Response to Knox Church: “Are Mormons Christians?”

The Bible and the Book of Mormon stand as testimony and Witness to who Jesus Christ is, His Mission, His teachings, and His Purpose

There’s no doubt that at some point in one’s life, you’ve encountered Evangelical and Protestant Christians who lay claim that members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are not Christians. In some instances, you may have had family and friends depart from the faith because they were deceived by well-meaning Evangelical and Protestant Christians. And the first thing they’ll tell you is that the LDS Faith is not a Christian based faith, Joseph Smith was not a prophet, and that the Book of Mormon is not sacred scripture testifying of Jesus Christ. Regardless of the many teachings, passages, and testimonies given of the reality of the Savior-Jesus Christ.

So, to the pastor of Knox Church – to answer your question: Yes, we are Christian and hold to the teachings of Holy Scripture as revealed by divine decree. Allow me to refute your points of contentions that you have brought up in your post: Are Mormons Christians?

Some points of observation and correction of statements:

1 – You stated: “No. Mormonism is a cult offshoot of Christianity that was created by a man named Joseph Smith in the 1830s.”

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is considered a Restorationist movement that was among many during Joseph Smith’s Time. The statement that the Church is a cult is a non-sequitur and has been refuted time and time again ad nauseum. From an academic standpoint – Christianity is also considered a Cult. In fact, Christianity is considered an offshoot of Judaism and therefore a cult as well. This, of course, is using the same standard of judgment and criticism you are employing in your statement above.

2 – You stated: “Smith claimed that God had given him a new revelation of the continuing adventures of Jesus Christ in the new world that became the Book of Mormon.”

This statement is manipulative, deceptive, misleading, and quite pedestrian, of actual historical facts. Joseph Smith did not claim that God gave Him new revelation. Joseph Smith revealed that God is going to be doing a “marvelous work and a wonder” and restore those plain and precious truths that were lost through the state of apostasy. This apostasy occurred at the close of the First Century. This is not only evident by a serious study of the New Testament, but also evidenced by actual historical precedence and understanding.

The claim regarding the Book of Mormon has actually shown, through scholarly research and study, to be of authentic origin. In fact, the appearance of Christ in 3 Nephi (and the events that transpired prior to Christ’s appearance) are proven scientifically and historically through two specific modes. First, the catastrophic destruction described in 3 Nephi fits well within the descriptions of major vesuvian (or Plinian) eruptions. Based on research in volcanology – what is recorded in 3 Nephi fits well with the eyewitness accounts of such like Pliny the Younger and the eruption of Mt Vesuvius in 79 AD (hence the name Vesuvian-Plinian eruption being the most catastrophic of all eruptions). Early 1900’s Alaskan Volcanic eruption, eruption of Krakatoa in 1883, causing darkness of almost 3-days. It was also recorded as being not only heard over 3K miles away, also felt over long distances. In fact, long winters (known as volcanic winters) were recorded due to volcanic eruptions.

Second, is the recorded account of Pedro de Cieza de Leon in the Second Chronicles of Peru describing an event that the Inca’s related that happened long before they had occupied the land. This event and appearance of Christ happened at the highest lake bordering Peru and Bolivia – known for its spiritual significance (as well as having a large temple complex at the bottom of the Lake). The Second Chronicle of Peru was published by a scholarly society on world travel and transportation – years after the publication of the Book of Mormon.

3 – You stated: “…the belief structure that runs through the entire LDS church often runs counter to the Bible itself. As Paul said in Galatians 1:8, “If we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one, we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse!” And the version of the gospel preached by LDS is certainly different than historical and biblical Christianity.”

Actually, the belief structure, teachings, and doctrines are more consistent with the Bible and First Century Christian understanding than what one may find within various denominations of modern Christianity. The utilization of Galatians 1:8 is a false proof text against the Latter-day Saints. I actually wrote an article at my website exposing the eisegesis interpretation of modern Christian evangelists and counter-cult ministries and their failure to actually interpret the passage from an exegesis perspective.

The statement Paul uses is a literary term known as a hyperbolic statement. The Apostle Paul actually was addressing two specific issues that came up within the Galatian Church (and which Galatians 1 actually is one of the passages that show how the Early Church during Paul’s time entertained teachings other than the Gospel and moving toward apostasy). The first concerned Paul’s defense of his apostolic authority against those who claimed (believe it or not – the same argument modern Evangelicals use against Joseph Smith and other Leaders of the LDS Faith) that Paul was never called into authority like the other disciples. Secondly, Paul was specifically addressing the false teaching that the Gentiles needed to go through the Jewish ritual of circumcision in order to be considered part of the Abrahamic covenant and adopted into the fold (Remember, Christianity originally was a Jewish movement called the Way prior to the term Christian being adopted).

4 – You stated: “Christians believe that our sole source of divine authority and revelation given to us is in the scriptures of the Bible. Mormons believe that divine revelation includes the Bible as well as the Book of Mormon, the Pearl of Great Price, and a text called Doctrines & Covenants. There are several prohibitions in the Bible against adding to Scripture, such as Proverbs 30, which says, ““Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Do not add to his words, or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar.”

Yes, that is exactly correct and that is also again based on misinterpretation of the text. If one does some careful study, one may find that the Gospels, the Apostle Paul’s Letters, and even the Pastoral Letters never claim to be “infallible” or “divinely inspired”. In fact, in majority of the Pauline epistles, the Apostle actually states that he speaks of his own mind and thoughts on certain issues, teachings, and doctrines. The only New Testament text that is considered divine revelation and inspired and God’s word is Revelation. And when it comes to Revelation, John was speaking to the 7-Churches in Asia regarding the visions and coming judgments. Thus, when he closes, he warns that no one is to add to or diminish from the words of the Prophecy of this book Greek, Scroll, papyrus, Book). He was not speaking of a 66-book canon of scripture. Proverbs is known as wisdom literature.

Another aspect is that Joseph Smith did not add to the word of God through additional revelation and scripture. Those revelations and scriptures actually expound upon the teachings already revealed within the Bible. Take for instance Moses 1 in the Pearl of Great Price. It fits within other Ancient Jewish texts and understandings (again see my website and articles published there as we are studying through the Old Testament). Moses 1 is a prologue and contains a theophany of Moses. This is similar to that of the Book of Jubilees which was considered scripture at one time within a Jewish context and understanding.

In addition, what is recorded in Moses and Abraham fits within Jewish understanding, the Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Pesahim 54a

“The Gemara provides sources for the notion that each of these phenomena was created before the world was. Torah was created before the world was created, as it is written: “The Lord made me as the beginning of His way, the first of His works of old” (Proverbs 8:22), which, based on the subsequent verses, is referring to the Torah. Repentance was created before the world was created, as it is written: “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever You had formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God,” and it is written immediately afterward: “You return man to contrition; and You say: Repent, children of man” (Psalms 90:2–3). The Garden of Eden was created before the world was created, as it is written: “And God planted the Garden of Eden in the east [mikedem]” (Genesis 2:8). The term: In the east [mikedem] is interpreted in the sense of: Before [mikodem], i.e., before the world was created. Gehenna was created before the world was created, as it is written: “For its hearth is ordained of old” (Isaiah 30:33). The hearth, i.e., Gehenna, was created before the world was created. The Throne of Glory and the Temple were created before the world was created, as it is written: “Your Throne of Glory on high from the beginning, in the place of our Sanctuary” (Jeremiah 17:12). The name of Messiah was created before the world was created, as it is written in the chapter discussing the Messiah: “May his name endure forever; his name existed before the sun” (Psalms 72:17). The name of Messiah already existed before the creation of the sun and the rest of the world. This baraita states that Gehenna was created before the world was created and not during twilight before the first Shabbat”

This is consistent with the Syriac of Baruch:

“Dost you think that this is that city of which I said: “On the palms of My hands have I graven you”? 3 This building now built in your midst is not that which is revealed with Me, that which prepared beforehand here from the time when I took counsel to make Paradise, and showed Adam before he sinned, but when he transgressed the commandment it was removed from him, as also Paradise. 4 And after these things I showed it to My servant Abraham by night among the portions of the victims. 5 And again also I showed it to Moses on Mount Sinai when I showed to the likeness of the tabernacle and all its vessels. 6 And now, behold, it is preserved with Me, as Paradise. 7 Go, therefore, and do as I command you”

And with Bereishit Rabah 1 (or Genesis Rabah):

“In the beginning of God’s creating…” – Six things preceded the creation of the world; some of them were created and some of them were decided to be created. The Torah and the Throne of Glory were created. How do we know the Torah was? As it says (Proverbs 8:22): “God made me at the beginning of his way.” How do we know the Throne of Glory was? As it says (Psalms 93:2): “Your throne is established as of old etc.” The Patriarchs, Israel, the Temple, and the name of the Messiah were decided to be created. How do we know the Patriarchs were? As it says (Hosea 9:10): “Like grapes in the wilderness etc.” How do we know Israel was? As it says (Psalms 74:2): “Remember your congregation, whom you purchased from old.” How do we know the Temple was? As it says (Jeremiah 17:12): “Your throne of glory, on high from the beginning etc.” How do we know the name of the Messiah was? As it says (Psalms 72:17): “May his name exist forever etc. [his name shall be Yinnon as long as the sun].” Rabbi Ahavah said in the name of Rabbi Ze’ira: Even repentance was, as it says (Psalms 90:2): “Before the mountains were birthed,” and at the same time (Psalms 90:3), “You turned man to contrition etc.” However, I do not know which was first–if the Torah preceded the Throne of Glory or the Throne of Glory preceded the Torah. Rabbi Abba Bar Cahana said: The Torah preceded the Throne of Glory, as it says (Proverbs 8:22): “God made me at the beginning of his way, the first of his works of old.” This is before that of which it is written (Psalms 93:2): “Your throne is established as of old.”

These sources I quote from are authoritative Jewish sources and commentaries.

5 – You stated: “Mormons believe that all people, including Jesus, lived with God as spirit children prior to being born. Jesus, according to this group, was also a child born of God and is the brother of Lucifer. Obviously, this goes against Hebrews 13:8, which says “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”

Yes, we do believe that we existed. However, many confuse and conflate this doctrinal teaching into something it is not. We were not birthed in the sense of our understanding of pregnancy and birth. We were created and fashioned from intelligences as spiritual beings. This is based on reading and understanding the passages in the Book of Abraham. And if we are to hold to a strict and literalist interpretation of Hebrews 13:8 – Evangelical Christians are also in violation of the same because Christ, being God manifested in the flesh, violates such strict and literal interpretation – based on your own rendering of the passage.

6 – You stated: “Mormons believe that Jesus was married, despite the scriptures never saying this.”

Actually, this is a false statement. Did early leaders hold to this belief? Yes, as verified by their statements. Was this officially accepted as doctrine? No, it was not and merely the respective thoughts and opinions of those individuals. No revelation came forth regarding this. The Bible itself is silent on this subject. Furthermore, whether Christ was or was not married is a non-sequitur because it has nothing to do with the plan of salvation and the infinite atonement. There are some speculations (among Latter-day Saints and Evangelicals collectively) to the notion that Christ was married.

Granted, the latter part of your statement actually is true – the scripture is silent and therefore, we need to remain silent.

7 – You stated: “Christians believe in the Trinity — that our eternal, self-sufficient God exists as a singular spirit being with three persons. Mormons believe that Jesus and the Father are two distinct beings with physical bodies, and that the Holy Spirit is merely a “force” that is given by God and does not have his own personhood.”

Partially true. Christians do believe in the Trinity – yes. However, when you take the time to thoroughly study out the doctrine of the Trinity, one will find that it stems from the Second Century Gnostic Heresy of the Valentinians. The concept of this “Spirit being” of God manifested in three persons would be quite foreign to the First Century Apostles and the Early Church. Christ himself consistently distinguished himself from the Father. Here is where the Trinity doctrine falls apart – from the Bible and teachings of the Apostle Paul:

  • Christ rose with a body of flesh and bone, appeared to the 11 and then spent 40 days ministering to them.
  • Colossians says that Christ is in the image of the Invisible God – since Christ possess a body that is resurrected, glorified, and physical – the image and likeness refers to that of the Father as well – separate and distinct.
  • Christ himself is always stated to be on the Right hand of the Father.
  • Christ prayed the High Priestly Prayer in John 17 – stating that the Father bestow upon him the glory he had with the Father in the Beginning. In fact, the Greek word used when Christ referred to the Father and Himself as being one concerns that of unity, purpose, mind, and will.
  • Common proof text is John 4:24. However, this is again a false interpretation as it is not speaking to whether God has or does not have a body – the context of John 4 is in reference to the nature of worship. Unless Evangelicals are able to prove that they worship God without a physical body (which is impossible) because Christ says, “and those who worship Him must worship him in spirit and truth”. The context does not allow it to be interpreted as God being a Spirit. Actually, the Greek refers to God as being Spiritual.

As for the idea that the Latter-day Saint Christian believes the Holy Spirit is a force – false. This is the teaching of the Jehovah’s witness and not of LDS origin. We actually believe that the Holy Spirit is a personage of Spirit not a force.

8) You stated: “Mormons believe that God was once a man who progressed into being a god over his own planet. Therefore, we too can become gods. Yet “I the LORD do not change,” Malachi 3:6 states.”

There are two problems with your statement. While it is true Lorenzo Snow quipped the statement “As man is, God once was and as God is man may become” is a comment thorn in the side of Evangelical Christians – the reality is this: We do not fully know or comprehend God’s full nature. Secondly, what we do know is that the Church actually held to the doctrine of Theosis (which is still taught within the Eastern and Orthodox Christian Church’s). Secondly, there is no official statement as to whether or not we will “preside over our own planets and our wives will pop out spirit babies“. In fact, if one fully comprehends LDS Teachings and truth – one will find that God did not “birth” spirit babies from a “Goddess wife”. Instead, our spirit was fashioned and formed from “intelligences”. 

Third, remember, whenever we read the Lord in the Old Testament, it is translated to Yeshua. This is the term for Christ. To use Malachi as an argument against God coming down and becoming a man – well – you have just used Malachi to deny Christ’s birth, life, ministry, suffering, crucifixion, death, and bodily resurrection. This is what happens when you do not fully comprehend, research, and understand the subject matter you are attempting to write about and publish.

Your statement, your interpretation, your words just denied the reality of Christ. Not any LDS Teaching.

9) You stated: “Mormons do not believe in the assurance of salvation, but rather they affirm that people progress into becoming gods over time. Much of their belief about becoming saved is works-based, rather than based in grace.”

Actually, if you again give over to a full understanding of what Latter-day Saints do believe and teach, you will recognize that we do give over to the reality and assurance of our salvation through the Infinite atonement of Jesus Christ. The doctrine of Exaltation is confirmed within the teachings of Jesus Christ (I will be more than happy to further discuss this with you as a separate subject matter). Christ’s parables (specifically the Parable of the Ten Virgins) are consistent with that of First Century Jewish Wedding Customs (remember Joseph was betrothed to Mary). This Jewish Wedding Ceremony is also symbolic of the Plan of Salvation and Infinite atonement. Christ himself answered the question the mother of the sons of Zebedee asked in John 10:20. Revelation 3:21, Christ stated that those who overcome as he has overcome shall be given permission to sit on the throne with him as he sits on the throne with the Father. Paul refers to his reward as a crown of righteousness. Paul also taught that we are joint heirs and heirs with Christ. Another passage says that when Christ comes again, we shall see him as we are. Revelation talks of a great Wedding feast and banquet. Revelation also describes the Heavenly Jerusalem (go back to my comment with the authoritative Jewish Sources on the Heavenly Jerusalem). Revelation also refers to two distinct resurrections.

Are you willing to publicly affirm that Christ is a liar and taught falsely regarding the nature of our divine destiny?

As for works – when you look at Christ’s admonition, you will find that he did not teach Sola Gratia and Sola fide. No matter how much you attempt mental gymnastics with eisegesis interpretation. Christ said: If any man follows after me let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow. The New Testament is consistent in teaching that we are to be faithful, obedient, and walking in the will of the Father. What did Christ say were the two great commandments that we are to obey? Love God and Love others.

10) You stated: “Mormons originally viewed all Christian denominations as “apostate” and an “abomination,” although they’ve softened on this language in recent decades. They believe the Christian church fell into a “great apostasy” and lost its way, despite Christ’s promise in Matthew 16:18 that not even “the gates of hell” would overcome the church in the times to come.”

Two things here – yes, the idea of a Great Apostasy is scriptural and historically backed up. And yes, much of it is no longer focusing on this subject as the teachings are more to call people to Come unto Christ and Follow After him. However, the idea and doctrine of a universal apostasy is still taught.

Second, you quote Matthew 16:18 from an eisegesis interpretation and not an exegesis interpretation. Let us consider the context of Matthew 16. Christ asked two questions: “Who do men say that I am?” He then asked, “Who do you say that I am”. Peter confessed, “Thou are the Christ, Son of the Living God”. What was the Saviors response? “Thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church and the gates of hell shall not prevail”.

What rock is Christ going to build his church on? Peter’s revelation of who Christ is – the Son of the Living God. Therefore, Christ will build his Church on the rock of revelation of who he is. Next is the term “gates of hell”. What are the gates of hell? The Greek for Hell is Hades here in this passage. Hades is the abode of the Dead. Gate is the entry way. Here, Christ is saying that Death and the Grave shall not prevail (because He will be resurrected, conquering death).

Therefore, a more proper interpretation is that Christ told Peter that his church will be built upon the revelation of who he is – the Son of God who will overcome death and rise up from the grave – for they shall not prevail against him. Thus, it is not Christ saying he will build his Church and it will not fall away. He is saying he will build his church on a solid foundation of who he is and the infinite atonement that is through him.

Again, some corrections to false assumptions, misinterpretations, and correcting such erroneous beliefs.

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