But even though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we have preached to you, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:8 NASB).
The founder of Mormonism, or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints, Joseph Smith, Jr., was born on December 23, 1805 in Sharon, Vermont. Smith was the fourth of ten children of Joseph and Lucy Mack Smith. In 1817 the family moved to Palmyra, New York (near present day Rochester).
Most of the members of the Smith family soon joined the Presbyterian Church, but young Joseph remained undecided. His argument was that all the strife and tension among the various denominations made him question which denomination was right. It was this conflict that set the stage for Joseph’s alleged first vision.
The First Vision
In 1820 Joseph allegedly received a vision that became the basis for the founding of the Mormon Church. According to Mormon history, the background of Joseph’s first vision was a revival that broke out in the spring of 1820, in Palmyra, New York:
Indeed, the whole district of the country seemed affected by it, and great multitudes united themselves to the different religious parties, which created no small stir and division amongst the people, some crying, “Lo, here!” and others, “Lo, there!” Some were contending for the Methodist faith, some for the Presbyterian and some for the Baptist (Joseph Smith, The Pearl of Great Price, 2:5).
This led to Joseph’s inquiry of the Lord as to which of these denominations was right. Smith reported the incident as follows:
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 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” (Joseph Smith, The Pearl of Great Price, 2:18, 19).
The Second Vision
Joseph then recounts a second vision he had on September 21, 1823, in which he claims:
… a personage appeared at my bedside, standing in the air, for his feet did not touch the floor …. Not only was his robe exceedingly white, but his whole person was glorious beyond description…. [He] said unto me that he was a messenger sent from the presence of God to me, and that his name was Moroni; that God had a work for me to do; and that my name should be had for good and evil among all nations, kindreds, and tongues, or that it should be both good and evil spoken of among all people. He said there was a book deposited, written upon gold plates, giving an account of the former inhabitants of this continent, and the source from whence they sprang. He also said that the fullness of the everlasting Gospel was contained in it, as delivered by the Savior to the ancient inhabitants; Also, that there were two stones in silver bows-and these stones, fastened to a breastplate, constituted what is called the Urim and Thummirn -deposited with the plates; and the possession and use of these stones were what constituted “seers” in ancient or former times; and that God had prepared them for the purpose of translating the book…. While he was conversing with me about the plates, the vision was opened to my mind that I could see the place where the plates were deposited, and that so clearly and distinctly that I knew the place when I visited it …. Convenient to the village of Manchester, Ontario County, New York, stands a hill of considerable size, and the most elevated of any in the neighborhood. On the west side of this hill, not far from the top, under a stone of considerable size, lay the plates, deposited in a stone box …. I looked in, and there indeed did I behold the plates, the Urim and Thummim, and the breastplate, as stated by the messenger …. I made an attempt to take them out, but was forbidden by the messenger, and was again informed that the time for bringing them forth had not yet arrived, neither would it, until four years from that time; but he told me that I should come to that place precisely in one year from that time, and that he would there meet with me, and that I should continue to do so until the time should come for obtaining the plates …. on the twenty-second day of September, one thousand eight hundred and twenty-seven, having gone as usual at the end of another year to the place where they were deposited, the same heavenly messenger delivered them up to me with this charge: that I should be responsible for them; that if I should let them go carelessly, or through any neglect of mine, I should be cut off; but that if I would use all my endeavors to preserve them, until he, the messenger, should call for them, they should be protected (The Pearl of Great Price, Joseph Smith, 2:50-54).
Obeying the Heavenly Messenger
Joseph then moved to his father-in-law’s house in Harmony, Pennsylvania where, with supposedly divine help, he began to copy the characters off the plates and translate them. The publication of the translation of the plates was financed by a New York farmer named Martin Harris who was told by Smith that the writing on the plates was “reformed Egyptian.” The translation was finally completed and placed on sale on March 26, 1830.
A little over a week later, on April 6, 1830, at Fayette, New York, “the church of Christ” was officially organized with six members. The name was eventually changed to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The number of members increased rapidly and a group of them moved to Kirtland, Ohio (near present-day Cleveland). It was here that Joseph supervised the first printing of the divine revelations he had received.
First known as the Book of Commandments, the work has undergone significant and numerous changes and now constitutes one of the Mormon sacred works, retitled Doctrine and Covenants. Smith also worked on a revision (“divinely aided”) of the King James Version of the Bible.
Although the Mormon church began to grow in numbers while expanding westward, it was not without persecution. Battles were fought between Mormons and their non-Mormon counterparts in Far West, Missouri, a town founded by the Mormons. Here Smith was imprisoned along with some other Mormon leaders.
