Since moving to Utah in 1973, I have been asked many times, "Why do you pick on Mormons?" Please allow me to correct that misconception: I am not "picking on Mormons."
Early Mormon leaders attacked Christianity, saying that it had disappeared from the earth, that all churches were an abomination, and that all preachers of other churches today are agents of the Devil (History of the Church, Vol. I, p. XL). They also claimed that one Joseph Smith had been visited by an angel and instructed on how to restore true Christianity. And, that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only true church in the world today, that all other churches are in a state of apostasy, and their leaders are corrupt (Ibid.) Further, later Mormon writers have invited examination of their doctrinal beliefs and their practices in the light of truth. Apostle Orson Pratt said:
"The Book of Mormon must be either true or false. ... If false, it is one of the most cunning, wicked, bold, deep laid, impositions ever palmed upon the world. ... The nature of the Book of Mormon is such that, if true, no one can possibly be saved and receive it. If, after rigid examination, it be found an imposition, it should be extensively published to the world as such" (Introduction to Divine Authenticity of the Book of Mormon, pp. 124-125).
Other writers have issued challenges: "confound your enemies, enter into debate, pursue them," etc. They have even boasted that enemies of the church were "fearful of meeting in discussion." But, such is not the case; not only are we not fearful, we are anxious to meet with any representative of the Mormon Church and discuss these matters.
Furthermore, I do not believe that Christianity disappeared from the earth, either in earlier or latter times. I do not believe that an angel of God appeared to Joseph Smith, and I do not believe that Joseph Smith "restored" anything to the earth! Finally, I am merely accepting the invitation to examine the claims of Mormonism and share what little I have learned about them.
"What do you know about the Mormon Church?"
Response: "Well, not very much."
"Would you like to know a little more?"
These are known as the two "Golden Questions of Mormonism." Your Mormon friend, neighbor, even strangers, will approach you from this direction. Your response will trigger you Mormon friend's missionary snare.
I could use this time to inform you of some of the detailed history of the beginning and early development of Mormonism, which makes for interesting reading to some. But, it would do little toward helping prepare and fortify you to meet the onslaught of encroaching Mormonism on a near world-wide scale. Therefore, I choose to share with you some of the things I have learned in the last 14 years which have helped me to meet this deadly spiritual menace.
Joseph Smith was born on December 23, 1805, in Windson County, Vermont. In the early months of 1830, he published the Book of Mormon, and, on April 6, 1830, he organized the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints with an initial six members. It took them 117 years to reach their first million members, 16 years to reach their second million, nine years to reach their third million; four years to reach the fourth million ... and they now boast six million members in just 156 years!
Their published growth rate is 410 converts per day ... 150,000 per year. This figure does not include the automatic baptism of Mormon children when they reach eight years of age. This
makes the Mormon Church the fastest growing church in America. As England is predominantly Anglican, as Italy is predominantly Catholic, as the Arab world is predominantly Moslem, so Utah is predominantly Mormon with 75 percent Mormon strength. And, their stated goal is to make Mormonism the religion of the world. Next, look at these financial statistics: the Mormon Church is the richest organization west of the Mississippi River in the United States today. East of the Mississippi, they are in the top 10 businesses of America.
In 1964, Newsweek Magazine interviewed top church officials in Salt Lake City and then printed that the Mormon Church income averaged one million dollars per day. On October 2, 1975, the Star-Bulletin (Honolulu) stated that currently "tithes, other contributions and business income" totals "more than one billion dollars a year, according to an Associated Press Study." That equals 3 million dollars per day! They hold real estate in every state in the United States, in Canada, Mexico and on every continent in the World. This includes a 36-story apartment house in New York City; 300,000 acres near Disney World in Florida; the FCC limit of radio/television stations; Beneficial Life Insurance Co., NYC, a 7,000 acre Hawaiian Village; a 3.4 million dollar property in Illinois; 2,600 acres in Nevada, 65 acres of downtown Salt Lake City, Utah; 28 million dollars in stock in the Los Angeles based Times-Mirror Corporation (newspaper); Sunkist Orange Juice; Dole Pineapple ... and much, much more!
Mormonism is missionary-centered, not in the same sense as the Christian understands it, but as a proselyting missionary church. "Proselyting" means "converting." It does not lead to the Lord or "lead unto salvation" but to convert from one ideology/theology to another. For Mormons, it specifically means to convert people who are already religious from the Gospel of the New Testament to a new and different gospel, as given by the prophet, seer, and revelation giver of their religion, Joseph Smith, and his successors.
In order to do this, every member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints must be a missionary in daily life. Every young man, in order to be found worthy, must spend two years in full time missionary work at his own expense. Presently, there are more than 30,000 full time Mormon missionaries in this proselyting program. Two of them will be at your door
soon. When you answer the door, what are you going to do? You have two choices: (1) Say "No" and close the door (which is perfectly legal and proper) or, (2) invite them in. Let me pause here and suggest that if you are not prepared to defend your faith against one of the most insidious, mind-bending, "wolf-in-sheep's-clothing" approaches that the world has ever seen, don't let them in!!! Now, let's prepare you for this encounter. The Utah Tract Society of La Mesa, California, published in its March/April, 1978, newsletter a most terse description of a cult. It said, "All cults embrace one or more of the following tenets: they either (1) make God human, (2) deify man, (3) minimize sin, or (4) ostracize the Scriptures." Mormonism contains all four of these false doctrines.
If you are firmly convinced that Mormonism is a cult, you have one or two options. First, you can do nothing at all. Avoid Mormon missionaries like the plague! Shut the door when they knock! This is an honest approach; it is effective, and most definitely will keep you out of the Mormon Church's Melchizadek Priesthood! The alternate option ... attempt to shake their faith. But you can't do that by arguing with them over various points in their doctrine, or even discussing the Bible with them at first. Qualifications of elders, living prophets, etc., are merely skirmishes. These are peripheral questions and will profit nothing.
The major point of difference is authority. The Mormons have three major sources of authority that they claim are on a par with the Bible: the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price. They also have what they call "Thirteen Articles of Faith" and the eighth article reads, "We believe the Bible to be the word of God, inasmuch as it is translated correctly. We also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God." Note the qualification for the Bible, but none for the Book of Mormon. From this it is plain to see that they think more of their "scriptures" than they do the Bible. So, your first effective step is to attempt to shake the Mormon's faith in his "inspired scriptures."
And, may I add, that is all you can hope to do with the young Mormon missionary who knocks at your door. You will not
convert him, nor convince him that he is wrong. Again, all you can hope to do is "shake his faith!" Bob Witte, an ex-Mormon, in his book, Witnessing to Mormons, lists three steps to follow:
Invite them in graciously. Ask, where they're from. Then say, "I'm glad you came by; I want to learn more about Mormonism. Tell me, what's different about Mormonism? What makes it distinctive?"
He will not give you the answer you want. He may speak of their living prophet, or their continuing revelation doctrine, or their mission program or their welfare program. But, point out to them that these things are not distinctive to Mormonism; other religions have some of these same things.
At this point you will have to suggest some of the following:
|1.||"What about the Adam-God theory? Is it not true that Joseph Smith said words to the effect, 'As man is now, so God once was; as God is now, so man may become?' Haven't you been taught and don't you believe that you will become a god in the next life?" (Have a writing pad and record your question along with their answer.)|
|2.||"What about eternal progression?" The belief that God has progressed to His present position, and is still progressing; and that you will progress until you become a god. (This is very basic to Mormon doctrine.)|
|3.||"What about the Three-degrees of Glory?" Mormon doctrine has divided heaven into three levels: Celestial, Terrestrial and Telestial. The upper (Celestial) level is further divided into three levels, with only Mormons in good standing going to the upper level. All other religious people will go to the middle or Terrestrial level, and the remainder of the world's population (the non-religious) going to the Lower or Telestial level.|
|4.||"What about hell? Do you believe in hell? Who will be there? Mormon doctrine accepts the idea of hell, but believes that only apostates to the Mormon faith and "sons of perdition" will be there.|
|5.||"What about 'Celestial Marriage?'" Mormon doctrine teaches that marriage ceremonies performed in Mormon temples are sealed for time and eternity.|
|6.||"What about 'Families Forever?'" Mormons also believe that family members can be sealed in special temple ceremonies, and these temple-sealed families will endure eternally.|
|7.||"What about 'Blood Atonement?'" Mormon doctrine states that there are some sins that are too grievous for the Blood of Christ to touch and cleanse, and that only the shed blood of the person who has committed the crime will suffice to cleanse his soul.|
|8.||"What about 'Baptism for the Dead?'" A misinterpretation and erroneous application of I Corinthians 15:29 leads many Mormons to perform proxy baptism for departed persons.|
|9.||"What about the nature and essence of God?" Mormonism teaches that God and Christ are two separate beings who have literal bodies composed of flesh and bone just like our earthly bodies.|
|10.||"What about the 'Aaronic' and 'Melchizedek' Priesthood?" The Mormon church claims that on May 16, 1829, John the Baptist conferred the Aaronic Priesthood on Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery (Doctrine and Covenants, Section 13). (A careful examination of this "revelation" reveals that it has been falsified.).|
|It is also claimed by Mormon leaders that before the church was organized, Peter, James and John restored the Melchizedek priesthood. However, again we have abundant evidence that this is not an accurate account; the so-called|
|Melchizedek Priesthood was not inaugurated until some years after the Mormon Church was organized.|
There are a dozen other items that could be enumerated, but these are enough for the purpose at hand. On your note pad you have recorded each question along with their answers. At this point, pause and then ask, "Isn't it true that Joseph Smith said that 'the Book of Mormon was the most correct book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and that a man could get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book?'" (History of the Church, Vol. 4, p. 461). They will usually answer "Yes." If they should hedge, quote the source. "Didn't he also say that it (Book of Mormon) contained the 'fullness of everlasting gospel?'" (Ibid. Vol. 1, p. 12). "Isn't it true that the Book of Mormon is the most important book to your religion, that it is the foundation of Mormonism?"
If there is any hesitancy on their part to admit the importance of the Book of Mormon, remind them of what President Ezra Taft Benson said on April 6, 1986, in Salt Lake City at the 156th Annual General Conference: "... the Book of Mormon has not been, nor is it yet, the center of our personal study, family teaching, preaching and missionary work. Of this we must repent!"
Your encounter has reached its peak! Hold up your pad and point to the questions you have asked them, along with their answers; then, very seriously, ask, "Gentlemen, would you please show me in your Book of Mormon where I can find these distinctive points of Mormonism?" They will reach for the Book of Mormon and thumb through it, but they won't find a single passage ... because it isn't there! Not a thing that is distinctive to Mormonism can be found in their best known book!
They will usually sit quietly, and, finally, one of them may proceed to "bear his testimony," that he knows "that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, and that the Book of Mormon is true." If he starts this, interrupt him. Tell him that you don't want his testimony; you want answers to these vital questions. (Allowing them to "bear their testimony" only gives them psychological support.) Incidentally, all of these distinctive
doctrines are found in their other works: Doctrine and Covenants, Pearl of Great Price, The Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, History of the Church, Journal of Discourses, etc. In several instances, some of their major beliefs and practices today are condemned in the Book of Mormon.
Sometimes the missionaries will get up and leave at this point. You can follow them to the street inviting them to return and discuss these matters further, and they will promise you that they will, but they won't. Others will continue to sit for awhile, and, if they do, then I bring out my Book of Mormon and ask them to turn to II Nephi 5 and read verse 15:
"And I did teach my people to build buildings, and to work in all manner of wood, and of iron, and of copper, and of brass, and of steel, and of gold, and of silver, and of precious ores, which were in great abundance."
I emphasize the statement that these items were in "great abundance." Then, I ask them to read the next verse:
"And I, Nephi, did build a temple; and I did construct it after the manner of the temple of Solomon save it were not built of so many precious things; for they were not to be found upon the land. ..."
Then, I ask, "Gentleman, which statement is true?" I've had them tell me that they had never seen that verse before! I ask, "Haven't you read your Book of Mormon?" They will say, "Yes, but we never noticed that before!"
If they continue to sit, I go back to the point of the Book of Mormon being the "Most correct book on earth." I say, "Gentlemen, if that statement is true, then why have there been 3,913 changes in the Book of Mormon between the first printing and current issue? This will surprise them because they will not know of a single change. At this point I pull out my reprint copy of the original Book of Mormon and place it alongside the current issue; then I produce a copy of 3,913 Changes in the Book of Mormon by Jerald and Sandra Tanner, in which every one of these changes are clearly marked. If they are still with me at this point, I then bear my testimony: That the Bible is indeed God's complete and final Word for man today, and give them
several passages to prove this (Jude 3; Galatians 1:8-9; Deuteronomy 4:2; Revelation 22:19); that Jesus Christ is the world's only Savior, that His blood cleanses us from all sins, that we do not need any additional revelation today nor the intervention of any man on earth to bridge the chasm separating God and man.
As previously mentioned, there is not one chance in ten million that you are going to convert either of these young men at this time. They have a spy system in which each of these young men is instructed to report any suspicious behavior of the other to their superior. If such a report is made, the man who shows any weakness will be transferred immediately. You'll never see him again!
