An article on some common and recurring weak argument and debating tactics that Latter-day Saints use in their defense of Mormonism that result in weak arguments.
by Fred W. Anson

“Caïn venant de tuer son frère Abel” by Henry Vidal in Tuileries Garden in Paris, France

“”The non-LDS world has a history of perpetuating criticism, caricature, othering, antagonism and shaming of Mormons. This leads to a reaction on the part of the Latter-day Saints: retrenchment, militancy, withdrawal from civic conversation, and a dynamic I call ‘undergrounding,’ something that happens a lot in our political history where we tell the outside world one story in order to protect our inside story.”
Joanna Brooks, “Violence, Mormonism, and the Sobering Lessons of History”,
Sunstone Magazine, Summer 2015, p.50

The last article in this series created quite a stir. It was “grass catcher” list of weak arguments and debate tactics that mainstream Christians regularly use that undermine their engagements with Latter-day Saints. And while the article was warmly, often even enthusiastically, received on both sides of the Evangelical-Mormon divide, a common response was, “OK, where’s the equivalent list for Mormons?” Well, the wait is over, here it is.

How to Make Weak Arguments for Mormonism:

  1. Attack your debating opponent instead of their evidence or arguments. Use ad-hominem arguments.
  2. Misrepresent or exaggerate your debating opponent’s arguments so they’re easier to overcome. Use straw man arguments.
  3. Misquote and abuse 3 Nephi 11:29.  That is, rail against your debating opponent with a bold “Contention is of the devil” denunciation while you’re contending for the Mormon faith. Oh and, since you’re already playing the “beam in your eye” hypocrite before an amused audience, make sure that you completely ignore the passages in scripture that blatantly advocate (such as Jude 1:3, I Thessalonians 2:2) and model (like most of the Book of Mormon for example) righteous contention. Compromised integrity and duplicity is always so persuasive isn’t it? (NOT!)
  4. Over generalize! If you’re the only Mormon who believes something say that all Mormons do. If an uncorrelated, progressive, or Neo-Orthodox Mormon (like Terryl or Fiona Givens for example) makes an unorthodox claim then point to it as the norm. Claim that a “one off” address by a modern Mormon Leader represents what Mormonism has always taught throughout it’s history. You know, do things like point to Brad Wilcox’s 2011 BYU devotional, “His Grace Is Sufficient” or President Uchtdorf’s, Spring General Conference 2015 address “The Gift of Grace” and claim that they accurately represent official current and historic LDS soteriology.[1]
  5. In a similar vein, stereotype! For example, identify a mainstream Christian who has behaved badly (Jim Bakker, Jimmy Swaggert, Ted Haggard, etc.) and treated God’s grace and mercy as a license to sin, and then claim that all mainstream Christians behave this way. After all, Mormons never do that (think John D. LeePaul H. Dunn, Porter Rockwell, Wild Bill Hickman, John C. Bennett, Sidney Rigdon) do they?
  6. Use your conclusion as evidence for your argument. Engage in circular logic – you know something like, “I know that the only true church is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints because I have an inner witness that it’s the only true church.” I mean, really, who can argue with logic like that?
  7. Present speculation and conjecture with no supporting evidence to back them as fact. Argue from silence. For example, argue that the lack of archaeological evidence for the Book of Mormon proves nothing. Even better, argue that the lack of such evidence actually proves that it’s true because God is using it to test our faith.[2]


    (click to zoom)

  8. Bifurcate rather than nuance. Claim that there is only black or white, good or evil, on or off. Create false dichotomies.
  9. Argue that because you don’t know or understand something it must be false. Or better yet, to claim that something must be true! Use your ignorance as irrefutable proof that your debating opponent is wrong. When in doubt appeal to ignorance – I mean, sure, it makes you look like an uninformed fool, but what the hey!
  10. Don’t support your arguments with any evidence (let alone objective evidence). And if challenged, act indignant and offended that you should be required to produce any evidence at all! I mean, after all, isn’t the burden of proof on the person not arguing your position? You know, just like it’s the prosecuting attorney’s job to produce evidence for the defense in a criminal case – yeah, it’s like that.[3]
  11. Assert that something is true simply because you’ve said it is. After all, your word is good enough, right? I mean, come on, you’re Mormon, and therefore, you know everything about Mormonism by virtue of that fact – that should be enough, right? Appeal to yourself as authority – use yourself as indisputable, absolutely authoritative, irrefutable evidence! Why does anyone need to research anything when the best, most reliable source is right there in front of them telling them the way it is?
  12. Use testimony bearing or “the witness of the Spirit” as evidence. Argue from feelings, promptings, and impressions and other appeals to emotion.[4]
  13. Assert that your debate opponent “doesn’t get it” and “can’t get it” because they don’t have the Holy Ghost and, therefore, can’t hear His voice. And when you do make sure that you’re as condescending and arrogant as possible in using this variation on the ad-hominem fallacy so they can fully understand and feel the great depth of their state of blindness.
  14. Argue that because something is popular it must be true. Drive that bandwagon fallacy right over your debating opponent! For example, argue that Mormonism must be true or it wouldn’t be growing so fast worldwide. Uh, by the way, about that “growing so fast” claim . . .[5]
  15. Don’t acknowledge when your debating opponent makes a valid point. Never surrender, never give in! After all this war right?

    Subjective v. Objective Evidence. One can proved by means of search, like analysis, measurement, and observation and one can't. One is valid and unchanging regardless of one's feelings, and one isn't.

    Subjective v. Objective Evidence. One can proved by means of search, like analysis, measurement, and observation and one can’t. One is valid and unchanging regardless of one’s feelings, and one isn’t.

  16. Suddenly and without warning disappear from the debate. Let chirping Mormon crickets argue for you instead. If there were a name for this it might be called the “Cop Out” or “Argue with my Back!” Fallacy. And some Mormons seem to like it a lot – especially when they’re issued a “OK, show me where I’m wrong” challenge.[6]
  17. Cyber stalk or conspire against your debating opponents behind the scenes. After all this is war – so sabotage is just par for the course. Of course, it’s just a form of the type of walking in spiritual darkness that’s consistently condemned in scripture but what the hey, it’s so cool to be a modern Gadianton robber ain’t it? (By the way, this is sociopathological behavior – I just thought that you’d like to know)
  18. Don’t give your debating opponent’s evidence any serious consideration. Better yet, just ignore it and act like it doesn’t exist. For example, even though mainstream Christians repeatedly tell you that they believe in, “Salvation by grace alone through faith alone,” continue to argue that they believe in “Salvation by grace alone” and pound away on that straw man argument.
  19. Ditto for challenging questions. Ignore them. Socratic Method is so stupid!
  20. Don’t become familiar with your debating opponent’s culture and language. After all, if they have anything of value to say they can say and do like we do it in Mormon culture! After all we’re better than they are, aren’t we?
  21. Be condescending because, frankly, we really are better than they are – especially all those lousy, despicable “Anti’s” out there who hate and only want to destroy God’s only true and living Church.[7]

    (click to zoom)

    (click to zoom)

  22. Speaking of “Anti’s”, always label. After all labeling is a wonderful defense mechanism since once it’s done you can stereotype and thus deceive yourself into feeling like you have power over them.  And if you use negative labels you can condescend to those below you – even better! And have we recommended arrogant condescension yet? Oh, we did? Well you can never emphasize that one too much can you? It’s a good one – it puts those “Anti’s” right in their place!
  23. Use special pleading fallacies. Argue that rules, laws, evidences and realities that apply everywhere else don’t apply to Mormonism. I mean, come on, why should DNA evidence apply to the Book of Mormon people anyhow? Really people, really?
  24. Assert your Priesthood Authority whenever possible. I mean, it means absolutely nothing to anyone or carries any weight outside of Mormonism but why not? And I assert this in the name of the Royal Priesthood![8]
  25. Use lots and lots of insults and personal attacks! Oh, did we already mention this one? Oh yeah, that was kinda included in the very first one by implication wasn’t it? Well, since this is one the most common weak arguments used by Latter-day Saints, it probably bears repeating doesn’t it?
  26. Troll. Throw out provocative, incendiary arguments of little real substance but high emotional impact with the deliberate intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion. (and thank you Wikipedia for that excellent definition)
  27. Appeal to authority from sources that Mormons would never preach from or use in their services since they attack and undermine the fundamental truth claims that undergird Judaism, Mormonism and/or mainstream Christianity. This includes, but isn’t limited to: John Shelby Spong, The Jesus SeminarRobert Price, Margaret Barker, James Tabor, Richard Dawkins, and Bart Ehrman. Yeah, it’s kind of like drinking your own poison or shooting yourself in the foot but it’s better to be hospitalized or lose a foot if it protects Joseph Smith and modern Mormon dogma ain’t it? Besides it’s fun to argue like an atheist!
  28. Cite from unofficial, uncorrelated Latter-day Saint sources as if they’re official voices of the Church. First and foremost do so with with your own personal opinion – state it as if it’s being delivered by the President of the LDS Church at General Conference himself. After that move onto Mormon Apologist websites like FAIRMormon or Lightplanet. Not official? Who cares – after all a rock can be a fork if it gets the job done, right? unofficial-mormon-apologist
  29. Cite from partisan Mormon Apologists but then object strenuously when your debating opponent cites from Mormon Critics. Sure it’s a hypocritical double standard but weak and inexperienced debaters may not catch or call you on it – so go for it. For example, cite from Sorenson’s “Mormon’s Codex” but then throw a hissy fit when someone cites from the Tanner’s “Mormonism Shadow or Reality?”.
  30. Which brings us to another Latter-day Saint rhetorical favorite: Use double standards. For example: First, demand that your debating opponent produce a single verse from the Bible that explicitly proves the Trinity rather than building a case from several verses throughout the Bible; Then claim that they’re making a ridiculous and unfair demand on you when they demand the same “single verse as the standard of proof” for Celestial Marriage.
  31. Use Latter-day Saint scripture (other than the Bible) as if it’s authoritative for your non-Mormon opponent as it is for you. Nothing will silence them as quickly as, “As the Book of Mormon tells us . . . ” will it? (hint: It won’t) Better yet give them quotes from General Conference – surely they’ll listen to and respect the authority of Living Prophets won’t they? (hint: They won’t)
  32. Ignore the rules of sound text interpretation and hermeneutics.[9]  For example, use lots and lots of eisegesis – inserting meaning that the author didn’t intend and content into the text that the author didn’t say. Sound text interpretation and hermeneutics are based on exegesis – drawing meaning and content directly from the text – but that’s another subject for another day (probably an entire article in fact).
  33. Be inconsistent. For example, bear your testimony as evidence that you have the witness of God that Mormonism is right and true. But when your debating opponent bears their testimony that they have the witness of God that Mormonism isn’t right or true, refuse to accept it claiming that it’s from a source other than God.[10]
  34. Be confirmation bias driven. For example, argue that Mormon must be truth because Mormons are good, warm, loving, sincere, well intentioned people genuinely tiring to always be their best and do the right thing.In other words, use the “inspect the fruit” argument while ignoring the fact that most people are good, warm, loving, sincere, well intentioned people who are genuinely trying to always be their best and do the right thing. The only way that one can be blind to the fact that Mormons are hardly unique in this is to put those confirmation bias blinders on!

    Confirmation driven apologetics.

    Confirmation Bias driven apologetics.

