by Zachary Wright

As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we often run into people who criticize us for our beliefs.  I served my mission in a place where the Church was often criticized by General Christians who wanted me to abandon my faith and accept what they believed to be “the true Jesus”.  While they may seem confusing at first, it’s a common phenomenon for many Christians to believe that we, as members of the church, aren’t true Christians, and that we consequently, will be going to Hell.  However, in my experience, I’ve found that many Christian antagonists of the church often bring a number of ideas that have questionable reality.  This is what I want to focus on today.

In order to explore the dangers of some presuppositions those who oppose the Restoration often present, I wanted to focus this episode on Apologia Church in Arizona, specifically their pastors, Jeff Durbin and James White.  They are a Denominational Baptist church, with a Reformed or Calvinist view of Salvation or Soteriology. Their pastors frequently level attacks against LDS Theology based on the presupposition we are not saved. Their claim is largely focused on three main areas of contention, which included:

  1. We worship a God who is not the “God of the Bible”. 
  2. We believe in a “different” or “false” Jesus not depicted in the Biblical texts which can therefore not “save” as they define that term. 
  3. They believe we reject the “free grace” of God offered through Jesus as a result of our belief in “works” as a necessary evidence of our Covenant relationship with God. 

From these ideas, they state that we as members of the church cannot be saved.  They’ve produced many tracts and pamphlets explaining why they label us in this way. I will address a common one entitled: ‘The Gospel for Mormons’. As we discuss the issues, I will also share clips from a discussion a fellow Latter-day Saint had with members of the Apologia Church based in Utah to highlight some of the issues we face and the dangers of the presuppositions which form the foundation of their attacks. By using some of the skills we’ve learned throughout this series, we’re going to address the complaints found therein.

The pamphlet’s text will be in red. My references will be scattered throughout the response (as opposed to the end as they have been in previous articles), and I’ve added parentheticals in some instances to help clarify words that most people don’t know about, such as “soteriology” previously mentioned. If there are mistakes, they are the mistakes of men.

Let’s get into it.


The Mormon church teaches a message that sounds so similar to Christianity, but it is fundamentally a different Gospel that cannot save.

Apologia Studios

It is a common misunderstanding, if an intentional misrepresentation, of those associated with Apologia to call the Church, “The Mormon Church”. Many who are hostile to the Church similarly refuse to call the church by its proper name. 

(Kylie clip #1)

We are The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which I will shorten to “The Church of Jesus Christ”. I don’t care as much about how people first hear our names (Jesus himself was known by many names) and the Church he founded was called “The Way” as in Acts and its members “Saints” as we do today. This pamphlet however, reiterates the same hostility as those who labeled the Saints at Antioch “Christians” or “Christ Worshippers” in derision. Interesting those who claim allegiance with Christ adopt the tactics of His opposition.  The idea that these pastors refuse the basic requests of what the church wishes to be called already indicates a lack of respect

The “gospel” is found in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4.  It’s the fact that Jesus came, died for us, and then rose again so that all may return to His presence.  The LDS scriptures support that fully and completely as well (See D&C 76:40-42, 3 Nephi 27:13-14, 3rd article of faith, etc).  There is no “Contrary Gospel” taught in The Church of Jesus Christ today.  Joseph Smith is said to have taught:

The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith [1976], 121, link here).

When asked by those not of our Faith, this should be our response to “what is ‘The Gospel’?”


The lie was that the Heavenly Father came to Joseph Smith and told him not to join any church because they had it all wrong. All their creeds were an abomination, and all denominations were corrupt. So Joseph told the world that God had told him that the Christian church had fallen away, and it needed to be restored.

This is an interesting claim which presupposes religious claims are subject to some objective criteria which would identify them as “true” and a person might “lie”.  This claim could not be other than an opinion based on perspective. Unless those associated with Apologia have some way to affirmatively disprove Joseph’s claim made on The Joseph Smith History respecting his interactions with God, I’m not sure how this could be a “lie”? Additionally, the claim “all churches” that existed then were “wrong” is (objectively speaking) an opinion, not a misstatement of fact that could form the basis of a lie. Representing as “a lie” someone’s admitted religious beliefs cannot be other than a product of deceit lacking context. 

