What does Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith believe? Find out with guest James Walker on the show Christ in Prophecy.
Last aired on January 8, 2012.
Dr. Reagan: Should the Mormon religion be considered a part of the Christian faith? When a Mormon says that he has accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior, what is he really saying? Do Mormons base their faith on the Bible or on other books they consider equal to or superior to the Bible? For the answer to these and other questions concerning Mormonism, stay tuned.
Dr. Reagan: Greetings in the name of Jesus our blessed hope, and welcome to Christ in Prophecy. This week I am delighted to have as my special guest Mr. James Walker who is one of Christendom’s most renowned experts on cults and on other types of religions beyond Christianity. Mr. Walker is the president of Watchman Fellowship whose headquarters is located in Arlington, Texas. James, you’ve been on this program before and I tell you, we had a tremendous response. You were talking about the cults then, and I want to welcome you back.
James Walker: It’s great to be back, Dave, good to be with you.
Dr. Reagan: Well, we are really delighted to have you. Now, James, because of Mitt Romney’s presence in the presidential race, the question of Mormonism has kind of been moved to the front burner. People are interested in it who have never been interested in it before. And in just a moment I want to get your response to some comments that I have heard recently on news programs about this, and also, your response to some comments that Mitt Romney has made about his own faith. But before we do that, I want to establish your credentials. How can you speak authoritatively about the Mormon faith?
James Walker: Well, Dave, I was a Mormon. Born and raised a Mormon, a Latter-day Saint. Fourth-generation.
Dr. Reagan: Fourth Generation?
James Walker: Fourth Generation. I was baptized when I was just eight years old and received the laying on of hands for what they call the gift of the Holy Ghost. Then I later received the Mormon Aaronic priesthood, serving in the offices of deacon, teacher, and priest. I also did baptism work for the dead in the Salt Lake City Temple.
Dr. Reagan: Did you receive Temple baptism?
James Walker: I was baptized for the dead in the Salt Lake City Temple, by proxy. And so I believed that Joseph Smith, the Mormon founder, the Mormon prophet was a true prophet of God. That the Book of Mormon was the very word of God. I believed it completely. But I had some Christian friends who loved me, built a bridge of relationship with me, and I was able to come to see that the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Dr. Reagan: It’s amazing they could do that because weren’t you taught that Christians were the enemy.
James Walker: Yes, and it was hard to trust at first, but they had some good documentation, some good proofs and they showed the love of Christ. And over a process I came to realize that the Book of Mormon was not the word of God and that Joseph Smith was not a prophet of God and I was able to receive the true gospel of grace.
Dr. Reagan: Praise the Lord!
James Walker: Now since that time, you know, before I became president of Watchman Fellowship, I received a bachelor’s degree in biblical studies and a master’s degree in theology from the Criswell College, and I teach at several Bible colleges now on comparative religions. I teach as an adjunct professor at Criswell College in Dallas, Arlington Baptist College. I also co-teach a one week workshop each year at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.
Dr. Reagan: Did your family reject you?
James Walker: You know, eventually my entire family, except for my father, did become Christian. Evangelical.
Dr. Reagan: Praise God.
James Walker: Now my father and I, we went through a 10 year period, Dave, where my dad and I talked twice during the ten year period. And he did pass away as a Latter-day Saint.
Dr. Reagan: Well, I know that must have been a terrible disappointment for you.
James Walker: It was.
Dr. Reagan: But I know it’s very difficult to leave a faith like Mormonism or the Jehovah’s Witnesses, because it’s your culture.
Dr. Reagan: Yes, it’s not just about a religion. Everything about you is tied into your identity, your culture, everything that you are was based for me on the Book of Mormon, on the prophet Joseph Smith, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Dr. Reagan: Now that we have established that James does know what he is talking about when it comes to Mormonism, we are going to turn our attention to the questions that we raised at the start of the program.
