Archive for February, 2023

by Fred W. Anson
Personally, and speaking only for myself and no other author in this series, I have a hard time finding a religious system that’s less tethered to reality than Mormonism – that is with the possible exception of its close cousin, Scientology. And over the course of the last few months, we have shown you why.

The Ten Myths that we have analyzed and scrutinized over this series aren’t just interesting trivia points of Mormon Culture, they are foundational to the very religion. Endemic to them all are Latter-day Saint dogmas that must be believed and accepted in order to justify either basic religious distinctives in particular or Mormonism in general. In some cases, if the myth isn’t true then Mormonism no longer has any justification for existing at all. Let’s consider them again along with their epigraphs one last time, shall we?

The 10 Myths Mormons Believe About Christianity

    1. “Biblical Christianity apostatized”
      Neither the Bible nor Christian Church History support Restorationist Great Apostasy claims
    2. The Bible has been corrupted.”
      We have a Biblical text that is faithful to the original
    3. “Biblical Christians believe in cheap grace.”
      Justice Isn’t a Myth. But neither is Grace and Mercy
    4. “Biblical Christians believe Christ prayed to Himself.”
      Biblical Christians fully acknowledge the one-ness and the three-ness of God
    5. “The Biblical Christian God is a monster who sends good people to hell…”
      We are, as Paul declares, “without excuse”
    6. “Biblical Christians worship the cross and the Bible.”
      If using symbols and scripture is worshiping them then Mormonism has a beam-in-eye problem
    7. “Biblical Christians have no priesthood.”
      Our authority to act in God’s name comes from His call on our lives
    8. “Bibical Christian Pastors and Apologists practice Priestcraft – they’re only in it for the money.”
      “If we’re in it for the money, we’re doing a very bad job of it”
    9. “Biblical Christians hate Mormons.”
      “I bear my testimony that Biblical Christians love Latter-day Saints”
    10. “Biblical Christianity is divided into 10,000+ sects, all believing in different paths to salvation.”
      God’s way is unity in diversity

Returning to my opening statement, it is with good reason that L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology, has been dubbed, “The Joseph Smith of the 20th Century” – the two religious systems share far more similarities than differences.1

A key difference between the two is that Hubbard learned from Smith’s mistakes and chose to disconnect his new religion from any extant religion (other than perhaps Scientism)2 and placed its origins in unknown alien space rather than known human earth history.  Thus Hubbard’s truth claims and religious origin story couldn’t be discredited by objective historical and empirical evidence.

Mormon “Plan of Salvation” (circa the 1950s) v. Scientology “Bridge” (circa the 1970s)

Nonetheless, both systems of epistemology, with their basis in confirmation-driven, “Come to the conclusion first and then bend the facts to fit” modus operandi, are nearly identical. While Mormonism relied heavily on extant 19th Century American Restorationism, Scientology was literally derived from L. Ron Hubbard’s original Science Fiction narratives to support its claims.3 Thus Scientology is epistemologically set in the realm of one’s man fiction and nothing more making it a religion that is entirely dependent on that man. And since he is now dead, the system is now completely closed, self-contained, and circular.

On the other hand, the fact that Mormonism can so easily be discredited by hard empirical evidence – including its own documented history from its own archives – is what makes it the reigning king of unreality. Mormons must not only ignore discomforting, and discrediting evidence from objective, disinterested sources, but they must also deny it too in other to remain in the system. The old image of a petulant child plugging his ears with his fingers, closing his eyes, and loudly and endlessly chanting, “La! La! La! La!” comes to mind.

Thus in both systems, one must detach from reality and accept a fantasy that then becomes the unifying principle by which one filters the world. However, Mormonism does Scientology one better by not only adopting this confirmation bias-driven epistemology but actually denying any and all evidence that might pop the Mormon fantasy bubble. For example, one can’t definitively prove that Scientology’s Xenu didn’t bring billions of his people to Earth in DC-8-like spacecraft 75 million years ago, stack them around volcanoes, and kill them with hydrogen bombs because any evidence to the contrary would have been decimated long ago. It’s not falsifiable.

However, it can easily be proven that Joseph Smith’s Book of Mormon Jaredites, Nephites, and Lamanites with their resulting ancient civilizations of millions and millions of Jewish emigrates were never on the North American continent preaching stock and standard 19th Century Protestant American Restorationism. Take your pick: Scientifically, Linguistically, Historically, and Theologically, The Book of Mormon can easily be deconstructed and debunked thus revoking Joseph Smith’s Prophetic credential and the keystone of Mormonism. Thus Mormonism is easily falsified.

In the end and in both cases, one must literally come to the conclusion first and then bend the facts to fit it. As one former Mormon (a former Bishop to boot) once said so well:

“I have become convinced that each individual Mormon must have his or her own personal epiphany which comes from uncertainty and questioning that arises along the way. Until something triggers the desire to ‘seek’, a member will never ‘find’ the ultimate truth.

If you try to face a believer with the truth, that person invariably rejects the messenger and the message. Something may get through sometimes, but generally, members will not thank you for trying to ‘destroy’ their testimony. The messenger is under the influence of Satan, the message is fraught with lies, and members already ‘know’ and cling to the truth – just as they were taught to. That is called faith.

As long as people want the Mormon Church to be true, more than they are willing to face the possibility that it is not, they will not entertain evidence or reason. Delusion becomes a choice.”
(Jim Whitefield, “The Mormon Delusion: Volume 4: The Mormon Missionary Lessons – A Conspiracy to Deceive”, Kindle Locations 10297-10305)

Brigadier General of the Nauvoo Legion, Joseph Smith (left); Commodore of the Scientology Sea Org, L. Ron Hubbard (right).

The same can’t be said for Judeo-Christianity which not only is tightly knit into human history and empiricism but demands that its adherents stay tethered to both just as the Apostle Paul stated so plainly in his first letter to the Corinthians. It was there that he emphatically asserted that if Christ wasn’t resurrected then Christianity is a fraud and a sham. In other words, in Judeo-Christianity, objective, empirical evidence trumps religious subjectivity and confirmation bias:

“If Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—if in fact the dead do not rise. For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.”
(1 Corinthians 15:14-19, NKJV)

And this same principle is expounded in the Old Testament by the Preacher of Ecclesiastes who challenged his readers with this admonition:

“It’s best to stay in touch with both sides of an issue. A person who fears God deals responsibly with all of reality, not just a piece of it.”
(Ecclesiastes 7:18, The Message)

In summary, the difference between Christianity and Mormonism is that in Mormonism one must deliberately and intentionally ignore and deny reality in order to remain an adherent, while Judeo-Christianity demands that you remain firmly rooted and grounded in reality lest you be “of all men the most pitiable.” Christianity is not only falsifiable, but insists that its adherents, employ logic, reason, and sound evidence in adhering to it.

Still, doubt me? If so, then consider these Bible verses that demonstrate the Judeo-Christian God’s admonition and insistence that His followers rely on both proof and reason:

“Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD…”
(Isaiah 1:18, KJV)

“Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.”
(1 Thessalonians 5:21, KJV)

“Unto thee [Jews who were delivered from slavery in Egypt via the Exodus] it was shewed, that thou mightest know that the Lord he is God; there is none else beside him.”
(Deuteronomy 4:35, KJV)

“…he [Christ] shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days…”
(Acts 1:3, KJV)

“…the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.”
(Romans 1:20, KJV)

“…Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.”
(John 20:26-27, KJV)

“…many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.”
(John 20:30-31, KJV)

“…if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.”
(Galatians 1:8, KJV)

“The simple believeth every word: but the prudent man looketh well to his going.”
(Proverbs 14:15, KJV)

As the late Francis Schaeffer so correctly pointed out, Judeo-Christianity is so tethered to objective, physical time-space historical reality that unless we truly accept that “…Jesus died in the sense that if you had been there that day, you could have rubbed your finger on the cross and got a splinter in it” you’re not really ready to become a Christian yet.4

This isn’t to say that some faith isn’t required in Christianity 5 but as the cited passages demonstrate that faith should be reasoned (belief with some measure of logical or evidential support) rather than blind (faith with no logical or evidential support). Mormonism epistemology is even worse than Blind Faith as it lapses into what theologians have dubbed “Unreasonable Faith” which is faith in spite of evidence to the contrary. Scientology, generally speaking, stops at Blind Faith and goes no further.

“If Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” (1 Corinthians 15:17-19 KJV)

A common question that both Ex-Mormons and Christians often ask True Believing Mormons (aka “TBMs”) is this: “If the truth claims of the Mormons weren’t, in reality, true, would you want to know?” So we, the authors of this series, would simply ask you, our readers that question now. We, who are both a combination of Ex-Mormon and Never-Mormon, responded in the affirmative which is why we aren’t Mormons – it simply does not hold up to scrutiny when analyzed against the commitment to hard reality that the Bible demands of us.

As this is being written, LdS Church’s growth is not only flat and most analysts are of the opinion that it is teetering on verge of decline. Yes, other religions are certainly seeing this type of attrition too but not at the rapid rate of decline that we’re seeing in the LdS Church in particular and Mormonism in general at the moment. It is our opinion, that this hard “reality check” is a big factor in that.

If this were a horse race, it’s over. The stands are empty and harsh reality begins to set in. If you’re Mormon, the horse you bet your life savings on lost by a longshot. All your friends’ tales of a creature that had no equal and could run with the force of a hurricane were mere fabrications. In reality, it didn’t perform anywhere close to that.

Losing a horse race that you bet your whole life on is certainly what it feels like to see that the claims of the LdS church are false. But that’s ultimately not what matters. What matters is what you do with that loss.

Do you clench your fists and try again? Do you bet on the same horse even though you know it can’t win? Do you accuse the system of cheating you out of victory? Do you pretend that you won in order to save face? Do you plug your fingers in your ears, close your eyes, and bear your testimony yet again for the umpteenth time?

Or do you change your wager to the winning horse? Everyone in town told you that horse was sickly, and only a fool would cheer for it. But when it was let loose, it stampeded with the strength of a typhoon. You’d never seen such a magnificent creature. It is undeniably a winner. So why wouldn’t you change your allegiance? Something to think about, I suppose.

Perhaps you prefer the words of Paul over mine when it comes to these 10 myths, I know that I do. If so, in closing, maybe these will suffice: “Refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness.” (1 Timothy 4:7, KJV).

“…Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.” (John 20:26-27, KJV)

1 I first explored the similarities between Mormonism and Scientology – including the similarities of their two founders – in detail in my 2018 article, “Mormonism and the Aftermath”. They are true, close cousins in more ways than one.

2 According to Merriam-Webster, Scientism is defined as, “an exaggerated trust in the efficacy of the methods of natural science applied to all areas of investigation (as in philosophy, the social sciences, and the humanities)” (see

3 One need only consider the Xenu narrative of Scientology’s Operating Thetan III training course to see this. From Wikipedia:

“Xenu (/ˈziːnuː/), also called Xemu, is a figure in the Church of Scientology’s secret “Advanced Technology”, a sacred and esoteric teaching. According to the “Technology”, Xenu was the extraterrestrial ruler of a “Galactic Confederacy” who brought billions of his people to Earth (then known as “Teegeeack”) in DC-8-like spacecraft 75 million years ago, stacked them around volcanoes, and killed them with hydrogen bombs. Official Scientology scriptures hold that the thetans (immortal spirits) of these aliens adhere to humans, causing spiritual harm.

