There is an amusing scene in the 1990 film Back to the Future III in which time-traveler Marty McFly, exploring his home town in the year 2015, encounters a holographic projection of a shark as part of the marquee at a theater showing Jaws 19. At first taken by surprise, Marty recovers and comments, “The shark still looks fake.”

I must confess that I have a similar reaction to the latest “sequel” in the long-running debate over whether Mormons are or can be Christians, prompted this time around by the conservative TV talk-show host Glenn Beck. Do we really need to discuss this question again? Apparently we do, given the lack of clarity that continues to characterize much of what is said on the subject.

The Christian blogosphere recently lit up following the comments of World Magazine online columnist Andrée Seu in which she spoke of Beck not just as a Christian, but as “a new creation in Christ” who is “red hot” toward God. “I can say without hesitation that I have not heard the essentials of the gospel more clearly and boldly in any church than on his program.” Seu acknowledged that Beck is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and admitted that Mormon doctrine is problematic, but described Beck as a latter-day Apollos who needs a Priscilla and Aquila to help him with his theology.

Never Mind!

Evangelical bloggers were quick to contradict Seu. Justin Taylor, one of the most insightful Christians blogging today, commented on “Andrée Seu’s Tragic Mistake on the Gospel of Glenn Beck.” Taylor warned: “It is easy to be moved by talk of having faith in Jesus, without asking who the person understands Jesus to be…. Despite what mainline evangelicalism has taught for years, the gospel is not ‘I trusted in Jesus and he changed my life.’” Russell Moore, an astute Southern Baptist theologian, argued that evangelical enthusiasm for Beck’s religious rhetoric is a sign that American evangelicals have largely traded the gospel for American civil religion:

“It’s taken us a long time to get here, in this plummet from Francis Schaeffer to Glenn Beck. In order to be this gullible, American Christians have had to endure years of vacuous talk about undefined ‘revival’ and ‘turning America back to God’ that was less about anything uniquely Christian than about, at best, a generically theistic civil religion and, at worst, some partisan political movement.”

World Magazine acknowledged Taylor’s blog and offered a retraction, stating, “Our website editing system failed in regard to Andrée’s post about Glenn Beck.” In a separate article, the magazine’s editor-in-chief, Marvin Olasky, echoed Moore’s assessment: “Beck is syncretizing Mormon and Christian understanding in the service of a civil religion, but that’s a radically unequal yoking for reasons WORLD has pointed out before.”

One thing that seems to have been overlooked up to now is that Taylor and Moore offer two fundamentally different—and possibly incompatible—diagnoses of the problem. Both argue that evangelical enthusiasm for Beck reveals a lack of discernment and a shallow understanding of the gospel among American evangelicals. Taylor worries that Beck’s evangelical supporters are under the mistaken impression that anyone who claims that Jesus changed his life has accepted the gospel. Moore contends that those same evangelicals have mistaken American civil religion for the gospel. So which is it? Does Beck represent a personal-transformation gospel focused on Jesus as life-changer or a civil-religion gospel focused on a generic theism as the foundation for a stable society? I suppose it is possible to mix the two messages, and perhaps there are elements of both in Beck, but they don’t mesh naturally.

Mormon doctrine in two minutes

The main objection to viewing Beck as an advocate for the gospel is that the theology of the LDS Church, of which Beck is a member, is radically incompatible with the biblical gospel. The divide between biblical teaching and Mormon doctrine is so wide that from an evangelical perspective Mormonism falls outside the circle of acceptable, authentic expressions of the Christian faith. The crucial problems with LDS doctrine that impinge directly on one’s view of Jesus Christ and the gospel include the following unbiblical claims:

  • All human beings preexisted in heaven, where they were the offspring of heavenly parents (God the Father and a “heavenly mother”), before their natural conception here on earth.
  • Our Heavenly Father was a man who became a God—proving that we, too, can become gods.
  • Jesus Christ is the “firstborn” of God’s billions of spirit children and the first of those children to become a God.
  • As such, Christ is one of three Gods in the “Godhead,” as is the Holy Spirit, another of God’s spirit sons.
  • Christ is the “Only Begotten,” which means that he is the only human being whom God the Father literally begat in the flesh. God is Jesus’ literal father in the flesh (allowing Jesus to “inherit” some divine powers other humans do not have) and Mary is his literal mother.
  • Christ’s atonement guarantees immortal life in some heavenly kingdom to virtually all human beings, including those who willfully reject Christ.
  • Christ (and God the Father) appeared to Joseph Smith to tell him to join none of the churches because all of them were wrong and their creeds were an abomination.
  • Through Joseph Smith, God restored lost scriptures (e.g., the Book of Mormon) and inspired new ones (Doctrine & Covenants), from which Mormons learn the doctrines that set them apart from the rest of Christianity.
  • Christ organized the only true Church in these latter days with a hierarchical system of “priesthood authority” required to teach or baptize others.
  • Full forgiveness of sins and entrance into the highest heavenly kingdom, where God and Christ live, come to those who become members of the LDS Church, follow its teachings, and participate in its temple rituals, notably baptisms and other rites performed on behalf of the dead.
  • The ultimate goal of the gospel and of LDS religion is to become gods, with the same powers and potential as the Heavenly Father.

You can find full documentation and discussion of these doctrinal problems in the LDS faith on the website of the Institute for Religious Research (IRR), where I am the director of research. In particular, we provide a thorough analysis of the doctrine taught in the LDS Church’s basic manual on doctrine, called Gospel Principles. Frankly, the evidence is overwhelming that the LDS understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ is radically different from that of the Bible.

“Mormons are not Christians”: Do they hear what we hear?

As I have already observed, these differences deal with such basic elements of Christianity that from an evangelical perspective we must conclude that Mormonism falls outside the boundaries of doctrinally authentic, theologically viable Christian faith. The usual shorthand way of making this point is to say that Mormons are not Christians. Unfortunately, what such a statement achieves in simplicity and rhetorical punch it loses in clarity and comprehension. What people hear when they are told that Mormons are not Christians may be any of the following:

1.      “Mormons are not nice people.”
2.       “Mormons are really part of another religion altogether, such as Hinduism.”
3.      “Mormons are another entirely different religion by themselves.”
4.       “Mormons are not saved from eternal condemnation.”

All four of these meanings are problematic.

(1) Many Mormons are very nice people indeed, so this statement is also objectively false, even assuming that it is ever appropriate to use the term Christian to mean a nice person.

(2) It is objectively false to classify Mormonism as part of another world religion, such as Hinduism. Regrettably, some Christians have actually tried to make the case that Mormonism is Hindu. Dave Hunt and Ed Decker, in their notorious book The God Makers (Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 1984), argued as much:

“Although it uses Christian language to disguise its paganism, Mormonism is less Christian than it is Hindu. The basic dilemma faced by every Mormon is a direct result of its Hindu roots” (60).

The claim that Mormonism has “Hindu roots” is historically false. Mormonism historically arose as a Christian heresy—a religious offshoot of Christianity that still retains a focus on Christ as its central religious figure, albeit reinterpreted in a thoroughly unbiblical way. The LDS religion has no historical or religious connection to Hinduism and rejects basic Hindu concepts (e.g., Mormonism rejects the worship of idols, pantheism, reincarnation, and karma). There are similarities between Hinduism and Mormonism (as there are between any two religions), such as a belief in a plurality of gods, but such comparisons are superficial because the similar-sounding affirmations have completely different meanings in the contexts of the two religious traditions.