  35. Engage in Drama Queening. To continue from the previous example, get really indignant and offended when your debating opponent points out that one can be a good, warm, loving, sincere, well intentioned person and still be dead wrong. Better yet, threaten to withdraw from this place of persecution filled with haters! And if you do leave, make sure you cyber bomb social media about how you’ve been unjustly wounded, hounded, and wronged by these modern Korihors. Bleed over everything and everybody – let it flow like a river! Guilt manipulate baby, it works like a Jedi mind trick!
  36. Use Postmodern relativism as a defense. Say something like, “Well if what you believe works for you and what I believe works for me then who’s to say that the other person is wrong?” If that’s the case then all the Mormon Missionaries need to be called in from the field and the program shut down since what all those folks already believe is working for them, right? Who’s to say that they’re wrong, right?
  37. Instead of directly engaging your debating opponent’s arguments try to parry with a, “Well, what about when you and you guys? You do and say such and such!” Tu Quoque fallacy ’em to heck! I mean it’s really a non-argument because the moral character or past actions of the opponent are generally irrelevant to the logic of the argument. But what the hey, if they’re stupid enough to “bite” why not try it if it gets Joseph Smith and Mormonism off the hook? Then again, a trained logician will call you on and you’ll just look foolish . . . oh well!
  38. Use aliases and sock puppet accounts to hide your true identity so you can behave badly online. Yes, it’s yet more sociopathological behavior but, hey man, if you used your real identity you’ve have to behave better in public or your reputation would be ruined wouldn’t it? And we can’t have that!
  39. Lie for the Lord. After all if Muslims can do it and since past Mormon Leaders have done it, why not?
  40. Dismiss an statement as ridiculous or absurd without giving proof or reasoned arguments for why. In other words, engage in an “Appeal to the Stone” fallacy. For example, when a debating opponent produces evidence that Official Declarations 1 and 2 were born out of political, social, and financial expediency rather than anything divine (as evidenced by the fact that they refer to revelations but don’t actually give them) claim that the whole argument is, “Just ridiculous! Utterly absurd!” without offering any countering evidence for your rebuttal. Better yet, combine it with an, “And you’re just a cynical, hate filled ‘Anti’ for saying that!” ad-hominem to make it ridiculous and absurd.
  41. Engage in Psychological Projection: Project your behavior onto your debating opponent rather than acknowledging and owning it. For example, if you’re engaging in arrogant condescension accuse your debating opponent of looking down at you and having a superior air about them. If you’re angry, upset, and out of control accuse them of being angry, upset, and out of control. This is a wonderful defense mechanism, use it often! Yeah, it’s a form of self deception that keeps you in denial, but… whatever!
  42. Say things like, “The ends justify the means” to rationalize your bad arguments and behavior. Sure, it’s not scriptural, but why be picky when the defense of your testimony is on the line?
  43. Move the goalposts. For example, insist that your debating opponent only use official Church sources like the official church website. When they do insist that they didn’t interpret the content properly. When they then cite Mormon Leaders who share exactly the same interpretation from the official church website, then pull out #13 and tell them that they can’t possibly truly understand Mormon Leaders or Latter-day Saint Doctrine because they’re not a member and, therefore, don’t have the Holy Ghost giving them the true enlightenment that you possess. And if they overcome that then pick up that goalpost yet again and, “Push ’em back! Push ’em back! Push ’em way back!” Eventually they’ll either call you on this fallacy or give up.
  44. Ignore or refuse to publicly challenge the bad behavior and/or bad arguments that you see fellow Mormons making. After all this is war and who wants to be a traitor to the cause right? Besides “Anti’s” deserve every bit of condescension and disrespect that we can muster don’t they? Hang the Golden Rule!
  45. Make sure that you use a lot of snark and sarcasm! Everyone loves being condescended to by obnoxious smart alecks with bad attitudes. By the way, I hope you’re loving reading this article as much as I am writing it. If not, you’re just a loser who just doesn’t “get it!”[11]

    “Use double standards” (click to zoom)

  46. Use the bad arguments and behavior of mainstream Christians to rationalize, compensate for, and justify any or all of the above.
  47. Assume that any constructive criticism from others on how to better engage outsiders (especially if it’s from “Anti’s”) is meant for everyone else.
  48. Assume that lists like this apply to every other Latter-day Saint but you.

Summary and Conclusion:
If that seemed like a sarcasm filled lesson in logic and rhetoric that’s probably because it was. Stated plainly, that’s what the majority of bad arguments that I’ve seen Latter-day Saints make in public discourse always seem to come down to: Flawed logic and rhetoric combined with incivility and paranoia driven defensiveness. From my experience, I would have to say that award winning Journalists Richard and Joan Ostling were correct when they observed:

Mormon scriptural scholarship functions almost entirely within an enclosed, intramural world… Mormon Bible scholars face serious problems.
— Richard N. and Joan K. Ostling, “Mormon America (Revised and Updated Edition”, p.299

This seems odd to me since, generally speaking, Mormons are better educated and higher degreed than the general population.[12] Doesn’t all that good education require some training in logic, critical thinking, and civil rhetoric? If so, you would never know if from the sloppy, adolescent, rude rhetoric that many Latter-day Saints engage in public. Therefore, the first thing that Latter-day Saints could do to improve their public discourse would be to learn and stick to the rules of logic and rhetoric that most assuredly must have been a part of their secular education.

Another contributing factor seems to be the infamous “Mormon Persecution Complex” which has been endlessly discussed in Mormon Studies and elsewhere. As the aforementioned Ostlings said well:

The thin-skinned and image-conscious Mormon can display immature, isolationist, and defensive reactions to outsiders, perhaps because there is no substantive debate and no “loyal opposition” within their kingdom. With some, it almost seems that the wilderness is still untamed, the federal “polyg” police are on the prowl, and the Illinois lynch mob is still oiling muskets and preparing to raid Carthage Jail. All too often Saints use the label “anti-Mormon” as a tactic to forestall serious discussion.
— Richard N. and Joan K. Ostling, “Mormon America (Revised and Updated Edition”, p. 115

Read through the list of bad arguments again asking yourself this question, “Would Mormons be more or less likely to engage in this behavior if they didn’t presume that the world in general and their debating opponent in particular was against them?” I dare say that at least half – perhaps as much as three quarters of the list – would disappear were the Mormon Persecution Complex mindset were set aside. Stated plainly, Many Mormons are far too quick to play the victim, or over react in inappropriately aggressive, and unduly defensive ways simply because they’re perceiving an attack or persecution by their debating opponent when there simply isn’t one.

defaultIn fact, due to this dynamic, and linking it with the logic and rhetoric issue previously discussed, all too often Mormons will play the “victim card” when all their debating opponent has done is expose the holes, gaps, problems, and fallacies in the argument that they’ve just presented. The wounded howls of these self-perceived Mormon victims can be found on just about every inter-faith discussion board (some Mormons lead with it as their opening argument) and the greatest tragedy is that it need not be.

So I challenge you my Latter-day Saint friends, whenever you’re tempted to play that victim card, first take a deep breath, revisit both your arguments and the arguments of your debating opponent, and ask yourself these questions:

  1. Where and how can my argument be improved?
  2. What valid points has my debating opponent made?
  3. What countering evidence can I present, along with stronger logic and reason, to overcome their points?
  4. Viewing that evidence through their point of view rather than my own, what countering arguments can I expect from my debating opponent after I respond?
  5. How can I word this so that it’s clear that I’m responding rather than reacting to my debating opponent?

I think if you’ll do that rather than assuming that you’re being picked on or attacked and reacting defensively (as opposed to responding productively) you’ll end up making better, more convincing arguments in defense of Mormonism. This isn’t to deny that many outsiders, as the Joanna Brooks epigraph to this article stated, love to Mormon Bash – it’s a fact, many do. However, Mormon friends this isn’t true of all outsiders. And my dear Latter-day  Saint friend you instantly erode your credibility just as soon as you play that card. So here’s the easy solution to the problem: Don’t play the victim card – ever.

Finally, a question must be asked: Why wasn’t this article written by a Latter-day Saint? I know that Latter-day Saints are aware of the issues that I’ve raised above because privately they complain to me about them. In fact, when the last article in this series came out and woodshedded mainstream Christians for their weak arguments against Mormonism I was told, again privately, by several Latter-day Saints that many, if not most, of the items in the list were true of many Latter-day Saints too.

However, publicly most Mormons will draw their Mormon Persecution Complex around them like a quilt, close ranks, and rail at “those nasty Anti’s!” Even worse, they will applaud the efforts of Mormon Apologists who regularly engage in polemics, pejoratives, bullying, and many of the items noted in the list above.[13]

So instead the task falls to the guy who has not only never been Mormon but is known primarily as a critic of Mormonism. In fact, I couldn’t even get a Mormon to co-author this piece with me – I tried!  So here’s the deal Mormons: If you don’t like either the tone or content this article then publish a better one – I challenge you to.

Finally, let me give you a tip: The wrong way to respond to this article is to write protest articles about how unfair I was to Mormons, or how I singled them out for persecution, or how little I understand about what it’s really like to be a Mormon being endlessly picked on by outsiders, or that I’m just a stupid, biased, blind “Anti” and we all know how they are! If you do any of that you’ll just be proving many of the points made in this article.

Further, since I’ve just published fourteen (14) such articles publicly woodshedding the bad arguments of my fellow mainstream Christians I think that it’s fair to say that I’m more than willing to do with my “tribe” what Latter-day Saints refuse to do with theirs: Challenge it to be excellent and not “muff the ball”. So Latter-day Saints, I challenge you to go and do the same!


[1] The fact that these “one off” addresses are like loose spikes sticking up along the rails of historic Mormon orthodoxy can easily be seen by listening to the other addresses by other speakers before and after Mr. Uchtdorf’s at the very same General Conference or reading the articles immediately before and after Mr. Wilcox’s in Ensign magazine. They both contradict and undermine them.

And the problem is even more glaring when compared to other official LDS Church sources and the historic record. As Mormon Researcher Bill McKeever notes:

“The Mormon who believes that Uchtdorf is abandoning all former teaching is making an assumption that is just not verified in this talk.  While his language is certainly ambiguous, it’s hard to believe that this general authority is suggesting that the other leaders and decades of teaching are to be abandoned.”
— Bill McKeever, “Does Mormonism Really Offer a “Gift of Grace”? A Review of Dieter F. Uchtdorf’s Talk on Easter Sunday 2015″

The same applies to Brad Wilcox’s BYU address – which was so far askew from historic Latter-day Saint soteriology that it had to be redacted and abridged for publication in the LDS Church’s official publication, Ensign magazine. As Mormon Studies scholar Rob Bowman notes:

“It may seem strange to ask how the doctrine of a popular speech given by a BYU professor and member of the Sunday School General Board compares with other teachings of the LDS Church. However, as a statement by LDS Church spokesman Michael Purdy reminds us, “BYU faculty members do not speak for the church.” The question, then, is not necessarily illegitimate. On the other hand, the publication of Wilcox’s speech in Ensign indicates that it is representative of Mormon doctrine—at least in the version published there. That qualification turns out to be at least potentially significant, since the Ensign article omits elements of the speech that appear to have been out of sync with the LDS Church’s general teaching over the years. The significance of such omissions must be considered with some caution, since omissions may have been simply the result of producing a shorter, more concise article for publication in the popular-level church-wide magazine. Nevertheless, the excisions of material appear to have been strategically performed to bring the article into line with the standard Mormon doctrinal paradigm concerning salvation and grace.”
— Rob Bowman, “Mormonism and the Sufficiency of Grace: Brad Wilcox’s Speech ‘His Grace Is Sufficient'”

[2] “What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.” (Hitchen’s Razor)

[3] Simply put, it’s the responsibly of the person making an assertion to prove it. It’s not their debating opponent’s role or responsibility. This is just common sense folks! This is the laziest form of scholarship imaginable – if you can even call it “scholarship.”

[4] As Clinton Wilcox noted in “Weak Arguments #8: ‘I testify that Mormonism is false and Joseph Smith was a false prophet'”

“[Testimony bearing is] a bad argument against Mormonism because it’s a bad argument, period – which makes it a bad argument even when the Mormon uses it…

You can’t rely on your own subjective experiences to convince somebody else of the truth of your beliefs. The major problem is that in the Mormon’s testimony, they don’t give us any reason to believe Mormonism is true. A subjective experience may give you a reason to believe but it doesn’t give anyone else a reason to accept your beliefs as true. Arguing that it is the correct church doesn’t help. I need to know why it is the correct church.”

And as a Latter-day Saint peer reviewer of this article noted well in his feedback on this point:

“The witness of the spirit while not great evidence for convincing others is a fine answer to: Why do you believe this? Also it is a good lead in to, ‘And you can receive the same witness.’

Mormons need to keep in mind however that a personal witness is not meant for convincing others, its personal and should be kept out of debate except in answer to the above question or proceeding the invitation. It should also be kept in mind that inviting someone to seek their own witness from God does not win the argument, as some Mormons seem to believe.”

[5] It should be noted that the rapid growth argument for Mormonism has been problematic since 1990 when growth flattened and activity rates began to decline. Reliable figures and analysis (derived from official Spring General Conference Reports) can be found here.

[6] To be clear here, temporarily excusing yourself from the conversation due to the rigors of life outside of the debate is one thing (that is unless you overuse this excuse to the point that you’re just using as it as nothing more than an escape hatch) but doing a permanent disappearing act whenever the going gets rough is something else. If you do temporarily excuse yourself due to life’s demands then make a point of returning and continuing the discussion when you can.

However, if you really want to set yourself apart as a civil and accomplished debater, when your debating opponent is presenting arguments and evidence that is so strong and compelling that it’s hard to overcome, then simply acknowledge it and tell them that they’ve given you a lot to consider. This isn’t “throwing in the towel” it’s simply being honest and humble – and people respect honest humility. A simple way to do this is to just say, “Point taken.”

Oh, and by the way, does it really need to be said that putting an Internet block or ban on your debating opponents – and thereby making it impossible for them to engage you or you them online – is the ultimate form of this bad argument? Yes, since this tactic is so commonly used (or put more accurately “abused”) by Mormon debaters on the Internet I think that it probably does!

[7] This tendency by many Mormons so concerned former LDS Church President Gordon B. Hinckley that he publicly addressed it several times:

“We must not only be tolerant, but we must cultivate a spirit of affirmative gratitude for those who do not see things as we see them. We do not in any way have to compromise our theology . . . We can offer our own witness of the truth, quietly, sincerely, honestly, but never in a manner that will give offense to others.”
(President Hinckley, LDS General Conference, April 2005).

“[There] should never be any cause for self-righteousness, for arrogance, for denigration of others for looking down upon others. All mankind is our neighbor. . . . Regardless of the color of our skin, or the shape of our eyes, of the language we speak, we all are sons and daughters of God and must reach out to one another with love and concern.”
(President Hinckley, LDS General Conference, April 2005, Ensign May 2005, 102).

“As we recognize our place and our goal, we cannot become arrogant. We cannot become self-righteous. We cannot become smug or egotistical. We must reach out to all mankind. They are all sons and daughters of God our Eternal Father . . . . And as we go forward, may we bless humanity with an outreach to all, lifting those who are downtrodden and oppressed, feeding and clothing the hungry and the needy, extending love and neighborliness to those about us who may not be part of this Church.”
(President Hinckley, LDS General Conference, October 2001)

“As I have said before, we must not be clannish. We must never adopt a holier-than-thou attitude. We must not be self-righteous. We must be magnanimous, and open, and friendly. We can keep our faith. We can practice our religion. We can cherish our method of worship without being offensive to others. I take this occasion to plead for a spirit of tolerance and neighborliness, of friendship and love toward those of other faiths.”
(President Hinckley, Pioneer Day Commemoration, July 2001)

“But we shall go forward, returning good for evil, being helpful and kind and generous. I remind you of the teachings of our Lord concerning these matters. You are all acquainted with them. Let us be good people. Let us be friendly people. Let us be neighborly people.”
(President Hinckley, LDS General Conference, April 2001)

“Let us as Latter-day Saints reach out to others not of our faith. Let us never act in a spirit of arrogance or with a holier-than-thou attitude. Rather, may we show love and respect and helpfulness toward them. We are greatly misunderstood, and I fear that much of it is of our own making. We can be more tolerant, more neighborly, more friendly, more of an example than we have been in the past. Let us teach our children to treat others with friendship, respect, love, and admiration. That will yield a far better result than will an attitude of egotism and arrogance.”
(President Hinckley, LDS General Conference, April 2000; Ensign, May 2000, p.87)

[8] For an explanation of that Royal Priesthood reference see “Weak Arguments #12: ‘There is no priesthood anymore.’” And, yeah, since authority can only be given not taken, Mormon Priesthood Authority claims kinda fall flat if the other person doesn’t recognize or acknowledge it doesn’t it? For example, admit it, you kinda yawned or snickered at that “Royal Priesthood” thing when you read it didn’t you my Mormon friend? See my point?

[9] The Eight Rules of Interpretation used by legal experts for more than 2500 years are as follows:

1) Rule of Definition.
Define the term or words being considered and then adhere to the defined meanings.

2) Rule of Usage.
Don’t add meaning to established words and terms. What was the common usage in the cultural and time period when the passage was written?

3) Rule of Context.
Avoid using words out of context. Context must define terms and how words are used.

4) Rule of Historical background.
Don’t separate interpretation and historical investigation.

5) Rule of Logic.
Be certain that words as interpreted agree with the overall premise.

6) Rule of Precedent.
Use the known and commonly accepted meanings of words, not obscure meanings for which their is no precedent.

7) Rule of Unity.
Even though many documents may be used there must be a general unity among them.

8) Rule of Inference.
Base conclusions on what is already known and proven or can be reasonably implied from all known facts.
(source =

[10] As noted in footnote 4, using testimony bearing as an argument or evidence is just a bad argument. Period.

[11] And before the “You’re a hypocrite – just look at the tone and content of your article!” phone calls, and letters start pouring in, this article was written in a tongue in cheek style that’s intended to mirror the same condescension, disrespect, snark, and sarcasm that are so prevalent in the weak arguments and tactics that are being addressed. If you’re offended by it then please consider how such behavior feels to others when it’s directed at them.

[12]  “Mormons are significantly more likely than the population overall to have some college education. Six-in-ten Mormons (61%) have at least some college education, compared with half of the overall population. However, the proportion of Mormons who graduate from college (18%) or receive postgraduate education (10%) is similar to the population as a whole (16% and 11%, respectively).”
— Pew Research Center, “A Portrait of Mormons in the U.S.”, Education and Income

[13]   For example, please consider this polemic and pejorative laden inflammatory prose from Mormon Apologist Russell McGregor of FAIRMormon (which the reader can also consider supporting evidence for many of the points above – #21, 22, 44, and 47 in particular):

“It is not the LDS Christians, but their critics, who need to be concerned about their Christian credentials. This may seem, at first glance, to be a rather odd thing to say; the anti-Mormon movement has defined the debate in such a way that their Christianity is not open to question. Many of them are (or profess to be) clergymen, while most of them are conservative Evangelical Protestants of one sort or another. And yet the question remains and continues to be asked: is anti-Mormonism truly a Christian activity? The answer, both in the general case and in the particulars, is a clear and resounding no…

So we return to the question with which we began this survey: are anti-Mormons Christian? The answer: of course not. They were never even in the hunt. Their clerical collars and pious platitudes are simply a smokescreen to hide the ugly reality that anti-Mormonism is one of the clear manifestations of the darkest side of human nature; the side that made possible the death camps and burning crosses, the massacre of the Hutus and the wholesale slaughter of the Native Americans. Just as vicious and repressive dictatorships like to give themselves grandiose and liberal-sounding titles like “The People’s Democratic Socialist Republic of Such-and-such”, so these nasty religious haters appropriate the label of “Christian” in order to claim for themselves a specious respectability that their deeds and attitudes do not merit.”
— Russell McGregor, “Are Anti-Mormons Christians?”; FAIRMormon website

(click to zoom)

(click to zoom)


Today is October 31st, “Reformation Day”. It was on this day that Martin Luther nailed the “Disputation of Doctor Martin Luther on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences” (commonly known as “The Ninety-Five Theses”) unto the door of The Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. “The Ninety-Five Theses” is widely regarded as the primary catalyst for the Protestant Reformation. So it is with a hopeful spirit for reformation in our lifetime that we offer these Ninety-Five Theses to a modern church that is badly in need of it.

And while we offer these theses to the public in general for discussion, debate, and consideration, we offer them even more specifically to the LDS Church and its members in light of Joseph Smith’s challenge …

“. . . call upon them [Mormon Critics] to meet you both in public and in private; and inasmuch as ye are faithful their shame shall be made manifest. Wherefore, let them bring forth their strong reasons against”
(Doctrine & Covenants 71:7)

… and in agreement with Mormon Apostle Orson Pratt who said:

“. . . convince us of our errors of doctrine, if we have any, by reason, by logical arguments, or by the word of God, and we will be ever grateful for the information, and you will ever have the pleasing reflection that you have been instruments in the hands of God of redeeming your fellow beings from the darkness which you may see enveloping their minds.”
(Orson Pratt, “The Seer”, pp. 15-16)

So without further ado we present . . .
The Disputation of Ninety-Five Theses on the Power and Efficacy of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: Ninety-Five Theses for consideration, discussion, and action regarding a modern church badly in need of reform
(aka “The 95 LDS Theses”)

Question: What’s wrong with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?

1. LDS President Spencer W. Kimball said, “Brothers and sisters, pray for the critics of the Church” (“Remember the Mission of the Church”, Ensign, May 1982, p.4) but today’s LDS Church is quick to label and denounce internal and external critics as “enemies out to destroy” even when they’re simply speaking the truth, seeking to gain understanding, and/or trying to make the church a better place. [click here for supplemental evidence]

2. The LDS Church focuses on the needs and interests of the institution over the needs and interests of the members. For example, on January 29, 2013, the LDS Church announced that the Benemerito De Las Americas private school in Mexico would be closed and converted into a Missionary Training Center leaving its more than 2,000 LDS students to the mercy of the vastly inferior Mexican public education system. [click here for supplemental evidence]

3. D&C 121:39 says: “We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.” Yet the modern LDS Church tolerates abuse of ecclesiastical power by LDS church leaders through various means from refusing to directly answer troubling questions from its members up to and including excommunication of members who speak truth to power. [click here for supporting evidence]

4. LDS President, John Taylor, said, “I for one want no association with things that cannot be talked about and will not bear investigation.” (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 20, p. 264) but today’s LDS leaders refuse to publicly address members concerns about difficult facts of Mormon History and suppresses loyal dissent from within its ranks via disciplinary action up to and including excommunication. [click here for supplemental evidence]

5. The LDS Church website says, “Those who are married should consider their union as their most cherished earthly relationship.” Never-the-less, due to the doctrine of Celestial Marriage members often feel pressured to choose between the potential to be exalted into the Celestial Kingdom and their apostate (or non-member in the case of a convert) spouse. Choosing the former all too often results in divorce. [click here for supplemental evidence]

6. LDS Church leaders denounce and scorn former members and encourage members to do the same. To cite one example, the chapter in the official church curriculum “Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith” entitled “Beware The Bitter Fruit of Apostasy” (pp. 315-326) is a demonstration of how church leaders do this. [click here for supplemental evidence]

7. It asserts in the strongest language that doctrinal differences, criticisms, or questions about LDS Church policies and/or leaders are sin, for the ‘prophet’ is always right. Those who engage in such behaviors – or refuse to comply with the status quo – are subject to discipline up to and including ex-communication. An example of this is the recent excommunication action taken against Denver Snuffer.
[click here for supplemental evidence]

8. It drives a wedge between member and non-member family members. Ex-Mormon family members in particular are to be avoided but the LDS Church also encourages members to steer clear of “Never Mormon” family members who are openly critical of the LDS Church. For example, one Temple Recommend Question asks, “Do you support, affiliate with, or agree with any group or individual whose teachings or practices are contrary to or oppose those accepted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?” The wording of this question strongly implies that temple worthiness requires eschewing those with beliefs opposing the LDS church. This often includes former members and/or family members critical of the church. [click here for supplemental evidence]

9. The LDS Church is the largest sponsor of Boy Scout units with over 30,000 units nationwide. Conversely, the Young Women’s Personal Progress Program receives significantly less funding and attention and demonstrates pronounced gender inequality. Why, for example, aren’t there an equal number of church sponsored Girl Scout units for girls? [click here for supplemental evidence]

