I.                    Mormonism (F.E. Mayer, pp. 454ff): Cult, not heterodox

A.    Founding of Mormonism

1.                  Really in a class all by itself.

a.       Is a great agricultural, industrial, and financial empire.

b.      Beyond all other “religions” re: type and extent of “revelations”.

c.       Priesthood distinct re: origin and authority.

d.      Doctrinal system almost incomprehensible.


2.                  Joseph Smith, Founder

a.       1805-1844.

b.      Reported that:

(1)   During revival meeting in 1820 at Palmyra, N.Y.

(2)   Greatly disturbed by conflict between Methodists, Baptists, and Presbyterians.

(3)   Made “direct inquiry” of God for guidance in selecting the true church.

(4)   Was told by two transfigured persons to not unite with any church.

c.       States that three years later:

(1)   Angel Moroni came to him in a vision.

(2)   Was told that he had been selected to translate The Book of Mormon.

(3)   Book written in a strange language on golden plates hidden by Moroni over 1000 years before.

(4)   Plates hidden on Mount Cumorah, near Palmyra, N.Y.

d.      September 22, 1827.

(1)   Moroni instructed him to remove plates and begin translation.

(2)   In interim, supposedly Smith was pressured to reveal hiding place.

(3)   But, on pain of eternal destruction, was not to reveal the plates to anyone.

e.       With mysterious spectacles “Urim and Thummim”

(1)   Smith and Oliver Cowdery undertook translation and prepared copy for printer.

(2)   Both supposedly received vision in May, 1829 which ordained them as priests of Aaron.

f.        Shortly thereafter, Peter, James and John supposedly bestowed upon Smith also the priesthood of Melchizedek.

3.                  April 6, 1830

a.       With completion of Book of Mormon.

b.      And re-establishment of priesthood.

c.       Smith, et al, organized:

(1)   The Church of Christ.

(2)   Under immediate direction of Holy Spirit.

d.      Spirit guided them in appointment of various officers.

e.       Good argument can be made that the “new church” organized by Sidney Rigdon rather than Smith.

4.                  “New Church”

a.       Grew rapidly.

b.      Problems resolved by special revelations to Smith.

c.       Established headquarters at Kirtland, Ohio, in 1831.

d.      Poor management led to failure.

e.       Majority moved to Independence, Mo.

(1)   Per revelation to Smith, they were to build during the millennium a temple for Americans.

(2)   Jews were to erect temple at Jerusalem for Europeans and Asiatics.

f.        Clash with natives, “the Gentiles”, inevitable due to views on social questions, especially polygamy.

g.       Forced to leave and established Nauvoo, Illinois.

h.       Nauvoo prospered.

i.         But, charges brought against Joseph and Hyrum Smith (Jos.’ younger brother)

(1)   Polygamy, riot, and treason.

(2)   During trial, both shot to death by mob while imprisoned in 1844.

j.        Unexpected death led to divisions

(1)   Brigham Young, president of the Apostles, chosen as successor by majority.

(2)   Young led majority to Salt Lake City.

(3)   There, established a “socio-religious” empire

k.      The beehive (deseret) chosen as their emblem.

B.     Mormonism’s doctrinal system.

1.                  It is philosophy of life.

a.       Predicated on two basic premises.

b.      But, can not say that Smith originally had these in mind.

c.       “First, the eternal existence of a living personal God and the pre-existence and eternal duration of mankind as His literal offspring.” (quoted, F.E. Mayer, p. 455)

d.      “[S]econd, the placing of man upon the earth as an embodied spirit to undergo the experiences of an intermediate probation.” (quoted, F.E. Mayer, p. 455)

e.       Premises seem to permeate all the thinking.

2.                  The source of its doctrine.

a.       Source is vital to Mormonism.

b.      Claims three sources.

c.       First, the Bible

(1)   Accept the Bible as Word of God.

(2)   But only so far as it is correctly translated.

(3)   Consider Bible as a record of historical events in Eastern world.

(4)   But also claim that a correct translation is impossible since Catholic Church has taken away from the Word many parts (Handbook of Today’s Religions, by Josh McDowell and Don Stewart, published by Here’s Life Publishers, Inc., San Bernardino, CA. © 1983 by Campus Crusade for Christ, Inc., pp. 67f)

(5)   Therefore, Bible subordinated to other sources.

d.      Book of Mormon

(1)   Also accepted as Word of God.

