Written by David Waltz
Rejoinder by Eric Johnson
David Waltz claims to be "a Catholic
Christian" who has studied Mormonism since 1987, has "accumulated
more than 1,700 books on Mormonism, including more than 150 anti-Mormon books.
Add to this my collection of BYU Studies, Dialogue, Sunstone, and the vast
majority of FARMS publications, and one could say I have a fairly substantial
Mormon collection." 1
He apparently ordered Mormonism 101 because
he felt "the title had an academic ring to it" and he hoped it
would "build upon the recent Evangelical/Mormon dialogue of Blomberg and
he received the book, it apparently did not take 15 minutes before he decided
that Mormonism 101 "was nothing more than another ill-conceived,
subjective, polemical, anti-Mormon publication." In other words, he
apparently gave our book a "thumbs down."
In his review, Waltz promises that he will "demonstrate
that McKeever and Johnson repeatedly use polemical methods against Mormonism
that are defective." In addition, he says he will show how our
"approach to Mormonism is severely flawed; and importantly, their approach is a
double-edged sword, which when turned on Evangelicalism, inflicts a much greater
The Making of LDS Doctrine
In an attempt to show that Bill and I don't know
Mormonism, Waltz writes, "The professors at BYU have as much 'authority'
as the leading professors at leading Evangelical seminaries. Do McKeever and
Johnson have the 'authority' to speak for Evangelicalism? I am truly amazed at
how many times anti-Mormon writers have to be told that the only official,
authoritative writings for the LDS Church are its scriptures (i.e., the
Standard Works). And how many times does the anti-Mormon need to be told that,
'a prophet was a prophet only when he was acting as such.' Throughout their
book McKeever and Johnson quote past Mormon authorities who held opposing
opinions on many issues and doctrines. McKeever and Johnson give me the impression
that they are professional anti-Mormons, yet they cannot seem to grasp the
elementary LDS doctrine on what constitutes official doctrine."
This raises two questions. How is a Mormon supposed
to get his doctrine? And how does that contrast with the Christian? The Bible
is vital for the evangelical Christian because it is his authority from God.
Every believer has been mandated to "rightly divide the word of truth"
(2 Timothy 2:15). Because Christians have a royal priesthood (1
Peter 2:9), they have the authority to determine right doctrine from wrong.
This is where proper hermeneutics (interpretation) comes in. In addition,
Christians have been commanded to test everything (1 Thes. 5:17, 1 John
4:1). If we see doctrine mixed with error, we have been commissioned to point
out the error and correct it (1 Timothy 1:3-4; 2 Timothy 4:2-5).
According to the LDS leadership structure, the
professors at BYU do not have authority to speak for the church. In Mormonism,
there is a hierarchical chart, with the prophet sitting at the top. Twice a
year the Ensign magazine prints center-spread pictures of the LDS
general authorities. Although there are photos of more than 100 men in each
spread, I have yet to see a current BYU professor portrayed there. According to
the lines of authority in the LDS Church structure, there are at least 100 people who speak
with more authority than the highest ranking BYU professor. On the other hand,
a Christian professor speaks with as much authority as he correctly interprets
the Bible and speaks its truth. In fact, evangelical Christians believe that
truth belongs to God's Word (John 17:17). The person who speaks in accordance with this
Word speaks with authority.
Second, Waltz displays an utter act of ignorance
when he says, "I am truly amazed at how many times anti-Mormon writers
have to be told that the only official, authoritative writings for the LDS
Church are its scriptures (i.e., the Standard Works)." Nay, it is we who are amazed at how many times
those sympathetic with Mormonism continue to perpetrate the myth that Mormons
get their doctrine only from the Standard Works. In our preface on page
10, we wrote: "The LDS Church
manual Gospel Principles states that, in addition to these four books of
scripture (i.e. the Standard Works), the inspired words of the living prophets
and LDS Church publications can also be used to guide its members in the ways
of truth." This was a paraphrase
of page 55 of Gospel Principles. Perhaps Waltz has insight that the
church curriculum department is missing. There is no way Waltz' statement can
be true as long as Mormons keep insisting that they believe in an open canon
and modern-day revelation.
Waltz also ignores the following that was also
written on page 10: "…the student of Mormonism still needs to carefully
weigh what LDS leaders have said and are saying since it gives us an idea of
what kind of men they really are. For example, if certain LDS leaders
continually make irresponsible comments, we must take that into consideration.
Also if it can be demonstrated that such an 'opinion' was believed by church
members to be true, then it places into serious question the LDS claim that its
prophets cannot lead the church astray." Although it may be convenient,
hiding behind the word official ignores the fact that these men said the
things attributed to them.
While we do quote from sources other than the four
Standard Works, the vast majority of our LDS quotes come from general authorities
and not laypeople such as LDS apologists or BYU professors. We utilized these
sources on purpose because the LDS leaders are the only ones who speak with
authority according to this church structure. The words of laypeople—though
valued by many church members—are generally taken with a grain of salt. There
is no comparison between what a BYU professor may write in a book when compared
to the words of President Hinckley or Apostle Packer in general conference.
Interestingly enough, throughout his review Waltz
utilizes a number of quotes from non-canonical sources, including four lengthy
quotes from church general authorities in the following five paragraphs!3
Isn't it odd that Waltz can freely quote sources outside the Standard Works but
we can't? If he didn't believe these men were authoritative, then why did he quote
them? It makes me wonder why we get criticized for quoting past general authorities
when the Ensign magazine, the monthly publication of the LDS Church,
does the same thing in every issue!
Third, as far as his contention that 'a
prophet was a prophet only when he was acting as such.' perhaps Waltz could
enlighten us by providing the source for this quote from the Standard Works.
The fact is Joseph Smith made this comment in the privacy of his home when
speaking with two members from Michigan. The quote actually comes from the Documentary
History of the Church 5:265 – not the Standard Works!
Waltz should look to see what Ezra Taft Benson said
in his speech titled "14 Fundamentals in Following the Prophet." Among
other things, Benson said:
The prophet is the only man who
speaks for the Lord in everything.
The prophet will never lead
the Church astray.
The prophet does not have to
say, "Thus saith the Lord" to give us scripture.
The prophet is not limited to man's reasoning.
The prophet and the presidency—the living prophet and the First
Presidency—follow them and be blessed—reject them and suffer.
Based on these points, I have several questions.
One, was this general authority speaking with the blessing of his church when
he said these thing or was he leading his listeners astray? Two, who knows more
about Mormonism? A man who said these things while serving as an LDS general authority?
Or Waltz, a professed Catholic who merely has a lot of books on the topic? The
answer seems obvious.
Finally, Waltz uses loaded language when he calls
us "professional anti-Mormons" who are not able to "grasp
the elementary LDS doctrine on what constitutes official doctrine." I
wonder if Waltz could give us a definition of "official Mormon doctrine" that
is consistent with LDS history and the teachings of all LDS leaders. Also, I
wonder what Waltz would say to a person who called himself a Catholic but:
- rejected the Immaculate Conception;
- believed there are only four ordinances and not seven;
- thought that the Pope was just a mere man with no more of a connection to God than anyone else;
- didn't see a need for attending Mass.
Although I am still not sure about Waltz'
Catholicism, I wonder at which point he would declare that such a person—no
matter how much he or she desired to be called "Catholic"—was a fraud? It seems
reasonable that the designation Catholic has a certain meaning. Those
who want to consider themselves Catholic should be willing to follow the basic
doctrinal structure of the Roman Catholic Church. It is no different from
Mormonism. Those who desire to be called Mormon needs to be willing to follow
the basic doctrinal structure of the LDS Church and its leaders. If not, then the word Mormon really
does not have any meaning.
Waltz says that we generally misunderstand what
Mormon leaders have meant when they refer to a "total" or "complete apostasy."
He writes: "I know of no member of the LDS Church that holds to the view that all
truth was lost. In fact, most believe that many truths still existed in a
scattered form throughout the years between the loss of the 'keys' in the early
second century and the restoration in nineteenth (sic)."
It should be pointed out that we never said that
the LDS Church teaches that "all" truth was lost. Rather, our
point was that all authority was lost. This point is made very clearly
on page 79 in our chapter on the apostasy when we wrote: "Mormonism was
founded on the premise that the authority initially given to the apostles by
Jesus Christ was lost until Joseph Smith restored true Christianity in 1830.
Mormons say that since Christ's church quickly abandoned His principles, the
Reformation was not enough…." This is an instance of putting words into our
mouth to make us say something we never did say.
Waltz proceeds to give four examples of what he
says LDS authorities have taught. First, he quotes Brigham Young from the Journal
of Discourses (7:4-5). Young said that a man such as John Wesley was "good"
and therefore obtained an eternal "rest." Is Waltz claiming that Young believed
Wesley had any priesthood authority? For if Waltz had given the proceeding
words, it would have shown that Young clearly denied that Wesley had any
This is what the following sentences from Young's
talk say: "Why could he not build up the kingdom of God on the earth: He had not the
Priesthood; that was all the difficulty he laboured under. Had the Priesthood
been conferred upon him, he would have built up the kingdom of God in his day as it is now being built
up. He would have introduced the ordinances, powers, grades, and quorums of
the Priesthood; but, not holding the Priesthood, he could not do it."
While Young said that the Spirit of God rested upon
Wesley, Young certainly did not believe that Wesley had any priesthood
authority. Why? It had disappeared from the earth until it was supposedly given
to Joseph Smith. Therefore, Young very well could believe that Wesley's fate
would be fine because Mormonism teaches in three levels of heaven and that everyone,
for the most part, will make it to at least the bottom level. Is Wesley headed
to the celestial kingdom? While Young doesn't say, the answer probably hinges
on whether or not Wesley accepts the Mormon gospel in the next life. Exaltation
can be accomplished only by those with priesthood authority, so Wesley's fate
rests in his future decision that was provided him only because a faithful
Mormon who has authority was baptized on his behalf.
Waltz also quotes Lorenzo Snow, who became the
fifth LDS president, in Journal of Discourses 14:304 as saying that "everybody
has the Spirit of God." But here again, Waltz stops his quote short. Ending
after the word "Methodists," Waltz fails to put in the rest of the
sentence: "in fact we are told that this is the light that lights every man
that comes into the world; but to say that all have the Holy Ghost, the gift
that was promised to those who obeyed the Gospel, it is not so." In
essence, Snow is saying that while all people have "the Spirit of God" (which
comes from a general God-fearing belief), not everyone has the Holy Ghost. Only
those who belong to the true church (LDS Church) possess this trait.
A third quote, this by church historian B.H.
Roberts in The Defense of the Saints, shows that "there still remains
light in the sky" despite the universal apostasy. Again, while there might
be "light in the sky," there is no authority because Roberts quite
clearly taught that there was a final and complete apostasy. Consider the
following quotes by B.H. Roberts (emphases ours):
History of the Church, Vol.1, Introduction, p.xl (of which Roberts was
the editor): "This is a tremendous arraignment of all Christendom. It
charges a condition of universal apostasy from God, especially upon
Christendom that was dwelling in a fancied security of being the farthest
removed from the possibility of such a charge; each division of the so-called
Christian Church felicitating itself with the flattering unction that its own
particular society possessed the enlightened fulness of the Christian
religion. While the boldness of this declaration of the young Prophet is
astounding, upon reflection it must be conceded that just such a condition of
affairs in the religious world is consistent with the work he, under the
direction of divine providence, was about to inaugurate. Nothing less than
a complete apostasy from the Christian religion would warrant the establishment
of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, of sects there were
already enough in existence. Division and subdivision had already created of
confusion more than enough, and there was no possible excuse for the
introduction of a new Christian sect. But if men through apostasy had
corrupted the Christian religion and lost divine authority to administer the
ordinances of the Gospel, it was of the utmost importance that a new
dispensation of the true Christian religion should be given to the world."
History of the Church, Vol.1, Introduction, p.xci (The Testimony of
Prophecy to the Universal Apostasy): "Clear as the fact is made in this
historical view that there was a complete and universal apostasy from
the religion established in the Dispensation of the Meridian of Time: and
clear as is the proof from the same review that the Church of Christ then
established was destroyed, there is yet another line of evidence pointing to
the same solemn fact that I can not altogether omit, though often used in our
literature, viz., the testimony of prophecy to the apostasy from the Christian
religion, and the destruction of the Church of Christ."
"The Seventy's Course in Theology, Second Year, p. 204: "Paul's
Prophecy to the Thessaloneans: Paul, in his second epistle to the
Thessalonians, gives utterance to a prophecy which covers the whole ground of
the absolute and universal apostasy of Christendom. A prophecy which, if
the apostasy of so-called Christendom has not been complete and universal,
proves beyond all question that the great Apostle [p.205] of the Gentiles is a
false prophet; or if fulfilled, then it proves that the Church of Christ, so
far as it existed in the earth, was to be destroyed; that another and different
religion was to be substituted for the Christian religion; that another church,
one founded by men, was to take the place of the Church of Christ, a worldly
church dominated by the very spirit of Lucifer, who, under its rule, would
oppose and exalt himself above all that is called God; and sit in the temple of
God, showing himself, so far as this world is concerned, that he is God.
Moreover, Paul declared in this very prophecy I am about to quote that the
forces which would ultimately bring to pass this universal apostasy from the
Christian religion—"the mystery of iniquity"—was already at
work even in his day."
New Witnesses for God, Vol.1, p.483: "And now let me say in
conclusion–it is a fact; the world needed a New Witness for God; the church
of Christ was destroyed; there was an apostasy from the Christian
religion so complete and universal as to make necessary a New Dispensation
thereof; the ancient prophets of God foretold the coming forth in the last days
of a New Dispensation of the gospel; God has sent forth his angel with that New
Dispensation; God did raise up a New Witness for himself, in the person of
Joseph Smith, and divinely commissioned him to preach the gospel, administer
its ordinances and speak in his name, and God has given to the world abundant
evidence of the divine authority and inspiration of that Witness."
Clearly Roberts did not believe
there was any authority until Joseph Smith eventually restored it in the 19th
century. Finally, Waltz gives a quote from Apostle LeGrand Richards' book A
Marvelous Work and a Wonder. Richards does say that there were truths that
could be found in the Christian churches. However, consider what Richards said
five pages later: "Since the departure from the true gospel of Christ was
to be universal, as the prophets foretold, and since such universal
apostasy was confirmed in the statement of Jesus to Joseph Smith, it would
follow that a restoration would be necessary. Such a restoration is the
message of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints" (pp. 32-33).
Again, this "universal apostasy"
necessitated a "restoration," which Mormons maintain came through the prophet
Joseph Smith and the foundation of their church. So when did the universal
apostasy take place? According to Apostle Bruce R. McConkie, "in the Old
World the great apostasy was complete sometime during the second century A.D.,
and in the New World it gained the ascendancy in the fifth century with the
destruction of the Nephites" (A New Witness for the Articles of Faith,
p.477). The reason for the apostasy was the lack of priesthood authority.
Apostle George Q. Cannon wrote, "It is because the Priesthood of the Son of
God was withdrawn for a long period of time from the earth."
According to Cannon, "many
sought after God in a certain manner and according to the light they had, and
many obtained some degree of knowledge concerning God. Some of them had a
testimony of Him through their faith and died at peace with God. Many of our
ancestors lived in this condition, and God bore witness to them by His Holy
Spirit that He was pleased with them. But what of that? Is that all that is
necessary to place them in a saved condition? By no means. Something more than
that is necessary to obtain for them the full remission of their sins and to
place them in a condition where they can be saved and exalted in God's
Thus, Cannon could say that the
"Reformers lacked Priesthood" when he wrote, "A Wesley, a Luther, a Calvin,
a Wycliffe and a host of others who have arisen in the world, imbued with the
highest and purest motives and the highest and most intense desires for the
salvation of their fellow men, have labored zealously to turn men to God and to
bring them to a knowledge of the Savior; but they have not had the authority of
the Holy Priesthood." So, while God might be pleased that these Reformers
tried to know Him, they could not obtain the full remission of sins because,
again, they lacked the priesthood.
