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“Each of us has to face the matter-either the Church is true, or it is a fraud. There is no middle ground. It is the Church and kingdom of God, or it is nothing.” Gordon B. Hinckley, LDS General Conference, Spring 2003

As Michael Carr noted in his essay “Is the LDS Church the One True Church” (See http://zarahemlacitylimits.com/essays/LosingBelief/one_true_church1.html), the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the “Church”, the “Mormon Church”, the “LDS Church”) and many other religious faiths promote the idea that their way of approaching god is either the only legitimate way, or the best way.

The “one true church” idea is particularly influential within the Mormon Church. While the Catholics, for example, have that belief on their books, it is my perception that it has little effect on the average Catholic. However, the daily behaviour and worldview of the average faithful Mormon is heavily influenced by this idea.

As I have deconstructed my experience within the Mormon Church, I have tried to understand where this idea comes from and how it has affected me. For the moment, however, I wish to focus on one small, but important, aspect of this issue. That is, why would the “one true church” idea be of value to religious leaders who are trying to persuade their followers to continue to follow?

I began to wonder about this question years ago when I noticed the frequency with which Church members and leaders repeated to each other what I have come to call the “one true church mantra”. That is, “The Church is true.” This is shorthand within the Mormon community for the concept that the Mormon Church is god’s one and only true church on the face of the earth – the sole organization with god’s authority to perform the ordinances necessary to unite families in the hereafter and to gain entry into god’s domain, known as the celestial kingdom.

The one true church mantra is repeated regularly when Mormons gather. It is included in virtually every talk or lesson given during Mormon meetings, including the daily religious instruction that most Mormon teenagers receive through the Seminary program. Church members are taught that it should be included each time they state their beliefs (known in the LDS community as “bearing testimony”), and hence it is repeated by virtually everyone (including small children) who bears testimony at the monthly meetings held by Mormon congregations for that purpose. Mormon families are encouraged to bear this testimony to each other at family gatherings, including weekly Family Home Evenings and during the daily scripture study sessions that they are encouraged to hold. It is at least the subtext, if not the text, of many daily family prayers. It regularly finds its place into correspondence between close friends and family members. To test my instinct in that regard, I just opened the family letter that I received from my father and mother this morning, and found their testimony stated both implicitly and explicitly. The one true church mantra also plays a role in Mormon music, and must be stated as a belief by anyone who wishes to enter a Mormon temple, even for the purpose of simply attending the wedding of a family member. Most mormon missionaries express their testimony, including the belief that the Church is “true”, many times a day throughout the course of their missionary service. Etc. It is beyond doubt that great resources within the Mormon community are devoted to hammering this idea into the collective and individual Mormon psyche.

My study of sociology over the years has led me to conclude that when a message of this sort is given a prominent place within a group of people that it must play an important function. That function is often quite different from what those inside the organization, with a limited view of how it affects them, might think. It took me years, and a trip outside of the Mormon Church, to put my finger on the one true church idea’s function.

It is my view that the “one true church” concept sets up a false dichotomy that makes it easier for religious leaders to control their followers. For example, if the Mormon Church is either 100% god’s true church, or a fraud, and I have a good feeling about some of my experience with it, does that not mean that the rest (about which I don’t have a good feeling) must all be true? Does this not mean that I must give complete obedience to Church authorities, even though some of what they tell me to do makes me feel uneasy, or even bad? Does it not mean that some theory yet to be discovered, or one of the current crop that appear to have miniscule probability of predicting reality, must eventually save the day on the Book of Mormon’s historicity and the multitude of other “reality” problems the Church’s foundational stories have? In these and other ways, the one true church idea greatly aids the Mormon faithful to make the willing suspension of disbelief required to remain faithful.

The “black v. white” approach at the heart of the one true church concept also facilitates the Church’s system of conversion and belief maintenance. Church members and potential converts are told to read the Book of Mormon and that they will have a good feeling about it. This may occur simply because the Book of Mormon has some good things to say. In my case, which is typical, the process was helped along by the fact that most of my Mormon friends and relatives regularly told me that they had these good feelings, while for some reason I had not. This created an anxiety in me that grew over a period of years, and became acute as the time for me to commit to serve a mission approached, and my friends were making that commitment.

