Freedom In Christ
Do not be entangled again with the yoke of bondage

                   

 

Latter-day Saints

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is distinctive among all the religious cults and sects active in the United States in that it has the most fascinating history and one worthy of consideration by all students of religion.

Mormon history

The founder of the Mormons was Joseph Smith Jr. He was born in Sharon, Vermont on December 23, 1805,the fourth child of Lucy and Joseph Smith Sr... Joseph Smith Sr. was mystic, a man who spent much of his time digging for imaginary buried treasure. Both Joseph Smith Sr. and Joseph Smith Jr. were avid treasure-seekers. His mother, Lucy Smith, was given to extreme religious views and belief in the most trivial of superstitions. Lucy Smith later in her life authored a book entitled Biographical Sketches of Joseph Smith and His Progenitors for Many Generations. Mrs. Smith was incapable of writing such a book; the "ghost writing" was done by a Mrs. Martha Jane Knowlton Coray, who recorded what came to be known as "Mother Smiths History".
Back to Joseph Smith Jr. ”The real beginning of the prophet's call”, was in the year 1820, in that year he was allegedly the recipient of a vision where God the Father and God the Son materialized and spoke to Smith as he prayed in the woods. Smith records the incident in detail in his book The Pearl of Great Price, where he reveals that the two "Gods" took a rather dim view of the Christian church, and of the world in general, and announced that a restoration of true Christianity was needed, and that he, Joseph Smith Jr., had been chosen to launch the new dispensation.

Devout Mormons believe that in 1827 in the town of Palmyra, New York, 21-year-old Joseph Smith Jr. dug up a set of golden tablets that contained the seeds of a new religion. According to Smith, he was guided to that spot by an angel who appeared to him in a vision. "The kind of revelation that Joseph describes is the scandal of Mormonism, in the same way that the resurrection of Christ is the scandal of Christianity," explains Terry Givens, the author of several books on Mormon history. But Smith's visions, which reportedly began when he was 14, are central to Mormons' faith. "We declare without equivocation that God the father and his son, the Lord Jesus Christ, appeared in person to the boy, Joseph Smith," says Gordon B. Hinckley, LDS president. "Our whole strength rests on the validity of that vision."

The Mormons begins with the turbulent early history of the Mormon faith, from Joseph Smith's astonishing visions and the creation of The Book of Mormon through the Mormons' contentious and sometimes violent confrontations with their neighbors and the founding and ultimate abandonment of three major religious communities in Ohio, Missouri and Illinois. The persecution of the Mormons was officially sanctioned by at least two different state governments," says Dallin Oaks, elder of the Mormon Church. Adds Truman Madsen, author and historian, "House burning, raping, abuse, taking over land and possessions -- all that was part of it, but it was also denunciation from every other level, from state houses to pulpits."

"Why would they be so hated?" asks Jon Butler, professor of religion at Yale. "It has to do with … fear of unknown personal practices, polygamy, fear of unknown beliefs, the fear of power and hierarchy. Did the Mormons really think for themselves or did Joseph Smith think for them?"

The cycle of violence climaxed in 1844 in Nauvoo, Ill., when Smith was killed by an angry mob. Following Smith's death, Brigham Young led the faithful across the continent to the Great Salt Lake in what would become modern-day Utah, now the seat of the Mormon Church.

"Mormons have a very complex relationship with their own sense of persecution," says historian Sarah Barringer Gordon. "It is unfair to say that they courted persecution. On the other hand, it is fair to say that it brought them exhilaration and convictions, that what they were doing was the right thing, because God’s prophets have never been welcome in their own lands."

The God of the Mormons

The Mormons use a lot of terminology that is similar to Christianity, such as, "the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost", however, their meaning is different. When studying the different cults, please be aware of this fact.

So that no one will have any difficulty understanding what the Mormon position is concerning the nature of God, we have provide the following quotations from Mormon sources:

1) "In the beginning, the head of the Gods called a council of the Gods, and they came together and concocted a plan to create the world and people in it" (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pg. 349)


2) "God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man..." (Teachings of Prophet Joseph Smith, pg. 
       345)

3) "The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s; the Son also, but the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of Spirit..." (Doctrine and Covenants, 130:2)

There are many more quotes available. If interested, please email me and I will be glad to send them to you.

