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Mormonism vs. the Bible

By Gary F. Zeolla

In 1820, a man by the name of Joseph Smith claimed he had a vision in which God the Father and the Son appeared to him. He said he was told the churches of that time, "were all wrong" and "all their creeds were an abomination" (Smith, p.49).Book of Mormon

In a later vision Joseph Smith alleged he was told he was the one chosen to restore the true Church to the world by bringing forth the Book of Mormon. As a result, on April 6, 1830, "The Church of Christ" was founded. The name was later changed to, "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints" (LDS). The group is more popularly known as "Mormonism."

Joseph Smith was killed by an angry mob on June 27, 1844. Afterwards, Brigham Young took over the presidency of the new church (McDowell, pp.64-66). Since then, the Mormon church has had a succession of 11 presidents (or prophets; Hinckley, pp.130-131). The LDS church also has 12 men designated as apostles at all times.

Doctrinal Shift

Mormonism has diverted from historic Christianity on many doctrinal issues. One important shift is its attitude towards revelation.

The LDS believes its prophets are "God's mouthpieces" and, "... the statements of the presidents of the church should stand next to the scriptures as authoritative sources on the various gospel doctrines" (Ludlow, pp.viii, ix). The teachings of its apostles are also considered authoritative, though not infallible like those of the prophets.

But the Bible does not teach that the offices of prophet and apostle as givers of special revelation will continue indefinitely. Paul refers to the Church as, "having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets." A "foundation" is laid first, and only once. The "building" then "grows" on top of it (Eph 2:20,21).

Further, "The epistles of 2 Peter and Jude, among the last New Testament writings to be penned, exhort the readers to avoid false doctrines by recalling the teachings of the apostles (2Pet 1:12-15; 2:1; 3:2,14-16; Jude 3-4,17). Peter and Jude did not say "Listen to the apostles living today," but instead urged believers to 'remember what the apostles said'" (Bowman, p. 31).

Low View of the Bible

Bible with violet markerOne reason Mormonism has moved away from a belief in the all-sufficiency of the Bible is its acceptance of a negative, lower criticism of the Scriptures.

Joseph Smith claimed, "Ignorant translators, careless transcribers, or designing and corrupt priests have committed many errors." Brigham Young said further, "... many precious things have been rejected in the compilation and translation of the Bible" (Ludlow, pp.345f). For discussions on these claims see Have Precious Truths Been Lost from the Bible? and An Introduction to Textual Criticism.

Despite its low view of Scripture, Mormonism still claims its belief system coheres with the teachings of the Bible. Brigham Young proclaimed, "In all my teachings, I have taught the gospel from the Old and New Testaments. I have found therein every doctrine and the proof of every doctrine the Latter-Day Saints believe in" (Ludlow, p.346).

This LDS claim will be tested against the teachings of the Bible (Acts 17:11).

Doctrine of God

Joseph Smith declares the Mormon doctrine of God, "GOD HIMSELF WAS ONCE AS WE ARE NOW AND IS AN EXALTED MAN and sits enthroned in yonder heavens! ..."

Joseph Smith continues, "It is the first principle of the gospel to know for a certainty the character of God and to know that HE WAS ONCE A MAN LIKE US; yea, that God Himself, the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth, the same as Jesus Christ Himself did; and I will show it from the Bible."

Another LDS prophet, Lorenzo Snow, taught, "We are the offspring of our Father in Heaven and we possess in our spiritual organizations the same capabilities, powers and faculties that our Father possesses, although in an infantile state."

Further, the Mormon god still has room to progress. President Woodruff stated, "GOD HIMSELF IS INCREASING AND PROGRESSING IN KNOWLEDGE, POWER, AND DOMINION, and will do so, worlds without end."

Moreover, the Mormon god's progress is contingent on man's. Lorenzo Snow, another president taught, "He has given us faculties and powers that are capable of enlargement until HIS fullness is reached."

Also, Joseph Smith taught, "Our Father in Heaven is a personage of tabernacle, just as I am ... and HE HAS ALL THE PARTS AND PASSIONS OF A PERFECT MAN, and HIS BODY IS COMPOSED OF FLESH AND BONES, but not of blood" (Ludlow, pp.277,276,78,74,278).

Thus, according to Mormonism, the difference between God and human beings is only one of degree, not of kind. He has simply progressed further than we have.

Is This the God of the Bible?

Is this the God of the Bible? First it must be asked if God changes, grows and progresses. Is God mutable (subject to change) or immutable (not subject to change)?