I accepted the idea that the Church must be completely true or completely false. I had been taught that from early childhood, and did not have a frame of reference within which I could question it. I also felt some good things when I read the Book of Mormon, and my anxiety started to dissipate as I experienced the nascent feeling that the book was “true”. The psychologists and brain architecture researchers tell us that the combination of the above elements is enough to create a minor epiphany, which is how I would describe the moment at which I was struck by the realization that the whole thing MUST BE TRUE! This experience became the unshakable bedrock on which my testimony stood. And how could the whole thing be false if I have felt something so good about it? That part can’t be false. And from there the true – false dichotomy led me to the conclusion that the whole thing must be true. The Church then encouraged me to express this belief, in the form of my testimony, on a regular basis in the fashion described above. This drilled my newfound belief deep into my subconscious. It is my view that the primary function of the LDS missionary program is just that: to engrain as deeply as possible the one true church mantra in the group of people traditionally the most likely to question the values of any group – young males.

And what about belief and its connection to guilt and from there to control? If the whole thing is true, then I am subject to a massive body of requirements each one of which is a source of guilt, and hence a control lever. If I feel at liberty to believe what I choose, most of my guilt goes away, and with it goes most of the Church’s ability to get me to do what it wants.

During my twenty-year plus tenure as a Mormon leader, I heard the terms “cafeteria style Mormons” or “cultural Mormons” used pejoratively to refer to members of the LDS Church who were not as obedient to leadership dictates as the leaders wished them to be. Such members are not as dedicated, obedient etc. as their “faithful” peers, and the leaders fear that such a lax attitude could spread like a form of cancer. This scares the leadership, as do intellectuals who talk openly about problems related to the Book of Mormon’s historicity and certain distasteful aspects of Joseph Smith’s history. In particular, the leaders fear those Mormons who are prepared to accept that the Book of Mormon contains some inspired writing, but that Joseph Smith made many mistakes while writing it that they are free to reject. If members of the Church feel free to reject some of what Joseph Smith said, they will surely feel free to reject the parts of what current leaders say that do not suit them. This is what the leaders most fear. This approach is a much greater threat to Church leadership than are rabid anti-Mormons.

Cultural Mormons do not do what they are told unless it makes sense, and hence they erode leadership authority. And if they are natural leaders, their attitudes are likely to affect the masses. The sheppard (if not the flock) is better off without such sheep. Hence when they are identified, they must at a minimum be silenced (as long as you are silent, you will be left alone but perhaps watched carefully), but preferably brought back into line. Those who will not get back into line are excommunicated, or as was the case with me, hand in their membership when talk of a “court of love” being held in their honour becomes serious.

To test the sensibility of the black v. white approach, try to think of any other aspect of life in which it would serve us well as a decision making model. Do we accept all of what any school of political thought tells us? How about parenting or child rearing theory? Relationship theory? Educational theory? Economics? Medicine? I cannot think of any other aspect of life in which I would be comfortable accepting the ideas that come from a single source as being my sole guide. Religious belief, in my life, had been established as a unique phenomenon, respecting which all of the rules that governed the remainder of my life were suspended. My acceptance of the one true church concept is what made this possible.

The one true church concept broke down for me as I became aware of numerous other religious belief systems that controlled their followers in precisely the way I was controlled by mine, using the same tools. The theories accepted by these communities were contradictory to those accepted in my community. However, the nature of leadership control was much the same. For many years, I assumed that against all odds my community had the truth and all others were mistaken. As I gradually became aware of the errors that Mormon leadership had made over the years, the lights began to come on. My community was as errant as the others. But, the leaders of my community had much in common with the other religious leaders for whom I had been taught to have disdain. And Mormonism’s current leaders were the ones who set up the system designed to keep faithful Mormons, such as me, from understanding their own religious heritage through its history, and hence from understanding the nature of the errors Mormon leaders have made. Guess toward whom the disdain I was taught to have has now been turned?

Here is a more extensive quote from President Hinkley’s talk that is referred to above. There is nothing unusual about it. Countless others of a similar nature could be found. I use this one because it is the most recent I could find.

The book of Revelation declares: “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth” (Revelation 3:15-16). …

Each of us has to face the matter – either the Church is true, or it is a fraud. There is no middle ground. It is the Church and kingdom of God, or it is nothing.

This is classic scare/control message, particularly when linked to the rest of LDS dogma in the manner indicated above. It is my view that Church and how it operates make the most sense when viewed through a control/authority paradigm. As soon as I began to use that paradigm to try to understand how the Church has influenced me, things came into focus and I was able to both find the threads that unite my past experience and predict with a high probability of success where things were headed. The “one true church” idea is near the foundation of the LDS control and authority oriented system of religious belief.

As one writer I recently read put it, the question is whether we have religious faith, or whether religious faith has us. If we are well enough informed about what our faith is and how it works in our lives to use it to help us live a full and joyous life, then we have religious faith. If, on the other hand, our beliefs are used by others to control us, then our faith has us. Those others need not be current religious leaders. It is possible to surrender our free will to people who wrote books thousands of years ago that purport to tell us what we should do, or even to abstractions of our own invention.

I have resolved to do what I can to ensure that from now on I have faith, instead of being had by it.

http://zarahemlacitylimits.com/essays/one_true_church.html

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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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SALVATION EXPOSED TO THE LIGHT OF BIBLE

MORMON SALVATION

LDS teaching on salvation is that Christ’s atonement only covers universal resurrection, which amounts to damnation. They go on to say that the right to forgiveness of personal sins has to be earned by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the LDS organization, plus virtuous living. Furthermore, salvation is available through their church alone, and then only if you have accepted Joseph Smith as God’s true prophet:

Those who gain only this general or unconditional salvation will still be judged according to their works and receive their places in a terrestrial or telestial kingdom. They will therefore be damned. (LDS Apostle McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, page 669). (Author’s italics)

There is no salvation outside The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (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.)

The first effect [of the atonement] is to secure to all mankind alike, exemption from the penalty of the fall, thus providing a plan of General Salvation. The second effect is to open a way for Individual Salvation whereby mankind may secure remission of personal sins. As these sins are the result of individual acts, it is just that forgiveness for them should be conditioned on individual compliance with prescribed requirements, obedience to the laws and ordinances of the [LDS] Gospel. (LDS Apostle James Talmage, Articles of Faith, page 87). (Author’s italics)

None of the above teachings will be found anywhere in the Bible. They are exclusive to Mormonism and actually contradict what the Bible teaches. Regardless of this fact, the LDS consistently uses biblical terminology when referring to their teachings, including their teachings on salvation. But in order to fit these biblical terms in with their unbiblical doctrines, they have had to give them completely different meanings (which will not be found in any dictionary). For instance, they call universal resurrection, which they say does not cover forgiveness of sins and amounts to damnation, “salvation by grace.”

A BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF BIBLICAL SALVATION

“Salvation” as a biblical term means being rescued or saved from both the penalty of sin and its power over us. So it covers the forgiveness of all our sins. And because our sins form an effective barrier between ourselves and a holy God, salvation from sin also has the effect of reconciling us to God, through Christ the Saviour.

Biblical salvation is by grace through faith in Christ alone. In other words we don’t have to earn the right to forgiveness of sins. Christ earned the right to our forgiveness on our behalf, by taking the punishment we deserve on Himself in His atonement on the cross at Calvary. The following are just some of the very many verses in the Bible that teach salvation from personal sin by grace through faith in Christ:

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)

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9, KJV)

Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us ….. (Titus 3:5, KJV)

In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: (Colossians 1:14 KJV)

Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:3, KJV)

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

And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross (Colossians 2:13-14, KJV). (Italics inserted by writer.)

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)

As will be seen, the above scriptures invalidate the following LDS claims regarding salvation:
That we have to earn the right to forgiveness of our personal sins; That we have to believe that Joseph Smith is the true prophet of God; That we have to obey the laws and ordinances of the LDS Church; and That salvation is only available through the LDS Church.

