[This post is a work in progress as part of the CAA Catechism.]
[Add the title only in the title field, not in the body of the post.]
Summary in 400 words or less:
Latter-Day Saint (LDS) scholar Stephen Robinson writes, “Latter-day Saints and Evangelicals do not understand each other very well, and much of what we say about each other is untrue.” (How-Wide-the-Divide-p.10). We concur.
With the above in mind, this evaluation will succinctly cover two main areas. 1) LDS historical roots 2) The Mormon Gospel
Historically, in 1820, the LDS church began with Joseph Smith. In his teens, he was deeply confused which denomination was certainly the right one (Joseph Smith History 1:8).
Perplexed, he looked to James 1:5 which basic says if anyone lacks wisdom ask God (Jas 1:5a). This profoundly impacted Smith, because for him, he could not appeal to the Bible, because other denominations were. He had to go directly to God. (History 1:11-13). The Lord revealed their teachings/hearts were far from him (17-19).
More specifically, the church committed the “Great Apostasy” (100 A.D). Consequently, the church lost authority/blessings (Encyclopedia-of-Mormonism, 1992, p.52). This was mainly restored through what was revealed to Smith (i.e. Book of Mormon) and the authority he pass on, though was martyred (1844). The true church is here (LDS).
Evaluative question: Contemporarily, there are hundreds of different Mormon traditions. Which one is certainly the right one?*
The gospel of Mormonism is often referred to by apologists specializing in ministry to Mormons as “The Impossible Gospel”. We will evaluate two major reasons that this monicker is appropriate, that the Mormon Gospel is works-based and that repentance is not practically possible in Mormonism.
Firstly the Mormon Gospel is based on works and not faith. This is evident from the Book of Mormon book 2 Nephi chapters 25 & 31 which describe that salvation is through human effort and not faith (2 Nephi 25:23*, 31:16-21).
Secondly, the Book of Mormon in the book of Alma 11 lays out the difficulty of repentance (Alma 11:37). It is also very clear in Doctrines and Covenants that if you repent and then sin again all of your former sins return (D&C 82:7).
Understanding both the history of Mormonism and the idea of “The Impossible Gospel” are essential tools in evangelizing to people of LDS faith. Another tool, however, that is often forgotten in these types of situations, is the tool of grace and love. The next time a Mormon comes to your home, talk to him in grace and love and don’t just slam the door.
Evaluative question: If repentance is not possible, is there any true assurance of salvation?
Scripture for YouVersion:
1 Corinthians 1:10-13
2 Nephi 25:23 *certain Mormon Scholars such as Robinson mentioned above have offered defenses for this verse that seem to make sense, but most Mormon Bishops and members of the LDS church hold to this verse meaning and emphasizing a works based theology, which is why we mention it in this sense.
2 Nephi 31: 16-21
http://oneminuteapologist.com/searchpage#mormon (especially videos 555 and 554)
Three questions (one fill-in-the-blank, one multiple choice, one discussion question):
- After Joseph Smith’s death, in order to continue the one true restored church, which person did he certainly pass true authority to in order to accomplish this goal A) James J. Strang, B) Alpheus Cutler, C) David Whitmer, D) Joseph Smith III; E) Unknown (source: Scattering Saints, p. viii)
- The book of Mormon book most helpful when discussing the works-based gospel of Mormonism is ___________
- How can the questionable history of Mormonism and “The Impossible Gospel” work together to prove that Mormonism is, theologically speaking, a cult and not a true denomination of Christianity?
References for further reading:
Craig L. Blomberg and Stephen E. Robinson, How Wide The Divide? A Mormon and Evangelical in Conversation. Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity, 1997.
Robert L. Millet and Gregory C.V. Johnson, Bridging The Divide: The Continuing Conversation Between a Mormon and an Evangelical. Rhinebeck, NY; Monkfish Publishing, 2007.
*Newell G Bringhurst and John C. Hamer ed. Scattering of the Saints: Schism Within Mormonism. John Whitmer Books, 2007; Documents they have had many divisions since it’s conception (Google search can at least suggest, if not show this as well).
Collaborators: Jonathan Hanna, Mike Alexander Perry
[Add your name here only if you have created this topic or contributed valuable content or editing to this topic.]
[Add a copyright-free, relevant image to the body of the post (click the Add Media button), as well as going back in and selecting it as the featured image.]
Type “YES” and contact Maryann when at least three collaborators agree this is ready to be shared with YouVersion: