Mormon Definitions: Trinity

“It is a sad fact that the doctrine of the Trinity has been believed in but rarely preached on in our churches. Living these last few years in Singapore, sandwiched between the two Islamic countries of Malaysia and Indonesia, I have half-humorously, half-seriously commented to Christian leaders, “We all believe in the Trinity, but we pray to the Trinity that nobody would question us about the Trinity!” The doctrine is felt to be irrelevant if not an outright and unnecessary complication imposed on the simple belief in the One God.” – Ravi Zacharius

trinityMormons believe in a Jesus. According to Mormon.org under Jesus Christ, “But what do we mean when we say He is the Savior of the world? The Redeemer? Each of these titles point to the truth that Jesus Christ is the only way…” But they believe in three separate beings. Three gods.

The Mormon newsroom says, “Latter-day Saints believe God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to save all mankind from their sins (see John 3:16). God is a loving Heavenly Father who knows His children individually, hears and answers their prayers, and feels compassion toward them. Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, are two separate beings but along with the Holy Ghost (Spirit) are one in will, purpose and love.” Look at those words, ...are one in will, purpose and love.”

S.M. and I are one in will, purpose and love, but we are two individuals. If I were to look at the Mormon.org site, I would have to really search to find out that the Mormons don’t believe in the Trinity. From an Atheist or Agnostic point of view, I would have skimmed over that statement and assumed they believed the same as Christians. And you will find many Mormons, including some Mormon missionaries, who will affirm they do not believe in the Trinity. This differentiates them from us.

Why is it so important that a believer believe in the Trinity?

Answers in Genesis said:

“God has given us this truth through His Word, and the Trinity is important simply because the doctrine is revealed in Scripture. Also, doctrine of the Trinity goes hand in hand with the doctrine of salvation (e.g., the many things that Jesus said and did have no meaning if He is not God). Even though the word “Trinity” is not found in Scripture, the doctrine is clearly presented.”

The key word from this is, “…doctrine of the Trinity goes hand in hand with the doctrine of Salvation.” Everything in a church or a religion should come under the discerning lens of the Bible. The Bible is the ultimate authority. So, for example, when Mormons say we as humans existed in Heaven before we were born, various scriptures say differently, like:

Zechariah 12:1, “…who stretches out the heavens, who establishes the earth, and who fashions the spirit of humanity within it:”

1 Corinthians 1:46, “But the physical body comes first, not the spiritual one–the spiritual body comes afterward.”

Jesus existed first as it states in John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” What does the book of Mormon say about that?

“Man was also in the beginning with God. Intelligence, or the light of truth, was not created or made, neither indeed can be.” DC 93:29

A Christian apologetic site said this:

“One verse that is commonly used is Jer. 1:5, “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you . . . ” But this verse is not talking about pre-existence. It is talking about God’s ordination and appointment of Jeremiah to be a prophet to his nation. Let’s look at the whole verse: “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations. The Mormons say we preexisted with God and that God and his goddess wife produced offspring who inhabit human bodies at birth. This is a purely Mormon invention and is not found in the Bible.”

The Trinity is essential to knowing Salvation. CARM says also about the Trinity:

“God is a trinity of persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Father is not the same person as the Son; the Son is not the same person as the Holy Spirit; and the Holy Spirit is not the same person as the Father. They are not three gods and not three beings. They are three distinct persons; yet, they are all the one God. Each has a will, can speak, can love, etc. These are demonstrations of personhood. They are in absolute perfect harmony consisting of one substance. They are coeternal, coequal, and copowerful. If any one of the three were removed, there would be no God. (See also, “Another Look at the Trinity”)”

Other theologians express their views on the Trinity:

“The doctrine of the Trinity is foundational to the Christian faith. It is crucial for properly understanding what God is like, how He relates to us, and how we should relate to Him. But it also raises many difficult questions. How can God be both one and three? Is the Trinity a contradiction? If Jesus is God, why do the Gospels record instances where He prayed to God?”- From Desiring God

“Do the three Persons of the Trinity truly exist? In this message entitled “One in Essence, Three in Person,” Dr. Sproul helps us understand some of the language that was used by the early church as they sought to carefully explain the doctrine of the Trinity.” – R.C. Sproul (Here he explains the meaning of “persons” in historical context which is helpful to explain Person in the Trinity sense).

And finally, I thought it was interesting to find a list of religions that don’t believe in the Trinity either. Listed among these is Mormonism. The list says: Jehovah Witness, Mormonism, Christian Science, Armstrongism, Christadelphians, Oneness Pentecostals, Unification Church, Unity School of Christianity, and Scientology. So Mormons believe in a Jesus, just not our Jesus. Not our God. Ravi is right when he said we Christians have difficulty in explaining the Trinity, that we hope no one asks, which is why I sought to write this article in the first place. Not just to convince you, but to also be able to understand it, too.

Other References:

Mormon Definitions by CARM

Mormonism and The Godhead

Is The Bible the Inspired Word of God?

 

 

 

Finding Truth #Mormons

Reading the Bible in context is the only way to understand God’s will for your life. That kind of reading is called “Hermeneutics.”

Also, to understand what the Mormon Church really stands for, you need to go to the source and examine closely their beliefs. Their public relations campaign began an estimated three years ago to re-brand their church. “I am Mormon” campaign ads seek to erase the differences between the Mormon church and Christianity.

No matter how well they write their website, the differences are there and their works-based faith is also there, such as number three in their 13 Articles of Faith: We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel. (emphasis mine).

As a pastor I heard once said, “It’s Christ, not Christ and…” Meaning, while one hand says the Mormons believe in the atonement of Christ, the other hand in context with other writings on their website, says you must be a good person. There other differences as well. Major differences. We will take a part their website and their writings every week to show a clear difference between us and them. I will come from a perspective of a questioning atheist or agnostic.

But let me be clear. What you believe matters. How you come to that belief also matters. If you believe in the Book of Mormon as another testament of Jesus Christ, then you are at odds with the rest of Christianity. Your belief is another god. If anything is at odds with scripture, it is a false religion. If you are a Mormon, your future in Heaven is questionable.

But don’t take a former Mormon’s word on it.

When I left the Mormon church, it was for other reasons. It never felt right. God kept asking me to look deeper. So I did, and what I found scared me. In fact, I started having nightmares after reading what they really believed and looked into the history of their “prophets.” That’s what we will do over this and next year. We will examine their religion.

But I don’t want to be just another former Mormon bashing your religion. And these articles take time to research and confirm. So it will be once a week. But in this age of social media, I warn my friend of how easy it is to start a campaign to deceive.

In this age of moral relativism, what feels good trumps truth. Tomorrow I’ll post a short article on the definition of moral relativism. Meanwhile, if you are a Christian of the Bible-only believing sort, please pray for me as I go through and find the truth.

If you are a Mormon, please know I care about you. My neighbors are Mormon. I’ve worked with Mormons. Your people are nice people, and are sincere, even if sincerely wrong. The Christian world isn’t rejecting you. Read this article here on what traditions from your church should be kept as you transition from a Mormon church to a Christian church. Save your arguments for the specific topics I bring up.

And pray Matthew 6.

Starting Next Week

sistersarah

S.M. doesn’t want his own Facebook, but feels content to look over my shoulder when I use my account. In this case, I saw Glenn Beck’s post about his daughter and the temple. One of the anti-Mormon comments had 38 or so replies. So I clicked that to read the replies.

In all 38 replies at the time, none of them addressed Mormon definitions. None of them touched on the Trinity. They did, however, show a variety of good and bad replies. The defensive tone colored both parties, except in rare instances where the commenter answered correctly encouraging the Mormon to read beyond the biases of both parties.

S.M. said. “Type a reply to that person!” He pointed at one who denounced any rebuttal because of where the information came from.

I laughed and said, “I can’t. Don’t you know that my relatives will read it, too?”

“Oh. It’s not private?” S.M. looked puzzled.

“Nope. My relatives will most definitely take exception to my reply.”

“Don’t they already know you are not Mormon, but a Christian?” S.M. still didn’t understand. Then, again, he grew up in a non-Mormon home.

