Youve got to give him
credit: hes consistent. Craig Ray, the self-proclaimed
President (and sole member) of the "Alpha and Omega Watchdog
Committee," has been trying to provide an answer to the
evangelical claims of our ministry amongst Mormons for years now.
From the first time I received a letter from Craig (with Magic
Marker A&O Watchdog Committee letterhead), hes been
doing his best to provide some kind of response to the
materials we distribute at the LDS Easter Pageant each year. This
year is no exception.
But does Mr. Ray provide a
meaningful, biblically-based response? Unfortunately, he does
not. Mr. Ray, as dedicated as he may be, is not a student of
Scripture. Most of our volunteers recall with amazement the
rather loud encounter we had with Craig a number of years back
regarding the phrase "the LORD the King of
Israel, and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts" at Isaiah 44:6. Mr. Ray
absolutely and loudly insisted to a group of our volunteers that
we clearly see here two persons: the King of Israel, and the
Kings redeemer. No amount of explaining the passage had any
impact: Craig was sure there were two "gods" mentioned
here, and every time I would point out the simple fact that the
word LORD means "Yahweh" in Hebrew, and hence the
passage reads, "Yahweh, the King of Israel, and his
Redeemer, Yahweh of hosts," it made no difference. Mr. Ray
simply would not see that the passage is talking about the one
true God, describing Him as the King and Redeemer of Israel.
In Mr. Rays most recent
offering, titled "What DID Christ Teach?" we are
provided with more examples of a-contextual proof-texting, the
use of Bible passages without any concern for the context in
which those passages are found. The tract has a picture on the
front of the Lord Jesus laying hands upon the head of someone,
ostensibly illustrating one of the passages cited inside the
tract, Mark 3:14, which reads, "And he ordained twelve, that
they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to
preach." Many LDS, including Mr. Ray, assume that the
KJVs use of the term "ordain" refers to religious
ordination to a priesthood as in Mormonism. The Greek term does
not refer, however, to some kind of religious ordination to a
priesthood, but simply refers to appointment or choosing. Christ
chose His own twelve apostles. This says nothing about ordination
to priesthood duties.
Craig begins by observing that the
Church is built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets
with the Lord Jesus as the chief cornerstone, and he cites
Ephesians 2:19-20 as proof. In this he is quite correct, though
we must immediately ask, "If the Church is founded upon a
foundation of Christ and the apostles, why do you continue to
keep laying the foundation over and over again?" Mormonism,
with its concept of continuing apostleship (which has produced,
so far, about 103 "apostles" since the founding of the
LDS church), keeps laying the foundation over and over and over
again. How can you build a house if you only lay foundations on
top of each other?
Next Craig cites Ephesians
4:11-14, and says that the apostles and prophets were important
in bringing about a unity of the faith. Again, this is correct,
as far as it goes. However, the passage does not speak of
apostles and prophets in the modern LDS sense at all. Paul
had no concept of a single prophet, a "First
Presidency," a "Council of the Twelve," a
"Seventy," and so forth. These are modern innovations
Then, it is noted that Paul warned
against false teachers in Galatians 1:6-8. This is quite true.
But Mr. Ray fails to note that false teachers were already
in the Church, and even having living Apostles did not keep these
false teachers from drawing men away after themselves. Paul
likewise warned Timothy that this would happen. Note his words:
Now the Spirit speaketh
expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from
the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of
As we shall see in a moment, it is
important to note the specific wording of this passage. Paul does
not say that all will depart from the faith (the Greek
term is avposth,sontai,,
future form of the word from which we get "to
apostatize"). There is no "universal apostasy" in
Pauls writings anywhere. Instead, he says that some
will depart from the faith, not all. This will be
important in examining the rest of Craigs claims.
Next we read Mr. Ray say,
"Paul want on to charge the saints to hold fast to the truth
for he told them that a time would come when sound doctrine would
not endure." The reference given is "Tim. 4:3-4."
We assume he means 2 Timothy, for he goes on to cite this
passage. Note Pauls words:
For the time will come when
they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own
lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching
ears;  And they shall turn away their ears
from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
Notice that Paul does not say,
"sound doctrine will not endure" as Mr. Ray does.
Instead, Paul says that "they will not endure sound
doctrine." There is a huge difference. Mormons will not
"endure" the sound doctrine that there is only one true
God: that doesnt mean that the truth itself disappears just
because they will not "endure" it. Mr. Ray needs to
realize that the term translated "endure" in the KJV
means "to put up with" (as in the NIV). Paul is saying
that men will not put up with sound doctrine, but will
instead look for something to replace it. And surely, Mormonism
is one of the greatest fulfillments of this very prophecy. Paul
says they will turn away from the truth and will turn to
mythsmyths like Josephs Smiths "God is a
man from another planet" theology, or the Book of Mormon,
etc. But Paul is not saying that all believers will do
this, as we saw above. And in fact, he contrasts these
"others" in verses 3 and 4 with Timothy in verse 5:
But watch thou in all things,
endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full
proof of thy ministry.
The KJV translation is not overly
clear: the NASB brings out the contrast better:
But you, be sober in all
things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist,
fulfill your ministry.
