mormonism vrs christianity

From what I understand, Mormonism teaches that there are multiple levels of heaven—not just one as described in Christianity. I think it is correct to say that Mormonism is a “works” type of religion with fourteen steps or activities which must be climbed or accomplished in order to reach the highest level of heaven. Lower levels of heaven are populated by other Mormons in proportion to how many special activities they did accomplish. I am rather certain that a basic Mormon teaching is that non-Mormons will serve Mormons in the afterlife.

Christianity, on the other hand, is not a “works” religion. Christianity is based on the concept of grace. Though we aren’t perfect—we’ve sinned and missed God’s standards so many times—God chose to provide a way for us to be made clean in his eyes. We can never do enough to earn or deserve our salvation, so Jesus died in our place, taking on the penalty for our sins. That’s grace. Heaven and eternal life are freely given by grace through faith to all who surrender their lives in repentance and humility to Jesus Christ.

According to the Bible, and Jesus’ numerous declarations, He Himself is the only doorway into eternal life in Heaven. He clearly explained the His feelings in John 3:16-18: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”

Not only is believing in the crucified and resurrected Jesus essential to eternal salvation, the Apostle Paul elaborated on Jesus’ teaching by explaining that if any one teaches or trusts in anything in addition to the Work of Christ on the cross, they are deeply misguided and under the curse of God (“already condemned” is how Jesus put it). In Ephesians 2:8-9 Paul made clear that any attempts to climb steps or do special activities to earn a standing in Heaven are doomed to failure. He wrote: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.”

Paul’s gospel formula” was quite simple: “Faith in Christ + nothing else = salvation.” To put any thing else in the formula is to pervert the gospel. Evil teachers were perverting the gospel in by changing the formula to “Faith in Christ + the Jewish rite of circumcision = salvation.” In Galatians 1:6-9 Paul was pleading for the Galatian Christians not to be seduced by the new formula. With fire in his soul Paul wrote to them: “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!”

If I understand correctly, the Book of Mormon was delivered to Joseph Smith by the angel Maroni. As best I can tell, the salvation formula used in Mormonism is “Faith in Christ + other essential steps or activities = salvation.” Considering what he wrote to the Galatians, the Apostle Paul would be appalled at this “perverting” of the formula.

For further study you might want to read the following two books: “Mormonism 101: Examining the Religion of the Latter-day Saints” by Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker, 2000); and “Mormonism Unmasked: Confronting the Contradictions Between Mormon Beliefs and True Christianity” by R. Philip Roberts (Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 1998.)

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