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Bob Ligget wrote:

Hi, guys —

I have admired the Catholic Church for my entire lifetime, but I am profoundly dismayed at what
I read on this site about The Church of Jesus Christ of (LDS) Latter-day Saints. You refer to those of us who belong to the LDS (Latter-day Saints) church as "masquerading as Christians." How belittling and how wrong!

  • Are you aware of the strong and close ties between our churches in Salt Lake City?
  • The cooperation we've enjoyed for many, many years?
  • And this is what you think of us?

Thanks for the insider insight. I'll reevaluate my position on the charity of your Church.

Bob

  { I am dismayed at what I've read on your site on the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. }

Paul replied:

Dear Bob,

Sometimes terminology might sound harsh to the hearer (or reader) when it is said by the speaker to be simply matter-of-fact. I'm not sure where, when, or by whom the term "masquerading" was used, but I'm sorry it offended you.

I am happy our two churches relate well in Utah and beyond. I have met many Mormons who have been wonderful people who, in my view, by the way they live their lives seem more Catholic than many Catholics.

The fact is, though, that Catholics, as well as most Protestants, hold that Mormonism is not Christian. That is because Mormons do not believe the central doctrine about Christ — that He is the divine Son of God; that He is the eternal Second Person of the Blessed Trinity who took on a human nature to become a human being.

So let us continue to learn from each other, as well as forgive each other, whenever necessary.

Peace,

Paul

Bob replied:

Paul,

I appreciate the quick response and your balanced remarks.

Interestingly, you don't retreat from the adjective itself, and evidently, you do agree with that characterization, as you describe our doctrinal differences. While it is true that we do not believe in the Trinity, as Catholics and Protestants explain it, we do believe the "central doctrine" that he is the divine Son of God. Our first article of faith states:

"We believe in God the Eternal Father, and in His son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost."

It is true, however, that we don't see them as the same substance but in different manifestations. We do see them as separate beings, united in purpose. Much has been written about this difference, and we could go on about who owns the definition of "Christian", but that's not for now.

As a Mormon, you won't see me writing that Catholics masquerade as Christians because you don't agree with me. Catholics are Christian, obviously; as are Protestants, although I wonder about those who deny the Resurrection.

I admire much of what the Catholic Church stands for and its strength on many societal and moral issues.

Thanks again for responding.

Bob

Paul replied:

Bob,

I ditto you on my admiration for Mormon people who, interestingly, live Catholic teaching on morality more seriously than many Catholics today. The recent (BYU) Brigham Young University incident on premarital sex, that made the news, is somewhat of an illustration of this.

Even if you did say, you thought that Catholicism masqueraded as Christianity, although obviously
I wouldn't agree, I wouldn't be offended. Particularly, if you were sincere and had no malice toward those you thought believed falsely. I often presume good intentions of the writer unless proven otherwise. Although I probably wouldn't have used that term, your best bet would be to inquire with the one who did, to see what they meant; and to get either an explanation or an apology.

Yes, you wrote well on the essential differences between [Catholic, Protestant, and Eastern Orthodox Christianity] versus Mormonism, on who Jesus is. Christianity, for almost two thousand years, has held the belief in the divinity of Christ as being consubstantial and co-equal to the Father, and that the Holy Spirit is the very heart of the definition of what a Christian is. Hence, it would make logical sense that they wouldn't recognize Mormon belief as being Christian.

Catholics, Protestants, and Eastern Orthodox hold that three eternal and co-equal Persons of God, the Trinity, are Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This is the foundation of Christian faith on which all other truths rest.

Mormons certainly also have the right to recognize Catholic, Protestant, and Eastern Orthodox belief as however they see fit.

  • This makes sense, doesn't it?

Paul

Mary Ann replied:

Bob —

The Mormon understanding of "God" and of "Son" are not Christian. Their understanding of "God" is not even Jewish. There is only verbal parallel in the doctrines, and the unthinking person naively plugs in traditional Christian beliefs into the words. So the word "masquerade" is apt, except that it implies a purposeful deception, which is not the case.

The Mormon doctrines "appear" to be Christian until one knows the meanings of the words.

Mary Ann

John replied:

Hi, Bob —

I'm not sure which specific post you are referring to but I've answered several questions on Mormonism throughout the years. Odds are, you are objecting to something I may have said.
The truth remains the truth. Mormon Christology cannot be reconciled with orthodox Christology, anymore that the Christology of the Jehovah's Witness can. To be Christian, one must accept the essential doctrines of the Christian faith:

  • Jesus Christ is one, in being, with the Father and the Holy Spirit.
  • There are three persons in One God.

Mormonism has three Gods. God the Son, is a created being who is the soul brother of Lucifer.

God, the Father, lives on planet near the star base Kolob which is 3.5 billion light years from Earth in the Constellation of Cancer. God the Father according to Mormon theology, has a body of His own.

None of this can be reconciled with the fundamental Christian doctrine of the Trinity or with the fundamental Christological formula known as the Hypostatic Union, therefore, it is an error to call a Mormon, a Christian.

That said, no one is saying Mormons are wonderful people. They may honestly believe they are worshiping Christ, and as Paul said, they often times behave like better Christians than the rest of us, but we could say the same thing about the Jehovah's Witness who ascribe to an Arian heresy.

We are not indicting the Mormon people. To be honest, if you want to believe in a God that lives on a planet near the Star base Kolob, that's your right, but when you start to call that belief system, Christianity, then we have a problem.

Jesus Christ established a Church and He gave it authority. He promised the gates of Hell would not prevail against it. Either Jesus Christ is a Liar, or the Catholic Church is exactly who she says she is. If people are going to go around and set up shop calling themselves Christians, when they deny essential Christian doctrines, and therefore make it impossible for them to be Christians, then we have no choice but to speak up.

Perhaps, we could have been more diplomatic in our choice of words. I'd have to see the original posting. I'll grant you, if it was one of my posts, I can sometimes fail to show Christian charity.

If that's the case, I apologize, but as for the content itself, I'll have to stand by it.

John DiMascio

Bob replied:

Well, Everyone —

This has been a fascinating journey into the minds of practicing Catholics, and I've come away with a new perspective. Paul's response to my original issue was measured and respectful, and received with appreciation. I didn't expect the attack messages coming from Mary Ann and John.

  • To the two of you: I wonder what makes you react with such bitterness, condescension and sarcasm?
  • If you were my introductions to the Catholic faith, is this the kind of church you want to portray?
  • Why would I or anyone wish to join with a church represented by such uncharitable people?

Mary Ann, you call me and other Mormons naive and that our understanding is false, and imply we are duped and need to be enlightened. Your message is not one of love, but one of belittling meanness.

John, your message is filled with innuendo (soul brother?) and sarcasm (star base Kolob?), and your patronizing dismissal of my faith is also, like Mary Ann's, mean-spirited. Your attempt to temper your remarks with an admission that you sometimes fail to show Christian charity is pretty weak on the heels of your vicious attack, and hardly excuses your incivility.

Paul, on the other hand, is able to make his points without attacking me and is interested in dialog and mutual understanding, building bridges and not throwing bombs. He defends historical Christianity without ripping apart my own faith.

Arrogance doesn't seem to me an effective tool for winning hearts and minds. In another context, I'd love to discuss the doctrinal differences we have with respectful disagreement and yet maybe even a little mutual respect.

  • You can't assert that Catholic doctrine and history is beyond discussion, can you?
  • Does disagreement mean heresy and condemnation?

I happen to think the LDS Church has plenty strong doctrinal legs on which to stand, but the difference between our faith and the faith of John and Mary Ann's is that we approach others' faith with respect for the good and the truth they have, we offer what we feel is something more and give them the freedom to accept or reject what we say.

  • You two seek to destroy another's faith, and then, what, expect them to gratefully embrace Roman Catholicism? Not likely.

I was raised in the Episcopal Church (Yes, those pesky Anglicans who rejected the Pope. I have two strikes against me!) and had many Catholic friends, and have been a life-long admirer of your Church and its willingness to stand against modern tides of relativism. With that, you've endured many challenges since Vatican II and are still beset by many of them by the words of your own scholars and laity. I joined the LDS Church 30 years ago because I believed in its message of restoration and I believe I received a spiritual witness attesting to that. You would not agree and
I understand that. What upsets me from all this is the new perspective I mentioned I now have of your Church based on the vitriol of two of you.

I have listened with interest to Catholic radio for a year now with some admiration of their support and defense of their Church, and with interest in understanding the doctrine more clearly. I no longer listen because in the back of my mind come the words of John and Mary Ann, telling me I'm naive and not a Christian, and probably stupid to think I was.

You may think your brand of defense is noble and necessary, but it's only off-putting. You seem to think you own the definition of Christian because of centuries of tradition, as if age confers accuracy. At the conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount, the Savior said that we can judge people by their fruits (Matthew 7:20) and your fruits of ridicule are very plain to see. I see little, actually none, of the courtesy and respect from 1 Peter 3:15 and which your web site professes to adhere to.

  • Paul, thank you again for your response; think if I only knew three Catholics, what might my conclusion be?

Thank you for maintaining some of my faith in the Catholic Church.

Regards,

Bob Ligget

Mary Ann replied:

Bob,

I said nothing of what you accuse me. By naive I meant someone who reads Mormonism's doctrines and assumes the words mean the same things ... many Christians do so.

It was not a slam against Mormons, who know very well what their doctrine is, once they are fully instructed.

Mary Ann

John replied:

Bob,

I'm not sure what your issue is. We deal in the world of truth, not in the world of feelings. I harbor no bitterness towards Mormons or anyone else. I simply pointed out where Mormon beliefs make
it impossible for them to be Christians.

  • Do you deny that Mormons believe Lucifer and Jesus are "soul brothers"?
  • And that Mormons believe that God the Father has a body and lives on a planet near
    "Star Base Kolob"?

These are Mormon beliefs and by their very nature they deny the Trinity and conflict with orthodox Christology and therefore make it impossible for Mormons to be Christian.

Mormonism is not like any other Protestant denomination which espouses heretical secondary doctrines. Mormonism gets it wrong from the beginning. The God of Mormonism is not the same God of the Bible. The Mormon Jesus is also not the same Jesus of Scripture.

Again, this is not reflection on who Mormons are as people. It's not said with any meanness or "hatred" or lack of Christian charity. It is simply a statement of fact. Mormon theology starts from heresy, and is based on a completely heretical book which the Mormons accept as scripture; it is not Christian.

John

Mike replied:

Dear Bob,

I'm the Web Admin. for AskACatholic.com. I've read your complain about our postings and think you have a point.

Whether one believes in Catholicism or Mormonism, the members of each faith probably have different levels of knowledge about what they believe about their own faith, whether they are a Catholic or a Mormon.

If we state something about someone else's faith, we should be able to back up what we say.

Certainly I would not want you going around saying, Catholic doctrine teaches:

  • Catholics worship Mary
  • Catholics worship the saints, or
  • Catholics worship statues.

All of which are false and cannot be backed up by Catholic teaching documents.

That said, anything we state on our web site about what Mormons believe, should be able to be backed-up by Mormon sources or by Mormon and/or secular history.

I sense the statements you disagreed with were:

Mormons believe Lucifer and Jesus are "soul brothers" and that Mormons believe that God the Father has a body and lives on a planet near "Star Base Kolob."

and

Mormons masquerade as Christians, but in fact believe in many gods.


So let me address each one:

On page 109 from Walter Martin's book "The Maze of Mormonism", published by Zondervan in 1962, he addresses this issue and presents a quote from a Mormon source.

According to Mormon revelation, the great star Kolob was the site for the conception of these plans; and it will come as no surprise to students of Mormonism to learn that Lucifer who was a spirit brother of Jesus prior to His incarnation fell from heaven because of his jealousy of Christ. Christ was appointed by the gods to become the redeemer of the race that would fall as a result of Adam's sin, and it was this office to which Lucifer aspired, hence his antipathy.

Lucifer is even quoted as saying: "Behold, here am I, send me. I will be thy son, and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost and surely I will do it; wherefore give me thy honor" (Chapter 4 of the Book of Moses, found in The Pearl of Great Price, catalogs all of these events, including the fall of Satan and the establishment of the Garden of Eden [Chapter 6], which students of the Scripture will be surprised to learn was really located in Missouri and not the Mesopotamian area!)

Page 109, "The Maze of Mormonism", published by Zondervan in 1962

This appears to describe Lucifer and Jesus were both spirit-children of God, and that we all are.
It says that Lucifer offered to take on a human body and save humanity; and that when Jesus was chosen to be the redeemer, Lucifer became envious of him.

Although you may question the source: "The Maze of Mormonism" by Walter Martin, I thought this comment on Amazon.com about Martin's book was interesting. I will let our reader decide whether to trust Walter Martin or not.

This is an excellent book. When you see reviews of both extremes, you know you have a good book. Ignore the rabid rant reviews from LDS. Having been a Mormon myself, I can give you my testimony that this book is a well written, very scholarly book.

From the Wikipedia article the Pearl of Great Price — The book of Abraham talks all about Kolob starting in Chapter 3, and is also discussed under the Facsimile sub category.

  • The Pearl of Great Price is a Mormon source, isn't it?

Although you have been a member of the church of Latter-day Saints for thirty years, our colleagues at Catholic Answers have some fine information, some of which, you may have never heard before. Here are the results of a web page search from their site. They have some excellent articles on this issue.

Let me echo Paul and John's comments. Paul said:

I am happy our two churches relate well in Utah and beyond. I have met many Mormons who have been wonderful people who, in my view, by the way they live their lives seem more Catholic than many Catholics.

and as John stated at the end of his last reply:

Again, this is not reflection on who Mormons are as people.

