Today in class we had a leader from the Church of Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints come and present the Doctrine and Covenants, Book of Mormon, and missions of the church. It was quite interesting and confusing.
The reinterpretation of biblical texts, statements from Mormon leaders, and the prominence of Latter Day Saint’s message over that of any other historical Christian tradition was very evident to me. An interesting statement was Lorenzo Snow, an original member of Mormonism, “As man is, God once was. As God now is, man may become.” The process of deification, ecclesial authority, and understanding of God is quite interesting because of the rejection of historical Orthodox teachings on the Trinity, the hypostatic union of Jesus Christ, and authority of the Scripture because of their acceptance of the Book of Mormon and other texts.
Here are some key quotes from the lecture that I heard that I found very interesting:
The Book of Mormon is the fullness of the gospel.
We are of the same class of the being of God. We are his offspring.
Evangelicals believe that humans are created ex nihilo and that we are a different class. If you believe you are created out of nothing and that the purpose of your existence is to praise God there are problems. That is a self-centered view.
The purpose of God and creation of man is for the immortality and eternal life of man. People are innately children of God in the Mormon view. Mormons don’t believe in total human depravity. People have to become a child of God for faithful living. Mormons are saved by the merits, mercy, and grace of the messiah.
While I don’t think that it is useful for us as Evangelicals to look at the Church of Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints as a cult, I do believe that we have to see it as a false church that promotes doctrines that we cannot accept as historically Orthodox Christians. The truth is confrontational, but we must be careful to not discount the genuine care and service that Mormons bring to the discussion table.
Something that I would hope for us to do in youth ministry is to be versed well in our biblical defense of classical historical doctrines, to teach our students how to do this as well, and confront lovingly the worldviews and belief systems that are in conflict with us.