Crazy Mormon Beliefs
I’ve written on a number of different topics here on the blog. One of the brief series I did was entitled “Crazy Mormon Beliefs” and focused on different aspects of Mormonism and put them into context. Since that time, the majority of people who come to this blog are those searching for “weird” or “crazy” Mormon beliefs.
So to those of you who are searching for that and coming across this blog, I’m curious. Are you looking for information about specific Mormon beliefs that you’ve heard are “weird”, “crazy” or “strange”? Or have you just heard that Mormons believe differently than traditional Christianity and want to find out what the fuss is all about?
Are there specific beliefs that you’ve heard that you would want to hear more about from a believing and practicing Mormon that I haven’t already written about? If so, I’d be interested in writing more about the topics you suggest because they are probably the same ones shared by many of the other visitors who come to my blog.
Please leave your thoughts and comments (as always, I trust that you’ll be thoughtful and respectful).
Have you ever heard Glenn Beck’s story of how he converted to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (”Mormonism”)? Since he’s one of the most popular talk-show hosts in the United States, you’ve probably heard Beck talk about politics, the economy and social issues. Now listen in as he discusses a far more important topic–his religious journey that brought him to the truth.
If you ever talk to a Mormon missionary, they will likely invite you to read the Book of Mormon and to pray to know whether it is true or not. Mormons believe that the Holy Spirit will testify to you that it is true when asked with faith and sincerity. How can you know it is the Holy Spirit? Galatians 5:22-23 teach us that the “fruits of the Spirit” are things like love, joy, peace, gentleness, etc. Some members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints refer to the confirmation that they receive through the Spirit as a “burning in the bosom”. However, each person may receive this confirmation differently through the Spirit.
But wait a minute, is this really how God expects us to seek confirmation of the truth? Before Jesus left, He taught in John 14:26 that “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” Jesus clearly taught that the Holy Ghost can teach us all things–certainly this applies to questions about God’s word and truth!
Through my interactions online, I have even heard other Christans counsel each other not to pray about the Book of Mormon. Now this I definitely don’t understand. Why would you ever tell somebody not to pray? Especially when it’s to ask God for direction. With Latter-day Saints, the invitation is to not accept the word of anybody else, but rather to find out for yourself by asking our Heavenly Father. He will answer through the Holy Spirit and can teach us all things, just as our Savior taught near the end of His mortal ministry.
Did you know that Mormons believe that there are different “levels” in heaven? These are the Celestial kingdom, the Terrestrial kingdom and the Telestial kingdom.
The Celestial kingdom is for those who accepted Jesus, received the necessary ordinances (e.g., baptism) and followed the commandments. The Terrestrial kingdom is for those who lived good lives but did not accept Jesus in their lifetimes. Finally, the Telestial kingdom is for those who did not accept Jesus nor live good lives.
Some might ask whether this belief is really Biblical or not. In 1 Corinthians 15:40-41, Paul refers to these different glories and compares them to the sun, moon and stars, respectively. In addition, Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:2 says, “I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven.” This verse is another Biblical verse referring to the different levels of heaven.
From a theological standpoint, this is not surprising either. We will be judged according to our works and therefore, each one of us will be judged differently. Even if two people both live good lives, they will be judged differently and therefore receive a slightly different level of glory. Remember the “many mansions” that Jesus referred to?
Again, this “crazy Mormon belief” does not appear to be so crazy after all–it is supported specifically by the Bible, generally by the teachings of Jesus, and furthemore by modern-day revelation.
Have you ever heard that Mormons baptize dead people? What’s the deal?
The first part of the answer has to do with baptism in general. When Jesus was on the earth, he led by example and was baptized by John the Baptist. He also taught that a man must be baptized (”born of water”) in order to enter the kindgom of God when asked in John 3.
So what about all the people who never even had the chance to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ in their lifetimes? And what about the others, who may have been baptized but not by the proper authority?
Mormons believe that because God is our Heavenly Father, he would not condemn those who never had the opportunity to be baptized or understand the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Therefore, He prepared a way by which these people could receive the necessary ordinance of baptism to return to live with Him again. A member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, often a descendant of the person, is baptized on behalf of the individual in a Mormon temple. In other words, the baptism if performed by proxy with a living person standing in for the deceased individual.
Well, what if that person doesn’t want to be baptized a Mormon? Mormons believe that the central part of God’s plan is free agency, or the right to choose. Each person will have the opportunity to accept or reject the baptism done on their behalf.
Many other Christians say that this just isn’t Biblical! In fact, the apostle Paul wrote about this practice in 1 Corinthians 15:29. These same Christians often say that those who never even heard about Jesus during their lifetime, at no fault of their own, are therefore damned.
When you really think about it, what’s a crazier belief? 1) That a loving God would damn people who never had the chance to accept Jesus in this lifetime or 2) That a loving God prepared a way for every one of His children to have an equal chance to hear and accept the gospel of Jesus Christ and receive the necessary ordinances to return to His kingdom?
You be the judge.
Ok, so what’s the deal with Mormons having more scripture than the Bible? Haven’t they ever read Revelation 22:18:
For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book.
That seems pretty clear to me! But wait a second, let’s think through this for a minute. John wrote the book of Revelation that is quoted above. Many mainstream Christian scholars now acknowledge that Revelation was likely not the last book of the Bible that was written. Actually, it was probably the first one John wrote, even before the Gospel of John. Does that mean that John will have the plagues of God added to him?
I guess I should also mention that the Bible wasn’t compiled at the time John wrote that in Revelation and wouldn’t be for a long time. Does that mean that John was just writing that for the Book of Revelation and not for the entire Bible then?
Ok, so maybe this isn’t a crazy belief that the Mormons have. Of course John won’t have any plagues added to him, because YES, John was just referring to the Book of Revelation when he wrote that and not the entire Bible. Therefore, this scripture does not rule out further scripture.
Still not convinced, huh? What if we take a look at Deuteronomy 4:2:
Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.
When you compare that scripture with the one in Revelation, there are a lot of similarities. In fact, it sounds like the same warning. But it’s obvious to all Biblical readers that the one in Deuteronomy is referring only to that book of scripture and not the Bible up to that point (or else the rest of the Bible would be null and void).
In the Book of Mormon, in 2 Nephi Chapter 29, the Lord reveals:
Know ye not that there are more nations than one? Know ye not that I, the Lord your God, have created all men, and that I remember those who are upon the isles
of the sea; and that I rule in the heavens above and in the earth beneath; and I bring forth my word unto the children of men, yea, even upon all the nations of the earth?
Wherefore murmur ye, because that ye shall receive more of my word? Know ye not that the testimony of two nations is a witness unto you that I am God, that I remember one nation like unto another? Wherefore, I speak the same words unto one nation like unto another. And when the two nations shall run together the testimony of the two nations shall run together also.
So, what are the key takeaways then? First, nothing in the Bible precludes there being additional scripture if the Lord so commands. Second, the Lord loves and has guided His children in all parts of the world, not just Jerusalem. As a result, this “crazy Mormon belief” of having additional scripture isn’t so crazy after all!
One of the other crazy Mormon beliefs is that they believe there is a living prophet today. Don’t they know that there are no prophets after Christ? Just look at what Jesus taught in Matthew 7:
Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
Actually, what’s most interesting about these scriptures is the fact that Jesus tells his disciples how to distinguish between false prophets (”evil fruit”) and true prophets (”good fruit”). If there were to be no more prophets after Him, couldn’t He just have said, “Anybody claiming to be a prophet is lying.” But instead, He taught us how to recognize a true prophet by the good fruit he bears.
In Amos 3:7, it reads “Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.
Finally and perhaps most importantly, it should come as no surprise that the Lord continues to speak to His children. As a loving Heavenly Father, he wants to help lead and guide His children in this tumultous world. The words of a living prophet can help us avoid the pitfalls and dangers of the world, and return safely to live with our Heavenly Father again.
In fact, I couldn’t agree more with the 19th-century philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson when he boldly declared to the Harvard Divinity School, “It is my duty to say to you that the need was never greater for new revelation than now. The doctrine of inspiration is lost. Miracles, prophesy, the holy life, exist as ancient history only. Men have come to speak of revelation of somewhat long ago given and done, as if God were dead. It is the office of a true teacher to show us that God is, not was, that He speaketh, not spake.”