10. The culture that results from LDS doctrine pressures members to marry too quickly often resulting in marriage between incompatible strangers. For example, 12th LDS President Spencer W. Kimball taught, “It was never intended by the Lord that a large portion of one’s life should be spent in the unmarried state… Long-delayed marriages are certainly not approved of the Lord.” (“The Marriage Decision”, Ensign, Feb. 1975) [click here for supplemental evidence]

11. The Lord, it is claimed, said, “Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness.” (D&C 58:27) But today LDS Leaders use the Temple Recommend process as a subtle, barely discernible means of manipulative coercion rather than allowing members to engage their free will. [click here for supplemental evidence]

12. It puts its untrained clergy in a position where they must give counsel on vital life issues that they are not qualified or equipped to competently address. The result, all too often, is ecclesiastical malpractice. [click here for supplemental evidence]

13. The LDS churches places an inordinate amount of emphasis on a commandment that enriches itself financially – the tithe. It is the only commandment that requires a yearly meeting with the bishop and must be paid without regard to a person’s personal welfare: “If paying tithing means that you can’t pay for water or electricity, pay tithing. If paying tithing means that you can’t pay your rent, pay tithing. Even if paying tithing means that you don’t have enough money to feed your family, pay tithing.” (“Sacred Transformations”, Ensign, Dec 2012. p.38) [click here for supplemental evidence]

14. The original 1835 D&C 101 said, “all marriages in this church of Christ of Latter Day Saints, should be solemnized in a public meeting” but today’s church drives a wedge between friends and family members by compelling Latter-day Saints to get married in private Temple services that exclude not only all non-members and their families, but even non-Temple Recommend holding LDS family members in addition to all children below a certain age – Mormon and non-Mormon alike. [click here for supplemental evidence]

15. The Apostle Paul wrote “there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). Yet the LDS Church gives men an exalted status over women; refuses them the Priesthood; denies that women are co-equals; and chooses instead to subordinate them to men. [click here for supplemental evidence]

16. LDS church leaders replace “ye are free; ye are permitted to act for yourselves” (Helaman 14:30) with obedience to trivial and arbitrary rules. Things like ear piercings, movies, tattoos, and clothing choices have nothing to do with salvation – therefore, these are areas where individual Free Agency and the leading of the Spirit should prevail. [click here for supplemental evidence]

17. It imposes vague, scientifically discredited 19th Century dietary regulations on members via the “Word of Wisdom” (Doctrine & Covenants section 89). This isn’t a trivial matter since a lack of compliance to these standards can result in the loss of one’s temple recommend – per the Temple Recommend Worthiness Interview question which directly asks, “Do you keep the Word of Wisdom?” [click here for supplemental evidence]

18. It quells and compromises good scholarship within its rank by demonizing, disfellowshipping and excommunicating members who produce scholarly works discussing Mormon History, Theology, or culture that have scholastic integrity. The classic example of this are The September Six – the six esteemed, respected, and in some cases award winning, Latter-day Saint scholars who were excommunicated in September 1993 for producing such work. [click here for supplemental evidence]

19. D&C 58:27 states “men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness” and Joseph Smith stated “I teach them correct principles, and they govern themselves.” (“The Organization of the Church”, Millennial Star, Nov. 15, 1851, p. 339). However, the church often does exactly the opposite: Such as rewarding Paul H. Dunn with a General Authority position for his compliant use of “faith promoting” lies, but excommunicating D. Michael Quinn for continuing to tell the authentic truth despite being told by Mormon leaders to stop. [click here for supplemental evidence]

20. By requiring a full tithing to participate in the temple endowment ceremony, and thereby achieve exaltation, the LDS church disregards Moroni’s censure: “Yea, it shall come in a day when there shall be churches built up that shall say: Come unto me, and for your money you shall be forgiven of your sins.”(Mormon 8:32[click here for supplemental evidence]

21. It uses employment in LDS Church and member owned institutions and businesses to coerce obedience to its dogma and leaders. An example of this is John P. Hatch being terminated from Deseret Book for simply expressing his opinion regarding, “the Church’s efforts to suppress access to honest history.” in a letter to the Salt Lake Tribune without warning or asking for clarification on the letter. [click here for supplemental evidence]

22. Its leaders and members use ad-hominems, insults, slurs, derogatories, labeling, and character assassination in their dealings with critics and apostates and then deny that they do so – often going so far as to claim that those who call them on this behavior are persecuting them. [click here for supplemental evidence]

23. It allows members to privately believe whatever they want – even if it’s atheistic or contradicts LDS orthodoxy – as long as they publicly “toe the party line” and continue to contribute their time and money to the LDS Church. [click here for supplemental evidence]

24. It privately judges and abandons members that have life problems rather than patiently, encouraging, undergirding, supporting, and attempting to restore them to a healthy, productive place. This while publicly declaring that the LDS Church treats all such cases with benevolent kindness.  For example, many prisoners are excommunicated in absentia once convicted of a crime. And while a small number of individual members may volunteer for a local prison-ministry in their area, there is currently no formal church sponsored outreach to prisoners.  The same can be said for those suffering from alcoholism, drug abuse, sexual addiction, gambling addiction, etc., etc., etc.  Further, many snared in these life situations simply experience church discipline in various forms and are told to repent – nothing more. [click here for supplemental evidence]

25. It tends to view any doubt, character flaw, or personal deficiency as “sin” rather than as a normal expression of the human condition and life experience. Thus it has created an implied and unstated expectation that members must always be perfect and/or “all together” or they’re in sin and unworthy of advancement within the organization. [click here for supplemental evidence]

26. It practices graceless, merciless, condemning, legalistic disciplinary extremes – far beyond Biblical standards – in regard to those who have engaged in sexual activity outside of marriage that, as has been reported by many, often leads to a “no-win” double-bind spiral into hopeless despair.  Seventh LDS President Heber J. Grant articulated this extremism well when he said, “There is no true Latter-day Saint who would not rather bury a son or a daughter than to have him or her lose his or her chastity – realizing that chastity is of more value than anything else in all the world.” (Heber J. Grant quoted in, Gospel Standards”, complied by G. Homer Durham, p. 55) [click here for supplemental evidence]

27. The Apostle Jude commanded “Be merciful to those who doubt” (Jude 1:22, NIV). Instead LDS leaders often demand blind compliance from those questioning and wavering. Failing at that they will expose, quarantine, isolate – and if necessary expel – doubters rather than encouraging, supporting, and protecting them while they work through their doubt. [click here for supplemental evidence]

28. It preaches extreme, legalistic, and arbitrary sexual standards regarding masturbation that are not scripturally or scientifically supportable. [click here for supplemental evidence]

29. Via the Priesthood Correlation Program it tries to turn everyone into a Utah Mormon and every Chapel, Ward, and Stake into a Utah Chapel, Ward, and Stake rather than encouraging – even celebrating – each culture’s unique distinctives. [click here for supporting evidence]

30. It has created a culture whereby fear of their family’s reaction puts pressure on disenchanted LDS Missionaries to continue with their missions whether they want to or not. [click here for supplemental evidence]

31. Women are inappropriately subordinate, not equals, with men in the LDS church. For example, in the Temple Endowment Ceremony women swear obedience to God and to her husband while the man swears obedience only to God. Additionally women may not act as a voice in prayer circles and instead must veil their faces[click here for supplemental evidence]

 32. It claims to be “pro-family” while simultaneously creating a culture that breaks up both Mormon and non-Mormon families via the aforementioned. [click here for supplemental evidence]

33. It has a double standard for treating non-members with charitable benevolence (as a means of proselytizing and public relations) while exacting, high, often unattainable standards that members must meet to receive the same levels of attention, aid, and assistance. [click here for supplemental evidence]

34. Despite the fact that The Book of Mormon says, “For behold, ye do love money, and your substance, and your fine apparel, and the adorning of your churches, more than ye love the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted.” (Moroni 8:37) the First Presidency choices to invest billions in building ornate malls and temples rather than using that money to show love to the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted.
[click here for supplemental evidence]

35. Although the LDS church sates that “we believe in being honest” (13th Article of Faith), it regularly substitutes faith promoting “spin” to its members, the media, and investigators instead of telling the full truth regarding its history and theology. [click here for supplemental evidence]

36. The LDS Church has suppressed – and allegedly has even destroyed – church owned documents and artifacts that would expose the fact that it’s not telling the full truth regarding its history and theology. Examples of suppressed documents include: a) the contents of the First Presidency’s Vault; b) The Mark Hofmann forgeries that the church purchased from him, and; c) The Joseph Smith seer stones that were used to “translate” the Book of Mormon and receive many of the revelations in Doctrine & Covenants, and many others. [click here for supplemental evidence[click here for additional supplemental evidence]

37. Since 1959 it has suppressed its financial records in the United States and other countries where churches aren’t required to publicly disclose such records, thus eliminating full accountability in terms of how member contributions are used. [click here for supplemental evidence]

38. I Nephi 13:9 warns, “for the praise of the world do they destroy the saints of God, and bring them down into captivity,” yet the behavior of today’s LDS Church would suggest its core unifying principle seems to be “Image over truth always and in all things.” Could today’s Latter-day Saints be captives destroyed by their quest for the praise of the world rather than a peculiar people? [click here for supplemental evidence]

39. It contrives man-created “revelations” and claims that they are of divine origin. Two examples of this are Official Declarations 1 and 2 – one (OD-1) of which is essentially a policy statement in the form of a press release that addresses, “To whom it may concern” and the other (OD-2) which hints at a revelation but fails to produce it in any form within the actual declaration. [click here for supplemental evidence]

40. Hymn #292, “O My Father” acknowledges the LDS doctrine of a heavenly mother. Mormon leaders throughout history have confirmed this doctrine. However, Heavenly Mother is rarely discussed, is demonstrative of male bias within the LDS Church, and is illustrative of how the church deceives investigators and others. [click here for supplemental evidence]

41. It allows unsubstantiated “faith promoting” stories to run unchecked. Examples include Three Nephite sightings, attribution of magic protective power to temple garments, and falsely implying that all the apostles have been personally visited by Jesus. [click here for supplemental evidence]

42. It restricts distribution of the LDS “Church Handbook of Instruction Book 1: Stake Presidents and Bishops” (aka “Handbook 1”) to only the Bishopric level and higher. This eliminates transparent “bottom up” accountability enabling ecclesiastical abuse because lay members can’t confront local leaders and/or report policy violations to higher authorities for rectification. [click here for supplemental evidence]

43. Gospel Principles explains, “Whenever we lead people in any way to believe something that is not true, we are not being honest.” (see Chapter 31) yet LDS Church leaders mandate that Mormon History must always be presented to members (even privately) in a manner that’s uplifting and only presents the LDS Church in a favorable light – even if the resulting narrative is not true. [click here for supplemental evidence]

44. It deceptively claims to be “Christian” when in reality it has taken Christian words, terms and forms and then changed the underlying meaning and content to an extent that they’re no longer congruent with historic, mainstream, Christian orthodoxy. [click here for supplemental evidence]

45. When it claims, “No tithing dollars were used for this building or project – the funds came from for-profit, church-owned entities” it ignores and/or obfuscates the fact that the seed, start-up, or acquisition funds logically and ultimately came from member tithes – a fact which negates the original claim. [click here for supplemental evidence]

46. It wavers on whether its ultimate authority for doctrine is the Bible, Mormon scriptures, statements of former Mormon prophets, statements of living Mormon prophets, and individual “revelation” even though these sources are often mutually contradictory. [click here for supplemental evidence]

47. It refuses to acknowledge and apologize for the role of high ranking church leaders in the massacre of 120 innocent people in 1857 at Mountain Meadows[click here for supplemental evidence]

48. It makes extraordinary – even outrageous – truth claims that are easily discredited by science, history, and the Biblical record.  For example: The genomics project has a vast body of DNA evidence that conclusively demonstrates that the American aborigines were from Asia not the Middle East; Those aborigines had already migrated and were well established in the Americas thousands of years prior to the alleged arrival of the Book of Mormon people, and; The Bible plainly states that the gospel, with its inclusion of Gentiles, was not fully revealed until after Christ’s death (see Ephesians 3:3-7). [click here for supplemental evidence]

49. It excuses, rationalizes, justifies, and white washes the crimes of its founder, famous members, and past leaders.  To cite just one of many such examples, polygamy was never legal whenever and wherever it was practiced by Latter-day Saint leaders and members.
[click here for supplemental evidence]

50. On August 17, 1949, the First Presidency of the LDS Church stated: “The attitude of the Church with reference to Negroes remains as it has always stood. It is not a matter of the declaration of a policy but of direct commandment from the Lord” Yet the LDS Church refuses to acknowledge and apologize for the fact that until 1978 – as a point of official doctrine (not folklore, opinion, or speculative theology) and policy – the church taught racism and excluded blacks from the priesthood and temple. [click here for supplemental evidence]

51. It has used home teachers and the “Strengthening Church Members Committee” as a means of surveillance on and control of members. [click here for supplemental evidence]

52. It hypocritically claims that polygamy has no place in the contemporary LDS Church even though Joseph Smith’s revelation on polygamy (Doctrine & Covenants 132) is still canonized scripture and “Celestial Polygamy” (being eternally married to at least one more woman after being widowed or divorced) is practiced. Currently, three widowed Mormon Apostles (Dallin H. Oaks, L. Tom Perry, and Russell M. Nelson) are Celestial Polygamists. [click here for supplemental evidence]

53. It claims that the LDS Church is patterned after the early church of Jesus’ apostles, but there are major differences. To cite just one of many examples, Christ only had 12-apostles but the LdS Church has 15. [click here for supplemental evidence]

54. It rationalizes and excuses the sin, bad behavior, errors of judgment, and disastrous decisions of its prophets. They are buried, ignored, or ‘spun’ as “well-meaning human error with no need for apology or confession”. [click here for supplemental evidence]

55. It rationalizes away the revelations – even those that were fully canonized – of present or past “Living Prophets” that contradict contemporary LDS Church teachings and culture. The no-longer-in-vogue revelations are buried, ignored, or recast as “opinion not divine”. The “He was speaking as a man not a prophet” apologetic is typically used as the rationalization in these cases. Hence the critic’s couplet: “As heresy is, Mormon doctrine once was. As Mormon doctrine is, heresy will it become.” [click here for supplemental evidence]

56. It tolerates the chronic practice of eisegesis (injecting words and ideas into the text that the author did not intend, use or mean) by LDS Church Leaders as their standard hermeneutic in interpreting the Biblical, historical, and scientific record. [click here for supplemental evidence]

57. It rationalizes the failed prophecies of future events by past “Living Prophets” by burying, ignoring, or spin doctoring them as “just his opinion”, or as requiring more time for fulfillment. [click here for supplemental evidence]

58. It undermines intellectual integrity when, by following the example learned from LDS Church Leaders and Church Educational System (CES) curriculum  members engage in eisegesis as a lifestyle in all areas of life – not just scriptural interpretation but just about anything, and everything. Well known LDS Apologist Hugh Nibley is one of many examples of how this works: “…Nibley often uses his secondary sources the same way he uses his primary sources–taking phrases out of context to establish points with which those whom he quotes would likely not agree. I asked myself frequently what some authors would think if they knew that someone was using their words the way Nibley does…”
(Kent P. Jackson, “Review of Hugh Nibley, Old Testament and Related Studies,” BYU Studies 28 no. 4 (1988), pp.115-17; also see [click here for supplemental evidence]

59. It uses the term “official doctrine” as a means of silencing critics and dissents even though there is no formal, codified definition for what constitutes “official doctrine”. [click here for supplemental evidence]

60. It tolerates an untenable situation whereby the canonization process isn’t officially defined or codified yet is used to deny past publications, prophetic revelations, and other utterances from past Mormon Leaders that are no longer in vogue. For example, despite the fact that the twenty-six volume “Journal of Discourses” contains General Conference addresses from 1854-1886 that were vetted and approved by the General Authorities at the time, they are soundly now rejected as “unofficial”. This despite Brigham Young’s assertion that, “I say now, when they [his discourses] are copied and approved by me they are as good Scripture as is couched in this Bible . . . “ (“Journal of Discourses”, vol. 13, p. 264; see also p. 95) [click here for supplemental evidence]

61. Alma 41:8 says, “Now, the decrees of God are unalterable; therefore, the way is prepared that whosoever will may walk therein and be saved.” yet the LDS Church keeps changing its scripture. Examples include the 1921 removal of the “Lectures on Faith”; the “Santa Biblia: Reina Valera 2009” which deviates wildly from both the source 1909 edition and the English LDS Edition of the Bible; the 2013 changes to all the English editions of The Standard Works; and the changes to the Book of Mormon that have been ongoing since 1830 – such as the 1981, post OD-2 change of “white and delightsome” to “pure and delightsome” in 2 Nephi 30:6. [click here for supplemental evidence]

62. It has failed to officially, publicly, and directly address the ever mounting discrepancies between the claims of The Book of Mormon and the archaeological, historical, theological, and scientific body of evidence. [click here for supplemental evidence]

63. It has failed to explain the incriminating consistency between the claims of The Book of Mormon and the empirical 19th Century, political, literary, cultural and theological record. For example, the Book of Mormon was so infused with 19th Century Campbellite doctrine and ideas that primitive Mormonism was referred to as “Campbellism Improved” by outsiders. [click here for supplemental evidence]

64. It has failed to provide an adequate, rational explanation for how Joseph Smith could “translate” the Book of Abraham from a set of Egyptian Book of Breathings papyri. [click here for supplemental evidence]

65. It has failed to reasonably explain how Joseph Smith could, via The Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible, append the Bible with “translations” of entire new books and chapters that have utterly no manuscripts backing them while simultaneously purging words, verses – even entire books – that are substantially supported by the extant manuscript base. [click here for supplemental evidence]

66. D&C 42:71-73 commands paid clergy: Saying in part, “they are to receive a just remuneration for all their services”. And while in actual fact the LDS Church compensates leaders via employment in church owned businesses, generous honoraria, stipends, grants, scholarships, gifts, company cars, free travel and lodging, housing and other non-cash contributions, in public it deceptively claims that “The LDS Church has no paid clergy”. [click here for supplemental evidence]

67. It hypocritically denounces those who claim to bring forth new scripture and revelations using the same methods and means that Joseph Smith did because they fail to conform to established LDS Church orthodoxy. This, while simultaneously criticizing the mainstream Christian Church for rejecting Mormonism because the revelations and scripture of its founder and subsequent “prophets” fail to conform to established Christian orthodoxy. One such example of this is Christopher Nemelka’s “The Sealed Portion”[click here for supplemental evidence]

68. It allows LDS Church leaders and the Church Educational System (CES), to distance themselves from the work of LDS Apologists so as – it is believed – to create a “plausible deniability” escape hatch should the work of said Apologists be discredited by more qualified, objective scholarship. Nevertheless, both cite from the work of LDS Apologists (albeit typically not credited) while allowing the LDS Church to quietly fund the work of said apologists through indirect cash flows. [click here for supplemental evidence]

69. It engages in political action via direct and indirect cash flows and privately exhorts members to organize and engage in particular causes and then publicly denies any involvement. California’s Propositions 22 (circa 2000) and 8 (circa 2008) are two cases in point. [click here for supplemental evidence]

70. It publicly (and loudly) trumpets its philanthropic work when compared to other churches its per capita outlay is less than what smaller, less wealthy, less organized religious organizations spend: A study co-written by Cragun and recently published in Free Inquiry estimates that the Mormon Church donates only about 0.7 percent of its annual income to charity; the United Methodist Church gives about 29 percent.
(Caroline Winter, “How The Mormons Make Money”, Business Week; July 18, 2012) [click here for supplemental evidence]

71. It has allowed LDS Church leaders to obfuscate, spin-doctor, and blatantly lie to the media rather than standing with integrity and bolding telling the world what the LDS Church really believes, teaches, and practices.  Such behavior should be denounced and condemned not tolerated, justified, or praised. One example of this Gordon B. Hinckley lying to journalists about the role and function of the Lorenzo Snow couplet within LDS Theology. [click here for supplemental evidence]

72. It fails to recognize the over sixty (60) active Latter Day Saint movement denominations (aka “splinter groups”) while hypocritically condemning the denominationalism of Christianity as a proof of apostasy and lack of divine legitimacy. This hypocrisy is even more pronounced when one considers that over the 180+ year history of the LDS movement there have been over 200 Latter Day Saint denominations in total with new ones forming at a rate will be eventually far exceed and outpace the total number of Christian denominations.  [click here for supplemental evidence]

73. It teaches an irrational and subjective epistemological system while simultaneously belittling epistemology based on reason, objectivity, and empiricism. [click here for supplemental evidence]

74. It employs circular logic.  For example, consider its core truth claim: “The only true church is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints because The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints says it’s the only true church.”  Another poignant example of circular logic is the infamous Doctrine & Covenants 9:8 “burning in the bosom” truth test that (in the vernacular) goes something like this:  “If you don’t get it, you did something wrong. If you do, that proves the church is true.” Further, when taking this test, you don’t ask God if the church is true, but rather to show you that it is true: “I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right.” [click here for supplemental evidence]

75. LDS Church Missionary training and policies employs Mind Control techniques and tactics. [click here for supplemental evidence]

76. It keeps members so busy with LDS Church related activities that they don’t have time for personal reflection and self-autonomy. This is especially true of men as the demands of lay leadership tend to deprive them of real, regular, authentic family time. [click here for supplemental evidence]

77. It erroneously asserts that former members didn’t leave the LDS Church for any thoughtful or legitimate reasons but rather that they were thin skinned reactive, malcontents who left the LDS Church because they wanted to sin with impunity, or because of a perceived offense. Stated plainly, this is a hypocritical double standard: It’s OK to be troubled by, doubt, criticize, and even leave other churches, but this one can’t be questioned or left. [click here for supplemental evidence]

78. It discourages intellectual self-autonomy and self-responsibility and encourages dependency on LDS Church Leaders. [click here for supplemental evidence]

79. It engages in Mind Control tactics and techniques in recruiting, indoctrinating, and retaining members. [click here for supplemental evidence]

80. The LDS Church denies being man centered or exalting – claiming that it only lifts up Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ as worthy of its worship. Yet its Hymnal contains songs of praise and adoration that exalts both dead (#27 “Praise to the Man”) and living men (#19 “We Thank Thee O God For A Prophet”).  [click here for supplemental evidence]

81. It requires members to remain in a “snapped” psychological state in order to remain believing members. For example, when members encounter troubling facts about Mormon History and/or doctrine they’re either told to pray about it or “put it on the shelf”. This is called “Thought Stopping” and it’s a technique that Mind Control Cults use to avoid the rigors of logic, reason, and uncomfortable realities. [click here for supplemental evidence]

82. The Book of Mormon warns, “Wo unto them that call evil good, and good evil” (2 Nephi 15:20) yet the LDS Church requires members to adhere to moral relativism, loose ethics, and intellectual dishonesty in support of a belief system that lacks ethical congruity, consistency, and integrity. Some of the most obvious examples of this are: The practice of polygamy and the rationalization of that past polygamy today; A failure to acknowledge and apologize for its pre-1978 institutionalized racism, and finally; The practice known as “Lying for the Lord” throughout Mormon History. [click here for supplemental evidence]

83. It hypocritically rails against sound logic and reason as “the hollow and vain philosophies of men, not God” and then hypocritically attempts to (albeit poorly and inconsistently) employ logic and reason in its arguments and rhetoric. [click here for supplemental evidence]

84. It poisons members who leave the LDS Church against all other Theistic religions. This is best illustrated by the cliché used by both members and former members that goes something like this, “If the Mormon Church isn’t true then nothing is true.” [click here for supplemental evidence]

