On Nov. 14, 2004 Evangelicals and Latter-day Saints (Mormons) sat together in the Salt Lake Tabernacle, as international Christian philosopher and apologist Ravi Zacharias spoke to over 5,000 people. It is reported on Sunday night that Zacharias spoke on the unique claims of Jesus Christ, concentrating on the “exclusivity and sufficiency of Jesus Christ,” to meet the need of the fallen human condition.
The speakers in order were Greg Johnson, (Director of Standing Together Ministries in Utah); Joseph Tkach, Jr., (Pastor General of the World Wide Church of God); Robert L. Millet (LDS author and Senior Professor in the Religion Dept at BYU); Richard Mouw (President of Fuller Seminary); Ravi Zacharias (Christian Philosopher and Global Evangelist); Craig Hazen (Professor of Christian Apologetics at Biola University) Because all these people proceeded him and spoke after him it took away from his message.
I personally think it is a good thing the door was open for Ravi Zacharias to have an opportunity to speak to the Mormons in Utah. I do not know exactly what he said I had heard he did teach on the cross, Christ, the Trinity and salvation. I’m hoping, as are others, that his sermon was a moment of truth for the Mormon Church and leadership. The press and those who attended reported that Zacharias received a longstanding ovation from those in attendance when he concluded. It is reported that many Mormons said they were in agreement with him. If this is so, one must question what kind of impact he had on the Mormon attendees that needed to be confronted, not only with the truth, but their falsehood. In situations like this giving the uncompromising truth may not always be enough. Any “former Mormon” will tell you that they hear the message from their own theological perspective. The problem is that to a Christian it means one thing and a Mormon the same words are interpreted differently. If you do not directly deal with their theology you have not dealt with the issues. This is why preaching the gospel is not enough to those who already think they have the gospel. Mormons may not have found anything in Zachariahs speech that troubled them, to understand that Mormonism is false and want to abandon it. As an example, when Paul spoke on Mars Hill they knew where they stood. If his message were understood, we may see a similar reaction like those at Mars Hill where some mocked and others wanted to hear him again, and others were converted to the TRUTH and joined him.
However, the concern amongst the apologists/cult-evangelist ministries right now lies with someone who preceded Ravi Zacharias, who spoke as if he represented the evangelical church. Unfortunately, both good and bad were presented together at this meeting from all the speakers, and there seemed to be an underlying agenda. Fuller Theological Seminary President Richard Mouw's full speech has become available and we find it very detrimental, in fact insulting.
We do not need to read into this but only take out what is apparent from the Mormon newspapers. I’ll let the Deseret Morning News give their own view on this event: “It'll be Mouw, not Zacharias, that Utahns will remember. He offered “a stunningly candid apology to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and [noted] that 'friendship has not come easily between our communities.' He dubbed the evening 'historic' and apologized that evangelicals 'have often misrepresented the faith and beliefs of the Latter-day Saints” (underlines added).
Mouw said: “Let me state it clearly. We evangelicals have sinned against you,” he said, adding both camps have tended to marginalize and simplify the others' beliefs. [Source: http://deseretbook.com/mormon-life/news/index ] Evangelical preaches at Salt Lake Tabernacle November 15, 2004] By Carrie A. Moore Deseret Morning News).
“We've often seriously misrepresented the beliefs and practices of members of the LDS faith,” he said. “It's a terrible thing to bear false witness. . . We've told you what you believe without first asking you” (Evangelical, LDS find bit of common ground by Kristen Moulton The Salt Lake Tribune, 11/15/2004)
Mouw states: “I remain convinced there are serious issues of difference that are of eternal consequence, but now we can discuss them as friends.”
[Mouw] then noted the 200th anniversary of Joseph Smith's birthday next December and several scholarly events planned to celebrate during the coming year. “I hope many in the evangelical community will take part in those events,” he said. (ibid.)
The majority of the audience in attendance was Christian, not Mormon. There was no reaction from the audience, or from Ravi on what Mouw said. However according to a few Christian sources that attended they had a pit in their stomach, sickened by what Mouw said. From what I understand all the Christian speakers quoted or referred to Joseph Smith except Ravi.
Here is Mouw’s transcript release of his statements sent out (any mistakes are his own). This is not the complete transcript but only the parts that need to be addressed) we will look at each portion separately.
Mouw's apology to the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: “Our public relations between our two communities have been-to put it mildly-decidedly unfriendly. From the very beginning, when Joseph Smith organized his church in 1830, my evangelical forebears hurled angry accusations and vehement denunciations at the Mormon community-a practice that continues from some evangelical quarters even into this present day. And I think it is fair to say that some Mormons have on occasion responded in kind. Friendship with each other has not come easily for our two communities. “But in recent times things have begun to change. Evangelicals and Mormons have worked together on important matters of public morality.”
Sounds like Mouw has been hearing the Mormons complaints so long that he has become a sympathizer to those who consistently through their own history pronounced scathing attacks denouncing all of Christianity, starting from their founder and others who have followed in his footsteps. A few reminders of what Mormons stated “...orthodox Christian views of God are Pagan rather than Christian” (Mormon Doctrine of Deity by B.H. Roberts, p.116) “What! Are Christians ignorant? Yes, as ignorant of the things of God as the brute beast.” (John Taylor, Mormonism's 3rd President, Journal of Discourses 6:25.) “When the light came to me I saw that all the so-called Christian world was grovelling in darkness” (Brigham Young, Mormonism's Second President, Journal of Discourses 5:73.) These are official sermons by some of their presidents.
Is this a good goal to disregard our religious differences and unite for moral change? What would be the purpose in doing this? What exactly do you men have in mind?
