[ Author: Kathy Petersen ]
This might seem a bold claim to make – that Mormons usurp the place of Jesus, removing Him from the spot He rightfully occupies and putting themselves in His place – but I can prove that they do this in at least the following four ways.
In no particular order:
High Priest after the order of Melchizedek
1) They usurp Jesus as the rightful “High Priest after the order of Melchizedek” that the author of Hebrews talks about. [Please take the time to refresh your memory on this topic, particularly if you’re unfamiliar with it. Melchizedek is mentioned only in Gen. 14, Psalm 110, and Hebrews – primarily chap. 7, but it is helpful to start in chap. 6 and go at least through chap. 9 to get the fuller context.]
The basic thrust of the argument is that in the OT, Melchizedek prefigured Christ, and seeing as how Abraham (Levi’s ancestor) gave tithes to Melchizedek, that shows that Melchizedek – and the Melchizedek Priesthood – was superior to Abraham (and therefore also superior to the as-yet-unborn Levi and the yet-future Levitical Priesthood, or the Aaronic Priesthood, or the Priesthood of Aaron).
Melchizedek appears only once in the Bible, in Gen. 14, where he meets Abraham after the latter had saved Lot and the rest of the people of Sodom and the surrounding cities from having been captured by the enemy. Then nothing more is said until he suddenly is mentioned again in Psalm 110, in a Messianic Psalm, which promises that the Messiah will be a Priest after the order of Melchizedek.
In the Levitical Priesthood, genealogy was everything, because anyone claiming to be a priest had to prove he was a literal and legitimate descendant of Levi, and a high priest had to be a descendant of Aaron. Jesus couldn’t have been a descendant of Levi, since He was of the offspring of David and of the tribe of Judah. The theme of Hebrews is “better” – Jesus is better than the angels, the New Covenant is better than the Old Covenant, the Melchizedek Priesthood is better than the Levitical Priesthood, and Jesus as the Great High Priest is better and greater than Levitical (or any other human) priests, among other things.
Here is where the usurpation comes in: Mormons take upon themselves the Melchizedek Priesthood, even though that spot rightfully belongs only to Christ!! It’s bad enough that they have multiple Aaronic high priests when there was only ever one at a time according to the Law of Moses, but then they ignore what the book of Hebrews says about Jesus being our High Priest. Oh, they tacitly accept it, but ignore that there was only ever one High Priest at a time, so by having literally thousands of Melchizedek High Priests in the LDS Church, they are rejecting Jesus as the High Priest.
The Book of Hebrews presupposes a single High Priest – first by the fact that it was written by someone who was extremely familiar with the Law of Moses which had only one high priest at a time; and secondly in contrasting the many, many priests under the Law of Moses who couldn’t remain priests because they died, with Jesus who “ever liveth to make intercession” for those who “come to God by Him.”
Only He has the right to occupy that office, as the context of Hebrews clearly shows, because the OT Melchizedek prefigured Christ alone and not thousands of average Mormon men. (Indeed, one might argue that by having anyone else as a Melchizedek High Priest, it is tacitly putting forward that Jesus Christ is dead, since Hebrews so clearly shows that the only reason for more than one High Priest is if the previous one had died. Of course, Mormons would never think that’s what they’re doing, but that is the effect.)
A new name
2) In Isaiah 62:2, Rev. 2:17, and Rev. 3:12 we read about a “new name” being given to people:
Isaiah 62:2 And the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory: and thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the LORD shall name.
Revelation 2:17 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.
Revelation 3:12 Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.
[As a brief aside, these verses can also be used to supplement a conversation with Jehovah’s Witnesses to show that the NT writers had no problem with applying OT passages about Jehovah to Jesus. However, a JW would probably deny that this is what is happening, and say that the Bible says that Jehovah names the name but Jesus gives the name, so Jehovah tells Jesus the name, and Jesus passes the name on to the person, thus being the one who finally gives that name to the person. Now back to Mormonism….]