In contrast with "those"
who turn away from the truth, Paul says, "But you,"
Timothy, stand firm in the faith and the ministry. There will
always be, by Gods grace, those Timothys who stand
firm and do not go along with the crowd. There is simply no
universal apostasy here.
The next passage that Mr. Ray
attempts to present is from Acts 20:29-30. Here Craig claims,
"Paul, upon leaving Ephesus (sic) told the saints
that the church there would fall away." But is that what
Paul really said? Hardly:
For I know this, that after my
departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not
sparing the flock.  Also of your own selves shall
men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples
Paul warns the Ephesians
elders of the dangers ahead, but where does he say that the
entire church at Ephesus would fall away? He doesnt. Not a
word is said that is even remotely close to such a sweeping
conclusion. That this is not the case is brought out in what
Therefore watch, and remember,
that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every
one night and day with tears.  And now, brethren,
I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is
able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among
all them which are sanctified.
Paul exhorts them to
watchfulnesswhy, if their work is doomed? He commends them
to God and the word of His grace, which, Paul says, is able to
build them up. Why do this, if in fact what he has just said is
that theirs is a lost cause? But, Paul hasnt told them it
is a lost cause, for he has only warned them that the Church will
always suffer false teachers and the trials caused by false
teaching: he has not uttered a word about a universal
apostasy. Instead, he taught just the opposite:
Now unto him that is able to
do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think,
according to the power that worketh in us,  Unto
him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout
all ages, world without end. Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21)
Notice that Paul teaches
that God the Father will receive glory in the church by Christ
Jesus throughout all ages, and that because of the great
power that works within Christians (v. 20). Mormonism teaches
that the Church did not exist for almost 1700 years. How then,
was God the Father being glorified by it, if it didnt
Then Craig Ray cites 2
Thessalonians 2:1-4, and its reference to a "falling
away." Unfortunately, Mr. Ray, like most LDS commentators,
does not deal with the fact that Paul does not just talk about
the falling away; he says, "for that day shall not come, except there
come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the
son of perdition." The falling away predicted is connected
with the revelation of the man of sin. Has the man of sin been
revealed, the anti-Christ who sits in the place of God (v. 4)? In
any case, saying there will be a falling away is not the same as
saying there will be a universal apostasy. There have always
been apostates: hence, there has always been a
"falling away." There are former Mormons, too, who have
left the fellowship of the Mormon Church. Does that make the
Mormon Church apostate? No, it doesnt. Hence, just because
there are defections from the Christian faith, that doesnt
amount to a universal and full apostasy in the Church as a whole.
Next we read, "In foretelling
of the falling away of the Church the apostle Peter left the
saints with the hope of a restoration when he spoke of a
restitution of all things." Then Acts 3:19-21 is cited:
Repent ye therefore, and
be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the
times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;
 And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was
preached unto you: whom the heaven must receive
until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath
spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world
The problem is, Peter nowhere
speaks of a falling away, or an apostasy, anywhere in this
sermon. This is a complete misrepresentation of the context of
the passage. Peter is preaching to Jews about Christ; he says
nothing about the Church falling away. What is more, the
"restitution of all things" has to do with the
restitution of the Davidic kingdom promises, not with the Church
at all. The Church was a mystery hidden from the previous ages,
as Paul says (Colossians 1:26-27). This kind of "lets make
an assertion without any basis in the context of the passage at
all" exegesis continues in the next citation from Revelation
14:6-7, where Mr. Ray tells us that here we find a portrayal of
the "restoration of the gospel." Again, this is little
more than wishful thinking on his part.
Hence, Mr. Ray
failsutterlyto establish the need for the
"restoration" proclaimed by Mormonism. Hence, if the
Church would indeed last, as Jesus promised (Matthew 16:18),
there is no need for a "restoration" under the Mormon
prophet Joseph Smith.
But Mr. Ray continues on to give
us some guidelines by which we are supposed to judge which of the
churches is the true Church of Jesus Christ. He writes,
"What did Christ teach? What Church today teaches of:: (sic)"
and then provides a list of beliefs. We shall briefly look at
each of these beliefs as they are listed.
- Mr. Ray claims: "A pre-existence,
-Job 38:4-7, Jer. 1:4-5"
But the Bible says: Man is the creation
of God, not a pre-existence spirit-being begotten by an exalted
man from another planet. Job 38 is talking about angels, not men,
and Jeremiah 1 speaks of Gods choosing and ordaining of
Jeremiah, not that Jeremiah pre-existed his physical life.
Jeremiah makes this plain by paralleling the Hebrew terms ^yTi[.d;y> ("I
knew you") and ^yTiv.D;q.hi ("I consecrated you"), so that
the one is defined in terms of the other. God is not saying,
"You have a spiritual pre-existence during which time I had
knowledge of who you were." He is saying that before
Jeremiah was born, God chose him and ordained him to the task of
a prophet. Hence, no "pre-existence" in either passage,
therefore, we must conclude that the real Church would not
teach such a false doctrine.
