Brigham Young on People Living on the Sun

Brigham Young on People Living on the Sun

Mormonism is known for its strange teachings. One of the strangest beliefs of the early leaders of Mormonism was that both the sun and the moon were inhabited! The belief that the moon and planets of our solar system were inhabited was common in the nineteenth century due to hoaxes and ignorant speculation. For example, Ellen G. White, the founder of Seventh-day Adventism, claimed that there were people living on Jupiter. Brigham Young, the successor to Joseph Smith, said in one of his discourses that people lived on the sun:

“Who can tell us of the inhabitants of this little planet that shines of an evening, called the moon? When we view its face we may see what is termed ‘the man in the moon,’ and what some philosophers declare are the shadows of mountains. But these sayings are very vague, and amount to nothing; and when you inquire about the inhabitants of that sphere you find that the most learned are as ignorant in regard to them as the most ignorant of their fellows. So it is with regard to the inhabitants of the sun. Do you think it is inhabited? I rather think it is. Do you think there is any life there? No question of it; it was not made in vain” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 13, p. 271).

Young appears to have been following the lead of Joseph Smith who is reported to have taught that the moon was inhabited:

“The inhabitants of the moon are more of a uniform size than the inhabitants of the earth, being six feet in height. They dress very much like the Quaker style and are quite general in style or fashion of dress. They live to be very old; coming generally near a thousand years. This is the description of them as given by Joseph [Smith] the Seer, and he could see whatever he asked the Father in the name of Jesus to see” (Journal of Oliver B. Huntington, vol. 2, p. 166).

If you can’t trust Joseph Smith and Brigham Young when it comes to whether there are people living on the sun and moon, why should you trust them when it comes to salvation?

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Becoming a God in Mormonism

Becoming a God in Mormonism

One of the beliefs that makes Mormonism unique among the world religions is its claim that we can become gods one day. Examined more closely, Mormon doctrine teaches not merely that we can become gods one day, but that men and gods share the same nature. They believe we are of the same species as God and that the only difference between us and God is that he has progressed further than we have along the law of eternal progression. As Mormon President Lorenzo Snow put it, “As man now is, God once was; as God now is, man may become.”

Doctrine & Covenants 132:19-20 states:

“And again, verily I say unto you, if a man marry a wife by my word, which is my law, and by the new and everlasting covenant . . . Ye shall come forth in the first resurrection . . . and shall inherit thrones, kingdoms, principalities, and powers, dominions . . . and they shall pass by the angels, and the gods, which are set there, to their exaltation and glory in all things, as hath been sealed upon their heads, which glory shall be a fulness and a continuation of the seeds forever and ever. Then shall they be gods, because they have no end; therefore shall they be from everlasting to everlasting, because they continue; then shall they be above all, because all things are subject unto them. Then shall they be gods, because they have all power, and the angels are subject unto them.”

Joseph Smith taught in his famous King Follett funeral discourse that God has not eternally been God and that we can become gods ourselves:

“It is necessary we should understand the character and being of God and how He came to be so; for I am going to tell you how God came to be God. We have imagined and supposed that God was God from all eternity. I will refute that idea, and take away the veil, so that you may see.”

“Here, then, is eternal life – to know the only wise and true God; and you have got to learn how to be gods yourselves, and to be kings and priests to God, the same as all gods have done before you.”

In his sermon on the plurality of gods, Smith reaffirmed his belief in polytheism:

“In the very beginning the Bible shows there is a plurality of Gods beyond the power of refutation. It is a great subject I am dwelling on. The word Eloheim ought to be in the plural all the way through – Gods. The heads of the Gods appointed one God for us; and when you take [that] view of the subject, it sets one free to see all the beauty, holiness and perfection of the Gods.”

Brigham Young expanded this teaching to include the idea that as intelligences we eternally coexisted with God:

“The mind or the intelligence which man possesses is coequal with God himself. . . . The intelligence of spirits had no beginning, neither will it have an end. . . . There never was a time when there were not spirits; for they are co-equal with our Father in heaven. . . . Intelligence is eternal and exists upon a self-existent principle. It is a spirit from age to age, and there is no creation about it. All the minds and spirits that God ever sent into the world are susceptible of enlargement. The first principles of man are self-existent with God. God himself, finding he was in the midst of spirits and glory, because he was more intelligent, saw proper to institute laws whereby the rest could have a privilege to advance like himself” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 6, p. 6-7).

The Mormon publication Achieving a Celestial Marriage, which was required reading for all Mormon couples who wanted to get married in a temple, teaches that we can become gods just as God became God:

“God was once a man who, by obedience, advanced to his present state of perfection; through obedience and celestial marriage we may progress to the point where we become like God. . . If God became God by obedience to all of the gospel law with the crowning point being the celestial law of marriage, then that’s the only way I can become a god” (4-5).

It then adds these shocking words:

“You are an eternal being. You were never created and you cannot be destroyed, but you can advance, progress, and develop by obedience” (5).

Mormonism teaches that God the Father had his own Father and that he had his own Father and so on and so forth. According to Mormon doctrine, God the Father died, was raised to life, and was exalted to godhood by his God.

As Elder B. H. Roberts taught:

“Man has descended from God; in fact, he is the same race as the Gods. His descent has not been from a lower form of life, but from the Highest Form of Life; in other words, man is, in the most literal sense, a Child of God. This is not only true of the spirit of man, but of his body also” (Course of Study for Priests, 1910, p. 35).

Eliza R. Snow, one of the wives of Joseph Smith, put this belief into poetic form:

Adam, your God, like you on earth, has been

Subject to sorrow in a world of sin:

Through long gradation he arose to be

Clothed with the Godhead’s might and majesty.

And what to him in his probative sphere,

Whether a Bishop, Deacon, priest, or Seer?

Whatever his offices and callings were,

He magnified them with assiduous care;

By his obedience he obtained the place

Of God and Father of this human race.

According to Mormonism, we are the product of the union between Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother. Before that, we existed eternally as intelligences as all other beings did. Before we were born into this life, we pre-existed as spirit children on a planet near the star Kolob and the life we now live is our mortal probation to determine whether or not we will be exalted to godhood based on our obedience to the laws and commandments given to Mormons through their prophets.

Originally, Smith taught monotheism in the Book of Mormon but his theology evolved over time so that he was teaching polytheism by the time he wrote the Pearl of Great Price. May these false teachings move us to pray for the salvation of Mormons that they might turn from darkness to light and embrace the true gospel of Scripture.

Brigham Young’s Adam-God Doctrine

Brigham Young’s Adam-God Doctrine

In honor of the Protestant Reformation, I did a series where I critiqued the theology and history of Roman Catholicism. Now, I am beginning a new series where I will critique the beliefs of Mormonism and contrast them with biblical Christianity.

One of the best pieces of historical evidence which proves that the prophets of Mormonism do not speak for God is that many of the things they taught as doctrine have now been changed. The Book of Mormon has also been changed to hide Joseph Smith’s early belief in modalism before he became a polytheist. Some of the early doctrinal beliefs of Mormonism that are no longer believed by Mormons today include the practice of polygamy, withholding the priesthood from black people, teaching against interracial marriage, forbidding contraception, and the Adam-God doctrine of Brigham Young.

Young taught that:

“When the Virgin Mary conceived the child Jesus, the Father had begotten him in his own likeness. He was not begotten by the Holy Ghost. And who is the Father? He is the first of the human family; and when he took a tabernacle, it was begotten by his Father in heaven, after the same manner as the tabernacles of Cain, Abel, and the rest of the sons and daughters of Adam and Eve; from the fruits of the earth, the first earthly tabernacles were originated by the Father, and so on in succession” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 1, p. 50-51).

This teaching caused no little controversy among the Mormons. Young responded with an article in the Deseret News where he declared:

“How much unbelief exists in the minds of the Latter-day Saints in regard to one particular doctrine which is revealed to them, and which God revealed to me – namely that Adam is our father and God. . . . Our Father Adam is the man who stands at the gate and holds the keys of everlasting life and salvation to all his children who have or ever will come upon the earth” (Deseret Weekly News, June 18, 1873, p. 308).

In case you were wondering whether this was simply Young’s opinion or Scripture from God, Young claimed:

“I know just as well what to teach this people and just what to say to them and what to do in order to bring them into the celestial kingdom. . . . I have never yet preached a sermon and sent it out to the children of men, that they may not call Scripture. Let me have the privilege of correcting a sermon, and it is as good Scripture as they deserve. The people have the oracles of God continually” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 13, p. 95).

“I say now, when they [his discourses] are copied and approved by me they are as good Scripture as is couched in this Bible” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 13, p. 264).

“I am here to answer. I shall be on hand to answer when I am called upon, for all the counsel and for all the instruction that I have given to this people. If there is an Elder here, or any member of this Church, called the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who can bring up the first idea, the first sentence that I have delivered to the people as counsel that is wrong, I really wish they would do it; but they cannot do it, for the simple reason that I have never given counsel that is wrong; this is the reason” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 16, p. 161).

The origin of the belief that Adam is God did not originate with Brigham Young, but was taught by Joseph Smith as well in the Doctrine and Covenants where he states that the titles Adam, Michael, and the ancient of days are all referring to the same person:

“And also with Michael, or Adam, the father of all, the prince of all, the ancient of days” (D&C 27:11).

“Among the great and mighty ones who were assembled in this vast congregation of the righteous were Father Adam, the Ancient of Days and father of all” (D&C 138:38).

The title “Ancient of Days” is used exclusively in the Bible to refer to God (Dan 7:9, 13, 22). This is the one who bestows a kingdom upon the Son of Man who is Jesus (Mark 14:62).

But today, Mormons no longer follow this teaching of Young. The Apostle Bruce R. McConkie admitted:

“Yes, President Young did teach that Adam was the father of our spirits, and all the related things that the cultists ascribe to him. This, however, is not true. He expressed views that are out of harmony with the gospel.”

McConkie preached that the Adam-God doctrine was heresy:

“There are those who believe or say they believe that Adam is our father and our god, that he is the father of our spirits and our bodies, and that he is the one we worship. The devil keeps this heresy alive as a means of obtaining converts to cultism. It is contrary to the whole plan of salvation set forth in the scriptures, and anyone who has read the Book of Moses, and anyone who has received the temple endowment and who yet believes the Adam–God theory does not deserve to be saved. Those who are so ensnared reject the living prophet and close their ears to the apostles of their day. ‘We will follow those who went before,’ they say. And having so determined, they soon are ready to enter polygamous relationships that destroy their souls.”

So, who are Mormons supposed to believe: Brigham Young or the modern leaders of Mormonism? If you can’t trust Young when it comes to who God is, how can you trust him with anything else? If the Mormons living today had been living during the days of Young, they would have taken his view against that of McConkie. But why should the era in which we were born determine the truth?

False Prophecies of the Jehovah’s Witnesses

False Prophecies of the Jehovah’s Witnesses

The Jehovah’s Witnesses have a long history of giving false prophecies about the end of the world. Because they have been wrong so many times about the return of Christ, it is amazing how many people still believe that the Watchtower organization speaks for God. The reason why so many people remain in it is partially due to the fact that they are completely unaware of the large body of primary source material documenting their false predictions that is out there on the internet. They are told to avoid websites, articles, and books that criticize what they believe so they are left in the dark about these revelations that would shake their confidence in their faith.

While the Jehovah’s Witnesses are best known for predicting the second coming of Christ in 1914, 1925, and 1975, their date setting actually began in the nineteenth century. According to C. T. Russell, the last days began in 1799, then 1874 was the beginning of Jesus’ invisible presence, 1878 was when Jesus became the king of heaven, and 1914 would be the date of Christ’s second coming. When this failed to take place, his successor, Samuel Rutherford, claimed that 1914 was actually the beginning of Jesus’ heavenly reign and 1925 would be the real date of Christ’s return. When that failed to take place, the Watchtower organization claimed that 1975 would be the date of Christ’s return. After that failed to take place, the leadership of the Jehovah’s Witnesses finally appeared to learn their lesson and stop setting dates when a large portion of their members left in disillusion. While the Jehovah’s Witnesses are no longer setting dates, their failed predictions demonstrate that they cannot be trusted to accurately handle God’s Word since Jesus taught that no one will know the date of his coming (Matt 25:13). This is all in addition to their many false beliefs which include the denial of the deity of Christ and the bodily resurrection of Christ.

