86:10; Isa. 37:16; Isa. 45:5,6,18,21,22; Isa. 46:5,9; Mal. 2:10; Mark 12:32; I Cor. 8:4-6; and Gal. 3:20.
To many people's astonishment, the Book of Mormon also teaches that "Christ the Son, and God the Father, and the Holy Spirit . . . is one Eternal God" (Alma 11:44) even clearer than the Bible! For passages supporting the Trinity and God unchanging see Alma 11:22,26-31,35,44; II Nephi 31:21; Mosiah 15:1-5; Moroni 7:22; Moroni 8:18; Mormon 9:9; and the last sentence of "The Testimony of Three Witnesses." ironically, Mormon doctrine is contradicted by its own scriptures!
*24 See James E. Talmage, ]esus the Christ (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1977), pp. 37-40; and McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, s.v. "Elohim" and s.v. "Jehovah," pp. 224, 392.
25 A study of these discrepancies was recently put together by this writer. Those interested in studying this aspect further are invited to write me for more information.
In addition to its clear teachings on monotheism, the Bible also speaks of God as always having been God. The Psalmist writes, "... from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God" (Psalm 90:2). Since "from everlasting" is an all-encompassing statement concerning the past, God could never have been a man. He has always been God!

This same God reveals more of His divine nature as He declares, "I AM THAT I AM" (Exodus 3:14). Expounding on this verse, the famous Christian theologian James Montgomery Boice writes:

"I AM WHO I AM." The name is linked with the ancient name for God, Jehovah. But it is more than a name. It is a descriptive name, pointing to all that God is in himself. In particular, it shows him to be the One who is entirely self-existent, self-sufficient and eternal. . . .
Self-existence means that God has no origins and consequently is answerable to no one. Matthew Henry says, "The greatest and best man in the world must say. By the grace of God I am what I am; but God says absolutely and it is more than any creature, man or angel, can say "I Am That I Am" So God has no origins; his existence does not depend on anybody. 26

Had God once been a man, as Mormonism claims. He would neither be self-existent nor void of a definite origin. Remember now, it is the L ORD who says "I change not" (Malachi 3:6; also see Psalm 102:27 and James 1:17).

Finally, Jesus says, "God is a Spirit . . ." (John 4:24; compare with Luke 24:39), or more precisely, "God is spirit. . ." (New International Version). The real problem with giving God a tangible body is that it limits Him to being in only one place at a time. So how could God say, "Do not I fill heaven and earth?" (Jeremiah 23:24), if he were confined to flesh and bone? The logical answer is that He could not. Therefore, since God has no body, ". . . He is free from all limitations of space and distance, and is omnipresent." 27

While the Mormon view of God is obviously different from the teachings of the Bible, it is interesting to note that this unorthodox view is in almost perfect agreement with much of what is known about ancient Near Eastern mythical thinking. According to one secular textbook on Western Civilization, the following contrast between the Hebrew God and the pagan gods reveals that:

Unlike Yahweh, Near Eastern gods were not eternal, but were born or created; they issued from some prior realm. They were also subject to biological conditions requiring food, drink, sleep, and sexual gratification. . . .
The Hebrews regarded God as fully sovereign. He ruled all and was subject to nothing. Unlike pagan gods, Yahweh's existence and power did not derive from a pre-existing realm. The Hebrews believed that no realm of being preceded 26 James Montgomery Boice, The Sovmign God (Downers Grove; Inter-Varsity Press, 1978), p. 121 27 J.I. Packer, Knowing God (Downers Grove: Inter-Varsity Press, 1973), pg. 109 God in time or surpassed him in power. They saw God as eternal, the source of all in the universe, and having a supreme will. 28
The observant reader will be sure to note the striking parallels between this Near Eastern concept of God and the "Heavenly Father" of Mormonism. Point for point, the two are nearly identical.29 And since a harmony is apparent here, the Mormon God can further be distinguished from the God of the Bible. In fact, we can go as far as saying they are opposites. The Bible teaches that God became man, while Mormonism says that a man became God. We must choose, along with our Mormon friends, either to believe in the Gods of Mormonism or the God of the Bible. That the two are mutually exclusive, no one can disprove.

In honest defense of Mormonism, however, many people ask, "Don't the Mormons believe in Christ?" Although the answer to this question is a "yes," the truth of the matter lies within who Christ is. Perhaps better worded, the question should read, "Is the Christ of Mormonism the Christ of the Bible?"

Comparison 2: The Doctrine of Christ -- Who Is He?
Some time ago, a letter to Christianity Today criticized the statement that Mormonism is "far removed from Christianity." The writer went on to say, "There are many things about the Mormon Church that are divergent from 'mainstream Christianity.' Their belief in Christ, however, is not one of these divergencies." 30

This is yet another example of the pervasive impact of the Mormon Church upon the public mind. Inspired largely by their multi-rnillion-
28 Marvin Perry, Western Civilization, 2 vol. paperback edition (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1981), 1:34. 29 It is interesting to note here that the Mormon writer Milton R. Hunter draws similar parallels between the Mormon concept of God and pagan gods. Hunter makes the following comments:

"The Mystery Religions, pagan rivals of Christianity, taught emphatically the doctrine that 'men may become Gods.' . . . This thought very closely resembles the teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith and of President Lorenzo Snow.
"This religion taught that it was perfectly possible for man, even while living in mortality, to become a god. . . . The worshiper was taught that after he left this mortal life he would 'be brought into the troops of the gods and the souls that have attained bliss.'
"Such teachings as the following appear in the theology of Orphism -- another prominent pagan rival of Christianity; ' "Happy and Blessed One, you shall be God instead of mortal." . . . Thus the initiated, having lived a life of Orphic purity, finally became "God from man".'. . .
"Therefore, during the early part of the nineteenth century, it required divine revelations from God to the Prophet Joseph Smith and other Mormon leaders to restore to mankind in all of its purity and majesty the eternal truth that the goal of human life is that 'men may become Gods' " (Hunter, The Gospel Through the Ages, pp. 110-111, 112).
Here, from an authoritative Mormon source, we find an astonishing admission: the Mormon teaching that men can become Gods (and likewise that God was once a man) is a pagan concept! I wonder if he has thought about the implications of this observation? Is Mormonism pagan?
30This letter is found in Christianity Today. 20 November 1981, p. 17. It was written in response to a parenthetical note found in "Mormons and Scouts: A Happy Mix," Christianity Today, 2 October 1981, p. 70
dollar advertising campaign, the LDS" Church has established credibility even amongst leaders in the Christian community. Despite their glossy public image, however, it will soon be discovered that the Mormon concept of Christ and the Biblical Christ are quite different.

One thing that has made the incarnate Christ unique among men is His supernatural, virgin conception. The Gospel of Matthew records that ". . . a virgin shall be with child . . ." (1:23), and ". . . that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost" (1:20; compare with 1:18). While claiming to believe in a "virgin" birth, Mormon leaders have defined such in terms quite unlike the Bible. Brigham Young explains:

The birth of the Saviour was as natural as are the births of our children; it was the result of natural action. He partook of flesh and blood was begotten of his Father, as we were of our fathers. 28
More recently, the Mormon Apostle Bruce R. McConkie has written that:
God the Father is a perfected, glorified, holy Man, an immortal Personage. And Christ was born into the world as the literal Son of this Holy Being; he was born in the same personal, real, and literal sense that any mortal son is born to a mortal father. There is nothing figurative about his paternity; he was begotten, conceived and born in the normal and natural course of events, for he is the Son of God, and that designation means what it says. "
According to these and other LDS sources, 34 the "virgin" birth is defined as God the Father (with a flesh-and-bone body) having sexual relations with Mary.35 This teaching not only draws a very unorthodox picture of God, but also makes Him out to be an incestuous Being since,
31 LDS" is an acronym for "Latter-day Saint."
32 Young, Journal of Discourses. 8:115.
33 McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, s.v. "Son of God," p. 742.
34 Additional sources include: Young, journal of Discourses. 1:238, 4:218; Herber C. Kimball, journal of Discourses, 8:211; McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, s.v. "Only Begotten Son," pp. 546-547; and OrsonPratt, The Seer (Salt Lake City: Eugene Wagner, Publisher, 1853-1854), pp. 158-159.
35 The young scholar of Utah Missions, Inc.. Rick Branch, makes a most noteworthy observation on this issue. After pointing out that "Mary was espoused to Joseph" (Matthew 1:18; see also Luke 1:27), he goes on to say:

"It is apparent, according to Mormonism, that God the Father committed a physical-sexual act with Mary who had been espoused to Joseph. Thus, God broke one of His own laws, as given in Deuteronomy and therefore, by His own decree, He, God the Father, must die!
"The commandment: of God spoken of states. If a damsel that is a virgin be betrothed unto an husband, and a man find her in the city and lie with her; then ye shall bring them both out unto the gate of that city, and ye shall stone them with stones that they die . . . .' (Deut. 22:23-24, emphasis mine.)
"There should be no confusion about the meaning of the words 'betrothed' and 'espoused' for their meaning is the same in the Bible. The Hebrew word, translated 'betrothed' in Deuteronomy can also be translated 'espoused.' Also, the Greek word translated 'espoused' in Matthew and Luke, can be translated 'betrothed.' (Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, James Strong, Hebrew Section, word #781, p. 17; Greek Section, word #3423, p. 48)
"Therefore, God the Father, having a body of flesh and bone (D & C 130:22), being an exalted man, and having committed the act attributed to him by Mormon theologians, must be stoned to death. If God is to be consistent and follow His own laws as set forth in Deuteronomy, there is no other alternative.

