Mormonism Part 4

The Right Dollar Bill

What Mormons mean when they use Bible terms and Christian language to portray their beliefs.

One major difficulty talking with Mormons is that they speak a religious language that appears to be Christian in context, discount viagra here but in actuality is not.     From the outset, store they purposely use the same biblical language Christian churches embrace.    But the meanings and applications they attach to the words and expressions of the Bible are quite different, sovaldi sale as you will see in the examples below.

This Teachable Moment article is lengthy and should be considered as a reference.  Unlike other articles, it will begin with a Teachable Moment.    It is then organized into four sections of Mormon definitions: Mormon reference books, heaven related terms, salvation related terms, and various other Mormon terms (in alphabetical order).

This is the fourth Teachable Moment article in a five part series dealing with Mormonism.  If you would like the first three articles {Islam of the West, The Great Spiritual Salt Lake, and Joseph Smith} then send me an  e-mail and I will send them to you.

Teachable Moment

After you have reviewed several of the following Mormon terms with your family, play a game with you children that tests their skills identifying what is true and what is not.   You might want to title this family activity the Counterfeit Dollar Game.   Pick a dollar from you wallet and display it to your children.   Have them describe the unique features of the dollar.   Whose picture is on it?  What are the words and phrases on the dollar?  Then have your family make their own artistic copy of the dollar.   Don’t forget to have them color it green!    Put their works of art next to the real dollar.   But before you start the game, scan a dollar off your computer and print out a few copies.   You will need a color printer for this.   If you don’t have a scanner or color printer then ask a friend who does, or go to your local toy store and find the best looking fake money you can purchase.   Don’t forget to destroy the copies you made from your computer when the game is over; our US Government still gets a little nervous about any copies of dollar bills made even for the sake of a Teachable Moment.

After all the copies are made, display them on a table.     Now move your family to a distance that makes it difficult to see which is the real dollar.    Mix them around so they will not easily locate the real dollar.    Then have them guess which one is the real dollar, and which ones are the counterfeits.     It may be easy for them to eliminate their own versions of the dollar, but quite difficult when it comes to those that have been copied from your computer.

After they have made their best guess, move them closer, where they can better see the features of each bill.   And repeat this process until they can clearly see which is the real dollar and which are the counterfeits.

The lesson in this Teachable Moment is hopefully very clear; the key to spotting a counterfeit religion like Mormonism is to repeatedly study and know the Bible.   Even the counterfeit experts in our US Treasury Department highly regard the practice of repetition and knowledge.   Before they graduate from their counterfeit training schhol each agent runs his/her fingers over a dollar bill at least a million times.   By knowing what the real thing looks and feels like helps them discover quickly was  is fake.  In response, we need to do with the Bible, the better our families know it, the better we can all spot a counterfeit religion.  And there are a multitude of counterfeits religions (Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jehovah Witness, Unitarianism, Scientology, etc) in our world today, and Mormonism is just one.

Here is Mormonism up close!

Mormon Reference Books

Book of Mormon: Subtitled “Another Testament of Jesus Christ,” it is one of four books Mormons consider scripture. It contains the story of the supposed migration of groups of Jews to the Americas and their subsequent history in the Americas. It does not contain much LDS teaching. Mormons highly respect it, but many have never read it.

Doctrine and Covenants (D & C): One of Mormonism’s 4 scriptures. It consists of 140 “divine revelations and inspired declarations” received mostly Joseph Smith. It teaches more Mormon doctrine than the other three LDS scriptures combined.

Pearl of Great Price: It contains The book of Moses, Abraham, Joseph Smith, Matthew, Joseph Smith’s history and the articles of their faith.  Because it is short it is usually printed with the Doctrine and Covenants.   Most Mormons never read it.

The Bible: One of the four books Mormons considers scripture. They believe it to be the Word of God “as far as it is translated correctly” (Eighth Article of Faith). In addition, they believe many precious parts have been lost from it (1 Nephi 13:28). Consequently they consider it the least reliable of their scriptures. Most Mormons are not familiar with the Bible.

Heavenly Related Terms

Heaven: Consists of all three kingdoms: Celestial, Terrestrial, Telestial.

Celestial Kingdom: The highest of the 3 kingdoms of LDS heaven. Faithful Mormons will live with the Heavenly Father and Jesus in this Kingdom. There are three levels within the celestial kingdom: the top level equals exaltation, the purpose of the second level has not been revealed, and the third level is for faithful Mormons who were not married in the temple. These individuals become ministering servants.

Terrestrial Kingdom: The middle kingdom of heaven where people will be visited by Jesus but not by Heavenly Father. This will be the final destination of honorable people and nonviolent Mormons (Jack Mormons.)

Telestial Kingdom: The lowest kingdom of heaven.   It is not visited by the Heavenly Father or Jesus, but only by the Holy Ghost (not Holy Spirit).    This will be the final destination of carnal and wicked people.   Although it is the lowest kingdom its glory, which is symbolized as the glory of starts, is described as surpassing all mortal understating.   Some Mormons refer to it as the “slums of heaven.”

Independence, Missouri: (1) An important site to Mormons sometimes referred to as Zion. They believe Jesus will return there and rule both from there and Jerusalem during the Millennium. Before that happens, however, they believe a temple needs to be built on the spot indicated by Joseph Smith. (2) The site if the Garden of Eden.

Salvation Related Terms

Conversion: Acceptance of Mormonism, which is evidenced by a change of lifestyle. This contrasts with biblical conversion, which is a turning away from trust in one’s own work to trust in Jesus’ saving work. LDS conversion is rooted in feelings. “They will be converted when they feel the Spirit and act on the promptings they receive” (Reference: Missionary Guide, p. 1)

Cross: Mormons are repulsed by symbols of Christ’s cross. They do not exhibit crosses in their meetinghouses or homes. Nor do they wear them as jewelry. They view the cross as a symbol of death and think that Christians have made it their idol.

Jesus: Mormons regard him in the following ways: (1) As the first spirit child of Heavenly Father. (2) As Jehovah. (3) As the only begotten Son. They believe he is the only child Heavenly Father physically begat on this earth. (4) As the Savior, not a Savior who did everything for mankind but rather one (a) who conquered physical death for mankind, (b) who paid our debt and is patient with us as we pay him back in full, (c) who served as our example, showing us what we have to do to save ourselves.

Accepting Jesus: (1) Mormons claim they believe that Jesus lives and is divine. But although they say Jesus is divine, they view him as inferior to the Father. (Reference: Mormon doctrine on Jesus)

Exemplar: A popular LDS title for Jesus. It reveals the Mormons’ belief that Jesus saved them by being their example, not by becoming their substitute who has done everything for them.

Savior: Mormons often refer to Jesus as their Savior. They believe he paid their debt to the heavenly father and also conquered death for them. But they also believe that they have to pay him back in full. In other words, they believe he saved them by assuming their loan, refinancing it, and spreading out the payments. They do not believe he save them fully and freely by paying for their sins and them canceling the debt.

Son of God: That Jesus is the Son of God is part and parcel of every Mormon’s testimony. In saying that, however, they are not saying that they believe Jesus is equal with God the Father. “Jesus is greater than the Holy Spirit, which is subject unto him, but his Father is greater then he!” (Book of Mormon Student Manual, p. 74)

God: Mormons believe that the Heavenly Father was once a man who subsequently obtained godhood. A popular couplet states: “As man now is, God once was; As God now is, man may be.” They call him an exalted man and believe he has a physical body. “I say, if you were to see him today, you would see him like a man in form’ (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 345). God is a glorified and perfected man, a personage of flesh and bones” (Gospel Principles, p. 6). Believing that God has a physical body is one of the most important tenets of Mormonism.

Godhood: a Mormon’s goal is to attain godhood; to become a god.

