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Differences Between Mormonism and Christianity

  Mormonism Christianity
What is the Church?

The LDS Church is the only true church.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only true church (Doctrine and Covenants [D&C] 1:30); all other churches (Presbyterians, Baptists, and Methodists are specifically mentioned in Joseph Smith, History 1:9, Pearl of Great Price) are "wrong," "all their creeds were an abomination," and "those professors were all corrupt" (Joseph Smith, History 1:19). Those of creedal or traditional Christianity have adopted "pagan beliefs" and are part of "false Christianity" (Gospel Principles, 100 [1979 edition]). One either belongs to "the church of the Lamb of God" or to "the church of the devil" (1 Nephi 14:10). Joseph Smith taught that everybody but faithful Mormons will be damned (History of the Church 3:28). "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is absolutely indispensable to our salvation. No supposed personal relationship with Jesus, no commitment to the gospel, no high level of Christian conduct in society can compensate for what is to be found in the Church" (Robert Millet, Alive in Christ: The Miracle of Spiritual Rebirth [Salt Lake City: Deseret, 1997], 140).  

The Church is a body of various believers and groups of believers.

The one true Church is the universal Body of Christ in heaven and on earth made up of all those true believers from various local denominations or churches. The body is an organism, not an external organization. Unity in this body does not demand complete uniformity in its various manifestations. God loves diversity. Yet the Church's unity is in Christ, who is the vine. People in various denominations who are committed to the Vine are the branches; no one particular manifestation of the Church is the vine (Matthew 16:18; 15:5; Acts 15:35-41; 20:28; 1 Corinthians 11:19; 12:13ff.; and Ephesians 4:1-13).

What happens after death?

Individuals go to more places than either with Christ or with the devil and his angels.

Depending on how good non-LDS members are in this life and the next determines their place in one of two lower heavenly kingdoms or "degrees of glory"--the telestial and terrestrial kingdoms--both of which are still outside the presence of God in His celestial kingdom (D&C 76). Both of these lower kingdoms are an eternal damnation of sorts, since, as certain General Authorities have taught, there is no progression among all the kingdoms throughout eternity (Apostle Bruce McConkie, The Seven Deadly Heresies, Spencer W. Kimball, The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, 50, and Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation 2:31). The worst eternal damnation is a separate place called "outer darkness" where only apostates reside with the Devil and his angels. The Book of Mormon teaches that if an individual doesn't repent in "this life," then one is sealed to the devil and "this is the final state of the wicked" (Alma 34:32-5). For LDS, this passage typically means that individuals who willfully deny Christ and His Church after given an opportunity to be a part of it end up forever excluded from the presence of God in His kingdom. McConkie said that only those who never had the opportunity in this life to be part of God's celestial kingdom, and who would have received it, are the ones who will have that opportunity in the next life (The Seven Deadly Heresies, cf. D&C 137:7-8). Nonetheless, all children who die before the age of accountability go to the celestial kingdom (D&C 137:10). Prior to the final judgment, all individuals go to one of two places: paradise or spirit prison. LDS go to the former and non-LDS go to the latter. LDS will go and preach to those in spirit prison (Alma 40:12-4 and D&C 138:30). Within the celestial kingdom, there are also three degrees of glory. The highest is reserved for those who are sealed in marriage for time and all eternity (D&C 131:1-4). McConkie was also clear that simply having this celestial marriage is no guarantee of exaltation (The Seven Deadly Heresies). Finally, there are angels who worship before the throne of God, who never received a celestial marriage and are thus single (D&C 76:21 and 132:15-17).  

Individuals go to be either with Christ or with the devil and his angels.

Those who are part of the body of Christ should know they have eternal life (1 John 5:10-13). They are in Christ's and the Father's hand, and no one can pluck them out of it (Jn. 10:27-30). Christ went to prepare a place for them in His Father's house, but until then the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit take up residency in their lives (Jn. 14:1-3, 23-6). For believers, to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord (2 Cor. 5:6; and Philippians 1:21-5). The Bible is clear that paradise is the third heaven--the dwelling of God (2 Cor. 12:1-4). The first heaven is the earthly atmosphere (Acts 14:17) and the second heaven is outer space (Jeremiah 8:2). At the judgment, there are those who go with the devil and his angels, and there are those who go to life eternal (Mat. 25:31-46).

