This comes from Catholic Answers:
Q: “Why doesn’t the Catholic Church accept Mormon baptism?”
A: “The Catholic Church does not recognize Mormon baptism as valid because, although Mormons and Catholics use the same words, those words have completely unrelated meanings for each religion. The Mormon’s very concept of God is infinitely different from that of Christians—even though they call themselves the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
Mormons believe that God is only one of many gods who were once men and that each of us in turn can become what God is now. This process of men becoming gods is said to go back infinitely. But of course none of these gods can be infinite if they are multiple and had a beginning and are actually human beings. In Mormons’ view, both Jesus and the Father are what we would call glorified creatures.
They also believe that Jesus came into existence after the Father, and that the Father and the Son are not one in being. Thus, although they use the phrase “the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,” in their usage this phrase takes on a meaning that is actually polytheistic and pagan rather than trinitarian.
For an in-depth look at this, see the books Inside Mormonism and When Mormons Call by Isaiah Bennett, available from Catholic Answers. For a shorter but equally incisive take, see Fr. Brian Harrison’s two-part series on Mormonism in the April and May-June 2003 issues of This Rock.”
Q: “What does the Catholic Church say about the practices and beliefs of Mormonism?”
A: “While individual Mormons may be persons of good conscience, Mormonism itself is a belief system that would reduce the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit from being the three Persons of the one, true, and infinite God to being three limited, finite deities among an uncounted multitude of deities, all of whom merely reshaped small parts of a preexisting cosmos.
Mormonism teaches that human beings may, by practicing the tenets of its faith, become gods and goddesses themselves, with their own planets full of people worshiping them.
While the Catholic Church would reject nothing that is true or good in Mormonism or any other world religion, Catholic theology would have to note that there is a tremendous amount in Mormonism that is neither true nor good. Further, because Mormonism presents itself as a form of Christianity yet is incompatible with the historic Christian faith, sound pastoral practice would need to warn the Christian faithful: Mormon theology is blasphemous, polytheistic, and cannot be considered on par with the theology of other Christian groups.”
Q: “Your articles on Mormonism frequently mention the book Doctrine and Covenants. What is it?”
A: “Doctrine and Covenants, to quote its explanatory introduction, purports to be “a collection of divine revelations and inspired declarations given for the establishment and regulation of the kingdom of God on earth in the last days.”
The introduction goes on to say,
Although most of the sections are directed to members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the messages, warnings, and exhortations are for the benefit of all mankind, and contain an invitation to all people everywhere to hear the voice of the Lord . . . speaking to them for their temporal well-being and their everlasting salvation. The book of Doctrine and Covenants is one of the standard works of the Church in company with the Holy Bible, the Book of Mormon, and the Pearl of Great Price.
That’s what the Mormon Church claims it is. In reality, Doctrine and Covenants is a compilation of messages from Joseph Smith designed to bolster his image as a prophet. Although he claimed to be receiving direct revelations from God, these “revelations” often contradicted others given in the Book of Mormon and elsewhere. They were simply a convenient way for Smith to get the things he wanted (such as many wives—see Doctrine and Covenants section 132:1–62) without argument or interference. After all, who would want to argue with God?”
Q: “I heard that the current Mormon “prophet” gave an interview in which he waffled on the key teaching of Mormonism—that men can become gods. Is this true?”
A: “Yes, it is. Shortly after Easter 1997, the San Francisco Chronicle printed an interview with Gordon B. Hinckley, who has been the president and “prophet” of the Mormon church since 1995.
In the interview, he was asked: “[D]on’t Mormons believe that God was once a man?”
“I wouldn’t say that,” the prophet responded. “There’s a little couplet coined, ‘As man is, God once was. As God is, man may become.’ Now, that’s more of a couplet than anything else. That gets into some pretty deep theology that we don’t know very much about” (“Musings of the Main Mormon,” April 13, 1997, 3/Z1).
There’s something wrong here, as even Latter-day Saints admit. Hinckley appeared to dismiss the traditional Mormon belief that God was once a man by using the demeaning terms “little,” “couplet,” and “coined.” What he failed to point out was that the couplet, coined in the late 19th century by previous Mormon president and prophet Lorenzo Snow, was a succinct summary of the doctrine taught by Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and the founding theologians of Mormonism (see Doctrine and Covenants 130:22).
