What You Have Not Been Told
Below we present briefly some of the problems we found that caused us to eventually separate ourselves from the LDS Church.
President Joseph Fielding Smith (President of LDS Church in the early 1970’s) stated:
“Mormonism must stand or fall on the story of Joseph Smith. He was either a Prophet of God, divinely called, properly appointed and commissioned or he was one of the biggest frauds this world has ever seen. There is no middle ground. If Joseph was a deceiver, who willfully attempted to mislead people, then he should be exposed, his claims should be refuted, and his doctrines shown to be false…” (“Doctrines of Salvation,” vol. 1 pp 188-189.)
When one reads the above statement, an investigation – through a study of the pertinent documentation – is called for. Historically, the Mormon story is a young one and for that reason alone is relatively easy to investigate.
So let’s begin in the year 1820.
Joseph Smith claimed he had a visit from God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, in 1820. He said that they told him that all churches were wrong and were an abomination to God and that he should not join any of them. He said that when he told his community about God’s visit, that it initiated his fierce persecution. Later he said that he received visits from the angel Moroni, who Joseph Smith said was a resurrected being who had died close to Smith’s area in New York state about 1400 years earlier. Moroni, Joseph Smith asserted, had buried in New York in the Hill Cumorah a record of his people who had lived on the American continent from about 600 B.C. to about 421 A.D. That record, Joseph Smith was told, would be given to him to translate. Then, a few years later Joseph Smith said that he received the record, written on gold plates in “reformed Egyptian” language that no one but he could understand. He was also told not to show these gold plates to anyone, but that some time later a few selected people would be given the privilege to view them. He said that he then translated the plates and published the material as the “Book of Mormon” and gave the gold plates back to the angel Moroni.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints claims that the name of the Church was given to Joseph Smith by revelation. However, when Smith first organized the Church in 1830, it was called the “Church of Christ,” then four years later the name was changed to the “Church of Latter-day Saints,” then in 1838, it was changed again, this time to the “Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints”, as it is known today. Joseph Smith claimed that he received many revelations from God, and he began to introduce many new doctrines to his new Church; one of the doctrines was polygamy, a practice that Smith denied publicly but practiced secretly. That doctrine was the obvious downfall of Joseph Smith, and he was killed in 1844 as a result of the polygamy controversy.
Now let’s go back and look at this above information a little closer and in detail.
Joseph Smith claimed that after he had seen a vision of God the Father and Jesus Christ, he said that he told it first to a Methodist preacher and that it started the entire community, “all men of high standing” and “the great ones of the most popular sects,” to persecute him bitterly, him being only a boy of 14 years of age. Wouldn’t you think that kind of commotion would have caused someone somewhere to write about it? – At least the Palmyra Newspaper would have written something, since Joseph Smith claimed that “all men” were united to bring a “bitter and reviling persecution” against him. Not many important events took place in that little town, and even unimportant gossip was printed. But one searches in vain from 1820 on to find an account about a young boy’s vision or persecution, or to find a story regarding the revival excitement that Smith later claimed was the reason why he went to the grove to seek God in prayer and received this fantastic vision. Joseph Smith said that he was told twice in this vision not to join any of the religions (see “Pearl of Great Price” 2:5-26), but it is interesting to note that in 1823, Joseph’s mother, sister and two brothers joined the Presbyterian Church, and later Joseph himself sought membership in the Methodist Church, where his wife was a member. Records show that Joseph was expelled in 1828, because of his belief in magic and also because of his “money-digging activities.”
Joseph’s newly organized church started to publish its history as events took place. This publication was called the “Messenger and Advocate.” Oliver Cowdery was the main writer and its accuracy was checked by Joseph Smith himself. In this publication Joseph tells how, after his brother Alvin’s death, and after his mother, sister and two brothers had joined the Presbyterian Church, he started to seek religion and pray “if some Supreme Being existed” (vol. 1 p. 79). IF HE HAD HAD A VISION OF GOD THE FATHER AND HIS SON, JESUS CHRIST IN 1820, HE MOST CERTAINLY WOULD HAVE KNOWN BY 1823 OR 1824 THAT A SUPREME BEING EXISTED. By reading diaries, records, newspapers, etc., one seeks in vain to find any mention of this so-called “First Vision” story until 1842, when it was published in “Times and Seasons,” 22 years after this vision supposedly took place. It becomes quite obvious that this report was an after-thought, since the Vision story talks about two separate gods and the Book of Mormon says that there is only one God; and that Jesus, God the Father and Holy Ghost are this one God. Examples: Alma 11:26-33; 18:26-28; Mosiah 15:1, 2, 5, etc. “The Book of Commandments” (now called “Doctrine and Covenants”) was published in 1835 and it included lectures given in the School of the Prophets. Lecture 5 says God is a Spirit, and the Son only has the body of flesh and bones. (The lectures have later been removed from the “D&C” but they are available as a separate small book.) There is now an added footnote to this lecture 5, which says that Joseph received further light and knowledge in 1843 and THEN knew that God the Father also had a body of flesh and bones. That statement alone tells that there was no vision of the Father and the Son in 1820. Had there been a vision, he wouldn’t have needed this “further light and knowledge” about the Father having a body of flesh and bones. It was not until 1844, that Joseph started to preach about a god who was once a man and progressed into godhood, and how men can also become gods. (ee “Teachings by Prophet Joseph Smith” pp. 345-347). Thus, there is absolutely no evidence for the first vision as it appears in the Pearl of Great Price, or that the vision was known to Mormons or non-Mormons prior to 1842 or thereabouts. It was not until the 1880’s that this story was accepted by the Church. Prior to that time, we were able only to read denials about it. For example, in “Journal of Discourses,” vol. 2, p. 171, in 1855, Brigham Young preached a sermon in which he said:
“LORD DID NOT COME TO JOSEPH SMITH, BUT SENT HIS ANGEL TO INFORM HIM THAT HE SHOULD NOT JOIN ANY RELIGIOUS SECT OF THE DAY, FOR THEY WERE ALL WRONG…”
John Taylor later said the same thing, see J. of D. vol. 20, page 167, on March 2, 1879. Heber C. Kimball in vol. 6, page 29, said:
“DO YOU SUPPOSE THAT GOD IN PERSON CALLED UPON JOSEPH SMITH, OUR PROPHET? GOD CALLED UPON HIM, BUT DID NOT COME HIMSELF…”
George A. Smith told the same story in the Journal of Discourses, vol. 12, pp. 333-334. One wouldn’t really even have to dig deeper than that to find out that the claims of the Church today regarding Joseph Smith’s so-called First Vision are not true, according to documentary evidence of the time, and Joseph Smith should – and these facts should – be exposed, just as Joseph Fielding Smith said they should.
