Saturday, December 27, 2008

Is mormonism the true New Testament Christianity?

That is the assertion made in a comment on a previous post. See here. That statement is the beginning of a series of statements made by this anonymous individual, and the audacity and inaccuracy of the claims demands a response. I am going to dissect all of the arguments made in this comment and demonstrate from plain facts and Scripture that they are false. The individual who posted this and also has a couple of blogs is anonymous, so it cannot be ascertained what their background is or where they got their information. The comment starts with this statement:

Mormons Are New Testament Christians, not Creedal Christians

A bold statement, but one with no basis in fact. Obviously I would, as would all Christians, deny that mormonism is the restoration of New Testament Christianity (or that mormonism is any sort of Christianity at all). I want to reiterate and expand on my comments in response to that statement. My original comments are in green.

Nowhere in the NT do we see Christians holding or needing a priesthood, in fact the need for a human priesthood is specifically rejected in the NT especially in Hebrews.

Throughout the book of Hebrews we see Christ as our High Priest. The role of the human priesthood after the order of Aaron has been negated (see my prior post A restoration or a fabrication? for more details on the elimination of the need for a human priesthood) We need no human priests when we have a great High Priest who intercedes for us directly with the Father. The whole notion stems from a misunderstanding of the priesthood under the Old Covenant and the great priesthood of Christ as mediator of the New Covenant.

The idea of mormon temple worship does not appear anywhere in the NT.

The temple is a key to mormon theology and practice, but mormon temple worship doesn't appear anywhere in the New Testament. We do see the early apostles going to the Jewish temple, but there purpose in going there was to preach and teach the Gospel, not to perform the mormon temple ceremonies. The temple ceremonies of mormonism bear no resemblance to New Testament Christian worship or Old Testament temple ordinances. None at all.

The idea of a plurality of gods is specifically and vociferously rejected through the old and new testament.

This sort of goes without saying. The Bible is clear and speaks frequently to the uniqueness of God. The Bible rejects categorically the existence of any other gods, on par with or even vaguely similar to God. The whole of creation includes the Triune God, created angels/demons and humanity. There is not category for other gods, certainly not a god who created the God of the Bible as the doctrine of God being an exalted man would require.

Exaltation is absent.

Exaltation, or the becoming of a god by faithful mormon men, is so foreign to the Bible that it becomes indefensible and frankly unthinkable. See my posts on exaltation Talking 'bout my deification as well as my post on the Biblical doctrine of adoption.

Dietary codes like the word of wisdom are rejected.

This pertains to the mormon "word of wisdom" that prohibit certain foods. See Matthew 15:11-19 and the vision of Peter before going to the house of Cornelius in Acts 10: 9-15. Both of which point to the elimination of dietary laws. The word of wisdom boils down to an external pietistic control mechanism. Humans are not sanctified by observance of dietary laws, and the idea that drinking a cup of tea makes you unworthy to become a god is silly.

An ongoing need for a human prophet is rejected.

See my post here on Hebrews 1: 1-2 and how pointless a prophet is today. The fullness of the revelation of God to man for salvation is contained in the Bible describing the person and work of His Son. What more do we need? What more do we want? When we had the missionaries coming over, this was a stumbling block for them. It seemed they had never gotten beyond "God used to speak through prophets, so shouldn't He today?" without working through the implications of that thought. They never were really able to give a cogent answer as to why we would need a prophet today.

New "revelation" that contradicts the apostles is declared anathema.

Would new revelation completely contradict the original, complete revelation given by Christ? That hardly makes sense and Paul has pretty strong words for those who preach "another gospel" in Galatians 1: 6-9. Completely changing the Gospel is not a restoration, it is a heresy.

The mormon offices of elder and deacon run contrary to the qualification laid out in the NT. The hierarchical, authoritarian nature of the mormon church is contrary to the structure of the NT church.

The structure of the church is not really a structure at all. Mormonism seeks to establish the proper organization on earth, but the church is not an organization at all. It is the people of God in all places and at every time. We gather together but that gathering is not the church. The church is not this program or that leader. It is the elect of God throughout the ages, the Bride of Christ. Mormonism also takes the titles that appear in the New Testament and applies them improperly and with no regard to the qualifications laid out. Think of the missionaries. They all carry the title of "elder" and they are young men of 19-21 years of age. Their age is not in and of itself the issue, but in 1 Timothy 3: 1-13 we see the qualifications laid out for elders and deacons, and it is hard to think that a teenage young man is qualified as being mature in the faith, the husband of one wife and managing his household well. The structure and offices of mormonism are yet another glaring example of the mormon church using Biblical terms, but doing so improperly.

To summarize: the mormon church bears no resemblance to the New Testament church in either doctrine or in practice. Outside of a few superficial similarities in names the form, function and foundations of the mormon church are built on the teachings of the imagination of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, not the teaching of Christ and His apostles. As such, mormons are not New Testament Christians and indeed because of their beliefs are not Christians at all. You cannot say that this person believes A and is a Christian, and that person believes B, which is mutually exclusive from A, and is also a Christian. Christianity is many things, but one thing it certainly can be said to be is a series of propositional truths. Deny those truths and you deny Christ, and as such cannot be a Christian. How can you be "New Testament Christians" when you cannot appeal to the New Testament to support your theology and practice and instead seek to undermine that very document in your later arguments?

There are plenty of issues that modern Christianity is wrestling with and has wrestled with for two thousand years. The writings of Paul speak of false teaching early in the church and we are warned in the Word of a coming falling away (which may or may not be a future or even present event). The Reformation was driven by the false teachings of Rome. We saw false teachings in every century since the cross. We certainly see plenty of false teaching today.

But here is where mormons miss the mark:

Correcting errors with greater errors is not a restoration!

That is the big problem with the "restoration" argument. Change in and of itself is not a correction. In the church, only change that conforms more closely to the Word is a restoration, anything else is just compounding one error with another.

No comments: