Tag Archives: book of mormon

9 Ways Anti-Mormons Want You to Mistrust the LDS Church (1-3)

3 Jul

A while ago I came across this video that purports to reveal to the public Nine things about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints that the church doesn’t want people to know. I have seen many such lists, and this, like all the others, is largely inaccurate or fails to support what they claim to be doing.

At the time I had considered doing a response to the video, but things got away from me and it never happened. But this video has recently been put up in another blog post and thus was brought back to my attention. So, I have decided to make a few comments on it.

 

To be clear, I am addressing the claim that the church doesn’t want you to know what the video portrays. I will not be addressing the accuracy of any point except briefly, unless doing so is necessary to the main claim of the video. Also, since I don’t like my posts to be too long, I will be separating this into three posts, each addressing three points from the video.

 

Joseph Smith was a Mason.

Far from not wanting people to know that Joseph Smith was a mason, this little fact was included in the Institute manual for college students. The title of the manual is Church History in the Fullness of Times. In chapter 21 of this manual is the following quote:

As early as October 1841 some Masons who were members of the Church obtained permission to initiate a Masonic lodge in Nauvoo. Joseph Smith could see advantages in belonging to this fraternal order. Presumably it was felt that other Masons in the state and nation, many of whom held prominent positions, would look more kindly upon the Church. Joseph Smith and many others in Nauvoo were formally introduced into the order in March 1842.

It is also true that in 1938 the church published a book called Scriptural Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith which is a collection of quotes from Joseph Smith. On page 255 there is a brief mention of him and other church members attending the formation of the Montrose, Iowa lodge.

As to the similarities, in 1991 the Encyclopedia of Mormonism was published. It was a joint venture initiated by MacMillan Publishing in New York, but was approved of by the First Presidency of the Church. The Encyclopedia contains an article titled Freemasonry and the Temple. It makes a thorough comparison between the two from a scholarly perspective.

 

The Book of Mormon is completely unreliable.

I think the author of the video does not quite understand the meaning of the word reliable. It means to consistently give the same result over several trials or tests. So it doesn’t matter if the result is wrong, as long as you get the same result over and over it is reliable.

So, is the Book of Mormon unreliable? To determine this you have to show that over a period of time it has given varying results rather than consistent results. The test of reliability would be different for different aspects of the books.

Now the author of the video claims it is unreliable for two reasons. First, the translation cannot be verified; second it is inconsistent with historical knowledge. But neither of these actually tests reliability, but rather accuracy. The real truth is that the Book of Mormon reliably conveys the same story and message no matter how many times you read it, and whether that story is accurate or not has no effect on its reliability.

Of course, the church actually offers a test of reliability regarding the Book of Mormon, which is found in Moroni 10: 4-5. This is a spiritual test that, if followed, will reliably render the same result each time.

 

Racism against Blacks.

Actually, the church has always been fairly open about its policies regarding the African race. And please note that it was African and not black that the policy affected. Other black races, notably the aborigine of Australia, were unaffected by it. About 3 months after this video was put up on YouTube the church published an essay that gives all the details about the churches policy and the various theories surrounding it. Note that they were theories and not doctrine, and the church does not, nor has it ever actually subscribed to any of them. We simply don’t know the details regarding it.

Now, there are many quotes from earlier church leaders that many members are not familiar with. But there is no evidence that the church is trying to hide them. Far from it, they have continued to make them available to those who seek them. The Journal of Discourses, the Discourses of Brigham Young, the Scriptural Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, among other collections, have been published by the church for some time. More recently they have started the project called “The Joseph Smith Papers” as well as other initiatives to uncover as much as they can about the early church and its leaders.  While they have not paraded these things through the news, they have made no effort to conceal them either.

Advertisements

Little Known Propaganda: 6 – Plural Marriage in Heaven

9 Mar

This is my continuing responses to the list of “little known facts” referenced at the blog Sound Doctrine. On this blog the author presents the list along with responses to each from a F.A.I.R. Mormon scholar, known only as CleanCut. In addition the author of this blog, known as Damon, gives a response to CleanCut. As I said in my introduction blog, I am writing a response to each fact in a lengthy series. I will not, however, comment on what CleanCut or Damon said.

