Blogs - Summit Announcements
August 30, 2012
Rapid Response: Can Christians Vote for Mormons?
Editor’s Note: Summit Ministries endorses neither political candidates nor political parties. While not an endorsement, this Rapid Response addresses two pressing questions many Christians are asking as the autumn elections approach: Is the Mormon Church a Christian church? May Christians vote for Mormons?
Kevin James Bywater is the Director and Resident Scholar of the Summit Oxford Study Centre. In his essay on Summit’s website, “Mormonism: A Survey and Biblical Critique,” he addresses these and other questions at greater length than we shall here. Kevin is a former fifth-generation Mormon who was born and raised in northern Utah. He is available to speak and consult on the subject of pseudo-Christian religions and many other subjects. Please contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org to request that he speak to your group.
Now that Mitt Romney is the Republican nominee for president, come January 20th, 2013, either Barack Obama will begin his second term as president or Mitt Romney will begin his first. Romney would be the first Mormon to become President of the United States of America.
Is Mormonism Christian?
Mitt Romney is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (commonly known as the Mormon Church or the LDS Church). His religious beliefs are a serious consideration for many voters. According to a November 2011 poll of the Pew Research Center, 51 percent of Americans hold that Mormonism is Christian. However, we find that few Christians know enough about the teachings of the Mormon Church to discern whether it is a Christian denomination.
So, is the Mormon Church a Christian church? Let us look briefly at some central Mormon teachings:
- What and who is God?
- What is the nature of humankind?
- What is the nature of Scripture?
- How does one acquire salvation?
As we will see, Mormons use the same theological words as Christians. This alone gives the impression that Mormons are Christians. But that is a mistaken impression. With other pseudo-Christian religions (e.g., Jehovah’s Witnesses), Mormons use Christian vocabulary but have a very different dictionary. Thus they have a different worldview.
The Mormon Church holds that following the deaths of the first apostles, there was a great apostasy and the gospel and church authority were lost from the earth. They were restored through Joseph Smith, Jr. in the early-1800s. Mormons thus see their church as the one true church, with other churches being corrupted and without proper priesthood authority to administer saving ordinances such as baptism or communion.
The Mormon Church teaches that God the Father once was a man who progressed to become a god, that he has a wife, and that all humans and other spirits are their literal offspring. Mormons reject the Christian doctrine of the Trinity,- believing that God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit are three separate gods who are unified in purpose. Jesus is seen as the firstborn of God and his wife, with Lucifer being born later. It is believed by Mormons that Jesus attained deity prior to his incarnation on earth. He is our older brother and was literally conceived through a conjugal relationship between God the Father and Mary.
What is the Nature of Humankind?
The Mormon Church teaches that all humans, prior to life on earth, were born as spirit children of God the Father and his wife(s). Mormonism also teaches that Adam and Eve made a good and right choice in eating of the forbidden tree in the Garden of Eden. Now, as a result of the fall, humans go through mortality with the opportunity of becoming exalted gods by believing the teachings and obeying the practices of the Mormon Church.
What is the Nature of Scripture?
The Bible (King James Version) is part of the Mormon canon of Scriptures, along with The Book of Mormon, The Doctrine and Covenants, and The Pearl of Great Price. However, the Mormon Church teaches that the Bible has been corrupted in both transmission and translation. Mormons usually hold that their church leaders have sole authority to interpret the Scriptures correctly.
How Does One Acquire Salvation?
The Mormon Church teaches, in effect, that Jesus refinances our sins. The Church teaches that salvation is through baptism and other ordinances and principles. Even so, all people but a few will find a future in one of three heavenly kingdoms, the highest being the celestial kingdom. The baptized faithful will obtain a place in the highest heaven, the celestial kingdom, with the most faithful among them being exalted and become gods themselves, as families, able to produce children eternally. It is only those faithful who live in the presence of Heavenly Father forever. According to the LDS Church, the gospel principles one must obey to live with Heavenly Father forever include being baptized by a Mormon priest, receiving priesthood authority, obeying the Mormon prophets and apostles, and being eternally married in a Mormon temple.