(2)   Said to be record of events in Western continent as recorded by Mormon and delivered to his son, Moroni (see IA2c)

(3)   Is purportedly a record re: those in western continent to whom Christ appeared after His resurrection.

(4)   Moroni said to have made record in “Reformed Egyptian” hieroglyphics.

(5)   Name “Mormon” per Smith.

(a)                Partly English (more)

(b)               Partly Egyptian (mon, i.e. “good”)

(6)   Mormons are taught that Ps 85:11 foretold the two great events in Mormon history.

(a)                The finding of The Book of Mormon, buried on Cumorah: “Truth shall spring out of the earth” (cf v. 11a)

(b)               The establishment of the priesthood by heavenly agents (“righteousness shall look down from heaven.” (cf v. 11b)

(c)                Good example of “twisting” Scripture.

(7)   First part of Book

(a)                Deals with history of Jared’s descendents.

(b)               Supposedly came to America after confusion of tongues.

(c)                Internecine warfare led to extinction ca. 600 BC

(d)               But, “Ether” recorded their history on 24 golden plates and hid them, later found by Moroni.

(8)   Second part of Book

(a)                Purports to record history of Lehi and family.

(b)               Lehi et al, said to have emigrated from Jerusalem to America ca 600 BC.

(c)                Descendants of Lehi’s son Nephi.

(1)   Pious.

(2)   Built large cities.

(3)   Developed highly advanced culture.

(d)               Per Book, Jesus appeared among Nephites after His ascension.

(1)   Established the church among them.

(2)   Inaugurated golden age of the Nephites.

(e)                However, descendants of Laman were wicked.

(1)   Insisted on walking in the nude.

(2)   Ultimately became the native Indians.

(f)                 In struggles between the two races, Nephites became extinct ca AD 385.

(g)                But not before Moroni had completed Mormon’s work in recording all the events.

(h)                “Colored” skin was punishment put on Lamanites and Lemuelites for warring against Nephites, per Book.

(9)   Disputes re: genuineness of Book.

(a)                Mormons declared Book may not be displayed to satisfy idle curiosity.

(b)               “11 witnesses”: reliability of some challenged.

(c)                Most commonly accepted theory of origin:

(1)   Presbyterian clergyman, named Spaulding, wrote an historical novel re: origin of American Indian.

(2)   Sidney Rigdon saw manuscript in printing shop of his employers, Patterson and Hopkins.

(3)   Rigdon took, enlarged and edited it, and prepared it for publication.

(4)   Theory merits some support.

(5)   Rigdon was a Campbellite minister (a division of The Disciples of Christ).

(6)   Book contains many references to Campbellite theology, which gained following shortly before publication of Book.

(7)   Author of Book

(a)    Moves in phraseology of KJV, written 1200 years later.

(b)   Uses dogmatic terms (e.g. atonement) not in use until much later.

(c)    Alludes to leading theological controversies of the 19th century.

(d)   Refers to current events e.g. anti-Masonic excitement caused by murder of William Morgan.

(e)    Mentions animals not introduced to America until long after purported time of writing.

e.       The Pearl of Great Price

(1)   Contains Smith’s translation of Bible, Book of Moses, and the Book of Abraham.

(2)   The Book of Moses.

(a)                An interpolation between Ge 5:21 and 23.

(b)               Contains alleged visions of Moses, incl. that Satan organized Masonry to mislead men.

(3)   The Book of Abraham

(a)                Interesting.

(b)               A translation of an Egyptian Papyrus later proved to be fraudulent (per McDowell and Stewart, p. 68)

(c)                Contains passages in support of polygamy.

f.        Direct revelations to leaders of Mormonism.

(1)   More important than Bible and The Book of Mormon.

(2)   Those supposedly received by Smith published as Doctrines and Covenants.

(3)   Those received by Smith’s successors treated as equally significant.

C.    Discussion Points

1.                  Jn 1:1-18.

2.                  Jn 5:39.

3.                  Jn 8:31,32.

4.                  Lk 16:29,31.

5.                  Ac 17:11.

6.                  Ac 20:27.

7.                  Gal 1:8,9.

8.                  1Ti 6:3,4.

9.                  Heb 1:1,2.

10.              1Pe 1:11.

11.              2Pe 1:19-21.




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