to be a true Latter-day Saint is to be a Catholic


#1

Dear all, they opened a Mormon temple in Helsinki, Finland recently and I’ve been meeting some Mormon missionaries lately. After discussion and studying (many thanks to Isaiah Bennet’s book Inside Mormonism published by Catholic Answers) I ended up writing the following essay that I will let some Mormon missionaries read tomorrow when we meet. I thought I’d post the essay here in parts so that 1) I could get comments from you, especially if there are grammatical, theological or other mistakes, and 2) as an idea for Catholics in general in terms of interreligious or interdenominational dialogue - it might be good to start from all the good things there are in the other religions/denominations and make the people see then that the fullness of that goodness is in the Catholic Church.
If you feel like it, you can write similar essays about other religions and we can make a collection and publish it somewhere online. I’ll post this both in “apologetics” and “non-catholic religions”, I hope I haven’t missed a rule forbidding posting a message in two forums… Anyway here you are:


#2

God

To be a Latter-day Saint is to desire to know, love and serve the Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, and through Him have eternal life. There is hardly a more glorious and noble purpose to this life than that, so we can truly say that the Latter-day Saint does well in recognizing that Jesus Christ is the Way to the Father, Truth, and Life (cf. John 14:6), as revealed to us in the New Testament and as prophesied by the prophets of the Old.

But to be able to truly know God the Father and His Son as revealed in the New Testament it is necessary to be a Catholic. According to Jesus’ own words the most important commandment is: “Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.” (Mark. 12:29-30) First on Jesus’ list is the truth of the nature or identity of God, which is then followed by the commandment to love Him. Why this passage requires the follower of Christ to abandon Mormonism and embrace Catholicism is that the words quoted by Jesus in the original Hebrew refer to God as follows: “The Jehovah our Elohim is one Jehovah”. Jesus’ teaching that Jehovah is our God and that Elohim is one Jehovah destroys the Mormon tenet that Jehovah is Jesus and Elohim the Father, and that they are two separate gods and that Jesus is not the sovereign God we worship and pray to, while it strongly affirms the monotheism taught by Catholicism. This same God said through the prophet Isaiah: “Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD (Jehovah) …before me there was no God (Elohim) formed, neither shall there be after me” (Is. 43:10) and “I am the LORD (Jehovah), and there is none else, there is no God (Elohim) beside me” (Is. 45:5). These verses demonstrate the impossibility of both submitting to Mormon doctrine and knowing the true God, since God explicitly contradicts the idea of a plurality of gods being formed before and after our God’s becoming God – an essential part of the Mormon faith. Jehovah says there is no God beside Him, but for Mormons there is, namely Elohim. Thus the Mormon has to choose between the authority of God Himself and a late teaching of Joseph Smith (eternal progression), which is actually contradicted by the Book of Mormon itself. To be a Mormon is to believe the book of Mormon which teaches clearly: “God is the same yesterday, today and forever, and in him there is no variableness, neither shadow of changing” (Mormon 9:9). Thus to be a faithful Mormon is to become a Catholic, since the God of Mormonism has become a changing God that was first a spirit being, then a bodily human being, and now God – one that first announced there is no God but one and later that there are many, first that He is not a man (Hos. 11:9) and later that he actually is, one that taught first that the Son is the Father (I Nephi 11:21) and later that the Son is a totally different man/god/being from the Father, a God that first allowed the use of alcohol (Deut. 14:25-26, 1. Tim. 5:23 etc.) while forbidding divorce and remarriage (Mark. 10:6-12, 1. Cor. 7:10-11 etc.), but later changed His mind and reversed the commands. Because it is necessary to know the true God in order to be able to love and serve Him (otherwise one is loving and serving a false God), it is necessary to be a Catholic to be able to love and serve the true God “with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength”.
To be a Latter-day Saint is also to emphasize the Scriptural truth that after the Day of Judgment the Christian has the hope that “we shall be like Him” (1 John 3:2) – we shall be gods. To be a Catholic is to affirm this view wholeheartedly – the Church Fathers (especially the Eastern ones) often spoke about Christ having become a man so that men might become “gods”. The Mormon only needs to understand that this doesn’t mean we’ll become creators of future worlds and people (since this is never taught in any Scripture) but that we’ll be “partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world” (2. Pet. 1:4), that is, we’ll share the eternal life and glory of the one and only sovereign God in the Beatific Vision – “we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2).


#3

The Church

To be a Latter-day Saint is to believe that Jesus Christ founded a Church and to ardently wish to be as faithful as possible to the teaching authority of that Church. This seems to follow logically from the fact that the Church has been revealed to be the Body of Christ Himself (1. Cor. 12), so that unity with the Church is unity with Christ, the Head of the Body. Latter-day Saints also understand that the Church would not be free from great trials, most significantly, an apostasy. But to believe in Christ and to belong to His Church is to be a member of the Catholic Church, since the Catholic Church is historically the Church that has come down to us from the apostles. To believe the teachings of Christ regarding the Church He founded is to recognize that the Church itself would never apostatize so as to disappear from the face of the earth. Jesus assured Peter, the Rock: “upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matth. 16:18). Sure, there would be an apostasy, but the apostasy would be an apostasy from the Church, not an apostasy of the Church. Jesus promised to be with His Church ”always, even unto the end of the world” (Matth. 28:20), He promised that the Holy Spirit would abide with the Church “for ever” (John 14:16) and guide the Church “into all truth” (John 16:13). Thus to believe in Jesus’ teaching about the Church is to reject the idea that the Holy Spirit guided the Church in “all truth” only for a century or so before making His comeback after abandoning the Church for 18 centuries. Since Jesus doesn’t lie or fail, the Church was not overcome by the gates of death, and thus has survived down to our age, which means there was no need for a restoration, which in turn means that any faithful Latter-day Saint wishing to belong to Christ’s Church would join His Catholic Church.
Furthermore, to be a Latter-day Saint is to believe that the Church of Christ today teaches and believes what the early Church founded by Christ taught and believed. But to believe what the early Church believed is only possible in the Catholic Church, thus it follows that to be a true Latter-day Saint is to be a Catholic. This is due to simple honesty: we have abundant evidence of the beliefs of the early Church from the writings of Christians that were personally taught and ordained by the apostles and who were most certainly not apostates, so it is actually very easy to know what the early Church really believed. From these historical documents it can be demonstrated that the early Church had no distinctively Mormon beliefs at all (plurality of gods, eternal progression, God having a body, pre-earthly existence of man, a ban on alcohol, tea, coffee etc., a prophet leading the Church, the Aaronic and Melchisedek priesthoods, celestial marriages, endowment ceremonies, baptisms for the dead, three heavenly kingdoms, black skin being a curse, a symbolic Sacrament, age of accountability, etc.), while it can be proven beyond doubt that already the very first Christians’ faith was distinctively Catholic, including doctrines like the primacy of the Bishop of Rome as valid successor of St.Peter, Apostolic succession, the Real Presence of the True Body and Blood of Jesus Christ in the Most Blessed Sacrament, the sacrificial nature of the Eucharist, the threefold priesthood (bishops, presbyters and deacons), etc. Thus mere loyalty to the ardent will to serve Christ in the Church He founded on the foundation of the apostles requires the Latter-day Saint to join the Holy Catholic Church, for, as St.Ignatius of Antioch (successor of Peter as bishop of Antioch and contemporary and perhaps disciple of St. John) wrote in the first decade of the second century: “Where the bishop appears, there let the people be, just as where Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church.”
To be a Latter-day Saint is to appreciate God’s gift of revelation to His people through prophets, apostles and most notably Jesus Christ, and submit to their teachings. But to submit to the teachings of Jesus and the apostles regarding prophets and revelation is to realize that “the prophets were until John [the Baptist]” (Luke 16:16) and that the faith “was once [for all] delivered unto the saints” (Jude 1:3), which undercuts the Mormon claim that Joseph Smith was a prophet like those of the Old Testament and that the faith was delivered twice, first to the original saints of the early Church and then to the Latter-day Saints in its fullness. The Church founded by Christ has always been the “pillar and ground of the truth” (1. Tim. 3:15), in no need of new contradictory revelations.