In transparent comparison with the Christian faith, one can only conclude that Mormonism is not another Christian denomination but a pseudo-Christian religion. Most contrasts and differences are plain, sometimes admitted by Mormon leaders, and stunningly profound; they include the nature of God (eternal or emergent), the nature of Jesus Christ (eternal deity or spirit child of God and literal brother of all other spirit), the number of gods (one or many), the nature of the fall of mankind (Adam and Eve’s actions were bad or good), and the way of salvation to the eternal presence of God (faith in Jesus Christ or special works and ordinances). Again, we have only briefly discussed the differences.
Is the Mormon Church a Christian church? No, it is not. As we noted above: Mormons use Christian vocabulary but not a biblical dictionary. As such, profound confusion reigns when Mormonism is seen as a Christian denomination.
This conclusion should not be seen as accusing Mormons of being bad citizens or unfriendly people. Indeed, Mormons may be your best neighbors, capable co-workers, or among your friends at school. As a subculture in America, Mormons are taught to express many values that Christians also hold.
Can Christians Ever Vote for Mormons?
Many Christians have voiced several objections to voting for Mormons, and that without regard for the candidates’ proposed policies. Below we address some of these objections.
“Choosing between the lesser of two evils is evil, so even if the other candidate is worse, I can’t vote for a Mormon.”
As Summit President Dr. Jeff Myers points out in the new Political Animal course, this is a misguided objection, because it misses one crucial point: according to Romans 3:10, all of us, not just particular political candidates, are shot-through with sin. If taken to its logical conclusion, this objection would disallow Christians from being involved in any civil or social activity, politics or otherwise.
We also must not forget that in the United States, voting is only one of our civic responsibilities. If candidates are elected and do evil, it is the citizens’ responsibility to hold the officials accountable through exposure, protest, the judiciary, and the next election.
“Mormons don’t believe in the one, true God.”
While this is true, we ought to remember that in a republic such as ours, we do not elect preachers-in-chief as our presidents; we elect the best person seriously on offer for the job. Nowhere does the Bible stipulate that the only people who are to hold political authority are Christ’s followers. Take, for example, the following biblical heroes: Joseph in Egypt, Daniel in Babylon, or Esther in Persia. The apostle Paul, in Acts 25, appeals to Caesar as a Roman citizen.
These biblical heroes were asked to work for the good of others in the confines of often-hostile government leadership. Yet God did not ask them to overthrow or only support believing leadership. He taught them to live justly and to promote societal justice.
“A vote for a Mormon is a vote for the LDS church.”
When we vote for a candidate, we do not vote for all his or her ideas or ideals. That is impossible: people change their minds, and we cannot know all of a person’s opinions. Support for any candidate is not an endorsement of all of that candidate’s convictions. Again, a helpful approach would be to voting for a candidate the same as one would hire a candidate for a job. In this case, the job is to exercise political authority within the constraints of the nations’ laws.
While there are objections to be considered in voting for Mormons, there are also reasons to vote for Mormons, or for anyone with worldview convictions that differ from our own.
It is Christians’ role to be a preserving agent of a society.
As Jeremiah 29:4-7 reminds us, we are to seek the welfare of our city — of our most immediate communities. In other words, we are to be preserving agents, not just of cultures, but also of good political processes. And in our own republic, sometimes preserving the political process involves voting against someone as much as voting for someone. Therefore, if a candidate would not be our first choice to fill a political position, we can vote for that candidate in the hope that a worse candidate does not win.
Politics in a fallen world demands prudence.
Naturally, objections may be lodged against any candidate’s policy positions. The careful consideration of these questions is what political prudence is all about. For more information on issues such as economic, political, and religious freedom, check out our past Rapid Responses, Journals, and essays.
Sometimes, we must look at the practical results of a particular candidate’s victory. Who will a candidate surround himself with to help execute the office’s responsibilities? In the case of president, one of the most overlooked — but perhaps most important — functions is to appoint justices to the U.S. Supreme Court, who then can serve as long as they like. In fact, presidents appoint literally thousands of people in their cabinet, to judicial positions, and to regulatory agencies. And many of these individuals serve for life or at least well beyond the term(s) of the president.
