I agree with Moroni 8:18": No. No, I don't!
by Rocky Hulse
August 2011With the best of intentions, there are a few ministries today that set out using a verse of Mormon scripture (Moroni 8:18) to get Mormons to question one of their foundational beliefs: That God was not always God. I would not argue with the use of the verse to make that point; I believe Moroni 8:18 does make this point when compared with the Mormon doctrinal position of God today compared to the time the Book of Mormon was printed. The problem with these well meaning individuals is that they have labeled this approach as: “I agree with Moroni 8:18.” From the perspective of agreeing with Mormon scripture, I take exception. I believe it is wrong to agree with that which is known to be false. Spiritual truth is not contained in any Mormon scripture. Period!
The foundation upon which Christianity is built is God’s inerrant word, the Bible. From the Bible, we are repeatedly warned to beware of false prophets1 and false teachers2. Is there any question within the community of ministries that witness to the Mormon people that Joseph Smith was a false prophet? Without question, the answer is: No! Is there any question within the community of ministries that witness to the Mormon people that Joseph Smith was a false teacher? Without question, the answer is: No! Is there any question within this same community that the Book of Mormon is an additional book of inspired scripture. Without question, the answer is: No, it is not scripture; it is a book of fiction.
The Title Page of the 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon lists the following statement: “BY JOSEPH SMITH, JUNIOR, AUTHOR AND PROPRIETOR.” There is no question that Joseph Smith produced the Book of Mormon and he is known to be a false prophet and false teacher. Why then, would I agree with anything that he wrote purporting to be spiritual truth? The supporters of the “I Agree With Moroni 8:18 Campaign,” then chime in with, “What about Paul’s use of the Greek poets in Acts 17.” The creators/supporters of “I agree with Moroni 8:18” are following this premise: “There are those today who use Acts 17, Paul’s Mars Hill encounter with the Greek philosophers to prove that truth is found elsewhere, and the Bible is not the only place that contains spiritual truth.”3 This approach is flawed on two major counts in that they are saying: (1) Paul believed truth was found in the Greek philosophers; (2) spiritual truth is contained in Mormon scripture. They are wrong on both counts.
I encourage you to go and read the full article, Paul’s Mars Hill Appeal, written by “Let Us Reason Ministries,” provided in footnote (3). It is well written and I agree with the writer. I will provide some excerpts from that article to support my position; however, my minor quotes do not do justice to the complete article.
(1) Paul believed truth was found in the Greek philosophers:
In Acts 17:28, Paul quotes the Greek poet Epimenides, in his work, Cretica: “for in Him we live and move and have our being,”. He also quotes the Cilician poet, Aratus, in his work, Phaenonlena 5: “for we are also his offspring.”
Quoting from Paul’s Mars Hill Appeal: “Paul used another pagan source to confirm the truth of the Bible, not the reverse, he was showing them how their own poets had some knowledge (though corrupted) of the God he is speaking to them of that they do not know. If he was saying their poet spoke truth then he would be endorsing Zeus a false god, the very thing he was trying to prove to them….What he quoted was directly opposing the view of the Epicureans. Here Paul is citing poets who they respected and brilliantly turned it on their idolatry they now practiced. Paul has made a case that as men we have a necessary dependence on this God they do not know or see. He inserted their own poet’s statements as an added incentive to consider that their worship was wrong. He juxtaposed what was said in the past for what is being practiced in the present. If Paul meant they were actually God’s offspring He would be agreeing with the gods of Greek philosophy. He did not! This is poetry quoted, not doctrine, nor Scripture….He uses their poets point for a similarity of what he is conveying that is wrong, not what is right. Paul is using their own poet against their idolatry. He is not condoning their poet’s words as truth equal with the Bible’s revelation but dismantled their own view by using it as a similar point to present the Bible’s revelation.” (emphasis mine).
The attempt that proponents of the “I Agree With Moroni 8:18 Campaign” use to validate their use of Mormon scripture and saying they agree with it as Paul agreed with the Greek poets, is an improper exegesis of the Acts 17 text. Using Moroni 8:18 to show that Mormon doctrine is false is a worthwhile tactic; however, to agree with Moroni 8:18, giving it the validity of spiritual truth is wrong and is directly opposite of Paul’s use and intention at Mars Hill.
(2) Spiritual truth is contained in Mormon scripture:
Believing that spiritual truth can be contained in Mormon scripture is to believe that truth can come from error; it cannot. “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?” (2 Co. 6:14). Mormonism is a false teaching. Period! We are repeatedly warned as seen in footnotes (1) and (2) concerning those who would bring forth false teachings. There is no question that Joseph Smith, and all he produced, fits those Biblical warnings.
Part of the problem with the “I Agree With Moroni 8:18 Campaign” is a foundational ignorance that is sometimes displayed by those who are involved in ministry outreach to Mormons, but were never members of the Mormon Church themselves. Those who were never Mormons themselves, have studied greatly, and have done a great work in the Mormon community; however, all the reading and studying in the world cannot replace the first hand experience of having lived Mormonism. I spent 33 years on active duty in the United States Navy, 20 years of that time riding Navy ships at sea. Reading every available book or periodical about life at sea cannot bring a person to the reality of what it is like to sail aboard a modern naval vessel at sea.
These well-meaning individuals supporting the “I Agree With Moroni 8:18 Campaign” fail to consider the basic reality that Mormonism uses a different dictionary than the rest of the English speaking world. Mormonism’s definition of many religious terms does not match that of Mainstream Christianity. This failure stem’s from not having a Mormon indoctrination foundation. They approach the words of Moroni 8:18 from their English definition, vice their Mormon definition; this is a flawed baseline position. Even though the premise of this is to show that Joseph Smith’s concept of God in 1830 was more closely aligned with Christianity, and definitely doesn’t align with his later pluralistic teaching of multiple gods, and God being a changeable being, non-exMormons do not take into account the indoctrination aspect of the cult culture, nor the misuse of words.
The word “God” used in Moroni 8:18 does not reflect the God of the Bible. The word “God” in Mormonism, really means “Heavenly Father,” and is an exalted man who once lived on another planet in another universe and lived, died, was resurrected, and was exalted to Godhood and eventually became the God of this universe. That corrupted concept contains no spiritual truth as contained in the Bible.
The words: “changeable, unchangeable, and eternity,” all have a time component tied to them that does not exist in Christendom. Since Mormon doctrine has Heavenly Father existing in a previous world where he rose through the concept of “Eternal Progression” through eons of time to achieve Godhood and then create this universe for the “exaltation” (meaning the achievement of Godhood by those who are deserving Mormons) of his children he procreated to inhabit this earth, the words: “changeable, unchangeable, and eternity” only pertain to the dispensation (timeframe) of this universe, not time immemorial.
Understanding these two concepts helps to better understand where those of us who disagree with the “I Agree With Moroni 8:18 Campaign” are coming from. In our modern English vernacular, it appears that Moroni 8:18 reflects Biblical teaching. From the dictionary of Mormonism, it does not. So, to agree with Moroni 8:18, as if it were spiritual truth, is blasphemous.
In a local context, using the “I Agree With Moroni 8:18 Campaign” may cause some Mormons who are not fully indoctrinated to question their concept of God, and may appear to be a victory; however, in the bigger picture, to agree with the Book of Mormon is to pour fuel on the fire of the Mormon Public Relations machine that is trying its best to morph Mormonism in the minds of Christendom as just another Christian denomination; it is not.
Do not misinterpret my support of using Mormon scripture, the writings or sermons (talks, as they are called in Mormonism) of Mormon Prophets and Apostles, Mormon periodicals (Ensign, Era, Young Woman’s Journal, etc.), or Mormon Church produced materials (Sunday School manuals, Priesthood Manuals, Relief Society Manuals, BYU Religion course manuals, etc.), to counter the false teachings of Mormonism. I fully support the use of these materials, and I certainly quote from them on a regular basis in all facets of our ministry (Mormon Missions Midwest Outreach (MMMO)). What I will not do is agree with any quotation from Mormonism as being spiritual truth on par with the Bible. No part of Mormonism, even if plagiarized from the Bible, has a foundation of spiritual truth. Mormonism’s foundation is centered in Joseph Smith, a known false prophet and false teacher that the Bible gives us stern warnings about, as seen in footnotes (1) and (2). Anything therefore that emanates from Mormonism cannot, and is not, spiritual truth!
Another point that those who were never Mormon have no exposure to, and a true ignorance of, is the dogmatic indoctrination points that are spewed out upon family members when they dare to challenge Mormonism and attempt to share with their family the truth of God’s word as found in the Bible. Until you’ve stood toe-to-toe with your father, your mother, your brothers or sisters, and had them emphatically regurgitate the Mormon doctrinal points and proof texts, and call you a “Son of Perdition” if you don’t come back to the fold of Mormonism, you truly don’t “get it.” Believe me, “I get it!” I’ve been there, done that.
The bonds of Mormonism are so strong, so all encompassing, that reason, especially in the “family member leaving Mormonism” context, does not exist. In an emotional setting, a family member discussing why Mormonism is false with a Mormon family member, reason and good judgment are usually left by the wayside. In this type of setting, to use the phrase “I Agree With Moroni 8:18”, would be the equivalent of saying “I agree with the Book of Mormon.” It matters not that the context was to use Moroni 8:18 to disprove the current Mormon concept of the Godhead, all that is heard in the diehard Mormon is an agreement with the Book of Mormon. The indoctrinated Mormon brain shuts down and no reasoned, thoughtful argument can, or will be heard. I’ve been there more times than I care to remember, and only those who have been there can understand this awful predicament; nor have suffered the heartbreak the eventual end of the discussion/argument brings.
Using any verse in the Book of Mormon to disprove Mormonism is a worthwhile venture and a tactic I approve of and use myself. However, to use a verse of Mormon scripture, or a quote from a Mormon leader, or quote from a Mormon periodical, stating that you agree with that statement by placing it on par with the Bible as spiritual truth, is BLASPHEMOUS!
Use Moroni 8:18 all you like to disprove the false teaching of Mormonism. However, to agree with Moroni 8:18, is to give validity to Mormon scripture as equal with God’s Scripture, the Bible, and that is something that only those ignorant of the full scope of Mormonism would do. They do not understand the damage they are doing to those of us who are trying to witness to Mormon family members.
1 De. 13:5; 18:22; Is. 9:15; Je. 2:8; 5:31; 14:14; 23:16; Eze. 13:2; 22:28; Ho. 9:7; Mi. 3:5; Zep. 3:4; Zec. 13:3; Mt. 7:15; 24:11; Mk. 13:22.
2 Mt. 5:19; 15:9; 1 Ti. 1:7; 4:2; 6:3; 2 Ti. 4:3; Tit. 1:11; 2 Pe. 2:1.