Saturday, October 18, 2008

Study on the LDS Church - 1.2 References

**Make sure you've read this post first!

The below books and websites were used during my research. Some of them have been paraphrased and quoted during this series. I will attempt to give credit where it is due, but most of them overlap a great deal, so it most likely won't be done except for direct quotes (no offense, I just don't know how to equally spread the love when everyone is saying similar things!). They might be updated throughout this study, so feel free to reference back to this page as needed.

Reasoning from the Scriptures with the Mormons; Ron Rhodes & Marian Bodine, 1995 (Please note that most of the questions posed and many of the points made in this study will be taken directly from this work).

Kingdom of the Cults; Walter Martin; ed by Ravi Zacharias, 2003.

The scriptures from the LDS church

Mormon Research Ministry

Utah Lighthouse Ministry

Witnesses for Jesus, Inc.

Maze Ministry

Cult Awareness and Information Centre

Tower to Truth


20 Truths about Mormonism


Truth for Today

The Interactive Bible - The Mormon Church Examined and Refuted

Recovery from Mormonism

Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry

You are certainly welcome to peruse these sites as frequently or as in depth as you desire. However, I will warn you that there is a LOT of information to go through among all of those sources. I have been through them and it has taken me weeks of study (hours at a time) to sort through it all. So feel free to wander through them, but don't say I didn't warn you if you get a bit's not an easy topic to summarize. =)

Study on the LDS Church - 1.3 The Format and Tone


Mormons Are Christian said...

Mormons Are New Testament Christians, not Creedal Christians

The Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) is often accused by Evangelical pastors of not believing in Christ and, therefore, not being a Christian religion. This article helps to clarify such misconceptions by examining early Christianity's theology relating to baptism, the Godhead, the deity of Jesus Christ and His Atonement.


Early Christian churches, practiced baptism of youth (not infants) by immersion by the father of the family. The local congregation had a lay ministry. An early Christian Church has been re-constructed at the Israel Museum, and the above can be verified. The Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) continues baptism and a lay ministry as taught by Jesus’ Apostles. Early Christians were persecuted for keeping their practices sacred, and prohibiting non-Christians from witnessing them.

The Trinity:

A literal reading of the New Testament points to God and Jesus Christ , His Son , being separate , divine beings , united in purpose. . To whom was Jesus praying in Gethsemane, and Who was speaking to Him and his apostles on the Mount of Transfiguration? The Nicene Creed”s definition of the Trinity was influenced by scribes translating the Greek manuscripts into Latin. The scribes embellished on a passage explaining the Trinity , which is the Catholic and Protestant belief that God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The oldest versions of the epistle of 1 John, read: "There are three that bear witness: the Spirit, the water and the blood and these three are one." Scribes later added "the Father, the Word and the Spirit," and it remained in the epistle when it was translated into English for the King James Version, according to Dr. Bart Ehrman, Chairman of the Religion Department at UNC- Chapel Hill. He no longer believes in the Nicene Trinity. . Scholars agree that Early Christians believed in an embodied God; it was neo-Platonist influences that later turned Him into a disembodied Spirit. Harper’s Bible Dictionary entry on the Trinity says “the formal doctrine of the Trinity as it was defined by the great church councils of the fourth and fifth centuries is not to be found in the New Testament.” The Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) views the Trinity as three separate divine beings , in accord with the earliest Greek New Testament manuscripts.


Divinization, narrowing the space between God and humans, was also part of Early Christian belief. St. Athanasius of Alexandria (Eastern Orthodox) wrote, regarding theosis, "The Son of God became man, that we might become God." . The Gospel of Thomas (which pre-dates the 4 Gospels, but was considered non-canonical by the Nicene Council) quotes the Savior: "He who will drink from my mouth will become as I am: I myself shall become he, and the things that are hidden will be revealed to him," (Gospel of Thomas 50, 28-30, Nag Hammadi Library in English, J.M.Robinson, 1st ed 1977; 3rd ed. 1988) The Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) agrees with Athanasius and Thomas regarding theosis.

In the words of an LDS Apostle, Bruce R. McConkie: "There is and can only be one who is supreme, who is the head and to who all the others are subject". Becoming like God is not saying we will ever by equal to him, frankly we won't and can't. He, and only He, will forever be worshipped by us.

The Deity of Jesus Christ

Mormons hold firmly to the deity of Christ. For members of the Church of Jesus Christ (LDS), Jesus is not only the Son of God but also God the Son. Evangelical pollster George Barna found in 2001 that while only 33 percent of American Catholics, Lutherans, and Methodists (28 percent of Episcopalians) agreed that Jesus was “without sin”, 70 percent of Mormons believe Jesus was sinless.

The Cross and Christ’s Atonement:

The Cross became popular as a Christian symbol in the Fifth Century A.D. . Members of the Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) believe the proper Christian symbol is Christ’s resurrection , not his crucifixion on the Cross. Many Mormon chapels feature paintings of the resurrected Christ or His Second Coming. Furthermore, members of the church believe the major part of Christ’s atonement occurred in the Garden of Gethsemane as Christ took upon him the sins of all mankind.

Definition of “Christian”: .

But Mormons don’t term Catholics and Protestants “non-Christian”. They believe Christ’s atonement applies to all mankind. The dictionary definition of a Christian is “of, pertaining to, believing in, or belonging to a religion based on the teachings of Jesus Christ”: All of the above denominations are followers of Christ, and consider him divine, and the Messiah foretold in the Old Testament. They all worship the one and only true God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and address Him in prayer as prescribed in The Lord’s Prayer. It’s important to understand the difference between Reformation and Restoration when we consider who might be authentic Christians. . Early Christians had certain rituals which defined a Christian , which members of the Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) continue today. . If members of the Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) embrace early Christian theology, they are likely more “Christian” than their detractors.

• The Need for a Restoration of the Christian Church:

The founder of the Baptist Church in America, Roger Williams, just prior to leaving the church he established, said this: "There is no regularly constituted church of Christ on earth, nor any person qualified to administer any church ordinances; nor can there be until new apostles are sent by the Great Head of the Church for whose coming I am seeking.” (Picturesque America, p. 502.) Martin Luther had similar thoughts: "Nor can a Christian believer be forced beyond sacred Scriptures,...unless some new and proved revelation should be added; for we are forbidden by divine law to believe except what is proved either through the divine Scriptures or through Manifest revelation." He also wrote: "I have sought nothing beyond reforming the Church in conformity with the Holy Scriptures. The spiritual powers have been not only corrupted by sin, but absolutely destroyed; so that there is now nothing in them but a depraved reason and a will that is the enemy and opponent of God. I simply say that Christianity has ceased to exist among those who should have preserved it." The Lutheran, Baptist and Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) churches recognize an apostasy from early Christianity. The Lutheran and Baptist churches have attempted reform, but Mormonism (and Roger Williams, and perhaps Martin Luther) require inspired restoration, so as to re-establish an unbroken line of authority and apostolic succession.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .* * *

• Christ-Like Lives:

The 2005 National Study of Youth and Religion published by UNC-Chapel Hill found that Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) youth (ages 13 to 17) were more likely to exhibit these Christian characteristics than Evangelicals (the next most observant group):

1. Attend Religious Services weekly
2. Importance of Religious Faith in shaping daily life – extremely important
3. Believes in life after death
4. Does NOT believe in psychics or fortune-tellers
5. Has taught religious education classes
6. Has fasted or denied something as spiritual discipline
7. Sabbath Observance
8. Shared religious faith with someone not of their faith
9. Family talks about God, scriptures, prayer daily
10. Supportiveness of church for parent in trying to raise teen (very supportive)
11. Church congregation has done an excellent job in helping teens better understand their own sexuality and sexual morality

LDS Evangelical
1. 71% 55%
2. 52 . . 28
3. 76 . .62
4. 100 . 95
5. 42 . . 28
6. 68 . . 22
7. 67 . . 40
8. 72 . . 56
9. 50 . . 19
10 65 . . 26
11 84 . . 35

So what do you think the motivation is for the Evangelical preachers to denigrate the Mormon Church? You would think Evangelical preachers would be emulating Mormon practices (a creed to believe, a place to belong, a calling to live out, and a hope to hold onto) which were noted by Methodist Rev. Kenda Creasy Dean of the Princeton Theological Seminary, as causing Mormon teenagers to “top the charts” in Christian characteristics. It seems obvious pastors shouldn't be denigrating a church based on First Century Christianity, with high efficacy. The only plausible reason to denigrate Mormons is for Evangelical pastors to protect their flock (and their livelihood).

Further Reading:

Kaye said...

Thank you for you (lengthy) comment. I'm glad to see that the conversation ball has already begun rolling. If you, and my other readers, stay with me throughout the study, I plan to discuss most, if not all, of the points that you bring to discussion in your comment.

I will address the following items accordingly...

I will not argue the idea that baptism was practiced by the early Christians, but I will argue its purpose and place in the atonement.

The Trinity will be discussed on 11/05 and I recommend you tune in for clarification on it. You are correct in thinking that the word "Trinity" is not present in the Bible's original (or current) manuscripts, but I will prove its existance using four truths supported by scripture and how the Trinity encompasses those truths.

The Theosis paragraph is interesting, but I will give quotes from LDS sources (you can refer to them if you'd like for verification) to prove that the LDS church has taught that the goal for mankind is to become a god themselves, like God did. Can you become as good of a god as Elohim? I have no idea...I don't even believe that you can become a god, so I cannot argue that point with you.

I personally do believe that Jesus was sinless and I would appreciate if you didn't lump me into a group of polled people, who I was not one of. I will completely agree with you that LDS members believe in Jesus, but I will also present that your Jesus is not the same Jesus that I believe in. The name is the same, but the beliefs about Him are vastly different.

For the atonement, I've actually very aware of what the LDS church believes, as you described. I too believe that the resurrection was the point, since it was the actual defeat of death, but the death itself was the sacrifice needed to forgive our sins. Jesus gave Himself up as the Lamb of God for our sake. Blood sacrifice was needed to adhere to the Old Covenant and this ultimate sacrifice gave way for the New Covenant, by which we are held presently.

I personally don't like using a secular dictionary to define "Christian" but as I noted above, I will not dispute that LDS members believe in Jesus, but He is not the same Jesus that evangelicals believe in. I will not get into that argument here as it is lengthy and will be the topic of the 11/8 study. Tune in then for further explanation.
By the way...I completely don't agree that ANYONE can be MORE Christian than anyone else. Either you are or you aren't. Period.

I find it interesting that you are using a Baptist minister's quote to support your statement regarding a restoration when the LDS church maintains that Joseph Smith was told that all churches had fallen away and that he was to join none of them. Both the Baptist and Lutheran churches already existed at the time of Smith, so they must not be doing it right according to your founder's vision.

I understand that the Mormon people are very good, hard-working, honest, and faithful people. I applaud you for it and honestly wish evangelicals exhibited their faith as outwardly as you do. However, you must know that LDS members are told that without doing many of these things, they are not being a good follower and therefore will not get into the best heaven. Maybe that could be some of their inspiration?

Please stick around for the study. I would love to hear your reactions as the study approaches more of these topics with greater detail.