by Michael R. Bott
They are clean‑cut,
healthy‑looking and always friendly. But are they really
God's ambassadors? I had always wondered about this, so
one summer afternoon I accosted a Mormon and asked him
if he could spare some time to come into my house and
talk about his faith. The bulk of this article is made
up of what I have discovered about Mormon doctrine
through these discussions with Mormon missionaries.
Scripture "Plus" vs Scripture Alone
Christianity is a
black or white religion. Unless our beliefs are based on
the Bible it is highly unlikely that our beliefs are
Christian. It is, therefore, a valuable rule of thumb,
in detecting a cult to first ask the question, "Are your
beliefs based solely upon the 66 books of the Bible? If
someone answers either: "No!" or "Yes and some other
sacred writings as well", then your alarm bells should
start ringing. Mormons will state that they acknowledge
the divine authority of the Bible but go on also to
acknowledge as divinely authoritative: The Book of
Mormon (BM), Doctrine and Covenants (D&C) the Pearl of
Great Price (PGP) and the ongoing prophetic messages
that flow from the President of their Church. As Joseph
Smith, the founder of Mormonism, wrote in PGP, The
Articles of Faith, vv. 8‑9:
believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is
translated correctly ; we also believe the Book of
Mormon to be the word of God.
9 We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does
now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many
great and important things pertaining, to the Kingdom of
believe in continuing revelation from their Prophet. The
prophet is their President (similar in rank to the
Catholic Pope), who, following in the tradition of the
first President (Joseph Smith), is appointed
"... to be a presiding elder over
[the] church. to be a translator, a revelator, a seer,
and prophet" (D&C 124:125)
The Book of Mormon
comes down hard on evangelicals who insist on the Bible
as their sole source of authority on matters of faith,
for it states:
Thou fool, that shall say: a Bible, we have got a Bible,
and we need no more Bible. Have ye obtained a Bible save
it were by the Jews?
9. And I do this that I may prove unto many that I am
the same yesterday, today, and forever; and that I speak
forth my words according to mine own pleasure. And
because that 1 have spoken one word ye need not suppose
that I cannot speak another; for my work is not yet
10. Wherefore, because that ye have a Bible ye need not
suppose that it contains all my words. neither need ye
suppose that 1 have not caused more to be written.
(BM, 2 Nephi 29:6‑10)
Verse 9 above is a
particularly convenient text for Mormons as it allows
them to explain away some of the contradictions in the
ongoing revelations from their church. But before we
deal with this topic, we must confine ourselves to the
question of authority. Mormons are not alone in claiming
continued special revelation from God. Muslims have
their Koran. spiritualists have their sťances and some
people in Waco had David Koresh. This alone should
indicate that one should avoid accepting continuing
revelation without due consideration Why should we
accept the Mormons' claim? Mormons are not the only ones
who claim to have the sole source of divine authority,
so do Jehovah's Witnesses, as did cult leader David
Koresh. So how do Mormons justify then claims? When I
asked a teen‑aged Mormon elder this question, with
wisdom befitting his years, he drew my attention to the
Book of Mormon. More particularly, Moroni 10 3‑4:
Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these
things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them,
that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been
unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even
down until the time that ye shall receive these things,
and ponder it in your hearts.
4. And when ye shall receive these things, I would
exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in
the name of Christ, if these things are not true, and if
ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent,
having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it
unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.
Here we have a
wonderful example of the circular logic and subjective
reasoning which is the hallmark of Mormon apologetics.
The basic Mormon formula for determining whether their
doctrine is true (i.e. is Joseph Smith a prophet of
God?), is to read his writings, and after so doing, if
you pray to God with a sincere heart (Mor. 10.4), he
will manifest the truth of it with a burning in your
bosom ("... if it
will cause that your bosom shall burn within you.,
therefore, you shall feel that it is right"
If you pray to God
according to this formula and get back a resounding
"NO!", then you were not praying with a sincere heart.
The trouble with this type of "apologetics" is that
Muslim fanatics also feel in their hearts that Muhammad
was their greatest prophet. Countless other faiths
likewise feel in their hearts that each of their
particular founders was the chief source of truth.