Now let’s look at the Book of Mormon. Early Mormon apostle Orson Pratt made a statement concerning the Book of Mormon:
” ‘The Book of Mormon’ must be either true or false. If true, it is one of the most important messages ever sent from God… If False, it is one of the most cunning, wicked, bold, deep-laid impositions ever palmed upon the world, calculated to deceive and ruin millions… The nature of the “Book of Mormon” is such, that if true, no one can possibly be saved and reject it; If false, no one can possibly be saved and receive it… If, after a rigid examination, it be found imposition, it should be extensively published to the world as such; the evidences and arguments on which the imposture was detected, should be clearly and logically stated, that those who have been sincerely yet unfortunately deceived, may perceive the nature of deception, and to be reclaimed, and that those who continue to publish the delusion may be exposed and silenced… by strong and powerful arguments – by evidences adduced from scripture and reason…” (Orson Pratt’s Works, “Divine Authenticity of the Book of Mormon”: Liverpool, 1851, pp. 1, 2.)
We hope to show clearly and logically, even though very briefly in this letter, that the Book of Mormon is not a divinely inspired record, but a 19th century product. Joseph Smith claimed that after he translated the gold plates, he returned them to an angel – so there is no way to inspect them or check the accuracy of the translation. Mormons often refer to the witnesses of the Book of Mormon. Most of these men left the Church, but claims are also made that even though they did, they never denied that they had seen an angel who showed them “the plates of the Book of Mormon.” However, in the Journal of Discourses, vol. 7, page 164, Brigham Young stated:
“…witnesses of the Book of Mormon who handled the plates and conversed with the angels of God were afterwards left to doubt and to disbelieve that they had ever seen an angel.”
Joseph Smith himself called these men wicked and liars and by many other demeaning names. In the Journal of Discourses, vol. 7, pages 114-115, George A. Smith lists those who have left the Church and mentions specifically, among others, “the witnesses of the Book of Mormon.” Martin Harris later claimed that he had a better testimony of “the Shakers Book” than he ever had of the Book of Mormon. Reading about these witnesses, one is drawn to the conclusion that they were unstable men and easily convinced; for example, Martin Harris changed his religion at least eight times. Some of the others started their own religions later.
Let’s now look at the Book of Mormon itself. The Book of Mormon presents problems that cannot be explained away. Regarding language: 1 Ne. 1:2, etc., states that Hebrews who left Jerusalem and came to the Americas spoke Egyptian. It is a known fact that Hebrews spoke Hebrew, and their records were kept in Hebrew. Egyptians were their enemies. It is as absurd to think that Hebrews would have written their sacred history in Egyptian as to think that American History would have been written in Russian. In Mormon 9:32, 34, it states that the language was “reformed Egyptian” and that no other people knew their language. There is no known language called “reformed Egyptian.” 1 Ne. 17:5 talks about fruit and wild honey being products of Sinai desert (called Bountiful). Not possible! 1 Ne. 18:1 talks about ample timber that Jews used to make a ship. There is not ample timber in that area. It was a desert; it still is a desert. 1 Ne. 2:6-9 mentions a river named Laman that flows into the Red Sea. There is no river there and there has not been since the Pleistocene era. Botanical problems are many in the Book of Mormon. Wheat, barley, olives, etc., are mentioned, but none of these were in the Americas at that time. North America had no cows, asses, horses, oxen, etc. Europeans brought them hundreds and hundreds of years later. North America had no lions, leopards, nor sheep at that time. Honey bees were brought here by Europeans much later. Ether 9:18, 19, lists domestic cattle, cows and oxen as separate species! They did not even exist in the Americas at that time. The Book of Mormon also mentions swine as being useful to man. Maybe, but Jews would not think of swine as being useful or good; swine were forbidden, unclean animals to the Jews. Horses, asses, and elephants were not here either. And what on earth are “cureloms” and “cumoms”? No such animals have ever been identified anywhere. Domestic animals that are thought to be “useful” would hardly become extinct. Ether 9:30-34 talks about poisonous snakes driving sheep to the south. The Book of Mormon tells that the people ate the snake-killed animals, all of them! (v. 34). Jewish people could not have eaten animals that were killed that way, since Mosaic law forbids it! Chickens and dogs did not exist here at that time either. 3 Ne. 20:16 and 21:12 talk about lions as “beasts of the forests.” Lions do not live in forests or jungles, and they never lived in the Americas. No silk and wool clothing (nor moths) existed, as 1 Ne. 13:7; Alma 4:6; Ether 9:17 and 10:24 indicate, at that time either. Butter is also mentioned, but it could not possibly exist, since no milk-producing animals were found in the Americas at that time.
Ether 15:30-31 says that after Shiz was beheaded, he raised up and struggled for breath!!? In Ether, chapter 6, we learn that furious winds propelled the barges to the promised land for 344 days! Even if the winds were not “furious,” but, for example, blew only 10 miles per hour, the distance traveled in 344 days would have been 82,560 miles, or more than three times around the world. Absurdity, to say the least! And why would the Lord instruct Jared to make a hole on top and bottom of each barge? (Ether 2:20.) When Lehi left Jerusalem, according to the Book of Mormon, his group consisted of fewer than 20 people. Yet 19 years later the people had so prospered and multiplied in the promised land that they built a temple which “manner of construction was like unto the temple of Solomon: and the workmanship thereof was exceeding fine” (2. Ne. 5:16). Looking at what the Bible says about the construction of Solomon’s temple, we find that it took thirty thousand Israelites, a hundred and fifty thousand hewers of stone and carriers, three thousand three hundred supervisors (I Kings 5:13-16) and about seven years to build it. (See also I Kings 6.) And how many people could Lehi have had in his group after 19 years? The book further tells that in less than 30 years after arriving on this continent, they had multiplied so rapidly that they even divided into two great nations. Even the most rapid human reproduction could only have a few dozen in that brief time, and most of them still would be infants and children and about one-third older people. Not only did they divide into “two great nations,” but throughout the book, about every three or four years, they had devastating wars that killed thousands (i.e., Alma 28:2). Starting after the first 19 years or so, Laman and Lemuel and their descendants and followers (!) turned dark skinned because of their disobedience (2 Ne. 5:21). According to the Book of Mormon, dark skin color was a curse from God! This change of skin color is happening throughout the book. In 2 Ne. 30:6 we read that if Lamanites accepted the true gospel, they became “white and delightsome” (and since 1981 printing of the Book of Mormon, they become “pure”) but if they left this true gospel, they became “dark and loathsome.” People’s skin color does not change if they believe or do not believe! Nor is the skin color a curse! The Book of Mormon teaches that Indians originated from these Jewish settlers. Indians are distinctly Mongoloid – they have the “Mongoloid” blue spot, specific blood traits, and their facial features are of typical Asian origin, not Semitic at all. In Ether 7:8, 9, we read of steel and breakable windows (2:23) back in Abraham’s time! Try to explain that to an archaeologist! Steel was not even developed until about 1400 years later. At the end of the Book of Mormon, Moroni tells about a great battle that took place on the Hill Cumorah. Over two hundred thousand people, armed to their teeth, were killed on that hill. The story tells about their weapons, breastplates, helmets, swords, etc. Nothing has ever been found on that hill or anywhere else in this continent, as a matter of fact. Metal, helmets, swords, etc., do not disappear in a mere 1400 years. Before the LDS Church purchased the Hill Cumorah, it was literally dug full of holes and even caves, but nothing was ever found. (Joseph Smith even told about a cave inside of Hill Cumorah and how they – he and Oliver – went in and out of it. It supposedly had wagon loads of gold plates, Laban sword, etc.). When people dig for worms in the Holy Land, they make discoveries The Bible has been proven by archaeology, cities, places, coins, clothing, swords, etc., have been found, but not one single place mentioned in the Book of Mormon has ever been identified. There are still people in the LDS Church who believe that archaeology has proven, at least to a degree, the Book of Mormon. Some missionaries are still using slide presentations of ruins from Mexico and South America, implying that they prove the Book of Mormon. But they are from an entirely different time period. They are ruins of idol worshipers who offered human sacrifices.
In the mid 1970’s, President Spencer W. Kimball made a statement that should have stopped these “faith promoting rumors.” The Church News published it and it said to “stop looking for archaeological evidences for the Book of Mormon, for there is none,” he said. Perhaps he finally realized that it was too embarrassing to insist on Book of Mormon archaeology since professors in the Church’s own University had started to publicly deny that there was any truth to it. Professor Dee Green, in “Dialogue,” summer of 1969, pp. 74-78, wrote:
“The first myth we need to eliminate is that the Book of Mormon archaeology exists. Titles of books full of archaeological half-truths, dilettante on peripheries of American archaeology calling themselves Book of Mormon archaeologists regardless of their education, and a Department of Archaeology at BYU devoted to the production of Book of Mormon archaeologists do not insure that Book of Mormon archaeology really exists… no Book of Mormon location is known…Biblical archaeology can be studied, because we know where Jerusalem and Jericho were and are, but we do not know where Zarahemla and Bountiful (or any location for that matter) were or are…”
Many Mormon scholars have faced the truth and fully agree with Professor Green, but sadly enough, this “myth of the Book of Mormon archaeology” still surfaces from the general membership, who are not updated on these issues. Thomas S. Ferguson was a firm believer and he was sure that archaeology would prove the Book of Mormon. He was an attorney and believed that he knew how to weigh the evidence, once it was found. And a lot of “evidence” was found, but unfortunately for the LDS Church, the evidence did not have any connection to the Book of Mormon story. Thomas S. Ferguson spent hundreds of thousands of dollars and 25 years of his life as a head of “The New World Archaeological Foundation,” funded by the Church. But in spite of all the efforts, by 1970, he had come to the conclusion that all had been in vain and that Joseph Smith was not a prophet and that Mormonism was not true. Here was a man who had devoted his entire life, even before starting this foundation, to Mormonism. He had written a book called”One Fold and One Shepherd” in defense of Mormonism, but later he had to admit that the case against Joseph Smith was absolutely devastating and could not be explained away. “The Book of Abraham” was perhaps the final straw for him, as well as for many others who were more aware of the problems in Mormonism.
But there were others, i.e. B. H. Roberts, noted scholar in the Mormon Church and a General Authority, whose secret manuscript has only fairly recently been published, and who had come to question the Book of Mormon quite some time before Ferguson did. B. H. Roberts had written a typewritten manuscript “Book of Mormon Difficulties” of over 400 pages, sometime between 1922-1933, and in it he admitted that the Book of Mormon is in conflict with what is now known from 20th century archaeological investigation about the early inhabitants of America. After going into a lengthy explanation of impossibilities in the Book of Mormon he also says that he has come to discover things he didn’t know earlier in his life, for instance, that Joseph Smith did have access to a number of books that could have assisted him and given him ideas for the Book of Mormon. Roberts tells how Joseph’s mother wrote in her book, “History of Joseph Smith,” that long before Joseph had received the gold plates, he gave:
“…most amazing recitals… he would describe the ancient inhabitants of this continent, their dress, their mode of traveling, and the animals upon which they rode; their cities, their buildings, with every particular; their mode of warfare, and also their religious worship. This he would to with much ease, seemingly, as if he had spent his whole life among them.” (Quoted from B. H. Robert’s manuscript, page 280.)
Roberts then goes on to say that Joseph could have gotten his information from “knowledge” that existed in the community, because of the books like Ethan Smith’s “View of the Hebrews” (published nearby in 1823) and Josiah Priest’s book, “The Wonders of Nature and Providence,” published only 20 miles away, about one year later. That book had lots to say about the Hebrew origin of American Indians and their advanced culture and civilization. Roberts then asks:
“…Whence comes the young prophet’s ability to give these descriptions ‘with as much ease as if he had spent his whole life’ with these ancient inhabitants of America? Not from the Book of Mormon, which is as yet, a sealed book to him… These evening recitals could come from no other source than the vivid, constructive imagination of Joseph Smith, a remarkable power which attended him through all his life. It was as strong and varied as Shakespeare’s and no more to be accounted for than the English Bard’s.” (From B. H. Roberts’ typewritten manuscript, page 281.)
Prior to this, B. H. Roberts was known as a great defender of Mormonism, and he is still considered one of the greatest scholars the LDS Church has ever had. He wrote the six volume book “Comprehensive History of the Church,” and many other works as well. “Book of Mormon Difficulties, a Study” is now available in bookstores. There would be much, much more to say why the Book of Mormon is not an ancient record but an obvious production of a very intelligent and creative person, Joseph Smith, who used a number of books, including the Bible, to create this book. Interestingly enough though, not any of the important Mormon doctrines of today are in the book that the Church claims “contains the fullness of the everlasting Gospel.” (According to the General Authorities of the Church, “fullness of the Gospel” means that all doctrines leading to salvation in the celestial kingdom are in that book, and one wouldn’t even need any other books to find information for salvation.) The Book of Mormon teaches against today’ Mormon doctrine, for example, polygamy: Jacob 1:15, 2:22-27; 3:5; Mosiah 11:2; Ether 10:5; (polygamy is not practiced by the mainstream Church today, but it remains as a doctrine of the Church, see D&C 132); eternal progression (that God could have progressed from man to God): Alma 41:8, 3 Ne. 24:6; Mormon 9:9, 10, 19; Moroni 8:18, 23; secret combinations or oaths (temples): Mormon 8:27; 2 Ne. 9:9; 2 Ne. 26:22; Alma 34:36; 37:23, 31. IT TEACHES: that God created the heaven and the earth by His word: Mormon 9:17; Jacob 4:9; that there is only one God: Mosiah 7:27; 13:34; 15:1-5; 16:15; Alma 11:26-33, 38, 39, 44; and no work for the dead: Alma 34:32-33. Doctrines like temple or eternal marriage, priesthoods, etc., are not in the Book of Mormon, and, as we have already mentioned, one can see that this book speaks against polygamy, work for the dead, oaths (temple), men becoming gods, that there is more than one God, etc. It becomes quite obvious to an investigator of Mormonism, that Joseph Smith changed his mind about who God is after 1842 or so. He contradicted the Book of Mormon with the Doctrine and Covenants, i.e.: Alma 34:36, “And this I know, because the Lord hath said he dwelleth not in unholy temples, but in the hearts of the righteous doth he dwell…” and D&C 130:3, “…the idea that the Father and the Son dwell in a man’s heart is an old sectarian notion, and is false”; and the Book of Mormon, Jacob 4:9 “For behold, by the power of his word man came upon the face of the earth, which earth was created by the power of his word. Wherefore, if God being able to speak and the world was, and to speak and man was created…”, and “the Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith,” page 350: “…men who are preaching salvation, say that God created the heavens and earth out of nothing? The reason is, that they are unlearned in the things of God… God never had the power to create the spirit of man at all.” He then started to teach that his God had once been a mere mortal man, etc.
In November, 1967, when discovered Egyptian Papyri was given back by the Metropolitan Museum to the Mormon Church, it brought a great amount of excitement into the hearts of Mormons. Finally there was something concrete that an “angel didn’t take away” that could once and for all prove to the doubting people that Joseph Smith really was a prophet of God and had a God-given gift or ability to translate. We read from the Pearl of Great Price the following introduction to the Book of Abraham.
“TRANSLATED FROM THE PAPYRUS BY JOSEPH SMITH. A TRANSLATION OF SOME ANCIENT RECORDS, THAT HAVE FALLEN INTO OUR HANDS FROM THE CATACOMBS OF EGYPT – THE WRITINGS OF ABRAHAM WHILE HE WAS IN EGYPT, CALLED THE BOOK OF ABRAHAM, WRITTEN BY HIS OWN HAND, UPON PAPYRUS.”
This papyri was written in Egyptian language and this would prove that if Joseph Smith’s translation of papyri was correct, it would be possible that he could have translated the Book of Mormon from “reformed Egyptian.” But problems started to surface very soon after the First Presidency had given the papyri to Professor Hugh Nibley of BYU to translate it or to find a translator capable to do so. (By the way, why not the current prophet of the Church? Shouldn’t he have done it?) Now, if this papyri was written by Abraham “by his own hand,” as Joseph Smith had said, it should be at least about 4000 years old. After this papyri was evaluated, even Professor Nibley had to agree that it was a production of not older than the first century A.D. Thus Abraham couldn’t have written it. That was the first blow. The second was that after it was given to several qualified Egyptologists, it was clearly shown not to be what the Book of Abraham said it was. Expectations of the Church members’ had been high. Dr. Sidney B. Perry, one of the most noted scholars, had said:
“The little volume of Scripture known as the Book of Abraham will someday be recognized as one of the most remarkable documents in existence. It is evident that writings of Abraham while he was in Egypt, of which our printed Book of Abraham is a copy, must of necessity be older than original text of Genesis…” (Dr. Sidney B. Sperry, “Ancient Records Testify in Papyrus and Stone” 1938, page 39.)
