(MOBILE FRIENDLY)

Mormonism and Eternal Truth

Truth is not only
violated by falsehood;
it may be equally
outraged by silence.
(Henri-Frederic Amiel)

THE LDS VERSION OF ETERNAL LIFE

Mormon teaching is that we have to earn the right to attain eternal life:

“Immortality is assured to all of us through the atonement of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. But eternal life is a personal responsibility we must earn and be worthy of.” (LDS Apostle Delbert L. Stapley, Member of the LDS Quorum of the Twelve, The Path to Eternal Glory, Ensign, July 1973, page 99.)

“ETERNAL” AND “EVERLASTING” LIFE

The New Testament terms “eternal” and “everlasting” have both been translated from the same Greek word. And they have exactly the same meaning. Consequently, the KJV uses them interchangeably. However, for conformity sake most other versions of the Bible stick to the word “eternal.” But either word is correct. (Our dictionaries also give both words the same meaning.) But this doesn’t fit in with Mormon doctrines So they have allocated their own meanings to these terms.

Their definition of “everlasting life” is immortality apart from forgiveness of personal sins. They say that is what Christ’s atonement accomplished (c/f LDS General Salvation); and that forgiveness of personal sins and eternal life have to be earned through obedience to LDS laws and ordinances (c/f LDS Individual Salvation).

Their meaning for “eternal life” is far more complicated. Their claim that God had once been an ordinary mortal man (and prior to that a form of intelligent matter) doesn’t fit in with the Bible’s teaching that He is both eternal and unchangeable. So in order to get around this they have resorted to verbal gymnastics. They maintain that where the Bible uses the wording, the eternal God, “eternal” is a noun, not an adjective. So “eternal” is merely His title, just as “Dr.” and “Mr.” are titles.

“One of the names of God is Eternal; to Enoch the Lord said, ‘Eternal is my name.’ [POGP Moses 7:35], using this designation as a noun and not as an adjective.” Mormon Doctrine, LDS Apostle Bruce R. McConkie, page 233).

“Behold, I am God; a Man of Holiness is my name; Man of Counsel is my name; and Endless and Eternal is my name, also.” (Pearl of Great Price, Moses 7:35)

Eternal life is the name given to the kind of life that our Eternal Father lives. The word eternal, as used in the name eternal life, is a noun and not an adjective. It is one of the formal names of Deity (Moses 1:3, 7:35; D&C 19:11) and has been chosen by him as the particular name to identify the kind of life that he lives. He being God, the life he lives is God’s life; and his name (in the noun sense) being Eternal, the kind of life he lives is eternal life. Thus: God’s life is eternal life; eternal life is God’s life — the expressions are synonymous. … But only those who obey the fulness of the [LDS] gospel law will inherit eternal life (D&C 29:43-44)… Thus those who gain eternal life receive exaltation … They are gods. (Mormon Doctrine, LDS Apostle Bruce R. McConkie, page 237.)

ETERNAL LIFE AS IT APPLIES TO MORMON SALVATION

The LDS teaches two types of salvation, with eternal life tacked on separately, at the end.

First of all there is general salvation, which they say Christ achieved through His atonement. And it is applicable to everybody, without the necessity of having faith in Christ or even believing that there is a God. But all it guarantees is resurrection and a place in the lowest degree of the Mormon heaven, which is not where God and Christ are. Their third article of faith states that “through the atonement all mankind may be saved by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the [LDS] gospel.” This implies that all Christ’s atonement achieved was to open the way for the LDS church to provide a way of salvation from personal sin, through themselves, their laws and ordinances, temple ceremonies, and so on.

Personal salvation, which includes forgiveness of sins, is their second type of salvation, the right to which is earned (as mentioned above) by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the LDS church, plus good works (c/f the Third Article of Faith, Doctrines of Salvation, Volume I, page 134, Articles of Faith by LDS Apostle James Talmage, pages 87, 478-479.)

According to the LDS, eternal life is known as full salvation, and it only comes into the equation after judgment. However, when they talk about salvation it generally has nothing to do with eternal life. And they also teach that one cannot attain either forgiveness of sins or eternal life apart from membership of their church.

“Redemption from personal sins can only be obtained through obedience to the requirements of the [Mormon] gospel, and a life of good works … The Sectarian Dogma of Justification by Faith Alone has exercised an influence for evil (Mormon Apostle James Talmage, Articles of Faith, pages 478-479).

There is no salvation without accepting Joseph Smith as a prophet of God, (Doctrines of Salvation, Volume 1, page 188.)

Full salvation is attained by virtue of knowledge, truth, righteousness, and all true principles. Many conditions must exist in order to make such salvation available to men. Without the atonement, the [LDS] gospel, the [LDS] priesthood, and the [LDS] sealing power, there would be no salvation. Without continuous revelation, the ministering angels, the working of miracles, the prevalence of gifts of the spirit, there would be no salvation. If it had not been for Joseph Smith and the restoration there would be no salvation. There is no salvation outside The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon Doctrine, LDS Apostle Bruce McConkie, page 670, c/f Doctrines of Salvation Volume 2, pages 1-350).

The LDS seems to be under the impression that they exert authority over the entire universe, and have more say over our salvation than does God Himself. Their teachings insinuate that His hands are tied regarding the implementation of salvation from sin and eternal life, unless folk become members of the LDS church, serve them devotedly, tithe regularly and participate in their temple ceremonies.

