There is never a shortage of individuals attempting to reason with the Mormons and produce content that appears to challenge the truths of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ in these last days. One such individual is Nace Howell who writes and promotes Christian Apologetic content at his website apologetics and evidence. According to his bio he claims to hold a Bachelor’s degree in Bible and a M.Div degree in apologetics.
I happened to have become acquainted with this individual as he began to participate in a Facebook Group called Apologia of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This group is designed to discuss LDS apologetics and how to answer criticisms against the Restored Gospel. He provided a link to a post I made. It got deleted. Then, I challenged him to a discussion and he followed through with one topic that he felt is false.
Out of sheer curiosity, I ventured over to take a look at some of the content he has published and came across one titled: Defending Christianity against Mormonism. What he says is nothing new. In fact, in his comparative chart he regurgitates the same false beliefs and comparisons between Christianity and Mormonism that has continually been refuted ad nauseum.
Despite this, I decided to respond by providing evidence defending restored Gospel truths from Christian apologists like him. He challenges 6 different topics and attempts to compare them to supposed Biblical truths and teachings. My objective is to expand and expose the misinterpretations of his assessment and conclusions.
To each response, I attached a link to respective and appropriate articles and studies that do well in responding and rebutting such pedestrian arguments and comparisons. Please read each linked article to further understand.
Nace Howell is welcomed to respond in the comments regarding each of the points that are being refuted and share a more thoughtful dialogue and approach to each of the topics he attempts to compare.
Mormons are Polytheistic –
Howell makes the following statement: Mormon’s are polytheistic, meaning, they believe in many gods, yet worship only one (monolarty). He then compares this with Biblical Truths and cites Deuteronomy 6:4 (The Shema) and then cites Isaiah 43:11; Acts 5:4; 1 Timothy 2:5; Exodus 20:3 and then states: God knows no other God (Isaiah 44:8). He also states, Apart from Him, there is no other God and cites Isaiah 45:5, 14, 21-2 and 46: 5, 9.
I refute the assertion that Mormonism is a Polytheistic Religion. If anything, the Latter-day Saint Christian Faith is a Henotheistic religion. This refutation is in my article I published over a year ago and is titled: Is the LDS (Mormon) Faith a Polytheistic Religion?
Mormons Believe that God was once a man and that man may become a God
Howell states that: LDS believe that “As man is, God once was; and as God is, man may become.” He then states the following as Biblical Truth: The Bible says that God never changes (Malachi 3:6), so He was never a man or mortal (Hosea 11:9; Numbers 23:19; see also Psalm 90:2). “I am he; before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me” (Isaiah 43:10).
No Belief in Hell
Howell claims that the LDS do not believe in hell. He then states: The Bible says that everyone, when they die, will exist either in heaven or hell, for eternity (Daniel 12:2-3; Matthew 25:46; Revelation 20:14-15).
Actually, Latter-day Saints do not ascribe to the traditional Heaven and Hell as interpreted by many modern Evangelical Christians. What the LDS Christian actually believes in is the concept of a Spirit Paradise and Spirit Prison. In the Eschatological viewpoint – there are two resurrections that will occur. The first is the resurrection of all those who are not written in the Lambs book of Life. The second resurrection is of those whose name is written in the Lambs Book of Life (Revelation 20, John 5:29, Acts 24:14).
What is interesting is that most predominate Christian scholars, Evangelical Preachers, and ministries do teach that there will be two resurrections as taught in the Biblical Text. So, the question is this: If men die and are judged righteous and go to heaven – or, they die in their wickedness and go to hell, how do you account for the two resurrections after the Parousia of Christ?
Another aspect is that Hell in Greek has different meanings. Gehenna, Hades, or Tartarus. In Hebrew, Hell is Sheol – or merely the grave. Hades is always referred to the Grave. Gehenna is actually a reference to a specific place in Jesus time where refuse was dumped and there was a continual fire burning. This place was in the valley of Hinnom. The only time the Greek word Tartarus is used is 2 Peter 2:4 where it says:
For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell (tartarus) and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment.
Now, someone with a M.Div in Apologetics and Bachelors of Science in Bible may have some adequate understanding of Greek and Hebrew Translations concerning the term Hell and how those passages of scripture are actually shown to be mistranslated to mean something entirely different than what they were originally referred to.
God has a physical body of flesh and bones
Howell states, LDS believe God is flesh and bones. He then shares this supposed biblical truth: Matthew 16:17 shows that God is not flesh and blood. John 4:22-24 explains that God is spirit, which Jesus Defines in Luke 24:37-40.
Yes, Latter-day saints believe that the Father and the Son possess a body of flesh and bone that is resurrected and glorified. The problem with Howell’s interpretation is that he violates the context of John 4:22-24 and pigeon holes a prejudicial and biased belief of an ontological connotation in the text. John 4:22-24 is not about God’s ontological nature. The very context is about Worshiping God. If it were a passage on God’s ontological nature, then Howell (and many arrogantly ignorant Evangelical Christians) have to explain how people are to worship God in Spirit and Truth as the same Greek word is used in both instances. Since people are not putting of their bodies of flesh and bones, the ontological argument falls short. I address this in my article titled: Does the Bible Teach that God is Spirit in John 4:24?
By arguing that God does not possess a resurrected and glorified body of flesh and bones makes Christ out to be a liar and false teacher. I say this because that is the danger of Howell’s interpretation. Christ took on mortality. He lived a mortal life. He was crucified, buried, and rose again with a physical Body. He ascended into heaven with that physical resurrected body of flesh and bone. He is quoted stating that he is in the image of the Father.
Baptisms for the Dead:
Howell says that the LDS Believe in the baptism for the dead and then when he attempts to compare this teaching with the Bible, he reports, “They base an entire doctrine off of one verse (1 Corinthians 15:29), which clearly shows how Paul is talking about pagans “they” as opposed to Christians “we.”
Here are some articles that are of interest regarding this topic:
In Philip Schaff: New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge Volume I we find the following:
BAPTISM FOR THE DEAD: A custom mentioned by Paul in I Cor. xv, 29. It probably consisted in the vicarious baptism of a living Christian for a catechumen who had died unbaptized, the latter being thereby accounted as baptized and so received into bliss. It is doubtful if the custom was ever widely prevalent and it seems soon to have died out in the Church, although kept alive by Marcionites, Montanists, and other heretics (cf. Chrysostom, Hom., xl, on I Cor.; Epiphanies, Hær., xxviii, 6). The sixth canon of the Synod of Hippo in 393 forbade the practise. It is observed by the Mormons at the present day.
Another interpretation regards tōn nekrōn as referring to bodies, the baptism of which, on the supposition that they are mortal, would be useless. Another ingenious interpretation refers huper tōn nekrōn to the imminent danger of violent death at the hands of unbelieving persecutors incurred by those making a public profession of their faith in baptism. “What is the use of incurring such danger if there is to be no resurrection?”
Again, Howell misinterprets this and lacks honesty in his approach. 1 Corinthians 15 is Paul’s defense concerning the doctrine of Resurrection. Concerning 1 Corinthians 15:29, Paul is making a statement that those who baptize for the dead also believe in the Resurrection.
Jesus and Satan are Brothers
Howell makes the mistake that all other Evangelical, Apostate members of the LDS Faith, and others make. LDS believe Jesus and Satan are created brothers. He then attempts to correct this with the following so-called Biblical truth. “Jesus is eternally existent (John 1:1-2) and the creator and sustainer of all things (John 1:3; Colossians 1:16-17; Hebrews 1:3, 10). Jesus is the ONLY son of God (John 3:16) and Jesus is not an angel, like Satan was (Hebrews 1:5-9; Job 1:6; Zech 3:1-2; Luke 10:18; Revelation 12:9; Ezek 28:14).
Denies the Trinity
Howell simply states LDS do not believe in the Trinity. He then states the supposed Biblical truth as follows: Jesus says, “Go and baptize people … in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19), signifying equivalence. Jesus also says “I and the Father are One” (John 10:30). Paul calls the Holy Spirit “God” (acts 5:3-4).
Latter-day Saints uphold the Biblical truth on the nature of the Godhead (see my article above In Conversation – Trinity or Godhead. I also published an article exposing the modern Trinitarian teaching as a second century gnostic heresy with this article: Comparative Theology On the Nature of God the Father.
Saved by Grace alone or by Grace after all we can do?
This is another common charge and criticism against the LDS Church. Howell, like other Christian apologists, quote 2 Nephi 25:23 out of context and then attempt to compare it to statements like this: The Bible says that it is by grace that we have been saved, through faith, and that this is not from us, but is a gift from God, not by works, so that no one could boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).
23 For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do. 24 And, notwithstanding we believe in Christ, we keep the law of Moses, and look forward with steadfastness unto Christ, until the law shall be fulfilled. 25 For, for this end was the law given; wherefore the law hath become dead unto us, and we are made alive in Christ because of our faith; yet we keep the law because of the commandments. 26 And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins. 27 Wherefore, we speak concerning the law that our children may know the deadness of the law; and they, by knowing the deadness of the law, may look forward unto that life which is in Christ, and know for what end the law was given. And after the law is fulfilled in Christ, that they need not harden their hearts against him when the law ought to be done away. 28 And now behold, my people, ye are a stiffnecked people; wherefore, I have spoken plainly unto you, that ye cannot misunderstand. And the words which I have spoken shall stand as a testimony against you; for they are sufficient to teach any man the right way; for the right way is to believe in Christ and deny him not; for by denying him ye also deny the prophets and the law. 29 And now behold, I say unto you that the right way is to believe in Christ, and deny him not; and Christ is the Holy One of Israel; wherefore ye must bow down before him, and worship him with all your might, mind, and strength, and your whole soul; and if ye do this ye shall in nowise be cast out. 30 And, inasmuch as it shall be expedient, ye must keep the performances and ordinances of God until the law shall be fulfilled which was given unto Moses.
Notice that when we look at the full context of the partial passage Howell quoted – one finds that Nephi is writing about the nature of the Law of Moses. The ceremonial rituals associated with observing the Law of Moses. He also reveals that the Law is Dead and points to Christ as the one who will fulfill the ends of the Law. In this context, for by grace are we saved after all we can do is contextually referring to the nature that when they observe the law of Moses with faithful obedience, they are saved by a sense of grace. However, it is not the Law that will save them – it is the promised Messiah that will come and fulfill the law and through that covenant of grace, they will be saved.
Here are some articles that deal with this:
- After all We Can Do (2 Nephi 25:23) – Jared Ludlow
- Salvation by Grace Alone? – Faithful Answers, Informed Response (FAIR)
- His Grace is Sufficient – Brad Wilcox
As you see, Nace Howell appears to falter with his attempt and refuting the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ through a brief comparative analysis of what he deems to be Biblical Truth. In actuality, one finds that the teachings of the Restored Gospel are very much rooted in Biblical Truth and thereby exposing the false and misinterpretation of modern Evangelical Christian Apologists.
I will address the remainder part of Howell’s article in a second post.
Again, please click the attached links in each response provided and carefully read through those articles and see how far off the beaten path Howell’s comparative arguments are.
Please consider a one time donation or ongoing monthly donation
Mormon Apologia is strictly a volunteer run website dedicated in providing articles defending the restored gospel and address current political and social issues. However, it still costs money to host this website Your contribution in any amount is greatly appreciated.