Christianity versus Mormonism: Scripture
Paul M. Elliott
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Editor’s Note: This article contains the first two articles by Dr. Elliott of a 16-part series he wrote on Christianity versus Mormonism. The whole series can be found at TeachingtheWord Ministries web site, www.teachingtheword.org, in the Bible Knowledgebase.
Evangelicals and Mormons Together
Why are some of America's leading “Evangelical” churches, seminaries, and ministries rushing to suppress or deny the truth about Mormonism? We live in a time when large segments of the nominally Evangelical church are “following a multitude to do evil” (Exodus 23:2). In one of the most glaring recent examples, some of America’s leading churches, seminaries, and ministries have rushed to suppress or deny the cultic and pagan nature of Mormonism. Some who call themselves Evangelicals are even embracing this false religion as a legitimate branch of Christianity.
A Growing Scandal
This scandal first came to public prominence in August 2010, when noted Evangelical leaders participated in Mormon radio and television host Glenn Beck’s “Restore Honor in America” rally on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington. Beck said, “These men and women here don’t agree on fundamentals. They don’t agree on everything that every church teaches. What they do agree on is that God is the answer.” Whose “God” was not at all clear.
According to published news reports, among those who stood with Beck on this ecumenical, Christ-denying basis were Liberty University president Jerry Falwell, Jr.; former Focus on the Family president James Dobson; Richard Land, former president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention; rabbi and management consultant David Lapin; Evangelical television star and columnist Chuck Norris; mega-church pastor John Hagee; a number of Roman Catholic priests; and even some Muslim imams. Echoing the spiritually bankrupt Moral-Majority philosophy of his late father, Jerry Falwell, Jr. spoke for all of them when he said: “Glenn Beck’s Mormon faith is irrelevant.”
Joel Osteen, pastor of 50,000-member Lakewood Church in Houston, when asked if Mormons are Christians, told Fox News interviewer Chris Wallace, “Well in my mind, they are.” Never mind the mind of Christ, who will say to those who profess a false Jesus at the judgment, “I never knew you” (Matthew 7:23).
Richard Mouw, president of Fuller Theological Seminary, wrote an essay in which he stated, “While I am not prepared to reclassify Mormonism as possessing undeniably Christian theology, I do accept many of my Mormon friends as genuine followers of the Jesus whom I worship as the divine Savior.” He also said that Mormon-Evangelical theological differences can be patched over through a process of “give and take conversations.”
Just what he proposes that Evangelicals should “give” up to Mormons, or “take” from their false religion, is unclear. This kind of thinking echoes the “Evangelicals and Catholics Together” documents in which so-called Evangelical leaders sacrificed Biblical essentials, such as the doctrine of justification by faith alone, on the altar of ecumenical compromise in order to open the way for cooperation in political and social causes, such as those of the Manhattan Declaration.
In October 2012, Billy and Franklin Graham met with Mormon presidential candidate Mitt Romney. The Grahams prayed with Romney, and offered their support of his efforts to convince skeptical Evangelicals to vote for a Mormon. As part of that effort, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association immediately removed references to Mormonism as a non-Christian cult from its website.
Given the Grahams’ long record of extensive compromise with the Roman Catholic Church-State, including having priests as counselors in their “evangelistic” campaigns and referring “converts” to Catholic parishes for follow-up, their current romance with Mormonism should surprise no one.
During the 2016 U. S. presidential election cycle Senator Ted Cruz, a Southern Baptist, has welcomed the religious – not merely the political – support of Mormons such as Glenn Beck. (Perhaps Cruz’s embrace of such Mormon support is not surprising since the senator’s wife Heidi is a loyal member of the Seventh-Day Adventist cult, but he considers her also to be an authentic Christian.)
Beck claims that Cruz is the fulfillment of the so-called White Horse Prophecy, made in the 1840s by the cult’s founder Joseph Smith, who claimed that the Mormons are figuratively identified with the White Horse described in Revelation chapter 6. The prophecy predicted that the United States Constitution would one day be in dire jeopardy, and would be saved by the rider of the White Horse. Cruz has said and done nothing to disassociate himself from this un-Biblical falsehood.
“Evangelicals and Mormons Together”?
We live in a time when many professing Evangelical Christians are just as willing to embrace the concept of “Evangelicals and Mormons Together” as they have been to embrace the heretical “Evangelicals and Catholics Together” documents composed and endorsed by men like Charles Colson and J. I. Packer, and the Manhattan Declaration of men like Timothy Keller.