Psalm 102:25-27 contrast the changing, non-eternal nature of the universe with the unchanging, eternal nature of God. God Himself spoke through Malachi and proclaimed, "For I am the LORD, I do not change ..." (Mal 3:6; see also 1Sam 15:29; Heb 6:13-20; Jam 1:17). These verses clearly show the God of the Bible is immutable.

Second, there is no way the God of the Bible used to be a man. Moses prayed, "Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God" (Ps 90:2; see also Numb 23:19).

Third, the God of the Bible does not have a physical body composed of "flesh and bones." Jesus stated very clearly, "God is Spirit" (John 4:24). Elsewhere, Jesus declared, "a spirit does not have flesh and bones" (Luke 24:39). Also, if God had a physical body, He would be visible; but the Bible teaches God is INVISIBLE (Job 9:11; Col 1:15; 1Tim 1:17; 6:16; Heb 11:27; 1John 4:12).

EarthAnd finally, Paul proclaimed to the Athenians, "The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of Heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. Nor is He served with men's hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives life and breath and all things to all" (Acts 17:25,26; MKJV).

The God of the Bible is in no way dependent on us; but we are absolutely dependent on Him! (see also 1Chr 29:14; Rom 12:3; 1Cor 4:6,7; 15:10; 2Cor 3:5).

Sex in Heaven?

Next to be studied is Mormonism's attitude towards Jesus and His relationship to people in general. Brigham Young professed, "WE BELIEVE THAT JESUS CHRIST IS OUR ELDER BROTHER ...." Likewise, Joseph Smith said, "Among the spirit children of Elohim [God the Father], the firstborn was and is ... Jesus Christ to whom all others are juniors" (Ludlow, p.280).

LDS apostle Bruce McConkie writes, "Implicit in the Christian verity that all men are the spirit children of an Eternal Father is the usually unspoken truth that they are also the offspring of AN ETERNAL MOTHER" (quoted in Tanners, p.164).

Moreover, another Mormon apostle, Orson Pratt, declared, "We have now clearly shown that GOD THE FATHER HAD A PLURALITY OF WIVES, one or more being in eternity, by whom He begat our spirits as well as the spirit of Jesus His first born, AND ANOTHER BEING UPON THE EARTH BY WHOM HE BEGAT THE TABERNACLE [PHYSICAL BODY] OF JESUS, as His only begotten in this world" (quoted in Tanners, p.227).

Joseph Smith explains further, "Jesus Christ is the Son of Elohim both as spiritual and bodily offspring; that is to say, ELOHIM IS LITERALLY THE FATHER OF THE SPIRIT OF JESUS CHRIST AND ALSO OF THE BODY in which Jesus Christ performed His mission in the flesh ..." (Ludlow, p.280).

Putting this all together, Mormonism teaches the SPIRITS of all people were conceived in heaven via physical, sexual intercourse between the Father and one or more of his goddess wives. This "heavenly sex" is possible since the Mormon god (and presumably His wives) have "all the parts and passions" that we do.

Thus, in Mormonism, the only difference between Jesus and people in general is that His spirit was conceived before ours. Also, to produce Jesus' physical body, the Mormon god came down to earth and had sexual intercourse with the virgin Mary.

Is This in the Bible?

Are any of these ideas in the Bible? Is Jesus just our "elder brother" or is He unique? John 1:18; 3:16 teach Jesus is the "only begotten Son." The footnote in The Believer's Study Bible comments, "The only begotten Son" (Greek, monogenes) means one of a kind, unique, without precedent" (Criswell, p.1494). John 5:18-26 clearly upholds Jesus' uniqueness. He is said to be "equal to God" (v.18) and to have "life in Himself" (v.26). Jesus is declared to have an unique relationship with the Father (vv.19-24; compare Matt 11:27).

As for heavenly sex, it must asked, "How can the copulation of PHYSICAL beings (the Mormon god and his goddess wives) produce SPIRIT children?" Further, as already shown, the God of the Bible does not have a physical body. Hence, the whole Mary with baby Jesus concept of sex in heaven is simply nonsense (see Matt 22:30).

As for God having sexual intercourse with Mary, according to Mormonism, Mary is literally the daughter of the Father. As such, for God to have had intercourse with her would have been INCEST! But such behavior would have Him breaking His own Law while causing Mary to sin (see Lev 18:6,7,17).

And lastly, the Virgin Birth of Christ is explicitly and implicitly taught in the Bible. This was demonstrated in the article "Born of the Virgin Mary."

Mormon Exaltation

Joseph Fielding Smith was a descendent of Joseph Smith and the tenth Mormon president. He declared, "Joseph Smith taught a plurality of Gods, and that man by obeying the commandments of God and KEEPING THE WHOLE LAW will eventually reach the power and EXALTATION BY WHICH HE ALSO WILL BECOME A GOD" (p.98).

