Devout Mormons often reject any criticism of Mormonism by saying that the criticism comes from Satan, who is trying to defeat God's work (Mormonism). Is that a valid argument? How can we tell when the source of information is Satan? Should we reject information simply because someone claims that the source is Satan?
Since I personally do not believe in God, I also do not believe in Satan. I certainly admit the existence of evil in the world, but I see no reason to attribute it to the workings of a single evil and almost-all-powerful intelligent being.
But for people who believe in Satan (or "Lucifer" or The Devil or the Antichrist or the Adversary - whatever he is called), the question of how to identify Satan's work becomes important, and, for the sake of discussion, we will assume that Satan exists, and that we can learn what we need to know about him from scripture.
Christian (and Mormon) believers in Satan rely on numerous scriptures that describe the devil's great ability to trick and deceive:
Joseph Smith also taught that sometimes false angels and false revelations from Satan are difficult to recognize as false. He gave as one test the hair color of an angel - if it is sandy-colored, the angel is not from God (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 214). Another test is comparing the message of the supposed angel to previous revelations: if it contradicts previous revelation, it is from Satan (ibid.). D&C 129:8 says that if you take the angel's hand and do not feel anything, it is an angel of the devil. But unless the person telling you something claims to be an angel, these tests will not be of much practical use.
- He can appear as an angel of light. 2 Cor 11:14 (see also D&C 128:20, 129:8)
- He will seem to be like God. 2 Thess 2:4
- He will not be exposed as the devil until the end of time. 2 Thess 2:8
- His followers will seem (and claim) to be apostles of Christ. 2 Cor 11:13-14, Matt 24:4-5, 24:23-26, Mark 13:21-22
- His followers will be able to do miracles and wonders. Matt 24:24, Mark 13:22
- He will tempt with the promise of dominion and power. Matt 4:8-9, Luke 4:5-7
- He will be able to deceive even the "elect" (i.e., the righteous and the saved). Matt 24:24, Mark 13:22
- He (and his followers?) believe that they will be like God. Isaiah 14:13-14
- The devil's followers are whoever sins (the righteous - the followers of God - do not sin). 1 John 3:6-9
- Feelings are the imaginations of the heart (and are deceptive; thus they may come from Satan) Jer 17:9 (also 3:17, 7:24, 9:14, 11:8, 16:12)
- Every man thinks that he is right (implicitly, this includes even those who are deceived; thus, even though you may think you are right, you may still be deceived). Prov 21:2
- Those who think they are standing (i.e. correct) will fall. 1 Cor 10:12
- The devil's false prophets lie; true prophets of God do not. Deut 13:1-3, 18:20-22, Isa 9:15, Jer 5:31, 14:14, 1 John 2:21, many other passages
- The devil's doctrines will include much more than faith, repentance and baptism. 3 Nephi 11:31-40, D&C 10:67-68
- But sometimes the devil will tell a truth (Mark 1:24, Luke 4:33-34, 41, Gen 2:4-5)
Many believers, assuming of course that their beliefs are from God, simply assume that anything which contradicts their own cherished beliefs must be from Satan. But, after reviewing the scriptural passages above, one can see that such a naive assurance does not give enough credit to the power of Satan or his subtlety.
Assuming, then, that Satan is as powerful and as clever as described in scripture, let us try to imagine what Satan would do to capture the most souls of mankind, since that is supposed to be his goal.
Those who are already wicked - thieves, liars, murderers, adulterers, abusers of the helpless, oppressors of the poor, etc. - are already in Satan's camp. Satan does not have to do anything more to capture those souls - he can simply allow them to follow their own wicked desires.
But what about the righteous, the people who are basically good, kind, loving, and who abhor wickedness? How could Satan best tempt such people? Many believers naively think that Satan's best tactic would be to tempt them to steal, to fornicate, to curse God, and to commit other evils. Although a very few good people might fall for that, it would not catch very many souls. Satan is surely much too wise to place all his efforts into tempting good people to be bad. Anyone who thinks that is Satan's best tactic is very naive indeed.
No, Satan, being very clever, and knowing that good people tend to be good, will catch more souls by appearing to be the "angel of light" (2 Cor 11:14), by preaching goodness and by giving people bits of truth and light. He will make his "gospel" look very righteous, at least much of it. His representatives will not be evil-looking men with sneering faces and bone-chilling laughter like characters from a horror movie, but rather they will be people who look very righteous, clean-cut. smiling, speaking words of peace and love. Satan's message will claim to be from God, and may even sound like it came from God. It will say all the things that a lover of God might want to hear.