Then, why make this approach? Remember, your goal is to shake his faith! If you can shake it enough in this encounter to bend it just a little, then you can take a little of the polish off of his testimony the next time he starts to bear it. He won't be quite as sure and convinced that the Book of Mormon is as inerrant as he has been led to believe. Secondly, when he gets back home, maybe he will become inactive in the Mormon religion (which many returning missionaries do). And, as the doubts you planted in his mind continue to haunt him, he will come to question the whole system, reject it, wade through a period of infidelity, and maybe somewhere, sometime, somebody will meet him and help him pick up the pieces of his life and put him back together in Christ Jesus. It has happened!
Finally, this same approach will work on your Mormon neighbor, you Mormon friend, you Mormon relative. You don't have to be as persistent in the initial encounter with these as you will have further opportunity to visit with them.
The better Mormon a Mormon is, the less he will comprehend true Christianity. He is honestly puzzled. Slowly, patiently, lovingly, step by step, teach him from his own scriptures that his faith is resting on the shifting sands of human error and not on the eternal Word of God.
Millions of people are trusting the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for their eternal destiny. They have been convinced that it is the only way to follow God's will. Zealous Mormons have, for over 150 years, declared the Mormon Church to be the one true restoration of the church on earth today.
But we must ask, "Can Mormonism back up its claims? Is it really the only way? Are its assertions true? Did Jesus really have many wives? Was He actually the spirit-brother of Lucifer, the offspring of Adam-God and Mary? Did Jesus really come to the Americas after His resurrection and preach the gospel to descendants of the Jews who supposedly had peopled these continents?".
The sacred books of the Mormons assert these doctrines and many more. Not content with the Bible as the only guide for faith and truth, the Mormon founders added three other books that are held by the church to be on a higher level than that of the Bible (which the Mormon Church claims is God's Word "insofar as it is translated correctly"). The other three books contain the basis for all the teachings of the LDS Church. Each is supposed to be an infallible record of God's will for man, displayed in sacred history and utterances from on high, both directly and through "prophets."
Let me say at this point that I respect the sincerity of the Latter-day Saints people. In the past 14 years, I have come to know many of them personally and am convinced that some of them really believe in their religion and strive diligently to follow its teachings. In contrast, and in all fairness, let me add that I also know a number of Mormons who no longer believe their religion, but who do not renounce it for various reasons; peer pressure, economic pressure, family loyalty, etc.
There are three main sources of Mormon authority and inspiration: the Book of Mormon, the Pearl of Great Price, and Doctrine and Covenants. The King James Version of the Bible is revered as God's Word by Mormons, but it occupies a much lower position of authority than do these three books, since Mormons have been told that "many great and precious truths"
have been omitted from the Bible as we know it today. The Doctrine and Covenants is a collection of writings purported to be a revelation given by God to Joseph Smith (although the last revelation was given to Brigham Young). The language is a strange conglomerate of King James English, Elizabethan poetical vocabulary, and 19th century romanticism. These so-called revelations supposedly deal with doctrines of the true church. Within its covers are found doctrines of Celestial Marriage, Baptism for the Dead and Polygamy, none of which are taught in either the Bible or the Book of Mormon. In fact, the Book of Mormon denounces polygamy as "grosser crime," "abominable," "wickedness" and "whoredom."
Probably the best known section of Doctrine and Covenants is Section 132, the famous section on plural marriage, in which Emma, Smith's first wife, is commanded to accept the "new" revelation on additional wives or fact eternal destruction.
Incidentally, convincing testimony is available to establish that Joseph had already married at least twelve other wives before the date of the revelation contained in Doctrine and Covenants.
In 1890, President Woodruff of the Mormon Church issued a "Manifesto" regarding the practice of plural marriage, but the wording of it is ambiguous and still open to question. The only part of the statement concerning a cessation of polygamy is the last sentence, "my advice to the Latter-day Saints is to refrain from contracting any marriage forbidden by the law of the land." This did not annul or abrogate the commandment on polygamy, nor in any way forbid its practice.
Polygamy is basically a part of the Mormon "Eternal Marriage System." In the past they made plural marriage a prerequisite to eternal increase and Godhood (Journal of Discourse, Vol. 21, p. 10). There can be no doubt that polygamy is believed and taught by the Mormon Church. It is still in Doctrine and Covenants which is considered to be an inspired message of God.
Several Mormon leaders are known to have practiced polygamy after the "Manifesto." Mormon Apostle John A. Widstoe said that the practice of plural marriage is "Biblical" (Joseph Smith, Seeker After Truth-Prophet of God,. Deseret News Press, 1951,
p. 235). Joseph F. Smith, sixth president of the Mormon Church, was arrested, pleaded guilty, and was fined 300 dollars for "cohabitation" (living with a plural wife) sixteen years after the Manifesto was supposed to have become effective (Deseret News, Nov. 23, 1906). Smith had sworn under oath "that the Manifesto prohibited the contraction of new plural marriages and also the living in polygamous cohabitation with wives taken previously." But, he was doing what he had sworn was not to be done.
Polygamy is still a tenet of Mormonism. Many Mormon men expect to practice it in heaven, as they are temple-sealed to a second wife after the death of their first wife. The Pearl of Great Price is a bridge between the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants. It is a combination of sacred history and latter-day commands. It consists of "The Articles of Faith" by Joseph Smith, portions of "The History of Joseph Smith the Prophet," "The Book of Abraham" and "The Book of Moses." It also has two portions of Joseph's "translation" of the Bible: Matthew 24 and Genesis 1-6.
The Book of Mormon is an account of the two great migrations to North and South America by Semites, the "Jaredites" and the followers of "Lehi," a Jew. The Jaredites were supposed to have lived near the Tower of Babel and to have crossed the ocean in 2250 B.C. aboard eight barges, driven by the wind for 344 days, all landing at exactly the same time and at exactly the same place ... the West Coast of Central America bringing with them animals never known to have been on this continent, such as "horses, donkeys, elephants, cows, oxen, cureloms and cummoms" (Book of Mormon, Ether 9:19; I Nephi 19:25).
After settling in Central America, the Jaredites founded a widespread civilization and built many cities. However, they did not get along with each other and began to fight among themselves and, in one battle, two million men, plus their wives and children, were slain (Ether 15:2). The war ragged so furiously that, finally, there were only two warriors left: Coriantumr and Shiz.
In the final battle Shiz was killed. The description of his death contains an interesting detail: "And it came to pass that after he [Coriantumr] had smitten off the head of Shiz, that Shiz raised
upon his hands and fell; and after that he had struggled for breath, he died" (Ether 15:31). Coriantumr, though seriously wounded in this battle, survived and lived with the people of Zarahemia for "nine moons" (Omni 21). The only other survivor of the Jaredites was the prophet Ether, who recorded the history of his people on twenty-four plates. Thus, the Jaredites were completely obliterated from North America.
The second, and far more important, group to travel from the Old World to the New consisted of Lehi and his descendants. Lehi was descended from the Israelite tribe of Manasseh, having left Jerusalem in 600 B.C. because of his prophecies of doom and the persecution he suffered. Lehi, his wife and their four sons moved to the region of the Red Sea and, once they had traveled to the ocean, sailed to the west coast of South America. The trip was aided by a mariner's compass which Lehi "found" (but which was not invented until the 12th century A.D. ... 1800 years later)!
Two of Lehi's sons were continually disobedient (Laman and Lemuel) and were subsequently cursed by God and received dark skins. The dark-skinned American Indians are said to be descendants of Laman. Lehi's two other sons' descendants, led by Nephi, remained faithful to God. They called themselves Nephites and moved into Central and South America.
In fulfillment of a prophecy made by Nephi, Jesus Christ supposedly came down from heaven in A.D. 34 and taught the faithful Nephites baptism, communion and the greater part of the Sermon on the Mount. In A.D. 385 the Nephites and Lamanites battled for a final time near the Hill Cumorah (near Joseph Smith's home town of Palmyra, New York), and all the Nephites except for Mormon's son, Moroni, were killed.
Mormon had been recording the history of his people on golden plates in the tradition of other scribes who had kept records on plates, stating with Nephi himself. Mormon hid the plates in the ground near the hill. After the battle, Moroni added the books of Ether and Moroni. In A.D. 421, Moroni buried these in the hill, along with others. Fourteen hundred years later, Moroni, now an angel, returned to the hill and gave these plates to Joseph Smith in 1827. Joseph, supposedly, translated these plates into what we know today as the Book of Mormon.
Orson Pratt, a well known Mormon Apostle, made the following statements concerning the Book of Mormon:
"This book must be either true or false ... If false, it is one of the most cunning, wicked, bold, deep-laid impositions ever palmed upon the world, calculated to deceive and ruin millions who will sincerely receive it as the word of God, and will suppose themselves securely built upon the rock of truth until they are plunged with their families into hopeless despair.
The Nature of the message of the Book of Mormon is such that, if true, no one can possibly be saved and reject it; if false, no one can possibly be saved and receive it. Therefore, every soul in all the world is equally interested in ascertaining its truth or falsity. ... If, after a rigid examination, it be found an imposition, it should be extensively published to the world as such; the evidences and arguments on which the imposture was detected should be clearly and logically stated, that those who have been sincerely yet unfortunately deceived may perceive the nature of the deception and be reclaimed, and that those who continue to publish the delusion, may be exposed and silenced ..." (Introduction to Divine Authenticity of the Book of Mormon, pp. 124-126).
In response to the foregoing statement by Orson Pratt, two things stand out. First, if the Book of Mormon is "true, no one can possibly be saved and reject it; if false, no one can possibly be saved and receive it." I agree with this statement. Further, I personally do not believe the Book of Mormon to be inspired of God. Therefore, I feel a responsibility to those who believe and to those who do not now, but may be led to believe it. I wish to inform those who now receive it; also, I hope to warn those who might otherwise receive it as truth.
Secondly, Mr. Pratt said that if, after examination, "it be found an imposition, it should be extensively published to the world as such." There is an abundance of unanswerable proof that the Book of Mormon as well as the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price, is not inspired, that they are self-contradictory, that they contradict each other, and that they hopelessly contradict the Bible.
Latter-day Saints confidently believe the Book of Mormon to be inspired, but, from the statements of those who it is claimed made the plates, they did not claim to be inspired. Nephi said:
"Yea, I make a record in the language of my father, which consists of the learning of the Jews and the language of the Jews and the language of the Egyptians. And I know that the record that I make is true; and I make it with mine own hand; and I make it according to my knowledge" (I Nephi 1:2-3). "Nevertheless I do not write anything upon the plates save it be that I think it to be sacred. And now, if I do err, even they did err of old" (I Nephi 19:6).
First, notice that Nephi did not claim to be inspired; he simply wrote, "according to his knowledge." And, he had to select from his own store of knowledge what things to write. He says he was careful in his selection of what he wrote and he wrote nothing "save it be that I think be sacred." Next, he admits that he might err in his selection of what he wrote. That certainly does not sound like he was writing a message given him by revelation from God, for if it had been from God, he would not have had to select what he wrote, and there would have been no possibility of an error. Next, notice he said his record was in "the language of my father," and then, in the next phrase, he said it was in the "language of the Egyptians." Nephi was a Jew who lived in Jerusalem in the "days of Zedekiah, King of Judah," according to the story. How could the record be in the language of his father, a Jew, and yet in the language of the Egyptians? The Book of Mormon contradicts itself in the first three verses!
Another writer in the Book of Mormon makes it equally clear that he did not write by inspiration. Jacob said:
"And he gave me, Jacob, a commandment that I should write upon these plates a few of the things which I considered to be most precious" (Jacob 1:2)
"And it came to pass that I, Jacob, began to be old; and the record of this people being kept on the other plates of Nephi, wherefore, I conclude this record declaring that I have written according to the best of my knowledge" (Jacob 7:26).
According to the story, Jacob wrote to "the best of my knowledge." Inspired men often wrote things, the meaning of which they did not know; neither do inspired men claim the things they write to be of their knowledge, but of that which God supplies.
Joseph Smith claimed the plates he translated were written in "reformed Egyptian." Egyptologists today affirm that there is no record of any such language having ever existed
From the statement made by Smith, one could expect to find the Book of Mormon as near perfection as man, aided by the Lord, can possibly make a book. And, when we see how it was written, we will have the right to expect it to be absolutely faultless.
Joseph Smith, Jr., claimed to find some plates in a hill in New York State on which was engraved the contents of the Book of Mormon. With the help of stones provided by the Lord, called Urim and Thummim, he translated the writing on the plates. The work of translating was done in such a way that it was impossible for them to make mistakes. We read:
"The prophet, scanning through the Urim and Thummim, the golden pages, would see appear, in lieu of the strange characters thereon, their equivalent in English words. These he would repeat and the scribe, separated from him by a veil or curtain, would write them down ... Until the writing was correct in every particular, the words last given would remain before the eyes of the translator, and not disappear. But on the necessary correction being made they would immediately pass away and be succeeded by others" (History of the Church, Brigham H. Roberts, p. 28).
"I will now give you a description of the manner in which the Book of Mormon was translated. Joseph Smith would put the seer stone into a hat and put his face in the hat, drawing it closely around his face to exclude the light; and, in the darkness, the special light would shine. A piece of something resembling parchment would appear, and on that appeared the writing. One character at a time would appear, and under it was the interpretation in English.
Brother Joseph would read off the English to Oliver Cowdery, who was the principal scribe, and when it was written down and repeated to Brother Joseph to see if it was correct, then it would disappear, and another character with the interpretation would appear. Thus, the Book of Mormon was translated by the gift and power of God and not by the power of any man" (Address to Believers, David Whitmer, p. 12. Whitmer was one of the three original witnesses of the Book of Mormon).
From this we gather, first, that Joseph Smith, Jr., was not the translator of the plates at all. Yet, every copy of the Book of Mormon carries on its title page, Translated by Joseph Smith, Jun. But, if these witnesses tell the truth, he did not translate at all. The translation was made by the "seer stone" or "Urim and Thummim," and Smith merely read off the translation to the scribe. But, in the next place, if this is the way the translation was made, there was absolutely no chance for a mistake to be made. If a mistake was made, even to the spelling of a word or a punctuation, the "words last given would remain" until the necessary correction was made. So, we may expect the book to be perfect in every respect ... in spelling, grammar, etc., unless the printer made a mistake. But, such is not the case. Fortunately, we have a statement from one in the printing office:
"I helped read proof on many pages of the book, and at odd times set some type. ... The penmanship of the copy furnished was good, but the grammar, spelling and punctuation were done by John H. Gilbert, who was chief composer in the office. I have heard him swear many a time at the syntax and the orthography of Cowdery, and declare that he would not set another line of type. There were no paragraphs, no punctuation and no capitals. All that was done in the printing office, and what a time there used to be in straightening sentences out" (Truth About Mormonism, Snowden, p. 68). Again, we read: "The book passed into a fluid condition and assumed a different form with every edition. In 1842, an edition appeared bearing on its title page the announcement, 'Carefully revised by the translator,' and such corrections have continued and accumulated so that 'a comparison of the latest Salt Lake edition with first has shown more than three thousand changes'" (Ibid. p. 69)
Here is a sampling of a few among the many mistakes which might be given. From the 1830 edition: "the priests was," p. 193; "they was added," p. 290; "that all might see the writing which he had wrote upon the rent," p. 351; "I have wrote them," p. 506; "I were about to write," p. 506; "teach baptism unto they," p. 506; "this thing had ought not to be," p. 582; "and this he done," p. 224.
These examples bear out the statement of the printer. Such mistakes might be excused if such claims had not been made for its manner of translation, which was made in such a way that there was no chance for man to alter it, for if any change or mistake of any kind was made, the words would not disappear until the "necessary correction" was made.
If the thoughtful reader of the first edition of the Book of Mormon believes Smith's statements as to the manner of translation, he must conclude the God of the Book of Mormon was very ignorant of the use of language. But, if the reader does not believe Smith's statements as to the manner of translation, how can he have any faith in anything Smith said?
There are three principal views as to the origin of this controversial volume:
|1.||That Joseph Smith, Jr., was indeed the author of the Book of Mormon, that the entire production was one of his own imagination. While it is true that he did have a fertile and active imagination, that he was a vivid and entertaining storyteller, and that he may have had the ability to conceive and record such a work, there is an abundance of information that casts strong suspicion on his sole authorship.|
|2.||That Joseph Smith was influenced by a previously published work entitled View of the Hebrews, by Ethan A. Smith. This book was first published in 1823 in Poultney, Vermont, where Ethan Smith was a Congregational minister. It enjoyed a ready market and a second edition, much enlarged, was published in 1825. The first edition was sold as far west as Erie County in western New York, so it was certainly available in that part of New York where Joseph Smith lived.|
In the early part of the 19th century there was considerable interest in the origin of the American Indians. Speculation gave birth to the idea that the American Indians were descended from the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel which had been carried into captivity by the Assyrians in the 8th century B.C. Several outstanding early American religious leaders had advocated this theory a century or more before the Book of Mormon was published in 1830. By 1830, a number of books had been published which advocated the theory of Hebraic origin of the Indians. In addition to many books on the subject, there were frequent articles and news reports in the newspapers concerning the Indians. With all this material coming off the presses, and with frequent unearthing of Indian relics, the origin of the Indians was a common topic of conversation among people of this period. In 1833, Josiah Priest could write, "The opinion that the American Indians are the descendants of the Lost Ten Tribes is now a popular one ..." (Josiah Priest, American Antiquities & Discoveries in the West, Albany, N.Y., 1833, p. 73).
That Joseph Smith, Jr., was familiar with all this available information is attested by his mother:
"During our evening conversation, Joseph would occasionally give us some of the most amusing recitals that could be imagined. He would describe the ancient inhabitants of this continent, their dress, mode of traveling, and the animals upon which they rode; their cities, their buildings, with every particular; their mode of warfare; and also their religious worship. This he would do with as much ease, seemingly, as if he had spent his whole life with them" (Lucy Mack Smith: Biographical Sketches of Joseph Smith the Prophet and His Progenitors for Many Generations, Liverpool, 1853, p. 85).
This statement from his mother clearly demonstrates his great interest in the ancient inhabitants of this continent as early as 1824, one year after the first edition of Ethan Smith's book was published. Where did Joseph get his information? He either made it up, or he got it from books available to him at this time. If from his imagination, then there is no reason to doubt that he could write a book like the Book of Mormon of his own imagination. But, if he supplied his mind from the material
available, then it shows that as early as 1824, he was informed of the Indian civilizations by then current writers. Now, if we combine the available information with an active imagination, we have all the ingredients necessary for Joseph to write the Book of Mormon!
It is also significant that Oliver Cowdery, a cousin to Joseph Smith who served as his scribe when the Book of Mormon was being written, had lived in Poultney, Vermont, from age three until 1825 (Andrew Jensen: The Historical Record, VI, Nos. 3-5, May 1887, SLC, pp. 196-197).
Remember, this is the same small town where Ethan Smith lived and published his View of the Hebrews. It would be nearly impossible for Oliver not to have known of the publication of View of the Hebrews in his own home town. In 1825 he left Poultney and went to western New York where he soon was associated with the Smith family. At any rate, it can hardly be doubted that Oliver, or Joseph, had read View of the Hebrews prior to composing of the Book of Mormon. Considering the subject matter of the two books, one must conclude that the material contained in View of the Hebrews was known to both of them. This becomes a virtual certainty when one views Joseph's story of the visitation of the angel Moroni and his acquisition of the golden plates.
B.H. Roberts, a Mormon apostle and historian, was so impressed with the similarities between the Book of Mormon and View of the Hebrews that he tabulated his findings as parallels between the books in the early part of this century, and he listed 18 of the more that 40 parallels. Naturally, there is no way to "prove" that Joseph Smith had a copy of View of the Hebrews before him as he composed the Book of Mormon. Nevertheless, there is abundant evidence that View of the Hebrews was a source of information used by Joseph. If only a few insignificant parallels between the two books were noted, it would not arouse much attention. On the other hand, a large number of parallels, many of them very striking in nature, presents evidence which must be honestly considered. Now, it is not claimed that Joseph used the plot or plan of View of the Hebrews in the Book of Mormon. Rather, it is evident that he incorporated many of the ideas in his writing and it provided him with much source material.
Finally, on this point, the possibility of Joseph's having used View of the Hebrews in no way precludes his use of other possible sources in writing the Book of Mormon ... which brings us to the last source to be considered in this report.
|3.||That Joseph Smith plagiarized an unpublished work of one Solomon Spaulding, entitled Manuscript Found. Solomon Spaulding was born in 1761, in Ashford, Connecticut, and, from early life, he developed a taste for literary pursuits, excelling in study beyond most of his classmates. He turned his attention to religious subjects and finished Dartmouth College in 1785 with a Master's Degree. He was ordained in the Congregational denomination and served about ten years. Ill health plagued him, which limited his work. Marital problems, coupled with theological doubts, terminated his public ministry. A business venture with his brother failed. So did other attempts to support himself in business.|
Spaulding's health deteriorated further and, to occupy his time, he began writing novels. In 1812, he moved to Pittsburg in hopes of printing and selling his second novel (Manuscript Found) hoping to retire his debts. He died in 1816.
Solomon spading was a romantic. He loved stories of adventure and romantic history and had an almost insatiable desire to know the history of the American continents. He spent many hours writing his own "history" of the Americas and many additional hours sharing his literary productions with friends, neighbors and almost anyone who would listen. Unfortunately, others did not share his conviction that he was a great novelist. They simply tolerated his "readings" and, instead of being known as "Solomon the Novelist," he became known as "Old Came-to-Pass" after one of his favorite literary phrases: "and it came to pass."
Spaulding's first novel was called Manuscript Story. Since it was experimental, he abandoned it and prepared a new one, Manuscript Found. In time this work was taken to a print shop in Pittsburg. The printer, upon examination, said it appeared to have merit but needed a preface. Spaulding prepared the preface and returned in a few months only to discover that his manuscript had disappeared, apparently stolen, only to resurface in 1830 as the Book of Mormon with modifications and revisions.
Coincidentally, one Sidney Rigdon was frequently seen at the print shop and was suspected and accused of having purloined the manuscript. Rigdon was also an associate of Joseph Smith and an early convert to Mormonism. He is believed to have helped frame the Mormon Church.
Statements from many different witnesses are available for inspection as to the relationship between the Book of Mormon and the Spaulding Manuscript Found. John Spaulding, Solomon's brother, recalls his brother's life leading up to the composition of Manuscript Found and its similarity to the Book of Mormon. He says in part: "... I have recently read the Book of Mormon and, to my great surprise, I find it nearly the same historical matter, names, etc., as they were in my brother's writings. I well remember that he wrote in the old style and commenced about every sentence with "And it came to pass," or "Now it came to pass," the same as the Book of Mormon, and ... it is the same as my brother Solomon wrote, with the exception of the religious matter ..." (Howe, E.D., History of Mormonism, pp. 278-280).
John's wife, Solomon's sister-in-law, made a similar statement. She said, "... the names of Nephi and Lehi are yet fresh in my memory ... Lamanites and ... Nephites ... I have read the Book of Mormon which brought fresh to my recollection the writings of Solomon Spaulding; and I have no doubt ... that the historical part is the same that I heard read more than twenty years ago. The old, obsolete style and the phrases of 'and it came to pass' are the same (Ibid. pp. 280-281). Henry Lake, a short-time business partner with Solomon Spaulding in 1811, verified that the historical part of the Book of Mormon is ... taken from the Manuscript Found (Ibid. p. 284).
John N. Miller, an employee of Henry Lake, stated that he was familiar with Spaulding's novel, Manuscript Found, and that his later acquaintance with the Book of Mormon confirmed his belief that the two books were essentially one and the same (Ibid. pp. 283-294).
Similar statements from Spaulding's widow and from his daughter echo the same testimony.
Another witness to this period of the manuscript's history is Aaron Wright, the Justice of the Peace in Conneaut, Ohio, where Solomon Spaulding lived
from 1809 to 1812. When the Book of Mormon was read during a public meeting in Conneaut in 1832, it was Justice Wright who exclaimed, "Old Come-to-Pass has come to life!" He further said, "... I will observe that the names of, and most of the historical part of the Book of Mormon, were as familiar to me before I read it as most modern history. ... If Smith was inspired, I think it was by the same spirit that Spaulding was, which he confessed to be the love of money" (Ibid. 284).
Throughout most of the remainder of the 19th century there were many witnesses who added their testimony to those mentioned; people whose lives had crossed that of Simon Spaulding in his declining years, who had heard him read frequently from his Manuscript Found, and then came in contact with the Book of Mormon, also known then as The Golden Bible. Without exception, they have corroborated those already quoted.
However, the Mormon Church has consistently denied any connection between these two documents, refusing to accept the testimony of Spaulding's contemporaries, and declaring that until the manuscript (or portion thereof) was produced, circumstantial evidence was useless.
It has been the position of the Latter-day Saints to claim that the Manuscript Story was the same as the Manuscript Found and that there was no second novel; therefore, the circumstantial evidence alone was not acceptable. But, their position is untenable because a number of witnesses remember hearing unusual names from Spaulding's second novel with are identical to names in the Book of Mormon, such as "Nephi, Lehi, Lamanites, Nephites, Mormon, Maroni." This striking duplication of unique names should convince even a skeptic of the common authorship of Manuscript Found and the Book of Mormon. In addition to the duplicate name phenomenon, the writing style of both books is identical. Evidently Smith's god was addicted to Elizabethan speech patterns and, no wonder, when we note extended portions of the Book of Mormon verbatim from the King James Version of the Bible.
Finally both Manuscript Found and the Book of Mormon capitalized on the theme common to the period: the fate of the lost tribes of Israel. Again, many of these same witnesses
affirmed similar testimony, such as that from Redick McKee: "I recollect quite well Mr. Spaulding spending much time in writing ... what purported to be a veritable history of the nations or tribes that inhabited Canaan ..." (Washington Press, Reporter, April 21, 1969). The weight of such testimony is too much for the thin foundation of the Book of Mormon. Even if no portion of Spaulding's second manuscript still existed today, the objective student of history must acknowledge that Joseph Smith derived the Book of Mormon from Spaulding's second novel.
We have the testimony of those who were familiar with Spaulding's work who identified his writing with the Book of Mormon. We have the testimony of those who knew that Spaulding claimed Rigdon stole his manuscript as well as the testimony of those to whom Rigdon showed his clandestine manuscript. We have the testimony of those who placed Rigdon within reach of the Spaulding novel at the time it was lost. We have the testimony of those who heard Rigdon allude to a "coming new religion." We have the testimony of those who knew that Rigdon and Smith were acquainted with each other long before Mormonism started and long before Rigdon was "converted." We have the testimony of those who heard Rigdon preach Mormonism before his "conversion." The aggregate force of this testimony is overwhelming: the Book of Mormon was taken from Solomon Spaulding's Manuscript Found.
Yet, in the face of all this evidence, the Mormon Church contends that not a single parallel exists and that there is no connection at all between the Book of Mormon and the writings of Solomon Spaulding. Well, it just happens that a descendant of Oliver Cowdery, Wayne Cowdrey (albeit, a slight difference in name spelling), a former Mormon, has done extensive research into this matter and has co-authored an outstanding work entitled Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon? Wayne Cowdrey was told by the Mormon Church that there is not one single parallel between the surviving Spaulding work (his first novel) and the Book of Mormon. But, Cowdrey's study revealed to him that there were not just a few parallels between these two works, but literally scores of parallels! After discovering these parallels, Cowdrey resolved to leave the Mormon Church and presented some of these parallels at his "trial of excommunication."
But the thing most needed would be a copy of Spaulding's Manuscript Found along with a copy of the manuscript of the Book of Mormon. If we could actually find part of Spaulding's second novel in his own handwriting, and if it were strikingly similar to the Book of Mormon, this would constitute additional proof that the Book of Mormon came from Solomon Spaulding's Manuscript Found. This proof has now been discovered: we have actually found twelve pages of the original Book of Mormon rendered in Solomon Spaulding's own handwriting! (Cowdrey, Davis & Scales, Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon?, 1977, p. 167).
A portion of the original Book of Mormon manuscripts known by the Mormon Church as the "unidentified scribe" section has been discovered. This one section, six sheets in length (12 pages of writing) did not match the handwriting of any of the known associates of Smith. It was labeled "unidentified scribe." Studies have revealed Solomon Spaulding to be that scribe (Ibid. p. 170). This group of 12 pages begins at I Nephi 4:20-37 and ends with I Nephi 11:32-12:8. It is these 12 pages that contain the handwriting of Solomon Spaulding. There is no question of the authenticity of either the Book of Mormon manuscripts or Spaulding's known specimens of handwriting (Ibid. p. 172). William Kaye, a world renowned Examiner of Questioned Documents, studied the photocopied documents and concluded that both writings were executed by the same hands. Two other experts, Howard Doulder and Henry Silver, also verified the same findings.
What is the verdict on the handwriting? The overwhelming weight of evidence shows that the unidentified section of the Book of Mormon is in the actual handwriting of Solomon Spaulding.
What is the verdict on the Spaulding authorship of the Book of Mormon? The evidence shows conclusively that Solomon Spaulding is the actual source of the fictionalized history known today at the Book of Mormon!
The astute observation by Mormon Apostle Orson Pratt, noted near the beginning of this section (p. 13), has been carefully considered. The weight of the evidence from credible witnesses has established the fact: the Book of Mormon is not a divine
revelation. Rather, the evidence shows that it is the product of the fertile imagination of Joseph Smith, who was strongly influenced by the writings and counsel of other men. The Book of Mormon is not a message from the God of the Bible and the millions who have believed it and built their hopes upon it and the church it supports will be plunged into hopeless despair when Christ comes again.
My earnest prayer is that those who have been sincerely deceived may perceive their deception and be reclaimed before it is everlastingly too late!
The Book of Mormon is the baited hook by which Mormons lure thousands of new converts into their ranks every year. Prospective converts are urged to read it and then pray, asking God if it is true. Only upon reading it do they learn of its threats of eternal condemnation to all who reject it (II Nephi 33:10-15; Mormon 8:16). Obviously, accepting it would seem safer than rejecting it under those circumstances, and this is undoubtedly one of the reasons for its success.
The Book of Mormon claims to be superior to the Bible. The first 100 pages are spent laying the groundwork for this position. Its basic presupposition is that the Bible has been altered by unscrupulous clergy in centuries past and that it no longer contains all the truth which God wants man to have. This, then, creates a need for the Book of Mormon, which claims to restore those "plain and precious things" which are necessary for the salvation of mankind (I Nephi 13:26-40). It claims to be a record written on golden plates by prophets of a white race who lived in America for about 1000 years.
This race was exterminated in A.D. 421. The indigenous race inhabiting the Americas when Columbus arrived in 1492 is portrayed by the Book of Mormon to be the cousins of that white race, cursed with dark skin for having rejected God (II Nephi 5:21).
The Book of Mormon teaches that the American Indians are actually Israelites of the tribes of Judah, Ephraim and Manasseh. Their skin curse is to be removed within a few generations after
being converted to Jesus Christ through the Book of Mormon (II Nephi 30:6). This change in skin color from dark to white has supposedly taken place several times in the past whenever they turned to the Lord (Alma 23:18; III Nephi 2:14-16).
Perhaps its greatest claim is that it is preparing the way for the Second Coming of Jesus. Christ's Second Coming is to be preceded by a massive conversion of the American Indians to Christ through the Book of Mormon. These converted Indians will then exterminate those Gentiles in the Americas who will not accept it. After that, the believing Indians and the Mormons will build the New Jerusalem where Christ will return to live (III Nephi 16:11-16; 21:24-25). Subsequent revelation by Joseph Smith revealed this site to be in Independence, Missouri (Doctrine and Covenants 84:2-3). Faith in the Book of Mormon thus becomes an added condition for salvation besides faith in Jesus Christ.
In reality, the Book of Mormon contains very little original information. Rather, Joseph Smith apparently reworked information which he had assimilated and then presented it as a "translation" from the Golden Plates. This can easily be demonstrated by comparing the Book of Mormon with older sources which were available to him.
Material in the Book of Mormon will be examined which appears to have been plagiarized from:
1. The Maccabees (Second Century B.C.).
2. Shakespeare's Hamlet.
3. Solomon Spaulding's Manuscript Found.
4. Josephus' Wars of the Jews.
5. Ethan Smith's View of the Hebrews.
6. The King James Version of the Bible.
The most common masculine name in the Book of Mormon and the title of four of its 15 books is "Nephi." Most Mormons are surprised to learn this name is found in II Maccabees 2:36, only here it is a place name, not a person's name.
In the Book of Mormon, a paraphrase from Shakespeare shows evidence of plagiarism. Here, the Book of Mormon represents Lehi, who supposedly lived about 600 B.C. as saying, "cold
Then, there is the French word "adieu" in the Book of Mormon (Jacob 7:27). This was supposed to have been translated from Reformed Egyptian on the Golden Plates into English. Why the French? Furthermore, the events in the book of Jacob supposedly occurred between the years 544-421 B.C., but the French language did not begin to develop until around A.D. 700. Incidentally, the expression is very common throughout Shakespeare's writings.
Ever since the publication of the Book of Mormon in 1830, it has been accused of being a plagiarism from an unpublished manuscript by Solomon Spaulding. Church officials stoutly deny any connection. By comparing the Book of Mormon and the Spaulding Manuscript these documented conclusions are apparent:
|1.||Both outlines of the two works are essentially the same.|
|2.||Both records claim to have been found in "the same way."|
|3.||Both were "written for the same purpose."|
|4.||Both "tell the story of the same ancient American inhabitants."|
|5.||Both "have the same sea voyage."|
|6.||Both "have light-skinned and dark-skinned people."|
|7.||Both "tell of the same arts and sciences."|
|8.||Both "have a comparable Christian theology."|
|9.||Both "present a white God-person.|
|10.||Both "involve the use of seer stones."|
|11.||Both claim to contain an abridged history of the extinct inhabitants of ancient America."|
|12.||Both describe how the record was deposited, supernaturally protected, and how its finder made a translation of it.|
|13.||Both state that it "will come forth ... when the Europeans (Gentiles) inhabit the land" (M.F. 3-4; I Nephi 13:35).|
|14.||Both "translators" testify of the truthfulness of the work and request that the readers read it "with a pure heart" (M.F. 2-3; Moroni 10:4-5).|
|15.||Both have the earth revolving around the sun ... something unknown until A.D. 1543 (M.F. 16, Helaman 12:13-15). (The book of Helaman is dated 7 B.C.!)|
|16.||A Theological address by an Indian chief in Spaulding's manuscript contains "the same thots" and they are "in the same order" as in a similar address in the Book of Mormon by King Benjamin (M.F. 26-32 and Mosiah 1-4).|
|17.||Spaulding's leader teaches from a "sacred roll" while King Benjamin teaches from "plates of brass."|
|18.||The religious section of Spaulding is identical in style to that found throughout the Book of Mormon.|
|19.||Both include coins and fortifications.|
|20.||Both have similar scenes of bloodshed even down to the final combat between enemy commanders.|
|21.||Both depict a "little band" of warriors ... 3,000 in Manuscript Found and 2,000 in the Book of Mormon.|
Besides these parallels, there are literally hundreds of identical or similar word combinations. Here are just a few:
Even more surprising is the land area described in the two books. Book of Mormon geographically neatly matches the land described in Manuscript Found. In addition, there are dozens of place names that are either identical or very similar. To bolster the case for Spaulding's Manuscript Found being a source of the Book of Mormon, this quotation by Mormon archaeologist Joseph Vincent lends support:
"If a sincere student of the Book of Mormon will conscientiously read and study the book itself and will plot out all the locations mentioned ... he will find that all Book of
Mormon lands lie within a 500 to 600 mile radius, and that this area could not possibly extend from Chile to New York."
There are parallels between the Book of Mormon and the works of Josephus. It is not likely that Joseph Smith would have studied Josephus; but Spaulding was a seminary graduate, and it is very likely that he would have known about Josephus' writings. All the more reason to conclude that Smith borrowed from Spaulding's manuscripts.
by Ethan Smith
One of Spaulding's seminary classmates was Ethan Smith, author of View of the Hebrews. This book presented the position, held by nearly all religious leaders in America at that time, that the Indians were descendants of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel. It was published in 1823, the same year that Joseph Smith claimed to have had his "First Vision." At any rate, much of the material in it was incorporated into the Book of Mormon.
B.H. Roberts, an Apostle and General Authority of the Mormon Church, did an analysis of this book and its possible relation to the Book of Mormon in 1921 at the request of the Mormon Church. Interestingly enough, he came to the conclusion that View of the Hebews could have been one of the human sources for the contents of the Book of Mormon and that Joseph Smith was sufficiently intelligent to have written it with this book and other source materials available to him.
The results of his studies have only recently become available to the public having been published by the Utah Lighthouse Ministry in Salt Lake City. Here are just a few of more than 40 parallels drawn by Roberts:
|1.||Both books begin with "the destruction of Jerusalem and the scattering of Israel" in 600 B.C.|
|2.||Ethan Smith begins his second chapter by quoting from Isaiah to prove that Judah and Israel will be restored in the last days.|
|a.||One of the passages quoted is from Isaiah 11, and this is one of the quotes that Joseph Smith claimed the angel Moroni made to him on September 23rd, 1823, telling him of the golden plates.|
|b.||In both cases, they are quoted from the only version of the bible in common use in that day ... the King James Version.|
|c.||"Many of the passages quoted ... are identical."|
|3.||Both reported the use of iron and steel by the ancient inhabitants of America.|
|4.||Both report that vast multitudes once filled North America.|
|5.||Both report the use of the Urim and Thummim by the ancient Indians.|
|6.||Both are against polygamy.|
|7.||Both report that the Indians once had a holy book, but lost it and fell out of favor with God.|
|8.||Both speak of Egyptian hieroglyphic in America.|
|9.||Both have a division into two peoples ... one civilized and one barbarian.|
|10.||Both depict knowledge of the mechanical arts, written language and one God as typical of the American Indians.|
|11.||Both proclaim destruction of the disobedient Gentiles by converted Indians.|
|a.||This prophecy is given three times in the Book of Mormon by Jesus Christ Himself (III Nephi 16:8-16; 20:14-17; 21: 11-13).|
|b.||Concerning this prophecy, Roberts observes: "All of this might have seemed possible to men living in the early decades of the 19th century, 1820-1830, when Indian tribes of unknown strength but well attested ferocity occupied the greater part of the land over which the United States now extends its jurisdiction, but it is scarcely possible now to entertain such conceptions of native race terror, triumph and domination over the Gentile nation of the United States. All reasonable expectation of such an event has passed."|
Here, Joseph Smith overstepped himself, for even this General Authority of the Mormon Church finds it incredible to believe that Jesus Christ would promote the Book of Mormon to that
extent. The LDS Church now concedes that Smith used the King James Bible as one of his primary sources when it came to extended quotes from the Bible. The long passages quoted from Isaiah as well as from Malachi and other books of the Bible have forced them to this admission. This causes a problem because the official position of the church for many years was that the Urim and Thummim, which accompanied the golden plates, was the exclusive means of translation and that every word of the Book of Mormon was divinely translated.
|1.||The New Testament portion of the King James Version is often quoted in the Old Testament portion of the Book of Mormon.|
|a.||"Ye must pray always, and not faint" (II Nephi 32:9; [559-545 B.C.] Luke 18:1).|
|b.||"Everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels" (Mosiah 26:27; [120-100 B.C.] Matthew 25:41).|
|c.||"Then shall the righteous shine forth in the kingdom of God" (Alma 40:25; [173 B.C.] Matthew 13:43).|
|2.||Words of the Apostle Paul are quoted in the Old Testament portion of the Book of Mormon:|
|a.||"Steadfast and unmovable, always abounding in good works" (Mosiah 5:15; [124 B.C.] I Corinthians 15:58).|
|b.||"Mortal shall put on immortality" (Enos 1:27; [544-421 B.C.] I Corinthians 15:54).|
|c.||"The nurture and admonition of the Lord" (Enos 1:1; [544-421 B.C.] Ephesians 6:4).|
|3.||The books of Hebrews and Revelation are quoted or paraphrased in the Old Testament portion of the Book of Mormon:|
|a.||The Spirit is "the same yesterday, today and forever" (II Nephi 2:4; [588-570 B.C.] Hebrews 13:8).|
|b.||Believers "endured the crosses of the world, and despised the shame" (II Nephi 9:18; [559-545 B.C.] Hebrews 12:2).|
|4.||Old Testament Book of Mormon characters were modeled after New Testament persons. Note comparison between Alma and Paul (Mosiah 27):|
|a.||Both tried to "destroy the church" before their conversion.|
|b.||Both were on a "mission of persecution" the day they were converted.|
|c.||In both cases, those "present fell to earth."|
|d.||In both cases, a voice spoke which others could not understand.|
|e.||Both were asked by the voice why they were fighting against the work of God.|
|f.||Both were helpless and "had to be helped by their friends."|
|g.||Both fasted and prayed as a result.|
|h.||Both preached after being converted.|
|i.||Both worked with their hands to support their ministeries.|
|j.||Both healed a crippled man.|
|k.||Both "were put into prison."|
|l.||Both prayed in prison.|
|m.||Both experienced an earthquake while in prison.|
|n.||In both cases, "the prisoner's bonds were loosed."|
|o.||Both taught the same doctrines. For example:|
|(1)||Faith, hope and charity (Alma 7:24; I Corinthians 13:13).|
|(2)||The power of God unto salvation (Alma 15:6; Romans 1:16).|
|(3)||Without God in the world (Alma 41:11; Ephesians 2:12).|
|(4)||Lay aside every sin which easily doth beset you (Alma 7:15; Hebrews 12:1).|
|(5)||It is appointed unto men that they must die; and after death, they must come to judgment (Alma 12:27; Hebrews 9:27).||5.||Sometimes several different Bible verses manage to get into a single Book of Mormon verse.|
|a.||In II Nephi 9:9, there are no less than four Bible verses from three different books of the Bible interwoven into one verse of the LDS edition (Matthew 25:41; John 8:44; II Corinthians 11:3, 14).|
|b.||In II Nephi 9:16, there are two verses from Matthew and two from Revelation in one verse of the LDS edition (Matthew 24:35; Revelation 22:11; Matthew 24:41; Revelation 14:10-11).|
|6.||The biggest surprises of all are where Joseph Smith slips completely and has his ancient American inhabitants reading the King James Version New Testament in 7 B.C.|
|a.`||"I would that all men might be saved" (II Peter 3:9). "But we read that in the great and last day there are some who will be cast out, yea who shall be cut off|
|from the presence of the Lord" (Matthew 25:30). "Yea, who shall be consigned to a state of endless misery, fulfilling the words which say: They that have done good shall have everlasting life; and they that have done evil shall have everlasting damnation (Matthew 25:46) and thus it is. Amen" (Helaman 12:25-26).|
|b.||"For do we not read that God is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8), and in him there is no variableness, neither shadow of changing" (James 1:17; Mormon 9:9, A.D 400-421)?|
The plagiarisms in these passages are undeniable. Besides its obvious plagiarisms, other serious problems plague the Book of Mormon.
Joseph Smith claimed that the Book of Mormon was the most correct book in the world and that a man could get closer to God by reading it than by any other Book.
The Mormon Church has had a policy of not annotating its changes in the Book of Mormon, thus its people are not generally aware that it has been changing the Book of Mormon. In fact, Mormon leaders still use this quotation to impress its members with the book's accuracy.
However, a look at the original 1830 edition in comparison with a current edition will quickly disillusion anyone who believes the statement about the accuracy of the Book of Mormon. This has resulted in the publication of a book by the Utah Lighthouse Mission which compares the original 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon with the 1964 LDS edition. It appropriately named 3913 changes in the Book of Mormon.
The 1981 edition of the Book of Mormon has made it obsolete as it has over 200 additional changes. Mormon General Authority B.H. Roberts wrote wearily about his frustration with Book of Mormon errors:
"Many errors, verbal and grammatical, have already been eliminated in the later editions, and there is no valid reason why every one of those that remain should not be eliminated. ... There is just no good reason why we should not have just as good a Book of Mormon in the English language as they now have in the French, the German, the Swedish and the Danish. ... The present writer hopes that he will live to see those verbal and grammatical changes authorized."
Despite Joseph Smith's declaration that the Book of Mormon is the most correct book on earth, the Book of Mormon actually apologizes for being poorly written; yet, practically in the same sentence, brazenly condemns all who refuse to believe it:
"... when we write we behold our weakness and stumble because of the placing of our words; and I fear lest the Gentiles shall mock at our words. And when I had said this, the Lord spake unto me saying, "Fools mock, but they shall mourn" (Ether 12:25-26).
The Book of Mormon teaches that the gospel has been known by holy men throughout the ages. The New Testament, however, teaches that knowledge of the complete plan of salvation through Christ was a mystery which was not revealed to anyone before it was made known to the apostles after Christ's resurrection (Ephesians 3:3-5; Romans 16:25-26; Colossians 1:26-27; Ephesians 3:8-10).
Peter, in I Peter 1:12, reveals that even angels of heaven did not understand the gospel mystery until it was revealed to the apostles after Christ's resurrection. However, in the Book of Mormon, angels were constantly revealing the gospel to the Nephites. This demonstrates conclusively that the entire theological basis of the Book of Mormon is non-Biblical.
Scientific investigative methods as to the questions of the history and origin of the American Indian did not begin until the latter
part of the 19th Century. This should be of special interest to the LDS Church, since, logically, this should prove that Joseph Smith was a true prophet. However, the LDS Church has not welcomed the new discoveries because they show that he was a false prophet rather than a true one.
Even today, Mormon missionaries cite as evidence outmoded ideas which are nearly 200 years out of date. When pressed to present modern evidence, they immediately turn from objective evidence to the subjective method of simply "asking God" if the Book of Mormon is true. They are taught that this is a better way of confirming spiritual truth than testing it by objective investigation.
The results of scientific inquiry may be divided into four categories: (1) Racial, (2) Linguistic, (3) Cultural, (4) Religious.
Scientific examination has determined that the American Indian has the physical characteristics of the Asian Mongolians. It is thought that a land bridge between Siberia and Alaska, over which Asian tribes migrated, existed in the past.
Five different linguistic stocks form the basis for all the languages of the American Indians. Each of these stocks are as completely unrelated, for example, as English and Hebrew. These form the base for 169 related languages that are still as unintelligible as English is to German. Then, these major languages are broken down into numerous dialects which are, and can be, used with a certain amount of mutual understanding between them. However, none of the language stocks are related to any existing Old World languages. While different civilizations did rise and fall in Pre-Columbian America, only the Mayas in Yucatan developed a written language. Especially in Central America, the Indians showed themselves to be notable astronomers. The Mayans divided the year into 18 months of 20 days each. Five days were added at the end of the year, and a sixth day was added each four years.
The unbroken record of Indian religions is of a paganism which included idol worship, cannibalism and human sacrifice. Its animism and belief in witchcraft is well documented. No evidence exists indicating that this religion was ever changed or interrupted.
When comparing these findings with the Book of Mormon, the great gulf between them immediately becomes apparent. The Book of Mormon presents three migrations to the Americas, all from the Middle East. The first was in 2250 B.C., shortly before the confusion of languages at the Tower of Babel (Ether 2:5), and there were no other migrations until 600 B.C. The second and third were shortly after 600 B.C. Both of these later migrations were composed of Israelites. One of them found one lone survivor of the previous inhabitants. Other than that, all three migrations found the Americas empty of inhabitants (II Nephi 1:9-11).
Scientific findings agree, however, that the Americas have been inhabited without any sign of annihilations for at least 5,000 years. Evidence that a white race inhabited Pre-Columbina America is nonexistent. Furthermore, they body structure of the Indians is different from that of the Jewish race.
The Book of Mormon teaches that both the white and the dark races inhabiting the Americas spoke and wrote a mutually intelligible language based on Hebrew as late as A.D. 400 and that the knowledge of Egyptian writing was current, though it had been reformed (Mormon 9:32).
This is adverse to archaeological findings which state that neither Hebrew nor Egyptian writings existed in ancient America. The only existent script in ancient America, the Mayan script in Yucatan, bears absolutely no resemblance to the letters copied from the golden plates by Joseph Smith.
The Book of Mormon states that the inhabitants of ancient America had iron and steel and weapons (II Nephi 5:15), linen and silk clothes (Alma 1:29), and nearly every kind of domesticated animal which we have today (I Nephi 18:25; II Nephi 17:21; III Nephi 7:8). There is absolutely no evidence that any of these things or animals existed. It even states that the ox was found in America in A.D. 600 in a wild state (I Nephi 18:25). This makes the whole matter suspect, as the ox is a product of human surgical intervention.
The animals mentioned as domesticated in the Book of Mormon were unknown in Pre-Columbian America, as were some of the grains such as barley and wheat (Mosiah 7:22; 9:9).
One of the archaeologists at the Archaeological Center in Kampsville, Illinois, is a part-Cherokee Indian named John White. He affirms that he has read the Book of Mormon and says that the results of the diggings there in no way resemble ancient Indian life as described in it. This coincides with what Ross T. Christensen, a Mormon anthropologist at BYU has admitted: "The statement that the Book of Mormon has already been proved by archaeology is misleading."
Due to the recurring claims of some Mormon missionaries that scientists use the Book of Mormon in their archaeological investigations, the Smithsonian Institute of Washington, D.C., periodically puts out a letter clarifying its position. In one such letter, dated "Summer 1979," they clearly state:
"The Smithsonian Institution has never used the Book of Mormon in any way as a scientific guide. Smithsonian archaeologist see no direct connection between the archaeology of the New World and the subject matter of the book."
If a person is not convinced of the fraudulent nature of the Book of Mormon by the internal textual evidence, then the scientific refutations should suffice. The Book of Mormon, when examined closely, turns out to be full of plagiarisms, unannotated changes, non-Biblical doctrines and misinformation about the American Indian's past.
It Cannot Be the Word of God!!!
Doctrine and Covenants is a collection of writings purported to be revelations given by God to Joseph Smith and a few others. These so-called revelations were first printed in The Book of Commandments in 1833 and is the first published collection of the "revelations" Joseph Smith supposedly received during and after translation of Book of Mormon. It was enlarged and reprinted in 1835 with the new title of Doctrine and Covenants.
The language is a strange conglomerate of King James English, Elizabethan poetical vocabulary, and 19th Century Romanticism. These spurious revelations supposedly deal with doctrines of the true church: Celestial Marriage, Baptism for the Dead, Plural Marriage and others, none of which are taught in either the Bible or the Book of Mormon.
Many of the revelations that appear in modern editions of Doctrine and Covenants have undergone drastic change since they were first printed in The Book of Commandments. The Book of Commandments contains 65 revelations that came between July, 1828, and September 1831. In contrast, Doctrine and Covenants contains an additional 71 sections.
furthermore, a comparison of the two documents reveal over 2,800 word changes that have been made in the revelations. Some verses are rewritten, some are omitted; others added. Yet, both books claim to be the Word of God! Despite all these obvious changes, Joseph Fielding Smith, the 10th Prophet Seer and Revelator of the Mormon Church, made the following statement::
"There was no need for eliminating, changing or adjusting any part to make it fit: but each new revelation on doctrine and priesthood fitted in it's place perfectly to complete the whole structure, as it had been prepared by the Master Builder" (Doctrines of Salvation, Vol. 1, p. 170).
In the Book of Commandments 1:7, as well as Doctrine and Covenants 1:37-38, this claim is made to the faithfulness of the revelations:
"Search these commandments, for they are true and faithful. ... What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and through the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away ... For ... the Spirit beareth record, and the record is true, and the truth abideth forever and ever. Amen."
After such an affirmation it is shocking to learn that the Doctrine and Covenants has so many changes; changes that are not of minor significance, but of major importance! By what
justification could anyone, Joseph Smith or anyone else, take out whole paragraphs, put in whole paragraphs, reverse the meaning, contradict what was originally said, when in no uncertain language Section One says these words would never pass away!
But more ironic is that, generally, Mormon officials have denied that any changes have been made in either the Book of Mormon or Doctrine and Covenants. Mormon Apostle John A. Widstoe stated:
"The Doctrine and Covenants is a compilation of the revelations received by Joseph smith. ... The book itself is a witness for the truth of the Prophet's claims. The explanations of old doctrines and presentations of new ones are convincing evidences of their divine origin. Enemies of the Church have rather carefully avoided the discussion of the book. They have been afraid of it" (Joseph Smith, Seeker After Truth, 1951, pp. 251 & 254).
Contrary to Apostle Widstoe's statement, anti-Mormon writers have not been afraid to discuss the Doctrine and Covenants. In fact, they have made some rather serious charges concerning it. Anti-Mormon writer Henry Caswall made this statement concerning the Doctrine and Covenants:
"Two editions of this work were published, the first in 1833 and the second in 1835. Great inconsistencies exist between the several parts of the book and the editions is 1833 and 1835 are in several respects repugnant to each other."
Does this sound like a fearful avoidance of challenging the divine origin of the Doctrine and Covenants?
Ironically, Mormon Church officials have attempted to suppress the truth concerning the Book of Commandments and the changes in the revelations. In early 1961, Jerald and Sandrda Tanner were permitted to photocopy the first 41 pages of Wilford Woodruff's (fourth president of the Mormon Church) original copy of the Book of Commandments from microfilm at the Brigham Young University Library. But when the Church Historian's Office in Salt Lake City found out that the Tanners
had obtained these photocopies, they immediately sent word to the BYU Library to keep them from obtaining any more photocopies of these rare documents, claiming they were not to be duplicated in any form.
Since the copyright law on the Book of Commandments expired many years ago, it is obvious that the only reason for disallowing the Tanners to have photocopies was to attempt to prevent the reprinting of the original publication and keep it from appearing in public. However, the Tanners acquired the remaining pages from a microfilm of the copy at Yale University. Then, through the help of several others, they reprinted the Book of Commandments. One man who did some of the photographic work preparatory to the actual printing told the Tanners that he was actually asked to destroy their photocopies of the Book of Commandments and then tell them that he had an "accident" with them. Fortunately, he refused to do it and they were able to bring out the reprint. But, then, the newspapers in Salt Lake City refused to accept an advertisement of the reprint!
A few months later, Wilford Wood, not to be confused with Wilford Woodruff, published a photographic reprint of the Book of Commandments and the first edition of the Doctrine and Covenants under the title Joseph Smith Begins His Work, Vol. 2. He had previously published the first edition of the Book of Mormon under the title of Joseph Smith Begins His Work, Vol. 1. The Deseret Press (Mormon Church owned) did the printing and they were advertised in Salt Lake City newspapers. Apparently, since Mr. Wood's reprints did not tell that the revelations and the Book of Mormon has been changed, the church leaders did not try to suppress his books at that time. Rather, they promoted them and allowed him to display the original copy of the Book of Commandments in the window of the Deseret Bookstore which is owned by the Mormon Church.
Apparently, Mormon Church leaders thought that by using reverse psychology they could make Mormon people believe that they were glad that the Book of Commandments had been reprinted. Evidently, Church leaders felt safe as members of the Church did not compare them with current editions. However, this idea apparently backfired. Members of the Church did compare them and discovered that many changes had been made.
On October 9, 1964, a man reported to the Tanners that the Deseret Bookstore had refused to sell him copies of Joseph Smith Begins His Work, Vols. 1 & 2. The next day, Sandra Tanner went to the Deseret Bookstore and inquired about the books. The clerk said, "President David O. McKay won't let us sell them anymore! We've had several people leave the Church because of these books. Priests and ministers of other churches are using these books to confuse people. Because of the confusion, we can't sell them anymore! President McKay has taken them out of circulation."
Three days later, October 13, 1964, Wesley P. Waters wrote to the Deseret Bookstore requesting copies of Joseph Smith Begins His Work, Volumes 1 & 2. Verny Noble of the Paid Order Department replied: "Thank you for your letter ordering Joseph Smith Begins His Work, Vol. 1 & 2, by Wilford Wood. We are sorry to inform you that these two books are no longer available." (Letter dated October 16, 1964.)
The Tanners told Wilford Wood that the Church was trying to suppress his book and he wrote them a letter, saying: "... would you permit me to use your letter to show it to President McKay or those responsible for stopping the sale of the book at Deseret Book Company? ... There are plenty of books, both volumes, and always will be, and anyone who is hurt from the original story of the Prophet Joseph Smith and the foundation of the Church upon which it is built will have to pay the consequences for pretending to love the Prophet and working against him." (Letter dated October 27, 1964.)
Wilford Wood met with the President of the Church but was unsuccessful in his attempt to get the ban removed from his reprints. Two and a half years later, on March 22, 1967, Wood sent the Tanners a copy of a letter that he had written in response to a letter of inquiry from one Edmond D. Gruss. In this letter Wood answered certain questions which Gruss had asked him:
"No, these volumes have never been out of print. No, President McKay did not stop the sale of the books. ... Without mentioning any names ... this is what happened.
"The man who is supposed to answer all of the questions about the Church in the Improvements Era is the man who stopped the Deseret Book Store from selling the Books. ... He can not stand
for people to hear the facts about the early history of the church, especially those things which he cannot answer. ... President McKay has told me more than once that he would see to it that the Deseret Book Store sold Volumes One and Two of Joseph Smith Begins His Work. So far he has been unable to do so. ..." (Letter written by Wilford Wood to Edmond C. Gruss, dated March 22, 1967.)
Now for some examples which give absolute proof that these so-called "revelations" have been falsified. The photographic reproductions are how the revelations first appeared in the Book of Commandments. The words that have been hand printed surrounding the revelations indicate the changes that would have to be made to bring them into conformity with modern editions of the Doctrine and Covenants.
The first one to consider is in Chapter 4, verse 2. When the revelation was first printed in the Book of Commandments, it made this statement concerning Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon:
"... and he has a gift to translate the book and I have commanded him that he shall pretend to no other gift, for I will grant him no other gift" (Compare Doctrine and Covenants 5:4)."
Here, Joseph Smith claims two things: (1) that his gift to translate the plates was from God; and (2) that this was the only gift he was to receive. But, a few years later, he decided that this wasn't enough. God, supposedly, changed His mind. Note in Doctrine and Covenants 5:4.
"And you have a gift to translate the plates; and this is the first gift that I bestowed upon you; and I have commanded that you should pretend to no other gift until my purpose is fulfilled in this; for I grant unto you no other gift until it is finished."
These changes completely reverse the meaning of the original version. By making them, Joseph opened the door for further additions to be made to the scripture of the church.
The next revelation to consider is in the Book of Commandments, Chapter 6. When first published in 1822, it contained 143 words. When reprinted in Doctrine and Covenants, Section 7, it had 252 words. The preface to this chapter in Book of Commandments indicates it is a translation through the Urim and Thummim of a "parchment written and hid up" by the Apostle John. It is this claim that creates the most difficult problem. How could a translation expand by 109 words?
The Pearl of Great Price is the shorter of the four standard works of Mormonism. Mainly, it is a compilation of three different works: (1) "The Book of Moses," (2) "The Book of Abraham," and (3) "The Writings of Joseph Smith and Joseph F. Smith," sixth President of the Mormon Church, in 1918.
The "Book of Moses" was originally in two parts; (a) Visions of Moses, supposed revelations received by Joseph Smith in June, 1830; (b) Writings of Moses, received in December, 1830. Finally, the Pearl of Great Price also contains "The Articles of Faith," which are a kind of creed upon which LDS doctrine is based. Originally, there were fourteen Articles. Later, number eleven was deleted and changes were made in the others.
We are going to center our discussion on the "Book of Abraham" because Mormonism holds this book to be "a translation of some ancient records that have fallen into our hands from the catacombs of Egypt. The Writings of Abraham while he was in Egypt, written by his own hand, upon papyrus, translated from the papyrus by Joseph Smith" (Pearl of Great Price, 1891 edition, p. iv).
Mormons consider Pearl of Great Price to be as divinely inspired as the Bible. We would expect it, then, to be free from error. Let us see.
The "Book of Abraham" is unique among the extrabiblical scriptures of the Mormons. It, alone, purports to be a translation of ancient records that are extant, which means it is the only work from Joseph Smith that can be examined in light of original papyrus.
In the summer of 1835, one Michael Chandler was touring the country exhibiting four Egyptian mummies along with several papyri. Chandler heard of Joseph Smith's reputation as a translator and he came to Kirtland, Ohio, to see if he could get the papyri deciphered.
Linguists in New York and Philadelphia had pronounced them authentic Egyptian but could only guess at the meaning. After a preliminary examination, the "prophet" Joseph Smith pronounced one papyrus to be the writings of Abraham and another the writings of Joseph of Egypt.
Joseph wanted to purchase the papyri, but Chandler would only sell on condition that everything go together. Conflicting stories emerged as to how the money was raised, but the necessary 2400 dollars was produced, and Joseph had his prize. The translation was not completed until 1842 and was published in the Nauvoo, Illinois, Times and Seasons between March 1 and May 16, 1842.
Joseph Smith promised further extracts from the "Book of Abraham," but he was killed in jail in Carthage, Illinois, before any more work was done. After his death, Joseph's family eventually sold the artifacts, and they finally ended up in a Chicago Museum (LeGrand Richards, A Marvelous Work and A Wonder, p. 427). For years it was thought that the manuscripts were lost in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 until the following article appeared in The Deseret News on November 27, 1967:
New York: A collection of pa(p)yrus manuscripts, long believed to have been destroyed in the Chicago fire of 1871, was presented to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints here Monday by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Boston. Included in the papyri is a manuscript identified as the original document from which Joseph Smith had copied the drawing which he called "Facsimile No. 1" and published with the "Book of Abraham" (Jerald and Sandra Tanner, The Case Against Mormonism, II, 113).
When Joseph Smith did his original "translation," Egyptian hieroglyphics was still an unknown language. But, in the ensuing years, that great language was unlocked, and even the Mormon
Church could now boast an internationally known Egyptologist, Prof. Dee Jay Nelson with Brigham Young University. Mormon leaders Dr. Hugh Nibley and N. Eldon Tanner (one of the three most powerful men in the Mormon Church) recommended that Nelson receive copies of the papyri to translate (Tanner, Mormonism).
A large portion of Joseph's translation has survived in his original hand. Immediately noticeable is the large number of words Joseph Smith used to render each Egyptian character.
The Egyptian papyrus contained 46 Egyptian characters. Joseph used 1,125 words to translate them; a ratio of 25 to 1.
Here is an example of Joseph Smith's translation: Egyptian character . Prof. Nelson says it is correctly written that it is only one part of a word which means "lake" or "pool." To translate this character, Joseph Smith used 76 words containing 334 letters. The translation reads:
"It was made after the form of a bedstead, such as was had among the Chaldeans, and it stood before the gods of Elkenah, Libnah, Mahmackrah, Korash, and also a god like unto that of Pharaoh, King of Egypt. That you may have an understanding of these gods, I have given you the fashion of them in the figures at the beginning, which manner of the figures is called by the Chaldeans Rahleenos, which signifies hieroglyphics" (Abraham 1:13-14).
To translate the remainder of this Egyptian word, Joseph used an additional 59 words, making a total of 136 English words from just one Egyptian word.
Another Egyptian character is . Nelson identifies it as the pronoun this or the. From this pronoun Joseph Smith translated most of Abraham 1:11:
"Now, this priest had offered upon this altar three virgins at one time, who were the daughters of Onita, one of the royal descent directly from the loins of Ham. These virgins were offered up because of their virtue; the would not bow down to worship gods of wood or of stone, therefore, they were killed upon this altar."
Thus, 59 words came from the Egyptian equivalent of the English word this. Ironically, Mormons are elated that this passage contains both words.
There are many more comparisons of the "Book of Abraham," but these are enough to know that Joseph's translation in no way corresponds to the writing on the papyrus. If the Sensen text Joseph used to produce the "Book of Abraham" does not really contain the words of Abraham, then what does it contain? Dee Jay Nelson translates it this way:
"... the pool of The Traveler, Khensu ... Osiris Hor, who is true of word, born of Tai-Khebit, who is true of word likewise. After ... seized, the two arms with his heart are wrapped up with the Book of Breathings made by Isis and which is with writing on the inside and outside of royal linen. It is placed near and wrapped up on the left side in alignment with his heart. This having been done at his final wrapping for burial. If this book is made for him then he (will) breathe like the soul [s of the gods] for ever and ever" (Nelson, The Joseph Smith Papyri, Part 2, p. 21).
It is entitled the Book of Breathings, and was intended to aid the deceased on their journey through the after-life.
Now, to look at what Joseph Smith called Facsimiles 1, 2, and 3. First, let's look at Facsimile 2. Scholars tell us that this is a hypocephalus; a disk placed under the head of a mummy. Facsimile 2, in the "Book of Abraham," has been found by prominent Egyptologists to contain many inaccuracies and adulterations. For example, a line of hieroglypics that runs along the rim of this disc-shaped pictograph is interrupted by heiratic writing. To say the least, this, in itself, is unusual. Even more surprising is that the hieratic writing has been inserted upside down!
For a long time it was not known where hieratic letters came from. But, after the papyri became available in 1967, the Tanners of Utah Lighthouse Publishers, Salt Lake City, compared the hieratic letters with the writing of the Small Senseri text and found that, in several places, groups of letters matched perfectly. It turns out the original was incomplete, indicating the papyrus had been damaged before Joseph Smith obtained it. To supply
the missing hieroglypics, Joseph copied in the hieratic letters, having no idea of what these parts of the hypocephalus meant.
In Joseph Smith's explanations of this hypocephalus, he used proper names like Abraham, Adam, Seth, Noah, Melchizedek and Kolob. Nelson's translation has no names that remotely resemble them. It is obvious that Joseph Smith's explanations were products of his creative imagination.
Joseph Smith said that Facsimile 1 was a drawing of the priest of Slkenah attempting to offer Abraham as a sacrifice to the gods (cf Mormon Papers, 79). Facsimile 3 is a drawing of six figures; five standing and one seated. In this, Joseph labeled every person as a man. Modern scholarship identifies them as being all women. In addition, Abraham 1:27 states that Pharaoh was a descendant of Ham and, therefore, Negro (black), but the figure that Joseph Smith labeled as Pharaoh is white. Joseph Smith's explanation is far from accurate. All three of the Facsimiles have a real significance that in no way relates to the meaning Joseph put on them.
Dee Jay Nelson's work on the papyri led him to the conclusion with which we also concur: The "Book of Abraham" is a false translation of the papyrus Joseph Smith had in his possession and not the Word of God. This being one of a part of the Pearl of Great Price, how can we accept the rest of the book? Our final conclusion is that the "Pearl is not genuine!"
Right after Nelson finished his work on the papyri, he was lauded by Dr. Hugh Nibley who said, "Latter-day Saints owe a debt of gratitude to Mr. Dee Jay Nelson. ... This is a conscientious and courageous piece of work ... supplying students with a usable and reliable translation" (Tanner, Mormonism, p. 310). At the time of his work, Nelson was an elder in the Mormon Church and he had promised that his work would be published by the Church.
However, after several years of thwarted effort to have it published, he realized that the Mormon Church was not going to acknowledge the deception of the Pearl of Great Price. Therefore, he and his wife and daughter wrote to the First Presidency of the Mormon Church there letter of resignation. A copy of their letter follows, along with copies of Facsimiles 1, 2, and 3.
Etymologically, one "boiling or bubbling over" with Divine Inspiration.
According to the Scriptures, under the Old Testament law, a false prophet would have been killed for presuming to speak that which God had not spoken.
"But the prophet who 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" (Deuteronomy 18:20).
Following are a few of Joseph Smith's prophecies that did not meet God's simple test of accuracy:
|1.||Concerning The New Jerusalem And Its Temple. According to this prophecy in Doctrine and Covenants 84:1-5, given September 22 and 23, 1832, the city and the temple are to be built in Missouri in this [the current] generation.|
|The apostles of the Mormon Church knew about this prophecy and declared in the Journal of Discourses (Vol. 9, p. 71; Vol. 10, p.344; Vol. 13, p. 362) their certainty that this prophecy would come to pass within the generation encompassing the 1832 prophecy by Smith.|
|In fact, on May 5, 1870, thirty-eight years later, Apostle Orson Pratt staunchly declared: "The Latter-day Saints just as much expect to receive a fulfillment of that promise during the generation that was in existence in 1832 as they expect that the sun will rise and set tomorrow. Why? Because God cannot lie. He will fulfill His promises." The city was not built; the temple was not built in this generation. The prophecy was false. What about the prophet?|
|2.||Nauvoo House Is To Belong To The Smith Family Forever (Doctrine and Covenants 124:56-60). Joseph Smith said "Nauvoo" was a Hebrew word meaning "beautiful plantation," but it existed only in the fertile imagination of Joseph Smith as "Nauvoo" is unknown in Hebrew history. Joseph Smith was killed in 1844. The Mormons were driven from Nauvoo and the house no longer belongs to the Smith family. This prophecy proved false. What about the prophet?|
|3.||Joseph Smith's Enemies Will Be Confounded When They Seek to Destroy Him (Book of Mormon, II Nephi 3:14). Smith was shot in a Carthage, Illinois, jail on June 27, 1844. His enemies were not confounded. This was another false prophecy. What about the prophet?|
|4.||The Coming Of The Lord (History of the Church, Vol. 2, p. 182). In 1835, prophet-president Joseph Smith predicted: "The coming of the Lord, which was nigh ... even 56 years should wind up the scene." Like many others in his day, Joseph Smith did not escape the date-setting fever to predict the Lord's return. As William Miller, Mrs. Ellen G. White and others failed, so did Joseph Smith. Smith also predicted that "I do not say whether He will make His appearance or I shall go where He is. I prophesy in the name of the Lord God and let it be written, the Son of Man will not come in the clouds of heaven till I am 85 years old" (E.F. Parry, Joseph Smith's Teaching, p. 86 U).|
|"I believe the coming of the Son of Man will not be any sooner than that time" (Doctrine and Covenants 130:17 U).|
|Needless to say, another failure. A young Mormon elder said, "If Jospeph Smith had lived, Christ would have come!" Brethren, that's blasphemy!|
|5.||Concerning "Moon Inhabitants" (Journal of Oliver B. Huntington, Vol. 2, p. 166). Joseph Smith is quoted: "The inhabitants of the moon are more uniform in size than the inhabitants of the earth, being about six feet in height. They dress very much like the Quaker style and are quite general in style, or the one fashion of dress. They live to be very old; coming generally near a thousand years." Undoubtedly, Joseph Smith never dreamed that men from the earth would one day walk on the moon; therefore, he probably felt quite safe in giving this "revelation." But, now that the fifth moon landing and walk is history and, thus, has demonstrated that it is impossible for human beings to live on the moon, it must be disappointing and embarassing to the adherents of Joseph Smith to learn that none of the "moon inhabitants" were discovered and that another of their prophet's prophecies has been proven false.|
|6.||The Prophetic Curse On The United States (Millennial Star, 212:143 U). On May 6, 1843, Joseph Smith prophesied that if the government "cannot protect such citizens in their lives and property, it is an old granny anyhow; and I prophesy, in the name of the Lord God of Israel, unless the United States redresses the wrongs committed by her officers, that in a few years the Government will be utterly overthrown and wasted, and there will not be so much as a potsherd left, for their wickedness in permitting the murder of men, women and children, and the wholesale plunder and extermination of thousands of her citzens to go unpunished."|
|Granted, these are dastardly crimes against defenseless victims, but the United States did not redress the LDS. The crimes and the criminals were not punished. More than a few years have passed. Those who did the deeds, as well as those who asked redress, have passed on. Alas! Another false prophecy!||7.||Congress To Be Broken Up As A Government. According to the Millennial Star (Vol. 22, p. 455 U), Joseph Smith prophesied the breaking up of the Congress of the United States as a government, that there would|
|"be nothing left of them, not even a grease spot" if there petition was not heard and protection granted. The petition was not heard, protection was not granted (cf Deseret News, 1:59 U). Congress was not broken up. The prophecy was false. What about the prophet?|
|8.||Missouri To Sink Disgraced, Degraded and Damned. In a letter to John C. Calhoun on January 2, 1844, Smith wrote: "Yet, remember, if the Latter-day Saints are not restored to all their rights and paid for all their losses ... that God will come out of His hiding-place and vex the nation with a sore vexaction; ... While I have power of body and mind ... I or my posterity will plead the cause of injured innocence, until Missouri makes atonement for all her sins, or sinks, disgraced, degreaded and damned to hell ..." (Millennial Star, Vol 22, p. 602 U).|
|The LDS were not restored or compensated. Missouri did not sink disgraced, degraded and damned. In fact, Missouri still stands today as a monument to another failed prophecy. What about the prophet? Smith said further "... if Missouri continues her warfare, and to issue her writs against me and this people unlawfully and unjustly, as she has done, and to take away and trample upon our rights, I swear in the name of the Almighty God, and with uplifted hands to heaven, I will spill my heart's blood in our defense. They shall not take away our rights, and if they don't stop leading me by the nose, I will lead them by the nose; and if they don't let me alone, I will turn up the world, I will make way."|
|This does not sound much like the Sermon on the Mount! Does it?|
On December 25, 1832, twenty-eight years before the Civil War began, Joseph Smith made the prophecy of the Civil War, stating that the war would begin with the rebellion of South Carolina, bringing a division against the Northern States and the
Southern States, and war would be poured out upon all nations (Doctrine and Covenants 87:1-8).
Mormon people believe this proves Joseph Smith to be a prophet and they frequently refer to it in an attempt to defend his prophetic ability.
However, let us look at the evidence:
|I.||Why The Prediction Was not Amazing: John C. Calhoun, a South Carolina legislator, U.S. Congressman, Secretary of War and Vice-President was, at first, a Nationalist but later changed to an ardent State's Rights advocate. The tariff issue called for the South Carolina Exposition and Protest of 1828. In this declaration, Calhoun set forth Southern objections to the tariff and embodied the doctrine of recourse which became famous as "nullification." President Andrew Jackson, on April 13, 1830, stated his opposition to it. He told the South that they would have to "stand alone" in their support of "nullification" and that the North and the West would oppose it.|
|Calhoun and Jackson came to an open break in May, 1830. Calhoun followed his Exposition, to serve as his personal manifesto. Congress passed the tariff act on July 14, 1832, and, predictably, South Carolina declared it null and void. President Jackson alerted the nation's troops, sent a warship and seven revenue cutters to Charleston Harbor, reinforced the garrisons there and informed them that, in case of war, he would "take the field personally."|
|Calhoun then wrote a long letter to Govenor James Hamilton of South Carolina, dated August 28, 1832, on "State Interposition." President Jackson issued a proclamation on December 10, 1832, declaring that the theory of nullification held by South Carolina was destructive to the Union. There were those in South Carolina who held that the time had come for action, not arguments. Many thought that separation was inevitable. A state of rebellion actually existed in South Carolina at the very time Smith made his prophecy.|
|Another interesting fact with regard to this matter is that on December 10, 1832, the Boston Daily Advertiser & Patriot printed "Extracts from the Message of the Governor of South Carolina at the opening of the Legislature, November 27, 1832." His message warned that South Carolina was prepared to resist the U.S. Government by force if necessary. The same day that this was printed (December 10, 1832), Orson Hyde "left Boston." On December 22, 1832, he "arrived at Kirland, Ohio ..." (Journal of Orson Hyde, typed copy, pp. 56, 57). Of course, we cannot prove that Orson Hyde brought a copy of the Boston Daily Avertiser & Patriot with him, or that Joseph Smith read the article, or that Hyde told Smith about it. But, it is interesting to note that just three days after his [Hyde's] arrival, December 25, 1832, Joseph smith gave his revelations on "the rebellion of South Carolina!" However, war did not break out until more than 28 years later, but it took no prophet to predict rebellion on December 25, 1832!|
|It is significant that, although the revelation was "received" on December 25, 1832, Smith left it out of Doctrine and Covenants when it was compiled in 1835. The sharp crisis had passed for the time at least. It was not published until some time after July, 1851. Why publish it then? Because the signs of Civil War were then evident! In 1850, Calhoun wrote, "I am writing a plan for the Dissolution of the American Union ... in the event of certain contingencies." "The Southern Rights associations held a convention at Charleston, May 5, 1851, and adopted resolution affirming the right of secession and declaring that South Carolina should secede with or without the cooperation of the other southern states ..." (Melvin J. White, The Secession Movement in the United States, 1847-1852, p. 111, University of Wisconsin, 1910).|
|These conditions existed when the LDS Church decided to publish the revelation!|
|II.||The Failure of Smith's Prophecy|
|A.||When Smith made the prediction, South Carolina had already rebelled; there was active preparation for war; there was much bitterness over the slave question and|
|war seemed inevitable. The prophecy was a complete failure insofar as South Carolina's first rebellion was concerned.|
|B.||The LDS apply the prophecy to the Civil War. History bears out that the South was the aggressor as indicated in the prophecy. However, from the circumstances which existed in 1832 and, in fact, during the entire time of the agitation concerning slavery and states' rights, it was quite certain that if trouble started, the South would take the first step. They held most fervently to states' rights and to slavery.|
|1.||South Carolina and the South did rebel and war started.|
|2.||John C. Calhoun had formulated the doctrine of nullification precipitating a break between he and, then, President Andrew Jackson.|
|3.||Orson Hyde, a friend of Joseph Smith, learned of the state of rebellion in South Carolina over nullification through an article in the Boston Daily Advertiser.|
|4.||Hyde arrived in Kirtland, Ohio, where Smith was, then, living twelve days after the Advertiser article was printed.|
|5.||Three days after Hyde's arrival, Smith gave his "revelations" on the rebellion of South Carolina.|
|6.||However, this particular revelation was not publicized until circa July, 1851, when Civil War was becoming imminent.|
|7.||Smith's prophecy was a failure insofar as it only recounted existing conditions, not future happenings.|
There is nothing in the Scriptures to teach a doctrine of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel. Certainly there is no evidence whatsoever that they migrated to the Americas, as Mormon Doctrine maintains. There is evidence that many of these supposedly "lost
tribes" maintained their identity even until the time of the New Testament. For example, Anna, the woman in the Temple when Jesus was presented there as a babe, was from the tribe of Asher (Luke 2:36). Asher is supposed to be one of the lost tribes. Also, Paul speaks of the nation of Israel as composed of Twelve Tribes in Acts 26:7. Many of these tribes identified with the Southern Kingdom.
At the division of the Kingdom following Solomon's death, many of the Levites from the north migrated south (II Chronicles 11:13-14). Others from Ephraim, Manasseh and Simeon were with the Southern Kingdom in II Chronicles 15:9 and in II Chronicles 30:11. Many from the tribes of Asher, Manasseh and Zebulun came to Jerusalem to keep the Passover at Hezekiah's invitation. It is no wonder, then, that many of those tribes who were scattered among the Assyrian Empire, came home with others when Cyrus sent forth his edict that all captives could return home.
In view of the context of Ezekiel 37, it is impossible to see in it a reference to the Book of Mormon. When Ezekiel interpreted the vision in Ezekiel 37:21-22, that should settle once and for all what he meant by the vision. Also, Ezekiel further developed the theme of the Kingdom in chapter 48. Here, he mentions each of the Twelve Tribes and states that they will dwell in the land.
The prophecy was fulfilled when God allowed His people to return home from captivity under Zerubbabel, Ezra and Nehemiah. Those of the twelve tribes that returned were one nation, under one leader. No longer were they a divided kingdom.
This prophecy is one of many examples of the way false teachers will strain and twist passages, even to ignoring the context, in order to support their theories. There is no evidence here for the Divine origin of the Book of Mormon. Or, for that matter, there is no such evidence anywhere in the Bible.
One of the basic beliefs of the premillennial doctrine being broadcast throughout the world is the Restoration of the "Lost Ten Tribes" of Israel. When Christ establishes His millennial
kingdom on earth, all Israel, including the supposed "Lost Ten Tribes," or Northern Kingdom, will be restored to the land of Palestine.
Did God restore a memnant of all twelve tribes after the Babylonian Captivity? Or, did He not? Did God keep his promises or not? Were the promises fulfilled in the restoration of the two tribes, Judah and Benjamin? These are questions that must be answered. Let us examine the captivity and restoration of Israel.
After the death of Solomon, the twelve tribes were divided (I Kings 11:12). Ten tribes separated themselves from Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, and made northern Palestine and, later, the city of Samaria, their geographical state and capital. The tribes of Judah and Benjamin remained in the South Lands of Palestine and made Jerusalem their capital. Jeroboam became the king.
In 722 B.C., the Northern Kingdom of Israel was conquered and taken captive by Assyria (II Kings 18:9-12).
"The kings of Assyria carried Israel away unto Assyria and put them in Halah, and on the Habor, the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes, because they obeyed not the voice of Jehovah their God" (II Kings 18:11-12).
After the fall of the Northern Kingdom, Hezekiah came to the throne of Judah in 726 B.C. Hezekiah made it his purpose to cleanse the temple in Jerusalem and to re-establish the worship of God. This he did. But, what is many times overlooked is the truth that portions of every tribe of the Northern Kingdom were dwelling in the cities of Judah during the reign of Hezekiah after the fall of the Northern Kingdom.While the Northern Kingdom was still in power many faithful Jews returned to Judah to live and worship God (II Chronicles 15:9). The events that took place in Jerusalem, recorded in II Chronicles 30 and 31, during the reign of Hezekiah (726-697 B.C.) should convince anyone that portions of all twelve tribes of Israel resided in the land of Judah after the fall of the Northern Kingdom in 722 B.C., and before the fall of the Southern Kingdom, Judah, in 586 B.C.
When Hezekiah determined to re-establish worship to God, he "... sent letters to all Israel and Judah, and wrote letters also to Ephriam and Manasseh, that they should come to the house of Jehovah at Jerusalem, to keep the passover unto Jehovah, the God of Israel" (II Chronicles 30:1). When this letter was circulated many laughed, but "certain men of Asher and Manasseh and of Zebulun humbled themselves and came to Jerusalem" (II Chronicles 30:11). These people came with humble hearts to worship God. "For a multitude of the people, even many of Ephraim and Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun, had not cleansed themselves ..." (II Chronicles 30:18).
These tribes were not of the Southern Kingdom. There were people from the tribes of the North. The faithful few. Now, notice who were gathered in Jerusalem: "And all the assembly of Judah, with the priests and the Levites, and all the assembly that came out of Israel, and the sojourners that came out of the land of Israel, and that dwelt in Judah, rejoiced" (II Chronicles 30:25). When the ceremonies were finished, "... all Israel that were present went out to the cities of Judah" to destroy the pagan altars and places of worship (II Chronicles 31:1). Portions from all twelve tribes were living in Judah after the Northern captivity (II Chronicles 31:6).
The Southern Kingdom, Judah, was taken captive in 586 B.C. (II Kings 25:8ff). Portions of every tribe were taken in this captivity. Many conceded that the two tribes, Judah and Benjamin, which composed the original Southern Kingdom, were restored to the land of Palestine but fail to see within the promise of the prophets the restoration of the ten tribes that made up the Northern Kingdom. The concept that ten tribes of Israel were not restored is fallacious and a denial of God's power to fulfill His promises.
The restoration is the return of the remnant from Bablylonian captivity. There were three returns: (1) 536 B.C. (Ezra 1-6); (2) 457 B.C. (Ezra 7-10); and (3) 444 B.C. (Nehemiah 1-13). Portions of every tribe of Israel made the trip to Palestine in these three migrations to fulfill God's prophecies concerning the obedient "remnant" (Isaiah 11:11). There is no such thing as the "Lost Ten Tribes" of Israel. A remnant from all twelve tribes returned when Cyrus gave the order to rebuild Jerusalem (Ezra 1:1-4).
One must clearly understand that after the division of the twelve tribes in 930 B.C., the terms "Ephraim" and "Israel" were commonly used to refer to the Northern Kingdom, Israel (Hosea 1:4-8); Ephraim (Isaiah 7:2-17; Ezekiel 37:18-19; Hosea 5:3-14), whereas the term Judah is used in reference to the Southern Kingdom (Hosea 12:1; I Chronicles 4:41; 5:17). The context in which these terms are used will determine the kingdom to which reference is made. Now, let us consider the prophecies of the prophets which definitely prove that portions of every tribe were restored to Palestine after the Babylonian captivity:
|1.||Hosea (750-725): Hosea promised that "the children of Judah and the children of Israel shall be gathered together, and they shall appoint themselves one head" (Hosea 1:11. Hosea explains, "Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek Jehovah their God and David their King, and shall come with fear unto Jehovah and to His goodness in the latter days" (Hosea 3:5).|
|2.||Isaiah (740-681): God, through Isaiah, promised Israel that he would bring their "seed from the east and gather it from the west, north and south" (Isaiah 43:3-7). "And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord will set His hand again the second time to recover the remnant of His people, that shall remain, from Assyria and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea" (Isaiah 11:11).|
|Now, remember, these are the geographical locations to which Assyria transported the Northern Ten Tribes (II Kings 18:11-12). Surely Jehovah God could find these "Ten Lost Tribes." Did he gather them a second time as He promised?|
|3.||Jeremiah (657-574 B.C.): Jeremiah prophesied in the land of Palestine during the Babylonian captivity. He says much concerning the obedient remnant of all Israel that would return: "In those days the house of Judah shall walk with the house of Israel, and they shall come together out of the land of the North to the land that I gave for an inheritance unto your fathers" (Jeremiah 3:18). Jehovah promised that He would gather them "from all the nations" and bring them again unto their land (Jeremiah 29-14). "I will bring|
|back from captivity My people, Israel and Judah, says Jehovah; and I will cause them to return to the land that I gave to their fathers, and they shall possess it" (Jeremiah 30:3). God would restore health unto her and heal her wounds (Jeremiah 30:17). "At that time, saith Jehovah, will I be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be my people" (Jeremiah 31:1). Israel will plant vineyards again in Samaria (Jeremiah 31:5). The "remnant of Israel" will come weeping and "shall not stumble," for God is the "father of Israel" and Ephraim is His firstborn (Jeremiah 31:7-9). The time would come when God would "make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and the house of Judah" (Jeremiah 31:31).|
|This new covenant is the gospel of Christ (Hebrews 8:7-9, 13). How could He make this new covenant with the "house of Israel" and with the "house of Judah" if ten tribes were lost? Jeremiah prophesied that Judah and Israel would join themselves together in an everlasting covenant (Jeremiah 50:4-5). Did God keep His promises?|
|4.||Ezekiel (592-575 B.C.): Ezekiel prophesied near the River Chebar, in Babylon, during the captivity (Ezekiel 1:1-3). He prophesied that God would multiply all the house of Israel and cause their cities to be inhabited (Ezekiel 36:10). He prophesied that Israel would be taken out of all the nations where they had been driven (Ezekiel 36:24; 39:27). Jehovah told Ezekiel to prophesy to dry bones in a valley (Ezekiel 37:4). As Ezekiel prophesied to these bones, they arose! Flesh came upon them and wind brought breath to them (Ezekiel 37:7-9). God told Ezekiel that those bones represented "the whole house of Israel" (Ezekiel 37:11). Remember, Ezekiel prophesied during the Babylonian captivity in the land of Babylon. This prophecy says that the whole house of Israel would be brought into the land.|
|God also told Ezekiel, "Take thee one stick, and write upon it, For Judah, and for the children of Israel, his companions: then take another stick and write upon it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel, his companions" (Ezekiel 37:15-16). Ezekiel was to join these two sticks together into one. God was saying that He would join the two kingdoms together and bring them again into their land (Ezekiel 37:19-22).|
|5.||Zechariah (520-490 B.C.): Zechariah said that God would save the house of Judah and the house of Israel (Zechariah 8:13; 9:13-16). Judah and Ephraim (reference to Northern Kingdom) would be brought back (Zechariah 10:6-7). They would be brought out of Egypt and Assyria (Zechariah 10:10).|
The great question to be answered now is: Did God bring a remnant of all twelve tribes back to the Land of Palestine after the Babylonian Captivity and before the establishment of the church as He promised? Did He do what He said He would do?
Premillennialists answer, "No." What do the scriptures say?
The first return, led by Sheshbazzar (Zerubbabel), took place in 536 B.C. (Ezra 1-6). When this group came to Palestine, the scriptures say, "So the priests, and the Levites, and some of the people, and the singers, and the porters, and the Nethinims, dwelt in their cities, and all Israel in their cities" (Ezra 2:70).
Ezra brought the second group of Jews from Babylonian Captivity back in 457 B.C. (Ezra 7:10). When they arrived in Palestine the Bible says they "offered burnt-offerings unto the God of Israel, twelve bullocks for all Israel" (Ezra 8:35). A remnant of every tribe of Israel had returned to Palestine.
Now, note some New Testament references: When Jesus was presented in the Temple, "Anna, a prophetess, of the tribe of Asher ... gave thanks unto God, and spake of him to all them ..." (Luke 2:36-38). Remember, Asher is supposed to be one of the Ten Lost Tribes! Yet, here, a direct descendant of that tribe is listed as living several hundred years after her tribe is supposed to have been lost!
Again, when Paul appeared before Agrippa, he said, "I stand here to be judged for the hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers, unto which promise our twelve tribes ... hope to attain ..." (Acts 26:6-7). Either the ten tribes had been "found" or Paul was mistaken in his count. So, what is our conclusion? A remnant of every Tribe of Israel had returned to Palestine. God fulfilled His promises. On the Day of Pentecost, when the church was established, Jews "from every nation under heaven" were present (Acts 2:5). The scriptures say God
kept his promise to return all Israel; Premillennialists say he did not.
Whom shall we believe?
|1.||If I should become a Mormon today, which of these commands should I believe and obey?|
|a.||"Behold, David and Solomon truly had many wives and concubines, which was abominable before me, saith the Lord" (Jacob 1:24).|
|b.||"I ... the Lord, justified my servants Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as also Moses, David and Solomon, my servants, as touching the principles and doctrine of their having many wives and concubines ... for behold, I reveal unto you a new and everlasting covenant; and if ye abide not that covenant, then are ye damned, for no one can reject this covenant and be permitted to enter into my glory. ... David also received many wives and concubines, and also Solomon and Moses ... and in nothing did they sin (Doctrine and Covenants, Sec. 132:1, 4, 18).|
|2.||Joseph Smith said that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and that it was the keystone of the Mormon religion (History of the Church, Vol. 4, p. 461).|
|a.||II Nephi 5:15 reads: "And I did teach my people to build buildings, and to work in all manner of wood, and of iron, and of copper, and of brass, and of steel, and of gold, and of silver, and of precious ores, which were in great abundance."|
|b.||Verse 16 reads: "And I, Nephi, did build a temple; and I did construct it after the manner of the temple of Solomon save it were not built of so many precisous things; for they were not to be found upon the land."|
|These two verses contradict each other. How could the Book of Mormon be the "most correct book on earth," inspired of God, yet have such glaring contradictions?|
|3.||Is it true that the presidents of the Mormon Church act in the role of "Prophet, Seer and Revelator" for the church? Then, why did Joseph Fielding Smith, the sixth president of the Mormon Church, say, "I have never pretended nor do I profess to have revelations" (The Reed Smoot Case, Vol. 1, p. 99).|
|4.||Joseph Fielding Smith wrote in Doctrines of Salvation, Vol. 1, p. 236, "Saints are the best people. ... We are morally clean, in every way equal, and in many ways superior to any other people." Yet, in Utah today which is over 70 percent Mormon, divorce, pre-marital sex, rape and public welfare spending are over the national average.|
|Which of the above statements is true?|
|5.||In the History of the Church, Vol. 1, p. 17, Joseph Smith claimed that the story of his being a money-digger was just a story. In the same work, Vol. 3, p. 29, he says that it was a fact.|
|Which statement is true?|
|6.||Early Mormon apostle Orson Pratt said, "If we should take a million worlds like this and number their particles, we should find that there are more Gods than there are particles of matter in these worlds" (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 2, p. 345). God says, "Before Me there was no God found, neither shall there be after me" (Isaiah 43:10).|
|Which of these statements is true?|
|7.||In the Book of Mormon, III Nephi 12:2, "... remission of sins" follows baptism.|
|In Doctrine and Covenants, 20:37, "All those who ... manifest ... that they have received ... the remission of sins, shall be received by baptism into the church."|
|One statement places remission of sins after baptism. The other places remission of sins before baptism.|
|Which teaching is true?|