In reply to the chapter, “A Time to Choose”
Page 244, lines 2-4
“We have attempted to present carefully and factually the truth about what the Mormon Church really believes and practices.”
See all my previous pages of commentaries for evidence that this is not so.
Page 244, lines 18-19
The authors quote “Cindy” as saying, “The Mormon leaders encouraged me to divorce him.”
The LDS policy is for bishops not to recommend a divorce, and certainly it would not have been recommended in the circumstances indicated. Again the book gives no documentation.
Page 245, line 2
“I chose Jesus over Joseph.”
Joseph Smith has brought millions of people to the Lord Jesus Christ, people who might otherwise not have known him. Latter-day Saints can have both the Lord Jesus Christ and the Prophet Joseph Smith.
Page 245, lines 13-14
“Mormonism. . . is not even based upon the Book of Mormon, and is certainly not based on the Bible.”
See earlier remarks about page 31, line 2.
Page 245, lines 15-18
“Brigham Young made the astonishing admission that he had ‘not read the Bible for years.’ “
This quotation came from an 1854 anti-Mormon publication and is out of context from the actual speech, in which Brigham Young lamented the fact that because of his hectic schedule he could not find enough time to read the Bible as he once did. He said he was now in the process of studying the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants, or in other words Brigham Young rotated reading the various LDS scriptures. (Elden J. Watson, Brigham Young Addresses, Vol. 2, Oct. 8, 1854).
Brigham Young, in a talk urging the Saints to read the scriptures, said, “I was a Bible reader before I came into this Church; and so far as the letter of the book was concerned, I understood it. I professed to be a believer in the Bible so far as I knew how; but as for understanding by the Spirit of the Lord, I never did until I became a Latter-day Saint” JD 5:73).
Page 245, lines 18-22
“[Brigham Young] further admitted that in his day the Twelve Apostles of the Mormon Church included men who believed in reincarnation, rejected the existence of God, and denied that there was any value in the death of Christ for salvation.”
In the same talk President Young reprimanded two apostles and said they were wrong (JD 12:66). Later one apostle was also excommunicated from the LDS Church for such teachings and other charges.
Page 245, lines 28-30
“[Mormons] are afraid even to consider momentarily the possibility that there might be any error at all in their church or its Prophets or doctrines.”
On the contrary, many Latter-day Saints pass through one or more phases of wavering in the faith during their lifetime, asking themselves if the LDS Church is what it claims to be. An amazingly high number, whether their doubting continues for a few moments, months or years, conclude: “It is right. I know it is true.”
The God Makers and other such books designed to destroy faith might well result in strengthening members of the Church and bringing others back into the fold, because they may jolt some to study the LDS Church more seriously. The truth can withstand examination.
Many strong Latter-day Saints had an interest initially aroused by a book such as The God Makers. “When I read the illogical reasoning of the authors, it made me want to study Mormonism for myself,” said prominent educator Karl G. Maeser after reading an anti-Mormon pamphlet in Dresden, Germany, in 1854. He became the second president of Brigham Young University. (See Gilbert W. Scharffs, Mormonism in Germany, Chapter 2, for this remarkable conversion story of a brilliant scholar who was one of the first LDS converts in Germany.)
I once asked one of my outstanding students, who was a recent convert, what brought her to her decision to join the LDS Church. “I read some anti-Mormon literature,” was her response, and she continued, “When I read about those ‘blood-atoning sexual degenerates,’ I just had to read more. The more I read the more I realized the truth to be completely different and the LDS Church to be true.”
Page 245, last line
“Brigham Young said that all Christians were ‘groveling in darkness, ‘ and that the Christian God is ‘the Mormon’s’ Devil . . . “
In the actual talk President Young related how a certain member of the Church had once told a minister that “the God they worshipped was the Mormon’s devil—[both beings having no body].” Brigham Young was calling attention to the fact that some Christians teach that neither God nor the devil have physical bodies (JD 5:331).
Brigham Young did not say he endorsed the idea that Christians worship the devil, only that there was a similarity between the traditional concepts of God and Satan in the one aspect of body substance. It certainly isn’t LDS doctrine or thinking that other Christians worship the devil.
Page 246, lines 1-3
“John Taylor, third Mormon President, said that Christianity was ‘hatched in hell/ and “a perfect pack of nonsense. . . . the Devil could not invent a better engine to spread his work . . . ‘ “
John Taylor here is made to sound like he considered Christianity to be of the Devil, but instead he was saying Satan had an influence on some of the religions of the day. The ellipses following “the devil could not invent a better engine to spread his work,” represent “than the Christianity of the nineteenth century.” Also, the first part of the quote (JD 6:167) actually says, not “hatched in hell,” but “as corrupt as hell,” which is a different idea entirely. Reading the paragraph one also finds the antecedent of “as corrupt as hell” is not Christianity at all butcivilization. Other prominent thinkers had similar ideas about this phase of Christianity as pointed out earlier with page 216, lines11-19.
Page 246, lines 4-8
“Continuously around the world, hundreds of times each day in secret ceremonies before thousands of Mormon Temple patrons, all Christian ministers are ridiculed and slandered as absolute fools who are hired by Satan to deceive their congregations’
This description is badly flawed. One minister is portrayed, but not with any indication that he represents all ministers. He is portrayed as a sincere seeker of truth who is misled in his beliefs. When further truths are presented to him, he embraces them.
Page 246, lines 11-13
“The differences between [Christianity and Mormonism] are very real and need to be understood rather than denied. We have attempted to contribute to that understanding.”
The authors most certainly have. I have always had respect for different versions of Christianity, but the kind of religion the authors espouse (which I have learned from their book) is not supported by biblical teachings and has given me an even greater appreciation of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Actually the book’s statement is meaningless since there are hundreds of Christian churches and many who are far from being the type of Christianity the book espouses. Many churches are to be commended for not participating in accusatory attacks, whether they are against Catholics, Jews, non-Christians, or in this case by The God Makers, against Latter-day Saints. The National Conference of Christians and Jews (NCCJ) has endorsed the actions of its Arizona Region, which after much investigation stated that they found the movie version of The God Makersdoes not, in their opinion, “fairly portray the Mormon Church, Mormon history, or Mormon belief. It makes extensive use of ‘half-truth,’ faulty generalizations, erroneous interpretations and sensationalism.” (NCCJ “Programs in Pluralism.” March-April, 1984, No. 2. See Appendix B.)
