The creation of Mormonism can be linked directly to Joseph Smith’s hatred of biblical Christianity. His loathing of Christ’s Church permeated his thinking and ultimately took on the following notions: 1) every Christian denomination had strayed from the truth and was therefore defiled; 2) the church’s clergymen were “wicked hirelings,” interested in ministering only for financial gain; 3) the Christianized social order of the day represented the resurrection of evil Babylon; and 4) the core beliefs of Christendom, that is to say its creeds, were an abomination. According to Smith, God spoke through him to condemn “those who do wickedly and build up kingdom of the devil …”
Disillusioned by the vast religious diversity he witnessed on the American frontier, Smith concluded that Christian sectarianism was intolerable. Ironically, he would attempt to restore Christianity by way of creating yet a new sect, one that he believed to be the true faith. Smith called his innovative religion, like so many other pious entrepreneurs had done before and after him, “the original christianity.”
Smith’s anti-Christian views quickly became an essential feature of Mormonism. He and his followers denounced all denominational forms of Christianity as satanic. And, until recently, Mormons prided themselves on being fundamentally different than the rest of the Christian world. Consider the following quotations from Smith’s two successors:
Brigham Young (Second LDS President): [The Christian world] cannot tell you so much as Balaam’s ass told him. They are more ignorant than children. … the Christian world, so called, are heathens as to their knowledge of the salvation of God … with regard to true theology, a more ignorant people never lived than the present so-called Christian world.
John Taylor (Third LDS President): Are Christians ignorant? Yes, as ignorant of things of God as the brute beast … The devil could not invent a better engine to spread his work than the Christianity of the nineteenth century …. What does the Christian world know about God? Nothing.
The revulsion behind these comments has remained a central part of modern Mormonism, which still teaches that all churches other than their own are utterly corrupt. This ruthless attack has recently been toned down in a concentrated effort by the LDS organization to break into mainline Christianity. Occasionally, however, the long-held contempt of historical Christianity leaks through the wall of Mormon ecumenicalism. Consider, for example, LDS apostle Bruce McConkie (died 1985) in his widely read Mormon Doctrine who said “… a perverted Christianity holds sway among the so-called Christians of apostate Christendom…” In 1984, BYU professor Kent Jackson went even further, stating in the Mormon church’s official magazine, Ensign, that “…Satan sits in the place of God in Christianity…”
Joseph Smith maintained throughout his career that Christianity ceased to exist after the first century. Unbeknownst to the men and women who were taught by Apostles such as Peter, Paul, and John, Christ’s church allegedly disappeared from the earth. Evil men, Mormons say, had entered the church which Christ said He Himself was building and that the gates of hell could not overpower it. According to Smith, men successfully erected a false and corrupt Christianity under the noses of the early church fathers. Such a notion implies that the martyrs of the early Church died in vain. Diocletian mistakenly put to death thousands of false Christians who were tortured for believing a false Gospel. They belonged to a corrupt church, and so it seems God was without a witness on the earth until Joe arrived. 1800 years had passed and now Joseph Smith was raised up to restore the pure church. He alone discovered its original doctrines using peep stones and black magic. He restored the church’s organizational structure by naming presidents and levels of priesthoods. All the other churches, Smith said, were “founded by the devil.” Presbyterians, Baptists, Methodists, and all the other churches who believed the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds were representatives of the “great and abominable church of the satanic world system.” The beliefs and creeds which united them all were totally false and full of lies. Men like Clement, Ignatius, Polycarp, Origen, Chrysostom, at al. were all wrong and Joseph Smith alone rediscovered the truths of the Gospel. There was no church prior to 1830.
The LDS’s vociferous attacks on the “church of the devil” continued for decades until the mid-twentieth century when Mormons subdued their rhetoric in order to advance their reputation among the “heathen” ignorant Christians. Until the early 1900s LDS leaders and its publications called Christian churches derogatory names and insulted the views of Christians. They called them “… poor miserable priests, a ship without a rudder, and atheists…” As late as 1984 Mormonism’s official magazine painted Christianity as “satanic.”
Mormons have repeatedly confirmed that their church is the “only true and living church upon the face of the earth” and that “… the power of God unto salvation is absent from all but the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints…” The reason Mormons have made these statements is because Mormonism varies significantly from historical Christianity.
In 1998 while speaking to 2,400 Latter-day Saints in Paris, LDS President Hinkley confessed that Mormons do not believe in the same Jesus in which Christians believe. We certainly agree with Mormonism on this point.