The Seventeen 'Straw Men' of the Mormon Church
By Ed Decker
As a Mormon, before I decided to follow Jesus rather than Joseph Smith, I found that my "testimony" of the LDS church was cemented into place by faith-promoting stories.
One of the most impressive of the stories to which I was exposed was the "17 Points of the True Church" story. A missionary gave us a tape of a talk by a fellow. This tape asserts that he and several college chums set out to find a church existing today which fills all the Biblical criteria for "The true church."
Supposedly, these stalwart lads set out to question various ministers and found no church which met the requirements they had all dredged out of the Bible, 17 in number. To make a long story short, a couple of them came together years later after the war and met (Mirabile dictu") in a Mormon Chapel where at least a couple of them had decided ALL 17 requirements were being met. Thus they decided that the Mormon church was the "one, true church" and they all lived happily ever after.
Thus was the taped talk begotten--and its sequel, a little card which missionaries like to hand out as a further proof of the LDS church's validity. This card contains the 17 points and what are supposedly 17+ proof texts from the Bible to establish their authenticity.
Like most Mormon faith-promoting stories, this one does not bear close scrutiny. Like a movie set, it looks good at first; but after careful investigation the seams, false fronts and cardboard begin to show. Two questions need to be asked about this charming facade:
1. Are the scriptures truly being used in a valid way to establish these "points" or are they, in fact, "straw men" set up as easy targets for the eager young missionaries to pop away at, thus making the orthodox Christian church look bad?
2. Does, in fact, the LDS church fulfill these 17 points as fully as its apologists would like us to believe? We will briefly examine all 17 points, and see if there is more to this faith-promoting story than just a...well...story.
I. CHRIST ORGANIZED THE CHURCH (Eph. 4:11-14)
I think most Christians would take this as a given; although there is nothing particularly strong in the verses quoted to prove that point. Certainly Christ organized the church. The problem our LDS friends have is proving that theirs and theirs alone is, in fact, that church.
Jesus, in fact, talked specifically about building His church--one of the very few times He used the actual term "church" in the gospels:
"And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." Mt. 16:18
Jesus makes clear that He was founding His church upon the Rock of Himself (1)--and that the powers of evil would NOT prevail against it! That is the Lord's own prophecy. Now, if the gates of hell could not prevail against the true church of Jesus; how could there have been the total apostasy which Mormonism claims? (2) If Jesus promised that His church would never be overcome, He would seem a pretty impotent Lord if He could not prevent it from fizzling out in a couple of centuries.
Yet, without the concept of a total apostasy, Joseph Smith's "restoration" of the true church is blasphemous. How dare he presume to restore what Christ Himself declared to be more everlasting that the heavens?
Christ did indeed organize the church, but He was no bungler who had to "reorganize" it again! Christ is the Rock, and what was built on Him stands! We have His word for that. Now since Mormonism claims that the church was totally apostatized, its claims must be tested against the Word of God.
Simply put, if it ain't broke, don't fix it! Joe Smith tried to tinker with the supreme craftsmanship of Jesus Christ. His "restored church" is not a restoration, but an abomination! (3)
II. THE TRUE CHURCH MUST BEAR THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST - Eph. 5:23
Again the scripture quoted is a "straw man," all out of context. Paul is using the metaphor of Christ's relationship to His church to discuss the sacred bond of marriage. It does NOT say there that the church must bear Jesus' name. James talks about individual Christians being called by the name of Christ (Jas. 2:7) and the Bible tells us that the early believers were indeed called Christians. (Acts 11:26) Nowhere in the Bible does Jesus command that His church be given ANY name, much less His name. I challenge the Mormons to find such a verse.
The name on the door of a church is not nearly so important as the doctrine it teaches. The Mormon church teaches many false doctrines condemned by the Bible--and simply putting Jesus' name on their stationary doesn't change that fact--anymore than my changing my name to Ronald Reagan will make me presidentl! There is another element here which needs to be touched on: Does the Mormon church itself fill the bill on this point? Although this might come as a surprise to many LDS, it does not.
The actual legal name of the church at its legal founding in 1830 was the Church of Christ. That fill the requirement halfway. Of course there were and are several Protestant churches with that same name. But then, in 1834, the church's name was CHANGED to the Church of the Latter-day Saints! No mention of Jesus in the title now. This remained the name of the church for four more years, until 1838, when it was changed finally to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.(4)
Now, by the logic of this point--did the Mormon church cease to be the true church from 1830-1834? The very absurdity of the questions illustrates that the name of a church has nothing to do with its authenticity or true doctrine.
III. IT MUST HAVE A FOUNDATION OF APOSTLES AND PROPHETS - Eph. 2:19-20
We need to look at this verse a bit more closely, because it does seem to pertain to the question at hand. Verse 20 says:
"And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone."
Note that the verse says "built upon THE foundation..." not upon "a" foundation..." The actual grammar of the sentence makes it clear that Jesus Christ is THE foundation of the apostles and the prophets--not the other way around.
"A foundation" would indicate that any apostles for prophets would do--but the use of the specific article makes it clear that there is only one foundation, and that is Jesus! You only have to lay a foundation ONCE in building a house; and the Lord did that 2000 years ago.
It is also interesting to note that other churches, including the RLDS church and the countless other Mormon splinter groups, have apostles and prophets. Does that make them also the true church? In most Pentecostal churches people function in the office of prophet within the body; so it is hardly a unique trait of the LDS church.
Finally, a question about why the LDS church teaches that the prophet is greater than his apostles; when in the scripture cited (and others) the apostle is always given primacy. It seems as though the Mormons have their offices backwards.
IV. MUST HAVE THE SAME ORGANIZATION AS CHRIST'S CHURCH - Eph. 4:11-14
This is the same proof text cited in point 1, but here it is more pertinent. Let's examine the text and compare it to the actual structure of the LDS church.
"And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: that we henceforth be nor more children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men and cunning craftiness whereby they lie in wait to deceive."
First of all--note that these are GIFTS given to some. The original Greek makes it clear that these are giftings to some of those in the body of Christ. SOME are gifted with these offices; which is not the way the LDS church sees it. However, that may be regarded as a pedantic quibble, so let's see precisely how well they measure up as an exact replica of the format given above.
1)Apostles: note that apostles are again given highest priority and billing. This is opposite to LDS practice in which the prophet rules over the council of apostles. It also needs to be mentioned that just calling someone an apostle doesn't make them one.
2)Prophets: note the plural. Mormonism has only ONE real prophet, who is also an apostle. It is apparent from the New Testament that there were MANY prophets functioning OUTSIDE of the apostolic office all through the church (Acts 11:27-28, 13:1, 15:32, and 21:9)
We must remember again that just calling someone a prophet does not make them a prophet. Biblically, the prophet of the New Testament was both a forth-teller and a foreteller. That is to say he exhorted and comforted the believers. But these prophets made several specific prophecies which came to pass! Biblically, that is an important test of a prophet.
So when Mormons say then have prophets, do they in fact prophecy? Do those prophecies come to pass? Deut. 18:18-22 says that if ONE prophecy fails from a prophet, that prophet is false. Pretty strict stuff here, but we are talking about a man who claims to speak for God, after all.
Joseph Smith made many prophecies. It has been determined by researchers that AT LEAST 53 of his prophecies were false! (5) Some of the ones that would be easiest to tract down for LDS people would be:
Doctrine & Covenants 84:3, 5 31---Smith prophesied in 1832 that a temple (house of the Lord) would be built in Independence, Mo. during THAT generation. Figuring AT MOST, a hundred years for a generation, that still leaves us over fifty years shy. There is still no temple in Independence.
Doctrine & Covenant 124:56-60---Smith prophesied that Nauvoo House would be in the family forever (1841) It did not remain in his family, and is not owned by them today. Obviously, it would be beyond the scope of this paper to list all his false prophecies. Any astute student can find things out just by reading official Church Histories and D&C!
That utterly disqualifies Smith as a prophet. Since then, the LDS prophets have wised up. No prophets have made prophecies in the Mormon church in a generation! So how can they claim to have prophets if they never prophesy and those who do are frequently proven false?
3. Evangelists: there is NO office of evangelist in the LDA hierarchy. LDS officials claim that the patriarch is an evangelist; but even a casual reading the scripture will determine that an evangelist is a traveling preacher of the gospel, not someone who stays in one place and gives "patriarchal blessings!" (The words do not even appear in the New Testament!) Besides, if they're evangelists, why doesn't the TRUE church call them evangelists?
4. Pastors: there is no office of pastor in the LDS church. LDS officials claim that bishops are the same as pastors and a fairly good biblical case could be made for that assertion; but then why don't they CALL them pastors? Besides, in 1 Tim 2:1-2, Paul commands that bishops must have but one wife; and that disqualifies GENERATION OF LDS bishops who were practicing plural marriage. Remember, God doesn't change His mind. (Mal. 3:6)
5. Teachers: there are teachers in the LDS church; but consider, by way of ending this point, how many offices the LDS church has that DO NOT FIT into the New Testament mold.
