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MORMONISM’S FOUNDATION OF DECEPTION

This article explains how Joseph Smith, who claimed to be a latter-day prophet, was able to bring into being a religion that opposes every major doctrine in the Bible, in spite of the Bible being one of their standard works.

At the start the LDS church’s doctrines were similar to those of Christianity. For the first twelve years they worshipped the trinitarian deity, as is borne out by their 1835 printing of Doctrine and Covenants. (Note that at that stage Joseph taught that God was a spirit being.)

“….. We shall, in this lecture speak of the Godhead: we mean the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. There are two personages ….. They are the Father and the Son: The Father being a personage of spirit, glory and power: possessing all perfection and fullness: the Son, who was in the bosom of the Father, a personage of tabernacle ….. And he being the only begotten of the Father ….. possessing the same mind with the Father, which mind is the Holy Spirit..” (1835 Doctrine and Covenants, Lecture Fifth of Faith, 5:1-2, pages 52-53, First edition.) (Writer’s italics)

The Book of Mormon, which was written by Joseph Smith prior to his change in deity, confirms his original trinitarian teaching given above. Note that the Book of Mormon also taught that there was only one God, who was a spirit being:

And then Ammon said: Believest thou that there is a Great Spirit? And he said, Yes. And Ammon said: This is God. And Ammon said unto him again: Believest thou that this Great Spirit, who is God, created all things which are in heaven and on the earth? And he said Yes …….. (Alma 18:26-29)

….. Christ the Son, and God the Father, and the Holy Spirit, which is one Eternal God….. (Alma 11:44)

….. the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost are one ….. (3 Nephi 11:27)

….. to dwell in the presence of God in his kingdom, to sing ceaseless praises with the choirs above, unto the Father, and unto the Son, and unto the Holy Ghost, which are one God….. (Mormon 7:7)

Now Zeezrom said: Is there more than one God? And he answered, No. (Alma 11:28-29)

….. there is but one God (Alma 11:35)
Suffice it to say that Mormonism of today has changed to the extent that it no longer bears any resemblance to Mormonism of the early days. It is a different religion altogether, with a different God (an ordinary saved sinner with a body of flesh and bone), a different Saviour (who fits in with their later doctrine of eternal progression), and a different atonement, gospel and salvation. (Links are given at the end of this page to relevant articles on these subjects.)

LAYING THE FOUNDATION FOR THE DECEPTION

Records reveal that prior to the inception of the LDS church Joseph Smith was involved in the occult, spiritism and necromancy. He also had the reputation of being a confidence trickster, and for some years made money out of convincing folk that he could divine the whereabouts of hidden treasure through the use of his occultic stone. However, the treasure never materialised and he was eventually taken to court and prosecuted. Although he was found guilty, due to his age at the time (twenty) he was not given a sentence.

It is a fact that Smith never gave up his occultic practices. He died with an occultic talisman coin in his pocket. And he freely admitted that during the period that he was prophet and leader of the church, he received “prophecies and revelations” through his occultic stone — see the article on this site, “Joseph Smith, the Latter-day False Prophet.”

After he had joined the probationer’s class of the Methodist Church in 1828, it was pointed out to Joseph that his lifestyle did not fit in with the teachings and beliefs of the church; and that in order to stay in membership he would be required to confess his misdemeanours, repent and change his ways. However, he chose rather to resign. (c/f The Amboy Journal, April 30, 1879 page 1; June 11, 1879, page 1.)

Within two years he had started up his own church, which came to be known as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Opponents of Mormonism believe that his story about the apostasy of the Christian church stemmed from his bitterness towards the church in general, as a direct consequence of what had happened to him when he had attempted to join the Methodists.

Although he had a poor education, Joseph was certainly not lacking in intelligence. He knew that his ideas on religion did not fit in with the teachings of the Bible, and that he would have to come up with an innovative explanation. He also realised that he needed to provide a plausible reason for starting up a new church.

Declaring himself to be a latter-day prophet, he claimed that God had revealed to him that after the death of Christ’s apostles the early church had become apostate, and that he had been given the task of restoring the true church. He also maintained that the Bible was not reliable as it had been incorrectly translated, and that large sections containing important teachings about salvation had been removed.

