Apologetics, In the News

Myths and Truths about Mormonism

Mormon journalist Joanna Brooks recently published an op-ed piece for the Washington Post entitled “Five Myths about Mormonism.” What Brooks purports to be myths are, for the most part, facts spun in favor of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS).

The idea that “Mormons aren’t Christian” is for Brooks a myth, who contends millions of members of the LDS pray in the name of Jesus Christ, receive “a bread-and-water sacrament memorializing the body and blood of Christ,” and discuss Christ’s teachings in Sunday school. In her youth, she remembers being accused of belonging to a “cult,” knowing about “anti-Mormon films” being screened at local churches, and receiving “anti-Mormon notes” taped to her school locker. But she resolves, “Ask my Jewish husband if he thinks his Christmas-celebrating, New Testament-reading Mormon wife is Christian, and his answer will be absolutely yes.”

Here it is important for discerning Christians to scale the language barrier. Mormonism uses Christian terms like “Jesus Christ,” but twists them with a theologically cultic redefinition. It is important to remember that Mormon founder Joseph Smith declared that all churches were wrong and all their creeds an abomination. In 1839, Smith purported seeing an angel named Moroni and receiving new divine revelation on gold plates written in “reformed Egyptian,” out of which came the Book of Mormon. Smith and other Mormon prophets received further revelations, which were then codified in the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price. Yet, it does not stop with this “quad” of books, and Mormon prophets continually purport to receive new divine revelations. From these new extra-biblical revelations, the Mormon learns that God was once a man who progressed to godhood [1] and that people can likewise progress to godhood [2]. They also learn that the polygamous “Heavenly Father” has many wives who are collectively called “Heavenly Mother” [3]. They moreover learn that Jesus was the child of the sexual union between God the Father and Mary [4] and is the spirit brother of Lucifer [5]. Mormons, moreover, reject the essential Christian doctrines of the Trinity [6], original sin [7], and salvation by grace through faith [8]. These beliefs distinguish Mormonism as a pseudo-Christian cult (see “The Basics of Mormonism,” “A Different Jesus? Worse: A Different God, Gospel and Faith,” “Is Jesus Christ the Spirit Brother of Satan?Pinning Down Mormon Doctrine Part 1, Pinning Down Mormon Doctrine Part 2 and “Philosophical Problems with the Mormon Concept Of God”).

There may be a grain of truth to what Brooks’ labels as myths, such as “Mormons practice polygamy,” “Mormon women are second-class citizens,” and “most Mormons are white, English-speaking conservatives.”

Brooks also correctly points out that polygamy was practiced by Mormons, that Joseph Smith had multiple wives, that due to “political pressure” the LDS “phased out the practice,” that mainstream Mormons anticipate polygamy in the afterlife (the Mormon Millennial Kingdom), and that there are fringe Mormon “splinter-groups” maintaining the practice. Nevertheless, the Bible condemns polygamy on either side of eternity (see “Does the Bible Promote Polygamy?”).

The belief of a Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother on the surface appears egalitarian; however, as mentioned above, the Mormon belief is in a polygamous Heavenly Father with many wives who are spoken of collectively as “Heavenly Mother.” One can even make the case that women are not really liberated in polygamous societies; rather, it is the uniquely Christian idea of monogamy coupled with the sexual ethics of the Bible that became a social structure contributing to the empowerment of women.

Mormonism even has a worldwide presence with converts from many different people groups; however, this is in spite of the fact that the LDS has through the years struggled with doctrines promoting discrimination and inequality, such as black skin being a curse on account of being less valiant people in their preexistence, and the former banning of blacks from the priesthood (see “LDS Church Acknowledges Anniversary’s Ban on Priesthood for Blacks”).

There are certainly a number of Mormons in public office, including Presidential hopefuls Mitt Romney (R) and Jon Huntsman Jr. (R), but also others including Senator Harry Reid (D). Brooks, however, considers the idea that “a Mormon president would blur the line between church and state” to be a myth and even notes that “for 2012, the church has asserted its neutrality and instructed employees and officers not to donate to, endorse or campaign for any candidate.” Still, it would be a mistake to think the religious beliefs of civic leaders have no influence on the policies they make, albeit a creed or confession is not a “deal breaker” when it comes to voting for a political candidate (see Is it Permissible for a Christian to Vote for a Mormon?).

— Warren Nozaki, Research

For further insights into the doctrinal errors of Mormonism, please consider Hank Hanegraaff’s latest resource Memorable Keys to the M-O-R-M-O-N Mirage

The following resources are also available through the CRI bookstore:

Mormonism 101

The Bible vs. The Book of Mormon

DNA vs. The Book of Mormon

Lifting The Veil Of Polygamy

Mormonism’s Greatest Problems Package


  1. The Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City, UT: Desert Book Company, 1979), 345.
  2. Milton R. Hunter, The Gospel Through the Ages (Salt Lake City, UT: 1958), 104.
  3. Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine (Salt Lake City, UT: Bookcraft, 1966), 516.
  4. McConkie, 546-547, 742; Orson Pratt, The Seer (Washington, DC: n.p., 1853-54), 158-59; Brigham Young, Desert News, October 10, 1866; Ezra Taft Benson, The Teaching of Ezra Taft Benson (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1988), 7.
  5. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Gospel Principles (Salt Lake City, UT: Church of Jesus Christ Latter-day Saints, 1992), 17–19.
  6. The Mormon belief is polytheistic, seeing a plurality of gods from the beginning, and the three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as three separate gods, as opposed to the Christian concept of the Trinity, which is there is one God who is revealed in three in coequal coeternal persons (cf. Joseph Smith, Jr., History of the Church, vol. 6. [Salt Lake City, UT: Desert Books, 1978] 473–479)
  7. cf. McConkie, 550; James E. Talmage, Articles of Faith (Salt Lake City, UT: Church of Jesus Christ Latter-day Saints, 1982), 476.
  8. cf. 2 Nephi 25:23; According to Joseph Fielding Smith, “to enter the celestial kingdom and obtain exaltation it is necessary that the whole law be kept” (Joseph Felding Smith, The Way of Perfection [Salt Lake City, UT: Desert Book Company, 1970], 206).
Journal Topics

Did Muhammad Believe in Women’s Rights?

If I turn on the news and watch a report on women in Islam, I might hear a Muslim woman talking about the revolutionary status Muhammad gave women through his revelations and teachings. In the United Kingdom, I might see an advertisement from the “Inspired by Muhammad” campaign proudly proclaiming that Muhammad believed in women’s rights. Yet, what would I find if I read through the basic Muslim texts: the Qur’an, the Hadith, and the Sira literature? Would the current push to reconcile the view of women in Islam with the Western ideology of women’s rights go hand-in-hand? No. The view of women established by the trilogy of Muslim texts does not provide much in common with Western ideology; specifically that which is based in Christian theology.

Muhammad was a sixth-century man, who unapologetically commanded a sixth-century view of women. Through the Qur’an, he instructed that women are provisions or possessions for men as are children, cattle, hoards of gold and silver, and well-tilled land (Surah 3:14). Men may have up to four wives with additional sexual slaves (Surah 4:3, 24; 33:50). He mandated the beating of women by men as punishment for rebellion (Surah 4:34). He also declared the woman as an intellectually inferior being (Surah 2:282) whose lack of common sense is one of the reasons women are a majority of those in Hell (Sahih Muslim #142).[1] Even in Paradise—in the afterlife—a woman is to be married to her earthly husband, serving him when called. (Sahih Bukhari #3820, 4879).

This picture of women contrasts the picture the apostle Paul and Jesus gave of women; which was counter-culture to the first century. Paul instructed that a wife should submit to her husband, but in the context of a husband loving his wife as himself; treating her as if she were his own flesh (Ephesians 5:28-31). Paul has seemingly created a paradox in that one spouse is to submit to another while equal respect is required in love. He additionally describes this love as the love Jesus Christ has for the church. How is this accomplished? Further, when Jesus is questioned concerning the resurrection and marriage, he declared that none are given in marriage in heaven (Matthew 22:30). Yet, in Islam, the woman is forever married to the man in heaven as part of his reward.

— Mary Jo Sharp

  1. Which view of women, when rooted in the texts and outworked philosophically, actually provides a foundation for the equality of the sexes in essence?
  2. Was Jesus’ view of women aligned with first-century culture like Muhammad’s view of women was aligned with sixth-century culture?
  3. Why are we seeing such a push in America by Muslims to reconcile their doctrine on women with Western philosophy?


[1] There are at least 48 individual hadith on this one topic.

Mary Jo Sharp is the founder of Confident Christianity Apologetics Ministry and a graduate of Biola University. She participates in public, formal debates on Islam and appears on the Aramaic Broadcasting Network show, Jesus or Muhammad, engaging in live debate with callers from around the world. She will join Hank Hanegraaff on the Bible Answer Man broadcast on Oct. 11, 2011 to discuss her Christian Research Journal (Vol 34 #5) article about Islam and women on which this blog post is based. Tune in at 6PM ET at our website, www.equip.org to listen to their conversation on 10/11. To read the full article by Mary Jo, please subscribe to the Journal (6 issues for $39.50).