Validity of the Book of Mormon?

 

            But the Question is, “Is Mormonism ‘the true’ religion?” The first thing we need to do is look at The Book of Mormon.

 

(1)The Book of Mormon has had somewhere around 3900-4000 changes made to it since it’s publication in 1830. Although most of these changes have been minor (such as spelling corrections and grammatical errors) there also have been alterations that alter the meaning of the text. For example:

 

Verse

1830 Version

Today’s Version

1 Nephi 11:21

“And the angel said unto me, Behold the Lamb of God, yea, even the eternal Father”

(Emphasis added).

“And the angel said unto me: Behold the Lamb of God, yea even the son of the eternal Father”  

(Emphasis added).

1 Nephi 11:32

“And it came to pass that the angel spake unto me again, saying: Look! And I looked and beheld the Lamb of God, that he was taken by the people;  yea, the everlasting God was judged of the world; and I saw and bear record” (emphasis added).

“And it came to pass that the angel spake unto me again, saying: Look! And I looked and beheld the Lamb of God, that he was taken by the people;  yea, the Son of the everlasting God was judged of the world; and I saw and bear record” (emphasis added).

1 Nephi 13:40

“These last records... shall make known to all kindreds, tongues, and people, that the Lamb of God is the Eternal Father and Savior of the world…”(emphasis added).

“These last records... shall make known to all kindreds, tongues, and people, that the Lamb of God is the Son of the Eternal Father and Savior of the world…”(emphasis added).

Mosiah 21:28

King Benjamin had a gift from God, where-by he could interpret such engravings” (emphasis added).

King Mosiah had a gift from God, where-by he could interpret such engravings”(emphasis added).

(There are more alterations that also change the meaning of the text, however for times sake I have left them out.)

Now according to  David Whitmer, one of the three witnesses to the Book of Mormon, The Book of Mormon was translated as follows:

            I will now give you a description of the manner in which the Book of Mormon was translated. Joseph Smith would put the seer stone into a hat, and put his face in the hat, drawing it closely around his face to exclude the light; and in the darkness the spiritual light would shine. A piece of something resembling parchment would appear, and on that appeared the writing. One character at a time would appear, and under it was the interpretation in English. Brother Joseph would read off the English to Oliver Cowdery, who was his principle scribe, and when it was written down and reappeared to Brother Joseph to see if it was correct, then it would disappear, and another character with the interpretation would appear. Thus the Book of Mormon was translated by the gift and power of God, and nor by any power of man." (Address to All Believers in Christ, David Whitmer, 1887, page 12, reprinted 1960, Pacific Publishing Co., Martinez, CA.)

Martin Harris (Edward Stevenson's 1881 account):

By aid of the seer stone, sentences would appear and were read by the Prophet and written by Martin, and when finished he would say, "Written," and if correctly written, that sentence would disappear and another appear in its place, but if not written correctly it remained until corrected, so that the translation was just as it was engraven on the plates, precisely in the language then used.

David Whitmer (Eri Mullin interview, 1874):

. . . the words would appear, and if he failed to spell the word right, it would stay till it was spelled right, then pass away; another come, and so on.

We can see by this that every word should have been spelled correctly. According to these witnesses each character was translated with the help of God through Joseph Smith. Each character is also said to be double checked. Now you could point out that there were different spellings back then, however this does not explain the grammatical errors or the addition or deletion of words. This should be impossible.

I will address the changes made to the Bible in the next chapter, but keep in mind, The bible was written (by men with out the help of an angel) over 2000 years ago, because of the perfection that the Book of Mormon claims it must be held to a higher standard.

(2)The Book of Mormon contains many plagiarisms that cannot be explained if it was written between 600 B.C.  And A.D. 421

The Book of Mormon contains some 27,000 words directly from the King James Version, For example there are whole chapters that have been lifted from Isaiah. However the most interesting point is that the Book of Mormon copies not only the Old Testament, and some of the New Testament I believe, but it also copies errors in the King James Version (KJV) and italicized words that were inserted by the KJV translators. How is the possible?

Some examples of error which the Book of Mormon copies:

In 2 Nephi 14:5 (which is the same as Isaiah 4:5) the correct translation of the Hebrew "Chuppah" is "canopy" not "defense." Another example is in 2 Nephi 15:25 (which is the same as Isaiah 5:25). The correct translation of the Hebrew "cuwchah" is "filth," not "torn." 

But my favorite has to be 1 Nephi 10:9  (John 1:28.)

If look in different translations and you will see that the KJV says "Bethabara", while virtually everything else says " Bethany." The "church father" Origen (c. 230 AD) changed the text from Bethany to Bethabara, honestly thinking that he was correcting an existing mistake, not making one. The original text of John absolutely, positively, read Bethany, and that is absolutely the name of the place where John was baptizing at that time. But the KJV translators didn't know about the textual question, and so the KJV reads Bethabara, as I indicated above. This means nothing in the big scheme of things, but in the case of the Book of Mormon it does, because if the Book of Mormon was of divine origin then the prophecy in 1 Nephi 10:9 about where the Christ would be baptized would have mentioned the proper place, even though in Smith's day it would have seemed wrong since the KJV said something else. But instead Smith copied the "prophecy" out of the KJV and so copied down the wrong place.

 

(3)The Mormon “scriptures” contradict the Bible, each other, and occasionally themselves.

 

The Bible

The Book of Mormon

 

During Jesus' ministry He spoke of His church as something in the future.

Matthew 16:18 "And I say also unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."

After Christ's resurrection and the day of Pentecost we read "And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved." (Acts 2:47)

 

 

However, the Book of Mormon claims the Christian church was established as early as 147 B.C.

Mosiah 18:17 "And they were called the church of God, or the church of Christ, from that time forward."
 

 

 

The Bible says believers were first called Christians after Paul's ministry in Antioch.

Acts 11:26 "And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch."

 

 

However, the Book of Mormon claims people were known by this title as early as 73 B.C.

Alma 46:15 "...yea, all those who were true believes in Christ took upon them, gladly, the name of Christ, or Christians as they were called, because of their belief in Christ who should come."

 

 

In the Old Testament the only ones who could be priests were the descendants of Levi, one of the twelve sons of Israel.

Numbers 3:9-10 "And thou shalt give the Levites unto Aaron and to his sons: they are wholly given unto him out of the children of Israel. And thou shalt appoint Aaron and his sons, and they shall wait on their priest's office: and the stranger that cometh nigh shall be put to death" (See also Numbers 8:6-26).

 

 

However, the Book of Mormon story claims that descendants of the tribe of Manasseh (Alma 10:3) were made priests.

2 Nephi 5:26 "And it came to pass that I, Nephi, did consecrate Jacob and Joseph, that they should be priests and teachers over the land of my people."
 

 

 

The Old Testament teaches that the first born of the flocks were to be given automatically to the Lord. Sacrifices were to be made from their remaining animals.

Exodus 13:12 "That thou shalt set apart unto the Lord all that openeth the matrix, and every firstling that cometh of a beast which thou hast; the males shall be the Lord's" (See also Ex. 13:2; 22:29-30; Numbers 3:13; 18:15-18; 2 Sam. 24:24).

Deuteronomy 12:6 "And thither ye shall bring your burnt offerings, and your sacrifices, and your tithes, and heave offerings of your hand, and your vows, and your freewill offerings, and the firstlings of your herds and of your flocks."

 

 

The Book of Mormon claims that the Nephites were keeping the law of Moses. However, the Nephites broke the law of Moses by using the first of the flocks for burnt offerings. These should have already been given to the Lord as tithing.

Mosiah 2:3 "And they also took of the firstlings of their flocks, that they might offer sacrifice and burnt offerings according to the law of Moses."

 

At the tower of Babel there was one language, which was then confused by God.  Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. As men moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there…  …But the LORD came down to see the city and the tower that the men were building. The LORD said, "If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other." So the LORD scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city.

 

At the tower of Babel the Jaredites had a separate language which was spared the confusion of languages .Ether 1:34-35 And the brother of Jared being a large and mighty man, and a man highly favored of the Lord, Jared, his brother, said unto him: Cry unto the Lord, that he will not confound us that we may not understand our words.  And it came to pass that the brother of Jared did cry unto the Lord, and the Lord had compassion upon Jared; therefore he did not confound the language of Jared; and Jared and his brother were not confounded.

 

 

I know these variations do not constitute a major disparity (although there should be no differentiation) however, if you include the Doctrines and Covenants and The Book of Abraham two other canonized books, then we do run into some major contradictions. There are actually even contradictions between the Book of Mormon and there other “scriptures” In my opinion, there actually seems to be little difference between the theology expounded in the Bible and the theology found in The Book of Mormon, until you incorporate other “scriptures” such as the Book of Abraham.

The Book of Mormon

Other Mormon Scriptures

What is God's attitude toward David and Solomon having more than one wife?

Notice that it is not a question of whether different people at different times might be commanded or permitted or forbidden to practice polygamy; it has only to do with God's view of specific acts of polygamy. And remember that God is unchanging! (Book of Mormon, 3 Nephi 24:6)

Book of Mormon, Jacob 2:24 says that God considered David's and Solomon's polygamy as "abominable before me." (See also Jacob 1:15, 3:5.)

 

What is God's attitude toward David and Solomon having more than one wife?

At Doctrine’s and Covenants 132:38-39 God says that David and Solomon did not sin in having more than one wife, and David's wives were "given unto him of me."

At 2 Samuel 12:7-8 God says, through the prophet Nathan, that David's wives were given to him by God.

 

Does God dwell in man's heart?

Book of Mormon, Alma 34:36 says that "the Lord" dwells in the hearts of the righteous.

 

Does God dwell in man's heart?

Doctrine’s & Covenants 130:3 says that the "idea that the Father and the Son dwell in a man's heart" is false. (D&C 130:22 says that it is the Holy Ghost that "dwell[s] in us")

 

Is there more than one God?

Book of Mormon Alma 11:26-29 says there is only one God. Also D&C 20:19, Pearl of Great Price Moses 1:6, as well as many Bible passages, such as Isaiah 43:10, 44:6, 45:6, to name only a few

 

Is there more than one God?

Pearl of Great Price Abraham 4:27 refers to "the Gods" as does D&C 132:37. Orson Pratt's statement is typical of Mormon belief:

If we should take a million of worlds like this and number their particles, we should find that there are more Gods than there are particles of matter in those worlds. - JoD 2:345

 

 

Can one who does not hold the Priesthood see the "face of God"?

    Here is an example of the Doctrine’s and Covenants contradicting the Pearl of Great Price

D&C 84:21-22 (given September 1832) says no

"...without the ordinances thereof [i.e. of the priesthood], and the authority of the priesthood, the power of godliness is not manifest unto men in the flesh; 22 For without this no man can see the face of God, even the Father, and live."

 

Can one who does not hold the Priesthood see the "face of God"?

In Joseph Smith's story of his "First Vision" (Pearl of Great Price JS-Hist 1:17ff, written about 1838), he says that he saw two personages (one of whom he interpreted to be God the Father) in 1820. There is considerable dispute about the exact dates when the Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthoods were restored, but the earliest dates claimed are 1829-1830.

 

Are Adam and Michael the same personages, or different?

D&C 27:11 (and the Endowment ceremony in the Mormon temple) says they are the same.

 

Are Adam and Michael the same personages, or different?

In a vision which JS recorded in his diary for Jan 21, 1836, he "saw father Adam and Abraham and Michael...", naming them as separate personages. (This vision was recently included in the D&C as section 137, but the reference to Michael was deleted.)

 

Is Adam the same personage as God the Father?

Is Adam the same personage as God the Father?

Brigham Young on numerous occasions taught this doctrine, which came to be known as the "Adam-God" doctrine

Apostle Bruce R. McConkie admitted that this doctrine was taught by Brigham Young in a private letter: "Yes, President Young did teach that Adam was the father of our spirits, and all the related things that the cultists ascribe to him [i.e. that Adam is God]. "

The present prophet Gordon B. Hinckley admitted that Brigham Young had taught this doctrine in an interview with the New Yorker magazine (January 21, 2002, p. 44)

 

Is Adam the same personage as God the Father?

Church authorities in recent decades have repeatedly said that Adam is not God the Father. McConkie, in the letter cited above, referred to the "utter absurdity of this doctrine" and called it "totally false," saying that "This [doctrine]... is not true. He [Brigham Young] expressed views that are out of harmony with the gospel."

See also Doctrines of Salvation 1:96-106, by Joseph Fielding Smith, later president of the church.

 

How was Jesus conceived?

Book of Mormon Alma 7:10 prophesies that Christ would be born of Mary, "...she being a virgin... who shall be overshadowed and conceive by the power of the Holy Ghost,..."

BoM 1 Nephi 11, narrates a vision of Nephi. He sees the virgin Mary (v. 15-18), and then he "beheld that she was carried away in the Spirit;" (v. 19) and after a time he sees her "bearing a child in her arms" (v. 20)

 

How was Jesus conceived?

  Brigham Young's stated: "When the Virgin Mary conceived the child Jesus, the Father had begotten him in his own likeness. He was NOT begotten by the Holy Ghost. And who is the Father? He is the first of the human family... Jesus, our elder brother, was begotten in the flesh by the same character that was in the garden of Eden, and who is our Father in Heaven.... Now, remember from this time forth, and forever, that Jesus Christ was not begotten by the Holy Ghost." (JoD 1:50-51)

"The birth of the Saviour was as natural as are the births of our children; it was the result of natural action. He ...was begotten of his Father, as we were of our fathers." (JoD 8:115)

"The man Joseph, the husband of Mary, did not, that we know of, have more than one wife, but Mary the wife of Joseph had another husabnd... That very babe that was cradled in the manger, was begotten, not by Joseph, the husband of Mary, but by another Being. Do you inquire by whom? He was begotten by God our heavenly Father." (JoD 11:268)

Apostle Bruce R. McConkie wrote: "Christ was begotten by an Immortal Father in the same way that mortal men are begotten by mortal fathers." (Mormon Doctrine, 1966 ed, 546-547)

"He [Jesus] is the Son of God in the same sense and way that we are the sons of mortal fathers. It is that simple." (The Promised Messiah, pp 467-468).

 

What happens to those who teach false doctrine?

Book of Mormon 2 Ne 28:15 says teachers of false doctrine will go to hell: "...all those who preach false doctrines,.., wo, wo, wo, be unto them, saith the Lord God Almighty, for they shall be thrust down to hell!"

Joseph Fielding Smith (apostle, later president of the church) says: "There is no greater crime in all the world than to teach false doctrines.." (Doctrines of Salvation, 1:34

 

What happens to those who teach false doctrine?

Apostle McConkie says that Brigham Young will go to the Celestial Kingdom, even though he taught false doctrine (see previous item): "He completed his work and has gone on to eternal exaltation..." (cited letter). When confronted with false teachings of earlier prophets, Mormons usually respond by saying that even prophets make mistakes, no one is perfect.

 

Who created the world?

Pearl of Great Price Moses 2 says "I, God [created everything]..." (see also Book of Mormon 2 Nephi 2:14, Jacob 4:9, Alma 18:26-32).

 

Who created the world?

Pearl of Great Price Abraham 4 says "they (the Gods) [created everything]".

 

What happens to people who die before having had a chance to hear the gospel?

Book of Mormon Alma 34:32-35 says that those who do not repent before death are eternally lost: "...that same spirit which doth possess your bodies at the time that ye go out of this life, that same spirit will have power to possess your body in that eternal world... ye have become subjected to the spirit of the devil, and he doth seal you his,... and the devil hath all power over you; and this is the final state of the wicked." (See also 2 Ne 9:38 and Mosiah 2:36-39)

 

What happens to people who die before having had a chance to hear the gospel?

D&C 76:71-78 says they will go only to the terrestrial kingdom (a lower kingdom than the celestial).

D&C 128 and 138 outline the Mormon "work for the dead," one of the principal purposes of the Mormon temples, to enable all the dead who repent (after death) to attain the celestial kingdom.

D&C 137:7-8 says they will go to the celestial kingdom

 

What happens in heaven to children who die before reaching adulthood?

Joseph Fielding Smith says that those who die as children will be resurrected with bodies "the same size as it was when the child died. It will then grow after the resurrection to conform to the size of the spirit." Doctrines of Salvation, 2:56.

 

What happens in heaven to children who die before reaching adulthood?

Joseph Smith said: "But as the child dies, so shall it rise from the dead.... It will never grow: it will still be the child, in the same precise form as it appeared before it died out of its mother's arms, but possessing all the intelligence of a God. Children dwell in the mansions of glory and exercise power, but appear in the same form as when on earth,... with not one cubit added to their stature." JoD 6:10 (the "King Follett Discourse")

 

Is murder a forgivable sin?

Bool of Mormon 3 Nephi 30:2, Alma 39:6 (also the Bible at Matthew 12:31, Jeremiah 33:8) say that murder is forgivable.

Joseph Smith said: "All sins, and all blasphemies, and every transgression, except one, that man can be guilty of, may be forgiven; and there is a salvation for all men, either in this world or the world to come,... unless he has committed that unpardonable sin [the sin against the Holy Ghost]..." JoD 6:8 (the "King Follett Discourse")

 

Is murder a forgivable sin?

D&C 42:18 says murder is not forgivable.

Joseph Smith said: "A murderer, for instance, one that sheds innocent blood, cannot have forgiveness... They [can] not be baptized for the remission of sins for they [have] shed innocent blood." TJS 339

 

Where was the Garden of Eden located?

D&C 116 says it was located at "Adam-ondi-Ahman", near Spring Hill, Missouri. (See also D&C 78:15, 107:53-57, HoC 3:35).

 

Where was the Garden of Eden located?

Pearl of Great Price (Moses 3:10-15, corresponding to Joseph Smith's "Inspired" translation of Genesis 2:10-15) says it was located in the vicinity of Assyria and Ethiopia and the Euphrates River.

Comment: Mormons try to explain this by suggesting that those Biblical names were also used in Adam's day to refer to areas and rivers in ancient Missouri. This argument overlooks the fact that the author of Genesis (or the inspired "Book of Moses" - who was the biblical Moses, according to Mormon doctrine) was writing for an audience who knew those names only as designations in the Old World, and would have understood them as such.

 

What materials did Nephi have for building his temple?

Book of Mormon 2 Ne 5:15 says supplies were abundant: "...all manner of wood, and of iron, and of copper, and of brass, and of steel, and of gold, and of silver, and of precious ores, which were in great abundance."

 

 

What materials did Nephi have for building his temple?

Book of Mormon 2 Ne 5:16 says they were not abundant: "...save it [the temple] were not built of so many precious things, for they were not to be found upon the land."

 

What about "the natural man"?

Book of Mormon Mosiah 3:19 says "For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless [he becomes a follower of Christ]" (see also 1 Cor 2:14)

George Q. Cannon (member of the First Presidency) said: "The natural man is at enmity with Christ and with God;..." (JoD 21:79).

 

What about "the natural man"?

Brigham Young said: "Paul says in his Epistle to the Corinthians, 'But the natural man receiveth not the things of God,' but I say it is the unnatural man that receiveth not the things of God. That which was, is and will continue to endure is more natural than that which will pass away and be no more. The natural man is of God." (JoD 9:305).

 

Should there be a paid ministry?

Book of Mormon  2 Ne 26:31, Mosiah 27:5, 18:24, Alma 1:2-3, 1:20, 30:32-35 (and Bible Acts 20:33-34, 2 Cor 11:9, 2 Thess 3:8) say they should support themselves.

(The present practice of the church is that only the upper echelons in the church hierarchy receive salaries and other remuneration, as well as those employed as full-time teachers, secretaries, etc. Local-level elders, bishops, high priests, missionaries, etc., support themselves by outside employment.)

 

Should there be a paid ministry?

D&C 42:71-73 says yes: elders, high priests and bishops should receive support and "remuneration" for their services.

 

What about tithing?

Book of Mormon Morm 8:32 says that false churches will tell you that your sins are forgiven if you pay them money.

 

What about tithing?

D&C 64:23 says that those who pay tithing (to the church) will "not be burned" (presumably because their sins will have been forgiven).

 

Is Book of Mormon the whole gospel?

Book of Mormon 1 Nephi 13:24, 10:14, 15:13 imply that the Book of Mormon  restores the "fulness";
D&C 20:9 says the Book of Mormon contains the "fulness of the Gospel"; also 27:5, 42:12;
D&C 10:67-68 says the complete gospel is repentance - whoever declares more is "against" me;
2 Nephi 32:3 says that the words of Christ (in the Book of Mormon) will tell you everything you must do;
Mosiah 18:18-20 says to teach nothing but repentance and faith.

 

Is Book of Mormon the whole gospel?

Book of Mormon 3 Nephi 26:9 says this is just a test; more will come; and of course many current Mormon doctrines are not in the Book of Mormon (eternal marriage, many gods, word of wisdom, Melchizedek/Aaronic priesthood, work for the dead, to name just a few

 

 

It is also interesting the most of the Mormon Doctrine the differs from Christian thelogy is not found in the Book of  Mormon, but rather the “other” scripters. Actually, the Book of Mormon itself seems to agree with the Bible (in theology at least) most of the time.

 

Mormon Doctrine

Book of Mormon

Heaven consists of three levels or "glories"; evil people go to the lowest, "hell" (D&C 76:81-90), the glory of which "surpasses all understanding. Only Mormon apostates do not go to heaven, but to "outer darkness" (D&C 76:31-39)

Only two possible fates after death: heaven or hell. Levels or degrees of heaven are not mentioned.

Jesus and God the Father are separate beings. (D&C 130:22)

Jesus and God the Father are the same. (Mosiah 3:8, 15:1-5, Ether 4:7, 12)

God has a body of flesh and bones. (D&C 130:22)

God is a spirit. (Alma 18:26-28)

God was once a man like us, and progressed to godhood. (TJS 342-345)

God does not change and has never changed. (Mormon 9:9, Moroni 8:18)

There are many gods. (TJS 370-373)

There is only one God. (Alma 11:28-30)

We can become gods ourselves. (D&C 76:58, TJS 342-345)

No mention of this idea.

We lived with God in a spirit world (a "premortal existence") before being born into this life. (D&C 49:17, 93:23-29, 138:55-56)

No mention of this idea.

God is the literal father of our spirits, conceived by him and our "Mother in Heaven" (MD 516)

No mention of this idea.

Mary conceived Jesus by natural means, namely, God the Father impregnated her. (MD 546-47, JoD 1:50-51, 8:115, 11:268)

Mary conceived Jesus "by the power of the Holy Ghost" (Alma 7:10), by being "carried away in the spirit" (1 Nephi 11:15-19)

Those who do not accept the gospel in this life will have the opportunity to do so after death, and can receive baptism by proxy (D&C 127, 128)

Salvation must be attained in this life; after one dies it is too late (Alma 34:34, 2 Nephi 9:38, Mosiah 2:36-39). No mention of baptism for the dead.

David and Solomon did nothing wrong by having many wives. (D&C 132:38-39)

The polygamy of David and Solomon was "abominable" to the Lord (Jacob 2:24)

Priesthood divided into an upper (" after the order of Melchizedek") and lower ("Aaronic") priesthood

No distinction between "priests" and "high priests"; priesthood is "after the order of [the Son of] God" (Alma 4:20, 13:1-12). No mention of "Aaronic" priesthood.

Salvation in the highest heaven ("exaltation") requires undergoing the "endowment" initiation ceremony in a temple, the details of which are kept strictly secret. The participants are required to take numerous oaths, which are also secret. Details

"Secret combinations" requiring secret oaths are condemned. (Mormon 8:27, 40, 2 Nephi 26:22, Helaman 6:22, and many others.) No mention of any such ritual as part of the gospel. No mention of "exaltation" or "endowment."

Exaltation requires marriage in a Mormon temple. (D&C 131:1-4)

No mention of this doctrine.

"Celestial marriage" lasts for time and all eternity. (DoS 2:58 ff)

No mention of this doctrine.

The "first resurrection" is only for the righteous. (D&C 76:64. 63:18)

The "first resurrection" is for all who died before Christ's resurrection, righteous and unrighteous alike (Mosiah 15:24, Alma 40:16-17)

The "idea that the Father and the Son dwell in a man's heart" is false. (D&C 130:31; verse 22 says that it is the Holy Ghost that "dwell[s] in us")

"The Lord" dwells in the hearts of the righteous. (Alma 34:36)

The Lord's Supper ("the sacrament") consists of bread and water.

The Lord's Supper should consist of bread and wine. (3 Nephi 18:1-9, Moroni 5)

Only the priest blessing the sacrament kneels.

The priest is to kneel with the church while blessing the sacrament. (Moroni 4:2; see also D&C 20:76)

Use of alcohol, coffee, tea ("hot drinks") is forbidden. (D&C 89)

No such commandment.

Church is governed by the three men of the "First Presidency," higher in authority than the Quorum of Twelve.

Jesus placed twelve disciples over the church he founded in America. (3 Nephi 12, passim) No "first presidency" mentioned.

Except for Joseph Smith, all prophets are promoted to that office by those above them in rank, and by seniority. They work their way up to the top.

Prophets are called directly by God.

The church is trying to befriend people of other religions with the message "All churches have some truth"; "The church has always extended a hand of friendship and fellowship to those of other faiths, and will continue to do so."

There are two churches only: the true church and the "church of the devil," "the whore of Babylon" (1 Nephi 14:10-12). A church which seeks to become "popular in the eyes of the world" is of the devil. (1 Nephi 22:23)

Since 1978 the church claims that it is not racist, that all races are equal and that the color of a person's skin has no religious significance.

A dark skin is a curse from God, a punishment for one's unrighteousness (or the unrighteousness of one's ancestors). A dark skin can become light through righteousness. (1 Nephi 12:23, 2 Nephi 5:21, Alma 3:6, Mormon 5:15, Jacob 3:8-9, 3 Nephi 2:15)

 

 (3)The Book of Mormon has not been verified by archeological evidence. Some findings by Mormon archeologists do not prove the Book of Mormon, but merely raise some of the Mormon beliefs from impossible to improbable.

Not only is the whole Book of Mormon unverified, but some extraordinary claims in it are very difficult to believe.

There are 4 crops mentioned in the Book of Mormon.

  • Barley Alma 11:7, 15)
  • Figs (3 Nephi 14:16)
  • Grapes (2 Nephi 15:2, 4, 3 Nephi 14:16)
  • Wheat (Mosiah 9:9 Nephi 18:18)

There is no independent (non-Mormon) archeological evidence that Figs, Grapes, or Wheat existed in the area and time frame of the above references. I realize that some of these crops mentioned in context to not say (although it does imply it) that all these crops were in the New World; However, Wheat remains a major problem.                                             

There are 16 animals and animal products mentioned in the Book of Mormon.

  • Ass
  • Bull
  • Calf
  • Cattle
  • Cow
  • Butter
  • Elephants
  • Milk
  • Flocks
  • Goat (The Nephrites claimed to have found the domestic goat.)
  • Herds
  • Horse (The horse plays a major role in the Nephrite and Laminate societies.)
  • Ox
  • Sheep (This was a major animal in the Book of Mormon.)
  • Sow
  • Swine

There is no independent (non-Mormon) archeological evidence that any of these existed in the area and time frame of The Book of Mormon. A common defense is that they had never seen the animals in North American and so associated them with animals of the Old World (e.g. deer could be called horses) However Matheny (former Brigham Young University anthropology professor, Dr. Raymond T. Matheny) argues that this is not legitimate because the Book of Mormon descriptions occur in specific literary contexts that assume complex old world systems for the raising and use of the various domestic animals:

“I mean in Alma there [18:10; 20:6,8] , you know he's using the stable there preparing the horses for King Lamoni, and also he's preparing the King's chariots because they're going to take a trip from one city to another over the royal highway. And also the horses are pastured, no less. So there are contexts within the Book of Mormon itself. These are not just substitutions, it seems to me, but the authors of the Book of Mormon there are providing the context, they're not trying to describe a tape deer or something else, it seems to me. This is a weak way to try to explain the presence of these names in the Book of Mormon.”

The following metals, metal products, or metal manufacturing are mentioned in the Book of Mormon record. 

  • Bellows
  • Brass
  • Breast Plates
  • Chains
  • Copper
  • Iron
  • Ore (mining)
  • Plows
  • Silver
  • Swords (metal)
  • Steel

Independent (non-Mormon) archeological evidence shows that none of these were manufactured or used in the area and time frame of 2 Nephi 5. The Smithsonian Institution's Dept. Of Anthropology declares the Americas did not have steel or horses before 1492. The Book of Mormon (600 B.C. to 421 A.D.) claims both steel (1 Nephi 4:9) and horses (Alma 18:9). 

William J. Hamblin, professor of history at BYU, criticizes those who see “large-scale metal ‘industries’” among Book of Mormon people. However, consider the impressive description of metallurgical technology during the time of Kish, a Jaredite king about 1500 B.C.

And they did work in all manner of ore, and they did make gold, and silver, and iron, and brass, and all manner of metals; and they did dig it out of the earth to get ore, of gold and of silver, and of iron, and of copper. And they did work all manner of find work (Ether 10:23

You must keep in mind the distinction between mere metalworking and true metallurgy. Metalworking means the cold hammering and shaping of metal, while metallurgy require temperatures of 700 to 800 C and involves some or all or the following technological processes: smelting, casting gilding, annealing, soldering, and alloying. The Book of Mormon specifically mentions the practice of smelting among the Jaredites, for Ether explained that Shule “did molten out of the hill, and made swords out of steel: (Ether 7:9)

According to Raymond Matheny “The technology of mining is problematical for the Book of Mormon. Where do you find iron ores in sufficient quantity to create an industry?...No evidence has been found in the New World for a ferrous metallurgical industry dating to pre-Columbian times. And so this is a king-size problem, it seems to me, for so-called Book of Mormon Archaeology. This evidence is absent”

Also No Mormon Cities have (to this date) been positively identified. (Although possible sites have been identified, according to Mormon sources, for several cities including the location of “Bountiful”)

What about the Limited geography theory?

John Clark, a respected archaeologist, stated in a talk at BYU last May:
"If you believe in a global geography, you're basically done, toasted, game over."

The Book of Mormon describes the world of its inhabitants as an hourglass-shaped land mass made up of a "land southward" surrounded by water except for a "narrow neck" of land connecting it to a "land northward" (Alma 22:32). Determining the location of these lands is the necessary first step before archaeology can be employed to evaluate the Book of Mormon, as LDS scholars acknowledge.1

The Traditional View
According to Joseph Smith and subsequent presidents and apostles of the LDS Church, the geographical extent of Book of Mormon lands included virtually all of North and South America. Joseph Smith identified the coast of Chile as the place where Lehi's party arrived in the New World, while he located the Hill Cumorah, site of the epic Nephite-Lamanite battle to extinction, some 6000 miles north in Palmyra, New York. Thus, North and South America were understood to constitute the two bulges of the hourglass, connected by the "narrow neck" of Central America.

Joseph Smith also taught that the American Indians were the descendants of the Lamanites. The History of the Church records an incident from June 1834 in which he identified, by divine guidance, a skeleton found in an Indian burial mound in Illinois as that of the Lamanite warrior Zelph:

. . the visions of the past being opened to my understanding by the Spirit of the Almighty, I discovered the person whose skeleton was before us was a white Lamanite, a large, thick-set man, and a man of God. His name was Zelph . . . who was known from the Hill Cumorah, or eastern sea to the Rocky mountains.5

The LDS Church continues to teach that Native Americans are the direct descendents of Book of Mormon peoples. For example, the "Introduction" in current editions of the Book of Mormon (since 1981), describes the Lamanites as, "the principal ancestors of the American Indians."

Why LDS Scholars Object
Despite the teaching of the Church's spiritual leaders, unquestioned for a hundred years, a number of Mormon scholars have concluded that the traditional view of Book of Mormon geography is unrealistic. Their conclusions are based on a number of major problems that arise when one attempts to apply Book of Mormon descriptions of travel times and population growth to the vast territories of North and South America. For instance, while the Book of Mormon makes it clear that the rival Nephite and Lamanite civilizations were centered near the "narrow neck" of land (understood to be somewhere in Central America), it says that they agreed to meet for their epic final battle at the "hill Cumorah" (Mormon 6:1-6). Joseph Smith and Mormon tradition locate this site several thousand miles distant in New York state. It is difficult to find a reasonable explanation for why the armies would travel this immense distance to do battle.

Another significant problem for traditional Book of Mormon geography involves the premise that the native populations of the vast North and South American continents are the descendents of two tiny groups of transoceanic Semitic immigrants (the Jaredites, who arrived in the New World between 3000 - 2000 B.C. but later battled themselves to extinction, and the Nephites and Mulekites, who arrived beginning about 600 B.C.). Archaeological evidence shows conclusively that the western hemisphere was populated at least as far back as 10,000 B.C. by east Asian peoples who migrated across the Bering Strait. It is these Mongolian peoples who are the ancestors of the American Indians, according to the Smithsonian Institution:

The American Indians are physically Mongoloids and thus must have originated in eastern Asia. The differences in appearance of the various New World tribes in recent times are due to (1) the initial variability of their Asian ancestors; (2) adaptations over several millennia to varied New World environments; and (3) different degrees of interbreeding in post-Columbian times with people of European and African origins."

There is no solid evidence for immigration via other routes involving long sea voyages (prior to the Norse arrivals from Greenland and Newfoundland about A.D. 1000), as proposed by the Book of Mormon, and if such voyages did occur; they were not significant for the origins and composition of New World populations.

The Limited Geography Theory     


In order to remove these inherent improbabilities and protect the credibility of the Book of Mormon as authentic history, a number of LDS scholars have proposed a new approach to Book of Mormon geography called the "limited geography theory." The most influencial proponent of this view is Prof. John L. Sorenson of Brigham Young University. Sorenson restricts the Book of Mormon setting to an approximately 400-mile-long section of Central America, with the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in southern Mexico corresponding to the "narrow neck" of the hourglass-shaped land mass described above.

 

Problems with the Limited geography theory

While the limited geography theory appears to resolve some of the flaws of traditional Book of Mormon geography, it creates other problems that are equally serious. It conflicts with details in the Book of Mormon, contradicts the teaching of a long line of LDS presidents and apostles, and in the end cannot produce a single piece of archaeological evidence that can be identified as Nephite or Jaredite (a fact which BYU professors such as Hugh Nibley, Bruce W. Warren, and David J. Johnson all acknowledge).

Two Cumorahs?
One area of major contradiction between the limited geography theory and the Book of Mormon concerns the identity and location of the hill Cumorah. Sorenson locates Cumorah in Central America, at a site only 90 miles from the "narrow neck". While this removes an unrealistic requirement of the traditional view, which has the two armies marching thousands of miles north to do battle at what is now Palmyra, New York, it conflicts with the Book of Mormon description of Cumorah as "an exceeding great distance" from the narrow neck into the "land northward" (Helaman 3:3,4). If the Isthmus of Tehuantepec — Sorenson's "narrow neck" of land — at 120 miles across is "narrow," how can the 90 miles from the "narrow neck" to Sorenson's Cumorah fit the Book of Mormon description of "an exceeding great distance"?

The limited geography theory also seems to be at odds with the Book of Mormon by requiring two Cumorahs. This is necessary since it locates the final Nephite-Lamanite battle at a Cumorah in Central America, whereas Joseph Smith retrieved the Book of Mormon plates from the traditional hill Cumorah in New York State. This also leaves Moroni with the task of single-handedly transporting the hefty Book of Mormon plates (not to mention the entire Nephite library) over two thousand miles to the New York Cumorah.

Directional Skewing
Another major discrepancy of the limited geography theory is the 45 degree directional skewing that results when the geographic features of the Book of Mormon are superimposed onto the proposed Central American site. Map 2 illustrates the problem. It shows that the Book of Mormon's "land northward" and "land southward" are actually oriented along a northwest-southeast line. This places the "east sea" and "west sea" almost directly north and south of these proposed Book of Mormon lands. It is clear from the Bible that the ancient Israelites used the rising sun as the basis for directional orientation (e.g., Exodus 27:13; 38:13; Numbers 2:3; Ezekiel 8:16). Therefore, one must ask, "Would Hebrew immigrants arriving at the proposed Central American site and using the sun as their directional reference, have arrived at the severely skewed directional orientation suggested by Sorenson?"

Still another conflict is the absence of the "sea north" and the "sea south" (Helaman 3:8). In the traditional view, these descriptions correspond to the Atlantic Ocean below the tip of the South America (Cape Horn), and the Arctic Ocean north of North America, respectively. Editions of the Book of Mormon from 1888 to 1921 included a note to this effect at Helaman 3:8-9. Because of these conflicts with Mormon tradition and Book of Mormon internal evidence, the limited geography theory has been repeatedly condemned by LDS leaders, including Joseph Fielding Smith, Jr. (10th President), Harold B. Lee (11th President), and Bruce R. McConkie. In 1979 the Church News labeled it "harmful" and a "challenge" to the "words of the prophets concerning the place where Moroni buried the records."

Book of Mormon geography raises a theological dilemma: on the one hand, the traditional view produces a number of improbabilities that undermine the historical credibility of the Book of Mormon; on the other hand, the limited geography approach rejects the clear pronouncements of Joseph Smith and subsequent presidents and apostles, and conflicts with Book of Mormon teaching on a number of important points.

And even if there were no flaws in the Limited Geography Theory, it would still not be proof of Mormonism. It would only make the impossible, merely improbable.

Assessment of archaeological findings


Matheny's overall assessment is that archaeology offers no support for the Book of Mormon as history: "I would say in evaluating the Book of Mormon that it has no place in the New World whatsoever."

Prof. Matheny is not alone in this assessment. The highly respected Mesoamerican archaeologist Michael Coe has written:

The bare facts of the matter are that nothing, absolutely nothing, has ever shown up in any New World excavation which would suggest to a dispassionate observer that the Book of Mormon, as claimed by Joseph Smith, is a historical document relating to the history of early immigrants to our hemisphere.

 

 (4)The Book of Mormon was not prophesied in the Bible

Although Mormons believe that The Book of Mormon in prophesied in the Bible, this is not true:

a.      According to Mormon teaching Isaiah 29:1-4 is a reference to the Book of Mormon.

 Isaiah 29:1-4 (King James Version)

1Woe to Ariel, to Ariel, the city where David dwelt! add ye year to year; let them kill sacrifices.

2Yet I will distress Ariel, and there shall be heaviness and sorrow: and it shall be unto me as Ariel.

 3And I will camp against thee round about, and will lay siege against thee with a mount, and I will raise forts against thee.

 4And thou shalt be brought down, and shalt speak out of the ground, and thy speech shall be low out of the dust, and thy voice shall be, as of one that hath a familiar spirit, out of the ground, and thy speech shall whisper out of the dust.

Apostle James E. Talmage said “These predictions of Isaiah could not refer to Ariel of Jerusalem, because their speech has not been ‘out of the ground,’ of ‘low out of the dust’; but it refers to the remnant of Joseph who were destroyed in America upward of fourteen hundred years ago. The Book of Mormon describes their downfall, and truly it was great and terrible…This remnant of Joseph in their distress became as Ariel.” Talmage concludes, “Isaiah’s prediction that the nation thus brought down should ‘speak out of the ground,’ with speech ‘low out of the dust’ was literally fulfilled in the bringing forth of the Book of Mormon, the original of which was taken out of the ground, and the voice of the record is as that of one speaking from the dust.”

However, the prophet Isaiah was saying that the coming judgment by God would be so devastating that the bloodshed and flames would make Jerusalem comparable to an altar on which sacrifices were burned. (“Ariel” means “hearth of God.”) Isaiah 29:1-4 indicates that just as the altar of burnt offerings in Jerusalem was surrounded daily by the victims that were offered, so the walls of the city would be surrounded by the dead bodies of those who had rebelled against the Lord. This is a picture of gruesome judgment. This judgment against Jerusalem was fulfilled during Sennacherib’s siege of the city in 701 B.C.

God used Sennacherib (ruler of Assyria from 705-681 B.C.) to punish His own people. During this attack, the fire and bloodshed indeed made this city seem like an altar hearth. God’s fire of judgment “burned” the city. We can know with certainty that Isaiah meant Jerusalem when he addressed “Ariel” because he called it “the city where David dwelt” (Isaiah 29:1). We know from Old Testament history that David settled in Jerusalem, which was originally called Jebus, after taking the city from the Jebusites (2 Samuel 5:6-9)

b.      According to Mormon teaching Isaiah 29:11-12 is a reference to the Book of Mormon.

Isaiah 29:11-12 

And the vision of all is become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he smith, I cannot; for it is sealed: And the book is delivered to him that is not learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I am not learned.

Mormons claim these verses refer to the Book of Mormon, or to the gold plates from which Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon. According to Martin Harris, one of the alleged three witnesses to the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith, Harris took a copy of some of the characters which Joseph had drawn off the plats to a Professor Charles Anthon, a gentleman celebrated for his literary attainments. Here is Harris’s account:

            Professor Anthon stated that the translation was correct, more so that any he had before seen translated from the Egyptian. I then showed him whose which were not yet translated, and he said that they were Egyptian, Chaldaic, Assyriac, and Arabic; and he said they were true characters. He gave me a certificate, certifying to the people of Palmyra that they were true characters, and that the translation was also correct…He asked me how the young man found out that there were gold plates in the place where he found them. I answered that an angel of God had revealed it unto him. “he then said to me, ‘Let me see that certificate’”…When he took it, he tore it to pieces, saying there was no such thing now as the ministering of angels, and that if I would bring the plates to him he would translate them. I informed him that parts of the plates were sealed, and that I was forbidden to bring them. He replied, “I cannot read a sealed book.” I left him and went to Dr. Mitchell, who sanctioned what Professor Anthon had said respecting the character and translation (emphasis added).

Isaiah 29:11-12 in cited, then, as a prediction that the Book of Mormon would be taken to Professor Anthon at Columbia College, who would refuse to read it (because he couldn’t read a “sealed book”), and that the book would be given to a “unlettered youth,” Joseph Smith.

The Mormon interpretation of Isaiah 29:11-12 has several problems. One is that the text shows the subject is a vision and not a book. The visions God gave to the prophets of that day had become as meaningless to the people as the words of a book that was sealed. Isaiah was referring to the condition of the people at the time and not of some future era:

There are also multiple discrepancies between Isaiah’s account and the Mormon scenario. For example:

·        According to Martin Harris, the Professor said the translation was correct. But Anthon could have said the only if he read the plates-not just some character scribbled on a paper by Joseph Smith. Notice, however, that Isaiah said the learned Man could not read it because it was sealed. The only way the professor knew that the plates were “sealed” was because Harris told him they were.

·        In Isaiah 29:11-12, the book went to the learned man first, then to the unlearned. But the Mormon story has the book of gold delivered first to the unlearned Smith, who copied some of the characters (allegedly from the golden plates) on a piece of paper which was then taken by Harris to the “learned” Anthon. In Isaiah the same sealed book was taken to both the learned man and the unlearned man. But Anthon did not receive any book, sealed or unsealed.

·        In Isaiah the book was delivered to the unlearned and he simply said, “I am not learned.” But Smith claimed he (Smith) did read the book, even though he was unlearned.

           

c.       According to Mormon teaching Ezekiel 37:16-17 is a reference to the Book of Mormon.

 

Ezekiel 37:16-17 Moreover, thou son of man, take thee one stick, and write upon it, For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions: then take another stick, and write upon it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim and for all the house of Israel his companions: And join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand.

Mormons argue that the ancient prophets wrote on papyrus, leather, or other writing material, and wound this material on a perpendicular piece of wood or stick. These sticks were allegedly also known as scrolls or books. The Mormons say Ezekiel 37:16:17 is hence speaking of the Bible (Judah) and the Book of Mormon (Joseph)-two “sticks.” LeGrand Richards says, “Could this promise be fulfilled in a simpler and more perfect manner than it was through the coming forth of the Book of Mormon?... The two records have now been joined together, constituting a complete fulfillment of another great prophecy.”

However, the idea that the two sticks in Ezekiel 37:16-17 refer to the Bible and the Book of Mormon is clearly made impossible by the verses that follow-verses 18 through 28. 

Ezekiel 37:16-28 

 Moreover, thou son of man, take thee one stick, and write upon it, For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions: then take another stick, and write upon it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim and for all the house of Israel his companions: And join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand. And when the children of thy people shall speak unto thee, saying, Wilt thou not shew us what thou meanest by these? Say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel his fellows, and will put them with him, even with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they shall be one in mine hand. And the sticks whereon thou writest shall be in thine hand before their eyes. And say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land: And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all. Neither shall they defile themselves any more with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions: but I will save them out of all their dwellingplaces, wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them: so shall they be my people, and I will be their God. And David my servant shall be king over them; and they all shall have one shepherd: they shall also walk in my judgments, and observe my statutes, and do them. And they shall dwell in the land that I have given unto Jacob my servant, wherein your fathers have dwelt; and they shall dwell therein, even they, and their children, and their children's children for ever: and my servant David shall be their prince for ever. Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore. My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And the heathen shall know that I the LORD do sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore.

 

By reading these verses, and by following the principle that Scripture interprets Scripture, we can learn what the two “sticks” are by letting Scripture define them. In fact, verse 22 alone clearly identifies the “sticks”: “I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel: and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all. (Emphasis added)

Bible expositor Charles H. Dyer explains the context of Ezekiel 37 this way:

After Solomon died the nation of Israel split asunder, in 931 B.C. The Southern Kingdom was known as Judah because Judah was its larger tribe and because the country was ruled by a king from that tribe (cf. 1 Kings 12:22-24). The Northern Kingdom was called Israel, or sometimes Ephraim (e.g., Hosea 5:3,5,11-14) either because Ephraim was the strongest and most influential tribe or because the first king of Israel, Jeroboam I, was an Ephraimite (1 Kings 11:26). Israel was taken into captivity by Assyria in 722 B.C., and Judah was taken into exile by Babylon in 605, 597 and 586 B.C,

Ezekiel 37:18-28 clearly shows that the uniting of the “sticks” pictures God’s restoring and reuniting His people in the land as a single nation (see Hosea 1:11). They would be cleansed of their backsliding and God would “be their God”

d.      According to Mormon teaching 2 Corinthians 13:1-2 is a reference to the Book of Mormon

2 Corinthians 13:1-2

 This is the third time I am coming to you. In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established. I told you before, and foretell you, as if I were present, the second time; and being absent now I write to them which heretofore have sinned, and to all other, that, if I come again, I will not spare:

According to Mormons, the Bible is one witness of Jesus Christ and the Book of Mormon is another testament of Him. Thus, as Mormon apostle LeGrand Richards affirms, “two witnesses” have been established in regard to the mission of Jesus Christ in the World

However, in this passage the apostle Paul is simply warning the Corinthian church –a carnal church- about the consequences of their continuing to remain in sin. As theologian Charles Ryrie points out, “Paul warned that, if necessary, trials were going to be held when he came, in which Jewish rules of evidence giving would be applied (Deut. 19:15)

Also, the Bible already contains multiple witnesses to Christ and His gospel. After all, the Bible is made up of 66 books written by some 40 authors. So even if we conceded that @ Corinthians 13:1-2 demanded more that one written “witness” of Jesus Christ, there are plenty of such witnesses in the individual books of the Bible. These books were not compiled into a single volume (the Bible) until years later.

            As we have seen, there are major problems with the Book of Mormon from textual errors, changes and plagiarism, to a lack of archeological evidence, and the fact that no mention of The Book of Mormon events are made in the Old or New Testament. Anyone of these problems would cast serious doubt on the validity of the Book of Mormon, but taken together, well, it’s very hard to swallow.