Page 246, lines 16-17
“[Mormons saying to Christians] ‘our God is the same as your God,’ is extremely dishonest’
The LDS God and the God others worship can be the same, but the interpretations regarding God vary. The fact that churches interpret God differently gives no one license to attack another’s faith.
Page 246, lines 22-24
“We have tried to provide a factual basis for choosing between these two diametrically opposed beliefs [Christianity and Mormonism].
Even more contrast is given when one discovers the authors’ repeated violations of the most basic rules of authorship. They departed from recognized editing practices, made serious charges without documentation, and misinterpreted quoted material or omitted significant parts of it. The authors’ claim that they have “tried to provide a factual basis” for their concepts prompts the response that they didn’t try hard enough.
Page 246, lines 30-31
“It is impossible to be both a Mormon and a Christian”
Mormons are Christians. Christians are those who accept Christ as their Savior. The LDS do indeed. Mark recorded:
And John answered him, saying. Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us. But Jesus said. Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me. For he that is not against us is on our part (Mark 9:38-40).
Christ is perhaps saying that men of good will should get along although their beliefs differ; that his followers should not contend with others.
Page 246, last line to page 247, line 3
“All those who meet the real Jesus of the Bible immediately learn that Christianity is based upon a relationship with Him and not with any organization. “
Is the book saying church-going is not important?
LDS doctrine teaches that Christ should be followed, emulated, studied, appreciated, prayed about, loved, respected, and attested to as the literal Son of the living God. We also are more likely to do this if we regularly go to church. (See Gilbert W. Scharffs, 101 Reasons Why I Like to Go to Church.)
Christ had followers, leaders, and rules. If that isn’t an organization, then what is? Christ taught that unresolved disputes should be resolved by the church (Matt. 18:17). And if the book of Acts does not clearly prove Christians had an actual church organization as well as a relationship with the Savior, what does it prove? “And the Lord added to the church daily” (Acts 2:47). Some of the offices in that church are set out in Ephesians 4:11-14, along with reasons why they were and are still necessary.
A person is more likely to meet the real Jesus of the Bible in the LDS Church, because that Church has some of the missing parts of his ministry, such as Christ referred to when he said, “Other sheep I have which are not of this fold” (see John 10:16 and 3 Ne. 15:21).
Page 247, lines 3-5
“A person [who has a relationship with Christ but not with any organization] is a threat to Mormonism, and therefore friends and even family members will be warned not to have anything to do with him or her. “
See previous item. Some LDS spokesmen have cautioned against emphasizing Christ at the expense of other members of the Godhead, because doing this might prevent a person from keeping the full gospel in proper perspective. I am not aware that there is a Church directive warning us to shun an LDS or non-LDS person who has a “relationship with Christ.” Actually the calling of LDS apostles is to bear special testimony that Christ lives and is the literal Son of God our Heavenly Father.
Page 247, lines 6-7
“Even after leaving the Church, however, one’s name will still be kept on the Church rolls”
Normally, names are kept on the records of the LDS Church unless a written request is made by someone to have his name removed or possibly when a person joins another church. This, Latter-day Saints feel, makes it easier to follow Christ’s admonition to go after the lost sheep that has strayed (Luke 15:4).
Page 247, line 10, to last line
Numerous stories of Latter-day Saints who have been “wronged by the LDS Church” are related in these lines, including the charge that Church leaders fabricate and spread lies about members who have left the Church.
These criticisms cannot be satisfactorily examined, since they are not documented. These occurrences, if true, are certainly against Church policy, and from experience I would seriously doubt the facts are as stated. If they were shown to be so, the leaders guilty of such actions would be released from their callings and/or reprimanded.
Page 248, lines 5 and 6
“The spiritual power within Mormonism is very real and very strong.”
The two authors see this as a sign of satanism. Millions of Latter-day Saints see it as evidence of the truthfulness of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and what it teaches.
Pages 248 and 249
“Heavy occult bondage [makes Mormonism] extremely difficult to escape. “
The book has previously charged satanic “magic underwear” and the pagan Masonic occult powers of the LDS temple as being the forces that make it hard to leave Mormonism. Now the authors must also account for the sincere conviction of the many LDS faithful who have firm, positive convictions about their church but who have yet to go to a temple. The book does this by attacking non-temple priesthood ordinances, such as the giving of blessings.
To most Latter-day Saints these blessings are given by fathers, sons, husbands, patriarchs, home teachers, bishops and other Church leaders for purposes of comfort, healing the sick, help with Church callings, or admonitions at important times in life. They are among the most special and sacred experiences to Latter-day Saints.
The book considers all this as satanic. Fortunately, there are non- LDS Christians who think otherwise. When visiting LDS President Spencer W. Kimball a few years ago. Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, who had been somewhat ill for several days, asked the Latter-day Saint prophet to give him a blessing. Dr. Peale stated, “[President Kimball] asked the Lord to be near to me and to love me and to take care of me and to guide me. As he prayed, I began to be very broken up and touched, and then all of a sudden I had a wondrous feeling of the Presence and I said to him, ‘Sir, He is here; I feel His presence’ ” (Ensign, February 1977, p. 84). (Dr. Peale, a prominent American religious leader, is pastor of the Marble Collegiate Church, New York City. The foregoing was taken from a radio address given on April 27, 1975.)
Page 249, lines 3 and 4
“The Mormon Holy Ghost is definitely not the Holy Spirit described in the Bible.”
In Latter-day Saint doctrine. Holy Spirit may take on different meanings, depending on the context in which the term is used in scripture. At times Holy Spirit in the Bible is synonymous with the LDS view of the Holy Ghost.
Page 249, lines 13-14
“[The Patriarchal Blessing] . .. is like . .. having one’s fortune told.”
This is an unfair and untrue charge against one of the sacred practices of Latter-day Saints. The LDS patriarchal blessing is similar to Jacob’s action: “Their father spake unto them and blessed them, every one according to his blessing he blessed them” (Gen. 49:28).
Page 249, lines 24-27
“Sometimes . . . the recipient of the blessing begins to vibrate under a mysterious force and experiences a strange ascension into a ‘higher consciousness, ‘where there is an extreme openness to occultic power and bondage”
I have never heard of recipients of blessings vibrating. But even if some marked higher spiritual experience occurred now and then, why is a “higher consciousness’ in Mormonism satanic and an “occult bondage’ while a “higher consciousness” associated with being a “born-again-Christian” is of God? The book does not make this clear.
Page 250, lines 2-5
“Apostle Bruce R. McConkie has warned that those who seek ‘a personal relationship with Christ’ and take this relationship with Him as ‘a goal in life and focus on if . . . become unbalanced. “
In context Elder McConkie was urging people to keep in balance in their minds an appreciation of the three separate personages of the Godhead.
See page 246, last line and page 247, lines 3-5 for earlier comments.
Page 250, lines 15-18
“God is able to forgive those who will receive Christ, and eternal life is offered as a free gift to anyone willing to receive it on God’s terms.” (Emphasis added.)
Up to now the book has insisted there are no terms. What are the terms? If there are terms, can it be free?
The scriptures and the Latter-day Saints spell out the terms.
See remarks about page 53, line 36 for earlier comments on this.
Page 250, lines 19-26
“Jesus warned that the last days prior to His return would be characterized by religious deception involving false prophets, false Messiahs’ and false miracles so convincing that they would deceive if possible the very elect. “
This is true, and Latter-day Saints believe that deception has taken place. Citing scriptures that warn of error and “false Christs” in the last days does not identify who the deceivers are.
Latter-day Saints do believe that many people have been, are now, and will be deceived by Satan. The latter days are upon us. And many follow “false Christs.” But Latter-day Saints attest to the divinity of the Jesus of the Bible and no other. Latter-day Saints worship no mortal man. The name of the Church is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (italics added).
Page 250, lines 22-26
“The apostle Paul explained that this deception would sweep the world under the leadership of a man who would claim to be God and seemingly prove it by performing miracles through the power of Satan.”
Since no one in Mormonism has ever claimed to be God, the authors correctly eliminate the LDS Church as being the satanic organization of which Paul warns (2 Thes. 2:3-9).
Page 250, lines 29-33
“As we have thoroughly documented, this belief is the common foundation of Mormonism and paganism (occultism). Its ultimate goal is a one world government under a false Messiah, as the apostle John prophesied.”
This famous scripture in the book of Revelation (13:13-18) may have been discussed and speculated on more than any passage of scripture. The “anti-Christ” has been “identified” as various groups and individuals including Mohammed; Martin Luther; Jews; Seventh Day Adventists; and many others. Now the authors claim they have finally solved the problem with “thorough documentation.” They claim it is the Mormons. (See Phillip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, Vol. I, p. 841 ft, for detailed discussion of anti-Christ theories.)
The authors have not provided documentation. Their erroneous charge that the LDS Messiah is not Jesus Christ is their own assertion that is not supported by facts. The “facts” the authors present actually demonstrate that the LDS Church is biblical. (See comments about page 251, lines 11-29).
Page 250, last line to page 251, line 3
“Although these [occult] groups have been widely scattered and many of them have had no contact with similar groups, they all share the same basic Hindu concepts that also lie at the heart of Mormonism.”
For a discussion of the few similarities and many basic differences between LDS doctrine and Hinduism see comments about page 28, line 25. Even to identify basic Hindu concepts is difficult because every imaginable belief is found in Hinduism. One can find basic Hindu beliefs that are closer to historical Christianity than to Mormonism, e.g., the concept of the highest Hindu god (Brahman) is similar to the traditional Christian God, who is “without body, parts and passions.” Both Hinduism and some forms of Christianity have monastic orders.
Page 251, lines 6-10
“This [LDS/Hindu connection] presents compelling evidence that Joseph Smith’s inspirations came from the same nonhuman source that has been communicating with occultists worldwide as far back as history records. That these ‘revelations’ consistently promise godhood and immortality on the same terms that the Serpent offered these to Eve conclusively identifies the mastermind behind Mormonism and all other occultism.”
The authors again completely reverse the role of Satan in LDS theology. Latter-day Saints look at Satan’s promises to Adam and Eve as deceptive and believe that Adam and Eve correctly rejected Satan.
Page 251, lines 11-29
“Mormonism’s founding Prophet both employed the stock-in-trade occult jargon common to secret revolutionary groups of his time and shared their obsessive vision of uniting the world under a new order of government ruled by an esoteric ‘Priesthood.’ “
The book makes several parallels between alleged occult practices and the LDS Church. But these ideas and practices are also found in the Bible. For example: “restoration” (Acts 3:19-21); “Urim and Thummim”(Ex. 28:30); “laying on of hands” (Num. 27:23); “Melchizedek” (Gen. 14:18; Heb. 7:1, 17); and “priesthood” (Ex. 40:15; Heb. 7:11). This is evidence that the LDS Church is based on biblical truth. Some occult groups do have biblical bits and pieces, because the history of all peoples goes back to Adam and Eve who had the gospel of Christ. The book is saying cows have four legs and horses have four legs; therefore, cows are horses.
Page 251, last 5 lines
“Lorenzo Snow confirmed [the return to Missouri] in no uncertain terms. He stated with conviction in 1898: ‘. . . you will go back to Jackson County, many of you whom I am addressing this afternoon. I am sure of this’ ” (Conference Report, April 1898, p. 14).
At least four points are appropriate concerning the foregoing statement:
- Just prior to that portion quoted (as indicated by the ellipses), the full sentence reads, “But you will see the day, if (emphasis added) you live properly, observe the word of wisdom and do that which is required, [then] you will go back to Jackson County . . . ” This changes the statement from one of “no uncertain terms” to one based on a conditional situation. Perhaps Latter-day Saints didn’t reach the degree of perfection needed to return.
- Further support that this was a conditional hope is the sentence before, where Lorenzo Snow also stated that the economic united order would first be lived. The Latter-day Saints in early Utah tried to live this law, but after a number of years of limited success, the practice was discontinued. It is yet to be implemented again.
- Latter-day Saints believe that many of the faithful who have lived and died will return to earth and participate in the Millennium, and this could be what the speaker had in mind.
- The recorder of the talk or the speaker could have erred.
Page 251, lines 31-34
“In 1878 President John Taylor declared: ‘God is determined to carry out his purposes, and to build up his [Independence, Missouri] Zion . . . Hear it, you Latter-day Saints . . . it is a revelation from the Most High . . .
The words in brackets, “Independence, Missouri” were added by the authors. They change the meaning. A reading of the entire talk, and especially at the point where the ellipses are, makes it clear that John Taylor was speaking of their current “Zion” in Utah (/D 20:43). Mormon scripture identifies Zion as “the pure in heart”; it is not necessarily a place (D&C 97:21). Joseph Smith also said, “The whole of America is Zion itself from North to South” (HC 6:318). Zion is also “the center place,” which certainly is Salt Lake City now.
Page 252, lines 1-5
“Having failed to establish their worldwide theocracy within the designated time limit, Mormons refuse to admit that this proves Joseph Smith and all those who followed him as ‘Prophet, Seer and Revelator’ of the Latter-day Saints were false prophets.”
The authors insist on assuming two false premises: 1) The LDS have tried and are trying to establish a worldwide political kingdom prior to the coming of Christ (see comments about page 10, lines 21-24). 2) The LDS Church and Joseph Smith have set a time limit for the Savior’s return (see comments about page 227, lines 5-9).
The coming Millennium is entirely dependent on the second coming of Jesus Christ, whose time of arrival “not even the angels in heaven know. ” This same reasoning caused Albert Schweitzer to reject the divinity of Jesus Christ. His conclusion resulted in his popular book. The Quest for the Historical Jesus, which caused many Christians to lose faith in the divinity of Jesus. Schweitzer read of Christ’s own predictions of his immediate return to earth as recorded by followers, and since it did not happen, he became disillusioned. Schweitzer said, “As to the historical Jesus, he never existed.”
Schweitzer was bothered by Christ’s reported statement recorded in Matt. 10:23 which he and others have interpreted to mean that the Savior’s second coming would take place before the disciples’ mission- ary journeys were completed (Matt. 10:23). Schweitzer also was bothered by the Savior referring to his second coming, saying: “Verily I say unto you, that this generation shall not pass, till all these things be done. Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away” (Mark 13:30). A possible explanation could have kept Schweitzer a believer: the limitation of the biblical texts that we have today, vital missing information that could clarify the apparent “problem.”
In any event, if Albert Schweitzer had had the second witness for Christ, the Book of Mormon, he might not have become a doubter and one of the causes of a defection of many Christians and a subsequent “God is dead” movement.
Page 252, lines 8-11
“The Brethren have spent millions of advertising dollars and decades shedding the former image of the rebel-polygamist-heretic Mormon and building a new reputation of solid citizenship, good morals, and conservative politics.”
The LDS Church has always taught its members high morals and solid citizenship, and then came a desire to take advantage of strides in media communication. This is because the LDS Church has a sincere desire and commission to share the way of life that has brought so much joy to most of its members.
For years the LDS Church was criticized for not finding a more effective proselyting approach than a door-to-door method. Now that it has supplemented this traditional effort by using advertising, the fault-finders again complain. Little criticism is made of secular advertising, even though it often promotes evil lifestyles. When advertising is employed to help build God’s kingdom, why is it wrong?
All effective advertising tends to build the image of the advertiser, but that is not the aim in this case. Much advertising and in this case LDS advertising helps educate the public in a manner not possible in any other way. In this spirit the Savior told his followers:
Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven (Matt. 5:14-16).
Page 252, lines 12-14
“More recently the Mormon Church has begun to cultivate cooperation with ‘Gentiles’ as part of its new strategy for fulfilling Joseph Smith’s grandiose dreamt
This charge is discussed in connection with page 243, lines 22-25 and 247, lines 4-7.
Page 252, lines 22»27
“Brigham Young declared: ‘. . . as Joseph Smith said, “The time will come when the destiny of the nation will hang upon a single thread. At that critical juncture, this people will step forth and save it from destruction.” It will be so . . . the “Mormon” elders . . . will step forth and do if ” (JD 7:15; 2:182).
This highly edited quotation omits completely the idea that any LDS involvement would be by invitation and not by conspiracy. See comments about page 10, lines 21-24 and page 241, lines 24-27 for previous remarks.
Page 252, line 30 to page 253, line 20
“[The] modern successor [to the LDS Council of Fifty] is the Freemen Insttute.”
Although this private organization was founded in Utah and therefore contains many Latter-day Saints, it is not connected with the LDS Church.
There are groups that promote almost every cause imaginable. An educational group to teach constitutional principles is far from being antagonistic to the United States.
One would expect the authors to criticize the LDS Church if it spoke against the U. S. Constitution, not because it supports it and because some of its members, independent from the Church, are involved in a pro-Constitution educational organization. To compare this group with the Council of Fifty in LDS history is nonsense.
Page 253, line 20 to page 254, line 3
“Cooperating ‘Gentiles’ don’t realize that the Freemen Institute is promoting constitutionalism as the key to the establishment of the Mormon worldwide Kingdom.”
The book earlier charged Latter-day Saints with being aloof and uncooperative and treating everyone else as a Gentile. Now when a handful of Latter-day Saints and other Americans apart from the LDS Church cooperate to build a greater appreciation for the U.S. Constitution, these non-Mormons are warned that they are aiding the Mormon conspiracy.
The Freemen Institute is unconnected with the LDS Church and promotes democracy, which includes freedom of religion. This would not be harmonious with the alleged goals of the “satanic” LDS Church. Recently the Freemen Institute changed its name to National Center for Constitutional Studies so that it would not be confused with other groups with similar names and to disavow itself of any LDS connection.
Page 254, lines 6-10
“President Joseph F. Smith said, ‘Zion can only be built up by the law that God revealed for that purpose, which is the law of consecration—not the law of tithing.’ (This means turning over 100 percent to the Church, not just 10 percent.)”