SALVATION THROUGH A SUBSTITUTIONARY SACRIFICE

The Bible is a fascinating book. Concepts that aren’t always all that easy to understand are explained by the use of types and “pictures.” One such concept is salvation from sin through a substitutionary sacrifice.

Nowhere in the Bible has God ever told mankind that they would have to earn the right to forgiveness of their sins. Instead, in the Old Testament He instituted the substitutionary sacrifice. The sinner was required to take an unblemished animal to the altar. Then he had to place his hand upon its head to indicate that it was to be his substitute and would die in his place, to cover his sin (Leviticus 1:4, 4:29,33). This was a picture of the coming, promised Messiah who would sacrifice His life to pay the full penalty for the sins of those who indicate by faith, that He is their substitute sin bearer.

Scattered throughout the Old Testament, starting in Genesis, God gave His people a series of ongoing messianic prophecies. And in fulfillment of those prophecies, in the fullness of time the Lord Jesus Christ came down to earth to give Himself as the final, once-for-all substitutionary offering for sin. He selflessly and heroically took our place on the cross at Calvary and bore the shame, the disgrace and the punishment that we rightly deserve, because of our sins. As Eugene Peterson so aptly puts it in ‘The Message,’ “God put the wrong on him who never did anything wrong, so we could be put right with God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)

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

[John the baptist, who was God’s prophet] seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. (John 1:29, 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)

Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree ….. (1 Peter 2:24, KJV)

BAPTISM PORTRAYS SUBSTITUTIONARY SACRIFICE

Besides being a public testimony of the believer’s faith in Christ, Christian baptism is also a symbolic rite that portrays Christ’s substitutionary sacrifice as it applies to the believer. For this reason it was the norm in the primitive church for believers to be baptized immediately after they had come to faith in Christ, and had been spiritually regenerated (Acts 2:41, 8:12, 16:15, 16:33, 18:18, 19:5.)

Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. (Romans 6:3-4, KJV)

Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses. (Colossians 2:12-13, KJV)

As a believer, in undergoing baptism by immersion I symbolically re-enact Christ’s death and resurrection. It’s my way of publicly acknowledging that Christ is my Saviour. To free me from the condemnation of my sin, He became my substitute and took the punishment due to me on Himself, on my behalf. So when He died, it was the same as if I had died — He represented me, so “in Him” I died too. As I go under the waters of baptism, it portrays my death “in Him” to the penalty of the Law, as well as to the sinful fleshly life. When He arose from the grave, He arose as my substitute: It was the same as if I had arisen. So as I rise up out of the water, it portrays my resurrection “in Christ,” to a new life, “in Him.” This is what is known as the exchanged life. Paul describes it as follows:

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. (Galations 2:20, KJV)

From the moment of his salvation (i.e. his regeneration or new birth), the life of the believer is intrinsically intertwined with that of His beloved Savior.

THE REASON FOR THE OLD AND THE NEW COVENANTS

Had they fully kept all God’s laws and ordinances provided under the Old Covenant, the Israelites would have led a lifestyle that fulfilled God’s requirements for righteousness. But the sad fact was that they were unable to do this. In spite of having God’s laws, as well as His guidance and protection, they still kept falling into sin. The continuous pall of smoke arising from the sacrificial altar where they burned their sin offerings bore mute testimony to this fact.

The problem was not with God’s laws, but with mankind. His laws are good, but we are a fallen people. And try as we may, we cannot live up to His standards of righteousness. Not for long, anyway. No matter how hard man has tried he has never ever been able to overcome his tendency to sin in thought, word and deed.

Reformation, education and social upliftment don’t do the trick either, because the problem is not our environment, lack of opportunities or education; it is our fallen “selves.” Pogo hit the nail on the head when he said, “We have met the enemy and he is us.” And as Dr. McGee so aptly put it, “You can take the man out of the slum, but you can’t take the slum out of the man.” It is a sad fact of life that countries enjoying a high standard of living, low unemployment, and excellent educational opportunities, still have overflowing prison cells.

