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Mormonism. World Religions Lesson 12. What is Mormonism?. Many people view Mormonism as just another denomination of Christians. The leadership of the LDS Church tends to encourage this, seeking converts and acceptance.

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World Religions Lesson 12

What is mormonism
What is Mormonism?

  • Many people view Mormonism as just another denomination of Christians.

  • The leadership of the LDS Church tends to encourage this, seeking converts and acceptance.

  • Yet the theology of Mormonism is drastically different than Biblical Christianity, as we shall seek to show here.


In this talk, we will consider:

  • A history of Mormonism, as told by the Mormons

  • Mormon doctrine tested by the Bible

  • Mormon evidences examined

  • Conclusions on Mormonism

A history of mormonism

A History of Mormonism

As told by Mormons

Joseph smith the founder
Joseph Smith, the Founder

  • Born 1805 in Sharon, VT

  • Moved with his parents to Palmyra, NY

  • Claimed to have received a vision during the NT revival, in 1820:

    • Sees the Father and Son

    • Asks them which church he should join

    • Answer: None! They are all corrupt!

Joseph smith s career
Joseph Smith’s Career

  • In June 1829 Peter, James and John appear to Smith and Oliver Cowdery, restoring the Melchizedek priesthood.

  • B of M is printed, 1830. Smith & followers begin to distribute “the Golden Bible.”

  • The group moves to Kirtland, OH. Smith becomes head over 12 apostles. 1st temple is completed 1836.

Smith s career
Smith’s Career

  • The Mormons are opposed by ‘Gentiles’ in NY, OH, MO.

  • In 1839, the MO settlement fails, they move to Nauvoo, IL.

  • Illinois in sympathy gives Nauvoo a broad charter; competition between Whigs & Democrats for votes.

  • The Nauvoo temple is begun in 1841.

Smith s career1
Smith’s Career

  • Nauvoo is allowed to have its own independent militia. Smith becomes mayor of Nauvoo and commander of the Nauvoo Legion – spiritual, political & military leader.

  • In 1844, Mormon missionaries campaign for Smith in the US presidential election.

  • Smith has an opposition newspaper destroyed. His opponents charge him with treason.

  • The governor of IL calls up the state militia, fearing a civil war.

Smith s career2
Smith’s Career

  • Smith eventually gives himself up, and is imprisoned in the county jail.

  • The governor sends the militia home, but a group of them return, storm the jail, and kill Joseph Smith.

  • As a result, Smith comes to be seen as a martyr by the Mormons.

Mormons after smith
Mormons after Smith

  • Brigham Young becomes Smith’s successor.

  • After 2 more years opposition, Young leads his followers to Utah, where they build their new society in the wilderness.

  • The Mormons continue to evangelize in the US and Europe, encourag-ing converts to come to Utah.

Mormons after smith1
Mormons after Smith

  • By the 1880s, there are 80,000 Mormons, mostly in Utah.

  • The Mormons renounce polygamy so UT can become a state.

  • In 20th cen, Mormons multiplied to over 5 million worldwide.

  • They have over 20 temples, performing eternal marriages and baptisms for the dead.

Some comments on history
Some Comments on History

  • Joseph Smith’s family was involved in the occult and something like crystal gazing before he founded the church.

  • There are serious historical problems with Smith’s vision story.

  • Though the Mormons were mistreated by their neighbors, some of their own words and deeds contributed to this.

Some comments on history1
Some Comments on History

  • The newspaper Smith destroyed was threatening to expose his teaching of polygamy, which was then only rumored among the Mormons.

  • Smith had been practicing polygamy on the sly for some years, and some of his ‘wives’ were married to others.

  • There is evidence that Smith had sexual relations with about forty women.

Mormon scriptures
Mormon scriptures

  • The Mormon Scripture includes:

    • The Bible – KJV

    • The Book of Mormon

    • The Doctrines & Covenants

    • The Pearl of Great Price

The book of mormon
The Book of Mormon

  • Smith is told he has been chosen to restore the church to its original purity.

  • He is shown a set of golden plates containing God’s revelation for the Western world.

  • Smith begins to translate these using the Urim and Thummim.

  • The translation is published in 1830.

Contents of book of mormon
Contents of Book of Mormon

  • 600 BC - Lehi is told by God to leave Jerusalem before it is destroyed.

  • He and family build a ship and sail across the Pacific to Mexico.

  • Their descendants develop into two nations, the Nephites (good) and Lamanites (bad). A long history of warfare, apostasy and revival follows.

Contents of book of mormon1
Contents of Book of Mormon

  • Jesus comes to W hemisphere & preaches after ministry in Judea.

  • The Lamanites defeat the Nephites. Mormon entrusts the history on golden plates to son Moroni, who buries them in upstate NY and dies about AD 400.

Archeology the book of mormon
Archeology & the Book of Mormon

  • In fact, though the Book of Mormon names many great cities in the W Hemisphere, archeologists have yet to locate any of them, in stark contrast to the Bible’s references to cities.

  • The Smithsonian Institution has a form-letter they send out to inquirers making just this point.

Archeology the book of mormon1
Archeology & the Book of Mormon

  • In Alma 18:9-10, King Lamoni is pictured as having horses & chariots.

  • The horse is now known to have been extinct in the W Hemisphere for many millennia until it was introduced again by the Spaniards.

  • The wheel also never made it to the W Hemisphere until introduced by Europeans.

Archeology the book of abraham
Archeology & the Book of Abraham

  • One of the major parts of Mormon Scripture is the Pearl of Great Price.

  • This work contains several parts:

    • The Book of Moses – visions revealed to Joseph Smith in December, 1830

    • The Book of Abraham – an ancient Egyptian scroll translated by Smith’s miraculous gifts

    • Extracts from Smith’s translation of the Bible and his History

    • The Articles of Faith

History of the book of abraham
History of the Book of Abraham

  • Joseph Smith purchased several Egyptian scrolls from a traveling showman.

  • Smith claimed that he could translate these by his divine powers, and that they told a story about the experiences of Abraham when he was in Egypt.

  • At the time, no one on earth could translate ancient Egyptian.

  • The scrolls disappeared after Smith’s death, and were thought to have burnt in the Chicago fire.

History of the book of abraham1
History of the Book of Abraham

  • Smith copied pictures from the scrolls and printed them in his Book of Abraham.

  • These pictures were shown to several archeologists to get their opinion.

  • They said Smith was mistaken about the main picture, and it had been modified.

  • Naturally, Mormons disagreed with this.

History of the book of abraham2
History of the Book of Abraham

  • Recently, the scrolls turned up in a NY museum, which gave them back to the Mormon church when this became public.

  • The text of the scrolls has now been translated. They have nothing to do with Abraham!

  • They show the picture has been modified.

History of the book of abraham3
History of the Book of Abraham

  • Shortly before the scrolls turned up, the text of Smith’s Egyptian Alphabet & Grammar was made public.

  • This shows that Smith did not know Egyptian!

  • It also contains samples of text which he had copied from the scrolls, showing how he had translated particular texts.

Mormon doctrine

Mormon Doctrine

The official doctrinal statement of the LDS Church, adopted in 1830, shows where they started — but not where they went. Mormonism developed a good deal during the rest of Smith’s life.

The articles of faith 1830
The Articles of Faith – 1830

  • We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.

  • We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression.

  • We believe that through the atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.

  • We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are:

    • (1) Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ;

    • (2) Repentance;

    • (3) Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins;

    • (4) Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Spirit.

The articles of faith 18301
The Articles of Faith – 1830

  • We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, viz., apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, etc.

  • We believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, etc.

  • We believe the Bible to be the Word of God so far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the Word of God.

  • We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.

Doctrine of god
Doctrine of God

God (Heavenly Father) is an exalted man with a physical body of flesh and bone. LDS founder Joseph Smith said, "If the veil were rent today, and the great God who holds this world in its orbit, and who upholds all worlds and all things by his power, was to make himself visible-I say, if you were to see him today, you would see him like a man in form" (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 345)..

Doctrine of god1
Doctrine of God

The trinity is denied with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost seen as three separate entities. "The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man's; the Son also; but the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of Spirit. Were it not so, the Holy Ghost could not dwell in us" (Doctrine and Covenants [D&C] 130:22).

Doctrine of god2
Doctrine of God

Biblical Response:

The one God is a Spirit who is the personal, eternal, infinite Creator of all that exists. He is the only God and necessary for all other things to exist. He exists eternally as a Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. (see Deut. 6:4; Isa. 43:10; 44:6-8; Matt. 28:19; John 4:24; 17:3)

Doctrine of jesus
Doctrine of Jesus

Jesus was the spiritual "first born" Son of God in the preexistence. "Every person who was ever born on earth was our spirit brother or sister in heaven. The first spirit born to our heavenly parents was Jesus Christ, so he is literally our elder brother" (Gospel Principles [GP], p. 11)."And now, verily I say unto you, I was in the beginning with the Father, and am the Firstborn" (D&C 93:21). He is also the "only begotten" physical offspring of God by procreation on earth. "Jesus is the only person on earth to be born of a mortal mother and an immortal father.

