By Hank Hanegraaff 

Although building ongoing relationships with Mormons can open up avenues for reaching rather than repelling, authentic Christians must never lose sight of the essential differences that separate orthodoxy from the heresy of Mormonism. To help you recall the crucial differences, I’ve organized them around the memorable acronym M-O-R-M-O-N. As you proceed, it is crucial to keep in mind the apostle Paul’s instruction to “[speak] the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15). We begin with the “angel” Moroni, who allegedly led Mormon founder Joseph Smith to the book that started it all.

MORONI. In sharp contrast to the crosses that adorn the steeples of Christian churches, the glittering image of an angel named Moroni is perched high atop the spires of Mormon temples. While millions have viewed his iconic image, few are aware of the significance Moroni plays in Mormon folklore. As a mortal, Moroni served as the last military commander of the Nephite nation. Upon death, Moroni was resurrected as an angel who in 1823 visited young Smith and divulged the location of golden plates inscribed in “reformed Egyptian” hieroglyphics. Along with the golden plates, Smith found magical eyeglasses by which to translate the Egyptian mythography into King James English, thus creating the Book of Mormon and Mormonism.

ORGANIZATION. The Mormon organization officially took form on May 15, 1829, when John the Baptist appeared to Smith and ordained him to the Aaronic priesthood. Shortly thereafter, the apostles Peter, James, and John appeared to confer the Melchizedek priesthood on Smith so that he would be empowered to act on behalf of Jesus Christ in the final dispensation. However, as with the story surrounding Smith’s encounter with the angel Moroni, the organizational structure of the Mormon priesthood is built on a house of cards. There is no evidence that John the Baptist held the Aaronic (Levitical) priesthood, nor could Smith have been his successor in that the Levitical priesthood is fulfilled in Christ and is thus forever obsolete. Likewise, the Melchizedek priesthood is without succession and is the unique possession of Christ forever.

REVELATIONS. The Mormon Church claims three volumes of scripture in addition to the King James Version of the Bible. Despite the authority the Latter-day Saints (LDS) church has vested in these extrabiblical revelations, Mormon leaders have been forced on countless occasions to change, repeal, or contradict embarrassing and egregious teachings in these works. In addition, any new revelations from the living Mormon president and prophet are binding on the church—a policy that the church has exploited to alter doctrines from these scriptures under political pressure. Smith described the Book of Mormon as “the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion.” This despite the fact that it has now been altered 4,000 times to compensate for poor grammar, spelling, and factual errors. Doctrine and Covenants is likewise highly problematic. Chapter 131, a revelation delivered by Joseph Smith in 1843, teaches that, apart from plural marriage, no one can enter the highest level of heaven. In 1890, in contrary revelation, Mormon President Wilford Woodruff relegated polygamy to the afterlife. The Pearl of Great Price is particularly problematic in that it is the pretext by which the Mormon hierarchy excluded men of African descent from the Mormon priesthood (Moses 7:8). It was not until 1978 that the Mormon Church, compelled by political pressure, ceased using this horrific pretext to exclude males of African descent from the priesthood.

MORMON DOCTRINE. While the other aberrations listed in the M-O-R-M-O-N acronym pose a serious threat to Mormon credibility, it is Mormonism’s deviations from essential Christian doctrine that ultimately define it as a non-Christian cult. Such deviations can be remembered via the subacronym D-O-C-T-R-I-N-E.

Deity of Christ. According to official Mormon doctrine, Jesus is the first spirit child conceived and begotten by Heavenly Father and one of his many wives. Jesus progressed through obedience to the status of a god (prior to his incarnation). Heavenly Father subsequently had many more spirit children. Mormons believe even Satan (Lucifer) is a spirit brother of Jesus. As explained in the Mormon publication Ensign, “Jesus was Lucifer’s older brother.”

Original Fall. Mormons maintain that prior to the fall, Adam and Eve were not mortal, which they redefine to mean “able to bear children.” Thus, Mormons redefine the fall as “necessary and glorious,” for by it the “pre-existent” progeny of Father God and Mother God could receive bodies and begin an eternal progression by which they too may become what God is. In the words of the fifth Mormon president, Lorenzo Snow, “As man is, God once was. As God is, man may become.”

Canon of Scripture. According to the Book of Mormon, the Bible is incomplete, having lost substantial portions throughout its transmission over time. Not only so, but Joseph Smith had the unmitigated gall to delete arbitrarily the Song of Solomon, alter scores of biblical passages, and write himself into the Scriptures in his “corrected translation” of Genesis! Moreover, Mormons subscribe to “ongoing revelation” by modern-day church prophets, whose words become as binding as their Mormon quad (the Holy Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price). Within the maze of Mormonism, one can find living prophets contradicting dead prophets and LDS teachings once official (or quasi-official) that are no longer considered credible.

