HOW TO WITNESS EFFECTIVELY TO MORMONS — Breaking the LDS Authority Barrier Step-by-Step
“I feel sorry for you!” exclaimed a middle-aged Mormon lady to a Christian teenager handing out Gospel tracts at a Mormon event. “You have some truth, but you don’t have the fullness of the Gospel like we do. We have priesthood authority and modern-day Prophets and Apostles to lead us. What could your church possibly have to offer us?”
This prideful attitude is common among members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS). They believe that “plain and precious” Gospel doctrines have been removed from the Christian Bible so that additional books of Mormon Scripture (i.e., Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price) are needed for a complete understanding of the Gospel. The LDS Church teaches that when the Biblical Apostles died, special “priesthood authority” to act in the name of God was removed from the earth. Thus, Mormons claim that Jesus Christ used John the Baptist, Peter, James, and John to confer upon Joseph Smith missing Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthoods so that he would hold the authority necessary to “restore” God’s true Church to earth in 1830. Due to these spiritual superiority claims, how should Christians approach Mormons who think their LDS Church has more to offer than other churches? We suggest the following steps to overcome these foundational Mormon authority barriers.
- Step 1: Share What You Have To Offer
- Step 2: Remove the LDS “Authority” Foundation
- False Premise #1: Priesthood Authority was restored through Mormonism.
- False Premise #2: God speaks through the living Prophets and Apostles of the LDS Church.
- False Premise #3: The Book of Mormon restores Gospel truth lost from the Bible.
- False Premise #4: Answered prayers for the Book of Mormon prove the LDS Church is true.
- False Premise #5: Faith is not faith if it has evidence.
A common mistake that Christians make when witnessing is to offer the Gospel of “faith alone” to a Mormon who is happy with his “faith + works” salvation requirements of the LDS Church. Such encounters often turn into a debate between a Christian and a Mormon playing Bible ping-pong, tossing Scripture proof-texts back and forth in an attempt to prove the other wrong. These debates go nowhere and often end up with the Mormon exclaiming in pride: “Your Gospel is too easy! You only have some truth, but we have the fullness of the everlasting Gospel!”
1 Peter 3:15 instructs Christians to: “…sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.” 1. Herein lies the key to presenting the Gospel to Mormons. Until they “ask you” to “give an account” for your faith, they are not interested in anything you have to offer them. They are content with their culture of Mormonism and their attitude that “we have more Gospel truth that you do” makes them feel superior to anything you offer.
So, how does a person create interest in the true Biblical Gospel of grace? Mark 10:17-22 describes Jesus’ approach to a rich man who, like Mormons, believed that he had to “do” something to earn God’s favor. Jesus’ response to his question of: “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” (verse 17) is perceptive. He did not give him the simple Gospel of grace, but rather, challenged him with obedience to God’s commandments (verse 19). The pride of this man was seen in his response to Jesus when he said: “Teacher, I have kept all these things from my youth up.” (verse 20) Was this statement true? Of course not! Scripture explains that: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:8) This man’s pride had deceived him into thinking he was righteous enough for eternal life. He was not ready for the Gospel of grace. So, Jesus broke him with the law by saying:
“ ‘One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess, and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.’ But at these words his face fell, and he went away grieved, for he was one who owned much property.” —Mark 10:21-22
Jesus put His finger on the rich man’s pride by emphasizing the essence of the law — that of loving God and others by denying self and surrendering all to God. The rich man’s “face fell, and he went away grieved” because he wasn’t ready to give up his pride in his accomplishments and possessions. In the same way that Jesus broke the rich man with the law, we must break Mormon pride with the impossible Gospel law of Mormonism so that they will be humbled into hearing the true Gospel of grace. As an old preacher once admonished the famous Christian apologist Walter Martin at the beginning of his ministry:
“Give them Jesus and the Gospel of grace and love. If they’re not going to buy it, be sure you leave them with Moses.”—Walter Martin, Baptism of Boldness audio message
You may be wondering: “What is the impossible Gospel of Mormonism?” It is the emphasis that the LDS “Gospel Law” puts upon Mormons to do “all” (2 Nephi 25:23) they can do to prove themselves worthy of the highest level of heaven. Although the LDS Church teaches that Jesus Christ died to pay for Adam’s transgression and that because of Christ’s atonement, all people will be resurrected to one of three Kingdoms of Heaven, LDS Scripture states that before a person is able to receive the “grace” and “forgiveness” of Christ, he must first “repent” by removing “all ungodliness” from his life. Moroni 10:32 in the Book of Mormon states:
“Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.”
The key words in this passage are “if” and “then.” “If” a person denies himself of “all ungodliness,” “then” is Christ’s “grace sufficient” for him, but until “all ungodliness” has been removed, Christ’s grace is not sufficient to cover his sins. The same principle holds true for the LDS concept of “forgiveness.” Forgiveness in Mormonism is conditional upon a person’s ability to stop the sin. Thus, if a person repeats a sin after asking for forgiveness, he is refused forgiveness for that one sin and is also held accountable for ALL of his former sins that were related to that one sinful act. 2. Thus, Mormon Scripture Doctrine and Covenants 82:7 states:
“And now, verily I say unto you, I, the Lord, will not lay any sin to your charge; go your ways and sin no more; but unto that soul who sinneth shall the former sins return, saith the Lord your God.”
