Criticism of Mormonism/Books/Do Christians Believe in Three Gods

Table of Contents

Response to "Do Christians Believe in Three Gods?

A FairMormon Analysis of: Do Christians Believe in Three Gods?, a work by author: RBC Ministries

Response to claims made in Do Christians Believe in Three Gods by RBC Ministries

Summary: This article is in response to a pamphlet that attempts to explain LDS beliefs to non-LDS readers. Unfortunately, the pamphlet sometimes misrepresents LDS beliefs and uses standard anti-Mormon arguments to make its point.

What does "One God" mean?

Bible and Nicea

Origins of Nicene Trinitarianism

Relationship between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit

Jesus is God

Do Christians Believe in Three Gods?

About this work

Statement of Purpose

It is not uncommon for a few members of various religious denominations to attack or misrepresent others' beliefs. Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have, at times, been the targets of this tactic. As members of the Church, we are encouraged to share our beliefs with others. However, we are convinced we should do so in a positive way: we should share what we believe, rather than attacking or vilifying what others believe.

The following pamphlet has recently come to the attention of FAIR: Herb Vander Lugt (senior research editor), "Do Christians Believe in Three Gods?" (RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1992/2000). (All page numbers refer to this pamphlet, except where otherwise noted).

The pamphlet asks the question, "Do Christians Believe in Three Gods?" It then asserts that "Muslims, Jews, Jehovah's Witnesses, and Mormons say yes" (p. 1).

Though composed mostly of active members of the Church of Jesus Christ, FAIR does not speak for the Church. We are a group of private individuals whose goal is to defend the Church and its history, leaders, and doctrine from inaccurate or sensationalized attacks. Though we do not speak for the Church, we believe our varied membership provides a good cross-section of LDS views.

FAIR certainly cannot speak for Muslims, Jews, or Jehovah's Witnesses, though we find much to admire and emulate in those faiths. Since, as will be shown, the RBC pamphlet does not accurately reflect our views on the Trinity, we suspect that the pamphlet may also unfairly characterize the beliefs of others. It has been our experience that any religion's views are best explained by a believer, rather than a critic.

FAIR does not wish to attack any other faith's beliefs, creeds, or doctrines. We believe in preaching our own beliefs, not using others' views as targets. However, when claims about the Church are made, we believe we have a duty to clarify the record. We must address false information so that members and sincere inquirers will understand what we believe, not simply what RBC Ministries claims we believe.

What is RBC Ministries?

"RBC Ministries" (formerly Radio Bible Class) is not, to our knowledge, a major purveyor of much literature critical of the Church. Happily, this ministry seems mostly dedicated to spreading the Good News of the Word of God as they understand it. There are, however, some aspects of their presentation and website which indicate that their expertise in LDS matters and theology is limited. For example, they describe Seventh Day Adventists, Jehovah's Witnesses, and the Church of Jesus Christ as "cultic": an inflammatory term typically used to condemn, rather than understand. [1] Their website also contrasts the "Mormon faith" with the "Christian faith," suggesting the common anti-Mormon claim that "Mormons aren't Christians." [2] Ironically, the website repeatedly uses a meeting with an LDS missionary in Turkey as a springboard to discussing faith/works—yet, the website does not seem to realize that the LDS view of works is similar to its own:

It is those works that come as a response of faith to God’s promise in a particular circumstance....It is a response in a particular circumstance where your faith has to show itself in action or you have made yourself an enemy of God....Good works in James were not just general good behavior. They are the result of faith. [3]

Members of the Church of Jesus Christ understand faith and works in the same way. We have much more common ground than RBC Ministries suspects.
To learn more:

Do members of the Church of Jesus Christ believe that Jesus is Lord and Savior?

RBC Ministries writes about a Christian woman who enjoyed praying with her LDS friend. Said the woman, "We have such wonderful fellowship with each other and God."

The response given by the minister is disappointing:

Many Mormons are fine people and share a lot of our values. But, since Mormonism denies that Jesus is God and Savior, we can never get beyond friendship to true fellowship. [4]

This claim is completely false. Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints emphatically declare that Jesus is both God and Savior, the only source of salvation. (See here in this reply for further information on Jesus as God.)

When we see this ministry claiming that members of the Church deny Christ's status as both God and Savior, it becomes clear why members of the Church are included with Jews and Muslims in the pamphlet, since those religions also deny the divinity and saving power of Jesus.
To learn more:

Summary

The RBC pamphlet lumps Latter-day Saints with two groups who deny the divinity and saving power of Jesus Christ: Muslims and Jews. Furthermore, the pamphlet argues that because the LDS view of God does not match theirs, the Latter-day Saints are not Christians.

As members of the Church, we have promised to take upon us the name of Christ, and be His witnesses "at all times and in all things, and in all places" (Mosiah 18:9). Likewise, Peter commands us to "be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear" (1 Peter 3:15).

We must, therefore, address the claims which seek to exclude us from Christianity, and belief in the God of the Bible. It does not matter to us what RBC Ministries believes—it does matter, however, if others assume that their arguments about the Church are accurate, or cannot be answered. It matters very much that we keep our promises as Christian witnesses of our Lord and Savior.

Endnotes

  1. RBC Ministries, "Answers to Tough Questions: How often in the history of the church have people mistakenly believed they were acting in fulfillment, or observing the fulfillment, of prophecy?" <http://www.rbc.org/questionsDetail.aspx?id=52032> (accessed 31 August 2008).
  2. RBC Ministries, "Everyday Issues of Life and Faith," (original broadcast on 31 August 2007), <http://www.rbc.org/radio-tv/discover-the-word/2007/08/31/program.aspx> (accessed 31 August 2008).
  3. RBC Ministries, "Everyday Issues of Life and Faith," (multiple broadcast dates have virtually the same text: 28 August 2007, 29 August 2007, 30 August 2007, 31 August 2007, 3 September 2007, 4 September 2007, 5 September 2007), <http://www.rbc.org> (accessed 31 August 2008).
  4. RBC Ministries, "True Fellowship," (17 December 2007) <http://www.rbc.org/bible-study/strength-for-the-journey/2007/12/17/daily-message.aspx> (accessed 31 August 2008).

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