by Sharon Lindbloom
21 November 2019
The president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Russell M. Nelson, is currently on a four-nation tour of Southeast Asia. Reporting on President Nelson’s visit to Cambodia, the church’s newsroom website recounted,
“The 95-year-old prophet also noted the coming bicentennial of Joseph Smith’s vision of the Father and the Son, known by Latter-day Saints as the First Vision and the beginning of the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. That restoration, President Nelson said, has four fundamental cornerstones: (1) the knowledge of a Godhead consisting of the Father, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy ghost; (2) prophets on earth who speak for God; (3) scripture as a ‘tangible anchor to eternal truth’ and ‘a strong witness of the divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ’; and (4) restored priesthood authority.”
What President Nelson called the “four fundamental cornerstones” of Mormonism, I recognize as four fundamental deviations from biblical Christianity.
Take #1, “the knowledge of a Godhead consisting of the Father, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy ghost.” This fundamental cornerstone of President Nelson’s points to (according to Mormonism):
- A heavenly Father that was once a mortal human being who is now an “exalted Man,” having achieved the status of a tangible, flesh and blood God by his obedience to Mormonism’s laws and ordinances;
- A heavenly Son known as Jesus Christ that is a created being who, though a God, only achieved the fulness of his Deity after his resurrection; and
- A Holy ghost that is another son of God the Father, a “personage of spirit” who is limited in time and space yet recognized as a third God in Mormonism’s Godhead.
These attributes (and others) of the LDS church’s Godhead are not found in the Bible and, therefore, Mormonism’s first fundamental cornerstone deviates radically from biblical Christianity.
President Nelson’s cornerstone #2 is, “prophets on earth who speak for God.” These latter-day prophets are different from biblical prophets in several ways, but most notably they fail the biblical tests for those who claim to speak for God. Two of these tests are found in the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy. Chapter 18 says that if one claiming to speak for God says things that do not come to pass or come true, “that is a word that the Lord has not spoken” (Deuteronomy 18:22). Another is found in chapter 13, where God says that a prophet that leads the people after a different God must be rejected because “he has taught rebellion against the Lord your God” (Deuteronomy 13:1-5). LDS prophets fail both of these tests (and others), proving that they do not speak for God. Thus, another fundamental cornerstone of Mormonism departs from biblical teaching.
The third fundamental cornerstone listed by President Nelson is, “scripture as a ‘tangible anchor to eternal truth.’” Biblical Christianity recognizes the Bible alone as the written word of God — unchangeable truth, given to us in order that we may know God and His will. As the word of God, it is studied, researched, tested, and handled with great care and respect. Christians believe that God said what He meant and meant what He said.
The additional books regarded as scripture in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, however (the Book of Mormon, Doctrine & Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price), have been changed from their originals. Doctrinal and historical statements in the Book of Mormon have been altered. Revelations that are printed in Doctrine and Covenants have been added to, subtracted from, and combined with others allegedly received on different dates. The Pearl of Great Price contains a text, the Book of Abraham, said to have been translated from ancient papyri by Joseph Smith, Mormonism’s first prophet. But subsequent scholarship has shown the translated text, and the story of its translation, to be fraudulent. Far from being an “anchor to eternal truth,” the unique LDS scriptures contain altered texts that change what is claimed to be the very word of God. This demonstrates that Mormonism’s truths are not eternal, and its third fundamental cornerstone is a clear deviation from biblical Christianity.
The fourth fundamental cornerstone of Mormonism from President Nelson’s list is, “restored priesthood authority.” According to the LDS website, priesthood authority is “the eternal power and authority” of God, given to men that they may “administer ordinances of salvation.” Without this priesthood authority, salvation (or Mormonism’s exaltation) is impossible. Outside of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints no one can be saved.
Biblical Christianity disagrees — the New Testament does not support the type of priesthood promoted by the LDS Church. The Bible says that all those who follow the true God are granted spiritual authority, becoming part of a “royal priesthood,” with authority to act in God’s name and preach salvation to the lost (see 1 Peter 2:4-5, 9; John 1:12; 1 John 3:2; Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 4:5-12). Jesus Himself is God’s one and only high priest, living forever to bring salvation to those who draw near to God through Him (Hebrews 7:23-28). President Nelson’s final fundamental cornerstone of Mormonism is yet another major deviation from historic, biblical Christianity.
In addressing the question of why the Mormon church seems to be downplaying one of its controversial books of scripture (i.e., The Pearl of Great Price) LDS author Terryl Givens recently remarked,
“In recent years, the church has wanted to be seen as a more conventional denomination. Leaders have emphasized commonalities with other Christian churches rather than differences, and as a consequence, the Bible has taken on a greater role.”
Nevertheless, the fundamental cornerstones of Mormonism deviate extensively from biblical teaching and biblical Christianity, where but one perfect and vital cornerstone is proclaimed: Christ Jesus.
“For it stands in Scripture: ‘Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.’” -1 Peter 2:6
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