Most people act like they aren’t home if they see them coming—those rather plain, but nicely dressed missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints who work their way through residential neighborhoods trying to convert others to their beliefs. If, however, they happen to show up on a day when I have some free time, I’ll engage in their dialogue. So it was several years ago when two “elders”—they weren’t very old—happened to stop by our home.
The depth of my questions caught them off guard, and so, recognizing my interest in religious matters, they invited my wife and me as “fellow Christians” to a local Mormon home for dinner. Debi and I agreed to join them, and for the most part, had an enjoyable evening. Mormons are usually very nice people.
Once again, the conversation turned toward Mormon beliefs, and once again, they weren’t quite prepared to discuss deeper issues of Mormon doctrine such as “human deity.” One of the guys assured me that his dad would be up for the challenge because, having studied Mormonism and Christianity extensively, he was more or less a Mormon apologist.
I must admit that I found the idea of dialoging with a Mormon apologist to be somewhat intimidating. My concern was further heightened when I received my first email from Dennis. Wow was it long! As I began to carefully sift through his correspondence, two clear realizations emerged. First, Dennis’ ideas were mostly conjecture and had very little substance or supporting evidence. Second, even though we used much of the same terminology, the meanings behind those terms differed vastly.
The nature of God makes an excellent case in point because, after all, they claim to be “the Church of Jesus Christ.” From a conservative Christian perspective, Jesus came to earth as the Son of God incarnate—that is God in human form. Jesus is part of the Godhead (Trinity), which consists of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It’s terribly difficult to grasp the concept that God could be three and yet one, but then again, He is the Creator of our vast Universe. Furthermore, Satan, the arch-nemesis of Jesus is a fallen angel who rebelled against Heaven, and being vastly inferior in power, was thrown down to earth from his once lofty status.
Mormons believe that God the Father was once a man like any other man. By purifying Himself, the Father then rose to a place of supremacy over His own unique cosmic sphere. There’s an old Mormon saying that states, “As man is, God once was. As God is, man may become.” Mormons further believe that Jesus and Lucifer were God’s children—“spirit brothers,” if you will. Jesus was chosen to become the God of our earth, which made Lucifer quite jealous. This led to his outright opposition to Christ and a new moniker, Satan, which means “adversary.”
The Law of Eternal Progression
Mormons believe that all of this activity is part of what some call “The Law of Eternal Progression.” That means that if Mormon men trust in Jesus and strictly adhere to Mormon beliefs, they will one day rule over their own planets. These were the concepts that our polite Mormon missionaries were either ill-equipped or unwilling to discuss.
If you know much about the Christian faith, you can see that rather than being alike, Mormonism and Christianity are, at their core, very much at odds. Truly biblical Christian doctrine would never allow for the idea of humans becoming gods. Instead, it would contend that the human quest for deity is a root problem of sin.
“Christian” Doesn’t Always Mean Christian
Language matters, and when it comes to religious beliefs that have eternal consequences, our word meanings matters even more. “Christian” in our culture doesn’t always mean Christian in the biblical sense of the word.
When people say that Christians should model “God’s love” by embracing religious pluralism and cultural perspectives of sexuality, they are using biblical terminology, but with alternative meanings.
To love God with our whole hearts is to graciously stand for biblical truth regardless of the cost. We never want to stop loving others, regardless of their beliefs, but neither should we allow ourselves to be cajoled, shamed, or intimidated by those whose agendas actually oppose the kingdom of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Image by Ary Scheffer , via Wikimedia Commons