I referenced this verse in talking about the Great Salt Lake and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS): Then Jesus asked, "What is the kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it to? It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds perched in its branches." (Luke 13.18-19)
I noticed the birds flocking around the Lake, attracted by the only forms of life in the lake: brine flies and brine shrimp. At the Lake's visitor center, there is a lot of information about these birds. One thing I noticed is that every bird listed is a member of the Old Testament's "unclean" list. I tied that to the verse above. One of the most common interpretations of that verse is that it is a warning. The mustard plant is a small bush. But here it grows out of control, to be a spreading tree, which attracts many birds. Many of them can be evil. The Bible talks about many different birds. But in general, when it refers to flocks of birds, it's a sign of evil. For example, in Jesus' parable of the sower, a flock of birds of the air snatch up the seed.
I mention the birds not to make a point, but to explain how my haggard mind began to tie the Salt Lake and the Mormons together. The Great Salt Lake is beautiful from a distance. Blue water reflecting the distant mountain ranges. Closer to the lake, the haze can enhance the photo opportunities. But when you get on the shore, you smell the rot of dead brine flies. In the water you see the pollutants floating, and the dross-covered bottom. If the wind and temperature are wrong, you're choked by the heavy salt air. The beauty of the lake hides the truth. Scientists will point out that it's no "dead sea," since it's loaded with algae and bacteria, plus brine shrimp and brine flies which birds are attracted to. But for all practical purposes, it's dead. No fish. No frogs. No beaver or muskrat or otters.
From a distance and on the surface, the Mormon Church looks very attractive. They use the name of Jesus in their name. They claim to have faith in Jesus Christ, and to follow the Bible. But a closer looks reveals the truth.
The Bible isn't good enough for the Mormons. Their founder, Joseph Smith, Jr., claimed to have been given some gold plates with strange writing, which he interpreted into the Book of Mormon. They consider it to be scripture. I guess they just ignore Proverbs: Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Do not add to his words, or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar. (Proverbs 30.5-6)
In Genesis, God says, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness...." (Genesis 1:26) The Mormons teach that they can be gods themselves, and rule over their own planets. That means God must have been a man himself somewhere, and earned this planet to rule. He's not the creator of the universe. The Mormons have made God in their image.
To the Mormons, the sacrifice of Jesus Christ is insufficient for salvation. It was just a beginning. To really be saved, they have to do more works, like serve as "missionaries." Be married. Be married in the Temple. And on and on. But the truth is, salvation cannot be earned by anything you do. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2.8-9)
The Mormon church officially rejected polygamy about 100 years ago, but only because they were pressured by society, and the practice was outlawed by the government. Practiced by Smith all their "elders" and "prophets" until the early 20th century, they received "new revelation" that polygamy should not be practiced. But it is still taught. They can't do it on earth, but they will in their heaven. And I have known Mormon men who "practiced" polygamy by having extramarital affairs. Officially approved or not, they justified it by their church's teachings.
The Mormon church taught until 1978 that people of African descent were of Cain's seed. Their skin was colored as a punishment and a sign. Though the LDS church didn't practice discrimination in membership, no person of Cain's seed could be a priest. This was taught by Brigham Young, one of their greatest "prophets." In 1978 they changed that position, having received "new revelation."
Throughout their history, the Mormons have claimed "new revelation" in order to change their teachings and practices. Amazingly, they only get this "new revelation" when political pressure is applied. That's OK, though, because their god is made in their image, and can change at their will. But the one and only true God doesn't change. Neither does His Word, His Law, nor His desires for us. Besides His warnings not to change or add to His Word, He said, "I the Lord do not change." Malachi 3.6. The true Church can't operate on "new revelation," but the Mormons have no problem with it.
And I'm just scratching the surface.
From the outside looking in, the LDS church can be attractive. It has a beautiful temple. It makes attractive appeals to people. But inside, it's like the Lake. What awaits people inside its walls is death.
The true Church must wake up and get out of its own walls. Not with show and entertainment as so many do, but with truth and conviction led by love. If it doesn't, the people outside are easy prey for the cults. And who will ultimately be held responsible for them?