I’m taking a big scary leap today and responding to Today’s Christian Woman’s article “Understanding Mormonism: Six Doctrines that deviate from Christianity” by Jan Brown.
My intention is to explain; I pray that I don’t offend or misrepresent anyone. In my opinion Evangelicals and Mormons have so much in common that these differences in doctrine are negligible; but Evangelical leaders seem to disagree.
1. THE BIBLE
Jan Brown quotes our 8th Article of Faith, “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.” This statement is absolutely true but has been misunderstood. We don’t believe the Bible to be full of errors but we are cautious of the many translations out there. The Bible currently has 7,000 English translations. We use the King James Version which we believe to be a divinely inspired translation.
You may remember the story of Michelangelo carving horns on Moses’ head? He used the Septuagint translation of the Bible which used the word “horns” where it should have said “shone.” Can you blame us for rejecting translation errors like that?
We do believe that the Book of Mormon clarifies doctrine on the Bible. For example; the Bible does not specify whether baptism should be done by sprinkling or by immersion. The Book of Mormon clearly explains why baptism is done by immersion.
Ms. Brown goes on say that Mormon’s must be wrong because Paul wrote in Galatians 1:9, “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach as gospel other that the one we preached unto them, let him be eternally condemned.” Well, we happen to believe that our beliefs are EXACTLY the same as Paul’s and that we preach the same gospel given by Christ to his disciples while on the earth. We wholeheartedly embrace Biblical Christianity though not necessarily Nicene Christianity(more on that later).
I do think Jan Brown researched her article, but this one is just plain strange. She wrote, “Mormons believe that while the flesh is capable of great sin, the spirit isn’t.” OK, I have never heard anything like that before. We certainly believe in spiritual sin. Spiritual sin(or spiritual death) is much worse than physical death because it separates us from the presence of God. If we have faith in Christ death cannot separate us from the love of God.
But we certainly differ from traditional Christianity when it comes to original sin– “get that baby baptized or he’ll go to hell.” We believe children are redeemed by the atonement of Christ and have no need of baptism until they are accountable(usually age 8).
3. GOD THE FATHER AND THE TRINITY
Jan got it right on this one. She wrote “They believe in a godhead composed of three distinct personages who are so one in purpose they can act and speak in each other’s place.” Yep. that’s exactly right.
I know the rest of Christianity believes in a Triune God; “God is one Being Who exists, simultaneously and eternally, as a mutual indwelling of three persons.” This belief was established in 325 a.d. and does not feel Biblical to me, especially when I read of Christ’s baptism.
Matthew 3;16-17 “And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
Christ is baptized, the Holy Spirit descends like a dove and God the Father expresses His approval. I believe they are separate yet single in purpose.
Ms. Brown states, “Jesus of the Book of Mormon is not the only begotten Son of God.” Well, that’s just false. We certainly do believe Christ is the only begotten.
5. THE AFTERLIFE
Phew, her description is so full of errors it may take me all day to talk about them all. But ultimately, Mormons believe only the ultimate baddies make it to hell, the lowest level of heaven is like a glorified earth, the second level is paradise and the third, the Celestial Kingdom, is where God dwells– only in the Celestial Kingdom will we continue to progress have more children and yes, ultimately become Gods and Goddesses. C.S. Lewis The whole prospect of becoming like God is, of course, daunting, humbling and rarely talked about. But it’s not my doctrine, Paul wrote: “Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.” Galatians 4:7
Oh, and everyone is invited to the Celestial Kingdom. It’s not the Mormon Kingdom.;)
Faith vs. works is probably the favorite debate between Mormons and other Christians. I think I spent a full year arguing the point with my Lutheran boyfriend in high school. We believe salvation comes through Christ. PERIOD. But we also believe that any true believer in Christ would want to follow His commandments. “Faith without works is dead.”
I think the confusion here comes from our emphasis on covenants. We are a covenant making people– baptism, sacrament, marriage…— and we believe making and keeping covenants are necessary to enter God’s presence. Covenants are actions/works, but would be totally ineffective without the grace of God given through the atonement of Christ.
In truth, in the rush of so many things to DO, Mormons occasionally forget to sit back and partake of the goodness of God. I especially enjoy Evangelical literature for their refreshing views on partaking of God’s love.
Finally, Ms. Brown concluded that she does not believe Mormons are Christian. Frankly, I find this sad. We have so much in common; we could create so much good in the world together. Personally, I refuse to have anyone dictate my beliefs for me.
I am a Christian. Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior.
I know what I believe.