BY ADAM MILLER
ILLUSTRATION BY MARK HERRON
Its cradle was the imagination of a discontented, New York farm boy
tinkering with magic and storytelling. It was founded in 1830 when the farm
boya then grown Joseph Smithpublished The Book of Mormon. The Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) has grown to deceive five million followers
in North America. And, while the LDS church has changed since the days of
Smiths claims of prophecy and the alleged discovery of ancient golden plates,
the lies of Mormonism continue to blind an increasingly large number of people
each year (LDS membership world-wide has increased from seven million in 1990
to more than 11 million in 2000).
Mormons are often heavily involved in their communities, many are successful
in business and one of their key appeals is their close-knit family life, says
Tal Davis, interfaith evangelism manager, North American Mission Board (NAMB).
Outward success may be drawing many into this counterfeit faith.
This is why its more important than ever for Christians to stay on mission
in their relationships with members of the LDS church. Though followers of this
cult may claim to be Christians, though they claim to follow Jesus Christ, they
worship a different god than the One we call Savior.
Man-made deityThe Bible tells us that Jesus atonement
has reconciled humankind to God and that through faith and acceptance of this
atonement, we may become Gods children. But Mormon teachings insist that Jesus
atonement was for the fall of Adam into mortality in the Garden of Eden in
order to restore immortality for all humanity.
According to the LDS manual Gospel Principles, it is up to each of us to do
our part and to become worthy of exaltation (attaining godhood). This directly
contradicts Christs assurance that it is by grace you have been saved through
faithand this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God (Ephesians
But the Mormon belief in works certainly correlates with their version of
the Trinity. According to LDS teachings, God the father is an exalted or
deified man who had a human relationship with one of his heavenly wives who
gave physical birth to Jesus and, yes, his spirit brother Lucifer. So, from the
start, LDS teachings show a false version of the gospel, portray three gods
instead of one and propose a useless form of salvation.
And, while scripture confirms that Jesus is God and that there is only one
God through Whom all things are made (1Corinthians 8:6), Mormons are taught
that they too can become exalted beings, even gods, through following church
mandates such as temple marriages, baptisms for the dead and other ceremonial
activities. By doing all this, they hope to reach the celestial kingdom, the
highest of what they propose as three levels of heaven (telestial, terrestrial,
New doctrine, new revelationHow can Mormons claim to
worship Jesus Christ and be so far from the truth of the gospel? It is because
LDS doctrines and teachings change with the whim of church officials and are
not bound within the teachings of the Bible.
Trying to define Mormon doctrine is like trying to nail jello to the wall,
says Richard Seedorf, a former temple-worthy Mormon, who is now a North
American Mission Board (NAMB) missionary to Mormons in Wyoming and other places
with heavy concentrations of Mormons such as Nauvoo, Illinois, and Salt Lake
City, Utah. They have redefined the nature of God and Jesus Christ. They have
created totally new beings and tacked on the same names.
The Mormon Puzzle video and workbook, North American
Mission Board. To order call 866-407-6262
Mormonism Unmasked by Philip Roberts, Tal Davis and
Sandra Tanner (Broadman & Holman, 1998)
The Counterfeit Gospel of Mormonism by authors
Francis Beckwith, Norman Geisler, Ron Rhodes, Phil Roberts, and Jerald and
Sandra Tanner (Harvest House, 1998)
The Changing World of Mormonism by Sandra Tanner
(Moody Press, 1981)
Reasoning from the Scriptures with the Mormons by
Ron Rhodes and Marian Bodine (Harvest House, 1995)
The LDS church refers to four books as official doctrine: the King James
Version of the Bible, The Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and
Covenants (revelations that Joseph Smith claimed he received from Jesus
Christ including obsolete unfulfilled prophecies and doctrines on polygamy and
celestial marriage) and the Pearl of Great Price (writings Mormons
claim were written by Abraham and Moses but not included in the Bible). And
while these books may rest on nearly every Mormons shelf, followers rely
heavily on the church doctrine as told to them by whomever is the current LDS
president claiming to act as Gods mouthpiece.
The interesting thing about the Book of Mormon is that it doesnt contain any
of the doctrine of the LDS church today, says Richard.
Because Mormons follow the teachings and new revelations from the LDS
president, the old texts deemed as official doctrine receive less attention in
daily life, making the word official a mere technicality in Mormon
For example, until 1978, African Americans and others of the same descent
were not allowed in the LDS priesthood. Because many LDS churches in other
countries were filled with people of African descent, the LDS president that
year experienced a new revelation that made obsolete the old doctrine banning
this ethnicity from the priesthood.
Other teachings such as the sanctity of plural marriages or the blood oaths
taken in temple proceedings have been either publicly denied, swept under the
rug or changed in practice to sound more acceptable to todays
When he was a Mormon, Richard Seedorf began discovering errors when he tried
to make sense of the more obscure doctrine. For example, the church once taught
that Adam is God (a teaching of former LDS president Brigham Young) and that
polygamy was mandated by God.
Missionaries go two-by-twoMost people who come in
contact with Mormon teachings through their missionariesfew converts adopt the
beliefs on their ownare offered the sugar-coated, Christian-sounding
Consequently, potential converts are led astray by the idea that they will
be joining the true church of Christ, says Tal Davis.
While this doctrine has hooked many in the centers of their pride, the sharp
flame of the truth of the New Testament gospel has burned it away.
Tal says many Mormons, including missionaries, lack knowledge about their
own doctrine. Traveling in pairs, these neatly groomed missionaries knock on
doors, and this could be an opportunity for Christians to share their faith.
Richard Seedorf says he was softened to the gospel after someones comments
spurred him to research the LDS beliefs, even though he was told that to do so
To share Christ with Mormons is to show them the falsity of their beliefs
and the truth of the gospel.
However, shedding light on the darkness of the LDS church does not mean
arguing to prove something. It means sharing the truth in love.
Here are some ways you can prepare and share the gospel so that your Mormon
neighbor or friend will understand not only the truth of the gospel, but the
love as well.
On the web
www.namb.com/interfaith (click on Belief Bulletins)
Learn the basics about Mormonism beliefs and
cultureMormons use a number of sources from which they form
their doctrine, but the crucial point to remember when speaking with an LDS
member is that they are not Christians because theirs is a works-based religion
and Christianity is based upon faith in Jesus Christs redemptive power.
Mormons also believe in three separate gods forming a godhead, whereas
scripture shows the supremacy and deity of Christ as one with God the Father
and the Holy Spirit.
While this article is a beginning to understanding the Mormon cult, its a
good idea to seek your pastor or mentor at your church for more information on
how to equip yourself.
You can also download NAMBs detailed belief bulletins for further study by
visiting www.namb.com/ interfaith/beliefbulletins.
Know where you stand as a believerThough Mormon
teachings are shrouded in Christian-sounding vocabulary, their works-based
theology is far different from biblical doctrine. If you dont know where you
stand with scripture, youre treading on dangerous ground when sharing with
missionaries and other Mormons well entrenched in the LDS church.
Get to know themWhether youre sharing with your next
door neighbor or a stranger in Salt Lake City, its important to get to know the
person youre trying to reach. Reactions vary by degree according to church
involvment. Get to know their background and their involvement in the
Ask: Did you grow up in the church?
If not, ask: How did you become part of the LDS church?
Also ask: Have you been through the temple? Only the most faithful Mormons
may enter any of the churchs 113 imposing edifices worldwide, so, if the answer
is yes, I have been through the temple, you know you are speaking to someone
who is deeply entrenched in the religion.
Give them something to chew onMormons must know you
respect them and their conviction in what they believe. Instead of beating them
over the head with how wrong they are, you might comment on the business
success and strong families of many Mormons.
This could lead to a discussion in which you could uphold the importance of
diligence in serving God while explaining that faith, not works, is the only
means of reconciling to God.
Be creative with what you learn about Mormonism, and always commit your
conversation to God so that your motives and your speech may glorify Him and
attract the person youre trying to reach.
Pray for Mormons to know Christ
Perhaps the most important consideration in sharing the gospel with anyone
is approaching with a prayerful heart. Prayer prepares the listeners heart for
the gospel, and prepares your heart for sharing the love, truth and hope found
in Jesus Christ.
Adam Miller is associate editor of On Mission.
A Southern Baptist Convention entity supported by the Cooperative Program and theAnnie Armstrong Easter Offering® ©Copyright 2013 North American Mission Board, SBC