In fact, a book that is the Mormon-Evangelical functional equivalent of those documents appeared nearly twenty years ago. How Wide the Divide? A Mormon and An Evangelical In Conversation, was published in 1997 by InterVarsity Press. On the back cover the publishers stated that the fact that Mormons and Evangelicals “don’t get along together” is a “sad state of affairs” requiring correction through compromise. The authors were Craig L. Blomberg of Denver Seminary, a school tightly associated with the National Association of Evangelicals, and Stephen E. Robinson of Brigham Young University.
Throughout the book the authors engage in a “dialogue” from which they falsely conclude that both Evangelicals and Mormons believe in the following essentials of the Christian faith: the Trinity; the substitutionary atonement of Christ; the “gospel covenant” of the grace of God; the lordship of Christ; salvation only through Christ; justification by faith in Christ; and that “The Bible is God’s word and is true and trustworthy within those parameters that the Chicago Statement on Inerrancy and the eighth LDS Article of Faith share.”
The Truth about Mormonism
Although many self-described Evangelicals welcomed it at the time, How Wide the Divide? was filled with deception and falsehood from beginning to end. But here is the truth: Mormonism is an anti-Biblical, anti-Christian cult rooted in paganism.
Mormonism teaches that “God” was once a man, he is married to a goddess wife, and Jesus and Satan are both his “spirit children.” Mormonism denies salvation through the atoning blood of Christ. It teaches that each faithful Mormon man will be saved by his good works, and that his reward will be to become the god of his own planet, reigning with his wife (or wives, according to some branches of Mormonism) and fathering “celestial children.” The ornate Mormon temples around the world are perversions of the Biblical tabernacle. Mormons are sworn to secrecy concerning the pagan aspects of their temple ceremonies.
Mormonism’s alleged authority for its thorough perversion of Christianity is the word of man, not the Word of God. Mormons place human writings in authority over Holy Scripture – their Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, the later writings of founder Joseph Smith and other leaders, and the ongoing pronouncements of the cult’s council of elders. In reality, Mormons have no use for the Bible except to twist it to support their deviant teachings.
How, then, can many who call themselves Evangelicals suppress or deny Mormonism’s cultic nature, and in some cases even call Mormons Christian brethren? It is because many self-described Evangelicals have become the kind of people the Apostle Paul warned against: “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires...will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables” (2 Timothy 4:3, 4).
The Purpose of this Article
As we see such declension around us, we must remember that is it nothing new. Before the Flood, spiritual conditions became so terrible that only Noah and his family stood against the tide of apostasy. But we read that the Lord said to Noah, “Come into the ark, you and all your household, because I have seen that you are righteous before Me in this generation” (Genesis 7:1). That ark was the only place of safety in a world about to experience destruction.
That ark of safety symbolized Jesus Christ. Authentic Christians flee from the world’s deceptions to the spiritual safety found only in Christ and His Word. We must exercise Biblical discernment in understanding the true nature of Mormonism, comparing it to Scripture alone, rejecting it utterly, and seeking to witness to Mormons as lost souls bound for eternity in Hell apart from Christ.
Mormonism’s Deconstruction of Scripture
A Bible-believing Christian need not become intimately familiar with the complex web of Mormonism’s falsehoods to understand how wrong and dangerous it truly is. All a believer must do is to ask and answer essential questions about the nature of Mormonism and its teachings, and compare the answers with the Bible.
The first essential question we must ask is this: What does Mormonism teach about the Bible itself? We must understand the answer to this question in order to see whether or not Mormonism has a valid standard of truth.
God’s Commands Concerning Scripture
We must begin, then, by seeing what Mormonism’s attitude is toward God’s own commands concerning Scripture. We find four specific commandments or declarations from God in which He tells us how we are to approach and to regard His Word. In Deuteronomy 4:2 and 12:32, Proverbs 30:6, and Revelation 22:18-19, God commands that no man shall add to His Word or take away from it. In Isaiah 8:19, God commands that no one who claims to speak in His name may speak anything that contradicts His Word. In John 10:35, the Lord Jesus declares, “the Scriptures cannot be broken.”
The word for “broken” in John 10:35 (Greek luthenai) is used in a number of passages in the New Testament to denote physical disassembly or destruction. In context, what Jesus is saying is that the Scriptures cannot be broken in the sense of being taken apart. You cannot deconstruct that which has been compacted and built together by God in His Word. You cannot, you must not, take that which God has placed into a coherent and unified whole and treat it in a way that would destroy that fundamental integrity. Man has no authority to do this. If man does this, by definition he is seeking to break Scripture. He is seeking to subvert it, invalidate it, or deprive it of its authority.
To summarize: God gives us four vital commands concerning Scripture. You must not add to it. You must not take away from it. You must not contradict it.You must not undermine it. In every case, God pronounces His curse upon those who do these things.