85. It damages member psychology via the use of manipulative fear and unachievable standards of “worthiness”. Sadly, this lament is all too common: “Of course I do [have a testimony]! That’s what’s so terrible. I know the gospel’s true. I just can’t do it. I’ve tried and I’ve tried, but I can’t do it all, all of the time.” (Stephen E. Robinson, “Believing Christ”; Ensign, April 1992) [click here for supplemental evidence]

86. Whereas, Mormon Prophet Brigham Young preached, “A good man, is a good man, whether in this church, or out of it.” (“The Lions of the Lord: A Tale of the Old West” by Harry Leon Wilson, chap XXVIII, par 2) the modern LDS Church engenders arrogance and self-righteousness in members by telling them that they’re more enlightened and morally superior relative to the general population – including other good people of faith. [click here for supplemental evidence]

87. It uses guilt as a means of controlling members. [click here for supplemental evidence]

88. It “love bombs” investigators and new converts as a means of drawing them in. [click here for supplemental evidence]

89. It uses arbitrary, capricious, and ever changing criteria for Temple Recommend “worthiness”. For example Brigham Young’s 1856 worthiness questions (also see this ByteLine article)  are almost completely different than the current set of Temple Recommend Interview questions[click here for supplemental evidence]

90. The Book of Mormon speaks of those who, “do walk in the pride of your hearts; and there are none save a few only who do not lift themselves up in the pride of their hearts …yea, even every one, have become polluted because of the pride of your hearts.” (Mormon 8: 36) Despite this the LDS Church culture engenders clannish, elitist, and pride in members via it a Temple, Priesthood, and oligarchical calling system that puffs member up rather than encouraging and rewarding humility. [click here for supplemental evidence]

91. It encourages arrogant, condescending pride in members at all levels by telling them that they “have the whole and restored truth” that “apostates” only have in part and “gentiles” lack entirely. [click here for supplemental evidence]

92. It teaches that a rape victim has “lost her chastity” and that a woman should fight off her attacker or be killed in the attempt.  For example, Apostle Spencer W. Kimball, in his book “The Miracle of Forgiveness” said, “far-reaching is the effect of loss of chastity. Once given or taken or stolen it can never be regained. Even in a forced contact such as rape or incest, the injured one is greatly outraged. If she has not cooperated and contributed to the foul deed, she is of course in a more favorable position. There is no condemnation when there is no voluntary participation. It is better to die in defending one’s virtue than to live having lost it without a struggle.” (p. 196)  Thus, young Mormon women are taught that their chastity is more valuable than their life. The result is that a Mormon woman who survives a rape is made to feel guilty, and is thus victimized again, this time by her church. [click here for supplemental evidence]

93. It bestows the title “Elder” onto adolescent men (typically 18-years old) with little to no real life experience, thus puffing them up with arrogance and deluding them with prideful ignorance. [click here for supplemental evidence]

94. It hypocritically defines polemic arguments as “persecution” and then engages in polemics with its critics and those of other faiths. For example, consider how it trains its missionaries to speak of other churches:

“Without the Apostles, over time the doctrines were corrupted, and unauthorized changes were made in Church organization and priesthood ordinances, such as baptism and conferring the gift of the Holy Ghost. Without revelation and priesthood authority, people relied on human wisdom to interpret the scriptures and the principles and ordinances of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

False ideas were taught as truth. Much of the knowledge of the true character and nature of God the Father, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost was lost. The doctrines of faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism, and the gift of the Holy Ghost became distorted or forgotten. The priesthood authority given to Christ’s Apostles was no longer present on the earth. This apostasy eventually led to the emergence of many churches.”
(“Preach My Gospel: A Guide to Missionary Service”; Official LDS Church Missionary Training curriculum, p.35) [click here for supplemental evidence]

95. It creates undue demands as well as mental, emotional, and spiritual stress and strain on members via all the above. [click here for supplemental evidence]

Luther Wittenberg Door_CroppedBACK TO TOP

On April 17th 1521, left with only twenty four hours to either recant his body of work or face Church discipline as a heretic – a sentence that meant certain death – Martin Luther found himself looking to God as he stood at the precipice of the greatest transformative movement that the church has seen in the last one thousand years. This was his prayer:

Martin Luther at the Diet of Worms (scene from the 2003 movie

Martin Luther at the Diet of Worms (scene from the movie “Luther”)

Almighty, eternal God! How dreadful is the world! Behold how its mouth opens to swallow me up, and how small is my faith in You!

O the weakness of the flesh and the power of Satan! If I am to depend upon any strength from this world, all is lost. O my God! Help me against all the wisdom of this world. Do this, I beg You.

The work is not mine, but Yours. I have no business here. I have nothing to contend for with these great men of the world! I would gladly pass my days in happiness and peace. But the cause is Yours, my Lord; and it is righteous and everlasting! Stand by me! O faithful and unchangeable God! I lean not upon man. It would be vain!

You have chosen me for this work. I know it! Therefore, O God, accomplish Your own will! Stand by me in the name of Jesus Christ, who will be my shelter and my shield, yes, my mighty fortress, through the might and strengthening of the Holy Spirit.

I am ready, even to lay down my life for this cause, patient as a little lamb. For the cause is holy. It is Your own. Though this world be filled with devils, and though my body, originally the work and creation of Your hands, go to destruction in this cause — yes, though it be shattered into pieces — Your Word and Your Spirit they are good to me still! It concerns only the body. The soul is Yours. It belongs to You and will also remain with You forever. God help me.


Grant That I May Not Pray Alone With the Mouth - Martin Luther

by Fred W. Anson
In the response to the infamous Mormon, “if you want to know about Fords, then you don’t ask a Chevrolet dealer,” argument I offer the following:

The callow chestnut of Mormonism that says if you want to know about Fords, then you don’t ask a Chevrolet dealer, and if you want to know about Mormonism, then don’t ask a non-Mormon, is both wrong and lacks critical judgment. Groups like Consumer Reports prove their maxim false. Some of the best information comes from outside investigation (like Ford’s exploding Pinto gas tank), which outside information can be life-saving.
— Kurt Van Gorden, (as cited in “The Mormon Mirage” by Latayne Scott, p.19)

The promise.

The Ford dealer’s version of the truth.

The Ford Pinto fuel tank controversy is really old news now but at the time it was a hot topic – I know I was 17-years old at the time and remember it well. It was common knowledge at the time that Ford and Ford dealers were mum about the problem and would deny it outright if customers asked about it. From the Wikipedia article on the subject:

Controversy followed the Pinto after 1977 allegations that the Pinto’s structural design allowed its fuel tank filler neck to break off and the fuel tank to be punctured in a rear-end collision, resulting in deadly fires from spilled fuel.

Critics alleged that the vehicle’s lack of reinforcing structure between the rear panel and the fuel tank meant the tank would be pushed forward and punctured by the protruding bolts of the differential — making the car less safe than its contemporaries.

According to a 1977 Mother Jones article by Mark Dowie, Ford allegedly was aware of the design flaw, refused to pay for a redesign, and decided it would be cheaper to pay off possible lawsuits. The magazine obtained a cost-benefit analysis that it said Ford had used to compare the cost of repairs (Ford estimated the cost to be $11 per car) against the cost of settlements for deaths, injuries, and vehicle burnouts . The document became known as the Ford Pinto Memo.

An example of a Pinto rear-end accident that led to a lawsuit was the 1972 accident resulted in the court case Grimshaw v. Ford Motor Co., in which the California Court of Appeal for the Fourth Appellate District upheld compensatory damages of $2.5 million and punitive damages of $3.5 million against Ford, partially because Ford had been aware of the design defects before production but had decided against changing the design.

The reality.

The Chevrolet dealer’s version of the truth. (click to see video of a Ford Pinto crash test)

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) ultimately directed Ford to recall the Pinto. Initially, the NHTSA did not feel there was sufficient evidence to demand a recall due to incidents of fire. 27 deaths were attributed to Pinto fires (the same number of deaths attributed to a Pinto transmission problem) and in 1974 the NHTSA ruled that the Pinto had no “recallable” problem.

In 1978, Ford initiated a recall providing a plastic protective shield to be dealer-installed between the fuel tank and the differential bolts, another to deflect contact with the right-rear shock absorber, and a new fuel-tank filler neck that extended deeper into the tank and was more resistant to breaking off in a rear-end collision.
(“Ford Pinto Fuel Tank Controversy” Wikipedia article) 

The bottom line is this if you want to know about anything you need to consult outside sources as well as inside sources. And absolutely the best sources are former insiders that are now outsiders. That’s because they know the inside secrets and will share rather than hide them. That’s why in my article, “The Problem of the Mormon Tank (Revisited)”  I stressed this key point:

Internal evidence that hasn’t been validated against external evidence can’t be completely trusted!

And what’s true of cars is true of churches too: If you’re going to make a decision where the stakes are high you would be wise to take your time, talk to insiders, outsiders, and former insiders – consider as much evidence as possible. The wise person always gathers facts and does their research before they make any major decision. And in the case of the Ford Pinto, it looks like this lady would have been a good source of information!

I'm Explosive

The Consumer Reports version of the truth.

“The Price of Nice” by John Bradshaw

Reviewed by Fred W. Anson

Title: Recovering Agency: The Price of Nice
Author: John Bradshaw
Publisher: John Bradshaw Media Group
Genre: Non-fiction, psychology
Year Published: 2008
Length: 100 minutes
Binding: Audio CD
ISBN10: 1573882259
ISBN13: 978-1573882255
Price: $70.00

Many of us remember John Bradshaw through his two PBS televised series on the family and “Inner Child” therapy (entitled “Bradshaw on the Family” and “Homecoming” respectively) with fondness. Some of us had an epiphany, others had fodder for new jokes, and still others had both. I was in the last category. At first I found in Bradshaw an endless mine for jokes (“My family was so out of control you could have used it for a wind chime”, “My inner child punched your inner child in the nose”, etc.)  but many years and several family traumas later found it to be a rich well of wisdom . . . and some really silly “out there” New Agey junk.  With Bradshaw one has to have one’s discernment filters up to separate the wheat from the chaff. Thankfully the audiobook being reviewed here is, in this reviewer’s estimation, mostly wheat.

Those familiar with those earlier Bradshaw works will remember that he repeatedly introduced the concept of the price of nice in them both. However, he didn’t go into much detail on it, nor did he give the antidote for the problem. “Problem?” the reader may be asking at this point, “How can being nice be a problem?” As the product description from Mr. Bradshaw’s website explains:

“The price is of nice is about your own life, and not really being connected with others,” says noted New York Times Best Selling Author John Bradshaw“Nice people often finish last in many ways.”

In this powerful lecture, THE PRICE OF NICE, psychologist and Emmy nominated talk show host John Bradshaw, exposes the hidden and frequently destructive forces behind the façade of being the “nice guy”, a people pleaser and co-dependent. This lecture is for people who use “nice” as a disguise to cover shame. John Bradshaw uncovers the dishonestly, selfishness, and resentments that builds as a result. He explains how to heal from co-dependency.

From our earliest years, we learn that we are rewarded with acceptance for being “nice” at the expense of being denied the expression of our true feelings or being who we really are. Ultimately, we become the actor in a role of being the nice guy or sweetheart. John Bradshaw explains how such behavior can destroy relationships and intimacy by never being honestly connected with others. It creates an intimacy vacuum where the victim is the nice person

In its ultimate destructive form, it erupts into rage or spontaneous acts of violence or it can be internalized in the form of emotional or physical illness. John Bradshaw offers practical insights into how we can learn to be kind but firmly direct about how we feel and find that place in our lives where we can be who we are. This series provides excellent resources and will help the listener understand how toxic, and potentially dangerous, a person who is, on most levels, “too nice,” can be. Ministers, counselors, therapists and anyone in helping professions could gain much understanding from the material found in this series. The problem with being overly nice is that it is a mask for stored internal rage and it is at the same time rage producing.

And as he explains in the lecture, nice behavior eventually has a price for both the nice person and the people involved with him/her. It is alienating, indirectly hostile, and self destructive because:

1. The nice person tends to create an atmosphere such that others avoid giving honest, genuine feedback. This blocks emotional growth.

