The April 2001 Mormon Ensign magazine carried a special feature containing the text from a video presentation, Special Witnesses of Christ, broadcast by the leaders of the Mormon Church during their annual convention. The text can be found in the online edition of the April Ensign. From carefully selected locations Mormon leaders spoke of various aspects of their faith. It was clearly an attempt to present to the world the Christianised message of Mormonism at a time most precious to all true Christians throughout the world. Inevitably there will be those whose initial reaction to this message will, like my own, be an audible groan as Mormonism once again misrepresents itself before the world. Once again it claims to itself an authority it does not truly have, presents itself as being in the vanguard of Christian faith and culture, which it is not, and tells it’s own story in language that is characteristically hyperbolic. And, with no more than a passing nod at the truth, it hurries on to give it’s own version of events.
Of course, this sophisticated representation of Mormonism will impress many, for it is designed so to do. Not least it will confirm Mormons, had they ever dared to doubt, in their conviction that they are indeed Christians. And this is a great pity since their convictions are misguided, their hope unfounded, their message misleading – and their non-member friends in real danger of falling for the same ‘gospel, that is no gospel at all’. Hence the concern of so many Christian ministries that people should know the truth about Mormonism and, more importantly, about the Jesus Christ of the Bible of whom we are all special witnesses.
Carefully read, this videotext does tell us a great deal that is true about Mormonism. Indeed it may tell us more about the Mormon faith than those who produced it ever intended. Unfortunately, it will not be so carefully read by many of those invited to consider it’s message. As we look at the Mormon message contained in the text, comparing it with Biblical truth, I encourage other Christians to read carefully where others might read superficially and explain to their Mormon friends, and to their non-Christian friends who might consider becoming Mormons on the strength of it, how far from the truths of the Bible is the message of these ‘Special Witnesses’.
In his opening address the Mormon president speaks against the carefully chosen backdrop of Jerusalem. It seems an appropriate setting since he is to introduce the special witnesses, telling of their “unique calling [as] Apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ, chosen and commissioned by him”. This is clearly an attempt to suggest a direct connection between the apostles of Utah with the apostles of Jerusalem. Much might be said about the Mormon claim to such authority, indeed much has been said on the subject. I simply point out the special qualifications for a member of the twelve Apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ as clearly explained by the Biblical Apostle Peter, i.e. he should be:
“One of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from John’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection.” (Acts 1:21-22)
Any claims to being “special witnesses” of this kind must be questioned since no one of any subsequent age or time could possibly qualify. Yet we are invited to believe that this is the message of apostles, having the same authority, qualification and calling as the twelve of old. Indeed Mormon Apostle M Russell Ballard states that the Mormon Church has to date seen “more than 90 men called to serve as Apostles”.
But are the messages of these two groups of men, apostles both ancient and modern, the same? If not, we would surely have another reason to doubt the qualifications of the latter.
Jesus, The Way
Those who carefully consider the message of the Bible cannot help but come to the conclusion that it is all about Jesus. From the promise made to our first parents that Christ, their offspring, would crush Satan, the serpent, in final victory (Genesis 3:15; Rom.16: 20); through the promises made to Abraham and his descendants that the original blessing on all mankind would be restored through Christ, the seed of Abraham (Genesis 12:3; Acts 3: 24-26; Gal.3: 8,18); to the powerful symbolism of Old Testament temple worship that foretells the lamb slain from the foundation of the world (Genesis 22:8; Exodus 12:21; Numb.9:1-12; John 1:29), it is Christ who is the focus and theme of Biblical prophecy.
In the glorious fulfilment of those promises in the New Testament, where Christ, the new Adam, offers life eternal to all those who look to Him with the faith of Abraham, (Romans 5:12-20; 4:11-12), Jesus proves to be the origin, theme, purpose and fulfilment of God’s will for His creation.
As we consider the opening verses of the letter to the Hebrews we see the apex of God’s message in Him who is “the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word”. He is God’s loudest declaration of Himself and His clearest message in “these last days”. As we read the first chapter of Ephesians we see that all blessings, hopes and aspirations of men and women everywhere find their fulfilment in Him.
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Christ Jesus in accordance with his pleasure and will – to the praise of his glorious grace which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfilment – to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.” (Ephesians 1:3-10)
As we read the words of Jesus Himself we see that He is ‘the Way, the Truth, and the Life’; the one through whom all must come if they are to know God, which knowledge is life eternal. (John 14:6; 17:3) Like the Biblical Apostle Paul, every true Christian can say,
“Whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ – the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.” (Philippians 3:7-9)
To the evangelical mind Jesus is all in all.
What have these special witnesses to say of Christ? Where and what is Jesus in the mind of a Mormon, in the minds of these exemplars of Mormonism? They seem to speak in the idiom of Christianity, employing distinctly Christian superlatives to demonstrate their credentials as His special witnesses. They refer to Him as “The Son of God, the Redeemer of the world, the Savior (sic) of mankind, the Prince of Life and Peace, the Holy One”, claiming Him to be at the centre of their faith. And yet a more careful reading reveals a disturbing characteristic of this message. The message of Mormonism raises serious questions as it subsumes Jesus into the greater message of the ‘plan’ that is the Mormon gospel.
My Lord and my God
The Biblical Apostle Thomas recognised Jesus as “My Lord and my God”, a confession for which he was commended. Jesus Himself claimed equality with the Father, a claim for which the Jewish authorities “tried all the harder to kill him” (John 5:18).
In the Ensign magazine the Mormon Apostle Neal A Maxwell declared,
“Long before He was born at Bethlehem and became known as Jesus of Nazareth, our Savior was Jehovah”. (p.6)
Mormon Apostle Russell M Nelson referred to Jesus as,
“Jehovah – God of the Old Testament”. (p.7)
There seems to be agreement here. Yet to Mormons He is not God as He is to Christians, as He was to Thomas. Mormons differentiate between Jehovah, who is Jesus, and Elohim, who is God the Father, under whose direction “Christ was the Lord of the universe, who created all worlds without number”. (p.6) In reference to “the literal relationship of the Father and the Son” Mormon Apostle James Talmage wrote,
“Among the Spirit children of Elohim the firstborn was and is Jehovah or Jesus Christ” (Articles of Faith 1977 ed. p.472).
Speaking in the April 1994 General Conference of the Mormon Church newly appointed Mormon Apostle Robert D Hales spoke of his“opportunity to bear testimony as a special witness of …Jesus Christ”. He went on to declare that,
“Jesus Christ is a God; he is Jehovah of the Old Testament…he is the Savior of the New Testament. Jesus Christ dwelt in the heavens with his Father…and we dwelt with them as spirit children of God the Father.” (Ensign, May 1994, p.79)
Yet Jehovah is referred to as Jehovah-Elohim over five hundred times in the Old Testament. For example in Genesis 2:4 we read, “This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created. When the Lord God (Jehovah-Elohim) made the heavens and the earth”. Deuteronomy 10:17 reads, “For the Lord your God (Jehovah your Elohim) is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome.” In other words Jehovah is God of gods, the supreme God. Deuteronomy 6:4 reads literally, “Jehovah our Elohim is one Jehovah”. In our Bibles the Hebrew word for “Lord” consists of the four Hebrew consonants that are usually translated today as Jehovah and the Hebrew word for “God” is Elohim, i.e. “The Lord our God is one Lord”. Perhaps the most telling reference is Isaiah 9:6 “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God (literally Elohim), Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
The Biblical Apostle Thomas’ utterance translates “My Lord (Jehovah, Greek Kyrios) and my God (Elohim, Greek Theos).” To Thomas Jesus is God, Theos or Elohim, while to the Mormon Apostle He is a god, and not God Almighty. This demotion of Jesus does not bode well in comparisons between Biblical and Mormon Apostles. However it is a common theme in the message of these “special witnesses”.
