Why Christianity Is True but Mormonism Is Not: A Dozen Reasons
Joseph Smith was a false prophet because he failed all of the biblical tests of a prophet: he gave false prophecies, taught false gods, preached a false gospel, lied in God’s name, and claimed religious justification for breaking God’s commandments.
This article offers an overview of twelve major reasons why Bible-based Christianity is true but the Mormon religion should not be recognized as true Christianity. It presents twelve simple statements that identify as succinctly as possible each of the twelve reasons. For a fuller but still brief explanation of each point, you can click on the opening sentence to jump to the page where the fuller explanation is found. Each of those pages can be read in just a few minutes and includes links to other pages on our website that list resources giving more detailed information, including full documentation.
This information is offered, not to criticize Mormons as individuals, but to encourage them to base their faith on the truth about Jesus Christ revealed reliably in the Bible. If you want to understand why we think it is important to contrast Mormonism with biblical Christianity and the values that guide our efforts, please see our article “Love, Honesty, and the Defense of the Faith.”
- Jesus’ resurrection happened; the First Vision did not. Thorough investigation confirms that the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ are well-supported historical facts. However, conflicting accounts from Joseph Smith himself and other problems demonstrate that the First Vision—Joseph’s supposedly seeing the Father and the Son in 1820—never happened.
- The Bible is ancient; the Book of Mormon is modern. Evidence from history, archaeology, and other fields of study prove that the Bible is a collection of ancient writings and confirm much of its historical claims. By contrast, the evidence shows that the Book of Mormon is not translated from ancient scriptures but is a nineteenth-century fiction.
- Genesis is authentic; the Book of Abraham is not. Biblical manuscript discoveries of the past two centuries have not called into question the authenticity of a single book of the Bible. On the other hand, as the LDS Church has recently admitted, the text of the papyrus from which Joseph Smith claimed to translate the Book of Abraham has nothing to do with Abraham, but is an ancient pagan Egyptian funeral text.
- The text of the Bible is reliable; the Joseph Smith Translation is not. Those same biblical manuscript discoveries, as well as advances in scholarly knowledge of the biblical languages, have not overturned the reliability of modern versions of the Bible, but only refined our understanding of the precise wording and meaning of its contents. However, the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible, which Joseph claimed to produce by inspiration, betrays Joseph’s limited understanding of the Bible and has been proved false by biblical manuscript discoveries.
- The Bible is not missing any books; the Mormon scriptures are. The Bible is not “missing” any books: No book or part of a book that was ever accepted as Scripture by Jews or Christians in the first century has ever been removed from the Bible by later Christians. By contrast, Doctrine and Covenants, a collection of modern revelations Joseph claimed to receive from God, has had whole sections removed and material added in other places to make them agree with Joseph’s changing claims.
- Biblical prophets did not take many wives in God’s name and lie about it; Joseph Smith did. Although prophets and apostles in the Bible were sinners in need of God’s grace, not one of them ever used his religious authority to justify adultery or other gross sins. On the other hand, Joseph Smith took over thirty “wives,” including married women, claimed that God commanded him to practice polygamy, and lied about it repeatedly—setting a dangerous precedent of disregard for truth.
- Biblical prophets did not teach racist doctrines; Mormon scriptures and prophets have. The Bible teaches that people of all races are made in God’s image and equal in Jesus Christ. While there have been racists who quoted the Bible out of context to support their views, it was clear to other Christians even then that racism is contrary to the Bible. By contrast, the Mormon scriptures contain racist ideas, and some of the prophets of the LDS Church have clearly taught racist doctrines. After more than century of excluding blacks in Mormonism from the priesthood because they were supposedly under a divine curse, the LDS Church lifted the exclusion in 1978 and belatedly admitted in 2013 that there never was any curse on blacks.
- Biblical Christianity is monotheistic; Mormon theology is polytheistic. The Bible clearly teaches that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are one eternal God. Human beings are created in God’s image and redeemed with the goal of becoming glorious, immortal beings; however, in biblical doctrine we will never become Gods of the same nature as our Creator. The core of Mormon doctrine is the blatantly unbiblical belief that we were all spirit offspring in heaven of God the Father and his wife, our heavenly mother, and that we came to earth as mortals in order to progress toward becoming Gods ourselves.
- In the New Testament, Jesus is our only high priest; in Mormonism, every qualified adult Mormon man can be a high priest. The teaching on priests in the Book of Hebrews exalts Jesus Christ alone. It clearly teaches that the priests of the Aaronic order represented the covenant God made with Israel through Moses, a covenant that has been superseded by the new covenant through Jesus Christ, the eternal priest typified by Melchizedek. The Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthood orders in Mormonism, by which Mormon men claim exclusive control over access to God, flagrantly misrepresent what the Bible teaches about priests and were not even claimed by Joseph Smith until a few years after he founded the LDS Church.
- Jesus announced the end of temple religion; Mormonism has invented a new temple religion. Jesus prophesied that the Jerusalem temple would be destroyed and that God’s people would worship in spirit and truth rather than in special man-made buildings. The Mormon temple system has no basis in the Jewish temple of the Bible, is not a restoration of Christian religion or ritual, and was adapted by Joseph Smith from Freemasonry.
- The biblical gospel is salvation by grace alone to eternal life as glorified creatures; the Mormon gospel is exaltation to godhood through grace and works. The biblical gospel is a message of salvation by grace alone with works as the fruit, not the basis, of acceptance by God. It steers a course between the two extremes of universalism (everyone or nearly everyone will be saved) and works-righteousness (only those who attain a certain level of personal goodness will be saved). The Mormon gospel—salvation for nearly everyone (except some ex-Mormons), exaltation to godhood for the most faithful and hard-working Mormons—is a false gospel, contrary to the New Testament gospel of grace.
- The biblical prophets pass their own tests, but Joseph Smith does not. The prophets and apostles of the Bible, who set forth tests by which we might recognize false prophets and teachers, passed their own tests. On the other hand, Joseph Smith was a false prophet because he failed all of the biblical tests of a prophet: he gave false prophecies, taught false gods, preached a false gospel, lied in God’s name, and claimed religious justification for breaking God’s commandments.
Written By: Robert M. Bowman Jr.