2. Nice behavior will ultimately be distrusted by others. That is,it generates a sense of uncertainty and lack of safety in others who can never be sure if they be supported by the nice person in a crisis situation that requires an aggressive confrontation with others.

3. Nice people stifle growth of others. They avoid giving others genuine feedback,and deprive others of a real person to assert against. This tends to force others in the relationship to turn their aggression against themselves. It also tends to generate guilt and depressed feelings in others who are intimately involved and dependent on them.

4. Because of chronic niceness others can never be certain if the relationship with a nice person can endure a conflict or sustain an angry confrontation. If it did occur spontaneously, This places great limits on the potential extent of intimacy in the relationship by placing others constantly on their guard.

5. Nice behavior is not reliable. Periodically the nice person explodes in unexpected rage and those involved are shocked and unprepared to cope with it.

6. The nice person by holding aggression in, may pay a physiological price in the form of psychosomatic problems and a psychological price in the form of alienation.

7. Nice behavior is emotionally unreal behavior. It puts severe limitations on all relationships and the ultimate victim is the nice person him/her self.

Mr. Bradshaw explains in the lecture that the antidote for nice behavior isn’t being mean, it’s being authentic. This can be a scary proposition for those of us who have become accustomed to using “nice” as a defense or coping mechanism. In particular, those recovering from a religious addiction may come to find that the “Be ye nice!” 11th Commandment of far too many of our faith communities has become so embedded in their theology and religious worldview that it’s painful to knead it slowly out of the tangled up knot that they’ve created. Very often from these individuals, we will hear the protest that to not be “nice” isn’t Christlike (or whatever religious terminology that’s used to justify using niceness as a hiding place and aggression suppressant). To those folks I offer this:


El Greco, “Christ Driving the Money Changers from the Temple” (circa 1600)

Jesus wasn’t Christ-like
Jesus was incredulous.
He was exasperated.
He was furious.
He insulted.
He ridiculed.
He told of coming judgment.
He exorcised demons.
He said he was God.
He said he had final authority given to him to judge the living and the dead.
He said he had power over life and death.
He scared people.
He confused people.
He repulsed people.
He wouldn’t answer questions asked by the local authorities.
He stayed away three days knowing Lazarus would die, and then wept when he showed up to his tomb.
He supplied the party wine.
He preached fire and brimstone.
He used satire and mockery.
He frustrated his mother.
He told his apostles they had new names when he met them.
He used frustratingly vague metaphors and parables to purposefully judge a stubborn people (fulfilling Isaiah), and then later told the hidden meanings to the apostles.
He chose a forerunner who looked and smelled like a crazy hobo, and who badgered the local mayor over sexual and marital ethics.
He healed people on the Sabbath just to tweak the religious elite.
He monitored financial giving and gave live commentary on it.
He said the world hated him and his followers.
He told people to eat his flesh and drink his blood and let them walk away misinterpreting.
He had incredibly awkward and blunt conversations about spiritual things 15 seconds into meeting a stranger.
He let a presumably sensual woman wipe his feet with her hair.
He told a female stranger that she had five husbands.
He went out to eat with creepy guys who preyed on families via financial extortion.
He went to the most significant religious structure local to him and said he would destroy and rebuild it, speaking of his own body and predicting the destruction to come.
He said he existed before Abraham.
What is “Christ-like” about any of that?[1]

Based on the example of Christ alone I would suggest that Bradshaw is onto something: Christ was always authentic even though He wasn’t always “nice”. I would propose to my fellow recovering religious addicts that it’s far better to be authentically genuine than inauthentically nice. Perhaps being truly Christlike, simply means being yourself – that is the new creation spoken of in 2 Corinthians 5:17 under the guidance and direction of the Holy Spirit. I can’t help but wonder if that was what Paul was really describing in Romans 8 and Galatians 5 when he wrote about “walking in the Spirit”. The incarnated Christ exemplified “walking in the Spirit” and showed the full range of human emotion and behavior – including aggression and directness in that walk.[2] Simply put, the price of nice is too high if it means compromising truly Christlike behavior isn’t it?

In the end, I found “The Price of Nice” to be an enlightening and liberating audiobook – and one with significant biblical support to boot.[3] I suspect that you will too.

John Bradshaw

John Bradshaw

[1] Aaron Shafovaloff, “Jesus wasn’t Christ-like” And for those wondering this isn’t in the Bradshaw lecture, I’ve added it here to support my point.

[2] I tackled the subject of the biblical case for aggression in my review of Andy Stanley’s book “Enemies of the Heart: Breaking Free from the Four Emotions That Control You” entitled, “Three Hits and a ‘Whiff'”.

[3] For those who are unaware, John Bradshaw was raised Roman Catholic and has a Bachelor’s Degree in Sacred Theology. Due to the rather overt New Age and Post Modern nature of some of his teachings I’m uncertain what where he stands theologically today – though in my opinion, he seems to be leaning toward the old heresy of Christian Pantheism – though I could be wrong.

As I said in the introduction, one must always have one’s discernment filters up to separate the wheat from the chaff when it comes to Bradshaw. I always find an abundant of gems in his work but sometimes I have to push aside some pockets of New Age rubbish to get to it.



Joy Stained Glass Studio, “The Trinity”

by Rob Bowman
If you do not believe the doctrine of the Trinity, and favor another view yourself, I am going to give you some free advice. I am going to tell you exactly what you need to do in order to defend your non-Trinitarian position as a superior alternative to the Trinitarian view. I know, this is very generous of me, but in the interests of full disclosure I think it only fair to make this information available to the opponents of the doctrine of the Trinity.

1. Refute one or more of the essential propositions of the doctrine of the Trinity.
In my outline study of the biblical basis of the doctrine of the Trinity, I explain that the doctrine is simply a systematization of six core propositions that are all based directly on the teaching of the Bible:

  1. There is one God (i.e., one proper object of religious devotion).
  2. This one God is a single divine being, called Jehovah or Yahweh in the Old Testament (the LORD).
  3. The Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is God, the LORD.
  4. The Son, Jesus Christ, is God, the LORD.
  5. The Holy Spirit is God, the LORD.
  6. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are each someone distinct from the other two.

In order to defend an alternative position, you must refute at least one of these premises, or, you must show that all six of these propositions are consistent with another theological position besides the Trinity. I do not think the latter is possible, and in fact I do not know of any non-Trinitarian theology that affirms all six propositions (at least, not without some heavy equivocation). So, for all practical purposes, if you’re going to defend another view in place of the Trinity, you’ll have to refute one of the above premises.

2. Present a clear alternative to the doctrine of the Trinity.
Constantly carping at things about the Trinity that you don’t like, can’t understand, and won’t accept is not enough. You must tell us what we should believe instead. Your position must be specific and cover the same basic issues that are addressed in the doctrine of the Trinity.

3. Identify the religion associated with that alternative to Trinitarian Christianity.
It’s no good telling us that you believe X, Y, and Z instead of the Trinity, if this “alternative” is your own private confection of beliefs. I say this because the true doctrine of God will be held by a community of believers in Jesus Christ—by the church. Theologies do not exist in a vacuum, or in isolation. You are either part of a church that teaches the theology you espouse, or you are picking and choosing what you will believe from others and not committing yourself to a way of life that puts a set of teachings into practice. Jesus Christ said that he would be with his people until the end of the age as they engaged in the work of making disciples, baptizing and teaching them (Matt. 28:19-20). So, what people today are Christ’s people? This question has become acutely relevant in the Internet age, in which many individuals appear to be one-man religions, trolling the Web to attack orthodox Christian beliefs (often loudly and aggressively) but who are unprepared to identify a belief system they accept and a community that represents that belief system.

4. Show that your alternative theology does not suffer from the defects you claim to find in Trinitarianism.
For example:

a. If you criticize the doctrine of the Trinity for developing in the fourth century, identify the religious tradition or movement that predated the fourth century that you think had—and has—the truth.

b. If you criticize the doctrine of the Trinity for its use of extrabiblical language, show that your theology consistently avoids the use of all extrabiblical words. This is much harder than just about all anti-Trinitarians think.

c. If you criticize the doctrine of the Trinity for being influenced by non-Christian philosophy or religion, show that your theology is completely free of such influences. Again, this is easier said than done.

d. If you criticize the doctrine of the Trinity for being difficult to understand, show that your theology is free of anything incoherent, confusing, paradoxical, or mysterious.

5. Demonstrate that your theology explains the full range of biblical information better than the doctrine of the Trinity.
This means showing that your view accounts for a wider range of biblical material, based on sound exegesis of the texts, with a minimum of ad hoc reasoning. In other words, it is not enough to argue that certain textsmight be translated so as to avoid the Trinity, or that other texts need not be interpreted in a Trinitarian fashion. Rather, you must show that your non-Trinitarian view is the best reading of more biblical texts than can be claimed on the Trinitarian side.

Of course, everyone is likely to run into a text or two that is more difficult to cohere with their position, but the right view will have fewer of these difficulties.

Note: All such argumentation will have to contrast the anti-Trinitarian alternative with the doctrine of the Trinity as it is actually taught in serious works of theology, not your own over-simplistic or fractured impression of what the doctrine means.

Good luck!

The Trinity Triangle:

The Trinity Triangle: We believe in the Triune God-Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This window uses the Latin Pater, Filius, and Spiritus Sanctus (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) to name the persons in the Trinity. The window explains that the Persons are not (non est) each other, but each is (est) God (Deus).

About the author: 
Rob Bowman is the Executive Director of the Institute for Religious Research (IRR). He has been with IRR since 2008 and is IRR’s Executive Director. Previously he served as Manager of Apologetics & Interfaith Evangelism for the North American Mission Board (2006-2008). For ten years Rob taught graduate courses in apologetics, biblical studies, and religion at Luther Rice University (1994-99) and Biola University (2001-2005). He has also worked with other apologetics and discernment ministries, most notably the Christian Research Institute (1984-91), the Atlanta Christian Apologetics Project (1994-99), and Watchman Fellowship in Alabama (1999-2000). Rob has spoken at over a hundred churches and at some three dozen conferences and debates. He has five years of experience hosting call-in radio talk shows focusing on apologetics, including the nationally famous Bible Answer Man show.

Rob Bowman earned the M.A. in Biblical Studies and Theology from Fuller Theological Seminary, did doctoral studies in Christian Apologetics at Westminster Theological Seminary, and earned his Ph.D. in Biblical Studies at South African Theological Seminary. He is the author of roughly 60 articles (e.g., in the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, Review of Biblical Literature, Christian Research Journal, Moody Monthly, Pastoral Renewal, Mission Frontiers, and Journal of Evangelism and Missions) and 13 books pertaining to apologetics, religion, and biblical theology, including two winners of the Gold Medallion Award, An Unchanging Faith in a Changing World (1997) and Faith Has Its Reasons (2001; 2d ed., 2006). His most recent books are Putting Jesus in His Place: The Case for the Deity of Christ (co-authored with Ed Komoszewski, 2007), which received numerous endorsements from such scholars as Ravi Zacharias and Richard Bauckham, and What Mormons Believe (2012).

Rob and his wife, Cathy, have been married since 1981 and have four children, three of them still living at home.
(source: “Who We Are: The People of IRR and What We Are All About”

This article was originally published on the IRR website.
It is reprinted here in accord with IRR’s usage guidelines  and with the author’s expressed permission.

Room in the Johnson home where Joseph Smith worked on The Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible

Room in the Johnson home where Joseph Smith worked on The Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible

by Fred W. Anson
In their zeal to build their case against Joseph Smith many biblical Christians unintentionally abuse Revelation 22:18 to argue for biblical support of a closed canon. However, when read in context that passage is referring solely to itself – not the Bible in it’s entirety, and not to any other book of the Bible:

I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.

And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.

For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:

And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
Revelation 22:16-21 (KJV)  

Notice the use of the terms,  “the words of the prophecy of this book” and “the words of the book of this prophecy” limiting the conditions exclusively to “this book” and “this prophecy”.  The language of the text itself limits the scope of these conditions to this book of prophecy – that is, the book that we now know as “The Book of Revelation”.

