Would the Billy Graham Evangelistic Society have declared that the Mormon Church is no longer a cult if the Republican candidate for president of the United States, Mr Mitt Romney, was not a member of that Church? We don't think so, but as a result the Mormons will get more exposure and their evangelism will be more effective than before. People will accept their doctrines because they know very little about the Bible.
Most people have a vague idea of the Mormon Church and its founder, Joseph Smith who received a vision in 1820 and in 1823 the angel Moroni appeared to him. He claimed that the Bible was corrupted in the past (that should immediately alert us that something strange is coming). Members of the Mormon Church put their faith in their three books, The Book of Mormon (said to be the inspired Word of God), Doctrine and Covenants, and The Pearl of Great Price.
The question we need to ask is whether the God of the Mormons is the same Person as the God of the Bible? God Himself declared in Isaiah 45:6 and 46:9 that there is only one God. If we compare the Mormon books with the Bible we will get a clear idea of the answer.
- The books of the Mormon Church were produced by Joseph Smith over a number of years in his life span. The sixty-six books included in the Bible were written by more than forty people over a period of one thousand five hundred years.
- The Bible is a historical revelation and most of the events took place in the country Israel and its neighbours. None of the Mormon religious books are set in verifiable history and geography. There are many anachronisms and historical inaccuracies in the Mormon scriptures, like the river Laman that is supposed to have emptied into the Red Sea. No river has ever emptied into the Red Sea. For more detail, see comments of Dr Gleason Archer in, J McDowell and D Stewart, Handbook of Today's Religions, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1983, p 73-77.
- The historical background of the Bible is a sure sign of the inspiration of an invisible, powerful God who created, influenced history, made covenants and promises that were fulfilled within the period of the Biblical text. The Bible is a book not only of the words of God, but also of His deeds. That is conspicuously absent in the Book of Mormon and the 'Book of Doctrine' is not based on Scripture.
There is only one book that is unique. How can anyone refute the Bible's history, diverse writers and conclusive evidence that it could not have been written by humans alone, and not replace it with something better? These distinguishing features of the Bible are found in no other religious book, including the Koran that also makes the claim that the Bible was corrupted and that it (the Koran) is the final and more inclusive revelation.
It is not our intention to give a complete picture of the Mormon Church and its scriptures, because there is enough literature on it. Rather we want to focus on what the responsibility of the leaders of the Church (the Evangelical Church who accept the authority of the Bible) was when they sanctioned the Mormon Church:
Ezekiel 33 is about the watchman who should warn the people in case of danger. Should the leaders of the Church not function as watchmen? The responsibility of the watchman was huge. He had to warn if an enemy was approaching, and in case he did not warn, the blood of those who were killed would be on his hands. That was a warning in physical war, but our concern in this column is with spiritual war. For example, when the Evangelical Church declared that the Mormon Church is kosher, it means that people will accept that it is a valid way to the God of the Bible. The Bible states that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life, and nobody comes to the Father except through Him. That is not what the Mormons teach. Suppose a person appears before God and is interviewed about his beliefs. The person says he adhered to the teachings of the Mormons who claim that all people who belong to their church are saved (J McDowell, p 71,72). God tells that person that He is not going to allow changes to Scripture just to accommodate the various interpretations that man brought in. For example, what about the claims of the Muslims and the Buddhists? Atheists trash the whole Bible, so what is the difference between trashing a part or the whole? Eventually it will mean that God has to make so many exceptions, that the Scripture as a guide to life, and the eventual standard by which man will be judged (John 12:48), becomes worthless. Then the verse in Psalm 119:89, 'Your Word, O Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens,' has no value or effect. That would mean God becomes a liar, since we believe and know that the Bible is God's words in written form.
God warns against people who lead the nations astray to serve other gods (Deuteronomy 13:1,2). He tells us not to listen to them (Deuteronomy 13:3). The Bible is not only about forgiveness of sins so that we van be saved from the eternal lake of fire. The big picture is that God is building His eternal Kingdom. At present the Kingdom is in our hearts, so that we can live the Kingdom life. Eventually it will be an eternal visible Kingdom of peace and happiness on the new heaven and earth. Thus it is imperative that we keep to the Scripture, '...which was given to make us wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. Thus all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in all righteousness' (2 Timothy 3:16). The Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants and The Pearl of Great Price are not included in that, but only the complete Bible, from Genesis to Revelation (the verses in 2 Timothy 3:16 refer to the Old Testament). See 2 Peter 3:16 (reference 1); 1 Thessalonians 2:13 (reference 2); Romans 16:25 (reference 3).
The work of the watchman is to see that the relationship between God and man, that was broken in the garden of Eden, is restored through the knowledge expounded in Scripture that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. There is no other way to God except through Him. The people who follow this 'narrow' road are the ones who will see God's face eternally (Revelation 22:4). People can declare anything they wish to be the right way to serve God, but it is not going to change either His Scripture or His mind. People can declare that other gods are a valid way to eternal life, but God will not sanction it or accept it. The god of the Mormons is completely different from the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The Mormons teach that the person whom they regard as God was initially just a man who progressed to become a god. That is not the eternal God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the Saviour who came to help the lost. There should never be any confusion about the real God. Just look at the brilliant book to grasp how brilliant the God of the Book is.
- '...ignorant and unstable people distort ... the ... Scriptures, to their own destruction.'
- '...when you received the word of God ... you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God.'
- 'Now to him who is able to establish you by my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ....'