Presbyterian 95 ThesesOn October 31, 1517, Martin Luther posted 95 theses or propositions against the Roman Catholic Church’s sale of indulgences – – the claim that for the right amount of money you could buy forgiveness of sins. Indulgences were hostile to the very heart of the Christian faith. Martin Luther challenged this practice from the Scriptures and called men back to the Bible and back to Jesus. In the spirit of that challenge, we present 95 theses against the claims of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We implore you to search the Scriptures to know what is true (Acts 17:11) and seek the real Jesus while He may be found.

1. Your god is not the God of the Bible, nor even truly a god. He is not the creator and sustainer of all things (Colossians 1:16-17), but an exalted man or “super-man” who transformed eternal matter. Your god is more akin to the Norse god Thor than the God of the Bible.

2. On dedicating the temple in Jerusalem, King Solomon stated that the “heavens of heavens cannot contain thee, how much less this house that I have builded.” (1 Kings 8:27) Yet, your god could have easily fit inside that temple.

3. The Lord, through the Apostle Paul in Romans 1:22, condemns the pagans, “Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man. . .” Yet, you take pride that your god is man with a body of flesh and bone (D&C 130:18).

4. Even if your god existed, he would be pitifully small.

5. Jesus was God before He took a body (John 1:1). There is no similarity between God condescending to become a man, and a man exalting himself to become a god.

6. Your god is one among many gods, but the God of the Bible states, “ye are even my witnesses. Is there a God beside me? yea, there is no God; I know not any.” (Isaiah 44:8)

7. Your god had a father, who had a father. The Bible states, “Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.” (Isaiah 44:6)

8. Your god had a wife. The Bible states, “I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me.” (Isaiah 45:5)

9. You twist Psalm 82 to claim a multitude of gods, yet it does not say, “ye may become gods,” but “ye are gods.” Even your apostle, James Talmage, wrote that these are human judges (Jesus the Christ, p.501) who die like men.

10. Your god has not always been a god. Achieving A Celestial Marriage states, “God was once a man who, by obedience, advanced to his present state of perfection. . .” Psalm 90:2 states, “. . . from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.”

11. This concept of your god having to obey a law external to himself sets something superior to your god. There is nothing higher than the God of the Bible (Hebrews 6:13).

12. Your God is subject to human free agency, but the God of the Bible works all things together for good (Romans 8:28) and according to the counsel of His will (Ephesians 1:11). Those who crucified Christ were guilty, yet Jesus was “delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God.” (Acts 2:23)

13. Joseph Smith in his “inspired translation” changed the Bible to remove the statement that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart in Exodus. The Apostle Paul in Romans 9 confirms the reading in Exodus, contrary to Joseph Smith.

14. You claim that the Bible contradicts itself because it says that no man has seen God at any time. You ignore the context and figures of speech. The Lord “spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend” (Exodus 33:11), but it is only nine verses later that God explicitly states, “Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.” (Exodus 33:20)

15. You confuse seeing Jesus with seeing the Father. To see Jesus is to see the Father (John 14:9), but there is a difference. Jesus, the Word, is God (John 1:1); “and the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father. . . (John 1:14). Yet, “No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.” (John 1:18)

16. You confuse sentimentality with reverence, since you seek to rob God of His unique glory.

17. Your religion seems to be more focused on God as a means to your own glory, rather than us being the means of revealing His glory.

18. You claim we undergo a mortal probation to become a god, and yet Jesus already was God before his incarnation (John 1:1-14).

19. Because John 1:1 contradicted Joseph Smith, in his “inspired” translation of John 1:1 Smith tried to make the gospel rather than Jesus the focus. Nowhere in any of the thousands of Greek manuscripts of this passage do we find anything resembling Smith’s translation.

20. Jesus was worshiped by angels before His incarnation and was so holy that they had to cover their faces in His presence. (Isaiah 6, John 12:41) Yet you have reduced him to our elder spirit brother, along with Satan.

21. Since you believe that we all began as eternal intelligences, all that really separates us from Elohim and Jesus are time and exaltation.

22. Your god is limited in time, power, justice, holiness, love, and glory.

23. You assert that we existed before this world because God tells Jeremiah, “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee. . .” It is only because your god is too small that you cannot fathom a God who “calleth those things which be not as though they were.” (Romans 4:17) God breathed into Adam the breath of life, and Adam “became a living soul.” (Genesis 2:17)

24. You twist the words of Jesus and the apostles to claim that we can become gods. Christians will become like Jesus, yet God explicitly states, “Before me there was no god formed, neither shall there be after me.” (Isaiah 43:10)

25. Isaiah 43:10 and 44:8 also debunk your idea that Jesus became a god at some later date. In the beginning, Jesus already was God (John 1:1), yet the Bible is also clear that there is one God.

26. You ignore what Christians really say about the Trinity and seek to portray it as modalism: one God playacting in three different roles. Christians believe what the Bible teaches: that there is one God, who exists eternally as three distinct persons. We do not believe Jesus was “talking to Himself” in His prayers, but speaking to the Father.

27. You claim there is only one god for this planet, but don’t you claim that Elohim and Jesus are different gods?

28. You are unclear whether Jesus is to be worshiped, and yet He and the Father are worshiped in the Bible by the people of this world.

29. Your god is not holy; he is the author of sin. He gave Adam two contradictory commands, so that Adam had to rebel against God to obey the command to be fruitful and multiply (2 Nephi 2:25). The God of the Bible does not tempt, much less command men to sin (James 1:13).

30. Your apostle, Bruce McConkie stated, “Properly understood, it becomes apparent that the fall of Adam is one of the greatest blessings ever given of God to mankind.” The Bible presents the Fall of Adam, not as a “fall upward,” but treason against God.

31. Our Creator declared all things good, except for man to be alone. When that was resolved, God declared everything “very good.” Adam, in his rebellion, believed things were not good and substituted his judgment for the revelation of God. Mormons agree with sinful Adam.

32. You trivialize sin. The Fall of Adam was not a blessing, but ushered in this world of rape, lies, murder, cancer, and death. Jesus wept over death, but you would have us believe the Fall that brought it a blessing.

33. Your God is the author of lies. He commanded Abraham to lie to Pharaoh (Abraham 2:24). The God of the Bible does not lie (Titus 1:2). Numbers 23:19 states, “ God is not a man, that he should lie. . .” You believe he is both a man and a liar.

34. You trivialize the effect of sin on us. Rather than working out our free agency, the Bible presents man as dead in his trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1), an enemy of God (Romans 5:10), and insensible to the things of God (1 Corinthians 2:14).

35. You see men as seeking after God, but God tells us, “There is none righteous, no, not one: there is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.”

36. You characterize all those who disagree with you as presenting a cheap grace that does not involve repentance. This is as unfair as your critics refusing to differentiate between Thomas Monson and Warren Jeffs.

37. You equate regeneration and the new birth with water baptism and ignore the need for a new heart and new life.

38. You make salvation a matter of grace, only after all we can do (2 Nephi 25:23) and ignore that even our best works are only “filthy rags.” (Isaiah 64:6)

39. Since your god is not holy, sin is not that bad, and man is not lost, you do not understand grace as the unmerited love of God. Moroni 10:31 states, “. . .if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you . . .”

40. You ignore that we are not merely sick, but dead in our sins. The things of God are foolishness to us and cannot be understood. The gospel is not about God helping good people save themselves, but raising the spiritually dead to life and justifying the ungodly.

41. Joseph Smith in his “inspired translation” guts the gospel of grace by changing Romans 4:5 to say that God “ justifieth not the ungodly.” None of the thousands of Greek manuscripts of this passage support his reading. It also contradicts everything around it and the rest of the New Testament.

42. You are currently unclear as to what you believe about the cross. Your emphasis in the atonement used to be on Jesus sweating blood in the Garden of Gethsemane. You present a moving target in terms of anything substantive in your teaching. McConkie’s Mormon Doctrine has been allowed to go out of print, and no substitute has been offered.

43. You make salvation to mean only resurrection and ignore the reconciliation between God and man.

44. You claim that we are all spirit children of God by birth, but the Bible says that Christians are creatures who are adopted as children of God. (Ephesians 1:5)

45. Your claim that we all pre-existed as spirit children does not fit with what Jesus told the unbelieving Jews, “If God were your Father, ye would love me. . . Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do.”

46. You equate godliness with the Word of Wisdom, not with true love for God as He is.

47. Your Word of Wisdom creates man-made traditions forbidding wine that God gave as a blessing (Psalm 104, Ecclesiastes 9) and part of the Lord’s Supper.

48. You ignore the biblical warnings of legalism, such as Colossians 2:20, “Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, (Touch not; taste not; handle not; which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men?”

49. You pride yourself against other groups because of the law of consecration, but do you practice it? Do your apostles and other leaders live the law of consecration?

50. You claim the three heavens are degrees of glory. You ignore the Jewish understanding to which Paul referred: the first heaven as the sky, the second heaven where the stars and planets are, and the third heaven (heaven of heavens) being the abode of God.

51. You think that you have a higher view of heaven, because you get to become gods, but you have to redefine the term god. The reality is that God promises far better to Christians. It is only because you don’t know Him that you think an eternity of His presence would be boring.

52. You promote James 1:5 as grounds to pray to know if the Book of Mormon is true. You ignore that the rest of the Bible contradicts this idea.

53. James 1:5 does not lead us to ignore “the Scriptures . . .[which] are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 3:15)

54. Trusting in the feelings of our hearts is contrary to God’s Word. Jeremiah 17:9 states, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” Proverbs 28:26 states, “He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool. . .”

55. You claim to believe the Bible “as far as it is translated correctly,” yet you dismiss arguments from the original languages.

56. You claim the Bible has been corrupted, yet ignore that it is the best authenticated ancient text and was sufficiently preserved for Jesus and the apostles to cite it as authoritative.

57. You claim that God has not preserved His Word in His church, but you believe He preserved it in a hillside and in a traveling Egyptian sideshow.

58. You believe your god preserved records for hundreds of years only to be thwarted when Lucy Harris stole the first 116 pages of translation. Rather than retranslating the same plates, Smith claimed he had to translate others that were similar.

59. You dismiss the Bible as authoritative since people disagree over it, yet there are over 200 groups who claim to follow the Book of Mormon, and they disagree about many, many things.

60. You assert contradictions in the Bible, but will not hear any response to your claims.

61. You are not a religion of any book, but of a man; and your prophets have contradicted themselves and one another.

62. You claim that the church lost its priesthood authority through a great apostasy. Once again, your God is too small. Jesus stated that all authority was given to Him in heaven and in earth (Matthew 28:18) and the gates of Hell would not prevail against His church. (Matthew 16:18)

63. You claim that the church lost its priesthood authority, yet your concepts of priesthood and temples are hostile to the Bible. Solomon’s temple had nothing to do with celestial marriage or baptism for the dead, but offering sacrifices and worship to God.

64. Your temples are more rooted in pagan Freemasonry than in the Bible.

65. Your interpretation of “baptism for the dead” in 1 Corinthians 15:29 is hostile to the rest of the Bible.

66. Celestial marriage is not mentioned in the Bible, nor in the Book of Mormon.

67. You build temples made with hands and do not understand that the temple in Jerusalem was replaced with a temple not made with hands – – the church of which Christians are living stones. (1 Peter 2:5)

68. If your temple ceremonies came from God, why were they changed by men? Why do you no longer refer to Protestant ministers as “hirelings of Satan” and take oath to have your throats slit “from ear to ear”?

69. You argue that a true church has apostles, but ignore that the church did not have apostles in the Old Testament, nor did the apostles appoint new apostles, except one in preparation for Pentecost.

70. Your apostles do not meet the biblical qualifications. They are not witnesses of Christ’s resurrection.

71. Your apostles do not have the gifts of the apostles. They do not have miraculous powers of healing the sick or raising the dead.

72. You falsely claim to be the fastest growing church in the world and think this proves the truth of your church. The false prophet Mohammed has 1.6 billion followers. Seventh-day Adventists trace their origins to the Great Disappointment in 1844 and the false prophet Ellen G. White; they have over 18 million members. The Assemblies of God traces its roots to the Azusa Street Revival in 1906 and has over 66 million members.

73. According to Deuteronomy 13, Joseph Smith was a false prophet because he declared a god different from the God of the Bible.

74. According to Deuteronomy 18, Joseph Smith was a false prophet, since he predicted things that did not come to pass.

75. Joseph Smith gave false prophecies, declaring the Second Coming of Christ in the generation of those alive in the 1830’s. Apostle Parley Pratt said in 1838, “Now, Mr. Sunderland, you have something definite and tangible, the time, the manner, the means, the names, the dates; and I will state as a prophecy, that there will not be an unbelieving Gentile upon this continent 50 years hence; and if they are not greatly scourged, and in a great measure overthrown, within five or ten years from this date, then the Book of Mormon will have proved itself false.”

76. The accusations of Joseph Smith’s false prophecies are based not merely on our reading of him, but your own general authorities. For decades, your prophets and apostles declared in General Conference that the generation alive in 1832 would see both the building of a temple in Independence, Missouri, and the Second Coming of Jesus.

77. The best claim you have to Smith’s prophetic gifts is Doctrine & Covenants 87. You claim that Joseph Smith predicted the American Civil War in 1832, but you ignore that this prediction was made in the midst of the Nullification Crisis, when the newspapers were speculating about civil war and President Andrew Jackson was threatening to invade South Carolina. The fact that these tensions eventually did lead to war does not undermine the other issues of false prophecies and declaring a false god.

78. Brigham Young taught over and over that Adam was God, but you dismiss this as not being canonized. He stated, “I have never yet preached a sermon and sent it out to the children of men, that they may not call Scripture.”

79. Does it concern you that the prophet to whom you trust your souls and the souls of your children could be so wrong on who God is?

80. Your recent statements on the Book of Abraham seek to confuse the issues.

81. Decades before the rediscovery of the papyri, Egyptologists pointed out the errors in Facsimile 1, and these are the places where the papyrus was missing and images clearly drawn in.

82. You hold open the possibility Smith’s “translation” came from lost papyri. Did Smith not claim that Facsimile 1 came at the beginning of the record? Is not all the text connected with that image from the Egyptian Book of the Dead and has nothing to do with Abraham?

83. Doesn’t Joseph Smith’s Egyptian Grammar translate characters from the existing papyri into the Book of Abraham?

84. Your church lied about polygamy before 1852. Joseph Smith publicly denied that he practiced polygamy. (History of the Church, vol 6, p. 411)

85. The original Doctrine and Covenants lied about the practice of polygamy in Section 101. Apostle and future prophet John Taylor publicly cited this to dismiss accusations of polygamy while secretly practicing it.

86. Though the original section 101, can be “spun” to allow polygamy (it does not say “but” one wife), it specifically prohibited a woman from having more than one husband. Neither Joseph Smith, nor Brigham Young obeyed this.

87. Your church lied about polygamy after the Manifesto in 1890. Polygamy was still secretly practiced by general authorities until the Second Manifesto.

88. Brigham Young stated at General Conference, “Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the African race? If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot. This will always be so. (Journal of Discourses, vol. 10, p. 110). Yet this and numerous revelations about Blacks have been relegated to the dustbin of LDS history.

89. Christians in the early church chose torture and death rather than compromise their faith, but the LDS church only had to be threatened with jail to give up polygamy. Jimmy Carter only had to threaten the LDS church tax status to spur a new revelation on blacks in the priesthood.

90. You display a double standard when others criticize you. You declare that you are “sharing” when you claim that God said Joseph Smith should join none of the existing churches because all their professors are corrupt and all their creeds are an abomination. When others respond to your claims, you accuse them of being “anti-Mormons,” or “Mormon-bashers.”

91. Your Scriptures state “Presbyterianism is not true,” (Joseph Smith – History 1:20), but you become upset when others state that Mormonism is not true.

92. You portray yourselves as victims, because Governor Boggs issued an extermination order if Mormons did not leave Missouri. Yet Governor Boggs’ took this language from a sermon by Sidney Rigdon, threatening non-LDS in Missouri with extermination.

93. You portray yourselves as victims, but Mormons killed far more non-Mormons in the name of religion in one day at the Mountain Meadows Massacre than non-Mormons have ever killed Mormons in the name of religion.

94. You insist that Brigham Young did not order the massacre, but he was clearly an accessory after the fact, blaming the Indians. After the massacre, the California Militia found the bones of the victims and gathered them together and placed stones over them. They placed a cross with a sign on top that said “Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord; I will repay.” According to eyewitnesses, when Brigham Young found the monument, he supervised its destruction. According to your future prophet, Wilford Woodruff, in his journal, Brigham Young stated about the sign, “it should be vengeance is mine and I have taken a little.”

95. You have the wrong god, the wrong Jesus, and the wrong gospel. You have been deceived by false prophets who lie and tell you that you have peace with God by following them.

We say these things out of love for Christ, love for the truth, and love for you. Jesus describes the sincerely deceived in Matthew 7:21: Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

We plead with you to search the Scriptures. You will find that God is far greater and more holy than the LDS believe. You will find that sin is far worse than you ever thought, but you will also find that Jesus is far more loving and glorious than you can imagine.

The Elders of Christ Presbyterian Church
A Congregation of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church
Magna, UT
(801) 969-7948
http://www.gospelutah.org

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Graphic.OpenBible.16x9_Edited
An ongoing series of articles on some common and recurring weak arguments that Christians make against Mormonism.

by Fred W. Anson
The Argument:
“The Bible says that my sectarian, partisan, non-essential doctrine is the only true truth!”

First A Little Background:
A few years ago I was listening to the audio recordings from a conference that was held in Utah to educate Christians on the differences between Mormonism and Evangelical Christianity. The vast majority of the presentations were given in a non-partisan manner that any Christian – even non-Evangelical Christians – could agree with. That’s because they focused solely on the essential doctrines of the Christian faith or simply on the actual text of the Bible itself.

But then there was this one . . .

While the conference was non-denominational and featured speakers from a number of groups, it was held at a Calvary Chapel. One of the speakers (the wife in a husband and wife team who were members of the host church) gave a presentation that, frankly, had me grinding my teeth. That’s because she would first give the Mormon position on something, then say, “But the Bible says . . . ” and proceed to spew pure Calvary Chapel dogma and jargon (most notably on eschatology and demonology) as if it were absolutely and universally held to by all Christians in the way that she was articulating it.

By the end of the presentation, I was so frustrated by such overt “in yer face” bias that whenever she said, “But the Bible says . . . ” I would just talk over her voice on the recording with my own, “But Calvary Chapel says . . . “

Now on the essential doctrines of the Christian faith there’s clearly no “wiggle room”. In their case, please dear reader, by all means, say “The Bible says” all you like – I do. However, on the non-essentials isn’t it better to preface our statements with a more gracious and qualified, “As I understand it the Bible says” or “To me the Bible says”? If that dear but sincerely misguided sister had done so, I would have had no issues with her presentation and wouldn’t be using it as an illustration of how not to do it.

Why It’s Weak:
1) It needlessly buries the essential doctrines of Christianity underneath a pile of non-essentials.
Here’s a question for my fellow Christian readers: Do you know what the essential doctrines of the Christian faith are? Do you know what the non-essentials are? If you were asked to do so could you list them? Please don’t feel embarrassed or ashamed if the answer to any or all of these questions is no – I didn’t have a good grasp on them when I entered Mormon Studies.  But boy, oh boy, did I learn them, and learn them fast – I had to in order to survive in this rough and tumble world where acrimony too often reigns supreme!

What was most helpful to me was Theologian Matt Slick’s primer on the subject where he explains:

The Bible itself reveals those doctrines that are essential to the Christian faith.  They are 1) the Deity of Christ, 2) Salvation by Grace, 3) Resurrection of Christ, 4) the gospel, and 5) monotheism.  These are the doctrines the Bible says are necessary.  Though there are many other important doctrines, these five are the ones that are declared by Scripture to be essential. [1]

(click for larger view)

Figure A: The Different Types of Essentials and Non-Essentials by C. Michael Patton (click on chart to enlarge)

Once again for emphasis, the essential doctrines of the Christian faith are as follows:

The Essential Doctrines of the Christian Faith
1) The Deity of Jesus Christ.
2) Salvation by Grace.
3) The resurrection of Jesus Christ.
4) The gospel of Jesus Christ, and
5) Monotheism.

On these issues there is – and always has been – unity among Christians. Simply put if you’re not aligned with these Biblical essentials you and/or your group isn’t aligned with orthodox, mainstream, Biblical Christianity. As Mr. Slick goes on to explain, “A non-regenerate person (i.e., Mormon or Jehovah’s Witness, atheist, Muslim), will deny one or more of these essential doctrines.   Please note that there are other derivative doctrines of scripture that become necessary also and the Trinity being one.”[2]

Everything else is non-essential.  As theologian C. Michael Patton’s chart illustrates (see Figure A above) that’s not to say that the non-essentials are unimportant, it’s just to say that the Bible is silent, ambiguous, or unclear on them – or that they’re not essential for salvation.  Therefore, there’s “wiggle room” on them. We’re talking about things like:

  • Eschatology (how and when the end times will unfold, the rapture, the millenium, the role of Israel today, etc.)
  • Earth Age (young v. old earth creationism, etc.)
  • Bible translation preferences (King James v. modern translations, word-for-word v. thought-for-thought, etc.)
  • Ecclesiology (church government models, the roles of clergy and laity, are Apostles and Prophets for today, etc.)
  • Soteriological Systems (Arminianism v. Calvinism, etc.)
  • Demonology (can a Christian have a demon or not, teachings on various kinds of spiritual warfare, etc.)
  • Sacrament practices (wine v. grape juice, leavened v. unleavened bread, who can administer, etc.)
  • Modes of baptism (sprinkling v. full immersion, infant baptism, etc.)
  • Worship styles (liturgical  v. contemporary, hymns v. choruses, choirs, drums v. organs, etc.)
  • The gifts of the Holy Spirit (tongues v. no tongues, cessationism v. continuationism, etc.)
  • Worship observances (Sabbatarianism v. Sunday worship, observance of special holy days, etc.)
  • Food and drink (consumption of alcohol v. abstinence,  kosher v. non-kosher food, etc.)
  • Various do’s and don’ts (tobacco consumption, playing cards, dancing, makeup, “acceptable” dress, movies, etc.)
  • Etc., etc., etc. This is far from an exhaustive or comprehensive list of Christian non-essentials – it seems endless at times!

On these issues there’s liberty. Christians can and will have legitimate differences of opinion and beliefs on them.  Thus for modern Christians, the words of 17th century Theologian Rupertus Meldenius still ring true today:

In essentials, unity;
In non-essentials, liberty;
In all things, charity.

Or as Christian Theologian C. Michael Patton explains, “I often tell people that there are some things which I believe that I would die for; there are some things which I believe that I would lose an arm for; there are some things which I believe that I would lose a finger for; and then there are some things which I believe that I would not even get a manicure for.”[3]

2) It takes the focus off of the essentials.
Mormon Researcher Bill McKeever has a a great saying, “The gospel is offensive enough – let’s make sure we offend Mormons with what really matters!”  Arguing from dogma, preferences, and non-essential doctrine dilutes the message to Mormons that really matters, specifically:

1) Mormonism teaches another Jesus. Jesus Christ wasn’t the procreated son of God. He’s not an exalted man who acheived deification. He is, and always has been, God eternal. (The Deity of Jesus Christ)

2) Mormonism teaches another salvation – specifically that additional works (baptism into a church, temple ordinances, temple marriage, etc.) are all required for full salvation. Rather, the Bible teaches repeatedly that we are saved by grace through faith in the atoning work of Christ on the cross, plus nothing. (Salvation by Grace)

3) Mormonism gets Christ’s resurrection mostly right but is still wrong. Thank you our Mormon friends for getting the resurrection of Jesus Christ mostly right! However, the teaching that Jesus by his resurrection assures immortality in some heavenly kingdom for virtually everyone not isn’t biblical, it’s universalist heresy. (The resurrection of Jesus Christ)[4]

4) Mormonism teaches another gospel. Paul told us plainly what the gospel is: “Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand.  By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you.  Otherwise, you have believed in vain.  For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,”[5] Mormonism requires works in addition to Christ’s atonement (by making observance of laws and ordinances a salvific issue) thus nullifying God’s grace and putting Mormons back under the law. (The gospel of Jesus Christ)

5) Mormonism teaches a form of henotheistic idolatry. The Bible is clear from cover-to-cover that there is one – and only one – eternal being known as God who consists of three co-equal, co-eternal persons.  The Bible does not teach that there is a plurality of gods, be they exalted, deified men or otherwise. In fact, the Bible repeatedly denounces such teaching. (Monotheism)

6) Mormonism follows a false prophet. And of course, since all the errant, unbiblical, and heretical doctrines above were introduced to the world by Joseph Smith, the Christian message to Mormonism has also first and foremost always been:  You’re following a false prophet!  While that’s not directly tied to the essentials of the Christian faith it’s still an important Biblical distinctive[6] and has always been at the core of Christian arguments against Mormonism.

3) Making non-essentials essential is a very Mormon thing to do.
Stop for a moment and consider this:  Mormonism specializes in making molehills into mountains and non-essentials into essentials.  There’s a reason for this: Because systematic theology is impossible in Mormonism, it’s also impossible to distinguish essential doctrines from non-essential doctrines.[7]

To cite just one of many examples let’s consider baptism.  Mormonism is absolute in its belief that getting baptized in the right way, with the right words, by the right person, into the right church is essential for salvation. Consider this from the official LdS Church website:

Baptism by immersion in water by one having authority is the first saving ordinance of the gospel and is necessary for an individual to become a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and to receive eternal salvation. All who seek eternal life must follow the example of the Savior by being baptized and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost.[8]

In fact, baptism is so critically important in Mormon soteriology that Latter-day Saints make proxy baptism for dead folks (that is, the ones who got it “wrong” while they were alive) a major focus and priority. They consume countless hours and expend untold resources in this effort. Just notice how in the following excerpt from the LdS Church website the criticality of proper baptism for the dead is dogmatically stressed:

Jesus Christ taught that baptism is essential to the salvation of all who have lived on earth (see John 3:5). Many people, however, have died without being baptized. Others were baptized without proper authority. Because God is merciful, He has prepared a way for all people to receive the blessings of baptism. By performing proxy baptisms in behalf of those who have died, Church members offer these blessings to deceased ancestors. Individuals can then choose to accept or reject what has been done in their behalf.[9]

Yet, when one considers the Biblical record, baptism isn’t nearly as cut and dry – or even as vital – as Mormon doctrine makes it:

Requiring anything in addition to faith in Jesus Christ for salvation is a works-based salvation. To add anything to the gospel is to say that Jesus’ death on the cross was not sufficient to purchase our salvation. To say that baptism is necessary for salvation is to say we must add our own good works and obedience to Christ’s death in order to make it sufficient for salvation. Jesus’ death alone paid for our sins (Romans 5:8; 2 Corinthians 5:21). Jesus’ payment for our sins is appropriated to our “account” by faith alone (John 3:16; Acts 16:31; Ephesians 2:8-9). Therefore, baptism is an important step of obedience after salvation but cannot be a requirement for salvation.

Yes, there are some verses that seem to indicate baptism as a requirement for salvation. However, since the Bible so clearly tells us that salvation is received by faith alone (John 3:16; Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5), there must be a different interpretation of those verses. Scripture does not contradict Scripture. In Bible times, a person who converted from one religion to another was often baptized to identify conversion. Baptism was the means of making a decision public. Those who refused to be baptized were saying they did not truly believe. So, in the minds of the apostles and early disciples, the idea of an un-baptized believer was unheard of. When a person claimed to believe in Christ, yet was ashamed to proclaim his faith in public, it indicated that he did not have true faith.[10]

Trust me, I have very strong opinions on baptism – how it should be done, when it should be done, etc. – and I’m pretty darn certain in my little mind that they’re utterly biblical and totally legitimate. However, I still qualify them as my opinion as such when dealing with Mormons because I understand that other Christians can have equally biblical, equally legitimate positions on baptism.   After all, I would much rather have them focusing on what really matters rather than whether someone should be dunked, sprinkled, or doused after they’ve accepted the gospel and made the decision to follow Jesus – wouldn’t you?

4) The argument unravels when and if it’s challenged by Christians who hold to equally valid positions.
This has happened to us all hasn’t it?  On more than one occasion when presenting an argument to a Mormon I’ve glossed poetic giving the logic, reason, and language of my church’s views on a particular non-essential of the faith. I’ve uttered the very words that gets the congregation nodding their heads in agreement and giving a hardy “Amen!” in our church.  I’ve been articulate. I’ve been clever. I’ve been witty.  I’ve been wise. And I’ve rested my case and sat back down smug and self-satisfied only to have some “loser” from another church or group say, “Really?  Well what about . . . ?” and then proceed to present evidence that demonstrates that’s there’s more than one valid view on the matter.  And so there I’ll sit, frowning with egg on my face while I watch while my beautiful and glorious “watertight” argument springs a leak right before my eyes (not to mention a worldwide audience). Yes folks, if humbling experiences build character then I must have a lot of character by now!

Curb Your DogmaIn the end, and to paraphrase and abuse an oft quoted Mormon colloquialism, “When your pastor has spoken all the thinking hasn’t been done!”  I know you love your pastor – I love mine too; I know you love your church – I love mine too, and; I know you think you’re absolutely, positively right in your theology – so do I.  But the fact remains that on the non-essentials there are a lot of good, thoughtful, valid positions out there. Getting too dogmatic on them will only get you in trouble in the marketplace of ideas and make you unpleasant to be around. If you do it too much, you’ll simply be ignored. And like I said, that egg on the face thing has happened to us all hasn’t it? So, perhaps when it comes to the non-essentials we would all do well to “curb our dogma”.

5) It reinforces the Mormon Great Apostasy dogma.
Most Mormons think, and the LdS Church teaches, that all Christian churches other than theirs are a big ball of confusion. Consider this from the official LdS Church website:

During the Great Apostasy, people were without divine direction from living prophets. Many churches were established, but they did not have priesthood power to lead people to the true knowledge of God the Father and Jesus Christ.[11]

Public bickering in front of Mormons on non-essentials just validates and reinforces this stereotype and prejudice.

Further, watching Christians do their “in house” debating over non-essentials on Mormon discussion boards is what some (manipulative) Mormons live for. I’m an administrator on several Mormon themed discussion boards and I have seen more than one Mormon deliberately bait the Calvinists to get them arguing with the Arminians (or vice versa) simply so they can sit back and watch the Christian fur flying and get the heat off of the errors of Mormonism.  They love it because the spatting, hair pulling, caterwauling cat fight the Christians are giving to a worldwide audience is something that they can point to and (incorrectly) say, “See what I mean? Mormons never bicker like this! We have a living prophet to guide us! We have unity, peace, and serenity in our church! We’re homogenized and boring – and we love it that way!”

The Stronger Arguments:
Normally at this point in the articles in this series we provide a series of suggested arguments to use instead of the weak argument that was originally presented.  However, this article is really more of an introduction to an overall problem that we see in weak arguments that Christians regularly make – just go onto a Mormon themed discussion board on Facebook after you’re done reading this and within minutes you’ll see what I mean.

Coming articles will echo this article in that we will present some common weak arguments that we’ve seen regularly that fall into the general category of arguing dogmatically over non-essentials.

That said, it should also be said that strong arguments against Mormonism are always rooted and grounded firmly in the essentials of the Christian faith.  Specifically, strong arguments will always be some variation on the themes we introduced earlier in this article:

1) Mormonism teaches another Jesus.
2) Mormonism teaches another salvation.
3) Mormonism gets Christ’s resurrection mostly right but is still wrong.
4) Mormonism teaches another gospel.
5) Mormonism teaches polytheism.
6) Mormonism follows a false prophet.

Like the notes in a musical theme these six points can be woven into a seemingly endless array of strong, persuasive arguments. Use them skillfully and creatively and your arguments against Mormonism will be as moving as a Mozart symphony. But if you deviate too far from them, we’re talking Spike Jones.

in-essentials-unity-in-non-essentials-liberty-in-all-things-charity-43988

NOTES
[1] Matt Slick, “Essential Doctrines of Christianity”, CARM website. While Mr. Slick’s article is an excellent short vernacular primer, C. Michael Patton’s “Essentials and Non-Essentials in a Nutshell” article is the better resource for those seeking a fuller, more nuanced understanding of the subject. Finally for those who find Mr. Slick’s outline format a bit too cryptic and Mr. Patton’s article too long should consider the short but insightful “What are the essentials of the Christian faith?” article on the “Got Questions?” website instead.

[2] Ibid, Slick

[3] C. Michael Patton, “Essentials and Non-Essentials in a Nutshell”, Credo House website

[4] Yes, Mormonism gets this one mostly right – let’s give some credit where credit is due. Never-the-less, Theologian Rob Bowman of the Institute for Religious Research (IRR) explains how and why Mormonism still manages to get the resurrection of Christ wrong:

According to the LDS Church, Jesus’ death and resurrection guarantees resurrection to immortal life for practically everybody—Christian or not, moral or not—in one of three heavenly kingdoms. (The only exception are the “sons of perdition,” incorrigibly evil people that include some ex-Mormons.) We cannot discuss the three Mormon heavenly kingdoms here, but the Bible is clear that the wicked will be resurrected only to face, in their bodies, their condemnation to eternal punishment (Dan. 12:2; Matt. 10:28; 25:46; John 5:28-29; Acts 24:15). They derive no benefit from Christ’s atoning death. Only the righteous “in Christ”—those who belong to Christ—will be made alive and given immortality (1 Cor. 15:22-23, 53-54).

Finally, although the LDS Church affirms that Jesus ascended bodily into Heaven and will return bodily to the earth one day, it wrongly claims that Jesus has visited the earth bodily on other occasions between his ascension and second coming. The Book of Mormon claims that Jesus visited the Nephites in the Americas several separate times, destroyed whole cities of the wicked, preached to the righteous, and formed a church for them. In the First Vision story, Joseph Smith claimed that Jesus (and God the Father!) appeared personally to him to instruct him to join none of the existing churches. These LDS claims may seem innocent enough, but their significance is that they call into question the sufficiency and, ultimately, the reliability of the New Testament revelations of Jesus Christ.
(Rob Bowman, “The Mormon View of Jesus Christ: The Bottom-Line Guide to Mormonism, Part 5″, IRR website article)

[5] 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 (New International Version)

[6] Please consider Deuteronomy 13:1-5 in light of this which says:

If there arises among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams, and he gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes to pass, of which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods’—which you have not known—‘and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams, for the Lord your God is testing you to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall walk after the Lord your God and fear Him, and keep His commandments and obey His voice; you shall serve Him and hold fast to Him. But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has spoken in order to turn you away from the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of bondage, to entice you from the way in which the Lord your God commanded you to walk. So you shall put away the evil from your midst.
(New King James Version)

[7] Systematic Theology is impossible in Mormonism because any established theological system or doctrine within that system can be overturned at any time via a new revelation from the current “Living Prophet”.  The latest example of this is Official Declaration 2 which overturned long standing doctrine which banned Negroes from holding the Mormon Priesthood.  Due to the Mormon doctrine that new continuing revelation from the Mormon god can contradict his past revelation(s) no Mormon doctrine is safe from such potential action. Mormon history is rife with examples which BYU Professor Charles Harrell has done a masterful job of documenting in his two-volume, “This Is My Doctrine” book series. (link to Amazon pages for these titles: Volume 1; Volume 2)

Hence the saying:
“As heresy is, Mormon doctrine once was.
As Mormon doctrine is, heresy will it become.”

[8] Official LdS Church website, “Topics: Baptism”

[9] Official LdS Church website, “Topics: Baptisms for the Dead”

[10] “Got Questions?” website, “Is baptism necessary for salvation?”

[11] Official LdS Church website, “Apostasy”

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Mormon Doctrine Large_Edited

An ongoing series of articles on some common and recurring weak arguments that Christians make against Mormonism.

by Bobby Gilpin
The Argument:
“I know what you believe, because Brigham Young, Bruce R. McConkie or some other general authority said…..”

Why It’s Weak:
In making this argument you are assuming the beliefs of an individual you have likely only just met. This is never a good thing to do. If you’re an LDS member with any experience of speaking with Evangelicals, or any other critics of Mormonism before, you have likely had a discussion like this before.

Beheld-Virgin-Bearing-AD

Scenario One
Critic You deny the virgin birth don’t you?
LDS No, as a matter of fact I don’t, please let me explain to you my belief on this.
Critic I don’t need to hear it, I have a great quote from Brigham Young when He says the birth of Christ was as natural as anyone else’s.[1] I know what you guys believe.
LDS As I said that is not my view, would you please let me explain my view on this?

This far from only applies to Brigham Young quotes. Lets try another – one that I have personally experienced and learned from by my mistakes:

Scenario Two
Critic Ah, so you’re a Mormon. Well I think it’s totally heretical that you believe God was once a man.
LDS As a matter of fact I don’t believe that either. As Moroni 8:18 and Psalm 90:2 say, God has always been God.
Critic I ‘m sorry but I think you’re just being dishonest, Joseph Smith taught this in the King Follett Discourse, so you must believe it.
LDS There are some renderings of Joseph Smith’s sermons that seem to suggest this. I’m not too persuaded by them as these are not scripture. Would you please let me explain what I believe.

Joseph Smith delivering The King Follett Discourse on April 7, 1844 at Spring General Conference.

Joseph Smith delivering The King Follett Discourse on April 7, 1844 at Spring General Conference.

1) Point One.
We as evangelicals often have this notion that Mormons are all brainwashed and are in some big mind controlling cult, where they all believe the exact same thing – that they would never dream of questioning anything that their leadership says. This is not the case, there is a mass diversity of views within the LDS Church, some people take everything the general authorities say literally, some do not.

It’s always worth bearing this in mind when conversing with LDS people. Some are of the view that if it’s not in the Standard works, then it’s not binding; some may take a lot from the likes of Bruce R. Mcconkie and his book, “Mormon Doctrine”; some may look to James E. Talmage and his writings; some may take closer stock of Gordon B. Hinckley. It often depends on when they grew up or developed their faith.

2) Point Two.
This does not, for a second, take away the validity of your arguments against the teaching of Mormon leaders. What it does mean is that you need to word your argument a little differently. Rather than saying, “I already know what you believe Mr./Ms. Mormon”, instead say: “Here is what your leaders have taught, can we talk about it?”

3) Point Three.
You will inevitably come across the issue of what is official doctrine in the LDS Church. This is a question that no one really has an answer too, LDS or not. And can be a bit of a red herring in discussions. I could not possibly put forward a response to this that’s better than what Keith Walker from Evidence Ministries has done here – this is well worth a watch.

The Stronger Arguments:
First Suggested Strong Argument:
So with all this in mind lets try that first scenario again.

Critic Do you believe that Jesus was born of a virgin?
LDS No, as a matter of fact, I don’t. I affirm what the Bible says that Jesus was born without an earthly parent.
Critic Could you explain what you mean by an earthly parent?
LDS As a latter-day Saint I do not accept the idea that the Holy Ghost somehow “overshadowed” Mary then making her parent – no child is ever born this way. I believe that Jesus was a literal son of His Heavenly Father, and thus in the way that we would usually understand a birth to occur, Jesus was in fact born of a virgin. Bruce R. McConkie said this:

“For our present purposes, suffice it to say that our Lord was born of a virgin, which is fitting and proper, and also natural, since the Father of the Child was an Immortal Being”
(Bruce R. McConkie, The Promised Messiah: The First Coming of Christ, pg. 466)

This sums it up well for me.
Critic Thank you for explaining this. This to me still very much sounds like Jesus was not actually born of a virgin if you are saying that Heavenly Father impregnated Mary naturally.
LDS I guess we define virgin birth differently then, but this is my belief.

(Quick disclaimer: I know this last paragraph does not represent all LDS people – however it will some. It’s more the style of conversation than the content that I am attempting to model here.)

Do you see the difference? Rather than presuming what the Mormon believes, you ask, and then in the ensuing process you get them to tell you their view so you can discuss it from there. More often than not you will still have plenty of places to go with that based what the LDS person says. And sometimes you will even speak with a Mormon who is very “Evangelical savvy” and will give answers that sound identical to your view. That’s where the second stronger argument comes in.

Second Suggested Strong Argument:
While it is not good to make the assumption that Mormons believe something on the basis of a Mormon leader saying it, there is still a lot of ground for discussion on the back of what Mormon leaders have said. Lets try my scenario two again.

Critic Ah so you’re a Mormon, well I think it’s totally heretical that Joseph Smith taught that God was once a man, what is your view on this?
LDS As a matter of fact I don’t believe that. As Moroni 8:18 and Psalm 90:2 say, God has always been God.
Critic I appreciate your response, its good to know that LDS people can look past some of these statements and hold onto the truth about God. But is it not then an issue to you that people who are modern-day Prophets and Apostles are clearly teaching falsehoods about God?
LDS I don’t see LDS leaders as infallible, they are men and sometimes speak as such.
Critic That does not seem to measure up with the teachings of your church. For instance the 2013 LDS Manual, Teachings of Lorenzo Snow, said this:

President Snow later recalled, “the Spirit of the Lord rested mightily upon me—the eyes of my understanding were opened, and I saw as clear as the sun at noonday, with wonder and astonishment, the pathway of God and man. I formed the following couplet which expresses the revelation, as it was shown me. …

“As man now is, God once was:
“As God now is, man may be.”

Feeling that he had received “a sacred communication” that he should guard carefully, Lorenzo Snow did not teach the doctrine publicly until he knew that the Prophet Joseph Smith had taught it. Once he knew the doctrine was public knowledge, he testified of it frequently. [2]

Critic It seems that one of your Prophets saw that as a sacred communication, if he is the one with the authority to speak for your church, and this was reprinted in 2013 by your church, where is your authority to say that this is wrong?
LDS I guess I have no authority to say that this is wrong, I just don’t believe it.
Critic Ok I respect your view, however this seems to be what your church teaches, can we please focus on that as I see some massive issues there.

Dallin H Oaks Tweet

LDS Apostle Dallin H. Oaks’ tweet of September 26, 2014 regarding the upcoming Fall General Conference. (click to zoom)

Again not all LDS people will respond this way. Many LDS people will simply affirm that God was once a man, stop there and go no further. It’s more in LDS apologetic circles today where it’s being completely denied that it ever was or still is doctrine. But the point here is that while an LDS member may not believe what their leaders have taught on an issue, that does not change the massive issue that their leaders have actually taught it or that it’s still taught in current church manuals.

LDS Missionaries all over the world are knocking on doors talking about how amazing it is that they have a Prophet in their church that brings revelation today. So it’s not sufficient for LDS members to simply shrug off their Prophet’s statements past and present in discussion.

The fact is that those prophets have taught so many problematic things – such as Adam being God, black skin being a curse, and so many more issues – that there’s massive ground for discussion. Don’t just assume that the person you are speaking too holds this view, whatever it may be.

In fact, just this week Dallin Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles “tweeted” that they only say what the Spirit directs them to say at general conference, that’s well worth noting for these discussions.

So in conclusion there is massive ground for discussion with LDS members. There are so, so many areas that you can discuss with them, challenge them on, and help them to know who Jesus really is and what His grace really means. Just don’t assume because you may have read a book about Mormonism, or read some quotes somewhere that you know where any given Mormon comes from on that issue. Ask where they are coming from and then take it from there.

NOTES
[1] “The birth of the Saviour was as natural as are the births of our children; it was the result of natural action. He partook of flesh and blood – was begotten of his Father, as we were of our fathers” (Brigham Young, July 8, 1860, Journal of Discourses 8:115).

[2] Official LDS Church Manual, “Teaching of the Presidents of the Church”, Chapter 5: The Grand Destiny of the Faithful 

This article originally appeared on the Mormonism Investigated UK website.
Beggar’s Bread wishes to express it’s appreciation to the author and this website for allowing us to republish it here.

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RA-Cover-Final-Front-Only-300Reviewed by Richard Packham for the Association for Mormon Letters

Title: Recovering Agency: Lifting the Veil of Mormon Mind Control
Author: Luna Lindsey
Publisher: CreateSpace
Genre: Non-fiction, psychology
Year Published: 2014
Number of Pages: 343
Binding: Soft cover
ISBN10: 1489595937
ISBN13: 978-1500290863
Price: Paperback $24.99, Kindle $9.99

[This review is based on an advance review copy]

This is one of those books that will most likely never be read by the people who most need to read it.

Luna Lindsey is a former Mormon who writes science fiction. She grew up in the LDS church, divorced, raised a son, and left the church in her late twenties. That story is in itself not unusual. Nor is it unusual that a former Mormon would write a book about Mormonism – with the present-day ease of getting a book into print there are hundreds of exmormon exit stories. But this book is not an exit story. Instead, the author writes about the psychological problems when one tries to leave a culture and belief system that promises “free agency,” but effectively prevents adherents from actually using it. Thus, the title: “Recovering Agency.” The purpose of the book is to help people regain the freedom of choice which they unwittingly have lost.

Lindsey has gathered together from dozens of sources a compendium of the techniques used by most organizations (usually religious, but also political) which tend to take over control of more and more aspects of members’ lives. She describes the methods such organizations use to attract new converts, and how the convert gradually becomes more and more enmeshed in the work of furthering the organization’s goals, and gives up more and more of her individuality and freedom in doing so. She has gathered here thousands of quotes from psychiatrists and sociologists who are experts in the field of mind control, as well as reports by former members of such organizations: Unification Church (“Moonies”), Branch Davidians (the Waco cult), People’s Temple (the Jonestown suicides), the Spiritual Rights Foundation (a California Christian cult), the Heavens Gate cult (which committed group suicide to ride a comet to heaven) and, yes, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“Now just wait a goldarn minute!” you are thinking. “Those are cults! The Mormons aren’t a cult!”

Labels (like “cult”) are often not very useful, and all too often function as inefficient shortcuts to conclusions that may be false. That is one of the excellent things about this book. Lindsey does not label, but rather places side-by-side descriptions of similar techniques or practices from many organizations, shows how they affect members in unhealthy and negative ways, and how they are all similar. Including the LDS church. If it quacks like a duck, walks like a duck…

“But those other groups were teaching false doctrine!” you may say. “We Mormons have the Truth, the Only True Church on the face of the earth!” One of the important points Lindsey (and the authorities that she cites) makes is that ALL of those “cults” claimed to be the only source of truth, and their adherents also firmly testified of the miraculous evidence that confirmed their belief.

Another important point made by Lindsey and the experts she cites is that the actual content of the doctrines of mind-control organizations are generally irrelevant to the emotional damage which many of their members suffer. It is rather the methods used to recruit and hold members, and the psychological control that they exert on members.

This book is not the first attempt to deal with the psychological problems of the devout Mormon. Blair Watson published his essay “The Psychological Effects of Mormonism” several years ago ( http://members.shaw.ca/blair_watson ). Marion Stricker wrote “The Pattern of the Double Bind in Mormonism,” appearing first online and later in an expanded book version. But Lindsey’s effort is broader. She relies much more extensively than Watson on similarities with other mind-controlling organizations, and a broader base of experts in psychology and sociology. She also writes more broadly than Stricker, who limited herself to the “double bind” problem. Lindsey spends three chapters on the double bind, but also deals with many more problems and techniques.

The chapter headings indicate the scope of treatment: Cognitive Dissonance, Commitment, Obedience to Authority, Mirror Neurons, Love Bombing, Sacred Science, Mystical Manipulation, Milieu Control, Loading the Language, Thought-terminating Cliches, Black and White Thinking, Indirect Directives, Emotion Over Intellect, Guilt and Shame, and many others.

In each topic, the author quotes statements from leaders of cult-like organizations, statements by LDS general authorities, comments from former cult members and from former Mormons, and analyses by experts in the study of mind control. The juxtaposition is powerful.

The author’s intended audience includes devout Mormons and Mormons who are feeling doubts or unhappiness in Mormonism. Her intent is to help especially those Saints who are hesitant about doubting, by showing them what may be the source of their discomfort. One of the aspects of mind-control is that one subject to it is not aware of it. Cult members universally deny that they are in a cult. Those who have fallen victim most thoroughly to the manipulation of group leaders continue to insist that they are really free to do as they wish, even as their every motion and choice in life is made in obedience to the leaders.

Another intended audience is the non-Mormon reader. For their benefit, the author tries to explain peculiar Mormon terminology and customs. She is not always consistent in this. Frequently she will use a term or mention a name which any Mormon or ex-Mormon would recognize, but would leave a non-Mormon puzzled. This is not a problem for a Mormon reader, of course.

Sometimes a reader might also be confused as to whether it is the author speaking for herself, or whether she is paraphrasing a Mormon voice. Generally, however, she leaves her most personal comments to the end of the chapter, when she offers suggestions to her Mormon readers about how to process that chapter’s information.

As I commented at the beginning of this review, those who really should read this book will likely refuse even to look at it. For starters, the cover is an image of the Salt Lake temple being split apart by lightning. That would be off-putting for any Mormon. And what devout Saint would not immediately deny the implication in the title and subtitle: “I HAVE my free agency! I am NOT a victim of mind control! Ridiculous!”

But if any Mormon, especially one in church leadership, is secure enough in his faith to read this book, there will be benefits, even though the reader retains his faith. He will recognize more clearly what is going on, he will be more aware of the subtle techniques influencing him, just as it benefits any consumer to be knowledgeable about the techniques used by advertisers to increase their sales. To that extent, a reader of this book will indeed recover more of his agency than he had before.

About the Reviewer:
Richard Packham was raised in a fifth-generation Mormon family in Zion, graduated from BYU, married in the temple, and had no doubts about the church until he began studying church history and doctrine intensively in his 20s. His leaving the church cost him his marriage and his three children. His professional career has been as a college teacher (primarily in foreign languages) and attorney. After his retirement, he became active in the Recovery From Mormonism groups, and in 2001 incorporated the Exmormon Foundation. He lives with his never-Mormon wife of forty years on their ranch outside of Roseburg, Oregon. 
Mr. Packham’s website is http://packham.n4m.org
(reviewer biography from the Exmormon Foundation website)

This review originally appeared on the Association of Mormon Letter’s (AML) Discussion Board on August 31, 2014. Beggar’s Bread wishes to express it’s appreciation to Mr. Packham and AML for allowing us to republish it.

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An ongoing series of articles on some common and recurring weak arguments that Christians make against Mormonism.

by Fred W. Anson
The Argument:
“None of the eleven Book of Mormon witnesses ever signed their testimonies.”

Why It’s Weak:
Based on the body of available evidence we don’t really know if the eleven Book of Mormon witnesses ever signed their testimony or not.

Yes, it is true that the signatures on the extant manuscript page that we have for the testimony of the eight and three witnesses were done by Oliver Cowdery. However, that manuscript was “P”, the Printer’s Manuscript, not “O”, the Original Manuscript, which P was copied from.  O was water damaged and almost nearly completely destroyed after being placed in the cornerstone of the Nauvoo House – Joseph Smith’s divinely mandated (see D&C 124:56-83) but never completed boarding house. As Book of Mormon manuscript expert Royal Skousen explains:

The printed versions of the Book of Mormon derive from two manuscripts. The first, called the original manuscript (O), was written by at least three scribes as Joseph Smith translated and dictated. The most important scribe was Oliver Cowdery. This manuscript was begun no later than April 1829 and finished in June 1829.

A copy of the original was then made by Oliver Cowdery and two other scribes. This copy is called the printer’s manuscript (P), since it was the one normally used to set the type for the first (1830) edition of the Book of Mormon. It was begun in July 1829 and finished early in 1830.

Exhibit A: Testimony of Eight Witnesses, late June 1829 Christian Whitmer, Jacob Whitmer, Peter Whitmer Jr., and others, Testimony of Eight Witnesses, Palymra, NY, late June 1829; in Book of Mormon Printer’s Manuscript, p. 464; handwriting of Oliver Cowdery; (credit: Joseph Smith Papers Project)

Exhibit A: Testimony of Eight Witnesses, Palmyra, NY, late June 1829; in Book of Mormon Printer’s Manuscript, p. 464; handwriting of Oliver Cowdery; (credit: Joseph Smith Papers Project)

The printer’s manuscript is not an exact copy of the original manuscript. There are on the average three changes per original manuscript page. These changes appear to be natural scribal errors; there is little or no evidence of conscious editing. Most of the changes are minor, and about one in five produce a discernible difference in meaning. Because they were all relatively minor, most of the errors thus introduced into the text have remained in the printed editions of the Book of Mormon and have not been detected and corrected except by reference to the original manuscript. About twenty of these errors were corrected in the 1981 edition.

The compositor for the 1830 edition added punctuation, paragraphing, and other printing marks to about one-third of the pages of the printer’s manuscript. These same marks appear on one fragment of the original, indicating that it was used at least once in typesetting the 1830 edition.

In preparation for the second (1837) edition, hundreds of grammatical changes and a few textual emendations were made in P. After the publication of this edition, P was retained by Oliver Cowdery. After his death in 1850, his brother-in-law, David Whitmer, kept P until his death in 1888. In 1903 Whitmer’s grandson sold P to the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which owns it today. It is wholly extant except for two lines at the bottom of the first leaf.

The original manuscript was not consulted for the editing of the 1837 edition. However, in producing the 1840 edition, Joseph Smith used O to restore some of its original readings. In October 1841, Joseph Smith placed O in the cornerstone of the Nauvoo House. Over forty years later, Lewis Bidamon, Emma Smith’s second husband, opened the cornerstone and found that water seepage had destroyed most of O. The surviving pages were handed out to various individuals during the 1880s.

Today approximately 25 percent of the text of O survives: 1 Nephi 2 through 2 Nephi 1, with gaps; Alma 22 through Helaman 3, with gaps; and a few other fragments. All but one of the authentic pages and fragments of O are housed in the archives of the LDS Historical Department; one-half of a sheet (from 1 Nephi 14) is owned by the University of Utah.[1]

Again, and to summarize, P was copied from O by Oliver Cowdery and two other scribes to prepare it for the typesetting process. Therefore, it’s only logical and reasonable that the dominant handwriting be his. Further, the portions of O that were destroyed were the first outside and last outside pages (water saturation works from the outside in on books – just like it does on a dry sponge) which included the page (or possibly pages) with the testimonies of the witnesses on it.

Therefore, it’s impossible to know for if the witnesses autographed their respective testimonies on O or not. Hard conclusions either way – no matter how dogmatically or emphatically stated – are nothing more than speculation.

Where Did This Weak Argument Come From?
This argument was practically non-existent until a photograph of the page from the P manuscript with the signatures in Oliver Cowdery’s handwriting was published as a part of the Joseph Smith Papers Project (see Exhibit A above). At that point some Mormon Critics who were unfamiliar with the history of the Book of Manuscripts drew wrong conclusions from the photograph based on the presumption that it was the only Book of Mormon manuscript ever created by Joseph Smith and his colleagues. They then went on to make uninformed, absolutist statements publicly which served only to spread ignorant inference as fact to a worldwide audience.

Further exacerbating the problem was Jeremy T. Runnells’ “Letter to a CES Director” in which he used the following as an argument against the Book of Mormon:

The closest thing we have in existence to an original document of the testimonies of the witnesses is a printer’s manuscript written by Oliver Cowdery. Every witness name on that document is not signed; they are written in Oliver’s own handwriting. Further, there is no testimony from any of the witnesses directly attesting to the direct wording and claims of the manuscript or statements in the Book of Mormon.[2]

MormonInfographics Book of Mormon Witnesses

Exhibit B: MormonInfographics meme with the questionable “Book of Mormon ‘Witnesses’ didn’t even sign their names” headline.

Mr. Runnells’ argument is, at it’s core and presented in it’s entirety, for the most part sound. But again, his point can easily be misunderstood by those who don’t have a full understanding of the manuscript history of the Book of Mormon thus leading to misstatement and wrong conclusions.

For example, after the “Letter to a CES Director” was published a graphic (see Exhibit B) appeared on the MormonInfographics website with the words, “Book of Mormon ‘Witnesses’ didn’t even sign their names” as the headline – that is, as if their missing signatures on the original testimonies were an established and verified fact rather than speculation based on the absence of evidence.

The MormonInfographics meme quickly went viral on social media further disseminating this weak argument.  Further, weakening the argument was the fact that Mr. Runnells overstated his case since Oliver Cowdery’s signature as a Book of Mormon witness on the page is legitimate. This oversight was later corrected in the revised 2014 edition of his “Letter to a CES Director”.[3]

And, as they say, the rest is history – this argument continues to be used by critics despite it’s fragility.

The Stronger Arguments:
When it comes to the Book of Mormon witnesses it often seems like there’s no end to strong, compelling, cogent, persuasive arguments against them and their testimonies to choose from. MormonThink has pages of them (click here) as does the aforementioned “Letter to a CES Director” (click here). And if that’s not enough the “Letter to a CES Director” companion piece “Debunking FAIR’s Debunking” (click here) has yet more.  That said, we offer a small sampling of those arguments for your consideration.

First Suggested Stronger Argument:
Use the fully formed and nuanced argument that Jeremy Runnells uses in “Letter to a CES Director” and “Debunking FAIR’s Debunking” in it’s entirety rather than anything short or cryptic:

From “Letter to a CES Director”:

From a legal perspective, the statements of the testimonies of the Three and Eight witnesses hold no credibility or weight in a court of law as there are a) no signatures, b) no specific dates, c) no specific locations, and d) most of the witnesses made statements after the fact that contradict and cast doubt on the specific claims made in the statements contained in the preface of the Book of Mormon.
(page 61, revised edition)

In discussing the witnesses, we should not overlook the primary accounts of the events they testified to. The official statements published in the Book of Mormon are not dated, signed (we have no record with their signatures), nor is a specific location given for where the events occurred. These are not eleven legally sworn affidavits but rather simple statements pre-written by Joseph Smith with claims of having been signed by three men and another by eight.
(page 62, revised edition)

From “Debunking FAIR’s Debunking”:

[LdS Apologist group] FAIR again misses the point, which is that no original, signed document of the witnesses’ testimonies exists.

We do not have an actual document of actual signatures of the Book of Mormon witnesses. We just have a document, in Oliver’s own handwriting, of the names of the Witnesses. We have a claim that there was a document of actual signatures and a claim that this document was “placed in the cornerstone of the Nauvoo House” and that it was “destroyed by water damage” years later.

