#1: Comparison of Lutheran – Mormon Articles of Faith

I’ve found myself drawn into a conversation elsewhere about the Articles of Faith written by Joseph Smith. In my conversations, I’ve attempted to provide a Christian perspective to the Articles of Faith of the Mormon church. In a series of posts here, I intend to provide “side by side comparisons” of the Morman Articles of Faith and Lutheran teaching from our historical documents (primarily the Augsburg Confession of 1530). Commentary will follow.

(I find it interesting that there is such parallelism between the Mormon Articles of Faith and the Augsburg Confession Articles of Faith. This will become apparent as we move through this exercise.)

Mormon Article of Faith #1

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

Augsburg Confession Chief Article of Faith #1 – God

The churches among us teach with complete unanimity that the decree of the Council of Nicea concerning the unity of the divine essence and concerning the three persons is true and is to be believed without any doubt. That is to say, there is one divine essence which is called God and is God: eternal, incorporeal, indivisible, of immeasurable power, wisdom, and goodness, the creator and preserver of all things, visible and invisible. Yet, there are three persons, coeternal and of the same essence and power: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. And the term “person” is used for that meaning which the church’s authors used in this case: to signify not a part or a quality in another but that which subsists in itself. They condemn all heresies that have arisen against this article, such as that of the Manichaeans, who posited two principles, one good and the other evil; likewise, those of the Valentinians, Arians, Eunomians, Mohammedans, and all others like them. They also condemn the Samosatenians, old and new, who contend that there is only one person and cleverly and impiously argue that the Word and the Holy Spirit are not distinct persons but that “Word” signifies a spoken word and “Spirit” a created movement in things.

Commentary

At first glance, it appears as though these two positions agree and that Lutherans are a whole lot wordier! The differences between classic Christian teaching (evidenced in the Augsburg Confession) and the Mormon teaching is only revealed as Mormons begin “unpacking” what they mean by their Article of Faith. The Mormon position identifies God the Father as “flesh and bone” where Lutherans confess God as eternal and incorporeal (that is not flesh and bone). There are three “persons” in both articles of faith, but for Mormons, there is no unity … except in unity of purpose. Lutherans confess the classic Holy Trinity, whereas the Mormons teach a variation of the heresies “condemned” by the Augsburg Confession. In fact, Mormon teaching most resembles Arianism, a heresy rejected by the church in the 5th century.

Pondering Pastor

Link to Part 2

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20 responses to “#1: Comparison of Lutheran – Mormon Articles of Faith

  1. This is a remarkably interesting post to have stumbled into… For reasons I have never fully understood, you simply don’t read much about these sorts of exchanges between certain Reformation era theological schools and non-Christian or semi-Christian groups like this.

    I have said for sometime I would love to be a fly on the wall in a debate hall where a Jehovah’s Witness and a Mormon hash it out! LOL

  2. Pingback: “Creedal Christians” and “Joseph Smith’s Saints” « Heart Issues for LDS

  3. I’d Post the entire nicceans creed and the Articals of Faith next to eachother then without conjecture we all can see how they compair and decied the differences for ourselves.

  4. ponderingpastor

    ditchu …
    Unfortunately for the LDS, the Nicene Creed is not part of your faith. I’ll take your suggestion under advisement, and consider doing that at the end of my venture here. I think you will find that what LDS teaches is contrary to this essential creed of the Christian Church. Meanwhile, you are welcome to do as you suggest on your blog.

    Pondering Pastor

  5. PP,
    True the LDS do not fully commit to the Nicene Creed, and as a Luthern I had misgivings of some of it myself.
    off topic a little: Do you know if Constintine the Roman who presided over the first consol of nicea was a Pagan or was he just a regular Roman Civic Faith worshiper?
    -D

  6. A very interesting post. It points to the need to not accept another’s beliefs at face value, but to dig deeper, to understand the exact meaning behind the words and concepts being presented. To do so would save a lot of Christians from a lot of false assumptions.

  7. The Joseph Smith Articles seem to come out of nowhere, at least Lutherans were founded on reforming the Catholic Church and not being so dependent of the hierarchy. If you want to make the point the Lutherans came from nowhere, you will have to attack where the Catholic Church came from also. Personally, I think there is an occult base to religion that the general population is not supposed to know about.

    Islam, Judaism and Christianity stem from the same source. They are all monotheistic and have the same God. They are all at war with each other, like pieces on a chest board. When the Bible tells us that the “great deceiver” is Satan, Wouldn’t the best place to hide be right under out noses?

    As being raised a Catholic in Chicago, Lutherans and Mormons seem so distant from me, culturally and behaviorally . I suppose these religions bring people together or tare them apart. Either way, Americans have the Protestants to thank for the free thinking that was allowed to happen in the Enlightenment and formation of the U.S. After all, what Catholic country functions properly? None.

    • Islam isn’t from the same source at all. Muhammad claims to have dreamed it up in a cave where the “true faith” was revealed by the angel Gabriel. When Muhammad’s troops sacked the Kaaba in Mecca; they began to destroy all the pagan deities within it that were worshiped at that time. Only one was left and they realized that there was no example of god to live by, so they spared the last pagan deity and made it their own; the moon deity Allah. In Hinduism the moon deity gives birth to Budha. The moon deity is a polar opposite of the sun deity Baal.

      Jews and Christians get a god that’s the opposite of Baal as far as Muhammad is concerned.

      Hindi and Buddhist are appeased as well, so why would anyone want to question Islam, as it combines the best of each religion to unite everyone to Muhammad’s calling, as far as he’s concerned.

      Islam worships the moon plain and simple; they’ve made revisions in how they explain things since scientific knowledge has advanced, but it’s still the same pagan moon deity in name none the less.

  8. Look forward to reading more of this commentary. Fascinating.

  9. I could say a lot here about the LDS view of the Godhead/Trinity but there was a sermon given just this last Fall by one of our leading church authorities that gives you a good understanding.

    As a Latter-day Saint I quite enjoyed the talk. It would be interesting to hear reaction to it from a Protestant or Catholic perspective.

    http://lds.org/conference/talk/display/0,5232,23-1-775-15,00.html

  10. ponderingpastor

    Paul W,

    Generally good defense from the LDS perspective. There are some serious and I would call fatal flaws … but I’m not inclined to argue that today. I’m taking most of the day off.

    Pondering Pastor

  11. Pretty good summary if you ask me! Nicely done I’d say. And all this time we’ve been having our conversation on my blog, I had no idea you’d been doing your own side-by-side comparison. I guess I need to stop slacking and get to the remaining articles of faith.

    Meanwhile, I’ll have to keep up the reading over here. I just finished reading all the posts, and really appreciate the further mental exercise, and motivation to learn.

    Although, at first I did feel a bit cheated, I liked it better when I thought I got to have your feedback all to myself on my blog. Now it’s like I have to share your contributions!

    Thanks for providing a good, fair analysis. God speed friend.

    Rusty
    http://www.ongofu.com

  12. Original sin is the largest division between Lutherans and Roman Catholicism, Jehovah Witness, Books of Mormon in acknowledgement and understanding.

    When the Western Catholic Church split between Luther’s Followers & Roman Papal authority; sacrament of baptism & alter and Trinity remains in tact for either Church.

  13. Buddhism, LDS, Jehovah Witness, & Roman Catholicism all acknowledge godlike ability to comply with the law of God while in the flesh. Pope, High Profit, god of a planet, god over a new earth & etc…

  14. I find the Nicean Creed to be both confusing and non-sensical; the description of God the Father, his Son Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost in the King James Bible are definately at odds with what this council of men chose. How can you argue with Stephen who was an eyewitness to seeing both God and Christ standing side by side.

    • ponderingpastor

      There is not time nor is it worth the effort to attempt to defend the doctrine of the Holy Trinity here. Those Holy Spirit guided “council of men” worked to be faithful to all that scripture says about Jesus Christ, God the Father, and the Holy Spirit and to develop a formula that does not diminish any part of the Holy Trinity. Mormons reject this creed, which is definitive for inclusion in the “Christian faith”. Therefore, Mormons are not Christian. (Just an aside: The King James Bible is no longer the standard. There has been great scholarship that has improved upon the KJV in these past 400 years, including the discovery of older, more reliable texts.)

    • 3 Distinct persons, 1 God.

      • (1 Corinthians 6:1 ESV)

        [17] But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him.

        [19] Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own,

        [20] for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

        Notice the use of God, Lord, & Holy Spirit? Not unlike KJV, all three distinctions are made because even the original Greek acknowledges the Trinity. Notice the use of “one spirit” with the Lord; meaning our relationship to “one God” while three distinct persons are realized.

        God even inhabits your body, as his temple, not your own, while also among others at the same time; and yet reigns over Heaven and Hell all at the same time. Even Stephen acknowledges the circumcised heart in conjunction with the habitation of the Holy Spirit.

    • Hebrew: Yahweh the Father “I Am” as we understand his name in English.

      Now read the Gospel of John and look at Jesus’ quotes where he redundantly refers to himself as “I Am”. Ask yourself why Jesus used Yahweh to reference himself? Ask yourself why Jesus says you can pray in his name with the same authority as Yahweh?

      Stephen does acknowledge the Holy Spirit, Jesus, & Yahweh before falling asleep and entering Heaven. Why acknowledge all three before entering Heaven? He could have just said Yahweh “Father”.

    • (John 1:1-5 ESV) [The Word Became Flesh]

      [1] In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

      [2] He was in the beginning with God.

      [3] All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.

      [4] In him was life, and the life was the light of men.

      [5] The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

      [14] And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

      [15] (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”)

      [16] For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.

      [17] For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

      [18] No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.

      (John 5:1 ESV) [Jesus Is Equal with God]

      [18] This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.
      [The Authority of the Son]

      [19] So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.

      [20] For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel.

      [21] For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will.

      [22] The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son,

      [23] that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.

      [24] Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.

      [25] “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.

      [26] For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself.

      [27] And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man.

      [28] Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice

      [29] and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.

      Solomon Kane, this scripture above makes it sensible, the Word (Jesus of Nazareth in the flesh) is in the beginning, with God, as God. John the Baptist brings together the correlation with the Holy Spirit in tying the Trinity together in its fullness. The KJV makes the same truth known. The “council of men” chose nothing, but simply restate what’s already known in pure scripture without deviation nor aide from any other textual work outside of the Bible.

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