What is divine salvation?

Divine salvation is unconditional for resurrection and conditional for eternal life.

In one sense, salvation is universal immortality and resurrection by grace alone, and is given to everyone except apostates. In another sense, salvation is eternal life or exaltation into the highest kingdom. The latter is dependent on grace through faith and one's works (2 Ne. 25:23; D&C 76:40-4; and Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 669-71, and 746).

Divine salvation is always conditional.

Divine salvation is always from sin and its consequence of separation from God. This salvation is always conditioned upon faith. Until this occurs, God considers the individual dead. When this salvation occurs, one has eternal life (Jn. 5:24; Romans 5; Eph. 2:1-10; and 1 Jn. 5:10-3).

Where is the cross?

The symbol of the cross is absent.

Since the Savior lives, LDS focus on his life rather than his death. Though He suffered for our sins on the cross, the greater pain was in the Garden of Gethsemane where the atonement was initiated. The emblem of the cross is not to be revered, and its display is "very strange" (Gordon B. Hinckley, "The Symbol of Our Faith," Ensign, Apr 2005, 2-6; McConkie, "The Purifying Power of Gethsemane," Ensign [May 1985], 9; Mormon Doctrine, 172 and 555; The Promised Messiah, 337 and 552; The Mortal Messiah, 127-128; Joseph Fielding Smith, Answers to Gospel Questions, 4:15-8; "Cross" and "Atonement of Christ," LDS.org).

The symbol of the cross is central.

Simply because Jesus lives forevermore is no reason to minimize the means by which He paid for our sins. The Bible never teaches that the atonement began in the garden. Rather, it teaches that the atonement happened on the cross (1 Peter 2:24). The cross is foolishness to the perishing, but the power of God to them being saved (1 Cor. 1:18). There is nothing else that deserves boasting except the cross of Christ (Galatians 6:14). The cross symbolizes a way His followers are to live (Luke 9:23). Even the first century Christians used the symbol of the cross as archeology has revealed.

Did Christ die for all sins?

Christ did not die for all sins.

Christ did not atone for the murderer, since there is no forgiveness for him "in this world, nor in the world to come." Christ also did not pay for more than a one-time offense of adultery, since such violators cannot be forgiven either (D&C 42:18 and 25-9). Actually, according to one apostle, Christ atoned simply for Adam's sin, and left "us responsible only for our own sins." This apostle goes on to quote the 2nd Article of Faith that claims "men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam's transgression" (Le Grand Richards, A Marvelous Work and a Wonder [1976], 98). Other LDS prophets have taught that there are certain "sins" that one may commit that are beyond the atonement of the Son of God, and one's own blood must be shed in such cases (Brigham Young, The Journal of Discourses 3:247; 4:53-4; 4:219-220; and Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation 1:133-6).

Christ did die for all sins.

Christ atoned for all sins (Adam's as well as everyone else's). The Lord Jesus took the punishment of everyone on the cross. The debt we could never pay has been completely paid by the Lamb of God, and to those who receive this gift, they are declared "justified" or "not guilty." This is the good news (the gospel) for everyone, including the adulterer and the murderer (2 Samuel 12:13; Isaiah 53:3-12; Mt. 18:21-2; Rom. 3:24; 4:5; 5:1-2; 1 Cor. 6:9-11; 15:3; 2 Cor. 5:14-21; 1 Pt. 2:24; and 1 Jn. 1:8-2:2).

What role do good works play with our standing before God?

Good works are meritorious for right standing before God after all one can do.

Good works are a necessary requirement of salvation and right standing before God (1 Ne. 3:7; 2 Ne. 25:23; Alma 5:27-8; 11:37; 34:33-5; Moroni 10:32; D&C 1:24-33; 25:15-6; 42:18-29; 58:34-43; 82:5-7; 3rd Article of Faith; Gospel Principles, 74-8 [1997 edition]; and 122-7).

Good works are not meritorious for right standing before God after all one can do.

Salvation is a free gift that must be received through faith, not of works, since no one is good enough to earn it from an all-holy Judge. If this is genuine faith, then it is automatically demonstrated by the overall good life produced by it (Ibid.; Rom. 3:23-28; 4:5; 11:6; Gal. 3:11, 23-6, and 5:6; Eph. 2:8-10; 1 Jn. 5:10-3; and James 2:14-26, NAS).

What is the New and Everlasting Covenant?

The New and Everlasting Covenant is the fullness of the gospel of Jesus with all its external laws and ordinances.

Even though the covenant is popularly known as temple marriage (Spencer W. Kimball, “First Presidency Message Temples and Eternal Marriage,” Ensign, Aug 1974), it is "[t]he fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ (D&C 66:2). It is new every time it is revealed anew following a period of apostasy. It is everlasting in the sense that it is God’s covenant and has been enjoyed in every gospel dispensation where people have been willing to receive it” (“New and Everlasting Covenant,” The Guide to the Scriptures). It incorporates all the external laws that must be kept in order to gain salvation and exaltation. As such, “The temple ordinances become the crowning blessings the Church has to offer” (Gordon B. Hinckley, "New Temples to Provide 'Crowning Blessings' of the Gospel," General Conference, 1998). The Old Covenant was given through the prophets prior to Christ, but has had “plain and precious truths” taken from it. As such, the New and Everlasting Covenant was long before the law of Moses (“Old Testament,” The Guide to the Scriptures; “New and Everlasting Covenant” and “Old Testament,” Encyclopedia of Mormonism; Gib Kocherhans, “Reflections on the Law of Moses: Old Testament Apostasy in Context,” Ensign, June 1981; and "Set Your Sights," New Era Poster, May 2002).

The New and Everlasting Covenant is being completely forgiven through Jesus' blood without submission to external law. Rather, this covenant is based on an internal relationship, namely, the love of Jesus and His presence in one's life.

It is a series of divine promises regarding the forgiveness of sins through the sufficient and worthy blood of the Lamb of God. The covenant is accepted simply through faith which expresses itself through love, not of obedience to an external law of stone as was the case through the Old Covenant. This Old Covenant was good in that it informed us of the difference between right and wrong, but it could never justify us, since we all fall short of keeping it; we are all guilty. As such, the point was to drive us to Christ for mercy. The New Covenant naturally desires to please the One who is loved. The Old Covenant was the first covenant, and the prophesied New Covenant was second and final one. It was not a restoration of the Old Covenant, but a new arrangement of fulfilling it and replacing the law of Moses (Gen. 22:18; Isa. 55:3; Jer. 31:31-34; Mat. 5:17; 26:28; Lk. 24:44-47; Acts 13:32-39; Rom. 3:10-23; 8:9-11; Gal. 3:16-29; 5:6; Eph. 2:8-10; Col. 2:10Heb. 8-10:22; and "Looking Unto Jesus").

Can marriage be eternal? 

Marriage may be eternal through the New and Everlasting Covenant.

Marriage may be sealed for "time and all eternity" for those who are worthy enough to go through the temple. This is so families may be populated in other worlds. This sealing is provisional on individuals continuing to live worthy and keeping all their covenants (Spencer W. Kimball, "First Presidency Message Temples and Eternal Marriage," Ensign, Aug 1974; The Latter-day Saint Woman: Basic Manual for Women, Part A, Lesson 10: Eternal Marriage; and D&C 132).

Marriage is only until death.

Even though husbands and wives may continue to be together in the after-life, they no longer function as husband and wife, since the Bible has never taught eternal marriages and our Lord expressly taught that marriage was only for this life. If there were eternal marriages, then He could have very easily answered whom of the seven brothers was going to be married to the woman in the after-life. Further, the Bible never teaches that temples were used for marriages anyway. Their purpose was already clearly defined in the law of Moses (Mat. 22:23-30 [cf. D&C 132:17]; and Rom. 7:2-3).    

Baptism for the dead?

Baptism for the dead is required.

Baptism in place of the dead is an essential ordinance done in LDS temples on behalf of those who died not receiving the benefit of LDS baptism (Gospel Principles, 255-62 [1997 edition]). Joseph Smith said, "The greatest responsibility in this world that God has laid upon us is to seek after our dead" (Fielding Smith, The Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 356 [pre-2002 edition]).

Baptism for the dead is not required.

The only biblical passage that mentions baptism for the dead was most likely done by those outside of Christianity, since the Apostle Paul made a contrast between what "they" do and what "we" do. Paul said that even those who do baptism for the dead believe in the resurrection. How much more should we, who do not baptize for the dead and are led by apostles who were eyewitnesses of Christ's resurrection, believe in the resurrection (1 Cor. 15:29-30). Even if some of the Corinthians were performing baptisms for the dead, there is no reason to think the practice was understood to be a means of salvation. Further, even though baptism is normal and a believer should be baptized, it is not essential for salvation (e.g., Acts 10:44-8). Finally, there is no second chance for salvation to those who reject it in this life (Lk. 16:19-31; and Hebrews 9:27).  

Are there other Gods?

There are many Gods for other worlds, and each God is equal to the God of this world in terms of His nature.

There are many gods who create and rule over other worlds, and on those worlds, worship excludes the God of our world. So there is only one God for us, and this God is typically referred to as the Heavenly Father. Mormons may also speak of the term "God" in reference to "the Godhead," which is a team of separate Gods (McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 576-7; Joseph Fielding Smith, ed., The Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 346-7 [pre-2002 edition]; Abraham 4:1, Pearl of Great Price; Gospel Principles, 245 [1997 edition], and 302; "God," LDS Bible Dictionary; and Blake Ostler, "Review of The Mormon Concept of God: A Philosophical Analysis by Francis J. Beckwith and Stephen E. Parrish," FARMS Review of Books [Provo, UT: FARMS, 1996], 99-146).

There is only one God for all worlds.

There is only one God who created and rules over everything in existence. LDS simply devalue and weaken God when they think that He did not create something like some other world (Genesis 1:1; Deuteronomy 4:39; 10:14; Nehemiah 9:6; Psalm 96:5; Isa. 40:12-26; 43:10; 44:6, 8, and 24; Jn. 1:1-3; and 17:3).

The Trinity?

The Trinity means three separate Gods, who are one in their nature and become one in purpose.

The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three separate gods, who are one in purpose and nature, but not in a being they share eternally (Ibid; Fielding Smith, The Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 372 [pre-2002 edition]). There was a time when the person of the Father (Elohim) was without the person of the Son (Jehovah) as His Son. Thus, there was a time in which Elohim was not the Father.

The Trinity means three inseparable Persons, who are eternally God in purpose, nature, and being.

The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three distinct or different persons, who are eternally and inseparably one in purpose, nature, and being (Ibid.; Isa. 48:12-7; Mt. 3:16; 4:10; and 28:16-20). So the Father is not the same person as the Son, and the Son is not the same person as the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit is not the same person as the Father, but nonetheless, each Person eternally makes up the only Being of God there is.

Are humans and God the same nature or species?

Humans and God are of the same nature or species.

The nature of these gods is identical to the nature of man, and as such, these humans had to become gods; they haven't always been gods (Fielding Smith, The Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 345 [pre-2002 edition]; Thomas C. Romney, The Life of Lorenzo Snow, 46; D&C 76:23-4; and Abraham 3:18-28).

Humans and God are not of the same nature or species.

God has His own unique nature that man, a created being by definition and not the originator of literally everything else, cannot ever have. God is God by nature, and not by obtainment (Numbers 23:19-20; Ps. 90:2; Ezekiel 28:2 and 9; Hosea 11:9; Acts 14:15; Gal. 4:8; and 2 Pt. 1:3-4).

Does God in His nature have flesh and bones?

God is an exalted man with flesh and bones.

God the Father and Jesus Christ have tangible bodies of flesh and bones, but the Holy Ghost is a personage of spirit. Personages of spirit are still material with a certain form or shape, but they are not as tangible as the bodies of those who are sent to a mortal planet (Ibid.; D&C 130:22; 131:7-8; and "Spirit" in the LDS Bible Dictionary).

God is not an exalted man with flesh and bones.

