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Is Mormonism a Christian Denomination?

Mormons like Glenn Beck and Senator Orrin Hatch have long given a high profile to this American-grown faith. And with Mitt Romney in the running for the Republican nomination, the question of exactly how to categorize Mormonism has become news. An Evangelical pastor who supports Rick Perry told reporters he thought Mormonism is “a cult”, prompting a denial of the opinion by the Perry campagn, and a characterization of it as “bigotry” by former member of the Reagan cabinet, Bill Bennett, speaking in support of Romney. Mormons, meanwhile, very openly express the hope that having a Mormon running in the presidential race will help people to see their religion as “mainstream.”

Mormons have been publicly asking to be accepted as “Christians” and have their church, “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints”, viewed as just another Christian denomination for decades now. But their own history makes this problematic. Their founder, Joseph Smith, claimed to have been told in a vision regarding the Christian churches that God “forbade me to join with any of them” and “all their creeds were an abomination in his sight.” It is hence Mormons (not Christians) who established, from the beginning of their group, an antagonistic relationship with those Christian groups already in existence, although in recent years Mormons have sought to downplay this antagonism. Still, even while they seem to be natural political and social allies with Evangelicals, many Evangelicals continue to refer to the Mormon faith as a “cult.” (To make it more confusing for a Catholic, some of these same Evangelicals might call the Catholic Church “a cult.”) Meanwhile, when Mormons are not trying to make common cause with Evangelicals, they will boldly challenge Catholics with their assertion that the Mormon church is the only true church.

In one sense, clearly, Mormonism is Christian. If you were going to categorize Mormonism according to world-religion criteria, you would have to say they are Christians. World religions are the major belief systems found around the world that frame a tradition of enough cultural richness to support a civilization. The major world religions are Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Shintoism, Confucianism and Islam. Clearly Mormonism fits into the broad “Christian” category. And so would many other groups whose relationship with the wider Christian world is antagonistic: Jehovah’s Witnesses, Oneness Pentecostals, etc.

Also, we have to remember that individual Mormons may be Christians in spite of being Mormons. Some Mormon converts were baptized as Christians at some point before becoming Mormons. So when we talk about whether Mormons are Christians, we really are talking about whether Mormonism as a belief system is Christian, not judging the faith claim of an individual.

America’s Lost Tribe

It may be that in the not-too-distant future, we will have to categorize Mormonism as a separate world religion. It is the fifth-largest religious group now in the US, having passed the Lutherans, and the LDS are experiencing rapid expansion in other countries. In many ways its development parallels that of Islam. Both religions were founded by prophets who claimed to have been visited by an angel. They borrow heavily from Judaism and Christianity, yet reject their central tenets. Both rely upon strange revisions of history. The Koran identifies Mary, the mother of Jesus, with Miriam the sister of Moses, who lived over fourteen centuries earlier. The Book of Mormon makes numerous claims regarding the peoples of the Americas (including the idea that the American Indians descended from a lost tribe of ancient Israelites) that have been refuted by history, archeology, and anthropology. Both Islam and Mormonism claim that where their sacred writings contradict the Bible, the Christian and Jewish scriptures have been corrupted.

It might be argued that Mormons have the right to say that they are “Christians” and no one should deny what they say about themselves. It is possible, however, for us to respect their right to call themselves whatever they wish without feeling compelled to validate that claim ourselves. This is complicated by the fact that to many Catholics, Mormonism seems no more strange than the Baptist faith, or that of any other Protestant denomination. In part this is because Mormons themselves generally use the language and terminology common to (especially Protestant) Christians. In their initial approach to you, they will do all they can to hide or gloss over the distinctive beliefs of their church. Statements of Mormon belief sound so much like statements of the Christian faith that many Catholics and Protestants are quite willing to recognize Mormons as “Christians,” not merely in the world-religion sense, but in the sense in which we Catholics recognize Protestant Christians as our “separated brethren.” This is a serious error with two major consequences.

First, Christians (including Catholics) are misled into the Mormon church where they are indoctrinated in a religion which rejects the central doctrines of the Christian faith, resulting in them bringing their children up as non-Christians. Second, Christians embrace Mormons as fellow Christians instead of evangelizing them.

In order to protect Christians from this deception and to help Mormons learn the truth, we must understand how Mormon doctrine differs from the historic Christian faith that we share with Protestants. To do this, we will examine first what Mormons say, then how they define the terms they are using and how that differs from the Christian faith. Finally we provide a biblical, Christian response and suggestions for how to discuss these things with a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

The Central Question: Who is God?

What Mormons will say they believe about God:

  1. We believe in God the Father who is the Father of Jesus Christ.
  2. We worship God the Father and pray to him in Jesus’ name.
  3. Jesus is our Savior.

Why the Mormon God the Father is not the Christian God the Father:

  1. “God the Father” to a Mormon is not God the Father, first Person of the Holy Trinity, Whom Christians confess. He is one of many gods (D&C 130: 22-23).
  2. The Mormon worships God the Father because He is the god of this planet, but other planets have other gods equal to or even greater than God the Father. (Joseph Smith King Follett Discourse, 1844).
  3. The Mormon “God the Father” had a father and was once a man on a planet who worshiped his own Father God. He was subsequently exalted to godhood. He has a physical, human body (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 345).
  4. It is the hope of the male Mormon to progress to the point where he too will be a god like God the Father and be ruling over his own planet (Ibid, p. 346,7)
  5. The Mormons have a saying: “What man is, God once was; what God is, man may be” (LDS Church President Lorenzo Snow’s summation).  This is polytheism.

Christian answer:

  1. The God of the Bible is the Creator and God of all the universe, of all worlds, not just our planet. He made the heavens and the earth; there is no other God; there never has been any other God, nor will there ever be another (Gn 1:1; Is 43;10; 44:6, 8, 24).
  2. God the Father was never a man.
  3. You will never be God.
  4. True Christianity, like Judaism, is monotheistic. As our creed states “We believe in one God.”

Jesus: Brother of Lucifer?

Why the Mormon Jesus is not the Christian Jesus:

  1. The Mormon Jesus is the spirit-brother of Lucifer (Satan). They were both born in heaven by God the Father’s union with one of his many spirit wives (Mormon Doctrine pp 192, 516; Ensign Magazine June, 1986, p 25)
  2. According to Mormon teaching, when it was time for Jesus to come down to earth, God the Father sent down one of his spirit wives from heaven to be born as a woman, Mary. Then he came down and had physical, marital relations with her in order for her to give birth to a human body inhabited by Jesus coming from heaven. This is a denial of the Virgin Birth (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 1:50-51; Orson Pratt, The Seer, Oct. 1853, p. 158).

Christian answer:

  1. Since God the Father does not have a physical human body, He did not impregnate Mary by a physical union (2 Chr 6:18; Jn 4:24).
  2. Jesus became incarnate by the power of the Holy Spirit and was born of the Virgin Mary (Mt 1:23; Lk 2:30-35).
  3. God the Father does not have a wife or wives in heaven.
  4. Jesus is the eternally-begotten Son of God, one in being with the Father (Jn 1:1-18).
  5. He is not the older brother of Lucifer.
  6. He is the older brother, as well as Lord and God, of those born again by water and Spirit, God’s adopted children (Jn 3:3-17; Rom 8:14-17, 29).

Why the Mormon doctrine of man is not the Christian doctrine of man:

  1. According to Mormonism, all human beings existed as spirit children of God and his wife in heaven before coming to earth (http://www.mormonwiki.com/Pre-Mortal_Life).
  2. They grow to spirit “adulthood” serving God (even fighting in heavenly battles), and are then sent to earth to be babies of human parents (ibid).
  3. The earthly life is their opportunity to become gods themselves, like their heavenly Father, by “obeying the laws of the Gospel” just as the god of this planet once did (Joseph Fielding Smith Jr., Doctrines of Salvation, Vol.1, p.69 – p.70)

Christian answer:

  1. There is no biblical support for the idea that human beings were spirit children of God in heaven before coming to earth.
  2. Jesus was unique in being a human being with a pre-human existence (Jn 1:18; 3:13, 31; 8:23, 58).
  3. Jesus took on human nature at the Incarnation. God became man — not the other way around. His human nature was glorified at His Resurrection.
  4. We will be like God in that we will have the same kind of glorified human nature which Jesus possesses, not in becoming gods and ruling planets ourselves (1 Jn 3:3; Rom 8:22, Phil 3:20-21).
  5. While heaven is the presence of God with unfettered communion, the distinction between God and creatures remains (Rv 5:13, 14).

What is Salvation?

What Mormons will say they believe about salvation:

  1. All are redeemed by the Savior’s self-sacrifice, from the consequences of the fall.
  2. Immortality comes as a free gift, by the grace of God alone, without works.
  3. Jesus is our Savior.

Why Mormon salvation is not Christian salvation:

  1. According to Mormonism, everyone and everything — all of creation — has been redeemed and therefore “saved” (Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 25:23; Mormon Doctrine pp. 669-671)
  2. This salvation gains, for all human beings, a physical resurrection only — not eternal life. Eternal life is not “salvation”; it is “exaltation” (Joseph Fielding Smith Jr., Doctrines of Salvation, Vol.2, p.9).
  3. If you ask a Mormon if he is saved (per Evangelical parlance), he will answer yes.
  4. If you ask him if he believes you are saved, he will answer yes. This confuses Christians who do not understand that being “saved” and gaining “eternal life” are not the same thing in Mormon thinking (D&C 14:7; Mormon Doctrine, pp. 237, 376-377, 670).
  5. It is further confused by the Mormon distinction between “immortality” (salvation to physical resurrection) and “eternal life” (exaltation to godhood).
  6. The Mormons have a saying: “Salvation without exaltation is damnation.”
  7. Therefore, a Mormon can, with a straight face, tell you he believes you are “saved,” while he also believes you are damned! (Mormon Doctrine pp. 669-669).

Christian answer:

  1. We define salvation according to what we are saved from. We are saved from sin and from the wages of sin — death.
  2. To be saved from sin is to be justified and sanctified. To be saved from death is to receive eternal life (Rom 6:22, 23).
  3. Being saved, justified, sanctified and given eternal life by the grace of God are all things which are interconnected in the Scriptures. There is no biblical basis for separating them (Rom 5).
  4. Seeking exaltation is contrary to the spirit of Christ. We are rather to humble ourselves, recognize our sinfulness and call upon the Lord for mercy and forgiveness (Js 4:6-10).

Why the Mormon hope is not the Christian hope:

  1. It is the hope of the male Mormon to progress to the point where he will be a god like God the Father and be ruling over his own planet. This is “exaltation,” and depends upon the Mormon “Plan of Eternal Progression” (Joseph Fielding Smith ed, Teachings of The Prophet Joseph Smith, 346-48, The Ensign, Nov. 1975, 80).
  2. The hope of Mormon females depends upon their being married, in a temple ceremony, to a Mormon male who achieves exaltation (LDS.org lesson for young women; Journal of Discourses, vol. 5, p. 291).
  3. Mormon women married to non-Mormons (“Gentiles”) can arrange for a “temple sealing” (marriage by proxy) to a Mormon male after their death. This is to assure that in eternity they are considered to have been married to and produced their children from a Mormon husband so that they and their children can be exalted.
  4. Mormon males expect to produce offspring in heaven with their mate(s), offspring who will subsequently be sent to populate their planet and achieve their own exaltation to godhood and so on and so on…

Christian answer:

  1. The God of the Bible is the Creator and God of all the universe, of all worlds, not just our planet. He made man for Himself and in His image to be in communion with God and enter into the love of the Holy Trinity.
  2. When man fell into sin and marred the image of God in his own being, the second person of the Trinity became incarnate — taking human nature to Himself.
  3. He then did what He could not do in the form of God: He died to save us from sin and death, so that we could come back into communion with God and share the love of the Holy Trinity. Our hope is to be with God, not to be God (Gn 1-3; Phil 2:5-11).

When Talking to a Mormon

Remember that the Mormon is trained to hide the difference between his beliefs and yours and to present himself as a Christian. However, his belief that he is a Christian is sincere, and his efforts to hide the distinctive of the Mormon religion are pursued in his desire to get you to accept Mormon teachings.

Do not allow glib, surface responses to go unchallenged; press the Mormon to define the Christian-sounding words he is using.

Define your own terms also. Draw the contrast for the Mormon. Calmly and clearly insist that what you and he believe about the nature of God, the identity of Jesus, the nature of man, salvation and eternal life are different. To pretend otherwise is dishonest.

Appeal to his honesty and sense of fairness. You might say, “Look, we are not going to get anywhere unless we are honest with each other. Without making any statement about which one of us is right, can’t we just acknowledge that we do not worship the same God?” or “Can’t we just acknowledge that we do not have the same hope for the future?”

Help the Mormon to consider the logical and philosophical problems with the Plan of Eternal Progression: If God had a Father and He had a Father and so on — then who was the first God? Mormons say it is an “infinite regression.” But since there is no way to cross an infinite distance or pass an infinite amount of time, there would be no way to get to “now” and to “us” from an infinite past. Time has to have had a beginning and it did. It began with the creation “of all things seen and unseen” by God. Mormons say that God is omnipotent (almighty, all-powerful), yet they say there are many gods. There cannot be more than one omnipotent being, so the Mormon conception of God is shrunken and distorted.

A big selling point of the Mormon hope for the future is the idea that families will be together eternally. But if Mormons become Gods of planets and then their children become Gods of other planets — how do the children and parents get together? Can a God leave his planet unattended while he goes to a celestial family reunion? This Mormon selling point would be diminished if we Christians were more vocal about our hope for the “new heavens and new earth” in which we know one another in the all the relationships of our present lives, only in glory (2 Pt 3:13; Rv 21:1).

Welcome the participation of Mormons in causes which we share for the common good: strengthening family life, fighting pornography and abortion, fostering the virtue of patriotism, and defending the Constitution. We honor each Mormon as a person who desires what is genuinely good for himself, his family and his society — and when we share the truths of the Christian faith with him.

[For more on the political implications of Mormonism see here.]

© Copyright 2011 Mary Kochan.


Mary Kochan, former Senior Editor of CatholicExchange, is Editor-at-Large  of CatholicLane.com.

Raised as a  third-generation Jehovah's Witness, Mary worked her way backwards through the Protestant Reformation to enter the Catholic Church on Trinity Sunday, 1996.  Mary has spoken in many settings, to groups large and small, on the topic of destructive cultism and has been a guest on both local and national radio programs. To arrange for Mary to speak at your event, you may contact her at kochanmar@gmail.com.

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  • Kay Anne Kelly

    Printing off for my older teen sons to read for religion this week! Great article!!

    • bmalan

      I am a Christian now, but was a Mormon for 26 years before, and pretty much know every great thing, and every not so great thing about Mormonism. This article is spot on with how Mormons interact with Christians. The only part that I hope will be corrected is where it says “God sent one of his spirit wives to be born as a women.” First off, Mormons believe their mother in heaven already has a resurrected and glorified body, never to be separated from her spirit again. To a degree, Mormon apostle Bruce R. McConkie taught in his book “Mormon Doctrine” that God the Father had relations with Mary in order for Jesus to be born. Mormons believe that Mary was a spirit child of God the Father, but not his spirit wife. There are some rumors that God the Father married Mary before the relations occurred, and they stem off of McConkie’s Mormon Doctrine book. There’s kind of a haze over the church as to how it really happened, and if you ask a mormon today how Jesus was conceived, they will most likely state they don’t know, or they’ll say the church has not made an official statement on that yet. I hope this little error is corrected so that Mormon’s won’t be turned off when they read or hear about it. If they see or hear anything that is this out of line about their church, they will treat the whole message as a huge error, thus keeping them in darkness. Other then that I loved the Article! :)

      • Mary Kochan

        Thank you so much. I am very willing to make any factual changes needed to be certain of accuracy. So would it be better to say that “God sent one of his spirit daughters to be born as a woman” etc?

        • Johnh

          In so far as everyone is a spirit son or daughter of God then, yes.

          Also, on the Mormon hope part point 3 is not currently practiced at all, the way such a mixed marriage would be handled currently is that the couple would be sealed after the non-Mormon spouse has been dead a year (or they are both dead a year).

          On the Mormon God not Christian God, point 4, it is that we are joint-heirs with Christ; the ruling over a planet is speculation. This actually applies to most of the rest of what you have written.

  • http://www.margefenelon.com Marge Fenelon

    I highly recommend reading Martha Beck’s “Leaving the Saints.” Careful, though. Mature audiences only.

    • jamadan

      After taking a look at that, I’d have to add a note of caution on that recommendation. Martha Besk is one very messed up individual. Having gotten married, then having both she and her husband suddenly “discover” that they were closet homosexuals, so they divorced to each pursue a gay relationship. Then, her new gay lover has a bent for discovering repressed memories of sexual abuse and so hypnotizes her and “discovers” memories of her own abuse by her famous Mormon father – allegations that she herself doubted and her entire family vehemently refuted . . . just doesn’t add up to a credible testimony.

  • fishman

    Respectfully I would disagree with this statement:
    “If you were going to categorize Mormonism according to world-religion criteria, you would have to say they are Christians. ”

    There are two ways to classify a philosophy.
    either based on it’s historical genesis or based on it’s theological tenants.

    Historically , there is a loose relationship between Mormonism and Christianity, in so much as Joseph Smith derived some portions of his teachings from Christian documents.

    However, theologically there is no greater relationship between Mormons and Christians then there is between Christians and Muslims, who also , acknowledge that Jesus was a great prophet and the intended Messiah of the Jewish people.

    Both are forms of Arianism in so much as for them Jesus is a created being, not an essential one.

    Theologically if Mormonism is a form of Christianity , you must also classify Islam , and Voodoo as forms of Christianity and Buddhism as a form of Hindi.

    Certainly they are part of the Judea-Christian branch ( as are Muslims and Jews) but in my mind the term Christian is not applicable to any group unable to honestly recite the Apostles creed.

    • bmalan

      I agree! Well said.

    • Johnh

      Theologically the early Christian heresies such as Arianism were considered Christian. Since those heresies are Christian then Mormonism is also Christian.

  • Theodore Kobernick

    Mary, I agree with everything you wrote. Personally, I find much in the Mormon belief system to be a bunch of nonsense. While everything you addressed is addressed correctly, there is a whole area not addressed: the behavior of a Mormon as an expression of his/her belief in Christ.

    This behavior is more important to the Lord than perhaps to us. Too many of us have fallen into the pattern of addressing Jesus as “Lord, Lord” but not obeying him (Matthew 7:21-23).

    The most startling example of Jesus’ preference for behavior over doctrine is his parable of the Good Samaritan. The religion of the Samaritans was a conglomeration of Judaism and paganism. Their doctrine was weird. In a way, I view them much as I view today’s Mormons. Jesus told his story to a doctor of the law, and included two Jewish equivalents of churchmen. His punchline was “go, and DO likewise.” Jesus never expressed admiration for Samaritan doctrine; but the behavior of a Samaritan who lived a life of love for God and for his neighbor warranted Jesus citing it as an example.

    I always endeavor to present correct, godly doctrine. So do you. Both of us love the Lord, and both of us have considerable education in Christian doctrine. I can see no cause of conflict there, even though we end up with differing doctrines and dogmas. “Now we see as through a glass darkly, but then face to face.” (1 Corinthians 13:12) And I suspect that most Mormons’ understanding of Mormon doctrine is about as hazy as that of most Protestants and most Catholics.

    In Matthew 25:31 ff, Jesus says that he will judge by our behavior. In Romans 2:14-15 St. Paul says that even pagans who have the law in their hearts will be acceptable to God.

    It was not just Joseph Smith who differentiated between Christians and Mormons; somewhat later, Brigham Young made the same distinction. But institutions change over time. Just look at the legal, moral, and spiritual changes in the USA since Young’s day. If a Mormon wants to be regarded as a Christian, and that Mormon’s life expresses Christianity, who am I — I who cannot search men’s hearts — who am I to say, “You are not a Christian”?

    Most of the specifically UNCHRISTIAN Mormon beliefs have little or nothing to do with how they live.

    My home is Washington State. Every annual Roe v. Wade protest at the State capitol has been filled with Catholics (the Knights of Columbus make the finest presence), Mormons, and Evangelicals. This fills me with joy.

    Unfortunately, I’ve encountered too many Evangelicals who make a point of bashing Mormons. I have a sneaky suspicion the REAL reason (NEVER acknowledged) is that young Mormon go out two by two to knock on strangers’ doors to evangelize.

    Having expressed my view, may I thank you for an unusually complete and well thought out article?

    • http://www.schefter.org PrairieHawk

      I would point out that Mormons do not confer valid Baptism (http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20010605_battesimo_mormoni_en.html).

      Because Baptism is the sacrament of salvation, there is no way to get to Heaven without it, and any Mormons who are saved would be saved by way of exception, through another means such as Baptism by desire.

      Orthopraxy, right behavior, is indeed very important, but the foundational behavior for someone who wants to go to Heaven is to get baptized.

      If a Mormon truly desires a relationship with Jesus and the Church, this desire can be saving, but we shouldn’t overlook the overwhelming importance of Baptism by water and Spirit.

    • turzovka

      Theodore, I am with you. I am as orthodox of a Catholic as I know, and yet… I fully accept the teachings of Scripture which you sited where our most merciful God judges the heart more than the doctrine. So to those who insist heaven is not possible without baptism, or heaven is not possible wihout consciously accepting Jesus as your Lord and Savior, I say, no. Of extreme importance to most? Absolutely. But not for all. “To those God has given more, more will be required.” But what of to those to whom such Christian opportunities were never so readily presented? They are damned? Surely not. Go read the Scriptures Theodore sited, or Vatican II. Yes, evangelize, but never be so dogmatic on your judgments. Charity remains the greatest virtue, not faith.

      • Mary Kochan

        turzovka, i tried to be very clear in my article that I was not judging, nor was the information presented in order to judge the soul of any individual, but we do have to make a distinction between truth and error.

        • turzovka

          Your article was terrific, and if I disagree with you I know not where. I am so adamant about dogma and doctrine when discussing apologetics to Protestants or even liberal Catholics — and its consequences! — that I think you would find no fault in me. So if I sound like a contradiction, believe me I am not. The importance of being a devoted and practicing Catholic can never be overstated, but if we are asked who is saved and who is not, that becomes a separate and critical matter as well.

          Purgatory is the great blessing from above, a true gift from God where His mercy and His justice are made perfect. In my understanding, the vast majority of those in heaven will first undergo a purification or (for those of other faiths) an education in purgatory. To those who have greater faults, this time spent there will be horrific, painful, agonizing, arduous and seem almost eternal! Who wants that? This is why I implore all souls to understand the Catholic faith and all the graces and sacraments it affords us to overcome our sinfulness! Being saved has no comparison… but avoiding long lonley and suffering ages in purgatory is of the next greatest importance in my opinion. This is what the world is completely blind too, and this is why teaching the truth and doctrine to Mormons and all others remains to vital.

  • http://www.lampstandfoundation.org/ DavidHLukenbill

    An absolutely great article Mary, virtually one of the best I’ve read describing the differences between Mormonism and Catholicism.

    I was raised as a Mormon, but once becoming an adult I began to study its “theology” and found all of what you have written about and much more that I found impossible to equate with any form of Christianity.

    It was a case of—the deeper you searched the less that was there.

    We converted to Catholicism in 2004, after an extensive theological search, which in Catholicism’s case was the opposite, the deeper I search, the more that I find, the more that opens up.

    Thank you for your work!

  • Mary Kochan

    Thank you, David. Appreciate anything you can do to spread the article around.

    Theodore and Fishman, you two are taking opposite sides here. Fishman, when I say Mormonism falls in the broad world religion category of “Christian,” that is not a comment on their theology, which is terrible. It is based on where any reasonable obeserver would place them noting that Jesus is the central figure in their faith, they use a version of the Bible, they celebrate Christmas, Easter, etc., they use Christian hymns, and they claim to be Christians — not to be Hindus, or Shintoists etc.

