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Talk given on March 13, 2010 at the Capstone Conference held at Calvary Chapel Salt Lake City.

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Talk given on March 13, 2010 at the Capstone Conference held at Calvary Chapel Salt Lake City. See Sandra’s ministry at utlm.org

http://www.mormondoctrine.net/testimonies/five_courageous_women.htm

How much Mormon frustration is projection against the LDS church itself?

Does This Describe You? You’re Not Alone….

I asked a question on an internet discussion board. (CARM)

I sometimes wonder if Mormons who get the most upset at LDS critics are genuinely and subconsciously upset at the “system” because they know that they’re just not measuring up {to LDS standards}?

I don’t expect true-believing Mormons to respond with friendly tone because they have wives and kids to think about. For them to say anything negative about the “church” might be tantamount to divorce or losing a job.

What about ex-Mormons?

When you were still LDS, what happened when you were met with “anti-Mormon” tracts? Why did you get mad? What happened that caused you to feel upset… even when you knew that what the “anti” was saying was true?

(Hey, I’m no psychiatrist nor sociologist. I’ve been thinking lately that the ones who get the most angry might be closer to God than they think. Just musing… or molting.)

Libs responds:

You’re molting? Ewww, messy.

You know, Russ, when I first came to CARM, I was really angry at the things I read, because I thought they were out and out lies. Now, I still think there are things that come up, fairly often, that are not exactly accurate, but for the most part, not lies. After I did some looking around on my own and discovered a LOT of the claims against the church and the prophets were true… then, I really got upset. Angry, fearful, distressed, and finally, very sad. Still makes me sad, at times. And angry, at times.

Sounds to me as if Libs got upset because she found out she was being lied to by her own “church.” Who can blame such a one? Sorry for molting on your computer monitor. 🙂

Magdalena responds:

I think I got angry because at least a part of it rang true, and that put me in a tough spot. You’re supposed to defend the church with everything you have. I was angry at having to defend things that I was doubting on some level. And when you’ve been taught that your eternal salvation hangs in the balance, that can be crazy-making.

The more I learned, the less I could defend. And I was angry at the Mormon church for putting me and other people in that position.

How ridiculous is it to expect people to defend someone who chased young girls, married already married women and lied to his own wife about it? This was supposed to be a prophet? I don’t think so.

The list of ridiculous things you’re supposed to defend is very long. If you don’t, you’re accused of not having enough faith. Well you need to be smart about where you put your faith. I wasted a lot of time and energy defending things that weren’t from God. And that did make me upset.

Sounds to me as if Magdalena was upset that she could no longer defend the indefensible. Sounds like she was frustrated at being lied to… and finally… enough is enough.

Justjo responds:

I was angry because I thought the “anti’s” were just lying, the more I found what they said was true, the angrier I got because of fear… fear as Magdalena said, loosing one’s salvation, loosing the progression one has already made and having to start over again if I left and I was wrong in doing so and had to go back. Angry that the org’s best answers at the time was people who have question lack faith, and Mormons know what God thinks of those who lack faith! Then, to actually leave and hear rumors that you left because of some great sin, you couldn’t live the high standards of the org (who the heck really can!?), or I was angry with someone in the org (as if that would be a reason to leave “the only true church”)… that was what made me angry the most!

As Shawn McCraney said… they were right! “I am a sinner, probably the lowest of the low!” But, name me one Mormon who isn’t. HELLOOOOO!!! I live a higher standard being away from the org than I did in it. Why? Because I am not trying to be something I am not…. perfect. Last but not least… who hasn’t been angry at someone else? Do you leave your faith because of that? SERIOUSLY….

Boy Russ… you must have hit a sore spot in me… LOL…. here… let me vent… tell you what I really think and how I really feel about it…

Yes, the more of God’s truth I found, the angrier I got, and the louder I spewed against those who spoke out against my Mormon religion…

Oh my heck! Sounds to me like Justjo was angry at being guilt-tripped into thinking she’d loose her salvation if she dared to question “Joseph.”

MistyAnn0414 responds:

I think I was upset because I felt I was being “picked on”. I was taught that this was the only true church, and the so called “persecution” was proof of it. I can remember going to the Hill Cumorah pageant, seeing the protesters and thinking very unChristian thoughts about them. I never once thought that maybe there was someone there who just wanted to share Jesus Christ with me. I thought I knew it all, that I had the whole truth. I believed that the people who spoke out against the church were only going on the limited knowledge they had, believing the lies they read in books, and heard from their pastors. You know to this day I have never been in a church where the pastor even mentioned Mormonism. It all came down to fear. I was afraid to go there, to take that step. I knew things didn’t feel right or add up. I just didn’t know what I would do without the church.

Sounds to me that MistyAnn found out that it’s okay to question Joseph and that Christians aren’t necessarily out to merely attack Mormons, but are rather asking Mormons to seriously examine what their “church” is asking them to believe.

Mishamari responds:

I was angry at the institution’s methods because I had been lied to. Milk before meat y’know. I was angry at myself because I was so naive’ and trusting, angry because I was out so much money… I overpaid tithing and when tax time came around I couldn’t get it back. I was sad too, that my loved ones bought into a lie as well and I was the first convert in the family.

I wasn’t presented with any “Tracts” and I don’t recall being upset with any “antis”. I only ran into a few “antis”; one was a roommate and we just agreed to disagree. And another was a gal I met at the library, she belonged to a campus Christian cult (college newspaper warned us about them) and approached me about a Bible study. WE got to talking about church and she said “You do realize your church teaches my people have the Mark of Cain, right?” I was a new convert and wasn’t familiar with such a teaching. She started stalking me around campus and I had to say “If you want to be friends, that’s great. You have to give me some space. If I’m only a project to you then I don’t want anymore contact.” I never heard from her again.

Y’know Russ… now, years later… I think the thing I am most upset about is the misrepresentation of God. This issue is what initially led me out of the church but wasn’t the source of my anger. I’m over the “lie” thing and now I’m angry about how God is defined.

Sounds like Mishamari got fed up with being lied to. Again, who can blame such a one?

The courage of these five women inspire me.

Jesus inspired them.

Jesus inspired them to take a close look at what the Mormon “church” was asking them (telling them) to believe and, more importantly, Jesus inspired them to take a real, close look at who He claims to be.

May Jesus also inspire you to look deeply into his life and then compare that to what Joseph Smith said about Jesus. Can such a person really be the brother of Satan? Or is he who he said, i.e. God in the flesh? (John 1:1 and 1:14) The very God of all creation. (Col. 2)

Jesus asks, “Who do you say I am?”

Just a good guy? A special prophet? Lunatic? Liar? Offspring of God and Mother God? Brother of Satan who proposed a better plan?

Or God.

Choose this day whom you’ll serve.

Jesus or Joseph.

Introduced by Ed Decker. No matter what you think of these two guys, this is a piece of history!



Tired of trying to be a prophet, avatar or visionary but can’t get anyone to blindly follow you? Have you always wanted to know how to manipulate people in the name of any deity, religion or philosophy you want to hide behind so you can advance your OWN agenda of nakedly abusing power? Look no further!

Rob Sivulka on topics often that come up in evangelistic conversations with Mormons.

Apologies to Rob and others: the first 10-20 minutes of the talk are unavailable as the video file was corrupted on my computer.

.mp4 file available under the “Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0” license here:

http://www.archive.org/details/Manti2009

In other words, you can redistribute it freely.

Examines the similarities of cult traits and NPD in the pulpit.
The Seether songs remind me of my former “spiritual leaders” and probably mean more to me than making a statement to the viewers. Watch this before you give me too much head ache.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=Ecnm_a0EAtk

See the links in my other videos for more info in Spiritual Abuse, NPD in the pulpit and leaving a cult. Or just read these:

http://www.suite101.com/article.cfm/6…

http://www.chameleongroup.org.uk/npd/…

http://www.meadowhaven.org/psychissue…

My friend Sean (PappaG) wrote this piece on his blog here.

Sean has a Masters degree in Theology, So it is a quite good rebuttal story,, about when the Mormons last visited his house. I think you will enjoy it.

This is Seans second draft and he is requesting any suggestions that you might have. So pop on over to his blog if you have any. Thanks damon

Here are 21 ex-Mormons testimonies that I gathered up from http://www.youtube.com/user/aaronshaf2006

I post these because they give hope to me that my Uncle,, who is a Mormon Bishop,,,will one day be saved.

Interview with Adam’s Road, an Ex-Mormon Christian Band

Paige Richardson’s Testimony out of Mormonism into the Arms of Jesus

Mitzi Nelson’s Testimony out of Mormonism Into Christianity

Tara Sivulka’s Testimony Out of Mormonism

Brian Mackert’s Testimony Out of Mormonism into Christianity

Lana Larsen’s Testimony Out of Mormonism into Christianity

Randy Larsen’s Testimony Out of Mormonism into Christianity

Tosh’s Testimony Out of Mormonism into Christianity

Gabriel Williams’ testimony out of Mormonism to Christ

Gene’s Testimony out of Mormonism into Christianity

Dave’s Testimony Out of Mormonism into Christianity

Tricia Lynn Burton’s Testimony Out Of Mormonism to Christ

Mark Champneys’ Testimony out of Mormonism into Christianity

Angela Haisten’s Testimony Out of Mormonism to Christianity

James Dorrough’s Testimony out of Mormonism to Christ

Ginny and Bud Gundersen’s Testimony out of Mormonism

Blaine Hunsaker’s Testimony out of Mormonism to Christ

Judy Hartvigsen’s Testimony out of Mormonism to Christ

Cashae Gibb’s Testimony out of Mormonism into Christianity

LaKan Gibb’s Testimony out of Mormonism intro Christianity

Zach Collier’s Testimony out of Mormonism into Christianity

Why Mormons Leave: by Sandra Tanner

From a training session for Christians at the first week of 2009 Manti Pageant.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

 

 

Which Mormon group is the “Restored Church”?

Introduction

We will study this question by first (in Part 1) looking at the various divergent Mormon sects, then (in Part 2) examining why this division constitutes further proof that Mormonism can in no way be considered a “restoration” of Christianity.

Part 1: How many Mormon sects are there?

The more important Mormon groups

1. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Salt Lake City, Utah, USA)

2. The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (RLDS)(Independence, Missouri, USA) now renamed to the Community of Christ, under president W. Grant McMurray,

This groups came into existence in the 1850s under the leadership of Joseph Smith’s son, Joseph Smith III. This group believes Joseph Smith II was nominated by the founding Joseph Smith as his successor. The Utah-based LDS group, however, disagrees.

Interestingly this group owns the historical Mormon properties in Kirtland, Ohio; this being the outcome of court case with the LDS group, the courts having decided the then RLDS had more claim (from a doctrinal standpoint) to be the church founded by Joseph Smith Jr. than the Utah–based LDS group.

In the 1970’s the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints began to experience what many lay members considered to be serious problems with the hierarchy of the church trying to change the church. The main changes were “a major shift in the General Church teachings a de-emphasis of the Book of Mormon, the Second Advent and celestial life in favor of more conventional Protestant-like Christianity” (Saints Herald, January 1974, p. 52).

What Is The Difference between the LDS and the RLDS (now Community of Christ)?

Salt-Lake City based LDS uses KJV or Joseph Smith’s Translation (aka the “Inspired Version”); their second President, Brigham Young, taught God the Father was once a man (Adam), a doctrine which has never been revoked; teaches “eternal progression” to godhood; use secret temple rites; practises baptism for the dead; temple marriage is for eternity; God the Father Son and Holy Spirit are three separate “Gods”; accepts the Pearl of Great Price as Scripture.

Independence Missouri- based RLDS (now Community of Christ):uses “Inspired Version”; do not believe God was once a man; does not believe in “eternal progression” claim never to have used secret temple rites; claim Zion is Missouri; does not and never did, condone baptism for the dead; marriage only for earthly life; believes God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit exists in three different “modes” not Persons; rejects the Pearl of Great Price.

Both sects of course claim to be the “restored” church. When the LDS missionaries come knocking, they wil not tell you that the second largest Mormon group (the Community of Christ) believes very much differently from the Utah based LDS group.

3. Church of Christ -Temple Lot (Temple Lot, Independence, Missouri)- one early leader, Granville Hedrick, called Joseph Smith a “fallen prophet”. This group teaches that there has been apostasy from the restored gospel faith. This group was also involved in a lawsuit with the RLDS over ownership of the Temple Lot. By 1869 they purchased the original “temple lot” in Independence Missouri.

How does the Temple Lot church differ doctrinally from the LDS and RLDS?

In contrast to the LDS and RLDS, the Temple Lot group have no first presidency, high priests or patriarchs, and no prophet as leader (having 12 “apostles” instead). In common with the RLDS group, they reject the Pearl of Great Price, the doctrines of celestial marriage and eternal progression, and baptism for the dead.

Lesser known groups

The Restoration Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Independence, Missouri, USA) Founded 6 April 1991 at the Waldo Avenue Church in Independence, Missouri. The RLDS Church was declared “out of order” and the Restoration Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was founded in its place. In 1992 and 1994, two small schismatic groups, in their turn, left this group.

There also exist fundamentalist groups that do not accept the revelation which ended the practice of polygamy.

The Church of Christ With the Elijah Message (Blue Springs, Missouri, USA).

The Church of Jesus Christ (based in Pittsburgh, USA).

The Church of the Firstborn of the Fullness of Times (Mexico) now defunct.

The Church of Jesus Christ (Cutlerites) (Independence, Missouri) founded by Alpheus Cutler, 1853 – distinguished between church and kingdom

The Pentecostal Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (based in Louisiana USA). Rejects the Doctrines and Covenants standard LDS work

The Restored Church of Jesus Christ (Independence, Missouri, USA) – also claims to be founded by Joseph Smith, Jr.

The True and Living Church of Jesus Christ of Saints of the Last Days (Manti, Utah, USA) these believe “that the fullness that Joseph Smith Jr. restored has been corrupted”. The Manti group split into two groups in late 1994.

Further information on several of these groups can be found at http://www.sas.upenn.edu/~dbowie/restore/restoration.html . For a comprehensive list of Mormon sects, please see the book “Divergent Paths of the Restoration” by Steven L. Shields (1990) which discusses more than a hundred different mormon sects.

So we see that there exist many Mormon sects, with even the main groups differing widely on doctrinal points.

Part 2: What do the divisions in Mormonism tell us?

Mormons will point to the apparent unity of their church and say it is proof theirs is the one true church. Mormon missionaries will not tell you, however, that the Utah-based LDS church is one of over a hundred mormon sects, or that there are numerous differences in doctrine between the Utah-based LDS group and the next largest group, the Community of Christ (formerly RLDS).

Do not for one moment, dear reader, believe that the Mormon religion resents a unified faith system that consists in some “restored gospel”. Mormon claims therefore to hold the true “restored” and “everlasting” gospel ring very shallow indeed when we discover that their doctrines are products of the 19th century, and that, like so many other religious sects, divided into multitudinous doctrinally divergent sects after the death of their first leader in 1844 and subsequent decades.

Is it not so much easier to simply conclude that there never was any “restoration” because there never was any apostasy?

This is the obvious answer, and the correct one. (Other pages on this website deal with this subject also.) None of the Mormon sects claiming to be the “restored” church are what they say, precisely because there was no “restoration”!

It is also of no value for LDS to counter that the differences between Protestantism and Catholicism are as great, if not greater, than the divisions betweent the Mormon sects.

(Important to remember: it is not necessary for a Catholic to defend the divisions of Protestantism; Protestantism, in the same way as Mormonism, is divided because it is in error.) This Mormon argument can be a bit confusing when first encountered: in witnessing to the truth, a Catholic only has to point to the unity of Catholicism, not the disunity of Protestantism.

Also, the authority of the Catholic Church had been accepted for the first 15 centuries; the authority of the sect of Joseph Smith’s followers was repudiated as soon as he was dead. The authority of 15 centuries will not be broken by the rebellion of a few Protestant leaders whose teachings themselves subeequently underwent countless divisions.

Remember, the Mormons claim to present the “restored gospel” so any divisions among them is automatic proof they do not have this. In contrast, the sects which left the Catholic Church over the centuries present no proof that the original teaching of the Church has been corrupted, a requirement for the Mormon “restoration” in the first place. (We will not even begin to discuss the glaring absence of Mormon doctrines from the early centuries of the Church)

It is also of no use for Mormons to claim one sect is true, and all other groups broke away from it. This view requires that the original sect be known. But both the RLDS and the LDS claim this title, as well as many other groups! Historically there were many sects after the death of Joseph Smith. The US courts ruled that the RLDS (now Community of Christ) was the closest to Smith’s original church. Where does that leave the Utah-based LDS group? Which was first?

Even more importantly, the Mormon sects cannot show that there was an “apostasy” in the early days of the Church. Without this evidence, of course, all their talk about “restoration of the gospel” is pointless.

So what do we see? The doctrine of the Catholic Church has been maintained a unified whole for 20 centuries, the doctrines of Mormonism split in every direction after the death of its founder Joseph Smith. The doctrines of Protestantism likewise split in every direction after the Protestant revolt established a foothold.

The one true Church has exhibited doctrinal unity through 2,000 years and now has over a billion adherents. That is the Holy Catholic Church. Her source of unity is not the empty boasting of some self-appointed prophet but the Holy Spirit. Those who seek the truth need look no further. Herein is unity as given by the Holy Spirit. Outside is chaos. The sincere Mormon reader is urged to look at the claims of the Catholic Church and to prayerfully seek the true Christ where He may be found.

Conclusion

Mormonism has split into a variety of sects since its foundation less than two centuries ago. Such division bears the hallmark of a religion invented by man. Mormon founder Joseph Smith once boasted:

“Come on! ye prosecutors! ye false swearers! All hell, boil over! Ye burning mountains, roll down your lava! for I will come out on the top at last. I have more to boast of than ever any man had. I am the only man that has ever been able to keep a whole church together since the days of Adam. A large majority of the whole have stood by me. Neither Paul, John, Peter, nor Jesus ever did it. I boast that no man ever did such a work as I. The followers of Jesus ran away from Him; but the Latter-day Saints never ran away from me yet.” Joseph Smith, Mormon founder, History of the Church, Vol. 6, pp. 408-409

The followers of the Latter – Day Saints did run away from him, into over a hundred different sects.

The Catholic Church, in contrast, has preserved a supernatural unity throughout 2000 years, a unity promised not by man, but by the Holy Spirit.

http://www.angelfire.com/ms/seanie/mormon/mormonsects.html 

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The Pattern of the Double-Bind in Mormonism 

In the fall of 1997, my son, Matt, and I discovered Eric Kettunen’s internet site, Recovery from Mormonism. Matt replied to Eric and posted his letter (#70); soon after, Matt started his own Higher Mormon site.

Until that time, we thought that we were alone in our discoveries about Mormonism and in leaving the church. As I read each Post, I was impressed with the similarities of personal experiences … and how they coincided with my own. I could see aspects of The Pattern in each Post and some explicitly contained all aspects. They filled in, and clarified more fully the stages of this Pattern in Mormonism for me.

Stage 1 Problem – Anxiety – Question – Fear
Stage 2-3 Agreement – Ambiguity 
Stage 4 Double-Bind – Reversal – Guilt/Fear
Stage 5 Denial – Humiliation – Dehumanized 
Stage 6 Accusation – Demonized – Guilt/Shame
Stage 7 Punishment – Compulsion/Subjection – “Black is White”
Stage 8 Bound – Love/Hate – “Voluntary” Union
Stage 9 Psychological Cannibalism – Suicide

 

 

Stage 4 Double-Bind – Reversal – Guilt/Fear

THE MAZE OF MORMONISM

Prologue to Stage 4. This stage is built upon stages 2 and 3. A promise was made and then not fulfilled. A “but” was then inserted as the reason for not receiving what was promised. The “but”-excuse then becomes a replacement for the promise; something was not done “right” by the would-be recipient who is now blamed for not being able to receive. Obedience to the “but” is now required to become worthy to receive.

Stage 4: The Double-Bind – “Guilty, Guilty” – Reversals – Rape of Mind
“You are damned if you do a thing,” and “You are damned if you don’t do it.”

Reversal: “Guilty, Guilty” – Rape of the Mind

One classic Double-Bind in Mormonism is in regards to receiving the “burning in the bosom,” the manifestation of the Holy Ghost, as a requirement for a testimony and sanctification. The promise is that if you pray sincerely you will receive a “burning in the bosom,” which is the manifestation that the Book of Mormon is true. If you don’t receive a “burning in the bosom,” you were not “sincere,” or there are other things you must do to be “worthy” of receiving it. This is the “Yes, but” stage; “Yes, you prayed, but……” The “but” then, becomes the focal point, the “hook.” It becomes “the carrot on the end of a stick” that can never be reached and becomes the means for your being judged “guilty” for your inability to work hard enough to “get it.” This leads into the blatant Double-Bind, which says:

If you don’t obey the “But-things,” you will be “guilty” of not being “sincere,” not trying hard enough.

If you do obey the “But-things,” you are “guilty” because you still haven’t received the “burning in the bosom,” which you would have received had you done them properly.

At this point many other suggestions are given to help you “earn,” through work, what was promised you if you were only “sincere” and had worked hard enough. You now need “help” in order to prepare yourself to be made “worthy” of receiving this “gift.” More “buts” are issued, as “helps,” and the fact that you are outnumbered makes you feel that “I am the only one who doesn’t get it” … you think that “if I work hard enough I will not be the only one who can’t ‘get it.'” The truth is, the many others, also, “don’t get it,” i.e., they have been caught in the same maze. The irony is that the ones who “can’t get it” are the ones who are sincere, and authentic … the ones who are earnestly trying to keep the integrity of their own minds. (See Post #19 below.)

This leads to another Dilemma:

We are told we must live by faith alone, in a non-physical, i.e., a non-brain, non-rational, mental state. At the same time, we are told that the sign of the physical “burning in the bosom” is proof of the Book of Mormon, the necessary confirmation of its being true. The irony is the reverse. A “burning in the bosom” only happens in the real world as an extension of a true, physical brain-perception leading to a rational result. It does not occur when our individual perceptions and our brain are not involved.

This is a Double-Bind:

If you do have faith and relinquish your brain, you cannot, in reality, reach a confirmation of a truth. The means have been taken away.

If you don’t have faith, and rely on your brain, you will not find the confirmation of the truth of something that is false.

In both cases, you will be judged “guilty” of not receiving the “burning in the bosom.” Again, Momonism juxtaposes opposites, pits them against each other, and then, subtly uses the opposite (reason) for the proof of faith … which is doomed to fail.

The Binder divides, pitting faith and reason against each other, and by that means, conquers. Reason has to be the enemy of faith, which in the Double-Bind is necessary, but not to be seen … it becomes the Satan that is there, yet … is not there. The Mormon Apostle, Boyd P. Packer said that reason is the enemy of God, and a state of war has been declared against it. He says, “In an effort to be objective, impartial, and scholarly, a writer or a teacher may unwittingly be giving equal time to the adversary… In the Church we are not neutral. We are one-sided. There is a war going on, and we are engaged in it.” (From his talk: Do not spread disease germs!) The Closed System is “one-sided” (only non-brain faith is allowed). On the one hand, it turns its back on reason, the Open System; on the other hand, it claims “reason” in “lip service.” The dual personality in Mormonism is the “Yes,” reason, “But,” at the same time, it is “non-reason.”

This is why members “fail” to receive the “gift” of confirmation: they are sincere! They are relying on their own true perceptions, the means to reason and Self-control, which is a brain related activity. The reason more “work” is demanded of individuals who “fail” is that their minds have not yet been “converted” to the upside-down world of programmed “Yes, but”-thinking and the feelings that are attached to that view. When this is not seen, the means of survival in the real world are gradually eroded making us totally dependent and compliant to a fabricated idea that is designed, step by step, to dehumanize those who are enticed into it unknowingly.

It will be helpful to know that each step, or stage, is connected by a “hook;” the transitions between each is very subtle. In this case, the “hook” is the “but.” In each stage, once the “hook” is accepted, it becomes the connecting link to the next one. This is the insidious nature of The Pattern.

The Double-Bind as Experienced by Women in Mormonism

Guilt – Reversal
(A very common Double-Bind is when it is used to coerce the bearing of testimonies.)

“The last straw was drawn when they expected me to offer my testimony. The missionaries had taught me that a person should create their own prayers, as opposed to repeating prayers as the catholics do. ….That Sunday, however, after a few members had recited their chorus line (using the same set of words), it appeared everybody’s eyes were on me. I did not get up. Immediately following the closing prayer, the missionary came to shake my hand and said, very loudly, ‘we need our friend here to give her testimony.’

Her Double-Bind:
If she did bear her testimony, she would be labeled “good.” She would, however, in reality, be guilty of going against herself.

If she didn’t bear her testimony, she would be labeled “bad.”

She would be going against the church and her “voluntary” commitment that must be confirmed over and over again … “guilty.”

Post #16. See: Stage 1, Stages 2-3, Post #16.

(The Double-Bind is always FOR the BINDER, and AGAINST the BOUND, the individual Self. It is reinforced through repetition until there is no longer a Self to go against; the mind then is silenced into obedience and is labeled “good.”)

Double-Bind – Guilt/Fear
“After baptism I continued to ask questions …. Being an orphan, “I asked them (the missionaries) about illegitimate orphans. They said that orphans were less valiant in the pre-existence. They were not born into homes where they would have parents and it was because of how they lived in the pre-existence. I felt sick to my stomach. I knew that if I had been taught that belief before baptism I would never have joined the church. Now that I was a member I figured that if I became the very best Mormon I could be I would win God’s favor and He would forgive me for being less valiant in the pre-existence. I hoped I could clean the slate for I never wanted to come face to face with God and feel His disappointment because I had been less valiant in the pre-existence. I was always afraid to ask if God had forgiven me for what I had done in the pre-existence and how I could ask for forgiveness when I didn’t know what it was I did. Or, was I suppose to be asking for forgiveness for not being valiant but valiant in what? How could I know? So I just kept trying to be a good Mormon.” (Italics, mine.)

Her Double-Bind: Guilt/Fear.
She would be damned if she did remain a Mormon.
It would be against herself, her own perceptions. (“Guilty)

She would be damned if she didn’t remain a Mormon.

She would (1) not be valiant in this life; (2) she would forfeit her chance to work out her “repentence” for not being “valiant” in the pre-existence, plus, (3) she would then be denied entrance into the Celestial Kingdom in the next life. (She would have failed in her past life, her present life and therefore, her future life: “Guilty, Guilty, Guilty.”)
Post #22-1, #37. See Stage 1, 2-3. #22-1, #37.

Double-Bind – Guilt
“Right after we were married, our stake president wanted to discuss sex with us. He told us that rather than continue the old approach of inquiring into every prurient thought, the church would leave it to our discretion what sexual practices were permissible. …This …coming from an old guy we hardly knew who had but weeks before been asking my husband about masturbation. It was also too little, too late, for resurrecting the idea that sex between married people is okay. Being told to be fruitful and multiply is one thing, but after years of being told that sex is forbidden, evil, unclean, and transforms the woman into some revolting thing like “used gum” or a “half-eaten cookie,” it is unrealistic to think that normal sexual functioning could result from such constant negative conditioning.”

The Double-Bind:
You are damned if you do have sex.

Sex is forbidden, evil, and unclean; the woman is like a gardenia, once it has been touched it turns brown, and can never return to its white purity. “Evil”

You are damned if you don’t have sex.

You are commanded to have sex … to have as many children as you can; this is “Good.” At the same time you are “Evil,” because you break the first forbidden sex-commandment.
Post #43, See: Stage 1, #43.

Rape of the Mind and Body – Double-Bind – Guilt and Fear

(The following is the cruelest use of the Double-Bind of all these posts … not with an adult, but with a totally defenseless child.)

“My father was in jail for domestic abuse against my mother. My mother turned to the church for financial help because she was trying to raise me, my sister, and my brother on her own. She did have a job at a nursing home, but it wasn’t enough to cover food. The Bishop agreed to help her, providing that she would clean the church. Just a few light duties: washing the windows and vacuuming, mostly. I was in charge of vacuuming. My mom had a key to the church and I would go over there when she was at work and make sure that it was all vacuumed every Saturday so that it would be ready for Sunday. (She was only 7 years old.)

My experience all started when I ran into a counselor in the bishopric. On that particular day, I remember being very upset because I was constantly being teased by the other kids because my dad was in jail. The counselor sat me down on his lap in the chapel and asked me to tell him why I was crying. He was so kind! So wonderful! This was a man of God wanting to know about ME! I told him everything. I trusted him and was really happy for the attention! I went home that day very happy and grateful for my new friend.”

(Gradually, each Saturday, this counselor began subtly to molest her. She was confused, but really didn’t understand or question it) “because, after all — he was a member of the bishopric. I was extremely uncomfortable with this behavior, but he always told me that I was “special.” And that he loved me like I was his own little girl. I should never tell, because that would break the promises we had made to each other in the church. ….Once I told my mom that I didn’t want to clean the church anymore, she told me that if I didn’t then I would be responsible for the church taking food away from our family. Did I really want to do that? NO. I couldn’t handle it.” (The molestation increased until eventually there were more than three penetrations by this counselor.) “I just kept thinking it MUST be okay because come Sunday, he would be sitting up there on the stand and wink at me once in awhile, or lead the opening remarks and after all, this was a man called of God. If God thought that it was okay, then it must be okay.” ….(After her baptism and in the chapel for her confirmation, this counselor stood nearby with his eyes closed, and his head bowed. She was very disturbed. The next Saturday, she tried to resist him and he roughly forced her. Fortunately, her family moved shortly after that.)

This 7 year-old child had not only to contend with one Double-Bind, but two.

Double-Bind #1.
If she did tell anyone: The counselor had told her that she would be breaking the promise that they had made in God’s church.

If she didn’t tell anyone: He would be free to continue his molestation of her.

Double-Bind #2.
If she didn’t go to the church every Saturday to vacuum: Her family wouldn’t have enough food to eat.

If she did go to the church: She would be subject to more abuse from the counselor.
Post #61.

* * *

The Double-Bind every member encounters in the Temple is:

You will be damned if you do speak of the “sacred” oaths and penalties …. (made without prior knowledge) …. outside the temple.

You go against your “voluntary” oath, and against the Binder.

You are damned if you don’t speak of them.

You go against yourself; you are silenced through Fear of punishment
and “Guilt.”

* * *

“I didn’t say anything to anyone because your not supposed to discuss those things outside the temple, and I felt strange bringing up the question in the celestial room. That was not the time to question anyone. ….I was never prepared for that (the penalties), but my mom and dad were there, so I thought they understood everything and it was something they did all the time.”Post #33.

Double-Bind – Guilt/Fear.
Another way to express the Double-Bind in Mormonism, is described by this Post.

“Their (Mormonism) treatment of homosexuals seeking help is appalling. While I am not gay, I was involved with a gay member of the church, and the hell he was put through–even as he begged for help–was appalling. Instead of self-acceptance for EVERY member, the church teaches conditional love:

“If you do this and this and this, the church/God will love you and find you worthy.”

(If it is in the interest of the Binder, it will be against the self, the individual … then, it is “good.”)

“If you do not do this and this, you are damned for all time–starting here and starting now.”
(If it is for your Self, or an individual, it is against the Binder; you are then, “evil.”)
Post #69 See: Stage 2-3, #69.

Note:
The Mormon Apostle, Boyd K. Packer says, “We must be one-sided, all facing one-way.” … towards the organization (the Closed System), not towards the individual. “It is critical that all of us work together and put aside personal interests.” He refers to individuals as exceptions that take the church away from the many others who are in more need than the few. The church’s plan for the membership is simplication and reduction, for the general welfare of all, not the particular; all members are to be reduced to the lowest common denominator; individuals not keeping up with the herd are expendable. The other word for them is pariah, an outcast.

The Double-Bind as Experienced by Men in Mormonism

Double-Bind – Fear
“I’ve removed my web page. I’ve chosen an alias because I’m still trying to find a way to bring my page back. (He had left the church and was stating his opinion on his web site.) It was my mistake for using my real name. I felt that to do otherwise would be cowardly. I guess the joke’s on me. …… the members (of the church) in my parents area started to mobilize. My parents were harrassed by people they’ve gone to church with for over 20 years. Instead of exhibiting Christian-type values such as comforting them for the loss of a son from Mormonism, they received emotional blackmail instead. My father’s health started to suffer as a result of it.”

If he did use his real name, his family (who were still members of the church) would be harrassed to the point of injury.

If he didn’t use his real name, he would be false to himself by concealing his identity.
Post #2 See: Stages 2-3, #2

Double-Bind – Fear/Guilt
“My earliest memories of the church, while not necessarily negative, are not really positive either. They are sort of bland; null, if you will. What I do remember are impressions of not seeing what everyone else seemed to be seeing, and feeling left out as a result. I would sit through the meetings, wondering if there was something wrong with me because I couldn’t get up in front of the whole congregation and spout the same platitudes that my peers did. What prevented me from thinking and speaking as the others around me?

“My father always called me “Mister Blunt” because I was unfailingly honest in my appraisals of people and situations. This got me into trouble more than once over the years. But, in this context, I could not testify to something which I did not really feel.

“The years passed, …. The same lack of feeling was present at my ordination, and so on through my teen years….I did the things that I was told to do, for to disobey my dad would bring swift retribution. I was always the “dutiful son.” I just figured that I didn’t feel anything because I wasn’t “worthy” for some strange reason or other.”
Post #19. See Stages 2-3. #19.

The 13th Article of Faith in Mormonism says:: “We believe in being honest, true …..” However,

This young man was damned if he was honest.
His honest appraisals were construed to be false; he was “bad” if he told the truth.

He was damned if he wasn’t honest;
He would be going against his own integrity; he would be “good” only if he lied.

Because Mormonism is a Closed System,”one-sided,” there can only be one view, that of the Binder, which leaves out reason, choice and universal principles. Lip service only is given to the words “honest” and “true,” as if they were being applied in the universal, rational sense. New converts are attracted by the label “truth” and “universal principles” … the “Yes,” we believe in being honest, true ….” Later, the “meat,” i.e., the church’s true definitions replace the universal. The universal principle of being true has to do with the individual being true to himself and with his fellowman. In Mormonism, the Church replaces the individual’s identity, converting the possession of “truth” to the Church, i.e., the individual disappears into the Body Politic of the Church which contains all “truth.” The thinking has already been done for all its members.

Double-Bind – Guilt/Fear
“Charles, a teen ager, … mentally retarded … who clearly didn’t know right from wrong … had been baptized … his family were not Mormons. I didn’t understand how he could have made a rational decision to be baptized into the Mormon Church, but there he was-an Aaronic priesthood holder. One day Charles told me something I will never forget. Something that really sums up Mormonism. He said that he had read some “anti-Mormon” literature which caused a lot of doubts to enter his mind. He then visited and sought counsel with the bishop. Surprisingly, the bishop did not tell Charles to stop reading “anti-Mormon” material. Instead he told Charles to read 15 minutes of “anti-Mormon” material, and then read 15 minutes of the Book of Mormon or other church approved material. After having read both,

Charles was to determine which of the two made him “feel” good.

Since the “anti-Mormon” material would obviously cause doubt and bad feelings, it was false.

Since the “pro-Mormon” material would make Charles feel good, it was true.

This was an exercise in “truth detection” as given by our bishop…. discern truth with your feelings, not your mind.”
Post #28. See: Stage 1, 2-3, #28.

(The means by which this Double-Bind could be seen, or by which a rational choice could be made, was not there for Charles, nor is it there for any member who can’t, or does not, use reason.)

Double-Bind – Guilt/Fear
(The following is the Double-Bind experienced by members when they consider leaving the church. Most have members of their family who are still active participants in Mormonism and have all been staunch members from birth.)

“I will probably receive harsh criticism from your other readers for not “being true to myself and others,” explaining to those I love my current beliefs. However, it’s just not that easy when almost everyone I know … is and has been a faithful LDS member and proponent their entire life.” Post # 34

The Double-Bind:
To stay in Mormonism, aids the Binder, and is against your Self … and your family.
To leave Mormonism, divorces you from your family, and you become an “outcast.”

Double-Bind #1 – Guilt/Fear
“About seven years ago, there was a PBS documentary done on the LDS Church and its missionaries. Several returned missionaries admitted that they did not “know” the church was true, even while they had said they did as a missionary. ….one of the LDS secrets is that there is a great deal of peer pressure on missionaries to say “I know,” whether or not they do. I would note that while I lied, I did so while feeling caught by my obligation to serve God. I had been taught that it was my duty to serve God as missionary, that “every worthy young man should serve a mission.” I had been taught those who prayed sincerely and in righteousness would receive a testimony and if they had not, one chief reason would be that they were not recognizing the answer God was giving.”

Double-Bind:
If you lie, you are “good.”
You go against yourself.

If you tell the truth, you are “bad.”
You go against the Binder.

Double-Bind #2 “Mental Illness” – “Delusions of Grandeur”

“Further, some suggest that I was emotionally ill. There is no doubt that I was. The only question is what was the cause and the exact nature of my “mental illness.” They suggest that, in a mild form, I was suffering delusions of grandeur, caused by my close association with that other fellow, Brad Thompson, who happened to be my EQ president when I first came to BYU. He also, in his own way, suffered delusions of grandeur. In a way, this suggestion is no doubt true. The only question is as to whether Mormonism itself feeds such delusions.”
Post #38 See: Stage 2-3, #38

(This is another version of the promise that you “will receive …..” (fill in any blessings “given” you), then when it isn’t fulfilled you are accused of wanting to be “the center of the world.”)

Double-Bind:
If he didn’t have faith that his blessings would be fulfilled, he would be faithless and “guilty.”

If he did believe they would be fulfilled, but they were not … he was guilty of “suffering delusions of grandeur” in thinking that he could expect what others had not yet received.

Double-Bind – Guilt
“Free Agency as taught by the church: “I am free to choose good or evil.” In practice, Mormon free agency is a sort of bondage. It amounts to:

“If I obey authority and do not think for myself then I have “chosen” Good.”
“If I do not obey authority and think for myself then I have chosen Evil.”
Post #70.

http://www.exmormon.org/pattern/stage4.htm

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God the Father was Married to Mary (His daughter)

Most Mormons are unaware of the fact that early LDS leaders taught that God the Father was actually married to Mary, Jesus’ mother. Brigham Young, second President, and Prophet of the LDS Church stated:

This matter was a little changed in the case of the Savior of the world, the Son of the living God. The man Joseph, the husband of Mary, did not, that we know of, have more than one wife, but Mary the wife of Joseph had another husband. On this account infidels have called the Savior a bastard. This is merely a human opinion upon one of the inscrutable doings of the Almighty. That very babe that was cradled in the manger, was begotten, not by Joseph, the husband of Mary, but by another Being. Do you inquire by whom? He was begotten by God our heavenly, father (Journal of Discourses, 11:268; emphasis added)

LDS Apostle and General Authority, Orson Pratt explains clearly:

but it was the personage of the Father who begat the body of Jesus; and for this reason Jesus is called the Only Begotten of the Father; that is, the only one in this world whose fleshly body was begotten by the Father. There were millions of sons and daughters whom He begat before the foundation of the world, but they were spirits, and not bodies of flesh and bones; whereas, both the spirit and body of Jesus were begotten by the Father the spirit having been begotten in heaven many ages before the tabernacle was begotten upon the earth. The fleshly body of Jesus required a Mother as well as a Father.

Therefore, the Father and Mother of Jesus, according to the flesh, must have been associated together in the capacity of Husband and Wife; hence the Virgin Mary must have been, for the time being, the lawful wife of God the Father: we use the term lawful Wife, because it would be blasphemous in the highest degree to say that He overshadowed her or begat the Saviour unlawfully. It would have been unlawful for any man to have interfered with Mary, who was already espoused to Joseph; for such a heinous crime would have subjected both the guilty parties to death, according to the law of Moses. But God having created all men and women, had the most perfect right to do with His own creation, according to His holy will and pleasure; He had a lawful right to overshadow the Virgin Mary in the capacity of a husband, and beget a Son, although she was espoused to another; for the law which He gave to govern men and women was not intended to govern Himself; or to prescribe rules for his own conduct.

It was also lawful in Him, after having thus dealt with Mary, to give Mary to Joseph her espoused husband. Whether God the Father gave Mary to Joseph for time only, or for time and eternity, we are not informed. Inasmuch as God was the first husband to her, it may be that He only gave her to be the wife of Joseph while in this mortal state, and that He intended after the resurrection to again take her as one of his own wives to raise up immortal spirits in eternity (Orson Pratt, The Seer, 158; emphasis added).

Orson Pratt agrees with Young when he says, “the Father and Mother of Jesus, according to the flesh, must have been associated together in the capacity of Husband and Wife; hence the Virgin Mary must have been, for the time being, the lawful wife of God the Father. Keep in mind Pratt was a Mormon Apostle he was a General Authority of the LDS Church.

The worst part of this teaching is: in LDS theology, all of human-kind are the literal off-spring (by sexual relations) of God the Father and one of His wives in heaven. Thus, God the Father married Mary, His own daughter, and begot Jesus by her. But, if Mormons say that they disagree with this pagan teaching they are, to be sure, repudiating a LDS Prophet and Apostle as false teachers.

http://www.christiandefense.org/mor_nat_mary.htm

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Legislators’ anti-gay sentiments come back to haunt Mormons
Paul Rolly

The Salt Lake Tribune

Updated: 12/05/2008 10:13:14 PM MST

Had the Utah Legislature not balked so vehemently at any hate-crime legislation that included protections for gays and lesbians, the state might now have better tools to prosecute those committing hate crimes against members and property of the LDS Church.

That’s the irony emerging from the ugly aftermath of California’s Proposition 8 vote banning gay marriage in that state. Because members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, at the urging of their ecclesiastical leaders, played such a prominent role with their money and time in the passing of the proposition, their church is now a target.

Church services have been disrupted by protesters, members have been blocked from entering churches, glue has been poured into the locks of church buildings, glass doors of churches have been shattered by BB guns, LDS temples have received packages containing mysterious white powder that proved harmless, and church buildings and signs have been spray-painted.

But the perpetrators, if caught and charged in Utah, don’t face penalty enhancements for targeting a specific group for harassment. That is because a majority of Utah legislators, not wanting to appear to be coddling people who are gay, refused to include them in hate-crime legislation as a special class.

The best that LDS victims of hate crimes can hope for in Utah is that their suffering be considered an aggravating factor when judges sentence a perpetrator and parole boards determine how much of the guilty party’s sentence must be served before granting parole.

Legislators could have included a penalty enhancement for a hate crime. If, for example, a crime normally would be charged as a third-degree felony, it could be bumped to a second-degree felony if committed against a protected class.

Indeed, that was the model of hate-crimes legislation that proponents tried for a decade to pass. But in order to constitutionally justify a penalty enhancement, which most states include in such laws, protected groups must be defined.

That was always the stumbling block on Capitol Hill. For a hate-crime enhancement, it had to be shown the victim was targeted because of race, religion, ethnicity, gender, age, disability or — the bill killer — sexual preference.

Rep. David Litvak, D-Salt Lake City, sponsored the bill that finally passed in 2007. He acknowledges it is not as tough as it could have been, but the compromise was necessary to get it through the Legislature. There are no protected groups defined in the marshmallow law and prosecutors must show the crime had a negative effect on a whole class of people before it can be considered an aggravating factor.

Many of the legislators who fought against the hate-crimes bills expressed concern about discrimination against Mormons.

A few years ago, Sen. Margaret Dayton, R-Provo, led the move to force a legislative audit of the University of Utah’s medical school because of speculation that male Mormon applicants were being discriminated against. So now, because of the anti-gay sentiments expressed at the Mormon-majority Legislature, when LDS Church members actually are singled out for harassment or discrimination, their tormentors get a pass, pretty much, even if their actions can be proven to be hate crimes.

LDS Church leaders did not oppose including sexual orientation in the earlier versions of the bill. When the church issued a statement to that effect, Gayle Ruzicka, head of the right-wing Eagle Forum, said the church was implicitly opposing the legislation because its statement did not say it supported the language.

That prompted a church spokesman to say that the Eagle Forum does not speak for the LDS Church.

http://www.sltrib.com/opinion/ci_11149778

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Why The LDS/Mormon Church Will NEVER Be Part Of The Body Of Christ
An answer to the efforts of people like Greg Johnson (Standing Together), Richard Mouw (Fuller Theological Seminary), Craig Hazen (Biola University), Ravi Zacharias (RZIM) and many others who are attempting to forge some kind of “Evangelicals And Mormons Together” alliance out of thin air
by Sandy Simpson, 10/26/05

——————————————————————————–

There has been a continuous effort, since the Evangelicals And Catholics Together (ECT) debaucle, to widen the definition of what Christianity is by those mentioned above, among many others. The New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) has an agenda to try to carry out the unbiblical mandates of the false apostles like C. Peter Wagner to “overthrow” the governments of the world and take over everything, which also means they have to manufacture “revival” where there is none and never has been. So in order to fulfill the false prophecies of the false prophets of the NAR, people involved in this heretical movement, like Richard Mouw, are waving their wands over the Mormons and dubbing them “Christian” to the consternation and embarrassment of Christians who understand the teachings of Mormonism that they cannot and will never give up.

So let’s put this whole sham of building bridges with the Mormons, on the way to another “ECT” type document, to rest for good. The Mormons will NEVER give up their “sacred texts”. Here are quotes to show how they view the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith from a few of their web sites. Notice that the Mormons don’t just have two “sacred” scriptures, the have four.

“The Book of Abraham is now included in “The Pearl of Great Price” and is one of the four Mormon sacred books, along with the Bible, The Book of Mormon, and The “Doctrine and Covenants”. (Mormonism – The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS), http://members.aol.com/browne/mormon.html)

The Bible is the only sacred book in the world today, breathed by the Holy Spirit.

Romans 15:4 For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture (refering to the Bible) is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,

Romans 16:25-27 Now to him who is able to establish you by my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all nations might believe and obey him—to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen.

None of the books that the Mormons call “sacred” except the Bible are, in fact, sacred. But the Mormons will NEVER give up their false scriptures because that would mean the end of their whole organization. The Bible and the Book of Mormon are seen as both equal “sacred” texts by Mormons.

“A Hermeneutic of Sacred Texts: Historicism, Revisionism, Positivism, and the Bible and Book of Mormon” (http://farms.byu.edu/display.php?table=review&id=32)

“An Ensign to All People: The Sacred Message and Mission of the Book of Mormon” (http://farms.byu.edu/display.php?table=review&id=15)

The Book of Mormon is called a “sacred chronicle” even though it is full of historical fabrications and lies, and has been proven so by many researchers.

“Though not a secular history of the Nephites per se, the Book of Mormon is a sacred chronicle or, to use Elder Boyd K. Packer’s language, “the saga of a message.”1 (Boyd K. Packer, “The Things of My Soul,” Ensign 16 (April 1986): 59., http://farms.byu.edu/display.php?table=jbms&id=29&previous=L3B1YmxpY2F0aW9ucy9ib29rb2Ztb3Jtb252aWV3LnBocA==)

Joseph Smith urged Mormons to immerse themselves in the Book of Mormon.

“The Prophet’s statement challenges all to immerse themselves in the Book of Mormon rather than to watch from the sidelines and just talk about this sacred record.” (The Most Correct Book: Why the Book of Mormon Is the Keystone Scripture, http://farms.byu.edu/display.php?table=review&id=98)

Notice that Joseph Smith is called “The Prophet” above. This brings us to the second damnable heresy of Mormonism, of which there are many. For a fuller detail on the false teachings of the cult of the LDS, go here for information.

LDS Church/Mormonism
http://www.letusreason.org/LDSdir.htm

The Mormons revere and follow a false prophet and heretic.

Joseph Smith’s statement, therefore, is a concise declaration that the Book of Mormon is the “most correct of any book” because it has the power to change individuals into more correct (Christlike) people. This change can only come because of better understanding Christ as the “keystone” figure of the Book of Mormon, and by applying the atonement, which embraces all of the “precepts” that bring one nearer to God. (The Most Correct Book: Why the Book of Mormon Is the Keystone Scripture, http://farms.byu.edu/display.php?table=review&id=98)

The fact that Joseph Smith calls the Book of Mormon the “most correct of any book” is not only false teaching, it is a lie. What does the Bible say about liars?

John 8:44 You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

Smith is viewed as a prophet on a par with the prophets of the Bible, in fact higher because he allegedly got a newer revelation from God for this “last dispensation”.

If the people of today were to ask, as men did in the Savior’s time, “Whence has this man (Joseph Smith) wisdom?” we unhesitatingly declare: “He received it from on High.” “Praise to the man who communed with Jehovah! Jesus anointed that “Prophet and Seer” — Blessed to open the last dispensation; Kings shall extol him and nations revere.” (Joseph Smith: Prophet, Seer, and Revelator, Address of President David O. McKay for the BYU Founders’ Day Exercises, October 6, 1941. Birgham Young University, Provo, UT., http://www.byu.edu/edlf/archives/mckay/41oct.html)

From my experience with Mormons in the Pacific Islands, the only way “kings extoll”, island leadership or “nations revere” Joseph Smith and the Mormon LDS Church is if they are paid off to do so, or given scholarships to BYU.

So the case is closed on Mormons being a part of the Body of Christ until the day they, as an organization, forsake their false scriptures and their false prophets and the ridiculous plans of people like Ravi Zacharias, Craig Hazen, Richard Mouw and Greg Johnson! If Mormons want to be saved they must confess thier sins, particularly the sins of being in a cult group, believing in another Jesus, another Spirit, another Gospel, and their false scriptures and false prophets.

Hey, we had to forsake sin and paganism to be born again. Why shouldn’t they?

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P.S. I predicted back in 1998 the progression that this ecumenical/interfaith compromise would take. For those of you interested, read that article here. Unfortunately it is all coming true like a bad dream.

http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/mormonism.html

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Church releases first volume of ‘The Joseph Smith Papers’
December 1st, 2008 @ 5:27pm
By Carole Mikita

It is simply titled “The Joseph Smith Papers,” but there was nothing simple about gathering the materials that went into what historians for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are calling a landmark publication.

Before now, only a few historians, and certainly not everyday citizens, were able to examine Joseph Smith’s original 19th-century diaries and journals, which are now rather fragile.

This first volume includes those journal entries and much more during an important seven-year period.

Joseph Smith wrote in one of his journals: “I was very conscious that I had not kept the commandments, and I repented heartily for all my sins and transgression and humbled myself before him whose eyes are over all things.”

The year was 1835, and that one and several others are transcribed into the new book “The Joseph Smith Papers.” There is enough material for 30 volumes.

Gathering it has taken decades because many papers were scattered across the country. Richard E. Turley, Jr., assistant LDS Church historian, says, “We have sent teams out to gather these puzzle pieces, and they have brought them back, and we have carefully fitted them into place. So that by the time this series is complete, you’ll have as complete a picture of the man as we may be able to get during our lifetimes.”

Historians are commenting. Kenneth Minkema, from the Yale Divinity School, says, “‘The Joseph Smith Papers’ rank among the most significant projects in the history of American religion.”

“Joseph Smith has been one of the least accessible major figures in the history of American religion. ‘The Joseph Smith Papers’ will forever change that by producing a monumental critical edition of every document written, dictated or supervised by the Mormon prophet,” said Stephen Marini from Wellesley College

Professor Emeritus Jan Shipps at Indiana University-Purdue University says, “‘The Joseph Smith Papers’ are absolutely central to understanding and interpreting what happened.”

Historians call this important because not only does it focus on the big events in Joseph Smith’s life but also into his personality.

The book’s publisher has printed 12,000 copies, calling volume one unique. CEO of Deseret Book Sheri Dew says, “Created something that is very hard to do, and that is a work that appeals to and satisfies scholars and is also very commercially viable.”

Volume 1 is available at Deseret Book for $49.95. I am told they are going quickly.

E-mail: cmikita@ksl.com

http://www.ksl.com/?nid=148&sid=4948679

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“Each of us has to face the matter-either the Church is true, or it is a fraud. There is no middle ground. It is the Church and kingdom of God, or it is nothing.” Gordon B. Hinckley, LDS General Conference, Spring 2003

As Michael Carr noted in his essay “Is the LDS Church the One True Church” (See http://zarahemlacitylimits.com/essays/LosingBelief/one_true_church1.html), the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the “Church”, the “Mormon Church”, the “LDS Church”) and many other religious faiths promote the idea that their way of approaching god is either the only legitimate way, or the best way.

The “one true church” idea is particularly influential within the Mormon Church. While the Catholics, for example, have that belief on their books, it is my perception that it has little effect on the average Catholic. However, the daily behaviour and worldview of the average faithful Mormon is heavily influenced by this idea.

As I have deconstructed my experience within the Mormon Church, I have tried to understand where this idea comes from and how it has affected me. For the moment, however, I wish to focus on one small, but important, aspect of this issue. That is, why would the “one true church” idea be of value to religious leaders who are trying to persuade their followers to continue to follow?

I began to wonder about this question years ago when I noticed the frequency with which Church members and leaders repeated to each other what I have come to call the “one true church mantra”. That is, “The Church is true.” This is shorthand within the Mormon community for the concept that the Mormon Church is god’s one and only true church on the face of the earth – the sole organization with god’s authority to perform the ordinances necessary to unite families in the hereafter and to gain entry into god’s domain, known as the celestial kingdom.

The one true church mantra is repeated regularly when Mormons gather. It is included in virtually every talk or lesson given during Mormon meetings, including the daily religious instruction that most Mormon teenagers receive through the Seminary program. Church members are taught that it should be included each time they state their beliefs (known in the LDS community as “bearing testimony”), and hence it is repeated by virtually everyone (including small children) who bears testimony at the monthly meetings held by Mormon congregations for that purpose. Mormon families are encouraged to bear this testimony to each other at family gatherings, including weekly Family Home Evenings and during the daily scripture study sessions that they are encouraged to hold. It is at least the subtext, if not the text, of many daily family prayers. It regularly finds its place into correspondence between close friends and family members. To test my instinct in that regard, I just opened the family letter that I received from my father and mother this morning, and found their testimony stated both implicitly and explicitly. The one true church mantra also plays a role in Mormon music, and must be stated as a belief by anyone who wishes to enter a Mormon temple, even for the purpose of simply attending the wedding of a family member. Most mormon missionaries express their testimony, including the belief that the Church is “true”, many times a day throughout the course of their missionary service. Etc. It is beyond doubt that great resources within the Mormon community are devoted to hammering this idea into the collective and individual Mormon psyche.

My study of sociology over the years has led me to conclude that when a message of this sort is given a prominent place within a group of people that it must play an important function. That function is often quite different from what those inside the organization, with a limited view of how it affects them, might think. It took me years, and a trip outside of the Mormon Church, to put my finger on the one true church idea’s function.

It is my view that the “one true church” concept sets up a false dichotomy that makes it easier for religious leaders to control their followers. For example, if the Mormon Church is either 100% god’s true church, or a fraud, and I have a good feeling about some of my experience with it, does that not mean that the rest (about which I don’t have a good feeling) must all be true? Does this not mean that I must give complete obedience to Church authorities, even though some of what they tell me to do makes me feel uneasy, or even bad? Does it not mean that some theory yet to be discovered, or one of the current crop that appear to have miniscule probability of predicting reality, must eventually save the day on the Book of Mormon’s historicity and the multitude of other “reality” problems the Church’s foundational stories have? In these and other ways, the one true church idea greatly aids the Mormon faithful to make the willing suspension of disbelief required to remain faithful.

