A Christian Looks at Mormonism
by William J. Mitchell
(Copyright © William J. Mitchell, April 1977)
13th Printing - 1993
TABLE OF CONTENTS
1. Who are the Mormons?
2. Who was Joseph Smith?
3. Why are the members of this Church called Mormons?
4. Do Mormons consider Smith to be a martyr?
5. Why did Joseph found his Church?
6. Some facts surrounding Smith's claim to a true heavenly vision
7. Could Smith have been a true prophet from God?
8. What were the Golden Plates?
9. What was the writing on the Plates?
10. Who else saw the plates besides Smith?
11. What happened to the Golden Plates?
12. How were the Golden Plates translated?
13. What is the Book of Mormon all about?
14. What difficulties does the Book of Mormon contain?
15. What other sacred books do the Mormons possess?
16. Don't the LDS accept and use the Christian Bible?
17. Do the LDS consider the Book of Mormon to be superior to the Christian Bible?
18. How does the Book of Abraham cast serious doubts on the claims of Smith?
19. Is Mormonism Christian?
20. What do the Mormons believe about God?
21. Who is this god assigned to our earth?
22. What do Mormons believe about the Trinity?
23. What do Mormons believe about Jesus Christ?
24. What do Mormons believe about the Holy Ghost?
25. What do Mormons believe about man?
26. What do Mormons believe about pre-existence?
27. How did the LDS position against the Negro originate?
28. What is the Mormon doctrine concerning the Negro and the priesthood?
29. Then the Mormon Church claims a priesthood?
30. Why do the Mormons practice a baptism for the dead?
31. Does not
32. What is the word of wisdom?
33. Does the Mormon Church believe in polygamy?
34. Does the Bible contradict Smith's teaching on polygamy?
35. Do Mormons believe that Jesus Christ was married?
36. LDS claim that it is absolutely essential that the true
37. What about John the Apostle?
38. Could the Mormon Church be the "true church" of Christ?
39. What did Jesus have to say concerning His Church?
40. Hasn't the
41. Why are the Mormons so successful in making converts?
42. Is Joseph Smith more important than Jesus Christ?
The origin of this booklet was this way. Two delightful, young Mormon missionaries came to my door and asked if they might talk to me about their religion. They were very kind and gracious and so the meeting was a most pleasant one. During our conversation I turned down their offer to take a course of instructions with a view towards joining the Mormon Church.
In the first place I was quite satisfied with my present religious position. Secondly I had little desire to know about Mormonism. As they were leaving they again invited me to study their beliefs. I did not accept the offer until two years later when I had a long talk with two more of these missionaries. So impressed was I with their zeal and conviction that I began a study of this Church. Some of my friends asked me to publish the results of my research so that other Christians could share in them.
In order to be as fair as possible, I went to the writings of Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, other Mormon scholars as well as the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, Pearl of Great Price, the Christian Bible and some non-Mormon works which were very scholarly and fair.* Not even half way through my studies, which had me consulting with more missionaries, Mormon Bishops, Instructors and Mormons from all walks of life, I knew I could never embrace Mormonism.
Twenty five thousand young men of the Mormon Church are out in the world going from door to door seeking converts. They invite an investigation of their beliefs. This I have done with the utmost sincerity and with a desire to get at the truth.
I have no quarrel with Joseph Smith, Brigham Young or the Mormon people as persons. Many Mormons live beautiful lives with a strong ethical code and put to shame many a Christian. What I am mainly concerned about is the theological structure of the Mormon Church, and as prophets, what Smith and Young actually taught.
I have covered most of the main teachings of the Church and have arranged the material in a question and answer style in order to present the matter as simply as possible to the reader who knows nothing or very little about Mormonism.
All Bible quotations are from the King James Version since this is the only English translation the Mormons will accept.
*Of the 180 references in this work: 100 are from authoritative or scholarly Mormon sources, 65 from the Bible and 15 from non-Mormon works.
1. WHO ARE THE MORMONS?
They are a religious group which claims almost four million members. Their Church was established in 1830 in
2. WHO WAS JOSEPH SMITH?
He was the founder of the Mormon Church. He was born of poor, farming parents in
3. WHY ARE THE MEMBERS OF THIS CHURCH CALLED MORMONS?
"Mormon" was the name of a prophet who supposedly lived on the American continent in ancient times. It is claimed that he compiled a set of records about his own people under the title Book of Mormon. Members of Joseph Smith's church are unofficially known as Mormons. It is a nickname which is almost universally used in referring to them and their Church. They don't mind the name at all. The Letters, L.D.S., Latter Day Saints, are also used when referring to this group.
4. DO MORMONS CONSIDER SMITH TO BE A MARTYR?
Yes they do. One of their scholars defines martyrdom as:
"the willing acceptance of death from the hands of wicked men rather than to forsake Christ and his gospel."
(Mormon Doctrine by Bruce McConkie 1966 p. 469)
I don't think it is an unfair question to ask how this definition of martyrdom can be applied to Smith's death since he went down in a hail of bullets as he fired his own six-shooter at his enemies, killing two and wounding one. It seems he was quite unwilling to give up his life in defense of his religious teachings. (History of the Church 1973 ed. Vol. 6, pp. 618-620 Vol. 7, p. 102)
Smith brought destruction upon himself when in revenge he ordered a printing press destroyed. It was owned by Mormons who opposed his teaching on polygamy and that there were many gods. Smith's death was indeed murder and entirely wrong, but he was not a "martyr."
The circumstances surrounding his death were far different from that of the deacon Stephen (Acts of Apostles 7: 59-60) who was the first martyr for Christ. There we read how he WILLINGLY and CALMLY gave up his life for his belief in Jesus and cried out forgiveness for his persecutors as they were killing him.
5. WHY DID JOSEPH FOUND HIS CHURCH?
Mormons do not believe that Smith founded their church. He is looked upon as the instrument God chose to reestablish His church here on earth. The LDS theory is that Christ did found His church in
Joseph's story is that he went into the woods when he was only fourteen years old to pray and to ask for divine guidance since he was troubled by all the religious unrest in his area. He claimed two "heavenly personages" visited him while he was praying: God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. Joseph asked them which church he ought to join. Jesus replied that he join none of them for they were all wrong; that all their doctrines were corrupt and an abomination in His eyes. (Pearl of Great Price, Joseph Smith 1968 ed. 2:19)
Three years later, on the night of September 21, 1823, while praying in his room, Smith said an angel appeared telling him that God had chosen him for a special work to do. The angel revealed the existence and whereabouts of a set of golden plates which Joseph was to unearth and translate into the Book of Mormon. This activity was to lead to the establishment or restoration of the true
6. SOME FACTS SURROUNDING SMITH'S CLAIM TO A TRUE HEAVENLY VISION
A. Smith's two visions came to him while he was alone. We only have his word for them. We are asked to believe that he was telling the truth. That Smith would tell the truth is obviously of great importance to an outsider inquiring about Mormonism.
A serious difficulty here is that three years after the supposed visits (1826) Joseph was brought to trial by his neighbors for being "a disorderly person and an imposter." The charge was that he was a "glass-looker" and that he fraudulently used a peep-stone (something like a crystal ball) to ascertain where hidden treasures lay buried on people's property. After due process the Court found Joseph guilty of the charges. This court proceeding and his conviction were denied by Joseph himself and the Mormon authorities for 140 years until a Wesley Walters discovered the original court-cost bill of the Judge, Albert Neeley. Its authenticity has been proven, and is now accepted by Mormon historians. Judge Neeley's bill is reproduced in the back of this booklet. [See Judge Neeley's trial bill]
In connection with the above trial another difficulty arises for the inquirer. According to the Court Record Joseph was digging for buried treasures and using a peep-stone in a hat to find such booty in 1826. He claimed that in 1823 an angel from heaven revealed to him the existence of a set of golden plates. So for three years he already knew about the plates buried in the ground. He also claimed the angel told him that he could not remove the plates from their burial place for four years until 1827. (Read
In his Writings, Joseph described what a marvelous spiritual experience he underwent at the visit of the angel and at hearing that God had chosen him for an important religious work. How then, could Joseph continue digging in the ground looking for buried treasure with the use of an occultic device (the peep-stone in the hat), when such activities eventually led to his conviction by a legitimate court for fraud? [See notes for Q 6-A]
B. Smith stated that his telling of the visit of the Father and the Son to him created a great sensation in his own town and throughout the surrounding countryside. He wrote:
"Men of high standing would take notice of me sufficient to excite the public mind against me and create hot persecution."
(Pearl of Great Price, Joseph Smith 2:22 and 25)
From Joseph's own description then, we get the picture of a young, innocent lad who is the center of a great religious controversy involving important people, and who suddenly finds himself the "talk of the town."
Yet in the town in which Joseph lived, the records show that no newspaper for that year carried any reports of Joseph's vision or of any notoriety or persecution he said he received as a result of telling about the visit of God to him. Now any inquirer would find this strange for a newspaper when such news was supposed to be the talk of the entire area!
C. In 1853 Smith's mother, Lucy, had printed her own version of the founding of the Mormon Church. In it she mentions her son's first vision but only by quoting from Joseph's own History of the Church. What is strange here is that in Lucy's first earlier handwritten draft, she never mentions the vision at all, a vision which according to her son received wide publicity at the time it happened, and today is considered by Mormons to be the foundation for the existence of the Mormon Church!
D. During the 1830's Smith's all important vision was not given general circulation. References to it do not appear in Mormon, non-Mormon, or even anti-Mormon publications. In fact most Mormons knew little, if anything about it. Again this is indeed strange to an outsider since the vision is so utterly important. (Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 1966 pp. 30-34)
E. Joseph Smith drew up three hand-written accounts of that first vision in the woods, and all three accounts of this single happening differ in a very fundamental detail.
In one description only one person appeared, the Lord, and Joseph was sixteen years old at the time. In another account many angels appeared and Joseph was fourteen years old. In the third account, Joseph claimed only two persons visited him, the Father and the Son. (Read Mormonism, Shadow or Reality? by the Tanners pp. 143-152 for the documentary evidence)
Any serious inquirer into Mormonism would have to take such contradictions seriously. Inaccuracies of lesser details related to the vision are indeed admissible as any fair-minded person would agree, but not such glaring contradictions concerning the very nature of the vision itself. If the Father and the Son, two persons, and only these two, had appeared to Joseph (as he later finally settled upon), why his confusion of mind as to who really did visit him from heaven?
F. The Mormon Church's first historian, Oliver Cowdery, wrote a history of the Church with the assistance of Joseph Smith himself. Cowdery does write of a vision Smith had but makes no mention about the appearance of the Father and the Son. Instead he writes that Joseph went into the woods to pray, desiring to know if God really existed. Then a messenger from heaven appeared to tell him his sins were forgiven. Now to an outsider this omission of the vision as Joseph understood it is difficult to accept since Smith assisted Cowdery in the writing of the first history of the Church. How could Cowdery have been permitted to write a different version of what happened in the woods?
G. Joseph claimed that it was in the Spring of 1820 that he received his first vision, and at that time there was a great religious revival going on in his home town and the surrounding area, saturating the countryside with much religious fervor and excitement. Scholars, however, have been unable to find any evidence of a revival for that year in Smith's home town of Palmyra, New York. Neither could a Mormon research team discover any valid evidence to prove that Smith's testimony was correct. (New Light on Mormon Origins From the Palmyra NY Revival by Wesley Walters 1976)
7. COULD SMITH HAVE BEEN A TRUE PROPHET FROM GOD?
A. The main biblical rule for ascertaining a true prophet from a false one is that the prophet's teaching must agree with known revelation, that is, with what was already handed down by God as absolutely essential for belief. (Deuteronomy 13: 1-5 II Timothy 4: 3-5)
Jesus was very careful to abide by this rule. He assured His listeners (Matthew 5: 17) that His mission on earth was not to destroy the basic truths of the Jewish religion, for example, the existence of a one, true immaterial God, not made of flesh and bones like man.
Even Paul to the Galatians (1: 7-9) warns his new Christian converts not to accept another gospel opposed to what he preached even if an angel from heaven were to preach it.
Now Joseph Smith taught doctrines which Jesus and Paul did not teach as part of true, Old Testament belief as well as true Christianity: the doctrine of many gods made up of flesh and bone, polygamy, and the pre-existence of souls. How then, could Joseph have been a true prophet from God since he violated this fundamental requisite for a genuine prophet?
B. Joseph also made some predictions about the future. In 1835 he predicted that in his own lifetime there would be a great gathering in Western Missouri of all the Mormon faithful before a new, huge Temple which was to be built for the event. Such a happening never came to pass. (Doctrine & Covenants Sec. 84: 1-6)
LDS say that Joseph predicted the United States Civil War. Yet thousands of Americans in 1832 already knew the war was coming just from their intelligent analysis of the current political situation over slavery and the theory of the State's rights. What is far more serious to the outsider here is that in connection with this prophecy Joseph predicted that the War would draw Great Britain and other nations into the conflict thereby causing great destruction and famine. Yet this never came to pass. (Doctrine & Covenants Sec. 87)
In 1835 Joseph prophesied the coming of the Lord in 1891 to end the kingdom of earth. This never occurred either. (History of the Church Vol. 2, p. 182)
To the sincere inquirer into Mormonism such predictions and their non-fulfillment is a serious difficulty. Joseph claimed the predictions came from God and he prefaced the information with such phrases as "Thus sayeth the Lord, " "The word of the Lord is..." (Deuteronomy 18: 22)
C. Finally, it is difficult to accept the Mormon belief that Joseph was a true prophet of God and presumably the last to be heard from, when for the true Christian it is very clearly stated in the New Testament that Jesus Christ is the last of a long line of prophets from God.
"God who at sundry times and in diverse manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son whom he hath appointed heir of all things."
(Epistle to the Hebrews 1: 1)
Therefore I respectfully submit that Joseph Smith could not have been a true prophet from God.
8. WHAT WERE THE GOLDEN PLATES?
They were, according to Smith, thin, about eight inches square and bound together with three big rings. A strange writing was engraved on them. Along with the plates, which were in a stone box, were a sword and breastplate to which were fastened two magic stones called Urim and Thummim. Smith said these two stones were to be used to translate into English the writing on the plates.
9. WHAT WAS THE WRITING ON THE PLATES?
No one knows to this day. Joseph called the writing Reformed Egyptian. We have only Smith's word for the authenticity of such a language.
10. WHO ELSE SAW THE PLATES BESIDES SMITH?
That there ever were a set of golden plates from God which Smith dug out of the earth seems very doubtful. Here are some facts one must consider before making a decision as to their actual existence.
A. Smith's mother, Lucy, never saw the plates for Joseph warned her that to look at them meant instant death.
B. Emma, Smith's wife, claimed she "saw" the plates but they were covered by a cloth.
C. Martin Harris, who was Joseph's secretary in the writing down of the translation, never got the chance to really see the plates although the two men worked in the same room. Joseph gave Harris the same warning: that the wrath of God would strike him down if he tried to see the plates.
D. Joseph claimed that one day he received a revelation from God that he must have three witnesses to prove the authenticity of the plates. (Doctrine & Covenants Sec. 5). Joseph chose Oliver Cowdery, Martin Harris and David Whitmer. He took the three men out into the woods where supposedly an angel showed them the plates.
E. Martin Harris was later questioned by a lawyer: "Did you see the plates with your bodily eyes?" Harris replied: "I did not see them as I do that pencil case, yet I saw them with the eyes of faith." (The Confusion of Tongues, Chas. W. Ferguson p. 371)
All three men told different stories as to what actually happened in the woods. All three later quarreled with Smith and left the church. Joseph described them as liars, forgerers, slander-bearers and thieves. Joseph even claimed that in July of 1828 he had received a revelation from God in which the Almighty described Martin Harris as wicked. (Doctrine & Covenants Sec. 3)
Joseph's assessment of the integrity of the three divinely appointed witnesses comes as a great surprise to a sincere inquirer. It is only fair to ask the following questions: How could God have chosen men of such evil character and reputation? Since Smith is supposed to be a true prophet of God, his evaluation of them had to be correct. How then could anyone take their testimony to the plates as trustworthy? Why is it that the three could not agree as to what actually took place in the woods? If they had been given a truly divine sign with the actual appearance to them of an angel from heaven, how could they have doubted Smith from that moment on? Cowdery and Harris were supposed to have returned to the Church. David Whitmer remained out. He claimed that he also was a true prophet from God and rejected Smith's later revelations. (Read Mormonism, Shadow or Reality? the Tanners, pp. 52-59 for a careful documentation on the witnesses)
F. Next Joseph produced eight more witnesses although there is no evidence that he did so with divine approval. Perhaps he was worried about the unreliability of the first three of whom he had such a low opinion. Of these eight witnesses, four of them were Whitmers, relatives of the David Whitmer, one of the three original witnesses. The fifth witness was Hiram Page who had married a Whitmer daughter. The last three were Joseph's own father and two brothers.
This is surely too close a family circle to impress an honest investigator looking for impartiality among a group of witnesses. When Our Lord arose from the dead, the Bible states He appeared to many different people and at different times and places. Jesus offered sufficient and reasonable proof that He was alive again.
G. These eight witnesses stated they saw the plates. Were they the very same set of plates the first witnesses saw? If Martin Harris who was divinely chosen to see the plates had to admit that he did not see them with his bodily eyes but only with the "eyes of faith", just how then did the other eight who were not chosen by divine revelation "see" the plates? Of the eight, five, the Whitmers and Page, turned against Smith and left the Church.
H. Lastly, in a sermon delivered by President and Prophet Brigham Young in the Tabernacle in Salt Lake City, June 5, 1859 the claim for the actual existence of a set of gold plates from God is further weakened:
"Some of the witnesses of the Book of Mormon, who handled the plates and conversed with the angels of God, were afterwards LEFT TO DOUBT AND TO DISBELIEVE THEY HAD EVER SEEN AN ANGEL. One of the Quorum of Twelve, a young man FULL OF FAITH and good works, prayed and the vision of his mind was opened, and the angel of God came and laid the plates before him, AND HE SAW AND HANDLED THEM, and SAW THE ANGEL, and CONVERSED with him as he would one of his friends; but after apostacy, and has continued to contend this work. There are hundreds in a similar condition."
(Journal of Discourses Vol. 7 p. 164)
From the above facts an impartial investigator can only conclude that the evidence for the actual existence of a set of golden plates from God is just too weak to merit a reasonable acceptance of Joseph Smith's claim for them.
11. WHAT HAPPENED TO THE GOLDEN PLATES?
The story is that Smith returned the plates to an angel who took them back to heaven. As a Christian I can only wonder why (and reasonably so) the All-Wise God did not leave the plates behind so that their existence and authenticity of writing on them could be established beyond a reasonable doubt. In I Corinthians 15: 6-8 Paul writes that Jesus after His rising from the dead appeared not only to the Twelve and other workers, but to more than five hundred of his followers. Why did God maintain such secrecy about the golden plates?
12. HOW WERE THE GOLDEN PLATES TRANSLATED?
A. Martin Harris took down the translation as Joseph gave it to him. A blanket flung across a rope divided the room where the two men worked.
B. According to David Whitmer this is how the translation was done. Joseph would place a seer-stone into a hat, and putting his face into the hat, drew it tightly around his face to exclude the light. In the darkness a spiritual light would shine. The writing would appear on something like parchment. The English translation was given beneath the strange writing, or the Reformed Egyptian as Smith called it. (An Address to All Believers in Christ by David Whitmer)
C. Martin Harris confirmed the use of the seer-stone. He said sentences would appear and were read by Joseph, and Martin would write them down. This means then that Smith never did translate the strange writing. God simply supplied the English and Joseph dictated what he saw to Harris. The Golden Plates were not used at all! No mention is made of the Urim and Thummim, the two magic stones found in the stone box along with the plates. Joseph said these had to be used to translate the plates. Smith claimed he did not use them for the first one hundred and sixteen pages of the Book of Mormon. After Harris lost these pages, Joseph simply used a seer-stone he found in a well. What happened to the Urim and Thummim? Mormon authorities believe they were taken back to the next world by an angel.
13. WHAT IS THE BOOK OF MORMON ALL ABOUT?
A. The Book of Mormon contains fifteen books arranged exactly like the Christian Bible: I and II Nephi, Jacob, Enos, Jarom, Omri, Words of Mormon, Mosiah, Alma, Helaman, III and IV Nephi, Mormon, Ether and Moroni.
B. The Book claims to be a history of two ancient Christian civilizations which existed on the American continents. The forerunners of the first of these civilizations left the tower of Babel in 2,250 B.C. and came to Central America. The second group is supposed to have left Jerusalem around 600 B.C., crossed the Pacific Ocean and landed in South America (Peru). The Book of Mormon gives us the highlights of these two ancient civilizations.
C. The first group, the Jaredites, were destroyed as a result of corruption and apostasy. The second group were good Jews, their leader being Lehi. This group divided into two warring factions: the Nephites and Lamanites. Constant warfare between the two nations eventually brought them the same fate as the Jaredites.
D. The Book of Mormon also describes how Jesus visited the American continent immediately after His Ascension, revealed Himself to the Nephites, preached the gospel to them, instituted baptism, the communion service, the priesthood and other ordinances. Thus Jesus set up His true church a second time here on the American continent - so the book claims.
E. The Nephites were annihilated by the Lamanites in a great battle near the hill Cumorah at Palmyra, New York about 385 A.D. Mormon, the last great Nephite leader of his people, gave the golden plates containing the history of his people, to his son, Moroni, who buried them in the ground a short time later. There they remained until Smith was told by the angel to unearth them. [See Q 13 Notes]
14. WHAT DIFFICULTIES DOES THE BOOK OF MORMON CONTAIN?
I have read the Book of Mormon twice and it is difficult reading. It is quite dull. I did get a better understanding of it the second time around. The book does not reach the literary and dramatic heights of the Christian Bible. The religious theme running throughout the work is the problem of good and evil and repentance. Its story is that of a people who thrive materially, become proud, fall away from God and sin, repent and convert. There are difficulties with the work, serious enough to cast a reasonable doubt upon its authenticity as a book from God equal to the Christian Bible. Here are just a few:
A. It has been estimated that almost ten percent of the Book of Mormon is a direct quote or paraphrase from the King James translation of the Bible.
"About one-eighteenth of the Book is taken directly from the Bible: about three hundred passages - namely large portions of Isaiah, the entire sermon on the Mount (according to Matthew), and a few verses from St. Paul." (The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge Vol. 8 p. 12)
King James Bible
The Book of Mormon
"the same yesterday, and today and forever". (Hebrews 13:8)
"the same yesterday, today and forever." (II Nephi 27:23)
"Work out your own salvation with fear". (Phil. 2:12)
"Work out your salvation with fear". (Alma 34:37)
"O wretched man that I am". (Romans 7:24)
"O wretched man that I am". (II Nephi 4:17)
"Marvel not that I said unto thee, ye must be born again". (John 3:7)
"Marvel not that all mankind must be born again". (Mosiah 27:25)
"There standeth one among you whom ye know not". (John 1:26)
"There standeth one among you whom you know not". (I Nephi 10:8)
"I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end". (Rev. 21:6)
"I am the alpha and the omega the beginning and the end". (III Nephi 9:18)
The only reasonable explanation for these parallels and hundreds more is that the Book of Mormon is not a translation of a set of ancient gold plates but a literary work of modern times. It was written long after the King James version was made in London in 1611 A.D.
B. Again, how could a translation directly given to Smith by an all-intelligent God contain the following glaring errors: the existence of the cow, ox, ass and horse on the American continent around 600 B.C. when the Nephites arrive. Scholars are certain that such animals did not exist at that time in the Americas. The Book of Mormon also describes the use of the mariner's compass which was unknown in those days. (See: Encyclopedia Brittanica ed. 1974 Vol. 4, p. 1039 "Mariner's Compass" and Vol. 8 p. 1088 "Horse")
C. Joseph Smith declared that the Book of Mormon contained the fullness of the gospel message from heaven, yet no where in the Book did I find their doctrines of celestial marriage, baptism for the dead, the Adam-God and universal salvation.
D. The Book of Mormon also contains a number of absurdities. Here is just one of them:
"Now immediately when the judge had been murdered: he being stabbed by his brother, by a garb of secrecy: and he fled and the servants ran and told the people, raising the cry of murder among them." (Helaman (9:6)
How can one be murdered by a garb of secrecy?
E. None of the acceptable masters in the fields of history, ethnology, archaeology and Bible studies thinks the Book of Mormon is worth any serious study. For example, in the field of archaeology, Mormon experts have not been able to find, after years of searching, scientific evidence to verify the contents of the Book of Mormon such as language (Reformed Egyptian), cities and names of prominent people. I have not met one LDS who is aware of this fact. Mormon missionaries and one Mormon Bishop told me that the Book of Mormon has been proven true by archaeological evidence. The Mormon scholar, Bruce McConkie, writes:
"Since its (the Book of Mormon) publication many archaeological discoveries have been made, particularly in Central and South America, which bear out the known facts relative to the ancient book of Mormon civilizations."
(Mormon Doctrine 1966 p. 99)
Ross T. Christensen, Mormon anthropologist, contradicts McConkie:
"The statement that the Book of Mormon has already been proved by archeology is misleading." (Newsletter, University Archaeological Society, BYU Jan. 1960)
The Mormon publication, Dialogue:
"The bare facts of the matter are that NOTHING, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING, HAS EVER SHOWN UP IN ANY NEW WORLD EXCAVATION which would suggest to a dispassionate observer that the Book of Mormon, as claimed by Joseph Smith, is a historical document relating to the history of early migrants to our hemisphere."
(Dialogue, Journal of Mormon Thought, Vol. 8, No. 2 1973)
F. The Bureau of American Ethnology (scientific study of the races of people) of the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D. C. simply ignores the Book of Mormon as of any value in this particular field. The sciences of anthropology and archaeology will not accept the testimony of the Book that the American Indians are of Jewish ancestry. The Indians are considered to be mongoloids and most scientists hold that such people came to the Americas by crossing the Beiring Straits and not by sailing from Palestine.
G. These are just a few of the many difficulties one encounters in a serious study of the Book of Mormon. Yet, Smith supposedly a true prophet from God, could categorically state:
"The Book of Mormon is the most correct of any book on earth and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts than by any other book."
(History of the Church Vol. 4, p. 461) [See Q 14-G Notes]
15. WHAT OTHER SACRED BOOKS DO THE MORMONS POSSESS?
Besides the Book of Mormon, there are two other works: Doctrines and Covenants (D & C) which contains all the revelations Smith said he had received from God and the Pearl of Great Price, a title embracing the Book of Moses, Book of Abraham, Selected Writings of Smith, and the Articles of Faith, a summary of Mormon beliefs. [See Q 15 Notes]
16. DON'T THE LDS ACCEPT AND USE THE CHRISTIAN BIBLE?
Yes they do, but only the King James Version, and only in so far as this Version is "correctly translated", which really means that whenever the King James Version disagrees with Mormonism, it is not "correctly translated".
17. DO THE LDS CONSIDER THE BOOK OF MORMON TO BE SUPERIOR TO THE CHRISTIAN BIBLE?
A. I have met Mormons who say yes and no. Usually it is claimed that the two books are equally revered. Yet here are two quotations worth noting:
"Almost all of the doctrines of the gospel are taught in the Book of Mormon with much greater clarity and perfection than those same doctrines are revealed in the Bible. Anyone who will place in parallel columns the teaching of these two great books...will find conclusive proof of the SUPERIORITY OF THE BOOK OF MORMON TEACHINGS".
(Mormon Doctrine, McConkie 1966 p. 99)
"The Book of Mormon is the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts than by any other book."
(History of the Church Vol. 4, p. 461)
Joseph Smith made this statement and also claimed that the Book of Mormon contained the fullness of the everlasting gospel. He never made these remarks about the Christian Bible.
B. Smith stated that there were many errors in the translation of the Bible. With the help of divine revelations he claimed he received, he proceeded to retranslate the Scriptures. In this work he not only changed many passages he even added new material! Mormons claim his work was never finished but Joseph said he did complete it. Even if Smith did not finish the translation, the Mormon Church has had even more "prophets" since then who presumably could have done so. Today this work is known to the LDS as the Inspired Version of the King James Version of the Bible. Thus that portion of the Bible that Smith retranslated would have to be the most correct and truest part of the Word of God that man now has. Yet the Utah Church never uses it. One reason the missionaries give is that they do not wish to confuse prospective converts whom they visit. This is hardly a good excuse since it is God's very own translation and the latest.
18. HOW DOES THE BOOK OF ABRAHAM CAST SERIOUS DOUBTS ON THE CLAIMS OF SMITH?
The Book of Abraham is a very small work which is included in their fourth Scripture, Pearl of Great Price.
A. In 1833 a traveling salesman and showman, Michael Chandler, visited Smith's hometown of Kirtland, Ohio, exhibiting Egyptian mummies and other curios. Smith bought from him an ancient roll of papyrus. After examining it, Joseph immediately declared that he had in his possession a document written by the hand of Abraham himself some four thousand years ago. With no trouble at all he proceeded to translate the strange Egyptian symbols on the papyrus. Joseph called the work the Book of Abraham and it is still published by the LDS as part of their divine, sacred books along with three facsimiles of drawings taken from the papyrus.
B. The Mormons consider the Book of Abraham a most sacred work. In it are contained the doctrines of polytheism (many gods) and the curse and inferiority of the black man.
C. The Book of Abraham proved to be a disastrous blunder by Smith. Joseph is considered by all devout Mormons to have been sent to earth by God as a great Prophet, Seer and Revelator. The word "Seer" to the Mormons means that Smith was given the power to translate ancient records written in languages long since lost to the mind of man. Joseph using this divine power as Seer, produced his translation of the Book of Abraham as a divine communication from God.
D. Dr. James H. Breasted, world reknown expert in Egyptology, wrote a devastating assessment of the Book of Abraham.
"...these three facsimiles of Egyptian documents in the 'Pearl of Great Price' depict the most common objects in the mortuary religion of Egypt. Joseph Smith's interpretation of them as part of a unique revelation through Abraham, very clearly demonstrates that he was totally unacquainted with the significance of these documents and absolutely ignorant of the simplest facts of Egyptian writing and civilization."
(Mormonism, Shadow or Reality? a quote pp. 299-300)
Thus according to Dr. Breasted the Book of Abraham is a fraud, having nothing to do with Abraham, a plurality of gods and a divine curse on the Negro. The papyrus simply has to do with Egyptian funeral rites! [See Q 18 Notes]
19. IS MORMONISM CHRISTIAN?
A. The Mormon Church in the ordinary sense cannot be classified as Christian unless one wanted to twist the term until it did not mean anything anymore.
B. There are certain basics to true Christianity such as the One God, the Trinity, Creation, Jesus Christ, Redemption and Resurrection doctrines which one will find among Eastern Christians and the Western as well. Mormonism has brought into Christianity elements that come from another source.
C. Actually when one begins a study of the history and doctrines of Mormonism, the presupposition is that Mormonism is a unified system of doctrine. But in fact it is a hybrid of so many aspects, some from Christianity, some from the fantasy of Joseph Smith, and some aspects directly contrary to Christianity (pre-existence of souls, polygamy, a divine curse on the Negro).
I must also alert the reader to a fact that I only painfully discovered in my discussions with Mormon missionaries. The missionaries use the same terminology as Christians do but with a different meaning entirely. For example: The Mormon will say Jesus is "Lord". So would the true Christian. Yet to the LDS this statement means that Jesus is just one of many lords or gods and not the one, true, incarnated God of orthodox Christianity.
I will now move on to examine some of the major doctrines of the Mormon Church and compare them with the Bible.
20. WHAT DO THE MORMONS BELIEVE ABOUT GOD?
A. Joseph Smith taught that there are many gods with bodies made up of flesh and bone like man. He also taught that the gods were once mortal men.
"I will preach on the plurality of gods...many men say there is one God...the heads of the Gods appointed one God for us...that is pertaining to us.
"God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens."
(Teachings of the Prophet, Joseph Smith 1974 pp. 345-346 & 370-372)
Brigham Young taught:
"How many gods there are I do not know. But there never was a time when there were not gods and worlds."
(Discourses of Brigham Young 1954 pp. 22 & 23)
B. Smith, supposedly a true prophet from God, and one who would not lie nor be deceived in what he taught, teaches that there are many gods and one of them has been assigned by the council of the gods to be the god of this earth. It is with this God that mankind must deal. This means that when Christians meet with Mormons to offer up a prayer to God the Father, all in the group are not praying to the same God!
C. Smith's doctrine on the plurality of gods and their materiality directly contradicts the Bible of the Christians. One of the great revelations of the Old Testament religion given to mankind is that there is only one, true God and no one else besides Him, and that He is entirely without matter, totally invisible.
D. True, the Old Testament represents this one, true, invisible God in a visible human form by the use of what Bible experts call anthropomorphisms. This is a big word but it is the term used to designate the way the Jews solved the problem of how to relate to their God they could not see. The ancient Jews simply talked about Him and described his actions among them in human terms. There simply was no other way. For example we read in Exodus 33:11 "Yahweh would speak to Moses face to face as a man speaks to his friend." LDS scholars insist on taking such words literally. If this were correct, then God has feathers and wings as Psalm 91 describes Him.
E. The following Biblical texts attest quite clearly to the complete immateriality of God and His unique oneness.
Deut. 6:4 "Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord."
Isaiah 31:3 "The Egyptians are men, not God, and their horses flesh, not spirit." (Here Isaiah intends to show that man is flesh and his nature is not like God who is totally immaterial)
Isaiah 44:6 "Thus sayeth the Lord the King of Israel...I am the first and I am the last; and besides me there is no God."
Isaiah 45:5 "I am the Lord and there is none else, there is no God beside me."
Isaiah 46:9 "Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else. I am God and there is none like me."
John 4:24 "God is spirit."
I Cor. 8:4 "We know that an idol is nothing in the world and that there is none other God but one." (Yet Smith taught that the heads of the gods appointed one god for this earth)
II Cor. 3:17 "The Lord is that spirit."
Eph. 4:6 "One God and Father for all, who is above all and through all."
I Tim. 1:17 "now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God be honor and glory forever and ever."
F. Amazingly Mormon belief in many gods is clearly contradicted by their own Book of Mormon:
Alma 11:22 "If thou wilt deny the existence of a SUPREME Being."
Alma 11: 28-29 "Now Zeezrom said: 'Is there more than one God?' and he answered 'No'".
G. In front of the Book of Mormon there is the testimony of the three witnesses to the existence of the gold plates, and the last sentence of their statement reads:
"And the honor be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost, WHICH IS ONE GOD."
Yet Joseph could contradict this statement of the three witnesses with these words:
"When the heads of the gods called a council of the Gods..."
And Brigham Young could state in equally contradictory terms:
"Gods exist, and we had better strive to be one with them."
21. WHO IS THIS GOD ASSIGNED TO OUR EARTH?
A. The god of this earth and the only one with whom we humans have to deal with is Adam. Here is what Brigham Young taught as doctrine:
"Now hear it, O inhabitants of the earth, Jew and Gentile, Saint and sinner. When our father ADAM CAME INTO THE garden of Eden, he came into it with a celestial body, and brought Eve, one of his wives with him. He helped to make and organize this world. He is Michael, the Arch-angel, the Ancient of Days about whom holy men have written and spoken. HE IS OUR FATHER AND OUR GOD, AND THE ONLY GOD WITH WHOM WE HAVE TO DO."
(Journal of Discourses Vol. 1 pp. 50-51)
B. Young maintained this teaching of the Adam-God and leading Mormon authorities of the time and for years after understood perfectly what their Prophet meant. Heber C. Kimball, the First Councilor to Brigham Young, preached:
"I have learned by experience that there is but one God that pertains to this people, and He is the God that pertains to this earth- THE FIRST MAN."
(Journal of Discourses Vol. 4 p. 1)
C. Brigham Young himself made it quite clear that what he taught was Scripture for all Mormons and therefore to be believed as true.
"I have never yet preached a sermon and sent it out to the children of men that they may not call Scripture."
(Journal of Discourses Vol. 13, p. 95)
The above remark by Young was preached on January 2, 1870 - eighteen years after he first taught the doctrine of the Adam-God.
D. Again Heber C. Kimball remarked:
"...you have heard the teachings and instructions of President Young, and his instructions are the word of God to us."
(Journal of Discourses Vol. 4 p. 2)
E. Some Mormons were shocked by Young's proclamation of the Adam-God doctrine. In 1873, twenty one years after his first public announcement, President Young commented on this disbelief:
"How much unbelief exists in the minds of the Latter Day Saints in regard to one particular doctrine which I REVEALED TO THEM, AND WHICH GOD REVEALED TO ME - namely that Adam is OUR FATHER AND GOD."
(Deseret News, June 18, 1873)
F. The Mormon scholar B. H. Roberts thought that Mormons should not be ashamed of this doctrine. He wrote:
"Some of the sectarian ministers are saying that we "Mormons" are ashamed of the DOCTRINE announced by Brigham Young to the effect THAT ADAM WILL THUS BE THE GOD OF THIS WORLD. No, friends it is not that we are ashamed of that DOCTRINE..."
(Mormon Doctrine of Deity, p. 42)
G. Orson Hyde, Apostle and scholar stated in 1860:
"Some persons say that Brigham Young does not give revelations as did Joseph Smith. But let me tell you, that Brigham's voice HAS BEEN THE VOICE OF GOD FROM THE TIME HE WAS CHOSEN TO PRESIDE, AND EVEN BEFORE. Who that has heard him speak, or that has read his testimonies, or that is acquainted with his instructions, does not know THAT GOD IS WITH HIM?"
(Journal of Discourses Vol. 8 p. 234)
22. WHAT DO MORMONS BELIEVE ABOUT THE TRINITY?
A. They deny the Christian belief in the Trinity. For them there are three distinct persons, each a separate God, as their founder Joseph Smith taught.
"I will preach on the plurality of gods. Many men say there is one God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, and they are truly one God. I say this is a strange God...three in one and one in three..."
(Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith 1974 p. 372)
B. Mormon doctrine again reveals how contradictory it is, for Smith's teaching on the plurality of gods is not contained in the Book of Mormon. In fact the Book upholds the Christian belief in the Trinity.
