21 QUESTIONS ANSWERED ABOUT MORMON FAITH: Part 1

This information is in response to the article (same title as above) that appeared on the Fox News web site December 18, 2007. I have been asked by a number of people to respond to these questions. This will be a three part series where I will answer seven questions each day for the next three days.

Having studied Mormonism for more than 15 years, I was amazed at some of the half-truths and blatant misrepresentations given by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In order to set the record straight, I have provided the answers to each one of the questions along with quotes and references so that accuracy and context can be verified. The original questions will be in italicized white, the LDS Churches answers will be in pink and my answers will be in blue.

Q1: Why do some call the Church a cult?

A: For the most part, this seems to stem from a lack of understanding about the Church and its core doctrines and beliefs. Under those circumstances it is too easy to label a religion or other organization that is not well-known with an inflammatory term like ‘cult.’ Famed scholar of religion Martin Marty has said a cult means a church you don’t personally happen to like. We don’t believe any organization should be subjected to a label that has come to be as pejorative as that one.

While I do agree that there is a lack of understanding regarding Mormonism, I believe that the LDS Church must accept some of the responsibility for that fact. The LDS Church knows full well that if they practiced full disclosure, they would have a much harder time making converts. Cults must deceive in order to grow.

There are many ways to define what a cult is, but my preferred method is the B.I.T.E. model. I prefer this model because each of its components (Behavior, Information, Thought and Emotional Control) describe what cults do and not what they believe. A perfect example of the information control component can be seen by reading the answers of these 21 questions given by the LDS Church. I will point this out as I answer each question.

Q2: Does the Mormon Church believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God?

A: Mormons believe Jesus Christ is literally the Son of God, the Savior and Redeemer, who died for the sins of humankind and rose from the dead on the third day with an immortal body. God, the Father, also has an immortal body.

The LDS Churches answer to this question is clear from an LDS perspective, but not to those who know little of the religion. That is why it is so important that in religious dialogue, there must be some time given to talking about differences. Mormons use the same words that Christians do, but they very rarely mean that same thing. When the LDS Church says they believe that Jesus is literally the Son of God, they mean that in a physical sense. God the Father physically procreated the body of Jesus with the help of Mary. I will go into more detail of this topic in Q7.

Q3: Does the Church believe in the divinity of Jesus?

A: Mormons believe Jesus Christ is literally the Son of God, the Savior and Redeemer, who died for the sins of humankind and rose from the dead on the third day with an immortal body. God, the Father, also has an immortal body.

I do not understand why the LDS Church does not answer this question separately from Q2. Again, this answer makes sense to the LDS audience, but it does not do a good job of communicating real Mormon doctrine to the non-Mormons reading this answer. This type of answer is exactly what I mean when I say that if there are misunderstandings regarding Mormonism, the LDS Church must accept some responsibility for it.
Not only do Mormons believe in the divinity of Jesus, but they also believe that all humans are divine. The official Mormon Church manual, Achieving a Celestial Marriage Student Manual, states on page 130,


“MEN ARE GODS IN EMBRYO… We Have the Potential to Become like Our Heavenly Parents.

‘Man is the child of God, formed in the divine image and endowed with divine attributes, and even as the infant son of our earthly father and mother is capable in due time of becoming a man, so the undeveloped offspring of celestial parentage is capable, by experience through ages of aeons, of evolving into a God.’”

Mormonism teaches that men, angels and gods are all the same species. The LDS work, Mormon Doctrine states on page 465;

“Two of the names of God the Father are, Man of Holiness, and Man of Counsel
(Moses 6:57; 7:35); that is, God is a holy Man, a Man who is perfect in counsel. All beings who are his offspring, who are members of his family, are also men. This applies to the pre-existent spirits, including those who rebelled and were cast out with Lucifer to suffer eternally as sons of perdition (Isa. 14:16); to embodied spirits living on earth as mortal men; to translated beings such as those who are awaiting the day of their resurrection; and to the beings whom we call angels, beings who either as spirits or having tangible bodies are sent as messengers to minister to mortal men… Man and God are of the same race, and it is within the power of righteous man to become like his Father, that is to become a holy Man, a Man of Holiness.”

Q4: Does the Church believe that God is a physical being?

A: Mormons believe Jesus Christ is literally the Son of God, the Savior and Redeemer, who died for the sins of humankind and rose from the dead on the third day with an immortal body. God, the Father, also has an immortal body.

Once again, the same vague answer. It would be more helpful to have quoted the founder of Mormonism, Joseph Smith, when he answered the question, “What sort of a being was God in the beginning?”

“I will go back to the beginning before the world was, to show what kind of being God is. What sort of a being was God in the beginning? Open your ears and hear, all ye ends of the earth, for I am going to prove it to you by the Bible, and to tell you the designs of God in relation to the human race, and why He interferes with the affairs of man.

God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens! That is the great secret. If the veil were rent today, and the great God who holds this world in its orbit, and who upholds all worlds and all things by his power, was to make himself visible,—I say, if you were to see him today, you would see him like a man in form—like yourselves in all the person, image, and very form as a man; for Adam was created in the very fashion, image and likeness of God, and received instruction from, and walked, talked and conversed with him, as one man
talks and communes with another.

In order to understand the subject of the dead, for consolation of those who mourn for the loss of their friends, it is necessary we should understand the character and being of God and how he came to be so; for I am going to tell you how God came to be God. We have imagined and supposed that God was God from all eternity. I will refute that idea, and take away the veil, so that you may see.

These are incomprehensible ideas to some, but they are simple. It is the first principle of the Gospel to know for a certainty the Character of God, and to know that we may converse with him as one man converses with another, and that he was once a man like us; yea, that God himself, the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth, the same as Jesus Christ himself did; and I will show it from the Bible.” (Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, selected and arranged by Joseph Fielding Smith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1976], 345.)

The second Mormon prophet, Brigham Young, said,

“We cannot believe for a moment that God is destitute ofbody, parts, passions, or attributes… Our God and Father in Heaven, is a being of tabernacle, or, in other words, he has a body, with parts the same as you and I have; and is capable of showing forth his works to organized beings, as for instance, in the world in which we live, it is the result of the knowledge and infinite wisdom that dwell in his organized body. His Son Jesus Christ has become a personage of tabernacle, and has a body like his Father. (Brigham Young, Discourses of Brigham Young, selected and arranged by John A. Widtsoe [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1954], 23-24.)


Q5: If so, does the Church believe that God lives on a planet named Kolob?

A: ‘Kolob’ is a term found in ancient records translated by Joseph Smith. Joseph Smith did not provide a full description or explanation of Kolob nor did he assign the idea particular significance in relation to the Church’s core doctrines.

The ancient records spoken about in the LDS answer is most likely from the book of Abraham found in The Pearl of Great Price. Abraham 3:2-3 says of Kolob,

“And I saw the stars, that they were very great, and that one of them was nearest unto the throne of God; and there were many great ones which were near unto it; And the Lord said unto me: These are the governing ones; and the name of the great one is Kolob, because it is near unto me, for I am the Lord thy God: I have set this one to govern all those which belong to the same order as that upon which thou standest.”

Facsimile No. 2 from the book of Abraham explains that Kolob is “the first creation, nearest to the celestial, or the residence of God.”

Q6: Where is the planet Kolob? What significance does the planet have to Mormons?

A: ‘Kolob’ is a term found in ancient records translated by Joseph Smith. Joseph Smith did not provide a full description or explanation of Kolob nor did he assign the idea particular significance in relation to the Church’s core doctrines.

Answered above.

Q7: Does the Mormon Church believe that God and Mary had physical sex to conceive Jesus?

A: The Church does not claim to know how Jesus was conceived but believes the Bible and Book of Mormon references to Jesus being born of the Virgin Mary.

In the past, LDS authorities have spoken much more explicitly on the issue. Note that in Q2 the LDS answer was that Jesus is “literally the Son of God” and that “the Father, …has an immortal body.” What the Mormon Church does not want to explain is how a physical being can literally be the father of someone else without sexual relations. Let us look at what LDS leaders have taught in the past.

In an official LDS Church manual, sixth Mormon President Joseph F. Smith taught:

“Now, we are told in scriptures that Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of God in the flesh. Well, now for the benefit of the older ones, how are children begotten? I answer just as Jesus Christ was begotten of his father… Jesus is the only person who had our Heavenly Father as the father of his body” (Family Home Evening Manual, 1972, Joseph F. Smith, p.125, 126).

On page 126 of this official LDS Church manual, the following graphic is shown of the figures of a man, woman, and child. LDS parents are advised how they should use this graphic to illustrate to their children “how Jesus was the only begotten Son of God.” Daddy plus Mommy equals you; Heavenly Father plus Mary equals Jesus.

One of the most outspoken authorities of the LDS Church on this issue was late apostle, Bruce R. McConkie. Even though I vehemently disagree with what he taught, I appreciate his frankness and straight-forwardness on what he believed. Pay attention to McConkie’s explicit language.


“Christ was Begotten by an immortal Father in the same way that mortal men are begotten by mortal fathers” (Mormon Doctrine, 1966, p. 547).

“And Christ was born into the world as the literal Son of this Holy Being; he was born in the same personal, real, and literal sense that any mortal son is born to a mortal father. There is nothing figurative about his paternity; he was begotten, conceived and born in the normal and natural course of events, for he is the Son of God, and that designation means what it says” (Mormon Doctrine, 1966, p. 742).

“These name-titles all signify that our Lord is the only Son of the Father in the flesh. Each of the words is to be understood literally. Only means only; Begotten means begotten; and Son means son. Christ was begotten by an Immortal Father in the same way that mortal men are begotten by mortal fathers.” (Mormon Doctrine, 1979, pages 546-47)

Their testimony is that Mary’s son is God’s Son; that he was conceived and begotten in the normal way; that he took upon himself mortality by the natural birth processes; that he inherited the power of mortality from his mother and the power of immortality from his Father-in consequence of all of which he was able to work out the infinite and eternal atonement” (The Promised Messiah: The First Coming of Christ, p. 473).


This last quote is one that has some interesting language. Jesus was conceived in a normal way. I have had Mormons tell me that it is possible that Mary was artificially inseminated. I am quick to point out that this is not normal. One last thing. The fact that the LDS Church did not answer this question with a resounding “No!,” leaves open the possibility for an affirmative answer to this question. If the LDS Church does not believe that God and Mary had sex, why not just say so?

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