One of the signs of a cult is that they control what information you have access to or discourage you from researching the criticisms that exist about what they believe. This is because those who are in control of the cult want to remain in a position of power and influence and they fear that their followers will leave when they are exposed to the truth about what they really believe. Since knowledge is power, knowledge about their organization must be controlled by those in authority. But with the advent of the internet, anyone can read the primary source material for themselves and find out the truth. This is why some cults require their adherents to install internet filters which block out information critical to what they believe.

The Truth about Horatio Spafford

The Truth about Horatio Spafford

Horatio Spafford is best known for being the author of the famous hymn “It Is Well with My Soul.” While the hymn may be beautiful, Spafford’s theology was not. You see, Spafford was a universalist who believed that hell was only purgatorial in nature and that eventually all created beings, including the devil, would be reconciled to God. After the tragedy of losing his daughters, he and his wife Anna split from their Presbyterian church, started a cult, and then moved to Jerusalem where they forcibly took children away from their parents and abolished marriage (1 Tim 4:2-3). Every aspect of life was controlled by them as Anna claimed to receive new revelations from God telling them how to live. As Kate Uttinger documents in her article on the Jerusalem Colony:

“Mothers were separated from their children, and those who dared leave the Colony were publicly shamed and excommunicated, cut off without a penny of the wealth they’d help earn. And, ironically, when Anna saw an opportunity to make an advantageous match for one of her daughters, she had another vision: Marriages could resume. Yet only Anna could make matches and ratify the marriages.”

But Spafford is not the first or the last hymnist to have terrible theology. Harry Emerson Fosdick, who wrote the well-known hymn “God of Grace and God of Glory,” denied the virgin birth of Christ, the existence of hell, the deity of Christ, and the bodily resurrection of Christ. One of my favorite hymns is “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” by Isaac Watts. But sadly, Watts questioned the doctrine of the Trinity toward the end of his life and tried to create a middle path between trinitarianism and unitarianism that might be called semi-Arianism.

So, should we sing worship songs written by heretics? Would you sing a worship song written by a Mormon as long as everything in the song was biblically true? I would not because the “God” of that song is not the God of Scripture, but of the imagination of Joseph Smith who taught that God is an exalted man who had to become exalted to Godhood by his God. And if we would not sing worship songs written by Mormons, why would we sing songs written by any person who denies the doctrine of the Trinity or who is not saved?

But what if a hymnist believed in the Trinity when he wrote the song and then rejected it later in life? In the case of Isaac Watts, he was a trinitarian at the time he wrote his hymns so I can see how a person could use that to justify singing his hymns in worship. If it was up to me, I would avoid singing any hymn written by a person with heretical theology. There are more than enough hymns to choose from so if we jettison the hymns of Spafford, Fosdick, and Watts, we will not be missing much. If we do feel like we are missing something by not singing questionable hymns, then there’s always the book of Psalms which is the only hymn book that contains perfect theology and has God for its author.

False Prophecies and Teachings of Ellen G. White

False Prophecies and Teachings of Ellen G. White

Ellen G. White was the founder of Seventh-day Adventism who claimed to be a prophet of God. But as I will demonstrate in this article, nothing could be further from the truth. Her revelations are not the product of divine inspiration, but the result of plagiarism (which is well-documented) and following the absurd Victorian fables of her day. White herself tells us to follow the Bible because her testimonies will never contradict God’s written Word:

“The Bible must be your counselor. Study it and the testimonies God has given; for they never contradict His Word” (Selected Messages, vol. 3, p. 32).

Therefore, by her own admission, if she were to teach something contrary to the Bible, then she would not be a true prophet of God. White claimed that her writings are the product of the Holy Spirit and therefore must be followed without question:

“Yet, now when I send you a testimony of warning and reproof, many of you declare it to be merely the opinion of Sister White. You thereby insulted the Spirit of God” (Testimonies 5, p. 64).

“In these letters which I write, in the testimonies I bear, I am presenting to you that which the Lord has presented to me. I do not write one article in the paper expressing merely my own ideas. They are what God has opened before me in vision – the precious rays of light shining from the throne” (Testimonies 5, p. 67).

“If you lessen the confidence of God’s people in the testimonies He has sent them, you are rebelling against God as were Korah, Dathan, and Abriam” (Testimonies 5, p. 66).

“The Testimonies are of the Spirit of God, or of the devil. In arraying yourself against the servants of God you are doing a work either for God or for the devil” (Testimonies 4, p. 230).

“In my books, the truth is stated, barricaded by a ‘Thus saith the Lord.’ The Holy Spirit traced these truths upon my heart and mind as indelibly as the law was traced by the finger of God upon the tables of stone” (Letter 90, 1906).

“I testify the things which I have seen, the things which I have heard, the things which my hands have handled of the Word of life. And this testimony I know to be of the Father and the Son. We have seen and do testify that the power of the Holy Ghost has accompanied the presentation of the truth, warning with pen and voice, and giving the messages in their order. To deny this work would be to deny the Holy Ghost, and would place us in that company who have departed from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits” (Selected Messages, Book 2, p. 388).

But White was no prophet of God because she gave false prophecies (Deut 18:20-22) and taught things contrary to the truth. She once claimed that some of those she was speaking to would still be alive when Christ returned:

“I was shown the company present at the Conference, Said the angel: ‘Some food for worms, some subjects of the seven last plagues, some will be alive and remain upon the earth to be translated at the coming of Jesus’” (Testimonies 1, p. 131-132, May 27, 1856).

She claimed that God revealed to her the day and hour that Christ would return even though Jesus said that no one will know when he will come back (Matt 24:42-44):

“Soon we heard the voice of God like many waters, which gave us the day and hour of Jesus’ coming” (Early Writings, p. 15).

She held to the belief that men and animals were capable of interbreeding with each other and producing offspring which is one reason God had to send a global flood to destroy all living things:

“But if there was one sin above another which called for the destruction of the race by the flood, it was the base crime of amalgamation of man and beast which defaced the image of God, and caused confusion everywhere” (Spiritual Gifts, vol. 3, p. 64).

She believed that certain races of men are the product of interbreeding between men and animals even after the flood:

“Every species of animal which God had created were preserved in the ark. The confused species which God did not create, which were the result of amalgamation, were destroyed by the flood. Since the flood there has been amalgamation of man and beast, as may be seen in the almost endless varieties of species of animals, and in certain races of men” (Spiritual Gifts, vol. 3, p. 75).

She apparently did not remember the book of Genesis very well considering that she once said that the tower of Babel was built before the flood and not after:

“This system was corrupted before the flood by those who separated themselves from the faithful followers of God, and engaged in the building of the tower of Babel” (Spiritual Gifts, vol. 3, p. 301).

She believed that it was a sin to be sick:

“It is a sin to be sick; for all sickness is the result of transgression” (Counsels on Health, p. 37).

She believed that the saints in heaven have wings contrary to the example of Christ who does not have wings in his present glorified state (Phil 3:21):

“We gathered about Jesus, and just as He closed the gates of the city, the curse was pronounced upon the wicked. The gates were shut. Then the saints used their wings and mounted to the top of the wall of the city” (Early Writings, p. 53).

She confused Herod Antipas with Herod Agrippa I:

“Herod’s heart grew still harder, and when he heard that JESUS had arisen, he was not much troubled. He took the life of James; and when he saw that this pleased the Jews, he took Peter also, intending to put him to death” (Spiritual Gifts, Vol 1, p.71).

She taught that Jesus’ brothers were older than him even though Jesus was the firstborn (Luke 2:7):

“All this displeased His brothers. Being older than Jesus, they felt that He should be under their dictation. His brothers, as the sons of Joseph were called, sided with the rabbis. They insisted that the traditions must be heeded, as if they were the requirements of God” (The Desire of Ages, p. 86-87).

She discouraged marriage because she taught that the end of the world was right around the corner:

“In this age of the world, as the scenes of earth’s history are soon to close and we are about to enter upon the time of trouble such as never was, the fewer the marriages contracted, the better for all, both men and women.” (Testimonies 5, p. 366).

She required all of her followers to be strict vegetarians imposing her own man-made rules on others (1 Cor 4:6):

“You place on your table butter, eggs, and meat, and your children partake of them. They are fed with the very things that will excite their animal passions, and then you come to meeting and ask God to bless and save your children. How high do your prayers go?” (Testimonies 2, p. 362).

But she herself enjoyed salmon and other meat:

“We have not had a particle of meat in the house since you left and long before you left. We have had salmon a few times. It has been rather high [in price]” (Letter 13, 1876, cited in Manuscript Releases, vol. 14, p. 336).

She believed that wigs overheat the brain:

“The artificial hair and pads covering the base of the brain heat and excite the spinal nerves centering in the brain. The head should ever be kept cool. The heat caused by these artificial coverings induces the blood to the brain. The action of the blood upon the lower or animal organs of the brain, causes unnatural activity, tends to recklessness in morals, and the mind and heart are in danger of being corrupted” (The Health Reformer, Oct. 1, 1871).

She denied that the man Jesus is God which in the context of her statement is the error of Nestorianism rather than Arianism:

“The man Christ Jesus was not the Lord God Almighty” (Letter 32, 1899, quoted in the Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 5, p. 1129).

She taught that Jesus’ work of atonement was not finished until 1844 when the investigative judgment began which is contrary to the teachings of Hebrews 10:10-14:

“Instead of . . . Daniel 8:14 referring to the purifying of the earth, it was now plain that it pointed to the closing work of our High Priest in heaven, the finishing of the atonement, and the preparing of the people to abide the day of His coming” (Testimonies, vol. 1, p. 58).

“Jesus entered the most holy of the heavenly (sanctuary), at the end of the 2300 days of Daniel 8, in 1844, to make a final atonement for all who could be benefited by His mediation” (Early Writings, p. 253).

She taught that we should never say that we are saved which undermines any doctrine of assurance of salvation (1 John 5:13):

“Those who accept the Saviour, however sincere their conversion, should never be taught to say or feel that they are saved. . . . Those who accept Christ, and in their first confidence say, I am saved, are in danger of trusting to themselves” (Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 155).

White believed that being reconciled to God involved a synergistic combination of obedience and faith:

“Man, who has defaced the image of God in his soul by a corrupt life, cannot, by mere human effort, effect a radical change in himself. He must accept the provisions of the gospel; he must be reconciled to God through obedience to his law and faith in Jesus Christ” (Testimonies, vol. 4, p. 294).

She taught that the blood of Christ does not cancel sin:

“The blood of Christ, while it was to release the repentant sinner from the condemnation of the law, was not to cancel the sin; it would stand on record in the sanctuary until the final atonement. . . . In the great day of final award, the dead are to be ‘judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works’ (Revelation 20:12). Then by virtue of the atoning blood of Christ, the sins of all the truly penitent will be blotted from the books of heaven” (Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 357).

Instead, we must reach a state of sinless perfection in order to be saved:

“Though all nations are to pass in judgment before God, yet He will examine the cases of each individual with as close and searching scrutiny as if there were not another being upon the earth. Every one must be tested, and found without spot or wrinkle or any such thing” (The Great Controversy, 1950 edition, p. 490).

She taught that Satan will bear the sins of God’s people when he is cast into hell:

“As the priest, in removing the sins from the sanctuary, confessed them upon the head of the scapegoat, so Christ will place all these sins upon Satan, the originator and instigator of sin. The scapegoat, bearing the sins of Israel, was sent away ‘unto a land not inhabited;’ so Satan, bearing the guilt of all the sins which he has caused God’s people to commit, will be for a thousand years confined to the earth, which will then be desolate, without inhabitant, and he will at last suffer the full penalty of sin in the fires that shall destroy all the wicked” (The Great Controversy, p. 485-486).

She also believed in annihilationism which states that the wicked will one day cease to exist:

“I saw that some were quickly destroyed, while others suffered longer. . . . Some were many days consuming, and just as long as there was a portion of them unconsumed, all the sense of suffering was there” (Spiritual Gifts, vol. 1, p. 217).

These are just some of her false teachings, but many others could be added to this list.

What Is Marcionism?

Marcionism is a form of gnosticism promoted during the second century by Marcion of Sinope. It is polytheistic and dualistic asserting that the God of the Old Testament is an evil demiurge while the God of the New Testament is good. Marcion rejected the Old Testament Scriptures and only accepted an edited version of Luke and the writings of Paul stripped of their references to the Old Testament. He was also a docetist who denied the full humanity of Christ.

Marcion’s beliefs concerning the Old and New Testaments are most clearly set forth in his Antithesis where he argues that the two testaments contain irreconcilable depictions of God and therefore they must be two distinct deities who are in conflict with each another. He argued on the basis of Isaiah 45:7 that the God of the Old Testament is evil: “I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the LORD, who does all these things.” The word translated as “calamity” here is the Hebrew word ra which means that which is evil or bad. The Greek translation of the Old Testament, which Marcion read, translates it as kakos which also means evil. Marcion concluded:

“This god is the author of evil – there must be another God, after the analogy of the good tree producing its good fruit. In Christ is found a different disposition, one of a simple and pure benevolence – which differs from the Creator. In Christ a new God is revealed.”

But Marcion’s mistake here is misunderstanding how the term ra is being used by Isaiah. Isaiah defines it in contrast to shalom which means peace or well-being since they are set in antithesis to each other. The opposite of well-being is calamity or disaster and that is why modern translations translate ra as calamity rather than evil. The point is not that God is the author of evil, but that he is ultimately the author of the calamity in the world which is evil because it falls short of God’s original design for creation (Lam 3:37-39; Amos 3:6). God is sovereign over the evil in the world without being evil himself because he uses secondary causes to accomplish his will whose desire is for evil while his is always for good (Gen 50:20; Isa 10:5-7; Acts 4:27-28; Eph 1:11). In one sense, Marcion’s theology flows from a rejection of the sovereignty of God as displayed in the Old Testament.

Not only did he believe in two distinct gods, he also believed that there were two different Christs. He argues that the Christ revealed in the Old Testament is not the same as the one revealed in his edited version of Luke:

“It is the Christ of the Other, Supreme God Who was driven to the cross by the hostile powers and authorities of the Creator. The suffering of the cross was not predicted of the Creator’s Christ; moreover, it should not be believed that the Creator would expose his son to that kind of death on which he himself had pronounced a curse. ‘Cursed’ says he, ‘is everyone who hangeth on a tree’ (Deuteronomy 21:3, Galatians 3:13).”

While Marcionism is damnable heresy, we can be tempted to think in Marcionite categories and fail to see the interconnectedness of the Old and New Testaments. When we relegate the Old Testament Scriptures to a secondary status in our teaching and preaching, we are failing to treat all of Scripture as God-breathed (2 Tim 3:16). It is primarily in the Old Testament where the attributes of God are set forth. To neglect the Old Testament is to neglect the study of who God is. And the essence of eternal life is knowing God through Christ (John 17:3). When Christians speak poorly of the Old Testament and its laws from an antinomian perspective, they are unwittingly drifting toward Marcionism by creating a canon within the canon where the New Testament is seen as superior to the Old when it comes to ethics and morals. But the same God who gave us the laws of the Old Testament also gives us the commands of the New. Since the moral law is a reflection of God’s righteousness, it is not subject to change because God does not change.