Considering the substance of Joseph’s claim to a restoration as a way to overcome a rejection of Prophets as seen in Matthew 23, is an objective claim for example, just ask Apologia if they accept the possibility of living Prophets and additional scripture consistent with the claims of Jesus and Paul.

Other churches chose to reject the concept of divine messengers, a hallmark of the original church established by God.  Our belief is that such practices, and others, needed to be restored.  Are they claiming this wasn’t the case?  If so, why?  They never explain.

One might initially point to Hebrews 1:1-2, which many General Christians will use to show that God doesn’t call messengers anymore. ​ However, this is a self-defeating idea…The Book of Hebrews was (allegedly) written by an apostle/prophet, and future books were written by apostles/prophets.

This is a lie because two thousand years before Joseph came along with this revelation, God said that he would build his church, and “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” 

This interpretation causes some problems for their position, not only logically because of their reliance on the doctrines of the Protestant Reformation (more on that in a moment), but also because what this tract is extrapolating is a translation variation that doesn’t match the true meaning of the Biblical Greek.

In the original Greek, this passage in Matthew 16:18 does not say “the gates of hell” as this argument claims, but rather “καὶ πύλαι ᾅδου” (pronounced Keh Pee-leh Ah-thoo) or “the gates of hades”.  Most modern translations render this passage this way, and the fact that Pastor Durbin “reads Greek” and neglects to mention this important nuance is equally disconcerting.  Hades was universally understood then as the place where spirits go after this life, making this phrase here a direct reference to physical death.  Even Bible lexicons as old as Thayer’s refer to this place as the “the realm of the dead” (link here).  If you don’t believe me, consider the following reference that links death with Hades from the Wisdom of Solomon (written about a century earlier):

12 For neither herb nor poultice cured them, but it was your word, O Lord, that heals all people.

13 For you have power over life and death; you lead mortals down to the gates of Hades and back again. (Wisdom of Solomon 16:12-13 NRSV, updated edition)

As we can see, even in ancient sources, there is a connection between “Hades” and “death”.  We can even consult this elementary commentary on the verse;

[The Gates of Hades is] a familiar ancient expression for the realm of the dead (both in Greek literature, and in the Greek translation of the biblical gates of Sheol or death, e.g. Job 38:17, Isaiah 38:10); even martyrdom (vv. 21,24) cannot stop God’s plan (NRSV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible, pg 1659, online version can be bought here)

The NET Bible commentary also suggests that “Gates of Hades” be understood as the “power of death” (link here, best accessed on computer).  Did physical death conquer the church?  Did death defeat or conquer Jesus upon His own fate on the Cross?  Theologically speaking, no, because thanks to Jesus Christ, all will be resurrected as He was.  Already, this passage is being stripped from its context and exegetical meaning by the presented argument.

Let me turn the question back onto Apologia Church:  What is (or which is) the church that the gates of Hades would not prevail against?  What were its structure and teachings?  Are these pastors claiming that the protestants (and especially those who are Calvinist or Reformed) adheres completely to those structures and teachings, including, but not limited to, Baptismal regeneration, Apostolic leadership, Salvation, Scriptural Interpretation, etc?  Can these pastors demonstrate that Protestant theology (e.g. Sola Fide, Optional baptism, etc.) has existed as far back as Christ’s ministry?  Who would they consider to be a “proto-Protestant” before the 15th or 16th centuries?

In Jude 3 we are told to earnestly contend for the faith, which was once for all delivered to the saints–already.

Where are they getting “already” from?  I could be mistaken, but I don’t see that word in this verse.  

(Kylie video #3)

As seen here, the usage of this passage is absurd in this context. Not only would their interpretation presume to close the canon with these verses in Jude, but another problem arises.

LDS scholar John Tvedtnes makes an excellent point that Abraham was taught the gospel (Gal 3:8), so is Jude correct in saying that the gospel was only delivered once and for all?  If the Gospel is never to be revealed again, what use is there for the angel in Revelation 14:6-7 to come to deliver the gospel? Understanding the verse the way the pamphlet is using it provides conflicts and contradictions in the Bible.  Is the idea that the Bible has contradictions a position Pastor White and Pastor Durbin are willing to concede?

The promise given to us in Daniel 7:13-14 is that the Messiah would come and that he would have a kingdom that would never be destroyed. Speaking of that promised Kingdom, Jesus said in Mark 1 that, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand.”

Let’s pretend that this interpretation regarding apostasy is what the author of the Book of Daniel meant for a minute.  Seeing as Daniel 7:16-22 seems to indicate that this time of “spreading the gospel” occurs before “the judgment”, who is to say that the kingdom of God would be done “rolling forth” until that time?  That alleged apostasy wouldn’t even really affect this interpretation of Daniel’s prophecy, seeing as all God would have to do is ensure that the gospel was done rolling forth by that time.  With this in mind, where do these passages exclude a chance of apostasy?

Scripture tells us that the Messiah has been seated on his throne; he is King of kings and Lord of lords. He brought the kingdom already. Joseph was two thousand years behind.

Jesus brought it, the people rejected it, and Jesus restored it again the same way he did it all the other times in scriptural history: by calling a messenger.  Seeing as God called messengers in both the Old and the New Testaments, why would God just stop doing that in our day?  The burden of proof would be on those using this argument against the Church to demonstrate why this is no longer the case if they are using the Biblical texts. 

(Kylie clip #4)

That’s why this really is about God and His gospel. We are told,
“Before me there was no god formed, neither shall there be after me.” (Isaiah 43:10)
“I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no God.” (Isaiah 44:6)

Putting aside for the moment the fact that historically the Jews believed in the existence of other Gods, let’s break down the wording for these verses.

The phrase “None else besides me” is a Hebrew figure of speech to mean “the best of them all”. The linked verses below are where the phrase is used in a boasting sense.  Consider how Isaiah 47:8 used this phrase:

8 Therefore [Babylon] hear now this, thou that art given to pleasures, that dwellest carelessly, that sayest in thine heart, I am, and none else beside me; I shall not sit as a widow, neither shall I know the loss of children: (Emphasis added)

Or even Zephaniah 2:15, which states:

15 This is the rejoicing city [Nineveh] that dwelt carelessly, that said in her heart, I am, and there is none beside me: how is she become a desolation, a place for beasts to lie down in! every one that passeth by her shall hiss, and wag his hand. (Emphasis added)

Are these anthropomorphized cities claiming to be the only cities in existence?  Not at all, rather these cities of Babylon or Nineveh are just claiming they’re the best or the most powerful.  Therefore, this would entail that Isaiah’s claim about God is not that He was the only one, but rather that He was the most powerful.

To support this argument further, we can turn to other ancient documents.  The Thanksgiving Scroll, numbered among the Dead Sea Scrolls, affirms this point, and offers clarification to the nature of the ancient Israelite belief (and accurately reflects the grammatical argument I’m making in this section):

See, you are the prince of the Gods and the king of the glorious ones, lord of every spirit ruler of every creature.  Apart from you, nothing happens, and nothing is known without your will.  There is no-one besides you, no-one matches your strength, nothing equals your glory, there is no price on your might. -1QHa XVIII 8-10 (Emphasis Added)

As we can read here, we have God being represented as being the greatest among all the Elohim, and yet being told that “There is no-one besides you”.  Again, even if we were to reject these passages as being “non-biblical”, the grammatical argument still stands.  With this information in mind, how do these verses demonstrate a belief that God is the only God in existence?

But Joseph Smith disagreed. He said “We have imagined and supposed that God was God from all eternity, I will refute that idea, and will take away and do away the veil, so that you may see… you have got to learn how to be God’s yourselves, and to be kings and priests to God, the same as all Gods have done before you.” (Journal of Discourses, Volume 6 pgs. 3-4).

The historical best practice here is to go back to the original sources, that is, the original documents given by Willard Richards, William Clayton, Wilford Woodruff, and Thomas Bullock.  None of them say verbatim what they claim was said (link here)

Let’s put aside the fact that the LDS belief system doesn’t condemn anyone from believing in eternal regression or not, and even a notable few general authorities have seemed to view the King Follett Discourse differently than what is implied from the contextually butchered passage cited above.  This concern is still predicated on the idea that teaching the existence of multiple gods/elohim is wrong, when that, of course, still needs to be demonstrated.


This goes against everything God says who he is. In Deuteronomy 6 he tells us that He’s the only God and the only God that has ever been. 

See previous, but to prove the point I made before about this strict monotheistic belief of the Israelites being anachronistic, consider this quote made by a study bible brought up by the Jewish Publication Society:

Many modern readers regard the Shema [Deut 6:4] as an assertion of monotheism, a view that is anachronistic. In the context of ancient Israelite religion, it served as a public proclamation of exclusive loyalty to YHWH as the sole Lord of Israel . . . the v. makes not a quantitative argument (about the number of deities) but a qualitative one, about the nature of the relationship between God and Israel. Almost certainly, the original force of the v., as the medieval Jewish exegetes [noted], was to demand that Israel show exclusive loyalty to our God, YHWH–but not thereby to deny the existence of other gods. In this way, it assumes the same perspective as the first commandment of the Decalogue, which, by prohibiting the worship of other gods, presupposes their existence. (The Jewish Study Bible [2d ed.; New York: Oxford University Press, 2014], 361, link here)

This makes sense.  After all, didn’t God just finish saying that they shouldn’t put any other gods before him (Exodus 20:3), again implying that the Israelites believed in the existence of other gods?  I challenge Pastor Durbin and White to refute the argument itself instead of dismissing it as “liberal scholarship”.  Why would this interpretation of the OT here be incorrect?

Also, consider another refutation to this argument by Paula Frederiksen, in Bible Review 19:01 (February 2003):

In antiquity, all monotheists were polytheists….No ancient monotheist was a modern monotheist. Divinity expressed itself along a gradient, and the High God—be he pagan, Jewish or Christian—hardly stood alone. Lesser divinities filled in the gap, cosmic and metaphysical, between humans and God (link here)

These quotes should do for now, but there are plenty more.  

The Bible teaches plainly that there is only one God and he eternally exists as three persons, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Where does it plainly say He exists as one God in three persons?  No text of the Bible states this

(Kylie clip #5)

 When John 1 says “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” it is speaking of Jesus.


 We are told that Jesus created everything in existence and without him, nothing has come in to being that came into being (John 1:3).  Jesus is God who took on flesh, John 1:14 goes on to tell us that God took on flesh and He dwelt among us. The one and only true God, in the person of Jesus Christ, the creator of all things, came into his own creation and took on flesh. He is not a created being. 

A common mistake in claiming Latter-day Saints believe in a “different Jesus” is this:

(Kylie clip #6)

The LDS church does not teach that Christ was a created being.  God and all of God’s spirit children are eternal and have always existed (see D&C 93).  Even the King Follett Sermon they cited earlier (from the version they cited earlier) affirms this fact when it says “I am dwelling on the immortality of the spirit of man. Is it logical to say that the intelligence of spirits is immortal, and yet that it has a beginning? The intelligence of spirits [has] no beginning, neither will it have an end.” (link here)  With this in mind, how does this aspect of LDS theology contradict John 1:3, and other creation passages regarding Jesus?  After all, John 1:3 (in most translations) is rendered as God creating everything that was made.  If we were not “made” then how does this passage contradict LDS theology?

It is true that God is our Father.  He organized and formed our spirit bodies, and I would rightfully classify that as a type of creation.  That being said, that tenet of our beliefs does not counteract the idea that our intelligences have always existed.  In this manner, we both have been created, and have also always existed.  They would need to unequivocally prove Creatio Ex-Nihilo (Creation from nothing) to counteract the LDS position on this.

He is not the spirit offspring of heavenly father and one of his goddess wives, which is what Mormonism teaches (see: Messages of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 4:327ff).

Their source is interesting.  Anyone can look at a photocopy of the source in question here.  It does, in fact, refer to the concept that Jesus Christ is the literal son of Heavenly Father (it cites Brigham Young’s comments on the matter to support this).  It does not, however, affirm any kind of polygamy in the heavens, nor does it imply that Jesus is the offspring of said polygamy.

Charles Harrell aptly points out that a notable few cautioned against inferences that involved any kind of sexual intimacy between God and Mary (See This Is My Doctrine, pg 182, link here), and the church publicly condemned Orson Pratt’s magazine The Seer when he tried to propagate the idea (among other things) that God had multiple wives (link here).  More can be said about this, but with these sources in mind, does that sound like a resounding affirmation among the leaders (or even the church as a whole) regarding this doctrine?

“For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.  He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” -Colossians 1:16-17

Jesus created all things.  He is not Lucifer’s brother—He is the creator of Lucifer.  

Doesn’t this verse contradict the argument they were trying to make with Isaiah 43:10?  As they state, if Satan was created by Jesus Christ, and if Paul is correct in calling him a θεός (pronounced “theos” the Greek term meaning “god”, and is the exact term used to describe Satan in 2 Cor 4:4.  It’s how the term Elohim is rendered in the LXX), wouldn’t that contradict the argument they just made that God is the only true deity in existence that no other one exists?

And before anyone tells me that this isn’t what Paul meant, I’ll remind the reader that even older sources like Thayer’s Bible Lexicon states that “θεός is used of whatever can in any respect be likened to God, or resembles him in any way” (link here), and that the same Greek term using the same conjugation is used in reference to God a few verses later.  “Elohim” is used in a similar way in the OT, and I’ve already discussed in part the ancient Israelite understanding that there are multiple upper-tier Elohim.  The argument here is that Satan is a lesser god, one that isn’t ultimately sovereign, but a god nonetheless, which actually lines up closer to the original conception of Satan in the Hebrew Bible.

Consider how non-LDS scholar Cory Baugher puts it:

The sons of God (bene ’elohim) are divine, spiritual beings that rule on Yahweh’s behalf (Gen. 6:4; Deut. 32:8; Ps. 29:1; Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7). The Hebrew phrase “son(s) of x” means the son(s) is the same essence as x, so son(s)= x…These sons of God are a part of the divine council of Yahweh. They serve as His council, representatives, and host (army). (link here)

In other words, the members of the divine Council, were the same essence as God, and acted on his behalf.  He then cites Job Chapter 1 to prove his point, saying that the figure “Satan” used to be a member of the Divine Council.  I’ll use a translation that I think shows his point better, and will likely be more acceptable to the reader, and to Pastor White and Pastor Durbin.

Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them. (Job 1:6 ESV)

After citing this scripture, this scholar continues:

The Hebrew word the satan [or “Satan”] means “adversary” and is always translated as “adversary” except in Job 1:6-12; 2:1-7; and Zech. 3:1-2 with no real contextual or theological evidence for it. All other times the Hebrew word the satan appears it is translated as the noun “adversary” (Num. 22:22, 32; 1 Sam. 29:4; 2 Sam. 19:22; 1 Kgs. 5:4; 1 Kgs. 11:14, 23; 1 Chr. 21:1; Ps. 109:6) or the verb “accuser” (Ps. 38:20; Ps. 71:13; Ps. 109:4; Ps. 109:20; Ps. 109:29; Zech. 3:1).” (link here; Minor edits in brackets made for ease of reading)

This is a little technical, but this scholar is basically saying that Satan, or “the accuser” on God’s behalf, was initially understood in Hebrew thought as being a member of the “sons of God”, who were of the “same essence” as God.  They were given authority by God to rule over nations, but ultimately were under God’s power.  The ways that the concept of “satan” have developed over history are complicated, but the reader can analyze the cited article if they don’t believe me.  When we take these ideas for what they were, any historical argument that Paul is only metaphorically referring to Satan as being “like a god, but not really one in essence”, would be based on assumptions in light of the previously cited sources I mentioned.  And yet, this doesn’t contradict any claims the Bible makes about God’s superiority.  Baugher continues:

Though the Bible clearly teaches that other gods do exist, it all makes it clear that Yahweh is absolutely sovereign over these gods as totally unique and incomparable. (ibid)

(Kyle clip #7)

Therefore, under the line of logic here in the pamphlet’s argument, either Pastor Durbin and Pastor White must accept that the Bible contradicts itself, or accept that this verse is saying something else.  There’s more that can be said about this passage NOT being monotheistic, but this tangent is long enough already.

Going back to the “Jesus and Lucifer are brothers” thing, in case anyone wanted some other quotes to think about, let’s consider what some of these earlier Christians had to say when commenting on the Septuagint (The Greek translation of the Old Testament) rendering of what is now known as Psalm 110.  Note whom they refer to as coming out of the womb after Jesus Christ:

The womb of the Lord – the hidden recess of Deity out of which He brought forth His Son. In the Psalm: Out of the womb, before Lucifer, have I borne Thee [the Son]. (Melito, Bishop of Sardis, link here)

Listen to the voice of the Father to the Son: ‘Before Lucifer I have begotten Thee.’ He who was begotten before Lucifer Himself illuminates all. A certain one was named Lucifer, who fell; for he was an angel and became a devil; and concerning him the Scripture said, “Lucifer, who did arise in the morning, fell.”And why was he Lucifer? Because, being enlightened, he gave forth light. But for what reason did he become dark! Because he abode not in the truth. (Augustine, Homilies and Tractates on the Gospel of John, Tractate III, Chapter 1, 15-18, 7, link here)

Therefore wilt thou give them up, until the time that she which travaileth hath brought forth: then the remnant of his brethren shall return unto the children of Israel. For in thee was born the prince begotten before Lucifer, whose birth from the Father is before all time. (Jerome, Epistle to Eustochium, Letter 108, 10, link here)

The tradition behind these texts is tricky, I understand that.  However, these quotes clearly indicate that they believed that Jesus and Lucifer were begotten from the same womb.  Would they deny that these early bishops, leaders, and apologists were Christians for believing that Lucifer was begotten of the Father after Jesus Christ was?  How would their teachings differ from the LDS conceptualization of how Jesus and Lucifer were “brothers” so to speak?

This is important because the Mormon church teaches a message that sounds so similar to Christianity, but is fundamentally a gospel that cannot save.  It teaches another Christ, and that is a Christ that cannot save you.

(Kyle clip #8)

With all due respect, according to their soteriology (i.e. the understanding of how to be saved), the only person ultimately responsible for the people who aren’t saved is God.  Why?  Because according to them, God created every aspect of us, including our desires and abilities, and controls and wills the occurrences leading up to everything that happened/happens to us.  The burden of proof is on them to explain why God created people in such a way where they would almost have no choice but to disobey (or as John Calvin taught, be willed to disobey), and then punish the people for doing exactly what He designed and willed them to do.

Again, if I am, or anyone else is, misunderstanding their positions, I openly invite correction, but the natural conclusions that are drawn from Calvinism, Creation Ex-Nihilo, and an Unknowable God are rather disconcerting. 

End Part #1

It’s a Christ that is not found in scripture, and Jesus says in John 14:6 that He is the way, the truth, the life, and no man comes to the Father except through Him.

The Trinity is a concept that is foreign to biblical texts as well.  For example, Greek terms like “Homoousios” (found in the Nicene creed meaning “one in substance”, which later creeds developed to mean “Consubstantial”) are not found describing God in the Bible (sources indicate that more of it came from influences of Greek philosophy, link here).  You can’t find the concepts of these words either when it comes to describing God.  This argument about something being absent from scripture may come across as hypocritical.


Jesus is the only way we can have peace with God,


Mormonism teaches of a different Christ.

Different than what version of Christ? The Bible’s version?  With all due respect, that’s the version I’ve been working off of so far.  I’ve demonstrated that the verses they’ve cited don’t support their arguments when scrutinized on a historical and/or exegetical level.  I don’t blame them, that’s a problem with the arguments they present and their interpretation of the Bible.  I have nothing against them personally.  Still, they have yet to demonstrate how our “Christ” stands contradictory to anything that the biblical texts teach about him.

It actually tells people that you can, through obedience to the laws and principles of the gospel, move your way through exaltation to become a god or goddess of your own planet, like the god of this earth did, and hardly anything could be further from the truth.  

This argument grossly misrepresented LDS belief.  I already talked about how we’re under no obligation to assume that God the Father was a human being like us.  The LDS church has never taught that strict obedience earns our salvation.  Instead, verses of the contextual LDS scripture teach:

I say, if ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants. (Mosiah 2:21)

And moreover, I say unto you, that salvation doth not come by the law alone; and were it not for the atonement, which God himself shall make for the sins and iniquities of his people, that they must unavoidably perish, notwithstanding the law of Moses. (Mosiah 13:28)

Now they did not suppose that salvation came by the law of Moses; but the law of Moses did serve to strengthen their faith in Christ; and thus they did retain a hope through faith, unto eternal salvation, relying upon the spirit of prophecy, which spake of those things to come. (Alma 25:16, emphasis added)

Ultimately, exaltation is given by God’s grace as we prove our loyalty to him.  Do these LDS scriptures say that we earn our way to heaven?  If not, why would they be included in our modern-day scriptures?  Why wouldn’t modern prophets (or even Joseph Smith) just edit them out?

One may initially bring up Moroni 10:32 to claim that grace saves us only after we serve God with all our “heart, might, mind and strength”.  However, one need only read the next verse to see that Moroni clarifies his point by saying:

And again, if ye by the grace of God are perfect in Christ, and deny not his power, then are ye sanctified in Christ by the grace of God, through the shedding of the blood of Christ, which is in the covenant of the Father unto the remission of your sins, that ye become holy, without spot. (Moroni 10:33)

Furthermore, regarding their assertion that we as LDS believe that we can become a “god or goddess of their own planet”, I assert that this is a gross oversimplification of our belief.  Here is what I think can be clearly said about the matter.

  • We believe in the concept of Exaltation, wherein we will become like God (See D&C 76:58), even so, claims about us getting our own planet are not found in the scriptural canon
  • Many Latter-day Saints are partial to a belief in a “creative potential in the eternities” (link here)
  • Some leaders of the church have provided commentary as to what they believe that creative potential entails.  For example, Spencer W. Kimball stated that “We educate ourselves in the secular field and in the spiritual field so that we may one day create worlds, people and govern them.” (link here, but it’s originally found in Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball).
  • With this in mind, church leaders have consistently leaned away from the idea that we “get planets” as some kind of reward for us and our posterity to live on (link here)

I think this is where people get confused about the church’s dialogue on this.  This doctrine isn’t the equivalent of God patting us on the back, and giving us a lollipop at the end of a doctor’s visit.  Such sentiments of creating worlds reflect the idea that we are participating in the activities that God does, and they would need to demonstrate how this is a theologically problematic doctrine.  

The bible teaches that there is only one God eternal, and we will never be a God one day.

It’s worth mentioning that many of the early church fathers believed in a concept of deification.  However, it’s worth noting that some differences exist between their concept of deification and ours (which chiefly had to do with how they viewed our relationship to God due to the convergence of Greek Philosophy with Christianity).  These discrepancies pose no threat to LDS theology for a few reasons, mostly due to the relationship prophets have with scripture intertwined with the concept of modern revelation.  

Why would it be a problem to believe in the LDS concept of deification in light of modern revelation?  We don’t believe that we will replace God anymore than we believe that Jesus Christ replaces God the Father in our theology.  They would need to demonstrate how this understanding of deification is incorrect (after, of course, proving Sola Scriptura due to its relationship to my argument about modern revelation).

So the important question is this: how can we know this God?  It’s not about minor differences, musical style, color of carpet in church, or whether or not you drink coffee.  It’s really a question of how we can be reconciled to God and have peace with Him? 

How can we be reconciled to God?  Through Jesus Christ.  That is what the LDS scriptures and leaders universally teach.

 The Bible says in Romans 3 that there is none righteous, no not one.  There are none who seek after God, that there is no fear of God before our eyes.  Paul goes on to say that we are justified by faith alone, apart from works of law.  He says that the Law, and our inability to fulfill it, can only reveal our sin to us and shut our mouths before a Holy God.

I’m going to assume that they’re referring to the Law of Moses here, seeing as that is what Paul is referring to in his epistle to the Romans.  See the above-stated Book of Mormon scriptures about how the Law doesn’t save us, rather it is “faith unto salvation”.  It is clear that the Book of Mormon and the Bible are united at least in that regard.

The only question to reconcile at this point is what Paul meant here when he talked about faith.  We’ve talked about faith previously, back when I talked about logical fallacies, but to recap it’s likely that being “saved by faith,” doesn’t mean “Salvation for a mere intellectual acceptance of Jesus”; rather it is a loyalty that saves us or a belief that leads to action (Note again that this is a linguistic and historical argument, not a theological one). This is affirmed by LDS and Non-LDS scholars alike (link here and here), but think about how this interpretation resembles the LDS position on faith and salvation.  Would anyone who affirms the idea that “faith” mean “faithfulness or loyalty”, be labeled as “non-Christian”?  Would these pastors, with equal ferocity, label their fellow Evangelical scholars as being “non-Christian”?

Since what Jesus says is true, and he said the wrath of God abides on us, how can we hope to have eternal life?

Through Jesus Christ.


Our hope is in the gospel because of what he did. 


 Jesus is the one true God in the flesh, Who went to the cross to take full punishment for his people. What they deserved, He took.  He was buried, and he rose again.  This was not so you could have His work in addition to your good works.  

See my comments above on faith and loyalty.  On top of that, James seems to indicate that good works/actions are an important aspect of faith.  

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you?

If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,” and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that?

So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead. (James 2:14-17 NRSV)

How should we understand these verses?  Is there any conflict here between what I’ve demonstrated about the LDS concept of faith, and what is discussed in the Book of James?

The Bible says that our good works are nothing but filthy rags to God.  Consider this: Galatians 5 tells us that we are severed from Christ if we seek to be justified by the Law.

“You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law;” (Galatians 5:4)

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)

As stated previously, the Book of Mormon teaches the same thing.  The church just holds a deeper understanding of faith thanks to historical context and modern revelation.

Compare that to the Mormon Teaching:

“for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.” (2 Nephi 25:23)

We’ve talked about this verse already back in my Logical Fallacies video, but to recap, the phrase “after all you can do” likely means “in spite of all we do”, and one can read more about this claim in the link here.  It’s basically the same way we use the phrase “after all I’ve done”, If I was to say “Can you forgive me…after all I’ve done?” I’m not asking for forgiveness because of what I’ve done, rather, I’m asking for forgiveness in spite of what I’ve done.

The beauty and freedom found in the gospel is this: Christ became a curse to His people.  There is no work that you can do to help establish your own righteousness.  Galatians 3 actually tells us that if you try to establish that righteousness for yourself, the Law will become a curse to you.  But instead, Christ became a curse for God’s people by taking the punishment they deserved and giving them a righteousness that’s not their own.

The beauty of the restored Gospel is that Jesus saves us, and we can understand and strengthen our faithful relationship with Jesus Christ in a more profound way thanks to modern scripture, and divine revelation.  We can have an assurance of our good standing with him.  Jesus Christ is the way to return to the Father.  On top of that, we continue to receive modern revelation from chosen messengers of God, who provide increased insight into what He wants for us today.  While I understand their position, I fundamentally reject it, because to do otherwise would be to reject the truths that God has revealed today.  The heavens are opened, and the Lord God Almighty speaks.

He lives, and He guides his people.  I think I speak for most, if not all, of us when I say that we want all people to come and see it for themselves, and appreciate what we have to offer.  If these pastors refuse to do so, I respect their decision but cordially ask that they cease their unwarranted assault on His true and living church.

Zachary Wright


Now, if anyone from Apologia church is hearing, reading, or watching this, I want to reinforce this idea right now that I’m trying to act in good faith here.  I’m not deliberately trying to mislead, and I’m willing to engage with you on this.  If you have any questions, I urge you to reach out to me so we can have further discussion.  I am more than happy to edit my article, revise my position, and even delete these videos if you can unequivocally prove that my position is wrong.  Even so, I think that the points I have presented here pose a serious problem for the conclusions you’re trying to reach, and I plead with you to not dismiss them.

As for everyone else, I want you to consider what principles I employed from previous videos to help me arrive at my conclusions.  What questions did I ask?  How did I evaluate my sources?  What logical arguments did I present?  What epistemic sources did I pull from to establish my points?  What misinformation did I try to correct, and how did I try to correct it?  If you look hard enough, you’ll be able to see my methodology, and you can decide for yourself whether you find my points to be convincing.  As you do so, I hope you’re able to recognize how asking these questions pertains to critical thinking, and I hope that being able to use these skills can teach you to be the kinds of thinkers and believers God wants us all to be.


Zachary Wright was born in American Fork, UT.  He served his mission speaking Spanish in North Carolina and the Dominican Republic.  He currently attends BYU studying psychology, but loves writing, and studying LDS theology and history.  His biggest desire is to help other people bring them closer to each other, and ultimately bring people closer to God.

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