The Gospel Observer

"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations...teaching them to observe all that I commanded you, and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matt. 28:19,20).
June 17, 1990


1) Mormonism (Part One) (Tom Edwards)


Mormonism (Part One)
by Tom Edwards

Mistakes of Mormonism

I remember the late Bob Crawley once mentioning that while away at a gospel meeting he read through the Book of Mormon, highlighting a remarkable amount of errors. Though he had known prior that there would be several fallacies, he was amazed at all the incongruities he soon had found. Today let us consider some of these errors of Mormonism.

Though the church of Christ began about A.D. 33, the Mormon church was not founded until approximately 1,800 years later. According to one of the Mormon handbooks, Doctrine and Covenants 21:1-3, their "...church was organized and established in the year of your Lord eighteen hundred and thirty, in the fourth month, and on the sixth day of the month called April."

How could one be part of a group that began so late and still view it as being God's church? When Christ said to Peter that "upon this rock I will build My church" (Matt. 16:18), did He mean that it would take 1,800 years before He could do so?

The Bible plainly states that the church was purchased with the blood of Christ (Acts 20:28). Since Jesus is the Savior of the body (Eph. 5:23), and the "body" is the church (Col. 1:18), then the conclusion is obvious: One must be in the church in order to be saved.

If, however, the church was not established until 1,800 years after the death of Christ then there could have been no saved individuals during all this time: all would have been lost, outside the fold of redemption and safety.

According to the Scriptures, though, the church is simply those who have been bought by the blood of Christ; and if there is no church, it means that no one has been bought or redeemed. The Good News, however, is that there has been "power in the blood" of Christ even before Joseph Smith was ever born into this world; and by that soul-saving power, man can be saved and become a part of the family of God, the church of the Lord. Paul exhortatively declared to the Corinthian brethren that they had been "bought with a price" (1 Cor. 6:20); and, like a painter adding depth and definition, Peter lovingly brushes on his hues of red to show that this redemption price was not with "silver and gold...but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot" (1 Pet. 1:18,19). It was by this atonement that the sinner could be cleansed of his every sin, and when this occurred -- by his obedience to the gospel -- the Lord added him to the church (Acts 2:47).

Actually, the Mormons do believe, however, that there was a church prior to the one which Joseph Smith founded; and, clearly, even prior to the one which the Lord Himself established in A.D. 33. As we shall now see in the Book of Mormon, Mosiah 18:17 reads, "And they were called the church of God, or church of Christ, from that time forward.  And it came to pass that whosoever was baptized by the power and authority of God was added to his church." What helps us in seeing the error in this passage is knowing that the phrase "from that time forward," which is supposedly to indicate when God's people were first added to the church and referred to as being such, points to a time that was about one hundred years before Christ.

The errors are obvious.  How could the church have existed before the Lord even built it?

In Matthew 16:18, we saw that the Lord stated: "I will build My church." The verb phrase "will build" indicates something that had not yet happened, but would in the future.

The passage we already considered with regard to God's adding to the church (Acts 2:47) is the first reference to its existence. As was also pointed out, how could one be in the church before Jesus even died? Since the church is simply the "blood-bought throng," its origin could not have begun prior to the death of the Lord.

Also, how could one be baptized into Christ as Mosiah 18:17 spoke of, prior to the Lord's crucifixion? The apostle Paul explains that those who are "baptized into Jesus Christ" are "baptized into His death" (Rom. 6:3); and that because Christ arose from the dead, we, too, can rise up from the aqua-grave of baptism in order to walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:4). Therefore, Christ had to die and rise from the dead before we could be baptized into his death, rise to walk in newness of life, and become a part of the church.

The Mormons view their church today as the "other sheep" which Christ spoke of in John 10:16. The passage reads: "And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd." Obviously, they have misapplied this verse.

In 1823, three and a half years after Joseph Smith's alleged encounters with God the Father and God the Son, Smith testified that another heavenly messenger appeared to him in response to prayer. It was Moroni, an ancient American prophet. He was reportedly to have told Smith about the existence of a record engraved upon gold plates hidden in a hill between Palmyra and Manchester, N.Y., not far from his home (how convenient); which, according to the story, was anciently called "Cumorah" (the hill). The contents were supposedly to have contained an account, both sacred and secular, of the prophets and people who were the ancestors of some of the American Indians and who came from a colony of Israelitish origin and lived in North and South America, ca. 600 B.C. to ca. A.D. 420. It is said that the record was declared by Jesus Himself to these ancient inhabitants of America. These, then, are the ones whom Mormons see as being the "other sheep" of John 10:16. The Mormon's story continues by saying that it was Christ who then organized the church on this continent, after the pattern of the church in Jerusalem. In just this brief observation, however, we have already seen that the Mormon church is not after the pattern of the church first established in Jerusalem: many of their beliefs and practices are contrary to the word of God.

Another discrepancy we find in the Book of Mormon has reference to the name God's people wore, even before the time of Christ. In Alma 46:15, they are spoken of as being "Christians"; yet the year in which this relates is 73 B.C. The term "Christian" is only used three times in the Bible; it was never used in the Old Testament, though there is a prophecy that indicates God's people "would be called by a new name" (Isa. 62:2). As to when they were first called this, Luke records: "...And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch." It's also interesting to note that, though the church in Antioch was made up of Jews and Gentiles, they each gratefully went by the name Christian -- regardless of race or nationality.

Next week, we will consider more of the false teachings of Mormonism which are seen in contrast to the word of God.

The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation

1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17;  John 20:30,31).
2) Believe in the deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4; Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).

First published for the Tri-state church of Christ in Ashland, Kentucky, at 713 13th Street.

evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards