Nelson Price: A close look at what Mormons believe
by Nelson Price
Columnist
February 26, 2012 12:01 AM | 2259 views | 15 15 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
This column is in response to requests for insights into the difference between Mormonism and traditional Christianity.

I have dear friends who are Mormons. They, like most Mormons, are gracious socially, exceptional family people, and in general good citizens. As such they personally are objects of my regard.

Their faith, the Church of Latter Day Saints, better known as Mormonism, has been very much in the news as a result of a prominent member of their faith being a primary candidate for president. I would not deliberately misrepresent any person’s faith so I hope Mormons find the following to be a fair representation of their faith based on the teachings of their church. Each of these points comes from a document accepted by the Church of Latter Day Saints (hereafter noted as “the Church”) and is documented accordingly.

Space limits the ability to reveal the numerous ways the teachings of the Church differ from the Bible. Therefore, only a few will be considered. Members of the Church say they believe Jesus Christ is the Firstborn of God the Father. By that what do they mean?

They believe, “We are sons and daughters of God, and we lived in a premortal existence as His spirit children” (Doctrine and Covenants and Church History, [hereafter noted as “D&C”], p. 106).

“The fact that there is no reference to a mother in heaven either in the Bible, Book of Mormon or Doctrine and Covenants, is not sufficient proof that no such thing as a mother did not exist there” (Answers to Gospel Questions, Joseph Smith, Jr., p. 143).

Jesus was the “Firstborn” of the Sovereign’s offsprings. Lucifer, his brother, was the second born in the morning of pre-existence, and the rest of human beings followed in this premortal existence. “We are all the spiritual children of heavenly parents.” (Eternal Marriage Student Manual, p. 259).

“The child to be born to Mary was begotten by Elohim (God).”

This is called “celestial Sireship.” (The Life and Teachings of Jesus and His Apostles, p. 23)

The Church teaches there is an after life when righteous spirits carry the message of salvation to wicked spirits in hell and co-mingle. At this point those wicked spirits can repent and be freed. (Preparation for Exaltation, p. 36).

The Church teaches the Father in heaven was once a man as we are now, capable of physical death. He progressed through stages to reach the stage of “exaltation of godhood.” Humans have the power to reach godhood. When we become gods we will have jurisdiction over worlds that will be peopled by our offsprings. (Achieving a Celestial Marriage, p. 132).

The Church holds that “Jesus Christ was married at Cana of Galilee, that Mary, Martha, and others were his wives, and that he begat children” (Orson Hyde (apostle) The Judgments of God on the United States, (March 15, 1855) in Journal of Discourses, p. 210).

The following are two of the primary reasons some consider The Church of Latter Day Saints, Mormonism, a cult.

Joseph Smith, Jr. taught The Book of Mormon is more reliable than the Bible, (History of the Church, p. 4:461).

If it had not been for Smith and the restoration, there would be no salvation. There is no salvation outside the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, (Mormon Doctrine, p. 670).

This column is not intended to suggest how a person should vote, but that persons may know something of the faith held by a candidate for president.

Often one’s faith has little influence on how well they govern. After all, we recently had two Southern Baptists who were not paragons of their denominational faith.

Make your determination regarding Mormonism on these their own teachings compared with the Bible. I report, you decide.

Where did I hear that?

The Rev. Dr. Nelson Price is pastor emeritus of Roswell Street Baptist Church. Contact Price at nlprice@aol.com.
Comments
(15)
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SeriouslyMe
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March 05, 2012
This guy wants to teach us all about the Mormons and he can't even get the name of the church right. Whatever.
Heaventree
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February 29, 2012
Need More Info, I can give you a helpful summary: they're all a crock of delusional garbage.
Need More Info
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February 28, 2012
This is a great start; but I'd love to see a bit more on the nuances between the Pre-Lutheran Protestants, Lutherans, Anglicans, Presbyterians, Congregationalists, Anabaptists, the Brethren, Methodists, Pietists, your own denomination the Baptists (and the Southern Baptists), the Irvingites, the Pentecostals, the Charismatics, the African Initiated Churches, the Unitarians, the Quakers, the Stone-Campbell Restorationists, and the Southcottites and in particular how they square with Mormons, Catholics, and the Eastern Orthodox Church. After you're done with that, then let's explore the differences and similarities with the other major Abrahamic religions: Judaism and Islam.
good grief
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February 27, 2012
What better way to learn about the core beliefs of Mormons, Muslims, Buddists and others than to ask a Southern Baptist?
Bill A.
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February 27, 2012
Disapointed in both MDJ and Dr. Price.. No active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (nickname-Mormon) would agree with his articles facts. So why did you print it? He concludes with a cute paraphrase of Fox News.."I report,You decide." It's apparent from his "reporting" that he he's trying to lead people to decide that the church is a cult. He wants to discredit the church. Why do you allow your paper to be used this way?

I estimate I have attended some 3,000 Sunday services in the church and I have never heard the term "celestial Sireship", never heard that Jesus was married at Cana and had wives, never heard that Lucifer was second born son of God, never heard a sermon on a mother in heaven.

If your paper or Dr. Price REALLY want to report and let the people decide about religion.. then ask different faiths to give you in 20 words or less their beliefs on basic doctrines you select and let your readers decide.. but don't ask the First Methodist church write the answers for Roswell Street Baptist church.
Amy-Jo
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February 26, 2012
Really? You have a Baptist preacher telling people what The Church Of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is about. That makes as much sense as having the Ford dealership talk about the Chevy dealership down the road. MD Journal- Why don't you have a LDS leader talk about what they believe, unless you have some other agenda? Of course Nelson Price won't have a spin when he says, "some" consider Mormonism a cult.

What's a breath of fresh air is that leaders of the LDS Church will never give lectures of someone else's faith. The best way to learn about the LDS Church is to walk into one on a Sunday morning.

Brian C.
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February 26, 2012
I don't mean to be critical but I find it hard to believe that Rev. Price "would not deliberately misrepresent any person’s faith".

Here's why.

1. He states the name of the church three times incorrectly, leaving out the most important part. The name of the church is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

2. Most of his references are not even official church doctrine, nor believed by many practicing Mormons. Many were simply speculation or personal opinion by Mormons who died over one hundred years ago. It shows that his lists of Mormon beliefs were severely cherry-picked.

3. He claims he has dear friends who are Mormon, but given this article, it's clear that he never checked with them on what they actually believe.

Steven #10
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February 26, 2012
Sadly, you were off to a poor start when you got the name of the church wrong. You left out the most important part. It is "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints" not the "Church of Latter Day Saints." Including the name of the Savior in the title makes all the difference in the world. Leaving His name out would be more than just an omission; it would be misleading.
Anew Perspective
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February 26, 2012
Nelson Price,

Your first couple of paragraphs were ok - "but" it was easy to see a big "BUT" building to the next paragraphs.

Sure enough.

You have "dear mormon friends" yet quickly mention only (3) positives with no follow up documentation - while taking the time to mention at least (11) paragraphs containing information known to incite anger within other religions.

While then bringing politics into the equation.

Fair writing? Fair article? Fair to your friends you say you "hold dearly"? Not hardly.

Solution:

1) Feel free to write-up another less biased article.

2) Feel free to provide actual references - within the context of those references - so others can do some real research - rather than simply accepting your "incite to anger" information at first reading/face-value.

Or not.

Obviously, you can use your power of influence any way you choose to.

So my comment is simply a suggestion that you could use your power of influence in a more honest, less biased manner against other believers of God.

just sayin
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February 26, 2012
Congratulations Rev Price, on getting almost through your column without a self righteous dig at your political enemies. "We recently had two Southern Baptists (presidents) who were not paragons of their denominational faith". I know of few Southern Baptist's who are pragons of their faith, including myself. No one is without sin we are all flawed and need of God's forgiveness. Appearently this does not apply if you do not conform to Rev Price's political idealogy.
Dustinsc
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February 26, 2012
You lost all credibility when you couldn't even get the name of the church right. Unless you are referring to some Church of Latter Day Saints, which would be somewhat more obscure, and I would not be able to speak to the accuracy of your statements with regard to such a church. However, if you meant the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, then you have not made a fair representation, and either you are misguided, misinformed, or you are intentionally misleading people (I sure hope the omission of the name of the Savior from the name of the Church was a genuine mistake, and not an attempt to de-emphasize the role of the Savior in the lives of members of the Church).
Steve S
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February 26, 2012
Why didn't you get a Mormon's viewpoint on this question? This is the typical evangelical approach to members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It starts out by saying they are fine people and then uses statements taken out of context to make them appear extremists.
Chris748354
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February 26, 2012
Wow. I can't for the life of me figure out why you would say that you "would not deliberately misrepresent any person's faith" and that you "hope Mormons find the following to be a fair representation of their faith" and then immediately go into a list of items that deliberately represents the Mormon faith and that Mormons would certainly not find to be a fair representation.

Most of the items in your list are not in the Church's canon and are not official Church doctrine. Many of the items in your list contain limited quotations surrounded by a lot of opinion and speculation. Some of the items in your list are new to me, a life-long Mormon, who has studied Mormonism for 40 years and attended Church weekly, and has even studied anti-Mormon material

(which I always found to be weak). In short, your list is anything but a fair reflection of what Mormons believe.

Here is the simple fact that anti-Mormons either don't get or choose to ignore: Just because some Mormon somewhere in the Church's history said something, it doesn't make it official Church doctrine. The Church defines it's beliefs, INCLUDING rejecting statements by prior Mormons (and yes, that includes prior Church Presidents).

Reverend Price, it saddens me that you, as a Christian, would take a path of deliberate deception.
Daveescaped
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February 26, 2012
I think the tone of this article is sincere. So I'll do my best to respond accordingly. I object to the article, not because it gets particular beliefs wrong (although some are incorrect) but that the article has cherry-picked particular beliefs devoid of any context or explanation, and at the same time offered no refutation for these beliefs.

First, we do not believe that "righteous spirits carry the message of salvation to wicked spirits in hell and co-mingle". This would be a misstatement. Also, the Church does not teach or "hold" that Jesus was married at Cana. Some LDS scholars have said as much but this is hardly LDS doctrine, only an opinion of an LDS scholar.

The reference to "celestial Sireship", while not incorrect, was taken from a single church manual quoting another more obscure source. As a 20 year church member (served a mission, temple marriage, etc.) this was my first time hearing that term. My point is that if a seasoned church member is unfamiliar with a concept, is it really worth referencing as a statement of general LDS doctrine to those unacquainted? The lack of context is also quite unfair. It is unreasonable to think that a non-believer can fairly explain a worldwide faith of millions is a few paragraphs? This lack of context and citation of obscure subjects is what I see far too often from LDS critics. It would be a bit like introducing someone to Catholicism by saying, “they sit in a big room and eat the flesh of a 2,000 year old dead Jew” (the communion and trans-substantiation). Such a characterization would be patently unfair. Why not simply start with, “they believe in Jesus Christ as the Savior” (which both Catholics and Mormons do) and then describe other of the most basic beliefs (of which, hardly any are described here).

Finally, as the author insists that his intent is not to influence votes, one wonders why it is worthwhile to detail the beliefs of a single candidate? Will the Rev. be addressing each candidates beliefs in turn? Unlikely. With all due respect, the intent seems to be to paint an unfavorable picture of the LDS faith and draw a dotted line to Mitt Romney. Two points here; first, if this is only a primer on LDS beliefs, wouldn't the best source be the LDS church (lds.org) or an LDS adherent like myself? Put another way, why ask a Ford dealer what he thinks of Chevy’s? Second, I worked for Mitt at the Olympics, was deeply impressed with his abilities and acumen. I know his family; great people. While my own politics might differ ever so slightly from his, I'd be glad to have him as my President and I think most people of any faith would as well. So what else matters? Would you accept a skilled Mormon as your accountant? How about your carpenter or dentist? What is so different about hiring a capable Mormon as your president when we are so deeply in need of strong financial acumen and managerial temperament?

MinJae Lee
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February 26, 2012
Where on earth does this Baptist preacher get the chutzpa to explain to people what Mormons believe. After reading the article I and tell you that he DOES NOT KNOW what Mormons believe and is bearing false witness when he attempts to do so. He says that he "would not deliberately misrepresent any person’s faith so I hope Mormons find the following to be a fair representation of their faith based on the teachings of their church." Well, it is a gross misrepresentation and he should be ashamed of himself. None of the books he cites are authoritative or considered as doctrinal by the church - some of them are recognized as very speculative in nature. But he doesn't tell us that - because it would reduce his ability to make Mormons look weird. The unmitigated gall of some people is beyond comprehension and the REV. Dr. Price has it in spades. How embarrassing to have one's bigotry, dishonesty and ignorance on display before the world. How can you call yourself a Christian when you deny such fundamental tenets of the faith?
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