I Am the Way
Jesus declared “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6). The Biblical Apostle Peter said, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which they must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
The Biblical Apostle Paul stated,
“Just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous. The law was added so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 5:18-21)
It is a constant in Christian teaching that salvation and justification, the putting right of men and women before God, is found in Christ alone, whose righteousness brings life and justifies all who believe in Him. Simply put, through the sin of one man, Adam, all stand condemned before God. Through the obedience of one man, Christ the new Adam, all who look to Christ in faith are justified and made righteous before God. Thus He is “the way and the truth and the life”.
The Mormon Apostle Joseph B Wirthlin testified, “Jesus the Christ taught the words of life. He showed the way to truth, the way to peace, the way to happiness”. (p.9) The Mormon Apostle Dallin H Oaks said, “I testify that as the Light and Life of the World, He has provided the way for us to return to our heavenly home…” (p.13) Already Jesus is not the way but simply shows the way. He is not the truth but only teaches the truth.
The Mormon Apostle Richard G Scott spoke of “the plan of happiness that would guide our life”, and declared, “Only those who make and keep the covenant of baptism, diligently obey His commandments, and receive all the other necessary ordinances will have a fulness of joy on earth and will live eternally in the celestial kingdom.” (p.10) Finally, then, Jesus is not the life. The life is found in obedience to “the plan of happiness” (Mormonism).
Biblical Apostles clearly teach that righteousness comes to everyone who puts faith in Christ. It is clear also that Biblical Apostles teach that the righteousness we seek comes “apart from the law…through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.” (Romans 3:21-22). They further teach that “the law was added so that the trespass might increase”, i.e. so that the full extent of sin in our lives could be fully and finally revealed. But “where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” The more comprehensive the law, the more apparent the depth of sin, the more extensive the reach of grace to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. The law, by making us conscious of sin, draws us to Christ. Biblical Apostle Paul tells us that “the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith” (Galatians 3:24).
The Mormon Apostle Neal A Maxwell declares
“Having purchased us (1 Cor.7: 23) with His atoning blood (Acts 20:28) in the great and marvellous Atonement, Jesus became our Law-giver (Isaiah 33:22). It is by obedience to His laws and His commandments that we may return one day to His presence and that of our Heavenly Father.” (p.6)
This is the gospel message turned entirely on its head. Where Biblical Apostles have the law leading us to Christ, Mormon Apostles have Christ leading us to the law. Where Biblical Apostles have men and women justified by faith in Christ who fulfilled the law, Mormon Apostles have us justified “by obedience to His laws and His commandments”, laws that we ourselves must fulfil.
The Last Days
Just as the focus of scripture is Jesus so the time of His coming is the centre of that focus. John the Baptist’s message clearly demonstrates this, “The time has come. The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:15). Jesus said of John the Baptist “all the Prophets and Law prophesied until John. And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come” (Matthew 11:13-14), a reference to Malachi 4:5.
The writer to the Hebrews declared, “But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself” (Hebrews 9:26) and wrote, “In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days (latter days) he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe” (Hebrews 1:1-2). The Biblical Apostle Peter said of this time “He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake” (1 Peter 1:20).
In contrast with the message of prophets who had prophesied until John a new and unique category of revelation is experienced in the Son. Jesus is God’s loudest and clearest expression of Himself and His coming brings the kingdom of God to the people, ushering in the Messianic age known as “the last days”, the era of God’s mercy and salvation. This was the time prophesied by Malachi and ushered in by John, who, Jesus said, is “Elijah who was to come” (Matthew 11:13-14); when the promise to our first parents would begin to be fulfilled (Genesis 3:15; Rom.16: 20; 13:12); when the promises to Abraham would begin to see fruition in the lives of all who have the faith of Abraham. The Biblical Apostle Peter told his Jewish hearers,
Indeed, all the prophets from Samuel on, as many as have spoken, have foretold these days. And you are heirs of the prophets and of the covenant God made with your fathers. He said to Abraham, “Through your offspring all the peoples on earth will be blessed.” When God raised up his servant (Jesus), he sent him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways. (Acts 3:24-26)
The Biblical Apostle Paul told his Gentile converts,
“The scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.” So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith…For if the inheritance depends on the law, then it no longer depends on a promise; but God in his grace gave it to Abraham through a promise. What, then, was the purpose of the law?…the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law.” (Gal.3: 8-9,18-25)
Mormon Apostle Boyd K Packer spoke of the day in 1836 when Malachi 4:5-6 was fulfilled in the presence of Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdrey as reported in D&C 110:14 “Behold, the time has fully come, which was spoken of by the mouth of Malachi – testifying that he [Elijah] should be sent, before the great and dreadful day of the Lord come.” (p.17)
The Mormon Apostle Russell M Nelson, speaking of the covenant God made with Abraham, said, “From scriptures we learn that this covenant ‘should be fulfilled in the latter days’ (1 Nephi 15:18). Then the fulness of His gospel would be preached and many would truly believe…” He went on to declare, “Brothers and sisters, you may also claim the supernal blessings promised to the faithful lineage of Abraham. The Lord explained that blessings and responsibilities of His priesthood are yours because of your faith, works, and lineage – the lineage declared in your patriarchal blessings…The ultimate blessings of the Abrahamic covenant are conferred in holy temples.” (p.7)
Thus the focus of these prophecies, so clearly centred around the Saviour and the Messianic age ushered in by Him, shifts from the first century to the nineteenth; from the founding of a church comprising people of faith, to the inception of Mormonism, a religion based on works; from an Abrahamic covenant fulfilled in all who are of the faith lineage of Abraham, to its fulfilment in those who are, through a mystical (patriarchal) blessing, declared to be of his literal lineage; from simple and life-giving faith in the finished work of the cross to esoteric temple ceremonies centred on the dead; from Jesus to Joseph.
Many Live as Enemies of the Cross of Christ (Philip.3: 18)
The Biblical Apostle Peter first publicly declared the Good News of Christ’s triumph at Pentecost saying,
“Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. But God raised him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.” (Acts 2:22-25)
From that time the theme of the cross has been another constant in the Christian faith. The Biblical Apostle Paul wrote,
“For God was pleased to have all his fulness dwell in him (Christ), and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.” (Colossians 1:19-20)
“When you were dead in your sins and in the circumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having cancelled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” (Colossians 2:13-15)
The Mormon Apostle Jeffrey R Holland, speaking from the Mount of Olives, declared, “It was here in the Garden of Gethsemane, on that last night in mortality, that Jesus left His Apostles and descended alone into the depth of agony that would be His atoning sacrifice for the sins of mankind.” (p.14) Lest anyone misunderstand the place of the cross in Mormon thinking let me quote thirteenth Mormon president, Ezra Taft Benson,
“It was in Gethsemane that Jesus took on Himself the sins of the world, in Gethsemane that His pain was equivalent to the cumulative burden of all men, in Gethsemane that He descended below all things so that all could repent and come to Him.” (Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p.14)
The cross is merely an afterthought, a fact clearly illustrated in the words of Mormon Apostle Bruce R McConkie,
“As He came out of the Garden, delivering himself voluntarily into the hands of wicked men, the victory had been won. There remained yet the shame and the pain of his arrest, his trials, and his cross. But all these were overshadowed by the agonies and sufferings in Gethsemane. It was on the cross that he ‘suffered death in the flesh’, even as many have suffered agonising deaths, but it was in Gethsemane that ‘he suffered the pain of all men, that all men might repent and come to him'” (The Mortal Messiah, McConkie, pp 127-28)
What more subtle way could there be to empty the cross of its power with words of human wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:17) than to empty it into Gethsemane? While Biblical Apostles look to the cross (John 3:14) Mormon Apostles dismiss the cross declaring “he ‘suffered death in the flesh’ even as many have suffered agonising deaths”. But it is the cross not the garden – oh, yes, the cross not the garden. If they could but grasp the significance of the cross, the total loss and abandonment he suffered, the weight he bore, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” Not the comforted and strengthened Jesus of the garden (Luke 22:43), but the abandoned and desolate Saviour of the cross. Not the garden where, in exquisite anguish, he anticipated his sacrifice in intimate association with heaven, but the cross where heaven looked away for the sin he bore. As far away as a man is from the cross, so far is he from Christ (Galatians 6:14).
