“Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” (1. Thess. 5:21.)
LDS Church’s claims are such that they must be examined carefully, for if Joseph Smith indeed was a prophet, and all LDS prophets after him have been speaking for God, then we all must listen to what the LDS church says.
But if he is found to be a deceiver then he should be exposed as such. God expects us to examine, test the spirits that give “testimonies” or feelings (1 John 4:1) and prove all things by His Word (1 Thess. 5:21). We must not be lazy and gullible. God has warned that many false prophets will come and claim to be true prophets. (1 Tim. 4:1; Matt. 24:24; Mark 13:22.) The test of a prophet is found in Deut. 13:1-5. Did Joseph Smith lead his followers after other gods than the only true God of the Bible? (See articles: Mormon doctrine of God the Father and Godhead and Mormon doctrine of Jesus.)
The Mormon Church claims that God and His Son Jesus Christ visited Joseph Smith in 1820, when he was just a young lad, and told him that all Christian creeds (churches) were wrong and abomination in His sight, and that those professing faith among them were all corrupt. He further claimed he was told not to join any of them.
Pearl of Great Price (hereafter PoGP) –Joseph Smith 1:17-19
Verse 17: “…I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake to me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other – This is my beloved Son, Hear Him!
Verse 18: “My object in going to inquire of the Lord was to know which of all the sects was right, that I might know which to join…”
Verse 19: “I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors(those who professed to believe what was taught) were all corrupt….”
This vision of God and Jesus is known in the LDS church as The First Vision account. What most Mormons do not know is that this story, as it appears today in the PoGP, was not known to anyone until he dictated it in 1838, and most Mormons did not know about it until it was published, for the first time, in The Times and Seasons, in 1842. LDS Church’s own scholars have done research into this story and have found 8-9 different versions of it. The first mention of this vision was written by Joseph Smith himself, but not until 1832, 12 years after the fact (as now claimed) and two years after organizing his church and publishing the Book of Mormon (hereafter BoM). At that time, (1832) Joseph Smith began to tell his story and how the Mormon Church came to be. This first account (of 1832), written by his own hand, is very different from the official account most Mormons today are familiar with (PoGP Joseph Smith – History 1:17-19), which was published 22 years after it supposedly had happened.Most Mormons believe it to be the only version of his first vision. Just comparing his handwritten account with the version Mormons know today, we find that in his 1832 story he said, “the Lord opened the heavens upon me and I saw the LORD”, but in the 1838 version both God and His Son Jesus appeared to him in the sacred grove. The other 6 or 7 accounts report that an angel or angels appeared to him, but the main message was the same in all of them: not to join any of the existing churches, for they were all wrong. Even Joseph Smith’s own family did not seem to know anything at all about God the Father and His Son visiting Joseph Smith in 1820, for if they did, they did not tell anyone or say anything about it.
It was the Book of Mormon that was said to be foundational to beginning of the church, not the so-called First Vision.
In the Doctrine and Covenants (D&C), prior to 1981 editions, on the introduction page, it says that Joseph Smith “received visitations from Moroni, an angel of light, who revealed a resting place of the ancient record from which the Book of Mormon was afterwards translated.” Introduction to the Doctrine and Covenants, 1977 printing.
(See also 2 Cor. 11:13-15.) [See also Mormon Doctrine, p. 35, under the heading: ANGEL OF LIGHT – Reference: See Devil]
These angelic visits about the Book of Mormon came, one year apart, from September 1823 until September 1827, when Joseph Smith claimed to have received the gold plates from angel Moroni (in his own account of 1838, he said that angel’s name was Nephi). (See: Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, p. 203).
The Book of Commandments (BoC), later named The Doctrine and Covenants, (hereafter D&C) says that it was the Book of Mormon, not the first vision, as known today in the church, that constituted Joseph Smith’s “call…to this holy work” (BoC 24:1-11 and D&C 20:1-11.) During that time period (from 1823-1827), when Joseph Smith claimed to have received annual visits from an angel Nephi (name later changed to Moroni), in preparation for his work as a prophet of God, Joseph was (in 1826) arrested and tried for illegal “glass-looking” activities, a type of fortune telling. He had professed to know, by looking into a stone he put in his hat where buried treasures could be found, and people paid him for this information. (Court record of his arrest and trial is in existence. Photocopy of his arrest record. Here)
Later Joseph Smith used this same “seer-stone” he placed in his hat in translating the Book of Mormon.
“The Seer Stone referred to here was a chocolate-colored, somewhat egg-shaped stone which the Prophet found while digging a well….”
(A Comprehensive History of the Church, Vol. 1, p. 129)
”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 his 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 under it was the interpretation in English. Brother Joseph would read off the English to Oliver Cowdery, who was his principal scribe, and when it was written down and repeated to Brother Joseph to see if it was correct, then it would disappear, and an other character with the interpretation would appear. Thus the Book of Mormon was translated by the gift and power of God, and not by any power of man.” (Address to All Believers in Christ, p. 12, written by David Whitmer, one of the witnesses of the BoM.)
“Martin Harris’ description of the manner of translating while he was an amanuensis to the Prophet is as follows:
‘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, the 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’.” (A Comprehensive History of the Church, Vol. 1, p. 129)
According to a testimony of David Whitmer and others, the Book of Mormon “translation” was “given” to Joseph Smith by God, word for word. Corrections, additions and alterations made later then would mean that they were correcting God! [Nearly 4000 changes/corrections have been made into the BoM since its first printing.] Question: Which edition of the English BoM is the “true BoM” Mormons testify of? What about all the translations to various languages of this English “translation”? Are they only “accurate as far as translated correctly” as the LDS Church’s 8th Article of Faith says about the Bible? The Hebrew (and Aramaic) text for the Old Testament and Greek text for the New Testament are available to compare for correctness of translation, but there is no “reformed Egyptian” text of the BoM available to see if it was correctly translated into English!
Well known and respected late LDS General Authority and historian, B. H. Roberts, wrote the Studies of the Book of Mormon, in which he reports how the BoM came to be – demonstrating that it is a 19thcentury product, and not an ancient document he himself had previously believed it was. Roberts’ book was in a manuscript form till 1985 when two LDS professors, Brigham D. Madsen and Sterling M. McMurrin, obtained permission from the Marriott Library of the University of Utah to publish it. It had been donated to the University by Roberts’ family, along with Roberts’ other unpublished papers. Roberts makes four major points in his 375-page study. One of them is that the BoM is in direct conflict with what is known about ancient Americans. It presents them as living in Iron Age culture, but the fact is that they were only on a Stone Age level. (Studies, pp. 107-112.) The BoM declares that the Jaredites came to the New World (about 2000 B.C.), “where there never had man been” (Ether 2:5), and that they later fought themselves to total extinction. The BoM says that the Nephites came to the New World about 588 B.C., to a land that was kept from the knowledge of other nations … that they may possess this land unto themselves.” (2 Nephi 1:8-11.) Roberts agrees that the BoM presents only what was commonly known during the 19th century about the American Indians, even the erroneous idea that they were Hebrews, assumed to be from the “lost tribes of Israel”. This “common knowledge” or assumption, was summarized in Rev. Ethan Smith’s religious novel, “View of the Hebrews”, that was published in 1823; the second and enlarged edition of it was printed in 1825 (seven and five years before the BoM).
The View of the Hebrews was published in a small town where Oliver Cowdery was living. Its author, Rev. Ethan Smith, was Oliver Cowdery’s family’s minister. Oliver Cowdery was a relative of Joseph Smith and his main scribe-assistant in producing the BoM.
B. H. Roberts says that Ethan Smith’s book provided a “ground plan for the Book of Mormon”. (Studies, p. 240; pp. 151-242.) Ethan Smith’s book and the BoM both present Native Americans as Hebrews, who sailed from the Old World to Americas. Both books claim that the people split into two nations, one highly civilized and the other one that lived like savages. Both books report that the savage portion later completely destroyed the civilized group. Both books present these settlers as having a knowledge and understanding of the Christian gospel, (in the BoM before Christ–era), and they both report that a white God had visited them. Roberts asks, “Can such a numerous and startling points of resemblance and suggestive contact, be merely coincidence?” (Studies, p. 242.) One very important point Roberts establishes is the fact that Joseph Smith had sufficient imaginative powers of mind to produce the BoM. He says that Smith’s creativity was “as strong and varied as Shakespeare’s and no more to be accounted for that the English Bard’s.” (Studies, p. 244.) Roberts points out many errors and impossibilities resulting from Joseph Smith’s untrained, though creative mind. One of many examples of obvious errors Roberts reports is a “three-day journey” they supposedly made, on foot, from Jerusalem to the Red Sea, which is 170-mile trip! When they arrived in the New World, which the BoM says, has been “kept from all other nations”, they found domesticated animals – “the cow and the ox, and the ass and the horse, and the goat and the wild goat.” (1 Nephi 18:25.)
The BoM copies from the Old Testament, not only from before 600 B.C. era, when Lehi & co. supposedly lived in Jerusalem, but also from the parts of the Old Testament written after Lehi’s departure from Jerusalem. It even quotes from the New Testament that Nephites could not possibly have had any knowledge of. Alma’s life in the BoM is a clear copy of Paul’s life in the New Testament.
(Some examples to compare:
3 Nephi 8:15-18 is a copy of John 14:11; 1:11-12 and Rev. 22:13.
3 Nephi 11:33-34 is taken from Mark 16:16.
3 Nephi 15:17 is taken from John 10:16;
3 Nephi 17: 10, 14 and 21 is a copy of Luke 7:38; John 11:33, 35 and Mark 10:16 etc., etc.)
It is obvious that many sections of the BoM are borrowed from the King James Version of the Bible. Joseph Smith placed Old World happenings in an ancient American context. He even copied now known KJV translation’s linguistic errors into the BoM. Even the words that are in italics, representing King James translators’ notes or clarifications, are found in the Book of Mormon. (As example of this, compare Mosiah 14 in the BoM and Isaiah 53 in the KJV.) Comparison of Mosiah 14 and Isaiah 53 here.
From Jacob 1 through Alma 42, we can find literally hundreds of KJV passages, most of them only slightly altered. Roberts also finds typical revival sermon messages from Smith’s time period, preached in Smith’s hometown, and ideas presented in them are repeated all throughout the BoM. (Studies, p. 308.) Again, Roberts finds that portions of the New Testament are placed to before Christ-era in the BoM, and words like Christians, Jesus Christ, church, baptism etc. are used several hundred years before Christ, but none of the important Jewish Feasts or practices are even mentioned, not even Passover, and yet these BoM people were supposed to be God-fearing Jews!
The title page in the BoM declares: “Written to the Lamanites, who are a remnant of the house of Israel.“ The Introduction page of the BoM says: “After thousands of years, all were destroyed except the Lamanites, and they are the principal ancestors of the American Indians.” (Note: Since no American Indians have been found to have any relationship to Hebrews, the LDS Church has (in Dec. 2010) eliminated one word, “principal” [“principal ancestors”], and changed it to read, “Lamanites are among the ancestors of the American Indians“. [Thus implying that not all American Indians might be “Lamanites”.] This however does not change anything, for the Title Page to the Book of Mormon declares “Lamanites” (American Indians),without exception, to be Israelites. They cannot change the TitlePage to the BoM for Joseph Smith had said that it is a literal translation taken from the gold plates. (See: Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 7, also stated in the Hist. of the Church, vol. 1, pp.71-72.)
This is what the Book of Mormon teaches, and what every Mormon prophet, from Joseph Smith to the present day prophet, has confirmed, namely “that the origin of American Indians is Hebrew.” However, DNA studies of the Native Americans have proven that they are not Hebrews at all.
“There are currently (2003) more than 30 research groups who have tested over 5000 Native Americans from more than 140 tribes from Alaska to the tip of South America. Research shows that 96.5 percent of all Indians tested are from an Asian origin, having migrated to the American continent across the Bering Strait. The 3.5 percent discrepancy show European origin (mostly Spanish) that emerged after Columbus opened the Americas to European trade and colonization. Researchers know this because the discrepancy occurs most frequently in the areas that had high post-Columbus activity. Also, all ancient bones tested show 100 percent Asian origin for pre-Columbus Indians. This firmly proves that the principle ancestry of Native Americans is Asian.”
Due to these DNA studies, the recent article, “The Peopling of the American Continents”, concludes by saying: “That Native Americans today are descendants of people who migrated from eastern Asia is firmly established and no longer controversial.” —There is no DNA evidence that links even one American Indian to a Hebrew origin.”
(Pamphlet: DNA Evidence and the Book of Mormon. Emphasis added.)
The Mormon Church has claimed that none of its scriptures, none of the revelations or teachings have ever been altered, eliminated or changed.
In comparing the 1830 BoM to today’s printing of the BoM, and BoC of 1833 to D&C of 1835, and to today’s printing of these books – one can see hundreds of changes, additions and alterations, without any footnotes indicating that changes have been made or why!
Instead of admitting that changes have been made, the LDS leaders have assured that nothing had been changed. (See “Joseph Smith, Seeker After Truth“, p. 122, by LDS apostle John Widsoe.)
“There was no need for eliminating, changing, or adjusting any part to make it fit; but in each new revelation on doctrine and priesthood fitted in its place perfectly to complete the whole structure…”
(Doctrines of Salvation, by President Joseph Fielding Smith, Vol. 1, p. 170)
“We have a paragraph written by Parley P. Pratt showing how those revelations came to the prophet: Each Sentence was uttered slowly and very distinctly and with a pause between each, sufficiently long for it to be recorded by an ordinary writer in long hand. This was a manner in which all his revelations were dictated and written. There was never any hesitation, reviewing or reading back, in order to keep the run of the subject; neither did any of these communications undergo revisions, interlinings or corrections. As he dictated them, so they stood, so far as I have witnessed; and I was present to witness the dictation of several communications of several pages each.”
(Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p. 456, emphasis added.)
“And when the Book of Commandments was printed, Joseph and the church received it as being printed correctly. This I know. In the winter of 1834 they saw that some of the revelations in the Book of Commandments had to be changed because the heads of the church had gone too far, and done things in which they had already gone ahead of some of the former revelations. So the book of ‘Doctrine and Covenants’ was printed in 1835, and some revelations [were] changed and added to. By the providence of God I have one of the old Book of Commandments published in 1833. I will prove by a revelation in it, which is changed in the Doctrine and Covenants, a revelation that was given through the ‘stone’…”
(An Address to all Believers in Christ, by David Whitmer, Chapter 8, pp. 56-57. Emphasis added.)
(Several sample pages of hundreds of changes in the LDS Scriptures, BoC and D&C, included here.)
The Book of Abraham is a part of LDS scripture known as the Pearl of Great Price (PoGP). It clearly demonstrates the creativity of Joseph Smith. This little book, the Book of Abraham (hereafter BoA), was supposedly translated by Joseph Smith from the Egyptian papyri, purchased by some of the members of the Mormon Church for Joseph Smith from Michael Chandler, who had come to Kirtland, Ohio (in July 1835) to show some Egyptian mummies and papyri, after he had heard of Joseph Smith and his “ability to translate Egyptian language“.
Joseph Smith, in his introduction to the BoA, wrote that it is “A Translation of some ancient Records, that had 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.” (See heading for the Book of Abraham in the Pearl of Great Price. Underline added. See also History of the Church, vol. 2, pp. 235-236, 348-351.)
This papyri was thought to have been lost after Joseph Smith’s death and splitting of the church. But on 27th of November, 1967, eleven pieces of Joseph Smith’s Egyptian papyri were given back to the LDS Church from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, where they had been. Joseph Smith had claimed that this papyri was indeed written by Abraham’s own hand and that it was an actual,original “autograph”, (meaning
that it was author’s [Abraham’s] original copy) and thus older than any found manuscript of the scripture in the Bible. (Abraham lived about 2000 B.C. – Moses wrote the Book of Genesis about 1440 B.C. If the BoA was what Joseph Smith said it was, it would make it over 500 years older than anything Moses wrote, and since we have only manuscript copies of Moses’ writings, this papyri would be theoldest preserved original manuscript in the world. Scholars have since examined papyri, and found it was not written in about 2000 B.C., but sometime during the first century A.D., more than 2000 years after the time of Abraham.)