1. High Priests--there is only one Christian High Priest mentioned in the New Testament; and that is Jesus. There is not a shred of evidence for a Christian office of high priest. And in the case of the Jewish (OT) high priest, there was only ONE. Mormonism has literally thousands of high priests.
b.) Seventies--no indication of the office in the NT. Just because the Lord sent out 70 men to preach doesn't make it an office in the church. Paul does not list a seventy anywhere in his lists.
c.) deacons--nowhere in the NT will you find a 12-year-old deacon. The fact that Paul commands that deacons should have but one wife and family kind of indicates that the NT deacons were adults, even as they are in Christian churches.
d.)patriarchs--not mentioned as an office in the NT at all; and there is no one giving "reading" or blessing of that kind mentioned.
e.) presidents--the word is not even IN the NT; and yet many important priesthood leaders are called presidents -- including the prophet of the church.
It looks like any resemblance between Mormonism's structure and organization and the church of the NT is more coincidence than anything else.
V. IT MUST CLAIM DIVINE AUTHORITY - HEB 5: 4-10
It is one thing to claim divine authority, and quite another to actually possess it! Where does the LDS church get its right to claim it has authority? Essentially from Smith and his experience with Oliver Cowdery when they were allegedly visited by John the Baptist on may 15, 1829 (D&C 13).
The problem with this is that, by the LDS church's own standards, the authority isn't there--for two reasons:
1. The Church teaches that the Lord must go through human priesthood holders rather than angelic ministrants if such are available. Otherwise, any person could stand up in a ward meeting and claim that they had received the priesthood from an angel or John the Baptist or something. This, they teach, would short circuit or circumvent the authority of the patriarchal order.
If this is so, why did angelic beings (i.e., the Baptist, Peter and James) have to manifest to Smith when, according to LDS doctrine, both the Three Nephites and John the Beloved are on earth today in physical bodies? Surely John had the Melchizedek and Aaronic priesthood if anyone did. This whole procedure is mot irregular by LDS standards.
2. The more serious problem is with the actual events surrounding John the Baptist's visitation, Consider the official order in which church historians present the events:
a. The Baptist confers Aaronic priesthood upon Smith and Cowdery who had not been baptized and cannot therefore validly receive it by LDS standards.
b. Smith, who has been invalidly given the priesthood, then baptized Cowdery, without proper authority.
c. Invalidly ordained and baptized Cowdery then baptizes Smith, without proper authority.
d. Invalidly ordained and baptized Smith then REORDAINS Cowdery to the Aaronic priesthood. Apparently John the Baptist's authority wasn't enough.
e. Invalidly re-ordained and baptized Cowdery then re-ordains Smith. (6)
And yet God is not the author of confusion???
Now honestly, dear LDS reader--can you imagine any bishop letting such a disorganized pack of nonsense happen in his baptismal font? Can this be from God? Or is it patchwork history?
Remember, it is from this fountainhead that all LDS priesthood authority flows. Without valid baptism and ordination, Smith could not have received the Melchizedek priesthood later (if indeed he ever did-- the scrupulous record-keeping LDS church cannot even give us a date for that earthshaking event). If Smith was invalidly baptized by Cowdery then the entire historical line of priesthood succession down to this very day is fouled.
The final thing that needs to be mentioned in this point is about the scripture cited. Even a cursory reading of the chapter reveals that it is not about any man being given divine authority, but Jesus Christ, our eternal and ONLY high priest!
VI. IT MUST HAVE NO PAID MINISTRY - Is. 45:13, 1Pet. 5:2
This is another straw man scripture citation. Neither of these verses forbid paid ministers. They simply mean that the motivation for ministry must not be greed!
This interpretation totally ignores Paul's passages about the support of his ministry;
"Who goeth a warfare anytime AT HIS OWN CHARGES? who planteth a vineyard and eateth not of the fruit thereof? or who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock? Say I these things as a man? or sayeth not the law the same also For it is written in the law of Moses, thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn...Do you not know that they which minister about holy things live off the things of the temple? and they which laid at the altar are partakers with the altar? Even so hath the Lord ordained THAT THEY WHICH PREACH THTE GOSPEL SHOULD LIVE OFF THE GOSPEL." (1 Cor. 9:7-9, 13-114)
See also 2 Tim 2:4-6, Rom 15:27, Mt. 10:10, LK, 10:7 and 1 Tim. 5:18 for simple scriptural evidence that ministers of the gospel are expected to be supported by their people.
Admittedly, no minister should be in it for material gain; and that is all that those passages cited teach?!
We need to determine whether the LDS church even meets this "straw man" criterion. Although it is true that the ward and stake officials in Mormonism work for nothing , the regional and general authorities of the church all draw salaries for their work.