When asked how he receives divine revelation, to which he is supposedly entitled as God’s prophet on earth, Hinckley said, “[W]e have a great body of revelation, the vast majority of which came from the prophet Joseph Smith. We don’t need much revelation. We need to pay more attention to the revelation we’ve already received.”
Discussing abortion, Hinckley said his church permits it in several circumstances, including for the mother’s health. This is a change to a more liberal, politically correct position than what Mormonism has held to this point.
When asked about euthanasia, Hinckley declared that “no, at this point at least, we haven’t favored that” (emphasis added). Mormons may well wonder if this leaves the door cracked open to future divine permission to kill their sick and elderly.
Ultimately, the past doctrinal transformations of Mormonism give no confidence that there will not be equally drastic revisions to Mormon doctrine in the future. There may be more stages yet to come as Mormonism reinvents itself to fit the culture around it.”
Q: “I have a Mormon colleague who does not drink Coke or other soft drinks. He said his religion forbids it. Is this true?”
A: “Yes, by a circuitous route Mormonism has ended up forbidding all caffeinated drinks to its members, including the popular soft drinks.
On February 27, 1833, Joseph Smith reported a revelation known as “the Word of Wisdom,” which is now enshrined in Mormon scripture as Doctrine and Covenants 89.
The elders of the early Mormon Church used to meet in a room over Joseph and Emma Smith’s house in Kirtland, Ohio. After a good deal of pipe-smoking, they would take large chews of tobacco and spit all over the floor. Smith’s wife was none too pleased with having to clean up the mess, and Smith quieted her by “inquiring of the Lord” (see Brigham Young; Journal of Discourses 12:157-158).
The resulting “revelation” allegedly was given “not by commandment or constraint,” but as advice or counsel that henceforth members should not use tobacco, alcohol, or “hot drinks,” interpreted as coffee and tea. Later prophets deemed this to refer also to cold coffee or tea and eventually extended to cover caffeinated colas as well.
Grains and vegetables were especially commended. According to the Word of Wisdom, meat was to be eaten sparingly, and then only in winter and times of famine. The “revelation” promised that those who followed it would “find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge.”
Mormons tout the Word of Wisdom as a case of God protecting them from health problems stemming from alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine (all of which were already under attack for health reasons in 19th-century America). Yet the Mormon God was apparently not farsighted enough to inform his followers of the dangers of salt, fat, and cholesterol.
At first the “Word of Wisdom” was presented only as advice, not as having the force of law. But the “advice” from God soon took on the status of a commandment.
Observance of the Word of Wisdom was sporadic, even by Smith and other early leaders. By 1930, however, it had become more rigorously enforced. It is now enjoined “by . . . constraint” and not merely as advice. Prior to a candidate’s baptism, he is interviewed by a senior missionary who asks him questions, including about his compliance with the Word of Wisdom. For example, has he refrained from all alcohol, tobacco, coffee, and tea? For decades now members have been asked in their yearly interviews with church authorities if they keep the Word of Wisdom. Failure to do so—except for the meat prohibition, which has silently fallen through the cracks—bars one from attending the temple and from church leadership positions.
In the Mormon view, this has grave consequences, for unless a Mormon does his “temple work” he is unable in the next life to achieve godhood. Joseph Smith may have been able to use alcohol, tobacco, and coffee, even after the “giving” of the Word of Wisdom, but no Mormon today can, on pain of becoming a second-class citizen in theafterlife.
Of course, the Mormon prohibition on certain foods is in marked contrast to the biblical and Christian view. While Paul does urge moderation (Phil 4:5), and while periodic abstinence from foods can be a healthy spiritual discipline (Dn 10:2-3), the Bible stands fast in maintaining that all foods are to be received with thanksgiving: “For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving” (1 Tm 4:4). Specifically, as a matter of Christian liberty, Paul commands us not to have food laws imposed on us on religious grounds: “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink” (Col 2:16). This includes even alcohol, so long as moderation is observed. Rather than condemn the consumption of alcohol, for example, the Bible clearly permits and even advises it (1 Tm 3:8, 5:23; Ti 2:3; 1 Pt 4:3; also Dt 14:24-26; Prv 31:6-7).”
Q: “A Mormon missionary has been trying to argue for the Book of Mormon by discussing “the stick of Joseph” and “the stick of Judah.” What on earth is he talking about?”
