Other Side of Heaven
A Mormon Propaganda Movie
I just attended a movie called the Other Side of Heaven. If you are like me, discount healing you are always looking for any movie that may promise something redeeming. The title of the movie attracted me at first, because it sounded very tame. I was even impressed with the movie PG review in the newspaper. It read, “John Groberg, a farm kid from Idaho Falls, crosses an ocean to become a missionary in the remote and exotic Tongan Islands during the 1950’s.” How could I go wrong with such a movie? When I arrived at the theatre and sat down, I was immediately surprised because there were no coming attractions to muddle through; the movie began immediately. “Unusual,” I told my wife; I have never been to a movie where I did not have to sit through a parade of up and coming “junk.” After only a few minutes into the movie, I realized, though, I was watching the life story of John Groberg, a Mormon missionary. Of course, the film did not make this obvious until the half way point. Overall, the movie was quite moral, and void of the traditional garbage values of Hollywood. As the movie concluded, John Groberg, the Mormon missionary, was, of course, a spiritual hero. The movie was based on a true story, which means that some or several scenes appearing in the film were true. I cannot speak to the accuracy of the film as it relates to actual events, however, because of my own studies and personal back-ground with Mormonism, some of the scenes did not ring true for me. In the midst of the story’s presentation, I had to keep reminding myself that Mormons do not embrace Christ and salvation as the Bible teaches, but rely on a gospel that was birthed out of the book of Mormon. No matter how well this movie depicted John’s faith and humanitarian work with the islanders, the gospel he was compelled to preach is false (Romans 10:2-4). I believe John did a great work meeting these islander’s needs, but what he taught them out of the book of Mormon could never lead them to salvation.
In order to prove my point, here are some basic beliefs and teachings Mormon missionaries would be obliged to teach at some point on a mission. Much of this material was taken from Dr
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. Stan Fleming’s book, the “Gate Breakers.” I would suggest you purchase his book; he is from Idaho and pastors in a “hot bed” of Mormonism.
The Bible and the Book of Mormon
Mormons use the Bible, but the book of Mormon supersedes the Bible as their most reliable source of God’s revelation and spiritual understanding. The Mormons, according to Fleming, do not recognize the Bible as the infallible Word of God. Their eighth article of faith reads, “We believe the Bible to be the Word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the Word of God.” The Bible takes second place to the Book of Mormon according to one of its prophets because the Bible has been “mutilated, changed, and corrupted.” (The Bible Alone, an Insufficient Guide, pages 44-47 by the Mormon Prophet Orson Pratt.)
According to my recollection during the movie, the book of Mormon was never mentioned, highlighted, or used as a source of reference. The only scene the moviemakers highlighted was a beach setting that pictured John intensely studying, translating, and using the Bible as his sole text. If this were true in John’s missionary work, then he did not follow the perceived practice of using the book of Mormon.
Joseph Smith’s Priesthood
The founder of the Mormon Church was Joseph Smith. According to Smith’s revelations, he received an Aaronic Priesthood from God in 1829 and since the 12 apostles had all died, God responded by continuing their work through Joseph Smith and eleven other apostles Smith would choose at a later time. This heavenly mission, according to the Mormon accounts, was conferred upon Joseph Smith by no less than Peter, James and John themselves, who miraculously appeared at his coronation.
Believing that John Groberg fulfilled his role as a true Mormon missionary, teaching about Joseph Smith surely would have been included in his teaching to the islanders. Yet the filmmakers did not even mention Joseph Smith in their depiction of this man’s ministry.
Mormon salvation is based on many things, but mainly good works. The formula for their salvation is faith, plus baptism, plus obedience to the laws and ordinances, plus membership in the Mormon Church. The demonstration of good works was especially essential to Mormon salvation. John’s own sacrifice with these Island people was a huge work that not only validated his salvation, but also elevated his heavenly standing, which is very important to a serious Mormon.
Mormons claim a faith in Jesus Christ that seemingly emulates a Christian’s faith. They even pray in His name, and call Him the Son of God. But their faith proclamation of Jesus is quite different, because it is a necessary work they must do in order to insure their current church standing and their future heavenly godhood. The Bible simply teaches us to repent of our sins, and ask Christ to be the Lord of our lives.
In this film the subject of the Mormon way of salvation was nowhere to be found. The only real reference to Mormon doctrine came from another Christian missionary on the island who openly pronounced John and his Mormonism as false. This Christian missionary was characterized as very unloving and quite judgmental. But regardless of how this Christian missionary acted toward John, he was right in what he said; John was a false teacher, promoting a works salvation that could save no one. The Scriptures are very clear; salvation is by faith, and faith alone (Ephesians 2:8-9). Any resulting work can only come from a heart of love, which is motivated from an indwelling Christ (Galatians 2:20).
The movie ended on a high Mormon note. John’s work as a missionary was greatly praised. Even the Christian missionary who battled him throughout his tenure finally decreed on his deathbed that John was sent from God to do a mighty work. I hope this missionary confession was a producer’s story-ending embellishment rather than the truth. Validating a false religion on your deathbed is not the last words any Christian would want to leave as his last testament. I do not recommend the movie, because I believe Other Side of Heaven is intended to play down the distinctives that have historically set Mormonism apart from Christianity. Instead a picture of spiritual equality and brotherhood to the Christian community is fostered. Don’t be fooled, even though Mormons use the same Christian words and phrases, their core beliefs are not supported by the Bible. Read Dr. Fleming’s comments about Mormon core thinking at the end of this article and compare their doctrines with what you know about the Bible.
There will be many cults your children will encounter during their life time. It is your responsibility as a parent to teach them the differences between what cults believe and what the Bible teaches. Team up with some other families in a study on the false teachings of other religions. Better yet, convince your pastor to start a church family study on the cults.
In your teachable moment today, pick the salvation plan of one cult and compare it to what the Bible teaches. Proceed to your back yard where a garden of flowers is blooming. But before you do, buy a plastic flower that blends in with your garden. Put it in the garden, right before you begin your teaching. As you are walking to the garden with your children, tell them there is a fake flower in the garden. If they guess which flower is fake, they will get a reward. They have to guess at first, though, from a distance. Hopefully, they will not really be able to guess correctly; but give them all a chance anyway. Move a little closer; and then read aloud the parable of the tares in Matthew 13. Ask them to identify some of the different parts of the parable. Then move them a step closer to the flowerbed. Keep repeating this process (guessing, interpreting the parable) until they get to the flowers. Then have them touch all the flowers. I could be wrong, but I think they will finally be able to pick out the fake flower. As you conclude your time with them, tell your children that from a distance, cults look like the real thing, as do many things that are wrong. But if they become students of the Word, they will be able to see clearly what is right and wrong. Reading and studying the Bible is like walking up to the garden for a better look and feel. Then in your prayer time ask God to make them as discerning as the angels in the parable of the tares; able to pick out the wheat from the tares.
Romans 10:2-4 2 For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge. 3 For not knowing about God’s righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God.4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.
Ephesians 2:8-9 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.
Galatians 2: 20 “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.
What is the core of Mormon doctrine?
(Gate Breakers, Dr. Stan Fleming, Page 66-67)
“While there are many contradictions in Mormonism, it is important for Christians to gain a basic understanding as to how all their doctrines flow together. Mormonism teaches that countless gods, who once were human like us, rule trillions of planets scattered through the cosmos.
They say that on one of these planets, an unidentified god and one of his goddess wives conceived a spirit child named Elohim. This spirit child was later born to human parents who gave him a physical body.
Through obedience to Mormon teaching, death, and resurrection, he proved himself worthy and was elevated to godhood as his father before him. Mormons believe that Elohim is their heavenly Father and he lives with his many wives on a planet near a mysterious star called Kolob. Here, the god of Mormonism and his wives, through endless celestial sex, produced billions of spirit children.
To decide their destiny, the head of the Mormon gods called the great council meeting. Both of Elohim’s eldest sons were there, Lucifer and his brother, Jesus.
A plan was presented to build planet Earth, where the spirit children would be sent to take on mortal bodies and learn good from evil. Lucifer stood and made his bid for becoming savior of this new world. Wanting the glory for himself he planned to force everyone to become gods. Opposing the idea, the Mormon Jesus suggested giving man his freedom of choice, as on other planets. The vote that followed approved the proposal of the Mormon Jesus, who would become savior of the planet Earth.
Enraged, Lucifer cunningly convinced one-third of the spirits destined for Earth to fight and revolt. Thus, Lucifer became the devil and his followers the demons. Sent to this world in spirit form they would forever be denied bodies of flesh and bone.
Those who remained neutral in battle were cursed to be born with black skin. This is the Mormon explanation for the Negro race. The spirits that fought most valiantly against Lucifer would be born into Mormon families on planet Earth. These would be the lighter skinned people, or “white and delightsome”, as the Book of Mormon described them.
Early Mormon prophets taught that Elohim and one of his goddess wives came to Earth as Adam and Eve to start the human race. Thousands of years later, Elohim in human form once again journeyed to Earth from the star base Kolob, this time to have physical relations with the Virgin Mary in order to provide Jesus with a physical body.
Mormon Apostle Orson Hyde taught that after Jesus Christ grew to manhood he took at least three wives: Mary, Martha, and Mary Magdelene. Through these wives, the Mormon Jesus supposedly fathered a number of children before he was crucified. Mormon founder Joseph Smith is supposedly one of these descendants.
According to the book of Mormon, after his resurrection, Jesus came to the Americans to preach to the Indians, who the Mormons believe, are really Israelites. Thus, the Jesus of Mormonism established the church in the Americas as he had in Palestine. By the year 421 A.D., the dark-skinned Israelites, known as Lamanites, had destroyed all of the white skinned Nephites in a number of great battles. The Nephite’s records were supposedly written on golden plates buried in the Hill Cumorah by Moroni, the last living Nephite.
About 1400 years later a young treasure-seeker named Joseph Smith, who was known for his tall tales, claimed to have uncovered the same gold plates near his home in up-state New York. His is now honored by Mormons as a prophet because he claimed to have had visions from the spirit world in which he was commended to organize the Mormon Church because all Christian’s creeds were an abomination. It was Joseph Smith who originated most of the peculiar doctrines, which millions of Mormons today believe to be true.
By maintaining a rigid code of financial and moral requirements, and through performing secret temple rituals for themselves and the dead, the Latter-day Saints hope to prove their worthiness and thus become gods. The Mormons teach that everyone must stand at the final judgment, before Joseph Smith, the Mormon Jesus, and Elohim.”