Living where I do, the topic of the Mormon faith often arises. It’s a religion which is gathering quite a few adherents, especially outside the USA. But if you were to ask me why I do not ascribe to Mormonism, I would begin by giving these three reasons:
- Mormonism deviates from the sufficiency of the Bible.
Mormonism teaches that the Book of Mormon is holy Scripture, on equal standing with the Bible, and is, therefore, the word of God. The assertion is that it was recorded on gold plates long ago in an ancient Egyptian-type language. In 1823, Joseph Smith claimed to have been directed by the angel, Moroni, to discover and translate the contents, which became the Book of Mormon.
Mormonism teaches that Smith was a prophet in the ranks of biblical prophets like Moses and Isaiah, chosen by God to restore the true Church of Jesus Christ using the text from the plates.
The content of the Book of Mormon also rebukes the idea that Scripture alone is sufficient: “Thou fool, that shall say: A Bible, we have got a Bible, and we need no more Bible” (2 Nephi 29:6).
Along with the Book of Mormon and the Bible, Mormonism affirms the canonicity of two other works, The Doctrine and Covenants, and Joseph Smith’s work, The Pearl of Great Price. New revelation is also permitted, which, similar to papal authority in Roman Catholicism, can arise from the Prophet, or President of the Church.
This violates the clear teaching of the sufficiency of Scripture: “Every word of God is tested; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him. Do not add to His words or He will reprove you, and you will be proved a liar” (Prov 30:5-6). “I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book” (Rev 22:18-19).
- Mormonism deviates from the biblical teaching of the deity of Jesus Christ.
The language on Christ in Mormon teaching appears similar to that of biblical Christianity. Christ is said to be the Savior of the world, our Redeemer, and the Son of God. However, all is not as it seems.
The deviation begins here: Mormon teaching denies one of the most important biblical teachings, that God is a Triune God; one God and three Persons, God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Instead, the Persons of the Trinity are claimed to be three separate gods. God the Father is an exalted man who “…has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s; the Son also; but the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of Spirit” (Doctrine and Covenants, 130:22). The Father was once a mortal being who dwelt on an earth and eventually ascended to his current god-like status.
Mormonism teaches that he is the father of human spirits (before creation, all humanity were spirits who lived with God the Father), among whom were Christ and the Holy Ghost. The god-like status of Christ and the Holy Ghost was something that became rather than something eternally possessed. By virtue of being children of God the Father, like all human spirits, they rose to their status of deity. Like Christ, humanity has the potential to work themselves into this god-like standing. This renders a different Christ than that of Scripture; one who is less than eternal God, and, therefore, not God.
Mormonism violates the clear teaching of Scripture that, among other things, Christ is God; the uncreated, eternal, second Person of the Triune Godhead, who has eternally possessed all the attributes of God (John 1:1-2, 8:58, 10:30, Col 2:9, Titus 2:13).
- Mormonism deviates from the true gospel of Jesus Christ.
As with the deity of Christ, the wording on salvation appears similar to biblical Christianity. However, any belief that deviates from the deity of Christ thereby espouses an unsavable Christ. A Christ who is not the eternal God of the Bible cannot effectually save and propitiate sin for men who are not sinless. A being who is not the God of Scripture, whether having ascended to divinity or not, is unable to ascend to a moral finesse necessary such that his substitutionary death would be sufficient to placate the wrath of God for sinners. Humanity is depraved. Unless we have an individual who is fully God and fully man, humanity remains under the wrath of God because no created individual can arise out of Adam to atone for our sin. This, sadly, is where Mormonism is void of any saving power for depraved humanity.
Furthermore, since Christ is not the eternal God of the Bible, the justice of God in forgiving sinners is called into question. If God the Father is going to justly justify the unjust, then he must do so through the biblical Christ. Christ must be eternal God or we may not have eternal life.
Mormon doctrine teaches that atonement is made effectual in our lives through faith in Christ, repentance, baptism, receiving the Holy Ghost, and choosing to follow Christ’s teaching for the rest of our lives. In addition to faith in an unsavable Christ, this is a works-based righteousness, which contradicts the teaching of Scripture (Gal 2:16, Eph 2:8-9).
Also, in Mormonism salvation is less about Christ’s penal substitutionary atoning work, and more about trying hard to follow Christ’s example and develop god-like attributes.
Mormonism also teaches a form of offered salvation through vicarious baptism. A deceased individual can have a baptism performed in the Temple on their behalf. The deceased then have the opportunity to embrace that vicarious work.
Tragically, Mormonism is an unsavable system that was off from the start. No angelic apparition, no matter how convincing, is to be embraced who suggests another gospel, as did Moroni to Joseph Smith: “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!” (Gal 1:8).
Sometimes well-meaning individuals have responded to me, “Well, I know some wonderful people who are Mormons.” I, too, know some kind people in the Mormon faith. However, the issue here is not on the kindness of a system’s adherents, but the truthfulness of its doctrine. Despite the outward morality which may exist within Mormonism, because its teaching deviates from the sufficiency of Scripture, the deity of Christ, and, therefore, the gospel of Christ, it is an unsavable system, and, thus, a false religion altogether.
We must lovingly appeal to Mormons to turn from their erroneous teaching and submit themselves to the word of God in the 66 books of the Bible alone. Therein they will find the saving knowledge of the Person and finished work of Jesus Christ for right standing with God.