Evasive Ignorance: Anti-Mormon Claims that B.H. Roberts Lost His Testimony

Brigham Henry Roberts (1857-1933) was the most prolific and arguably the most effective defender The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has had. Well-known for the Church histories he edited and wrote,1 Roberts continues today to be thought of as one of the Church’s premier “Defenders of the Faith.” In an effort to undermine and erode the confidence and beliefs of members of the Church, some critics try to portray Elder Roberts as having lost his faith in Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon in his later years. The purpose of this paper is to explain the background and analyze the evidence relating to this claim, and to show that those making this claim consciously ignore or fail to deal with abundant and compelling evidence that refutes it. Others who make this claim may be ignorant of the details and evidence to the contrary, but it’s clear that Elder Roberts maintained his strong belief in the Book of Mormon and remained a powerful witness to its divine origins and historicity until he died in 1933. The emphasis some anti-Mormons place on alleging that Elder Roberts abandoned his belief in the Book of Mormon actually reveals just how intellectually bankrupt and ineffective attempts to discredit the Book of Mormon have been, leaving these critics to resort to portraying a prominent general authority as a closet-doubter as a means of raising doubts in people’s minds.

The controversy centers around three studies Elder Roberts made in the 1920s that examined potential attacks on the Book of Mormon.2 Interestingly, while anti-Mormons allege that these papers contain Roberts’ anguished doubts and disillusionment with the book of Mormon, the papers themselves are almost never quoted. Instead, critics overwhelmingly rely on the interpretations of Sterling McMurrin and Brigham Madsen that appear in the introductory material in Studies of the Book of Mormon, the title under which Roberts’ three studies were published.

Despite their abuse by anti-Mormon critics, Roberts’ manuscripts “Book of Mormon Difficulties: A Study,” “A Book of Mormon Study,” and “A Parallel” do not record “Roberts’ personal struggle with his waning confidence in the Book of Mormon.”3 Claiming this intentionally or ignorantly does not consider Roberts’ own explanation of their purpose and intent, which is conveniently recorded in the material in Studies of the Book of Mormon. Those making this claim are unaware of Roberts’ explanations of these manuscripts, or worse, they deliberately ignore them. A thorough reading of the transcripts of Roberts’ studies in their context reveals that they were written, as Roberts said they were, to describe potential future lines of attack on the Book of Mormon in order to equip “future Defenders of the Faith” to respond to them, not as a frenzied cry for help from a man who had lost his faith in the Book of Mormon.

Nowhere, even in his unpublished manuscripts printed in Studies of the Book of Mormon, does Roberts intimate that “he became more and more disillusioned with the Book of Mormon,” that he “eventually concluded that Joseph Smith wrote the Book of Mormon himself — that he did not translate it from gold plates,” or that he “had to admit the evidence proved Joseph Smith was a plagiarist.”4 Such statements are irresponsible and have no support from Roberts’ own statements.

B.H. Roberts’ Own Explanation

B.H. Roberts requested a special conference of the General Authorities of the Church late in 1921 to discuss how the Church would respond to attacks on the Book of Mormon based on ethnological, scientific, historical, anthropological, and philological approaches. Roberts correctly anticipated the future influence of secular humanism and the effect it would have on people’s faith in the historicity of the scriptures, including the Bible. He requested the conference, not because of a crisis of faith, but because he felt that the Brethren needed to be made aware of potential future lines of attack and formulate a response. In his letter requesting the conference, Roberts explained:

I assure you that I am most thoroughly convinced of the necessity of all the brethren herein addressed becoming familiar with these Book of Mormon problems, and finding the answer for them, as it is a matter that will concern the faith of the Youth of the Church now as also in the future, as well as such casual inquirers as may come to us from the outside world.5

Ever concerned with how attacks on the Church affect “the faith of the Youth of the Church … as well as such casual inquirers as may come to us from the outside world,” Roberts outlined in “Book of Mormon Difficulties: A Study” the difficulties that modern scientific consensus presents to certain Book of Mormon details. Page after page is spent quoting various authorities ad nauseum to show that modern scientists do not support Book of Mormon migrations, various domesticated animals, the use of iron or steel, or a Middle-Eastern origin for the indigenous peoples of the Western Hemisphere. It is clear that Roberts is simply cataloguing “for the information of those who ought to know everything about it pro et con” what challenges academia will present to the Book of Mormon, and not assenting with their opinions. For example, he quotes John Fiske, a prominent author who dealt with science and religion, in a lengthy excerpt from his The Discovery of America, in which Fiske speaks condescendingly of those who still believe in the “Noachian Deluge.” Fiske describes the Americas as being inhabited “since the earliest Pleistocene times,” and Roberts comments:

It follows, of course, that if North America, as Mr. Fiske observes, ‘has been continuously inhabited by human beings since the earliest Pleistocene times, if not earlier,’ then man has been an inhabitant of North America from a period between 240,000 and 80,000 years ago.6

Both pro and anti-Mormons agree that this does not represent B.H. Roberts’ actual beliefs regarding the time frame of North American inhabitation, for he both rejected Darwinism and believed the scriptures to be strictly literal. “240,000 and 80,000 years ago” was far outside the time frame he believed in for the peopling of the world, let alone the Americas. Sterling McMurrin, in his biographical essay in Studies of the Book of Mormon, chides Roberts and the Mormons for their “inability to escape the yoke of a sometimes abject biblical literalism:”

Nevertheless, partly because of the failure by Roberts to appreciate fully the findings of biblical scholarship, the Mormons even today are in general the victims of traditional patterns of biblical thought that often tie them to an outworn and intellectually frustrating scriptural literalism. Despite Roberts’ rather high level of historical and theological sophistication, he failed to distinguish effectively history from myth and legend in the biblical writings, accepting literally such accounts as the Garden of Eden and flood stories of Genesis.7

“Book of Mormon Difficulties: A Study” is simply a survey of anthropological, historical, geological, and scientific opinions that conflict with the Book of Mormon account which Roberts sought to bring to the attention of the General Authorities of the Church. He did not assent with them, but he correctly predicted that future attacks on the Church would attempt to make use of such testimony, and he sought to make the presiding authorities aware of them so that the Church would be better prepared to engage them. Roberts no more believed the criticisms of the Book of Mormon he raised than he believed the geological or evolutionary evidence he cited. His point was to highlight these future challenges to the Book of Mormon that would have to be effectively answered and dealt with.

Critics make much of Roberts’ “disappointment” with the results of the conference, but this disappointment wasn’t because “he came to realize he had spent a lifetime defending something which he now knew was a fraud,”8 but because to him the Brethren did not have the proper amount of concern over the potential of attacks along those lines. In his letter to President Grant following the conference, Roberts explained:

I just wanted the brethren to know that I was quite disappointed in the results of our conference, but not withstanding I shall be most earnestly alert upon the subject of Book of Mormon difficulties, hoping for the development of new knowledge, and for new light to fall upon what has already been learned, to the vindication of what God has revealed in the Book of Mormon; but I cannot be other than painfully conscious of the fact that our means of defense, should we be vigorously attacked along the lines of [these] questions, are very inadequate.9

This is not the expression of “abandonment” critics make it out to be. Roberts very presciently sensed that the Church needed to prepare itself to meet attacks “along these lines,” and this likely greatly influenced the work of later scholars such as Hugh Nibley, Sidney B. Sperry, and FARMS. His challenging questions that repeatedly pepper the copious quotations in the study are a challenge for the Brethren, not a frenzied cry for help:

We place our revealed truths in the Book of Mormon against the alleged facts resulting from the investigations of Ethnologists and Philologists and the deductions of their science, and calmly await the vindication we feel sure that time will bring to the Book of Mormon. Much could be said for the boldness and perhaps for the honesty of such an answer, but is the reasonableness or wisdom of such an answer equally apparent? It would certainly have no effect upon the educated class throughout the world. It would only excite ridicule and contempt in them. It would be the answer of fanatics prompted by, and only possible because of ignorance, they would say. What would be the effect of such an answer upon the minds of our youth? Our youth, already so willing to follow in so many other branches of learning the deductions of the sciences in their high school and college courses. Is silence the best answer? Is silence possible in such a questioning age as ours—-such an age of free inquiry? May the questions propounded to us be ignored? Would not silence be looked upon as a confession of inability to make an effective answer? Would not silence be a confession of defeat?10

What shall our answer be then? Shall we boldly acknowledge the difficulties in the case, confess that the evidences and conclusions of the authorities are against us, but notwithstanding that, we take our position on the Book of Mormon and place its revealed truths against the declarations of men, however learned, and await the vindication of the revealed truth? …What will the effect be upon our youth of such a confession of inability to give a more reasonable answer to the questions submitted, and the awaiting of proof for final vindication? Will not the hoped for proof deferred indeed make the heart sick? … Again I ask, is silence our best answer? And again the question comes, can we remain silent in our age of free inquiry? …These questions are put by me at the close of this division of the ‘study’ not for self-embarrassment, surely, nor for the embarrassment of others, but to bring to the consciousness of myself and my brethren that we face grave difficulties in all these matters, and that if there is any way by which we may ‘find wisdom, and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures’—-for I am sure that neither an appeal to the books written by men, nor even to the books of scripture now in our possession, will solve our present difficulties—then a most earnest appeal should be made to that source of wisdom and knowledge, and with a faith and persistence that will admit of no denial.11

If we cannot, what is to be the effect of it all upon the minds of our youth? What is to be our general standing before the enlightened opinion of mankind? Is silence to be our answer? Again will occur to thoughtful minds the difficulties attendant upon silence. In the last analysis of things silence would be acknowledgement of defeat. Silence in an age of free inquiry is impossible. An appeal to the old writers is of little value. The recent accepted authoritative writers leave us, so far as I can at present see, no ground of appeal or defense—-the new knowledge seems to be against us. To stand up and say to the modern world we place our revealed truth against all the evidence and deductions of your science, and await the vindication of new evidence yet to be discovered, is heroic; but is it, and will it be convincing? Most humbly, but also most anxiously, I await the further development of knowledge that will make it possible for us to give a reasonable answer to those who question us concerning the matters herein discussed.12

After the conclusion of the conference early in 1922, Elder Roberts wrote a more detailed study entitled “A Book of Mormon Study.” Its approach, as Sterling McMurrin observed, was different from Roberts’ previous defensive works:

In the heretofore unpublished manuscripts “Book of Mormon Difficulties: A Study” and “A Book of Mormon Study,” [Roberts] treated the book [of Mormon] critically and forthrightly rather than defensively.13

This difference in purpose from his earlier writings has led critics to proclaim that these catalogues of possible future lines of attack represent Roberts’ actual statements of belief. This claim willingly or ignorantly ignores what B.H. Roberts said about this study. In a letter to President Heber J. Grant dated March 15, 1922, Roberts recounted the January conference and explained:

My answer was, however, that it was my intention to go on with the consideration to the last analysis. Accordingly, since the matter was already so far under my hands, I continued my studies, and submit herewith the record of them. I do not say my conclusions, for they are undrawn. In writing out this my report to you of those studies, I have written it from the viewpoint of an open mind, investigating the facts of the Book of Mormon origin and authorship. Let me say once and for all, so as to avoid what might otherwise call for repeated explanation, that what is herein set forth does not represent any conclusions of mine. This report herewith submitted is what it purports to be, namely a ‘study of Book of Mormon origins’ for the information of those who ought to know everything about it pro et con, as well as that which has been produced against it, and that which may be produced against it. I am taking the position that our faith is not only unshaken but unshakable in the Book of Mormon, and therefore we can look without fear upon all that can be said against it. While searching for the answers to the questions of Mr. Couch submitted through Mr. William E. Riter, I came in contact with the material here used, and concluded that while the subject was fresh in my mind to make it of record for those who should be its students and know on what ground the Book of Mormon may be questioned, as well as that which supports its authenticity and its truth… I am very sure that you will find the material herewith submitted of intense interest, and it may be of very great importance since it represents what may be used by some opponent in criticism of the Book of Mormon. [Emphasis added] 14

Roberts was primarily concerned with potential future attacks along these lines, and the Church’s response to them. The crux of the matter is his statement in the letter that he is “taking the position that our faith is not only unshaken but unshakable in the Book of Mormon, and therefore we can look without fear upon all that can be said against it.” This is what made B.H. Roberts so effective in defending the Church and discomfiting its enemies: proceeding from an unshakable faith, he was able to engage attacks head-on, neither holding back nor avoiding potentially difficult issues. Yet, it is this frankness in acknowledging what could be said by an opponent that prompts critics to proclaim that his faith had been fatally shaken.

“A Parallel,” the third manuscript that critics claim records “Roberts’ personal struggle with his waning confidence in the Book of Mormon,” is an eighteen-page handwritten comparison of possible parallels between the Book of Mormon and Ethan Smith’s View of the Hebrews.15 In a 1927 letter to Apostle Richard R. Lyman, Roberts explained:

I thought I would submit in sort of tabloid form a few pages of matter pointing out a possible theory of the Origin of the Book of Mormon that is quite unique and never seems to have occurred to anyone to employ, largely on account of the obscurity of the material on which it might be based, but which in the hands of a skilled opponent could be made, in my judgment, very embarrassing.16

Roberts states in the letter that his purpose in compiling “A Parallel” was to point out how “it could be urged that the [Smith] family doubtless had [View of the Hebrews] in their possession,” noting that the question of whether View of the Hebrews supplied the structural outline and some of the content for the Book of Mormon

may possibly arise some day, and if it does, it would be greatly to the advantage of our future Defenders of the Faith if they had in hand a thorough digest of the subject matter… Let me say also, that the Parallel that I send to you is not one fourth part of what can be presented in this form, and the unpresented part is quite as striking as this that I submit. [Emphasis added]17

Note carefully that Roberts does not express consternation that this theory is true, but that he is concerned about the future potential of such an approach by unfriendly critics. His aim is to provide “our future Defenders of the Faith … a thorough digest of the subject matter.” Although Roberts here plainly states his reasons for compiling “A Parallel,” and indirectly “A Book of Mormon Study,” these writings are cited by critics as evidence of his “waning confidence” in the Book of Mormon! The correspondence between Roberts and Church authorities is published with the transcripts of the studies, so critics who fail to deal with Roberts’ statements expose themselves to charges of carelessness, or worse, dishonesty. This point cannot be over-emphasized. At best, critics have pounced on this perceived opportunity to embarrass the Church and perhaps shake the faith of some, without checking to see if Roberts elaborated or clarified his purposes in writing the studies. However, one may legitimately question whether these critics were aware of Roberts’ statements and deliberately chose to suppress them so that their claims would seem more valid.

Anticipating, as he said, potential future attacks on the Book of Mormon, Roberts spoke for purposes of the study as a critic of the Book of Mormon. He was aware that this approach could be misconstrued or misused by enemies of the Church, as indicated by his comments in the correspondence transcribed in Studies of the Book of Mormon. Roberts told his daughter, Elizabeth Skolfield, that “A Book of Mormon Study” was “written for presentation to the Twelve and the Presidency, not for publication …” 18As with “Book of Mormon Difficulties: A Study,” Roberts wrote many things in “A Book of Mormon Study” that are obviously not his views, but are given as possible future attacks. For example, he writes at one point:

“Ethan = Ether

In taking leave of the Jaredites and this Book of Ether, one word more, this name ‘Ether.’ Rather an unusual name is it not? I do not find it among Bible names nor in any list of proper names of the unabridged dictionaries so far consulted. Could it be that it was a variation made from the name ‘Ethan’ of Mr. Smith’s name–author of the View of the Hebrews? Ethan = Ether! Not impossible, at least; and the more likely since Mr. Ethan Smith in his View of the Hebrews, in the very pages describing the journey of his Israelites uses such a changing in words to get the northward journey of his Israelites established — as might readily suggest a change from ‘Ethan’ to ‘Ether,’ as follows: ‘The writer’ (Esdras) proceeds to speak of the region being called ‘Asrareth,’ [sic] or ‘Ararat.’ … ‘But Ararat, or Armenia, lay north of the place where the ten tribes were planted’ (p. 75), which amounts to this:

‘Arsareth’ [sic] changed to ‘Ararat.’

‘Ararat’ changed to ‘Armenia.’

Why not someone else, influenced by such a suggestion, have it —

‘Ethan’ changed to ‘Ether?’

Do not take the idea too seriously, however, it is merely a passing suggestion of a bare possibility.”19

In another place, Roberts quotes from View of the Hebrews as follows:

The Great Spirit offered Quetzalcoatl beverage which, while it rendered him immortal, inspired him with a taste for traveling, and with an irresistible desire of visiting a distant country called Tlapallan.

He then writes:

On the appearing of the Christ to the Nephites in the New World after his resurrection and departure from Jerusalem the first words he addressed to them were: ‘Behold, I am Jesus Christ, whom the prophets testified shall come into the world; and behold, I am the light and the life of the world. And I have drunk out of that bitter cup which the Father hath given me [emphasis Roberts’] … Relative to ‘his taste for traveling,’ and ‘an irresistible desire of visiting a distant country,’ did it inspire the following incident in the life of the Book of Mormon Messiah? [then follows the excerpt from 3 Nephi dealing with Christ visiting his “other sheep, which are not of this fold.”] … All this indicated intention of movement on the part of the Book of Mormon Messiah might well arise from Quetzalcoatl’s ‘taste for traveling’ and his ‘irresistible desire of visiting a distant country.’20

Does anyone really want to argue that Roberts seriously believed that Joseph Smith derived the Book of Mormon name “Ether” from “Ethan,” because Ethan Smith suggested that “Arsareth” became “Ararat” and then later “Armenia?” Or that he held the account of Christ visiting the Western Hemisphere recorded in the Book of Mormon to have been inspired by Ethan Smith writing that “The Great Spirit offered Quetzalcoatl beverage which … inspired him with a taste for traveling, and with an irresistible desire of visiting a distant country called Tlapallan?” Truman G. Madsen perhaps expressed it best when he said that “[‘A Book of Mormon Study’] was not intended to be balanced. A kind of lawyer’s brief of one side of a case written to stimulate discussion in preparation of the defense of a work already accepted as true, the manuscript was anything but a careful presentation of Roberts’ thoughts about the Book of Mormon.”21 Roberts’ probing examination of the Book of Mormon in “A Book of Mormon Study” is valuable to modern-day “Defenders of the Faith,” as it calls attention to difficulties that they should be prepared to engage and explain. In no case does it represent the frenzied admission that “the evidence proved Joseph Smith was a plagiarist.”22

The Roberts “Disillusionment” Claim Versus B.H. Roberts’ Words and Deeds

The claim that Roberts became disillusioned with the Book of Mormon is untenable in the face of B.H. Roberts’ actual writings and speeches, both private and public. This is especially true of the last decade of his life, the time period when Spencer insists that “he came to realize he had spent a lifetime defending something which he now knew was a fraud.” Sterling McMurrin, in his biographical essay in Studies of the Book of Mormon, concedes that:

Roberts’ ‘A Book of Mormon Study’ must speak for itself. But those interested in the author’s conclusions set forth in the manuscript should not neglect the statements affirming his belief in the authenticity of the Book of Mormon that appear in the letters that are a part of the controversy that resulted from a reading of the manuscript by Church officials. The contrast of his manuscript, composed as an attempt to come to grips with a basic problem that he apparently believed would yield to scholarly analysis, with his affirmation, in the heat of controversy, of his faith that the objective foundation of Mormonism is not to be doubted raises the interesting question of what Roberts did in fact believe about the Book of Mormon in his latest years. That he continued to profess his faith in the authenticity of the book seems to be without question, despite the strong arguments and statements in his study that would appear to explicitly express a conviction that it is not authentic. (emphasis added) 23

Brigham Madsen likewise comments that Roberts’ works were not those of a man who had lost his faith in the Book of Mormon, noting Roberts’ treatment of the Book of Mormon while serving as president of the Eastern States Mission from 1922 to 1927:

During the last six years of his life is there any evidence that Roberts still retained his faith in the authenticity of the Book of Mormon, despite his critical examination of the origin of the book? The record is mixed. In his public statements he was still the defender of the faith. For example, at the semi-annual conference of the Church in April 1928 he was reported to have ‘defended the Book of Mormon as the word of God … [and] closed his address by bearing an impressive testimony to the divinity of the Church.’ And a year before his death in 1933 he penned an article for the Atlantic Monthly on ‘What College did to My Religion,’ in which he declared that God would ‘complete His work of the New Dispensation of the fullness of times. It will never be destroyed, nor its work be given to another people.’ But in a sermon in April 1929 he sounded rather enigmatic as he said, ‘I rejoice at the prominence given the Book of Mormon in this Conference. It is, however, only one of many means in letting God’s work be known to the world.’ He then ‘told of an experience where the Doctrine and Covenants was instrumental in converting a friend, after the Book of Mormon had failed’ … Finally, in a 1932 article, ‘Joseph Smith: An Appreciation,’ the fire and conviction of his youth came through as Roberts confessed his love and respect for Joseph Smith, as an admirer ‘who believes in him without reservation’… Whether or not Roberts retained his belief in the Book of Mormon may never be determined. In his last conference address of April 1933 he referred to the Book of Mormon as ‘one of the most valuable books that has ever been preserved, even as holy scripture.’ But in his ‘A Book of Mormon Study,’ Roberts presents an intense and probing evaluation of the possibility that…View of the Hebrews furnished a partial framework for Joseph Smith’s written composition… 24

While pursuing his investigations of the origins of the Book of Mormon in his spare time, he nevertheless ran a vigorous missionary campaign during the five years he was president of the mission. He established a mission school to ensure that his missionaries were well prepared to present the gospel message, and he sent them out into rural areas on ‘summer campaigns,’ away from their comfortable winter lodgings ‘in the spirit of adventure to extend our borders… Let there be no retreating, nor growing listless, nor weary in well doing. This is the heroic part of your mission. This is where you display manhood or prove that you have none…Be you brave and persistent, and remember, Emmanuel!’ …He used the Book of Mormon as a chief means of winning converts, announcing in one letter to his missionaries ‘that it has survived all the ridicule and mockery of those who have scorned it…and that its voice is testimony of the Christ as Eternal God.’ (emphasis added) 25

Critics’ meager treatment of the studies, which are supposed to reveal a tortured and doubting Roberts, instantly raises questions about claims about the studies, and this suspicion is strengthened by critics’ over-reliance on the opinions of cultural and nominal Mormons who don’t believe the official Church version of its origins. The introductory material in Studies of the Book of Mormon reveals the mindsets of McMurrin, Madsen, and critics who ultimately want the claims against Roberts to be true. While admitting that Roberts gave every indication that his belief in the Book of Mormon was as solid as it always had been, they refer to his Book of Mormon studies as evidence of his struggling faith in it; yet, they don’t go into any meaningful detail about specific examples from the studies that demonstrate this “disillusionment!” This is revealing: Book of Mormon critics shrug off too easily Roberts’ emphatic and clear explanations of his Book of Mormon studies and his unquestionable public support for the Book of Mormon, while selectively emphasizing perceived evidence of private doubt in the Book of Mormon.

The prominence, whether acknowledged or evident, critics give the introductory essays in Studies of the Book of Mormon demands special attention. In his pamphlet, James Spencer stresses that Studies of the Book of Mormon “is edited by two Mormon scholars,” and his intent is clearly to hint that “Mormon scholars” support his shocking allegations. No one familiar with his writings would classify Sterling McMurrin as an active, believing Mormon. 26 McMurrin insists in his biographical essay that Roberts had an unsophisticated view of Christian and Mormon origins, by which he meant that he accepted uncritically the orthodox explanations for both while failing to sufficiently acknowledge cultural and environmental influences. 27 Brigham Madsen, 28 Spencer’s other “Mormon scholar” who edited Roberts’ studies, notably misrepresents Roberts in his introduction in a manner that is difficult not to see as unintentional. Regarding B.H. Roberts, Madsen wrote:

For years he had felt “cribbed, cabined, and confined in Utah” and had once written a journalist friend, Isaac Russell in New York City, about being “hampered by the restrictions which our peculiar conditions impose on all such workers and which grows no better so far as I can see with the elapse of time.” He expressed his discomfort further and explained his own way of dealing with the problem by quoting from a letter he had received from another young friend who had left Utah for the East: “One of my objects, I might say, my chief object in leaving Salt Lake was that I might avoid if possible, causing pain to my friends and family by openly announcing my spiritual and intellectual independence and freedom from what had become bondage I could no longer endure.”29

As written, this supports the Madsen, McMurrin, and Signature Books’ view that Roberts was a dissident closet doubter who struggled under the stifling anti-intellectual hierarchy in Utah. However, the actual letters Roberts wrote to Isaac Russell are quite different from how Madsen portrays them:

If I were capable of envy I should envy you for two reasons; one is that you are young and your opportunities in a world wide field have come to you, it will be your own fault if you don’t make a great success of your life. You are to be congratulated, just now, that you are not cribbed, cabined, and confined in Utah.

Truly I was glad to hear from you and of your continued good fortune in journalism and the sense of freedom and achievement which your letter plainly exhibits. I congratulate you and assure you that you have no occasion to be envious of anyone in Utah laboring along the same lines but hampered by the restrictions which our peculiar conditions impose on all such workers and which grows no better so far as I can see with the elapse of time. But which on the contrary seems to be extending to those engaged in other pursuits. For instance: in a letter from one of our choicest young men, specializing in art work in the East, I have the following: “One of my objects, I might say, my chief object in leaving Salt Lake was that I might avoid if possible, causing pain to my friends and family by openly announcing my spiritual and intellectual independence and freedom from what had become bondage I could no longer endure.”

I was perfectly delighted with what you had to say on the Barry article …30

This desire to show that Roberts lost faith in the Book of Mormon despite the evidence highlights the dissonance of those who promote the “abandonment” claim, and the timidity with which they grapple with this evidence invariably follows their insinuations. For example, despite his demagogic pamphlet, James Spencer concludes:

What was the final resolution for Brigham H. Roberts? No one can say for sure. However, I am afraid for him. I fear that this giant intellectual, who could stand against the presidents of the Church and call the Apostles to task, committed intellectual suicide… We cannot be sure what his final conclusions were because he died before he could resolve these issues. However, the evidence indicates that B.H. Roberts was so steeped in the deception of Mormonism that he was unable to escape its spiritual hold.31

Anti-Mormons’ timid conclusions while claiming that Roberts lost his testimony are a tacit admission that this claim is not supported by the facts.

Evidence From the Last Years of Roberts’ Life

It is superfluous to attempt to exhaustively quote from B.H. Roberts’ talks and writings during the last decade of his life, in order to demonstrate that he repeatedly and forcefully testified of the truth of the Book of Mormon and its claimed origins. Anyone, friend or foe to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who actually has read his books, letters, articles and speeches from this period would concede that his works don’t contain a trace of dissonance or doubt in the divinity of the Book of Mormon; they are undisputedly supportive of the Book of Mormon as a divine record. Some prominent examples:

B.H. Roberts’ autobiography. A typescript of Roberts’ autobiography, entitled Life Story of B.H. Roberts, resides in the B.H. Roberts Collection of the Marriott Library of the University of Utah. It was published in 1990 by Gary Bergera (Signature Books) as The Autobiography of B.H. Roberts. This personal history was begun “eight or nine months before his death in September 1933,”32 so it is among the very latest of his works. This very interesting account is very supportive of the Book of Mormon and contains no traces of evidence that support the claim that his belief in the book was wavering at this time in his life.

The Truth, the Way, the Life. Written between 1927 and 1932, it is widely considered by scholars to be Roberts’ finest theological work. Roberts dictated that this work belonged to the Church, and all three drafts were given to the Church by the Roberts family upon his death in 1933. Broad and far-ranging in scope, it was an attempt by Roberts to crystallize the theology of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints into one work. Concerning how this work bears on the Roberts claim, John Welch wrote:

Those who might have hoped that this work would reveal a new side of Elder Roberts that championed organic evolution will be let down to find that he continued to reject, to the end of his life, all scientific or naturalistic varieties of evolution (239). Those who wished to see Roberts as a friend of abortion because he claims that the spirit does not enter the body until birth should note not only his limited scriptural authority for this proposition, as noted in the committee’s [Quorum of the Twelve and the First Presidency] comments (246-47), but also Roberts’s abhorrence toward abortion expressed twice in his chapter on marriage and family (548, 553) … In TWL, Roberts goes out of his way to identify the Book of Mormon as an ancient record written by prophets who lived long ago. He repeatedly reaffirms its divine origin and antiquity … Indeed, not knowing what we as editors would encounter in the manuscripts of TWL, I was surprised to find that TWL pointedly and repeatedly asserts the antiquity of the Book of Mormon. While such affirmative statements may seem unremarkable, it is precisely that routine orthodoxy that makes them so notable. Coming from one of the great intellects of the Church, whose view about the Book of Mormon supposedly became more intellectually sophisticated in his last years, these unequivocal statements will disappoint anyone who has imagined Roberts as a closet doubter or late-in-life skeptic. TWL especially reveals how Roberts felt about the Book of Mormon after he wrote his ‘Book of Mormon Study’ in 1922. That work identified several Book of Mormon problems and called urgently for further study. Some have seen ‘Book of Mormon Study’ as evidence that Roberts had changed his views on the historicity of the Book of Mormon, but readers can now determine that Roberts did not waver in his belief because of that study.33

This work is also among the latest of Roberts’ works, as it was still being worked on in 1932.34 As a theological work, it also quotes from and treats the Book of Mormon as authoritative scripture.

Rasha the Jew: An Address to All Jews—This book deserves special notice, not only because of its publication date (1932, one year before his death), but also because of its background and contents. A former Jewish Rabbi who had converted to Christianity, Abraham Silverstein of Binghampton, New York, edited an evangelical Christian magazine entitled the Redeemed Hebrew. The magazine’s purpose was to convert Jews to Christianity, not unlike the modern “Jews for Jesus” movement. Mr. Silverstein printed a letter in the Redeemed Hebrew from “a highly learned and deeply spiritual Hebrew scholar” from Calgary, Alberta, Canada that argued, based on Old Testament scriptures, that Jesus Christ was not the Messiah. Promising to “select the best reply and publish it in separate form for wide distribution among all people at the price of cost plus postage,” the Redeemed Hebrew challenged its readers to refute the argument of “Rasha,” the pseudonym under which the letter was signed. Binghampton was a part of Elder Roberts’ jurisdiction as president of the Eastern States Mission, and the matter was brought to his attention. Elder Roberts’ reply was selected by Silverstein as the best response and was printed in the Redeemed Hebrew. Rev. Max Werthheimer, Ph.D. of Ohio, another Jew who had converted to Christianity, wrote a criticism of Roberts’ exegesis of Isaiah 26, which Roberts also responded to in the Redeemed Hebrew. Rasha the Jew is a collection of these articles, followed by Roberts’ testimony of the Restoration to the Jews.

This rarely mentioned book is a powerful witness of the divinity of the Book of Mormon and its importance to Jews in modern times. Roughly half of the 156 page book (Chapter Five: “A New Testimony for Jesus”) deals with the Book of Mormon. In the book, Roberts points out with relish that the prophecy in 2 Nephi 30:735 was prophetic of what was happening among Jews worldwide politically, socially, and spiritually; and that this prophecy, published in 1830, and Elder Orson Hyde’s dedication of Palestine in 1841 both preceded the Zionist movement. Roberts ended the book with this testimony:

“Rasha’, the Jew, and all Jews, my Message is before you:

Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, incarnated and manifested in the flesh.

Your Jehovah, incarnate is Jehovah-Christ of the New Testament and of the Book of Mormon.

Your Isaiah’s prophecy has been fulfilled (Isaiah 26:19). Jehovah came in person to earth and received the “body” there predicted; he died and was buried, as there implied; but he rose again from the dead, and many of Israel’s saints rose with him according to Isaiah’s prophecy, and St. Matthew’s testimony of its fulfillment, and the ‘earth cast out the dead’ (St. Matthew 27:50-53).

The Jehovah of the Old Testament is the Christ of the New Testament; and Jehovah-Christ is the Savior of Israel, of the Jews, of all men. There is no other Savior of the Jews or of all men, Jehovah-Christ is sole in this.

A new Witness to these truths has been brought forth. The testimony of the ancient peoples of the western world is brought to you, ‘Rasha,’ the Jew, and to all Jews. The prophets and apostles of ancient America, your kinsmen, ‘Rasha,’ speak to you through this ‘American Volume of Scripture.’ Their testimony unites with the testimony of your own Old Testament prophets and seers. Their testimony unites with the testimony of the ‘Twelve Apostles of the Lamb’–the Apostles and Witnesses of the New Testament. The Lord has spoken, ‘Rasha,’ declaring new things and reaffirming old truths.

This is my testimony:

A New Dispensation of the old gospel is proclaimed. The Church of the Living God is again organized among men. Divine authority is here, and God’s message to Judah and to the whole world is:

Accept Jehovah-Christ as the Redeemer of the World.

Believe ye in the Gospel of the Christ as the power of God unto salvation.

Repent for the hour of God’s judgment is come.

Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!

B.H. ROBERTS, President of the First Quorum of the Seventy and of all the Seventy, the Special Witnesses of God in the New Dispensation. (emphasis in the original) 36

The Wesley P. Lloyd Journal

In defending Elder Roberts against innuendo that he lost his testimony of the Book of Mormon in later life, a journal entry from one of his former missionaries in the Eastern States Mission must be considered. Wesley P. Lloyd spoke with his former mission president for three and a half hours on August 7, 1933, just forty-four days before Roberts’ death. His journal entry is used by anti-Mormons to insinuate that Roberts doubted the Church’s version of Book of Mormon origins at this point in his life. Here is the relevant portion of the entry:

The conversation then drifted to the Book of Mormon and this surprising story he related to me. That while he was Pres. of the Eastern States Mission a Logan man by the name of Riter persuaded a scholarly friend who was a student in Washington to read through and to criticize the Book of Mormon. The criticism that the student made was that at the time of the discovery of America there were fifty eight distinct languages in existence among the American Indians, not dialects but languages as different as English is from Spanish and that all human knowledge indicates that fundamental languages change very slowly whereas at the time of the Book of Mormon the people were supposed to have been speaking all one tongue. The student asked Riter to explain that proposition. Riter sent the letter to Dr. Talmage who studied it over and during a trip east asked Brother Roberts to make a careful investigation and study and to get an answer for the letter. Roberts went to work and investigated it from every angle but could not answer it satisfactorily to himself. At his request Pres. Grant called a meeting of the Twelve Apostles and Bro. Roberts presented the matter, told them frankly that he was stumped and ask for their aid in the explanation. In answer, they merely one by one stood up and bore testimony to the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. George Albert Smith in tears testified that his faith in the Book had not been shaken by the question. Pres. Ivins, the man most likely to be able to answer a question on that subject was unable to provide the solution. No answer was available. Bro. Roberts could not criticize them for not being able to answer it or to assist him, but said that in a Church which claimed continuous revelation, a crisis had arisen where revelation was necessary. After the meeting, he wrote Pres. Grant expressing his disappointment at the failure of Pres. Ivins to contribute to the problem. It was mentioned at the meeting by Bro Roberts that there were other Book of Mormon problems that needed special attention. Richard R. Lyman spoke up and ask if they were things that would help our prestige and when Bro Roberts answered no, he said then why discuss them. This attitude was too much for the historically minded Roberts. There was however a committee appointed to study this problem, consisting of Bros Talmage, Ballard, Roberts, and one other Apostle. They met and looked vacantly at one and other, but none seemed to know what to do about it. Finally, Bro Roberts mentioned that he had at least attempted an answer and he had it in his drawer. That it was an answer that would satisfy people that didn’t think, but a very inadequate answer to a thinking man. They asked him to read it and after hearing it they adopted it by vote and said that was about the best they could do. After this Bro Roberts made a special Book of Mormon study. Treated the problem systematically and historically and in a 400 type written page thesis set forth a revolutionary article on the origin of the Book of Mormon and sent it to Pres. Grant. It’s an article far too strong for the average Church member but for the intellectual group he considers it a contribution to assist in explaining Mormonism. He swings to a psychological explanation of the Book of Mormon and shows that the plates were not objective but subjective with Joseph Smith. That his exceptional imagination qualified him psychologically for the experience which he had in presenting to the world the Book of Mormon and that the plates with the Urim and Thummim were not objective. He explained certain literary difficulties in the Book such as the miraculous incident of the entire nation of the Jaredites, the dramatic story of one man being left on each side, and one of them finally being slain, also the New England flat hill surroundings of a great civilization of another part of the country. We see none of the cliffs of the Mayas or the high mountain peaks or other geographical environments of early American civilization that the entire story laid in a New England flat hill surrounding. These are some of the things which have made Bro Roberts shift his base on the Book of Mormon. Instead of regarding it as the strongest evidence we have of the Church Divinity, he regards it as the one which needs the more bolstering. His greatest claim for the divinity of the Prophet Joseph lies in the Doctrine and Covenants.37

Lloyd’s journal entry, in its entirety, chronicles a “busy and important day” for Lloyd, which included several private meetings, a family reunion, a trip into town, and his three and a half hour talk with Roberts, his former mission president. The entry describes his conversation with Roberts chronologically, with the following topics preceding the discussion of the Book of Mormon:

1. Roberts’ ordeal trying to get The Truth, the Way, the Life published by the Church. According to Lloyd, Roberts categorized former apostle Orson Hyde as “a more important and more qualified Apostle than Joseph Fielding Smith.” This portion of the entry ends with this comment:

“The battle, however, was tabled and his book remains unpublished but will be published under his own direction without Church backing if he can raise the money (He offered to resign).”

2. Roberts’ assessment of current missionary policies. Lloyd wrote that Roberts “said we were kidding ourselves in regard to its effectiveness, that the missionaries were too often going out apologetically and that our present mode of refusing to let Elders go into the field until they had a guarantee of financial backing was in opposition to the spirit of missionary work as Joseph Smith organized it.”

3. Roberts’ thoughts on Brigham Young, who, Roberts explained, “was not a logical man in the sense that Joseph Smith was logical and that our present authoritative dictatorship in Church government was an outgrowth of Brigham Young’s practice and that Joseph Smith was much more democratic.” Roberts also noted, according to Lloyd, that “when some good historian uncovers the real facts of his stand during the Johnston Army episode, some of his glory or fame will diminish.”

Discussion of these three topics accounts for almost half of the fifteen-page journal entry, with the Book of Mormon discussion accounting for the other half. This does not demonstrate that this was the proportionate amount of time spent discussing each topic; the amount of exposition Lloyd gives each topic shows the level of interest Lloyd took away from the meeting regarding these issues. Obviously, this long talk with his former mission president was interesting, to say the least.

But can critics really try to use this to demonstrate that Roberts was sharply critical of President Young? Or that he believed that the Church’s missionary program was grossly mismanaged? Why not? Roberts’ sentiments expressed second-hand through Wesley Lloyd do not negate overwhelming evidence to the contrary in Roberts’ written histories, for example, or in his discourses or conversations with people. B.H. Roberts was nothing if not brash, opinionated, combative, and even undiplomatic and untactful at times,38 and this image of Roberts is as evident as ever in this journal entry. Roberts’ negative comments here need to be seen in terms of the circumstances surrounding them. His comments about Joseph Fielding Smith, for example, are clearly related to the well-documented confrontation the two had over some of Roberts’ heterodox doctrinal opinions in his book. His comments about the “authoritative dictatorship” that he attributed to President Young and Young’s “undemocratic” nature are related to Roberts’ battle to have his book approved by the Church, and his frustration and bitterness with the administrative opposition to it. In particular, Roberts’ description of Elders Talmage, Ballard, and “one other Apostle … look[ing] vacantly at one another” is obviously an exaggeration by Roberts, who was disappointed by their lack of concern or inability to contribute. Even if these Brethren truly were as “stumped” as anti-Mormons would like to portray, they would have gamely given it more of a shot than to “look vacantly at one another” and not attempt an answer. It would be going too far, however, to use this journal entry to claim that Roberts felt that Brigham Young was corrupt or ruthless, or that he despised Elder Smith. Yet this is exactly what those seeking to undermine people’s faith in the Book of Mormon have been doing by portraying B.H. Roberts as a closet doubter: seizing on excerpts from this journal entry to give this impression, while ignoring the overwhelming evidence that refutes it.

It’s also unclear how much of what Lloyd wrote is a completely accurate representation of what Roberts said. Lloyd erroneously related in his entry that William Riter’s letter was sent “while he was Pres. of the Eastern States Mission,” and that “Dr. Talmage … during a trip east asked Brother Roberts to make a careful investigation” of the questions raised in the letter. As is well-documented, all of this happened before Roberts left for the Eastern States Mission, and given Roberts’ involvement in the studies and his presentations to the general authorities, it is highly unlikely that he could have been confused about when and how the letter was forwarded to him and where he was at the time. Lloyd was confused about this in his entry, and this makes one wonder if there are any other items in the entry that are not entirely accurate representations of what Roberts said and what his intended meanings were.

Roberts’ apparent statement to Lloyd that the Book of Mormon “needs the most bolstering” and is not “the strongest evidence we have of the Church Divinity,” even at face value is not a statement of unbelief in its divine origins. Who is there who believes more in the Book of Mormon than those today who work to “bolster” it by researching and publicizing evidences of its antiquity and origins? Recognizing that it needs “bolstering,” or solid evidences, in order to dispel the propaganda against it is not an expression of doubt or lack of faith. Similarly, stating that the “greatest claim for the divinity of the Prophet Joseph lies in the Doctrine and Covenants” is not an expression of doubt in the Book of Mormon, but an affirmation of Joseph Smith’s prophetic calling. To regard the Doctrine and Covenants as a more effective witness of Joseph Smith’s prophetic calling than the Book of Mormon, though some might disagree, is not an expression of disbelief in the book. 39

As for Lloyd stating that in their conversation, Roberts “shows that the plates were not objective but subjective with Joseph Smith. That his exceptional imagination qualified him psychologically for the experience which he had in presenting to the world the Book of Mormon and that the plates with the Urim and Thummim were not objective,” the very language Lloyd uses to describe what Roberts said closely parallels I. Woodbridge Riley’s “psychological” theory of the Book of Mormon’s origin.40 “Roberts had already rejected the ‘subjective’ psychological explanation in 1909”41 in New Witnesses for God and A Defense of the Faith and the Saints, and using similar language to describe this explanation of Book of Mormon origins to Wesley Lloyd indicates, not that he now believed this view, but that he explained to Lloyd the challenges refuting such a view might potentially pose. There is no evidence to suggest that Roberts believed at the end of his life the arguments he had refuted throughout his life.

Just what kind of an effect could there be expected to be on a young man who heard his mission president discuss “revolutionary” studies that were “far too strong for the average Church member,” especially given the mood and direction of the preceding conversation? It’s no wonder, then, that Lloyd describes Roberts as “shift[ing] his base” 42 and “swing[ing] to a psychological explanation of the Book of Mormon,” given the “revolutionary” nature of what Roberts shared with him. It appears from this account that Roberts shared with Lloyd the Book of Mormon issues he felt that the Church needed to form a better response to, and Lloyd wrote his journal entry in a way that leaves the impression that this was Roberts’ view. Anyone maintaining that Lloyd believed that Roberts had lost his faith in the Book of Mormon would have to explain why Lloyd was unaffected by this, as evidenced by subsequent journal entries and the course of his life. Wesley P. Lloyd does not give any indication after this entry of any consternation or concern on his part that his former mission president and the senior President of the First Quorum of the Seventy had lost his testimony. 43 44

Additional Considerations

Perhaps the strongest evidence that B.H. Roberts’ studies of the Book of Mormon are not an expression of his disillusionment with it is the fact that he makes absolutely no attempt in the manuscripts to answer the difficulties raised in them. Page after page in the manuscripts catalogues sundry difficulties, some unspeakably lame, in the tone of a harsh critic, with no attempt to answer them in either study. Isn’t it odd that the great B.H. Roberts, ever skilled in dealing with sophisticated attacks on the Church, does not attempt to offer any solutions or possible answers to the difficulties mentioned in the studies? Why is that? Given what he himself said about them, and what we know from studying his works, it is clear that they were written to stimulate thought and discussion, not to attempt to answer them, just as he said they were. Isn’t it manifestly unfair to hold these writings up as proof that Roberts’ faith in the Book of Mormon was shaken, and doesn’t it speak to the weakness of the anti-Mormon position that so much effort has been made to score points off of the alleged shaken faith of Mormonism’s greatest defender? In the end, Roberts was exactly right about the course that anti-Mormon attacks on the Book of Mormon would take. This had less to do with his insight and prescience, though he had plenty of both, and more to do with the awe and respect that anti-Mormons had and have for Roberts, his work, and his knack for cutting to the core of issues and attacks. Anti-Mormons have naively concluded that if B.H. Roberts thought something was a potent attack, then that must be the avenue to pursue. 45 Attacks against the Book of Mormon have largely followed the course Roberts outlined as a potential future difficulty, and believers in the Book of Mormon have largely responded very well to the “parallelomania” approach of critics who strain to show 19th century parallels to the Book of Mormon. It is especially amusing when critics try to shake people’s faith by claiming that Roberts lost his, because those making this claim have read very little, if any, of his works, and most haven’t even read the studies they claim prove their claim!

An amusing aspect of the B.H. Roberts question is the idea of trying to prove posthumously that someone was a closet doubter or dissident. A weak case could probably be made either way for devoted partisans of any side of any issue. In examining his files and papers, the author of this article found the following verbatim items, written by himself:

… There is no archaeological evidence for the Book of Mormon. Ether mentions millions dead around Ramah, but there are no bones. Iron and steel would at least leave oxides. No coins have been found (Alma 11 chapter heading and verses 4-19 mention coinage). Nothing unusual has been found around Cumorah, despite a four lane road being built at its base and extensive construction by the Church. The Church refuses to officially endorse or sanction any specific archaeological theories …

Polygamy was practiced from about 1832 to after 1890. 1835 D&C (scripture until 1876), Tim. 3:1-3, BoM condemn. Publicly lied about its practice prior to announcement in 1852 and after the Manifesto.

Fatal Changes in D&C
“Book of Commandments
6:1-3
4:2
24:37-46
26:1-8
28:1-7
44:23-29, 48-57
Doctrine and Covenants”
7
5:4
20:49-68
25:1-9
27:1-4
42:24-36, 62-73
Lectures on Faith removed in 1921

Given unrestricted access to these files and papers, a case could be made that the author harbored tortured doubts regarding Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, and the Church. This would be a false claim. The above does not represent the author’s views; rather, it represents some criticisms against the Church in the language critics couch them in, and in dealing with these criticisms, he thought it would be “greatly to [his] advantage…if [he had] in hand a thorough digest of the subject matter.” What person advocating a cause or position has not compiled what he thinks are his opponents’ strongest points, or at least points that need to be addressed? This is not a sign of wavering, but the necessary first step in disposing of an opposing argument. Wouldn’t it be interesting to see similar lists of strengths, deficiencies, and game plans anti-Mormons have made concerning their position and the Mormon position? Would selectively quoting from them out of context prove them to secretly believe that the Mormons are right?

Conclusion

Taken as a whole, the evidence does not support the assertion that B.H. Roberts lost his faith in the divine origins and translation of the Book of Mormon. In fact, examining all of the evidence in context exposes those who have sought to capitalize on this issue as either irresponsibly ignorant of key elements of the controversy, or purposely evasive and deceptive in concealing evidence harmful to this claim. Hopefully, this paper will equip people with the information and sources necessary to challenge this claim. Hopefully, it will also encouraging those who continue to claim that Elder B.H. Roberts lost his testimony of the Book of Mormon to reevaluate their failure (intentionally or ignorantly) to disclose vital information related to the question. Critics of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints often simply ignore responses to their arguments without dealing with them, as if the responses had never been made, but this ceases to be practical or wise for them once the responses receive wide circulation and awareness. The “B.H. Roberts Question” is a good example of a claim that probably would never be made if it were confined to an honest examination of the facts.46

Notes

1 Interestingly, Roberts’ Comprehensive History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (six volumes) had an apologetic origin. In 1906, Roberts had responded to an acclaimed series of four articles in the American Historical Magazine that attacked the Book of Mormon along the lines of the different “Spaulding theories.” His four articles were so effective in refuting the Spaulding manuscript theories of the Book of Mormon’s origins that these theories essentially ceased from that point on to be advocated, and David Nelke, the editor of the magazine, asked him to write a history of the Church to be published in the magazine in installments. Roberts did this, with Church sanction, and the magazine, which changed its name to Americana at that point, went from a bimonthly to a monthly to accommodate the articles. This Church history, which was later published with updates up to the year 1930 as CHC, “ran through six years of the periodical, from July, 1909, to July, 1915, averaging about forty-two pages per month” (see the introduction to CHC, volume 1).

2These studies are published in Studies of the Book of Mormon (Brigham Madsen, ed. [Salt Lake City: Signature Books], 1992).

3James Spencer, “The Disappointment of B.H. Roberts: Five Questions That Forced a Mormon General Authority to Abandon the Book of Mormon,” (1991). This tract is used by many critics who claim that Roberts lost faith in the Book of Mormon.

4 The above three quotations are all from Spencer’s “The Disappointment of B.H. Roberts.” Despite Spencer’s strong claims, almost the entire pamphlet is a summary and rewrite of McMurrin and Madsen’s introductory essays that accompany the published transcripts of Roberts’ studies. Spencer himself gives few specific examples of Roberts’ crisis of faith from his studies, leaving the reader wondering if he has actually read the studies.

5 Letter to President Heber J. Grant and Counselors, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and the First Council of the Seventy dated December 29, 1921. (Studies of the Book of Mormon, p. 47).

6 Studies of the Book of Mormon, 79.

7 Ibid, xxviii and xxiv-xxv

8 Spencer, “The Disappointment of B.H. Roberts.”

9 Letter to Heber J. Grant dated January 9, 1922 (Studies of the Book of Mormon, 50).

10 Studies of the Book of Mormon, 94.

11 Ibid, p. 115

12 Ibid, p. 143

13 Ibid, p. xvii

14 Ibid, pp. 57-58

15 Sandra and Jerald Tanner, in their photocopied View of the Hebrews sold through their Utah Lighthouse Ministry, are at great pains to push “A Parallel” as indicating Roberts’ doubts. They photocopied Roberts’ marked-up copy (from the Roberts Collection, Marriott Library Special Collections, University of Utah), include “A Parallel” in the introductory material, and remark in the introduction that “a careful reading of [“A Parallel”] would seem to indicate that B.H. Roberts had lost faith in the Book of Mormon.”

16 Studies of the Book of Mormon, 59.

17 Ibid, p. 60. Letter dated October 24, 1927.

18 The letter dated March 14, 1932 is in the possession of John Noble Henchley (Studies of the Book of Mormon, ). Truman G. Madsen’s 1983 Ensign article contains the quoted excerpt.

19 Ibid, 187.

20 Ibid, 231-232.

21 Truman G. Madsen, ” B.H. Roberts and the Book of Mormon,” Brigham Young University Studies 19 (1979): 441. Quoted by Sterling McMurrin in Studies of the Book of Mormon, xviii.

22 Spencer, “The Disappointment of B.H. Roberts.”

23 Studies of the Book of Mormon, xvii-xviii.

24 Ibid, 29-30.

25 Studies of the Book of Mormon, 25.

26 One of his more notorious statements of belief concerning the Book of Mormon was “you don’t get books from angels and translate them by miracles.” (Quoted in Blake Ostler, “An Interview with Sterling McMurrin,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 17/1 (1984): 25).

27 See Studies of the Book of Mormon, xxiii: “Roberts did not fully and properly examine and exploit the origins of Mormonism,” as well as pp. xii-xiv and xxiv: “In his Outlines of Ecclesiastical History, an early text first published in 1893, he mentioned very briefly such matters as the Jewish and Hellenistic backgrounds of Christianity… He treated altogether too casually the large cultural forces that produced Christianity and its institutions… He seems to have known too little of Greek and Roman philosophy and their bearing upon Christianity…”

28 Madsen is described in the preface to Studies of the Book of Mormon as “widely recognized for his competence as a research scholar in American history.” It is also worth noting that the preface also informs the reader that “no one was more enthusiastic in his determination to see Roberts’ studies published than [Signature Book owner] George D. Smith of San Francisco, who has special competence as a student of Roberts and his writings. Mr. Smith was persistent in his encouragement of the publication and presented his own analytical synopsis of the manuscripts to the community of Mormon scholars.” FARMS scholars and other notable believing Mormon scholars were presumably not included in the “community of Mormon scholars” that Mr. Smith “presented his own analytical synopsis” to.

29 Ibid, 24.

30 From letters Roberts wrote to Isaac Russell, a young LDS man who was a journalist for the New York Times. The first excerpt is from a letter dated October 25, 1909; the second is from a letter dated September 9, 1910. Both letters are located in the Scott Kenney Papers, Marriott Library Special Collections, University of Utah. Copies are in the author’s possession.

31 Spencer, “The Disappointment of B.H. Roberts.”

32 Gary Bergera, The Autobiography of B.H. Roberts, (Salt Lake City: Signature Books), 1990, p. xv. The original was dictated to his secretary Elsie Cook.

33 B.H. Roberts, The Truth, the Way, the Life, John Welch, ed. (Provo: BYU Studies), 1996, xx, xxvi.

34 See Welch, The Truth, the Way, the Life, p. xxxv, footnote 3.

35 B.H. Roberts, Rasha the Jew: An Address to All Jews, (Salt Lake City), 1932, p. 86. 2 Nephi 30:7 reads: “And it shall come to pass that the Jews which are scattered also shall begin to believe in Christ; and they shall begin to gather in upon the face of the land; and as many as shall believe in Christ shall also become a delightsome people.”

36 B.H. Roberts, Rasha the Jew, pp. 155-156. Roberts noted in his autobiography that he had always felt a special duty to testify of the Gospel to the tribe of Judah since an incident in Rockford, Iowa on his first mission. A Jewish merchant’s skeptical brother had expressed his unbelief in the prophecies concerning the return of the Jews to the Holy Land, and the Jewish merchant and Roberts both had testified to him that this would happen. Roberts noted:

“After more than fifty-two years after that event, I can refer my intense interest in Judah and the part that Judah will take in the New Dispensation to that circumstance … [Rasha the Jew] completed the electrical circle that made me conscious that for fifty-two years I had been subconsciously working on the problem of Judah and his connection with the New Dispensation of the Gospel. Those who are anxious to understand how important this was in my life mission will be able to discern it from the scope of [Rasha the Jew], completed in December 1932.” (The Autobiography of B.H. Roberts, p. 98).

37 From Lloyd’s journal, entry dated August 7, 1933 (Wesley Parkinson Lloyd Collection, L. Tom Perry Special Collections Library, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah. Box 1, folder 2, mss 2312). Spelling and minor grammar errors in the original have been corrected.

38 Roberts’ lack of tact extended even to himself, and one cannot always take his exaggerated, “cranky” statements at face value. In his autobiography, after conceding that “two things … stood out prominently” in his patriarchal blessing, Roberts describes it as “in the main … unsatisfactory and greatly disappointing.” (The Autobiography of B.H. Roberts, pp. 74-75). The “two things” were a special endowment of the gift of healing, and a prophecy that he would be delivered from the hands of his enemies. The entire autobiography strongly bears both of these out, and his blessing is a beautiful one that any Latter-day Saint would be overjoyed to have. Despite his pessimistic description, to claim that he actually thought it an inferior blessing is a stretch. One is left scratching one’s head over his assessment of his own blessing, but it is typical of his tendency to be hyper-judgmental and over-reactive.

39 James B. Allen notes in his essay in The Truth, the Way, the Life: “This statement hardly meant that he had lost faith in the book. Rather, his scholarly proclivities suggest that he meant exactly what he said: the Book of Mormon needed more ‘bolstering,’ more scholarly efforts to answer the questions he or others raised. Roberts also told Lloyd that ‘his greatest claim for the divinity of the Prophet Joseph Smith lies in the Doctrine and Covenants.’ If that is true, then there is just that much more evidence for the Book of Mormon itself, for the Doctrine and Covenants is replete with affirmations of the Book of Mormon.” p. 690 (see D&C 1:29; 3:17-20; 10:38-48; 19:26-27; 20:8; 24:1; 27:5; 33:16; 38:39; 42:12; 84:57; 98:32; 128:20; 135:1, 3, 4, 6).

40 I. Woodbridge Riley, The Founder of Mormonism (New York: Dodd, Mead, 1902). Riley describes “the Three Witnesses vision of the plates [as] ‘subjective hallucinations’ and … ‘subjective, not objective’ (Riley, The Founder of Mormonism, p. 226). Riley likewise speaks of the Prophet’s ‘subjective glass looking’ while translating the plates (p. 204) and claims that ‘Joseph’s condition, under the influence of his Urim and Thummim, was semi-hypnotic.’ ” (Matthew Roper, “Unanswered Mormon Scholars,” FARMS Review of Books, volume 9, Number 1, 1997, p. 107.)

41 Matthew Roper, “Unanswered Mormon Scholars, pp. 107-108. Roper notes here that “Roberts’ primary argument against this explanation was the testimony of the Eight Witnesses of the Book of Mormon who each handled the plates. Yet the 1922 study never addresses the issue of the witnesses or the objective reality of the plates—A significant omission if the study truly represented Roberts’ conclusions about the Book of Mormon. Obviously, it did not.”

42 “One who shifts his base does not abandon the battle but merely takes up a more defensible position until control of the battlefield can be regained. [John] Welch shows how Roberts ‘shifted his base’ by emphasizing the doctrinal evidences for the Book of Mormon as opposed to external evidences … with which Roberts had little experience.” (Matthew Roper, “Unanswered Mormon Scholars,” p. 108)

43 “The first bishop of the [Provo Seventh] ward was Wesley P. Lloyd. He received his Ph.D. at the University of Chicago. He was an official at the BYU for quite a few years. He gave some speeches, which are located in the BYU Library. And he gave one of the annual Joseph Smith Memorial Sermons at the Logan Institute of Religion in the 1950’s.” (Letter from Daniel B. McKinlay to the author, February 8, 2002. In the author’s possession).

Another consideration is the effect that Roberts had on his missionaries in the Eastern States Mission, since this is the time period when he was supposed to be suffering from his nagging and corrosive doubts. His missionaries revered him with more than the usual esteem that missionaries have for their former presidents. Sterling McMurrin noted that “His grave is marked by a monument erected by missionaries who had served under him in the Eastern States Mission.” (Foreword to The Autobiography of B.H. Roberts, x), and Truman G. Madsen wrote in his 1983 Ensign article that “Roberts’ missionaries have had an annual reunion for more than a half-century.” Madsen interviewed over fifty of Roberts’ former missionaries and included some of these interviews in “B.H. Roberts after Fifty Years: Still Witnessing for the Book of Mormon,” Ensign, Dec. 1983.

James Allen quotes Roberts’ secretary, Elsie Cook’s letter to President Heber J. Grant two months after Roberts’ death (November 23, 1933): ” ‘He was inspiring in everything he did,’ she wrote, ‘in his speaking as well as in his dictating the several volumes of books I helped him with’ … She remembered that her patriarchal blessing promised her that she would find ‘hidden treasures.’ ‘What I have learned from this wonderfully intellectual and spiritually powerful [man], President, are the ‘hidden treasures,’ which I perhaps could not have had otherwise.” The Truth, the Way, the Life, p. 714. Letter located in the TWL Collection, Church Archives.

44 James Allen allows that: “It is certainly possible, however, that Roberts saw the implications of what he had written and spelled them out more clearly to Lloyd in 1933. But that is still not evidence that he accepted such conclusions.” (The Truth, the Way, the Life, 717.)

45 Keep in mind that Roberts was considering approaches that were “quite unique and never seem to have occurred to anyone to employ…but which in the hands of a skilled opponent could be made…very embarrassing,” and that he felt such approaches “may possibly arise some day.” It is extremely significant that no anti-Mormons until the 20th century had explored the View of the Hebrews parallels approach. View of the Hebrews enjoyed best-seller status, especially in the area where Joseph Smith was born and grew up, yet no one, including its author, Ethan Smith, ever commented on the “striking similarities” between View of the Hebrews and the Book of Mormon. This is even more significant given that Ethan Smith vigorously rejected the ideas of modern-day revelation and scripture in addition to the Bible:

(mockingly) “Here a new decision must be given from heaven … of which schismaticks [sic] have ever been exceedingly fond; to derive some new light … directly from heaven; as though decisions already given were insufficient.” (View of the Hebrews, [1825 edition] p. 20)

“We are to expect no new revelation from heaven. And the days of miracles are thought to be past. We probably must look for just such evidence, to exhibit to the world that people so long lost, as is in fact exhibited by the natives of America.” (View of the Hebrews, 168-169.)

Given that Joseph Smith’s fame far outstripped Ethan Smith’s, why did Ethan Smith not attack the Book of Mormon as a plagiarism of his book if the parallels between the two were so striking? And why did these “parallels” become an issue only after Roberts’ studies? Did anti-Mormons assume that Roberts’ studies are the best explanation of Book of Mormon origins after the Spaulding theories were discredited?

46 B.H. Roberts wrote in 1933 (the year of his death), when critics are “confined to statements of facts against the Mormon church, [their] power is greatly reduced.” The Autobiography of B.H. Roberts, p. 168.

Suggested Reading List

Early Christian History

Abulafia, David, ed. The New Cambridge Medieval History. Vols. 5 and 7. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999.

Averill, Lloyd J. Religious Right, Religious Wrong: A Critique of the Fundamentalist Phenomenon. New York: Pilgrim, 1989.

Burckhardt, Jacob. The Age of Constantine the Great, trans. Moses Hadas. Berkeley: University of California, 1949.

Burman, Edward. The Inquisition: Hammer of Heresy. New York: Dorset, 1984.

De Rosa, Peter. Vicars of Christ: The Dark Side of the Papacy. New York: Crown, 1988.

Dodds, E. R. Pagan and Christian in an Age of Anxiety. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1965.

Dudley, Dean. History of the First Council of Nice. Brooklyn: A&B, 1925.

Foxe, John. Foxe’s Book of English Martyrs. 1554 and 1564. Reprint, Waco, Texas: Word, 1981.

Grant, R. M. Gnosticism and Early Christianity. N.p., 1959.

Hall, Stuart G. Doctrine and Practice in the Early Church. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1992.

Harnack, Adolf von. What is Christianity? Philadelphia: Fortress, 1957.

Hastings, Adrian, Alistair Mason, and Hugh Pyper, eds., The Oxford Companion to Christian Thought. New York: Oxford University, 2000.

Hatch, Edwin. The Influence of Greek Ideas and Usages upon the Christian Church. 1891. Reprint, New York: Lenox Hill, 1972.

Haught, James A. Holy Horrors. Amherst, New York: Prometheus, 1990.

Hopkins, Richard R. How Greek Philosophy Corrupted the Christian Concept of God. Bountiful, Utah: Horizon, 1998.

Jager, W. Early Christianity and Greek Paideia. N.p., 1962.

Manchester, William R. A World Lit Only by Fire: The Medieval Mind and the Renaissance. Boston: Little, Brown, 1993.

Nash, Ronald H. Christianity & the Hellenistic World. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 1984.

Nibley, Hugh W. Mormonism and Early Christianity. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book and FARMS, 1987.

Nibley, Hugh W. When the Lights Went Out. Provo, Utah: FARMS, 2001.

Outler, Albert C., ed. The Works of John Wesley. Nashville, Tenn.: Abingdon, 1986.

Skaggs, Donald. Roger Williams’ Dream for America. New York: Lang, 1993.

Smylie, James H. A Brief History of the Presbyterians. Louisville, Ky: Geneva, 1996.

Talmage, James E. The Great Apostasy. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1968.

Tappert, Theodore G., ed. and trans. Luther: Letters of Spiritual Counsel. Philadelphia: Westminster, 1955.

Wagner, Walter H. After the Apostles. Minneapolis, Minn.: Fortress, 1994.

Wills, Garry. Saint Augustine. New York: Penguin Group, 1999.

Restoration

Bickmore, Barry R. Restoring the Ancient Church. Ben Lomond, Calif.: FAIR, 1999.

Bringhurst, Newell G. Saints, Slaves, and Blacks: The Changing Place of Black People within Mormonism. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood, 1981.

Brown, Matthew B. All Things Restored. American Fork, Utah: Covenant Communications, 2000.

Carter, Kate B. The Negro Pioneer. Salt Lake City: Daughters of the Utah Pioneers, 1965.

Ludlow, Victor L. Principles and Practices of the Restored Gospel. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1992.

Newell, Coke. Latter Days: A Guided Tour Through Six Billion Years of Mormonism. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2000.

The Book of Mormon

Aston, Warren P., and Michael K. In The Footsteps of Lehi. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1994.

Cheesman, Paul R. These Early Americans: External Evidences of the Book of Mormon. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1974.

Harris, Franklin S., Jr. The Book of Mormon: Message and Evidences. Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1961.

Honore, Pierre. In Quest of the White God, trans. Oliver Coburn and Ursula Lehrburger. London: Hutchinson, 1963.

Irwin, Constance H. F. Fair Gods and Stone Faces. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1963.

Lafaye, Jacques. Quetzalcoatl and Guadalupe: The Formation of Mexican National Consciousness, 1531-1813, trans. Benjamin Keen. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1976.

Matthews, Robert J. “Why Have Changes Been Made in the Printed Editions of the Book of Mormon?” In A Sure Foundation. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1988.

Nibley, Hugh W. An Approach to the Book of Mormon. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book and FARMS, 1988.

Nibley, Hugh W. Lehi in the Desert; The World of the Jaredites; There Were Jaredites. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book and FARMS, 1988.

Nibley, Hugh W. Nibley on the Timely and the Timeless. Salt Lake City: Publisher’s Press, 1978.

Nibley, Hugh W. The Prophetic Book of Mormon. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book and FARMS, 1989.

Nibley, Hugh W. Since Cumorah. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book and FARMS, 1967.

Osborne, Harold. South American Mythology. New York: Bendrick, 1986.

Reynolds, Noel B. Book of Mormon Authorship Revisited. Provo, Utah: FARMS, 1997.

Rust, Richard D. Feasting on the Word: The Literary Testimony of the Book of Mormon. Provo, Utah: FARMS, 1997.

Skousen, Royal, ed. The Original Manuscript of the Book of Mormon: Typographical Facsimile of the Extant Text. Provo, Utah: FARMS, 2001.

Skousen, Royal, ed. The Printer’s Manuscript of the Book of Mormon: Typographical Facsimile of the Entire Text In Two Parts. Provo, Utah: FARMS, 2001.

Sorenson, John L. An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book and FARMS, 1985.

Sorenson, John L. Mormon’s Map. Provo, Utah: FARMS, 2000.

Tvedtnes, John A. The Book of Mormon and Other Hidden Books. Provo, Utah: FARMS, 2000.

Welch, John W., ed. Reexploring the Book of Mormon. Provo, Utah: FARMS, 1992.

Yorgason, Blaine M., Bruce W. Warren, and Harold Brown. New Evidences of Christ in Ancient America. Arlington, Va.: Stratford, 1999.

Joseph Smith Jr.

Anderson, Karl R. Joseph Smith’s Kirkland: Eyewitness Accounts. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1989.

Black, Susan E., and Charles D. Tate, eds. Joseph Smith, the Prophet, the Man. Provo, Utah: BYU Religious Studies Center, 1993.

Bushman, Richard L. Joseph Smith and the Beginnings of Mormonism. Urbana: University of Illinois, 1984.

Ehat, Andrew F., and Lyndon W. Cook, eds. The Words of Joseph Smith. Provo, Utah: BYU Religious Studies Center, 1980.

Hinckley, Gordon B. “Joseph the Seer.” Ensign. May 1977.

McConkie, Joseph F., and Robert Millet. Joseph Smith: The Choice Seer. Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1996.

Porter, Larry C., and Susan E. Black, eds. The Prophet Joseph: Essays on the Life and Mission of Joseph Smith. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1988.

The Prophet and His Work: Essays from General Authorities on Joseph Smith and the Restoration. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1996.

Temples

Brown, Matthew B. The Gate of Heaven. American Fork, Utah: Covenant Communications, 1999.

Brown, Matthew B., and Paul T. Smith. Symbols in Stone. American Fork, Utah: Covenant Communications, 1997.

Lundwall, N. B., comp. Temples of The Most High. Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1993.

Nibley, Hugh W. Temple and Cosmos. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book and FARMS, 1992.

Nibley, Hugh W. Temples of the Ancient World. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book and FARMS, 1994.

Parry, Donald W., and Stephen D. Ricks. The Temple in Time and Eternity. Provo, Utah: FARMS, 1999.

Apologetics

Brown, Robert L., and Rosemary Brown. They Lie in Wait to Deceive: A Study of Anti-Mormon Deception. Mesa, Arizona: Brownsworth, vol. 1, 1981; vol. 2, 1984; vol. 3, 1986; vol. 4, 1995.

Gunn, Roger S. Mormonism: Challenge and Defense. Salt Lake City: Hawkes, 1973.

Keller, Roger R. The Mormons: Fact Versus Fiction. Nashville, Tenn.: Scarritt Graduate School, 1986.

Lee, Rex E. What do Mormons Believe? Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1992.

Peterson, Daniel C., and Stephen D. Ricks. Offenders for a Word. Provo, Utah: FARMS, 1992.

Robinson, Stephen E. Are Mormons Christians? Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1991.

Scharffs, Gilbert W. The Truth about “The God Makers.” Salt Lake City: Publisher’s Press, 1989.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Hinckley, Gordon B. Standing for Something: Ten Neglected Virtues That Will Heal Our Hearts and Homes. New York: Times Books, 2000.

Hinckley, Gordon B. Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1997.

Ludlow, Daniel H., ed. Encyclopedia of Mormonism. New York: Macmillan, 1992.

McConkie, Bruce R., Mormon Doctrine. Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966.

Richards, LeGrand. A Marvelous Work and a Wonder. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1976.

Talmage, James E. Jesus the Christ: A Study of the Messiah and His Mission according to Holy Scriptures Both Ancient and Modern. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1983.

