I recently returned from a trip to Salt Lake City where I had the pleasure of speaking at a local Christian church that is comprised of many former Mormons. I also spent some time with one of my Mormon friends. After grabbing a quick bite, he suggested we attend the priesthood conference. In Mormonism they have an annual gathering that is comprised of several different events. The main event is the general conference where the LDS Prophet speaks. There are events just for women and events just for the men. The men only meeting is called the Priesthood session, and we were able to score some tickets that had fantastic seats.
Some of you might know people who are a part of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, also called Mormons. In casual conversation, their faith can sound exactly like ours on many levels. However, the more you get to the foundations of their beliefs you begin to see their Jesus is not the same Jesus of Scripture, and their God is nothing more than a glorified man who had a god before him. They are some of the nicest people you will meet, but that does not negate the fact that they are polytheists who have a work based salvation.
The first speaker at the conference was Russell M. Nelson. He is one of the 12 apostles in Mormonism and a former heart surgeon. Early in his career he lost two young girls during surgery who had heart conditions. He was always saddened by their loss and later learned that the family had some resentment towards him. As he began to speak, he told the story of how these two young girls, many years later, visited him in a vision one night. He said he heard their voices “spiritually,” and they cried out to him “Brother Nelson, we are not sealed to anyone! Can you help us?”
In Mormonism, children need to be sealed to their parents in order to live with them in one of their three levels of heaven. Since this can seem confusing to non-Mormons, here is what they say on their website:
“While on earth, we can make sacred covenants (promises) with God in the holy temple through priesthood authority. Among these covenants is the opportunity for husbands and wives to be sealed (married for eternity) and their children to be sealed to them. This means that if we keep our covenants with the Lord and each other, death cannot permanently separate us. This sealing ordinance is an essential part of our Heavenly Father’s plan for us to live with Him eternally.”
Russell Nelson was moved by the pleas of these little girls, so he went to the father who was now 88 years old. He said, “I spoke of his daughters’ pleadings and told him I would be honored to perform sealing ordinances for his family. I also explained that it would take time and much effort on his and Shawn’s part to be ready and worthy to enter the temple, as neither of them had ever been endowed.”
As I heard these words sadness filled my heart that soon turned to anger. Could I have heard that right? Did he just say that this 88-year-old man would have to work hard just so that a ceremony could be performed that would allow his innocent little girls to be with him in heaven? I began to take as many notes as possible because I could not believe what he was saying.
He continued, “They worked diligently with their stake president, bishop, home teachers, and ward mission leader, as well as with young missionaries and a senior missionary couple… They were willing to submit to guidance from their priesthood leaders so that the Atonement of Jesus Christ could purify and magnify them.”
All of this work so that he would be worthy to enter into a temple where a ceremony could be performed just so that these two little girls could find peace in the afterlife. He even went so far to say that the atonement of Jesus could not purify them until these steps had been taken.
In closing he encouraged the men in a room that sat 21,000 people to work hard as well, so that they can stay worthy. I was in shock. I thought to myself, what kind of monster is this god? What kind of being would forbid two innocent little girls from entering into his presence simply because their father didn’t pass the test and perform a ceremony. Tithing is required in order to be temple worthy so it is fair to say that this man had to pay a price in order to allow his daughters into heaven. In Mormonism, salvation literally costs money. With that kind of theology hanging over your head, it’s easy to see how the Mormon Church can afford the $3 billion mall they built in downtown Salt Lake City. Such things are bought with blood money much like the early catholic cathedrals.
Can you imagine worshiping a god where salvation must be earned and bought? Can you imagine losing two infant girls and knowing their peace rested upon you? Even though these girls would have made it to one of the lower levels of the Mormon Heaven (they have three levels), they would not have been with God and likely not have been with their families. Can you imagine being told that the atonement does not purify you unless you keep all the commandments?
I have studied their faith for years. I know it well. But it never fails to shock me and break my heart when I watch all these men, all wearing the same white shirts, agreeing with their apostle and prophet that the work of Jesus is simply not enough.
Their conference center is a wonder of architecture. It is 1.4 million square feet and cost over $240 million to build. Music is sent throughout the building through a giant organ with 7,667 pipes. My friends, the entrance to hell is not a cemetery, it is a cathedral. All these men, all dressed the same, following their false prophet straight to the grave. If you have friends who are Mormon, now is the time to lovingly engage them in the Gospel. They need to hear of the free grace of Jesus Christ.