Saturday, April 21, 2012

World Religions: Christianity and Mormonism

I apologize if this is too long for some of you to read right now, or if it's too confusing. But, I'm sharing basically everything that I know and have learned during my research. So I really hope you guys learn some new things and I pray that God will use this to get you closer to him; whether it's by tearing down old strongholds and pointing you to the truth, building your confidence and faith in him. :] 

Let's jump in. xD

At a glance, the Mormons believe a lot of the same things we do. They believe in God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob; they believe that Jesus is the Son of God; they believe in the Holy Spirit; and they believe that the bible is the word of God.(second to the Book of Mormon, of course.)But after that is when the similarities begin to fade. The main difference is Mormons believe that in 1820, a young fourteen year-old boy named Joseph Smith had visions where he literally saw God and Jesus. Three years later, at 17, it's said that an angel named Moroni lead him to the location of two golden plates. The plates are believed to have written on them the entire history of two ancient, Native American Christian tribes. They believe Joseph Smith to have translated what was on the plates (written in "reformed Egyptian") into English, calling the finished book, the Book of Mormon. Mormons believe it to also be the Word of God, some even giving it a higher position than the bible itself. 
But there are many areas where Mormon beliefs seriously conflict with the bible.

Trinity vs. Godhead 
For one, Mormons don't believe in the Trinity. They believe in a Godhead: 
  • God the Father
  • Jesus the Son
  • and the Holy Spirit
Three separate, independent, beings, who are one in purpose, but aren't one God.Another way to picture this, is like the Miami Heat's big three: Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh. They're three separate people, but share one purpose.(winning ball games)That's basically how Mormons view the Godhead. Three separate Gods, that are one in purpose. 
But there's a major flaw in this. God the Father repeatedly said in Exodus 20:3, and in Deuteronomy 5:7,
 "You shall have no other gods before me." 
So the Father just said you should have no other gods before him. Jesus and the Holy Spirit would be gods before him. This would actually be polytheism, the belief in more than one god. So if the Godhead were correct, we would be worshiping three gods instead of one. Which is idolatry in the Father's eyes. 
The Trinity is different. The Trinity says that there is one God. One God, consisting of three separate 'beings', that are one person: the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. They are coexistent and coequal, and while possessing different traits and characteristics, are still one God. This is supported by John 10:30; "I and the Father are one.", and Acts 5: 3-4; when Peter was talking to a man trying to deceive them. "Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? ... You have not lied just to human beings but to God." (NIV translation) Notice Peter said "You lied to the Holy Spirit," then followed it up by "you haven't only lied to humans, but to God." If the Holy Spirit was not God himself, Peter would have simply stated "you lied to the Holy Spirit." But no, he made it very clear to Ananias that he lied to the Holy Spirit, and to God. That implies that the Holy Spirit and God are one. 
 That would make the Holy Spirit God, along with Jesus, and the Father. This supports the Trinity, and shows it has biblical truth, unlike the Godhead.

13 Articles of Faith 
My next point is on the "13 Articles of Faith". These were written by Joseph Smith, and express the basic and core Mormon beliefs. I copied and pasted them below, from this awesome website called religionfacts.
  1. We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.
  2.  We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam's transgression.
  3.  We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.
  4.  We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.
  5.  We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof.
  6.  We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth.
  7.  We believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, and so forth.
  8.  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.
  9.  We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.
  10.  We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built upon the American continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and, that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory.
  11.  We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.
  12.  We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.
  13.  We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul-We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.
Well the big things that don't follow the bible here, is what's needed for salvation, and what's needed to teach. 
According to the 13 Articles of Faith, the "Atonement of Christ" is not enough to save you. To be saved, you also need good works. The bible firmly rejects that idea. Ephesians 2:8, Galatians 3:5-6, Romans 11:6, Galatians 2:21, Romans 5:1, and many, many more verses, all say that we are justified only by faith. No good works can ever help you get to heaven. As Galatians 2:21 says, "I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness[a] were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose." So the 13 Articles are wrong at that point. 
Another area, is what must be done for a person to be able to preach. The fifth Article says "We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof." Look at Mark 16:15. And he [Jesus] said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation."
Jesus didn't lay hands on his disciples, nor did he call them by prophecy. Yet he gave them the mission of spreading the entire Gospel, all across the world. If Jesus didn't lay hands on his disciples so they could preach, why should we have to? There's no biblical evidence behind it; just another man made tradition. And Colossians 2:8 (NIV) says "See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ. "So the Articles are wrong in that area too.

After death
My third point, is what the Mormons believe happens after death. It's kinda hard to explain, so here's the passage on it from religionfacts.
"Mormons believe that all humans who die will live eternally. Their spirits will go to the spirit world, where they will undergo instruction and preparation. Then, "after a time," there will be the Resurrection, at which time the spirits will be reunited with their bodies forever. [1]Mormons believe in heaven, which is defined as "the place where God lives and the future home of those who follow Him." Faithful Mormons and their families will live in the presence of God and be rewarded in accordance with what they have done during their lives. [2]Joseph Smith also taught that families can live together forever in heaven if they are "sealed" through special temple ceremonies. [3]What about non-Mormons? "Those who choose not to follow our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ will receive a reward according to what they have done in this life, but they will not enjoy the glory of living in the presence of God." [4]Mormons do believe in hell. Those who did not repent while on Earth will experience a temporary hell after death (during the time that all spirits go to the spirit world before the Resurrection), but will have an opportunity to repent afterwards and avoid the eternal hell. Hell as an eternal place of misery it is inhabited only by Satan and those who explicitly reject "the Heavenly Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost" even after the period of instruction after death. [5]
First of all, the "spirit world", which described here as a place where spirits undergo instruction and preparation, doesn't exist. At least not according to the bible. Hebrews 9:27 (NLT) says, "And just as each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgment.This also speaks out against a temporary hell. The verse literally says that after someone dies, then comes judgement. No learning and preparation in-between. No escaping or eluding your judgement either. This is supported by Luke 16:19-31, the story of the rich man and Lazarus.

19 “There was a rich man who would dress in purple and fine linen, feasting lavishly every day. 20 But a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, was left at his gate. 21 He longed to be filled with what fell from the rich man’s table, but instead the dogs would come and lick his sores. 22 One day the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 And being in torment in Hades, he looked up and saw Abraham a long way off, with Lazarus at his side. 24 ‘Father Abraham!’ he called out, ‘Have mercy on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this flame!’    25 “‘Son,’ Abraham said, ‘remember that during your life you received your good things, just as Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here, while you are in agony. 26 Besides all this, a great chasm has been fixed between us and you, so that those who want to pass over from here to you cannot; neither can those from there cross over to us.’   27 “‘Father,’ he said, ‘then I beg you to send him to my father’s house— 28 because I have five brothers—to warn them, so they won’t also come to this place of torment.’   29 “But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them.’   30 “‘No, father Abraham,’ he said. ‘But if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’   31 “But he told him, ‘If they don’t listen to Moses and the prophets, they will not be persuaded if someone rises from the dead.’” (HCSB translation)
The passage shows by example, what happens when a person dies. (keep in mind though, that this is before Jesus died and resurrected.  The righteous at that time went with Abraham, as  heaven wasn't prepared yet.) Like before, there's no mention of a place like the spirit world, or a temporary hell. There's also no biblical evidence supporting "sealing families" through special ceremonies, or that at the resurrection we'll be reunited with our bodies.With all that being said, seeing how the bible very firmly debunks what Joseph Smith stated; that would make Joseph Smith wrong, as well as whatever else he taught that goes against the bible.
The Book of Mormon 
My final point, is the Book of Mormon. (finally xP) The Book of Mormon, is believed to be the entire recorded history of two Native American Christian tribes; the Nephites, and the Lamanites. 
According to the book, both tribes were descendents of an Israelite prophet named Lehi, who when God told him to leave Jerusalem in 600 BC, fled with his family, making their way to the southern part of the Arabia, where they built a ship and sailed all the way across the Pacific Ocean, to "the promised land", or America. Once settled, Lehi's two sons, Nephi and Laman, constantly struggled for leadership, eventually causing the group to split into two warring tribes; The Nephites, (who are usually shown as the good guys), and the Lamanites. (who are usually shown as the bad guys) The two groups fought constantly, until their last great battle in 421 AD, where the Lamanties wiped out all but one of the Nephites. The last surviving Nephite, named Moroni, buried the records of his people, written on golden plates, on the hill Cumorah. (somewhere near New York, I think.) The Lamanites then continued to thrive, and are supposedly the ancestors of modern day Native Americans.Hundreds of years later, a 17 year old youth named Joseph Smith, is directed by Moroni, who is now an angel, to the exact spot where the records are buried. He is then tasked with the responsibility of translating the plates into English, calling the finished project, "The Book of Mormon," after one of the people mentioned in the book.They're two other tribes mentioned too; the Jaredites, who are said to have come to America during the time of the tower of Babel, and the Mulekites, who lived during the Nephites' and Lamanites' time, eventually merging with the Nephites. 
Like I said earlier, Mormons believe this book to be the inspired word of God, along with the bible. But it has many flaws that a God inspired book wouldn't have. 
The first would be the racial prejudices. The Book of Mormon was put together in the 1820's, back when racism was pretty widespread and slavery was generally accepted. So, it would make sense for the book to reflect the views of it's time. For example, in the story, the Lamanites, who were originally light-skinned, disobeyed God, and as a punishment, God cursed them by making their skin dark. So it shows light-skinned people as "delightsome," and dark-skinned people as "loathsome."But would a book that's supposed to be the translated history of two ancient tribes, written by by Native Americans, share those same views? No, it wouldn't.Despite this, the Book of Mormon still holds those views. Here are some verses from the book I found on a webpage showing what I mean.

