The fifth and final reason offered by Dr. Dan Brown in his quest to try and legitimize Mormonism as a accurate representation of Christianity that is capable of producing biblical Christians is an institutional appeal itself.
Brown feels that as long as the Mormon Church has any one of a number of individuals occupying offices such as apostles, teachers, pastors, etc., then its membership must be Christian. So, with that in mind, we’ll call this last appeal
Reason #5: Illegitimate Leadership
Dr. Brown’s argument, as stated in the St. Helena Star goes likes this:
5. We are Christians because “we believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth” (Articles of Faith No. 6), as well as all other offices mentioned in the New Testament, such as deacons, bishops, and high priests. Just as in the early church, we believe that Christ’s church in our day should be “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone” (Ephesians 2:20)
First of all, nowhere in the Bible will one find that as long as someone believes in “apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth” that that entails that they are Christians. It merely means that they happen to believe something that is nonessential when it comes to spiritual regeneration, which, interestingly enough, Dr. Brown completely fails to mention in his defense.
That said, though, the office or ecclesiastical positions that Dr. Brown mentions as evidence that Mormons are Christians, upon closer inspection, do not match that found in the Bible either. In other words, when a Mormon holds those titles, it means something completely other than what is meant when someone in the Bible held the title.
For instance, there are a very specific guidelines for holding the title of an apostle in the Bible, which entailed very specific duties and abilities. They are found in Acts 1:21-24, 2:43, and 5:12, etc.
Acts 1:21 “‘It is therefore necessary that of the men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us— 22 beginning with the baptism of John, until the day that He was taken up from us— one of these should become a witness with us of His resurrection.’ 23 And they put forward two men, Joseph called Barsabbas (who was also called Justus), and Matthias. 24 And they prayed, and said, ‘Thou, Lord, who knowest the hearts of all men, show which one of these two Thou hast chosen…’”
An apostle, therefore, had to have (1) been one of those who accompanied Jesus, (2) witnessed Jesus’ resurrection, and (3) been chosen by God.
When we turn to Acts 2:43 and 5:12 we see the supernatural ability that came with being an apostle.
“And everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles” (Acts 2:43).
“And at the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were taking place among the people; and they were all with one accord in Solomon’s portico” (Acts 5:12).
An apostle of Jesus, in other words, was no ordinary man voted into office by his colleagues simply because he knew all the right secret handshakes, was an astute businessman, and he stood out among the crowd at the local ward.
An apostle of Jesus shared a special and personal experience with him, and his office was validated by his words and deeds that could only be explained as motivated by the divine.
When one turns to Mormon apostles, who among any of them ever accompanied Jesus, witnessed his resurrection, or was chosen by God, and was validated by the demonstration of miraculous signs? The answer is, none of them!
The same applies to the remainder of Dr. Brown’s list. None of the Mormon “prophets” ever spoke in conformity with God’s revelation as either a foreteller or forthteller as it pertained to the nation of Israel.
In fact, Joseph Smith and Mormonism has perverted what it means to be an Old Testament Jew by asserting that the followers of Mormonism are actually of the lineage of those Jews themselves!
The teachers in Mormonism, of which Dr. Brown is one of them, teach doctrines completely contrary to what historic, biblical Christianity has taught for two millennia, as is evidenced, in part, by what he has written here in defense of Mormons being Christians.
There is no such thing as a Mormon pastor or evangelist.
The Mormon missionaries, of which many people are familiar, are not really missionaries at all. They are cheap labor spokespersons and salesmen for the organization.
From the biblical perspective, a missionary does not merely spend two years going about trying to proselytize Christians on his own dime, peddle a “gospel” that tells people if they will simply work hard enough, then they can become gods and goddesses on their own planet, while being united with their family (see Reason #2), nor refrain from establishing Bible-centered churches in the worst neighborhoods.
Yet, when we look at the main focus of Mormon cheap labor, that is exactly what they do. And with the recent change in policy from the Mormon hierarchy, there will now be more cheap laborers out and about pestering people, whether online—which is where most of the Mormon attention is being shifted—or at one’s front door, with very few of them even knowing what they’re talking about.
As for deacons, bishops, and high priests, none of those offices in Mormonism even vaguely resembles what they were intended in the Bible.
All a deacon is in Mormonism is an Aaronic Priesthood holder, which typically begins when the male turns 12 years-old, and is more of a status symbol, much like the older Melchizedek priesthood holders. It means absolutely nothing from a biblical perspective, but takes on an air of arrogance for the Mormon who thinks he is actually some kind of deacon or priest.
As for being a high priest, that is an office that only belongs to one person: Jesus Christ; and he will never relinquish that office to anyone, regardless of how many oaths are taken behind closed doors or secret handshakes are learned along the way (see Hebrews 7).
Finally, the Mormon organization is not built upon the foundation of the biblical Jesus. As noted in Reason #1, the Mormon Jesus is the “spirit brother” of Satan. He is nothing more than a created being who managed to work his way up the ranks to becoming a god himself, and making him one among many gods and goddesses that Mormons argue exists.
The foundation of Mormonism is built upon the wild imagination of their founder Joseph Smith. While Mormons claim that they don’t worship Joseph, all things considered, that is exactly where their adoration mainly lies. Jesus is merely window dressing compared to Joseph. And why not? After all lord Joseph said,
I have more to boast of than ever any man had. I am the only man that has ever been able to keep a whole church together since the days of Adam. A large majority of the whole have stood by me. Neither Paul, John, Peter, nor Jesus ever did it. I boast that no man ever did such a work as I (History of the Church, 6:408-9).
Indeed. Joseph was a legend—at least in his own mind.
So, while Dr. Brown would like for everyone to assume that because Mormonism is based on a primitive church foundation, complete with all the offices, the assumption is purely illusory. There is nothing truthful about any of it.
Not only is belief in such unnecessary for the production of a Christian, upon closer examination, what Mormonism has erected in terms of its organizational structure is completely at odds with how the Bible describes or discusses the roles of apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, deacons, priests, or whatever. It is all a show and a sham.
Perhaps what is even more disturbing about Dr. Brown’s final point of rationale is that aside from the Mormon organization being built upon an illusion, he wants people to believe that it is the basis that everyone should trust in to be a Christian.
In fact, Dr. Brown’s argument is almost exactly what Mormon General Authority Bruce R. McConkie had written years ago.
After giving the same spiel about the Mormon Church being the only true church, McConkie wrote, “If it had not been for Joseph 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 1966: 670).
The organization, with all its pretty buildings, clean-cut “missionaries,” and outwardly conservative lifestyles, is what Mormons, like Dr. Brown and Bruce McConkie, want everyone to see and believe is what Christianity is all about, rather than Jesus.
Nothing could be further from the truth, though. An organization can have all the so-called apostles, prophets, and priests it can muster. But, if its view of Jesus is skewed, and he is merely window dressing and takes a backseat to anyone, then that organization cannot be Christian, nor can it produce them.
Mormonism is not Christian, despite all the borrowed Christian offices that Dr. Brown alludes to. Therefore, it cannot produce Christians either.