The Truth About Mormonism (Part 5): The Character of God

Submitted by Benjamin on Sun, 06/02/2013 - 01:36
In the first parts of this essay, we examined the LDS Church’s beliefs about their written scriptures and their spoken scriptures. In this, the third part of this essay, we will carefully examine the Mormons’ beliefs about God, testing them to the Scriptures to see whether they are of God. Both Mormon and Christian recognize the importance of an accurate knowledge of God and a proper understanding of His attributes. Donald Q. Cannon, associate dean of Religious Education at Brigham Young University, claimed, “To acquire faith unto salvation one needs a correct idea of God’s character, perfections, and attributes.” Likewise, A.W. Tozer, the great Christian theologian, once wrote, “What we believe about God is the most important thing about us.” Thus, if the Mormon belief of God disagrees with the teachings of Scripture in any way, they have then failed by their own standards to acquire faith that leads to salvation. This is what is at stake. If the Latter-day Saints are incorrect, then their entire religion falls, and the same applies to orthodox Christianity. But before we can test the teachings of either of these to the Scriptures, we must first gain an understanding of what is taught, both by the orthodox and by the Mormons. Perhaps the fundamental teaching of orthodox Christianity about God is that He is a triune God: “the three in one and the One in three” as the famous hymn, ‘Saint Patrick’s Breastplate’ puts it. The Nicene Creed, written in the fourth century, sets forth this Christian doctrine, stating, “We worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity, neither confounding the persons nor dividing the substance. For there is one person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, is all one; the glory equal, the majesty coeternal. Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Ghost…The Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Ghost eternal. And yet there are not three eternals but one eternal. So likewise, the Father is Almighty, the Son Almighty, and the Holy Ghost Almighty; and yet there are not three Almighties but one Almighty. So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God, and yet there are not three Gods but one God.” The LDS church also accepts the distinction between the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, stating, “We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.” (Articles of Faith 1) But all agreement ceases here, for the Mormons claim that Father, Son and Holy Ghost, though each is God, are not one God, but three. As James E. Talmage, member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles once wrote, “Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are as distinct in their persons and individualities as are any three personages in mortality.” Likewise, Joseph Smith says, “I have always declared God to be a distinct personage, Jesus Christ a separate and distinct personage from God the Father, and that the Holy Ghost was a distinct personage and a Spirit: and these three constitute three distinct personages and three Gods” (History of the Church 6:474). The Latter-day Saints do not worship the one God in three persons, but rather three gods in one purpose. Indeed, they take this belief even further, claiming that there are innumerable gods. Apostle Orson Pratt of the LDS church wrote, “If we should take a million of worlds like this and number their particles, we should find that there are more Gods than there are particles of matter in those worlds” (Journal of Discourses, 2:355-356). They even have the boldness to claim that this view is backed by the Bible for Joseph Smith claimed, “Search the scriptures, for they testify of things that these apostates would gravely pronounce blasphemy.” Yet, far from supporting such belief, the whole of Scripture cries out to its falsehood: “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!” (Deuteronomy 6:4) The Lord has declared, “I am the Lord, and there is no other; there is no God besides Me.” (Isaiah 45:5) Likewise, the apostle Paul claimed, “we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is no other God but one. For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth… yet for us there is one God.” (1 Corinthians 8:4-6) Can there be any ambiguity in such claims? The verdict is evident. As Dr. Wayne Grudem writes, “Scripture is abundantly clear that there is one and only one God.” And yet the LDS church claims that all scripture supports a plurality of Gods! Yet they do more than simply present the Father as just one god among many, they claim also that He was once a man, striving to attain this Godhood. Joseph Smith taught that “God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens”; that “he was once a man like us; yea, that God himself, the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth, the same as Jesus Christ himself did”; and that he “worked out his kingdom with fear and trembling” (Joseph Smith, King Follett Sermon). Or, more simply, as Joseph Fielding Smith, 10th President of the LDS Church put it, “Man was born of woman; Christ, the Savior, was born of woman; and God, the Father was born of woman.” In this world that God was born into, he supposedly worked his way unto salvation to become a God under the reign of some other unknown God. As Bruce McConkie, a prominent LDS leader described it, “The Father is a glorified, perfected, resurrected, exalted man who worked out his salvation by obedience to the same laws he has given to us so that we may do the same” (Bruce McConkie, former member of the quorum of twelve, Mormon Doctrine). For the Latter-day Saint, there is no fundamental difference between God and man. We each have the same possibilities, for God Himself was once a man even as us. But what do the Scriptures say to this? Let us test this teaching to the truth of Scripture. In Numbers 23:19 we are told, “God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind.” God clearly distinguishes Himself from created man, reminding us that he is the son of no man, for He is eternal. Likewise, in Job 9:42, we read, “He is not a man like me that I might answer him.” In Hosea 11:9, God, as though to conclusively set aside all argument and demonstrate once and for all the disparity between man and God, affirmed in no uncertain terms, “I am God, and not man — the Holy One among you.” The Scriptures adamantly claim that God is no man. Rather, as the Psalmist declares in Psalm 90:2, “from everlasting to everlasting, You are God!” God is eternal, having neither beginning nor end. How then, as the Latter-day Saints claim, can He have come into existence, born of a mother and father? In addition, the Scriptures claim for God immutability. “I the Lord do not change” (Malachi 3:6), is the Lord’s declaration concerning Himself. David extols the Lord, saying, “you remain the same, and your years will never end” (Psalm 102:27). Clearly then, if God does not change, then He has always been the same (somewhat of a self-evident statement). He was not man who became God at some distant time past. He is the eternal God and He does not change. It is this unchanging nature that sets God apart from all of creation as the great Creator. As theologian Herman Bavinck writes, “The contrast between being and becoming marks the difference between the Creator and the creature. Every creature is constantly becoming. It is changeable, constantly striving, seeks rest and satisfaction, and finds this satisfaction in God.” God, who is unchanging, is truly the everlasting God, no matter what men may say. Indeed, there is yet another problem with the Latter-day Saints’ Superman-God doctrine. You see, in teaching that God is merely an exalted man, the Mormons must deny the spirituality of God, turning Him into just another, albeit super-exalted, material being. Yet this directly contradicts Christ’s teaching of God when He claims, “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24). Clearly, the LDS doctrine that, “The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s” (Doctrines and Covenants 130:22) is in opposition to the truth of Scripture. Yet, the Latter-day Saints continue to hold with stubborn tenacity to this doctrine, claiming, “We affirm that to deny the materiality of God’s person is to deny God; for a thing without parts has no whole, and an immaterial body cannot exist” (James E. Talmage, A Study of the Articles of Faith). Yet, even the Latter-day Saints see clearly that this doctrine is in contradiction to all of Scripture. A few years before he died, one of the older apostles of the Mormon Church, Le Grand Richards, was presenting an apologetic during the Mormon semiannual conference, defending the LDS belief in the materiality of God. After closing up his defense, he moved on to discuss who Jesus truly was. The first verse that he read was from Matthew chapter 16. He began in verse 13:
“When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, ‘Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?’ 14 “So they said, ‘Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’ 15 “He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ 16 “Simon Peter answered and said, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’” Then, as he continued to read, his voice, broadcast all over the nation from Salt Lake City, slowly faded into silence as he realized that he wasn’t supposed to read verse seventeen. For in this verse, Jesus responds to Peter: “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven” (emphasis added). The teaching of Scripture is evident even to the Latter-day Saints, yet they cling foolishly to a falsehood. Indeed, because they hold so firmly to this belief, they must also deny yet another major doctrine of God: His omnipresence. James Talmage speaks of the LDS view on this doctrine, writing, “His [God’s] powers of transferring Himself from place to place are infinite; plainly, however, His person cannot be in more than one place at any one time.” Because the LDS “god” has a tangible body of flesh and bones, it would be ludicrous to imagine him being present in more than one place at a time. Yet the true God of the Bible is the creator of all things: “For by Him all things were created, whether things in heaven or things on earth, invisible and visible, whether thrones or powers or principalities or authorities, all things were created by Him and for Him.” The “all things” spoken of in Colossians literally means “all things”! Whether space, time, or matter, God has created all things. God is not some exalted man, but the Creator of space, time, and matter. He is not limited by any of these, but exists outside of them, the infinite Creator of all things! He exists beyond space, and therefore is not limited by spatial dimensions. Solomon, recognizing God’s omnipresence, declared, “will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you; how much less this house which I have built!” (1 Kings 8:27). The Latter-day Saints do not worship the true God, but one that they themselves have invented. In Romans chapter one, Paul speaks of just such men, saying, “Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things” (Romans 1:22-23). The Latter-day Saints are these very men, who have “exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever” (Romans 1:25). It is heartbreaking to talk with Latter-day Saints, knowing that, when they speak of “God,” they are speaking of just one among many other exalted men. Yet it also serves as a reminder of the great God we do serve. He is a loving and personal God as is the object of LDS worship, but He is far more. He is the infinite Person, unchanging, all-powerful, omnipresent, all-knowing, He is the One true God from everlasting to everlasting!
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I love reading your essays Benjamin. I can tell that you did much research on the topic and your logic is sound.

Great job. Keep at it.