Folks, please read this series, even if you live out East where Mormonism is not that big an “issue.” The complicit cooperation of alleged “evangelicals” in deceiving Christians about the nature of Mormonism represents a trend relevant to all sorts of apologetics issues today. Read on!
I have been presenting the statements of LDS leaders (not current BYU academics, but the apostles and prophets of the LDS church across the century and a half of its existence) regarding the fundamental difference between Mormonism and Christianity: Christianity is unalterably monotheistic, believing in one eternal God, Creator of all things. Mormonism denies this foundational truth, knowingly and purposefully, instead teaching a rank form of polytheism (which they prefer to dub “the plurality of gods”), wherein god and man are of the same “species,” just at different points along the spectrum of exaltation. This is not just a “doctrinal difference.” In many ways, Islam is foundationally closer to Christianity than Mormonism is. Did you catch that? Evidently the vast majority of right-wing politicos who wish to court the “evangelical vote” have missed that statement, or reject it out of hand, but facts are facts.
Now, I have not commented on Mitt Romney’s politics. I have no interest in distracting people with getting involved in promoting or opposing Romney’s candidacy. My point is simple: when discussing Mormonism, at least have the honesty to represent it truthfully. Don’t spin it. Don’t lie about it. Don’t dodge it. Let it speak for itself. In my opinion, a very small percentage of current office holders in the United States are actually believers in the first place. In most races, you are voting for unbelievers–they are the only choices. Sadly, many claim to be “Christians” but have no concept of the faith or the demands of the Lordship of Christ. So if you are comfortable voting for a pure pagan, why not a polytheist? I do have a concern, however, over whether Romney will have the honesty to actually admit to the teachings of the LDS faith (he surely cannot claim ignorance of them). But that is another issue.
We have documented on this site many times the apostasy of post-evangelicals regarding the abandonment of the uniqueness of the Christian gospel in reference to Roman Catholicism. Many who parade under the “evangelical” banner have no problems abandoning justification by faith and the perfection of the work of Christ so as to hold hands with Rome, and when John Paul II died, this tendency exploded before our eyes in cascades of praise and the immediate confession of the Pope’s entrance into paradise itself. Likewise, Beckwith’s return to Rome has revealed that the number of those professing the gospel to be definitional of the Christian faith continues to plummet in the ranks of post-evangelicalism.
Likewise, even Trinitarian heresy is forgivable as long as you can sing (PC&D) or preach loudly while wearing Armani (Jakes). But since Oneness heresies only impact the primary area of Trinitarian theology that most post-evangelicals do not understand anyway (the relationship of the divine persons), they’ve generally been given a “pass.” Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses, up until recently, have been universally recognized as being cultic, thoroughly opposed to orthodox Christian faith, and outside Christian fellowship.
But over the past decades, as Mormons have sought to main-stream, some in evangelicalism have been more than willing to assist in the cause. Most famous among them is Fuller Theological Seminary President Richard Mouw. Through his influence, many others have been drawn into the “dialogue” with Mormonism. Of course, I am all for dialogue: we should be calling all Mormons to repent of the idolatry of worshiping an exalted man who lives on a planet that circles a star named Kolob (Abraham 3:9-10) and embrace the living and true God through faith in the true Jesus Christ. I have engaged in that kind of dialogue for decades myself. This is a far cry from the “lets sit around and share our experiences” “dialogue” that has become popular today. Mormonism has no place at the table of Christian dialogue, anymore than the prophets of Baal had place to “discuss our similarities and differences” with Elijah. The Holy Spirit said it well, “However at that time, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those which by nature are no gods” (Gal. 4:8). That does not say, “at that time, you sorta knew God, but sorta didn’t, and were slaves to those which by nature are not as accurately to be called gods as we would like.” You do not show God’s love to those trapped in idolatrous religion by nudging them a bit “closer” to the truth, hoping that in a few generations they will be “close enough.”
Today I was sent a URL by Randy Brandt to an article in the publication that should be called “What Parades as Christianity Today.” And once again we find Robert Millet, the Academic Apostle of Mormonism, Eerdmans author, and general sales-person of Mormonism to a completely non-discerning post-evangelical world, writing in such a fashion as to promote his faith. The article is titled:
Can conservative Protestants vote for a member of what they consider a cult?
Robert Millet and Gerald McDermott
The refrains are the same, but why should they not be? Obviously the chant is working. Repetition seems to be working. But what truly concerns me here is the abject dishonesty of this article. Yes, simple dishonesty. Anyone who knows the truth can see it, but, evidently, Millet (and McDermott?) are hoping those who know better are a small enough group to be avoided. Note their words,
But evangelicals are reluctant to vote for a Mormon. Historically, evangelicals and Mormons have demonized each other. Evangelicals consider the Church of Latter-day Saints to be a cult and typically think Mormons are not real Christians.
Demonized? If you mean the Mormon leadership has proclaimed the LDS Church the one true church on earth and denounced Christian doctrine, quite true. And if you mean that some calling themselves Christians have written horribly flawed, inaccurate, despicable about Mormonism, quite true. But I am personally sick and tired of the Millets and Mouws of the world pretending to speak for me. I have bent over backwards to speak the truth about Mormonism, both in representing it, and in presenting the truths of the Christian faith in response to it. It is not to “demonize” to say “Mormonism is a false religion with a false god, false savior, and a false gospel, founded by a false prophet,” if, in fact, you can demonstrate, clearly, the truthfulness of each element of such a statement!
Is a Christian a monotheist? The answer to that question from every possible viewpoint is a resounding “yes.” There is no more basic, foundational confession for the Christian faith than “there is one true, eternal God.” And there is likewise nothing disputable about the fact that Mormonism denies this very truth. So no matter how strongly one may wish it were otherwise, Mormonism is, by definition, a religion other than Christianity, and unalterably opposed thereto. I personally respect the Mormon who is open about this. I do not respect the Mormon who tries to hide this fact, though he knows, sitting in the Celestial Room of the temple in his full temple regalia, that his religion is opposed to mine (and if you don’t know what I am talking about, you don’t know a lot about Mormonism).
Evangelicals accuse Mormons of adding new revelation (the Book of Mormon) to the Bible. They think Mormons teach that humans are saved by good works rather than by Jesus Christ, and that humans are of the same species as Jesus and can someday attain his status. In addition, evangelicals say, Mormons reject key Christian doctrines such as the Trinity and creatio ex nihilo (God creating the world out of nothing).
This is where the dishonesty switches into high gear, and if this in any way represents the upcoming publication written by Millet and McDermott, yet another major theological and apologetic disaster is waiting to go to press. Let’s correct the spin and speak the truth:
1) There is no question that Mormonism claims “latter-day revelation” and an expanded canon of Scripture, not just including the Book of Mormon (as inaccurately noted here), but the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price, along with the ability to add further revelation via the living prophet.
2) “They think Mormons teach that humans are saved by good works rather than by Jesus Christ.” This is a purposefully misleading statement. No one would say “rather than by Jesus Christ.” It is the diminishment of Christ’s saviorhood to the point where He is dependent upon the free will of the creature that is central to Mormonism, along with a grossly defective hamartiology (doctrine of sin) and, of course, a horrible anthropology (view of man). All one has to do is read 2 Nephi 25:23 and Moroni 10:32 and the commentaries thereon written by authorized authorities of the LDS Church (rather than BYU professors) to understand the viewpoint of Mormonism when it comes to grace and faith. It is nigh unto rank Pelagianism.
2 Nephi 25:23 For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.
Should you think this is just a poorly phrased synonym for what Christians believe, please note this definition, published by the LDS Church in their Bible Dictionary:
It is through the grace of the Lord Jesus, made possible by his atoning sacrifice, that mankind will be raised in immortality, every person receiving his body from the grave in a condition of everlasting life. It is likewise through the grace of the Lord that individuals, through faith in the atonement of Jesus Christ and repentance of their sins, receive strength and assistance to do good works that they otherwise would not be able to maintain if left to their own means. This grace is an enabling power that allows men and women to lay hold on eternal life and exaltation after they have expended their own best efforts.
Divine grace is needed by every soul in consequence of the fall of Adam and also because of man’s weaknesses and shortcomings. However, grace cannot suffice without total effort on the part of the recipient. Hence the explanation, “It is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do” (2 Ne. 25: 23).
Moroni 10:32 Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.
Read that again. Note the order. You deny yourself of all ungodliness, and you love God perfectly, and then the grace of Christ is sufficient for you. The very idea that anyone could even begin to do these things outside of the all-sufficiency of the grace of Christ is mind-boggling—at least for the Christian. The Bible-believing Christian. The one who actually takes it seriously. Man, it is hard to describe serious Christianity anymore with all the fakes running about!
4) “…and that humans are of the same species as Jesus and can someday attain his status.” Another twisted statement. The correct statement is that we are of the same species as God (the Father, Elohim), and that Jesus is Elohim’s first begotten spirit-child. Yes, that would mean we are of the same species as Jesus, but that would not mean that we “can someday attain to his status,” if by that it means the savior of this planet. But there is no question, whatsoever, of the statement that we are of the same species as God and can become gods ourselves, as the series I am posting has already documented, and will document to the nth degree in the future. But, irony of ironies, here is one citation from Mitt Romney’s 2nd cousin, a General Authority of the LDS Church, Marion Romney, that says it as clearly as it needs to be said:
This knowledge of God opened up to Joseph Smith, as it does to all of us, a vision with infinite promise. We all know that like begets like and that for the offspring to grow to the stature of his parent is a process infinitely repeated in nature. We can therefore understand that for a son of God to grow to the likeness of his Father in heaven is in harmony with natural law. We see this law demonstrated every few years in our own experience. Sons born to mortal fathers grow up to be like their fathers in the flesh. This is the way it will be with spirit sons of God. They will grow up to be like their Father in heaven. Joseph taught this obvious truth. As a matter of fact, he taught that through this process God himself attained perfection. From President Snow’s understanding of the teachings of the Prophet on this doctrinal point, he coined the familiar couplet: As man is, God once was; as God is, man may become. This teaching is peculiar to the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. (Conference Report 1964, Oct:49-50, LDSCL)
There are a number of “Pratts” in the early Romney family tree as well, and one such famous Pratt is Parley Pratt, another General Authority of the LDS Church, an apostle, and he wrote,
Gods, angels and men are all of one species, one race, one great family, widely diffused among the planetary systems, as colonies, kingdoms, nations, &c. . . . Each of these Gods, including Jesus Christ and His Father, being in possession of not merely an organized spirit, but a glorious immortal body of flesh and bones, is subject to the laws which govern, of necessity, even the most refined order of physical existence. (Parley P. Pratt, Key to the Science of Theology, 10th ed., (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1948), pp. 33, 37, LDSCL.)
One more should be sufficient, as it is from the darling of modern LDS writers, Stephen Robinson, formerly of BYU:
The Father, Elohim, is called the Father because he is the literal father of the spirits of mortals (Heb. 12:9). This paternity is not allegorical. All individual human spirits were begotten (not created from nothing or made) by the Father in a premortal state, where they lived and were nurtured by Heavenly Parents. These spirit children of the Father come to earth to receive mortal bodies; there is a literal family relationship among humankind. Joseph Smith taught, If men do not comprehend the character of God, they do not comprehend themselves (TPJS, p. 343). Gods and humans represent a single divine lineage, the same species of being, although they and he are at different stages of progress. This doctrine is stated concisely in a well-known couplet by President Lorenzo Snow: As man now is, God once was: as God now is, man may be (see Godhood). . . . The important points of the doctrine for Latter-day Saints are that Gods and humans are the same species of being, but at different stages of development in a divine continuum, and that the heavenly Father and Mother are the heavenly pattern, model, and example of what mortals can become through obedience to the gospel (see Mother in Heaven). (Daniel H Ludlow, ed. The Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 4 vols., (New York: Macmillan Publishing, 1992), Volume 2, “God the Father,” LDSCL)
5) “In addition, evangelicals say, Mormons reject key Christian doctrines such as the Trinity and creatio ex nihilo (God creating the world out of nothing).” And they are quite right to say so, as again, these are not disputed assertions.