James, the first question I’m gonna ask you is one that relates to something that I saw recently on the morning edition of Fox News their national edition. One of their hosts is a fellow by the name of Steve Doocy. And Steve was just very upset on this program about the fact that anybody would be concerned about the faith of Mitt Romney. He said he had gone to the Internet, that he had Googled the word Mormon, and he said that when he did that he found a whole lot of sites defending Mormonism and claiming that Mormonism is a legitimate expression of the Christian faith. Then he said he found a lot of negative sites that were attacking Mormonism, but he said, “Let me tell you something about those negative sites.” He said, “They had the wildest claims I’ve ever heard in my life.” He said, “They were absolutely outlandish.” He said, “Let me give you an example.” He said, “Many of these sites mention the fact that Mormons believe that they can become gods and that they will be populating planets in the future.” And he said, “that is obviously so silly and outlandish that nobody could believe such a thing.” So he said, “I decided all those anti-Mormon sites were simply lying.” Well, what about it James, do Mormons really believe such outlandish things?
James Walker: Well, I would hope that research would go beyond just Googling the word Mormon. Let me say as a Latter-day Saint I was taught consistently that God, before he was God, he was once a man on another planet who had a god over him who was once a man. And I was clearly taught, it’s in the Temple preparation manuals, that if I was worthy and obedient; if I did not drink coffee or tea, if I obeyed all the laws and ordinances of the gospel, eventually yes, my wife and I, if we were married in the Temple, could receive what the Mormons call Celestial Exaltation. And that we would have the same capabilities as our heavenly parents, as our father and mother in heaven, we would become, my wife and I, a God and Goddess over our own earth. And yes, we would populate our planet with our spirit children. It’s called the Law of Eternal Progression.
Dr. Reagan: So, this thing that Steve Doocy said was so outlandish that nobody could believe in it is really a fundamental doctrine of the Mormon Church.
James Walker: It’s very clearly taught, and in fact, on our website and most places that are critical of the churches’ theology that are saying that is doesn’t line up with the Bible, they document what they’re saying, they don’t just make the statements, they give you the page number. At Watchman Fellowship we have a library of over 50,000 items, that would be books, files, periodicals, documents going all the way back to the 1800s. So every time we say something, we document, this is the Mormon prophet, this is the general authority, this is the book that you can go down to the Mormon bookstore, buy the book, you can open it to this page this is where it says it. It’s clearly documented.
Dr. Reagan: I want to go back to something that you mentioned. And that is the concept of God. Did I understand you to say that Mormons believe that God is an exalted Man?
James Walker: Yes, I was taught that God achieved Godhood. That before he was God he was once a man on an earth, something like the earth we live on, and I was also taught that God was married. In Mormonism you have heavenly father and heavenly mother. God and Mrs. God. And that God and his wife have spirit children, spirit babies, billions of them. And I was taught that everybody alive on the earth today, before we came to this earth, we used to live with our heavenly parents, with our father and mother in heaven, we are those spirit children. We are on this earth right now, and if we will join the only true church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Mormon church, and obey the precepts, obey the laws and ordinances, through our own worthiness, if we are able to get access to the Temple, which most Mormons don’t qualify, but if you’re able to qualify and go through the Temple ceremony, yes, eventually you too can be a god yourself. That’s clearly taught in the literature.
Dr. Reagan: What about the concept of salvation?
James Walker: Salvation is not the salvation by grace through faith. Now, Latter-day Saints will talk about Jesus being the Savior and they will say that what Jesus did is necessary for salvation, Jesus opened the door to salvation, but they also clearly teach that what Christ did and His atonement is not sufficient to save you. I was taught as a Latter-day Saint in order to be saved I needed what Christ did, but I also had to have my own obedience to the laws and ordinances. I had to prove my worthiness; going through the Temple is part of it. To even get inside the Temple, Mormons have to have meetings, interviews with their bishop and their state president and they will ask you very direct questions about your personal obedience and worthiness. They’ll ask you, for example, if you drink coffee or tea, either beverage will disqualify you. They’ll want to ask you–
Dr. Reagan: But we’ve got water here.