This meant that right from the very start, his followers had no reliable standard of truth against which to test whether or not his teachings were correct, thereby giving him free reign to introduce whatever unbiblical teachings fitted in with his agenda.

“Many important points touching the salvation of men, had been taken from the Bible, or lost before it was compiled.” (Joseph Smith, History of the Church, Volume 1, page 245)

“Ignorant translators, careless transcribers, or designing and corrupt priests have committed many errors” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, page 327).

Although his followers accepted his claims about the Bible having been corrupted, Smith was wise enough not to bring about any radical departure from biblical doctrines until the church had become well and truly established.

Later on, when doctrines that directly contradicted biblical teachings were introduced, the LDS members were taught that because the Bible was unreliable, the best way to establish the accuracy of its teachings was to compare them with their own doctrines, their own scriptures and the words of their own true prophet. This teaching still applies today:

“The most reliable way to measure the accuracy of any biblical passage is not by comparing different texts, but by comparison with the Book of Mormon and modern-day revelations.” (Church News, June 20, 1992, page 3, quoting a letter from the First Presidency [Presidents Benson, Hinckley and Monson] dated May 22, 1992, to all of the Church)

Perpetuating the deceptions that have been part and parcel of Mormonism ever since its inception, the following claim was made in a later LDS booklet for consumption by non-Mormons:

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (known informally by the nickname Mormons) believe the Bible. Indeed, so literally and completely do their beliefs and practices conform to the teachings of the Bible that it is not uncommon to hear informed persons say: ‘If all men believed the Bible, all would be Mormons.’ Bible doctrine is Mormon doctrine, and Mormon doctrine is Bible doctrine. They are one and the same (LDS Apostle and Doctrinal Writer, Bruce McConkie, ‘What The Mormons Think of Christ,’ page 2)

THE INTRODUCTION OF ETERNAL PROGRESSION

Twelve years after the formation of the LDS church, in 1842, Joseph made his move, introducing his unbiblical “Law of Eternal Progression” with the following pronouncement:

“We have imagined and supposed that God was God from all eternity. I will refute that idea, and take away the veil, so that you may see ….. God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens!” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, page 345, compiled by Joseph Fielding Smith).

In order to avoid duplication, eternal progression will not be discussed in depth here, as a link is provided at the bottom of this page to an article that explains it more fully. But to put it briefly, the eternal progression teaching is that every living being originally existed as intelligent matter, then progressed, each in his own time, to the next stage by taking on a spirit form, and finally to the stage of taking on a physical body. The ultimate is to progress, or to be “translated” to godhood, which in Mormonism is eternal life. What this means is that deity and man have exactly the same origins and the same scope for advancement. The only difference between us and God is that He has reached a further stage of progression than we have, at this moment in time.

Although it may be hard for us to understand how so many sincere and well-meaning folk could have been taken in by his incredible deceptions, we need to bear in mind that Joseph Smith was a talented and persuasive orator. In his youth he had belonged to the local debating society, and he had also been a regular exhorter at the Methodist evening meetings for some time prior to his attempt at becoming a member of that church. (History of the Pioneer Settlement of Phelps and Gorham’s Purchase, 1851, page 214). And let us not forget that he had already convinced his followers that the Bible was not reliable.

It is not the practice of the LDS to disclose their exclusive doctrines to outsiders. And they will go to great lengths to conceal them. Only after having been baptised into the LDS church is the initiate exposed to the full teachings of Mormonism, through a graduated system of indoctrination. For this reason, right up until fairly recently, few people outside the LDS membership were aware of the full extent of LDS beliefs.

However, since the advent of the Internet and the subsequent public disclosure of LDS teachings by ex-Mormons, there has been such widespread condemnation of their claim that Mormon men can become Gods (as well as of various other LDS doctrines and practices), that they have recently toned down the wording of their teachings. For instance, they now talk about becoming “like God,” whereas when the writer was still in the LDS, they didn’t mince their words, but said straight out that men were able to become gods in their own right, reigning over their own worlds, through obedience to the laws and ordinances of the LDS church. They often quoted a couplet from the pulpit, that went something like this:

As man is, God once was;
As God is, man can become.