Because of this awkward misstep by their debating opponents, Latter-day Saints will often feel vindicated that Joseph Smith did not violate Christ’s explicit instructions to future generations in regard to the Book of Revelation. This too is in error. In actual fact, Joseph Smith in the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible (JST), both took away from and added to the the words of the prophecy of the book. Let’s consider where and how he did this.

Joseph Smith’s additions to and deletions from the Book of Revelation
The changes from the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible are italicized in their JST equivalents.

Rev 1:1-8
John received a revelation from Jesus Christ and delivered it to the leaders over the seven churches in Asia rather than the book being a revelation of Jesus Christ. 

1 The Revelation of John, a servant of God, which was given unto him of Jesus Christ, to show unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass, that he sent and signified by his angel unto his servant John,

Who bore record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw.

Blessed are they who read, and they who hear and understand the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein, for the time of the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.

Now this is the testimony of John to the seven servants who are over the seven churches in Asia. Grace unto you, and peace from him who is, and who was, and who is to come; who hath sent forth his angel from before his throne, to testify unto those who are the seven servants over the seven churches.

Therefore, I, John, the faithful witness, bear record of the things which were delivered me of the angel, and from Jesus Christ the first begotten of the dead, and the Prince of the kings of the earth.

And unto him who loved us, be glory; who washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God, his Father. To him be glory and dominion, forever and ever. Amen.

For behold, he cometh in the clouds with ten thousands of his saints in the kingdom, clothed with the glory of his Father. And every eye shall see him; and they who pierced him, and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.

For he saith, I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, the Lord, who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.

1 The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John:

2 Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw.

3 Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.

4 John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne;

5 And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,

6 And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

7 Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.

8 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.

“Landscape with St John the Evangelist at Patmos” by Gillis Coignet (ca. 1542–1599) from the Hermitage Museum

Rev. 1:16, 20
The seven stars in the Savior’s hand are actually leaders of the seven churches rather than their angels.

16 And he had in his right hand seven stars; and out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword; and his countenance was as the sun shining in his strength.

20 This is the mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the servants of the seven churches; and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.

16 And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.

20 The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.

Rev. 2: 22
Jezebel and the wicked will be cast into hell rather than into a bed.

22 Behold, I will cast her into hell, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds.

22 Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds.

Rev. 2:26–27
Several changes and additions made

26 And to him who overcometh, and keepeth my commandments unto the end, will I give power over many kingdoms;

27 And he shall rule them with the word of God; and they shall be in his hands as the vessels of clay in the hands of a potter; and he shall govern them by faith, with equity and justice, even as I received of my Father.

26 And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations:

27 And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father.

“The Apocalypse of Saint John the Evangelist on the Island of Patmos” by Jan Massis (ca. 1563)

Rev. 5:6
Twelve servants of God are sent to all the earth rather than seven Spirits of God. 

6 And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having twelve horns and twelve eyes, which are the twelve servants of God, sent forth into all the earth.

6 And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.

Rev. 12:1—17
Several changes and additions, including a reordering of verses. The woman and the man represent the kingdom of God and the Church of Jesus Christ.

And there appeared a great sign in heaven, in the likeness of things on the earth; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars.

And the woman being with child, cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.

And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron; and her child was caught up unto God and his throne.

And there appeared another sign in heaven; and behold, a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman which was delivered, ready to devour her child after it was born.

And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she had a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore years.

And there was war in heaven; Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought against Michael;

And the dragon prevailed not against Michael, neither the child, nor the woman which was the church of God, who had been delivered of her pains, and brought forth the kingdom of our God and his Christ.

Neither was there place found in heaven for the great dragon, who was cast out; that old serpent called the devil, and also called Satan, which deceiveth the whole world; he was cast out into the earth; and his angels were cast out with him.

And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ;

10 For the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.

11 For they have overcome him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; for they loved not their own lives, but kept the testimony even unto death. Therefore, rejoice O heavens, and ye that dwell in them.

12 And after these things I heard another voice saying, Woe to the inhabiters of the earth, yea, and they who dwell upon the islands of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.

13 For when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man-child.

14 Therefore, to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might flee into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.

15 And the serpent casteth out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood.

16 And the earth helpeth the woman, and the earth openeth her mouth, and swalloweth up the flood which the dragon casteth out of his mouth.

17 Therefore, the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.

1 And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars:

2 And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.

3 And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads.

4 And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.

5 And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.

6 And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.

7 And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,

8 And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.

9 And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

10 And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.

11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.

12 Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.

13 And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child.

14 And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.

15 And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood.

16 And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth.

17 And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.

“Great Day of His Wrath” by John Martin (ca.1851-1853)

Rev. 13:1
The beast of Revelation 13 is in “the likeness of the kingdoms of the earth.”

1 And I saw another sign, in the likeness of the kingdoms of the earth; a beast rise up out of the sea, and he stood upon the sand of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns; and upon his horns ten crowns; and upon his heads the name of blasphemy.

1 And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy.

Rev. 19: 15, 21
God uses the word of Christ rather than a sword to smite the nations.

15 And out of his mouth proceedeth the word of god, and with it he will smite the nations; and he will rule them with the word of his mouth; and he treadeth the winepress in the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.

21 And the remnant were slain with the word of him that sat upon the horse, which word proceeded out of his mouth; and all the fowls were filled with their flesh.

15 And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.

21 And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh.

Additions via Doctrine & Covenants
And, finally, Doctrine & Covenants 77 is a wholesale addition to the Book of Revelation by claiming to be a divinely inspired interpretation of the book directly from God Himself.  For example, the woman [the Church], the child [the kingdom of God], the rod of iron [the word of God], the dragon [Satan], and Michael are explained. The war in heaven is continued on the earth.

An early copy of Doctrine & Covenants 77 (click to zoom)

An early copy of Doctrine & Covenants 77

Doctrine &Covenants 77
Q. What is the sea of glass spoken of by John, 4th chapter, and 6th verse of the Revelation?

A. It is the earth, in its sanctified, immortal, and eternal state.

Q. What are we to understand by the four beasts, spoken of in the same verse?

A. They are figurative expressions, used by the Revelator, John, in describing heaven, the paradise of God, the happiness of man, and of beasts, and of creeping things, and of the fowls of the air; that which is spiritual being in the likeness of that which is temporal; and that which is temporal in the likeness of that which is spiritual; the spirit of man in the likeness of his person, as also the spirit of the beast, and every other creature which God has created.

Q. Are the four beasts limited to individual beasts, or do they represent classes or orders?

A. They are limited to four individual beasts, which were shown to John, to represent the glory of the classes of beings in their destined order or sphere of creation, in the enjoyment of their eternal felicity.

Q. What are we to understand by the eyes and wings, which the beasts had?

A. Their eyes are a representation of light and knowledge, that is, they are full of knowledge; and their wings are a representation of power, to move, to act, etc.

Q. What are we to understand by the four and twenty elders, spoken of by John?

A. We are to understand that these elders whom John saw, were elders who had been faithful in the work of the ministry and were dead; who belonged to the seven churches, and were then in the paradise of God.

Q. What are we to understand by the book which John saw, which was sealed on the back with seven seals?

A. We are to understand that it contains the revealed will,mysteries, and the works of God; the hidden things of his economy concerning this earth during the seven thousand years of its continuance, or its temporal existence.

Q. What are we to understand by the seven seals with which it was sealed?

A. We are to understand that the first seal contains the things of the first thousand years, and the second also of the second thousand years, and so on until the seventh.

Q. What are we to understand by the four angels, spoken of in the 7th chapter and 1st verse of Revelation?

A. We are to understand that they are four angels sent forth from God, to whom is given power over the four parts of the earth, to save life and to destroy; these are they who have the everlasting gospel to commit to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people; having power to shut up the heavens, to seal up unto life, or to cast down to the regions of darkness.

Q. What are we to understand by the angel ascending from the east, Revelation 7th chapter and 2nd verse?

A. We are to understand that the angel ascending from the east is he to whom is given the seal of the living God over the twelve tribes of Israel; wherefore, he crieth unto the four angels having the everlasting gospel, saying: Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads. And, if you will receive it, this is Elias which was to come to gather together the tribes of Israel and restore all things.

10 Q. What time are the things spoken of in this chapter to be accomplished?

A. They are to be accomplished in the sixth thousand years, or the opening of the sixth seal.

11 Q. What are we to understand by sealing the one hundred and forty-four thousand, out of all the tribes of Israel—twelve thousand out of every tribe?

A. We are to understand that those who are sealed are high priests, ordained unto the holy order of God, to administer the everlasting gospel; for they are they who are ordained out of every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, by the angels to whom is given power over the nations of the earth, to bring as many as will come to the church of the Firstborn.

12 Q. What are we to understand by the sounding of the trumpets, mentioned in the 8th chapter of Revelation?

A. We are to understand that as God made the world in six days, and on the seventh day he finished his work, and sanctified it, and also formed man out of the dust of the earth, even so, in the beginning of the seventh thousand years will the Lord God sanctify the earth, and complete the salvation of man, and judge all things, and shall redeem all things, except that which he hath not put into his power, when he shall have sealed all things, unto the end of all things; and the sounding of the trumpets of the seven angels are the preparing and finishing of his work, in the beginning of the seventh thousand years—the preparing of the way before the time of his coming.

13 Q. When are the things to be accomplished, which are written in the 9th chapter of Revelation?A. They are to be accomplished after the opening of the seventh seal, before the coming of Christ.

14 Q. What are we to understand by the little book which was eaten by John, as mentioned in the 10th chapter of Revelation?

A. We are to understand that it was a mission, and an ordinance, for him to gather the tribes of Israel; behold, this is Elias, who, as it is written, must come and restore all things.

15 Q. What is to be understood by the two witnesses, in the eleventh chapter of Revelation?

A. They are two prophets that are to be raised up to the Jewish nation in the last days, at the time of the restoration, and to prophesy to the Jews after they are gathered and have built the city of Jerusalem in the land of their fathers.


Summary and conclusion
So there is it, Joseph Smith blatantly, overtly, boldly, and without any trace of concern, embarrassment, guilt, or remorse took away from and added to the very biblical book that Christ stated doing so would result in plagues and damnation. Yet, remarkably, the LdS Church not only doesn’t deny this fact, it actually boasts about it:

Acting by the spirit of prophecy and revelation, Joseph Smith corrected portions, but not all, of what is amiss in the King James Version of the Bible. In the book of Revelation corrections, for instance, the angels of the various earthly churches become the servants (presiding officers) of those units. The lamb with seven horns and seven eyes becomes a lamb with 12 eyes and 12 horns, thus perfecting the symbolism to identify Christ and his apostles. Chapter 12 is so revised as to identify the woman as the church of God and the child that she brought forth as the kingdom of our God and of his Christ. And so forth.
– LdS Apostle Bruce R. McConkie, “Understanding the Book of Revelation”[1]

What Mr. McConkie failed to mention here is that Joseph Smith had absolutely no manuscript support – or verifiable support of any kind for that matter – for his changes while the King James translators remained faithful to the source manuscripts they translated from. In other words, Mr. McConkie’s arguments are fatally flawed and rooted in blatant confirmation bias – that is, Mr. McConkie comes to the conclusion first and then bends the facts to fit it.

Again, the evidence is clear that Joseph Smith very much disobeyed and violated the explicit instructions of Jesus Christ in Revelation 22:16-22 and one need go no further than official, correlated LdS Church sources to see it.[2]

[1] Bruce R. McConkie, “Understanding the Book of Revelation”, Ensign, September 1975. A fuller explanation and analysis of Joseph Smith’s translation of the Bible can be found on the Mormon Think (click here) and Mormon Research Ministry (click here) websites.

[2] In addition to the McConkie Ensign article referenced in the prior footnote, the reader can also cross reference the passages using the website as noted throughout this article. For example this link provides a quick summary of some (but not all) of the changes that Joseph Smith made to the Book of Revelation: Scriptures: JST Revelation.

“Joseph Smith Translating” by Nelson