What Does The Mormon Church (Church Of Latter Day Saints) Church Teach?

This column is in response to requests for insights into the difference between Mormonism and traditional Christianity.

I have dear friends who are Mormons. They, like most Mormons, are gracious socially, exceptional family people, and in general good citizens. As such they personally are objects of my regard.

The Church of Latter Day Saints is better known as Mormonism. I would not deliberately misrepresent any person’s faith so I hope Mormons find the following to be a fair representation of their faith based on the teachings of their church. Each of these points comes from a document accepted by the Church of Latter Day Saints (hereafter noted as “the Church”) and is documented accordingly.

Space limits the ability to reveal the numerous ways the teachings of the Church differ from the Bible. Therefore, only a few will be considered. Members of the Church say they believe Jesus Christ is the Firstborn of God the Father. By that what do they mean?

They believe “We are sons and daughters of God, and we lived in a premortal existence as His spirit children” (Doctrine and Covenants and Church History, [hereafter noted as “D&C”], p. 106).

“God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens!!! . . . We have imagined that God was God from all eternity. I will refute that idea and take away the veil, so that you may see,” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 345).

God used to be a man on another planet, (Mormon Doctrine, p. 321; Joseph Smith, Times and Seasons, vol. 5, p. 613-614; Orson Pratt, Journal of Discourses, vol. 2, p. 345; Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, vol. 7, p. 333).

God the Father had a Father, (Joseph Smith, History of the Church, vol. 6, p. 476; Heber C. Kimball, Journal of Discourses, vol. 5, p. 19; Milton Hunter, First Council of the Seventy, Gospel through the Ages, p. 104-105).

There is a mother god, (Articles of Faith, by James Talmage, p. 443). God is married to his goddess wife and has spirit children, (Mormon Doctrine, p. 516).

The first spirit to be born in heaven was Jesus, (Mormon Doctrine, p. 129). Jesus and Satan are spirit brothers and we were all born as siblings in heaven to them both, (Mormon Doctrine, p. 163; Gospel Through the Ages, p. 15). “Therefore we know that both the Father and the Son are in form and stature perfect men; each of them possesses a tangible body . . . of flesh and bones,” (Articles of Faith, by James Talmage, p. 38).

The Devil was born as a spirit after Jesus “in the morning of pre-existence,” (Mormon Doctrine, p. 192). Jesus and Satan are spirit brothers and we were all born as siblings in heaven to them both, (Mormon Doctrine, p. 163).

A plan of salvation was needed for the people of earth so Jesus offered a plan to the Father and Satan offered a plan to the Father. Jesus’ plan was accepted. In effect the Devil wanted to be the Savior of all Mankind and to “deny men their agency in order to dethrone God,” (Mormon Doctrine, p. 193; Journal of Discourses, vol. 6, p. 8).

“The fact that there is no reference to a mother in heaven either in the Bible, Book of Mormon or Doctrine and Covenants, is not sufficient proof that no such thing as a mother did not exist there” (Answers to Gospel Questions, Joseph Smith, Jr., p. 143).

Jesus was the “Firstborn” of the Sovereign’s offsprings. Lucifer, his brother, was the second born in the morning of pre-existence, and the rest of human beings followed in this premortal existence. “We are all the spiritual children of heavenly parents.” (Eternal Marriage Student Manual, p. 259).

“The child to be born to Mary was begotten by Elohim (God).”

This is called “celestial Sireship.” (The Life and Teachings of Jesus and His Apostles, p. 23)

The Church teaches there is an after life when righteous spirits carry the message of salvation to wicked spirits in hell and co-mingle. At this point those wicked spirits can repent and be freed. (Preparation for Exaltation, p. 36).

The Church teaches the Father in heaven was once a man as we are now, capable of physical death. He progressed through stages to reach the stage of “exaltation of godhood.” Humans have the power to reach godhood. When we become gods we will have jurisdiction over worlds that will be peopled by our offsprings. (Achieving a Celestial Marriage, p. 132).

The Church holds that “Jesus Christ was married at Cana of Galilee, that Mary, Martha, and others were his wives, and that he begat children” (Orson Hyde (apostle) The Judgments of God on the United States, (March 15, 1855) in Journal of Discourses, p. 210).

The following are two of the primary reasons some consider The Church of Latter Day Saints, Mormonism, a cult.

Joseph Smith, Jr. taught The Book of Mormon is more reliable than the Bible, (History of the Church, p. 4:461). It advocates that 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 Latter-day Saints, (Mormon Doctrine, p.670).

By way of contrast the Bible teaches Jesus is called “God’s only begotten Son.” The word “begotten” is a compound of two Greek words used in Scripture. One word is mono, meaning “one.” The other is genes, meaning “kind, type, or species.” Combined they are used to speak of God’s only one of a kind son. The Greek word “monogenees” is used to mean the only one of the same nature as. In Scripture Jesus is not spoken of as a Son of God, but the Son of God.

Two different Greek words are translated “son” in Scripture.

Teknon stresses the fact of human birth. It is used of homo sapiens.

Huios emphasizes dignity and character relationship. It is used of Jesus.

The word “son” does not mean prodigy. A good dictionary defines “son” as one associated with or identified with. James and John were the sons of thunder. Barnabas was the son of encouragement.

John 3: 16 refers to Jesus as “the only begotten Son of God.” The Greek text literally means He was “God’s only one of a kind Son.” Jesus, as a member of the Trinity, was God the Son along with God the Holy Spirit and God the Father.

“Great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached among the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up in glory” I Timothy 3:16

Question: When was God manifested in the flesh and fulfilled all these traits?” In the person of Jesus.

“In Him dwells all the fullness of the godhead bodily.” Colossians 2: 9

In Acts 20: 28 reference is made to “the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.” When did God shed blood? On the cross. Who was that on the cross? It was Jesus Christ — God.

Philippians 2: 5 – 7: “Let this mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking on the form of a servant, and coming in the likeness of men….”

The first use of “form” translates the Greek word MORPHE meaning nature of character. His nature, His very essence, was God.

The second use of “form” translates the Greek word SCHEMA, meaning outward form or appearance. His outward appearance was that of a man. Thus, He was “God with us.” The angel said, “Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and they shall call His name Immanuel, which is translated God with us.” Matthew 1: 23

Our Mormon friends can try to explain away every one of these truths, BUT they remain truth. Jesus is God the Son, Immanuel, God with us. He is not “a” God He is “the” God.

At some point the complex issue of the Trinity comes into play. Are there three Gods? NO! “The Lord thy God is one God.” They are three in one. H2O as a liquid is water, as a gas it is a vapor, as a solid it is ice; three in one.

A three leafed clover has three leaves, but is one clover. The Trinity is one God.

Mormonism teaches persons can be baptized for the dead. This is required for the persons ultimate salvation. If it is man’s part in salvation that means that what Jesus did on the cross is incomplete and has to be completed by man, and is completed by baptism. Again I say that indicates what Jesus did on the cross was incomplete. The Bible teaches contrary to that. Salvation is by the blood of Jesus not the water of man.

Bottom line: they believe Jesus is the son of God, but they do not believe Jesus is God the Son. They believe Jesus was “a” son of God just as they conceive all human beings to be.

Christians revere Jesus as the nexus of God. The angel messenger in speaking to Joseph called Jesus Immanuel, meaning God with us. Incarnation is a word describing the process. The root “incarnate” means embodied in flesh.

As such Christians believe Jesus was God manifest as a corporeal, touchable, human being: the man/God-God/man, Immanuel, God with us.