"And now behold this is the doctrine of Christ and the only one true doctrine of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost WHICH IS ONE GOD without end."
(II Nephi 31:21)
C. Now either the Book of Mormon is in error, a book Smith claimed to be the most correct of any on this earth because it was translated by the direct power of God and contained the fullness of the everlasting gospel, or the so-called Prophet of God is in error. Such is the Mormon dilemma.
23. WHAT DO MORMONS BELIEVE ABOUT JESUS CHRIST?
A. The LDS deny the Christian belief concerning Jesus. For them Christ is "a" god, just one of millions of such gods. Mormons do however, honor Him as being "first-born" of the many pre-existent spirits.
B. Since Mormons believe that mortal man can attain the same godhood that Jesus has, there is no radical difference between Jesus and man on this earth. The difference is rather one of timing and degree since Christ has already attained His godhood and progressed far along in it. The divinity of Jesus is not unique by LDS standards.
C. Jesus was married to several women and the marriage feast at Cana in Galilee was His own wedding reception. This doctrine is not openly taught today, but it was very popular among Mormons during Brigham Young's time and during the polygamy period. Why is it not being taught today?
D. Mormons call Jesus savior since He died on the cross for the sins of mankind. Yet Mormon doctrine limits the complete saving power of Jesus' blood. Brigham Young taught:
"It is true that the blood of the Son of God was shed for sins...committed by men. Yet men can commit sins which it (the blood of Christ) can never remit."
(Journal of Discourses Vol. 4 pp. 53-54)
Joseph Fielding Smith, Tenth President and Prophet of the LDS Church also stated that same doctrine:
"Are you aware that there are certain sins that man may commit for which the atoning blood of Christ does not avail?...If then he would be saved he must make sacrifice of his own life to atone - as far as in his power lies - for that sin, for the blood of Christ alone under certain circumstances will not avail."
(Doctrine of Salvation pp. 133-134)
E. Now such teaching is clearly contradicted by the Christian Bible which teaches that the blood of Christ was all-sufficient. Christ's sacrifice of His life on the cross was not an imperfect act.
"And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people FROM THEIR SINS."
"...and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from ALL sin."
(I John 1:7)
"Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood."
F. Jesus is also, according to LDS doctrine, the product of the physical union of God the Father with the Virgin Mary. Brigham Young taught:
"When the Virgin Mary conceived the child Jesus, the Father had begotten him in his own likeness..."
(Journal of Discourses Vol. 1 pp. 50-51)
He also taught that Jesus was not begotten by the Holy Ghost:
"Now remember from this time forth and forever, that Jesus Christ was not begotten by the Holy Ghost."
(Journal of Discourses Vol. 1 p. 51)
The Prophet, Joseph Fielding Smith taught:
"Our Father in heaven is the Father of Jesus Christ both in spirit and IN THE FLESH...He (Christ) was not born without the aid of man, and that man was God."
(Doctrines of Salvation 1959 Vol. 1 p. 18)
No Christian worthy of the name could possibly accept the teachings of these two prophets, successors to Joseph Smith. The Christ of Mormonism is not the Christ of the true Christian.
G. In connection with this matter, I recently read the 1975 edition of Leo Rosten's RELIGIONS OF AMERICA. The section on the LDS Church has a question on page 189. "Do Mormons Believe in the Virgin Birth?" Answer: "Yes. The Latter Day Saints accept the miraculous conception of Jesus Christ." Well, if Mormons do so today, their doctrine has changed. They have rejected a clear teaching of the prophets supposedly sent to them by God, and who cannot lie or be in error in doctrine.
H. Now the Prophet Brigham Young taught that there was nothing miraculous about the birth of Jesus. He explains it this way:
"The birth of the Savior was as natural as are the births of our children; it was the result of a natural action. He partook of flesh and blood - was begotten by the Father, as we were of our Fathers."
(Journal of Discourses Vol. 8 p. 115)
The Mormon scholar Heber C. Kimball taught:
"In relation to the way in which I look upon the works of God and his creatures I will say that I was naturally begotten; so was my father, and also my Savior Jesus Christ. According to the scriptures, he is the first begotten of his father IN THE FLESH and there was NOTHING UNNATURAL ABOUT IT."
(Journal of Discourse Vol. 8 p. 211)
Bruce McConkie, Mormon theologian taught:
"God the Father is a perfected, glorified, holy Man, an immortal personage. And Christ born into the world as the literal Son of this Holy Being; he was born in the same personal, real and literal sense THAT ANY MORTAL SON IS BORN TO A MORTAL FATHER."
(Mormon Doctrine 1969 p. 742)
LDS would answer that it is indeed miraculous that the Father now in a state of godhood would condescend to come down to Mary and have relations with her.
Here we have another example of the Mormon use of traditional Christian terms, "miraculous conception", with a very different meaning. The Mormons can do this since almost all non-Mormons would not know what Brigham Young and Mormon scholars actually taught about Christ's birth.
The Mormon reply then in Mr. Rosten's book is at worse an untruth, unless LDS have rejected a clear teaching of their Prophet. At best the answer is surely ambiguous.
24. WHAT DO MORMONS BELIEVE ABOUT THE HOLY GHOST?
There seems to be a good deal of confusion in this matter.
A. Mormon Apostle and scholar Orson Pratt:
"I am inclined to think from some things in the revelations that there is such a being as a personal Holy Ghost, BUT IT IS NOT SET FORTH AS A POSITIVE FACT, and the Lord has never given me any revelation upon the subject, and consequently I cannot fully make up my mind one way or the other."
(Journal of Discourses Vol. 2 p. 338)
B. This statement by Pratt was made in 1855, twelve years after the Prophet Joseph Smith had clearly taught that there was a Holy Ghost:
"The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man's; the Son also; but the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of Spirit."
Orson Pratt's mind should have been made up the moment Joseph made public the revelation from heaven that the Holy Ghost did in fact exist. He surely believed that Smith could not lie or be misled.
C. Mormon doctrine is that the Holy Ghost does not have a body of flesh and bones, yet it is a major teaching of the Church that it is absolutely essential to have a body for that progression leading to godhood. Joseph Fielding Smith clearly emphasizes this teaching by considering the punishment given to the devils:
"The punishment of Satan and the third of the hosts of heaven who followed him, was that they were denied the privilege of being born into this world AND RECEIVING MORTAL BODIES. They did not keep their first estate and were denied the opportunity OF ETERNAL PROGRESSION."
(Doctrines of Salvation Vol. 1 p. 65)
D. The Mormon theologian Parley Pratt makes a distinction between the Holy Ghost and the Holy Spirit.
"This leads to an investigation of that substance called the Holy Spirit...There are several of these subtle, invisible substances but little understood as yet by man, and their existence is only demonstrated by their effects. Some of them are recognized under the several terms, electricity, galvanism, magnetism, animal magnetism, spiritual magnetism, essence, spirit, etc.
The purest, most refined and subtle of all these substances and the one least understood, or even recognized by the less informed among mankind, is that substance called the Holy Spirit. This substance, like all others, is one of the elements of material or physical existence, and therefore subject to the necessary laws which govern all matter...
Jesus Christ was filled with a DIVINE FLUID called the Holy Spirit by which he comprehended and spoke the truth in power and authority and by which he controlled the elements and imparted health and life to those who were prepared to partake of the same."
(Key to the Science of Theology, Original 1855 ed. pp. 29, 38, 39)
For Pratt then the Holy Spirit is a fluid-like substance distinct from the Holy Ghost.
E. Bruce McConkie, a living Apostle and certainly considered by Mormons as a reliable source of Mormon doctrine, continues the distinction between the Holy Spirit and the Holy Ghost based on personage but does not refer to the Holy Spirit as a divine fluid.
"This is the Spirit which the Lord is withholding from wicked persons in the world, not the Holy Ghost which the world never had."
(Mormon Doctrine 1966 p. 753)
F. Pratt published his book Key to the Science of Theology in 1855. For the next 110 years his work was accepted in the Church as Mormon doctrine until in a Ninth Edition (1965) his teaching on the Holy Spirit as a divine fluid and his defense of polygamy as a divinely revealed eternal law of God were deleted. This is still so in the 1973 edition I have.
G. In the first edition of Doctrine and Covenants in 1835 it was taught as doctrine that there were ONLY TWO PERSONS IN THE GOD-HEAD, FATHER AND SON, and that the HOLY SPIRIT WAS THE MIND of these two persons. Mormon authorities have removed this teaching in modern editions of this sacred work.
(Doctrines &Covenants 1835 ed. p. 52, 53, 55, 57, 58)
H. The above changes I have noted make the following by Hugh Nibley, Mormon scholar at Brigham Young University, completely false:
"Joseph Smith's teachings are so well knit and perfectly logical that they have never had to undergo the slightest change of alteration during a century in which every other Church in Christendom has continually revamped its doctrines...The Gospel as the Mormons know it sprang full-grown from the words of Joseph Smith. It has never BEEN WORKED OVER OR TOUCHED UP IN ANY WAY AND IS FREE FROM REVISIONS AND ALTERATIONS."
(No, Ma'am, That's Not History pp. 57-58, 61-62)
I. The word "ghost" is the English (Middle English, 10th and 11th centuries A.D.) translation for the New Testament Greek word "pneuma" and the Latin "spiritus" as any good lexicon will point out.
For the true Christian, Holy Ghost and Holy Spirit designate one and the same person. The New Testament states that the Holy Spirit is true God, a real, Divine Person distinct from the Father and the Son yet one in essence and nature with them, sharing equally all the attributes of divinity such as fullness of knowledge, holiness and power.
25. WHAT DO MORMONS BELIEVE ABOUT MAN?
A. Man is eternal, that is he existed in some way before the gods organized him into a pre-existent form in the spirit world.
"Now, the Lord has shown me, Abraham, the intelligences that were organized before the world was."
(Book of Abraham 3:22)
"Man was also in the beginning with God. Intelligence, or the light of truth, was not created or made..."
(Doctrine & Covenants 93:29)
"The mind or intelligence which man possesses is co-equal (co-eternal) with God himself...the intelligence of spirits had no beginning. I might with boldness proclaim from the housetops that God never had the power to create the spirit of man at all."
(Teachings of Prophet Joseph Smith 1974 pp. 354-355)
B. Man is sent down to earth to progress step by step towards becoming a god with the same divinity god the Father (the god-Father assigned to this earth) now has. For the Mormons Joseph Smith has gone through his earthly progression so that at this moment he is a god ruling over some planet in the spirit world.
C. Since god the Father (the Mormon god) was once a mortal man who progressed to godhood, there is no essential difference between him and any other mortal human being here below. Everyone has a chance to be a god. The Mormon view of man's nature and destiny reveals what a sharply inferior concept they have of true divinity, a divinity the real Christian assigns only to the One, Supreme Deity Whom he worships and considers vastly different from himself. The entire First Chapter of Genesis in the Christian Bible speaks of one God Who creates things and man out of nothing.
26. WHAT DO MORMONS BELIEVE ABOUT PRE-EXISTENCE?
A. This is a major teaching in the LDS Church. Man's spirit existed eternally in the spirit world long before it was sent to earth to dwell in a body of flesh and bone. The type of existence a man has here on earth is a reflection of his worthiness or lack of it in his pre-existent life. The Mormon doctrine of pre-existence helps to understand their position on the Negro.
"There is a reason why one man is born black and with other disadvantages, while another is born white with great advantages. The reason is that we once had an estate before we came here and were obedient, more or less, to the laws that were given to us there. Those who were faithful in all things there, received greater blessing here, and those who were not faithful received less."
(Doctrines of Salvation Vol. 1 p. 61 J. Fielding Smith)
B. According to J. Fielding Smith the Negro was cursed by the gods for having done evil in his pre-existent life. Just what the Negro did which was terrible is unknown Mormons say, and cannot be known down here since no one coming to this planet from the spirit world has any recollection of what he or she did in that world.
C. Presumably then, if one is white-skinned, born into a Mormon family and faithfully follows the LDS Church's teachings and ordinances, such a person lived a very good life and was highly favored by the gods before coming to earth.
D. Mormons claim that their doctrine of pre-existence is clearly proven in the Christian Bible. I did not find this to be so. They point especially to two texts neither of which give conclusive evidence for such an important LDS teaching. Here they are:
"Before I formed thee in the belly, I knew thee."
The English word "formed" as found in this King James translation is from the Hebrew verb meaning "to create", that is, to bring into existence what had not existed before. The meaning then to the ancient Hebrew would be that at one time Jeremiah never existed. How then could God have known intellectually a man who did not yet exist?
What is the meaning of "I knew thee"? The Hebrew word of "knew" can also have the meaning of "to dedicate", "to appoint" and not just intellectual knowledge.
Therefore the meaning would be that long before God decided to bring a certain individual person into existence, He had in mind that such a person would be appointed to do a special work for Him.
