Last week a soprano from the famed Mormon Tabernacle choir refused to sing at Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration (according to CNN) citing:
“… I have spent several sleepless nights and days in turmoil and agony. I have reflected carefully on both sides of the issue, prayed a lot … and searched my soul… I could never look myself in the mirror again with self-respect.”
CNN reported that Chamberlin sees the choir’s singing for Trump as a betrayal of Mormon values — According to CNN, the President-elect, with his bigotry and braggadocio, supposedly “Personifies nearly everything the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or LDS, teaches against.”
While I agree that Ms. Chamberlin reserves the right to bow out of her performance, and have no reason to personally question her ethics, her position and subsequent statements present an interesting question for Christianity at large. The question goes something like this:
What does Mormonism teach about bigotry and braggadocio? Specifically, is it really a belief system founded on purest Christian ideals? Furthermore, does it have a right to make judgments on the character of another?
Since 1990, the Mormon Church has made an intentional effort to integrate its belief system into evangelical christian culture. This movement demanded various parts of LDS doctrine be abandoned and temples be transformed. Yet, what rests behind the temples and shrines, isn’t as “Christian” as you’d like to think.
To properly assess whether a religious system is outside the bounds of biblical Christianity, one must first define the boundaries of what rests inside biblical Christianity. One term most often used to define the biblically and historically critical foundations of Christian belief is “orthodoxy” meaning, “authorized” or “generally accepted” belief, and that is the term we will use throughout this study.
In order to understand how Mormonism stands outside of Christian orthodoxy, the observer must first accept the tenants historically deemed vital to Christian orthodoxy, including but not limited to: 1) the inerrancy of Scripture, 2) the virgin birth of Christ, 3) the deity of Christ, 4) the Holy Trinity, 5) the Gospel, 6) the resurrection of Christ, 7) the literal return of Christ.
I believe you’ll be amazed at how many core Mormon beliefs stand outside the bounds of Christian orthodoxy. Out of love for the Mormon reader, I’ve documented each quote so they may review on their own. For an expanded view of all mentioned here, view the Complete Handbook of Mormonism by Ed Decker, Harvest House Publishers, 1995.
What are the Mormon beliefs outside the bounds of Christian Orthodoxy?
Authority of the Bible
The official articles of faith for Mormonism state, “We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.” Joseph Smith taught that the Book of Mormon was the modern and inspired version of the Bible and Mormon publication Ensign magazine published the following in 1992, “…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. (pg. 80)
What does the Bible say about further revelation helping the Bible? Mark 13:31 “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words [logoi] shall not pass away.” 2 Timothy 3:16 “All scripture [pasa graphe] is given by inspiration of God [theopneustos], and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” When Jesus says “my words” He means the Word of God, the essential expression of the nature of God. Using “pasa graphe” Paul references all of the OT Scriptures meaning that in two verses alone we have the entire OT canon and all of the words by Christ self-proclaimed as perfects words from God. Of course, if Luke wrote these words, and traveled with Paul, who clearly trusted Peter, and Peter said that the Scriptures were an even better testimony than his own eyewitness account (2 Peter 1:19-21) then the Bible leaves no room for any further revelation.
What are the Errors of the Mormon Scriptures? Between the Book of Mormon, Pearl of Great Price, and Doctrine & Covenants, there are hundreds of contradictions with Scripture and with one another.
1. The Book of Mormon. Mormons believe the Book of Mormon is the account of God’s dealing with Jewish people in the New World (America) from BC 2247 – AD 421. Jesus came around 33AD, brought earthquakes, wiped out people, and ascended in a pillar of light, leaving twelve new apostles, and one angel Moroni, who took golden plates of these truths and hid them in a hill called Cumorah, where Joseph Smith discovered them in the early 1800s, translating them into the Book of Mormon. To date, there have been over 4,000 changes made to this supposed perfect New Testament! (Remarkable since Smith said the plates were translated letter by letter “by the power of God.” [History of the Church, pp. 54-55]. A few examples:
- Jesus had a heavenly mother, then didn’t (Nephi, p. 25, 1830)
- Jesus and Father the same, then weren’t (1 Nephi p. 25 1830)
- White people now termed pure people (2 Nephi, p. 117 1830)
- Directors suddenly become interpreters (Alma p. 328 1830)
- French word “adieu” apparently used by an American angel speaking Hebrew circa AD 421 (Jacob 7:27).
2. The Book of Abraham. In the Pearl of Great Price, Joseph Smith wrote the Book of Abraham, supposedly translated from hieroglyphs on papyrus found inside an Egyptian mummy in Kirtland Missouri. [History of the Church, vol. 2, pp. 235-36, 348-51]. Smith’s book ended up thousands of words in length and became a Mormon scripture. In 1967 eleven fragments of the original papyrus were discovered in the NY Museum of Art, and Egyptologists have since proven it to be a short 75-word pagan funeral text, not the story of Abraham. In some cases Smith translated upwards of 3,000 words from a single Egyptian character representing the letter “E.”
3. The City of Zion. In 1838 Joseph Smith tried to lay claim to a small town called Spring Hill, Missouri telling everyone “this was the place Adam and Eve were cast out of the Garden of Eden.” [Doctrine & Covenants 107:53-56] Smith later stated that this would be the location of the New Jerusalem. [Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 3, p. 74] Apparently the Book for Mormon held a poor grasp of global geography as Genesis explains the Garden of Eden near Mesopotamia and between the rivers Tigris and Euphrates.
The Jesus of Mormonism is very different from the Jesus of Christianity. The LDS Jesus is an older brother, or forerunner, from life before time, where all people lived with one of many heavenly father’s (and mother’s) named Elohim, near the great star Kolob. Jesus is not God, not born of a virgin, and can’t save from sin. [Note: Since 1990 many Mormons will say that Jesus is in fact “Savior” because they don’t know the fundamental doctrines of their own church.]
What does the Bible Teach About Jesus? He is the unique Son of God, born of a virgin in Bethlehem, representing deity and humanity in indivisible oneness, so that He may reveal God and redeem man (John 5:23, John 10:36-38, John 14:9-10, 1 Peter 1:18-19).
What do Mormons Teach About Jesus? Mormons are confused about Jesus, believing Him to be a pointer to God, but not God, and not able to save. Like every cult “another Jesus” or unbiblical Jesus (2 Cor 11:14), is taught. The LDS church says, “Christians speak often of the blood of Christ and its cleansing power… it is nonsense and so palpably false that to believe it is to lose one’s salvation. [What the Mormons Think of Christ, p. 22, 1976]
1. Jesus Killed Many People. 3 Nephi chapters 8-9 say that while Christ was crucified, “the city of Zarahemla and city of Moroni… did sink into the sea and the inhabitants were drowned…” The Book of Mormon has Jesus continually wiping out millions of people. Of course Matthew 27 tells us that Jesus hung on the cross saying, “Father, forgive them…”
2. Jesus Was Married. Multiple LDS journals teach that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene and Mary and Martha and allowed guardian angels watch while they have sex. [Pratt, The Seer, p. 159]
In 1963 the LDS president-prophet Joseph Fielding Smith was asked, “Was Christ Married” and responded, “Isaiah 53:10 reads, ‘he shall see His seed…’ What is meant by ‘he shall see his seed?’ Does this mean that Christ had children?” President Smith then wrote in handwriting, “Mosiah 15:10-12. Please read your Book of Mormon! Yes, he was married! But do not preach it!”
3. Jesus Doesn’t Save. The bedrock foundation of Mormonism is called Eternal Progression and summed up, “As man is, God once was, and as God is, man may become.” To be saved, Mormons believe: 1) Trillions of planets are managed by countless gods 2) One of these planets held Elohim and his spirit wife 3) This heavenly father and many wives live on planet Kolob 4) They sexually produced billions of spirit children 5) Two of Elohim’s oldest sons are Jesus and Lucifer 6) Those following Jesus were white, Lucifer black 7) Elohim and one of his wives were actually Adam and Eve 8) Jesus came to the Americas to teach 9) Joseph Smith found the gold tablets and discovered these truths 10) If Mormons give their money, stay pure, perform temple ritual, they’ll arrive in third heaven (celestial, terrestrial, telestial) to stand before Joseph Smith, Elohim, and Jesus.
Remarkably, 80% of Mormons have never learned that this is their synthesized theology: If you put all of this together they’ll outright deny it, but if you break down each section they’ll assent that each is true.
Men Become Gods
LDS doctrine teaches that a committed Mormon can bypass the first heaven and eventually become god of his own planet. “Salvation in its true and full sense is synonymous with exaltation and consists in gaining an inheritance in the highest of three celestial kingdoms… This full salvation is obtained in and through the continuation of the family unit in eternity, and those who obtain it are gods. [Mormon Doctrine, p. 670]
- The Mormon god is an exalted and resurrected man while the Christian God is Spirit (John 4:24)
- The Mormon god is evolved from another male while the Christian God is not a son of man (Number 23:19)
- The Mormon god is limited in power while the Christian God is all-powerful (Matthew 19:26)
- The Mormon god is unable to create from nothing while the Christian God made the universe from nothing (Heb 11:3)
Mormonism is the Gospel
In Mormon speak the term “gospel” means Mormonism. Bruce McConkie writes, “And gave unto (Joseph Smith) commandments which inspired him; and gave him power from on high… to translate the Book of Mormon; which contains a record of a fallen people, and the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ…” [Doctrine and Covenants, 20:7-9]
Mormonism exists because it views itself as the true church. According to LDS founder Joseph Smith, all Christians were apostate by the year 1800, and he received a visitation from the Lord, to start Christianity over, “(the Lord) answered that I must join none of them (churches), for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight. [Pearl of Great Price, 2:18-19]. Early Mormon apostle Orson Pratt was even more clear stating, “Catholics and Protestants are nothing less than the ‘Whore of Babylon’ whom the Lord denounces…” [The Seer, p. 255]
False Prophets & Teachers
Now, we turn from the written to the writers themselves. Mormonism holds that leaders such as Joseph Smith and Brigham Young were modern prophets of God’s word. However, these men lived highly immoral lives and repeatedly adjusted their own teachings.