 A Biblical Response to Mormons

Witnessing to a Mormon is like trying to climb Jell-O: it's hard to get a foothold. But, if you know what Mormonism teaches then you are already well on your way. Following are basic approaches that should aid you in witnessing to a Mormon. Though none of these approaches are fool proof they will provide you with the basic framework you need to be able to witness to a Mormon. It will be up to you to use what you have learned, develop more skill in witnessing, and perfect your method as you go. Remember, the best way to learn to witness is to witness.

There are two important things to know before you begin evangelizing Mormons. First, you need to understand their definitions to the same biblical words that you use: Trinity, Jesus, Salvation, Heaven, etc. Second, you must be able to show them that they believe in a wrong Jesus. This is important because only the true Jesus gives eternal life (John 10:28), reveals the Father (Matt. 11:27), and sends the Holy Spirit (John 15:26).
To witness means you must teach. To teach means you must understand. To understand means you must know not only what you believe, but also what they believe.

Terminology

When a Mormon says he believes in the Trinity he does not mean the historical orthodox Trinity of one God who exists in three persons. To a Mormon, the Trinity is an office held by three separate gods: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.

Remember, the correct doctrine of the Trinity is that there is only one God who has existed for eternity. This one God exists in three persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. They are not three separate gods, but only one God.

When a Mormon says he believes in God he does not mean in the one true God, the creator of all things, the One who has always existed from all time. He means he believes in a god who used to be a man on another planet, who followed the laws and ordinances of that god on that planet and became exalted to godhood. And, to top it all off, he has a wife who is a goddess.

If you are in a witnessing situation with a Mormon you might be using the same words, but you won't be speaking the same language. So, it is a very good idea to study terminology differences.


They Have a Testimony
 

Mormons will bear their testimony to you and tell you that they know the Mormon church is true and that Joseph Smith 
as a true prophet of God.

There are two basic approaches you can take.

Ask them where their testimony is.

"In my heart." They'll say.

You say, "Did you know that the Bible says not to trust your heart because it is deceitful?"

"The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?" (Jer. 17:9).

Second, you can ask them how they get their testimony. They will say by the Holy Spirit.

Ask, "Who bears witness of the truth?"

They will say that the Holy Spirit does.

Correct him gently by showing him that the Holy Spirit Bears witness of Jesus (John 15:26) and that Jesus sends the Holy Spirit (John 15:26).

Once you've shown them that the Holy Spirit is sent from Jesus ask them if a false Jesus will send the true Spirit of God. The answer, of course, is no.

The point is that only the Jesus of the Bible will send the Holy Spirit. If they don't have the right Jesus they can't have the true Holy Spirit, and their testimony is invalid.

Praying about the Book of Mormon

Mormons believe that if you read the Book of Mormon and then pray and ask God whether or not it is true, you will receive a testimony from the Holy Spirit verifying its truth. If it is true, then Joseph Smith is true and so is Mormonism. Many Mormons claim to have this testimony.

First of all, God never says to pray about truth. He says to search the Scriptures to find truth (Acts 17:11; 2 Tim. 3:16).

So, what the Mormon is doing is unbiblical.

Second, it doesn't matter what you feel. If what you feel contradicts the Bible, then what you feel is wrong.

Third, ask them if they ever had to pray about the Bible to see if it is true. Of course they haven't. So why are they supposed to pray about the Book of Mormon?

Their answer will be that the Book of Mormon  says to pray about it.

Still, the Bible says to study God's word for truth, not pray about it.

A common verse that Mormons use to support their belief that you can pray about the Book of Mormon  is found in James 1:5: "If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him." They say that because since they believe they're sincere, God will answer them.

First of all, the problem with sincerity is that it becomes works righteousness because the person is saying "Because of my sincerity, God will listen to me." In other words, because of what's in the person God will look favorably upon him. God does not look into a person and find something good because there is no good in anyone (Rom. 3:10-12; Eph. 2:3).

Second, this verse is about wisdom, not about praying to see if the Book of Mormon is true.

In James 1:1 it says, "James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations: Greetings." So, the book of James was written to those who were believers and already had the truth. That is why James calls them "brothers" in verse 2.

