Post Author: Darrell
In its short 180 year life, the Mormon Church has had a curious relationship with traditional Christianity. A quick look through Mormon history will demonstrate that the LDS Church has a long history of degrading Christian teachings. As a result, it is somewhat odd to find modern day LDS leaders referring to their church as a Christian denomination, for their desire to be denominated among groups they believe to be in utter error seems illogical.
Mormonism is founded upon the belief that it is not simply a Christian denomination, but is, rather, the restoration of true Christianity. This belief is based upon the claim by the founder of Mormonism, Joseph Smith, that God the Father and Jesus Christ appeared to him and called him as a prophet. Smith relates that in the course of their visit, Christ and the Father had some rather terse words regarding traditional Christianity:
I was answered that I must join none of [the Christian churches], for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: “they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof” [emphasis mine].
The belief that God holds the Christian creeds to be an abomination and all the Christian professors to be corrupt has led to some rather interesting statements by Mormon leaders. On July 26, 1857, second Prophet and President of the Mormon Church, Brigham Young, said that the Christian world is “like the captain and crew of a vessel on the ocean without a compass, and tossed to and fro whithersoever the wind listed to blow them. When the light came to [him], [he] saw that all the so−called Christian world was groveling in darkness.” On September 13, later the same year, Young said, “Ask them where heaven is? − where they are going to when they die? − where Paradise is? − and there is not a priest in the world that can answer your questions. Ask them what kind of a being our Heavenly Father is, and they cannot tell you so much as Balaam’s ass told him. They are more ignorant than children.” On September 16, 1860, he said, “The Christian world, so called, are heathens as to their knowledge of the salvation of God.”
Third Prophet of the LDS Church, John Taylor, also had some rather crude remarks regarding traditional Christianity. On January 17, 1858, he called Christianity “a perfect pack of nonsense.” On November 1, later the same year, he said, “Are Christians ignorant? Yes, as ignorant of the things of God as the brute beast.” In addition, he shared what is perhaps his most stinging comment on May 6, 1870, when he said, “What does the Christian world know about God? Nothing; yet these very men assume the right and power to tell others what they shall and what they shall not believe in. Why, so far as the things of God are concerned, they are the veriest [sic] fools; they know neither God nor the things of God.”
While the LDS Church appears to have toned down its rhetoric in recent years, the basic belief that it is the one and only true church on earth and that traditional Christianity was and is apostate remains unchanged. LDS Apostle James E. Talmage said in his 1965 book A Study of the Articles of Faith, that after the ministry of Jesus Christ “the Church was literally driven from the earth,” and that it remained in this state until the “restoration was effected by the Lord through the Prophet Joseph Smith.” In a 1972 Ensign article, LDS Apostle LeGrand Richards said, “At the time that Joseph Smith had his marvelous vision, there wasn’t a church in the world worshiping the God who made the heavens and the earth and the sea and the fountains of waters, and created man in his own image.”
As these comments demonstrate, the LDS Church continues to hold the longstanding belief that traditional Christianity is in utter error and that the Mormon Church is the only true church on the earth today. In addition, the comments demonstrate that even the leaders of the LDS Church realize the utter gulf that exists between the teachings of traditional Christianity and the teachings of the LDS Church. Because of these stark differences, traditional Christian teachings and LDS teachings cannot both be true, for if Mormons are correct about the nature of God, then Christians are in complete error. However, if Christians are correct about the nature of God, Mormons are in complete error. Consequently, the question left for discussion is exactly which teachings are correct. Are the teachings of the LDS Church correct? Are they in alignment with the Bible? I will explore these questions in the next few posts by highlighting three specific areas where the God of Mormonism differs from the God of the Bible. Stick around.