Monday, November 05, 2007

What Mormons believe: Part 5

Maybe you could tell from the last post that, theologically, Mormons believe very different things than orthodox Christianity. If you weren't able to discern what Mormon's believe about God from those quoted sources, I will try to break down some of their foundational beliefs in this post.

1. In the beginning, the head of the Gods called a council of the Gods; and they came together and concocted a plan to create the world and people in it” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 349).

- This quote clearly shows the Mormon belief in many gods. Deuteronomy 6:4 is clear that there is only one God. Orthodox Christian belief is Trinitarian. That means Christians believe that there is one God. But the make-up of our God is “one nature and three persons.” This means that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are three distinct persons, yet their essence is “one.”

Anytime a theology makes God out to be three different gods, it becomes heresy. Anytime a theology errs in the other direction and makes God out to be “one” without three distinct persons, it becomes heresy. The tension of “one nature and three persons” must be held together in order for a theology to be considered “Christian.”

2. “God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 345).

“As man is, God once was: as God is, man may become” (Prophet Lorenzo Snow, quoted in Milton R. Hunter, The Gospel Through the Ages, 105-106).

“Remember that God, our heavenly Father, was perhaps once a child, and mortal like we ourselves, and rose step by step in the scale of progress, in the school of advancement; has moved forward and overcome, until He has arrived at the point where He now is” (Apostle Orson Hyde, Journal of Discourses, 1:123).

- The reason Mormons have a "polytheistic" view of "the gods" is because they believe that the god over our world was once a human like we are. Their belief is that this man perfected himself over time through good deeds. Then, as a resurrected person, he was promoted through their multi-level view of heaven. Once at the top, he became a god and was given our world to "govern." For a Christian response to this read 1 Cor. 8:4-6.

Brigham Young believed that this first man who became our god was Adam as you can see from the next quote:

“When our father Adam came into the garden of Eden, he came into it with a celestial body, and brought Eve, one of his wives, with him. He helped to make and organized this world. He is Michael, the Archangel, the Ancient of Days! About whom holy men have written and spoken – He is our Father and our God, and the only God with whom we have to do.” (Brigham Young, in the Journal of Discourses, 1:50).

3. “The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s: the Son also; but the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of Spirit”(Doctrine and Covenants, 130:22)

- Mormons believe that there are essentially three gods working together to rule this earth: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. They believe that the Father and Son both have flesh and bones but that the Holy Spirit is simply "spirit." The problem with this theology is that John 4:24 states clearly that God is spirit. Likewise John 1:1,14 states that "The Word became flesh." That means Jesus had to become flesh. He didn't have a body before he became the incarnation of God.

4. “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints proclaims against the incomprehensible God, devoid of “body, parts, or passions,” as a thing impossible of existence, and asserts its belief in and allegiance to the true and living God of scripture and revelation….Jesus Christ is the son of Elohim both as spiritual and bodily offspring; that is to say, Elohim is literally the Father of the spirit of Jesus Christ and also of the body in which Jesus Christ performed His mission in the flesh…Jehovah, who is Jesus Christ the Son of Elohim, is called “the Father”…that Jesus Christ, who we also know as Jehovah, was the executive of the Father, Elohim, in the work of creation as set forth in the book Jesus the Christ, chapter IV” ([Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 1952], 48, 466-67).

- Mormons believe that when the Hebrew in the Old Testament uses the word "Elohim" to refer to God, it is referring to "the Father. They believe when the Hebrew word used to refer to God is "Jehovah", then it is referring to Jesus Christ "the Son." This false understanding of Hebrew has led the Mormons to believe that the Father and Son are separate, material gods.

5. “In the Heaven where our spirits were born, there are many Gods, each one of whom has his own wife or wives, which were given to him previous to his redemption, while yet in his mortal state” (Apostle Orson Pratt in a Mormon periodical, The Seer, p. 37)

- You can see from this quote that Mormons believe in the pre-existence of the soul. They believe that we are all souls floating around in heaven before the gods assign us a body. They also believe that we will have the "wives" that we had on earth with us in heaven. Scripture, however, teaches that God "knit us together in the womb" and never teaches that we existed in soul-form before getting a body. This particular Mormon belief feels a bit like Gnosticism.

Also, Jesus teaches that we will neither have wives nor be given in marriage in heaven. Matthew 22:29-30, "Jesus replied, "You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage..."

6. “When the Virgin Mary conceived the child Jesus, the Father had begotten him in his own likeness. He was not begotten by the Holy Ghost. And who was the Father? He is the first of the human family; and when he took a tabernacle [body], it was begotten by his Father in heaven, after the same manner as the tabernacles of Cain, Abel, and the rest of the sons and daughters of Adam and Eve; from the fruits of the earth, the first earthly tabernacles were originated by the Father, and so on in succession…Jesus, our elder brother, was begotten in the flesh by the same character that was in the garden of Eden, and who is our Father in Heaven. (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, 1:50-51)

“The birth of the Saviour was as natural as are the births of our children; it was a result of natural action. He partook of flesh and blood – was begotten of his Father, as we are of our fathers.” (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, 8:115)

- Mormons will say that they believe in the miracle of the virgin birth. But what they mean by that is very different than what Christians mean. As you can see from the above quotes, Mormons believe that "the Father" was who impregnated Mary. They believe this happened in a physical, material way. They believe that it was not the Holy Spirit, but the physical body of the "Father" who had intercourse with Mary, which then caused the pregnancy.

The problem here is that Scripture says just the opposite.
And also Matthew 1:18-20:
"This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit."

At this point it should be evident just how different Mormonism is to orthodox Christianity. Many people who are sympathetic toward their Mormon friends want to believe that they are just a different "denomination" of the Christian faith. But the more one studies their beliefs, the less one is able to seriously consider them "Christian." Their theology could be described as "tritheism" (belief in three gods) and more specifically a "polytheism" (belief in many gods) masked in pseudo-Christian language.


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