    Theodore, this Catholic finds she needs to remind you, a Protestant, that salvation is not by works.

    Perhaps this illustration would help: Suppose you and I were sitting in a pub with a large moosehead on the wall and we were talking about religion. Suppose I affirmed for you that Jesus was my savior, that he died for my sins and was raised for my justification, that I prayed to him daily. Just when you had assured yourself that I was a Christian, I pointed to the moosehead and said, “I even come every day to this pub where I can look at Jesus’ head on the wall right there.”

    Regardless of how sweet and kind I was — however moral and “Christian” my conduct — my faith could not be described as Christian. See, Jesus is THE WORD OF GOD, He is not merely a word, nor is He a magical name, such that any pronounciation of the the syllables of His name — regardless of the content ascribed to them — counts as faith in Him. The Mormon conception of Jesus is as far from reality as believing he is a moose. This is because any belief that He is less than infinite deity is infinitely wrong.

    • Johnh

      I would suggest that you prove your statement about the Mormon beliefs on Jesus via the Bible but having had contact with believing Catholics I know this to be pointless as the traditions of men trump the word of God.

      If you are actually interested in having this discussion then I would be willing to defend my beliefs. Also, Jesus is an infinite deity in the LDS view.

  • Theodore Kobernick

    Oops! My goof. I do not believe that salvation is by works. The comment I wrote did not do a good job of conveying my view.

    I think that the biblical examples I cited may have fallen into the category of persons who have not learned of the true God, and of sin which separates us from him.

    Your parable of Jesus AND the moosehead is well taken. In the Old Testament histories, God is rarely angry with his people because they have ceased entirely to worship him; rather, God’s anger is aroused when his people think they can mix Jaweh worship with the worship of other “gods.”

    Whereas I would never urge anyone to convert to Mormonism, I do not feel a call to convert Mormons into Protestants or Catholics. But, as a CHRISTIAN, I have counselled at least two Protestants to convert to Catholicism, so that there would be harmony in their families, and so that their worship would be a source of joy and peace.

    Salvation occurs through faith hooking up with the Lord’s mercy. Of course, true faith in Jesus leads the believer to live a renewed life. Antinomianism is not an option.

    • turzovka

      Theodore! I just gave you praises for your comments above and now you challenge me. Not that I am shaken mind you. However, I dare say many souls are in heaven because of “works,” a word I really find disturbing mind you because it is so bland sounding. What I really mean to imply is that there are souls in heaven who never knew of Jesus or even the Father, but are saved for all eternity because of what Romans and other passages say about them, i.e. “through no fault of there own were they denied the truth.” Those many people are judged by God as well, although they are more judged upon their consciences, i.e. their understanding of right and wrong and the choices they made accordingly. They are also judged on their many acts of charity or their acts of indifference. It all makes perfect sense with Christian teachings. The Beatitudes are quite clear on this, but no more clear than Matthew 25, the Final Judgment. Anyone can read for themselves who the Father separates, good vs. evil. It is all about Charity!! Or the lack there of!

      • Mary Kochan

        Careful, turzovka. There is a fine balance here.

        We take it too far and we make Christ unnecessary for salvation and the Holy Spirit unnecessary for charity.

        We go the other direction and we nullify the mercy of God.

        Best that we obey. We are commanded to preach Christ AND through charity make the nations prove (test) the wonders of His love (as the great Weslyian hymn puts it). We are commanded to bring every thought into captivity to Him and give a reasonable defense for our hope while we buttress our evangelism with prayer, as one preacher put it: always talk to God about the man, before you talk to the man about God.

        • turzovka

          I hear you. Do see my comments further above which addresses this subject as well. I would very much like to know yours. Believe me, I am no pacifier to those who reject the need for the Church. I speak more “charitably” about God’s mercy to non-believers only when talking to other Catholics, I guess?

  • jamadan

    Very well written article, Mary. And I love the moosehead analogy in your response :-)

    I don’t have a problem with Mitt Romney serving as President based on his faith, but I’ll never be able to view as anything other than a cult.

    When Mormon’s used to come to my door, I’d cut right to the chase and ask them who they believe Jesus Christ to be. They give all the right buzzwords a Christian would expect. But when you ask if they believe He is God and the only begotten Son of the Father, they say ‘no’ . . . and there’s the rub.

    At their last visit 3 years ago, I spent an hour walking the two of them through proper Christian theology of the Trinity and why their beliefs were false. I had the younger one ready to respond, the older one was at a loss for words. They dutifully avoid my house now as I see them visit my neighbors. Shame, I was really hoping to bring them into the true faith of Christianity.

    Equipped with the information you provide above, it helps a Christian to understand the false beliefs that underlie the veneer of “Christian”-like terms they use when discussing their faith.

    Thanks for providing this service. God bless.

    • Johnh

      Do what? All Mormons believe that Jesus is the Only Begotten Son of God and a member of the Godhead and God.

      I seriously doubt they avoid your house on purpose, having been a missionary myself we didn’t keep records of people that bible bashed with us and if they did then you would likely get a fairly regular stream of Elders coming by.

      If you are actually interested in having a discussion on the LDS conception of God vs the Trinity I would be happy to have it.

  • Kate

    As a cradle Catholic married for 30 years to a confessional Protestant, I find it ridiculous when any separated group calls another “non-Christian.” My experiences tell me that this “Christian versus Mormon” perspective is more the result of cultural bias and ministerial self preservation than any interest in saving souls. With the existence of more than 30,000 perpetually schismatic Protestant denominations, is it any wonder that the average Catholic does not understand the theological nuances that separate Mormonism from Methodism? And why should they? The Church is clear about which theologies qualify as Trinitarian for purposes of conferring valid baptism. Beyond that, there are 30,000 belief systems that diverge from the teaching of the Magisterium. The real issue is our relationship to the Church, and not which heresy a wayward Catholic may adopt. After all, the options are limited only by human imagination. Anytime a Catholic leaves the Church there exists a failure of catechism, conversion, or both. I find the better course for evangelists is to start in our own pews, teaching and modeling our faith rather than worrying about whether separated denominations qualify as minimally Christian.

    • jamadan

      Kate,

      Having lived on both sides of the Catholic/Protestant divide for several decades, I find your view of the Church as being outdated by about 1,000 years. After the Orthodox and Catholic split was sealed by mutual bulls of excommunication, the jeannie is out of the bottle. Both communions claim to be the One True Church with mutually valid (and similar) basis for their claims, yet they are both wrong in the way they interpret “Church”. Prior to the split, there was only One branch to the Church. Since the split, we simply have to acknowledge that there are more than one branch and yet our trunk and roots as defined by the early Creeds are the One Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Any other interpretation is just theologically non-sense that doesn’t recognize the spiritual reality.

      I have found genuine Christians indwelled by the Holy Spirit and inheritors of Christ’s Salvation in all of the various Christian streams: Catholic, Orthodox, Lutheran, Baptist, Presbyterian, Pentecostal, etc. That we differ on a great many theological interpretations and on the primary issue of authority isn’t surprising, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t part of the same family. I loved growing up with my parent’s family. We had loving relationships with our parents and as siblings living under the same roof. All seemed well with the world and we viewed our “family” as thse living in that home. But as we grew and formed mature, adult opinions, arguments and disagreements ensued as they alway do. And as each of us left the home to find our own path, our view of “family” naturally expanded, partcularly as we started our own families. Today, while my siblings and I don’t share the same roof, and we no longer call our parents our primary authority, we all recognize that we are family – even if sometimes family is best loved with a bit of distance between us to buffer from differences.

      God never wanted His Family (The Church) to separate, but man being man, we can’t help but to fall into our fleshly nature and allow differences to divide. When Paul confronted Peter over the heresy he was allowing, Peter was humble enough to allow this “outsider” to rebuke him and he repented. Unity was maintained through humility and love. When the Great Schism occurred, the shame of it is that instead of finding a way to work through the differences, each side decided to excommunicate the other and the dye was cast.

      All subsequent splits (Anglican, Lutheran, etc.) have conformed to that mold. Family splits that were so nasty (due to behavior on both sides if we’re to be honest about it), that animosity and mutual shunning have been the norm.

      With respect to “separated brethren”, let’s speak without Barret’s unusual hyperbole of “30,000 demoniations”. Don’t forget, in that same work, he counted 600 different Roman Catholic denominations, so lets acknowledge his assumptions are flawed and move on.

      So when you dismiss all of the few hundred branches of “separated brethren” as being less than true Christian, I challenge you to see it from God’s perspective. In borrowing from the Apostle Paul, we need to recognize that “they” (meaning our separated brethren) also have the Holy Spirit. And in whomever the Spirit dwells, there is The Church. It really is that simple.

      I have spent the past 27 years as a Spirit-Filled, Charismatic Christian. I have witnessed and participated in documented miracles of healing and various signs and wonders manifest through this branch of Christianity. By the power of the Holy Spirit, the same Spirit that indwells Catholics, these brethren demonstrate the works that Jesus spoke of as fruit of His Church. So I base my perspective on insights beyond mere theoligical arguments, which I find quite myopic and limiting. We find Christ’s Church where we find the fruit of the Spirit, not in an examination of a list of 1,000 doctrines adhered to.

      All of that said, there remains specific beliefs that are abhorrent to the Lord and patently disqualify those who would otherwise like to wear the label “Christian”. Those, like Mormons and Jehovah Witnesses, who deny the Nicene Creed is a place to start. We’d also have to include those who call “evil” “good” and “good” “evil” such as those apostates who have embraced homosexual sin as “good” or call abortion “acceptable”.

      While such distinctions are impacting an ever growing body of believers, including many within the Catholic Church, I find the remaining disagreements about the rules, Scriptural interpretations and authorities recognitized as being akin to familial arguments.

      If only we could start seeing each other as brethren and allow that differences over non-essentials are part of our human condition, perhaps we can move toward the fulfilment of Lord’s prayer for Unity.

      • http://www.schefter.org PrairieHawk

        I think we’re doing people a disservice if we don’t admit that the essential differences between the Catholic Church and other Christian confessions. The fact is that the Catholic Church simply has more to offer – the Eucharist; the Magisterium, an authoritative teaching office; the sacraments; a strong hierarchy of leadership. The Catholic Church simply has more of the means to become holy, and becoming holy – acquiring more life for ourselves – is what we’ve been put on Earth to do.

        We “dilute the brand” by asserting that Baptism, or the Holy Spirit, or some other single facet of the Christian life is all that you need. All of us need the whole package in order to become the best people we can be, which is why we all need to be apologists and evangelists for the Catholic faith.

  • Mary Kochan

    Kate, I appreciate your perspective, which is why I alluded to it in the article. I realize that the surrounding landscape of heresy is very confusing. But beyond that empathy, I have to say that the work involved in making these distinctions is worth it. It is worth it for our own intellectual understanding of our own faith and it is worth it for the people we are thus able to protect and assist.

    I worked in Evangelical counter-cult ministry after myself exiting the Jehovah’s Witness cult in which I had been raised. I continued to associate with people involved in that work while I was (to the dismay of some of them) becoming Catholic. I can tell you that I went toe to toe with some of the best Protestant apologists while I was becoming Catholic. We could be arguing very passionately about justification or baptism, but let a Mormon or JW enter the room and suddenly we were shoulder to shoulder because what united us was greater than what separated us and we knew it. Having that experience, I can assure you that what you said about their motivations (“cultural bias and ministerial self preservation”) simply does not do them justice.

    • Kate

      Mary, I certainly understand the heart and intent of an apologist who heeds a call to evangelize and argue the faith. It is the mission of the Church. However, my theological formation has led me to look for the elephant in the room—those uncatechized souls who are fleeing the Church in hoards or living in contravention to Christian moral teaching, unlike most Mormons I have met. My perspective is that of the New Evangelism of Pope JPII and of Lumen gentium wherein the Church recognizes the need to evangelize its own pews while leaving inter religious dialogue to the Church’s leadership. If there is need to discern heresies, it exists within the visible Church. There is always need to share the Good News with other populations. However, we must first remove the plank from our own collective eye. Thanks for the interesting discussion.

      • Mary Kochan

        If you are saying that we have to weed out all heresy within the Church and make every Catholic perfectly catechized and formed in charity before we evangelize — no. That is never going to happen. And your characterization of JPII is very off base. He of all popes did a great deal to call to the laity to take up defense of the faith. The only area where I would say that you are correct in leaving things to the hierarchy is with the Orthodox. I will not argue with an Orthodox believer. They have the Eucharist. They have valid bishops. They can be reconciled to the Church AS A GROUP. That is true of no other group I know of. They must be dealt with individually — as I may remind you, I was. Thank God.

        • RandDguy

          I love the Coptics. The only reason they were separated from Rome was because of an intercepted communication whereby the Church came to the understanding that the Coptics embraced the Nestorian heresy … which was never true. Theologically they are identical. I believe I read somewhere the ‘Pope’ Shenouda would have like to declare unity with Rome, but believed it would mean the slaughter of the Coptics.

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  • julie

    I live in Utah, so I am familiar with mormon beliefs. They are NOT CHRISTIAN, and they are hypocrits, all. These people will display the ten commandments in their front yards, and the first commandment is ” I am the Lord thy God, you shall have NO other God before me.” This literally means that putting ANYTHING at all before the ONE ALMIGHTY GOD, is a capital sin. And, oh my gosh, their habit of bringing God down to mans level, a horrible sinner, is blasphemy. These people are brainwashed, and refuse to see the light.

  • goral

    My daughter’s college roommate married a Mormon. It was a dry, boring wedding she told me. The Second Luminous Mystery neutralized, just like that.
    The bride’s parents were not allowed at the ceremony, in the inner sanctum as they were Catholics.
    So much for eternal family union.
    Did Julie say hypocrites?

    When I traveled to Salt Lake City, I stopped, after work, at the bar in the hotel to get a cold one.
    Not so fast, I was told, I needed to be a member of the “the club”. Really! I replied, how do I join the club?
    I was handed an application and told that it would be processed in a couple of days.
    I was leaving in a couple of days.
    No application, no beer and no conversion for this guy.
    I did visit the Temple.

    • Johnh

      The sealing at the temple takes place in what the LDS consider to be the Holiest of Holies of the temple, the Sanctum Sanctorum, and in the presence of the Lord. When Jewish high priests entered that area they were regularly struck dead if they were not living up to the required standard of worthiness. Members that are not living worthily are also denied the ability to attend.

  • worldweary

    Mitt Romney’s religion is between Him and God. He is a family man (Married to ONE Woman) and appears devoted to his children. His religion is not like the Catholic Church’s beliefs but their his and his family’s He does not practice cruelty towards women, nor does he practice cruelty towards his fellow man. What I questioned in my mind when the Reverend from Texas stood at the Podium, what would he have said if Mitt Romney was a Catholic?? We get Catholic bashing all the time…more so now with the way our Country is being divided

  • Tarheel

    Mormons….Christian or not? I really don’t feel educated enough to make that decision. But Mary’s article certainly makes you look at that belief system in an honest way.

    But I have seen first hand their evangelization and missionary success. We could learn something from them. And they do missionary work right here in the USA. I have grown accustomed to seeing young men on bicycles dressed in white shirts and ties riding around and talking to people about their faith. When was the last time you saw a 20 something young man that was Catholic doing the same.

    Outside of that I cannot really “cotton up” to what they believe and teach. Are they a cult? Hard to say but I have heard Catholics called a cult also. I have even heard us referred to as a pagan cult.

    But as far as Mitt Romney running for president…. I wonder if the more “radical” beliefs of his faith will come into play if he is elected.

  • noelfitz

    Mary,
    this is a brilliant article and a major study. Thanks.

    The numerous replies show how much it has touched people.

    However, even if one disagrees with Mormonism, it is possible to vote for a Mormon, so the subtext should not be to exclude Mitt Romney as a potential President.

    I am impressed with the thoughtful and balanced contributions. even though some of them tend to veer off the main discussion.

    Usually I am incline to agree with Theodore, but his assertion that the religion of the Samaritans was ‘weird’ is not one I agree with. They accepted the Torah/Pentateuch. But I would agree with him that we are not saved by works alone, that is Pelagianism.