- Mr. Ray claims: "A Personal God, -Heb
1:1-3, Rom. 6:9-10, Acts 1:9-11"
We confess we dont know what
Mr. Ray means. Certainly God is personal. Does he mean that God
has a physical body, as Mormonism teaches? Is limited in time and
space? We cant tell, so we do not wish to offer a response
without knowing what his intention is.
- Mr. Ray claims: "The Divinity of
Christ, -John 14:6"
We certainly agree, though we do
not in any way believe that the divinity offered by Mormonism to
Jesusone in which He is merely one god amongst many gods,
is in any way sufficient. The deity of Christ proclaimed in
Scripture is of a completely different order than that presented
by Mormonism. The Christ of the Bible is mans creator, not
mans spirit brother (Colossians 1:15-17, Zechariah 12:1).
Next, Mr. Ray speaks of a physical
resurrection, the Lords Supper, and baptism by immersion,
all issues upon which we have no differences at all.
- Mr. Ray claims: "Living Prophets, -
In the context in which Paul
offered these words, we certainly agree. Unfortunately, what Paul
meant by "prophets" in this passage is a far cry
from the LDS concept of a prophet as the leader of the Church.
- Mr. Ray claims: "Continuous
Revelation, - Amos 3:7"
Here we have the citation of an
Old Testament passage about the functioning of the nation of
Israel that says, "Surely the Lord GOD will do
nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the
prophets." Its interesting that Mr. Ray must go to the
Old Testament for such a passage. He must, for the New Testament
doesnt contain anything like it. Why? Luke 16:16 and
Hebrews 1:1-2 explain:
(Luke 16:16) The law and the
prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom
of God is preached, and every man presseth into it.
(Heb 1:1-2) God, who at sundry
times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the
fathers by the prophets,  Hath in these last days
spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir
of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;
Luke 16:16 explains that a new era
has entered in, and the "prophets" as Amos used the
term were only "until John." Since then, the kingdom of
God is preached. In the same way, Hebrews 1:1-2 explains that
while in the old times God spoke by prophets, now He has spoken
by Christ. To go back to the old kind of
"prophets" is to go back from the fullness of
Christ. And surely this is exactly what we see in Mormonism.
Next Mr. Ray cites the
non-original passage in Mark 16:16-18 under the rubric of
"Tne (sic) Gifts of the Holy Spirit." If he
could perhaps provide us with an actual passage from the
canonical Scriptures we could possibly address whatever issue it
is he is raising.
- Mr. Ray claims: "New Scripture
The passage cited nowhere mentions
new Scriptures at all. Instead, this is one of the few passages
that Mormonism attempts to twist into something upon which to
base prophecies of the Book of Mormon. Ignoring the
context, and the plain interpretation of the passage provided in
the text itself (vs. 18-28), Mr. Ray expands this simple text
into a basis for "New Scripture"! The reader is invited
to read the passage, and ponder how such a meaning can possibly
be derived therefrom.
- Mr. Ray claims: "Baptism for the
Dead, - 1 Cor. 15:29"
This single reference to
"baptism for the dead" is hardly an element by which
the Church is defined anywhere in Scripture. Whatever Paul is
referring to, he is certainly not referring to the LDS
concept of baptism for the dead, for the following elements are
missing from Pauls theology that are required to come up
with Mr. Rays view: 1) temples, 2) priesthoods, 3) the
concept that baptism, as an act, is necessary to bring about
salvation. Hence, no matter which of the various interpretations
of this passage that have been offered by Christian scholars one
follows, certainty attaches to this: the LDS viewpoint is not one
of the possible options.
- Mr. Ray claims: "The Gospel Preached
to the Dead, - 1 Peter 3:18-18 (sic), 4:6"
Since Mormonism does not
understand mans deadness in sin (Romans 3:10-18, John 6:44,
Ephesians 2:1-5, etc.), it is easy to understand how "the
dead" could be understood a tad bit too literally. But in
either case, the Lords descent into the realm of the dead
to proclaim (not preach) His victory over the spirits who are in
prison (not people) is hardly basis for saying the Church itself
is to be marked by an activity nowhere even once mentioned as a
part of her mission.
Mr. Ray then mentions "The
State of the Soul after the Resurrection," citing 1
Corinthians 15:40-42, but makes no further comment. If he is
referring to "levels of heaven" and the like in LDS
theology, such concepts are easily refuted from Scripture. But
since he doesnt tell us, we wont hazard a guess.
- Mr. Ray claims: "A Lay Clergy?, (sic)
We would invite Mr. Ray to explain
to us Pauls words in 1 Corinthians 9:1-14.
overheard Craig Ray speaking to a missionary. Referring to James
White's book, Letters to a Mormon Elder, Mr. Ray said,
"Go ahead and take it, and then call me, and I'll give you
the answers to it." Also, when passing out the tract noted
above, Mr. Ray showed a particular passage to someone and said,
"This is one of the passages they don't want you to
see." We can assure Craig Ray that there is no passage in
the Bible that we wish to "hide" from anyone. But if
his answers are no more substantive than those presented above,
we truly hope he will reconsider his course, and take the time to
learn the truth of God's Word that he is so sadly lacking.