Trinity. Mormons worship three “separate and distinct” gods. Said Smith, “I have always declared God to be a distinct personage, Jesus Christ a separate and distinct personage from God the Father, and that the Holy Ghost was a distinct personage and a Spirit: and these three constitute three distinct personages and three Gods.” Not only so, but Smith taught that God Himself was once merely human: “God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens.”

Resurrection. Mormons believe Christ’s resurrection did nothing but guarantee that everyone, regardless of their beliefs, will be raised from the dead with the opportunity to pursue their own course of salvation. Murderers and unrepentant whoremongers attain the telestial heaven; lukewarm Mormons, religious people, and those who accept the Mormon gospel in the spirit world enter the terrestrial heaven; and temple Mormons go to the celestial heaven. Only those who are sealed in secret temple rituals, however, make it to the third level of the celestial kingdom and become gods of their own planets.

Incarnation. In Mormon lore Jesus was first conceived a spirit child by Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother, and then “begotten in flesh” when Heavenly Father had sex with the Virgin Mary. Said Mormon president and prophet Ezra Taft Benson, “Jesus Christ is the Son of God in the most literal sense. The body in which He performed His mission in the flesh was sired by that same Holy Being we worship as God, our Eternal Father.” Mormon apostle Bruce McConkie left no ambiguity: “Christ was begotten by an Immortal Father in the same way that mortal men are begotten by mortal fathers.”

New Creation. Mormons teach that one’s lot in the afterlife (post- mortality) will reflect one’s obedience to the laws of Mormonism in this life. As such the Mormon road to godhood (new creation) is arduous. A Mormon must not only have faith but exhibit perfect obedience to the law, including faithful participation in LDS temple rituals (marriage, baptisms for the dead, etc.). In the words of Joseph Fielding Smith, “To enter the celestial kingdom and obtain exaltation it is necessary that the whole law be kept.

Eschatology. Mormons believe that when America’s government in 1890. However, by virtue of secret temple ceremonies, Mormon crumbles amid social turmoil, economic instability, and religious strife, the Mormon Church will step in to restore economic security. This will ultimately lead to the return of Jesus Christ, who will set up a one-thousand-year global theocracy based in Jackson County, Missouri. Mormons will subsequently reign with Christ, and everyone will be confronted with Mormonism as the one true religion. Smith alleged God had told him the return of Christ would take place before he was eighty-five years of age.

OATHS AND TEMPLE RITUALS. Mormons once swore on oath never to reveal their secret rituals on penalty that “our throats be cut from ear to ear and our tongues torn out by their roots.” After a ceremonial washing and anointing and the bestowal of a secret new name, temple Mormons receive sacred undergarments believed to repel physical and spiritual dangers. Then comes “The Endowment,” a false representation of mankind’s fall into sin, according to which Adam ultimately accepts Mormonism. Each participant must accurately answer a series of questions to pass through a curtain and complete the ceremony. These rituals—borrowed in part from the rites of Freemasonry—are often performed on behalf of the deceased and include baptisms on behalf of the dead and, in the case of men, ordinations into the priesthood by proxy.

NEW AND EVERLASTING COVENANT OF PLURAL MARRIAGE. The “new and everlasting covenant” of plural marriage is perhaps the best example of Mormon equivocation. Under threat of exile to Mexico, the Mormon Church officially abolished polygamy in the earthly realm in 1890. However, by virtue of secret temple ceremonies, Mormon males, such as Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and contemporary Mormon leaders, remain sealed to multiple wives in the heavenly realm. According to Smith, apart from polygamy there is no hope of attaining to godhood. Smith had at least twenty-seven wives, while Brigham Young had fifty-five wives and fifty-seven children.

In an age in which the Mormon Church is attempting to pass itself off as mainstream, it is crucial that Christians are equipped to scale the Mormon language barrier and use Mormon doctrinal deviations to communicate effectively the everlasting gospel of the historic Christian faith.

Even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.

Galatians 1:8 NKJV





Deity of Christ

Original Fall

Canon of Scripture




New Creation



For further study, see the pocket-sized flipchart, “Memorable Keys to the M-O-R-M-O-N Mirage,”.


***Note the preceding text is adapted from The Complete Bible Answer Book: Collector’s Edition: Revised and Expanded (2024). To receive for your partnering gift please click here. ***