The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS) traces its origin to a vision Joseph Smith received in 1820, when 14 years old. God and Jesus appeared to Joseph and told him that all denominations were wrong and Christian creeds were an abomination. Three years later the angel Moroni began to appear to Smith—four appearances over the next four years—finally giving him golden plates upon which were written the Book of Mormon in Reformed Egyptian (a language that never existed), which Smith translated (with no linguistic training), publishing it in 1830. When asked to show the plates, Smith claimed they had disappeared because God wanted us to live by faith, not by evidence. After Smith was killed by a mob while in jail for treason, the Mormons were led by Brigham Young, who led them west to Utah. Today the LDS is one of the fastest growing religious groups on earth, and owns a huge financial empire.
The King James Bible (their preferred translation), the Book of Mormon, the Pearl of Great Price, Doctrines & Covenants and the current President of the LDS, who is a living prophet and the voice of God.
There are minor points on which we may not want to get sidetracked—holy Mormon underwear, magic talismans, celestial temple marriages, the degradation of women, a history of racism (Africans are black because they sided with Satan against Jesus before creation, for example). Don’t let the Mormon missionary set the agenda with phony talk about a personal relationship with God—cut immediately to the real issues. The biggest issues are discussed below.
The LDS—like many cults—states that the Christian Church did not exist from the first century until the 1820s. Jesus had promised his Church in Matthew 28:20, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Either Jesus was lying or the Mormon Church is lying. While there have been times when the churches were filled with corruption, God has always cared for his Church—the assembly of his people—and has always raised up men to preach the gospel and reform the Church. Jesus promised in Matthew 16:18, “I will build my Church; and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.” Yet the LDS teaches that for over seventeen centuries, the gates of hell prevailed and Jesus wasn’t building his Church. The foundation of Mormon teaching is false—we shouldn’t believe anything else they say.
Mormonism teaches that God was once a human being just like us. Through his righteous Mormon lifestyle, Jehovah earned godhood, just like we will if we’re good Mormons. Every Mormon knows the saying by heart: “As man is, God once was; as God is, man may be.” God is not eternal, and there was a time in which he did not exist. [In this sense, there never was a true creation of all that exists.] The Mormon God is also a flesh-and-blood creature, not a spirit (Compare John 4:24). Every Mormon needs to be challenged with God’s self-revelation in the Bible, for if you have the wrong God, you’re wrong forever—no matter how hard you believe.
- Isaiah 43:10—“Before me no God was formed, nor will there be one after me.”
- Isaiah 44:8—“You are my witnesses. Is there any God besides me? No, there is no other
- Rock, I know not one.”
- Psalm 90:2—“From everlasting to everlasting, you are God.”
The LDS teaches that Jesus is Lucifer’s brother, a created being like the Father. The Bible, by contrast, presents Jesus as creator of everything seen and unseen (John 1:3; Colossians 1:16-17; Hebrews 1:2). The Mormon Jesus was not born of a virgin, either. Rather, the Father came to earth and had sex with Mary in Mary’s bed (even though she was betrothed, making both Mary and Jehovah adulterers). By contrast, the Bible presents a holy, miraculous conception of Jesus—a conception by the Holy Spirit without sexual relations (see Matthew 1:18).
The LDS teaches a two-fold salvation, the first universalistic, the second earned by works.
1. All are resurrected, and thus all are saved in a limited sense.
2. But only righteous Mormons get to become Gods and get their own universe to rule.
This latter salvation is a salvation by works. It is earned through obedience to the commands of the Mormon Church—what they may call the “commands of the gospel” (Think about that! A gospel of law!). To receive this salvation, a life of works must be crowned by celestial marriage in a Mormon Temple. For a Mormon woman, salvation depends on her husband’s remembering her name on the last day. If he calls her name, then she too is resurrected and can spend eternity as his goddess-queen populating a universe by being eternally pregnant with spirit babies. Many Mormons will be struck by clear biblical teaching on God’s acceptance of us by grace alone.
Even if you demonstrate that Mormonism contradicts the Bible, is historically groundless, and theologically idolatrous, any Mormon will fall back on his “burning in the bosom.” They will say they have prayed and asked God to show whether Mormonism is true, and they felt warmth in their bosom that confirmed it. Unfortunately, many Christians say stupid, unbiblical, heretical things like this all the time. But I will lay it on the line as a theologian and teacher of God’s Word: Not once does the Bible tell us to test a teaching by praying for a feeling. Scripture says we test the spirits by comparing their doctrine to the rest of Scripture (the Bereans in Acts 17:11, Paul in Galatians 1:8), particularly making sure their doctrine of God is the same (Deuteronomy 13:1-5) and by looking for fulfilled predictive prophecy (Deuteronomy 18:22). Not by feelings.