The “black v. white” approach at the heart of the one true church concept also facilitates the Church’s system of conversion and belief maintenance. Church members and potential converts are told to read the Book of Mormon and that they will have a good feeling about it. This may occur simply because the Book of Mormon has some good things to say. In my case, which is typical, the process was helped along by the fact that most of my Mormon friends and relatives regularly told me that they had these good feelings, while for some reason I had not. This created an anxiety in me that grew over a period of years, and became acute as the time for me to commit to serve a mission approached, and my friends were making that commitment.

I accepted the idea that the Church must be completely true or completely false. I had been taught that from early childhood, and did not have a frame of reference within which I could question it. I also felt some good things when I read the Book of Mormon, and my anxiety started to dissipate as I experienced the nascent feeling that the book was “true”. The psychologists and brain architecture researchers tell us that the combination of the above elements is enough to create a minor epiphany, which is how I would describe the moment at which I was struck by the realization that the whole thing MUST BE TRUE! This experience became the unshakable bedrock on which my testimony stood. And how could the whole thing be false if I have felt something so good about it? That part can’t be false. And from there the true – false dichotomy led me to the conclusion that the whole thing must be true. The Church then encouraged me to express this belief, in the form of my testimony, on a regular basis in the fashion described above. This drilled my newfound belief deep into my subconscious. It is my view that the primary function of the LDS missionary program is just that: to engrain as deeply as possible the one true church mantra in the group of people traditionally the most likely to question the values of any group – young males.

And what about belief and its connection to guilt and from there to control? If the whole thing is true, then I am subject to a massive body of requirements each one of which is a source of guilt, and hence a control lever. If I feel at liberty to believe what I choose, most of my guilt goes away, and with it goes most of the Church’s ability to get me to do what it wants.

During my twenty-year plus tenure as a Mormon leader, I heard the terms “cafeteria style Mormons” or “cultural Mormons” used pejoratively to refer to members of the LDS Church who were not as obedient to leadership dictates as the leaders wished them to be. Such members are not as dedicated, obedient etc. as their “faithful” peers, and the leaders fear that such a lax attitude could spread like a form of cancer. This scares the leadership, as do intellectuals who talk openly about problems related to the Book of Mormon’s historicity and certain distasteful aspects of Joseph Smith’s history. In particular, the leaders fear those Mormons who are prepared to accept that the Book of Mormon contains some inspired writing, but that Joseph Smith made many mistakes while writing it that they are free to reject. If members of the Church feel free to reject some of what Joseph Smith said, they will surely feel free to reject the parts of what current leaders say that do not suit them. This is what the leaders most fear. This approach is a much greater threat to Church leadership than are rabid anti-Mormons.

Cultural Mormons do not do what they are told unless it makes sense, and hence they erode leadership authority. And if they are natural leaders, their attitudes are likely to affect the masses. The sheppard (if not the flock) is better off without such sheep. Hence when they are identified, they must at a minimum be silenced (as long as you are silent, you will be left alone but perhaps watched carefully), but preferably brought back into line. Those who will not get back into line are excommunicated, or as was the case with me, hand in their membership when talk of a “court of love” being held in their honour becomes serious.

To test the sensibility of the black v. white approach, try to think of any other aspect of life in which it would serve us well as a decision making model. Do we accept all of what any school of political thought tells us? How about parenting or child rearing theory? Relationship theory? Educational theory? Economics? Medicine? I cannot think of any other aspect of life in which I would be comfortable accepting the ideas that come from a single source as being my sole guide. Religious belief, in my life, had been established as a unique phenomenon, respecting which all of the rules that governed the remainder of my life were suspended. My acceptance of the one true church concept is what made this possible.

The one true church concept broke down for me as I became aware of numerous other religious belief systems that controlled their followers in precisely the way I was controlled by mine, using the same tools. The theories accepted by these communities were contradictory to those accepted in my community. However, the nature of leadership control was much the same. For many years, I assumed that against all odds my community had the truth and all others were mistaken. As I gradually became aware of the errors that Mormon leadership had made over the years, the lights began to come on. My community was as errant as the others. But, the leaders of my community had much in common with the other religious leaders for whom I had been taught to have disdain. And Mormonism’s current leaders were the ones who set up the system designed to keep faithful Mormons, such as me, from understanding their own religious heritage through its history, and hence from understanding the nature of the errors Mormon leaders have made. Guess toward whom the disdain I was taught to have has now been turned?

Here is a more extensive quote from President Hinkley’s talk that is referred to above. There is nothing unusual about it. Countless others of a similar nature could be found. I use this one because it is the most recent I could find.

The book of Revelation declares: “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth” (Revelation 3:15-16). …

Each of us has to face the matter – either the Church is true, or it is a fraud. There is no middle ground. It is the Church and kingdom of God, or it is nothing.

This is classic scare/control message, particularly when linked to the rest of LDS dogma in the manner indicated above. It is my view that Church and how it operates make the most sense when viewed through a control/authority paradigm. As soon as I began to use that paradigm to try to understand how the Church has influenced me, things came into focus and I was able to both find the threads that unite my past experience and predict with a high probability of success where things were headed. The “one true church” idea is near the foundation of the LDS control and authority oriented system of religious belief.

As one writer I recently read put it, the question is whether we have religious faith, or whether religious faith has us. If we are well enough informed about what our faith is and how it works in our lives to use it to help us live a full and joyous life, then we have religious faith. If, on the other hand, our beliefs are used by others to control us, then our faith has us. Those others need not be current religious leaders. It is possible to surrender our free will to people who wrote books thousands of years ago that purport to tell us what we should do, or even to abstractions of our own invention.

I have resolved to do what I can to ensure that from now on I have faith, instead of being had by it.

http://zarahemlacitylimits.com/essays/one_true_church.html

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An ex-Mormon explains how a church with mostly good values can promote hatred and intolerance.

Mormon Homophobia: Up Close and Personal
By Sheldon Rampton, Center for Media and Democracy. Posted December 3, 2008.

I recently wrote about the PR nightmare facing the Mormon Church as a result of the prominent role it played this year promoting Proposition 8 to ban same-sex marriage in California. At the urging of church leaders, Mormons spent about $20 million on the effort, which probably provided the margin that enabled the measure to pass.

There is some irony in the fact that Mormon pollster Gary Lawrence, who led the Proposition 8 grassroots campaign for the church in California, has a gay son, Matthew, who publicly resigned from the church to protest its anti-gay campaign. Matthew says that after his father’s participation in “two anti-gay initiatives in eight years, it’s impossible not to feel attacked.”

Adding to the irony, Gary Lawrence has a new book out, titled How Americans View Mormonism: Seven Steps to Improve Our Image. His advice to Mormons who want to be better liked is, “Simply be yourself” — advice that drew a sharp response from one blogger, who pointed out that being yourself “is a poor prescription for winning friends when ‘who you are’ is someone willing to lead a campaign to strip your own child of his civil rights.”

The anti-Mormon backlash continues, and some people who have Mormon friends are rising to their defense, including Kaliya Hamlin (also known as “Identity Woman” for her work on issues related to online identity). In a recent blog post, Hamlin complains that “Web mobs” are engaged in “blacklisting and subsequent public harassment and targeting of specific people and specific religious groups for their beliefs and support of ‘Yes on Prop. 8.’ ” She continues:

I take this personally, I have and do work with people who are Mormon — when I played water polo in university and in the Identity field). I respect the LDS church and the people in it — they have good values. …

I think what is going on with the blacklists that are directly targeting people in their private life is wrong. I think targeting specific religious institutions for protest is wrong.

These people and these religious institutions are not propagating HATE, they are just not agreeing that marriage can be between a man and a man or a woman and a woman. This is a cultural difference of opinion.

With all due respect, I think Hamlin fails to understand the intensity, seriousness, and yes, hatred underlying Mormon opposition to gay rights. I actually have more personal experience with Mormons than she does. I was raised in a Mormon family and even served a two-year Mormon mission in Japan, from 1976 to 1978. Although I no longer believe in or practice its teachings, my extended family includes many active members. It’s true that individual Mormons are mostly nice people — as generous, thoughtful, intelligent and considerate as people from any other religion or belief system. Unfortunately, it is actually possible to possess all of those positive attributes and still promote hatred and intolerance.

From my missionary days, I still own a copy of The Miracle of Forgiveness, a book by Spencer W. Kimball, who was president (and “prophet”) of the Mormon Church from 1973 until his death in 1985. The church still promotes Kimball’s book and supports its beliefs regarding homosexuality, which he outlined in a chapter titled “Crime Against Nature.” It states:

Homosexuality is an ugly sin, repugnant to those who find no temptation in it, as well as to many past offenders who are seeking a way out of its clutches. It is embarrassing and unpleasant as a subject for discussion, but because of its prevalence, the need to warn the uninitiated, and the desire to help those who may already be involved in it, it is discussed in this chapter. …
[P]erhaps as an extension of homosexual practices, men and women have sunk even to seeking sexual satisfaction from animals. …

All such deviations from normal, proper heterosexual relationships are not merely unnatural but wrong in the sight of God. Like adultery, incest and bestiality, they carried the death penalty under the Mosaic law. … The law is less severe now, and so regrettably is the community’s attitude to those grave sins — another evidence of the deterioration of society. In some countries the act per se is not even illegal. This “liberalizing” process is reflected in the United States by communities of homosexuals in our larger cities who sponsor demonstrations and draw up petitions to this end, who are formally organized, and who even print their own perverted journals. All this is done in the open, to the detriment alike of impressionable minds, susceptible urges and our national decency.

Mormon abhorrence of homosexuality is so strong that in the 1970s the church even experimented with aversion therapy at Brigham Young University, setting up a center where it tried to “cure” homosexuality. The so-called therapy consisted of taping electrodes to the groin, thigh, chest and armpits of gay men and subjecting them to painful electric shocks while showing them pornographic photographs of nude men. The treatments, which were overseen by the head of the university’s psychology department, were thought to be “effective in reducing homosexual responsiveness.” I happen to know someone who underwent this treatment — in his case voluntarily, because he was desperately trying to comply with Mormon teachings. However, some cases have been reported of people who were subjected to aversion therapy against their will or who were pressured into it with threats of expulsion from college. The experience left many with psychological and physical scars, and at least two men reportedly committed suicide shortly after undergoing treatment.

Hamlin says that Mormons have “good values.” However, Mormon values are precisely what are on display in Kimball’s writings and the actions of the aversion therapists at BYU. And they are core values of Mormonism today. These values are deeply felt and widely believed. They are the basis for Mormon political activism against Prop. 8 in California, and they will undoubtedly continue to drive Mormon political actions against gay rights in the future.

Of course, not all Mormons share this homophobia. There is even a Web site,

MormonsForMarriage.com, devoted to letting “the world know that not all Mormons (LDS church members) oppose gay marriage.” However, this view is in the minority and is strongly at odds with the church’s official position and numerous pronouncements from church leaders over a period of decades. Matthew Lawrence is only one of hundreds of Mormons who have felt compelled to resign their memberships in protest against the church’s opposition to gay rights.

The question remains, of course, whether Hamlin is right that supporters of gay rights should refrain from “directly targeting people in their private life” by protesting and arguing with individual Mormons who have participated in the church’s anti-gay campaigns. Certainly, protesters should refrain from belligerence, threats and intimidation. However, the only way Mormon attitudes are going to change on this issue is through confrontation. (And even then, attitudes will not change easily or quickly.)

On this point, I remember my own experience as a teenager in the 1970s, a time when Mormons continued to cling to another discriminatory value — the so-called Negro doctrine, which excluded people of African descent from the Mormon priesthood. As justification for the priesthood ban, a number of pernicious theories were popular in Mormon culture. I own a book from that era,

Mormonism and the Negro (co-authored by a vice president at BYU), which patiently explains that blacks are “descendants of Cain” and therefore subject to “Cain’s curse” because their spirits were “less valiant” than the spirits of white people. (Although I didn’t know it at the time, even these ideas were an improvement over the statements of Brigham Young in the 19th century, when he declared as a “law of God” that “If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot.”)

As a high school student in 1974, I felt privately uncomfortable with the Negro doctrine, but like many members of the church, I didn’t think about it very much. It didn’t become a personal thing for me until one day in gym class, when a black kid came up to me and angrily said he had heard that Mormons didn’t think blacks like him should go to heaven. What did I think of that? He wanted to know.

Technically, he was wrong about the theological details. Mormons actually believed that blacks could go to heaven. They just couldn’t have the priesthood. I tried to make that distinction the basis for a joke to defuse the situation. “No, we think you can go to heaven,” I replied. “We just think you don’t deserve to.” The kid glared at me for a minute, and that was the end of the conversation.

Today, more than 30 years later, I don’t remember his name, but I remember the moment very clearly. I imagine he walked away thinking he had wasted his breath by even talking to me. He certainly didn’t get a satisfactory reply. But the conversation had an effect on me. It left me feeling profoundly shaken and uncomfortable about a church practice that until then had seemed like a theoretical abstraction of no particular relevance to my own life. Over time, that discomfort helped inform my thinking and changed my attitudes.

There were Mormons and non-Mormons who challenged the Negro doctrine long before I ever heard about it. For most of them, challenging the status quo was unpleasant and sometimes was met with hostility — all the more so because on that issue, as with the issue of gay rights, Mormons simply did not believe that they were guilty of promoting hatred or discrimination. It took years for attitudes to change on the Negro doctrine, but in 1978 the Mormon Church officially announced a revelation — from none other than Spencer W. Kimball — which gave black Mormons the same priesthood rights as everyone else. I remember when it happened. (I was in Japan at the time, knocking on doors and trying to get people to read the Book of Mormon.) Most members of the church were palpably relieved when the Negro doctrine was finally abandoned, but nevertheless it took pressure and personal confrontations to make this change happen.

On an issue like this one, where there are entrenched attitudes and strongly held beliefs, change comes one conversation at a time, haltingly, with discomfort and difficulty. Some Mormons are having those conversations as they discover that members of their own family are gay. Others are now having the conversation thrust upon them as people “target them in their private life” to challenge their political activities. However discomfiting these conversations may be, they need to happen if attitudes are ever to change.

http://www.alternet.org/rights/109586/mormon_homophobia:_up_close_and_personal/

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MORMONISM’S FOUNDATION OF DECEPTION

This article explains how Joseph Smith, who claimed to be a latter-day prophet, was able to bring into being a religion that opposes every major doctrine in the Bible, in spite of the Bible being one of their standard works.

At the start the LDS church’s doctrines were similar to those of Christianity. For the first twelve years they worshipped the trinitarian deity, as is borne out by their 1835 printing of Doctrine and Covenants. (Note that at that stage Joseph taught that God was a spirit being.)

“….. We shall, in this lecture speak of the Godhead: we mean the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. There are two personages ….. They are the Father and the Son: The Father being a personage of spirit, glory and power: possessing all perfection and fullness: the Son, who was in the bosom of the Father, a personage of tabernacle ….. And he being the only begotten of the Father ….. possessing the same mind with the Father, which mind is the Holy Spirit..” (1835 Doctrine and Covenants, Lecture Fifth of Faith, 5:1-2, pages 52-53, First edition.) (Writer’s italics)

The Book of Mormon, which was written by Joseph Smith prior to his change in deity, confirms his original trinitarian teaching given above. Note that the Book of Mormon also taught that there was only one God, who was a spirit being:

And then Ammon said: Believest thou that there is a Great Spirit? And he said, Yes. And Ammon said: This is God. And Ammon said unto him again: Believest thou that this Great Spirit, who is God, created all things which are in heaven and on the earth? And he said Yes …….. (Alma 18:26-29)

….. Christ the Son, and God the Father, and the Holy Spirit, which is one Eternal God….. (Alma 11:44)

….. the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost are one ….. (3 Nephi 11:27)

….. to dwell in the presence of God in his kingdom, to sing ceaseless praises with the choirs above, unto the Father, and unto the Son, and unto the Holy Ghost, which are one God….. (Mormon 7:7)

Now Zeezrom said: Is there more than one God? And he answered, No. (Alma 11:28-29)

….. there is but one God (Alma 11:35)
Suffice it to say that Mormonism of today has changed to the extent that it no longer bears any resemblance to Mormonism of the early days. It is a different religion altogether, with a different God (an ordinary saved sinner with a body of flesh and bone), a different Saviour (who fits in with their later doctrine of eternal progression), and a different atonement, gospel and salvation. (Links are given at the end of this page to relevant articles on these subjects.)

LAYING THE FOUNDATION FOR THE DECEPTION

Records reveal that prior to the inception of the LDS church Joseph Smith was involved in the occult, spiritism and necromancy. He also had the reputation of being a confidence trickster, and for some years made money out of convincing folk that he could divine the whereabouts of hidden treasure through the use of his occultic stone. However, the treasure never materialised and he was eventually taken to court and prosecuted. Although he was found guilty, due to his age at the time (twenty) he was not given a sentence.

It is a fact that Smith never gave up his occultic practices. He died with an occultic talisman coin in his pocket. And he freely admitted that during the period that he was prophet and leader of the church, he received “prophecies and revelations” through his occultic stone — see the article on this site, “Joseph Smith, the Latter-day False Prophet.”

After he had joined the probationer’s class of the Methodist Church in 1828, it was pointed out to Joseph that his lifestyle did not fit in with the teachings and beliefs of the church; and that in order to stay in membership he would be required to confess his misdemeanours, repent and change his ways. However, he chose rather to resign. (c/f The Amboy Journal, April 30, 1879 page 1; June 11, 1879, page 1.)

Within two years he had started up his own church, which came to be known as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Opponents of Mormonism believe that his story about the apostasy of the Christian church stemmed from his bitterness towards the church in general, as a direct consequence of what had happened to him when he had attempted to join the Methodists.

Although he had a poor education, Joseph was certainly not lacking in intelligence. He knew that his ideas on religion did not fit in with the teachings of the Bible, and that he would have to come up with an innovative explanation. He also realised that he needed to provide a plausible reason for starting up a new church.

Declaring himself to be a latter-day prophet, he claimed that God had revealed to him that after the death of Christ’s apostles the early church had become apostate, and that he had been given the task of restoring the true church. He also maintained that the Bible was not reliable as it had been incorrectly translated, and that large sections containing important teachings about salvation had been removed.

This meant that right from the very start, his followers had no reliable standard of truth against which to test whether or not his teachings were correct, thereby giving him free reign to introduce whatever unbiblical teachings fitted in with his agenda.

“Many important points touching the salvation of men, had been taken from the Bible, or lost before it was compiled.” (Joseph Smith, History of the Church, Volume 1, page 245)

“Ignorant translators, careless transcribers, or designing and corrupt priests have committed many errors” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, page 327).

Although his followers accepted his claims about the Bible having been corrupted, Smith was wise enough not to bring about any radical departure from biblical doctrines until the church had become well and truly established.

Later on, when doctrines that directly contradicted biblical teachings were introduced, the LDS members were taught that because the Bible was unreliable, the best way to establish the accuracy of its teachings was to compare them with their own doctrines, their own scriptures and the words of their own true prophet. This teaching still applies today:

“The most reliable way to measure the accuracy of any biblical passage is not by comparing different texts, but by comparison with the Book of Mormon and modern-day revelations.” (Church News, June 20, 1992, page 3, quoting a letter from the First Presidency [Presidents Benson, Hinckley and Monson] dated May 22, 1992, to all of the Church)

Perpetuating the deceptions that have been part and parcel of Mormonism ever since its inception, the following claim was made in a later LDS booklet for consumption by non-Mormons:

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (known informally by the nickname Mormons) believe the Bible. Indeed, so literally and completely do their beliefs and practices conform to the teachings of the Bible that it is not uncommon to hear informed persons say: ‘If all men believed the Bible, all would be Mormons.’ Bible doctrine is Mormon doctrine, and Mormon doctrine is Bible doctrine. They are one and the same (LDS Apostle and Doctrinal Writer, Bruce McConkie, ‘What The Mormons Think of Christ,’ page 2)

THE INTRODUCTION OF ETERNAL PROGRESSION

Twelve years after the formation of the LDS church, in 1842, Joseph made his move, introducing his unbiblical “Law of Eternal Progression” with the following pronouncement:

“We have imagined and supposed that God was God from all eternity. I will refute that idea, and take away the veil, so that you may see ….. God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens!” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, page 345, compiled by Joseph Fielding Smith).

In order to avoid duplication, eternal progression will not be discussed in depth here, as a link is provided at the bottom of this page to an article that explains it more fully. But to put it briefly, the eternal progression teaching is that every living being originally existed as intelligent matter, then progressed, each in his own time, to the next stage by taking on a spirit form, and finally to the stage of taking on a physical body. The ultimate is to progress, or to be “translated” to godhood, which in Mormonism is eternal life. What this means is that deity and man have exactly the same origins and the same scope for advancement. The only difference between us and God is that He has reached a further stage of progression than we have, at this moment in time.

Although it may be hard for us to understand how so many sincere and well-meaning folk could have been taken in by his incredible deceptions, we need to bear in mind that Joseph Smith was a talented and persuasive orator. In his youth he had belonged to the local debating society, and he had also been a regular exhorter at the Methodist evening meetings for some time prior to his attempt at becoming a member of that church. (History of the Pioneer Settlement of Phelps and Gorham’s Purchase, 1851, page 214). And let us not forget that he had already convinced his followers that the Bible was not reliable.

It is not the practice of the LDS to disclose their exclusive doctrines to outsiders. And they will go to great lengths to conceal them. Only after having been baptised into the LDS church is the initiate exposed to the full teachings of Mormonism, through a graduated system of indoctrination. For this reason, right up until fairly recently, few people outside the LDS membership were aware of the full extent of LDS beliefs.

However, since the advent of the Internet and the subsequent public disclosure of LDS teachings by ex-Mormons, there has been such widespread condemnation of their claim that Mormon men can become Gods (as well as of various other LDS doctrines and practices), that they have recently toned down the wording of their teachings. For instance, they now talk about becoming “like God,” whereas when the writer was still in the LDS, they didn’t mince their words, but said straight out that men were able to become gods in their own right, reigning over their own worlds, through obedience to the laws and ordinances of the LDS church. They often quoted a couplet from the pulpit, that went something like this:

As man is, God once was;
As God is, man can become.

In spite of toning down their wording, there has been no change in their doctrine of eternal progression, and the ultimate in Mormonism is still “translation” to godhood, which in “Mormonese” means eternal life.

“Here then is eternal life; to know the only wise and true God; and you have got to learn how to be Gods yourselves, and to be kings and priests to God the same as all Gods have done before you” (Journal of Discourses 6:4; Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, page 346, compiled by Joseph Fielding Smith).

When Smith changed to the worship of a different deity many folk who had joined the LDS under their original belief system left the church. But he managed to persuade the majority to join him in his rejection of the biblical spirit God, and to follow instead his revolutionary new deity who had a body of flesh and bone, and had once been a sinner in need of salvation. He later claimed:

“I am the only man that has ever been able to keep a whole church together since the days of Adam. A large majority of the whole have stood by me. Neither Paul, John, Peter nor Jesus ever did. I boast that no man ever did such a work as I.The followers of Jesus ran away from Him, but the Latter-day Saints never ran away from me yet.” (The History of the Church Volume 6, pages 408-409). (Italics inserted by author.)

THE ONLY TRUE CHURCH

The LDS has a number of teachings that have been specifically designed to convince their members that they are the only true church. For instance, they are told that God removed His authority from the earth after the early church had gone into total apostasy but that He has restored His authority to them. They go on to claim that because they alone have God’s authority, salvation is only possible through their church. Another claim is that God restored, through the LDS church, the Levitical/Aaronic priesthood (which, incidentally is Old Covenant theology and has no place in the New Covenant), as well as the Melchizedek priesthood; and that eternal progression is only possible through the LDS priesthood. Then too, they maintain that they have the same organization as did the primitive church, which they say proves yet again that they are the true, restored church.

However, not a single one of these claims has any validity, as on investigation they are all disproved by the true facts.

To bolster up their claims Mormons are taught to “have faith” in Joseph Smith, his Book of Mormon and the LDS church through their feelings rather than through established facts (see the article on this site entitled, “The Mormon Testimony and Brainwashing.”)

Another deceptive ploy is their title, “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” This gives the impression that they are both biblical and Christian, and they actually teach their members that their title proves that they are the true church. But in reality nothing could be further from the truth. They have had no less than five other titles up to the present time in history, and at one stage were called, “The Church of the Latter-day Saints.” (See the Article, “The Title of the LDS Church,” which is featured on this site.) Mormons worship a different God, their gospel is different and so is their salvation. And although they do everything “in the name of Jesus Christ,” the Jesus Christ they believe in is not the biblical Christ, a fact which their leadership admits (see the article “The LDS Jesus Christ is not the Saviour of the Bible.”

Furthermore, in order to give the illusion that their doctrines fit in with what the Bible teaches, the LDS has deliberately and consistently applied dishonest meanings to biblical terms. One glaring example is the term, “salvation by grace,” which according to the Bible means being saved from both the guilt and the penalty of our sins by the grace of God through faith in Christ. But instead the LDS applies this biblical term, “salvation by grace,” to universal resurrection, without the necessity for faith in Christ and without the forgiveness of personal sins. They go on to teach that the right to forgiveness of sins has to be earned through obedience to the laws and ordinances of their church organization (c/f Articles of Faith by Talmage, page 87).

However, this is what the Bible teaches:
To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins. (Acts 10:43, KJV)

Who His own self bore our sins in His body on the tree (1 Peter 2:24, KJV)

For this is my blood of the New Testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. (Matthew 26:28, KJV)

In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace (Ephesians 1:7, KJV)

Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood (Revelation 1:5, KJV)

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 14:6, KJV)

Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. (Acts 4:12, KJV)

Although the LDS God was not always deity, but was once a fallen sinner in need of salvation, Mormons are given the impression that he is the eternal God of the Bible. In order to facilitate this deception, the LDS invented a new, exclusive meaning for the word “eternal.” They maintain it is only a title used by God in the same way as Mr. and Mrs. are titles when used in front of someone’s surname. But our dictionaries define the word “eternal” as meaning “without beginning or end of existence, everlasting, ceaseless and unchangeable.” And this is how the term “eternal” is meant to be understood when used by the Bible. (According to LDS teachings, gaining eternal life means exaltation to godhood, or enjoying the same type of life as deity, through Mormonism. But this is not what the Bible teaches.)

Their ongoing subterfuge indicates that in spite of the fact that Mormonism bears no resemblance to Christianity, and that it opposes every major doctrine taught by the Bible, it has nevertheless been deliberately dressed up in the guise of biblical Christianity. In other words, it is a counterfeit of Christianity.

Although in the past they distanced themselves from Christianity to the extent that their membership used to be told never to call themselves Christians but Latter-day Saints; at the moment the LDS is involved in a massive publicity campaign, and is pulling out all the stops to get themselves included in the Christian fraternity. Consequently, Mormons now become offended if one says they are not Christian.

As there is freedom of religion in America, one cannot help but wonder what their motive is in maintaining a Christian facade, when their religion is anything but Christian. (The articles listed in the index of the home page of this site give clear and overwhelming evidence, with references from their own literature, of Mormon opposition to everything that biblical Christianity stands for, apart from the morality issue.)

However, once one considers their roots, everything falls into place.

Joseph Smith’s religion of Mormonism is the biggest success story ever, in the arena of spiritual deception. The LDS church follows a false god, trusts in a counterfeit Jesus Christ, teaches a nonexistent salvation, and propagates Joseph Smith’s false gospel under the guise of “the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

THE REASON BEHIND THE ESTABLISHMENT OF MORMONISM

Because Smith had stressed right from the earliest days that important teachings on salvation had been taken from the Bible, we realise with hindsight that from the very start his purpose had been to lead folk away from the way of salvation that God had revealed to us in the pages of the Bible, and to substitute in its place a false gospel that fitted in with his own agenda. And to confirm that this is precisely what he did do, we will compare the biblical gospel with what the LDS teaches, and which they deceptively call “the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

THE CHRISTIAN GOSPEL

The Christian gospel is a message intended for all the inhabitants of the entire world, regardless of belief, race or creed. It tells of the amazing love of a holy and righteous Creator God for the sinful, fallen and wayward race of mankind:

In His great mercy God devised a plan that catered for our fallen state. In order to rescue us both from the power that sin has over us as well as from its terrible eternal consequences; and also to enable us to become reconciled to His righteous rulership, He came down to earth in Christ, and took on a body of flesh. By becoming one of us He qualified to become our Redeemer. Although He was sinless He voluntarily, graciously, and humbly took upon Himself the burden of the guilt and the shame of our sins. Then He courageously paid the terrible price on our behalf, in our place, on the cross, so that we could be set free from condemnation. Only one condition applied: In order to qualify for salvation we have to identify Christ as being our Representative and Saviour, by trusting solely in Him, in His saving power, His ability, and His redeeming atonement on our behalf, on the cross. (See the article “What is Biblical Salvation?” listed on the Home page.)

This means that everyone, no matter what their past may have been, what sins they may have committed, what may be their race or station in life, or how weak their resolve may be, stands on level ground at the foot of the cross. And so there is hope for all, “in Christ.” What a Saviour!

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16, KJV)

God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them (2 Corinthians 5:19, KJV).

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. (2 Corinthians 5:21, KJV).

For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God (1 Peter 3:18, KJV)

But the LDS gospel is not like that at all. Mormonism was designed specifically to draw folk away from God’s way of salvation. We know that this is so because firstly, as already mentioned above, Smith had maintained from the start that important teachings on salvation had been removed from the Bible. And secondly, their gospel is aimed at Christians or at folk who are familiar with or who have been brought up in a Christian society. Very roughly, their gospel goes something like this:

THE LDS GOSPEL

In a vision God revealed to his latter-day prophet, Joseph Smith, that the Christian church (for which Christ had died) had became apostate shortly after the death of His apostles. So he removed His authority for the gospel from the earth. But in these latter days He has restored both the true gospel and His authority to the earth, through his prophet, Joseph Smith.

The Bible that God gave us to use as our standard of truth, so that we could protect ourselves from spiritual deception or error, is not reliable due to incorrect translation and missing portions of important teachings on salvation.

As the LDS church alone has God’s authority for the gospel, salvation can only be attained through membership of their organization, provided we have faith in Joseph Smith as the true prophet of God, are obedient to the laws and ordinances of their organization, and live righteously, to the end. (See the article on this site on Mormon Salvation).

“Redemption from personal sins can only be obtained through obedience to the requirements of the [Mormon] gospel, and a life of good works ….. The Sectarian Dogma of Justification by Faith Alone has exercised an influence for evil” (Mormon Apostle James Talmage, Articles of Faith, pages 478-479).

“There is no salvation outside The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” (Bruce McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, page 670).

“There is no salvation without accepting Joseph Smith as a prophet of God.” (Doctrines of Salvation, Vol. 1, page 188.)

As can be seen, the Mormon gospel would make no sense to anyone other than those with some sort of a Christian background or with at least a knowledge of biblical Christianity. It’s whole purpose is to create an environment where we turn away from God’s way of salvation through Christ alone and from the truths given to us in the Bible, to the deceptions taught by their false prophet, Joseph Smith.

Sadly, even if Mormons do eventually become aware of the many contradictions and errors in LDS doctrines, the majority of them have been so thoroughly indoctrinated that they will continue to avoid the Christian church like a plague and still be convinced that the Bible is unreliable. So even then Mormonism will have served its purpose. Whether he stays in their church or whether he goes, the Mormon has been indoctrinated to the extent that he is reluctant to have anything to do with what happens to be the true, biblical gospel. And what is more, because of having been so thoroughly deceived by the LDS church, he feels he can never ever trust anyone else again in the spiritual arena.

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. (Ephesians 6:12, KJV)

CONCLUSION

If the reader is a Mormon I want to encourage you not to give up in your search for the truth.

Your best way forward is to begin reading the Bible in a new way, with a new attitude, giving yourself permission to accept that it is God’s proven standard of truth. (See the proof via the link below entitled, “Corruption of the Bible is an LDS Smokescreen.”)

It’s better to start with the New Testament, either with the gospels or else with one of the epistles, such as Philippians or Colossians, and to prayerfully read each book that you tackle in small portions, going right through from beginning to end, before going on to another, asking God to help you to understand what he wants you to learn from your reading for each day. It’s also helpful to keep a notebook, marked with the dates and the passages read, together with what you feel God has taught you from each particular reading.

You are welcome to write to this site and I will do my utmost to help and encourage you in any way I can. My email address is:

reply@bibtruth.com

There is an index of relevant articles listed on the home page of this site. The following are links to some of the articles referred to above:

Corruption of the Bible is an LDS Smokescreen
The LDS Jesus Christ is Not the Saviour of the Bible
The Apostasy is a Mormon Fallacy

LDS Authority Teaching Has No Basis
The Mormon Gods, Past and Present
LDS Pre-existence is Disproved by the Bible

The LDS Priesthood is Unbiblical
Joseph Smith’s First Vision and the Controversy Surrounding It
Joseph Smith, the Latter-day False Prophet
What is Biblical Salvation?

Copyright 2008 by Mormonism and Biblical Truth. All rights reserved.

http://www.bibtruth.com/decep.html

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SALVATION EXPOSED TO THE LIGHT OF BIBLE

MORMON SALVATION

LDS teaching on salvation is that Christ’s atonement only covers universal resurrection, which amounts to damnation. They go on to say that the right to forgiveness of personal sins has to be earned by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the LDS organization, plus virtuous living. Furthermore, salvation is available through their church alone, and then only if you have accepted Joseph Smith as God’s true prophet:

Those who gain only this general or unconditional salvation will still be judged according to their works and receive their places in a terrestrial or telestial kingdom. They will therefore be damned. (LDS Apostle McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, page 669). (Author’s italics)

There is no salvation outside The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, page 670).

There is no salvation without accepting Joseph Smith as a prophet of God, (Doctrines of Salvation, Vol. 1, page 188.)

The first effect [of the atonement] is to secure to all mankind alike, exemption from the penalty of the fall, thus providing a plan of General Salvation. The second effect is to open a way for Individual Salvation whereby mankind may secure remission of personal sins. As these sins are the result of individual acts, it is just that forgiveness for them should be conditioned on individual compliance with prescribed requirements, obedience to the laws and ordinances of the [LDS] Gospel. (LDS Apostle James Talmage, Articles of Faith, page 87). (Author’s italics)

None of the above teachings will be found anywhere in the Bible. They are exclusive to Mormonism and actually contradict what the Bible teaches. Regardless of this fact, the LDS consistently uses biblical terminology when referring to their teachings, including their teachings on salvation. But in order to fit these biblical terms in with their unbiblical doctrines, they have had to give them completely different meanings (which will not be found in any dictionary). For instance, they call universal resurrection, which they say does not cover forgiveness of sins and amounts to damnation, “salvation by grace.”

A BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF BIBLICAL SALVATION

“Salvation” as a biblical term means being rescued or saved from both the penalty of sin and its power over us. So it covers the forgiveness of all our sins. And because our sins form an effective barrier between ourselves and a holy God, salvation from sin also has the effect of reconciling us to God, through Christ the Saviour.

Biblical salvation is by grace through faith in Christ alone. In other words we don’t have to earn the right to forgiveness of sins. Christ earned the right to our forgiveness on our behalf, by taking the punishment we deserve on Himself in His atonement on the cross at Calvary. The following are just some of the very many verses in the Bible that teach salvation from personal sin by grace through faith in Christ:

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16, KJV)

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, KJV)

Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us ….. (Titus 3:5, KJV)

In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: (Colossians 1:14 KJV)

Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:3, KJV)

God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them ….. (2 Corinthians 5:19, KJV).

And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross (Colossians 2:13-14, KJV). (Italics inserted by writer.)

Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. (Acts 4:12, KJV)

As will be seen, the above scriptures invalidate the following LDS claims regarding salvation:
That we have to earn the right to forgiveness of our personal sins; That we have to believe that Joseph Smith is the true prophet of God; That we have to obey the laws and ordinances of the LDS Church; and That salvation is only available through the LDS Church.

SALVATION THROUGH A SUBSTITUTIONARY SACRIFICE

The Bible is a fascinating book. Concepts that aren’t always all that easy to understand are explained by the use of types and “pictures.” One such concept is salvation from sin through a substitutionary sacrifice.

Nowhere in the Bible has God ever told mankind that they would have to earn the right to forgiveness of their sins. Instead, in the Old Testament He instituted the substitutionary sacrifice. The sinner was required to take an unblemished animal to the altar. Then he had to place his hand upon its head to indicate that it was to be his substitute and would die in his place, to cover his sin (Leviticus 1:4, 4:29,33). This was a picture of the coming, promised Messiah who would sacrifice His life to pay the full penalty for the sins of those who indicate by faith, that He is their substitute sin bearer.

Scattered throughout the Old Testament, starting in Genesis, God gave His people a series of ongoing messianic prophecies. And in fulfillment of those prophecies, in the fullness of time the Lord Jesus Christ came down to earth to give Himself as the final, once-for-all substitutionary offering for sin. He selflessly and heroically took our place on the cross at Calvary and bore the shame, the disgrace and the punishment that we rightly deserve, because of our sins. As Eugene Peterson so aptly puts it in ‘The Message,’ “God put the wrong on him who never did anything wrong, so we could be put right with God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)

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

[John the baptist, who was God’s prophet] seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. (John 1:29, KJV)

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. (2 Corinthians 5:21, KJV)

Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree ….. (1 Peter 2:24, KJV)

BAPTISM PORTRAYS SUBSTITUTIONARY SACRIFICE

Besides being a public testimony of the believer’s faith in Christ, Christian baptism is also a symbolic rite that portrays Christ’s substitutionary sacrifice as it applies to the believer. For this reason it was the norm in the primitive church for believers to be baptized immediately after they had come to faith in Christ, and had been spiritually regenerated (Acts 2:41, 8:12, 16:15, 16:33, 18:18, 19:5.)

Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. (Romans 6:3-4, KJV)

Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses. (Colossians 2:12-13, KJV)

As a believer, in undergoing baptism by immersion I symbolically re-enact Christ’s death and resurrection. It’s my way of publicly acknowledging that Christ is my Saviour. To free me from the condemnation of my sin, He became my substitute and took the punishment due to me on Himself, on my behalf. So when He died, it was the same as if I had died — He represented me, so “in Him” I died too. As I go under the waters of baptism, it portrays my death “in Him” to the penalty of the Law, as well as to the sinful fleshly life. When He arose from the grave, He arose as my substitute: It was the same as if I had arisen. So as I rise up out of the water, it portrays my resurrection “in Christ,” to a new life, “in Him.” This is what is known as the exchanged life. Paul describes it as follows:

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. (Galations 2:20, KJV)

From the moment of his salvation (i.e. his regeneration or new birth), the life of the believer is intrinsically intertwined with that of His beloved Savior.

THE REASON FOR THE OLD AND THE NEW COVENANTS

Had they fully kept all God’s laws and ordinances provided under the Old Covenant, the Israelites would have led a lifestyle that fulfilled God’s requirements for righteousness. But the sad fact was that they were unable to do this. In spite of having God’s laws, as well as His guidance and protection, they still kept falling into sin. The continuous pall of smoke arising from the sacrificial altar where they burned their sin offerings bore mute testimony to this fact.

The problem was not with God’s laws, but with mankind. His laws are good, but we are a fallen people. And try as we may, we cannot live up to His standards of righteousness. Not for long, anyway. No matter how hard man has tried he has never ever been able to overcome his tendency to sin in thought, word and deed.

Reformation, education and social upliftment don’t do the trick either, because the problem is not our environment, lack of opportunities or education; it is our fallen “selves.” Pogo hit the nail on the head when he said, “We have met the enemy and he is us.” And as Dr. McGee so aptly put it, “You can take the man out of the slum, but you can’t take the slum out of the man.” It is a sad fact of life that countries enjoying a high standard of living, low unemployment, and excellent educational opportunities, still have overflowing prison cells.

The apostle Paul described his frustrations at one stage with his own personal battle to live a holy life, complaining that he kept doing the things he knew he shouldn’t do and really didn’t want himself to do. And that although in his mind he knew that God’s ways were good and right, he kept straying from them. (Romans 7:7-25).

The Bible makes it clear that because of our fallen natures we do not have it within ourselves to live according to God’s standards of righteousness. In order to bring mankind to the realization of the gravity of his situation and the dilemma he faces, God put into effect the Old Covenant of Law. And as we have seen, even although the Israelites were God’s chosen nation and enjoyed all the privileges and advantages that this entailed, they still failed miserably in their attempts to keep the His righteous laws fully.

That was because Laws and Ordinances didn’t have the power to save anyone. They merely declared the holiness of God and revealed the depravity of mankind. But then they were never intended to save. The epistle of Galations explains that God merely used the Old Covenant of Law as a teacher, to show fallen mankind his utter inability to live according to His standards of righteousness. This in turn revealed his desperate need for a Saviour:

Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law. But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. (Galations 3:21-25, KJV)

As Lehman Strauss says in his ‘Doctrine of Salvation,’ “The idea of attaining salvation through self-effort and good works is a fundamental characteristic of human nature. But try as hard as one will, he cannot remove the guilt and penalty of his own sins.”

For this reason, in His wisdom and mercy, God has provided a way of salvation through Christ, under the New Covenant of Grace, that was tailor-made for the fallenness of man and caters for every eventuality and possibility. Solely because of God’s undeserved mercy towards us, whosoever trusts in Christ will receive forgiveness of sins, freedom from guilt and reconciliation with God.

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, (Romans 8:1, KJV)

THE CONSEQUENCES OF MORMON SALVATION

In spite of the clear and consistent teachings in the Bible on the forgiveness of our sins through Christ’s atoning sacrifice, the LDS Church has deliberately led their membership away from the way of salvation that God Himself has laid down for us, and has decreed that Mormons must earn the right to their own salvation. They insist that this is far better than the way of grace that God Himself has provided. And in spite of the fact that God has proved conclusively that man couldn’t keep the Laws and Ordinances that they already had, the LDS has added more of their own.

Mormons need to ask themselves where their teaching came from, because it directly contradicts everything that God has taught us about salvation throughout the entire Bible. So it couldn’t have come from Him.

Just as the apostle Paul knew, Mormons also know deep down in their hearts that their lives don’t come up to God’s holy standards. But they placate themselves with the knowledge that going to the second degree of glory after they die won’t be so bad. After all, they have been taught that even the lowest degree of glory is more beautiful than anything they could ever imagine.

However, the LDS story of the three degrees of glory is not the way it’s going to be. They are the deceptions of a false prophet. God never ever gives His prophets revelations that contradict what He has already revealed to us. He is not a God of confusion. His Word is truth, and the main ingredient in truth is its consistency. It never ever changes. Nor is it contradictory. And God’s Word, the Bible very clearly teaches that there are only two final destinations after we die. We will either go to the place where Christ and God are, which is called heaven, or else we will be consigned to eternal separation from both the presence and the influence of God in a place called hell.

Heaven will consist only of folk who have elected to follow God’s ways, including His way of salvation from sin. Those in hell will be folk who would rather do things their own way. And God will allow them this right, eternally, but not in His kingdom of heaven. After all, if those who insisted on doing things their own way instead of God’s way were allowed into heaven, it would eventually become more like hell, wouldn’t it?

It’s not God’s desire that anyone should be end up in hell. But if we choose to spurn His way of salvation in preference to our own ideas, then we will we will end up facing His judgment.

Mormons need to give serious thought to the unlikelihood of their being able to earn the right to the forgiveness of their own sins, in the light of what the Bible reveals; as well as to the eternal ramifications of their choice; bearing in mind that the Bible clearly teaches only two destinations after death — heaven or hell.

The following articles explain the basics of the biblical way of salvation and the error in the LDS teaching on the three degrees of glory:

What is Biblical Salvation?

Biblical Salvation and the way of Christ

The Three Degrees of Glory

You are welcome to contact the writer at the following email address:

reply@bibtruth.com

Copyright 2008 by Mormonism and Biblical Truth. All rights reserved.

http://www.bibtruth.com/light.html

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20 TRUTHS ABOUT MORMONISM
@
http://trialsofascension.net/mormon.html

Because my uncle is a Mormon Bishop, I have visited hundreds of sites that he would call “ANTI-MORMON” to study Mormonism. I was buying books and video on Mormonism before I had a computer. But this site has to be one of the top 20 sites on Mormonism.

The site is owned my a former Mormon. Mormons will say he is just a disgruntled ex-member who has an axe to bear. But even though he was born to Mormon parents. He was NOT born disgruntled with Mormonism. Obviously it was his experience with Mormonism that disgruntled him.

BECAUSE IT WOULD BE BEST FOR YOU TO SEE THE WHOLE SITE. And it is way to big to do even a series of post on. He has a page for each 20 truths about Mormonism. At a later date I may consider posting each page one at a time in a very long series. But if you interested in good material on Mormonism, I highly recommend this site.

Below is the Index, Introduction page and The owners testimony page.

================================================================

Introduction
1. Book of Abraham
2. Kinderhook Plates
3. Plagiarism
4. Polygamy
5. Emotionality
6. Changing Doctrine
7. False Prophecies
8. Lying for the Lord
9. Treasure Hunt
10. Blood Atonement
11. Vain Ambitions
12. Defections
13. BOM Changes
14. BOM Population
15. Lamanite DNA
16. Critics Squelched
17. Black Prejudice
18. Nephi or Moroni?
19. Archeology
20. First Vision

Observations
My Story
Resources

================================================================

Introduction

“Man, once surrendering his reason, has no remaining guard against absurdities the most monstrous, and like a ship without a rudder, is the sport of every wind. With such persons, gullibility, which they call faith, takes the helm of reason, and the mind becomes a wreck.” – Thomas Jefferson

“Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:21

“Yes, say, what is truth? ‘Tis the brightest prize To which mortals or Gods can aspire; Go search in the depths where it glittering lies Or ascend in pursuit to the loftiest skies. ‘Tis an aim for the noblest desire.” – John Jacques (LDS convert in 1845)

“Men fear thought as they fear nothing else on earth, more than ruin, more even than death. Thought is subversive and revolutionary, destructive and terrible, thought is merciless to privilege, established institutions, and comfortable habit. Thought looks into the pit of hell and is not afraid. Thought is great and swift and free, the light of the world, and the chief glory of man” – Bertrand Russell

“Sit down before fact like a little child, and be prepared to give up every preconceived notion, follow humbly wherever and to whatever abyss Nature leads, or you shall learn nothing.” – T. H. Huxley

The desire for truth has been my only motivation in creating this website. I have compiled this information in a sincere effort to explore the validity of the claim that the LDS church is the “only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth, with which I, the Lord, am well pleased.” (D&C 1:30) In so doing, I’ve tried to be objective and fair by including both my concerns and what I consider to be the strongest responses to those concerns by church apologists.

Based on this information, it is my conclusion that the LDS church is not the “only true church”. Having grown up and devoutly believed in the church for many years, I’ve decided to no longer be a part of it. I believe the truths cited herein clearly show that the church has misled its members as to the character of its founding leaders, the veracity of its doctrines, and the divinity of its origin.

Are illusions sometimes beneficial? I think so. I have no problem with my young children believing in Santa Claus right now; the belief fills them with hope and excitement. At the same time, as they mature I expect them to realize the myth for what it is and set it aside accordingly. I view the Mormon myth in the same light; it provides hope and direction for some people. However, like any myth it can also be a source of misinformation which leads to unhappiness.

If you are truly happy and fulfilled as a Mormon, perhaps there is no reason for you to read further. However, if you find your spiritual growth has stagnated and want to learn more about the origins of the Mormon church and what that implies for your own journey, read on.

Jim Day, Ph.D.

http://trialsofascension.net/mormon.html
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My Story

I grew up in the LDS church and have ancestors that go back to the early days of Mormonism. One of them was even a bodyguard for Joseph Smith 🙂 I was born and raised in Utah, but have lived in Texas for the past decade.

I served a mission in New South Wales, Australia from 1985-1987. In 1989 I graduated from BYU, and went on to graduate school in Texas. I have two small children that mean the world to me.

For most of my life, I had a strong testimony that the LDS church was “true” based on various spiritual experiences. I served in positions of responsibility, including being a counselor in a bishopric for 5 years. I believe the church was good for me in some ways, given the focus on principles such as family, service, integrity, and healthy living.

However, a couple of years ago I took a step back. At that point I had passed all the Mormon milestones and it only remained for me to “endure to the end” to ensure my exaltation. But I felt like my spiritual progress had stagnated. I was no longer growing, there was a general spiritual malaise, and I was bored with the pace of the Mormon hamster wheel. I was unsatisfied with the black and white lenses through which I saw the world, compared to the beautiful colors that I now appreciate. I found myself looking at other church members who seemed content, and realized that I didn’t want to stay in that rut for the rest of my life. The church was no longer meeting my needs.

This gave me some breathing room. Some Mormons may conclude that my motivation was due to a desire for sin, or because I was offended by someone. None of those things is true. My only motivation has been the desire to know the truth.

I wrote the following poem, which conveys the confusion, growth, and ultimate enlightenment resulting from my journey:

As a Child
As a child, it seemed so simple;
Every step was clearly marked.
Priesthood, mission, sweetheart, temple;
Bright with hope I soon embarked.
But now I have become a man,
And doubt the promise of the plan.

For the path is growing steeper,
And a slip could mean my death.
Plunging upward, ever deeper,
I can barely catch my breath.
Oh, where within this untamed wild
Is the star that led me as a child?

As I crest the shadowed mountain,
I embrace the endless sky;
The expanse of heaven’s fountain
Now unfolds before my eye.
A thousand stars shine on the land,
The chart drafted by my own hand.

I made a deliberate decision to open my eyes. I felt that the sincere pursuit of truth was more important to me than anything else. So I began to question everything. Were my spiritual experiences merely self-created emotional experiences, because I wanted to believe? Or were they perhaps genuine experiences from God that I had misconstrued as evidence for the authenticity of the LDS church? Is there really a God? Is there life after death? Was Jesus more than just a great teacher? And what about all the “Anti-Mormon” rhetoric I had encountered in the past? I had always brushed it off as the product of people with a personal agenda for converting me to their idea of truth. I had found it fairly easy to dismiss the points people had raised to me in the past. But now I really wanted to know if there was any substance to those concerns. I wanted to know if the LDS church was in fact the “only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth, with which I, the Lord, am well pleased.” (D&C 1:30)

So I created this website. It covers what I consider to be pivotal questions regarding the church’s history, authority, and doctrine. I have tried to be objective in this process, and have collected information from all sources, both pro and con. I have given the Mormon church every opportunity to address these concerns. However, based on the strong evidence presented here, I ultimately decided to leave the church.

I have shared with my former church leaders that a “spiritual witness” is not sufficient to restore me to the church at this point. I have had many such witnesses in the past, and am no longer willing to trust them at the exclusion of my intellect. However, it’s not my intention to “throw the baby out with the bathwater.” Although I no longer “know” there is a God, I hope there is. I feel that I am following the pathway of truth, and am willing to go wherever it takes me. I can genuinely say that I am more integrated, more at peace, and happier in my life today than ever before.

Have you ever seen The Matrix? Like Neo, I have finally answered the phone and awakened to the real world. It’s not the utopia I thought it was, but at least my eyes are open. This is an exciting time. I feel like I’m growing again!

I hope that the information presented here is helpful to you in your own personal journey toward truth. If you have any questions or feedback, feel free to contact me.

http://trialsofascension.net/mormon/story.html

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 momron-magic

 

 

Mormonism and the Magic World View
Author: D. Michael Quinn
Signature Books, 1998
Reviewer: Eric Johnson

MrM.org

Introduction

The story of Joseph Smith, Jr., the founder of Mormonism, is absolutely incredible. Here was a young man living in the early part of the 19th century who came from a family that could not have been any more common than spring leaves on a tree. As the story goes, he claimed that he was approached by God the Father and Jesus, told that all the churches were false, and commissioned to lead the restoration of God’s kingdom upon the earth, which apparently had been lost for almost two millennia. Today millions of people claim that he is more important than anyone else on earth, save Jesus Christ alone, and that his teachings on God, church structure, and new revelation were divine.

Just what made this modern-day Moses tick? A number of books from both LDS and Christian authors have been written explaining their differing perspectives of the life of a man who lived only 38 years. Some of these books have caused quite a controversy. For example, Fawn Brodie was excommunicated when she wrote No Man Knows My History half a century ago. A historical biographer, Brodie did not mix her words as she described the sordid details of the life of the prophet. Hugh Nibley was so disgusted by Brodie’s work that he wrote a response entitled No Ma’am, That’s Not History. His response was quite a disappointment for many, even those within the LDS community.

But as far as books on the life of Smith are concerned, probably no volume has stirred more overall controversy than D. Michael Quinn’s 1987 first-edition book entitled Early Mormonism and the Magic World View [hereafter Early Mormonism]. (The only single volume that may have caused even more hand-wringing from LDS apologists is probably Brent Metcalfe’s book entitled New Approaches to the Book of Mormon. It caused such controversy that the reviewers at the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (FARMS) dedicated an entire volume of their series entitled Review of Books on the Book of Mormon to criticize it.)

Quinn is a former professor at LDS Church-owned Brigham Young University who was excommunicated in 1993 for apostasy based on his historical writings. Instead of trying to deny Joseph Smith’s penchant for occultic activities, Quinn—who says he “remains a DNA Mormon”—concluded that Smith’s background truly did involve divining rods, seer stones, a hat to shield his eyes in order to see hidden treasures, amulets, incantations, and rituals to summon spirits. Smith was a magician first class, Quinn believes, but he holds that Mormonism’s founder was also a man of God who used his magical tools to communicate with the Almighty God of this universe.

To say the book caused LDS leadership consternation is truly an understatement. The original volume, which used numerous “subjunctives, qualifiers, and qualified-qualifiers” such as “possibly,” “might,” and “apparently” due to the insistence of his editors who did not want Quinn to lose his church job, went out of print because “escalating publishing costs” made it so that they could not even reissue a paperback version for the 1987 hardcover price. Also, Quinn asked the publisher not to reprint the book until a revised version was ready. Thus, “by the 1990s otherwise-poor college students were paying $100 for a battered copy, while avid collectors shelled out $350 for a ‘mint-condition’ copy of (it)” (p. ix).

As he pointed out on pages ix-x, Quinn’s changes to the revised version were four-fold. One, he switched to endnotes rather than citing within the text, and he dropped a booming bibliography that he claims would have taken 80 pages to print. Second, he added new information. The third change was the addition of material extremely harsh towards his vocal critics—most of whom are LDS scholars—for the abuse he had taken in the previous 11 years. Finally, he wanted to take care of some errors and refine the text.

To read this book will require plenty of time and careful patience. Early Mormonism is not a book to be rushed through. After all, Quinn is famous for his copious endnotes. The book has 685 pages, and 257 of those pages—close to 40 percent of the book!—are endnotes. (A little more than half of the book is text.) You can’t ignore them, though, because he strategically places very important information there. It is also a good idea to consider his sources. Although he lists no bibliography, the endnotes contain the bibliographic information, and if I would guess, I would say that he utilized more than a thousand resources. Unless you look the individual endnote up, you will not know where the reference came from because he usually gives no hint within the text itself.

For this book you will need two bookmarks, and by the end of the book you will have certainly soiled the edges of the back pages, as you have to continually flip back and forth. (Most frustrating is when you put the book down to get a drink, preferably something caffeinated, and your tome falls from the couch to the ground, losing your place not once but twice. Just get used to it.) The 94 pictures and illustrations just before the endnotes are also helpful to reference.

Is Quinn’s book worthy to be read? This is what this limited review will try to determine from an evangelical Christian point of view.

Joseph Smith: Involved with the magic world around him

Quinn admits that what he writes in his book is not what readers might find in a brochure given out at an LDS temple open house. “Instead, they will discover that the LDS prophet certainly participated extensively in some pursuits of folk magic and apparently in others…. I have found that the ‘official version’ of early Mormon history is sometimes incomplete in its presentation and evaluation of evidence. Therefore, official LDS history is inaccurate in certain respects. …LDS apologists often do not inform their readers that pro-Mormon sources corroborate the statements made by anti-Mormons” (p. xxxviii).

According to Quinn, there is no denying any of the accusations “anti-Mormons” have made against Smith for decades. For instance, Quinn goes into a full description of how Smith and his brothers used divining rods—he acknowledges that they were occultic tools with contact with the spirit world—in their seeking buried treasure (pp. 33ff). Smith was also experienced with the seer stones that would give the owner special access to the buried treasures (pp. 41ff). Even Smith’s mother and father were avid seekers after Captain Kidd’s buried treasure, utilizing these seer stones. Quinn gives a good background to the three seer stones owned by Smith, especially the prophet’s favorite, the chocolate brown stone.

Many Mormon scholars criticize the linking of Smith to divining rods and seer stones and say the evidence is inconclusive. To these Quinn writes on page 47: “Mormons traditionally have rejected outright the nearly contemporary accounts from hostile non-Mormons in favor of LDS accounts written long after the event. For example, Mormons readily accept the accuracy of Joseph Smith’s sermons which were massively reconstructed more than a decade after he spoke. In one instance, the official History of the Church published a 128-word section of his sermon twelve years earlier. This was someone else’s expansion of five words in the original manuscript report of Smith’s sermon. Apologists extend the broadest possible latitude to sources they agree with, yet impose the most stringent demands on sources of information the apologists dislike. Both scholars and casual readers should give greater attention to the reports by Palmyra neighbors of statements and actions the neighbors witnessed.”

Tracing magic footprints from early Judaism into the Age of Reason and beyond, Quinn attempts to show that religious people have, for the most part, always been very involved in these other things. He shows how Christians before Smith’s day were very involved with such things as horoscopes and folk magic. “The majority of early Americans were “unchurched” and participated in folk religion,” he writes (p. 27). Only one of 10 white Americans during Colonial times were churched, Quinn points out, and “several generations of the Smith family were influenced by the magic world view before the 1800s” (p. 31).

The idea that Smith participated in occultic things because they were part of the American society at that time appears to be a very big point with Quinn. He writes, “…early anti-Mormon authors and modern LDS apologists shared the assumption that if Mormonism’s founding prophet engaged in ‘money-digging,’ then his religious claims could be discredited. However, the substantial evidence of their participation in treasure-seeking in no way discredits Joseph Smith or his family. This was even the view of some of their neighbors who had no interest in the family’s religious claims. Magic and treasure-seeking were an integral part of the Smith family’s religious quest” (p. 30).

Quinn is not happy with attempts by LDS Church revisionists to deny Smith’s foray into the occult and folk magic realm around him. While this is the apparent attitude church members have now, it wasn’t always like this, he says. The attitude change began in the 1880s, he says, when the last of those in the Mormon leadership who had been familiar with Smith and the occultic practices died. “Their successors had more in common with denominational Christianity than with the folk religion of many first-generation Mormons,” Quinn writes. “It is astonishing how some LDS apologists can misread (or misrepresent) all the above evidence for the magic use of seer stones and divining rods…” (p. 59). After noting that BYU biblical professor Stephen E. Robinson denied that these things had anything to do with magic but rather were influenced by the Bible, Quinn is very strong. “This is self-parody by an LDS polemicist,” he writes in part (p. 60).

The average Latter-day Saint does not want to dwell on his founder’s penchant for using magic stones, peeping into a hat to help him translate scripture, and frequent outings in search for buried treasure. “Modern Mormons are not simply better-educated than their ancestors,” Quinn writes on page 319. “They are differently educated…. Twentieth-century Mormons have adopted the scientific world view…For children from the age of five onward, standardized public education since the 1890s has left no room for the magic world view, except to dismiss it as ‘superstition.'” In addition, “by the last quarter of the twentieth century, the LDS church also became increasingly authoritarian and obsessed with conformity.” (Quinn should know since he was excommunicated in 1993 for his differences with the “only true church upon the face of the earth.”)

Quinn laments, “Modern Latter-day Saints give little, if any, place in their lives for the magic dimensions of folk religion, the esoteric, or the occult” (p. 320). He disagrees with these modern Mormons, “admir(ing) current Jews, Christians, and Mormons who privately adopt any magic practice that speaks to their inner bliss. Some call this a ‘new age’ religion, but I see it as a very old expression of religiosity” (p. 326).

The facts are that magic and the occult played a huge role in the very foundation of the LDS religion. Quinn works hard to show this to be true, as he factually supports his points. Consider the following:

  • Smith used his divining rod and stone for finding buried treasure as late as the fall of 1825 (p. 54). Saying that Smith’s family and friends were also involved in such escapades, Quinn wrote on page 240: “Joseph Smith (founding prophet and president of the new church) had unquestionably participated in treasure-seeking and stone divination. Evidence indicates that he also used divining rods, a talisman, and implements of ritual magic.” In addition, “two-thirds of Mormonism’s first apostles had some affinity for folk magic” (p. 240).
  • Smith would place his seer stone into a hat and bury his face into the hat “so as to exclude the light, he could see as a clairvoyant” (p. 55). This was supported by such witnesses as Martin Harris and Smith’s wife Emma (pp. 169-173). The fact that the same brown stone Smith used to look for buried treasure was used to “translate” the Book of Mormon is not emphasized by Smith’s followers (p. 172). Yet when Mormonism’s original leadership died off in the 1880s, “LDS authorities typically regarded seer stones as unusual relics of an ever-receding sacred past” (p. 253).
  • Smith was arrested in the mid-1820s “as a disorderly person” because “he was about the country in the character of a glass-looker: pretending to discover lost goods, hidden treasures, mines of gold and silver, etc” (p. 56). Pointing out Christian Wesley Walter’s discovery of the 1826 court record showing how Smith was tried in court for being a “Glass looker,” Quinn says many Mormons vehemently denied this fact because they felt this would show Smith to be a fraud. In fact, LDS researcher Francis W. Kirkham stated that “if such a court record confession could be identified and proved, then it follows that his believers must deny his claimed divine guidance which led them to follow him,” thereby making him “a superstitious fraud” (pp. 56, 57). He adds, “LDS apologist Hugh Nibley also wrote that if genuine, the court record ‘is the most devastating blow to Smith ever delivered.'” However, Quinn, says, this was “a self-defeating line-in-the-sand…to draw, and LDS apologists now accept the transcripts of this 1826 testimony to be valid” (p. 57).
  • While Quinn doesn’t believe that money was Smith’s main motivation for digging for buried treasure, it was certainly a big reason why he did it (p. 65).
  • Smith’s mother Lucy Mack Smith “did not deny that her family participated in occult activities. She simply affirmed that these did not prevent family members from accomplishing other, equally important work” (p. 68). Quinn also pointed out that Smith and his family never denied the allegations of occultism and magic when early antagonists such as Eber D. Howe (Mormonism Unvailed, 1834) produced testimony affirming this truth (p. 323).
  • Drawing magic circles, “which has been central to the ritual magic of incantation, necromancy, and treasure-hunting,” was done by Smith and observed by his neighbors (p. 70; 101). Since Smith owned implements such as a dagger for drawing the circles and seer stones, “it is irrational to claim that the Smiths did not actually use those objects they possessed, which were so important to their acknowledged interest in buried treasure” (p. 322).
  • “Both friendly and unfriendly sources show that astrology was important to members of the Smith family” (p. 72). They believed that the success in their pursuits of buried treasure “depended in a great measure on the state of the moon” (p. 74). In fact, Smith’s mother and father as well as Smith himself and Emma were married on days that coincided with favorable days related to the new moon. Smith founded his church on a Tuesday (April 6, 1830) rather than a Sunday to coincide with the full moon (p. 291). In addition, the children Smith fathered both by his wife Emma and other polygamous wives were, for the most part, conceived in either February or September when his “ruling planet (of Jupiter) governed generation.” Mormon scholars, he notes, don’t like any correlation between astrology and Smith, but “where LDS apologists claim to see only coincidences, I see logical consequences of astrological belief” (pp. 76-79).
  • Quinn wrote: “Throughout his ministry, Joseph Smith affirmed the reality of witchcraft and sorcery. While the 1830 Book of Mormon contained ancient condemnations (Alma 1:32, 3 Ne. 21:16, 24:5, Mormon 1:19, 2:10), his revelations in 1831 and 1832 reaffirmed the reality of sorcerers (D&C 63:17, 76:103)” (p. 291).
  • As far as Smith’s knowledge of occult works and other materials that he could have borrowed from, Quinn says LDS apologists who deny Smith’s access to books are contrary to the evidence. “Newspaper advertisements and library holdings prove access, even if they don’t prove possession or page-turning,” he said (p. 145). “Textual parallels involved books published as recently as the late 1700s and early 1800s. Some of these clearly were available to the Smiths” (p. 322).
  • Palmyra’s bookstores were filled with “sophisticated publications” and rare books that Smith could have accessed (p. 180). “During the 1820s bookstores near Joseph Smith’s home were selling thousands of hardback books for 44 cents to a dollar each” (p. 182). Despite his mother’s insistence that Smith did not read, “he later quoted from, referred to, and owned numerous books which were advertised in his neighborhood as a young man” (p. 192). As far as his familiarity with books on the occult, “the Mormon prophet’s knowledge of such literature is not a myth. The myth is LDS emphasis on Joseph Smith as an ill-read farmboy” (p. 218). Quinn adds, “Of the books Joseph Smith donated shortly before his death, 75 percent of the pre-1830 titles can be verified as either directly available in the Palmyra area or as being promoted there.” A number of these books were out of print for more than a century (p. 189).
  • The idea that the name of Nephi replaced Moroni in the 1842 Smith-published Times and Seasons was not a clerical error, Quinn believes. “Because the names sound nothing alike, clerical error is unlikely in the manuscript recording of Smith’s dictation. The use of Nephi in the manuscript history about the coming forth of the Book of Mormon seems instead to be the prophet’s intentional substitution of another name for Moroni” (p. 199). Nephi’s name is connected with occultism, Quinn points out.
  • A revelation given in D&C 129 in 1843 regarding the determination if someone was a worldly messenger from God or Satan was related to occultism. Smith said a person who wanted to ascertain the difference should try to shake hands with the messenger. Feeling air would mean this was a representative of the devil. The occultic world used a similar test. According to the 1856 Transcendental Magic, which said in part: “What is commonly called Necromancy has nothing in common with resurrection…The proof of this is that spirits, at least the specters pretended to be such, may indeed touch us occasionally, but we cannot touch them…we cannot unmoved feel the hand pass through that which seems a body and yet make contact with nothing” (p. 226).
  • The very idea of three degrees of glory (multiple heavens) is “compatible with occult views. Even ‘degrees of glory’ was an occult phrase connected with the ancient mystical beliefs of Judaism.” Quinn rightly points out that, despite FARMS’ insistence that the idea of the Mormon three-tiered heaven comes from the Bible, “the phrase ‘degrees of glory’ is nowhere in those biblical verses.” The idea occurs with certain English occultists (p. 216). Showing that FARMS was wrong regarding the existence of pseudepigraphic texts mentioning multiple heavens, Quinn declares, “Despite the rhetoric of LDS apologists and polemicists, ‘meaningful content’ occurs within a context and Joseph Smith’s environment included books, practices, and oral traditions of the occult” (p. 217).
  • Although many have presupposed that Mormonism’s temple ceremony has Masonic roots, Quinn disagrees. “I believe that the underlying philosophy and purpose of the two were fundamentally different. Mormon revelation, in fact, proclaimed that the LDS endowment directly restored what Masonry acknowledged it had only some connection with—the occult mysteries of the ancient world” (p. 227). He gave several different examples to support his point, including this: “Freemasonry’s minor emphasis on the heavenly outcome of its rituals was a chasm between Freemasonry and the Mormon endowment. A concept of heavenly ascent was completely absent in many pro-Masonic writings before the 1840s. However, such an ascent was central to the occult mysteries of the ancient world” (p. 229).
    Other fundamental similarities between the ancient mysteries and the Mormon endowment are: “1) Revealed by God from Beginning, but Distorted through Apostasy…. 2) Worthiness of Initiates…3) Washings and Anointings, New Name, Garment…4) Vows of Non-disclosure…5) The Lesser and Greater Rituals…6) Presentation through Drama…7) Oath of Chastity…8) Sun and Moon…9) Mortals “Exalted” to Godhood…10) Prophets, Priests, and Kings…11) Gods” (pp. 230-234).
  • Mormons are taught that the LDS garment is a physical and spiritual protection, sort of like a spiritual amulet or good luck charm. Quinn notes the irony of how some modern Mormons tend to shy away from this view, although a great number of Latter-day Saints still cling to the idea that bad luck will more likely come when they fail to wear the garments. Quinn also show how Canadian researchers discovered that “Mormons use luck-charms and amulets in sports competition more than non-Mormons.” In fact, the athletes used such practices as “double-knotting one’s shoelaces, wearing socks inside out, wearing ‘lucky’ item of clothing, or wearing a lucky charm” (pp. 276-277).

I’m not quite sure what to make of Quinn’s constant point that Smith’s occultic views were not very different from his day. If people are not following God, it is unclear to me why Quinn would attempt to make folk magic appear innocent and even OK. His argument that many Christians of the 18th and 19th centuries believed like Smith is meaningless because Christianity is not a religion about the people who follow Jesus. Rather it is about following the commands and examples given by God through the Bible. Just as we should not imitate the sins of fellow believers (if they are even believers at all), so too should we not legitimize sin just because the culture around us believes a certain way. I think Quinn goes way too far to show how occultism’s roots could exist within true Christianity, which he believes to be Mormonism.

Warning his young charge Timothy of false doctrine, Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 1:4, 6: “Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith…From which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling.” Second Timothy 3:2-5 explains what it would be like in the last days: “For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers…traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof; from such turn away.”

The Bible is very clear that Christians should be wary of the culture around them. Jesus declared that “broad is the way that leadeth to destruction” while true believers who are few in number should “enter in at the strait gate.” The idea that many people (including supposed professing Christians) from the earliest half of the United States’ history were involved in magic does not give an open license for Christians to follow this example. As the proverbial saying given to us by our parents goes, “If your friends all jumped off a bridge, would you follow?” Of course not. Again it is puzzling why Quinn spends so much time, effort, and ink showing how “Smith learned from village mentors how to use a divining rod; a seer stone; a hat to shield his eyes in order to see hidden treasures; and amulets, incantations, and rituals to summon spirits.” (back cover).

I agree with Quinn when he says “how different from current norms early American religious practices could be.” I just disagree with the idea that these are the types of things God wanted his people to follow when his revelation to us, the Bible, does not encourage such practices.

Does the Bible teach in a magical worldview?

Quinn spends much of the first chapter attempting to disprove the Anchor Bible’s assertion that the Bible “prohibits the practice of magic or presents it negatively in a number of places.” Quinn believes the Mormon founder was not very different from the biblical prophets who preceded him. His premise is that Smith should be deemed a prophet of God if it is true that the Bible is loaded with magical imagery. After all, if biblical prophets were allowed to explore this world while having solid relationships with God, why couldn’t Smith?

Quinn gives examples in the first few pages of his first chapter to show how the Bible encouraged the use of magic, including:

  • “…Jewish tradition also held that King Solomon’s ‘wisdom included his vast knowledge of magic and medicine'”
  • The Old Testament has “neutral or positive references to a wide range of magical and divinatory practices”
  • “Jewish and Christian lore contains many references to occult incantations, to amulets, charms, spells, exorcisms, all related to speculative angelologies and demonologies”
  • The magical power of God’s name (YHWH)
  • “The patriarch Joseph had a special silver cup in Egypt with which ‘he divineth'”
  • The casting of lots that took place in both the Old and New Testaments
  • Moses’ brass serpent that saved the lives of anyone bitten by snakes just because they looked at it
  • A corpse that came to life upon touching Elisha
  • The healing of people who touched the handkerchiefs of Paul
  • Speaking in tongues

Most amazing is that Quinn does more than hint that Smith’s magic was little different from that practiced by Jesus. He writes on page 4, “In many of the miracles of Jesus, the techniques paralleled closely the magic practices of the ancient world…Like Jesus, pagan magicians used spittle to heal the blind, put their fingers in the ears to heal the deaf, employed the same series of separate acts involved in some of the more detailed Gospel healings, and used foreign words as part of magic spells and incantations.”

He adds on page 5, “Some scholars of the New Testament and ancient history have acknowledged that Jesus performed acts which were closely paralleled by magic practices among the pagans. These Christian scholars have insisted that these ceremonies in the Gospels were not magic, no matter how closely they mirrored contemporary magic practices, because it was Jesus who performed them. That seems an assertion of faith rather than a conclusion based on existing documents.”

The Bible’s View of Occultic Magic

While this review is limited, I would like to show why I disagree with Quinn’s premise that the Bible supports Joseph Smith’s foray into the magical world. The Bible very expressly forbade the Jewish people to be involved with such practices as magic, sorcery, and divination. Consider, for instance, Deuteronomy 18:10-11. Among other things, it said no one should be found among God’s people who practiced these things:

  • Divination. This practice involved extracting information or guidance for a god. Examples include Balaam, the soothsayer, who was hired to curse Israel (Num. 22:7; 23:23; Josh. 13:22) and the witch at En Dor (1 Sam. 28). The Bible says we are not to be involved with such practices (2 Kings 9:22; 17:17; 23:24: Isa. 2:6; 8:19; 44:25; 47:9, 12; Jer. 27:9; 29:8; Ezek. 13:9; Micah 5:12; Gal. 5:20). According to the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [hereafter ISBE] under “Magic”: “Though in many lists in Daniel the various types of Babylonian diviners and sorcerers are mentioned without express disapproval, the entire context makes it clear that such arts are no match for one who depends upon God for wisdom (Dan. 2:27; cf. 2:10)” (p. 215). I’ll talk a little more on this in the section below on lots.
  • Spiritism. According to page 789 in Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary (Nelson, 1995): “The root of the word in Hebrew is the verb ‘to know.’ In modern English ‘wizard’ means someone very wise or inventive, a very clever or skillful person. But in the Bible it is always a forbidden thing, a kind of black magic.”
  • Necromancy, or calling up the dead. Again, according to Nelson’s Dictionary: “The Hebrew word translated as ‘magic’ appears only in connection with Egyptian and Babylonian magicians.” The first cluster refers to Joseph in Egypt; the second is connected with the plagues in Egypt; and the third deals with Daniel and the government-sponsored magicians of Babylonia. It should be pointed out that the term is never used in connection with the nation of Israel. As far as the Greek New Testament is concerned, the only time it is used is negatively. Simon the sorcerer (Acts 8:9-25) and Elymas the sorcerer (Acts 13:6-8) are examples. Another word for magic is related to the English word “pharmacy” and it had to do with drugs. Says the Nelson’s Dictionary: “The denunciations in Revelation 9:21; 18:23; 21:8; and 22:15 apply to those who use drugs to bring on trances during which they claim to have supernatural knowledge or power” (p. 790).

Consider the sources for occultic magic. According to ISBE, “Various magical traditions from the East moved into the West and became, often because of a nostalgia for the ancient and mysterious, part of a growing body of international magical lore. From Assyria and Babylonia came an interest in astrology. From Egypt came an emphasis on the power inherent in the spoken or written word, especially the secret name” (p. 218).

It is true that later rabbinic literature is not unified when it comes to magic. In fact, “while the rabbinic sages were well acquainted with the prohibitions against the various forms of divination and sorcery in the Torah, they were also well acquainted with magical practices. Some even practiced the art themselves” (ISBE, p. 216). Among other reasons, “it appears that they were able to harmonize the biblical prohibitions with the practice of some forms of magic by redefining both” (ibid).

According to ISBE, Jesus was charged several times for practicing magic through His miracles such as healings and exorcisms. “Matt. 10:25 suggests that Jesus’ opponents may have actually nicknamed Him ‘Beelzebul.’ This charge and all that is implies are refuted…(Mk. 3:23-30). In the Fourth Gospel Jesus is three times accused of having a demon, which is an abbreviated way of charging Him with being a fake prophet and a charlatan whose powers to perform miracles come from Satan. Similarly, the accusation that Jesus was an impostor or deceiver must be understood in relation to the charge that He practiced magic, for false prophets and magicians were subject to the death penalty according to the Deuteronomic code (Dt. 13:5; 18:20). Jesus’ Jewish opponents may have used these ancient laws to justify His execution” (ISBE, p. 219).

If Jesus wanted to, He certainly could have credited His powers with magic. However, His work was in accordance to His nature since He is literally God in the flesh. While Quinn would not hold that Jesus is both 100 percent God and 100 percent man, the second member of the Trinity, the Evangelical Christian acknowledges His nature and understands that those things that He did were miraculous, not magical in any way.

While Quinn makes the Jewish mystics seem almost normal for the biblical record, he fails to realize that the New Testament (written after the time when Jewish mysticism had its heyday) condemns the magical worldview. Luke was quite familiar with the technical terminology of magic as evidenced in Acts 8:9-24; 13:4-12; and 19:11-20. “All of these passages describe contests between Christians with miraculous powers and magicians whose powers are derived from incantations and the control of malevolent supernatural forces. The author of Acts carefully demonstrates the superiority of Christianity in each of these encounters” (ISBE, p. 219).

What about Quinn’s list of ways the Bible supports magic? While this was a partial list, let’s consider his points in a short manner and show how these examples do not condone the magical worldview.

  • “…Jewish tradition also held that King Solomon’s ‘wisdom included his vast knowledge of magic and medicine'”
    We are given so very little information about this that it makes it very hard to respond. But we should point out several things: 1) While Solomon was known as the wisest man in the world, he made some very foolish decisions. In fact, it was soon after his reign in the monarchy that the kingdom split into two. 2) Solomon did some very foolish things, including having almost a thousand women as wives and concubines. Should his polygamous ways make him a man to be followed in practice? 3) The Bible doesn’t fully explain what Quinn calls Solomon’s “knowledge of magic and medicine.”
  • The Old Testament has “neutral or positive references to a wide range of magical and divinatory practices”
    While we would agree that the Old Testament is “neutral” in some cases (the types of divination that could be credited to God, such as the dreams had by Joseph and Daniel or lots in the right circumstances), one would be hard pressed to state that occultic divination was fine. Again, based on numerous verses as listed above, the Bible condemns the occultic worldview.
  • “Jewish and Christian lore contains many references to occult incantations, to amulets, charms, spells, exorcisms, all related to speculative angelologies and demonologies”
    Christians follow the Bible, not lore. They acknowledge the existence of Jewish mystics, which appear to have been very popular between the 2nd century B.C. and 1st century A.D. Yet traditions don’t mean much to the evangelical Christian since he or she is a follower of the Book, or written word of God.
  • The magical power of God’s name (YHWH)
    There is nothing magical about the tetragammaton. Rather, it is the holiest name of God. In modern Bibles the translated word LORD is given in all caps to express the holiness of this name. In ancient times YHWH was not even pronounced. In fact, this name is considered to be so sacred among Jews today that the Jewish scroll writers continue to go through a purification rite every time they write out the tetragammaton. There is no magic in this name.
  • “The patriarch Joseph had a special silver cup in Egypt with which ‘he divineth'”
    Because Genesis 44:5 mentions Joseph’s “divining” cup, Quinn makes it appear that Joseph practiced hydromancy, a form of ancient Near Eastern divination that predicted the future. However, while this cup was said to have belonged to Joseph, could it not have been part of the ruse of entrapping his brothers? This may not help detail Joseph’s spiritual practices, as its use was certainly to frame the severity of Benjamin’s supposed crime. It is an argument from silence to say that Joseph actually practiced a pagan divining rite.
  • While we do know that he received revelation from dreams given to him by God—a form of divination known as oneiromancy—we cannot ascertain if hydromancy was a common practice of Joseph. According to ISBE (“Divination,” 1:972), “…the ancient Mesopotamians, Egyptians, Arabians, Greeks, and Romans sought to understand the future primarily through the practice of various techniques of divination monopolized by skilled adepts. In contrast, the central way in which the will of Yahweh was made accessible in ancient Israel and in early Christianity was through the medium of inspired prophetic spokesmen.”
  • The casting of lots that took place in both the Old and New Testaments
    Proverbs 16:33 says that “the lot is cast into the lap, but the decision is wholly from the Lord.” According to ISBE (“Lots,” 3:173): “The use of lots in making decisions, therefore, was regarded as a means of allowing God to make the choice. Lots, though a form of divination, were never a forbidden practice in ancient Israel as were the other forms of divination.” The Urim and Thummim, which was kept in a pocket of the high priest but apparently not used by the time of David, were also tools to get yes-and-no answers from God.
  • In the book of Acts, the disciples decided to nominate another man to fill the twelfth spot. According to Richard Longnecker in the ninth volume of The Expositor’s Bible Commentary (Zondervan, 1981), “The ‘remnant theology’ of Late Judaism made it mandatory that any group that presented itself as ‘the righteous remnant’ of the nation, and had the responsibility of calling the nation to repentance and permeating it for God’s glory, must represent itself as the true Israel, not only in its proclamation, but also in its symbolism” (p. 265). The disciples did not want there to be any question that the successor was not qualified to become an apostle of Jesus.
  • The two qualifications were that the candidate had to have been with Christ since the time Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist and that he was a witness to Christ’s resurrection. Two men were qualified to fill this position: Joseph Barsabbas and Matthias. The disciples prayed to Jesus before “casting lots” and determining Matthias was the right one (Acts 1:26).
  • What are Christians to make of lots? Does this mean that they should flip a coin when making a decision? Not at all.
  • It should be emphasized that the disciples prayed and used wisdom before seeking God through the lots. (Old Testament passages involving lots include finding a guilty individual; selecting someone for a particular task; dividing the land of Israel; and selecting the scapegoat for the Day of Atonement.) God has spoken in different ways to His people throughout the ages. He walked alongside Abraham. He talked to Moses. And as these passages point out, He made Himself available to His people through lots.
  • Curiously this practice is never again mentioned after Acts 1:26. It was not a normal part of communication from the early church on. This is true because the Holy Spirit was fully given at Pentecost in Acts 2. According to Jesus in John 14:16, the Spirit was not only to be the Spirit of Truth but also the Counselor available to all Christians. “The Spirit was also the Spirit of prophecy, whose departure from Israel had left them with only dice as a means through which God might communicate his will. But now in the wake of the coming of Jesus the Spirit is back, not resting only on a few prophets, but on the whole people of God” (Hard Sayings of the Bible, IVP, 1996, p. 513).
  • Joseph Smith’s practices were no way biblical. And why would Smith not rely on the Holy Spirit for counsel and direction rather than magical practices if He was truly directed by God?
  • Moses’ brass serpent that saved the lives of anyone bitten by snakes just because they looked at it
    According to Numbers 21:8, God told Moses to put a snake on a pole so that anyone who was bitten from the snake-infested camp could look at it for healing. Jesus mentioned this incident as a precursor to Himself, saying in John 3:14-15 that He would have to be lifted up just like that snake so that everyone believing on Him would receive eternal life. (Also see John 12:31-32.) According to the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible, “The bronze serpent is thus a symbol and type of Christ. Israel needs to learn that the Lord is sovereign. He uses the serpent to punish; he also uses it to heal in conjunction with obedience and faith” (p. 99). Just as the sick Israelite could look up to the snake for healing, so too sinners with no hope of healing can look to Jesus. As far as magic is concerned, there is no correlation whatsoever.
  • A corpse that came to life upon touching Elisha
    How do we explain Elijah’s going up to heaven in a chariot? How do we explain the taking of the sacrifice at Mt. Carmel? And how do we explain this event? Magic? No. Rather, we would say that God continued to use Elisha even after he was dead in this miraculous one-time event. (It had to have been “one-time” because they certainly would have tried to repeat the miracle with other bodies, but we hear no more about this.) Could Elisha’s departure from this world be any more dramatic than his predecessor Elijah?
  • The healing of people who touched the handkerchiefs of Paul and the speaking in tongues
    We see several ways how people were possibly healed in the New Testament, including Peter’s shadow (5:15), the edge of Jesus’ cloak (Matt. 9:20), and Paul’s handkerchiefs (Acts 19:12). These items did not have magical qualities, but rather the smallest article or shadow was a representation of having contact with one of God’s men. Writes Richard Longnecker in his commentary on Acts, “The virtue, of course, lay not in the materials themselves but in the power of God and the faith of the recipients” (Expositor’s Bible Commentary, p. 496).
  • To equate the above as well as speaking in tongues to magic is not a very strong parallel. Christians believe that God certainly heals. The above passages do not say the recipients had faith in the garments or the shadow of an apostle. Rather, as Jesus so clearly stated, a person with the faith (in God) as small of a mustard seed could move mountains. While God can use whatever He wills to accomplish His purpose, it is important to point out that only a faith in God can result in the miraculous.
  • In conclusion to this section, it is understood why Quinn has to presuppose that the Bible condones and even encourages the kind of view Joseph Smith had about magic. However, the evidence from the Bible does not support this view.

Returning the fire back to LDS “Scholarship”

There is no doubt that Quinn has a vendetta in re-releasing his book. His LDS critics were merciless in attempting to destroy Quinn’s credibility and hence his career. His honesty was not appreciated by either the leadership or those who are paid in Provo to defend the church from scholarly critics. Now that Quinn is no longer on the membership roles, he took off the proverbial gloves. He abandoned the use of the “could haves” and “might have beens” and instead became quite definitive in his writing. In addition, it is obvious that Quinn wrote as he pleased because LDS leaders no longer hold any authority over him. After all, what can the Mormon prophet do to a man who is already excommunicated?

With pit bull tenacity, Quinn continually went after the writers from FARMS, an organization that was unofficially connected to LDS-owned BYU and officially connected to the university in 1997. Even FARMS apologist Daniel Peterson wondered if this move would allow him and other writers to keep their nasty edge. Perhaps it is for this reason that Peterson, who has boasted that some of his fellow writers were born “with the nastiness gene,” is Quinn’s biggest target.

Why are the writers for FARMS so abusive in their writings? According to Peterson in the eighth volume of FARMS Review of Books, “We did not pick this fight with the Church’s critics, but we will not withdraw from it.” Peterson has also said,” If we have occasionally been guilty of levity at the expense of some of our critics, this has been because they tempted us with irresistible targets. It isn’t our fault…. A few of us, indeed, may have been born that way, with the nastiness gene—which is triggered by arrant humbuggery” (p. 329).

Quinn does not take kindly to the meanness of FARMS. He writes, “I have allowed my polemical critics to have their decade, not just their day….I believe this eleventh-anniversary edition responds to these LDS polemicists with greater honesty and civility than they have given me” (p. xi).

Quinn defines the difference in his mind between polemics and apologetics. According to him, a person who practices polemics engages in “an extreme version of apologetics. Defending a point of view becomes less important than attacking one’s opponents. Aside from their verbal viciousness, polemicists often resort to any method to promote their argument…. Moving beyond apologist persuasion, LDS polemicists furiously (and often fraudulently) attack any non-traditional view of Mormonism. They don’t mince words—they mince truth” (p. x). We should note that, traditionally, polemics does not have as negative a connotation as Quinn makes it out to be. Rather, the noun just means the “art or practice of disputation or controversy, especially in theology.”

Apologists, on the other hand, “take special efforts to defend their cherished point of view…It is not an insult to call someone an ‘apologist’ (which I often do)…” (p. x). This statement was obviously meant for FARMS writers who, for whatever reason, have taken offense to being called “apologists.” I’ll never forget Daniel Peterson’s attack on Bill McKeever in the Review of Books on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 5, 1993. In a review on John Ankerberg and John Weldon’s book entitled About Mormonism, Peterson took several pages to divert and tackle an unpublished paper that my colleague and I had written on the “land of Jerusalem.” Listen to the shot Peterson fired at us in footnote number 170, page 77: “McKeever also has the irritating habit, prevalent among many anti-Mormons, of describing those authors with whom he agrees by their academic titles and positions, while referring to those authors with whom he disagrees as ‘LDS apologists.'”

Why was Peterson so insulted at being called an apologist, which really is a simple word meaning a person who practices apologetics (which is the defense of one’s faith)? While many falsely assume it refers to a person who has to apologize, it has no such meaning. Truly this is not a derogatory word, and we at Mormonism Research Ministry have never used it to belittle someone’s credentials. Like Quinn, we who write for MRM welcome the title of apologist.

To show his disdain for those who dislike being called “apologists,” Quinn writes: “‘Polemicist’ is a dishonorable vocation, and I use the term only where I believe it applies.” When referring to FARMS, the word apologist takes a great big back seat in Quinn’s vocabulary, for the most part. Instead, polemicist is the word of choice about 60-70 percent of the time. His disagreement comes because, for FARMS’ writers, “defending Joseph Smith from any association with magic is the primary motivation for their definitional nihilism…. However, the fundamental problem with this tactic of LDS apologists is that denying the legitimacy of the word ‘magic’ or ‘occult sciences’ also denies the self-definition of people before and during Joseph Smith’s time” (p. xxviii).

In Quinn’s own words

  • There is no other way to explain how hard Quinn went after these men than to just list a few of the well more than a hundred pokes he made against LDS writers, especially those aligning themselves with FARMS. Hopefully this gives the person reading this review a flavor of Quinn’s rebuttal to his critics:
  • Referring to Stephen E. Robinson’s denial of Quinn’s assertion that Smith was connected to the occult, Quinn wrote, “I have no respect for the statement of one reviewer who claimed he had read this chapter (6, “Mormon Scriptures, Magic World View, Rural New York”) carefully….This is simply polemical defensiveness: he refuses to acknowledge the existence of evidence he is afraid others will accept” (p. 234).
  • Again referring to Robinson’s critique, Quinn gave a slight compliment before offering additional unkind words about the BYU professor. “This was the only evidence that he might be a sincere apologist struggling for a perspective he could regard as faithful. If that had been his approach throughout the review, I could regard him with compassion. However, throughout the rest of his review, Robinson showed himself as a mean-spirited polemicist eager to use any insult, distortion, mislabeling, deletion, false analogy, semantic trick, and logical fallacy to defend officially approved LDS history. Within that context the quoted paragraph appears as simply a vulnerable-sounding weapon from the arsenal of an unrelenting polemicist” (p. 403).
  • Quinn uses no less than three full pages of his endnotes (pp. 407-410) to ridicule a parallel Robinson made to make light of a point Quinn made in the first edition of his book. Quinn concluded his diatribe with this slam: “False analogy should have no role in any discourse, particularly by a professor of the New Testament.”
  • Referring to Smith’s promise of blessing to a Kirtland Mormon in 1835 who was attempting to find buried treasure, “LDS apologists like Richard L. Anderson dismiss such promises as ‘poetic elements’ or ‘spiritual metaphor.’ This is an example of ‘present-mindedness’ or the ‘presentist bias’ which ignores the historical context and meaning of experiences in the past, and instead superimposes the perspective of the present” (p. 260).
  • Criticizing FARMS writers for doing a “computer search” that he felt was incomplete and truly dishonest, Quinn lashed out, “(William J.) Hamblin, (Daniel C.) Peterson, and (George L.) Mitton presented only those findings which supported their effort to disassociate magic practices and beliefs from Joseph Smith and early LDS publications. If their key-word search did not actually include ‘amulet,’ ‘charm,’ and ‘talisman’ at some point, this oversight occurred because these FARMS authors did not want to find those terms in early LDS publications. If those terms were included, these FARMS authors deceived their readers…. These FARMS authors also claimed there was allegedly no evidence that Joseph Smith even knew about talismans or magic parchments, and allegedly no evidence that Mormonism’s founding prophet would ever look favorably on such occult artifacts. It would not be helpful for the FARMS agenda to alert readers to the founding prophet’s use of this amulet-talisman-parchment reference in Times and Seasons” (p. 271).
  • Criticizing William J. Hamblin, Quinn writes with a humorous edge on page 351: “Hamblin and I obviously see faith and its defense in very different ways, both as historians and as believers. According to his published comments about me, Hamblin thinks that my commitment to historical analysis has subverted my LDS faith. Having read many of his writings, I think Hamblin’s commitment as a ‘defender’ has subverted his historical training. Polemicism has also warped Hamblin’s judgment of what is religious. In his polemical review of Metcalfe’s book, Hamblin constructed his essay to be published with a repetitive left-margin acrostic (‘Metcalfe is butthead’). The FARMS editor discovered this while the article was in press and required Hamblin to change the acrostics, some of which he still left in recognizable form. As ‘a defender of the Kingdom of God,’ Hamblin tried to deceive a religious journal into publishing the kind of graffiti that teenagers scrawl on the walls of public restrooms…. This is another example of how polemics warps the judgment of its LDS practitioners” (p. 352).
  • Referred to FARMS Louis Midgley as “a polemicist without scruples, willing to say anything to attack whomever he regards as an opponent” (p. 401).
  • Referring to the idea of chiasmus being found in the Book of Mormon, Quinn stated, “As I told (FARMS) John W. Welch in a 1995 letter, I have always admired and praised his discovery of the ancient poetic technique of chiasmus in the Book of Mormon. However, I believe that he has done a disservice to all Mormon believers by his decades of misrepresenting America’s pre-1830 knowledge of this biblical parallelism. As stated in my text discussion, Hugh Nibley’s misstatements in 1975 occurred because of his lack of access to information that was not yet published or not easily available to him. This was not the case with John W. Welch, whose publication for the LDS audience since 1969, in my opinion, have manifested an escalating, intentional concealments of pre-1830 American publications about chiasmus” (p. 504).
  • Showing that FARMS writers too often shoot off their guns without properly aiming, Quinn writes, “However, (FARMS) John Gee…ridiculed a non-LDS Egyptologist for writing that Michael Chandler sold Egyptian artifacts ‘to members of the Church of Latter-day Saints’ in 1835. Gee insisted: ‘The name of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is [thus] given inaccurately.’ That demonstrates Gee’s ignorance of the fact that ‘Church of Latter Day Saints’ was its official name from 1834-1838” (pp. 531-532).

Conclusion

In the first part of this review, I asked, “Is Quinn’s book worthy to be read?” My answer is quite simple. Yes it is. Every interested Mormon and Christian should read it in conjunction with other excellent books on Smith, including Fawn Brodie’s No Man Knows My History and David Persuitte’s Joseph Smith and the Origins of the Book of Mormon. No matter what your opinion of Quinn is—whether he offends you because he was excommunicated by the Mormon Church, that he is an avowed homosexual, or that he writes historical books that are not what you might call “faith promoting”—he is not a slouch.

As mentioned in this review, I disagree with several of his views. For instance, I don’t agree that the Bible encourages necromancy, magic, dealing with occultic materials, and the like. But when it comes to the facts about how Smith himself was involved in magic, Quinn’s historical points are well documented and leave little to debate. I appreciate that Quinn seems to be very honest, wanting to know just what the facts are all about. To do any different is to be a revisionist, and that is just not honest, as Quinn makes this a big point in his criticism of Mormon apologists, especially those who work at LDS-controlled FARMS. I give the book a 5-star recommendation, as long as the reader promises to read carefully, slowly, and with a critical mind.

http://www.mrm.org/topics/reviews/early-mormonism-and-magic-world-view

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Demonic Names in the Book of Mormon

While I was studying some points of interest in Masonry, I came across some names within their books that sounded familiar to me. The familiarity became abundantly clear when I opened the Book of Mormon. I began researching some of the names in the Book of Mormon and their meanings. I compared them with the Bible, bible dictionaries and even Webster’s dictionary.

I found 57 names of people and places that are demonic or names of false gods and their derivatives, however I have chosen to narrow this down to three names that I thought was most relevant.

Someone mentioned to me in a recent letter to Saints Alive that what I see as wrong or demonic is not necessarily demonic to that person. We need to take a firm stand against this rationalization. Truth is not relative. The following names of places and/or people are demonic or ungodly and the LDS Church has twisted their meanings into something other than what they truly are.

Ammonites-

Biblical meaning of people: These were a nomadic people that were descendants of Lot’s incestuous relationship with his youngest daughter. Genesis 19:38: ‘And the younger, she also bare a son, and called his name Benammi: the same is the father of the children of Ammon unto this day’. According to Unger’s Dictionary of the Bible, the Ammonite’s deity was Molech.

Book of Mormon’s definition of Ammonites: They observed the laws of Moses and looked forward to the coming of Christ. Alma 25:15-16. Their origin is actually from the Lamanites; Alma 24:17-8.

Mulek

Biblical meaning: This is a derivative of Molech. In Leviticus 18:21 it says; ‘And thou shalt not let any of thy seed pass through the fire to Molech, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the LORD’. Molek is found in Strong’s Concordance and in Hebrew it means the chief deity (king) of the Ammonites. #4427-4432 gives the definitions and derivatives of this name.

Book of Mormon’s definition: Mulek was land in the north that God prospered and appointed. Mulek was a son of Zedekiah. Helaman 6:10.

Sidon

Biblical meaning: This is a land that was possessed by the Cannanite cults. Jezebel was the daughter of Ethbaal, king of the Sidonians. Their goddess was Ashtoreth. 1 Kings 11:5. They brought nothing but misery to Israel. Jesus referred to the iniquities of the Sidonians in Matthew 11:21-3; ‘Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you’.

Book of Mormon’s definition: In 84 BC, Alma began baptizing the people in the river of Sidon. Alma 4:4. Sidon was also the river where the Nephites defeated the Amlicites & the Lamanites. Alma threw their bodies from the banks into the river so that they could cross to the other side. Alma 2:17, 27, 34-5. It says that the land where Sidon was became peaceful and prosperous.

In the book, Discourses of Brigham Young on page 257, he states; ‘I hope to see the time when we shall have a reformation in the orthography of the English language, among this people, for it is greatly needed. Such a reformation would be a great benefit, and would make the acquirement of an education much easier than at present’.

It’s obvious that this is exactly what they have done. Read, study, decipher what words and their origins mean. It is vital that we understand what we read and not take it for granted that what we read is always true. The only book that we can take for face value is the Bible.

I ask that you join me in prayer for the Mormons. I am praying Isaiah chapter 61 for them. And remember what it says in 2 Timothy 3:16; ‘All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness’. With Love in Christ; Michelle

http://www.lifeafter.org/demonic_names.asp

More Demonic and Ungodly Names in the Book of Mormon

Over five years ago I wrote an article entitled ‘Demonic and Ungodly Names in the Book of Mormon’. Since then I have been asked by numerous people to write more on this particular subject so here it is! Back by popular demand I went through my old notes and found some other names that I think would be of interest to the Mormon and non-Mormon alike. There were more than 50 names of people and/or places that contradict what the Biblical accounts report. Here are just a few of them.

Chemish

The name of Chemish so closely resembles the name of Chemosh from the Bible that it is hard to ignore. In Mormonism the name Chemish belongs to the brother of Ameleki. These two brothers and others were responsible for writing the book of Omni in the Book of Mormon. The official LDS website search engine says this about Chemish:

“The book of Omni: A book translated from the small plates of Nephi in the Book of Mormon. The book has only a single chapter, which contains an account of the wars among the Nephites and Lamanites. Omni wrote only the first three verses of the book. The plates were then passed in turn to Amaron, Chemish, Abinadom, and finally Amaleki. And it came to pass that I did deliver the plates unto my brother Chemish. He delivered the plates to King Benjamin, king of Zarahemla…”

In the introduction of the book of Omni it states:

“Comprising records kept by Omni, Amaron, Chemish, Abinadom, and Amaleki – Mosiah, leaving the land of Zarahemla, occupied by another colony from Jerusalem”.

It is evident from the writings in the Book of Mormon that they believe Chemish to be an honorable man, worthy of writing their ‘scripture’ and worthy enough to be listened to.

What is interesting to note in this however, is what the real meaning of Chemosh translates into. From the Jerusalem Publishing House Illustrated Dictionary and Concordance of the Bible, it says Chemosh is:

“The principle god of the Moabites who were also known as the “people of Chemosh” (Num. 21:29). He may have been the god to whom Mesha king of Moab sacrificed his son (II Kings 3:27)….Solomon tried to please his foreign wives by setting an altar to Chemosh “on the hill that is east of Jerusalem” (I Kings 11:7), thus incurring the wrath of the Lord (I Kings 11:33).”

Once again we see yet another of the Mormon ‘good boys’ that has a questionable name. It seems that the theme is the same as the last time I wrote on the ungodly names of the Book of Mormon. The theme: sex. The Moabites are the descendants of Lot who came from an incestuous relationship with one of his daughters.

Jared

This story is interesting because it shows two different accounts of what God did with the people involved with the tower of Babel. It seems that God is a god of confusion with his people if you believe the Mormon version.

As it turns out, Jared and his family are the only ones in the whole world that didn’t have his language confounded when God scattered the people at the time of the tower of Babel. After Jared told his brother to pray to the Lord to not confound their language, they somehow miraculously realized that God heard the brother of Jared’s cry. It’s also interesting to note that Jared’s brother never seems to have his own name.

Joseph Smith claims the people that descended from Jared are called the Jaredites. The Jaredites had grown to become a great god-fearing nation which moved to the Americas, thus the Book of Mormon. After many generations and hundreds of years they were destroyed by civil wars from caused from the disobedience unto the Lord.

Ether 1:33-4 says; ‘Which Jared came forth with his brother and their families, with some others and their families, from the great tower, at the time the Lord confounded the language of the people, and swore in his wrath that they should be scattered upon all the face of the earth; and according to the word of the Lord the people were scattered. And the brother of Jared being a large and mighty man, and a man highly favored of the Lord, Jared, his brother, said unto him: Cry unto the Lord, that he will not confound us that we may not understand our words.’

Verse 35 tells us that their language wasn’t confounded. Then they prayed that even their friends’ language wouldn’t be confounded and theirs was spared as well. The Bible has always told us two things for sure:

God is not the author of confusion. 1 Corinthian 14:33 says; ‘For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.’ And then in Acts 10:34 we have Peter telling us that God is no respecter of persons.

With these two simple things in mind why would God decide that the rules were different for some and not all? What was so different about Jared and his non-named brother that they and their friends didn’t have the same treatment?

The story of the tower of Babel can be found in Gen. 11. Verse nine says; ‘Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the LORD did there confound the language of ALL the earth: and from thence did the LORD scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth’.

Did you notice what it said in Ether 1:33? Let’s take a look at it again! It says; ‘…at the time the Lord confounded the language of the people, and swore in his wrath that they should be scattered.’

Two more things come to mind when I read this passage. 1-God can’t be trusted. If God ‘swore in his wrath’ that they would be scattered and he confounded the language then went back on what he said, it’s likely that he could be bought off the next time I sinned.

2-Did he or did he not confound the language? If he confounded the languages and then Jared’s brother started praying, did God have to give them back their languages? Call me picky but I think that knowing the God I worship is a serious business and I want to make sure I know it intimately!

Amaleki

This has to be one of the most confusing things I have ever had to study in Mormonism. There are two Amaleki’s mentioned in the Book of Mormon. What I originally wanted to point out are the disparities between the Amalekites of the Bible and the ones mentioned in the Book of Mormon, but alas that wasn’t all I found! Here are the characters in the Book of Mormon, their ‘jobs’ and the Amalekite people:

Amaleki #1 is described as a Nephite record keeper’ who died circa 130 BC, according to LDS.org. He was the 5th person to help author the book of Omni in the Book of Mormon. You can read his account in Omni 1:12-30 as he calls people to Christ (keep in mind it’s 130 BC), his handing over of the plates to King Benjamin (not the same King Benjamin as in the Bible) and the expedition to the land of Nephi.

Amleki #2 is one of the three brothers of Ammon. They were part of Zeniff’s group. They wanted to travel to the land of Nephi-Lehi from Zarahemla and ended up traveling in the desert for 40 days. They finally came upon a hill north of Shilom, pitched their tents and hiked it down to the land of Nephi. The four brothers were imprisoned by King Limhi but eventually freed when they explained that they were descendants of Zarahemla. This story can be found in Mosiah 7:6, it is said that this transpired circa 121 BC.

The Amalekites however are another story, there was nothing godly about these people, they were not the godly men great scholars that Amaleki #1 & #2 were. The Amalekites were a people that were apostates, originating from the Nephites. The Amalekites helped build a city called Jerusalem (Alma 21:2), their hearts were harder than the Lamanites (Alma 21:3) and were preached to by Aaron in their own synagogues (Alma 21:4). They were said to be from the order of Nehor. The Nehors were people who intentionally preached something other than the word of God. This all took place circa 90 BC as Aaron went to the sanctuaries to preach the scriptures of the crucified Lord Jesus. As the story progresses it talks of how Ammon even went out to preach in the synagogues in the land of Ishmael.

Now I could go on and on about the time-line part of preaching Jesus crucified and it still being 130 BC but bear with me here as I try to ignore that part of the story. Smith has made it hard to believe that anyone called by the name of Amaleki or its derivatives could be anything but horrible.

The Biblical accounts of the Amalekites spans from the book of Genesis to 1 Chronicles 4:43. Let’s see what the Bible says about them and why no mention of them is found after that. ‘And they [Israelites] smote the rest of the Amalekites that were escaped, and dwelt there unto this day’. So it seems that there weren’t any Amalekites after this battle! How then did they make it all the way over the waters of the Atlantic ocean and survive being annihilated as well?

When I read the accounts of these people the stories are far too similar. I am also taken aback that anyone who is considered to be a ‘holy’ mouthpiece for the Almighty God would be touting a name such as Amaleki. Amalek is considered to be a descendant of Esau. They were the very first people who fought with Israel after they crossed the Red Sea! This is rather significant in the whole matter!

The Amalekites were a thorn in the side of Israel. They first met up with them in the region near Sinai, when Amalek tried to prevent the entrance of a new tribe into their region. Ex. 17:8-16. In the period of the Judges they aided the Moabites in raiding Israel and at a later time they even helped the Midianites to do the same thing, Judges 6:3.

The Illustrated Concordance and Dictionary of the Bible from G.G. The Jerusalem Publishing House LTD says this about the Amalekites; ‘Archeological surveys have shown that the kings of Judah strengthened their hold in the Negeb from the 10th Century B.C. and this led to the decline and disappearance of the Amalekites.’

There is also a problem here with who was preaching to whom. Why were the Amalekites being preached to by Ammon in the land of Ishmael? I have already established who Ammon was in my last article. The Mormons believe that he observed the laws of Moses. (Alma 25:15-6). The Bible says they [Ammonites] were a nomadic people who were descendants of Lot. Ammon’s deity was Molech. (Gen. 19:38).

My question is this; why was this ‘good prophet’ in the Book of Mormon out preaching to the Amalekites when in the Bible the Ammonites were bowing to Ba’al? Wouldn’t that mean that the Amalekites were getting another gospel?

http://www.lifeafter.org/demonic_names2.asp

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CORRUPTION OF THE BIBLE IS AN LDS SMOKESCREEN

The LDS maintains that the Bible has been corrupted and is, therefore, unreliable. Their unsubstantiated claim is that some parts have been incorrectly translated, and that sections that had originally contained Mormon doctrines have been removed. However, they have never been able to come up with any proof to back up their allegations. The first part of this article is devoted to the evidence that supports the accuracy and reliability of the Bible. And the last section deals with the various LDS theories on the subject.

THE BIBLE’S RELIABILITY

If we have any doubts about the Bible’s truth or accuracy, we’ll read it with a jaundiced eye, and will always be wondering about the trustworthiness of some verse or the other. This will leave us open to being easily led astray by false teachers, false prophets and the like, whom the Bible warns us appear to be messengers of light:

For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works. (2 Corinthians 11:13-15, KJV)

When it comes to deception Satan is a master of the art, and we are no match for him. So God has provided us with spiritual armour for our protection (Ephesians 6:12-17). And part of that armour is the Word of God (verse 17). When we use the Bible as our standard of truth, it serves as a spiritual sword, capable of decimating spiritual deception and error.

When Paul preached the New Covenant gospel of Christ to the Jews at Berea, they checked in their Bibles daily to see whether the things he was telling them were true (Acts 17:10-12). And sure enough, the prophecies about the coming Messiah lined up with what Paul had been telling them about Christ and his atonement for the sins of mankind. So many of them trusted in Christ for salvation.

If we follow the example of the Bereans by conscientiously checking up on whether or not the spiritual teachings we receive line up with the Bible, we will not be led into error. But in order to have the will to do this, we need to have faith in the Bible’s reliability, bearing in mind that faith isn’t a blind, mindless belief, an emotion, or a warm feeling in our bosom, as Mormons have been taught to believe it is. Nowhere in the Bible are we told to have faith in our feelings. Feelings are notoriously unreliable. Having faith doesn’t mean that we have to be gullible or throw our brains out of the window.

The following facts reveal the Bible to be a reliable standard of authority and truth, in which we can safely trust:

THE BIBLE IS HISTORICALLY TRUE

In the early 1800’s, the University of Paris printed an academic paper denouncing the Bible. They mentioned more than eighty historical facts that they claimed were untrue. However, within the next 100 years archaeological discoveries had confirmed the accuracy of the biblical record concerning every one of those so-called errors.

We have literally thousands of ancient, independent documents that support the trustworthiness of the biblical record. And archaeologists have confirmed the existence of biblical cities, nations, and individuals. They’ve also unearthed countless coins, artifacts, and evidence of civilizations and wars recorded in the Bible. Yet they’ve never found anything that has contradicted or disproved the Bible’s accuracy.

Compare this with the dismal record of absolutely no proof at all ever having been found concerning the LDS’s foremost scripture, the Book of Mormon, which they maintain is more accurate than the Bible. The evidence in favour of the Bible is overwhelming, and there is no evidence at all in favour of the Book of Mormon or of Mormon doctrine. Yet the LDS continues to throw stones both at the Bible and at biblical Christianity.

ACCURACY OF OUR COPIES OF THE OLD TESTAMENT

Strict regulations were enforced in the copying of Old Testament scriptures. An authentic specimen had to be used, and copyists weren’t allowed to deviate from it in any way. Nothing was permitted to be written down from memory, not even a dot. If any mistakes were made, the faulty copies were either burned or buried, as was every document that showed any sign of wear. Many other precautions were also taken, some even more elaborate than these, such as the counting of every letter on each page. So it’s unlikely that errors would have crept into the copying of the Old Testament.

It doesn’t make sense to imagine for one moment that people who were so fanatically fastidious about the accuracy of their scriptures, and so in awe of them, would adulterate them or hack out great big portions of them; or allow others to do so. Those Jewish folk guarded their scriptures jealously and reverentially. Don’t forget that the primitive church was completely Jewish, and a large number of the early church consisted of converted Jews, all of whom had this very same reverence for scripture.

In 1947 an Arab shepherd boy discovered a vast quantity of ancient manuscripts in some caves, which became known as the Dead Sea Scrolls. They pre-dated anything we’d previously possessed, and included portions of every Old Testament book except Esther. Many of the scrolls were in fragments, but those they have pieced together agree with our modern Bibles.

The LDS Church maintains that parts of the book of Isaiah (the sections that don’t agree with their ideas), have been incorrectly translated. But we can now prove to them that this is not so, and that it is the LDS doctrines that are incorrect, not the Bible. Amongst the Dead Sea Scrolls was a complete copy of the book of Isaiah, written in an early form of the square letter. This dates it as far back as the second century before Christ, which makes it the same rendering of Isaiah that was read and quoted by the Lord Jesus. He accepted and proclaimed it as the true Word of God. And this very ancient copy of Isaiah agrees with our modern English translations of today. So the LDS will need another excuse to explain why their teachings don’t agree with the book of Isaiah.

Furthermore, Dr. Sidney B. Sperry, the LDS’s own Brigham Young University’s Professor of Old Testament History, Literature, and Languages, wrote the following in his publication, “Progress in Archaeology”:

“After reading the [Dead Sea] Scrolls very carefully, I came to the conclusion that there is not a line in them that suggests that their writers knew the gospel as understood by Latter-day Saints.” (page 52)

ACCURACY OF OUR COPIES OF THE NEW TESTAMENT

As we’ve learned more about ancient biblical languages we have been able to translate them more precisely. But this hasn’t changed the actual meaning of the content in any way.

We possess more than 3,000 New Testament manuscripts dating from the fourth century. A few of these have minor variations. However, as most of them do agree, it’s an easy matter to sort out which are the reliable texts.

Some copies of John’s writings dating from 200 AD have come to light. They agree with our Bibles. We also have the writings of the apostolic fathers and the church fathers. (The apostolic fathers were the disciples of the apostles, and the church fathers were the disciples of the apostolic fathers.) Their combined writings contain the entire New Testament, except sixteen verses, which are only the introductions to the epistles. And their versions of the New Testament scriptures agree with our modern translations. So we can rest assured that our modern New Testament is in line with the original writings.

In their book “Eyewitness to Jesus,” German and British scholars Drs. Carsten Theide and Matthew D’Ancona refer to a fragment from the Gospel of Matthew, that scientific evidence revealed was written before AD 70, possibly as early as AD 30. This means that this gospel was written and circulated during the lifetime of the eyewitnesses to the events recorded. So they would have been able to vouch for its accuracy.

Because of the overwhelming evidence available, it is unlikely that errors could have crept into our versions of either the Old or New Testaments.

THE BIBLE IS OUR STANDARD OF TRUTH

The Bible is the standard of truth provided by God to enable us to test all spiritual teachings. But once we start relying on it, Satan knows that he will have lost the battle for our souls. So he puts a great deal of effort into trying to discredit it. And he’s very subtle. Remember what he said to Eve in the garden of Eden? He insinuated that perhaps God didn’t quite mean what he’d said so she shouldn’t take it too seriously. And she believed Satan, instead of taking God at His Word. As a result both Adam and Eve lost their righteous natures, their immortality and their fellowship with their Creator.

Satan is carrying on that same campaign of disinformation today, except this time it’s against God’s written word, the Bible.

CONTRADICTORY LDS STANCE ON THE BIBLE

When it comes to the Bible, the LDS church speaks with a forked tongue. On the one hand they maintain that it is their standard scripture, “the first” among their written guides in faith and doctrine. But on the other hand, they insist that it has been so badly corrupted that it cannot be relied upon.

“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints accepts the Holy Bible as the foremost of her standard works, first among the books which have been proclaimed as her written guides in faith and doctrine” (LDS Apostle James Talmage, Articles of Faith, page 236).

“Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (known informally by the nickname Mormons) believe the Bible. Indeed, so literally and completely do their beliefs and practices conform to the teachings of the Bible that it is not uncommon to hear informed persons say: ‘If all men believed the Bible, all would be Mormons.’ Bible doctrine is Mormon doctrine, and Mormon doctrine is Bible doctrine. They are one and the same” (LDS Apostle Bruce McConkie, “What The Mormons Think of Christ,” page 2).

But saying doesn’t make it so. The second quote is both false and deliberately misleading. The LDS leadership is well aware of the fact that their doctrines are not biblical. Moreover, they admit that the Jesus Christ that they follow is not the Christ of the Bible either (see the relevant article). And eternal progression, the foundational doctrine on which the LDS stands or falls, is anti-biblical to the point of being blasphemous, as are their doctrines on deity and the atonement.

Contrary to apostle McConkie’s false claims mentioned above, the Bible vigorously opposes LDS doctrines, and in order to justify this very obvious discrepancy the LDS church teaches their members that the Bible has been corrupted to the extent that it is not reliable. They are instructed to use their own scriptures and revelations as the standard against which to measure the accuracy of the Bible.

“The most reliable way to measure the accuracy of any biblical passage is not by comparing different texts, but by comparison with the Book of Mormon and modern-day revelations.” (Church News, June 20, 1992, page 3, quoting a letter from the First Presidency [Presidents Benson, Hinckley and Monson] dated May 22, 1992, to all of the Church)

There are a great many LDS teachings on the unreliability of the Bible. Here are just a few:

“Many important points touching the salvation of men, had been taken from the Bible, or lost before it was compiled.” (Joseph Smith, History of the Church, Volume 1, page 245)

“Ignorant translators, careless transcribers, or designing and corrupt priests have committed many errors” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, page 327).

“… who in his right mind could for one moment suppose the Bible in its present form to be a perfect guide? Who knows that even one verse of the Bible has escaped pollution, so as to convey the same sense now that it did in the original?” (LDS Apostle Orson Pratt, “Divine Authenticity of the Book of Mormon,” Page 47.)

In light of the above, one can only assume that their earlier, dishonest statements about their teachings conforming completely to those of the Bible, were nothing more than a deliberate smoke screen designed to conceal the fact that Mormonism is an unbiblical religion and that their doctrines are exclusive to the LDS church alone.

The Book of Mormon goes one step further in the LDS tirade against the Bible. It declares that only a fool would believe that the Bible is an adequate spiritual guide. (This crude statement gives the Book of Mormon a reason for its existence.)

“Thou fool, that shall say: A Bible, we have got a Bible, and we need no more Bible. ……..Wherefore, because that ye have a Bible ye need not suppose that it contains all my words; neither need ye suppose that I have not caused more to be written.” (2 Nephi 29:6, 10)

“….. for behold they have taken away from the gospel of the Lamb many parts which are plain and most precious; and also many covenants of the Lord have they taken away. And all this have they done that they might blind the eyes and harden the hearts of the children of men” (1 Nephi 13:26-27)

Mormon literature provides many more statements along the same lines, but the above sufficiently proves the point that on the one hand the LDS claims that the Bible is their foremost scripture, that they honour and respect its authority, and that their doctrine so utterly conforms to biblical teaching that if all men believed the Bible, all would be Mormons. On the other hand they maintain that the Bible has been corrupted to such an extent that it can’t be trusted, that only fools would consider it to be an adequate spiritual guide, and that Mormons should use their own LDS revelations and teachings to gauge whether or not what the Bible says is correct.

The above two irreconcilable LDS stances are what some would term, “running with the hares and hunting with the hounds.” In other words, they enable the LDS to put forward whichever opposing point of view suits them best at any given time.

Let’s tackle some of the LDS’s accusations regarding their allegations about the Bible being corrupted and unreliable:

DIFFERENCES IN MANUSCRIPTS

There are minor variations in some of the available manuscripts. However, because of the vast number that are now in our possession (many thousands), it is an easy matter to sort out those that do not agree. Concerning those that do vary, scholars have come to the following conclusions.

“A careful study of the variants of the various earliest manuscripts reveals that none of them affects a single doctrine of Scripture. The system of spiritual truth contained in the standard Hebrew text of the Old Testament is not in the slightest altered or compromised by any of the variant readings found in the Hebrew manuscripts ….. It is very evident that the vast majority of them are so inconsequential as to leave the meaning of each clause doctrinally unaffected” (Gleason Archer, “A Survey of the Old Testament,” page 25).

“Only about one-eighth of all the variants had any weight, as most of them are merely mechanical matters such as spelling or style. Of the whole, then, only about one-sixtieth rise above ‘trivialities,’ or can in any sense be called substantial ‘variations’. Mathematically this would compute to a Text that is 98.33 percent pure.” (Norman Geisler and William Nix, “A General Introduction to the Bible,” page 365).

And Professor Richard L. Anderson, of the LDS’s own Brigham Young University, had this to say:
“For a book to undergo progressive uncovering of its manuscript history and come out with so little debatable in its text is a great tribute to its essential authenticity. First, no new manuscript discovery has produced serious differences in the essential story. This survey has disclosed the leading textual controversies, and together they would be well within one percent of the text. Stated differently, all manuscripts agree on the essential correctness of 99 percent of all the verses in the New Testament.”

“LOST” BOOKS

The LDS maintains that manuscripts are missing out of the canon. But there is a valid reason why not all available documents were included. Some failed to meet the strict criteria deemed necessary to qualify for inclusion.

ALLEGED CORRUPTION OF THE NEW TESTAMENT

In attempting to explain why there is no mention of LDS doctrines in the Bible, LDS Apostle James E. Talmage suggested that some time during the fourth century Mormon doctrines and teachings must have been removed from the Bible.

However, besides having been recorded in the Bible, the apostles’ teachings were also quoted in numerous sermons, letters and documents. And by the time the fourth century came around these writings, as well as the biblical record, had been copied a great many times and widely circulated. So if Mormonism had been taught by the apostles there would have had to have been a record of it somewhere. But nobody, anywhere, has ever found so much as a trace of anything even remotely resembling Mormon doctrine prior to the establishment of the LDS church by Joseph Smith.

Critics of Mormonism are of the opinion that Joseph Smith used the excuse that the Bible had been corrupted as a dishonest ploy to justify the fact that the doctrines he taught were radically unbiblical.

LDS historian Hugh Nibley felt that the reason Mormon teachings weren’t mentioned in the Bible was because the original New Testament had been sabotaged before any copies had been made. But scientific evidence to the contrary discounts his theory. As already mentioned, a fragment of the gospel of Matthew was scientifically dated before AD 70 and possibly as early as in the AD 30’s. This means that it was written during the lifetime of the very people who had been witnesses to the events it mentions. And they would have objected it it hadn’t recorded the true facts correctly.

Other complete documents available are dated between about AD 70-807. At this stage in the history of the church, Christ’s original apostles would have been teaching and training those who were earmarked for leadership. And there was an extremely strict criteria laid down in the New Testament for selecting leadership. They would had to have been godly, mature, spirit filled Christians of the highest moral and spiritual calibre, whose doctrine was sound, who knew the scriptures and were capable of correcting error, and whose faith had already been tested and proved.

Furthermore, it would have been necessary for the entire Christian church, including the leadership, from every single area in the world where there had been Christians, all to have become apostate simultaneously. And at the same time as apostatising they would all have had to, once again simultaneously, reject their previous doctrines and adopt an entirely different belief system that opposed and did away with the very tenets the church had sacrificed, suffered and died for.

This idea is too far fetched to even warrant consideration.

Over all these long years that they’ve been in existence, the LDS has never ever been able to produce any evidence whatsoever, biblical, historical or archeological, that so much as suggests that either a complete apostasy of the early church or a corruption of the Bible ever took place, as they maintain they did. They have the same amount of evidence here as they have for their Book of Mormon being true, precisely nil. In fact they have never ever been able to produce any evidence that backs up any of their claims concerning their church being legitimate or that backs up their false accusations that biblical Christianity of today is not legitimate.

Surely, if either of these two claims had any substance, something would have been found by this time, to back them up.

The fact that Mormonism is an evolving religion should not be glossed over. LDS beliefs of today bear no resemblance whatsoever to their earlier beliefs. Twelve years after the establishment of the LDS church Joseph Smith introduced his new teachings on eternal progression, which brought about a complete change in their entire doctrinal system. Since then they have believed in an exclusive and unbiblical God, Christ, gospel and so on. (See the lead given at the end of this page to the article, “The Mormon Gods, Past and Present.”)

In other words, although they started off worshipping the biblical trinitarian, eternal, unchangeable, spirit God, twelve years later they changed over to the worship of a God of flesh and bone, who had once been an ordinary man.

In light of this, and their many other radical changes in doctrine, we can’t help wondering why the LDS should maintain that because the Bible doesn’t contain any of their current teachings it must have been corrupted. Do they expect the Bible to change its teachings every time they do so?

The main ingredient of truth is its consistency. It never, ever changes. So, unlike as is the case in Mormonism, the teachings of the Bible have never changed, and the Christian church of today (which the LDS accuses of being apostate) still uses exactly the same doctrines that Christ’s Apostles in the primitive church taught, adhered to and died to defend, as recorded in the Bible.

On the other hand, the LDS church has continued this pattern of changing their doctrines whenever they have deemed it convenient.

The Almighty God who created the universe, and who upholds it by His power, gave us the Bible as our standard of truth, both for our spiritual guidance and for our protection against spiritual deception. And He’s perfectly capable of safeguarding that same Bible from contamination or error. However, the LDS infers that He wasn’t able to do this, although, conversely, they insist that He is able to keep them from error.

But worshipping different Gods at different times, or for that matter, changing their other doctrines, clearly reveals that they must either have been in error prior to the changes in their doctrines or else that their present doctrines are incorrect. It would be impossible for both to be right.

If God allowed Joseph Smith, His chosen prophet, to teach doctrinal error on something as important as deity, and to lead them in the worship of the supposedly wrong God for over 12 years, why should we for one moment imagine that He doesn’t allow the LDS leadership to teach error today? And how do Mormons know that it wasn’t the second God, a glorified man, whom Joseph Smith taught them to worship, that was the wrong deity? How do they know whether or not they are guilty of the sin of idolatry?

The first link given below will take you to an article that discusses the three different Gods that have been worshipped by the LDS, each for a lengthy period of time. Quotes from LDS literature, providing irrefutable evidence that can be checked, are given. The second link leads to an article on the reliability of the Bible:

The Mormon Gods, Past and Present

The Bible and its Reliability as a Spiritual Weapon

Copyright 2007, Mormonism and Biblical Truth. All rights reserved.

http://www.bibtruth.com/corup.html

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Is God a Mormon? What the Bible says about God’s nature by Mark Grote

The question of “Is God a Mormon,” just occured to me while I was writing this examination of the nature of God. I was wondering to myself how Mormons could get so far off about the nature of God. Just then, it occured to me that God would have to be a Mormon, and would certainly endorse Mormonism, if Mormons are to be considered correct. But are they?

This much we do know. As much as Mormons say they are set apart as the “true Church” they are actually like every other faith on the planet except Christianity. Some Mormons say they are Christians but miss the central concept of God’s nature, essence and most of all, the deity of Christ. That concept is that Jesus is God. As Mormons yammer on about being set apart, they are very much like everyone else in holding a view that Jesus is not the ultimate authority or the author of all things. So then, who is? How can you be set apart when you hold exactly the same view of Jesus as every other faith–that He is less than God?

Rather than argue with opinions, I thought I would try the novel concept of ‘study’ and see if scripture means anything to Mormons. Examining and drawing out what is in the bible and not trying to read into scripture but literally go to the word of God and see what it says about God.

So with that, to the question at hand…what is the nature of God? Who is He? Are Mormons correct that he is one of many Gods and the literal creator of Jesus or is He part of the trinity, a view that Mormons so adamently attack?

First of all, we have to come to a common understanding about what we mean by the “nature of God.” What I mean in this is quite literal. What is God? Who is God? Where is God? The Bible says that God has always existed (Gen. 1:1) for all eternity to all eternity, from everlasting past to everlasting future, forever and ever, from before time to after time, and who is without beginning and without end, (Psalm 41:13, 90:2, 102:25-27 and Romans 1:22-23). The word Eternal, means ( e = no, tern = time; no time). I have separate thoughts of Jesus as well, but for now will wait to disuss that even if He applies.

I believe it is sufficient to say that the God of classical Christian theism is at least (1) personal and incorporeal (without physical parts), (2) the Creator and Sustainer of everything else that exists, (3) omnipotent (all-powerful), (4) omniscient (all-knowing), (5) omnipresent (everywhere present), (6) immutable (unchanging) and eternal, and (7) necessary and the only God.

Let us now briefly look at each of these attributes.

1. Personal and Incorporeal. According to Christian theism, God is a personal being who has all the attributes that we may expect from a perfect person: self-consciousness, the ability to reason, know, love, communicate, and so forth. This is clearly how God is described in the Scriptures (e.g., Gen. 17:11; Exod. 3:14; Jer. 29:11).

God is also incorporeal. Unlike humans, God is not uniquely associated with one physical entity (i.e., a body). This is why the Bible refers to God as Spirit (John 4:24).

2. The Creator and Sustainer of Everything Else that Exists. In classical theism, all reality is contingent on God — that is, all reality has come into existence and continues to exist because of Him. Unlike a god who forms the universe out of preexistent matter, the God of classical theism created the universe ex nihilo (out of nothing). Consequently, it is on God alone that everything in the universe depends for its existence (see Acts 17:25; Col. 1:16, 17; Rom. 11:36; Heb. 11:3; 2 Cor. 4:6; Rev. 4:11).

3. Omnipotent. God is also said to be omnipotent or all-powerful. This should be understood to mean that God can do anything that is (1) logically possible or impossible (see below), and (2) consistent with being a personal, incorporeal, omniscient, omnipresent, immutable, wholly perfect, and necessary Creator.

Concerning the latter, these attributes are not limitations of God’s power, but perfections. They are attributes at their infinitely highest level, which are essential to God’s nature. For example, since God is perfect, He cannot sin; because He is personal, He is incapable of making Himself impersonal; because He is omniscient, He cannot forget. All this is supported by the Bible when its writers assert that God cannot sin (Mark 10:18; Heb. 6:18), cease to exist (Exod. 3:14; Mal. 3:6), or fail to know something (Job 28:24; Ps. 139:17-18; Isa. 46:10a). Since God is a perfect person, it is necessarily the case that He is incapable of acting in a less than perfect way — which would include sinning, ceasing to exist, and being ignorant.

Also counted among the things that are logically impossible for God to do or create are those imperfect acts mentioned above which a wholly perfect and immutable being cannot do — such as sin, lack omniscience, and/or cease to exist. Since God is a personal, incorporeal, omniscient, omnipresent, immutable, wholly perfect, and necessary Creator, it follows that any act inconsistent with these attributes would be necessarily (or logically) impossible for God to perform.

4. Omniscient. God is all-knowing, and His all-knowingness encompasses the past, present, and future. Concerning God’s unfathomable knowledge, the psalmist writes: “How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. When I awake, I am still with you” (Ps. 139:17,18). Elsewhere he writes, “Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit” (147:5). The author of Job writes of God: “For he views the ends of the earth and sees everything under the heavens” (Job 28:24). Scripture also teaches that God has total knowledge of the past (Isa. 41:22). Concerning the future, God says: “I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please,'” (Isa. 46:10). Elsewhere Isaiah quotes God as saying that knowledge (not opinion or highly probable guesses) of the future is essential for deity (Isa. 41:21-24), something that distinguished God from the many false gods of Isaiah’s day.

5. Omnipresent. Logically following from God’s omniscience, incorporeality, omnipotence, and role as creator and sustainer of the universe is His omnipresence. Since Christians believe God is not limited by a temporal body, He knows everything immediately without benefit of sensory organs, and sustains the existence of all that exists, it follows that He is in some sense present everywhere. Certainly it is the Bible’s explicit teaching that God is omnipresent (Psalm 139:3-10, 1 Kings 8:27, Jer. 23:23-24, Acts 17:24-27, Matt 18:20)

6. Immutable and Eternal. When a Christian says that God is immutable and eternal, he or she is saying that God is unchanging (Mal. 3:6; Heb. 6:17; Isa. 46:10b) and has always existed as God throughout all eternity which is consistent with the following scriptural references (Ps. 90:2; Isa. 40:28; 43:12b, 13; 57:15a; Rom. 1:20a; 1 Tim. 1:17). There never was a time when God was not God.

Although God certainly seems to change in response to how His creatures behave — such as in the case of the repenting Ninevites — His nature remains the same. No matter how the Ninevites would have responded to Jonah’s preaching, God’s unchanging righteousness would have remained the same: He is merciful to the repentant and punishes the unrepentant. Hence, a God who is responsive to His creatures is certainly consistent with, and seems to be entailed in, an unchanging nature that is necessarily personal.

7. Necessary and the ONE and Only True God. The Bible teaches that although humans at times worship some beings as if these beings really were gods (1 Cor. 8:4-6), there is only one true and living God by nature (Isa. 43:10; 44:6, 8; 45:5, 18, 21, 22; Jer. 10:10; Gal. 4:8; 1 Cor. 8:4-6; 1 Tim. 2:5; John 17:3; 1 Thess. 1:9). And since the God of the Bible possesses all power (see above), there cannot be any other God, for this would mean that two beings possess all power. That, of course, is patently absurd, since if a being possesses all of everything (in this case, power) there is, by definition, nothing left for anyone else.

Moreover, since everything that exists depends on God, and God is unchanging and eternal, it follows that God cannot not exist. In other words, He is a necessary being, whereas without Him, everything else would not exist.

You may have noticed that I am not citing only single verses in any one of these sections. There is a pattern of several verses thoughout the bible that support my positions and I have provided 56 verses that speak to God’s nature and attributes. This is not a doctrine born out of single verse, nor am I asking you to read a symbolic phrase in the bible and come the same conclusion that I do. I am citing specific verses in specific contexts that say for instance, “God is spirit and His worshipers must worship Him in spirit and truth.” (John 4:24). Now from where I come from, that’s truth. But it’s only one verse. What if we don’t have it right? Well, the Bible says that all Scripture is God-breathed, and that the Bible IS the Word of God. So, therefore, if we examine other scripture and find the it to be consistent with “God is spirit” we can probably put that one in the column for truth. I cannot understate this point: I went beyond that single verse and found other scriptures to support that verse’s context, that God is omnipresent, consistent with Him being “spirit.” I challenge you to do the same showing that “God is a God of flesh and bones, or God has a body.” I also challenge you to present a pattern where we see this theme woven throughout scripture, for it is my contention that Joseph Smith and Mormon leaders since his time, make doctrines out of a single verse or “read out” of scripture from a single verse what they want to see to support their doctrine. (see baptisms for the dead as one such example). I realize that I am placing a high standard on our process…but honestly speaking, does where we spend our eternity deserve anything less?

Finally my questions to you are this? Where in the Bible or the Book of Mormon does it teach that God was once a mere mortal man and that he was not always a God? Where in the Bible or the Book of Mormon does it teach that God is married. And finally, where in the bible and the Book of Mormon does it say that God has a body of flesh and bones as clearly as John 4:24 says, “God is spirit”? And yet, it is Christians who are supposed to be giving life to doctrines that are not in the bible? I don’t think so.

So far, I have never met a Mormon who can answers these questions without reading into scripture and/or taking it out of context. I also cannot seem to find Mormons presenting a pattern of scripture that supports their positions.

Nevertheless, I welcome the exchange anytime. If a Mormon can prove otherwise, using scripture, I will listen. Until that time, I’m sticking with the bible. All other so called “truths” are fraught with danger.

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THE APOSTASY IS A MORMON FALLACY

Records reveal that Joseph Smith joined the Methodist church in June, 1828, eight years after the date that he later claimed he’d received a vision from God instructing him not to join any of the churches (mentioning the Methodist church by name), as they were all corrupt and their teachings were an abomination in His sight,

After he had joined the Methodist church, the Minister was informed about Smith’s bad reputation, as well as his involvement in the occult. (He had earned his living by promising to divine the whereabouts of hidden treasure, which never ever materialized.) He discussed this with Joseph, explaining that these activities were against everything that the church stood for. However, he was told that he could remain in membership provided that he repented and convinced the church board that he would change his ways. But if he was not prepared to do this, he would be required to formally resign from the Methodist church. Rather than give up the unethical type of lifestyle to which he was so strongly drawn, Joseph chose to resign.

Within two years he had started up his own church (the LDS), claiming that the Christian church had become apostate shortly after the death of Christ’s apostles, and that God had appointed him, as His latter-day prophet, to restore the true church.

Contrary to Joseph Smith’s claims, there has always been a remnant of faithful believers.

Ever since the inception of the Christian church they have been subjected to ongoing persecution, as well as attacks by false prophets, false teachers and the like. But history records a long line of Christian martyrs who have embraced sacrifice, suffering, torture and death rather than compromise their biblical beliefs. And it is a fact that Christians are still being persecuted and martyred today in various places in the world, for the same reason.

The Bible itself clearly disproves the LDS’s completely unsubstantiated claim that the early Christian church went into total apostasy shortly after the death of Christ’s apostles. Firstly, it teaches that the great apostasy will occur right at the very end times, shortly before the second coming of Christ, and will herald the appearance of the anti-Christ, who will display himself as God in the Jewish temple. That time hasn’t arrived yet, as the Jews still have to rebuild their temple.

Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4, KJV)

Secondly, Christ made the following promises concerning His body of followers (i.e. His church):

… upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades shall not overpower it. (Matthew 16:18, KJV).

For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. (Matthew 18:20, KJV)

….. And, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. (Matthew 28:20, KJV)

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. (John 10:27-29, KJV)

….. I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain (John 15:16, KJV) (Italics by author)

….. I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it. ….. I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world … (Revelation 3:8, 10, KJV)

Thirdly, one of the themes that runs steadfastly throughout the Bible is that God has always kept a remnant of faithful believers. The following are some of the scriptures that bear this out:

Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him. (1 Kings 19:18, KJV)

Except the Lord of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah.(Isaiah 1:9, KJV).

And there shall be an highway for the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria; like as it was to Israel in the day that he came up out of the land of Egypt. (Isaiah 11:16, KJV).

Esaias also crieth concerning Israel, Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved. (Romans 9:27, KJV)

Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace. (Romans 11:5, KJV)

Fourthly, shortly before his martyrdom, the apostle Peter warned the church against false prophets and false teachers, but then he went on to assure them that God always providentially protects those who are His own, against temptation and apostasy:

But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. (2 Peter 2:1, KJV)

The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations ….. (2 Peter 2:9, KJV)

In his book “The Trail of Blood,” Dr. J. M. Carroll traces the martyrs of the church of Jesus Christ from its inception right up to the present times.

Then too, history also records that there always has been a faithful remnant who refused to compromise. Many of them paid for this privilege with their own blood.

The LDS church cites many of the practices of Catholicism as proof that the church of Jesus Christ had gone into total apostasy. However, they are wrongly tarring everyone with the same brush. Roman Catholicism does not represent Christendom. What about the faithful remnant of Christ’s true church that history so clearly records were cruelly persecuted by the Roman Catholic church? What about Catholicism’s infamous, cruel and bloody inquisitions? History reveals that faithful Christians have been persecuted, tortured and killed for refusing to compromise the gospel throughout the ages, right up to this present moment in time. Remember all the burnings at the stakes in England, of Christians who refused to recant their biblical beliefs and who remained faithful even in the face of torture and death by burning?

Fox’s Book of Martyrs, still in print, should be a graphic eye-opener to members of the LDS church regarding the faithful remnant of Christ’s true church. Mormons are encouraged to read this book, if they can bear to do so.

There has always been a faithful remnant of the church of Jesus Christ. And don’t be confused by numbers. The Lord Jesus said:

Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. (Matthew 7:14, KJV)

Copyright 2007, by Mormonism and Biblical Truth. All rights reserved.

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A Few Troublesome Questions
by Kathleen Baldwin

Have you ever had a niggling question? One that plagues you for years. As a Mormon I had a few. When I became a Christian those questions and inconsistencies went away. However, I’d like to share some of them with you because they are still relevant questions for anyone still in the LDS Church.

1. If God was once a man like us, lived righteously, married, died and became a God, who was His God? Who was God before Him? Who was the very first God? Where did He come from? And how come He didn’t have to be a man first?

2. Why are children sealed to their parents? If they do things right, and make it to the Celestial Kingdom, aren’t they going to go off and be Gods someplace else? Is it just so that parents and children can visit each other? If so, can’t they visit each other without being sealed? After all, they’ll all be Gods, right? or can’t God do that–visit His children?

3. Speaking of fathers and children, why won’t God, the Father, visit His children in the Terrestrial Kingdom? Doesn’t He love them? These are supposedly the millions of devoted church goers, Christians and Mormons, who lived good lives but didn’t quite cut the mustard. Don’t they count? Sure, it’s a nice place, but why won’t He visit?

4. If the temple and its ceremonies were revealed to Joseph Smith by God, why is it so different from the temple and its ceremonies as revealed to Solomon? Or the tabernacle and ceremonies as they were revealed to Moses? God gave very detailed instructions to Moses and Solomon. How come LDS temple layouts aren’t like those? Why are the ceremonies so different? How come the details aren’t similar? For instance, God commanded Moses to make the veil in Exodus five layers thick, woven of blue and purple and scarlet. The LDS temple veils are made of normal white cloth, available for purchase in almost any material store. Doesn’t the LDS Church teach that God revealed the temple as it had originally been established?

5. While we are on the subject of the veil, that thick veil tore in half when Jesus Christ completed His sacrifice. God opened the Holy of Holies. He exposed it to mankind. We were given access to the throne of God, the mercy seat. Why did Joseph Smith hang up a new barrier (veil) between God and man?

6. Now that the government is so liberal, gays are being married, etc., shouldn’t the LDS Church be trying to legalize polygamy? They teach that it is part of the “new and everlasting covenant of eternal marriage.” Shouldn’t they be pushing for the right to exercise their religious freedom? Or would that be a politically incorrect move? Why would they care about social acceptance if it meant compromising their beliefs?

Questions are good things. They make people think. Try asking your friend some ‘to the point’ questions. Maybe when he or she goes searching for the answers she’ll find the truth.

I constantly thank God for answering my questions with the true Gospel–the good news. God is truth, and His ways are never convoluted. May He bless you and your LDS friends with the peace that comes from only Him.

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Archaeology & the Book of Mormon

ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP)–In the last part in this series, we saw that the Bible is reliable, being textually pure and verifiably accurate in many places. Therefore, the Mormon can have confidence that the Bible is the Word of God and that it can be accurately translated. In this chapter we will examine the Book of Mormon to see how it holds up to the historical test. The Mormons at your door will tell you that many findings within archaeology have confirmed the Book of Mormon time and time again. Is this true? What does the historical data we have tell us about the events recorded in the Book of Mormon?

1. There is no specific confirmation of the Book of Mormon from archaeology.

A. What Mormon archeologists say.

Brigham Young University (BYU) is owned by the Mormon Church and has a department of professional archeologists who are dedicated to archaeology as it pertains to the Book of Mormon. These professionals, who are practicing Mormons, are to be applauded for their honesty. What many of them have to say will be a shock to the lay Mormon who is unaware that archaeology and the Book of Mormon are at odds with one another. The lay Mormon is told by the Mormon Church that archaeology continues to confirm the Book of Mormon, while Mormon scholars, who actually study archaeology for a living, have something quite different to say.

“[It appears that the Book of Mormon] had no place in the New World whatsoever…. [It] just doesn’t seem to fit anything … in anthropology [or] history…. It seems misplaced” (endnote 20, continuing from endnote 19 in Part 2).

“The first myth that we need to eliminate is that Book of Mormon archaeology exists. Titles on books full of archaeological half-truths, dilettante on the peripheries of American archaeology calling themselves Book of Mormon archaeologists regardless of their education, and a Department of Archaeology at BYU devoted to the production of Book of Mormon archaeologists do not insure that Book of Mormon archaeology really exists” (endnote 21).

“What I would say to you is there is no archeological proof of the Book of Mormon. You can look all you want. And there’s been a lot of speculation about it. There’ve been books written by Mormon scholars saying that ‘this event took place here’ or ‘this event took place here.’ But that’s entirely speculative. There is absolutely no archeological evidence that you can tie directly to events that took place” (endnote 22).

“Now, I’m an archeologist, and I work in Mexico where some people think that the events occurred. So a lot of Mormons ask me every week if I find any evidence. And I tell them, ‘No.’ … [T]he question of how to translate what the Book says in terms of real evidence that we can grab in our hands, archeologically, is still a huge problem” (endnote 23).

Keep in mind that all of these are practicing Mormons who are professional Book of Mormon archeologists!

B. What non-Mormon archeologists say.

Earlier we read from the Smithsonian Institution’s statement “The Bible as History.” We saw that archaeology confirms much of the Bible and that professional archeologists use the Bible in their work. The Smithsonian also has a “STATEMENT REGARDING THE BOOK OF MORMON.” This statement can be requested at the same address. Every one of the statements are damaging to the reliability of the Book of Mormon. Here is the first of eight statements: “The Smithsonian Institution has never used the Book of Mormon in any way as a scientific guide. Smithsonian archeologists see no direct connection between the archeology of the New World and the subject matter of the book.”

In 1989, Michael Ammons wrote to the National Geographic Society requesting information on the Book of Mormon and archaeology. The Society replied in a letter dated April 26, 1989:

“Neither the Society nor any other institution of equal prestige has ever used the Book of Mormon in locating archaeological sites. Although many Mormon sources claim that the Book of Mormon has been substantiated by archaeological findings, this claim has not been verified scientifically.”

Also in 1989, Linda Hansen wrote to the Department of Archaeology at Boston University with a similar request. In a reply letter dated April 5, 1989, Julie Hansen of the department responded:

“The Archaeological Institute of America has never used the Book of Mormon as a scientific guide in locating historic ruins on the Western Hemisphere…. Over the past 30 years The New World Archaeological Foundation, located at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, has conducted numerous scientific excavations in Mesoamerica, originally with a view to confirming the claims in the Book of Mormon. They have discovered no evidence that supports the Book of Mormon in any way. Nonetheless, they have published in full detail the results of their excavations in Papers of the New World Archaeological Foundation, Volumes 1-55, 1959 and following…. They are accepted by the Archaeological Institute of America and the Society of American Archaeologists as legitimate scientific investigations and the New World Archaeological Foundation is to be commended for publishing the results of their work that essentially refutes the basic beliefs of the Mormon Church on which the Foundation is based” (endnote 24).

Therefore, there is a consensus from professional archaeologists, Mormon and non-Mormon alike, that there is no specific confirmation of the Book of Mormon from archaeology.

2. The lack of archaeological evidence is sometimes damaging.

A) The Book of Mormon claims that the ancient inhabitants spoke and wrote in “Reformed Egyptian” and Hebrew (endnote 25). If this were the case, we would expect to find artifacts with writings in these languages. However, the Smithsonian’s eighth statement regarding the Book of Mormon says:

“Reports of findings of ancient Egyptian, Hebrew, and other Old World writings in the New World in pre-Columbian contexts have frequently appeared in newspapers, magazines, and sensational books. None of these claims has stood up to examination by reputable scholars. No inscriptions using Old World forms of writing have been shown to have occurred in any part of the Americas before 1492 except for a few Norse rune stones which have been found in Greenland.”

B) The Book of Mormon states that the two peoples mentioned (Nephites and Lamanites) had Jewish beliefs that became Christian when the resurrected Christ appeared to them. However, there is no evidence that the ancient inhabitants in the Americas had either Jewish or Christian beliefs.

C) Hill Cumorah is located in New York, southeast of Rochester. Joseph Smith claimed that when Moroni appeared to him, he was told that Moroni’s father, Mormon, buried the gold plates upon which the Book of Mormon was based on the hill Cumorah just before the great final battle there (Mormon 6:6). In the Pearl of Great Price, Smith writes that the day after his second vision, he went to a large hill outside of the village where his family lived (the hill Cumorah) and found the gold plates (endnote 26). This identifies the hill where Smith dug up the plates as the same hill where Mormon buried them and where the great battle took place. In Mormon 6:10-15, it is claimed that hundreds of thousands of people were killed on or near the hill Cumorah during that final battle. It says that “their flesh, and bones, and blood lay upon the face of the earth, being left by the hands of those who slew them to molder upon the land, and to crumble and to return to their mother earth” (Mormon 6:15). In other words, their bodies were left there, unburied.

To help you understand the magnitude of casualties at hill Cumorah, let us consider another major battle. During the Battle of Gettysburg of the American Civil War, 55,000 soldiers were wounded, including 6,000 of them killed on the battlefield and 4,000 more whose wounds were mortal. Eyewitnesses said that there was so much blood from the dead and injured that there were parts of the battlefield that seemed like streams of blood. So many men and horses died that all could not be buried at once and many corpses were left on the battlefield until a few days later when others were hired to do the task.

If 6,000 men died on the battlefield at Gettysburg, what would a battlefield look like with hundreds of thousands dead? Since they were left unburied at hill Cumorah, wouldn’t there be some artifacts made of metal and stone? Bullets by the thousands are found at Gettysburg. Nothing, however, has been found at hill Cumorah.

University of Rochester paleontologist and stratigrapher Carl Brett has worked in the Palmyra, N.Y, area where hill Cumorah is located and is familiar with the hill and its geologic conditions. He says that if hundreds of thousands were slaughtered at the hill and not buried, there would still be skeletal remains on the surface today, even after 1,600 years. Scavengers and weather conditions would account for why much is gone, but there would still be quite enough left to look at. Metallic artifacts from weapons and armor would also be easily found (endnote 27). But nothing has ever been found at hill Cumorah.

3. Attempts by Mormons to answer the archeological problem fail.

During a series of conversations I once had with a Mormon friend and some Mormon missionaries, I turned to them in the first meeting and said that one objection I had to Mormonism was that there is no archaeological evidence to support the stories in the Book of Mormon. One of the missionaries smiled confidently and claimed there was a lot of evidence from archaeology to support the historical truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. I asked him to show me some. He said he did not have any information with him but would bring some to our next meeting. He did. Needless to say he was shocked when I quoted the Mormon scholars below who refuted the very materials he had in hand!

“Few of the writings they have produced are of genuine consequence in archaeological terms. Some are clearly on the oddball fringe; others have credible qualifications. Two of the most prolific are Professor Hugh Nibley and Milton R. Hunter; however, they are not qualified to handle the archaeological materials their works often involve” (endnote 28).

“Those volumes which most flagrantly ignore time and space and most radically distort, misinterpret, or ignore portions of the archaeological evidence are the popular Farnsworth volumes. Also inadequate, from a professional archaeologist’s point of view, are the well intentioned volumes by Milton R. Hunter and a number of smaller pamphlets and works by various authors…. New World Old World comparisons have been less popular but fraught with problems. The best known examples are the two volumes by Nibley which suffer from an overdose of Old Worlditis…. He does not know New World culture history well, and his writing ignores the considerable indigenous elements in favor of exclusively Old World patterns” (endnote 29).

“In situations where sources of religious and secular authority conflict with each other, a Latter-day Saint sometimes finds himself in a quandary. He has been assured by a folklore transmitted in lessons, talks and church literature that archaeologists (usually Gentiles) are steadily proving the Book of Mormon authentic, while through his formal education and secular literature he has become aware that in actuality the experts seem to contradict the scripture” (endnote 30).

“Science does not arrive at its conclusions by syllogism, and no people on earth deplore proof demonstration by syllogism more loudly than real archaeologists do. Yet, Mr. Jakeman’s study is nothing but an elaborate syllogistic stew. The only clear and positive thing about the whole study is the objective the author is determined to reach” (endnote 31).

Again, every one of the above are practicing Mormons. Furthermore, as mentioned earlier, BYU is owned by the Mormon Church and has a department dedicated to Book of Mormon archaeology. According to BYU anthropologist John Clark, virtually all of the professional archaeologists there admit that archaeological finds which specifically tie the past to events in the Book of Mormon are missing. These practicing Mormons call books and their authors that list sensational findings not qualified, inadequate, and speculative.

Some Mormons will respond that these archeologists do not represent the official church position, so their opinions are not credible. But why trivialize and dismiss the findings of the overwhelming consensus of practicing Mormons who are professional archaeologists, yet accept, without question, the official Mormon Church position? Could it be that the ground’s silence is indicative of a Mormon Church position that is false? After all, if it is false, silence from archaeology is precisely what we might expect to find.

It is fair to mention that professional Mormon archaeologists claim there is general confirmation of the Book of Mormon from archaeology, citing peoples existing where it is thought Book of Mormon peoples may have existed. This general confirmation, however, does not show that the Mormon picture of history is true. These same archaeologists (Johnson, Clark) admit that conclusions regarding the findings are pure speculation. The issue is not, “Did people exist in the Americas between 600 B.C. through A.D. 400?” We know that they did. The issue is, “Can we identify these civilizations as the ones mentioned in the Book of Mormon?” And the answer from virtually all professional Mormon and non-Mormon archaeologists alike is no.

In the last part of this series we saw that the Hebrew and Greek manuscripts in our possession today allow us to have an accurate translation of the Bible. Therefore, even by Mormon standards, we can be confident that we have the Word of God. We also saw that secular history has attested to the accuracy of the Bible so that we can know with certainty that many of the events recorded in it took place. Unfortunately, the Mormon cannot have this same confidence when it comes to the Book of Mormon. Archaeology and secular history are silent when asked if the events took place. Not only is this silence disturbing to professional Mormon archaeologists, but it is evidence against Mormonism when no artifacts turn up in areas which should be abundant with relics such as the hill Cumorah. However, as damaging as these may be, Mormonism’s greatest challenge concerns another one of their scriptures, the Book of Abraham, which will be the subject of the next part in this series.
–30–
Mike Licona is the director of apologetics & interfaith evangelism at the Southern Baptist North American Mission Board.

ENDNOTES

20 Dr. Ray Metheny, Professor of Anthropology, BYU. Address at the Sixth Annual Sunstone Theological Symposium, Salt Lake City, 8/25/84.

21 Dr. Dee Green, Former Editor of the University Archaeological Society Newsletter “Book of Mormon Archaeology: The Myths and the Alternatives,” in Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, 4, No. 2 (Summer 1969), pp. 77-78.

22 Dr. David Johnson, Professor of Anthropology, BYU. In a personal telephone conversation, 7/23/97.

23 Dr. John Clark, Professor of Anthropology, BYU. In a personal telephone conversation, 7/25/97.

24 Copies of the reply letters from the National Geographic Society and Boston University were provided by Jim and Judy Robertson of Concerned Christians.

25 Mosiah 1:4; Mormon 9:32-33. Also see Joseph Smith. History 1:64.

26 Joseph Smith. History, verses 51-52. Hill Cumorah is located in Manchester, N.Y., about 25 miles east of Rochester. Smith lived in Palmyra, about five miles away from the hill.

27 A personal telephone conversation on September 8, 1997.

28 John L. Sorenson, Assistant Professor of Anthropology & Sociology, BYU. Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, 1, No. 1 (Spring 1966), pp. 145-246.

29 Dee Green, General Officer, Univ. Archaeological Society. Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, 4, No. 2 (Summer 1969), p. 74.

30 John L. Sorenson, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, 4, No. 2 (Summer 1969), p. 81.

31 Dr. Hugh Nibley, quoted by Dee Green. Book of Mormon Archaeology, p. 75.

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Occultic and Masonic Influence in Early Mormonism By Joel B. Groat

The evidence of Joseph Smith’s close connection to occultism and Freemasonry, and how this influenced the origin and development of the LDS Church is not well known outside of scholarly circles. This article summarizes the evidence for Joseph’s personal involvement in both Freemasonry and occultism, and their influence on the Mormon religion.

“There is absolutely no question in my mind that the Mormon ceremony which came to be known as the Endowment, introduced by Joseph Smith to Mormon Masons, had an immediate inspiration from Masonry.”
— Dr. Reed Durham, LDS Historian

Mormonism’s Link to Occultism

Both Joseph Smith and his father were involved in the occult practice known as “money digging.” This involved special rituals and ceremonies which were performed for the purpose of obtaining buried treasure thought to be guarded by evil spirits. Accounts of money digging during the late 1700s and early 1800s are documented in Alan Taylor’s article “Treasure Seeking in the American Northeast, 1780-1830”, published in American Quarterly, 38 [Spring 1986], pp. 6-34. This article specifically mentions Joseph Smith, Sr., and Jr., on pages 10-12, giving examples of their money digging activities. LDS seminary teacher Grant Palmer also documents the Smith family’s occult beliefs and practices, as well as those of their close associates, in his book An Insider’s View of Mormon Origins, (SLC, Signature Books, 2002, pp. 175-195).

Joseph’s Involvement in Occultism. Joseph Smith, Jr.’s role in the quest for treasure was especially important since he had a seer stone. Joseph would place this small, special rock in his hat then pull the hat up to his face to block out all light. By doing this he claimed he could see supernaturally, and would help those who were digging by locating the place where the treasure was buried and observing the spirits that were guarding it. Joseph Jr., himself admitted to being a money digger, though he said it was never very profitable for him (History of the Church, V. 3, p. 29). He and his father’s money digging continued until at least 1826. On March 20th of that year Joseph was arrested, brought before a judge, and charged with being a “glass-looker” and a disorderly person. The laws at that time had what was known as the “Vagrant Act.” It defined a disorderly person as one who pretended to have skill in the areas of palmistry, telling fortunes or discovering where lost goods might be found. According to court records Justice Neely determined that Joseph was guilty, though no penalty was administered, quite possibly because this was a first offense (Inventing Mormonism, Marquardt and Walters, SLC: Signature Books, 1994, pp. 74-75).

Occultism and the Start of Mormonism. Shortly after this Joseph discontinued money digging but kept his seer stone. It was with the seer stone that he claimed to both find the plates and later produce the Book of Mormon. This was known by early converts but has since been replaced with later accounts of an angelic visitor. This transition was aided by downplaying the fact that Moroni was a dead Indian warrior, and by referring to him as an angel. Former BYU professor and historian D. Michael Quinn writes:

During this period from 1827 to 1830, Joseph Smith abandoned the company of his former money-digging associates, but continued to use for religious purposes the brown seer stone he had previously employed in the treasure quest. His most intensive and productive use of the seer stone was in the translation of the Book of Mormon. But he also dictated several revelations to his associates through the stone (Early Mormonism and the Magic World View, D. Michael Quinn, Signature Books, SLC, 1987, p. 143.

This fact is supported by LDS author Richard S. Van Wagoner who found,

This stone, still retained by the First Presidency of the LDS Church, was the vehicle through which the golden plates were discovered and the medium through which their interpretation came (Sidney Rigdon: A Portrait of Religious Excess, Signature Books, SLC, 1994, p. 57).

Thus we see that historians have documented a continuity between Joseph’s early occultic practices and the origins of Mormonism. This link extends to the development of the LDS Temple ceremony.

Occultic Parallels in the LDS Temple Ceremony. Historian D. Michael Quinn has done extensive research on rites and ancient mysteries related to occultism. He states,

By drawing only on authorized descriptions of the endowment by LDS leaders, I believe it is possible to see within historical context how the Mormon endowment reflected the ancient and occult mysteries far closer than Freemasonry (Early Mormonism and the Magic World View, p. 186).

Quinn then outlines the following ten essential characteristics common to both occult rituals and the Mormon Temple ceremonies:

  • They are revealed by God from the beginning, but distorted through apostasy.
     
  • They place an emphasis on the worthiness of initiates.
     
  • They include washings and anointings, a new name and garments
     
  • They emphasize vows of non-disclosure.
     
  • There are both “lesser” and “greater” rituals.
     
  • They feature presentation of the ritual through drama.
     
  • They contain an oath of chastity requiring strict purity and virtue of the participants.
     
  • They feature prominent use of the sun, moon and stars as key symbols.
     
  • The purpose of the ritual is to assist mortals to attain to godhood.
     
  • They employ titles and offices of prophets, priests and kings to those in leadership.

After presenting this material Quinn comments,

To be sure Masonic rituals also shared some similarities with the ancient mysteries, but these were not linked to any concept of heavenly ascent, which was fundamental to both the occult mysteries and to the Mormon endowment. Therefore, what similarities may exist between Freemasonry and Mormonism seem more appropriately to be regarded as superficial, whereas the ancient occult mysteries and the Mormon endowment manifest both philosophical and structural kinship. (Ibid., p. 190).

Mormonism and Masonry

Masonry’s influence on Mormonism and Joseph Smith has been noted by a number of historians. Some of the areas impacted by Masonic lore and ritual include the Book of Mormon, Joseph’s personal life, and the LDS temple ceremony.

Masonic Themes Related to the Book of Mormon. John L. Brooke in his book The Refiner’s Fire: The Making of Mormon Cosmology, 1644-1844, noted the following in reference to the story of the discovery of the gold plates and the narrative structure of the Book of Mormon:

Freemasonry provides a point of entry into this very complex story. As it had been in Vermont, Masonic fraternity was a dominant feature of the cultural landscape in Joseph Smith’s Ontario County …. The dense network of lodges and chapters helps explain the Masonic symbolism that runs through the story of the discovery of the Golden Plates. Most obviously, the story of their discovery in a stone vault on a hilltop echoed the Enoch myth of Royal Arch Freemasonry, in which the prophet Enoch, instructed by a vision, preserved the Masonic mysteries by carving them on a golden plate that he placed in an arched stone vault marked with pillars, to be rediscovered by Solomon. In the years to come the prophet Enoch would play a central role in Smith’s emerging cosmology. Smith’s stories of his discoveries got more elaborate with time, and in June 1829 he promised Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer and Martin Harris that they would see not only the plates but other marvelous artifacts: the Urim and Thummim attached to a priestly breastplate, the ‘sword of Laban,’ and ‘miraculous directors.’ Oliver Cowdery and Lucy Mack Smith later described three or four small pillars holding up the plates. All of these artifacts had Masonic analogues.

… Smith’s sources for these Masonic symbols were close at hand. Most obviously, Oliver Cowdery would have been a source, given that his father and brother were Royal Arch initiates; one Palmyra resident remembered Oliver Cowdery as ‘no church member and a Mason.’ … A comment by Lucy Mack Smith in her manuscript written in the 1840s, protesting that the family did not abandon all household labor to try ‘to win the faculty of Abrac, drawing magic circles, or sooth-saying,’ suggests a familiarity with Masonic manuals: the ‘faculty of Abrac’ was among the supposed Masonic mysteries (Refiner’s Fire, Cambridge University Press, 1994, pp. 157-158).

However, it wasn’t until later in life that Joseph’s involvement became more personal.

Joseph’s Personal Involvement in Freemasonry. Mormon Apostle John A. Widtsoe stated:

Many of the Saints were Masons, such as Joseph’s brother Hyrum, Heber C. Kimball, Elijah Fordham, Newel K. Whitney, James Adams, and John C. Bennett …. With the acquiescence of the Prophet, members of the Church already Masons petitioned the Grand Master of Illinois for permission to set up a lodge in Nauvoo …. it was March 15, 1842, before authority was given to set up a lodge in Nauvoo and to induct new members. Joseph Smith became a member (Evidences and Reconciliations, 1 volume, pp. 357-358).

Joseph Smith admitted to being a Mason in his History of the Church, volume 4, page 551. Under the date of March 15, 1842 it reads: “In the evening I received the first degree in Free Masonry in the Nauvoo Lodge, assembled in my general business office.” The record for the next day reads, “I was with the Masonic Lodge and rose to the sublime degree” (page 552).

How did Joseph’s Masonic membership affect the development of the Mormon Church? The most significant area appears to be in the development of the Mormon temple ceremonies. As noted above, Joseph became a Mason on March 15, 1842 and “rose to the sublime degree” the following day. Less than two months later, on May 4, 1842, Joseph introduced the temple endowment ceremony (History of the Church, Vol. 5, pp. 1-2).

Masonry and Mormon Temple Ceremonies. The pervasive influence of Freemasonry in Mormon Temples is expressed well by LDS historian Dr. Reed Durham. Dr. Durham, who has served as president of the Mormon History Association, provides a number of interesting parallels between the two. He gives these as evidence for Masonry’s clear influence on Mormonism.

I am convinced that in the study of Masonry lies a pivotal key to further understanding Joseph Smith and the Church. . . . Masonry in the Church had its origin prior to the time Joseph Smith became a Mason …. It commenced in Joseph’s home when his older brother became a Mason. Hyrum received the first three degrees of Masonry in Mount Moriah Lodge No. 112 of Palmyra, New York, at about the same time that Joseph was being initiated into the presence of God . . The many parallels found between early Mormonism and the Masonry of that day are substantial…

I have attempted thus far to demonstrate that Masonic influences upon Joseph in the early Church history, preceding his formal membership in Masonry, were significant. However, these same Masonic influences exerted a more dominant character as reflected in the further expansion of the Church subsequent to the Prophet’s Masonic membership. In fact, I believe that there are few significant developments in the Church, that occurred after March 15 1842, which did not have some Masonic interdependence. Let me comment on a few of these developments. There is absolutely no question in my mind that the Mormon ceremony which came to be known as the Endowment, introduced by Joseph Smith to Mormon Masons, had an immediate inspiration from Masonry. This is not to suggest that no other source of inspiration could have been involved, but the similarities between the two ceremonies are so apparent and overwhelming that some dependent relationship cannot be denied. They are so similar, in fact, that one writer was led to refer to the Endowment as Celestial Masonry.

It is also obvious that the Nauvoo Temple architecture was in part, at least, Masonically influenced. Indeed, it appears that there was an intentional attempt to utilize Masonic symbols and motifs …

Another development in the Nauvoo Church, which has not been so obviously considered as Masonically inspired, was the establishment of the Female Relief Society. This organization was the Prophet’s intentional attempt to expand Masonry to include the women of the Church. That the Relief Society was organized in the Masonic Lodge room, and only one day after Masonry was given to the men, was not happenstance …. included in the actual vocabulary of Joseph Smith’s counsel and instructions to the sisters were such words as: ancient orders, examinations, degrees, candidates, secrets, lodges, rules, signs, tokens, order of the priesthood, and keys; all indicating that the Society’s orientation possessed Masonic overtones.

…. I suggest that enough evidence presently exists to declare that the entire institution of the political kingdom of God, including the Council of Fifty, the living constitution, the proposed flag of the kingdom, and the anointing and coronation of the king, had its genesis in connection with Masonic thoughts and ceremonies …. it appears that the Prophet first embraced Masonry, and, then in the process, he modified, expanded, amplified, or glorified it …. The Prophet believed that his mission was to restore all truth, and then to unify and weld it all together into one. This truth was referred to as ‘the Mysteries,’ and these Mysteries were inseparably connected with the Priesthood …. Can anyone deny that Masonic influence on Joseph Smith and the Church, either before or after his personal Masonic membership? The evidence demands comments …

There are many questions which still demand the answers …. if we, as Mormon historians, respond to these questions and myriads like them relative to Masonry in an ostrich-like fashion, with our heads buried in the traditional sand, then I submit: there never will be ‘any help for the widow’s son’ (Mormon Miscellaneous, October 1975, pp. 11-16, as cited in Changing World of Mormonism, Jerald and Sandra Tanner, 1981, pp. 546-547).

These statements demonstrate that much of the religious ritual within Mormonism finds its origin in both occultism and Freemasonry. It is not surprising that there is an overlap between occultism and Freemasonry within Mormonism since Masonry itself draws from occult lore and ritual. What becomes obvious is that Joseph neglected the Bible’s clear prohibition regarding occult involvement. This is found in Deuteronomy 18:9-12 which states in part,

… thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations. There shalt not be found among you any one that … useth divination, or is an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits [demons], or a wizard, or a necromancer [one who communicates with the dead]. For all that do these things are an abomination unto the LORD.


Resources

The following resources contain a more extensive treatment of Joseph Smith’s magical and occultic practices and worldview:

John L. Brooke, The Refiner’s Fire: The Making of Mormon Cosmology, 1644-1844, Cambridge University Press, NY, 1994, 421 pages. This non-Mormon author is an associate professor in the Department of History at Tufts University.

Grant H. Palmer, An Insider’s View of Mormon Origins, (Signature Books, SLC, 2002, 281 pages). Palmer is an LDS seminary teacher and three-time director of LDS Institutes of Religion in California and Utah.

D. Michael Quinn, Early Mormonism and the Magic World View, Signature Books, SLC, revised and enlarged edition 1998, 646 pages. This work is comprehensive and thoroughly documented. The author is a former BYU professor and one of the most respected historians of Mormonism.

Jerald and Sandra Tanner, Mormonism, Magic and Masonry, Utah Lighthouse Ministry, SLC, 1983, 97 pages. This former Mormon husband and wife research/publishing team are well-known for their carefully documented critiques of Mormonism.

http://www.irr.org/mit/masonry.html

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