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Mormons (Latter Day Saints)
Founder: Joseph Smith

Overview
In 1830 Joseph Smith jr. wrote the Book of Mormon.  The publication of the book is represented to be the culmination of several “visions” and “revelations.”  Smith claimed that he had seen and conversed with God the Father and the Jesus Christ. Smith’s first “vision” happened somewhere in 1820, but was not published until 20 years later and somewhat altered, informed him that all churches were wrong and all their creeds an abomination.  The subsequent “revelations” led to the “discovery” and “translation” – by means of the “Urim and Thummim”“gold plates” which were buried in a near-by hill and contained the Book of Mormon.  Echoing an idea current in Smith’s day that the Indians were descendents of the lost tribes of Israel, the book basically relates how they came to America (about 600 B.C.), were visited by the Savior, and fell into their present diminished state.

Like the word “Mormon” itself, which Smith derived from the English “more” and the (supposed) Egyptian “mon” meaning “good” (Times and Seasons, Vol. 4, p.194), the book was an odd blending of the contemporary scene and the fictitious past, generously sprinkled with passages lifted bodily from the King James Bible.  A year after its publication, Alexander Campbell observed that in the book, supposedly completed by 421 A.D., Smith had written “every error and almost every truth discussed in New York for the last 10 years.  He decides all great controversies – infant baptism, ordination, the Trinity.... and even the question of freemasonry, republican government, and the rights of man.”  Because the book borrows so heavily from the theology of the day, it is considerably more orthodox than Smith’s later productions, causing noticeable internal conflicts in Mormon doctrine.

With the work completed and the translation declared “correct” by the “Lord,” the plates allegedly were returned to heaven safe from prying eyes after being “viewed” by a few chosen witnesses. (Some 3200+ improvements have since been made; mostly grammatical, but about 100 change the meaning.)  In 1830 J. Smith had begun his new church which was named, in the Book of Mormon and Campbellite fashion, “The Church of Christ.”  Writing again in 1838, Smith claimed that in 1829 John the Baptist had appeared and restored to him the “Aaronic Priesthood” and a few weeks later Peter, James, and John restored the “Melchizedek Priesthood.”  The Melchizedek Priesthood forms the chief source of authority for the church hierarchy and for nearly all the temple ceremonies.  However, references to its high priests, high counselors, and presidents are conspicuously absent from Smith’s “revelations” on church government as first printed in 1833 in the Book of the Commandments.  Like many other matters, references to this priesthood first appear interpolated back into the early revelations when reprinted in 1835 Doctrine and Covenants (cf. LaMar Peterson, Problems in Mormon Texts, 1957).  Overlooking the biblical application of the Melchizedek Priesthood to Christ alone (fulfilling and superceding the earthly Aaronic priesthood), Smith claims to have received more of its authority from visits in 1836 by both Elijah and Elias; evidently they were two separate persons to Smith? (Docrines and Covenants, 27.6,9)

The Book of Mormon indicates that  “plain and precious parts” of the Bible have been taken away by a corrupt church.  Smith set about the task of restoring these parts by “revelation and inspiration.”  The result was an “inspired” revision of the Bible, completed in 1833 but not published until 1867.  The early chapters of Genesis received considerable reworking and are published separately as The Book of Moses.  About 1835, however Smith began to study Hebrew, and learning that Elohim (God) was plural, he soon brought forth a new revision of the Genesis creation story.  This version was his “translation” of a papyrus written by “Abraham” himself and acquired, along with an Egyptian mummy, from a traveling showman.  In it the “gods” create the heavens and the earth.  The Book of Abraham together with the Book of Moses and excerpts from Smith’s autobiography form the volume known as The Pearl of Great Price.  That volume along with the Bible, Book of Mormon, and Doctrine and Covenants form the “Standard Works” of the Mormon Church in Utah .

Like leaders of other groups in the early 19th century, Smith believed that Christ’s coming was imminent, “even 56 years should wind up the scene” (Millenial Star, Vol. 15, p.205).  It was necessary for the “saints,” he revealed, to gather to Zion to escape the destruction coming upon the wicked, and the revelation disclosed that Independence, Missouri, was that place.  However, aroused “gentiles” drove them from there in 1833.  Then Far West, Missouri, was the chosen spot, a place not far from Adam-ondi-Ahman where, Smith revealed, the original Garden of Eden once stood and Adams’s altar was still to be seen.  Ordered out of Missouri, however, in 1838, the saints followed the call to gather in Nauvoo, Illinois (George B Arbaugh, Gods, Sex, and Saints, p.12f.; cf. Doctrine and Covenants, 57.1-3, 115.5-7, 125.2), only to be driven from there after Smith was killed in 1844 by an angry mob.  Finally, under Brigham Young, some of the saints discovered that the Salt Lake Valley was “the place.”

Of the more than dozen groups which rose after Smith’s death to claim divine authority as his successor, the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is the second largest that survives.  With it’s headquarters in Independence, Missouri, the Reorganized Church does not accept the Book of Abraham with its plurality of gods, or the revelation of sanctioning polygamy; and therefore it is somewhat closer to historic Christianity.  Another group, in the Church of Christ (also in Independence), uses the Book of Commandments instead of the Doctrine and Covenants and holds (along with David Whitmer, one of the Book of Mormon witnesses) that after 1833 J. Smith became a “fallen prophet” and changed the structure and theology of the church.  

One area where the theological shift becomes very evident is in the Mormon doctrine of deity.  In the Book of Mormon and earlier revelations, God is often displayed with such unity that the Son is the Father.  In later productions the Father and Son emerge as two separate “flesh and bone” beings, united in sharing common qualities and purposes.  Finally, men themselves are declared to be able by means of temple ceremonies to progress to Godhood.  Out of eternal matter they will shape other worlds and people them, just as the Father peopled this one, by “spirit children” born to their wives.  In the early days in Utah this type of teaching reached such an extreme that Adam was held to be the God of this world and Jesus was not born of the Holy Spirit but by the physical union of this Adam-God with Mary (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 1, p.50).  These one-time gems of heavenly light are looked upon by many modern Mormons as the unwise “speculations” of the early leaders.  The “Godhead” today is represented as consisting of two separate personages with flesh and bone bodies and the Holy Ghost with a “body of spirit.”  The Son has the distinction of being the first of many “spirit children” born to the heavenly Father and “Mother.”  Like the Father, who is an exalted and “perfected man” living near the planet “Kolob,” each spirit child must come to earth and take a “physical body” in order to progress toward Godhood: his pre-existent faithfulness determined what race and status he should be born into here.

Tied inseparably to the Mormon concept of deity is the Mormon idea of salvation.  For the most part the biblical doctrine of sin is replaced with the idea of sins (for example, smoking, drinking alcohol, coffee, tea), none of which merit everlasting punishment.  Salvation, therefore, becomes a matter of striving to reach the highest degree of glory, that is, Godhood itself.  The path upward begins with repentance (mainly of the above sins), Mormon baptism, laying on of hands, and church membership.  However, the highest or celestial glory can only be reached through the various temple ceremonies.  In the temple, living Mormons may go through baptism and other ceremonies on behalf of their dead relatives and thus deliver their spirits from the “prison house” and enable them to progress toward exaltation.  But the pinnacle of celestial glory, Godhood itself, can only be reached through the temple ceremony that claims (contrary to Christ’s express teaching in Luke 20:34) to seal husbands and wives in marriage for time and eternity.  This doctrine is based on the teaching of Smith’s revelation sanctioning polygamy, in which he made Godhood dependent on man’s ability to beget innumerable children throughout eternity (Doctrine and Covenants, 132.15-19, 63).  Since obviously this can best be accomplished by having a plurality of wives, Smith received the “divine” command to seal many wives to himself and his followers.  Today the church advises its members in America to refrain from contracting polygamous marriages because it is forbidden by the government, but the principle of polygamy remains on their books as divinely approved.

The teaching that the sex relationship continues in the eternal state has yielded a strong practical emphasis on home and family solidarity, but it has robbed the religion of any real spiritual relationship with the Lord.  In seeking exaltation through physical relationships and ceremonious activities, Mormonism completely misses real salvation and exaltation as a free gift of God’s grace.  The Gospel is reduced to laws and ordinances brought to men by a Christ whose only function, as Savior is to guarantee to men a resurrection.  To those enmeshed in a religion so materialistic in emphasis and so lacking in reverence, Christianity must hold out an all-sufficient Savior who saves, sanctifies, and glorifies unworthy sinners who place all their confidence in Him alone.

Cult Beliefs

  • They think that the Bible is inferior to the Book of Mormon because of great and universal apostasy. They further believe that many "plain and precious things" were removed from the Bible and have to be corrected by modern-day revelation. Orson Pratt, an early Mormon apostle said, "Who knows that even one verse of the whole Bible has escaped pollution?" Mormons belittle the Bible because their beliefs and practices are totally inconsistent with it.
     

  • They believe that God was once a man. Mormon males think that one day they will be a god, JUST LIKE God the Father. Does the God of the Bible say that there are many gods?

    Isaiah 43:10 ...before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me.

    Isaiah 44:6 ...I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.

    Isaiah 44:8 ...Is there a God beside me? yea, there is no God; I know not any.

    Isaiah 45:5 I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me...

    Isaiah 45:6 ...there is none beside me. I am the LORD, and there is none else.

    Isaiah 45:21 ...there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me.

    Isaiah 45:22 Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.

    Isaiah 46:9 ...I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me,

    Deuteronomy 32:39 See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god with me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand.

  • They believe that God has a physical body with which He has sexual intercourse with many wives, having spiritual children which are born on this earth as human beings. They think that God and Mary had physical relations - she was His wife (Orson Pratt, The See, p.158).
     

  • They further believe that black people are angels that did not fight valiantly in the war in heaven - that's why they are black. In a letter dated 7-17-47, the first Presidency reaffirmed its historic policy concerning black people:

    "From the days of the prophet Joseph even until now... Negroes are not entitled to the full blessings of the Gospel."

  • They believe that all who enter the highest degree of the Celestial Kingdom (the 3rd heaven of Mormon theology) will progress to godhood and be able to create their own worlds, populate them via polygamy, redeem them and even provide an adversary (devil) to test them.
     

  • They believe that the Book of Mormon is divinely inspired. In actuality, it appears to be a copycat of "View of the Hebrews" which was written in 1823. Brigham H. Roberts once compiled similarities between the two books and asked this un-Mormon question, "Could all this have supplied structural work for the Book of Mormon?" (the Rocky Mountain Mason, January 1956) Smith's own mother said that the boy had always been interested in the ancient inhabitants of the American continent - their dress, mode of traveling, animals, cities, buildings, and religious worship. She said he would tell stories about them, "with much ease, seemingly, as if he had spent his whole life with them." (Biographical Sketches, pp. 84-85) The Book of Mormon is all about this continent and is consistent with Joseph Smith's youthful imaginations.
     

  • Mormons believe that there are many "gods". The main God for earth is Elohim.

    Orson Pratt wrote, "If we should take a million of worlds like this and number their particles, we should find that there are more god's than there are particles of matter in those worlds." (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 2, p. 345)
     

  • They think that "man is king of kings and lord of lords in embryo." (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, vol. 9, p. 305)
     

  • They further think that man suffered little from Adam's fall and that Adam's expulsion was necessary for upward ascent.
     

  • Mormonism denies the effects of original sin and replace it with the doctrine of "original innocence" - man can commit sins, but he is not sinful by nature. The book of Mormon presents sin as bad, however Smith had little regard for the Bible or the Book of Mormon.
     

  • They believe that salvation consists of:

    1. Belief in Jesus - not emphasized

    2. Belief in prophetic calling of Joseph Smith and his successors

    3. Belief in cardinal doctrines of Mormonism with emphasis on:
       

      • Temple work - baptism for the dead and eternal marriage

      • The Word of Wisdom (a dietary law forbidding the use of tobacco, intoxicants, coffee, and tea)

      • Salvation by works - they'll quote James 2:14-26 (Roman Catholics also do this)

  • The believe that Jesus is only our elder brother and one day we will be like Him is every respect physically, in intellect, attributes or powers (Parley Prate, Key to the Science of Theology 1948 ed., p. 39)
     

  • The believe that Jesus was not begotten by the Holy Ghost, but that God had sexual intercourse with Mary.
     

  • They believe that Satan and Jesus are spirit brothers (see Ensign Magazine, Dec 1980, p. 5).
     

  • They believe that Satan wanted to redeem mankind! (Pearl of Great Price, Moses 4:1)
     

  • The believe that Jesus is no more divine than any of us before His incarnation. They say He was married, had children, and was crucified for His polygamy. Mormons are infamous for their polygamy although they don't officially teach it any more.

    One former Mormon testifies, "At one point, a lesson was being taught in our adult Sunday School class about polygamy - not only its early existence in the church but how God outlawed it by revelation." My husband raised his hand and asked, "When in the history of God's people has He ever changed a law to bow to political pressure?" The teacher sputtered and asked, "Why do you ask that?" Steve was nearly ostracized for a while after that."

    They believe that God is literally a polygamist living on a planet making spiritual babies with spiritual wives. Former Mormon, Suzanne says, "I grew up being taught about the pre-existence of our spirits as literal offspring of God the Father and how if we went to the celestial kingdom we could become gods and goddesses and have our own spirit children to people worlds."

  • They believe Jesus' crucifixion was only the nullification of Adam's fall, now we can work our way into heaven.
     

  • They believe all men, except those who have out-and-out rejected Mormonism in this life, will be given a second chance in the world to come.
     

  • The 1833 edition of "Doctrine & Covenants" talks about the gift of God called working with the rod - this is a divining rod. This was changed in the 1835 edition with Joseph Smith later observing that a divining rod would hardly be a proper gift from God.
     

  • They believe that Jesus atoned for our sins in the garden of Gethsemane, not on the cross. This was confirmed to them by a Mormon quote - "In the Garden of Gethsemane, Christ suffered for the sins of all mankind, thus opening the way for all of us to repent and free ourselves from the bondage of sin." (Ensign Magazine, April, 1981, page 19, see caption.) That's in an article by Elder Lund and it's called "Salvation by Grace or By Works."
     

  • Former Mormon quotes:

    One former Mormon, Suzanne, says,

    "I learned that God was once a man, and that it was because of the principle of eternal progression that we could become gods like him. I also learned I had a Mother in Heaven somewhere along the way -- whether I learned this as a child or an adult, I don't know. I learned that the Book of Mormon was the word of God and that the Bible was so far as it was translated correctly."

    Another former Mormon, Evelyn, says,

    "...Mormons claim to be Christians, to agree with the Bible and Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, this is a masquerade! Mormons are trying desperately to appear as Christian as possible. Their latest video, "The Lamb of God," is a dramatization of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It presents a basic orthodox Christian message. They then attach their name, "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints," to the end of the presentation, which gives the appearance that Mormons are simply another orthodox Christian church!

    "I would have no problem with this...if the whole truth was presented up front - but it's not. Why don't the Mormons say on their video that "we are Mormons who believe that every Mormon member of the priesthood hopes to become a God, rule over a planet and have multiple wives in heaven? Also, Joseph Smith proclaimed in his First Vision that ALL the religions are absolutely wrong and have been for 19 centuries, and Christianity disappeared from the earth; Mormonism is the restored gospel and the only true church. Also, all the people who think they are Christians are corrupt and their creeds are an abomination. By the way, Jesus is the spirit brother of the devil, God has a wife in heaven, has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man's, and is not a spirit. The Bible is not the only revelation of God, the Book of Mormon is "ANOTHER" testament of Jesus Christ in these last days.

    "These declarations were made by Mormon Prophets Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and others. The truth is that the Mormon church and their missionaries tend to to hide that fact that they really believe these things and act as if they agree with mainline Christianity which they refer to as Protestants or Evangelicals."

  • A former Mormon says in a radio interview:

    "Now here's how we [Mormons] get to heaven: 'Passing the angels who stand as sentinels, being able to give them the key words, the signs, the tokens pertaining to the holy priesthood, and gain your eternal exaltation in spite of earth and hell.' This has nothing to do with the shed blood of Jesus Christ, because we don't deal with that in the temple, Jim. We swear blood oaths to obedience, and consecration and sacrifice, and obedience to the law of the priesthood. We must wear an undergarment that has occult markings of an occult talisman on it. We have all the body parts and privates washed, anointed with oil and blessed, but nowhere are we taught the doctrine of the shed blood of Jesus Christ at the cross of Calvary. In fact, I don't really recall it as a part of the temple ordinance anywhere.

    "We go into the Lone and Dreary World and we learn secret handshakes, secret signs and penalties, and we learn the words that we have to know, and our secret name, but where are we taught the shed blood of Jesus Christ or the blood atonement doctrine? The only doctrine of blood that we deal with in the Mormon Temple, Jim, is that we'll have our throats slit from ear to ear, or our chest ripped from breast to breast and our heart ripped out, or we'll have our bowels cut open and our intestines spewn upon the ground. What do you think those signs are when you bring your thumb across your throat from ear to ear, friend? It's not talking about the shed blood of Jesus Christ; it's talking about your shed blood."

  • They believe in blood atonement (murder of fellow Mormons) for certain sins. (These excerpts came from Saints Alive in Jesus which is an apologetics ministry dealing with Mormonism and Freemasonry. The following in excerpted from a transcript of Dialogue radio programs. They were broadcast daily by Saints Alive throughout Utah and Idaho during the 1980s.)

President Grant, in Journal of Discourses (JOD), Volume IV, page 51 of the 1856 edition, says, "And you who have committed sins that cannot be forgiven through baptism, let your blood be shed and let the smoke ascend that incense thereof may come up before God as an atonement for your sins, and that the sinners in Zion may be afraid."

President Grant, in Journal of Discourses (JOD), Volume IV, page 49 of the 1856 edition, says, "I say that there are men and women that I would advise to go to the President immediately and ask him to appoint a committee to attend to their case and then let a place be selected and let that committee shed their blood."

Brigham Young, in Journal of Discourses (JOD), Volume IV, page 53 of the 1856 edition, says, "There are sins that men commit for which they cannot receive forgiveness in this world or in that which is to come, and if they had their eyes open to see their true condition they would be perfectly willing to have their blood spilled upon the ground, that the smoke thereof may ascend to heaven as an offering for their sins. I know when you hear my brethren telling you about cutting people off from the earth you consider it strong doctrine. But, it is to save them, not to destroy them."

Then in another paragraph (same source), "I know that there are transgressors, who, if they knew themselves and the only condition upon which they could obtain forgiveness would beg of their brethren to shed their blood. I'll say further, I have had men come to me and offer their lives to atone for their sins. It is true that the blood of the Son of God was shed for sins through the fall, and those committed by men, yet men can commit sins which it can never remit."

Again, President Grant on page 50 (same source), "I believe that there are a great many, and if they are covenant breakers, we need a place designated where we can shed their blood. They are a perfect nuisance and I want them cut off and the sooner it is done, the better. We have been trying long enough with these people and I go in for letting the sword of the Almighty be unsheathed, not only in word, but in deed."

Brigham Young, Volume IV, page 219, "All mankind loves themselves and let these principles be known by an individual and he would be glad to have his blood shed. That would be loving themselves even unto an eternal exaltation. Will you love your brothers or sisters likewise when they have committed a sin that cannot be atoned for without the shedding of their blood? Will you love that man and woman well enough to shed their blood? I refer you to plenty of instances where men have been righteously slain in order to atone for their sins. I have known a great many men who have left this church for whom there is no chance whatever for exaltation. But, if their blood had been spilled it would have been better for them. This is loving our neighbor as ourselves (page 220). If he needs help, help him. If he wants his salvation and it's necessary to spill his blood on the earth in order that he may be saved, spill it. That is the way to love mankind."

Heber C. Kimball on page 173 of Volume IV says, "But this people will never, no never, prosper to a high degree until we make a public example of men that have been warned and forewarned. We will take them and slay them before this people."

In Volume X, page 110, Brigham Young says, "Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the African or black race? If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty under the law of God is death on the spot. This will always be so."

In The History of the Church, Joseph Smith, Volume V, page 296, "I replied, I was opposed to hanging even if a man kill another. I will shoot him, or cut off his head, spill his blood on the ground and let the smoke thereof ascend up to God, and if ever I have the privilege of making a law on that subject I will have it so."

Orson Pratt, in The Seer, page 223, "The people in Utah are the only ones in this nation who have taken effectual measures, we will not say to suppress, for the word is entirely inapplicable to them, but to prevent adulteries and criminal connections between the sexes. The punishment in that territory for those crimes is death to both male and female on the spot."

  • They believe in baptizing for the dead. Mormonism teaches that all people will have an opportunity to accept or reject the restored gospel. After death the deceased enters the "spirit world" where he awaits resurrection at the second coming of Christ. If the deceased is non-Mormon, or never had a fair opportunity to accept the Mormon gospel, the spirits of deceased Mormons are called upon to perform missionary labor. Mormons believe that the spirits of the dead have the same personalities and tendencies as when they were living. Thus, a good man may accept the gospel whereas as evil man may not. In order for the deceased to be worthy of entering heaven he must receive the same ordinances (by proxy) as a living human being. This means that he must be baptized, by proxy, and also be ordained to the Priesthood and receive his endowments and temple marriage. The Mormon's emphasis on genealogy is to further "temple work" by performing the temple ordinances on as many dead persons as possible.


Further information can be found in the books:

Answers to my Mormon Friends by Thomas Heinze
The God Makers by Ed Decker and Dave Hunt

 

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