But that’s not what the Bible teaches. It says that it was Christ who bore our sins and who is the Saviour, not the LDS church. And Christ maintained that all who trust in Him will be forgiven their sins and gain eternal life (John 3:14,15). It was Christ’s sacrificial blood that washed away our sins, not baptism by a Mormon priest (Matthew 26:28, Colossians 1:14, 1 John 5:13) or obedience to LDS laws and ordinances (c/f 3rd Article of Faith).

ETERNAL LIFE AND MARRIAGE

“If one is going to be … where God dwells in all his glory, one will be there as a husband or a wife and not otherwise. Regardless of his virtues, the single person, or the one married for this life only, cannot be exalted." (Spencer W. Kimball, 12th President of the LDS, The Miracle of Forgiveness, page 245). [Editor: Exalted means granted godhood and eternal life.]

In Mormonism, eternal life has the connotation of being able to carry on reproducing for eternity (c/f Doctrine and Covenants 132:19-20; 76:54, 57-58). Consequently, one of the most vital requirements for eternal life is marriage in an earthly Mormon temple, for time and eternity (Doctrine and Covenants 131:1-5). In line with this teaching, the Mormon God, who has a body of flesh and bone, leads a married life. And they maintain that in a prior existence known as our first estate, he physically fathered us all in the normal manner. They say that’s why he’s called our Heavenly Father (see the refutation of this teaching in Understanding Hebrew Terms of Speech.

“All men and women are literally the sons and daughters of God. "Man, as a spirit, was begotten and born of heavenly parents,and reared to maturity in the eternal mansions of the Father, prior to coming upon the earth in a temporal [physical] body” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith [1998], 335; this quote taken from Gospel Principles, 2010, page 9).

But the Bible vigorously opposes the LDS’s idea of marriage being necessary in order to live in heaven with God eternally.

Firstly in Matthew 22:24-30, the the Sadducees asked the Lord Jesus whose wife a woman would be in heaven, if she had been married seven times, her first six husbands having predeceased her. In verse 30 He indicated that none of them would be her husband, because marriage does not apply in heaven as we then become “like the angels.” Angelic beings do not marry or propagate their species. Marriage is an earthly ordinance provided by God, and according to the Lord Jesus Christ, marriage as we know it will cease to exist once we enter the afterlife.

Earlier on in Matthew 19:7-12 Christ was discussing the fact that divorce had never been intended by God. He said that apart from when immorality of the one partner was the cause of the break up, remarriage was akin to adultery. In verse 10 His disciples remarked that in this case it would be better not to marry. Had marriage been vital in order to gain eternal life and live with God in heaven for eternity, this would have been the ideal opportunity for Christ to have pressed the point. But instead he went the opposite way. In verse 12 He stressed that there are men who make themselves eunuchs (i.e. who abstain from a marriage relationship) “for the sake of the kingdom of heaven.

On the same subject, the Apostle Paul points out in 1 Corinthians 7:32-35, that when a man and a woman are married, of necessity they have to devote time and attention to one another. And in order to please each other they become caught up with worldly things. He goes on to say that on the other hand, if they do not marry they are able to devote themselves wholly to the things of the Lord, and to pleasing Him. He emphasizes his point by saying that it is better if a man can attend to the affairs of the Lord without distraction. Earlier on in verse 7, he said he wished that all could be as he was, i.e. living the life of a single man. And in verse 7:26, he points out that because of the distresses of those times it would be better for a man to remain single.

None of this would have applied if marriage had been one of the qualifications required for eternal life. Marriage would then have been the overriding consideration and Paul would have been strenuously advocating marriage for all, instead of discouraging the practice. Furthermore, we would have found teaching after teaching on this important point. But this was not the case. Nowhere in the entire New Testament did Christ or any of the Apostles ever mention that marriage and a continuation of one’s seed was necessary if one was to gain eternal life and live with God in heaven (c/f Doctrine and Covenants 132:19-20). That was purely Joseph Smith’s idea.

What Joseph Smith didn’t seem to understand is that salvation is solely about the holiness of God, the sinfulness of fallen mankind, and the rescue package that He had designed for our salvation through Christ Jesus: It has nothing whatsoever to do eternal sex, plural wives or the perpetuation of the earthly breeding cycle.

Joseph Smith never seemed to have grasped the fact that it wasn’t his own ideas that mattered, but what the God of truth has told us in the Bible.

ETERNAL LIFE THROUGH KNOWING CHRIST

In biblical parlance, to know someone means to have an intimate, in-depth relationship with them. And the following scriptures reveal that Christ not only wanted us to have such a relationship with Him, but indicated that it was vital that we did so:

“And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” (John 17:3, KJV)

“… no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.” (Matthew 11:25, KJV)

“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him. Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us. Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? He that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father? Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me?” (John 14:6-10, KJV)

THE BIBLICAL MEANING OF LIFE

The Bible is a spiritual book. When it talks about having “life,” it refers to the spiritual dimension of our lives. And eternal life indicates our existence in the spiritual realm of God’s kingdom, forever.

The apostle John assures us that those who have trusted in Christ have already been granted eternal life. The moment we trust in Christ, He baptizes us in His Spirit, resulting in the start of a new, transforming spiritual dimension in our lives (c/f Matthew 3:11, John 7:38-39). It’s not something that we have to wait for or need to earn through membership of the LDS church and living in obedience to their laws and ordinances. Immediately we trust in Christ for salvation He gives us His Spirit And eternal life begins welling up within us, there and then.

“These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life.” (1 John 5:13, KJV) 

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