Mormonism Violates God’s Commands
But as we test Mormonism against God’s commandments concerning Holy Scripture, we find that Mormonism violates all of them.
Mormonism adds to Scripture.The Mormons have added three other books to the body of what they call “authorized Scripture.” They have added the Book of Mormon, another book by Joseph Smith called the Pearl of Great Price, and yet another called the Doctrine and Covenants.
Mormonism also takes away from Holy Scripture.The Mormon church has its own edition of the King James Bible. In their version they have added numerous footnotes which both add to and take away from Holy Scripture. In the book of Revelation, for example, they have included no fewer than forty-five footnotes in which Mormon founder Joseph Smith added to and took away from the words of the book of Revelation. These footnotes are identified as being the “Joseph Smith translation.”
In fact, these footnotes are not translations at all. They are changes to the text of the Bible in order to bring God’s Word in line with Mormon theology. What audacity, to change and twist the very words of God, in order to conform them to that which Scripture plainly calls “doctrines of demons.”
First Timothy4:1ff states: “Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron....” That certainly describes the depraved attitude of Joseph Smith, and his followers in the present day, toward the inspired, infallible, inerrant Word of God.
If Mormon missionaries come to your door with a Bible in their hands that says it is the King James Version, keep in mind that it is not the King James Bible with which Bible-believing Christians are familiar. It is a perversion and a distortion of that faithful translation of Scripture.
Mormonism also openly contradicts Holy Scripture. Mormonism teaches that there are many gods, and not one true and living God as the Bible teaches.
Mormons also teach that their founder Joseph Smith and another man named Oliver Cowdery were inducted into the Aaronic priesthood by John the Baptist in May of 1829. But the book of Hebrews makes it absolutely clear that the priesthood of Aaron was long ago finished. It was a type and symbol of the high priesthood of the Lord Jesus Christ. The priests of Aaron’s line could not take away sin forever.
Jesus Christ, who the book of Hebrews tells us is a “priest forever after the order of Melchizedek” and not of the order of Aaron, did what the priests of Aaron’s line could not do by offering His own perfect blood as the full and final atonement for sin. And in so doing, the book of Hebrews tells us, Jesus did away with the priesthood of Aaron forever. For the Mormons to say that the priesthood of Aaron has been reinstituted through Joseph Smith is blasphemy against the person and work of Christ.
Even worse than this, Mormonism teaches that the priesthood of Melchizedek – the priesthood of Christ – was conferred upon Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery through the ministration of Peter, James, and John, in that same period in the 1800s, shortly after John the Baptist supposedly inducted them into the priesthood of Aaron.
According to the Mormon book called the Doctrine and Covenants, there is no distinction between the priesthood of Aaron and the priesthood of Melchizedek. They say that through this priesthood alone, the officials of the Mormon church alone speak and act in the name of God for the salvation of humanity.
The men of Mormonism, and the other books that that they call “scripture” but are not Holy Scripture, openly contradict the plain teachings of the Bible.
Mormonism Seeks to “Break” Scripture
Through all of this – by adding to God’s Word, taking away from God’s Word, by contradicting it repeatedly – Mormonism seeks to “break” Holy Scripture, to destroy its fundamental integrity. Mormonism subverts the Word of God, depriving it of its rightful and unique authority.
Mormonism, like every other cultish religion, seeks to take the authority that God reserves for Himself and His Word alone and to place that authority – to say what is true and what is not true – in the hands of sinful men who claim the name of Christ and claim to speak in the name of Christ, but are among those to whom Jesus will say on the Day of Judgment, “I never knew you; depart from Me...” (Matthew 7:23).
Let no Bible-believing Christian ever think – as some in the post-evangelical church are saying today – that Mormonism is a legitimate branch of Christianity. No religion that savages the Word of God as Mormons do can possibly deserve that recognition.
Joseph Smith and the Occult
Few Christians understand that Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, was a documented occult practitioner who said he used an occult device to “translate” the Book of Mormon.
Engaging in the Occult
Let us first consider a few well-established facts about the character of the alleged prophet Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism. He was actually Joseph Smith, Junior. His father, Joseph Smith, Senior, was a practitioner of mysticism and the occult, and spent a great deal of his time digging for imaginary buried treasure in the state of New York where he lived.
Joseph Smith, Jr. followed in his father’s footsteps. It is well documented that Joseph Smith, Jr., the founder of Mormonism, engaged in occult beliefs and practices. In his treasure-seeking activities, he employed divining rods, magic charms, and other implements of ritual magic. Hereafter, all references in this article to “Joseph Smith” are to this man.
