Archive for the ‘Mormon Studies’ Category

by Michael Flournoy
In my book, “A Biblical Defense of Mormonism”, I tried to downplay the importance of Joseph Smith. I wrote:

“Joseph Smith’s story is a remarkable one. It’s one which Mormon missionaries never fail to teach their investigators. Furthermore, opponents of the Church never tire of attacking Joseph’s character, and members of the Church usually feel obligated to defend him. I think it’s a waste of time.

If I went to my mother’s house for her famous green bean casserole, I wouldn’t denounce her or her specialty if I found out she used canned, instead of fresh green beans. Similarly, Joseph Smith is just a technical detail of the broader picture. A mortal man who is dead was never our central message; God becoming man and rising from the dead is our central message, along with the fact that His bride, the Church, has been restored to her former glory. We’re talking about a wedding here! Heaven forbid one of the guests should get all the attention!

I’m not trying to minimize Joseph since he played an essential role in the restoration of the gospel. Salt is an essential ingredient in bread too, but many a loaf’s been ruined because too much salt was added.”
(Michael Flournoy, “A Biblical Defense of Mormonism”, p.53)

Looking back, I see a frightened young Mormon who suspected that Joseph was involved in distasteful activities, but suppressed the truth in unrighteousness. I tried to create a choke point by defining what was and what wasn’t important to the debate.

To put things in perspective, Joseph isn’t a guest at the LDS wedding. He’s the best man. In fact, when the bride ran away last time, he’s the one who brought her back. He’s the reason the wedding is even happening. In Mormonism, Christ wasn’t appealing enough to win the bride by Himself, much less keep her from divorcing Him. He required a wingman. And this is the worst kind of wingman there is, because not only are the bride’s eyes on the Groom, they constantly glance back at Joseph. Jesus may have her hand, but Joseph has her heart.

I tried to shield Joseph from attack the same way a chess player tucks away his king. I pointed to other “weasels” in the Biblical narrative. There was Judas Iscariot, who Jesus handpicked as an apostle. There was Jonah who fled from his duty, and Aaron who built a molten calf for Israel to worship. If these men could be called of God despite their evil deeds, then God could use anyone. Arguments against the character of Joseph were irrelevant. In fact, it was preposterous to think someone had to be good to work for God.

Okay, Past Self, hold your horses. While God can use evil men to accomplish his work, that’s a far cry from what the LDS Church teaches about Joseph. He is proclaimed a prophet and must be worthy not only to receive revelation from God but to hold the priesthood keys necessary for governing the Church. The Bible makes it very clear that the works of the flesh are evil, but those who follow the Spirit will exemplify a holier set of traits. It reads:

“But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”
(Galatians 5:18-23 ESV)

Simply stated, it’s erroneous to sweep Joseph’s traits under the rug and only look to The Book of Mormon as his fruit. Jesus said,

Jesus said,

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are   ravenous wolves.  You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?  So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit.  A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit.”
(Matthew 7:15-18 ESV)

Notice what He didn’t say. Christ didn’t say to sweep a prophet’s misdeeds under the rug. He didn’t say to ignore them when they speak heresy because they’re fallible men. And He certainly didn’t say it was wrong to criticize them even if the criticism is true. Rather, we are to call their works into question.

Granted, all believers are still sinners, and even Biblical prophets made mistakes. But if we look at the accusations against Joseph, we see someone who was anything but a saint. He was charged with treason and conspiracy to murder a former governor. He was arrested 42 times. He was charged with banking fraud and destroying a press that criticized him. He sent men on missions and married their wives in their absence. He lied about his polygamy in public and in private to his wife Emma.

Latter-day Saints denounce these claims as anti-Mormon fabrications designed to ruin Joseph’s reputation. However, the sources for this evidence are all Mormon or Mormon friendly – up to and including Joseph Smith himself in “The History of the Church” (see the online edition of  “The History of the Church” archived at BYU)

Since I didn’t argue for the character of Joseph in my pro-LDS book, it’s not my goal to argue against it here. I did argue that the First vision itself was evidence of Joseph’s prophetic calling. I wrote:

But what about 2 Corinthians 11:14 which says Satan is transformed into an angel of light? If the devil is capable of such trickery, how can we be sure Joseph wasn’t visited by Satan disguised as God? Everyone who’s served a mission has probably heard someone argue along these lines. However, the argument is Biblically unsound. In the New Testament when Jesus casts out demons, the Pharisees accuse him of casting out demons through Beelzebub, the prince of the devils. To this Christ replies, “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand: and if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand?’ (Matthew 12:25-26 KJV)

Joseph Smith said when he prayed he was first set upon by a dark force before being delivered by God. Since neither God nor Satan is divided, we are left with only two options: first, that God attacked Joseph, but was abolished by Satan, or second, that Smith’s account is true and he was delivered by God.”
(Michael Flournoy, “A Biblical Defense of Mormonism”, p.57)

This is a classic false dichotomy. This whole argument assumes that Joseph was telling the truth about what happened. It’s a cleverly constructed house that lacks a foundation. The simplest explanation is the First Vision never happened. The whole event was fabricated. Joseph never saw God and was never called to restore Christianity from apostasy. In fact, Jesus promised the gates of hell would not prevail against the church (see Matthew 16:18).

My LDS self believed that the most important fruits to look at were The Book of Mormon and the restored gospel. In this series of articles, I will examine these fruits and show that Joseph brought forth false scripture, a false god, and a false gospel. But the rotten fruit of his life bears witness that Joseph Smith was not a prophet of God. It speaks for itself, despite how any Mormon Apologist or stack of books from Mormon Apologist may try to spin.

Joseph Smith was not only not God’s Prophet, according to the Matthew 7 “Fruit Test” he was clearly a False Prophet.1 And he is one of many reasons that I, once a staunch Mormon Apologist, am now an Ex-Mormon Apologist.


1 For those looking for a short, succinct, summary of the bad fruit of Joseph Smith, Fred W. Anson’s, Beggar’s Bread article on the subject: “The Fruit of Joseph Smith” is recommended.

A Position Statement by the XM-Christians Administrators

First, let’s define terms. From Wikipedia: 

“As a form of Western esotericism, the New Age drew heavily upon a number of older esoteric traditions, in particular, those that emerged from the occultist current that developed in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Such prominent occultist influences include the work of Emanuel Swedenborg and Franz Mesmer, as well as the ideas of Spiritualism, New Thought, and Theosophy… The exact origins of the phenomenon remain contested, but there is general agreement that it became a major movement in the 1970s, at which time it was centered largely in the United Kingdom. It expanded and grew largely in the 1980s and 1990s, in particular within the United States.”
(see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Age

Since its inception of the Ex-Mormon Christians Facebook group (aka “XM-Christians”) back in 2015, a recurring pattern emerged with former Latter-day Saints preaching, teaching, advocating for, and asking questions about New Age teachings and practices in the group. This should have come as no surprise to us given how deeply embedded New Age doctrine and practice is in Mormonism, but it did. Perhaps we should have paid better attention when Harold Bloom, a self-styled Jewish Gnostic, explained:

“The God of Joseph Smith is a daring revival of the God of some of the Kabbalists and Gnostics, prophetic sages who, like Smith himself, asserted that they had returned to the true religion… Mormonism is a purely American Gnosis, for which Joseph Smith was and is a far more crucial figure than Jesus could be. Smith is not just ‘a’ prophet, another prophet, but he is the essential prophet of these latter days, leading into the end time, whenever it comes.”
(Harold Bloom, “The American Religion” (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1992), pp.99;123

To this thesis, Gnostic author Lance S. Owens noted: 

“Harold Bloom’s coupling of Joseph Smith to the Gnostic tradition has aroused animated disagreement among students of Mormonism and Gnosticism alike. Several questions crucial to modern Gnostic studies are raised by this emerging dialogue: What is the relationship of later “Gnostic” movements to classical Gnosticism? Were rudiments of the tradition conveyed to post-classical groups by historical links (oral transmissions, myths and texts); was it instead the independent product of a recurrent type of creative vision? Or are dual forces of historical transmission and primary Gnostic experience generally interdependent, even occultly linked? While Joseph Smith had historical connection with late remnants of Gnosticism conveyed by Renaissance Hermeticism and Kabbalah, his religious creation nonetheless clearly derived in large part from a personal experience.”
(Lance S. Owens, “Joseph Smith: America’s Hermetic Prophet”; Gnosis: A Journal of Western Inner Traditions, Spring 1995)

The bottom line is that New Ageism in the form of classic Gnosticism has been and is a part of Mormon from its very inception. But the question is this: How is any of this in any way “Christian”? And the answer is, it’s not. The Bible is quite clear that the type of divination, transcendentalism, and pagan rituals that we see in both the classic Gnosticism of Joseph Smith, as well as its current manifestation in the modern New Age movement, is pagan, not Judeo-Christian. In fact, God denounces these teachings and practices in the strongest terms possible: 

“There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer or one who inquires of the dead, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord…”
(Deuteronomy 18:10-12, ESV, bolding added for emphasis. Also, see Leviticus 19:31; Leviticus 20:6; Leviticus 20:27, and;  Isaiah 8:19)

Consider this: Even the Book of Mormon, the very keystone of the Mormon faith, was brought forth via the occult practice of “scrying”: 

‘Scrying, also known by various names such as “seeing” or “peeping”, is the practice of looking into a suitable medium in the hope of detecting significant messages or visions. The objective might be personal guidance, prophecy, revelation, or inspiration, but down the ages, scrying in various forms also has been a prominent means of divination or fortune-telling. It remains popular in occult circles, discussed in many media, both modern and centuries old.’
(see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scrying

This is the exact type of “peeping” divination that is explicitly condemned in the Bible by name: 

“And when they [false prophets and brethren] say to you, “Seek those who are mediums and wizards, who whisper and mutter,” should not a people seek their God? Should they seek the dead on behalf of the living? To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.”
(Isaiah 8:19-20 NKJV, bracketed text based on context)

And for 4,000 plus years of Judeo-Christian History, God’s covenant people have been unanimous in their condemnation of these occult practices. Yet despite this, New Ageism has started to creep into our culture, up to and included the Christian Church:

“New Age practices have made their way into almost every area of the culture – sociology, psychology, medicine, the government, ecology, science, arts, the business community, the media, entertainment, sports, education, and even the church. Christians and non-Christians alike have been seduced to accept practices and beliefs that are clearly based on anti-Christian doctrines.

Historically, the New Age Movement can be seen as the modern revival of ancient religious traditions and practices. Its actual original roots are found in the Garden of Eden, as described in Genesis 3:4-5

‘And the serpent said unto the woman, you shall not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’

In the original lie, Satan questions God’s word and authority and, disputes that death results from disobedience, and claims that through the acquisition of secret or Gnostic wisdom man can be enlightened and can be like God. Over the centuries, this lie resulted in a variety of religious traditions and occult practices, which were already strongly condemned in the Old Testament (Deuteronomy 18:9-17; Isaiah 47:9-15) but nevertheless developed in the pagan cultures. It continues to its ultimate state of development and will be revealed as Satan’s one-world system at the end of the age (Revelation 17-18).”
(“What the Cults believe”; Sunday School Notes Tabernacle Baptist Church, Ithaca, NY 14850, Summer 1999

This was reflected in a recent Pew Research that survey shows a majority of Americans now holding to varying degrees of New Age belief: 

“Most American adults self-identify as Christians. But many Christians also hold what are sometimes characterized as “New Age” beliefs – including belief in reincarnation, astrology, psychics and the presence of spiritual energy in physical objects like mountains or trees. Many Americans who are religiously unaffiliated also have these beliefs.

Overall, roughly six-in-ten American adults accept at least one of these New Age beliefs. Specifically, four-in-ten believe in psychics and that spiritual energy can be found in physical objects, while somewhat smaller shares express belief in reincarnation (33%) and astrology (29%).”
(“‘New Age’ beliefs common among both religious and nonreligious Americans”, Pew Research website, October 18, 2018)

So yes, it’s pervasive – far more pervasive than we Admins first realized back in the day. And yes it’s become and is becoming increasingly common in Mormonism. We get that now too. And yes, we have come to understand well that those Ex-Mormons coming from a New Age background can often point to their own, often dramatic, experiences in making their case for their beliefs and practices. We get that as well. But as well-known Charismatic Christian Bible Teacher, the late Derek Prince, pointed out poignantly all this is nothing but denial and self-deception: 

“Deception—not sickness, poverty, or persecution—is the greatest single danger in the end of the age. Anyone who denies his vulnerability to deception is already deceived, for Jesus has foretold it and He does not err. Our hearts are incapable of discerning truth on their own. Proverbs 28:26 teaches, “He who trusts in his own heart is a fool.” “We must not be fools by trusting our hearts. Whatever our hearts tell us is unreliable, as on their own. Proverbs 28:26 teaches, “He who trusts in his own heart is a fool.” We must not be fools by trusting our hearts. Whatever our hearts tell us is unreliable, as Jeremiah 17:9 attests: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” In Hebrew, the word deceitful is active rather than passive. The heart is not deceived; rather, the heart is a deceiver, leading you astray. 

It is also important to realize that signs and wonders neither guarantee nor determine truth. Truth is established and unchanging; it is the Word of God. In John 17:17, Jesus prayed to the Father, “Your word is truth.” The psalmist declared, “Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven” (Psalm 119:89). No event on earth, whether natural or supernatural, can change the slightest sign or letter in the Word of God. 

True signs attest the truth; lying signs attest lies. Many Christians assume that every supernatural sign must be from God, forgetting that Satan, or the devil, is completely capable of performing supernatural signs and wonders. As Paul wrote in his second epistle to the Thessalonians, 

‘The coming of the lawless one [the Antichrist] is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.’ (2 Thessalonians 2:9–12)”
(Derek Prince, “Protection from Deception”, locations 79-91, Whitaker House, Kindle Edition)

In other words, while all of us are most certainly entitled to our personal feelings, personal experiences, and personal opinions, the real question for truly Biblical Christians is always the same: What does the Bible say? For the true Christian, God’s Word is always the ultimate standard for all matters of Christian faith and life, isn’t it? 

Not our personal feelings.
Not our personal experiences. 
And not our personal opinions. 

This is just as the Apostle Paul pointedly challenges us in God’s Word: 

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God… Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
(Romans 12:1-2; 21 NKJV)

Friend, this stuff has eternal consequences, if we claim Jesus as Lord, then Jesus is either Lord, or He isn’t, right? After all, wasn’t Christ Himself clear in the Book of Revelation when He warned us about engaging in several often taught and used New Age practices: 

‘And He [Christ] said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”’
(Revelation 21:6-8 NKJV) 

In end, the Got Questions website summed things up nicely when they concluded: 

“The New Age movement is a counterfeit philosophy that appeals to the feelings of individuals, leading them to think that they are God and can enhance their lives through their own person. The reality is that we are born, grow up, live a while on planet Earth, and die. Humans are finite. We can never be God. We need someone greater than we who can provide us forgiveness and life eternal. Praise the Lord for the God-man, Jesus Christ. Through His death and bodily resurrection, He has won for us what we desperately need: forgiveness from God, a life of purpose and meaning in this life, and eternal life beyond the grave. Don’t miss out on who Jesus Christ is and what He has done for you. Read John chapter 3. Ask Christ to be your Savior. Your life will be transformed, and you will know who you are, why you are here, and where you are going.”
(“What is the New Age movement?”)

So while the XM-Christians Admins are empathetic and sympathetic to the confusion that the LdS Church has created within its membership by relabeling and redefining New Ageism as “Christian”, a transition from that type of obfuscation into historic, Biblical Christianity is the goal and purpose of this group. Therefore, while we understand the inner turmoil and misunderstanding a firm affirmation of the biblical stance on these things might cause with Ex-Mormons who were heavily into Mormon New Age practices and teachings when they were members, we will, nonetheless, remain firm. And this is the boundary and stance that we will maintain in this group. 

Thank you.

The XM-Christian Admin Team

Amy Fuller
Michael Stevens
Jackie Davidson
Matthew Eklund
Rachel Miller 
Russ East
Barb Griffith
Fred W. Anson

“Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves.” (Jesus Christ, Matthew 7:15 NLT)

Recommended Reading: 
“Deceived No More: How Jesus Led Me out of the New Age and into His Word”, by Doreen Virtue
(this is the book that the recovered former New Agers in the XM-Christians group seem to recommend above all others)

“What’s New with the New Age? Why Christians Need to Remain on Guard against the Threat of New Age Spirituality” by Phil Johnson
(a good short primer on the subject)

“A Christian Response to the New Age” by John A. Saliba
(a good short primer on the subject that’s more scholarly than the Phil Johnson article)

‘Jesus Christ The Bearer of the Water of Life: A Christian reflection on the “New Age”’, The Vatican
(a six-year study by the Roman Catholic Church on the New Age movement)

“New Age Beliefs Aren’t Christian, Vatican Finds”, Larry B. Stammer, LA Times, February 8, 2003
(a good synopsis of the above Roman Catholic study that is easier and quicker to read)

“Inside the box was security and safety. Inside the box was reality.”

I was first exposed to this parable via Chad Spjut’s Exmormon Foundation 2010 Conference Presidential Greeting.  I offer it to you now  in the hope that this powerful, articulate, and poignant expression of the life experience of so many resonates as deeply for you as it did for me.

by Anonymous Utahan
There once was a boy who lived all his life with a cardboard box over his head. His parents taught him that he should never take the box off, for doing so was dangerous and foolish. The box protected him from the scary world outside of it.

On the inside of the box, he could make out some letters, and he could see the outlines of the box around him. His world was brown cardboard. His parents taught him to study the inside of the box carefully, for in it was all the wisdom he needed to navigate life. Inside the box was security and safety. Inside the box was reality.

Some of his friends told him that they had taken off the box and life was much better, but he didn’t believe them. His parents made sure he stayed away from these people, who clearly wanted only to hurt their boy.

But as he grew older, he found that he kept bumping into sharp and painful objects that he couldn’t see because of the box. His parents told him that those things weren’t real, that he was safest and happiest inside the box. But each day brought more injury as he seemed to constantly run into painful things.

“Just take the box off so you can see where you’re going”, said his friends.

“No! You can’t! You’ll hurt yourself, and you might even die!” warned his parents.

After too many painful days, he made up his mind to see what was out there on the other side of the box. The light hurt his eyes briefly, but after a moment, he could see colors, and trees, and sky. It was more beautiful than anything he had ever imagined.

He looked around and saw his friends, who smiled at him and welcomed him to a better world.

And then he saw them. His parents and friends came groping toward him, boxes on their heads.

He called out to them, “Take the boxes off! You’ll see that there’s so much more out here! Trust me!”

But his parents told him sadly, “We have failed as parents. All we ever wanted was for you to be happy, and now you’ve rejected us and everything we hold dear. Please, son, put the box back on, for us. You’ll see that we know what’s best”

“But Mom, Dad, it’s so beautiful out here, and the world is full of possibilities. Can’t you just lift the box, if only for a moment? You’ll see that I’m telling you the truth.”

His parents turned sadly and told their friends, “We have lost our son. Let this be a lesson to you. This is what happens when you take off the box.”

And, turning, they groped their way slowly – away from the shining sun.

“Take the boxes off! You’ll see that there’s so much more out here! Trust me!”

(As originally published on the Mormon Expression Blogs website on July 26, 2011)

BACK TO TOP

“If history has shown us one thing, it’s that today’s Mormonism is tomorrow’s dustbin fodder”

by Fred W. Anson
The Church of Jesus Christ claims, “The gospel has been known throughout eternity, and its principles have been preached among men and women from their beginnings on this earth.” (Robert L. Millet, “The Eternal Gospel”, Ensign, July 1996) and “The gospel of Jesus Christ is a divine and perfect plan. It is composed of eternal, unchanging principles, laws, and ordinances which are universally applicable to every individual regardless of time, place, or circumstance. Gospel principles never change.” (Ronald E. Poelman, “The Gospel and the Church”, Ensign, November 1984).

But history tells a different tale: The Mormon gospel is temporal and constantly changing. Here’s a partial list of Mormon Doctrine, scripture, and bits and various pieces that have been left on the dustbin of history. This is the eighth in this ongoing, intermittent series of articles.

34) Use of the cross in Mormon architecture and fashion
In today’s Mormon Culture the cross is treated more like it’s a radioactive or a symbol of shame, not glory. As LdS President, Gordon B. Hinckley said in a 2005 address:

The cross had been the bitter fruit of Judas’s betrayal, the summary of Peter’s denial. The empty tomb now became the testimony of His divinity, the assurance of eternal life, the answer to Job’s unanswered question: “If a man die, shall he live again?” (Job 14:14)… And because our Savior lives, we do not use the symbol of His death as the symbol of our faith.
(Gordon B. Hinckley, “The Symbol of Our Faith”, Ensign, April 2005) 

However, as Mormon Studies Scholar, Michael G. Reed points out this was not always the case – quite the contrary in fact:

In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries many Latter-day Saints individually used and promoted the symbol of the cross in its visual and material form. The current taboo emerged among Mormons at the grass-roots level around the turn of the twentieth century, and became institutionalized mid-century under the direction of David O. McKay, president of the LDS Church 1951–70.
(Reed, Michael G. “Banishing the Cross: The Emergence of a Mormon Taboo”, John Whitmer Books. Kindle Edition locations 136-143)

And a 2009 Deseret News article on Mr. Reed’s book explains further:

In 1916 a church asked the Salt Lake City Council to allow them to build a huge cross, “the symbol of Christianity,” on Ensign Peak. “We would like to construct it of cement, re-enforced with steel, of sufficient dimensions that it can be readily seen from every part of the city,” the request read.

That request came from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The cross was to honor the Mormon pioneers.

Even though the proposal was approved by the City Council, the monument was never built.

Today there are no crosses on Mormon temples. Yet two are shaped like a cross. Mormon chapels do not have crosses either. But many have prints of the crucifixion hanging on their walls…

It appeared as jewelry on Brigham Young’s wives and daughters. It appeared in floral arrangements in funerals. It appeared as tie tacks on men’s ties and watch fobs on men’s vests. It appeared on cattle as the official LDS Church brand. Crosses were on church windows, attic vents, stained-glass windows and pulpits. They were on gravestones and quilts.

Even two temples, the Hawaiian and the Cardston, Alberta, Canada Temple were described in a 1923 general conference as being built in the shape of a cross.
(Michael De Groote, “Mormons and the cross”, Deseret News, Sep 10, 2009)

And if any further proof of this is required, please consider the photographs that are included throughout the Deseret New article that I’ve just cited from (link provided above).  This article contains several photographs from an earlier age of Mormon History when the cross was a glory, not the symbol of shame that it is today. They’re interesting, to say the least.

LdS President Joseph F Smith at a funeral in the Brigham City Tabernacle with a floral Cross that’s central to the funeral arrangements.

35) Plain identity of extant Native Americans as Lamanites.
Prior to the DNA evidence discrediting the claim that the American Aboriginals were the descendants of the Lamanites claims that was, in fact, THE official, correlated view of the LdS Church. As the Daily Herald summarized so nicely back in 2007:

“The Lamanites, church members have long believed, are the direct ancestors of the indigenous peoples found in North, South and Central America by European explorers in the 15th and 16th centuries.

It’s a matter of some controversy, then, that LDS officials have now changed the text of the Introduction to the Book of Mormon, softening the assertion made when the Introduction was first included, in 1981, that the Lamanites “are the principal ancestors of the American Indians.” The new text says only that the Lamanites “are among the ancestors of the American Indians.”

And the historical record backs their claims and documents this now dust binned doctrine well:

“Verily, I say unto you, that the wisdom of man, in his fallen state, knoweth not the purposes and the privileges of my hold priesthood, but ye shall know when ye receive a fullness by reason of the anointing: For it is my will, that in time, ye should take unto you wives of the Lamanites and Nephites, that their posterity may become white, delightsome and just, for even now their females are more virtuous then the gentiles.”
(Prophet Joseph Smith, Jr., 1831 revelation, recorded in a letter from W.W. Phelps to Brigham Young, dated August 12, 1861)

“In addition to this, and to co-operate with it, it has been made known by revelation, that it will be pleasing to the Lord, should they form a matrimonial alliance with the Natives; and by this means the Elders, who comply with the thing so pleasing to the Lord, and for which the Lord has promised to bless those who do it abundantly, gain a residence in the Indian territory, independent of the agent. It has been made known to one, who has left his wife in the state of N.Y. that he is entirely free from his wife, and he is at liberty to take him a wife from among the Lamanites. It was easily perceived that his permission was perfectly suited to his desires. I have frequently heard him state, that the Lord had made it known to him, that he is as free from his wife as from any other woman; and the only crime that I have ever heard alleged against her is, she is violently opposed to Mormonism.”
(Ezra Booth, Ohio Star, December 8, 1831)

“After the people again forgot the Lord and dissensions arose, some of them took upon themselves the name Lamanites and the dark skin returned. When the Lamanites fully repent and sincerely receive the gospel, the Lord has promised to remove the dark skin. The Lord declared by revelation that, ‘before the great day of the Lord shall come, Jacob shall flourish in the wilderness, and the Lamanites shall blossom as a rose.’ The dark skin of those who have come into the Church is no longer to be considered a sign of the curse. Many of these converts and delightsome and have the Spirit of the Lord. Perhaps there are some Lamanites today who are losing the dark pigment. Many of the members of the Church among the Catawba Indians of the South could readily pass as of the white race; also in other parts of the South.”
(Prophet Joseph Fielding Smith, Answers to Gospel Questions, v. 3, p. 123, 1953)

“The day of the Lamanites is nigh. For years they have been growing delightsome, and they are now becoming white and delightsome, as they were promised. In this picture of the twenty Lamanite missionaries, fifteen of the twenty were as light as Anglos; five were darker but equally delightsome. The children in the home placement program in Utah are often lighter than their brothers and sisters in the hogans on the reservation…. At one meeting a father and mother and their sixteen-year-old daughter were present, the little member girl-sixteen sitting between the dark father and mother, and it was evident she was several shades lighter than her parents on the same reservation, in the same Hogan, subject to the same sun and wind and weather. There was the doctor in a Utah city who for two years had had an Indian boy in his home who stated that he was some shades lighter than the younger brother just coming into the program from the reservation. These young members of the Church are changing to whiteness and delightsomeness. One white elder jokingly said that he and his companion were donating blood regularly to the hospital in the hope that the process might be accelerated.”
(Prophet Spencer W. Kimball, “Day of the Lamanites”, General Conference, Oct. 1960)

“The Lord has never indicated that black skin came because of being less faithful. Now, the Indian; we know why he has changed, don’t we? The Book of Mormon tells us that; and he has a dark skin, but he has promise there that through faithfulness, that they all again become a white and delightsome people.”
(Apostle LeGrand Richards, Interview by Wesley P. Walters and Chris Vlachos, Aug. 16, 1978, Church Office Building)

“We are greatly conscious of the fact that among the Lamanites – as well as among all peoples of other countries – we have a responsibility to see that the gospel touches their hearts and minds and that they understand it.”
(Prophet Spencer W. Kimball, October 1980 General Conference, Ensign, November 1980, p.76)

“The Lamanites [Native Americans], now a down-trodden people, are a remnant of the house of Israel. The curse of God has followed them as it has done the Jews, though the Jews have not been darkened in their skin as have the Lamanites.”
(Prophet Wilford Woodruff, Journal of Discourses, v. 22, p.173)

And if that’s not enough, you will find many more such quotes here: http://www.mormonthink.com/QUOTES/native.htm

A map from the December 1975 Ensign Magazine from the article, “Who and Where Are the Lamanites?” by Lane Johnson. Ensign magazine is an official, correlated LDS Church periodical.

36) D&C 89’s encouragement to drink beer.
As Rock Waterman explains:

“God tells us in Section 89 that beer is one of the reasons He gave us barley.

If you didn’t know that, it’s probably because like many latter day saints, you learned all about the Word of Wisdom in Sunday school, but you’ve most likely never gotten around to really reading the thing.

So let’s look at it again. Remember the part describing the purposes of the various grains, the one that begins “Nevertheless, wheat for man…”? Open your scriptures to Doctrine and Covenants Section 89 and turn to verse 17. Let’s read, in God’s own words, what he created barley for: “…and barley for all useful animals and for mild drinks, as also other grain.”

The early saints would have been astounded that future members would ever conflate their mild barley drink -beer- with the “strong drink” advised against in verses 5 and 7. Early Mormons regularly consumed beer without compunction, as had most of mankind throughout recorded history.

In 1843 the church’s newspaper, the Nauvoo Neighbor, advertised ale and beer available at the Nauvoo Brewery. Joseph Smith oversaw a fully stocked bar located at his home in the Mansion House. In an 1844 journal entry Joseph Smith mentions that he stopped in and “drank a glass of beer at Moesser’s“. He mentions this in passing as if it was no big deal, because to him it wasn’t.

This was eleven years after Joseph received the revelation known as the Word of Wisdom, so you can’t say he didn’t know better. The fact is, beer was not proscribed by Section 89; it was prescribed.

Within three years of the saints’ arrival in the Salt Lake Valley, breweries were operating at the mouths of every river canyon from Logan to Nephi. Most of the saints were immigrants from England, Denmark, and Germany, and these Teutonics brought with them their old-world brewing skills. A sizable brewery once sat close to where the Provo temple is now, and the Henry Wagener Brewery took up a massive 150 acres just across the street from where the “This Is The Place” monument now stands. So many breweries appeared so fast that by 1851 the smell emanating from all these operations provoked the city council to declare them a nuisance. Yet they continued to operate.

Beer was manufactured and consumed by faithful members of the church who never gave a second thought to the idea that there might be anything wrong with it. Most would have applied Benjamin Franklin’s famous declaration regarding wine to their beer and ale, that it was “proof that God loves us and loves to see us happy”.

By the time Johnston’s Army arrived in 1857, ushering in a steady stream of thirsty gentiles through Utah, things really took off for the Mormon brewers. Beer was available everywhere, including the church owned ZCMI where both Mormons and gentiles could stop in to grab a brewski any day but Sunday.

So how did the LDS church membership devolve from an appreciation of beer as a gift from God, to our present-day anathema toward it?

Well, we got the idea from the protestants.

Temperance Nation
By the time of the Manifesto in 1890, the LDS conversion rate was practically nil. All anybody knew about Mormons were that they were that crazy bunch of polygamous weirdos off in the desert. Any growth the church experienced was primarily internal, as pretty much the only baptisms Utahns were performing were on eight year old kids who already lived there. Certainly nobody new wanted to join.

The united states government and the eastern newspapers had painted us such pariahs that we couldn’t get anybody to take our religion seriously on a bet. Missionaries couldn’t get anyone to take a pamphlet, let alone read the Book of Mormon. Proselyting was at a standstill. We needed to find some way to get our numbers up.

Meanwhile back in the states, a huge temperance movement was sweeping the sectarian religious world, a backlash against decades of unbridled American alcoholism and public drunkenness. Public vows of abstinence were all the rage. It was no longer cool to profess Christ on Sunday if you spent Saturday night in a saloon; now a man’s spiritual measure was taken by how vociferously he denounced the demon rum.

The motto of virtuous young women everywhere was “lips that touch liquor shall never touch mine”, and young men, whose lips desperately wanted to touch the lips of young women, dutifully fell into line. It was futile to argue with these women that beer and ale, which were brewed, did not belong in the same class as hard liquors such as whiskey, which was distilled. These young ladies had zero tolerance for any of it, it was all the same to them. Talk to the hand, ’cause the lips ain’t listenin‘.

There was a pious war against booze raging in Christian America, and mild drinks were getting caught in the crossfire.

The debate spilled over into Utah where, though public drunkenness was strictly forbidden, wine and distilled spirits had always been available (some members paid their tithing in wine they made themselves; the St George tithing office reported collecting 7000 gallons by 1887). Still, hard liquor was hardly tolerated by Mormons the way beer had traditionally been.

By 1900, the parsing of the Word of Wisdom was well under way in debate among the leaders of the church. According to BYU Professor Emeritus Thomas G. Alexander:

“…All general authorities were not in agreement on all aspects of the word of wisdom…After he became president of the church, Lorenzo Snow again emphasized the centrality of not eating meat…and in 1901 John Henry Smith and Brigham Young, Jr., of the Twelve both thought that the church ought not interdict beer, at least not Danish beer.” Apostle Anthon H. Lund, who happened to be Danish, agreed, especially with the part about Danish beer. So did Mathias F.Cowley and others.

Over the next couple of decades, the Mormon people as a whole jumped on the Temperance bandwagon, and in 1919 Utah enthusiastically ratified the 18th amendment prohibiting all alcoholic beverages, including beer. Utah breweries closed down and before long all traces disappeared. In time, the descendants of the pioneers forgot they had ever existed. Land once occupied by the sprawling Henry Wagoner Company eventually became home to the Hogle zoo.

The Mormon support of prohibition had a positive effect on missionary work. We could boast to teetotaling Christians that we were way ahead of the curve on the evils of alcohol, having been hip to that scene as far back as 1833. With the hub-bub over polygamy having pretty much quieted down, the church was experiencing a re-branding. Missionaries were no longer fearsome devils come to steal your daughters; they were now those nice young men who didn’t smoke or drink.

Looks like we’d found our gimmick.”
(Rock Waterman, “Too Bad I Don’t Like Beer”, Pure Mormonism website, June 18, 2009) 

37) Paid Clergy.
Mormon scripture explicitly mandates that clergy be paid:

Doctrine & Covenants 42
71 And the elders or high priests who are appointed to assist the bishop as counselors in all things, are to have their families supported out of the property which is consecrated to the bishop, for the good of the poor, and for other purposes, as before mentioned;

72 Or they are to receive a just remuneration for all their services, either a stewardship or otherwise, as may be thought best or decided by the counselors and bishop.

73 And the bishop, also, shall receive his support, or a just remuneration for all his services in the church.

Yet today, despite the clear command of scripture, today the LdS Church denounces churches with a paid clergy in the strong terms:

“Wherever creeds are found one can also expect to find a paid clergy, the simple truths of the gospel cloaked in the dark robes of mystery, religious intolerance, and a history of bloodshed.”
(Joseph Fielding McConkie and Craig Ostler, “Revelations of the Restoration”, p. 964, published 2000)

But as D. Michael Quinn explains this wasn’t always the case:

“In the nineteenth-century West, local officers of the LDS church obtained their support from the tithing they collected. As early as 1859, Brigham Young wondered “whether a Stake would not be better governed when none of the officers were paid for their services.” During Brigham Young’s presidency, ward bishops drew at will from the primarily non-cash tithing Mormons donated. President Young complained at the October 1860 general conference “against a principle in many of the Bishops to use up all the tithing they could for their own families.

Even full-time missionaries benefited from tithing funds in the nineteenth century The senior president of the First Council of Seventy commented in 1879 that the families of married missionaries should be supported from tithing funds.55 However, at best that practice barely kept struggling wives and children out of abject poverty while their husbands and fathers served two-year missions.

In 1884, Church President John Taylor limited bishops to 8 percent of the tithing they collected (now primarily cash), while stake presidents got 2 percent of the tithing collected by all the bishops of the stake. In 1888, Wilford Woodruff established set salaries for stake presidents, and provided that a stake committee would apportion 10 percent of collected tithing between the bishops and the stake tithing clerk. At the April 1896 general conference, the First Presidency announced the end of salaries for local officers, in response to the decision of the temple meeting “to not pay Salaries to any one but the twelve.
(D. Michael Quinn, “LDS Church Finances from the 1830’s to the 1990’s”, Sunstone Magazine, June 1996, p.21; audio presentation January 1, 1992)

And right into the dustbin a paid clergy, along with beer-drinking for health, clearly identifying American Indians as the descendants of the Lamanites, and glorying in the cross, swish, swish, swish, it goes. It’s just as Mormon Researcher, Aaron Shafovaloff’s Couplet says so well,

“As heresy is, Mormon doctrine once was.
As Mormon doctrine is, heresy will it become.”
— Shafovaloff’s Couplet

Domenico Ghirlandaio, “The Calling of the Apostles” (1481)

compiled by Fred W. Anson
Since few people outside of Restorationist circles have heard of David Bercot here’s a brief primer from his Wikipedia page that will give you his backstory: 

David Bercot was raised as a Jehovah’s Witness. After leaving Jehovah’s Witnesses in 1976, he began his university education. He graduated from Stephen F. Austin State University summa cum laude, and he obtained his Doctor of Jurisprudence degree cum laude from Baylor University School of Law.

In 1985, Bercot began an in-depth study of the early Christians who lived before the Council of Nicaea in A.D. 325. His studies started him on a spiritual pilgrimage. In 1989, he wrote the book, Will the Real Heretics Please Stand Up, which sets forth some of the teachings and lifestyle of the early Christians. That same year, he joined with an Assembly of God pastor to establish Scroll Publishing Company for the purpose of publishing various writings of the pre-Nicene Christians, as well as to publish other Christian books.

Bercot’s studies of the early Christians brought him into contact and dialogue with three different branches of Christianity: the Anabaptists (Mennonites, Amish, Brethren), the Anglican Church, and the churches of the Restoration Movement (Church of Christ, Disciples of Christ, International Church of Christ). In 1985, after completing his religious studies through Cambridge University, Bercot was ordained as an Anglican priest. However, he eventually left the Anglican Church and began fellowshipping with various Anabaptist churches.

Today Bercot is a lecturer and author who emphasizes the simplicity of Biblical doctrine and early (ante-Nicene) Christian teaching over against what he would call the heavy and complex body of theological understandings that have built up over the centuries in churches and in academia and that have come to be thought of as orthodoxy. He is particularly notable for his deeply nonresistant understanding of Jesus’s and New Testament teaching.

Bercot’s most widely read work is A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs, published in 1998. It is a work that collects together over 7000 excerpts from the writings believed by many to be those of early Christians, arranged alphabetically by topic. According to Bercot, before the publication of his work, the only practical way to determine what the early Christians believed about any given topic was to read the actual writings of the Ante-Nicene Fathers themselves. After the publication of A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs, the Evangelical Review of Theology stated: “David Bercot has done the church a great service in providing an accessible point of entry into the extant writings of the pre-Nicene church.” The Conservative Theological Journal stated: “This is a must text for everyone interested in modern theological trends in general and especially historical studies.”

Other popular books that Bercot has written are Will the Real Heretics Please Stand Up, published originally in 1989, and The Kingdom That Turned the World Upside Down (2003), and Will the Theologians Please Sit Down (2009).
(“David Bercot”, Wikipedia, retrieved 2020-11-12) 

If you saw a recurring Restorationist theme running through that biography, you’re not alone. From Jehovah’s Witness to Pentecostal, to Anabaptist, it’s all there in plain sight. So given that strong Restorationist skew, it should come as no surprise that Bercot has become a kind of go-to source for Restorationist heresy and error the world over. From Anabaptists to Mormons he’s cited as an authority on how Christian ecclesiology should be but now is not. While this is a common Restorationist theme, it’s not without problems – and those problems have left a wide swath of error and heresy in its path.

Suffice to say, there are serious problems and issues with using David Bercot as either an expert witness or final authority on issues of Church History and Ecclesiology. So with that short introduction, I will simply turn the reader over to some critiques of David Bercot, from qualified and credentialed sources to explain why in detail that is. 

From Eastern Orthodox Church Historian and Scholar, Patrick Barnes:
“My opening remarks are on the subject of epistemology. You [DavidBercot] acknowledge (p. 104) that the sole method of teaching for Christ, and the primary method for the Apostles, was oral; yet your arguments are based upon your personal interpretation of only a portion of the written patristic texts that exist in the English language (which is a very small percentage of the overall Patristic corpus in existence today, a corpus itself which is a small percentage of the writings that were available to the majority of the Fathers; cf. Eusebius’ reference to the library at Edessa; Papias’ book, etc.). You furthermore acknowledge in Chapter 11 that the effects of time, language, culture, etc. on one’s ability to properly interpret the Church’s Tradition can be quite pervasive and severe. Does this not apply equally to you and your ability to draw trustworthy conclusions from the small body of English texts you have examined? In short, how can you be even reasonably certain about many of your conclusions, especially the ultimate one that Anglicanism contains the purest “thread”?”

“I am also trying to underscore the seeming precarious nature of your epistemology (which, of course, is related to your ecclesiology). It strikes me as surprisingly uncharacteristic of one as seemingly steeped in the early Fathers as you are. I hope I am wrong in this, but it seems that your approach to discerning the content of the apostolic Faith is quite individualistic and empirical, betraying a distinctly American and certainly post-Enlightenment approach to the acquisition of truth. Do you really trust your own abilities to find the True Faith by merely an appeal to written Tradition—as opposed to finding the Body of God’s People, the Church, which has preserved this Truth—especially when you have consulted only those Patristic texts that are available in English and often interpreted through Protestant eyes?”
(Excerpts from a Letter by Patrick Barnes (1997), ‘A Critique of David Bercot’s “Will the Real Heretics Please Stand Up?”)

From Church Historian, R.A. Baker, Ph.D:
“My overall critique of Bercot’s book is this: he wants to point to the second century church as some kind of ideal that we should attempt to emulate. While I think there are positives to be seen in every era of church history, I do not think the second century, or any other era, should be pointed to as the “ideal.” In addition to the various specific critiques I have offered, the second century writers also held numerous doctrinal positions that Bercot would NOT want us to embrace: purgatory (Origen), mortal and venal sins (Tertullian), forgiveness of sins rests with the bishop (Ignatius, Cyprian), and many others. It appears to me that Bercot takes the Early Church Fathers on CD and does a “Ctrl + F” to “Find” passages that speak to a particular issue. If he likes the passage, he uses it. If the passage does not support his thesis, he ignores it. The writings of the early church fathers must be used with care. Historical context is critical.”

“Look, my point to Bercot is this: If you want to write a book criticizing modern evangelicals – Just do it. But don’t use early church fathers when you are not qualified to use them. It would be like me glibly citing Martin Luther when I really do not know his writings. Oh I have read about Luther. I have read short excerpts of Luther, but I would NEVER try to use Luther as some kind of proof, especially for theology (another category I am not competent to speak on as an authority).

Many have read Bercot and now think they know something about the early church when all they truly know is the small amount Bercot reveals of what he knows. And Bercot seems to know probably 20% of what I know…and I know such a very small amount about the first three centuries of Christian history…and I have a Ph.D. from a world leader in academic study. And I am not trying to be humble. I KNOW how little I know. My supervisor was an expert in Augustine. I would go across the street for a cup of tea with him, sit for 1-2 hours and just ask him questions about church history. It was awesome, but also very, very humbling and a bit discouraging. I hope I know 20% of what he knows.
(R.A. Baker, Book Review of “Will the Real Heretics Please Stand Up: A New Look at Today’s Evangelical Church in the Light of Early Christianity, by David Bercot”)

A fresco of Christ, the Apostles, and the Patristic Fathers from an Eastern Orthodox Church building.

From Christian Apologist James Holding:
“ Bercot’s effort otherwise is variously, often badly, misguided. In addition to the behavioral factors above, Bercot insists that we have lost our way in some doctrinal matters as well. His primary sources for this particular book are several patristic writers (i.e., Justin, Tertullian, Origen) and their practice and explication of Christianity. Bercot’s logic: These men were closer in time to the apostles, and closer in language, and closer in culture. Therefore their understanding of the Scriptures is more likely to be correct [101-2] and deserve scrutiny. He writes:

“…the second century Christians were basically only one generation away from the apostles. We’re nineteen generations away! How reasonable is it for us to argue that, after nineteen hundred years, evangelical Christianity is basically unchanged from that of the apostles?”

One senses a certain fallacy of excluded middle here, but more to the point, Bercot is off base, and ironically so. He devotes a single paragraph to the point that we today do not understand early Mediterranean culture, as the patristic writers would have. But he has no conception of a very deep rift between cultures that decidedly affected patristic understanding of the Scriptures: the difference between Jewish thinking and the sort of pagan thinking that the patristic writers were raised in. (The irony is doubled for me because I first read of Bercot through Bickmore, who makes similar errors.)

Where this shows most deeply is in Bercot’s attempt to understand the relationship between faith and works. He makes the same errors concerning baptism that we have covered in Link 1 below — including the same false interpretations of John 3:5, Acts 22:16, Titus 3:5, Acts 2:38, and 1 Peter 3:21. His justification for these interpretations is no more or less than that it was how the patristic writers interpreted these verses. But if Bercot wants to use the “closer is better” argument, then how would he respond to someone who said that heretics were equally close in time and culture? He acknowledges that waywards like the Gnostics existed, but does not seen to grasp how his own argument is refuted by their existence. Certainly if heretics were able to distort the meaning of the NT is such a short space, it was possible for the patristics, even in their commitment to Christ and study of the Word, to have made lesser and less significant errors in their understanding.”

“There are many patristic beliefs that David Bercot probably would reject. Clement of Alexandria and Origen, for example, refer to the possibility of people being saved after death. There was widespread acceptance of the belief that salvation could be lost without any possibility of regaining it if particular sins were committed. Such a view was advocated by Hermas, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, and Hippolytus, for example. Would David Bercot agree with Irenaeus that Jesus lived to be over 50 years old? Irenaeus claims to have received that information from apostolic tradition, and he cites his own (mis)understanding of John 8:57 in support of it. It’s an example of an *early* church father interpreting scripture, and claiming apostolic tradition in support of that interpretation, yet we know that the interpretation is incorrect. It’s true that many church fathers advocated some type of salvation through works, but not all of them did. Clement of Rome and Mathetes explicitly and repeatedly advocate concepts such as sola fide and the substitutionary righteousness of Christ.

They never even mention baptism in their discussions of salvation. There was no one view of salvation held by all of the church fathers. Many did believe in *some* type of salvation through works, but not all of them did. And among those who did, there were disagreements over just which works must be done and just which sins must be avoided. With some of the later church fathers, like John Chrysostom, we even find them referring to some type of salvation through works in one passage, but advocating sola fide (even with the words “faith alone”) elsewhere.

Some of the church fathers weren’t even consistent with *themselves* on the issue.I know that Bercot focuses on the Ante-Nicene fathers, but below are some examples of both the Ante-Nicene and later church fathers disagreeing with Bercot about the perspicuity of scripture. The fathers do refer to some passages being difficult to understand, but they don’t seem to have thought the problem was as significant as Bercot suggests. They thought that consulting the works of earlier writers was *helpful* in understanding scripture, but they didn’t think it was necessary, nor do they seem to have viewed scripture as being as unclear as Bercot suggests:

“Pay attention, therefore, to what I shall record out of the holy Scriptures, which do not need to be expounded, but only listened to.”
– Justin Martyr (Dialogue with Trypho, 55)

“A sound mind, and one which does not expose its possessor to danger, and is devoted to piety and the love of truth, will eagerly meditate upon those things which God has placed within the power of mankind, and has subjected to our knowledge, and will make advancement in acquaintance with them, rendering the knowledge of them easy to him by means of daily study. These things are such as fall plainly under our observation, and are clearly and unambiguously in express terms set forth in the Sacred Scriptures….the entire Scriptures, the prophets, and the Gospels, can be clearly, unambiguously, and harmoniously understood by all”
– Irenaeus (Against Heresies, 2:27:1-2)

“For, being accustomed to sweet and polished speeches or poems, they despise the simple and common language of the sacred writings as mean. For they seek that which may soothe the senses. But whatever is pleasant to the ear effects persuasion, and while it delights fixes itself deeply within the breast. Is God, therefore, the contriver both of the mind, and of the voice, and of the tongue, unable to speak eloquently? Yea, rather, with the greatest foresight, He wished those things which are divine to be without adornment, that all might understand the things which He Himself spoke to all.”
– Lactantius (Divine Institutes, 6:21)

“The religious perspicuity of the ancient Scriptures caused them [the Arians] no shame, nor did the consentient doctrine of our colleagues concerning Christ keep in check their audacity against Him.”
– Alexander of Alexandria (Epistles on the Arian Heresy and the Deposition of Arius, 1:10)

“Vainly then do they run about with the pretext that they have demanded Councils for the faith’s sake; for divine Scripture is sufficient above all things; but if a Council be needed on the point, there are the proceedings of the Fathers, for the Nicene Bishops did not neglect this matter, but stated the doctrines so exactly, that persons reading their words honestly, cannot but be reminded by them of the religion towards Christ announced in divine Scripture”
– Athanasius (De Synodis, 6)

“And this is usual with Scriptures, to express itself in inartificial and simple phrases.”
– Athanasius (Four Discourses Against the Arians, 4:33)

“For there have risen many who have given to the plain words of Holy Writ some arbitrary interpretation of their own, instead of its true and only sense, and this in defiance of the clear meaning of words. Heresy lies in the sense assigned, not in the word written; the guilt is that of the expositor, not of the text.”
– Hilary of Poitiers (On the Trinity, 2:3)

“All things are dear and open that are in the divine Scriptures; the necessary things are all plain.”
– John Chrysostom (Homilies on Second Thessalonians, 3, v. 5)

“For among the things that are plainly laid down in Scripture are to be found all matters that concern faith and the manner of life,–to wit, hope and love, of which I have spoken in the previous book. After this, when we have made ourselves to a certain extent familiar with the language of Scripture, we may proceed to open up and investigate the obscure passages, and in doing so draw examples from the plainer expressions to throw light upon the more obscure, and use the evidence of passages about which there is no doubt to remove all hesitation in regard to the doubtful passages.” – Augustine (On Christian Doctrine, 2:9)

“For this reason, where they cannot interpret them [the scriptures] otherwise according to their own sentence, be it ever so clear and manifest, they answer that it is obscure and uncertain because wrong and perverse they dare not call it.” – Augustine (Of the Work of Monks, 10)”

(James Holding, “David Bercot: A Critique”)

And last, but not least, here’s a powerful quote from Jason Engwer on why Patristic writings should not be considered equal to, let alone, superior to the Bible:
“Another example of how important it is to follow the scriptures first and foremost, as opposed to following the early church fathers, is the issue of baptismal regeneration, the teaching that baptism is a requirement for salvation. The scriptures are overwhelmingly in opposition to baptismal regeneration. Every scripture passage cited by those who argue that baptism is a requirement for salvation has a reasonable alternate interpretation that reconciles it with the larger number of passages that are in opposition to that doctrine (see Rebutting Baptismal Regeneration). Yet, most of the early church fathers taught baptismal regeneration. (Contrary to popular conception, not everybody in the post-apostolic early church did, however.

The earliest church father, and possibly the only one who wrote during the first century, is Clement of Rome. In the only material we have from him, his letter to the Corinthians, he explicitly teaches salvation through faith alone (1), and he says nothing about baptism being a requirement for salvation. Though people often make generalizations about how ‘everybody’ in the early church believed in baptismal regeneration, the truth is that not everybody did.)

One of the church fathers who taught that baptism is a requirement for salvation was Tertullian. An examination of his treatise On Baptism reveals just how unscriptural and weak were the arguments of those church fathers who did advocate baptismal regeneration.”
(Jason Engwer, “The Fallibility of the Early Church Fathers: Why Christians Should Look to the Bible Alone for Doctrine”)

Dirck van Baburen, “Christ Washing the Apostles Feet” (1616)

A peaceful march of hundreds of supporters and members of the Chicago Freedom Movement along State Street, Chicago, Illinois, July 26, 1965, that resulted in no deaths and no destruction of property. (photo credit: Robert Abbott Sengstacke/Getty Images)

A Common Sense Appeal to Biblically Approaching Mormonism

by Fred W. Anson
Let me ask you something: How inclined would you be to listen to someone whose goal is the destruction of your church? If you’re like most people the honest answer is, “Not very, if that!” In fact, a Christian needn’t go further than an atheist discussion board to find out how “receptive” this attitude makes one to listening to anything that someone with such an agenda has to say.

On the other hand, what if the person’s goal is to reform your church so that it’s a better church? While you may still be skeptical of their intentions and motives you would at least be willing to listen. In this case, it would only be the closed-minded die-hard defenders of the status quo – be it right or be it wrong – who would tend to take umbrage at such a stance right? But even in those cases, even the die-hards would be more inclined to listen to someone who’s trying to be constructive rather than someone who’s destructive right?

So here’s the irony: Relative to the largely orthodox Mormonism taught in early Mormonism the modern LdS Church is in a state of apostasy. In fact, and even more ironically, just a few years after the formation of the church Joseph Smith had managed to lead his followers into blatant heresy and error. This is clearly what a former member of the LdS Church First Presidency, William Law, and his associates stated in the Nauvoo Expositor:

‘As for our acquaintance with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, we know, no man or set of men can be more thoroughly acquainted with its rise, its organization, and its history, than we have every reason to believe we are. We all verily believe, and many of us know of a surety, that the religion of the Latter Day Saints, as originally taught by Joseph Smith, which is contained in the Old and New Testaments, Book of Covenants [that is the original 1835 Doctrine & Covenants], and Book of Mormon, is verily true; and that the pure principles set forth in those books, are the immutable and eternal principles of Heaven, and speaks a language which, when spoken in truth and virtue, sinks deep into the heart of every honest man…We are earnestly seeking to explode the vicious principles of Joseph Smith, and those who practice the same abominations and whoredoms; which we verily know are not accordant and consonant with the principles of Jesus Christ and the Apostles; and for that purpose, and with that end in view, with an eye single to the glory of God, we have dared to gird on the armor, and with god at our head, we most solemnly and sincerely declare that the sword of truth shall not depart from the thigh, nor the buckler from the arm, until we can enjoy those glorious privileges which nature’s God and our country’s laws have guarantied to us–freedom of speech, the liberty of the press, and the right to worship God as seemeth us good.’
(The Nauvoo Expositor, June 7, 1844) 

As tempting as it might be to chuckle at the amusing irony of a church that claims that all other churches (other than theirs of course) need to be restored to their pure and primitive state, actually needs to be restored to it’s pure and primitive state itself, it’s still a fact. Mormons like D. Michael Quinn, Rock Waterman, Denver Snuffer, and many others see this clearly and have been lobbying for it for years – though I don’t think that many mainstream Christians would completely agree with their vision of what a truly reformed Mormon Church would or should look like.

And while I know that the idea of a “Reformation not destruction” stance isn’t popular among Christian critics of Mormonism – a fact I found out quickly when I asked for feedback on the concept on social media and promptly got thrown back about a mile by the explosive “Destruction not reformation!” outcries – I would ask the reader to still give the idea some thought and consideration despite how incredible it may sound to you now. And as you consider the question, I would point you to the precedence of the Quakers, The Shepherding Movement, and the World Wide Church of God churches as examples of full reformations and the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (aka “RLDS”) as an example of partial reformation.

And to those who are still reluctant to consider a “Reformation not destruction” stance I would ask you to consider a few things:

1) Some at BYU have already taken baby steps toward reform distancing themselves from some Mormonism’s most blasphemous doctrines. They’re also putting a greater emphasis on grace. No, it’s not perfect, and yes, there are still a lot of problems – there is both good reason for hope and good cause for concern at this point. However, if this trend continues (and if they don’t get excommunicated) this could possibly lead to even greater reform over time;

2) There are reformers aplenty in the LdS Church right now. I’ve only mentioned three, there are more. And the engine of internal reformation just seems to be gathering steam. It’s been said that Mormonism is not only emptying out, but it’s also hollowing out and that, combined with the Neo-Orthodoxy movement within Mormonism, is any indication it looks like we’re in for quite a ride!

3) The stranglehold that Mormon Leaders have traditionally had on members of the LdS Church is waning. Yes, it’s alive and well and living in Chapel Mormonism, but one need only engage Mormons outside of those chapel walls to realize that many, if not most, members of the LdS Church in private will decide for themself whether they take or leave whatever the Brethren have to say on any given matter. As one Mormon Researcher said well,

The religion of Mormonism is hollowing out…there is a mass apostasy going on, intellectually and mentally speaking. People are leaving the LDS Church without leaving the LDS Church. Without asking probing questions, I can’t assume any Mormon I talk to even believes in the existence of God or the resurrection of Jesus. Even the Mormons who aren’t closet atheists are largely latent atheists (or agnostics) without knowing it.
(Aaron Shafovaloff, “The Creed of Practical Mormon Atheism”, Mormonism Research Ministry, March 14, 2013)

What if the institution were swayed in such a way that it was reformed to comply with biblical authority and absolutes? Is it just possible, that we could see far less latent atheists and agnostics sitting in Mormon pews? Personally, I think we will. Yes, you may call me a dreamer, but I’m not the only one – and I have learned the hard way to never put limits on the power and sovereignty of God, He is, after all, God, right?

4) If the LdS Church were to fully reform it would be a completely different organization than it is today. Spoken plainly it would cease to exist just as the World Wide Church of God ceased to exist after it became Grace Communion International. So in a sense, one could say that “Reformation of the LdS Church = Destruction of the LdS Church”. So if you’re really, really, really committed to the destruction of the LdS Church as we know it today perhaps one of the best things you could do to advance your agenda would be to push for reform!

But regardless of your stance, motivation, or idea of what the ideal reformed LdS Church would look like, this just makes sense, doesn’t it? I’m going to end this appeal the way that I began it – with this question, how inclined would you be to listen to someone whose goal is the destruction of your church? So friend, if you find that Mormons don’t listen to you and your good arguments, then … well, do I really need to finish that thought?

And if they don’t then I suspect that the words of Christ are just as applicable to Mormons as they are to us:

“I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God. Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you.”
(Revelation 3:1b-3 NKJV) 

12th Street, Detroit during the July 23, 1967, Detroit Riots that lead to millions of dollars of destruction and loss of life. (photo credit: Keystone Pictures USA/Alamy)

(portions of this material previously appeared in a slightly different form in Fred W. Anson, “Weak Arguments #6: “Mormon doctrine was heretical from the very beginning.”, Beggar’s Bread website November 16, 2014; it has been lightly edited and expanded for this new context and setting)

“If history has shown us one thing, it’s that today’s Mormonism is tomorrow’s dustbin fodder”

by Fred W. Anson
The Church of Jesus Christ claims, “The gospel has been known throughout eternity, and its principles have been preached among men and women from their beginnings on this earth.” (Robert L. Millet, “The Eternal Gospel”, Ensign, July 1996) and “The gospel of Jesus Christ is a divine and perfect plan. It is composed of eternal, unchanging principles, laws, and ordinances which are universally applicable to every individual regardless of time, place, or circumstance. Gospel principles never change.” (Ronald E. Poelman, “The Gospel and the Church”, Ensign, November 1984).

But history tells a different tale: The Mormon gospel is temporal and constantly changing. Here’s a partial list of Mormon Doctrine, scripture, and bits and various pieces that have been left on the dustbin of history. This is the seventh in this ongoing, intermittent series of articles.

30) Women holding, partaking, and practicing Priesthood authority.
Renowned Mormon Studies Scholar, D. Michael Quinn explains;

For 150 years Mormon women have performed sacred ordinances in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Every person who has received the LDS temple endowment knows that women perform for other women the “initiatory ordinances” of washing and anointing.1 Fewer know that LDS women also performed ordinances of healing from the 1840s until the 1940s.2 Yet every Mormon knows that men who perform temple ordinances and healing ordinances must have the Melchizedek priesthood. Women are no exception.3

Two weeks after he organized the Female Relief Society of Nauvoo, Illinois, Joseph Smith announced his intention to confer priesthood on women. He told them on 30 March 1842 that “the Society should move according to the ancient Priesthood” and that he was “going to make of this Society a kingdom of priests as in Enoch’s day—as in Paul’s day.” In printing the original minutes of the prophet’s talk after his death, the official History of the Church omitted Joseph’s first use of the word “Society” and changed the second “Society” to “Church.” Those two alterations changed the entire meaning of his statement. More recently an LDS general authority removed even these diminished statements from a display in the LDS Museum of Church History and Art which commemorated the sesquicentennial of the Relief Society.

On 28 April 1842 the prophet returned to this subject. He told the women that “the keys of the kingdom are about to be given to them that they may be able to detect everything false, as well as to the Elders.” The keys “to detect everything false” referred to the signs and tokens used in the “true order of prayer,” still practiced in LDS temples. Then Joseph Smith said, “I now turn the key to you in the name of God, and this society shall rejoice, and knowledge and intelligence shall flow down from this time …” For nineteenth-century LDS women, Joseph’s words were prophecy and inspiration to advance spiritually, intellectually, socially, professionally, and politically.

Mormon women did not request priesthood—Joseph Smith would soon confer it on them as part of the restoration of the gospel. His private journal, called the Book of the Law of the Lord, specified the priesthood promise in his instructions to the women on 28 April 1842: “gave a lecture on the pries[t]hood shewing [sic] how the Sisters would come in possession of the privileges & blessings & gifts of the priesthood & that the signs should follow them. such as healing the sick casting out devils &c. & that they might attain unto these blessings. by a virtuous life & conversation & diligence in keeping all the commandments.” Joseph clearly intended that Mormon women in 1842 understand their healings were to be “gifts of the priesthood,” not simply ministrations of faith.

Apostle Dallin H. Oaks observed in a 1992 general conference talk, “No priesthood keys were delivered to the Relief Society. Keys are conferred on individuals, not organizations.” The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve as organizations are not even exempt from the limitation he describes for the Relief Society. Elder Oaks noted, for instance, that “priesthood keys were delivered to the members of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, not to any organizations.”
(D. Michael Quinn, “Mormon Women Have Had the Priesthood Since 1843”, Chapter 17 of “Women and Authority: Re-emerging Mormon Feminism”, Maxine Hanks, editor)

Quinn then goes on to explain how and why the Priesthood was slowly but surely denied to Mormon women:

By the early 1880s death had taken all the general authorities who had specifically stated that the endowment conferred priesthood upon women. Joseph and Hyrum Smith died in 1844, and John Smith joined them a decade later. Heber C. Kimball died in 1868, and Brigham Young in 1877. Sidney Rigdon had been excommunicated in 1844 but continued to affirm Nauvoo’s “female priesthood” until his death in 1876. In 1881, both Orson Pratt and Joseph Young died.

By 1888 Mormon misogyny was linked with denials of women’s authority, and this resulted in a public comment by Apostle Franklin D. Richards. He said: “Every now and again we hear men speak tauntingly of the sisters and lightly of their public duties, instead of supporting and encouraging them.” Apostle Richards added: “There are also some who look with jealousy upon the moves of the sisters as though they might come to possess some of the gifts, and are afraid they [LDS women] will get away with some of the blessings of the gospel which only men ought to possess.” Because of this “envy and jealousy,” Apostle Richards said some Mormon men “don’t like to accord to them [Mormon women] anything that will raise them up and make their talents to shine forth as the daughters of Eve and Sarah.” Franklin D. Richards is the only general authority to publicly acknowledge that jealousy and fear are the basis for the opposition of some Mormon men against the spiritual growth of all Mormon women.
(Ibid)

In current Mormon Theology Mormon women only have the Priesthood through her husband rather than apart from him, as Quinn explains:

In today’s church a woman who has received the temple endowment has more priesthood power than a boy who holds the office of priest. However, the priest has more permission to exercise his priesthood than does the endowed woman to exercise hers.
(Ibid)

31) The Mormon gospel law of Mormon men forbidden to marry black women.
LdS President and Living Prophet  Brigham Young, couldn’t have been clearer in his March 8, 1863, Mormon Tabernacle address:

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. (Brigham Young, “The Persecutions of the Saints—Their Loyalty to the Constitution—the Mormon Battalion—the Laws of God Relative to the African Race”, Journal of Discourses 10:110)

In 1954, Mormon Apostle, Mark E. Peterson’s rhetoric was less extreme but still to the point:

“I think I have read enough to give you an idea of what the Negro is after. He is not just seeking the oppor[t]unity of sitting down in a café where white people sit. He isn’t just trying to ride on the same streetcar or the same Pullman car with white people. From this and other interviews I have read, it appears that the Negro seeks absorption with the white race. He will not. be satisfied until he achieves it by intermarriage. That is his objective and we must face it. We must not allow our feelings to carry us away, nor must we feel so sorry for Negroes that, we will open our arms and embrace them with everything we have. Remember the little statement that they used to say about sin, “First we pity, then endure, then embrace.”’
(Mark E. Peterson, “Race Problems – As They Affect the Church”, Address By Elder Mark E. Petersen Given At: The Convention of Teachers of Religion On The College Level, Provo, Utah, August 27, 1954)

An inter-racial couple takes wedding photos in front of the Salt Lake Temple.

“When He placed the mark upon Cain, He engaged in segregation. When he told Enoch not to preach the gospel to the descendants of Cain who were black, the Lord engaged in segregation. When He cursed the descendants of Cain as to the Priesthood, He engaged in segregation. When He forbade intermarriages as He does in Deuteronomy, Chapter 7, He established segregation. You remember when the Israelites were about to come into Palestine and there were evil nations there, the Lord was anxious to preserve his people by an act of segregation. He commanded His people Israel: “Neither shalt thou make marriages with them. Thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son.” It was a law for the preservation of Israel and it certainly was an act of segregation.”
(Ibid)

“The Lord segregated the people both as to blood and place of residence, at least in the bases of the Lamanites and the Negroes we have the definite word of the Lord himself that He placed a dark skin upon then: as a curse — as a sign to all others. He forbade inter-marriage with them under threat of extension of the curse (2 Nephi 5:21) And He certainly segregated the descendants of Cain when He cursed the Negro as to the Priesthood, and drew an absolute line. You may even say He dropped an iron curtain there. The Negro was cursed as to the Priesthood, and therefore, was cursed as to the blessings of the Priesthood. Certainly God made a segregation there.”
(Ibid)

“Now what is our policy in regard to intermarriage? As to the Negro, of course, there is only one possible answer. We must not intermarry with the Negro.”
(Ibid)

But in today’s LdS Church not only are inter-racial marriages common but as of June 1, 1978, no one can be denied the Mormon Priesthood based on their race.

32) Couples should refrain from physical intimacy a week or so before attending the Temple.
Church archives document the prerequisites for Temple work during the 19th Century.

From 1868: 
“Pres[iden]ts [Brigham] Y[oung][,] [Heber C.] K[imball] & [Daniel H.] W[ells] Spoke on the impropriety of our youth marrying [for time], instead of getting sealed [for eternity]; also spoke of cleanliness in person before going to get their endowments; a woman should not go for a week after her menses were upon her; a man should not have intercourse with his wife for several days; but should be clean in body and exercised in spirit previous thereto. His clothing should be changed once or twice before going there. —Historian’s Office Journal, Jan. 31, 1868″
(Devery S. Anderson. “The Development of LDS Temple Worship, 1846-2000: A Documentary History”, Signature Books, Kindle Edition location 1470-1482, bolding added for emphasis)

From 1877:
“We herein embody a few instructions which we wish you to strictly enjoin upon the brethren and sisters who come to the Temple to officiate for themselves or their friends: Those who wish to receive endowments for themselves or friends should be provided with oil or means to purchase it. The sisters should be provided with two or three white skirts and the brethren should have their garments to button from the back, clear round and up the front, and skirts made to reach down to the knees or a little below or one may be pieced to this length for the occasion. Before the brethren or sisters go into the Temple to receive their endowments; they must wash themselves all over, perfectly clean, so as to enter the Temple clean. Men and women should have no sexual intercourse for a week or more previous to their going into the Temple to receive their endowments. —Brigham Young, John W. Young, Wilford Woodruff, Erastus Snow, and Brigham Young Jr. to Bishops, Jan. 13, 1877″
(Ibid, location 1649-1651, bolding added for emphasis)

Today, no such restrictions exist.

33) During his earthly ministry Jesus Christ was not only married but also a polygamist in order to fulfill all righteousness in modeling and demonstrating the Plan of Salvation for us – acts which eventually lead to His persecution and crucifixion.
This doctrinal principle was clearly taught in a  discourse by Mormon Apostle, Jedediah M. Grant in the Salt Lake City Tabernacle on Aug. 7, 1853:

The grand reason of the burst of public sentiment in anathemas upon Christ and his disciples, causing his crucifixion was evidently based upon polygamy, according to the testimony of the philosophers who rose in that age. A belief in the doctrine of a plurality of wives caused the persecution of Jesus and his followers. We might almost think they were “Mormons”.
(Jedediah M. Grant, “Uniformity” “Journal of Discourses” 1:346)

And this teaching was validated and reaffirmed in a circa 1857, Salt Lake City address by the President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Orson Hyde:

“It will be borne in mind that once on a time, there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and on a careful reading of that transaction, it will be discovered that no less a person than Jesus Christ was married on that occasion. If he was never married, his intimacy with Mary and Martha, and the other Mary also whom Jesus loved, must have been highly unbecoming and improper to say the best of it. I will venture to say that if Jesus Christ were now to pass through the most pious countries in Christendom with a train of women, such as used to follow him, fondling about him, combing his hair, anointing him with precious ointment, washing his feet with tears, and wiping them with the hair of their heads and unmarried, or even married, he would be mobbed, tarred, and feathered, and rode, not on an ass, but on a rail. What did the old Prophet mean when he said (speaking of Christ), “He shall see his seed, prolong his days, &c.” Did Jesus consider it necessary to fulfil every righteous command or requirement of his Father? He most certainly did. This be witnessed by submitting to baptism under the hands of John. “Thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness,” said he. Was it God’s commandment to man, in the beginning, to multiply and replenish the earth? None can deny this, neither that it was a righteous command; for upon an obedience to this, depended the perpetuity of our race. Did Christ come to destroy the law or the Prophets, or to fulfil them? He came to fulfil. Did he multiply, and did he see his seed? Did he honour his Father’s law by complying with it, or did he not? Others may do as they like, but I will not charge our Saviour with neglect or transgression in this or any other duty. At this doctrine the long-faced hypocrite and the sanctimonious bigot will probably cry, blasphemy! Horrid perversion of God’s word! Wicked wretch! He is not fit to live! &c, &c. But the wise and reflecting will consider, read, and pray. If God be not our Father, grandfather, or great grandfather, or some kind of a father in reality, in deed and in truth, why are we taught to say, “Our Father who art in heaven?” How much soever of holy horror this doctrine may excite in persons not impregnated with the blood of Christ, and whose minds are consequently dark and benighted, it may excite still more when they are told that if none of the natural blood of Christ flows in their veins, they are not the chosen or elect of God. Object not, therefore too strongly against the marriage of Christ, but remember that in the last days, secret and hidden things must come to light, and that your life also (which is the blood) is hid with Christ in God.”
(Orson Hyde, “Man the Head of Woman—Kingdom of God—The Seed of Christ—Polygamy—Society in Utah”, “Journal of Discourses” 4:259)

What did the old Prophet mean when he said (speaking of Christ), “He shall see his seed, prolong his days, &c.” Did Jesus consider it necessary to fulfil every righteous command or requirement of his Father? He most certainly did. This be witnessed by submitting to baptism under the hands of John. “Thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness,” said he. Was it God’s commandment to man, in the beginning, to multiply and replenish the earth? None can deny this, neither that it was a righteous command; for upon an obedience to this, depended the perpetuity of our race. Did Christ come to destroy the law or the Prophets, or to fulfil them? He came to fulfil. Did he multiply, and did he see his seed? Did he honor his Father’s law by complying with it, or did he not? Others may do as they like, but I will not charge our Savior with neglect or transgression in this or any other duty.
(Ibid, p.260)

But today, hardly a peep is said about this essential aspect of fulfilling all righteousness by obedience to the Plan of Salvation. And so it goes: swish, swish, swish when polygamy is a requirement of the gospel, the doctrine is taught. But should the requirement suddenly change – by say, Official Declaration 1 in 1890, for example – then swish, swish, swish it goes right into the dustbin.  Thus the only certainty in Mormonism is that it’s sure to change. And into the rubbish bin goes what was once essential doctrine it lands in the pile marked “heresy.”

Reconsidering Mormon Spiritual Conversion

Edward Henry Corbould, “Saul And The Witch Of Endor” (1860)

“For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect.”
— Mark 13:22 (KJV)

 by Michael Flournoy
In a YouTube video entitled “The Scripture That Saved My Life From Human Traffickers”, Tim Ballard tells a story about going undercover to gain intel on human traffickers.

As he finished his mission, the traffickers decided to kill him and his fellow operatives in order to acquire their belongings. Tim went to his car and grabbed his worn-out Book of Mormon. In the midst of the chaos, he remembered Alma 58:11,

“Yea, and it came to pass that the Lord our God did visit us with assurances that he would deliver us; yea, insomuch that he did speak peace to our souls, and did grant unto us great faith, and did cause us that we should hope for our deliverance in him.”

 Tim Ballard got out of the car and was surprised to find the traffickers had left. In the video, he says, “There’s power in just holding the book.” Tens of thousands of Latter-day Saints claim they’ve gained a spiritual witness that The Book of Mormon is true. This testimony comes by utilizing “Moroni’s Promise” in Moroni 10:3-5,

“Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.

And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.

And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.”

The Book of Mormon compels the reader to abandon logic, and instead balance their testimony of the restored gospel on the tightrope of subjective feeling. Faith-promoting experiences are a dime a dozen in Mormonism. Parents get uneasy feelings and discover their toddler’s mere steps from busy roadways. The men use the priesthood to heal the sick. Those who pay their last pennies on tithing get magical checks in the mail that cover their expenses. Under this mountain of spiritual evidence, one must conclude that Mormonism is true, right? Not so fast, hold your cureloms! It turns out even non-LDS folks experience these spiritual events.

I once worked with a lesbian named Kourtney who didn’t believe in God. Instead, she believed in the universe. One day she said she asked the universe for money and found 20 dollars on the side of the road. I chastised God inwardly. “Where’s my 20 dollars?” I asked. I was an obedient member of the true church. If anyone deserved 20 dollars, it was me. “Don’t you know she’s living in sin, God? Besides, she believes in the universe. You know this is going to reinforce her false beliefs, so why bless her?” My black and white viewpoint couldn’t make sense of the situation. God was supposed to reward the righteous and punish the wicked. My mistake, it turned out, was trying to force God inside a box. In Matthew 5:44-45 (KJV) Jesus says:

“But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.”

 The problem with this is it dismantles most of the experiences used to justify the LDS church. Luckily, there are still miracles. Certainly, the act of casting out demons and priesthood healing is evidence of the validity of the restored gospel, right? Wrong again. Deuteronomy 13:1-3 (KJV) says:

“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.”

This passage makes it clear that a sign or wonder can be employed by a false prophet. Pharaoh’s magicians were able to perform miracles. They made a stick turn into a snake and turned water into blood. If Moses hadn’t been there, it would have been easy to assume these magicians had God on their side.

Joseph Smith certainly could have produced a book that gave individuals a burning in the bosom, whether it was true or not. But what about the temple? What about all the stories about spirits appearing to family members and thanking them for doing their ordinances? That’s problematic as well.

In 1 Samuel 28, Saul asks a witch to conjure up the deceased Samuel so he can speak to him. The spirit of Samuel appears and foretells of Saul’s death. According to the LDS Church’s Bible Dictionary, under the heading Samuel we read:

“The account in 1 Sam. 28:5–20 of the prophet being brought back from the dead by the witch of Endor, at King Saul’s request, presents a problem. It is certain that a witch or other medium cannot by any means available to her bring up a prophet from the world of spirits. We may confidently be assured that if Samuel was present on that occasion, it was not due to conjuring of the witch. Either Samuel came in spite of and not because of the witch, or some other spirit came impersonating him.”

The fact that it can’t be definitely stated whether it was Samuel or another spirit is terrifying. This means evil spirits are so good at impersonating people, that it’s impossible to tell the difference. So when you see a spirit in the temple, how can you be certain it’s not a demon in disguise?

The Book of Mormon prophecies of itself in 2 Nephi 26:16:

“For those who shall be destroyed shall speak unto them out of the ground, and their speech shall be low out of the dust, and their voice shall be as one that hath a familiar spirit; for the Lord God will give unto him power, that he may whisper concerning them, even as it were out of the ground; and their speech shall whisper out of the dust.”

The fact that it expressly mentions familiar spirits in conjunction with the coming forth of The Book of Mormon should tell you all you need to know. This is as a well known early Mormon Apostle once infamously said:

“Willard Richards (1804–54), [a future LDS Church Apostle and] son of Joseph and Rhoda Howe Richards, became acquainted with the gospel in 1835 when he received a copy of the Book of Mormon near Boston, Massachusetts. “God or the devil has had a hand in that book,” he said, “for man never wrote it.”
(D. Michael Quinn, “They Served: The Richards Legacy in the Church,” Ensign, Jan. 1980, p.25)

Since a familiar spirit is a demon, that settles the dispute.

Let’s return to the story I shared at the beginning of the article. Even if God was sending inspiration to Tim Ballard through Alma 58:11, it’s still not a point for Mormonism. We need to stop mistaking the tree for the forest. The experience Tim shares about isn’t about a book, it’s about a principle. Alma 58:11 talks about assurance, and ironically, that’s the one thing Mormons don’t have. Latter-day Saints must obey God’s commandments. They must eradicate their sins. They must pay 10% of their incomes to the Church. They must endure to the end. This is nothing short of human trafficking on a spiritual level.

I invite all Latter-day Saints to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior. His grace is free, and it endures forever on our behalf. Only Christ can speak peace to our souls – thanks to His vicarious atonement we can hope for deliverance in Him.

“Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath: That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the veil.”
Hebrews 6:17-19 (KJV)

“If history has shown us one thing, it’s that today’s Mormonism is tomorrow’s dustbin fodder”

by Fred W. Anson
The Church of Jesus Christ claims, “The gospel has been known throughout eternity, and its principles have been preached among men and women from their beginnings on this earth.” (Robert L. Millet, “The Eternal Gospel”, Ensign, July 1996) and “The gospel of Jesus Christ is a divine and perfect plan. It is composed of eternal, unchanging principles, laws, and ordinances which are universally applicable to every individual regardless of time, place, or circumstance. Gospel principles never change.” (Ronald E. Poelman, “The Gospel and the Church”, Ensign, November 1984).

But history tells a different tale: The Mormon gospel is temporal and constantly changing. Here’s a partial list of Mormon Doctrine, scripture, and bits and various pieces that have been left on the dustbin of history. This is the sixth in this ongoing, intermittent series of articles.

24) God has always been God.
Originally the gospel truth in Mormonism about God was that He was always God. Psalms 90:2 and Moroni 8:18 reflect this and Missionaries taught this truth about God for several years. For example, the 1835 Lectures on Faith, Lecture three clearly states:

The Lectures on Faith, Lecture 3
13. First, he was God before the world was created, and the same God he was after it was created…

15. Thirdly, he does not change, neither does he vary; but he is the same from everlasting to everlasting, being the same yesterday, today, and forever; and his course is one eternal round, without variation.

And the immutability of God was consistently still reaffirmed in the other unique Mormon scripture of the day. Specifically:

“God is not a partial God, neither a changeable being; but he is unchangeable from all eternity to all eternity.”
(Moroni 8:18)

“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.”
(2 Nephi 27:23)

“And I do this that I may prove unto many that I am the same yesterday, today, and forever.”
(2 Nephi 29:9)

“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 9:9)

“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.”
(Mormon 9:19)

“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.”
(Moroni 7:22)

“The Lord Omnipotent who reigneth, who was, and is from all eternity to all eternity…”
(Mosiah 3:5)

“By these things we know that there is a God in heaven, who is infinite and eternal, from everlasting to everlasting the same unchangeable God, the framer of heaven and earth, and all things which are in them.”
(D&C 20:17, 1830)

“From eternity to eternity he is the same and years never fail…”
(D&C 76:4, February 16, 1832) 

But this doctrine was dramatically changed by Joseph Smith in 1844 in both the King Follett Sermon and the Sermon Grove. Consider this excerpt from the former:

“God himself WAS ONCE AS WE ARE NOW, AND IS AN EXALTED MAN, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens! That is the great secret. If the veil were rent today, and the great God who holds this world in its orbit, and who upholds all worlds and all things by His power, was to make himself visible—I say, if you were to see him today, you would see him like a man in form—like yourselves in all the person, image, and very form as a man; for Adam was created in the very fashion, image and likeness of God, and received instruction from, and walked, talked and conversed with Him, as one man talks and communes with another.”

“In order to understand the subject of the dead, for consolation of those who mourn for the loss of their friends, it is necessary we should understand the character and being of God and how He came to be so; for 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.

These ideas are incomprehensible to some, but they are simple. It is the first principle of the gospel to know for a certainty the character of God, and to know that we may converse with Him as one man converses with another, and that HE WAS ONCE A MAN LIKE US; YEA, THAT GOD HIMSELF, THE FATHER OF US ALL, DWELT ON AN EARTH, the same as Jesus Christ Himself did; and I will show it from the Bible”
(see “The King Follett Sermon”, Ensign magazine, April 1971; caps added for emphasis)

25) The superiority of the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible over the KJV Bible.
It’s clear that Joseph Smith full intended his “inspired” translation of the Bible – known as “The Joseph Smith Translation” (JST) in the LdS Church – to displace the King James Version (KJV) when it was completed. And, yes, he did say that it was completed – not just once but twice. First, he wrote this in his personal journal, “I completed the translation and review of the New Testament, on the 2nd of July, 1833, and sealed it up; no more to be opened till it arrived in Zion” (History of the Church, vol. 1, p.324)

Then, in a letter dated July 2, 1833, signed by Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon, and F. G. Williams, the following statement is found:  “We this day finished the translation of the Scriptures, for which we return gratitude to our Heavenly Father …”
(History of the Church, vol. 1, p.368)

Further, unique Mormon scripture is filled with commandment after commandment that exalts the JST over all other English translations of the Bible and stressing the importance of its publication and distribution:

“… I have commanded you to organize yourselves, even to shinelah [print] my words, the fulness of my scriptures …”
(Doctrine & Covenants, 104:58)

“…. the second lot … shall be dedicated unto me for the building of a house unto me, for the work of the printing of the translation of my scriptures … “
(Doctrine & Covenants, 94:10)

“…. hearken to the counsel of my servant Joseph,… and publish the new translation of my holy word unto the inhabitants of the earth”
(Doctrine & Covenants, 124:89)

Further, as late as the 1980s, Mormon Apostle Bruce R. McConkie testified, the JST is “a thousand times over the best Bible now existing on earth.” (Bruce R. McConkie, “Doctrines of the Restoration: Sermons and Writings of Bruce R. McConkie”, ed. Mark L. McConkie, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1989, p.289)

Finally, the JST translation published by the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (aka, “RLDS” now known as The Community of Christ, aka “CoC”) has been validated by LdS Scholars. Thus Brigham Young’s original claim that it was maliciously corrupted by Emma Smith and the RLDS has been completely discredited. This was the conclusion of LdS Church Scholars, Scott H. Faulring, Kent P. Jackson, and Robert J. Matthews who were hand-picked by the General Authorities of the LdS Church. Robert J. Matthews, the head of the LdS Team stated in the April 1977 issue of the official LdS Church publication “New Era”:

“…research in the past few years with the original manuscripts has indicated that the Inspired Version of the Bible, published by the RLDS church, is an accurate representation of the sense of the original manuscripts prepared by Joseph Smith and his scribes. Furthermore, it seems to be increasing in use and acceptance in our church today.”
(“Q&A: Questions and Answers,” New Era, Apr 1977, p.46)

And elsewhere Matthews said:

“I have examined the original manuscript carefully, comparing every word with its published counterpart, and I feel that the printed editions by the RLDS church are correct and careful representations of the Prophet’s work.”
(Matthews, Robert J., “A Bible! A Bible!”, Ensign, January 1987; p. 90)

And yet despite all this, and in defiance of claimed commandments via revelations from God in their own scripture, the modern LdS Church continues to use the KJV Bible rather than the JST. This, despite the fact that other Mormon Denominations (such as the aforementioned RLDS/CoC) have made the JST their chosen, preferred translation for their churches. Still, into the dustbin, the JST goes! It makes no sense, does it?

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

26) God’s uniqueness lowered.
Mormonism originally taught that there is only one true Lord Almighty God as the Bible does:

And Zeezrom said unto him: Thou sayest there is a true and living God? And Amulek said: Yea, there is a true and living God. Now Zeezrom said: Is there more than one God? And he answered, No.”
(The Book of Mormon, Alma 11:26-29)

“Fear ye not; neither be afraid. Have not I told thee from that time and have declared it? Ye are even my witnesses. Is there a God besides me? Yea, there is no God; I know not any.”
(Isa 44:8 Joseph Smith Translation) 

“But the Lord is the true God; he is the living God and an everlasting King; at his wrath the earth shall tremble, and the nations shall not be able to abide his indignation. Thus shall ye say unto them, The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth, even they shall perish from the earth and from under these heavens.”
(Jeremiah 10:10-11 Joseph Smith Translation) 

However, after the aforementioned King Follet Sermon and Sermon in the Grove, Alma 11:26-31 was changed to teaching that there are many, many, many Gods – an infinite progression of gods. This planet’s God, Elohim, even has Gods above Him.

Consider Mormon Apostle, Orson Pratt in 1854:

The Gods who dwell in the Heaven from which our spirits came, are beings who have been redeemed from the grave in a world which existed before the foundations of this earth were laid. They and the Heavenly body which they now inhabit were once in a fallen state. Their terrestrial world was redeemed, and glorified. and made a Heaven: their terrestrial bodies, after suffering death, were redeemed, and glorified, and made Gods. And thus, as their world was exalted from a temporal to an eternal state, they were exalted also, from fallen men to Celestial Gods to inhabit their Heaven forever and ever.
(Orson Pratt, “The Seer”)

And Mormon Apostle, Milton R. Hunter in 1945:

No prophet of record gave more complete and forceful explanations of the doctrine that men may become Gods than did the American Prophet, and, furthermore, he definitely pointed the course which men must follow. A small portion of his teachings is as follows:

Here, then, is eternal life—to know the only wise and true God; and you have got to learn how to be Gods yourselves, and to be kings and priests to God, the same as all Gods have done before you, namely, by going from one small degree to another, and from a small capacity to a great one; from grace to grace, from exaltation to exaltation, until you attain the resurrection of the dead, and are able to dwell in everlasting burnings, and to sit in glory as do those who sit enthroned in everlasting power. . . .

They shall be heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ. What is it? To inherit the same power, the same glory and the same power, the same glory and the same exaltation, until you arrive at the station of a God, and ascend the throne of eternal power, the same as those who have gone before. What did Jesus do? “Why; I do the things I saw my Father do when worlds came rolling into existence. My Father worked out his kingdom with fear and trembling, and I must do the same; and when I get my kingdom, I shall present it to my Father, so that he may obtain kingdom upon kingdom, and it will exalt him in glory. He will then take a higher exaltation, and I will take his place, and thereby become exalted myself.”

So that Jesus treads in the tracks of his Father, and inherits what God did before; and God is thus glorified and exalted in the salvation and exaltation of all of his children.  Thus we do not become Godlike in this world, nor Gods in the world to come, through any miraculous or sudden gift, but only through the slow process of natural growth brought about as a result of righteous living. Some people may think that when they die they will instantaneously get rid of all their bad habits and become purified. Such is not the case. We can become purified in this world, and the same holds true in the next life, only through repentance; that is, overcoming our faults and sins and replacing them with virtues. Charles W. Penrose sustains these thoughts in the following words: “Men become like God not by some supernatural or sudden change, either in this world or another, but by the natural development of the divinity within. Time, circumstances, and the necessary intelligence are all that are required.
(Milton R. Hunter, “The Gospel Through the Ages”, p.116, Deseret Book Company. Kindle Edition)

And, finally, Mormon Apostle Bruce R. McConkie in 1966:

Commonly we are in the habit of considering man as a human being only and stopping there. Actually the gospel perspective is far broader. In the language of Adam, two of the names of God the Father are, Man of Holiness, and Man of Counsel (Moses 6:57; 7:35); that is, God is a holy Man, a Man who is perfect in counsel. All beings who are his offspring, who are members of his family, are also men. This applies to the pre-existent spirits, including those who rebelled and were cast out with Lucifer to suffer eternally as sons of perdition (Isa. 14:16); to embodied spirits living on earth as mortal men; to translated beings such as those who are awaiting the day of their resurrection; and to the beings whom we call angels, beings who either as spirits or having tangible bodies are sent as messengers to minister to mortal men.

Even mortal man has a higher status than a finite perspective sometimes gives him. Speaking of such earth-bound creatures the scriptures say: “What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour.” (Ps. 8:4-5.) The marginal reading, giving a more accurate translation, reads: “Thou hast made him but little lower than God [meaning Elohim].” Man and God are of the same race, and it is within the power of righteous man to become like his Father, that is to become a holy Man, a Man of Holiness.
(Bruce R. McConkie, “Mormon Doctrine (Second Edition, 1966)”, p.334)

“The Gospel Through the Ages” by Milton R. Hunter, pp.114-115 (click on image to zoom)

27) Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are/were Polygamists.
Once Joseph Smith lowered God the Father to be only an exalted human male, and that he ( Smith) could become also a god, it came as no surprise when Mormon leaders started teaching that God the Father was married to a Goddess. After Brigham Young’s public announcement in 1852 that the LDS were practicing polygamy, he defended their practice by teaching that even Jesus Himself was a polygamist. Not surprisingly Brigham endorsed the teaching that Heavenly Father was also a polygamist, and allowed several of his under officers and some others to teach such:

For example, on October 6, 1854,  Mormon Apostle Orson Hyde stated,

How was it with Mary and Martha, and other women that followed him [that is, Christ]? In old times, and it is common in this day, the women, even as Sarah, called their husbands Lord; the word Lord is tantamount to husband in some languages, master, lord, husband, are about synonymous… When Mary of old came to the sepulchre on the first day of the week, instead of finding Jesus she saw two angels in white, ‘And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou?’ She said unto them,’ Because they have taken away my Lord,’ or husband, ‘and I know not where they have laid him.’ And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away. Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master.’ Is there not here manifested the affections of a wife. These words speak the kindred ties and sympathies that are common to that relation of husband and wife…

Now there was actually a marriage; and if Jesus was not the bridegroom on that occasion, please tell who was. If any man can show this, and prove that it was not the Savior of the world, then I will acknowledge I am in error. We say it was Jesus Christ who was married, to be brought into the relation whereby he could see his seed, before he was crucified.
(Orson Hyde, “The Marriage Relations” Journal of Discourses 2:81-82)

And in the same year, Mormon Apostle Orson Pratt concurred:

“One thing is certain, that there were several holy women that greatly loved Jesus — such as Mary, and Martha her sister, and Mary Magdalene; and Jesus greatly loved them, and associated with them much; and when He arose from the dead, instead of showing Himself to His chosen witnesses, the Apostles, He appeared first to these women, or at least to one of them — namely, Mary Magdalene. Now it would be natural for a husband in the resurrection to appear first to his own dear wives, and afterwards show himself to his other friends. If all the acts of Jesus were written, we no doubt should learn that these beloved women were His wives”
(Orson Pratt, “The Seer”, p.159).

“We have now clearly shown that God, the Father had a plurality of wives, one or more being in eternity, by whom He begat our spirits as well as the spirit of Jesus His First Born… We have also proved most clearly that the Son followed the example of his Father, and became the great Bridegroom to whom kings’ daughters and many honorable Wives to be married.”
(Ibid, p.172)

A few years later on July 22, 1883, future LdS President, Wilford Woodruff recorded the words of Joseph F. Smith in his journal. At the time Woodruff was an LDS apostle while Smith was a member of the First Presidency serving as the second counselor to President John Taylor. Woodruff wrote:

Evening Meeting. Prayer By E Stephenson. Joseph F Smith spoke One hour & 25 M. He spoke upon the Marriage in Cana at Galilee. He thought Jesus was the Bridgegroom and Mary & Martha the brides. He also refered to Luke 10 ch. 38 to 42 verse, Also John 11 ch. 2 & 5 vers John 12 Ch 3d vers, John 20 8 to 18. Joseph Smith spoke upon these passages to show that Mary & Martha manifested much Closer relationship than Merely A Believer which looks Consistet. He did not think that Jesus who decended throug Poligamous families from Abraham down & who fulfilled all the Law even baptism by immersion would have lived and died without being married.
(Wilford Woodruff’s Journal 8:187, July 22, 1883, spelling left intact as cited on the Mormonism Research Ministry website)

28) Mormonism’s early Trinitarianism
The Book of Mormon does indeed state 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. Here are some key passages with caps added for emphasis:

“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.”
(Mormon 7:7)

“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.”
(2 Nephi 31:21)

“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 (Jesus) AM IN THE FATHER, AND THE FATHER IN ME, AND THE FATHER AND I ARE ONE.”
(3 Nephi 11:27)

“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.”
(2 Nephi 2:14)

“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?”
(Jacob 4:9)

…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.
(Testimony of Three Witnesses)

And then there’s this from an official LdS Church publication from 1832:

“Through Christ we understand the terms on which God will show favour and grace to the world, and by him we have ground of a PARRESIA access with freedom and boldness unto God. On his account we may hope not only for grace to subdue our sins, resist temptations, conquer the devil and the world; but having ’fought this good fight, and finished our course by patient continuance in well doing, we may justly look for glory, honor, and immortality,’ and that ‘crown of righteousness which is laid up for those who wait in faith,’ holiness, and humility, for the appearance of Christ from heaven. Now what things can there be of greater moment and importance for men to know, or God to reveal, than the nature of God and ourselves the state and condition of our souls, the only way to avoid eternal misery and enjoy everlasting bliss!

“The Scriptures discover not only matters of importance, but of the greatest depth and mysteriousness. There are many wonderful things in the law of God, things we may admire, but are never able to comprehend. Such are the eternal purposes and decrees of God, THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY, the incarnation of the Son of God, and the manner of the operation of the Spirit of God upon the souls of men, which are all things of great weight and moment for us to understand and believe that they are, and yet may be unsearchable to our reason, as to the particular manner of them.”
(Joseph Smith, Jr. (Editor), “The Evening And Morning Star”, Vol. I, INDEPENDENCE, MO. JULY, 1832. No. 2. page 12, caps emphasis mine)

But today’s LdS Church denounces any form of the Trinity in the loudest, most strident terms. Consider this from Mormon Apostle, Bruce R. McConkie:

“This first and chief heresy of a now fallen and decadent Christianity—and truly it is the father of all heresies—swept through all of the congregations of true believers in the early centuries of the Christian era; it pertained then and pertains now to the nature and kind of being that God is. It was the doctrine, adapted from Gnosticism, that changed Christianity from the religion in which men worshipped a personal God, in whose image man is made (Gen. 1:26-27; James 3:9; Mosiah 7:27; Ether 3:15; D&C 20:18; Moses 6:8-9), into a religion in which men worshipped a spirit essence called the Trinity. This new God, no longer a personal Father, no longer a personage of tabernacle (D&C 130:22), became an incomprehensible three-in-one spirit essence that filled the immensity of space. The adoption of this false doctrine about God effectively destroyed true worship among men and ushered in the age of universal apostasy”
(Mark L. McConkie (Editor), “Sermons and Writings of Bruce R. McConkie”, pp.69-70)

1830 Mormonism v. Modern Mormonism.

29)  “Divine Investiture” is well buried, as in never clearly identified as “The Doctrine of Divine Investiture.”
Here’s an explanation of this doctrine from a Latter-day Saint source:

Neal A. Maxwell summarizes the concept:

Divine investiture is defined as that condition in which –in all His dealings with the human family Jesus the Son has represented and yet represents Elohim His Father in power and authority. … Thus. .. Jesus Christ spoke and ministered and through the Father’s name; and so far as power, authority and Godship is concerned His words and acts were and are those of the Father.”

The concept was first explained in a 1916 First Presidency message drafted by James Talmage: “The Father and the Son’: A Doctrinal Exposition of the First Presidency and the Twelve”. It was “subsequently championed by Joseph Fielding Smith and, to a much greater extent, by his son-in-law.”

It is well known that the 1916 doctrinal exposition “came about as a response to questions about the Godhead.” Members were confused about conflicting views of God between the Lectures on Faith, the Book of Mormon, the Bible, and later important sources of doctrine. The doctrine of divine investiture is seen by non-Mormons as an effort to account for the modalism of the Book of Mormon, wherein the person of the Father is indistinguishable from the person of the Son, as well as to account for tension heightened by the Elohim/Jehovah distinction, a convention which, like the divine investiture concept, was created in 1916. That the Son, being Jehovah in the Old Testament, demands and accepts prayer and worship, would be awkward for LDS theology, since the Father is the one who is to be worshiped and prayed to.

Mormons Ari D. Bruening and David L. Paulsen (BYU professor) both admit this was a new doctrine, although both disagree that it was needed to reconcile Book of Mormon passages:

“None of these doctrines, excepting perhaps divine investiture of authority, was new at the time [1916]. Divine investiture of authority is the process by which the Father allows the Son or the Holy Ghost to speak in his name, as if the Son or the Holy Ghost were the Father. This doctrine provides an interesting explanation through which to understand the apparently modalistic verses in the Book of Mormon, but it certainly is not a necessary explanation; the Book of Mormon itself describes Christ as creator (see Mosiah 3:8) and as father of those who abide in the gospel (see Mosiah 15:10–11). Thus, the principle of divine investiture of authority was a new doctrine, but it was certainly not a doctrine needed to reconcile ‘contradictory Book of Mormon passages.'”

Mormon Jeffrey D. Giliam writes:

“This principle [of divine investiture] was obviously invented (at least partially) to help harmonize the doctrine that Christ is Jehovah. Thus Christ can call himself the Father whenever he wants. This doctrine has been taken to the extreme wherein we now say that all revelation since the fall of Adam has come through the Son and not the Father. If the Father wants to reveal something, He send[s] Jesus to do it (again). If the Father appears to someone, it is only to introduce Jesus and let him take over.”
(MormonWiki, “Divine Investiture”)

In other words, the doctrine was originally developed in Mormonism as an attempt to reconcile Joseph Smith’s original modalistic trinitarian with the hedonistic polytheism which came later, and then that historic reality was denied. And what better way to deny it than to just sweep it in the dustbin? So there it goes into the dustbin and right down the memory hole as if it never happened at all.

“The modern equivalent would be Jesus going to an LDS temple and doing the same thing in the distribution center.”
–Michael Flournoy

“The Son of man is come eating and drinking; and ye say, Behold a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners! But wisdom is justified of all her children.”
(Luke 7:34-35 KJV)

by Michael Flournoy
Imagine you come home on your birthday. The lights are off and as you enter the kitchen you see a cake lit with candles. All your friends and family are present and break into a jovial song of “Happy Birthday.”  They sing your name, but they aren’t singing to you. Rather, they are celebrating a cardboard cutout of you leaning against the wall. The song ends and everyone cheers. One by one everyone offers best wishes to the cardboard.

At first, you think it’s a joke. But soon the horrifying truth sets in. They really believe the cutout is you. You ask what’s gotten into them. Can’t they see they’re talking to an inanimate object? They respond angrily, accusing you of ruining their beloved’s birthday. “Who invited you anyway,” they shout. They force you out and lock the door.

In some ways, this scenario represents what the Mormon church has done to Jesus.

When I debate Latter-day Saints, I’m often accused of not being Christlike. After all, Jesus “never tore down anyone’s faith.” All he ever did was “inspire and uplift.” Sometimes I wonder if Mormons have read about Jesus in the Bible. He did all kinds of things their church would frown upon. The fact is people don’t get crucified for uplifting and inspiring others. So without further ado, let’s dive into some of the anti-Mormon behaviors of Jesus, starting with the most obvious example.

Aggression At The Temple
In John chapter 2:13-16 (KJV) we read:

And the Jews’ passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem, and found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting: and when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables;

And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise.

The modern equivalent would be Jesus going to an LDS temple and doing the same thing in the distribution center. After all, the animals for sale in John 2 were for temple rituals and the distribution center sells temple ritual clothing, among other things. Jesus going in and causing a scene would certainly land him in the bishop’s office, if not a court of love.

Making Wine
Earlier in the same chapter, there was a wedding where they ran out of alcohol. Jesus came to the rescue by changing pots of water into wine. It was of such excellent quality that the guests chided the bridegroom for holding out on the good stuff. If this happened today, the LDS church wouldn’t be thrilled. It’s against the word of wisdom to drink alcohol, and they wouldn’t want the publicity this scene would bring. To fit the Mormon mold, Jesus should have whipped up a nice apple cider, grape juice, or better yet, green jello.

Debating The Critics
Look through the New Testament and you’ll find Pharisees and Sadducees trying to corner Jesus, and he had some solid comebacks. For instance, in Mark 7 the Pharisees chide Jesus because his disciples eat without washing their hands, defiling their traditions.

Jesus shoots back that they’re defiling God’s laws with their traditions. After all, the fourth commandment is to honor father and mother, but the tradition at the time allowed Jews to designate their treasures as “Corban”. In other words, they could say it was a gift for God and this loophole allowed them to avoid the responsibility of caring for their parents. However, 3 Nephi 11:29-30 has this to say about debating:

For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another. Behold, this is not my doctrine, to stir up the hearts of men with anger, one against another; but this is my doctrine, that such things should be done away.

Mormons might argue that Jesus wasn’t contending in anger, but as we’ll see later on, He was clearly stirring His adversaries to anger. This is problematic if it is indeed the devil’s tactic.

Stirring The Pot
There are a couple of instances where Jesus seems to intentionally stir the pot. For instance, he goes to the synagogue in Luke 6 (verses 6-10) and asks if it’s lawful to heal on the Sabbath. He could have simply debated it with the Pharisees, but without waiting for an answer, He heals a man with a withered hand. The passage specifically says Jesus knew their thoughts. He knew they would get upset, but He did it anyway. If I didn’t know better, I’d think He wanted to die. It’s almost like it was His whole purpose coming to earth.

Teaching About Other Faiths
In Matthew 16:6 Jesus tells his disciples to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees. A few verses later they realize He’s warning them against their doctrine. Later He goes into more detail about the errors of the Pharisees.

The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat:  all therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not. For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.

But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, and love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi.”
(Matthew 23:2-7 KJV)

Teaching about other faiths is a huge no-no in Mormonism. You’re supposed to avoid telling people they’re wrong and rely on your own message to convert people. LDS missionaries passive-aggressively tiptoe around claiming they have “more truth” to share. Jesus, on the other hand, told the Samaritan woman she didn’t know what she worshipped in John 4:22. So Mormons shouldn’t take offense to being told they’re wrong since their critics are only following in Christ’s footsteps.

Calling Out The Pharisees
Jesus goes even farther in the following verses. Calling the scribes and Pharisees hypocrites, telling them they’re responsible for keeping people from heaven and calling them children of hell. He calls them blind guides, fools, and neglecters of mercy, justice, and faithfulness. He calls them greedy and self-indulgent  Jesus compares them to tombs that are beautiful inside, but full of death inwardly. He refers to them as a brood of vipers and for a cherry on top, He calls out their fathers as murderers. This flies in the face of the 11th Article of Faith which states:

We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.

There was no “live and let live” mentality with Christ. He didn’t just teach “more truth”. He fought aggressively against hypocrisy and false beliefs. If you’re a Latter-day Saint, you probably think I’m casting Jesus in a bad light, but I’m not. This is simply what the Bible describes Jesus saying and doing. Your religion has enthroned a false Christ. It has taken the qualities it likes and made a cardboard cutout, banishing the real Person!

I fear a deep sleep has overcome you. If the Christ I’ve shown in this article doesn’t fit in your religious box, it’s time to wake up. Open the door, and let the real Jesus in. A faux Jesus can’t save you, can He?

“Jesus going in and causing a scene would certainly land him in the bishop’s office, if not a court of love.”
— Michael Flournoy