Why I Left
THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST
OF LATTER DAY SAINTS
I entered the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints at a young and yet knowledgeable age and remained a member for several years, finally leaving the church after much agonizing study and prayer. As I speak on why I left the “Latter Day Saints,” there is (if I know my heart) no malice or feeling of personal ill-will toward any Latter Day Saint. The reasons for my departure are based upon doctrinal matters and not upon any personal relationship sustained during my tenure as a member of that fellowship.
However, the scriptures are plain as to my responsibility for we read in I Peter 3:15-16, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed.”
I count Later Day Saints among my friends; therefore, the things I shall say are said in love with a sincere desire to help them and all of us to consider both sides of this momentous question. As I look back I can clearly see why I was encouraged to become a part of the Latter Day Saints' movement. I was impressed with the young men who came to our home as missionaries. The dedication of these “elders” as they are called, and their devotion was very inspiring to me then, and they still are. The consecration of the members of the church was a further cord, which bound me tightly to their fellowship. Their desire to keep their bodies free from habit–forming drugs was clearly impressive to a young man who saw others becoming slaves to such habits.
I also thought at that time that they were teaching things important to the proper concepts of God and Christ and while I later came to feel differently about it, my faith in spiritual things was considerably strengthened. In short, I felt that a Mormon was a clean, upright, honest citizen, dedicated to serving their God and
to making the work of their church a success. And I think that describes most of the Latter Day Saints I know today. I would never think of impugning the motives of any of them, even though I completely disagree with their peculiar doctrines.
WHY I LEFT
But, as final as all of this was and while I went into the Latter Day Saints' church for these reasons, they were not enough for me to remain in it. As I began to study to vindicate my faith in Mormonism, and to try to lead others into its doctrines and fellowship, I found that the more I studied the further I went away form the “inspired writings” of the Book of Mormon, Pearl of Great Price, and Doctrine and Covenants and consequently from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, itself.
Thus, I want to share with you just a few of the many reasons why I was forced, yea compelled, to sever my connections with those whom I loved so well. It is always hard to say, “I am wrong,” especially in religious matters, but it is doubly hard to turn one's back on one's friends. But, Jesus said, “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:37–38).
I want to divide my reasons into several parts, stating the teachings of the Latter Day Saints from their own so–called “inspired writings” as given through their main apostles and prophets, and then show irrefutably why I cannot accept those teachings and consequently, the church that teaches them. The reasons mentioned will, as you shall see, all be based on the fact that these doctrines and practices are contrary to the Bible, which I believe is alone the only word of God. “Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3).
“For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book;
and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book” (Revelation 22:18–19).
THE HOLY WRITINGS
Latter Day Saints believe the Bible to be the word of God. Further they believe that the Bible foretells the coming of the Book of Mormon in such passages as Ezekiel 37:16, 19; Revelation 14:6; Isaiah 29:11–12, and Psalms 85:10–11 along with others. Then in turn they believe that the Book of Mormon interprets Old Testament prophecy, and that it claims to be a part of the new covenant to Israel, as well as being “another witness” to the truth of the Christian Gospel as found in the New Testament.
Without refuting their claims for the particular passages just mentioned, which can be easily done, I would like to show that it is really futile for the Latter Day Saints to even make an appeal to the Bible for proof of the emergence of later revelations. I say this because they really believe the Bible cannot be trusted. Article 8 of the Articles of Faith of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints says; “We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.” Note that: “as far as it is translated correctly.”
This immediately casts doubt on the integrity of the Bible ... but the last part of the article shows the Book of Mormon is accepted without reservation, “we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.” Does this not show the secondary position of the Bible in the Mormon system? Where the Bible agrees with Mormon doctrine it is acceptable, but where it disagrees, it is set aside by the Latter Day Saints as a corruption of the text or a mistranslation. But, who is to know which one is right? The Bible which has served mankind uninterruptedly for over 2,000 years, or the Book of Mormon which has been known for about 150 years? I prefer the Bible, which bears the unmistakable imprint of God on every page. Since the Book of Mormon has plagiarized at least 25,000 words from the King James Version of 1611, we could say they actually believe the King James Version of the Bible “as far as it is translated correctly.”
Verbatim quotations from the King James Version, some of considerable length, have caused the Latter Day Saints no end of embarrassment for many years. Isn't it a bit strange that the golden plates translated by Joseph Smith came out of a perfect duplication of the only version of the Bible to which Joseph Smith had access and that in hundreds of passages? When one compares Moroni 10 with I Corinthians 12:1-11 or 2 Nephi 14 with Isaiah 4, and 2 Nephi 12 with Isaiah 2, one sees a word for word duplication of the King James being found in the Book of Mormon, even to the following of the errors of translation of these passages found in the King James Version.
For example in Isaiah 4:5 in the King James Version we read, “... For upon all the glory shall be a defence.” This is translated exactly the same in 2 Nephi 14:5. Modern translations correctly reveal that the passage in Hebrews reads, “For over all the glory there will be a canopy,” or covering, not a “defense.” The translators of the King James didn't know this, nor did Joseph Smith apparently. Another glaring error is found in Isaiah 5:25 where both the Book of Mormon in 2 Nephi 15:25 and the King James Version render the Hebrew “... whose carcasses fell in the wilderness” (Hebrews 3:17). The Revised Standard Version correctly renders the passage, “and their corpses were as refuse in the midst of the streets.” There are countless other similar errors in the Book of Mormon as it follows the King James Version.
HOW LATTER DAY SAINTS
REALLY REGARD THE BIBLE
When one wants to know how the Latter Day Saints really feel about the Bible, he needs to read 2 Nephi 29:3, 6, 10. “And because my words shall hiss forth—many of the gentiles shall say: A Bible! A Bible! We have got a Bible and there cannot be any more Bible. ... Thou fool, that shall say: A Bible! We have got a Bible, and we need no more Bible. Have ye obtained a Bible save it were by the Jews? Wherefore because that ye have a Bible ye need not suppose that it contains all my words; neither need ye suppose that I have not caused more to be written.”
Such a passage makes it absurd for Mormons to examine the Book of Mormon in the light of the Bible and even more ridiculous for them to use the Bible to substantiate their doctrines.
Orson Pratt, one of the early leaders of the Latter Day Saints movement, an apostle and generally regarded as an inspired writer among them, said in his work, A Series of Pamphlets, No. 3, page 47, Second Series: “What shall we say then, concerning the Bible being a sufficient guide? Can we rely on it in its present known corrupted state as being a faithful record of God's word?”
Again on page 33 he said, “In this number it will be shown that without further revelation the Bible is an insufficient guide.” We ask: “What about all those who had only the Bible for eighteen centuries?” Did God leave them without sufficient information? Evidently not! Brigham Young, second president of the Utah branch, in one of his written sermons in Journal of Discourses Vol. III, page 116 said, “The Bible is good enough as it is, to point out the way we should walk, and to teach us how to come in to the Lord of whom we can receive for ourselves.” If that be true, why did God have to give Brigham Young later revelations?
Yet the book of 1 Nephi 13:28 has this to say about the Bible, “Wherefore, thou seest that after the book [the Bible–HES] hath gone forth from the hands of the great and abominable church, that there are many plain and precious things taken away from the book, which is the book of the Lamb of God.”
Orson Pratt in A Series of Pamphlets, first series, No. 6, page 15 said; “The Gospel in the Book of Mormon is the same as that in the New Testament.” But does it not follow that if “many plain and precious things have been taken away from the New Testament,” they will also be removed from the Book of Mormon if the two books contain the “same gospel”?
Just how reliable are the “new revelations”? Matthew 1:18 declares that, “Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.” And the Book of Mormon agrees with these words in Alma 7:10 “... and she being a virgin, a precious and chosen vessel, who shall be overshadowed and conceive by the power of the Holy Ghost and bring forth a son, yea even the Son of God.” But now, a new revelation, which may come at any time from any of the presidents of the church, a new revelation from Brigham Young caused him to say in Journal of Discourse, Vol. 1, page 51; “Now
remember from this time forth, and forever, that Jesus Christ was not begotten by the Holy Spirit.” Matthew 2:1 in the Bible says that Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, but the Book of Mormon in Alma 7:10 says, “And behold, he shall be born of Mary, at Jerusalem.”
The Bible teaches in Mark 16:16, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.” But note this passage from the Book of Mormon, 3 Nephi 7:25; “Therefore, there were ordained of Nephi, men unto this ministry, that all such as should come unto them should be baptized with water, and this as a witness and testimony before God, and unto the people, that they had repented and received a remission of their sins.” The Bible says faith leads to baptism for remission of sins—but the Book of Mormon says baptism is a witness that one's sins have already been forgiven. Certainly God does not need such a testimony or witness that he has pardoned our sins.
These are but a few of many such contradictions between the Bible and the Book of Mormon and the other so–called “inspired writings.” Revelation from God does not contradict itself. Therefore, one or the other of these “revelations” is false. Which shall we accept? I must accept the Bible.
THE DIVISIONS IN CHRISTIANITY
When Mormon missionaries enter your home, they begin by commenting on the deplorable state of divided Christianity. The implication is that they have a solution to the problem! It is true that division among Christians is opposed to the wishes and prayer of the Lord as recorded in John. “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You, that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me” (John 17:20–21).
But, what you are not told is that there are several groups of Latter Day Saints, who, until this day are not able to get together, even with their “new revelations,” simply because some of them believe some of the “inspired revelations” and others do not, and there is no way to settle the dilemma. In addition to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints with headquarters in Salt Lake
City, Utah, there is a group of more than a quarter of a million members called the “Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints” with headquarters in Independence, Missouri. The descendents of Joseph Smith, Jr., The Prophet, cast their lot with this group and none of them were ever affiliated with the Utah group. This group does not accept the “later revelations” on polygamy, which are embraced by the Utah division.
Then there is a smaller group called “Church of Christ, Temple Lot,” with headquarters also in Independence, Missouri, having about 3,000 members. Another group refers to themselves as “The Church of Jesus Christ” (sometimes called “Bickertonites”) and they have their main office in Monongahela, Pennsylvania and have about 2,000 members. There are two other groups: one known as “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints” (sometimes called “Strangites”) who have their headquarters near Burlington, Wisconsin. They have 250 members. “The Church of Jesus Christ” (often called “Cutlerites”) with eight member in one group in Clitherall, Minnesota is too small to count very much. But, all of these groups are nonetheless followers of Joseph Smith and/or use his “revelations.” The Mormons are divided. Do not forget that!
THE MORMON PRIESTHOOD
Much ado is made by Mormon missionaries concerning the necessity of the proper priesthood. Doctrine and Covenants, section 107:1-3 says: “There are in the church, two priesthoods, namely the Melchizedek and the Aaronic, including the Levitical priesthood. Why the first is called the Melchizedek priesthood is because Melchizedek was such a great high priest. ... All other authorities or offices in the church are appendages to this priesthood.” The claim is made by the Latter Day Saints that the priesthood is necessary to salvation; that the priests alone can administer God's ordinances and they alone have the authority to interpret God's word.
Latter Day Saints further teach that the priesthood was restored in the days of Joseph Smith, Jr., and that both priesthoods were conferred upon him by divine messengers. The priesthoods are claimed to be eternal. The Aaronic priesthood is considered the lesser of the two, but it in no way conforms to the Aaronic or
Levitical priesthood of the Old Testament. Hence it cannot be a “restored” priesthood as they claim. Even if it were identical, it would have no place in the Christian system as revealed in the New Testament and under which we live today.
The Aaronic priesthood was imperfect because it was tied to an imperfect law according to Hebrews 7:11. It was to be changed or taken away (Hebrews 7:12). It was given for the purpose of offering gifts and sacrifices (Hebrews 5:1), and the only persons who could serve in the Aaronic and Levitical priesthood were men of the tribe of Levi, the priestly tribe of Israel (Numbers 3); those who were the descendants of Aaron. Colossians 2:14 tells us that the Old Covenant of which the Aaronic priesthood was an integral part, was done away when Christ died on the cross. “Having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.” Thus any revelations concerning this priesthood could not possibly come from God.
The Melchizedek priesthood, the greater of the two priesthoods in the Latter Day Saints' church, is actually without any foundation whatsoever. In the seventh chapter of Hebrews, Melchizedek, king of Salem and priest of the Most High God, is mentioned in connection with Abraham and the argument that the priesthood of Melchizedek was superior to that of Aaron, and Melchizedek was also superior to Abraham (Hebrews 7:7–10).
All of this will be meaningless unless we read Hebrews 7:11 which says, “Therefore, if perfection were through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need was there that another priest should arise according to the order of Melchizedek, and not be called according to the order of Aaron?”
Then, the whole point becomes clear as we read in Hebrews 5:10 that Christ was “Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchizedek,” and not under the order of Aaron simply because he was of the tribe of Judah and not of the tribe of Levi (Hebrews 7:14). Too, the law was changed from the Law of Moses to the Gospel and this necessitated the changing of the priesthood as we learn from Hebrews 7:12. Now, Christ was to be a high priest after the order (similitude, quality, manner, fashion, or style) of
Melchizedek “forever.” Speaking of Christ Hebrews 7:17 says, “For He testifies: ‘You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.’ ” Again in verse 24 after showing that the Aaronic priesthood changed personnel from time to time because of the death of the priests, the writer says of Christ, “But He, because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood.”
The word “unchangeable” in the Greek also carries the meaning of “untransferable,” it cannot be passed on to another. In Hebrews 5:6, we read: “You [meaning Christ] are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.” As long as Christ is alive, and He is eternal, He cannot transfer His priesthood to another. Hence, there cannot be any “restoration” of the Melchizedekian priesthood simply because there is no such thing to be restored.
To demand a present–day, super–priesthood, of the nature of that proposed by our Mormon friends, is actually to rob Jesus Christ of his deity and his priesthood. That I am not ready to do.
THE MORMON CONCEPT OF GOD
The Bible teaches, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one!” (Deuteronomy 6:4). Paul was just as explicit in I Corinthians 8:5-6, “For even if there are so–called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as there are many gods and many lords), yet for us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live.”
The Bible and also the Book of Mormon in Mormon 9:9–10 teaches monotheism ... that there is but one God. In sharp contrast to this, the revelation of Joseph Smith, Jr., Brigham Young, and other “prophets” afterwards reveal the following doctrine of polytheism ... or belief in many gods. “In the beginning the head
of the gods called a council of the gods and they came together and concocted a plan to create the world and people in it” (Journal of Discourses, Vol VI, Sermon by Prophet Joseph Smith).
“God himself was once as we are now and is an exalted man ...” (Relating the Teachings of Joseph Smith by Joseph Fielding Smith, page 345 of Journal of Discourses, Vol. VI, page 3). “The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man's; the Son also, but the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of spirit” (Doctrines and Covenants, Sec. 130:22).
“When our Father Adam came into the Garden of Eden, he came into it with a celestial body and brought Eve, one of his celestial wives, with him. He is our Father and our God and the only God with whom we have to do” (Brigham Young in Journal of Discourses, Vol 1, page 50). “Gods exist, and we had better strive to prepare to be one with them” (Discourses of Brigham Young. page 351).
“Remember that God our Heavenly Father was perhaps once a child and mortal like we are and rose step by step in the scale of progress, in the school of advancement; has moved forward and overcome until he has arrived at the point where he now is” (Orson Hyde, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 1, page 123).
While we could multiply these sources, they are enough to show us that the Mormon concept of God is polytheistic, teaching that the universe is inhabited by different gods who procreate spiritual children, which are, in turn clothed with bodies on different planets; Adam–God, being the actual god of this planet earth.
I know that when they come to your homes, they seem to be as orthodox as anyone. However, in the light of unimpeachable sources, they are clearly evading the truth of the Bible. The materialistic concept of a heavenly Father with blood and bones, when the Bible says in John 4:24, “God is spirit,” a heavenly and eternal being, just cannot be reconciled in my mind. While the Bible reveals, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, this in no way resembles the polytheistic gods of Latter Day Saints theology.
I close these thoughts with this statement from Apostle Orson Pratt, in The Seer, Vol. 1, page 37, “In our heaven where our spirits were born, there are many gods, each of whom has his own wife or wives which were given to him previous to his redemption while yet in his mortal state.”
Here, Apostle Pratt sums up the polytheistic thinking of Mormonism. And this leads us to our last point, which deals with:
The doctrine of celestial marriage includes spiritual wifery and polygamy. While Mormon missionaries may come denying that polygamy is now practiced in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, it is undeniable that the doctrine is still being taught and is found in the book, Doctrine and Covenants, Article 132 being devoted in its entirety to it. This “inspired” book contains revelations supposedly given to Joseph Smith regarding the doctrines and practices of the Latter Day Saints. Every Mormon missionary has a copy with him when he visits your home, and upon request you may see and read the article for yourself.
Although the exact time of the origin of the doctrine of celestial marriage is obscure, evidence is abundant that Joseph Smith taught it in some degree to his closest associates in the church as early as 1831. At any rate, on July 12, 1843, it was delivered to church leaders as a revelation from God and a command to be obeyed, with condemnation for disobedience. Proof of this is found in reading Article 132 in Doctrine and Covenants.
Verse 3, “... Therefore prepare the heart to receive and obey the instructions which I am about to give unto you; for all those who have this law REVEALED unto them must obey the same. 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.”
Throughout the rest of the article, explanation is made as to why a plurality of wives was necessary, and that Abraham had wives and concubines (verse 34-37), and also David and Solomon and Moses all had practiced polygamy and none of them had sinned (verse 39).
It is also interesting to note that in Verse 52, the following revelation was given to Emma Smith, Joseph's wife, “And let mine handmaid, Emma Smith, receive all those that have been given to my servant Joseph.” Then, in verse 54, he continued, “And I command mine handmaid Emma Smith, to abide and cleave unto my servant Joseph, and to none else. But if she will not abide this commandment [to allow Joseph to have other wives—HES] she shall be destroyed, saith the Lord. ...”
When the first news of such a doctrine came to the ears of the Latter Day Saints and to others in their communities, there arose a turmoil and tumult both within and without the church. So great was the opposition that a public denial and condemnation was published in the first edition of the Doctrine and Covenants in 1835, Article 101:4, as follows: “Inasmuch as this church of Christ has been reproached with the crime of fornication, and polygamy; we declare that we believe that one man should have one wife; and one woman but one husband, except in case of death, when either is free to marry again.”
This passage, of course, has been removed from the Doctrine and Covenants used by the Utah branch, but it is to be found in the Reorganized church's edition. However, the Book of Mormon, itself, condemns Article 132 in the Book Jacob 2:24; “Behold David and Solomon truly had many wives and concubines, which thing was abominable before me.” And, then, in verse 27, “... For there shall not any man among you have save it be one wife and concubines shall he have none.”
Compare that with verse 61 of Article 132 of Doctrines and Covenants, “And again as pertaining to the law of the priesthood—if any man espouse a virgin, and desire to espouse another and if the first gives her consent, and if he espouse the second, and they are virgins, and have vowed to no other man, then he is justified; he cannot commit adultery with that that belongeth unto him and to no one else. And if he have ten virgins given unto him by this law, he cannot commit adultery. ...” So says Joseph Smith supposedly through divine revelation.
The laws of the United States, however, disagreed, and Joseph Fielding Smith and Heber J. Grant, presidents of the church, were hauled into court and fined for practicing polygamy.
Finally, on September 24th, 1890, Wilford Woodruff, then president of the church, issued the famous Manifesto against polygamy which, among other things, says, “We are not teaching polygamy, or plural marriage, nor permitting any person to enter into its practice. Inasmuch as laws have been enacted by congress forbidding plural marriages. ... I hereby declare my intention to submit to those laws and to use my influence to the members of the church over which I preside to have them do likewise.”
All of this in the face of the “revelation” which Joseph Smith received concerning plural marriages, and which is to be found today in Doctrines and Covenants in which God supposedly declared that if any Mormon hearing it did not keep it, he would be damned (verse 4, Article 132). Doesn't sound like Peter and John, who said, “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29), does it?
Had we the space, we would discuss their strange teachings about salvation and judgment, the doctrines of hell, in which they do not believe, the “ordinary” birth of Christ and countless other materialistic doctrines of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, such as the temple rites, vicarious baptisms for the dead, and the doctrines of blood atonement which claims that the blood of Christ is not enough for certain sins, but time fails us.
We need to examine the three witnesses and eight witnesses to the Book of Mormon and see that most of them were later called unreliable by Smith himself. It would also be good to see why Negroes are denied the priesthood under Mormon theology. It would be time well spent to note the strange things in the Book of Mormon such as a boat built by the nameless brother of Jared built in size “the length of a tree” (Ether 2:17).
Investigation of the statements that John the Apostle would never die, 3 Nephi 28:6ff, would be in order. It would be interesting to read from noted archaeologists who say that not one place mentioned in the Book of Mormon as having existed on the American continents, has ever been identified. On the other hand, more than 90% of those mentioned in the Bible are known today.
Joseph Smith was not an inspired man, though he was extremely talented. The writings ascribed to him as revelations are but the productions of man.
We would encourage every person to return to the Bible which has withstood the test of time and the onslaught of every enemy. It claims for itself: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly, equipped for every good work” (II Timothy 3:16–17).
“Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was one for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3).
“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear” (I Peter 3:15).
Why I Left
The Church of Jesus Christ
of Latter Day Saints
Henry Seidmeyer delivered this lecture in Lubbock, Texas, March 2, 1969, on why he left the Mormon Church after being in it for many years. Though he had many friends in the Mormon church, his study of the Bible led him to conclude that he could not accept both the Bible and also the official books of Mormonism: The Book of Mormon, The Pearl of Great Price, and Doctrines and Covenants. The author has been preaching in churches of Christ for almost half a century.
Let us all resolve to “... contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3).