A Response to Greg Trimble’s blog post titled “51 Questions That Might Lead You to Mormonism”
By Cory Anderson
Editor’s note: The following is the print version of Cory Anderson’s response to Greg Trimble.
Listen to the Viewpoint on Mormonism podcast series (with Bill McKeever and Cory Anderson) on this topic that aired April 27-May 2015
On March 11, 2015 Greg Trimble wrote a blog post titled “51 Questions That Might Lead You to Mormonism.”  A few people from the church where I pastor brought the blog post to my attention, so I read it and decided to provide the following response.
Greg Trimble begins his post with the following introduction:
When I was 20 years old…my religion was more about surfing and baseball than it was about anything else. For some odd reason…I still wasn’t happy. A couple important people in my life suggested that I ought to research Mormonism and determine whether it was true or not.
One of the most important decisions a person makes in their life is their choosing of a religion or church to join. It’ll shape the way they think, determine the things they do, and impact their overall happiness.
At 20, I began to seriously consider the doctrines of the Mormon Church. Those doctrines started making me a better person. That was the first real and tangible evidence for me. But lots of people challenged me to stop being delusional and look at the facts about the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith, and the LDS Church. The Bible says “He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.” (Prov 18:13) so I try to be open and consider the things that people have sent me. As I consider each of the various arguments against Mormonism, my mind always comes back to the many questions that Mormon doctrine seems to answer with ease. These questions….and their answers form what I consider to be a doctrinal “Mormon Superstructure.”
I haven’t found any other religion that can logically answer these basic questions. This fact alone keeps my interest in the Mormon faith piqued.
So here are 51 questions that have helped me form that superstructure. You don’t have to read them all. Pick one or two or ten…and it might just make you want to stop and talk with those missionaries just a little longer next time.
Having read through all 51 questions that have formed Trimble’s “Mormon Superstructure,” I wonder how the author has not “found any other religion that can logically answer these basic questions.” It seriously makes me wonder how much he has studied and interacted with Christians who know what they believe and why they believe it since many of his questions are very basic and easily answered.
The following is my response to Trimble’s article. I offer this in the hope that the reader will discover “51 Answers That Might Lead Them Away From Mormonism and into True Christianity.” However, before I provide my 51 answers, I want to take a moment to examine the arrangement and structure of Trimble’s questions.
Trimble refers to 51 questions that have formed his superstructure of Mormonism. It appears that he has attempted to present these questions in a logical manner in hopes that the reader will arrive at his conclusion that his religion is true. It is important to understand that Trimble is leading the reader down a path. Each question is loaded with LDS beliefs and assumptions that need to be addressed.
What is Trimble’s logical arrangement of topics presented in the 51 questions? It appears he has a total of 12 subjects that he believes may lead a person to become a Mormon if the article’s points are followed logically from beginning to end.
1. The Church (The True Church) – Question 1.
In question #1 Trimble appears to stir confusion about the modern church by presenting it as splintered and lacking unity. He is likely doing this in hopes that the reader might accept the LDS Church as the one true church (D&C 1:30).
2. The Bible (Contradictions and an Open Canon) – Questions 2-4.
In questions 2-4 it appears that Trimble’s goal is to get the reader to distrust the Bible as the final authority in matters of faith. He does this by making the claim that the Bible has contradictions and that the Canon of Scripture is still open. (A closed Canon simply means that no more Scripture or revelation is being given.) While the LDS Church affirms belief in the Bible, it also teaches how the Bible has been corrupted (1 Nephi 13) and that new revelation is available today through their living prophets.
3. Pre-mortal Existence of Mankind – Questions 5-6.
The LDS Church believes that we are all literal “spirit” children of Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother. According to Mormonism, Heavenly Parents gave birth to all spirits; those who were allowed to come to earth were physically born to earthly parents. Trimble’s questions are designed to get the reader to accept the doctrine of preexistence.
4. The Nature of God – Questions 7-13.
From this grouping of questions it appears that Trimble is leading his readers to accept the LDS doctrine that there are two separate personages known as the Father and the Son; he assumes that these two separate personages cannot be part of the Trinity doctrine historically taught by Christian churches. In addition to this, he would like to reader to embrace a belief in polytheism (the existence of many gods) as well as the belief that humans can also become gods.
5. Post-mortem Salvation (Baptisms for the Dead) – Questions 14-18.
The next five questions seem to focus on the big question of what happens to those who have died without ever having a chance to accept Mormonism? According to LDS doctrine, those who have never heard the LDS gospel will be given an opportunity in the afterlife in a place called spirit prison where they will have the “restored gospel” preached to them (D&C 138). For those who were unbaptized in this life, humans still on earth can be baptized on their behalf in the LDS temple ceremony known as baptism for the dead.
6. Pastors and Pay – Question 19.
It does not appear that question 19 really fits into the logical arrangement of material presented by Trimble, so it is a bit unclear why he has placed the question here other than to further discredit Christian churches and their pastors, in particular.
7. The Nature of Heaven (Works and the degrees of glory) – Questions 20-25.
In questions 20-25 the groundwork is laid for the acceptance of the LDS doctrine that there are three levels of heaven or glory (telestial, terrestrial and celestial). To make it to the highest level of Mormonism’s heaven, a person needs to keep the commandments outlined by the LDS Church.
Up to this point Trimble’s superstructure appears to exist to discredit the church and its pastors, show how the Bible is not reliable and trustworthy, and explain how Christians are wrong about the nature of God, preexistence, and the afterlife.
8. The Restoration of the Church – Questions 26-27.
9. The Temple in Mormonism – Questions 28-34.
Questions 28-34 are clustered together to argue for the importance of temple work. Trimble wants Christians to question why their churches don’t build temples. Here Trimble lays the groundwork for accepting the necessity of Mormonism’s version of the temple so that the genealogical work that leads to baptisms for the dead can be performed, marriages for eternity can take place, and families can be sealed together.
10. The Book of Mormon – Questions 35-43.
Questions 35-43 are designed to get the reader to accept that Joseph Smith is the translator of the Book of Mormon. Because Smith was too uneducated to write it, it is assumed that this must therefore come from God. A few questions are intended to cause the reader to accept that the Book of Mormon is supported by a number of witnesses who allegedly saw or handled the Book of Mormon plates and that the people portrayed in this LDS scriptue came from North, Central, and South America.
11. The Credibility of Joseph Smith as a Prophet – Questions 44-48.
Questions 44-48 have to do with the character of Joseph Smith. Trimble attempts to get the reader to accept that Smith was a man of integrity even though he was a polygamist because he was like other polygamist Old Testament saints. Additionally, Trimble would like the reader to believe that Smith’s character was that of a true prophet, not an impostor.
12. Christian Beliefs – Questions 49-51.
These questions deal with Christian churches and beliefs. The first question is designed to get the reader to question if there is a Christian denomination that most resembles the New Testament church in hopes that the reader will look to the LDS Church for the answer. Then, question 50 attempts to show that this church is really no different than Christian churches because its leaders advocate the necessity of making a confession of Christ.
The first 50 questions logically lead Trimble to ask his final question: “Has your church been restored?” It is Trimble’s hope that the readers will take a journey through all 51 questions so they too can feel the force of his superstructure of Mormonism and become LDS.
Having provided a brief overview of Trimble’s superstructure, I would like to provide answers to his 51 questions in hopes that the reader would reject Mormonism and accept the true message of Christianity. I have left Trimble’s questions exactly as he has stated them in his blog while using the broad categories that I have found in his clustering of his questions. 
ANSWERING TRIMBLE’S 51 QUESTIONS
The Church (The True Church) – Question 1
1. There are 50,000+ Christian denominations. Why are they not one church? (Eph 4:5)
Before I provide an answer to this question, I would like to ask a question: Why are there so many splinter groups within Mormonism? Why are they not one church? (For one site’s list of some of Mormonism’s splinter groups since the 1830s, go here.)
I think the answer that a person gives to this question will likely provide the answer to question #1. However, in response to the question I offer the following remarks.
First, this question makes a major assumption that the “50,000+ Christian denominations” are not one church. Is it possible that the existence of many different denominations does not at all take away from the fact that we are all Christians even though part of different denominations? While I am not an expert of every Christian denomination, I do know plenty that are, in fact, genuine Christian and part of the true church because of what they teach about Jesus and the Gospel.
Second, I would also say that just because a particular group claims to be Christian does not actually mean it is a Christian group. Some denominations may not actually be Christian because they have denied the core doctrines of the Christian faith.
Third, the question needs to be asked: What is the one church? Biblically speaking, the church consists of people who have accepted the Gospel as found in the pages of God’s Word. The church consists of people from every tribe, language, and nation who have accepted Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, not accepting a false gospel or false Christ (2 Corinthians 11:1-4; Galatians 1:6-9).
The Bible (Contradictions and an Open Canon) – Questions 2-4
2. If the Bible has obvious contradictions, then how can it be viewed as the final and infallible word of God by Christians? (Acts 9:7, Acts 22:9).
To answer this question, it is first helpful to put both texts in question side by side to see if they are, in fact, contradictory. What can appear to be contradictory is not necessarily contradictory. If a text appears to be in conflict with another text, it’s always good to do a careful and thorough examination of the text or texts in question before passing judgment. Here are the texts in the KJV (King James Version):
ACTS 9:7 KJV
ACTS 22:9 KJV
“The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one.”
“Now those who were with me saw the light but did not hear the voice of the one who was speaking to me.”
Notice how Acts 9:7 says the men traveling with him stood speechless, “hearing the voice…” and yet Acts 22:9 says they “did not hear the voice of the one who was speaking…” Is Greg Trimble correct in stating that this is an obvious contradiction? Notice how other translations translate the Greek of these texts:
ACTS 9:7 NIV
ACTS 22:9 NIV
“The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone.”
“My companions saw the light, but they did not understand the voice of him who was speaking to me.”
At this point it is helpful to understand that the Greek word φωνή (voice) can be translated into English as “sound, voice, noise, or language.” Is Acts 9:7 saying the bystanders heard the actual voice (i.e., heard his words) of the one who was speaking? Or did they just heard the sound (i.e., heard a noise)? If they only heard the sound, then this fits perfectly with Acts 22:9, which says they did not “hear the voice of the one who was speaking to me” (KJV) or they “did not understand the voice of him who was speaking to me.” The end result is the absence of a contradiction.
To help understand the contrast between these two texts, consider the comment provided in the Apologetics Study Bible notes:
Paul’s traveling companions heard the voice but did not see anyone, but here Paul himself said that they did not hear the voice of the One who was speaking to him. The grammar here supports the idea that Paul’s traveling companions may have heard the voice but did not understand it—or at least did not understand it as the voice of the Lord speaking to him. The charge that Paul flagrantly contradicted himself is unnecessarily uncharitable and unlikely given Luke’s concern for precision.
In addition to this, consider the following remark:
An apparent discrepancy stands between verse 7 and 22:9. In 9:7 Luke recorded that the men who traveled with Saul … heard the sound (phōnēs), but in 22:9 Luke wrote that “they did not understand the voice” (phōnēn). Literally, that clause in 22:9 may be translated, “They did not hear the sound.” The NIV correctly translates the verse, because the verb “to hear” with the genitive case may mean “to hear a sound” and with the accusative case “to hear with understanding.” The genitive case is employed in 9:7, and the accusative is used in 22:9. So the travelers with Saul heard the sound (9:7) but did not understand what Christ said (22:9).
We now return to Trimble’s initial question when he asked, “If the Bible has obvious contradictions, then how can it be viewed as the final and infallible word of God by Christians?” The answer is that it does not have “obvious contradictions.” Because of this, we do not have problems with accepting the Bible as the infallible Word of God.
3. Does the Bible say anywhere in it that there will not be any more prophets or any additional scriptures?
Lets just assume for the moment that the Bible does not say there will not be any more prophets or additional scriptures. Does this automatically prove that the Book of Mormon, Doctrine & Covenants, Pearl of Great Price and LDS General Authorities are from God? No, it does not! While it is an important question, it proves nothing.
If additional scripture were being made today, it would need to be consistent with the Word of God that is already revealed. God will not contradict himself. If we find the presence of contradictions between any LDS scriptures and the Bible, then we are commanded to take the Bible over these additional writings and speeches of man. While it is outside of the scope of this question, a study can certainly be made to show how the Bible contradicts the Standard Works. (For more information on this topic, consider this.)
So what does the Bible say about prophets and additional scriptures? Ephesians 2:20 states that the church is built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets. Once the foundation was laid, there is no longer a need for these offices.
What was an apostle? According to Acts 1, he had to be a witness of the resurrection as well as be with Jesus from the beginning. Technically, the role of apostle is only applicable to the original twelve followers of Jesus along with Paul. In a non-technical sense, there are apostles today since the word for apostle literally means “one sent.” For this reason, some believe missionaries are “apostolic” because they are sent to a mission field.
Those who claim to be prophets (like Thomas Monson) cannot contradict the Word of God already revealed. According to Deuteronomy chapters 13 and 18, someone claiming to be a prophet must teach accurately about God and not contradict what God has already revealed. When the prophets of Mormonism are put to the test, they fail every time because of their false teachings concerning God, Jesus, salvation, and a host of other subjects. As an example, consider the plethora of false doctrines espoused by Mormon leaders over the years and encapsulated in the Journal of Discourses. I would urge all who are inquiring about Mormonism to carefully check out the history of Mormonism to see how it is in error.
4. There are various letters from Paul and others that were not included in the Bible. Who gets to decide what goes into the Bible and what gets left out?
It is true that there are various letters from Paul that were not included in the Bible, but we should simply view these as letters that God did not see fit to include in the Bible. I would imagine Paul wrote many things, but not all of his personal correspondence should be considered divinely inspired because Paul was not divinely inspired every time he put his pen to papyrus.
As for who decided which books should be included in the Bible, it is important to note that the process for the inclusion of the Old Testament books came about at a different time than the New Testament books. Take, for example, the writings of the New Testa,emt. All 27 books of the New Testament were widely used in the early Christian church long before there was ever a counsel that made the list of books final. Among the criteria for inclusion, the books that were used and accepted as authoritative had to be written by an apostle or a close associate of an apostle.
Over the years I have gained more confidence in the Word of God because I have taken the time to study the background information regarding the canon of scripture. I encourage the reader to do the same. (For a more comprehensive introduction to this issue the reader is encouraged to read “The Canon of Scripture” by F.F Bruce.)
Pre-mortal Existence of Mankind – Questions 5-6
5. Did we live as pre mortal spirits before we came to earth? (Jer 1:5, Job 38:7)
No, we are not pre-mortal spirits. To accept the LDS doctrine of pre-mortal spirits we would also have to accept the LDS doctrine that we preexisted as literal spirit children of heavenly parents. The Bible does not say anything about Heavenly Father having a wife (Heavenly Mother in LDS teaching) or children for that matter.
So what do texts like Jeremiah 1:5 and Job 38:7 mean?
First, Jeremiah 1:5 does not actually say that Jeremiah existed before he was born. The text says “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart…” In what sense did the LORD know Jeremiah before he was formed in the womb? We must remember that God knows all things and that he has full knowledge about all the details of all our lives before we ever actually come into existence. The LORD is telling Jeremiah that he had a plan for his life long before he was ever brought into existence. (For another explanation, go here.)
Second, the context of Job 38:7 is that the LORD spoke to Job out of the storm (v.1) and asked him a series of rhetorical questions (vv. 2-11). It says:
Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? Declare, if thou hast understanding. 5 Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? Or who hath stretched the line upon it? 6 Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? Or who laid the corner stone thereof; 7 When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy? 8 Or who shut up the sea with doors, when it brake forth, as if it had issued out of the womb? 9 When I made the cloud the garment thereof, and thick darkness a swaddlingband for it, 10 And brake up for it my decreed place, and set bars and doors, 11And said, Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further: and here shall thy proud waves be stayed?
The LORD wanted to know where Job was when all this took place. The point is that Job was not there because he did not yet exist. Therefore, who was he to instruct the LORD? If he preexisted as one of the sons of God, then why would God ask him where he was when all the sons of God shouted for joy?
Third, in Job 38:7 God asks Job where he was “when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy.” From this text it is inferred that the “sons of God” are a reference to the preexistence of spirit children, but there is a problem with this interpretation. While the phrase “sons of God” can refer to people, it is used of angels in Job 1:6 and 2:1 and possibly even in Genesis 6:2. Rather than the presence of preexistent spirit children, Job 38:7 speaks of the presence of angels.
The doctrine of preexistence as pre-mortal spirit children of heavenly parents needs to be backed up biblically. Behind this doctrine of premortal existence is the LDS doctrine that God was once a man who onlylater was exalted to become God. In fact, the Lorenzo Snow Couplet says, “As man is, God once was, as God is, man may become.” He was a man on a planet like ours who was married and then later resurrected to be a god. For more information on this, see Joseph Smith’s sermon titled “The King Follett Discourse.” Again, the real problem is that as we dig into actual Mormon doctrine we find one error after another.
6. Who was “God” talking to when He said “Let us” make man in “our” image and after “our” likeness? (Genesis 1:26-27)
Since the LORD is one being in three persons (Father, Son and Spirit), it is possible that the Father was speaking to the other persons in the Godhead. While this is not the only conclusion arrived at by Old Testament scholars, it is certainly a viable one.
The Nature of God – Questions 7-13
7. Why do people believe God the Father and Jesus Christ are one being when Christ refers to himself and His Father as two men? (John 8:17-18)
Trinitarians have no issue at all with this passage in John or, for that matter, any other biblical text because we accept all texts in the Bible. The question reveals a basic misunderstanding of the doctrine of the Trinity. The Trinity is the belief that there is one God who is the LORD (Yahweh) who exists in three persons. These three persons (not to be understood as three human persons) are co-existent, co-equal and co-eternal. This means they all exist at the same time, they are all equal with each other even though they have differing functions, and they are all eternal in that they have always existed. With this in mind, Jesus can easily speak of the Father and Himself being witnesses.
8. The first Hebrew word for “God” renders the word “God” in the plural. Is there more than one god?
The Bible states repeatedly and clearly that there is only one God (Deuteronomy 6:4; Isaiah 43:10-11). Why then is the Hebrew word “Elohim” Genesis 1:26 in the plural? Does this show that there are other gods? Lets consult a few Hebrew experts for their insight regarding the plural of “Elohim”:
Elohim occurs by far the most often in the Bible (2,750×). As a plural in form it can refer to pagan deities, in which case it is translated “gods” (e.g., Exod. 12:12; 20:3), or to the God of Israel. When used of the one God, it commonly occurs in the Hebrew with singular verbs as it is found here. Why the plural was also used of the one God of Israel is uncertain, though most ascribe it to the use of the Hebrew plural that indicates honor or majesty. As a plural it is a literary convention that reflects special reverence.
