How to Cult Proof Your Mind – Program 4
|By: Dr. John Ankerberg; ©1998|
|Can we “become” God? What are Mormons taught about Jesus? How does their teaching compare with the Bible?|
Is Jesus Just One of Many Gods?
With Dr. John Ankerberg, Dr. Calvin Beisner, Mr. Bill Cetnar, Mrs. Joan Cetnar, Mr. Ed Decker, Dr. Walter Kaiser, Rabbi Pinchas Lapide, Mrs. Lorri MacGregor, Mr. James Mock, Mrs. Debbie Oakley, Mr. Ken Oakley, Mrs. Helen Ortega, Mrs. Mary Kay Radpour, Dr. Robert Sabin, Dr. Walter Martin, Mr. Nathaniel Urshan
- [Excerpt from Former Jehovah’s Witnesses Testify]
- Mr. Bill Cetnar: The basic reason I changed my mind was that Jehovah’s Witnesses claim to be speaking for God. The Bible says that if you are speaking for God, the prophecies that you make, the statements that you make, have to be absolutely true. They have to happen. Jehovah’s Witnesses announced the end of the world for 1874, 1879, 1881, 1914, 1918, 1925, 1975. And now they display that new disease called “loss of memory.” They can’t remember ever predicting the end of the world.”
- [Excerpt from An Interview with Dr. Walter Martin]
- Dr. John Ankerberg: “Okay, what do you do when they say, “Now, if you really want to know the truth, what you have to do is, you’ve got to go and pray about it”?
- Dr. Walter Martin: Well, you don’t have to go and pray about something God has specifically said. For instance, God said, “Thou shalt not steal.” Now, it’s ludicrous when you have an opportunity to steal something to bow your head and say, “I’ve got to pray about it.” You know automatically God said it. So when Mormons say, “Pray about the Book of Mormon,” you don’t have to pray about the Book of Mormon, all you have to do is take God’s Word, compare it to the Book of Mormon and Mormon theology and God has spoken. You reject it.
Ankerberg: Besides the major religions in our country, there are more than 3,000 cult groups, all claiming different ways to God. But Jesus said He is the only way to God. Who is right? Logically, one leader or one group could be right, but they can’t all be right at the same time if they are saying contradictory things.
If you are a Christian, do you know how to present the evidence about Jesus? Do you know how to answer people’s questions from the Bible? Is your own mind “cult-proofed” or do you have unanswered questions that cause you doubts? The Bible tells Christians, “Always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you.” [1 Pet. 3:15]
On this edition of The John Ankerberg Show, we want to help you by showing you how you can answer the questions of sincere people in the cults and skeptics who are searching for the truth. For your own peace of mind, to learn the information people desperately need to hear, we invite you to join us.
Ankerberg: Welcome. One of the serious questions many folks ask is, “Are Mormons Christians?” It’s interesting that a newspaper article quoted former President Jimmy Carter as saying he thought Mormons should be considered part of the Christian community; and further he thought it was wrong for Christians to imply that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a non-Christian cult. This is the perception of many people, even some Christian leaders. What do you think? Do Mormons believe in the same God as Christians do? Do Mormons believe that a person is saved by putting faith alone in Christ, nothing else? Well, to answer these questions, I’d like to go back to a program that we taped with Mr. Ed Decker, a man who was a Mormon for twenty years, was married in the Mormon temple, and ultimately came to realize the doctrines and beliefs of Mormonism were different from biblical Christianity. You’ll also hear excerpts from a film documenting Mormon beliefs and featuring Mormon leaders. I’d like you to listen:
- [Excerpt from Mormonism Revisited]
- Ankerberg: Ed, we’re glad that you are here tonight.
- Mr. Ed Decker: I’m glad to be here also.
- Ankerberg: You opened with this film in Salt Lake City, is that correct?
- Decker: That’s right.
- Ankerberg: And I think without too much further delay, let’s go right to the first segment. We’re just taking bits and pieces, but I think the film will explain itself. It’s called The God Makers. It’s a documentary on Mormonism and then we will come back.