I'm sure there are many Mormons who perform very good works of charity, as there are Catholics.
Nevertheless, whether one is a Mormon or a Catholic, what ones believes can be in error due to poor catechesis.

We believe only practicing Catholics, who are always open to correction, are a solid source for Godly Truth. Being open to correction, just means we can make mistakes too : )

If I claim something about another religion, I should source it, which I have done.

You said:
You refer to those of us who belong to the LDS (Latter-day Saints) church as "masquerading as Christians." How belittling and how wrong!

I originally found the text from When was your church founded? from another web site. I initially used it as boilerplate text because I thought it gave a good description of how every other church of God had actually been founded by a man, like Joseph Smith in 1830, and not God, Jesus-Incarnate, like the Catholic Church. Upon further reflection, I thought the Mormon section was poorly worded and for that I apologize.

I'm not sure whether you approve of the following, but, I've changed the text from:

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints better known as the Mormons was started by Joseph Smith in 1830. Practicing Mormons, who are aware of:

  • all the Mormon teachings, and how they differ from
  • orthodox Christology

masquerade as Christians; they believe in many gods. This is contrary to the Christian faith. Mormons who know their faith also believe that god was once a mortal man and that a faithful Mormon can become his own god after his death. Strange but true.

TO

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints better known as the Mormons was started by Joseph Smith in 1830. Knowledgeable, practicing Mormons will affirm that their baptism does not conform to the Apostolic Christian form of Trinitarian baptism which can be traced back to Jesus, through St. Cyprian of Carthage. (A.D. 200-258) Proper Christian baptism is essential to being part of the Body of Christ. For this reason, although not part of the Body of Christ, there are many, many Mormons who demonstrate fine Christian behavior and values in the public square with the nature law that has been written on their heart and soul, and to the extent they do, we welcome and encourage their behavior.

Mormon teaching, though, is another matter. Knowledgeable, practicing Mormons believe in many gods. They also believe that god was once a mortal man and that a faithful Mormon can become his own god after his death. They believe, among other things, that Jesus and Lucifer were soul brothers. They believe the Father is separately God not just a Person in the Trinity. This Father God lives on a planet near the star Kolob.

Despite the big chasm between our beliefs, it's our hope that Catholics can work with Mormons on the teachings and beliefs we do agree on so that as Jesus said, "That they may all be one, as I and the Father are one." (John 17:20-21)

Here are some Wikipedia articles on the issue:

This change accounts for many, in both our churches, who are at different levels of knowledge about what they believe about their own faith.

You said:
While it is true that we do not believe in the Trinity, as Catholics and Protestants explain it, we do believe the "central doctrine" that he is the divine Son of God.
Our first article of faith states:

"We believe in God the Eternal Father, and in His son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost."

It is true, however, that we don't see them as the same substance but in different manifestations. We do see them as separate beings, united in purpose.

No one is saying that you don't have any right to believe what you wish to believe, but when it comes to talking about what Christianity is, no one has the right to create his or her own definition of what Christianity is. Christianity is defined by Christ and the Church He established on St. Peter and his successors. That Church can be visibly recognized today as the Roman Catholic Church; the only Church He established.

It is preached, defended and explained by practicing Catholic Christians who hold the basic tenets of the faith. Those that only hold on to those basis tenets are called to accept the full communion of faith and all the teachings the Church believes in.

When others, like members in your church, use the word Christian to describe themselves,
yet redefine what the term Christian means, faithful Catholic Christians have to speak out to protect:

  • the uncatechized in our Church who are unaware that the term Christian in the Catholic Church means something totally different than it means in the LDS Church.
  • the non-Christian who is searching for something more than what:
    • Judaism
    • Islam, or
    • Hinduism have to offer.

For the record, John, nor any of my colleagues ever stated in any of their replies that "Mormons masquerade as Christians". The only place this was found on the site was from the above article, which has been changed. I am solely responsible for this and am sorry.

I hope you think my approach on this issue has been fair.

  • I've changed the text on my site, and
  • have sourced our comments from a Mormon document: Pearl of Great Price.

If you still think I am being unfair, please show me how. As it states in the page header on each of our page: Dialogue with us.

I'm glad that the Mormon church has good relations with the Catholic Church in Utah. Christ tells us in the Gospels that we should be working toward one unity in one Church, not over 30,000 churches.

I'd be interested in what you think of the updates:

Mike

Bob replied:

Hi, Mike —

Thanks for the reply.

I've been a little busy recently, but will reply to your comment in the near future.

Bob Ligget

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