Which candidate will best support the ideals necessary for the flourishing of our society: religious liberty, economic freedom, respect for life, and a proper ordering of the spheres of society? Prudence dictates that we take such political decisions into account when deciding how to cast our vote.
To summarize, Mormonism is not Christian, but that is not the only (and maybe not the leading) consideration when Christians vote. Christians may vote for candidates who are not Christians, for at issue is not the leadership of a local Christian church or Christian denomination. In the race for president, for example, our goal is not to elect a preacher-in-chief but a commander-in-chief.
Political engagement is neither easy nor optional, as Dr. Jeff Myers reminds us. But when we are equipped with biblical wisdom and make prayerful, careful deliberation, we can play our proper role as citizens and seek to shape our society for the well being of others.
- A number of additional essays and resources have been noted in the endnotes.
- Kevin James Bywater, Director of the Summit Oxford Study Centre, and a former fifth-generation Mormon, is available to speak on this and related subjects. You may contact him at email@example.com for details and pricing. His personal website is www.kevinbywater.com.
- Romney is not the first Mormon to run for the U.S. presidency. In fact, Joseph Smith, Jr., the founder and first prophet of the Mormon Church, was the first Mormon to aim for that high office. See ”Joseph Smith: Campaign for President of the United States,” Arnold K. Garr, Ensign, Feb. 2009 (http://www.lds.org/ensign/2009/02/joseph-smith-campaign-for-president-of-the-united-states). Ensign is a magazine officially published by the Mormon Church and found at an official website, www.lds.org.
- Other well-known politicians who are Mormons include Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Senator Harry Reid (D-Nevada), who currently is the Senate Majority Leader.
- http://www.pewforum.org/Politics-and-Elections/Romneys-Mormon-Faith—views-of-the-mormon-religion.aspx, accessed 29 August 2012.
- For a fuller discussion of this question, please see, Kevin James Bywater, “Mormonism: A Survey and Biblical Critique” (http://www.summit.org/resources/essays/mormonism-a-survey-and-biblical-critique/).
- Citations of Mormon teachings will reference only official websites of the Mormon Church, such as www.lds.org, www.mormon.org, www.mormonnewsroom.org, www.ldschurchnews.com, and www.byu.com (including its subsidiary library sites, such as The Encyclopedia of Mormonism, http://eom.byu.edu). We will be citing LDS prophets, apostles, and general authorities, as well as official teaching publications of the LDS Church. Do note that we will supply only a small sampling from the ocean of quotes available. It is recommended that any quote in doubt by the reader be read in its context. Usually hyperlinks are provided.
- The prefix pseudo means false, fake, or counterfeit.
- In philosophical parlance, this is known as equivocation (using the same word but with different meanings).
- See, “Apostasy,” in Encyclopedia of Mormonism, http://eom.byu.edu/index.php/Apostasy; also, Gospel Principles (2011) (an official LDS adult Sunday school manual), “Chapter 17: The Church of Jesus Christ Today” (http://www.lds.org/manual/gospel-principles/chapter-17-the-church-of-jesus-christ-today). • The Bible teaches that the church remains forever. In Matthew 16:18 Jesus declared, “I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Given that Jesus has all authority in heaven and on earth, we can trust that this promise would not fail (Matthew 28:18). While there are several passages that refer to an apostasy, it is never said to be a universal or complete apostasy (e.g., Acts 20:30; 2 Thessalonians 2:3; 1 Timothy 4:1) as Mormonism teaches. Rather, we know that God will be glorified in the church throughout all ages (Ephesians 3:21), and that Christians have received a kingdom that cannot be shaken (Hebrews 12:28; cf. Daniel 2:44).