    Fishman makes a very good point. Both Mormons and Muslims honor Jesus, and thus Mormons are as Christian as Muslims.

    The discussion shows the agreement between most Christians, and I also accept that at the present time Arianism (denying the divinity of Christ) still exists.

    Basically, I consider this article a major contribution to religious debate, and it and the replies show, in general, the balance, respect and integrity of contributors to CL.

  • Mary Kochan

    I have added a bunch of Mormon sources to the article.

    • Johnh

      Mormon Doctrine (the book) is not Mormon Doctrine. Journal of Discourses is also not any sort of a good source for Mormon Doctrine, it is actually probably the worst possible source. Doctrines of Salvation also has its issues but is slightly better then the other two. You should be aware that very few Mormons will accept those quotes as being authoritative.

      • Mary Kochan

        Start a new thread at the bottom, then. Provide an authoritative Mormon source on the nature of God and also an authoriative source that repudiates the doctrines in these cited sources.

  • worldweary

    On October 12th,I sent an entry about Mitt Romney and his being a Morman. In my comment,I was concerned about the Rev.Jeffrees,from Dallas and what he would have said if Gov.Romney was a Catholic. I got my answer on the Catholic League site this evening, if anyone is interested in reading it.

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  • Johnh

    “Provide an authoritative Mormon source on the nature of God and also an authoriative source that repudiates the doctrines in these cited sources. “

    Mormon Doctrine (the book) and the Journal of Discourses (and Doctrines of Salvation) all have racists things in them. The LDS Church recently made this statement:

    “For a time in the Church there was a restriction on the priesthood for male members of African descent.  It is not known precisely why, how, or when this restriction began in the Church but what is clear is that it ended decades ago. Some have attempted to explain the reason for this restriction but these attempts should be viewed as speculation and opinion, not doctrine. The Church is not bound by speculation or opinions given with limited understanding.

    We condemn racism, including any and all past racism by individuals both inside and outside the Church.”

    Therefore, those sources are not the most reliable.

    In particular in reference to the journal of discourses and Mary, Brigham Young gave his explanation of Mary in relation to the Adam-God Doctrine, which was opposed by the Twelve at that time (and therefore contrary to the pattern of revelation as given the D&C), and which was later officially repudiated with such statements as:

    “Pres. Young no doubt expressed his personal opinion or views upon the subject. What he said was not given as a revelation or commandment from the Lord. The Doctrine was never submitted to the Councils of the Priesthood not to the Church for approval or ratification and was never formally or otherwise accepted by the Church. It is therefore in no sense binding upon the Church nor upon the consciences of any of the members thereof “ -Joseph F. Smith

    and

    “”We denounce [the Adam–God] theory and hope that everyone will be cautioned against this and other kinds of false doctrine.”“- President Kimball

    Groups such as the FLDS and other similar polygamist sects do believe in the Adam-God doctrine and its related topics but extremely few practicing latter-day saints do (and many have never even heard of it). The idea that God slept with Mary to make Jesus is of a similar standing, as well as the idea of reincarnation or anything similar (actually those have been called the doctrines of the Devil). Many members of the church seem to place our prophets in an elevated position above mortal men, but as seen by Jonah, Samson, Moses, and others prophets are just as human as the rest of us and when not speaking according to revelation they are likewise just as prone to error and false doctrines.

    Hopefully this is enough of a repudiation from authoritative sources, let me know otherwise.

    The Book of Mormon repudiates the idea that we can be saved in our sins, we are only saved from our sins. This means that one must repent to be saved.

    Gospel Principles is the book that is used to teach new members the principles of the gospel, it is not scripture but is officially published by the church. Other then me just quoting the Bible (and then entering into an endless debate over what they mean and the validity of scripture as part of Sacred Tradition and the use of scripture) the best thing is me just quoting Gospel Principles: http://www.lds.org/manual/gospel-principles?lang=eng (By the way it is different enough from Greek Metaphysics that you should be quite able to reformulate your argument with the actual LDS position just fine)

    “Because we are made in His image (see Moses 2:26; 6:9), we know that our bodies are like His body. His eternal spirit is housed in a tangible body of flesh and bones (see D&C 130:22). God’s body, however, is perfected and glorified, with a glory beyond all description.
    [...]
    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 [1998], 335).
    Every person who was ever born on earth is our spirit brother or sister. Because we are the spirit children of God, we have inherited the potential to develop His divine qualities. Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we can become like our Heavenly Father and receive a fulness of joy.
    We were not all alike in heaven. We know, for example, that we were sons and daughters of heavenly parents—males and females (see “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” Ensign, Nov. 1995, 102). We possessed different talents and abilities, and we were called to do different things on earth. We can learn more about our “eternal possibilities” when we receive our patriarchal blessings (see Thomas S. Monson, in Conference Report, Oct. 1986, 82; or Ensign, Nov. 1986, 66).
    A veil covers our memories of our premortal life, but our Father in Heaven knows who we are and what we did before we came here. He has chosen the time and place for each of us to be born so we can learn the lessons we personally need and do the most good with our individual talents and personalities.
    Our Heavenly Father knew we could not progress beyond a certain point unless we left Him for a time. He wanted us to develop the godlike qualities that He has. To do this, we needed to leave our premortal home to be tested and to gain experience. Our spirits needed to be clothed with physical bodies. We would need to leave our physical bodies at death and reunite with them in the Resurrection. Then we would receive immortal bodies like that of our Heavenly Father. If we passed our tests, we would receive the fulness of joy that our Heavenly Father has received. (See D&C 93:30–34.)
    Our Heavenly Father called a Grand Council to present His plan for our progression (see Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, 209, 511). We learned that if we followed His plan, we would become like Him. We would be resurrected; we would have all power in heaven and on earth; we would become heavenly parents and have spirit children just as He does (see D&C 132:19–20).
    We learned that He would provide an earth for us where we would prove ourselves (see Abraham 3:24–26). A veil would cover our memories, and we would forget our heavenly home. This would be necessary so we could exercise our agency to choose good or evil without being influenced by the memory of living with our Heavenly Father. Thus we could obey Him because of our faith in Him, not because of our knowledge or memory of Him. He would help us recognize the truth when we heard it again on earth (see John 18:37).
    At the Grand Council we also learned the purpose for our progression: to have a fulness of joy. However, we also learned that some would be deceived, choose other paths, and lose their way. We learned that all of us would have trials in our lives: sickness, disappointment, pain, sorrow, and death. But we understood that these would be given to us for our experience and our good (see D&C 122:7). If we allowed them to, these trials would purify us rather than defeat us. They would teach us to have endurance, patience, and charity (see Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball [2006], 15–16).
    At this council we also learned that because of our weakness, all of us except little children would sin (see D&C 29:46–47). We learned that a Savior would be provided for us so we could overcome our sins and overcome death with resurrection. We learned that if we placed our faith in Him, obeying His word and following His example, we would be exalted and become like our Heavenly Father. We would receive a fulness of joy.
    When the plan for our salvation was presented to us in the premortal spirit world, we were so happy that we shouted for joy (see Job 38:7).
    We understood that we would have to leave our heavenly home for a time. We would not live in the presence of our Heavenly Father. While we were away from Him, all of us would sin and some of us would lose our way. Our Heavenly Father knew and loved each one of us. He knew we would need help, so He planned a way to help us.
    We needed a Savior to pay for our sins and teach us how to return to our Heavenly Father. Our Father said, “Whom shall I send?” (Abraham 3:27). Jesus Christ, who was called Jehovah, said, “Here am I, send me” (Abraham 3:27; see also Moses 4:1–4).
    Jesus was willing to come to the earth, give His life for us, and take upon Himself our sins. He, like our Heavenly Father, wanted us to choose whether we would obey Heavenly Father’s commandments. He knew we must be free to choose in order to prove ourselves worthy of exaltation. Jesus said, “Father, thy will be done, and the glory be thine forever” (Moses 4:2).
    Satan, who was called Lucifer, also came, saying, “Behold, here am I, send me, I will be thy son, and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor” (Moses 4:1). Satan wanted to force us all to do his will. Under his plan, we would not be allowed to choose. He would take away the freedom of choice that our Father had given us. Satan wanted to have all the honor for our salvation. Under his proposal, our purpose in coming to earth would have been frustrated (see Teachings of Presidents of the Church: David O. McKay [2003], 207).
    After hearing both sons speak, Heavenly Father said, “I will send the first” (Abraham 3:27).
    Jesus Christ was chosen and foreordained to be our Savior. Many scriptures tell about this (see, for example, 1 Peter 1:19–20; Moses 4:1–2). One scripture tells us that long before Jesus was born, He appeared to a Book of Mormon prophet known as the brother of Jared and said: “Behold, I am he who was prepared from the foundation of the world to redeem my people. Behold, I am Jesus Christ. … In me shall all mankind have life, and that eternally, even they who shall believe on my name” (Ether 3:14).
    When Jesus lived on earth, He taught: “I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. … And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:38, 40).
    Because our Heavenly Father chose Jesus Christ to be our Savior, Satan became angry and rebelled. There was war in heaven. Satan and his followers fought against Jesus Christ and His followers. The Savior’s followers “overcame [Satan] by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony” (Revelation 12:11).
    In this great rebellion, Satan and all the spirits who followed him were sent away from the presence of God and cast down from heaven. A third part of the hosts of heaven were punished for following Satan (see D&C 29:36). They were denied the right to receive mortal bodies.
    Because we are here on earth and have mortal bodies, we know that we chose to follow Jesus Christ and our Heavenly Father. Satan and his followers are also on the earth, but as spirits. They have not forgotten who we are, and they are around us daily, tempting us and enticing us to do things that are not pleasing to our Heavenly Father. In our premortal life, we chose to follow Jesus Christ and accept God’s plan. We must continue to follow Jesus Christ here on earth. Only by following Him can we return to our heavenly home.
    […]

    Jesus Christ created this world and everything in it. He also created many other worlds. He did so through the power of the priesthood, under the direction of our Heavenly Father. God the Father said, “Worlds without number have I created; … and by the Son I created them, which is mine Only Begotten” (Moses 1:33). We have other testimonies of this truth. Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon saw Jesus Christ in a vision. They testified “that by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God” (D&C 76:24).

    When we lived with our Heavenly Father, He explained a plan for our progression. We could become like Him, an exalted being. The plan required that we be separated from Him and come to earth. This separation was necessary to prove whether we would obey our Father’s commandments even though we were no longer in His presence. The plan provided that when earth life ended, we would be judged and rewarded according to the degree of our faith and obedience.
    From the scriptures we learn that there are three kingdoms of glory in heaven. The Apostle Paul mentioned that he knew a man who was “caught up to the third heaven” (2 Corinthians 12:2). Paul named two of the kingdoms in heaven: the celestial and the terrestrial (see 1 Corinthians 15:40–42). The celestial is the highest, and the terrestrial is second. Through latter-day revelation we learn that the third kingdom is the telestial kingdom (see D&C 76:81). We also learn that there are three heavens or degrees within the celestial kingdom (see D&C 131:1).

    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. Exaltation is the greatest gift that Heavenly Father can give His children (see D&C 14:7).
    Our Heavenly Father is perfect, and He glories in the fact that it is possible for His children to become like Him. His work and glory is “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39).
    Those who receive exaltation in the celestial kingdom through faith in Jesus Christ will receive special blessings. The Lord has promised, “All things are theirs” (D&C 76:59). These are some of the blessings given to exalted people:
    1. 1.
    They will live eternally in the presence of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ (see D&C 76:62).
    2. 2.
    They will become gods (see D&C 132:20–23).
    3. 3.
    They will be united eternally with their righteous family members and will be able to have eternal increase.
    4. 4.
    They will receive a fulness of joy.
    5. 5.
    They will have everything that our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ have—all power, glory, dominion, and knowledge (see D&C 132:19–20). President Joseph Fielding Smith wrote: “The Father has promised through the Son that all that he has shall be given to those who are obedient to His commandments. They shall increase in knowledge, wisdom, and power, going from grace to grace, until the fulness of the perfect day shall burst upon them”

    • Mary Kochan

      Your sources did not repudiate the doctrine of God. Repudiating the racist parts does not repudiate the doctrine of God.

      However, I am willing to deal with any Mormon source you consider authoratative.

      Nevertheless, even after the above dissertation, you have not answered the question regarding the Mormon doctrine of God (theology proper). Instead you have provided an outline of the Mormon plan of salvation and the doctrine of man. I would like you to concentrate on the doctrine of God which you claim I misrepresented even though you indicate above that you do not consider Jesus to be consubstantial with the Father, and that you consider him to be a Spirit brother of Satan (Lucifer) as I said.

      But in a previous comment you said that “Jesus is an infinite deity in the LDS view.”

      So let’s start with a definition of infinite.

      • Johnh

        “God the Father sent down one of his spirit wives from heaven to be born as a woman, Mary. Then he came down and had physical, marital relations with her in order for her to give birth to a human body inhabited by Jesus coming from heaven. This is a denial of the Virgin Birth”

        This was the primary thing I was pointing out as being wrong and what I presented did cover this, it is related to the Adam-God doctrine as I said. If you wish me to walk through the Book of Mormon and Bible and show that Brigham Young was wrong when he taught this then I guess I could.

        “God the Father and be ruling over his own planet”

        This is the other point that I said was wrong, we will be similar to God the Father, not the same, and ruling over his own planet is speculation. Also covered, and covered further below.

        “Mormon women married to non-Mormons (“Gentiles”) can arrange for a “temple sealing” (marriage by proxy) to a Mormon male after their death. This is to assure that in eternity they are considered to have been married to and produced their children from a Mormon husband so that they and their children can be exalted.”

        This is also based on a past practice that is not doctrinal, they are sealed to their non-Mormon husband after death and after the non-Mormon husband has been baptized for the dead and etc.

        Also, we do believe the Bible to be the Word of God.

        I suppose you are not looking for the definition of infinite as having the property of having a one to one or greater correspondence to the natural numbers but instead in what ways Jesus is infinite.
        Jesus has existed from all eternity and will exist to all eternity (so has everyone else), however Jesus is also God from all eternity to all eternity, which we are not. Jesus is the creator of the earth and everything in it, though the word create has a different meaning then in your theology, and has all power to do all that is possible to do and that he wills to do. Jesus has a perfect knowledge of all things (again something different from what we will have even in an exalted state). He is in all and through all things, the light of truth and his power fills the immensity of space (D&C 88). He is also able to be in any place he so desires. I think that covers it fairly well.

        For consubstantiation, it totally depends on what you mean by that phrase. The Greek Metaphysical idea which is then forced into physics then you are correct that I don’t believe in it. Of being made out of the same substance then yes, but so are we all. Of having the same attributes, goals, and desires then again yes, as well as with the Holy Spirit.

        If you are looking for anything like Metaphysics in relation to the LDS then you should read D&C 88, 93, 131, 130:22. As it relates to differences between our beliefs then D&C 130:22 and D&C 131:7-8 highlight things the best.

        I completely agree that our theology is very different from the marriage of Greek Metaphysics and Scripture that has been called Christianity since the end of Arianism after the Nicene Creed. While Mormonism is not Arianism (that would be the Jehovah’s Witness, as I am sure you are aware), we do have elements of almost all pre-Nicene heresies, while being none of them (Although a form of Montanism could certainly be considered our principle heresy), all of which were considered to be Christian in nature. If you want a Biblical defense of the LDS position of God then I can provide it, as Joseph Smith said in the King Follet discourse it is completely based off of the Bible. If you want an early Church Fathers defense of the LDS position on God then I can do that too.

        • Mary Kochan

          Johnh, please notice that I said I wanted something. You ignored what I said I wanted, launched into something else and then proceeded to ask me if I wanted this, that, or the other thing….

          What I want is very simple. I am going off of your own statement, to wit: “Jesus is an infinite deity in the LDS view.”

          So let’s start with a definition of “infinite”. What I want is for you to give me a definition of “infinite” — please leave all the other stuff aside at the moment and just define that one term. Thank you.

          • Johnh

            Am I a dictionary that you need me to give you such a definition?

            Here is what one free dictionary website has as the definition:

            Infinite
            1.
            immeasurably great
            2.
            indefinitely or exceedingly great
            3.
            unlimited or unmeasurable in extent of space, duration of time, etc.
            4.
            unbounded or unlimited; boundless; endless
            5.
            Mathematics .
            a.
            not finite.
            b.
            (of a set) having elements that can be put into one-to-one correspondence with a subset that is not the given set.

          • Mary Kochan

            Johnh, asking someone to define a term is not asking him or her to be a dictionary. It is the way that clarity is attained in dialogue or discourse.

            God is infinite. In order to understand that statement, one must have some idea of what infinite means. Words have meaning.

            Now what infinite means in the case of God when I say God is infinite, is like definition 4. “unlimited”. God is without limitations. Do we agree that God is without limitations?

            Let me go one step further with this and say that being without limitations, “infinite”, is an attribute of God such that unless a being is infinite, that being could not be God. Technically we say “sine qua non” meaning “without which not” so that if you were to posit a being not infinite, you could not claim that this being is God.

            Do you agree with this?

          • Johnh

            Mary,

            Asking for definitions is a way of leading the conversation while ignoring what the other person is saying, unless there really is a term which is not understood.

            Logically, God must have some things which may be termed limitations. Making an unstoppable cannon ball and an unbreakable wall creates a logical impossibility, therefore God can not make such things. Making an unmovable object and then asking him to move it likewise is impossible.

            Furthermore, God has properties and attributes that were He to not have then He would not be God; were He to lie then He would cease to be God, for example.

            Unlimited then means in the sense of doing all that is possible to do, no other being is able to impede Him from accomplishing that which He wills to do.

          • Mary Kochan

            No, Johnh, you are mistaken. Asking for definitions is sop. For example during the multi year Lutheran/Catholic dialogues that resulted in the joint declaration on justification, literally years were spent just on clarifying definitions.

            I like that you said: “God has properties and attributes that were He to not have then He would not be God; were He to lie then He would cease to be God, for example.”

            So then it is not a limitation on God that he does not and can not cease to be God. This why we can say that God does not have any limitations and the examples you cited are not limitations because the unbreakable wall and unstoppable cannon ball are not existent things. Neither is it a limitation on God that he cannot make a square circle or a four-sided triangle. These things simply do not exist by their very definition and they do not exist because of the very logic with which God Himself has imbued the universe of created things.

            We agree then that God is infinite (i.e. without limitation) in a certain definable way — which we are beginning to define. That is getting somewhere.

            Let’s talk about the ways God is infinite.

            Do we agree that God is eternal (that would be infinite with regard to time)? How do you understand this attribute of God?

          • Johnh

            You realize that you are just walking through the response I already gave to this? I actually did respond to what you are/were actually asking:

            “Jesus has existed from all eternity and will exist to all eternity (so has everyone else), however Jesus is also God from all eternity to all eternity, which we are not. Jesus is the creator of the earth and everything in it, though the word create has a different meaning then in your theology, and has all power to do all that is possible to do and that he wills to do. Jesus has a perfect knowledge of all things (again something different from what we will have even in an exalted state). He is in all and through all things, the light of truth and his power fills the immensity of space (D&C 88). He is also able to be in any place he so desires.”

            However, if you say this your sop then I can work this way.

            God has existed, as God, from all eternity to all eternity. In the case of Jesus, He was God before He was born, was God with us, and continues to be God, as the Risen Lord. Although, I should also note that “All things, past, present, and future, are continually before the Lord” and talk of promises made before time began both imply that our experience of time is not the same way that God experiences time in the eternities.

        • cdowis

          Just curious, why are you distorting LDS doctrines? You are speaking like someone who claims that Catholics worship Mary.

          Your statements about LDS doctrines are false and provocative.

    • Jeff

      Interesting concept to repudiate the writings published by “prophets” of the church and church doctrines (e.g. “racism” & plural marriage) when they become inconvenient. By objective reasoning based on historical records the church abandoned polygamy to gain statehood for the territory of Utah. Notwithstanding that polygamy by its nature violates the duties and obligations of the marital bond established by God.

      It seems as though you inexplicably prove Mary’s point in the difficulty in having discussions with Mormons on these types of topics by simply denying the reliability of historical church writings by the “prophets” and “apostles” to argue she is incorrect in your beliefs.

      Mind you the more central flaw with Mormonism is the weakness and inability of Jesus to establish his church “upon Peter” and have it withstand Satan, so that it needed to be restored by a kid in New York some 1800 years later (the great apostasy). Not mentioning that in Acts we are told that to be an apostle one must have been with Jesus when he preached, thus foreshadowing that the Apostles were intended to not continue in perpetuity. The real problem hear is one of definition. The Greek translation meant more one who goes out and preaches, but Mormons take it literally to mean that you must have 12 Apostles, ignoring one the central requirements for being an Apostle, as established in Acts, that you had to have walked with Jesus when he preached. No doubt D&C or the Book of Mormon have created a work around and/or you simply believe the bible is translated incorrectly here.

      • JohnH2

        “Notwithstanding that polygamy by its nature violates the duties and obligations of the marital bond established by God.”

        Which is why Abraham the father of the faithful and Jacob called Israel were polygamist, because they violated the duties established by God. I am sure God put in polygamy into the Law of Moses as well (which note that Jacob and Abraham weren’t under) because it violates the obligations of the marital bond established by God. When you are able to make an argument that doesn’t involve God contradicting Himself under your own scriptures and tradition, let me know.

  • Mary Kochan

    Johnh, I am bumping this out because it is getting too narrow, but this continues the thread about eternity.

    Please explain what you mean by “from all eternity to all eternity” — that phrase makes no sense to me.

    Also please tell me what the expression “eternities” means. I am not familar with eternity as a plural concept.

    Thank you.

    • Johnh

      “from all eternity to all eternity”

      See Psalm 90:2, Psalm 103:17, Proverbs 8:23, and some translations of Isaiah 43:13. Same as Everlasting to Everlasting.

      “eternities”
      per the dictionary again:

      1. Infinite or unending time.
      2. A state to which time has no application; timelessness.

    • cdowis

      Simple enough.

      “Eternity” is a formal name, also an inherent attribute.

      Thus, eternities is the plural of that name. God and Christ are both “Eternity”.

      “From eternity to eternity” means no beginning, no end.

  • cdowis

    May I give an additional suggestion to your readers:
    find out what Mormons actually believe from the church sources. I am puzzled by some of your sources, since they do not teach what you say they do.

    Your article contains both facts and misconceptions, and, as a Catholic, I am sure you know how that works. Some of your comments about our beliefs sound to me are similar to claiming that Catholics worship Mary and icons. Other comments are speculative and not actual doctrines, similar to whether there are humans living on other planets and do they also have a Bible or some other book, etc, etc. If a Cardinal expresses his opinion, that does not make it doctrine.

    You have obviously done alot of research and are honestly trying to do your best, but I suggest that you check out the LDS site (lds org) where our doctrines are described.

    Your article is very positive and fair, but it has some important imperfections.

    • Jeff

      Your post begs the question. Do her sources not say what she says they say or does she need to consult “approved” lds sources to find out what the church believes because those are not good sources. For clarification, I read your post to say that she needs to talk to lds members to find out what they believe and additionally she misquoted or misinterpreted the sources she cited.

      John seems to suggest that her sources, although from “prophets” and “apostles” of the church are not accurate for various reasons (e.g. Have been disavowed by the church).

      As a side point, the article was written to point out the difficulties in talking to members of the lds church, because of the very nature of Mormons, in part, to disavow prior teaching of the “prophets” and “apostles” of the church. Not to mention how certain terms are defined by Mormons.

      See my previous post discussing the Great Apostasy as one of the greatest flaws in the Mormon belief system .

  • Rod

    When was the mormon faith recognized by the US? I believe 1850 was the year Utah was allowed into the US but not officially recognized as a faith.

    • Muzzledoyster

      UT became a state in 1896. And a faith does not have to be recognized.

  • skipper12345

    Mormonism and Islam sure have a lot of Similarities than I realized.