“Whether you feel like a hero or not, you are one! You are the hero of your own life’s story!
These are the words of Apostle Dieter F. Uchtdorf written to LDS teenagers in the February 2021 edition of Youth Magazine. Dieter, a former second counselor to the First Presidency and current member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, has a harrowing life story. He survived the Allied bombing raids that pummeled the Third Reich, escaped Soviet occupation of Eastern Germany via mountain pass, and met the arduous demands of flight training for both the German and U.S. Air Forces (his abilities as an aviator are world-renowned). Then, after climbing the corporate ladder to a high-ranking position with Lufthansa, he left it in 1996 to become a General Authority in the LDS Church.
When Dieter Uchtdorf tells LDS young people that they can “be the hero” of their own life story, he seems to speak with obvious authority. I would encourage you to read Dieter’s article in full – it’s truly thought-provoking. There is, however, another reason I think you should read the piece – it’s thoroughly and inalterably Mormon. If you want to see all the good and bad of Mormonism in one place, I can think of no better example.
An Inspirational Story
Dieter’s life is inspirational in many ways. His talent and dedication took him from a kid who barely made it out of both World War II and the Cold War to the top of a highly competitive field. And now, he seems to have a genuine desire to encourage the next generation. His religious service – even into his 80s – is a rebuke to many born-again Christians who fritter away their golden years in pursuits far less noble.
A Working Theology
Dieter seems to genuinely believe his premise. You – yes, you! – can be the hero of your own story. And why shouldn’t he? Dieter belongs to a religious system that teaches the doctrine of eternal progression, which affirms everyone’s potential to become gods and goddesses (D&C 132:20). How do they arrive at deification? By adding Mormonism’s many good works to the grace of God (2 Nephi 25:23).
That begs the question – How much grace and how much works? What’s the ratio? Well, if we take the title of his article, “You Are the Hero of Your Own Story,” with any seriousness at all, we’re left to conclude that grace is a two-bit player when compared to individual effort. Dieter proclaims with great authority that you – not Heavenly Father, not the Holy Spirit, not even Jesus Christ – stand as the lone hero of your life story. Dieter grants that people provide guidance at key moments and that Heavenly Father can fortify you with the knowledge that you are His child. But as for grace, Dieter doesn’t even mention the word. At the bottom of it all, you are the decisive factor. All praise and glory to … you.
A Condemning Contrast
Let’s take a moment to compare Dieter Uchtdorf’s teaching with the Bible’s teaching about Christ. Jesus was “despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised” (Isaiah 53:3). Even though Jesus possessed all the prerogatives of deity, He “did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:6-8).
Jesus would never have called himself (or any other human, for that matter) a hero, for he said, “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me” (John 8:54). Jesus’s highest earthly aspiration was that God would glorify the Son so that the Son could glorify God the Father all the more (John 17:1). The New Testament is clear – God the Son is content not to magnify Himself, but to allow God the Father to do the work of glorification (John 13:31).
When we compare Dieter’s proclamation with the plain teaching of the New Testament, we can clearly see all that is wrong with Mormonism. The New Testament preaches the grace of a Divine Messiah who became a man to save a race of sinners. Mormonism proclaims that sinful man, by virtue of his own effort, becomes God. In Christianity, God becomes a man to save mankind thus glorifying God. In Mormonism, mankind works hard to become God thus glorifying man.
I haven’t highlighted Dieter’s article to unveil some hidden LDS secret, but simply to show it for what it is – to let Mormonism speak for itself. It’s a religion that has “exchanged the glory of God for images resembling mortal man” (Romans 1:23); it has “worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator” (Romans 1:25). In doing so, Latter-day Saints labor under the condemnation of God (Romans 2:2) and face the possibility of God’s permanent wrath (Colossians 3:6).
Dear Christian, the stakes are eternally high. Christ has commissioned you – yes, you! – to make disciples of your LDS friends by teaching them Christ’s life-saving Word (Matthew 28:19-20). It is our great calling in life not to become heroes, but sacrificial servants (Philippians 2:5-7) who deny ourselves, to take up our cross daily, and follow Christ (Luke 9:23).