Disputatious Doctrines

Out of curiosity, I once made a list of reasons given by critics of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for their opposition. In just a few minutes I noted over fifty points of argument that I had personally read or someone had challenged me with. Some of the reasons could have been broken down to smaller concerns or objects of resistance. However, after one has seen enough of the materials and argued points of doctrine with those who unknowingly “oppose themselves” (2 Timothy 2:25), a pattern emerges that serves to simplify the process. Anti-Mormon thought has its roots in a few overarching objections. In this chapter I will focus on the seven subjects most often advanced by anti-Mormons:

  • The nature of God and the Godhead
  • The completeness and infallibility of the Holy Bible
  • The Great Apostasy, or falling away, from the original teachings of Christ
  • Modern-day revelation–prophets and priesthood
  • The Book of Mormon
  • Grace vs. works
  • Eternal progression

Many other criticisms have been made, of course; the list of fetishes against the church and its leaders seems unending. Anti-Mormons are masters at recycling old, tired, and previously answered concerns. They do not watch in faith–they only justify offense. The fact is that every anti-Mormon criticism I’m aware of has been decisively and adequately dealt with by knowledgeable scholars. That anti-Mormon writers largely ignore these responses is telling of their motives. I believe if these main doctrinal issues are put into perspective, answering the endless list of relatively frivolous matters is either easier or, hopefully, unnecessary.

The Nature of the Godhead

Evangelical Christians believe in the traditional, or historically, orthodox view of God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost combined in the same being. This definition had its foundation in a few carefully selected New Testament verses and its authentication in the Nicene Council, as has already been addressed.

The World Book Encyclopedia defines the Trinity as follows:

Trinity is a term used to express the belief that in the one God there are three Divine Persons–the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (or Holy Ghost). The idea is based on various passages in the New Testament. Belief in Father, Son, and Holy Spirit was defined by early general councils of the Christian church. The Council of Nicaea in 325 and the Council of Constantinople in 381 declared that the Son is of the same essence as the Father, and that the three Persons are one God. The East and West branches of the church later disagreed as to how the Holy Spirit proceeds from the other Divine Persons. The Eastern Church held that the Son comes from the Father, and that the Spirit comes from the Father through the Son. The Western Church held that the Spirit comes from Father and Son together. A special activity has been ascribed to each of the Persons. The Father creates, the Son became human, and the Spirit makes holy.17

Anti-Mormons argue that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not a true Christian church because it does not accept the doctrine of the Trinity as defined in the early religious councils and according to their own biblical interpretations. An evangelical Christian activist and critic of Mormonism makes the following statement in his brochure on the Trinity:

The doctrine of the Trinity, as taught in the Bible, is a vital tenet of the Christian faith. Christians universally agree upon the biblical substantiation of the Trinity so as to make it a testing ground for genuine fellowship. Those in the early Church who rejected the doctrine of One God in three persons (Father, Son and Holy Ghost) were identified as false teachers. In today’s Christianity, we need to make certain that we hold true to this biblical doctrine of God.

Outside of Christianity there are those who argue that the doctrine of the Trinity came into being through a series of church councils, beginning at the Council of Nicaea (a.d. 325). Others denounce the Trinity saying that early Christians borrowed the concept from pagan religions.18

Let me respond to the claims of these two paragraphs. The doctrine of the Trinity is only found in the Bible by interpretation–mostly by bending meanings of scriptures to fit this doctrine. The word Trinity is never mentioned in the Bible. It is not a documented ancient Christian or biblical teaching at all. Secondly, the Trinity doctrine is not universally agreed upon by Christians as a “testing ground” or as anything else. It is true that those who objected to this doctrine in the Nicene Councils were identified as false believers, but it was at best a case of the blind leading the blind. Further, there is a compelling body of research pointing to obvious importation of Greek philosophy into early Christian thought–including the importation of Trinity doctrine.

The truth is that Christian people, for the most part, do not understand the Trinity doctrine and therefore many cannot and do not believe it. Early Christian history reveals very little understanding of the nature of God or the relationship of Jesus or the Holy Ghost to God the Father. The great “Christian Fathers” of the first centuries after Christ were confused about this issue and taught and wrote conflicting ideas about the Godhead–while maintaining their testimonies of God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world.19

Even in ancient times the Trinitarian doctrine was an unexplainable mystery. Cyril of Jerusalem (315-86) advised early Christians,

For there is one Salvation, one Power, one Faith; One God, the Father; One Lord, His only begotten Son; One Holy Ghost, the Comforter. And it is enough for us to know these things; but inquire not curiously into His nature or substance: for had it been written, we would have spoken of it; what is not written, let us not venture on; it is sufficient for our salvation to know, that there is Father, and Son, and Holy Ghost.20

Here, Cyril is pleading with his converts not to fashion things from the scriptures that are not written in the scriptures–specifically, don’t trifle with nature and substance since we don’t know these things. Of course, most of the Nicene controversy dealt with the nature and substance of God–so whatever conclusions were drawn were the equivalent of two and two equaling five. Those who adopt the Nicene Creed do so because of the appeal of the mysterious. It seems that part of the attraction of this doctrine is that it cannot be fully understood.

James H. Smylie, in his book A Brief History of the Presbyterians, tries to help us understand the Trinity doctrine. He writes,

As the church took root in Hellenic soil, Christians further refined the mystery of the relation between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in philosophical terms at the Councils of Nicaea (325) and Chalcedon (451). The Christian community wisely placed the Nicene Creed within the liturgy of the church, emphasizing that God’s nature and ways are mysterious, and cannot be encapsulated in a dogmatic formula. The divine-human encounter takes place with God, One in three persons, God transcendent yet with us and for us.21

What does that mean? I have no idea. I invite anyone to untangle the words of this statement and make sense of it! While I have deep respect for those of any faith and sincerely honor their beliefs, I cannot honestly accept the conclusions of a few narrow-minded theologians and their zealous followers who exclude Latter-day Saints from Christianity based on this kind of gibberish dressed up like sound doctrine! Yet that is exactly what has happened. For example, Rev. Lawrence J. Gesy stated,

There are many groups who do much good, and their large membership and stable organization have earned them a respected place in society, but although they profess belief in the Bible, their belief system–which replaces the Christian teaching about the Trinity, three Divine Persons in One God, with the concept of three gods and other concepts foreign to mainstream Christianity–nevertheless requires that we place them in the category of non-Christian.22

Read carefully the story of the formation of the doctrine of the Trinity as contained in the New Bible Dictionary:

“As already indicated, Scripture does not give us a fully formulated doctrine of the Trinity, but it contains all the elements out of which theology has constructed the doctrine. The teaching of Christ bears testimony to the true personality of each of the distinctions within the Godhead and also sheds light upon the relations existing between the three Persons. It is left to theology to formulate from this a doctrine of the Trinity. The necessity to formulate the doctrine was thrust upon the Church by forces from without, and it was, in particular, its faith in the deity of Christ, and the necessity to defend it, that first compelled the Church to face the duty of formulating a full doctrine of the Trinity for its rule of faith. Irenaeus and Origen share with Tertullian the responsibility for the formulation of the doctrine which is still, in the main, that of the Church catholic. Under the leadership of Athanasius the doctrine was proclaimed as the faith of the Church at the Council of Nicaea (a.d. 325), and at the hands of Augustine a century later it received a formulation, enshrined in the so-called Athanasian Creed, this is accepted by Trinitarian churches to this day. After it had received a further elucidation at the hands of John Calvin it passed into the body of the Reformed faith.”23

In short, the above statement says that the doctrine of the Trinity cannot be directly found in the Bible and must be formulated by “theology,” meaning Christian scholars, and that it was advanced by Athanasius at Nicaea as a way of affirming the divinity of Christ. Then the doctrine was refined by Augustine and later by John Calvin before it became a part of the reformed or Protestant churches. Quite a confusing pedigree for such foundational doctrine. It is good that we have the scriptures to refer to in such instances.

It was the Savior who said, addressing his Father (not himself), “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3). It is nonsensical for anti-Mormons to conclude that faithful Latter-day Saints who believe and have faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and Savior of the world should be rejected from Christianity because they fail to bow to their self-devised Trinity doctrine.

The aforementioned Trinity brochure concludes with this statement:

This Bible study contains approximately 250 biblical references on the Trinity. Only space prevents the study from going deeper. A good student of the Bible will make use of a cross-reference edition of the Bible and look up additional verses to enhance this study.

Christianity rests upon the Bible as its source of doctrine. The ample amount of support contained in this tract makes the doctrine of the Trinity undeniable. Enjoy your study of God’s nature. Rejoice in Him for revealing such wonderful things in His Word.24

The Holy Bible is mute on the word Trinity, so the 250 references suggested in this tract are to biblical verses that refer to something that evangelicals refer to as the Trinity. I personally read every one of the Bible references in this brochure. None of the references teach the doctrine that God the Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost are the same essence or that they are three in one person. In fact, many of the referenced scriptures pointed to exactly the opposite of the argument! There are, indeed, a substantial number of Bible verses that make obvious reference to God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost as separate and distinct personages. Those who try to authenticate the Trinity doctrine by an appeal to the Bible have reached a conclusion for which they are in futile search of evidence.25

A study of early church history finds only oblique notions of the Trinity idea. Where a comment is made concerning the oneness of God the Father and Jesus Christ, it is doubtful that such references support the current evangelical theological meaning.26 The doctrine of the Trinity, according to Protestant Bible commentator J. Dummelow, “was the result of a long process of development, which was not complete till the fifth century or even later.”27

The first article of faith of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints states, “We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.” The church takes the stance that all three members of the Godhead are viewed as God, which agrees with the definition of the Trinity. It is the combination of the three in the same person that church doctrine, on the basis of scripture and revelation, disagrees with. Bruce R. McConkie, a late apostle of the church, defined the Godhead in this manner:

Three glorified, exalted, and perfected personages comprise the Godhead or supreme presidency of the universe. …

Though each God in the Godhead is a personage, separate and distinct from each of the others, yet they are “one God,” meaning that they are united as one in the attributes of perfection. For instance, each has the fulness of truth, knowledge, charity, power, justice, judgment, mercy, and faith. Accordingly they all think, act, speak, and are alike in all things; and yet they are three separate and distinct entities. Each occupies space and is and can be in but one place at one time, but each has power and influence that is everywhere present.28

While Elder McConkie’s explanation of the Godhead is adequate for us to understand the doctrine of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on this subject, the source of this definition is all-important. When Joseph Smith went into the grove near his home to pray regarding which church he should join, the divine vision he received was, as he described it, of “two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other–This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!” (Joseph Smith–History 1:17). When Joseph emerged from the woods on that early spring morning in 1820, he knew more about the nature of God than any other person on the earth.

Joseph Smith’s experience was a flash of light in a dark world. The mysteries of the nature of God, argued and debated by the bishops of Constantine, were struck down in an instant! The true nature of God–our Heavenly Father and his Divine Son, Jesus Christ–was manifest to the world in glory through a prophet. This is the Lord’s way: “Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7). Moreover, what Joseph Smith learned was fully consistent with biblical teaching: “But he [Stephen], being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God. And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God” (Acts 7:55-56). What did the elders and scribes do when they heard Stephen’s testimony? They immediately cried out loudly, stopped their ears, and stoned him.29When faced with truth from heaven, many modern-day scribes react in similar ways.

The Completeness and Infallibility of the Holy Bible

There are strong feelings among anti-Mormons about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints regarding the church’s eighth article of faith: “We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.” Those who hold the Bible to be the only source of divine authority and doctrine cannot accept the Book of Mormon or any other sacred writing–for obvious reasons. Unfortunately, anti-Mormons often deceitfully describe the church’s use of the Bible in unkind and untrue ways, characterizing our study of the Bible as a mere pretense of biblical Christianity–a convenient tool to mislead others. Such statements are shamefully inaccurate. Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have great respect and reverence for the Bible. It is studied in the church as the word of God and a source of truth and understanding. I love the Bible. I rejoice in its teachings and in the spirit of truth it provides. The Bible is masterful in teaching the life of Jesus Christ and is a strong testament of his role as Savior and Redeemer. But the question before us is not the power or value of the Bible but rather its completeness and infallibility.

The facts in this case are fairly evident. The Bible is not complete. It does not say it is complete (the Bible never refers to itself); in fact, it strongly suggests the existence of other sacred writings. Anti-Mormons argue that the Bible does say it is complete and that it does refer to itself. However, to them the phrase “the Word of God,” or “the Word,” refers to the Bible exclusively since it is the only scripture they will accept. When we understand that those references actually mean any word spoken by God or his prophets to the children of earth, everything changes.

A little history about the Bible may be helpful here. Many people today think of the Bible as one book, although it is in fact a collection of books, letters (epistles), and histories that have been written, rewritten, translated, and retranslated. The Bible didn’t just appear; it was assembled, disassembled, and reassembled as new ideas and new material emerged. The Muratorian Fragment of A.D. 180 did not include the books of Hebrews, James, and 1 and 2 Peter, but it did include the Apocalypse of Peter. At the same time, the Shepherd of Hermas was considered by Origen to be divinely inspired. Clement of Alexandria considered a “secret” book of Mark to be genuine. Celsus claimed that Christians altered the text of scripture and changed its character to “enable them to deny difficulties in the face of criticism.” In about A.D. 300 the church considered the books of Hebrews, James, Jude, and Revelation to be spurious. However, the Epistle of Barnabas, 1 Clement, the Shepherd of Hermas, the Acts of Paul, and the Apocalypse of Peter were admitted to the canon of scripture but later removed.30 More than a thousand years later, Martin Luther declared the biblical books of Esther, Jude, Hebrews, Revelation, and 2 Peter, among others, unworthy to be among the “true and noblest books of the new testament.” Luther considered the book of James to be “an epistle of straw,” having “no gospel quality to it.”31 Perhaps he did not approve of these books because the teachings they contained were at odds with his personal preference for the Augustinian doctrine of grace alone as the key to salvation.

The first English language Bible was published less than 500 years ago. The popular King James Version was published in 1611, the Revised King James Version in 1885, the American Translation in 1931, the Revised Standard Version in 1947, the Good News Bible and the Jerusalem Bible in 1966, the New American Bible and the New England Bible in 1970, and the Common Bible in 1973.32 How many English translations of the Bible do we need? Clearly, for many the Bible has been and continues to be an evolving scripture.

As for the question of completeness, we might consider a few referenced biblical statements for which we have no reference. Matthew 2:23 says that Jesus “came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.” Matthew is citing a text unknown to us. To which prophets does he refer? Nowhere in the Old Testament does it say that Jesus will be called a Nazarene. One of the most popular of Christian scriptures is the Savior’s statement “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” We find this quotation in Acts 20:35 as part of a statement from Paul to the elders at Ephesus. This statement from the Savior does not appear in any other book of the Bible. Paul may have read or heard this statement elsewhere and then quoted the Master’s divine words. It doesn’t bother me that neither Matthew’s nor Paul’s statement includes a footnote to another scripture. But those who argue for a complete canon of scripture in the Bible–nothing excluded–beg a serious question.

The Bible is scripture–it is the word of God and should be reverenced, studied, and appreciated for its immense contribution to the salvation of the children of God. However, the Bible has been used for both good and evil. Unprincipled peopled have used Bible verses as justification for all sorts of mischief. Others have been led into unproductive and even damning paths because they have failed to understand and apply wise interpretation to Bible statements. The Bible has been used as a weapon against righteousness by evil-disposed pastors, priests, and pagans alike. The Bible, as with any scripture or statement by any religious leader, must be carefully considered against what is known and understood about truth and salvation. It is important that all scripture be translated correctly.

I will yield to respected Protestant writer Lloyd Averill for the last word on this biblical inerrancy issue. He writes,

It is clear that Calvin cannot be identified with the scriptural literalism affirmed by present-day fundamentalists. Nor, indeed, can any other major figure in the history of Christian thought prior to 1800. Contrary to fundamentalist claims, the doctrine of biblical inerrancy as they have formulated it is not a return to primitive Christianity or to Christian orthodoxy. Rather, it was an innovation fashioned scarcely more than a hundred years ago as a weapon to be used against the modernist movement.33

The Great Apostasy

For the most part, anti-Mormons are willing to concede that at least a partial apostasy disrupted ancient Christianity. Since there are adequate references to it in the New Testament, an outright denial of an apostasy would be an extremely difficult position to maintain. As I wrote earlier, the postapostolic councils radically changed principles and practices in the church–a fact supported by recorded history and reliable apocryphal writings. An honest reading of the Bible is another, and perhaps the best, source of blatant differences between evangelical Christianity and the apostolic church. Even the Bible itself, as previously discussed, underwent substantial changes in canon. How then could the ancient church have survived when so much of its essence–including its scriptural foundation–had been lost or changed?

Perhaps the most compelling evidence for the reality of a general apostasy is in the plethora of doctrines, practices, rites, forms of liturgy, organization, belief systems, scriptural interpretations, ordinances, authority, offerings, blessings, ceremonies, days of worship, prayers, tithes, condemnations, and confessions that are now used in the various denominations of Christian churches. There is little unity among Christian churches today; they cannot agree on the most basic of issues. For example, during the day of Pentecost, people were moved by the Holy Spirit because of the truths taught by Peter and the other apostles. These people’s conversions impelled them to ask the apostles what they should do. Peter, the senior apostle, was instant in his response: “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:38). Baptism was an essential ordinance of the gospel in the early church. I invite anyone to ask five clergymen of five different Christian churches what they believe about baptism. You will find that some believe that baptism is necessary, but only for adults. Others believe that everyone, including little children, must be baptized or they will be damned. Still others profess that baptism is nice but not really necessary. To some, baptism is a “work” and is therefore contrary to the doctrine of grace without works. You might ask a follow-up question about how and by whom baptism should be performed or how this gift of the Holy Ghost is to be received. Then ask a young missionary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints the same questions. He or she will give instant, authoritative answers–the same that Peter gave the people at Pentecost.

Paul’s profound teachings to the saints at Ephesus are instructive:

He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive. (Ephesians 4:11-14)

Here Paul lays out the necessary offices and organization of the church established by Jesus Christ for the perfecting of the saints (church members). Is such an organization needed today? Well, have we come to a “unity of the faith” and an understanding of the “fulness of Christ”? Or are the children of the earth tossed to and fro and carried about by every wind of doctrine?

The apostasy occurred, as had been foreseen, because those in authority–the apostles ordained by Jesus Christ, who had the power to reorganize and regenerate the church–were taken from the earth. According to legend, all but one, John the Beloved, were killed. John received a promise from the Lord that he would not taste of death until the Savior returned. This last apostle, the only person on the earth who still held the priesthood keys to the kingdom of God on the earth, was banished to the isle of Patmos for eight years in about a.d. 91. It was during this exile that he received the vision recorded in the book of Revelation.

At the conclusion of his banishment, John returned to Ephesus, where he wrote his three New Testament epistles.34 The death of the apostle Peter is traditionally given as a.d. 64. The accepted commencement of St. Linus’s reign as Roman Catholic Pope is a.d. 67.35 But where, during all of this, was John the Beloved, the only living apostle of Jesus Christ on the earth? The answer to this question has not been revealed, but the next few centuries confirmed that an apostasy had occurred. A form of Christianity was still practiced, but the authority and organization of the church as established by Jesus Christ did not remain. The falling away was complete.

Modern-day Revelation

Latter-day Saints believe in God, the Eternal Father, and affirm that we are his literal spiritual offspring. We believe that he lives and that he is involved in the lives of his children. We believe that our Heavenly Father has a divine plan for his children through the principles and ordinances of the gospel of his Son, Jesus Christ. We believe that God cares as much for his children in the modern day as he did for those in other ages. We believe that he communicates individually with his children and generally to all the world through authorized representatives called prophets, who are set apart to instruct, encourage, counsel, admonish, and warn God’s children according to their changing needs. For these beliefs, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are condemned, ridiculed, and excluded from mainstream Christianity.

Evangelical critics condemn the church for its affirmation of modern-day prophets and revelation. The basic reason for this condemnation is their conviction that the Bible is the only source of divine information and authority. Critics believe that God has spoken and need not speak again, and that the scriptural canon is complete–that adding to it in any way is heresy. Paul D. Wegner, author of The Journey from Texts to Translations, tells of the origin and development of the Bible, and pronounces the scriptural canon closed, adding that “once the apostles died, no more could be added to the collection of their writings.” He then explains that it took a significant amount of time to actually figure out what belonged in the Bible and what didn’t–but he doesn’t share with us by what authority the selection was made. Then, he denounces Joseph Smith Jr. as a false prophet because Joseph claimed new revelation!36

Thomas Huxley once wisely observed, “It is the customary fate of new truths to begin as heresies.”37 The validity of Huxley’s statement can be seen in the treatment of the prophets by those they are sent to enlighten. The scriptures testify that prophets of God are conspired against, stoned, mocked, betrayed, imprisoned, ignored, persecuted, murdered, and reviled. This pattern has been in place since the world began, but God has never failed to send his prophets when his children went astray (see Amos 3:7). From time to time God’s word becomes so polluted that he must initiate a new dispensation of truth. The word dispensation translates from the Greek oikonomia, meaning the manner in which a steward orders the affairs of his or her household. In other words, because of the disobedience of his children, our Heavenly Father occasionally needs to set the affairs of his kingdom and family in order; this ordering is the act of restoring truth. The Bible indicates that such a restoration would be necessary in the latter days, and the ancient apostles knew it. They longed to know when the time would come when all things would be revealed to the children of men. “When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6). Peter, looking forward to the time when the Lord Jesus Christ would return and reestablish his word, instructed the Jews at the temple, “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began” (Acts 3:19-21). How would such a restoration take place? What would be included in the promised “restitution of all things”?

The Book of Mormon–A Marvelous Work and a Wonder

Joseph Smith was only a little over fourteen years of age when he received what is now called the First Vision. He knew the reality of what he saw even if he didn’t comprehend the full import of the divine spectacle or the enormity of his sacred calling. However, according to his own account, he was troubled by feelings of inadequacy. He felt himself “guilty of levity, and sometimes associated with jovial company, … not consistent with that character which ought to be maintained by one who was called of God” (Joseph Smith–History 1:28). These feelings, coupled with the increase in faith gained from his earlier experience, caused him to seek out the God of Heaven on 21 September 1823, in “prayer and supplication … for forgiveness of all my sins and follies, and also for a manifestation to me, that I might know of my state and standing before him; for I had full confidence in obtaining a divine manifestation, as I previously had one” (Joseph Smith–History 1:29).

In answer to his prayer, Joseph was visited by an angel named Moroni who had been sent from the presence of God with a message–God had work for him to do. Joseph records that the angel added,

My name should be had for good and evil among all nations, kindreds, and tongues, or that it should be both good and evil spoken of among all people. He said there was a book deposited, written upon gold plates, giving an account of the former inhabitants of this continent, and the source from whence they sprang. He also said that the fulness of the everlasting Gospel was contained in it, as delivered by the Savior to the ancient inhabitants.” (Joseph Smith–History 1:33-34)

Thus was the Book of Mormon introduced as a part of the promised dispensation of the fulness of times. I will leave to the records and published histories of the church to explain the circumstances of how Joseph came to possess and interpret the ancient plates. The critical point is that the book was translated by the gift and power of God; it was the “marvellous work and a wonder” spoken of by Isaiah (Isaiah 29:14). The Book of Mormon is a delight to honest seekers of truth, and a stumbling block to those who have neither eyes to see nor ears to hear.