In spite of toning down their wording, there has been no change in their doctrine of eternal progression, and the ultimate in Mormonism is still “translation” to godhood, which in “Mormonese” means eternal life.

“Here then is eternal life; 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” (Journal of Discourses 6:4; Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, page 346, compiled by Joseph Fielding Smith).

When Smith changed to the worship of a different deity many folk who had joined the LDS under their original belief system left the church. But he managed to persuade the majority to join him in his rejection of the biblical spirit God, and to follow instead his revolutionary new deity who had a body of flesh and bone, and had once been a sinner in need of salvation. He later claimed:

“I am the only man that has ever 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.The followers of Jesus ran away from Him, but the Latter-day Saints never ran away from me yet.” (The History of the Church Volume 6, pages 408-409). (Italics inserted by author.)

THE ONLY TRUE CHURCH

The LDS has a number of teachings that have been specifically designed to convince their members that they are the only true church. For instance, they are told that God removed His authority from the earth after the early church had gone into total apostasy but that He has restored His authority to them. They go on to claim that because they alone have God’s authority, salvation is only possible through their church. Another claim is that God restored, through the LDS church, the Levitical/Aaronic priesthood (which, incidentally is Old Covenant theology and has no place in the New Covenant), as well as the Melchizedek priesthood; and that eternal progression is only possible through the LDS priesthood. Then too, they maintain that they have the same organization as did the primitive church, which they say proves yet again that they are the true, restored church.

However, not a single one of these claims has any validity, as on investigation they are all disproved by the true facts.

To bolster up their claims Mormons are taught to “have faith” in Joseph Smith, his Book of Mormon and the LDS church through their feelings rather than through established facts (see the article on this site entitled, “The Mormon Testimony and Brainwashing.”)

Another deceptive ploy is their title, “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” This gives the impression that they are both biblical and Christian, and they actually teach their members that their title proves that they are the true church. But in reality nothing could be further from the truth. They have had no less than five other titles up to the present time in history, and at one stage were called, “The Church of the Latter-day Saints.” (See the Article, “The Title of the LDS Church,” which is featured on this site.) Mormons worship a different God, their gospel is different and so is their salvation. And although they do everything “in the name of Jesus Christ,” the Jesus Christ they believe in is not the biblical Christ, a fact which their leadership admits (see the article “The LDS Jesus Christ is not the Saviour of the Bible.”

Furthermore, in order to give the illusion that their doctrines fit in with what the Bible teaches, the LDS has deliberately and consistently applied dishonest meanings to biblical terms. One glaring example is the term, “salvation by grace,” which according to the Bible means being saved from both the guilt and the penalty of our sins by the grace of God through faith in Christ. But instead the LDS applies this biblical term, “salvation by grace,” to universal resurrection, without the necessity for faith in Christ and without the forgiveness of personal sins. They go on to teach that the right to forgiveness of sins has to be earned through obedience to the laws and ordinances of their church organization (c/f Articles of Faith by Talmage, page 87).

However, this is what the Bible teaches:
To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins. (Acts 10:43, KJV)

Who His own self bore our sins in His body on the tree (1 Peter 2:24, KJV)

For this is my blood of the New Testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. (Matthew 26:28, KJV)

In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace (Ephesians 1:7, KJV)

Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood (Revelation 1:5, KJV)

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 14:6, KJV)

Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. (Acts 4:12, KJV)

Although the LDS God was not always deity, but was once a fallen sinner in need of salvation, Mormons are given the impression that he is the eternal God of the Bible. In order to facilitate this deception, the LDS invented a new, exclusive meaning for the word “eternal.” They maintain it is only a title used by God in the same way as Mr. and Mrs. are titles when used in front of someone’s surname. But our dictionaries define the word “eternal” as meaning “without beginning or end of existence, everlasting, ceaseless and unchangeable.” And this is how the term “eternal” is meant to be understood when used by the Bible. (According to LDS teachings, gaining eternal life means exaltation to godhood, or enjoying the same type of life as deity, through Mormonism. But this is not what the Bible teaches.)

Their ongoing subterfuge indicates that in spite of the fact that Mormonism bears no resemblance to Christianity, and that it opposes every major doctrine taught by the Bible, it has nevertheless been deliberately dressed up in the guise of biblical Christianity. In other words, it is a counterfeit of Christianity.

Although in the past they distanced themselves from Christianity to the extent that their membership used to be told never to call themselves Christians but Latter-day Saints; at the moment the LDS is involved in a massive publicity campaign, and is pulling out all the stops to get themselves included in the Christian fraternity. Consequently, Mormons now become offended if one says they are not Christian.

As there is freedom of religion in America, one cannot help but wonder what their motive is in maintaining a Christian facade, when their religion is anything but Christian. (The articles listed in the index of the home page of this site give clear and overwhelming evidence, with references from their own literature, of Mormon opposition to everything that biblical Christianity stands for, apart from the morality issue.)

However, once one considers their roots, everything falls into place.

Joseph Smith’s religion of Mormonism is the biggest success story ever, in the arena of spiritual deception. The LDS church follows a false god, trusts in a counterfeit Jesus Christ, teaches a nonexistent salvation, and propagates Joseph Smith’s false gospel under the guise of “the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

THE REASON BEHIND THE ESTABLISHMENT OF MORMONISM

Because Smith had stressed right from the earliest days that important teachings on salvation had been taken from the Bible, we realise with hindsight that from the very start his purpose had been to lead folk away from the way of salvation that God had revealed to us in the pages of the Bible, and to substitute in its place a false gospel that fitted in with his own agenda. And to confirm that this is precisely what he did do, we will compare the biblical gospel with what the LDS teaches, and which they deceptively call “the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

THE CHRISTIAN GOSPEL

The Christian gospel is a message intended for all the inhabitants of the entire world, regardless of belief, race or creed. It tells of the amazing love of a holy and righteous Creator God for the sinful, fallen and wayward race of mankind:

In His great mercy God devised a plan that catered for our fallen state. In order to rescue us both from the power that sin has over us as well as from its terrible eternal consequences; and also to enable us to become reconciled to His righteous rulership, He came down to earth in Christ, and took on a body of flesh. By becoming one of us He qualified to become our Redeemer. Although He was sinless He voluntarily, graciously, and humbly took upon Himself the burden of the guilt and the shame of our sins. Then He courageously paid the terrible price on our behalf, in our place, on the cross, so that we could be set free from condemnation. Only one condition applied: In order to qualify for salvation we have to identify Christ as being our Representative and Saviour, by trusting solely in Him, in His saving power, His ability, and His redeeming atonement on our behalf, on the cross. (See the article “What is Biblical Salvation?” listed on the Home page.)

This means that everyone, no matter what their past may have been, what sins they may have committed, what may be their race or station in life, or how weak their resolve may be, stands on level ground at the foot of the cross. And so there is hope for all, “in Christ.” What a Saviour!

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16, KJV)

God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them (2 Corinthians 5:19, KJV).

For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. (2 Corinthians 5:21, KJV).

For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God (1 Peter 3:18, KJV)

But the LDS gospel is not like that at all. Mormonism was designed specifically to draw folk away from God’s way of salvation. We know that this is so because firstly, as already mentioned above, Smith had maintained from the start that important teachings on salvation had been removed from the Bible. And secondly, their gospel is aimed at Christians or at folk who are familiar with or who have been brought up in a Christian society. Very roughly, their gospel goes something like this:

THE LDS GOSPEL

In a vision God revealed to his latter-day prophet, Joseph Smith, that the Christian church (for which Christ had died) had became apostate shortly after the death of His apostles. So he removed His authority for the gospel from the earth. But in these latter days He has restored both the true gospel and His authority to the earth, through his prophet, Joseph Smith.

The Bible that God gave us to use as our standard of truth, so that we could protect ourselves from spiritual deception or error, is not reliable due to incorrect translation and missing portions of important teachings on salvation.

As the LDS church alone has God’s authority for the gospel, salvation can only be attained through membership of their organization, provided we have faith in Joseph Smith as the true prophet of God, are obedient to the laws and ordinances of their organization, and live righteously, to the end. (See the article on this site on Mormon Salvation).

“Redemption from personal sins can only be obtained through obedience to the requirements of the [Mormon] gospel, and a life of good works ….. The Sectarian Dogma of Justification by Faith Alone has exercised an influence for evil” (Mormon Apostle James Talmage, Articles of Faith, pages 478-479).

“There is no salvation outside The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” (Bruce McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, page 670).

“There is no salvation without accepting Joseph Smith as a prophet of God.” (Doctrines of Salvation, Vol. 1, page 188.)

As can be seen, the Mormon gospel would make no sense to anyone other than those with some sort of a Christian background or with at least a knowledge of biblical Christianity. It’s whole purpose is to create an environment where we turn away from God’s way of salvation through Christ alone and from the truths given to us in the Bible, to the deceptions taught by their false prophet, Joseph Smith.

Sadly, even if Mormons do eventually become aware of the many contradictions and errors in LDS doctrines, the majority of them have been so thoroughly indoctrinated that they will continue to avoid the Christian church like a plague and still be convinced that the Bible is unreliable. So even then Mormonism will have served its purpose. Whether he stays in their church or whether he goes, the Mormon has been indoctrinated to the extent that he is reluctant to have anything to do with what happens to be the true, biblical gospel. And what is more, because of having been so thoroughly deceived by the LDS church, he feels he can never ever trust anyone else again in the spiritual arena.

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. (Ephesians 6:12, KJV)

CONCLUSION

If the reader is a Mormon I want to encourage you not to give up in your search for the truth.

Your best way forward is to begin reading the Bible in a new way, with a new attitude, giving yourself permission to accept that it is God’s proven standard of truth. (See the proof via the link below entitled, “Corruption of the Bible is an LDS Smokescreen.”)

It’s better to start with the New Testament, either with the gospels or else with one of the epistles, such as Philippians or Colossians, and to prayerfully read each book that you tackle in small portions, going right through from beginning to end, before going on to another, asking God to help you to understand what he wants you to learn from your reading for each day. It’s also helpful to keep a notebook, marked with the dates and the passages read, together with what you feel God has taught you from each particular reading.

You are welcome to write to this site and I will do my utmost to help and encourage you in any way I can. My email address is:

reply@bibtruth.com

There is an index of relevant articles listed on the home page of this site. The following are links to some of the articles referred to above:

Corruption of the Bible is an LDS Smokescreen
The LDS Jesus Christ is Not the Saviour of the Bible
The Apostasy is a Mormon Fallacy

LDS Authority Teaching Has No Basis
The Mormon Gods, Past and Present
LDS Pre-existence is Disproved by the Bible

The LDS Priesthood is Unbiblical
Joseph Smith’s First Vision and the Controversy Surrounding It
Joseph Smith, the Latter-day False Prophet
What is Biblical Salvation?

Copyright 2008 by Mormonism and Biblical Truth. All rights reserved.

http://www.bibtruth.com/decep.html

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Lies I Told as a Mormon Missionary
by Loren Franck

The Bible predicts a dreadful fate for liars. For instance, while banished on the island of Patmos, the Apostle John saw that “all liars shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death” (Revelation 21:8). Similarly, the beloved disciple writes, liars are doomed to an eternity outside of God’s presence (Revelation 22:15). Because Satan is the father of lies (John 8:44), lying is extremely serious sin.

As a full-time Mormon missionary from 1975 to 1977, I lied for the church countless times. Like my colleagues in the South Dakota-Rapid City Mission, which served the Dakotas and adjacent areas, I spoke truthfully about my background, but touted many Mormon teachings that contradict the Bible. After my mission ended, however, I examined these doctrines more closely. The harder I tried to reconcile the contradictions, the more evident they became. So, after extensive prayer and study, I resigned my church membership in 1984. Cheated and betrayed, I lacked spiritual life for the next 17 years. But God, knowing those who are His (John 10:14; 2 Timothy 2:19), drew me to Christ (John 6:44) and saved me in 2001. My spiritual emptiness was replaced by the abundant life only the Savior can give (John 10:10). And now, like millions of Christians worldwide, I have everlasting life through my faith in Him (John 3:36; 6:47).

I can’t remember all of my missionary lies. Some were small, others grandiose, but all were false and misleading. Here are ten I’ll never forget.

1. We’re Not Trying to Convert You

Of all my lies, this was the most frequent. I learned it well while in Winnipeg, Manitoba, which was my first assignment. A standard door-to-door proselyting pitch began with, “We represent The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” Interrupting, many people said they had their own religion. “Oh, we’re not trying to convert you,” I responded. “We’re sharing a message for all faiths.”

But Mormon missionaries have one overriding goal, and that’s to bring converts into the church. Clearly, this was the purpose of my mission. I didn’t trade the Southern California sunshine for the Dakota snow merely to build interfaith relations. My calling was to teach the church-approved missionary lessons and then baptize the people I taught.

2. The Bible is Insufficient

According to their eighth Article of Faith, Mormons accept the Bible as the word of God only when it’s translated correctly. How convenient for a missionary. When a non-Mormon’s interpretation of scripture differed from mine, I frequently blamed faulty Bible translation. And since I believed the Bible was missing “many plain and precious things,” as the Book of Mormon claims in 1 Nephi 13:28-29, I urged prospective converts not to trust it completely.

And yet, Mormon proof texts had few translation problems. Throughout my mission, I used only those Bible verses that steered prospects away from their church and toward Mormonism. But what kind of Christian believes that an all-knowing, all-powerful and all-loving God gave mankind an inadequate version of His word. Actually, the Bible is more than sufficient. With its 66 books, 1,189 chapters and nearly 740,000 words, it’s the divine road map to eternal life through Jesus Christ.

3. We’re the Only True Christians

For decades, the Mormon Church has tried to blend with mainstream Christianity. Accordingly, during my mission a quarter-century ago, I worked hard to convince prospects that Mormons believe in the biblical Jesus. But Paul warned of deceivers who would lure Christians away from “the simplicity that is in Christ.” These false teachers preached “another Jesus” and “another gospel” (2 Corinthians 11: 3-4) and were accursed (see Galatians 1:8-9). How interesting that Paul also cautions against false apostles, such as those in the Mormon Church (2 Corinthians 11:13-14).

So which Jesus and gospel do Mormons preach? While a missionary, I taught that Christ was the firstborn spirit child of the Father in a premortal life. (The remainder of humanity was born as spirits later in this “pre-existence.”) But I didn’t tell prospects this was a literal birth, the result of literal fathering, as Mormon prophets and apostles have claimed. If asked, I taught that the devil was born as one of God’s noble spirit sons during the pre-existence, but had rebelled and started a war in heaven.

Consistent with Mormon doctrine, then, Christ and Satan are spirit brothers. But the Bible teaches that Christ is God (Isaiah 7:14; 9:6; John 1:1), that He has always been God (Psalm 90:2), and that He always will be God (Hebrews 13:8). Born into mortality some 2,000 years ago, Jesus is “God… manifest in the flesh” (1 Timothy 3:16). He is far grander and holier than “our Elder Brother,” as Mormons dub Him. Jesus and Satan aren’t spirit brothers, and true Christians don’t believe such blasphemy.

4. We’re the Only True Church

I usually told this lie during the first of seven 30-minute missionary lessons, which presented the Joseph Smith story. According to our script, Smith prayed in 1820 about which church to join. He claimed the Father and Son appeared and told him that all Christian churches of the day were wrong. Smith said he was forbidden to join any of them, that their creeds were abominable and their professors all corrupt. “They draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me,” the Lord allegedly added. “They teach for doctrines the commandments of men” (Joseph Smith — History, verse 19). In subsequent lessons, I told prospects that Mormonism is the true church God restored through Smith.

But the Bible says such a restoration was unnecessary. Admittedly, there was partial apostasy after Christ’s resurrection, but never a complete falling away. In fact, shortly before His crucifixion, Jesus promised that the gates of hell would not prevail against His church (Matthew 16:18). During my mission, however, I argued that the gates of hell did prevail against Christ’s church.

Shortly after renouncing Mormonism, I learned a scriptural death blow to notions of universal apostasy. Addressing Ephesian believers 30 years after the Ascension, the Apostle Paul writes, “Unto [God] be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen” (Ephesians 3:21). God received glory in the Christian church from the time of Paul’s writing to the present day, and He will receive such glory throughout all succeeding generations. Therefore, the church must exist from Paul’s day throughout eternity. This annihilates Mormon claims of complete apostasy and makes restoration of Christ’s church impossible.

5. We Have a Living Prophet

Whether in wintry Winnipeg or the balmy Black Hills of Rapid City, I criticized Christians because their church lacked a living prophet. Mormons claim the true church must have one. My favorite Bible proof text to back this claim was Amos 3:7, which reads, “Surely, the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.”

When prospective converts remained skeptical of living prophets, I quoted Ephesians 4:11-14, which apparently requires living apostles and prophets until believers unify in the faith and understand Christ completely. However, writing in the past tense, Paul is actually referring to apostles and prophets of Jesus’ day. Otherwise, verse 11 would read that the Lord “is giving” or “will give” apostles and prophets. Of course, God did reveal His will through Old Testament prophets, as Amos 3:7 affirms. But for the last 2,000 years, He has spoken to believers through Christ (Hebrews 1:1-2).

The truth about Mormonism’s living prophets is further illuminated in Deuteronomy 18:22. “When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord,” the scripture reads, “if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.” Isaiah 8:20 contains a similar warning: “To the law and the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.”

False prophets who led ancient Israel astray received the death penalty (Deuteronomy 13:1-5; 18:20), and all who profess to be living prophets should consider the consequences. Mormon prophets might appear grandfatherly and sincere, but they’re not God’s living oracles. Since the Mormon Church was founded in 1830, its prophets have uttered a striking number of false prophecies. (See chapter 14 of Jerald and Sandra Tanner’s “The Changing World of Mormonism.”)

6. The Book of Mormon is Scripture

Joseph Smith claimed that the Book of Mormon is the most correct book on earth, adding that man would become closer to God by following its precepts than by obeying any other book (“History of the Church,” Vol. 4, p. 461). Replace “Book of Mormon” with “the Bible” and Smith would have told the truth.

When teaching missionary lessons, I boldly maintained that the Book of Mormon is scripture. I spent myriad hours convincing prospects that it’s a sacred record of Christ’s activities in the western hemisphere. Yet many Christians I contacted realized the book “borrows” heavily from the Bible and other sources. And in stark contrast to the Old and New Testaments, virtually no archaeological and anthropological evidence supports the Book of Mormon. Why not? Because it’s fiction. When Christians want to read scripture, they turn to the Bible.

7. You’re Saved By Works

More than any other Mormon lie, this undermines Christ’s atonement, which is the most sacred doctrine of the Bible. Mormons usually equate salvation with resurrection. Likewise, they refer to eternal life as “exaltation.” I did both while teaching prospective converts. I relished the church’s third Article of Faith, which claims, “through the atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.”

Trying to bridge the doctrinal divide between Mormons and Christians, I emphasized that salvation is by grace “after all we can do” (2 Nephi 25:23). What classic Mormon double-talk. Unmistakably, the Bible says eternal life is a gift from God (Romans 5:15; 6:23) to those who believe in Christ (John 6:47), call upon Him (Romans 10:13) and receive Him as Lord and Savior (John 1:12). Contrary to Mormon dogma, this gift cannot be awarded meritoriously.

Equally clear is that salvation results from God’s grace through each believer’s faith, not from obeying a checklist of laws and ordinances (Ephesians 2:8-9; 2 Timothy 1:9; Titus 3:5). All who confess Christ and believe in Him from the heart shall be saved (Romans 10:8-13).

Most Mormons know little about imputed righteousness — and neither did I during my mission. Essentially, as Christians know, the Lord credits believers with His perfect righteousness and charges their transgressions to His sinless spiritual “account.” Paul explains this doctrine masterfully in Romans 4 and 2 Corinthians 5:18-21.

When teaching the Mormon gospel, though, I emphatically denied imputed righteousness, which is the essence of the atonement. I stressed that eternal life is earned by perfect obedience to all gospel laws and ordinances. Yet the Bible says that “there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not” (Ecclesiastes 7:20). As the Psalmist writes: “They are all gone aside. They are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one” (Psalm 14:3; compare Romans 3:10-18).

How many Mormons perfectly obey all gospel laws? None. As the Bible asserts, even the church’s current prophet can’t keep God’s laws thoroughly enough to merit heaven (1 John 1:8). And if he can’t, how can anyone else?

8. People Can Become Gods

Given its explosive nature, this tenet was rarely shared with prospective converts. Missionaries try to entice people into Mormonism gradually, and presenting the doctrine of plural gods is seldom the best way. Several contacts learned the concept from their pastors or read about it on their own, but it was new to most prospects.

“Our Father in heaven loves us so much,” I often said, parroting our lesson script, “that He provided a plan [Mormonism] for us to become like him.” I didn’t mention that Mormon godhood includes spirit procreation throughout eternity. Neither did I hint that the Mormon God was formerly a mortal man, had lived on an earth like ours, and had earned salvation through good works. However, such polytheism strips God of glory and sovereignty. No wonder the Bible condemns it so strongly. When discussing plural gods on my mission, I sidestepped Isaiah 44:8 whenever possible. “Is there a God beside me?” the passage reads. “Yea, there is no God; I know not any.” Other verses amply testify that only one God exists in the universe (Deuteronomy 4:35, 39; 6:4; Isaiah 43:10-11; 45:21-23).

When confronted with these scriptures as a missionary, I usually countered with, “Those verses mean we worship only one God, that there’s only one God to us.” And if that failed, I lied further: “The Bible isn’t clear on this subject. Fortunately, the Lord told Joseph Smith that mortals can become gods.” Smith might have had a revelation, but not from God.

9. You’re Born Again By Becoming a Mormon

One of my favorite missionary scriptures was John 3:5. “Verily, verily I say unto you,” the Savior explains, “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” To Mormon missionaries everywhere, being born of water means baptism into the Mormon Church. Birth of the Spirit refers to the gift of the Holy Ghost, allegedly bestowed after baptism.

Unfortunately, during my mission, I didn’t know what it means to be born again. I completely misinterpreted Paul’s declaration that “if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17; compare Galatians 6:15). According to the Bible, believers in Christ are reborn spiritually as sons and daughters of God (John 1:12; 1 John 3:1-2). They experience a complete Christian conversion of mind and heart. Membership in a church organization might foster social activity and fellowship, but it’s not spiritual rebirth.

10. Temple Marriage is Required for Eternal Life

I participated in well over 100 Mormon temple ceremonies from 1975 to 1982, including my own marriage in 1977. Based heavily on freemasonry, temple rites are the church’s most carefully guarded secrets. And “celestial marriage,” which supposedly weds men and women eternally, is probably the most important temple ordinance. While a missionary, I frequently told prospects they needed temple marriage to gain eternal life.

Yet the Lord says marriage between men and women is irrelevant to the hereafter. “The children of this age marry, and are given in marriage,” He declares. “But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage… for they are equal unto the angels….” (Luke 20:34-36.)

The Bible does teach eternal marriage, but not the Mormon version. The union is between Christ, the Bridegroom, and His collective body of believers, who are the bride (Matthew 25:1-13; John 3:29; Romans 7:4; 2 Corinthians 11:2).

False Testimony

I close with a few words about “testimony,” which is a missionary’s emergency cord. When I couldn’t rebut an antagonistic statement scripturally, I fell back on my testimony. For instance, while proselyting in Grand Forks, North Dakota, I was once asked where the Bible mentions the secret undergarments Mormons wear. Caught off guard, I admitted that the Bible says nothing about them. I could merely testify that God revealed the need for these garments through living prophets. But my testimony wasn’t based on scripture or other hard evidence. Rather, it was founded on personal revelation, which is extremely subjective. Essentially, my testimony was nothing more than a good feeling about the church and its teachings. In Mormon parlance, it was a “burning in the bosom.” But burning or not, it wasn’t from God.

If you’re a Christian, I urge you to “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3). That faith, the pathway to heaven, is found only in the biblical Jesus (John 14:6). But if you’re a Mormon, it’s time to prayerfully re-examine your beliefs. Do you know you have everlasting life? No. Can you obey all the commandments perfectly and earn a place in heaven? You can’t.

I regret the many lies I told during my Mormon mission. When I received Christ, though, I confessed them (and my other sins) and received His forgiveness (1 John 1:9; Colossians 1:13-14). “He that heareth my word,” Christ assures us, “and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life” (John 5:24).

Loren Franck lives in Los Angeles, California, with his wife, Verlette, and their young son.

http://www.mrm.org/topics/evangelism-issues/ten-lies-i-told-a-mormon-missionary

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