Passion of the Christ and Mormons
Mormons stay away from Passion because of ‘R’ rating
In what is just another example of how Mormons are under the law, Mormons stayed away from theaters for the Passion of the Christ so they would not be seen at an R-rated movie. In spite of what Mormons think, in reality, Mel Gibson probably did not go far enough in his depiction of Christ’s suffering. One has to wonder if the story was about Joseph Smith’s death, would the church care as much about these arbitrary ratings? Does the church care about appearances to a worldly rating system more than sharing in the suffering of their “Lord”? In a word, yes!
The Missing Cross in Mormonism
1 Corinthians 1:18-19; “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.”
You’ve heard it said that a way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. While that may tie you or me over for a bit of time, eventually we’re going to be looking in the not too distant future to be satisfied again. If we base our worthiness on what we can cook, how much money we make, what clothing we wear; we will be nothing but a sorry bunch. Yet isn’t that what we do when we try to control our every step in our every day; or when our focus isn’t where it should be? There is a way to the heart of man that will always satisfy, it is the cross.
I remember sitting on a stairway out in the countryside in Germany several years ago. The stairway would lead you down to a path that circled a small lake in the village where my husband and I were living. I would walk about half way down those stairs and turn around to stare at the cross at the top of the hill. The area was quiet more times than not, surrounded by lush green trees and bushes. I would sit there for hours wondering what that white cross meant. I obviously knew that it represented where Jesus had been crucified, but I wanted to know more. Why was it so important, why did the Christian churches place them around their churches, yet in the “Christian church” I attended, there was no cross to be found?
Besides wanting to know more about the cross, I wanted to know more about the Jesus that everyone else in the world knew about. He seemed much different to the one I was accustomed to throughout my twenty or so years. He seemed as elusive as that cross did. And it hadn’t mattered where I had traveled in Europe, there were crosses on the churches in every single country we visited and every person I met in those countries had the same story about Jesus when I’d ask questions.
Never in Utah was there as many crosses as what I had seen in Germany; the crosses were almost as common as ward buildings with their aesthetic steeples. In Utah you could see a cross if you drove by the Methodist or Catholic Church, or if you’d drive a little further north of my hometown there was a big cross that stood on the property outside the Calvary Chapel at the mouth of the canyon. That was it; I don’t remember seeing any other crosses in the town I grew up in.
I had to work hard at looking for them and wanted more than anything to know more about it because it was a core doctrine in the LDS Church to not bother with them. I would often wonder what was it that I wasn’t supposed to know. Why was it presented as something that needed to be talked about in hushed tones?
In the book Mormon Doctrine this is what it says about the cross on page 172; “In succeeding centuries, the churches which came into being through an intermingling of pagan concepts with the true apostolic Christianity developed the practice of using symbolic crosses in the architecture of their buildings and as jewelry attached to the robes of their priests. Frequently this practice of dwelling on the personal death struggle of our Lord has caused these churches to put sculptured representations of Christ on their crosses, thus forming so called crucifixes. All this is inharmonious with the quiet spirit of worship and reverence that should attend a true Christian’s remembrance of our Lord’s sufferings and death. In fact, the revealed symbolism to bring these things to the attention of true worshipers is found in the ordinance of the sacrament.”
If you were to ask a Mormon why they don’t wear a cross necklace or have crosses anywhere at their church wards they will tell you that “the cross was a murder weapon. If Jesus had been shot by a gun would you wear a gun around your neck?”
I’ve been home several times since I moved away and have seen that there are indeed many more crosses that dot the skyline of my hometown and I praise Jesus for that! He has certainly heard and answered the prayers of countless Christians everywhere for placing His church inside Utah! May we continue to pray that He would make it possible to have more?
I know and understand it probably sounds as if I am worshipping the cross and bowing to it. Nothing could be further from the truth. As a member of the true church – the body of Christ – I am most humbled by the solitary work that Jesus performed on my behalf. I want to bring attention to the cross because of the significance of the work performed there by our Lord.
What an incredible feat He endured! Of course nothing could ever compare to the miraculous way God sought to redeem His people and then to even save the Gentiles as well! What else can be said except that we have such a merciful, loving God whose mighty arm extends to save?
Each time I am at a worship service singing about the blood of Jesus I thank Him for getting me out of Mormonism. It’s been 18 years now and I still can’t believe it. I am also reminded of the songs I used to sing as a Mormon and my heart is just sick thinking about the loneliness and fruitless ways of the LDS doctrine. “Praise to the man”, meaning Joseph Smith, is just one example.
At a conference in Seattle, the pastor Alistair Begg said, “When you take your eyes off the cross, you lose your way in the Bible”. The Mormon Church is proof of that! They carry the Bible around with them, yet they believe that it’s not translated correctly and where is the cross in the lives of the Mormon people?
The LDS Church is certainly consistent about one thing throughout their writings and teachings. They work hard at keeping people confused and they deserve an “A” for effort. In Doctrines of Salvation, pg. 130 it says this about the cross:
“We speak of the passion of Jesus Christ. A great many people have an idea that when he was on the cross, and nails were driven into his hands and feet, that was his great suffering. His great suffering was before he ever was placed upon the cross. It was in the Garden of Gethsemane that the blood oozed from the pores of his body: “Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit-and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink,”.”
Now keep this in mind as we read further into this teaching by their prophet Joseph Fielding Smith on page 132;
“We will never be able to pay the debt. The gratitude of our hearts should be filled to overflowing in love and obedience for his great and tender mercy. For what he has done, we should never fail him. He bought us with a price, the price of his great suffering and the spilling of his blood in sacrifice on the cross.”
So where did the atonement for sins take place? When there are so many other distractions and side items going on in your theology, it is easy enough to forget the essentials and the Mormon scripture above serves as a good example of what can and does happen. I know it’s not politically correct and it’s very offensive in today’s day and age to speak of a gruesome event such as crucifixion.
People today want things to be neatly packaged and non-confrontational. Many of the e-mails that come through our website tell us that we should unite with all the religions to build each other up. Or they will tell us that the message of the gospel is great, but just don’t hound on the cross so much because it sounds as if I’m bowing down to worship it.
When I think of the cross I can think of nothing else but the God I worship and that I am in complete awe because He hung there for me. The missionary Amy Carmichael once said; “If I covet anything but the dust at the foot of the cross, I know nothing of Calvary Love”. It is a breath of fresh air to hear the messages preached and books written about the crucifixion. Our sin isn’t pretty, and neither should the circumstances be of the need to take care of our sin.
The entire Bible is about one person; that being Jesus, the One Who saves. The Old Testament prophets wrote about Him, prophesied about Him and looked to God to provide. The gospels are relatively short in their description of His life compared to the rest of the New Testament. The rest of the New Testament is focused solely on what happens to man because of the crucifixion and resurrection. Even till today, the crucifixion is what marks our time here on earth. It’s been about 1,970 years since His death. Who else receives such attention about their death? As Alistair Begg pointed out “everyone receives attention for the lives they lived, but it is impossible to find extensive information about anyone concerning their death”.
Here are some of the Old Testament prophecies about Jesus’ crucifixion:
Ps. 16:10; 22:15-18; 34:20; 68:18; 69:21; 109:2-4
and let us not forget our beloved gift of Isaiah’s words in Isaiah 53.
In the last reference, Isaiah 53, there are 48 prophecies about Jesus. In the Old Testament there are 333 prophecies about Him and 33 of those were fulfilled in the last 24 hours of His life! Can you imagine my friend, all of the Bible points to just one person and two events in the history of time? The two events are of course, the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ Jesus. Last summer Kirk and I went to Nauvoo for missions and while we were there the Lord showed me something I’ll never forget.
He brought to mind what Paul spoke about in the fifteenth chapter of 1st Corinthians – you got it – the “resurrection chapter”! I stood at the grave of Joseph Smith feeling poorly for the Mormon people that their praise goes to someone who created a false faith and who is still lying under the ground. The other part of me was filled with relief that God got me out of the mess I was in every day and my hope was in a God who had not only provided for me, but also gave me the assurance that I will be with Him in heaven.
One of the verses found in scripture that we can keep near our hearts for assurance is John 19:30. I use this scripture a lot with the Mormons and always ask them the same thing with it. What did Jesus mean when He said “It is finished” in John 19:30?
They all give me the same answer which speaks volumes, but it mostly tells me they have been taught to answer any questions in the same way when asked by their non-Mormon friends or relatives. This is what I hear each time and it’s taken from Journal of Discourses 23:174-5;
“It is believed by many in the Christian world, that our Savior finished his mission when he expired upon the cross, and his last words on the cross, as given by the Apostle John—”it is finished,” are frequently quoted as evidence of the fact; but this is an error. Christ did not complete his mission upon the earth until after his body was raised from the dead.”
The rest of the quote goes on to say that His mission wasn’t done because He had not risen. It then goes on to say that the apostles couldn’t remember anything the Savior had told them about the Holy Ghost and being filled with power by him. Now while part of that may be a little bit true, the part about Jesus’ mission not being complete is not true.
The apostles didn’t understand what Jesus had meant while He spoke to them in person. However, during His appearances after His resurrection He gave them specific orders to wait in Jerusalem for the gift that He had promised to them.
The apostle’s job was about to take place, fifty days after the resurrection would be Pentecost and they would be infilled with the Holy Spirit and the birth of the Jesus’ Church would begin.
Jesus’ work and sacrifice was indeed finished – Jesus was born for one purpose and that purpose was to die as the sacrificial Lamb of God for you, for me, for all who would believe on His name. It was because His work was finished that we are found to be righteous before God the Father; not because of anything you or I could ever do!
If you are looking anywhere but the cross for your salvation, your search is in vain. God ordained this before the world was because He already knew that man would sin and need help to be found worthy. The fall of Adam and Eve was a curse, not a necessary evil of a fall upward as the LDS doctrines would lead people to believe. Here are a few LDS doctrinal examples of what they believe about the fall:
Articles of Faith 2 – “We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression.”
2 Nephi 2:25 says; “Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.”
D&C 29:39; “And it must needs be that the devil should tempt the children of men, or they could not be agents unto themselves; for if they never should have bitter they could not know the sweet –.”
Articles of Faith, pg. 63; “It has become a common practise with mankind to heap reproaches upon the progenitors of the family, and to picture the supposedly blessed state in which we would be living but for the fall; whereas our first parents are entitled to our deepest gratitude… But for the opportunity thus given, the spirits of God’s offspring would have remained forever in a state of innocent childhood, sinless through no effort of their own; negatively saved, not from sin, but from the opportunity of meeting sin; incapable of winning the honors of victory because prevented from taking part in the conflict…From Father Adam we have inherited all the ills to which flesh is heir; but such are necessarily incident to a knowledge of good and evil, by the proper use of which knowledge man may become even as the Gods.”
So the bottom line with the LDS Church is that the cross means absolutely nothing because they believe Jesus paid for our sins in the Garden of Gethsemane; they believe that it was a “necessary evil” that Adam fell so we could earn the honors of victory in the conflict of sin and we owe our gratitude to our father Adam for his great disobedience towards God.
I pray that God would have mercy upon this people and lead as many as would listen to His truth so they may be saved. Acts 3:19 says; “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.”
If you’re a Mormon please know that we’re not here to bash you or insult you! We care deeply about your salvation and want you to know how much Jesus really does love you. The Jesus of the Bible is the true Son of God, not the one that Joseph Smith made up in 1830. If you’d like more information about this topic or anything else in Mormonism don’t hesitate to drop us a line!
With Love in Christ;
1 Cor. 1:18