Perhaps a better way of evaluating the credibility of
Mormonism is to see whether their revelations are
consistent. In court, one way of determining whether the
accused is guilty or innocent, is to examine his story
for consistency through all the occasions he had to give
Polytheism vs the Trinity
When we apply this
principle to Mormonism, we see that it is plagued with
problems from the outset. Take the question as to
whether there is one God or many. Mormon 7:7 (BM)
appears to affirm traditional Christian doctrine when it
states that the Father, Son and Holy Ghost
"are one God" (cf. Mos.
15:4). Joseph Smith further writes of:
the only and true doctrine of the Father, and of the
Son, and of the Holy Ghost, which is one God, without
(2 Nephi 31:21)
When Zeezrom, one of
the characters mentioned in the book of Alma, asked
Amulek, a man who said
"nothing ... contrary to
the Spirit of the Lord",
"Is there more
than one God?"
Amulek answered emphatically, "...
No" (Alma 11:22, 28‑29, BM).
Later, Joseph Smith
changed his mind and wrote in D&C 121.28 of:
[a] time to come in the which nothing shall be withheld,
whether there be one God or many gods, they shall be
In Abraham 4:1 of PGP,
we read of Gods organising and forming the heavens and
To get around this
contradiction between the Book of Mormon stating that
there is but one God and D&C and PGP declaring that
there are many gods, Mormons resort to a line of
reasoning used by Jehovah's Witnesses regarding Jesus
and the Father being one. They say that the Gods are one
in purpose. This argument does not do justice to the
question posed to Amulek in BM about whether there is
more than one God. To do justice to Joseph Smith's later
revelation, Zeezrom should have asked, "Do the Gods
always agree"", but he did not. To stretch the plain
meaning of the text as Mormons do is theological
In the creation story
of Abraham 4. 1 in PGP, we read that:
the gods organised and formed the heavens and the earth.
What is not used is
the word "creating", Mormons do not believe that God(s)
made matter, which is why D&C 93:33 says:
man is spirit. The elements are eternal ...
This is quite strange
when BM (2 Nephi 14) declares that:
there is a God, and he hath created all things, both the
heavens and the earth, and all things that are in them
Thus, while official
Mormon dogma maintains the eternal existence of matter,
their official books both deny and affirm it. Further,
if God did not make matter, but it had existed at least
as long as He has, then there is the possibility that
there is a Cause greater than God who made both Him and
matter. One Mormon elder I spoke to privately admitted
that this was a possibility
Mormons also have to
live with contradictions between their later sacred
books and the Bible. Mormons believe that God the Father
has a physical, fleshly body: "The
Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as
man's: the Son also ..." (D&C 130:22). This
stands in sharp contrast to the Bible:
God is a Spirit: and they
that worship him must worship him in spirit and in
Luke 24:39: Behold my
hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and
see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me
have. (NB: all Scripture quotations in this
article are from the King James Version, which is also
the version used by Mormons)
When I ask Mormons
about this, they inevitably refer to Scriptural passages
referring to the "hand of the Lord" which apparently
suggest a physical body. I always counter with
Scriptural references to Christ as the door or the vine
and ask them, "So, if you take that literally, do you
believe in a Jesus who sprouts leaves and has roots?"
One more problem with the Mormon idea of God having only
a physical body is that a physical body can only be
present in one place at any time. This contradicts those
Scriptural passages which say that God is omnipresent.
As David wrote in Ps. 139:7, "...
where can 1 flee from thy presence?". The implied
answer to this rhetorical question is "Nowhere'. God is
Rising Gods vs Fallen Men
Mormons also believe
that we were all spirit children living in the presence
of our Heavenly Father before our enfleshment (PGP,
Abraham 3,23‑24) Not only were we God's spirit children,
but we also had Jesus and Lucifer as our elder brothers
(PGP Moses 4:1‑4 and Abraham 3:27‑28). The very idea
that we were once spirit children in a pre‑existence is
totally foreign to the teaching of the Bible. 1
Corinthians 15:46 teaches us plainly that the spiritual
is not first; but the natural; then the spiritual.
The question now
arises as to what caused this happy family to break up.
In a nutshell, according to Mormonism, God proposed a
plan for our eternal progression to Godhood. He wanted
all His spirit children to graduate, becoming
fully‑fledged Gods like Himself (D&C 132:19‑20). To do
this, we had to learn the difference between good and
evil. To facilitate our schooling, God set some of the
leading spirit children (Gods) the task of forming the
earth, so we could come to earth, gain physical bodies
and learn good from evil. God called a council of
leading spirits with the aim of sending one of these
Junior Gods down to earth to help us "learn the ropes".
Jesus pipped Lucifer for the job, so Lucifer became
jealous and organised a rebellion. Lucifer managed to
persuade one third of the spirit children to follow him
and rebel against the plan to follow Jesus. These
rebellious spirits were cast down to earth without
bodies of flesh and blood (D&C, 29:36‑37 and PGP,
Abraham 3:28). God's anger also extends to those
descendants of the people of Canaan who were turned
black as a mark of God's curse As Moses 7:8 (PGP)
behold, the Lord shall curse the land with much heat,
and the barrenness thereof shall go forth forever; and
there was a blackness came upon all the children of
Canaan, that they were despised among all people.
This last quote
explains why, until recently, blacks were
prohibited from holding high office in the Mormon
This fine yarn, aside
from having no Biblical basis whatsoever, is totally
Satanic in origin. A major indicator that this is so, is
the fact that the goal of Mormonism is the individual's
progression to Godhood. This repeats the seductive lie
used by the serpent to deceive Eve in the Garden of
For God doth know that in
the day ye cat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened,
and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
Satan tempted Adam and
Eve with the desire to become Gods. Mormonism repeats
this Satanic lie by saying that we human beings can
become Gods. It teaches that one vital step to Godhood
was Adam's original sin which is considered to be
meritorious (PGP, Moses 5: 10‑11, BM, 2 Nephi 2:22‑25):
And now, behold, if Adam had not transgressed he would
not have fallen, but he would have remained in the
garden of Eden. And all things which were created must
have remained in the same state in which they were after
they were created., and they must have remained forever,
and had no end.
23. And they would have had no children,‑ wherefore they
would have remained in a state of innocence, having no
joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they
knew no sin.
24. But behold, all things have been done in the wisdom
of him who knoweth all things.
25. Adam fell that men might be, and men are, that they
might have JOY.
Adam was given two
instructions by God in the Garden of Eden: 1) be
fruitful and multiply (Gen. 1:28) and 2) do not eat of
"the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen. 2:17).
Mormonism teaches that God knowingly put Adam in a
Catch‑22 situation. Mormons assume that Adam knowing
neither good nor evil and being in a state of innocence,
could not have had sexual relations with Eve. However,
by not having such relations it would have meant
violating God's commandment to procreate. It would also
have meant that the plan for placing our pre-existing
spirits into human bodies would have ground to a halt.
Accordingly, Adam, in order to fulfil the plan of God,
had to gain knowledge of good and evil, and in so doing
disobey God. Aside from the fact that this is totally
unscriptural, this paints a picture of God as being
totally unfair in giving Adam two laws which were
impossible to keep concurrently To keep the one would
mean the violation of the other. There is also the
unsubstantiated premise that for Adam to have
intercourse with Eve entailed his knowledge of good and
evil. To claim this is purely fantastic.
In the Bible, one of
the results of the Fall is the corruption of what God
had declared as good. Eve, as a result of the Fall, is
told that her pain in childbirth would be greatly
multiplied (Gen. 3:16). This implies that there was a
pre‑Fall state in which it was possible for her to bear
children with significantly less pain than after the
Fall. If it were possible to bear children in the
pre‑Fall state, then obviously Adam and Eve were capable
of conceiving children before the Fall.
Baptism for the Dead
One of the strangest
points of Mormon doctrine is their rite of baptism for
the dead. This ritual conjures up images of Mormons
meeting in the dead of night to dunk the cadavers of
their loved ones in their church fonts. But this is not
so. The ritual is a form of baptism, whereby a living
Mormon is vicariously baptized for those who have died
as unbelievers. These departed non‑Mormon spirits exist
in a form of purgatory. If they choose to accept baptism
carried out in their name, they become "heirs of
For it is ordained that
in ... those places which 1 have appointed for refuge,
shall be the places for your baptisms for your dead.
The dead who repent will
be redeemed, through obedience to the ordinances of the
house of God, 59 And after they have they have paid the
penalty of their transgressions, and are washed clean,
shall receive a reward according to their works, for
they are heirs of salvation.