"The Mormon God must die!" (Rick Branch, "Law-Breaking Birth," The Utah Emnyl, December 1983.)
according to Mormon theology, Mary was the daughter of "heavenly parents" in a spirit pre-existence 36 In other words, God has sexual relations with His own daughter! Could this be the Jesus of the Bible?

Another well-known Mormon belief is the idea that Jesus was married. Nineteenth-century Apostle Orson Hyde made the following comments:

. . . Jesus was the bridegroom at the marriage of Cana of Galilee, and he told them what to do.
. . . We say it was Jesus Christ who was married, to be brought into the relation whereby he could see his seed, before he was crucified.37
Their justification for such an interpretation rests upon the assumption that all men must be married to become Gods. Thus, to fulfill His role as a God (so they say). He too must have been married. But the Bible says, "And both Jesus was called [i.e., invited], and his disciples, to the marriage" (John 2:2). So, if Jesus was the bridegroom at this wedding, why would He have to be invited? Is this the Jesus of whom the Scriptures speak?

Still another distinguishing point of Mormon doctrine is the teaching that Christ and the devil are brothers! Not only are we all said to be the literal offspring of God and one of His wives, but also Satan is referred to as ". . . a spirit son of God . . . ."38 Since Jesus is simply". . . the first Spirit Child born to God the Father in [the] pre-existence,"39 Lucifer is likewise the ". . . spirit-brother of Jesus . . . ." 40 Therefore, Mormonism says that Christ and the devil are spirit-brothers.

The Bible, however, teaches us something very different when referencing Christ. The New Testament reveals that ". . . by him [Jesus] were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in the earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or
36 Mormonism teaches that every person who is born on earth is literally a son or daughter of God since their spirits were all born of "heavenly parents." (See Gospel Principles, p. 9.) Mary is therefore one of God's own daughters and is referred to as". . .one of the noblest and greatest of all the spirit offspring of the Father" (McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, s.v. "Mary," p. 471).
*37 Orson Hyde, journal of Discourses, 2:82. Another nineteenth-century General Authority takes this teaching a step further and states:
"The grand reason of the burst of public sentiment in anathemas upon Christ and his disciples, causing his crucifixion, was evidently based upon polygamy, according to the testimony of the philosophers who rose in that age. A belief in the doctrine of a plurality of wives caused the persecution of Jesus and his followers. We might almost think they were 'Mormons' " (Jedediah M. Grant, Journal of Discourses, 1:346).
*38 McConkie. Mormon Doctrine, s.v. "Devil," p. 192.
*39 [bid., s.v. "Firstborn," p. 281.
*40 Hunter, the Gospel Through the Ages, p. 15.
powers: all things were created by him . . ." (Colossians 1:16; compare with John 1:3). Since Satan was (before his fall) created (see Ezekiel 28:13-15) and is now one of these "principalities, or powers" (see Ephesians 6:12), he too had to be created by Jesus. Thus, if Mormonism were true, we are left with a serious problem: how can the Creator (namely, Jesus) be the spirit-brother of His own creation? The obvious answer is that He could not. Apparently, the Jesus of Mormonism is not the Jesus of the Bible.

Already we have seen differences between the Christ of Mormonism and the Christ of the Bible. Further distinctions will be noted as we approach the subject of Christ's redeeming work done for us. What do Mormonism and the Bible have to say here?

Comparison 3: The Doctrine of Christ What Did He Do?
With regard to Christ's redemptive work, Mormon authorities have maintained that:

Christ is our Redeemer and our Savior. Except for him there would be no salvation and no redemption. Unless men come unto him and accept him as their Savior, they cannot have eternal life in his presence. 41
After reading this quotation, it is easy to see how Christians get themselves confused trying to figure out the differences (if any) between Mormonism and the Bible. Many ask themselves, "Where does Mormonism diverge from the Bible on this issue?" Indeed, such a question is worth asking since the quote appears to be in perfect harmony with the Scriptures. And while what the Mormon Church says here is in fact "Biblical," it can be misleading. I say "misleading" because the Mormon Church would like nothing more than to present itself to the public as a conservative, Bible-believing group who would share many of the same beliefs that Christians affirm. Instead of coming right out with any distinguishing doctrines, their advertisements and "evangelistic" literature will deal almost exclusively with superficial items in which there is common agreement. Areas of difference are either quickly glossed over or simply ignored. So, the question remains: "Where does Mormonism deviate from the Bible when we speak of Christ's atonement?" We will examine three fundamental points of difference by continuing our comparison of Mormon theology with the Bible.

The Place of the Atonement
The entire hope of Christianity is that God has reconciled us to Him through the atonement" of His Son and that Jesus lives today. Because

41 What the Mormons Think of Christ (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1982), p. 16.
42 For our discussion, the word "atonement" will simply refer to the event in which Christ shed His blood to redeem us from our sins.

of His work of reconciliation, we have "redemption through his blood" (Ephesians 1:7) and ". . . being now justified by his blood we shall be saved from wrath through him" (Romans 5:9). The scriptures teach that only through Christ's redemptive work is it possible for God to look at us as forgiven (See Romans 3:24-25). Without Christ's having shed His blood, there would be no remission of sins (See Hebrews 9:22).

Since Christ's atonement is the focal point of the New Testament, we need to ask ourselves a basic question: "Where did this mighty act take place?" Traditionally, Christians have maintained that it was on the cross of Calvary that Jesus shed His atoning blood and suffered for our sins. This conviction explains why believers in Christ have, since the first century, held such reverence toward the cross. For them, the cross symbolizes how ". . . we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son . . ." (Romans 5:10).

Unlike Christianity, however, the Mormon Church claims that "In the Garden of Gethsemane, Christ atoned for the sins of all mankind."43 This atonement for sins (they say) was not accomplished at the cross, but rather in Gethsemane where Christ sweat great drops of blood. "In that hour of tremendous anguish, the Savior took upon himself the burden of the sins of the world from Adam down to the end of the world."44 The Mormon writer Milton R. Hunter comfirms this teaching and states:
This intense suffering in Gethsemane can be accounted for by the fact that Christ was going through His last great contest with Lucifer, the son of the morning. In some mystical way He was taking upon Himself the sins of the world . . . ."
As should be clear from the foregoing quotations, Mormonism maintains that "In ihe Garden of Gethsemane Christ suffered for the sins of all man- kind . . . ."46 But is this teaching found in the Bible?

*43 Gospel Principle,, p. 58.
*44 Learn to Obey Gospel, Assist Others to Do Same," Church News. 9 October 1982, p. 19.
*45 Hunter, The Gospel Through the Ages, p. 175.
*46 Gerald N. Lund, "Salvation: By Grace or by Works?," The Ensign, April 1981, p. 19.
Although most Mormons hold fast to the conviction that the atonement occurred exclusively in the Garden of Gethsemane, some Mormon sources have acknowledged that "In the garden and on the cross, Jesus paid the ransom and finished His atoning work" ("Works of Christ Are Shown in Seven Ways," Church News. 9 October 1982, p. 7). A possible explanation for this apparent difference of opinion may be found in a statement made by Mormon President Marion G. Romney. President Romney informs us that Christ suffered ". . . on the cross so that He might gain for us victory over death" and He suffered ". . . in Gethsemane so that we might obtain forgiveness of our sins" (" 'Thou Shalt Thank the Lord Thy God" for All Blessings," Church News, 9 October 1982, p. 14). In other words Christ's death brings us all resurrection (which Mormons call unconditianal salvalwna topic we will approach shortly) while His suffering in Gethsemane brings us forgiveness. In this way then, Christ's death and resurrection can be looked at as a type of atonement for us. Whatever the implications, however, the Mormon Church looks at the Garden of Gethsemane as the place where at least the major portion of the atonement occurred. In fact, Mormons are told to "Mention that Jesus' greatest suffering in making the atonement for mankind occurred in the Garden of Gethsemane, when he took upon himself our sins, which caused him to bleed at every pore. His suffering at that point was even more intense than when he was put to death on the cross" (Temple PreparaHm Seminar Discmsims [Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 19781, p. 18).
The Scriptures reveal that "Christ died for our sins" (I Corinthians 15:3). His atonement was not something that He lived through (as would be the case if it occurred in Gethsemane), "For Christ also died for sins . . . in order that He might bring us to God . . ." (I Peter 3:18, New American Standard Bible). Plainly put, it is Christ's blood shed on the cross that redeems us. Peter picks up on this familiar New Testament theme and writes that Christ ". . .bare our sins in his own body on the tree. . . " (I Peter 2:24). The Apostle Paul also confirms this idea and states that Christ had ". . . made peace through the blood of his cross . . ." (Colossians 1:20). Since Paul knew that our forgiveness was sealed by this work at Calvary, it is no wonder that he says, ". . . I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified" (I Corinthians 2:2).

An interesting point can be made here as we look at the Mormon view toward the place of atonement. As already pointed out, Mormonism teaches that it is through the blood which Christ sweat in the Garden of Gethsemane that forgiveness of sins may come. The Scriptures, however, warn us that ". . . without the shedding of blood [there] is no remission [of sins]" (Hebrews 9:22). It is not the sweating of blood that counts; rather, it is the shedding of blood through which sins can be cleansed. At the cross, we will remember, Jesus' blood was shed through His hands, feet, and side fulfilling this requirement. The Mormon teaching of an atonement through the sweat blood of Christ simply fails to match up with the Biblical criteria.

Already we have uncovered one major distinction between the Mormon view of Christ's atonement and the Biblical view, that being the place of this work. A second area of difference will be brought to light when we look at the extent of His sacrifice. What do Mormon theology and the Bible have to say here?

The Extent of His Work
Both Mormonism and Christianity would agree that Christ's atonement covered a multitude of sins. But does "a multitude" refer to all? In other words, does Christ's work cleanse us from all of our sins or only some? Just how powerful is His atoning blood? In response to these similar questions, Mormonism and the Bible contain differing points of view.

