Are Mormons Christians?
(This is Vic's response to a Letter to the Editor of the Klamath Falls Herald and News, a letter which claimed Mormons are Christians. This is Vic's rebuttal).
Last week’s article claiming Mormons are Christians requires a response from the Christian community. Mormon president, Gordon Hinckley, stated, “Of course we’re Christian. The very name of the church declares that.” He also said his flock is well within the Christian fold.
In recent years, Mormons have changed their marketing technique. Instead of emphasizing their uniqueness as the only true and living church upon the earth, they are now sounding Christian in order to blend in with other churches and win new converts. Their advertising and discussions with potential converts are now using Christian terminology to sound like they are just another Christian denomination. But are their definitions of those terms the same as Christians?
It is important to know how Mormons view the history of the early Christian church. They believe the authority Christ entrusted to His church was lost soon after the death of the last original apostle. As a result of a “Great Apostasy,” they claim Christ’s church was no longer valid because it lost its authority and had to be restored. Joseph Smith claimed Christ’s priestly authority was re-administered to him by John the Baptist, Peter, James and John so he could restore Christ’s original church. As a result, Mormon scripture states that all other churches are wrong, all their creeds are abominable and all who profess those creeds are corrupt.
In order for a church to be considered Christian, it has to believe in certain foundational doctrines that have been given to us by Christ and defined by His Church.
Let’s see if Mormonism meets the doctrinal test of Christianity.
Firstly, Christianity teaches there is only one God who has always existed and is the absolute origin and creator of everything. God is a spirit and is one in nature, substance, and essence. The Trinity, God, Son, and Holy Spirit all fully possess the same divine nature of the one God.
Mormons believe that God was born as a man and lived a righteous life and was, after his death, exalted to Godhood. Joseph Smith taught, “As God is, man can be and as man is, God once was.” In other words, the god of Mormons was originally a man and every man has the potential to become a god. Since god is glorified man, he possesses a physical body of flesh and bones.
The god of earth took his wife or wives with him and procreated billions of spirit children. It is the responsibility of people on earth to give these spirit children physical bodies, so they, in turn, have the opportunity to become a future god. Those people, after death, who achieve godhood will then acquire their own planet and have spirit children who will worship and pray to them. As a result, Mormons believe in eternal progression.
Their god is named “Elohim” and it is he who is considered to be fully worshipped. Although Mormons only worship God of earth, they acknowledge that there are many gods in existence. This makes them polytheistic.
Secondly, Christianity teaches that Jesus is fully God and is worthy of our complete worship. We believe Christ was begotten of the Holy Spirit and became God incarnate. Christ’s redemption can forgive every sin and salvation is a free gift to everyone who accepts it.
The Mormon teaching of Jesus is he was a spirit child of god (Elohim) and his wife. Lucifer was also Jesus’ spirit brother. In addition, there were billions of other spirit children procreated by God.
While in this pre-existent state, God called a council to determine how best to make gods out of these spirit children. Jesus and Lucifer responded with plans. Christ’s plan was that he would be born a man, would teach and organize a church, and then suffer a redeeming death so all who accepted him would be saved. Under Jesus’ plan, people would be given free will but not all would be assured of returning back to heaven. Lucifer countered by offering to save all people through depriving them of free will and thus preventing them from sinning.
God chose Jesus’ plan. As a result, Lucifer rebelled and was joined by one-third of the spirit children who would never be born and receive physical bodies. As a result, they would have no chance of salvation.
In order for Jesus to obtain a physical body to carry out his plan of salvation, God directly participated in the Lord’s earthly conception. Although Jesus carried out his plan of salvation, Mormons do not equate Jesus as equal to God the Father since is he was an offspring of God. Though Mormons call Jesus, God, they are not permitted to pray to him. All prayer is to go directly to the Father, in the name of the Son. Nor may Jesus be worshipped as God the Father. Jesus is known for fulfilling his plan of allowing people to enter heaven and possibly become a future god. Mormons believe in three levels of heaven where only the highest level is reserved for those who become a god.
Mormons have taught Jesus’ shed blood and death is not sufficient to forgive every sin. There are some sins for which his redemption is inadequate. If one is guilty of these sins is to have any chance of redemption his own blood must be shed in atonement.
When exposed to their faith, you will find Mormons appear to be Christians. Ask yourself, are you also getting the complete details behind those messages such as their core beliefs? They can use the same terminology, but if their meanings of foundational beliefs such as God and Christ are radically different from Christianity, they cannot be considered Christian.
Do the research yourself. Find out what Mormonism teaches about the foundational components of Christianity such as God, Christ, Trinity, and salvation. I believe core beliefs determine if a church is Christian. It’s not because Christ is in the name of its church.
Mormon Beliefs Outline
By Vic Scaravilli
1. Great apostasy – authority of Christ was lost after the death of the last apostle
2. The authority was restored to Joseph Smith by God and Jesus
3. Claim either Catholics or Mormons is the true Church because of authority
1. Once was a man who became exulted by obedience to Mormon “rules.”
2. Was Adam who progressed to become God of this planet
3. “As God is, man can be and as man is, God once was.”
4. Many Gods, polytheistic, there are MANY Gods
5. Has a physical body of flesh and bones
6. Name is “Elohim”
7. Is a man
1. Half God and half man – God the Father had sex with Mary.
2. Brother of Satan
3. Was married
4. Is not to be worshipped because he is a “lesser” God than God the Father
1. Received revelation from God in 1820 in the form of an appearance from both God and Jesus.
2. Angel Moroni instructed him to dig up 2 golden plates that was translated into the Book of Mormon
3. All denominations are corrupt and was to restore the “true” church because of Great Apostasy
4. Considered a prophet and can receive new revelation from God
5. Wrote three books – Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price. Book of Mormon was taught by Smith, “Is the most correct of any book on earth and the keystone of our religion and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts than by any other book.”
Book of Mormon is about 2 groups of people who were God’s choosen people who migrated to the Americas; Nephites and Lamenites, and their story.
1. 3 Levels – Telestial for non-believers; Terrestial for good non-Mormons and lukewarm Mormons; Celestial for married Mormons who lived according to the rules of Mormonism and will become a God.
2. Only a temporary hell – people will then go to the lowest form of heaven.
1. Can become a God
2. Atonement of Christ cannot cover for some sins – murder, adultery, serious crimes
3. Lead “good” lives so they can become a God – be obedient to the laws and ordinances of the gospel of the Mormon church
4. Led by a President who is the prophet and then is a quorum of 12 Apostles
5. Prophet receives continuous revelation from God and can be contrary to previous revelations
6. Have large families so they can give mortal bodies to “spirit children” conceived by God and his wife
7. Genealogies to determine ancestors and baptize them in proxy in temples so they can achieve a higher heaven
8. Do not believe in the Trinity – Only God the Father is the God that is worshipped
Holy Spirit is third member of the Godhead but separate from God and Jesus
9. God an his wife are constantly having “spirit children”
10. Are forbidden to pray to Jesus or the Holy Spirit
1. Only Mormons with a “temple recommend” card may enter
2. Attendance is required for those going to the highest heaven
3. Where all of the secrets of salvation are given
4. Where baptism of the dead is performed
Mormon Apologetics: Part One
By Vic Scaravilli
Gal. 1:8-9 “If we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let that one be accursed!”
How do you tell what is another gospel message?” Compare it to a standard established in the Bible!
Basic Gospel Message verses, or kerygma, of the Christian Church
Bible verses Mormons claim tell us there was a “Great Apostasy.”
Canonicity of the Bible
This fact was never taught by the Church Fathers or is documented in the history of the Church.
Mormon Apologetics: Part Two
By Vic Scaravilli
Mormon teaching on the physical nature of God
Joseph Smith taught: “God was once as we are now and is an exalted man and sits enthroned in yonder heavens! That is a great secret. If the veil were rent today, and the great God who holds this world in its orbit, and who upholds all worlds and all things by his power was to make himself visible – 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.”
Doctrine and Covenants 130:22, “the Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s.”
Bible verses Mormons claim God has a physical body
Mormon teaching on the plurality of gods
Joseph Smith taught, “As God is, man can be and as man is, God once was.”
Bible verses Mormons use to justify there are many gods
Gen. 1:26 (The Hebrew word for God in this verse is Elohim which is a plural noun.)
Not historical. No Church Father ever taught there was more than one God.
Biblical reference of who first taught the doctrine that you can become a god.
Mormon Apologetics: Part Three
By Vic Scaravilli
Mormon teaching on heaven
Bible verse they use to “prove” their doctrine of heaven.
“There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star is different from another star in glory.”
Article of Faith
Article 13 is a declaration of the type of life a latter-day saint is expected to live after death.
The three levels of heaven
This glory comes to those who received the testimony of Jesus, believed in his name, were baptized, who overcame by faith, and are sealed by the Holy Spirit. (Doctrine and Covenants 76:51-53)
For married Mormons who have lived according to all of the rules of Mormonism and will become a god.
God the Father rules here.
This level is for those who lived honorable lives on earth, but were blinded by the craftiness of men and were not valiant in the testimony of Jesus. For good non-Mormons (Christians) and lukewarm Mormons.
Jesus Christ rules in this level.
This is for those who on earth willfully rejected the Mormon gospel of Jesus Christ, commit serious sins such as murder, adultery, lying, and who do not repent in morality.
The lowest level of heaven for non-believers. Most of mankind ends up here.
The Holy Spirit is ruler here.
Mormon understanding of obtaining the highest level of heaven
A person must work by following all of the rules of the Mormon church and be married and sealed in a temple.
Christian answer to how is a person saved