Category Archives: Theology

Is it possible for a Christian to lose salvation?

Eternal Security for True Christians

The answer to this question has been debated for centuries, and there are reputable, well-meaning advocates on either side of this argument. This argument has probably received the most attention from those who advocate the views of Arminian Theology. Organizations such as the Nazarene Church, the Wesleyan Church, and the Christian Holiness Association all teach that one can lose his or her salvation. This question is also called the OSAS argument, or the “Once Saved, Always Saved” argument, as well the doctrine of “The Perseverance of the Saints”. While there are advocates on each side of the fence, the Bible makes it quite clear that those who are truly followers of Jesus Christ cannot lose their salvation. Let’s look at a few arguments to support our claim.

First, one must understand the Bible teaches that God loves His children unconditionally. In Luke 15:11-27 we read the Parable of the Lost Son. This parable, told by Jesus, provides vivid imagery of a father’s unconditional love for his son in the face of complete apostasy. The father is seen waiting with open arms for the son to return. This parable demonstrates clearly the unconditional love, grace, and mercy that God has for His children.

Second, Romans 8:35-39 makes it very clear that nothing and no one can separate a person from the love of God. This means that not even a believer can separate himself or herself from the love of God. Paul said, “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing will have the power to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord!” (Romans 8:38-39). This is powerful evidence that heavenly beings, worldly beings, our present sins, sins we might commit in the future, or anything else created by God has the authority to separate us from the love of God that we have through Christ Jesus.

Thirdly, In Ephesians 1:3-5, we read and know that, “according to the kindness of His will, He (God) predestined us to adoption as the sons (and daughters) through Jesus Christ to Himself.” God has made us full-fledged children by formally adopting us into His spiritual family. In adoption a child is brought into a family and given the same rights as a child born into that family. God did this through Jesus, and it pleased Him. One should note that there is no such word as “un-adopted”. Neither the term nor the idea exists today. One cannot be “un-adopted” from a family. Therefore, we can say confidently that a Christian cannot be un-adopted from the family of God!

Fourthly, one of the clearest passages that teach us one cannot lose their salvation is found in John Chapter 10. Here Jesus says, “And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them to me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand” (John 10:28–29). This verse is self-explanatory. Jesus simply says that His children are given to Him by His Father, and no one, not even the Christian himself, can take a believer out of the hands of Jesus.

Finally, looking at the issue logically, there are many wrong aspects to the idea that one can lose one’s salvation. First, God is sovereign. No one can dispute that. To say that one can lose their salvation is to say that that person can thwart the will of the Almighty Creator of the universe, which is simply impossible. Secondly, the Bible never teaches that one can lose their salvation. While there are several passages, when read out of context, that might seem to give this impression, there is a preponderance of evidence in favor of the view that one can never lose his or her salvation. Thirdly, reading the Bible systematically gives us a good understanding of God’s commitment to our salvation. Over and over, God gave Israel forbearance from judgment when He should have judged them for their sin. This shows that God is committed to His faithful covenant partners (Jeremiah 31:31-40). It simply doesn’t make sense that God would give His very best, His own Son, to accomplish salvation for His people, and then allow His accomplishments to be thwarted or set aside.

As we conclude, we must answer the question as to who God’s children really are. Resolving this matter may help answer the question regarding whether a person can lose their salvation. A Christian isn’t merely a church member, a member of a Bible study group, or a person who has said the right prayer at an evangelism rally. A Christian is a person who has, through faith (Ephesian 2:8-9), accepted Christ as their Savior and made Him Lord over their life. A Christian is someone who realizes that they are a sinner (Romans 3:23), who realizes that they are hopelessly dead in sin without Christ (Romans 6:23), and who believes that the atoning work of Christ on the cross is the only hope they have of salvation (John 14:6). Those who are truly His children will exhibit a new character (2 Corinthians 5:17) and will abhor sin and unrighteousness, just as the Bible says, “The Lord knows those who are His, and everyone who names the name of the Lord must turn away from unrighteousness. (2 Timothy 2:19, HCSB).

Therefore, we must conclude that salvation by faith alone cannot be reconciled with the belief that one can lose his or her salvation. The idea that one can lose his or her salvation simply doesn’t measure up to the clear teachings of the Bible, nor does it make sense logically. Christians have no part in their salvation, thus cannot commit acts that forfeit their salvation. They did not accomplish their salvation, nor can they cause the loss of it. Christians serve a faithful God who is committed to their salvation, even when they might not be (2 Timothy 2:13, HCSB).

Key Search Words: Can I lose my salvation? Once Saved, Always Saved, OSAS, Arminian Theology, Apostasy.

GotQuestions.org article one.

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A Comparison of the Schleitheim and Mennonite Dordrecht Confessions

Schleitheim Confession, title page, ca. 1560. Scan courtesy Mennonite Church USA Archives

Introduction

Christian confessions of faith say much about the people who write them. Confessions help determine how the Bible has shaped a person or a group of people, and tell how those people interpret the Word of God. Confessions also help a group of people take a stand against false teachers and heretics who attempt to defile the Word of God. Additionally, confessions serve as a source of inspiration for both the people to whom the confession was written, and also, in many cases, people in generations to come. Two important confessions that have stood as interpretive models of God’s Word, attacks against heretics, and sources of inspiration to God’s people are the Schleitheim Confession and the Mennonite Dordrecht Confession.

Theology and History of the Confessions

The Schleitheim Confession, also known as the Seven Articles of Schleitheim [1] and the Brotherly Agreement of Some Children of God, [2] was written by Michael Sattler, a former Benedictine Monk, of Stauffen in Germany. Sattler wrote the confession as a public statement of the doctrines held by the Swiss Brethren Anabaptists. It was written in 1527 in the face of biblical interpretive error and persecution. It was adopted by the Swiss Brethren Conference on February 24, 1527, immediately after its drafting.

The Schleitheim Confession was not meant to be a full systematic theology, but was intended rather as a foundation of truth at a time when heresy and persecution were rampant.  Sattler sought to both comfort the distraught victims of persecution in his fold and to explain the specific convictions that set these victims of persecution apart from both the Catholics and the Protestants alike. The Schleitheim confession is important to Christian history as it is the first theological confession to be written after the Reformation, and is one of the most fundamental sources concerning the teachings of the Anabaptists directly after their formation in 1525 [3].

The Mennonite Dordrecht Confession of Faith, known also as simply the Dordrecht Confession of faith, was written by Adrian Cornelius, elder of the Flemish Mennonite congregation in the Dutch city of Dordrecht [4].  It was adopted on April 21, 1632, and expounds on all of the teachings of the Schleitheim Confession, while addressing new doctrines and practices not previously mentioned in the previous confession. Although it was written 105 years after the Schleitheim Confession, its significance and influence cannot be overstated. The value of the text of the Mennonite Dordrecht Confession can be seen today, as it has been adopted in its entirety by many present-day Mennonite churches across the world.

The Mennonite Dordrecht Confession of 1632 represents the mature development of Anabaptist thought and is therefore valued by present-day Mennonites and other Christians alike. It is not only a more comprehensive statement of faith than the Schleitheim Confession; it also addresses the distinct order and practices of the Mennonite Church [5]

The language of the Dordrecht Confession is simple and direct, not literary or philosophical in character; it abounds in Scriptural quotations, and follows the general emphases of evangelical Protestant thought except that it teaches the baptism of believers only, the washing of the saints’ feet, earnest church discipline, the shunning of the excommunicated, the nonswearing of oaths, marriage within the same church, strict nonresistance, and in general places more emphasis on true Christianity involving being Christian and obeying Christ rather than merely holding to a correct system of doctrine [6].

Both the Schleitheim and Dordrecht Confessions address the doctrines or issues of baptism, the ban, the Lord’s Supper, separation, Pastor’s in the church, taking up the sword, and the swearing of oaths. The Dordrecht Confession addresses each of these doctrines or issues in greater specificity, giving scriptural references to support each teaching or issue. The Dordrecht Confession also addresses other issues and doctrines not addressed in the Schleitheim confession, such as God as Creator of the universe, the fall of man, the promise of Christ that makes restoration possible, the purpose of the coming of Christ, the sealing of the law of Christ (the New Testament), the necessity of repentance in one’s life, the visible, holy church as one church, an expansion from discussion of pastors to a discussion of all church offices, feet washing, marriage, secular authority, shunning of the separated, and the resurrection of the dead.

Comparison

The Mennonite Dordrecht Confession (MDC) starts out in section I with a decree that there is only one eternal God, and that this one, eternal God is the creator of all things. God is the creator of all things visible and invisible, and He created mankind just as the Bible says He did in Genesis Chapter one. The Schleitheim Confession does not address the doctrine of God as the supreme creator of the universe, although the stand Sattler and his followers took for God and Christ made it apparent that they felt this way toward God. Sattler wrote on the run, and therefore wrote only of issues that his followers disagreed with the Catholics and Protestants on.

Section II of the Mennonite Dordrecht Confession addresses the fall of man, and the state that men subsequently find themselves in as a result of the fall. It plainly lays out the fact that all men have sinned, which is the clear teaching of Scripture found in Romans 3:23. Because of the sin of mankind, men are eternally separated from God, and thus in need of reconciliation.

Section III of the MDC addresses the reconciliation men need and the immaculate Lamb who would accomplish this reconciliation. Christ had been foreordained from the foundation of the earth to accomplish our reconciliation, as can be seen in First Peter 1:20. According to the Mennonite Dordrecht Confession, He was foreordained to “raise the fallen race of man from their sin, guilt, and unrighteousness.”

Section IV of the Mennonite Dordrecht Confession speaks of the coming of Christ, and the purpose of His manifestation. Jesus is the precious promised Messiah, Redeemer, and Savior of the Old Testament. He became a man, was crucified, died, was buried, and rose on the third day. He is the Promised Messiah for all who would believe, as He tasted “death and shed His precious blood for all men”.

Section V concerns the New Testament, and speaks of it as an eternal Testament that was confirmed and sealed with His precious blood. No one is to take away from or add to the Law of Christ – most likely a reference to the Catholic Church’s emphasis on tradition over the Word of God. At the end of this section, the children of God are called “lawful heirs”, and therefore no one is excluded from salvation except the unbelieving, disobedient, stiff-necked, and obdurate.

Section VI calls all the unrighteous, wicked sinners to follow the first lesson of the Gospels – repentance. Those who claim to be children of God must bring forth fruits of repentance, reform their lives, and desist from unrighteous behavior. True believers are to be born again from above and are to partake of the mind, nature, and image of Christ, as seen in Mark 1:15 and Ephesians 4:22.

Section VII, Of Holy Baptism, marks the first section in the Mennonite Dordrecht Confession with a parallel section in the Schleitheim Confession. Baptism, the primary issue of disagreement between the Anabaptists and the Protestants and Catholics, is addressed in the Mennonite Dordrecht Confession and the Schleitheim Confession in detail. Both proclaim that baptism is for penitent believers who wish to be buried with Christ in death and likewise resurrected with Him. The Schleitheim Confession makes a specific proclamation concerning who baptism is not for: “This excludes infant baptism, the highest and chief abomination of the Pope.”

Section VIII defines the church as a visible church of baptized believers. The believers must be “rightly baptized”. Those who are a part of the church are a chosen generation and a royal priesthood. The church was bought with the supreme sacrifice and no tempest or floods shall prevail against them.

Section IX speaks of the importance of church offices in the church. Jesus, before leaving the earth, supplied the church with faithful ministers, apostles, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. These faithful servants were chosen by Him through prayer and supplication that they might care for the flock. The Mennonite Dordrecht Confession gives specific duties of these servants, with an apparent emphasis on the elder, as opposed to an emphasis on the Pastor in the Schleitheim Confession (Section V in the Schleitheim Confession). Additionally, the Mennonite Dordrecht Confession addresses the office of deacon, whereas the Schleitheim Confession does not.

Section X of the Mennonite Dordrecht Confession and Section III of the Schleitheim Confession address the Lord’s Supper. Both specifically address the Lord’s Supper as a memorial to Christ, thus attacking the Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation. The Schleitheim Confession gives prequalifications to those wishing to partake in the Lord’s Supper, namely salvation and baptism, whereas the Mennonite Dordrecht Confession does not address these prequalifications.

Section XI of the Mennonite Dordrecht Confession addresses the practice of feet washing. The emphasis on feet washing is humility. The practice is also to serve as a reminder that the believer has been washed through the precious blood of Christ.

Section XII addresses marriage. It encourages believers to consider marriage an honorable and holy event. It emphasizes both the individual believer’s freedom to marry, which includes the Pastor or Bishop (First Corinthians 9:5), but also the necessity of marrying within the church of believers. Members should marry people only of like communion, faith, doctrine, and practice.

Section XIII addresses the office of secular authority. Civil authority is spoken of as “ministers of God” because they punish evil, protect the good, and maintain countries and cities. The civil government should be respected and not reviled or resisted. The church is advised to pray for those in civil government, so that they may dwell under its protection.

In section XIV of the Mennonite Dordrecht Confession and Section VI of the Schleitheim Confession revenge and the sword are addressed. The sword is said to be “outside the perfection of Christ”.  The Schleitheim Confession gives a discussion of the sword, giving an original purpose for the sword as punishment for the wicked and protection from evil. Both confessions call for laying down the sword and praying for enemies, as Christ had forbidden His disciples from picking up the sword against their enemies.

Both section XV of the Mennonite Dordrecht Confession and section VII of the Schleitheim Confession address the swearing of oaths. The Schleitheim Confession defines what swearing an oath means, and gives specific instructions on Christian procedures to avoid swearing of oaths. The Mennonite Dordrecht Confession gives only the admonition not to swear, advising Christians to just say “yes” or “no”.

Section XVI and XVII concern a ban and subsequent shunning of those who fall into grievous sin and refuse to repent of the sin. Those who forfeit the kingdom of God are to be purged out as leaven, not as punishment, but as protection for the other believers and as a method of restoration for the fallen member. If a member continues in unrepentant sin after two private warnings, the congregation should exclude (separate from) that person and shun them. Separation is addressed in the Schleitheim Confession, but shunning is not.

Section XVIII of the Mennonite Dordrecht Confession addresses the resurrection of the dead, according to First Thessalonians 4:13. Believers are promised the hope of resurrection through “the incomprehensible power of God”. This teaching is not addressed in the Schleitheim Confession.

Conclusion

The Mennonite Dordrecht Confession and the Schleitheim Confession were written by godly men who desired to contest the teaching of men that differed with the teaching of Christ. The Dordrecht confession was written over 100 years after the Schleitheim Confession, contains many more direct scripture references, and is much more descriptive, both in practice and theology. The Schleitheim Confession was written on the run, and was written to address specific doctrinal heresies that needed to be condemned. Both confessions served, however, to separate the Anabaptists of their time from the Catholics and the Protestants, and their false teachings.

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Key Search Words: History of Baptists, Liberty University CHHI 694, Baptist Confessions, The Mennonite Dordrecht Confession, The Schleitheim Confession

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ENDNOTES

1        George Thomas Kurian, Nelson’s New Christian Dictionary: The Authoritative Resource on the Christian World (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2001), 398.
2        “Glimpses of Christian History: Swiss Anabaptists Drew up a Seven-Point Confession,” Christianity Today, http://chi.gospelcom.net/DAILYF/2002/02/daily-02-24-2002.shtml (accessed 18 October 2008).
3        January 5, 1525, is the date that Anabaptists Conrad Grabel and George Blaurock baptized each other, and is therefore known as birth date of Anabaptism.

4        J.C. Wenger, “Dordrecht Confession of Faith: Mennonite, 1632,” Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online, http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/D674.html (accessed 09 October 2008).

5        John H. Leith, Creeds of the Churches: A Reader in Christian Doctrine From the Bible to Present, 3rd ed., ed. John Leith (Westminster: John Knox Press, 1982), 292.
6        J.C. Wenger, “Dordrecht Confession of Faith: Mennonite, 1632,”

BIBLIOGRAPHY

“Glimpses of Christian History: Swiss Anabaptists Drew up a Seven-Point Confession.” Christianity Today. http://chi.gospelcom.net/DAILYF/2002/02/daily-02-24-2002.shtml (accessed 18 October 2008).

Kurian, George Thomas. Nelson’s New Christian Dictionary: The Authoritative Resource on the Christian World. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publsihers, 2001.

Leith, John H. Creeds of the Churches: A Reader in Christian Doctrine From the Bible to Present. 3rd ed. Edited by John Leith. Westminster: John Knox Press, 1982.
Wenger, J.C. “Dordrecht Confession of Faith: Mennonite, 1632.” Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/D674.html (accessed 09 October 2008).

The role of good works in the Christian life. (Cast your vote)

Salvation is only available through the grace of God, and not through our works as many cults believe. If works do not provide salvation, then what role do they play in the Christian life?

It would seem as though a discussion about works as it relates to the process of salvation would be a discussion limited to religions such as Islam, Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and others. However, the issue of the place of works in the salvation process has been a debate among Christians since, at the very least, the time of the Reformation. This is one of the most important questions that one can consider when studying and formulating theology – “Does works play a part in the salvation process?”

Certain passages of the Bible, when not studying systematically, appear to advocate a works-based theology and deny a salvation by grace theology. For instance, James 2:24 says that, “You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only”. James appears to be teaching that salvation is accomplished by both faith and by works. However, reading the broader context, at verses 20-26, one can see that James is teaching that genuine faith will produce a changed life that does good works as fruit of one’s conversion. In other words, works is a byproduct of faith and salvation.

Philippians 2:12 is another point of contention in the works verses grace debate. This verse says that Christians are to “work out their salvation with fear and trembling”. This verse is often used by the Mormons to affirm that one needs to earn their salvation. However, after further examination of the context of the verse (all of chapter 2, and especially verses 12-18), one can deduce that this verse deals with the sanctification process of salvation, and not the initial salvific experience of grace. This verse is an ‘encouragement’ to believers to live a life that is self-sacrificial, others-centered, and Christ-exemplified. Working “out” salvation does not mean the same as working “for” salvation. After a review of the complete Pauline doctrine of grace and the biblical picture of salvation, it is clear that salvation by works would be foreign to the context of this passage, and to the Bible as a whole.

Works, however, while unquestionably not salvific in nature, do serve their own important purpose. First, works aid in identifying an active, Christ-centered life. Jesus said in Matthew 12:33 that, “a tree is known by its fruit”. Thus works help identify and confirm that one is indeed a Christian. Good works, as stated above, are the byproduct of the experience of grace and mercy in one’s life. The more a believer realizes just how hopelessly lost her or she was and how miraculous their salvation was, the more the believer will desire to do good works in the name of their Savior.

Works prove ones obedience and allegiance to Christ. 1 Peter 3:11 says that the Christian “must turn away from evil and do good”. A Christian who does not “do good” is clearly outside of the will of God, and is thus in a state of disobedience. Works is evidence of a desire to be obedient to the commands of Christ. Committing evil is easy to do, because it is awarded almost immediately with self-gratification, but being obedience unto good works provides a far more eternal weight of rewards.

Furthermore, works is an expression of thanksgiving for one’s salvation. Since we cannot earn salvation, according Ephesians 2:8-9 and many others, we should be grateful that Christ has chosen to redeem us and grant favor upon us. We express this gratitude by our “faith working though love” (Galatians 5:6). Lots of people “believe” in Christ, but those who have “faith” in Him are motivated by a spirit of thankfulness to work for Him “in love”. (See also Titus 2:11-14)

One of the purposes of mankind on earth involves works. The Bible tells us that we were created to do good works (Ephesians 2:10). We were created to serve others and to serve God. So often people will argue that Christians are “predestined”, but will not further the discussion by analyzing what the Christian was predestined for: to be conformed to the image of His son (Romans 8:29) and to do good works (Ephesians 2:10). Works are evidence that we are walking in the very purpose and will of God – that one is doing what one was predestined to do from the very foundation of the world.

Additionally, works please God, as seen in Hebrews 11:6 and 1 Thessalonians 1:3. Works also prove that a believer is indeed in a right standing with God, as seen in Colossians 1:10. Works also help to store up rewards for the believer that will be awarded at the judgment seat of Christ, as seen in 1 Corinthians 3:11-15 and 2 Corinthians 5:10.

Although we are justified, or made right by faith in Christ alone, works play an important role in the life of the Christian after redemption. As the process of sanctification is carried out in the believer, works will be present. They will be present to help believers identify with Christ and each other, to prove obedience and allegiance to Christ, to express gratitude for one’s salvation, and to work out the very purpose(s) of God in one’s life. After all, one of God’s messages to the children is this: “[God’s grace] teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world…a peculiar people, zealous of good works” (Titus 2:11-14).

Ok. You’ve heard my opinion. Now what’s yours?

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Key search words:
Importance of works? Can works save? Why do good works? What is works-based salvation? Works verses grace.

Flaws in the Mormon Belief System

Mormonism is the religion founded by Joseph Smith in 1830. His followers came to be known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS). [Some of his followers came to be know as the Community of “Christ”. The Church is also known as the “Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” (RLDS).] Smith proclaimed that he had been visited by both God the Father and God the Son, at which time they advised him that he should start a new church, for all of the church at that time was corrupt. Smith purported that his church was the only true church and that all other churches on earth were apostate and false. The church was formed with six charter members after Smith published the Book of Mormon, a book that was “allegedly translated from sacred golden plates or tablets revealed to him and unearthed from a hill near his home in Palmyra” (Walker and Caner).

Basic Beliefs of the Mormon Church

This book of “Scriptures” was revealed to Smith by the angel Moroni, a prophet of God in North America who was allegedly killed around 325 A.D (Walker and Caner). Joseph Smith also receive, by prophetic revelation, the Doctrines and Covenants, which contains revelations specific to the Mormon Church. Though an alleged purchase from an antiquities dealer, he obtained scrolls containing the “actual handwriting of Abraham”, part of the Pearl of Great Price. The Pearl of Great Price are a set of documents supposedly written in an ancient Egyptian language, which clarify both doctrines and teachings that were lost from the Bible and also adds its own teachings and clarifications about the creation account from Genesis.

The Mormon Church believes in four “divinely inspired Scriptures”, not one, as do Christians. In addition to the three listed above, they also claim adherence to the Bible, “as far as it is translated correctly” (Ron Rhodes). They do consistently disclose which verses they feel are correctly translated and which are not. The Mormons, through proclamation from Smith, view the Book of Mormon as the primary authority of all Scriptures, as it is the “most correct book on earth”, by which a person can “get closer to God by following its precepts than by any other book” (Ron Rhodes).