While both Christians and Mormons agree that repentance (a change of heart and mind about sin) is a requirement for true faith in Jesus Christ, the differences lie in the definition that Mormonism gives for repentance. Mormonism teaches that repentance is not valid until a person has abandoned sin. True to the Faith—A Gospel Reference published by the LDS Church states:
“Because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we can receive forgiveness for our sins through sincere and complete repentance.… Abandonment of Sin. Although confession is an essential element of repentance, it is not enough. The Lord has said, ‘By this ye may know if a man repenteth of his sins—behold, he will confess them and forsake them’ (D&C 58:43). Maintain an unyielding, permanent resolve that you will never repeat the transgression. When you keep this commitment, you will never experience the pain of that sin again.” —True to the Faith, 2004, pp. 70, 134-135
Who has been able to completely eradicate sin in his life? If repentance and forgiveness is based upon a person’s ability to stop sinning, what assurance does a Mormon have that he will be forgiven by God? As you can see, this impossible Gospel of Mormonism cannot promise forgiveness to anyone! Tragically with requirements like these, Mormons are constantly under pressure to perform to the dictates of their Church, never having the assurance of eternal life. I am sure you will agree that the following promises given to the true believer of Christ’s Gospel of Grace would be a welcomed relief to any weary LDS person who has been broken by the law:
“He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.”—Psalm 103:10-12
“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” —Matthew 11:28-30 3.
It can be difficult to start a conversation with a Mormon on the differences between the LDS Gospel and the true Gospel of the Bible. If you’re not careful to wait until the Mormon is broken with his law, you can easily slip into a futile argument over whether or not works are required for salvation. Remember, Mormon pride in their LDS Gospel most be BROKEN before they will consider the true Gospel of Grace. To accomplish this task, below we have provided a sample dialogue that will help you get started in a productive conversation:
CHRISTIAN: “I appreciate the fact that you believe in Jesus Christ as your Savior. Indeed, He is the most important person in my faith as well, but I’m wondering, could you tell me what your Church teaches we must do in order to be forgiven of our sins? Do you believe that faith in Jesus Christ is all that we need?”
MORMON: “No. The Bible says at James 2:17: ‘…faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.’ So, we believe that faith must have works to be acceptable to God. We believe that we are forgiven of our sins by five steps to salvation: 1.) Faith, 2.) Repentance, 3.) Baptism, 4.) Receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost and 5.) Enduring to the End.”
NOTE: Some Mormons will try to hide the “works” requirements of their Gospel in order to sound “Christian.” They may tell you that they believe that “faith in Jesus Christ” is enough for salvation. While it is true that Mormonism teaches that all people, except the “sons of perdition” (those who leave Mormonism), will be “saved” to the first or second level of heaven if they did not perform any works, it is NOT true that Mormons believe that they can gain “eternal life” in the highest level of heaven without works. In fact, on the contrary, their whole reason for building temples around the world is so that Mormons can work toward the highest level of heaven by performing various temple ordinances (e.g., receiving endowments and celestial marriage). If a Mormon tells you that he believes that faith in Jesus Christ is enough for salvation, ask him:
“Do you believe that you can be saved to the highest level of the Celestial Kingdom without your temple works? If not, how can you tell me that you believe that faith in Jesus Christ is ENOUGH for salvation? If Jesus is enough, why do you need your temple?”
CHRISTIAN: “I find it interesting that you believe that you must add works to faith for salvation. This reminds me of something I read in the Book of Mormon. 2 Nephi 25:23 says: ‘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.’ Have you done all you can do for salvation? If I can’t receive the grace to be saved UNTIL I have done all I can do, how can I be assured of salvation in Mormonism if I don’t know when I have done enough?”
MORMON: “Well, Heavenly Father knows our hearts. I’m sure if we are ‘trying’ to do the best we can, Heavenly Father will see this and forgive us.”
CHRISTIAN: “But that’s just my point! Heavenly Father DOES see my heart and He knows that I’m not perfectly doing ‘ALL’ I can do to be saved ALL of the time. For example, when I lay my head down on the pillow at night, I can always think of something I SHOULD have done that day, but didn’t do. Is ‘trying’ really the same as ‘doing’? Didn’t your Prophet Spencer W. Kimball say: ‘Nor is repentance complete when one merely tries to abandon sin. …To “try” is weak. To “do the best I can” is not strong. We must always do better than we can.’—The Miracle of Forgiveness, pp. 164-165? What does Alma 5:27-31 in the Book of Mormon say we have to do before we are ready to meet God?”
This sample dialogue takes you up to the second question listed in our step-by-step witnessing training article entitled: “QUESTIONS FOR LDS ON THE IMPOSSIBLE GOSPEL OF MORMONISM — A Verse-by-Verse Presentation from LDS Scripture” This article will probably be the most helpful to guide you in this discussion with a Mormon.
Be prepared that Mormons will begin to feel overwhelmed by the impossibility of salvation within their religion. They may try to excuse away the evidence you are presenting by saying something like this: “That’s just your interpretation of these Scriptures. It’s not really that impossible.” If a Mormon says this to you, simply ask him: “What is your interpretation of each of these verses?” Don’t allow him to jump around the issue or change subjects. Force him to provide you with a specific explanation on how each verse doesn’t mean what it is says. He will have a hard time coming up with an alternate view because official LDS Church publications and the teachings of LDS Prophets and Apostles have all claimed that one must abandon sin 4. before forgiveness in Mormonism can be granted. Once you have sufficiently proved the point that forgiveness according to the LDS Gospel is impossible to achieve and is never guaranteed, ask the Mormon:
“What does your Church offer me? If Mormonism can’t promise me forgiveness, does anything else matter?”
If his pride in his Gospel is beginning to break, you will see evidence of this in his response to your questions. It is only at this point that he is ready to hear the real Gospel of grace.
When you present the Gospel of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus alone, emphasize that the reason we must add nothing to the sufficient atonement of Christ is so that we will have nothing to “boast” about when we enter heaven (Ephesians 2:9). Either Jesus paid the full price for our sins so that we can go free, or He left part of the sacrifice undone and we must complete it by our works. Either Jesus is completely sufficient to stand as the worthy sacrifice paying the full debt to God the Heavenly Father, or He is insufficient and we must make up what is lacking in His atonement. You can’t have your “Gospel” both ways. The reality is clear that Christ is indeed sufficient for our salvation.
“For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” —2 Corinthians 5:21
“Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.” —Hebrews 7:25
For more information on how to present the Impossible Gospel of Mormonism, see the following articles:
- QUESTIONS FOR LDS ON THE IMPOSSIBLE GOSPEL OF MORMONISM — A Verse-by-Verse Presentation from LDS Scripture
- ARE YOU PREPARED TO MEET GOD? —A Simple Test for the Honest Latter-day Saint
- SAVED OR UNSAVED? – THAT IS THE QUESTION
The Mormon Church proclaims that “Priesthood” is the “authority” to act in the name and power of God. Mormons believe that males must be ordained with “priesthood authority” in order to teach and administer sacred ordinances of the Gospel. These ordinances include: baptism, confirmation, consecration, sacrament, blessings of children, prayers for the sick, miracles, temple endowments, and marriage sealing. They profess that when Jesus established His Church upon the earth, He conferred the “Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthoods” to His disciples. When this “authority” was lost from the earth through the death of the apostles, Mormons claim that apostate doctrines infiltrated the Christian Church and many “plain and precious” doctrines were removed from the Bible.
Declaring that Joseph Smith was “ordained” to the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthoods through a special appearance of John the Baptist, Peter, James and John the Beloved, the LDS Church claims that Joseph Smith “restored” missing Gospel truths through his publication of the Book of Mormon and his organization of the LDS Church under the guidance of living Prophets and Apostles. Thus, Mormons often ridicule Christian pastors for operating without God’s authority because they are not ordained to the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthoods of Mormonism and do not have “living” Prophets and Apostles leading their churches today.
This concept of having the “authority” of special Priesthoods and the guidance of “living” Prophets and Apostles who claim the ability to receive direct “revelation” from God, forms the basis of Mormon pride in their Church, fosters LDS feelings of superiority over all other professing “Christians,” and holds Mormons captive to the official teachings of the Mormon Church; for to question the “living Prophet” is viewed as questioning God Himself!
Mormons claim that the Lord will never allow the President of the LDS Church to lead the Church astray. Thus, heavy emphasis is constantly given to “sustain the General Authorities” (Mormon leaders) of the LDS Church by following their “teachings completely.” 5. Until the Mormon’s trust in the counterfeit “authority” claims of the LDS Church is broken, it is difficult to make any progress in convincing Mormons of the doctrinal falsehoods of Mormonism.
Ultimately, the Holy Spirit is the only one who can penetrate a Mormon’s heart and mind with the truth of Scripture. However, a Christian who is prepared to lovingly share his faith while breaking down the following false premises of Mormonism with prayer, Scriptural truth, and historical documentation, can greatly increase a Mormon’s ability to break free of LDS strongholds.
The following facts dispel the myths concerning Mormon Priesthood Authority. You can use these facts to prove that Mormon authority claims have no foundation in reality, but were merely the whimsical dreams of Joseph Smith and his cronies.
According to Mormon Scripture, the Apostle John never died (D&C 7:1-3 and 3 Nephi 28:6-7). So, according to LDS Scripture, Priesthood authority was never lost from the earth. Therefore it did not need to be restored. See “WAS A ‘RESTORATION’ OF THE GOSPEL NECESSARY?”
- Mormon Priesthood descriptions do not concur with the Biblical descriptions of the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthoods. Therefore, these Priesthoods could not have been “restored” through Mormonism. See “WAS PRIESTHOOD AUTHORITY RESTORED THROUGH MORMONISM?”
- Joseph Smith did not have LDS Priesthood Authority until a year to two years AFTER he organized the LDS Church. So, by Mormon standards, the LDS Church was organized withoutproper authority. See “DID JOSEPH SMITH POSSESS THE PROPER PRIESTHOOD AUTHORITY TO RESTORE CHRIST’S CHURCH IN 1830?”
- Both the Bible and Mormon Scripture prove that neither Joseph Smith nor followers of Christ possess the qualifications to hold the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthoods (Numbers 3:3, 6, 10; Hebrews 7:1-4; 26; Genesis 41:45, 50-52;Abraham 1:21-22, 26-27). See “WHO HAS THE PROPER AUTHORITY TO ADMINISTER GOSPEL ORDINANCES? — 20 Questions for LDS on Priesthood Authority”
- Jesus Christ was not qualified to hold the Aaronic Priesthood (Hebrews 7:5, 14), but He is the ONLY High Priest of the Melchizedek Priesthood (Hebrews 7:3-4, 24-26). True Christians are members of a completely separate Priesthood mentioned in the Bible called the “Royal Priesthood” (1 Peter 2:5, 9). The authority of this Priesthood is based completely upon the sacrifice of Christ’s blood and is the only authority given to Christians to act in God’s name. See “HIDDEN DOCTRINES OF MORMONISM – What the Mormon Church Will Not Tell You About Priesthood Authority”
The Mormon Church claims that the canon (rule) of Scripture was not closed with Revelation—the final book of the Bible. Rather, they contend that God gave “new revelation” through the additional books of LDS Scripture (The Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and The Pearl of Great Price) and He still speaks today through the words of the “living” Prophets and Apostles of Mormonism. Thus, Gospel Principles, a publication of the Mormon Church, proclaims:
“In addition to these four books of scripture, the inspired words of our living prophets become scripture to us.” —Gospel Principles, 1995 ed. p. 55
In the Bible, Isaiah 8:20 warns: “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” Scripture is clear that the words and testimonies of any prophet of God must agree with the “law” and “testimony” of God’s Word. Yet, many aspects of the teachings of LDS Prophets and Apostles not only contradict Biblical Scripture, but they contradict the clear teachings of the Book of Mormon as well. For example, the Bible proclaims that there is only one God (Isaiah 43:10; 44:6, 8). The Book of Mormon likewise affirms that the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost are “one God” (Alma 11:28-29, 44; 2 Nephi 11:7; 31:21; Mosiah 15:1-4). Yet, Joseph Smith asserted:
“I will preach on the plurality of Gods… 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.” —Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 370
ASK THE MORMON:
- Do you believe that every person who claims to be a “prophet” is a true Prophet of God? Since the Bible warns about “false prophets,” how should we determine which prophets are of God and which ones are not? (Read Isaiah 8:20 and Deuteronomy 18:20-22.)
- Who am I to believe? Should I believe the teachings of your Prophet Joseph Smith who taught there are “three Gods,” or should I believe the clear teachings of the Bible and the Book of Mormon that say there is only one God?
NOTE: Often Mormons will try to reconcile this discrepancy by claiming that Scripture is just saying that there is one “Godhead” made up of three Gods. If they say this, draw their attention to the fact that the LDS Church teaches that the capital letters “LORD” used in the Bible refer to Jehovah who is Jesus Christ in the Old Testament (see the LDS Bible Dictionary, p. 681). Show them that in both Isaiah 43:10 and Isaiah 44:6 and 8, the LORD Jehovah-Jesus is speaking. Then, ask the Mormon:
At Isaiah 44:6 and 8, Jesus said that He is the “first and last” God and that He doesn’t “know” any other Gods. Did Jesus forget about His Father—God Senior? What about Isaiah 43:10 where LORD Jehovah-Jesus says that before Him there was “no God formed”? Was Jehovah-Jesus “formed” before God the Heavenly Father? At Deuteronomy 6:4: Jehovah-Jesus goes on to say: “Hear, O Israel: The LORD [Jehovah-Jesus] our God [Elohim-Father] is one LORD [Jehovah-Jesus].” Can you see why Christians believe what the Bible says about Jesus and the Father being the SAME God?
Likewise the Book of Mormon teaches at 2 Nephi 11:7: “For if there be no Christ there be no God; and if there be no God we are not, for there could have been no creation. But there is a God, and he is Christ, and he cometh in the fulness of his own time.” If there is “no God” except for Christ, how can the Father be a SEPARATE God from the Son?
Doesn’t your Church teach: “The Lord will never allow the President of the Church to lead us astray.” (Gospel Principles, p. 50)? Since Joseph Smith falsely taught there is a “plurality of Gods” when the Bible and Book of Mormon plainly teach that there is only “one God,” was the LDS Church led astray by this self-acclaimed “Prophet”? What does the Bible say at Deuteronomy 13:1-5 should happen to the “Prophet” who teaches false doctrines about God?
DEUTERONOMY 13:1-5: “If there arise among you a prophet… And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof 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, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you… Ye shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear him… and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him… And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he hath spoken to turn you away from the LORD your God… So shalt thou put the evil away from the midst of thee.”
Did you know that Joseph Smith received a revelation to sell the Book of Mormon copyright in Canada? When that revelation failed, he told the brethren: “Some revelations are of God: some revelations are of man: and some revelations are of the devil.”6. If Joseph Smith didn’t know where his revelations where coming from, how do you know which revelations of LDS Prophets to believe and which ones to reject?
For a compilation of contradictions between Mormon doctrines and revelations, see the following articles:
- CONTRADICTIONS IN MORMONISM —WHO ARE WE TO BELIEVE?
- THE BOOK OF MORMON VS THE BIBLE AND LDS DOCTRINE
- SIGNIFICANT CHANGES IN DOCTRINE AND COVENANTS
- SIGNIFICANT CHANGES IN THE BOOK OF MORMON
HOW DOES GOD SPEAK TODAY?
It is true that God is continuing to speak to His people. Although the gift of prophecy is usually confined to specific individuals who proclaim “word[s] of knowledge” for the edification of the church (1 Corinthians 12:8), Jesus Christ is the only supreme Prophet leading the Church of God today. He gives direct “revelation” to each Christian believer through the testimony of the Bible and the personal indwelling and guidance of the Holy Spirit. Likewise, “apostles” serve in a variety of ways that include proclaiming God’s Word, exhorting fellow believers, and pioneering new churches and ministries throughout the world. Since the Greek word ἀπόστολος (apostolos) for “apostle” means “messenger, he that is sent,” 7. most “apostles” in the Christian church today are called “missionaries.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION SEE:
ARE PROPHETS AND APOSTLES FOR THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH TODAY?
1 CORINTHIANS 12:28: “And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets…”
Mormons believe the Bible is an authoritative book of Scripture. However, they do not trust it like they do their other Scriptures. Claiming that the text of the Bible has been perverted, Joseph Smith declared that he clarified and restored the truths missing from the Bible through his publication of the Book of Mormon.
“I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.”—History of the Church, vol. 4, p. 461
The Book of Mormon itself attacks the Bible by claiming: “there are many plain and precious things taken away from the book, which is the book of the Lamb of God” by the “great and abominable church.”8. So, when a Christian presents verses from the Bible that contradict LDS beliefs, it is not uncommon to hear Mormons question the validity of those Biblical Scriptures by asserting that they were not “translated correctly.” Thus, the LDS Church’s Eighth Article of Faith states:
“We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.”—The Articles of Faith, Pearl of Great Price
In addition to claiming to “restore” and “clarify” alleged lost Bible truths through his publication of the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith produced his own translation of the Bible called The Joseph Smith Translation (JST) or The Inspired Version of the Bible. Although the Mormon Church does not publish a full version of Smith’s translation, it does publish excerpts in the footnotes and appendix of the LDS version of the King James Bible.
Smith’s claim that the text of the Bible has been distorted contradicts numerous manuscript records we possess of the Bible today. The oldest Old Testament Hebrew manuscript we have is the book of Isaiah, dating back to the 2nd Century B.C. When this manuscript was compared with the Isaiah manuscript of the Old Testament Masoretic text dating from 900 A.D., it revealed no significant differences between the texts in over 1,000 years of scribal copying! The same is true when one compares the 5,000+ partial and complete Greek manuscripts we possess of the New Testament with the oldest fragments dating back to the 2nd and 3rd Centuries A.D. They reveal 99.5 % accuracy 9. in the transmission of the text. Finally, these claims of Bible corruption contradict many promises given concerning the preservation of God’s Word:
“Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.”—Matthew 24:35 (See also Mark 13:31 and Luke 21:33.)
“The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.”—Isaiah 40:8
“But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.”—1 Peter 1:25
ASK THE MORMON:
- Can you name a single Book of Mormon “precept” that Joseph Smith claimed would get a man “nearer to God” that is not found in the Bible? If Smith’s claim that “precepts” can be found in the Book of Mormon that are not found in “any other book” is true, why are you not able to find a single Gospel precept taught in the Book of Mormon that is missing from the Bible? Doesn’t the fact that all of the Gospel precepts in the Book of Mormon are also found in the Bible prove that the Bible is not missing “plain and precious” Gospel truths?
- If the Book of Mormon is God’s means of clarifying Gospel truth as prophesied in 1 Nephi 13:34, why are there over 100 Mormon splinter groups that all affirm the Book of Mormon as their foundational Scripture? If the Book of Mormon’s Gospel is really so “plain,” why do all these churches disagree about what this “Gospel” really is?
- NOTE: This is a critical point because Mormons often accuse Christian denominations of division due to what they allege as “confusion” and “distortion” in the Biblical text. When you prove that Mormons have the same problem among their Book of Mormon adherents, you demonstrate that such division is not the result of a so-called “distorted” Scriptural text.
- Since Jesus promised at Matthew 24:35 that His “Word” would “not pass away,” isn’t the Book of Mormon calling Jesus a liar by claiming that Jesus didn’t keep His promise to preserve His precious Gospel truths from being lost? Which should we believe? Jesus or the Book of Mormon?
- NOTE: No Mormon will want to tell you that Jesus is a liar. Yet, this is what he must believe if he accepts the testimony of the Book of Mormon concerning the words of Jesus being lost from the Bible. If the Mormon argues by saying that Jesus’ words about preserving His Word were not “translated correctly,” challenge the Mormon on why Joseph Smith did not correct these verses in his own Inspired Version of the Bible. If the Mormon claims that Smith never finished his translation of the Bible, correct his misunderstanding by showing him that Smith claimed to have finished his translation of the Scriptures in July of 1833, recorded in History of the Church, volume 1, pages 324 and 368. Also, Doctrine and Covenants revelations 94:10, 104:58, and 124:89 all state that God commanded Smith’s Bible translation to be printed. If Joseph Smith never finished his translation, why would God command it to be printed?
- If Biblical Scripture was distorted by the so-called “abominable church” of 1 Nephi 13, why is there no evidence of this corruption found in the thousands of manuscripts we possess of the Bible today, many dating prior to the formation of the Catholic church? How could these manuscripts all agree with 99.5% accuracy if “plain and precious” truths were removed?
FOR MORE INFORMATION SEE:
- WERE PRECIOUS DOCTRINES REMOVED FROM THE BIBLE?
- SHOULD WE TRUST THE BIBLE? —A Response to Mormonism’s Attack Upon the Bible’s Accuracy
- MORMON SPLINTER GROUPS — Sects that broke away from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
IS BIBLE SCRIPTURE INCOMPLETE?