“Yes, but as long as I don’t refute it, we are on speaking terms.” I’ve read and heard many stories of families splitting because one became a Christian or atheist or agnostic in the family. People have lost jobs or promotions for not being Mormon. “That’s why I write anonymously.”

“But your Facebook isn’t anonymous.” S.M. nodded.

“Nope. My friend has many accounts on social media. That smart phone goes everywhere with her, and I really am not interested in having that many accounts. It’s enough to take care of my blog and twitter account, with her help, of course.” I shook my head and continued. “Really. I like that my real Facebook account is me. People have got to stop Bible thumping Mormons, using caps, and letting their bitterness come through. So many people are trying to speak to that community, like Ravi Zacharias.”

That poor man had some dissenters when he spoke at the Mormon church even though he never compromised in doing so. In many ways, Ravi was being a missionary toward them. That’s what we need to be towards Mormons. We need to show our better side, but speak truth when the Holy Spirit prods us.

CAPS in internet speak means shouting, my friend explained, and I didn’t need her to explain it to me as it feels like shouting when you read it. Also, my friend pointed out how people’s replies are way too long. Short replies actually get read. Long replies get skimmed, and often misunderstood or not read at all.

“So how do we reach Mormons?” S.M. says this in such a way that I almost feel his hopelessness.

“One person, one relationship at a time. But we need to start recognizing that the Mormon church uses the words we use differently before we can speak into their lives. That’s what I’ll begin writing about next week.” I said.

Marriage in the Temple

“I’ve only attended the temple a handful of times in the years since. Thankfully, my husband is also not a gung-ho temple goer. He understands me, and that makes all the difference. I wouldn’t trade marrying him for anything, but sometimes I wish we could have skipped the temple endowment part and just married quietly somewhere. I love the doctrine of eternal families, and the thought of being with my husband after death — but at the same time, I can’t imagine a loving God, like the God we preach about in church, splitting up loving couples and families just because they weren’t married in His temple. That makes no sense to me. I refuse to believe that they won’t know each other after death and will be punished like that.” – Read More Here

I read this article and remembered echoing this same sentiment. In fact, I sought to find some kind of back up in the Bible for having the necessity of a temple and came across this scripture in John 2:18-21:

Then the Jewish leaders asked him, “By what authority are you doing these things? What miraculous sign will you show us?” Jesus answered, Destroy this temple and in three days I’ll raise it up.” The Jewish leaders replied, “It took forty-six years to build this temple, and you will raise it up in three days?” But the temple Jesus was talking about was his body. (emphasis mine)

In the Old Testament, temples were tents to massive structures. But Jesus was the final temple. He was the final lamb for the sacrifice. New Testament started a new covenant through the risen Jesus. According to here, the Mormons believe that temples help us come to Christ.

Temples are about as necessary as a priest to hear our confessions. Jesus is our confessor and our temple. No man-made structure is needed and no human confessor is needed as Jesus invites us to come to Him personally anywhere. But do you know what kinds of things happen in a temple?

A book came out in 1994 thereabouts called, Secret Ceremonies by Deborah Lake. It revealed the pagan rituals like secret handshakes, passwords, etc. I also know someone who was married in the temple. I asked her if this book was true. All she could do was nod. I found another article on the temple marriage here:

But after Joseph Smith’s death, Brigham Young changed the rules, and it’s still unclear by what authority he did so. Brigham Young admitted to not being a prophet (JD 5:77), and no one in the church during his lifetime referred to him as “the Prophet.”  He was the president. (In other words, Joseph Smith was for a public ceremony, but Brigham Young was not)

S.M. and I were married before family and friends some years ago in this little church in the Garden of Eden. We dedicated our marriage to God. I was a former Mormon. He was a Christian. I became a Christian through the expository teachings of a great teacher of the Bible. You see…there is power in the Bible. I can tell you about the science and archeological evidence and how the Bible is considered a historical document. I can even tell you that nothing exists to back the Book of Mormon, and how Joseph Smith was part of the occult with his life ending in a hanging. None of this would encourage you to change your mind.

But if you read the Bible, that could change your mind.
Read it in context. Compare it to the Book of Mormon. Beth Moore has many Bible study books that go deep into scripture to guide your journey. Find a pastor at a Christian church to ask your questions. You don’t need to be a Christian to attend a church. Come with your questions!