This statement ignores the provisions of stewardship and private ownership, as discussed earlier in connection with page 232, lines 1-3. Consecration in this context refers to surplus, not one’s increase.
Page 254, lines 16-17
“From “Lion’ the Brethren expect to rule the world, and everything they do is directed to that ultimate goal. “
I doubt that any Latter-day Saint has such ideas, but certainly the leaders do not. Many Christians (including LDS) believe Christ will establish a millennial reign. The LDS goal is to prepare people to be worthy to assist Christ in that future kingdom of heaven (D&C 65:6). See page 10, lines 21-24 for previous comments.
Page 254, lines 16-19
The book quotes: ‘. . . the New Jerusalem [in Independence, Missouri] will be built up in our day and generation, and it will have to be done by the United Order of Zion and according to celestial law.”
See comments about page 227, last two lines, for earlier discussion on Christ’s use of the term “generation.”
Page 254, lines 23-25
“Joseph Smith’s revelations blueprinting the human path to ‘Godhood’ were right on target with the Hindu-Buddhist occultism that is sweeping the West today as the New Age movement.”
Hinduism, Buddhism and Joseph Smith’s concepts are all very different. The New Age movement represents only a minor sect of Hinduism. Its initial success seems to be losing steam rather than sweeping the West. See comments about page 28, line 25, for earlier explanation.
Page 254, lines 26-29
“[The New Age Movement or Hindu-Buddhist occultism] offers numerous here-and-now shortcuts to the ‘Godhood’ that Mormons can only hope to reach during eons of time into the future. For this reason, Mormons who become disillusioned with their Church are particularly susceptible to New Age delusions. “
Four things are wrong with those statements:
- Shortcuts to godhood are not part of mainstream Hinduism. That religion teaches it takes millions of lifetimes to reach this goal.
- Although Mormons realize godhood could be a long time away, “eons of time” is an exaggeration.
- Not many Latter-day Saints become disillusioned with their church. Based on counseling many Latter-day Saints, I seldom find this the case. I have found that rejecting the LDS faith is usually accompanied by previous transgression.
- I hardly ever hear a Mormon mentioning the “New Age Movement.”
Page 254, line 31 to page 254, line 4
“Already Mormons have begun to work closely with the Unification Church, headed by Korean Messiah Sun Myung Moon.”
Many religious groups in the United States from left to right have tried to help Reverend Moon with his legal battles. The real issue to which the LDS Church responded was freedom of religion from government intervention, not ecumenism. There was and is no LDS/Unification Church coalition. See comments about page 255.
“The Mormon Church has a great deal in common with the Unification Church,
So do Christians and Buddhists. There are also many differences between the LDS Church and the Unification Church.
The Unification Church believes the fall was the source of human evil, that there was no premortal existence, and that Christ is not resurrected. Their religion comes closer to the type of Christianity the book advocates than to Mormonism.
Reverend Moon believes his is a unification movement; Latter-day Saints are a restoration church and have no illusions of uniting the world, only seeking out individuals who can recognize The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as what it claims to be.
Other Unification Church ideas that differ from the LDS Church are:
- God is both male and female.
- The church family is more important than the natural family.
- Jesus was a second Adam.
- Proselyting has been concentrated on teen-agers but now includes older people as well.
The LDS Church and the Unification Church do share a common view that the United States is essential to maintaining a free world, that communism is evil, that moral corruption should be opposed, and that the family unit can continue into the next life.
Page 255, lines 2-3
The book quotes, “Sun Myung Moon is to cults what Henry Ford was to cars. ”
Wait a minute! Who do the authors think is going to run this one-world government, anyway? If the authors mean that Rev. Moon was the first to popularize a universal-type religion, they are wrong. In the nineteenth century we had the beginning of B’hais, Jehovah Witnesses, Adventists and others, all of whom have had some success.
Page 255, lines 31-35
“The Unification Church hopes to install Sun Myung Moon as world ruler;the Mormon Church holds the same ambition for its ‘Prophet, Seer and Revelator’; and Christians await the return of Jesus Christ to establish His kingdom. “
Earlier the book said several times that Latter-day Saints expect Joseph Smith to reign during the Millennium. Actually, Latter-day Saints do not claim any special role for their prophets when Christ reigns. Many of Reverend Moon’s followers think he is a second Messiah and he has not denied this.
At last, the authors admit that “Christians” too are awaiting Christ to establish His kingdom.
Page 255, lines 35-37
“The Bible declares that the world will be united first under a great political and religious leader known as the Anti-christ.”
The same idea and the identical scriptures were brought out earlier in the chapter. See comments about page 250, lines 29-33.
Page 255, last line to page 256
“This New Age ecumenism is growing in popularity [and raises serious questions].”
The authors may be right in being concerned about New Age ecumenism, but are wrong in linking it to the LDS Church.
Page 256, lines 11-15
“In the popular motion picture ‘Gandhi’ that amazing hero embraces this [world-wide religious unity] impossibility and makes it sound heroic and generous if not reasonable. Gandhi declares: 7 am a Muslim, I am a Hindu, I am a Buddhist, I am a Christian!’ He should have added, ‘And I am irrational!’ No one can rationally be all of these. . . . This unity by lunacy seems to be an idea whose time has come. ”
Hinduism is so diversified that a Hindu can believe what he wants. Gandhi had some insightful ideas on brotherhood and unity which the authors fail to recognize.
Page 256, lines 18-28
Again several generalizations about other religions are incorrect.
From the book
From historical sources
|1. “In Buddhism there is no God.”||Many Buddhists worship Gautama Buddha, while others worship other Buddhas such as Amitaba Buddha, the Buddha of Infinite Light|
|2. “In Hinduism there are millions of gods.”||Yes, but there are three main deities, Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Above these three there is a highest reality (sometimes called God or a force) known as Brahman. Many Hindus be- lieve their 330 million gods are mere teaching aids to unite a person with Brahman.|
|3. “In Islam, there is one God, Allah, who is a single Per son.||Almost true. Islam’s Allah is not consid- ered as a person.|
|4. “In the Judeo-Christian Scriptures three persons—Father, Son and Holy Spirit— comprise the one God. “||Scripturally there are these three Per- sons, but the concept of their being en- compassed in one Being is definitely not Judaic nor even Biblical Christianity, but Christianity based on creeds made later.|
|5. “‘Heaven’ in Buddhism is Nirvana, a return to the void or nothingness.”||Although Western writers have diffi- culty defining this concept, some have said Nirvana is a return to void or noth- ingness. Many Buddhists would rather say that men will eventually cease to ex- ist. In either case to equate this with the traditional Christian heaven is inaccu- rate. Some Mahayana Buddhist groups do have a “pure land” concept that somewhat resembles a traditional Chris- tian heaven.|
|6. “In Hinduism the goal is Moksha or self-realization, to realize that one is God.”||Hindus believe there is a divine soul in man called Atman that is part of the universal soul, Brahman. Their goal is not to become a god, but to lose all iden- tity and have one’s soul merge with the universal soul, Brahman (God).|
|7. “In the Judeo-Christian view the goal is to be in heaven with God, not to be God. “||In Judaism there is no consensus on life after death. Latter-day Saints do not be- lieve a man can become God, but a god.|
Page 256, last two lines to page 257, line 4
“In true Gandhian tradition, CAUSA[*] is creating a New Age ecumenism based upon the insane affirmation. We affirm that the God of Judaism, Catholicism, Protestantism, the Mormons, and the Unification Church and the God of all religions are one and the same. ‘ This New Age slogan is clearly a delusion, yet it makes people who repeat it feel good. “
The interpretation of God by these various groups is different, and certainly it affects one’s eternal salvation. Nevertheless, one God is over the entire earth. Although it is important to try and discover the nature of God, the recognition that there is a God to whom we are all responsible is a step in the right direction, and certainly is not deserving of criticism.
Page 257, lines 4-7
“A false unity is thus achieved by affirming that belief in some ‘God’ is sufficient, never mind who he (or she or it) island forget everything else.”
The LDS Church has no part in the New Age movement. The Church never has been nor will be part of any ecumenical movement. It claims to be the restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in its fulness. As such it cannot compromise on doctrinal principles. These are determined in the LDS Church by scripture and by revelation to its prophet. This does not preclude the Church or its members from cooperating in worthy causes with other people and organizations of good will.
Is not an effort by individuals from different religious groups working together in certain common areas preferable to religious wars and groups attacking each other? (The authors forget that it is not the LDS Church that is involved in the ecumenism of which they speak, but an independent organization known as the National Center for Constitutional Studies that was formerly the Freemen Institute.)
Page 257, lines 7-10
“With this irrational glue the new ecumenism is joining diverse cults together in a seemingly impossible New Age coalition that may stick long enough for the Antichrist to use it to his own ends.”
There is no intent or effort by the LDS Church to join with or pull any of these groups together. Incidentally, any effort by anyone to take over in such circumstances would be doomed to failure. What would keep any of the participants from picking up their marbles and going home if one of the groups tried to seize control?
Page 257, lines 21-23
“However, the Bible explains that God’s revelation of Himself through creation and conscience has been habitually corrupted even by those who profess to believe in Him.”
This rationale is difficult to follow. Is the book saying that since some professors of religion are corrupt, that means Latter-day Saints must be corrupt?
In Romans 1:18-25 and other passages, Paul, whom the book paraphrases, does speak against those who profess to believe in God and turn against His teachings, but he was talking about early Christianity, not nineteenth- and twentieth-century Mormonism. Latter-day Saints believe Paul was accurate in describing apostate conditions in the church at that time, and these conditions became so bad that a complete restoration was necessary, which happened through the instrumentality of Joseph Smith. The authors believe Joseph Smith corrupted the Bible, whereas in reality Joseph Smith protested that traditional Christianity had strayed from biblical Christianity. The authors will continue to draw false conclusions all the while they maintain their false premise that traditional Christianity is the same thing as early Christianity.
Page 257, lines 23-26
“The human heart is prone to honor and appease any false god that promises to give it what it wants. The true God, however, makes no such magician’s bargains’
The authors, no doubt unintentionally, have just made a case for the LDS Church. Throughout the book they have criticized Mormonism for its emphasis on works and effort—which, through God’s grace, can bring us to eternal life. True, the LDS Church offers no magician’s bargains, but those who believe in instant eternal life believe “bargains’ exist. To Latter-day Saints God does not “promise to give (godhood]” but offers a plan of repentance, work and service by which to attain it.
Page 257, lines 27-38
“If morality is to be based upon more than changeable fads, opinions, customs, or fanaticism, it must come as a communication from God in the conscience. There must be a higher basis than culture for determining what is right and wrong if those concepts are to have any real meaning. This is exactly what the Bible claims. There is no real hope for moral stability in family or society until immorality is seen as not just ‘hurting others,’ but as sin against God. Again this is what the Bible teaches. But who is God, and how can we be sure that He exists—and if He does, how can we know Him? This is very important, because our view of God determines our morality and everything else.”
What the authors say in the foregoing paragraph is true as far as it goes. Latter-day Saints believe they fit that description, but that there is more to do, as the Bible teaches. To realize these stated biblical goals, as well as the scriptures one also needs living prophets and personal spiritual guidance from a Heavenly Father. These too are required by biblical teachings (Eph. 2:19-20; 4:11-14). This “communication from God in the conscience,” the term the authors use, is exactly what Moroni had in mind when he urged those who receive the Book of Mormon to ponder it and pray to learn of its truthfulness (Moroni 10:3-4).
Page 258, lines 17-19
“Unlike the Mormon ‘Gods’ the God of the Judeo-Christian Bible created everything out of nothing. “
There is no biblical documentation for the idea that man and the earth were created out of nothing. The authors are either unaware of or choose to ignore the philosophical pitfalls of the exnihilo doctrine of God creating something out of nothing. This then makes the creator responsible for what he creates, and thus those who think this way have no satisfactory answers about the Fall, evil in the world and other thorny issues. Mormons maintain that an ex nihilo creation is absurd. In connection with page 25, line 26, the premortal existence of man was discussed.