The apostle Paul described his frustrations at one stage with his own personal battle to live a holy life, complaining that he kept doing the things he knew he shouldn’t do and really didn’t want himself to do. And that although in his mind he knew that God’s ways were good and right, he kept straying from them. (Romans 7:7-25).

The Bible makes it clear that because of our fallen natures we do not have it within ourselves to live according to God’s standards of righteousness. In order to bring mankind to the realization of the gravity of his situation and the dilemma he faces, God put into effect the Old Covenant of Law. And as we have seen, even although the Israelites were God’s chosen nation and enjoyed all the privileges and advantages that this entailed, they still failed miserably in their attempts to keep the His righteous laws fully.

That was because Laws and Ordinances didn’t have the power to save anyone. They merely declared the holiness of God and revealed the depravity of mankind. But then they were never intended to save. The epistle of Galations explains that God merely used the Old Covenant of Law as a teacher, to show fallen mankind his utter inability to live according to His standards of righteousness. This in turn revealed his desperate need for a Saviour:

Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law. But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. (Galations 3:21-25, KJV)

As Lehman Strauss says in his ‘Doctrine of Salvation,’ “The idea of attaining salvation through self-effort and good works is a fundamental characteristic of human nature. But try as hard as one will, he cannot remove the guilt and penalty of his own sins.”

For this reason, in His wisdom and mercy, God has provided a way of salvation through Christ, under the New Covenant of Grace, that was tailor-made for the fallenness of man and caters for every eventuality and possibility. Solely because of God’s undeserved mercy towards us, whosoever trusts in Christ will receive forgiveness of sins, freedom from guilt and reconciliation with God.

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, (Romans 8:1, KJV)

THE CONSEQUENCES OF MORMON SALVATION

In spite of the clear and consistent teachings in the Bible on the forgiveness of our sins through Christ’s atoning sacrifice, the LDS Church has deliberately led their membership away from the way of salvation that God Himself has laid down for us, and has decreed that Mormons must earn the right to their own salvation. They insist that this is far better than the way of grace that God Himself has provided. And in spite of the fact that God has proved conclusively that man couldn’t keep the Laws and Ordinances that they already had, the LDS has added more of their own.

Mormons need to ask themselves where their teaching came from, because it directly contradicts everything that God has taught us about salvation throughout the entire Bible. So it couldn’t have come from Him.

Just as the apostle Paul knew, Mormons also know deep down in their hearts that their lives don’t come up to God’s holy standards. But they placate themselves with the knowledge that going to the second degree of glory after they die won’t be so bad. After all, they have been taught that even the lowest degree of glory is more beautiful than anything they could ever imagine.

However, the LDS story of the three degrees of glory is not the way it’s going to be. They are the deceptions of a false prophet. God never ever gives His prophets revelations that contradict what He has already revealed to us. He is not a God of confusion. His Word is truth, and the main ingredient in truth is its consistency. It never ever changes. Nor is it contradictory. And God’s Word, the Bible very clearly teaches that there are only two final destinations after we die. We will either go to the place where Christ and God are, which is called heaven, or else we will be consigned to eternal separation from both the presence and the influence of God in a place called hell.

Heaven will consist only of folk who have elected to follow God’s ways, including His way of salvation from sin. Those in hell will be folk who would rather do things their own way. And God will allow them this right, eternally, but not in His kingdom of heaven. After all, if those who insisted on doing things their own way instead of God’s way were allowed into heaven, it would eventually become more like hell, wouldn’t it?

It’s not God’s desire that anyone should be end up in hell. But if we choose to spurn His way of salvation in preference to our own ideas, then we will we will end up facing His judgment.

Mormons need to give serious thought to the unlikelihood of their being able to earn the right to the forgiveness of their own sins, in the light of what the Bible reveals; as well as to the eternal ramifications of their choice; bearing in mind that the Bible clearly teaches only two destinations after death — heaven or hell.

The following articles explain the basics of the biblical way of salvation and the error in the LDS teaching on the three degrees of glory:

What is Biblical Salvation?

Biblical Salvation and the way of Christ

The Three Degrees of Glory

You are welcome to contact the writer at the following email address:

reply@bibtruth.com

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

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