Third, wisdom is the proper use of knowledge, not the acquisition of knowledge. You acquire true spiritual knowledge from the Bible, not your heart. You don't pray about the Book of Mormon, you pray about the truth you've learned from the Bible and ask God to teach you more, and how to apply properly what He's already shown you.

What is the Gospel?

The following approach is direct and hard hitting. Sometimes it is necessary to be blunt in order to get their attention. Ask a Mormon "What is the gospel?".

He will say something like, "The gospel is the laws and the ordinances of the Mormon church."

Ask again what it is and listen closely for any hint of the free forgiveness of sins through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. You usually hear an answer dealing with works, obedience, doing something, etc.

After the person has answered, explain that according to the Bible, the gospel is what saves us, what cleanses us of our sins, and enables us to stand in the presence of God the Father. Explain that Bible specifically defines the gospel and that the gospel is what makes you a Christian and then ask again, "What is the gospel?"

After you've heard a works-righteousness-type answer, turn in your Bible to 1 Cor 15:1-4 and read: "Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures."

Explain that the gospel is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus...for sins!

Then turn to 2 Cor. 4:3-4 and read again. "And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God."

Say something like, "You clearly did not understand the gospel message of Jesus the Savior and the Bible clearly shows you why. It is because your mind has been blinded."

The Apostasy

Mormonism maintains that the true gospel message was lost from the earth shortly after the apostles died.

The Mormon Apostle Orson Prat said, "Jesus...established his kingdom on earth...the kingdoms of this world made war against the kingdom of God, established eighteen centuries ago, and they prevailed against it, and the kingdom ceased to exist." (Journal of Discourses. Vol. 13, page 125).

But Jesus said, "And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" (Matt. 16:18, KJV).

As you can see, Mormonism contradicts what Jesus said. That is why they must say that the Bible is not trustworthy. That is, it isn't trustworthy wherever it disagrees with Mormonism.

Authority and The Mormon Priesthoods

Since Mormonism claims to be the restoration of the gospel, it also claims to have the authority to perform priestly duties and, therefore, properly represent God here on earth.

All offices of the Mormon church grow out of the priesthoods.

Melchizedek - This is the greater priesthood. It consists of several offices:

Elder, seventy, high priest, patriarch or evangelist, and apostle.

Aaronic - a part of the greater Melchizedek priesthood.

Aaronic priesthood - This is the lesser priesthood 

Is synonymous with the Levitical Priesthood (D.&C. 107:1,6,10)

Performs the administration of the ordinances (D.&C. 107:13-14)

Deacon, teacher, then priest.

Quite simply, the Bible contradicts what Mormons believe concerning the priesthood.

Jesus is the only high priest after the order of Melchizedek (Heb. 3:1; 5:6,10; 6:20; 7:11,15,17,21,24,26; 8:1; 9:11).

"Where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek" (Hebrews 6:20).

"And what we have said is even more clear if another priest like Melchizedek appears, one who has become a priest not on the basis of a regulation as to his ancestry but on the basis of the power of an indestructible life" (Heb. 7:15-16).

The Melchizedek Priesthood is unchangeable and untransferable

"but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood" (Heb. 7:24).

Many Gods

One of the truly dividing lines between Christianity and Mormonism is their doctrine of the plurality of Gods.

Mormonism teaches that there are many many gods. (Mormon Doctrine by Bruce McConkie, page 163; Teachings pages 348-349).

In there desire for legitimacy they will even quote 1 Cor. 8:5 to say that the Bible also teaches many gods. 1 Cor. 8:5 says, "For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many ‘gods' and many ‘lords')."

They will say, "see even the Bible says there are many gods."

You can say, "It says there are many that are called gods. It doesn't say they really are gods. It is saying that they only called gods. The Scriptures recognize that there are false gods (Gal. 4:8).

Besides, the Bible flatly denies the existence of any other gods.

"You are my witnesses," declares the LORD, "...Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me" (Isaiah 43:10).

"This is what the LORD says -- ...I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God...Is there any God besides me? No, there is no other Rock; I know not one" (Isaiah 44:6,8).

"I am the LORD, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God" (Isaiah 45:5).

Errors in the Book of Mormon

  1. Saved by grace after all you can do? (2 Nephi 25:23)
  2. How could Moroni "read" Heb. 13:8 and James 1:17 when the N.T. never reached America? (Mormon 9:9).
  3. Helaman 12:25-26, written 6 B.C. says, "we read," quoting 2 Thess. 1:9 and John 5:29, 90 years too early.
  4. Jesus, a son of God (Alma 36:17).
  5. Mosiah 21:28 says King Mosiah had a gift from God, but original B. of M. manuscript reads "King Benjamin".
  6. Jesus was born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:1-2; Matt. 2:1). In the Book of Mormon (Alma 7:9,10) it says it was Jerusalem.

When a Mormon says he believes in the Trinity he does not mean the historical orthodox Trinity of one God who exists in three persons. To a Mormon, the Trinity is an office held by three separate gods: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Remember, the correct doctrine of the Trinity is that there is only one God who has existed for eternity. This one God exists in three persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. They are not three separate gods, but only one God.

When a Mormon says he believes in God he does not mean in the one true God, the creator of all things, the One who has always existed from all time. He means he believes in a god who used to be a man on another planet, who followed the laws and ordinances of that god on that planet and became exalted to godhood. And, to top it all off, he has a wife who is a goddess.

If you are in a witnessing situation with a Mormon you might be using the same words, but you won't be speaking the same language. It is a very good idea to study terminology differences before you witness with a Mormon.

Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints

Founder: Joseph Smith, Jr.

Founding Date: Officially founded April 6, 1860.

Official Publications: The monthly magazine Saints Herald and the bimonthly Restoration Witness.

Organization Structure: Similar to most other churches which claim Joseph Smith, Jr. as their founder, the RLDS Church is led by a Prophet and his counselors. These men are known collectively as the First Presidency. In addition, the RLDS Church has a Council of Twelve Apostles. There are lesser offices in the RLDS Church such as Bishops, Elders, etc.

Unique Terms: An RLDS Fundamentalist or Restorationist is one who believes the Book of Mormon is historically and theologically accurate. They also believe the RLDS Church, as defined by Joseph Smith III, is the only true church.

Other Names: The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is often referred to by the abbreviation RLDS. Also, in the 1970's, an official nickname, Saints' Church was designated. In addition, in most areas outside the English-speaking world, the RLDS Church is known as the Restored Church of Jesus Christ (Divergent Paths of the Restoration, Steven Shields, p. 67).

HISTORY

As with many groups, the history of the RLDS Church actually begins before its official founding date. Most members of the Church will point to Joseph Smith, Jr. as their founder and the events of his life in the 1820's and 1830's as being extremely significant to their church's history. The real history of the RLDS Church as a separate entity actually begins, however, with the death of Joseph Smith, Jr. in 1844. As Gordon Fraser explains, "With the death of Joseph Smith, the entire church was thrust into a state of chaos, with a dozen potential leaders contending for the mantle of the Prophet" (Sects of the Latter-day Saints, p. 16). Many of these leaders would eventually begin their own churches, each claiming to be the only true church, as originally founded by Joseph Smith, Jr.

Some of these leaders included Brigham Young, who would lead many of Smith's followers from Nauvoo, Illinois to the Salt Lake Valley in Utah to begin The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (commonly called the Mormons). James J. Strang would travel to Beaver Island, Michigan and have himself declared King by his followers. Sidney Rigdon, an early associate of Joseph Smith's, called his group the Church of Christ, which was the original name given the church by Joseph Smith. William Bickerton began The Church of Jesus Christ (or Church of Christ, Bickertonites) after a brief association with Rigdon. Another important leader was Grandville Hedrick who began The Church of Christ, Temple Lot (Divergent Paths of the Restoration, pp. 31, 37, 40-41, 76 and 89).

Other early followers of Joseph Smith were Jason Briggs, Zenos Gurley and William Marks. These three men are most often credited with organizing the group that would eventually be called the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. This small remnant of believers in Joseph Smith formed because they did not accept his 1843 revelation that implemented polygamy.

With regard to the history of the RLDS Church, J. Gordon Melton, explains, "Briggs had been an elder in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at Nauvoo, Illinois, and remained loyal until the trek west" (Encyclopedia of American Religions, Vol. 2, p. 203). Briggs had joined Strang's group in 1848 and the group lead by Joseph Smith's brother, William Smith, in 1850. However, he left these groups because of a revelation convincing him that Joseph Smith Jr.'s son, Joseph Smith III, was the rightful heir to his father's prophetic mantle.

Melton further states, "Zenos Gurley was senior president of one of the seventies in Nauvoo. He remained loyal to Brigham Young until a few days before the departure west. He joined Strang and was a bishop, but like Briggs he left Strang in 1852. He claimed a revelation similar to Briggs' concerning Joseph's son" (Ibid.).

Concerning William Marks, he "was the Nauvoo stake president who was excommunicated when he supported the claims of Sidney Rigdon, who founded the precursor to the Church of Christ (Bickertonites). Marks joined Rigdon, then Strang, then several other Mormon groups" (Ibid.).

Being dissatisfied with his previous associations, Briggs set out on his own to find the true church. "Encouraged by his sincere belief that a descendant of Joseph Smith, Jr. should head the church as its prophet, Briggs began writing to others of his belief and other spiritual experiences which had been made manifest to him. Joined by others who felt as he, the first conference of what became known as the New Organization of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was convened in June 1852" (Divergent Paths of the Restoration, p. 65).

Though the New Organization was convened, and though Briggs and others had their spiritual convictions that Joseph Smith III should be their new leader, there was a problem. Joseph Smith III refused! In 1859 William Marks joined the New Organization. It was in this same year that Joseph Smith III finally consented to become the prophet and was ordained to that position by Marks. Thus, on April 6, 1860, in Amboy, Illinois, "the New Organization became the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints with 300 members" (Encyclopedia of American Religions, Vol. 2, pp. 203-204).

Since that time, each successive prophet has been a direct descendent of Joseph Smith, Jr. They include Joseph Smith III, Frank Madison Smith, Israel Alexander Smith, W. Wallace Smith and Wallace B. Smith. However, the RLDS Church was now faced with a problem. Wallace B. Smith had no sons to take his place as the next prophet. Potentially, this problem was solved in 1984 when Wallace B. Smith received a revelation allowing women to hold the priesthood. Thus, it is possible for the next RLDS prophet to be a woman - possibly one of his daughters.

In recent years, there has been a split in the RLDS Church, between the fundamental factions, headed by Richard Price (the Restoration branches), who more closely adhere to the original RLDS teachings, and the more liberal factions which control the hierarchy of the RLDS Church.

DOCTRINE

As strange as it may seem, when RLDS doctrines are spoken of, they are usually stated in a way that simply tells which Mormon doctrines (Utah Church) they do not believe. J. Gordon Melton explains, "The Reorganized Church rejects polygamy, and all the associated doctrines - sealing of marriage for eternity and marriage by proxy to persons deceased - are rejected most strongly. The doctrine that `As man now is, God once was; as God now is, so man may become,' the Adam-God theory, is felt to conflict plainly with the monotheism of the Bible. The members of the Reorganized Church consider abhorrent the practice of `blood atonement' as enunciated by Brigham Young, by which apostates were killed to save them from damnation. In the Reorganized Church, there are no closed temples nor services from which the public is barred, nor any special temple garments" (Vol. 2, p. 204).

This tactic of listing doctrines believed by the Mormons but rejected by the RLDS is common. It seems to occur as a result of the fact that even many RLDS followers have no clear idea as to what their church teaches. Historically, however, the RLDS have taught the following doctrines:

1) The RLDS versions of the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants [D&C] are considered to be scripture. They also accept Joseph Smith's rewritten version of the Bible, the Inspired Version [I.V.], as scripture.

2) Complete apostasy of the early Christian church (Fundamentals, F. Henry Edwards, pp. 175-210).

3) Joseph Smith, Jr. was a prophet who restored God's church (D&C 1:4a and 1:5d-e).

4) Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthoods were restored (History of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Vol. 1, pp. 34-35).

5) Baptism for the remission of sins (D&C 39:2a-b, 16:4e).

6) Zion will be established in, and Jesus will return to, Independence, Missouri (I.V. of Gen. 7:20-25, D&C 57, Times and Seasons, Vol. 3, p. 710).

7) Heaven has three levels (D&C 76:5-7).

8) Those who do not hear the RLDS gospel in this life will have another opportunity in the next (D&C 76:6c).

While these doctrines were the historical position of RLDS theology, today, their doctrines are in a state of flux.

In 1992, RLDS owned Graceland College, hosted a symposium "dealing with significant RLDS theological issues" (Saints Herald, December 1992, p. 8). This symposium was sponsored by the First Presidency and Graceland's Center for Christian Leadership.

At the conference, Paul Edwards, dean of the Park College Graduate School of Religion and Temple School Center director, examined RLDS theology. He exclaimed, "One of the most important needs for RLDS people today is to look existentially at primary experiences as the starting point for their theological activity" (Ibid.).

Simply stated, Edwards is advocating that each individual view theological truths from a personal, subjective perspective, rather than from an historical, objective perspective. Instead of beginning with the Bible, or even RLDS scripture, such as the Book of Mormon and/or Doctrine and Covenants, the RLDS dean of theology recommends that each believer looks to his or her own existential experience for a basis of truth. Based on this idea, it would be difficult for the RLDS hierarchy to adopt any single Statement of Faith. For each individual would interpret those beliefs in his own existential way.

Echoing Edwards views, Anthony Chvala-Smith, who received his Ph.D. from Marquette University, "explained there can be no `perennial theology, only a theology of wayfarers'" (Ibid., p. 9). Thus, each believer in the RLDS religion is left to stumble in darkness, making their own way through the maze, with no help from higher authorities.

Finally, Robert Mesle, professor of religion at Graceland, in speaking about the place of the Bible in RLDS theology, stated, "We need to be teaching our young people to be responsible, discriminating readers of scripture (who) use scripture as a springboard not a trap" (Ibid.). In RLDS theology, the Bible is simply a beginning point for the individual's personal theology. The important source for theological truth is not God's word, but rather that subjective, existential experience. It is felt by many cult researchers that this ambiguity of doctrine may be due, in part, to both the on-going controversy between Fundamentalists and Liberals within the RLDS Church and the church's tendency to reflect the latest social trends.

Other Doctrines

Of the Holy Spirit, Kurt Goedelman of Personal Freedom Outreach, writes, "While it is easy to find stated that the Father and Son are regarded as persons in RLDS literature, it is difficult to find references to the Holy Spirit (or Holy Ghost) as a person. Rather, He is mainly regarded as `the living power and presence of God'" (Quarterly Journal, Vol. 8, No. 1, p. 7).

Unlike the Mormon Church, most RLDS members view the Book of Mormon as a 19th century product (Position Papers, pp. 103-112). The RLDS version of the Doctrine and Covenants also contains additional and different revelations than will be found in the Mormon version. In addition, they do not use the Pearl of Great Price as do the Mormons.

In recent years the RLDS Church has avoided viewing the Restoration of the Church as an actual historical event. In a speech given at the First Presidency Meetings in 1979, it was stated, "When we are honest about our own personal and corporate history, we realize that the apostasy and the Restoration were not events that happened one time in history but rather are processes continually at work among us" (Presidential Papers, p. 28). Thus, by denying the Restoration was an actual historical event, the RLDS Church has undermined the very foundation upon which all of Joseph Smith, Jr's later work depends. Thereby, undermining their own foundation.

Witnessing to Mormons

Dear Sir or madam,
You are fools! If you had read the articles of faith on the Mormon Church, it does not say we hold the Bible in lower respect. It's only as far as it is translated correctly, so therefore if the verse is correctly translated it is authoritative. You only tell one side of these religions on your site and not the other, so therefore y’all are liars and liars go to hell. Thank you very much, so please correct your site.

What you have just read is an email we received from a Mormon elder, and a returned missionary for the LDS church.  We have corrected the spelling and some of the grammar, but for the most part have left it as-is.   This elder later wrote back and apologized for his harsh tone.  We will use portions of his emails and our responses, in addition to personal experiences, to illustrate some of the challenges of sharing your faith with Mormons.*

One of the first things you’ll notice about the elder’s email above is the tone.  It is obvious this person is frustrated and angry.  The fact that his email was full of spelling errors and was basically one run-on sentence is further evidence of his state of mind.  I don’t fault him for reacting out of anger.  He looked at our website and found that we had written negative things about his deeply held religious beliefs.  It may be the first time his beliefs have been so blatantly challenged.  It is important to understand that anger is often borne out of fear – in this case, a fear of being wrong.  It is imperative that you not get sucked into an emotionally charged discussion.  Don’t let yourself fall into anger.  Remember, a soft word turneth away wrath (Proverbs 15:1.)  In contending for our faith, we must present the truth.  Sometimes the truth can hurt, so it is imperative that we present the truth with love. 

Another important point to remember is that most Mormons lack a thorough knowledge of LDS doctrine.  Many of the teachings that highlight the heretical nature of Mormonism, and call into question the authenticity of their prophets are not common knowledge among the faithful.  There is an element of blind faith in Mormonism. In the email at the top, this elder stated that “liars go to hell.”  Obviously that was just a shot made in anger, but as a case in point, Mormons do not believe in hell. 

When challenged on matters of doctrine and theology, many Mormons do not have the doctrinal knowledge to make an intelligent argument or rebuttal.  This is often the source of their anger and frustration.  At this point, many Mormons will abandon any pretense of making a logical argument, and fall back on their testimony.  Every Mormon has their “testimony” that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, that the Book of Mormon is true, and that the LDS Church is the only true church today.  This testimony is often the result of the “burning of the bosom” that potential converts to Mormonism are told to await as a sign that the Book of Mormon is true.  Every LDS ward (local church) conducts “Fast and Testimony” meetings on a regular basis to strengthen each person’s reliance on his or her testimony.  This is a purely subjective feeling upon which they can rely when rational thought fails.

Another defense a challenged Mormon will use is the “spirit of contention.”  My wife and I have encountered this when talking with Mormon missionaries.  When the missionaries were unable to provide a logical, rational response to our evidence that Joseph Smith was a false prophet, one or both of them would start to get defensive or angry.  Then one of them would say, “I feel a spirit of contention here,” and use that as an excuse to end the conversation.  You could point out Jude’s instruction to “contend for the faith” (Jude 3), but if tempers are getting hot, it may be necessary to postpone the rest of your discussion. 

If you’ve read through our website much, you can tell we like to use the New International Version (NIV) of the Bible.  The reason for this, quite simply, is that it makes for easy reading and study.  However, take a look at the following excerpt from one of our replies to this elder:

The Bible also warns us to be on guard for false prophets and false teachers. Jesus said in Matthew 7:15, “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.” He also said in Matthew 24:11 “And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.” He went to say, “For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect” (Matthew 24:24.) How then, are we to recognize false prophets? Deuteronomy 18:22 says, “When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that [is] the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, [but] the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.” We are instructed to be diligent about searching out false teachings. 1 John 4:1 says, “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.”

You can see that we used the King James Version of the Bible when quoting scripture passages to this Mormon.  The LDS Church strictly uses KJV.  In actuality, it’s a slightly modified KJV, published by an LDS publishing company.  It is obviously important to use the Bible when sharing your faith.  If you use any version besides the KJV when witnessing to Mormons, they will be prone to question the validity of any scripture you quote.  If I had quoted from my NIV Bible, this elder would have quickly dismissed the verses as “incorrectly translated.”  Therefore, don’t give them that excuse to close their ears and mind to the Word of God.  Using the KJV to make your points will not ensure success, but it will be given more consideration than any other version.

The tenth president and prophet of the LDS Church, Joseph Fielding Smith, said the following:  “Mormonism, as it is called, must stand or fall on the story of Joseph Smith.  He was either a prophet of God, divinely called, properly appointed and commissioned, or he was one of the biggest frauds this world has ever seen.  There is no middle ground.” 1  This statement is very true, and goes to the heart of the debate on Mormonism.  The LDS faith lives or dies on the authenticity – not only of Joseph Smith – but of all of the LDS prophets.  If the LDS Church does not have a true, living prophet at its helm, then all of its claims of truth disintegrate.  Deuteronomy 18:22 sets up a test for prophets.  If anything they prophesy in the name of God does not occur, that person has “spoken presumptuously” and is not a true prophet.  Furthermore, Paul says if anyone preaches another gospel than that which he and the apostles preached, that person should be eternally condemned (Galatians 1:8-9.)  If you had to select one area to discuss with a Mormon friend, and only one, it should be the authenticity and validity of the LDS prophets.  To discuss a comprehensive list of false LDS prophecies would take more room than we can afford in this article.  We can, however, name a few. 