Like moths to a flame, anti-Mormons and critics are drawn to the Book of Mormon in large numbers. This book of scripture is the central testament of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, yet it has been the focus of antagonism and scorn from the day it was received. Moths, however, do not fare well in flames, and those who wish to find fault with the book and its message usually end up looking for another area of “Mormonism” to attack. Apparently, the Book of Mormon is easier to ignore than discredit. Ancient American prophets, who wrote and abridged the original manuscript, were privileged to see the day when the Book of Mormon would come forth. They knew, through the spirit of prophecy, how the book would be received by those blinded by the apostasy. The prophet Nephi recorded this vision:

And because my words shall hiss forth–many of the Gentiles shall say: A Bible! A Bible! We have got a Bible, and there cannot be any more Bible. But thus saith the Lord God: O fools, they shall have a Bible; and it shall proceed forth from the Jews, mine ancient covenant people. … Thou fool, that shall say: A Bible, we have got a Bible, and we need no more Bible. Have ye obtained a Bible save it were by the Jews? Know ye not that there are more nations than one? Know ye not that I, the Lord your God, have created all men, and that I remember those who are upon the isles of the sea; and that I rule in the heavens above and in the earth beneath; and I bring forth my word unto the children of men, yea, even upon all the nations of the earth? (2 Nephi 29:3-4, 6-7)

Clearly, the world’s reaction to the Book of Mormon was correctly predicted.

Anti-Mormons have a choice when faced with accounting for the existence of the Book of Mormon. They can accept the explanation and testimony of Joseph Smith or they can try to show that it was a product of his imagination (or someone else’s). Joseph was not the dimwitted bumpkin he was made out to be by early anti-Mormons. Neither was he an archaeologist, scriptorian, historian, botanist, military genius, or master of any other honored discipline needed to construct a complex book–let alone construct scripture about an ancient culture. In fact, as has been pointed out by Hugh Nibley, “There is no point at all to the question: Who wrote the Book of Mormon? It would have been quite as impossible for the most learned man alive in 1830 to have written the book as it was for Joseph Smith.”38

Critics of the Book of Mormon are left to challenge it on the basis of worldly, scientific study, claiming that no evidence has ever been found to authenticate its writings. In other words, there is no proof that the incidents described in the Book of Mormon ever happened, so, they claim, they never did happen. Interestingly, the same claims are made by anti-Bible groups who argue that the biblical miracles were not valid.

It is true that no absolute proof for the events of the Book of Mormon has ever been found in Mesoamerica. No inscriptional evidence has been unearthed that can be directly tied to any person or place mentioned in the Book of Mormon. Having made this obvious admission, I quickly add that much indirect evidence has been found that suggests a strong relationship between the culture described in the Book of Mormon and the people and events of ancient America. In fact, the parallels between the Middle East and Central American preclassic cultures are fairly substantial. Compelling geological findings corroborate the timing of earthquakes and eruptions recorded in the Book of Mormon.39 Jesus Christ had told his disciples in Palestine that he would yet visit other people, apparently not known to his followers. In John 10:16 the Lord says, “Other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.”

Following his resurrection, the Savior visited the people of ancient America as documented in the central message of the Book of Mormon. He told them that they were among his “other sheep.” What a marvelous impression such a visit must have made on those fortunate people, reflected in the legends and beliefs passed down, though often distorted, through the generations. The presence of an astonishing and miraculous visit of a great god or hero who made beneficial cultural changes to their civilizations, taught peace, healed the sick, and established religion, is recorded in the legends of ancient people from nearly every area of the Americas–north, central, and south. Francis A. MacNutt gives us this insight: “The identity of Quetzalcoatl remains an unsolved mystery. So numerous and striking were the analogies to Christian teachings presented by the Mexican beliefs and rituals that the conviction has obtained among many, that this mysterious personage was no other than a Christian priest or bishop.”40 William H. Prescott adds, “None of the deities of the country (Mexico) suggested such astonishing analogies with Scripture as Quetzalcoatl.”41 The teachings of the ancient Peruvian cultural hero, Tonapa, were described thus by an early Catholic observer: “So closely did they resemble the precepts of Jesus, that nothing was lacking in them but his name and that of his Father.”42

Pedro de Cieza de Leon (1518-60), a Spanish chronicler who often asked the natives of Peru about the conditions of their people and of their myths and traditions, records the following:

Before the Incas ruled or had even been heard of in these kingdoms these Indians relate a thing more noteworthy than anything else that they say. They assert that they were a long time without seeing the sun and, suffering much hardship from this, they offered prayers and vows to those whom they held for gods, beseeching of them the light they lacked. At this the sun very brilliant rose from the island of Titicaca in the great lake of the Collao, and all were rejoiced. After this had happened they say there suddenly appeared, coming from the south, a white man of large stature and authoritative demeanor. This man had such great power that he changed the hills into valleys and from the valleys made great hills, causing streams to flow from the living stone. When they saw his power they called him Maker of all things created and Prince of all things, Father of the sun. For he did other still more wonderful things, giving being to men and animals; in a word by his hand very great benefits accrued to them. This is the story that the Indians themselves told me and they heard it from their fathers who in their turn had it from the old songs which were handed down from very ancient times.43

I invite anyone to compare these comments to the Book of Mormon descriptions of the circumstances surrounding Jesus Christ’s appearance to the inhabitants of ancient America. Indirect evidences pointing to the validity of the Book of Mormon are many and well documented. Any interested person should reference the suggested reading list for more information.

In addition to questions of historical evidence, critics also argue that if the book were truly an inspired volume of scripture, changes would not have been made to Joseph’s original manuscript. The title page of the Book of Mormon attests that the ancient documents, or plates, would be translated by “the gift of God.” But detractors protest that thousands of changes have been made to the original translation–changes to correct mistakes! They loudly submit these changes as evidence that the Book of Mormon was not born of inspiration and is therefore not worthy of serious study. Such a proposition is interesting since revised interpretations and improved editions of the Bible are constantly coming off the presses. Printing and editing errors are common in any publication. So why should a corrected (or uncorrected!) Book of Mormon text be rejected without serious inquiry? I don’t expect a serious response to that question, but I will, nevertheless, reply to the accusation of damning changes to the Book of Mormon.

An overwhelming number of the changes to the Book of Mormon were punctuation, spelling, and grammatical corrections. Since the Book of Mormon was translated directly from the ancient plates, the interpreted text was written in one continuous stream of words–no punctuation whatsoever. Imagine deciphering a six-hundred-page paragraph! Spelling wasn’t standardized as it is today, and the common, nonacademic practice was to phonetically record sounds. For example, one of the original scribes spelled the word “Messiah” as “masiah.” In other places, “engreveings” was corrected to “engravings,” “plaits” became “plates,” and so forth.44 The text of the original manuscript of the Book of Mormon was copied to what is called the printer’s manuscript. Many of the pages of the printer’s manuscript contained corrections by the typesetter, John Gilbert. He not only marked punctuation and spelling corrections; he also made “a few emendations in the printer’s manuscript.”45 Other changes to the Book of Mormon were made to correct actual errors or to reduce possible confusion for the reader.46

In what is now Mosiah 21:28, the 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon stated that King Benjamin had the gift of interpretation, but the context clearly indicates that the king mentioned was actually Mosiah. This obvious mistake was corrected in later editions. How did King Benjamin’s name get confused with that of King Mosiah? Who knows? Any number of influences could have caused such an error. Another obvious change was made to the first edition passage of 1ÊNephi 11:18, where Mary, the mother of Jesus, is referred to as the “mother of God, after the manner of the flesh.” To clarify the meaning, the text was changed to read “mother of the Son of God, after the manner of the flesh.” Now, should some ambitious person choose to examine the list of changes made to the first edition text of the Book of Mormon, he or she will find no alterations of the message of the original text. In contrast, the list of errors in the Bible could be very long indeed, and nonbelievers scoff at us who accept and revere it as the word of God in spite of a few inconsequential contradictions–errors introduced by circumstances beyond our understanding. Do such errors change the value and sacred nature of the Bible’s message? Not for me.

It is sad that some people ignore the central focus and pure examples of Christian teaching contained in the Book of Mormon. They concentrate their energies on minor textual changes in various printings–changes made to clarify and simplify difficult passages. Well, who ever said it was perfect in the first place? Certainly the Mormons never attributed infallibility to the Book of Mormon or any other thing that men have taken part in. Is the Book of Mormon perfect? Yes, in a way it is perfect. Its mission and purpose, as stated in the cover page, has been fulfilled for millions of people and will yet be fulfilled for other countless millions. It brings the light of the Lord Jesus Christ to a world sadly lacking a true awareness of its Savior. It brings hope and comfort and builds the faith of the faithful. It also separates those of honest heart–those who are willing to test the validity of the book in the Lord’s way–from those who, for whatever reason, choose to oppose, find fault, and deny the power of the Holy Ghost. Thus, the Book of Mormon accomplishes its mission perfectly.

Grace vs. Works

Anti-Mormon groups hold in common the fairly consistent position that members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe that they are saved by works and deny the Christian doctrine of salvation by grace alone through faith. Some go so far as to say that the Church of Jesus Christ thoroughly rejects the doctrine of divine grace in precept and practice. Such statements are outrageous distortions of truth, and any honest person who studies Latter-day Saint doctrine, scripture, or teachings knows it. The only way anti-Mormons can justify their stance regarding grace, or try to characterize its role in Latter-day Saint doctrine, is to ignore the historical development of their own doctrine. In addition, they must use isolated scriptures, overlooking or misinterpreting other scriptures that would refute their conclusions.

The doctrine of grace alone (solafidianism) is taught by many evangelical Christians. According to this doctrine, the only thing a person must do in order to attain salvation is to sincerely repent and accept Christ as his personal Savior. Now, as with other Christian doctrines, there is little common ground among churches or scholars on this issue. Some contend that certain works or ordinances are necessary and good while others argue that any act or ordinance constitutes a “work” and thus denies the effect of the atonement.

But the doctrine of grace through faith does not have its basis in the apostolic church, nor does it find authentication in the Bible. Locating the grace-alone doctrine in the scriptures is only possible for those who choose to distort the meaning or context of biblical statements. Many such references are drawn from the writings of the apostle Paul–particularly his statement to the Ephesians: “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). Members of the Church of Jesus Christ find no difficulty with this scripture. We fully accept the idea that works will not save anyone. The context of Paul’s statement is important. He was speaking to converts to the church who were making the transition from the Law of Moses to the gospel of Jesus Christ. These people were used to worshiping though rites and symbolic ritual. Paul’s statements concerning grace were an effort to counter the influence of their former religious lives and of his training as a strict Pharisee, which were based on the exaggerated Mosaic observances of a multiplicity of ceremonial works, self-sufficiency, and spiritual pride. James’s explanation of the doctrine is about as clear as it can be:

What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. (James 2:14-18)

The history of the grace-only doctrine began with Augustine, the author and advocate of the idea. Later, the great reformer Martin Luther popularized this apostate doctrine. It was his pet doctrine, one that he defended with great energy–even to the point of denying biblical references that clearly refuted his conviction.

The doctrine of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints regarding the Savior’s grace is fully consistent with the Bible. We do not ignore certain scriptures concerning grace in favor of others. We understand and accept the teachings of ancient and modern prophets of God on the subject. Lehi, the first Book of Mormon prophet, taught,

Wherefore, redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah; for he is full of grace and truth. Behold, he offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit; and unto none else can the ends of the law be answered. Wherefore, how great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth, that they may know that there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah, who layeth down his life according to the flesh, and taketh it again by the power of the Spirit, that he may bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, being the first that should rise. Wherefore, he is the firstfruits unto God, inasmuch as he shall make intercession for all the children of men; and they that believe in him shall be saved. (2 Nephi 2:6-9)

We do not believe that all one must do to attain eternal salvation is confess the reality of Jesus Christ. Nor do we believe that our works will qualify us for eternal rewards. We believe that we must accept Jesus Christ by faith, repent and change our lives according to his teachings–doing his works as a demonstration of our love for him–and build the kingdom of God on the earth as he has commanded. We believe that we must do these things and endure to the end in order to qualify for the grace that is so freely offered.

Eternal Progression

Among the teachings of Mormonism is plainly found the profound, divine concept that man can become as God–eternal beings possessing all the attributes of deity. This topic is energetically denounced by enemies of the church as pagan and satanic. Of those anti-Mormons with whom I have discussed this doctrine, I ask a simple question, “Do you have children?” Most often they answer in the affirmative. I then ask, “Do you want your children to grow up to be just as good as you?” The typical response is, “Oh no, I want them to be much better than I am!” “How much better?” I ask. “Well, as good as they can be, to reach their potential, etc.” I would respond the same way to a questioner. Parents naturally want their children to have more and be more than they are themselves. Then I ask, “If you were perfect in every way and enjoyed all intelligence and power and glory, would you want your children to be just like you?” Sometimes I can’t get a straight answer to this question because they begin to see where I’m going. Others actually say that if they were perfect in all things they’d like their children to be like them because they couldn’t do any better than that.

Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints understand that God is indeed our Heavenly Father and that we are his spirit children, literally begotten of him. He has a glorified body of flesh and bones. He is tangible and real. He is the Supreme Being and is perfect in every divine attribute. It is natural and logical that God, our Heavenly Father, would want his children to have all that he has and to become as perfect as he is. The Bible teaches this concept in Romans 8:16-17, where Paul declares, “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.” To the Galatians, Paul says, “If a son, then an heir of God through Christ” (Galatians 4:7). The apostle John adds, “Now are we the sons of God,” and “we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him” (1 John 3:2). In his comments to the Athenians, Paul taught the audience that they were the “offspring” of God (Acts 17:28-29). The Greek word from which “offspring” is translated is genos,meaning “descent” or “race.” Paul is clearly teaching that mortal men are of the same race as God. The Church of Jesus Christ teaches that all perfected, resurrected mortals will again dwell with God, living and doing as he does in eternal worlds where happiness, power, glory, and love abound.

All of this–for good reason–is terribly offensive to anti-Mormons. To them, God is only a spirit. In spite of biblical statements to the contrary, they preach of a God who is without body, parts, or passions. They believe him to be uncontainable, immutable, and incomprehensible.47 How could such a being have offspring or hear or speak? The point is that anti-Mormon Christians cannot conceive of this whole idea of man becoming like God. Their only recourse is to claim that the scriptures quoted above, and others that validate the deification doctrine, are misquoted or misinterpreted.

Another common anti-Mormon tactic is to deny any historic basis for the deification doctrine in the early Christian church. Here again, their claims are pathetically inaccurate. Early Christian expositions on deification are found in many ancient sources. Similarities between Latter-day Saint beliefs and the statements of the early Christian Fathers point to an understanding and acceptance of this doctrine.48 It is of course true that Latter-day Saint doctrine on this issue is at odds with orthodox Christianity’s view of God and human potential, but the disparity is understandable. The apostasy extinguished many truths that were reintroduced by the Prophet Joseph Smith as a part of the restitution of all things. It is for this reason that missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ go throughout the world, carrying the message of the restored gospel to all who are humble and seeking for truth.

Those who oppose the church often ignore the very evidence that proves their positions wrong. Recently, I was in Omaha, Nebraska at an open house for a new temple at Winter Quarters. It was a pleasant day, only marred by the presence of anti-Mormon protestors who were handing out their slick brochures to visitors. As I flew home I read their material and wondered at how out of touch their comments were. One statement caught my attention because of its boldness. It simply stated that there was no evidence in Christian history for vicarious baptism for the dead. The fact is that there is much evidence for such doctrine and practice in the early church, aside from the obvious Biblical statement on the subject (1 Corinthians 15:29). The same thing could be said for the doctrine of eternal marriage, temple rites and ordinances, priesthood authority and organization–all documented in early church history. I would sincerely hope that those who wish to find fault with the church would get their information straight before they strike out. To those who wish to learn more on these subjects, I encourage them to make good use of the suggested reading list in this book or to investigate other reputable sources of early Christian history.

Notes

17 World Book, 19:447, s.v. “Trinity.” See also Adrian Hastings, Alistair Mason, and Hugh Pyper, eds., The Oxford Companion to Christian Thought (New York: Oxford University, 2000), 715-18, s.v. “Trinity.”

18 Why Christians Believe in the Trinity (n.p.: Jude 3 Missions, 1994).

19 See Walter H. Wagner, After the Apostles (Minneapolis, Minn.: Fortress, 1994), 233-36.

20 Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures 16:24, in Philip Schaff and Henry Wace, eds., Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, 2nd series. (Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson, 1994).

21 James H. Smylie, A Brief History of the Presbyterians (Louisville, Ky.: Geneva, 1996), 9.

22 Lawrence J. Gesy, Today’s Destructive Cults and Movements (Huntington, Ind.: Our Sunday Visitor, 1993), 17.

23 J.D. Douglas, ed., The New Bible Dictionary (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1996), 1299-1300.

24 Why Christians Believe in the Trinity.

25 There are actually several less than 250 references in this brochure due to duplications. The argument is mostly focused on documenting the three entities of the Godhead and very little on the Trinity itself. Many references were ambiguous; several were embarrassingly off-target. Overall, given the difficulty of the subject, it was a decent effort, but confusing and unconvincing. If you want to see this for yourself, you can access the entire text at www.oca.org/Orthodox-Faith/Doctrine/Holy-trinity.html, or www.invitation.to/dance/cults-trinity.htm.

26 Wagner, After the Apostles, 193.

27 John R. Dummelow, A Commentary on the Holy Bible (New York: Macmillan, 1920), cxiii.

28 Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966), 319.

29 See Acts 7:57.

30 See Daniel C. Peterson and Stephen D. Ricks, Offenders for a Word (Provo, Utah: FARMS, 1992), 120.

31 Martin Luther, D. Martin Luthers Werke, vol. 3, bk. 6 (Weimar: Bšhlaus, 1929), 10; cited in Peterson and Ricks, Offenders for a Word, 125-26.

32 See World Book, 2:286, s.v. “Bible.”

33 Lloyd J. Averill, Religious Right, Religious Wrong: A Critique of the Fundamentalist Phenomenon (New York: Pilgrim, 1989), 73-74; cited in Peterson and Ricks, Offenders for a Word, 127.

34 See Coke Newell, Latter Days: A Guided Tour Through Six Billion Years of Mormonism (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2000), 57-62.

35 See World Book, 15:660-67, s.v. “Pope.”

36 Paul D. Wegner, The Journey from Texts to Translations (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic, 1999), 150-51.

37 Thomas H. Huxley, The Coming of Age of the Origin of Species, 1880.

38 Hugh Nibley, Lehi in the Desert; The World of the Jaredites; There Were Jaredites (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book and FARMS, 1988), 123.

39 See Blaine M. Yorgason, Bruce W. Warren, and Harold Brown, New Evidences of Christ in Ancient America (Arlington, Va.: Stratford, 1999), 229-36; John Sorenson, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book and FARMS, 1985), 320-23.

40 Francis A. MacNutt, Fernando Cortes and the Conquest of Mexico, 1485-1547 (New York: Putnam, 1909), 65-66.

41 William H. Prescott, History of the Conquest of Mexico and History of the Conquest of Peru (New York: Modern Library, n.d.), 695; see also 694-98.

42 Daniel G. Brinton, Religions of Primitive Peoples (New York: Putnam, 1897), 251.

43 Pedro de Cieza de Le-n, The Second Part of the Chronicle of Peru, No. 68 (London: Hakluyt Society, 1883), 2: chaps. 4 and 5; as quoted by Harold Osborne, South American Mythology (New York: Bendrick, 1986), 69.

44 Royal Skousen, ed., The Original Manuscript of the Book of Mormon: Typographical Facsimile of the Extant Text (Provo, Utah: FARMS, 2001).

45 Royal Skousen, ed., The Printer’s Manuscript of the Book of Mormon: Typographical Facsimile of the Entire Text In Two Parts (Provo, Utah: FARMS, 2001), 1:15.

46 For further information on changes made to the Book of Mormon, see Robert J. Matthews, “Why Have Changes Been Made in the Printed Editions of the Book of Mormon?” in A Sure Foundation (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1988), 33-39.

47 See Hastings, Mason, and Pyper, eds., Oxford Companion to Christian Thought, 269-74, s.v. “God.”

48 Ibid., 156, s.v. “deification.”

INDEX TO CRITICISMS AND RESPONSES

The numbers cited in this index refer not to the pages of this book but to page and line numbers in The God Makers and also used in the text of the “Detailed and Documented Responses” Section in this book, printed there in bold type. For example, to find the first reference cited below (214:1), page through this book -until you find the bold-type entry “Page 214, line 1” (on page 287).

-A-

  • Aaronic Priesthood can’t be historically substantiated 214:1
  • Aaronic Priesthood restored before Melchizedek Priesthood is illogical 206:5
  • Aaronic priests perform temple rituals 209:5
  • Abortion is serious problem in Utah 56:17
  • Adam and Eve did not make fruit offerings 132:16; 135:25
  • Adieu criticized 218:19
  • Ammunition, Mormons must have a year’s supply of 229:8
  • Angels, visits to Joseph Smith not unique 1(13:16; 103:23
  • Ancestor worship practiced by LDS 67:most
  • Anti-Christ leader of last days who was predicted in Bible is LDS prophet 250:22; 2.50:29; 245:35
  • Anti-Mormon writers praised for accuracy 49:12
  • Apostates in Mormonism turn black, Orson Pratt taught 156:26
  • Apostles. See Twelve Apostles
  • Apostles., LDS, believed in reincarnation and rejected atonement 245:18
  • Archaeology claims of Book of Mormon are false 86:30; 86:32; 89:24; 89:35; 113:24
  • Archaeology verifies Bible 87:22
  • Atheist, Joseph Smith was 259:32
  • Atonement, Mormons reject full value of 136:8; 136:10
  • Authoritarian, LDS Church is 211:1, 3

-B-

  • Baptism for dead is a pagan not a Christian practice 66:13
  • Baptism for dead is same as ancestor worship 67: most
  • Baptisms of Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery done without authority 206:19
  • Baptisms of Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery should have been done by John the Baptist 206:29
  • Believers in Christ are the only ones saved 63:24
  • Bible conflicts with LDS doctrine 44:33
  • Bible, LDS don’t know if Joseph Smith finished his version of 138:1
  • Bible is final authority to Christians 44:7
  • Bible, List of scripture in, that is lost 143:1
  • Bible, Mormon doctrine not based on 31:2; 82:23
  • Bible must not be added to 143:1
  • Bible not read by Brigham Young for years 249:15
  • Blessings, In Mormonism, are satanic 248; 249:24
  • Blood atonement 232:20; 232:23; 232:31,
  • Blood of Christ rejected by LDS 136:8, 10
  • Boasting by Joseph Smith 211:18; 220:20; 220:23
  • Book of Mormon. See also Archaeology; Urim and Thummim; Harris, Martin; Cowdery, Oliver; Witnesses.
  • Book of Mormon embarrasses LDS Church 114:30
  • Book of Mormon contains almost no Mormonism 114:30
  • Book of Mormon corrections made to alter Trinity 110:30; 111:13-15
  • Book of Mormon Cumorah is not in New York 90:1
  • Book of Mormon dos not contain fullness of gospel 113:last; 114:30
  • Book of Mormon does not teach work. for dead 113;last
  • Book of Mormon, faith not a good reason to believe in 91:34
  • Book of Mormon from imaginative mind of Joseph Smith 111:13-15
  • Book of Mormon has 4,000 changes 110:19; 110:23; 112:9; 112:34; 113:10-15; 113:19; 113:32; 114:30
  • Book of Mormon is fake because it had more than three witnesses 101:17
  • Book of Mormon, Martin Harris a witness to, claimed he visited moon 82:1
  • Book of Mormon misuses title of Christ 113:21
  • Book of Mormon more important to LDS than Bible 110:17
  • Book of Mormon., LDS doctrine not based on 31:2
  • Book of Mormon plagiarized from Bible 112:27; 112;29; 113:1
  • Book of Mormon plates mentioned in 1829 letter of Lucy Smith to her sister-in-law 218:1
  • Book of Mormon teaches no creator or creation 113: last
  • Brotherhood of man statement made by LDS Church 60:14

-C-

  • Cain refused to offer a lamb 135:13
  • Cain tried to substitute good works for offering 135:15
  • Capital punishment taught by LDS 232:11
  • Celestial marriages causing hundreds or thousands of divorces 147:20
  • Celestial marriage not taught in Bible or Book of Mormon 147:35
  • Changes in LDS history 203:17; 203:last; 214:16
  • Child abuse high in Utah 52:last
  • Chosen people, Mormons think they are 40:10; 42:22
  • Christ. See Jesus Christ.
  • Christian, it is impossible to be both Mormon and 246:30
  • Christians, Mormons completely different from 82:15; 143:10
  • Christians, Mormons never call themselves 40:8
  • Church, LDS, hard to get out of 247:6
  • Codes of conduct just condemn followers 139:7
  • Commandments, no Latter-day Saint can obey all 186:26
  • Commandments, 4,300, in Mormonism 185:11
  • Conspiracy. Sec World Domination.
  • Constitution will hang by a thread 10:21; 241:24; 252:2
  • Council of Fifty. See World Domination.
  • Cowdery, Oliver, excommunicated 165:9
  • Cowdery, Oliver, returns and testifies that he was present when Melchizedek Priesthood was restored and when Moroni came 207:1; 207:17
  • Creeds, many prominent Americans disliked 216:11
  • Creeds were an abomination does not ring true 216:11
  • Cross, Mormons have aversion towards 136:15
  • Cumorah not in New York 90:1

-D-

  • Danites, Joseph Smith behind atrocities of 221:last 2; 222:5; 222:12; 223:4; 223:12; 224:35; 225:l
  • Death to those who reveal temple secrets 13:16; 115:14; 140:3; 142:1; 183:11; 187:2; 236:20
  • Democracy not part of Mormonism 230:19; 230:27
  • Despots of history claimed to be divine 237:19 ‘
  • Devil associated with Mormons because Mormo is god of ghouls 72:28
  • Devil associated with Mormons because mormon means gates of hell m Chinese 72:28
  • Devil can appear as angel of light 71:20
  • Devil, evil manifestation of 108:30; 109:19
  • Devil gives “yes.” answer to those who pray about LDS Church 170:18
  • Devil, Heber C Kimball used gun to keep away 109:24
  • Devil is Christian God 245:last
  • Devil is God of world and Mormons worship him 74:1
  • Devil is; LDS Christ 211:1
  • Devil is much stronger than God 76:16; 138:12
  • Devil, list of scriptures concerning 74:1
  • Devil is not a fallen angel 74:23
  • Devil, Mormon God is really 78:29; 137:9
  • Devil promised godhood 138:24
  • Devil promised no death 138:24
  • Devil’s religion is Mormonism 78:6
  • Devil’s apron worn by Mormons in temple 74:34; 76:4; 78:29
  • Devil told four basic Lies to Eve 106:14
  • Devil told truth. LDS believe 138:19
  • Divorce rate high in Utah 19:24
  • Divorce required in LDS Church if mate is not active 35:12
  • Dreams of Joseph South criticized 218:15
  • Durham, Reed C., speech at Nauvoo connecting Mormonism and Masonry 97:25; 117:29

-E-

  • Ecumenical, secular/religious coalition, could be dominated by LDS 243:22; 252:12; 255:last; 257:4
  • Errors about non-LDS groups 60:30; 256:11; 256:18; 256:last 2; 258:last 3
  • Excommunicated, Leaders of LDS Church make up lies about those who have been 247:10
  • Ex nihilo creation of God is not Mormonism 258:17; 259:23; 259; last 3

-F-

  • Faith, LDS Church requires blind 93:2; 115:7
  • Faith, List of scriptures on 91:34
  • Fall not taught by LDS 31:2; 133:3; 134:35; 138:20
  • Falsified, LDS history is 203:17; 203:last; 214:16
  • Financial empire, LDS Church is a vast international 230:1; 230:22
  • First vision. List of known accounts of 218:18
  • First vision has nine contradictory versions 121:9; 214:3; 218:15, 218-26; 218:30; 219:5; 219:13
  • First vision has no other parallel in history 214:32
  • First vision account- related with angel instead of Father and Son 219:21,22,25
  • First vision story of Father and Son not related until days of Joseph Fielding Smith 219:18
  • First vision was a long time in getting published 215;7
  • Freemen Institute is successor to Council of Fifty 252:30
  • Freedom stifled by LDS Church 7:5; 9:31; 86:11; 157:2; 186:23; 187:2; 231:21; 236:last 2; 237:6
  • Freedom suppressed because when prophet speaks the thinking has been done 194:9
  • Freedom to disagree with leaders means excommunication and damnation 231:2
  • Fruit offerings are not valid 132:16
  • Fruits of gospel more important than signs 191:10
  • Fullness of gospel not in Book of Mormon 114:30

-G-

  • Garden of Eden. See also Devil, Adam and Eve, Cain.
  • Garden of Eden in Missouri 82:36
  • Garments,. See Temple.
  • Genealogy must be traced back to Adam 147:1
  • Genealogy warned against in Bible 61:24
  • Glass looking. See Treasure-seeking.
  • Goat of Mendes (upside down star) displayed on LDS temples 208:last
  • God’s involvement with Joseph Smith verified in 1619 Lucy Smith letter 218:8
  • God is changing and evolving 199:21
  • God is progressing and is obedient to law 161:9
  • God is Father of us all statement 60:14
  • God ia a man 199:21
  • God, LDS have a completely different concept of 11:15; 234:33; 246:16; 257:21; 257:23, 257:27;
  • 258:33; 259:last 3; 260:last 4
  • God, Mrs. 113: last
  • God the Father is personage of spirit 216:1
  • God the Son is the Father; the Father is the Son 216:5
  • Gods, five billion counterfeit, are cause of world’s ills 261:5
  • Gods, Men arc, Joseph Smith taught 259:17
  • Gods under God could vote him out 160:22
  • God was once sinful 113:last
  • Godhood concept promotes a denial of human weaknesses 50:31
  • Godhood in Mormonism derived from pagan tradition 24:18; 31;12; 115:21; 229:17
  • Godhood will take eons of time and has other requirements that are held back 177:24; 260:25
  • Godhood, Path to, difficult or there is no path 178:19; 184:36
  • Godhood requires polygamy 34:14
  • Godhood, Ambition of, is root of all evil 52:29
  • Godhood promised by devil 1.38:24
  • Grace. See also Atonement, Justified.
  • Grace and truth come by Christ 136:35
  • Grace is free to all who receive it 136:17; 139:11; 178:la8t; 18~8;; 182:31; 182:32; 250:15
  • Grace is only for the worthy 136:33
  • Grace of God has nothing to do with temples 210:10
  • Guns, Mormons must have a year’s supply of 229; last 8; 241:19-20

-H-

  • Harris, Martin, belittled 208:9
  • Harris, Martin, joined and remained a Shaker 104:21
  • Harris, Martin, saw Christ 102:28
  • Hell is agreeable was taught by Joseph Smith 76:30
  • Hell, Mormons teach there is no 77:4; 113:last
  • History was falsified 203:17; 203: lastt2; 214:16
  • Holy Ghost in Mormonism is not Holy Spirit 249:3
  • Humanism, Mormonism is secular 259:6; 259:32
  • Human rights trampled in Utah 8:2

-I-

  • Illegitimacy rate high in Utah 19:29
  • Image of happiness of LDS is false 56:5; 25~8
  • Image of LDS that all is well is false50:19
  • Inspired version of Bible 138:1

-J-

  • Jackson County, Missouri, to be built in this generation 227:last 2; 226:1,6, 10, 22; 229:17; 251:last 5; 251:31
  • Jesus Christ not testified of by LDS 40~9; 41:20,46:6; 80:12
  • Jesus Christ, Person who has relationship with, is a threat to LDS Church £47:3; 250:2
  • Jesus Christ, Relationship with, not based on any organization 246:last
  • Jesus Christ should be chosen, over Joseph Smith 245:2
  • Jesus Christ was not born of Mary by power of the Holy Ghost 199:21
  • Jews, LDS consider themselves real 7:5; 209;last
  • Johnson, Sonia, excommunicated for disagreeing with leaders 231:2
  • Jupiter talisman used by Joseph Smith 106:30; 117:29
  • Justified, Man, by faith without deeds 136:30; 136:35

-K-

  • Kimball, Spencer W., List of numerous new innovations by 212:25
  • Kinderhook plates, Joseph Smith a fraud because he said they were authentic 99-100

-L-

  • Latter-day Saints are defecting 261:16
  • Latter-day Saints, Few, will listen to evidence against 229:13; 245:28
  • Latter-day Saint leaders vow revenge against USA 239:3
  • Latter-day Saints manipulated and powerless 231:21; 231:32
  • Latter-day Saints, People are, only because of social reasons 186:5
  • Latter-day Saints susceptible to New Age delusions 254:26
  • Law of consecration. See United Order.
  • Lawsuit of- authors not accepted by attorneys 263:final 12 lines
  • Leaders defected from LDS Church in late 1840s 155:7
  • Lectures on Faith say Father is- personage of spirit 216:1
  • Lucifer. See Devil.
  • Lying is endemic among LDS 237:25

-M-

  • Man, No just, on earth 136:29
  • Marriage. See also Temple Marriage.
  • Marriage is only for this earth 34:25; 167:34′
  • Martyrs., Christians are, but LDS are not 172last; 173:13; 173:14; 173:19
  • Martyr, Joseph Smith was not 173:19
  • Masonic influence caused Joseph Smith to renounce Trinity110:27
  • Masonry once pa t of satanic priesthood 128:26; 129:24
  • Masonry is source of Mormonism 116-131; 325:5-6; 127:1-3; 127:] 3-15; 129:33; 131:2; 138-16; 179:last 4
  • Masonry speech causes LDS to remove statue of Angel Moroni in Salt Lake Visitors’ Center 117:21; 132:16
  • Masonry and Mormonism both believe in good works 138:27
  • Matter and intelligence have always existed was taught by Joseph Smith 259:23
  • Melchizedek claimed by occult groups, modern UFO cults 201:24
  • Melchizedek date in Mormonism is lost 202:12; 202:14-21; 202:22; 203:3
  • Melchizedek is mystery man of Bible 201:19
  • Melchizedek Priesthood not mentioned by Oliver Cowdery when he returned to LDS Church 202:219
  • Methodist Church, Joseph Smith joined 216:32
  • Millennium, Joseph Smith will reign during 7:5; 46:32;
  • Missionaries abandoning missions at rate of 25 percent 59:29
  • Missionaries, Deceit lies behind the smiles of 263: Final lines
  • Missouri saints defeated 223:12; 225:5
  • Moon, Men are on, Joseph Smith taught 79:21; 208:last
  • Moral Majority and Mormons cooperating 241:6
  • MX missile in Utah dropped by federal government when LDS opposed it 240:19

-N-

  • New Age Coalition. See Ecumenical.
  • Noah’s Ark built in North Carolina 82:30
  • Non-LDS groups, errors about 60:30; 256:21; 256:18; 256:last 2; 258 last 3

-O-

  • Obedience demanded of LDS 9:4;9:31; 238:5
  • Obedience to Joseph Smith required or you are a Gentile without salvation 9:19
  • Obedience to LDS leaders required even if they are wrong 43:16
  • Obedience without question required 9:31
  • Occultists, See also Paganism.
  • Occult groups with world domination goals could unite with Mormons 243:16
  • Omnipotent, Mormon God is not 260:7

-P-

  • Paganism found in Christianity137:21
  • Paganism is source of LDS godhood 31:12
  • Paganism, Mormonism is 12:24; 143:10; 181:22; 190:9; 206:1ast; 210:13; 226~26; 250:last; 251:6; 2511:11.; 254:23; 259:last
  • Paganism, LDS doctrine has traditions of 28:25
  • Paganism, Mormons openly align with 28:11
  • Pagans complain that Christians embrace unworthy people 139:20
  • Patriarchal blessing is like fortune-telling 249:13
  • Perfection will take a few trillion years to reach 184:36
  • Political ambitions. See World Domination.
  • Polygamy abandoned for expediency 172:19; 172:26
  • Polygamy commanded by angel 160:16,7, 32, 34; 176:3
  • Polygamy continued after Manifesto 171:29; 171:32
  • polygamy embraced enthusiastically by men 171:2
  • Polygamy forbidden in Book of Mormon 169:30
  • Polygamy., involvement of Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lightner with 168:1
  • Polygamy, involvement of Sarah Whitney with 162:footnote: 162:7; 163:35-39
  • Polygamy, majority of LDS women unhappy with 171:2
  • Polygamy needed for exaltation and Godhood 113:last; 148:17;157:32; 169:22; 177:1; 177:19
  • Polygamy not biblical but invented by Joseph Smith 157:3; 169:29
  • Polygamy now considered by LDS Church to be punishable by imprisonment and excommunication 172:27
  • Polygamy, Oliver Cowdery involvement with 164:27
  • Polygamy of Joseph Smith called adulterous 165:8, 26, last; 167:2; 169:35, bat; 170:1; 170:32
  • Polygamy revelation for Emma, not the world 157:32
  • Polygamy revelation first received in 1843 148:5; 152:25; 162:3
  • Polygamy revelation replaced monogamy revelation 157:32
  • Polygamy, Seven of nine church presidents have lived in 169:9
  • Polygamy would not be stopped 172:19
  • Polygamy, Statements by Jedediah M. Grant concerning 164:18
  • Polygamy stopped by Manifesto 169:13
  • Polygamy, To not practice, meant to be destroyed 157:32
  • Polygamy was against the law 165:30
  • Polygamy was crime against humanity 152:4
  • Polygamy was denied by Church leaders 150:26; 152:6; 172:21
  • Polygamy was started to cover up for adultery 150:10; 155.3
  • Polygamy to be the rule when LDS Church will control world 169:6
  • Polytheism believed by LDS 74:5
  • Prayer about LD5 Church will be answered with “yes,” but by devil 17D:188
  • Prayer It is perverse to approach God in, about LDS Church 170:14
  • Premortality is false doctrine 25:26; n3:last;259;17
  • Presidency of the U.S., Joseph Smith used vast force of missionaries to exert political power and ran for 242:5
  • Priesthood. See also Aaronic
  • Priesthood; Melchizedek Priesthood
  • Priesthood needed to see God 215:29
  • Priesthood restoration not needed because four apostles were still on earth 206:footnote
  • Procreation by gods in LDS doctrine is by sexual relations 22:17; 26:16.; 53:8
  • Prophecies, if there are any true, LDS Church should publish 213:31
  • Prophecies, False 79:21, 26; 209: l6; 212:1-2, 8; 213:15; 220:12; 225:26; 226:33; 227:5; 227:last 2; 228:10; 228:last 3; 229:7; 241:31. See also Revelations.
  • Prophecies of Joseph Smith fulfilled Appendix B
  • Prophecies, Heber C. Kimball made none 212:33
  • Prophecies, not made by Mormon prophets 212:8
  • Prophets are mark of cult 93:2
  • Prophet List of scriptures for need of 93:2

-Q-

  • Quetzalcoatl is really Satan 197:10

-R-

  • Records of Mormons reveal fraud 146;3
  • Revelations, List of true 212:19, 25
  • Revelation now rare in LDS Church 212:15,25
  • Righteousness required to be saved in Mormonism 60:30,33
  • Righteousness, List of scriptures on, given 60:3]
  • Roberts, B. H., denied testimony of Book of Motion 111:15

-S-

  • Salvation is only for believers in Christ 63:24
  • Satan. See Devil.
  • Scriptures, LDS don’t add 213:1-3
  • Scriptures out of context 60:26; 61:4; 71:20; 136;29; 136:30; 136:35; 17)3:tast; 182:31; 162:32
  • Second coming predicted to be in 1890 by Joseph Smith 227:5, 227:15; 252:1
  • Secret ritual not practiced in Bible 141:24; 142:12
  • Secrets of Mormonism discovered after it is too late 11:24; 31:17; 183:2
  • Secrets, none in Christ’s church 237:9
  • Secrets of Mormonism suppressed 86:11
  • Secrets of temple needed to ascend ladder of hierarchy 210:13
  • Secrets of temple ought to be exposed 145:13
  • Seerstone used in translation of Book of Mormon 96:19; 106:30; 111~9
  • Seerstone, Joseph Smith used 95:35; 112:27; 212:6
  • Signs are not indicative of truth 191:10
  • Smith, Ethan. See View of the Hebrews.
  • Smith. Joseph, arrested and convicted of glass looking 94:27
  • Smith, Joseph, boasted. See Boasting by Joseph Smith.
  • Smith, Joseph, chart of contributions 103:16
  • Smith, Joseph, disregarded freedom of the press 173:19
  • Smith, Joseph, had reputation of Treasure-seeking 93111; 98:35
  • Smith, Joseph, lied153:9, 22, 23
  • South, Joseph, final arrest of 173:19
  • Smith, Joseph, Mother taught, was a teller of tall tales 81:13′
  • Smith, Joseph, murderers of, did not accuse him wrongly 173;19
  • Smith, Joseph, persecuted others 173:19
  • Smith, Joseph, ran for U.S. presidency as a step to control world 242:5
  • Smith, Joseph, thought he was greater than Jesus Christ 220:21
  • Smith, Joseph, underwent theological metamorphosis 121:23
  • Smith, Joseph, used “big lie” technique of Hitler and Stalin 208:29
  • Smith, Joseph, wanted wealth, power, sex 170:22
  • Smith, Joseph F. questioned at Senate hearing 213;15
  • Smith, Lucy, 1829 letter discovered 216:1 ‘
  • Spiritual power in Mormonism is real and strong 248:5
  • Spirit prison is contradictory to spirits appearing in LDS temples 68:most
  • Spirits, Mormons try to contact 72:15
  • Standards of LDS righteousness impossible to attain 56:5
  • Statistics on Mormonism are bad 19:24,29; 52:last
  • Succession of leadership to Joseph Smith given to his son 84:19-28

-T-

  • Tanner, Jerald and Sandra 49:12
  • Temple, Apron of devil worn by LDS in 74:34; 76:4: 78:29; 134:30; 192:17
  • Temple attendance decreasing 55:17; 198
  • Temple ceremony requires women to swear total obedience to husbands 57:8
  • Temple, Christ to return to, in Missouri, not in Jerusalem 83:16
  • Temple cleanses one of all transgression 179-7
  • Temple clothing paraded at lectures against Mormonism 190113
  • Temple covenants 13:16; 140:26
  • Temple. Devil is much stronger than God in 76:16; 138:12
  • Temple garments are magic underwear 106:30; 134:30; 146:11; 188:10
  • Temple, God rejects apron of fig leaves worn in 75:15
  • Temple, God does not reject apron of fig leaves in 76:11
  • Temple, God thunders with rage at devil in 76:10
  • Temple-goers are in Satan’s power since temple covenants are impossible to keep 192:24
  • Temples in Central and South America are pagan 196:5
  • Temple in Missouri to be finished in Joseph Smith’s lifetime 209:16
  • Temple interview questions lead to credit card for eternity 166:8
  • Temple, Lucifer defies God in 76:16
  • Temple marriage. See Celestial marriage.
  • Temple, Mormons glory in tales of spiritual appearances in 70:26
  • Temple of God should be our body 195;2
  • Temple of Solomon and tabernacle that Moses built were only such structures ever authorized by God 195:20
  • Temple procedures are revolting and shocking 144:32
  • Temple recommend. Desire to get, bends truth and dulls conscience 186:32
  • Temple rituals required for godhead 34:3; 63:4
  • Temples are mostly to redeem dead 63:7
  • Temples arc not biblical except for Israel 209:9
  • Temples not used by early Christians 194:26
  • Temple ridicules Christian ministers 246:4
  • Temples similar to those of Enoch, Noah and Abraham 208:32
  • Temple, Site for future Missouri, owned by another church 63.22
  • Temple, Site of, in Missouri, more likely to be sold to RLDS 83:34
  • Temples are different than Jewish temple 191:24
  • Temples have nothing to do with grace of God 210:10
  • Temple Square is tourist trap 85:13
  • Temple was to be was to be built of sandstone, Brigham Young urged 194:1
  • Theological metamorphosis took place in Joseph Smith’s doctrine 121:23
  • Totalitarian claims of Mormonism should be submitted to if it is true 211:1
  • Treasure-seeking, Joseph Smith was guilty of 93:11, 94:27, 98:35; 105:3
  • Trinity idea eliminated from Book of Mormon 110:30
  • Trinity ridiculed by LDS 199:21
  • Truth is synonymous with teaching of brethren; error is all else 51:24
  • Twelve Apostles, At least half of original LDS, were excommunicated 208:19

-U-

  • Unification Church and Mormons working closely together 254:31; 255
  • United Order is theocratic communism 232:1; 232:11; 254:16
  • United Order will control property and income of member 232:3; 254:6
  • Urim and Thummin is not biblical 96.30

-V-

  • View of the Hebrews source of Book of Mormon 111:35
  • Visitors’ Centers use pagan temple from a different time period 196:12

-W-

  • Water used in sacrament because Mormons reject Christ’s blood 136;10
  • Wife abuse 57:32
  • Witnesses to Book of Mormon all followed James Strang 103:26
  • Witnesses of Book of Mormon only had vision of plates, not actual handling 101:29
  • Witnesses of Book of Mormon apostatized 102:3
  • Witnesses of Book of Mormon called counterfeiters 207:27
  • Witnesses of Book of Mormon unreliable 81:23; 102:13
  • Women in LDS Church have high rate of psychiatric problems 57:28
  • Women in LDS Church receive much abuse 57:32
  • Women must swear oath of total obedience to husbands 57:8
  • Women must be eternally pregnant 22;17; 26:16; 51:8
  • Works, A path of, too endless and so it is impossible 179:4
  • Works are futile because there is no just man on earth 61:4
  • Works needed for eternal life 34:16
  • Works, Necessity- of, listed in Bible 53:36
  • Works not needed because eternal life is free gift of God 54:31; 60:26
  • Works not needed because perfection comes immediately if Christ is accepted 33;36
  • World domination conceivable as Latter-day Saints continue to receive more government appointments 242:29
  • World domination is purpose of LDS leaders 10:1, 21; 143:10:209:23, 33, 34, 36; 210:7, 24; 221:7, 10, 13,20; 224:16; 225:9; 230:1, 8, 14; 231:last 2; 234:21, 24:235:2, 8, 30; 236:8, 23; 237:32; 242:29;2432:22;254:16
  • World domination was part of establishing a nation within a nation 10;6,
  • World domination will mean excommunication and death to those who transgress LDS laws 232:11

-Y-

  • Young, Brigham, had not read Bible for years 245:15

-Z-

  • Zion is not Jerusalem to LDS 7:5
  • Zion’s Camp a failure 241:31

 

14. Christ Will Return to His Temple

In reply to the chapter, “The Great Temple/Priesthood Scam”

Page 194, lines 1-13

“Instead of cutting granite [to build the Salt Lake Temple, Brigham Young] suggested that they use the much softer sandstone, which was cheaper and easier to work . . . . He was sure that sandstone, once in place, would grow into granite.”

Here are the facts:

  1. Since granite was not known to be available in huge quantities at nearby Big Cottonwood Canyon, this building material was not even being considered.
  2. In the Brigham Young speech the reference to “cost” was not a factor as the book claims.
  3. The choice of sandstone was favored by Brigham Young because the alternative (limestone) was two hundred miles away and to bring these huge stones that far would have been an impossibility.
  4. Brigham Young was not a geologist, so his theory of the evolution of soft stone to harder stone was admittedly wrong. (See commentary about page 79, line 21 for earlier remarks that prophets are not infallible.) When huge amounts of granite were found in nearby Big Cottonwood Canyon, and when some of the scientists in the LDS Church talked to Brigham Young about the nature of stone, Brigham Young was easily persuaded to use granite for the temple.

Page 194, lines 9-11

“The ‘Prophet’ must not be questioned, for ‘when our leaders speak, the thinking has been done.'”

(The previous points made in connection with granite stones with page 194, lines 1-13 and page 79, line 21, should lay this charge to rest.)

Instead of showing that an LDS prophet is a tyrant and must not be questioned, Brigham Young’s ability to change his mind from the original preference for sandstone or adobe to granite shows his teachableness and humility. He acknowledged that the situation had changed and that his associates were more knowledgeable in geology than he was. However, it seems unfair that the book can only criticize Brigham Young and not give him credit at least for being the founder of 325 cities, governor of a territory larger than Texas, Indian agent, skilled carpenter and glazier, leader of the largest organized mass migration in U.S. history, and for his many other leadership qualities.

The book ignores the whole process of LDS decision-making. Every important leader has counselors who are free to argue and give different points of view on any issue being decided. Even the President of the LDS Church has counselors. However, once all the facts have been presented and the decision made, it is presented to the Lord for a confirmation that the decision is right or wrong. This revelation of confirmation comes by a feeling of certitude; at other times the Lord gives more dramatic revelation, such as the 1978 revelation which came to President Spencer W. Kimball allowing all worthy males the Priesthood. Describing this he came out and said, “The Lord made it clear to me what had to be done. ”

When the above procedure is followed, the President of the LDS Church or First Presidency may make official pronouncements. The same pattern is followed in lower echelon leadership, too.

The book, in pushing its charge of “blind obedience” in the LDS church, of course never mentions this well-known principle of leadership in Mormonism. Actually LDS scripture warns against any leaders practicing “unrighteous dominion” over other members. Leadership must be done by “persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned; by kindness and pure knowledge” (D&C 121:30-42).

Page 194, line 26 to page 195, line 18

“It is clear from the New Testament that the early Christians never participated in temple ceremonies of any kind, much less secret ones.”

Not only Christians, but most Jews were barred from the inner parts of the temple courts and only the Jewish priests were allowed to go there. However, Christ, Peter and Paul made visits to the courts of the temple often. All we know about the Savior’s youth was his visit to the temple. Would Christ have, more than once, driven the money changers out of the temple had he not cared for that holy edifice? At times Christ went daily to the temple to teach (Matt. 26:55). There are dozens of New Testament scriptures referring to the temple. For the book to say that Christians went to the temple “only for tradition’s sake” is not valid. Christ renounced many Jewish traditions, but not the temple.

After Christ’s ascension the saints “worshipped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy: and were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God” (Luke 24:53). The authors also ignore the prophecy that at the end of the world Christ will come to his temple (Mal. 3:1).

Soon after Christ’s death the early Christians entered an era of bitter persecution and fleeing from one place to another, hardly conducive to temple building. With the destruction of the temple at Jerusalem and at the end of the Book of Mormon era in the Western Hemisphere there was not an authorized temple of God on the earth until March 27, 1836, when Latter-day Saints dedicated a modern-day House of the Lord.

It is true that the temples of old had some functions different from what was revealed to Joseph Smith. With Christ having fulfilled the “old law” and completed the Atonement by his suffering, new purposes for temples became necessary.

As to the secrecy issue, this was discussed in connection with page 142, lines 12-13. In Old Testament times the temple also had an inner secret part where only certain individuals could go (Ex. 25 and 26).

Page 195, lines 2-5

The authors say that Christ placed emphasis on “the individual Christian’s body {being the temple of God]. “

Latter-day Saints could not agree more and that is why serious participating LDS members abstain from harmful substances, follow the health code revealed to Joseph Smith known as the Word of Wisdom, and live morally clean lives. However, Latter-day Saint doctrine teaches the need for both a temple which is a building (as Mal. 3:1 requires) and a physical body that is treated as a temple of God (I Cor. 3:16-17).

Page 195, line 20 to page 196, line 5

“The tabernacle that Moses built in the wilderness, followed by Solomon’s temple . . . were the only structures of their kind ever ordained by God in the history of the world.”

Archaeological discoveries in Israel indicate there may have been other Jewish temples, like recent excavations at Arad and possibly Megiddo and Beersheba. Many Jews look forward to the time when the temple at Jerusalem will be rebuilt. LDS theology states that Judaism was a special modification of original Christianity that Adam and Eve practiced, thus the temple of Solomon sprang from Christian origins. The Book of Mormon also teaches that there were temples for religious purposes in ancient America. Since the Bible is primarily a Judaic (Southern Kingdom) record, how much more might we know of temples if we had the Northern Kingdom record?

Page 196, lines 5-10

“The many temples . . . uncovered in Central and South America involved the worship of pagan deities on altars that ran red with the blood of hundreds of thousands of human sacrifices. “

Some of those temples were apparently used for such evil purposes. This of course accords with the Book of Mormon, which teaches that there was great wickedness in America before, during and after the time the Nephites (main Book of Mormon civilization) flourished. Since the Book of Mormon is an account of two major civilizations that destroyed themselves because they turned against the teachings of Jesus Christ, it is easy to accept the evidence that there was human sacrifice in Meso-America.

Page 196, lines 12-24

“Incredibly, one of the most popular Visitor’s Information Center pictures represents Christ’s alleged visit to America as recorded in the Book of Mormon. It shows Jesus standing in the Yucatan in front of two well-known ancient temples. . . . This type of deliberate misrepresentation is commonly used in the Church’s attempts to give the Book of Mormon credibility.”

Whether some designer of an LDS visitors’ center has taken poetic license or some artist has unknowingly depicted a temple from a wrong time period is irrelevant. LDS visitors’ centers are not the source of official LDS doctrine. If indeed LDS visitors’ centers are giving the impression that certain ancient structures fit into the Book of Mormon time frame and scientifically it is verified that they do not, changes need to be made. This, however, has no bearing on whether the Book of Mormon is true or false.

Page 196, line 25 to page 197

“A Toltec king who took the name of Quetzalcoatl between 950 and 1000 A.D. . . . [was] a bit late to be confused with an alleged visit of Christ to America. “

Although many scholars feel Quetzalcoatl symbolizes a white god worshipped in ancient America, Latter-day Saints do not believe the Christians in the Book of Mormon worshipped this figure. Since most of the Book of Mormon survivors had apostatized from Christianity, they undoubtedly clung to their traditions of a white god. Latter-day Saints have felt this Quetzalcoatl might be a pagan remnant of what was once a true belief in Christ, but not a representation of the real Christ as the book charges.

The book also indicates Latter-day Saints have a problem because the Quetzalcoatl legends go back two thousand years, which is prior to the “alleged Book of Mormon period.” The authors ignore an earlier Christian civilization in the Book of Mormon that arrived somewhere between 2700 and 2200 B.C. Most scholarship however places the worship of Quetzalcoatl in the 8th-9th century A.D. Even if the Quetzalcoatl god does actually go back to 2000 B.C., it still could be a symbolic remnant of what had once been a belief in Christ.

Page 197, line 10 to last line

The book now equates the serpent (devil) in the Garden of Eden with the feathered serpent (Quetzalcoatl) found in ancient America and with a snake associated with the Hindu god Shiva (the Destroyer) and Masonry, and ties these all together as satanic.

To equate the Hindu God Shiva with Satan is wrong. Although the Hindu god Shiva is known as the “destroyer” in that religion, “destroyer” does not mean “Satan” as it does in Christianity. To Hindus, the function of “destroyer” is positive, because he opens the gate to new rebirth, made possible by the Hindu belief in reincarnation.

Many scholars equate Quetzalcoatl with a white god who appeared out of the sky in Central America. Scholars maintain Quetzalcoatl was a major deity who opposed human sacrifice and taught definite ways of life. “He also is associated with death and resurrection” (Encyclopedia Britannica [1974] vol. 8, p. 351). The authors’ book, however, equates this feathered serpent with Satan.

The serpent is sometimes representative of Satan and evil, as in the Garden of Eden occurrences, but sometimes the serpent also represents Christ, as when Moses put a serpent on a pole to show the children of Israel the symbol of Christ’s coming atonement. (See Num. 21:8; I Ne. 17:41; Alma 33:18-22.)

Although it is not official LDS doctrine, many LDS and non-LDS writers and scholars feel the origin of Quetzalcoatl as the symbol of Christ could stem from this biblical Moses incident. The Book of Mormon people knew the “serpent/Savior” story from the brass plates which the Book of Mormon people brought from Jerusalem. The fact that the feathers are part of the Quetzalcoatl image, some have speculated, is because Christ, when he visited the Western Hemisphere, descended from the heavens; hence the bird-like portion of the serpent.

Whether all this is true, we cannot be sure. Latter-day Saints believe that since the feathered serpent figure represents a white god, the origin of this concept could be a belief in Christ’s appearance in ancient America.

Page 198, entire page

“About 70 percent of Mormons have never [been to the temple].”

The book’s statistics are misleading. Even today, with more and more temples being built, a large portion of Latter-day Saints do not live anywhere near a temple. There are many children and teenagers who are not eligible for the temple until they go on missions or get married. Thus, the temple participation of those eligible is much higher than the book’s figure. Admittedly, the LDS temple-goer is a member who has to make extra effort to qualify. Those who do not go to the temple are not failures, however, as the authors label them. To Latter-day Saints they are potential temple goers. Not every apprentice reaches the master level, not every student graduates, but does that condemn all apprentice and educational programs? Most churches have different levels of observance by their members.

Page 199, lines 15-20

“For 140 years Mormons tried to emphasize that as the ‘only true Church’ they were different from Christians. That approach changed a few years ago, and now there is a big push by the Mormon hierarchy to become accepted as ‘Christians.’ “

Actually, the LDS policy in this regard has been the same from the beginning of the Church: Latter-day Saints claim to be Christians who have received the complete fullness of what original Christianity had to offer, and feel a responsibility to offer it in turn to other Christians and all mankind.

Page 199, line 21 to page 201, line 13

LDS definitions of God, Jesus Christ and Holy Ghost are different from what Christians believe.

Which Christians? Christian denominations differ on the above descriptions, and there are differences of interpretation within each church. Many Christians who believe in the Trinitarian concept adm it is unexplainable.

Following are some of the book’s incorrect claims on how LD people define the Godhead compared to how the LDS actually believe There is little documentation given in the book on these points.

Authors say LDS believe

LDS actually believe

1. Christ and Lucifer were literal brothers in the premortal existence True, but LDS doctrine says that all people were literal brothers and sisters in the premortal spirit existence. See comments about page 25, line 26.
2. Christ was not born of the virgin of the Holy Ghost, but as a result of Mary having sex with God Latter-day Saints believe the account in Luke 1:35 in which the angel said to Mary: “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.”
3. “Jesus . . . was a man who had to prove himself in a mortal body in order to become a ‘God. ‘ “ Christ was a God before He was ever born on this earth (Heb. 1:2).
4. “Mormon theology ridicules the Trinity.” Mormons believe in a trinity in the Godhead, but do define this trinity as literally three separate beings, as shown during the baptism of Jesus, when He came forth out of the water, and the Holy Ghost descended and God the Father spoke from Heaven saying, “This is my beloved Son” (Luke 3:22; Matt. 3:16-17); and again on the Mount of Transfiguration God said the same (Matt. 17:5).
5. The Mormon Holy Ghost cannot be a God. LDS declare the Holy Ghost to be a God who is a personage of spirit. Just as Christ was a God before mortality so is the Holy Ghost now a God with a spirit body only. Some LDS people have felt that the Holy Ghost might someday receive a mortal body, but it is not LDS doctrine.
6. God is a man God is an exalted, glorified man far more superior to mortal man than anyone can conceive.
7. The only way to become a god is to come to earth and prove yourself in a mortal state. Since we know Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost attained Godhood without mortality, it follows that in some circumstances this is possible. We do not know all the reasons in these two circumstances, but it is clear that mortality is God’s way of opening up godhood opportunities for his children.
8. Latter-day Saints do not seem to know all that is involved in becoming a God. True.

Page 201, lines 19-21

“The Melchizedek, or ‘High’ Priesthood, derives its name from the most mysterious figure in the Bible, who appears suddenly and briefly in Abraham’s day. “

The book ignores the fact that Paul spoke of the importance of Melchizedek, and reaffirmed David’s great Messianic Psalm (see Psalms 110:4) by quoting of Christ, “Thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek” (Heb. 5:6). Paul also devoted an entire chapter (Heb. 7) to pointing out, among other things, that Melchizedek was a priest of the most high God, who blessed Abraham—a great man “unto whom even the patriarch Abraham” paid tithes (Heb. 7:4; Gen. 14:18). The brief Old Testament mention of Melchizedek underscores the need for more information on this great man, some of which is provided in LDS scripture.

Page 201, lines 24-27

“Occult groups and secret societies, including modern UFO cults, have laid claim to [the Melchizedek Priesthood].”

This claim is not documented by the book, but of course there is nothing to keep any group from copying ancient beliefs, as distinct from assuming the Melchizedek Priesthood, which is the power of God on earth. If the idea of Melchizedek or any biblical concept is contained in any group the book calls occult or in the LDS Church, that does not negate the biblical fact. It could even be further evidence of the LDS claim of restoration, since a man whom the Bible discusses briefly as being very important, but does not have a great deal of information about, has been elevated to his original importance through LDS modern scripture.

Page 202, lines 12 and 13

“Unfortunately, there is no historical evidence whatsoever that Joseph Smith was ever . . . ordained [to the Melchizedek Priesthood]. “

There are historical dates for just about every important aspect of the restoration of the Gospel. It is true that for some reason the Melchizedek Priesthood restoration has not yet been pinpointed by date, but the event has been narrowed by some historians to the latter part of May or early June 1829 (Larry C. Porter, Ensign, June 1979, pp. 5-10). Not a single date in Christ’s life or the lives of his apostles has been identified, but this does not keep us from accepting Christ. When a document is found giving the date for the restoration of the Melchizedek Priesthood, will the critics become believers? Probably not. The fact that all the important dates in relationship to the coming forth of the Book of Mormon are available doesn’t make the authors believers of the Book of Mormon.

Page 202, lines 14-21

“Many journals [were] kept and even histories published during the early years of the Church, but none of them contains . . . mention of this most important event [the restoration of the Melchizedek Priesthood] until many years after the alleged occurrence.”

Both Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery give specific details on the May 15, 1829, Aaronic Priesthood restoration which speaks of “Peter, James and John, who held the keys of the Priesthood of Melchizedek, . . . which Priesthood . . . would in due time be conferred on us” (Joseph Smith History—1:72).

At the time the Church was organized in 1830 and even in the early days of the Church, the principle of keeping journals had not been observed and Joseph Smith was not the good journal keeper he became later in life. Nevertheless Oliver Cowdery referred to the incident of Melchizedek Priesthood restoration when he returned to the LDS Church in 1848 and two years earlier in a letter that has come to light. See page 207, lines 17-22. For seven accounts of priesthood restoration, see Richard L. Anderson, “The Second Witness of Priesthood Restoration,”Improvement Era, Sept. 1968, pp. 15-24.

Page 202, lines 22-23

That there is no definite account or date recorded for the restoration of the Melchizedek Priesthood “may come as a shock to most Mormons.”

LDS literature and speeches often mention that that date has not yet been found (HC 1:40 footnote).

Page 202, line 28 to page 203, line 7

An 1834 history written by Oliver Cowdery should have mentioned this tremendously significant event of Melchizedek Priesthood restoration.

We can only guess why this account glossed over the priesthood restoration. This history was not intended to be a comprehensive history. Perhaps since this record was for public consumption, it was decided to emphasize other aspects of the restoration such as the coming forth of the Book of Mormon. Perhaps Oliver Cowdery did not want to give the public another issue to make light of, and he instead concentrated on setting the record straight on those issues of Mormonism that were being discussed by the public. Since priesthood and more angels might have renewed attacks on the Church, perhaps Church leaders intentionally did not want to talk about these sacred things at this tune.

Page 203, lines 3-7

Not until 1842 is it written in an LDS periodical that there were two priesthoods, and four angels.

The authors overlook the 1835 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants which says, “John I have sent unto you, my servants, Joseph Smith Jr., and Oliver Cowdery, to ordain you unto the first priesthood which you have received . . . and also . . . Peter, and James, and John, whom I have sent unto you, by whom I have ordained you and confirmed you to be apostles . . . and bear the keys of your ministry . unto whom I have committed the keys of my kingdom.” (D&C 27:8, 12-13. This section appeared as Section 50 in the 1835 edition.) The earliest priesthood restoration reference by Joseph Smith is now 1832, which is not mentioned by the authors, even though it has appeared in book form (Noel B. Reynolds, ed.. Book of Mormon Authorship {SaltLake City, Utah: Bookcraft, 1982], p. 222). The original source for this material is an 1832 manuscript, much of it in Joseph Smith’s handwriting, held by the LDS Historical Department in Salt Lake City. This Joseph Smith 1832 history has been published; see Dean Jessee, The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, p. 4. 1842 was the first printing of any of Joseph Smith’s own history by the Church. It speaks of the coming of the Melchizedek Priesthood in connection with the restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood on May 15, 1829 (HC 1:40). The Melchizedek Priesthood had apparently been restored by June 1829, since the June 1829 revelation known as Section 18 says Oliver Cowdery had been called as an apostle. Also the History of the Church introducing D&C Section 18 speaks of the Melchizedek Priesthood (HC 1:60).

On page 205, lines 20-22 the authors themselves quote Joseph Smith as saying, “The authority of the Melchizedek Priesthood was . . . conferred” at this time (June 1831) on additional members of the Church.

Page 203, lines 13-17

“Mormon authorities themselves admit that there is no evidence to substantiate this claim about the ‘restoration’ of the Melchizedek Priesthood. . . . “

I’ve never heard this said and the statement is not documented. There are several evidences of the Melchizedek Priesthood being restored. LDS authorities have only said there was no known primary document with a date on it. See the previous several items.

Page 203, lines 17 and 18

“There is much evidence that documents were later altered and scriptures falsified. “

There were improvements, changes and revisions made in the history, mostly by Joseph Smith and also others. This is not the same as falsifying. See next item for further remarks.

Page 203, last two lines to page 206, line 18

The book at this time repeats many of the previous charges.

The authors are correct in pointing out that Joseph Smith edited earlier accounts of LDS history and added material that had been left out. However, Joseph forthrightly wrote several times in his journal that he was correcting the history. The same was said by Brigham Young and others who worked on the history after Joseph Smith’s death. These appear to be honest attempts to set the record straight. Why else would those working on the revision mention it so openly?

The book’s conclusion is that all these changes and additions were fabricated after-thoughts. Does anyone write anything and upon looking at it years later not find a better way to say it? Or do not most who write think of additional things they want to add when they are revising their work?

On this point one must simply decide whether the authors’ interpretation of the changes is correct or whether the LDS Church’s declaration is the correct one.

Joseph Smith was not an accurate journal keeper, especially in his early life, and often he did not write anything. This is understandable, with all the other priorities and crises in his life. Those who make history usually don’t have time to write history. Perhaps Joseph did not want to publish certain sacred things, to avoid more persecution. Maybe he was told by heavenly messengers to not say anything yet. In the 1838 account of the First Vision Joseph Smith declares, “Many other things did he [Jesus] say unto me, which I cannot write at this time” (JS-History 1:20).

The accounts of Priesthood restoration and the First Vision were cautiously told. Their reality does not depend on frequent repetition. “There is a corollary operating—an inverse law of sacredness which dictates that the highest gifts will be reported guardedly and reverently” (Richard L. Anderson, Book of Mormon Authorship, p. 223).

Joseph Smith also relied heavily on scribes and historians who were sometimes very negligent. Some parts of the history these men wrote have not been found and could contain some things that cannot now be accounted for.

The authors are correct in saying that changes have been made in LDS history, but their conclusions are their own speculation and interpretation, and do not square with the evidence. Actually all histories of nations, religions, and all aspects of the human story are changed as new documents and evidence come to light. Even background Bible history is affected in this way.

The possible reasons for the changes and additions in the early LDS history are more rational and believable than the authors’ conclusions. Following are examples of mistakes on their pages 204-206 alone:

 

The book’s charges

Historical evidence

1. ” . . . . The 1842 account was fabricated. . . . to shore up the ‘Prophet’s’ sagging authority” (p. 204, lines 103) 1841 and 1842 were perhaps the most peaceful and successful years in Joseph Smith’s life. There were far more troubles in his life prior to and after this time. This also explains why Joseph Smith had time to revise his history at this time.
2. “How else can we account for the undeniable fact that journals, letters, diaries. . . [don’t mention these remarkable events? They can’t be an oversight[ )page 204, lines 12-18) 2. “How else can we account for the undeniable fact that journals, letters, diaries. . . [don’t mention these remarkable events? They can’t be an oversight[ )page 204, lines 12-18)Maybe Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery simply did not want to talk about them. It could have been intentional or perhaps they were commanded to be silent. There were numerous other experiences with deity and angels. Joseph kept these rather quiet, too. The D&C mentions his having received such visits from Adam, Gabriel, Raphael, and numerous angels. We wish that Joseph Smith had told us more about them (D&C 128:20-21). There were many significant events in Christ’s life that we wish someone had recorded. For example, John’s Gospel says, “There are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written” (John 21:25)
3. Why did the 1833 Book of Commandments omit the priesthood revelations (page 204, line 26) The Book of Commandments (without the priesthood revelation), the building and the press it was printed on were destroyed by a mob. Two men were tarred and feathered. Such attacks could have been why certain sacred things were held back for a time. Joseph Smith’s 1832 history and the 1835 Doctrine and Covenants do mention Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthoods (Dean C. Jessee, The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith [1984] p. 4).
4. Two accounts, Joseph Smith’s and David Whitmer’s, both mention that the Melchizedek Priesthood was first conferred in June 1831. “No one remembered to rewrite this telltale statement when the later (and now official) claim was made that Peter, James and John had already conferred this priesthood two years earlier, in 1829” (page 205, lines 20-34). There is no conflict. The 1829 date could be when Joseph and Oliver, the first and second elders of the Church, received the Melchizedek Priesthood. June 3-6, 1831, could be when other leaders of the Church received the higher priesthood. According to David Whitmer some were ordained elders in 1829. However, since this was before the organization of the Church on April 6, 1830, such ordinations would be repeated, just as baptisms were repeated that had been done prior to Church organization.
5. “In 1835 . . . Joseph Smith [said] the office of an elder comes under the priesthood of Melchizedek. Unfortunately, this ‘revelation’ created further contradiction” (page 205, lines 35-40). This shows how one faulty premise leads to subsequent faulty conclusions. Yes, Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery were elders as of 1829 and held the Melchizedek Priesthood as of 1829. The calling of elders in 1831 (previous point) was not a claim that that incident was the first restoration of the Melchizedek Priesthood or the first elders in the Church. The fact that elders were called in 1831 necessitated that those who called them already had that Melchizedek Priesthood.
6. “Elders were instructed concerning ‘the Priesthood of Melchizedek, to which they had not as yet been ordained’ ” (page 206, lines 2-5). William Smith, writing after certain individuals had received the Melchizedek Priesthood, calls them by their newly given title (“elders”) and is merely saying that these individuals (who were now elders) had first received instructions.
7. “How the ‘appendage’ [or Aaronic Priesthood] could exist [by earlier ordination] independent of and prior to conferment of the [Melchizedek] Priesthood to which it is appended has never been explained” (page 206, lines 5-11). The reason seems obvious; just as John the Baptist with the Aaronic priesthood preached prior to Christ, so was this appendage restored first in Joseph Smith’s day. It is logical to give the lesser priesthood before the higher one.

