This post started out as a reply to a Mormon, Dan Holden, who commented on my previous blog post about when two Jehovah’s Witnesses stopped by my house. As I tend to do, I got rather lengthy with it so decided to turn it into its’ own post rather than leave it as a comment:
Thanks for the comment Dan, I really do appreciate your willingness to converse about these things. I think the biggest thing to remember when arguing against the Trinity is that Christians do believe that God exists in 3 separate persons. The Scriptures I often see non-Trinitarians like JW’s and Mormons use are verses that we already use to explain God’s 3 Persons. We believe the Bible communicates that God is 3 Persons but 1 Essence, so arguing that He is 3 Persons is telling us something we already acknowledge (simply stating this as advice as you lay out your arguments).
The second piece of advice is that when you (a Mormon) are talking to a Christian, remember that we do not believe the Book of Mormon to be authoritative/true, so you can’t use arguments from the Book of Mormon with a Christian to help argue your point. We can both use the Bible in our discussions though, which is a good place to have this conversation. Though Christians are able to show where the Book of Mormon contradicts the Bible, which is what brings up my unanswered questions about Mormonism, for example, on Mormon.org it states:
• “Mormons believe first and foremost that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world and the Son of God.”
• the truth that Jesus Christ is the only way by which we can return to live with our Heavenly Father. Jesus suffered and was crucified for the sins of the world, giving each of God’s children the gift of repentance and forgiveness. Only by His mercy and grace can anyone be saved. His subsequent resurrection prepared the way for every person to overcome physical death as well. These events are called the Atonement. In short, Jesus Christ saves us from sin and death. For that, he is very literally our Savior and Redeemer. In the future Jesus Christ will return to reign on earth in peace for a thousand years. Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and He will be our Lord forever.
…Which Christians also believe and is straight from the Bible. If we both really believed this, we would both be on our way to Heaven and in a right relationship with God. But Joseph Smith, in the Pearl of Great Price, Joseph Smith-History 1:9-19, in reference to Presbyterians, Baptists, and Methodists, he says: “What is to be done? Who of all these parties are right; or, are they all wrong together? If any one of them be right, which is it, and how shall I know it? …I asked the Personages who stood above me in the light, which of all the sects was right (for at that time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong)…I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong… all their creeds were an abomination…all those professors were all corrupt.”
He says that “all their creeds were an abomination”, that is pretty strong language to say about Christians’ believe in the Atoning work of Christ which brings salvation, which is essentially what Mormon.org is quoting verbatim. How can what you just stated about the way to get to Heaven/salvation also be an abomination? Smith is saying that anyone not a Mormon is going to hell, but Christians all believe the exact doctrine Mormons state is what gets someone to heaven! This is an unanswered question I have about Mormonism, which seems like a huge contradiction to me.
Mormons also believe God the Father was begotten of the species of gods, who existed before him in an infinite series of gods who were once men, but Revelation 1:8; 21:6; 22:13 clearly tell us that God is the “Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” He has always been here and will always be here.
Mormons believe that God the Father was at one time a sinful human, as we are, was purified, and became God the Father. They believe the same about Jesus, who (I think) they say is the god of this earth. These directly contradict Scripture which very clearly tell us God doesn’t change:
Malachi 3:6 “I the LORD do not change. So you, O descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed.
Psalm 102:12 But you, O LORD, sit enthroned forever;
your renown endures through all generations.
Psalm 102:25-28 In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth,
and the heavens are the work of your hands.
They will perish, but you remain;
they will all wear out like a garment. Like clothing you will change them
and they will be discarded.
But you remain the same,
and your years will never end.
The children of your servants will live in your presence;
their descendants will be established before you.”
Hebrews 13:7-9 Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings.
James 1:17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
Beyond this, Mormons believe in many gods (and that we can become one), where Scripture clearly says there is only one God:
Romans 3:30 since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith.
Ephesians 4:6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
James 2:19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.
Mormons believe that the ultimate goal of humanity is to become a perfected god with a wife as a goddess:
o Heber C. Kimball, Journal of Discourses, 1:356 – When you have learned to become obedient to the Father that dwells upon this earth, to the Father and God of this earth, and obedient to the messengers He sends—when you have done all that, remember you are not going to leave this earth. You will never leave it until you become qualified, and capable, and capacitated to become a father of an earth yourselves.”
o Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 2:48 “The Father has promises us that through our faithfulness we shall be blessed with the fullness of his kingdom. In other words we will have the privilege of becoming like him. To become like him we must have all the powers of godhood; thus a man and his wife when glorified will have spirit children who eventually will go on an earth like this one we are on and pass through the same kind of experiences, being subject to mortal conditions, and if faithful, then they also will receive the fullness of exaltation and partake of the same blessings. There is not end to this development; it will go on forever”
You can’t find this anywhere in Scripture, and also contradicts the above verses about there only being one God.
And frankly, an embarrassing doctrine in Mormon writing that has nothing to do with Scripture and contradicts Galatians 3:28 (Gal. 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.), saying that the less valiant angels were cursed to become Negroes on earth:
o “We naturally conclude that others among the two-thirds did not show the loyalty to their Redeemer that they should. That the Negro race, for instance, have been placed under restrictions because of their attitude in the world of spirits , few will doubt.” Joseph Fielding Smith, The Way to Perfection, 1975, p. 43
o “Every man had his agency there, and men receive rewards here based upon their actions there, just as they will receive rewards hereafter for deeds done in the body. The Negro, evidently, is receiving the reward he merits” Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 1:65-66
I know that much of these contradictions rest on the Book of Mormon trumping the Bible in your view. The Mormon Elder who came to my house asked me why I believed God’s revelation to Moses on Mount Sinai (10 Commandments, etc.), but I don’t believe God’s revelation to Joseph Smith. My answer is very simple: Jesus did not affirm Joseph Smith’s revelation, but he did affirm Moses’ in Matthew 5:17-18, as well as the fact that Joseph Smith was not a direct eye-witness to Jesus or an eyewitness to the eyewitnesses (which is why we receive the New Testament as Scripture). And this brings up a huge question that I would love to get answered by a Mormon, which the Mormon Elder who came by my house could not answer: What is the difference between the claimed revelation to Joseph Smith compared to the claimed revelation to the Muslim prophet Mohammad? Mohammad allegedly received a revelation from God in a cave, telling him the contents of the Koran, which sounds nearly identical to Joseph Smith’s revelation about what to put in the Book of Mormon, or really any other claimed revelation from God which comes after the New Testament (e.g. David Karesh, Jim Jones, etc.). So what makes Joseph Smith’s differ in comparison to these others? The common threads in these examples is that they got their revelations long after Jesus’ life, they made a claim of God revealing Himself to them that anyone could claim, as there’s no way to validate their claim, and most importantly, all of these revelations directly contradict what we already have in the Old and New Testaments. The only answer my Mormon Elder visitor could give me is that in his heart he feels a peace from God that Mormonism is true, and also that he thinks this is the best way to live — something I’m sure all Muslims, and followers of various other faiths feel and believe, or else they wouldn’t believe these things and even die for them. Unfortunately, sincerity of belief is not enough to make something true.
Everyone is entitled to believe what they want, but the major hangup I have with both Mormons and JW’s is that they say they believe the Bible, and then there are these huge contradictions between the Bible and the other writings they have added to the Bible in their traditions. If you want to believe the Book or Mormon, you can, but don’t say you also believe the Bible because they say two very different things. Just say “I believe the Book of Mormon, but only bits and pieces of the Bible” as that would be much more accurate and honest. I know you said your goal in your blog was to debunk myths Christians believe about Mormonism; I’d honestly be very interested in reading that (if you address my above questions) because the response I got from the Mormon Elder who visited my house when I asked him all of the above questions, comparing Mormon belief to Scripture was “That’s really interesting/is confusing to me, I need to do more research on that.” Which to me is someone’s way of seeing that there are contradictions but he’s obviously too invested in the Mormon culture to pull out of it.