  • Joseph Smith said that tall men dressed as Quakers live on the moon.2
  • Brigham Young said that men live on the sun, as well.3
  • Joseph Smith prophesied that Jesus would return by 1891.4
  • Brigham Young prophesied that the Civil War would not free the slaves.5

One of the biggest difficulties when witnessing to a Mormon is maintaining focus.  I remember many discussions with Mormons where I was all over the map.  I would speak of Joseph Smith’s treasure hunting, the temple ceremony, the fallacy of the Book of Abraham, the contradictions between the Book of Mormon and the Doctrines & Covenants…  I changed directions more than an Etch-a-Sketch.  It didn’t help that the Mormon to whom I would be witnessing was doing the same.  Arming yourself with volumes of information will be of little value if you shotgun the information at your Mormon friend.  It’s like grabbing a handful of M&M candies and tossing them at a Mormon’s face, hoping one of them ends up in his or her mouth.  It is extremely important to pick a topic and stick to it.  I recommend focusing on issues such as the validity of LDS prophets or the plan of salvation.  Whichever issue you pick, try to stay on topic.  You and your friend could get lost in a maze of tangents, forgetting what you originally discussed, and having a thoroughly wasted conversation.

In the course of your apologetics research, you can find a large number of references from Mormon scripture that contradict official LDS doctrine.  Use them sparingly in your discussions.  Here’s an excerpt from our response to the Mormon elder’s email in which we quoted some verses from the Book of Mormon that contradict Mormon doctrine:

“In fact, many LDS doctrines are actually contradicted in the Book of Mormon. Eternal progression is explicitly contradicted in the Book of Mormon, and is just one example. Eternal progression teaches that God was once a man like us, but progressed to godhood. This is contradicted by Moroni 8:18 and Mormon 9:9. LDS Doctrine teaches that there is a plurality of gods, and that righteous men will become gods themselves. Brigham Young was very clear on this doctrine. Yet this is contradicted in Alma 11:27-40!”

It’s okay to use this method briefly to make a point.  The danger in doing this too much is that it could be construed that you give some level of approval or validity to LDS scripture.  This is not a message you want to convey.  Be brief and limited in discussing contradictions between LDS doctrine and scripture, and focus mainly on contrasting LDS doctrine with the true gospel of Jesus Christ – the Bible. 

It is commonly said that the best way to spot counterfeit money, is to become thoroughly familiar with real money.  Likewise, in order to prepare yourself to spot heresy, and to guard your heart against deception, it is vitally important to study the Bible.  In doing so, I do not mean reading the verse listed in your daily devotion book.  Rather, make yourself a student of the Word of God.  Read the Bible voraciously – with a hunger and a thirst that can only be satiated by hearing the omnipotent Creator of the universe speaking directly to your heart!  When putting on the full armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18), don’t forget the “sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”  While Plato was not someone whose theological beliefs I admire, he said something almost biblical that is important to remember when dealing with the cults, “Everything that deceives also enchants.”  This goes along with Paul’s admonition to the Corinthians that even Satan can appear as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14).  Study the Word, so you can “test the spirits.” 

Bible study is only half the battle – prayer, being the other half.  Ephesians 6:18 tells us to “pray in the Spirit on all occasions,” right after directing us to put on the full armor of God.  Do not attempt to witness to a Mormon or any other person without a sufficient amount of prayer cover.  Do not be deceived.  While you are having a loving conversation with a decent but deceived individual, there is an ugly spiritual battle taking place.  The devil does not want to release the hold he has on your friend, and you will be subject to spiritual attacks.  Pray, pray, pray!!  I cannot emphasize that enough. 

Ex-Mormon James Spencer wrote, “Those of us who encounter heresy do so not because we enjoy it, but because it is necessary.”6  He goes on to say, “Cults thrive because the Church of Christ allows them to do business without intellectual challenge.  We march with determination toward the Promised Land, ‘while the Devil takes the hindmost.’”7  You have decided to encounter heresy, and not concede to Satan a booty of human souls.  You have chosen to carry the true gospel of Jesus Christ to those who need to hear it.  Strengthen yourself through prayer and study, and may God bless you as you contend for Him.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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