These events are known within Scientology as “Incident II”, and the traumatic memories associated with them as “The Wall of Fire” or “R6 implant”. The narrative of Xenu is part of Scientologist teachings about extraterrestrial civilizations and alien interventions in earthly events, collectively described as “space opera” by L. Ron Hubbard. Hubbard detailed the story in Operating Thetan level III (OT III) in 1967, warning that the “R6 implant” (past trauma) was “calculated to kill (by pneumonia, etc.) anyone who attempts to solve it”.
(“Xenu”, Wikipedia website, retrieved 2023-02-10)  

4 Speaking of what he called “Prevangelism” – an explanation of the set of the basic, underlying presuppositions that form the Christian worldview – Schaeffer stressed that we must make sure that the non-Christian that we are speaking to understands that we are asserting objective historical reality in Christianity and not just creating our own subjective guilt relief therapy via religious feelings, opinions, or dogmas:

“…we must make sure that the individual understands that we are talking about real truth, and not about something vaguely religious which seems to work psychologically. We must make sure that he understands that we are talking about real guilt before God, and we are not offering him merely relief for his guilt feelings. We must make sure that he understands that we are talking to him about history, and that the death of Jesus was not just an ideal or a symbol but a fact of time and space. If we are talking to a person who would not understand the term ‘space time history’ we can say: ‘Do you believe that Jesus died in the sense that if you had been there that day, you could have rubbed your finger on the cross and got a splinter in it?’ Until he understands the importance of these things, he is not yet ready to become a Christian.”
(Francis A. Schaeffer, “The God Who is There”, p. 139) 

5 Christianity can’t for example, prove a talking serpent or talking donkey; the Tower of Babel; a floating axe head; a burning bush; the parting of the Red Sea, or any number of other fantastic claims of the Bible. However, it can easily prove that a literal Jewish people, a literal land of Israel, and a literal city of Jerusalem existed when and where the Bible claims that they did. Thus even the irreligious, secular Israeli Biblical Archaeologist, Eilat Mazar, could confidently say, “I work with the Bible in one hand and the tools of excavation in the other,” as she once told the Jerusalem Post. She went on to say, “The Bible is the most important historical source and therefore deserves special attention.” (see John Burger, “Archaeologist known for using Bible as historical text dies”, Aletia, June 1, 2021)

And turning to the New Testament, Christian Scholars can and have produced a mountain of evidence for the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ (such as Gary Habermas’ superb Credo House series on the subject among many, many, many others) in addition to the fact that the places and historical figures in the New Testament are easily verified from historical records external to the Bible.

Thus Judeo-Christianity is, minimally, credible even though not entirely provable. Reasoned Faith is still required in order to become and remain a Christian in addition to any subjective experience. It’s not either/or, it’s both.

God’s way is unity in diversity

Evangelist Billy Graham speaks at his 1985 Anaheim, California crusade in which a stadium record crowd of 81,000 was set. This brought the total attendance for the 10-day event to more than 545,000, a spokesman said. Participating in the event was a broad cross-section of Christian traditions, denominations, and sects from across Southern California who were united by the gospel of Jesus Christ.

by Fred W. Anson
Mormonism is fueled by faith-promoting stories. No one said this better than Mormon Apostle, Bruce R. McConkie, “We have in the Church an untapped, almost unknown, treasury of inspiring and faith-promoting stories. They are the best of their kind and there are thousands of them.” (Bruce R. McConkie, “The How and Why of Faith-promoting Stories”, New Era magazine, July 1978). Unfortunately, some of them, as another Mormon Apostle said well, only provide “…a kind of theological Twinkie—spiritually empty calories?” (Jeffrey R. Holland, “A Teacher Come from God”, Spring General Conference 1998). This series exposes the following ten “Twinkies”…

10 Myths That Mormonism Tells About Biblical Christianity

  1. Biblical Christianity apostatized.
  2. The Bible has been corrupted.
  3. Biblical Christians believe in cheap grace.
  4. Biblical Christians believe Christ prayed to Himself.
  5. The Biblical Christian God is a monster who sends good people to hell just because they never had a chance to hear the gospel.
  6. Biblical Christians worship the cross and the Bible.
  7. Biblical Christians have no priesthood.
  8. Biblical Christian Pastors and Apologists practice Priestcraft – they’re only in it for the money.
  9. Biblical Christians hate Mormons.
  10. Biblical Christianity is divided into 10,000+ sects, all believing in different paths to salvation.

… and replaces them with nourishing truth. Let’s talk about the one that’s bolded, shall we?

In 2008, Evangelist Luis Palau returned to his hometown to lead a major evangelistic campaign in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The effort brought together thousands of churches, tens of thousands of believers, and hundreds of thousands of individuals for the two-day festival in the heart of the city. The event crossed denominations uniting Christians of all flavors for the cause of Christ in Latin America.

The Myth
“Biblical Christianity is divided into 10,000+ sects, all believing in different paths to salvation.”

Why It’s a Myth
The claim that the various and sundry Biblical Christian denominations believe in different paths to salvation is, stated plainly, a lie. Why? Because the Bible couldn’t be clearer that salvation is by Christ alone, through faith by grace alone, and we are, after all, Biblical Christians, right?

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone boast.” (Ephesians 2:8 NKJV)

“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” (Romans 5:1-2 NKJV)

“But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2:4-7 NKJV)

Furthermore, the Essential Doctrines of the Christian Faith are determined from the Bible based on how they support and validate the common salvation that we all share, regardless of which particular group, denomination, movement, or sect we may be in:

“The Bible itself reveals those doctrines that are essential to the Christian faith. They are

1) the Deity of Christ,
2) Salvation by Grace,
3) Resurrection of Christ,
4) the gospel, and
5) monotheism.

These are the doctrines the Bible says are necessary. Though there are many other important doctrines, these five are the ones that are declared by Scripture to be essential.”
(Theologian Matt Slick, “Essential Doctrines of Christianity”, CARM website, lightly reformatted for emphasis and clarity)

Everything else – the things that aren’t essential to salvation are, therefore, non-essential, and Christians can and will legitimately disagree and it has absolutely no impact on their legitimacy as Christian brothers or sisters in Christ with whom I can have fellowship today and share eternity in the presence of God tomorrow. A sampling of the non-Essentials is as follows:

    • Eschatology (how and when the end times will unfold, the rapture, the millennium, the role of Israel today, etc.)
    • Earth Age (young v. old earth creationism, etc.)
    • Bible translation preferences (King James v. modern translations, word-for-word v. thought-for-thought, etc.)
    • Ecclesiology (church government models, the roles of clergy and laity, are Apostles and Prophets for today, etc.)
    • Soteriological Systems (Arminianism v. Calvinism, etc.)
    • Demonology (can a Christian have a demon or not, teachings on various kinds of spiritual warfare, etc.)
    • Sacrament practices (wine v. grape juice, leavened v. unleavened bread, who can administer, etc.)
    • Modes of baptism (sprinkling v. full immersion, infant baptism, etc.)
    • Worship styles (liturgical v. contemporary, hymns v. choruses, choirs, drums v. organs, etc.)
    • The gifts of the Holy Spirit (tongues v. no tongues, cessationism v. continuationism, etc.)
    • Worship observances (Sabbatarianism v. Sunday worship, observance of special holy days, tithing, etc.)
    • Food and drink (consumption of alcohol v. abstinence, kosher v. non-kosher food, etc.)
    • Various do’s and don’ts (tobacco consumption, playing cards, dancing, makeup, “acceptable” dress, movies, etc.)
    • , etc., etc. This is far from an exhaustive or comprehensive list of Christian non-essentials – it seems endless at times!

A 1996 Promise Keepers “Break Down The Walls” conference in which hundreds of thousands of Christian men from different sects, groups, traditions, and denominations united to praise and exalt Jesus Christ and commit themselves to His gospel.

It is these non-essential doctrines and/or distinctives from which Biblical Christians derive their various and sundry denominations. And just as there are different denominations of money but only one America that shares the common economy that they function in, so there are different denominations of non-essential doctrine but only one Christian Church that they function in. And this is true if we’re talking about 10, 100, 1,000 or 10,000 denominations. Heck make it 10 million denominations, it doesn’t matter, as long as they are faithful and biblical on the Essential Doctrines of the Christian Faith, they are legitimately Christian. It is just as a 17th Century Theologian said so well:

In essentials, unity; In non-essentials, liberty; In all things, charity.”
(17th century Theologian Rupertus Meldenius)

 And as Theologian and Christian Educator, C. Michael Patton in our own day has said so well:

“I am not an ecumenicist, but I don’t think that we should have ill-will or break fellowship with people unnecessarily. I do believe that we have the right and obligation to define what it means to be “Christian.” While I don’t think we should over-define it to the point where our circle of fellowship is so small that it only includes “you and those two,” we need to be careful, as under-defining our faith is just as dangerous as over-defining it. It is very easy to slip into theological maximalism (fundamentalism) or theological minimalism (liberalism). But we are Evangelicals. This means that we are “centrists,” uniting around the most important issues and giving varying degrees of liberty in less important issues. While it is true that because something is non-essential this does not make it negotiable, it is also true that because something is believed strongly does not make it central.”
(C. Michael Patton, “Essentials and Non-Essentials in a Nutshell”, Credo House website, June 8, 2011)

How It’s a Myth
In support of all this, I would point the reader to the prior installments of this series of articles. The roster of writers and their denominational and soteriological affiliation was as follows:

Michael Flournoy
SBC Baptist, Arminian
Fred Anson
ACM Charismatic, Calvinist
Tom Hobson
ECO Presbyterian, Calvinist
Paul Nurnburg
Independent Christian Churches/Churches of Christ, Arminian
Matthew Eklund
Reformed Baptist, Calvinist
Ben Reed
Confessional Lutheran, Lutheran
Jason Wallace
OPC Presbyterian, Calvinist

So there you have it: Seven authors, seven denominations, and three soteriological systems, all holding to different systems of eschatology, worship styles, ecclesiology, and liturgy. Some are young earth Creationists, and some are old earth Creationists. Two are Continuationists, and the rest are Cessationists. Some are Sabbatarian, and some are not. We have different politics, different church clothes standards, different modes of baptism, different sacrament practices, different… whatever, and yet we are all united in the Essential Doctrines of the Christian Faith and all sharing a common salvation in Jesus Christ by faith through grace.  I could and would join them in worship at their church congregation for worship, and they would, no doubt, join me at mine. And either way, we would be worshiping with fellow Christians with whom we will all share eternity in the presence of God and with each other.

And if we extend this small sampling out we can include millions – no, make that billions – of fellow Christians of every shape, color, and texture all over the world. Every single one of them is just as Christian and just as saved as I am. After all, God doesn’t make one type of anything, so why the heck would He make only one kind of Christian? In the midst of our diversity, there is unity.

Patriarch Pimen, leader of the Russian Orthodox church, listens as American evangelist, Rev. Billy Graham speaks in Moscow’s main cathedral, Sept 21, 1984. The American evangelist was invited to the Soviet Union by the Russian Orthodox Church and the All-Union Council of Evangelical Christians-Baptists (or Baptist Union, which includes other Protestant groups). (AP Photo)

Why It Matters
The problems that this myth creates within Mormonism are so widespread and acute that it’s hard to pick where to start and where to end, so I’ll just pick a couple.

First, it’s hypocritical. Mormon Leaders who use this myth as a mallet to bludgeon other churches with are deliberately ignoring the 400+ Mormon denominations that have existed over the 190+ years of Mormon History – which is a rate of fracturing, fragmenting, and splitting that far exceeds what was seen in Christian Church History.  Stated plainly, given the current rate of fragmentation Mormon denominationalism will easily surpass Christian denominationalism at some point in the future.1 The publisher of the definitive book on the subject noted well in their product description:

“That so many groups and individuals have been unsatisfied with the more mainstream Mormon churches, yet cling to tenets of the Smith–Rigdon movement, speaks to the strengths of the restoration concept and the naïve view that one denomination can successfully meet all the needs of believers.”
(Amazon product description for Steven L. Shields, “Divergent Paths of the Restoration: An Encyclopedia of the Smith–Rigdon Movement”)

Equally hypocritical is the fact that all of those 400+ Mormon Denominations have not accepted or recognized the other groups as legitimate churches since they all claim to be the only true and living church and all others apostate. I think that this is largely due to the impossibility of developing a set of Essential Doctrines for the Latter-Day Saint movement due to the dogma of continuing revelation. Hence, what’s essential for the Brighamite Mormons in Salt Lake City isn’t essential for the Josephite Mormons in Independence, Missouri.

Case in point: The Trinity. The LdS Church (aka “Brighamite”) Mormons condemn the Trinity as Exhibit A for the Great Apostasy, while RLDS/Community of Christ (aka “Josephite”) Mormons have been Trinitarian since their inception. Then there’s the problem of the various and sundry versions of Doctrine & Covenants that the various groups hold to and the fact that some groups are continuing to canonize new revelations and scriptures that none of the other Mormon denominations have or will recognize as legitimate.2 And this is just the beginning of the big ball of Mormon denominational confusion that was unleashed after the death of Joseph Smith.3

Second, this hypocritical myopia generates an odd form of self-righteous elitism in Mormons. And why not, just consider the arrogant condescension on these “lesser” groups that have poured forth like a river from Mormon pulpits:

“But as there has been no Christian Church on the earth for a great many centuries past, until the present century, the people have lost sight of the pattern that God has given according to which the Christian Church should be established, and they have denominated a great variety of Christian Churches … But there has been a long apostasy, during which the nations have been cursed with apostate churches in great abundance”
(Apostle Orson Pratt, “Journal of Discourses”, v. 18, p. 172)

“Religious denominations relied entirely on the dead letter of the Bible for their authority. They closed the heavens against themselves, and their interpretations of scripture without divine guidance led them into division, subdivision, and multiplication of churches, each going its own way blindly and in confusion. The power of the priesthood was lost and the true Church of Jesus Christ ceased to exist on the earth. There had been no prophet, no revelation, or divine instruction from the time of the apostles of old until the Lord again opened the heavens and sent holy messengers to restore that which had been taken away”
(Joseph Fielding Smith, “Answers to Gospel Questions”, 1:97)

“The Protestant Reformation, which resulted in the establishment of numerous Christian denominations—approximately two hundred and fifty of them existing in America today—bears unimpeachable evidence to the fact that a great apostacy did occur as the Master and the prophets of old had predicted it would. Martin Luther, John Calvin, the Wesley brothers, and the other protestors against the erroneous doctrines which had corrupted Catholicism did not claim divine restoration of the Holy Priesthood nor of the principles and ordinances of the gospel”
(Milton R. Hunter, “Conference Reports, April 1946”, p. 143)

But the irony of this smug, eyes wide shut, hypocritical elitism isn’t wasted given the hard reality of Mormon denominationalism that was already spinning out of control as these works were being spoken. For example, at the point that Orson Pratt, delivered the “Restoration of the Gospel…” address in the Fifteenth Ward Meetinghouse in Salt Lake City on Sunday afternoon, March 26, 1876 which was excerpted above, Mormon denominationalism was already over the 30-group mark with only more fracturing, splintering, and denominating to come.4 By the time we get to Joseph Fielding Smith and Milton R. Hunter’s addresses in the mid-twentieth century, we are well into hundreds of Mormon Denominations. All unique, and all denouncing all the others as apostate churches. Stone meet glass house.