#4

Family values

To be a Latter-day Saint is to be extremely pro-family and pro-life, which is laudable indeed. A true Latter-day Saint recognizes that life is a sacred gift from God and thus must be protected from the beginning to the end, and that families are the basic unit of society and thus deserve care, attention, dedication, support and protection in order that good citizens, happy people and holy souls might come from them. To be a Latter-day Saint is also to wish to be with one’s spouse forever, even after the resurrection. But to recognize the true value of married life one must be a Catholic, since only the Catholic Church sees marriage as Jesus saw it – together with the other side of the coin, namely, celibacy. The Mormon Church praises marriage to the exclusion of celibacy – celibacy is not encouraged, and a sealed marriage is even a necessary ordinance in order to progress to godhood one day. Christ, on the contrary, taught celibacy is for all those who can choose it for heaven’s sake: “there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.” (Matth. 19:12) St. Paul, unmarried himself like Jesus (who nevertheless progressed to godhood), teaches the same: “I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I. But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn.” (1. Cor. 7:8-9) He repeats over and over again the Christian preference of celibacy over marriage (1. Cor. 7:1,6,7,24,27-28,32-34,38), words that would be absolutely unimaginable on any Mormon’s lips, since they so forcefully contradict the LDS view of marriage. Nevertheless this is the biblical view, the apostolic view, Jesus’ view, and indeed, the view of the Catholic Church. Concerning marriage after death, the Catholic Church gives an even better guarantee for spouses to be together in heaven than the Mormon Church, since the Catholic Church proclaims only one heaven, where all the faithful will go, whereas the Mormon spouses might be trapped in different heavens and thus lose the chance of being together forever. However, the Catholic Church explicitly contradicts the Mormon claim that the spouses will continue to be married after the resurrection (and that dead married couples could get eternally married through temple ceremonies performed by living believers), since this flies in the face of the teachings of Jesus: “The children of this world marry, and are given in marriage: But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage.” (Luke 20:34-35) Or, as Mark renders it: “ye know not the scriptures…For when they shall rise from the dead, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage; but are as the angels which are in heaven…ye therefore do greatly err.” (Mark. 12:24-27) This makes it painfully clear that the LDS Church can have no claim to being the Church of Jesus Christ, since if Christ had really taught Mormonism, He would have had a perfect chance here to tell His inquirers about celestial marriages - that there in fact was marriage (even polygamy!) after the resurrection and that the married gods would then become the Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother of their own world. However, Latter-day Saints are right in believing that we actually do have a Heavenly Mother. They only need to realize that Scripture actually reveals her identity to us. Jesus Himself gives Her to us, saying: “Behold thy mother!“ (John 19:27) The Apocalypse shows us a woman in heaven (Rev. 12:1), the Mother of Jesus (Rev. 12:5), who also has other children (“the remnant of her seed”), namely those who “keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Rev. 12:17). Since being a Latter-day Saint is having the testimony of Jesus and believing in a Heavenly Mother, to be a true and sincere Latter-day Saint is to accept the heavenly motherhood of Mary Most Holy and embrace the teaching of the Catholic Church.
Furthermore, to be as extremely pro-life as Christ and the apostles were is also to be a Catholic. Jesus knew well that divorce and remarriage are essentially contrary to the eternal law since couples are indissolubly united by the marital bond: “But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder…And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her. And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery.” (Mark. 10:6-12)


#5

Contrarily to the Founder and Savior of its alleged Founder, the Mormon Church often allows divorce and remarriage (adultery) for various reasons, while the Catholic Church, always true to Christ, the Head of the Church, proclaims the absolute indissolubility of Holy Matrimony. Since marriage is a figure of Christ’s (always faithful) relationship to the Church (cf. Eph. 5:25-32) it can never be broken. It seems that the Mormon Church’s blindness to Christ’s condemnation of divorce comes from the fact that the Mormon Church believes in a divorcing Christ (who withdrew the “keys” of authority from the Church after a century of marriage) – in reality it is the Mormon Church itself that is a divorcée, having abandoned the teachings of Christ and married those of Joseph Smith. The Catholic Church also condemns abortion in every single case, since murdering innocent life can never be justified by temporal benefits. This was demonstrably the faith of the early Church. In contrast, the Mormon Church actually allows abortion (although many of its members are unaware of this horribly reality) in many cases (According to the General Handbook of Instructions - rape, genetic disorders as well as the almost all-inclusive category of danger to the mother’s “health”). Yet the same Church is adamant in forbidding tea, smoking, gambling, etc. Latter-day Saints wish to be pro-life and portray themselves as such, but in reality the Church practices a terrible double morality. Therefore it is clear that to be truly pro-life, one must be a Catholic.

Prayer, Ordinances and Sacraments

To be a Latter-day Saint is to lead a life of prayer, giving thanks to God for all His good deeds and asking Him to bless our earthly journey. But to be a soul of prayer in the most profound sense, one must be a Catholic, for it is the Catholic tradition that the Lord has endowed with unimaginable riches of the art of prayer – praise and contrition, thanksgiving and petition. The Mormon Church seems to focus on the latter ones while often ignoring the former (and more important) ones. To be a prayerful Christian is to recognize the value of liturgical prayer, since that was the prayer of the early Church (whose roots were in a profoundly liturgical Jewish tradition). Latter-day Saints’ way of praying, while praiseworthy, betrays the Church’s Protestant origins. The most astounding fact is that Mormons fail to pray the Lord’s Prayer despite Christ’s exhortation: “After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven…” (Matth. 6:9) Or, according to Luke: “When ye pray, say ye: Our Father which art in heaven…” (Luke 11:2).
To be a Latter-day Saint is also to have a great appreciation of the various ordinances instituted by Christ in the Church. But to be able to fully appreciate these gifts it is necessary to adjust the Mormon view a tiny bit and understand that seven of these ordinances are signs of effective grace (“sacraments”), as is evident in Scripture. In Baptism we are born again (John 3:5), in Confirmation we receive the fullness of the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:17), as the Latter-day Saints rightly confess. Though Latter-day Saints go to their bishop for a talk in the case of grave sins, they should acknowledge that Christ gave his ministers the power to actually truly remit sin (John 20:23). Mormon elders also administer to the sick, so it will not be hard for a Latter-day Saint to understand that the Anointing of the Sick is a sacrament, since Scripture explicitly promises God’s support for those who receive it (Jas. 5:14-15). Mormons realize the value of marriage and the priesthood, but following the word of God they should regard marriage as an indissoluble “mystery” (the Greek word for “sacrament”) (Eph. 5:32, Mark. 10:6-12) and the priesthood as essentially connected to the concept of sacrifice (cf. Hebrews, Leviticus). One cannot fully grasp the priesthood of the New Covenant unless one understands the Sacrificial nature of the Most Blessed Sacrament. The Latter-day Saint has great appreciation of the weekly Sacrament, in which the Last Supper and the Passion, Death and Resurrection of our Lord are recalled. But to truly appreciate the Most Holy Sacrament it is indispensable to be a Catholic, since it is in the Catholic Eucharist that Christ truly gives His Most Sacred Body and Blood for the life of the world. The Mormon doctrine of bread and wine (incredibly enough later changed to water despite clear scriptural evidence that Christ Himself used wine) being mere symbols of the body and blood of Christ again betrays the Mormon religion’s Protestant origins (this doctrine was a Protestant invention unheard in the first millennium of Christianity). The above-mentioned Ignatius of Antioch wrote: “the Eucharist is the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, flesh which suffered for our sins”.