*The Book of Commandments was the first attempted venture at printing some of Joseph Smith’s revelations and is considered the forerunner to various editions of the book known as the Doctrine and Covenants, another volume Latter-day Saints hold as scripture.

Page 206, lines 19-29

“Under the alleged direction of an ‘angel’ . . . unbaptized Smith baptized Cowdery; then Cowdery whose baptism was invalid, baptized Smith. Next, improperly baptized Smith conferred upon also improperly baptized Cowdery the Aaronic Priesthood, which he himself didn’t have to confer; after this, improperly ordained Cowdery conferred upon Smith the Aaronic Priesthood by virtue of having supposedly received it from Smith, which clearly wasn’t possible, since Smith hadn’t yet received it, and never did.”

This logic by the authors would be sound, but for one fact: Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery first received the priesthood keys from the angel, John the Baptist. The authors omit this vital fact, which changes their premise and makes their conclusion wrong. Joseph Smith’s and Oliver Cowdery’s independent testimonies (both found in the Pearl of Great Price) state that before all of the above happened:

A messenger from heaven descended in a cloud of light, and having laid his hands upon us, he ordained us, saying: Upon you my fellow servants in the name of Messiah, I confer the Priesthood of Aaron, which holds the keys of the ministering of angels, and of the gospel of repentance, and of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins . . . (Joseph Smith—History 1:68-69).

This is a classic example of the misuse of logic. You can prove a reasoned case with logic, but all logical arguments are based on a premise or premises. The authors’ premise is that Joseph and Oliver received no priesthood before they baptized each other. Obviously the first two individuals to again perform authorized baptisms after a lapse of centuries would first have to receive the authority to do so.

The authors perhaps feel justified in using their incorrect premise because they do not believe that John the Baptist bestowed the priesthood on Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery. To not believe the testimonies of these two men is one thing, but to omit a crucial element from the testimonies of the two participants while employing other elements to develop a “reasoned case” is hardly an example of pure logic.

The logic of the Aaronic Priesthood restoration as related by Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery is in every way sound.

Page 206, lines 28-29

“[This farce of the restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood] is the foundation upon which the Mormon Church stands today. “

My comments about the previous item as regards the book’s use of “logic” will help the reader to determine where the farce really is being enacted.

Page 206, line 29 to page 207, line I

“It would have been far more believable if John the Baptist, who certainly was competent, had simply baptized Smith and Cowdery. Why didn’t he? No explanation is given.”

Is an explanation needed? Had John the Baptist done the baptizing of Joseph and Oliver, that in itself would still not have given Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery the priesthood. It seems that the LDS version makes more sense than the sequence the book suggests. Priesthood had to be given first before any valid baptizing could be done.

Page 206, footnote

“Why with four Apostles on earth a total apostasy could have occurred requiring ‘restoration’ from heaven is not explained.”

The book assumes there is a problem, since Latter-day Saints teach there was a complete apostasy of Christ’s church and yet there is i teaching in the LDS Church that at least the New Testament apostle John (John 21:22, D&C 7:2-6) and three of the special Book of Mormon disciples (3 Nephi 28:7) have not yet died and are still in the world a large until Christ’s second coming.

The Book of Mormon twelve are usually referred to as disciples Moroni 2:1 uses the term “apostles” and so did Joseph Smith on at leas one occasion (HC IV:538). The Book of Mormon twelve are certainly subordinate to the twelve apostles in the Holy Land since the Book of Mormon says they will be judged by the “other twelve whom Jesus; chose in the land of Jerusalem” (Mormon 3:19).

In any event, it seems as if four disciples could be free to roam the earth to bless people even though they had no ecclesiastical assignments since God’s authorized church was not on the earth. An apostasy does not mean that works of righteousness cannot be done by individuals, aided at times by one of the four men referred to Actually, the Apostle John, along with Peter and James, was involved in the restoration of the Melchizedek Priesthood, just as the Savior, Moses and Elias had earlier bestowed the same priesthood keys or Peter, James and John (Matt. 16:19; 17:1; HC 3:387).

Page 207, lines 1-3

“By the time the angel had been turned into John the Baptist it was too late to rewrite the entire story. “

How can a story be rewritten that has not been written? Why this would be “too late” is not made clear since the book claims most of Joseph Smith’s history was fabricated at a later date (1838). Resurrected beings are often referred to as angels, and so “John the Baptist” and “angel” are one and the same personage. Moses and Elias appeared as angels to the Savior and Peter, James and John on th( Mount of Transfiguration (Luke 9:31).

Page 207, lines 17-22

“After rejoining the Church in 1848, . . . Oliver Cowdrey declared: ‘I was also present when the higher or Melchizedek Priesthood . . . was conferred by the holy angel from on high.’ “

The book claims Oliver Cowdery said this to “get back in good graces” with the LDS Church, claiming that he was unaware that “holy angel” had become Peter, James and John during his absence from the Church. Had the authors checked the original source they would have found Oliver said angels, not angel (Richard L. Bushman, Joseph Smith and the Beginnings ofMormonism, p. 241).

The authors ignore a letter written two years earlier in 1846 by Oliver Cowdery to his brother-in-law Phineas Young which indicates Oliver was contemplating rejoining the LDS Church. In this letter he does mention Peter: “I . . . stood in the presence of John with our departed brother Joseph, to receive the Lesser Priesthood—and in the presence of Peter, to receive the Greater [Priesthood]” (Ensign, February 1977, p. 78).

Would Oliver Cowdery want to return to an organization that was the seam the book claims? He never received any special benefits by returning. What I have learned about Oliver Cowdery is that he was a man of honesty. He, perhaps more than any living person besides Joseph Smith, would know whether or not the LDS Prophet was a fraud. Oliver Cowdery, who felt he had been treated wrongly, had every reason to expose Mormonism, if he had not known it to be true and of divine origin.

His reference to Peter on one occasion and to angels instead of naming all three angels (Peter, James and John) could have reference to the one who spoke to him in the blessing. When Latter-day Saints refer to any ordinations or confirmations, they seldom refer to anyone in the “circle” except the person who speaks the blessing.

Page 207, line 27 to page 208, line 3

“[Mormons must be disconcerted that] those three ‘counterfeiters’ [as Joseph Smith at one time called them] Cowdery, Whitmer, and Harris . . . ordained all of the first twelve Apostles of the Church. “

Eight things are necessary to note concerning the foregoing statement:

  1. Would Joseph Smith dare say anything negative about those men if the work weren’t true and he thought they might expose a “fraud”?
  2. They all at this time had been guilty of breaking commandments, and excommunication was in order to maintain Church integrity.
  3. Calling the three witnesses “counterfeiters” was a mild rebuke to what they deserved at that time.
  4. Christ at times rebuked those whom he loved and then accepted them, as when he called Peter “Satan” (Mark 8:33).
  5. Joseph Smith made efforts to have the “fallen” three witnesses return.
  6. Even with the three witnesses being guilty of later transgressions, that did not invalidate earlier ordinations they had made. When a priesthood holder ordains someone the validity of his action is obviously not dependent on his future worthiness.
  7. A fundamental doctrine of the LDS Church is repentance. It is certainly understandable that Joseph Smith might have occasion to speak against his former close associates when they were cut off from the Church. To have two of the three witnesses want to return and to have the LDS Church grant forgiveness is an example of mercy. Rather than being “disconcerting” as the book charges, it demonstrates the LDS belief in forgiveness, mercy and repentance.
  8. The twelve apostles were ordained before the three witnesses began having problems. Years after their excommunication two of the witnesses returned to the Church. None ever denied his testimony of the Book of Mormon.

Page 208, lines 9-16

“The Church has . . . built a monument to its own astonishing hypocrisy in the form of the Martin Harris Memorial Amphitheater. “

The book makes this statement because of the fact that at times Martin Harris was at odds with the LDS Church. It is true Martin had his problems, and when he was responsible for losing the first 116 pages of the manuscript of the Book of Mormon, he was rebuked for breaking promises and called a “wicked man” (D&C 3:12, 10:7).

Like all of us, Martin Harris had both strengths and weaknesses. Instead of complimenting the LDS Church for its policy of forgiving and welcoming back a former member with open arms, as the Savior taught in the parable of the prodigal son, the book takes a critical stand. See previous item for further remarks.

Page 208, lines 19-27

“Joseph Smith himself claimed he ‘saw the twelve in the celestial kingdom of God. ‘ In fact at least half of the original twelve apostles were excommunicated. “

It is presumptuous for anyone to claim that the first Twelve Apostles in the LDS church will not all someday be in one of the degrees of the celestial kingdom. Perhaps God is more forgiving than the authors. Some of the original Twelve remained faithful and four of those excommunicated or disfellowshipped returned to the LDS Church after they admitted their errors and repented. Again we see Joseph Smith was so sure of the truthfulness of what he was doing that those not keeping the commandments of God were expendable, because he would not compromise the integrity of the Church leadership. A conspiracy could not afford to remove members of its own leadership. The Twelve is a body regardless of who constitutes its membership.

Page 208, lines 29-32

“Long before Hitler and Stalin used the technique so effectively, Joseph Smith had already learned by trial and error that if you tell a big enough lie often enough, many people will eventually believe it.”

Truth repeated often enough will also find many people who will believe. Actually, the truth or falseness of an idea is independent of how many times something is repeated.

The LDS Church has survived much longer than any of its critics and will continue being a force for goodness, mercy, advocating the keeping of God’s laws, strengthening the family and testifying of Jesus Christ.

The really big lie in the world is saying that “sin is not sin.” Such sins as lying, cheating, adultery are being imposed upon our society by the technique of repetition. It is ironic that the authors condemn LDS works and efforts to teach and live Christian principles but are infuriated by some differences over doctrine that Latter-day Saints proclaim. The authors are guilty of the same technique by repeatedly insisting their version of Christianity is true because it is “traditional,” when in fact “traditional” Christianity is far removed from what Christians believed for a century or so following Christ’s ministry.

Page 208, last line to page 209, line 8

A number of new charges are made, though most were stated before. One is that the LDS prophet said there are men on the moon. See earlier discussion about page 79, line 21. Mormons say “The Holy Ghost [can turn] Gentile blood into Jewish blood. ”

See previous remarks in connection with page 7, lines 5-14.

“Jewish-Gentile-Christian-Mormon Temples . . . prominently display the upside-down, five-pointed star {Goat of Mendes]. “

Does the use of stars on the flag of the United States or on generals’ uniforms indicate an occult connection?

The authors fail to mention that there are also stones on the Salt Lake temple representing the sun and moon. In LDS theology the sun, moon, and stars are used to symbolize the three kinds of heaven (celestial, terrestrial and telestial) which mankind will inhabit in the eternities as taught by Paul when he said: “There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial . . .. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars” (I Cor. 15:40-41). The sun, moon, and star carvings on the Salt Lake Temple are mainly decorative and undoubtedly represent the LDS concept of these three heavens that Paul spoke of. (See also 2 Cor. 12:2).

Some scholars have maintained that when a star has two of its points pointing upward, that in certain societies it is known as the “Star of the East” with the two points representing outstretched arms to receive truth from the heavens.

My colleague, Don F. Colvin, has pointed out that the Salt Lake Temple has 104 five-pointed stars as part of the architectural design, of which 32 point downward. However, no goat’s head is part of these stars, as is often the case with the Star of Mendes.

Some portrayals of the ancient Egyptian Goat of Mendes that I have seen do not have the upside down stars that the book claims, but regular stars (Richard Cavendish, Man, Myth and Magic[1970), 8:1118-1121; 2:217). Boy scouts have a tenderfoot badge with two upside down stars. Does that make Boy Scouts an occult movement?

Page 208, lines 32-34

“Every Mormon temple stands as an astonishing monument to a lie so huge and so bold that it becomes convincing.”

To refer in this way to these sacred buildings constructed with great love and sacrifice and dedicated as “The House of the Lord” is a gross insult.

Page 208, lines 35-36

“These temples are supposed to be like the ones Enoch, Noah, and Abraham worshipped in, yet there were no such temples. “

There is no documentation in the book verifying the authors’ assertion.

LDS doctrine does not claim to have information whether the foregoing prophets worshipped in temples.

Page 209, lines 5-8

“[In the temple] blond, blue-eyed, pseudo-Aaronic Priests . . . [perform] secret pagan rituals and openly wear a fig-leaf apron that symbolizes Lucifer’s ‘Power and Priesthoods.’ “

Actually, no Aaronic priesthood holder may participate in this temple ceremony. The Melchizedek Priesthood holders and women participating are of all the human family’s colorings.

Page 209, lines 9-22

“There will be no temple in the New Jerusalem. Nor is there so much as a hint in all the Bible that temples of any kind, except the one temple for Israel . . . are . . . to be built.”

The main ideas about LDS temples come from modern LDS scripture.

Page 209, lines 16-18

Joseph Smith prophesied that during his lifetime a temple would be built in Independence, Missouri.

The Lord did direct the LDS prophet to construct this temple, but I am not aware that Joseph Smith claimed he would live to see it completed. Just as the biblical people lost their temple on two occasions and still have not realized their dream of rebuilding it, so Latter-day Saints await a Missouri temple.

One of the revelations in connection with the Independence temple even states that “after much tribulation come the blessings.” Only then might those living in Missouri “be honored in laying the foundation [of the temple],” not necessarily see it completed (D&C 58:4,7).

Zacharias prophesied that Jesus would save the Jews from their enemies and deliver the Jewish nation (Luke 1:67-75). This of course did not happen at that time and is still to come.

Page 209, lines 21-22

“[The Missouri temple must be built to] prepare the way for Christ to return with Joseph Smith to rule the world.”

See comments about page 7, lines 5-14, for earlier discussion on LDS doctrine about Joseph Smith and the Millennium.

Page 209, lines 23-25

“It is only when we see Mormonism as a revolutionary secret society determined to take over the world that we begin to understand the real purpose behind its Priesthoods.”

This statement is misleading. Latter-day Saints, like most other Christians, believe in the coming millennial reign of Christ as many prophets predicted. Latter-day Saints claim to be forerunners to this event, but the LDS Church has absolutely no revolutionary plans for U.S. or world conquest. The function of Mormonism in this preparation for Christ’s second coming is merely to develop as many righteous people as possible from whom Christ can draw for leadership to carry out the righteous works of his kingdom. If Latter-day Saints are correct, having the priesthood involved is logical. Since the authors maintain Mormon priesthoods are satanic, why do they worry? Do they think an omnipotent God would permit the LDS priesthood to have any involvement in the Millennium if it is satanic?

Page 209, lines 33-34

“Joseph Smith boldly declared: 1 intend to lay a foundation that will revolutionize the whole world. ‘ “

The book leaves out what the LDS prophet said two lines later: “It will not be by sword or gun that this kingdom will roll on” (HC 6:365). Without the inclusion of this nonviolent statement the one the authors quote makes the LDS movement appear militant, which it is not.

Page 209, lines 34-36

“Apostle Orson Hyde boasted: “What the world calls “Mormonism” will rule every nation.’ “

See earlier comments about page 209, lines 23-25, and page 143, lines 10-15.

Page 209, line 36 to page 210, line 2

John Taylor stated “. . . that kingdom which the Lord has commenced to establish upon the earth . . . will not only govern all people in a religious capacity, but also in a political capacity. ”

In lines that precede the quote, John Taylor says: “God will establish his kingdom upon the earth, ” and a few lines later, “God will introduce a rule and government of his own upon this earth, and that all nations, all rule, all power, all government will have to submit to that rule” (/D 7:53; italics added). Most Christians believe this.

John Taylor’s message, when the whole talk is read, is that the LDS Church is the beginning of a kingdom that will prepare for Christ’s kingdom. John Taylor makes it clear the LDS Church’s role prior to the Millennium is “to teach faith in Jesus Christ, repentance and baptism for the remission of sins. . . .”

Although omitted by the book, LDS scripture on the second coming is clear.

Be prepared for the days to come, in which the Son of Man shall come down from heaven, clothed in the brightness of his glory, to meet the kingdom of God which is set up on the earth.

Wherefore, may the kingdom of God go forth, that the kingdom of heaven may come, that thou, 0 God, mayest be glorified in heaven so on earth. . . . (D&C 65:5-6)

In these verses there definitely is a distinction between the LDS Church kingdom of God and Christ’s millennial kingdom of heaven. The former is strictly a religious entity. This agrees with the Apostle John who spoke of a “new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven” (Rev. 21:2).

John Taylor in a few lines following the initial quote by the authors also says, “We respect, honor, and obey the Constitution and laws of the nation with which we are associated.”

Page 210, lines 7-9

“The plan of said Smith, the Prophet, is to take this state [of Missouri], and . . . the United States and ultimately the whole world.” The book says Ms statement was made by Thomas B. Marsh, “disillusioned former President of the council of the Twelve Apostles.”

Some errors need to be clarified:

1. The foregoing is a quotation from a dissertation by Leland Gentry, A History of letter-day Saints in Northern Missouri from 1836-1839, p. 414. The God Makers does not point out that in Marsh’s affidavit he is referring to a “conversation between Dr. Samson Avard and other Mormons.” Dr. Avard headed a group of LDS vigilantes called the “Danites” who were using unlawful means of striking back at those who were fighting against the LDS Church at the time. Avard was excommunicated from the LDS Church for his actions.

From the same dissertation we also learn:

The Mormon prophet emphatically denied that the Danite order had any official status in the Church and issued stern warnings to the saints to be aware of all groups whose spirit was foreign to the gospel of Jesus Christ (Gentry, p. 361).

Also, Avard had a history of lying and later blamed Joseph Smith for his own unlawful activities, and to avoid any convictions for the Danites’ illegal activities. He hardly is a credible source.

2. Marsh did not leave Mormonism because he was disillusioned, as the authors seem to be implying, but because he was excommunicated for supporting his wife when she was called to account for deceptive business practices. Marsh, in later years, moved to Salt Lake City and asked to return to the LDS Church, admitting his mistakes and regretting his apostasy. He was forgiven and readmitted.

Speaking of Marsh and other LDS dissenters during the last days in Missouri, Gentry said, “These men had been, for all intents and purposes, lost to the cause of Zion for some time” (Gentry, p. 168). This indicates that those who left the LDS Church at this time did not become disillusioned at what was happening, but rather slipped away from their faith before illegal Danite activities became a problem in Missouri.

Page 210, lines 10-13

“The temple ceremonies . . . have nothing to do with the grace of God or the sacrifice of Christ for our sins.”

By extending salvation to those who would be denied this blessing, LDS temple work is a manifestation of the grace of God. It makes God’s grace available to all, something many interpretations of Christianity have not been able to do.

As to the temple having nothing to do with the sacrifice of Christ, just the opposite is true. Latter-day Saint doctrine teaches that temple-goers can become more Christ-like when they emulate the Spirit of Christ’s sacrifice by doing essential work in the temple for themselves and those who have passed beyond. These ordinances are done on behalf of those who could not do them for themselves while they lived, just as part of Christ’s atonement was in payment for the sins of those who accept him as their Savior.

Page 210, lines 13-14

“Secret names, signs, symbols, handshakes, and formulas of classic occultism and ritual magic [must be used by the LDS temple initiate] to ascend the ladder of hierarchy and thereby gain access to the coveted powers of the ‘Gods.’ This was Satan’s promise.”

There are several points which should be made in regard to the foregoing statement:

  1. Any power bestowed in the temple is contingent on worthiness, not on names, signs, symbols, etc.
  2. There are no occult formulas or ritual magic in the temple.
  3. If by the term hierarchy the authors mean advancement in LDS Church positions, then there is nothing in LDS temple rituals which leads up such a ladder.
  4. The authors’ statement does not define classic occultism. There are as many varieties of occultism as there are versions of Christianity.
  5. The role of Satan is portrayed in the temple, but his “promise” comes word for word from Genesis 3:3-5. The promise, “Ye shall not surely die,” was a lie, and Adam and Eve’s transgression in hearkening to Satan meant death to them as God stated in Genesis and is quoted in the temple ceremony.
  6. The book ignores the fact that much of the LDS temple ceremony can be found in biblical and LDS scripture that anyone can read. It is presented in a manner to enhance effective teaching.

Page 210, line 24 to last line

“[Priesthood] is the law that governs and controls all things, and will eventually govern and control the earth and the inhabitants that dwell upon it. . . .” The authors interpret this Brigham Young quotation as explaining “the occult power and real purpose behind the Melchizedek Priesthood. “

President Brigham Young in this talk was actually defining the differences between Satan’s and God’s purposes and was renouncing Satan’s methods (JD 10:32). The authors have completely misinterpreted the intent of Brigham Young’s speech. His message: The LDS Church is a product of God’s (not occult) priesthood.

Latter-day Saints do believe they possess the priesthood which belongs to Christ. If the authors are correct and Latter-day Saints are disillusioned, LDS people will certainly have no part in the Millennium, because Christ will make sure that no “pretenders or satanic usurpers” are part of his kingdom.

X. Unwarranted Conclusions

The following examples, like the foregoing section, are mostly undocumented, but go one step further by drawing conclusions that the facts presented or not presented do not warrant.

Book’s version

Actual meaning

1. Mormon lying “can be traced to their belief that they are in the process of becoming ‘Gods’ ” (237:25). The LDS Church teaches that lying would disqualify one from ever reaching that state.
2. As more Latter-day Saints get into government, “the Constitutional prohibition against . . . a state church would no longer be enforceable” (242:29). To think this possible is not to understand the United States’ system of checks and balances. This just isn’t possible.
3. Secular humanism and Mormonism are alike (259:6). These two concepts are extremely different since humanism embraces no belief in God.
4. “A ‘God’ that fits anyone’s definition is clearly man’s creature and not his Creator” (258:32). True. That is why Joseph Smith was instructed by the Lord to restore the correct concept of God to replace that which had become nonbiblical.
5. Quetzalcoatl is the devil (197:10). Latter-day Saints believe this feathered serpent image worshipped by the early inhabitants of ancient America had degenerated to an apostate version of what had once been the worship of Christ.
6. The world’s “horror and shame can be traced to the fact that we have almost five billion little counterfeit gods in the. world” (261:5-15). The problems of society are caused by deteriorating moral standards, godless philosophies, and religions that have strayed from original teachings.
7. “Adieu” in Mother Smith’s recently found letter probably explains why Joseph Smith used that French word in the Book of Mormon (218:19). The use of “Adieu” in the Book of Mormon shows that Joseph was translating the language from the plates to the vernacular of the times. Since the Mother Smith letter is now known to have been a forgery, the charge is irrelevant.
8. After being told by God to join no church, Joseph Smith became a Methodist (216:32). The charge was written many years after the fact by a bitter anti-LDS person and states that Joseph Smith’s name appeared on a Sunday School class roll for three days before he had his name removed.
9. “The god of the ghouls is named ‘Mormo’ [and] . . . in Chinese ‘Mormon’ means ‘gates of hell’ ” (72:28). In the German language “Gift” means “poison.” There are thousands of examples of words that sound the same that have completely different meanings in other languages. The authors fail to state that the Satanic Bible they use for a source actually identifies “Mormo” as coming from Greek mythology and is not equated with Mormonism at all as they claim.