By Walter Martin
Not only does the Book of Mormon plagiarize heavily from the King James Bible, but it betrays a great lack of information and background on the subject of world history and the history of the Jewish people. The Jaredites apparently enjoyed glass windows in the miraculous barges in which they crossed the ocean; and “steel” and a “compass” were known to Nephi despite the fact that neither had been invented, demonstrating once again that Joseph Smith was a poor student of history and of Hebrew customs.
Laban, mentioned in one of the characters of the Book of Mormon (1 Nephi 4:9), makes use of a steel sword; and Nephi himself claims to have had a steel bow. The ancient Jaredites also had steel swords (Ether 7:9). The Mormons justify this by quoting Psalm 18:34 as a footnote to 1 Nephi 16:18 in the Book of Mormon, but modern translations of the Scriptures indicate that the word translated steel in the Old Testament (since steel was nonexistent) is more properly rendered bronze. Nahum 2:3, NASB, uses “steel” but it is taken from the Hebrew word , probably meaning iron.
William Hamblin, in his preliminary report entitled Handheld Weapons in the Book of Mormon (1985), published by the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (F.A.R.M.S.) uses the bronze argument as a possible justification for the rendering of steel in the Book of Mormon. He writes, “Another possibility is to equate this Jaredite steel with the ‘steel’ of the King James translation of the Old Testament, which actually refers to the Hebrew word for bronze.” The problem with using this explanation to protect the Book of Mormon is that it defies Mormon history. Remember, numerous contemporaries of Joseph Smith have claimed that Smith could not continue “translating” the gold plates unless the scribe read each word back to him correctly. If the word steel in the Book of Mormon should really have been bronze, it undermines the LDS claim that the book was translated by the gift and power of God, since it shows that errors did creep into Joseph Smith’s translation.
Mormons sometimes attempt to defend Nephi’s possession of a not yet invented compass (known in the Book of Mormon as a Liahona) by the fact that Acts 28:13 states: “And from thence we fetched a compass.” Modern translations of the Scripture, however, refute this subterfuge by correctly rendering the passage: “And from there we made a circle.”
Added to the preceding anachronisms is the fact that the Book of Mormon not only contradicts the Bible, but contradicts other revelations purporting to come from the same God who inspired the Book of Mormon. The Bible declares that the Messiah of Israel was to be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2), and the gospel of Matthew (chap. 2, v. 1) records the fulfillment of this prophecy. But the Book of Mormon (Alma 7:9, 10) states:
“the son of God cometh upon the face of the earth. And behold, he shall be born of Mary, at Jerusalem, which is the land of our forefathers.”
Book of Mormon describes Jerusalem as a city (1 Nephi 1:4) as was Bethlehem
described as a separate town in the Bible. The contradiction is irreconcilable.
Another area of contradiction between the Bible and the Book of Mormon concerns sin and Mormon baptism at eight years of age. Moroni 8:8 states the doctrine that “little children are whole, for they are not capable of committing sin; wherefore the curse of Adam is taken from them in me.” Anyone who thinks that children under age eight cannot sin has not visited the classrooms of today’s schools. The Mormon concept directly contradicts Psalm 51:5, which places sin at the point of conception. The book of Romans leaves no exemption to the sin and guilt that Adam passed on to all; no exceptions are made (Romans 5:12–15). Furthermore, it clearly states that “there is none righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10–12).
There are also a number of instances where God did not agree with himself, if indeed it is supposed that He had anything to do with the inspiration of the Book of Mormon, the Pearl of Great Price, the Doctrine and Covenants, or the other recorded utterances of Joseph Smith.
In the Book of Mormon, for instance, (3 Nephi 12:2; Moroni 8:11) the remission of sins is the accomplishment of baptism:
“Yea, blessed are they who shall be baptized, for they shall receive a remission of their sin. Behold baptism is unto repentance to the fulfilling the commandments unto the remission of sin.”
But in the Doctrine and Covenants (20:37), the direct opposite is stated:
“All those who humble themselves and truly manifest by their works that they have received of the Spirit of Christ unto the remission of their sins, shall be received by baptism into his church.”
theologians conspicuously omit any serious discussion of the contradiction.
Joseph Smith did not limit his contradictions to baptism; indeed, polygamy is a classic example of some of his maneuvering.
“Go ye, therefore, and do the works of Abraham; enter ye into my law and ye shall be saved. God commanded Abraham, and Sarah gave Hagar to Abraham to wife. And why did she do it? Because this was the law; and from Hagar sprang many people. ” (Doctrine and Covenants, 132:34, 32).
The Book of Mormon, on the other hand, categorically states:
“Wherefore, I the Lord God will not suffer that this people shall do like unto them of old for there shall not any man among you have save it be one wife; and concubines he shall have none; for I, the Lord God, delight in the chastity of woman” (Jacob 2:26–28).
appears that Smith could manufacture revelations at will, depending upon his
desires. In the last instance, his reputation and subsequent actions indicate
that sex was the motivating factor.
A final example of the confusion generated between the Book of Mormon and other “inspired” revelations is found in this conflict between two works in the Pearl of Great Price: the Book of Moses and the Book of Abraham.
“I am the Beginning and the End, the Almighty God; by mine Only Begotten I created these things; yea, in the beginning I created the heaven, and the earth upon which thou standest” (Moses 2:1).
The Book of Abraham, on the other hand, repudiates this monotheistic view and states:
“And then the Lord said: Let us go down. And they went down at the beginning, and they, that is the Gods, organized and formed the heavens and the earth” (Abraham 4:1).
how it is possible to reconcile these two allegedly equal pronouncements from
Mormon revelation escapes this author, and the Mormons themselves appear
reluctant to furnish any concrete explanation.
The question of false prophecies in Mormonism has been handled adequately in a number of excellent volumes, but it should be pointed out that Joseph Smith drew heavily upon published articles both in newspapers and magazines. In fact, one of his famous prophecies concerning the Civil War is drawn chiefly from material already published at the time. In the History of the Church, Volume 1, page 301, Joseph Smith states, “Appearances of troubles among the nations became more visible this season than they had previously been since the Church began her journey out of the wilderness. The people of South Carolina, in convention assembled (in November), passed ordinances, declaring their state a free and independent nation.” From this we know that Smith could have been aware of South Carolina’s succession as early as November 1832. If not in November, he could have known about this from an article in the Boston Daily Advertiser & Patriot, December 10, 1832. This was a full fifteen days before Smith’s prophecy, and the Mormon Apostle Orson Hyde was in Boston that day.
Smith declared in Doctrine and Covenants, Section 87:
“At the rebellion of South Carolina the Southern States will call on other nations, even the nation of Great Britain and then war shall be poured out upon all nations . And slaves shall rise up against their masters and that the remnants shall vex the Gentiles with a sore vexation.”
the Civil War did break out some years after Smith’s death in 1844, England did
not become involved in any war against the United States. “All nations” were
not involved in war as was prophesied. The slaves did not rise up against
“their masters,” and the “remnants” who were Native Americans were themselves
vexed by the Gentiles, being defeated in war and confined to reservations.
Prophet Smith was an extremely ineffective prophet here, as well as in Doctrine and Covenants 124:22-23, 59, when he prophesied that he would possess the house he built at Nauvoo “for ever and ever.”
The fact of the matter is that neither Joseph nor his seed “after him” lived from “generation to generation” in the Nauvoo house. According to The Comprehensive History of the Church 1:160, “The Nauvoo House was never completed; and after its unfinished walls had stood unprotected for a number of years and were crumbling to decay, they were taken down; the foundations were torn up and the excellent building stone of which they were constructed sold for use in other buildings in and about Nauvoo.” However, the LDS church has rebuilt the house in “Nauvoo” and offers it as a tourist attraction.
