This post is starting what I hope will be a series of posts looking at what Mormonism teaches. A few days ago I was in a forum where the question was asked: “Do you consider Mormons to be Christians?” I knew enough about Mormonism to be confident in my answer of “No, I do not think they are.” However, I didn’t know enough to be able to explain why I believed this. So I started looking up what they believe. I’m not trying to explain any back history of Mormonism (though I have studied that as well). My goal is to objectively look at Mormonism through the lens of what the Bible teaches. This series will be a comparison of doctrine. My main source for this study was “The Kingdom of the Cults” by Walter Martin (edited by Ravi Zacharias).
That being said, this first post will look at a handful of smaller issues I found. Later posts will hopefully deal with things such as God, the Holy Spirit, and Salvation.
1. The Birthplace of Jesus.
The Place of Christ’s birth is common knowledge among Christians. Famous Christmas carols proclaim the little town of Bethlehem to be Christ’s place of birth. In the Old Testament the prophecy was made that “from [Bethlehem] shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel” (Micah 5.2). This prophecy was fulfilled in the New Testament gospels: “Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judah…” (Matt. 2.1); “And Joseph also went up from Galilee… to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem… And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth.” (Lk. 2.4-7).
The Book of Mormon gets the geographical location wrong in the recording of a prophecy of Jesus’ birth: “for behold, the kingdom of heaven is at hand, and the Son of God cometh upon the face of the earth. And behold, he shall be born of Mary, at Jerusalem which is the land of our forefathers.” (Alma 7.9,10).
2. When Does a Person Receive the Sin Nature?
The Bible teaches that the entirety of a person’s life is lived with the sin nature, from conception to death. “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me” (Ps. 51.5). Romans 5.12-15 teaches that because Adam sinned, death and the sin nature was passed on to all people. Paul also said in Romans that “none is righteous; no, not one…” (3.10-12).
The Book of Mormon teaches that Jesus withholds the curse of Adam from little children. “Listen to the words of Christ, your Redeemer, your Lord and your God. Behold, I came into the world not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance; the whole need no physician, but they that are sick; wherefore, little children are whole, for they are not capable of committing sin; wherefore the curse of Adam is taken from them in me, that it hath no power over them” (Moroni 8.8 emphasis added). I want to be careful to note that the chapter doesn’t seem to indicate what the age limit is for this withholding of Adam’s curse. But from what I read it seems that Mormons hold the curse being withheld until age 8.
We now move from Mormon books contradicting the Bible to some contradictions solely within Mormon literature.
3. How Does a Mormon Receive Remission of Their Sins?
a. By Baptism – “Blessed are they who shall believe in your words, and come down into the depths of humility and be baptized, for they shall visited with fire and with the Holy Ghost , and shall receive a remission of their sins.” (3 Nephi 12.2)
“Behold, baptism is unto repentance to the fulfilling the commandments unto the remission of sins.” (Moroni 8.11)
b. By Salvation (receiving the spirit of Christ) “All those who humble themselves… and truly manifest by their works that they have received of the spirit of Christ unto the remission of sin.” (Doctrine and Covenants 20.37)
4. Altering Stances on Polygamy
Forever a thorn in the side of Mormonism, polygamy is always used as a negative against the Mormon church. (for the record, I consider polygamy to be a gross sin.) The reason I bring it up here is because there are contradictory statements about the issue in Mormon holy books.
a. Pro – “Go ye therefore, and do the works of Abraham; enter ye into my law and ye shall be saved… God commanded Abraham, and Sarah gave Hagar to Abraham to wife. And why did she do it? Because this was the Law; and from Hagar sprang many people.” (Doctrine and Covenants 132.32,34. This chapter of Doctrine and Covenants references several Old Testament characters as evidence for a commandment of polygamy). The inference here is that Hagar was given to Abraham in order to fulfill a law of polygamy.
b. Con – “Wherefore, I the Lord God will not suffer that this people shall do like unto them of old. Wherefore, my brethren, hear me, and hearken to the word of the Lord: For there shall not any man among you have save it be one wife; and concubines he shall have none.” (Jacob 2.26-27)