Doctrine of jesus1
Doctrine of Jesus

That is why he is called the Only Begotten Son" (GP, p. 64). His atonement (death and resurrection) provides immortality for all people regardless of their faith. "Christ thus overcame physical death. Because of his atonement, everyone born on this earth will be resurrected . . . This condition is called immortality. All people who ever lived will be resurrected, 'both old and young, both bond and free, both male and female, both the wicked and the righteous' (The Book of Mormon [BOM], Alma 11:44)" (GP, p. 74). (See GP, pp. 11, 17-19, 61-77.)

Doctrine of jesus2
Doctrine of Jesus

Biblical Response:

Jesus Christ was the virgin born God incarnate who existed in all time with the Father and Holy Spirit in the eternal Trinity. As a man He possessed two natures -human and divine. He lived a sinless life and willingly died on the cross as a sacrifice for the sin of all humanity. (see John 1:1-18; 8:56-59; Phil. 2:6-11; Col. 1:13-22; Heb.1:3; 13:8)

Doctrine of scripture authority
Doctrine of Scripture & Authority

Recognizes the LDS Four Standard Works as authoritative. These include the Bible "as far as it is translated correctly" (Articles of Faith 1:8). It also includes The Book of Mormon (BOM) which Joseph Smith declared is "the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book" (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 194).

Doctrine of scripture authority1
Doctrine of Scripture & Authority

The church also regards The Doctrine and Covenants (D&C) as Scripture. It "is a collection of modern revelations . . . regarding The Church of Jesus Christ as it has been restored in these last days" (GP, p. 54).

The Pearl of the Great Price (PGP) is the fourth book believed to be inspired.

"It clarifies doctrines and teachings that were lost from the Bible and gives added information concerning the creation of the earth" (GP, p. 54).

Doctrine of scripture authority2
Doctrine of Scripture & Authority

The church's president is regarded as "a seer, a revelator, a translator, and a prophet" (D&C 107:91-92).

Doctrine of scripture authority3
Doctrine of Scripture & Authority

Biblical Response:

The Bible (Old and New Testaments) is the unique, revealed, and inspired Word of God. It is the sole authority for faith and practice for Christians. (see 2 Tim. 3:15-17; 2 Pet. 1:19-21)

Doctrine of humanity
Doctrine of Humanity

People are the preexisted spiritual offspring of the Heavenly Father and Mother. "All men and women are . . . literally the sons and daughters of Deity . . . Man, as a spirit, was begotten and born of heavenly parents, and 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, as quoted in GP, p. 11).

Doctrine of humanity1
Doctrine of Humanity

They are born basically good and are "gods in embryo." A commonly quoted Mormon aphorism (attributed to fifth LDS president Lorenzo Snow) says "As man is, God once was; as God is, man may become."

Doctrine of humanity2
Doctrine of Humanity

Biblical Response:

Human beings are created in God's image, meaning they have personal qualities similar to God's. Every person is a unique, precious being of dignity and worth. (see Gen. 1:26-27)

Doctrine of sin
Doctrine of Sin

People sin by disobedience to God's laws. Adam's fall, a part of Heavenly Father's plan, caused a loss of immortality, which was necessary for mankind to advance, (see GP, pp. 31-34). As Eve declared according to LDS scripture, "Were it not for our transgression we never should have . . . known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient"(PGP, Moses 5:11; see also BOM, 2 Nephi 2:22-25). Each person is responsible for his or her own sin.

Doctrine of sin1
Doctrine of Sin

Biblical Response:

Human beings have chosen to sin against God, rejecting His nature and pursing life opposed to His essential character and revealed law. (see Rom. 3:23; 7:14-25; 1 John 1:8-10)

Doctrine of salvation
Doctrine of Salvation

Jesus' atonement provided immortality for all people. Exaltation (godhood) is available only to Mormons through obedience to LDS teachings: faith, baptism, endowments, celestial marriage, and tithing. "Wherefore, as it is written, they are gods, even the sons of God-Wherefore, all things are theirs" (D&C, 76:58-59).

These are some of the blessings given to exalted people:

1. They will live eternally in the presence of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ (see D&C, 76).

Doctrine of salvation1
Doctrine of Salvation

2. They will become gods.

3. They will have their righteous family members with them and will be able to have spirit children also. These spirit children will have the same relationship to them as we do to our Heavenly Father. They will be an eternal family.

4. They will receive a fullness of joy.

5. They will have everything that our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ have - all power, glory, dominion, and knowledge (See GP, p. 302).

Baptism for the dead provides post-mortem salvation for non-Mormons, and is "by immersion performed by a living person for one who is dead. This ordinance is performed in temples" (GP, p. 375). (See also GP, chapters 18-23.).

Doctrine of salvation2
Doctrine of Salvation

Baptism for the dead provides post-mortem salvation for non-Mormons, and is "by immersion performed by a living person for one who is dead. This ordinance is performed in temples" (GP, p. 375). (See also GP, chapters 18-23.).

The mormon salvation scheme
The Mormon Salvation Scheme

  • Celestial State (D&C 76:50-70)

    • Believe, baptized, cleansed by commandments

  • Terrestrial State (71-80)

    • Received Gospel after death

  • Telestial State (81-90)

    • In hell till last resurrection

  • Hell (25-49)

    • Deny Holy Spirit after having received it

Doctrine of salvation3
Doctrine of Salvation

Biblical Response:

Salvation is release from the guilt and power of sin through God's gift of grace. It is provided through Christ's atonement and received by personal faith in Christ as Savior and Lord. (see Rom. 3:20; 10:9- 10; Eph. 2:8-10)

The biblical salvation scheme
The Biblical Salvation Scheme

  • Only two destinies:

    • Eternal life – glory, see God face-to-face

    • Second death – eternal shame & suffering

  • Eternal life is not earned (by us), but those whom God saves will evidence transformed lives even now:

    • Care even for unlovely, least-regarded

    • Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness…

Doctrine of the church
Doctrine of The Church

Baptism for the dead provides post-mortem salvation for non-Mormons, and is "by immersion performed by a living person for one who is dead. This ordinance is performed in temples" (GP, p. 375). (See also GP, chapters 18-23.).

Doctrine of church
Doctrine of Church

Biblical Response:

Christians congregate together in local bodies and along denominational lines sharing distinctive doctrinal and ecclesiastical concepts. There is no organization or denomination that can claim exclusive designation as the "one true church. The universal church consists of all the redeemed in Jesus Christ in all of the ages. (see Matt. 16:15-19; 1 Cor. 1:12-14; Eph. 2:19; 3:11-12)

Conclusions on mormonism
Conclusions on Mormonism

  • Joseph Smith is a false prophet.

  • The Book of Mormon, Doctrines & Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price are false revelations.

  • Mormonism is a false religion.

Witnessing to mormons
Witnessing To Mormons

  • Have a basic and clear understanding of the Christian faith and the gospel.

  • 2. Be aware of the unique Mormon doctrines.

  • 3. Remember, Mormons use Christian vocabulary (gospel, atonement, god), but radically redefine their meanings. Define clearly what you mean when you use biblical words.

  • 4. Present a clear testimony of your faith in Christ alone for salvation.

  • 5. Show your Mormon friend that the Bible teaches salvation alone through the cross of Christ (John 3:16; Rom. 10:4,10-13; Eph. 2:8-9).

Witnessing to mormons1
Witnessing To Mormons

6. Warn the Mormon about trusting in feelings (i.e., the burning in the bosom) for a validation of Mormonism's truth claim. Without historical, objective verification, feelings are useless.

7. When Mormons use a Bible verse, read carefully the verses before and afterward to make clear the exact meaning and purpose of the passage. Don't let them take Bible verses out of context. Read carefully the full reference in the Bible before deciding what any one verse means.

8. Keep the central doctrines of the faith as the focus of your discussion.

Witnessing to mormons2
Witnessing To Mormons

9. Share the plan of salvation with your Mormon friend. Emphasize that salvation is a gift to be received, not a merit to be earned.

10. Do the basics: pray, trust the Holy Spirit, and be loving, patient, and steadfast.


The Compact Guide to World Religions, Dean Halverson, General Editor, 1996

Nelson’s Illustrated Guide to Religions, by James Beverley, 2009

So What’s The Difference, by Fritz Ridenour, 2001