I Will Build my Church
We have already observed that a new and unique category of revelation is experienced in the Son who is God’s loudest and clearest expression of Himself. That His coming brings the kingdom of God and ushers in the Messianic age, the era of God’s mercy and salvation. Having “endured the cross, scorning its shame [he] sat down at the right hand of the throne of God”, and we are to “fix our eyes on [him], the author and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2). Jesus’ promise to all who look to him is that what he has established, will not be overcome, not even by hell itself (Matthew 16:18). What did he establish?
The Biblical Apostle Peter described the church as a “spiritual house” built of “living stones” (1 Peter 2:4-5). The Biblical Apostle Paul referred to Christians as “God’s building” and “God’s temple and that God’s spirit lives in us” (1 Cornthians 3:9&16) In his letter to the Ephesians he speaks of Christians as “fellow-citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household” (Ephesians 4:19). In the same letter he describes how someone becomes a member of that household,
“And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession.” (Ephesians 1:13-14)
Thus the church is not an organisation, but an organism; not a structure, but a body; not marked by offices and hierarchies, but by the life of the Spirit in true believers. And the “guarantee” is an eternal inheritance, that that life would continue unabated. The promise is that “the gates of Hades will not overcome [the church]”; that the church would endure as it looks forward to that city whose architect and builder is God (Hebrews 11:10-16). Whichever way the church is organised it is always people, and not buildings or institutions, not formalistic. This living body consists of those who are alive to Christ, those who have died in Christ, and those who are yet to be born and believe in Christ. This is what might be termed the catholic, or universal, church.
The Lord Jesus warned His disciples, “In this world you will have trouble.” (John 16:33). Down through the centuries the body of believers has experienced much trouble. As the church grew some turned away from the faith (1 Timothy 1:6-7; Galatians 1:6-9). Christians had been warned of this by the Biblical Apostle Paul, “Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. So be on your Guard!” (Acts 20:20-31). The Biblical Apostle Peter warned that many would follow after false prophets and bring the way of truth into disrepute (2 Peter 2:1-3). However Jesus, in John’s gospel, went on to say, “But take heart! I have overcome the world”. He promised that he had overcome the world and that the world would not overcome the church, and that “the gospel of the kingdom (which His coming established) will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:14). Thus the agenda for the church, “until He comes” is set.
The Mormon Apostle M Russell Ballard, in a remarkable and amusing comparison, declared,
“When the Savior originally charged His Apostles, ‘Go into all the world’ (Mark 16:15) His Church was very small, with members scattered in the geographic region now known as the Middle East. His dynamic Apostles, James, John, and Paul, travelling mostly by foot or by ship, did everything they could to keep the little flock together. But the distance and the lack of communication made their work very difficult. They themselves knew that the future would bring “a falling away” (2 Thes.2: 3); they also knew that eventually there would come to the world a restoration of the fulness of the gospel…Today our labours are greatly enhanced by jet airplanes and remarkable technology that stretch the reach of our ministry to the furthest parts of the world…I testify to you that it is the will of our Father in Heaven…that this mighty work moves forward.” (p.15)
Mormon Apostle Thomas S Monson spoke of the unerring will of God in accomplishing the establishment of the Mormon Church. (p.19). This raises a serious question. Why was God so impotent to keep his promises in the first century yet so overwhelmingly capable in the nineteenth? This is a picture of a God who is able to break the bands of death, reconcile sinful men and women to Himself, and authenticate the work of His Son by miracles, signs and wonders but is unable to stop the world overcoming His church for want of an aeroplane and modern technology. This ridiculous picture is contradicted by looking at the maps depicting missionary journeys found at the back of any good Bible.