- Sample quotes: “Restoration of the Gospel”: “God’s reestablishment of the truths and ordinances of his gospel among men on earth. The gospel of Jesus Christ was lost from the earth through the apostasy that took place following the earthly ministry of Christ’s Apostles. That apostasy made necessary the restoration of the gospel. Through visions, the ministering of angels, and revelations to men on the earth, God restored the gospel. The Restoration started with the Prophet Joseph Smith . . . and has continued to the present through the work of the Lord’s living prophets” (http://www.lds.org/scriptures/gs/restoration-of-the-gospel, accessed 28 August 2012). • Henry B. Eyring, First Counselor in the First Presidency, “The True and Living Church” (April 2008): “The Apostles, after the Ascension of Christ, continued to exercise the keys He left with them. But because of disobedience and loss of faith by the members, the Apostles died without the keys being passed on to successors. We call that tragic episode ‘the Apostasy.’ Had the members of the Church in those days had the opportunity and the will to exercise faith as you have today, the Lord would not have taken the keys of the priesthood from the earth” (http://www.lds.org/general-conference/2008/04/the-true-and-living-church?lang=eng&query=apostasy, accessed 28 August 2012).
- Sample quotes: Robert L. Millett (a Professor at Brigham Young University), “The Eternal Gospel,” Ensign, July 1996 (Ensign is an official magazine published by the LDS Church): “Knowing what we know concerning God our Father—that he is a personal being; that he has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as our own; that he is an exalted and glorified being; that he was once a man and dwelt on an earth—and knowing that this knowledge was had by many of the ancients, should we be surprised to find legends and myths throughout the cultures of the earth concerning gods who have divine power but human attributes and passions?” (http://www.lds.org/ensign/1996/07/the-eternal-gospel?lang=eng&query=robert+l.+millet,+eternal+gospel,%E2%80%9D+ensign, accessed 28 August 2012). • Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young (1997), “Chapter 4: Knowing and Honoring the Godhead”: “President Brigham Young taught the Latter-day Saints to worship God the Father and address prayers to Him in the name of Jesus Christ. He taught further that God the Father was once a man on another planet who ‘passed the ordeals we are now passing through; he has received an experience, has suffered and enjoyed, and knows all that we know regarding the toils, sufferings, life and death of this mortality’” (http://www.lds.org/manual/teachings-brigham-young/chapter-4, accessed 28 August 2012). • “The Fulness of the Gospel: The Nature of the Godhead,” Ensign, January 2006: “Not only do we know that God possesses a glorified body of flesh and bones, but from this restored understanding of the nature of God flows the Latter-day Saint belief regarding our nature and potential. The Prophet Joseph Smith once taught: ‘It is the first principle of the gospel to know for a certainty the character of God, … and that He was once a man like us. … When you climb up a ladder, you must begin at the bottom, and ascend step by step, until you arrive at the top; and so it is with the principles of the gospel—you must begin with the first, and go on until you learn all the principles of exaltation. But it will be a great while after you have passed through the veil before you will have learned them’” (ellipses in original; http://www.lds.org/ensign/2006/01/the-fulness-of-the-gospel-the-nature-of-the-godhead, accessed 29 August 2012). • God has always been God (Genesis 21:33; Psalm 90:2; Isaiah 40:28). God is spirit, not an exalted man with flesh and bone (John 4:24; Luke 24:39; Hosea 11:9; Numbers 23:19). God does not change (Malachi 3:6), nor does he grow in knowledge (Isaiah 40:13). There is none like him, he is unique, he is the only true God (Exodus 8:10; 2 Samuel 7:22; Isaiah 43:10; 44:6–8; 45:5, 21–22; 46:9; 1 Corinthians 8:5). (Note that though Jesus, being God, did become human in his incarnation [John 1:1, 14], this is quite different from a man progressing to become a god.)
- See, Encyclopedia of Mormonism, “Mother in Heaven,” http://eom.byu.edu/index.php/Mother_in_Heaven.
- Sample quotes: Primary 2: Choose the Right A (a Sunday school guide for teachers of Mormon youth), 1995, “Lesson 3: I Am a Child of God,” “Explain that we all lived in heaven with Heavenly Father before we came to this earth. We are his children. That is why we call him Heavenly Father. We also lived with our heavenly mother and all the rest of Heavenly Father’s children. Everyone who has been born on the earth is a child of Heavenly Father” (http://www.lds.org/manual/primary-2/lesson-3, accessed 28 August 2012). • “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” (1995), The First Presidency and Council of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: “ALL HUMAN BEINGS—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny” (http://www.lds.org/topics/family-proclamation, accessed 28 August 2012). • Gordon B. Hinckley, then First Counsellor in the Presidency of the LDS Church, and later Prophet, did not reject the teaching but strongly discouraged Mormons from praying to their Mother in heaven (“Daughters of God,” October 1991, http://www.lds.org/general-conference/1991/10/daughters-of-god?, accessed 28 August 2012).
