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Aug

Mormonism’s Road to God: Rituals and Rules

   Posted by: Rob Bowman   in Mormonism

Your Path to Heavenly Father

The July 2016 issue of Friend, a Mormon periodical for teaching children, includes an article entitled “Your Path to Heavenly Father.” The article presents a game to teach children to recognize the “necessary steps” to salvation or to going back to Heavenly Father, and to distinguish those steps from other mundane activities such as biking or reading. Here is the list of “steps to salvation”:

  1. Premortal life
  2. Get a body
  3. Be baptized
  4. Receive the Holy Ghost
  5. Take the sacrament
  6. Keep the commandments
  7. Go to the temple
  8. Be sealed to your husband or wife
  9. Be resurrected

Strikingly, the list says nothing about repenting of one’s sins or putting faith in Jesus Christ as one’s Savior. Instead, the “steps” are all about undergoing rituals and following rules. The first two steps are beyond anyone’s control and according to LDS theology have already happened to everyone who is ever born on earth, so we can set those aside.  The last step, being resurrected, also happens to everyone, or virtually everyone, according to Mormon doctrine, with the only question being to which heavenly kingdom one will go after being resurrected. This leaves six steps for mortals to take, the ones numbered 3 through 8 above. Of these six steps, five are rituals that must be performed in the LDS Church:

  • Mormonism recognizes only the LDS Church’s own baptisms as valid; therefore, one must be baptized as a Mormon to be saved and return to Heavenly Father. LDS theology does allow that a person can receive Mormon baptism by proxy after death, but the point remains that LDS baptism is required. Either the person must himself be baptized in the LDS Church, or a member of the LDS Church must be baptized on his behalf.
  • To receive the Holy Ghost, according to Mormonism, one must undergo a ritual in which an authorized priesthood holder in the LDS Church lays hands on the individual. One does not receive the Holy Ghost simply by faith in Jesus Christ (which again this article did not even mention!), but by participation in the LDS Church’s ritual. Making reception of the Holy Spirit dependent on a religious organization’s ritual is contrary to the biblical gospel.
  • “The sacrament” in Mormon language refers to what Christians call the Eucharist, Communion, or the Lord’s Supper. Again, the LDS Church claims that its members alone are authorized by God to perform this ritual. Regular participation in “the sacrament” is required for salvation. The Mormon claim to a monopoly on the sacrament is also unbiblical.
  • The temple is the LDS building in which sacred rituals are performed to ensure salvation for each member and his family (including dead ancestors who were not baptized in the LDS Church). In Mormonism, temples are the places where salvation is actually accomplished.
  • All faithful LDS adults are expected to get married to another Mormon in the LDS temple in a ritual that is supposed to “seal” them together for eternity. Although the LDS Church has occasionally made statements suggesting that single members might still qualify for life with Heavenly Father, marriage is clearly viewed as one of the “necessary steps” for full salvation. Here again, Mormonism makes its own rituals obligatory for salvation. The LDS concept of eternal marriage is unbiblical; marriage is a foretaste of the perfect fellowship we will have with Christ and with each other in eternity.

The only other “step to salvation” mentioned in the article that can be taken by any mortal is to “keep the commandments.” While the LDS Church’s teaching includes adherence to valid biblical commandments, it also includes various obligations that the Bible does not impose on Christians, notably its tithing requirements (viewed as commandments necessary for salvation) and its “word of wisdom” (its food and drink taboos especially with regard to alohol, tobacco, and “hot drinks”).

“Your Path to Heavenly Father” thus reveals that Mormonism views salvation as mainly about accepting the LDS Church’s rituals and rules. No doubt Mormons will insist that faith in Jesus Christ is part of the process, even central to it. Yet the LDS Church, in one of its own official teaching publications, managed to print an article about the steps to salvation that neglected even to mention Jesus Christ. That, Friend, is tragic.

 

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, August 3rd, 2016 at 1:42 pm and is filed under Mormonism. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

2 comments so far

angeladoria
 1 

Wow . . . I am a Mormon. I can tell you that there is no other faith or Church that addresses sin, faith and the power of the atonement or the grace of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ moreso than the Lord’s restored Church. I just took a look at the game that Rob Bowman used to back up his whole article about what Mormons believe and I have to tell you that this game was meant as a game for children to be fun to teach them a few things and not a definitive list of what children need to do to get to Heaven. I would also tell all of you that the fourth Article of Faith of the Lord’s Church, the Church of Jesus Christ of LDS’s states, “We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are, first faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, second repentance, third baptism by immersion for the remission of sins and fourth laying on of hands for the Gift of the Holy Ghost.” This article of faith has actually been turned into a song that all the children learn to sing in Sunday School or as we call it Primary.

Also, I have been a Sunday School teacher for young children in the Lord’s Church, the Mormon Church, for 20 years and our focus has always been on the Savior, teaching the children to have faith in Jesus and to emulate Him. We also teach the steps of repentance of sin regularly and the Savior’s power to help the person who has sinned to fully repent. We also teach about forgiveness and how the Savior’s atonement heals us and helps our hearts to truly forgive. The Savior is at the head of His Church and so of course He is at the center of His Churches teachings.. He is also the heart of all the teachings of His restored Church. All you have to do is read the Lds children’s song book and you will find plenty of songs about Jesus. One of my favorite children’s songs is called Trying to Be Like Jesus.

Lastly, there is a big difference between rituals that most Churches have where men have decided things that we need to do in order to be saved and saving ordinances that the Lord has stated that He requires us to partake of in order to return home. The Lord has taught us that the saving ordinances must be given by priesthood holders that He has authorized to perform them. These ordinances include baptism and the laying on of hands for the Gift of the Holy Ghost. These are sacred ordinances performed by God authorized Priesthood holders. They are not rituals. The Lord’s Church and His ordained Priesthood holders are the only Church that have been given authority from Him to perform these ordinances. His Church is also the only Church that provides a way for saving ordinances to be performed for everyone who has ever lived. The Lord leaves no one out of everything necessary for their salvation. “Tithing” is an amazing opportunity that the Lord gives us to show our faith in Him and also for us to do our part to help build up the kingdom and as with all commandments that the Lord gives through living Prophets where my husband and I have been faithful in paying our tithing, the Lord has blessed us temporally and spiritually beyond measure. The “Word of Wisdom” is an amazing opportunity to also show faith and blesses all those who follow it with the ability to stay free of substances that might otherwise be addicting. Those who keep the “Word of Wisdom” enjoy better health. This is not a ritual, it is counsel from a loving Heavenly Father to His children while we are away from home.

August 9th, 2016 at 11:59 am
 2 

Angela, thank you for your comment. As I stated in my article, I am well aware that the LDS Church teaches that all of its rituals are centered on Jesus Christ. The problem is that when a religion’s rituals become the dominant way in which an individual’s relationship with God is formed, the rituals tend to become the practical focus. A dog’s tail points to the dog, but you still don’t want the tail wagging the dog, if you will pardon the expression. You say that the LDS article was not meant to be “a definitive list of what children need to do to get to Heaven.” That’s fine, but we evangelical Christians cannot imagine anyone in any of our churches giving a list of “steps to salvation” that neglected to mention Jesus Christ–even if it was understood that those steps had some connection to Christ. I think it is fair to point out that the LDS Church was able to publish such a list. Nor is this an isolated occurrence. LDS testimonies about people who converted to Mormonism typically spend far more time focusing on the Church, the Book of Mormon, and their personal religious experiences than they do on Christ. They may mention Jesus, but he is rarely the focus of their testimonies, which are about their becoming Mormons, not about their coming to faith in Christ. By contrast, you will rarely if ever find an evangelical Christian giving a testimony in which the focus is on their church and how much it means to them. Their testimonies are consistently about the difference that Jesus Christ himself makes in their lives.

Your other main point was to distinguish between man-made rituals and saving, God-appointed ordinances. Ordinances are rituals, though, even if they are believed to have been instituted by God. For example, baptism is a ritual, instituted by Jesus Christ and commanded by him (Matt. 28:19). So I am not criticizing all rituals. What I am saying is that rituals, or ordinances, are not supposed to be the driving focus of the Christian life. Read through the New Testament and you will see what I mean: there are occasional references to the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper, whereas there are numerous references and discussions of the importance of faith in Christ and the love of God in Christ. As for the other rituals of the LDS Church, especially those done in LDS temples, the evidence shows, as I explain in the articles linked in my blog post here, that they were not instituted or revealed by God but were man-made practices originated by Joseph Smith.

I hope you will consider what I have said here, investigate the matter for yourself, and be open to the truth wherever God may choose to show it to you. Thanks again for your thoughtful response.

August 9th, 2016 at 12:56 pm

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