According to Joseph Fielding Smith (the tenth prophet of Mormonism), ". . . there are certain sins that man may commit for which the atoning blood of Christ does not avail."47 This former Church historian goes on to explain
*47 Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols. (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954), 1:133.
Joseph Smith taught that there were certain sins so grievous that man may commit, that they will place the transgressors beyond the power of the atonement of Christ. If these offenses an' committed, then the blood of Christ will not cleanse them from their sins n'en though they repent. Therefore their only hope is to have their own blood shed to atone . . . .48
Ironically, this view contradicts not only the Bible, but also Joseph Fielding Smith himself! Just pages before both of these quotations, this "prophet" maintained that". . .there never was a sin committed that was not atoned for."49 Statements like this one are quite misleading until we discover the truth of the matter. And the truth is, Mormonism teaches that certain sins are unpardonable.

One such sin is said to be murder.50 Yet Paul, prior to his conversion, was the ringleader of Christian persecution and accountable for many of their deaths (see Acts 7:58; 9:1; 22:4). Surely he was forgiven. Why? Because ". . . the blood of Jesus Christ his [God's] Son cleanseth us from all sin" (I John 1:7). Yes, for even the "worst" of sins. His blood cleanses us from all.

Another apparently "unforgivable sin" in Mormon theology is a repeated act of adultery. While the first offense may be pardoned, ". . . if he doeth it again, he shall not be forgiven, but shall be cast out."51 Paul, however, speaks differently on the matter. In his letter to the Corinthians, it is interesting to note that he refers to some of the congregation as being former fornicators and adulterers. The apostle's words reveal:
Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind [i.e., homosexuals], . . . shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed [in the blood of Christ; see Revelation 1:5], but ye are sanctified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. 52

Since Corinth was recognized as a wicked city where sin ran rampant, no doubt these adulterers were more than first-time offenders. Regardless of their wickedness, however, God chose to reconcile these people to Himself through the blood of His Son. Because". . . where sin abounded, grace did much more abound" (Romans 5:20), people who have committed even the worst of sins can experience God's grace and forgiveness. With this cleansing also comes peace and the hope for a new beginning in life. We would be robbing people of any reason to live by telling them that their sin is too great to be forgiven. Sadly, the Mormon system does just that. It is not of God.

48Ibid., 1:135.
49 Ibid., 1:131.
50 Joseph Smith, Doctrine and Covenants, 42:18.
51 Ibid 42:46. See also Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Sahaiion. 2:92-94.
52 I Corinthians 6:9-11.
So far, two points have been examined at which Mormonism differs from the Bible on the issue of atonement. The third and final distinction will be seen when the Mormon "plan of salvation" is compared against the one set forth in Scripture. How does Christ's atonement relate to our forgiveness and eternal life?

The LDS Concept of Forgiveness and Eternal Life
In order to discuss the Mormon concept of forgiveness and eternal life, we must first back up and look at what the Mormon Church has said about the effect of the atonement. According to Apostle James E. Talmage, the effect is twofold:
The first effect is to secure to all mankind alike, exemption from the penalty of the fall, thus providing a plan of General Salvation. The second effect is to open a way for Individual Salvation whereby mankind may secure remission of personal sins. As these sins are the result of individual acts it is just that forgiveness for them should be conditioned on individual compliance with prescribed requirements"obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel."53
Mormonism teaches that general salvation (which is the first effect of the atonement) provides ". . . redemption from the effects of the temporal but not the spiritual fall. 54 This type of salvation ". . . comes by grace alone without works on man's part . . ."55 and ". . . consists in the mere fact of being resurrected."56 "In this sense [, general] salvation is synonymous with immortality . . "57 because "Immortality is to live forever in the resurrected state with body and spirit inseparably connected. "58 Thus, the first effect of the atonement is to provide "immortality" to every man and woman, ". . . whether he be good, bad, or indifferent, for the resurrection from the dead shall come to all."59

Different from general salvation, however, is the Mormon idea of individual salvation (which is the second effect of the atonement). Individual salvation has also been referred to as conditional salvation and ". . . consists in receiving an inheritance in the celestial kingdom of God."60 Achieving this salvation (they say) will merit a person eternal life or exaltation.61 Indeed, "It [eternal life or exaltation] is the salvation which the saints seek. "62
53 Talmage, The Articlfs of Faith, p. 87.
54 McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, s.v. "Redemption," p. 623.
55 Ibid., s.v. "Immortality," p. 377.
56 Ibid., s.v. "Salvation," p. 669.
57 Ibid.
58 Ibid., s.v. "Immortality," p. 376.
59 Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation. 2:4.
60 McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, s.v. "Salvation," p. 669. The "celestial kingdom of God" is the highest of three heavens in Mormon theology.
61 Mormonism teaches that eternal life and exaltation mean the same thing. (See Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 2:8; and McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, s.v. "Exaltation," p. 257.)
62 McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, s.v. "Salvation," p. 670.