LDS scriptures are helpful to an understanding that the earth was not made out of nothing. “We will go down, for there is space there, and we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell” (Abra. 3:22-24; italics added).
Joseph Smith also taught,
The word create came from the word baumu, which does not mean to create out of nothing; it means to organize; the same as a man would organize materials and build a ship. Hence, we infer that God had materials to organize the world out of chaos (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 350-352).
Page 258, lines 32-33
“A ‘God’ that fits anyone’s definition is clearly man’s creature and not his Creator. “
In the sense of defining God in one’s own terms, this is true. But Latter-day Saints are convinced that their understanding of God is biblical, as discussed in connection with page 110, line 30.
Page 258, lines 33-34
“The human arrogance that defines God in its own terms has already enthroned self in His place.”
This is true. The real question, then, is who has defined God on his own terms? Relying on man-made councils that arrived at a definition of God through debate is defining God on man’s terms. The LDS, scriptural concept of God accepts God as being far greater than man can comprehend, but not so remote and formless that it is difficult for man to relate to God. See comments about page 26, line 24 for earlier remarks.
Page 258, last three lines
“Self deification is at the heart of Hinduism, is the foundation of all occultism, and is the meeting point between atheism and false religion..”
Man and religion, including the occult, have been around longer than Hinduism, which most scholars claim began around 1500 B.C. Self-deification is not LDS doctrine, nor is the LDS idea of life after death similar to Hinduism.
Page 259, lines 6-9
“Secular humanism, which most Mormons would sincerely see as their enemy, makes man the center and measure of all things. So does Mormonism.”
Secular humanism is the enemy of most God-loving people, including Latter-day Saints. LDS people are urged to emulate Christ and worship God. Humanism teaches “that the only god of man is man himself.” This is contrary to all LDS doctrine.
Page 259, lines 17-20
Joseph Smith declared that all ‘Gods’ are men and that men are the only ‘Gods’; that the ‘intelligence which man possesses is co-equal with God himself;’ and that men and all spirits are ‘co-equal. .. land] self-existent with God.’ ”
This talk by Joseph Smith also said, “You have got to learn how to be gods” (JD 6:4-7). The talk, known as the King Follett Discourse, states that the intelligence of both God and man “had no beginning, neither will it have an end.” In that sense God and men are co-equal in “time,” not equal in intelligence, attainment, or current ability.
One of the traditional doctrines that raises many problems and turns many from any belief in God is that if God created man and the earth, how can we explain pain, suffering, and wickedness in man? Why would God create such a situation?
Latter-day Saints have an answer. Humans are co-eternal with God; therefore God is not completely responsible for what we are. The individual shares in that responsibility.
Mormons do not believe in an anthropomorphic God (a god with human weaknesses), but in theomorphic man—a man of God’s species, but embryonic in mortality. The embryo may never “hatch,” but the LDS Church claims that God has revealed the “incubator” that can make it happen.
Page 259, lines 23-26
“Joseph Smith taught that the universe of ‘matter and intelligence’ has always existed. As in all nature (witchcraft) religions, so in Mormonism there is neither creator nor creation.”
Latter-day Saints teach that God has created us in this mortal condition and in a premortal condition. Since Latter-day Saints literally believe that eternal means no beginning and no end to existence, this means that in some form we have always existed. Latter-day Saints believe that “create” means “to organize;” the authors maintain “create” means “to bring into existence.” The dictionary gives both possible meanings, but a modern prophet has defined, consistent with scripture, which one applies in this case. (See previous comments about page 258, lines 17-19.)
Latter-day Saints believe that humans are spirit children of a Heavenly Father and that He authorized Jesus Christ to create this world for a mortal experience for these spirit children. However, Latter-day Saints do believe that man has existed co-eternally with God prior to becoming God’s spirit children, and hence we too had no beginning.
Page 259, line 32
“Joseph Smith was a classical humanist atheist.
To call someone an atheist who doesn’t agree with your definition of God is unfair. Considering all the additional evidence and understanding Joseph Smith gave the world about God and Jesus Christ, and his sacrifice of his life for what he understood as their cause, Joseph Smith was the complete antithesis of the atheist. There are many “Christian humanists” but Joseph Smith was not even close to being one of them either.
Page 259, last three lines:
“[Mormons do not believe in] the only true God, and Creator of everything that is.”
Latter-day Saints do indeed believe in the biblical God who is the Creator of “everything that is” To LDS people this means everything was organized by God, from previously existing materials, but not a creation of something from nothing. Latter-day Saints believe their interpretation of God is a biblical interpretation, and the authors believe their version is correct. The authors believe in the Bible as interpreted by creeds and theologians. Latter-day Saints believe in the Bible and other scriptures which explain and amplify biblical prophets. The discussion in connection with page 25, line 26 helps point out the LDS justification for their interpretation that God and man have always existed.
Page 259, last line to page 260, line 6
“As in classical occultism and atheistic humanism, the Mormon ‘Gods’ are ‘Ascended Masters’—men who through initiation into ever-higher levels of secret knowledge have learned to apply universal laws and principles and have thereby become Masters over the forces of nature that have somehow always existed on their own.”
There are at least three things wrong with the previous sentence.
- Atheism does not deal with any concept of God at all.
- Whatever similarities (and they are few and usually remote) exist between LDS doctrine and some occult doctrines are due to all religions having remnants from the original gospel of Christ that Adam and Eve had. See page 115, lines 21-24 for earlier discussion.
- In LDS thought, it is not only higher levels of knowledge, but higher levels of obedience to God’s commandments that result in growth.
Page 260, lines 7-10
“Far from being omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent—as is the Biblical God—the Mormon ‘God’ is a highly evolved creature of the cosmos governed by these self-existent laws that are therefore greater than the ‘Gods’ themselves.”
Latter-day Saint doctrine teaches that God is omnipotent in the sense that, through total allegiance to and conformity with eternal laws and principles, he has all power to carry out the greatest work there is or ever was—to make his supreme quality of life available to his children (Mos. 3:5, 17-18, 21; 5:2,15). LDS doctrine also teaches that Christ is our lawgiver, acting under the direction of God the Father, and that like the Father, the Son also operates within the framework of eternal law.
