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July 5, 2010

9

Mormonism: An Idol of our Time

by Dave Malnes

The forgiveness of sins is the hallmark of the Christian believer.  Resting on Christ’s completed work on the cross, a righteous soul grasps hold of free and full forgiveness of sins by faith in God’s promises that it is so.  “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved!” is the cry that rings in the jailer’s ears after he desperately asks, “What must I do to be saved?”  The answer of faith still remains true today.  A forgiven saint perfected in Christ is declared not guilty.  The comfort and assurance associated with this new status of being a child of God is what distinguishes a believer from a non-believer.

Standing at the doorframe of this truth is a dangerous false answer where the focus is on the “do” rather than the “done” of salvation.  Cloaked brilliantly under the guise of Christianity, the gospel of Mormonism proclaims a restored truth, a literal third testament that denies the truth found in God’s Word.  With an attempt to satisfy the inner human longings of cooperating with God — that somehow we can attain salvation on our own and be declared worthy based on our own merits – the LDS church is gaining a foothold in our modern world.   This is really nothing new.  The innate desire to find purpose and meaning through human effort — to cast idols apart from the one true God — has been a part of our world from the very beginning.  In essence, Mormonism is an idol of our time.  The triumph of human effort supersedes the victory achieved by Christ, thereby robbing people of the joy of forgiveness found only in the promises of God’s Word.  The danger of a false gospel not only robs souls of comfort and assurance associated with faith, but leads down a path toward eternal destruction.  The greatest example of this can be found in the LDS teaching of repentance.

In the “restored truth” proclaimed by the prophet Joseph Smith a central tenet of the LDS church is that full forgiveness is possible and attainable.  Through a process known as repentance, a Latter Day Saint can be declared righteous.  To understand this concept fully, we need to comprehend how Mormons understand forgiveness.  Sin is not a matter of being separated from God, but separating ourselves from receiving blessings from the Lord.  Forgiveness then becomes a by-product of a sincere and noble attempt to carry out God’s command in order to receive eternal and earthly blessings associated with forgiveness.  A Mormon version of forgiveness is not something we receive from God by faith, but something we strive to attain through the process of repentance.

The process of repentance becomes the focal point of a faithful Mormon.  It is their key to removing guilt and receiving happiness in this life and throughout eternity.  Jesus Christ is acknowledged as the one who has suffered the penalty of sin on our behalf that makes forgiveness possible.  But only if you sincerely repent.  This process of repentance that leads to forgiveness includes the following: 1) A faith in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ to help us heal and triumph over sin; 2) a sorrow over sin that leads to a sincere desire to change and willingness to submit to every requirement for forgiveness; 3) a full confession of sin before God and publicly before officials of the church if necessary; 4) a permanent resolve to never repeat the sin again; 5) restitution if needed; and 6) engage in righteous living that brings spiritual power such as attending meetings, paying tithes, serving the church and forgiving others.*  Forgiveness was bought by Jesus at a price, but it’s certainly not free for us.  And that price for us is obedience to the commandments of the LDS church.

The key to heaven is a man-made one for a Mormon forged by years, decades, even centuries of unyielding obedience.  Mormonism is idol worship in its severest form, for it looks to exalt ourselves instead of God Almighty.

Mormons are lost and they need the true Jesus as their Savior or else they will suffer the consequences of an eternal hell.

I regularly receive opportunities to share the real message of Jesus Christ with Mormons through the internet.  Recently, I recently received an e-mail from a woman who has been corresponding with a Mormon man.  She has been revealing to him the truth of God’s Word by focusing on the hope and assurance Christians receive by trusting in the completed and redemptive work of Jesus Christ.  Our forgiveness is guaranteed through trust in Jesus’ work and none on ourselves.   Allow me to share some of his responses that are typical of many e-mails received from Mormons.

“I feel no despair in the doctrine of repentance… The problem is that in your way I see no true cleansing for myself.  All I see is a shadow of a cleansing.  You talk of Christ having paid for sins and cleansed us.  But all I have ever heard from anybody in the Christian world is that we don’t need to be personally cleansed because God is only going to look at Christ and see his cleanliness and based on this let us in.  This gives me no hope.  It is a hallow offer.” (Michael^)

Like a dark veil covering the hearts and minds of loyal Mormons, the mystery of God’s true love and grace is hidden away in the seduction of a man-made gospel.  When the idol of pursuing eternal progression is the focal point of worship, how can one fathom the eternal significance of Christ’s redemptive death on the cross?  To further show how lost people are in Mormonism here is another recent response from Michael:

“The doctrine of Repentance gives me hope that when I stand at that judgment bar God will not have to look at Christ to see cleanliness.  I will be able to stand tall as he looks directly at me and proclaims, ‘Well done,’ for I will be clean.  I still need Christ and I will always need him.  For I cannot be cleansed by myself.  But my hope is not simply that I will enter heaven, but that I will be clean when I do so.”

All Mormons believe they are going to heaven.  There is no sense of urgency or consequences of eternal damnation for those who at least try to live righteously.  The effort involved in obeying God’s commandments is the key to eternal and earthly happiness for which God will say “Well done!”.   The popular verse from the Book of Mormon states “it is by grace that we are saved after all we can do.”  The hope is that they will eventually be worthy enough to reach the highest level of heaven which is the celestial kingdom or exaltation (becoming a god).  In the meantime, it is not whether or not you achieve perfection in this life, but on how valiant you are in the attempt.  Here is another response from Michael that reflects this common thought:

“You do not know when you have done all you can, and so must keep doing more.  You must keep progressing.  …I am talking about the people who hold in their hearts that if they keep pushing forward, regardless of how difficult it is, they will make it eventually.  When I say an honest effort, I mean those who are honest with themselves, admitting that they don’t know how far they can go, and so they will continue to move until they die.  These are they who have repented.  These are the people who have done all they can to stand against sin.  They are saved by the grace of God, for they have done all they can do.”

With a greater understanding of how Mormons view forgiveness, the role of Christ, sin and salvation, we can see how vast the differences are between the teachings of the LDS church and biblical Christianity.  There is no doubt that those who adhere to the teachings of Mormonism will spend eternity in a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth.

It is my desire to bring as many Mormons as possible to heaven, but there is more.  I am growing increasingly alarmed about how the LDS Church is attempting to present itself in the media as being a Christian church.  There are over 50,000 Mormon missionaries around the world who are actively presenting a “new and improved” brand of Christianity that seduces the human mind to think we can exalt ourselves through sincere obedience.  If there is a time to speak the truth of God’s Word and defend it as the only truth that sets one free… that time is now.

Continue to pray that hearts of those souls lost in Mormonism can be opened to the real message of Jesus.  Pray that the Lord may continue to open doors for our ministry to speak the truth of free and full forgiveness in Christ to Mormons.

Cover story for Truth in Love Ministry newsletter, Summer 2010 edition.

*True to the Faith: A Gospel Reference, published by the LDS Church, 2004.

^Fictional name.

9 Comments Post a comment
  1. JL Fuller
    Jul 5 2010

    First. Mormons are not Trinitarians, that means we believe Christ, God the Father and The Holy Ghost are separate beings just as the bible says they are. That puts us at odds with traditional Christian views. So be it. But to suggest Mormons do not believe in the bible is just wrong. We believe in it so far as it has been translated correctly. However we accept that some Traditional Christians will never accept us as true Christians just as the Jews rejected Christ and the Apostles. It goes with the territory. My big squawk with most pastors however is that we have explained ad nauseam what our beliefs are but yet they refuse to drop all the distortions and misinformation. It is genuine bearing of false witness. We accept that others disagree and we do not take offense. But the misrepresentations we read about, more often than not, are deliberate. Interested people should go to the source for understanding of what we believe, not our detractors.

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    • merganzerman
      Jul 5 2010

      Thanks you for your contributions to the post. Your first mentioned that you believe in the Bible, as so far as it is translated correctly. That is a common LDS rebuttal. As long as a Bible verse is used (or perhaps judged by others a mis-translated or taken out of context), than the Bible is okay. This goes against Historical Christianity which allows the Bible to interpret the Bible. Also, LDS regularly share that Christians distort LDS doctrine or supply misinformation. It is true there are some Christians who take a look at LDS history or previous LDS doctrine and/or practices that are either myths (not practiced by LDS church) or outdated. I apologize when these are not shared out of love and respect. However, there are a number of Christians who do accurately use quotes from the LDS church and are still labeled as being distorted. Thanks.

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  2. JL Fuller
    Jul 5 2010

    Next, all Mormons do NOT believe we are going to heaven. Our theology tells us that Christ’s sacrifice made resurrection sure for all. It is totally free for everyone and there is nothing we could have done to earn it. But, in order to live with God the Father and Christ eternally is different. That is called exaltation. which is quite different. Exaltation means becoming a co-inheritor of Christ’s full inheritance, something that requires effort and additional ordinances on our behalf. Agree or disagree as you will. But there is a difference worth knowing if for no other reason than not being accountable for bearing false witness.

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  3. JL Fuller
    Jul 5 2010

    One caveat – most pastors get into trouble trying to explain Mormonism because they do not understand the difference between personal opinion and official church doctrine. There is only one source for understanding what current Church doctrine is and that is the current, living, First Presidency. The pastor who quotes from the Journal of Discourses or personal diaries or the like and claims the quotes are doctrine is sadly wrong. Fundamental to LDS doctrine is that God communicates constantly to his only Prophet on the earth and his Apostles. He makes adjustments as needed. You might say He fine tunes things, to put things in common parlance. Here again, whether you agree or disagree, that is the basic and fundamental doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. So when you read something from Brigham Young or others they may have been expressing a personal opinion. sometimes, well-meaning people misquoted advice and thought it was doctrine when it was not. The point is, anyone and everyone who wishes to know what doctrine is should ask someone currently in authority who has been tasked with explaining doctrine and church positions.

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    • merganzerman
      Jul 5 2010

      I don’t think you can make the popular argument against Biblical Christians that they do not understand or know the different between personal opinion and church doctrine. Recently, in the January 9, 2010 edition of LDS Church News, there is a Correlation Department of the LDS Church that states what is official doctrine or viewpoints and what is not. In all of my quotes that I use, I make sure that they are “correlated” by the LDS church. So, if there are uncomfortable teachings of the LDS Church, you really can’t make that claim any more.

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  4. JL Fuller
    Jul 5 2010

    Repentance means making amends for wrong doing. It is part of attaining exaltation which I wrote about above. In order to come into sync with The Holy Ghost, one must first live Christian principles to the best of his ability and understanding. It is through the ministry of the Holy Ghost that we know God’s direction for us. That is how He communicates with us. When we live worldly sinful lives, He departs from us. The communication closes. Through repentance and changing our behavior we can open it up again. We gain a testimony of the correctness of an element of the Gospel by living it and getting a confirmation of its correctness through the Holy Ghost. That is how we know the Book of Mormon is true or any other thing for that matter.

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    • merganzerman
      Jul 5 2010

      Thanks again for clarifying Mormon teachings. I believe your responses do match the quotes that are used by an LDS man in the post I wrote.

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  5. JL Fuller
    Jul 5 2010

    The several things I have discussed here are different from what many traditional Christians believe. I understand some prefer to think that in order to be saved one just has to admit that Christ is the Savior. If that was so, Satan would be saved too, or so it seems to me. Every demon in hell knows that too so just admitting Christ seems a little short. But this isn’t just Mormon thinking. Many other Christian thinkers came down this trail too. The point is, we LDS are not so far off from historic Christianity as some may proclaim. We believe in the bible and use it in our worship. We believe Jesus is the Christ, the son of the living God through whom all things were made. He is our intercessor and we pray to God through Christ and in His name.

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    • May 10 2015

      Those who are unsaved don’t worry me as much as those who think that they are and think that they are going to heaven.
      What a bummer it will be on that day.
      How can anyone claim to be a christian and believe that the trinity are not one?When Jesus himself said it again and again?
      Are there Bibles that say something else?

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