Other biblical scholars have stated:
The Hebrew word for “God,” Elohim, is grammatically plural, but does not indicate a numerical plural (i.e., “gods”). Hebrew uses the plural form to indicate honor or intensity, sometimes called the “plural of majesty.” The consistent appearance of a singular adjective (Ps 7:9) or verb (Gn 20:6) used with Elohim shows that the one God is intended. Where the plural adjective or verb occurs, the context determines whether Elohim means the “gods” of the nations (Ex 20:3) or whether the plural agreement is simply due to scribes being more grammatically precise (Gn 19:13; cp. 1:26–27). From the Israelite standpoint the oneness of the true Deity is never in question. In Dt 6:4 “The Lord,” that is, Yahweh the God of Israel, is called “our Elohim,” and declared to be “One.”
In chapter 4 of “The Book of Abraham’”there is a rewritten version of Genesis 1 where the concept of polytheism is expressed in the creation account.
1 And then the Lord said: Let us go down. And they went down at the beginning, and they, that is the Gods, organized and formed the heavens and the earth. 2 And the earth, after it was formed, was empty and desolate, because they had not formed anything but the earth; and darkness reigned upon the face of the deep, and the Spirit of the Gods was brooding upon the face of the waters. 3 And they (the Gods) said: Let there be light; and there was light.
As can be seen from the italicized words above, the LDS Church clearly believes in the existence of many gods, yet the text of Genesis teaches the existence of one God even though the plural form of the Hebrew word for God is used in Genesis 1:26.
9. Why does Paul say that there are lots of gods? (1 Cor 8:5)
Is Paul teaching “there are lots of gods?” To answer this question, lets take a look at 1 Corinthians 8 in the King James Version:
For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,) 6 But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.
Does this text teach the actual existence of many gods and many lords? Are these real beings? If so, is it possible to identify the many gods and many lords that Paul refers to?
In this text Paul is most likely referring to the pantheon of gods among the Greeks and Romans? In commenting on this text, the Apologetics Study Bible states:
Paul’s comment that there were “many ‘gods’ and many ‘lords’” in Corinth is confirmed by the travel writer Pausanias, who visited Corinth soon after Paul. Temples and shrines were everywhere. Pagan priests offered sacrificial animals to the gods; leftover meat was sold in shops. Family dinners were held in rooms attached to the temples in the presence of the statues of deities. The religious culture of Corinth was simultaneously the city’s civic culture. To disengage from the one was to disengage from the other, with serious social and financial consequences.
Is Greg Trimble prepared to accept that all the Greek and Roman gods actually existed as real beings?
In the context of 1 Corinthians 8, Paul is talking about idols and not the actual existence of other beings that are gods and lords. Of the Christians in Corinth, Warren Wiersbe has stated:
They knew that an idol was nothing, merely the representation of a false god who existed only in the darkened minds of those who worshiped it. The presence of an idol in a temple was no solid proof that the god existed. (Later, Paul would point out that idolatry was basically the worship of demons.) So the conclusion was logical: A nonexistent god could not contaminate food offered on his altar.
Is it possible that Paul is simply acknowledging that people worship other gods even though these gods do not really exist? Lets consider some other passages to see what the Bible has to say on the subject:
“Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods.” Galatians 4:8 KJV
“Hath a nation changed their gods, which are yet no gods? But my people have changed their glory for that which doth not profit.” Jeremiah 2:11-12 KJV
“How shall I pardon thee for this? Thy children have forsaken me, and sworn by them that are no gods: when I had fed them to the full, they then committed adultery, and assembled themselves by troops in the harlots’ houses.” Jeremiah 5:7 KJV
“Shall a man make gods unto himself, and they are no gods?” Jeremiah 16:20 KJV
“They provoked him to jealousy with strange gods, with abominations provoked they him to anger.17 They sacrificed unto devils, not to God; to gods whom they knew not, to new gods that came newly up, whom your fathers feared not.” Deut. 32:16-17 KJV
“For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: 19 Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.” Phil. 3:18-19 KJV
“For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God…” 1 Thessalonians 1:9 KJV
“Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me.” Isaiah 43:10-11
It’s clear from the Bible that the “gods” and “lords” that others worshipped were not actual beings that can be classified as gods and lords. While people in other religions worshipped these as their gods and lords, this does not mean they actually existed. A glance over the above mentioned texts reveals that the gods worshipped by others are not by nature gods and in some cases may be the worship of demons (Deuteronomy 32:17; 1 Corinthians 10:20-21). (For more on 1 Cor. 8:5, go here.)
10. Why do so many of the “Early Christian Fathers” (those that were closest to the New Testament church) and respected Christian scholars such as C.S. Lewis speak of there being multiple gods?
Since Trimble does not actually cite any of the Early Church Fathers in support of his statement, I am unable to provide an examination of his claim. My assumption is that Trimble is making reference to the orthodox doctrine known as theosis, which is not at all the same thing as the LDS view that man can become a god.
As for his comment about C.S Lewis, Trimble does not provide a reference for his claim that Lewis believed in the existence of multiple gods. Let’s assume that Lewis did affirm the existence of multiple gods. Lewis, like anyone, is subject to the Word of God and would have to explain how he arrived at such a conclusion when the evidence as presented in answer to question #9 indicates there is only one God in existence. We do not follow a man, we follow the Word of God.
11. The word “God” is a title. It’s not the actual name of Christ and it’s not the name of Heavenly Father. So could others like you and I be called using that same title someday if we are faithful children of a being with the title of “God”? (John 10:30-36) (Romans 8:16-17).
When Jesus is called God, it means that he possesses all the attributes of the one true God of the Bible. Humans can never be called God because there is only one true God and it is impossible to gain His attributes. The Bible does not state anywhere that our hope is to someday become a god.
Trimble asks if the title God be applied to us someday if we are faithful. The answer to this question is no because there is a vast difference between being God and being man. For the LDS Church, a faithful member will not be exalted to the status of god until the resurrection, but according to John 10:34 and Psalm 82, the title god is given to Israel’s judges on earth.
In John 10, Jesus quotes from Psalm 82 where God refers to Israel’s judges as gods, but it should be noted that he does so negatively. As judges, they were representatives of God, much like Moses was God to the people in Exodus 7:1-2, yet Israel’s judges had failed to represent God as they should to the people. For more information, go here.
The second passage Trimble mentions is Romans 8:16-17 which has absolutely nothing to do with becoming a god. For a better understanding of this passage, consult my answer to question 20. For more information, go here.
12. Christ tells us to become perfect. God is perfect. Does that mean we can become like God? (Matt 5:48)
Matthew 5:48 in the KJV is rendered, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” A few comments on this text are in order.
First, it is correct to say that we can become like God as long as we keep in mind that we will never become God or a god. We can, and should, strive to become like him in character. We should seek to have love, goodness, holiness and many other qualities that God possesses as we seek to be like him.
Second, in Christian theology, some make a helpful distinction between God’s communicable and non-communicable attributes. A communicable attribute is something humans can share with God. Examples of this are attributes like love, kindness, and joy. A non-communicable attribute is something that only God can possess. An example of this is God’s omniscience. Only God knows everything. It’s important to keep the in mind the distinction between the Creator and the creature. He is God and we will never be in that category.
Third, the word for “perfect” in Matthew 5:48 can also be translated “complete” or “mature.” In what sense are we to be “perfect,” “complete,” or “mature”? We are to be perfect or complete in that we do not lack any moral quality. In this way, we are to be like our Heavenly Father who lacks nothing. In light of this, Matthew 5:48 has nothing to do with becoming a god.
13. Why would Christ be resurrected with his actual body if he was only just a manifestation of the Father?
In this question Trimble reveals his lack of understanding of the doctrine of the Trinity. As Trinitarians, we do not believe Jesus “was only just a manifestation of the Father.” Trimble seems to be referring to the false teaching known as Modalism, which says that there is one God who has “manifested” himself in three modes: Father, Son, and now Spirit.
From the New Testament we can see that Jesus and the Father are co-existent with each other and therefore cannot be a manifestation of the Father. An example of this is the baptism of Jesus in Matthew 3 where the Father, Son and Spirit are all present at the same time.
Post-mortem Salvation (Baptisms for the Dead) – Questions 14-18
14. You must accept Christ in order to be saved. But what if you never even heard of the name of Christ while in your lifetime?
This is a question that Christians have wrestled with because we do not want anyone to spend eternity in hell (Rom. 9:1; 10:1). A variety of answers have been put forward by believers on this subject. As Christians, we are committed to finding answers from God’s Word. As a result, the Bible must be consulted to deal with this very sensitive issue. What does it teach?
- We know that salvation is found only in Jesus (Acts 4:12; John 14:6). As a result, people cannot be saved any other way or through any other religion or belief.
- We know that a person must be “born again” or it is impossible to enter the Kingdom of God (John 3).
- We know that a person must accept the Gospel (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).
- We know that missions exist because people need to hear the Gospel to be saved. If there is another way for them to be saved, then there is no need for missions (Romans 10:14-15; Matthew 28:19-20).
- We know that “whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them” (John 3:36).
- We know that God is just, holy, and righteous. He cannot turn a blind eye to sin by ignoring it. A person who hopes to go to heaven must be forgiven of all sin.
- What we do not know clearly from the Bible is how God will deal with those hard cases: those mentally unable to comprehend the Gospel, the infant, or those who have never heard. We know that all of the previously mentioned points are still true, and yet it is possible, in God’s plan, that He has a way of applying the atoning work of Christ that he has not revealed in the Word. Our focus should be determining the truth of the Gospel messageand not trying to figure out the fate of those listed above.
While the Bible is not clear about some matters, the LDS Church provides the nonbiblical answers, assuming that everyone will receive some degree of glory and that those who die without the LDS Gospel will have opportunity in the afterlife to accept it.
15. Would a just God condemn someone merely because of the space of time in which they lived on the earth?
It would be “unjust” for God to condemn people who do not deserve to be condemned, but God is perfectly just to condemn sinners because they deserve nothing but His justice. We must keep in mind that, as sinners, we are guilty before God (Romans 3:10, 23; 6:23) who stand condemned already (John 3:16-18). The Good News is that it is possible to receive mercy and grace. In answer to Trimble’s question, I would say yes, a just God will condemn sinners apart from them accepting the Gospel. This is why missions exists.
16. If baptism is required for salvation as taught by Jesus Christ (John 3:3-5), what happens to those that never had the chance to be baptized such as infants that died near child birth?
First, it needs to be pointed out that Jesus was not addressing Christian baptism in John 3:3-5. It needs to be remembered that Christian baptism was not even taking place at the time Jesus walked this earth.
Second, Jesus was surprised that Nicodemus, as the teacher of Israel, did not know that he needed to be born again. Why was Jesus surprised? As the teacher of Israel, he should have known about Ezekiel 36:24-27 where God said:
Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. 26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. 27And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.
Nicodemus should have understood that he needed to be born again because God had already spoken of the need for spiritual rebirth in Ezekiel 36. The water in John 3 is not a reference to the waters of baptism; it is a reference to the cleansing we all need in order to be made right with God. When Jesus said “you must be born again” and that you must be “born of the water and the spirit,” he was referring to a spiritual rebirth.
In a similar way, Titus 3:4-5 states:
But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost…”.
The washing of water is a reference to “regeneration” and “renewal” that comes through the Holy Spirit. Regeneration is God making those who are spiritually dead in sin alive in Christ (Ephesians 2:1-5).
Second, the New Testament does not teach baptism is required for salvation. Instead, salvation by grace alone through faith and not by works is stressed over and over again (i.e. Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:4-6; Romans 4).
Third, Trimble assumes that a child is needs to be baptized in order to get to the highest heaven based on his presupposition that baptism is required for celestial glory. The problem is Jesus did not teach the necessity of baptism in John 3; the text says nothing of children directly. Trimble is clearly leading the reader down a road to accept the LDS doctrine of baptisms for the dead. It is to this subject I now turn.
17. Why would Paul speak to the Corinthians about baptism for the dead, and why is this concept overlooked in mainstream Christianity? (1 Cor 15:29)
Several comments need to be made about this passage. First, supposing this passage is affirming the practice of baptisms for the dead, why should we conclude that the LDS Church is performing this practice properly when the New Testament alone mentions this practice in this text? Do we have enough information about the subject to really conclude that the LDS Church is doing it right? Clearly the answer is no.
Second, Paul is not affirming the practice of baptisms for the dead for the following reasons:
1. Paul distances himself from those who baptize for the dead. To see the distinction Paul is making, take note of the underlined portion of 1 Corinthians 15:29 (KJV) where Paul says, “Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? Why are they then baptized for the dead? 30 And why stand we in jeopardy every hour? 31 I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.” Paul is acknowledging the presence of some who practice baptisms for the dead, but he does not affirm that the practice is a good thing or that he shares the belief.
2. Paul’s argument in 1 Corinthians 15 shows that he is not supporting a doctrine of baptism for the dead; rather he is using the faulty practice of some to point out that their denials of the resurrection make no sense in light of their practice of baptizing the dead. How do we know this?
The entire context of 1 Corinthians 15 is Paul’s defense of the resurrection. Apparently some in Corinth were denying the resurrection. In support of the resurrection, Paul painstakingly argues that apart from a belief in the resurrection a person cannot even be saved because the resurrection of Christ is core to the Gospel message (15:1-11). If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and our faith is futile. In fact, we are false witnesses about God, still in our sins, and to be pitied above all others (15:12-19).
With this context in mind, take another look at 1 Corinthians 15:29: “Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? Why are they then baptized for the dead? It appears Paul is refuting false teachers who were in denial of the resurrection on the one hand, and practicing baptisms for the dead on the other hand. Paul is simply pointing out their inconsistency by using their erroneous views against them.
To answer Trimble, mainstream Christianity does not overlook baptism for the dead because it does not see the practice mentioned in 1 Corinthians 15:29 to be a Christian practice.
18. Why would Christ preach to the dead if the people that had died without confessing Christ had no chance in the after life? (1 Peter 3:18-19) (1 Pet 4:6)
The LDS concept that Jesus preached the Gospel to the dead is found in D&C 138 and is based upon Joseph F. Smith’s claim to have received revelation concerning the “Savior’s visit to the spirits of the dead while his body was in the tomb” (see introduction to D&C 138). What we discover in D&C 138 is a faulty interpretation of 1 Peter 3:18-20 and 4:6, not a revelation.
First, according to D&C 138:28-37, Jesus did not preach to the spirits in prison, he organized his messengers to do the work. He apparently did this because the time between his crucifixion and resurrection was too brief for him to preach to the spirits in prison and perform the necessary labor among them (138:27-28).
Let’s assume the interpretation of 1 Peter 3:18-20 and 4:6 is correct in that Jesus preached to the spirits in prison during his time in the tomb. Where does it say that he did this preaching through his organization of the righteous? It does not! Take a look again at what the text actually states:
For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: 19 By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; 20 Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. 1 Peter 3:18-20 KJV
Peter tells us that Jesus himself went and did the preaching unto the spirits in prison.
Second, the message preached to the spirits in prison is a false gospel because it included “vicarious baptism for the remission of sins” (138:13) and “all other principles of the gospel that were necessary for them to know in order to qualify themselves…” (138:34, 58-59). A message that includes works as necessary for entrance into glory (D&C 138:4) is a false gospel because salvation comes by grace alone (Eph. 2:8-9).
Third, the messengers appear to include people like Adam, Eve, Abel, Noah, and many other OT prophets (138:30, 36-60). First Peter 3:18-20 and 4:6 mentions nothing of any OT saint preaching the Gospel in the spirit world.
Now that we’ve examined D&C 138, we need to turn our attention to 1 Peter 3:18-19 and 4:6. Did Jesus preach the Gospel to those who had died without confessing Christ? A few comments are in order:
First, 1 Peter 3:18-20 is one of the most challenging texts in the NT to interpret. In light of this, a general principle of Bible interpretation is that we allow the clear passages to help us interpret the more difficult passages and not the other way around. To build a doctrine off an obscure passage often results in bizarre doctrines like we find in D&C 138.
Second, a number of interpretations of 1 Peter 3:18-20 exist among scholars because of the Greek of this text. Some examples will suffice to make this point:
- Should the passage be rendered “put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit” or “put to death in the flesh, but quickened in the Spirit”? The Greek prepositions can be translated in, by, or with.
- How should we understand the word “spirit”? Since the word is the same in Greek for the Holy Spirit, or our spirit, how can we decide which way to translate this text?
- Does the passage speak of Jesus being put to death in the flesh (physical dead) but quickened by the Holy Spirit (resurrection) or quickened in the Holy Spirit (made alive in the realm of the Spirit)?
As one can see, there are many options to consider based on the careful examination of the Greek text.
Third, what did Christ preach? The normal word for “Gospel” is not used in this passage, so it does not appear that Jesus preached the Gospel to them. He simply made some sort of “proclamation” to these spirits. What did he proclaim? Who are the spirits? Are these the spirits (angels) that are in prison because of their actions described in Genesis 6:1-4 and 1 Peter 3:20? Are these human beings who are now disembodied and in the spirit realm awaiting resurrection? Did Jesus preach through Noah to people who are now spirits in prison? (For more on 1 Peter 3, see here.)
How should we understand 1 Peter 4:6? Let’s read the passage in question:
Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you: 5 Who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead. 6 For this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.
Does this passage indicate that the Gospel is being preached to those who are physically dead or that the spiritually dead have the Gospel preached to them (Eph. 2:1)? Does this passage indicate that the Gospel is being preached to those who are physically dead or that the Gospel was preached to them that were alive physically, but now are dead?
Mormonism would like to claim they know the true interpretation of these passages because of divine revelation, but what they have failed to do is a careful study of the texts in their historical and grammatical contexts.
Pastors and Pay – Question 19
19. Many pastors get paid big bucks to be pastors when Paul says we should minister for free? Should a church have a paid or unpaid ministry? (1 Cor 9:18)
I want to point out the hypocrisy of the LDS Church in its attack upon pastors for getting paid when its mission presidents are paid. The “Mission Presidents Handbook 2006” states the following under “Family Finances” in Appendix B:
Monthly Reimbursement of Living Expenses
While you are serving as mission president, the Church reimburses the necessary living expenses for you, your wife, and your dependent children. Dependent children are defined as those who are under age 26, have not been married, and are not employed full-time. Living expenses include food, clothing, household supplies, family activities, dry cleaning, personal long-distance calls to family, and modest gifts (for example, Christmas, birthdays, or anniversary).
change of a child’s status because of a mission call, marriage, graduation, or full-time employment, please call the Missionary Department (801-240-3070).
In addition, the following are provided or reimbursed:
- Medical expenses including dental and eye care, but not orthodontics or elective or cosmetic surgery if not covered by personal health insurance. In unusual situations when orthodontic care is needed, consult with the Missionary Department (801-240-3070). If you have dependent children living away from home in the United States who need medical treatment, you should consult Missionary Medical in advance (800-777-1647 or 801-578- 5650). Missionary Medical can assist in arranging treatment and monitoring the situation.
