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Thursday, April 25, 2013

P5 Christianity vs. Mormonism - Doctrine of Man

Hebrews 2:5,8 (5) For He did not subject to angels the world to come, concerning which we are speaking. 6 But one has testified somewhere, saying, What is man, that You remember him? Or the son of man, that You are concerned about him? (9) But we do see Him who was made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone.

The intent of this particular blog series has been to carry out, in an informative yet evangelistic manner, a comparison between Mormonism and Biblical Christianity. The one question we have aimed to ask in every post has been: "is Mormonism another Christian denomination or is it a non-Christian system of belief?  Thus far the findings have shown Mormonism to be totally incompatible with Christianity in the following four areas:

1. Doctrine of God
2. Doctrine of Jesus Christ
3. Doctrine of the Word of God
4. Doctrine of Salvation

We have classified the above four areas as the "short-list' for evaluating the truth or error of any given belief system - including Mormonism.  What follows in today's blog are other important doctrinal areas that scripture communicates.  We have appealed mostly to an article entitled: "Always Ready, Sharing the Gospel with your Mormon Friends" , found in the March 2012 issue of "SBC Life" (an online magazine accessible through the website: www.sbc.net). Additonally, these blogs have utilized primary source materials from the Mormon website lds.org and the Southern Baptist Website sbc.net. My aim in this entire series has been to balance honesty and fairness with a heart to share the Gospel with those involved in Mormonism.  In today's post we will compare what both have to say about the doctrine of man.

Biblical Christianity's view of man
Today will begin today's blog by noting the above text quoted from Hebrews 2.  The writer of Hebrews bases Christ's capability to be our Savior by the work He did in becoming a man by way of the virgin birth - what is termed "the incarnation" (in the flesh).  His ability to save derives from His full undiminished Deity, His capability derives from the full humanity He assumed upon Himself at the virgin birth.  How we understand the nature and creation of humanity will determine how we understand the work of Christ as it touches His humanity, as well as evaluating whether or not Christianity and Mormonism can truly be deemed compatible. 

Article III of The Baptist Faith & Message 2000 states the following about man:

"Man is the special creation of God, made in His own image. He created them male and female as the crowning work of His creation. The gift of gender is thus part of the goodness of God's creation. In the beginning man was innocent of sin and was endowed by his Creator with freedom of choice. By his free choice man sinned against God and brought sin into the human race. Through the temptation of Satan man transgressed the command of God, and fell from his original innocence whereby his posterity inherit a nature and an environment inclined toward sin. Therefore, as soon as they are capable of moral action, they become transgressors and are under condemnation. Only the grace of God can bring man into His holy fellowship and enable man to fulfill the creative purpose of God. The sacredness of human personality is evident in that God created man in His own image, and in that Christ died for man; therefore, every person of every race possesses full dignity and is worthy of respect and Christian love."1

The article cited at the beginning of this blog: "Always Ready, Sharing the Gospel with your Mormon Friends", states the following about mankind:

"Human beings are the crowning act of God's good creation, created in God's image by God Himself. Each person is a unique being of dignity and worth, formed by God in his or her mother's womb. Human beings are not gods. Genesis 1:26-27; Isaiah 31:3; 44:2; Psalm 139

When we sum up the Biblical teaching on man, we discover the following basic facts:
1. Man was created in this world by God out of the dust of the ground and all human beings begin life in conception in the womb. There is no concept of man's physical pre-existence prior to this world. (Genesis 1:26-28; Genesis 2:7; Psalm 8, 51; Jeremiah 1:5)

2. Man is a soul, containing a spirit, clothed with a body. This means that man is created with the needed to capacity to know God as a spiritual being (i.e his spirit), the ability to know himself in his soul (mind, emotions and will) and to interract with this world (i.e his bodily five senses). (1 Thessalonians 5:23; Hebrews 4:12)  Human beings at the end of history will be raised with transformed bodies that will either be raised to glory like Christ (for believers) or contempt (for unbelievers).

3. God and man are in totally different categories, meaning God is infinite, man is finite; God has no beginning and end, man has a beginning and will continue either in hell as an unbeliever or heaven as a redeemed in Christ by faith; God is Spirit, no physical parts, whereas man is physical and spiritual in nature.

Mormonism's view of man
 The article: "Always Ready, Sharing the Gospel with your Mormon Friends", states the following about Mormonism's view of mankind:

"People are the preexisted spiritual offspring of the Heavenly Father and Mother. "All men and women are . . . literally the sons and daughters of Deity. . . . Man, as a spirit, was begotten and born of heavenly parents, and reared to maturity in the eternal mansions of the Father, prior to coming upon the earth in a temporal (physical) body" (Smith, "The Origin of Man," Improvement Era, November. 1909, pp. 78, 80, as quoted in GP, p. 11). A commonly quoted Mormon aphorism (attributed to fifth LDS president Lorenzo Snow) says, "As man is, god once was; as god is, man may become." Every person has the potential of becoming a god by keeping the requirements of Mormonism."

When you compare the Mormon view of man with the Bible, you find conflict at every turn.2  

The conflict that exists between the Bible and Mormonism's three religious books
With such profound differences on the doctrine of man at every turn, how can the Bible on the one hand and Mormonism's three other books on the other be deemed God's Word when both groups of books differ significantly on such a fundamental issue as the nature of humanity? Frankly only one can be right, and the other wrong.  As we have been saying in this series: If I get God wrong, I get Jesus wrong.  If I have the wrong Jesus, it is due to having the wrong book and thus no salvation.  Consequently to be incorrect on the doctrine of man leads to an incorrect view of salvation, Jesus Christ and knowing the difference between God and man. 

Conclusion
Just as we have witnessed in the doctrines of God, Christ, the Bible and Salvation, Mormonism and Christianity differ prfoundly in the realm of the doctrine of man (also called anthropology).  In closing out today's blog we offer two more witnessing tips from the article: "Always Ready, Sharing the Gospel with your Mormon Friends":

-"Use the Bible itself to show what Scripture teaches about salvation as God's act of grace through faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus."

-"When a Mormon uses the Bible or cites a Bible verse, ask him or her to read the verses aloud in their complete contexts."


Endnotes__________________

1. The Baptist Faith & Message 2000 offers these cross references concerning the doctrine of man:
Genesis 1:26-30; 2:5,7,18-22; 3; 9:6; Psalms 1; 8:3-6; 32:1-5; 51:5; Isaiah 6:5; Jeremiah 17:5; Matthew 16:26; Acts 17:26-31; Romans 1:19-32; 3:10-18,23; 5:6,12,19; 6:6; 7:14-25; 8:14-18,29; 1 Corinthians 1:21-31; 15:19,21-22; Ephesians 2:1-22; Colossians 1:21-22; 3:9-11.

2. Mormonism teaches man had a pre-existence as a spirit child that then was born as a physical being, whereas Scripture teaches man has no physical pre-existence. Second, the Biblical final state of man in eternity is as either a redeemed believer, resurrected with God and Christ and ultimatley in the New Heavens, or as a resurrected suffering unbeliever the lake of fire. Mormonism proposes a continual development of man into a being like God. Then thirdly, Christianity sees an infinite difference between God and man, whereas Mormonism sees man as a god in transition to final godhood.

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