QUESTIONS FROM LATTER-DAY SAINTS
Why do you feel the need to focus many of your efforts on Mormonism?
In brief, because we care about them, and we believe that eternity is at stake for those who reject the truth about Jesus Christ. We are situated in an LDS-dominated community, and many of the members of our congregation are former Mormons. We all have neighbors, friends, family, and loved ones who are Mormons. We hold that the teachings of Mormonism concerning the gospel, Jesus Christ and who God is, are contrary to that which is found in the Bible, and contrary to that which is taught by Christianity. We believe that truth matters, and eternal truths matter eternally; why wouldn't we want to share important truths with people we care about? We also invite you to read our open letter to Mormons for more information on why we do what we do.
Mormons don’t attack other religions. Why are you attacking Mormonism?
First of all, don't confuse "challenge" with "attack". We challenge the doctrines and teachings of Mormonism based on truth, not out of spite or a desire to be argumentative. The truth matters. Falsehoods, therefore, have to be addressed if one is honestly seeking truth.
We harbor no ill will toward the people who we believe are caught in deception, and in fact, it is out of concern for them that we do what we are doing. It is not our aim to fight against any religion for arguments' sake. We have no desire to "attack" anyone. (And if there is anything in our materials that you consider to be hateful or untrue, we invite you to bring it to our attention and tell us why!)
We strive to uphold truth according to the Bible. We are fighting for, not against, people who have been deceived. We do this by making available important information about the deceptiveness of Mormon teachings, and about the Truth that can set people free. We make this information available to anyone who wants to examine it. It is not forced on anyone; people are free to accept it, reject it, or ignore it altogether. Our hope, however, is that people will at least hear what we have to say, and examine for themselves whether what we say is true or not.
Do you consider Mormonism to be Christian?
The doctrines and teachings of Mormonism are quite different from the teachings and doctrines of historic Christianity; therefore, it is not logical to call Mormonism "Christian" unless you drastically re-define the term "Christian" from what it has meant for the past 2000 years. The differences are not minor ones, they are fundamental ones. The very things that have defined historical Christianity are rejected by Mormonism--the authority of the Bible, the nature of God, the nature of Man, the way of salvation…these are all entirely different in Mormon teachings. Mormonism embraces doctrines and scriptures that reject biblical doctrine and teachings. On that basis alone, Mormonism cannot be categorized as "Christian."
The desire of Mormonism to be viewed as "Christian" and a part of the broader Christian community is ironic and perplexing, because historically, Mormonism defined itself by its separation from Christianity, and condemned Christianity as a whole as apostate and corrupt. It begs the question: What changed? How is it that Mormonism is now trying to sidle up next to Christianity and say, “we are Christians, too”?
We have the name “Jesus Christ” in our Church. Why would you say we aren't Christian?
Simply incorporating the name "Jesus Christ" does not make something "Christian," especially when fundamental aspects of Jesus' teachings about Himself are ignored or rejected in Mormon teachings.
Mormons do believe in the existence of a historical man named Jesus; however, the nature of Jesus, the reason he came, and the salvation that he offers is completely different from historic, Bible-based Christianity. Even LDS President Gordon B. Hinckley had said on several occasions that the Jesus of Mormonism is different from the Jesus of traditional Christianity. The Jesus of Christianity is God Himself, eternal and all powerful, who is alone worthy of worship and honor. The Jesus of Mormonism is a created being, a brother of Lucifer, an exalted man who is in the process of eternal progression, just like God the Father, and someone who man can become exactly like.
So this is why informed biblical Christians will say that the Jesus of Mormonism is different from the Jesus of Christianity.
Aren't we called to be "Christ-like"? Why do you reject the possibility, then, of men becoming gods?
Of course we are called to be Christ-like. We are called to conform to him--to emulate his attitudes, his character, his values, his conduct. Some Mormons, however, take this a step further and say that it means we are to become a god, just as Jesus became a god. This idea is completely and soundly rejected in the Bible. FIrst of all, Jesus did not "become" a god; he has always been God. And God clearly states that He alone is God; there never was a God before him, nor shall there be any other gods after Him. If those undeniable statements in the Bible are taken as truthful, then it is impossible to believe that men can become gods. That is idea is not only rejected, but considered to be blasphemous, in the Bible.
Aren’t you paid for what you do? Isn’t that a sign of "priestcraft" corruption?
It's true that many people in Christian ministry draw salaries for their work. We who work full-time at Main Street Church draw modest salaries, as well, derived entirely from the gifts of people who value and support the ministry of the church, and who give freely and not under compulsion or expectation.
The idea that paid clergy is a sign of corruption is not found in the Bible. In fact, the Bible says just the opposite—that those who work at preaching the Gospel should earn their living from the Gospel (1 Corinthians 9:14). This is a command of God, actually, that a worker for the Gospel should be worth his wages, and supported by those who benefit from the work. And this is how most Christian churches operate, or at least should operate--purely on the basis of freewill offerings, given without heavy-handed tithing requirements, guilt trips, or holding "worthiness" over peoples' heads. The New Testament's teachings on giving in the church actually do not ever mention tithing. The biblical principle is simply to decide in one's heart what to give, and to give it cheerfully. That's it.
Compare this with Mormonism's tithing requirements, where paying a full tithe is an expectation of all members, and failure to comply endangers their status as members in good standing, and their access to the temples. In addition, there are many people who are in the full-time employment of the LDS Church who are paid full salaries for their work (as well they should be). So why do Mormons not consider this "priestcraft"?
The Book of Mormon is another testament of Jesus Christ; why do you reject it?
We reject the Book of Mormon not because it speaks of Jesus, but because it is not historically true. Regardless of what it may or may not say about Jesus, if the history it presents is not real history, then how can it be the Word of God? It is against God’s character to lie, and He would not put forth something as truth that is clearly shown to be false.
We have produced a substantial body of work that explains why the Book of Mormon is not what it claims to be, and we invite you to check out our videos and other web materials to learn why we make these claims.
Isn't faith that demands evidence to back it up, not true "faith"?
Actually quite the opposite is true. Faith is all about our confidence in God based upon our understanding of who He is. Believers in Jesus have faith in Jesus because he has actually proven himself faithful in our lives! If that were not so, then faith would have no basis.
God makes his presence known constantly. He wants to be known. He wants all people to come to Him. If the Bible is a true and accurate book, then it would by necessity leave historical fingerprints, which it does in abundance.
The claim is sometimes made in Mormon circles that God has either hidden or removed evidence that would otherwise support the historical claims of the Book of Mormon, as a means of testing faith. Why would God do such a thing? This would make God out to be a liar or a trickster. Paul says in the book of Romans that God has made his presence abundantly clear in the very essence of Creation. In addition, the archaeology of the Middle East fits well with the Biblical historical record. And this would be expected if the Bible is historically true.
So to suggest that somehow faith that rests upon evidence is weak, wrong, or man-made is completely inconsistent with the way God has chosen to freely reveal Himself in the past.
Don’t you believe in continuing revelation?
Of course, Christians do believe that God speaks with his people today. But He doesn’t change his character. His doctrines do not change. His truth does not change. In fact, that is how we test whether something is from God or not—is it consistent with what He has already revealed in the past? Jesus Christ is the culmination of God’s revelation to mankind on earth, and he has already provided all that is necessary for salvation—Himself!
Jesus' coming to Earth was all about redemption and restoring our broken relationship with God, and making it possible for us to spend eternity with Him…it was not about starting us on a road to exaltation to godhood. God's primary purpose for mankind is that we be in relationship with Him and spend eternity with Him. He has revealed all we need to know for this to be possible. So in that sense, what other "revelation" is needed to accomplish this?
Mormonism sometimes criticizes traditional Christianity for the so-called "closed canon," that is, the idea that the Bible, in its current form, is not to be added to or taken away from. In reality, the "closed canon" idea simply acknowledges the fact that the Bible, in its current form, provides us with all the instruction we need for living God-pleasing lives, and most importantly, for salvation and eternal life. What could possibly add to such an indescribable gift? What does the Book of Mormon claim to offer that improves upon what the Bible has already given us?
The idea of continuing revelation, in the Mormon sense, has many problems. The "continuing revelation" of Mormonism ends up painting a picture of a God who is inconsistent and flaky, and perhaps even deceptive. These "new revelations" aren't just a matter of revealing new truth, but contradicting and revising old truth, adding new requirements (suggesting that God withheld vital salvation information from his people for centuries), and going back on His word. This is not the God of the Bible. This is a god that is an invention of man.
What about the Great Apostacy?
There are many problems with the idea of a universal Great Apostacy. First of all, it is historically inaccurate, and based upon a faulty understanding of early church history. Has there been apostacy? Of course there has, and there will continue to be. The Bible even discusses this. But nothing in the Bible or in history suggests that the apostacy was ever total and universal.
Secondly, it is contrary to Jesus' promise that He would remain with us always, as opposed to abandoning the church to total apostacy for 1800 years, as Mormon teaching would teach. If all authority left the church with the death of the apostles, then what does this say about Jesus' ability to indwell His people through the Holy Spirit (as he promised), keep His Word and hold His Church together? Christianity serves a Jesus who is all-powerful and keeps His promises; it is not based on human strength or ability, but upon His. If the Great Apostacy were a true idea, it would mean that Jesus was incapable and ineffective, or just didn't care about His people.
How can you function without a Living Prophet?
We absolutely have a living prophet--the Living Jesus! Jesus opened the way for each of us to gain access to Himself directly; not through a merely human prophet, nor any kind of chain of command, nor earthly institution, but a direct and personal connection and relationship with Him. That is at the core of authentic Christianity—a relationship with Jesus.
To uphold a Living Prophet as the only authority and mouthpiece of God on Earth is a very dangerous (and unbiblical) thing, because you are looking first to a fallible man, and not to a perfect God. Even the prophets of the Old Testament never dared to lay claim to the kind of reverence and authority that the LDS prophet demands. In fact, they were rarely ever people who held positions of authority in any institution. In fact, they were often at odds with the institutions!
Latter-day prophets also have failed the biblical test of a prophet. Historically, they have given false prophecies, which disqualify them automatically. And they have, and continue, to declare and uphold unbiblical doctrine, which also disqualifies them as true prophets of God.
How can you function without priesthood authority?
Christians do function with priesthood authority. But the idea of "priesthood authority" in Mormonism is different from the biblical concept. According to the Bible, Jesus Himself is our High Priest, and the only one who holds the “Melchizedek” priesthood (which is not the same thing as the Melchizedek priesthood in Mormonism).
Jesus completed once and for all the purpose of the Aaronic priesthood, and thus made it obsolete. This is not a rejection of the Aaronic priesthood--it is recognizing that it has fully and finally completed the purpose that God gave it. The Aaronic priesthood was established by God to perform sacrifices to atone for the people’s sin; Jesus Christ came to be the perfect and final sacrifice, and thus fulfill the old system, which was a foreshadowing of the ultimate purpose of God--to draw His people to himself through Jesus Christ's sacrifice.
So now we who are in Jesus Christ are part of what is called the priesthood of believers. It is conferred upon us by Jesus Christ when we place our faith in Him; it is not something that can be given by a human ordinance or institution. Jesus lives in all true believers, through the Holy Spirit, and it is this intimate and personal connection with God that enables us to function as a priesthood. This priesthood is available to all--young children and adults, men and women, people of any race or background--it is available to all who will turn their lives over to Jesus Christ, in spirit and truth, and place their trust in Him alone for eternal life.
How can you trust the Bible when it has been translated and re-translated so many times?
First of all, we need to distinguish between "translation" and "transmission." Translation is the copying of a text from one language to another; and transmission is about maintaining the accuracy of the original text through the ages.
Textual criticism is the science of determining what the original documents actually said, in their original languages, based on comparing the manuscripts (in the original Greek and Hebrew) that have survived. The Bible has thousands of surviving manuscripts from which to work. The Bible is the most well-documented and well-preserved and accurate ancient text in all of history. The original Greek and Hebrew texts can be studied by anyone who cares to learn these languages, and many do. And through extensive textual criticism, students of the Greek and Hebrew texts can know that what they study--with an extremely high degree of certainty--are essentially the same as those that were first penned.
“Translation” however, becomes an issue when you go from the original languages to a different language. So yes, a translated Bible needs to be translated correctly in order to be trustworthy. All standard translations of the Bible have been done through collaborative efforts of hundreds of scholars who know the ancient languages. This was true of the King James version of the Bible, and it’s true of the modern English translations; they are translated directly from the original languages.
Mormons often believe that modern English translations are simply paraphrases of the King James; this is not at all true. All the popular modern translations are faithul, scholarly translations based on the original Greek and Hebrew texts. If there is any doubt as to the accuracy of a translation, one only need refer to the original text, which are freely available.
Compare all of this with the Book of Mormon. There are no manuscripts available in the purported original language of "Reformed Egyptian". In fact, there is no knowledge at all of any such language in all of ancient history. Therefore, the earliest manuscript is the English translation which Joseph Smith claims to have translated on his own (by the "gift and power of God"). This is a dangerous amount of faith to place upon the word of one fallible man. If the translation was truly done by the gift and power of God, why have there been so many changes to the text--not just typographical changes, but changes that affect meaning and even doctrine?
And then this raises the question: since English is the earliest known language in which the Book of Mormon exists, all other language translations of the book are actually two languages removed from the original supposed language of Reformed Egyptian. And even if this is not a concern, what makes non-English translations of the Book of Mormon more reliable than non-Greek or Hebrew translations of the Bible?
You guys get all hung up on "The Trinity" and it's not even in the Bible. What gives?
True, you won't find the word "Trinity" in the Bible, but you do find the concept in the Bible. The simplest explanation of the doctrine of the Trinity is that it is a way of understanding the Bible's declaration that there is only one God, and yet that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are all God, all of which are ideas that come straight from the Bible. Hence the term "trinity," or three in one. (For that matter, the Book of Mormon promotes this idea very plainly.)
Theologians have been trying to figure out a way of explaining it for nearly two thousand years. They come up with explanations and analogies, some of which may be helpful in understanding the idea, but really, any attempt to quantify and fully understand an infinite God will ultimately prove imperfect at best.
But it all goes back to a biblical understanding of One God, manifested in three persons. The Bible doesn't really go into the mechanics of how that works, but it stands to reason that what 1 Timothy 3:16 says is true: that the God of the Universe becoming flesh is a great mystery. For a bit more on this topic, read this article.
The Bible has lost “plain and precious portions”. How can you trust that it is complete?
This belief is often accompanied by an erroneous understanding of the history of how the Bible came to be. It is often taught that the current "canon" of scripture was arbitrarily imposed by the Council of Nicea because of political pressure. The reality is that the canon as it stands had essentially been informally recognized by Christians both inside and outside of the Roman empire (therefore not subject to the influence of the Roman government).
This certainly stands to reason, if we accept the idea that God lives in individual believers through the Holy Spirit, as the Bible teaches. He does not require some authority structure to accomplish His will, but rather, organically established the Bible through the believers who trusted in Him for guidance. So in reality, the Nicean council did little more than formally recognize the canon as it had already been commonly, "organically" established over the previous centuries.
Sometimes reference is made to the the rejection of the so-called "gnostic gospels". The thing is, they weren't simply rejected by the Nicean council, they were generally rejected by individual Christians and congregations, both inside and outside of the Roman world. And they were rejected for good reason--these writings were known to not originate from eyewitness accounts of Jesus Christ and His ministry. In many cases, they appeared several hundred years after the death and resurrection of Christ. So it was their questionable origins and their bizarre and inconsistent contents that eliminated them, not some kind of political pressure from Rome.
We can trust in the completeness of the Bible for the same reason we can trust in its accurate transmission throughout the ages. History and textual criticism has shown that there hasn’t been any systematic change, addition, or removal from the Bible. There is an extremely rich textual history that supports the completeness and accuracy of the Bible. For more information on this subject, click here.
You have all those “Christian” churches out there that can’t agree on anything, how can you possibly claim to have ‘the truth’?
Mormonism teaches that all these different Christian denominations are at odds with one another, and that they are all vying for the title as the “one true church” to the exclusion of all others.
This is categorically false. All churches of true Christianity—and there are many of them out there—embrace a core set of fundamental doctrines that are uncompromised; these doctrines of salvation--the nature of God, the nature of Man, and how their relationship is restored--are what make a Christian church “Christian.” Yes, there are many different denominations, and yes, they do have their differences. And they may even differ sharply on certain issues.
But that is NOT the same thing as believing that "our church is the only true Christian church" and that all other churches are not Christian. The only thing that excludes a church from the "fold" of traditional Christianity is the rejection of those fundamental, biblical doctrines of salvation. The unifying doctrines of historic Christianity, joined to a genuine faith in and relationship with Jesus, are the things that allow us to call one another "brothers and sisters in Christ" across denominational lines.
We at Main Street Church are not out to market our “brand” of Christianity; we just want people to know Jesus Christ for Who He is. Do we claim to “have the truth”? Yes, in the sense that we point to the person of truth, Jesus Christ, and the Bible as God’s word. But we can hardly take credit for that truth; we didn’t invent it, we didn’t dream it up, it’s not our “opinion” or "just our interpretation." It is the plain and simple truth that can set people free, and we have been set free by it; we want to share it with all who will listen.
What gives you the right to subject Mormons to this type of “propaganda”?
We don’t force anyone to sit and watch our materials. We make information about the errors of Mormon teaching available to anyone who wants it. People are free to watch it or ignore it or throw it away.
But don’t forget the thousands of missionaries who are sent out to teach others about the LDS Church, and to seek converts to Mormonism. Many of those initial knocks at the door are unsolicited. This is certainly more imposing and potentially intimidating than, say, a website. Now, don't get us wrong. We recognize their right to tell people about Mormonism; however we will continue to exercise our own right—actually, our biblical responsibility—to demonstrate that what they are teaching is not true. We want everyone to know the goodness and unconditional love of God that Jesus Christ has shown us. Part of this is showing the difference between what is true and what is false. This is the objective of the information we make available.
I have a testimony of the truthfulness of Mormonism; why should I rely on human wisdom and so-called “evidence”?
Subjective feelings and positive experiences, no matter how strong or positive, are not reliable determiners of truth. Truth must be truth, regardless of how you feel about it. People of other faiths--Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, for example--have had similar experiences of "testimony" and yet the "truths" they proclaim still conflict with one another. So if nothing else, this indicates that the standard of truth has to exist outside of our own limited experience and emotions.
In practically every other area of our lives, we all know that the way we feel about something is not a very good determination of truth. Most of us realize that ultimately, truth is truth, regardless of whether we like it or not, whether we acknowledge it or not, or whether we believe it or not. Yet when it comes to Mormonism, truth suddenly becomes a matter of internal feelings that represent a "testimony."
Biblical Christianity, however, recognizes that Truth is fundamental, universal, and absolute. Faith, therefore, must be based on truth, not on subjective feelings, which change from day to day, and vary from person to person.
In fact, there are biblical warnings about trusting such experiences. For example, in 1 John 4:1, the Bible warns that we are not to believe every spirit, for not every spirit is of God. If even Satan can appear as an angel of light, then it stands to reason that good, warm, positive feelings and spiritual experiences can be deceptive, and perhaps in some cases, can even come from Satan himself. No where does the Bible require that we ask for a special feeling of assurance to determine whether or not it is true. The Bible invites challenges to its authenticity. It wants to be tested, and has been tested, and has a remarkable amount of real-world, tangible evidence to back it up.
On the flip side, evidence can be used to show some things to be false. With the Book of Mormon, for example, the evidence points to the conclusion that it is not true history as it claims to be. If it is a false history, then how can it be the Word of God, unless you accept that God wants to propagate a lie?
Why do you rely upon science and “man’s wisdom” to prove or disprove spiritual things?
There are aspects of faith that will always elude the scientist's microscope. But there are many things that can be proven or disproven scientifically, so let’s take a look at those.
The Book of Mormon contains a narrative which claims to be real history. If that history is true, then it has to leave evidence behind. It won’t be a complete picture, but it would have to leave at least some real evidence in the real world. The trouble is, it doesn’t. Many different disciplines, including genetics, archaeology, anthropology, geography, linguistics, textual criticism, history, have unanimously rejected the Book of Mormon as a true history. It's not simply a matter of a lack of evidence; it's a matter of contrary evidence. If the history contained in the Book of Mormon has been shown to not be real history, then how can you put faith in its spiritual claims?
So what about the Bible? The Bible speaks of people that are known to have lived, events that are known to have occurred, places that are known to have existed, and in many cases still exist. Empires, cultures, peoples, agriculture, languages, and technology described in the Bible have been validated on a large scale by many different disciplines, outside of the Bible.
Mormons who defend the Book of Mormon's historicity by pointing to the lack of evidence for certain Biblical events ("Find me evidence that Jesus turned the water into wine!") are missing the point entirely. We're not talking about isolated events that are unlikely to leave a physical trace behind; we are talking about things that MUST leave evidence--empires, cities, writings, a material culture, etc. The Bible has an abundance of this type of evidence. The Book of Mormon has none of it.
If the Book of Mormon had the same kind of evidence in its favor that the Bible has, then it would be far more reasonable to give its miracles and its teachings a fair hearing. But as it stands, how can we rely upon it for spiritual truth if it can’t even pass the test of physical truth?
How do you get your name taken off the rolls of the LDS Church?
The following link provides good resources for how to accomplish this: