Mormons: Who They Are, What They Believe (Session 3 – Are Mormons Christian?)

It’s really a rite of passage in Mormonism
for young men to serve two-year missions for the Mormon Church. It’s kind of your growing-up time into manhood. It’s expected. If you can imagine this, it’s customary in
Utah Territory for the postman to let the family know that the mission call is here. And the phone rang and I jumped out of bed,
ran to the phone, answered it, and it was the local post office, and they said, “Elder
Wilder, we’ve got a letter for you.” And I was so excited, so my mom and I jumped
in the car and we went down to the local post office, picked it up, came home, and this
is 6:30 in the morning, and we sat there on the couch, and I remember holding that letter
in my hands and just feeling special. The Mormon prophet supposedly prays to decide
where your kids go on their missions. Micah was actually supposed to go to Mexico
City. His lung collapsed in the missionary training
center and God sent him to the middle of Evangelical Christian country: Florida. We lived very dedicated lives as Mormon missionaries. We would get up at 6:30 in the morning and
we would do studies for about three hours and then between 9 and 10, we’d go out, and
for 11 or 12 hours, until nine o’clock at night, we would proselytize. We would share the Mormon gospel and we would
knock on doors and we would ride bicycles and we would talk to people on the streets. And the reason why we did this seven days
a week, 365 days a year was because we truly believed that we had the message of the gospel
and that what we were bringing them was going to bring them eternal life. And so, I had that testimony in my heart and
I wanted other people to have what I believed that I had. It was pretty difficult. I would say the majority of the time, people
didn’t want to have anything to do with us. A lot of the time, the response was for people
to tell us we were going to hell or to slam the door in our faces, and a lot of these
people were people that claimed to be Christians. And it was really difficult. It was very disheartening at first, but eventually
we got used to it and did the best that we could. People would often ask us, “well, are you
guys Christians?” And I was always very confused as to why they
would ask us that because in our mind, we were the only true Christians. We believed that we were the one and only
true Church on the face of the Earth, and we would point right to our name tags that
says, “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints,” and we’d say, “Jesus Christ is
the center of the name of our Church. We of course are Christians. We love Jesus, we believe that Jesus has saved
us, we believe that we’re saved by grace, and we baptize in the name of the Father,
and the Son, and the Holy Ghost,” and I would always wonder why are people asking us if
we’re Christians when we are, in fact, the only true Christians who live the way that
the Bible tells us to live. Mormons believe that they’re Christian, but
they are not Christian. Their theology is definitely not Biblical
and their understanding of who God is is not Biblical. The essence of Christianity is, of course, best
expressed in the Creed itself. We believe in the Trinity. We believe in the deity of Christ. We believe in the atonement in the cross,
the fact that salvation is achieved for us by God Himself in Christ, and by faith in
Him, we have salvation. Those are the basic tenants of Christianity. Now in Mormonism, we have maybe some of the
same phrases, but we do not have the same meaning. The Mormon idea of God is very different from
what Christians believe. They believe that Heavenly Father is an exalted
man. That He once was a human being and has progressed
and become exalted. And along with Heavenly Father, there is a
Heavenly Mother, who have spirit children, and that all of us are also spirit children
of Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother. The Heavenly Mother is probably, according
to Mormon doctrine, the first wife of Elohim, God, our Heavenly Father, and that He has
multiple wives because the Mormons believe in polygamy. And there’s no way that all these billions
of spirit babies could have been born through one Heavenly Mother. So, we know that God is a polygamist, but
Heavenly Mother receives the reverence of being identified because she’s the first wife. And we lived in this preexistence with Heavenly
Father and Heavenly Mother, learning and progressing, growing, until it was our time to come to
Earth as a person. Mormons teach that Lucifer, the son of the
morning, and Jesus Christ, are brothers. That Jesus is the first-born spirit child
of God the Father and the primary Heavenly Mother, and that Lucifer is the second. We were spirit children in heaven, we saw
God had a body, we wanted to be like Him, so He said, “okay, let me create a world for
you so you can go down and suffer and learn to choose right and wrong.” There was a large war in heaven between Jesus
and Lucifer over a plan of salvation. I was taught that Jesus’ plan was that he
should come to Earth so that He would be an example for us. That He would teach and that He would sacrifice
Himself so we could become resurrected. Lucifer’s idea was that he would force everyone
to become followers of God. And the problem with that was it took away
the free agency of man. In other words, the Mormon believe that all
people have the ability to make the right choice, to choose for themselves. And the council of the gods chose the plan
of Jesus. And thus, the story of evolves that Jesus
came down, born of the Virgin Mary, died on the cross, defeated Lucifer, and that’s kind
of how it all worked out. In the beginning, when Heavenly Father put
Adam and Eve on the Earth, He gave them two basic commandments. The first one was to multiply and replenish
the Earth. The second one was to not eat of the tree
of the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil. But Eve understood that you could not do both
things. That Adam and Eve were like children in the
garden. They were naive and they also were not able
to bear children. Mormons teach that had Adam and Eve not disobeyed
God, ate of the fruit of tree of knowledge of good and evil, that no other children would
have been born, and mankind, the spirit children would have never had the opportunity to come
to Earth, be born, and work out their salvation so they could become gods and goddesses on
their own planets. So they consider Eve’s choice to take the
fruit and become mortal as a good act. It was a good thing. So they speak in terms of Adam’s fall as a
fall upward, and it’s imaged, in a sense, of falling up a stairwell. That they’re climbing towards a higher position,
but stumbling on the way, but the stumble was necessary as a part of the journey. When Satan told them that they would become
like God, they could become like God if they ate of the fruit, they took that as meaning
they could then have children, they would know good and evil, they would be able to
make choices in their free agency, and that they would be able to progress. So it was an important step for them in their
pathway because they wanted to become like God. Mormons use the same words that we use. They baptize in the name of the Father, the
Son, and the Holy Spirit, but they have a totally different concept of baptism. In the Mormon Church, children are baptized
by immersion when they’re eight years old. When I was baptized, we understood that I
was being forgiven for the sins that I had committed in the past. It does not remove original sin, and it doesn’t
take care of any future sins they will commit. The dichotomy of that whole thing is this:
an eight year old child has not reached the age of accountability according to Mormon
doctrine, so baptizing an eight year old child for the forgiveness of sins is an oxymoron
because they, up to that point, haven’t really committed sins. Because being sinful in the Mormon Church
means that you have knowledge and that your accountable for those transgressions. Like a three year old child steals a cookie
out of the cookie jar, okay. He was told not to do it, he steals it, that’s
stealing, but he’s not accountable because he’s not eight years old and he really can’t
differentiate right and wrong. Now and adult who joins the Mormon Church
and is baptized, yes, baptism at that point, according to Mormon doctrine, washes them
of their sins prior to their baptism. And should, however, they sin again, of the
same kind of sins, we all sin the same kind of sins, then those sins return to them. It’s pretty egregious. The atonement of Jesus Christ, according to
Mormon doctrine, is a complete perversion of the Biblical concept of atonement. You will not find a cross on any Mormon. You will not find a cross on any Mormon building,
in any Mormon Church ward, in any Mormon temple, because Mormons believe that Jesus accomplished
the atonement in the Garden of Gethsemane. When He went there to pray and He said, “Father,
remove this cup from Me, but not My will, but Thine be done,” and sweated great drops
of blood. When He sweat the great drops of blood and
prayed for the sins of all mankind in the Garden, that’s where the atonement was accomplished. Also, there are certain sins that we commit
that are exempt from His atonement, and that brought in what they call the “doctrine of
blood atonement.” Blood atonement concerns itself with murder
and multiple adultery. These were considered to be sins that were
so grievous that they fell outside of Jesus’ atonement, necessitating the person shedding
his own blood to atone for those crimes. And that is why Utah is, or was up until recently,
one of the few states in the Union that still offered the firing squad, because by being
shot, your blood is being shed. Mormonism has redefined the major words of
Christianity and that becomes confusing when people talk to them. So, when they speak of being saved, they mean
that one will go to heaven, but that’s not the same as having eternal life. A Mormon might say to you that he believes
in grace, but he’s seeing that as the downpayment on his eternal life, so that Jesus’ atonement becomes only part of the equation of what gets you back to Heavenly Father. It’s Jesus Christ plus Mormon Church membership,
Mormon priesthood, Mormon temple ritual in order to have eternal life. So when they speak in the Book of Mormon about
being saved by grace after all we can do, they’re meaning that grace is only a part
of our eternal life, and so it’s like one-fifth of the equation and the other four-fifths
are our own efforts, our own participation in Mormon rites. And as a missionary, we would tell the potential
converts, those that we were proselyting, that the Christian concept of grace is flawed. That you can’t just confess Jesus with your
lips and be saved. You have to have works to prove your love
and your adoration for God and Jesus Christ and the salvation that was extended to you
through Jesus Christ’s atonement. Christians believe that God’s grace is without
any preliminaries, that God, even before the foundation of the world, willed that we people
could be saved by faith in His Son Jesus Christ, whom He would send. No activity on our part is necessary. No preliminary getting ready for God’s grace
is necessary either. It’s God’s full, free, and final gift from
beginning to end. The Mormon version of grace is we are saved
by grace through faith after all we can do, putting it on us. If you ask a Mormon, if he were to die that
day, does he know where he’s going to go, he would tell you, “no,” he doesn’t know because
he isn’t sure whether he is worthy enough. How does one become worthy? It’s by going through all of the different
rituals. It’s by following the word of wisdom. It’s by doing the family home evening. It’s by going through the endowment. It’s by getting the dual priesthoods. It’s by getting sealed with your family. It’s by working with the baptism of the dead,
celestial marriage. You must work out your salvation in the Mormon
Church. There are three heavens in Mormon theology. The celestial kingdom where the good Mormons
go. The terrestrial kingdom is the second kingdom. It is where all the good people who were not
Mormons, who did not believe in the Mormon doctrine, will go. The lowest kingdom is where all the murderers,
adulterers, thieves, and the bad people on Earth will go. According to Joseph Smith, he taught that
if we could just glimpse the glory of the telestial kingdom, which is where the really
evil people will be stuck, he said you would kill yourself to get there. That’s how fanciful his thinking was. The outer darkness, or what we would consider
hell, is reserved for Lucifer and his angels and for apostates, those who understood and
accepted the LDS Church, but then have fallen away. And as an apostate being cast into outer darkness,
the sole criteria for that is this: not a rejection of Jesus Christ, but a rejection
of Joseph Smith, and the Book of Mormon, and the Mormon Church. Because I love Jesus Christ, but according
to Mormons, I’m going to outer darkness with the devil and his angels. It’s extremely difficult to know that you’re
responsible for your own salvation. You’re always filled with guilt and with shame. You’re always questioning whether or not you’ve
done enough or what you’ve done is the right thing. You’re always busy. You don’t know if you’ve ever been forgiven. The responsibility of saving yourself is overwhelming
because as a Mormon male you’re not just responsible for yourself, because of your priesthood,
and the vast majority who strive to get married in the Mormon temple and have eternal covenants
with their wife and try to raise a family, and have an eternal family, it blisters your
brain. I think it’s somewhat soul-destroying.

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