The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is all about looking and sounding Christian. Producing a series of short videos all with the title ‘How Can It Not Be True’, the church seeks to draw in the unsuspecting and the curious.

Several of these brief videos cover obvious ‘Christian’ topics such as: Who is God; Evidence for God’s Existence; The Miracle of Humankind, and Jesus Christ as the Son of God. Each of these videos would certainly appear Christian to those who know little or nothing about Mormonism. Then, after drawing you in and convincing you that they are indeed a Christian church, further videos in the series reveal Mormon distinctives.

In the video entitled: How Can It Not Be True – Joseph Smith, viewers are informed that during his earthly ministry Christ established His church. Nothing too controversial about that.

In his account, the Gospel writer Matthew records the words of Jesus speaking about such:

And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

Matthew 16:18

Though Jesus clearly says in this verse that he will build (establish) his church, it is a verse not very often used by the Mormons to support their premise. There is a reason for this, to which I will return later.

We are told that the church, founded by Jesus, bore His name, and had a foundation of ‘prophets and apostles’.

The church founded by Christ, clearly did bear His name. Those who put their faith in Christ were first called Christians in Antioch (Acts 11:26), because of their allegiance to the Lord Jesus Christ. So, we can agree about this, but what about their claim of a foundation of prophets and apostles?

Apostles and Prophets

A verse often used to discuss the church having a foundation of apostles and prophets is Ephesians 2:20, which reads:

‘…built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone…’

Something that is worth noticing is the way in which the video reverses the order, saying prophets and apostles, rather than apostles and prophets. I would suggest that there is a reason for this. They teach that the true church was restored through a ‘prophet’, not an apostle.

Now with regards to understanding Ephesians 2:20, there are differing views within the Christian church, but the three usual interpretations are here given by Andrew Wilson:

  1. The universal church is built on the foundation of the New Testament and the Old Testament, with Jesus as the cornerstone. The foundation here is primarily Scripture.
  1. The universal church is built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets in the first generation of the church, with Jesus as the cornerstone. The foundation here is primarily the revelation of the gospel and its extension to all nations.
  2. The local church is built on the foundation of apostolic and prophetic ministry as apostles and prophets serve the congregation, with Jesus as the cornerstone. The foundation here is primarily the human leaders given to the church in all generations by the risen Christ.1

Wilson goes on to say that he is convinced the answer is number 2, and I would agree with him. His reasoning has a lot to do with the context of Ephesians 2:20. Context is always the key to a clearer understanding.

Let’s read from chapter 2:19 through to chapter 3:6:

So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit. For this reason, I Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles— assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you, how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

From the context, Wilson concludes:

I think it’s pretty hard to argue, given the flow of thought, that these two mentions of the “apostles and prophets” refer to different things. And in 3:5, Paul seems to be talking about #2: the new covenant apostles and prophets of the first generation, to whom the mystery of the inclusion of the Gentiles has now been revealed, as it hadn’t been previously. That would probably mean he is also talking about this in 2:20 – the united church of God, both Jew and Gentile, is built on the foundation of revelation given to the apostles and prophets, in the first generation of the church, about God’s worldwide purposes.2

It will be of no surprise that the Mormon church would disagree with him. Their view would be more akin to interpretation number 3. They insist that, after a lengthy period of having no authoritative leadership, God restored Prophets and Apostles to his Church, and these Prophets and Apostles exist today within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth. (LDS Articles of Faith 6)

It is the prophets and apostles in the Mormon church that hold sway, particularly the leader – known as the living prophet.3

We are most fortunate to have a living prophet at the head of the Church to guide us, and all who heed his counsel will be partakers of the promised blessings which will not be enjoyed by those who fail to accept his messages … Whose side are we on? When the prophet speaks the debate is over’.4

This is a quote from old-school Mormonism, and though it would still be accepted by the majority notionally, it would not always be the case in practice.


Mormons teach that, after Jesus’ resurrection and the death of his apostles, the church lost its authority. They say that the church became totally apostate and remained so for over 1700 years.

Every Latter-day Saint knows that following the death of the apostles, Paul’s prophecy was fulfilled, for there were many ‘grievous wolves’ that entered the flock, and men arose ‘speaking perverse things’ so that the doctrines were changed, and the true Church of Jesus Christ ceased to be on the earth. For this reason, there had to come a restoration of the Church and a new revelation and a bestowal of divine authority. The Church of Jesus Christ and the Holy Scriptures are, therefore, not responsible for the changed doctrines and unscientific teachings of those times, when uninspired ecclesiastics controlled the thinking of people’.5

Claiming that the basic principles of the gospel became polluted, there was a need of restoration. This happened, according to the Mormons, in 1820 when God met with a young fifteen-year-old boy named Joseph Smith.


Is it true? Did the church become totally apostate and in need of restoration? If correct, then Jesus was a liar.

Earlier in this article, I mentioned Matthew 16:18:

And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

This is a difficult verse for Mormons because Jesus says that the gates of hell would not prevail against His church. Who was telling the truth Jesus or Joseph? For certain, as mentioned in the Bible itself, false teachers would arise, but according to Jesus they could never completely overthrow His Church. Therefore, there was no need for the complete restoration of the church.

Along with the claim that the church was restored by the Prophet Joseph Smith, the video continues by declaring that its practices support the belief that it is truly the restored church of Jesus Christ on the earth today.

Baptism and The Gift of the Holy Spirit

We are told that the early church, established by Christ, baptised by immersion, and bestowed the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands.

Mainstream Christianity has no problem with baptism by immersion or the laying on of hands for the reception of the Holy Spirit.6 The problem therefore lies in how Mormons understand these things.

Mormons believe that baptism is essential for exaltation7 and both baptism and the laying on of hands, must be administered by the proper authority i.e. by their leaders.

Baptism into Christ’s true church by proper authority opens the doors for exaltation in the eternal kingdoms of glory, exaltation to be earned by repentance, by living righteously, keeping the commandments of the Lord, and service to one’s fellow men’8

The laying on of hands is the procedure revealed by the Lord for performing many priesthood ordinances, such as confirmation, ordination, setting members apart to serve in callings, administering to the sick, and giving other priesthood blessings (see D&C 42:44Articles of Faith 1:4–5). Those having the proper priesthood authority place their hands upon the head of the person receiving the ordinance. In doing so, they serve as instruments through whom the Lord blesses His children (see D&C 36:2).9

If a person, who has previously been baptised in a different church, converts to Mormonism, they will need to be re-baptised by someone with the ‘proper authority’.

We are then told that the Mormon church proves itself to be the true church because it practices divine healing, and they have no paid ministry. Then comes the foundation upon which the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints stands – the so-called great apostasy which necessitates a restoration.

Continuing Revelation

The video claims that a restoration began in 1820, and it continues today through the church’s living prophets and apostles.

We Latter-day Saints have that new revelation. We have a new prophet and new scriptures also, which, added to the Bible, now point the way. This new revelation brought with it the true understanding of the nature of God and a restoration of primitive Christianity. That restoration is Mormonism. It came about through the ministry of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Jun. He saw God and communed with him, even as did Moses’10

We can say with confidence, that the church of Christ was never totally apostate, and that there has never been a need for new revelation or new scriptures.

Their new revelation has not brought a new understanding of the nature of God, but rather a completely different understanding; one which is at complete odds with the God revealed in the pages of the Holy Bible.

Led by Christ?

As the video draws to a close it is announced with great pride that the true Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is on the earth today and it is being led by him who established it. I totally agree!

The Mormon Church is indeed being led by him who established it, but it was not established by God. This church was not founded by the Lord Jesus Christ. How could it be? It has a different gospel, a different Jesus, and a different Spirit and as such, is founded by the great enemy of truth, the one Jesus called a liar and the father of lies.11

A thorough investigation of the origin and teaching of Mormonism, leads a person to not ask: ‘How can it not be true?’ but rather, ‘How on earth can it be true?’

1 The Foundation of the Apostles and Prophets: What Is It? | Blog | Think Theology

2 ibid

3 As of writing this is 98-year-old Russell M. Nelson.

4 N. Eldon Tanner, ‘The Debate is Over’ Ensign – August 1979, p.2

5 Joseph Fielding Smith, Man, His Origin and Destiny. P.467

6 Acts 19:6 And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking in tongues and prophesying.

7 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.

8 Spencer W. Kimball, ‘The Stone Cut without Hands’ Ensign May 1976, p.7

9 Laying On of Hands (

10 Mark E. Petersen, Conference Reports, April 1964 p.19

11 John 8:44