Since He is the Creator of all things outside of Himself (e.g., the entire material universe), God is not limited to a body. He created matter, and does not need a body or anything else to operate anywhere in all of creation. He is all powerful, and as such, He can take any type of form or nature to show up any way He wants to (1 Kings 8:27; Jer. 23:24; Luke 3:22; and Jn. 4:21-4).

Can humans become Gods for other worlds as God is God for this world?

Humans may become Gods for other worlds as God is God for this world.

Worthy Mormons may become gods to create, rule over and receive worship from their own worlds some day. They will do this exclusively as the god or the team of gods for that world or that set of worlds (like the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are for this world or this set of worlds), and thus the God of this world will not perform those functions there (Ibid; D&C 76:50-8 and 95, 132:15-23, 29, and 37; The Latter-day Saint Woman: Basic Manual for Women, Part A, Lesson 10: Eternal Marriage; and Gospel Principles, 302 [1997 edition]).

Humans cannot become Gods for other worlds as God is God for all worlds.

When all believers become what some Christians such as C. S. Lewis call "gods" in heaven (although the Bible never uses this language of glorified individuals), they are still dependent and human "gods," and not God by nature, who alone is eternally the Author and Sustainer of literally all that is outside Himself. He is the only God in this fundamental sense of the term (Ibid.; and Lewis, Mere Christianity [N.Y.: Macmillan, 1952], vi, 160, 172).

Was the God of this world once a man who became God?

The God of this world was once a man who became God.

God is an exalted man, who needed to do certain things in order to become God for this world (Ibid.; and James Talmage, Articles of Faith, 430).

The God of this world is the God for all worlds, so He never was a man who had to become God.

God has always been God, and thus is not so needy (Ibid.).

Does the Father have a Father?

The Heavenly Father has a Heavenly Father before Him.

God the Father has a Father whom He followed as Jesus had followed His Father in order to become a god (Fielding Smith, The Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 373 [pre-2002 edition]).

There was no Heavenly Father before the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

There is no other God before God. He is not so weak that He needed to serve and receive counsel from some other God in order to become God; He always was God (Ps. 90:2; Isa. 40:12-26; 43:10; and Rom. 11:33-6).

Does God need a wife to become God?

God needs a wife to become God.

God the Father has at least one wife that He needed in order to become exalted to Godhood, and by at least one wife we on this world were all literally born as spirit children prior to taking on our tangible bodies of flesh and bones via our mortal parents (McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 516-7; Young, The Journal of Discourses 1:50; Gospel Principles, 15 [1997 edition]; and the popular hymn "O My Father").

God does not need a wife to become God.

Since God is not a man by nature it is impossible for Him as the eternal God to even enter into a human marital relationship that He would need to become God and sexually produce us. It is just as impossible for God to lie. He does not need anything, let alone a wife, to become God. If it were even possible for the Father to strive to exaltation, then we would expect God's courtship and marriage to be a perfect one in which He received counsel from the other partner(s). But what kind of God would this be? As the All Perfect Being by nature, it is also impossible for God to receive any counsel (Ibid; 1 Kings 8:27; and Heb. 6:18).

Did humans exist prior to this earthly life?

Humans existed prior to this earthly life.

Humans were all born to heavenly parents in the celestial kingdom prior to this earthly life (Abraham 3:22–26).

Humans did not exist prior to this earthly life.

With the exception of Jesus, humans are not from heaven or from above, but from the earth or below, and have never seen the Heavenly Father (Jn. 3:31-2; 6:38-46; and 8:23).  

Is there anything that the Father did not create?

There are things that the Father did not create.

Thus God the Father did not create the planet that His Father had already created. No God for any world created all worlds. No God for any world created intelligence, matter, or the laws that govern them. These are eternal. Any person, including a God for any world, eternally existed as intelligence, and not as God (Fielding Smith, The Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 373 [pre-2002 edition]; D&C 93:29-35; 131:7-8; and Abraham 3:18-28).

There is nothing that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit did not create.

There is only one Being who created and rules over everything in existence. LDS simply devalue and weaken God when they think that He did not create something like some other world (Gen. 1:1; Deut. 4:39; Isa. 40:12-26; 43:10; 44:6, 8, and 24; Jn. 1:1-3; Acts 17:24-8; and 1 Cor. 8:6).

Is there anything that the Son did not create?

There are things that the Son did not create.

Jesus being the literal son of exalted human gods obviously did not create all things either. For example, He did not create the planet He was born on as a spirit child (Ibid.; Gospel Principles, 17-20 [1997 edition]; and 27-9).

There is nothing that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit did not create.

Prior to becoming man, Jesus existed as "the only begotten God" (Jn. 1:18, New American Standard [NAS] and in the best Greek manuscripts). As such, He created everything that was ever created from the very beginning (Jn. 1:1-3, 14 and 1 Cor. 8:6). When LDS relativize His creation to only concerning the things of this world or this set of worlds--i.e., not literally all worlds, this devalues and cheapens Jesus, who has not only the nature of man (1 Timothy 2:5), but also the nature of "God over all blessed forever" (Rom. 9:5, emphasis added).

Are Jesus and Lucifer spirit-brothers?

Jesus and Lucifer are spirit-brothers.

Jesus was the first one born of heavenly parents, and Lucifer was a younger sibling. Jesus is referred to as Lucifer's, as well as our, elder brother in the pre-earth life. They are both sons of God (Ibid.; Milton R. Hunter, The Gospel through the Ages, 15; Gospel Principles, 15 [2009 edition]; Abraham 3:22-8 with Moses 4:1-4; The Pearl of Great Price Student Manual/The Book of Moses 1:12-22 (2000); and Jess L. Christensen, “I Have a Question,” Ensign, 25-6 [June 1986]).

Jesus created Lucifer.

For LDS to think that Christ is simply our and Lucifer's elder brother in some supposed pre-earth life is blasphemous devaluing of Christ's divine nature. Christ may rightly be referred to as a brother in our humanity, but in addition to that, He is our Creator... and not simply of our bodies (Ibid.; Colossians 1:13-8; Heb. 1:2 and 6-14; and 2:6-18).

Has Jesus always been God?

Jesus has not always been God.

Jesus, like all other gods before Him, had to become a God. He is the literal Son of God like we are children of God, but He's without sin (Fielding Smith, The Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 346-7 [pre-2002 edition]).

Jesus has always been God.

Jesus has always been the only God there is along with the Father and Holy Ghost (Ibid; Isa. 43:10; Mt. 28:19; Jn. 1:1-3 and 14; and 8:56-9).

Should the Son receive the same worship as the Father?

The Son should not receive the same worship as the Father.

Jesus is not worshipped equally with the Father, since Jesus is not our begetter. Jesus is not even directly prayed to. Prayer is directed only to the Father in the name of Jesus (Gospel Principles, 41 [1997 edition]; McConkie, BYU Devotional [March 2, 1982], 17, 19, and 20).

The Son should receive the same worship as the Father.

Since Jesus is God by nature, He is worshipped equally with the Father. Jesus receives both worship and prayer, and we are commanded to do so (Mt. 4:10; 28:16-20; Jn. 5:18-23; 14:14, NAS and in the best Greek manuscripts; Acts 7:59; 1 Cor. 1:2; and 1 Jn. 5:13-5).

Was Jesus born of a virgin?

Jesus may not have been born of a virgin.

Even though Mormons are usually quick to say they don't know how the conception of Jesus took place and allow for the possibility of something like artificial insemination, they all claim that Jesus had the Heavenly Father and Mary as parents. Mormon general authorities on the other hand have claimed that the conception of Jesus was perfectly natural despite the Book of Mormon teaching that Mary was a virgin when Jesus was born (1 Ne. 11:18-21; Alma 7:10; The Complete Discourses of Brigham Young 1:321; Young, The Journal of Discourses 1:50-1; 8:115; Heber C. Kimball, 211; Orson Pratt, The Seer, 158-9; Family Home Evening Manual [1972], 126; and McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 546-7, and 742-3).

Jesus was born of a virgin.

Just because Jesus was eternally the Son of the Father does not entail that Jesus was not the Son of the Holy Ghost when He was born of Mary. The act of conception was of the Holy Ghost, and not of a man. Mary was with child and still a virgin (Mt. 1:18-25; and Lk. 1:26-35).

Who is the Holy Ghost?

The Holy Ghost is a man and son of God.

"The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches that the Holy Ghost is a spirit man, a spirit son of God the Father. It is fundamental Church doctrine that God is the Father of the spirits of all men and women, that Jesus is literally God's Son both in the spirit and in the flesh, and that the Holy Ghost is a personage of spirit separate and distinct from both the Father and the Son. The Holy Ghost is the third member of the Eternal Godhead, and is identified also as the Holy Spirit, Spirit of God, Spirit of the Lord, and the comforter" (Encyclopedia of Mormonism 2:649; cf. D&C 130:22-3; "Holy Ghost" in the LDS Bible Dictionary). The gift of the Holy Ghost is only given to those who have been baptized and are confirmed by the laying on of hands (Gospel Principles, 132 [1979 edition]).

The Holy Ghost is God by nature.

Since the Holy Ghost is the inseparable third person of the only Being of God there is, He is not a man by nature that became exalted into a separate god for a Godhead team (2 Samuel 23:2-3; Mt. 28:19; Acts 5:3-4; and 13:2). Gentiles clearly received the gift of the Holy Ghost prior to being baptized. They simply believed and spoke in tongues without the laying on of hands (Acts 10:44-8).

Racism?

God curses certain individuals with dark skin.

The races are determined by how worthy individuals were prior to this mortal life. Blacks were not as faithful in their first estate (Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation 1:61-7; McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 527-8; 1st Presidency Statement, August 17, 1949). The Book of Mormon teaches white superiority. Here God cursed certain Israelite American Indians with dark skin, and this was meant to keep them from interbreeding with their white brethren. This scripture also teaches that God blessed some who repented with white skin (Alma 3:6-9; 1 Ne. 12:23; 2 Ne. 5:21-4; Jacob 3:8; and 3 Ne. 2:14-6). The Book of Moses in the Pearl of Great Price teaches that the curse of Cain was a seed of blackness. This seed was excluded from Zion, the future abode of God (Moses 7:8, 21 and 22). Nothing concerning the LDS "revelation" in 1978 to give "all worthy males members" the priesthood invalidates these beliefs.

God does not curse anyone with dark skin.

God blesses humanity with different colors of skin, and no skin color is more favorable to Him than another. Race is not the real issue anyway, for we are all one in Christ (Gal. 3:28). "God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him" (Acts 10:34-5). Since this is true, there was no good reason to exclude blacks from holding the priesthood until 1978. The mark of Cain was not a curse, but a blessing. It was for his good to protect him from anyone who wanted to kill him. Nothing is said about this mark being passed onto his descendants, nothing is said about it being a color of skin, and nothing is said about it barring him or his seed from Zion, the future abode of God (Gen. 4:15). Finally, dark skin is never changed into white upon repentance (Jer. 13:23).

Polygamy?

God approves of polygamy in the Old and New Testaments, but has temporarily suspended the practice.

Holy men were allowed to practice plural marriage in times past only upon the Lord's command (Fielding Smith, The Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 346-7 [pre-2002 edition]; and Jacob 2:27-30). These who kept this command, as well as other commands, became gods in the celestial kingdom (D&C 132). Brigham Young taught that the only ones who became gods are those who enter into polygamy (The Journal of Discourses 11:269). The early leaders of the LDS Church were all polyamists. Joseph Smith had 34 wives, 11 of whom were currently married to living husbands at the time he took them as wives (WivesOfJosephSmith.org; and FamilySearch.org). Even though the Salt Lake City based Mormon Church suspended the practice in 1890, the late General Authority Bruce McConkie said it would obviously "commence again after the Second Coming of the Son of Man" (Mormon Doctrine, 578). However, temple-worthy LDS widowers may still practice plural marriage today by getting sealed for "time and all eternity" to another temple-worthy woman who is not sealed to another. So it's still practiced today with only 1 living wife (e.g., LDS Apostles Russell M. Nelson, Dallin Oaks, and L. Tom Perry).

God always disapproves of polygamy even when He allowed it.

Simply because something is the case doesn't entail that it ought to be the case. So just because individuals were polygamists in the Bible doesn't entail that they should have been. People murdered in the Bible, but that doesn't justify murder. The ideal of the one-flesh unit was given from creation (Gen. 2:24), and there are various indications in the Old Testament against polygamy. Nonetheless, God may have at times accomodated Himself to a temporary, fallen Near Eastern social structure (Paul Copan, Is God a Moral Monster?: Making Sense of the Old Testament God [Grand Rapids: Baker, 2011], 58-62, and 110-7). Similar to Jesus' teaching on divorce, it was given due to the hardness of their hearts (Mat. 19:8). Regardless of justifying the Old Testament practice, the New Testament is clear that the church leaders, who we are called to emulate, are to be husbands of one wife (1 Tim. 3:2, 12; and Titus 1:5-6). We are still in the New Testament, and thus, there is no excuse for Mormon Church leaders entering into polygamy. Finally, Jesus taught that we won't be married in the afterlife anyway, but will be like the angels (Mat. 22:23-30).   

The Priesthood?

The Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthoods are offered to worthy male members.

There are two forms of the priesthood: the Aaronic (the lesser one) and the Melchizedek (the greater one). Without the authority of the priesthood no man can see God and live. It is available for all worthy male members of at least a certain age, who desire to act legally in the name of the Lord. This was extended to those males with black ancestry in 1978 (D&C, Official Declaration--2; 84:6ff.; and Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation 3:80).

The Aaronic priesthood was done away at the cross and the Melchizedek priesthood is unique to Christ.

The Aaronic priesthood was done away at the crucifixion of Christ, since He has become our permanent high priest. There is no more need for Levitical priests to offer imperfect sacrifices on behalf of the people in the temple. Jesus alone is worthy to hold the Melchizedek priesthood. Any believer today who has been called out of darkness into the light, regardless of age, race, or sex, is a member of the holy and royal priesthood. The believer operates in the highest authority that is offered today, viz., that of being a child of the Lord Omnipotent. Christians have the true priesthood, since they have the true God who gives it to them (Jn. 1:12; Gal. 3:26-9; 1 Tim. 2:5; Heb. 4:14; 5:9-10; 7:11-8:2; 9:24; 1 Pt. 2:5 and 9; and Rev. 1:6; 20:6).

The Bible?

The Bible is unreliable and incomplete for faith.

The Bible is the word of God only as it is translated correctly (8th Article of Faith). Evidently, it was not translated very well since Joseph Smith's translation (JST) is quite a bit different from all other versions (also cf. 1 Nephi 13:23-42 where the Bible is corrupted after the founding 12 apostles). Nonetheless, LDS use the King James Version. Joseph Smith taught that the Book of Mormon, not the Bible, "was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book" (Introduction to the Book of Mormon). In addition to the Bible and the Book of Mormon, LDS have two other books of Scripture--the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price. The Book of Mormon calls those "fools" who claim they have a Bible and "need no more Bible" (2 Nephi 29:3-14). Despite these claims that the Bible is unreliable and incomplete, Joseph Smith taught that only LDS believe the Bible and "all other sects believe their interpretations of the Bible, and their creeds" (History of the Church 3:28). Brigham Young also said that we were to use the Bible to see if the LDS Church stood the test (Journal of Discourses 16:46).

The Bible is reliable and complete for faith.

The Bible claims to be the word of God, and the Bible--including Jesus--promised that it would be faithfully preserved. The general consistency of the Septuagint, the Dead Sea Scrolls, the thousands of other ancient manuscripts, lectionaries, and citations from early Church Fathers all attest to this fact. The Bible is by far the best attested work of antiquity. The Bible is archeologically, historically, prophetically, and scientifically accurate. And since the Bible contradicts all the other scriptures of the LDS Church, including Joseph Smith's translation, they should all be damned (Ps. 12:6-7; Proverbs 30:6; Isa. 40:7-8; Mt. 5:17-9; 24:35; Jn. 10:35; 17:17; and Gal. 1:6-9).

 
For more detail, see Seven Differences between Mormonism and Christianity.
For answers to LDS critiques that support their faith, see our Frequently Asked Questions page.