Why not Mormonism?
Mormons believe: that Christ preached to the American Indians after His ascension and founded a church among them for the Western hemisphere; that an angel revealed the history of these people on golden plates to a young man (Joseph Smith) in New York in 1827 and furnished magic spectacles to enable him to translate the record; that Smith reestablished the church of Christ which had been wiped out in the Americas and had apostatised elsewhere. But the fact that Mormonism contradicts Catholicism means that only one could be true.
The Mormon teaching of a great and total apostasy in the early Church established by Jesus Christ is simply not true. Pure doctrine and valid authority have existed in the Catholic Church throughout its twenty centuries. The overwhelming historical evidence available supports the Catholic teaching on Apostolic succession; this was first demonstrated in the replacement of Judas by Matthias (Acts 1:15-26). The chain of popes has been unbroken from Peter to the present Pope (John Paul II). No Pope has ever taught error in matters of faith and morals when teaching infallibly. The Catholic Church has never contradicted Herself as regards infallible teachings, nor have Her infallible teachings ever been retracted.
If there had been a total apostasy then such a notion directly contradicts Christ's promises: "I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" (Matt 16:18), "And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever" (John 14:16) and "I am with you always, even unto the end of the world" (Matt 28:20). See also: Isa 9:6-7, and Dan 7:14. So, from Scripture, it can be shown that Jesus promised that the early Church would continue to the end of the world. Jesus founded a Church that could never be overcome, not even by wicked members (Matt 13:24-30, 36-43). Without a great and total apostasy there is no need for the restoration that Mormons claim.
The writings of the early Church Fathers show overwhelmingly that there was a unity of belief and organisation in the early Church. We have no indication of an extraordinary concern for a total apostasy of the Church in any of their writings. If there had been a total apostasy of the Church, sometime in the late 2nd century or early 3rd century (as Mormon apologists typically surmise), there should be evidence showing that what the Church taught before the alleged apostasy differed from what she taught afterward; there is no such evidence. Early Church Fathers such as Sts Clement, Ignatius, Justin Martyr, Polycarp and Irenaeus clearly indicate that the Fathers never taught Mormon doctrines such as a plurality of gods, pre-mortal existence, eternal progression, polygamy, baptism for the dead or celestial marriage. In fact, the Early Church Fathers taught Catholic doctrines: the Mass as a sacrifice, Christ's Real Presence in the Eucharist and the primacy of St Peter and his successors.
There is only one God. The Mormon views: of a plurality of gods made up of flesh and bones, that God was once a man, or that man can progress to become a god of his own world, all contradict the constant teaching of Christianity for 2,000 years. See the following Bible quotes: Ex 20: 2-3; Deut 6: 4; Is 43: 10; Is 45: 5; 1 Cor 8: 4; Eph 4: 5-6; Jn 17: 3. The belief in many gods is even contradicted in the Book of Mormon - 'Now Zeerzom said: is there more than one God? And he [Amulek] answered, No' (Alma 11: 26-31). Another Mormon doctrine also refuted in Mormon scripture is Baptism of the Dead â€" 'â€¦ if we do not improve our time while in this life â€¦ [then at death] there can be no labour performed' (Alma 34: 31 -35).
The authentic Christian mystery of the Holy Trinity teaches the one divine nature of God in three persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. God is the "first cause" of everything else and our spiritual souls and human bodies are created at the moment of conception. The Mormon plan of eternal progression consisting of a pre-mortal existence where each person is born into this world according to their previous merits in the spirit world is false because nothing exists that doesn't owe its existence to the 1st Cause: God the Creator.
Mormons do not believe in an Original Sin committed by Adam and Eve and passed on to their descendants. Mormon belief holds that Adam & Eve had to "transgress" the law not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in order for them to be able to have children. Mormons cannot use their own scripture to prove this point. Since Mormons deny that people are born deprived of sanctifying grace, they see no need to baptise infants but they ignore several Bible verses supporting infant baptism: Acts 16:15, 32-33 and 1Cor 1:16 reveal the apostolic practice of baptising entire households which obviously included infants.
THE MORMON FOUNDER.
The life of Mormonism's founder, Joseph Smith, can be questioned on a number of counts:
Smith ordered the destruction of printing presses belonging to individuals who opposed his views. Because of this action he was arrested and imprisoned. Many of Smith's prophecies can be shown to be false. For example, in September 1832 Christ supposedly told Smith that "this generation shall not pass away" until the "New Jerusalem" and temple is built in Jackson County, Missouri. Because this prophecy has not happened, Mormons claim that the Lord has changed His mind. Smith's prophecy that there would be an American Civil War 30 years before it happened is not unique because it was being predicted by hundreds of others based on human reasoning alone. In 1844 Smith said, "There are those of the rising generation who shall not taste death till Christ comes." Those alive in 1844 are all now dead, Christ has not returned, Smith was wrong. In April 1838, the Lord allegedly told Smith to have member David W. Patten settle his business affairs, since he would be called to go on a mission "next spring" (1839). But Patten was killed in battle in October of 1838. Smith claimed, "The followers of Jesus ran away from Him; but the Latter-day Saints never ran away from me yet." His boasting was premature. Before his death, while participating in a gun battle, most of his original colleagues had either left the Mormon church or had been excommunicated.
Smith described the Book of Mormon to be "the most correct of any book on Earth, and the keystone of our religion" - more important than the Bible itself. The Book of Mormon refers repeatedly to the Catholic Church as the 'abominable Church' of the Devil (1 and 2 Nephi).
Membership - Brigham Young and every Mormon prophet until 1978 taught that blacks were forbidden to hold the Mormon priesthood. This, members were taught, was God's will because of the lack of obedience and fervour - 'in the pre-existence' - of those born as Negroes in this life.
Polygamy - For about 45 years, until 1890, the Mormon church taught its members to live the principle of "plural marriage". Smith himself practiced polygamy secretly for several years, while publicly denying it, before he made the doctrine public.
Abortion - The Mormon Church in its 1992 edition of Gospel Principles permits abortion in certain circumstances.
Artificial contraception - Artificial birth control is left up to the individual's conscience.
Divorce and re-marriage - Although Christ forbids remarriage after divorce, calling it adultery (Mark 10:10-11), the Mormon church permits it.
Euthanasia - President Gordon B. Hinkley, the current prophet, commented in 1997: 'With reference to euthanasia, no, at this point at least, we haven't favoured that.' [San Francisco Chronicle, April 13, 1997].
Food â€" The Mormon Church teaches that God forbids coffee and wine but such a stance is contradicted in the Bible where all foods may be eaten: Mark 7: 18-19 'Nothing that goes into you from the outside can really make you unclean â€¦ (in saying this, Jesus declared that all foods are fit to be eaten); Rom 14:20 'All foods may be eaten'; 1 Cor 8: 7-8 'we shall not lose anything if we do not eat (certain foods)'; 1 Tim 4:3-4 'But God created those foods (so-called forbidden foods) to be eaten'; Heb 13: 9 'It is good to receive inner strength from God's grace and not by obeying rules about foods'.
When Mormons Call, catholicanswers.com; Surprised by Truth 2 â€" Steve Clifford, ex-Mormon, compiled by Patrick Madrid; The Faith of the Early Fathers, William A. Jurgens; Separated Brethren, William J. Whalen
* Please note that this text should be read in the context of the whole work and in recognition of the appropriate paragraphs of the Catechism of the Catholic Church highlighted in the index.