Mormonism: The Christian View
Wesley P. Walters and M. Kurt Gordelman wrote Mormonism: The Christian View, and Walters narrated it. It is distributed by Personal Freedom Outreach, and was filmed during the LDS leadership period of President Ezra Taft Benson when the Church was only 5 million strong (though the film was updated at the end with current literature that critiques Mormonism). The film is 45 minutes, and is like watching an audio slide show. It is broken up into 7 sections: History, Doctrines, Authority, False Prophecies, Changes, Missionary Methods, and Suggestions for Witnessing.
This film would be better entitled Mormonism: "A" Christian View, since not all Christians who are against Mormonism would uniformly argue in the way that this film does. This isn't to say it was a bad film, but I for one just did not like some of the arguments. For starters, one needs to be careful in stating what LDS in general believe. Not all LDS hold that the Heavenly Father and the Virgin Mary sexually produced the physical nature of Jesus. Some, like Robert Millet of BYU, have plainly stated (in The Mormon Puzzle, e.g.) that they don't know how the Heavenly Father "sired" Jesus' physical nature in Mary. I have had other Mormons tell me that it could have happened via something like artificial insemination. Similarly, simply because Bruce McConkie clearly distinguished the Holy Ghost from the Holy Spirit in a LDS non-canonical work (Mormon Doctrine) is no reason to think that this is what all LDS believe (cf. "Holy Ghost" in the LDS Bible Dictionary).
I also wasn't very impressed with some of the alleged false prophecies, or at least the way they were represented. Take for example the one concerning Oliver Granger. (The film said that it was from D&C 118, but it was actually section 117.) The passage said that the Lord remembers Granger, and the Lord says that Granger's name would be "had in sacred remembrance from generation to generation, forever and ever" (vs. 12). The film assumes this is a false prophecy, since hardly anyone, including LDS for that matter, recognize Granger's name. But why not assume that the remembrance here is not referring to everyone else, but specifically to the Lord Himself? In other words, why not think of this as the Lord continually holding Granger in a special place in His thoughts?
I also had problems with some of the alleged changes from early Mormonism to modern Mormonism. Mosiah 3:5 is cited as one such change in theology. Here this Book of Mormon passage says, "Lord Omnipotent who reigneth, who was, and is from all eternity to all eternity". The film claims that this passage is incompatible with the God that Joseph Smith later taught, viz. one who had to become a God. But the passage never says that God has always been God. Instead it simply says that this Person, who is now referred to as the Lord Omnipotent, has always been and always will be. This is quite an important distinction. According to LDS, it was later revealed that every human has always been as intelligence; but no human has always been God. And this includes the exalted Man who rules this world or set of worlds. This Mosiah passage may be understood as implying that God has always been God, but simply from this verse alone it is certainly not as open and shut a case as the film makes it out to be.
Other problems with arguments may be cited, but other things may be said in the film's favor. The film is still a nice introduction to laying out the history and basic beliefs of Mormonism in contrast to Christianity. I also thought the last section on Suggestions for Witnessing had a lot of good ideas to keep in mind.
To order Mormonism: The Christian View, click here.
R. M. Sivulka
Salt Lake City, UT
June 8, 2005