Tuesday, April 23, 2013
P3 Christianity vs Mormonism - Doctrine of God's Word
1 John 4:4-6 You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world. 5 They are from the world; therefore they speak as from the world, and the world listens to them. 6 We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.
For the past couple posts we have been working through a series of comparisons between Biblical Christianity and Mormonism. The simple question we are asking is this: is Mormonism another Christian denomination or is it a non-Christian religion? In exploring the Doctrine of God, we discovered that Mormonism and Biblical Christianity are completely different. Likewise in yesterday's post we saw two profoundly different ideas about Jesus Christ. Thus far in this study we have discovered profound differences that both have over the doctrines of God and Christ:1
Comparing Christianity and Mormonism on what constitutes God's word
Having seen profound contrasts in the doctrines of God and Christ, can we see any differences in their views of what qualifies as Divinely inspired scripture? We once again will appeal to the article: "Always Ready, Sharing the Gospel with your Mormon Friends", which is in the March 2012 issue of the online journal: "SBC Life", which is accessible through the SBC website: www.sbc.net.
"The Doctrine of Scripture and Authority - Historic Christianity
The Bible (Old and New Testaments) is the unique, revealed, inspired, inerrant Word of God. It is the sole authority for faith and practice for Christians, thoroughly equipping the believer for every good work. The Bible explicitly warns against adding to or detracting from its teaching.
Deuteronomy 4:2; 2 Timothy 3:15-17; 2 Peter 1:19-21; Revelation 22:18"
As the above quote indicates, the historic Christian view of scripture is that the Bible Alone is the unique, revealed, inspired and inerrant word of God.2 In the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 we see much the same description in its article on the Bible. For the sake of the reader I have tried to underscore the pertinent words in red lettering for ease of comparison:
The Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired and is God's revelation of Himself to man. It is a perfect treasure of divine instruction. It has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter. Therefore, all Scripture is totally true and trustworthy. It reveals the principles by which God judges us, and therefore is, and will remain to the end of the world, the true center of Christian union, and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and religious opinions should be tried. All Scripture is a testimony to Christ, who is Himself the focus of divine revelation.
Now why labor so hard on this particular matter of Biblical inerrancy? For several reasons. First, the Mormon's founder Joseph Smith claimed to had been given revelation from God that would reclaim the true form of Christianity. Second, Mormonism's claim to be the rediscover and restoration of the Gospel lost for nearly two millennia includes its claims about the what constitutes divinely inspired scripture. As will be shown, Mormonism denies the inerrancy of the Bible and claims other books to be the Word of God alongside the Bible. Again we consider the resource: "Always Ready, Sharing the Gospel with you Mormon Friends"-
Mormonism's view of what constitutes God's Word
"Four books are regarded as authoritative scripture. These include the King James Version of the Bible "as far as it is translated correctly." Smith made more than "six hundred corrections" to its text. Other "standard works" include the Book of Mormon, which Smith declared is "the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book"; the Doctrine and Covenants, "a collection of modern revelations . . . regarding The Church of Jesus Christ as it has been restored in these last days"; and the Pearl of Great Price, a book that "clarifies doctrines and teachings that were lost from the Bible and gives added information concerning the creation of the earth." The Book of Mormon alleges to have the "fullness of the gospel," telling the story of a supposed migration of Israelites in 600 BC to the American continent. These Israelites lapsed into apostasy, but their story was preserved on golden plates written in Reformed Egyptian, an otherwise unknown language. After Smith translated the plates by the "gift and power of God," they were returned to the angel Moroni who returned them to heaven. The church's president is regarded as "a seer, a revelator, a translator, and a prophet" (D&C 107:91-92).
Joseph Smith evidenced a denial of belief in the inerrancy and sufficiency of scripture from the beginning. Such a belief is necessary in order to make his three man-made works fit into the Mormon view of authority. A more modern-day example comes from a 2001 address to the Harvard Divinity School by Robert L/ Millet, former head of religious education at Bringham Young University, wherein he openly denies of the inerrancy of scripture.3
The question that needs to be asked is this: if the Bible is neither inerrant nor sufficient in its revelation of Jesus Christ or any other detail, then how can one claim it to be reliable? Whenever inerrancy of the Bible is denied, it is guaranteed that some other man-made document will be placed above it.4
Once again we find incompatibility between Mormonism and Biblical Christianity. Why make such a big deal over the doctrine of scripture? Here is why: If you have the wrong Book, you have the wrong Jesus. Furthermore, if you have the wrong Jesus, you fail to know the only and True God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Consequently then, the wrong book, the wrong Jesus and the wrong God leads you to having no chance of salvation. As with the other past posts, I want to close out with two more suggestions from the SBC Life article: "Always Ready, Sharing the Gospel with your Mormon Friends:
- "Share the plan of salvation with your Mormon friend. Emphasize that salvation is a gift to be received, not a merit to be earned."
- "Disarm your Mormon friend with multiple acts of kindness. Develop a first-name relationship. Speak the truth in love. When you show kindness, you deal from strength through the power of the Holy Spirit."
1. Consider the respective differences between the doctrine of God and Jesus Christ in Mormonism vs Christianity:
A. Mormonism presents a deity that is an exalted man-like spiritual being that works alongside a lesser man-like spiritual being which was begotten/created by him. This lesser being is what Mormon's claim to be Jesus. This Mormon Jesus came to earth and was born, lived, died and lived again. By not being fully God, the Mormon version of Jesus was shown to not be truly human, since the Mormon writings conflict with the Bible on the nature of human beings. The Mormon Jesus is incoherent and leads to idolatry, thus not proving to be the genuine Jesus of the Bible.
B. Biblical Christianity teaches that God is One in Being and Three in identity - Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God the Son not only pre-existed in eternity, but has always been co-equal with the Father. As being truly God as much as the Father, the Son (also called the Word) chose to come in the virgin birth in order to become a fully human man. By being the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ is truly the manifestation of God in human flesh. Touching His Deity, the Son has always been God. Touching his humanity, Jesus was virgin- born over 2,000 years ago. Only this Jesus, and no other, can be deemed the True and only Savior of the world.
2. Lest anyone think that the doctrine of inerrancy is a recent invention of conservative Bible believing Christians within the past two centuries, let the reader consider the following quotes from the earliest Christian leaders on the nature of the Bible:
-Clement of Rome "The utterances of the Holy Ghost" (90-100 AD)
-Clement of Alexandria "Received from God through the scriptures" (150-211 A.D)
-Origen "The authorship of the Holy Spirit precludes mistakes by the human authors" (185-254 A.D)
-Irenaeus "scripture is the perfection of God's words" (200)
-Polycarp "scripture is the voice of the Most High God" (65-156 A.D)
-Tertullian "the writings and words of God" (160-225 A.D)
-Samuel Rutherford "The Bible is surer than direct oracle from Heaven" (1600-1661)
-John Calvin (1483-1546), John Knox (1509-1546), George Whitfield (1510-1572), John Wesley (1714-1770) and Chalmers (1703-1791) also held to the inerrancy of the scriptures and the Bible alone being the word of God.
3. Millet is quoted as saying: "We believe the accounts of Jesus' life and ministry recorded in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John in the New Testament to be historical and truthful. For us the Jesus of history is the Christ of faith. While we do not believe the Bible to be inerrant, complete or the final word of God, we accept the essential details of the Gospels and more particularly the divine witness of those men who walked and talked with Him or were mentored by His chosen apostles." The transcript of this address is available on the Mormon official website lds.org.
4. Mormons often claim that the Bible is the word of God "in-so-far as it is right translated", however their claim about Joseph's Smith's "Book of Mormon" comes from Joseph Smith himself, wherein he stated that the Book of Mormon is the most perfect book on earth.