- Support for children serving full-time missions, when requested.
- One round trip for each unmarried child under age 26 to visit you in the mission if he or she did not accompany you to the field.
- Elementary and secondary school expenses for tuition, fees, books, and materials. Reasonable expenses for extracurricular activities and for music or dance lessons may be reimbursed.
- Undergraduate tuition at an accredited college or university that offers two-or four-year degrees. Tuition is waived at Church-owned schools. Tuition at other schools is reimbursed after the classes have been successfully completed. The tuition reimbursement will not exceed the equivalent of current tuition at Brigham Young University, regardless of the actual tuition cost. Students must meet the same standards for enrollment as others; the Missionary Department does not facilitate acceptance into Church-owned schools.
The following higher-education expenses are not reimbursed: college application fees, college entrance exams, preparatory or remedial classes (or English for the TOEFL exam), nontuition fees, books, expenses for graduate degrees, and similar expenses.
The amount of any funds reimbursed to you should be kept strictly confidential and should not be discussed with missionaries, other mission presidents, friends, or family members.
I don’t have a problem with mission presidents (or anyone else, for that matter). However, I do have a problem with the hypocrisy of attacking paid clergy when the LDS leaders are clearly paid. I would also like to distance myself and all the other faithful pastors whom I personally know with those on television who peddle the Word of God for profit. We are quite appalled at the abuse of televangelists and prosperity preachers.
Paul does not say that pastors should minister for free. Paul clearly stated that he ministered for free, but he has the right to pay. Let’s take a look at 1 Corinthians 9:7-18 a bit more carefully to see what Paul has to say about ministers being paid.
Who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges? Who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit thereof? Or who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock? 8 Say I these things as a man? Or saith not the law the same also? 9 For it is written in the Law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen? 10Or saith he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written: that he that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope. 11 If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things? 12 If others be partakers of this power over you, are not we rather? Nevertheless we have not used this power; but suffer all things, lest we should hinder the gospel of Christ. 13 Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? And they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar? 14 Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel. 15 But I have used none of these things: neither have I written these things, that it should be so done unto me: for it were better for me to die, than that any man should make my glorying void. 16 For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel! 17 For if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward: but if against my will, a dispensation of the gospel is committed unto me. 18 What is my reward then? Verily that, when I preach the gospel, I may make the gospel of Christ without charge, that I abuse not my power in the gospel.
What is Paul expressing in this passage? He’s making it painstakingly clear that although he has the right to be paid, he has chosen not to exercise that right for himself for a number of reasons (vv.15-18). Paul is not against anyone who chooses differently and is even in support of those who choose to be paid.
Let’s take note of the examples from life that Paul gives to support ministers being paid. He refers to persons who go to war, plant vineyards, and feed flocks and how they all receive some form of compensation. The soldier does not go to war on his own expense. The one who plants a vineyard eats the grapes. The one who feeds the flocks drinks the milk. Paul’s point is that it should be no different for those who are serving Christ in the ministry.
Second, in verses 9-11, Paul appeals to the Old Testament law found in Deuteronomy 25:4 to support the idea that ministers should be paid. His point is that even the ox needs to eat. In 1 Timothy 5:17-18 , Paul quoted again from Deuteronomy 25:4 as he instructed Timothy:
Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine. For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward.
In the context, Paul refers to those who labor in the Word and Doctrine as being worthy of pay and he then quotes from either Leviticus 19:13 or the words of Jesus in Luke 10:7 (KJV) which says, “And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give: for the labourer is worthy of his hire.” It seems as though both Jesus and Paul had a clear understanding that ministers can be paid.
Third, Paul appeals to the Old Testament priests when he says in verses 13 and 14,
Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? And they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar? Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.
For Paul, even these priests received a living from the things of the temple and the altar. If this were true for the priests, why would it not be true for ministers of the Gospel?
Fourth, in verse 14, Paul makes a very clear statement about ministers being paid when he stated, “Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.” In light of the context of 1 Corinthians 9:7-18 regarding ministers being paid, it is a bit shocking to read comments from Mormons who twist 1 Corinthians 9:18 to say something Paul never intended. The context of the passage is of primary importance in proper interpretation.
The Nature of Heaven (Works and the degrees of glory) – Questions 20-25
20. What does Paul mean when he says we can become an heir of God and a joint-heir with Jesus Christ? (Romans 8:16-17)
To understand Romans 8:16-17 we need to look at the context of the passage starting from Romans 8:14-17:
For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. 15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. 16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: 17And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
As Christians, we become God’s children through adoption (Rom. 8:15; Eph. 1:5). As adopted children we are heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ. What does it mean to be an heir of God and a joint-heir with Christ?
In many families children inherit their parents’ estates; each child is an heir and the children together are co-heirs. Similarly, since Christians are God’s children, they are His heirs (cf. Gal. 4:7), and they are co-heirs with Christ. They are recipients of all spiritual blessings (Eph. 1:3) now, and in the future they will share with the Lord Jesus in all the riches of God’s kingdom (John 17:24; 1 Cor. 3:21–23). Sharing with Jesus Christ, however, involves more than anticipating the glories of heaven. For Jesus Christ it involved suffering and abuse and crucifixion; therefore being co-heirs with Christ requires that believers share in His sufferings (cf. John 15:20; Col. 1:24; 2 Tim. 3:12; 1 Peter 4:12).
21. Why do many Christians say that our works don’t matter, but Jesus says that we are required to repent and keep the commandments?
Christians who say our works don’t matter are mistaken and uninformed. Our works do matter, but the question is how do they matter? As Christians, we are to keep the commandments, but we do so out of love for Jesus (John 14:15), not because they are meritorious.
As Christians, we believe that we were at one time spiritually “dead in sin” (Eph. 2:1-3) and that the God who is rich in mercy “made us alive” (Eph. 2:4-7). The act of God whereby He “made us alive”is referred to as “regeneration” or being “born again” (John 3; Titus 3:5-6). This takes place almost simultaneously with repentance and faith. Apart from God’s initiative in regeneration, we could never respond to him with repentance and faith in Jesus when we hear the Gospel. Ephesians 2:8-9 describes how we are saved by God’s grace from being spiritually dead in sin (Eph. 2:1-3) when God regenerates us and we respond to the message of the Gospel with faith in Jesus. Salvation is by God’s grace, requiring nothing more than our willing response to the Gospel upon being made alive through regeneration. According to Ephesians 2:8-9, even faith is a gift from God. Notice in Ephesians 2:8-9 how many ways Paul says that salvation is not by works:
- “For it is by grace you have been saved” – if by grace, then how can it be by works as the very definition of “grace” is that it is undeserving.
- “through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God’”– even our faith in Jesus is a gift and not something we have earned.
- “not by works” – how could Paul be more clear!
- “so that no one can boast” – if we can contribute anything to our salvation we have reason to boast. Paul states we have no reason for boasting.
So where do works fit into the Christian life? Works are the result of an authentic salvation (Eph. 2:10), not the cause of it. Christians do not work for our salvation; we work as a response to God’s mercy and grace. Our works do not save us because we are already “saved” from our sins according to Ephesians 2:1-9. Paul makes it clear in Ephesians 2:10 that even our works are not our own because “we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” When it comes to salvation, there are wrong ways to think about it.
Wrong View #1: Works = Salvation (a popular view among lost people that I am going to heaven because I am good).
Wrong View #2: Faith = Salvation – (minus) works. This is the idea that I can simply pray a prayer to accept Jesus and no evidence needs to exist in my life that I am a Christian. This is known as antinomianism. Too often Mormons wrongly confuse our view with this view
Wrong View #3: Faith + Works = Salvation (LDS view).
There is only one correct view of salvation: Faith = Salvation + (resulting in) Works.
It is very unfortunate that some Christians (or at least those who claim to be) have given the wrong impression to those who are LDS concerning the role of works in the Christian life.
22. The Bible specifically says that we’ll be judged according to our works. Where is the cutoff line for heaven and hell? If you said 20 lies and I said 19, will you go to hell while I go to heaven?
Revelation 20:12-15 states:
And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. 13 The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done. 14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. 15 Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire” (italics and underlining are mine).
What does it mean when the Bible says we will be judged according to what we have done or according to our works/deeds? Trimble would like you to conclude that there are three heavens (telestial, terrestrial, and celestial), with one’s works probably determining which level of glory you will enter at the resurrection. We need to keep in mind, however, that the Bible clearly states that we are saved by grace alone and not by works (Rom. 4; Eph. 2:8-9; Titus 3:4-6). In light of this, the phrase “judged according to what they had done” cannot be a judgment to determine our eternal place of rest as our eternal destiny is determined in this life, not the next (Luke 16:19-30).
So what does the phrase mean? First, the phrase, or similar phrase, is repeated several times in the Bible (Job 34:11; 62:12; Jer. 17:10; Mt. 16:27; 1 Cor. 3:12-15; 2 Cor. 5:10; Rev. 20:12-13; 22:12). In none of these passages does it say that the judgment determines where we spend eternity.
Second, the phrase in Revelation 20:12-15 speaks of two groups being judged. There are those who are already in the Book of Life and those who are not. According to the following passages, the names of true believers were written in the Book of Life from the foundation of the world (Phil. 4:3; Rev. 3:5; 13:8; 17:8; 20:12, 15; 22:27). Their names cannot be removed. Since this is true, the phrase cannot be referring to a judgment to determine where we spend eternity. In other words, God secures our heavenly hope!
Third, since the judgment referred to in these passages does not determine where we spend eternity, what exactly is the judgment? It is a judgment to determine which rewards will be given to believers and which degrees of punishment in hell will be given to unbelievers (Lk. 12:47-48; 1 Cor. 3:12-15; 2 Cor. 5:10). Christians are destined for the same place called heaven, but they will be rewarded there based on works. Unbelievers are all be going to the same place called hell, but they will be receiving various degrees of punishment in hell based on how they lived while on earth.
23. Why do people believe in one heaven and one hell when the Bible teaches that there are various “degrees of glory” after the resurrection? (1 Cor 15:40-42)
As Christians we believe in one heaven and one hell because the Bible teaches there is only one heaven and one hell (Mt. 25:41, 46; Lk. 16:19-30; 2 Thess. 1:5-10; Rev. 20:10). How do we understand 1 Corinthians 15:40-42? Does the Bible teach there are various degrees of glory in this passage?
There is nothing in 1 Corinthians 15 to suggest that there are three levels of glory known as the telestial, terrestrial and celestial kingdoms. So where did this notion come from? In the JST (Joseph Smith Translation – which is NOT a translation in the traditional sense) Joseph Smith altered the original text of 1 Corinthians 15:40 to include the word “telestial” even though there is not one manuscript of the Greek New Testament to support his addition. I want you to notice the differences between the KJV, JST and a more modern translation that is based solidly off the Greek:
King James Version
New International Version
“There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial isanother.”
1 Corinthians 15:40
Also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial, and bodies telestial; but the glory of the celestial, one; and the terrestrial, another; and the telestial, another.
1 Corinthians 15:40
“There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another.”
1 Corinthians 15:40
So where did Smith get the word “telestial” from if it is not in the text and there is no support for its addition from any extant manuscripts of the Greek NT? Was it a revelation from God? Not at all! As he did n many other places in his version, Smith decided to add or delete whatever suited his purposes, even though he actually possessed no authority to alter the Word of God. Smith is guilty of scripture twisting (2 Peter 3:15-18).
What does the Greek actually say? The words “celestial” and “terrestrial” that are found in the KJV simply refer to heaven and earth as more modern translations can testify. The context of 1 Corinthians 15 shows how Paul is not even talking about three levels of glory at all. He is comparing the different types of bodies (heavenly and earthly – sun, moon and sky – see vs. 41) with the two types of bodies we will have – earthly now and heavenly later. My point is that there is nothing in the context of 1 Corinthians 15 to substantiate Smith’s teaching about three levels of glory. Smith’s handling of 1 Corinthians 15 is one of the worst abuses of scripture I have ever seen.
24. What was Paul talking about when he said he saw in vision a “third heaven”? (2 Cor 12:2-4)
Does Paul have the telestial, terrestrial, and celestial kingdoms in mind? Not at all! Paul identifies the third heaven for us in 2 Corinthians 12:4 where he describes it as paradise (See also Lk. 23:43). This is none other than heaven itself. What are the three heavens? “The first heaven is that of the clouds, the air; the second, that of the stars, the sky; the third is spiritual (Eph. 4:10).
25. Why does Christ say that there are many “mansions” or if you prefer the Greek, “residences, stopping places, degrees” in heaven? (John 14:2)
Trimble would like you to conclude that the “many mansions” Jesus refers to in John 14:2 are equivalent to the three degrees of glory that are taught by the LDS Church. A problem exists with this interpretation of John 14:1-2. Trimble quotes from the KJV of John 14:2, which states: “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.” It is worth noting that the word “mansions” in the KJV is translated from the Greek word μονή meaning abode, dwelling place, or room. I am unsure which Greek lexicon Trimble is using to arrive at his definitions of the word μονή as “residences, stopping places, degrees.” I can see the idea of residences and stopping places in the meaning of the word, but not “degrees.” There is nothing in John 14 to indicate that the abodes, dwelling places, or rooms that Jesus is preparing for his disciples are anything other than the one place called heaven in the Bible. One place called heaven exists and it has many abodes, dwelling places or rooms.
The Restoration of the Church – Questions 26-27
26. What does the scripture in Acts 3:19-21 mean when Peter talks about the need for a future restoration?
I’m not 100% certain where Trimble is going with this question, but I assume he wants the reader to accept the LDS doctrine of the “Great Apostasy” and the need for a restoration of the church that eventually came through Joseph Smith. Before I answer the question, its important to read the text (Acts 3:17-26) in its context:
And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers. 18 But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled. 19 Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; 20 And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: 21 Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began. 22 For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. 23 And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people. 24 Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days. 25 Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed. 26 Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.
It appears that the future restoration Trimble refers to is based on Acts 3:21 where Luke says of Jesus, “Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things…” Why should we conclude from this passage that the restoration came through Joseph Smith? The restoration spoken of has its roots in the Old Testament because Acts 3:21 states: “Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.” Where in the Old Testament is it possible to find any statements concerning the restoration of the church after the “Great Apostasy”? Where do we find any statements about Joseph Smith? We don’t!
What is the restoration?
“The word restore (3:21) is related to the word “restore” in 1:6. In 3:21 it is in its noun form (apokatastaseōs), and in 1:6 it is a verb (apokathistaneis). Both occurrences anticipate the restoration of the kingdom to Israel (cf. Matt. 17:11; Mark 9:12).
There is nothing in the text of Acts 3 to suggest a future restoration during the time of Joseph Smith.
27. What was Christ teaching his apostles during the “40 day ministry”? What did He need an entire 40 days for after he was resurrected when he was with them everyday for the last 3 years? (Acts 1)
According to Acts 1:3, Jesus spoke to his apostles about the kingdom of God. Jesus often talked about the kingdom of God before his death, but he spent more time with his disciples because of the important nature of the subject. Why did he need an entire 40 days to teach them? The text does not say Jesus needed 40 days; it just says that he appeared to them over a period of 40 days and taught concerning the kingdom. Even though Jesus was with his disciples for three years, this does not mean the disciples understood everything Jesus taught them. I assume that the things Jesus taught his disciples regarding the kingdom of God are retold in the rest of the New Testament as it speaks often of the kingdom.
The Temple in Mormonism – Questions 28-34
28. Why don’t Christian denominations build temples?
Christians do not believe in the necessity of temples because the Bible teaches how the church is the temple of the living God (Ephesians 2:11-22; 1 Corinthians 3:16-17). Jesus is the cornerstone, the apostles and prophets are the foundation, and the believers are the living stones that are being built into a holy temple where God’s Spirit dwells among us (Eph. 2:19-22; 1 Peter 2:4-5).
The book of Hebrews in the New Testament has much to offer the LDS person who desires to know and understand subjects such as the priesthood and the temple. The author of Hebrews painstakingly makes the point that Jesus is superior to earlier forms of revelation (Hebrews 1:1-2), angels (Hebrews 1), Moses (Heb. 3), priesthood (Heb. 4:14-5:10), law (Heb. 7) and the temple (Heb. 9-10). Believers no longer need any of these things because we have Jesus. In fact, LDS temple practices are completely foreign to scripture and resemble Masonic, rather than Christian, practices. The Bible says nothing of LDS baptisms for the dead (a point I already addressed in my answer to question 17), temple marriages, or endowments.
29. Revelation 7:15 say that in the last days, disciples wearing white clothes would be working “day and night” in the temple. What church does that?
I assume from this question that Trimble would like us to answer his question by saying that no church wears white and serves God day and night in the temple other than Mormons? He is correct! There is probably no other church that practices what the LDS Church practices, but the problem is that Revelation 7:15 has nothing whatsoever to do with LDS temples and temple workers. How do I know this? Take a look at the entire context of Revelation 7:9-17:
“After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; 10 And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb. 11 And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshiped God, 12 Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen. And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? 14 And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. 16 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. 17 For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.”
Perhaps a couple follow up questions would be helpful at this point. First, where did the “great multitude” in “white robes” come from (Rev. 7:9, 14) and where are they located? Revelation 7:9, 14 explains that the great multitude has come from the great tribulation on earth and they are now located in heaven because they are before the throne. How do we know this heaven is the location of the throne? According to Revelation 7:9, 15, the great multitude is “before the throne and before the Lamb.” Revelation 4:1-11 clearly indicates that the apostle John was taken up to the throne in heaven (4:1-2) where he saw the One who sits on the throne, the four living creatures who are around the throne, and 24 elders who fall down before the one who is on the throne. Revelation 5:1-14 clearly indicates that the Lamb is at the right hand of the one who sits on the throne in heaven, and he stands at the center of the throne encircled by the four living creatures and thousands upon thousands of angels.
Second, are the “white robes” literal or symbolic (Rev. 3:4; 4:4; 6:9-11; 19:8)? The white robes are purely symbolic like many other things in Revelation. Thankfully the symbolism of the white robes is explained for us in passages like Revelation 19:8. Meanwhile, Revelation 7:15 has absolutely nothing to do with the LDS temple and white garments people wear in the temple. Greg asked “what church does that”? The answer is that the church (God’s people) in heaven is dressed in symbolic white robes (Rev. 19:8; 7:15) and these believers serve God day and night.
30. The last chapter of the Old Testament seems kind of important. Does anyone have any idea what it means to “turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers?” (Malachi 4:5-6)
Malachi 4:5-6 says:
Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: 6 And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.
According to Luke 1:13-17 John the Baptist is the fulfillment of what Malachi predicted.
“But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John. 14 And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth. 15 For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb. 16 And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. 17 And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
Jesus also declared that John the Baptist is the fulfillment of Malachi’s prediction that Elijah will come.
“…if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come” Matthew 11:14.
“And his disciples asked him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come? 11 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things. 12 But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them. 13 Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist.” Matthew 17:10-13
John the Baptist is clearly identified as the fulfillment of Malachi 4:4-5, so there is no need to look further for any other fulfillment of this passage. When John was on earth, he preached a message of repentance and the Jewish people came out to him in repentance as they turned to the Lord their God (Luke 3:1-20).
31. The Jews prepare for Elijah’s return every year during passover. On April 3, 1836 Elijah returned to the earth and appeared in the Kirtland temple on the exact day that Jews around the world had prepared an empty chair for Elijah at their Passover meal? Is that a coincidence?
While it is correct that Jews prepare for Elijah’s return every year, this is only because they do not embrace the New Testament and understand that John the Baptist was the fulfillment of Malachi 4:4-5. (See the answer to question 30 above.) In a similar way, the Mormons don’t accept the clear teaching of the NT that Elijah has already come and fulfilled Malachi 4:4-5. For the LDS Church, the fulfillment of Malachi 4:4-5 took place on April 3, 1836 when Elijah appeared in the Kirtland temple.
Joseph Smith-History 1:36-39 states:
After telling me these things, he commenced quoting the prophecies of the Old Testament. He first quoted part of the third chapter of Malachi; and he quoted also the fourth or last chapter of the same prophecy, though with a little variation from the way it reads in our Bibles. Instead of quoting the first verse as it reads in our books, he quoted it thus: 37 For behold, the day cometh that shall burn as an oven, and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly shall burn as stubble; for they that come shall burn them, saith the Lord of Hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. 38 And again, he quoted the fifth verse thus: Behold, I will reveal unto you the Priesthood, by the hand of Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. 39 He also quoted the next verse differently: And he shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, and the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers. If it were not so, the whole earth would be utterly wasted at his coming. (italics, underlining and bold are mine)
Here we have an account from Joseph Smith where he claims the angel Moroni came to him and told him about the coming of Elijah. Why should anyone believe Smith’s claim of having an angel appear to him? After all, what does this so-called angel tell Smith? First, he contradicts the biblical teaching that John the Baptist is the fulfillment of Malachi 4:4-5. Second, this so-called angelic messenger adds to the text of Malachi. Of the appearance of Elijah, D&C 110:13-16 says:
After this vision had closed, another great and glorious vision burst upon us; for Elijah the prophet, who was taken to heaven without tasting death, stood before us, and said: 14 Behold, the time has fully come, which was spoken of by the mouth of Malachi—testifying that he [Elijah] should be sent, before the great and dreadful day of the Lord come—15 To turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the children to the fathers, lest the whole earth be smitten with a curse—16 Therefore, the keys of this dispensation are committed into your hands; and by this ye may know that the great and dreadful day of the Lord is near, even at the doors (italics and underlining are mine).
The NT teaches that Malachi 4:4-5 was fulfilled in John the Baptist, but LDS scriptures (D&C 110) teach that Malachi 4:4-5 was fulfilled on April 3, 1836. Why should anyone believe the later writings of a man who claims to receive divine revelation and reject the clear teachings of Jesus? Based on what the NT teaches, Joseph Smith’s vision as recorded in the unique scripture of Mormonism is false.
Trimble asks if it is a coincidence that Elijah returned to the Kirtland Temple on the exact day that Jews around the world had prepared an empty chair for Elijah at the Passover? The answer is that Elijah never appeared in the Kirtland Temple because he already came – he was known as John the Baptist.
32. Why was there a sudden global interest in genealogical research and why were these genealogical societies formed immediately following Elijah’s appearance in the temple in 1836?
As described in the previous answer, Elijah never appeared in the Kirtland Temple in 1836. As for the “sudden global interest in genealogical research” and the forming of societies immediately following Elijah’s appearance, the oldest society in the United States is known as the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) and it was founded in 1845, nine years after the so-called appearance of Elijah. I would hardly call that an immediate formation of a society.
33. The New Testament apostles had the ability to bind and seal on earth and in heaven. Who today claims the ability to bind and seal things on earth and in heaven?
The passages Trimble refers to are found in Matthew 16:19; 18:18-19; and John 20:23. From Trimble’s perspective, it appears as though the only ones who had the authority to bind and seal were the apostles, but Matthew 18:15-20 seems to address all believers (or at least the leaders of the church) and not just the apostles.
The binding and sealing have nothing to do with temple ceremonies, as the context of the passages seem to relate in some way to the extension of forgiveness of sins and entrance into heaven. It appears as though the apostles were given this authority to bind and seal on earth and in heaven. While the LDS Church claims to have the ability to bind and seal, this claim should be tested and not just accepted merely because this is claimed by Mormon leaders.
34. Will we know our family and friends in the afterlife or do we lose our identities?
Trimble’s question is designed to get a person to accept the LDS concept that families can be sealed together in the temple for eternity. In answer to his question, Christians do not lose their identities in the afterlife because they do not cease to be persons (Mt. 17; 22:32; Lk. 16:19-30). Having said that, this does not lead to the conclusion that we will be married with families in heaven. On this subject Jesus told the Sadducees,
Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven (Matthew 22:28-30).
The Book of Mormon – Questions 35-43
35. Joseph Smith “could neither write nor dictate a coherent and well worded letter” according to his wife and many others. Could he have written the Book of Mormon?
Trimble assumes because Smith could not write or dictate a coherent and well-worded letter that he could not have written the Book of Mormon. What if Smith did not write the Book of Mormon? The authorship of the Book of Mormon has been called into question over the years and a number of theories exist as to its authorship. One of the most popular theories is the idea that the Book of Mormon has many similarities to an unpublished novel written before 1816 by a retired minister named Solomon Spalding.
36. If he did write the Book of Mormon, where or how did he accumulate so much wisdom in under 22 years of life?
If the Book of Mormon was not written by Smith, then the question concerning Smith’s wisdom, or lack of it, is irrelevant. While Trimble wants to point to what he believes is the wisdom contained in the Book of Mormon, I would like to point out that the Book of Mormon has plenty of problems that should cause a person to reject it as scripture. Far too many problems exist to cite them here; so three examples will have to suffice:
- It has had more than 3,000 textual and grammatical changes made to it.
- It plagiarizes the King James Version of the Bible and in doing so, reveals it is not an ancient text.
- It carries forward the translation mistakes of the KJV in places like 1 Nephi 10:7-10 and John 1:26-29 even though it is claimed that the Book of Mormon was written long before the translation of the KJV in 1611. (Check out this information for more details.)
37. Could Joseph Smith have been capable of plagiarizing from other books to write the Book of Mormon?
Yes. Why not? First, if Smith did not write the Book of Mormon from scratch and it is a reworked copy of Solomon Spalding’s novel, then he is not necessarily the one who borrowed from other books. Second, if Smith did add additional information to the Book of Mormon, then he could easily have done this if he had access to such writings.
38. If you say he plagiarized from a book that was popular and well known in his area, then how come no one called him out on it when he released the Book of Mormon?
I don’t think Smith plagiarized from a popular book because Solomon Spalding’s novel was unpublished and not popular. While Spalding was already dead by this time and unable to defend his novel, his friends and relatives were familiar with his novel and gathered affidavits revealing that Spalding was the author of this newly revised book that Smith called the Book of Mormon.
One man who confronted Smith when he released the Book of Mormon is a man named Eber. D. Howe who, in 1834, wrote a book titled Mormonism Unveiled. In the title page to his book he states:
A faithful account of that singular imposition and delusion, from its rise to the present time. With sketches of the characters of its propagators, and a full detail of the manner in which the famous Golden Bible was brought before the world. To which are added, inquiries into the probability that the historical part of the said Bible was written by one Solomon Spalding, more than twenty years ago, and by him intended to have been published as a romance (Howe 1834)
39. Every scribe for Joseph Smith said he used no other manuscript or third party source material. Do you think Joseph Smith could have curated, memorized, and dictated Jacob 5 “The Allegory of the Olive Tree,” let alone the entire Book of Mormon?
How would they know this since Smith supposedly translated the Book of Mormon from behind a curtain? And how do we know if he even “translated” the plates instead of plagiarizing from other sources.
40. Eleven plus people testified that they saw or handled the Book of Mormon plates. Many of these people became mad at Joseph Smith. Is it feasible that none of them would have “spilled the beans” if it was a calculated fraud in order to destroy Joseph Smith?
To my knowledge, no one actually saw the Book of Mormon plates or handled them and many of the witnesses actually left the church and did spill the beans. For more information on this subject, the reader is encouraged to read Joel B. Groat’s article . Also see an article by Bill McKeever here.
41. Who are the “other sheep that are not of this fold” referred to by Christ in (John 10:16)? Hint: It’s not the Gentles.
Hint: It is the Gentiles! The Gospel of John and much of the New Testament make the contrast between the Jews and the Gentiles because the church came about in a context that was Jewish and inclusion of the Gentiles did not come easy (See Mal. 1:11; Is. 49:6; Rom. 15:8ff; Acts 15; Ephesians 2:11-20; 1 Timothy 2:1-7). What possible reasons from the context of John 10 do we have for any other conclusion?
42. Why do so many ancient North, Central, and South American Indian traditions cite the appearance and ministration of a “Great God” that visited their ancestors many years ago and promised to return again?
I fail to see how this has any relevance in proving that the people of the Book of Mormon are from North, Central and South America.
43. Why do the explorers and conquistadors credit their ability to conquer the indians of the America’s to their belief that the conquistadors were that “Great God” returning?
