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Christianity TodayFebruary (Web-only) 2000

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The Mormon-Evangelical Divide
Beliefs that set Mormons apart, and evangelicals' response.



Distinctive LDS Beliefs

1. God the Father and Jesus appeared to Joseph Smith in 1820, calling him to restore the Church of Christ.

2. The Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price constitute sacred scripture, along with the Bible.

3. The Father (Elohim) is a distinct God from Jesus (the Jehovah of the Old Testament) and the Holy Ghost.

4. God the Father has a body and has a wife (the Heavenly Mother).

5. Jesus is the literal son of the Father (Elohim) and Mary. Some Mormon leaders contend that there was a sexual union between God and Mary.

6. All humans pre-existed as spirits in heaven. Mormon prophets have taught that those who were unfaithful in the spirit world were cursed to be born on earth with black skin.

7. Sacred temple ceremonies were revealed to Joseph Smith, including baptism for the dead and eternal marriage. Mormons can progress to godhood in the next world through following temple endowment rituals.

Evangelical Christian Response

1. Smith's false prophecies, occult involvement, anti-biblical theology, and polygamy ruin his credibility as apostle-prophet.

2. The Bible alone is the written Word of God. Mormon scriptures contradict clear biblical teaching and cannot be new revelation from God.

3. The triune affirmation of the unity of God in three persons remains Christian orthodoxy.

4. Jesus said in John 4 that the Father is a Spirit. The Mormon notion that God has one or more wives is absolute speculation and reflects an anthropomorphic understanding of God.

5. Matthew and Luke teach that Jesus was conceived of the Holy Spirit, and Christian tradition has never interpreted this as a sexual act.

6. The Bible nowhere implies that humans pre-exist. Mormon speculations about the curse on black people are ...



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