Admittedly, these salaries are not huge; but when you couple that with the fact that the higher lever general authorities, especially apostles sit on the boards of directors of many of the massive corporations which the LDS church owns, such as Beneficial Life; we can see that the Brethren are really cleaning up! The last reported income of a member of the First Presidency was in the sic figure bracket; and most of that came as a result of his church office. (7)
Even the LDS scriptures command that Joseph Smith (D&C 24: 18-19) and the bishops (D&X 42:71: 74; 119:2) are to be provided for out of the tithes of the church Let him who is without "sin" cast the first stone!
VII. IT MUST BAPTIZE BY IMMERSION - MT. 3:13-16
Here, for once, we as Christians can have little quarrel with the Mormons. Baptism by immersion seems to be unmistakably the norm in the New Testament. I would just venture to say that no one is going to hell simply for being sprinkled instead of immersed; even though immersion in the Biblical prototype.
Baptism doesn't save us, faith in Jesus saves us. (Rom 10:9-10, Eph 2:8-9, Acts 16:31) In all fairness, it should be mentioned that literally dozens of Christian fellowships baptize by immersion, and even in Joseph Smith's day, there were many, such as the Baptists, who did so.
VIII. IT MUST BESTOW THE GIFT OF THE HOLY GHOST BY THE LAYING ON OF HANDS - Acts 8:14-17
Again, the quarrel we have here is not so much with the statement but with the imperative in it. This implies that the ONLY way one can receive the Holy Spirit is by laying on of hands. Actually, there are many NT instances of people receiving the Holy Ghost without the laying on of hands---including:
1. Elizabeth and her unborn son, John (lo, 1:41)
2. All the disciples in the upper room (Acts 2:1-4)
3. Cornelia and his family (Acts 10:44-45)
The point is that while there is nothing unscriptural about the practice of laying hands, neither is it absolutely essential. As Jesus says,
"The wind bloweth where it lesteth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth; so is everyone that is born of the Spirit." Jn.3:8
You can't pin down the Spirit of the Living God. He will move in accord with His own sovereignty and descend upon whomsoever He will. The Mormons try to make something magical or ritualized about it; and in doing so they fall closer to the error of Simon the Sorcerer in Acts 8, than to apostolic Christianity.
Again, many churches other than the Mormons lay on hands for the reception of the Holy Ghost.
IX. IT MUST PRACTICE DIVINE HEALING MK. 3:124-15
Yes, it should; and many Christian churches do; with much more frequency than is ever found in the Mormon church. In my five years in the church, I never saw a really miraculous healing; whereas since I've become a Christian I've seen literally a dozen or more.
People like Kathryn Kuhlmann have had literally thousands of people cured under their ministry. Can any LDS apostle or prophet make such a claim and substantiate it? Truth is not decided by signs and wonders, but by doctrine. The LDS church could heal everyone in sight and still be teaching damnable lies. Don't forget that Satan can also produce lying wonders.
The point is, the LDS church teaches a false god and a false Jesus and a false method of salvation; so where do you think their healing powers (such as they are) come from? Whom does their healing exalt? Jesus Christ or the Melchizedek priesthood?
X. IT MUST TEACH THAT GOD AND JESUS ARE SEPARATE AND DISTINCT INDIVIDUALS - (John 17:11, 20:17)
XI. ...AND THAT GOD AND JESUS HAVE BODIES OF FLESH AND BONE - Lk.24:36--39; Acts 1:9-11)
For brevity's sake, we'll be dealing with both of these claims; as they are part of the same theological parcel. These represent some of the most unique (or heretical) claims of LDS theology. They challenge all the historic creedal statements of Christianity, from Nicea on! Now, the question then becomes: which theology is scriptural---the Nicean and Chalcedonian councils which affirm the Trinity; or the LDS assertion that the godhead is, in fact, a committee of three separate Gods.
A couple of quick observations: First, the passages cited in Luke and Acts above prove nothing about God the Father. They teach (as does historic Christianity) that Jesus indeed does have a glorified, resurrected body of flesh and bone. Only the Jehovah's Witnesses and a few modern New Age cults deny this. This is not quarrel.
Second, the other two verses cited (John 17:11 and 20:17) are the same old "straw man" verses. Let's see what is being said here:
"And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee, Holy Father, Keep through tine own name those whom thou hast given me, and they might be one, as we are."
The LDS people cite this because it has Jesus GOING to the Father; implying that they are distinct individuals. It also has Jesus saying that He wants us, His followers, to be one as He is with the Father. Neither statement categorically asserts that God and Jesus are separate being.
Certainly that would be a possible conclusion from reading these words; but is it the only possibility? They problem with the LDS church is that they have never been able to handle the mystery of Jesus' Incarnation. Because LDS theology is so grandiose as to claim that man can become God, they have a lot of trouble understanding how Jesus EMPTIED Himself out to become a man while remaining fully God!
"But he made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant and was made in the likeness of men." Phil. 2:7
This extraordinary act of love--called KENOSIS in the Biblical Greek--is cheapened by LDS theology into a self-serving act on the Savior's part. The Christians Jesus became a man out of sheer, gracious, self-sacrificing love. The LDS Jesus did it because he couldn't make godhood without doing it.
It is obvious that once the Eternal Word took on flesh, He would be separate for a time from His Father physically. This in no way affects His utter Oneness with the Father. Since there are literally dozens of verses in the Bible which affirm that there is only one God (Deut. 6:4, Is. 43:10, 44:6-8, 45:5-6, 46:5-9, 1Cor.l8:4, etc.) and since God doesn't contradict Himself, we must assume that something else is meant by the few New Testament verses that might imply that Jesus and the Father are separate gods.
The key to this verse and John 20:17 is that Jesus was indeed separate from the Father for a time in His humanity. Otherwise you are standing athwart the entire Bible. John 1:1 doesn't say that the Word was a god. It says He IS GOD! There's no way around that !
Now, about the Father having a body of flesh and bone--you cannot find a SINGLE Bible verse that says that! On the contrary, we have these verses:
"God is not a man that he should lie, neither the son of man that he should repent..." Num. 23:19
"...Do I not fill heaven and earth? saith the Lord.""" Jer. 23:24b
"But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee." 1 Kgs. 8:27
"...as God hath said, I will dwell IN them, and walk IN them; and I will be their God..." 2 Cor. 6:16
"God is a Spirit; and they that worship Him must worship him in spirit and in truth." Jn. 4:24
And what exactly IS a spirit? Happily, Jesus Himself tells us---at least what a spirit is not;
"..."Handle me and see; for a spirit HATH NOT FLESH AND BONES, as ye see I have." Luke 24:39b
And this from the very quote the Mormons want us to look at! From these verses, it is apparent that the consistent message of the Bible concerning God is that He is One God; and that He is a Spirit. If we cannot grasp the essential mystery of the Trinity, that is our problem, not His.
However, before we leave these points; let us look and see if even the LDS church really is true to these points "of the true church." In fact, the central scripture of Mormonism, the Book of Mormon, denies ABOTH that God has a body of flesh and bone AND that the Father and Jesus are separate beings.
Regarding if Jesus and God are distinct:
"And now Abinadi said unto them: I would that ye should understand that GOD HIMSELF SHALL COME DOWN among the children of men, and shall redeem his people. And because he dwelleth in flesh he shall be called the Son of God, and having subjected the flesh to the will of the Father, BEING THE FATHER AND THE SON... And they are ONE GOD, YEA THE VERY ETERNAL FATHER OF HEAVEN and earth." Mosiah 15:1-2, 4
"...Christ the Son and God the Father, and the Holy Spirit, WHICH IS ONE ETERNAL GOD." Alma 11:44
"But there is ONE GOD and he is Christ, and he cometh in the fulness of his own time." 2Nephi 11:7
"This is he doctrine of Christ, and the only and true doctrine of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost which is ONE GOD, without end. Amen." 2 Nephi 31:21
Paul couldn't have put it plainer! See also: Alma 11:28-29, Mosiah 15:5, 2 Nephi 26:12, Mosiah 3:5, 7:27, 13-34, 16:15, and The Testimony of the Three Witnesses (last sentence). All of these verses state that there is but one God and that Jesus and the Father are that ONE GOD. And nowhere is the phrase "Lone in purpose" used. To add that is to add to "inspired scripture", something Mormons and Christians alike believe to be blasphemous.
New about God not being a spirit, but rather an exalted man of flesh and bone: "And then Ammon said: Believest thou that there is a GREAT SPIRIT? And he (Lamoni) said, Yea. And Ammon said: THIS IS GOD. And Ammon said unto him again: Believest thou that this Great Spirit, WHO IS GOD created all things which are in heaven and in the earth?" Alma 18:26-28
And this from the Book of Mormon, which Joseph Smith claimed to be the most theologically correct book on earth! (8)
"For I know that God is not a partial God, neither a CHANGEABLE BEING, but he is UNCHANGEABLE from all eternity to all eternity." Moroni 8:18
Now if God is unchangeable, that means He was never anything other than what He is now. That indicates that he could not have progresses as Joseph Smith taught.(9) This flushes the entire "Eternal Progression" teaching of the LDS church right down the drain!
As if that isn't bad enough, Smith himself taught that God the Father was a Spirit in his early, ultra-elite School of the Prophets. This teaching was published as official LDS scripture by Smith in the 1835 edition of Doctrine and Covenants as the Lectures on Faith. Here Smith taught:
"We shall in this lecture speak of the Godhead: we mean the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. There are two personages who constitute the great, matchless, governing and supreme power over all thing... they are the Father and the Son: The Father BEING A PERSONAGE OF SPIRIT, glory and power: possessing perfection and fulness:" 1835 D&C pp. 52-53.
Interestingly enough, after Smith's death, these lectures were censored out of the D&C by church authorities, since they directly contradict Smith's later teaching. Nevertheless, these writings are still in spring from official LDS sources and can be checked.
This means that the LDS church, by the standards of these two points, was not the true church in the early 1830's; and in fact did not become the true church until Smith preached the King Follett discourse in EARLY 1844!! Hopefully, the Biblical verses cited above have proven that these standards are false and misleading. The true church teaches the Biblical doctrine that God is One and that God is a Spirit.
XII. IT MUST HAVE OFFICERS CALLED BY GOD - Heb. 5:4, Ex. 28:1, and 40:13-16.
Again, the first verse is a "straw" verse since it obviously pertains--in context--to the divine calling of Jesus as our great high priest. It is, of course, true.
Since the LDS authorities insist on the exact resemblance between their "calling" and Aaron's in the book of Exodus; let's examine the other verses.
"And take thou unto thee Aaron thy brother, and his sons with him, from among the children of Israel; that he may minister unto me in the priest's office..." Ex. 28:1
It is apparent to anyone that the Lord is speaking here. He is calling Aaron to the priest's office. But THIS IS NOT the way LDS officials are called! When I was called, in 1982, to be an elders' quorum president, I was chosen by a committee of Mormon leaders---not by the voice of God! God did not speak verbally to any of those men!
I know this is true, because in my office as EQ president, I called my counselors, quorum teacher, and home teachers. I prayed about it, sure; but ultimately it amounted to the bishop and stake high counselor and I sitting down and shuffling a few names around until we found people willing to take the calling. I never heard the voice of God telling me: "CALL BROTHER SO-AND -SO TO BE YOUR FIRST COUNSELOR." Yet, many of the brethren were kind enough to say I was the best EQ president they remembered.
Now I say this not to puff myself up; but just illustrate that I was not a spiritual dolt by LDS standards. In all priesthood committee meetings I attended, I never once heard the voice of God speak to anyone telling them to call someone to an office. It was simply a matter of committee work, expediency, and who was available.
Often, I'd have to do "horse trading" with the stake high counselor. I'd have to say, "If you'll let me have Brother Hones to be my quorum teacher; I'll release Brother Smith from his calling to be a stake missionary." Now that's about as far as you can get from what is happening in Ex. 28:1; and I think any LDS leader, if they are honest, would admit that this sort of thing is quite common.
Now to the other verses:
"...And thou shalt put upon Aaron the holy garments and anoint him, and sanctify him; that he may minister to me in the priest's office. And thou shalt bring his sons and clothe them with coats; And thou shalt anoint them as thou didst anoint their father, that they may minister unto me in the priest's office: for their anointing shall surely be an everlasting priesthood throughout all their generations."
Now this verse cannot be applied to the LDS priesthood since the Levitical (or Aaronic) priesthood can only be given to Aaron and his sons, who were of the tribe of Levi. (Ex. 28:1, 43 29:9,44 Num18:1-7, Lev. 6:19-23, Neh. 7:61-65) Most Mormons, including Joseph Smith claim to be of the tribe of Ephraim!
This means that they would be cursed if they tried to exercise the Aaronic priesthood (Num. 16:1-3, 16-21, 1 Kings 13:33-34)! Yet, without the Aaronic priesthood, neither Smith nor any other Mormon male can hold the Melchizedek priesthood!
Not only that; consider these Biblical requirements for the calling of Aaronic priests and see if any of them were done in the lesser priesthood of Mormonism:
1. Washed with water (Ex 29:4) no!
2. anointed with oil (v.7) no! Neither of these things are done until a man goes to the temple--a year later usually!
3. Did you lay your hands on a bullock? (v. 10) No!
4. Was the bullock killed and the blood poured out? (vs. 11-14) ñNo.
5. Did you lay your hands on a ran? (v. 15) No!
6. Was the ram then killed and its blood sprinkled about the altar? (vs. 16-18).No.
Space prohibits the remaining eight requirements for an Aaronic priest, but you get the idea! As you can see, there is nothing in the ordination of an Aaronic priest in the LDS church which even REMOTELY resembles this.
Now, you may say that this is all Old Testament rituals which no longer apply. AND THAT IS PRECISELY OUR POINT! The Aaronic priesthood is Old Testament--it is NOT part of the new and everlasting covenant of Jesus Christ. And, as has been shown above--there is only ONE high priest after the order of Melchizedek--Jesus!
If Mormons say that they are called "as was Aaron," then they must fulfill both the genetic and ritual requirements which Aaron fulfilled--and they do not. Plus, they cannot prove that their priests or officials are called of God any more than any other church an.
XIIII. IT MUST CLAIM REVELATION FROM GOD - Amon 3:7
Again, to claim and to actually have it are two very different things. LDS revelation contradicts the Bible, and we must remember Isaiah 8:20
"To the law and to the testimony (the Bible); if they speak not according to this word, it is because THERE IS NO LIGHT IN THEM."
This means that LDS revelation, in contradicting Biblical truth, invalidates itself as revelation from God, since God is unchangeable and cannot therefore contradict Himself.
To check out the verse in question, it is readily apparent from the context that the verse is talking about warning people through the mouths of the prophets:
"Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, (an alarm or warning) and the people not be afraid? shall there be evil in a city, and the LORD hath not done it? Surely the LORD God will do nothing but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets. " Amos 3:6-7
Amos prophesied during the reign of Uzziah, King of Judah; and his prophecies were warnings about the coming destruction of both the northern and southern kingdoms of Israel and Judah. Every prophet received warnings like this and conveyed them to the people of God.
The problem with the way the Mormons use this verse is that we already HAVE our prophetic warning! It is true, the Lord will do nothing except He reveal it to the prophets first---but our revelation--our warning --is conveyed in the New Testament, specifically in the Book of Revelation and in parts of the gospels where Our Lord Himself discourses and prophesies on the end times. Daniel in the Old Testament is also specifically directed as a warning to us in these last days!
Truly, the Lord will do nothing calamitous or devastating that He has not already revealed to the prophets. But that doesn't mean that every little move He makes must be reported to the prophets. That would be an absurdly literalist approach. God does millions of things just for us on earth EVERY DAY! No bird could fly without him, no baby be born, no healing be received. Think of the millions of prayers that are answered every day from the throne of God! Yet none of these things are revealed to those who are prophets today. Obviously, Amos is talking about warning the people away from their sins--warning them of coming wrath!
Even if we grant this literalist approach to our LDS friends; does the LDS church fit into this point? Think of the three great calamities of this century--world-wide calamities; the First and Second World Wars and the Depression. Yet it is totally apparent that the LDS leaders were caught flat-footed and unprepared for all three events.
The church made no preparation for its people, especially those in Europe, before the Great Wars. In fact, so lacking was the spiritual counsel to the German Mormons that many became Nazis during the 1930's! Surely the Prophet would have warned them away from so monstrous an evil!
Although the church likes to boast of its welfare program, it is a matter of historical fact that the Depression caught the LDS authorities utterly by surprise and they only came up with the Welfare Program after FDLR came up with his! Prophets do not react, they act!
Even recently, with some of the natural disasters in Utah, floods, blizzards and mudslides; why were not the people warned in advance by their prophet if the Lord does nothing without telling them? And perhaps the most disturbing question of all: Why weren't LDS leaders like Gordon B. Hinckley forewarned about spending hundreds of thousands of dollars of the church's money on forged documents from Mark Hoffman?
Surely the Lord did not want His tithing money going to fill the coffers of a crook! Yet the LDS leaders were obviously duped! Some prophet!
XIIIIV. IT MUST BE A MISSIONARY CHURCH - Mt. 28:19,20.
No argument here! This is an essential point of the church of Jesus! Of course, the Mormons are hardly unique in their missionary work. Most evangelical churches have hundreds or even thousands of missionaries in the field. Admittedly, the Mormons have more missionaries out than do most other churches; but if numbers are that important; then the Jehovah's Witnesses would be the one true church; for they have many times more missionaries than the LDS church!
No, it's not how many missionaries you have out, it's whether or not you're preaching the true gospel--and neither the Witnesses nor the Mormons are doing that!
XV. IT MUST BE A RESTORED CHURCH - Acts 3:19,20
This is another one of those "straw man" scriptures, land the LDS interpretation of it is questionable at best. Let us see the context again:
"Repent ye therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; and he shall send Jesus Christ which before was preached unto you: Whom the heavens must receive UNTIL the times of RESTITUTION OF ALL THINGS, which god has spoken through the mouth of ALL his holy prophets sine the world began." Acts 3:19,21
First of all, we note that nowhere is a church being restored mentioned. It is quite evident from v. 21 that this 'restitution' will not take place 'UNTIL' the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Since even the LDS agree that Jesus' return hasn't occurred yet, then their 'restoration ' could not be what is being spoken of.
Jesus must come again in glory before the restitution, so it is obvious that it refers to His millennial reign and restoration of the laws of the kingdom of God to the earth that is being discussed. This is all the more likely in the light of v. 21's conclusion which refers to ALL the prophets' testifying to this event. The millennial reign of Christ is indeed spoken of by literally ALL the prophets; whereas the idea of an apostasy is not spoken of by hardly any of them (in. the context of the Christian church).
This brings up the other objection, To have a restored church, you must have a 'fallen' church to restore. Mormonism does, of course, teach that Christianity apostatized around the 2nd or 3rd centuries A.D.; but is this Biblical?
Remember the words of Jesus:
"...and upon this rock I will build my church; and the GATES OF HELL SHALL NOT PREVAIL AGAINST IT." Mt. 16:18.
It would seem that the massive apostasy which Mormon doctrine demands would certainly constitute the gates of Hell prevailing against the church--if not one professing Christian remained on earth! To say that this apostasy did occur is to make Christ a liar here! Also, there's this:
"...and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world, Amen." Mt. 28:20
Another promise of Jesus! How could He be with His church until the end of the world if it was in total apostasy from c. 400 to 1830l? No, the whole theory of a "Great Apostasy" does not wash in the light of the Bible. If the church was not lost, then nothing needed to be restored.
XVI. IT MUST PRACTICE BAPTISM FOR THE DEAD - 1Cor. 15:16, 29
This is certainly the most erroneous point of all! Though v. 29 does mention someone practicing baptism for the dead, there is utterly NO evidence to indicate that Paul is talking about the Christian practice
If anything, the use of the pronoun 'they' in a passage where all other pronouns are 'we' or 'us' indicates that 'they' are some non-Christian group in Corinth that practiced baptism for the dead. Paul is simply drawing upon the fact that his readers were acquainted with the cultic rite to make a point about the resurrection of the body. Again, READ THE CONTEXT.
It is always a danger to take one isolated verse and build a doctrine out of it. There are no other verses in the Bible which support the idea that there can be salvation after death. There is evidence to the contrary, though:
"And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment." Heb. 9:27
See also the parable of the rich man and Lazarus; in which Jesus makes it quite clear that once you have died there is no possibility of repentance.
XVII. BY THEIR FRUITS SHALL YE KNOW THEM - Mt. 7:20
PROBABLY NO VERSE IS USED MORE BY THE LDS missionaries than this one. They claim that their happy families, membership numbers, or healthy life-styles are proof of the rightness of their doctrine. Again, we need to read the context in order to understand how they've put the cart before the horse here.
Jesus here is talking about the coming of false prophets which "come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves." (v 15) Now the "sheep's clothing" indicates that these false prophets are going to LOOK righteous, holy, successful. They will DISGUISE themselves as ministers of righteousness. (2 Cor. 11:13-15) This means that external signs such as righteousness cannot necessarily be trusted. They may be sheep's clothing These verses make it clear that the false prophet are not going to hang out a shingle saying "false prophet". They are going to LOOK good! This means that the fruit must be something else.
If not their actions, it must be their doctrine:
"If there arise among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams; and giveth thee a sign or a wonder. And the sign and the wonder come to pass, he spake unto thee, saying, LET US GO AFTER OTHER GODS, WHICH THOU HAST NOT KNOWN, and let us serve them. Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet...for the LORD your god proveth you..."Dt. 13:1-2]
Notice, it's not what the prophet DOES--but what he teaches that is important.
Now as has been amply demonstrated in this paper, the doctrines that the LDS prophets have taught are NOT Biblical! The god they preach is a glorified, exalted man--one of a long line of gods and goddesses; not the one, eternal, unchangeable God taught throughout the Bible! Therefore the LDS prophets are leading you after false gods! This makes their fruit bad, no matter how good their choir is--not matter how many cute commercials they make about happy families! We must judge their doctrine; and find it false.
IF I AM A LATTER-DAY SAINT, WHAT SHALL I DO?
Come to the real Jesus of the Bible and call upon Him for salvation! He ALONE aahas the power to save to the uttermost (Heb 7:::25). The Bible tells us that you can know for certain that you have eternal life with God in heaven (1 John 5:13)!
Confess to the Lord that you are a sinner; and that nothing you can do will bring you to salvation (Rom 3:23). Believe that Jesus died on the cross and shed his blood to pay for your own sins (Rom 10:9). Ask the Lord to save you (Rom 10:13). Ask Him to be the Lord of your entire life. (Rom. 12:1,2) Then renounce all the hidden works of the darkness of Mormonism and ask Jesus to remove them from your life (Eph. 5:8-11)