In the Bible, for God "to know" someone means that He appoints, chooses, predestines. However, for man to know God implies an intimate knowledge of Him based on an experience of God and not just an intellectual awareness that He exists. (See Dictionary of Biblical Theology, Leo-Defour p. 259 under title "know")
The second text is from Ecclesiastes 12:7
"Thus shall the dust return to the earth as it was; and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it."
The LDS ask how the spirit can return to God if it had never been there before? The LDS have made the correct answer to this question difficult by taking the sentence out of its entire context and trying to force a meaning into it that is not there.
The theme of the entire passage, verses 1-4 has to do with growing old and eventually dying. The body simply returns to dust at death, and since God is the source of all life, He takes back the life-breath (the soul) He created for the person in order that he might remain alive on earth.
The word "return" cannot conclusively imply that the spirit had a previous existence in another world. God gave life to man for the first time and now He takes it back (it "returns").
Thus these two passages from Scripture do not permit us to conclude to a pre-existence of all human souls in a spirit world before the appearance on this earth in a body.
E. The Mormon Church has received from its founder as a revelation from God an opinion of some ancient Hindu and Greek philosophers who taught that the human soul had an existence before its union with the body, and that it is imprisoned in the body for sins committed in its previous life.
F. Finally it is absurd for an intelligent soul to continue its existence on earth yet having absolutely no memory of its previous doings, discoveries and aspirations. It is also irrational to have souls punished for unknown crimes in such a way that they can neither correct their faults nor acknowledge the justice of the penalty. Strange indeed is the Mormon belief in pre-existence as a major teaching of the restored church of Jesus Christ. Jesus Himself never taught it or ordered His Apostles to do so.
27. HOW DID THE LDS POSITION AGAINST THE NEGRO ORIGINATE?
A. The Bible tells us that Cain was cursed by God for killing his brother Abel, but does not state the nature of this curse. Joseph Smith claimed that God revealed to him the nature of the curse: that of a black skin. Smith taught that all Negroes are descendants of Cain.
B. Jerald and Sandra Tanner, in their monumental, documented study of Mormonism, have reasonably shown that the LDS stand against the Negro is not based on any divine curse, but is rooted in the prejudice against the black man which existed in the early days of the Mormon Church. (Mormonism, Shadow or Reality pp. 275-279)
C. The LDS anti-Negro stand directly opposes the clear command of Jesus to His Apostles:
"Go ye therefore and teach ALL nations (black, white, red, brown)...baptizing them...and teaching them all things whatsoever I have commanded you."
(Matthew 28: 19-20)
And what Peter taught:
"God hath showed me that I should not call any man common or unclean."
"Then Peter opened his mouth and said, 'Of a truth I perceive that God is no respector of persons. But in every nation he that feareth him and worketh righteousness, is accepted by him.'"
D. The Book of Mormon contradicts the LDS teaching on the Negro:
"...and he inviteth them all to come unto him and partake his goodness, and he denieth none that come unto him, BLACK AND WHITE, bond and free, male and female; and he remembered the heathen, and ALL ARE ALIKE TO GOD, both Jew and Gentile."
(II Nephi 26:33)
E. I most respectfully submit that either the Book of Mormon which Smith stated was from God and the most correct book on earth, is in error concerning a major LDS teaching, or Joseph lied or was misled into thinking that he had received a divine revelation about a curse on the black man.
F. Sterling M. McMurrin, Mormon scholar and philosopher, told a gathering of the N.A.A.C.P. in a speech March 8, 1960 in Salt Lake City, that the Mormon teaching on the Negro is "not only nonsense but immoral."
Yet N. Eldon Tanner, one time Counselor to one of the Presidents of the Church stated:
"The Church has no intention of changing its doctrines on the Negro...it is a law of God."
(Seattle Magazine December 1969)
G. If the LDS doctrine of the Negro is a law of God (or the Mormon god) then according to their own scholar, McMurrin, this god has given the LDS a doctrine that is nonsense and immoral. [See QQ 27 and 28 Notes]
28. WHAT IS THE MORMON DOCTRINE CONCERNING THE NEGRO AND THE PRIESTHOOD?
A. Mormons believe that the Negro is under a divine curse for having been unfaithful to the Mormon gods in the pre-existent world, and are not entitled to share in the blessings of the Mormon priesthood. Anyone with Negro blood would be prevented from holding the priesthood. The status of the black man in Mormon theology is very serious and dreadful. Brigham Young brought this out in teaching:
"Shall I tell you the LAW OF GOD with regard to the African race? If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty under the LAW OF GOD is DEATH ON THE SPOT. THIS WILL ALWAYS BE SO."
(Journal of Discourses Vol. 10 p. 110)
Such is the teaching of Young a prophet from God, and one who cannot teach false doctrine and cannot be misled concerning a law of God. This matter then is forever settled. The Negro can never hold the Mormon priesthood.
B. Brigham Young in a speech in 1852 before the Utah legislature concerning the Negro and the question of slavery stated emphatically:
"Any man having one drop of the seed of Cain in him cannot receive the priesthood."
(Quoted by Matthias Cowley in his book Wilford Woodruff 1975 p. 351)
C. We mentioned earlier that Joseph Smith taught that the Negroes were the descendants of Cain.
"In the evening I debated with John C. Bennet and others to show that the Indians have greater cause to complain of the treatment of the whites than the NEGROES, OR SONS of CAIN."
(History of the Church Vol. 4 p. 501)
D. Mark Peterson, Mormon Apostle, taught:
"If I were to marry a Negro woman and have children by her, my children would all be cursed as to the Priesthood. If there is one drop of Negro blood in my children, they receive the curse."
(Address at BYU August 27, 1954)
E. For years the Utah Church has been receiving into its Priesthood people with Negro blood in them. Since there is no way to discover what persons have Negro blood down to the degree of one drop, the Mormon teaching in this matter seems quite pointless. I questioned one LDS Bishop about this and he simply shrugged off my inquiry with the reply that the Church doesn't pay much attention to the views of Young on the curse!
F. Today confusion seems to exist in the minds of Church officials concerning the Negro and the Priesthood. Former President and Prophet David O. McKay stated:
"There is not NOW and NEVER HAS BEEN A DOCTRINE IN THIS CHURCH that the Negro is under a divine curse."
(Mormons and Negroes by Jerald and Sandra Tanner 1970 p. 60)
G. Brigham Young, the second greatest Prophet in the Church thought that there was a curse:
"Cain slew his brother...and the Lord put a MARK on him, which is the flat nose and BLACK SKIN...how long is that race to endure the dreadful CURSE THAT IS UPON THEM."
(Journal of Discourses Vol. 7 p. 290)
H. Bruce McConkie, Mormon theologian and former Apostle, in his compendium of Mormon doctrines wrote about the curse.
"As a result of his rebellion, CAIN WAS CURSED WITH A DARK SKIN; he became the FATHER OF THE NEGROES, and those spirits who are not worthy to receive the priesthood are born through his lineage."
(Mormon Doctrine 1966 p. 109)
I. John Lewis Lund, LDS scholar and lecturer adds to the confusion:
"A dark skin in the case of the Negro MAY OR MAY NOT accompany the curse...Cain was selected to be the father of all those who were to come to earth and not possess the priesthood. There were no exceptions. Therefore, no one who is a descendant of Cain, regardless of whether he is black, red, yellow or white is allowed to hold the Priesthood."
(The Church and the Negro 1975 p. 101)
29. THEN THE MORMON CHURCH CLAIMS A PRIESTHOOD?
A. Yes. Both Smith and Oliver Cowdery claimed to have received from John the Baptist the keys to the priesthood of Aaron, or what Mormons call the lesser priesthood. Later on they received the greater or Melchizedek priesthood from Peter, James and John. The LDS believe their priesthood to be the only valid ones on earth today, and are conferred on Mormon males only.
B. Yet the priesthood of Aaron was completely abolished forever in favor of the unique priesthood of Jesus Christ as is clearly stated in the Epistle to the Hebrews 7: 11-19.
The sincere inquirer into Mormonism can only wonder at this confusion: The God the Christian believes in clearly abolished the Aaronic priesthood of the Old Testament for all time. Now this same God (or the Mormon god?) brings it back in 1830 here in America!
30. WHY DO THE MORMONS PRACTICE A BAPTISM FOR THE DEAD?
A. The LDS teach that the spirits of people who have died without the blessings of being a Mormon here on earth cannot enjoy the peculiar rewards of the LDS heaven until a Mormon here below is baptized by proxy for them. All non-Mormon baptisms are invalid.
Such proxy baptisms take place in Mormon temples. The fact that such spirits may refuse the proxy baptism does not seem to bother the Mormons. One Mormon Bishop told me that it is hoped that such spirits will accept this baptism done for them.
B. In an effort to save their ancestors who died without the benefits of Mormonism, the LDS have spent millions of dollars doing genealogical research. One Mormon lady told me that through her own genealogy she discovered that she was related to the Emperor Constantine who lived over 1,600 years ago. She had herself baptized for his salvation. An individual Mormon in a lifetime might undergo hundreds of such baptisms for these spirits.
C. LDS people could save themselves such bother if they would read carefully the entire 25th chapter of St. Matthew's gospel. In the last fifteen verses Jesus speaks about the last judgement. There is not even a hint about salvation for those who live wicked lives here on earth. Jesus says there is simply no opportunity for salvation in the next world for such dead spirits. You only go around once. There is no chance to make another decision for Christ after death. It must all be done here in this life. Having oneself baptized for them is of no value.
D. There are two more statements of Christ against this Mormon practice. Matthew 18:8 reads:
"Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee cut them off, and cast them from thee; it is better for thee to enter into life lame or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into EVERLASTING FIRE."
LUKE 16; 19-31
Here is the dramatic story Jesus told about the awful treatment the poor man Lazarus received from the rich man. Both died. Lazarus was saved and the rich man went to hell. The story is so lengthy I will quote only the pertinent part. The rich man in such torment in hell begs Abraham to send Lazarus with water to ease his sufferings. And Abraham replies:
"My son, remember that during your life good things came your way just as bad things came to Lazarus. Now he is being comforted here while you are in agony. But that is not all: between us and you a GREAT GULF is fixed. So that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us THAT WOULD COME FROM THENCE."
By his story Jesus clearly intends to state that the destiny of the saved and that of the lost is unchangeable. All merit must be done here on earth before death and then comes the final judgement.
E. Mormons will quote a passage from St. Peter's epistle - I Peter 3:19 which seems to approve of their baptism for the dead.
"For Christ...being put to death in the flesh quickened by the Spirit, by which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison."
LDS interpret these words of Peter to mean that Jesus after His death went to the spirit world to preach the Mormon gospel to those who while on earth had no opportunity to hear it. Such spirits are given a chance to repent of their sins and believe in Mormonism. Such an interpretation is clearly contradicted by Matthew 18:8 and Luke 16: 19-31. Therefore the Mormon teaching of this passage is wrong.
F. Again amazingly, the Book of Mormon contradicts LDS teaching on baptism for the dead and their interpretation of I Peter 3:19.
"For behold if ye have procrastinated the day of your repentance even until death, behold ye have become subjected to the spirit of devil, and he does seal you his: therefore the Spirit of the Lord hath withdrawn from you and hath no place in you; the power of the devil is over you AND THIS IS THE FINAL STATE OF THE WICKED."
How can anyone have himself baptized for a person described in this passage from the Book of Mormon? Here we have confirmation of what Jesus taught. Repent before death for there is no opportunity in the next world. Therefore this LDS practice must be rejected. Jesus never taught it. Lastly this baptism for the dead is not even mentioned in the Book of Mormon which Smith said contained the "fullness" of the everlasting gospel.
31. DOES NOT ST. PAUL MENTION BAPTISM FOR THE DEAD?
A. Yes he does (I Cor. 15:29) but only mentions it in passing to use its practice among some of the new Christians as an example for a very important point he wishes to get across to his new converts at Corinth. Paul never preached it as a doctrine of the Church.
Here we have an example of the use of the Christian Bible by the LDS of taking a phrase out of context and forcing a meaning into it that the entire context will not permit. In this present instance they have done so as proof from the New Testament for their practice of baptizing for the dead.
B. A careful reading of the entire 15th chapter of I Corinthians will show what Paul really had in mind when he penned this 29th verse.
Paul was writing about the resurrection, life after death. He wished to impress upon the minds of his converts that true Christians must hold on in spite of many trials and sufferings in this life for their new faith. A better life awaited them in the next world.
C. To emphasize this point Paul merely mentions that "they" (apparently some of the Christian converts) were having themselves baptized for their deceased friends and relatives, hoping that through such a vicarious baptism these dead people might be assured of some share in Christ's redemption. In line with his argument Paul's rhetorical question is clear: "Why bother if there is no resurrection?" Paul never approves of such a baptism in verse 29.
32. WHAT IS THE WORD OF WISDOM?
A. This is the name given to a revelation Smith asserted he received from God on February 27, 1833. It forbids the use of hot drinks, strong drinks and tobacco. Today the Mormon Church interprets "hot drinks" to mean drinks which contain caffeine - tea, coffee and cola drinks. LDS people are, however, given permission to drink Pepsi-Cola although it contains caffeine. Just why this permission has been given I have not been able to find out.
B. A good Mormon scrupulously observes this law because he believes it to be a direct communication from the Mormon god and to their prophet Joseph Smith. Breaking it apparently carries serious consequences such as being barred from the Temple.
C. Mormon missionaries proudly point to the Word of Wisdom as a proof of Smith's authenticity as a true prophet of God, since there is so much discussion these days about the harmful bodily effects of caffeine, alcohol and tobacco.
Apparently they are unaware that the temperance movement in Smith's day was strong and loud against the abuse of liquor long before Joseph has anything official to say about it as head of his church. Three years before the supposed revelation, Smith's hometown newspaper published an article on the bodily harm of smoking tobacco.
D. The true Christian might wonder why the Mormon god would bother to reveal to one man the dangers of tobacco and alcoholic beverages when people already knew them. If this god felt he had to make a revelation to mankind through Smith about the danger of such things, why has this god refrained from revealing to Smith's modern-day successors (supposedly true prophets and spokesmen for the divine mind) the dangers of chemical additives in our foods and the polluting of our air with dangerous chemicals?
33. DOES THE MORMON CHURCH BELIEVE IN POLYGAMY?
A. Here is one major doctrine Smith gave to his followers which Mormons shy away from; better left unremembered.
According to Joseph Smith, God revealed to him on July 12, 1843 the divine plan for plural marriage or polygamy. Here is the preface to the revelation. God speaks:
"Verily thus sayeth the Lord unto you my servant Joseph, that inasmuch as you have inquired of my hand to know and understand wherein I, the Lord, JUSTIFIED my servants Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, as also Moses, David and Solomon my servants, as touching the principle and DOCTRINE of their HAVING MANY WIVES AND CONCUBINES...
Behold and lo, I am the Lord thy God, and will answer this as touching this matter.
Therefore, prepare thy heart to receive and OBEY the instructions which I am about to give unto you; for all those who have this law REVEALED unto them MUST OBEY the same.
For behold I reveal unto you a NEW AND EVERLASTING covenant; and if ye abide not by that covenant then ye are damned; for no one can reject this covenant and be permitted to enter into my glory.
And again I verily say unto you, if a man marry a wife by my word...they shall pass by the angels...to their exaltation. Then they shall be gods...
And let my handmaid Emma Smith receive ALL THOSE THAT HAVE BEEN GIVEN unto my servant Joseph Smith..."
(Doctrine & Covenants Sec. 132)
B. Brigham Young in a sermon printed in the Deseret News in 1862:
"Monogamy, or restrictions to one wife is no part of the economy of heaven among men."
"Why do we believe in and practice polygamy? Because the Lord introduced it to his servants in a revelation given to Joseph Smith, and the Lord's servants have always practiced it. AND IS THAT RELIGION POPULAR IN HEAVEN? IT IS THE ONLY POPULAR RELIGION THERE."
"This monogamic system (one wife) has been the fruitful source of prostitution and whoredom throughout Christianity..."
(Journal of Discourses Vol. 11 p. 128)
C. The following appeared in the Millenial Star, the Mormon Church newpaper:
"The one-wife system not only degenerates the human family both physically and intellectually, but it is entirely incompatible with philosophical notions of immorality; it is a lure to temptation, and has always been a curse to people."
(Vol. 15 p. 227)
D. For almost ten years polygamy was practiced in secret, although rumors of it spread among non-Mormons in the area. Yet during all this time the Mormon leaders strongly denied the practice. Then on August 29, 1852 Brigham Young let the truth be told - polygamy had been going on for years.
E. President Grant threatened to send troops into Utah if the practice was not ended at one. Then on September 24, 1890, the then President of the Church Wilford Woodruff, suspended the practice. Today any Mormon engaged in polygamy is excommunicated from the Church.
F. I have been told by Mormon missionaries that plural marriage is still an essential part of Mormon belief and has never been repudiated by Church authorities. God, I was told, will reveal the time for its reintroduction. I have met devout LDS who completely reject this supposedly divinely revealed teaching.
G. Here are some questions that come to the mind of a sincere inquirer. Why would the Mormon god reveal to mankind through Smith a practice so socially repulsive to the American people that the United States government had to order it stopped? If polygamy were revealed by God as so ESSENTIAL to heavenly glory and a part of the "restored" religion, why was it denied and kept secret for ten years by the LDS authorities? Why would an intelligent god order such a practice under threat of eternal damnation when he knew all along that in a few years Mormons would not be allowed to practice it, would be excommunicated from the Church if found in it?
34. DOES THE BIBLE CONTRADICT SMITH'S TEACHING ON POLYGAMY?
A. Yes it does. In the New Testament Jesus says:
"For this cause shall a man leave father and mother and shall cleave to his wife (not wives) and they twain shall be ONE flesh."
St. Paul writes:
"For the woman (singular) which hath an husband (singular) is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband."
(Romans 7: 1-3)
"A bishop must be blameless, the husband of ONE WIFE...let the deacons be the husbands of ONE WIFE..."
(I Tim. 3: 2, 12)
B. Mormon authorities appeal to evidence in the Old Testament for polygamy for which there is some. Yet they avoid those passages in the Old Testament even as far back as Genesis where monogamy is the ideal, and then follow those beautiful monogamous marriages from Isaac and Joseph to Judith and Tobit, his son, Tobias and Ezekiel. In the Book of Solomon, the love of the spouses is obviously undivided. All this denotes a real evolution in morality.
C. Old Testament experts point out that by the time of the New Testament period one wife is the current rule for Jewish marriages. Then Jesus comes not to destroy but to fulfill the creative plan for man and woman in marriage. They become "one flesh" in the eyes of the true Christian God.
D. Smith's supposed revelation on plural marriage either makes the Christian God or the Mormon god contradict true Biblical teaching on marriage.
E. For even the Book of Mormon, the most correct book of any on earth and containing the fullness of the everlasting gospel according to Smith, contradicts his teaching on polygamy:
"Behold David and Solomon truly had many wives and concubines, which thing was abominable before me, saith the Lord."
(Book of Jacob 2:23)
F. Richard L. Evans, in writing his article on Mormonism for Mr. Leo Rosten's book RELIGIONS OF AMERICA (1975) attempts to justify the early Mormon practice of having many wives by stating an untruth. He writes:
"Polygamy was practiced in Biblical times...righteously and with divine sanction."
The practice was condemned by the Mormon god in the Book of Mormon as abominable, and nowhere in the Old Testament was it sanctioned or commanded by the Christian God because it was righteous.
In Genesis 16:4 it was Sarah who suggested to her husband Abraham that he take Hagar her servant as his concubine. Then in verse 5 she says: "My wrong be upon thee: I have given my maid into thy bosom." Nor is there any command from God to Abraham to take Keturah as his wife (Gen. 25:1). There never was an Old Testament plan for polygamy. Since both the Book of Mormon and the Christian New Testament condemn this practice, the only reasonable explanation is that the Christian God allowed it due to their weakness just as he allowed divorce. Those Jews simply did not have the benefits of a later Christian morality.
G. Finally, Mormons today simply cannot explain away polygamy in their Church by saying it is now forbidden. Mormons found practicing it are excommunicated. The matter is closed. This is beside the point. What is to the point and a very serious one is that polygamy was taught by Joseph Smith as a doctrine from the Mormon god and a most essential one. Yet this teaching is not taught in the Book of Mormon (it is in fact condemned), and directly contradicts Christ's teaching on marriage in the New Testament. So either the Mormon god and the Christian god are wrong and Joseph is right, or Joseph was in error. Truly there is here confusion!
35. DO MORMONS BELIEVE THAT JESUS CHRIST WAS MARRIED?
A. They must believe that if they are to accept as true the revelation to Smith on plural marriages and the teachings of Brigham Young and Mormon scholars in this matter.
B. Brigham Young understood very well the teaching of Smith on plural marriages, for he taught:
"Only men who become gods, even the Sons of God...are those who enter polygamy."
(Journal of Discourses Vol. 11 p. 269)
When Young heard the criticism by outsiders that polygamy was a relic of barbarism he replied in these words:
"Yes, one of the relics of Adam, of Enoch, of Noah, of Abraham, of Isaac, of Jacob, of Moses, David, Solomon, the Prophets, OF JESUS and His Apostles."
(Journal of Discourses Vol. 2 p. 238)
C. Orson Hyde, one of the Twelve Apostles in the LDS Church wrote concerning the marriage feast at Cana in Galilee:
"We say it was Jesus who was married whereby he could see his seed before he was crucified."
(Journal of Discourses Vol. 2 p. 82)
"I discover that some of the Eastern papers represent me as a blasphemer, because I said, in my lecture on Marriage, at our last Conference, that Jesus was married at Cana of Galilee, that Mary, Martha and others were his wives, and that he begat children."
(Journal of Discourses Vol. 2 p. 210)
D. Mormon scholar, Bruce McConkie:
"...the whole history of ancient Israel was one in which a plurality of wives was the divinely accepted and approved order of matrimony. Millions of those who entered this order have, in and through it, gained for themselves eternal exaltation in the highest heaven of the celestial world."
(Mormon Doctrine 1966 p. 578)
E. So according to Smith and Young, Jesus would have to be married in order to be a god and a polygamist (certainly during Brigham Young's day) to be a god enjoying the highest bliss in the Mormon heaven. There is not one shred of valid evidence that Jesus was ever married to one woman let alone several. Thus Jesus must have at present a bliss far lower than that of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young. Obviously the Jesus of Mormonism is not the Jesus of the Christian Bible.
36. LDS CLAIM THAT IT IS ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL THAT THE TRUE CHURCH OF CHRIST HAVE TODAY TWELVE APOSTLES.
A. Thus the Mormons argue that since their church today alone has twelve apostles, it must be the true church of Christ.
B. Let us examine this matter very closely. The Apostles of the Gospels constituted a unique group. They are known as the "Twelve."
Yet theirs was not a perpetual institution since the conditions for membership in this select Twelve are laid down in the Acts of the Apostles 1: 21-22. The conditions were two:
1. personal experience of the living Jesus while He was here on this earth and
2. a witness to His resurrection.
Such conditions could only be fulfilled by some Christian living at that particular time in Palestine.
C. According then to the norms laid down in the New Testament, not one of the men who call themselves apostles and help rule the Mormon Church from Salt Lake City could legitimately be successors to the original Twelve chosen by Christ.
D. Why did Jesus choose only twelve men? Because this number was to represent the New Israel in contrast to the Old Israel which was made up of twelve tribes.
E. Now as to succession: why was it necessary to replace Judas? Simply because of the idea just given above. Judas was replaced because of his desertion and not because he died. At the time of his death all the others were still living. Notice - once James of Zebedee died (Acts 12:2) there was no attempt to replace him with a successor. The Twelve were looked upon as the founders of the New Israel and that is all. The thought of replacing them with another set of twelve is an idea unknown to the New Testament, or history.
F. Matthias was chosen for the replacement of Judas because he could fulfill the two requirements mentioned in Acts 1: 21-22. Had Judas been replaced precisely because of his death, then each of the Apostles as they died would have had to be replaced with a successor. Yet nowhere in the New Testament is there evidence of such a plan. The Twelve died one by one until John was the last to succumb, and while he was living he has given no testimony either in his Gospel or in any writing outside Scripture to the existence of replacements for the entire group. Successors they would have, but not another Twelve.
G. The Mormon reply is that Jesus appeared in the Americas after His Ascension and set up His Church a second time with another Twelve Apostles with the right of succession. This is only a theory and lacks all valid historical evidence.
37. WHAT ABOUT JOHN THE APOSTLE?
A. In Section Seven of Doctrine and Covenants there is a revelation given by the Mormon god to Joseph when he inquired whether or not John the Apostle had died or was still living. Joseph was told that John was still alive on this earth, having been left here at his own request to continue his apostolic work and bring men to salvation. Here is the wording of the revelation:
"And I (here John is speaking) said unto him: 'Lord, give me the power over death, that I may live and bring souls unto thee.' And the Lord said unto me: 'Verily, verily, I say unto thee because thou desirest this, thou shalt tarry until I come in my glory and shalt prophesy before nations, kindreds, tongues and peoples.'"
(Doctrine & Covenants 1949 Sec. 7 p. 11)
B. According to this revelation John the Apostle did not die (as all true Christians believe), but remained alive. Time and again Mormon missionaries have told me that John was the last Apostle to die, thereby contradicting the revelation Joseph said he received.
C. If John the Apostle has remained alive on this earth all this time, where has he been hiding? He was left behind at his own wish, but with the command from this god to go forth and preach the eternal gospel and witness to all peoples and bring in souls, none of which he has done. History both church and secular knows nothing about John being alive and at work among people in all these past centuries.
38. COULD THE MORMON CHURCH BE THE "TRUE CHURCH" OF CHRIST?
A. The LDS do not believe that Joseph Smith founded a new religious group as did other men and women in Protestantism. They claim their church to be the only true church on earth and refer to it as the "restored" church of Jesus Christ.
B. Soon after the death of the last Apostle, John, the true church Jesus founded in Palestine is supposed to have fallen away from His doctrines, the members having apostasized.
The gods took it off this earth. Some 1,500 years later it was restored here through Smith. Joseph, then, is not the founder of Mormonism, but only an instrument used by the gods to reinstate the church once more among mankind. LDS refer to this falling away of the members of the original church as the "Great or Total Apostasy."
C. Naturally the LDS authorities went to the Christian Bible in an attempt to prove their theory. Here are the texts they have chosen:
Matthew 24: 4-5
"Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ: and shall deceive MANY."
II Thessalonians 2:3
"Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there be a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition." (This text has absolutely nothing to do with apostasy a la LDS which supposedly took place centuries ago. Here Paul writes of the second coming of Christ at the end time, something that has not occurred as yet.)
I Tim. 1 19
"Holding faith, and a good conscience; which SOME having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck."
II Peter 2: 1-3
"But there were false prophets among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their perncious ways."
II Peter 3:6
"...in which are some things hard to be understood, which they THAT ARE UNLEARNED AND UNSTABLE wrest as they do also the other scriptures unto their own destruction."
D. Now it does not take a great deal of perception to see that these texts refer to persons, individual members of the Church who will, for one reason or another, leave Christ's Church. In no way do they even hint of the total collapse of the Church itself, the organization, and its disappearance from this earth. The organization is one thing; the people who join it another.
E. There were apostasies from Christ during His own life time. A well-known incident of this occurred right after His teaching on the Eucharist. John 6: 66 tells us what happened:
"From that time many of his disciples went back and walked no more with him."
Then there was the apostasy of Judas. Did all this spell the end of Christ and the remainder of His little band of followers? By no means.
F. Thus the texts quoted by the LDS simply refer to one fact: there were already members falling away from Christ during His own life time and that of the Apostles. Knowing human nature He predicted that scandals among His followers would come, indeed had to come! (Matthew 18:8)
There was then no "Total Apostasy." There could not have been as the Bible so clearly points out in our answer to the next question as to what Jesus had to say about the durability of His Church.
39. WHAT DID JESUS HAVE TO SAY CONCERNING HIS CHURCH?
A. What kind of future did Jesus envision for His church? From all that Jesus said and did in this area, He left no doubt in the minds of His Apostles and their successors just what He expected: that His Church was to have a permanent structure, spread over the entire world and lasting till the end of time.
"Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."
(Here Christ affirms that no one or nothing will be able to destroy His Church. There just could not be a "Total Apostasy.")
"And I will pray the Father and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever."
With these words Jesus assures the Apostles that there will be no falling away of the Church because it will have living within it till the end of time the Spirit of Truth, the Holy Spirit.
"All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost...and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world."
Here Jesus solemnly reassures His disciples that He will not go back on His promise to be always with them; that He will never desert them.
B. The meaning of the words in these three texts is very clear and only a person with a closed mind could fail to recognize their obvious meaning. Jesus desired that His Church not fall apart and disappear. He firmly willed its continued existence and His words had the power to bring about what He willed. Jesus demonstrated this with a mere, effortless statement. When a leper cried out to Jesus that He could heal him if He wished, Jesus simply replied:
"I will; be thou cleaned."
Again, that He had supreme power over His own human life, Jesus said:
"I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down and I have power to take it up again."
Surely the LDS would not belittle this power Jesus said He had. Would they reduce the power in His words even including a solemn promise ("Behold I am with you all days...") to the level of emptiness or an untruth? If Jesus said the Church would stand for all time, then it would.
C. Such a long range program Jesus had in mind could never be accomplished by the Apostles in their own lifetime. They were going to need future helpers. This is certainly implied by the words of Luke who wrote the first history of the infant church. To the Twelve Luke recalls these words of Jesus:
"But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth."
D. There would be no limit to the Apostolic mission. Its goal was world-wide and its work continuous through the succession of Apostolic authority. Thus the LDS theory of the disappearance of Christ's Church in the Middle East and its later renewal in America around 1,500 years later is just a theory and not a fact; a theory totally foreign to the New Testament.
E. Just when and how this "Total Apostasy" of Christ's Church occurred, the LDS are at a loss to adequately explain. They have no accurate names, dates or place to offer as incontrovertible proof.
F. The LDS charge of a corruption of the true teaching of Jesus in the early history of the Church is denied by what John recorded of the words of Jesus, and what Paul preached to Timothy:
"When the spirit of truth is come, he will guide you into all truth."
(That Holy Spirit came at Pentecost and abides with the Church forever.)
I Timothy 3:14
"Thou mayest know how to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of truth."
(Paul knew well that the Church will uphold and safeguard the true and complete teachings of Jesus.)
G. If we assume that the LDS theory is really a fact, then the only valid glaring conclusion we can draw from the words and actions of Jesus is that He simply did not know what He was saying or doing - insane or a liar! There is no evidence as to the first. He knew what He was doing and what He expected from His members with His promise of lasting help. If Christ be God (or even a god), why would He deliberately lie?
H. Mormon authorities reason backwards. They do not start from the beginning; they do not carefully examine the history of the early Church of Christ to see the marvelous results of the preaching of the Apostles and their successors. Hundreds of thousands of people from all races and nations, from all walks of life poured into the Church and began a life of Christianity under the authority of the successors to the Apostles, as the Holy Spirit lived and worked among them.
I. Instead the LDS Church starts with a conclusion already formed in their minds: that sometime after the death of the last Apostle John, the true church of Jesus lapsed into corruption and ceased to exist on this earth.
J. Seeing this conclusion as absolutely essential to their own organization, the LDS then proceed to examine the early history of the Church, trying to discover the slightest proof for their pre-conceived ideas.
In doing so, they have unfortunately distorted and misinterpreted historical facts, as well as misinterpreted Bible passages and blinded themselves to the most obvious meaning of key Bible texts.
K. In my discussions with Mormon missionaries I was surprised to discover their complete ignorance of the writings of the "Fathers of the Church" - those brilliant, learned and holy Christian writers of the first seven centuries of Christianity. These scholars have left behind a wealth of information on the thoughts and plans of Jesus, the nature and goals of His Church and a description of its existence in their own times. Nowhere do these learned men write of any "Total Apostasy" occurring in Christ's Church. Rather they tell of a Church which is alive and doing quite well among them and has by no means disappeared.
40. HASN'T THE LDS CHURCH UNDERGONE ITS OWN GREAT APOSTASY?
Yes it has both as to doctrine and membership, and this Church is not yet 150 years old. A. There are many groups claiming to originate from Joseph Smith and they seem hopelessly divided. They accuse each other of being heretical and of espousing doctrines that are not of Joseph. For example of the Reorganized LDS Church denies the doctrines of a plurality of Gods, polygamy and baptism for the dead, all major teachings of the Utah Church.
B. The best known of the many groups and the one with the largest membership are the Mormons with their headquarters in Salt Lake City. The Reorganized Church has its center in Independence, Missouri. All of Joseph's descendants belong to this group.
C. Some of the other groups include: Church of Christ, Temple Lot; Church of Jesus Christ; Church of the First Born; Order of Aaron; the Strangites; the Bickertonites.
D. Smith's teaching about a continuous guidance for the Church in order to keep it together in doctrine and practices by means of constant revelations (modern day revelation, the Mormons call it) from heaven, has actually failed Joseph Smith's Church. It has experienced a falling apart and a disunity Smith never counted on. Many Mormons have left their church, while many more remain in, yet smoke, drink and reject polygamy even in theory. Thus the Utah Church exists as just one group out of the hundred or more (estimated) groups that base their beliefs on the teachings of Joseph Smith. Today the Mormon Church can be seen as part of a great apostasy that occurred in the Church of Jesus Christ, Latter Day Saints.
41. WHY ARE THE MORMONS SO SUCCESSFUL IN MAKING CONVERTS?
Mormons point to the rapid growth of their church as a sign that it must truly be from God. Actually natural factors alone can account for their success. Here are some of them:
A. Some 25,000 young missionaries are engaged full time, day in and day out scouring the neighborhoods as they seek new members. They bring to their work a dedication that is exceedingly impressive. They come with a fine, clean-cut appearance and are very polite. Such youthful enthusiasm and almost fanatical zeal are bound to get results.
B. There are millions of people who have no membership with any denomination or who are dissatisfied with their present beliefs. Engaged full time, the missionaries are able to visit such people daily and for weeks when they feel they have a good foothold. The number of man hours put in on one future convert is impressive.
C. Many contacts know little of basic Christian doctrine nor their Bible. Thus they are unable to detect the unproven assertions of the missionaries and the using of biblical texts out of context and with a false interpretation. This plus the remarkable zeal and deep conviction of these young men convinces the contact that what their visitors are saying is the truth. Yet conviction and sincerity are not synonymous with truth. People don't catch this important point during a visit.
D. Almost every Mormon member seems to be one the lookout for new members, and will use any act of kindness to further this goal. Many times it works.
E. To prospective converts the Mormon Church can offer some very attractive benefits. There is, for example, a church-sponsored "social security" program so good that it makes a lot of Mormons think twice about leaving their Church for another.
F. LDS can offer a Scout and Youth program which is one of the finest in the country. Family life is stressed as well as an atmosphere of brotherly and sisterly concern.
G. Many people join the Mormon Church through marriage. Love for their Mormon spouse is far stronger than a love for religious truth.
H. Non-Mormons are forbidden to see the inside of Mormon Temples. This fact plus the performance of secret, mystical rites on members in good standing in such Temples gives the LDS religion an air of mystery which attracts membership to certain types of people and offers them a feeling of superiority that they are in on something their neighbor isn't.
42. IS JOSEPH SMITH MORE IMPORTANT THAN JESUS CHRIST?
Apparently most LDS would strongly object to the very idea of such a question, although I have met Mormons who agreed Smith was more important. LDS do not seem to realize the serious implications of Smith and Young as well as the entire theological structure of Mormonism in relation to Jesus. Here are some facts from which the reader can draw his own conclusions.
A. Since Mormonism teaches polytheism, Jesus Christ is only one god of many gods. He is not really all that unique. Joseph Smith is at this very moment according to LDS teaching a god as fully as Jesus is. There is then no essential, radical difference between Smith and Jesus.
B. This Jesus was sent to earth to establish His church which shortly after His mortal life, fell apart through corruption of doctrine and apostasy of its members despite the promise of Jesus to hold it together.
C. LDS also claim that immediately after His Ascension, Christ visited the American continent and established a second Church there. Yet it too fell apart. Although a god with full power from the Father who sent him, Jesus was unable to hold this second church together. At any rate, we know from the Mormon story that Jesus was not the one the entire world would have to look to for the implementation of the plan of salvation.
D. No, the future salvation of the human race would become centered on one man, Joseph Smith. To him will be given the task of organizing the church for the third time and this time it will be done correctly apparently with more help from the gods than Jesus was given. From Smith's own story he becomes the key man. Jesus was important in His own way but a greater than He was yet to come.
E. Brigham Young, successor to Joseph and to the Mormons of his day the only true prophet and mouth piece for God on this planet, denied the power of the blood of Christ shed on the cross to redeem every sin of man. He thus lowered Christ's sacrifice to an imperfect act. So again Jesus had failed to do the job.
F. One of the great and somber days commemorated among all true Christians is Good Friday, the day Jesus proved how deep His love for us really was. It is a day of sorrow and repentance by all Christians worthy of the name as they ponder this offering of Jesus' life of their behalf. Many businesses are closed at twelve noon and churches are packed. The Mormons don't bother with this great and sorrowful day so special to Christians.
G. Joseph Smith during his life on earth was closer to the Father than Jesus ever was. This is obvious from the many revelations the Father gave Smith, far more than Jesus ever could have hoped for.
H. God the Father even let Joseph in on some of the secrets of outer space. In a revelation concerning the moon, Smith reported:
"The inhabitants of the moon are more of a uniform size than the inhabitants of the earth, being about six feet in height. They dress very much like the Quaker style and are quite general in style or the fashion of dress. They live to be very old: coming generally near a thousand years."
(From Journal of Oliver B. Buntington, a devout Mormon contemporary of Smith. Copy at Utah State Historical Society Vol. II p. 166)
I. At no time did Jesus ever tamper with the Sacred Writings of the Old Testament. Yet Joseph claimed he had the power from God to retranslate and even change and add to the text of the Holy Bible!