The Mormon Church is an anti-Trinitarian cult that believes that “God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are three separate Gods”. This defines the LDS as a polytheist religion (Ergun Cane., Class Lecture Notes, Apologetics 500, Chapter 14, Section 2). As deduced from the fact that Smith claimed to have received a personal visit from both Jesus and God, the Mormons hold that God is not a spirit, but is rather a God with a physical body (Millard J. Erickson). They believe that God the Father, called Elohim, has a wife, called the “Heavenly Mother”, and through sexual relations the Father and the Mother produced spirit children. Spirit children who did not depart heaven with the half-brother of Jesus, Lucifer, are rewarded with the opportunity to “be born to human families on earth” (James Walker).

Spirit children, after leaving the “First Estate” of heaven to live on earth in human families, live out their physical lives in a state of progressive salvation. The very purpose of human life, according to LDS theology, is “to progress to full salvation” (James Walker). According to Brigham Young, a successor of Smith, God was once Adam and obtained salvation, and so too, people can themselves become gods. Smith taught that “God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in Heaven. [God] was once a man like us…you have got to learn how to be gods yourself” (The Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Section Six, pp 345-46).

As one “progresses” along in life in an attempt to reach his own godhood, he is working to determine where his place will be in the eternal kingdom. Those who reach godhood are the ones who make it to the celestial kingdom, the highest level in the eternal kingdom, a place reserved for those who are fully loyal and devoted to the church and its teachings. Other levels available include the terrestrial kingdom, a place for those who are morally good yet never converted to Mormonism, and the telestial kingdom, which is where the wicked will go. Virtually everyone, according to Mormon theology, will make it to heaven – although some will have to go through “spirit prison” first.

Mormons teach that atonement for sins a series of action, including repenting of our sins, being baptized, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and obeying all of the commandments (Gospel Principles). They believe that if one’s sins are not atoned for in this life, the practice of baptism for the dead can make the dead right with Elohim (Mormon Doctrines of Salvation, vol. II, 141). “This is a practice of baptizing each other in place of non-Mormons who are now dead” (Matthew J. Slick). Their belief is that in the afterlife, the “newly baptized” person will be able to enter into a higher level of Mormon heaven because of the actions of the living.

Mormons also deny the deity of Christ, proclaiming that he is the literal spirit brother of Lucifer. They believe Christ is the first of “spirit children” to become a god, just as humans who were spirit children can become a god. Christ was born of flesh just as we were, out of a sexual union just as we were, and thus is not divine in the since that evangelical Christians perceive. Faith in Elohim and good works, not salvation in Christ, bring about salvation.

Today, the LDS boast about 13 million members. They are in more than 170 countries. They report more than 53,000 active missionaries in these countries. Mormonism is one of the fastest growing religions in the world. They are headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Flaws in the Mormon Belief System

First, Mormonism teaches that one must depend on other books of Scripture in addition to the Bible, such as the Pearl of Great Price and the Doctrines and Covenants. However, the Bible is clear that all Scripture (that is, all Scripture as of ‘the time of the New Testament writers’ – Paul would not have been referring to the Book of Mormon) is God-inspired (2 Timothy 3:16). Paul did not say that future writings would be “God-inspired”. Additionally, John wrote that anyone who added “unto these things, God shall add unto him [self] the plagues that are written in this book” (Revelation 22:1-19). We have no reason to believe that God had any further revelation for us beyond what he had written by the time the New Testament Canon had closed. If God forgot something that he had to later reveal, it indicates that to that He isn’t all-knowing, which isn’t true.