The Oxford Companion to the Bible says of the “dynamic Apostle” Paul “In his travels Paul took advantage of the fine highway system built by the Romans and, in the course of three extended tours, he visited most of the key centres of Greece and Asia Minor…. Paul seems to have had a carefully designed strategy for evangelism. He aimed to establish churches in the largest population centres, which he could easily reach on the paved Roman roads. From there, local converts could take the message into more remote towns and villages. This was evidently successful. At least one of his letters (Colossians) was written to a church founded in this way, and later in the first century most of the areas he visited had many flourishing congregations.” (Oxford Companion to the Bible, p.577)
If the work of one Apostle could be so successful, producing “many flourishing congregations”, what does it tell us when we multiply that by the number of apostles and evangelists scattered throughout the Roman world of the first century?
The success of early missionary efforts is evident from the fact that “converts were a typical cross section of Roman society. Many Christians were slaves, though the gospel attracted cultured, upper-class Romans. Some were clearly influential people (Romans 16:23), the kind who would take personal disputes to law courts (1 Cor.6: 1-11) and who could afford to make donations for good causes (2 Cor.8: 1-15; Rom.15: 25-33). Paul’s co-workers also enjoyed the typical mobile lifestyle of the upper classes.” (Oxford Companion to the Bible, pp 577-78)
Let Him who Boasts Boast in the Lord (1 Cor.1:31)
Finally the Mormon Apostle and prophet Gordon B Hinckley, speaking from the “Sacred Grove” where Joseph Smith was supposed to have had the “First Vision”, said, “Here is where it all began, the miracle of this great work which has spread over the earth”. (p.20) He speaks as though no vision had preceded it; as if 2,000 years of Christian history, drama, sacrifice and faithful devotion had never happened; as if the promises of Jesus and the founding success of His followers counted for nothing. Here is the true beginning of Mormonism, in a sacred grove where one man’s vainglorious ambition negates all that has gone before in an effort to “make [himself] like the Most High” (Isaiah 14: 12-14)
Can you doubt it when Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, said of himself,
“I have more to boast of than ever any man had. I am the only man that has been able to keep a whole church together since the days of Adam. A large majority of the whole have stood by me. Neither Paul, John, Peter, nor Jesus ever did. I boast that no man ever did such a work as I.” (Joseph Smith, History of the Church, Vol.6, p.409)
And who also declared,
“God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted Man…Here then is life eternal – to know the only wise and true God; and you have got to learn how to be Gods yourselves, and to be kings and priests to God, the same as all Gods have done before you”. (Joseph Smith, Journal of Discourses, vol.6, pp.3-4)
This is a religion that has rejected the “foundation of Apostles and Prophets” laid by Jesus and, in their place has established it’s own Apostles. A religion that has rejected the remarkable story of Christ’s triumph and the establishment of His church as told in the Testaments of the Bible, and produced their own, “Another Testament of Jesus Christ”, in the Book of Mormon. A religion that has rejected the stone that has become the capstone (Mark 12:10) and sought to lay a new foundation of their own. In great ways and small Mormonism takes and changes so much that is Christian, fooling the unwary with the familiar terminology while all the time hiding a meaning quite alien to true Christianity.
In the American version of the familiar Christian hymn How Great Thou Art (No.86 in the LDS Hymnbook), “O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder consider all the works your hands have made”, the word “works” is changed to worlds (p.4). This innocent and apparently inconsequential change, when quoted in this article by a Mormon apologist, takes on a greater significance and reflects Mormonism’s strange cosmology that sees the universe comprised of “worlds without number”, each presided over by a god who was once a man. Thus the truth is subtly changed and pressed into the service of a religion that has appropriated to itself statements, acclamations, names and titles in such a manner as to give Mormonism pre-eminence over even the Jesus of whom they claim to be special witnesses.