Your Notre Dame Mormon on The Church of the Devil


#1

Is it true that Mormon’s believe the Catholic Church is the church of the devil? Didn’t Joseph Smith claim that the other religions were all corrupt and an abomination in the sight of God?

Thank you for your questions.

The direct answers are:

No, and that is not what he said.

The fallacy that the Catholic Church is the church of the devil is rooted in an all too convenient misinterpretation of 1 Nephi 13 & 14. In those chapters of the Book of Mormon, Nephi is shown a vision in which he sees the world, it’s kingdoms, the Church of God, and the great and abominable church of the devil.

*“And he said unto me: Behold there are save two churches only; the one is the church of the Lamb of God, and the other is the church of the devil; wherefore, whoso belongeth not to the church of the Lamb of God belongeth to that great church, which is the mother of abominations; and she is the whore of all the earth.” *(1 Nephi 14:10)

Nephi notes that the church of the devil:

[LIST]
]Slays the saints of God]Desires the wealth of the world*]Takes away parts of the Gospel*]Perverts the ways of the Lord*]Blinds the eyes and hardens the hearts of men*]Gathers multitudes to fight the Lamb of God
[/LIST]

“While the book of Revelation does not use the exact phrase “great and abominable church,” both John and Nephi use a number of similar phrases to describe it. They call it the “Mother of Harlots, and Abominations,” “mother of abominations,” and “the whore that sitteth upon many waters.” (Rev. 17:1, 5; 1 Ne. 14:10–11.)…

In either the apocalyptic sense or the historical sense, individual orientation to the Church of the Lamb or to the great and abominable church is not by membership but by loyalty. Just as there Latter-day Saints who belong to the great and abominable church because of their loyalty to Satan and his life-style, so there are members of other churches who belong to the Lamb because of their loyalty to him and his life-style. Membership is based more on who has your heart than on who has your records.

Some Latter-day Saints have erred in believing that some specific denomination, to the exclusion of all others, has since the beginning of time been the great and abominable church…some have suggested that the Roman Catholic church might be the great and abominable church of Nephi 13. This is also untenable, primarily because Roman Catholicism as we know it did not yet exist when the crimes described by Nephi were being committed…

Actually, no single known historical church, denomination, or set of believers meets all the requirements for the great and abominable church…Rather, the role of Babylon has been played by many different agencies, ideologies, and churches in many different times…” Stephen E. Robinson, “Warring against the Saints of God,” Ensign, Jan 1988, 34

As the Lord has said,

*“But it is they who do not fear me, neither keep my commandments but build up churches unto themselves to get gain, yea, and all those that do wickedly and build up the kingdom of the devil—yea, verily, verily, I say unto you, that it is they that I will disturb, and cause to tremble and shake to the center." *(D&C 10:56)

The LDS view the Catholic Church, and all other churches seeking to do right, as part of the Church of the Lamb of God. The LDS Church says, as did Christ:

*“For he that is not against us is on our part.” *(Mark 9:40)

For the second question, a number of ministers visiting an LDS temple open house made “a demand for President Hinckley to justify the declaration mentioned in Joseph Smith’s testimony, as he beheld the Father and the Son, that those professors of religion were all corrupt. President Hinckley responded that the Lord did not say that.

…By reading the passage carefully, we find that the Lord Jesus Christ was referring only to that particular group of ministers in the Prophet Joseph Smith’s community who were quarreling and arguing about which church was true…Wm. Grant Bangerter, “It’s a Two-Way Street,” Ensign, July 1986, 66

To new converts of the LDS Church this month, President Hinckley said:

“You know and we know that there are many good people in other churches. There is much of good in them. Your family and your prior religious traditions may have taught you many good things and established many good habits. As the Apostle Paul said, “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good” (1 Thes. 5:21). Bring the good things with you, keep them, and use them in the Lord’s service.” "A Perfect Brightness of Hope: To New Members of the Church,” Ensign, Oct. 2006, 3


#2

part of the story…once again. Joseph Smith said very specifically that all their CREEDS were an abomonation in the sight of God. Localized or not we know that they included the nicene and apostles creeds.

The explanation of nephi’s vision might hold water if it were not for the fact that it tells us that there are only two churches, Gods and the devils. I would also point out that an ordained “prophet, seer and revelator” (Bruce R. Mconkie) pointed the finger directly at the Catholic Church in the original “Mormon Doctrine”. Now in fairness that has since been removed but it makes one wonder about the “official” position of the LDS church on this. Those of us who remember the sectarian minister in the pre-1990 Temple Endowment know that in Mormonisms most sacred teaching the non-LDS clergy were portrayed as ignorant hirelings of Satan.

I am not surprised at the PR spin that veteran adman Gordon B Hinkley puts on this but Joseph Smith’s canonized “version” of this makes no such caveats. Previous LDS Presidents appear silent on this except for the early ones who were quite vocal about there only being two churches, God’s and Satan’s. Look to the Journal of Discoursed where talks given in General Conference by “Apostles” call the Catholic Church the whore of Babylon and the protestant churches “her harlot daughters”. (Orson Pratt for starters) Mconkie didn’t come up with his ideas in a vacuum. He learned them from his priesthood leaders.


#3

You can say a lot about Mormons but this is one thing that is not true. They think of Cathilics just like they think of all other “apostacied” religions. Catholics to them are just easy prey for conversion, but otherwise not really any worse than any other non-Mormon cult.


#4

Some quotes to consider:

"Both Catholics and Protestants are nothing less than the “whore of Babylon” whom the Lord denounces… as having corrupted all the earth by their fornications and wickedness. And any person who shall be so wicked as to receive a holy ordinance of the gospel from the ministers of any of these apostate churches will be sent down to hell with them, unless they repent of the unholy and impious act. If any penitent believer desires to obtain forgiveness of sins through baptism, let him beware of having any thing to do with the churches of apostate Christendom, lest he perish in the awful plagues and judgments, denounced against them. The only persons among all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people who have authority from Jesus Christ to administer any gospel ordinance are those called and authorized among the Latter-day Saints. Before the restoration of the church of Christ to the earth in the year 1830, there have been no people on the earth for many generations possessing authority from God to minister gospel ordinances. We again repeat. Beware of the hypocritical false teachers and imposters of Babylon!

  • The Seer, Vol.2, No.4, p.255

And another one:

“The Roman Catholic, Greek, and Protestant church is the great corrupt ecclesiastic power, represented by great Babylon which has made all nations drunk with her wickedness, and she must fall, after she has been warned with the sound of the everlasting gospel. Her overthrow will be by a series of the most terrible judgments which will quickly succeed each other, and sweep over the nations where she has her dominion, and at last she will be utterly burned by fire, for thus hath the Lord spoken. Great, and fearful, and most terrible judgments are decreed upon these corrupt powers, the nations of modern Christendom; for strong is the Lord God who shall execute His fierce wrath upon them, and He will not cease until He has made a full end, and until their names be blotted out from under heaven.”

  • Apostle Orson Pratt, Divine Authenticity of the Book of Mormon, p.84 - p.85

And again"

She is termed, in other places, by the same prophet, “The whore of all the earth,” making the nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication. Some three centuries ago there came out sortie excellent men, named Martin Lather, John Calvin and many others that might be mentioned, who protested against the wickedness and abominations of the Church wherein they had been educated, and of which they had been members. Because of their protestations against the mother Church they were called Protestants. They pronounced her the whore of all the earth; they declared that she had no authority, that she had none of the blessings and gifts which characterized the ancient Christians. They came out and established other Churches… But among all these Churches where are the characteristics of Zion? We hunt for them in vain."

  • Apostle Orson Pratt, Journal of Discourses Vol. 14, p.346

The consistent teaching of the LDS Church for 176 years has been that only the LDS Church is the Church of God, the rest are the church of the devil.


#5

Don’t get ahead of yourself. You are attributing to the LDS Church exactly what is says it does not believe. A few random quotes from individuals gives us little since it is already affirmed that some have incorrectly taught this skewed doctrine.

Again,

"Some Latter-day Saints have erred in believing that some specific denomination, to the exclusion of all others, has since the beginning of time been the great and abominable church…some have suggested that the Roman Catholic church might be the great and abominable church of Nephi 13. This is also untenable, primarily because Roman Catholicism as we know it did not yet exist when the crimes described by Nephi were being committed…

Actually, no single known historical church, denomination, or set of believers meets all the requirements for the great and abominable church…Rather, the role of Babylon has been played by many different agencies, ideologies, and churches in many different times…” Stephen E. Robinson, “Warring against the Saints of God,” Ensign, Jan 1988, 34

This quote leaves room for the accusation that some things the Catholic Church might have done have contributed to the church of the devil, yet at the same time, the source accuses some LDS members of doing the same.


#6

Who had more authority in the LDS Church – Orson Pratt or Stephen Robinson? Stephen Robinson is just a BYU professor. As I remember, Orson Pratt was a President of the Quorum of the Twelve. I’m sure I can find quotes like this from Brigham Young as well if I go looking … Here are some quotes from John Taylor who was once President of the LDS Church:

"The present Christian world exists and continues by division. The MYSTERY of Babylon the great, is mother of harlots and abominations of the earth, and it needs no prophetic vision, to unravel such mysteries. The old church is the mother, and the protestants are the lewd daughters. Alas! alas! what doctrine, what principle, or what scheme, in all, what prayers, what devotion, or what faith, since the fathers have fallen asleep,' has opened the heavens; has brought men into the presence of God; and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to an innumerable company of angels? The answer is, not any:There is none in all christendom that doeth good; no, not one.’

  • Apostle John Taylor, Times and Seasons, Vol.6, No.1, p.811

“Babylon, literally understood, is the gay world; spiritual wickedness, the golden city, and the glory of the world, The priests of Egypt, who received a portion gratis from Pharaoh; the priests of Baal, and the Pharisees, and Sadducees, with their “long robes,” among the Jews, are equally included in their mother’s family, with the Roman Catholics, Protestants, and all that have not had the keys of the kingdom and power thereof, according to the ordinances of God.”

  • Prophet John Taylor, Times and Seasons, Vol.6, No.1, p.939

#7

to NDM’s point, correct there is room for the current LDS leaders to claim that no SINGLE church fits Nephi’s description but the consistent message has been that collectively ALL other churches do.

I would hardly classify the writings to the entire LDS church of an Apostle under the direction of the first presidency and general authorities talks in general conference “a few random quotes from individuals”.


#8

Brother, please.

The LDS Church has long held that the *Journal of Discourses *is not canon and is unreliable as a source for doctrine of the Church. The Church affirmatively disavowed The Seer back in 1865. I think you know that.

The Proclamation of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said The Seer "contain[s] doctrines which we cannot sanction, and which we have felt impressed to disown, so that the Saints who now live, and who may live hereafter, may not be misled by our silence, or be left to misinterpret it. Where these objectionable works, or parts of works, are bound in volumes, or otherwise, they should be cut out and destroyed; with proper care this can be done without much, if any, injury to the volumes…

It ought to have been known, years ago, by every person in the Church—for ample teachings have been given on the point—that no member of the Church has the right to publish any doctrines, as the doctrines of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, without first submitting them for examination and approval to the First Presidency and the Twelve. There is but one man upon the earth, at one time, who holds the keys to receive commandments and revelations for the Church, and who has the authority to write doctrines by way of commandment unto the Church. And any man who so far forgets the order instituted by the Lord as to write and publish what may be termed new doctrines, without consulting with the First Presidency of the Church respecting them, places himself in a false position, and exposes himself to the power of darkness by violating his Priesthood…

While upon this subject, we wish to warn all the Elders of the Church, and to have it clearly understood by the members, that, in the future, whoever publishes any new doctrines without first taking this course, will be liable to lose his Priesthood."

Elder Pratt responded:

To The Saints in All the World.

Dear Brethren,

Permit me to draw your attention to the proclamation of the First Presidency and Twelve, published in the Deseret News, and copied into the *Millennial Star *of the 21st inst., in which several publications that have issued from my pen are considered objectionable. I, therefore, embrace the present opportunity of publicly expressing my most sincere regret, that I have ever published the least thing which meets with the disapprobation of the highest authorities of the Church; and I do most cordially join with them in the request, that you should make such dispositions of the publications alluded to, as counselled in their proclamation."

London,
Oct. 25, 1865
ORSON PRATT, Sen.

The Ensign magazine is an official publication of the LDS Church.

"Church magazines draw their content from a wide range of authors and contributors, in addition to those who serve as professional staff members. Those items that are published in the magazines receive not only the scrutiny and judgment of the editing staffs, but are also subject to clearance by the Correlation Review committees. Committee members are called as a result of their expertise in such areas as Church doctrine, Church history, and Church administration…

Much care is exercised to make certain that the official publications of the Church carry messages that are sound in doctrine and fully in harmony with currently approved policies and procedures. A constant effort is maintained to upgrade and correct the content of these materials so that they can merit the confidence and approval of Church leaders and the general membership." Dean L. Larsen, “I Have a Question,” Ensign, Aug. 1977, 38

So, to answer your question, Elder Pratt’s assertions, retracted, and at best, unreliable for doctrine, has significantly less authority than Brother Robinson’s assertions, which after having been scrutized by authorities in Church doctrine, history, and administration, is distributed worldwide in an official publication of the Church.


#9

All other churches that fight against the Lamb of God. Do you think that includes the Catholic Church? I don’t. It may apply to a few priests and members who seek to thwart the work of God that the LDS Church does. But I do not believe the Catholic Church as a whole does that, do you?

The key concept seems to me to be that where we come together to follow Christ and to help one another to that end, we are the Church of the Lamb of God. Where we seek to thwart one another from living the Gospel, we are the church of the devil.

Perhaps the difference you are referring to is that only one can be the true church and the rest are askew. I think that is a whole separate issue than the current Church of the Lamb v. church of the devil distinction.


#10

Don’t you think that sending missionaries door to door to try to convert active Catholics may indeed thwart the work the Catholic Church does? And if the Catholic Church defends itself by sending out what it believes is the truth about Mormonism, that is seen as thwarting the work of God? The Catholic Church seems to play defense more than it plays offense. I was proselyted by Mormon missionaries, but never once had a Catholic proselyte me directly.


#11

It is only thwarting if it seeks to inhibit the truth of God and turn people from Christ. The LDS Church, by teaching the Gospel of Christ out of the Bible, prepares people for truth the Catholic Church will bring them, or vice versa. Seeking to improve someone’s pursuit of Christ is not thwarting it, hence, President Hinckley’s statement above. It is common direction and a heart to serve God that bring the two Churches under the umbrella of the Church of the Lamb of God.

Again, the key concept seems to be that where we come together to follow Christ and to help one another to that end, we are the Church of the Lamb of God. Where we seek to thwart one another from living the Gospel, we are the church of the devil.


#12

I suggest you try passing that idea along to the General Authorities in Salt Lake City and see what kind of response you get from them.


#13

In 1820, according to Smith, there was a great religious revival in his area. He couldn’t decide which of the many sects was right, so after reading the biblical instruction that any who lacked wisdom should “ask of God” (James 1:5), he retired to a nearby grove to pray. While thus engaged he was visited by two personages who identified themselves as God the Father and Jesus Christ. They told him to not join any of the religions because “they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof” (Pearl of Great Price, Joseph Smith–History, 1:19).

:confused:


#14

“My beloved brothers and sisters, on behalf of the worldwide membership of this Church, I extend to our Catholic neighbors and friends our heartfelt sympathy at this time of great sorrow. Pope John Paul II has worked tirelessly to advance the cause of Christianity, to lift the burdens of the poor, and to speak fearlessly in behalf of moral values and human dignity. He will be greatly missed, particularly by the very many who have looked to him for leadership.” Gordon B. Hinckley, “Opening Remarks,” Ensign, May 2005, 4

"We must not become disagreeable as we talk of doctrinal differences. There is no place for acrimony. But we can never surrender or compromise that knowledge which has come to us through revelation and the direct bestowal of keys and authority under the hands of those who held them anciently. Let us never forget that this is a restoration of that which was instituted by the Savior of the world. It is not a reformation of perceived false practice and doctrine that may have developed through the centuries.

We can respect other religions, and must do so. We must recognize the great good they accomplish. We must teach our children to be tolerant and friendly toward those not of our faith. We can and do work with those of other religions in the defense of those values which have made our civilization great and our society distinctive.

For instance, there recently came to my office a Protestant minister who is a most effective leader in the unending battle against pornography. We are grateful for him. We join with him and his associates. We give financial support to his organization.

We can and do work with those of other religions in various undertakings in the everlasting fight against social evils which threaten the treasured values which are so important to all of us. These people are not of our faith, but they are our friends, neighbors, and co-workers in a variety of causes. We are pleased to lend our strength to their efforts.

But in all of this there is no doctrinal compromise. There need not be and must not be on our part. But there is a degree of fellowship as we labor together." Gordon B. Hinckley, “We Bear Witness of Him,” Ensign, May 1998, 4

“While one portion of the human race is judging and condemning the other without mercy, the Great Parent of the Universe looks upon the whole of the human family with a fatherly care and paternal regard; he views them as his offspring, and without any of those contracted feelings that influence the children of men. … He will judge them, ‘not according to what they have not, but according to what they have,’ those who have lived without law, will be judged without law, and those who have law, will be judged by that law … [by] their means of obtaining intelligence, the laws by which they are governed, the facilities afforded them of obtaining correct information, and His inscrutable designs in relation to the human family.” Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 218.


#15

I disagree as it is frequently quoted in current LDS teaching manuals. Let’s remember what it was, a collection of talks given in general conference by the general authorities of the LDS church. If that is unreliable for doctrine then I would submit that John Taylor and Brigham Young could not have been true prophets as they were sitting in the role of president of the LDS church during the time it was written and all of the quotes came from men whom were at that time ordained as prophets, seers and revelators.

careful now, there’s a slippery slope. The first presidency commissioned the Seer. It was originally published in a serialized format like the times and seasons and the millenial star. CERTAIN sections ended up being classified as Orson Pratt’s own erroneous opinions. The below quote supports that. I think this calls into question the prophet, seer and revelator function of LDS Apostles as Orson Pratt was NOT an apostate but an obedient member of the quorum who as you can see from this quote was trying his best to teach doctrine. (similarities to Mconkie?) So specific doctrines in the Seer need specific refutations and even then what was going on with the restoration for this confusion to occur?

(continued)


#16

I don’t believe this for a minute. I’ve never heard the LDS church say this, I don’t think it’s written anywhere, and I think you error greatly as an LDS to say it. No LDS I’ve ever known has made this claim.

…By reading the passage carefully, we find that the Lord Jesus Christ was referring only to that particular group of ministers in the Prophet Joseph Smith’s community who were quarreling and arguing about which church was true…Wm. Grant Bangerter, “It’s a Two-Way Street,” Ensign, July 1986, 66

Oh give us a break already! Does this author really expect us to believe that? Do Mormons really believe that? I don’t buy it for a second. I think it’s nothing more than an attempt to smooth things over after decades of the LDS church separating itself from the rest of Christianity. We all know perfectly well what Joseph Smith was trying to say. One can’t re-interpret this passage over 150 years later to mean something different than what Mormons believed all along (and still profess)–that all the other professors of the various Christian denominations were corrupt and their creeds were an abomination (not just the ones in upstate New York in 1830). Missionaries don’t teach that this only applied to the local churches in Joseph Smith’s town. I find the author’s claim to be rather patronizing.

NotreDameMormon, I appreciate your tone and your willingness to see the good everywhere, but I think you are really being unrealistic here. On the one hand you have to believe that the church completely aposticized in the first century, corrupted the bible, corrupted Christ’s teachings, etc. On the other hand you are trying to tell us that we are all part of the Church of the Lamb of God. You can’t have it both ways. You are stradling a fence and need to come down on one side or the other.


#17

(continued)

The Ensign magazine is an official publication of the LDS Church.

"Church magazines draw their content from a wide range of authors and contributors, in addition to those who serve as professional staff members. Those items that are published in the magazines receive not only the scrutiny and judgment of the editing staffs, but are also subject to clearance by the Correlation Review committees. Committee members are called as a result of their expertise in such areas as Church doctrine, Church history, and Church administration…

Much care is exercised to make certain that the official publications of the Church carry messages that are sound in doctrine and fully in harmony with currently approved policies and procedures. A constant effort is maintained to upgrade and correct the content of these materials so that they can merit the confidence and approval of Church leaders and the general membership." Dean L. Larsen, “I Have a Question,” Ensign, Aug. 1977, 38

So, to answer your question, Elder Pratt’s assertions, retracted, and at best, unreliable for doctrine, has significantly less authority than Brother Robinson’s assertions, which after having been scrutized by authorities in Church doctrine, history, and administration, is distributed worldwide in an official publication of the Church. I disagree here as well. Apostle v. media relations dept. Pratt did NOT disavow all of the doctirnes espoused in the seer nor did Brigham Young. We can see both of their opinions expressed in other writings and see the cumulative effect of generations of inculcation of these teachings in the writngs of subsequent LDS Apostles and prophets such as Joseph Fielding Smith, Mark E. Petersen, Bruce R. Mconkie, etc.

I don’t think you got a truly “kinder, gentler” LDS church until David O. Mckay and even then I think many of the conservative leaders held to the original doctrines right up through Ezra T. Benson. Only with Gordon Hinkley do you get the pseudo-ecumenism with we really don’t understand those old doctrines so let’s not worry about them approach.


#18

this is patronizing at best and in my opinion a comlpete insult. One could say the same about pagans or atheists. This explicitly states that the doctrine is the same…that other churches are based on false doctrines and practices.

I still point out the original Temple Endowment that graphically portrayed ALL non-LDS clergy as hirelings of Satan. This does nothing to refute that it only says Pres. Hinkley wishes LDS to be polite to the “heathens” as sometimes they have the same position on cetain initiatives.

ToPJS quote is even worse it says if you didn’t have the opportunity to hear the LDS gospel then you get judged on what you did have available (with the assumption that you accept LDS missionaries in the spirit world and the LDS on earth perform your ordinances for you) but if you decided against being LDS you don’'t get that. Basically you’re either LDS in this life or the next or you go to hell.


#19

I am afraid if you google it you will find many quotes by early lds leaders that portray Catholicism in the vilest terms. They certainly understood Nephi to refer to the Catholic Church. The modern lds church wants to soften that. That’s fine by me. But the fact is that it was what they did teach. So just fess up and admit those early apostles were wrong. It is certainly wrong to sanitize history. Maybe this will lead to a repudiation of the “great apostasy theory” and the need for a “restoration.”


#20

I don’t see the early LDS positon being denounced by the current. Look carefully at the wording of NDM’s quotes. Even Prof. Robinson tells that no SINGLE church meets ALL of the requirements, seeming to play into the ideology that collectively ALL other churches form the abominable church of the devil. As to working against the lamb of God… if one truly considers the LDS church to be the church of God and the BoM to be true then other churches that in any way divert people in to their own churches instead of the LDS would appear to meet that definition.

The message is consistent from Joseph Smith on down:

ALL of their creeds are an abomination, ALL other churches are apostate…SO apostate that ALL authority to act in Gods name has been stripped from them.

DO you remember when Jesus’ Apostles told him about the folks not in their “group” who were casting out devils in Jesus name? do you remember the Apostles wanted them to stop? What did Jesus say? you see that forms the basis of ecumenism that we see in the Catholic church. We recognize valid baptisms and in some cases even more from other churches. Joseph Smith based his church on the premise that ALL other churches were unsalvageable. The LDS church still starts out on this foot. All we see now is a more “polite” version of the same message.

Where in any LDS doctrinally authorative writing can we see any refutation of canonized statement that “ALL their creeds are an abomination”?


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.