Because of the confusing and somewhat fluid nature of LDS doctrine and thought, we believe it is important to highlight significant statements by LDS leaders and official church publications in order to substantiate doctrines and teachings, particularly those which are often avoided in any kind of public arena.
While it is true that Mormons believe in "continuing revelation" and that new doctrines or prophetic revelations can "trump" old ones, this belief, in and of itself, is problematic for a biblical understanding of who God is. In addition, none of the inflammatory doctrines from earlier teachings (with a very short list of exceptions) have been officially recanted or changed; rather, they are "swept under the rug," as it were.
Many LDS defenders will declare that many of these quotes are invalid because they are not "official"; however, we must disagree; with few exceptions, they are found in official publications and made by the general authorities, including Joseph Smith himself. If they cannot be considered official, then it begs the question of what, exactly, can be considered official?
Please note that this is a work in progress, and new quotes and topics will be added as they are encountered in our studies.
And the great and abominable church, which is the whore of all the earth, shall be cast down by devouring fire, according as it is spoken by the mouth of Ezekiel the prophet, who spoke of these things, which have not come to pass but surely must, as I live, for abominations shall not reign. (Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 vols., introduction and notes by B. H. Roberts, 1:, p.113)
Christendom at the present day, and where are they, with all their boasted religion, piety, and sacredness while at the same time they are crying out against prophets, apostles, angels, revelations, prophesying and visions, etc. Why, they are just ripening for the damnation of hell. They will be damned, for they reject the most glorious principle of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and treat with disdain and trample under foot the key that unlocks the heavens and puts in our possession the glories of the celestial world. Yes, I say, such will be damned, with all their professed godliness. (Joseph Smith, Discourses of the Prophet Joseph Smith, compiled by Alma P. Burton, p.220)
The gates of hell have prevailed and will continue to prevail over the Catholic mother of harlots, and over all her Protestant daughters; but as for the apostolical Church of Christ, she rests secure in the mansions of eternal happiness, where she will remain until the apostate Catholic church, with all her popes and bishops, together with all her harlot daughters shall be hurled down to hell; (Orson Pratt’s Works, p. 189-190)
But to return to the Christians' idol. The pious, zealous, religious and hypocritical in our day, uniting with political demagogues, have set up a God for us to worship.... this loathsome, filthy, debauched, degraded monster is held up for our veneration and worship by its corrupt Christian devotees as the essence of everything that is great and grand, noble and praiseworthy; and we are called upon to fall down and worship this loathsome monster. (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols., 23:, p.36)
APOSTACY, THE GREAT
Nothing less than a complete apostasy from the Christian religion would warrant the establishment of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 vols., introduction and notes by B. H. Roberts, 1:, p.xl – xli)
Since the comforter left men, and pride and ambition have ruled the way wherein some have endeavored to enter into heaven, in a greater or less degree, wealth, and not a "pure heart" has swayed the destinies of what pretended to be the "church:"-and the prince of this world has spread his dominions in all the earth: and his wife, as the whore of Babylon, with a multiplicity of daughters playing the harlot among all nations (Fallen Away., Times and Seasons, vol. 3 (November 1841-October 1842), Vol. 3 No. 24 October 15, 1842 , p.955)
"...thou seest the formation of that great and abominable church...after the book [that is, The Bible] hath gone forth through the hands of the great and abominable church, that there are many plain and precious things taken away from the book, which is the book of the Lamb of God. And after these plain and precious things were taken away it goeth forth unto all the nations of the Gentiles." (I Nephi 13:26, 28)
"Thou fool, that shall say: A Bible, we have got a Bible, and we need no more Bible." (2 Nephi 29:6)
Report of Mathew L. Davis: He [Joseph Smith] then took up the Bible. "I believe," said he, "in this sacred volume. In it the 'Mormon' faith is to be found. We teach nothing but what the Bible teaches. We believe nothing, but what is to be found in this book." (Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 vols. 4:78)
Eds. note: The above quote is provided here to demonstrate the irony of the frequent Mormon "doublespeak" about the Bible, especially when compared with the quote below, particularly because both quotes are attributed to Joseph Smith. Secondly, the above is also an ironic statement because Mormonism is undeniably rife with unbiblical and anti-biblical beliefs and doctrines.
I will now turn linguist. There are many things in the Bible which do not, as they now stand, accord with the revelations of the Holy Ghost to me. (Joseph Smith, Encyclopedia of Joseph Smith's Teachings, edited by Larry E. Dahl and Donald Q.Cannon)
Three men testified that the Book of Mormon was translated by the power and gift of God. And in addition to this, we have the testimony of eight witnesses and that of the Prophet Joseph himself. Have we any such testimony to support the inspiration of the Bible? (Remarks Delivered by Apostle Heber J. Grant, at religious services held in the Tabernacle Sunday, September 9, 1888.)
It is from the Book of Mormon that we gain the concept of a "plan of salvation." This phrase is not a part of the vocabulary of theology of the Bible-believing world. The idea is not found in the Bible. We know it should be there, because we have it in the book of Moses (Moses 6:62), but the Bible as we have it today does not contain any reference to a divine plan for the salvation of men. (Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon v1 R. Millet)
"...who, in his right mind, could for one moment, suppose the Bible in its present form to be a perfect guide? No one can tell whether even one verse of either the Old or New Testament conveys the ideas of the original author" (Orson Pratt, Journal of Discourses, vol. 7, p. 28).
"...ignorant translators, careless transcribers, or designing and corrupt priests have committed many errors, many plain and precious things were deleted, in consequence of which error and falsehood poured into the churches. One of the great heresies of modern Christendom is the unfounded assumption that the Bible contains all of the inspired teachings now extant among men" (Bruce McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, pp. 82, 83)
"I believe the Bible as it read when it came from the pen of the original writers. Ignorant translators, careless transcribers, or designing and corrupt priests have committed many errors" (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 327)
"Many insertions were made, some of them 'slanted' for selfish purposes, while at times deliberate falsifications and fabrications were perpetrated." (Apostle Mark Petersen, As Translated Correctly, p. 4.)
"The Bible has been robbed of its plainness; many sacred books having been lost, others rejected by the Romish Church, and what few we have left, were copied and re-copied so many times, that it is admitted that almost every verse has been corrupted and mutilated to that degree that scarcely any two of them read alike." (Apostle Orson Pratt, The Seer, p. 213.)
BIRTH OF JESUS
Eds note: While a clear, unequivocal description of Mormon doctrine regarding the birth of Christ is elusive, it is generally held that Jesus was conceived by a sexual encounter between God the Father (who is a man) and the virgin Mary. In recent times, this doctrine has been avoided, presumably because of the squeamishness about the incestual implications of this doctrine. However, quotes taken from the general authorities leave little doubt that this was, in fact, the belief and teaching.
Christ was begotten of God. He was not born without the aid of Man, and that Man was God! (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 3 vols., edited by Bruce R. McConkie, 1:, p.18)
Now, we are told in scriptures that Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of God in the flesh. Well, now for the benefit of the older ones, how are children begotten? I answer just as Jesus Christ was begotten of his father. The Christian denominations believe that Christ was begotten not of God but of the spirit that overshadowed his mother. This is nonsense. Why will not the world receive the truth? Why will they not believe the Father when he says that Jesus Christ is His only begotten Son? Why will they try to explain this truth away and make mystery of it? (James R. Clark, comp., Messages of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 6 vols. (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965-75), 4:, p.329)
If Jesus had been a mere mortal he too would have been subject to death and thus unable to save either himself or others. The physical Jesus was born of Mary, a mortal woman; but he was the literal, biological son in the flesh of God the Father, from whom he received power over death (Robert J. Matthews, Behold the Messiah , p.12)
This unique attribute was the natural heritage of Jesus the Christ, He being in His embodied state the Son of a mortal mother and of an immortal Sire. (Improvement Era, 1915)
Jesus Christ enjoyed the glory and power of the Eternal Father while in mortality because he was the Only Begotten Son of the Father in the flesh, because he inherited the powers of the Father from that exalted Sire. (Joseph Fielding McConkie and Robert L. Millet, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, 4 vols., 3:, p.66)
These name-titles all signify that our Lord is the only Son of the Father in the flesh. Each of the words is to be understood literally. Only means only; Begotten means begotten; and Son means son. Christ was begotten by an Immortal Father in the same way that mortal men are begotten by mortal fathers. (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2d ed., p.546)
A DIFFERENT JESUS
As a Church we have critics, many of them. They say we do not believe in the traditional Christ of Christianity. There is some substance to what they say. Our faith, our knowledge is not based on ancient tradition, the creeds which came of a finite understanding and out of the almost infinite discussions of men trying to arrive at a definition of the risen Christ. Our faith, our knowledge comes of the witness of a prophet in this dispensation who saw before him the great God of the universe and His Beloved Son, the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ. (Gordon B. Hinckley, "We Look to Christ", from April 2002 General Conference.)See full conference text on the LDS website.
The traditional Christ of whom they [evangelical Christians] speak is not the Christ of whom I speak. For the Christ of whom I speak has been revealed in this the Dispensation of the Fullness of Times. He together with His Father, appeared to the boy Joseph Smith in the year 1820, and when Joseph left the grove that day, he knew more of the nature of God than all the learned ministers of the gospel of the ages. Gordon B. Hinckley, LDS Church News, June 20, 1998, p. 7
The appointment of Jesus to be the Savior of the world was contested by one of the other sons of God. He was called Lucifer, son of the morning. Haughty, ambitious, and covetous of power and glory, this sprit-filled brother of Jesus desperately tried to become the Savior of mankind. Milton Hunter, Gospel Through the Ages, p. 15
The whole design of the gospel is to lead us, onward and upward to greater achievement, even, eventually, to godhood. This great possibility was enunciated by the Prophet Joseph Smith in the King Follet sermon (see Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 342-62) and emphasized by President Lorenzo Snow. It is this grand and incomparable concept: As God now is, man may become! (Gordon B. Hinckley, Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley, p.179)
As sons and daughters of God, we are required to purify and perfect ourselves in righteousness, otherwise, we cannot be with him nor enjoy eternal lives and glory in his kingdom. To become like God we must possess the powers of Godhood. For such preparation there are important covenants obligations, and ordinances for mankind to receive beyond the requirement of baptism and the laying on of hands for the reception of the Holy Ghost. Every person is to receive his or her endowments in the house of the Lord which permit them, if faithful and true, to pass by the angels who stand as sentinels guarding the way to eternal glory in the mansions of God. The everlasting covenant of marriage ordained of God for man and woman, also is to be entered into and the marriage contract sealed eternally by the authority of the Holy Priesthood of God. Otherwise, the highest degree of the celestial kingdom cannot be attained nor Godood acquired, which exalted condition assures continuation of the lives forever. (Elder Delbert L. Stapley, Conference Report, April 1961, Afternoon Meeting, p.66)
Eds. note: The above quote is a particularly telling piece of LDS doctrine and thought; it highlights the need for man to "purify and perfect ourselves" (a works-based righteousness, as opposed to being purified and perfected by Christ, as the biblical gospel teaches), as well as the various other rituals and ordinance; as well as the teaching that temple marriage is necessary for the highest celestial glory & godhood.
The Father has promised us that through our faithfulness we shall be blessed with the fulness of his kingdom. In other words we will have the privilege of becoming like him. To become like him we must have all the powers of godhood; thus a man and his wife when glorified will have spirit children who eventually will go on an earth like this one we are on and pass through the same kind of experiences, being subject to mortal conditions, and if faithful, then they also will receive the fulness of exaltation and partake of the same blessings. There is no end to this development; it will go on forever. We will become gods and have jurisdiction over worlds, and these worlds will be peopled by our own offspring. We will have an endless eternity for this. (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 3 vols., edited by Bruce R. McConkie, 2:, p.48)
That exalted position was made manifest to me at a very early day. I had a direct revelation of this. It was most perfect and complete. If there ever was a thing revealed to man perfectly, clearly, so that there could be no doubt or dubiety, this was revealed to me, and it came in these words: "As man now is, God once was; as God now is, man may be." (Lorenzo Snow, The Teachings of Lorenzo Snow, p.5)
Interviewer: Just another related question that comes up is the statements in the King Follet discourse by the Prophet. Hinckley: Yeah. Interviewer: About that, God the Father was once a man as we were. This is something that Christian writers are always addressing. Is this the teaching of the church today, that God the Father was once a man like we are?
Hinckley: I don’t know that we teach it. I don’t know that we emphasize it. I haven’t heard it discussed for a long time in public discourse. I don’t know. I don’t know all the circumstances under which that statement was made. I understand the philosophical background behind it. But I don’t know a lot about it and I don’t know that others know a lot about it. (TIME magazine, August 4, 1997 (D. Van Biema).
Interviewer: There are some significant differences in your beliefs. For instance, don't Mormons believe that God was once a man? Hinckley: I wouldn't say that. There was a little couplet coined, As man is, God once was. As God is, man may become. Now that's more of a couplet than anything else. That gets into some pretty deep theology that we don't know very much about. (San Francisco Chronicle, April 13, 1997 -- Don Lattin, religion editor.)
Eds. note: This is a rather ironic statement, especially in light of the unequivocal language surrounding the "couplet" that Lorenzo Snow made famous: "That exalted position was made manifest to me at a very early day. I had a direct revelation of this. It was most perfect and complete. If there ever was a thing revealed to man perfectly, clearly, so that there could be no doubt or dubiety, this was revealed to me, and it came in these words: 'As man now is, God once was; as God now is, man may be.'"(Lorenzo Snow, The Teachings of Lorenzo Snow, p.5) The language is not open for debate. In fact, Hinckley in conference quotes (see above), while avoiding the issue of God being a man, does affirm Snow's and Smith's view of godhood.
SMITH, JOSEPH (Significant Quotes)
I have more to boast of than ever any man had. I am the only man that has ever been able to keep a whole church together since the days of Adam. A large majority of the whole have stood by me. Neither Paul, John, Peter, nor Jesus ever did it. I boast that no man ever did such a work as I. The followers of Jesus ran away from Him; but the Latter-day Saints never ran away from me yet. You know my daily walk and conversation. I am in the bosom of a virtuous and good people. How I do love to hear the wolves howl! When they can get rid of me, the devil will also go.
Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Vol., 6:, p.408.