When I was recently in Salt Lake City, I had the opportunity, on a few occasions, to sit with members of the LDS Church and talk at length about our differences in belief. They had invited me into their homes because they wanted to understand why we had come to Salt Lake City to witness to Mormons. They wondered why we were doing that since they felt we were all Christians and all believed in Jesus.
I explained our concern for their eternal destiny based on the Bible’s clear statement that adding anything to Jesus’ work to save us effectively nullifies that work (see, for example, Romans 11:6). I also told them that, although I realized that they didn’t like to hear it, the Jesus of Mormonism is very different from the Jesus of the Bible. One of the many examples I cited was that Mormonism teaches that Jesus is not to be prayed to. Most didn’t understand my difficulty with that as they responded with the idea that they highly honor Jesus by praying in his name.
I thought of those conversations last week when I was reviewing a LDS manual used to prepare missionaries and came across the quote that follows. It is from Elder L. Lionel Kindrick, who served as a General Authority. Talking about the importance of prayer, he commented: “We always pray to our Father in Heaven and to him alone. Our prayers are rendered in the name of the Son and communicated by the power of the Holy Ghost. We do not pray to the Savior or to anyone else. To do so would be disrespectful of Heavenly Father and an indication that we do not properly understand the relationship of the members of the Godhead.” (Missionary Preparation Student Manual, p. 40)
That clearly illustrates not only that Mormonism teaches that Jesus should not be prayed to but also how Mormonism, in many different ways, is disrespectful of Jesus. It clearly does not give him equal honor with the Father. But that is the type of honor Jesus deserves as he himself said: “That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father.” (John 5:23) Both the words “even as” and the context clearly indicate that Jesus is talking about being honored with the same honor we render God the Father. And then Jesus continues with this sobering statement: “He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him.” If you don’t give Jesus equal honor, you aren’t honoring the Father either.
Mormonism, on the basis of its own words, falls under this condemnation. The Father is not disrespected when we pray to Jesus. On the contrary, that is something he delights in. Rather he is disrespected when people think they shouldn’t pray to Jesus. That is a teaching that angers him.
On so many levels, Mormonism and biblical Christianity clash. But, as we again experienced in Salt Lake City, many people don’t like to admit that. It would be a step forward for all involved to see this and acknowledge this. Then it would be easier to have frank and serious discussions. And having such discussions are important because nothing less than eternal souls are at stake.