(3) Others have argued that Mormonism is sui generis, that is, in a class by itself, sufficiently distinct from Christianity to be classified as a new world religion. Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, suggests that instead of viewing Mormonism as a “Christian faith” we should classify it charitably as “the fourth Abrahamic faith.” That is, Land proposes that we view Mormonism as a religion stemming from the Abrahamic tradition alongside Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. This way of classifying Mormonism simply will not hold up. There is no more reason to classify Mormonism as a new Abrahamic faith than there is to so classify the Jehovah’s Witnesses, a Christian heresy as large or larger and as diffused throughout the world as Mormonism. Indeed, there are numerous sects of Christianity that distance themselves theologically and religiously from orthodox Christianity while insisting that theirs is the true Christian church; Mormonism is simply one among many such sects. Historical, religious, and theological comparisons demonstrate that the Mormon tradition (including both the LDS Church and its hundred-plus splinter sects) belong in the broader category of “restorationist” Christian movements that view themselves as the instrument of true Christianity today. These include Adventism and its offshoots, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Christadelphianism and other forms of so-called Biblical Unitarianism, Oneness Pentecostalism, the Sacred Name groups, The Way International and its offshoots, and the LDS Church and its offshoots, among others.

(4) It may well be argued that LDS doctrine and religion are so far removed from the biblical gospel that most Mormons will not believe the true gospel as long as they remain committed to LDS doctrine. However, this leaves plenty of room for a small fraction of LDS Church members to believe the biblical gospel in defiance or ignorance of their religion’s teachings. In any religion, there are always people who still consider themselves members but who are rethinking their beliefs or who are transitioning out of the religion. Many evangelicals who have come out of the LDS Church found saving faith in Christ before they removed themselves from the LDS membership rolls. Indeed, some retain their LDS membership, hoping eventually to bring their families and friends out with them. One could argue that such individuals are Mormons in name only, but again, there are people along a spectrum of situations from true-blue Mormons through pick-and-choose Mormons to Mormons in name only. The point is that unqualified generalizations about all Mormons are difficult to justify. And of course, we are not competent to judge the souls of other people, although we can make educated guesses as to their faith based on what we can observe.

A more nuanced statement of point (4) would be to say that we should presume that Mormons who accept and follow the LDS understanding of the gospel will be lost unless they repent and accept the biblical gospel (Eph. 2:1-10; Titus 3:4-7). Putting the matter this way recognizes the spiritually destructive effects of the false teachings of the LDS Church, while allowing for the fact that sometimes it is difficult to tell whether or to what extent a particular Mormon actually accepts (or understands) LDS doctrine. If this is the position that evangelicals should take—and I think it is—it becomes problematic to make the generalized, unqualified statement that Mormons are not Christians. That is, it is unlikely that anyone hearing “Mormons are not Christians” will understand this to carry the nuanced meaning “Mormons who follow the LDS understanding of the gospel are presumed lost.” If we want people to hear what we really mean, we must try to articulate our view more accurately, even if it loses some punch.

One might suppose that the problem can be avoided by saying that Mormonism is not Christian—that is, by punting on the question of whether Mormons are Christians and instead asserting only that the religion of Mormonism is itself not Christian. This may be something of an improvement, but the same sorts of problems remain. If Mormonism is not Christian, what is it? It is not part of another religion, nor is it a completely different religion.

Of course, from an evangelical theological perspective it can be even more misleading to say, without qualification, that Mormons are Christians, or that Mormonism is Christian. Such statements would seem erroneously to concede that the LDS Church is a legitimate denomination of Christianity, standing alongside those denominations and independent church bodies that affirm the essentials of the biblical gospel. I’m all for stating matters as generously as we can, but not at the expense of the truth of the gospel.

Considerations such as those just discussed are the reason why, for several years now, I have argued that we should view the question “Are Mormons Christians?” as unproductive at best and misleading at worst. The question assumes that we should give it an unqualified “Yes” or “No” answer, neither of which is fully satisfactory. About three years ago on this very blog I addressed this question at some length, arguing that the answer depends on how one defines the term Christian. (That blog post was lost due to technical issues, so I re-posted it about two years ago with some revisions at IRR’s blog, The Religious Researcher.) If by “Christians” one means all members of all of the religious groups that belong to the world-religions classification of Christianity, then of course in that generic sense Mormons are Christians, along with everyone else who claims to be. If one uses the term to denote persons who have been saved from eternal condemnation through their faith in Jesus Christ, then the best answer we can give is that most Mormons evidently are not Christians in that sense although some may be. Evangelicals would also have to hedge their answer if they were asked “Are Southern Baptists Christians?” or even “Are evangelicals Christians?” since not all Southern Baptists or evangelicals have genuinely come to saving faith in Christ. After all, basic to evangelical doctrine is the conviction that merely accepting evangelical doctrine, or associating oneself with an evangelical denomination, will not save anyone, since it is through personal faith or trust in Christ, not merely doctrinal correctness or the right religious affiliation, that God saves us.

To avoid overreaching, I have proposed that we make qualified statements that are defensible as objective statements of fact concerning the LDS faith. For example, we can state that Mormons are not orthodox Christians, or that LDS theology is heretical. Mormons will, of course, dispute our understanding of what is orthodox and what is heretical, but we can define these terms to convey an objective meaning. For example, we can stipulate that orthodox means in agreement with the major Christian doctrines articulated in the creeds from the first through the fifth centuries, while heretical means deviating from those doctrinal standards. We should, in short, make clear that while we acknowledge that Mormons sincerely regard themselves to be followers of Jesus Christ, we are convinced that the LDS religious tradition is at odds with the essentials of the Christian faith as taught in the Bible.

Back to Beck

The need for a more flexible and nuanced approach to the subject of whether Mormons are Christians is well illustrated with the example of Glenn Beck. Let me state categorically that I have absolutely no inkling or opinion as to the state of Beck’s soul or the genuineness of his faith in Christ. I have never met him, do not follow his program, and do not have enough information on which to base a conclusion. The fact that Beck is LDS is, of course, of great concern and creates a general presumption that he is in need of the biblical gospel of salvation. On the other hand, there does seem to be some evidence that Beck’s personal understanding of the gospel is at least far closer to the evangelical message than one would expect of a typical Mormon. Consider, for example, the assessment of Beck’s soteriology (doctrine of salvation) offered just a few weeks ago by Bill McKeever. McKeever is the director of Mormonism Research Ministry, an evangelical parachurch organization based in the Salt Lake City area, right in the heart of the Mormon culture. McKeever and his associates at MRM are far from “soft” on Mormonism. They regard it as a heretical distortion of Christianity, and they actively seek to help Christians share the true gospel with Mormons. McKeever recently wrote an article for his website on “The Not-So Mormon Soteriology of Glenn Beck” in which he quoted the following remarks made by Beck on his television program on July 13, 2010:

“You cannot earn your way into heaven. You can’t! There is no deed, no random act of kindness, no amount of money to spread around to others that earns you a trip to heaven. It can’t happen. It’s earned by God’s grace alone, by believing that Jesus died on the cross for you. This is what Christians believe…. I also am wise enough to know that people will say, yeah, but Glenn Beck is a Mormon, he’s not even a real Christian. You can believe what you want. I will tell you that I am a man who needed the atonement more than most people do. I appreciate the atonement. I accept Jesus as my Savior. I know that I am alive today because I did give all of it to Him because I couldn’t carry it anymore.”

McKeever, who wonders aloud if Beck’s “close relationships with several evangelical Christians are not having a positive effect,” concludes that “it seems apparent that Beck does not agree with traditional Mormon soteriology…. Whether or not he knows he is out of harmony with his church, I cannot say, but if I understand the above correctly, he most certainly is.” McKeever admits that Beck might mean something different from what his words mean to evangelicals, but he finds no reason to suspect that Beck is anything but sincere and straightforward.

The point, again, is not to argue that Beck is or is not a Christian in the sense of someone genuinely redeemed from sin through authentic faith in Jesus Christ. He may be, we may and should hope that he is or will be, and those of us who have opportunity to engage him or other Mormons like him should caringly present the biblical gospel without compromise. The point, rather, is that in the real world people’s beliefs and affiliations are not always consistent or cut-and-dried. Most people’s thinking reflects a mix of religious, philosophical, and cultural beliefs, values, and assumptions. Making blanket statements about whether the members of a particular group are or are not Christians mistakenly assumes a uniformity of belief within the group that in most cases is simply not there. Avoiding such statements will enhance our credibility with those whom we are seeking to reach with biblical truth. It will help to foster mutual respect and constructive dialogue with those who need to know what true Christianity really means.

C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Find him on Patreon Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. Join his Patreon and support his ministry

    238 replies to "ARE MORMONS CHRISTIANS 19: Glenn Beck and that Question Again"

    • Seth R.

      Bob, I’m well aware of the changes to the text – the vast majority of which were mere typos either by Joseph Smith, his scribe or the typesetter.

      To these changes, I say – so what? Does being a prophet of God mean that you will now have perfect spelling and grammar?

      I must have missed the memo on that one.

      Of the substantive changes in content – all of those happened in the 1980s when the LDS Church finally obtained copies of Joseph’s original draft manuscripts from the RLDS Church (a breakaway faction of the movement Joseph Smith founded). Those documents allowed the LDS Church to make alterations to the text to make it CLOSER to the original translation Joseph made.

      Again, not a big problem, if you ask me.

    • Bob


      I’m trying to help you understand Mormon doctrine NOT because I believe it, but because I UNDERSTAND it, from THEIR perspective. But if you won’t believe what I’m telling you the average Mormon believes, what is the point in continuing the discussion? If you are so obsessed with what JS taught, even if the average member doesn’t have that understanding or belief, why don’t you take it up with him? Oh yeah, because he’s DEAD!

      The entire Old Testament is basically one story after another explaining how God revealed His character to mankind. The law and ordinances made absolutely no sense to those people, yet they were saved out of their obedience and trust in God. It was only after Jesus came and explained it that they finally understood. Even the apostles struggled with understanding what Jesus was teaching them.

      And who’s to say God has finished revealing everything there is to know about Himself? Is it really out of the realm of possibility that when Jesus returns, He could explain more about the universe and the nature of God than has already been revealed? Could He not say, “Oh, and here is your God Uncle Bernie. We didn’t want to tell you about Him because we could already see how confused you were just trying to understand the 3 of Us. Besides, you aren’t subject to Him anyway. He has His own Universe in the 35th dimension.”?

      If I say God is an alien, is that blasphemy? Yet, God is not from this Earth, and therefor by definition MUST be an alien.

      BTW, Catholics believe the bread and wine LITERALLY become the body and blood of Christ. Are they cannibals? Can they be saved with that understanding? Just curious.

      And why do you even CARE what Mormons believe? What are you trying to accomplish with all of this? Why don’t you go try to convert some Muslims. I think we’d ALL agree that THEY aren’t saved, right?

    • Bob

      “To these changes, I say – so what? Does being a prophet of God mean that you will now have perfect spelling and grammar?”

      Sorry Seth, you can’t have it both ways. There are many stories that talk about how precise God was in the translation process. No, it was made clear that God did not allow JS to make any mistakes, that’s why it was such a perfect record.

      And there are a LOT of other mistakes, such as using words that hadn’t been invented yet. Revealing the name of Jesus before it had been revealed (he had to really make a quick adjustment to fix that one). There’s much more, but you can search that out for yourself.

      Like I said, you can dismiss this or that. But after a while, I found myself saying, OK, this is getting ridiculous. Eventually it just became a mountain of evidence that had to be dismissed with increasingly implausible explanations, all them in the church’s favor.

      I was happy in the church, and I was very sad to find out it was a fraud. But in the end, the truth is what matters most of all. And I still say, no matter what these other yahoo’s think of you, I believe you ARE a Christian, even if you have a messed up view of things 😉

      Love God
      Love Your Neighbor
      Jesus IS the Christ


    • Seth R.

      Bob, you are merely passing along popular LDS folk doctrine. Folk doctrine that I do not subscribe to.

      Rob, the adoptive model of divine parentage is not uniquely mine alone. Apostle Orson Pratt agreed with me too. Here’s a quote:

      “Here let me bring for the satisfaction of the Saints, the testimony of the vision given to our Prophet and Revelator Joseph Smith, and Sidney Rigdon, on the 16th day of February, 1832 . . . Notice this last expression, “the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God,” (meaning the different worlds that have been created and made.) Notice, this does not say, that God, whom we serve and worship, was actually the Father Himself, in His own person, of all these sons and daughters of the different worlds; but they “are begotten sons and daughters unto God;” that is, begotten by those who are made like Him, after His image, and in His likeness; they begat sons and daughters, and begat them unto God, to inhabit these different worlds we have been speaking of.”
      —Orson Pratt, August 29, 1852. Journal of Discourses 1:57

      I might have some more for you later, but rest assured – I didn’t just make this up.

    • Ed Kratz


      You wrote:

      “Rob, in your comment 136, I might have more to say on the subject, but for now I’ll just note that Heiser was making the argument that ‘alone’ can just as easily mark distinctiveness and incomparability – not necessarily that Jehovah was the only being with a hand in creation.”

      That wasn’t Heiser’s point. Where does he make this statement with regard to the meaning of Isaiah 44:24 or any other biblical text that speaks about creation?

      It’s true that Heiser and some other scholars maintain that some of the “only” language of the Bible in reference to Jehovah as the only God is speaking of his incomparability, but this isn’t a carte blanche to be used in any text where words like “only” or “alone” or “by myself” appear.

      You wrote:

      “If you want to say that Jehovah had an incomparable and unsurpassed role in the creation, sure – Mormons are definitely on board with that.”

      Really? Jehovah’s role in creation is unsurpassed — and thus not even surpassed by the role of Heavenly Father? Remember, in LDS theology, Jehovah is the name of the preexistent Jesus Christ, not the name of the Father.

      I’m afraid this is no way out for the LDS doctrine of creation.

    • Seth R.

      So you say, but you haven’t provided a good reason why the Isaiah passage cannot be simply referring to Jehovah’s incomparability, and not his ontological status of being alone.

      Since God the Father delegated the creation of the world to Jehovah, yes – his role was unsurpassed. There is no reason to take an teleologically absolutist reading on any of these passages.

      You keep trying to smuggle ontology into the equation – but such Greek philosophical notions have no established place in either the Bible or uniquely LDS scripture.

    • Ed Kratz


      You wrote:

      “Rob in Matthew 5:17-18, Jesus is talking about the original uncorrupted version of the Law (or ‘scripture’ as you infer). He is not automatically making a statement about your present canonized Bible, nor was he making a categorical statement about the scriptures as the Jews of his day had them either. To assert such is to merely engage in question-begging.”

      I’m afraid you are engaging in “Mormon eisegesis” here. Jesus makes no qualification or says anything that would suggest that he was speaking in reference to a hypothetical “original uncorrupted version” as distinguished from the existing OT scripture of his own day. This is an idea you are reading into the text, and indeed one that is alien to the text. When Jesus says, “not one jot or tittle will pass away from the Law until all is accomplished,” this statement would be meaningless and irrelevant if “the Law” at that moment was a corrupted text from which a significant amount of material had been lost or altered in some way. Indeed, if the LDS view of the OT is correct, a great deal had already been lost from the Law–and yet Jesus claims not the smallest letter or stroke of the Law would pass away until all of it was accomplished. In context, Jesus’ point is that what he is about to say with regard to the application of the Law (5:21-48) is not to be construed as in any way challenging the authority of the Law. He is criticizing Pharisaic interpretations of the Law, not the Law itself.

      You wrote:

      “Matthew 22:29 is no help at all in this debate. Because it leaves entirely open the question of WHY the Jews knew not the scriptures.

      Could it be because they had a corrupted version of the scriptures?”

      Seth, you’re smarter than this. Jesus wasn’t disputing with “the Jews,” but with one particular party or sect of Judaism. In this passage, Jesus is criticizing the Sadducees, who disputed the canonical authority of all of the books of the OT outside the five books of the Pentateuch (Law, Torah). Their position on Scripture contrasts with that of the Pharisees, who accepted the same books in their Jewish Scripture as Protestants do today. Jesus could have challenged them on this point — he held to the same canon of old-covenant Scripture as the Pharisees — but instead he challenged their *understanding* of the Scriptures. Meeting them on their own ground with regard to the extent of the canon of Scripture, he backed up his position by quoting from the Torah (specifically Exodus 3), even though he could have quoted from other texts in (for example) Psalms or Daniel.

      You wrote:

      “John 10:35 is no help to you either because it merely speaks of a specific passage (and incidentally, a problematic passage for Evangelicals in debating with Mormons), not the entire modern canon.”

      Jesus’ statement “and the Scripture cannot be broken” is a general principle that he is applying to the Psalm, not an assertion that whereas other scriptures might be broken this one happens to be a good one! That is a very creative but contextually implausible reading of the passage.

      You wrote:

      “Sure there are various instances of Jesus approvingly quoting Old Testament passages. But this does not even come close to being a convincing argument for inerrancy of the whole Old Testament. Or the New Testament.”

      Since the NT didn’t exist yet, no one would reasonably expect Jesus’ statements about Scripture to refer expressly to those future writings. So that is a red herring that has nothing to do with the issue here. in the four Gospels, Jesus makes various statements about the authority and truth of Scripture, all of them unqualifiedly positive, and never, ever says anything to question or detract from the truth or reliability of anything in the OT. All of the evidence we have from the Gospels and from Jesus’ first-century Christian followers shows that he viewed Scripture as the unerringly reliable word of God. The burden of proof is on you to provide some evidence to the contrary.

    • Ed Kratz


      You can leave the big words in your dictionary and focus on the issue. They aren’t making your argument any clearer or more cogent.

      Your argument essentially leaves us with the conclusion that God the Father did not perform the work of creation; that his role was insignificant compared to that of Jesus Christ. That is not only patently unbiblical, it is not even Mormon. Even LDS doctrine credits the Father with planning and designing creation, which hardly makes his role insignificant compared to Christ’s. Furthermore, you have the obvious problem that Genesis 1 credits Elohim with creating the world and everything in it. Since LDS theology identifies Elohim as the Father and Jehovah as the Son, you’ve got another problem here.

    • teleologist


      How many times are you going to change the subject here?

      I’ll bite. How many times did I change the subject? Can you list each instance that I change the subject, what I said originally and then the comment where I changed to a different subject? Or maybe is this your Mormon ad hominem tactic when you are losing the argument?

    • Mike


      I don’t think I’ve been going straight to calculus. I understand that the average member might not talk about these issues the way I do, but it is likely because they aren’t used to explicitly linking these doctrines to their Biblical roots, which is what I’ve been doing. Joseph’s pattern from day one was that when he encountered a Biblical verse that he didn’t fully understand, or that the rest of Christianity left unexplained, he would pray about it. Many of the doctrines found in the Doctrine and Covenants were developed in this way: Studying and praying about Biblical doctrines that the rest of Christianity either left unexplained or inadequately explained. One misperception (by both Mormons and others) is that Joseph got these doctrines out of “thin air” or from unsolicited revelations. Rather, they were most often received in answer to some specific question, and often these questions were about biblical doctrines.

      You might also think that I’m going straight to calculus because I prefer not to play in the branches as Mormon-Evangelical conversations usually do, but to go to the root of the disagreement. For example, grace/works debates will be endless until we go to the root of the differences and similarities, understanding what we mean by grace and works and from whence these meanings are derived before arguing that the other side is throwing one of them out and disregarding the scriptures. The same is true of nature of God debates. I find that most Mormons haven’t taken the time to understand the Trinity, as for example Rob has described it. Similarly, most evangelicals, I think, really don’t understand what Mormonism does and does NOT say about God’s nature and our relationship to him. Until we get beyond a kindergarten understanding, our discussions will simply go in circles and no real understanding will result. Still, I don’t see my explanations as complex (quite the reverse), but as addressing the (rather simple) heart of…

    • Mike


      You asked: “Can you give me an example of how I was unwilling to correctly characterize your posts?”

      You then quoted me: “But the real point of my posts at least is not to show conformity or dissonance with your version of Christianity, but to show that the Mormon doctrines you consider false or even blasphemous are consistent with the Bible”

      You then said: “This is precisely the problem. While you are trying to find some sort of synergy between Mormon doctrines to Biblbical Christianity…”

      My response: There it is. You seem to be having difficulty differentiating the Bible itself from your sort (not your personal sort, but the sort you subscribe to) of Christianity. I didn’t say our beliefs were consistent with “Biblical Christianity” or “Evangelical Protestant Christianity” (as I think you mean). I said they were consistent with the BIBLE.

      You then said: “Your response was to explain what they meant about god and how they would become gods. You then explained Mormons are “invited into the same oneness EVEN AS he is one with the Father.”

      My response: You seem to be using this as evidence that I was really describing some sort of Nirvana. I’m not, these are the words of Christ, not mine (John 17:22, KJV). So if Christ equates our oneness with him to his oneness with the Father, what does that mean to you? To Trinitarians in general? And by the way, I also didn’t say that “Mormons are invited…” I might have said “we,” but I meant we as believers. My “we” included you.

      Since Christ has invited us into his oneness, the only thing that can stop us from becoming one with him and the Father, is disbelief in either him or his offer.

    • Mike


      I’m open to the possibility that there are errors in the Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine & Covenants, Pearl of Great Price, Conference talks, Gospel Principle manuals, etc.

      So far, though, I haven’t found any substantial ones. There are things in all of these texts that are worded in ways that might be difficult to understand, but with an open mind, and looking at the larger body of text–the context of the whole–I haven’t found any irreconcilable contradictions within or between them.

      If we interpret things in a narrow way, however, without taking into account the whole context of each book, any and all of these books can seem to have contradictions, both within and between them.

      For example, Steve’s desire to put the book of James on the back burner (if he does, the words of Christ will have to go with it), mirrors his apparent desire for Mormons to put the Book of Mormon simply on the burner. But once the writings of James (and the words of Christ) are reconciled with the writings of Paul, the Book of Mormon is also reconciled with Paul.

    • Mike


      Mormon doctrine on the creation can be reconciled with Isaiah 44:24 insofar as 1 Corinthians 8:6 can be reconciled with it, John 17:22, Genesis 1:26, Matt 27:46, Luke 22:42, and John 20:17.

    • Mike


      Seth’s comment about so many millions of beings comprising one God is not necessarily the way most Mormon’s would describe our doctrine, but it IS compatible, I think, both with Mormon doctrine and with John 17:21-23. This, of course, means that our belief is compatible with the Bible, as Bob has been trying to explain (bless his heart). Note, however, that this does NOT mean that our belief is necessarily compatible with YOUR belief.


    • Mike


      The question is not about the number of revisions, but about the meaning of the text. There is nothing about continuing revelation that says texts cannot be updated or revised to clarify meanings as the finite and fallible languages and understandings of human beings change (quite the contrary). There are also many versions of the Bible. The question is not how many thousands of changes a new version of the Bible requires, but whether the originally intended meaning is retained or perhaps even clarified as human languages and understandings change.

    • mbaker

      There is a difference based upon speculation regarding the facts presented, i.e. the best conclusion based upon that, and a speculation based entirely upon supposition.

      For instance, there were those who will compare Jesus and Joseph Smith vis a vis being a man, and both saying they had the true word of God on this earth. However, there was a big difference. Joseph Smith did not perform miracles, or die on the cross, resurrect folks from the dead, and be resurrected from the dead himself. He simply preached a vision he had, which thus far has been unproven.

      Now I ask, all other things aside, who would you trust, the word of God who has no mention of Joseph Smith or no proof that he was right, or 2000 years of eye witnesses to the fact that Jesus Christ was/is the only begotten son of God?

      Glen Beck, I believe is sincere, because other than his religion, I truly admire him for his indepth politcal research. It is my understanding from what I’ve heard him say at least that he could not marry his wife, who is a devout Mormon without converting to Mormonisn himself. Have you never asked yourself if he isn’t a Mormon merely to save his marriage and family, or does he really believe their teachings?

      My husband is a former Mormon, who after studying both sides, converted to envangelical Christianity. He, like me, admires Beck for his factual research into things political but we cannot understand why after studying both sides of the religious issue, Beck still remains a Mormon. While we both believe Beck’s larger message that we need to turn to God individually, we are wondering which God he is talking about, the God of Morminism or the God of the Bible.

      I’m sure you’re not unaware there is a Mormon prohecy that a Mormon will someday be President of the United States. One wonders if this is so widely believed in that religion , why Beck didn’t support George Romney in the last election, who believes as he does, but Beck instead says he is a liberatarian?

    • Mike


      I don’t think the translation process was either as simple or as inflexible as you (and some Mormon folklore) seem to be suggesting. In fact, it seems that at least sometimes the process relied in part on the translator’s limited linguistic ability to study things out enough to come up with a “close enough” word to convey the correct meaning, and his spiritual ability to discern the Lord’s acceptance or non-acceptance of that word or meaning (see e.g. Doctrine & Covenants section 9:8).

      Additionally, as the Book of Mormon itself suggests, any translation of the meanings (other than perhaps pure Hebrew, or in an unknown pre-Babel language) are likely to be less perfect than the originally intended meanings–including the language in which the book was originally written.

      You also seem to forget that both Joseph and Mormon (who abridged the record), could have allowed their own hindsight to interfere with capturing the text precisely as it was originally written. For example, both knew the name of Christ as they were reading the parts of the text that were written prior to Christ’s name being revealed. It would be easy to inadvertently substitute “Jesus” for whatever reformed Egyptian word that means “Messiah,” and then later realize the mistake (which is only linguistic, the intended meaning of the text is not altered, the person is the same) and correct it.

      The unqualified statement “we believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God” also does not depend of the perfection of the translation, but upon the meaning conveyed by the Book. Similarly, the statement “as long as it is translated correctly” does not invalidate the fact that “good enough” translations of the Bible also convey the proper meanings of the word of God. It also doesn’t invalidate whole versions, even if specific translations of specific verses may not convey the correct meaning. Again, this really shouldn’t be a controversial point.

    • Seth R.


      There is no LDS prophecy of an LDS President. I think you might be confusing this with the so-called “White Horse Prophecy.”


      Well your most recent attempt was when you brought up the whole Adam-God thing – completely out of nowhere. In fact, the topic was so abrupt, in invited the conclusion that you had simply lost the previous argument, and were now attempting to throw in new material and hope no one noticed.

    • Seth R.


      “Even LDS doctrine credits the Father with planning and designing creation, which hardly makes his role insignificant compared to Christ’s.”

      What exactly in my comments ever suggested otherwise? Like I said – you keep trying to make that particular scripture passage about who is definitionally better than whom. I don’t think it is about that. It’s a verse praising Jehovah. We’re on board with that. No need to bring any neo-Platonist angst to the table – we don’t need to determine in this scripture passage who has the biggest teleological stick.

      “When Jesus says, “not one jot or tittle will pass away from the Law until all is accomplished,” this statement would be meaningless and irrelevant if “the Law” at that moment was a corrupted text from which a significant amount of material had been lost or altered in some way.”

      Why? I don’t see your reasoning here.

    • teleologist


      First of all the example that you gave does not demonstrate that I was mischaracterizing (unwilling to correctly characterize) your posts. At best what it shows is that we have a communication problem. How is it a miscommunication? As a Christian there is only one kind of Christianity, that is, Biblical Christianity. Christians view the Word of God as infallible and authoritative. The Word of God is our final court of arbitration. So when you said Mormon doctrines are consistent with the Bible, that is synonymous with Christianity and therefore with my beliefs. Christians have no other view of God other than what is stated in the Bible. This was precisely the reason why I said Mormons seem to a propensity to make Mormonism consistent/compatible, pick your adjective, to the Bible/Christians.

      Second, that quote with “conformity or dissonance” came 2 quotes later. I was addressing a different point but made the emphasis back to my first quote. So I would appreciate it if you would not jump to the conclusion that I was deliberately mischaracterizing what you’ve posted.

      I didn’t say our beliefs were consistent with “Biblical Christianity” or “Evangelical Protestant Christianity” (as I think you mean). I said they were consistent with the BIBLE.

      Excellent, I am hearten by this statement. This has always been my goal in this lengthy thread and that is, for Mormons to acknowledge that Mormonism is not consistent with “Biblical Christianity” or “Evangelical Protestant Christianity”. I am fine with Mormons saying that they are consistent with their view of the Bible or if you like call it “Biblical Mormonism”. The key here is not the Bible, rather it is difference/inconsistent. We might be reading the same Bible but we have a radically different view of the nature of God. Therefore Mormons are not saved under Biblical Christianity.

      You seem to be using this as evidence that I was really describing some sort of Nirvana. I’m not, these are the words of Christ, not mine (John 17:22, KJV).

      Given what you said above, I could probably end this conversation right here because I am satisfied with that conclusion. But let me just clarify what I said. I didn’t mean to imply that you thought what you said was some sort of Nirvana. It was my characterization from what you said about your view of your god and the ultimate state of Mormons. Why did I characterize what you said that way? Let me remind you what you said.

      teleologist: 2. Did any Mormon apostles and prophets claim that God was once a man who became God and we can also become Gods?

      This was my question to you. There really should be only 2 answers to this question. The Biblical view is that the Mormon authorities are heretics there is no way, shape, form or any possible way that God is an exalted man and man likewise exalt as God. Period! The other answer is whatever vacillating concocted explanation of how god doesn’t mean god or is god but… So what was your answer?

      Mike: The Bible teaches that Christ gives to his followers the same glory given him of the Father (John 17), and that they are thus invited into the same oneness EVEN AS he is one with the Father. …

      Before I get to my explanation on the nirvana thing, let me break my own rule a bit and digress here to comment on your use of John 17. You whip out John 17 to justify your use of oneness and thereby your Mormon authorities for saying man can be exalted as gods. This is precise why Christians view Mormons as a cult (I am using this term in a technical and not derogatory way) who twists the Bible to blaspheme against God. This is serious matter even Mormons must acknowledge this because in your own way you (Mormons) must have a reverence for your gods too, right? This is an affront to the God that we worship. In the OT thousands of people were slaughtered for stuff like this. The question was man exalting as God. Your answer was not to refute your Mormon authorities but instead you said you are invited into the same oneness? I don’t really care what kind of oneness this is and people with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit would know that whatever the Lord Jesus Christ said, it could not have been that man will exalt to be God and be one with God as God. You might argue that Jesus wants us to be one in spirit, love, mind, brotherhood, joy or any number of things but as God? John the beloved Apostle would have flipped out if he understood what the Lord meant was that we would be exalted to God as one God. Peter wouldn’t even let Jesus wash his feet do you really think that he would have accepted that as exaltation to Godhood?

      But maybe you might say people in the Bible often don’t understand what was written in it right? Except with the Apostles they were speaking face to face with the Lord and asked questions about things like leaven and bread, do you really think they would not have made sure what the Lord was talking about? Exaltation to Godhood is slightly more dramatic than just leaven and bread don’t you think? Anyway, continuing with your answers.

      In your response to “Do you believe there is only one God or many gods?”, you responded.

      Mike: Mormons also believe that there are three persons (personalities) in the Godhead that (by choice) share a will, or purpose, rather than a “being.” These three are one God in the sense of oneness described by Christ in John 17. Christ also invites us into that same oneness and glory, which implies that as we submit our will to him, we can share in his godliness–which in my view makes one God of many, rather than many gods of one (as our doctrine is too often misinterpreted to mean by both Mormons and non-Mormons).

      So you said the father, Jesus, holy spirit are in the godhead and share a will, they are god in the sense of oneness, Christ invited us into that same oneness by submitting our will to him. Obviously I object to your convoluted notion of mixing oneness and godhead and making god. Anyway I am not interested in belaboring that point any more, but the reason I said this resemble some sort of nirvana is because the goal of Buddhist is to reaches enlightenment. To put it simply to reach enlightenment one must merge into this state in some shape or form. This bears striking resemblance to your description of submitting your will in order to attain this oneness with your godhead. Again I am not trying to mischaracterize what you said.

      Let me conclude by thanking you for furthering our conversion by your acknowledgement that Mormonism is not consistent with “Biblical Christianity” or “Evangelical Protestant Christianity” contrary to what some Christians have been saying. And I am not just speaking about the Christians posting on this blog. As Seth have pointed out many Christians (or should I say his favorite victims) do not know how Mormons have a radically different meaning when you use the same words that we do, like God, Jesus, Holy Spirit and salvation.

    • Seth R.

      “He is criticizing Pharisaic interpretations of the Law, not the Law itself.”

      And where in Christ’s day would you have found a complete and accurate copy of this Law? Who where the keepers of the written word in Christ’s day? And what did he have to say about them?

      And it really doesn’t matter which faction Jesus was debating with in Matt 22:29, because it doesn’t alter my point at all. And your argument doesn’t really provide any good reason for why the Old Testament (or five books of Moses if you like) could not have been corrupted – other than the nice fact that Jesus quoted a SMALL portion of the text approvingly. You’re adding words and trivia here, but the argument remains unchanged.

      “Jesus’ statement “and the Scripture cannot be broken” is a general principle that he is applying to the Psalm, not an assertion that whereas other scriptures might be broken this one happens to be a good one! That is a very creative but contextually implausible reading of the passage.”

      And you give no particular reason for why this reading is implausible. All you’re really doing is saying “no, you’re wrong.”

    • Seth R.

      “in the four Gospels, Jesus makes various statements about the authority and truth of Scripture, all of them unqualifiedly positive, and never, ever says anything to question or detract from the truth or reliability of anything in the OT.”

      Which adds nothing to our discussion, because we still haven’t established what “scripture” meant to Jesus in the first place, which scriptures he was talking about, and whether his statements have any applicability to some hypothetical body of canon at all. You have read all these passages in an extremely question-begging sort of way. None of these passages establish inerrancy at all – unless you are already reading from a set of assumptions shared by people who already subscribe to this extra-biblical notion.

      As such, I see no particular reason to concede the high ground to you and accept your “burden of proof.” You have done little here to make a case for inerrancy. But now you want me to simply acknowledge it as the default position, and argue around it? I see no reason to do that. You’re not going to credibly win this debate simply by changing the parameters on the fly.

    • teleologist


      Well your most recent attempt was when you brought up the whole Adam-God thing – completely out of nowhere. In fact, the topic was so abrupt, in invited the conclusion that you had simply lost the previous argument, and were now attempting to throw in new material and hope no one noticed.

      I guess you were so anxious to throw some ad hominem you didn’t think in what context I quoted that, did you? Go back read the entire comment and do what I told you to do. Point to the sentences where I was talking about one thing and then to the sentences where I change the subject to deflect an argument. Don’t be lazy do the work. Or more likely you don’t know what you are talking about.

    • Mike


      I still find your understanding of Evangelical Protestant Christianity as the only Biblical Christianity problematic. So my point wasn’t to concede that Mormonism is inconsistent with biblical christianity writ large, but only with your version of biblical christianity, as I said. The Catholic church has done it’s homework, they have their biblical scholars as well. And half a billion Catholics might take issue with you coopting biblical christianity. Many people have died over this difference as well (unfortunately, since we know Christ’s disciples by whether they have love one for another).

      Biblical Christianity in the purest sense means Christianity as practiced at the time of Christ, and I maintain that Mormonism is consistent with that sort of Christianity. So I won’t be trying to make my Christianity seem consistent with the Christianity you practice today, but only with that practiced in the Bible

    • Mike


      I haven’t wrested anything by citing John 17. I’ve simply cited it as something I believe and take at face value, not adding in any caveats like “oneness of spirit only,” or “oneness of love, but not godliness.” You’re the one adding in things that aren’t there. Christ said “EVEN AS” he is one with the Father. I’m going to believe him. He’s not leaving anything out. This is not my “blasphemous” claim. It is his claim. And yes, people thought he was blasphemous for the very same reasons.

      You cannot assume that you know what John did or didn’t understand by “oneness.” Indeed, it appears that he understood it to mean something very like I’ve suggested, since he quoted Christ in Revelation as suggesting that it involves not only a oneness of “spirit,” or “love,” but also the sharing of a throne (singular). Paul also seems to have understood when he said that being heirs of God involves being “glorified together” (Romans 8:17), and ultimately being “conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren” (Romans 8:29). This is the highest possible meaning of exaltation. Anything else that Mormons might associate with exaltation cannot compare to this Biblical promise. What more could I say than what Paul, John, and Christ have said?

      Again, I’m not twisting their words, but simply accepting them at face value. Anything you add or take away from that promise is your addition or subtraction, not mine. And yet you call me a blasphemer. Again, be careful that you do not kick against the pricks. Paul had to learn that lesson the hard way. He too thought Christians were blasphemers for making God seem like a man, and a man seem like God.

      No thinking Mormon imagines that s/he can exalt him or herself. We simply accept Christ’s promise, in awe, no less than Peter when Christ washed his feet. We too marvel that we might “have part with him” and be clean “every whit” (John 13:8,10).

    • Mike

      Teleologist (cont.),

      And Peter, like John and Paul, came to finally accept the magnitude of Christ’s promise. Wrote he, “According to his divine power hath given us all things that pertain unto life and godliness…hath called us to glory…whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these you might be partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:3-4, KJV).

      So the oneness Christ described Peter takes to include the divine nature, and ALL things that pertain unto godliness. I hope you don’t call him a blasphemer as well.

    • Mike


      While Brigham’s non-canonical musings might have seemed to suggest that Adam was God, etc. This is not Mormon doctrine, and the notion has been soundly refuted. Whoever might also imagine that Mormons believe anything untoward about the conception can also rest easy that either Brigham was misunderstood, overindulging in hyperbole, imprecise in his meaning, or simply mistaken. Official doctrine is that Adam is a man no more or less than the rest of us, created by God (see e.g., Mormon 9:11-12), but a prophet and patriarch. And Christ was indeed born of a virgin (1 Nephi 11:20; Alma 7:10).


      As for Seth’s notion of adoption rather than literal begetting of spirits, it does seem compatible with what Joseph Smith apparently believed, that spirits are uncreated (although physical bodies are created or organized to house those spirits). As far as I know, there is not consensus, however, on what Joseph really believed about the origins of spirits, some holding that he did not necessarily believe that spirits existed eternally as personalities, but as an essence from which individual spirits were created.

      But I think there is an important sense in which accepting God’s will for us, and trusting fully in him, is the most relevant, and true meaning of being “begotten,” or “born” of God–whether as spirits or as mortal beings. The most important aspect, I think, of Mormon doctrine about a pre-mortal existence is that we accepted Christ as our Savior then, while present with him in his glory, and we must accept him again here in mortality, this time on faith.

    • Ed Kratz


      First, you argue that “only” and “by myself” in Isaiah 44:24 do not mean “only” or “by myself,” but only that Jehovah’s role in creation was “incomparable and unsurpassed.” Hence, in comment #143, you wrote: “If you want to say that Jehovah had an incomparable and unsurpassed role in the creation, sure – Mormons are definitely on board with that.”

      I then pointed out that this poses a theological problem for LDS theology, which affirms that Jehovah’s father, Elohim (“Heavenly Father”), receives the primary credit for creation as the one who planned it and who authorized and directed Jehovah to do the work. So now you respond (#169):

      “What exactly in my comments ever suggested otherwise? Like I said – you keep trying to make that particular scripture passage about who is definitionally better than whom. I don’t think it is about that. It’s a verse praising Jehovah. We’re on board with that.”

      So “only” and “by myself” don’t mean “only” and “by myself,” they mean “incomparable” and “unsurpassed.” In turn, “incomparable” and “unsurpassed” don’t mean “incomparable” and “unsurpassed,” they mean praiseworthy.

      Humpty Dumpty had nothing on you:

      “When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.”
      “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”
      “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master— that’s all.”

    • cherylu


      Did you notice that you posted a comment obviously meant for this thread that somehow ended up on a Calvinism thread?

      I would sure like to know how that happens here sometimes. It isn’t the first time I have seen something like this.

    • mbaker


      Thanks, and yes, I did.

      I’m reposting it on this thread. Hopefully they can delete the one on the Calvinism thread.

    • mbaker


      As you know Sandra Tanner was a Mormon until she left the church, and began Utah Lighthouse Ministries. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and you will see the specific quotes from Brigham Young, circa 1840 and the rest of the leadership up to the present day, including the denials by some of the Mormon leadership regarding the White Horse Prophecy. One has to wonder in light of these things if Beck thinks he may be one of the saviors of the Constitution spoken about here.

      There was also the “Grease Spot” Prophecy made December 16, 1843 and the ‘Potsherd’ prophecy made May 18, 1843 regarding the U.S. GOVERNMENT BEING OVERTHROWN, made by Joseph Smith himself.

      It seems to me that the White Horse Prophecy and the others are a case in contradiction. Perhaps that’s why modern day Mormon leaders are quick to deny the first one. These are some of the reasons evangelical Christians who do know about these things are just as uneasy about Beck’s sudden rise to fame and his following as they are about uber-political extremists in the Christian right and left.

    • mbaker

      Glen Beck claims he believes in personal salvation, yet not in general salvation.

      Yet, according to Ed Decker, who has the Saints Alive in Jesus website and also verified by my husband, both of whom are ex-Mormons and now Christians, the Mormon church teaches the following:

      “Mormonism teaches that Jesus suffered for our sins in the Garden of Gethsemane, providing PERSONAL salvation (which may mean exaltation to godhood) conditional upon our obedience to the laws and ordinances of the LDS gospel. His death on the cross provided a GENERAL salvation, whereby all mankind is resurrected to be judged for our works, using the secret keys, hand grips and passwords learned only in the Mormon temple by worthy Mormons.”

      Yet his statement in the article above says he believed Jesus died on the cross for our sins, and it was act of grace not works. I think if Beck honestly believes that our sins were atoned for on the cross, then he should come out and say how his belief differs from that taught by the LDS. He’s a stickler for truth otherwise, but to me at least this is somewhat misleading to the folks who follow him and know nothing about Mormonism.

    • Ed Kratz

      Seth R.,

      When Jesus used such expressions as “the Law and the Prophets” (Matt. 5:17), he was using language that would be understood in his Jewish culture to refer to that body of literature that Christians call the Old Testament. There isn’t any doubt about this among biblical scholars or historians. Anyone familiar with Jewish literature and culture of the period can see this. You would like us to believe that Jesus never said anything about the whole body of Scripture and that such statements as Matthew 22:29 and John 10:35 are only referring to the specific OT text that Jesus happened to have in mind. This line of argument won’t hold up in view of such passages as Matthew 5:17-20 and Luke 24:25-27, 44.

    • Ed Kratz


      Ed Decker’s statement is somewhat misleading as a description of the LDS view of salvation. In Mormonism there is a general salvation that everyone gets and that provides not only resurrection but immortality in some glorious heavenly kingdom. The individual salvation is only for faithful temple-going Mormons who satisfy all of the LDS Church criteria for exaltation, not just the rigmarole of the temple ceremonies.

      Generally speaking, Decker is not a reliable guide to LDS religion, so I would suggest turning to other evangelical sources for fairer, more accurate analysis and criticism of LDS doctrine. These would include Utah Lighthouse Ministry (, Mormonism Research Ministry (, and the Institute for Religious Research ( I am the director of research at the last-named organization. Also, when we try to show what it is that the LDS Church teaches, we should cite its own primary sources and not just what non-LDS sources (even excellent ones) say. The religion’s two official websites are and The site includes access to the LDS scriptures as well as Gospel Principles, its manual on the basic teachings of the LDS Church. The IRR website includes an introductory bibliography on Mormonism that includes LDS as well as non-LDS sources:

    • Ed Kratz

      Seth R.,

      In regard to your comment #128, I am not a young-earth creationist, nor am I an ex-Mormon. I am broadly Reformed or Calvinist in my soteriology, but I wouldn’t fit the description of being “die hard” (since I rarely bring up the “five points” issues, for example). I view Arminianism, Anglicanism, and even Catholicism as Christian movements (although I have severe criticisms of many aspects of Catholic theology). So I don’t fit your caricature of the type of evangelicals you claim dominate discussions with Mormons.

      I must say, your animosity and prejudice against Calvinists is most illuminating. You describe them as “a fringe, radical, minority group” whose members are “wild-eyed zealots” whose views are so “morally repulsive” that you would prefer other evangelicals not allow Calvinists to talk to Mormons. Imagine an “anti-Mormon” saying such things about Mormons!

      Are you aware of the fact that Richard Mouw, an evangelical whom Mormons have widely cited as taking a more generous approach to discussions with Mormons, is a Calvinist? And are you aware of the fact that Ed Decker and Dave Hunt, two of the most strident critics of Mormonism you’ll ever encounter, are not Calvinists? Hunt, in fact, is as virulently anti-Calvinist as you are.

    • mbaker

      Thanks for the info, Rob. I referred to Ed because my husband an ex Mormon turned Christian believes he is sometimes more right than some of the other apologist sites because he came out of the Mormon church himself. Sometimes a former ‘insider’s’ opinion is a little more believable to other Mormon’s considering coming out as well.

      We also like Lane Thuet for the same reason, and my husband knows Sandra Tanner, and did her late husband and we support her ministry financially. I agree the other sites you mentioned are also good ones.

      While I understand your more nuanced explanation, you must also understand that being virtually the only two Christians in a huge family of Mormons we hear a lot that many people don’t. And Ed’s rendition about the difference between personal salvation and the general one is much closer to what they believe than you might think.

    • cherylu


      I want to thank you for the perspectives you have shared here as someone that has been a part of a large Mormon family and whose husband is an ex Mormon himself.

      I certainly find it valuable to hear the perspectives of those that have come out of any movement. Insiders and those still surrounded by vocal memebers of any group in question certainly have a lot of valuable insights to offer the rest of us, IMO.

    • mbaker

      From the Mormon’s teachings on personal salvation:

      “Forgiveness is available because Christ the Lord sweat great drops of blood in Gethsemane as he bore the incalculable weight of the sins of all who ever had or ever would repent” (Apostle Bruce McConkie, The Promised Messiah, 337).”

      Mormon leaders have taught that Christ’s atoning sacrifice began in the Garden of Gethsemane. They have drawn this teaching from two passages: Mosiah 3:7 in the Book of Mormon, and D&C 19:15-19.

      President Ezra Taft Benson: “It was in Gethsemane that Jesus took on Himself the sins of the world, in Gethsemane that His pain was equivalent to the cumulative burden of all men, in Gethsemane that He descended below all things so that all could repent and come to Him” (Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, 14).

      “… it was in Gethsemane that ‘he suffered the pain of all men, that all men might repent and come to him’” (Bruce McConkie, The Mortal Messiah, 127-28, 224).”

      “Where and under what circumstances was the atoning sacrifice of the Son of God made? Was it on the Cross of Calvary or in the Garden of Gethsemane? … In reality the pain and suffering, the triumph and grandeur, of the atonement took place primarily in Gethsemane” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 774).

    • James

      Concerning Isaiah 44:24…

      (1) Rob B. has not yet managed to satisfactorily explain away the points raised by Heiser. Heiser describes a situation in which King Ahab does something (searches) *by himself*, but it is obvious that King Ahab did not actually do it by himself. Likewise, Isaiah describes a situation in which Jehovah does something (creates) *by himself*, but it is obvious that Jehovah did not actually do it by himself. The analogy is sound, the parallel is firm, and the passage about King Ahab works in favor of the LDS argument.

      (2) Bowman is also not considering the wider context of Isaiah. This is a polemic against competing gods. We have to consider what question Isaiah is trying to answer. The question is not “how many gods were involved in the creation?”. The question is “Which god was involved in the creation?”. The answer is Jehovah. Jehovah is the god who created the world, and none of the competing gods were involved.

      (3) In the LDS view (and in the ancient Israelite view) Jehovah reigned over a heavenly court of divine beings who aided him in carrying out his purposes. If we approach the Old Testament with this model, we see that right at the very beginning of Genesis it is confirmed that man is created in “our” image and “our” likeness. Further passages describe personified Wisdom aiding God in the creation. In sum, the point is not that Jehovah did all the work all by himself without any aid or support whatsoever. The point is that Jehovah is the God responsible for creation, and not any of the gods of the ANE who competed for men’s hearts.

      (4) A Latter-day Saint would be perfectly comfortable stating that “Jesus created the world by himself” so long as we keep in mind what question is being answered (ie. Among the many competing gods, which ones participated in creation?)

    • James

      As an aside, it is not true that in Mormonism Jehovah=Jesus and Elohim=God the Father in all contexts. Those designations are simplifications designed for specific contexts. LDS are not ignorant of the fact that “elohim” is merely the Hebrew word for “God(s)”. So Rob is not warranted in pushing the idea that LDS must accept that “Jehovah” in Isaiah 44:24 refers only to Jesus Christ, the second member of the Godhead.

    • teleologist

      I don’t see how any Mormon could have any credibility in the exposition of anything in the Bible, when they readily accept their apostles, prophets and Presidents saying that god was once a man who became god and we can become gods ourselves.

      Joseph Smith said God was once a man.
      “God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted Man … We have imagined and supposed that God was God from all eternity, I will refute that idea” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 6, p. 3).

      “When our Father Adam came into the Garden of Eden, he came into it with a celestial body, and brought Eve, one of his wives , with him. … He is MICHAEL, the archangel, THE ANCIENT OF DAYS! About whom holy men have written and spoken—he is our Father and our God, and the only God with whom we have to do.” Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses (Salt Lake City, UT: np., 1967), vol. 1, pp. 50-51

      Expounding Scripture with a Mormon is like pouring light into a black hole, their minds are darkened.
      “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.” (Romans 1:21-23, KJV)

    • Tim Foster

      Instead of trying to figure out if Mormon people are “Christian” or not, why not just talk about the faith itself and use Biblical terms?

      “The Mormon religion encourages its followers to ‘devote themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons'” (1 Tim 4:1-3)

      Once we understand that, everything else falls in place.

      There! See – that was easy. 🙂

      (For the life of me, I can’t understand why anyone would believe the Book of Mormon. Maybe it’s just my appreciation for archaeology. Let’s see…. Amazon shows 115 hits for “mormon archaeology” and over 2,000 for “Biblical archaeology”. And you can rest assured that the majority of the hits for the former were written to debunk Mormonism. Show me anything in a museum that remotely resembles anything mentioned in the “ancient” books Joseph Smith championed, and I’ll gladly post a public apology (don’t hold your breath).)

    • mark s

      “Black hole”? Wow. Simmer down with the hate and insults (and please no explanation of how it’s not an insult, but rather some factual observation).

      The bible is a collection of scriptural texts. There is nothing in the bible that says the bible is an all-inclusive collection of scriptural texts. So, the LDS acceptance of other scripture in no way contradicts the bible. I think the bible actually supports this. If you think otherwise, ok, that’s your interpretation. And that’s my point. LDS beliefs may contradict your interpretation of the bible, but they do not contradict the bible. My interpretation contradicts your interpretation, and vice versa, but neither contradicts the bible. We could argue each other until the day we die, but it will always come down to “Your interpretation is wrong because…”. “No yours is wrong because…”. Fun stuff.

    • Jared C

      The problem with the Evangelical position is that they are constantly overstating their case.

      Most Christians do not see the Bible as the only source of authority. (Including evangelicals if you throw in the Nicene Creed)

      But somehow many Evangelicals start to think that they have such a knock down argument that everyone that doesn’t is not worth talking to?

      Mormons have strong, reasoned arguments supporting a great many of their doctrines that are completely supportable by the Bible. I would agree that theirs is not the only position that the text would support but from a more objective viewpoint these come down to a reasonable disagreement.

      On top of all this, many Mormons think and feel and act for all practical purposes a lot like many Evangelicals. Glenn Beck may be an example. Its all a lot more complicated than Teleliogist and other seem to want to put it.

      I do like what Rob says: ‘

      The point, rather, is that in the real world people’s beliefs and affiliations are not always consistent or cut-and-dried. Most people’s thinking reflects a mix of religious, philosophical, and cultural beliefs, values, and assumptions. Making blanket statements about whether the members of a particular group are or are not Christians mistakenly assumes a uniformity of belief within the group that in most cases is simply not there. Avoiding such statements will enhance our credibility with those whom we are seeking to reach with biblical truth. It will help to foster mutual respect and constructive dialogue with those who need to know what true Christianity really means.

      If you want to understand people like Glenn Beck or any other Mormon you have to come off the black/white paradigm and see them as full human beings, not just caricatures based on your own pre-conceived ideas of what it means to be Mormon.

      I am confident that most Evangelicals would disagree with the stereotypes that get thrown around in Mormon and…

    • teleologist

      mark s

      “Black hole”? Wow. Simmer down with the hate and insults (and please no explanation of how it’s not an insult, but rather some factual observation).

      Typical, it must be convenient for you to attack those who are critical of your beliefs as hate and insulting. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think everything is meant as an insult. You response actually proves my analogy about “expounding Scripture with a Mormon is like pouring light into a black hole, their minds are darkened”. Did you understand the reason I made that analogy? It would appear that you didn’t. Please reread what I wrote and think about what I said instead of casting me as a scapegoat (hate and insult) for your Mormon flaws.

    • teleologist

      But somehow many Evangelicals start to think that they have such a knock down argument that everyone that doesn’t is not worth talking to?

      Mormons have strong, reasoned arguments supporting a great many of their doctrines that are completely supportable by the Bible.

      It is outrageous that many of these arrogant Evangelicals actually dare to have confidence in what they believe, unlike Mormons who have “strong, reasoned arguments” but don’t actually have confidence in what they believe because they would never say an Evangelical is wrong and they are right.

    • mark s

      Teologist, I did not attack you. I requested you simmer down with the hate and insults. And it was not in response to your critcism of my beliefs, but rather to the way in which you expressed yourself in comparing me to a black hole full of darkness. That reads as hateful and insulting to me. I could equally make the same statement about evangelicals and cite a scripture to support myself, but I would prefer to think more lovingly of others.

      There are certainly kinder ways to convey that you think my beliefs are wrong, such as “I think mormons don’t understand the scriptures.” My response to which would be that I don’t think evangelicals understand the scriptures. Of course, that was basically the gist of my previous post. “I’m right, you’re wrong.” “No I’m right, you’re wrong.” Repeat infinitely…

      I fail to see how I could have cast you as a scapegoat:
      1 – I do not believe lds doctrine to be flawed – I know I know, black hole 😉 – so I don’t need a scapegoat for it.
      2 – My thinking that you came across as hateful and insulting (or at least snide) has no bearing on your doctrinal beliefs or mine.

    • mark s

      Teologist – “So when you said Mormon doctrines are consistent with the Bible, that is synonymous with Christianity and therefore with my beliefs.”

      I think I understand you. Your belief of what a Christian is comes from your belief of what the Bible teaches. Part of your belief is that the Bible teaches that to be a Christian you must believe in the one true God (I agree), and Mormons’ understanding as to the nature of God is so vastly different than your understanding that you conclude Mormons do not worship the true God at all. Hence, you do not believe that Mormons are christian.

      As completely flawed as you may expect I hold your beliefs to be, I respect your right to hold them and to share them. I just don’t think most Christians share your belief because they understand the scriptures differently than do you. For most it is not a mater of your educating them so that they can know the truth as you understand it. Rather, they reject as extreme your interpretation of what it means to be a Christian.

    • Jared C

      “It is outrageous that many of these arrogant Evangelicals actually dare to have confidence in what they believe, unlike Mormons who have “strong, reasoned arguments” but don’t actually have confidence in what they believe because they would never say an Evangelical is wrong and they are right.”

      Teleologist, i don’t know where you have been but it certainly has not been learning about any other religion but Evangelicalism.

      Most of the Christian world, including the LDS, says you are wrong and they are right on some significant issue.

      And they say it pretty clearly, all the time.

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