Although LDS doctrine teaches that God willingly abides by eternal laws, it would be more correct to say that both God and God’s laws are eternal, not that laws are greater than God.
The LDS Church does say that as God is, man may become, and as man is, God once was. However, this has nothing to do with God’s present status. God is not continuing to evolve, though his glory increases as He is able to bring others to exaltation.
LDS doctrine does also declare God is omniscient, meaning he has unlimited knowledge and wisdom (2 Ne. 9:20; D&C 38:1-2). As to God being omnipresent, LDS people believe God’s power and influence are everywhere through the immensity of space, but do not push the idea of omnipresence to preclude God from also existing as a personal being (D&C 88:41; D&C 130:22).
Page 260, lines 25-29
“Many sincere Mormons are not aware that: (1) the ‘Godhood’ they pursue in obedience to The Brethren will take ‘eons of time’ to achieve at great effort and danger; and (2) once gained, it can be lost in a moment if they fail to perfectly obey the thousands of laws that govern Mormon ‘Gods.'”
Latter-day Saint doctrine does not say it will take eons of time, but that it will most certainly take faithful effort beyond this lifetime. LDS people do not believe in instant godhood, and they realize that every- one has agency and may therefore be subject to sin and error and its consequences. The book, in making the eternal quest up the ladder sound impossible, fails to point out that the principle of repentance is also an eternal principle, which means that setbacks and mistakes in a person’s life are not a final sentence to failure. LDS doctrine does include the scriptural concept of an eventual step that assures eternal life as far as mortality is concerned, as explained in 2 Peter 1:10: “Give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall.”
Page 260, last four lines
“The ‘God’ of Mormonism is unquestionably not the God of Christianity and the Bible. Therefore, even if every prophecy Joseph Smith uttered came true (in fact almost none did), the people of God would still be required to reject him. “
The commentary in connection with page 26, line 24, has previously explained that the LDS concept of God is completely biblical. Reasons why the LDS Church doesn’t publish lists of fulfilled prophecies were given in connection with page 213, lines 31-37. Although the authors have repeatedly referred to many “false” prophecies of Joseph Smith, they have mostly “not had space to list them all,” although there was room to make the same charges against the LDS Church over and over again. The few prophecies the book claimed were false have been treated here as the charges were made.
Some of the prophecies of Joseph Smith that I can recall that have come true are listed in Appendix C. Even considering this list only the charge that hardly a prophecy of Joseph Smith was fulfilled is clearly not true.
Page 261, lines 1-3
“The very first mark of a false prophet in the Bible is that he entices people to follow ‘other gods’ than the God of Israel. Joseph Smith fits that description.”
See commentary in connection with page 26, line 24, to show that this appraisal of Joseph Smith is totally incorrect.
Page 261, lines 5-17
“Today’s world trembles under the threat of nuclear devastation and teeters on the brink of ecological, financial, and social collapse. We have been on a selfish binge that is destroying ourselves as God’s creatures and the creation in which He has placed us. The theory of man’s inherent goodness and infinite potential for good as a ‘god-in embryo’ hardly fits the rampant lust, jealousy, hatred, murder, rape, disease, hunger, war, and other sorrows and crimes that are a blight on planet Earth. A much better explanation would be that all of this horror and shame can be traced to the fact that we have almost 5 billion little counterfeit gods in the world. The only hope is to give up our rebellion and surrender to the one true God on His own terms.”
A far more reasonable explanation for the above-mentioned ills of society is that the problems noted are the result of godless philosophies, religions that have failed to motivate men to goodness and religions that teach the depravity of man by blaming man’s “wicked” nature on Adam and Eve. Traditional Christianity, with over one million followers, has not solved the world’s problems either.
To attribute the current critical condition of the world to the “almost million little counterfeit gods in the world,” when most of the world either without a belief in any god, or without the belief in man’s potential godhood, is illogical to say the least. Man’s basic problems are selfishness and irresponsibility. The Latter-day Saint concept revealed by God concerning God, Jesus Christ and man, and their relationship to one another is the only hope if we want to eliminate the problems the book mentions.
Latter-day Saints are saying that neither godlessness nor religions that do not have the full concept of the gospel of Christ are the answer, although the latter may accomplish some good. Latter-day Saints invite all who are concerned about the state of mankind and who are willing to listen, study and pray, to consider the restoration of the gospel as taught by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Others also teach that a life that follows Christ is essential. However, Latter-day Saints believe that only with correct doctrines, the true priesthood of God, additional scripture, temple participation and the power and strength it brings, living prophets, and a life of service and works—only thus can the ideal godlike person and society come about.
Page 261, lines 16-18
The authors assert that thousands of Mormons are escaping at last from theLDS Church by “surrender to the one true God on His own terms’
There are not thousands leaving the LDS Church, and of those dozens who do leave, many come back when they come to realize that what they have lost cannot be found elsewhere.
Page 261, line 23 to page 263, line 18
“Escape at Last” is a section of undocumented highly emotional stories that tell of Latter-day Saints who have fled “the grasp” of the LDS Church,
Considering all I have said about such stories, further comment would be superfluous.
Page 263, lines 19-33
“The lawyers refused to file that class action suit. They told Ed Decker and Dick Baer, ‘You’ve taken us to Kolob and back, but we don’t think we could get a jury to accompany us…’ “At first, Ed and Dick were bitterly disappointed. However, it was out of that disappointment that the inspiration for the movie and for this book came. It was one way to tell the story, to explain the truth. At least now many thousands of people who might otherwise have been deceived will know what lies behind those sincere words and innocent smiles the next time two well groomed and wholesome-appearing young men ride up on their bicycles, knock at the door and pleasantly say, ‘Hello! We’d like to talk to you about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints…‘”
What “lies behind those sincere words and innocent smiles’ is an invitation to listen to what the book The God Makers did not tell, an invitation to hear the message of the return to the earth of the gospel of Jesus Christ, as was prophesied in the Bible. This message can change a person’s life for the better as nothing else can.