Tuesday, May 09, 2006

What's Really Wrong With Mormonism?


Another encounter with Mormon's arrived at my doorstep today. Unlike in times past, where I really wanted to zing and blast the Mormons I got a chance to talk with, this time I really just felt bad for these young men. I let them give their spiel and humor me as the said things like "apostasy we know that's a big word". Basically, Mormon theology is kind of a mutant version of Catholicism, where a God ordained priesthood is necessary for salvation which has recently been restored by Joseph Smith.

The real issues:

In the past after reading apologetic write ups on Mormonism I had always wanted to bring up the ridiculousness of a lot of what they believe. Such as the fact that God was begotten of another God and His sexual relations with His Goddess wives and God (our God) resides on the planet Kolob (Yet somehow they can believe this stuff and maintain biblical passages such as "without Him nothing was made that was made"). There are many other bizarre teachings of Mormonism, my point is that these really aren't the issues we need to be addressing these are peripheral matters. (On a side note: This is in part why I am some what disappointed with the quality of apologetics out there, we have hundreds of books on Mormonism all saying the same things and giving people ammo to fire at unorthodox groups while failing to equip people with the ability to understand what issues really matter.) The real issues with Mormonism, Catholicism, Oneness Pentecostals and other groups like them is their diversion from justification by faith alone.

The groups I named above depart from justification by faith alone on nearly identical grounds, they all claim that the sacraments are necessary for salvation and not only that but the sacraments need to be administered by a true priest, one of their groups priests. Apart from the Catholics the case is nearly always made on grounds that the church went apostate after the apostles and has only recently been restored by Mr.X, thus one can now be truly saved because the true priesthood has been reestablished. This pattern has been repeated time and time again by unorthodox groups.

Problems?

We are under a new covenant, a better covenant, Christ is our eternal priest.

"but this one was made a priest with an oath by the one who said to him: "The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind, 'You are a priest forever.' This makes Jesus the guarantor of a better covenant. The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, but He holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever." (Heb 7:22-24)

The book of Hebrews seems problematic for a priesthood view of the channeling of grace, for Christ is the high priest. Another thing to note is that Hebrews repeatedly describes that Christ "Sat down" after His sacrifice at the right hand of the Father. This conveys that because of the sufficiency of Christ's sacrifice redemption was completed by Him once and for all. This undermines all priesthood mediums of grace (such as the Catholic view of mass where they "offer a sacrifice" to God through transubstantiation on behalf of the people). What really has gone awry is a failure to grasp the sufficiency of the new covenant. Christ under the new covenant is the High priest to Him we go to confess our sins, to Him we go in times of need, to Him we look for our salvation. Christ alone.

And to go with the priesthood as a necessary medium of grace is the obvious departure from justification by faith in Christ alone.

"And to the one who does not work but trusts him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, " (Rom 4:5)

I go to this verse because all the groups I have described will say they believe in justification by faith, the problem is that there is an "and" that is subtly tacked on. The "and" is usually baptism and various other forms of law such as hair length and dress codes. (side note: Mormons to be full members are required to do 6 months missionary work, their door to door work isn't necessarily out of zeal but adhering to law given to them.) Romans 4:5 wipes away all mingling of works and faith for justification, it clearly teaches justification by faith alone. Now of course the faith that justifies will be followed by works (fruit of the Spirit) but we need to be justified before we will do works glorifying to God. I say this because works done by the unjustified are done to placate God and earn righteousness in His sight are servile, where works done by the already justified are done out of joy and gratitude in all that God is to them.

These are the real issues we need to deal with when talking with unorthodox groups, not the absurdities of their theologies (that's easy and kind of a low blow). Ranting about how stupid it is to pray to saints (although it is a valid issue) is not the center, Catholicism's view of the priesthood and justification is at the center. These are at the center because in these issues is the essence of the gospel.

6 comments:

gzuszoe said...

well I hope you havent shyed back from preaching the plain truth to mormons as you so elequently did in this post but not to their faces. It is a fine thing to be forth coming but I think you call it slander when you say it only outside their presence. sure you should obey the rules of retoric "ethos, logos, and pathos" which hopefully you have learned and applyed to your good persuasion but deffinately do not fail on the logos or logical truths of your argument when face to face. paul said that how can we hear the gospel unless some one is sent to preach? so hopefully there will be no nonesense of the sort which says that wizy apoligetics are somthing to be above. speak the truth and speak it in agape. but dont just speak philao. youll be a mormon soon enough taking always the path of least resistence calvinist or not.

Bob said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Bob said...

Gzuszoe-
I'm not sure I completely see your point, you said "It is a fine thing to be forth coming but I think you call it slander when you say it only outside their presence."

I don't think that is an accurate application of what it means to slander. Are we not to analyze Roman Catholocism's view on grace simply because there are no Catholics present to engage in face to face debate? Slander is to maliciously malign the name of another behind their back. Is it slander to say "I disagree with so and so's view on X for reasons A and B?" I don't think so. Maybe you can clarify.

But yeah I do totally agree we do need to be straight up with people on the issues face to face. The point of my post is that there are some issues that are really not necessary to bring up (polygamy) and some that are necessary because they are the very heart of the gospel. (Justification by faith alone.)

God bless,
Bob

Jason said...
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Cheetarah1980 said...

really well thought out argument. but the fact is, with many Mormons, Catholics, etc. they can easily point to another scripture showing why their theology is right.
I think it's easier to refute Mormon theology than it is to refute Catholicism. From what I've read and what has been explained to me, I can understand why they believe in transubstantiation, confession, and praying to saints. A lot of it is intercessory. Just like we on earth can pray for others, they believe they aren't praying to saints or Mary for their salvation or to meet their needs, but praying to them so that they may pray for them.
I don't know how I got on that topic, the thing is that some practices/theology that seem nonsensical aren't always. Doesn't make them right...just makes it understandable.

Bob said...

Cheetarah-
Thanks for stoppin by and giving some of your thoughts. You're absolutely right I think about the scripture counter scripture debates between orthodox and un-orthodox. I think that issues such as transubstantiation and praying to saints are big issues needing to be addressed and corrected. And of course the un-orthodox will always "twist scripture" as Peter said (2 Peter). These interpretations are usually based upon another more fundamental issue and my point was that we need to begin there.

Transubstantiation for example is not only an erronious view of the Lord's supper but its foundation is on a more fundamental error, namely that in the new covenant their is a higherarchy of a priesthood. That is why the mass is viewed as a "sacrifice" and all of the sacraments are needed to be performed by a "priest" in order to be valid. Thus on top of this is an error about justification, a priesthood is needed for people to be saved (sacraments needed for salvation) As I stated this is one point where we should begin and work out because the errors are not islands but interlocked, and like you said they really do make sense if you accept the presupositions.

As for the praying to saints, we can simply ask "Show me scripturally where the apostles prayed to departed saints to aid in prayer's effectuality."

Ultimatly only the Lord can change the hearts and minds of those in error...he had to do it to save us.