Now that the papyri had been located and proven by the leaders of the Church and its scholars to be the very one Joseph Smith had translated, the question was: does it read the same as what Joseph Smith’s translation said? It was very quickly discovered to be nothing more than a pagan burial record, called the “Book of Breathings,” a short portion of the “Book of the Dead.” Egyptologist, James Henry Breasted, tells that the Book of the Dead is chiefly a book of magical charms. It was written by a very superstitious people and is quite different from the religion taught in the Bible. Mormon writers have admitted that this is the case. (From his book, “Development of Religion and Thought in Ancient Egypt,” New York, 1969, p. 308.) “There has been a lot of things written and suggestions made trying to justify the fact that not one mention of Abraham, not his name, not his faith, nothing at all is on this papyri, only pagan beliefs and instructions on afterlife as believed in Egypt.” LDS doctrine on blacks and the priesthood is (was) based on this Book of Abraham. The Utah Mormon Church has not removed this book from their scriptures, but it is interesting to note that the RLDS Church that is directed by the direct descendants of Joseph Smith made this statement in “The New York Times” on May 3, 1970, “…it may be helpful to suggest, that the Book of Abraham represents simply the product of Joseph Smith’s imagination…”
The RLDS Church removed the book from among their scriptures. The only thing that the Utah Mormon Church did, was to allow blacks (1978) to have the priesthood. But all in all, thinking people started to see that a huge shadow was now cast also on the Book of Mormon.
Mormon writer, Klaus Hansen, made some remarks in “Dialogue A Journal of Mormon Thought,” summer 1970, p. 110:
“…To a professional historian, for example, the recent translation of the Joseph Smith papyri may well present the potentially most damaging case against Mormonism since its foundation. Yet the ‘Powers That Be’ at the Church Historian’s Office should take comfort in the fact that almost total lack of response to this translation is an uncanny proof of Frank Kermode’s observation that even the most devastating acts of disconfirmation will have no effect whatever on true believers. Perhaps an even more telling response is that of the ‘liberals,’ or cultural Mormons. After the Joseph Smith’s papyri affair, one might have well expected a mass exodus of these people from the Church. Yet none has occurred. Why? Because cultural Mormons, of course, do not believe in the historical authenticity of Mormon scriptures in the first place. So there is nothing to disconfirm.”
Polygamy, as we have mentioned at the beginning, was the issue that led to the killing of Joseph Smith. Investigation of the records shows that Joseph Smith practiced polygamy from the early 1830’s on. William Clayton was Joseph Smith’s personal secretary and scribe until his death. William Clayton’s diary has been a source for many revelations published in the Doctrine and Covenants. Clayton’s diary tells also how the “revelation” on polygamy came to be. Stated briefly, it came as a result of a discussion between Joseph, his brother Hyrum, and William Clayton, who wrote it down. Emma, Joseph’s wife, had been suspecting Joseph of having affairs with other women, i.e., Fanny Alger about 1831 and from then on. Family life was not very happy and calm. Joseph was relating this to his brother Hyrum and William Clayton. Hyrum suggested that Joseph would write a “revelation” where God gives instructions for Joseph to have other wives. Joseph doubted Emma would believe that. However, William Clayton wrote it down and Hyrum took it to Emma. EMMA DID NOT BELIEVE IT. Later on, Joseph somehow convinced Emma to accept it, which she did for a short time, but after Joseph’s death, Emma went into a total denial of polygamy as if it had never happened. Many thought that her reasons were to protect her children and their memory of their father. Utah LDS Church’s historian, Andrew Jensen, in 1887, taking from the enormous files of then secret manuscript material in the Salt Lake City Church Library, compiled the first list of 27 wives of Joseph Smith. Genealogical Archives were used to add another 21. Nauvoo Temple records were the main source. Fanny Alger was his first plural wife, married to Joseph in 1834. If one looks at the D&C from 1890, it says that revelation was GIVEN July 12, 1843. “History of the Church,” vol. 5. pages 500-501, also says that it was GIVEN that day, but now D&C section 132 says that it was RECORDED July 12, 1843 – implying that it could have been given at an earlier date. This kind of altering of the records of the Church can be noticed quite often by comparing the earlier printings with the more recent ones. Obvious attempts were thus made to save some integrity, since Joseph Smith had made a number of public denials of even knowing anything about polygamy. He and the Church leaders denied it publicly, but practiced it secretly. In the first edition of the Doctrine and Covenants, printed in 1835, in Section 101:4, there is denial of polygamy, calling it a “crime of fornication…” This remained in the D&C until 1876, when it was removed, and Section 132 added about God commanding the practice of polygamy.
Joseph Smith (and later Brigham Young, also) were even married to women who, at the time of marriage, were still other men’s wives. Historical Records of these strange marriages are available. A few examples might be proper to take here: Prescinda Hunginton Buell, wife of Norman Buell, later also a wife of Heber C. Kimball. She had married Norman Buell in 1827 and they had two children. Joseph married her in the fall of 1838 and had a child by her. She continued to be married to Buell also. Nancy Marinda Johnson Hyde, wife of Orson Hyde, was also one of Joseph’s wives. That caused Orson Hyde to leave the Church for a while, but he came back later. Geneological Archives in Salt Lake City show that Nancy Hyde was later sealed to Joseph Smith on July 30, 1857, years after Joseph Smith’s death. Zina Diantha Huntington Jacobs, later wife of Brigham Young, was married to Henry Jacobs on March 7, 1841, and seven and one-half months later, to Joseph Smith, on October 27, 1841. Zina never divorced her husband Henry Jacobs, but after Joseph’s death, Brigham publicly told Jacobs: “The woman you claim for a wife does not belong to you. She is a spiritual wife of brother Joseph, sealed to him. I am his proxy, and she, in his behalf, with her children, are my property. You can go where you please and get another…” Jacobs obviously accepted Brigham’s decision for he stood as a witness when in the Nauvoo Temple, in January 1846, Zina was sealed to Brigham Young for time, and Joseph Smith for eternity. Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lightner, wife of Adam Lightner, claimed later that Joseph had told her that an angel came to him with drawn sword, and commanded Joseph in 1834 to take her as his wife. She was then only 17. In her diary, she wrote that she was sealed and married to Joseph in the Masonic Hall in Nauvoo and sealed again in the Nauvoo Temple by Heber C. Kimball. She later came to Salt Lake City and remained in the Church, even though her husband never joined the Church. The reason why Andrew Jensen, in 1887, did this research on polygamy, was to prove that Joseph Smith did practice polygamy, since RLDS Church was denying that he ever did.