James Walker: Oh yeah, this is water. They’ll ask you are you a full tithe payer? If you can not establish that you’ve given 10% of your gross income to the Mormon Church, you’re not allowed to go into the Temple which effects where you spend your eternity. So it’s not salvation by grace. The Christian gospel is that Christ paid it all. We receive it as a gift, we don’t earn our salvation. We receive it.
Dr. Reagan: So in this the Mormon’s say, Jesus did His part, but we got to do our part.
James Walker: Absolutely.
Dr. Reagan: And the Mormon’s say our part is a lot of good works.
James Walker: Absolutely.
Dr. Reagan: Mormonism is the only religion I’ve ever heard of where there’s baptism for the dead, could you comment on that?
James Walker: It’s based largely on a misinterpretation of First Corinthians Chapter 15. Basically the Mormons teach that if you’ve never had an opportunity to accept the Mormon gospel they believe that true Christianity ceased to exist shortly after the death of the original apostles in the first century, until Joseph Smith restored the truth in the year 1830. So if you lived during that time period, where there was no true gospel, you have no opportunity for salvation, or even today, if the Mormon missionaries have not come to your door or maybe you didn’t talk to them when they came to knock on your door; if you die in that state you cannot receive full salvation. However, they do believe that after death there’s a temporary place that you go called Spirit Prison, and in Spirit Prison, Mormon missionaries from Paradise can come down and share the gospel with you in spirit prison and if you accept the gospel, and somebody gets baptized for the dead for you, you then are on the step toward full salvation.
Dr. Reagan: So this is one of the reasons they keep such detailed genealogical records, so they can go back and be baptized for all of their ancestors.
James Walker: Absolutely. I did this as a Mormon. I went to the Salt Lake City Temple; I was dressed in total white. I was given different names of dead men and I was baptized by proxy for and on behalf of these dead people.
Dr. Reagan: Well folks, despite all these clearly unbiblical truths, Mitt Romney declared that he has accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. Does that make him a Christian? In just a moment I’m going to ask James that question. But first, here is a message about how you can get a great study resource concerning Mormonism.
Dr. Reagan: Welcome back to our discussion of Mormonism. My special guest is James Walker, director of Watchman Fellowship in Arlington, Texas. James is an expert on the cults and he was born and raised in the Mormon faith. James, a controversy concerning Mormonism finally motivated Mitt Romney to go public and give a speech about his faith. And in that speech I want to quote, he said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of mankind.” The next morning on Fox News Steve Doocy sighed a great sigh of relief and proclaimed that statement should put to rest all concerns as to whether or not Mitt Romney is a Christian. What about it? Does a statement like that make a person a Christian?
James Walker: I tell you what; the problem is you have to define terms. You have to know what’s meant by terminology. And I think that probably Mitt Romney carefully chose exactly what he said and what he didn’t say to make it sound compatible with tradition Christian faith. First of all, Son of God. Yes, the Latter-day Saints technically believe Jesus is the Son of God. They’ll often add the phrase “in the flesh.” Only begotten in the flesh. You need to understand as Mormons are taught that everybody are sons and daughters of God, that God and his wife have billions of them so Jesus was one of the billions of sons of God, but uniquely Christ, they teach, is the only begotten Son of God, only in the flesh. Now by that they mean heavenly father came to this earth, married the Virgin Mary, and begot the Savior naturally. He’s the only one that was conceived this way, everyone else has human fathers, Jesus actually, He was begotten in this relationship. Now, even the Mormon prophet himself, Gordon B. Hinkley, the top Mormon, prophet, seer and revelator, on several occasions recently in their church, LDS church news, has said that he does not believe in the traditional Christ. So when somebody says they believe in Jesus, you’ve got to say “which Jesus?”
Dr. Reagan: Which Jesus? I mean, for example, Jehovah’s Witnesses believe He is the archangel Michael.
James Walker: Yes and there’s a group out in California that believes Jesus is a mushroom! And so you have to kind of ask the question–
Dr. Reagan: And you’re serious about that.
James Walker: Yes, the sacred mushroom and the cross. John Allegro is the leader of that.
Dr. Reagan: Yeah.
James Walker: So, 2 Corinthians 11 verse 4 is where the Bible warns about those who would preach a Jesus other than the Jesus we preach and so, Muslims believe in Jesus, they don’t believe the right things about Jesus, but virtually all the religions believe something about Jesus. The Jesus of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not the traditional Christ. The Mormon prophet has said this in general conference. He’s said it in the LDS church news, he does not believe in the traditional Christ.
Dr. Reagan: Well how does the Jesus of Mormonism differ from the Jesus of the Bible?
James Walker: Well, He wasn’t born of a virgin, in the traditional sense of that, he’s one of billions of sons and daughters of heavenly father. He’s the spirit brother of Lucifer as well as the rest of us. Also the Jesus of Mormonism according to some early Mormon apostles, Jesus himself was married to three women; he married Mary, her sister Martha, and Mary Magdalene. The Book of Mormon teaches that Christ after his resurrection he comes to America to preach the gospel to the native American Indians. The Jesus of Mormonism is not the true God, only true God, made flesh and dwelling among us. It’s a totally different Jesus.
Dr. Reagan: He’s totally separate and apart from God the Father.
James Walker: Two separate beings. There’s actually two Gods there. You have Heavenly Father as one God, and Jesus at best to be another God.
Dr. Reagan: So you don’t really have a belief in the Trinity.
James Walker: Oh no, no, and that’s one thing the Latter-day Saints are pretty up front about. That they do not believe in the Doctrine of the Trinity, they consider it to be a first century–
Dr. Reagan: What do they do with the Holy Spirit?
James Walker: The Holy Spirit they will divide. Joseph Smith the Mormon founder would say the Holy Spirit is different than the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost, of course its just two ways of translating the same Greek words, Hagios pneumatos. But Joseph Smith develops a whole doctrine around the two. Holy Spirit is like an inanimate force or influence of Heavenly Father.
Dr. Reagan: Not a personality.
James Walker: Not a person. But the Holy Ghost is a person without a body who’s a member of the Godhead, and is in effect one of the three Gods that we believe in.
Dr. Reagan: Yeah.
James Walker: So again, the big separation is, Christianity is a monotheistic religion. Christians believe there’s only one true God, every other God is a false god. As a Latter-day Saint, I was taught, and in our scriptures, in the Pearl of Great Price, Book of Abraham, it talks about the Gods created the earth. The Gods said let there be light.
Dr. Reagan: I remember in your previous program when we talked about cults that you said one of the characteristics of cultic groups is they often use Christian language but they mean different things by what they’re saying.
James Walker: Right, and sometimes what really bothers me is sometimes Latter-day Saints who know the difference, they know both sets of language, will purposely use terms that they know will communicate with a Christian audience in a way that makes them sound evangelical, sound traditional, when the truth is really far from that.
Dr. Reagan: Welcome back to our discussion of Mormonism. My special guest is James Walker, president of Watchman Fellowship, a cult watching ministry. James was born and raised in the Mormon Church, and I have asked one of my staff members, Nathan Jones, to join us for this segment of the program. Nathan is our web minister. He had an interesting online chat recently with a Mormon. And Nathan, I want you to tell us all about.
Nathan Jones: Certainly, we get emails everyday from people with questions and a gentleman wrote in and asked us what document of the Mormons teaches that Satan was spirit brothers with Jesus? A Mike Huckabee question. And I went online to look for an answer, and went to mormon.org. There’s tons of literature there. Well hey, there’ve got this spot where you can just talk to a guy.
Dr. Reagan: So this is an official website of the Mormon Church?
Nathan Jones: Yes, official. Mormon.org. And they have online missionaries you can talk to, so, well, I’ll save time I’ll just ask a guy. And he was very helpful, very friendly, and I asked him, what document of the Mormons teaches that Satan was spirit brothers with Jesus? He went off for a bit to do the research and he came back and I expected he’d have an answer from the Book of Mormon, or the Pearl of Great Price, he gave us Acts 17:29.
Dr. Reagan: What?
Nathan Jones: “Therefore since we are God’s offspring…” starts off like that…and I kind of pressed him on that, what exactly does that mean? He says, “God’s no respecter of persons so in that sense we’re all equal. So not only is Jesus–”
Dr. Reagan: We’re equal to God?
Nathan Jones: We’re equal. Not only is Jesus and Satan brothers, but we’re brothers with Jesus and Satan. So, that was interesting. I wanted him to elaborate that so he had another point about becoming God which we talked about earlier. He says God wants the same for all of us so he came up with a plan for us all to have every opportunity to be like him. Be like God? Can we be like God? He said, yes sir. We have all the potential to be like God. So I asked in what ways? He said well we can be like God in every way. Every way we can be like God. So I went on. What about salvation? What did Jesus provide that allows me to become like God? He says we could choose to either follow Satan in unhappiness, or follow God in happiness. So, you know, I had to ask, what does that mean? Does Jesus offer happiness which leads us to become like God? And Satan gives us unhappiness which keeps us from becoming like God. And he says, so if I embrace Jesus’ happiness, I will become like God. And there are some other things. He said there are the Ten Commandments that we have to follow, as well as listening and following the modern day prophets. The Mormon modern day prophets.
Dr. Reagan: Oh. We’re adding more and more and more as we go along here.
Nathan Jones: Well, you know, it took only five minutes to see how different the Mormon beliefs are from the Christian beliefs. You know, I made a comment about what I thought of Satan, and he responded that God told us not to judge anyone, lest we be judged in the same manner, so it helps me keep bitter thoughts out of my mind. See, he’s always happier when he keeps bitter thoughts, so he tries to keep bitter thoughts. So what’s gonna happen to Satan then, you know, what about Satan? He says, God is a merciful Father and because of that, I don’t know that I have anything definite to say about Satan, so what kind of judgment? So that’s kind of the big question we left with. We wound down after that, but what does the Bible say–excuse me, what do the Mormons believe about Satan? And judgment?
James Walker: Well, let me say first of all, that missionary online on mormon.org was more forthright than what I’ve seen coming out even from Fox News from the Mormon response to Fox’s 21 Questions about Mormonism. And I think he’s being pretty honest with you. You have to understand again that everything revolves around our heavenly parents. In Mormonism you have heavenly father and heavenly mother who have billions of sons and daughters. Jesus is one of them. I’m one of them. You’re one of them. Lucifer.
Dr. Reagan: Satan was.
James Walker: Exactly. And so, that’s the Mike Huckabee question. You know, do the Mormons teach that Jesus and Lucifer are spirit brothers? The answer is yes, but we’re all brothers and sisters with these same heavenly parents. And so, I appreciate that he’s being honest with you on that and being a little bit more forthright than I’ve seen in other venues of late on the theology and doctrines of the Mormon church.
Dr. Reagan: But think of what this does to Jesus Christ. To His Divinity and all. When we start equating ourselves with Him.
James Walker: See, you have to take one step back. You need to realize Mormons teach that gods, angels, and humans, are all the same species, in various forms. Just like you have a caterpillar that becomes a butterfly, we are, and this is a normal Mormon statement, humans are God in embryo. We have the potential to become just like our heavenly parents. Well, that destroys the Divinity of Christ, the Deity of Christ. Because it just makes Jesus our elder brother, and it makes Him instead of the God of the universe, it makes Him a latter day god, one of billions of other gods and goddesses.
Dr. Reagan: What is the significance of becoming a Temple Mormon?
James Walker: Well, full salvation, called Celestial Exaltation, becoming a god, requires that you go through the Temple ceremony.
Dr. Reagan: What percentage of Mormons do that?
James Walker: Very few, probably less than 20% of adult Mormons qualify, have reached the bar of being able to qualify to go inside a Temple.
Dr. Reagan: So does that end up with Mormons in different categories, eternally?
James Walker: Yes, in Mormonism there are actually 3 heavens. You have the bottom heaven, which is reserved for wicked people, people who don’t believe in God, atheists. Even murders can go to what they call the Telestial Kingdom. The bottom heaven. The middle heaven is reserved for religious people who were not Mormons, not obedient to the full light, but they were a good Buddhist or a good Methodist, go to the middle heaven. The top heaven called the Celestial Kingdom is reserved for Latter-day Saints only, and the highest of that kingdom, the third Degree, is reserved only for married Mormons who both the husband and wife were both obedient to the gospel. That is the Celestial Kingdom. That is the bridge, that is the gateway, to becoming a god yourself.
Dr. Reagan: And the highest level would be for those who were Temple Mormons?
James Walker: Yes, it requires you–either that, or there’s a loop hole, that if for some reason you weren’t able to do the Temple ceremonies, they can be done again for the dead, and so living Mormons can go through not just the baptism but also all the Temple rituals for and on behalf of dead people.
Dr. Reagan: Well, when you get to that Temple level and you have that baptism at the Temple, are things revealed to you about Mormonism that you didn’t know before?
James Walker: Some. You do learn things in the Temple, or I would say you learn more in preparing to go into the Temple. The Temple preparation manuals is where the church is the most clear about becoming a god yourself, about our heavenly parents, that God and his wife were once human before they advanced to become gods. A lot of that you don’t get clearly at the regular Mormon Church service. You only get it as you’re preparing for this important step, Temple preparation manuals.
Dr. Reagan: We had Dr. Ron Carlson on this program one time and he was talking about going to the dedication of a Mormon Temple in the Philippines, and he said that he was standing out handing out brochures and one of the Temple elders came out and told him to leave and he said to this guy, can you explain something to me? Why is it you don’t have a cross on this Temple? He said the cross is offensive. The Bible says the cross is offensive to those who are lost.
James Walker: Yeah, you know, when I was a Mormon I was taught never to wear a cross, there’s never a cross on any Mormon Temple, any Mormon church building, the saying I was told as a Latter-day Saint was if your brother was killed with a knife, would you want to wear a knife around your neck? Would you want to put a knife up on your church? And I’ve heard it said many times the cross is a symbol, its just foolishness, of course the Bible does say the preaching of the cross is to them that are perishing foolishness. And what I didn’t understand the whole time I was a Latter-day Saint, Dave, is that cross is the crux, that is the focus of the entire atonement, and what Christ did on the cross, not what he did at the Garden of Gethsemane, as the Latter-day Saints believe, but what He did on the cross, there is my salvation.
Dr. Reagan: Unfortunately, our time is up, boy it went too fast. James, tell people how they can get in touch with your ministry.
James Walker: The best way is our website: www.watchman.org. We have hundreds of free articles and documentation on what we’ve been talking about today. At watchman.org.
Dr. Reagan: And we only have about 40 seconds left, could you speak to any Mormon who’s watching this program right now?
James Walker: Yes, I’d love to. If you’re watching and you’re a Latter-day Saint, let me say as you are now, I once was. And as I am, you may become. I wanted to share with you that there’s a personal relationship with Christ, that is by grace through faith alone. The real Jesus of the Bible. And I would invite you to trust that Jesus and Him alone, not obedience to laws and ordinances, but what Christ did for you on the cross, there is your salvation. I invite you to take that step right now.
Dr. Reagan: Thank you, James. Well folks, that’s it for this week, I hope the program has been a blessing to you, until next week, the Lord willing, this is Dave Reagan speaking for Lamb and Lion Ministries saying look up, be watchful, for our redemption is drawing near!
End of Program