Grace: Not the unconditional, undeserved, unfathomable love on God’s part that moved him to save us. Rather it is the power God gives people to save themselves, which he grants only after they have done everything they can do. “This grace is an enabling power that allows men and women to lay hold on eternal life and exaltation after they have expended their own best efforts” (LDS Bible Dictionary, p. 697). We know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do” (Nephi 25:23)

Forgiveness: Mormonism teaches that a person must earn God’s forgiveness. “Peace comes only through forgiveness. But forgiveness has a high price. President Kimball tells us: ‘To every forgiveness there is a condition… The fasting, the prayers, the humility must be equal to or greater than the sin. There must be broken hearted and a contrite spirit…There must be tears and genuine change of heart. There must be conviction of the sin, abandonment of the evil, confession of the error to properly constituted authorities of the Lord” (Gospel Principles, p. 243, emphasis added)

Free Salvation: An expression not commonly used in Mormonism. The LDS church defines it as the salvation that is freely and fully available to all people, but it is not free in the sense that they don’t have to earn it. “Though salvation is free we must reconcile ourselves from God” (Ensign, July 1989, p. 60). In fact, Mormons label the Christian teaching of free salvation as satanic. One of the most fallacious doctrines originated by Satan and propounded by man is that man is saved alone by the grace of God; that belief in Jesus Christ alone is all that is needed for salvation” (Spencer W. Kimball, quoted in Book of Mormon Student Manual, p. 36)

Mormon Terminology Up Close (Alphabetical Order)

Adam: Equated with Michael, the archangel. Mormons believe he was one of the Heavenly Father’s finest spirit children. He was sent to earth to make man mortal, which he accomplished through his fall. Because of this, Mormons consider his fall good.. “Adam voluntarily, and with full knowledge of the consequence, partook of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil that men might be… For his service we owe Adam an immeasurable debt of gratitude.”  (Reference: 2 Nephi 2:22-25; Moses 5:10,11 out of Book of Mormon).

Angels: Not creatures of God distinct from humans as the Bible teaches. Mormons themselves seem to be confused about their exact description. Most common is the explanation that “an angel is a resurrected or translated body, with its spirit ministering to embodies spirits” (Reference: Doctrine & Covenant, the Mormon student manual, p. 320).

Baptism:  By immersions either at the age of eight or when converted to the church. Mormons consider valid only baptisms performed by a holder of their priesthood. Baptism signals people’s acceptance of Mormonism as the truth. Even though they are baptized with water “In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost: it is not a valid Christian baptism since the LDS church is not a Christian church (Reference: Joseph Smith’s Doctrines & Covenants 20:73).

Baptism for the Dead: One of the three main missions of the LDS church is to redeem the dead by being baptized for them. Mormons believe that spirits who accept Mormonism in the spirit world cannot progress until they are baptized. Such spirits must receive baptism vicariously through a living person since they don’t have a body that can be baptized. Such baptisms can be performed only in the temple (Reference: See Mormon doctrine).

Blood Atonement: A concept not discussed much in modern Mormonism. Historically Mormonism taught that the only way murderers could atone for their crime was through shedding of their own blood. A remnant of this teaching can be seen today in the Utah still offers the option of being executed by firing squad.

Body (Our human bodies): Having a physical body is essential for the attaining of godhood. “No other people on earth understand the sacred nature and purpose of our physical bodies as do LDS… We knew that by gaining physical bodies to house our spirits, we would have the opportunity to become more like our Father” (Reference: Come Unto Me, p. 143).

Burning in the Bosom: (1) A feeling of peace and assurance that the Holy Ghost supposedly gives a person to confirm the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. (2) Also used to describe the feeling the Holy Ghost supposedly gives to confirm an individual’s action.

Christian: (1) Mormons are increasingly applying this term to themselves. They claim the Mormonism is true Christianity. They base their claim to being Christian on the fact that they have Christ in their church name and because they honor him highly.  (Reference: Mormon Doctrine, p. 513).

Coffee: The drinking of hot drinks is condemned in the Mormon Word of Wisdom. Hot drinks have been officially interpreted as coffee and tea. Drinking coffee disqualifies Mormons from entering the temple and is one of the worst sins they can commit.

Demons: The spirit children who joined Satan in his rebellion. They were immediately consigned to outer darkness, thus depriving them of any chance of continuing their progression to godhood.

Eternal Death: To Mormons, this is not a description of hell. Rather, it refers to the inability to procreate spirit children because of the failure to obtain godhood. Mormonism pictures this inability to produce offspring for all eternity as one of the worst fates that can befall people.

Eternal Family: A favorite LDS expression. There are two aspects to an eternal family: (1) the earthly family unit will remain a family unity for all eternity. (2) The family will increase through the procreation of spirit children for all eternity. Only those who attain godhood will be able to have eternal families. “Our earthly families will remain permanently ours. And we can also continue to increase, adding spirit children to our posterity” (Reference: The Latter-day Saint Woman A, p. 69)

Eternal Progression: The LDS belief that a person can continue to progress throughout eternity, eventually obtaining godhood. This teaching is the heart and core of Mormonism.

Eternal Punishment: Not punishment that lasts for all eternity, but punishment inflicted by an eternal god. Mormonism’s eternal punishment lasts a relatively short time.

Extraction: The process of extracting names from centuries-old records. This work is vital since it supplies the raw data for the genealogical work. There are two extraction programs: the family home extraction program allowing members to work at home and the stake extraction program where members work at centralized location. The LDS church claims to have already extracted over two billion names.

Feelings: Subjective feelings, rather than objective facts, are the most important thing to Mormons. They believe that revelation, knowledge, guidance, and the answers to prayer all come through the medium of a person’s feelings.

Gentiles: Non-Mormons. “Some Latter-day saints have referred to those who are not members of the church as Gentiles, even though the nonmembers might be Jews!” (Ensign, Jan. 1991, p. 52)

Hell: (1) Not a place of eternal punishment but the temporary state of suffering wicked spirits experience in spirit prison before judgment day. “That part of the spirit would inhabited by wicked spirits who are awaiting the eventual day of their resurrection is called hell… Hell will have an end” (D&C Student Manual, p. 165). (2) The regret the inhabitants of the lower kingdoms of heaven will experience as they see the glories of the celestial kingdom. “Of course, those who enter the terrestrial kingdom will have eternal punishment which will come to them in knowing that they might, if they kept the commandments of the Lord, have returned to his presence as his sons and his daughters. This will be a torment to them, and in that sense it will be hell” (Life and Teachings of Jesus and His Apostles, p. 66)

Holy Spirit: A very confusing concept in Mormonism and therefore an expression Mormons don’t employ much. It is not synonymous with the Holy Ghost. Mormons speak of the Holy Ghost as a personage as ‘he’ and this other spirit as ‘it’ (Ensign, June 1991, p. 26)

Israel: Mormons believe that most people who join the church have at least some of Abraham’s blood. If they don’t, Mormonism teaches that their blood will literally be changed. “…the effect of the Holy Ghost upon a Gentile is to purge out the blood, and make him actually the seed of Abraham. That man that has none of the blood of Abraham (naturally) must have a new creation by the Holy Ghost” (Joseph Smith, quoted in Doctrines of the Gospel, p. 57)

Jack Mormons: A slang expression for a non-active Mormon.

John the Baptist: The last legal administration of the Aaronic priesthood. Mormons believe he appeared to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowerdy on May 15, 1829 and bestowed upon them the Aaronic priesthood.

Mormon: Popular name for members of the LDS church. It is derived from the name of the prophet in the Book of Mormon. Although some Christians claim that using this name is derogatory to LDS people, if it is one they themselves often use.

Mother in Heaven: “For as we have a Father in heaven, so also we have a Mother there, a glorified, exalted, ennobled Mother” (Achieving a Celestial Marriage, p. 129)

Outer Darkness: The closest Mormonism comes to the biblical concept of hell. (Mormons define hell differently) Outer darkness is the abode of Satan, demons, and the sons of perdition. Many Mormons believe that only a handful of people will qualify as sons of perdition and thus go to outer darkness.

Perfection: The major emphasis of Mormonism. Becoming perfect is the key to becoming exalted. The emphasis places great stress on many Mormons. “Perhaps no idea creates more emotional stress for some of us than the idea that we need to be perfect right now–or soon!… And we fail to achieve perfection in some area, we criticize ourselves harshly, even to the pint of despair” (Ensign, Sept. 1990, p. 50)

Plural Marriage: Mormons use this term instead of polygamy. In 1843 this doctrine became part of LDS scripture (D&C 132). Plural marriage had been practices by Joseph Smith and selected others previous to this and continued to be practiced openly until 1890. At that time, the living prophet, Wilford Woodruff, supposedly received a revelation which forbade this practice (D&C Declaration 1).

Prayer: Answers to prayer come through feelings. A good feeling constitutes a positive reply while a bad feeling signifies a negative reply.

Preexistence: Also called premortality or our first estate. Mormons believe we existed before our earth-life as spirit children of Heavenly Father.

Satan: Heavenly Father’s spirit child who proposed an alternate plan of salvation. After Heavenly Father rejected it, Satan rebelled. The Heavenly Father sent him, along with followers, to outer darkness. This meant that they lost forever their chance to obtain physical bodies and to continue their progression to godhood. For many Mormons, Stan is the spiritual being of whose presence they are most aware.

Sin: A word not commonly used by Mormons since Mormonism has a weak view of sin. “But all of us are guilty of sin to some degree” (Gospel Principles, p. 117). Instead of talking about sin, they use words such as bad habits, infractions, mistakes, and ad poor judgments.

Spirit Children: Mormons teach that in preexistence everyone lived as a spirit child of Heavenly Father and Mother. They claim that spirit children can develop characteristics and begin their progression to godhood through the wise use if their agency.

Temple: A place not just for worship but also of individual sacred work. (Mormons would say that participating in the sacred work is worship) Only temple worthy Mormons can enter. There are three main temple rituals: (1) baptism for the dead (2) endowments for both living and the dead (3) celestial marriage (sealing both for the living and the dead). Participating in these rituals is essential; for exaltation. Mormons are encouraged to have a picture of the temple hanging in their houses. In many ways, the temple holds the same place of reverence in a Mormons life as Christ’s cross does in a Christian’s life.

Temple Garments: (1) The special garments worn only in the temple; (2) the scared undergarments worn at all times which many feel gives them supernatural protection. Only temple-worthy Mormons can wear either of these garments.

Temple Mormon: A Mormon who is worthy to enter the temple. Only about 25% of Mormons qualify.

Tithing: Giving 10% of your income to the church. It is an important requirement for remaining in good standing with the church. It is essential for becoming temple-worthy. “Accordingly, tithing becomes one of the great tests of the personal righteousness of church members. ‘By this principle,’ President Joseph F. Smith says, ‘the loyalty of the people of this church shall be put to the test. By this principle it shall be known for the kingdom of God and who is against it… There is a great deal of importance connected with this principle, for by it shall be known whether we are faithful or unfaithful'” (Bruce R. McConkie, quoted in Temple Preparation Seminar Discussions, p. 62)

Trinity: Mormons do not believe in the Trinity. “And virtually all the millions of apostate Christendom have abased themselves before the mythical Christ whom they vainly suppose to be a spirit essence who is incorporeal, immaterial, and three-in-one with the Father and the Holy Spirit” (Mormon Doctrine, p. 269)

Reference:   ” Speaking the Truth in Love To Mormons,” Pastor Mark J. Cares {Pages 239-279}.