When Oliver Cowdery in 1838 had accused Joseph of these adulterous affairs, Joseph had Oliver excommunicated. The controversy over polygamy was the underlying reason for the death of Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum. William Law’s wife had confessed that she had an affair with Joseph. William Law left the Church and started a publication called “Nauvoo Expositor.” One issue was published and the second one was going to print when Joseph found out that William Law was going to print his wife’s confession in that issue. Joseph had the press destroyed and the building burned. That caused his arrest and, consequently, his death. But he did not die as a martyr, as is claimed by the Church. John Taylor, third president of the church, who was in the prison with Joseph and Hyrum at the time, tells the following in the “Gospel Kingdom,” page 360:
“Joseph opened the door slightly, and snapped the pistol six successive times… afterwards (I) understood that two or three were wounded by these discharges, two of whom, I am informed, died.”
The same account is also in the History of the Church, vol. 6, p. XLI and pages 617-618. It was too bad that Joseph Smith was thus killed, but he did not die like a martyr who went “as a lamb to the slaughter” as is claimed by the LDS Church. HE DIED IN A GUNFIGHT, and killed two people before he was shot. Joseph acted as a Mason at the time of his death. John Taylor tells also that Joseph went to the window and made a Masonic distress sign after his gun was empty, hoping that Masons, if there were any among this mob, would rescue him, according to the Masonic oath “to defend one another, right or wrong.”
The Mormon Temple Ceremony compares quite exactly with the Masonic Ceremony, signs, tokens and penalties included. Joseph, Hyrum, Brigham, and others, were Masons. (Cult experts consider Masonic religion to be a Satanic Cult.) Six weeks after Joseph Smith and other Mormons were expelled from the Masonic order, Joseph Smith introduced the Masonic ceremony as the temple ceremony “received as a revelation from God.” When Dr. Reed Durham, director of LDS Institute of Religion, made his discovery of this in 1974, and gave his speech on the subject of the Mormon-Mason connection in front of the Utah History Association on April 20, 1974, he was highly criticized for making this matter public. He also showed the Jupiter talisman and explained that Joseph had had it from 1826 (the same year he was convicted on money-digging charges and being a believer in magic), and that Joseph had this Jupiter talisman on him at the time of his death. The talisman contains symbols relating to astrology and magic. There were other magical items discovered at the same time that belonged to Hyrum Smith. The Patriarch of the Church, Eldridge Smith, supposedly has them in his possession. (And by the way, what has become of Patriarch Eldridge Smith?)
Teachings of the LDS Church became even stranger after Brigham led the Mormons to the Salt Lake Valley. Now they thought they were free to practice what had been illegal elsewhere… i.e., polygamy and blood atonement.
Brigham Young made polygamy public from 1852 on in Utah, even though they still denied it outside of Utah. From this same year on, he started to teach that “Adam is God and Father and the only God with whom we have to do” and that Adam was the father of human spirits as well as Jesus’ physical father. (For these, see the Journal of Discourses, vol. 1, pp. 50-51; vol. 4, p. 1; vol. 5, pp. 331-332, etc.) The LDS Church has issued denials saying that Adam-God doctrine was never taught, but records clearly show that Brigham Young taught it, not only by mentioning it once or twice, but that he taught it from 1852 until his death in 1877. Let’s look at some of his statements:
“Now hear it, O inhabitants of the earth, Jew and Gentile, Saint and sinner! 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 organize the world. He is Michael, the Arc-angel, 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. Every man upon the earth, professing Christians or non-professing, must hear it, and will know it sooner or later… the earth was organized by three distinct characters, namely, Eloheim, Yahovah, and Michael, these three forming a quorum, as in heavenly bodies, and in organizing element, perfectly represented in the Deity, as Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.” Journal of Discourses, vol. 1, pp. 50-51.
This teaching was repeated and carried on in the other Church’s writings throughout the years. For example, in the Millenial Star, vol. 17, page 195, we read:
“… every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess that he (Adam) is God of the whole earth. Then will the words of the prophet Brigham Young, WHEN SPEAKING OF ADAM, be fully realized – ‘HE IS OUR FATHER AND OUR GOD, AND THE ONLY GOD WITH WHOM WE HAVE TO DO.'”
Further in the Millenial Star, vol. 16, page 530, we read the counsel by James A. Little: “I believe in the principal of obedience; and if I am told that Adam is our Father and our God, I just believe it.” The records show that there were only two leaders in the Church who had difficulty with this doctrine, namely apostles Orson Pratt and Amasa Lyman. In one of Brigham’s sermons, printed in the “Deseret News,” June 14, 1873, Brigham declared:
“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… Our Father Adam helped to make this earth, it was created expressly for him. He brought one of his wives with him. Who is he? He is Michael… 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 (Adam) said: “I WANT MY CHILDREN THAT WERE BORN TO ME IN THE SPIRIT WORLD TO COME HERE AND TAKE TABERNACLES OF FLESH THAT THEIR SPIRITS MAY HAVE A HOUSE, A TABERNACLE, OR A DWELLING PLACE AS MINE HAS” and where is the mystery?”
Brigham Young clearly taught for over 20 years as a doctrine the following:
- 1) “ADAM NOT MADE OF THE DUST OF THIS EARTH” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 2, p. 6);
- 2) “ADAM IS THE ONLY GOD WITH WHOM WE HAVE TO DO,” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 1, p. 50)
- 3) “ADAM IS THE FATHER OF OUR SPIRITS” (Deseret News, 14. June 1873
- 4) ADAM, THE FATHER OF JESUS CHRIST (Journal of Discourses, vol. 1, pp. 50-51).
- Heber C. Kimball, the First Counselor to Brigham Young, also taught:“I have learned by experience that there is but one God that pertains to this people, and he is the God that pertains to this earth – THE FIRST MAN. THAT FIRST MAN SENT HIS OWN SON TO REDEEM THE WORLD…” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 4, p. 1.)Brigham Young had claimed that God Himself had revealed this doctrine to him. Brigham also had claimed that his sermons were “as good as scripture” (J. of D., vol. 13, p. 166). If that is so, then how can the LDS Church today logically reject his teachings that he said came from his God? – (Who was Brigham’s God? Joseph Smith had said: “Some revelations are from God: some revelations are of man: and some are of the devil…” – “Address to All Believers in Christ”, p. 31. – Who determines the source of the revelations, the followers or the prophet?) – Further, if Brigham Young was wrong, how can the modern Church accept him as an authority from God? The LDS Church teaches that there must be an unbroken link of true prophets after the restoration, otherwise the authority would be lost. Contradicting Brigham Young now only proves the incredibility of both the modern Church and Brigham Young, and breaks the link.
One could go on and on about these teachings that clearly show the non-Christian nature of the LDS Church. But let’s look now at some of the LDS Church’s teachings of today about Adam: In the Doctrine and Covenants 27:11, Adam is referred to as the Ancient of Days, spoken by Daniel the prophet ( in Daniel 7:9-14.) But the Ancient of Days is one of the names of GOD ALMIGHTY in the Bible, not Adam. There is absolutely no question about that! There is also no question that the LDS Church believes and teaches that Adam is that one, the Ancient of Days, who will judge the world. Apostle Bruce R. McConkie, in his book, “Mormon Doctrine,” page 34 says:
“Adam is known as the Ancient of Days… In this capacity he will yet sit in formal judgment upon ‘ten thousand times ten thousand’…”
In the Temple ceremony, Michael, the Archangel, is one of the creators of the world and he then “becomes” Adam. According to Mormonism, “GODS” created the world, (see Pearl of Great Price, Abraham 4 and 5), Adam being one of them, one of three gods. It is clearly implied that he is God. There are more writings and documented evidence to this fact.
What does the LDS Church teach about Jesus Christ? First of all, it is already documented above that Brigham Young taught that he (Jesus) was a spirit child of Adam and spirit brother of all human kind, as well as a brother of angels, spirit beings, even the fallen ones, i.e., Jesus being a brother of Lucifer. Brigham further taught that he (Jesus) was also physically a son of Adam, who, as an exalted, resurrected being, came to Mary and fathered Jesus. Brigham has emphasized that Jesus was not begotten by the Holy Ghost, as the Bible says. This teaching shows that Jesus of the LDS Church is not “Emmanuel,” “God with us;” God, who, according to the Bible (Matt. 1:23), became a man for us, to be our Redeemer. Jesus of the LDS Church is a created being, who also had to be redeemed… But, Jesus of the Bible is The Creator – UNCREATED GOD who created everything, including Lucifer (John 1:3; Col.1:16). Let’s look at the modern teachings of the LDS Church: President Ezra Taft Benson said, in his book, “Come unto Christ,” page 4:
“…The body in which He performed His mission in the flesh was SIRED by that Holy Being we worship as God, our Eternal Father. Jesus was not the son of Joseph, nor was He begotten by the Holy Ghost. He is the Son of the Eternal Father.”
Bruce R. McConkie, in his book, Mormon Doctrine, on page 742, says:
“God the Father is a perfected, glorified, holy Man, an immortal Personage. And Christ was born into the world as the literal Son of this Holy Being; he was born in the same personal, real, and literal sense that any mortal son is born to a mortal father. There is nothing figurative about this paternity; he was BEGOTTEN, CONCEIVED and born in the normal and natural course of events, for he is the Son of God, and that designation means what it says.” McConkie, in the same book, pages 546-547, says further, under the heading “ONLY BEGOTTEN SON”: “…Each word is to be understood literally. Only means only; Begotten means begotten; and Son means son. Christ was begotten by an Immortal Father in the SAME WAY THAT MORTAL MEN ARE BEGOTTEN BY THEIR MORTAL FATHERS.”
This is not what the Bible says. The Bible tells that a Virgin will conceive and bring forth a Son, who is called Emmanuel, meaning “God with us” (not a brother with us!) (Matt. 1:18-23) Mary of the LDS Church was not a Virgin who brought forth a son, but a “wife” of the heavenly Father, whom Brigham declared to be Adam. Orson Pratt, an apostle, told in his doctrinal book entitled, “The Seer,” page 158:
“…The fleshly body of Jesus required a Mother as well as a Father. Therefore, the Father and Mother of Jesus, according to the flesh, must have been associated together in the capacity of Husband and Wife; hence the Virgin Mary must have been, for the time being, the lawful wife of God the Father. Inasmuch as God was the first HUSBAND TO HER (Mary), it may be that He only gave her to be the wife of Joseph while in this mortal state, and that He intended after the resurrection to again take her as one of his own wives to raise up immortal spirits in eternity…”
The leaders of the LDS Church have also taught that their Jesus was married and had children, and that he was even a polygamist. Apostle Orson Pratt, in his book, The Seer, page 172, says:
“…the great Messiah who was the founder of the Christian religion was a Polygamist…the Messiah chose to take upon himself his seed; and by marrying many honorable wives himself, show to all future generations that he approved the plurality of Wives under Christian dispensation… The son followed the example of his Father, and became the great Bridegroom to whom kings’ daughters and many of the honorable Wives were to be married. We have also proved that both God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ inherit their wives in eternity as well as in time…”
Joseph Fielding Smith, who was the president of the LDS Church in 1970’s, said, in an answer to a question: “Was Jesus married?” – “Yes, but do not throw pearls to the swine!” We can clearly see that the LDS church still believes that Jesus was married, but doesn’t want to “throw pearls to the swine” or to reveal this to the non-Mormons.
Bernard P. Brockbank, in the LDS Church’s 147th General Conference, said that the CHRIST FOLLOWED BY THE MORMONS IS NOT THE CHRIST FOLLOWED BY TRADITIONAL CHRISTIANITY; he said:
“… It is true that many of the Christian churches worship A DIFFERENT JESUS CHRIST than is worshipped by the Mormons…” (“The Ensign,” May 1977, p. 26.)
In summary, Jesus of the LDS Church is not Jesus of the Bible. God of the LDS Church is not God of the Bible. Joseph Smith said that there is “A GOD ABOVE THE FATHER OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST…” and in Mormon Doctrine, pages 332-323, we read: “…If Jesus Christ was the Son of God, and … God the Father of Jesus Christ had a Father, you may suppose that he had a Father also. Where was there ever a son without a father? …Hence if Jesus had a Father, can we not believe that he had a Father also?” Joseph Smith, in 1844, as recorded in the Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pages 344-347, first told the audience that: “…every man has a natural, and, in our country, a constitutional right to be a FALSE PROPHET, as well as a true one…” Then on the next page, he says: “…I am going to tell you how God came to be God. We have imagined and supposed that God was God from all eternity. I will refute that idea and take away the veil, so that you may see.” He tells that “…God himself was once as we are now..and you got to learn how to be Gods yourselves… the same as all Gods have done before you…”
The God of the Bible says: “…Is there a God beside me? Yea, there is no God; I KNOW NOT ANY.” (Is. 44:10) If God had a father and he had a father and so on, God of the Bible surely would know that! In the Bible, God calls us to “know,” to “believe” and to “understand” who He is. He says: “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.” (Isaiah 43:10) To Joseph Smith and to all Mormons, that simply means: THEY WILL NOT BECOME GODS! They cannot “learn” how to become gods! God of the Bible says so! God says: “I AM THE LORD, AND THERE IS NONE ELSE, THERE IS NO GOD BESIDE ME…” (Is. 45:5) God tells what happens to the false prophets who try to lead people after other gods: “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 the 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 HAD SPOKEN TO TURN YOU AWAY FROM THE LORD YOUR GOD…” (Deut. 13:1-5) It is interesting to note that about six weeks after Joseph Smith had preached this sermon (in April 1844), that men will and can become gods and that God was not God from all eternity, Joseph was killed!! Coincidence?? (Orthodox Jews have a saying: “Coincidence is not a kosher word!”)
The Bible tells that God is God “from everlasting to everlasting” (Ps. 90:2), and when speaking about Messiah, GOD BECOMING A MAN (not a man becoming God!) it says: “For unto us a child is born, unto us the son is given:.. and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, THE EVERLASTING FATHER, THE PRINCE OF PEACE” (Is. 9:6), and “Art thou not from EVERLASTING, O LORD MY GOD, MINE HOLY ONE?” (Hab. 1:12) To the believers of the God of the Bible are given these comforting words: ‘THE ETERNAL GOD IS THY REFUGE, AND UNDERNEATH ARE THE EVERLASTING ARMS…” (Deut. 33:27) To the followers of Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and today’s LDS prophets, we would like to say, as Joshua said to Israel: “…choose you this day whom ye will serve… but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:15)
In the English Bible (KJV), whenever the word LORD is in all capital letters, in Hebrew it is a name of God, represented by consonants JHWH (Hebrews didn’t dare to pronounce it) and it is translated both LORD or GOD. When God spoke to Moses, He declared Himself to be God, the Great I AM, and He told that by His name JHWH (JE-HO-VAH) he was not known to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. This was the first time that He revealed His name (Exodus 6:3).
Throughout the Bible, the words “I AM THE LORD YOUR GOD” (i.e., Ex. 6:7) or “I THE LORD GOD” are used by God to tell the prophet who is speaking. The word LORD (JHWH) and the word GOD (ELOHYIM) (Eloheim) are used as in the example above: I, THE LORD GOD, (not we, like Mormon doctrine teaches). Speaking of the Godhead, “Mormon Doctrine,” page 576, says: “…As each of these persons is a God, it is evident, from this standpoint alone, that a plurality of Gods exists.” In Hebrew, the word EL means God, word Eloheim is plural form of the word (similarly, the word Cherub is singular and the word Cherubim is plural). When we read in our English Bible: “I AM THE LORD YOURGOD,” if we put it back into Hebrew, it would read: “I am JHWH your Eloheim.” One doesn’t get two gods from it – but only one God. Trinity is not mentioned in the Bible as a word, but plurality of persons in ONE GOD is clearly demonstrated throughout the Bible. The Bible came to us through Israel. To the Jew there is but one God, JHWH. Deut. 6:4 is what Jews repeat daily and with their dying breath say: “Hear, O Israel, LORD our GOD is one LORD” or in Hebrew: “Hear, O Israel, JHWH our Eloheim is JHWH.” Most people agree that Father is God. The Bible teaches that Jesus is God (i.e., John 1:1, 14; 20:28), and that Holy Ghost is God (comp. Acts 5:3 and 4, and 1 Cor. 3:17 with 6:19), but the Bible also teaches that THERE IS ONLY ONE GOD. In Is. 45, verses 5, 6, 14, 18, 21, 22, God says that there is no other God or Lord. Other examples: Deut. 4:35 and 39; 32:39; I Sam. 2:2; II Sam. 7:22; 22:32, I Kings 8:60; Ps. 18:31; Jer. 10:10; Gal. 3:20; Eph. 4:6; Mark 12:32 and 34. In James 2:19, it tells that even demons know that there is only one God. Why is it that the LDS Church doesn’t know that? The LDS Church often says that there is more than one god, because God, in Gen. 1:26, says: “And God said, let us make man in our image…” Note that there is only one image, and the next verse clears it by saying: “So God created man in HIS own image… in the image f God created HE them: (Not WE!) The word Eloheim (GOD) refers to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, but the verb is in the singular in every case where plural form Eloheim appears. Examples of what God says about Himself: “I, the Lord God” (I JHWH Eloheim), not “we”, (JHWH and Eloheim) or “I AM THE LORD YOUR GOD,” not, “we are” JHWH and Eloheim.
Since the Bible declares itself as being God’s word, it doesn’t “argue” about God. The Bible clearly tells that His ways and thoughts are far above our thoughts, but that through the Holy Spirit we will learn to understand what He has done for us and how great His love is towards us. God has given us a simple way, one way, narrow way. Let no one confuse you of that. Jesus said: “I am the way, the truth and the life.” He said, in John 17:3: “…this is eternal life to know thee the only true God and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.” Just because you may have believed previously false teachings of the LDS Church, it doesn’t mean that you cannot now accept the truth from God’s Word, the Bible.
Questions to Dennis and Rauni Higley can be sent to: