Tom welcomes back Dennis and Rauni Higley, former leaders in the Mormon Church, as they discuss the fascinating history of Mormonism, the man Joseph Smith, and why Christians are being deceived today to accept Mormonism as true Christianity.
Gary: Welcome to Search the Scriptures 24/7, a radio ministry of The Berean Call featuring T.A. McMahon. I’m Gary Carmichael. Thanks for tuning in. In today’s program, Tom continues his visit with the husband-and-wife team of Dennis and Rauni Higley to discuss their outreach ministry to Mormons. Now, along with his guests, here’s TBC executive director Tom McMahon.
Tom: Thanks, Gary! Today we’re continuing our conversation with Rauni and Dennis Higley, and, folks, if you missed part one, you just have to go there - even right away, because this isn’t on live radio. We have this archived, and we have it at places where you can check it out whenever you want to. But the reason I’m saying that is because both Dennis and Rauni gave us their testimony, and, well, Gary will tell you, I had…what? three words to say? I didn’t even want to interrupt myself to interrupt them. It was really - it demonstrated how God works in our lives even before we come to know Him. And it was just a tremendous testimony of God’s graciousness, of His mercy, how He orchestrates our lives. It was just wonderful.
So, again, Dennis, Rauni, welcome back!
Dennis: Thank you!
Rauni: Thank you!
Tom: Last week I mentioned that we, as The Berean Call, have known you guys…and Dave, before he went home to be with the Lord, he knew you guys for about a dozen years, and I can remember when we were putting together - I had the privilege of helping Dave with The Seduction of Christianity…one of the things we needed to deal with, and that we did deal with in the book, was the idea that we’re gods; we’re little gods. This was huge among the word-faith teachers, Frederick Price, Copeland, and so on. And I remember the conversation that Dave and I had (chuckling): “How can we explain what these guys are doing to the church when evangelicals, for the most part, they’re not even aware of the bizarre doctrine, the foundational doctrine, of Mormonism with regard to godhood?” Now, my question here is: Are evangelicals today still as clueless about the teachings of Mormonism with…especially with regard to godhood?
Rauni: I would say yes, most of them are clueless. We just came back from North Carolina, where we were in meetings with International Evangelism and Dr. Phil Roberts was there, and he was saying that it’s unfortunate that even though the evangelicals may hear about these things, but they just kind of…it just goes over their heads because the Mormons use Christian terms to explain Mormonism. So it’s just kind of like putting a veil over their minds that it’s got to be the same because they use the same words. So, they are - literally, they are clueless, most of them.
Tom: So, give us a basic…a brief but concise presentation of the fundamentals of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Dennis: Okay, on things…let’s start with God.
Dennis: The god of Mormonism is not the God of the Bible. Their God is a glorified, resurrected, exalted man. If you met him face to face, you could shake his hand and touch his body, and he’s just like one of us, but he progressed to godhood through his works and became a god. He lived on another world before he organized this world –because Mormons believe that matter always existed, and their god just took this matter and organized it into this world, and he became the god of it. And he peopled a pre-existent state with spirit children born to his multiple wives that he has, and then he peopled this earth with those spirit children.
Tom: Mm-hmm. Dennis, is he the only one?
Dennis: Oh, no, no! He’s one in a multitude of gods. He’s got a god above him and a god above that one and that one and that one, on back ad infinitum. It just goes on forever, that there’s always been all these multiple gods.
Tom: So this is polytheism, isn’t it?
Dennis: Absolutely, to the fullest extent of the definition!
Rauni: They believe in a chain of gods that reaches to eternity and then to this earth, and they believe that we as people, if we live according to the laws and rules and ordinances of the Mormon Church, we, too, can become gods and goddesses and start that over again, like the god of Mormonism has done. So we would have our own planet, we would populate it with our spirit children, and when that sphere is full, then we’d create…organize another world where we would send these spirit children to be born from a physical…in physical bodies from there…
Dennis: That was…as very devout Mormons, that was Rauni and my ultimate goal was to become a god and a goddess and go into the universe - be sent into our part of the universe - to start this whole scheme all over again. But we soon realized after we left that that wasn’t the case.
Tom: Mm-hmm. Now, Rauni said last week - you know, she was talking about the Book of Mormon --we’re going to get into more of this, but just on this note - The Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, Pearl of Great Price…but you don’t find any of these things that you’ve just said in the Book of Mormon, do you?
Rauni: No. The Book of Mormon is pretty much…Joseph Smith really had not invented Mormonism when he wrote the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon uses lots from the King James Bible. There’s even 17 full chapters from the Book of Isaiah alone in the Book of Mormon; the story of Alma, you can see it’s pretty much the story of Paul from the New Testament, even though the story of Alma was before Christ. When you’re looking at the Book of Mormon, each page, at the bottom of the page, gives the year when it supposedly was happening. So you can see that…well, it talks about Jesus Christ, it talks about Christians, nearly 600 [years] before Christ. Names them, talks about [how] the followers of Jesus were called Christians. We know from the Bible that they were the first time called “Christians” in Antioch about 64-65 AD. So the Book of Mormon really pretty much has Christian information that doesn’t fit [with] the BC –Before Christ - era. And there’s nothing…the Book of Mormon doesn’t teach that God was once a man and men will become Gods. It doesn’t teach Temple marriage. It doesn’t teach even work for the dead. Actually, it teaches against the work for the dead. All of those that are most important doctrines in Mormonism in my time and continuing, you don’t find them in the Book of Mormon at all.
Tom: Rauni, let me just interrupt here. So tell us about the man himself, historically - Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism. What sort of man was he?
Rauni: Well, he was…he came from a family that was very much involved in the occult. We have researched that clear back to even at least his grandparents and parents [who] were very much involved in occult and treasure hunting, treasure seeking, even though they read the Bible…at least his mother read the Bible, but often people that are in the occult, they use the Bible also. But anyway, so he grew up with “magic” ideas and that kind of stuff that is really quite openly known now that Joseph Smith was practicing the occult. And even after he started the church, he was still reading books on witchcraft and…
Tom: Didn’t he get into some trouble with the authorities there for his treasure hunting and duping people?
Rauni: Oh, yes. He was actually even arrested – that was before the Book of Mormon in 1826, four years before he came up with the Book Mormon. He was arrested for doing that kind of thing. He was putting a rock in a hat and telling the people where to go, and that he sees in his rock where they should go, and he charged money for it. And so, that was illegal to charge money for…
Tom: Now, Dennis, the reason I’m asking you guys this is because we know that background then played out, certainly, in supposedly finding the plates - the so-called Golden Plates - to translate the Book of Mormon.
Tom: Tell us about that.
Dennis: Yeah, see, with money digging and glass looking, the ultimate goal is all these riches, and his father and he and other family members always purported that there was lots of gold and silver and stuff buried in that area-- that the Spaniards had come and buried it there. So they were always seeking after these lost things, trying to find these hidden treasures, and it kind of started with …we know it started with that, but it kind of started to branch off when people started to believe in him. His mother suggested, “Well, why don’t we kind of go into a religious aspect?” and it turned into a religion through that, and then he came up with the idea of creating a book, writing a book about his imaginations that he had shared with his family. And that became the Book of Mormon, and then he had to come up with a scheme of how he found it, so that’s where the Gold Plates story came in, and it is so ludicrous that to look for Gold Plates and find them like that, and translate them, and then the angel takes them away. So it’s a really farfetched story that can’t even be believed.
Tom: Dennis, along that line - now, you straighten me out here - I heard that initially the religion that Joseph Smith came up with, and his family, it really took off because it wasn’t your basic Methodism, it wasn’t your basic Presbyterianism, it wasn’t your basic Baptist stuff. It was so different that it attracted people on that basis. Is that true?
Dennis: That’s correct. He was basing everything on these so-called revelations that he was receiving from “God.” And every one of these revelations were in total contradiction to the Bible. Even the Church admits that the people then were credulous; in other words, they were ready to believe anything that he told them. A lot of these people were not highly educated and just believed in anything he happened to say, and the more he lied to them, the more they believed, and the bigger it grew!
Rauni: It was a…when you follow [Mormonism] systematically from the beginning, you see that it was evolving doctrine--as he was putting out doctrines that nobody had ever heard before, especially about God and the progression. He started that after…several years after he had started the Mormon Church. And that’s one thing that we always need to point out to people, because most of today’s Mormons do not know that his doctrines evolved. He didn’t start with the doctrine that God was once a man and men will become Gods. He was…the Book of Mormon teaches that God is spirit. It’s kind of modalism in the Book of Mormonism - two modes of God, Father and Son, one person that acts as the Father or as the Son. And he was teaching that God himself is a spirit and only the Son has a body of flesh and bones, clear to the latter part of [the] 1830s. Even the Doctrine and Covenants that was published in 1835, five years after he had started the Mormon Church, he still said that God the Father is a spirit and only the Son has a body like a man does.