#6

Jesus and Paul proclaimed in no uncertain terms that the Eucharist is truly the flesh and blood of Christ (John 6:48-60, 1. Cor. 11:27-29), and contrarily to the teaching of the Mormon Church, it is necessary for salvation (John 6:53-54). Jesus’ use of highly sacrificial language (“This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me…This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you”) at a sacrificial meal (the Passover) concerning an upcoming sacrifice (the Cross) as well as Paul’s teaching of the Eucharist as a sacrifice (1. Cor. 10:16-21) makes it clear that the Eucharist is really the Sacrifice of Jesus’ Body and Blood for the life of the world. Christ has loved the Latter-day Saints more than they could have imagined by making it possible for all believers in all ages to become one with Him through the Sacrament of His true Body and Blood. Christ has stayed with His Saints personally and physically in the Eucharist, waiting to be received by all who wish to have a share in His Body, the Body that suffered for us and saved us, the Body that is the Church, the Body that lovingly awaits us in every Catholic tabernacle.
In conclusion, a Latter-day Saint entering the Catholic Church would not have to abandon but embrace and put into practice even more truly the deep desire to know, love and serve God and His Son, to belong to His Church, to be pro-life and pro-family, and to worship God through a life of prayer and through the ordinances instituted by Christ. In these latter days, it is in the Catholic Church, which has produced the greatest Saints in history and which calls all men to sanctity (cf. 1. Thess. 4:3, The II Vatican Council), that the Latter-day Saint can be a true Latter-day Saint.


#7

Ok, it turned out to be so long that I’ll just put a link instead of the whole thing on the apologetics forum:)


#8

fineca,
Very well done!
Paul (a former Mormon)


#9

fineca,
Well done indeed! Amen to what you said. As an ex-Mormon, I heartily agree!!!

in Christ
Steph


#10

Dear Paul and Steph, thank you so much for your feedback! I met a Swedish (Sweden is next to Finland where I live) Mormon missionary yesterday and he was very interested in my essay and said he’d try to write a response to it. The other missionary I met was from Latvia and he was more triumphant and convinced I was all wrong. I wonder though why God’s truth isn’t evident enough to convince sincere men of God…what do you think - have you witnessed to Mormons since your conversion? What has been your experience? They seem a lot more open than eg. Jehovah’s Witnesses, but yet it’s almost impossible to convince them there was no apostasy, since they rely on the burning in the bosom more than history. As ex-mormons, what do you think about the burning in the bosom? Did you have it in the Mormon Church? Do you have it now? And the influence of the Holy Spirit? They say they feel it…did you, as confirmed Mormons? Do you now? Do you know any good conversion stories from Mormonism to Catholicism that you could recommend (have you written one yourself?) for me to translate and publish on my Finnish Catholic apologetics website? Thank you - and here’s a revised version of the beginning of my essay - Thanks, Emil.

To be a Latter-day Saint is to desire to know, love and serve the Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, and through Him have eternal life. There is hardly a more glorious and noble purpose to this life than that, so we can truly say that the Latter-day Saint does well in recognizing that Jesus Christ is the Way to the Father, Truth, and Life (cf. John 14:6), as revealed to us in the New Testament and as prophesied by the prophets of the Old.

A Latter-day Saint would agree that to be able to truly know God the Father and His Son it is necessary to believe what Jesus revealed to us in the New Testament. According to Jesus’ own words the most important commandment is: “Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.” (Mark. 12:29-30) First on Jesus’ list is the truth of the nature or identity of God, which is then followed by the commandment to love Him.


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