"But wait!" you object. "Satan does not want people to be good! Why would his representatives then be teaching people to be good, and to love God?"
Satan will teach people just enough righteousness to make them feel that they are being righteous. Just enough truth that they will assume that everything they are being taught is just as true. And then Satan will very slyly and surreptitiously slip in his own lies and evil teachings.
- He will teach people not to kill. But then he will teach some exceptions: it is not a sin to kill someone who teaches something you have been taught is false.
- He will teach people not to steal. But then he will teach that if something belongs to an enemy of your religion, you may "consecrate" it to your church by taking it.
- He will teach people not to commit adultery. But then he will say that as long as a man will "marry" other women, it is not really adultery, and, in fact, is more righteous than being married just to the first wife.
- He will teach you to seek knowledge and to love truth. But then he will tell you that what you are hearing from him is the test of all truth, and anything that contradicts it is evil and false.
- He will teach you to love your parents, your spouse and your children. But then he will teach you not to love them if they believe something different from what he says.
- He will teach you that lying is wrong. But then he will tell you that it is all right to deceive a little bit, if it will help you spread "the truth" (what he has taught you) and convince others to believe it.
- He will teach you that God loves everyone, and that you should also love everyone. But then he will tell you that you are really better than other (non-believing) people, and you should feel sorry for them. And you should try to convert them, because if you don't, he will "cast them out."
- He will tell you that God will forgive your weaknesses and mistakes. But then he will tell you that you will be forgiven only if you obey him to the letter. And especially only if you pay a lot of money to his representatives.
To put it very succinctly: Satan will tell a thousand truths to pass off a single lie. He will get people to do a few good deeds so that he can get them to do a little evil, and he will have brainwashed them so that they no longer can recognize the evil. In fact, he is so good at brainwashing that many of his servants do not even realize who their master is, and if you were to suggest it to them they would firmly - and very sincerely - deny it.(If you are familiar with Mormon teachings and history, you will recognize many of these items.)
So, how can one determine whether representatives of a church (or a prophet, or a religion) are from Satan?
The only tool that only Satan uses and that God does not use is the lie (according to Scripture):
This means that you can determine whether someone who claims to represent God really is or is not of God: if he lies to you, he is not of God, since God and the servants of God do not lie. They have no need to lie. Only the servants of Satan need to lie.
- No lie is of the truth. 1 John 2:21
- God cannot lie. Titus 1:2; Enos 1:6,, Ether 3:12
- All liars will be punished in the lake of fire and brimstone (that is, they belong with Satan). Rev 21:8
- Satan is the father of all lies. 2 Nephi 2:18, Moses 4:4, John 8:44
- If anyone teaches other than "by the spirit of truth" he is not of God. D&C 50:17-18
- It is "contrary to the order of heaven" for a servant of God to deceive. D&C 129:7
And that makes perfect sense. It is almost a tautology to say that the Truth cannot be a Lie.
Of course there are many religious assertions that are impossible to verify, to check whether they are true or false. How can we verify a claim that Grandmother is now heaven because of her faith? How can we verify that God does not want us to drink coffee, or that being baptized cleanses us of our sins? We cannot. Those are unverifiable assertions. They may be true, and they may be false.
But in Mormonism there are many claims and assertions made by the church and its prophets and its missionaries which CAN be verified. If any of those assertions are lies, then the church is not of God. And, if you believe in Satan, you would be justified in concluding that Mormonism is really Satan's church, not God's.
What Mormon claims can be tested as to their truth? The list could be quite long, but here is a start (NONE of these Mormon claims are true - they ALL have been proven false):
Also, the history of Mormonism as presented by the church in its official publications is a product of careful editing, amending, doctoring, deletions and forgeries - all done so that the unpleasant parts of church history will not be known generally. To put it bluntly: the church lies about its past. Not only that, but "lying for the Lord" has been standard practice in Mormonism, especially among its leaders, since the very beginning. For a few examples, see "Mormon Lying".
- The Book of Mormon is a history of precolumbian peoples of America.
- The Book of Abraham was written by Abraham.
- Joseph Smith's account of his "first vision" is historically accurate.