- [Excerpt from The God Makers]
- Narrator: Salt Lake City, Utah, Mecca of Mormonism, one of the wealthiest and fastest growing religions with over 5 million members (in 2008 they claim over 13 million members) worldwide. To the outside world, the Mormon Church presents a carefully groomed Osmond family image. With an emphasis on family togetherness, an inspiring history and high moral standards, the Mormon Church, also known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or LDS, turns out tens of thousands of missionaries a year whose goals are to spread Mormonism around the world. Most of them are trained here at Brigham Young University, also known as BYU. To most of us, Mormons appear to be real Christians who live their faith. Dr. Harold Goodman, BYU professor, former Mormon bishop, currently a LDS mission president:
- Goodman: Well, the church encourages the family to be as self-sustaining as possible in their activities starting with the family home evening where the father, who is the patriarch of the family, would gather his family together and there they would have a prayer, an opening song or two….
- Children: I looked out the window and what did I see? Popcorn popping on the apricot tree.
- Grant: We are very much a family-centered church because we believe that strong families make for a strong nation and strong nations make for a strong world.
- Goodman: The Mormon Church has had a phenomenal growth. In the next 50 years it will be approximated about 70 million people to 100 million people. There are many reasons why this is so. One is the vast missionary program we have over the world, approximately right now 28,000 missionaries and 186 missions.
- Narrator: Many of the social events as well as regular church services are held in the chapels which are being built at the rate of two per day around the world. However, the few dozen Mormon Temples serve a completely different purpose. No church services are held here, only secret ceremonies which are reserved for an elite few.
- Goodman: The goal of every Latter-day Saint is to be married as a family unit in the house of the Lord and there receive the sacred blessings that will allow us eventually, if we are worthy, to dwell and be in the presence of our heavenly Father.
- Grant: Not all members of the church go to the Temple. That may be something that would surprise you. But to gain admission to the Temple, one has to have what is called a “Temple Recommend.”
- Goodman: He has to receive a satisfactory interview from his bishop and from his Stake President. There he is asked or she is asked certain rather penetrating questions about their worthiness or morality and if he is a full tithe payer. That is the only way that we can be with our heavenly Father. Otherwise, we could not be in his presence.
- Narrator: By going through the Temple and by adhering to various regulations – such as abstaining from tea or coffee, paying a substantial portion of your income to the Mormon Church, and giving free labor to various church-run organizations – the worthy Mormon can become a god himself in the life hereafter, ruling over his own planet with a number of goddess wives.
- Goodman: So you can see why the Temple is so important to the Latter-day Saint; because if he is worthy to go on to the Temple and there receive the sacred ordinances and covenants and keep them, he can eventually grow into becoming a god himself.
- Ankerberg: Ed, what I want to ask you is: Many of us that are not Mormon, we look at that and we say, “Is that what you actually believed? That you can actually, as a man, become a god?” Where do you find that in the Mormon scriptures?
- Decker: Well, I believed it for 19 years of my life and I put together a few references that deal with becoming gods. I think, first, we have to realize that they believe there are many gods. Bruce R. McConkie in Mormon Doctrine says, “Further, as the prophet also taught there is a God above the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” God, the Father of Jesus, had a father. That’s in his book, Mormon Doctrine. In the beginning the head of the gods called a council of the gods and there to plan the creation of this world. That’s what Joseph Smith told us in the History of the Church. “In all congregations when I have preached on the subject of the deity, it has been the plurality of gods,” Joseph Smith, again in the History of the Church.
- Ankerberg: Okay. So they believe in many gods and yet at the same time, they call it “Christian.” Why is it that they call that “Christian”?
- Decker: Well, they believe that is the Christian doctrine. They believe, of course, that they have a prophet at the head of their church that gives them direction and the correct teachings, and that the teachings of the Protestant and the Christian churches have been corrupted. So, we have to have new revelation, new information. Again, we realize that according to the Word of God that there is only one God. If we read in Isaiah 43:10, we find out that there was no God before Him. There is no God after Him, and Isaiah says that there is no God on either side of God. Yet, I believed for many years that I could actually become a god even as God is a God.
- Ankerberg: For folks to get an idea of the complete theology of Mormonism, we have an animation here that we are going to show them. And possibly there is one part in here that we need to announce ahead of time and that’s for Mormons that might be just new in their faith and have not heard some of the things that are going to be in this animation, such as what?
- Decker: Jesus and Lucifer being brothers.
- Ankerberg: Okay. What else?
- Decker: And the fact that we are dealing with a God above us who used to be a man, that He lived on an earth just like we did.
- Ankerberg: Okay. What else?
- Decker: Jesus or God having many wives is another area that….
- Ankerberg: Okay. Document the last one.
- Decker: God having many wives: we have a “Mrs. God,” of course. In the Heaven where our spirits were born there are many gods, each of whom has his own wife or wives.
- Ankerberg: Who said that?
- Decker: This was said by Orson Pratt in The Seer, page 37. “The doctrine that there is a mother in heaven was affirmed in all plainness by the first presidency of the Church,” says Bruce R. McConkie. And in the Mormon Church we sang a song about our heavenly mother.
- Ankerberg: We’ll tell a little bit as we go along why at first you might not have heard that as a Mormon, but later on in your development as a Mormon in your faith where you were told about some of these other things. But let’s, first of all, just say that it can be documented, everything that they are going to hear.
- Decker: Every single thing that we speak about tonight is documented.
- [Excerpt from The God Makers]
- Narrator: Floyd McElveen, author of the best seller, The Mormon Illusion:
- Mr. Floyd McElveen: They believe that God eternally progressed. That once he was a man and he became God. From that comes their doctrine that all can progress to be gods. For instance, in the Articles of Faith they have this by Talmadge that, “As man is, God once was. As God is, man may become.” So their whole doctrine flows from this about becoming gods.
- 3rd participant: Again, you have to understand the peculiar belief evolving around the Mormon Temple marriage. They believe that their godhood is tied to eternal exaltation through the marriage and through the family unit.
- Woman’s Voice: The Mormon Church teaches that in order for me to become a goddess, I needed to marry a Mormon man in good standing with the church. Without a husband that could take me through the Temple, I wouldn’t be able to go to heaven and be with my heavenly Father.
- Narrator: According to Mormon theology, husbands and wives who have successfully achieved godhood will be required to populate their own planet by procreating as many spirit children as possible.
- Woman’s Voice: Ever since I was a little girl, I was taught that my primary purpose was to become a goddess in heaven so that I could multiply an earth. And I wanted that. I wanted to be eternally pregnant and look down on earth and say, “That’s mine. I populated that whole earth and all those little babies I had.”
- Narrator: Mormonism teaches that trillions of planets scattered throughout the cosmos are ruled by countless gods who once were human like us. They say that long ago on one of these planets to an unidentified god and one of his goddess wives a spirit-child named Elohim was conceived. This spirit-child was later born to human parents who gave him a physical body. Through obedience to Mormon teaching and death and resurrection, he proved himself worthy and was elevated to godhood, as his father before him. Mormons believe that Elohim is their heavenly Father and that he lives with his many goddess wives on a planet near a mysterious star called Kolob. Here, the god of Mormonism and his wives, through endless celestial sex, produced billions of spirit-children.
- To decide their destiny, the head of the Mormon gods called a great heavenly council meeting. Both of Elohim’s elder sons were there: Lucifer and his brother, Jesus. A plan was presented to build planet earth, where the spirit children would be sent to take on mortal bodies and learn good from evil. Lucifer stood and made his bid for becoming savior of this new world. Wanting the glory for himself, he planned to force everyone to become gods. Opposing the idea, the Mormon Jesus suggested giving man his freedom of choice as on other planets. The vote that followed approved the proposal of the Mormon Jesus who would become savior of the planet earth. Enraged, Lucifer cunningly convinced one third of the spirits destined for earth to fight with him and revolt. Thus, Lucifer became the devil and his followers the demons. Early Mormon prophets taught that Elohim and one of his goddess wives came to earth as Adam and Eve to start the human race.
- Thousands of years later Elohim in human form once again journeyed to earth from the star base Kolob, this time to have sex with the Virgin Mary in order to provide Jesus with a physical body. Mormon Apostle Orson Pratt taught that after Jesus Christ grew to manhood, He took at least three wives: Mary, Martha and Mary Magdalene. Through these wives, the Mormon Jesus, for whom Joseph Smith claimed direct descent, supposedly fathered a number of children before he was crucified. According to the Book of Mormon, after his resurrection Jesus came to the Americas to preach to the Indians who the Mormons believe are really Israelites. Thus, the Jesus of Mormonism established his church in the Americas as he had in Palestine.
- By the year 421 A.D. the dark-skinned Indian Israelites, known as Lamanites, had destroyed all of the white Nephites in a number of great battles. The Nephites’ records were supposedly written on golden plates and buried by Moroni, the last living Nephite in the Hill Cumorah.
- Fourteen hundred years later, a young treasure seeker named Joseph Smith, who was known for his tall tales, claimed to have uncovered these same gold plates near his home in upstate New York. He is now honored by Mormons as a prophet because he claimed to have had visions from the spirit world in which he was commanded to organize the Mormon Church because all Christian creeds were an abomination. It was Joseph Smith who originated most of these peculiar doctrines which millions today believe to be true.
- By maintaining a rigid code of financial and moral requirements and through performing secret Temple rituals for themselves and the dead, the Latter-day Saints hope to prove their worthiness and thus become gods. The Mormons teach that everyone must stand at the final judgment before Joseph Smith, the Mormon Jesus and Elohim. Those Mormons who were sealed in the eternal marriage ceremony expect to become polygamous gods in the celestial kingdom, rule over other planets and spawn new families throughout eternity. The Mormons thank God for Joseph Smith who claimed that he had done more for us than any other man, including Jesus Christ. The Mormons believe that he died as a martyr, shed his blood for us so that we too may become gods.
- Ankerberg: Alright, Ed, you not only believed that for 20 years but you actually taught it. What I would like to know is, what changed your mind? What was the evidence?
- Decker: Well, I dealt with the Jesus in Mormonism who was my elder brother. He was a Jesus that was one of the sons of God. He was a son of God. And when people began to challenge me, Christian friends began to tell me that there was a different Jesus, that there was a Jesus who was God the Son, eternally God, and that He died on Calvary for me and my sins, I had to wrestle with it. I had to deal with it and it was a struggle to get into the Word and to let the Word of God show me that Jesus really was God the Son. And the discovery that even though I believed that He suffered for me in Gethsemane and there unconditionally paid for my sins, I found out that He took all the laws and ordinances that were against me, as you read about it in Colossians 2:14, and He moved them out of the way and He nailed them to the cross. I had to keep coming back to two things: the blood of Christ shed for me and the cross of Calvary. They wouldn’t let me go. I had to keep coming back to it.
- In Mormonism we don’t deal with it. We don’t have crosses. We take our communion with Wonder Bread and water. We don’t deal with the blood and we can’t deal with the cross.
- Ankerberg: Actually they don’t really believe what Christ did on the cross covers their sin. It just takes care of Adam’s…
- Decker: It gives me physical resurrection only, so that I may be judged for my works.
- Ankerberg: And then they believe that you can work out your own salvation?
- Decker: Then, depending upon what I did at the Temple, then it determines whether or not I receive celestial exaltation and receive my many wives and go out into godhood.
- Ankerberg: Is there any one verse that kind of stands out in your mind now that maybe a Mormon that is listening in would look up?
- Decker: I think that perhaps Colossians 1:21-22 is one that I had to deal with so much. It says that, I, Ed Decker, who was sometimes apart from God because of my wicked mind and wicked life, I am now holy and unreprovable before God, not because of what I have done, but because of the bloodshed at Calvary’s hill.
Ankerberg: So let’s summarize. As much as we may like to, is it honest for us to say Mormons are Christians? Anyone who will take the time to examine the evidence will realize Mormonism is a completely different religion from Christianity. Again, the truth or falsity of a statement concerning whether or not a person is a Christian is governed by what Christ taught and what the Word of God says. The Bible says there is only one God. Mormonism denies that and says there are many gods. The Bible says men are sinners who, through Christ, can be forgiven and enter Heaven someday. Mormonism says every man can not only go to Heaven, but become another God himself. The Bible says that Christ is God who took on human flesh at the incarnation. Mormonism says Christ was only a man who later became one of many gods. The Bible says salvation is by grace alone as a result of Jesus having paid for our sins while on the cross. Mormonism destroys the Gospel by adding human works to grace, in spite of the apostle Paul’s adamant statement that works added to grace to gain salvation is another Gospel.
In conclusion, God’s forgiveness and His power to change your life can be yours the moment you admit to God you are a sinner, ask Him to forgive you, and put your trust completely in Christ to save you. Why not tell Him that right now? Now I hope that you will join me next week when we will answer the questions: “Does it matter what you believe in as long as you are sincere? And wasn’t Jesus Christ just one of many wonderful messengers God sent into the world like Buddha, Zoroaster, Confucius and Muhammad?” I hope that you’ll join me.