Articles

Answering Mormonism

Who are the Mormons, and what do they believe?

Mormons, like evangelical Christians, believe that there is a God, and that human beings have transgressed His holy and perfect laws. The punishment for this disobedience, which we are all guilty of, is death. Not death in the sense of loss of being, but loss of well-being. According to the Bible, our sins are punishable by death in the sense of eternal separation from God.

God had a plan, however, to spare us, His creation, from such an awful fate. God sent His Son, Jesus of Nazareth, to pay the penalty for our sins. In other words, Jesus was punished for our sins so we wouldn't have to be. The just died for the unjust. The Bible says that if we will place our trust in Jesus, accepting Him as our Saviour and Lord, that we will not be punished for our sins when we die. A trade is made when we accept Jesus. He takes away our sinfulness and we become the righteousness of God in Him. God no longer sees a lost sinner, but a justified saint; an adopted child of God. This is what Evangelical Christians believe, and based on the many encounters that I've had with Mormon missionaries, most Mormons would not object to these basic truths concerning the person and work of Jesus Christ.

Further, both Mormons and Evangelicals would agree that on the third day after His death, Jesus rose from the dead to declare His victory over sin and death - a sure sign that His sacrifice was acceptable by God the Father. Both would also agree that Christ has called out a special group of people that would accept Him and His claims, and would carry the message of His great gift of salvation to the world. This called-out group is what Jesus referred to as the church.

Where do we differ?

Mormons believe that after the death of the last original apostle of Jesus, complete apostasy swept over the church. Many "plain and precious truths" of the Gospel were lost to history. For over 1400 years the true Church of Jesus Christ was non-existent on planet earth. It wasn't until 1830 that the true church was restored to its original first century condition thanks to the prophet Joseph Smith, who was a willing servant concerning the plans and purposes of God.

Evangelicals utterly reject this notion, preferring to take the Bible at face value concerning the preservation of the word of God and of the church He intended to build. Logically, if a restoration was unnecessary, then so was Smith's occupation as prophet and restorer. Therefore evangelicals and Mormons disagree absolutely concerning the prophetic office of Joseph Smith and his restorative efforts.

Smith claimed that an angelic visitor revealed to him the whereabouts of an ancient book written between 600 BC and AD 421 here in the Americas. The book, written in an ancient Hebrew-Egyptian script, supposedly contained the history of the North American people and their Jewish ancestry. The definitive moment in this history, apparently, was the visitation of Jesus Christ to these peoples shortly following His resurrection from the dead. By the "gift and power of God", Smith claimed he was able to translate this work into English. The result is the Book of Mormon, which Smith claimed was not only God's word, but the most perfect book on earth. In effect, he was saying that the Book of Mormon was superior to the Bible. Of course, Evangelicals would utterly reject these ideas. To us, the Bible is the inspired, infallible, preserved word of God. The Book of Mormon, by reason of its lack of textual history, external evidence, historical and linguistic anachronisms, not to mention many contradictions with the Bible, is regarded as a nineteenth century fraud.

Forced to Make a Choice

Mormons and Evangelical Christians differ in their beliefs on a number of points. Though both groups are represented by members who are thoroughly convinced of the truth of their own particular worldview, such confidence does not make what they believe true. In other words, we may be totally sincere in our belief that our worldview is true, but we may be sincerely wrong. The gulf that exists between Mormons and Evangelicals is deep and wide. Though on some points both Mormons and Evangelicals may be wrong, it is logically impossible that their ideas can both be true. The church of Jesus Christ was completely eradicated from the planet or it wasn't. Joseph Smith was a genuine prophet of God or a total fraud. The Book of Mormon is God's word or it isn't. We can and should love and respect each other, but it's naïve to suppose that our differences are insignificant or that they can be reconciled. We really are forced to make a choice.

Why do we believe what we do?

It is an undeniable fact that people need to use reason in order to function in the real world. Anyone who claims this is not so actually proves the point, since a person must employ reason in order to engage in the denial process. That's just the way God made us. It's what differentiates us from the animals. We have a God-given intellect and God expects us to use it.

In my many encounters with Mormons, I've asked them why they believe what they do, and without exception, their response was simply that they "felt" it was true. But surely this is inadequate, for representatives of many belief systems, contradictory to Mormonism (i.e. Islam, Buddhism, Unitarianism, Hinduism, etc) claim to "feel" that their belief system is true. It simply isn't logically possible that all these views are right at the same time and in the same sense. Someone is wrong here. But how can we tell which, since everyone is "sure" they have the truth - their "feelings" said so.

Surely there must be another way to test these views. I'm convinced that we ought to use our God-given commonsense and apply it to the scientific and historic facts as we know them to see which view holds up. That doesn't mean we have to abandon faith altogether and embrace only that which has been proven scientifically in the laboratory. It just means that we ought to put our faith in a worldview that at least makes sense. I'm not denying that God can speak to a man in a very spiritual way, and confirm that something is true. I'm just saying that a spiritual "feeling" coupled with hard scientific and historic evidence is a tough combination to beat. That's what these articles are all about.

I too have the quiet assurance from the Spirit of God that what I believe about the Bible is true. Though the Mormon may claim the same for his view, what he cannot claim to have is convincing evidence that can satisfy the intellect as well as the heart. I really believe that since God is the creator of both heart and mind, the truth He wants us to embrace will satisfy both. After all, how can we expect our hearts to embrace what our minds have rejected as nonsense?

To the right are the links to various articles dealing with Mormon claims, and my reasons for rejecting them. If you are a Mormon, please consider these points carefully. From my heart, I believe that your eternity depends upon how you respond to the person and work of the true Jesus, and His claims as recorded in the Holy Bible.

Answering Mormonism

Who are the Mormons, and what do they believe?

Mormons, like evangelical Christians, believe that there is a God, and that human beings have transgressed His holy and perfect laws. The punishment for this disobedience, which we are all guilty of, is death. Not death in the sense of loss of being, but loss of well-being. According to the Bible, our sins are punishable by death in the sense of eternal separation from God.

God had a plan, however, to spare us, His creation, from such an awful fate. God sent His Son, Jesus of Nazareth, to pay the penalty for our sins. In other words, Jesus was punished for our sins so we wouldn't have to be. The just died for the unjust. The Bible says that if we will place our trust in Jesus, accepting Him as our Saviour and Lord, that we will not be punished for our sins when we die. A trade is made when we accept Jesus. He takes away our sinfulness and we become the righteousness of God in Him. God no longer sees a lost sinner, but a justified saint; an adopted child of God. This is what Evangelical Christians believe, and based on the many encounters that I've had with Mormon missionaries, most Mormons would not object to these basic truths concerning the person and work of Jesus Christ.

Further, both Mormons and Evangelicals would agree that on the third day after His death, Jesus rose from the dead to declare His victory over sin and death - a sure sign that His sacrifice was acceptable by God the Father. Both would also agree that Christ has called out a special group of people that would accept Him and His claims, and would carry the message of His great gift of salvation to the world. This called-out group is what Jesus referred to as the church.

Where do we differ?

Mormons believe that after the death of the last original apostle of Jesus, complete apostasy swept over the church. Many "plain and precious truths" of the Gospel were lost to history. For over 1400 years the true Church of Jesus Christ was non-existent on planet earth. It wasn't until 1830 that the true church was restored to its original first century condition thanks to the prophet Joseph Smith, who was a willing servant concerning the plans and purposes of God.

Evangelicals utterly reject this notion, preferring to take the Bible at face value concerning the preservation of the word of God and of the church He intended to build. Logically, if a restoration was unnecessary, then so was Smith's occupation as prophet and restorer. Therefore evangelicals and Mormons disagree absolutely concerning the prophetic office of Joseph Smith and his restorative efforts.

Smith claimed that an angelic visitor revealed to him the whereabouts of an ancient book written between 600 BC and AD 421 here in the Americas. The book, written in an ancient Hebrew-Egyptian script, supposedly contained the history of the North American people and their Jewish ancestry. The definitive moment in this history, apparently, was the visitation of Jesus Christ to these peoples shortly following His resurrection from the dead. By the "gift and power of God", Smith claimed he was able to translate this work into English. The result is the Book of Mormon, which Smith claimed was not only God's word, but the most perfect book on earth. In effect, he was saying that the Book of Mormon was superior to the Bible. Of course, Evangelicals would utterly reject these ideas. To us, the Bible is the inspired, infallible, preserved word of God. The Book of Mormon, by reason of its lack of textual history, external evidence, historical and linguistic anachronisms, not to mention many contradictions with the Bible, is regarded as a nineteenth century fraud.

Forced to Make a Choice

Mormons and Evangelical Christians differ in their beliefs on a number of points. Though both groups are represented by members who are thoroughly convinced of the truth of their own particular worldview, such confidence does not make what they believe true. In other words, we may be totally sincere in our belief that our worldview is true, but we may be sincerely wrong. The gulf that exists between Mormons and Evangelicals is deep and wide. Though on some points both Mormons and Evangelicals may be wrong, it is logically impossible that their ideas can both be true. The church of Jesus Christ was completely eradicated from the planet or it wasn't. Joseph Smith was a genuine prophet of God or a total fraud. The Book of Mormon is God's word or it isn't. We can and should love and respect each other, but it's naïve to suppose that our differences are insignificant or that they can be reconciled. We really are forced to make a choice.

Why do we believe what we do?

It is an undeniable fact that people need to use reason in order to function in the real world. Anyone who claims this is not so actually proves the point, since a person must employ reason in order to engage in the denial process. That's just the way God made us. It's what differentiates us from the animals. We have a God-given intellect and God expects us to use it.

In my many encounters with Mormons, I've asked them why they believe what they do, and without exception, their response was simply that they "felt" it was true. But surely this is inadequate, for representatives of many belief systems, contradictory to Mormonism (i.e. Islam, Buddhism, Unitarianism, Hinduism, etc) claim to "feel" that their belief system is true. It simply isn't logically possible that all these views are right at the same time and in the same sense. Someone is wrong here. But how can we tell which, since everyone is "sure" they have the truth - their "feelings" said so.

Surely there must be another way to test these views. I'm convinced that we ought to use our God-given commonsense and apply it to the scientific and historic facts as we know them to see which view holds up. That doesn't mean we have to abandon faith altogether and embrace only that which has been proven scientifically in the laboratory. It just means that we ought to put our faith in a worldview that at least makes sense. I'm not denying that God can speak to a man in a very spiritual way, and confirm that something is true. I'm just saying that a spiritual "feeling" coupled with hard scientific and historic evidence is a tough combination to beat. That's what these articles are all about.

I too have the quiet assurance from the Spirit of God that what I believe about the Bible is true. Though the Mormon may claim the same for his view, what he cannot claim to have is convincing evidence that can satisfy the intellect as well as the heart. I really believe that since God is the creator of both heart and mind, the truth He wants us to embrace will satisfy both. After all, how can we expect our hearts to embrace what our minds have rejected as nonsense?

To the right are the links to various articles dealing with Mormon claims, and my reasons for rejecting them. If you are a Mormon, please consider these points carefully. From my heart, I believe that your eternity depends upon how you respond to the person and work of the true Jesus, and His claims as recorded in the Holy Bible.

Introduction

Introduction: Testing truth claims - the Bible vs Mormon views

The Bible is absolutely replete with warnings about false prophets and teachers, and therefore commands us to be discerning. 1 Thessalonians 5:21 tells us to:

"Prove* all things; hold fast that which is good." *dokimadzo - to test, discern, examine

Instinctively, to one extent or other, all of us follow this advice. We measure truth claims against what we know to be facts. For example, it is a fact that two contradictory statements cannot both be true at the same time and in the same sense. Knowing this to be true, we check statements for logical consistency. If a truth claim contains contradictory statements we know that something is wrong with the claim.

Likewise, we understand that truth claims ought to be supported by some sort of empirical evidence. Most of us, and rightly so, expect that extraordinary claims be substantiated with correspondingly persuasive evidence. The Author of the Bible understands this, and has furnished us with many compelling scientific, historic, and philosophical evidences for His great book.

Mormons also believe that their book, the Book of Mormon, ought to be tested before believed. Their test, however, differs from the kind of test normally applied to historic documents, the Bible included. According to a Mormon publication, to know if the Book of Mormon is true we must:

"…read it, ponder its message, and desire to know if it's true. You must ask heavenly Father to confirm that it is His word. As you do, He will reveal to you through the Holy Ghost that it is true."

What kind of test is this? The answer we get from this kind of test is the answer we've already settled on. As if this isn't enough of an insult to the intelligence, the booklet continues to state that:

"As you come to know that the Book of Mormon is true, you will also come to know by the Holy Ghost that Joseph Smith was a prophet from God, that the gospel of Jesus Christ was restored through him, and that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is led by a prophet and apostles today."

Even if we accept that the Book of Mormon is legit, it may logically follow that Smith was a genuine prophet. However, it does not logically follow that Christianity was restored through him. Nor does it necessarily follow that the LDS Church today is an accurate representation of genuine New Testament Christianity (since the church could have easily fallen into apostasy since Smith's day). The whole line of reasoning is fraught which logical inconsistency and downright nonsense.

In contradistinction to the illogical ramblings of men bent on promoting their own particular interests, the Bible flatly states:

"It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man." Psalm 118:8

"This saith the LORD; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the LORD." Jeremiah 17:5

"Trust in the LORD with all thine heart: and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." Proverbs 3:5-6

As far as relying purely on a subjective feeling to determine truth, the Bible warns us that:

"The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" Jeremiah 17:9

In response to the clear biblical warnings regarding the deceitfulness of the human heart, evangelical Christians rely on the Bible as the final authority.

The call to defend our faith by giving reasons

The Bible instructs us to be prepared to give people a reason for believing what we do. Peter states that we are to:

"…sanctify the LORD God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear." 1 Peter 3:15

This presupposes that solid, intellectually satisfying reasons for believing the Bible's claims do actually exist. In contradistinction with the Mormon worldview, which requires a "blind leap into the dark", Biblical Christianity is based on real events that have left their marks on history, the evidence of which is both plentiful and readily available. Trusting the Bible does require faith, but not to sort of blind faith that proponents of Mormonism are asked to have. The plethora of evidence for the Bible, then, makes it that much easier to be obedient to Christ's command to love the Lord with all our minds as well as our hearts (Matthew 22:37).

No Mormon missionary that I have encountered thus far has taken the Biblical mandate to defend their faith seriously, and little wonder, considering the complete lack of compelling evidence for Mormonism. As I write this article (September 2006), I've just finished a "sparring session" with a Mormon missionary who tried (unsuccessfully) to convince me that defending one's faith is not a biblical mandate. When I offered to him what the Bible actually says on the topic, his response was as shocking as it was decisive: "Frankly I don't care what the Bible says." Proverbs 13:13 states that anyone who despises the word will be destroyed. How these guys can call themselves Christians is beyond me.

Solid Reasons for Trusting the Bible

Recently, a Mormon missionary asked me, "If you had only two minutes to respond, how would explain to someone why you trust the Bible?" Almost certainly this young man thought that the Bible-believing Christian's reasons for trusting the Bible were as subjective as the Mormon's are for trusting the Book of Mormon. I offered the following three points as a response:

1. Textual History - The Bible is the best-attested literary work in history. Its transmitional history spans thousands of years and is supported by many thousands of manuscripts. Even opponents of Christianity must admit that the Biblical text appears to have reached us without significant alteration. The Book of Mormon, in contrast, has no textual history whatsoever.

2. Internal Consistency - Though the Bible is made up of the writings of approximately 40 men over a period of approximately 1500 years, there is an uncanny continuity running throughout its pages. As for the Gospels themselves, it is readily apparent that they are independent witnesses to the history of Jesus Christ. Their divergences from one another are precisely what one would expect from an independent witness, yet their great unanimity concerning their record of the Saviour's life and teachings argue for their reliability as accurate historic works.

3. External Corroboration - The Bible names numerous people, places, and events that have been corroborated by archaeological excavation as well as in the writings of contemporary or near contemporary historical figures. The Bible has a geography. We can go to Israel today and locate numerous cites, bodies of water, mountains, etc mentioned in its pages. Many of the people mentioned in the Bible have likewise been mentioned in the inscriptions of neighbouring countries. Again, the Book of Mormon has very little external evidence corroborating it. That which has been offered, in my opinion, is dubious at best.

Evangelism in the Book of Acts

Mormon missionaries have, without exception, counselled me to simply pray and ask God to show me that Mormonism is true. Of course, this is a nonsense test for truth since our minds would have to be convinced of Mormonism's truthfulness at the onset of the "investigation."

The Bible, on the other hand, offers us a common sense approach to evangelism; an approach that offers real answers to life's questions. Consider the evangelistic approach taken by the early church as described in the Book of Acts:

"Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews. And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three Sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures." Acts 17:1-2

Nowhere does Paul instruct his listeners to pray and ask God to confirm that he was preaching the truth. Instead, we are told that Paul reasoned with the people out of the scriptures. The Bible is ever so clear that the scriptures themselves are to be the standard of truth by which all things must be measured. In fact we are told that the people in the city of Berea were:

"…more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether these things were so." Acts 17:10-11

In the city of Lystra, Paul and Barnabas evangelized the pagans with these words:

"We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that are therein: Who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways. Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling out hearts with food and gladness." Acts 14:15-17

Paul's approach is an intellectual one. His whole argument centers on the Greek preoccupation with the concept of cause and effect. God, Paul reminded them, did good by sending rain from heaven (1st cause). The result was fruitful seasons (1st effect, 2nd cause), which filled the peoples' hearts with food (2nd effect, 3rd cause), and gladness (3rd effect). Again, curiously absent (if Mormonism is true) from Paul's evangelistic efforts is any mention of getting people to simply pray about the message and wait for a subjective confirmatory feeling.

Peter's Testimony

The New Testament preserves for us two letters written by the great apostle Peter. In neither if these does Peter recommend that we simply pray to ask God whether or not what he is saying is true. Instead, Peter reasons with us his readers, and argues intelligently that he ought to be taken seriously because he was an eyewitness to the events he describes (2 Peter 1:16-18).

John's Testimony

In several places throughout the 4th Gospel (more than reasonably attributed to the beloved apostle John) we are reminded that the writer was an eyewitness to the events he describes:

1:14: "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth."

19:35: "And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe."

21:24: " This is the disciple which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things: and we know that his testimony is true."

Like Peter, John understood that his readers were going to have a hard time swallowing some of what he had to say. Instead of asking them to simply pray and ask God to confirm his message with a warm fuzzy feeling, John (under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, I might add) takes the common sense approach. He argues, as did Peter, that he was an eyewitness to the death and resurrection of Jesus, and as such, ought to be given fair consideration in the minds of all who heard his testimony.

Paul's Instructions

"Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry." 2 Timothy 4:2-5

In 1Timothy 4:13 Paul commands Timothy to "…give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine." Paul's instructions to Titus are similar. He states that a bishop must hold fast:

"…the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers." Titus 1:9

Paul's words are most instructive. First, note the absolute authority Paul attributes to the Scriptures. They truly are the standard by which all things must be measured. Second, note how the "gainsayers: are to be dealt with: they are to be refuted by sound doctrine. Third, Paul predicted that people would abandon the Scriptures in favour of myths and their own subjective feelings. This is akin to the Mormon's insistence upon the history contained in the Book if Mormon and the Mormon reliance upon emotionalism, even when they contradict the clear teachings of the Bible.

Paul's Evangelism in Corinth

In Paul's first letter to the church in Corinth, he reminds his readers of what he first shared with them:

"For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: and that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time. " 1 Corinthians 15:3-8

Clearly, Paul's approach was apologetic. He shared with the Corinthians the various particulars concerning the death and resurrection of Jesus, and then backed up his story with the fact that there were approximately 500 others who could corroborate it. Absent is any mention of getting his audience to simply pray about his message.

I remember asking a Mormon missionary why, if simply praying and asking God to confirm a particular message was so important, was the Bible so absolutely silent regarding this fact. This is especially puzzling since the Bible documents in detail the missionary activities of the early church throughout the Book of Acts. After a thoughtful pause he offered this hollow counter: "Because times change."

The Supposed Restoration

The Supposed Restoration

Mormons are convinced that the true church of Jesus Christ was eradicated from the planet, along with many "plain and precious truths", shortly after the death of the last apostle. Mormon missionaries that I have spoken to have stated unequivocally that during this "great apostasy" important scriptures were also lost to history. Fortunately, Joseph Smith was selected by God to restore the New Testament church after more than 1400 years of obliteration.

Is such a scenario possible? Not unless we abandon the clear teachings of the New Testament. Below are some of the most compelling scriptural reasons that I have for rejecting the claim that the church was completely eradicated and therefore in need of a restoration. Remember that it's the restoration that was and is Joseph Smith's claim to fame. If a restoration was not necessary, then Smith's job as a restorer/prophet becomes needless and he joins the ranks of the unemployed.

Matthew 16:18 - Jesus to build His church

Jesus stated in the clearest terms possible:

"I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." Matthew 16:18

What is the Christian to make of such a claim? Jesus is the one to whom all authority in heaven and earth was given (Matthew 28:18); the one whose name is above every name (Philippians 2:9), and who sits enthroned above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion (Ephesians 1:20-21). How could anyone conscious of these attributes of the Savior honestly question his ability to successfully build his church and keep it from eradication?

We are instructed in 1 Peter 5:6 to humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God. What does this mean? I'll tell you what it doesn't mean. It doesn't mean second-guessing what the Lord has clearly said, or His ability to accomplish what he has purposed to do. The claim that the church was eradicated from the planet until its restoration under Joseph Smith is in direct conflict with Jesus' proclamation to build His church in Matthew 16:18 - and no amount of philosophical and/or linguistic maneuvering can reconcile this glaring contradiction.

John 15:16 - the disciples fruit to remain

Jesus said:

"Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the father in my name, he may give it to you." John 15:16

Mormons believe that the eradication of the Church occurred shortly after the death of the last apostle (John, c A.D. 95). But what of the fruit that these apostles were to bring forth and that should remain? Can we really believe that Jesus, the all mighty one, who promised that He would never leave nor forsake His people, had His plans so thwarted? Such a belief makes not the slightest but of scriptural sense. This is especially true when we consider that in the last book of the Bible, penned by John c A.D. 95, only one of the seven churches addressed in Asia Minor, the church at Laodicea, had no words of commendation from the Lord. Two of the seven, Smyrna and Philadelphia, received only words of praise from the Saviour, with no rebuke whatsoever.

The remaining churches received both words of commendation and correction from the Lord. It should be noted that none of the Lord's rebukes toward these churches is there a hint of vital doctrinal truths being lost - a claim which is strongly maintained by Mormons. Rather, these churches are rebuked for their loss of love toward God, or the adoption of practises and ideas contrary to scripture (immorality and justification for it both in Pergamos and Thyatira; the same problem seems even more pronounced in Sardis. Yet even so, the Lord is sure to point out that even in this "dead" church, there existed a remnant that had "not defiled their garments", and who were promised by the Lord that they should walk with Him in white, "for they are worthy." - Revelation 3:4).

It's obvious from these passages that the Lord's plans to have His disciples bring forth fruit was not thwarted, and that such fruit did indeed exist and flourished at the end of the first century. When, why, and how did the "great apostasy" take place, especially in places like diligent Ephesus, who was home to the Apostle John during his final days? When, why and how did the "great apostasy" take place in faithful and courageous Smyrna, whose Bishop was none other than Polycarp (until A.D. 156), the disciple of John the apostle? When, why, and how did the "great apostasy" take place in Philadelphia, where the word of God was courageously kept and the name of Christ confessed even in the face of great opposition?

Unless Mormons can provide some specifics regarding the supposed "great apostasy", consistent with scripture, then there is no reason at all to take their claims regarding the eradication of the church seriously. Remember that if such an apostasy did not take place, then a restoration becomes unnecessary, and Joseph Smith's claim to fame as Christianity's "restorer" becomes ludicrous.

Isaiah 40:8 - Word to last forever

"The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: But the word of our God shall stand forever." Isaiah 40:8

The importance of the promise cannot be underestimated. Peter used it in his own declarations concerning the utter importance of scriptural truths in the life of a Christian (1 Peter 1:24-25). "And this is the word", says Peter, "by the gospel is preached unto you."

Mormons claim that many "plain and precious" scriptural truths have been lost to history because of the great apostasy, and the gospel was fully restored under Joseph Smith. Can such a claim really be taken seriously in light of the above portion of Scripture? According to Mormons, important aspects of the Gospel not only didn't stand forever, but were effectively erased from the planet within a century of their composition. This loss of scriptural truth persisted, we are told, for over 1400 years! The whole idea is extremely difficult to reconcile with Bible's many promises that God would preserve His word forever.

Psalm 12:6-7 - God's word preserved

"The words of the Lord are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation forever." Psalm 12:6-7

The Mormon claim that important scriptural truths were lost due to the "great apostasy" is strongly contradicted by this these verses. They are so explicit that they hardly need comment. God promised to preserve His word. The Mormons claim that He didn't. Now who are we to believe? Again, the Bible provides the answer: "Let God be true, but every man a liar." (Romans 3:4).

Psalm 33:11 - God's message to last forever

"The counsel of the LORD standeth forever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations." Psalm 33:11

Mormons teach that due to the "great apostasy" that occurred shortly after the death of the last apostle (John c. A.D. 95), important scriptural truths were lost. We are told that for over 1400 years the true church was nowhere to be found on planet earth. As a result, divine communication from God to man was halted. This whole idea, however, is completely refuted by the above verse. "…the thoughts of his heart TO ALL GENERATIONS" is pretty explicit. How this verse can be twisted to accommodate the Mormon belief in the eradication of important, God-inspired scripture is quite beyond me.

Matthew 4:4 - Man to live by every word of God

"But he answered and said, it is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." Matthew 4:4 (Jesus quoting Deut. 8:3)

Here the Lord confirms for us the fact that the scriptures contain absolutely nothing extraneous. All scripture is inspired of God (2 Timothy 3:16) and is equally authoritive. It is very difficult to understand how the Lord would instruct us to live by every word of God, and yet allow the effective eradication of that word for over 1400 years. This is especially hard to swallow when we consider the many promises of God to preserve His word "from this generation forever" (Psalm 12:6-7).

Matthew 28:19 - presupposition that all Christ's commands would be extant

"Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you." Matthew 28:19-20

Mormons take these verses very seriously. Many of their young people embark on 2-year missionary journeys to foreign lands at their own expense in response to the Lord's commands. Yet a glaring contradiction exists between these verses and the Mormon claim that important scriptural truths were lost in the "great apostasy".

Our Lord's command was to teach the nations to observe ALL THINGS whatsoever He commanded. Since we must believe that this command pertains to all believers, we must therefore expect that ALL THINGS that He commanded are available for His faithful to teach. In other words, the Lord's marching orders for the church presuppose the preservation of His words. This harmonizes well with the many other verses that promise the perpetuation of the scriptural record, but utterly contradicts the Mormon claim that vital scriptural truths were lost for well over a millennium.

Luke 21:33 - Christ's words to never pass away

"Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away."Luke 21:33

Here the Lord measures His word against two seemingly indestructible entities: the heaven and the earth. Despite appearances, the heaven and earth are not eternal, but will come to an end at some scheduled point in the future. The word of God on the other hand, entrusted to human agents for their propagation, is promised to endure forever. Again, on the face of it, the text seems to contradict the Mormon claim that important scriptural truths had been effectively eradicated.

Matthew 26:13 - Mary of Bethany

"Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her." Matthew 26:13

The episode of Mary washing the Lord's feet is recounted for us in all four Gospels (Matthew 26:6-13, Mark 14:3-9, Luke 7:36-38, John 12:3-7). Notice the Lord's promise that wherever the Gospel would be propagated, what she did for Him would also be shared. It is interesting to note that fulfillment of this promise. Today when Christian missionaries share the message of Jesus they do so with a Bible in their hands - a Bible that contains the account of Mary and her service toward the Lord. Here we have an interesting test - a barometer with which to measure the accuracy of Christ's words. He promised that the woman would not be forgotten and the very fact that the account of her has been faithfully preserved in the Bible assures us of the trustworthiness of Christ's promises, and to the infallibility and miraculous preservation of the scriptures in general. After all, if the Lord could keep the memory of the woman alive through the preservation of His word, why should we doubt His ability to preserve all of His inspired Scripture? There is no reason at all to doubt the Bible's many promises that God would preserve His word throughout all generations.

Interestingly, I have run into Mormon missionaries who no longer carry a Bible when evangelizing. When I questioned them on this they countered by saying that they carry the Book of Mormon, and that the Bible was "extra weight." Remember that the Lord said that wherever the genuine Gospel would be preached the account of Mary of Bethany would be included. As far as I can tell, the account of Mary of Bethany is absent from the Book of Mormon. Whose Gospel ought we to trust?

2 Timothy 3:16 - sufficiency of the word

"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works." 2 Timothy 3:16

Bible-believing Christians see the Scriptures as the final authority in all matters relating the faith and conduct. All things are to be tested and weighed according to them. Remember the Berean church (Acts 17:11) was said to be noble because they tested what Paul was preaching against the scriptures.

Mormons on the other hand feel that the real authority for the church rests with one man, the "living prophet". It is this man alone who can properly expound upon the scriptures and, if he receives new revelations from God, can make pronouncements completely contrary to them. Mormons are adamant that this is how the church ought to function, however, there is a glaring problem with this arrangement.

The Bible instructs us to test all things (1 Thessalonians 5:21). It is also replete with warnings about false prophets (Matthew 7:15, 24:11, 24:24, Mark 13:22, 2 Peter 2:1, 1 John 4:1). Now how exactly are we to test a prophet? Paul stated that the scriptures were profitable (helpful or servable) for doctrine, for reproof (proof, conviction, evidence), for correction (rectification, reformation), for instruction in righteousness. Think of what the word is said to accomplish here. Among other things it is said to be useful in correcting doctrinal errors. Taken at face value, especially when we consider the noble Bereans, should we not then measure the claims of one claiming to be a prophet against the scriptures?

Mormons seem to have things the other way around, preferring to allow the scriptures to be at the mercy of the one they deem to be a "living prophet." The danger here is obvious. If this one man is off doctrinally, then his error will be accepted uncritically by (as it stands today) over 12 million loyal followers. Paul's statement in 1 Corinthians 14: 37 is certainly apt here:

"If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord."

Truly then, the Christian is justified is his belief in the sufficiency of the scriptures.

John 20:30-31 - John's Gospel Enough

"And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: but these are written that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name." John 20:30-31

Mormons believe that many "plain and precious truths" concerning the Gospel were lost during the "great apostasy". The revelations given to Joseph Smith and the other Mormon prophets, we are told, have restored these essential truths. John's words, however, here seem to contradict this notion. John stated very clearly that he wrote what he did so that people would come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. In other words, what John recorded in the fourth Gospel is sufficient. There is enough information there (concerning the essential truths about Jesus-His deity, ministry, sacrifice, resurrection, and what one must do in order to be saved) for a person to act upon in faith and receive salvation. If all we had was the Gospel of John, that would be enough. However, God is gracious, and as a matter of fact, has furnished us with 65 additional books in His sacred library we call the Bible. The Mormon claim, therefore, that essential written truths needed to be restored is illusory.

The True Church Identifiable?

"And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us; and we forbad him, because he followeth not us. But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me. For he that is not against us is on our part." Mark 9:38-40

Every Mormon missionary that I have talked to (as far as I can remember) has stated that the true church of Jesus Christ must be identifiable as a single, unified organization. The view that I hold to is that the true church is comprised of believers in Jesus Christ the world over, who may be found throughout and without virtually all Christian denominations. I'm convinced that from heaven's perspective, so many of our man-made divisions are completely invisible. So which view is correct?

The answer I believe is to be found in Mark 9:38-40. Here the disciples were displaying the "Mormon attitude" that the only true believers were those among their group. Notice that this attitude was wrong, and had to be corrected by the Lord. The Mormon criteria for identifying the true church may therefore be regarded as flawed, and cannot be used as evidence that they represent any form of restored Christianity.

Bibliographical Evidence - MSS copies

Here we shift from biblical evidence against the Mormon claims that scriptural truths had been lost to scientific evidences. Let is consider here the textual history attesting to the reliability of the biblical record. No other ancient document has as much manuscript evidence substantiating it as does the New Testament. The current number of ancient New Testament manuscripts sits at 24,970. In second place comes Homer's Iliad at 643 manuscripts.

Today, most scholars would agree that the copies of Pliny the Younger, or Herodotus' writings for example, are reasonably accurate. Note that The New Testament is not only supported by far more manuscripts than any other ancient source, but many papyrus manuscripts have been dated to within 200 years of their original composition. Furthermore, The New Testament text was copied over a wide geographical area into many different languages. Despite this fact, these documents are almost identical in their content. Similarly, the discovery of the Dead Sea scrolls has proven beyond a doubt that the Old Testament text we hold in our hands today has remained unchanged for over 2,000 years. Truly, the idea that the Bible has undergone substantive revision, or that major portions of it have been lost must appear absurd.

Citations

For most people, the period extending from the death of the last apostle (John A.D. 95) to the Nicene Council (A.D. 325) is shadowy and uncertain. Sadly, such a mindset has largely permeated the evangelical church in North America. It is this sort of ignorance regarding this crucial time in history that has allowed false beliefs, such as the Mormon's "great apostasy" to gain a foothold. The fact is, this period is not a historic "black hole" into which we can insert anything we like. Instead, there is a rich history there to be discovered by anyone willing to take the time to investigate it.

From this period come the voluminous writings of the early Christian theologians and apologists. Their writings provide insight into which books they deemed authorative scripture, and how the scriptures were to be understood. The New Testament alone is cited by these men no less that 36,000 times and it is clear from such citations that their Bible was essentially identical to the one we hold in our hands today. The writings of the "early church fathers" are powerful historic evidence to the reliability of the Bible, and to the propagation of the Christian faith beyond the death of the last apostle. Both fly in the face of the Moron claim that true Christianity had been lost and needed restoring.

Denominational Splits

Often Mormons point out that within Christianity exists numerous denominational splits. "Which one is true?"

Typically missionaries state that on a particular intersection in Joseph Smith's town there were four Christian churches of different denominations. Smith was apparently told by God that none of the denominations had it right. All were corrupt.

Denominational splits are probably the number one evidence that Mormons turn to when defending there claims of a great apostasy. But denominational splits alone cannot possibly denote total apostasy; even Mormons themselves must admit this. Here's why.

If denominational splits denote total apostasy then the Mormons have got a problem. Though the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) is the largest and best known Mormon denomination in the world today, they are far from the only group claiming to be the true church restored through Joseph Smith. There are, in fact, many such groups, each claiming that the other Mormon denominations are aberrations of the restored church. To my knowledge at least 30 such groups exist, though I've heard estimates of up to 100.

The point is, even if we were to remove from the planet every Christian group, leaving only those who claimed to be part of the true church restored by Joseph Smith, there would still be at least 30 denominational groups arguing against each other. No LDS member honestly believes that such denominational splits would be indicative of total apostasy (since he knows that his denomination is the true one). This being the case, he simply cannot turn around then, and point to denominational splits within evangelical Christianity as evidence of total apostasy.

Why do denominations exist? There are many reasons. Some arose from honest disagreements over what the Bible actually teaches concerning particular doctrines. Peter reminds us that there are certain portions of scripture that are hard to be understood (2 Peter 3:16). In certain places the Bible is not an easy book. It requires a significant commitment of time, and careful and prayerful study to unlock what God has put in His word. Unless the Bible is approached this way, misunderstandings are inevitable. Again Peter reminds us that unlearned and unstable men are responsible for twisting the scriptures.

As you trace the history of the early church, it's important to note what the subjects of many of the controversies actually were. There was division over which day Easter was to be celebrated on, or whether of not those that denied the faith in the face of persecution should be allowed back in the church. After which came the question of whether or not those admitted back in needed to be re-baptized.

It's important to note that though various understandings of the scripture arose, the scriptures themselves were not the subject of major controversy. This can only strengthen the belief that the Bible we hold in our hands today is the same as the one the earliest Christians deemed authorative. By today's standards the controversies that plagued the early church seem utterly inconsequential; certainly nothing that we could deem indicative of "total apostasy."

In Smith's time, as well as in our own, some of the causes of denominational splits seem comparatively insignificant. The mode of baptism (immersion vs sprinkling), predestination vs freewill (Calvinism vs Armenianism), proper use of spiritual gifts (i.e. tongues) vs the belief that sign miracles have ended (cessationism), and various eschatological (end times) views are among the controversies that have resulted in denominational splits. The fact is that among evangelical Christians, regardless of their particular denomination, there exists great unanimity concerning the essential doctrines of the Bible. Among these are the belief in a triune God, the incarnation of Jesus, His substitutionary death and physical resurrection, and our salvation by grace through faith. We all agree on which books should be regarded as authorative scripture and that they are the final authority on all matters that pertain the faith and conduct. The differences among evangelical Christians rest largely upon fine points of doctrine, and it is misleading for Mormons to claim otherwise.

The Book of Mormon

The Book of Mormon

In 1830, Joseph Smith published the Book of Mormon, which he claimed was actually an ancient record comparable to the Bible. According to Smith, an angelic messenger revealed to him where this record was hidden, and "by the gift and power of God", Smith was able to translate the Hebrew-Egyptian hybrid text into English.

The Book of Mormon claims to document the migration of a Jewish family from Israel to the Americas in around 600 B.C. It further documents the populating of the western world by their descendants and the many great civilizations and battles that arose until A.D. 421. According to the Book of Mormon, the most important event in the history of the Americas was the visitation of Jesus Christ after His resurrection from the dead and His establishing of the church there.

Part of Mormonism's appeal in the nineteenth century was not only its claims of a restored Christianity, but also that it answered the question of the origin of the North American Indian - a subject that occupied much space in the collective nineteenth century American mind. According to the Book of Mormon, the question of the origin of the North American Indians was simple: they are the descendants of the Israelite immigrants that arrived in the New World approximately 600 years before the birth of Christ.

No doubt, many placed their trust in Smith's claims largely due to the Book of Mormon, which, unlike a simple creedal statement regarding the Bible actually was a bible. In others words, unlike creedal and doctrinal statements, the Book of Mormon was something solid and tangible, and could be subjected to test. As we shall see in the following section, the great attraction here was the very fact that the book could be tested. Whether or not the book could actually convincingly past any of the tests applied to it seemed an unimportant matter to many of its proponents.

The following points demonstrate that the Book of Mormon was not only unnecessary from a biblical standpoint, but historically unsubstantiated. Furthermore, that much evidence exists that actually points to the fraudulent nature of the book.

The Canon is Closed - Reasons

Mormons believe that it is in the Book of Mormon that the "fullness of the Gospel"is to be found. This belief presupposes that the Bible is inadequate and incomplete in matters pertinent to faith and conduct. The scriptures themselves however, argue against the notion that additional scriptures were needed beyond the last book of the Bible - the book of Revelation. Below are some reasons for believing that the cannon of Scripture ought to be regarded as closed.

1. On every canonical list throughout the church's history, the Book of Genesis sits at the beginning, the Book of Revelation at the end.

2. Genesis offers the most complete account of the beginning of the world, while the Book of Revelation gives the most complete picture of how things will end. Together they form appropriate "bookends" between which God has chosen to place his many other Scriptural truths.

3. The Book of Revelation contains the strongest warnings against adding to the Scriptures.

4. The New Testament was written at a time when at least some of the 12 original apostles were alive to authenticate or refute any documents pertinent to Christian doctrines or history. John died shortly after penning the Book of Revelation (c A.D. 95). Any additional scriptures (including the Book of Mormon) are without the support of Christ's original chosen witnesses.

Other "amazing" writings

Oftentimes Mormons will (contrary to their statements about not seeing a need to defend their faith) try to defend the Book of Mormon by saying that Joseph Smith simply could not have produced such a remarkable book. After all, they maintain, Smith was just an ignorant farm boy living in Palmyra New York. How could he have written such a remarkable book, which deals with Near Eastern cultures from centuries ago?

The fact is, the Book of Mormon really isn't that remarkable. As will be shown, its many linguistic and historic anachronisms make it hard to accept it as genuine. As for the idea that an "ignorant farm boy" could not have produced it, even a cursory perusal of English literature proves this claim absolutely false. Below are the names and some of the accomplishments of men and women who had educational levels comparable to Smith's, who produced written works of equal or greater literary value:

1. Pearl Curran (1883-1938)-From 1913 until her death in 1938, Pearl Curran wrote an incredible amount of material. In one night alone she produced 22 poems, and over a five year stretch, was able to record 1,600,000 words (about six times the length of the Book of Mormon). Her voluminous writings included works of historical fiction, one of which, "Hope Trueblood", earned the following review from the editors of the Sheffield Independent:

"Patience worth (Curran's pseudonym) must command a wide field of readers by the sheer excellence of Hope Trueblood, which contains sufficient high-grade characters, splendidly fashioned, to stock half a dozen novels."

From a Reader's Digest publication we read concerning this remarkable lady:

"Mrs. J.H. Curran, of St. Louis, Missouri, was no scholar. She had little knowledge of history, only a slight interest in books, and even less idea of the intricacies of language history. Yet from her poured a stream of writings that astonished the most eminent academics on both sides of the Atlantic." Strange Stories, Amazing facts", Readers Digest Association, Inc., 1976, p. 393

2. Mohammed (A.D. 570)-Mohammed, the founder of the Islamic religion is credited with producing the Koran, one of the most influential books of all time. Just as Mormons believe that Joseph Smith was not the author of the Book or Mormon (but simply its translator), Moslems believe that Mohammed was not the author of the Koran. They believe that Muhammad was merely the recipient of the Koran. Their chief argument for this claim, not unlike the Mormon claims about Joseph Smith, is that Mohammed was too unlearned to produce such a book.

From http://www.themodernreligion.com/basic/quran/quran_who_wrote.htm:

"[Mohammed] was illiterate !! How can an illiterate person come up with such a rich, poetic, intellectual, and inspiring text that it rocked the entire Arabia? Mohammad (pbuh) never went to school! No one taught him. He had no teacher of any kind in any subjects…When Quran was revealed, the Arabic language was at its peak in richness, poetic value, literature, etc. Quran came and challenged the best literature in Arabic, the best poetry in Arabic of the time. Mohammad (pbuh) being illiterate couldn't possibly have come up with something so immaculate that it even exceeded the best of poetry, and literature in Arabic at the time of the language's PEAK development. Arabic language had never been so rich in expression, poetic value, vocabulary, and variety in literature, as it was in the time of Quran. At a time like this, Quran came and exceeded the best of Arabic in all aspects of the language: poetry, literature, expression, etc. Any classical Arabic speaker would appreciate the unbeatten, unchallenged, and unmatched beauty of the language of Quran. An illiterate man is simply not capable of writing such a book."

Though the idea that Mohammed was indeed illiterate remains debatable, it is certain that he had little or no formal education. Regardless, this intelligent and creative individual was able to produce a written work which according to many, exceeds the Book of Mormon in its literary value.

3. William Henry Ireland- In the late 18th century, Ireland began producing forgeries of Shakespearean plays which were so convincing that even the experts were fooled. Encouraged by his success, in 1795, Ireland produced a manuscript of King Lear and parts of Hamlet. Experts and critics alike were willing to testify to their genuiness. Still only a teen, Ireland claimed that he had discovered a previously unknown play of Shakespeare's. In two months he produced a play of 2800 lines. The work was so convincing that even dramatist Richard Sheridan was fooled:

"Although Sheridan questioned the play's quality, he did not doubt its authenticity, and bought it for about 300 [pounds] and a share of the profits from its production on the stage." Readers Digest, "Strange Stories, Amazing Facts", 1976, p. 476

Many more remarkable accomplishments by young people are documented in "At First Glance: Childhood Creations of the Famous", by Tuli Kupferberg and Sylvia Topp, Hammond Inc., New Jersey, 1978. The point is, the claim that the Book of Mormon must be authentic because Joseph Smith had little education is utterly fallacious.

Books that predate the Book of Mormon

In Joseph Smith's day, speculation abounded regarding the origin of the North American Indians. One National Geographic article stated:

"And their [Native American burial mounds] discovery led to wild speculation. Accounts of the 18th and 19th centuries, reflecting the attitudes of their times, simply could not credit the mounds to those 'forest primitives', the eastern Indians. Gradually conjecture crystallized into a myth of "Mound Builders', a highly civilized race that supposedly flourished before the Indians came." National Geographic, "Who Were the Mound Builders?", December, 1972, p. 787

Many books dealing with this issue were published prior to the Book of Mormon. Below I've listed a few. Are the striking similarities they bear with the Book of Mormon just a coincidence?

A View of the Hebrews By Ethan Smith (1825) - This book suggests that the 10 "lost tribes" of Israel migrated to the Americas, and that the Native American Indians were related to the Israelites. He also mentions an Indian legend of a "lost book" which would one day be returned. Like the Book of Mormon, Ethan Smith quoted heavily from the Book of Isaiah.

Sketches of Ancient History of the Nations by David Cusick (1828) - This source records Indian fables, one of which speaks of descendants of brothers who were continually at war until one group was finally destroyed in North America.

The History of the American Indians by James Adair (1775) - Adair lists what he feels are parallels between the Israelites and the Indians. Among these are the claims that the Indians spoke a corrupt form of Hebrew, honoured the Jewish Sabbath, practised circumscision, and offered animal sacrifice.

An Attempt to Shew the America Must be Known to the Ancients by Samuel Mather (1773) - Mather states that Americas was populated by two major migrations, one from the Tower of Babel, the other centuries later from Asia or Phoenicia. He also proposes that America was visited by the apostles or perhaps the 70.

History of the State of New York by John Yates (1824) - Yates believed that white-skinned people built many of the civilisations in the Americas, but were wiped out by the Indians.

The parallels between these sources and the Book of Mormon are impossible to miss. Admittedly, it is not possible to state with 100% certainty which if any of these was Smith's primary source for the Book of Mormon. We may be sure, however, speculation about the origin of the North American Indian abounded in Smith's day, and that many of the currently popular ideas (now discarded) appear in Smith's Book of Mormon.

The Fictitious Reformed Egyptian

Joseph Smith claimed that the Book of Mormon was written in a strange Hebrew-Egyptian hybrid language which he called "reformed Egyptian." By the "gift and power of God", Smith claimed to have made a perfect translation of this text, which has since become known as the Book of Mormon.

Smith's claim that Jewish folks recorded their family history in an Egyptian script seems to run contrary to what we read in scripture, and what we find archaeologically. His reasons for making such a claim, however, are perfectly understandable. Smith was no dummy. He was almost certainly aware that anyone conversant in Hebrew would readily recognize that his Book of Mormon was no translation, but a 19th century work of historical fiction. The claim that the text was originally in Egyptian, and as yet poorly understood language, insulated him from criticism. Claiming that it was written in an unheard of Egyptian-hybrid language only served to further insulate himself and his questionable translating skills.

The problem for Smith, as noted above, is that claiming Israelites wrote their family history in any form of Egyptian makes not the slightest biblical sense . Below are portions of scripture which I believe negate Smith's claim that "Reformed Egyptian" was used by God's people.

1. An interpreter needed

Joseph was in Egypt in the 19th century B.C. At this early stage we read in Genesis 42:23 that the Egyptians spoke a different language from Jacob and his sons. In this passage we learn that communication was done through an interpreter.

2. Egypt had a Strange Language - The Psalmist writes:

"When Israel went out of Egypt, the house of Jacob from a people of strange language. Judah was his sanctuary, and Israel his dominion." Psalm 114:1-2

Though the date of this Psalm remains uncertain, the fact that Judah and Israel are mentioned separately argues for assigning it to a date after the Kingdom was divided (post 931 B.C.) The Psalmist tells us that even during the Exodus (even after 400 years of slavery in Egypt, around 1450 B.C.) the Egyptians were regarded as a people of strange language. This is only one of several scriptures which argue for the idea that a distinction was maintained, even linguistically, between the Israelites and their Egyptian oppressors.

3. Asaph, one of David's musicians (c1000 B.C.) wrote:

"This he ordained in Joseph for a testimony, when he went out through the land of Egypt: where I heard a language that I understood not." Psalm 81:5 (A Psalm of Asaph)

If we take the Psalm at face value, Asaph himself visited Egypt and was unable to understand the language there. This is significant. Asaph is a recorder of God's inspired word no less than Jeremiah or Isaiah (Jesus said that "…all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the Law of Moses, and in the Prophets, and in the Psalms, concerning me." Luke 24:44), yet this scribe was completely ignorant of the Egyptian language.

That Hebrew was used as far back as the 10th century is not only gleaned from the words of David's musician Asaph, but has also been confirmed through an archaeological discovery made at Tel Zayit in July, 2005. For more on this discovery see the article on the Jewish Virtual Library Site (http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/) Also see John Noble Wilford, "A is for Ancient: Describing an Alphabet Found Near Jerusalem", The New York Times. Nov. 9, 2005

4. Distinction maintained

That a distinction was maintained between the Israelites and the Egyptians is seen in Genesis 43:32, where we read that the Egyptians regarded eating with Hebrews as an abomination. Furthermore, Genesis 46:33-34 describes how Joseph counselled his kin to declare their occupation as Shepherds to the Pharaoh:

"And it shall come to pass, when Pharosh shall call you, and shall say, What is your occupation? That ye shall say, Thy servants trade hath been about cattle from our youth even until now, both we, and also our fathers: that ye may dwell in the land of Goshen; for every shepherd is an abomination unto the Egyptians."

The whole point in the Israelites declaring their occupation as shepherds to the Pharaoh was to ensure that a distinction was maintained between these two people groups.

5. "Jot and Tittle"

In John 7:19 Jesus declared that it was Moses who handed down the law. Concerning the language of the Torah, the Lord declared:

"For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled." Matthew 5:18

A jot is the smallest letter in Hebrew alphabet. The tittle is the smallest character of the Hebrew alphabet used to distinguish one letter from a similar looking letter. Whatever the doctrinal significance of Jesus statement may be, the point cannot be missed that the Torah was seen as a decidedly Hebrew text. Jots and tittles are not part of the Egyptian alphabet.

6. Oldest Torah Portion - 600 BC

Jesus' claim that the Torah was written with Hebrew "Jots and Tittles" (as opposed to some Hebrew-Egyptian text) was further substantiated by a remarkable find made in 1979. The oldest portions of the Old Testament, dated to 600 BC (contemporary with Lehi's supposed journey to the Americas according to the book of Mormon) were portions of Numbers and Deuteronomy - the last two books of the law.

"In 1979 Israeli archaeologist Gabriel Barkay found two tiny silver scrolls inside a Jerusalem tomb. They were dated to around 600 B.C., shortly before the destruction of Solomon's temple and the Israelites' exile in Babylon. When scientists carefully unrolled the scrolls at the Israel Museum, they found a benediction from the book of Numbers etched into their surface. The discovery made it clear that parts of the Old Testament were being copied long before some skeptics had believed they were even written." "Are the Bible Stories True?", Time Magazine, December 18, 1995, Volume 146, No. 25

The point should not be missed. In 600 BC, the Israelites were recording their scriptures in Hebrew. There is not a hint that any "reformed Egyptian" was employed for this purpose.

7. At war with Egypt

Mormon apologists bent on defending the idea that a "reformed Egyptian" text did indeed exist, often point out that Egypt and Israel were not always enemies. They usually argue that since these two nations had engaged in trade relations, it is highly likely that hybrid language would come into use.

The problem for the Mormon apologist here is to demonstrate that scripture was recorded this way. Even if we grant, with much reservation, that "reformed Egyptian" ever existed (contrary to the archaeological data), it remains to be seen whether or not it was utilised in the recording of divine Scripture. It cannot be denied that Scripture represents a totally unique text than say, records concerning economic intercourse between these two nations. The Bible is ever so clear that a distinction was maintained between the sacred and the profane as far as Egypt was concerned.

In 1 Kings 9:24 and 2 Chronicles 8:11, we read how Solomon built for his Egyptian wife a house at Millo. Why was this done? The text goes on to say that this was because the ark of the covenant resided in Jerusalem, and the presence of this Egyptian, presumably, would have been dishonoring to God. If Solomon was obedient to the Law of Moses, he would have written out the entire Law himself at some point during his reign (Deuteronomy 17:14-20). Can we honestly believe that he would have written it in Egyptian characters? Unlikely indeed!

After the death of Solomon, the nation was divided into two-Israel to the North and Judah to the South. The Bible is clear that throughout the Northern Kingdom's history, from 931 to 722 B.C., it was governed by a succession of unrighteous kings. Judah in the South, however, faired better, having been ruled by eight righteous kings. As a result, Judah lasted until her invasion by the Babylonians in 586 B.C. Notice that the consistently wicked nation of Israel, not Judah, had sought allegiance with Egypt, beginning with Jeroboam, shortly after the kingdom was divided (931 B.C.) In 925 B.C. the Pharoah Shishak, allied with Israel, led an invasion of Judah's cities

In 2 Chronicles 35:20-23 we read how Godly king Josiah initiated war with Pharoah Necho of Egypt in about 604 B.C. - the time that the Mormon prophet Lehi supposedly began writing his prophecies. The Pharoah defeated Josiah, and then proceeded to subject Judah to heavy taxation. Can we really believe that a godly Judean living at that time would record sacred Scripture in an Egyptian script?

8. Josiah's Copy of the Law (c 600 B.C.)

In 2 Kings 22:8, we read that Hilkiah the priest found the Book of the Law in the temple, which he brought to King Josiah. The text makes it clear that Josiah was ecstatic over the new discovery, and was eager to have his nation obey the Law in its entirety. This means that Josiah himself would have had to have copied out the entire 5 books of Moses in obedience to Deuteronomy 17:18:

"And it shall be, when he [the King] sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites…"

When we consider that Jesus said that the Pentateuch contained Jots and Tittles along with Josiah's obvious antipathy towards the Egyptians, it becomes very difficult to believe that Josiah would have copied the Torah scroll found in the temple into anything other than the Hebrew script.

9. Jeremiah's lament and warnings

The Book of Mormon opens with a family history of Nephi, a supposedly Jewish prophet of God. This history, we are believe was recorded at a time contemporaneous with the biblical prophet Jeremiah. Notice that the entire nation (including Jeremiah) mourned for the godly king Josiah after his death at the hands of the Egyptians (2 Chronicles 35:24-27). Again, how likely is it really to believe that a godly Jewish person living at that time would record their family history in any form of Egyptian?

Also consider the words of Jeremiah, which commanded the Jews not to seek the aid of Egypt:

"And now what hast thou to do in the way of Egypt, to drink the waters of Sihor? Or what hast thou to do in the way of Assyria, to drink the waters of the river? Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backslidings shall reprove thee…" Jeremiah 2:18

Further, we read in chapter 46 that the word of the LORD was against Egypt. "The word of the LORD which came to Jeremiah the prophet against the Gentiles; Against Egypt, against the army of Pharoah-necho, king of Egypt…" Jeremiah 46:1-2

In fact, all of chapter 46 is donated to declaring the judgments which were to come upon the nation of Egypt.

No textual history

One of the greatest evidences of the fraudulent nature of the Book of Mormon is the fact that it has absolutely no textual history. The oldest copy we have of this work was published by Joseph Smith in 1830. Though he claimed that this work was actually a translation from an ancient Hebrew-Egyptian hybrid text, there is absolutely no textual support for this claim. No ancient copies of the Book of Mormon, or even fragments of it have been found in any language. No allusions are made to it in any writings from any culture. This is very unlike the Bible, whose textual support is unmatched by any other ancient document. In the case of the New Testament, this rich textual history extends as far back as the very century in which the events it describes actually took place. That is, portions of New Testament manuscripts have actually been dated to the first century. To date, 88 manuscripts and fragments have been dated by papyrologists to within 200 years of the birth of Christianity. To date, nearly 25,000 portions of the New Testament have discovered in many languages, extending from the 1st through the 9th centuries.

It is obvious from studying these manuscripts that the New Testament Text has not undergone alteration, but may be confidently regarded as reliable. How the Book of Mormon pales in comparison. The sheer lack of manuscript evidence for it must proportional to the amount of blind faith that one must have in order to believe it.

Changes in the Book of Mormon

Knowledgeable Mormons are well aware that the Book of Mormon has undergone serious revision since 1830. Jerald and Sandra Tanner, both ex-Mormons, have meticulously documented every alteration (not including punctuation changes) that has occurred between the 1830 edition and 1964 edition of the Book of Mormon. They discovered that the text had been altered in 3,913 places. Most of these changes were done to correct the extremely bad grammar. Apparently, Smith was trying to make his "bible" sound biblical, and so used Elizabethan English. The problem was that he had no idea how to use such archaic language correctly. This poor understanding of Elizabethan English accounts for the many grammatical errors seen throughout the book (particularly the 1830 ed, though a few such errors still persist in the latest edition).

Smith claimed that the Book of Mormon was the most perfect book ever written. The question then needs to be asked: If the Book of Mormon was so perfect, why was there a need to amend it almost 4,000 times?

Metal books unheard of

Smith claimed that the Book of Mormon was written upon thin metal plates that had the appearance of gold. Mormon depictions of the Book portray it has a great metal book, 6 inches thick, spiral bound. According to numerous portions of the Book of Mormon, this medium for passing along information was quite commonplace in ancient times (See: 1 Nephi 4:38 - "Plates of brass", 1 Nephi 9:1-4 - "Plates of Nephi", Mosiah 21:27 - "Plates of ore" , Mosiah 28:11 - Plates of gold", Jacob 3:14 - "Plates of Jacob"). The fact is, however, that this practise is unknown to anthropologists and archaeologists.

Though some ancient cultures inscribed certain texts onto metal, no work even approaching the length of the Book Mormon was been found. This medium for recording important Scriptural truths is therefore not reflective of ancient near-Eastern culture, and must be regarded suspect. Not only does the Mormon claim conflict with archaeological and anthropological findings, it clearly contradicts the clear teaching of Scripture itself, which is very clear that God's word was recorded predominantly onto either paper (papyrus) or animal skins in scroll form (parchments). For example, we read in Isaiah 34:4:

"And all the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll and all their host shall fall down…" The Hebrew word used here translated scroll is se^pher siphra^h (Strong's #5612). The description of this item being rolled together makes it rather clear that the writer has in mind either paper or leather scrolls. There's no way to "roll togther" a metal book such as the alleged original Book of Mormon. This same Hebrew term (#5612) is used in many instances throughout the Old Testament to describe the medium in on which the inspired word of God was recorded. In these places, the Old King James translators used the word "book", but, as we have just seen, "book" does not quite capture the true essence of a document capable of being rolled together. Concerning the medium on which the Pentateuch (or parts thereof) was recorded, we find this term used in Genesis 5:2, Ex. 17:14, 24:7, Deut. 17:18, 28:58, 28:61, 29:20, 29:21, 29:27, 30:10, 31:24, 31:26, Josh 1:8, 8:31, 8:34, 23:6, 2 Kings 22:8, . Other Old Testament references to the inspired text being written in scroll form are found in Josh 24:26, 2 Kings 22:8, 22:10, 22:11, 22:13, 22:16, 23:2, 23:3, 23:21, 23:24, 1 Chron 29:29, 2 Chron 25:4, 2 Chron 34:14-35:12, Neh 8:1, 8:3, 8:5, 8:8, 8:18, 9:3, 13:1. Jeremiah, supposedly contemporary with Lehi, was commanded (according to the Bible - Jeremiah 30:2):

"Thus speakest the LORD God of Israel, saying, Write thee all the words that I have spoken unto thee in a book." (A similar command is given in 36:2).The inspired writings of Jeremiah the prophet (c600 B.C.) were therefore recorded onto a medium that was able to the rolled up, unlike metal plates.

The New Testament is equally clear that God's inspired was recorded in scroll form. The very first verse of the first New Testament book reads:

"The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham."

The Greek word translated here "book" is "biblos" (Strong's #976). According to "The New Strong's Complete Dictionary of Bible Words", Thomas Nelson, 1996, p. 594, this term is "properly, the inner bark of the papyrus plant, i.e. by implication a sheet or scroll of writing."

Other portions which refer to the New Testament in scroll form include John 20:30, Rev 1:11, 22:7, 22:9, 22:10, 22:18, and 22:19.

Likewise, the Old Testament is referred to throughout the New Testament as existing in scroll form (as opposed to metal plates). For example, see Mark 12:26, Luke 3:4, 4:17, 4:20, 20:42, Acts 1:20, 7:42, Gal 3:10, Heb 9:19.

That important documents, inspired or otherwise were recorded on paper (papyrus) or parchment (animal skins) is indicated in Paul's instructions to Timothy (2 Timothy 4:13):

"The cloak that I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest, bring with thee, and the books, but especially the parchments."

Temple construction impossible

The Book of Mormon claims that around 20 people migrated from the Holy Land to the Americas 600 years before the birth of Christ. We are told in 1 Nephi chapter 5 that within 18 years of their arrival, these immigrants were able to construct a temple "like unto the temple of Solomon; and that "the workmanship thereof was exceeding fine" (1 Nephi 5:16).

The whole idea is absolutely ludicrous when we consider that according to the Bible, Solomon's temple took 7 ½ years to construct, and required 153,000 workers and 30,000 overseers (1 Kings 5:13, 15; 6:1, 38; 9:21; 2 Chronicles 2:2; 17-18).

DNA evidence

In Joseph Smith's day, speculation abounded regarding the true origin of the North American Indians. As noted above, the idea that the Indians were of Jewish descent was not original to Smith. Several books had been published on the subject prior to the Book of Mormon.

The idea that the Indians descended from Jewish immigrants from the Holy Land may have sounded plausible in the early 19th century, but is completely laughable with the advent of DNA testing. To my knowledge, no less than 6 different DNA tests have been done which have utterly decimated the Mormon account of Native American origins. Beyond a shadow of a doubt, the first Americans migrated from Eastern Asia, probably across the bearing straight, entering North America through Alaska and then migrating south. The following quotes from experts in the field of genetic testing were gleaned from a series of interviews, portions of which may appear in the outstanding DVD documentary by Living Hope Ministries (http://www.lhvm.org/):

"Currently on the available evidence there's nothing to suggest a relationship whatsoever with Israelites." Dr. Simon Southerton is a molecular biologist and former Mormon Bishop

"I've been working as an anthropologist either as a graduate student or professional since the early 1980's. I personally have never seen any evidence of Hebrew origin of Native Americans. I don't know of any of my colleagues in mainstream anthropology who are trying to prove a Hebrew origin for Native Americans." Dr. Stephen L. Whittington is a Biological Anthropologist, University of Maine.

"There is no compelling evidence for a connection between Jewish populations and Native American populations based on genetics." Dr. David Glenn Smith, Molecular Anthropologist, University of California-Davis

"I've been involved in a number of research projects that had examined DNA variations in ancient populations in the Americas. I don't know of any data that suggests particular similarity of native American populations to any population of the middle east." Dr. Dennis O'Rourke, Molecular Anthropologist, University of Utah

Mormon Anthropologist Thomas Murphy commented on the DNA evidence by saying:

"Mormon Scholars can pretend like this evidence doesn't exist, which I think is dishonest. We can confront it and we can challenge it. I don't think we (Mormons) would be successful in challenging the data, in fact I don't know of any Mormon scientists that are challenging the finding of geneticists... Most Mormon scholars who commented on the subject, including myself, agree that the American Indians could not possibly be the descendants of the Lamanites. That for the American Indians as a whole, it is genetically impossible (for relation to Lamanite descendants), it's also archaeologically impossible. It's also historically and linguistically impossible."

Lemba tribe - a Case study

Not only does the lack of Jewish genetic markers in the North American Indians refute the Book of Mormon's claims, but an interesting case study made of a tribe in South Africa may be said to "put the last nail in the coffin."

The Lemba tribe in South Africa has preserved in its memory the story of their immigration from Israel at a time very close to Lehi's supposed departure. According to the Lemba, who appear indistinguishable from the other folks in Africa, they are of Jewish ancestry. It was noted that their dietary and ceremonial laws, such as male circumcision and Semitic- sounding clan names seemed to support the Lemba account of their origin. With the advent of DNA testing, the Lemba's claims have been confirmed beyond reasonable doubt. They do indeed possess Jewish genetic markers. (For more on this see: www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/israel/familylemba.html, also see, Owens, K. and M. King. 1999. Genomic views of human history. Science 286: 451-453)

It is therefore reasonable to expect an explanation of the Mormon apologist for why the Lemba's account of their history is corroborated by the presence of Jewish genetic markers, but the Book of Mormon's claims are not.

Native American Memory

The various Native American tribes have all preserved an account of their origins through oral tradition. As far as I'm aware, none of these creation / origin stories can be said to unambiguously support the Mormon claim that these peoples are of Jewish descent.

When all the various lines of evidence are brought together - the Native American morphology, cultural attributes, and archaeological discovery- the overwhelming consensus among anthropologists is that the first Americans entered the New World either from Asia across the bearing straight, or sailed under the glaciers across the North Atlantic ocean.

Alfonso Oritz, himself a Tewa, writes

"I too have been to Soviet Asia and seen cave art and an old ceremonial costume remarkably similar to some found in America." Alfonso Oritz, "Through Tewa Eyes: Origins", National Geographic, October 1991, p. 7

In either case, the first Americans entered the New World in North and migrated southward. This is not written in stone, of course, and there is no biblical conflict with the idea that multiple trans-Atlantic or pacific voyages have been made in the remote past. The point is, the fantastic origin and history of the first Americans as indicated by the Book of Mormon is not supported either by modern anthropological investigation or by the Native American oral tradition. In many cases, the ancient Native American creation / origin accounts actually corroborate current scientific consensus. For example, consider the ancient Tewa song (as recorded in National Geographic, "Though Tewa Eyes: Origins", October 1991):

"Yonder in the north there us singing on the lake. Cloud maidens dance on the shore. There we take our being. Yonder in the north cloud beings rise. They ascend onto cloud blossoms. There we take our being. Yonder in the north rain stands over the land…Yonder in the north stands forth at twilight the arc of a rainbow. There we have our being."

Oritz, further writes,

"Our ancestors came from the north…The Tewa know not when the journey southward began or when it ended, but we do know where it began, how it proceeded, and where it ended. We are unconcerned about time in its historical dimensions, but we will recall in endless detail the features of the 12 places our ancestors stopped. We point to these places to show that the journey did indeed take place." Alfonso Oritz, "Through Tewa Eyes: Origins", National Geographic, October 1991, p. 7

That the first American entered the New World in the North under the glaciers seems to be corroborated by this Paiute Legend:

"Ice had formed ahead of them, and it reached all the way up to the sky. The people couldn't cross it…A raven flew up and struck the ice and cracked it. Coyote said, "These small people can't get across the ice." Another raven flew up again and cracked the ice again. Coyote said, "Try again, try again." Raven flew up again and broke the ice. The people ran across." Paiute Legend, cited in National Geographic, "The First Americans", December, 2000, p. 43

Synagogue use

The Book of Mormon states in Almah 16:13 that:

"…Almah and Amulek went forth preaching repentance to the people in their temples, and in their sanctuaries, and also in their synagogues, which were built after the manner of the Jews."

According to a footnote in the Book of Mormon, Almah and Amulek's preaching activities took place in the Americas around 78 BC. The overwhelming consensus of scholarly opinion is that synagogue construction began in the Holy Land after Jerusalem's destruction (586 B.C.).

"The synagaouge seems to have arsien as a place of instruction and prayer during the exile when temple worship at Jerusalem was impossible; a basis for its origin may be reflected in Ezk. 20:1." The New Concise Bible Dictionary, Edited by Derrik Williams, Inter-Varsity Press, Lion Publishing, Oxford, England, 1989, p. 537

Synagogues originated around 586 B.C. in Babylon during the years of captivity." Steve Herzig, "Jewish Culture and Customs: A Sampler of Jewish Life, Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, 1989, p 68.

"SYNAGOGUE (from the Greek, meaning "assembly"). The Bet Knesset ("House of Meeting" - the Hebrew equivalent for synagogue) can be traced back to the period following the destruction of the First Temple in 586 B.C.E. The exiled Jews in Babylonia gathered at first in private homes, later in special buildings, to read from the Scriptures and to observe holidays." Junior Jewish Encyclopedia 4th Ed., Shengold Publishers, Inc., New York, 1961

Since Lehi's supposed departure from Jerusalem predated this event (600 B.C.), we may rightly ask how Almah could have known what the synagogues of the Jews were like. Historical anachronisms such as this make it difficult to regard the Book of Mormon as a factual historical account.

The furious wind

The Book of Ether states that after the dispersion of peoples at the tower of Babel, certain individuals constructed barges on which they sailed towards the Americas. According to Ether 6:5:

"And it came to pass that the Lord God caused that there should be a furious wind blow upon the face of the waters, towards the promised land, and thus they were tossed upon the waves of the sea before the wind."

How fast were these barges being pushed? The statement that the wind was "furious" would lead us to believe they were really moving, certainly faster than a man can walk. According to Ether 6:11-12:

"And thus they were driven forth, three hundred and forty and four days upon the water. And they did land upon the shore of the Promised Land."[Which we are to believe was the North American continent].

What are we to make of the alleged facts and figures the Book of Mormon has just provided us with? If the "furious wind" only pushed the barges 10 mph (which is slower than the text implies), a journey lasting 344 days would have carried them 82,560 miles.. Since the circumference of the earth at the equator is only 24,902 miles, the barges could have traveled around the earth 3 times in 344 days! In order for such a journey to take 344 days, we must conclude that the "furious wind" wasn't all that furious. Is this not the type of oversight that an uneducated farm boy would make while composing a work of historical fiction?

Geography?

Though some uncertainties exist, the vast majority of places (cities, mountains, rivers, etc) mentioned in the Bible are readily identifiable today. In other words, the Bible is supported by a definite geography; hence, many Bibles include pages of maps to help readers understand the geographic settings and movements of the peoples it describes.

The Book of Mormon is quite another story. The geography of the Book of Mormon is vague at best and none of the sites it describes have been unambiguously identified.

Christians first Named

The Book of Mormon states that believers were first called Christians in the Americas around 73 B.C (Alma 46:16). The Bible on the hand states in Acts 11:26 that believers were first called Christians in Antioch around A.D. 40. Using simple God-given commonsense we ought to be able to figure out which statement is true.

The word "Christian" is of Greek origin, coming from the word "Christos" (from which we get the word Christ - "the anointed one"). The Hebrew term comes to us as "Messiah." Since the Book of Mormon is said to be a Hebrew-Egyptian text describing a pre-Christian Hebrew culture (isolated from the Old World), we may well ask what this Greek term was doing in their vocabulary.

The whole idea that Jewish folks were running around calling themselves Christians in the years preceding the birth of Christ (in a culture removed from Greek influence) is pretty hard to swallow. It smacks more of an oversight on Smith's part as he penned the Book of Mormon, than an actual historic account.

Chronology - Jeremiah in prison

According the Book of Mormon (1 Nephi 1:4), Lehi's supposed journey from Jerusalem took place in the first year of Zedekiah's reign. Zedekiah reigned from 597-587 B.C. - so Lehi's journey took place in 597.596 B.C.) In 1 Nephi 7:14 we read that the biblical prophet Jeremiah had already been thrown in prison. This lay in direct contradiction with the biblical record, which states in Jeremiah 32:1-2 that it wasn't until Zedekiah's 10th year (587 B.C.) that Jeremiah was imprisoned.

Malachi quoted - wrong chronology

The Book or Mormon reads (1 Nephi 22:15):

"For behold, saith the prophet, the time cometh speedily that Satan shall have no more power over the hearts of the children of men; for the day soon cometh that all the proud and they who do wickedly shall be as stubble; and the day cometh that must be burned."

The footnote in the Book of Mormon states that these words were uttered between 588-570 B.C. What does the passage say? It is a citation of a previous prophet's pronouncements, but which prophet? Notice that the passage is almost a word-for-word quotation of the biblical prophet Malachi. So what's the problem?

The overwhelming consensus of scholarly opinion on the matter places the ministry of Malachi around 435 B.C. - after the so-called citation by the Book of Mormon prophet.

The following are some indicators of a 435 B.C. date for Malachi:

1. The temple has already been rebuilt and sacrificial system re-instituted

2. A Persian governor is in authority (could not have been during either of Nehemiah's governorships, which took place in 445 and 433 BC)

3. The sins mentioned parallel those that Nehemiah dealt with

Renown biblical scholar Gleason Archer states ("A Survey of Old Testament Introduction", Moody Press, 1964, pp. 431-432):

"…hence a fair estimate would be about 435 BC. Even rationalist critics…find no objection to this date…"

Levities role at the alter

The Book of Mormon states (Mosiah 2:3) that the Nephites and the Lamanites offered sacrifices and burnt offerings according to the Law of Moses. This is an impossible claim since according to Exodus 28-31, Numbers 3:7, Nehemiah 7:63, 65, and Hebrews 7:12, only those of the tribe of Levi could attend at the alter.

Zedekiah's sons

Jeremiah 39:6 states that:

"…the king of Babylon slew the sons of Zedekiah in Riblah before his eyes: also the king of Babylon slew all the nobles of Judah."

The history presented in the Book of Mormon is in hopeless contradiction to the Bible. Helaman 8:21 states that one of

Zedekiah's sons was not slain:

"Will ye say that the sons of Zedekiah were not slain, all except it were Mulek? Yea, and do ye not behold that the seed of Zedekiah are with us, and they were driven out of the land of Jerusalem."

I can't see any way of reconciling this contradiction reasonably. If "Mulek" was a son of King Zedekiah, then he would have been a noble of Judah. Jeremiah is clear that all the nobles of Jerusalem were killed.

Paul states in 1 Corinthians 4:6:

"And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes; that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written."

So if Christians were obedient to this command, they would have had an entirely wrong idea about what really happened to Zedekiah's sons. After all, Jeremiah 39 could hardly be clearer that all of Zedekiah's sons were killed.. Is this really how the God of the Bible operates?

"And it came to pass" - misused

The phrase "and it came to pass" is a prominent feature of the Old King James Bible, and is used to translate the versatile Hebrew term "weyehi". This verb may also be translated "he was" or "it was". In Genesis chapter one we read, "There was evening and there was morning…" The "was" in this phrase is "weyehi". The same rendering of "weyehi" is seen in Genesis 5:32: "And Noah was five hundred years old…"

When the Old King James renders the term "and it came to pass" it does so correctly, and always within a chronological context. In other words, the phrase "and it came to pass" is always followed to by a reference to time. Some examples:

"And it came to pass when they were in the field…" Genesis 4:8

"And it came to pass on the day when the LORD spake unto Moses…" Exodus 6:28

"And it came to pass, that on the morrow Moses went into the tabernacle of witness…" Numbers 17:8

"And it came to pass, when all the people were clean passed over Jordan…" Joshua 4:1

"And it came to pass when Israel was strong…" Judges 1:28

Notice that in each phrase there is a reference to time: "when they were in the field", "on the day that the LORD spake unto Moses", "on the morrow", "when all the people were passed over Jordan", "when Israel was strong", etc

If the Book of Mormon really was a translation from a Hebrew text, then we ought to expect the same usage of "and it came to pass". This is not what we find.

"And it came to pass that he returned to his own house at Jerusalem." 1 Nephi 1:7

"And it came to pass because of their rebellion we did cause that our swords should come upon them." Alma 57:33

"And it came to pass that the brother of Jared did cry unto the Lord…" Ether 1:35

Though the Book of Mormon use of "and it came to pass" parallels the correct usage seen in the King James Bible, in most cases, like the three examples given above, it does not. It is far more likely that the Book of Mormon is not a translation of an ancient text at all, but is a nineteenth century forgery which was heavily influenced by the Old King James Bible. This suspicion becomes all the more probable as other linguistic issues concerning the Book of Mormon are considered.

"And, behold, it came to pass"

Like the phrase "and it came to pass", the term "behold" is another prominent feature of the Old King James Bible. It's usage in the Book of Mormon likewise represents a major departure from the Hebrew idiom. For example, consider 1 Nephi 3:13

"And behold, it came to pass that Laban was angry."

The phrase is utterly impossible in Hebrew. The term translated "and" is integrally connected to "it came to pass". It is simply not possible to insert the Hebrew term "Hinneh" (behold) between the two parts. Therefore, 1 Nephi 3:13 and others like do not represent a Hebrew original, but a forgery intended to sound "biblical".

Incorrect pronoun use

It's no secret that the Old King James Bible differs stylistically from the English we commonly use today. The most prominent difference is the use of certain archaic pronouns (the "thee's" and "thou's"). In Joseph's Smith's day, this Elizabethan English was already archaic, and it is clear that he was uncertain about its proper usage. Consider 1 Nephi 11:7:

"And behold this thing shall be given to thee for a sign, and after thou hast beheld the tree which bore the fruit which thy father tasted, thou shalt also behold a man descending out of heaven, and him shall ye witness; and after ye have witnessed him ye shall bare record that it is the Son of God."

Here the verse begins with the second person singular pronouns "thee" and "thy", but ends using the second person plural pronoun "ye". It's obvious Smith wanted his "bible" to sound biblical, but really didn't understand how to use such archaic English. Mosiah 4:22 is another example:

"…and yet ye put up no petition, nor repent of the thing which thou hast done."

Again, the writer addresses a plural audience (ye), but switches mid-sentence to the singular (thou). Again, we must suspect that the Book of Mormon is really a nineteenth century hoax, heavily influenced by the Old King James Bible.

"Pleasant pictures"

The Book of Mormon contains huge sections from the Bible - particularly the prophet Isaiah. Though minor variations exist, these sections repeat the King James text verbatim. Remember, Smith claimed to be translating an ancient work "by the gift and power of God". So it is rather curious therefore, that in several places Smith chose to follow the King James Bible's unique - and not always the most accurate - readings. To me, this is a sure sign that the Book of Mormon is not a genuine translation, but a nineteenth century hoax heavily influenced by the King James Bible. 2 Nephi 13:16 is a case in point.

Directly quoting Isaiah 2:16 the text reads:

"And upon all the ships of the sea, and upon all the ships of Tarshish, and upon all pleasant pictures."

The KJV reads:

"And upon all the ships of Tarshish, and upon all pleasant pictures."

Both translate chemda^h (Strong's #2532 - Delight) uniquely as "Pleasant". Likewise, both translate s´eki^ya^h (Strong's #7914-a conspicuous object) as "Pictures".

In context, the verse is talking about impressive sea-going vessels. Hence, other translations render these words alternatively as:

NIV - "every stately vessel"

NKJV - "all the beautiful slopes"

RSV - "All the beautiful craft"

LXX - "upon every display of fine ships"

ASV - "upon all pleasant imagery"

GWT - "…all the beautiful boats."

NASB - "…all the beautiful craft."

NLB-"…all the proud ocean ships."

That Smith would follow the KJV here strongly implies he was influenced by it, rather than a genuine Hebrew/Egyptian text.

Fenced vs dug

Speaking metaphorically of Israel as a vineyard, Isaiah writes (5:2)

"And he fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it…"

The Book of Mormon (2 Nephi 15:2) follows this reading "he fenced it". The problem is, the Hebrew word translated "fenced" (Hebrew "Azaq" ,Strong's #5823) actually means "to grub over". What does "grub over" mean? The Webster's Dictionary defines Grub as: "to dig in the ground."

Hence Peter Flint's rendering of the verse from the Dead Sea Scrolls Bible: "He dug it out."

Again, the fact that Smith chose to follow the KJV's unique reading would argue against his claims of having independently translated an ancient Hebrew text.

Work vs reward

Both Isaiah 49:4 and 1 Neph 21:4 read: "My work is with my God."

The word translated "work" is the Hebrew pe?u^lla^h (Strong's #6468) and may be translated as "labour", "reward", "wages", "work."

The context makes it clear that here pe?u^lla^h should have better been rendered as "reward", or "wages". Hence Peter Flint's translation of this portion of Isaiah in the Dead Sea Scroll Bible": "My reward is with my God."

It's rather spuscpicious that Smith's translation just happened to match the KJV's unique rendering once again.

Things vs sons

Not every quotation from the Bible in the Book of Mormon is word for word identical. In a few places, minor variations do exist. Mormon's believe this is because Smith was translating a more pure text than what was used to translate the KJV.One such variation exists in Isaiah 51:19. The KJV reads:

"These two things are come unto thee." While the Book of Mormon (2 Nephi 8:19) reads: "These two sons are come unto thee." Which translation appears more "correct?"

Every extant copy of Isaiah formulates this verse in the feminine. The word "sons" (banim) however, is obviously a masculine term and the sentence would have to be formulated accordingly. It is highly unlikely that the Book of Mormon represents the masculine original, seeing there is not a shred of manuscript evidence to support such a claim. The Book of Mormon is not only incorrect, but this verse shows that its author had little or no understanding of the Hebrew language.

Polysemy: Wherefore

Polysemy is a term which describes the variability of certain English words. For example, the word "wherefore" can be used interrogatively ("Why?") or conjunctively ("therefore"). Though this word "wherefore" has this ability in English, the Hebrew word for "Why?" (Maddua) and "therefore" (?al) are quite distinct. Notice now how Isaiah 5:4 is rendered in the Book of Mormon:

"Wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes?" Isaiah 5:4

"Wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes it brought forth wild grapes." 2 Nephi 15:4

Notice what has happened here. Smith has manipulated the text, perhaps to avoid the charge of plagiarism. But notice how he has altered it. He has simply changed the sense in which "wherefore" is used. In the KJV it is interrogative. In the Book of Mormon it is conjunctive. As noted above, though the English term "wherefore" has that kind of flexibility, the Hebrew terms do not. Again, no extant version of Isaiah renders the way Smith has. It is obvious he was simply manipulating the text of the KJV, rather than independently translating an ancient Hebrew document.

Notice that the exact same situation exists in Isaiah 50:2 and 2 Nephi 7:2. The Bible reads: "Wherefore when I came, was there no man? When I called, was there none to answer."

The Book of Mormon states: "Wherefore when I came there was no man; when I called, yea, there was none to answer."

Polysemy: for

A similar situation to Smith's use of the term "therefore" exists regarding Smith's rendering of the term "for".

"I have called my mighty ones for mine anger, even them that rejoice in my highness." Isaiah 13:3

"I have also called my mighty ones, for mine anger is not upon them that rejoice in my highness." 2 Nephi 23:3

"Enter into the rock, and hide thee in the dust, for the fear of the LORD, and for the glory of his majesty." Isaiah 2:10

"Enter into the rock, and hide thee in the dust, for the fear of the LORD, and the glory of his majesty shall smite thee." 2 Nephi 12:10

In both portions of text, the word "for" in the KJV ("mippene" ) is used prepositionally ("because of").

The Book of Mormon uses the word "for" conjunctively. This would require an entirely different Hebrew word (The term "Ki" would be appropriate). Again without MSS support for the claim that the Book of Mormon is right, we must suspect that Smith was using, and occasionally manipulating, an old King James Bible as the bases for his own work.

Boweth vs boweth not

Isaiah 2:8-9 states:

"Their land is also full of idols; they worship the work of their own hands, that which their own fingers have made. And the mean man boweth down, and the great man humbleth himself, therefore, forgive him not."

The meaning of the verse ought to be clear. People in Isaiah's time were bowing down and worshipping idols. The problem extended from the mean man ("Adam", the common man) to the great man ("ish", good, great, mighty, of high degree). The LORD therefore commanded that they were not to be forgiven.

Now consider the Book of Mormon's rendering (2 Nephi 12:8-9):

"Their land is also full of idols; they worship the work of their own hands, that which their own fingers have made. And the mean man boweth not down, and the great man humbleth himself not, therefore, forgive him not."

For some reason Smith added the word "not" to the passage, completely altering the meaning. In Smith's version, a hopeless contradiction exists. The passage begins by stating that the people were worshipping their idols, but ends saying that they were not bowing down (to them). Therefore they were not to be forgiven. Smith's version is a senseless mess, no doubt owing to his lack of comprehension of the passage.

Found vs founded

Here is another case where a variation between the KJV and the Book of Mormon casts serious doubt on Smith's claims. Consider these two texts:

"As my hand hath found the kingdoms of the idols…" Isaiah 10:10

"As my hand hath founded the kingdoms of the idols…" 2 Nephi 20:10

One could understand how, if Smith was merely copying from a KJV or if it was being read to him, he could have recorded the word "founded" instead of "found." In Hebrew, however, the difference is far more profound.

The term translated "Found" is the Hebrew Strong's #4672-"Matsa"

The term translated "Founded" is the Hebrew Strong's #3245-"Yasad"

Again, the Book of Mormon finds no textual support for this variation. This along with the obvious similarity between "found" and "founded" in English, makes it virtually certain that Smith was simply working from a KJV Bible rather than some ancient Hebrew manuscript.

Raiment vs remnant

Another telling variation between the Book of Mormon and the KJV:

"But thou art cast out of thy grave like an abominable branch, and as the raiment of those that are slain, thrust through with a sword, that go down to the stones of the pit; as a carcass trodden under feet."Isaiah 14:19

"But thou art cast out of thy grave like an abominable branch, and as the remnant of those that are slain, thrust through with a sword, that go down to the stones of the pit; as a carcass trodden under feet." 2 Nephi 24:19

For some reason, Smith substituted remnant for raiment. Of course the two terms have nothing to do with each other ("Raiment" is a translation of the Hebrew "Le-Boosh" - Strong's # 3830: Garment, clothing, vesture; whereas "Remnant" is a translation of the Hebrew "Yeter" - Strong's #8499: remainder, the rest, what is left over)

One Mormon missionary countered this point by stating that according to the dictionary, a remnant could refer to a piece of thread. In his mind, a piece of thread was equal to an entire article of clothing. Not quite. Besides, it is a distinct possibility the Old KJV language has obscured the meaning of this verse.

The verse is probably not referring to articles of clothing as the "raiment of those that are slain." Rather, the text is probably declaring that the one to whom the words of rebuke are directed would be clothed with them that are slain. In other words, the bodies of those slain would cover him - these corpses would become his "clothing"; his "raiment". Lest you think this interpretation improbable consider that several able translators have adopted it:

"You are cast out of your tomb like a rejected branch; you are covered with the slain, with those pierced by the sword…" Isaiah 14:19 (NIV)

"but you are cast out, away from your sepulchre, like a loathed untimely birth, clothed with the slain, those pierced by the sword…" Isaiah 14:19 (RSV)

"But you have been cast out of your tomb like a rejected branch, clothed with the slain who are pierced with a sword…" Isaiah 14:19 (NASB)

"But you are thrown out of your tomb like a rejected branch. You are covered with those who were killed in battle…" Isaiah 14:19 (GWT)

"but your body is thrown out like a broken branch; it lies in an open grave, covered with the dead bodies of those slain in battle…" Isaiah 14:19 (LB)

The Book of Mormon's version, therefore, without textual support, is unlikely indeed. Most probably, the raiment / remnant switch was due to Smith's carelessness while copying from the KJV (since the words do look alike in English).

Cherubims

The word "cherub" is not a translation, but a transliteration from the Hebrew. Specifically, a cherub is generally believed to be an angelic, heavenly being. In Hebrew the plural form of cherub would not be cherubs, but cherubim (like the plural of "mouse" is not "mouses", but "mice").

In many places the KJV translators mistakenly pluralized the already plural "cherubim" and rendered it "cherubims" (Genesis 3:24, Exodus 25:18-20, Numbers 7:89, 1 Samuel 4:4, etc). These translators were highly educated men, and they produced what I feel is the best English Bible in the world today. Even so, oversights like this do crop up from time to time. This is to be expected, however, since the translators themselves only stated that they did the best they could with the materials and skills they had at their disposal. At no time did any of them claim that their translation was inspired and infallible. Smith on the other hand claimed that his book was absolutely perfect, and that his translation was through the "gift and power of God." Why then, did he follow the KJV error in mistranslating "cherubims" (Almah 12:21, 42:2-3)? Uneducated in Hebrew, Smith was obviously simply plagiarizing the KJV Bible, unaware of the error he was copying into his own book.

Sea vs Red Sea

Isaiah 9:1 reads:

"Nevertheless the dimness shall not be such as was in her vexation, when at the first he lightly afflicted the land of Zebulun and the land of Nephtali, and afterward did more grievously afflict her by way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, in Galilee of the nations."

2 Nephi 19:1 reads:

"Nevertheless the dimness shall not be such as was in her vexation, when at the first he lightly afflicted the land of Zebulun and the land of Nephtali, and afterward did more grievously afflict her by way of the Red sea, beyond the Jordan, in Galilee of the nations."

For some reason Smith has placed the Red Sea in Galilee! I brought this up to a couple of Mormon missionaries and asked them if they knew where the Sea of Galilee was. They did not. Neither did they know where the Red Sea was. I showed them on a map that the only sea in Galilee is the Sea of Galilee! The Red Sea is more than 200 mile to the south! Here we have an obvious geographical error. The Mormons I talked with just shrugged their shoulders and assured me that the Book of Mormon was correct; this despite the fact that there is absolutely no manuscript evidence for Smith's version.

God's covenant name - missing

The KJV Old Testament is replete with the word LORD. This (all capitols) let's the reader know that there in the Hebrew text stands God's covenant name YHVH (sometimes rendered in English as Yahweh, Yahveh, Jahweh, or Jahveh). Trace how many times LORD appears in the Old Testament. It's obvious that God wanted us to know and revere His Holy name (it's unfortunate that most Bibles have replaced it with LORD in my opinion).

Interestingly, Jeremiah 23:27 states that God's people had forgotten His name for Baal. Baal is the Hebrew Strong's # 1168 and is defined as "master", "owner", and "lord".

The KJV, though an outstanding translation, I think erred in not preserving God's covenant name in the text. Remember that the translators themselves never claimed that their translation was inspired or absolutely perfect. They simply did the best they could, which, in my opinion, was enough to produce the best English version of the Bible in the world today. Smith on the other hand is a different story. He claimed to have produced a perfect book by the power God.

Curiously absent from this "perfect book" which we are told is "comparable to the Bible", is any mention of God's covenant name. Considering the absolute importance God's name is given in the Old Testament, its absence in the Book of Mormon is more than curious. It is a telltale sign that the Book of Mormon is forgery, heavily influenced by the KJV Bible.

Extraneous words

Jacob 4:1 reads:

"Now, behold, it came to pass that I, Jacob, having ministered much unto my people in word, (and I cannot write but a little of my words, because of the difficulty of engraving our words upon plates)…"

This passage seems to indicate that only the most important details were recorded by the prophet because engraving them onto the metal plates was difficult. One would be excused for wondering why these Jewish folks living in the Americas didn't simply record their writings the way their brothers in the Holy Land did - on paper scrolls. Obviously it would have been far less difficult, and would have been a whole lot easier the carry around than a hundred pound metal book.

Even if we grant that the Book of Mormon was recorded using this difficult method, why in the world then is it so wordy? The endlessly repetitive phrase "it came to pass" appears more than 2,000 times in the Book of Mormon (often used in a way very incongruent with the Hebrew idiom). The phrase, as noted above, is a prominent feature in the KJV (though used correctly). As far as unnecessary wordiness goes, 4 Nephi 4:6 wins the prize. This passage uses 57 words to merely tell us that 59 years had passed! It is very reasonable therefore, to suspect that the Book of Mormon was never recorded on "plates of brass", but is in reality a nineteenth century work of historical fiction.

Greek words

Everyone and his dog know that the Old Testament was written in Hebrew, and that all 39 of its books were completed some 400 years before the birth of Christ. The New Testament, on the other hand, was written in the Greek language in the first century. It is a well-known fact that the Greek language and culture spread far and wide throughout the ancient east due to the conquests of Alexander the Great (4th century BC).

According to the Book of Mormon, Jews had fled to the Americas before theGreek culture had gained any sort of foothold in the near east. At the time of Lehi's supposed departure from Jerusalem, Babylon was the reigning super power. The Med-Persian Empire would conquer it in the sixth century BC. As just mentioned, it was not until the 4th century under Alexander that the Greek language began to really gain a foothold.

It is curious therefore, to find so much Greek influence in the Book of Mormon - a book which was supposedly written by Jewish prophet-scribes who were far removed from any such influence. For example, Book of Mormon uses the word "Christ" when speaking of Jesus. "Christ" is really a transliterated English word from the Greek "Christos" which means "anointed one". In Hebrew, the term is ma^shi^yach, which we transliterate as "Messiah". The inclusion of "Christ" is therefore curious, and leads one to suspect that Smith was simply using "biblical" terminology while concocting his Book of Mormon.

A second example is the use of the word "bible" which is used no less than 9 times in 2 Nephi 29:3,4,6. The word "Bible" is a transliterated Greek word - biblos (plural, biblion) - which simply means "book."

In Ecclesiastes 12:12, Solomon states that:

"…of making many books there is no end…"

Here the term translated "books" is the Hebrew siphra^h (Strong's #5612). The prophecy in 2 Nephi 29: 3 states: "And because my words shall hiss forth - many of the Gentiles shall say: A Bible! A Bible! We have got a Bible, and there cannot be any more Bible."

If this prophecy was truly written in a Hebrew script, then siphra^h would likely have been the term used. A proper rendering of 2 Nephi 29:3 should have been something like:

"And because my words shall hiss forth - many of the Gentiles shall say: Books! Books! We have got Books, and there cannot be any more books.

There simply is no reasonable explanation for the use of this Greek term other than to suppose that Smith, knowing that opposition to his Book of Mormon from Bible - believing Christians was inevitable, inserted this "prophecy" into the text. In his zeal to give his book credibility by "predicting" the arguments of his Christian detractors, Smith actually tipped his hand. The use of a Greek word like "Bible" really shows the fraudulent nature of the Book of Mormon.

Agape Explained

Moroni 7:47 states:

"Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail-But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever…"

This is an obvious rip-off of Paul's words in 1 Corinthians chapter 13:3-8

"And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth no thave not charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth: but whether there be propheies, they shall fail; whether there by tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away."

The word translated "charity" here is the Greek "Agape" (Strong's #26) which means "love" in the purest sense of the word. The term "charity" is somewhat archaic these days, and in Joseph Smith's time, hence virtually all other translations render the word "Agape" simply as "love".

Notice how the book of Mormon defines this archaic term for us: "charity is the pure love of Christ". The same definition of "charity" is given in Moroni 8:17 ("And I am filled with charity, which is everlasting love…"). Retaining the archaic term, then defining it like strongly suggests that what we have in the Book of Mormon is simply and English work, dressed up to look "biblical".

Romans and the Book of Mormon

Isaiah 65:2 states:

"I have spread out my hands all the day unto a rebellious people, which walketh in a way that was not good, after their own thoughts…"

The apostle Paul cites this verse and paraphrasing a bit in Romans 10: 21, renders it:

"But to Israel he saith, All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people."

In the Book of Mormon (Jacob 6:4), supposedly written between 544 and 421 BC we read:

"And how merciful is our God unto us, for he remembereth the house of Israel, both roots and branches; and he stretches forth his hands unto them all the day long; and they are a stiffnecked and a gainsaying people…"

Note how Jacob 6:4 looks more like a quote of Paul's words (written centuries later) than Isaiah's. In both Jacob 6:4 and Romans 10:21, the verb "stretch forth" is used instead of "spread out." Likewise, both Romans and Jacob refer to the people as "gainsaying" which is really not an exact equivalent of the Hebrew sa^rar, which according to the Strong's is defined as "to turn away, that is, (morally) be refractory:- X away, backsliding, rebellious, revolter (-ing), slide back, stubborn, withdrew."

The term rendered "gainsaying" in Romans 10:21 is the Greek "antilego¯" which is defined as: "to dispute, refuse:-answer again, contradict, deny, gainsay (-er), speak against." It is rather curious that the Book of Mormon echoes a New Testament text this way.

It's obvious that the author of the Book of Mormon was acquainted with the New Testament, which argues against the BC date for the book of Jacob.

Senseless phrases

Mormons often point out that Joseph Smith was a man of poor education, and therefore could never have produced such a remarkable book as the Book of Mormon. Below are sections from the "remarkable" book that could easily be attributed to an imaginative but poorly educated farmer:

"And again, my brethren, I would cite your minds forward to the time when the Lord God gave these commandments unto his children…" Almah 13:1

How does one cite their minds forward to something that happened in the past?

"… and thus we see that they buried their weapons of peace, or they buried their weapons of war for peace." Almah 24:19 What in the world is a weapon of peace and could it possibly be used as a weapon of war?

"… they being shielded from the more vital parts of the body…"Almah 43:38 How does one shield oneself from one's own vital parts of their body? Senseless!

"Now, immediately when the judge had been murdered - being stabbed by his brother by a garb of secrecy, and he fled…" Helaman 9:6 How is one stabbed by a garb (clothing) of secrecy?

Doctrinal Issues

Doctrinal Issues

Different gospel

The great apostle Paul appeared greatly concerned that Christians be not tricked into accepting a phoney gospel. We must believe that Paul's fears were well-founded, that is, that false gospels exist and can be quite persuasive. Paul warned his readers:

"But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, In any man preach any other gospel unto you than that which ye have received, let him be accursed." Galatians 1:8-9

The Gospel presented in the Bible is so clear a child can understand it. We all have rebelled against God (sinned) and as guilty sinners, are condemned to death and eternal separation from Him. The good news (the Gospel) is that God's Son Jesus paid the penalty of death and separation from God on our behalf. This is a gift from Him to us. All we need to do is accept the gift by faith in what Jesus did for us personally, and the Bible promises that a right relationship with God will be restored, both now and in the hereafter.

That salvation is a gift apart from any human effort is made clear in many passages. Below is a few:

-"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast." Ephesians 2:8-9

-"Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness." Romans 4:4-5

-"Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost, which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; Titus 3:5-6

-"To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins" Acts 10:43

-"Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life." John 6:47

-"But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name." John 1:12

-"Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent." John 6:29

How different the simple Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is from the Mormon corruption, which involves human effort:

"Nevertheless, he that repents and does the commandments of the Lord shall be forgiven;" Doctrines and Covenants 1:32

"For we labor diligently to right, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do." 2 Nephi 25:23b

The Mormon gospel is sheer blasphemy. By stating that human effort is in any way part of being saved they are in effect declaring that the work of Jesus Christ on the cross was inadequate and incomplete. What more can be said? A works-based gospel, which is what the Mormon's are propagating, is not the Gospel of the Bible. Those that propagated a different gospel, Paul reminded us, ought to be accursed.

Different gods and false prophets

Joseph Smith claimed that he had a visitation from both God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. In his words:

"It no sooner appeared than I found myself delivered from the enemy which held me bound. When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other - This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!" Joseph Smith - History 1:17

Smith was adamant that God the Father had a flesh and body. Mormon missionaries are equally resolute on this point. The words of Scripture, however, clearly argue against this notion of God having a corporeal body. In John 4:24 Jesus states that:

"God is a spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and truth." John 4:24

There can be no doubt as to the spirits incorporeality: In Luke 24:39 the resurrected Jesus invites His startled disciples to test whether He was just a spirit. He states:

"Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit hath not flesh and bones as ye see me have."

I really don't know how much clearer the word of God has to be. A person has got to be pretty brain-washed not to understand what Scripture is saying here about the nature of God. Notice that Scripture also has some things to say about the nature of false prophets.

"If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, and the sign or wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams:" Deuteronomy 13:1-3

Since Joseph Smith did indeed counsel people to go after a different god, he must be regarded as a false prophet.

Pre-existence

Mormons believe that humans pre-existed in some spirit state before being born in a flesh and bone body. Jeremiah 1:5 is the most popular proof-text for this doctrine:

"Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee: and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations."

There are several reasons for rejecting the idea that this text is teaching pre existence. First, the Bible clearly states that everything was created in six days (Exodus 20:11). This includes things in heaven and in the earth. John 1:3 states that Jesus was the one responsible for the creation of everything, and Colossians 1:16 states that He was responsible for creating even the invisible things. This certainly must include any spiritual entities.

Psalm 90:2 states that God is eternal, and as such, is not bound by time the way we are. He created time, and thus transcends it. God therefore is intimately acquainted with all of history, past, present and future. Only He can declare the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10). Isaiah 57:15 refers to God as "the high and lofty One that inhabitath eternity, whose name is holy…"

Jeremiah 1:5 is therefore not a proof text for pre-existence, but God's omniscience and eternality. This can be proven by simply looking at Psalm 139, which declares the greatness of God's power and wisdom. In verse 4 we read:

"For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether."

This verse is important. It demonstrates that the eternal God can have an intimate knowledge of something that physically has not yet come into existence. In Psalm 139, that something is the spoken word of David. In Jeremiah 1:5, that something is the prophet himself.

This truth is echoed in Romans 4:16-17, which speaks of:

"…God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were."

The fact that human beings have not existed in some spirit-state before birth is made clear in Zechariah 12:1, which reads:

"The burden of the word of the LORD for Israel, saith the LORD, which stretcheth form the heavens, and layeth the foundation of the earth, and formeth the spirit of man within him."

The spirit of the man is formed within him, says the prophet, not dwelling in some pre-existent state.

Sometimes Mormons use the passage in John 9:2 to support their idea about pre-existence. In this passage, Jesus and His disciples come upon a man born blind from his mother's womb. The disciples ask, "Master, who did sin, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?"

Mormons point to this verse and say, A hah! Isn't this proof that Christ's disciples believed in the Mormon doctrine of pre-existence? The answer to this question becomes clear when we understand the culture in which these men lived.

Popular pagan thought at the time was indeed that humans pre-existed in spirit form before their physical birth. The Pythagoreans, like the Mormons (as well as eastern religions like Hinduism), these folks believed that pre-existent spirits guilty of sin would be punished by being born in a diseased body. Is this what the disciples believed? Probably not.

Christ's disciples were Jewish. It is therefore more likely that they embraced Jewish ideas on the subject rather than pagan Greek philosophy. What was the Jewish mindset? According to the first century historian Josephus (Wars Book 2, chapter 8.14), the Pharisees did indeed teach the pre-existence of the human spirit. This doctrine, however, differed significantly from the Mormon belief in that according to Pharisees, only the good spirits were rewarded with being allowed to inhabit a human body. Bad spirits, they believed, were denied the right to be born physically, and instead would be consigned to a place of torment. It seems very unlikely that either of these two views of pre-existence can be attributed to the disciples. There is, however, a third and far more likely option.

In the early centuries of the Christian era, a debate existed among the Jews about whether or not a baby could sin while still in the womb. Bishop Lightfoot comments:

"It was a conceit amongst the Jews, that the infant, when formed and quickened in the womb, might behave itself irregularly, and do something that might not be altogether without fault. In the treatise just mentioned [Vajicra Rabbi], a woman is brought in complaining in earnest of her child before the judge, that it kicked her unreasonably in the womb." Bishop Lightfoot, Commentary on the Gospel of John

Rabbi Judah, who was responsible for collecting and editing Rabbinic writings in the Mishna (AD 200), was questioned by a man named Antoninus on the subject. Their dialogue is recorded in part:

"Antoninus asked Rabbi Judah, 'At what time evil affections began to prevail in the man? Whether in the first forming of the foetus in the womb, or at the time of its coming forth?' The Rabbi saith unto him, 'From the time of its first coming.'"

"The idea of the possible sinfulness of the child while in the womb of its mother - a theory based upon the supposed moral activity of Jacob and Esau in the womb of Rebecca ('Bemidar Rab',' fol. 230. 2), and the statement that John the Baptist leaped in the womb of his mother Elisabeth (Luke i.41) - may have co-operated with other vague views floating in their minds with sufficient intensity to explain the first part of their question." P. 3Rev. Prof. T. Croskery, D.D., "The Pulpit Commentary: The Gospel of St. John", Vol.II, Funk & Wagnalls, London, p.3

Whether or not this view of prenatal sin is correct is entirely beside the point. The important thing is that such questions did occupy a position in the ancient Jewish mind. Almost certainly therefore, Christ's disciples had this idea - the question of whether or not a baby could actually sin before being born - in their minds when they made their inquiry. The doctrine of pre-existence cannot be supported with John 9:2.

The fall and sin

The Mormon doctrine concerning Adam's sin in the Garden of Eden is arguably the most blasphemous. The Book of Mormon states that:

"Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy." 2 Nephi 2:25

What nonsense is this? Adam walked in right relationship with God. He didn't need to sin to have joy. The Bible is ever so clear on this topic:

"Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore. (Psalm 16:11) Adam already had the fullness of joy - in the presence of God. The Bible goes on to say that God gave Adam one simple command, and informed him of the awful consequences if he disobeyed:

"And the LORD commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." Genesis 2:16-17

After creating the woman for the man, God issued a second command to both of them:

"So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it…" Genesis 1:27-28

Mormon missionaries state unequivocally that Adam and Eve needed to first sin in order to fulfill God's command to have children. The missionaries that I spoke with explained that in their original state of innocence, Adam and Eve had no clue how to procreate. Only by partaking of the forbidden fruit could they gain this knowledge.

But wait a minute. Why would God give His creation a command not to eat of the tree, and then issue a second command that could only be obeyed by eating of the tree? Surely, this is not the God of the Bible we're talking about here. Paul reminds us that:

"There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but with with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it." 1 Corinthians 10:13

The Bible is so clear that Adam's rebellion against God did not bring joy, but bitter pain and sorrow. Because of his sin, death entered the world (Romans 5:12). The whole creation, we are told, now "groans and travails together in pain" (Romans 8:22).

Mormons really have things twisted. Sin did not bring joy to anyone. What God did for us all in the person and work of Jesus - in spite of our sin - brought joy. The Mormon's desire to attribute goodness to the Satanic temptation and human rebellion against God ought to cause great consternation in the minds and hearts of God's people everywhere.

Ecclesiastical Structure

Ecclesiastical Structure (Offices in the Church)

Mormons claim that the organizational structure of their church, and the individual duties of its officers, perfectly matches the apostolic church of the first century. This claim is demonstrably false., as the following points make clear.

The Priesthood

Mormons believe that there should exist within the church, two classes of priest, who by virtue of their office, have been granted special authority in the church. They believe that the Levitical prieshood still functions within the church as the lesser priesthood, while the Malchezedecian priest exists as the greater. The whole idea is absolutely forgien to the New Testament. The apostle Peter's first epistle was addressed to:

"… the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia…" 1 Peter 1:1

According to Peter, no such "priestly class" existed within the church. He states in 1 Peter 2:5 that all Christians are priests:

"Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ." He reaffirms this important fact in verse 9:

"But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light."

In these passages, Peter reminds us of the two-fold function of the New Covenant priest. In verse 5 the priest's duties are God-ward, involving the offering up of sacrifices. The Christian understands that Jesus' sacrifice of Himself upon the cross paid our sin debt in full. So what kind of sacrifices is the Christian expected to offer to God? The Bible provides the answer:

"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service." Romans 12:1

"The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise." Psalm 51:17

"Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men! And let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare his works with rejoicing." Psalm 107:21-22

In 1 Peter 2:9 Peter touches on the man-ward function of the Christian priest. We are to "shew forth the praises of him who hath called us out of darkness". The man-ward function is seen clearly in 2 Corinthians 5:20-21:

"Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us; we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him."

Fiercely anti-Catholic, Mormons also condemn all protestant denominations as well. After all, they argue, Protestantism came out of Catholicism, so it cannot possibly represent true Christianity. Ironically, is the Mormons who follow a faith system much more like Catholicism than any Protestant denomination. Protestants argue that the Bible alone is the final authority on all matters pertinent to faith and conduct. Both Mormons and Catholics would disagree. Protestants maintain that faith alone in the person and work of Jesus Christ is sufficient to be saved. Once again, Mormons and Catholics would disagree, preferring to believe that a person must somehow earn their salvation through good works. Lastly, Protestants believe in the universal priesthood of all Christians, while both Mormons and Catholics maintain that the priesthood is an office reserved for only a select few.

Titles vs functions

In Joseph Smith's day, there were several "restoration movements" taking place within the American Christian community. These movements sought to bring the church back to its roots; to restore it to its former condition. Part of Mormonism's appeal was the fact that within its organization was various "biblical-sounding" offices. The Mormon Church includes a "living prophet" (not unlike the Catholic Pope), apostles, bishops and elders.

Mormons typically defend their position by pointing out that they alone have apostles which help govern their organization. "Didn't Jesus choose 12 apostles?" They typically ask, "Where are the apostles governing your Church?" Judging by the fact that every missionary I've ever talked to has asked this of me, this approach has no doubt achieved a measure of success in the past. This approach however, cuts both ways, and the Mormon organization appears to be lacking a New Testament office as well.

Ephesians 4:11-12 states:

"And he gave some, apostles, and some, prophets; and some evangelists; and some pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:"

Sure, the Mormon Church has a group of men they call apostles, but where are the evangelists and pastors? Typically, Mormons respond that the men fulfilling the pastoral role are termed "bishops" in their organization. This is an interesting confession. It proves that within the Mormon organization, the biblical title is less important than its function. That is, it's not so important that a person is labelled "pastor", just as long as someone is fulfilling the duties associated with that office.

With this in mind, the Christian may respond that the Greek term apostolos (apostle = "sent one") describes our missionaries. So though we may not label them apostles, the apostlolic task is definitely being carried out by them. In fact, the definition of the term "apostle" as a "sent one" seems to better describe the office of the evangelical missionary than the activities of the Mormon apostles, whose duties have little or nothing to do with "being sent."

One Mormon tract that I was given states that Christ "gave His apostles authority to teach and baptize. This authority is called the priesthood." According to Mormonism then, only a special class of Christian, the one admitted into the special priesthood is allowed to preach and baptize. Part of the apostolic role then, is to baptize believers. Evangelical Christians on the other hand, maintain that all believers are priests unto God, and all are equally qualified to baptize a new believer. Which view is correct? What does the Bible say?

Paul's words to the Corinthians seem to argue against the dogma that only apostles have the authority to baptize and that baptism is a major function of the apostolic office:

"For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect." 1 Corinthians 1:17

In Acts 9:10-18, we read of Paul's conversion from Apostate Judaism to Christianity after his encounter with the risen Lord. After this encounter we are told that Paul went to Damascus and there met a "certain disciple" named Ananias. There is absolutely no mention of any apostles being around in Damasuces with Paul and Ananais, yet we read in 9:17-18 that Paul was baptized. By who? By the "certain disciple."

It is true that at the inception of the Church, the Apostles of the Lamb acted as a central governing body, authenticating the written accounts that form our New Testament, as well as overseeing the daily affairs of the Church. It was their doctrine that the earliest Christians held fast to. There is a distinction, however, that cannot be missed. The original 12 were the apostles of the Lamb. Other sent ones (which included Barnabas among others, see Acts 14:4, 14) were labelled apostles of the churches (2 Corinthians 8:23). This latter group were not endowed with the authority to contradict or override the doctrine which they had been handed down from the original 12 apostles. This earlier group was special, being endowed with special gifts for a special purpose, namely, to oversee the birth and initial growth of the true Church of Jesus Christ. Elders were not necessary as long as these men were around. As the church grew and these men began dying off, the miraculous ministry of the original 12 gradually gave way to a settled system.

The office of Elder is likewise being misused by the Mormon Church. The term comes from the Greek "presbuteros" (Strong's 4245). 1 Timothy 3:1-7 lists the qualifications and duties of an elder, as does Titus chapter 1:5-11. The passage in Titus, makes it clear that the Elder and the Bishop ("episcopos"-an "on-watcher", or "overseer") are synonymous:

"For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shoudest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee: If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly. For a bishop must be blameless, as a steward of God; not self-willed, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober,, just, holy, temperate; holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers." Titus 1:5-9

That these terms are synonymous is also seen in Acts chapter19, where Paul addresses the Ephesian elders. Verse 17 reads, "And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church…" Paul reminds these elders in verse 28:

"Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood."

"On the whole, it is now very generally agreed that in the New Testament the words bishop and elder are synonymous: the former being by preference employed where Greek influence was prevalent, the latter in Jewish or Eastern Churches, and in the writings of the apostles of the circumcision, Peter, James, and John." Rev. Samuel G. Green, D.D., The Religious Tract Society, London, 1904, P.27

The Mormon missionary that knocks on you door and calls himself an elder needs to be reminded of these texts, and seriously consider whether he is the right person to fulfill the office of an "elder". Are they married? Do they manage their home life well? Do they have well-behaved children? Are they able to exhort and convince the gainsayers (idle talkers, slanderers, and those that contradict the Bible) with sound doctrine? Honestly, the Mormon missionary fulfills the apostolic role much better than their claimed apostles. It's the men the Mormon Church calls apostles that should actually be named elders. After all, their function has little to do with "being sent", but appears important with respect to the overseeing of the Church's internal and external affairs.

Acts 15 council meeting

The Mormon Church places great emphasis on the office of the "Living Prophet". To them, this man is infallible, and can make proclamations that may completely override and render useless previous scriptural truths. Remember, this arrangement, with the prophet that the top of a hierarchy, is foreign the New Testament thought. A good chapter to refute the Mormon position on this is Acts 15.

In Acts 15, certain men had come from Jerusalem to Antioch, and sought to entomb the Gentile Christians into legalistic observance of the Mosaic Law. This lead to a dispute with Barnabas and Paul. The result was the first Jerusalem council meeting, which met in order to resolve the question of just how much of the Mosaic Law Gentile converts were expected to observe. Notice that throughout this chapter it is the Apostles and Elders whose opinions count. The opinion of, or even mention of, the "living prophet", is curiously absent from the account. Truly, the structure of the Mormon organization is not an accurate reflection of first century Christianity.

Living prophet needed (to understand scripture)?

On numerous occasions I've confronted Mormons with the Bible, and their typical response is to argue that it is not their (nor mine) place to decide what the Bible is saying. That job is reserved for the "Living Prophet." In other words, no matter how clearly the Bible says something, this meaning is not to believed by the Mormon if the "Living prophet" decides it means something else. This ideology is downright frightening. It is also blatantly anti-biblical. To begin with, Christians have a "Living Prophet." His name is Jesus Christ:

"I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and I have the keys of hell and of death." Revelation 1:18

"The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken;" Deuteronomy 18:15

"I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him." Deuteronomy 18:15

"Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world." John 6:14

"Many of the people therefore, when they heard this saying, said, Of a truth this is the Prophet." John 7:40

"And when he was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, Who is this? And the multitude said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee." Matthew 21:10-11

According to Luke 24:44-45, it is Jesus that "…opened he their understanding, that they might understand the Scriptures". After His ascension into heaven, it is the Holy Spirit that fulfills this role. 1 Corinthians 2:12-16 states:

"Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things which are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparimg spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man, For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ."

1 John 2:27 states:

"But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him."

As if these passages weren't enough, Paul lets us know that even a child can understand the Scriptures: He writes to Timothy:

"But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; and that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus." 2 Timothy 3:15

Further, he commands Timothy to:

"Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."2 Timothy 2:15

"Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine." 1 Timothy 4:13

The word of God and the illumination of the Holy Spirit in the individual believer's life is sufficient. Psalm 119:130 states:

"The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple."

A Heartfelt Appeal to Mormons

A Heartfelt Appeal to Mormons

In some ways this last section is harder to write than any of preceding articles. All the other articles under the "Answering Mormonism" heading are simply the presenting of facts and figures for the reader's consideration. This last section is different. It's an appeal from my heart to any Mormon that may be reading these words.

Understand that not everyone that disagrees with your worldview is "anti-Moromon". Not everyone who sees problems with the Book of Mormon is hateful toward Mormons. I know this to be true. I know this to be true because my friends and I have nothing but love and respect for Mormons and the tireless commitment they have for what they believe to be true. Nevertheless, the problems with Mormonism's claims regarding the so-called great apostasy, the claimed restoration, the Book of Mormon, and various Mormon doctrines are too great to ignore.

Every Mormon that I have talked with claimed that they just "knew" that the Book of Mormon was true. They claimed that they had a "good feeling" about it. Normally I will ask Mormons where in the Bible we are instructed to test things this way-by simply praying and waiting for a "good feeling" to sweep over us. Without exception, I am directed to James 1:5, where we are told that if we ask God for wisdom, He will provide it. Every Mormon missionary that I have talked to has claimed to have done this, and that the answer to this prayer was the "good feeling" they got about the Book of Mormon. But wait just a second. Could it not be that the "good feeling" you got was not the answer, but your deceptive heart (Jeremiah 17:9) counselling you to embrace Mormonism simply because you want to?

By far the majority of Mormon missionaries that I have talked to were born and raised in Mormon homes. It's all they know. Don't tell me that there isn't some incentive to embrace the same faith as your friends and family. Imagine the tension you'd experience if you rejected the claims of Joseph Smith.

James 1:5 does indeed promise wisdom to those who ask for it. But would you recognize wisdom when it came? Job 28:28 reminds us that fearing the LORD is wisdom. How much do we really fear the LORD when we chose to second-guess His ability to do what He clearly said He would, namely, build His church and preserve His word? Furthermore, the Bible states clearly that with much wisdom comes much grief (Ecclesiastes 1:18). Just because you may be troubled or even offended at what has been presented on this site about Mormonism, doesn't mean that what I'm saying isn't true. If this information has caused you grief, it might just be that you've received the wisdom you had prayed for. Don't despise the answer to your prayer!

In Romans 10:2, the apostle Paul describes the problem he saw in his fellow Jewish countrymen:

"For I bear them record that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge."

I honestly believe that this is the typical Mormon's problem as well. Most have been saturated in Mormonism from the time they were born. Most have never been acquainted with the many problems that exist in the worldview they have been born into. My prayer is that any Mormons reading these articles will consider the information provided in them seriously.

Something else to think about. The LDS church is huge. They have an enormous scholarly community whose focus is to answer the kind of challenges that I have put forth. I would be surprised if there weren't answers on LDS sites to every objection that I have raised. But please remember this: not all answers are created equal. That the Mormon apologist has an answer to my objections isn't enough. His answer has to make sense. I've been to many pro LDS sites that have attempted to answer these types of objections and none of their answers were very convincing (in my opinion). The answers they provide were extremely wordy, but totally lacked any real explanatory power. I went to high school too. I know about "snowing" the teacher by handing in a report that was full of big words, but really said nothing. This is the sense I get from the Mormon apologists that I have read. Weigh the arguments for yourself. Be honest. Is the evidence for Mormonism really intellectually satisfying?

Let me leave you with this sobering thought from Proverbs 29:1:

"He that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall be suddenly destroyed, and that without remedy."

Have you been challenged in your faith before? Has anyone else tried to dissuade you from the errors of Mormonism? How many times has it happened? Your being "often reproved" may be exactly what Proverbs 29:1 is talking about! In light of this sobering fact, please consider what you have read here carefully.

"Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen." Revelation 7:12

© 2013 C.A.R.E. Ministries of Winnipeg | Joomla 1.5 Templates by vonfio.de