Yesterday I had lunch with a very kind and gracious man in our community. This man is a committed member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. In short, my friend is a Mormon. He was respectful, gracious, and I enjoyed our conversation very much. However, at one point the conversation shifted and he asked me if I was willing to call him a brother in Christ?
I explained that we both hold to very different doctrines that cannot stand in harmony—especially the teachings about the person and work of Jesus Christ. He said that he was offended by that statement. I acknowledged how that would be offensive, but I must stand upon the gospel of Christ. The most loving thing I could do would be to point him to the truth. The most unloving thing I could do would be to ignore the differences and embrace him as a brother in Christ.
The devil is the father of all lies and he is really good at causing people to embrace error as truth. How do you determine the difference between denominations of Christianity and other religions outside of Christianity? In other words, we know that Baptists and Methodists are quite different on many theological levels, but they’re both Christian denominations. Today, a growing number of people continue to purport the idea that Mormonism is just another denomination like Methodists within the family of orthodox Christianity.
How can we determine if Mormonism is Christian or cult? Based on foundational doctrinal evidence—I can’t embrace Mormons as fellow Christians.
Mormonism Rejects the Sufficiency of the Bible
If you can add to the authoritative body of teachings of the church each year by a vote—it would make the religion more fluid and apt to change with culture or adapt over time based on pressures from the culture. This is true of the Roman Catholic Church regarding their belief regarding the RCC’s official tradition. The same thing is true of the Mormon religion. At one point polygamy was defended as permissible, but later it was changed.
Christians stand upon the absolute sufficiency of God’s Word—something that does not change with time, circumstances, and geographic location. Not one other source from church history is needed outside of God’s Word alone as the sufficient guide for God’s revelation of himself to humanity. For the Mormons, they hold to a group of writings called the “Four Standard Works.” This body includes the King James Version of the Bible (as properly translated), the Doctrine and Covenants, the Pearl of Great Price, and The Book of Mormon.
Anytime a religion adds books to the same divine level as God’s Word—that should cause an immediate red flag to be raised. Consider what Joseph Smith said, “I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book” (History of the Church,4:461).
Mormonism Rejects the Deity of Jesus
While the Mormons do uphold Jesus as “a god”—they do not embrace Jesus as “very God of very God” who is one with the Father (John 10:30; John 8:58). Mormons believe Jesus is a god, but they also believe it’s possible for any human to become a god (Doctrine and Covenants 132:20; Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 345–354). In John 10:33, we find these important words:
The Jews answered him, “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God.”
The driving reason that Jesus was nailed to a Roman cross was on the basis of his teachings—which threatened the authority and teaching of the religious establishment of the day. Jesus made it clear that he is God. If Jesus is the Creator of all things—how can he be a created being? That does not make sense and it certainly doesn’t align with the Word of God. Mormons claim that Jesus was the first of the spirit beings begotten through a physical relationship between Elohim and one of his many heavenly wives. This is in clear violation to Matthew 1:20, but nevertheless, they maintain aberrant doctrines about God the Father existing in flesh like a perfect man who would be capable of such a relationship.
According to the Articles of Faith on the Godhead, the LDS doctrine of God consists of a God who possesses a physical body. In comparing the LDS beliefs with Christian doctrine, their Articles of Faith read, “But where Latter-day Saints differ from other Christian religions is in their belief that God and Jesus Christ are glorified, physical beings and that each member of the Godhead is a separate being.” Jesus said something quite different in John 4:24, “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
Mormons are not Christians based on several key teachings. Some of those troubling teachings include the spirit brotherhood of Satan and Jesus, the baptism for the dead, a racial problem, a polytheistic view of many gods, and a clear denial of the Trinity. These teachings stand in clear contradiction to the teachings of God’s Word—and have never been embraced as merely another Christian denomination.
Mormons have a troubling past with Joseph Smith Jr.—the founder who had multiple wives—one of whom was only 14 when he was 39. Their troubling past also includes a lengthy letter by Professor Charles Anthon of Columbia University who was said to validate the translation of Jospeh Smith’s writings (Book of Mormon) from the “Golden Plates.” According to Professor Anthon, “The whole story about my having pronounced the Mormonite inscription to be ‘reformed Egyptian hieroglyphics’ is perfectly false.” While all of these things are troubling—none are more troublesome than their rejection of the deity of Jesus Christ as second Person of the Godhead who is co-equal and co-eternal with the Father and the Spirit.
In short, the Mormons have one Jesus and the Christians have a very different Jesus. Make no mistake—they aren’t the same Jesus. For that reason—I can’t call my Mormon friend my brother in Christ. I want to, but I simply can’t. Therefore, I will continue to have such gospel conversations praying that God will open his eyes to the truth.