A: “He’s referring to a verse in Ezekiel. The passage reads:
The word of the Lord came again unto me, saying, Moreover, thou son of man, take thee one stick, and write upon it, For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions: Then take another stick, and write upon it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions: And join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand. (Ez 37:15-17, KJV)
This is one of several passages Mormons try to conscript to prove the Bible spoke of another inspired work of scripture that was to be brought forth in the “latter days.”
Mormons rely greatly on the Ezekiel passage as a proof text to demonstrate not only the possibility of divine scripture aside from the Bible, but also the Book of Mormon’s doctrinal equality with it. They assume that the “stick of Judah” is the Bible, while the “stick of Joseph” is the Book of Mormon. In these, the latter days, the two have been joined together, forming the bulk of Mormon scripture.
Mormonism’s professed literal interpretation of Scripture does not extend to hundreds of passages it rejects as corrupted or that it skews to suit its own purposes. In the case of Ezekiel 37, Mormons not only neglect the plain sense of the words but also ignore their true interpretation, given by God—in the very same chapter.
First, the Hebrew term translated as “stick” (aits) is never used anywhere in the Old Testament to mean “book,” “scroll,” “writing” or anything similar. It is variously translated as “wood” or “branch,” “timber,” or “tree.” Needless to say, the Book of Mormon was allegedly written on metal plates, not scrolls or sticks.
Second, the correct interpretation of this symbolic action of the prophet is given just a few verses later. Ezekiel is to take the two sticks, put them end to end and hold the joined ends in his hand. He thus displays to the people a “single” stick, once again united. This is to show that the scattered remnants of the Southern kingdom (“Judah”) and Northern kingdom of Israel (“Joseph”) will be returned from exile, restored to their land, and made one nation again. “They shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all” (Ez 37:22).
With divine impetus, Ezekiel first spoke this parable of redemption then enacted it. Only Mormonism can manage to mistake “timber” for “scrolls” and “nations” for “metal plates.”
Take a look at the passage in a more modern translation:
The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, take a stick and write on it, ‘For Judah, and the children of Israel associated with him,’ then take another stick and write upon it, ‘For Joseph (the stick of Ephraim) and all the house of Israel associated with him,’ and join them together into one stick. . . . Behold, I am about to take the stick of Joseph (which is in the hand of Ephraim) and the tribes of Israel associated with him; and I will join with it the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, that they may be one in my hand. . . . I will take the people of Israel from the nations among which they have gone, and will gather them from all sides, and bring them to their own land; and I will make them one nation in the land, upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king over them all; and they shall be no longer two nations, and no longer divided into two kingdoms.” (Ez 37:15-22, RSV)
As the text makes clear, this is a prophecy of national reunification, not about the appearance of hidden scriptures.”
Q: “On those Mormon TV commercials, they say Jesus spoke of having “other sheep” and that this somehow supports the Mormon church. What are they talking about and what is the real story?”
A: “They’re quoting from John 10:16, where Jesus says, “And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.”
Mormons claim that these words of Christ were fulfilled when, after his death and resurrection, he visited the Americas to establish a church among the “Nephites.” These “lost sheep” were supposedly the descendants of Hebrews who had fled Jerusalem and journeyed to America at the time of Jeremiah. The Book of Mormon purports to be the religious and historical records of these ancient “Christians” (as the Book of Mormon records they called themselves, even before the coming of Jesus), written and preserved by American counterparts of Hebrew prophets.
Under the rubric, “God is no respecter of persons” (Acts 10:34), the Mormon church finds its rationale for the above interpretation and argues that God deals fairly with all his children. Since Christ was sent to Palestine to teach and establish a church among the Jews there, it was only right that he come also to the Americas and establish a church there as well. As so often is the case with Mormon arguments, if they prove anything, they prove too much. The “God is no respecter of persons” principle, both in Acts 10 and elsewhere (Rom 2:11), is applied in a specifically Jewish-Gentile context, showing that God treats all groups fairly. Thus a Mormon could not limit the “no respecter of persons” principle to just those who are members of the house of Israel (Old World or New World Israel). It includes all men, everywhere. If, because of this principle, he had to come to North America and start a church to be fair to the people there, then he would have to visit every continent, and all the peoples on those continents, and start new, independent churches everywhere, in order to show that he is no respecter of persons.
The logical alternative is to say that God shows his grace by starting a single, unified church—somewhere—and that this church is to receive all men, Jew and Gentile. By having a single church, when it expands, men will have no doubt about which one they are to join. Until the time that this church reaches them, they will be judged based on whatever knowledge of God they have—however much or little that may be—and their willingness to follow his truth if they had known what it was.
In reality, the “other sheep” Jesus mentions are the righteous Gentiles, who did not belong to the “fold” of God’s chosen people, Israel, but who would respond to the gospel when preached to them. While Christ’s earthly ministry served the Jewish people almost exclusively, his great commission to the apostles before his ascension sent them into all the world to preach, baptize and thus unite his believers in one fold (Mt 27:19). Because “he that heareth you heareth me” (Lk 10:16), to hear the gospel from the lips of his disciples is to hear Jesus himself.
The understanding of the “other sheep” as the Gentiles who would come to believe in Christ is the natural understanding of the passage. Mormons sometimes ask Christians, “If the ‘other sheep’ weren’t in the New World then who were they?”
A Christian often will be perplexed at the fact the question was asked at all and respond, “Well, they’re the Gentile Christians, of course. How could anyone think the text suggests otherwise?” The New Testament has a running theme of how salvation comes from the Jews to the Gentiles. It appears across multiple books, in all of the gospels and most of the epistles. Jesus’ statement about gathering other sheep in the future is simply one more instance of the gospels dealing with this theme.
The fact that Mormons often do not spot the obvious, face-value interpretation of the text reveals how little Mormons have been exposed to the historic understanding of the passage and how little they have been encouraged to think through its rationale. They have not tried to understand the New Testament as a whole, integrating and understanding its individual passages with other passages and with the general historical backdrop. Instead, they have had the interpretations of certain alleged proof texts force-fed to them in a way that keeps them from knowing of the existence of other, more plausible interpretations.”
Q: “Mormon missionaries have been bugging me to read their Book of Mormon. I don’t plan to do so since it is false scripture, but I would like to know what the book is about when I talk to them. Can you give me an overview?”
A: “The Book of Mormon comprises 15 books, each allegedly written by an ancient American prophet. It professes to be a religious and secular history of Hebrews who fled Jerusalem and certain persecution in 600 B.C. Lehi, an alleged prophet and contemporary of Jeremiah, led his wife, children, and their spouses through the Arabian wilderness to the shores of “the large waters.”
After much hardship and contention, the righteous son Nephi built a ship and the company sailed to a new “promised land,” but not before having obtained a collection of brass plates on which was recorded not only the Pentateuch (or first five books of the Old Testament) but also a record of the Jews from the beginning down to that day. All the while, Nephi had been making metal plates of his own and engraving on them a record of his family’s labors.
Upon arriving in the Western Hemisphere, and after the death of Lehi, Nephi’s brothers Laman and Lemuel rebelled against Nephi, forcing him and his followers to separate from them. Because of their unbelief, the Lamanites (as the followers of Laman andLemuel were called) were cursed with a “skin of blackness”—which here means a darker, American Indian skin tone, not a Negro complexion—and became persecutors of the Nephites. At Nephi’s death in the mid-sixth century B.C., his younger brother Jacob took up the story and the plates. Several other alleged prophets followed Jacob, maintaining written records of the Nephites or “American Hebrews.”
Throughout these centuries, and reflecting the same theme sketched for Israel by Old Testament authors, the Nephites enjoyed periods of material prosperity when they followed the Lord’s voice and languished in misery when they didn’t. Much of the book is a dull, repetitive recording of bloody battles waged between Nephites and Lamanites.
Evil kings, corrupt judges, “secret combinations” (or “gangs” of robbers), persecution of the righteous, their subsequent apostasy and restoration, massive genocide—this is the stuff of the Book of Mormon. There are occasional discourses on religion, most of which remind the reader of the words of Old Testament prophets, the Sermon on the Mount, or the teachings of St. Paul, despite the chronological problems this poses.
Towards the end of the Nephite-Lamanite record we find inserted, out of chronological sequence, the “Book of Ether.” These 15 chapters are said to be the record of yet another group of Hebrew émigrés, these dispersed at the Tower of Babel. Following the “brother of Jared,” who had had a vision of the “spirit body” of Jesus Christ, these righteous ones built barges and sailed for the promised land of America.
The “Jaredites” soon split into factions, warring with one another throughout a succession of kings, prophets, murder, and intrigue. Some of their prophets predicted the coming forth of the Book of Mormon and the establishing in America of the New Jerusalem.
The forces of good and evil ultimately arrayed themselves in a final battle. Millions were killed; indeed, every single Jaredite but one was slain. The prophet Ether recorded the devastation on twenty-four metal plates that were later discovered by Nephites and appended to their own writings.
Without doubt, the high point of the Book of Mormon is recorded in Third Nephi. This book allegedly covers the period from A.D. 1-35. Raids, murders, government upheavals, tempests, earthquakes, and fires allegedly preceded the appearance of Jesus Christ on the American continent. According to Mormonism, Jesus Christ showed himself to the people of America in the year 34 and established a second church, paralleling the one in the Old World.
The Book of Mormon story ends early in the fifth century. By the fourth century war and carnage had consumed both the faithful Nephites and the reprobate Lamanites. After gathering hundreds of thousands of warriors to the Hill Cumorah (located in New York state), the Nephites were utterly massacred by the sword by an even greater army of “dark and filthy” Lamanites (Mormon 5:15; Mormons frequently identify contemporary Native Americans as descendants of these Lamanites).
The only survivor was Moroni, the son of the Nephite prophet Mormon, from whom the book takes its name. To him his father had entrusted the centuries-old records of God’s American prophets, to which Moroni himself added a few concluding chapters. Before dying in 421, Moroni allegedly placed the gold plates in a stone and cement box and buried it in a hillside near present-day Palmyra, east of Rochester, New York.
In Joseph Smith’s day, several burning theological issues occupied the attention of scholar and layman alike: the nature of religious authority and priesthood; the necessity of baptism; the validity of infant baptism; the administration of the flesh and blood of Christ. Smith found the 13 pages of the book of Moroni that just “happened” to resolve the theological disputes of the day.”
Q: “I heard that the Mormon church teaches racist views, but a Mormon I know told me that this isn’t true. What’s the story?”
A: “Like many people of his period, Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, harbored racist views. New York, where he grew up, was still a slave state at that time. In an environment where Negro slavery was tolerated, it was easy for Smith to look down on black people, and his disdain for them was incorporated as doctrine into the Mormon scriptures he allegedly translated.
For example, many passages in the Book of Mormon speak of dark skin as a curse for sins, as opposed to the “white and delightsome” appearance of the righteous (2 Nephi 30:6, cf. 1 Nephi 12:23, 13:15, 2 Nephi 5:21, Jacob 3:8-9, 3 Nephi 2:14-15, Moses 7:8, 12, 22). A passage in the “Book of Abraham” (1:26–27), that spoke of the Egyptian pharaohs as having Negro ancestry, thereby disqualifying them from God’s priesthood, was used by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to deny the Mormon priesthood and temple privileges to anyone with any amount of Negro ancestry.
These passages in Mormon scripture served as the basis for every Mormon prophet since Smith to teach that blacks were cursed for their supposed sins before earthly birth. Brigham Young, Smith’s successor, also underscored the racist stand of Mormonism: “Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the African race? If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot. This will always be so” (Journal of Discourses 10:109).
Throughout the civil rights movement in the 1950s and’60s, Mormon apostles continued to teach the LDS doctrine on people with African ancestry and other persons of color. Mark E. Petersen asserted that people are born black because of their inadequate performance in the pre-existence.
Bruce R. McConkie maintained “Negroes are not equal with other races” in spiritual matters and that this is God’s law, not man’s. The future prophet Spencer W. Kimball claimed that in just 15 years from the time of their conversion he had seen Indian people who accepted the Mormon gospel become “white and delightsome.”
But the civil rights movement had its effect the LDS Church. Black leaders urged boycotts of the state of Utah and all Mormon Tabernacle Choir products. The NAACP brought discrimination charges against the Utah Boy Scouts for prohibiting a black member from assuming a senior patrol position. College athletes refused to play Brigham Young University teams. Groups protested at the church’s twice-yearly general conferences in Salt Lake City.
Mormon leadership finally acknowledged that many, perhaps most, of the converts to the Church in Brazil had some degree of black ancestry. While their donations helped build the São Paulo Temple, they were not permitted to attend it.
By 1978, increased social repudiation of racism, coupled with Mormon evangelization in areas with large populations of racially mixed ancestry, led to one of the most drastic reversals in Mormon belief and practice: Those with Negro blood were allowed to attend the temple, and worthy black men could also hold the priesthood.
Dated June 8, 1978, and released the following day, President Kimball’s “Official Declaration—2” (as it is now called in the Mormon scripture Doctrine and Covenants) came after “extended meditation and prayer in the sacred rooms of the holy temple.” He presented the changed doctrine to his counselors, the Twelve Apostles, and other leaders, who approved it unanimously. The day has come, he said, when the Lord now grants to “every faithful, worthy man in the Church . . . the holy priesthood . . . [and] the blessings of the temple.” The declaration was presented to the general membership and ratified pro forma on September 30, 1978.
Though this opening of the priesthood to all races moved the Mormon Church into a less racist position regarding its practice, Mormon teaching remained unaltered. The new “revelation” did not change the previous Mormon teaching that people are born black because of their sins in the pre-existence.”
Q: “Why are religious groups such as Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses called “cults,” while other groups, such as Fundamentalists and Calvinists, are not? Don’t all of these groups teach cultic doctrines?”
A: “The word “cult” has fallen on hard times. Used authentically, it refers to a grouping of people for some religious purpose; it can also refer to specific ceremonial, liturgical, and prayer activities carried out within a particular group. Vatican II, for example, refers to the “cult of the saints,” meaning the honor and devotion Christians show to Christians who are now reigning with Christ in heaven. Used this way, “cult” carries no pejorative connotations.
In the last few decades an unfortunate phenomenon has sprung up, primarily among Evangelical Protestants who have appropriated the word and used it to categorize religious groups with whom they disagree. Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses have become “cultists,” and their religions are branded as “cults.” In popular jargon “cult” implies more than just a religion with odd tenets. It carries the implication that the group has a hidden agenda, uses deception and mind control techniques to keep its members in line, and may be satanic in origin. Calling someone a “cultist” has become a handy stick with which to beat members of minority religions. Some Fundamentalists call the Catholic Church a cult.
Of course, some religions are cults, but it’s a matter of prudence whether to trumpet that fact. If you want to evangelize adherents to such religions, you must avoid approaches that will alienate them. Be firm but charitable. Don’t throw around the terms “cult” and “cultist.” With a little restraint you’ll more likely get your message across. If you start by telling a non-Catholic that he’s a member of a cult (even if he is), it’s unlikely that he’ll listen to anything you have to say.”
Q: “Who are the “other sheep” Jesus mentions in John 10:16? In a TV ad the Mormons say that verse refers to Jews who allegedly migrated to South America around 600 B.C.”
A: “Jesus said, “And I have other sheep, that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will heed my voice. So there shall be one flock, one shepherd.” Most Catholic biblical scholars, following the teaching of the early Church Fathers, agree that the “other sheep” are the Gentiles, to whom the gospel was sent after the Jews rejected Christ (Rom 11:11-12).
During his public ministry Jesus confined his proclamation of the gospel to the Jews (Mt 10:5-6, 15:24), and initially this remained the focus of the apostles’ preaching, although Jesus had foretold that the gospel would eventually be carried to “all nations” (Mt 28:19, Acts 1:8). This opening up of God’s blessing even to Gentiles was foretold in the Old Testament (Ps 2:7; Is 2:2-6).
Paul explained this to Gentile Christians:
Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called the uncircumcision by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands—remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near in the blood of Christ. (Eph 2:11-13; cf. Rom 3:22; Gal 3:27-28)”
Q: “Last year I left the Mormon church and became a Catholic. I want to bolster my faith with more knowledge, especially on the subject of the nature of God so I can do a better job of explaining this to my Mormon family members. They constantly challenge my Catholic beliefs, especially that there is only one God. What do you recommend?”
A: “Start with Frank Sheed’s Theology and Sanity, which contains a lucid and compact explanations of this subject. Then loan your relatives the book and offer to discuss it with them after they’ve read it. During the discussion cite these passages as biblical evidence there is only one true God: Isaiah 44:6; 45:5-6, 18, 21-22; 46:9. Cite these passages to show God is omnipresent: Psalm 138 (139):7-8; Wisdom 1:7; Jeremiah 23:24; Ephesians 1:23.”
Q: “Mormon missionaries condemned as unbiblical the Catholic custom of paying priests and bishops. They said the Mormon Church has no paid clergy, claiming this was the pattern of the first Christians. How can I answer them?”
A: “Start your next discussion with 1 Corinthians 9:11: “If we have sown spiritual seed for you, is it a great thing that we reap a material harvest from you? If others share in this rightful claim on you, do not we still more?”
Paul says that even though he would have been justified in being paid for his ministry (v. 18), he chose to forego payment in order to eliminate a potential source of criticism from his detractors. He explains in verses 14 that “the Lord ordered that those who preach the gospel should live by the gospel.”
Other verses to examine are 2 Thessalonians 2:6-10, Romans 15:26-27; and 2 Timothy 2:6.”
Q: “Mormon missionaries visited my home recently and, among other things, condemned as unbiblical the Catholic custom of paying priests and bishops. They were quite proud of the fact that the Mormon church has no paid clergy, claiming they follow the pattern set by the first Christians. I was uncomfortably silent because I had no idea where to look in the Bible for verses that support the Catholic position. Are there any?”
A: “Yes. Start your response with 1 Corinthians 9. In verses 7-12 Paul takes up this very topic, asking,
Whoever serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard without eating its produce? Or who shepherds a flock without using some of the milk from the flock? Am I saying this on human authority or does not the law also speak of these things?
It is written in the law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain.” Is God concerned about oxen, or is he not really speaking for our sake? It was written for our sake, for the plowman should plow in hope and the thresher in hope of receiving a share. If we have sown spiritual seed for you, is it a great thing that we reap a material harvest from you? If others share in this rightful claim on you, do not we still more?
He goes on to specify that even though he would be completely justified in being paid for his ministry (v. 18), he chose to forego that right in order to eliminate a potential source of criticism from his detractors. He explains in verses 13 and 14, “Do you not know that those who perform the temple services eat what belongs to the temple, and those who minister at the altar share in the sacrificial offerings? In the same way, the Lord ordered that those who preach the gospel should live by the gospel.” Also see Romans 15:26-27, 2 Thessalonians 2:6-10, and 2 Timothy 2:6.”
Q: “Why do you lump Fundamentalists, Evangelicals, and Pentecostals with non-Christian groups such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Mormons?”
A: ” We don’t. We know the difference. You don’t find us saying, for example, that Mormons are Protestants (or, for that matter, Christians). But when the groups you mention use the same arguments against the Catholic Church or share common methods of proselytizing, it’s fair to discuss them together.”
Q: “I understand Mormonism is polytheistic because it teaches that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three separate gods. When I recently told a pair of Mormon missionaries they were polytheists, they heatedly denied it, claiming their church teaches the doctrine of the “Godhead” of the Trinity and worships only one God. What’s up?”
A: “The answer to your question is: Yes, Mormonism is essentially polytheistic. But let’s make sure we’re straight on our terms. In Catholic lingo, “Godhead” is another way of saying Trinity in that we understand the Godhead as one God comprised of three divine Persons—not three distinct gods. Polytheism means the worship of a plurality of gods.
Some Mormons, recognizing their theology is polytheistic, prefer to soften it by referring to their religion as “henotheistic,” which means the belief in many gods but the worship of one chief god.
For Mormons, “Godhead” means a spiritual partnership that exists among the three “gods” of this planet: God the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Ghost. (Mormons usually don’t say “Holy Spirit.”)
Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormon Church, declared: “I have always declared God to be a distinct personage, Jesus Christ a separate and distinct personage from God the Father, and that the Holy Ghost was a distinct personage and a spirit; and these three constitute three distinct personages and three distinct gods” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 370).
In fact, Mormonism teaches that God the Father is essentially a “perfected man” and is limited by a body of flesh and bone and thus is limited to time and space. He happens to reside on a planet near an uncharted star called “Kolob” (Abraham 3:3-9).
Since Mormons worship both God the Father (Doctrine and Covenants 18:40) and Jesus Christ (3 Nephi 11:17; 2 Nephi 25:29), and since they believe the Father and Jesus are two separate gods, they truly are polytheists.
For an added, bizarre twist, turn to the Pearl of Great Price to see this doctrine contradicted: Moses reportedly says, “For God [the Father] said unto me: ‘Worship God [the Father] for him only shalt thou serve’... Call upon God [the Father] in the name of mine only begotten [Jesus] and worship me’... Depart from me, Satan, for this one God only [the Father] will I worship, which is the God of Glory” (Moses 1:15-20).”