Stating the Evangelicals misrepresentation of the faith and beliefs of the Latter-day Saints: “On a personal level, over the past half-dozen years I have been a member of a small group of evangelical scholars who have been engaged in lengthy closed-door discussions about spiritual and theological matters with a small group of our LDS counterparts. We have not been afraid to argue strenuously with each other, but our arguments have been conducted in a sincere desire genuinely to understand each other-and in the process we have formed some deep bonds of friendship. I know that I have learned much in this continuing dialogue, and I am now convinced that we evangelicals have often seriously misrepresented the beliefs and practices of the Mormon community. Indeed, let me state it bluntly to the LDS folks here this evening: we have sinned against you. The God of the Scriptures makes it clear that it is a terrible thing to bear false witness against our neighbors, and we have been guilty of that sort of transgression in things we have said about you. We have told you what you believe without making a sincere effort first of all to ask you what you believe.
Excuse me! I think that Mr. Mouw should speak for yourself and not include us in your corporate repentance. (By the way, the body of Christ consists of more than just evangelicals.) These statements are hypocritical. Mouw didn’t consult any cult evangelism ministries that I know of before he spoke as if he represented evangelicals involved in this type of evangelism.
Who has misrepresented the beliefs and practices of the LDS faith? Whom are you pointing your finger to? (We know who they are. Mouw tells us later in his letter it is Walter Martin, Dave Hunt and all things considered, others like them. Surely your Mormon friends are thrilled to hear this rhetoric).
To generalize and stereotyped good ministries as doing ungodly work and presenting the Mormons as taking the higher road is shameful. We have asked them what they believe and received answers, we have discussed these things, we have read their books we have not misinterpreted what they are saying at all. They argue their case and often try and prove that the Bible is wrong and their religion is right. In fact one only needs to speak to the majority of former Mormons, they can tell you what this is really about.
Doctrine and Covenants 20:8-9 calls the Book of Mormon, “the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ.” It’s not the Bible that is the fullness of the gospel because according to Mormonism it has certain things pertaining to the gospel missing. It goes on to say, “And I have sent forth the FULLNESS OF MY GOSPEL by the hand of my servant Joseph; ...And I have given unto him the keys of the mystery of those things which have been sealed, even things which were from the foundations of the world....”(Doctrine and Covenants, 35:17-18)
Joseph Smith, Jr., Founder and Prophet of Mormon Church said of the Bible, “because of the plain and most precious parts of the gospel of the Lamb which have been kept back by that abominable church, whose formation thou hast seen...because of the most plain and precious parts of the gospel of the Lamb which have been kept back by that abominable church, which is the mother of harlots, saith the Lamb... (Book of Mormon1 Nephi 13:26-29, 32, 34; also see 2 Nephi 29:2-3, 6-8)
I have just quoted their standard works. Joseph Smith, Jr., the Founder and Prophet of Mormon Church says part of the Bible lost; “plain and precious things were taken away by the abominable church.” Who do you think they are talking about? They believe there are only two churches in the world. They are the true one and we are the other one.
Joseph Smith jr. the founder of the Mormon religion, “I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p.194 Deseret Book Company also Joseph Smith, Jr., History of the Church (Salt Lake City: Deseret, 1978), 4:461).
This statement would include the Bible wouldn’t it? How is the Mormon religion misrepresented in this statement, or is it the other way around? What about the Mormon Church bearing false witness against the Bible with their prophet’s testimony? Does Mouw Know their history? Or only what they have fed him behind closed doors. Joseph Smith even altered the Bible itself, is this is to be ignored?
What Mr. Mouw has said is absurd. You can ask Mormons who have converted, become born again and agree with our assessment. It is only because of evangelicals who have taken the time to explain the differences. What does Mouw know about this? Seems very little to speak in the manner he did. To generalize those who have labored years in the harvest field for Mormons to have a relationship through the Christ of the Scriptures versus the Christ of Mormonism is an injustice.
I certainly do not want to make this article a focus on Mormonism itself but it must be brought up to show how utterly amateurish Mouw is to speak on these matters.
And yes, I agree, “It's a terrible thing to bear false witness,” and so what do we with the founder’s revelation “Joseph Smith was told by God when seeking what church to join: “I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were and abomination in his sight, that those professors were all corrupt.... (Pearl of Great Price, Joseph Smith, History 1:19, Page 49)
It was God the Father and his Son who appeared when Joseph, “asked the personages who stood above me in the light, which of all the sects was right, . . . I was answered that I must join none of them [churches] for they were all wrong; …that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt” (from Times and Seasons, vol. 3, pp.728, 748; Joseph Smith History vs. 7, 14-19 and other resources).
Thus Smith condemned everyone who was a Christian as an apostate, which is exactly what the Mormon Church has always taught. “Nothing less than a complete apostasy from the Christian religion would warrant the establishment of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” (Introduction to the DHC, I:XL).
Even today Apostle Bruce McConkie wrote: “Apostasy was universal...And this darkness still prevails except among those who have come to a knowledge of the restored gospel” (Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 3, p.265). Mr. McConkie is an apostle and has far more authority than spokesman from BYU.Individual opinions of Mormons nor LDS scholars do not define Mormonism, their leadership does.
Even in their Book of Mormon Joseph Smith, Jr., Founder and Prophet of Mormon Church. Explains there are only two churches - church of devil, church of Lamb. “Behold there are save two churches only; the one is the Church of the Lamb of God and the other is the church of the devil; wherefore whoso belongeth not to the church of the lamb of God belongeth to that great church; which is the mother of abominations; and she is the whore of all the earth” (The Book of Mormon, 1 Nephi 14:10).
Mr. Mouw, since you do accept Doctrine of Covenants lets see elsewhere what Mormon scriptures claim. Joseph Smith stated: “This [the LDS] Church...is the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth” (Doctrine and Covenants 1:30).
President Ezra Taft Benson said: “This is not just another Church. This is not just one of a family of Christian churches. This is the Church and kingdom of God, the only true Church upon the face of the earth...” (Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p.164-165).
No we are not fishing for statements from the 1800’s but from a modern Mormon church that continues to hold these positions. Marion Romney (LDS First Presidency) said, “This Church is the ensign on the mountain spoken of by the Old Testament prophets. It is the way, the truth, and the life” (Conference Report, April, 1961, pg. 119).
Their own apostle Bruce McConkie states: “If it had not been for Joseph Smith and the restoration, there would be no salvation. There is no salvation outside The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” (Mormon Doctrine, p.670). He is not saying anything different than past presidents and prophets have said.
“The spirit of the prophets are subject to the prophets?” (1 Corinthians 14:32) Please don’t pass on incorrect info to us as if it is the truth. And then call us liars for what research we have done in their own writings.
In the words of Heber J. Grant, the seventh prophet of the LDS Church, “Either Joseph Smith did see God and did converse with him, and God himself did introduce Jesus Christ to the boy Joseph Smith, and Jesus did tell Joseph Smith that he would be the instrument in the hands of God of establishing again upon the earth the true gospel of Jesus Christ - or Mormonism, so called, is a myth” (Discourses of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Alma Burton, p. 18). As Grant has said, either the First Vision is true or Mormonism is a myth!
Mr. Mouw: “We have made much of the need to provide you with a strong defense of traditional Christian convictions, regularly quoting the Apostle Peter's mandate that we present to people like you a reasoned account of the hope that lies with in us-but we have not been careful to follow the same Apostle's counsel that immediately follows that mandate, when he tells us that we must always make our case with “gentleness and reverence” toward those with whom we are speaking. Indeed, we have even on occasion demonized you, weaving conspiracy theories about what the LDS community is “really” trying to accomplish in the world. And even at our best, we have-and this is true of both of our communities-we have talked past each other, setting forth oversimplified and distorted accounts of what the other group believes.
I’m not sure about what he means by conspiracy theories but their plain teachings--their own doctrine should be enough to speak on what they believe.
We have tried with patience love and longsuffering reach out to Mormons for years and many can attest to its fruit, especially those Mormons who have seen the difference and came to the Jesus of the Scripture. And this could only have been done by 1 Pet. 3:15-16: “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed.”
Sure there have been disagreements and even heated discussions, just as there was with Paul THE APOSTLE and even JESUS OUR LORD. We are defending the truth as well as delivering it. And our conscience is clear despite some who claim otherwise.
Paul’s statement correctly reads in 2 Timothy 2:23-26: “But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife. And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.”
In it Paul says they are captive of the devil, yet Mouw in his letter of explanation of his speech accuses Dave Hunt of lying in his book--bearing false witness “whose main thesis is that Mormonism is Satanic in its inspiration and practice.” If Dave Hunt is bearing false witness, so is Paul according to the 2 Timothy 2:23-26. Is not a teaching on the plurality of gods, and man becoming a god satanic in origin?
And what of Paul who argued intensely at times with his own brethren the Jews, and others? An what of Paul saying “Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them” (Rom. 16:17). Paul made a distinction of how to act with the unsaved that were not claiming to be brethren and the unsaved who were claiming to be brethren and had another gospel. We are to make that distinction. Let’s not forget the apostle Paul’s counsel to “reject a divisive man after two times.”
Yet Paul also said, “Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but expose them” (Ephesians 5:11). Has Mouw forgotten the warnings of Paul and only adhere to the love portions of the Scripture. “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14)
You can make friends with people without compromising by standing for what you believe. Are we to be so sensitive that we cannot tell it like is! If you want to make friends on your own you are welcome to, but do not drag the church down your interfaith road or convert them to unbiblical ways of evangelism. You have no Biblical justification for what you have said. Mouw and his associates, have, in their “new way of evangelizing” purposely overlook certain guidelines to forge interfaith friendships. I can honestly say the way he is going about this is not the way the apostles would, nor is it how they instructed the church. This goes beyond twisting the Scripture to his own misunderstanding, it is ignoring it.
Mouw: “I personally take great encouragement from words that Joseph Smith uttered on the occasion of the founding of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in April of 1830: “we know,” Joseph said, “that all men must repent and believe on the name of Jesus Christ, and worship the Father in his name, and endure in faith on his name to the end, or they cannot be saved in the kingdom of God.” And then he added: “And we know that justification through the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is just and true, and we know also that sanctification through the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is just and true, to all those who love and serve God with all their mights, minds, and strength.”
So a false prophets statement that, on the surface appears to have written the right thing personally encourages you. Ignoring that he said false things hundreds of more times. Again this same book you quote states the book of Mormon is the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Which Jesus would Joseph Smith then talking about Mr. Mouw? Certainly it is not the Jesus of the Bible according to his full body of teachings. He is Jesus in name only.
This is what the Mormon Church wrote for Chapter 20 in their Doctrine and Covenants. Revelation on Church Organization and Government, given through Joseph Smith the Prophet, April, 1830. Preceding his record of this revelation the Prophet wrote: We obtained of him [Jesus Christ] the following, by the spirit of prophecy and revelation; which not only gave us much information, but also pointed out to us the precise day upon which, according to his will and commandment, we should proceed to organize his Church once more here upon the earth. --The Lord again attests the genuineness of the Book of Mormon--He gives commandment respecting baptism--Defines the functions of the several offices in the Priesthood--Specifies the duties of members--Prescribes the mode of baptism, and of administering the sacrament of bread and wine--Directs the keeping of records of Church membership.
In other words the Christian church was totally apostate--his words.
This is what precedes Mr. Mouw's quote in Doctrine and Covenant 20:1: The rise of the Church of Christ in these last days, being one thousand eight hundred and thirty years since the coming of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ in the flesh, it being regularly organized and established agreeable to the laws of our country, by the will and commandments of God, in the fourth month, and on the sixth day of the month which is called April-v.2 Which commandments were given to Joseph Smith, Jun., who was called of God, and ordained an apostle of Jesus Christ, to be the first elder of this church;v.3 And to Oliver Cowdery, who was also called of God, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to be the second elder of this church, and ordained under his hand; v.4 And this according to the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, to whom be all glory, both now and forever. Amen.v.5 After it was truly manifested unto this first elder that he had received a remission of his sins, he was entangled again in the vanities of theworld;v.6 But after repenting, and humbling himself sincerely, through faith, God ministered unto him by an holy angel, whose countenance was as lighting, and whose garments were pure and white above all other whiteness v.7 And gave unto him commandments which inspired him;v.8 And gave him power from on high, by the means which were before prepared, to translate the Book of Mormon;v.9 Which contains a record of a fallen people, and the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles and to the Jews also.
V.11 Proving to the world that the holy scriptures are true, and that God does inspire men and call them to his holy work in this age and generation, as well as in generations of old; v.12 Thereby showing that he is the same God yesterday, today, and forever. Amen.” (ed. note: this is referring to the Book of Mormon)
After these verses Mr. Mouw quotes the text in v.30-31 on justification.
It continues in v.37, shall be received by baptism into his church.” (Again meaning the Mormon church) and in v.41 And to confirm those who are baptized into the church, by the laying on of hands for the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost, according to the scriptures; v.42 And to teach, expound, exhort, baptize, and watch over the church; v.43 And to confirm the church by the laying on of the hands, and the giving of the Holy Ghost” (again meaning the Mormon church).
All things considered, Doctrine and Covenants is basically Bible quotations copied from various Bible authors dispersed throughout the book. So he quoted the Bible correctly, so what. It’s what else he said that makes him a false prophet and teacher. Mr. Mouw quoting Joseph Smith from Doctrine and Covenants in regards to justification and sanctification demonstrates his inability to understand the complexity of the doctrine. Considering that it also says of justification, “All covenants, contracts, bonds, obligations, oaths, vows, performances, connections, associations, or expectations” (Doctrine and Covenants 132:7). Again, it is a matter of what it means to them. It takes those who have studied this extensively who are familiar with this and sound doctrine to make sense out of it.
While you are encouraged we are greatly discouraged what Joseph Smith also said. Joseph Smith, “God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man,…We have 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” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 345). What man speaks like this under the Holy Ghost? “First god himself, who sits in yonder heavens, is a man like unto one of yourselves, that is the great secret ... I am going to tell you how god came to be god. We have imagined 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 a man like us ... Here is eternal life to know the only wise and true god and you have you have got to learn how to be Gods yourselves, and to be kings and priests to God, the same as all Gods have done before you...” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 346; History of the church, vol.6 p.305-306 also Times and Seasons vol.5 p.613-614).
This is written by an apostle in their Articles of Faith, “In spite of the opposition of the sects, in the face of direct charges of blasphemy, the Church proclaims the eternal truth: 'AS MAN IS, GOD ONCE WAS: AS GOD IS, MAN MAY BE” (Apostle James Talmage, The Articles of Faith, p. 430).
God “once was a man” and then became God was held by all the Mormons until recently they have tried to distance themselves from it without renouncing it, saying who can understand it? Their apostles and prophets did. Gods, (as in plural), this is the god that Smith was speaking of that you happen to quote favorably.In fact Joseph Smith emphatically said, “I will preach on the plurality of Gods. I have selected this text for that express purpose. I wish to declare I have always and in all congregations when I have preached on the subject of the Deity, it has been the plurality of Gods. The doctrine of a plurality of Gods is as prominent in the Bible as any other doctrine” (Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 370)
Is it? This what was ingrained in the founder’s spirit from his new revelation! He said, “always and in all congregations- plurality of Gods.” The Mormons have more God’s than Hinduism, who total no more than 300 million; Mormons have billions of gods. But anymore than one is one to many, and not what the Bible teaches.
Furthermore Joseph Smith stated “Daniel in his seventh chapter speaks of the Ancient of Days; he means the oldest man, our Father Adam, Michael” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 157)
Brigham Young who was the second prophet and president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who understood what he meant and testifies “Joseph said that Adam was our Father and God” (Brigham Young, Journal History of the Church, May 14, 1876).
President Brigham Young ... said, “Adam was Michael the Arch angel and he was the Father of Jesus Christ and was our God.” President Wilford Woodruff said at the “meeting of school of the prophet, President Young said Adam was Michael, the Archangel and he was the Father of Jesus Christ and is our God and that Joseph taught this principle” (Wilford Woodruff Journal, Dec. 16, 1867).
Wilford Woodruff was the fourth president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1889. Just because they don’t understand it today (which I highly doubt) does not mean that it has not been explained or understood in the past.
While Mouw has tried to make friends with LDS he has isolated a huge portion of evangelicals, which he has made clear, does not care for. These are those who have labored in love to reach the Mormon people and in one fell swoop has mocked and belittled us. I’m appalled at what Mouw has undone in a few words at such a sensitive meeting.
Mouw stated, “I remain convinced there are serious issues of difference that are of eternal consequence, but now we can discuss them as friends.”
The majority of evangelists to Mormons have always discussed them as friends. This isn't something new. We all have numerous friends from the Mormon Church, so whom is he speaking about? Should we ignore that it was Mormonism that attacked historical Christianity with their prophets from the beginning. Have they repented for this?
Where’s the discussion when Mouw has also said this in his speech: [Mouw] noted the 200th anniversary of Joseph Smith's birthday next December and several scholarly events planned to celebrate during the coming year. “I hope many in the evangelical community will take part in those events,” he said.
[Full quote] In just a month and a half we will greet the year 2005, which marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Joseph Smith. During this year there will be many occasions to pay special attention to Joseph's life and teachings, and I hope many in the evangelical community will take part in those events. But this evening we are not here to talk about Joseph Smith, but about the One whose birth we will celebrate again just before the bicentennial year of Joseph's birth makes its appearance. This is the One about whose birth we sing-in words, I should add, that many of us love to hear sung by that great choir that sings these words in this Tabernacle-”the hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.”
Mouw sounds like he has been semi convinced of Mormonism. Here Mouw has volunteered Christians to follow his lead into acknowledging an interfaith celebration of the Mormon prophet who said that God told him Christianity was apostate. To ask anyone to do this on a man who was deceived and has led millions astray is shameful for anyone who claims to know the truth and actually cares for these people. Much more could be said of this but a few quotes should suffice.
Joseph Fielding Smith, Mormonism's tenth president, went on record as saying that there is “no salvation without Joseph Smith” (Doctrine of Salvation 1:189).
“No man who rejects the testimony of Joseph Smith can enter the kingdom (Doctrines of Salvation vol.1 p.190)
“If we get our salvation, we shall have to pass by him, if we enter our glory, it will be through the authority he has received. We cannot get around him. (President George Q. Cannon 1988, Melchezedik Guide p.142 also Gospel Truth, pp. 199, 200).)
Are we to defend these statements as true and apologize for pointing them out? How aware are these men of numerous horrendous statements like these made by Mormon officials. But these don’t count!
What about the Mormon Church bearing false witness against the Bible and their prophets testimony? Joseph Smith claimed the Bible is full of errors, “Ignorant translators, careless transcribers, or designing and corrupt priests have committed many errors” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pg.327).
Mormon Apostle Bruce R. McConkie said: “The Bible of the Old World has come to us from the manuscripts of antiquity - manuscripts which passed through the hands of uninspired men who changed many parts to suit their own doctrinal ideas. Deletions were common, and, as it now stands, many plain and precious portions and many covenants of the Lord have been lost. As a consequence, those who rely upon it alone stumble and are confused...” (“Come: Hear the Voice of the Lord,” The Ensign, December 1985, p 55).
These are examples of their statements; who is misrepresenting whom? “...Thus, the elements of mistranslation, incompleteness, and other errors weaken the Bible” (Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Vol. 1, BIBLE Deseret books).
Mormon President Ezra Taft Benson (President from 1985-1994) wrote of “The Book of Mormon is the keystone in our witness of Jesus Christ... Unlike the Bible, which passed through generations of copyists, translators, and corrupt religionists who tampered with the text, the Book of Mormon came from writer to reader in just one inspired step of translation” (The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, 1988, page 53).This is not the 1800's.
Does Mouw believe the book of Mormons words are from God and eternal like the Bible? The LDS church believes the book of Mormon is more correct than the Bible (History of the Church, 4:461). This is a fundamental teaching in Mormonism; the Bible is missing plain and precious promises, which only Mormonism has.
Mouw’s apology is some of the most absurd statements said from a pulpit. Because it was from a Mormon pulpit by someone who claims to represent the Jesus of the Bible and Christianity! I believe Mouw needs to be held accountable for what he has said publicly on his Nov. 14th speech. I see this like Peter who patronized the Jews and Paul openly questioned Peter and rebuked Peter publicly for his compromising the truth of the gospel when eating with the gentiles? (Galatians 2:11-14) Because of his compromise he ended up influencing others the wrong way. I see this being applicable to this situation as well. Paul said we did not compromise the gospel for one minute. Maybe Mouw is unable to grasp what he has done for them and what he has done to us. Far worse than he ever can blame Walter Martin or Dave Hunt for doing, you have offended us immensely.
Ronald V. Huggins, assistant professor of theological and historical studies at Salt Lake Theological Seminary recently posted his own in response at a Web site of the Institute for Religious Research, www.irr.org/mit/authentic-dialogue.html, under a section titled, “Mormons in Transition.” Huggins said he and other faculty at the Salt Lake Theological Seminary asked Mouw in August 2004 to “avoid following the pattern he had established in writing and public events during the past few years of disparaging earlier Christian efforts to reach Mormons for Christ. Regrettably, Dr. Mouw ignored the SLTS faculty's concern.”
Obviously Mouw knew what he intended on doing and has a track record of speaking in this manner.
Mouw’s Explanation of His Speech
After receiving numerous letters asking why he said these comments Mouw sent out a written letter explaining his statements at the Mormon Church. We will now look at his reasoning, his continual accusations of men that have done a great work evangelizing those in the CULTS and Mouw dodging his own words.
“First, some folks have asked who the “we” is that I apologized on behalf of when I said that that “we” evangelicals have sinned against Mormons by bearing false witness against them. I certainly did not mean to imply that every evangelical has sinned in this regard.”
We realize this because you specifically mention in this letter those who you think have caused the damage in the body of Christ. The men who have told the truth in love unwaveringly. Instead you generalize your accusation and name people (a certain few?). So we find no apology coming forth from Mouw, in its place is a defense of what he doing to bridge Mormonism and Christianity to be friends. The damage is done and what he is now saying does not rectify this situation, it makes it all the more serious.
“There is no question in my mind that there has been a discernible pattern of sinning against LDS folks in this regard. I could show, for example, how Walter Martin oversimplified Mormon teachings in his much-read books. But here is an obvious example of more recent vintage: when Dave Hunt writes a whole book whose main thesis is that Mormonism is Satanic in its inspiration and practice, I think this is bearing false witness.”
Mr. Mouw, either Smith’s revelation which he claims came from the Father and the Son showing up on earth are true or it is false: a counterfeit. It doesn’t take much to figure this out. Even Mormons know this and they base everything on Joseph Smiths revelation. Their whole religion is based on him receiving the priesthood and restoring the church from apostasy.
Walter Martin always quoted Mormons sources when he contended for the faith and for the souls hanging in the balance. The Mormons did not question him because of the quotes but on his interpretation of the Bible, it is the authority of the Bible that was at stake. No, it is not Walter Martin, nor Dave Hunt who is a liar.
I want us to consider what Mouw is saying about Walter Martin in light of the guest speaker. Standing Together ministries asked of all people to speak the very one who edited the new edition of Walter Martin's Kingdom of the Cults. Doesn’t Mouw's rebuke include Zacharias also; if Martin is wrong is not Zacharias also wrong who endorsed Martin? What is going on here?
Mouw says: On a more technical point, I have received emails in the past few days where evangelicals have said that Mormonism teaches that God was once a human being like us, and we can become gods just like God now is. Mormon leaders have specifically stated that such a teaching, while stated by past leaders, is something they don't understand and has no functioning place in presentday Mormon doctrine. Bob Millet has made the same point to many of us, and Stephen Robinson insisted, in the book he co-authored with Craig Blomberg, that this is not an official Mormon teaching, even though it can be found in non-canonical Mormon writings. the Ostlings, in their book on Mormonism, reported that Mormon leaders insist that the idea that God is omnipotent, omniscience-and much unlike what we are or could ever be-is more accurate than the simple notion that we are all becoming gods like God the Father is. A number of LDSwriters have been formulating the “becoming God” theme in terms that are common in Eastern Orthodoxy: that “we shall be like Him” in the sense of I John, but that we will never be Him.
This is what they are now saying, but this is not acceptable for a number of reasons. First, those you cite are not official spokesman for the church, they do not make policy so it has no bearing. The most important point here is this; Joseph Smith taught it, President Brigham Young taught it and so did other presidents and prophets. They defined it as multiple gods over other worlds like god is over this world. These are the men the Mormon Church has built their teachings on. "The doctrine of a plurality of Gods is as prominent in the Bible as any other doctrine” (Joseph Smith History of the church, vol.6 pp.308,474). Mormon Apostle LeGrand Richards commented as, follows in a letter written in 1966: “There Is a statement often repeated in the Church, and while it is not in one of the Standard Church Works, it is accepted as Church doctrine, and this is: "As man is, God once was; as God man may become” (Letter from Apostle LeGrand Richards to Morris L. Reynolds, dated July 14, 1966)
Let me point out a major factor in Mormon theology, “And whatsoever they [Mormonism's leaders] shall speak WHEN MOVED UPON BY THE HOLY GHOST shall be SCRIPTURE” (Doctrine & Covenants 68:4). Did the Holy Ghost move Joseph Smith when he spoke his revelation of gods, and man becoming a god? If not then what was moving him?
President Young said, “In my doctrinal teachings I have taught many things not written in any book, ancient or modern, and ...I have never looked into the Bible, Book of Mormon, or the Doctrine and Covenants, or any of our church works to see whether they agreed with them or not. When I have spoken by THE POWER OF GOD AND THE HOLY GHOST, it is truth, it is SCRIPTURE, and I have no fears that it will agree with all that has been revealed in every particular (“LDS “Prophet” Brigham Young, Deseret News Weekly, June 6, 1877).
President Young after President Smith was the authority for the church at the time, just as President Hinkley is today. President Young said, “I say now, when they (his discourses) are copied and approved by me they are as good as scripture as couched in the Bible…”(Journal of Discourses vol.13 p.264 also p.95).
This is what they thought of their sermons. “I have never yet preached a sermon and sent it out to the children of men, that they may not call scripture. Let me have the privilege of correcting a sermon and it is as good scripture as they deserve” (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 13:95)
So this prophet considered what he said to be Mormon Scripture, this is what is found in the Journal of Discourses. They considered their sermons scripture and so did the church. Mormons saying, “this is not an official Mormon teaching, even though it can be found in non-canonical Mormon writings” (Mouw) is an absurd position, when the president and prophet who spoke it said it was as scripture. Are we to accept that the LDS magazines, all their publications, their pamphlets as not representing what they believe because it is not considered their CANONICAL writings? The official Mormon teachings happen to be no different than the statements that are found in non canonical writings (the LDS manual Gospel Principles).
Mouw has been fellowshipping with Millet and Millet who is not apostle or prophet for their church has been reinterpreting or what we may call revisioning the revelations spoken by their prophets and founder that have been a thorn in their side since the beginning. These were always held as revelation just as the other revelations. They still publish their book with statements from their prophets, they do quote the Journal of Discourses.
Mouw: Another point: I have been told by many evangelicals that Mormons believe that the atoning work of Jesus Christ was accomplished in Golgotha and not at Calvary. Bob Millet has demonstrated from Mormon writings this this is not true-if the Cross had not occurred, he says, we could not be saved.
Mouw shows his inability to understand this, he did not state the Mormons position correctly, Golgotha IS Calvary. What they are saying is Gethsemane is also the atonement (or part of it). In fact they are not saying just Gethsemane saves but also our works do. This is undeniable fact throughout their writings. Here is something to consider “The sacrament is an ordinance to remind us of Christ. The bread represents the body of Christ that he gave so all men could be resurrected. The water represents the blood Christ shed in Gethsemane where he atoned for the sins of all men” (Discussion I, The Uniform System for Teaching Families, P. 56).
Their own president stated: “It was in Gethsemane that Jesus took on Himself the sins of the world, in Gethsemane that His pain was equivalent to the cumulative burden of all men, in Gethsemane that He descended below all things so that all could repent and come to Him” (Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, pg.15). More can be cited in the Encyclopedia of Mormonism, under the heading of GETHSEMANE.
Is this our opinion or something they themselves teach?
Mouw continues: In none of this am I saying that Mormons are “orthodox Christians.” But I do believe that there are elements in Mormon thought that if emphasized, while de-emphasizing other element, could constitute a message within Mormonism of salvation by grace alone through the blood of Jesus Christ. I will work to promote that cause. Most of you will disagree with that approach. But at the very least admit that we have not always been fair in our wholesale condemnation of Mormonism as simply a false religion.”
Mormons are not even unorthodox Christians, Mr. Mouw. They are a cult that needs to reform the whole religion for it to even be considered moving toward orthodoxy. Can a bad tree bear good fruit? What tree was Joseph Smith?
Your heart may sincerely want to see Mormons come to Christ but how you are going about it is not the right way.Do we now take bits and pieces of religion to find common ground with them to be at peace or to work with them on social issues! What about the parts that are contradictory, diametrically opposing the Bible and damning souls? Are your intentions to de-emphasize the statements that are heresy and what they no longer understand (but did understand and wrote at great lengths about early on), eliminate the statements so Mormons can be considered Christian. Are you trying to Christianize a religion? I can't imagine a better model for a Diaprax.
Patronizing the Mormons does not work. Mormons are not budging from their position but I’m afraid that Mouw and others have. Your compromise is so evident yet you are unable to see what you are doing even when those who have labored for years in evangelism write you explaining the matter. Yes it is quite clear what you have done by your words at the tabernacle and your response now. You have sacrificed the evangelical reputation of loving Mormons in the past by their outreach efforts for your dialogue to continue, truth for the sake of unity. How fair are you in your assessments?
Here is what their former president has stated “Mormonism is true IN EVERY LEADING DOCTRINE, or it is false as a system altogether. ...'MORMONISM' IN THE ENTIRETY [is] THE REVELATION OF GOD, OR NOTHING AT ALL.” (Brigham Young, LDS Millennial Star, Vol. 27, pp. 675 - 676, 1865)
So according to their own prophet whose words are like Scripture, the whole thing is taken or rejected. In other words you cannot subtract what you want and readjust it.
President Wilford Woodruff - speaking of Smith “ ... He told him the Gospel was not among men, and that there was not a true organization of His kingdom in the world” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 2, p. 196 (1855).
Even in modern times one of their apostles said, “there is no salvation outside the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” (Bruce McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, Page 670)
How are we to understand these statements and the numerous others like them? Are we to ignore them? Why not have the Mormons repent of them and then we can have honest dialogue. Certainly Mormons know what repentance on this means.
Mouw: “Second, some folks are upset about what they took as a call from me for evangelicals to join in the celebrations of the bicentennial of Joseph Smith's birth. I can see how people heard me say that we evangelicals should join in “celebrating” Joseph Smith's birthday, but that is not what I intended to say. Instead I said that I hoped that many evangelicals would participate in those events that would allow us all to “pay special attention to Joseph's life and teachings” during this year.
It’s not only how we perceive but how the Mormons do as well. They appreciate what you said; we on the other hand do not. If these events are about Joseph's life and teachings that take place during his 200th anniversary, and you “hope many in the evangelical community will take part in those events.” How is this any different than what you first said? We understand what you mean. Why would you even recommend this? Smith’s teachings have significance for Mormons not the Christians. Only if you want us moved toward their belief system would you recommend us to participate.
Mouw: “But ordinary evangelicals do not have opportunities to engage in those kinds of serious theological panels--thus I was talking too much as an elitist!”
Well admitted, and you still are. Unfortunately people like yourself who are ill equipped on the issues have taken the helm in these dialogues and from your own words have made it evident that you have been influenced wrongly. You’re not our quarterback on these matters. You represent to us the modern liberal view of today. Doing things another way then the Bible’s principles or guidelines. Fuller College has long been influenced in third wave concepts so none of this is surprising. In one article Fuller’s website describes itself as the “front lines of evangelical thought.” While we all want to dialogue and see war cease, we see The Fuller project was developed funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, and led by Sherwood Lingenfelter, Fuller's provost and senior vice president is intended to build bridges with Muslims. It affirms a mutual belief in one God and pledge not to proselytize.” Called “a conflict resolution program.” “We hope to lead a large portion of evangelical Christians into a better understanding of Islam,” said Sherwood Lingenfelter. David Augsburger, the project director at Fuller stated, “Because the major rhetoric on this is religious, it is highly important for us to seek to transform the floor of understanding between our two major groups,” he said. John Revell, spokesman for the Southern Baptists' executive committee said “For Fuller to declare that Christians and Muslims worship the same God would be a radical departure, not only from the evangelical tradition but also the tenets of orthodox Christianity.” (Seminary Is Reaching Out to Muslims, Los Angeles Times (USA), Dec. 6, 2003 http://www.latimes.com By Teresa Watanabe, Times Staff Writer)
Is this the new type of evangelism being touted; make peace, and conflict resolution. Welcome to the new evangelicalism of the 21st century.
Here is what Mormons are right about, “many of the Christian churches worship a different Jesus than is worshipped by the Mormons or the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” (Bernard P. Brockbank, The Ensign, May 1977, p. 26). This is not addressing century old Mormonism but 21st century Mormons that explain how they understand it even today.
Mouw: “At the same time, I would think this would be a wonderful opportunity to put on some events in Utah, perhaps in cooperation with local LDS folks, where people talk together about some basic themes in Joseph's thought. In our quiet dialogues, for example, we--evangelicals and LDS together--find many of his earliest statements to come close to a traditional Reformation (and Epistle to the Romans!) emphasis on salvation by grace alone, the unique substitutionary work of Christ on the Cross (and not just in Golgotha) and so on. The statements from D&C that I quoted, for example, sound straight out of an evangelical sermon. My own view is that instead of arguing primarily about the things we find offensive in Mormonism, it would be good to spend some time reflecting together about what we mean when we both say that Jesus alone saves,. and that he paid the debt for our sin on Calvary.
Yes but as I already pointed out what does what Joseph Smith said prior to the quote is more important and was overlooked.
After hearing what Mr. Mouw said openly to the Mormons and embarrassing those who witness Jesus Christ of the Scriptures to them. I can only imagine what he is saying behind closed doors in his secret meetings with them. This “seeker friendly apologetics” is not the way to reach people who are blinded by the enemy of their souls.
How can you say this come close to Romans is beyond words? Your statement We--evangelicals and LDS together explains it all Mr. Mouw.
Are we now redeeming religions? Is it your position that we ignore what divides us, get rid of the problems that are part of their teachings from the beginning so we can make unity? We have ALREADY reflected what they mean in their writings; we have gone to the Word (the Bible) that tells us what is false by the truth. We cannot resolve the differences by denying them, so that our perceived separateness will then dissolve and produce unity for one another. Eph.4 says we can only have unity by the Spirit, which is delivered to those who believe the true gospel and the true Jesus Christ. You can’t make a unity with a church that denies the unity of the Spirit through the true gospel, which Joseph Smith said we did not possess. This is seeking a unity outside the Biblical parameters. The Holy Spirit does not lead us to diminish, nor compromise Bible doctrine for unity. We ask you to reconsider your position.
Mouw states: For the record: I do not believe Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God; I do not accept the Book of Mormon as a legitimate revelation; I do not believe that temple baptism saves; I do not believe that all people will be saved. And it is precisely because of this that when my good friend Bob Millet says that his only plea when he gets to heaven is “the mercy and merit of Jesus Christ,” I want to respond by saying with enthusiasm, “Let's keep talking!”
Nicely said, except, if he doesn’t come the way Jesus said, or believe who Jesus said He was, thinking he will get to heaven and ask for this will be too late.
We have been talking, discussing, debating all along. You seem to imply that until you and your associates came along there has not been this activity. The difference is no secret, we are not out to change the Mormon church, but help people exit out of the Mormon church by the gospel delivered to us through the Bible into Jesus Christ's church that has been there since it began.
With all that you have said prior to this, you have for the most part contradicted yourself. You have just admitted:
1. Smith is not true prophet
2. The Book of Mormon is not a true revelation
3. Their temple ritual is not effective
4. That not all will be saved denying the Mormons view of Christ’s salvation.
This is enough for all of the religion of Mormonism to crumble, not to mention their holding to a plurality of gods, a mother in heaven, we become gods, we must do works to be saved, we must be baptized by the Mormon authority, Jesus and Satan are spirit brothers, etc. etc. Again as I stated earlier either Smith’s revelation is either true or it is false. Since you admit Smith was not true prophet how can you justify anything he said to be right?
For there to be any real genuine change the Mormon Church would have to renounce their own founder and prophet[s], remove these writings so we see a genuine move toward reform. Then they would be able to lead millions together in repentance to be born again. If they do this we would certainly rejoice together, until then, we cannot stand together.
Mouw: I hope this helps a little. I am deeply sorry for causing distress in the evangelical community. I make no apology for wanting to foster gentle and reverent dialogue with Mormon friends. But I want people to be upset with me only about things I really meant to say--and I failed on this occasion, on one important point, to make my case clearly enough.
Mr. Mouw, you can dialog the way you wish, just as we are allowed to. We are not asking for an apology because of your friendship toward them but for what you have said about us. But you have been hoodwinked. I tell you this in all sincerity. You need to not make an excuse for what you have done but change your course of action, ASAP. I believe Mr. Mouw now needs to dialogue with evangelical apologists who have an expertise in Mormonism and other cults to rectify the situation he has now made. Certainly, if you have dialogued with Mormons for years you can return this courtesy to us.
Again let me reassure anyone reading this, we tell them the truth because we love them. Those who ignore the differences and do not present the truth to them do not love the Mormons, instead they promote themselves as being more tolerant and civil. Theres much more to this than meets the eye.
We will continue to show what Mormonism teaches and refute it. We love Mormons, make no mistake about that, and that is why we will continue to be as firm and persuasive and convicting as we can be, using their own statements to show that Mormonism is not leading to the Jesus Christ of the Scripture written by the apostles the Lord himself chose. The gospel still offends. Loving Mormons and anyone else for that matter means that you tell them truth in love--not love without the truth. If you mean we have offended them by explaining the gospel and the plain and precious parts they do not understand, then we are guilty.