LDS Believers Want to Know WHY!
Sometimes Christians get asked about the motives they hold for sharing their faith with LDS Church members. Certainly, LDS believers want to know why we would come to Utah or visit a ward to share the Gospel of Grace with them. After all, aren’t they Christians too? Don’t we worship the same God? Aren’t Mormons truly decent people? Why would we try to take from them something that is clearly precious to them? These are all good questions that deserve answers. We hope this article will help LDS believers understand why we would seek to share the Gospel with them in the first place and serve as a tool for Christians who are working with members of the LDS Church…
“LDS are Christians, too. We sing Christian hymns, have a commitment to high moral standards and strong families and, the words ”Jesus Christ” are even in the Church name. Why are you witnessing to us?”
If the term “Christian” meant people committed to family who have high moral standards and a belief in Jesus Christ then Muslims could claim they were Christians. They do not, because they hold a very different view of who Jesus actually was. Likewise, key LDS persons, including Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, had no interest in being called Christians because they held a very different view of Jesus Christ than did those following orthodox Christianity.
All orthodox Christians throughout the ages, regardless of denominational labels, share a common gospel with core beliefs. If LDS Members are Christians, they would also share these core beliefs:
About the nature of God
Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me.
(We are ‘mono-theists’. We believe that there is only one God. Not just ‘of this world’, but one God of the entire universe, just like the Bible teaches. There was never a God prior to God and no new God will ever be formed or created)
About the nature of Jesus
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
(We believe that Jesus is God. He was God from the very beginning. He did not originally have the nature of a man; he’s always had the nature of God. He created all things, including Satan)
About the nature of the Bible
The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.
The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the spirit of the LORD bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass. The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.
(We believe that the Bible is the true Word of God and that it has NOT suffered error over the years. It is still trustworthy and requires no further restoration or addition because God repeatedly promised to protect it from decay)
About the nature of Salvation
But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
(We believe that faith in CHRIST alone saves us. That’s why the cross is so important to us. The gift of Jesus is NOT simply his resurrection, it is the fact that he died on the cross for us to pay for our sins, knowing that we could NEVER be righteous enough on our own. But Good Works ARE important, not because they save us, but because they demonstrate our LOVE for Jesus and how he has asked us to live)
About the nature of Truth
I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.
But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die. And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the LORD hath not spoken? When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.
(We believe that God has clearly warned us NOT to stray from the Gospel truths that we have described here. To do so is to follow another Gospel and that would place our faith in Christ in jeopardy. We would no longer be Christians. We would no longer be saved. And he has given us a way to judge prophets that might come into the world and try to teach us a new Gospel. He tells us to measure them. Test them. See if their prophecies have been 100% true over time. See if they have written only what God has given them to say. That’s why as Christians we believe that it is fair to examine the prophecies of Joseph Smith and to examine the history of his translation of the Book of Abraham. If Joseph is truly a prophet of God, we want to know. If he is NOT, we want LDS believers to know)
As the LDS Church doctrine does not agree with ANY of the above core Christian beliefs, it is clear that the LDS Church cannot be a Christian Church. This is further supported by statements from LDS Prophets, such as President Hinkley who stated that:
“The traditional Christ of whom (those outside the LDS Church) speak, is NOT the Christ of whom I speak…”
“LDS Members do not bash your faith, why are you persecuting us? Why are you bothering us/ handing out information outside our temples, at our wards or on our college campuses? ”
As the following quotations show, Mormon leaders, and even Mormon scripture, do firmly denounce the Christian faith:
“Behold there are save two churches only; the one is the Church of the Lamb of God and the other is the church of the devil; wherefore whoso belongeth not to the church of the lamb of God belongeth to that great church; which is the mother of abominations; and she is the whore of all the earth.” (The Book of Mormon, 1 Nephi 14:10)
“After the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized, there were only two churches upon the earth. They were known respectively as the Church of the Lamb of God and Babylon. The various organizations which are called churches throughout Christiandom, though differing in their creeds and organizations, have one common origin. They belong to Babylon.” (George Q. Cannon, Gospel Truth, p.324)
“…orthodox Christian views of God are Pagan rather than Christian.” (Mormon Doctrine of Deity by B.H. Roberts, p.116)
“Nothing less than a complete apostasy from the Christian religion would warrant the establishment of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” (Documentary History of the Church, Introduction, xl)
“I was answered that I must join none of them (Christian Churches), for they were all wrong…that all their creeds were an abomination in His sight” (Joseph Smith History 1:19).
Mormon Missionaries visit our very homes to share their LDS faith. Although they do not often mention that our Christian faith is an abomination and that the only true Church is the LDS one, it is clear it is at the very foundation of LDS doctrine. We disagree with this LDS core belief and disagreement is not persecution. Such a core LDS belief should be better known. Our role is to inform, utilizing accurate scriptural references. For this purpose, we not only hand out information but also visit door-to door with those willing to listen.
“We believe in Jesus Christ, just like you as the cause for our salvation. Why do you think this is not the case?”
LDS doctrine makes it very clear that Jesus Christ’s death on the cross provides everyone with a general resurrection and an atonement for Adam’s original sin. LDS doctrine also notes that there are levels of existence awaiting people after death. Those who attain the highest level are in the celestial kingdom with Heavenly Father and become gods who dwell with their families. For the LDS, salvation via Jesus Christ does NOT guarantee anyone an eternal life in the celestial kingdom. This level of heaven is earned only by worthy LDS through faith, repentance, obeying all the Laws and Ordinances of the LDS church, to include the Book of Mormon, The Pearl of Great Price and Doctrines & Covenants, as well as by performing exclusive Mormon temple rituals. The books, noted above, often contradict each other and list impossible tasks such as never repeating a sin. Have you NEVER repeated the same sin? According to LDS texts, that eliminates one from the highest level of heaven.
“If it had not been for Joseph Smith and the restoration, there would be no salvation. There is no salvation outside the Church of Jesus Christ of LDS.”, Apostle McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 670.
And, Joseph Fielding Smith said that if you refuse to comply with the provided laws and ordinances during this lifetime, you will be:
“assigned after the resurrection, to some inferior sphere.”
In contrast, Christians believe that faith in Christ alone saves us AND grants us eternal life in Heaven. And just as importantly, Christians believe that the addition of good works on the part of believers in an attempt to win their own salvation is offensive to God and places the individual in an accursed position (Galatians 1:6-9)
“Why do you believe that salvation/eternal life with Heavenly Father is solely through faith in Jesus Christ? The Bible teaches that ‘faith without works is dead’ in James 2:17″
In the book of James, this verse, read within the context of the surrounding verses, is noting that a true living faith PRODUCES works. It shows, repeatedly, that to simply say one has faith but do nothing, shows no faith. Starting in verse 15, this passage says,
“If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be [ye] warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what [doth it] profit”
The Bible says repeatedly that a person should not listen to men but rather listen to God who commands we believe in His Son, Jesus Christ to obtain eternal life/salvation.
Ephesians 2: 7-9
“That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in [his] kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”
“Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant (chosen) according to the election of grace. And if (chosen) by grace, then [it is] 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.”
“Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
1 John 5:9-10
“If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son. He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.”
As well, it should be noted that the Book of Mormon agrees with this:
“And he shall come into the world to redeem his people; and he shall take upon him the transgressions of those who believe on his name; and these are they that shall have eternal life, and salvation cometh to none else.”
“Why do you believe in the Trinity? If there is a triune God, who was Jesus talking to in the Garden of Gethsemane?”
The Christian definition of Trinity is that within ONE being that is God, there exists, 3 coequal and co- eternal persons, namely the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This should not be a problem for the LDS, given that the Book of Mormon agrees with the Bible which clearly notes that God the Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit are the same eternal God.
“Now, this restoration shall come to all, both old and young, both bond and free, both male and female, both the wicked and the righteous… and shall be brought and be arraigned before the bar of Christ the Son, and God the Father, and the Holy Spirit, which is one Eternal God,…”
D&C 20: 28
“Which Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are one God, infinite and eternal, without end. Amen.”
Although the concept is not an easy one for our human minds, we do not believe we can fully understand all things of a Holy and Amazing God. When Jesus, our Savior, said in John 10:30 “I and the Father are One”, we believe Him! Other Biblical references are Ephesians 4:30, Acts 20:28, Deuteronomy 4:35-39, Matt 1:20-23, Psalms 28:56, Malachi 2:10, Matthew 28:19-20.
“There IS Biblical basis for a pre-mortal existence. Just look at Proverbs 8:23-26. Why wouldn’t you believe in a pre-mortal existence?”
We firmly believe that no informed person should ever read a verse out of its context. If we go to Chapter 8 and begin reading at verse 1, rather than verse 23, we clearly see that the subject of this entire chapter is “wisdom”. Further clarification from the Bible is found in the Gospel of Matthew:
“All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and [he] to whomsoever the Son will reveal [him].”
This indicates that no man has existed before birth to know the Father.
“John 3:3-10 and Mark 16:16 both indicate that baptism is essential for eternal life. Why don’t you believe that this is true?”
Baptism is an important demonstration of our belief, as Jesus also chose baptism. And, John 3 is a powerful conversation between Jesus and a rich man who came to see him by night. However, reading this passage in context, verse 15 reads: “That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.” Christ is clearly telling this rich man that he must make a demonstration of his desire to be saved and that through being “born again of water and Spirit”. But, one need only read the entire passage to see that although baptism is noted as important, belief in Jesus Christ was the most essential item for eternal life.
“He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.”
Again, being baptized is important, but it is lack of “belief” that is specifically mentioned in the context of damnation.
“1 Corinthians 15:29 proves we need to baptize for the dead. Why don’t YOU baptize for the dead?”
Starting at the beginning, in verses 1-19, the fact of Christ’s resurrection is detailed by Paul. Beginning in verse 20 and going through verse 23, Paul speaks about the order of the resurrection. Next, verses 24 through 29 mention Christ’s reign and the abolition of death. This is when this verse occurs:
“Otherwise, what will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why then are they baptized for them?”
Please note that Paul did not say “why then are ‘we’ baptized for them”; instead he said “they” (as noted by the Greek verb form he used). This is significant because the Christian church was not practicing baptism for the dead. But this was not the case with other local groups. Just north of the city of Corinth was a city called Eleusis, the home of a pagan religion where baptism in the sea was commonly practiced. This baptism was performed in an effort to guarantee a pleasant afterlife (it is mentioned in Homer’s “Hymn to Demeter” (pages 478-79). The pagans of Eleusis were the people who were practicing the custom of “baptizing the dead”.
Even if this were not so, the main point of the entire text is stating that, as Christ conquered death, we may all have the hope for our own resurrection from the dead. It is a single statement in a chapter that is intended to emphasize our hope in Christ, not to glorify what appears to have been a pagan custom at the time.
“Have you prayed about the Book of Mormon? If you prayed about it, God would confirm its truth to you.”
This question is often asked of those who question Mormonism. But if we are to truly follow the instruction of the Mormon Scripture, there is an important order that must be followed:
“study it out in your mind; THEN you must ask me…”
As Christians study the claims of the LDS scripture, they are sure to find many contradictions between the Book of Mormon, D&C and the Pearl of Great Price which represent critical LDS doctrine. (Even Joseph Smith’s Doctrine of God changed over time as seen HERE) Also, we see agreements between the Book of Mormon and The Bible (such as the agreement that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are ONE eternal God, Alma 11:44) which are then contradicted by the doctrine contained in D&C and The Pearl of Great Price.
If the LDS faith is supposed to be a RESTORATION of Christianity, why was something NEW about Salvation and Eternal Life added to the Word of God (More on that HERE). The claim that something was once lost and has now been restored contradicts Joseph Smith’s claim that he was now adding a NEW covenant with God (plural marriage) and that this covenant requirement was essential for eternal life.
In addition to this, there is the wide release of the findings from an extensive DNA study of all American Indian peoples which definitively negates the claim in the Book of Mormon that American Indians were descendants of ancient Hebrews. Given so many contradictions, and the complete lack of ANY Archaeological evidence for any place or person noted in the Book of Mormon (in stark contrast to the wealth of Archaeological evidence for the places and persons noted in The Bible), we believe the Book of Mormon to be true only where it agrees with The Bible.
“As a Member of the LDS Church, we have the Book of Mormon and, therefore, the fullness of the everlasting gospel. Why don’t Christians think this is important?”
In reading the Book of Mormon Introduction, it says:
“The Book of Mormon….contains, as does the Bible, the fullness of the everlasting gospel”
Joseph Smith taught that the Book of Mormon “was the most correct book on the earth…a man would get nearer to God by abiding by it precepts, than by any other book” (History of the church Vo. 4, p461). Yet, when we examine it, we must ask what are the precepts in the Book of Mormon that are NOT found in any other book? Where does the Book of Mormon teach the following LDS doctrines:
- God has a body of flesh and bones
- God is married in heaven
- There are many gods
- Men can become Gods
- Temple participation is necessary for exaltation
- Males must hold the Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthoods
Further, as a LDS, one must also follow the Pearl of Great Price and D&C. Yet, these books do contain these doctrines NOT contained in the Book of Mormon and, often, contradict the Book of Mormon in many places. 3 Nephi 11:39-40 agrees with the Bible in Galatians 1:6-9, that no one should “declare more or less than this” doctrine. As such, if the Book of Mormon is the fullness of the everlasting gospel, why are Mormons also held to other writings that contradict it?
“Does your Church have a living prophet? The LDS Church does and therefore we have latter day revelation.”
We should all agree that the test of a prophet relies what the prophet says being trustworthy and if the prophesy(ies) comes true. As the LDS first Prophet, Joseph Smith’s first vision is the pivotal event upon which the foundation of the LDS teaching about the plurality of gods and the apostasy of all other religions rests. However, three official accounts of this first vision are all very different. (More on that HERE). The official Mormon version of the first vision (1838) contained in the Pearl of Great Price, Joseph Smith History (2:7; 14; 15; 17-20), the account of the first vision in Joseph Smith’s personal diary in his own handwriting (“First Vision”, from History, 1832, “Joseph Smith Letterbook 1”, pp 2-3), and the personal account given to Erastus Holmes on November 14, 1835 (published in the Deseret News of Saturday May 29, 1952), all disagree on how old Joseph Smith was, how many beings Joseph saw, and who the beings were. You can read about this in the Ensign Magazine, January 1985, “Joseph’s Recitals of the First Vision”, p.8)
As well, there are prophecies that Joseph Smith made that are false because they never came to pass. The most notable is in D&C 84: 1-5, 31, where he prophesized that a temple would be built “in the western boundaries of the state of Missouri…in this generation”. (More on that HERE). To this day there is no temple.
Further, in The Bible, Luke 16:16 says, “the law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it”. And, Hebrews 1:1-2, instructs, “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath IN THESE LAST DAYS spoken unto us by HIS SON…” The Bible says that I can go, today, directly to Jesus for revelation through prayer and the study of His Word without the need for a prophet.
“Have you been baptized by one with proper authority? Where does your church get its authority? The LDS Church holds the only true priesthood authority.”
The Book of Mormon claims to be the “fullness of the everlasting gospel”. Where in this book does it say one has to be baptized by a man holding the Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthood? JESUS is the only one who has the qualification for the Melchizedek priesthood (Hebrews 7:3) having “neither beginning of days, nor end of life…” and even He could not hold the Aaronic priesthood (Exodus 29:9, 40:13-15-, Numbers 18:1-7), as he was not offspring of the tribe of LEVI, the family of Aaron. How would any LDS person qualify for such priesthood authority? The New Testament clearly brings us to the realization that through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the entire sacrificial system that was to atone for sin, along with the priesthood duties was fulfilled and completed.
Further, does baptism into the Mormon Church give you the assurance that if you died today, you would have eternal life with Heavenly Father? As Moroni 10:32 notes that one must clear oneself of “ALL ungodliness…” and Alma 34:33-35, notes that repeating any sin makes one held accountable for all former sins, baptism would not seem to achieve these commands. There is no instruction in the Book of Mormon that upholds the claim that one must be baptized by someone claiming priesthood authority. In addition, there is no claim in the Book of Mormon that baptism into the LDS church is key to (or essential for) salvation.
Just a Few of the Questions
These are just a few of the questions that Christians sometimes get asked by LDS believers as they are trying to reach them with the Gospel of Grace. As Christians, we recognize that we believe things about the nature of God, the nature of Jesus, the nature of the Bible, the nature of Salvation and the nature of Truth that are in direct opposition to the beliefs of the LDS Church. Both of us can’t be right. It is certainly possible that both of us could be wrong about these things, but with such a dramatic contradiction in beliefs, we can’t both be RIGHT. Christians share the truth with LDS believers for the very same reason that LDS believers have the courage to engage Christians at the DOORS OF THEIR HOMES. We both believe that ideas have consequences. Christians believe that our notions of truth in this life determine where we are headed in the next life. And Christians believe that LDS believers have forfeited the truth for a false gospel which is really no gospel at all. It’s NOT Good News that is being offered by the LDS church. It is, sadly, a demonstrable lie (as seen in the evidence from the Book of Abraham HERE) that relies on the one thing that is offensive to God, the effort on the part of man to achieve eternal life on his own merit. That’s why Christians share the Gospel of Grace in the first place.