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Free Agency and Ethics in LDS Theology

Part One: Free Agency and Faith

Free Agency is a peculiar doctrine of the LDS theological system of belief. This is a teaching concerning the moral ability of man to “choose” the good even in his fallen and sinful state. The Prophets of the LDS Church, in keeping with their man-centered doctrine, have spoken out against their critics who claim that man has fallen and that the moral will of man is corrupt and in need of the regenerating power of the Spirit to overcome that sinful nature.

“God has told us through his prophets that we are free to choose between good and evil…the right to choose between good and evil is called agency.” 1) That is the official pronouncement on this doctrine by the LDS Church. According to the Apostles of the LDS Church, man is absolutely free to choose between good and evil. Although some readers may not have any qualms about this doctrine, we have yet to explore only a sampling of what is really meant by this teaching and the consequences of such doctrine.

Brigham Young had this to say about man’s natural ability to choose God:

  • The volition of the creature is free; this is a law of their existence and the Lord cannot violate his own law; were he to do that, he would cease to be God. He has placed life and death before his children, and it is for them to choose. If they choose life, they receive the blessing of life; if they choose death, they must abide the penalty. This is a law which has always existed from all eternity, and will continue to exist throughout all the eternities to come. Every intelligent being must have the power of choice, and God brings forth the results of the acts of his creatures to promote his Kingdom and subserve [sic] his purposes in the salvation and exaltation of his children. 2)

This, of course, begs the question, “Where does God say that man has a free will?” Proponents of Free Agency, or Free Will, have offered suggestions as to where this doctrine may be found, but are still wanting of any concrete evidence in Scripture where man is presented as unscathed by the effects of sin.

Those who deny the sinfulness of man generally mistake responsibility or accountability for man’s ability. The Apostle Paul, in 1 Corinthians 2:14, “the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” The natural, or unbelieving, man does not accept the things of God. The unbeliever believes the things of God are foolishness and he can’t understand those things. Keep in mind that the LDS Prophets believe in what they call Free Agency. They believe that the natural man can and has the ability to believe in the things of God. For them, the unbeliever is not prejudiced one way or the other against the Gospel. Sin has not had a negative effect on the mind of man. The moral will is in perfect condition and as we can see, Brigham Young is quite clear regarding this point:

  • My independence is sacred to me—it is a portion of that same Deity that rules in the heavens. There is not a being upon the face of the earth who is made in the image of God, who stands erect and is organized as God is, that would be deprived of the free exercise of his agency so far as he does not infringe upon other's rights, save by good advice and a good example. 3)

Joseph Fielding Smith, the 10th Prophet of the LDS Church, did not agree with Prophet Young when he said

  • We should all be assured that the Lord has never relinquished his control and his power to bring to pass his purposes according to his will in his own due time and manner. He permits men to go just so far, and then he stops them if they have plans that are contrary to his decrees. 4)

So which is it? Prophet Young has said that “The volition of the creature is free; this is a law of their existence and the Lord cannot violate his own law; were he to do that, he would cease to be God,” and “My independence is sacred to me—it is a portion of that same Deity that rules in the heavens.” Joseph Fielding Smith, a more recent Prophet of the LDS Church teaches the members of that organization that God will let a person go so far and then stop their plans from taking place. Can the Lord violate the volition of the creature or not? Two different “inspired” Prophets of the LDS religion present us with two divergent teachings concerning the very nature of God and man.

Man’s will is hardened against God because of sin, but this is repulsive to Brigham Young. Rightly so! The freedom of the unbelieving moral will is a necessary part of the LDS man-centered religion and is not a part of an absolute dependence on the God of the Bible for salvation.

The whole purpose of our lives is to glorify God to the praise and glory of His name, as demonstrated in Ephesians 1. To Brigham Young, this is an infringement on his “right” to give himself this glory. It is almost as if Brigham Young does not want to “share” the glory due to God.

The unbeliever cannot, which is to say that he has not the ability within him to, choose God. If you remember back to Grade School, you may have asked or heard asked your teacher “Can I use the bathroom?” The response was, in most cases, “No, but you MAY use the restroom.” “May” was used in the sense of permission and “can” was used in the sense of ability. We see this same wording in John 6:44, “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him.” No man “can” come to the Father. This is what is often called a “universal inclusive.” In formal logic, this means that it applies to every single case of person in reference. In this instance, “no man can,” it applies to every single person regardless of subdivision. But what can no man do? Jesus answers, “Come to the Father.” Jesus adds an exception to His statement, no man can come to the Father unless the Father who sent Christ draws them. There has never existed one person who has ever had the ability to come the Father without being drawn to Him.

Fine, you might say. But what significance is “drawn” in this context? “Drawn” in this passage is the same word in Greek as to “drag” something. It is the same word used in John 21:6 when the disciples could not “drag” the net into the boat because their net was full of fish. It is also the same word used in John 18:10 when Peter “drew” his sword to cut of the High Priest’s ear. The word is used as “to bring” in a forcible sense. God compels belief in the unregenerate heart. We, who were once far off and at enmity with God, have been “made” near to God (Ephesians 2:4-13); we have been “brought” or “transferred” from the kingdom of darkness to the Kingdom of God (Colossians 1:13).

Yet, Brigham Young persists in his wish to have this natural and sinful ability of man.

  • He has given them the privilege of choosing for themselves, whether it be good or evil; but the result of our choice is still in his hand. All his children have the right of making a path for themselves of walking to the right or to the left, of telling the truth or that which is not true. This right God has given to all people who dwell on the earth, and they can legislate and act as they please… 5)

He continues to confuse the ability to do anything (like tying your shoes) with the ability to understand the things of God (spiritual understanding), as we saw in 1 Corinthians 2:14 above or in the case of Nicodemus and Jesus recorded in John chapter three. Brigham Young’s position would let the devices and plans of man override the plans of God and that is precisely where Joseph Fielding Smith differed from Brigham Young.

Maybe much clearer is Prophet Young’s most succinct statement concerning the natural ability of sinful man to embrace the truth of God:

  • The Lord does not compel any person to embrace the Gospel, and I do not think he will compel them to live it after they have embraced it. 6)

But this is precisely what God has done. This word “compel” is the same as “draw” in John 6:44. God makes something happen in the sinful heart of man to change that hateful disposition toward Him. God brings you to the Son by renewing your will. The heart and condition of our spirits are “made” new by the work of the Holy Spirit’s direct intervention in us. We, who were sin, are brought near to God. In the LDS system of thought, we have a God who really doesn’t take an active part in our sinful condition. It’s as if God wants the unbelieving mind of 1Corinthians 2:14 to suddenly, without any work of God, to be able to understand God and seek the perfection by which we can be saved.

The LDS Prophets have no comparable doctrine upon which to base such a beautiful love of God as this: We, who are sinful and dead in our trespasses and sin, hate God. But, to manifest His mercy and grace, God decided to accept us through the finished work of Christ as righteous. This Creator–the God of the universe, Who beside Him is no other God–has proclaimed that all who call upon the name of Christ will be cleansed and forgiven in His sight. This is amazing grace. This is the “love of God” and this is a truly loving God.

The god of the LDS Prophets respects only perfection, which according to the Bible is not possible for anyone except for Christ. There are none who are righteous, as the Bible reports. But, this Chief Cornerstone has given His life for us and purchased us from every tribe and nation to be a holy priesthood and a holy nation to Him. He is glorious. His is perfect. But He allows us, who have despised Him, to believe in Him and be accounted as righteous according to the perfection of the satisfaction that He has accomplished in our behalf if we only believe on Him. That is true forgiveness. Not expecting our perfection, which we could never achieve, but understanding our condition and extending His mercy and grace to those who do not deserve His love. That is love. All the LDS Prophets have given us is a god who looks on our non-existent perfection and awards salvation on those who are smart enough or have some ability within them to earn a place in godhood.

Part Two: THE ETHICAL ARGUMENT Or “The LDS Can’t Answer This Problem”

In this section we will look at more foundational issues of disagreement between orthodox Christianity and LDS doctrines. Although this entire work is devoted to demonstrating the many inconsistencies and dangers associated with “Mormon” theology and philosophy, we will now take a brief look at the ethics of the Latter-day Saints. The impossibility of the LDS position will be demonstrated by an ethical and moral argument in the pages that follow.

INTRODUCTION

If the preceding chapters demonstrate the departure of the Latter-day Saints from the truths of Scripture, we have more than a simple disagreement on minor doctrines. The LDS Church maintains that it alone is the sole authority able to dispense the essential truths of the Bible. Its authorities claim that this organization has brought the Gospel, lost for almost 1800 years, back to the world. And if the LDS community is not in agreement with the Bible on the character and nature of God, then we must look at the implications of their position in order to determine the extent of their departure from the teachings of Scripture.

Many in non-LDS circles have heard the statement, “well, they might be a cult, but at least they are ethical and moral in politics and religious persuasion.” There may be variations of this theme, but the idea is still the same: At least they're moral.

In this chapter, we will look at the claim that the LDS Church and its teachings are basically moral. There is no doubt that many will be hasty to accuse the author of saying, based upon the statements above, that LDS members are immoral. That is not the accusation. The position that will be presented in this chapter is this: The LDS Church and the teachings of the LDS Prophets are not based on the Christ of the Scriptures and are therefore not based on Christ, making the teachings of the LDS Church Biblically amoral at best.

Furthermore, “Mormons” can give no logical foundation for intelligibility and rationality. Their philosophy of thought is baseless due to their faulty doctrine of God. No logical, rational or Biblical response can be given to its critics because of that doctrinal intelligibility. The God revealed in Scripture is the very foundation of all thought. Without Him, nothing is possible.

ABSOLUTE MORALITY

In an earlier chapter we presented and demonstrated the LDS belief that God was once a man. This doctrine has a profound effect upon the foundations of morality.

If God was once a man, He is not eternally absolute. If God the Father was once a man, it would be impossible for Him to be the only Creator in the history of the universe. If He were a man at one point, He would at some point have to rely on yet another creator in order to exist. In LDS theology, God is One among a progression of gods. If this is true, He is not eternal in being, knowledge, power or deity. On the other hand, Scripture claims in many places that God has never changed, does not change and will never change in the future. He is eternal in all aspects. He is the same “King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God” as Timothy writes in I Timothy 1:17.

The god of LDS theology, of necessity, is progressing in strength and wisdom. He is growing in power. He is spreading his influence throughout the universe as time goes on. More of his spirit children are taking on more worlds in their dominion. The god of LDS doctrine was once a man, is limited in all matters, is progressing in all things and achieved godhood. Man receives glorification in the LDS doctrines of salvation. Salvation in this worldview is nothing but sinful people achieving godhood.

The God of the Bible possesses all knowledge (Matthew 6:8; 1 Corinthians 2:7; Hebrews 4:13; 1 John 3:20). He is all powerful (Job 5:9-27; 26:14; Psalm 62:11; 115:3; Isaiah 40:26; Ephesians 1:11). He has dominion over all of creation (Daniel 4:25, 35; 1 Timothy 6:15; Revelation 4:11). His Gospel is being preached to all people everywhere (Matthew 28:18-20; Romans 10:14-15; Philippians 1:18). The God of the Bible is perfect, glorious, majestic and eternal (Job 11:7-9; Acts 7:2; Psalm 40:2; 1 Timothy 1:17). The Bible gives all glory to God alone (Proverbs 16:4; Romans 11:36; Ephesians 1:6, 12, 14).

If God has changed in the past, He is progressive and necessarily not eternal or absolute in any aspect. If God is eternally the same, He is able to impose absolute commands and requirements on His creation. If not, He is able to give only suggestions not moral imperatives. The Bible has much to say about the topic of the immutability of God. Malachi 3:6 states that God does not change. There is no question with the author of this book about God’s nature. James 1:17 states: “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” If God changed, wouldn’t the authors of the Bible be the first to know?

God's moral laws are not eternally binding if He is growing in learning. If God comes to a time when He is more complete than He was in the past, He is not perfect in learning. What is the level to which He must come in order to say of Him, “He knows all things?” Does the god of LDS theology know all those things that the god who created him knows? Does that god know the prehistory of his existence?

If there is even one thing that God does not know, He cannot be said to be omniscient. If this god of the Book of Mormon is still progressing to some degree or another, there may be morality issues that he has not resolved or even learned. The gods before him and after him may know better than he does.

Psalm 147:5 claims, “Great is our Lord, and of great power: His understanding is infinite.” Notice that the Psalmist is not speaking of a god that is limited in any sense. The God of Scripture is absolute in His knowledge and wisdom and understanding.

So we see that God’s moral laws are not universal and unchanging in LDS theology. However, the Bible presents God as being One who does not change. His laws are never changing, His statutes fixed and unerring, as Romans 11:36 proclaims: “For of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things: to Whom be glory for ever. Amen.”

Moral rules and laws necessarily require an absolute and unchanging God to establish their nature as universal and binding. Hebrews 6:17 gives us this very statement by saying, “Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew [sic] unto the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath.” God does not change His counsel. He will never change His ethical standards. He has made this promise to mankind.

NON-CHRISTIAN MORALITY IS SINFUL

In the previous sections of this book we looked at the LDS teaching on God. We concluded that official LDS doctrines are not in accord with the Old or New Testaments concerning God in matters of ontology and eternality. There are other areas where we will find disagreements between Scripture and LDS teachings, but at the foundation the LDS Church starts with a false view of God.

With a false view of who God is, the LDS community cannot establish the God of Scripture as the basis of any philosophy of Biblical ethics. Therefore, the LDS cannot claim sole dependence on God as the author of LDS ethics.

The ethical positions of the LDS Church may appear on the surface to be identical to Biblical ethics, however, if one does not base their position on the God who is found in the Bible, then one’s ethics are not Biblical and are therefore opposed to Biblical ethics. In short, non-Biblical ethics are essentially sinful.

Dr. RC Sproul, professor of theology at Knox Theological Seminary and Westminster Theological Seminary, identifies the pervasiveness of sin in relation to the holy and universal ethical standards of God from the example of the Old Testament prophet, Isaiah:

  • But if God is and if He is the Lord of the human race, the Creator of all of us, and if He holds us accountable to Him, then there is an objective standard of what is right in His sight. …We consider Isaiah in the temple when he had a vision of the holiness of God. He disintegrated before that appearance of God’s majesty and cried out, “Woe is me, for I am undone, for I am a man of unclean lips.” And then he went on to say, “And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips.” Isaiah recognized that his sinfulness was not unique. The fact that he recognized that other people were also guilty of the same sins did not mean that he was entertaining a judgmental spirit toward those other people. He was simply recognizing the truth of the matter: God was sovereign and holy in relation not only to him but to everybody else as well. 170

In the above illustration we see the human response to the holiness of God. The reaction is both terror and elation when man is confronted with the Holy. Isaiah was compelled to believe that God is sovereign over all authorities on heaven and earth and His authority is the basis for our human condition. How is it possible that a prophet like Isaiah could ever hold that he would achieve that which belonged to the Perfect and Majestic God of the Bible? Isaiah does not paint a picture of achieving godhood; he gives the illustration of subjection to an absolute God.

God’s ethics apply to all of mankind whether mankind recognizes that authority or not. His is an objective standard of righteousness. If the standard of your personal ethics are not based on God’s revealed will, you are not exclusively relying on God as your moral basis; therefore, your ethics are not based on absolute standards and are anthropocentric in origin.

THEISTIC MORAL RELATIVISM

Some may argue that the morals of LDS teachings are no different from the high moral standards of Scripture and are directly attributable to Scriptural revelation, but if God has changed His moral stance on even one point, He is not eternally consistent within His Biblically revealed statements.

There are many striking examples of changes within LDS doctrine regarding God and His ethical teaching. However we will cover only the “Mormon” view of plural marriage to demonstrate the basis of our case.

The revelation of allowing polygamy was revealed to Joseph Smith as morally binding over all LDS saints forever more. However, in 1890, this prophecy originally given by God was suddenly revoked by Him, according to LDS Prophet Wilford Woodruff, during the quest for Utah statehood.

  • In the early days of this dispensation, as part of the promised restitution of all things, the Lord revealed the principle of plural marriage to the Prophet. Later the Prophet and leading brethren were commanded to enter into the practice, which they did in all virtue and purity of heart despite the consequent animosity and prejudices of worldly people. 171 (Bruce McConkie. Mormon Doctrine.)

It is interesting to note the ethical justification within the statement of the teaching. Here, in the face of the doctrine of plural marriage, Bruce McConkie claims that polygamy was pursued in “all virtue and purity of heart.” The original revelation to Joseph Smith was given in Doctrine and Covenants 132. In this section God reportedly told Prophet Smith that multiple wives were allowed within certain boundaries of moral and ethical restraints. God’s character and His immutable laws were called on to validate the allowance of plural marriage in the Old Testament and were brought through to application to Smith’s contemporaries.

At the beginning of the polygamy prophecy, it is stated,

  • “For behold, I reveal unto you a new and everlasting covenant; and if ye abide not that covenant, then are ye damned; for no one can reject this covenant and be permitted to enter into my glory.” (Doctrine and Covenants 132:4)

It did not last even fifty years, much less forever.

Throughout the entirety of this prophecy, ethical and absolute laws are appealed to in order to justify what have must have been a very shocking statement coming from Joseph Smith. Polygamy was endorsed as a practice directly revealed by God to be observed in the LDS community.

In 1890, this doctrine was repealed by the ruling authorities of LDS Church. McConkie, on page 578 of Mormon Doctrine, states “At that time conditions were such that the Lord by revelation withdrew the command to continue the practice, and President Wildord Woodruff issued the Manifesto directing that is it cease.” Please keep in mind that the original prophecy given to Joseph Smith was supposed to be an eternal command given by God Himself. Then, forty-seven years later, it was revoked. McConkie cites numerous Old Testament passages to validate the current LDS position regarding polygamy: one man and one woman is all that God has allowed in the practice of marriage.

What we see is the belief that God can change from allowing single marriage in Scripture to plural marriage in the 1840’s and then change back again in the 1890’s. This is surely not a god who can never change his ethical standards.

If God is to be found true in every circumstance and morality is to be applicable in any uniform, consistent and absolute way, then we must have a universal standard for ethical judgments. What have been promoted by the LDS Church have been nothing more than moral suggestions, not universal laws or standards of ethics. If the ethics of God can change, we have no basis for founding any moral law in Him. If God does not proceed by absolute standards how can we?

SOCIAL ACTION

The LDS Church is committed to evangelization and social action. If the above conclusions are true, then the actions of LDS preaching, mission work and political involvement are directly opposed to Christ and His Word.

In Matthew 28:19, Christ commands that we “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost…” If the philosophy and theology of the LDS Church is, at its very foundation, not based on Christ, then the work of LDS missionaries and the public presentation of Latter-day Saint messages about the Book of Mormon are false. There is no room for equivocation in the words of Christ or of His Apostles. Paul said very plainly in Galatians 1:8-11,

  • But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I yet pleased men, I should be the servant of Christ. But I certify to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.

Being the servant of Christ is the center of Paul’s understanding of the Gospel. Becoming a god is not part of the Gospel. One cannot present the absolute truthfulness of God and His Word and at the same time preach the primacy of man. God does not permit this kind of idolatry.

What has become more apparent as this study has progressed is that LDS theology is very centered on man instead of being centered on God. The whole of the Christian life is to be based on the glory of God, not on the glory of the creature or creation. The Apostle Paul, in Ephesians 1:6, states the purpose of our salvation as being for “the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He hath made us accepted in His beloved.” In verse eleven of chapter one, Paul says that God works all things according to the counsel of His own will and, in verse twelve, says that this is so in order that all things “should be to the praise of His glory…” And finally in verse fourteen, Paul says that our redemption is “unto the praise of His glory.” Notice that nothing having to do with our salvation is done solely for our specific benefit. Salvation does benefit mankind, but everything done on our behalf is for God’s glory. There is a definite difference between the messages of Scripture and those of the LDS Prophets and writings.

Once again, if there are no absolute standards of ethics in LDS theology that have been given by God Himself through His Word, then the LDS missionaries have no way to justify any statement of truth or morality. They have no claim on the Christ of Scripture. They are changing the very focus of Scripture: God is the foundation of all thought and philosophy. All else is unintelligible.

THE INADEQUACY OF THE LDS POSITION

The LDS position cannot even justify belief in their own material. If there is no absolute standard by which to judge, no critique given by the LDS community to opposing arguments is valid. There is no logically possible refutation that can be presented in order to challenge any Biblical argument offered up against their views. That which does not rely exclusively on the unchanging truth of God is philosophically bankrupt.

Any attempt to argue against a universal standard is by definition not absolutely binding. If one were to argue, “Truth is relative,” the argument itself is an absolute statement of truth. To rely on absolutes in order to argue against them is self-defeating and self-deceiving.

With no absolute standard to judge by, there is no way to connect one proposition to another. Coherent thought cannot be rationally justified without a basis of uniformity between facts. As stated above, if a missionary from the Latter-day Saints wishes to convince you of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon, he must do so from a basis that all “truth” in the Book of Mormon is founded in God’s perfect character. If the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon rests on a fallible god, then that truth is subject to change. The promise to save could also be the promise to condemn.

If there is no uniform nature in the way God deals with mankind, we have no reason to believe His words. If there is no uniformity in truth, nothing will have coherence from fact to fact. Facts themselves would have no correspondence to one another. All rational interaction between subjects would be forfeit. In this case, your missionary visitors would have no way to relate any topic to you and make sense out those topics.

If God is truly the Creator, all truth is unified in Him and all things are maintained by Him. If there are such things as absolute principles, ideals, laws, universal standards and ethical judgments, then they must be derived from the absolute and unchanging God.

If God is not the standard, then by what standard shall we judge matters of truth? If God is not the authority, we are setting ourselves up as the authority.

CONCLUSION

The whole of the argument presented here is not about placing verses of the Bible against each other in an effort to disprove LDS doctrines. The discussion is not about individual facts, but the nature of facts and our interpretation of them. Furthermore, if we believe that the whole of truth that God has delivered is unified and based solely in Himself, we would expect that no two passages of Scripture could be pitted against each other.

If God is subject to change or progression, the Bible would be in error. If God is in error or the Bible is in error, we have no basis from which to know any truth. God is the basis of all rational endeavors. Even those who deny Him are forced to borrow His truths in order to argue against Him. Not only is this self-deceptive, it is a demonstration of the inescapability of the permeation of God’s truth in this world. The Aposte Paul, in Romans chapter one, claims that all men know that God is, but they suppress that truth in their unrighteousness. We are called on to plant the seed of His Gospel. The Lord will do the work to bring about a change in the lives of those who currently reject Him. All glory and wisdom and knowledge shall be given to the Lord God Almighty.

We are maintaining that not only does the “Mormon” Church not have a logically coherent answer to this discussion, they cannot rationally justify their opposition to this discussion. At the root, they have a fallible god who changes in nature, character and ethics. The Bible, conversely, presents a perfect, holy and unchangeable God. This God is the foundation of all intelligibility which the LDS cannot refute. It is His Word, not these arguments which is the test of all truth. To not rely on Him is to forfeit all truth and rely on ourselves. Adam and Eve tried to rely on themselves, to be interdependent from God. We must strive to depend on God in all things and bring all thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Studies on the topic of Mormonism range from general knowledge through specific theological issues. In many studies, I have noticed that the authors tend to throw too much opinion and not enough primary source material. I hope that this study will aid the reader in digging deeper into Scripture to find the Truth about the matters that have been raised.

I have spoken to members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in depth. At the end of those discussions I have run into one theme. At some point, the person to whom I am speaking will tell me that the final proof of the Book of Mormon and the LDS Church rests solely on the test from Moroni chapter 10.

  • And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost. And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.169 (Moroni 10:4-5)

This is the final test for the Mormon. However, as I stated in the beginning, Christians and non-Christians alike, all are told to examine the words of men. This is not testing God. Faith is called for, but when presented with someone or something that is claiming to be from God, it must be put to the test of His Word. While taking a mere glimpse of Mormonism, one can find inconsistencies abounding.

Moroni 10:4 is a subjective test based on logical fallacies. To follow the logic of the verses, when I receive the Book of Mormon, I should pray to God if they are true. If one were an Atheist and does not believe in God, why would they pray to God? This presupposes faith in Him. After this, I must have faith in Christ already and at that point, presumably, He will reveal the truth of the Book of Mormon to me. This begs the question whether it is true or not. Maybe when I pray, God will reveal the falsity of the Book of Mormon; certainly this is a possibility, but this passage does not leave room for that possibility. It is left to the reader who still does not believe the Book of Mormon to be true to wonder:

  1. If the Book of Mormon is not revealed to be true, then why has the Holy Ghost not revealed it to me?
  1. If the Holy Spirit has not revealed all these things to be true, the reader apparently does not have the ability to gather truth in all things.

One Mormon friend of mine told me that “When I discovered the truth of the Book of Mormon, I felt like running around and telling everyone how I felt and what I knew to be true.” Well, when children find out about the Easter Bunny, they get a little excited too. I know that this illustration could be considered mockery, but my point is that personal experience proves nothing. If I believed in Communism, that would not make Communism the correct form of government. Even if a system works it may not be true, nor does believing or feeling that something is true make it so.

My ultimate hope for this study is that the reader may be better equipped at presenting the Gospel to a Mormon follower. Paul was not ignorant of the Greeks when he spoke to them. He knew of their false deities. In a similar manner, a general understanding of LDS doctrine is essential in speaking to a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Christianity is not full of blind followers. Even though I may suggest that one be familiar with LDS theology to effectively witness to them, a replacement does not exist for the truths taught in the Bible.

Understanding these doctrinal differences are extremely important. I would suggest that a person speaking to a “Mormon” not start the conversation by debating different points of doctrine, though it is important. Starting with the Gospel and salvation in Christ will help direct the confrontation to what I believe is central to any discussion in religious matters. Mormon missionaries generally have short, one line answers for many questions that non-Mormons ask. Most of them are not prepared to discuss the heart of the Gospel from Scripture; their presentations are all carefully scripted by their Church leaders. They know what their Church teaches and they know what they are expected to say to people to whom they are witnessing. Encourage them to back up what they say by Scripture. Do not accept a subjective test of truth. Read Scripture in context and challenge your Mormon friend to do the same.

Without a proper understanding of the Gospel, the individual doctrines become irrelevant in any further discussions. Without a Biblical understanding of Christ and the Gospel, the individual doctrines of the LDS Church cannot be supported.


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Theology

1) Gospel Principles. Pg. 18.
2) Young, Brigham. Discourses of Brigham Young. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City. 11:272.
3) Doctrine and Covenants. 10:191.
4) Smith, Joseph Fielding. Answers to Gospel Questions. Volume 3. Salt LakeCity: Deseret Books, 1993. Pg. 75.
5) Doctrine and Covenants. 13:178.
6) Doctrine and Covenants. 10:282.

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