Why Clarify Mormonism?

By Bill McKeever


A Mormon responding to mrm.org wrote:

“I read your statement about why y’all have chosen to target Mormons, and I must say first of all to your credit, even though I very strongly disagree with what you’re doing, it’s the most compassionate motive for doing what you do that I’ve ever heard. But I have never understood why you feel the need to clarify what Mormons teach. We do no such thing with other faiths. Don’t you think that your time would be much better suited teaching what you believe and letting someone make a decision based on that?”

Even before I became a Christian, I had a special place in my heart for the LDS people. Growing up in California, I had several friends who were LDS. These friendships did not end merely when I came to see the theological problems with their faith. Many Mormons are under the impression that one of the main reasons Christians critique the LDS faith is because there must be some innate prejudice towards them as people. While I cannot speak for everyone in the world, I can say that is not at all the motivation behind what we do here at Mormonism Research Ministry, nor do I think that is what motivates the great majority of ministries that examine the LDS faith.

Why do we feel the need to clarify what Mormons teach? Well, quite simply it is because the LDS Church leaders have a history of being vague about the doctrines that clearly separate Mormonism from the Christian norm. Most people assume when a church claims to be Christian and uses words and phrases that Christians have used for centuries (e.g., God, salvation, scriptures, etc.), that the definitions are the same. This is not at all the case when it comes to the LDS Church.

A quick look at article one in the Articles of Faith bolsters my point. “We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.” At face value this statement appears to be very orthodox. However, most people have no idea that Joseph Smith taught that God was not eternally God, but was at one time a mortal man who became a God at a particular point in time.

For two thousand years Christians have worshipped a God of spirit. Since this is the case, it would be a great error to automatically assume, based on the wording of Article One, that outsiders would understand that Mormons believe and worship a God who has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s. Such a notion would never enter the mind of a person who is not already familiar with Smith’s theology.

This becomes particularly problematic when one takes into consideration that Mormons are often very reluctant to volunteer necessary distinctions to prospective converts. I can’t begin to count how many times I have counseled with new converts to the LDS Church who insisted that the missionaries did not tell them even the most rudimentary differences that are unique to Mormonism.

When MRM examines and reports on how Mormonism differs from biblical Christianity, we are in fact teaching what Christians actually believe.

Further Reading