A common accusation leveled by Mormons against the completeness of the Bible is the claim that there are “missing” or “lost” books of the Bible. To support this claim, Mormons often point to citations of book titles given in the text of the Bible that are not found in the canon (rule) of the Bible. Christians often respond to this accusation by pointing out that not every book mentioned in the Bible was considered Scripture. Often these books were referenced simply because they were well-known historical accounts of the nation of Israel (such as the book of the wars of the Lord mentioned at Numbers 21:14) or were the journals of the prophets (such as the book of Gad the Seer at 1 Chronicles 29:29). They are not included in the canon of the Bible today because the Jews never considered these books to be Scripture in the first place. Ironically, not only does the Bible cite unscriptural books in its text, but the Book of Mormon also cites no less than ten books that are not found in its canon of Scripture either. One can ask the Mormon, “Is the Book of Mormon also missing books?” No Mormon would agree to this claim in regard to the Book of Mormon; yet the “missing books” argument is hypocritically tossed around in Mormon circles as evidence that the Bible is incomplete. Mormons also accuse ambiguous statements in the Apostle Paul’s letters as evidence that some of his letters were lost from the text of Scripture. These accusations and more are answered in our website article entitled: “SHOULD WE TRUST THE BIBLE? —A Response to Mormonism’s Attack Upon the Bible’s Accuracy.”
Mormons often ridicule Christians who believe in the sufficiency of the Bible with the taunt from the Book of Mormon that says:
“And because my words shall hiss forth—many of the Gentiles shall say: A Bible! A Bible! We have got a Bible, and there cannot be any more Bible. …Thou fool, that shall say: A Bible, we have got a Bible, and we need no more Bible. Have ye obtained a Bible save it were by the Jews? Know ye not that there are more nations than one?” —2 Nephi 29:3, 6-7
In addition to advocating “Latter-day revelation” from God through their additional books of “Scripture,” Mormons also believe that God may send “new revelation” at anytime through the words of their current, living Prophet. The problem with this open view of the canon of Scripture is that so much of this “new revelation” of “Latter-day Prophets” contradicts former revelation, not only in the Bible, but also in the Book of Mormon. Although the Bible does not specifically say that God’s revelations to man were completed with Revelation, the last book of the Bible, it does state:
“For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.”—Acts 20:27
“According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue.”—2 Peter 1:3
ASK THE MORMON:
- If “all things that pertain unto life and godliness” and “all the counsel of God” have already been declared to us through the Bible, what need do we have of new “counsel” from God in the form of additional Scripture?
FOR MORE INFORMATION SEE:
- SHOULD WE TRUST THE BIBLE? —A Response to Mormonism’s Attack Upon the Bible’s Accuracy
- ARE PROPHETS AND APOSTLES FOR THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH TODAY?
It doesn’t take long in spiritual conversations with Mormons before the challenge to read and pray about the Book of Mormon is presented as a test to determine the truthfulness of the Mormon Church. Often the challenge of Moroni in the Book of Mormon is read from Moroni 10:4:
“And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.”
This is a classic “bait and switch” tactic because one can read the Book of Mormon from cover to cover and not find many of the unique doctrines that differentiate the Mormon Church from other churches of Christianity. While the Book of Mormon is said to contain “the fulness of the everlasting gospel,” many key doctrines of the Mormon Gospel are completely missing from it. These are as follows:
- God having a body of flesh and bones
- God being married in heaven and producing spirit children to populate earth with a heavenly “wife”
- The pre-mortal life with Jesus and Lucifer being spirit-brothers
- Men becoming gods10.
- Celestial Marriage
- Baptism for the dead
- The Melchizedek and Aaronic Priesthood power essential for godhood11.
- Three degrees of glory after death: Telestial Kingdom, Terrestrial Kingdom, Celestial Kingdom
Given the fact that these essential doctrines of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are completely missing from the Book of Mormon, it is deceptive to imply that answered prayers for the Book of Mormon prove that the LDS Church is true. Likewise, since over 100 divergent groups of Mormonism hold the Book of Mormon as their foundational document, how can it be said that the Holy Ghost is confirming the truthfulness of all of these divergent churches when their adherents “pray about the Book of Mormon”? Obviously, the alleged truthfulness of the Book of Mormon does not prove the truthfulness of the LDS Church or any of the other splinter groups of Mormonism.
Furthermore, in addition to missing key doctrines of the LDS Church, the Book of Mormon outright contradicts several essential doctrines of the Church. Thus, if the Book of Mormon is indeed true, one must question the validity of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as the proper representative of Christ’s Gospel on earth. For a list of contradictions between the doctrines of the Mormon Church and those taught in the Book of Mormon see:
The challenge to “pray about the Book of Mormon” is often given so strongly that a Christian who refuses to “pray” about the book is accused of not believing in prayer or the power of the Holy Ghost to reveal truth. He also runs the risk being scorned and rejected as someone who a Mormon would not consider “worth his time” to talk to. So how should you respond when Mormons ask you to “pray about the Book of Mormon?” There are several ways you can handle this with integrity:
ASK THE MORMON:
- Since the Book of Mormon does not teach many of the unique doctrines of the LDS Church, how can a confirmation of its truthfulness prove the LDS Church is true? With over 100 splinter groups of Mormonism that all affirm the Book of Mormon as God’s Word, how can a prayer for the Book of Mormon determine which church I should join? They can’t all be right, can they?
- When I read James 1:5 about asking for “wisdom” in prayer, I think about the fact that “wisdom” is the application of knowledge. So, if I haven’t read the Book of Mormon yet, how can I ask God for “wisdom” about a book I don’t have sufficient knowledge about? Don’t you think I should read and study the Book of Mormon first so that I can apply the “wisdom” God gives me when I pray? Along these same lines, I noticed that your Scripture at Doctrine and Covenants 9:8 says:
“But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right.”
Since your Scripture says I must “study” the Book of Mormon out first in my “mind” before I “ask” if it is true, I decided not to pray about it yet, but to just study it for now. The other day, I ran across an interesting verse that I would like to get your opinion on. It is Moroni 10:32. Could you explain to me know I can “clear ALL ungodliness” out of my life as this verse says I must do before I can receive the “grace” of Christ for salvation?
- NOTE: Turning to a verse like Moroni 10:32 is a great way to shift the conversation to the essential topic of the Impossible Gospel of Mormonism that may give you a chance to share the true Gospel of Grace. For more on this topic see our earlier discussion under the “SHARE WHAT YOU HAVE TO OFFER” section of this article.
- As I was reading the Book of Mormon, I noticed a doctrine about the nature of God that I believe is true but it contracts the teachings of the LDS Church. For example, I read at Moroni 8:18:
“For I know that God is not a partial God, neither a changeable being; but he is unchangeable from all eternity to all eternity.”
This verse from the Book of Mormon also agrees with the Bible’s teachings about God’s eternal, unchangeable nature at Malachi 3:6 and Psalm 90:2. So, I believe this teaching in the Book of Mormon is true. Yet, Joseph Smith contradicted the Book of Mormon when he taught:
“We have imagined and supposed that God was God from all eternity. I will refute that idea …he was once a man like us…” —Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 345-346
Since the Mormon Church continues to affirm this false belief about God that contradicts this and other teachings from the Bible and the Book of Mormon, doesn’t this prove that the LDS Church can’t possibly be God’s true Church? After all, if I believe the Book of Mormon is true, would it not force me to reject these false teachings of the LDS Church and Joseph Smith?
- Would you pray about the Koran? What about the Satanic Bible by Antony LeVay? Or Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy? Would you pray about these books if you already know they are not true? Since we don’t have to pray about books that we already know are false, why should I pray about the Book of Mormon when God has already told me that it is “not true” (Moroni 10:4) because it calls Jesus a liar at 1 Nephi 13:26 when it claims that “plain and precious” words of Jesus were lost from the Bible (Matthew 24:35)?
FOR MORE INFORMATION SEE:
- ANSWERING MORMON OBJECTIONS
- I BEAR YOU MY TESTIMONY THAT THE LDS CHURCH IS NOT TRUE. – A REPLY TO A MORMON TESTIMONY
- WHAT MORMON.ORG DOES NOT TELL YOU ABOUT THE BOOK OF MORMON
- WHAT MORMON.ORG DOES NOT TELL YOU ABOUT HOW TO KNOW TRUTH
Have you ever wondered why it is that you can present a significant amount of evidence against the beliefs and historical claims of Mormonism only to discover your LDS friend turning a deaf ear to your facts? Have you ever wondered why Mormon “feelings” about an alleged “testimony” of the Book of Mormon override rational thoughts and concerns? The reason is because Mormons have a faulty concept of what true Christian “faith” is. Since they believe that “faith” must be without evidence, they feel that the lack of evidence for their beliefs actually confirms that they have true “faith.” So, while you can ask difficult questions against the claims of Mormonism and present irrefutable evidence in support of your own Christian beliefs, if you never confront their false concept of “faith,” they will shut down their thinking capacities and refuse to consider what you present, rationalizing their behavior with the idea that “proof” and “evidence” prevents true “faith.” So, how does a Christian overcome this critical barrier to true communication, we suggest you discuss the difference between Biblical “faith” and “presumption.”
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BIBLICAL FAITH AND PRESUMPTION:
Most people are familiar with the great definition of faith given in the Bible at Hebrews 11:1: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Yet, few understand the twisted way Mormons interpret this concept of faith. Mormons view the fact that “faith is …the evidence of things not seen” as a license to justify their trust in the Book of Mormon and other discrepancies within Mormonism that have failed the test of historical, archaeological, geographical, Biblical, and analytical studies. From a Biblical perspective, this type of “faith” in a fraudulent and unsubstantiated claim is nothing short of “presumption.”12. Yet, the Book of Mormon Prophet Alma justifies this faulty understanding of “faith” when he proclaims:
“Yea, there are many who do say: If thou wilt show unto us a sign from heaven, then we shall know of a surety; then we shall believe. Now I ask, is this faith? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for if a man knoweth a thing he hath no cause to believe, for he knoweth it. …And now as I said concerning faith—faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true. …exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words.” —Alma 32:17-18, 21, 27
If “knowledge” or proof of a belief disqualifies it from being “faith,” we must ask: “What is the difference between this definition of ‘faith’ and the definition of ‘presumption’?” The word to “presume” means, “to suppose to be true without proof,”13. while the Greek word for “faith” (πίστις- pistis) used at Hebrews 11:1 means: “firm persuasion… assurance, firm conviction… ground of belief, guarantee.”14. Can you see the difference between these two words? While the Biblical view of “faith” is “conviction” based upon a “ground of belief, guarantee” or “assurance,” the Mormon view of “faith” fits the definition of “presumption” in that it is an assumption of something that does not have “proof.” Thus, according to Deuteronomy 18:20, “presumption” should be avoided and the advice of 1 Thessalonians 5:21 heeded: “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.”
Since another word for “faith” is “trust,” faith is only as good as the object in whom it is placed. When we understand that true Biblical faith is a “conviction” based upon a “guarantee” of something that has been proved true and reliable in the past, we see immediately that “faith” at Hebrews 11:1 “is the substance of things hoped for,” based upon the “evidence” of the past that proves that the “things not seen” will indeed come to fruition. The key word in this passage of Hebrews 11:1 is “evidence.” It is “faith” (trust) in the past “evidence” of the faithfulness of God that allows a Christian to look forward to the future “things not seen” because God has proved dependable in the past.
This view of faith will be a new concept for your Mormon friends, but it is crucial that you explain these differences when they object to your views based upon their feelings and faith in Mormonism. By challenging them to explain to you the difference between faith and presumption, you will challenge their faulty presumptions so that your arguments based upon evidence will start to have an affect upon them.
ASK THE MORMON:
- What do you believe the difference is between faith and presumption? Since the Biblical definition of “faith” is trust that is based upon “evidence” of the past, guaranteeing future results, how can your “faith” in the Book of Mormon be valid since it hasn’t been “proved” by ANY substantial evidence—including historical, archeological, or geographical tests? Wouldn’t it be more accurate to call your “faith” in the Book of Mormon “presumption”? How do you think God views your “presumption” in a religion that fails His test of 1 Thessalonians 5:21?
We have discussed creative questions one can ask to overcome the foundational barriers that often inhibit effective dialogue between Christians and Mormons. Yet, none of these methods will be effective if they are not presented with love and grace. Just as the Apostle Paul explained at 1 Corinthians 13:1, no matter how many persuasive arguments and facts one may amass in support of his or her position, if the truth is not presented in love, one becomes nothing less than a clanging symbol to the Mormons listening. Ultimately, the Holy Spirit is the only One Who can open hearts and minds to receive God’s truth. If you are prepared, God may grant you the privilege of leading one of His lost sheep home.
If this occurs, be prepared to provide emotional support and an intimate environment where the Ex-Mormon can be coached to replace the false LDS views of God, Jesus Christ, and Salvation with the truth from God’s Word. Remember the Mormon leaving the LDS Church not only leaves behind a religious system of activity, but also many friends and family members who will never comprehend their choice to leave their “testimony” of Mormonism behind. Without sufficient help from loving Christians, many disillusioned Ex-Mormons often end up joining other legalistic religions that claim to be “the only true Church,” or they become atheists and agnostics, living life with no view of God or eternity. But with proper resources, the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and the loving support of committed Christians who understand the process, many are coming to find true freedom in Christ.
Because the Mormon Church demands so much activity from its members, Ex-Mormons often feel lost, confused, tired and hopeless. They need time to rest, heal, and process what they’ve been through. Do not expect them to attend religious services with you right away. It may take months and even years before they are ready for another “spiritual” experience. Go easy when it comes to this area of Christian living and keep in mind that the goal is not to get them to join your church but to help them come into a personal relationship with the real Jesus Christ of the Bible. For more information on the many resources we have available to support former Mormons, please visit our website.
FOR MORE INFORMATION ON WITNESSING TO MORMONS SEE:
- QUESTIONS TO ASK MORMON MISSIONARIES –-A Step-by-Step Guide for Christians Witnessing to Mormons at the Door
1. Unless otherwise noted, the following Biblical Scripture references are quoted from the New American Standard Bible.
2. See Gospel Principles, 1995ed, p. 253
3. This Scripture is quoted form the King James Bible Version. All remaining Biblical Scriptures quoted in this document from this point on are quoted from the King James Bible Version.
4. See The Miracle of Forgiveness, by former LDS Apostle and 12th Prophet Spencer W. Kimball’s, pp. 163-165, 176, 354-355
5. See Gospel Principles, pp. 49-50
6. Joseph Smith quoted in David Whitmer’s book, An Address to All Believers in Christ, 1887, p. 31
7. Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, Greek Dictionary of the New Testament #652, p. 15
8. 1 Nephi 13:28; See also 1 Nephi 13:24-26, 29, 32, 34
9. See the reference to New Testament scholar and Princeton professor Bruce Metzger mentioned in I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist, 2004, by Norman L. Geisler and Frank Turek p. 229
10. The Book of Mormon mentions the doctrine of “men becoming as Gods” at Alma 12:31 as a reference to Genesis 3:5’s account of Adam and Eve eating the forbidden fruit, “knowing good and evil,” but nowhere is this belief expounded upon as a doctrine of “exaltation” in which men become “Gods” by gaining an eternal increase through celestial progeny.
11. Although the Book of Mormon mentions the priesthood of Melchizedek (Alma 13:14, 18), it nowhere implies that this priesthood is to be held by worthy males in an attempt to be exalted into Celestial glory.
12. See Deuteronomy 18:22
13. The Merriam-Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, 1990, p. 932
14. The New Analytical Greek Lexicon, by Wesley J. Perschbacher, (Hendrickson Publishers, MA 1990), p. 329
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