Now, with these terms and definitions behind us, we can move on to our proposed topic of discussionthe LDS concept of forgiveness and eternal life. How can a person be forgiven and experience eternal life? And how do we receive Christ's atonement?

Mormonism teaches that:
Christ's atonement makes it possible for us to overcome spiritual death. Although all mankind will be resurrected with a body of flesh and bone, only those who accept Christ's atonement will be saved from spiritual death. We accept Christ's atonement by repenting of our sins, being baptized, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and obeying all of the commandments. In this way we are cleansed from sin and we become worthy to return and live forever with our Heavenly Father. . . . Christ did his part to atone for our sins. Each of us must repent and obey to make Christ's atonement effective in our lives.
. . . Christ's atonement makes it possible to be saved from sin if we do our part."
In a similar tone, another Mormon writer affirms:
The righteous works in themselves do not save us. The atoning power of God saves us. But our righteous works, activated by our faith in the Savior, are the condition for the operation of that power. 64

What the Mormon Church is saying then is that our forgiveness and individual salvation (while supposedly accomplished through Christ's atonement) is conditional upon our obedience to a prescribed set of rules. It is not something we can achieve in and of ourselves, nor is it simply a gift which God gives us. "Rather, it is salvation by grace coupled with obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospe1."65 This idea of a conditional forgiveness is also stressed by the current prophet (as of April, 1984) of the Mormon Church, Spencer W. Kimball. President Kimball writes:
To every forgiveness there is a condition. The plaster must be as wide as the sore. The fasting, the prayers, the humility must be equal to or greater than the sin. There must be a broken heart and a contrite spirit. There must be "sack- cloth and ashes." There must be tears and genuine change of heart. There must be conviction of the sin, abandonment of the evil, confession of the error to properly constituted authorities of the Lord. 66

In a speech he gave nearly thirty years ago at Brigham Young University, President Kimball left the students with the following remarks:
"And so, beloved young people, remember that to obtain forgiveness from the Lord and his Church one must: (1) realize the seriousness of the sin and pray in great humility and sorrow, (2) forsake the sin and not repeat it, (3) confess the sin to the bishop or other Church authority, (4) restore as far as possible that which was damaged, and (5) live all the commandments of the Lord.
"And when he has fasted enough, prayed enough, suffered enough, and when his heart is right, he may expect that forgiveness will come and with it that glorious peace that passeth understanding "67

*63 Gospel Principles, pp. 68-69.
*64 Lund, "Salvation; By Grace or by Works?," p. 23.
*65 McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, s.v. "Salvation by Grace," p. 671.
*66 Spencer W. Kimball, The Miracle of Forgiveness (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft inc., 1969), p. 353.
*67 Kimball, Repeniance Brings Forgiveness, an adaptation of an address given to students at Brigham Young University, 4 May 1954 (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1975),
p. 12.
(Note: the pages are unnumbered as printed, so I have started numbering where the pamphlet begins.)

In this same speech, Kimball urged that "There can be no holding back. If the sinner neglects his tithing, misses his meetings, breaks the Sabbath, or fails in his prayers and other responsibilities, he is not completely repentant." 68 In his eyes, "True repentance does not permit making the same mistake again."69 More recently, Kimball has even suggested that a person (now forgiven) who falls back into a former sin would find his forgiveness revoked!70

Since "The goal of every Latter-day Saint is eternal life or exaltation,"71 we would do well to look further at how this can be accomplished. President Kimball again informs us that eternal life can best be achieved by:
. . . following the straight and narrow path which leads to this goal; namely, participation in the seminary and institute program, a mission, and an eternal marriage. . . . Those who keep the vows made in the temple wilt inherit eternal life. 72
According to Mormon Apostle Bruce R. McConkie, "This kind of salvation follows faith, repentance, baptism, receipt of the Holy Ghost, and continued righteousness to the end of one's mortal probation. "73 And while our "Remission of sins comes in the first instance by repentance and baptism, . . . it is retained by continued good works."74
Is the role of works in the Mormon "plan of salvation" now understood? Mormonism says that ". . . redemption from personal sins can only be obtained through obedience to the requirements of the gospel, and a life of good works."75 It is not by faith in Christ's atoning work alone, but rather in a strange combination of grace and works. In fact, it has been said that "This progress toward eternal life is a matter of
*69Ibid., p. 7. The Mormon missionary lessons give an even stronger definition for turning from sin. According to these discussions, "This means never doing it again, not even in our thoughts" {Uniform System for Teaching families [Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1982], Fourth Discussion; Truth versus Error, p. 39).
*70 See Kimball, The Miracle of Forgiveness. pp. 169-170.
*71 This quotation is found on a 21/4" by 31/2" seminary and institute "recruiting card" with Spencer W.Kimball's color picture on the front and his comments on the back.
*72 Ibid.
*73McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, s.v. "Salvation," pp. 669-670.
*74 Ibid., s.v. "Good Works," p. 329.
*75 Talmage, The Articles of Faith, pp. 478-479.
achieving perfection. Living all the commandments guarantees total forgiveness of sins and assures one of exaltation . . . "76 In other words, each person must endure in faithfullness, keeping all the Lord's commandments until the end of his life on earth."77 But is this the Biblical way of salvation?

The Biblical Concept of Forgiveness and Eternal Life A Philippian jailer once asked Paul, ". . . what must I do to be saved?" Paul's simplistic reply was, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved - . ." (Acts 16:30,31). Biblical Christianity has always held that ". . . by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9). Notice here that the Mormon kinds of salvation do not fit into this verse. The salvation spoken of here is not merely resurrection, for it is by faith. Nor could it be exaltation, for Mormonism teaches that exaltation is by works. No, this is the scriptural version of salvation.

It should be pointed out here that faith alone is not what saves us. Look at the Muslims, for example. They have plenty of faith, but are they saved? Not without Jesus. For it is not a great faith in God that saves us, but rather faith in a great God which brings eternal life. The entire issue, therefore, in this matter of faith is what our trust is in. If we are relying on some "ordinance" to bring us eternal life instead of putting our complete confidence in Christ's redeeming blood, our faith is in the wrong place. Only a total trust in Christ and His work done for us at Calvary will ever bring the "exaltation" we so earnestly desire. Our attitude should be like that of the hymn sung in so many churches:
My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus' blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus' name. "* 78

Recently, an interesting survey was taken at the Utah State Fair (in Salt Lake City) for the purpose of determining what members of the LDS Church were trusting in for their own "individual salvation." This survey, done in conjunction with Utah Missions, inc., presented Mormons with a thought-provoking question: "If you were to die tonight and stand before God and He was to ask you, 'Why should I let you into My Heaven?' how would you respond?" When it came time to compile the results, the response fell into four different categories:

*76Kimball.. The Miracle of forgiveness, p. 208.
*77 Gospel Principles, p. 292.
*78 Edward Mote, "The Solid Rock," Baptist Hymnal (Nashville; Convention Press, 1975), hymn 337.
  • (1) Works (i.e., their trust was in themselves and/or what they have accomplished),
  • (2) Unsure (i.e., the response to this question was left blank),
  • (3) Grace (i.e., some indication of trusting in Christ), and
  • (4) Other (i.e., these people did not understand the question).

The exact statistics reveal that of the 114 Mormons surveyed, 72 (63.16%) were clearly trusting in themselves, 29 (25.44%) had no idea how to respond, and 10 (8.77%) did not understand the question (as their answers made no sense). This means that less than 3% of those surveyed (or 3 out of 114) had answers that were even close to being right. In other words, more than 97% were wrong!"79

As we have seen, the Mormon Church does not agree with this Biblical doctrine of salvation ". . . through faith in his [Christ's] blood . . ." (Romans 3:25). For them, simply trusting Christ as our Savior is not enough to merit a person eternal life. Mormonism bluntly opposes this Biblical teaching. According to one widely circulated LDS pamphlet:
Christians speak often of the blood of Christ and its cleansing power. Much that is believed and taught on this subject, however, is such utter nonsense and so palpably false that to believe it is to lose one's salvation. For instance, many believe or pretend to believe that if we confess Christ with our lips and avow that we accept him as our personal Savior, we are thereby saved. They say that his blood, without any other act than mere belief, makes us clean."80
Plainly, Mormonism in no way agrees with this scriptural idea of being "justified by faith" (Romans 3:28). Instead, salvation ". . . is received only on [the] condition of faith, repentance, baptism, and enduring to the end by keeping the commandments of God."81

In order to justify these beliefs, Mormon writings will often refer to the classic argument of "faith without works is dead" (James 2:20). But does this mean that we are saved by faith and works? No. A careful study of the context of James, chapter 2, reveals that James is simply warning us about a merely intellectual faith that does not change lives. He tells us that professing intellectual faith (head knowledge, not heart knowledge) is
79 Some examples of works-related answers include:
"Because I have faith in your teachings and have basically been a great and decent person"An Elder, a member 22 years.
"I've tried my best."Relief Society Teacher, a member 70 years.
"Because I have worked for it."Laurel 1st counselor, a member 17 years.
"I Deserve it."High Priest, a member 76 years.
"I have met the requirements (i.e., received the necessary ordinances and, to the best of my ability, kept the commandments) to be admitted -- Elder, home teacher, a member 15 years.
"Because I am worthy to be -- Beehive activity advisor, a member 17 years.
Based upon our previous discussion, a correct response would be: "Lord, I myself am not worthy. But because Jesus died for me and I'm trusting in His work alone for my salvation, I have the assurance of eternal life." (See I John 5:11-13.)
*80 What ihe Mormons Think of Christ, pp. 19-20.
*81 Ibid.. p. 20.
not enough since ". . . the devils also believe, and tremble" (2:19). He further indicates that our works justify us before man (not God), who see the true nature of our faith only in our works. James' point is this: a truly saving faith will produce good works.

Paul makes it abundantly clear that our justification before God has nothing to do with works. The book of Romans is dedicated to this one essential theme. The apostle writes:
But to him that worketh not [for salvation], but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.
Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ....
And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more of grace: otherwise work is no more work.
Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us . . . .82

The message of the New Testament is that ". . . whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Romans 10:13). Biblical salvation, full and complete, is by grace only, through faith in Christ's work done for our sin at Calvary. A saving faith will change a person's life and produce good works. 83

The Gospel of John records the story of a group of people who approached Jesus and asked, "What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?" This is a loaded question. And if Mormonism were true, Christ would have probably responded, "Be baptized, do genealogical research, go on a mission, be married in the temple, pay honest tithes, wear special underwear, 84 and perfect your lifestyle while here on earth." But He did not say this. Instead, "Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he [God] hath sent" (John 6:28,29). The work, my friends, is to believe. Just because salvation is free, it is by no means cheap. It was on the cross that Christ suffered for our sins and shed His blood to atone for them. Knowing that we could never earn this priceless gift, God chose to give it to us. "Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace . . ." (Romans 4:16).

Definitely, much of Mormonism is not based on the Bible. After a threefold comparison of essential doctrines, it is clear that Mormonism

82 Rom. 4:5: Rom. 5:1: Rom. 11:6: and Tit. 3:5.
83 See John 3:16; Rom. 1:17: Rom. 3:20-28; Rom. 4:1-8: Rom. 5:2,21; Rom. 6:23; II Cor. 5:17; Gal. 2:16: Eph. 2:8-10; and I John 2:3-5.
84 Faithful Mormons are all supposed to wear an underwear-like garment underneath their clothing. These garments are said to protect the user from spiritual and physical harm.
does not "stand the test." We are therefore left with two conclusions, of which we must choose one:
  • (1) Accept Mormonism and reject the clear teachings of the Bible,
  • (2) Accept these Biblical truths and reject Mormonism.

Logic compels us to choose one of the alternatives; honesty with ourselves . and with God demands that we choose the latter.

Again, let me restate that I have no ill will against any Mormon personally. I stand against a system which I believe blinds the hearts and minds of people everywhere. I believe Paul had similar intentions when he wrote:
But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him. . . . For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore, it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works. 85

Mormonism has another Jesus, another spirit, and another gospel. My prayer is that Christians everywhere would discover this and pray for the Mormon people that they". . . may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will" (II Timothy 2:26). Will you join me in this prayer?

85 IICorinthians 11:3-4,13-15.

Suggested Reading

Books on Mormonism:
McElveen, Floyd C. The Mormon Illusion. Glendale, California: Regal Books, 1979,208 pp., $3.00
This book is excellent to give to Mormon friends as it compares Mormonism with Biblical Christianity. McElveen also includes a valuable appendix containing questions and answers to use when dealing with Mormons about the way of salvation.

Smith, John L. Has Mormonism Changed. . . Now? Marlow, Oklahoma: Utah Missions, Inc., 1979, 124 pp., $5.00.
This book is a discussion of Mormonism, its past and its present. Such subjects as polygamy (today), proselyting, Mormonism's strange doctrines, its threat to America, witnessing efforts in Utah, etc., are discussed. Very interesting reading.

Tanner, Jerald and Sandra. Mormonism Shadow or Reality? Salt Lake City: Utah Lighthouse Ministry, 1982, 650 pp., $15.00.
Unquestionably the best book in print on Mormonism, Mormonism Shadow or Reality? is a thorough investigation of the history of Mormon leaders and changes in doctrine and practice, including the most recent developments in the Mormon Church. A must for any serious student.

Tanner, Jerald and Sandra. The Changing World of Mormonism. Chicago: Moody Press, 1982, 592 pp. (paperback), $13.00.
This book is a condensation of the Tanners' earlier landmark work.

Witte, Bob, comp. Where Does It Say That? 1982, $6.00.
This unique witnessing aid contains over 275 photostat reduced pages which supply clear documentation on such subjects as Adam-God, false prophecies, blood atonement, the first vision, polygamy, and many, many more. An invaluable resource tool for witnessing and research.

The above books can be purchased from:
Utah Missions, Inc.
Box 348
Marlow, OK 73055
Please be sure to add for postage.

Books on Christian Doctrine:
Hammond, T. C. In Understanding Be Men. Downers Grove: Inter-Varsity Press, 1968, 198 pp., $4.00.
Little, Paul E. Know What You Believe. Wheaton: Victor Books, 1970, 192 pp., $4.00.
Milne, Bruce. Know the Truth. Downers Grove: Inter-Varsity Press, 1982, 288 pp., $7.00.
All of the above three books are excellent handbooks of Christian doctrine. They explain clearly what Christians believe in and why.