An Associated Press report of December 24, 1998 reported the following:
“SALT LAKE CITY — The Justice Department and the FBI began a full investigation yesterday of the Salt Lake City Olympics, the fourth and potentially most serious inquiry into allegations that Utah bought the 2002 Winter Games. Announcement of their investigation comes a week after federal authorities began reviewing accusations that Mormon officials used scholarships and other gifts and favors to buy the votes of International Olympic Committee members.”
It went on to report that federal investigators were flying in from Washington to look into possible criminal wrongdoing by local Olympic officials. This is part of a wider investigation into accusations of scandal and bribery brought by an IOC executive board member. It is widely reported that the IOC has been rocked by assertions that criminal practices have formed a routine part of it’s business affairs for many years. What is especially startling, however, is the accusation that “the best people on earth”, members of God’s one true church, the Mormon nation/state of Utah should be implicated. It is reported that past and present Salt Lake Olympic Committee officials have acknowledged they paid college tuition for relatives of some IOC members and gave some members expensive gifts during visits before Salt Lake’s selection as a Winter Olympics host. A physician also said he was asked to perform cosmetic surgery for an IOC member, and two other members received free medical care.
A Detestable Thing
We have often reflected on the fact that, given the Mormon teaching about God, Mormons are, in effect atheists. Simply put, the Mormon God is “an exalted man” who lived on an earth and worshipped his creator/god who in turn is an exalted man who lived on an earth and worshipped his creator/god who in turn…you get the idea. The point is that each successive stage reveals a god who is a created being. This being the case, Mormonism has no first cause, i.e. an eternal God who made everything, who is self-existent, depending on no other for life, and before whom no God existed. In the absence of such an almighty being Mormons are atheists.
There is also the point that to create is to bring into being out of nothing. This is the Christian position, that God created the universe out of nothing. The Mormon belief is that matter is eternal and cannot be created or destroyed. If you take “matter unorganised” as they call it, and make something of it, that is not creation but invention. Since the Mormon god is a “created” being, i.e. made of “matter unorganised” that makes the Mormon God an invention. (Isaiah 44:6-20 esp.v19)
The Peaceable Followers of Christ?
Regular readers know that we go thumping on about the efforts of the Mormon Church to be seen as “Christian”. Perhaps we should repeat what has been said before, that when we declare that Mormons are not Christians we are in no way implying that they are not “good people”, which is the way the world defines “Christian”. There are many “good people” in the world who would prefer not to be called Christian. Ironically, a Christian is someone who has confessed to being anything but a good person. Contrary to the world’s definition, a Christian is someone who has come to recognise their utterly depraved nature and has come to trust fully in the complete and finished, atoning work of Jesus on the Cross to save them from their lost state of sinfulness. The Mormon does not subscribe to any such view and therefore cannot in honesty be called “Christian” as Evangelicals understand the word. We continue, then, to raise a warning voice to the Evangelical Church, other Christians, and the world in general, there is a great deception being perpetrated here and we are determined that people should know about it.
In an address entitled The Peaceable Followers of Christ, 1 February 1998, and reported in the April 1998 Ensign, Boyd K Packer, acting President of the Mormon Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, spoke primarily to “those who teach and write and produce films which claim that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not a Christian church and that we, the members, are not Christians.” In his remarks he identified five characteristics of the Mormon Church that mark it as Christian.
Hymns of the church testify of Christ
The name of the church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Ordinances are performed in Christ’s name
Prayers are offered in his name
Mormon “Scriptures” testify of Christ
It is noteworthy that all five refer to using, or “calling upon the name of the Lord”. However the Bible makes it clear that “Not every one who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 7:21). So what is the will of God the Father? “My Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life.” (John 6:40 cf. 1 John 3:23). And yet this is the very message that Packer rejects.
“Our critics’ belief, based on the Bible, holds that man is saved by grace alone. Theirs is by far the easier way. Our position, also based on the Bible, but strengthened by other scriptures, holds that we are saved by grace ‘after all we can do,’ and we are responsible by conduct and by covenants to live the standards of the gospel.”
It is significant that he readily admits that the Christian view is based on the Bible. His own view is, contrary to his claim, not based on the Bible because it cannot be found in the Bible. It has to be “strengthened by other scriptures”, in fact it is exclusive to those other scriptures. It is clearly the opposite of what we understand the Bible to declare, which is that “righteousness…comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus…Where then is boasting? It is excluded…For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law” (Romans 3:22-24,27-28).
The place of the Bible in this man’s life is significant. You would expect that a man who claims to be a Christian would be most confident about declaring his faith with a trusty Bible in his hands, however he declares himself challenged by the claim that Mormons are not Christians and candidly admits,
“One reason for my feeling challenged by this claim that we are not Christians is that I do not know how to answer it without quoting other revelations, from scriptures which they reject.”
In other words a self-styled “apostle of the Lord” cannot prove himself to be Christian by a simple appeal to the Bible!
Mormons will not wish to believe this, nevertheless, the words he uses seem to leave no room for “interpretation” – a favourite Mormon subject – and, whilst he goes to great lengths to prove the Christian nature of the Mormon faith, only six of twenty seven references he makes in support of his claim come from the Bible. Of those six not one makes any reference to any major Christian or Mormon doctrine. In the final analysis he simply reinforces the point we make which is that outward appearance, being good people, using the Bible, praying and even saying “Lord, Lord”, all of which comprise the main thrust of his argument, do not make a Christian. So what advice does Packer offer those who are equally challenged by the charge that Mormons are not Christians?
“It is not an easy thing for us to defend the position that bothers so many others. But, brethren and sisters, never be ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Never apologise for the sacred doctrines of the kingdom. Never feel inadequate and unsettled because you cannot explain them to the satisfaction of all who might enquire of you. Do not be ill at ease or uncomfortable because you can give little more than your conviction.”
Ending the address with the inevitable Mormon testimony Packer urges his Mormon listeners to do the same and ignore the mountain of evidence that militates against the Mormon faith. He suggests that perhaps someone will be impressed by the sincerity of the testifying Mormon and come to the same conviction, not by the weight of evidence for the Mormon faith which is singularly lacking, but by the force of sincerity. The trouble is, it is possible to be sincerely wrong. It is possible to follow conviction down the path of destruction. For “many will come in [his] name…and will deceive many” (Matthew 24:5).
It is noteworthy that in a recent interview Gordon B Hinckley made it clear that he worships a different Jesus. If you have been receiving the Reachout Quarterly newsletter you will already know, since it was reported in the autumn edition. To remind you we quote:
“In bearing testimony of Jesus Christ, President Hinckley spoke of those outside the Church who say Latter-day Saints ‘do not believe in the traditional Christ.’ ‘No, I don’t. The traditional Christ of whom they speak is not the Christ of whom I speak. For the Christ of whom I speak has been revealed in this the Dispensation of the Fulness of Times. He together with His Father, appeared to the boy Joseph Smith in the year 1820, and when Joseph left the grove that day, he knew more of the nature of God than all the learned ministers of the gospel of the ages.'” – LDS Church News (6/20/98, p.7)
Now we have a “prophet” who openly declares that he worships a very different Jesus to the one worshipped by “other” Christians, and an “apostle” who cannot prove himself guilty of being a Christian by a simple appeal to the Bible. The inevitable conclusion any reasonable Evangelical Christian would draw from these facts is that these men cannot be Christians. They believe in the Jesus of Joseph Smith, that much is clear from Hinckley’s statement, and it is not the Jesus of the Bible, that is clear from Packer’s statement. If it were otherwise then surely the Jesus of Joseph Smith would be clearly portrayed in the Bible and Packer’s problem would not exist. There would be no “disadvantage” when “cornered or challenged” because the answer would be found in Christian scripture. Packer’s answer is found in extra-biblical writings, and Hinckley’s Jesus is peculiar to Mormonism.
It is clear that the Jesus that we and our fellow Evangelicals, as well as most other Christians, worship is quite different from the Jesus of Gordon B Hinckley, Boyd K Packer, and the Mormon Church. The basic message of the Mormon Church to us is that, whilst we may have “some truth”, we do not have the Jesus of God. We are mistaken in what we think of him, in how we conceive him, and in what we expect of him and whilst Mormon statements concerning other churches are these days couched in terms of conciliation and friendship, nevertheless it is plain that this is so much camouflage to hide the fact that we are considered corrupt in our professions of faith, abominable in our creedal loyalties, and in gross error in our mere lip service to God’s power and sovereignty. In short, we are not true Christians because we have not embraced the restored truth, and the true Jesus of Mormonism. Against this background Mormons expect us to say, “Of course Mormons are Christians”?
It seems that Boyd K Packer very much regrets not being a Christian like the rest of us and is torn between the conviction of his testimony and the true state of Mormonism in the modern world. We do not envy him as he attempts to reconcile the irreconcilable. Nevertheless it will take more than the heartfelt regrets of an elder statesman of Mormonism, who cannot in truth offer more than his conviction and who cannot, by his own admission, stand on God’s word in defence of that conviction – it would take more than this to make Christians call Mormons “Christian”. Can you blame us?
“Emancipation from error is the condition of real knowledge.” – Henri Frederic Ameil (1849)