These and other instances indicate that Smith was not only a poor scribe but a false prophet, and his prophecy concerning the restoration of Israel to Palestine clearly reveals that he anticipated the millennium in his own lifetime, whereas in reality the prophecy of Ezekiel 37 began to be fulfilled in 1948, more than a hundred years after Smith’s death.
The question quite naturally arises in summing up the background of the Book of Mormon: Where did the book come from, since it obviously did not come from God? The answer to this has been propounded at great length by numerous students of Mormonism, particularly E. D. Howe, Pomeroy Tucker, and William A. Linn.
All the aforementioned concur that the Book of Mormon is probably an expansion upon the writings of Solomon Spaulding, a retired minister who was known to have written a number of “romances” with biblical backgrounds similar to those of the Book of Mormon. The Mormons delight to point out that one of Spaulding’s manuscripts, entitled “Manuscript Story,” was discovered in Hawaii more than 100 years ago, and it differed in many respects from the Book of Mormon.
But in his excellent volume The Book of Mormon, Dr. James D. Bales makes the following observation, which is of great importance and agrees in every detail with my research:
It has long been contended
that there is a connection between the Book of Mormon and one of Solomon
Spaulding’s historical romances. The Latter-day Saints, of course, deny such a
What if the Latter-day Saints are right and there is no relationship between the Book of Mormon and Spaulding’s writings? It simply means that those who so contend are wrong, but it proves nothing with reference to the question as to whether or not the Book of Mormon is of divine origin.
One could be wrong as to what man, or men, wrote the Book of Mormon, and still know that it was not written by men inspired of God. One can easily prove that the Book of Mormon is of human origin. And, after all, this is the main issue. The fundamental issue is not what man or men wrote it, but whether it was written by men who were guided by God. We know that men wrote it, and that these men, whoever they were, did not have God’s guidance. This may be illustrated by Science and Health With Key to the Scriptures—the textbook of Christian Science churches. Mrs. Eddy claims to have been its author, under God’s direction. There are others who claim she reworked and enlarged a manuscript of Mr. Quimby and the evidence seems to prove that such is the case. But what if those who so maintained failed to prove their case? Would that prove that it was inspired of God? Not at all. It would prove only that Quimby’s manuscript had nothing to do with it. But it would not prove that some other uninspired being did not write it. Regardless of what human being or beings wrote Science and Health, it is of human, not divine origin. Just so the Book of Mormon is of human origin and uninspired, even though it were impossible to prove what particular man wrote it.
It has not been maintained that all the Book of Mormon was written by Spaulding. Thus, it has not been claimed that the theological portions were put in by him. Those portions bear the imprint of Smith, Cowdery, and Sidney Rigdon (see the proof offered in Shook’s The True Origin of the Book of Mormon, pages 126ff.). It is maintained, however, that some things, including a great deal of Scripture, were added to one of Spaulding’s manuscripts and that his work was thus transferred into the Book of Mormon (see the testimony of John Spaulding, Solomon’s brother; Martha Spaulding, John’s wife): They maintained that the historical portion was Spaulding’s. (E. D. Howe, Mormonism Unveiled, 1834, 278ff; Shook, The True Origin of the Book of Mormon, 94ff).
The Mormons contend that the discovery of one of Spaulding’s manuscripts demonstrates that it was not the basis of the Book of Mormon.
“I will here state that the Spaulding manuscript was discovered in 1884, and is at present in the library of Oberlin College, Ohio. On examination it was found to bear no resemblance whatever to the Book of Mormon. The theory that Solomon Spaulding was the author of the Book of Mormon should never be mentioned again—outside a museum.” (William A. Morton, op. cit., 6.)
There are three errors in the above paragraph: viz., that Spaulding wrote but one manuscript; that the manuscript discovered in 1884 is the one that non-Mormons have claimed constituted the basis of the Book of Mormon; that the manuscript in Oberlin bears no resemblance whatever to the Book of Mormon.
(a) Spaulding wrote more than
one manuscript. This was maintained by D. P. Harlburt [Hurlbut] and Clark
Braden before the Honolulu manuscript was found (Charles A. Shook, op. cit.,
77). Spaulding’s daughter also testified that her father had written “other
romances.” (Elder George Reynolds, The Myth of the “Manuscript Found,” Utah,
1833, 104). The present manuscript story looks like a rough, unfinished, first
(b) The manuscript found in Honolulu was called a “Manuscript Story” and not the “Manuscript Found.” This Honolulu manuscript, The Manuscript Story, was in the hands of anti-Mormons in 1854. However, they did not claim that it was the manuscript which was the basis of the Book of Mormon. It was claimed that another manuscript of Spaulding was the basis of the Book of Mormon, (Charles A. Shook, op. cit., 77, 15, 185. The “Manuscript Found or Manuscript Stop” of the late Rev. Solomon Spaulding, Lamoni, Iowa: Printed and Published by the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, 1885, 10).
(c) Although the Manuscript Story has not been regarded as the Manuscript Found, which constituted the basis of the Book of Mormon, there is a great deal of resemblance between the Manuscript and the Book of Mormon. These points of similarity can be accounted for on the basis that the Manuscript Story was the first, and rough draft of one of Spaulding’s works, which he reworked into the Manuscript Found.
“Howe, in 1854, published a fair synopsis of the Oberlin manuscript now at Oberlin (Howe’s Mormonism Unveiled, 288) and submitted the original to the witnesses who testified to the many points of identity between Spaulding’s Manuscript Found and the Book of Mormon. These witnesses then (in 1834) recognized the manuscript secured by Harlburt and now at Oberlin as being one of Spaulding’s, but not the one that they asserted was similar to the Book of Mormon. They further said that Spaulding had told them that he had altered his original plan of writing by going farther back with his dates and writing in the old scripture style, in order that his story might appear more ancient” (Howe’s Mormonism Unveiled, 288; Theodore Schroeder, The Origin of the Book of Mormon, Re-Examined in Its Relation to Spaulding’s “Manuscript Found,” 5).
This testimony is borne out by the fact that there are many points of similarity between the manuscript in Oberlin College and the Book of Mormon.
is fairly well established historically, then, that the Mormons have attempted to
use a manuscript that is admittedly not the one from which Smith later copied
and amplified the text of what is now known as the Book of Mormon as the basis
for denying what eye witnesses have affirmed: that it was another Spaulding
manuscript (Manuscript Found) that Smith drew upon to fabricate the Book of
Dr. Bales is right when he states:
There are too many points of
similarity for them to be without significance. Thus, the internal evidence,
combined with the testimony of witnesses, as presented in Howe’s book and
reproduced in Shook’s, shows that Spaulding revised the Manuscript Story. The
revision was known as the Manuscript Found, and it became the basis of the Book
of Mormon in at least its historical parts. Also its religious references
furnished in part the germs of the religious portions of the Book of Mormon.
However, in ordinary conversation, and in public debate on the Book of Mormon, it is unnecessary to go into the question of who wrote the Book of Mormon. The really important issue is whether or not the Book of Mormon is of divine origin. There are some Mormons who seem to think that if they can prove that Spaulding’s manuscript had nothing to do with the Book of Mormon, they have made great progress toward proving its divine origin. Such, however, is not the case. And one should show, from an appeal to the Bible and to the Book of Mormon itself, that the Book of Mormon is not of divine origin.
us not forget that the Manuscript Story itself contains at least seventy-five
similarities to what is now the Book of Mormon and this is not to be easily
Finally, students of Mormonism must, in the last analysis, measure its content by that of Scripture, and when this is done it will be found that it does not “speak according to the law and the testimony” (Isaiah 8:20) and it is to be rejected as a counterfeit revelation doubly condemned by God himself (Galatians 1:8–9).
Joseph Smith, the author of this “revelation,” was perfectly described (as was his reward) in the Word of God almost thirty-three hundred years before he appeared. It would pay the Mormons to remember this message:
If there arise among you a
prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, and the sign
or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, “Let us go
after other gods,” which thou hast not known, “and let us serve them;” thou
shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams:
for the Lord your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the Lord your God
with all your heart and with all your soul.
Ye shall walk after the Lord your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him.
And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he hath spoken to turn you away from the Lord your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, to thrust thee out of the way which the Lord thy God commanded thee to walk in. So shalt thou put the evil away from the midst of thee.
If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, “Let us go and serve other gods,” which thou has not known, thou, nor thy fathers; namely, of the gods of the people which are round about you, nigh unto thee, or far off from thee, from the one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth:
Thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him; neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him: But thou shalt surely kill him; thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people.
And thou shalt stone him with stones, that he die; because he hath sought to thrust thee away from the Lord thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage (Deuteronomy 13:1–10).
The Book of Mormon stands as a challenge to the Bible because it adds to the Word of God and to His one revelation, and the penalty for such action is as sobering as it is awesome:
For I testify unto every man
that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto
these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:
And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.
He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus (Revelation 22:18–20).
It does no good for the Mormon to
argue that Revelation 22:18–20 only pertains to the book of Revelation, since
this serves only to prove our point. In the 1981 edition of the King James
Version of the Bible, published by the Mormon Church, they have no less than
forty-five verses footnoted in the book of Revelation where Joseph Smith added
and took away from the “words of the book.” These footnotes are conveniently
noted as JST (Joseph Smith Translation), beginning at Revelation 1:1 and ending
at 19:21. He truly did what the apostle John warned against. Smith both added
to and took away from the book of Revelation.
We need not make this a personal issue with the Mormons, but a historical and theological issue, which, for all the politeness and tact demonstrably possible, cannot conceal the depth of our disagreement. Even the famous “witnesses” to the veracity of the Book of Mormon are impugned by their own history. This does not speak well for the characters of those concerned or for their reliability as witnesses.
It was Joseph Smith who declared theological war on Christianity when he ascribed to God the statement that branded all Christian sects as “all wrong,” their creeds as “abominations,” and all Christians as “corrupt having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof” (Joseph Smith—History 1:19).
The onus of hostility rests upon the Mormons, and their history of persecution (largely the result of their mouthing of Smith’s abusive accusations and their practice of polygamy) may be properly laid at their own doorstep. They were the initial antagonists, not the Christian church. We do not excuse those who persecuted the early Mormons, but in a great many instances those who were involved were provoked to action by Mormon excesses. (Note: An example of this would be the Mormon expulsion from Jackson County, Missouri.)
We may safely leave the Book of Mormon to the judgment of history and Mormon theology to the pronouncements of God’s immutable Word. But we must speak the truth about these things and keep foremost in our minds the fact that the sincerity of the Mormons in their faith is no justification for withholding just criticism of that faith or of its refuted source, the Book of Mormon and the “revelations” of Joseph Smith. The truth must be spoken in love, but it must be spoken.
Corrections, Contradictions, and Errors
There is a great wealth of information concerning the material contained in the Book of Mormon and the various plagiarisms, anachronisms, false prophecies, and other unfortunate practices connected with it. At best we can give but a condensation of that which has been most thoroughly documented.
Since the publication of the Book of Mormon in 1830, the first edition has undergone extensive “correction” in order to present it in its current form. Some of these “corrections” should be noted.
The former major revision of the Book of Mormon was in 1920. That standard edition is still found in many public libraries and in millions of homes. In the latest revision, 1981, a subtitle was added to the cover: “Another Testament of Jesus Christ,” and no less than 100 verses were changed without consulting the missing golden plates. A note closing the introduction to the 1981 edition says, “Some minor errors in the text have been perpetuated in past editions of the Book of Mormon. This edition contains corrections that seem appropriate to bring the material into conformity with prepublication manuscripts and early editions edited by the prophet Joseph Smith.” Without blushing, the Mormon Church boldly asserts the unfounded claim that the prepublication manuscripts agree with their most recent changes. Our access to the handwritten copies of the original Book of Mormon deny such a claim and proves once again that the Mormon Church will sacrifice truth for the sake of public relations.
1. In Mosiah 21:28, it is
declared that “King Mosiah had a gift from God”; but in the original edition of
the book, the name of the king was Benjamin—an oversight that thoughtful Mormon
scribes corrected. This is not, of course, a typographical error, as there is
little resemblance between the names Benjamin and Mosiah; rather, it appears that
either God made a mistake when He inspired the record or Joseph made a mistake
when he translated it. But the Mormons will admit to neither, so they are
stuck, so to speak, with the contradiction.
2. When compared with the 1830 edition, 1 Nephi 19:16–20 reveals more than twenty changes in the “inspired Book of Mormon,” words having been dropped, spelling corrected, and words and phraseology added and turned about. This is a strange way to treat an inspired revelation from God.
3. In Alma 28:14–29:11, more than eighteen changes may be counted from the original edition. On page 303, the phrase, “Yea, decree unto them that decrees which are unalterable,” was dropped in later editions, but strangely reappeared in 1981. (See Alma 29:4.)
4. On page 25 of the 1830 edition, the Book of Mormon declares:
“And the angel said unto me, behold the Lamb of God, yea, even the Eternal Father.”
Yet in 1 Nephi 11:21, the later editions of the book read:
“And the angel said unto me: Behold the Lamb of God, yea even the son of the eternal Father.”
5. The Roman Catholic Church should be delighted with page 25 of the original edition of the Book of Mormon, which confirms one of their dogmas, namely, that Mary is the mother of God.
“Behold, the virgin which thou seest, is the mother of God.”
Noting this unfortunate lapse into Romanistic theology, Joseph Smith and his considerate editors changed 1 Nephi 11:18 (as well as 1 Nephi 11:21, 32; 13:40), so that it now reads: “Behold, the virgin whom thou seest, is the mother of the Son of God.”
From the above, which are
only a handful of examples from the approximately 4,000 word changes to be
found in the Book of Mormon, the reader can readily see that it in no sense can
be accepted as the Word of God. The Scripture says, “The word of the Lord
endureth for ever” (1 Peter 1:25); and our Savior declared, “Sanctify them
through thy truth: thy word is truth” (John 17:17).
The record of the Scriptures rings true. The Book of Mormon, on the other hand, is patently false in far too many instances to be considered coincidence.
Added to the evidence of various revisions, the Book of Mormon also contains plagiarisms from the King James Bible, anachronisms, false prophecies, and errors of fact that cannot be dismissed. Some of these bear repetition, though they are well known to students of Mormonism.
The testimony of the three witnesses, which appear at the front of the Book of Mormon (Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and Martin Harris) declares that “An angel of God came down from heaven, and he brought and laid before our eyes, that we beheld and saw the plates, and the engraving thereon. ”
It is quite noteworthy that Martin Harris denied that he had actually seen the plates with his “naked eyes.” In fact, when pressed, he stated, “No, I saw them with a spiritual eye” (Recollections of John H. Gilbert, 1892, Typescript, BYU, 5–6).
The Mormons are loath to admit that all three of these witnesses later apostatized from the Mormon faith and were described in most unflattering terms (“counterfeiters, thieves, [and] liars”) by their Mormon contemporaries (cf. Senate Document 189, February 15, 1841, 6–9).
A careful check of early Mormon literature also reveals that Joseph Smith wrote prophecies and articles against the character of the witnesses of the Book of Mormon, which in itself renders their testimony suspect (cf. Doctrine and Covenants, 3:12; 10:7; History of the Church; 3:228, 3:232).
Mormons try to cover this historical predicament by saying that two of the three witnesses, Oliver Cowdery and Martin Harris, were rebaptized into Mormonism. What they fail to reveal is more significant: The Times and Seasons (2:482) published that Oliver Cowdery denied his Book of Mormon testimony. He spent several years as a baptized Methodist before his rebaptism into Mormonism. Martin Harris, likewise, has suspicious circumstances surrounding his rebaptism. He denied the teachings of Brigham Young after rebaptism and was banned from preaching by Young because of their differences. David Whitmer changed the details of his testimony concerning the angel with the golden plates to say that it was a vision and not an actual visitation by an angelic person (An Address to All Believers in Christ, p. 32). Certainly testimony from such unstable personalities is dubious at best.
