Mormonism: “That the Living May Hear from the Dead”

Happy New Year to everyone! Looking back, 2014 was an amazing year! It’s the time of year where many people make New Year’s resolutions, some they end up keeping, and some which are tossed to the wayside. For us Christians, growing in our relationship with God is something that we want to do each and every day, and of course, every new year.  In order for us to have a relationship with some other human, it has to be mutual. If I am friends with someone, I communicate with them, and they communicate back. This is the same with God. If I talk to God through prayer, it would be ineffectual if He did not talk back, or at least if I didn’t expect Him to talk back.

Many denominations believe that God does not give revelations nowadays, nor does He speak to us. Hearing from God is the reason why I got saved in the first place and found a relationship with Him! Since God talks to us, we live our lives desiring to hear from Him, whether it is the rare audible voice of His, in the stillness of His presence, through other people speaking the words of God into our lives, or through His Word, the Bible.

Mormons desire to hear from God, as they claim to have a testimony of the Book of Mormon via the “burning in the bosom” feeling by the Holy Spirit. Mormons have a unique past when it comes to claiming to hear from God, but also claiming to hear from those who are dead.

On April 6, 1853, Elder Parley P. Pratt (pictured below) gave an oration at the northeast corner of the future Salt Lake Temple site in Salt Lake City. This was done after the LDS Twelve Apostles, the First Presidency of the Seventies, and the Presidency of the Elders’ Quorum had laid the “Corner Stone” for the new temple. His address was entitled, “Spiritual Communication.” This address is written in Journal of Discourses, volume 2, pages 50-54, Millennium Edition, Temple Hill Books).

Parley P. Pratt was ordained as an LDS Apostle in 1835, and lived until 1857. In his address to the crowd of Latter-day Saints, he said boldly,

“An important point is gained, a victory won, and a countless host of opposing powers vanquished, on one of the leading or fundamental truths of ‘Mormon’ philosophy, viz.–‘That the living may hear from the dead.” (Journal of Discourses 2:52)

Speaking of this philosophy of hearing from the dead, Pratt says,

“The spiritual philosophy of the present age was introduced to the modern world by Joseph Smith… Who communicated with our great modern Prophet [Joseph Smith], and revealed through him as a medium, the ancient history of a hemisphere, and the records of the ancient dead? Moroni, who had lived upon the earth fourteen hundred years before. Who ordained Joseph the Prophet, and his fellow-servant, to the preparatory Priesthood, to baptize for remission of sins? John the Baptist, who had been beheaded! Who ordained our first founders to the Apostleship, to hold the keys of the kingdom of God, in these times of restoration? Peter, James, and John, from the eternal world. Who instructed him in the mysteries of the kingdom, and in all things pertaining to Priesthood, law, philosophy, sacred architecture, ordinances, sealings, anointings, baptisms for the dead, and in the mysteries of the first, second, and third heavens, many of which are unlawful to utter? Angels and spirits from the eternal worlds.” (Journal of Discourses, 2:51)

Elder Pratt adds a chilling statement after this by saying,

“Again–How do the [Latter-day] Saints expect the necessary information by which to complete the ministrations for the salvation and exaltation of their friends who have died? By one holding the keys of the oracles of God, as a medium through which the living can hear from the dead.”

Fourth Mormon Prophet Wilford Woodruff said to fellow Mormons, “The dead will be after you, they will seek after you as they have after us in [the] St. George [temple].” (Journal of Discourses 19:229)

Clearly, the Bible forbids talking with spirits who mimic dead people. Obviously dead people don’t come back in séances, an evil spirit comes in the form of a certain person, often deceiving those who cling to its gestures. Deuteronomy 18:11 tells us that it is detestable unto God for people to consult the dead. God has provided His Son, Jesus Christ, to be the mediator between God and man, meaning, we can speak directly to God, through His Son! (1 Timothy 2:5)

Men have conversed with angels before, such as in several stories in the Bible, in both Old and New Testaments. Look it up sometime. These are angels from God though. Galatians 1:8-9 warns us about believing something that a fallen angel can say to us, bringing about a perverted gospel, such as Mormonism. This is where the angel Moroni comes in. Joseph Smith may have had an angel or spirit appear to him, but we are to TEST the spirits, to see if what they are saying is in line with God’s Word and God’s will. Moroni’s message was not from the Lord. 1 John 4:1 says, “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”


Elder Pratt says,

“If, one the other hand, we deny the philosophy or the fact of spiritual communication between the living and those who have died, we deny the very foundation from which emanated the great truths or principles which were the foundation of both the ancient and modern Church.” (Ibid, 51)

In other words, to believe in Mormonism, yet deny its foundation on Joseph Smith talking to the dead, is inconceivable.

Pratt goes on to say that, yes, there are

“means of… judging between the lawful and the unlawful mediums or channels of communication–between the holy and impure, the truths and falsehoods, thus communicated…

…The words of the holy Prophet in our text, while they admit the principle of the living hearing from the dead, openly rebuke, and sharply reprove, persons for seeking to those who have familiar spirits, and to wizards that peep and mutter, and remind us that a people should seek unto their God for the living to hear from the dead!”

“The people and nation… began to adopt some of the same principles of spiritual philosophy, although in a perverted sense of the word.” (Ibid, 2:52)

In other words, Elder Parley P. Pratt is saying there are good forms of spirit mediums and bad ones. That is like saying there are good witches and bad ones, like in the Wizard of Oz, Lord of the Rings, or Harry Potter. There is not a good form of necromancy, which is consulting the dead. There are no good wizards and bad ones, upright witches and unholy ones. All witches, wizards, and psychics, and those who consult the dead are not of the Lord.

Elder Pratt continues in his teaching by saying that you can only attain the proper way to hear from the dead if you:

1. Believe in modern revelation

2. Do not remain in your sins

3. Believe that Jesus Christ is the only name given under heaven. “None, then, can be lawful mediums, who are unbelievers in Jesus Christ.” (Ibid)

Mormons believe, as Pratt states in his address, that the

“Lord has appointed a Holy Priesthood on the earth, and in the heavens, and also in the world of spirits;… and has committed to this Priesthood the keys of holy and divine revelation, and of correspondence, or communication between angels, spirits, and men, and between all the holy departments, principalities, and powers of His government in all worlds…

“And again–The Lord has ordained that all the most holy things pertaining to the salvation of the dead, and all the most holy conversations and correspondence with God, angels, and spirits, shall be had only in the sanctuary of His holy Temple on the earth…” (Ibid, 2:52-53)

Parley P. Pratt gives the example of how the prophets Isaiah and Micah in the Old Testaments say that the nations in the last days would go up to the temple to learn the ways of God. Mormons interpret this to mean their temples that have been built. Christians view this as an event that hasn’t happened, as our physical bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit, and there will one day be a Jewish temple built again in Jerusalem and completed before Christ’s Second Coming. Pratt says that we “would be utterly unable to learn the ways of the Lord to perfection, in any other place except in a holy Temple erected among the mountains.”

“Ye Latter-day Saints! Ye thousands of the hosts of Israel! Ye are assembled here today, and have laid these Corner Stones, for the express purpose that the living might hear from the dead, and that we may prepare a holy sanctuary, where ‘the people may seek unto their God, for the living to hear from the dead,’ and that heaven and earth, and the world of spirits may commune together.

“This day’s work, in laying these Corner Stones for a Temple amid the mountains, is one advancing step in the progress of the necessary preparations for these mighty revolutions.” (Ibid, 53-54).
The Salt Lake Temple’s foundation is literally hinged on the concept of the living hearing from the dead. Mormonism’s foundation is therefore cracked to the core, because that foundation is very wrong and seriously deadly. To Christians, Jesus Christ is our cornerstone, (Matthew 21:42 and Ephesians 2:20), and He is our medium to our Heavenly Father! Jesus Christ is the only one who is authorized to speak to the dead. John 5:25 says, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.”
The cornerstone of the Mormon Church is that the living may hear from the dead, but the cornerstone of Christianity is that the living may hear from the living God and only Him! We are not to seek after our dead, like Joseph Smith said was our greatest commandment that we were given. (See Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, (2011), 468–478) The greatest gift is to love God and love others!
We are sinful human beings, but by following Christ and believing in Him and what He did for us on the cross of Calvary, we accept His grace by having faith in Him! He is our Mediator, and He alone shall we speak to when we pray or seek guidance from the spirit world!

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