Summit Lecture Series: Is Mormonism Christian or a Cult? with Douglas Groothuis part 9

Summit Lecture Series: Is Mormonism Christian or a Cult? with Douglas Groothuis part 9 June 22, 2016

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Biblically, there are two eternal destinies: eternal fellowship with God and His redeemed creatures in the new heaven and new earth; or a place for those who are outside, as Revelation 22:15 puts it:

Outside the city are the dogs—the sorcerers, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idol worshipers, and all who love to live a lie.

This is a place for the unbelievers, those who deny the Gospel, those who persevere in ungodliness. They, along with those listed in Revelation 22:15, go off to eternal punishment.

However, Mormons talk about three levels of eternal existence.

There is a Celestial Level for the “valiant Mormons”. Then there is the Terrestrial Level for the “less valiant Mormons” and the basically decent people. Finally, there is the lower level, or “Telestial Level”.

Mormons do talk about at torment, or kind of hell that people experience if they are ex-Mormons – in other words, if “they have known the ‘restored gospel’ and deny it”. These people, according to Mormon doctrine, suffer either eternally or for a certain amount of time in hell. There are contradicting sources out there regarding whether or not Mormons believe this hell is eternal or temporary.

Either way, what is wrong here is that, according to the Bible, there are only two eternal destinations for all people.

31 “But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left.

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. 36 I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’

37 “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? 39 When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’

40 “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’

41 “Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons. 42 For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. 43 I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’

44 “Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’

45 “And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’

46 “And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.” (Matthew 25:31-46)

The damned go into eternal punishment, and the blessed who serve Christ by serving their neighbor go into eternal life. Both of these are perpetual and conscious.

It is the “Great Either/Or for Eternity”.

The Bible makes no mention at all of three or four levels of eternal existence.

Image: Rob Sivulka
Image: Rob Sivulka

Yet, sadly and tragically, Mormonism denies the way to be reconciled to God and to have everlasting fellowship with the Triune God and all of His people. They do this through the false gospel of Mormonism.

Now… how do we reach those involved with cults?

Firstly, know what you believe and why you believe it. Study the Bible. Study Christian apologetics. Understand where the cults differ from Biblical Christianity. Ron Rhodes’ book, The Challenge of the Cults and New Religions is a great read. It goes through all the major cult groups very thoroughly, historically and Biblically.

Secondly, be prepared for spiritual warfare. This is not a game. Put on the Armor of God:

Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.12 For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.

13 Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.14 Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. 15 For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. 16 In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. 17 Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

18 Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere. (Ephesians 6:10-18)

Remember that we love people and we want to win people over to Christ. But we have an enemy who is the “father of lies”. Satan masquerades as an angel of light and pretends to be righteous. Therefore, we need to be filled with the Holy Spirit because the Spirit, as Jesus says three times in John’s Gospel, is the Spirit of truth. So, by the Holy Spirit, we can discern the difference between truth and error.

We know this based on what the Bible clearly says.

Thirdly, always treat people involved with cults lovingly, as fellow human beings who are desperately in need of salvation. Don’t view anyone as a weird, strange, bizarre person who should be avoided. View them as someone who needs to understand the truth about Jesus Christ and His love for us.

Know this – there are people out there who think that they are Christians… they think they are saved from an eternity of separation from God. Yet, truthfully, they are not. This applies to Mormons who truly believe the Mormon teaching.

Now it could be that some Mormons read the Bible more than the Book of Mormon and who, somehow, understand Jesus as the TOTAL Savior. And, hopefully, as they investigate the Mormon teachings as well as Scripture more and more, they will come to the understanding that Mormonism is a theological historical cult.

We need to discern the beliefs of cult adherence and gently, firmly, and lovingly challenge them with the Gospel truth. We also need to show them where their doctrines stop making sense, such as the eternal generation of gods. Philosophically, this makes no sense.

Why would someone seeking truth believe the Book of Mormon over the Bible when the Bible is so well attested archeologically, historically, and in so many other ways?

So, we need to try to reason with people, realizing we are engaging in spiritual warfare and we need to depend on the Spirit of truth and we need the full armor of God because this is not a game. It is very serious business.

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