While I and my brothers over at DefCon stand in opposition to what the Romish church teaches, I find it rather ironic that the early leaders in the LDS church were even more venomous in their attacks on the Vatican than Rome could ever accuse Luther or Spurgeon of being. That said, Salt Lake City shares more with Rome than Brigham or Joey Junior would ever want to admit. Here is part 2 in the series laying Mormonism alongside Romanism and comparing the two.
Besides what they have written in their official declarations, Mormonism and Papism share one other thing in common--they both know how to play the "It's not official doctrine" card. What I mean is this: whether it's the Catholic Pope or the Mormon Prophet/President, the authoritative voice of the respective religion (and the teaching arm thereof) will teach something over and over and over and over again, year after year after year, decade after decade after decade, century after century--but they will never publish it in any of their "Scriptures" (the Romish Catechism; the Mormon BOM/PGP/D&C). Therefore, since it is not "officially canonized", whenever we bring this teaching to the attention of a Catholic/Mormon, they can reach into their wallet and pull out their trusty "They may have said that, but it was never an official teaching of the church" card, stick out their tongue, and say--
So, let's look at some more of the parallels between Mormonism and Catholicism.
They both teach that salvation is a result of the combined effort of God's grace and our own vile, human works.
--The Roman Catholic Church teaches "grace plus works/merit":
Council of Trent, Sixth Session, Canons Concerning Justification, Canons 11-12--"If anyone says that men are justified either by the sole imputation of the justice of Christ or by the sole remission of sins, excluding grace and charity which is poured into their hearts by the Holy Spirit and inheres in them, or also that the grace which justifies us is only the favour of God, LET HIM BE ANATHEMA. If anyone says that justifying faith is nothing else than confidence in divine mercy, which remits sins for Christ's sake, or that it is this confidence alone that justifies us, LET HIM BE ANATHEMA."
Council of Trent, Sixth Session, Canons Concerning Justification, Canon 24--"If anyone says that the justice received is not preserved and also not increased before God through good works, but that those works are merely the fruits and signs of justification obtained, but not the cause of its increase, LET HIM BE ANATHEMA."
Council of Trent, Sixth Session, Canons Concerning Justification, Canon 32--"If anyone says that the good works of the one justified are in such manner the gifts of God that they are not also the good merits of him justified; or that the one justified by the good works that he performs by the grace of God and the merit of Jesus Christ...does not truly merit an increase of grace, and eternal life, provided that one dies in the state of grace, the attainment of this eternal life, as well as an increase in glory, LET HIM BE ANATHEMA."
Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), paragraph 2027--"No one can merit the initial grace which is at the origin of conversion. Moved by the Holy Spirit, we can merit for ourselves and for others all the graces needed to attain eternal life, as well as necessary temporal goods."
--Mormonism teaches the we are saved by grace "after all the we can do":
Book of Mormon, 2nd Nephi 25:23-24--"For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do. And, notwithstanding we believe in Christ, we keep the law of Moses, and look forward with steadfastness unto Christ, until the law shall be fulfilled."
They teach that they are either the continuation (Roman Catholicism) or the restoration (Mormonism) of what the apostles taught.
--Catholicism teaches they alone possess the "Apostolic Succession"
CCC paragraph 817--"The sole Church of Christ [is that] which our Savior, after his Resurrection, entrusted to Peter's pastoral care, commissioning him and the other apostles to extend and rule it...This Church, constituted and organized as a society in the present world, subsists in the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the bishops in communion with him."
The Second Vatican Council's Decree on Ecumenism--"For it is through Christ's Catholic Church alone, which is the universal help toward salvation, that the fullness of the means of salvation can be obtained. It was to the apostolic college alone, of which Peter is the head, that we believe that our Lord entrusted all the blessings of the New Covenant, in order to establish on earth the one Body of Christ into which all those should be fully incorporated who belong in any way to the People of God."
----Mormonism teaches that they possess the "restored" gospel that was lost after the age of the apostles.
From the Mormon pamphlet entitled "The Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ," p. 8 (I received a copy of this pamphlet from a couple of young Mormon ladies who knocked on my door)--"Following the death of Jesus Christ, wicked people persecuted and killed many Church members, and other Church members drifted from the principles taught by Jesus Christ and His Apostles. The Apostles were killed and the priesthood authority—including the keys to direct and receive revelation for the Church—was taken from the earth. Because the Church was no longer led by priesthood authority and revelation, error crept into Church teachings. Good people and much truth remained, but the gospel as established by Jesus Christ was lost, resulting in a period called the Great Apostasy.
This apostasy led to the formation of many churches with conflicting teachings. Without the full gospel or the priesthood authority, people relied on human wisdom to interpret the scriptures and the principles and ordinances of the gospel of Jesus Christ. False ideas were taught as truth, and much of the knowledge of the true character and nature of God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost was lost. The doctrines of faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism, and the gift of the Holy Ghost became distorted or forgotten. Each generation inherited a state of apostasy, as people were influenced by what previous generations passed on, including changes to Christ’s gospel. Some inspired people, such as Martin Luther and John Calvin, recognized that practices and doctrines had been changed or lost and tried to reform the churches to which they belonged. Without the priesthood authority, however, Christ’s gospel could not be returned to its original form.
After centuries of spiritual darkness, a restoration of truth was needed. Under the direction of our Heavenly Father, the gospel of Jesus Christ was restored on the earth through the Prophet Joseph Smith. God has promised it will never be taken from His children again."
“The Message of the Restoration,” Ensign, November 2003, p. 73--"But again persecution, denial of divine identity, and rejection of Christ’s gospel and His authorized priesthood servants characterized the post-Resurrection era. And religious history shows us evidence of how rapidly the priesthood authority was superseded by the secular authority; how the divine doctrine was traded for shifting, distorted human philosophies; how the ordinances of salvation were altered or purchased for money; how revelation was replaced by a veil of obscurity leading into the ages of spiritual darkness.
However, there came a time during this great Apostasy, which had been prophesied before, when the religious quest surfaced again—the “Why is it so?” Men of great faith emerged to try to reform false doctrines and false spiritual authority. Their honest and sincere efforts only resulted in the creation of more churches carrying their names and their protest and adding more confusion and more divisions. In reality, two major elements were missing in the reform: revelation and authority, the Lord’s only way to communicate divine truth to mankind.
As we continue to move rapidly along this time line of religious history, we find a date and a name. The date is 1820; the name is Joseph Smith. Pondering about the total religious confusion and church division of his time, this young man asked himself, “If any one of [these churches] be right, which is it, and how shall I know it?” (Joseph Smith--History 1:10). Why such confusion? The prophetic model was to ask of God. Religious history suddenly repeated itself according to God’s scenario of how to answer mankind’s whys. Once again a vision came as an answer, this time a vision of the Father and the Son. Once again a divine testimony of the Father was given: “This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!” (Joseph Smith--History 1:17). Once again direct revelation answered Joseph Smith’s question: “Which of all the [churches] was right … and which I should join. I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong” (Joseph Smith--History 1:18–19). Once again apostasy was declared from the source of truth—by Jesus Christ Himself. And once again it had to be followed by a restoration, and indeed it was.
In the following years, by revelation, Joseph Smith received full divine doctrinal knowledge and the authority and the keys of the priesthood. Finally in 1830, the Church of Jesus Christ, with all the doctrines of salvation and the ordinances thereof, was restored. Joseph Smith qualified to be called the prophet of the Restoration in modern times."
They both have wrong ideas about Mary.
--Catholicism teaches that our salvation depends on how we think of Mary.
CCC paragraph 969--"This motherhood of Mary in the order of grace continues uninterruptedly from the consent which she loyally gave at the Annunciation and which she sustained without wavering beneath the cross, until the eternal fulfillment of all the elect. Taken up to heaven she did not lay aside this saving office but by her manifold intercession continues to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation...Therefore the Blessed Virgin is invoked in the Church under the titles of Advocate, Helper, Benefactress, and Mediatrix."
CCC, paragraph 971--"The Church's devotion to the Blessed Virgin is intrinsic to Christian worship." The Church rightly honors "the Blessed Virgin with special devotion. From the most ancient times the Blessed Virgin has been honored with the title of 'Mother of God,' to whose protection the faithful fly in all their dangers and needs...This very special devotion...differs essentially from the adoration which is given to the incarnate Word and equally to the Father and the Holy Spirit, and greatly fosters this adoration." The liturgical feasts dedicated to the Mother of God and Marian prayer, such as the rosary, an "epitome of the whole Gospel," express this devotion to the Virgin Mary."
--Catholicism teaches that Mary was born sinless.
CCC, paragraphs 491, 493--"Through the centuries the Church has become ever more aware that Mary, 'full of grace' through God, was redeemed from the moment of her conception. That is what the dogma of the Immaculate Conception confesses, as Pope Pius IX proclaimed in 1854: 'The most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin'...The Fathers of the Eastern tradition call the Mother of God "the All-Holy" (Panagia), and celebrate her as "free from any stain of sin, as though fashioned by the Holy Spirit and formed as a new creature." By the grace of God Mary remained free of every personal sin her whole life long."
--Mormonism teaches that Mary was impregnated by God the Father Himself (This is another one of those "It has been taught for over a hundred years but it 'isn't official doctrine'" issues).
Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 7--"The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints proclaims that Jesus Christ is the Son of God in the most literal sense. The body in which He performed His mission in the flesh was sired by that same Holy Being we worship as God, our Eternal Father. Jesus was not the son of Joseph nor was He begotten by the Holy Ghost. He is the son of the Eternal Father!"
Joseph F. Smith, Box Elder Stake Conference Dec. 20, 1914 as quoted in Brigham City Box Elder News, 28 Jan. 1915, pp. 1-2--"We must come down to the simple fact that God Almighty was the Father of His Son Jesus Christ. Mary, the virgin girl, who had never known mortal man, was his mother. God by her begot his Son Jesus Christ, and he was born into the world with power and intelligence like that of His Father. . . . Now, my little friends, I will repeat again in words as simple as I can, and you talk to your parents about it, that God, the Eternal Father, is literally the father of Jesus Christ."
You can read more quotes from Mormon leaders over the last 150 or so years here. And here. And here as well.
Join us for the thrilling conclusion next week!!