45,000 charismatic Christians gathered in Arrowhead Stadium for the 1977 Kansas City Charismatic Renewal Conference. This event brought together a vast cross-section of Protestant and Catholic believers for the cause of Christ who were united by the essential doctrines of the Christian faith despite their differences on some non-essential doctrines which continue to this day. (Photo: People of Praise archives)

Summary and Conclusion
Mormonism makes the mistake of assuming that homogeneity equals unity. And while it can be, it can also be symptomatic of unhealthy groupthink and blind conformity. Rather, could it be that unity is best when it’s manifested in the midst of diversity? Which is more interesting: A highly manicured field consisting of only one type of flower or a raw, uncultivated meadow exploding with wildflowers? Personally, I find the wild meadow far more interesting. And apparently, so does God since that seems to be His way over tightly controlled uniformity. Were this not so, He only would have created one type of flower rather than a seemingly endless array of them. And what’s true of flowers is true of people.

Biblical Christians rightly celebrate the diversity of denominations that we enjoy and benefit from. I have been in arenas filled with Christian men of every shape, size, color, and “flavor” at Promise Keeper and other Christian events. My father was a counselor at the 1969 Billy Graham Crusade in Anaheim, California with an Anaheim Stadium filled with a dizzying array of Protestant denominations. I have been to a Catholic funerary mass, more than one Presbyterian wedding, Baptist services, played bass in an Episcopal chapel, heard more than one Baptist fire and brimstone sermon, been through several Lutheran events, and worshipped in so many Charismatic churches of some many flavors that I’ve lost count. Yeah, this kid raised in the Nazarene Church has pretty much seen and done it all. And through it all, I have been united with my brothers and sisters in Christ at every single one of them. Man’s way is unity through homogeneity. God’s way is unity in diversity.

As for me and my house, we’ll do it God’s way. Whose way will you choose?

1 See Steven L. Shields, “Divergent Paths of the Restoration: An Encyclopedia of the Smith–Rigdon Movement” for an encyclopedic breakdown of the 400+ Mormon denominations to date. And please compare and contrast those 400+ LDS Denominations over just 190+ years to this:

Independents: 22,000 denominations (2,016 years)
Protestants: 9000 denominations (499 years)
Marginals: 1600 denominations (duration varies)
Orthodox: 781 denominations (963 years)
Catholics: 242 denominations (1,799 years)
Anglicans: 168 denominations (483 years)
(see ; the durations as of  the date of this article, February 9, 2016)

So you can see that my claim that the LDS Movement will easily outpace the denominationalism of other churches isn’t an empty claim – the numbers speak for themselves, don’t they?

2 See the comparative chart of the LdS Church’s current edition of Doctrine & Covenants to the Community of Christ’s to see this concretely illustrated:

3 Wikipedia has an excellent primer on the succession crisis that followed the death of Joseph Smith which triggered the non-stop Mormon denominationalism that we have seen since then:

4 An abbreviated timeline-style roster of Mormon denominations can be found here:

A fuller, more comprehensive roster of Mormon denominations can be found here:

And, as mentioned previously, an encyclopedic roster of Mormon denominations can be found in this book:  Steven L. Shields, “Divergent Paths of the Restoration: An Encyclopedia of the Smith–Rigdon Movement”

About the Author
Fred W. Anson is the founder and publishing editor of the Beggar’s Bread website, which features a rich potpourri of articles on Christianity with a recurring emphasis on Mormon studies. Fred is also the administrator of several Internet discussion groups and communities, including several Mormon-centric groups, including two Facebook Support Groups for Ex-Mormons (Ex-Mormon Christians, and Ex-Mormon Christians Manhood Quorum). Raised in the Nazarene Church, Fred later became an Atheist but then returned to the Christian faith during the Jesus Movement in 1976. He is currently a member of Saddleback Covenant Church, a non-denominational church, in Mission Viejo, California.