See also Fact #1, #2, #3, #4, #5

 

FACT #6. Mormons consider Polygamy a righteous principle which will be practiced in heaven.

Although there is nothing in the Bible that will support this thinking, current Mormon Scripture has this to say: “. . .if any man espouse a virgin, and desire to espouse another, and the first give her consent, and if he espouse the second, and they are virgins, and have vowed to no other man, then is he justified; he cannot commit adultery . . . . And if he have TEN VIRGINS given unto him by this law, he cannot commit adultery.” (Doctrine and Covenants 132:61, 62)

 

Well, before we continue, let us clarify the language. We refer to this doctrine as Plural Marriage, not polygamy. As it was never a practice for a woman to have multiple husbands, the appropriate term would be polygany. However, as the practice was, and should be, highly regulated, the doctrine of Plural Marriage is more restrictive than either of these terms suggest.

 

There are also other clarifications that need to be made regarding this doctrine. First is that it is not, nor was it ever a requirement for a man to have plural wives in order to attain exaltation. It is not a mandatory practice, but an acceptable practice. True, if God gives a man a direct command to take plural wives than that man in obligated to obey. But it is not a common commandment given to the general membership.

The author quotes from D&C 132, which is the most direct and complete explanation of this doctrine currently had. Little has been said regarding the doctrine since it was withdrawn from the saints in 1890. The leadership has simply focused on those things that actually matter in terms of our salvation. As it is not currently practiced there is no need for anyone to currently understand all the nuances and details of the doctrine.

However, there are a few things that should be noted in what we do know. First, as is quoted in D&C 132, for a man to take additional wives he must have the permission of his first wife. Truly, he must have the permission of all his current wives before he marries another.

It is also true that Plural Marriage is not the standing law. It is a law that God reserves for specific times and occasions. Thus, He can issue the command and retract the command as He chooses. This is made clear in the Book of Mormon where Jacob teaches if God “will…raise up seed unto [himself, He] will command” but we are to remain monogamous unless the command is given (Jacob 2: 30).

 

Now, let us look at what the Bible says. Of course, since no one else believes that marriage in any form will exist in heaven it is no surprise that they would not believe plural marriages exist. However, the claim that nothing in the Bible supports this is false. The real truth is that it all depends on how you interpret the Bible. If you interpret it the way most Christian do than you would never see this doctrine in the Bible. However, we do not interpret it as most Christians do, so we can see it all through the Bible. Granted many members seem to feel the need to deny the doctrine and will thus not see it in the Bible, but let me show you what I see.

First, I see a number of the greatest prophets to have ever lived living this practice. Abraham married Hagar when he was still married to Sarah (Genesis 16: 1-3), and then later married Keturah (25: 1) after the other two had died. Jacob had four wives (Genesis 29: 28; 30: 4, 9). Moses had two. How is it that such great men took many wives without God ever once chastising them for it?

Second, I see God revealing laws regarding the practice. For instance, if a man took a second wife he was still obligated to fulfill his duties to his first wife (Exodus 21: 10). Also, the rights of inheritance had to honored in the case of plural wives and their children (Deuteronomy 21: 15-17). Now, why would God give these laws if the practice was so horrible?

Of course, these show nothing regarding heaven, which is why I turn to my third observation; that God makes things for eternity. We read that “whatsoever God doeth, it shall be forever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it” (Ecclesiastes 3: 14) and that what God hath joined let no man put asunder (Matthew 19: 6; Mark 10: 9). We also read that what is bound on earth by proper authority is also bound in heaven (Matthew 16: 19; 18: 18). Paul tells us that “neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 11: 11) Finally, Peter tells us that the husband and wife are “heirs together of the grace of life” (1 Peter 3: 7).