J. Milton B. Hunter, a member of the Council of the Seventy, a part of the ruling body of the Utah Church had this to write:
"The Prophet Joseph Smith produced for the world three new volumes of holy scriptures, namely the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price, and in addition he revised the Bible. NO PROPHET WHO HAS EVER LIVED has accomplished such a tremendous feat. There are only 177 pages in the Old Testament attributed to Moses, while Joseph Smith either translated through the gift and power of God or received as direct revelation from Jehovah 835 pages."
Deseret News, Salt Lake City July 18, 1970)
Jesus was never allowed to accomplish such a feat as this!
K. In one of his teachings Brigham Young had this to say about Smith:
"Joseph Smith holds the keys of this last dispensation, and is now engaged behind the veil in the great work of the last days...that no man or woman in this dispensation will ever enter into the celestial kingdom of God WITHOUT THE CONSENT OF JOSEPH SMITH...I cannot go there without his consent.
He holds the keys to the kingdom for this last dispensation - the keys to rule in the spirit world! And he rules there triumphantly, for HE GAINED FULL POWER AND A GLORIOUS VICTORY OVER THE POWER OF SATAN WHILE HE WAS YET IN THE FLESH and was a martyr to his religion and to the name of Christ, which gives him A MOST PERFECT VICTORY in the spirit world.
He reigns there as supreme a being in his sphere, capacity and calling as God does in heaven."
(Journal of Discourses Vol. VII p. 289)
L. Now this is no mere "off the cuff" remark by Young. It is the clear teaching of Smith's successor, the forthright teaching of a true prophet and mouthpiece of the gods. Little wonder all true Christians are shocked by these words.
Joseph then is portrayed as more powerful than Jesus. No true Christian can accept such a doctrine. It was Jesus not Smith, who gained the full and glorious victory over Satan. Here again the work of Jesus is downgraded. It is Jesus Christ who is central and not Smith. The Apostle John states this very clearly in his Gospel 14:6:
"Jesus says 'I am the way, the truth and the life: no man can come to the Father except by me.'"
(Smith's consent is not necessary)
A. When I first began my study of Mormonism I took it for granted that it was Christian. This I can no longer do. The Doctrines of the Utah Church are directly opposed to the great doctrinal themes of the Christian Bible, especially to the teachings of Jesus Christ. Polytheism, Baptism for the dead, the Book of Mormon, the inferiority of the Negro are serious errors.
B. The dimensions of this small work prohibited further examination of such Mormon doctrines as individual Blood Atonement for sin, the Hereafter, Universal Salvation, Original Sin, Secret Mystical Temple Rites etc. These plus other doctrines already examined in these pages put the Mormon Church well outside the boundary of true Christianity.
C. Mormon theology is as baffling as it is complex. It is puzzling to read these words of a well-known Mormon theologian:
"Of all the Churches in the world this (the Mormon Church) has not found it necessary to readjust any part of its doctrines in the last one hundred years."
(No Ma'am That's Not History by Hugh Nibley 1946 p. 46)
D. Yet the Mormon Church in the last one hundred years has had to readjust its doctrine on polygamy. While Smith said that polygamy was absolutely essential for the highest heavenly bliss, Bruce McConkie, another Mormon theologian writes:
"Plural marriage is not essential to salvation or exaltation."
(Mormon Doctrine p. 523)
Mormon doctrine no longer holds that Jesus was a polygamist. Nor does the Church continue to teach that Adam was the Father-God with whom the people of the planet have to deal. No longer do Mormons openly teach the doctrine of a Blood Atonement people must undergo for certain sins.
E. Again - in the October 9, 1976 issue of the Mormon publication Church News, the teaching of Brigham Young on the Adam-God is repudiated as false doctrine.
"We warn you against the dissemination of doctrines which are not taught in the scriptures and which are alleged to have been taught by some of the General Authorities of past generation. Such, for instance, is the Adam-God theory."
F. Brigham Young, as we have shown, very clearly taught the doctrine of Adam-God. It was not theory to Brigham and he preached it to the Church as Mormon scripture, and it was understood to be such by other Mormon leaders in Young's day and for years after.
Young's teaching on the Adam-God appears in volume one of the Journal of Discourses. In front of the book there is a letter signed by Brigham in which he claims that the sermons recorded in the volume have been faithfully reported. The letter was dated June 1, 1853 - fourteen months after his sermon on the Adam-God. The teaching of the Prophet Young on Adam being our God is very clear and unmistakable. So is the repudiation of it today by Mormon authorities.
G. It is disconcerting to read the following from Orson Pratt, Mormon Apostle and scholar:
"What evidence have they...that any of the books of the New Testament are inspired by God? Can we really rely on it in its present corrupted state? Who knows that even one verse of the whole Bible has escaped pollution?"
(The Bible Alone An Insufficient Guide pp. 44-47)
If we cannot rely on the text of the Christian Bible, why are hundreds of words and phrases from it exactly reproduced in the Book of Mormon, the most correct book of any book according to Smith, and why do the LDS continue to use such a "corrupted" Bible?
H. I am puzzled that the science of archaeology has been unable all these years to uncover one piece of valid evidence to prove the assertion of the Book of Mormon that a great, wide-spread Christian civilization existed in the Americas before the time of Columbus.
I. I would not find it unreasonable to believe in modern-day revelation as Joseph Smith taught. What is unreasonable is that some the revelations he claimed he received from heaven contradicted what had already been revealed as true by the Christian God.
J. LDS missionaries seem to deliberately blind themselves to the most obvious meaning of Bible texts. When cornered on one point they jump to another. This does not make for a reasonable discussion.
K. It puzzles me that Mormon missionaries and some LDS people take offense at Christians who offer a reply to their objections to Christian doctrines. Mormon people must remember that it was their prophet from God, who made the charge that all the other Christian churches were corrupt and an abomination in the sight of God. Joseph claimed that he received this information directly from heaven by a revelation. It was Joseph then who made the first accusation, who threw the challenge to all true Christians, and many Mormons believe in that accusation today. LDS people ought not overlook the great sensitivity in the hearts of Christians to Smith's condemnation. His challenge must be met and answered.
L. Mormon people must be respected for their beliefs however unchristian these beliefs are. A real effort must be made especially in discussions to try and understand them and, above all, to love them with the love of Jesus. They have a right in conscience to believe as they do. Their religious errors we cannot accept.
M. I don't think that many good and wonderful LDS people are aware of the real history of their Church and the teachings of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young and the implications of those teachings. Mormons seem to be kept very busy to keep the Church going and not encouraged to ask detailed questions about Mormon doctrines.
N. Mormon authorities are faced with the dilemma of accepting the supposedly revealed doctrines of Smith and Young pushed to their logical conclusions, and still desiring to see their Church as quite logical and truly Christian.
O. Mormon belief is almost totally divorced from reason. True, the Christian himself must accept some of Christ's teachings on faith, but the basis for this faith is rational, not offensive to the mind. I have not found this to be so with the Mormon Church's beliefs.
P. Therefore, I respectfully submit that the Utah Church could not possibly have originated from the Christian God Who is not only One, True, All-Wise, but All-Reasonable. Mormonism simply sprang from the fantasy of one man's mind, Joseph Smith Jr.
"God, who is sundry times and in diverse manners spake in time past unto the fathers of the prophets, Hath IN THESE LAST DAYS spoken unto us by his son..."
(Hebrews 1: 1-2)
The New Testament states that Jesus Christ is the last of a long line of messengers from God, and this last one is none other than His own beloved Son, the greatest of them all! There is no need for a Joseph Smith and his Mormon Church, because the only One, True Christian God said so.
"But though we, or an ANGEL FROM HEAVEN, preach ANY OTHER GOSPEL unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.
As we said before, so I say now again, if ANY MAN preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed."
(Galatians 1: 8-9)
NOTES ON THE QUESTIONS
Q 6-A Notes
Joseph was brought to trial two times: in 1830 and four years earlier in 1826. In his Documented History of the Church (DHC) Smith gives an account of his birth, ancestry and his early years including the supposed encounter with the Father and the Son in the woods, and later with the angel, Moroni, who revealed to him the golden plates. He also describes the 1830 trial in which he was acquitted (DHC Vol. I, pp. 88-96). Yet Joseph never mentioned the 1826 trial in which he was found guilty. Why this omission?
"It may have been that Smith himself came to feel that "Glass-looking" for treasure was somewhat beneath the dignity of a genuine prophet, and this led him to omit all reference to the 1826 trial from his own 1838 History and to assert that his first legal entanglement occurred after he had organized his new church."
(J. Smith's Bainbridge, N.Y. Trials by Wesley Walters. Modern Microfilm Co. Salt Lake City, Utah.)
Smith stated that in 1825 he was digging in the ground but only to help a friend discover a lost Spanish silver mine. After a month of fruitless searching, Joseph wrote in his History: "Hence arose the very prevalent story of my having been a money-digger." (DHC Vol. I, p. 17). Then came the 1826 trial and the sworn testimony of witnesses in this documented court proceeding tells quite another story and makes Joseph Smith the prophet less than honest.
Q 13 Notes
If one holds that there were no set of golden plates from heaven, then who wrote the Book of Mormon? Here there is much controversy. We may never know the author. To the question - Is the Book from the Christian God? - the answer is no. There is a pile of evidence to support this verdict.
(Mormonism Shadow or Reality? by the Tanners pp. 50-96)
Q 14-G Notes
According to David Whitmer, one of the three original witnesses to the golden plates, Smith did not translate the language on the plates. "The Book of Mormon was translated by the gift and power of God, and not by any power of man."
(An Address To All Believers in Christ p. 12)
Joseph Fielding Smith, Tenth President, Prophet and Seer of the Church in a sermon stated: "Joseph Smith did not render the writing on the plates into the English language in his own style of language as many people believe, but every word and letter was given to him by the gift and power of God." (The Oliver Huntington Journal p. 168 typed copy). Presumably this Tenth prophet from God knew what he was talking about.
Joseph Smith himself declared that the Book of Mormon was "the most correct book on earth." Despite all this weighty Mormon testimony, almost four thousand corrections have been made in this "divine" translation since its publication in 1830. Most of them concern spelling and sentence structure. Some words have been deleted or added to deliberately alter the meaning of the text and doctrine! This can be verified by comparing the original 1830 edition with later ones.
Time and again archaeologists have verified the correctness of what the Christian Bible states. Nothing has been found to prove the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. How can this be if the Christian God were responsible for both books?
Q 15 Notes
The first compilation of Joseph Smith's "revelations" was made in 1833 and it was entitled The Book of Commandments. More "revelations" were added in 1835 in a new compilation and the name was changed to Doctrine and Covenants (D&C). Since then, scores of changes have been made in the recorded revelations to change their meaning to suit the mind of the Church authorities. A comparison of the Original Book of Commandments with succeeding editions of the Doctrine and Covenants will reveal this. Most Mormons are not aware of such tamperings.
(A good comparison is made by H. L. Ropp in his Mormon Papers pp. 55-62).
Q 18 Notes
The Book of Abraham presents an insurmountable difficulty for the Mormon authorities. Mr. Dee Jay Nelson, a devout Mormon and expert in ancient Egyptian languages, made a translation of the same papyrus Smith used to produce his Translation of the Book of Abraham. Mr. Nelson discovered that Joseph's translation was a complete fabrication, containing none of the ideas Smith said it did. On December 8, 1975 Mr. Nelson with his family left the Mormon Church. The testimonies of three internationally recognized Egyptologists are against Joseph Smith's translation. They are Professors Klaus Baer & John Wilson of the University of Chicago and Richard Parker of Brown University.
(Mormonism Shadow or Reality? by the Tanners, 4th Ed. 1982 pp. 316-317)
QQ 27 and 28 Notes
On June 9, 1978, Spencer W. Kimball , President, Prophet, Seer and Revelator of the Mormon Church, announced to the world that he had received a few days earlier a "direct revelation" from heaven, the news that the Negro of African descent can now receive the full blessings of the gospel of Jesus Christ as given through the LDS Church. This means that they can now be admitted to the Mormon priesthood.
Non-mormons have known for years that the LDS Church would have to change its incredibly unchristian stand against the black man. The only way to get out of this embarrassing doctrinal position was to have the Mormon prophet claim he received a "revelation" from God (and which god was it - Adam?) to change this teaching.
Yet a serious question still remains. Why was the Mormon leader seeking in 1978 a revelation from above for permission to preach to and bestow upon a huge part of the human race the full blessings of Christ's teachings, when that permission had already been given (in fact was commanded) by the Christian God almost two thousand years ago? Read Matthew 28: 19-20.
Amazingly this same idea of the universality of Christ's blessings is to be found in the book of Mormon (II Nephi 26:33) published 148 years ago! Truly something is still very wrong here.
The Church published a statement about a revelation given to their Prophet, but has never made public a copy of the "actual revelation" as Joseph Smith did with his "revelations" which appear today in D & C. Why not? It seems there is none to publish! The most reasonable explanation I have read as to how and why a change came in this major doctrine is that President Kimball made the change because the Church was going deeper into trouble at home and abroad over its racist theology.