I fail to see how this has any relevance in proving that the people of the Book of Mormon are from North, Central and South America. The real issue that needs to be faced by those who accept the Book of Mormon is the complete lack of archaeological evidence that puts the events of the Book of Mormon in North, Central and South America. Unlike the Bible, the Book of Mormon does not have even one archaeological discovery that proves the existence of a city, king, or people. LDS scholars try to identify the location where the events of the Book of Mormon took place, but they usually resort to comparing the topographical details mentioned in a portion of the Book of Mormon with a modern map. In the end, this proves nothing. (For more information, see here.)
The Credibility of Joseph Smith as a Prophet – Questions 44-48
44. If the polygamous history of Mormonism is a deal breaker, then why do you still believe in the Bible? Remember Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, Solomon, and others that are esteemed from the Bible?
The polygamous history of Mormonism is one of the many deal breakers we find in the history of the LDS Church. Christians do not believe in a God who contradicts himself, and yet this is exactly what we find in the LDS church. God commands polygamy and then He retracts polygamy. Concerning the Bible and polygamy, a few comments are in order.
First, Old Testament kings such as David and Solomon were forbidden to take multiple wives according to Deuteronomy 17:16-17:
But he shall not multiply horses to himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt, to the end that he should multiply horses: forasmuch as the LORD hath said unto you, Ye shall henceforth return no more that way. Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away: neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold.
Second, the Biblical record does not present Isaac as a polygamist (Genesis 24).
Third, God’s plan for marriage is found in Genesis 1-2 where it consists of one man and one woman.
Fourth, from the fall of Adam and Eve in Genesis 3 the biblical record reveals that people engaged in all sorts of sexual sin. In light of this, it is not surprising to find polygamy being practiced, especially since it was in existence in the culture.
Fifth, those who practiced plural marriages in the Bible did not experience joy and harmony because they were outside God’s plan. Consider just a few examples to see how plural marriages led to conflict and heartache (Genesis 16; 21; 29-31; 1 Kings 11).
Sixth, God has never commanded polygamy in the Bible, but Joseph Smith did. It was Joseph Smith who was at odds with the Bible. For more information on Smith and plural marriage, go here.
45. Joseph Smith was free and clear from the mob and on the other side of the Mississippi river when he was summoned to go to Carthage to die. If you were an evil villain imposter…would you go back to Carthage, or would you save your own skin?
A letter written to Joseph Smith from his wife Emma makes it appear she made her appeal because some in the LDS community were viewing her husband as a coward. It is possible that Smith returned simply because of his own pride and that he did not want to be called a coward.
46. They found the Book of Mormon that Joseph and Hyrum had in Carthage jail with the page turned down that they read from before they died. Hyrum, other than Joseph, would have known best if it was a fraud. If you were Hyrum, would you read from a fraudulent book in your last days?
If Smith were trying to keep up the front, why wouldn’t he read from the Book of Mormon? In addition to this, did Smith really know he was going to be his last days?
47. Would there be that many people that would lie about Joseph Smith’s prophetic qualities and the many miracles that surrounded the restoration? If so…why?
While some people lie, there are others who are deceived. People lie for a variety of reasons and others hear a lie and are deceived. This same question could be asked of a variety of religious groups who teach false doctrines and claim to perform miracles.
48. Is God capable of sending a prophet to the earth today? If yes, how do you think that prophet would be received?
Yes, God is capable of sending a prophet to the earth today because God is capable of doing whatever it is that he desires to do. He is God! Does this mean that the LDS Church has true prophets? Those who claim to be prophets sent by God need to be tested with the biblical tests for prophets as outlined in Deuteronomy chapters 13 and 18 as well as 1 John 4:1-6. What are the tests?
Deuteronomy 13:1-5 states:
If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, 2And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; 3 Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. 4 Ye shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him. 5 And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he hath spoken to turn you away from the LORD your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, to thrust thee out of the way which the LORD thy God commanded thee to walk in.
According to this text, if the so-called prophet leads a person to worship other gods, then he/she is a false prophet even though a sign (miracle) has been provided.
Deuteronomy 18:20-22 states:
But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die. 21 And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the LORD hath not spoken? 22 When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.
According to this text, if a prophet predicts something will come to pass and it does not come to pass, then he is a false prophet.
Based on these texts from Deuteronomy, the LDS Church fails to meet the Biblical tests for a true prophet because the Mormon leadership teaches a host of false doctrines that are in opposition to the truth that God has already revealed about himself in the Bible.
Christian Beliefs – Questions 49-51
49. What Christian denomination most closely resembles the New Testament church of the Bible?
One thing is clear from the answers provided in the previous 48 questions: the LDS Church does not at all resemble the New Testament church! Most LDS beliefs do not derive from the Bible. Rather, Mormon beliefs are mainly derived from additional “scriptures.” As a Christian I am not overly concerning with determining which Christian denomination most closely resembles the New Testament church. What really matters is what a particular church teaches about key subjects like the nature of God, Jesus, and salvation. I find that all denominations that teach accurately about these subjects are my brothers and sisters in the Lord. One day we will be gathered around the throne together in worship (Revelation 4-5).
50. According to Christian beliefs, Mormons would be saved based on their confession of Christ. So…what is wrong with being Mormon?
For a Mormon to be saved, he/she must confess the correct Christ. A person who holds to a wrong understanding of Jesus will not be saved because this version is false (2 Cor. 11:1-4). The Jesus of Mormonism is not the same as the Jesus described in the Bible.
A full explanation of the differences is outside the scope of this response, but here are some of the major errors Mormonism makes with reference to Jesus:
- Jesus is the literal firstborn son in the preexistence to heavenly Father and Mother.
- Jesus is Jehovah but not Elohim (Father).
- Jesus is the only begotten according to the flesh, which means he is the literal son of Heavenly Father and Mary.
- Jesus atoned for sins in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross.
- Jesus’ atoning work is not enough for salvation; works are required for entrance into glory (celestial glory).
Mormons hoping to attain an authentic salvation must reject a host of other false doctrines as found in God’s Word.
Many of these questions have been asked by truth seekers over hundreds of years. It’s amazing to me that we live in a day that these questions can be answered. I personally go back to this “superstructure” whenever my faith is challenged intellectually. I can’t logically discredit the restoration of the gospel while the answers to these timeless questions have been given to me and are in plain view.
Once again I am shocked that Trimble believes his superstructure is so solid that he returns to it whenever his faith is challenged intellectually. He believes he cannot “logically discredit” the restoration of the gospel because the answer to his questions are in plain view. I trust that I have clearly shown that his superstructure is nothing more than a house built out of a deck of cards.
Trimble’s Final Question: Number 51
According to Trimble,
The Bible tells us that we should “ask God” and that the Holy Ghost will show us whether something is true or not. So after realizing that there is no other institution (that I know of) that answers these questions…I can do only one other thing to solidify my faith. I’ve got to ask the ultimate question.
Even Trimble’s closing remarks are in error. The Bible does not tell us that we should “ask God” and that the Holy Ghost will show us whether something is true or not. Trimble is likely referring to James 1:5, a passage that is often quoted by Mormons to support praying about the the Book of Mormon. James 1:5 does not teach that we should pray to see if the Book of Mormon is true; it exhorts the believe who needs wisdom when going through trials to ask God for wisdom. Wisdom is not knowledge. rather, it is the application of knowledge. James gives instruction on how to handle trials in our lives by telling his readers to pray for wisdom when facing difficult times. (For more information, go here.)
Hence, Trimble’s final question:
51. “God…has Your church been restored?”
The church has not been restored because there was never a complete apostasy. Through its history, the Christian church has experienced many times of renewal and reformation, but it has never needed to be restored because Jesus said, “I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it” (Matthew 16:18).
All of the previous 50 questions pale in importance to question 51. The Church of Jesus Christ in these latter days arose out of just one simple prayer to God from a small town farm boy in Palmyra New York. So…I followed the Bible. I studied, I asked, I learned for myself that it’s true. I can only speak for myself.
A sermon could be given on each of these questions, but simply asking these questions is cause enough to at least give Mormonism a long stare down.
Greg Trimble hopes his superstructure outlined in his 51 questions might lead the reader to Mormonism. As a reader, I hope the response I have provided will expose Trimble’s superstructure as completely unbiblical and that it would lead a thinking person away from Mormonism and into true Christianity.
 See Greg Trimble’s blog post at gregtrimble.com.
 I can be contacted via email at: smccory at gmail dot com
 Cabal, T., Brand, C. O., Clendenen, E. R., Copan, P., Moreland, J. P., & Powell, D. (2007). The Apologetics Study Bible: Real Questions, Straight Answers, Stronger Faith (p. 1663). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.
 Toussaint, S. D. (1985). Acts. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 376). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
 Colossians 4:16 speaks of a letter from Paul to Laodicea.
 Mathews, K. A. (1996). Genesis 1-11:26 (Vol. 1A, p. 127). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.
 Lowery, K. (2007). The Chronology of the Kings of Israel and Judah. In T. Cabal, C. O. Brand, E. R. Clendenen, P. Copan, & J. P. Moreland (Eds.), The Apologetics Study Bible: Real Questions, Straight Answers, Stronger Faith (p. 3). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.
 Cabal, T., Brand, C. O., Clendenen, E. R., Copan, P., Moreland, J. P., & Powell, D. (2007). The Apologetics Study Bible: Real Questions, Straight Answers, Stronger Faith (p. 1720). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.
 Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 1, p. 595). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
 Witmer, J. A. (1985). Romans. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 471). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
 Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 2, p. 319). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
 Toussaint, S. D. (1985). Acts. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 361). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
 Martin, Walter. The Maze of Mormonism. Ventura, CA: Regal Books. 1962. 59.