The Holy Spirit in Mormonism
Having discussed the nature and attributes of God in contrast to Mormon mythology and its pantheon of polygamous deities, it remains for us to understand what the Mormon teaching concerning the third person of the Christian Trinity is, since they deign to describe Him as “a personage of spirit.”
It is interesting to observe that in their desire to emulate orthodoxy where possible, the Mormons describe the Holy Ghost in the following terms:
“The term Holy Ghost and its common synonyms, Spirit of God, Spirit of the Lord, or simply Spirit, Comforter, and Spirit of Truth occur in the Scriptures with plainly different meanings, referring in some cases to the person of God the Holy Ghost, and in other instances to the power and authority of this great personage, or to the agency through which He ministers. The Holy Ghost undoubtedly possesses personal powers and affections; these attributes exist in Him in perfection. Thus, He teaches and guides, testifies of the Father and the Son, reproves for sin, speaks, commands, and commissions. These are not figurative expressions but plain statements of the attributes and characteristics of the Holy Ghost” (The Articles of Faith, 115).
It is interesting to recall that according to Talmage, writer of The Articles of Faith,
“It has been said, therefore, that God is everywhere present; but this does not mean that the actual person of any one member of the Godhead can be physically present in more than one place at one time. Admitting the personality of God, we are compelled to accept the fact of His materiality; indeed, an ‘immaterial’ being, under which meaningless name some have sought to designate the condition of God, cannot exist, for the very expression is a contradiction in terms. If God possesses a form, that form is of necessity of definite proportions and therefore of limited extension in space. It is impossible for Him to occupy at one time more than one space of such limits ” (42–43).
Here exists a contradiction in Mormon theology if ever there was one. Talmage
declares that the Holy Spirit is a personage of spirit, obviously “an
immaterial being” and obviously God (cf. Doctrine and Covenants, 20:28), and
yet not possessing a form of material nature; hence, not limited to extension
and space, and therefore rendering it possible for Him to occupy at one time
more than one space of such limits, in direct contradiction to Talmage’s
earlier statements in the same volume. For the Mormon, “a thing without parts
has no whole and an immaterial body cannot exist” (Articles of Faith, 48), and
yet the Holy Spirit is a “personage of Spirit,” one of the Mormon gods,
according to Doctrine and Covenants. To cap it all, “He is an immaterial being
possessed of a spiritual form and definite proportions!” Mormon theology here
appears to have really become confused at the roots, so to speak; but Talmage
does not agree with Talmage, nor does Doctrine and Covenants; they are forced
into the illogical position of affirming the materiality of God in one
instance, and denying that materiality in the next instance where the Holy
Spirit is concerned.
Parley P. Pratt, the eminent Mormon theologian, further complicated the doctrine of the Holy Spirit in Mormon theology when he wrote:
“This leads to the investigation of that substance called the Holy Spirit or Light of Christ. There is a divine substance, fluid or essence, called Spirit, widely diffused among these eternal elements. This divine element, or Spirit, is immediate, active or controlling agent in all holy miraculous powers. The purest, most refined and subtle of all these substances and the one least understood or even recognized by the less informed among mankind is that substance called the Holy Spirit” (Key to the Science of Theology, ed. 1978, 24–25, 64).
In the thinking of Pratt, then, the Holy Spirit is a substance, a fluid, and a
person, but this is not the teaching of Scripture, which consistently portrays
God the Holy Spirit, third person of the Trinity, as an eternal, omnipotent,
omnipresent, omniscient Being, sharing all the attributes of Deity, and one
with the Father and the Son in unity of substance. Mormons are, to say the
least, divided in their theology on the issue, although Talmage bravely
attempts to synthesize the mass of conflicting information and “revelations” found
within the writings of Smith and Young and the other early Mormon writers. Try
as he will, however, Talmage cannot explain the Mormon confusion on the
subject, as evidenced by the following facts. In Doctrine and Covenants 20:37
the following statement appears:
“All those who humble themselves and truly manifest by their works that they have received of the Spirit of Christ unto the remission of their sins, shall be received by baptism into his church.”
Joseph Smith the prophet was the recipient of this alleged revelation and he is to be believed at all costs; yet the same Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon, which unreservedly declared:
“Yea, blessed are they who shall be baptized, for they shall receive a remission of their sins. Behold, baptism is unto repentance to the fulfilling of the commandments unto the remission of sins” (3 Nephi 12:2; Moroni 8:11).
In one instance, Smith taught that baptism follows the initial act—remission of sins—and in the second instance, the initial act—remission of sins—reverses its position and follows baptism. According to Talmage, “God grants the gift of the Holy Ghost unto the obedient; and the bestowal of this gift follows faith, repentance, and baptism by water. The apostles of old promised the ministration of the Holy Ghost unto those only who had received baptism by water for the remission of sins” (The Articles of Faith, 163).
The question naturally arises: When, then, is the Holy Spirit bestowed? Or indeed, can He be bestowed in Mormon theology when it is not determined whether the remission of sins precedes baptism or follows it? Here again, confusion on the doctrine of the Holy Spirit is evidenced in Mormon thinking.
It would be possible to explore further the Mormon doctrine of the Holy Spirit, especially the interesting chapter in President Charles Penrose’s book Mormon Doctrine (Salt Lake City, 1888), in which he refers to the Holy Spirit as “it” more than twenty times—devoid of personality, although, in the usual polytheistic Mormon scheme, endowed with Deity. Penrose closes his comment by stating:
“As baptism is the birth of water, so confirmation is the birth or baptism of the Spirit. Both are necessary to entrance into the Kingdom of God. The possessor of the Holy Ghost is infinitely rich; those who receive it can lose it, and are of all men the poorest. But there are various degrees of its possession. Many who obtain it walk but measurably in its light. But there are few who live by its whisperings, and approach by its mediumship into close communion with heavenly beings of the highest order. To them its light grows brighter every day” (pp. 18–19).
Mormonism, then, for all its complexities and want of conformity to the revelation of God’s Word, indeed contradicts the Word of God repeatedly, teaching in place of the God of pure spiritual substance (John 4:24) a flesh-and-bone Deity and a pantheon of gods in infinite stages of progression. For Mormons, God is restricted to a narrow, rationalistic, and materialistic mold. He cannot be incomprehensible, though Scripture indicates that in many ways He most certainly is. “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8–9). Mormon theology complicates and confounds the simple declarations of Scripture in order to support the polytheistic pantheon of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young. It is obvious, therefore, that the God of the Bible and the “god” of the Mormons, the “Adam-god” of Brigham Young and the flesh-and-bone deity of Joseph Smith are not one and the same; by their nature all monotheistic and theistic religions stand in opposition to Mormon polytheism. Christianity in particular repudiates as false and deceptive the multiplicity of Mormon efforts to masquerade as “ministers of righteousness” (2 Corinthians 11:15).
The Mormon Doctrine of God
It will be conceded by most informed students of Christianity that one cannot deny the existence of the one true God of Scripture and at the same time lay claim to being a Christian. The New Testament writers, as well as our Lord himself, taught that there was but one God, and all church theologians from the earliest days of church history have affirmed that Christianity is monotheistic in the strictest sense of the term. Indeed it was this fact that so radically differentiated it and the parental Judaism from the pagan, polytheistic societies of Rome and Greece. The Bible is particularly adamant in its declaration that God recognizes the existence of no other “deities.” In fact, on a number of occasions the Lord summed up His uniqueness in the following revelation:
Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. I, even I, am the Lord; and beside me there is no saviour. Thus saith the Lord the King of Israel, and his redeemer the Lord of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God. Ye are even my witnesses. Is there a God beside me? yea, there is no God; I know not any. I am the Lord, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me. There is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me. Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else (Isaiah 43:10–11; 44:6, 8; 45:5, 21–22, emphasis added).
Throughout the Old Testament,
God is known by many titles. He is Elohim, Jehovah, Adonai, El Gebor, and He is
also spoken of by combinations of names, such as Jehovah-Elohim,
Jehovah-Sabaoth, etc. If the Hebrew Old Testament tells us anything, it is the
fact that there is but one God: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord”
(Deuteronomy 6:4). And Jewish monotheism, as all know, at length gave birth to
Christian monotheism, the one developing from the other by progressive
revelation from God the Holy Spirit. It is not necessary to belabor the point;
it is common knowledge that the facts as they have been stated are true. But as
we approach our study of the Mormon concept of God, a subtle yet radical change
takes place in the usage of the vocabulary of Scripture as we shall see.
It must also be admitted at the outset that the Bible does designate certain individuals as “gods,” such as Satan who is described by Christ as “the prince of this world” and elsewhere in Scripture as “the god of this world.” It must be clearly understood, however, that whenever this term is assigned to individuals, to spirit personalities, and the like, metaphorical and contextual usage must be carefully analyzed so that a clear picture emerges. For instance, the Lord declared to Moses: “See, I have made thee a god to Pharaoh: and Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet” (Exodus 7:1). The Hebrew indicates here, when cross-referenced with Exodus 4:16 (“And he shall be thy spokesman unto the people: and he shall be, even he shall be to thee instead of a mouth, and thou shalt be to him instead of God.”), that a definite relationship was involved. The context also reveals that Moses, by virtue of the power invested in him by God, became in the eyes of Pharaoh “a god.” Aaron in turn became a prophet of the “god” (Moses) that Pharaoh beheld because he was the spokesman for Moses. So metaphorical usage is obviously intended, from the very usage of the language and its contextual analysis. On this point all Old Testament scholars are agreed. But this should never cloud the issue that there is only one true and living God as the previous quotations readily attest.
Another instance of similar usage is the application of the term “Elohim,” the plural usage of the term often translated God in the Old Testament. In some contexts the judges of Israel are referred to as “gods,” not that they themselves possessed the intrinsic nature of Deity but that they became in the eyes of the people as gods, or more literally, “mighty ones” (Psalm 82, cf. John 10:34), representing as they did the Lord of Hosts. In the New Testament usage, the apostle Paul is quite explicit when he declares that in the world, i.e., as far as the world is concerned, “(there be gods many, and lords many,) but to us there is but one God, the Father, and one Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 8:5–6), a statement emphasized by our Lord when He stated, “I am the first and the last: I am He that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore” (Revelation 1:17–18). We conclude, then, that polytheism is totally foreign to the Judeo-Christian tradition of theology. In fact, it is the antithesis of the extreme monotheism portrayed in Judaism and Christianity. The God of the Old Testament and the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ are one and the same Person; this the Christian church has always held. In addition to this, God’s nature has always been declared to be that of pure spirit. Our Lord declared that “God is spirit, and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24—as correctly translated from the original Greek text). In numerous other places within the pages of the inspired Word of God, the Holy Spirit has been pleased to reveal God’s spiritual nature and “oneness.” The apostle Paul reminds us that “a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one” (Galatians 3:20). The psalmist reminds us of His unchangeable nature, “From everlasting to everlasting, thou art God” (Psalm 90:2); and Moses records in the initial act of creation that “the spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters” (Genesis 1:2). The “gods” mentioned in Scripture, then, are never gods by either identity or nature; they are “gods” by human creation or acclamation as we have seen. This, then, is a far cry from comparison with the one true and living God described by the writer of the epistle to the Hebrews as “the Father of spirits” (Hebrews 12:9; see also Galatians 4:8–9).
The Mormons misuse John 10:34, “Ye are gods,” falsely implying that Jesus endorsed godhood for man. This cannot be true for several reasons. It does not fit the context of John 10:24–36, where Jesus shows his equality with the Father and deservedly is called God. In contrast, the judges (so-called gods) in Psalm 82:6 were so called because of their lofty position over the people, but God rebuked them for their sins, and they were proven to be not gods after all but fallen, sinful men.
How this passage is to support the Mormon position is baffling, because Mormons say they are gods in embryo and they have not yet reached godhood. Whatever they wish John 10:34 to say, it does not support their position. The Mormon can only say he hopes to become a god. Psalm 82 and John 10:34 are in the present tense, a distinction apart from their position.
In fact, upon a reading of Psalm 82, it is a wonder that Mormons would want to identify with the Psalm at all. It says nothing good about these men. But if that is the position they desire, only the judgment of God follows.
Furthermore, the Mormon should be made aware that LDS Apostle James Talmage correctly identified the “gods” of Psalm 82 and John 10:34 when he wrote, “Divinely Appointed Judges Called ‘gods.’ In Psalm 82:6, judges invested by divine appointment are called ‘gods.’ To this Scripture the Savior referred in His reply to the Jews in Solomon’s Porch. Judges so authorized officiated as the representatives of God and are honored by the exalted title ‘gods.’ ” (Jesus the Christ, 501).
Plagiarisms—The King James Version
A careful examination of the Book of Mormon reveals that it contains thousands of words from the King James Bible. In fact, verbatim quotations, some of considerable length, have caused the Mormons no end of embarrassment for many years.
The comparisons of Moroni 10 with 1 Corinthians 12:1–11; 2 Nephi 14 with Isaiah 4; and 2 Nephi 12 with Isaiah 2 reveal that Joseph Smith made free use of his Bible to supplement the alleged revelation of the golden plates. The book of Mosiah, chapter 14, in the Book of Mormon, is a reproduction of the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah the prophet, and 3 Nephi 13 copies Matthew 6 almost word-for-word.
There are other instances of plagiarisms from the King James Bible including paraphrases of certain verses. One of these verses (1 John 5:7) is reproduced in 3 Nephi 11:27. The only difficulty with the paraphrase here is that the text is considered by scholars to be an interpolation missing from all the major manuscripts of the New Testament, but present in the King James Bible, from which Smith paraphrased it not knowing the difference.
Another example of this type of error is found in 3 Nephi 11:33–34, and is almost a direct quotation from Mark 16:16, a passage regarded by many New Testament Greek scholars as one of three possible endings to that gospel. But Joseph Smith was not aware of this, so he even copied in translational variations, another proof that neither he nor the alleged golden plates were inspired of God.
Two further instances of plagiarisms from the King James Bible that have backfired on the Mormons are worth noting.
In the third chapter of the book of Acts, Peter’s classic sermon at Pentecost paraphrases Deuteronomy 18:15–19. While in the process of writing 3 Nephi, Joseph Smith puts Peter’s paraphrase in the mouth of Christ when the Savior was allegedly preaching to the Nephites. The prophet overlooked the fact that at the time that Christ was allegedly preaching His sermon, the sermon itself had not yet been preached by Peter.
In addition to this, 3 Nephi makes Christ out to be a liar, when in 20:23 Christ attributes Peter’s words to Moses as a direct quotation, when, as we have pointed out, Peter paraphrased the quotation from Moses (Acts 3:22–23); and the wording is quite different. But Joseph did not check far enough, hence this glaring error.
Secondly, the Book of Mormon follows the error of the King James translation that renders Isaiah 4:5, “For upon all the glory shall be a defense” (see 2 Nephi 14:5).
Modern translations of Isaiah point out that it should read “For over all the glory there will be a canopy,” not a defense. The Hebrew word does not mean defense but a protective curtain or canopy. Smith, of course, did not know this, nor did the King James translators from whose work he copied.
There are quite a number of other places where such errors appear, including Smith’s insistence in Abraham 1:20 that “Pharaoh signifies king by royal blood,” when in reality the dictionary defines the meaning of the term Pharaoh as “a great house or palace.”
The Revised Standard Version of the Bible renders Isaiah 5:25, “And their corpses were as refuse in the midst of the streets,” correctly rendering the Hebrew as “refuse,” not as “torn.” The King James Bible renders the passage “And their carcasses were torn in the midst of the streets.” The Book of Mormon (2 Nephi 15:25) repeats the King James’ text word-for-word, including the error of mistranslating , removing any claim that the Book of Mormon is to be taken seriously as reliable material.
Scientific Evidence Against the Book of Mormon
In an attempt to validate and justify the claims of the Book of Mormon, the highest authority in Mormonism, Joseph Smith Jr., the Mormon prophet, related an event which, if true, would add significant weight to some of the Mormon claims for their sacred book. Fortunately, it is a fact on which a good deal of evidence can be brought to bear. Smith put forth his claim in the book Pearl of Great Price (Joseph Smith—History, 1:62–64, 1982 edition), and it is worthwhile to examine it:
I commenced copying the characters off the plates. I copied a considerable number of them, and by means of the Urim and Thummim I translated some of them. Mr. Martin Harris came to our place, got the characters which I had drawn off the plates, and started with them to the city of New York. For what took place relative to him and the characters, I refer to his own account of the circumstances, as he related them to me after his return, which was as follows: “I went to the city of New York, and presented the characters that had been translated, with the translation thereof, to Professor Charles Anthon, a gentleman celebrated for his literary attainments. Professor Anthon stated that the translation was correct, more so than any he had before seen translated from the Egyptian. I then showed him those which were not yet translated, and he said that they were Egyptian, Chaldaic, Assyriac, and Arabic; and he said they were true characters.”
According to Joseph Smith, then, Martin Harris, his colleague, obtained from the learned Professor Charles Anthon of Columbia University a validation of Smith’s translation of the reformed Egyptian hieroglyphic characters found on the plates that Moroni made available to him. The difficulty with Smith’s statement is that Professor Anthon never said any such thing, and fortunately he went on record in a lengthy letter to Mr. E. D. Howe, a contemporary of Joseph Smith who did one of the most thorough jobs of research on the Mormon prophet and the origins of Mormonism extant. Upon learning of Smith’s claim concerning Professor Anthon, Mr. Howe wrote him at Columbia. Professor Anthon’s letter reproduced here from Howe’s own collection is a classic piece of evidence the Mormons would like very much to see forgotten.
New York, N.Y.
Feb. 17, 1834
Mr. E. D. Howe
I received this morning your favor of the 9th instant, and lose no time in making a reply. The whole story about my having pronounced the Mormonite inscription to be “reformed Egyptian hieroglyphics” is perfectly false. Some years ago, a plain and apparently simplehearted farmer called upon me with a note from Dr. Mitchell of our city, now deceased, requesting me to decipher, if possible, a paper, which the farmer would hand me, and which Dr. Mitchell confessed he had been unable to understand. Upon examining the paper in question, I soon came to the conclusion that it was all a trick, perhaps a hoax. When I asked the person who brought it how he obtained the writing he gave me, as far as I can now recollect, [he gave] the following account: A “gold book,” consisting of a number of plates of gold, fastened together in the shape of a book by wires of the same metal, had been dug up in the northern part of the state of New York, and along with the book an enormous pair of “gold spectacles”! These spectacles were so large that if a person attempted to look through them, his two eyes would have to be turned toward one of the glasses merely, the spectacles in question being altogether too large for the breadth of the human face. Whoever examined the plates through the spectacles, was enabled not only to read them, but fully to understand their meaning. All this knowledge, however, was confined at the time to a young man, who had the trunk containing the book and spectacles in his sole possession. This young man was placed behind a curtain, in the garret of a farm house, and, being thus concealed from view, put on the spectacles occasionally, or rather, looked through one of the glasses, deciphered the characters in the book, and, having committed some of them to paper, handed copies from behind the curtain to those who stood on the outside. Not a word, however, was said about the plates having been deciphered “by the gift of God.” Everything, in this way, was effected by the large pair of spectacles. The farmer added that he had been requested to contribute a sum of money toward the publication of the “golden book,” the contents of which would, as he had been assured, produce an entire change in the world and save it from ruin. So urgent had been these solicitations, that he intended selling his farm and handing over the amount received to those who wished to publish the plates. As a last precautionary step, however, he had resolved to come to New York and obtain the opinion of the learned about the meaning of the paper which he brought with him, and which had been given him as a part of the contents of the book, although no translation had been furnished at the time by the young man with the spectacles. On hearing this odd story, I changed my opinion about the paper, and, instead of viewing it any longer as a hoax upon the learned, I began to regard it as a part of a scheme to cheat the farmer of his money, and I communicated my suspicions to him, warning him to beware of rogues. He requested an opinion from me in writing, which of course I declined giving, and he then took his leave carrying the paper with him. This paper was in fact a singular scrawl. It consisted of all kinds of crooked characters disposed in columns, and had evidently been prepared by some person who had before him at the time a book containing various alphabets. Greek and Hebrew letters, crosses and nourishes, Roman letters inverted or placed sideways, were arranged in perpendicular columns, and the whole ended in a rude delineation of a circle, divided into various compartments, decked with various strange marks, and evidently copied after the Mexican Calendar given by Humboldt, but copied in such a way as not to betray the source whence it was derived. I am thus particular as to the contents of the paper, inasmuch as I have frequently conversed with my friends on the subject, since the Mormonite excitement began, and well remember that the paper contained anything else but “Egyptian Hieroglyphics.” Some time after, the same farmer paid me a second visit. He brought with him the golden book in print, and offered it to me for sale. I declined purchasing. He then asked permission to leave the book with me for examination. I declined receiving it, although his manner was strangely urgent. I adverted once more to the roguery which had been in my opinion practiced upon him, and asked him what had become of the gold plates. He informed me that they were in a trunk with the large pair of spectacles. I advised him to go to a magistrate and have the trunk examined. He said the “curse of God” would come upon him should he do this. On my pressing him, however, to pursue the course which I had recommended, he told me that he would open the trunk, if I would take the “curse of God” upon myself. I replied that I would do so with the greatest willingness, and would incur every risk of that nature, provided I could only extricate him from the grasp of the rogues. He then left me.
I have thus given you a full statement of all that I know respecting the origin of Mormonism, and must beg you, as a personal favor, to publish this letter immediately, should you find my name mentioned again by these wretched fanatics.
Charles Anthon, LL.D.
Professor Anthon’s letter is both revealing and devastating where Smith’s and Harris’ veracity are concerned. We might also raise the question as to how Professor Anthon could say that the characters shown to him by Martin Harris and authorized by Joseph Smith as part of the material copied from the revelation of the Book of Mormon were “Egyptian, Chaldaic, Assyriac, and Arabic” when the Book of Mormon itself declares that the characters were “reformed Egyptian,” the language of the Nephites. Since the language of the Book of Mormon was known to “none other people,” how would it be conceivably possible for Professor Anthon to have testified as to the accuracy of Smith’s translation? To this date, no one has ever been able to find even the slightest trace of the language known as “reformed Egyptian”; and all reputable linguists who have examined the evidence put forth by the Mormons have rejected them as mythical.
The Truth About the god of the Mormons
In sharp contrast to the revelations of Scripture are the “revelations” of Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and the succeeding Mormon “prophets.” So that the reader will have no difficulty understanding what the true Mormon position is concerning the nature of God, the following quotations derived from popular Mormon sources will convey what the Mormons mean when they speak of “God.”
1. “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 it” (Teachings of the Prophet
Joseph Smith, 349).
2. “God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man ”(Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 345).
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 ” (Doctrine and Covenants, 130:22).
4. “Gods exist, and we had better strive to be prepared to be one with them” (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, 7:238).
5. “As man is, God once was: as God is, man may become” (Prophet Lorenzo Snow, quoted in Milton R. Hunter, The Gospel Through the Ages, 105–106).
