Essays on Unique Mormon Beliefs

ARE MORMONS CHRISTIAN? – November 20, 2013

This essay admits that Mormonism rejects the foundational creeds that have historically defined the “Christian” faith. As such, a Mormon claiming to be a “Christian” while rejecting the foundational beliefs that make Christians who they are, is no different than a Christian claiming to be “Mormon” while rejecting the Book of Mormon and the teachings of Joseph Smith that are foundational to Mormonism.

If we allow the Mormon Church to redefine Christianity to whatever new set of beliefs they decide to accept while rejecting the historic teachings of the Christian church, that word can be applied to nearly all religions because at least most religions of today claim some sort of “belief in Jesus,” that he was a “good teacher,” or a “prophet” of God.  Obviously, there is more to being a Christian than merely claiming belief in Jesus Christ.

BECOMING LIKE GOD – February 24, 2014

This essay discusses a foundational teaching of Mormonism that separates it from all other churches that claim to be Christian. It is the doctrine of “eternal progression” as explained by the LDS Church in this essay,

“Latter-day Saints see all people as children of God in a full and complete sense; they consider every person divine in origin, nature, and potential.  …Lorenzo Snow, the Church’s fifth President, coined a well-known couplet: ‘As man now is, God once was: As God now is, man may be.’ …When asked about the belief in humans’ divine potential, President Hinckley responded, ‘Well, as God is, man may become. We believe in eternal progression. Very strongly.’ Eliza R. Snow, a Church leader and poet, rejoiced over the doctrine that we are, in a full and absolute sense, children of God. …As Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles wrote, ‘Our theology begins with heavenly parents. Our highest aspiration is to be like them.’ …Divine nature and exaltation are essential and beloved teachings in the Church. … Latter-day Saints’ doctrine of exaltation is often similarly reduced in media to a cartoonish image of people receiving their own planets. …while few Latter-day Saints would identify with caricatures of having their own planet, most would agree that the awe inspired by creation hints at our creative potential in the eternities.”

Although this essay hints at the Mormon belief in ruling over planets like our earth when men become, “As God now is,” it is not as explicit in stating this as other Mormon leaders have been in the past.[1]  However, throughout this essay, the Mormon Church endeavors to provide support for this doctrine by quoting biblical Scripture. Yet, they acknowledge,

“The teaching that men and women have the potential to be exalted to a state of godliness clearly expands beyond what is understood by most contemporary Christian churches… .  These passages can be interpreted in different ways. Yet by viewing them through the clarifying lens of revelations received by Joseph Smith, Latter-day Saints see these scriptures as straightforward expressions of humanity’s divine nature and potential. Many other Christians read the same passages far more metaphorically because they experience the Bible through the lens of doctrinal interpretations that developed over time after the period described in the New Testament.”

In other words, the Mormon Church admits that its interpretations of these verses are not accepted by traditional Christianity and that one has to view these verses through the revelations of Joseph Smith in order to derive at such a distorted perspective of these verses.  Later in this book, we address the specific verses that the Mormon Church quotes in this essay, and we provide strong biblical evidence contending that the LDS Church’s teachings on premortal life and men exalting to godhood are unbiblical.

As far as the LDS Church’s quotations of early church fathers, again they admit,

What exactly the early church fathers meant when they spoke of becoming God is open to interpretation, but it is clear that references to deification became more contested in the late Roman period and were infrequent by the medieval era.”

Thus, most Christians today would disagree with the Mormon Church’s interpretations of the writings of the early church fathers’ statements on godhood, and we would contend that if the Mormon belief in men becoming gods was taught by the first and second century Christians, why is this belief completely absent from all creedal confessions of the early Christian Church?  Again, historic Christianity clearly does not support the LDS belief in the “eternal progression” (i.e., godhood) of mankind.

MOTHER IN HEAVEN – October 23, 2015

This essay states, “The doctrine of a Heavenly Mother is a cherished and distinctive belief among Latter-day Saints.”  Yet, this essay acknowledges that there is not a single verse of Scripture or a revelation received by Joseph Smith that teaches this doctrine. They admit,

“While there is no record of a formal revelation to Joseph Smith on this doctrine, some early Latter-day Saint women recalled that he personally taught them about a Mother in Heaven. The earliest published references to the doctrine appeared shortly after Joseph Smith’s death in 1844, in documents written by his close associates.  The most notable expression of the idea is found in a poem by Eliza R. Snow, entitled ‘My Father in Heaven’ and now known as the hymn ‘O My Father.’ ”

So, here we see that this foundational teaching within Mormonism is based only on a poem written by Eliza R. Snow.  Yet, this teaching lies at the heart of the Mormon belief in a preexistence, which teaches that we were born spiritually to a Heavenly Father and a Heavenly Mother in a premortal world before coming to earth. It proclaims that we are here on earth to perfect ourselves in order to return to heaven with our spouses and perpetuate the family unit throughout eternity.  So this fundamental belief in a Heavenly Mother lies at the core of the unique belief system of the Mormon Church.  This is why the essay concludes with this statement, “Our theology begins with heavenly parents. Our highest aspiration is to be like them.”

[1] See Spencer W. Kimball, “The Privilege of Holding the Priesthood,” Ensign, Conference Edition, November 1975, p. 80.

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