Mormons also claim
that this doctrine is found in the Bible in 1
what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if
the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for
Aside from the dubious
practice of building a doctrine upon one Bible verse,
this passage. If interpreted in the Mormon way would
have Scripture contradicting Scripture, God, in Hebrews
9,27, states emphatically: "And as it is appointed unto
men once to die, but after this the judgment." Jesus
asks in Matthew 16:26: "For what is a man profited, if
he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?"
The tenor of this question suggests that salvation is
granted in this life only; after this, if you have lived
totally for the world or yourself, you totally forfeit
any chance of redemption.
Mormon exegesis of 1 Cor. 15.29 is not the best
explanation. Paul does not commend the practice, and we
must note "that Paul referred to
those (not "we") who are "baptized for the dead".1
Dr. Gleason Archer also makes a strong case for a
non‑Mormon interpretation. He notes that in the Greek
the words baptized "for the dead" can be translated "for
the sake of the dead". Archer paints the picture of a
righteous Christian in the early church surrounded by
his loved ones. Before he dies he makes an earnest
entreaty to unbelievers to become Christians and be
baptized. Such an appeal in an emotionally charged
situation would be very effective. One can imagine a
wayward son, after the death of his Christian father,
acting on his father's advice and repenting, becoming a
Christian and being baptized. Such a young man, in every
sense of the word, can be said to have been baptized for
the sake of his father.2
by Works or by Faith Alone?
Perhaps one of the
saddest things about Mormonism, is that even if it were
true, Mormons can never have full assurance of personal
salvation. They believe that Christ's shed blood is not
a sufficient basis for God to forgive a man's sins.
Mormons believe that it Is through Christ's atonement
and their own obedience to the prescribed laws and
ordinances that one is saved.
PGP, Articles of Faith 3: We believe that through the
Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by
obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel
(cf. D&C 138:4)
One example of this is
Mormon tithing. D&C 119:1‑5 instructs Mormons to pay
their surplus property and money as tithes giving one
tenth of their interest annually to the church. As an
added incentive, the Mormon is told.
that is tithed shall not be burned at his [the Lord's]
coming. (D&C 64.23)
This is totally
foreign to the Bible. Mormonism teaches that Christ's
work only takes you half‑way to Heaven's gate; man's
work must get you the rest of the way. The Bible teaches
that salvation is on the ground of Christ's merit alone:
grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of
yourselves: it is the gift of God.
Indeed, the Scripture
teaches that "... by the deeds of
the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight"
(Romans 3:20) This gospel message stands in sharp
contrast to the false Mormon teachings which hold that
the Atonement provided merely the opportunity for men to
achieve their own salvation. The Bible has strong words
for people who believe this:
they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going
about to establish their own righteousness, have not
submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.
In conclusion, we may
find it hard to take Mormon teachings seriously, but we
must do so.
People are being
deceived by a lie and their souls are being lost. We
must learn all we can about this and every other cult.
We must stress the fact that God does not change:
I am the LORD, I change not. therefore ye sons of
Jacob are not consumed. (Mal.
Christ the same yesterday, and today, and for ever.
(Heb. 13:8) No‑one can rationally believe concurrently
that there is one God but also many gods; that God/gods
did not create everything but also created all there is,
that God is flesh and bones and not spirit but is also
Spirit. But above all, we must proclaim that we are
saved by God's grace alone.
if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise
grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is
it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.
(Rom. 11: 6)
Mormons tell us that
they believe their doctrines despite all the problems
and contradictions because of the "burning in their
bosoms". That is, they feel in their hearts that what
they believe is right. We must be wary of using our
hearts as a guide for truth. The Bible tells us in
heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately
wicked: who can know it?
Which is why Proverbs
is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end
thereof are the ways of death.
The Bible Knowledge Commentary.
(Victor Books. 1984) p. 544. [Return
Gleason L. Archer.
Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties.
(Grand Rapids: Zondervan. 1982) pp. 401‑421.
Examining the Cults.
(Lincoln, Nebraska: The Good News Broadcasting
Association, Inc., 1986)
C. McElveen. The
The Bible, the Christian,
and Latter‑Day Saints.
Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1966)
Decker, Ed. The
(Oregon. Harvest House
Hunt, Dave. The
(Oregon. Harvest House
Publishing, 1980 edition)
©2002 Wellington Christian Apologetics Society
(Inc.) All Rights Reserved.
Previously published in
Apologia (The Journal of the Wellington Christian Apologetics Society)
Vol.3, No.2, p.19-24 1994