So, with a name like ‘The Church of Jesus Christ of Later-Day Saints’, how is it possible that politicians would attack Mormonism as not being a Christian religion?
Why do mainstream religions view Mormonism as a cult?
Let’s start by looking at when Mormonism got its start.
Mormonism was founded by Joseph Smith, who was born in Vermont in 1805. Smith grew up in a Presbyterian home.
In 1820, at the age of 14, he claimed to have a vision in which God the Father and God the Son spoke to him and told him that he would grow up to found the only true church of Jesus Christ.
Three years later at the age of 17, he had another vision in which an angel named Moroni, son of Mormon (apparently a prophet who lived in what is now the U.S. back in the days of the Old Testament writings), told Smith about engraved golden plates that were buried and when found, would reveal what he said to be true.
Smith claimed to have dug up and interpreted the plates which, he said, told of the Israelites who came to the New World 600 years before the birth of Christ. The plates also revealed that Jesus appeared to this remnant tribe after his resurrection.
It is interesting to note that Smith attempted to run for President of the US, but his teachings and practices so angered mainstream Americans, who also accused him of bigamy, that they stormed the jail where Smith and his brother had been arrested for attempting to destroy a printing press that had written negatively about them, and killed both of them.
Now we have another Mormon running for president in the form of Mitt Romney and many wonder if he is deluded for following the teachings of Smith, or whether freedom of religion means that anyone, Christian, non-Christian or different version of Christian should be allowed to run the country.
Basically, if you are a Mormon, then you think anyone claiming to be a Christian, who does not follow your beliefs, is not a true Christian. If you are a ‘true’ mainstream Christian, you believe that Mormons are following a false belief.
So which one is right or are they both delusional?
First of all, the true Christ, which both groups worship, never mentioned anything about a remnant band of Israelites in the new world. Christ frequently quoted from the Torah and made references to it, so we can deduce by his words that he believed everything the Old Testament said to be true.
So, if Mormonism is out of sync with either the Old or the New Testament, it is subject to falsehood. It earns its cult label because it follows the teachings of a human who claims to have knowledge that is outside of Biblical knowledge.
To put things in perspective, this also would make Islam a cult as well. The word cult, simply means worship or a person or idea, rather than of a God. Jews might very well view Christians as a cult for “worshipping” Jesus.
That said, Mormonism has some oddities about it that are really hard to buy into, no matter what your religious belief or lack thereof.
Joseph Smith actually had something in common with modern day Scientologists in that he believed that men could become gods. This belief has been around long before Smith and Hubbard, founder of Scientology and is part of a belief known as Gnosticism, where only certain people, usually men not women by the way, were capable of knowing the secrets of life after death and that by knowing these secrets, these men would become like God himself.
Anyone who was raised in the traditional Christian church should feel the hair rising on the back of their necks a little bit at this statement as it is the very statement that Satan used to convince Eve to partake of the forbidden fruit and know all the secrets that God was hiding from her and Adam.
Satan convinced them that they could become like God and that God was afraid that if they grew in knowledge they would become more powerful than him, so this is why he forbade them to eat of the “tree of knowledge”.
Much of Paul’s letters to the early Christian churches warns against following Gnostic beliefs and Jewish Kabala is also a form of Gnosticism.
Okay, so strike one against Mormonism and Scientology.
There is some argument over whether Mormons truly believe that Christ and Satan are brothers, born out of a physical union between God and his wife, but this is also fairly spot on for Gnostic beliefs as well.
Christians and Jews do not believe that God needed to have sex to create beings, nor do they believe that we will have sex once we get to heaven, though the Bible does make reference of heavenly beings, we assume angels, coming down to have sex with females on earth, so it is possible, but we won’t go there for now.
Mormons do believe in the same Bible as mainstream Christians do, they just interpret it differently and they do not believe in the trinity, though they do believe in the Father and Son and do believe the Holy Spirit is an entity with limited ability to be at two places at the same time. Again, there is some evidence to support this as Christ said the Holy Spirit could not come to earth until he rose up to heaven.
Mormons also believe that Salvation comes through Jesus Christ and that we will be born again after death. Odd enough concepts for the non-religious to believe and confusing even to early Jews.
Mormons also believe that Jesus died to save us from our sins, but they take things a step further, again, treading on the Gnostic belief, which existed at the time of Smith, that men, by doing good deeds on earth, could become gods themselves after death.
The really weird stuff comes in the afterlife. Mormons believe in three levels of reward in heaven.
The first is for Mormons only (again another sign of a cult – and something Christians have been accused of as well stating that only those who believe in Jesus Christ will get into heaven), only Christians do not say, “if you are not a member of our church you cannot get into heaven.” That is the main difference. You can believe in Christ and be of any religion, Mormonism included (they do believe Christ is the Son of God and died to save their sins), and still get into heaven.
The second level of heaven is reserved for Gentiles and imperfect Mormons (this may also include unmarried Mormons as the first level is said to be reserved for married couples who will continue to reproduce spirit children, and apparently the more children you produce the more chance you might get to rule over your own planet… again a belief shared by many Gnostics and Scientologists).
The third level is for unbelievers who refused to believe in Christ and lived in disobedience to God. This level is supposedly still a step above the Biblical version of eternal torment in hell.
Like many cult religions, having sex and producing children is of high importance on earth and in heaven and the woman usually gets the short end of the stick… no pun intended.
So, bottom line, many of the beliefs of Mormons are the same beliefs of Gnostics and Scientologists, only Mormons do believe in Christ as Savior which makes them Christians.
If you are a mainstream Christian and claim Mormons are not Christians, then you are do not understand what Mormons preach.
Having said that, there is no archeological evidence that Smith actually uncovered any plates or that Jewish cultures lived in the new world long before the Europeans began exploring.
Mormons do focus a bit more on good works as a means to get into heaven, hoping to get in the higher end of heaven, rather than the lower end, which is sort of the same trap the apostles James and John fell into when they asked who would get to sit on the right hand of Jesus in heaven and rule with him.
Jesus told both that he could not decide this and that the little child had a greater chance of getting into heaven than the grown man, meaning that if you do what you should do because you love to do it, rather than because you expect a reward, you are doing the right thing for the right reasons.
Jesus also talks about the first being last and the last being first, which is sort of his way of saying, if you think you are all that and then some, you may be sadly deluded as to your grand importance. Those who serve are generally held in lower esteem than those who rule on earth, but it will be the other way around in heaven. Attitude plays a big part in it! The willing servant who expects no reward is revered over those who expect to be raised above others based on their good works.
Mormons also believe in a form of hell though they themselves do not seem to be united on what it might be, with some saying it is the third, telestial level, some saying it is a dark boundary outside of the third level and others saying it is a self imposed spiritual prison which you may or may not be able to escape to a higher level over time. Many mainstream Christians have problems with hell as well and Catholics also believe in levels of heaven and to be honest, the Bible is not overly clear on this anyway.
So there is a strong difference of doctrine and interpretation and belief among many mainstream religions, but Mormonism also questions who and what God, Satan and Christ really are and what man’s goal or purpose should be.
As for the multiple wives thing, Smith was said to have over 20 wives and Brigham Young, his successor was said to have had 53 wives and fathered 47 children, so while the Old Testament may not condemn this kind of behavior, the New Testament definitely does not support it, nor do most modern day Mormons.
Both Smith and Young have questionable backgrounds and there is little support that anything Smith saw in his visions was accurate and true. The religion also places women in the roll of child bearer and does little to suggest they are equal to men on earth or in heaven, though many fundamental mainstream churches teach the same thing.
So, if you are a far right Republican Christian should you vote a Mormon into office?
That is ultimately up to you and your conscience, but it would be wrong to say that Mormons do not believe in Christ.
Mormons worship the same God we do, they just see him as more human in nature. Christians believe totally in grace, not works to get them into heaven. Mormons believe in both. Jews believe more in works, but also believe in God’s mercy.
Mormons are not that much different than any other religion. There are differences of beliefs among practicing individuals of the same church.
It would be wise though to remember that many of the Gnostic teachings, which influenced Mormonism are the same teachings the devil used to deceive humans into thinking they were equal to God and if they gained knowledge through mystic means, they could become like God.
Mainstream beliefs teach that this is not a good way to think and that it is better to be humble and serve God rather than to strive to be equal to God. Something even non-God believing people would be wise to follow.
As for who you vote for, that is ultimately left up to you, but making false statements about other religions based on misinformed beliefs is something we all need to guard against. The United States was formed to protect the religious freedoms of all people, even if we do not agree with them.