At the time when this papyri was “translated” by Joseph Smith, it seemed to strengthen his position, not only among Mormons, but also among non-Mormons. It was an amazing bold act of Joseph Smith.
It has been discovered that Joseph Smith had used information recorded in the Works of Flavius Josephus, belonging to his brother, Hyrum Smith, and The Philosophy of a Future State, written by Thomas Dick, and owned by Joseph Smith himself, in order to come up with the ideas he copied into the BoA.
In 1967, when this papyri was found in the Metropolitan Museum and given back to the LDS Church, it excited the membership to no end.
“This would finally prove that Joseph Smith was indeed God’s prophet, gifted by God to translate Egyptian language, something that was unknown to all others“, was then declared among Mormons. This was not the first time that Joseph Smith had claimed to be able to translate Egyptian.
According to Joseph Smith, the gold plates of the BoM (that he had given back to angel Moroni after the BoM was completed) were written in “reformed Egyptian”, a language that no other people knew.(BoM, Mormon 9:32,34.)
The LDS Church gave this papyri to several known Egyptologists to “re-translate”. It was found to be nothing more than a pagan burial script, part of the Book of Breathings, commonly placed with the deceased, giving his name, title and parentage, etc. There was nothing about Abraham or God of Abraham in it, only information about Egyptian mythology and their gods and goddesses, who will, according to pagan Egyptian beliefs, assist in the journey after death. (If you want to learn more about this, read “By His Own Hand Upon Papyrus”, by Charles M. Larson.)
This discovery also brought down Joseph Smith’s claim of translation of the BoM, at least among reasonable thinkers. So far this papyri was the only document with which Joseph’s ability to translate Egyptian could be tested. He failed the test! The BoA is the only holy scripture in the LDS Church that denies the priesthood to the blacks. It and the Book of Moses 7:22 in the PoGP claim that blacks are descendants of Cain, “from the loins of Ham” and that Egyptians were “partakers of the blood of Canaanites” preserving the curse to the Priesthood (Abraham 1:21-27). The BoA also declares that there are multiple gods. (The BoA, chapters 4-5.)
“You see some classes of the human family that are black, uncouth, un- comely, disagreeable and low in their habits, wild, and seemingly deprived of nearly all the blessings of the intelligence that is generally bestowed upon mankind. The first man that committed the odious crime of killing one of his brethren will be cursed the longest of any of the children of Adam. Cain slew his brother. Cain might have been killed, and that would have put a termination to that line of human beings. This was not to be, and the Lord put a mark upon him, which is the flat nose and black skin…That curse will remain upon them and they never can hold the Priesthood or share in it until all the other descendants of Adam have received the promises and enjoyed the blessings of the Priesthood and the keys thereof. Until the last ones of the residue of Adam’s children are brought up to that favorable position, the children of Cain cannot receive the first ordinances of the Priesthood…”
(Brigham Young, Oct. 9, 1859. Journal of Discourses , vol. 7, p. 290-91. Emphasis added.)
There had been another test presented, but Joseph Smith died before it could be totally demonstrated.
In a spring of 1843 a group of men, who suspected that Joseph Smith was fooling people with his “scriptures”, sent word to Joseph Smith and to his church saying that they had discovered some “ancient brass plates and bones”, buried in a mound near Kinderhook, Illinois. These 6 brass plates were brought to Joseph Smith, who declared them to be genuine. William Clayton, Joseph Smith’s confidant and clerk wrote in his diary, on May 1843,“I have seen 6 brass plates which were found in Adam’s County…They are covered with ancient characters of language containing from 30 to 40 on each side of the plates. Prest J. [Joseph] has translated a portion and says they contain the history of the person with whom they were found and he was descendant of Ham through the loins of Pharaoh king of Egypt,and that he had received his kingdom from the ruler of heaven and earth.”