- The Bible teaches that the Father is God, the Son is God (John 1:1; 20:28) and the Holy Spirit is God (Acts 5:3–4); and that they are distinct Persons in the Godhead — not to be confused with one another (Matthew 28:19; 1 Corinthians 12:4–6). There is only one true God (Deuteronomy 6:4; Isaiah 43:10; 1 Corinthians 8:4). • See the brief discussion of the doctrine of the Trinity here: “Thinking about the Trinity,” by Kevin Bywater (http://www.kevinbywater.com/?p=396). For Mormon rejection of the Trinity, see, for example, Encyclopedia of Mormonism, “Godhead,” http://eom.byu.edu/index.php/Godhead. See also the notes below.
- Further on the LDS view of God, see, Kevin James Bywater, “Mormonism and Lesser Gods” (http://www.kevinbywater.com/?p=656).
- Sample quote: In 1998, then President Gordon B. Hinckley declared, “In bearing testimony of Jesus Christ, President Hinckley spoke of those outside the Church who say Latter-day Saints “do not believe in the traditional Christ. No, I don’t. The traditional Christ of whom they speak is not the Christ of whom I speak” (“Crown of gospel is upon our heads,’ Church News, Saturday, June 20, 1998, http://www.ldschurchnews.com/articles/31188/Crown-of-gospel-is-upon-our-heads.html, accessed 28 August 2012). • The Mormon view of Jesus is not the biblical view of Jesus. Indeed, the apostle Paul warned that some would teach “a different Jesus” (2 Corinthians 11:3-4, 13-15).
- Sample quote: Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith (a church teaching manual), “Chapter 2: God the Eternal Father”: “Joseph Smith taught the following in April 1843, later recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 130:22: ‘The Father 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. Were it not so, the Holy Ghost could not dwell in us.’ ‘I have always declared God to be a distinct personage, Jesus Christ a separate and distinct personage from God the Father, and that the Holy Ghost was a distinct personage and a Spirit: and these three constitute three distinct personages and three Gods” (http://www.lds.org/manual/teachings-joseph-smith/chapter-2, accessed 28 August 2012).
- The Mormon Church espouses not monotheism (belief in one God) but polytheism (belief in many gods). Sample quotes: Dallin H. Oaks (one of the Mormon twelve apostles), “Apostasy and Restoration,” Ensign, May 1995: “In common with the rest of Christianity, we believe in a Godhead of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. However, we testify that these three members of the Godhead are three separate and distinct beings. We also testify that God the Father is not just a spirit but is a glorified person with a tangible body, as is his resurrected Son, Jesus Christ…. In contrast, many Christians reject the idea of a tangible, personal God and a Godhead of three separate beings. They believe that God is a spirit and that the Godhead is only one God. In our view, these concepts are evidence of the falling away we call the Great Apostasy” (http://www.lds.org/ensign/1995/05/apostasy-and-restoration, accessed 28 August 2012). • News Release, 20 July 2007, “Elder Oaks Interview Transcript from PBS Documentary”: “Before the close of his ministry, in Illinois, Joseph Smith put together the significance of what he had taught about the nature of God and the nature and destiny of man. He preached a great sermon not long before he was murdered that God was a glorified Man, glorified beyond our comprehension, (still incomprehensible in many ways), but a glorified, resurrected, physical Being, and it is the destiny of His children upon this earth, upon the conditions He has proscribed, to grow into that status themselves. That was a big idea, a challenging idea. It followed from the First Vision, and it was taught by Joseph Smith, and it is the explanation of many things that Mormons do — the whole theology of Mormonism” (http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/elder-oaks-interview-transcript-from-pbs-documentary, accessed 28 August 2012).
- Sample quotes: Gospel Principles (a standard adult LDS Sunday school text): “Jesus was willing to come to the earth, give His life for us, and take upon Himself our sins…. Satan, who was called Lucifer, also came…. Jesus Christ Became Our Chosen Leader and Savior . . . After hearing both sons speak, Heavenly Father said, ‘I will send the first’…” (http://www.lds.org/manual/gospel-principles/chapter-3-jesus-christ-our-chosen-leader-and-savior?, accessed 28 August 2012). • For further discussion, see, Kevin James Bywater, “Mormonism: Testimony to Another Jesus Christ” (http://www.summit.org/resources/essays/mormonism-testimony-to-another-jesus-christ/).
- Sample quote: Bruce R. McConkie (an apostle of the LDS Church), “The Salvation of Little Children,” Ensign (April 1977): “Christ himself, the Firstborn of the Father, rose to a state of glory and exaltation before he was ever suckled at Mary’s breast” (http://www.lds.org/ensign/1977/04/the-salvation-of-little-children, accessed 28 August 2012).
- Sample quote: Ezra Taft Benson (then an apostle of the LDS Church), “Five Marks of the Divinity of Jesus Christ,” New Era (an official publication of the LDS Church), December 1980: “I am bold to say to you young people tonight: Jesus Christ is the Son of God in the most literal sense. The body in which He performed His mission in the flesh was sired by that same Holy Being we worship as God, our Eternal Father. He was not the son of Joseph, nor was He begotten by the Holy Ghost. He is the Son of the Eternal Father!” (http://www.lds.org/new-era/1980/12/five-marks-of-the-divinity-of-jesus-christ?lang=eng&query=sired, accessed 28 August 2012).
- Sample quotes: Gospel Principles (2011), “Chapter 2: Our Heavenly Family”: “’God is not only our Ruler and Creator; He is also our Heavenly Father. All men and women are literally the sons and daughters of God. “Man, as a spirit, was begotten and born of heavenly parents, and reared to maturity in the eternal mansions of the Father, prior to coming upon the earth in a temporal [physical] body” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith , 335)” (http://www.lds.org/manual/gospel-principles/chapter-2-our-heavenly-family, accessed 28 August 2012). • See also Encylopedia of Mormonism, “Jesus Christ: Only Begotten in the Flesh”: “It is LDS doctrine that Jesus Christ is the child of Mary and God the Father, “not in violation of natural law but in accordance with a higher manifestation thereof” (http://eom.byu.edu/index.php/Jesus_Christ#Jesus_Christ:_Only_Begotten_in_the_Flesh, accessed 28 August 2012).
- Sample quote: Preparing for Exaltation: Teacher’s Manual (an adult Sunday school manual published by the LDS Church), “Lesson 3: The Fall of Adam and Eve”: “Express your gratitude for Adam and Eve and the choice they made. Encourage class members to follow Adam and Eve’s example and choose good over evil…. Encourage class members to continue to be like Adam and Eve, following their righteous examples” (http://www.lds.org/manual/preparing-for-exaltation-teachers-manual/lesson-3-the-fall-of-adam-and-eve, accessed 28 August 2012). • Further discussion of this issue is found in Kevin James Bywater, “Mormonism on the Fall” (http://www.kevinbywater.com/?p=241), and “Mormon Theology, God, and the Original Catch-22” (http://www.kevinbywater.com/?p=157).
- The Bible teaches that humans are created, not procreated, by God (Genesis 1:26; 2:7). Our existence begins in the womb of our mothers (Psalm 139:13). Humans cannot compare themselves to Jesus and his pre-existence, for they are not deities, while Jesus is. He pre-existed because he is God (Isaiah 9:6; John 1:1; 17:5; Philippians 2:6–7). Jesus alone is from heaven, we are from the earth (John 3:13, 31; 8:23–24). Humans cannot become gods (Isaiah 43:10). Humans are created beings, unlike God, who has always been (Genesis 21:33). God will not share his glory with another (Isaiah 42:8).
- See the discussion and notes below, under “4. How Does One Acquire Salvation?”