Secondly, Paul warned that a curse should come to anyone, whether men (John Smith) or angels (Moroni, if in fact he existed), if they came preaching a gospel other than what Christ and the apostles taught (Galatians 1 basically squashes any plausibility that Mormonism could be true!!). However, that is just what Smith did. He wrote three books that contradicted the clear Gospel of Jesus Christ, that man was hopelessly dead and sin, and that through grace, God sent His Son to be the only possible remedy for our sin condition. Works and good deeds will never make us gods. We can never become gods. The Bible never taught such a notion. Through the redemptive work of Christ, we can spend eternity in heaven with God, but not as “a god”. We are sinners and cannot save ourselves, according to Jeremiah 17:9, Romans 3:10-23, and Romans Chapter 7. We, as imperfect sinners, have never been gods, nor do we have a chance to obtain godhood, as outlined in Isaiah 43:10. There is only one true God, and He, in three persons, is God alone (see 1 Samuel 2:2 and Isaiah 44:6-8).

Finally, God is the God of the universe, who was from everlasting to everlasting, the Beginning and the End. To deny this and affirm that God was “once as we were” is to deny the clear teachings of the Bible and make God a liar. Psalm 90:2 proclaims, “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God”. If God was once a man, then who created that man? Another God? And who created that man that was previously that God? If one holds that God was once a man, then he has an infinite number of questions on his hands. However, God was never a man, and was always a Spirit – a Spirit that the Bible teaches is, and was, and is to come.

Sharing Christ with Mormons

Jesus is either God in the flesh, or a lunatic. Jesus was seen by those around Him as God almighty, and the apostles affirmed this. To say that He is the result of a sexual union is heretical at best, especially given that John 1:1-14 affirms that Jesus was from eternity God. Jesus was the Creator of all things, according to Colossians 1:15-17, a feat He could not have accomplished as “a” god. He was born of a “virgin”, meaning a woman who had not had sexual relations – neither with the “Heavenly Father” nor any other male. Jesus is not just a spirit brother of humans, but is in an exalted place in heaven as the High Priest of man before God, as seen in Hebrews 7:26. If Jesus was “a god”, why would the Bible declare “that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:10-11). We certainly would have no need to bow and confess lordship to god who is our equal.

Faith in a false god or a false Christ leads nowhere. The god of the Book of Mormon cannot be reconciled with the God of the Bible. Faith in the god of the Book of Mormon, who stands in direct opposition to the God of the Bible, cannot save. Nor can anyone earn salvation. Salvation is a free gift from the God of the Bible (Ephesians 2:8-9). One must decide or chose for themselves who they will serve – the god of the Book of Mormon, or the God of the Bible. The God of the Universe has preserved His word for thousands of years, while the Book of Mormon has been edited more than 4000 times in less than 180 years.

The Bible, which has never been proven wrong, declares a self-existing, everlasting, eternal God who offered His only Son because He knew our very best would never be enough to reconcile us unto Him. Neither Joseph Smith nor any of His successors or followers could ever measure up to the perfect moral standard of the God of the Bible. Only because of the great love of God, through Christ, can we ever stand before the righteous and holy God of the Bible. Salvation comes only through Jesus Christ our God, not Jesus “a god”, as seen John 17:3, which proclaims: “and this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.

SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY

________. Gospel Principles, Corporation of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1979.

Cane, Ergun. Class Lecture Notes, Apologetics 500, Chapter 14, Section 2: The Three Categories of Traditional Cults., Liberty Theological Seminary. (Accessed December 2, 2009).

Erickson, Millard J. Christian Theology. 2nd ed. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker House, 1998.
Rhodes, Ron. “Is Mormonism a cult? What do Mormons believe?” GotQuestions.Org. http://www.gotquestions.org/Mormons.html (accessed December 1, 2009).

Slick, Matthew J. “What Does Mormonism Teach?” CAMS.org. http://www.carm.org/teachings-of-mormonism (accessed December 5, 2009).

Smith, Joseph. The Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Section Six, http://www.boap.org/LDS/Joseph-Smith/Teachings/T6.html. (Accessed December 1, 2009).

Walker, James, and Ergun Caner. The Popular Encyclopedia of Apologetics. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House, 2008.

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