The past three days I have written on the differences between Christianity and Mormonism. If you read those you probably know where I come down on the question “Are Mormons Christians?” Instead of me answering I thought maybe you would enjoy a video instead. Dr. James White has engaged in apologetics with Mormons for a long time. Here is a video of him answer the question: “Are Mormons Christians?”:
I could write many posts on the differences between Mormonism and Christianity but this will be the last one for now. If you are interested in this topic, I suggest you check out the two previous articles entitled “Christianity vs. Mormonism: Monotheism” and “Christianity vs. Mormonism: Jesus Christ“.
Today, we look at salvation from the Christian perspective and the Mormon perspective. Let’s start with the Christian view of salvation.
Justified in Jesus:
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses,according to the riches of his grace. -Ephesians 1:7, NET
But now apart from the law the righteousness of God (which is attested by the law and the prophets) has been disclosed – namely, the righteousness of God through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. But they are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. -Romans 3:21-24
Adopted in Jesus:
He did this by predestining us to adoption as his sons through Jesus Christ, according to the pleasure of his will – to the praise of the glory of his grace that he has freely bestowed on us in his dearly loved Son. -Ephesians 1:5-6
But when the appropriate time had come, God sent out his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we may be adopted as sons with full rights. -Galatians 4:4-5
‘and I will be a father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters,’ says the All-Powerful Lord. -2 Corinthians 6:18
Sanctified in Jesus:
For if we have become united with him in the likeness of his death, we will certainly also be united in the likeness of his resurrection. We know that our old man was crucified with him so that the body of sin would no longer dominate us, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. -Romans 6: 5-6
Pursue peace with everyone, and holiness, for without it no one will see the Lord. -Hebrews 12:14
Glorified in Christ:
And if children, then heirs (namely, heirs of God and also fellow heirs with Christ) – if indeed we suffer with him so we may also be glorified with him. -Romans 8:17
He called you to this salvation through our gospel, so that you may possess the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. -2 Thessalonians 2:14
Christians are justified, adopted, sanctified, and glorified in Christ. This is Christian salvation which all culminates in one passage of Scripture known as the Golden Chain of Redemption found in Romans 8:28-30:
And we know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose, because those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; and those he called, he also justified; and those he justified, he also glorified.
Salvation is all of God and not of man. We are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Now we need to compare the historical and biblical understanding of Christian salvation with Mormonism’s view of salvation.
Salvation through Christ…and some other stuff:
3 We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel. – Joseph Smith, History of the Church, Vol. 4, pp. 535–541.
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.
However powerful the saving grace of Christ, it brings exaltation to no man who does not comply with the works of the Gospel -Spencer W. Kimball (prophet of the Mormon Church), The Miracle of Forgiveness, p. 207
If righteous men have power through the gospel and its crowning ordinance of celestial marriage to become kings and priests to rule in exaltation forever, it follows that the women by their side (without whom they cannot attain exaltation) will be queens and priestesses. -Bruce McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 613.
‘Yes. Do you realize the implications of this doctrine as far as you are concerned?’
‘I think so. If God became God by obedience to all of the gospel law with the crowning point being the celestial law of marriage, then that’s the only way I can become a god.’
‘Right. And it is the law that assists us in reaching that potential. It tells us what we must do to gain the ultimate freedom. In fact, it is by obedience to law that we have progressed to our present position.’ –Achieving a Celestial Marriage: Student Manual, Copyright 1992 by Corporation of the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints p. 4.
Did you get all that? For Mormons, achieving salvation and “exaltation” is hardly about Jesus Christ. It mostly relies on you. You need to obey the laws of God to be saved. You need to be baptized by the LDS church to be saved. You need to “comply with the works of the [g]ospel” to be saved. Women, you need to get married, in the LDS church, so that you will obtain exaltation. Men, you will become gods if you keep progressing and reach the goal of a celestial marriage.
This could not be further from biblical Christianity. Salvation only comes from the Lord (Psalm 39:37). If you are a Mormon and you have relied on yourself to earn your salvation I want you to know that God does not need your works. Jesus’ righteousness is what you need. You cannot obtain righteousness because your righteousness, like mine, are filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). Do not look to yourself for salvation but look to Jesus Christ. Acts 4:11-12 says:
This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, that has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among people by which we must be saved. -NET
Many Mormons will claim that they are Christians. In fact, this has been a common theme especially in recent times. Allow me to quote from mormonbeliefs.org when they write:
Mormons are Christians. Mormonism is centered on Jesus Christ and His role as creator and redeemer.
Well, I guess the debate is over…right? Wrong! The debate is just beginning. Before we dive into Mormonism we need to testify to the truth of Jesus Christ found in the Scriptures.