- Mormon doctrine is consistent, and not self-contradictory.
- The president of the Mormon church cannot lead the church astray, and no president ever has.
- Mankind originated in Missouri about six thousand years ago (at Adam-ondi-Ahman).
- Noah's ark and the Great Flood (covering the whole earth) are historical facts.
- Whenever a Mormon prophet makes a prophecy, it will come to pass.
- The Mormon church is one of the fastest-growing religions in the world.
ConclusionSo the test is rather simple: a servant of God will not be lying to you. If he claims to be from God, but he isn't telling you the truth, he's more likely from Satan than from God, no matter what he says or what he thinks about who his Master is.
And, of course, a servant of Satan will tell you that HE is from God, but his critics are from Satan. So just check the facts, and see who is lying.
Side note on the belief in Satan and the name "Lucifer":The Judeo-Christian idea of a single, powerful head devil, whose purpose was to thwart the work of God (a sort of counterweight to the monotheistic God, almost equally powerful, equally omniscient, equally omnipresent), is a relatively late development. That notion did not exist in early Judaism. The "Satan" of the early Old Testament period was only a kind of prosecuting attorney, who at judgment would try to convince God to condemn the soul being judged. Only after the return from the Babylonian Captivity (late sixth century B.C.) did Satan begin to be seen as God's almost-equal enemy, probably under the influence of Babylonian and Zoroastrian (Persian) beliefs in the duality of good and evil, represented by a good god and an evil god. To put it bluntly, the present Christian/Mormon idea of "the devil" is of pagan origin.
The idea that the devil's name is "Lucifer" is of even later origin, and is based on a mistranslation.
The name Lucifer appears in Mormon scripture at 2 Nephi 24:12, copied from Isaiah 14:12, as translated in the KJV: "How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning!" The problem is a reliance by the King James translaters on Jerome's Latin version from the 4th century A.D (!).
The only place the word "Lucifer" occurs in the entire Bible is in the King James Version at this passage. Other more modern translations do not have "Lucifer" there (or anywhere at all), but translate the word correctly as "day-star," "star of the morning" or "morning star."
This passage, when read in context, is addressed to the king of Babylon, who was very proud and haughty and surrounded in worldly glory, but who was to be destroyed. "Lucifer" is used in Jerome's Latin (and, following Jerome, in the King James Version) to translate the Hebrew word 'helel', which means "morning star" (i.e., the planet Venus). The Hebrew root 'h-l-l' means "shine" or "boast," so it is probably a taunting pun in the original Isaiah, written in Hebrew. There were two Greek names for the planet, both similar: either 'heos-phoros' meaning "dawn-bringer," or 'phos-phoros' meaning "light-bringer." In the Septuagint (Greek) translation of this passage, probably made in the first or second century B.C., the Hebrew 'helel' was translated with the Greek word 'heos-phoros.' When Jerome translated the Bible into Latin, he used the Septuagint as his source and simply translated the Greek word for Venus into the Latin name of that planet, which is an exact translation of the Greek 'phos-phoros': luci-fer, from the Latin roots 'luc-' "light" and 'fer-' "bring, bear, carry."
It was not until well into the Christian era that the idea arose that "Lucifer" was a name, and that the verse applied to Satan and not to the king of Babylon. It is probably influenced by the (erroneous) assumption that Luke 10:18 (saying that Satan fell as lightning from heaven) is a reference to the Isaiah passage.
Oddly, the only other place in the Bible where the term "morning star" ('phosphoros') is used is at 2 Peter 1:19, where it refers to Jesus!
Revelations 2:28 and 22:16 also refer to the "morning star," meaning Jesus, but use a different Greek phrase made up of the Greek words for "morning" and "star." One verse promises the "morning star" as a reward to the faithful; the latter verse is Jesus' saying "I Jesus ... am the root and offspring of David, and the bright and morning star."
This error is compounded in Mormon theology, with Lucifer appearing as a character in the endowment ceremony in the Mormon temple.
For without [the Holy City] are ... murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.
- Revelation 22:15
Oftentimes, to win us to our harm,
The instruments of darkness tell us truths;
Win us with honest trifles, to betray 's
In deepest consequence.
- Shakespeare, MacbethWith devotion's visage and pious action we do sugar o'er the devil himself. - Thomas Fuller (1608 - 1661)