Debunking Seven Mormon Myths (Part 1)

In an effort to try and make itself more presentable to the American public, especially since the poster child for Mormonism, Mitt Romney, is running for President of the United States, the Mormons have been busy trying to debunk what they consider to be “myths” that have been spread about Mormonism.  Most recently a Mormon writer was allowed to be a guest blogger on a New Jersey news website, where he wrote on the subject of Debunking five myths about Mormons, to which he addressed as mythical, “All Mormons live in Utah,” “Mormons to not believe in Christ,” “Mormons vote as they are told,” “Mormons shun the outside world,” and “Mormons have many wives,” as the talking points to his rebuttal.

It is with this in mind that the following is presented which debunks the debunkers.  For while the Mormons are busy cleaning up their image on the one hand, on the other hand they are sullying that image by leaving many other myths intact, and misleading the public in the process.  An example of this is that while it is true that not all Mormons live in Utah, a myth left unchecked is that Mormons believe in God.  Whoa!  They don’t believe in God?  An explanation is provided below.  Also, while it is true that Mormons do believe in a Jesus, the myth is that they believe in the biblical Jesus.  That explanation will be seen in Part 2.

Of course, there will be the usual Mormon critics that will be screaming bloody murder for exposing these myths, but it should be noted that none of them will be actually deal with the explanations.  Instead, they will knock themselves out trying to demean the messenger, instead of dealing with the message.  So be it.  By failing to deal with the message, the message stands, the myth is exposed, and the truth prevails.  Therefore, without further introduction, let’s debunk the first Mormon myth, that Mormons believe in God.

1.  “Mormons believe in God.”  The first myth that all Mormons pose to the general public, and is often not even given a second thought, is that Mormons believe in God.  Now, why is it such a myth, given that the Mormons talk about Heavenly Father on a frequent basis and they use the term “God” in almost every other sentence, it seems? Why do Mormons tell us that God is in heaven and that prior to sending all his children to earth everyone there lived with him and Heavenly Mother in a big family setting, and it is only because a veil has been placed on the minds of his children that they do not remember the details of that setting, if they don’t believe in God?  The reason it is such a myth is because the God of Mormonism does not exist!  In fact, he cannot exist.  And to place one’s faith in something that does not exist, something that is fictitious or imaginary, is what myth-making is all about.  Let me explain.

Jesus Christ, like all mortal human beings, is the “literal offspring” of a being known to Mormons as “Heavenly Father.”  It’s not that Christians do not also believe in a Heavenly Father, but to a Mormon the idea of a Heavenly Father means something totally different.  To a Mormon Heavenly Father, who is “God,” is an exalted man who arrived at his current status, as God, by working his way up the divinity ladder.  He, though, is also the byproduct of a union of two other exalted human beings, his Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother, who came together, had celestial sex somewhere in the universe and bore earth’s Heavenly Father as a “spirit child,” just like Jesus and everyone else prior to coming to earth.  This natural process of begetting spirit children—who then go on to become mortal human beings and then eventually gods, as well—has been argued to have been going on for infinity past and will continue on into infinity future.  There is one big problem, however, with such an explanation of how God became what he is: there is no first God at the head of the infinity chain of finite gods and goddesses.

The founder of Mormonism, Joseph Smith, taught,

If Abraham reasoned thus—If Jesus Christ was the Son of God, and John discovered that God the Father of Jesus Christ had a Father, you may suppose that He had a Father also.  Where was there ever a son without a father?  And where was there ever a father without first being a son?  Whenever did a tree or anything spring into existence without a progenitor?  And everything comes in this way…Hence if Jesus had a Father, can we not believe that He had a Father also?  I despise the idea of being scared to death at such a doctrine, for the Bible is full of it (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 373).

No, Joseph, you’re “full of it.”  Nowhere in the Bible does it teach that man can become an exalted being—a god, if you will.  Moreover, the Bible says nothing about God becoming who He is, but that God always was, and is, who He is.  “For I, the Lord, do not change…” wrote Malachi (3:6).  Moreover, the idea that there is this familial chain of interconnected divine beings that all came to be because (1) a preceding pair of divine beings had sex with each other, and (2) the offspring worked at it hard enough to become gods as well, is not found in the Bible either.  Greek mythology, or “the naturalistic position of the Greeks” as Mormon philosopher Sterling McMurrin opined, maybe.  The Hindu concept of reincarnation, whereby one is eventually absorbed into the great Self, possibly.  But, the naturalistic evolution of a finite being who turns into a infinite god, by self-effort nonetheless, in the Bible, never!  And when we trace the Mormon idea of man and God back to their beginning, there is no one at the head of the god chain in Mormonism to get it all started.  For if becoming a god requires the natural union of a male god and a female goddess, and they do not already exist, then neither can their offspring.  Therefore, when we come to the idea of Mormonism’s Heavenly Father, he cannot exist either.  He had no parents because they had no parents and they had no parents, and so on and so forth, ad infinitum, which is a Mormon requirement to become a god in the first place.  And since Heavenly Father does not exist, then neither does the Mormon “God,” and belief in him becomes nothing more than an Olympic-sized myth.

2.  “Mormons are Monotheistic.”  Following the myth that Mormons believe in God is the equally convoluted myth that Mormons believe in only one God.  Here the Mormons have to engage in some rather poor linguistic gymnastics to try and persuade people that they are monotheists (believers in one god) instead of polytheists (believers in many gods).  What they fail to realize, or maybe they think no one notices, is that by denying their belief in multiple gods and goddesses, they (1) deny their own potential to become gods and goddesses themselves, which is an integral part of Mormon salvation, (2) deny that their own Mormon ancestors, including Joseph Smith, who are now supposedly gods and goddesses, (3) deny what Mormon leadership has said about the subject of multiple gods and goddesses, and (4) deny that two of the three gods in the Mormon godhead are true gods.

Joseph Smith proclaimed, “Hence the doctrine of a plurality of Gods is as prominent in the Bible as any other doctrine.  It is all over the face of the Bible” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 370).  Brigham Young later added, “How many Gods there are, I do not know.  But there never was a time when there were not Gods and worlds, and when men were not passing through the same ordeals that we are now passing through” (Discourses of Brigham Young, 22).  Mormon apostle Bruce R. McConkie wrote, “…there is an infinite number of holy personages, drawn from worlds without number, who have passed on to exaltation and are thus gods” (Mormon Doctrine, 577).  “If intelligent beings, far transcending the understanding of man,” argued John Widtsoe, “be called gods, there must be many gods” (Rational Theology, 62).  Joseph Fielding Smith observed that, “Joseph Smith taught a plurality of gods, and that man by obeying the commandments of God and keeping the whole law will eventually reach the power and exaltation by which he also will become a god” (Doctrines of Salvation, 1:98).  Finally, in the latest version of Gospel Principles, 2009 edition, which is an “official” doctrinal teaching tool for Mormons, we read, “Because we are spirit children of God, we have inherited the potential to develop His divine qualities” (9).  Later on it explains to the reader, “…if we placed our faith in Him, obeying His word and following His example, we would be exalted and become like our Heavenly Father” (11).  To be “exalted” in Mormonism is to become a god.

So, do Mormons believe in one God or multiple gods?  The answer is obvious.  Of course, some Mormons wish to continue to argue that they only believe in one god based on the notion that the three gods (Heavenly Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit) are one in purpose, and the only ones they have anything to do with.  But, such reasoning is beyond nonsense, since the question is not about the number of purposes the Mormons believe that the gods have, but the number of gods who share the one purpose.  Moreover, just because they focus on the three gods, as one in purpose, does not mean that they do not recognize the existence of other gods and goddesses.  To do so is, once again, to deny what their leadership, starting with Joseph Smith, has said on the subject almost from the beginning of Mormonism.  Therefore, it is a myth that Mormons believe in one god, when in fact, they believe in many gods.

3.  “Mormons pray to God.”  Prayer life in Mormonism is important, but it is strange.  Joseph Smith’s prayer, when we went out into the woods and was allegedly confronted by God and Jesus, is often cited as an example for all Mormons to follow when they might have a question that only God can answer.  It is not uncommon to run into a Mormon who encourages people to pray over the Book of Mormon to see whether it is not true (Moroni 10:4).  What makes all of this strange, though, is that since the Mormons also believe that Heavenly Father is not present everywhere, simultaneously, as Christian doctrine teaches, then they cannot be praying to God when they do.  Or if they are praying to God, then he cannot hear them.

It might be asked, “Well, if God is not everywhere, then where is he in Mormon thought?”  According to the Book of Abraham, God lives on a planet that orbits a star called Kolob (Abr. 3:9, 13).  No one has ever located Kolob or has any idea where it might be.  Sometimes Mormons sing “If You Could Hie to Kolob” with the following:

If you could hie to Kolob, In the twinkling of an eye,

And then continue onward, With that same speed to fly,

D’ye think that you could ever, Through all eternity,

Find out the generation, Where Gods began to be?

The point is, if God, the exalted man, is located on star base Kolob, and he can be nowhere else at any given time, then how is it possible for him to personally hear the prayers of those trying to petition him?  Some Mormons try to give an answer by arguing that because the holy spirit, which is a sort of impersonal force in the universe, permeates all of creation, then Heavenly Father receives messages through it.  Others who believe that the holy spirit and Holy Ghost are one and the same entity, believe that he acts, much like a messenger, to carry the prayers of the saints to HF, who then acts upon them.  The problem with that explanation, though, is that the Holy Ghost, as another exalted man, is fixed in time and space as well.  Joseph Fielding Smith wrote, “As a Spirit personage the Holy Ghost has size and dimensions. He does not fill the immensity of space, and cannot be everywhere present in person at the same time” (Doctrines of Salvation, 1:38).  He could not hear all the prayers if he wanted to because of his condition.  Nevertheless, in neither instance does God hear the prayers directly from those making the petitions, if at all.  He only hears hearsay, as it were, or reads or senses something through an impersonal intermediary.  So, one may hie unto Kolob all one wants, but it is nothing but a myth that the Mormon ever prays to God directly and are heard by him, personally.

In the next article we will take a look at the remaining four Mormon myths, starting with myth that Mormons trust or believe in the biblical Jesus.  Then, we’ll take a look at the myth behind the Mormon “trinity,” that Mormons love the Bible, and finally the myth that Mormonism is a Christian religion.

13 Comments

Filed under Bible, Christianity, Mormonism, Theology

13 responses to “Debunking Seven Mormon Myths (Part 1)

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  4. Hey Paul,
    I appreciate the scrutiny that you are applying to my faith! I believe it will help my fellow Mormons better educate themselves. I also believe the opposite of love isn’t hate, it’s apathy, and you certainly aren’t apathetic towards my faith.

    Some quick nit-picking, if you’ll allow it:
    1. Deification of Man is not Biblical – There are many verses of the Bible that can be interpreted to support the idea of theosis, depending on your interpretation. Certainly you don’t believe the Bible can only be interpreted one way?

    Here’s a scripture, in Revelation 3:21 “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.” There are many similar scriptures that support this idea in the Bible.
    Check to get a full list of such statements both in the Bible and from widely accepted Christian theologians. I would be interested to see your rebuttal to each scripture referenced at this site.

    You can interpret scripture how you like, but you can’t say that the principle of the deification of man CAN’T be found in the Bible. Maybe Joseph Smith isn’t as “full of it” as you previously thought?

    2. Correct, we are not a Monotheistic religion as per your definition of Monotheism. However, I do think it’s a bit hasty to call Mormonism polytheistic. In my Mormon experience, I pray to God, I seek repentance from Him, I worship him through my mind, and song, and service, and throughout my day my thoughts are centered on how I should act to please him. My thoughts of the existence of other gods do not ever surface, because there’s no point to it. They have nothing to do with me. I only think about this when confronted by critics of the church who like to bring up that fringe doctrine. Do you see how it feel kind of unfair to label us as Polytheistic? In practice, your mode of worship and my own are barely distinguishable from one another.

    3. You say God cannot hear my prayers. This was your weakest argument, IMO. Just cause God’s throne exists at a point in space doesn’t mean he can’t hear me. He created the Earth from nothing. Why does He not have the ability to hear me if He can do that? Do I need to argue this point even further? It seems silly to me. You write as if we believe He has human, mortal ears. You write as if His existence is the same as ours. I believe He has long been glorified much past our feeble mortal expectations of Him.

    God bless! I hope you don’t mind this kind of dialogue! Thanks :)

    • First, on theosis, I’ve written the following: Theosis of the Early Church Fathers

      Second, Mormonism is not monotheistic, not by my definition, but according to what Mormons believe. To believe that more than one god exists, as Mormons do, is to be polytheistic. To worship one of those many gods that allegedly exists is to be henotheistic. But, that does not mitigate the fact that Mormonism is polytheistic, because Mormons still believe that there more than one god in existence.

      Third, you didn’t explain how your god hears you, though. Moreover, it is not Mormon doctrine to say that God created Earth out of nothing. So, until you can explain how your humanistic god can hear your prayers, when he’s fixed in time and space, then my argument stands.

      • Hey Derengowski,

        Awesome article on theosis! Has helped me learn a couple things. But why then did you write about that “Nowhere in the Bible does it teach that man can become an exalted being” when you already knew all of the scriptures in your article that talked about Theosis? You should write that nowhere in your own interpretation of the Bible does it teach that man can become an exalted being. It’s not a black and white text, as you evidence in your article.

        Also, I would note that, if you can define theosis as the “assimilation of the creature to God” and when “those in authority are God’s delegates and the bearers of His image, and [can be] called … gods” , then why reject Mormon theosis? Could not even our scriptures be interpreted to mean the same thing?

        In my above reply, I wasn’t denying that Mormonism could be seen as polytheistic in the strict definition of the word. I was arguing that, in practice, we might as well be Monotheistic.

        As to how God hears my prayers, firstly, I don’t believe God is fixed in time and space. Secondly, I don’t think it’s fair to expect an explanation of exactly how he hears my prayers. How’s about He just can? Why wouldn’t He be able to just hear my prayers because of the infinite glory and power He has attained? Still don’t quite understand your argument. If you still require an explanation for this to be valid, then how about you give me an exact explanation for how one God can be three and three One. I, for one, am fine leaving it the area of unexplained Divine Mystery.

        Lastly, God creating the Earth out of unorganized matter (less organized than molecules, protons, quarks, anything organized that we can see) is still pretty impressive, right? More impressive than being able to hear the prayers of myself and others?

        Thanks for the reply,

        • Response to Question #1: There are no Scriptural references that point to theosis as Mormons “interpret” them.

          Response to Question #2: Because Mormons believe that human beings can become gods after the same essence as God, and that has never been the biblical position. Response to Question #2a: No. Sanctification, which is really what even the Eastern Orthodox have taught in respect to theosis, is not “the same thing” as what Mormonism has taught on the subject.

          Response to your monotheism reply: Sorry, but polytheism is polytheism, even when the Mormon wishes to turn his henotheism into monotheism. Equivocating terms only serves to cause confusion, not clarity. And when Mormons wish to continue to equivocate in light of being corrected on term usage, then they are engaging in deception. Monotheism is not henotheism.

          Response to God fixed in time and space. You may not believe that God is fixed in time and space, but your leaders do. Brigham Young wrote, “Some would have us believe that God is everywhere. It is not so. He is no more every where present in person than the Father and Son are one in person.” James Talmage would later write, “It has been said, therefore, that God is everywhere present; but this does not mean that the actual person of any one member of the Godhead can by physically present in more than one place at one time.” So, you’re either going to have to renounce that you’re a Mormon to continue believing what you do about God or you’re going to have to renounce your leaders.

          Response to Question #3: He can’t because of his fixed locality on starbase Kolob.

          Response to Question #3a: Because it requires personal presence in order to hear; a thing that Mormonism rejects when talking about God.

          As for my discussion of the essence of the Trinity, see the following: The Trinity.

          Response to Question #4: No. Because what you’re describing is not only not consistent with what the Bible says about creation, it pales in comparison to God creating something out of nothing by merely speaking it into existence. Moreover, what Mormons believe about God rearranging the furniture of the universe is nothing more what pagan mythology, Epicureanism and Platonism has taught about the universe. Finally, to assert that the universe is eternal is bring God down to the level of the created order, which is blasphemy. So, nice try, but what you’ve proposed is just another reason why Mormonism is not a biblical religion, much less a Christian one.

          • Hey Paul,
            Wow, thank you for such a detailed response, and for spending so much time on it. You know what, I’m very sorry, I thought we could engage in some discussion, but I’m finding it difficult to do so, seeing as how our perspectives and definitions of religion seem to be so far out of sync. I apologize for this. I’ll try to bridge some gaps.

            Many of your answers don’t make any sense to me because it seems that you believe that Mormon doctrine is black and white, set in stone. It may be to some, but I believe that while we have words from our Prophets and our Scriptures, I believe those words represent an almost infinite variety of interpretations. I am bound to interpretations that are confirmed to me through the Holy Ghost. Brigham Young also said
            “the greatest fear I have is that the people of this Church will accept what we say as the will of the Lord without first praying about it and getting the witness within their own hearts that what we say is the word of the Lord”
            How do Mormons interpret theosis? There is not one unifying definition. There is a large range of interpretations of the words we have been given on that matter. I can interpret the words of my leaders to be equal to the teachings of Eastern Orthodox christians. My theosis can be your sanctification.

            What of Brigham Young’s statements that you cited above? How do I know that Brigham Young wasn’t talking about physical presence alone, not spiritual presence? There are so many different interpretations to what He meant. In the end, I have to go by what I feel most is right. And, if a Prophet does say something that just cannot be interpreted to fit what the Holy Ghost tells me, I don’t have to believe in that statement. I believe Prophets and Apostles can preach falsely without losing their authority and power.

            It’s funny how you think that God must be fixed on “starbase Kolob” or that such would preclude Him from being able to communicate with His children. Why does it require a personal presence to hear? There are millions of possibilities as to how it can be done through divine science. Who knows? Do I have to understand how it is done in order to believe it?

            Anyway, I think it’s going to be pretty difficult to continue this conversation seeing as you believe in a pinned down, black and white, exact doctrine, and I believe in a fluid doctrine that can serve whatever interpretation the Holy Spirit directs. I’m sorry about that, but it has been educational for me, at least.

            Thank you again for your detailed response, God bless :)

            • Connor,

              The only reason I believe in what you’re suggesting is because, once again, of the mountain of GA statements made in the firsthand Mormon material that I possess. They all corroborate each other on the subjects, and it doesn’t take a Ph.D. to figure out what they’re saying. Now, if you don’t want to deal with what you’re leaders have written on the topic, and merely want relativise their commentary to suit your feelings, that’s your business and your problem. I’ve done what I could to not only be accurate in stating Mormon beliefs based on those authoritative sources and contrasted them with a sound hermeneutic when it comes to biblical beliefs, and they do not match. Mormonism is not biblical Christianity except only by an extreme and perverse sense of the imagination.

              So, if there comes a day when you wish to continue on with this discussion, I’ll be more than happy to entertain your thoughts or questions. Until then, I wish you the best.

              • I really appreciate the response, Derengowski. I think I now understand your arguments. If the only interpretation of Mormonism was rigidly contained to the literal meaning of whatever any leader of the Church said, your arguments would make perfect sense to me, and I would be convinced to leave Mormonism behind. I now understand that your arguments make sense, seeing as all you have to work with is the black and white text of Mormon leaders and scripture. I wouldn’t expect any other kind of response to Mormonism from any rational person if that was the case.

                Thank you for the dialogue, I wish you the best as well. God bless :)

                • Connor,

                  If your church leaders don’t know that Mormonism means, particularly when they put their interpretations in “black and white” and stand before the laity in General Conference to expound upon its meaning, then who does? Given what you’ve written thus far, it would seem that what I’m supposed to do is disregard their authoritative statements and believe what you’ve got to say. Yet, where do you get your authority to denounce them and have you written them accordingly, as you’ve done me, to tell them how far into error they’ve traversed?

                  You see, if words don’t have meaning, particularly as they are defined by those using them, so that they can be understood by those hearing them, then nothing will ever be understood about anything, and we’ll all simply devolve into utter chaos. But, if those using words in a specific way can convey their meaning so that whatever subject they are talking about can be understood, then it is going to be incumbent upon those who disagree with them to use equally, if not more persuasive, better arguments to show where they are in error. You haven’t done that with your own leaders. Instead, all you’ve done is condemn me for quoting them. Well, I’m sorry. But, until you rise to the level of where they are, then I’ll have to go with what they’ve written or said, because they’re the ones doing the defining of Mormonism. On the other hand, you’ll either have to get inline with their declarations, live in rebellion against them, or simply leave altogether. But, I cannot accommodate an argument that is predicated on a false view, especially when the person promoting the view has no authority to do so, apart from the relativism he’s using to argue against something he disagrees with. For as soon as I began to accommodate your argument, then I would be at your mercy to lead the conversation anywhere you wanted, and that would hardly be intellectually honest.

  5. Bethany Simko

    What you have posted here is anything but true. Let me explain. First of all, let me tell you the real name for mormons. The real name is the church of Jesus Christ of latter day saints. That right there is proof for one thing, we believe in Jesus Christ. We believe that heavenly father, Jesus Christ and the holy ghost are three seperate beings and the members of the god head. Before I go on, let me tell you something. I am 11 years old. I was baptized at eight which is the accountable age that god himself set. I can testify to you right here and now that I can not stress enough that I felt the holy ghost so strongly and my heavenly fathers love for me so strongly that even if you tried to kill me, I would never deny it. Never deny my faith. Never deny my church. This is coming from an 11 year old. If I can feel it and know it so strongly don’t you. think what I am saying is true??!!??!!!? We also do pray. And we believe that god can hear everybody at once. We do not know exactly how because he is a god. He can do mighty things. And we know that all of those things are revealed unto us yet. But when they do, they will. come to our true and living prophet, president Monson. As I am writing this now, I feel the spirit ( holy ghost) very very strongly.

    • First of all, Bethany, a name proves nothing, especially in the world of religion. In fact, Jesus warned against false prophets who would dress themselves up as “wolves in sheep’s clothing.” Later, the apostle Paul would teach that Satan could disguise himself as an angel of light. So, just because the name “Jesus” might be in a religious organization’s moniker in no way necessitates that it knows anything about Jesus, much less is a representative of him. That is only found out by getting passed the name and asking a few questions about what it believes about Jesus. And clearly, the Mormon Church does not subscribe to a view about Jesus that should lead anyone with a biblical worldview to conclude that it is a Christian organization.

      Second, thank for admitting that Mormonism teaches tritheism, which is tantamount to polytheism, and has nothing to do with the monotheistic view of God taught in the Bible. I couldn’t agree more.

      Third, it is irrelevant what you “feel” to be true, especially when God has spoken on any given subject. Just because you say you “feel” the presence of the Spirit of God does not make it true, even in light of Mormon theology, which makes it impossible. Either that “spirit” is a false spirit, leading you astray or you’re relying on a subjective experience that is contrary to Scripture to be your guide. For nowhere in the Bible does it indicate that the Spirit of God is evidenced by a feeling.

      So, thanks for writing. You’ve blown off some Mormon hostility, but that is about all you’ve done. And just what kind of “spirit” would lead a person to do such a thing? I’ll let the readers decide.

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