 

While I could site even more this is sufficient to show a clear Biblical doctrine. All of this testifies quite clearly that marriage is eternal; that as long as it is done through the proper authority it will stand forever. Since Plural marriage is an acceptable form of marriage, it too will stand when bound by the proper authority of God.

Little Known Propaganda: 4 – Christ and Satan Brothers

20 Jan

This is my continuing responses to the list of “little known facts” referenced at the blog Sound Doctrine. On this blog the author presents the list along with responses to each from a F.A.I.R. Mormon scholar, known only as CleanCut. In addition the author of this blog, known as Damon, gives a response to CleanCut. As I said in my introduction blog, I am writing a response to each fact in a lengthy series. I will not, however, comment on what CleanCut or Damon said.

See also Fact #1, #2, #3

 

FACT #4. A basic tenant in Mormonism today is that Jesus Christ is the brother of Satan.

Milton R. Hunter explains it like this: “The appointment of Jesus to be the Savior of the world was contested by one of the other sons of God. He was called Lucifer,… this spirit-brother of Jesus desperately tried to become the Savior of mankind.” (The Gospel Through The Ages, p.15)

Nowhere in the Bible does it indicate that Lucifer attempted to become the Savior: in fact, Jesus created all the angels including Lucifer, so they can’t be brothers. Colossians 1:16 indicates that Jesus created “all things,” whether “in heaven,” or “in earth, visible or invisible.”

 

First of all, the book the author cites, “The Gospel Through the Ages,” is not an official source as far as I can tell. So, once again we have the author claiming to use official sources, and then turning to unofficial sources to try and prove his point.

 

Second, the basics of any religion are those things that all else are dependent on, but which are not dependent on other doctrine themselves. For instance, Jesus is the Son of God and the Savior of mankind. This is a basic tenant as it stands on its own as well as upholds other doctrine (actually, all other doctrine).

 

The basic tenants of the LDS church are summed up brilliantly in the 13 Articles of Faith. These articles list the main points of doctrine, on which all other doctrine rests; and while these doctrine are woven together none of them require any of the others for their support. If you read the link I provided you will see that the idea that Jesus and Satan are brothers is not to be found.

 

However, even though these articles are fairly exhaustive, they do not quite list everything that I would consider a basic tenant. They are those doctrines that non-members are frequently first exposed to, and are the issues that were of the greatest importance at the time that Joseph Smith wrote them. There are a few other doctrines that are basic as well.

 

There is the doctrine of the pre-earth life, which teaches, in simple terms, that we all lived as spirit children of God before coming to this earth. This is the basic tenant, from which flows the purpose of this existence; the reason and necessity of the fall, as well as the atonement; as well as many aspects of the next life; and other doctrines that I will not list here.

For our discussion the more important aspect of this doctrine (one might say the deeper meaning of it) is that it is all inclusive; meaning all those who have ever or will ever be born on this earth, as well as those spirits that were cast out of heaven for rebellion, who shall never be born.

 

So, we have a basic doctrine in the per-existence, which leads to the deeper doctrine that we are all spirits and are part of that eternal family and the progeny of divine parents. Coming out of this we have the additional doctrine that Jesus Christ was the eldest of all the spirit children of God.

(On a side note: Despite what many critics try to claim, there has never been any revelation regarding to order in which any other person was born as a spirit. We know that Christ was the eldest, but that is as far as our knowledge, and thus our doctrine, goes on that point.)

Now, if all those spirits that were cast out were also spirit children of God, than it logically follows that Satan, who was their leader, was also a spirit child of God. And, as Christ is the eldest spirit child, than the two have the same divine parents, and thus we conclude that, yes, they are brothers.

Of course this conclusion can also be derived from the Bible. I don’t think anyone will argue that Christ is identified as God’s son. However, in Isaiah 14: 12 Satan, then called Lucifer, is identified as “A son of the Morning.” This phrase is repeated again in modern scripture (2 Nephi 24: 12; D&C 76: 26, 27), and means that he was among the older spirits.

However, none of this is the basic doctrine, but is simply incidentally to the basics, and is not really all that important. Understanding this is not essential to our eternal salvation. The basic doctrine is, but this reasoned conclusion is not.

 

On a final note, the author refers to Colossians 1: 16 as proof that Satan was created. However, that verse never mentions Satan. True, it mentions ‘all things’ in heaven and earth, but let us look at this logically.

First, is not God in Heaven? As we all agree that God did not create himself, we have logical proof of at least one thing in heaven that he did not create. So, Paul could not have meant to include all things that exist in his statement to the Colossians. His meaning is more in line with what Lehi said to his sons in 2 Nephi 2: 15 “he had created…all things which are created.” By this we know that there were some things that were not created, but simply are, like God, eternal. God has told us that “Man was also in the beginning with God. Intelligence, or the light of truth, was not created or made, neither indeed can be.” (D&C 93: 29).

So, as Satan is a spirit, possessing intelligence, he is also among those things that “was not created, neither indeed can be.” As such Paul’s statement, which applies only to things that were created, does not apply to Satan.

 

(I have also written commentaries on the Articles of Faith. You can read them here: One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight, Nine, Ten, Eleven, Twelve, Thirteen)

Little Known Propaganda: 2 – No Salvation Without Joseph Smith

13 Jan

This is my second response to the list of “little known facts” referenced at the blog Sound Doctrine. On this blog the author presents the list along with responses to each from a F.A.I.R. Mormon scholar, known only as CleanCut. In addition the author of this blog, known as Damon, gives a response to CleanCut. As I said in my introduction blog, I am writing a response to each fact in a lengthy series. I will not, however, comment on what CleanCut or Damon said.

See also Fact #1

FACT #2. Mormonism teaches there is no salvation outside the Mormon Church and no salvation without accepting Joseph Smith.

Apostle Bruce R. McConkie makes this statement:  “If it had not been for Joseph Smith and the restoration, there would be no salvation. There is no salvation outside The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” (Mormon Doctrine, p. 670)

The Bible, on the other hand, teaches salvation is in Jesus alone:  “Neither is there salvation in any other [Jesus]: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)

 

First, Mormon Doctrine is not an official source, as the compiler of the list claims. It is the independent work of Elder McConkie. You can read the report by David O. McKay that lists several things that the church did not sanction which the book contains.

However, that is incidental to the point being made. The obvious claim here is that the LDS place a greater emphasis on Joseph Smith than on Christ. While it is true that we believe one must accept Joseph Smith as a prophet to be saved, we also believe that one must accept Moses as a prophet, and Abraham, and Peter, and Paul, and all the other prophets. We can’t reject any prophet sent by God and expect to be saved.

Now if we read the entire quote from Mormon Doctrine we see a list of things that are needed for salvation. The very first one on the list is the Atonement of Christ. Others include the gospel, priesthood, miracles, angels, and other things mentioned frequently in the scriptures.

Salvation is made possible through Christ, and there is no one else who could have satisfied the law and brought about a forgiveness of sin. But a man cannot be saved in ignorance (D&C 131: 6) or without faith (D&C 63: 11; Heb. 11: 6). When there is faith there are miracles and angels (Moroni 7: 37), and where there is knowledge there is the priesthood (D&C 84: 19; 128: 11). So, all of these things must be present for salvation to be possible, but all of it hinges on the atonement.

Earlier in his book Elder McConkie makes an entry on the atonement, where he says “it is the most important single thing that has ever happened” and that “it is the foundation upon which all truth rests.” (pg 60).

Furthermore, in the Book of Mormon (much more official than Mormon Doctrine) it states “…that there shall be no other name given nor any other way nor means whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent.” (Mosiah 3: 17) This is stated three other times in the Book of Mormon, though in different words: 2 Nephi 25: 25; 31: 21; Mosiah 5: 8. Every single one of these verses is cross-referenced with Acts 4: 12, which is the verse the compiler uses to try and prove our doctrine wrong.

What Was Witnessed

28 Nov

This is a video that I put together just for the fun of it. It is compiled from a number of videos at LDS.org, and is intended to be a kind of music video for the Hymn “What Was Witnessed In The Heavens,” the eleventh hymn in the LDS hymn book. I Hope you enjoy it.

 

 

 

False Prophecies: Isaiah 11

16 Nov

This is a series of prophecies given by Joseph Smith. Each is listed on various websites as false prophecies. My purpose is to show how those claims are wrong, and that each of these prophecies is, in fact, true and from God.

  See also False Prophecies, Temple, Tremble, Civil War

 

Joseph Smith, history 1: 40

This will be a short post. Just like the prophecy of the Earth Trembling this supposedly false prophecy is dependent on an unspecified timeline. It is not commonly cited, but is included on the CARM site.

The passage quoted states the following:

In addition to these, he quoted the eleventh chapter of Isaiah, saying that it was about to be fulfilled. He quoted also the third chapter of Acts, twenty-second and twenty third verses, precisely as they stand in our New Testament. He said that that prophet was Christ; but the day had not yet come when “they who would not hear his voice should be cut off from among the people,” but soon would come.

This references the entire eleventh chapter of Isaiah, but at CARM they only quote verses 6-9.

The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.

And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.

And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’ den.

They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.

Now, Moroni also references Acts 3: 22-23, but at CARM they only focus on this Isaiah passage. So, I will not quote Acts here.

At CARM they correctly point out that the animals are not behaving as Isaiah describes. However, they once again try to force their timeline onto the words of the prophets. About is a vague term, and when we are dealing with eternity it can refer to a very long period of time.

In fact, Peter tells us to “not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” This is confirmed in other places.

Alma 40: 8 tells us that

“all is as one day with God, and time only is measured unto men.”

Abraham 3: 4 says that

“a day unto the Lord, after his manner of reckoning, [is] one thousand years according to the time appointed unto” this earth.

In facsimile 2, found in the Book of Abraham, we again read in the first note that

“One day [to God] is equal to a thousand years according to the measurement of this earth.”

All this tells us that we cannot rely on our calendars and perceptions of time to determine the fulfillment of prophecy. While we perceive a long time passing it is but a moment to God. So, when God sends a message that something is about to happen, we need see it from God’s perspective, not ours.

Because of this difference in perspective one cannot claim a prophecy false because it uses a vague timeline.

Family Talks – Shem

17 Oct

On the 20th of September my family was asked to speak for Sacrament meeting, as well as perform a special musical number. They didn’t just ask me and my wife, but our three oldest children. This was a little unusual as our oldest is only nine, and the youngest of the three had just barely turned seven. However, my family all did a fantastic job. I am very proud of all my children, and so I am going to post the talks that we all gave, as well as the song we sang. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

The second to speak was my eight year old son, Shem. He was just baptized this last summer, and he gave the following talk on the Aaronic Priesthood.

While translating the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdry had questions about baptism. So they went into the woods and prayed to God for understanding. In answer to their prayer John the Baptist appeared to them and gave them the Aaronic Priesthood.

The Aaronic priesthood is responsible for the outward ordinances, and the temporal care of the church. It is through this priesthood that people are baptized into the church, and that the sacrament is blessed and passed each week. It is also the duty of this priesthood to ensure that the church building is kept clean, and that the members of the church are taken care of.

The Bishop is the president of this priesthood. In this calling he is responsible for the care of each member of the ward. But he is to be assisted by all those who hold the Aaronic Priesthood.

When I turn 12, if I am worthy, I will be ordained a deacon in the Aaronic priesthood. As a deacon it will by my job to help keep the building clean, but I will also be able to pass the sacrament.

When I am 14 I will be ordained a teacher and will assist the Bishop in caring for the members of our ward.

When I am 16 I will be ordained a priest. Then I will be able to bless the sacrament and baptize others.

I look forward to the time when I will be able to hold this priesthood and be counted worthy to assist the Bishop in doing God’s work.

In the Name of Jesus Christ, Amen.