The nature of God
Waltz apparently decided to move
beyond the "Introduction" and spend some time critiquing several chapters from
our first section on God. After spending several pages discussing the Church
Fathers' ideas of God, he writes, "I am not making the claim that the
early Church Fathers taught a Mormon view of the Godhead." Rather, he
is "claiming that there are many common points of contact between the
Mormon doctrine of the Godhead and the early Church Fathers." Of this
there is great debate.
Despite Watlz' arguments, he fails to understand
that the Mormon version of God is completely different from what is taught in
the Bible. This is not a difference in language or semantics. According to
Mormonism, God was once a man on another planet. He became the God of this
world and became our literal father in the so-called preexistence. Mormons
today hope to continue this chain and become exalted to the place of becoming
rulers of other worlds. This is Mormonism at its core, which is much different
than anything Christianity—whether Western or Eastern—has ever taught.4
Waltz makes an interesting observation when, in
reference to our description in chapter 1 regarding the nature of the LDS God,
he says, "…they do not cite one verse from the uniquely LDS scriptures to
support their claims. Why is this? It is because in the LDS official canon you
will not find one verse which states that there was a time when God was not
God. The authors they cite are going beyond the LDS canon, and beyond the time
frame of the LDS canon."
find it incredible that Waltz would make such a comment. We find it more
incredible that FAIR would have the audacity to include it in this review. Is
Waltz actually implying that Joseph Smith had no authority to say "We have
imagined and supposed that God was God from all eternity. I will refute that
idea, and take away the veil, so that you may see"? This "salad-bar"
Mormonism that Waltz and FAIR espouse was soundly criticized in the fall 2003
general conference when James Faust, second counselor in the First Presidency
said, "We can have a certain testimony that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of
God, and Redeemer of mankind, and that Joseph Smith was a prophet commissioned to restore the Church in
our day and time without having a complete understanding of all gospel
principles. But when you pick up a stick you pick up both ends. And so it is
with the gospel. As members of the Church we need to accept all of it…
Revelations from the prophets
of God are not like offerings at the cafeteria, some to be selected and others
We would agree that both the Bible and Book of
Mormon constantly contradict the idea that God was once a man. However, by
claiming that a doctrine not found in the Standard Works would negate its
ability to be a true doctrine for a Latter-day Saint, Waltz shows that he does
not understand the basic tenets of Mormonism. The phrase, "As man is, God
once was. As God is, man may become," is not found in the Standard Works.
However, there is no doubt that this catchy couplet first given by Lorenzo Snow
(in a revelation no less) is generally believed by the vast majority of Mormons
as doctrinal truth. In fact, there are other doctrines outside the Standard
Works that are believed by Mormons, including the very idea that there is a
Mother God. This teaching has been described as an "unspoken truth." 6
Consider also what Apostle James
E. Talmage says about celestial marriage: "'Celestial Marriage' is a term in
current use among the Latter-day Saints, though it does not occur in any
revelation contained in the standard works of the Church." 7
Yet, despite the lack of support from the Standard Works, the ideas that God
was once a man, the existence of a heavenly mother, and the veracity of celestial
marriage are believed by the vast majority of Mormons. That being the case, Waltz
needs to stop using this fallacious argument and admit that Mormon truisms can
indeed be found outside of the Standard Works.
Waltz then asks a number of bizarre questions,
including wondering why God did not create the universe earlier, what God was
doing before creating this universe, and whether or not God is an eternal
creator. Waltz fails to understand that, while God is eternal, the universe is
not. In a mysterious way that is impossible for our finite minds to comprehend,
God came out of His element (eternalness) to create time and this universe.
Because the Bible starts at our beginning (Gen. 1:1), there is nothing more for
us to know, just as we are provided with very little specific information
regarding what eternity with God will be like (until we some day arrive at this
If we had not been told otherwise, it would have
been easy to assume that the writer of this rebuttal was a Mormon and not Catholic.
