Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints (LDS)/Mormon Church and the Nature of God
Mormon doctrine is extensive and multifaceted. There are a multitude of teachings that extend far beyond the realm of Christian orthodoxy. We have decided to expose perhaps its most central and basic theological false teaching: the nature of God. As in all of our apologetic resources, our goal is clarity and brevity.
Our quotations regarding LDS doctrine are taken from its founder Joseph Smith, his successor Brigham Young, and other LDS “apostles” and “elders.” Please bear in mind that these citations are exclusively from the LDS leadership.
The founder of the LDS Church was Joseph Smith, who allegedly received revelation from God the Father and God the Son in upstate New York in 1820. He would later be visited by the angel Moroni who explained to Smith his purpose in translating the “golden plates,” later to become the “Book of Mormon.” Smith was the prophet chosen by God to restore the church which had become apostate since the apostolic age. In our discussion of the Jehovah Witness sect, distortions in translation were central to false doctrine. In the Mormon religion, extra biblical information is central to its false teaching. Joseph Smith introduced new “Scripture,” (the book of Mormon) which undergirds his church’s new doctrines. Our purpose isn’t to question whether Smith had supernatural encounters. Our purpose, as indeed mandated by Scripture, is to test the teaching by the authority of God’s Word, the Bible. Since, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,” (II Timothy 3:16) it follows that what a man states is only valid to the extent that it is supported by what God has said in His Word, the Bible. If man contradicts God’s Word, the Bible, then we may conclude the man (not God) to be false.
As you will see below, Joseph Smith and the Mormon church understand the very nature of God in a radically different way than biblical Christianity.
First, the Mormon church believes that God has a body of flesh and bones. This body of flesh is subject to limitations.
Second, the Mormon church is polytheistic, that is it believes in a multitude of “gods.” The LDS church believes that all good Mormons (men) have the potential to be gods. In fact, the LDS church believes our God, was once a man and attained “godhood.” In this way he is our model of “divine exaltation.”
Third, the Mormon church teaches that man can himself attain “godhood.” A good Mormon can, in the future, be a god (like the god of the earth) and have his own planet to rule.
Finally, this polytheistic theology is clearly and plainly not Christian. It is a new non Christian religion that does not have true salvation as its end.
Below are some central teachings of the LDS church which explain their understanding of the nature of God.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division
of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
|LDS/Mormon Teaching||Christian Biblical Teaching||Commentary|
|God has a physical body.||God is Spirit.|
|“The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s; the Son also; but the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of spirit.” (Doctrine and Covenants 130:22)||“God is Spirit.” (John 4:24)“See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” (Luke 24:39)“Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 16:16-17)“which he will display at the proper time–he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen. (I Timothy 6:15-16)
“But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.” (Exodus 33:20)
|It is abundantly clear from Scripture that God the Father does not have a human body of flesh and bones.This teaching in itself is sufficient to discredit any theology based on Scripture.|
|God is NOT omnipresent||God is omnipresent,|
|“If God possesses a form, that form is of necessity of definite proportions, and therefore of limited extension and space. It is impossible for Him to occupy at one time more than one space of such limits.” (James E. Talmage, Articles of Faith, p. 43)||“Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.” (Psalm 139:7-10)||A basic Christian doctrine is that God is omnipresent. God is in all places at all times. Mormon theology teaches that God’s presence is limited. Since Mormon theology teaches that there are a multitude of gods, it would be difficult for all gods to be omnipresent.|
|Man can become a God.||Man can NOT become a God.|
|“The Lord created you and me for the purpose of becoming like himself. We are created to become gods like unto your father in heaven.” (Brigham Young, Journal of discourses, volume 10, p. 223)“As man is, God once was; as God is, man may be.” (Prophet Lorenzo Snow, The Articles of Faith, p. 430)
“God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens!…
(Teachings of the prophet Joseph Smith, pp.345-46)
“God the Father is “glorified, exalted, immortal, resurrected man.” (Mormon Doctrine, 1979 edition, p. 643 quoting “Apostle Bruce R. McConkie)
“Remember that God, our heavenly Father, was perhaps once a child, and mortal like ourselves, and rose step by step in the scale of progress, in the school of advancement; has moved forward and overcome, until He has arrived at the point where He now is.” (Apostle Orson Hyde, Journal of Discourses, 1:123)
|“Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts:
“I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god.” (Isaiah 44:6)“For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:5-the serpent tempting Eve)“for I am God and not a man.” (Hosea 11:9)
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world…And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (Matthew 25:34, 46)
“And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” (Revelation 5:13)
|The heart of Mormon theology has its origin in the 3rd chapter of the Bible. In fact, it was one of the 1st temptations that mankind was faced with.Satan deceived man by casting doubt on the goodness of God. The essence of the lie was that obedience to God would restrict man’s happiness. In fact, the deceiver was so bold as to state that disobedience to God would lead to fulfillment, and a status equal to God himself. “you will be like God..” (Genesis 3:5)The cornerstone of Mormon theology is the resurfacing of one of Satan’s first lies: the ability to be like God.
