by Sharon Lindbloom
13 October 2021
I’m rather fond of coffee. And coffee shops. In fact, the idea for Mormonism Research Ministry’s former blog, Mormon Coffee (“It’s forbidden, but it’s good!”), was born in a coffee shop over a decaf latte. So I was pretty interested in an article that came out recently about a new coffee shop in Provo, Utah; it doesn’t serve coffee.
Latter Day Cafe, sporting a logo that has the iconic LDS angel Moroni drinking from a coffee mug, serves “coffee” drinks made from an herbal coffee alternative known as Capomo. After drying and roasting Maya nuts, the “coffee” is brewed and served up as Cappuccinos, Lattes, Americanos, and Frappuccinos that taste just like those made with real coffee – or at least close enough to provide, as the Cafe’s website says, “guilt-free satisfaction to the coffee cravings of…the millions of Restored Church Members whose spiritual and health standards prevent them from freely enjoying coffee.”
It’s pretty well known that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints requires members to abstain from coffee and tea (among other things) in obedience to a revelation found in one of its scriptural books. Doctrine & Covenants Section 89, known as the Word of Wisdom, is understood by Latter-day Saints to be “a law of health revealed by the Lord for our physical and spiritual benefit.” A commitment to obey this law is required for all who seek membership in the LDS church. Obedience to this law is also required for students who are enrolled at Brigham Young University, located in Provo, Utah. Thus, the birth of Latter Day Cafe, a coffee-less coffee shop.
I would love to try the Cafe’s Capomo drinks. I have every expectation that they would be delicious. But of course I wouldn’t be drinking real coffee, and I’d be put-out if the Cafe pretended that I was. Thankfully, Latter Day Cafe is up front about its drinks. While the menu describes them as being made with “coffee,” the Cafe is careful to put “coffee” in quotes — sort of like a wink to alert customers to the fact that there actually is no real coffee in their “coffee” drinks. And indeed, the fact that coffee is not served is the Cafe’s niche. As one of the founders explained, “We exist to serve a need that we found in this in this marketplace.”
It’s an interesting concept, a coffee shop without coffee, and I when I read about it I couldn’t help but see an analogy between the Latter Day Cafe and the LDS church.
The Cafe is not really a coffee shop, and the drinks it serves are not really coffee. There may be similarities in that the drinks look and taste (at least to some degree) like coffee, but what it offers is imitation coffee — an alternative to the real thing.
Likewise, the LDS church is not really a Christian church, and the theology it promotes is not really biblical. There are similarities to biblical Christianity in that Mormonism uses words and concepts that look and sound (at least to some degree) like Christianity, but what it offers is imitation Christianity – an alternative to the real thing.
For example, when compared to biblical revelation (to which Christianity is bound) the LDS church embraces an alternative Heavenly Father, an alternative Jesus Christ, and an alternative Holy Ghost. The overall result is a “Christian” church that replaces the Christian God with a God-substitute. But unlike Latter Day Cafe, the LDS church doesn’t put its substitutes in quotes; people investigating Mormonism don’t know what they’re getting.
The LDS church’s “menu” lists priesthood, prophets, salvation, eternal life, and grace, but none of these words and their concepts, as defined by the LDS church, line up with the doctrines of biblical Christianity — even though they sound like they should.
Now, according to past LDS apostle Bruce R. McConkie, the term Christianity is a synonym for Mormonism:
“Mormonism is Christianity; Christianity is Mormonism; they are one and the same, and they are not to be distinguished from each other in the minutest detail.” (Mormon Doctrine, 1966, 513)
But he also said,
“Every informed, inspired, and discerning person is revolted by the absurdities and scripture-defying pronouncements in the creeds of Christendom, whose chief function is to define and set forth the nature and kind of Being that God is.” (Bruce R. McConkie, The Mortal Messiah: From Bethlehem to Calvary 1:30. Footnote 2)
Clearly, Mormonism and Christianity (that is, historic Christianity based on God’s self-revelation as found in the Bible) are not the same thing. Christianity’s God is not present in the LDS church, so when Mormonism claims to be Christianity, what it’s offering is an imitation.
If we continue the Latter Day Cafe analogy, what the LDS church is doing would be like Latter Day Cafe insisting that herbal Capomo really is coffee, and all other coffee shops are serving nothing but a coffee-substitute. Yet the opposite is the actual truth.
For those who want Capomo instead of coffee, Latter Day Cafe looks to be a great option. For those who want Mormonism instead of Christianity, they can find it in the LDS church. But don’t be fooled: Mormonism is not Christianity and the God it serves is an alternative to the one true God, the only God who can deliver us from sin and eternal death.
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