Archive for the ‘First Vision’ Category

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“You happily put up with whatever anyone tells you, even if they preach a different Jesus than the one we preach, or a different kind of Spirit than the one you received, or a different kind of gospel than the one you believed.”
— 2 Corinthians 11:4 (NLT) 

by Fred W. Anson
It’s the Christmas season. And like most Christmas seasons Mormon Critics will no doubt set online boards aflame with the accusation that Mormons preach and worship another Jesus. Unfortunately, since the allegation is so often made without any supporting evidence it all too often leaves Latter-day Saint scratching their head in wonder. After all, what other Jesus is there than the one that they’ve been taught and know? Thankfully, some Mormon Leaders have had the integrity to speak the truth:

“As a church we have critics, many of them. They say we do not believe in the traditional Christ of Christianity. There is some substance to what they say”
— Gordon Hinckley, “We look to Christ,” Ensign (Conference Edition), May 2002, p.90

“It is true that many of the Christian churches worship a different Jesus Christ than is worshiped by the Mormons or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints”
— Bernard P. Brockbank, “The Living Christ,” Ensign (Conference Edition), May 1977, p.26

That said, here’s a topical reference that will, hopefully, facilitate discussion between the two sides, give Mormon Critics a place to send their Mormon friends for evidence to support this oft used claim, and help Latter-day Saints understand why the Mormon Jesus isn’t the Jesus preached in the Bible. 

Mormon Jesus:  Is God’s first spirit child – that is, Jesus Christ has not always been God.
Where you’ll find it
Jesus Christ is the firstborn spirit son of God.”

(Doctrines of the Gospel Student Manual”, p.9, Official LdS Church manual)

The first spirit born to our heavenly parents was Jesus Christ.”
(Gospel Principles [1986 edition], p.9, Official LdS Church manual) 

“Among the spirit children of Elohim, the first-born was and is Jehovah, or Jesus Christ, to whom all others are juniors”
(Joseph F. Smith (Mormon President), Gospel Doctrine, p.70; also cited in “Doctrines of the Gospel Student Manual”, 9-10)

“As far as man is concerned, all things center in Christ. He is the Firstborn of the Father. By obedience and devotion to the truth he attained that pinnacle of intelligence which ranked him as a God, as the Lord Omnipotent, while yet in his pre-existent state. As such he became, under the Father, the Creator of this earth and of worlds without number; and he was then chosen to work out the infinite and eternal atonement, to come to this particular earth as the literal Son of the Father, and to put the whole plan of redemption, salvation, and exaltation in operation.”
(Bruce R. McConkie (Mormon Apostle), Mormon Doctrine, p.129; also cited in Doctrines of the Gospel Student Manual”, pp.9–10)

“There is no impropriety, therefore, in speaking of Jesus Christ as the Elder Brother of the rest of humankind. That He is by spiritual birth Brother to the rest of us is indicated in Hebrews: “Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people” (Heb. 2:17). Let it not be forgotten, however, that He is essentially greater than any or all others, by reason (1) of His seniority as the oldest or firstborn; (2) of His unique status in the flesh as the offspring of a mortal mother and of an immortal, or resurrected and glorified, Father; (3) of His selection and foreordination as the one and only Redeemer and Savior of the race; and (4) of His transcendent sinlessness.

Jesus Christ is not the Father of the spirits who have taken or yet shall take bodies upon this earth, for He is one of them. He is The Son, as they are sons or daughters of Elohim. So far as the stages of eternal progression and attainment have been made known through divine revelation, we are to understand that only resurrected and glorified beings can become parents of spirit offspring. Only such exalted souls have reached maturity in the appointed course of eternal life; and the spirits born to them in the eternal worlds will pass in due sequence through the several stages or estates by which the glorified parents have attained exaltation.”
(“The Father and the Son: A Doctrinal Exposition by the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles”, Improvement Era, August 1916; condensed edition reprinted in Ensign, April 2002)

“The Father of Jesus is our Father also. Jesus Himself taught this truth, when He instructed His disciples how to pray: ‘Our Father which art in heaven,’ etc. Jesus, however, is the firstborn among all the sons of God—the first begotten in the spirit, and the only begotten in the flesh. He is our elder brother, and we, like Him, are in the image of God”
(Joseph F. Smith, “Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith”, p. 335)

Biblical Jesus: Has always been God and always will be – that is, He had no beginning and has no end.
Where you’ll find it
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
(John 1:1, KJV)

“I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.”
(Revelation 1:8, KJV)

Jesus Tempted In the Desert

Jesus tempted in the desert. According to current Mormon Doctrine these two are brothers. “The Temptation of Christ” by Ary Scheffer (c.1854)

Mormon Jesus: As God’s first spirit child, the Mormon Jesus is the “older brother” with all of God’s other spirit children – which includes you, me, all of humanity, and Lucifer (Satan).
Where you’ll find it
“In the grand council called to ratify the Father’s plan, a great difference arose. The majority, led by the First Born of the Father, our Elder Brother, Jesus the Christ, was ready to accept the plan with all its conditions. The minority, led by Lucifer, a ‘son of the morning,’ feared the isolation and the pains and ills of earth. For them Lucifer proposed that they should be sent to earth, but that provisions should be made by which they would suffer no pain and would not have to make any sacrifices. All of them would be returned with earthly bodies irrespective of their works on earth. This latter plan seemed desirable that one-third of those present favored it, in direct opposition of God’s plan. Lucifer and his followers were thrown out of the council, and as opponents of God’s plan, became the devil and his angels, who strive ever to tempt men to disobey the laws of God.”

(John A. Widtsoe (Mormon Apostle), “Joseph Smith – Seeker After Truth”, pp.156-157

“The importance of not accommodating temptation in the least degree is underlined by the Savior’s example. Did not he recognize the danger when he was on the mountain with his fallen brother, Lucifer, being sorely tempted by that master tempter? [see Matthew 4:1–11.] He could have opened the door and flirted with danger by saying, ‘All right, Satan, I’ll listen to your proposition. I need not succumb, I need not yield, I need not accept – but I’ll listen.’”
(“Pearl of Great Price Student Manual – Religion 327”, chapter entitled, “Moses 1:12 – 23 – Satan Commanded Moses to Worship Him”, Official LdS Church Education System Seminaries and Institute of Religion manual; also see “The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball”, p.163;  and “Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball”, pp.107-108, Official LdS Church manual)

“Our Father said, ‘Whom shall I send?’ (Abraham 3:27). Two of our brothers offered to help. Our oldest brother, Jesus Christ, who was then called Jehovah, said, ‘Here am I, send me’…”
(“Gospel Principles”, pp.17-18 [1997 edition], NOTE: this passage is missing from the current – that is, 2009 – edition, Official LdS Church manual)

“Satan, who was called Lucifer, also came, saying, ‘Behold, here am I, send me, I will be thy son, and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor’ (Moses 4:1).” [1997 and 2009 editions]
(“Gospel Principles”, pp.17-18 [1997 and 2009 editions], Official LdS Church manual)

“After hearing both sons speak, Heavenly Father said, ‘I will send the first.’ (Abraham 3:27).”
(“Gospel Principles” p.15 [2009 edition], Official LdS Church manual)

“The appointment of Jesus to be the Savior of the world was contested by one of the other sons of God. He was called Lucifer, son of the morning. Haughty, ambitious, and covetous of power and glory, this spirit-brother of Jesus desperately tried to become the Savior of mankind.”
(Milton R. Hunter (Mormon Seventy), “The Gospel Through the Ages”, p.15

“According to our teachings, Satan and an army of supporters were cast down to earth from the premortal spirit world. They are spirit brothers of ours, and are real persons having spirit bodies.”
(Joseph F. Merrill (Mormon Apostle), “Conference Report”, April 1941, p.49)

Biblical Jesus:  Is the creator of all –  including you, me, all of humanity, and Lucifer (Satan).
Where you’ll find it
“All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.”
(
John 1:3, KJV)

“For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.”
(Colossians 1:16-17, KJV

Mormon Jesus: Is the literal Son of God begotten by an immortal Father – this doctrine compromises the virgin birth.
Where you’ll find it

“Jesus Christ is the only begotten son of God in the flesh.”
(Doctrines of the Gospel Student Manual”, p.9, Official LdS Church manual)

“That Child to be born of Mary was begotten of Elohim, the Eternal Father, not in violation of natural law but in accordance with a higher manifestation thereof; and, the offspring from that association of supreme sanctity, celestial Sireship, and pure though mortal maternity, was of right to be called the ‘Son of the Highest.’”
(James E. Talmage (Mormon Apostle), Jesus the Christ, p.81; also cited in “Doctrines of the Gospel Student Manual”, pp.9–10)

“We believe absolutely that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, begotten of God, the first-born in the spirit and the only begotten in the flesh; that He is the Son of God just as much as you and I are the sons of our fathers”
(Heber J. Grant (Mormon Prophet), “Analysis of the Articles of Faith,” Millennial Star, January 5, 1922, p.2; also cited in “Doctrines of the Gospel Student Manual”, pp.9–10)

“Christ Not Begotten of Holy Ghost… Christ was begotten of God. He was not born without the aid of Man, and that Man was God!”
(Joseph Fielding Smith (Mormon Prophet), Doctrines of Salvation”, 1:18)

“I am bold to say to you… The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints proclaims that Jesus Christ is the Son of God in the most literal sense. The body in which He performed His mission in the flesh was sired by that same Holy Being we worship as God, our Eternal Father. Jesus was not the son of Joseph, nor was He begotten by the Holy Ghost”
(Ezra Taft Benson (Mormon Prophet), “The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson”, p. 7; “Come unto Christ”, p. 4; “Five Marks of the Divinity of Jesus Christ”, Ensign, Dec. 2001, p.8)

1972-family-home-evening

An official LDS Church manual (Family Home Evening Manual, 1972) carried the above illustration showing the figure of a man, woman, and child on page 126. LDS parents are told they should use this to explain to their children “how Jesus was the only begotten Son of God.” Daddy plus Mommy equals you; Heavenly Father plus Mary equals Jesus.

“You all know that your fathers are indeed your fathers and that your mothers are indeed your mothers you all know that don’t you? You cannot deny it. Now, we are told in scriptures that Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of God in the flesh. Well, now for the benefit of the older ones, how are children begotten? I answer just as Jesus Christ was begotten of his father. The Christian denominations believe that Christ was begotten not of God but of the spirit that overshadowed his mother. This is nonsense. Why will not the world receive the truth? Why will they not believe the Father when he says that Jesus Christ is His only begotten Son? Why will they try to explain this truth away and make mystery of it? …

“Now, little boys and girls, when you are confronted by infidels in the world who know nothing of how Christ was begotten, you can say he was born just as the infidel was begotten and born, so was Christ begotten by his Father, who is also our Father—the Father of our spirits—and he was born of his mother Mary.

“The difference between Jesus Christ and other men is this: Our fathers in the flesh are mortal men, who are subject unto death; but the Father of Jesus Christ in the flesh is the God of Heaven. Therefore Jesus, as he declared, received the power of life from his Father and was never subject unto death but had life in himself as his father had life in himself. Because of this power he overcame death and the grave and became master of the resurrection and the means of salvation to us all.

“Shall we as Latter-day Saints deny the truth and then claim that God made man in his likeness in the beginning? Shall we come under the impression that God possesses the power of creation, and yet did not literally create? He is not without his companion any more than I am without my companion, the mother of my children…

“Now, by and by you will be able to understand this far better than you can today. Some of us grandparents find it difficult to conceive the truth we want to think of something marvelous. We want to try to make it appear that God does not do things in the right way, or that he has another way of doing things than what we know, we must come down to the simple fact that God Almighty was the Father of His Son Jesus Christ. Mary, the virgin girl, who had never known mortal man, was his mother. God by her begot His son Jesus Christ, and He was born into the world with power and intelligence like that of His Father…

“Now, my little friends, I will repeat again in words as simple as I can, and you talk to your parents about it, that God, the Eternal Father is literally the father of Jesus Christ.

“Mary was married to Joseph for time. No man could take her for eternity because she belonged to the Father of her divine Son. In the revelation that has come thru Joseph Smith, we learn that it is the eternal purpose of God that man and woman should be joined together by the power of God here on earth for time and eternity.”
(Joseph F. Smith (Mormon Prophet) at the Box Elder Stake conference of December 20, 1914, as recorded in the Box Elder News”, January 28, 1915; Hoyt W. Brewster, Jr., Doctrine and Covenants Encyclopedia”, p. 398; Messages of the First Presidency” 4:330)

Biblical Jesus: Was born of a virgin via a miraculous conception. Thus God the Son was incarnated, born, and lived as a human being through that miracle without compromising Mary’s virginity in any way.
Where you’ll find it
“Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost…

Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.”
(Matthew 1:18,22-23, KJV)

Mormon Jesus: Is one of three Gods ruling the universe (among other Gods that also exist)
Where you’ll find it
“The Church’s first article of faith states, “We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.” These three beings make up the Godhead. They preside over this world and all other creations of our Father in Heaven… But where Latter-day Saints differ from other Christian religions is in their belief that God and Jesus Christ are glorified, physical beings and that each member of the Godhead is a separate being.”

(Gospel Topics article on “Godhead”, Official LdS Church website) 

“Latter-day Saints believe in God the Father; his Son, Jesus Christ; and the Holy Ghost (A of F 1). These three Gods form the Godhead, which holds the keys of power over the universe. Each member of the Godhead is an independent personage, separate and distinct from the other two, the three being in perfect unity and harmony with each other (AF, chap. 2).”
(The Encyclopedia of Mormonism, “Godhead” article, p.552)

“I have always declared God to be a distinct personage, Jesus Christ a separate and distinct personage from God the Father, and that the Holy Ghost was a distinct personage and a Spirit: and these three constitute three distinct personages and three Gods. If this is in accordance with the New Testament, lo and behold! we have three Gods anyhow, and they are plural: and who can contradict it!”
(“Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith”, p.372; also see History of the Church”, Vol. 6, p. 473) 

Trinity Triangle_edited

The Trinity Triangle: “We believe in the Triune God-Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This window uses the Latin Pater, Filius, and Spiritus Sanctus to name the persons in the Trinity. One God and Three Persons is a great mystery of the Church. The window explains that the Persons are not each other, but each is God (Deus).”

Biblical Jesus: Is, and always has been, God eternal.
In Biblical Theology God is one, and only one, eternal, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent Being that consists of three co-omnipresent, co-omniscient, co-omnipresent persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. As a form of theological short hand, the term “the Trinity” is used to describe His nature. Jesus Christ is the second person of the Trinity, God the Son. While it would require it’s own article to adequately document the biblical case for the doctrine of the Trinity, here are some key proof texts and expository points for it as a kind of appetizer. If you would like the full meal I recommend “The Biblical Basis of the Doctrine of the Trinity” by Rob Bowman. 

Where you’ll find it
“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.”

(Genesis 1:26, KJV

– Angels do not create.
– We are not made in the image of angels.
– There is no place in the Old Testament where a leader refers to himself with the term “us.”

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord.
(Deuteronomy 6:4, KJV

– In Hebrew: “shmo ishral ieue alei·nu ieue achd”. And the last Hebrew word “achd” means “united one”.

“Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre. Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.”
(Psalm 45:6-7, KJV

– This is quoted in Heb. 1:8, “But unto the Son he [God] saith, “Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.”

“Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.”
(Isaiah 6:8, KJV

– Notice the juxtaposition of “Whom shall I send” and “who will go for us?” 

“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost”
(Matthew 28:19, KJV)

– Note that there is one name and three persons.

Jesus-Baptism-Cropped

Apparently John the Baptist was a Freemason (notice the “arm to the square”) and Jesus a modern Mormon (notice the modern baptism grip).

Mormon Jesus: Earned his own salvation.
Where you’ll find it

“Even Christ himself was not perfect at first; he received not a fulness at first, but he received grace for grace, and he continued to receive more and more until he received a fulness”
(Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, p.68. See also Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith, p.153)

“God the Eternal Father, the Father of the Firstborn and of all the spirit hosts, as an exalted and glorified Being, having all power and dominion, possessing all knowledge and all truth, personifying and being the embodiment of all godly attributes, did, of his own will, ordain and establish the plan of salvation whereby Christ and all his other spirit children might have power to advance and progress and become like him.

(Bruce R. McConkie (Mormon Apostle), “Bruce R. McConkie: Highlights From His Life & Teachings. (Eborn Books Mormon Classics Series, Volume 6)”, p.354)

“These laws [of salvation], instituted by the father, constitute the gospel of God, which gospel is the plan by which all of his spirit children, Christ included, may gain eternal life.”
(Bruce R. McConkie (Mormon Apostle), “Doctrinal New Testament Commentary”, 2:215) 

“Jesus Christ is the Son of God… He came to earth to work out his own salvation.”
(Bruce R. McConkie (Mormon Apostle), “Doctrinal New Testament Commentary”, 3:238) 

Biblical Jesus: As God, Christ required no salvation.
Where you’ll find it
“And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin.”
(
1 John 3:5, KJV)

“For we have not an high priest [that is, Christ] which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.”
(
Hebrews 4:15, KJV)

“For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him”
(2 Corinthians 5:21, KJV

Mormon Jesus:  Christ came to condemn and exact judgment.
Mormon Jesus: Returned to the earth to preach to the Book of Mormon people and start a separate church for them in America.
Where you’ll find it
In the Book of Mormon Jesus descends from the clouds exacting judgment on the cities that he’s condemned due to their unbelief and sin. He then delivers a sermon (comprised mainly of plagiarized text from Isaiah and Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount narrative) that establishes his church on the American continent before ascending to heaven again in anticipation of establishing his eternal kingdom on earth at the end of the age. 

3 Nephi 9:1-22, Book of Mormon
And it came to pass that there was a voice heard among all the inhabitants of the earth, upon all the face of this land, crying:

Wo, wo, wo unto this people; wo unto the inhabitants of the whole earth except they shall repent; for the devil laugheth, and his angels rejoice, because of the slain of the fair sons and daughters of my people; and it is because of their iniquity and abominations that they are fallen!

Behold, that great city Zarahemla have I burned with fire, and the inhabitants thereof.

And behold, that great city Moroni have I caused to be sunk in the depths of the sea, and the inhabitants thereof to be drowned.

And behold, that great city Moronihah have I covered with earth, and the inhabitants thereof, to hide their iniquities and their abominations from before my face, that the blood of the prophets and the saints shall not come any more unto me against them.

(credit: LDS Church)

Christ appears to the Nephites.

And behold, the city of Gilgal have I caused to be sunk, and the inhabitants thereof to be buried up in the depths of the earth;

Yea, and the city of Onihah and the inhabitants thereof, and the city of Mocum and the inhabitants thereof, and the city of Jerusalem and the inhabitants thereof; and waters have I caused to come up in the stead thereof, to hide their wickedness and abominations from before my face, that the blood of the prophets and the saints shall not come up any more unto me against them.

And behold, the city of Gadiandi, and the city of Gadiomnah, and the city of Jacob, and the city of Gimgimno, all these have I caused to be sunk, and made hills and valleys in the places thereof; and the inhabitants thereof have I buried up in the depths of the earth, to hide their wickedness and abominations from before my face, that the blood of the prophets and the saints should not come up any more unto me against them.

And behold, that great city Jacobugath, which was inhabited by the people of king Jacob, have I caused to be burned with fire because of their sins and their wickedness, which was above all the wickedness of the whole earth, because of their secret murders and combinations; for it was they that did destroy the peace of my people and the government of the land; therefore I did cause them to be burned, to destroy them from before my face, that the blood of the prophets and the saints should not come up unto me any more against them.

And behold, the city of Laman, and the city of Josh, and the city of Gad, and the city of Kishkumen, have I caused to be burned with fire, and the inhabitants thereof, because of their wickedness in casting out the prophets, and stoning those whom I did send to declare unto them concerning their wickedness and their abominations.

And because they did cast them all out, that there were none righteous among them, I did send down fire and destroy them, that their wickedness and abominations might be hid from before my face, that the blood of the prophets and the saints whom I sent among them might not cry unto me from the ground against them.

And many great destructions have I caused to come upon this land, and upon this people, because of their wickedness and their abominations.

O all ye that are spared because ye were more righteous than they, will ye not now return unto me, and repent of your sins, and be converted, that I may heal you?

Yea, verily I say unto you, if ye will come unto me ye shall have eternal life. Behold, mine arm of mercy is extended towards you, and whosoever will come, him will I receive; and blessed are those who come unto me.

Behold, I am Jesus Christ the Son of God. I created the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are. I was with the Father from the beginning. I am in the Father, and the Father in me; and in me hath the Father glorified his name.”

I came unto my own, and my own received me not. And the scriptures concerning my coming are fulfilled.

And as many as have received me, to them have I given to become the sons of God; and even so will I to as many as shall believe on my name, for behold, by me redemption cometh, and in me is the law of Moses fulfilled.

thesecondcoming_2560x1600

The Mormon view of the second coming. This is separate and distinct from him coming to the Nephites in the Book of Mormon.

I am the light and the life of the world. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.

And ye shall offer up unto me no more the shedding of blood; yea, your sacrifices and your burnt offerings shall be done away, for I will accept none of your sacrifices and your burnt offerings.

And ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit. And whoso cometh unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, him will I baptize with fire and with the Holy Ghost, even as the Lamanites, because of their faith in me at the time of their conversion, were baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and they knew it not.

Behold, I have come unto the world to bring redemption unto the world, to save the world from sin.

Therefore, whoso repenteth and cometh unto me as a little child, him will I receive, for of such is the kingdom of God. Behold, for such I have laid down my life, and have taken it up again; therefore repent, and come unto me ye ends of the earth, and be saved.”

Biblical Jesus: Came to save, not condemn the world.
Where you’ll find it
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.”
(John 3:16-17, KJV)

Biblical Jesus: The physical return of Christ is still to come, there have been no physical returns since His ascension.
Where you’ll find it
“Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.”
(Acts 1:11, KJV

“Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.”
(Revelation 1:7, KJV

So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.
(Hebrews 9:28, KJV)

When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats.
(Matthew 25:31-32, KJV

For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
(1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, KJV

“For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.”
(Matthew 16:27, KJV

And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
(Matthew 24:30, KJV

he-atoned-eng-large

The Latter-day Saint version of the atonement

Mormon Jesus: Accomplished the Atonement primarily in the garden of Gethsemane.
Where you’ll find it
“For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent; But if they would not repent they must suffer even as I; Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink—Nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men.”
(Doctrine & Covenants 19:17-19

“And lo, he shall suffer temptations, and pain of body,hunger, thirst, and fatigue, even more than man can suffer, except it be unto death; for behold, blood cometh from every pore, so great shall be his anguish for the wickedness and the abominations of his people. And he shall be called Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of heaven and earth, the Creator of all things from the beginning; and his mother shall be called Mary.”
(Mosiah 3:7-8)

“Where and under what circumstances was the atoning sacrifice of the Son of God made? Was it on the Cross of Calvary or in the Garden of Gethsemane? It is to the Cross of Christ that most Christians look when centering their attention upon the infinite and eternal atonement. And certainly the sacrifice of our Lord was completed when he was lifted up by men; also, that part of his life and suffering is more dramatic and, perhaps, more soul stirring. But in reality the pain and suffering, the triumph and grandeur, of the atonement took place primarily in Gethsemane”
(Bruce R. McConkie (Mormon Apostle), “Doctrinal New Testament Commentary” 1:774)

“Thankfully, Jesus Christ courageously fulfilled this sacrifice in ancient Jerusalem. There in the quiet isolation of the Garden of Gethsemane, He knelt among the gnarled olive trees, and in some incredible way that none of us can fully comprehend, the Savior took upon Himself the sins of the world”
(M. Russell Ballard (Mormon Apostle), “The Atonement and the Value of One Soul”, Ensign, May 2004, p.85)

“As terrible as Christ’s suffering on the cross was, perhaps it was not as great as His suffering in Gethsemane. When he sweat drops of blood as He bore the weight of all the sins of mankind, the great agony of the Atonement took place”
(Joseph C. Winther, “Because of His Love”, Ensign, April 2002, p.19)

El-Greco-Christ-on-the-cross-2

The biblical version of the atonement. “Christ on the Cross” by El Greco (c.1577 – 1579)

Biblical Jesus: Procured our atonement or redemption specifically by his death on the cross.
Where you’ll find it
“Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.”
(Matthew 20:28, KJV)

“For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.”
(Romans 5:6-10, KJV)

“For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.”
(1 Corinthians 1:18, KJV)

“For I determined not to know any thing among you,save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.”
(1 Corinthians 2:2, KJV)

“For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures.”
(1 Corinthians 15:3-4, KJV)

“And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby.”
(Ephesians 2:16, KJV)

“And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.”
(Colossians 1:20, KJV)

“Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.”
(1 Peter 2:24, KJV)

Mormon Jesus: Is never supposed to be directly prayed to.
Where you’ll find it
There need not be any confusion in our minds regarding these important things. It is important that we should know something about the Being whom we worship—the Father, for it is the Father whom we worship. We do not pray to the Son nor to the Holy Ghost; we pray to the Father, in the name of Jesus Christ, the Son, under the influence and guidance of the Holy Ghost.”
(Charles W. Penrose (Mormon Apostle), General Conference, April 1915)

“The Lord Jesus Christ teaches us to pray and covenants that answers will be forthcoming. “Therefore ye must always pray unto the Father in my name,” He declares (3 Ne. 18:19). “Pray in your families unto the Father, always in my name, that your wives and your children may be blessed” (3 Ne. 18:21).”
(L. Edward Brown (Mormon Seventy) , “Pray unto the Father in My Name”, General Conference, April 1997)

Bloch Christ the Consoler

“Christ the Consoler” by Carl Heinrich Bloch (19th Century)

Biblical Jesus: Receives both worship and prayers.
Where you’ll find it
“For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved”
(Romans 10:12-13, KJV)

“If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it”
(John 14:14, ESV)

“These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.
(1 John 5:13-15, KJV)

Mormon Jesus: Is only one of many Saviors.
Where you’ll find it
“We are not the only people that the Lord has created. We have brothers and sisters on other earths. They look like us because they, too, are the children of God and were created in his image, for they are also his offspring”

(Joseph Fielding Smith (Mormon President), “Doctrines of Salvation” 1:62)

“Sin is upon every earth that ever was created … Consequently every earth has its redeemer, and every earth has its tempter”
(Brigham Young (Mormon President), “Journal of Discourses Volume 14”, p.71)

Biblical Jesus: Is the one and only Savior.
Where you’ll find it
 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”

(John 14:6, KJV)

“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”
(1 Timothy 2:5, KJV)

“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”
(Acts 4:12, KJV)

The First Vision

Stained glass depiction of the first vision of Joseph Smith, Jr., completed in 1913 by an unknown artist (Museum of Church History and Art)

Mormon Jesus: Appeared to Joseph Smith, condemned all existing churches, and restored the only true church in what is known as “The First Vision”.
Where you’ll find it
“When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!

My object in going to inquire of the Lord was to know which of all the sects was right, that I might know which to join. No sooner, therefore, did I get possession of myself, so as to be able to speak, than I asked the Personages who stood above me in the light, which of all the sects was right (for at this time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong)—and which I should join.

I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: “they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.”

He again forbade me to join with any of them; and many other things did he say unto me, which I cannot write at this time. When I came to myself again, I found myself lying on my back, looking up into heaven. When the light had departed, I had no strength; but soon recovering in some degree, I went home.”
(Joseph Smith – History 1:17-20, The Pearl of Great Price

Biblical Jesus: Stated that He alone was true and that the gates of hell would not prevail against His Church.
Ignoring the fact that not only is there no evidence that the First Vision ever happened; an abundance of evidence that it was contrived embellished by Joseph Smith over time (see “A Documented History of Joseph Smith’s First Vision”); and the fact that it contradicts the Book of Mormon and the Bible in regard to the nature of God (see “Joseph’s doctrine of the Godhead changed”), it also contradicts the Bible in the following ways:

  1. Christ said that He is true. He never claimed in the Bible that His Church was. He further claimed that the way to the Father was by Him not His Church.
    “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”
    (John 14:6, KJV
  2. Christ said that the gates of hell would not prevail against His Church:
    “I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
    (Matthew 16:18, KJV)
    This contradicts Christ’s words in the First Vision that, “they were all wrong”.
  3. Finally, the Book of Revelation shows Christ working to reform not replace errant churches (see Revelation 2:1-3:22, KJV). 
JST_EDITED

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

Mormon Jesus: Some of Jesus’ statements and acts in scripture must be revised according to Joseph Smith’s revelations.
Mormonism accepts the Gospels and their reports of Jesus’ sayings and miracles. However, Joseph Smith felt that the Bible had been corrupted and that its text was unreliable, so he produced his own version of the Bible (called the Joseph Smith Translation or “JST”). Most of his changes were additions to the text, but in some cases Joseph deleted words and even rewrote Jesus’ sayings and acts to fit his own theology. This was done despite any source, original language manuscript support to justify them. Here are some examples:

“God is spirit” (John 4:24, KJV)
“For unto such hath God promised his spirit” (John 4:26, JST)

“Woe unto you, lawyers! for ye have taken away the key of knowledge: ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered.” (Luke 11:52, KJV)

“Woe unto you, lawyers! for ye have taken away the key of knowledge, the fulness of the scriptures” (Luke 11:52, JST)

“for they shall be filled.” (Matthew 5:6, KJV)
“for they shall be filled with the Holy Ghost.” (Matthew 5:8, JST) 

“Ye are the salt of the earth” (Matthew 5:13, KJV) 
“I give unto you to be the salt of the earth” (Matthew 5:15, JST) 

“Ye are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14, KJV) 
“I give unto you to be the light of the world” (Matthew 5:16, JST) 

“When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed” (Matthew 8:10, KJV) 
“And when they that followed him, heard this, they marvelled” (Matthew 8:9, JST) 

“be ye therefore wise as serpents” (Matthew 10:16, KJV) 
“be ye therefore wise servants” (Matthew 10:14, JST) 

mormon-bible-book

“Scriptures” by Grant Heaton

“and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: And when the sun was up, they were scorched” (Matthew 13:5–6, KJV)

“and forthwith they sprung up; and when the sun was up, they were scorched, because they had no deepness of earth” (Matthew 13:5, JST) 

“the which when a man hath found, he hideth” (Matthew 13:44, KJV) 
“And when a man hath found a treasure which is hid, he secureth it” (Matthew 13:46, JST) 

“teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” (Matthew 15:9, KJV)
“teaching the doctrines and the commandments of men.” (Matthew 15:8, JST) 

“as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them” (Matthew 18:19, KJV)
 “as touching any thing that they shall ask, that they may not ask amiss, it shall be done for them” (Matthew 18:19, JST) 

“Verily I say unto you, I know you not.” (Matthew 25:12, KJV)
“Verily I say unto you, Ye know me not.” (Matthew 25:11, JST) 

“For unto every one that hath shall be given, . . . but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.” (Matthew 25:29, KJV) 

“For unto every one who hath obtained other talents, shall be given. . . . But from him that hath not obtained other talents, shall be taken away even that which he hath received.” (Matthew 25:29–30, JST) 

“and were all baptized of him” (Mark 1:5, KJV) 
“and many were baptized of him” (Mark 1:4, JST) 

“except they wash, they eat not.” (Mark 7:4, KJV) 
“except they wash their bodies, they eat not.” (Mark 7:4, JST) 

“There shall no sign be given unto this generation.” (Mark 8:12, KJV) 
“There shall no sign be given unto this generation, save the sign of the prophet Jonah” (Mark 8:12, JST) 

“And Peter answereth and saith unto him, Thou art the Christ.” (Mark 8:29, JST) 
“And Peter answered and said unto him, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Mark 8:31, JST) 

bible-book-of-mormon-39683-gallery

“The Bible and the Book of Mormon Testify of Christ” by Greg K. Olsen

“for whosoever hath, to him shall be given; and whosoever hath not” (Luke 8:18, KJV)

“for whosoever receiveth, to him shall be given; and whosoever receiveth not” (Luke 8:18, JST) 

“passed by on the other side.” (Luke 10:32, KJV)

“passed by on the other side of the way; for they desired in their hearts that it might not be known that they had seen him.” (Luke 10:33, JST) 

“we have done that which was our duty to do.” (Luke 17:10, KJV)
“We have done that which was no more than our duty to do.” (Luke 17:10, JST) 

“And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake.” (Luke 21:17, KJV) 
“And ye shall be hated of all the world for my name’s sake.” (Luke 21:16, JST) 

“that he may sift you as wheat” (Luke 22:31, KJV) 
“that he may sift the children of the kingdom as wheat.” (Luke 22:31, JST) 

“and no man receiveth his testimony.” (John 3:32, KJV) 
“and but few men receive his testimony.” (John 3:32, JST) 

“If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true.” (John 5:31, KJV) 
“Therefore if I bear witness of myself, yet my witness is true.” (John 5:32, JST) 

“which the Son of man shall give unto you” (John 6:27, KJV) 
“which the Son of Man hath power to give unto you” (John 6:27, JST) 

“Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.” (John 8:11, KJV)
“Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more. And the woman glorified God from that hour, and believed on his name.” (John 8:11, KJV) 

“ye did not hear: wherefore would ye hear it again?” (John 9:27, KJV) 
“ye did not believe: wherefore would you believe if I should tell you again?” (John 9:27, JST) 

Biblical Jesus: Upheld and affirmed God’s revelation of Himself in scripture as divinely inspired, reliable, and authoritative.
The Bible is clear that claiming inspiration from God and speaking in His voice when God has not authorized it or given you the words to speak makes you are a False Prophet. The Bible gives several tests for a False Prophet that involve testing the content of claimed prophetic utterances against God’s existing revelation of Himself. If there’s a contradiction, then the person speaking isn’t speaking God’s words, or with God’s authority – their source is something other than God. While this principle can be found throughout the Bible, here are some key passages:

“Add thou not unto His words, lest He reprove thee, and thou be found a liar”
(Proverbs 30:6, KJV)

“If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the Lord your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. Ye shall walk after the Lord your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him.

And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he hath spoken to turn you away from the Lord your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, to thrust thee out of the way which the Lord thy God commanded thee to walk in. So shalt thou put the evil away from the midst of thee.” (Deuteronomy 13:1-5, KJV) 

But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die.

And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the Lord hath not spoken?

When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.” (Deuteronomy 18:20-22, KJV) 

“You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take anything from it” (Deuteronomy 4:2, KJV) 

“For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this Book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this Book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the Book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the Book of Life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this Book” (Revelation 22:18-19, KJV)

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17, KJV)

“The entirety of Your word is truth.” (Psalms 119:160, KJV)

“Every word of God is pure; he is a shield to those who put their trust in Him.” (Proverbs 30:5-6, KJV)

Jesus-1

Credits and bibliography:
Mormonism Research Ministry,
“Temple Square Visitor’s Guide”, p.4
Bill McKeever and Aaron Shafovaloff, Redefining the Virgin Birth: Mormonism on the Natural Conception of Jesus”
Grant Palmer, The Ancient Paths – 2nd Interview with Grant Palmer, Former LDS Institute Director”
Rob Bowman, “The Mormon View of Jesus Christ”
Matt Slick, “Verses showing the plurality of God in the Old and New Testaments”
Michael Davis, “References: Mormon vs Biblical Teachings about Jesus
Thomas E. Sherry and W. Jeffrey Marsh, “Precious Truths Restored: Joseph Smith Translation Changes Not Included in Our Bible”

BACK TO TOP

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

27 And he said, Yea.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A first edition 1830 Book of Mormon open to 1 Nephi

A first edition 1830 Book of Mormon open to 1 Nephi

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Zeezrom asking Amulek and Alma questions (Alma 11) 

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

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

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

29 And he answered, No.

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

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

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

33 And he said unto him, Yea.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

An accurate depiction of Trinitarianism

An accurate depiction of Trinitarianism

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

OLIVER COWDERY
DAVID WHITMER
MARTIN HARRIS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Polygamy is condemned in the Book of Mormon:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Salt_Lake_temple_baptismal_font

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pat Bagley, Salt Lake Tribune 5/19/2008

Pat Bagley, Salt Lake Tribune 5/19/2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

25 And little children also have eternal life.

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

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

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

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

Michelangelo's Creation of Adam from the Sistine Chapel

Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam from the Sistine Chapel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MISCELLANEOUS 
– Consumption of wine is a violation of a commandment of God (see D&C 89:5) that’s so egregious that it can result in having your access to Latter-day Saint Temples (and thereby your potential for full salvation via Celestial Exaltation) revoked. 

The Book of Mormon has Christ, the Apostles, and all Christians consuming wine in both sacred and secular fashion. In fact, Christ even commands them and us to consume wine as part of the sacrament.

3 Nephi 18:1-10
And it came to pass that Jesus commanded his disciples that they should bring forth some bread and wine unto him.

And while they were gone for bread and wine, he commanded the multitude that they should sit themselves down upon the earth.

And when the disciples had come with bread and wine, he took of the bread and brake and blessed it; and he gave unto the disciples and commanded that they should eat.

And when they had eaten and were filled, he commanded that they should give unto the multitude.

And when the multitude had eaten and were filled, he said unto the disciples: Behold there shall one be ordained among you, and to him will I give power that he shall break bread and bless it and give it unto the people of my church, unto all those who shall believe and be baptized in my name.

And this shall ye always observe to do, even as I have done, even as I have broken bread and blessed it and given it unto you.

And this shall ye do in remembrance of my body, which I have shown unto you. And it shall be a testimony unto the Father that ye do always remember me. And if ye do always remember me ye shall have my Spirit to be with you.

And it came to pass that when he said these words, he commanded his disciples that they should take of the wine of the cup and drink of it, and that they should also give unto the multitude that they might drink of it.

And it came to pass that they did so, and did drink of it and were filled; and they gave unto the multitude, and they did drink, and they were filled.

10 And when the disciples had done this, Jesus said unto them: Blessed are ye for this thing which ye have done, for this is fulfilling my commandments, and this doth witness unto the Father that ye are willing to do that which I have commanded you.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Lead photo credit: Shutterstock/braedostok

As originally published by Christian Research & Counsel and based on “Evolution of the First Vision and Teaching on God in Early Mormonism” by Sandra Tanner. This edition is a reformat and expansion  of the original article by Fred W. Anson

INTRODUCTION
Concerning Joseph Smith’s “First Vision”, seeing God the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ together, Mormon prophet and  15th President of the LdS Church, Gordon B. Hinckley said:
“…this is the pivotal thing of our story. Every claim that we make concerning divine authority, every truth that we offer concerning the validity of this work, all finds its roots in the First Vision of the boy prophet. Without it we would not have anything much to say…

This becomes the hinge pin on which the whole cause turns. If the First Vision was true, if it actually happened, then the Book of Mormon is true. Then we have the priesthood. Then we have the Church organization and all of the other keys and blessings of authority which we say we have. If the First Vision did not occur, then we are involved in a great sham. It is that simple.”
(“Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley“, p.227)

From the above quote, it is obvious that the history of Joseph Smith’s First Vision is of paramount importance.

For that reason the following documented accounts, beginning in the year 1820, have been compiled to enable the reader to determine how, and when, the First Vision actually came about.

Stained glass depiction of the first vision of Joseph Smith, Jr., completed in 1913 by an unknown artist (Museum of Church History and Art).

Stained glass depiction of the first vision of Joseph Smith, Jr., completed in 1913 by an unknown artist (Museum of Church History and Art).

OVERVIEW TIMELINE
The Evolution of the First Vision story

1820-1838
For 18 years the First Vision was of “angels”

1838-1890
First Vision of “angels” persisted in spite of the change to a vision of “God the Father and his Son” in 1842.

1890 (approx.) – today
First Vision of “God the Father and his Son”

DETAILED TIMELINE
1820
There are no known references to the First Vision recorded in the year 1820. In fact, until the year 1838, there was no mention of Joseph having seen God the Father and his Son in any newspaper or contemporary writing, including Latter-day Saint (LdS) Church publications; not even in the diaries and journals of Joseph’s closest friends and church leaders, like Brigham Young, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, Heber C. Kimball, Orson Hyde, George A. Smith, George Q. Cannon and Oliver Cowdery.

Nor was there any mention of a vision of the Father and Son in the writings of any ofJoseph’s many enemies of the period between 1820 and 1840. There is also no evidence that Joseph Smith taught that God and Jesus were separate deities with bodies prior to 1838.

1827
Jun.
 Account of Joseph Smith, Sr., and Joseph Smith, Jr., given to Willard Chase, as related in his 1833 affidavit as published by Eber D. Howe in “Mormonism Unvailed”, 1834, pp.240-248. The value of this account, while from a non-Mormon source, is the early date and the parallels it contains to the Autumn 1827 account that follows which was given by Martin Harris. Both Chase and Harris were among the earliest people to hear the story from Joseph Smith and his family, and both place the discovery of a gold book within the context of money-digging.

Autumn
Account of Martin Harris given to the Rev. John A. Clark, as related in his 1842 book “Gleanings by the Way”, W.J. & J.K. Simon, pp. 222ff.  [Microfilm copy].

The value of this account also is its early date, being related to Clark while he was a pastor in Palmyra in 1827. It contains many similarities to Harris 1859 testimony, demonstrating that Harris was consistent in what he related about Mormon origins. Like other early accounts, this one ties the discovery of a Golden Bible to Joseph’s prior practice of money-digging .

1830
Mar.
The Book of Mormon is published teaching that the Father, Son and Holy Ghost are one God (i.e. 2 Nephi 31:21; Mormon 7:7; Mosiah 15:1-5; 3 Nephi 11:27) and that Father and Son are same person (i.e. Ether 3:14).   This is validated further reiterated by the title page which says:

“…to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the ETERNAL GOD, manifesting himself unto all nations.”

The Book of Mormon also teaches that God is a spirit (Alma 18:26-28; 22:8-11).  There is no teaching in the Book of  Mormon that Father has a physical body.

Essentially the Book of Mormon teaches Modalism (also known as “Sabellianism“): that is that there are three modes or expressions of one god.

Oct.
Interview of Joseph Smith by Peter Bauder, recounted by Bauder in his book “The Kingdom and the Gospel of Jesus Christ”, printed in 1834, pp. 36-38 (See “Early Mormon Documents, vol.1“, compiled by Dan Vogel, Signature Books, 1996, pp. 16-17). Joseph Smith could give Bauder no “christian experience”, ie. no conversion experience or manifestation of saving grace in his life

1832
In Joseph’s handwritten first draft of his history, only Jesus is mentioned as appearing.
(“The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith“, compiled by Dean Jessee, Deseret Book, 2002, pp. 10-11; also see The Joseph Smith Papers)

1832-34
The Evening and Morning Star periodical, a major LdS publication, contains no mention ofJoseph’s having seen the Father and the Son.

LdS President (March 1, 1807 – September 2, 1898) Wilford Woodruff's copy of The Book of Commandments

LdS President (March 1, 1807 – September 2, 1898) Wilford Woodruff’s copy of The Book of Commandments

1833
The Book of Commandments, a chronology of revelations from God to Joseph Smith was published. This would have been a natural place to include Joseph’s first revelation. But there is no mention of the First Vision.

1834-36
The Latter-day Saints Messenger and Advocate claimed that it would be “a full history of therise of the church” (Vol. 1, p.13) and on page 42 of the same volume we read that it would contain “a correct statement of events.”

In the February, 1835, issue, Oliver Cowdery told how Joseph Smith made his first contact with God. A “messenger” appeared to him in his bedroom. No mention of the Father and the Son.

1835
Aug. 17
Doctrine and Covenants, a revision of the Book of Commandments was first introduced to the church body in a general conference on August 17, 1835.  At the end of the conference, the church “by a unanimous vote” agreed to accept the compilation as “the doctrine and covenants of their faith” and to make arrangements for its printing. Later in 1835 the book was printed and published under the title “Doctrine and Covenants of the Church of the Latter Day Saints: Carefully Selected from the Revelations of God”.

Ironically, God the Father is portrayed, not as having a physical body but, as “being a personage of spirit” in contrast to the Son who was “a personage of tabernacle” (body). (D&C, 1835, p. 53) This, in spite of the official First Vision which depicts the Father as a physical being.

Nov. 9
Joseph related his first vision to a Jewish minister. When he went into the grove to pray, two personages appeared. The second one “testified unto me that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” He “saw many angels in this vision.”
(“The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith“, pp.104-5; also see The Joseph Smith Papers)

Also in “An American Prophet’s Record”, p. 51. This account appeared in the serial printing of Smith’s history in the Millennial Star, Vol. 15, p. 396.This account has been deleted from the “History of the Church”, Vol. 2, p.304.

Nov. 14
Joseph told his story to Erastus Holmes:
“…I received the first visitation of Angels which was when I was about 14 years old…”
(“The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith“, p.113, Also in “An American Prophet’s Record”, p. 59)

This account has been changed in the “History of the Church”, Vol.2, p.312. It now reads “my first vision” instead of “visitation of angels.”

1837
Changes relating to the godhead were made in the second edition of the Book of Mormon. The phrase “the son of ” was added to several verses to distinguish between the Father and Son. (i.e. 1 Nephi 11:18, 21, 32 and 1 Nephi 13:40)

Title page from an open 1835 edition of Doctrine And Covenants

Title page from an open 1835 edition of Doctrine And Covenants

1838
Joseph Smith wrote that:
“I continued to pursue my vocation in life until the twenty-first of September one thousand eight hundred and twenty three [1820-1823. That’s three years since the First Vision, according to the official version.], all the time suffering severe persecution at the hands of all classes of men, both religious and irreligious, because I continued to affirm that I had seen a vision.”
(“Pearl of Great Price”, Joseph Smith History 1:27; also see Joseph Smith Papers [Draft 2] [Draft 3] [fair copy])

Yet, the LdS Messenger and Advocate, 1834-36, which was to be “a full history of the rise of the church,” was silent on Joseph’s having seen the Father and the Son in a vision.

1839
Joseph receives a revelation from God proclaiming “a time to come in the which nothing shall be withheld, whether there be one God or many gods they shall be manifest.” (D&C 121:28) In light of the official version of the First Vision, Joseph should have been aware of more than one God since 1820, making this an unnecessary revelation.

1840
Orson Pratt published a booklet titled, “An Interesting Account of Several Remarkable Visions”. He related that when Smith was “about fourteen or fifteen years old” he was praying in the woods when “two glorious personages” appeared. There was no indication that they were the Father and Son.
(also see Joseph Smith Papers)

1842
Mar. 1
In a letter from Joseph Smith to John Wentworth, “Two glorious personages” appeared and informed him that none of the churches “was acknowledged of God.” There was no indication that they were the Father and Son.
(Times and Seasons, Vol. 3, no.9, p.707; also see Joseph Smith Papers )

Mar. 15
Joseph’s 1838-39 version of the First Vision was published for the first time. Two personages appeared. One pointed to the other and said, “This is my beloved Son, hear him.”
(Times and Seasons, Vol. 3, no. 10, p. 748)

1843
Apr. 2
Smith dictated section 130 of the Doctrine and Covenants, which taught that God and Jesus both have bodies but not the Holy Ghost. If Joseph Smith had actually been teaching since 1820 that God had a body why did he need this revelation?

Jun. 11
Levi Richards, Journal, 11 June 1843. Following an 11 June 1843 public church meeting at which Joseph Smith spoke of his earliest vision, Levi Richards included an account of it in his diary.  The account doesn’t include most of the key elements of the official version and seems to be describing something more like a private prayer session than the ecstatic vision experience that most other accounts describe.

“Pres. J. Smith bore  testimony to the same— saying  that when he was a youth he  began to think about these  these things but could not find out  which of all the sects were right— he went into the grove  & enquired of the Lord which  of all the sects were right—  re received for answer that  none of them were right,  that they were all wrong, & that the Everlasting covena[n]t  was broken= he said he understoood the fulness of the Gospel  from beginning to end— & could  Teach it & also the order of  the priesthood in all its ram ifications= Earth & hell had opposed  him & tryed to destroy him— but  they had not done it= & they <never would>” [p. [16]]
(see Joseph Smith Papers)

Aug. 21
Interview, JS by David Nye White, Nauvoo, IL, 21 Aug. 1843; in David Nye White, “The Prairies, Joe Smith, the Temple, the Mormons, &c.,” Pittsburgh Weekly Gazette, 15 Sept. 1843, [3]. In August 1843, David Nye White, editor of the Pittsburgh Weekly Gazette, interviewed Joseph Smith in his home as part of a two-day stop in Nauvoo, Illinois. His news article included an account of Joseph Smith’s first vision. The key excerpt reads as follows:

“…Speaking of revelations, he stated that when he was in a “quandary,” he asked the Lord for a revelation, and when he could not get it, he “followed the dictates of his own judgment, which were as good as a revelation to him; but he never gave anything to his people as revelation, unless it was a revelation, and the Lord did reveal himself to him.” Running on in his valluble style, he said: “The world persecutes me, it has always persecuted me. The people at Carthage, in a public meeting lately, said, ‘as for Joe, he’s a fool, but he’s got Some smart men about him.’ I’m glad they give me so much credit. It is not every fool that has sense enough to get smart men about him. The Lord does reveal himself to me. I know it. He revealed himself first to me when I was about fourteen years old, a mere boy. I will tell you about it. There was a reformation among the different religious denominations in the neighborhood where I lived, and I became serious and was desirous to know what Church to join. While thinking of this matter, I opened the Testament promiscuously on these words, in James, ‘Ask of the Lord who giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not [James 1:5].’ I just determined I’d ask him. I immediately went out into the woods where my father had a clearing, and went to the stump where I had stuck my axe when I had quit work, and I kneeled down, and prayed, saying, ‘0 Lord, what Church shall I join?’ Directly I saw a light, and then a glorious personage in the light, and then another personage, and first personage said to the second, “Behold my beloved Son, hear him.” I then, addressed this second person, saying, “0 Lord, what Church shall I join.” He replied, “don’t join any of them, they are all corrupt.” The vision then vanished and when I came to myself, I was sprawling on my back; and it was some time before my strength returned. When I went home and told the people that I had a revelation, and that all the churches were corrupt, they persecuted me, and they have persecuted me ever since. They thought to put me down, but they hav’nt succeeded, and they can’t do it…”
(Joseph Smith Jr. interviewed by David Nye White on August 29, 1843, originally published in “The Prairies, Nauvoo, Joe Smith, the Temple, the Mormons, etc.,” The Pittsburgh Weekly Gazette, Sept. 15, 1843; reprinted in The Papers of Joseph Smith, ed. Dean C. Jessee, 2 vols. [1989–92], 1:444.; reprinted in Early Mormon Documents, ed. Dan Vogel [1992], 1:181-182; also see Joseph Smith Papers)

1844
In an account in “An Original History of the Religious Denominations at Present Existing in the United States”, edited by Daniel Rupp. Joseph Smith wrote the chapter on Mormonism and included a First Vision narrative.  In this account:  He states that he began reflecting on the importance of being prepared for the future state, but upon inquiring found a great conflict of religious opinion; There is no mention of a revival;  His age is 14-years  – putting the event at 1820; He had a vision of two personages – unidentified;  He was told that all churches are wrong and that he was to join none of them, and; He was told that a future revelation would teach him of the fullness of the gospel.
(contained in, New Mormon Studies CD-ROM, Smith Research Associates)

May 24
Alexander Neibaur, Journal, 24 May 1844. On 24 May 1844, German immigrant and church member Alexander Neibaur visited Joseph Smith in his home and heard him relate the circumstances of his earliest visionary experience:

“Joseph tolt us the first call  he had a Revival Meeting his Mother & Br & Sister got Religion, he wanted to get Religion too wanted to feel & shout like the Rest but could feel nothing, opened his Bible the first Passage that struck him was if any man lack Wisdom let him ask of God who giveth to all Men liberallity & upbraidet not  went into the Wood to pray kneelt himself down his tongue was closet cleavet to his roof— could  utter not a word, felt easier after a while= saw  a fire towards heaven came near & nearer  saw a personage in the fire light complexion  blue eyes a piece of white cloth drawn over  his shoulders his right arm bear after a w[h]ile  a other person came to the side of the first  Mr Smith then asked must I join the Methodist  Church= No= they are not my People, th all  have gone astray there is none that doeth  good no not one, but this is my Beloved  son harken ye him, the fire drew nigher  Rested upon the tree enveloped him” [p. [23]]
(Joseph Smith Papers)

1845
In the first draft of her autobiography, Joseph’s mother, Lucy Smith, remembered Mormonism starting with a visit, in 1823, by “an angel” who told him “…there is not a true church on the Earth.” Later, in the published version, she said nothing about her own recollection of the vision but simply inserted Joseph’s account from Times and Seasons.
(First draft of Lucy Smith’s family history, p.46, Church Archives; “Early Mormon Documents”, Vol. 1, p.289-290)

Brigham Young, Second LdS Church President

Brigham Young, Second LdS Church President

1852
On April 9th, 1852 Mormon Prophet Brigham Young muddies the nature of God – and thus the First Vision – waters even further by preaching his first Adam-God sermon.  This sermon is recorded in “The Journal of Discourses”, Vol. 1, pp.46-53. According to the doctrine, Adam was once a mortal man who became resurrected and exalted. From another plane, Adam brought Eve, one of his wives, with him to the earth, where they became mortal by eating the fruit of the Garden of Eden. After bearing mortal children and establishing the human race, they returned to their heavenly thrones where Adam serves as the god of this world. Later, as Young is generally understood to have taught, Adam returned to the earth to become the literal father of Jesus. Young held to this doctrine the rest of his life, dying in 1877. Some of the brethren continued to believe the Adam-God doctrine for years afterward.

Brigham Young never once mentioned the First Vision of God the Father and his Son in his 30 years of preaching as President of the Church.

1854
Speaking at the April Conference, Apostle Orson Hyde stated:
“Some one may say, ‘If this work of the last days be true, why did not the Saviour come himself to communicate this intelligence to the world?’ Because to the angels was committed the power of reaping the earth, and it was committed to none else.”
(“Journal of Discourses”, Vol. 6, p.335)

1855
Feb. 18
LdS President Brigham Young taught:
“…The Lord did not come with the armies of heaven…But He did send His angel to…Joseph Smith jun…and informed him that he should not join any of the religious sects of the day…”
(“Journal of Discourses”, Vol. 2, p.171)

Feb. 25
Apostle Wilford Woodruff preached:
“That same organization and Gospel that Christ died for…is again established in this generation. How did it come? By the ministering of an holy angel from God…The angel taught Joseph Smith those principles which are necessary for the salvation of the world…He told him the Gospel wasnot among men, and that there was not a true organization of His kingdom in the world…”
(“Journal of Discourses”, Vol. 2, pp.196-197)

Heber Chase Kimball (June 14, 1801 – June 22, 1868) was a leader in the early Latter Day Saint movement. He served as one of the original twelve apostles in the early Mormon church, and as first counselor to Brigham Young in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 1847 until his death

Heber Chase Kimball (June 14, 1801 – June 22, 1868) was a leader in the early Latter Day Saint movement. He served as one of the original twelve apostles in the early Mormon church, and as first counselor to Brigham Young in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 1847 until his death

1857
Nov. 8
LdS Apostle Heber C. Kimball seemed to be oblivious to any vision where Joseph saw God and Christ:
“Do you suppose that God in person called upon Joseph Smith, our Prophet? God called upon him; but God did not come himself and call, but he sent Peter to do it. Do you not see? He sent Peter and sent Moroni to Joseph, and told him that he had got the plates.”
(“Journal of Discourses”, Vol. 6, p.29)

1859
Interview with Martin Harris, Tiffany’s Monthly, 1859, New York: Published by Joel Tiffany, vol. v.—12, pp. 163-170. This account is included because the source, Martin Harris, was a close associate of Joseph Smith during the translation of the Book of Mormon, and one of the earliest non-family members to be introduced to Joseph’s claims. His recollections are largely uninfluenced by later published accounts of Joseph Smith and therefore likely to reflect the earliest details provided to him by Joseph Smith and his family.

In this account: The plates were found in the context of money-digging; there’s no mention of a revival; Joseph Smith is 21-years old (placing the event at 1827); and Joseph Smith retrieves plates while out with his wife but hides them in the woods.  It’s also important to note that Joseph’s family corroborated this story to Martin Harris.

1860
John Hyde, a former Mormon, is a good example of the confusion regarding who appeared to Smith. In his book, “Mormonism: Its Leaders and Designs”, p. 199, he related:
“1820…April….He [Joseph] asserts that God the Father and Jesus Christ came to him from the heavens.” However, on p.240 he states “Joseph Smith, born in 1805, sees an angel in 1820, who tells him his sins are forgiven.”

1863
Mar. 1
Apostle John Taylor explained in a sermon:
“How did this state of things called Mormonism originate? We read that an angel came down and revealed himself to Joseph Smith and manifested unto him in vision the true position of the world…”
(“Journal of Discourses”, Vol. 10, p.127)

Nov. 15
LdS Apostle George A. Smith preached:
“When Joseph Smith was about fourteen or fifteen years old…the Lord answered his prayer, and revealed to Joseph, by the ministration of angels, the true condition of the religious world. When the holy angel appeared, Joseph inquired which of all these denominations was right and which he should join, and was told they were all wrong…”
(“Journal of Discourses”, Vol. 12, pp.333-334)

1864
Nov. 15
A year later, Apostle Smith seemed to be describing the vision in a more traditional way:
“When the Lord appeared to Joseph Smith…He [Joseph] thus describes the incident: ‘In the spring of 1820…I saw a pillar of light…I saw two personages…This is my beloved son, hear him.’”
(“Journal of Discourses”, Vol. 11, pp.1-2)

1869
Jun. 20
Apostle Smith again referred to Smith’s First Vision as being of a single angel:
“He sought the Lord by day and by night, and was enlightened by the vision of an holy angel. When this personage appeared to him, of his first inquiries was, ‘Which of the denominations of Christians in the vicinity was right?’“
(“Journal of Discourses”, Vol. 13, p.77-78)

Orson Pratt was a leader in the Latter Day Saint movement and an original member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles

Orson Pratt was a leader in the Latter Day Saint movement and an original member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles

Dec. 19
Orson Pratt later teaches a narrative that conflates the prevailing single angel narrative with the two personage narrative he published in 1840:
“This was the condition of mankind before this Church arose, forty years ago. By and by an obscure individual, a young man, rose up, and, in the midst of all Christendom, proclaimed the startling news that God had sent an angel to him; that through his faith, prayers, and sincere repentance he had beheld a supernatural vision, that he had seen a pillar of fire descend from Heaven, and saw two glorious personages clothed upon with this pillar of fire, whose countenance shone like the sun at noonday; that he heard one of these personages say, pointing to the other, “This is my beloved Son, hear ye him.” This occurred before this young man was fifteen years of age; and it was a startling announcement to make in the midst of a generation so completely given up to the traditions of their fathers; and when this was proclaimed by this young, unlettered boy to the priests and the religious societies in the State of New York, they laughed him to scorn.”(“Journal of Discourses”, Vol.13, pp.65-66)

1871
Mar. 19
Orson Pratt reverts to the two personage narrative again:
“He went out to pray, being then a little over fourteen years of age…He saw in this light two glorious personages, one of whom spoke to him…saying, ‘This is my beloved Son, hear ye him.’”

(“Journal of Discourses”, Vol. 14, pp.140-141)

Dec. 10
Although, as noted previously, the two personages in Orson Pratt’s most recent sermons could be interpreted as either angels or God, his sermon on Dec. 10 of that same year he clearly identified the messenger as an angel (singular) in direct contradiction with the majority of his prior addresses and his own 1840 published account:
‘Here was Joseph Smith, a boy, his very youth ought to testify in his favor, for when the Lord first revealed himself to that little boy, he was only between fourteen and fifteen years of age. Now, can we imagine or suppose that a great impostor could be made out of a youth of that age, and one that could reveal the doctrine of Christ as he has revealed it to this generation? Would he stand forth and bear testimony that he had seen with his own eyes a messenger of light and glory, and that he heard the words of his mouth as they dropped from his lips and had received a message from the Most High, at that early age? And then, after having declared it, to have the finger of scorn pointed at him, with exclamations, “There goes the visionary boy! No visions in our day, no angels come in our day, no more revelation to be given in our day! Why he is deluded, he is a fanatic;” and to have this scorn and derision and still continue to testify, in the face and eyes of all this, while hated and derided by his neighbors, that God had sent his angel from heaven.’

(“Journal of Discourses”, Vol. 14, p.262-263)

1874
Jun. 23
President Brigham Young was still identifying the personages as messengers rather than God and Christ:
“Do we believe that the Lord sent his messengers to Joseph Smith, and commanded him to refrain from joining any Christian church…informing him that the Lord was about to establish his kingdom on the earth… Yes, this is all correct.”
(“Journal of Discourses”, Vol. 18, p.239)

Sept. 20
Orson Pratt, in contradiction to his December 19, 1871 address, reverts back to two personage version again, preaching:
“Joseph Smith…was a boy about fourteen years of age at the time the Lord first revealed himself…to him…he saw nothing excepting the light and two glorious personages…One of these personages, pointing to the other, said—’Behold my beloved Son, hear ye him.’

After this, power was given to Mr. Smith to speak, and…he said that he desired to know which was the true Church…immediately after receiving it, he began to relate it to some of his nearest friends, and he was told by some of the ministers who came to him to enquire about it, that there was no such thing as the visitation of heavenly messengers, that God gave no new revelation…he knew that he had seen this light, that he had beheld these two personages, and that he had heard the voice of one of them…and he continued to testify that God had made himself manifest to him…”
(“Journal of Discourses”, Vol. 17, pp.278-280)

1876
Dec. 31
Apostle John Taylor identifies the personages as the Father and the Son in the First Vision as follows:
“…the Father and the Son appeared to him, arrayed in glory… ‘This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased…’”
(“Journal of Discourses,” Vol. 18, pp.325-326)

1879
Mar. 2
Yet John Taylor, 3-years later, reverts to the earlier narrative stating that they were angels:
“…Joseph asked the angel which of the sects was right…the angel merely told him to join none of them…”
(“Journal of Discourses”, Vol. 20, p.167)

However, later that same day, he declares that the Father and Son appeared to Joseph in direct contradiction to his earlier address:
”When the Father and the Son and Moroni and others came to Joseph Smith, he had a priesthood conferred upon him…”
(“Journal of Discourses”, Vol. 20, p.257)

Dec. 7
John Taylor declared:
“the Lord revealed himself to [Joseph] together with his Son Jesus, and, pointing to the latter, said: ‘This is my beloved Son, hear him.’”
(“Journal of Discourses”, Vol. 21, p.161; see also p.65 for a similar message)

1880
Jan. 4
A little less than a month after his Dec. 7, 1879 John Taylor seems to contradict himself again regarding God’s true nature preaching :
“…the Lord appeared unto Joseph Smith, both the Father and the Son, the Father pointing to the Son said, ‘this is my beloved Son…'”
(“Journal of Discourses”, Vol. 21, p. 65)

Sept. 18
Orson Pratt gave his most specific identification of the personages the Father and the Son:
“…in the spring of 1820…in answer to his prayers, there was the manifestation of two of the great personages in the heavens—not angels, not messengers, but two persons that hold the keys of authority over all the creations of the universe. Who were they? God the Eternal Father and his Son Jesus Christ…”
(“Journal of Discourses”, Vol. 21, p.308)

1882
Oct. 29
Apostle George Q. Cannon seemed to start Joseph’s call with the vision of Moroni. He did mention that Joseph saw Jesus and God but did not put those experiences in the framework of the first vision:
“He [Joseph] was visited constantly by angels; and the Son of God Himself condescended to come and minister unto him, the Father having also shown Himself unto him; and these various angels, the heads of dispensations, having also ministered unto him. Moroni, in the beginning, as you know, to prepare him for his mission, came and ministered and talked to him from time to time…”
(Journal of Discourses, Vol. 23, p.362)

1883
Former Apostle, William Smith, Joseph’s brother, remembered the vision as happening in 1823. He wrote that Joseph went into the woods to pray about which church to join:
“An angel then appeared to him…He told him that none of the sects were right…”
(“William Smith on Mormonism“, by William Smith, 1883, Herald Steam Book, Iowa, pp.5-10, as printed in New Mormon Studies CD-ROM)

1884
Jan. 13
Apostle George Teasdale understood the First Vision to be “a vision of the Father and the Son.”
(“Journal of Discourses”, Vol. 25, p.13 & 18)

Jan. 28
B.H. Roberts related:
“In the Spring of 1820, Joseph Smith…was praying in the woods to the Father. He saw a pillar of light descending from heaven…In the midst of this glorious light stood two personages… ‘This is my beloved son; hear yehim.’–…for the Father had revealed the Son to him.”
(“Journal of Discourses”, Vol. 25, p.138)

An 1893 engraving of Joseph Smith receiving the golden plates and other artifacts from the angel Moroni.

An 1893 engraving of Joseph Smith receiving the golden plates and other artifacts from the angel Moroni.

1888
LdS assistant Church Historian Andrew Jenson still had the understanding that the first vision was one of angels. He published an account of the First Vision in the paper “The Historical Record”, Jan. 1888, pp.353-357.

This account is taken from the Times and Seasons account with Jenson’s comments summarizing the experience, “The angel again forbade Joseph to join any of these churches…” Jenson then reverted Smith’s narrative, “Many other things did he (the angel) say unto me which I cannot write at this time.” Note that Jenson adds the clarifying words “the angel.” When Jenson’s paper was reprinted a couple of years later this account had been changed in two places. At the spots where he identified the being as an “angel” it was changed to “the Holy Being” and “the Christ.”

CONCLUSION
Thus we see that the details of the First Vision vary in the different accounts. Early LdS leaders usually thought of the vision as one of angels, not God. They did not appeal to the first vision to establish their teaching that God has a body.

These historical records of the First Vision leave us with more questions than answers:
• If Joseph Smith’s claim to a vision in 1820 had resulted in the kind of public persecution he described, why did the story go completely unnoticed by the public media, and remain absent from the official literature of the LdS Church for 22 years?

• Why is there no mention of the 1820 appearance of the Father and the Son in all of Brigham Young’s sermons?

• If Brigham Young believed Joseph’s revised First Vision of the Father and the Son, why wouldhe continue to tell the story of a First Vision wherein the Lord sent his angels to tell Joseph not to join any of the churches?

• Why did it take more than 50 years for the revised First Vision, adding the Father and the Son, to replace the original First Vision of angels as the church’s standard teaching?

• If President Hinkley’s statement is true — ”If the First Vision did not occur, then we are involved in a great sham. It is that simple.” — are we gambling with our family’s eternal destiny by not carefully examining the documented history of the First Vision story?

NOTES
The original version of this publication that this article has expanded on can be found here: http://crcmin.org/pdfs/brochures/FirstVisionE.pdf

Research and portions of text: 
Utah Lighthouse Ministry http://www.utlm.org/onlineresources/firstvision.htm
The Institute for Religious Research http://mit.irr.org/joseph-smiths-changing-first-vision-accounts
The Joseph Smith Papers http://josephsmithpapers.org/site/accounts-of-the-first-vision