The things said in the review seem strange when Catholic teaching is
considered. After all, even Catholic Answers, a lay group of Catholic
apologists, says that "…it would be better to say Mormons are even further
from Catholicism than from Protestantism." 8
In fact, the Catholic Answers site has several
articles denying the truthfulness of Mormonism, including this which says in
part: "For an illustration of doublethink one need look no further than the
Mormon church's doctrines about God. Joseph Smith, Mormonism's founder, taught
the doctrine of a 'plurality of gods'—polytheism—as the bedrock belief of his
church. He developed this doctrine over a period of years to reflect his belief
that not only are there many gods, but they once were mortal men who had
developed in righteousness until they had learned enough and merited godhood.
The Mormon church uses the term 'eternal progression' for this process, and it
refers to godhood as 'exaltation.' Such euphemisms are used because the idea of
men becoming gods is blasphemous to orthodox Christians. Needless to say, Smith
encountered much hostility to these doctrines and so thought it wise to
disguise them with unfamiliar terminology. Although he softened his terms,
Smith minced no words in explaining his beliefs. 'I will preach on the
plurality of gods. I am going to tell you how God came to be God. We have
imagined and supposed that God was God from all eternity. I will refute that
idea, and take away the veil, so that you may see' (King Follett Discourse)
Mormonism's founder concluded that his flock didn't understand the nature of
God. No mortal entirely does, of course, but this particular group was
handicapped, not helped, by the strange theories expounded by Smith. True to
his word, Smith took away the veil of misunderstanding, only to replace it with
a monolithic wall of doublethink. After all, to teach that the all-sovereign
God, the infinite and supreme being, the Creator and Master of the universe, is
merely an exalted man is a fine example of what Orwell had in mind."9
Very clearly anybody who belongs to either tradition
of Christianity—whether Eastern or Western—will have a problem when the God of
Mormonism is compared to the God of the Bible.
At this point, I'd like to take a little space here
to share the religious background on Waltz, who, once again, calls himself "a
Catholic Christian" in his rebuttal. Based on e-mail correspondence with Waltz,
I have discovered that his conversion to Catholicism has been relatively recent
to the time he wrote this rebuttal. In fact, he graciously wrote me after I had
asked him in July 2003 for clarification and he said, "I have been a member
of the Roman Catholic Church since April 2002. Before this I was a
non-denominational Christian seeker. In 1983 I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord
and Savior. I then began a quest to decipher which of the 20,000 plus
denominations (now 30,000 plus) best represented the visible Church Jesus
Christ founded….And starting in 1989 with the advent of two LDS missionaries
cold-calling at my home, I started an in-depth study of Mormonism. (1,700 plus
books in my library are related to Mormonism.)"10
In other words, Waltz' commitment to the Catholic
Church began right around the time his rebuttal to our book was published,
which was sometime between 2001-early spring 2002.11
Before this time, he claimed to be a "non-denominational Christian seeker"
(whatever this means). Then, according to Kevin Graham, the founder of Mormonism
201, Waltz is also "a former Jehovah's Witness" who is "probably
a genius – he has read more books than I could ever count. He takes a personal
interest in Mormonism and Catholicism and from what I can tell, he seems to
think the LDS understanding of the Trinity isn't too far off from the Orthodox
position…. Every time someone needs a reference on the FAIR e-list, he is right
there at the drop of a hat with full citations, page numbers and personal
background on the author. Quite impressive I think. His personal library
consists of more than 15,000 books for crying out loud."12
I decided to write Waltz a follow-up e-mail and I asked,
wouldn't mind answering two more questions:
would like to confirm if you were ever a Jehovah's Witness as Kevin says you
you complete your rebuttal to Mormonism 101 before Easter 2002? If so, which
religion do you consider yourself a member when you wrote this?"
After not receiving a response in nine days, I resent it.
He then replied the next day:
"To be brutally honest, I am beginning to
question the motive(s) in your above questions. As I stated in a previous
email, I would truly like to have a serious dialogue with you; however, you
stated that you did not have the time to pursue such. With that said, your
questions have the appearance of preparation for a classic ad hominem argument.
Because of this, there is an admitted reticence in my mind which precludes
further dialogue with you; that is, unless I see some reciprocation.
My review of your book Mormonism 101 dealt entirely with the content of the
book itself. I truly hope that any future criticism of my review on your part
will be in the same spirit (i.e. addressing the content of my review). If I
have misjudged your motives, please correct me."
I responded on August 10, 2003:
your background helps me to better understand where you are coming from and
makes a HUGE difference in how I respond to your rebuttal. Ad hominem is when
you attack the man, and the information that I am asking for can easily be used
in a non-ad hominem way. The views in your rebuttal go against the average
Catholic apologetic organization like Catholic Answers, which is why better
understanding where you are coming from will be important to help me answer
your position. Let's be honest, you are the wild card in M201 in whom I cannot
assume anything. If you are uncomfortable answering my questions, then that's
your prerogative. If you are fearful of ad hominem, then why wouldn't you
provide me with this information and let me make this fatal mistake? Please
don't judge my motives and I won't unfairly judge yours."
of the publication of this rejoinder, Waltz has not yet replied. I certainly
don't want to utilize the logical fallacy of ad hominem—as Waltz fears that I
will do—and I rarely ever publicly question an individual's credentials or
background. But when I ask somebody who claims to be Catholic if he knows
whether or not Mormonism is true and he responds, "Don't 'know' either way,"13
something seems a little strange. When I find out that this individual who
supposedly wrote as a "Catholic" probably was not a Catholic at the time of
writing his rebuttal, my eyebrows start to go up. And when the person who is in
charge of producing one of the web sites where this rebuttal is posted says that
he believes the individual in question was once a Jehovah's Witness, I have to
wonder if David Waltz isn't someone who, though very bright, has not yet made
up his mind about the Mormon Church being the only true church on the face of
I do not doubt the sincerity of Waltz. Besides getting a
little testy with his last e-mail response, he seems to be cordial and not a
bad guy. While I am not attacking his character, I do question his spiritual
background. His religious past includes being a "non-denominational Christian seeker"
and possibly a member of the Watchtower organization. And, as a new Catholic
who probably wrote his rebuttal of our chapter before joining the Catholic
Church, Waltz still seems to be seeking for truth and is therefore not fully
convinced that he has found it in the Catholic Church.14
Moving to his critique of chapter two, Waltz
writes, "Once again, it is the goal of McKeever and Johnson to prove that
the Jesus of Mormonism is not the Christian Jesus. On pages 40-41 they cite
three LDS general authorities in their attempt to demonstrate that Mormons
worship or believe in 'another' Jesus. The citations are, of course, pulled out
of context in an effort to provide their readers some shock value. What are the
facts? Are LDS general authorities making the claim that the Mormon Jesus is
Christian while the Jesus of other Christian denominations is not? I think not.
Although there are distinctions between the Christology of Mormonism and most
other denominations, the distinctions are not of the sort that would place
Jesus outside of the Christian camp."
First, if the
citations are, "of course, pulled out of context," we'd certainly
like to see how. And then we must ask what kind of Jesus that Waltz worships.
Catholic Answers certainly understands the major differences with the
personhood of Jesus:
Mormon teaching, at one point in the eternities past, this man-become-God, or
'Heavenly Father,' begat the spirit body of his first son. Together with his
heavenly wife, the Father raised his son in the council of the gods. Before the
creation of this world, Jesus Christ presented to his father a plan of
salvation which would enable the billions of future human beings the
opportunity of passing through mortality and returning to heaven, there to
become gods of their own worlds. At the same time, another son of the Heavenly
Father and brother of Christ offered a competing plan. When Christ was chosen,
the rejected Lucifer led a rebellion of one-third of the population of the
heavens and was cast out.
Mormons teach that Christ is a secondary, inferior god. He does not exist from
all eternity. (Nor, for that matter, does his Father.) He was first made by a
union of his heavenly parents. After having been reared and taught in the
heavens, he achieved a certain divine stature. Through carnal relations with
her Heavenly Father, the Virgin became pregnant with this lesser god. Mormons
now believe that Christ's divinity is virtually equal to that of his Father's.
As we have seen, this is a compromised godhood: Jesus Christ merely joins the
end of a long line of gods who have preceded him, an infinite 'regression' of
divine beings whose origin Mormons cannot explain." 15
Again, a group of apologists from his own church
recognizes that the Mormon Jesus is much different than the Christian Jesus. At
this point, Waltz comes out with quite an amazing statement: "The section
'Jesus and The Virgin Birth' is almost not worth mentioning. I think it is safe
to say that Mormons believe in the Virgin Birth. There has certainly been much
speculation by Mormon authors as to the 'what' and 'how' of the Virgin Birth,
but one thing is certain: the Virgin Birth is never denied. I find it
interesting that McKeever and Johnson quote the following statement made by BYU
professor Stephen E. Robinson in the 1997 Southern Baptist Convention video The
Mormon Puzzle: The official doctrine of the Church is that Jesus is the literal
offspring of God. He's got 46 chromosomes; 23 came from Mary, 23 came from God
the eternal Father. Robinson's statement is profound. McKeever and Johnson seem
to deny that 23 of Jesus' chromosomes came from God the Father. If God the
Father did not provide 23 of Jesus' chromosomes (miraculously through the power
of the Holy Spirit), then who did?"
Based on the
information we provided in our book, how can any of this be said? We have to
wonder what kind of Catholicism Waltz follows. We have met numerous Catholics
who have become distraught when they comprehend the Virgin Birth as painted by
LDS leaders. As far as Waltz' question, "If God the Father did not
provide 23 of Jesus' chromosomes, then who did?" we wonder if he is
really serious. His question makes me doubt his comprehension of his own
professed young faith. Jesus is fully God and fully man. To even play games
with "chromosomes" is to insinuate that Jesus was literally and biologically
conceived through the Father and Mary, which is LDS teaching, not Catholic. The
Christian Virgin Birth is much different than anything described by LDS
What began as an introduction by a nonmember of the LDS Church turned into a rambling piece, especially in the second
half of the article. Waltz is entitled to his opinion, which he certainly
shares with us in this rebuttal. As a new Catholic, he certainly does not speak
for the Catholic Church. In fact, his views even contradict a major Catholic
apologetic ministry, which debunks the idea that, as Waltz puts it, "there
can be no consensus on what truly constitutes 'historic/orthodox' Christian
To even say such a
thing is ridiculous, for if we were to abide by Waltz' thinking, then Hindus
and Muslims should both be considered "Christian" since they both believe in
God and confirm that Jesus was a great ethical teacher. And Paul obviously did
not know what he was talking about when he claimed there were other gospels
(Gal. 1:8-10). If Waltz' arguments are to have any validity, then it must be
true that all paths must lead to God since words would therefore not have any
In order to make this review easier to read, all original quotes from the Mormonism
201 rebuttal are boldfaced and italicized to separate these from the rest
of the rejoinder.
Steven Robinson (Mormon) and Craig Blomberg (evangelical Christian) dialogued
in a book called How Wide the Divide: An Evangelical & A Mormon In
Conversation (IVP, 1997).
Not one of those quotes came from the Standard Works; in fact, I don't believe
Waltz ever gives an original quote from the Standard Works in any part of his
article, and that includes the Bible.
"Lord, I Believe; Help Thou Mine Unbelief," Ensign, November 2003, p.22.
Apostle Bruce R. McConkie said, "Implicit in the Christian verity that all
men are the spirit children of an Eternal Father is the usually unspoken truth
that they are also the offspring of an Eternal Mother," Mormon Doctrine
The House of the Lord, Salt Lake City: Deseret, 1912, p.85.
"Distinctive Beliefs of the Catholic Church,
Personal e-mail from 7/28/03
I printed out a copy of his Internet article on May 9, 2002. This means
that, at the very least, he began his rebuttal to our introduction
conversion to Catholicism, and though I cannot confirm it, his article
probably posted before Easter 2002. So when he wrote this rebuttal, did
consider himself a Catholic? A non-denominational Christian? Or nothing
Personal e-mail from 7/17/03. At the end of providing me some information on
Waltz, Graham concluded, "Just curious… what is your purpose in this
questionare? Are you under the assumption that he is perhaps an LDS only posing
as a Catholic?"
Personal e-mail from 7/16/03.
14 There is no doubt that, as U2 put it, Waltz "still
haven't found what (he's) looking for." I, for one, would not be surprised if
he eventually joins the LDS Church in continuation of his personal spiritual pilgrimage.