But after that, when you systematically follow what Joseph Smith is saying, we find that he started to move toward polytheism. In 1839 is the first statement that you find in today’s Doctrine and Covenants, that says that Joseph Smith said, “One day it will be revealed whether there are many gods.” And so he started that, but there are even Mormon scholars who have figured that out that he actually had run into a book by Thomas Dick called The Philosophy of the Future State that was published right around 1835, and that book teaches gods are progressing - throughout the universe there are progressive gods. So that’s obviously where Joseph Smith started to develop this idea, and he didn’t fully come up with God was once a man….
Tom: Let me take you both back to your testimonies of last week. Now - again, this is why I want our listeners to listen to that program. The research that you guys…as Mormons, working for the Mormon Church, high up in the Mormon Church, the research that you did…but then we have a statement by Joseph Smith, and I think it’s referring to the Book of Mormon, that it is the most correct book of any on earth.
Tom: Is that true?
Rauni: That is absolutely true.
Tom: Okay, so there you guys have…okay, if it’s the most correct, and you’re doing the work and the research that you’re doing, did it ever play out that way?
Rauni: Now, you know…
Tom: There were changes?
Rauni: That is where I ran into trouble as a translator. I was actually one year given an assignment to make sure that the Finnish Book of Mormon is translated correctly from the English. Of course, the English Book of Mormon cannot be tested whether it’s translated correctly, but I was to test the Finnish Book of Mormon against the English, and that’s how I started seeing that none of the Mormon doctrines are there, because I had to go verse by verse, comparing that, and I saw that if it’s the “most correct book,” it definitely doesn’t teach what the “most correct church” in the world now teaches.
Tom: Rauni, or Dennis, have there been any changes? I mean, if it’s the “most correct,” you’re not going to correct it. So what about changes?
Rauni: About 4,000…
Dennis: Yeah, there’s over…
Tom: How many?
Dennis: …about 4,000 changes in the Book of Mormon. So, you know, you would think that being translated directly from the Gold Plates, God would get everything exactly correct the first time around. But it’s gone through multiple changes, and they have changed doctrines inside the Book of Mormon; they’ve changed who the storyline is about, now, just recently, so it is not the most correct book on Earth by any means.
Tom: All right, I’m going to just hit on some elements, and you guys give me a brief response so we can get through a lot of these. I think we’ve got…oh, about ten minutes left in our program here. All right. Starting with…you mentioned it last week, Rauni, that you were told that the Book of Mormon was archaeologically true.
Tom: What’s the story there?
Rauni: Yes, I was told by the missionaries - and of course when I came here that was another disturbing thing to me to find out that it really isn’t about…the Mormon Church itself has never really made a claim…there are these people that are working for the Mormon Church and BYU and have made those statements. And actually, there was even a book during the time that I was being converted that missionaries carried around that had pictures from Mexico, from Guatemala, from many areas, where there was Mayan or Aztec ruins, and they were claiming that those were proofs of the Book of Mormon.
When I was in Finland, I didn’t know that, but then I came here and realized that these were totally different…you know, Mayans were human-sacrificing Pagans! It couldn’t fit to the Book of Mormon people that the Mormon Church claimed, that they were Hebrews…
Rauni: …that came from Israel, and they were God-fearing Hebrews. So anyway, there is no archaeological evidence, even though it’s implied throughout even the Mormon doctrine, [which] says that yes, there are archaeological evidences for the Book of Mormon….
Tom: Dennis, on the veracity…so-called veracity of the Book of Mormon, can’t it be challenged scientifically? I’m thinking about DNA, linguistics.
Dennis: Oh, absolutely, yeah. And there have been scientists that have checked it, and there’s…DNA-wise, none of the American Indians from Alaska to the southern tip of South America have any Hebrew DNA in them. And the more recent Indians, the ones that are still living, you can find a little bit of European mixed into them, because Europeans intermarried with them after the discovery of America, and so forth.
So, it is totally ludicrous to even think that the American Indians are related to Hebrews in any way.
Tom: Yeah, you know the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, historically, they’ve had some huge hurdles to jump. I’m thinking about…there was a split - we don’t have to get into this, but after Joseph Smith died, and now there was the family, and then there’s Brigham Young, there was a split there. And then we had polygamy, which kept them out of becoming a state in the United States for a while - they had to resolve that. Then we had the civil rights issue, where, well, first of all, blacks could not - their skin was “a curse,” according to Mormonism, so they couldn’t become…move up into the priesthood, but that got changed because of the Civil Rights movement…
Tom: Now we have a Mormonism…you’ve got Jimmy Carter [saying], “Oh, these people are just as Christian as we are.” Well, maybe as he is, but certainly not…that’s not true. They’re not biblical Christians by any stretch of the imagination.
Tom: So, but what about the attitude today? You know, we’ve had Romney and so on. Have they actually come mainstream or is it mainly just ignorance on the part of…
Dennis: It’s mainly ignorance. They have…they tried desperately through their advertising and promotions and everything, they’re trying to become a mainstream church. And they’ve even admitted it. Their…members of their First Quorum of the Seventy said that “we’re trying to become a member of the mainstream Christian community.” But they can use all the right words and the terms, but their doctrine defines what they believe, and it is not biblical doctrine.
Rauni: Yeah, it basically…the way we have been now teaching within the ministry for about 30 years, and the way we teach people and that has been bringing people out of Mormonism is that we start our lessons - we teach 12-week courses - we start our lessons with God of the Bible vs. God of Mormonism, and Jesus of the Bible vs. Jesus of Mormonism, because Mormonism teaches that Jesus is the eldest son of this heavenly Father and one of his wives in a pre-existence, and then he’s physically conceived Son of God with Mary…that this god came to Mary and physically conceived Jesus’s body, so that is a totally different Jesus. So you can’t be a Christian and believe in a different Jesus any more than …even Mormons would not admit that or say that Jehovah’s Witnesses are Christian because they believe that Jesus is Michael the Archangel when Mormons believe that Jesus is the brother of all mankind and brother of Lucifer.
Tom: Right. But they both believe that Jesus is a created god. (chuckling) So there you go!
Rauni: Yeah, so those are the things that…a lot of Christian people do not get it. That’s why we recommend and we print out the terminology differences in our paper and on our website. One of them is “Terminology Differences.” We explain what Mormons say God the Father is and what the Bible says He is. The same thing about Jesus - [What] Mormons say Jesus is and what the Bible says, and the same thing about salvation. We show them that the terms, even thought the words are the same and the terms are the same, they used a different dictionary. Mormons explain all the words totally differently, and many of the Christians leaders have never bothered to really check into it, and that’s why we have people saying Mormons are Christians. We hear that from evangelical leaders, that Mormons are at least close to being Christians. And so it’s really a lack of education…
Tom: You know, Rauni, we’re about out of time, but I just want to close with this. You guys have…at the time that this is going to be aired, you’re a couple weeks away from having a conference in Utah…
Tom: …but we also have materials here at The Berean Call. As I said, we’ve been working with you guys for years. And unless we can inform people about this, it’s just going…the delusion is going to grow and grow within the church, and I’m not talking about the Mormon Church. I’m talking about evangelical, or Bible-believing, churches. We’ve got to know this stuff if we’re going to minister, if we’re going to witness, and this is what you guys are about. I applaud you, both of you. I know it’s been by the grace of God, but it’s… you know, these two programs have been…terrific for me, personally. So I hope we can get the programs out to people so they can have a better idea of what’s going on and how to deal with it in the Lord.
Tom: So thank you, guys, for being with us!
Rauni: Thank you!
Dennis: Just one quick note: Christians, you have got to know your Bible so you don’t get deceived into believing Mormons are Christians!
Tom: Yeah, and that is the prevention, the antidote, to not only the errors of Mormonism but to the errors that have come into the church. Amen. I agree with you totally, Dennis.
Rauni: Yes, absolutely.
Tom: God bless you guys!
Dennis and Rauni: Thank you very much!
Gary: You’ve been listening to Search the Scriptures 24/7 featuring T.A. McMahon, a radio ministry of The Berean Call. We offer a wide variety of resources to help you in your study of God’s Word. For a complete list of materials and a free subscription to our monthly newsletter contact us at PO Box 7019 Bend, Oregon 97708. Call us at 800.937.6638. Or visit our website at the bereancall.org. I’m Gary Carmichael, we’re glad you could join us and we hope you can tune in again next week. Until then, we encourage you to Search the Scriptures 24/7.