Joseph Smith, owned what was called in that time a “peep stone” or “seer stone.” This was an implement used by those who engaged in occult practices to supposedly see things that others could not see. Joseph Smith claimed that he used a “peep stone” or “seer stone” to translate the Book of Mormon.
A Book of Highly Questionable Origin
Joseph Smith claimed that the last prophet who contributed to the book, a man named Moroni, buried the golden plates on which this book was supposedly engraved in a hillside in the present-day state of New York. Smith claimed that Moroni returned to Earth in the year 1827 as an angel, and revealed the location of the Book of Mormon to Joseph Smith and gave him instructions for translating it. Smith said that he used the occult device called a “peep stone” to make that alleged translation.
The story of how the Book of Mormon came into existence is highly questionable, and we have only Joseph Smith’s word for it. But Joseph Smith’s engagement in occult practices is not questionable, it is documented fact.
In the early years of the history of the United States, it was very common for state and local governments to make illegal in secular law things that God has condemned in Scripture. This was true in the state of New York in the early 1800s. Joseph Smith was charged in a civil court in New York with engaging in the occult practice that was called “glass-looking,” which was another way of saying that someone employed a device like a peep stone or a seer stone. Historical court documents testify to the fact that Joseph Smith was convicted of this offense, and paid a fine. Joseph Smith’s own father also testified to the fact that his son engaged in fortune-telling.
Practices Condemned By God
These are things that the God of the Bible condemns. Listen to the words that God spoke to the people of Israel in Deuteronomy 18:9-14, as they prepared to enter the Promised Land. God said,
When you come into the land which the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominations of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who...practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist…. For all who do these things are an abomination to the Lord, and because of these abominations the Lord your God drives them out from before you. You shall be blameless before the Lord your God. For these nations which you will dispossess listened to soothsayers and diviners; but as for you, the Lord your God has not appointed such for you.
Clearly, Mormonism at its very beginnings had associations with those who engaged in occult practices – Joseph Smith and others. The founder of this false cult engaged in things that are detestable in the sight of God. God calls them abominations. In Revelation 22:15, the same God who declares eternal condemnation for those who add to or take away from His Word, also declares that no “sorcerer” – no person who engages in any sort of occult practice without repenting – will enter the New Jerusalem. Revelation 21:8 declares that all unrepentant sorcerers “shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”
Authentic Christianity has absolutely no relationship to practices and devices that God condemns as abominations, or to those who engage in such things.
The Book of Mormon: An Evil Fiction
The Book of Mormon’s alleged history of ancient North and South America contains not one shred of fact. As we look at the principal “scripture” of this false religion, the Book of Mormon, we find that it is nothing but an evil fiction.
A “History” without a Shred of Fact
The Book of Mormon claims to be the history of two ancient civilizations, which it claims were located in the Americas. It asserts that the first of these great civilizations left the Tower of Babel and came to the Western Hemisphere. But this first North American civilization was later destroyed, according to the Book of Mormon.
The Book of Mormon also claims that a second group of people, Jewish exiles, left Jerusalem about 600 bc, before the destruction of Jerusalem and the Babylonian captivity. Mormon tradition says that this group of people crossed the Pacific Ocean and landed on the west coast of South America. The Book of Mormon claims that these people were Jews, they were later divided into two warring factions, and that one of these warring factions received a curse because of their evil deeds, which took the form of dark skin.
These people, according to Mormon teaching, were the forebears of the American Indians. The Book of Mormon also claims that in the 5th century ad these forebears of the American Indians annihilated the other group, the so-called “white Jews” who had allegedly come to the Americas a thousand years earlier.
Until recent decades, the Book of Mormon described the curse which it claims resulted in the dark skin of American Indians in these words: “...they were [once] white, and exceeding fair and delightsome; [so] that they might not be an enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them” (2 Nephi 5:21). However, since the 1980s, revised editions of the Book of Mormon have deleted such words – and there are many such statements in Mormon teaching casting aspersions on both American Indians and natives of Africa, and stating the supremacy of white people over dark-skinned people, even stating that white people are inherently “righteous” while American Indians and Africans are inherently “unrighteous.”
This is completely contrary to the teaching of Scripture which says that there is no difference based on ethnicity or nationality, but that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23) and are eternally lost apart from saving faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ – and when they are saved, they all become one body in Christ:
For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. (Ephesians 2:14-16)
There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. (Ephesians 4:4-6)
...you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all. (Colossians 3:9-11)
There is not even the tiniest shred of archaeological evidence to support any of the claims of the Book of Mormon concerning ancient migrations from the Middle East to North and South America. It is all fiction.