After escaping, he and his followers moved to Illinois to a town Smith named Nauvoo, where he organized a small army and gave himself the title of Lieutenant-General. During this time, the Mormons were busily constructing a temple and evangelizing the populace.
When a local paper, the Nauvoo Expositor, began publishing anti-Mormon material, Smith ordered the press destroyed and every copy of the paper burned. This act led to Smith’s arrest and imprisonment. Released and then rearrested, Smith was taken to jail in Carthage, Illinois along with his brother Hyrum.
On June 27, 1844, a mob of about 200 people, their faces blackened to avoid recognition, stormed the jail and shot and killed Joseph and Hyrum Smith. Joseph did not die without a fight. According to the church’s own account he shot several of the mob members with a gun he had (see History of the Church, 6:617-18). The Mormons, however, considered Joseph Smith a martyr for the cause.
After the death of Joseph Smith the leadership went to Brigham Young, the President of the Twelve Apostles, who convinced the great majority of Mormons that he was their rightful successor.
Young led the group westward in a journey which saw many hardships including Indian attacks, exposure and internal strife. On July 24, 1847, they arrived at Salt Lake Valley in Utah which became the headquarters of the Mormon church. By the time of Young’s death in 1877, the members numbered approximately 150,000. Today, the church has over four million members worldwide.
The Claims of Mormonism
The Mormons claim they are the restoration of the true church established by Jesus Christ. It is not Protestant or Catholic, but claims, rather, to be the only true church. “If it had not been for Joseph Smith and the restoration, there would be no salvation outside the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints” (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 670).
“No salvation without accepting Joseph Smith … If Joseph Smith was verily a prophet, and if he told the truth… then this knowledge is of the most vital importance to the entire world. No man can reject that testimony without incurring the most dreadful consequences, for he can not enter the Kingdom of God” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, pp. 189-190).
The claims of Joseph Smith and his followers are clear. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints claims it is God’s true church on earth while all the others are wrong. Commenting on Joseph Smith’s first vision, Dr. Walter Martin puts the matter into perspective:
With one “Special Revelation” the Mormon Church expects its intended converts to accept the totally unsupported testimony of a fifteen-year-old boy that nobody ever preached Jesus Christ’s gospel from the close of the Apostolic age until the “Restoration” through Joseph Smith, Jr., beginning in 1820! We are asked to believe that the Church Fathers for the first five centuries did not proclaim the true gospel -that Origen, Justin, Iraneaus, Jerome, Eusebius, Athanasius, Chrysostom, and then later Thomas Aquinas, Huss, Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, Tyndale, Wycliffe, Knox, Wesley, Whitefield, and a vast army of faithful servants of Jesus Christ all failed where Joseph Smith Jr., was to succeed!
With one dogmatic assertion, Joseph pronounced everybody wrong, all Christian theology an abomination, and all professing Christians corrupt -all in the name of God! How strange for this to be presented as restored Christianity, when Jesus Christ specifically promised that “the gates of Hell” would not prevail against the church (Matthew 16:18)! In Mormonism we find God contradicting this statement in a vision to Joseph Smith Jr., some 18 centuries later! (The Maze of Mormonism, 1978, p. 31).
The Mormons make the claim that they are the “restored church of Jesus Christ” but the facts totally discount their claim.
Sources of Authority
The Mormon Church has four accepted sacred works: the Bible, the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and The Pearl of Great Price. The present prophet’s words are also a source of authority.
The Mormon articles of faith read, “We believe the Bible to be the Word of God in so far as it is translated correctly. . * ” (Articles of Faith of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Article 8). The Book of Mormon claims that a correct translation of the Bible is impossible since the Catholic Church has taken away from the word of God “. . . many parts which are plain and most precious; and also many covenants of the Lord have they taken away. And all this have they taken away. And all this have they done that they might pervert the right ways of the Lord” (I Nephi 13:26b, 27).
Orson Pratt, an early apostle of the Mormon Church, put it this way, “Who knows that even one verse of the Bible has escaped pollution, so as to convey the same sense now that it did in the original?” (Orson Pratt’s Works, 1891, p. 218).
Thus the Mormons put more trust in the other three sacred books, which have escaped pollution, than they do in the Bible. This opens the door for the Mormons to add their new non-biblical teachings by claiming they were doctrines deliberately removed by the Catholic Church. The claim that the Scriptures have been changed and corrupted throughout the centuries is totally false (see Answers, Here’s Life Publishers, 1980, pp. 4-6).
The Book of Mormon
The Book of Mormon is also considered inspired: “We also believe the Book of Mormon to be the Word of God” (Articles of Faith, Section Eight). The Book of Mormon is supposedly an account of the original inhabitants of America to whom Christ appeared after His resurrection.
Doctrine and Covenants
Doctrine and Covenants is a record of 138 revelations revealing some of Mormonism’s distinctive doctrines such as baptism for the dead and celestial marriage.
The Pearl of Great Price
The Pearl of Great Price contains the Book of Moses, which is roughly equivalent to the first six chapters of Genesis, and The Book of Abraham, a translation of an Egyptian Papyrus that later proved to be fraudulent. It also contains an extract from Joseph Smith’s translation of the Bible; extracts from the History of Joseph Smith, which is his autobiography; and the Articles of Faith.
The Living Prophets
The living prophet also occupies an important part in present-day Mormonism. Ezra Taft Benson, who at the time of this writing is President of the Council of the Twelve Apostles, said in a speech on February 26, 1980, at Brigham Young University, that the living prophet (head of the church) is “more vital to us than the standard works.” This echoed what was given to the ward teachers (similar to Christian Education adult teachers) in 1945.
Any Latter-day Saint who denounces or opposes, whether actively or otherwise, any plan or doctrine advocated by the prophets, seers, and revelators of the Church is cultivating the spirit of apostasy … Lucifer … wins a great victory when he can get members of the Church to speak against their leaders and to do their own thinking… “When our leaders speak, the thinking has been done. When they propose a plan -it is God’s plan. When they point the way, there is no other which is safe. When they give directions, it should mark the end of the controversy (Improvement Era, June 1945, p. 354).
The Bible Says
The Bible contradicts the Mormon reliance on multiple contradictory revelations. While the Mormon scriptures contradict each other and the Bible, the Bible never contradicts itself and the God of the Bible never contradicts Himself. Hebrews 1:1-3 tells us what the source of our knowledge of God comes from: God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high…
Any message that purports to be from God must agree with the message already brought by Jesus Christ in fulfillment of the Old Testament (Luke 24:27). Eternal life comes from the works and gift of Jesus Christ, not from Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, or any other false Mormon prophet (John 20:31). Proverbs 30:5, 6 warns those who try to add to God’s Word, saying, “Every word of God is tested; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him. Do not add to His words lest He reprove you, and you be proved a liar.”
The Mormon Doctrine of God
“We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and His Son Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost” (Joseph Smith, The Pearl of Great Price, Articles of Faith, p. 59).
The above statement leaves the impression that Mormons believe the biblical doctrine of the Holy Trinity-namely, there is one God who manifests himself in three persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and these three persons are the one God. However, nothing could be further from the truth. The Mormon doctrine of God is contradictory to what the Bible teaches. The Mormons believe in many gods and teach that God himself was once a man. Moreover, Mormon males have the possibility of attaining godhood. Joseph Smith made this clear in The King Follett Discourse:
I am going to inquire after God: for I want you all to know him and be familiar with him … I will go back to the beginning before the world was, to show you what kind of a being God is. God was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens … I say, if you were to see him today, you would see him like a man in a form like yourselves in all the person, image, and very form of a man.
I am going to tell you how God came to be God. We have imagined and supposed that God was God from all eternity. I will refute that idea and take away the veil so that you may see.
It is the first principle of the gospel to know for certainty the character of God and to know that we may converse with him as one man with another, and that he was once a man like us; yea, that God himself, the father of us all, dwelt on an earth, the same as Jesus Christ did.
Here then, is eternal life-to know the only wise and true God; and you have got to learn how to be Gods yourselves, and to be kings and priests to God, the same as all Gods have done before you (Joseph Smith Jr., King Follett Discourse, pp. 8-10).
Other statements by Smith and Young reveal further the Mormon concept of God:
In the beginning, the head of the Gods called a council of the Gods; and they came together and concocted a plan to create and populate the world and people it (Joseph Smith, Journal of Discourses, 6:5).
The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s (Joseph Smith, Doctrine and Covenants, 130:22)
Lorenzo Snow repeated Joseph Smith’s words about the Mormon idea of God,
As Man is, God was, As God, is, Man may become. (Joseph Smith, King Follett Discourse, p. 9, note by Lorenzo Smith).
The Mormon writer Milton Hunter came to the obvious conclusion:
Mormon prophets have continuously taught the sublime truth that God the Eternal Father was once a mortal man who passed through a school earth similar to that through which we are passing. He became God-an exalted being (Milton R. Hunter, The Gospel Through the Ages, p. 104).
Smith’s teaching on the nature of God not only contradicts the Bible, it also contradicts the Book of Mormon!
And Zeezrom said unto him: ‘Thou sayest that there is a true and living God?’ And Amulek said: ‘Yea, there is a true and living God.’ Now Zeezrom said: ‘Is there more than one God?’ And he answered, ‘No!’ (Alma 11:26-29) See also Alma 11:21, 22; 2 Nephi 11:7; 2 Nephi 31:21; 3 Nephi 11:27, 36; Mosiah 15:1-5, Mosiah 16:15.
The Bible repeatedly affirms that there is only one true God. Isaiah 43:10 emphatically declares, “You are My witnesses, declares the Lord, and My servant whom I have chosen, in order that you may know and believe Me, and understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, and there will be none after Me.” In the New Testament we are assured that though there are false gods and idols worshipped by men, they are worthless “. …we know there is no such thing as an idol in the world, and that there is no God but one” (1 Corinthians 8:4).
The Mormon Church teaches that Jesus Christ was a preexistent spirit like the rest of us. Even though we are all literally brothers and sisters of Jesus, He is set apart from the rest of us by being the firstborn of God’s spirit-children. “And now, verily I say unto you, I was in the beginning with the Father, and am the Firstborn; and all those who are begotten through me are partakers of the glory of the same, and are the church of the Firstborn. Ye were also in the beginning with the Father” (Doctrine and Covenants 93:21-23).
In Mormonism Jesus is not the unique Son of God:
His humanity is to be recognized as real and ordinary -whatever happened to Him may happen to any one of us. The Divinity of Jesus and the Divinity of all other noble and stately souls, in so far as they, too, have been influenced by a spark of Deity -can be recognized as manifestations of the Divine (Elder B. H. Roberts citing Sir Oliver Lodge in Joseph Smith, King Follett Discourse, p. 11 note).
According to Mormonism, man is a preexistent soul who takes his body at birth in this world.
Man is a spirit clothed with a tabernacle. The intelligent part of which was never created or made, but existed eternally -man was also in the beginning with God (Joseph Fielding Smith, Progess of Man). Speaking of man, John Widtsoe said, “He existed before he came to earth: He was with God in the beginning! Man’s destiny is divine. Man is an eternal being. He also is ‘everlasting to everlasting… “‘ (Varieties of American Religion, p. 132).
Contrary to Mormon theology, Jesus Christ is the unique Son of God. John 1:14 declares that He “became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” Jesus Christ reflected the power of God while on earth that no other man could ever achieve: “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation” (Colossians 1:15). To think that we can one day be God like Jesus Christ and the Father is blasphemous. There is an eternal chasm between the Creator and the created. The Bible soundly condemns those who would think otherwise:
Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, that their bodies might be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen (Romans 1:22-25).
Articles 2 and 3 of the Mormon Articles of Faith spell out their doctrine of salvation:
No. 2: “We believe that men shall be punished for their own sins and not for Adam’s transgression.”
No. 3: “We believe that through the atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.”
James Talmage in his work Articles of Faith explains what this means:
The extent of the Atonement is universal, applying alike to all descendants of Adam. Even the unbeliever, the heathen and the child who dies before reaching the years of discretion all are redeemed by the Saviour’s self-sacrifice from the individual consequences of the fall … of the saved not all will be exalted to the higher glories. No one can be admitted to any order of glory, in short, no soul can be saved until justice has been satisfied for violated law … In the kingdom of God there are numerous levels of gradations provided for those who are worthy of them (James Talmage, Articles of Faith, pp. 85, 91).
Thus in Mormonism there is a general salvation for all mankind and an individual salvation for each person. There is, to the Mormon, no such thing as hell or everlasting punishment. Everyone will eventually go to one of the three levels of glory: the celestial kingdom which is reserved for the Melchizedek priesthood members who will become gods; the terrestrial kingdom, for those who failed the requirements of exaltation; and lastly, the telestial kingdom, for those who have no testimony of Christ.
I want you to tell them and tell all the great men of the earth, that the Latterday Saints are to be their redeemer… Believe in God, believe in Jesus, and believe in Joseph his prophet, and Brigham his successor, and I add, If you will believe in your hearts and confess with your mouth Jesus is the Christ, that Joseph was a prophet, and that Brigham is his successor, you shall be saved in the kingdom of God… No man or woman in this dispensation will ever enter into the Celestial Kingdom of God without the consent of Joseph Smith … every man and woman must have the certificate of Joseph Smith, junior, as a passport to their entrance into the mansions where God and Christ are – I can not go there without his consent … He reigns there as supreme, a being in his sphere, capacity, calling, as God does in Heaven (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, 6:229, 7:289).
Salvation according to the Bible is a free gift from Jesus Christ our Lord. Ephesians 2:8-10 declares, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” When the people asked Jesus, “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?” (John 6:28), Jesus replied, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent” (v. 29). There is no way to earn salvation. One’s good works are testimony to the accomplished fact of one’s salvation, purchased not by works, but by the blood of Jesus Christ. We are saved through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross for our sins, not because of anything we can do ourselves. Hebrews 7:27 says that when Jesus offered Himself for man’s sin it was “once for all”.
Changes in the Book of Mormon
The Book of Mormon according to Joseph Smith, Jr., is “the most correct of any book on earth” (Joseph Smith, Jr., History of the Church, 4:461). However, this “most” correct book has, from the 1830 edition to the modern edition, undergone some 3,000 changes.
And after having received the record of the Nephites, yea even my servant Joseph Smith, Jr., might have power to translate through the mercy of God, by the power of God, the Book of Mormon (Doctrine and Covenants, Section 1, verse 29). And gave him (Joseph Smith, Jr.) power from on high, by the means which were before prepared, to translate the Book of Mormon (Doctrine and Covenants, Section 20, verse 8).
The two quotations from the Doctrine and Covenants, according to Mormon belief, are revelations given through Joseph Smith, Jr., from the Lord and they confirm the authenticity and genuineness of the Book of Mormon. The first quotation is from a revelation dated November 1, 1831, well over a year after the Book of Mormon was published in early 1830. The revelations claim the Book of Mormon was translated by the power of God, that Joseph Smith was a servant used of God to translate the Book of Mormon using means that God had prepared for translating and that well over a year after its publication, the Lord affirmed the authenticity of the Book of Mormon. Yet a comparison of the latest edition with the first edition (the 1830 edition that was supposed to be translated by the power of God) will show the more than 3,000 changes.
Original (1830) Edition Modern Version
…King Benjamin had a gift from God , whereby he could interpret such engravings…(p.200) …King Mosiah had a gift from God, whereby he could interpret such engravings (p.176, v.28)
…Behold the virgin which thou seest, is the Mother of God (p. 25) …Behold the virgin whom thou seest is the mother of the Son of God…(1 Nephi 11:18)
…that the LAMB OF God is the eternal Father and the Saviour of the world…(p. 32) …that the lamb of God is the Son of the Eternal Father…(1 Nephi 13:40)
The Book of Mormon and Archaeology
Mormon scholars can be frustrated and embarrassed understandably when they realize that after all the years of work by Mormon and other archaeologists:
No Book of Mormon cities have been located.
No Book of Mormon names have been found in New World
No genuine inscriptions have been found in Hebrew in
No genuine inscriptions have been found in America in Egyptian or anything similar to Egyptian, which could correspond to Joseph Smith’s “reformed Egyptian.”
No ancient copies of Book of Mormon scriptures have been found.
No ancient inscriptions of any kind in America, which indicate that the ancient inhabitants had Hebrew or Christian beliefs, have been found.
No mention of Book of Mormon persons, nations, or places have been found.
No artifact of any kind, which demonstrates the Book of
Mormon is true, has been found.
Rather than finding supportive evidence, Mormon scholars have been forced to retreat from traditional interpretations of Book of Mormon statements (Hal Hougey, Archaeology and the Book of Mormon, p. 12).
Dr. Gleason Archer has done an excellent job in listing a few of the anachronisms and historical inaccuracies in the Mormon scriptures (A Survey of Old Testament Introduction, pp. 501-504):
In 1 Nephi 2:5-8, it is stated that the river Laman emptied into the Red Sea. Yet neither in historic nor prehistoric times has there been any river in Arabia at all that emptied into the Red Sea. Apart from an ancient canal which once connected the Nile with the coast of the Gulf of Suez, and certain wadis which showed occasional rainfall in ancient times, there were no streams of any kind emptying into the Red Sea on the western shore above the southern border of Egypt.
Second Nephi states that only the family of Lehi, Ishmael, and Zoram were left in Jerusalem in 600 B.C. to migrate to the New World. These totaled fifteen persons, plus three or four girls, or no more than twenty in all. Yet in less than thirty years, according to 2 Nephi 5:28, they had multiplied so startlingly that they divided up into two nations (2 Nephi 5:5-6, 21). Indeed, after arriving in America in 589 B.C., they are stated to have built a temple like Solomon’s.
Now Solomon’s temple required 153,000 workers and 30,000 overseers (1 Ki. 5:13, 15; 6:1, 38; 9:20,21; 2 Ch 2:2, 17,18) in seven and a half years. It is difficult to see how a few dozen unskilled workers (most of whom must have been children) could have duplicated this feat even in the nineteen years they allegedly did the work. Nor is it clear how all kinds of iron, copper, brass, silver, and gold could have been found in great abundance (2 Nephi 5:15) for the erection of this structure back in the sixth-century B.C. America.
According to Alma 7:10, Jesus was to be born at Jerusalem (rather than in Bethlehem, as recorded in Lk. 2:4 and predicted in Mic. 5:2).
Helamen 14:20, 27 states that darkness covered the whole earth for three days at the time of Christ’s death (rather than three hours, as recorded in Mt. 27:45 and Mk. 15:33), or beyond Easter morning, which would have made it impossible for the woman at the tomb to tell whether the stone had been rolled away from its mouth.
Alma 46:15 indicates that believers were called “Christians” back in 73 B.C. rather than at Antioch, as Acts 11:26 informs us. It is difficult to imagine how anyone could have been labeled Christian so many decades before Christ was even born.
Helaman 12:25,26, allegedly written in 6 B.C., quotes John 5:29 as a prior written source, introducing it by the words, “We read!’It is difficult to see how a quotation could be cited from a written source not composed until eight or nine decades after 6 B.C.
Quite numerous are the instances in which the Mormon scriptures, said to have been in the possession of the Nephites back in 600 B.C., quote from or allude to passages or episodes found only in exilic or postexilic books of the Old Testament. Several examples follow.
1. First Nephi 22:15 states: “For behold, saith the prophet, the time cometh speedily that Satan shall have no more power over the hearts of the children of men; for the day soon cometh that all the proud and they who do wickedly shall be as stubble; and the day cometh that they must be burned.” Compare this with Malachi 4:1 (ca. 435 B.C.): “For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.”
2. Second Nephi 26:9: “But the Son of righteousness shall appear unto them; and he shall heal them, and they shall have peace with him, until three generations shall have passed away.” Compare this with Malachi 4:2: “But unto you, that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth and grow up as calves of the stall.” Note the confusion between Son and Sun, which could only have originated from their similar sound in the English language.
3. Third Nephi 28:21-22: “And thrice they were cast into a furnace and received no harm. And twice they were cast into a den of wild beasts; and behold they did play with the beasts as a child with a suckling lamb, and received no harm!’ Compare this with Daniel 3 and 6 where such adventures befell Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, along with Daniel himself. It is difficult to understand how these Mormon believers could have had experiences just like those related in the book of Daniel, which was not even composed until several decades after their alleged departure for the New World in 589 B.C. (Daniel could have found written form only after the fall of Babylon to the Persians in 539 B.C., since it contains at least fifteen Persian loanwords.)
4. Alma 10:2 states that Aminadi “interpreted the writing which was upon the wall of the temple, which was written by the finger of God.” Surely this is a reminiscence of Daniel’s feat in reading the divine handwriting upon the wall of Belshazzar’s banquet hall in 539 B.C.
Even more remarkable is the abundance of parallels or word-for-word quotations from the New Testament which are found in the Book of Mormon, which was allegedly in the possession of the Nephites back in 600 B.C. Jerald and Sandra Tanner (The Case Against Mormonism, Vol. 2, Salt Lake City, 1967, pp. 87-102) have listed no less than 400 clear examples out of a much larger number that could be adduced; and these serve to establish beyond all question that the author of the Book of Mormon was actually well acquainted with the New Testament, and specifically in the KJV of 1611. A few examples follow:
1. 1 Nephi 4:13: “That one man could perish than that a nation should … perish in unbelief.” Compare this with John 11:50: “That one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not.”
2. 1 Nephi 10:8: “Whose shoe’s latchet I am not worthy to unloose!’ Compare this with John 1:27: “Whose shoe’s latchet I am not worthy to unloose.”
3. 1 Nephi 10:9: “In Bethabara beyond Jordan … he should baptize.” Compare this with John 1:28: “In Bethabara beyond Jordan, where John was baptizing.”
4. 1 Nephi 11:22: “The love of God, which sheddeth itself abroad in the hearts of the children of men’ ” Compare this with Romans 5:5: “The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost.”
5. 1 Nephi 11:27: “The Holy Ghost come down out of heaven and abide upon him in the form of a dove.” Compare this with Luke 3:22: “The Holy Ghost descended in bodily shape like a dove upon him!’
6. 1 Nephi 14:11: “The whore of all the earth, and she sat upon many waters; and she had dominion over all the earth, among all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people. ” Compare this with Revelation 17:1, 15: “The great whore sitteth upon many waters … The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.”
Most interesting is the recently exposed fraud of the so-called Book of Abraham, part of the Mormon scripture known as The Pearl of Great Price. This was assertedly translated from an ancient Egyptian papyrus found in the mummy wrappings of certain mummies which had been acquired by a certain Michael H. Chandler.
In 1835 Joseph Smith became very much interested in these papyrus leaves, which he first saw in Kirtland, Ohio, on July 3, and arranged for the purchase of both mummies and manuscripts. Believing he had divinely received the gift of interpreting ancient Egyptian, he was delighted to find that one of the rolls contained the writings of Abraham himself, whose signature he had personally inscribed in the Egyptian language.
In 1842, Smith published his translation under the title, “The Book of Abraham” in Times and Seasons. He even included three drawings of the pictures or vignettes appearing in the manuscript, and interpreted the meaning of these illustrations: Abraham sitting upon the throne of Pharaoh, the serpent with walking legs who tempted Eve in Eden.
For many years this collection of papyri was lost, but somehow they (or else a duplicate set of them from ancient timesl were presented to the Mormon Church by the Metropolitan Art Museum of New York City on November 27, 1967. This made the translation skill of Joseph Smith susceptible of objective verification.
The unhappy result was that earlier negative verdicts of scholars like Theodule Devaria of the Louvre, and Samuel A. B. Mercer of Western Theological Seminary, and James H. Breasted of the University of Chicago, and W. F. Flinders Petrie of London University (who had all been shown Smiths facsimiles) were clearly upheld by a multitude of present-day Egyptologists.
Their finding was that not a single word of Joseph Smith’s alleged translation bore any resemblance to the contents of this document. It turned out to be a late, even Ptolemaic, copy in hieratic script of the Sensen Papyrus, which belongs to the same genre as the Egyptian Book of the Dead.
As John A. Wilson, professor of Egyptology at the University of Chicago, described it in a published letter written on March 16, 1966, it contains vignettes familiar from the Book of the Dead. The first illustration shows the god of embalming named Anubis preparing the body of the deceased for burial, with the soul hovering over his head in the form of a bird, and the canopic jars containing the dead man’s inwards set beneath his bier.
The third picture shows the deceased led into the presence of Osiris, the infernal deity who judged the souls of the dead. (This is what Smith had identified as Abraham sitting on Pharaoh’s throne! 1. Figure 2 was a round disc made of cloth and jesso and customarily placed as a pillow under the head of a corpse in the Late Egyptian period.
The accompanying text, as can be ascertained from other copies of this not uncommon document, deals with magical spells intended to open the mouth of the deceased and to prepare him for his audience before Osiris in the judgment hall of the dead (as set forth in detail in chap. 125 of the Book of the Dead, the Egyptian title of which is P-r m h-r-w, or, “The Going Forth by Day”). Needless to say, the completely mistaken concept of Joseph Smith as to his competence in ancient Egyptian is now clearly demonstrated to be beyond debate.
The Mormon religion contains false prophecies. 2 Nephi 10:7, speaking of the Jews, predicts, “. . 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.” The Jews are today back in their land, but do not believe that Jesus is the Christ. The prophecy is false.
Building the Temple in Zion
Joseph claimed that the Lord told him the Latter-day Saints would build a temple in Zion (Jackson County, Missouri) during his generation. Zion would never be removed from its place. This generation shall not all pass away until an house shall be built unto the Lord … upon the consecrated spot as I have appointed” (Doctrine and Covenants, 84:5, 31, September 1832).
“Surely Zion is the city of our God, and surely Zion can not fall, neither be moved out of place, for God is there, and the hand of the Lord is there. . ‘ ” (Doctrine and Covenants, 97:19, August 1833).
These two prophecies failed since a temple was never built at the “appointed” place. Moreover, two weeks before Joseph gave the prophecy that Zion would not be “moved out of her place” the Mormons were unceremoniously run out of Zion. Their printing presses were destroyed, and some of their leaders were tarred and feathered! Joseph was in Kirtland, Ohio at that time and thus was ignorant of the situation in Jackson County, Missouri, when he uttered his prophecy. Later on that year Smith prophesied a return to Zion!
Zion shall not be moved out of her place, notwithstanding her children are scattered. They that remain and are pure in heart, shall return and come to their inheritances, they and their children, with songs of everlasting joy, to build up the waste places of Zion -And all these things that the prophets might be fulfilled.
And, behold, there is none other place appointed than that which I have appointed; neither shall there be any other placed appointed than that which I have appointed for the work of the gathering of my saints-Until the day cometh when there is found no more room for them; and then I have other places which I will appoint unto them, and they shall be called stakes, for the curtains or the strength of Zion (Doctrine and Covenants 101:17-21, 1833).
This is yet another false prophecy. It has been about 150 years since this “revelation” was given and a temple still has not been built on that site. Joseph said, “There is none other place appointed” and that it would be built during “his generation.” He has failed all requirements of being a true prophet.
The God of the Bible never prophesies falsely. What He declares always comes to pass. Deuteronomy 13:1-4 and 18:18-22 gives us the two best tests of a self-proclaimed prophet. Deuteronomy 13 warns that a prophet, even if his prophecies come true, must lead you to believe in Jehovah God, the God of the Bible, or he is a false prophet. One who leads you to follow false gods is a false prophet and was to be stoned to death under the Old Testament theocracy.
Deuteronomy 18 warns that a prophet must be right about his prophecies every single time, or he is not a true prophet of God. The Mormon prophets fail the biblical tests of a prophet from God. Their prophecies are not from the Lord, and “the prophet has spoken presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him” (v. 22).
When all the evidence is considered, the Mormon claim to be the restoration of Jesus Christ’s church falls to the ground. We have taken up the challenge of Brigham Young who said, “Take up the Bible, compare the religion of the Latter-day Saints with it, and see if it will stand the test” (Journal of Discourses, Volume 16, p. 46, 1873). Orson Pratt echoed the same sentiment, “Convince us of our errors of Doctrine, if we have any, by reason, by logical arguments, or by the Word of God and we will ever be grateful for the information and you will ever have the pleasing reflections that you have been instruments in the hands of God of redeeming your fellow beings” (The Seer, p. 15). Our conclusion is that when Mormonism is weighed in the balances it is found wanting.
Aaronic Priesthood -One of the two Mormon priesthoods into which Mormon leadership is divided. Includes the Presiding Bishopric, priests, teachers and deacons.
Adam – God – Said to be the God of this earth. Taught by second president, Brigham Young, now denied by LDS church.
Apostles-In Mormonism there are twelve apostles in the Melchizedek Priesthood, who are subordinate to the President of the Mormon Church.
Atonement – Jesus’ atonement is not sufficient to cleanse all sins. Some sins must be atoned for by the individual. Early LDS teachings said one’s own blood was to be spilt for such atonement.
Baptism for the Dead-Since LDS believes baptism is necessary for salvation, even the dead must be baptized by proxy, performed by living relatives.
Book of Abraham – Part of the Mormon sacred work The Pearl of Great Price, which contains the Mormon teachings that the black race is cursed.
Book of Mormon -One of the four sacred books of the Mormons containing a supposed history of the former inhabitants of America. It was supposedly translated from the golden plates.
Celestial Heaven -The highest of the three heavens in Mormon teaching.
Cumorah -The hill near Palmyra, New York where Joseph Smith, Jr. allegedly found the golden plates from which he translated the Book of Mormon.
Doctrine and Covenants -One of the four sacred books of the Mormons containing many revelations given allegedly by God to Joseph Smith, Jr.
High Priests -In Mormonism, the fourth level of the Melchizedek Priesthood. Consists of the Mormon stake presidents.
Lamanites -According to the Book of Mormon, the ancestors of the American Indian and their spiritual activities.
Living Prophets-In Mormonism, the current president of the Mormon church supposedly has the ability to receive divine revelations and is considered a “living prophet.” His revelations are considered superior to all past revelations.
Lucifer -According to Mormonism, the spirit-brother of Jesus. In Mormon theology Lucifer is the second-born creature of God after Jesus.
Manuscript Found -A novel (1812-1814) by Solomon Spaulding which many believe was later plagiarized by Joseph Smith to form the Book of Mormon.
Melchizedek Priesthood-The most important of the two Mormon priesthoods consisting of the presidency, apostles, patriarch, high priest, seventies, and elders.
Moroni -The angel who supposedly revealed the location of the golden plates to Joseph Smith, Jr. Smith translated them into the Book of Mormon.
Nephites -One of the groups of people who, according to the Book of Mormon, came to America from the Middle East.
Patriarch -The nominal head of Mormon hierachy. It is an honorific title intially given to the father of the prophet.
Pearl of Great Price – One of the four sacred books of the Mormans containing, among other things, the Book of Abraham which teaches that the black race is cursed.
Presiding Bishopric-In Mormonism, the first division of the Aaronic Priesthood designated. The bishopric administers the local congregations, called wards.
Smith, Joseph Jr. (1805-1844) -Founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon). Supposedly received a vision from God the Father informing him of certain golden plates which gave an account of the former inhabitants of America. Smith translated these plates which became the Book of Mormon.
Telestial Kingdom -Lowest division of glory (heaven) in Mormonism, reserved for those having no belief in Christ or the gospel.
Terrestrial Kingdom -a secondary degree of glory (heaven) reserved for those who, though honorable, failed to comply with the requirements of exaltation to Godhood.
Young, Brigham-Second president and successor to Joseph Smith, Jr., founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon). Led the Mormons westward to Salt Lake City, Utah, where church is still headquartered.