Joseph Smith had LDS printer, Reuben Hedlock, make woodcuts of the plates for future publication.
On June 24, 1843, the church was advertising that the context of the plates
will be published in the Times and Seasons as soon as the translation is completed.
“I insert facsimiles of the six brass plates found near Kinderhook in Pike County, Illinois, on April 23, by Mr. Robert Wiley and others, while excavating a large mound. They found a skeleton about six feet from the surface of the earth, which must have stood nine feet high. The plates were found on the breast of the skeleton and were covered both sides with ancient characters. I [Joseph Smith] have translated a portion of them, and find they contain the history of the person with whom they were found. He was descendant of Ham, through the loins of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and that he received his kingdom from the Ruler of heaven and earth.”
(See History of the Church, vol. 5, p. 372. Facsimiles of these plates and defense of their genuineness is found in the History of the Church, vol. 5, pp. 372-379.)
Joseph Smith was still in the process of “translating” them, when he was killed in June of 1844. These men who had made the plates to fool Joseph Smith, later confessed what they had done. They said that they had cut some brass and prepared the plates and engraved on them, and poured nitric acid on them and rubbed them in the dirt and dropped them in the pit where they were “found”.
In a chaotic time that followed after Joseph Smith was killed, the plates were thought to have been lost or misplaced. The church claimed later, that these men’s statements of making them up were not credible, and they could not be challenged because the plates were not available for testing.
However, one of the plates, matching the woodcut made of it, was discovered in 1920, in the possession of the Chicago Historical Society. Dr. D. Lynn Johnson, an LDS church member and materials engineer of Northwestern University, had, in 1980, asked permission to conduct some sophisticated electronic and chemical tests on this plate. He concluded,
“The Kinderhook Plate is made from brass alloy consistent with the technology of the middle 19th century. The characters on the plate were formed by etching with acid, probably nitric acid.” (D. Lynn Johnson, “Analysis of the Kinderhook Plate Owned by the Chicago Historical Society” p. 10, Nov. 1980. Copy of this in the Marquardt Collection.)
This was another test, in addition to the BoA, that Joseph Smith failed.
Regardless of the evidences that show the deceptive nature of the LDS “scriptures“ and of the Church, the LDS Church claims that true salvation comes only through the LDS Church and Joseph Smith.
(See Mormon Doctrine, p. 670; JoD, vol. 7, p. 289.)
The LDS Church arrogantly claims,
“The President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints holds the keys of salvation for all men now living because he is the only one by whose authorization the sealing power of the priesthood can be used to seal men up to salvation and exaltation in the kingdom of God. D&C 132:7”. (Mormon Doctrine, p. 411.)
The LDS Church also boasts that “The keys of the kingdom are the power, right, and authority to preside over the kingdom of God on earth (which is the church) and to direct all of its affairs…In their fullness, the keys are held by only one person at a time, the Prophet and President of the Church.” (Mormon Doctrine, p. 411.)
Joseph Smith himself had boasted that he had done more than any man ever, including Jesus.
“I have more to boast than ever any man had…Large majority of the whole have stood by me. Neither Paul, John, Peter, nor Jesus ever did it. I boast that no man ever did such a work as I. The followers of Jesus run away from Him; but the Latter-day Saints never run away from me yet…When they can get rid of me, the devil will also go…”
(History of the Church, vol. 6, pp. 408-409.)
May we all seek, in love, to inform our LDS friends, relatives and neighbors of these deceptions so that they can come to see the truth, and come to the One who alone can save: Jesus Christ of the Bible, who IS GOD WITH US. (Matt. 1:23; John 1:1, 14; 8:24; 14:6; 20:28; Col. 2:9.).
To be a witness is our God-given mandate.
“So thou, O son of man, I have set thee a watchman… therefore thou shalt hear the word at My mouth, and warn them for Me…[but] if thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand. Nevertheless, if thou warn the wicked of his way to turn from it; if he do not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul.”
(Ezekiel 33:7-9, KJV.) THEREFORE WE MUST WARN!