- Sample quotes: Gospel Principles, “Chapter 10: Scriptures”: “”Through the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Lord has expanded our understanding of some passages in the Bible. The Lord inspired the Prophet Joseph to restore truths to the Bible text that had been lost or changed since the original words were written. These inspired corrections are called the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible. In the Latter-day Saint edition of the King James Version of the Bible, selected passages from the Joseph Smith Translation are found on pages 797–813 and in many footnotes” (http://www.lds.org/manual/gospel-principles/chapter-10-scriptures, accessed 28 August 2012). • God has promised that his word, the Bible, would stand forever (Isaiah 40:3). We know that his word is true (John 17:17), contains wisdom unto salvation, and thoroughly equips God’s people for every good work (2 Timothy 3:15–17). God has given us everything we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:2).
- While this may be hard to believe, see the illustration of Jesus as a creditor who refinances sins provided by Boyd K. Packer (an apostle of the LDS Church), “The Mediator,” Ensign, May 1977 (http://www.lds.org/ensign/1977/05/the-mediator); also, Gospel Principles (2011), “Chapter 12: The Atonement” (http://www.lds.org/manual/gospel-principles/chapter-12-the-atonement).
- This small group is comprised of those called “the sons of perdition,” and include people who have left the Mormon Church or otherwise committed the unforgiveable sin (see, “Sons of Perdition,” Encyclopedia of Mormonism [http://eom.byu.edu/index.php/Sons_of_Perdition]).
- The three Mormon heavens are the celestial, terrestrial, and telestial kingdoms. • The context of 1 Corinthians 15:40–41 (a key proof text for their teaching) is the contrast between resurrection (celestial, heavenly) and pre-resurrection (terrestrial, earthly) bodies, not heavenly kingdoms. The Bible does speak of three heavens, but not in the Mormon sense: the atmospheric heaven, where birds fly and from which the rains fall (Genesis 7:23; 8:2); the astronomic heaven, where the stars and planets reside (Genesis 1:14, 15; 22:17); and the third heaven, the throne of God (Matthew 6:9; Revelation 4:2).
- Sample quote: Gospel Principles (2011), “Chapter 47: Exaltation”: “What is exaltation? Exaltation is eternal life, the kind of life God lives. He lives in great glory. He is perfect. He possesses all knowledge and all wisdom. He is the Father of spirit children. He is a creator. We can become like our Heavenly Father. This is exaltation. If we prove faithful to the Lord, we will live in the highest degree of the celestial kingdom of heaven. We will become exalted, to live with our Heavenly Father in eternal families.… What are some blessings that will be given to those who are exalted? Our Heavenly Father is perfect, and He glories in the fact that it is possible for His children to become like Him… These are some of the blessings given to exalted people: 1. They will live eternally in the presence of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ… 2. They will become gods… 3. They will be united eternally with their righteous family members and will be able to have eternal increase….” (http://www.lds.org/manual/gospel-principles/chapter-47-exaltation, accessed 28 August 2012).
- See, Russell M. Nelson (an LDS apostle), “Celestial Marriage” General Conference address, April 2012 (http://www.lds.org/general-conference/2008/10/celestial-marriage).
- Those who receive Jesus will have eternal life, but the wrath of God remains on those who reject him (John 3:36). While Christians are called to keep God’s commandments (e.g. John 14:15), salvation is in no way based on our own righteous deeds (Ephesians 2:8-10; Titus 3:5–8). It is through the atonement of Christ that we are made perfect (Hebrews 10:13–18). • For further discussion, see, Kevin James Bywater, “Not a Religion but a Relationship?” (http://www.kevinbywater.com/?p=618).
- For further clarification, see, Kevin James Bywater, “But I Am a Mormon…Aren’t Christians Mormons Too?” (http://www.kevinbywater.com/?p=523), and “Learning a Lesson from the LDS Newsroom” (http://www.kevinbywater.com/?p=554).
- See the fuller discussion and comparison in Kevin James Bywater’s essay, “Mormonism: A Survey and Biblical Critique” (http://www.summit.org/resources/essays/mormonism-a-survey-and-biblical-critique/).
- See, Kevin James Bywater, “A Few Quick Thoughts on Citizens as Voters” (http://www.kevinbywater.com/?p=669).
- See the discussion in Kevin James Bywater, “Do Muslims, Mormons, and Christians Worship the Same God?” (http://www.kevinbywater.com/?p=561).