Mormon theology thus teaches a form of spiritual metamorphosis from manhood to godhood. The Bible teaches that after this life man will either live in heaven for eternity (forever) or reside in hell-fire for eternity (forever). There is no 3rd category of human transmutation to attain divinity.
|God is not eternal.||God is eternal.|
|“for I am going to tell you how God came to be God. We have all imagined and supposed that God was God from all eternity. I will refute that idea., and take away the veil, so that you may see…He was once like us; yea, that God himself, the father of us all, dwelt on earth, the same as Jesus Christ himself did.” (Teachings of the prophet Joseph Smith, pp.345-46)||“Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.” (Psalm 90:2)“Behold, God is great, and we know him not; the number of his years is unsearchable.” (Job 36:26)||Another key attribute of God is that He is eternal. God has no beginning nor does He have end. Since Mormons teach that gods were once men, they necessarily have a beginning. The God of the Bible was not a man, indeed He created man and created all things.|
|There are gods (Polytheism)||There is one God (Monotheism)|
|“Here, then is eternal life-to know the only wise and true God; and you have to learn how to be Gods yourselves, and to be kings and priests to God, the same as all Gods have done before you…To inherit the same power, the same glory and the same exaltation, until you arrive at the station of a God.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith pp. 346-47)“And then the Lord said: Let us go down. And they went down at the beginning, and they, that is the Gods, organized and formed the heavens and the earth.” (Abraham 4:1)||“Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me.” (Isaiah 43:10)“I am the LORD, and there is no other, besides me there is no God.” (Isaiah 45:5) (see also Isaiah 44:6, 45:14, 45:21, 45:22, 46:5, 46:9)
“Now an intermediary implies more than one, but God is one.” (Galatians 3:20)
“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.” (Deuteronomy 6:4-5)
Therefore, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that “an idol has no real existence,” and that “there is no God but one.” For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth–as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”– yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist. (1 Corinthians 8:4-6)
|Not only does the Bible clearly teach that mankind can not become a god, it also teaches that there is only one God. Mormonism teaches polytheism: that there are a multitude of gods and that a good Mormon (male) may himself be exalted to such a divine status.One of the cardinal doctrines of the Judeo-Christian heritage is monotheism-the belief in one God, not a pantheon of gods. Monotheism distinguished Judaism from the pagan nations in which she encountered.
Remember, Mormonism teaches that our God (Elohim) was once a man-he then reached an exalted status and became the god of this planet.
Joseph Smith’s Prophecies: (All quotations taken from LDS documents)
Joseph Smith (1805-1844) was the founder of the LDS (Mormon) church. He claimed to be a prophet of God. Joseph Smith allegedly received the Book of Mormon through the angel Moroni with the new information on which the LDS church is established. Therefore it may be useful to have a look at some of Smith’s prophecies to see if they were true. To a great extent Mormonism hangs on the veracity of Smith’s claims. Scripture gives a clear test for the truthfulness of a prophet of God:
“20 But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in my name that I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die.’ 21 And if you say in your heart, ‘How may we know the word that the Lord has not spoken?’— 22 when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him.” (Deuteronomy 18:20-22)
Here are a few of Joseph’s Smith’s prophecies:
1. The Return of Jesus in 1891.
“President Smith then stated that the meeting had been called, because God had commanded it; and it was made known to him by vision and by the Holy Spirit. . . . it was the will of God that they should be ordained to the ministry and go forth to prune the vineyard for the last time, for the coming of the Lord, which was nigh — even fifty six years should wind up the scene. (History of the Church vol. 2, p.182) [1835, and 56 years was completed in 1891]
2. The new Temple and new Jerusalem to be built in Independence Missouri in Smith’s generation. (Covenant 84:3-5) Smith made this prophecy in 1832.
“Yea, the word of the Lord concerning his church, established in the last days for the restoration of his people, as he has spoken by the mouth of his prophets, and for the gathering of his saints to stand upon Mount Zion,i which shall be the city of New Jerusalem. Which city shall be built, beginning at the temple lot, which is appointed by the finger of the Lord, in the western boundaries of the State of Missouri, and dedicated by the hand of Joseph Smith, Jun., and others with whom the Lord was well pleased. 4 Verily this is the word of the Lord, that the city New Jerusalem shall be built by the gathering of the saints, beginning at this place, even the place of the temple, which temple shall be reared in this generation. 5 For verily this generation shall not all pass away until an house shall be built unto the Lord, and a cloud shall rest upon it, which cloud shall be even the glory of the Lord, which shall fill the house… 31 Therefore, as I said concerning the sons of Moses for the sons of Moses and also the sons of Aaron shall offer an acceptable offering and sacrifice in the house of the Lord, which house shall be built unto the Lord in this generation, upon the consecrated spot as I have appointed.” (Doctrines and Covenants 84:2-5,31.)
3. All nations would be involved in the American Civil war of 1861-1865.
“… concerning the wars that will shortly come to pass, beginning at the rebellion of South Carolina, which will eventually terminate in the death and misery of many souls. And the time will come that war will be poured out upon all nations, beginning at this place. For behold, the Southern States shall be divided against the Northern States, and the Southern States will call on other nations, even the nation of Great Britain, as it is called, and they shall also call upon other nations, in order to defend themselves against other nations; and then war shall be poured out upon all nations.”(The Doctrine and Covenants, Covenant 87:1-3)
4. Return of Elijah
Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery claimed that Elijah returned and gave them priesthood keys in 1836. Elijah was allegedly one of several heavenly messengers sent to the Kirtland Temple. (The Doctrine and Covenants, Covenant 110:13-15)
5. U.S. Gov’t to be “Overthrown and Wasted” in “a few years.” (1843)
I prophesy in the name of the Lord of Israel, unless the United States redress the wrongs committed upon the saints in the state of Missouri and punish crimes committed by her officers, that in a few years the government will be utterly overthrown and wasted, and there will not be so much as a potsherd left, for their wickedness in permitting the murder of men, women and children and the wholesale plunder and extermination of thousands of her citizens to go unpunished, thereby perpetrating a foul and corroding blot upon the fair fame of this great republic, the very thought of which would have caused the high-minded and patriotic framers of the Constitution of the United States to hide their faces with shame. (Smith 1902 5:394)
6. The Earth shall Shake and Reel as a Drunken Man (1832)
“…not many days hence the earth shall tremble and reel as a drunken man; and the sun shall hide his face…and the moon shall be bathed in blood; and the stars shall become exceedingly angry, and shall cast themselves down as a fig that falleth from a fig tree.” (The Doctrine and Covenants 88.87, 1832)
Since this prophecy took place over 60,000 days ago it is false.
Most LDS missionaries I have encountered do not dispute the truthfulness of Smith’s errors in prophecy (when confronted with them), only they state something similiar to this, “Yes, Smith made some mistakes, but…” LDS doctrine hangs on Smith’s new “revelations.” The factual evidence is clear: Many prophecies Joseph Smith made were false. What implications does this have for Smith’s visions which make up the foundation of the LDS church?