We’re asked to put faith in a claim as opposed to being able to observe and analyze actual individual signatures written by actual individual witnesses. Without the original document, of course, there is no way of knowing with certainty whether the witnesses actually signed it. And, as explained below, subsequent accounts of two of the witnesses (Martin Harris and David Whitmer) conflict with key details of the account given in the Book of Mormon.
(link to source)

Second Suggested Stronger Argument:
Instead of using this argument argue that the body of evidence that strongly suggests that the witnesses never physically or tangibly saw or handled the golden plates. Mormon Researcher Bill McKeever explains:

Several LDS sources give the eleven men who bore their testimony to the authenticity of the Book of Mormon the special title of eyewitness; however, it appears doubtful that any of them actually saw the plates apart from a supernatural and subjective experience. While they all claimed to have handled what they were told were ancient plates, they did so while the plates were covered up and not visible. That being case, how is their experience any different from others who also claimed to handle the plates? Such persons include Joseph Smith’s mother, Lucy Mack Smith. Lucy admitted she never saw the plates, but she claimed to have handled what she was told were plates of “pure gold.” As mentioned earlier, Joseph Smith’s wife Emma also claimed that she handled the plates when she moved them to “do her work” in the Smith home, though she insisted that she never uncovered them.

I maintain that if the eleven are called eyewitnesses, why not Lucy and Emma as well? After all, their experiences with what they thought were gold plates are really not much different than that of the eleven. Mormons might find this conclusion troubling since it tends to take away some of the mysterious sensation associated with the accepted folklore, but it is a consistent conclusion when it comes to comparing the experiences of those involved. If Mormons want to insist that a person can’t be considered an eyewitness to the authenticity of the gold plates unless they actually saw them, then there were no eyewitnesses to Joseph Smith’s gold plates.[4]

Third Suggested Stronger Argument:
Compare and contrast how credible testimony should be done versus how it was done in the case of the Book of Mormon Witnesses. Here’s an example of how to present this argument from MormonThink:[5]

If someone was going to have witnesses to some earth-shattering event, and they wanted people to believe them, they would have done it very differently than Joseph did. The whole witnesses’ portion of the BOM would have been much better served if the following things had been done:

  1. None of the witnesses should have been related to Joseph or each other.
    Most of the witnesses were either related or good friends. Having unrelated people as witnesses would be far more effective than using your brothers and father.
  2. The witnesses should not have already been eager believers.
    There should have been some skeptics.
  3. There should have been no financial motive.
    Martin Harris mortgaged his farm and invested at least $3,000 of his own money into printing the Book of Mormon, so of course he had incentive to ‘promote’ the book.
  4. Each of the witnesses should each have written their own testimony instead of merely signing a prepared statement written by Joseph.
    If the prepared document wasn’t 100% accurate many people would simply sign it anyway as it would be too much of a hassle to have it completely rewritten by hand – especially in the 1800s.
  5. The witnesses should have been much more detailed about this amazing event.
    What did the angel look like? What exactly did he say? How did he speak? There are almost no details provided which can be analyzed and compared. If each witness had simply written their own account and provided significant details then their individual testimonies could corroborate each other.
  6. The witnesses should have been interviewed independently immediately after going public.
    They should have been interviewed the same way police do with witnesses to crimes or that investigators do with UFO cases. Ask questions to see if their stories match; How was the angel dressed? How tall was he? How did he speak?, etc.
  7. The witnesses should not have used subjective language and say strange things like comparing seeing the plates with seeing a city through a mountain or using spiritual eyes instead of their natural eyes to view physical plates.
  8. The witnesses should not have been gullible people that believed in things like ‘second sight’, divining rods, finding treasure by placing a rock in a hat, etc.
    That the Three Witnesses were a gullible sort is illustrated by an incident in July, 1837. Joseph had left on a five-week missionary tour to Canada, only to find on his return that all three of the Witnesses had joined a faction opposing him. This faction rallied around a young girl who claimed to be a seeress by virtue of a black stone in which she read the future. David Whitmer, Martin Harris, and Oliver Cowdery all pledged her their loyalty, and Frederick G. Williams, formerly Joseph’s First Counselor, became her scribe. The girl seeress would dance herself into a state of exhaustion, fall to the floor, and burst forth with revelations. (See Lucy Smith: Biographical Sketches, pp. 211-213).
  9. All of the witness should have been much more vocal and been interviewed much more often.
    There are very few interviews done with the witnesses that provide any additional information or corroboration of their statements. You would think that these people, after seeing such a magnificent sight, would spend their time testifying to the world about their experience instead of largely just signing a prepared statement and avoiding interviews by the media. Only three of the eight witnesses made separate statements that they had handled the plates. They were Joseph’s two brothers, Hyrum and Samuel, and John Whitmer.
  10. And of course it would have helped had all the witnesses remained loyal to the Church for the rest of their lives instead of having most of them abandon it later on.
    It doesn’t make much sense to leave the one, true Church of God if you have really received an indisputable witness that it was true. Why would these people risk being cast in Outer Darkness for all eternity for denying what they KNEW to be true unless they maybe had some doubts?
    (link to source)
The "three witnesses" to the Book of Mormon: Oliver Cowdrey, David Whitmer, and Martin Harris

The “three witnesses” to the Book of Mormon: Oliver Cowdrey, David Whitmer, and Martin Harris

NOTES
[1] Royal Skousen, “Book of Mormon Manuscripts”, article in The Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 1992 edition. For those who would like to go deeper on this subject the following video is recommended: Royal Skousen, “The Original and Printer’s Manuscripts”

[2] Jeremy T. Runnells, “Letter to a CES Director” (first edition), p.55

[3] Jeremy T. Runnells, “Letter to a CES Director” (revised edition), p.60

[4] Bill McKeever, “Did the Eleven Witnesses Actually See the Gold Plates?”

[5] Author uncredited, “How should it have been done?”, Mormon Think website

BACK TO TOP

An ongoing series of articles on some common and recurring weak arguments that Christians make against Mormonism.

by Fred W. Anson
The Argument:
“Everyone knows that the Biblical canon is closed – it says so at the very end of the Bible in Revelation 22:18 which says:

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

So Joseph Smith willfully defied God’s Word by adding new scripture to a canon of scripture that God said was complete and forever closed!”

Why it’s weak:
1) It’s a misinterpretation of the passage.
As Bill McKeever of Mormon Research Ministry explains:

Revelation 22:18 read in context and carefully is referring solely to itself – not the Bible in it’s entirety and not to any other book of the Bible.  This is clearer when the verse is considered in it’s full context:

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”.

2) It’s location at the close of the Biblical canon isn’t relevant.
The reasoning behind the order of the books of the New Testament  is no mystery:  In the ancient world works of literature were bound by category,  author, and then finally by length from longest to shortest. [1] As John MacArthur’s Grace to You website explains:

The books in the English Bible follow a subject arrangement and are not in the order they were written. The arrangement mirrors that of the Septuagint, a Greek translation of the Old Testament made a few hundred years before Christ…

The New Testament order is also based on subject categories. First come the historical books–the gospels and Acts. Then come the epistles–first those from Paul, then those written by the other writers. Revelation comes at the end.

The early church always grouped the gospels with Matthew first, followed by Mark or Luke, then the gospel of John. It also arranged the Pauline epistles in two categories–first the epistles to the churches, then the personal letters. It typically arranged those epistles according to size or length. The personal letters and general epistles (non-Pauline writings) appear to follow that arrangement–Hebrews first, followed by the writings of James, Peter, John, and Jude. [2]

So, just as the Old Testament Septuagint had the prophetic books at the end, so does the New Testament – it just so happened that there was only one prophetic book. Sure, one can argue that the order of the books were divinely inspired but it too is a weak argument given all the other evidence that contradicts what essentially amounts to nothing more than confirmation bias laden speculation.

3) Using this same tactic, it also be argued that the New Testament is likewise condemned in the Old Testament.
If one applies this same kind of (sloppy, out of context) exegesis consistently then the New Testament is condemned by similar, earlier passages in the Bible:

Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.
- Deuteronomy 4:2 (KJV) 

What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it.
- Deuteronomy 12:32 (KJV) 

Yet, many many books and commandments were added to the Biblical canon afterwards – including most the of the Old, all of the New Testament, and Christ’s new commandments in the gospels.  And like Revelation 22:18 one need only read these verses in context to see why this isn’t a problem – again, these words applied only to the portion of scripture that they were contained in, not the entirety of the Bible.

4) This argument condemns the Apostle John too.
If Revelation 22:18 is applied to the other canonized writings of the Apostle John (the author of the Book of Revelation) then he’s just as guilty as Joseph Smith is.  That’s because the body of evidence demonstrates that the Book of Revelation was the probably first book that John wrote with his gospel and epistles coming later. The approximate timeline is as follows:

The Book of Revelation – circa 68
The Gospel of John – circa 85
The Epistles of John – circa 90-95 [3]

This is because internal evidence in the Book of Revelation would seem to indicate that it was written before 70AD because the Temple in Jerusalem was still standing when it was written:

Revelation 1-11 alludes frequently to the fall of Jerusalem. John is called to measure the temple, without any suggestion that it is destroyed (11:1). Jesus told His disciples that within their generation, not one stone of the temple would be left on top another (Mt. 24:2). The temple was destroyed in A.D. 70 and never rebuilt. Thus, it is evident that Revelation was written before that judgment. [4]

Further, John’s epistles assume that the reader is familiar with material that’s unique to both the Book of Revelation and his gospel narrative:

Many of these themes in 1-3 John are also present in the Gospel of John. The subject of truth and the idea of a commandment of love is prominent in both books, along with the idea that God is light. “Eternal life” is a phrase that occurs with disproportionate frequency in John and 1 John. Common between the Gospel of John and Revelation are the ideas of Christ as the Lamb and the water of life. Christ is described by the Greek word “logos”, meaning “word”, in John 1:1, 14; 1 John 1:1, and Rev 19:13, but nowhere else in the Bible. Only Rev 1:7 and John 19:34 say Jesus was “pierced.” The picture of Christ as a lamb is also prominent in both books. Finally, Rev 1:1-2, “…John, who bore record of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw”, could be read as saying that the author of this book previously wrote the gospel as well. [5]

So if Revelation 22:18 applies to any and all additional scripture after the Book of Revelation was written then the Apostle John is just as condemned by it as Joseph Smith is.

The Stronger Arguments:
There are actually not one, but two stronger Biblical arguments that can be made for rejecting Joseph Smith’s prophetic claims as well as his alleged new scripture.

First Suggested Strong Argument:
Limit the scope of your argument to the Book of Revelation pointing out that in the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible (JST) Joseph Smith both took away from and added to the Book of Revelation thus blatantly and willfully violating Revelation 22:18.

Remarkably, the LdS Church not only doesn’t deny this fact, it 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” [6]

Appendix A contains a list of the changes that Joseph Smith made to the Book of Revelation in the Joseph Smith Translation.

Second Suggested Strong Argument:
Use other Bible passages instead of Revelation 22:18 and reframe the argument. Mormon Researcher Bill McKeever explains:

…the Bible contains other warnings regarding those who would attempt to put words in God’s mouth. These include Deuteronomy 4:2; “Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.” And Proverbs 30:6 states “Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.”

If both passages were strictly speaking to the problem of adding scripture to the canon, it could be argued that nothing should have been written (or accepted) after Moses penned Deuteronomy since it contains the first of such admonitions. In both cases these passages address the temptation for anyone to presumptuously speak for God. God does not take lightly those who would pretend to speak for Him when they were not authorized to do so. In fact, to be found guilty of speaking for God when God did not speak warranted the death penalty according to Deuteronomy 18:20, “But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die.

The real issue lies in whether or not Joseph Smith was really acting as a mouthpiece for the Almighty. Did he truly reflect the mind and will of God by his teachings? Or did he inject his own views into what is today referred to as the “restored gospel”? Since it is obvious that his teachings conflict in many respects with those of the Bible, we must choose the latter.
- Bill McKeever, “Does Revelation 22:18 Condemn the Book of Mormon?”

Another Bible passage that I use in this regard is Deuteronomy 13:1-4 – which I like to cite from the Joseph Smith Translation because: a) It’s identical to the King James Version, and; b) using the Joseph Smith Translation eliminates getting the “it’s not translated correctly” objection from Mormons:

If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder,

And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them;

Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams; for the Lord your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.

Ye shall walk after the Lord your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him.
- Deuteronomy 13:1-4 (JST)

And not only did Joseph Smith say, “Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them” he actually boasted about it while doing so:

I will prove that the world is wrong, by showing what God is…God himself was once as we are now and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens! That is the great secret…I am going to tell you how God came to be God. We have imagined and supposed that God was God from all eternity. I will refute that idea, and take away the veil, so that you may see.
- Joseph Smith, “The King Follett Sermon”[7]

I hope that the reader can see that these are much stronger arguments against Joseph Smith’s claim that he was a true prophet of God.  And if you’ve been using the weak argument that has been presented here you’ll consider using these instead.

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

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

NOTES
[1] This system of arranging literature was called “Stichometry”.

[2] “Why are the books of the Bible in the order they are in? Are they listed chronologically?” Grace to You website, author uncredited

[3] J. W. McGarvey, “A Guide to Bible Study”  Appendix 8: Chronological Order of the Books of the New Testament

[4] Carl W. Bogue, Jr., Th.D., “The Dating of the Book of Revelation”, a full treatise of this subject can found in Ken Gentry’s classic work, “Before Jerusalem Fell: Dating the Book of Revelation”.

[5] Craig Davis, “Dating the New Testament”, The Gospel of John, the Letters of 1, 2 and 3 John, and Revelation. Note: While Mr. Davis presumes that the Gospel of John was written prior to the Book of Revelation, this isn’t entirely clear from the text of either book.  However, what is clear from the internal evidence is that John’s epistles were written last – after both John’s gospel and the Book of Revelation.

[6] Bruce R. McConkie, “Understanding the Book of Revelation”, Ensign, September 1975. 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.  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.

[7] Joseph Smith, “The King Follett Sermon”, Ensign, April 1971; also see “Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith”, p.345

Appendix A: Changes that Joseph Smith made to the Book of Revelation in the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible (JST)
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. 

JST
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 overthe 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 frombefore 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.

KJV
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:

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

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.

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;

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,

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

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.

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.

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

JST
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.

KJV
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.

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

KJV
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

JST
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.

KJV
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.

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

JST
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.

KJV
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.

JST
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.

KJV
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:

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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

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.

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

JST
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.

KJV
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.

JST
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.

KJV
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 in 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.

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 sanctifythe 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.

TOP OF PAGE

Photo Credit: Shutterstock/braedostokby Fred W. Anson
Introduction
The LdS Church has a dirty little secret:  The Book of Mormon not only doesn’t teach current Mormon doctrine, it discredits much of it.    

THE NATURE OF GOD
- God the Father was once a man, on another world (Kolob), and progressed to godhood by following perfectly the commands and precepts of his Father God.

The Book of Mormon says that God is eternal and unchanging
Moroni 8:18
For I know that God is not a partial God, neither a changeable being; but he is unchangeable from all eternity to all eternity.

2 Nephi 27:23
For behold, I am god; and I am a God of miracles; and I will show unto the world that I am the same yesterday, today, and forever; and I work not among the children of men save it be according to their faith.

2 Nephi 29:9
And I do this that I may prove unto many that I am the same yesterday, today, and forever; and that I speak forth my words according to mine own pleasure. And because that I have spoken one word ye need not suppose that I cannot speak another; for my work is not yet finished; neither shall it be until the end of man, neither from that time henceforth and forever.

Mormon 9:9
For do we not read that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and in him there is no variableness neither shadow of changing?

Mormon 9:19
And if there were miracles wrought then, why has God ceased to be a God of miracles and yet be an unchanging Being? And behold, I say unto you he changeth not; if so he would cease to be God; and he ceaseth not to be God, and is a God of miracles.”

Moroni 7:22
For behold, God knowing all things, being from everlasting to everlasting, behold, he sent angels to minister unto the children of men, to make manifest concerning the coming of Christ; and in Christ there should come every good thing.

The Lectures on Faith, which was a canonized part of D&C from 1835-1921 agreed with the Book of Mormon that God is a spirit (from the fifth Lecture on Faith, page 53.)  Click on image to zoom and read.

The Lectures on Faith, which was a canonized part of Doctrine & Covenants from 1835-1921, agreed with the Book of Mormon that God is a spirit (from the fifth Lecture on Faith, page 53.) Click on image to zoom and read.

- God the Father is a person with a body of flesh and bones.

The Book of Mormon states that God is a Spirit.
Alma 18:26-29
26 And then Ammon said: Believest thou that there is a Great Spirit?

27 And he said, Yea.

28 And Ammon said: This is God. And Ammon said unto him again: Believest thou that this Great Spirit, who is God, created all things which are in heaven and in the earth?

29 And he said: Yea, I believe that he created all things which are in the earth; but I do not know the heavens.

Alma 22:8-11
8 And now when Aaron heard this, his heart began to rejoice, and he said: Behold, assuredly as thou livest, O king, there is a God.

9 And the king said: Is God that Great Spirit that brought our fathers out of the land of Jerusalem?

10 And Aaron said unto him: Yea, he is that Great Spirit, and he created all things both in heaven and in earth. Believest thou this?

11 And he said: Yea, I believe that the Great Spirit created all things, and I desire that ye should tell me concerning all these things, and I will believe thy words.

- The Father, Son and Holy Ghost are separate gods, “one in purpose” only but not one in being.

The original 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon states that God the Father and Jesus Christ are the same person:
(note: click here for a photo facsimile copy of the 1830 Book of Mormon)[1]

A first edition 1830 Book of Mormon open to 1 Nephi

A first edition 1830 Book of Mormon open to 1 Nephi

1 Nephi 11:18
“the virgin whom thou seest, is the mother of God

1 Nephi 11:21
“Behold the Lamb of God, yea, even the Eternal Father!”

1 Nephi 11:32
the Lamb of God, that he was taken by the people, yea, the Everlasting God was judged of the world.

1 Nephi 13:40
“that the Lamb of God is the Eternal Father and the Savior of the world.

Current edition of the Book of Mormon says the same thing in other verses:
Mosiah 15:1-4
1 And now Abinadi said unto them: I would that ye should understand that God himself shall come down among the children of men, and shall redeem his people.

2 And because he dwelleth in flesh he shall be called the Son of God, and having subjected the flesh to the will of the Father, being the Father and the Son

3 The Father, because he was conceived by the power of God; and the Son, because of the flesh; thus becoming the Father and Son—

4 And they are one God, yea, the very Eternal Father of heaven and of earth.

Mosiah 16:15
Teach them that redemption cometh through Christ the Lord, who is the very Eternal Father. Amen.

2 Nephi 10:2-7
2 For behold, the promises which we have obtained are promises unto us according to the flesh; wherefore, as it has been shown unto me that many of our children shall perish in the flesh because of unbelief, nevertheless, God will be merciful unto many; and our children shall be restored, that they may come to that which will give them the true knowledge of their Redeemer.

3 Wherefore, as I said unto you, it must needs be expedient that Christ—for in the last night the angel spake unto me that this should be his name—should come among the Jews, among those who are the more wicked part of the world; and they shall crucify him—for thus it behooveth our God, and there is none other nation on earth that would crucify their God.

4 For should the mighty miracles be wrought among other nations they would repent, and know that he be their God.

5 But because of priestcrafts and iniquities, they at Jerusalem will stiffen their necks against him, that he be crucified.

6 Wherefore, because of their iniquities, destructions, famines, pestilences, and bloodshed shall come upon them; and they who shall not be destroyed shall be scattered among all nations.

7 But behold, thus saith the Lord God: When the day cometh that they shall believe in me, that I am Christ, then have I covenanted with their fathers that they shall be restored in the flesh, upon the earth, unto the lands of their inheritance.

God the Father and Jesus Christ, by Mormon Artist Del Parson.  This is NOT what the Book of the Mormon teaches about God's nature.

God the Father and Jesus Christ, by Mormon Artist Del Parson. This is not what the Book of the Mormon teaches about God’s nature.

2 Nephi 26:12
And as I spake concerning the convincing of the Jews, that Jesus is the very Christ, it must needs be that the Gentiles be convinced also that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God.

Alma 11:38-40, 44
38 Now Zeezrom saith again unto him: Is the Son of God the very Eternal Father?

39 And Amulek said unto him: Yea, he is the very Eternal Father of heaven and of earth, and all things which in them are; he is the beginning and the end, the first and the last;

40 And he shall come into the world to redeem his people; and he shall take upon him the transgressions of those who believe on his name; and these are they that shall have eternal life, and salvation cometh to none else.

44 Now, this restoration shall come to all, both old and young, both bond and free, both male and female, both the wicked and the righteous; and even there shall not so much as a hair of their heads be lost; but every thing shall be restored to its perfect frame, as it is now, or in the body, and shall be brought and be arraigned before the bar of Christ the Son, and God the Father, and the Holy Spirit, which is one Eternal God, to be judged according to their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil.

Ether 3:14
Behold, I am he who was prepared from the foundation of the world to redeem my people. Behold, I am Jesus Christ. I am the Father and the Son. In me shall all mankind have life, and that eternally, even they who shall believe on my name; and they shall become my sons and my daughters.

Mosiah 3:5
For behold, the time cometh, and is not far distant, that with power, the Lord Omnipotent who reigneth, who was, and is from all eternity to all eternity, shall come down from heaven among the children of men, and shall dwell in a tabernacle of clay, and shall go forth amongst men, working mighty miracles, such as healing the sick, raising the dead, causing the lame to walk, the blind to receive their sight, and the deaf to hear, and curing all manner of diseases.

Mosiah 5:15
Therefore, I would that ye should be steadfast and immovable, always abounding in good works, that Christ, the Lord God Omnipotent , may seal you his, that you may be brought to heaven, that ye may have everlasting salvation and eternal life, through the wisdom, and power, and justice, and mercy of him who created all things, in heaven and in earth, who is God above all . Amen.

Mosiah 13:34
Have they not said that God himself should come down among the children of men, and take upon him the form of man, and go forth in mighty power upon the face of the earth?

- There are a plurality of gods but we only worship the God of this world, God the Father (aka “Heavenly Father”)

The Book of Mormon states plainly that there is only one God…
Alma 11:26-39, 44
26 And Zeezrom said unto him: Thou sayest there is a true and living God?

Zeezrom asking Amulek and Alma questions (Alma 11) 

Amulek and Alma answering Zeezrom’s questions (illustration from “Book of Mormon Stories” LdS Church primary manual)

27 And Amulek said: Yea, there is a true and living God.

28 Now Zeezrom said: Is there more than one God?

29 And he answered, No.

30 Now Zeezrom said unto him again: How knowest thou these things?

31 And he said: An angel hath made them known unto me.

32 And Zeezrom said again: Who is he that shall come? Is it the Son of God?

33 And he said unto him, Yea.

34 And Zeezrom said again: Shall he save his people in their sins? And Amulek answered and said unto him: I say unto you he shall not, for it is impossible for him to deny his word.

35 Now Zeezrom said unto the people: See that ye remember these things; for he said there is but one God; yet he saith that the Son of God shall come, but he shall not save his people—as though he had authority to command God.

36 Now Amulek saith again unto him: Behold thou hast lied, for thou sayest that I spake as though I had authority to command God because I said he shall not save his people in their sins.

37 And I say unto you again that he cannot save them in their sins; for I cannot deny his word, and he hath said that no unclean thing can inherit the kingdom of heaven; therefore, how can ye be saved, except ye inherit the kingdom of heaven? Therefore, ye cannot be saved in your sins.

38 Now Zeezrom saith again unto him: Is the Son of God the very Eternal Father?

39 And Amulek said unto him: Yea, he is the very Eternal Father of heaven and of earth, and all things which in them are; he is the beginning and the end, the first and the last;

44 Now, this restoration shall come to all, both old and young, both bond and free, both male and female, both the wicked and the righteous; and even there shall not so much as a hair of their heads be lost; but every thing shall be restored to its perfect frame, as it is now, or in the body, and shall be brought and be arraigned before the bar of Christ the Son, and God the Father, and the Holy Spirit, which is one Eternal God, to be judged according to their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil.

An accurate depiction of Trinitarianism

An accurate depiction of Trinitarianism

…and it states plainly that One God consists of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit – that is, the Book of Mormon teaches the doctrine of the Trinity (albeit with a strong modalistic skew). 

Mormon 7:7
And he hath brought to pass the redemption of the world, whereby he that is found guiltless before him at the judgment day hath it given unto him to dwell in the presence of God in his kingdom, to sing ceaseless praises with the choirs above, unto the Father, and unto the Son, and unto the Holy Ghost, which are one God, in a state of happiness which hath no end.

2 Nephi 31:21
And now, behold, my beloved brethren, this is the way; and there is none other way nor name given under heaven whereby man can be saved in the kingdom of God. And now, behold, this is the doctrine of Christ, and the only and true doctrine of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, which is one God, without end. Amen.

3 Nephi 11:27
And after this manner shall ye baptize in my name; for behold, verily I say unto you, that the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost are one; and I am in the Father, and the Father in me, and the Father and I are one.

2 Nephi 2:14
And now, my sons, I speak unto you these things for your profit and learning; for there is a God [notice: singular not plural], and he hath created all things, both the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are, both things to act and things to be acted upon.

Jacob 4:9
For behold, by the power of his word man came upon the face of the earth, which earth was created by the power of his word. Wherefore, if God [again, notice: singular not plural] being able to speak and the world was, and to speak and man was created, O then, why not able to command the earth, or the workmanship of his hands upon the face of it, according to his will and pleasure?

The "three witnesses" to the Book of Mormon: Oliver Cowdrey, David Whitmer, and Martin Harris

The “three witnesses” to the Book of Mormon: Oliver Cowdrey, David Whitmer, and Martin Harris

Testimony of Three Witnesses
Be it known unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, unto whom this work shall come: That we, through the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, have seen the plates which contain this record, which is a record of the people of Nephi, and also of the Lamanites, their brethren, and also of the people of Jared, who came from the tower of which hath been spoken. And we also know that they have been translated by the gift and power of God, for his voice hath declared it unto us; wherefore we know of a surety that the work is true. And we also testify that we have seen the engravings which are upon the plates; and they have been shown unto us by the power of God, and not of man. And we declare with words of soberness, that an angel of God came down from heaven, and he brought and laid before our eyes, that we beheld and saw the plates, and the engravings thereon; and we know that it is by the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, that we beheld and bear record that these things are true. And it is marvelous in our eyes. Nevertheless, the voice of the Lord commanded us that we should bear record of it; wherefore, to be obedient unto the commandments of God, we bear testimony of these things. And we know that if we are faithful in Christ, we shall rid our garments of the blood of all men, and be found spotless before the judgment-seat of Christ, and shall dwell with him eternally in the heavens. And the honor be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, which is one God. Amen.

OLIVER COWDERY
DAVID WHITMER
MARTIN HARRIS

THE CHURCH
- Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ physically appeared to Joseph Smith (aka “The First Vision”).

The First Vision is conspicuous in it’s absence in the Book of Mormon. Further, key points of the First Vision are discredited by the Book of Mormon:
First, the Book of Mormon teaches that God the Father (aka “Heavenly Father”) and Jesus Christ are the same person.(see the “The Father, Son and Holy Ghost are separate gods, ‘one in purpose’ only but not one in being” section above)

Further the Book of Mormon teaches that God the Father is a spirit not a physical being.
(see the “God the Father is a person with a body of flesh and bones” section above)

THE CREATION
- God the Father, Jesus Christ, Joseph Smith and other sons of the Father did not create the universe and earth out of nothing, but “organized” them from eternally existing matter that pre-existed God the Father.

The Book of Mormon states that God created via nothing but His word – that is, “ex-nihilo” (out of nothing).
Jacob 4:8-9
8 Behold, great and marvelous are the works of the Lord. How unsearchable are the depths of the mysteries of him; and it is impossible that man should find out all his ways. And no man knoweth of his ways save it be revealed unto him; wherefore, brethren, despise not the revelations of God.

9 For behold, by the power of his word man came upon the face of the earth, which earth was created by the power of his word. Wherefore, if God being able to speak and the world was, and to speak and man was created, O then, why not able to command the earth, or the workmanship of his hands upon the face of it, according to his will and pleasure?

MEN CAN BECOME GODS (aka “Exaltation”)
- The LdS Church teaches that the most faithful and worthy Mormons can progress to godhood in the highest degree of the Celestial Kingdom, where they can obtain their own world and with their wife (or wives) procreate spirit children for eternity.

This is known as “Celestial Exaltation”. And LdS Scripture (in Doctrine & Covenants 132) states that the “new and everlasting covenant” of polygamy is necessary for this exaltation to godhood.

"Achieving a Celestial Marriage" LdS Church manual (1992)

“Achieving a Celestial Marriage” LdS Church manual (1992)

Polygamy is condemned in the Book of Mormon:

Jacob 1:15
And now it came to pass that the people of Nephi, under the reign of the second king, began to grow hard in their hearts, and indulge themselves somewhat in wicked practices, such as like unto David of old desiring many wives and concubines, and also Solomon, his son.

Jacob 2:24
Behold, David and Solomon truly had many wives and concubines, which thing was abominable before me, saith the Lord

Jacob 3:5
Behold, the Lamanites your brethren, whom ye hate because of their filthiness and the cursing which hath come upon their skins, are more righteous than you; for they have not forgotten the commandment of the Lord, which was given unto our father—that they should have save it were one wife, and concubines they should have none, and there should not be whoredoms committed among them.

Mosiah 11:2
For behold, he did not keep the commandments of God, but he did walk after the desires of his own heart. and he had many wives and concubines. And he did cause his people to commit sin, and do that which was abominable in the sight of the Lord. Yea, and they did commit whoredoms and all manner of wickedness.

Ether 10:5
And it came to pass that Riplakish did not do that which was right in the sight of the Lord, for he did have many wives and concubines, and did lay that upon men’s shoulders which was grievous to be borne; yea, he did tax them with heavy taxes; and with the taxes he did build many spacious buildings.

HEAVEN AND HELL
- There are three degrees (or “levels” in plain English) in heaven consisting of:
1. Telestial Kingdom- lowest degree
2. Terrestrial Kingdom – middle degree
3. Celestial Kingdom – highest degree, of which there are also three degrees

The Book of Mormon states that there is only heaven and hell.
1 Nephi 15:35
And there is a place prepared, yea, even that awful hell of which I have spoken, and the devil is the foundation of it; wherefore the final state of the souls of men is to dwell in the kingdom of God, or to be cast out because of that justice of which I have spoken.

- Every human being will find a place in one of the three degrees of glory (or “heaven” in plain English).

This doctrine is a form of universalism which The Book of Mormon denounces as a “false doctrine”.
The first chapter of the book of Alma describes a Universalist preacher named Nehor who is condemned for teaching “priestcraft” – including universalism:

A large, strong man named Nehor went about teaching lies. He said that everyone would be saved, whether they were good or bad. Alma 1:2–6 (Liahona magazine August 1992)

“A large, strong man named Nehor went about teaching lies. He said that everyone would be saved, whether they were good or bad.”
(Liahona magazine August 1992)

Alma 1:4, 12-16
4 And he [Nehor] also testified unto the people that all mankind should be saved at the last day, and that they might lift up their heads and rejoice; for the Lord had created all men, and had also redeemed all men; and, in the end, all men should have eternal life.

12 But Alma said unto him; Behold, this is he first time that priestcraft has been introduced among this people. And behold, thou art not only guilty of priestcraft, but hast endeavored to enforce it by the sword; and were priestcraft to be enforced among this people it would prove their entire destruction.

13 And thou has shed the blood of a righteous man; yea, a man who has done much good among the people; and were we to spare thee his blood would come upon us for vengeance.

14 Therefore thou are condemned to die, according to the law which has been given us by Mosiah, our last king; and it has been acknowledged by this people; therefore this people must abide by the law.

15 And it came to pass that they took him; and his name was Nehor; and they carried him upon the top of the hill Manti, and there he was caused, or rather did acknowledge, between the heavens and the earth, that what he had taught to the people was contrary to the world of God; and there he suffered and ignominious death.

16 Nevertheless, this did not put an end to the spreading of priestcraft through the land; for there were many who loved the vain things of the world, and they went forth preaching false doctrines; and this they did for the sake of riches and honor.

- The only people not in one of the three degrees of glory will be the Devil and his angels as well as those Mormons who have held the priesthood and become apostate. The latter are referred to as “the sons of perdition” in Mormon doctrine.

The Book of Mormon is clear that far more people will be sent to hell other than just the Devil, his angels and “the sons of perdition”:
1 Nephi 14:3
And that great pit, which hath been digged for them by that great and abominable church, which was founded by the devil and his children, that he might lead away the souls of men down to hell — yea, that great pit which hath been digged for the destruction of men shall be filled by those who digged it, unto their utter destruction, saith the Lamb of God; not the destruction of the soul, save it be the casting of it into that hell which hath no end.

1 Nephi 15:29,35
29 And I said unto them that it was a representation of that awful hell, which the angel said unto me was prepared for the wicked.

35 And there is a place prepared, yea, even that awful hell of which I have spoken, and the devil is the preparator of it; wherefore the final state of the souls of men is to dwell in the kingdom of God, or to be cast out because of that justice of which I have spoken.

"Spooky  Mormon Hell Dream" from "The Book of Mormon The Musical"

“Spooky Mormon Hell Dream” from “The Book of Mormon The Musical”

2 Nephi 9:12,19
12 And this death of which I have spoken, which is the spiritual death, shall deliver up its dead; which spiritual death is hell; wherefore, death and hell must deliver up their dead, and hell must deliver up its captive spirits, and the grave must deliver up its captive bodies, and the bodies and the spirits of men will be restored one to the other; and it is by the power of the resurrection of the Holy One of Israel.

19 O the greatness of the mercy of our God, the Holy One of Israel! For he delivereth his saints from that awful monster the devil, and death, and hell, and that lake of fire and brimstone, which is endless torment.

2 Nephi 28:19-23
19 For the kingdom of the devil must shake, and they which belong to it must needs be stirred up unto repentance, or the devil will grasp them with his everlasting chains, and they be stirred up to anger, and perish;

20 For behold, at that day shall he rage in the hearts of the children of men, and stir them up to anger against that which is good.

21 And others will he pacify, and lull them away into carnal security, that they will say: All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is well — and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell.

22 And behold, others he [the devil] flattereth away, and telleth them there is no hell; and he saith unto them: I am no devil, for there is none — and thus he whispereth in their ears, until he grasps them with his awful chains, from whence there is no deliverance.

23 Yea, they are grasped with death, and hell; and death, and hell, and the devil, and all that have been seized therewith must stand before the throne of God, and be judged according to their works, from whence they must go into the place prepared for them, even a lake of fire and brimstone, which is endless torment.

Alma 5:6-10
6 And now behold, I say unto you, my brethren, you that belong to this church, have you sufficiently retained in remembrance the captivity of your fathers? Yea, and have you sufficiently retained in remembrance his mercy and long-suffering towards them? And moreover, have ye sufficiently retained in remembrance that he has delivered their souls from hell?

7 Behold, he changed their hearts; yea, he awakened them out of a deep sleep, and they awoke unto God. Behold, they were in the midst of darkness; nevertheless, their souls were illuminated by the light of the everlasting word; yea, they were encircled about by the bands of death, and the chains of hell, and an everlasting destruction did await them.

8 And now I ask of you, my brethren, were they destroyed? Behold, I say unto you, Nay, they were not.

9 And again I ask, were the bands of death broken, and the chains of hell which encircled them about, were they loosed? I say unto you, Yea, they were loosed, and their souls did expand, and they did sing redeeming love. And I say unto you that they are saved.

10 And now I ask of you on what conditions are they saved? Yea, what grounds had they to hope for salvation? What is the cause of their being loosed from the bands of death, yea, and also the chains of hell?

19th Century Anti-Mormons had their own ideas about where Mormon hell was and who resided there.

19th Century Anti-Mormons had their own ideas about where Mormon hell was and who resided there.

Helaman 6:28
And also it is that same being who put it into the hearts of the people to build a tower sufficiently high that they might get to heaven. And it was that same being who led on the people who came from that tower into this land; who spread the works of darkness and abominations over all the face of the land, until he dragged the people down to an entire destruction, and to an everlasting hell.

Moroni 8:13
Wherefore, if little children could not be saved without baptism, these must have gone to an endless hell.

Mosiah 2:36-39
36 And now, I say unto you, my brethren, that after ye have known and have been taught all these things, if ye should transgress and go contrary to that which has been spoken, that ye do withdraw yourselves from the Spirit of the Lord, that it may have no place in you to guide you in wisdom’s paths that ye may be blessed, prospered, and preserved—

37 I say unto you, that the man that doeth this, the same cometh out in open rebellion against God; therefore he listeth to obey the evil spirit, and becometh an enemy to all righteousness; therefore, the Lord has no place in him, for he dwelleth not in unholy temples.

38 Therefore if that man repenteth not, and remaineth and dieth an enemy to God, the demands of divine justice do awaken his immortal soul to a lively sense of his own guilt, which doth cause him to shrink from the presence of the Lord, and doth fill his breast with guilt, and pain, and anguish, which is like an unquenchable fire, whose flame ascendeth up forever and ever.

39 And now I say unto you, that mercy hath no claim on that man; therefore his final doom is to endure a never-ending torment.

Mosiah 16:11
If they be good, to the resurrection of endless life and happiness; and if they be evil, to the resurrection of endless damnation, being delivered up to the devil, who hath subjected them, which is damnation

Alma 34:32-35
32 For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors.

33 And now, as I said unto you before, as ye have had so many witnesses, therefore, I beseech of you that ye do not procrastinate the day of your repentance until the end; for after this day of life, which is given us to prepare for eternity, behold, if we do not improve our time while in this life, then cometh the night of darkness wherein there can be no labor performed.

34 Ye cannot say, when ye are brought to that awful crisis, that I will repent, that I will return to my God. Nay, ye cannot say this; for that same spirit which doth possess your bodies at the time that ye go out of this life, that same spirit will have power to possess your body in that eternal world.

35 For behold, if ye have procrastinated the day of your repentance even until death, behold, ye have become subjected to the spirit of the devil, and he doth seal you his; therefore, the Spirit of the Lord hath withdrawn from you, and hath no place in you, and the devil hath all power over you; and this is the final state of the wicked.

LDS_Temple- Temples and temple ordinances pertaining to endowments are necessary in order to pass through the veil and enter the presence of God the Father, and consist of Temple Marriage, new names, secret key words and handshakes that will be used as an identification of the person in the next life.

The Book of Mormon repeatedly condemns the type of secret oaths and combinations that are found in the Latter-day Saint Temple Endowment ceremony in the strongest terms.
Specifically, it states that it is Satan who puts it into the hearts of the people to form secret oaths and covenants.  It also states that secret combinations aren’t the work of God, are forbidden, are a form of evil, are destructive, and lead to God’s judgment.

Ether 8:18-24
18 And it came to pass that they formed a secret combination, even as they of old; which combination is most abominable and wicked above all, in the sight of God;

19 For the Lord worketh not in secret combinations, neither doth he will that man should shed blood, but in all things hath forbidden it, from the beginning of man.

20 And now I, Moroni, do not write the manner of their oaths and combinations, for it hath been made known unto me that they are had among all people, and they are had among the Lamanites.

21 And they have caused the destruction of this people of whom I am now speaking, and also the destruction of the people of Nephi.

22 And whatsoever nation shall uphold such secret combinations, to get power and gain, until they shall spread over the nation, behold, they shall be destroyed; for the Lord will not suffer that the blood of his saints, which shall be shed by them, shall always cry unto him from the ground for vengeance upon them and yet he avenge them not.

23 Wherefore, O ye Gentiles, it is wisdom in God that these things should be shown unto you, that thereby ye may repent of your sins, and suffer not that these murderous combinations shall get above you, which are built up to get power and gain—and the work, yea, even the work of destruction come upon you, yea, even the sword of the justice of the Eternal God shall fall upon you, to your overthrow and destruction if ye shall suffer these things to be.

24 Wherefore, the Lord commandeth you, when ye shall see these things come among you that ye shall awake to a sense of your awful situation, because of this secret combination which shall be among you; or wo be unto it, because of the blood of them who have been slain; for they cry from the dust for vengeance upon it, and also upon those who built it up.

A handshake engraved onto the SLC Temple – symbolic of the “secret combinations” used in the LdS Temple Endowment Ceremony.

Helaman 6:21–31
21 But behold, Satan did stir up the hearts of the more part of the Nephites, insomuch that they did unite with those bands of robbers, and did enter into their covenants and their oaths, that they would protect and preserve one another in whatsoever difficult circumstances they should be placed, that they should not suffer for their murders, and their plunderings, and their stealings.

22 And it came to pass that they did have their signs, yea, their secret signs, and their secret words; and this that they might distinguish a brother who had entered into the covenant, that whatsoever wickedness his brother should do he should not be injured by his brother, nor by those who did belong to his band, who had taken this covenant.

23 And thus they might murder, and plunder, and steal, and commit whoredoms and all manner of wickedness, contrary to the laws of their country and also the laws of their God.

24 And whosoever of those who belonged to their band should reveal unto the world of their wickedness and their abominations, should be tried, not according to the laws of their country, but according to the laws of their wickedness, which had been given by Gadianton and Kishkumen.

25 Now behold, it is these secret oaths and covenants which Alma commanded his son should not go forth unto the world, lest they should be a means of bringing down the people unto destruction.

26 Now behold, those secret oaths and covenants did not come forth unto Gadianton from the records which were delivered unto Helaman; but behold, they were put into the heart of Gadianton by that same being who did entice our first parents to partake of the forbidden fruit—

27 Yea, that same being who did plot with Cain, that if he would murder his brother Abel it should not be known unto the world. And he did plot with Cain and his followers from that time forth.

28 And also it is that same being who put it into the hearts of the people to build a tower sufficiently high that they might get to heaven. And it was that same being who led on the people who came from that tower into this land; who spread the works of darkness and abominations over all the face of the land, until he dragged the people down to an entire destruction, and to an everlasting hell.

29 Yea, it is that same being who put it into the heart of Gadianton to still carry on the work of darkness, and of secret murder; and he has brought it forth from the beginning of man even down to this time.

30 And behold, it is he who is the author of all sin. And behold, he doth carry on his works of darkness and secret murder, and doth hand down their plots, and their oaths, and their covenants, and their plans of awful wickedness, from generation to generation according as he can get hold upon the hearts of the children of men.

2 Nephi 9:8-9
8 O the wisdom of God, his mercy and grace! For behold, if the flesh should rise no more our spirits must become subject to that angel who fell from before the presence of the Eternal God, and became the devil, to rise no more.

9 And our spirits must have become like unto him, and we become devils, angels to a devil, to be shut out from the presence of our God, and to remain with the father of lies, in misery, like unto himself; yea, to that being who beguiled our first parents, who transformeth himself nigh unto an angel of light, and stirreth up the children of men unto secret combinations of murder and all manner of secret works of darkness.

Alma 37:29-31
29 Therefore ye shall keep these secret plans of their oaths and their covenants from this people, and only their wickedness and their murders and their abominations shall ye make known unto them; and ye shall teach them to abhor such wickedness and abominations and murders; and ye shall also teach them that these people were destroyed on account of their wickedness and abominations and their murders.

30 For behold, they murdered all the prophets of the Lord who came among them to declare unto them concerning their iniquities; and the blood of those whom they murdered did cry unto the Lord their God for vengeance upon those who were their murderers; and thus the judgments of God did come upon these workers of darkness and secret combinations.

31 Yea, and cursed be the land forever and ever unto those workers of darkness and secret combinations, even unto destruction, except they repent before they are fully ripe.

Salt_Lake_temple_baptismal_font

Baptismal font in the Salt Lake Temple, circa 1912, where baptisms for the dead are performed by proxy. The font rests on the backs of twelve oxen representing the Twelve Tribes of Israel.

- Baptisms for the dead must be performed by proxy in this life for those who did not accept the gospel in this life, so that their sins can be forgiven and they can enter the Celestial Kingdom after they accept the Mormon gospel message in the next life.

The Book of Mormon not only denies that there is a second chance to repent and receive the gospel in the next life…
2 Nephi 9:38
And, in fine, wo unto all those who die in their sins; for they shall return to God, and behold his face, and remain in their sins.

Mosiah 16:5
But remember that he that persists in his own carnal nature, and goes on in the ways of sin and rebellion against God, remaineth in his fallen state and the devil hath all power over him. Therefor he is as thoughthere was no redemption made, being an enemy to God; and also is the devil an enemy to God.

Mosiah 27:31
Yea, every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess before him. Yea, even at the last day, when all men shall stand to be judged of him, then shall they confess that he is God; then shall they confess, who live without God in the world, that the judgment of an everlasting punishment is just upon them; and they shall quake, and tremble, and shrink beneath the glance of his all-searching eye.

Alma 34:31-35
31 Yea, I would that ye would come forth and harden not your hears any longer; for behold, now is the time and the day of your salvation; and therefore, if ye will repent and harden not your hearts, immediately shall the great plan of redemption be brought about unto you.

32 For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors.

33 And now, as I said unto you before, as ye have had so many witnesses, therefore, I beseech of you that ye do not procrastinate the day of your repentance until the end; for after this day of life, which is given to us to prepare for eternity, behold, if we do not improve our time while in this life, then cometh the night of darkness wherein there can be no labor performed.

34 Ye cannot say, when ye are brought to that awful crisis, that I will repent, that I will return to my God. Nay, ye cannot say this; for that same spirit which doth possess your bodies at the time that ye go out of this life, that same spirit will have power to possess your body in that eternal world.

35 For behold, if ye have procrastinated the day of your repentance even until death, behold, ye have become subjected to the spirit of the devil, and he doth seal you his; therefore, the Spirit of the Lord hath withdrawn from you, and hath no place in you, and the devil hath all power over you; and this is the final state of the wicked.

Pat Bagley, Salt Lake Tribune 5/19/2008

Pat Bagley, Salt Lake Tribune 5/19/2008

Alma 41:4-8
4 And if their works are evil they shall be restored unto them for evil. Therefore, all things shall be restored to their proper order, every thing to its natural frame—mortality raised to immortality, corruption to incorruption—raised to endless happiness to inherit the kingdom of God, or to endless misery to inherit the kingdom of the devil, the one on one hand, the other on the other—

5 The one raised to happiness according to his desires of happiness, or good according to his desires of good; and the other to evil according to his desires of evil; for as he has desired to do evil all the day long even so shall he have his reward of evil when the night cometh.

6 And so it is on the other hand. If he hath repented of his sins, and desired righteousness until the end of his days, even so he shall be rewarded unto righteousness.

7 These are they that are redeemed of the Lord; yea, these are they that are taken out, that are delivered from that endless night of darkness; and thus they stand or fall; for behold, they are their own judges, whether to do good or do evil.

8 Now, the decrees of God are unalterable; therefore, the way is prepared that whosoever will may walk therein and be saved.

Alma 42:16
16 Now, repentance could not come unto men except there were a punishment, which also was eternal as the life of the soul should be, affixed opposite to the plan of happiness, which was as eternal also as the life of the soul.

The Book of Mormon calls this a “dead work” and states that baptism is not required for little children to be saved.

… the Book of Mormon also states that baptism isn’t an absolute requirement for salvation:
Moroni 8:22-23
22 For behold that all little children are alive in Christ, and also all they that are without the law. For the power of redemption cometh on all them that have no law; wherefore, he that is not condemned, or he that is under no condemnation, cannot repent; and unto such baptism availeth nothing—

23 But it is mockery before God, denying the mercies of Christ, and the power of his Holy Spirit, and putting trust in dead works.

2 Nephi 9:25-26
25 Wherefore, he has given a law; and where there is no law given there is no punishment; and where there is no punishment there is no condemnation; and where there is no condemnation the mercies of the Holy One of Israel have claim upon them, because of the atonement; for they are delivered by the power of him.

26 For the atonement satisfieth the demands of his justice upon all those who have not the law given to them, that they are delivered from that awful monster, death and hell, and the devil, and the lake of fire and brimstone, which is endless torment; and they are restored to that God who gave them breath, which is the Holy One of Israel.

Mosiah 15:24-27
24 And these are those who have part in the first resurrection; and these are they that have died before Christ came, in their ignorance, not having salvation declared unto them. And thus the Lord bringeth about the restoration of these; and they have a part in the first resurrection, or have eternal life, being redeemed by the Lord.

25 And little children also have eternal life.

26 But behold, and fear, and tremble before God, for ye ought to tremble; for the Lord redeemeth none such that rebel against him and die in their sins; yea, even all those that have perished in their sins ever since the world began, that have wilfully rebelled against God, that have known the commandments of God, and would not keep them; these are they that have no part in the first resurrection.

27 Therefore ought ye not to tremble? For salvation cometh to none such; for the Lord hath redeemed none such; yea, neither can the Lord redeem such; for he cannot deny himself; for he cannot deny justice when it has its claim.

THE NATURE OF MAN
- Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother procreated the spirits of every human being that has lived, is now living or will ever live on this earth.

The Book of Mormon states that man was created by the power of God’s word.
Jacob 4:9
For behold, by the power of his word man came upon the face of the earth, which earth was created by the power of his word. Wherefore, if God being able to speak and the world was, and to speak and man was created, O then, why not able to command the earth, or the workmanship of his hands upon the face of it, according to his will and pleasure?

Michelangelo's Creation of Adam from the Sistine Chapel

Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam from the Sistine Chapel

Alma 18:28, 34-36
28 And Ammon said: This is God. And Ammon said unto him again: Believest thou that this Great Spirit, who is God, created all things which are in heaven and in the earth?

34 Ammon said unto him: I am a man; and man in the beginning was created after the image of God, and I am called by his Holy Spirit to teach these things unto this people, that they may be brought to a knowledge of that which is just and true;

35 And a portion of that Spirit dwelleth in me, which giveth me knowledge, and also power according to my faith and desires which are in God.

36 Now when Ammon had said these words, he began at the creation of the world, and also the creation of Adam, and told him all the things concerning the fall of man, and rehearsed and laid before him the records and the holy scriptures of the people, which had been spoken by the prophets, even down to the time that their father, Lehi, left Jerusalem.

- The spirits procreated by Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother lived with their father on his world as angels in the “pre-existence” before being sent to earth to inhabit human bodies.

The Book of Mormon makes a clear distinction between men and angels.
Further it states that man was created (not procreated) and placed on earth by God as his created dwelling place – just as heaven is the created dwelling place of God and his Angels  (who were also created, not procreated).

Alma 18:28-36
28 And Ammon said: This is God. And Ammon said unto him again: Believest thou that this Great Spirit, who is God, created all things which are in heaven and in the earth?

29 And he said: Yea, I believe that he created all things which are in the earth; but I do not know the heavens.

30 And Ammon said unto him: The heavens is a place where God dwells and all his holy angels.

31 And king Lamoni said: Is it above the earth?

32 And Ammon said: Yea, and he looketh down upon all the children of men; and he knows all the thoughts and intents of the heart; for by his hand were they all created from the beginning.

33 And king Lamoni said: I believe all these things which thou hast spoken. Art thou sent from God?

34 Ammon said unto him: I am a man; and man in the beginning was created after the image of God, and I am called by his Holy Spirit to teach these things unto this people, that they may be brought to a knowledge of that which is just and true;

35 And a portion of that Spirit dwelleth in me, which giveth me knowledge, and also power according to my faith and desires which are in God.

36 Now when Ammon had said these words, he began at the creation of the world, and also the creation of Adam, and told him all the things concerning the fall of man, and rehearsed and laid before him the records and the holy scriptures of the people, which had been spoken by the prophets, even down to the time that their father, Lehi, left Jerusalem.

Jesus tempted in the desert.  According to current Mormon Doctrine these two are brothers.

Jesus tempted in the desert by Lucifer. According to current Mormon Doctrine not only are these two brothers, they’re the siblings of all human beings past and present.

JESUS CHRIST
- Jesus Christ is the brother of Lucifer (Satan), every human being past and present, and the angels.

The Book of Mormon teaches that Jesus is Eternal God. And as God, Christ was neither created or procreated.

3 Nephi 19:18
And behold, they began to pray; and they did pray unto Jesus, calling him their Lord and their God.

(also see “The Father, Son and Holy Ghost are separate gods, ‘one in purpose’ only but not one in being” and “There are a plurality of gods but we only worship the God of this world, God the Father” sections above)

- Jesus Christ made atonement for sins in the Garden of Gethsemane.

The Book of Mormon states that Jesus Christ died on the cross for the sins of the world:
1 Nephi 11:33
And I, Nephi, saw that he was lifted up upon the cross and slain for the sins of the world.

2 Nephi 9:5
Yea, I know that ye know that in the body he shall show himself unto those at Jerusalem, from whence we came; for it is expedient that it should be among them; for it behooveth the great Creatorthat he suffereth himself to become subject unto man in the flesh, and die for all men, that all men might become subject unto him.

3 Nephi 27:13-15
13 Behold I have given unto you my gospel, and this is the gospel which I have given unto you—that I came into the world to do the will of my Father, because my Father sent me.

14 And my Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross; and after that I had been lifted up upon the cross, that I might draw all men unto me, that as I have been lifted up by men even so should men be lifted up by the Father, to stand before me, to be judged of their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil—

15 And for this cause have I been lifted up; therefore, according to the power of the Father I will draw all men unto me, that they may be judged according to their works.

WHAT’S GOING ON HERE?
At this point the reader may be scratching their head wondering how the work that is held up as the “keystone of our religion” by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints not only contains very little of that religion (see the first article in this series) but discredits much of it.  The answer to that question is pretty simple:  The Book of Mormon doesn’t teach modern Mormonism, rather it teaches 19th Century American Restorationism[2]

As Latter-day Saint scholar Thomas G. Alexander explains, “Much of the doctrine that early investigators found in Mormonism was similar to contemporary Protestant churches.”[3] So if you strip away the baggage of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon origin story you’re left with a piece of Christian literature that’s more akin to “Pilgrim’s Progress” or “The Screwtape Letters” than “Dianetics”.  In the end it’s very much as  Shawn McCraney described it when he said, “[We] recognize the Book of Mormon as a piece of 19th century literary fiction aimed at teaching Jesus Christ. We reject the story of its origins.”[4]

"Mormons visit a country carpenter" (1856) by Christen Dalsgaard, depicting a mid-19th century visit of a missionary to a Danish carpenter's workshop. The first missionaries arrived in Denmark in 1850.

“Mormons visit a country carpenter” (1856) by Christen Dalsgaard, depicting a mid-19th century visit of a missionary to a Danish carpenter’s workshop. The first missionaries arrived in Denmark in 1850.

What’s even more surprising is what little weight and influence the Book of Mormon carried in early Mormon culture. As Latter-day Saint scholar Rock Waterman explains:

“As it happens, few early converts to Mormonism bothered to read the Book of Mormon and had little idea of its contents. Most hadn’t been converted through a reading of the book itself, but rather by what they thought the book represented. They saw the coming forth of ancient scripture on gold plates as evidence of God working miracles among men at the dawn of the millennial age. No need to actually read the book; the miracle was the message. Meanwhile, those converts who did read the Book of Mormon tended to scrounge around in it looking for parts that confirmed beliefs they already held. …a surprising amount of what we think is quintessentially “Mormon,” actually turns out to be more Protestant than LDS.”[5]

Mormon Apologist and scholar Daniel C. Peterson agrees and further observes:

“Studies of Latter-day Saint sermons and curriculum from the earliest period of church history well into the 20th century demonstrate surprisingly little use of the Book of Mormon to establish doctrines or as a text from which to preach. Many Saints were converted by reading it, but, thereafter, they tended to overlook its specific content. Early members, mostly converts, knew the Bible well and used it extensively in their teaching and missionary efforts, but the Book of Mormon served mainly as a kind of talisman, its sheer existence pointing to Joseph Smith’s prophetic calling.

Even Joseph Smith used the Bible far more than he used the Book of Mormon in his sermons.”[6]

Mr. Peterson is being generous, in actual fact other than passing references to Book of Mormon figures and stories, Joseph Smith never used it in his sermons.  Rather, then as now, the Book of Mormon was used as a kind of proof of Joseph Smith’s prophetic callings via a lengthy but familiar sounding tract.[7]

For the uninformed the Book of Mormon can be a powerful recruiting tool.[8]  But for the informed that power is quickly lost.

 

NOTES: 
[1] The 0riginal 1830 Book of Mormon was first modified by Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery in 1837 and has undergone regular modifications since (most recently in 2013).  Some changes have been material – resulting in major theological or meaning change – while others haven’t.   

John S. Dinger’s excellent introduction to the book “Significant Textual Changes in the Book of Mormon” provides a good overview of these changes.

Jim Spencer’s “1830 Book of Mormon Comparison Machine” is a valuable resource for doing a side-by-side comparison of the 1830 and modern editions of the Book of Mormon.

[2] The Book of Mormon is rife with 19th Century Campbellite doctrine – see “Campbellite Doctrine in The Book of Mormon”; Also see Daymon Smith, “Volume One: A Cultural History of The Book of Mormon, Setting, a Foundation, of Stones to Stumble Over”

[3] Thomas G. Alexander, “The Reconstruction of Mormon Doctrine: From Joseph Smith to Progressive Theology” Sunstone 5:4 (July-August 1980)

[4] Shawn McCraney, Born Again Mormon: Our Faith, The Book of Mormon (website)

[5] Rock Waterman, “The Book Of Mormon Bait & Switch”; Pure Mormonism blog, October 22, 2013

[6] Dan Peterson, “Embracing the power of the Book of Mormon”; The Deseret News, Thursday, Jan. 5 2012

 [7] The Jacobean English that the Book of Mormon shares with the King James Bible was as far from daily English vernacular then as it is now.  However, then like now, it’s peculiar cadence and vocabulary was considered more “holy” than common English – like some kind of special or sanctified religious dialect if you will.  For those English speakers looking for a religious experience, speaking in “Jacobean tongues” can feel like grandma’s warm comforter wrapped up around “that old time religion” – it feels like home. 

[8]  This is especially true when combined with the polished, HeartSell spin doctored marketing that’s delivered to the investigator through the Mormon Missionary lessons contained in the LdS Church’s “Preach My Gospel” curriculum.

Mormon Researcher Sharon Lindbloom’s article, “Strategic Emotional Advertising”, offers a good primer of how the LdS Church uses HeartSell in recruiting and retaining members.  And while the language is strong (and the editorial comments even stronger) Mormon Expression podcast #250 offers a thorough overview and analysis of how HeartSell works and how it saturates all aspects of Mormon Church culture.

 

Acknowledgements:
The author would like to acknowledge the following internet web pages – which this article was inspired by, based on, and built from: “Current Mormon Doctrines Not Found in the Book of Mormon” and “Contradictions in LDS Scriptures”.

Lead photo credit: Shutterstock/braedostok