1 Nephi 12:23(Prophecy of Lamanites after Christ) ". . . became a dark, and loathsome, and a filthy people, full of idleness and all manner of abominations."Nephi 5:21". . . a sore cursing . . . as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them."
Alma 3:6". . . skins of the Lamanites were dark, according to the mark which was set upon their fathers, which was a curse upon them because of their transgression and their rebellion. . ."3 Nephi 19:25, 30 (Disciples)  ". . . they were as white as the countenance and also the garments of Jesus; and behold the whiteness thereof did exceed all the whiteness . . . nothing upon earth so white as the whiteness thereof . . . they were white, even as Jesus."
1 Nephi 13:15 (Gentiles)". . . they were white, and exceedingly fair and beautiful, like unto my people [Nephites] before they were slain."
Mormon 5:15 (Prophecy about Lamanites)  ". . .shall become a dark, a filthy, and a loathsome people, beyond the description of that which ever hath been amongst us . . ."
This also contradicts with the bible. In 1 Samuel 16:7, God says  
"...people look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart."   
Why would God say he looks at the heart, then go and say he's going to make this tribe "become a dark, filthy, and a loathsome people," based on their skin color?Like my friend Matthew put it in one of his blog posts; 
".. The color of our skin does not make us superior to anyone else. If we were to say it did, that would be just like saying a red box is supreme to a blue box; that statement is ridiculous because they're both boxes. The same thing applies to the "races". There is only one race-the human race."
That's exact how I think God sees skin color. Just a physical difference, nothing to do with who you are. We are all humans. To him, cursing someone with dark skin and calling them "loathsome", would be like cursing someone with red hair and calling "ugly". Which is stupid, because God created different hair colors and different skin colors. He created diversity. He allows us to have individuality, and it pleases him to see people of different races and nationalities together, loving each other, and praising him. He wouldn't go and "curse" people with something as shallow as the color of your skin.With that said, the Book of Mormon saying God cursed the Lamanites by making their skin dark, just goes to show you that it was originally written in a time when racism and prejudices were acceptable. Which would be in the 1800's, when the book was first published.
Another area that shows it's not a God-inspired book, is that the Book of Mormon basically copies off The King James Version bible. For example, phrases that are only found in the KVJ, like in 1 Corinthians 12:7, "..manifestation of the Spirit..,"  and "..the gall of bitterness and the bond of iniquity," in Acts 8:23, are found in the Book of Mormon. The every time words "manifestation" or "bitterness" are used, its in the exact same phrases as in the KVJ, despite the author, context, or time the passage is supposed to be written. They're also some instances where Jesus quotes writings that weren't written yet. See, according to the book, Jesus appeared in the Americas after his resurrection, and basically does everything he did in Israel.  He chooses twelve more disciples, and gives many of the same sermons he gave in the original New Testament. But he also quotes New Testament books that weren't written at that time.In 3 Nephi 20:23-26, Jesus quotes a sermon that Peter wouldn't give until much later, at Pentecost. Also in 3 Nephi 18:29, and 3 Nephi 28:8, Jesus quotes 1 Corinthians. The book was nowhere near being written yet. Paul, the writer, was probably just getting hired to kill and persecute Christians about that time. You could argue that since Jesus knew everything, he could easily quote something that wasn't written yet. Well that's true, but everything Jesus did, he did for a purpose. Quoting writings that hadn't been written yet, to a people who didn't even know who the original disciples were, wouldn't serve much as a purpose. So it doesn't make a whole lot of sense for Jesus to have done that. 
 Lack of Evidence
Finally, there's the archaeological evidence. See, there are mountains of archaeological and historical evidence supporting the bible. For one, there's evidence supporting the Israelites entering Canaan, or the promised land. Ancient letters have been uncovered, sent from terrified Canaanite city-states to Eygpt, asking for protection against the Israelites. According to the letters, the Israelites were fierce invaders who were coming and into the land and conquering many areas. The city-states were desperately requesting  military help to defend themselves. One big thing though, is that none of these letters were found in the cities of Jericho or Ali, which were the first cities Israel destroyed in their invasion. (Check out the book of Joshua for more on that) This supports the biblical account, that Israel first conquered Jericho and Ali in their epic conquest of Canaan. If you'd like to research these letters more, just look up the "Amarna Letters".
There's also evidence for all the different peoples mentioned in the bible. For example, a people called the Hittites, were thought to be made up. They're also mentioned a lot in the Old Testament, so skeptics used that to "prove" the bible is false. But later, the ruins of the Hittite capital, and all their records, were uncovered in Bogazkoy, Turkey.Even the people of the bible are accurate. From the ancient Jewish historian Josephus, we learn that Jesus was a real person, who was crucified by the Romans, on a cross. Just as the bible says. The Elba Archive in Northern Syria, is just what the name says; an ancient archive, mentions the Patriarchs: Abraham, Issac, and Jacob; showing them to be real people, and the bible to be accurate.There are also detailed maps, showing all the places and locations of events listed throughout the bible too.

But the Book of Mormon doesn't have any of that evidence. For one, there's no archaeological evidence for the great final battle between the Nephites or Lamanites. The Nephites were described as an amazing people; having coins, tools, metalwork, and gold. Wouldn't some of that have been left behind? In the bible, the Israelites wiped entire cultures off the face of the earth.(because of the horrible and immoral things they were doing, like child sacrifice, ceremonial prostitution, etc, that God didn't want the Israelites or anyone else to begin practicing) Still, we find their ruins and small bits of their culture left behind. But there's absolutely no trace of the Nephites at all, or the Lamanites for that matter. If such a huge victory happened for the Lamanites, wouldn't they have done something to remember it? Usually in ancient times, if a culture won a major victory, they would make some kind of memorial, or at least make some statue or building to serve as some kind of reminder to their victory. None have come close to being found.There also isn't any historical evidence, from historians or any other sources, that any Israelites crossed over the Pacific Ocean to America. None of the culture there can be traced back to Israel. And the "reformed Egyptian" that the golden plates are supposed to be written in, doesn't exist. The only Native American people to have come up with a writing system were the Maya, and their writing system doesn't even come close to what's described as reformed Egyptian. Even if the Israelites did come to the Americas, they didn't even write in Egyptian. They wrote in Hebrew. So any language that the tribes would write in, would be reformed Hebrew, not Egyptian.Also unlike the bible, there are also no traces of any of the people mentioned in the Book of Mormon. There aren't any even real detailed maps of the places where the events took place, and the ones that have been made, don't agree and contradict each other. This is because the places can't be found. It doesn't match up with the geography. That forces the map makers to fill in the blanks themselves, which results in contradiction. The bible doesn't have this problem. All places and areas mentioned in the bible, like Jerusalem, Jericho, Egypt, Nazareth, Mesopotamia, Assyria, Babylon and Persia, all have definite locations. You could go and visit each place, or what's left of them, right now. But not with the places in the Book of Mormon. Nothing in it agrees with history or archaeology; it cant even get peoples' languages right. The Bible flows perfectly with both, while the Book of Mormon, which claims to be the inspired word of God, just epic fails at it.

So that's everything. I hope I made all my points clear to you so it wasn't too confusing, and I really apologize if it was. It's just a lot of information to squeeze into a single blog post, but I like I said earlier, I really tried to pour out to you guys everything I know and have learned while researching this. If you still have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments!! I'll try my best to answer them.
But also, remember that we are still respect what Mormons believe, and respect Mormons as people. They are human beings too, with feelings hopes and dreams. This post is just to show you guys that their beliefs aren't exactly right, so if someone questions you on it, you can respond and defend your faith. But we are still supposed to love them and respect them, just like we would love anyone else. And if confronted, or confronting; we're supposed to make our statements and points out of love and respect too. 
Remember 1 Peter 3:15; "But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect" (1 Peter 3:15 NIV) 
That's the whole theme behind this series. Being able to give an answer, but doing it out of love and respect. 
Have a great day and God bless!!!


  1. Thank for this soo much!
    I have many Mormon friends, and we always seem to get into little debates. I've never known a lot of info about the Book of Mormon, but this helps a lot :)

    1. No problem! :) I'm just glad God was able to use me to help you!