The book Gospel Principles is used by the LDS church to train new converts. The last chapter is titled "Exaltation" and explains this concept, "Exaltation is eternal life, the kind of life God lives. He lives in great glory. He is perfect. He possesses all knowledge and all wisdom. He is the father of spirit children. He is a creator. WE CAN BECOME GODS LIKE OUR HEAVENLY FATHER. THIS IS EXALTATION" (pp.289,290).

Lorenzo Snow summarizes the Mormon position, "AS MAN NOW IS, OUR GOD WAS; AS NOW GOD IS, SO MAN MAY BE ..." (Ludlow, p.72). So a Mormon man is working to become a god. But the goal for a Mormon woman is rather different.

John Taylor, third president of the Mormon church, explains this goal in a letter to a Mormon lady. He is responding to her question, "And what is my final destiny after having obeyed the truth, if faithful to the end?"

PlanetsTaylor writes:
Thou wilt be permitted to pass by the Gods and angels who guard the gates, and onward, upward to THY EXALTATION in a celestial world among the Gods, to be a priestess queen upon thy Heavenly Father's throne, and a glory to thy husband and offspring, TO BEAR THE SOULS OF MEN, TO PEOPLE OTHER WORLDS (as thou did bear their tabernacles in mortality) WHILE ETERNITY GOES AND ETERNITY COMES; and if you will receive it, lady, this is eternal life (quoted in Ludlow, pp.9,10).

So a Mormon woman is working to have the privilege of populating her exalted husband's planet. And notice, this is done in the same way children are brought forth "in mortality" (i.e. on this earth) and it continues indefinitely. In other words, "heaven" for a Mormon woman is to be eternally pregnant!

Biblical Justification

But what does the Bible teach on these matters? First, can men become gods? The true God declared through Isaiah, "And understand that I am He. BEFORE ME WAS NO GOD FORMED, NOR SHALL THERE BE AFTER ME. I, even, I am the LORD, And besides Me there is no savior" (Isaiah 43:10,11).

How much clearer could God be? There is only ONE God. This has always been the case and always will be (see also Deut 4:35; 6:4; 2Sam 7:22; Isa 44:6,8; 46:9).

So men cannot be "exalted" to gods and women need not look forward to being eternally pregnant. The true need for both men and women is JUSTIFICATION before God.

Jesus on crossJohn Robbins explains, "Justification by faith is the heart of the Gospel. As sinners we are all condemned before God; we deserve whatever punishment he is pleased to give us. But Christ died for the sins of his people; they are justified, rather than condemned" (Robbins, p.1; Luke 18:9-14; Rom 3:9-26; 4:5-8; 5:8-11).

To those trusting in Christ's death for their justification, Paul writes, "Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Rom 5:1; see also Acts 13:38,39; Rom 8:33-39; 1Cor 6:11; Titus 3:4-7).

For additional study on the teachings of Mormonism, see the book Behind the Mask of Mormonism by John Ankerberg and John Weldon. It is available from Books-A-Million .

Bibliography: Note: All emphases in quotes are added.
All Scripture references from: The New King James Version. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1982, unless otherwise indicated.
Bowman, Robert. "Faulty Foundation of Five-Fold Ministry." Christian Research Journal. Fall, 1987, p.31.
Criswell, W.A. The Believer's Study Bible: NKJV. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1991.
Green, J.P. ed. Holy Bible, Modern King James Version. Lafayette, IN: Sovereign Grace Trust Fund, 1993.
Gospel Principles, Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 1988.
Hinckley, Gordon. Truth Restored. USA: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 1979.
Ludlow, Daniel ed. Latter-Day Prophets Speak. USA: Bookcraft, 1988.
McDowell, Josh and Don Stewart. Handbook of Today's Religions. San Bernardino, CA: Here's Life. 1983.
Robbins, John. "Are You Catholic?" Hobbs, NM: The Trinity Foundation, 1994.
Smith, Joseph. The Pearl of Great Price. Salt Lake City: Church of Jesus Christ of LDS, 1986.
Smith, James Fielding. Doctrines of Salvation. Vol.I, Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft, 1954.
Tanner, Jerald and Sandra. Mormonism: Shadow or Reality? Salt Lake City: Utah Lighthouse Ministry, 1987.

Mormonism vs. the Bible. Copyright 1999 by Gary F. Zeolla of Darkness to Light ministry (www.dtl.org).

The above article originally appeared in Darkness to Light newsletter in 1994.
It was posted on this Web site in July 1996.

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