Category Archives: Mormonism/Joel Osteen
As with all things if you ask a handful of people about a topic then a handful of answers is what you would get. An appropriate question then would be, “So how do we know what is true and what is merely opinion?”
Former pastor of Eagle Heights and current Pastor at The Village Baptist Church in OKC, Jimmy Kinnaird, graciously pointed me to several resources that will help Christians understand the fundamental differences between historical, biblical Christianity and Mormonism. Here are several sights with different content and perspectives.
- Mormonism Research Ministry Mormonism Research Ministry is a missionary/apologetics organization that was organized in 1979 to propagate the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to critically evaluate the differences between Mormonism and biblical Christianity.
- Utah Lighthouse Ministry Jerald and Sandra Tanner were raised in the LDS faith, both with a strong Mormon family history. The Tanners are authors of over forty books on the subject of Mormonism. They are well known for their extensive research into Mormon history and doctrine.
- Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry CARM is a Christian ministry dedicated to the promotion and defense of the Christian gospel. CARM analyzes religions such asIslam, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormonism, Universalism, Wicca, etc., and compares them to the Bible.
- The Institute of Religious Research One of the titles from this website is, “Do You Have a Friend or Loved One Wooed by Mormons?
Jimmy recommended others but I culled the list to get a variation of reference resources. I think what you will find from all of these is that there is a consensus that Christianity and Mormonism are fundamentally different and the difference is of primary and salvific importance. Doctrinally speaking, Mormonism and Christianity are incompatible, though they may superficially look and sound the same. I hope this helps because that is my intent.
Audit Yourself and Then Others
Is it better to be audited or to audit yourself? Neither sounds like much fun, and the word can even be quite scary. Christianity is not for the cowardly. To follow Jesus means that we are guaranteed to have to be people of courage. After all, the scriptures are clear that we will give an account to God for every single word and deed that flows from our lives (Matthew 12:33-37; Romans 2:3; 2 Cor. 5:10). An audit of our lives is inevitable because God will and so will others; will you audit your own life? The wise and brave person will audit and examine their own life now so that when they are audited and evaluated by others, the process will be far less painful.
God through Jesus has called us to live in community with others and to evaluate our brothers and sisters in Christ. I said yesterday that “judge” in the context of Matthew 7:1-6 means to: “criticize and find fault based on the evaluation of evidence in order to seek to influence the lives and actions of others. ” Jesus is not prohibiting this judgment completely or otherwise the whole Bible would be a contradiction since it repetitively calls us to judge people and their doctrine. If we are to be obedient to the scriptures, we who are Christians have no choice but judge and correct doctrinal and moral failures (1 Corinthians 5:9-13). The key is what Jesus says after verse one. If we are biblically wise we will not judge others in a way that we in turn are judged for the thing we condemn (v. 2). Jesus says if we are to avoid human and divine judicial retribution we are to examine our own lives (Matt. 7:3-5) and look to see if we are helping or harming our brother or sister in Christ (Matt. 7:5).
The beauty of Jesus’ teaching is that when we rightly judge others, when we audit the lives of others, we have to first judge or audit our own life and our motivations toward that person. If we don’t look to our own lives first then we have already blown it and we will be judged. But many people do themselves a disservice by reasoning that they have no right to judge others because they have their own baggage and shortcomings, but the reality is that they are not only letting their brother and sister continue in a life of disobedience but they are also nurturing their own sin by not dealing with it so they can love and help others. If you judge biblically you will help both yourself and your brother or sister, if you ignore the biblical way to judge then you will hurt yourself and others. Judge correctly because it is good for everyone.
Three Questions Before We Judge Others
- Did we pray about whether we should judge someone and how should we do it?
- Did we look and evaluate and judge our own life first?
- Did we ask, “Will my judgment or criticism hurt or help?” One qualifying remark; Of course it is going to hurt but there is such a thing as a healthy pain.
Is A Mormon A Christian?
I had a young man come to me after the worship gathering on Sunday Morning and let me know that he wasn’t pleased with the way that I and other baptist preachers judge Mormons as not being Christians. If any person affirms the teaching or theology of the LDS church then they are not Christians in the biblical sense of the word. By the way, I was harder on Joel Osteen than I was on the Mormons. Osteen ought to know better. Biblically and historically the Mormons do not believe Jesus is the same Jesus that Christians have historically and biblically believed in. The Mormon Jesus is not the same Jesus when it comes to what the Bible comprehensively teaches about Him in eternity past. Here is a comparison chart showing the difference if you are interested. Here is another article worth looking at: Are Mormons Christians? (Additionally, if you click on the link you can look to the left and see numerous articles on Mormonism. These articles have been written by various authors under the umbrella of the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.) I want to make one distinction between Mormonism and historical, biblical Christianity.
Christians have historically and biblically believed that Jesus was and is co-eternal creator with the Father and Holy Spirit. Jesus was always there as a part of the Trinity. (John 1:1-18; Philippians 2:5-11, Colossians 1:13-22) Mormons believe that Jesus was a preexisting soul just like you and me.
A quick summary: According to Mormon theology we were all up in heaven without a body and then our souls got beamed down to earth. God the father, who was once a human man like you and I, came down from heaven and physically impregnated Mary. Because Jesus was the only person who was ever conceived on earth by god the father with a fully human woman, Mormon Jesus is therefore the only-begotten son of god. He is the only begotten because he is the only person who was begotten directly by the father. An implication of this teaching is that we as humans are fully brothers and sisters of the Mormon Jesus. In other words, there is some sort of intrinsic equality that we share with him. The Bible teaches that Jesus is completely God in essence though different in person and that He is in His essence all-together different than us. Jesus was and is and always will be God. We never were and never will be God. He did humble himself by becoming like us in taking on flesh to sympathize with us and die for us and the Mormons would be with us there, but it is eternity past where we believe something essentially different. And it is an essential and primary difference. Anything that has to do with the person of Jesus, is of fundamental and salvific importance to our faith. (2 John 8-11) We would agree with Mormons on some Bible truths, but who Jesus was in eternity past for Mormons is something completely different then what we believe as Christians. It may sound confusing, but real Christianity is something completely different than Mormon Christianity. If you have talked to many Mormons then you know that some know these things and some don’t. Some will refute what I have said, but it ultimately comes down to the fact that we believe different things and mean different things when we talk about the person of Jesus. It is also important to realize that some Mormons might disagree or not know about their own beliefs, just as some Baptists don’t, but they are still culpable because they are committed or devoted to a church and its doctrine that is fundamentally flawed and is a false gospel (Galatians 1:8-9). This may be especially hard to swallow when we have friends and family who are Mormons, but our love for someone and their sincerity about who they think Jesus is, will not help us when we stand before God who has made a way for us to heaven through Jesus who is the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6). If any person picks and chooses what they want Jesus to be they will have only made their own religion, their own gospel. I am afraid that is what Mormons have done. Jesus is not who we want Him to be, He simply is “I Am” (John 8:58). The Christian “I Am” is different than the Mormon “i am”. A very helpful summary blog from Gospel Coalition. Kevin DeYoung on Mormonism.