By Eric Johnson
According to the teaching of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, original Christianity was marred by the Great Apostasy, which took place soon after the death of Jesus’s twelve disciples. This left the authority of the church in flux until it was eventually restored by LDS founder Joseph Smith. Second President Brigham Young was very clear about this teaching:
The people called Christians are shrouded in ignorance, and read the Scriptures with darkened understandings (Journal of Discourses 7:333)
Should you ask why we differ from other Christians, as they are called, it is simply because they are not Christians as the New Testament defines Christianity (Journal of Discourses 10:230).
Historically, Young was not the only leader to shred the historic Christian church. For instance, his successor, John Taylor, taught:
What does the Christian world know about God? Nothing; yet these very men assume the right and power to tell others what they shall not believe in. Why so far as the things of God are concerned, they are the veriest of fools; they know neither God nor the things of God (Journal of Discourses 13:225).
Sixth President Joseph F. Smith explained:
. . . for I contend that the Latter-day Saints are the only good and true Christians, that I know anything about in the world. There are a good many people who profess to be Christians, but they are not founded on the foundation that Jesus Christ himself has laid (Joseph F. Smith, November 2, 1891, [Stake conference message], Collected Discourses, 2:305. Ellipsis mine).
Apostle Bruce R. McConkie was quite critical of the teachings of the historic Christian church:
And virtually all the millions of apostate Christendom have abased themselves before the mythical throne of a mythical Christ whom they vainly suppose to be a spirit essence who is incorporeal uncreated, immaterial and three-in-one with the Father and Holy Spirit (Mormon Doctrine, 1966, p. 269).
He minced no words when he stated:
Modern Christians, as part of their various creeds and doctrines, have inherited many myths, legends, and traditions from their ancestors — all of which views they falsely assume are part of true religion… Indeed, it would be difficult to assemble a greater number of myths into one philosophical system than are now found in the philosophies of modern Christendom. Except for its ethical teachings, so-called Christianity does not come much nearer the truth in many respects than did the Lamanite legends uncovered by Cortez and his followers, or than the Greek, Roman, or Norse mythology. A myth is a myth whether it parades under Biblical names or openly acclaims itself to be the figment of someone’s imagination (Mormon Doctrine, 1966, p. 525. Ellipsis mine).
Some might say this was just Bruce McConkie being “Bruce McConkie.” But in recent years, a number of quotes separating “modern Christendom” from the LDS Church can be found. For instance, this is what Dallin H. Oaks, the first counselor in the First Presidency, told a general conference audience in 1995:
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has many beliefs in common with other Christian churches. But we have differences, and those differences explain why we send missionaries to other Christians” (“Apostasy and Restoration,” Ensign (Conference Edition), May 1995, p. 84)
Apostle Neil Maxwell compared the teachings of Mormonism with biblical Christianity:
Some ask, “Aren’t there many of other faiths who love Christ?” Of course there are! However, as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, having a witness of His reality not only from the Bible but also from the Book of Mormon; knowing His priesthood has been restored to the earth; having made sacred covenants to follow Him and received the gift of the Holy Ghost; having been endowed with power in His holy temple; and being part of preparing for His glorious return to the earth, we cannot compare what we are to be with those who have not yet received these truths (“Never Leave Him,” Ensign (Conference Edition), November 2010, p. 41).
And 15th President Gordon B. Hinckley explained,
We can respect other religions, and must do so. We must recognize the great good they accomplish. We must teach our children to be tolerant and friendly toward those not of our faith. We are not out to injure other churches. We are not out to hurt other churches. We do not argue with other churches. We do not debate with other churches. We simply say to those who may be of other faiths or of no faith, “You bring with you such truth as you have, and let us see if we can add to it” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Gordon B. Hinckley, p. 277).
Perhaps most condescending of all the possible quotes that could be shared comes from a church manual, which is correlated and reviewed by the First Presidency:
Many in the Christian world are sincere, and their false doctrinal conclusions are not their own fault (Old Testament Student Manual 1 Kings-Malachi Religion 302, 2003, p. 166).
If you are a Christian, isn’t it nice to know that your wrong beliefs are not your “own fault”!
What Does Christianity Teach
Christianity denies that all divine authority left the earth soon after the death of the biblical apostles. Rather, there have been true God followers on this earth since believers were first called “Christians” at Antioch. Because Mormonism denies or distorts all fundamental teachings of the historic Christian church, Evangelical Christians should understand that Mormonism is not the same as Christianity. While we should be gentle and respectful in our evangelistic witness and be friendly, Christians should not join hands (in a spiritual sense) or fellowship with those from the LDS Church.
Verses used to support the idea that Christianity fell into apostasy include:
- Isaiah 24:5: Great Apostasy
- Amos 8:11-12: The Great Apostasy?
- 2 Thessalonians 2:3: The Great Apostasy?
- 2 Timothy 3:1-5: The Great Apostasy?