Friend, God wants you to come home.
Leaving the Mormon church doesn’t mean leaving behind family values. You can still have family values. You can still enjoy a close church family. I can’t promise that your blood family won’t present a problem when you try to leave the church. That’s why you need a good support group to help you maintain good family relationships.

I’ll be praying for you to know the truth.

Meanwhile, I need to get ready for church. This blogging thing is so addicting. I hope I will hear from you.

 

Mormon Founder Had 40 Wives

My friend forwarded to me an email she received from a friend. She wanted my take on this article by Channel Five news:

“It’s hard to overestimate Smith’s importance to Mormons, who is viewed as a larger-than-life prophet who received special revelations from God. The news that he had taken so many wives, including teens and other men’s spouses, rocked some members of the faith, according to Mormon blogger Jana Riess.” – From here.

Joseph Smith is well-known to have dabbled in the occult so it doesn’t surprise me to read further down:

“According to the church’s essay, Smith had not wanted to take multiple wives, but relented after an angel appeared to him three times between 1834-1842. On the angel’s last visit, the church said, “the angel came with a drawn sword, threatening Joseph with destruction unless he went forward and obeyed the commandment fully.”

S.M. read the article and snort-laughed. “Oh, so an angel forced him to take multiple wives.” He about fell off his chair laughing.

I won’t repeat the sarcastic remarks he made, but I am ashamed to say, I laughed, too. In fact, our culture is welcoming all kinds of marriage acts nowadays, and this kind of thing wouldn’t scare places like San Francisco or Las Vegas. S.M. stopped laughing long enough to tell me that Answers in Genesis published an article that read, “What About Polygamy?”

“Let’s look closely at this passage and note several key phrases that indicate God’s intent for marriage to be monogamous—one man for one woman. First, God intended to make “a helper” for Adam, not several helpers. Second, from one rib God made one woman for Adam. Genesis 2:24 reveals the pattern of a man leaving his family to “be joined to his wife,” not wives. This union is then described as becoming “one flesh.

Mormons make claims about Abraham. I thought S.M.’s suggestion was a good one, and for those thinking that multiple wives are okay, think again. The Bible supports one man and one woman. Period.

S.M. is still making jokes as I write this. He keeps rocking back and forth, laughing, and saying, “An angel forced him?”

I think we’ve spent too much time in this world.

 

 

4 Mormon Traditions to Keep

Some of the cultural traditions of Mormonism can be implemented into the Christian faith without violating Biblical principle, like Monday being family time or bringing treats or gifts to a congregation member that you haven’t seen in church for a while. If you are a Mormon on the verge of leaving, I encourage you to take what is good and Biblical and implement that in your new church family. Here are four Mormon traditions:

  1. Monday Family Time: Your family time doesn’t have to be on Mondays, but it can be on a day you designate where everyone makes plans to stay home. No group meetings. No work. No dates. Make a fancy dinner and eat at the table together. Get out the WII or board games. Serve junk food before and after dinner.
  2. Visiting: In the Christian faith, it is common for members of the congregation to visit the home-bound on Sundays. Some ministries give quilts to those who just had babies or are sick. Others start a meal train. In Mormon culture, a list of people who haven’t attended church in a while get a visit or two in the form of someone bearing edible treats or a gift to say, “We miss you.” As a new Christian in a new church, talk to your pastor about getting a list like that so you can help that church create warm connections within your community.
  3. Teaching Sunday School or Church: Mormons take turns teaching lessons in their Sunday Schools or during service. Christians have the ability to teach Sunday School or small groups. Start a small group or get involved in the Sunday School for either adults or children.
  4. Missionary Visits or Teacher Visits: Teachers and Missionaries usually just stop over without calling in the Mormon tradition. Christian churches have visiting missionaries in and around the area. Contact your new church for information on the missionaries they support so you can invite a missionary to visit with your family to learn more about what they do in their area or country. Also, you can invite a Sunday School teacher or pastor of your new church to dinner at your home to learn more about them.

 

Mormons are known for their good food, strong families, and united church. Christians have much of those, too, in their congregations. My Bible study on Acts 15 taught me about this.