Rev. Brent W. Kuhlman
There they are! You spot them. White shirts. Black ties. Handsome young men. Sometimes they’re lovely young girls. They come in pairs. Walking down your street. Or riding bicycles on the sidewalk. Walking right up to your house! Then to your door. The doorbell rings. You open the door. And the first words out of their mouth are: “Hello, we’re from The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints (LDS).” Mormons!1
Be warned! They don’t come a knockin’ to chat about the weather or about how nice your house is. They are on a mission! A very dark mission to turn you from the Christian faith. To get you to deny your baptism. To deny the holy Trinity. To get you to trust in what you do or don’t do perfectly for “salvation.” To get you on the road to becoming a god yourself!2 And it all starts with that opening greeting at the door: “We’re from The Church of Jesus of the Latter-day Saints.” Their official name reveals a great deal of what Mormons believe. Let’s break it down.
When they say “the” church, the emphasis is on the definite article. It means exactly what it says! “The” means “only.” As in the one and only church that exists on the earth. Seriously! No joke! They’re part of it. You’re not. That’s why they are there at your door. That’s right. I said it. And it bears repeating. Mormons believe that they are the only true church on the earth.
Mormons believe that true Christianity went the way of the dodo bird or the dinosaurs (extinction) shortly after the death of the apostles. Up until 1820 the church of Jesus Christ did not exist! Really? For all those centuries Christianity didn’t exist? That’s right! That’s the entire point of their greeting.
Therefore, the Mormon god of this world, heavenly Father, who was once a man like we are, together with his son the Mormon Jesus, got the true church of Jesus Christ cranked up once again in 1820. It happened when a young man named Joseph Smith was praying in the woods to find out which denomination was true. Supposedly, that’s when Heavenly Father and Jesus show up in a vision and declare (and I paraphrase): “Joseph! All the denominations on the earth are false! We’re going to restore the true church again in these latter days! And we’re going to use you to do it! Mormonism is Christianity! Christianity is Mormonism! Now get to work! Spread the news!”
Then, in 1823, according to Latter-day Saint history, Joseph Smith received a visit from Moroni, the son of the prophet Mormon. Moroni revealed ancient gold plates that were written in the language of Reformed Egyptian (no such language, by the way). Smith is said to have translated the golden plates with a seer stone. The translation is the Book of Mormon, another supposed testament of Jesus Christ.
Bottom line: This is exactly why the Mormon missionaries are after you! In order to truly be a Christian you have to convert to Mormonism. You have to become a member of The [one and only] Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints! Do not be fooled! Do not be deceived! Mormonism is not Christianity! Christianity is not Mormonism! Not even close! First, officially the LDS denies the Trinity even though they use the same terms as “Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.” When Mormons say Father they usually mean “Heavenly Father” (one of millions of gods)--the only God for this world. Did you catch that? Only for this world! That, of course, implies that there are other divinities with their own worlds and your goal as a Mormon is to achieve such godhood and have a world for yourself!
Second, do not be deceived when Mormons speak of Jesus. He is a different Jesus than the Bible teaches and the Creeds faithfully confess. For Mormons, Jesus is the first spirit child of Heavenly Father and that Satan is also his spirit brother. In addition, they believe that Jesus was conceived by Heavenly Father through physical relations with the virgin Mary and that Jesus married several women in his life. When Mormons speak of Jesus as their Savior or Redeemer they usually are working with three definitions: 1) Jesus did not do everything for your salvation but he did conquer physical death; 2) Jesus paid your debt and he is very patient with you as you work very hard to pay him back in full by your obedience to Mormon teachings (e.g. married in the temple, doing your mission, proxy baptisms for the dead, moral living, etc.), and 3) Jesus is your example, i.e. he shows you how to save yourself (become a god)!
Christianity is just the opposite. God is one divine being or essence (Deut. 6:4; 1 Corinthians 8:4; John 10:30). God is three distinct persons (Psalm 2:7; John 10:30; 15:26; Galatians 4:6; Matthew 28:19-20; 2 Corinthians 13:14; Matthew 3:16-17). Trinity! Triune! Three persons–one God! One God–three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit!
Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit when Gabriel preached the divine word into Mary’s ears (Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 1:26-38). He is the only-begotten Son of the Father from eternity (John 1:1, 14, 18; 3:16; Romans 8:32. Jesus alone does the salvation verbs in Scripture. God was in Jesus reconciling the world to Himself (2 Corinthians 5:19). It is only the blood of Jesus that cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7). Faith only in the crucified and risen Jesus is what saves sinners (John 3:15-16, 36; 6:29, 40; 11:42; 20:31; Romans 1:17; 3:21-28; 4; 5:1-2; Galatians 3:11, 26; Ephesians 2:4, 8).
In addition, Jesus promised that not even the gates of hell would prevail against His church (Matthew 16:18). The church has always been around! Wherever the Word is taught in its truth and purity and the sacraments are administered according to Christ’s mandate and institution, the Lord Jesus is sustaining His church.
Finally, because of what Jesus has done for you and for your salvation, you are content to be creatures. We reject the satanic temptation to be like God (Genesis 3:5)! The Lord has good use for you as a human in service for your neighbor–even if that neighbor is a Mormon. And that can begin by replying: “Well hello there! I’m a died for and baptized Christian! Come on in and let me tell you about Jesus and his church to which I belong!”3
1 ”Mormon” is the name of a prophet in the Book of Mormon. Joseph Fielding Smith, a Mormon prophet, stated: “we should all emphasize, that we belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the name the Lord has given by which we are to be known and called,” (Book of Mormon Manual, 126).
2 The Mormon terms of “exaltation,” “gaining eternal life,” and “having an eternal family” are synonyms for a Mormon’s ultimate goal: godhood! The essential text that teaches this goal is Doctrine and Covenants 132:19-20. One of the first things that a Mormon child learns is this couplet: “As man now is, God once was; As God now is, man may be,” (The Life and Teachings of Jesus & His Apostles, 59).
3 To help you to witness to Mormons see Mark J. Cares, Speaking the Truth in Love to Mormons (Milwaukee: Northwestern Publishing House, 1993).
Rev. Brent W. Kuhlman is pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church, Murdock, NE. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org