The Book of Mormon

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If your life is not in jeopardy for what you believe, you’re probably on the wrong side!

Please Note Well — It is not my intent to belittle, unduly criticize, or “bash” anyone who may hold religious persuasions or opinions other than my own. Even though I may absolutely and totally disagree with your opinion, I will defend to the death your God-given right to hold it. Since this website was originally launched in 1995, I have continually held the position that I am not “anti-”anybody; I am only pro-Truth [click here for the definition of “Truth”].

    I firmly believe that it can be proven with absolute certainty that the Bible, and the Bible only, is the revealed Word of God, and is the standard by which all knowledge and opinion must be judged. Information on this website that concerns non-Biblical religious beliefs is provided for the sole purpose of comparing those beliefs with the Revealed Truth of the Bible. I also attempt to demonstrate how far the Body of Messiah has drifted from its Jewish origins. We earnestly await the return of Messiah and the “Restoration of All Things” as promised by the prophets. If you disagree with my position, please click this link before emailing me.

The Book of Mormon[1]

According to one account[2], Joseph Smith claimed that on the night of September 21, 1823, when he was seventeen years old, an angel appeared to him and stated that gold plates were buried in the Hill Cumorah in Palmyra, NY. The angel stated that the plates contained “an account of the former inhabitants of this continent,” and that they also contained “the fullness of the everlasting Gospel.” Four years later, on Sept. 22, 1827, he received the plates, and sometime later he began to “translate” them. The “translation” was published in 1830 under the title of The Book of Mormon.

The Mormon Apostle Orson Pratt made this statement concerning the Book of Mormon:

“The Book of Mormon claims to be a divinely inspired record, … it professes to be revealed to the present generation for the salvation of all who will receive it, and for the overthrow and damnation of all nations who reject it.

“This book must be either true or false. If true, it is one of the most important messages ever sent from God. ... If false, it is one of the most cunning, wicked, bold, deep-laid impositions ever palmed upon the world, calculated to deceive and ruin millions.

“The nature of the message in the Book of Mormon is such, that if true, no one can possibly be saved and reject it; if false, no one can possibly be saved and receive it.

“If, after a rigid examination, it be found an imposition, it should be extensively published to the world as such; the evidences and arguments on which the imposture was detected, should be clearly and logically stated, that those who have been sincerely yet unfortunately deceived, may perceive the nature of the deception, and be reclaimed, and that those who continue to publish the delusion, may be exposed and silenced, not by physical force, neither by persecutions, bare assertions, not ridicule, but by strong and powerful arguments — by evidences adduced from scripture and reason. ...

“But on the other band, if investigation should prove the Book of Mormon true ... the American and English nations ... should utterly reject both the Popish and Protestant ministry, together with all the churches which have been built up by them or that have sprung from them, as being entirely destitute of authority.” (Orson Pratt's Works, “Divine Authenticity of the Book of Mormon,” Liverpool, 1851, pages 1-2.)

It is the responsibility of the Bible-believing world to accept Orson Pratt’s challenge and the clear direction of Scripture to “examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good. (1Thess. 5:21). If our examination of the Book of Moromon proves it to be the word of God, we must accept its authority for our lives.

On the other hand, if the Book of Moromon is shown to be in error in any way, the Scripture is clear in its instruction for us:

“If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes true, concerning which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods (whom you have not known ) and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams; for the LORD your God is testing you to find out if you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall follow the LORD your God and fear Him; and you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, serve Him, and cling to Him. But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has counseled rebellion against the LORD your God who brought you from the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of slavery, to seduce you from the way in which the LORD your God commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil from among you. (Deut. 13:1-5, NAS)

The Witnesses

Joseph smith claimed that after the Book of Mormon was “translated” he returned the gold plates to the angel. Therefore, there is no way for us to know if there really were any gold plates or whether the translation was correct.

Joseph Smith did, however, have eleven men sign statements in which they claimed that they had seen the plates. The testimonies of these eleven men are recorded in the forepart of the Book of Mormon in two separate statements. In the first statement (titled “The Testimony of Three Witnesses”) Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and Martin Harris claimed that an angel of God showed the plates to them. This “testimony” is signed by Christian Whitmer, Jacob Whitmer, Peter Whitmer, Jr., John Whitmer, Hiram Page, Joseph Smith, Sr., Hyrum Smith, and Samuel H. Smith.

The second statement (“The Testimony of Eight Witnesses”) is signed by eight men who claimed to see the plates, although they did not claim that an angel showed the plates to them.

The Mormon Church claims that the “witnesses” to the Book of Mormon never denied their testimony. There are, however, at least two statements in Mormon publications which would seem to indicate that the witnesses had some doubts. Brigham Young, the second President of the Mormon Church, stated:

“Some of the witnesses of the Book of Mormon, who handled the plates and conversed with the angels of God, were afterwards left to doubt and to disbelieve that they had ever seen an angel. One of the Quorum of the Twelve — a young man full of faith and good works, prayed, and the vision of his mind was opened, and the angel of God came and laid the plates before him, and he saw and handled them, and saw the angel and conversed with him as he would with one of his friends; but after all this, he was left to doubt, and plunged into apostasy, and has continued to contend against this work. There are hundreds in similar condition.” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 7, p. 164)

The “testimony” of Oliver Cowdery is apparently in question, as suggested by this poem which appeared in an official Mormon publication in 1841:

“Amazed with wonder”, I look around
   To see most people of our day,
Reject the glorious gospel sound,
   Because the simple turn away,
Or does it prove there is no time,
   Because some watches will not go?
Or prove that Christ was not the Lord
   Because that Peter cursed and swore?
Or Book of Mormon not his word
   Because denied, by Oliver?"
     — “Times and Seasons,” vol.2, p. 482.

This poem is speaking of Oliver Cowdery, the first of the “three witnesses,” who had apostatized from the Mormon Church. Martin Harris, the third of the “three witnesses,” is called a wicked man in Doctrine and Covenants, the second most important book of Mormon “scripture” (D&C 3:12-13; 10:6-7). The second of the “three witnesses,” David Whitmer is described by Joseph Smith in particularly colorful language for a “prophet”:

“God suffered such kind of bearing to afflict Job — but it never entered into their hearts that Job would get out of it all. This poor man who professes to be much of a prophet, has no other dumb ass to ride but David Whitmer, to forbid his madness when he goes up to curse Israel” (History of the Church, Vol. 3, p. 228).

Four pages later, Joseph says of four of the “eleven witnesses”:

“Such characters as McLellin, John Whitmer, David Whitmer, Oliver Cowdery, and Martin Harris are too mean to mention; and we had liked to have forgotten them” (History, Vol. 3, p 232).

It would seem that they had gotten themselves involved in theft, possession of stolen property, counterfeiting, “swearing falsely to injure the characters and property of innocent men, stealing, cheating, lying, instituting vexatious lawsuits, selling bogus money, and also stones and sand for bogus” (official letter from the church at large, dated June 1838, quoted in Senate Document, Feb. 15, 1841, pp. 6-9).

Hiram Page, one of the “eight witnesses,” was condemned by both Apostle John A. Widtsoe and George Q. Canon, a member of the First Presidency, for using a seer stone, or peep stone, an occult device similar to a crystal ball used for fortune telling. Joseph Smith himself admitted that Hiram Page gave false revelations through this stone and that the other “witnesses,” especially the Whitmer family, were influenced by those false revelations. In History of the Church, Joseph Smith wrote:

“To our great grief, however, we soon found that Satan had been lying in wait to deceive, and seeking who he might devour. Brother Hiram Page had in his possession a certain, by which he bad obtained certain ‘revelations’ concerning the upbuilding of Zion, the order of the Church, etc., all of which were entirely at variance with the order of God’s house, … the Whitmer family and Oliver Cowdery, were believing much in the things set forth by this stone, we thought it best to inquire of the Lord concerning so important a matter; …” (Vol. 1, pp. 109-110).

The revelation that Joseph received concerning this matter is recorded in D&C 28:11:

“And again, thou shalt take thy brother, Hiram Page, between him and thee alone, and tell him that those things which he bath written from that stone are not of me, and that Satan deceiveth him.”

Source of the Book of Mormon [3]

On March 20, 1826, Joseph Smith was tried and convicted by a justice of the peace in Bambridge, New York, for the crime of “glass looking.” According to an article in “Fraser's Magazine” (Feb. 1678, pp. 229-230),

Joseph “had a certain stone which he had occasionally looked at to determine where hidden treasures in the bowels of the earth were; that he professed to tell in this manner where gold mines were a distance under ground, that he had occasionally been in the habit of looking through this stone to find lost property for three years, but of late had pretty much given it up on account of its injuring his health, especially his eyes, making them sore; …”

Mormon historian B. H. Roberts confirms the fact that Joseph’s family was involved with the occult:

“Yes, the Prophet’s ancestors were credulous in that some of the believed that they were healed of bodily ailments by the power of faith in God. Others had dreams, as their neighbors had, ... It may be admitted that some of them believed in fortune telling, in warlocks and witches ... Indeed it is scarcely conceivable how one could live in New England in those years and not have shared in such beliefs. To be credulous in such things was to be normal people” (A Comprehensive History of the Church, Vol. 1, pp. 26-27).

Martin Harris, one of the “three witnesses” to the Book of Mormon, made this statement concerning Joseph’s stone:

“These plates were found at the north point of a hill two miles north of Manchester village. Joseph had a stone which was dug from the well of Mason Chase, twenty-four feet from the surface. In this stone he could see many things to my certain knowledge. It was by means of this stone he first discovered these plates.”

Joseph’s father-in-law, Isaac Hale, said:

“I first became acquainted with Joseph Smith, Jr. in November, 1825. He was at that time in the employ of a set of men who were called ‘money diggers’ and his occupation was that of seeing, or pretending to see by means of a stone placed in his hat, and his hat closed over his face. In this way he pretended to discover minerals and hidden treasures. ... Soon after this I was informed they had brought a wonderful Book of Plates down with them. ... The manner in which he pretended to read and interpret, was the same as when he looked for the money-diggers, with the stone in his hat, and his hat over his face, while the Book of Plates were at the same time hid in the woods!” (“The Susquehanna Register”, May 1, 1834).

David Whitmer, one of the “three witnesses” to the Book of Mormon, frankly admitted that Joseph Smith placed the “seer stone” into a hat to “translate” the Book of Mormon:

“I will now give you a description of the manner in which the Book of Mormon was translated. Joseph would put the seer stone into a hat, and put his face in the hat, drawing it closely around his face to excluded the light; and in the darkness the spiritual light would shine. A piece of something resembling parchment would appear, and on that appeared the writing” (An Address To All Believers In Christ, by David Whitmer, page 12).

_______________

  1. Extracted from Mormonism - Shadow or Reality, by Gerald and Sandra Tanner. Salt Lake City, Modern Microfilm Company, 1972, Chapter 5, pp 50-54. [RETURN]

  2. The reason that I say “according to one account” is that there are several different “official” versions that have been published by the LDS. [RETURN]

  3. Gerald and Sandra Tanner, op. cit., chapter 4, pp. 32 ff. [RETURN]

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