6. “Each of these Gods, including Jesus Christ and His Father, being in possession of not merely an organized spirit, but a glorious immortal body of flesh and bones ” (Parley P. Pratt, Key to the Science of Theology, ed. 1978, 23).
7. “And then the Lord said: Let us go down. And they went down at the beginning, and they, that is the Gods, organized and formed the heavens and the earth” (Abraham 4:1).
8. “Remember that God, our heavenly Father, was perhaps once a child, and mortal like we ourselves, 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” (Apostle Orson Hyde, Journal of Discourses, 1:123).
9. “Mormon prophets have continuously taught the sublime truth that God the Eternal Father was once a mortal man who passed through a school of earth life similar to that through which we are now passing. He became God—an exalted being—through obedience to the same eternal Gospel truths that we are given opportunity today to obey” (Hunter, op. cit., 104).
10. “Christ was the God, the Father of all things. Behold, I am Jesus Christ. I am the Father and the Son” (Mosiah 7:27 and Ether 3:14, Book of Mormon).
11. “When our father Adam came into the garden of Eden, he came into it with a celestial body, and brought Eve, one of his wives, with him. He helped to make and organized this world. He is MICHAEL, the Archangel, the ANCIENT OF DAYS! about whom holy men have written and spoken—HE is our FATHER and our GOD, and the only God with whom we have to do” (Brigham Young, in the Journal of Discourses, 1:50).
12. Historically this doctrine of Adam-God was hard for even faithful Mormons to believe. As a result, on June 8, 1873, Brigham Young stated: “How much unbelief exists in the minds of the Latter-day Saints in regard to one particular doctrine which I revealed to them, and which God revealed to me—namely that Adam is our father and God.
“ ‘Well,’ says one, ‘Why was Adam called Adam?’ He was the first man on the earth, and its framer and maker. He with the help of his brethren brought it into existence. Then he said, ‘I want my children who are in the spirit world to come and live here. I once dwelt upon an earth something like this, in a mortal state. I was faithful, I received my crown and exaltation’ ”(Deseret News, June 18, 1873, 308).
It would be quite possible to continue quoting sources from many volumes and
other official Mormon publications, but the fact is well established. The
Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which disagrees with
the Utah church on the subject of polytheism, steadfastly maintains that Joseph
Smith Jr. never taught or practiced either polygamy or polytheism, but the
following direct quotation from Smith, relative to the plurality of gods and
the doctrine that Mormon males may attain to godhood, vexes the Reorganized
Church no end. But, it is fact, nonetheless.
The following quotations are excerpted from a sermon published in the Mormon newspaper Times and Seasons (August 15, 1844, 5:613–614) four months after Smith delivered it at the funeral of Elder King Follett, and only two months after Smith’s assassination in Carthage, Illinois.
Tenth LDS President Joseph Fielding Smith notes that the King Follett sermon was given at the April conference of the Church in 1844 and was heard by around 20,000 people. The argument that Smith was misquoted is discounted by the fact that it was recorded by four scribes, Willard Richards, Wilford Woodruff, William Clayton, and Thomas Bullock. The Encyclopedia of Mormonism states that Smith’s two-hour-and-fifteen-minute message “may be one of the Prophet’s greatest sermons because of its doctrinal teachings.”
It is significant that the split in Mormonism did not take place for more than three and a half years. Apparently their ancestors did not disagree with Smith’s theology, as they themselves do today. Nor did they deny that Smith preached the sermon and taught polytheism, as does the Reorganized Church today. But the facts must speak for themselves. Here are the above mentioned quotes:
I want you all to know God,
to be familiar with him. What sort of a being was God in the beginning?
First, God himself, who sits enthroned in yonder heavens, is a man like unto one of yourselves if you were to see him today, you would see him in all the person, image and very form as a man.
I am going to tell you how God came to be God. We have imagined that God was God from all eternity. These are incomprehensible ideas to some, but they are the simple and first principles of the gospel, to know for a certainty the character of God, that we may converse with him as one man with another, and that God himself; the Father of us all dwelt on an earth the same as Jesus Christ himself did what did Jesus say? (mark it elder Rigdon) Jesus said, as the Father hath power in himself, even so hath the Son power; to do what? Why what the Father did, that answer is obvious. Here then is eternal life, to know the only wise and true God. You have got to learn how to be Gods yourselves; to be kings and priests to God, the same as all Gods have done before you—namely, by going from a small degree to another, from grace to grace, from exaltation to exaltation, until you are able to sit in glory as doth those who sit enthroned in everlasting power.
theology is polytheistic, teaching in effect that the universe is inhabited by
different gods who procreate spirit children, which are in turn clothed with
bodies on different planets, “Elohim” being the god of this planet (Brigham’s
teaching that Adam is our heavenly Father is now officially denied by Mormon
authorities, but they hold firm to the belief that their God is a resurrected,
glorified man). In addition to this, the “inspired” utterances of Joseph Smith
reveal that he began as a Unitarian, progressed to tritheism, and graduated
into full-fledged polytheism, in direct contradiction to the revelations of the
Old and New Testaments as we have observed. The Mormon doctrine of the trinity
is a gross misrepresentation of the biblical position, though they attempt to
veil their evil doctrine in semi-orthodox terminology. We have already dealt
with this problem, but it bears constant repetition lest the Mormon terminology
On the surface, they appear to be orthodox, but in the light of unimpeachable Mormon sources, Mormons are clearly evading the issue. The truth of the matter is that Mormonism has never historically accepted the Christian doctrine of the Trinity; in fact, they deny it by completely perverting the meaning of the term. The Mormon doctrine that God the Father is a mere man is the root of their polytheism, and forces Mormons to deny not only the Trinity of God as revealed in Scripture, but the immaterial nature of God as pure spirit. Mormons have gone on record and stated that they accept the doctrine of the Trinity, but, as we have seen, it is not the Christian Trinity. God the Father does not have a body of flesh and bones, a fact clearly taught by our Lord (John 4:24, cf. Luke 24:39). Mormon Apostle James Talmage describes the church’s teaching, as follows, in his book The Articles of Faith:
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints proclaims against the incomprehensible God, devoid of “body, parts, or passions,” as a thing impossible of existence, and asserts its belief in and allegiance to the true and living God of scripture and revelation. Jesus Christ is the Son of Elohim both as spiritual and bodily offspring; that is to say, Elohim is literally the Father of the spirit of Jesus Christ and also of the body in which Jesus Christ performed His mission in the flesh. Jehovah, who is Jesus Christ the Son of Elohim, is called “the Father” that Jesus Christ, whom we also know as Jehovah, was the executive of the Father, in the work of creation as set forth in the book Jesus the Christ, Chapter IV (48, 466–467).
In these revealing statements, Talmage lapses into the error of making Elohim
and Jehovah two separate gods, apparently in complete ignorance of the fact
that Elohim “the greater god” and Jehovah—Jesus the lesser god, begotten by
Elohim—are compounded in the Hebrew as “Jehovah the Mighty One,” or simply
“Jehovah God” as any concordance of Hebrew usage in the Old Testament readily
reveals (LORD—; God—). This error is akin to that of Mary Baker Eddy who, in
her glossary to Science and Health With Key to the Scriptures made exactly the
same error, she too being in complete ignorance of the Hebrew language. In this
grammatical error, Christian Science and the Mormons are in unique agreement.
Talmage’s argument that “to deny the materiality of God’s person is to deny God; for a thing without parts has no whole and an immaterial body cannot exist” is both logically and theologically an absurdity. To illustrate this, one needs only to point to the angels whom the Scriptures describe as “ministering spirits” (Hebrews 1:7), beings who have immaterial “bodies” of spiritual substances and yet exist. The Mormons involve themselves further in a hopeless contradiction when, in their doctrine of the preexistence of the soul, they are forced to redefine the meaning of soul as used in both the Old and the New Testaments to teach that the soul is not immaterial, while the Bible clearly teaches that it is. Our Lord, upon the cross, spoke the words, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit” (Luke 23:46). Certainly this was immaterial. And Paul, preparing to depart from this world for the celestial realms, indicated that his real spiritual self (certainly immaterial, since his body died) was yearning to depart and to be with Christ, which is far better (Philippians 1:21–23). The martyr Stephen also committed his spirit (or immaterial nature) into the hands of the Father, crying, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit” (Acts 7:59). And there are numerous passages in both the Old and New Testaments that indicate an “immaterial nature” can exist, provided that form is of a spiritual substance as is God the Father and the Holy Spirit, and as was Jesus Christ as the preincarnate Logos (John 1:1, cf. John 1:14). Far from asserting their “belief and allegiance to the true and living God of Scripture and revelation,” as Talmage represents Mormonism, Mormons indeed have sworn allegiance to a polytheistic pantheon of gods, which they are striving to join, there to enjoy a polygamous eternity of progression toward godhood. One can search the corridors of pagan mythology and never equal the complex structure that the Mormons have erected and masked under the terminology and misnomer of orthodox Christianity. That the Mormons reject the historic Christian doctrine of the Trinity no student of the movement can deny, for after quoting the Nicene Creed and early church theology on the trinity, Talmage, in The Articles of Faith, declares:
“It would be difficult to conceive of a greater number of inconsistencies and contradictions expressed in words as here. The immateriality of God as asserted in these declarations of sectarian faith is entirely at variance with the scriptures, and absolutely contradicted by the revelations of God’s person and attributes ”(p. 48).
After carefully perusing hundreds of volumes on Mormon theology and scores of
pamphlets dealing with this subject, the author can quite candidly state that
never has he seen such misappropriation of terminology, disregard of context,
and utter abandon of scholastic principles demonstrated on the part of
non-Christian cultists than is evidenced in the attempts of Mormon theologians
to appear orthodox and at the same time undermine the foundations of historic
Christianity. The intricacies of their complex system of polytheism causes the
careful researcher to ponder again and again the ethical standard that these
Mormon writers practice and the blatant attempts to rewrite history, biblical
theology, and the laws of scriptural interpretation that they might support the
theologies of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young. Without fear of contradiction, I
am certain that Mormonism cannot stand investigation and wants no part of it
unless the results can be controlled under the guise of “broad-mindedness” and
On one occasion, when the Mormon doctrine of God was under discussion with a young woman leaning in the direction of Mormon conversion, I offered in the presence of witnesses to retract this chapter and one previous effort (Mormonism, Zondervan Publishing House, 1958) if the Mormon elders advising this young lady would put in writing that they and their church rejected polytheism for monotheism in the tradition of the Judeo-Christian religion. It was a bona fide offer; the same offer has been made from hundreds of platforms to tens of thousands of people over a twenty-year period. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is well aware of the offer. To the unwary, however, they imply that they are monotheists, to the informed they defend their polytheism, and like the veritable chameleon they change color to accommodate the surface upon which they find themselves.
G. B. Arbaugh, in his classic volume Revelation in Mormonism (1932), has documented in exhaustive detail the progress of Mormon theology from Unitarianism to polytheism. His research has been invaluable and available to interested scholars for over sixty years, with the full knowledge of the Mormon Church. In fact, the Mormons are significantly on the defensive where the peculiar origins of the “sacred writings” are involved or when verifiable evidence exists that reveals their polytheistic perversions of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is extremely difficult to write kindly of Mormon theology when they are so obviously deceptive in their presentation of data, so adamant in their condemnation of all religions in favor of the “restored gospel” allegedly vouchsafed to the prophet Joseph Smith. We must not, however, confuse the theology with the person as is too often the case, for while hostility toward the former is scriptural, it is never so with the latter.
Continuing with our study, Apostle Orson Pratt, writing in The Seer, declared:
“In the Heaven where our spirits were born, there are many Gods, each one of whom has his own wife or wives, which were given to him previous to his redemption, while yet in his mortal state” (p. 37).
In this terse sentence,
Pratt summed up the whole hierarchy of Mormon polytheism, and quotations
previously adduced from a reputable Mormon source support Pratt’s summation
beyond reasonable doubt. The Mormon teaching that God was seen “face to face”
in the Old Testament (Exodus 33:9, 11, 23; Exodus 24:9–11; Isaiah 6:1, 5;
Genesis 5:24, etc.) is refuted on two counts, that of language and the science
of comparative textual analysis (hermeneutics).
From the standpoint of linguistics, all the references cited by the Mormons to prove “that God has a physical body that could be observed” melt away in the light of God’s expressed declaration, “Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live” (Exodus 33:20).
Exodus 33:11 (face to face) in the Hebrew is rendered “intimate,” and in no sense is it opposed to verse 20. Similar expressions are utilized in Deuteronomy 5:4, while in Genesis 32:30 it is the Angel of the Lord who speaks, not Jehovah himself. The Old Testament is filled with theophanies (literally, God-appearances), instances where God spoke or revealed himself in angelic manifestations, and it is accepted by all Old Testament scholars almost without qualification that anthropomorphisms (ascribing human characteristics to God) are the logical explanation of many of the encounters of God with man. To argue, as the Mormons do, that such occurrences indicate that God has a body of flesh and bone, as “prophet” Smith taught, is on the face of the matter untenable and another strenuous attempt to force polytheism on a rigidly monotheistic religion. Progressing beyond this, another cardinal Mormon point of argument is the fact that because expressions such as “the arm of the Lord,” “the eye of the Lord,” “the hand of the Lord,” “nostrils,” “mouth,” etc., are used, all tend to show that God possesses a physical form. However, they have overlooked one important factor. This factor is that of literary metaphor, extremely common in Old Testament usage. If the Mormons are to be consistent in their interpretation, they should find great difficulty in the Psalm where God is spoken of as “covering with his feathers,” and man “trusting under his wings.” If God has eyes, ears, arms, hands, nostrils, mouth, etc., why then does He not have feathers and wings? The Mormons have never given a satisfactory answer to this, because it is obvious that the anthropomorphic and metaphorical usage of terms relative to God are literary devices to convey His concern for and association with man. In like manner, metaphors such as feathers and wings indicate His tender concern for the protection of those who “dwell in the secret place of the Most High and abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” The Mormons would do well to comb the Old Testament and the New Testament for the numerous metaphorical usages readily available for observation. In doing so, they would have to admit, if they are at all logically consistent, that Jesus was not a door (John 10:9), a shepherd (John 10:11), a vine (John 15:1), a roadway (John 14:6), a loaf of bread (John 6:51), and other metaphorical expressions any more than “our God is a consuming fire” means that Jehovah should be construed as a blast furnace or a volcanic cone.
The Mormons themselves are apparently unsure of the intricacies of their own polytheistic structure, as revealed in the previously cited references from Joseph Smith, who made Christ both the Father and the Son in one instance, and further on indicated that there was a mystery connected with it and that only the Son could reveal how He was both the Father and the Son. Later, to compound the difficulty, Smith separated them completely into “separate personages,” eventually populating the entire universe with his polytheistic and polygamous deities. If one peruses carefully the books of Abraham and Moses as contained in the Pearl of Great Price (allegedly “translated” by Smith), as well as sections of Ether in the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Discourses of Brigham Young, the entire Mormon dogma of the preexistence of the soul, the polygamous nature of the gods, the brotherhood of Jesus and Lucifer, and the hierarchy of heaven (telestial, terrestrial, and celestial—corresponding to the basement, fiftieth floor, and observation tower of the Empire State Building, respectively), and the doctrines of universal salvation, millennium, resurrection, judgment, and final punishment, will unfold in a panorama climaxing in a polygamous paradise of eternal duration. Such is the Mormon doctrine of God, or, more properly, of the gods, which rivals anything pagan mythology ever produced.