The Book of Mormon Fails the Test
“Test the spirits,” the Holy Spirit commands us, to determine “whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1). Mormonism fails the test in every way. Mormonism is opposed to the God of the Bible, is opposed to His authority, has its roots in the occult, and is founded on an evil fiction. The Book of Mormon and the other writings that the Mormons claim to be “scripture” alongside the sixty-six books of the Bible cannot be considered genuine or authoritative for even a single moment.
God’s Word to Judah Is Apropos for Us in the Church Today – from Isaiah 59
Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither His ear heavy, that it cannot hear: But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you, that He will not hear. For your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, your tongues have muttered perverseness. None calleth for justice, nor any pleadeth for truth: they trust in vanity, and speak lies; they conceive mischief, and bring forth iniquity. They hatch cockatrice [vipers’ NKJV] eggs, and weave the spider’s web: he that eateth of their eggs dieth, and that which is crushed breaketh out into a viper. Their webs shall not become garments, neither shall they cover themselves with their works: their works are works of iniquity, and the act of violence is in their hands. Their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed innocent blood: their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity; wasting and destruction are in their paths. The way of peace they know not; and there is no judgment in their goings: they have made them crooked paths: whosoever goeth therein shall not know peace.
Therefore is judgment [justice – NKKJV] far from us, neither doth justice overtake us: we wait for light, but behold obscurity; for brightness, but we walk in darkness. We grope for the wall like the blind, and we grope as if we had no eyes: we stumble at noon day as in the night; we are in desolate places as dead men. We roar all like bears, and mourn sore like doves: we look for judgment [justice – NKJV], but there is none; for salvation, but it is far from us. For our transgressions are multiplied before Thee, and our sins testify against us: for our transgressions are with us; and as for our iniquities, we know them; In transgressing and lying against the Lord, and departing away from our God, speaking oppression and revolt, conceiving and uttering from the heart words of falsehood. And judgment [justice – NKKJV] is turned away backward, and justice standeth afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter. Yes, truth faileth; and he that departeth from evil maketh himself a prey: and the Lord saw it, and it displeased Him thatthere was no judgment [justice – NKKJV]. And He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor: therefore His arm brought salvation unto Him; and His righteousness, it sustained Him. For He put on righteousness as a breastplate, and an helmet of salvation upon His head; and He put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, and was clad with zeal as a cloak. According to their deeds, accordingly He will repay, fury to His adversaries, recompense to His enemies; to the islands He will repay recompense. So shall they fear the name of the Lord from the west, and His glory from the rising of the sun. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him.
“And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob,” saith the Lord.
“As for Me, this is My covenant with them,” saith the Lord; “My Spirit that is upon thee, and My words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed’s seed,”saith the Lord, “from henceforth and for ever.”
 Matthew Boyle, “Glen Beck’s ‘Divine Destiny’ Event Focuses on Faith,” The Daily Caller, August 28, 2010, as viewed at http://dailycaller.com/2010/08/28/glenn-becks-divine-destiny-event-focuses-on-faith/.
 Adelle M. Banks, “Beck Wants to Lead, But Will Evangel-icals Follow?”, Religion News Service, August 31, 2010, http://www.religionnews.com/index.php?/rnstext/beck_wants_to_lead_but_will_evangelicals_follow/.
 Transcript: Pastor Joel Osteen on Fox News Sunday, December 23, 2007, as viewed at http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,318054,00.html.
 Richard Mouw, “”My Take: This Evangelical Says Mormonism Isn’t a Cult,” October 9, 2011, http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2011/10/09/my-take-this-evangelical-says-mormonism-isnt-a-cult/.
 Melina Mara, “Billy Graham Prays with Mitt Romney,” The Washington Post, October 12, 2012, http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/under-god/post/billy-graham-prays-with-mitt-romney/2012/10/12/1d99642 c-1425-11e2-ba83-a7a396e6b2a7_blog.html.
 For more on this subject, see TeachingtheWord’s Bible Knowledgebase article, “Who Is the Man Most Responsible for Evangelicals’ Movement Toward Rome” at http://www.teachingtheword.org/articles_view.asp?articleid=59664&columnid=5787.
 Craig L. Blomberg and Stephen E. Robinson, How Wide the Divide? A Mormon and An Evangelical In Conversation (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1997), 195.
 See “The Original Prophet” which appeared in Fraser’s Magazine, James Anthony Froude, editor,volume 7, number 38, February 1873, pages 225-235, published in London by Spotswood & Co., available in PDF at: https://ia801406.us.archive.org/9/items/frasersmagazine08unkngoog/frasersmagazine08unkngoog.pdf.