What does the Bible say about prophecy? A simple syllogism will quantify the Bible’s instruction on prophets and prophecy: God does not change (Malachi 3:6), a prophet who claims to speak for God cannot change God’s message (Deut 13:1-4).
What are the errors by Mormon prophets? We can utilize the previous syllogism to explain the fundamental flaw of Mormon prophets: God does not change (Malachi 3:6), a prophet who claims to speak for God cannot change the message (Deut 13:1-4), Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and subsequent church leaders, constantly change their message [as mentioned, the Book of Mormon has been changed 4,000 times] meaning they can’t be prophets from God:
- The 1835 edition Doctrine & Covenants was 68 pages and 20,000 words. Entire chapters of this doctrinal framework have been deleted from LDS teaching. It’s pretty clear why pages have been removed. Section CI (pp 251-52) was titled “Marriage” and stated that adultery was wrong, meanwhile Joseph Smith was publicly involved with seventeen women, including underage orphan girls. [No Man Knows My History, p. 181]. In 1976 an entire paragraph from The History of the Church had been left out [History, 2:380-81] because they contain four prophesies of Joseph Smith, including one about Brigham Young, that never came true.
- Joseph Smith and fellow prophets were not just sinners of “youth” nor sinners from “ignorance” but men intentionally engaged in profane acts that God countermands (i.e. perjury, adultery, murder, etc). Just 30 days before being killed by a mob in jail, Smith wrote, “I have more to boast of than any man. I am the only man that has ever been able to keep a whole together since the days of Adam. Neither Paul, John, Peter, nor Jesus ever did it. I boast that no man ever did such a work as I. The follower of Jesus ran away from him; but the Latter-day Saints never ran away from me.” [History of the Church, vol. 6:408-09]
- Joseph Smith was a Free Mason. Smith engaged in all of the rituals of Masonry which is why the modern LDS temple endowments still utilize so much Gnostic and Masonic symbolism (i.e. three tier room, aprons, ritual handshake, penalties [c. -1990], square, compass) [History of the Church, vol. 4, pp 551-52]
- Joseph Smith did black magic. He engaged in astrology (Quinn, pp. 59-63), magic circles (ibid, p. 53), peep stones (ibid, p. 41), conjuration of spirits (ibid, p. 122-28), his wife described the Book of Mormon translated by crystal ball (The Saints’ Herald, May 19, 1888, p. 310) and a Jupiter talisman was found on Smith’s body at death, proving he was a wizard of the black art called Key of Solomon (Is There No Help for a Widow’s Son?, 1980, p. 22ff)
- LDS prophets were racist. The LDS church did not allow blacks hold priesthood until 1978 because they were “less valiant” in their battle against Lucifer. [Doctrine, 1966 edition, p. 528] The original prophets recanted. According to Smith, there were three witnesses who also saw the golden tablets of the angel Moroni – Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and Martin Harris. In 1838 Cowdery confronted Smith on his adultery with Fanny Alger and left for the Methodist church, Whitmer left to be prophet of the New Church of Christ, and Harris became a Shaker and recanted the statement that he ever “saw the golden tablet with natural eyes.” (see History of the Church, vol. 3, pp 16-18, Biographical Sketches, Lucy Smith, pp. 211-13, and Gleanings by the Way, J.A. Clark, pp. 256-27)
- LDS prophets commit adultery and pedophilia. Smith had up to seventeen wives. Likewise, many LDS prophets have consummated “celestial marriages” with multiple women (some very young) and married other men’s wives, stating this as an eternal union and “ordained by God.” A frightening report in the Salt Lake Tribune surfaced in 1991. The “Pace Report” (conducted by Bishop Glenn Pace) conducted an in-house LDS survey incriminating over 800 LDS leaders of occult rituals, orgies, and child abuse in one region alone. [Decker, Complete Handbook to Mormonism, p. 310]
Based on these facts (and hundreds which I’ve not mentioned) Mormonism is clearly not Christian and retains no right to discern what is morally appropriate for Donald Trump nor anyone else. Ultimately, LDS doctrines are rooted in deception, founded by men of gross evils, stealing hearts away from the truth and sacrifice of the true God, Jesus Christ, who offers forgiveness of sins and eternal life to all who believe. By and large, many Mormons themselves are “innocents” caught within a system they know little about, and need our prayer and evangelism.