Notice that the passages identify Jehovah (OT) and Jesus (NT) as being the one who gives the “new name”. In Mormonism, as part of the Temple endowment, the Mormon receives a “new name” which he’s not supposed to tell anybody, ever (women likewise aren’t supposed to tell anybody their “new name”, except for their own husband as part of the Temple Marriage ceremony – more about this in the next point).
So the “new name” is given by somebody other than Jesus! While LDS would say that they are given the “new name” under Jesus’s authority, so “in a way it is Jesus who gives the name”, there is nothing in the Bible that suggests that Jesus would use a proxy in giving people their “new name”. Indeed, Rev. 2:17 says that only the man who receives the new name will know what that new name is, but the way that the LDS ceremony is, the person actually telling the new name also knows the new name, which is a direct violation of Rev. 2:17.
Whose voice is heard?
3) In John 5:28-29, Jesus says, “the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.” According to the Bible, who calls forth the dead from the grave in the resurrection? Jesus! In LDS beliefs, however, women are called forth in the resurrection by their husbands.
Remember point 2 about women telling their husbands their new name? That is the name that LDS men expect to use to call forth their wives in the resurrection. [And while a Mormon woman can be sealed only to one husband, a man can be sealed “for eternity” to multiple women. In the old days, polygamy was openly practiced and encouraged among LDSs, but in modern times, it is officially prohibited; however, a widower can remarry and be sealed to both his late wife and his new wife, but a widow cannot be sealed to her late husband and another man.]
Jumping through hoops
4) This next example of usurpation requires a little background for clarity. In LDS beliefs, in order for a person to go to the Celestial Kingdom (the highest level of heaven in their belief system, where people are in the presence of God the Father – what most people would simply call “heaven”), faith alone is not sufficient. In LDS beliefs, when they speak of Jesus “saving” someone, they simply mean that He will resurrect the person in the future, and because of that, the person can go to heaven, provided he has done enough good works to qualify for (or prove himself worthy of) heaven.
Not only does the person have to “believe the gospel” (the LDS gospel) and be baptized (physically immersed by a “worthy” “priesthood holder”), but he also has to have a “testimony” that the LDS Church is God’s True Church, and the current LDS leadership are God’s Prophet and Apostles, but they have to meet several legalistic standards (including eschewing coffee and tea, as well as all forms of alcohol and drugs), and also must tithe 10% of their gross income for a year before first qualifying as Temple Worthy [TW], and they then need to continue that tithe and those works for the rest of their lives in order to remain TW so that they can die “worthy” of being in the Celestial Kingdom.
Next bit of background: in LDS beliefs, at death, non-Mormons go to “spirit prison” where other departed Mormons get to preach the gospel to them, and if they believe, they have the opportunity to get out of spirit prison – but in order for them to get out, they must be physically baptized, which is (obviously!) impossible to do to a spirit. This is where proxy baptism comes in.
One of the things that Temple Worthy Mormons do is regularly go to the Temple and get baptized for and on behalf of the dead. One problem is that the living have no idea who of the dead has accepted the gospel in the afterlife, so they perform proxy baptism for all the names they can find (there is even evidence that Adolf Hitler and his girlfriend Eva Braun have been proxy-baptized!), so that if and when the dead accept the gospel, their baptism has been performed so they can immediately get out of spirit prison, rather than remaining in prison as believers awaiting baptism.
Getting down to brass tacks
While any usurpation of the place of Jesus Christ is unacceptable, one thing I find most odd about LDS beliefs is that they think that believing the gospel and having faith in Christ’s vicarious work is insufficient, because they require a lot of work in order to qualify as “Temple Worthy”; however, they believe that their own vicarious work is sufficient to get people out of spirit prison (and ultimately into heaven). It sounds like they think their works are better than Christ’s!
In summary, LDS beliefs run contrary to the Bible in several ways, including at least these four ways in which they demote Jesus from His rightful place, and usurp His kingly authority by putting themselves into His place. They claim “new revelation” from “modern-day prophets” as their basis, but since God doesn’t change, and His Word doesn’t change, if “new revelation” contradicts the Scriptures we already have (e.g., the Bible), the “new revelation” can’t be from God at all.