Jesus is eternal:
The Word was with God in the beginning. All things were created by him, and apart from him not one thing was created that has been created. -John 1:2-3, NET
And now, Father, glorify me at your side with the glory I had with you before the world was created. -John 17:5
Jesus is the Son of God:
So he [Jesus] told them, “My Father is working until now, and I too am working.” For this reason the Jewish leaders were trying even harder to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was also calling God his own Father,thus making himself equal with God. -John 5:17-18
“We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God!” -John 6:69
“The Father and I are one.” -John 10:30
Jesus is/was sinless:
For to this you were called, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving an example for you to follow in his steps. He committed no sin nor was deceit found in his mouth. -1 Peter 2:21-22
Jesus forgives sins:
“Why does this man speak this way? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” -Mark 2:7
He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we may cease from sinning and live for righteousness. By his wounds you were healed. -1 Peter 2:24
Jesus is God:
Thomas replied to him, “My Lord and my God!” -John 20:28
With that we move to the Mormon view of Jesus. We will compare and contrast the Jesus found in the pages of Scripture with the jesus found in Mormonism. So, how do Mormons view Jesus?
Jesus is eternal…but so is man:
Christ is an eternal being.-mormonbeliefs.org
Man was also in the beginning with God. Intelligence, or the light of truth, was not created or made, neither indeed can be.-Doctrine and Covenants 93:29
Man was begotten and born of heavenly parents, reared to maturity in the eternal mansions of the Father prior to coming upon the earth in a temporal physical body. -Joseph F. Smith, The Origin of Man, Improvement Era, Nov. 1909, pp. 78-80.
The first spirit born to our heavenly parents was Jesus Christ. -Doctrines and Covenants 93:21
This is a great example of Mormonism’s many theological errors. In Mormon theology Jesus is “eternal”, in the sense that, he existed before the world came into existence. This is known as the pre-existence. The problem is that if Jesus is the “first-born” in the pre-existence and we, as humans, follow after him then Jesus is not unique. Jesus is not different from you or I. What the Scriptures attest to is that Jesus was with God from the beginning (John 1:1-3) and man was not. In the Scriptures humanity was created after the world was made. Genesis 1:27 says:
God created humankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them,
male and female he created them.
For the Mormons to believe that Jesus and man are both eternal means that either Jesus was created at a point in time or the Bible is dead wrong on this subject. Jesus is no higher than man in the Mormon view. He may be “exalted” but he is not a different race or being. The Mormon view strips Jesus of his uniqueness and deity.
Jesus is the Son of God…”literally”:
Now, my little friends, I will repeat again in words as simple as I can, and you talk to your parents about it, that God, the Eternal Father, is literally the father of Jesus Christ. -Joseph F. Smith, Box Elder Stake Conference Dec. 20, 1914 as quoted in Brigham City Box Elder News, 28 Jan. 1915, p. 2.
He was willing to make payment because of his great love for mankind, and he was able to make payment because he lived a sinless life and because he was actually, literally, biologically the Son of God in the flesh. –Messages for Exaltation: Eternal Insights from the Book of Mormon
Christ was chosen to save mankind by working out an infinite and eternal atonement—to come to this earth as the literal Only Begotten Son of God, and to put the whole plan of redemption, salvation, and exaltation in operation. -Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, ed. 2, p. 129.
According to Mormon teaching Jesus is “actually, literally, [and] biologically” God’s son. What does this mean? In Mormon theology God the Father literally impregnated Mary. Not only is this gross but it wreaks havoc when it comes to understanding Jesus’ role as the Son of God. If Jesus is literally the son of God then that means his existence was not eternal. He may have existed in the “pre-existence” but so did you and I. This compromises Jesus’ identity as the Son of God because Biblically that title separated him from us. Mormonism strips that away from Jesus.
Jesus is God…and you can be a god too:
“This doctrine that there is a Mother in Heaven was affirmed in plainness by the First Presidency of the Church (Joseph F. Smith, John R. Winder, and Anthon H. Lund) when, in speaking of pre-existence and the origin of man, they said that ‘man, as a spirit, was begotten and born of heavenly parents, and reared to maturity in the eternal mansions of the Father,’ that man is the ‘offspring of celestial parentage,’ and that ‘all men and women are in the similitude of the universal Father and Mother, and are literally the sons and daughters of Deity.’– Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 516.
“Yes. Do you realize the implications of this doctrine as far as you are concerned?”
“I think so. If God became God by obedience to all of the gospel law with the crowning point being the celestial law of marriage, then that’s the only way I can become a god.” –Achieving a Celestial Marriage: Student Manual, Copyright 1992 by Corporation of the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints p. 4.
Well, as God is, man may become. We believe in eternal progression. Very strongly. We believe that the glory of God is intelligence and whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the Resurrection. Knowledge, learning, is an eternal thing. And for that reason, we stress education. We’re trying to do all we can to make of our people the ablest, best, brightest people that we can. -Gordon Hinckley, San Francisco Chronicle, 13 Apr. 1997.
So, there you have it. Jesus is the literal son of God the Father. And just like us Jesus needs to progress to become a god. This is completely against what the Scriptures teach about Jesus. Jesus is divine and eternal. When it comes to Mormonism it could not be further away from Christianity. Christianity is based on the truth of Jesus Christ. Mormonism disgraces that truth by placing Jesus on the same level as human beings. Jesus came in the form of a man but he was God incarnate. He was God from eternity past and will be God forever more. Amen.