Answers to Questions All Mormons Should Ask Themselves/Questions 1-28

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Response to "Questions All Mormons Should Ask Themselves" (Questions 1-28)

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A FairMormon Analysis of: Questions All Mormons Should Ask Themselves (Questions 1-28), a work by author: Contender Ministries
Claim Evaluation
Questions All Mormons Should Ask Themselves
Chart QAMSAT 1-28.jpg

Response to claim: "1. If Gods are individuals who have passed through mortality and have progressed to Godhood, how has one person of the Trinity (the Holy Spirit) attained Godhood without getting a body?"

The author(s) of Questions All Mormons Should Ask Themselves make(s) the following claim:

1. If Gods are individuals who have passed through mortality and have progressed to Godhood, how has one person of the Trinity (the Holy Spirit) attained Godhood without getting a body?

(Author's sources: Scripture reference: Acts 5:3-4)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

  • Having a body is necessary for a fullness of joy (DC 93:33). It will be necessary for the Holy Spirit to receive a body at some point, but the timeframe in which He does so is not particularly important. (To travel to another country, one needs both a passport and an airplane ticket. It doesn't matter in which order one gets the passport or the ticket, but one must eventually have both in order to reach one's destination.)



  • If correct sequence is an imperative, one must explain how Christ's atonement could be efficacious to those who were born, lived, and died prior to His crucifixion. The fact that it was effective should blunt any feigned requirement for sequence concerning the Holy Ghost's receipt of a physical body, a matter about which the Church has no official doctrine.
  • This is essentially the same objection below in #2. Repetition does not increase this question's cogency.

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Question: Can the Holy Ghost not be fully God, because he does not have a physical body?

It is not known by revelation that it will be necessary for the Holy Spirit to receive a body at some point

Critics charge that since LDS doctrine teaches that a body is required for exaltation, the Holy Ghost cannot be fully God, because he does not have a physical body.

Modern scriptures indicate that having a body is necessary for a fullness of joy (DC 93:33). It is assumed by some Latter-day Saints—but not known by revelation—that it will be necessary for the Holy Spirit to receive a body at some point, but the timeframe in which He does so is not particularly important. (To travel overseas to another country, one needs both a passport and an airplane ticket. It doesn't matter in which order one gets the passport or the ticket, but one must eventually have both in order to reach one's destination.)

Jehovah, the premortal Jesus Christ, was part of the Godhead before his mortal birth. He was the God of Israel, and his yet-future atonement was efficacious to those who were born, lived, and died prior to His crucifixion. The fact that it was effective should blunt any feigned requirement for sequence concerning the Holy Ghost's receipt of a physical body, a matter about which the Church has no official doctrine.


Response to claim: "2. If Gods are individuals who have passed through an earth life to attain Godhood, how is it that one person of the Trinity (Jesus Christ) was God before He received a body or passed through earth life?"

The author(s) of Questions All Mormons Should Ask Themselves make(s) the following claim:

2. If Gods are individuals who have passed through an earth life to attain Godhood, how is it that one person of the Trinity (Jesus Christ) was God before He received a body or passed through earth life?

(Author's sources: Scripture reference: Matthew 1:23 and Hebrews 10:5)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

Having a body is necessary for a fullness of joy (DC 93:33). It was necessary that at some point Jesus receive a body, but the timeframe in which He did so is not particularly important. (To travel to another country, one needs both a passport and an airplane ticket. It doesn't matter in which order one gets the passport or the ticket, but one must eventually have both in order to reach one's destination.) If correct sequence is an imperative, one must explain how Christ's atonement could be efficacious to those who were born, lived, and died prior to His crucifixion. The fact that it was effective should blunt any feigned requirement for sequence concerning the Christ's receipt of a physical body. It is refreshing, though, to see anti-Mormon critics admit that the LDS consider Jesus Christ to be God. We trust they will remember this point. The critics repeat essentially the same objection above in #1. Repetition does not increase this question's cogency.



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Question: How did Christ achieve deification before mortality?

It was necessary that at some point Jesus receive a body, but the specific time in which He did so is not particularly important

It is claimed that Latter-day Saint doctrine, which teaches that a physical body is necessary for a fulness of glory, is inconsistent, since Jesus was God prior to his mortal birth. However, having a body is necessary for a fullness of joy (DC 93:33). The Holy Ghost is also God, but does not at present have a body in LDS doctrine.

It was necessary that at some point Jesus receive a body, but the specific time in which He did so is not particularly important. (To travel overseas, one needs both a passport and an airplane ticket. It doesn't matter in which order one gets the passport or the ticket, but one must eventually have both in order to reach one's destination.)

If a specific sequence is an absolutely requirement, then all Christians would need to explain how Christ's atonement could be efficacious to those who were born, lived, and died prior to His crucifixion. The fact that the atonement was effective should caution us against adopting an absolute requirement for sequence concerning Christ's receipt of a physical body.

Critics ignore that the gospel teaches us what we must do to fulfill God's commandments and purposes. It does not spend much time telling us what Jesus was required to do—clearly, he had many duties and abilities which far outstripped ours. That is why he was God and Savior before we came to this earth, and why we must rely upon his grace for salvation.


Response to claim: "3. If the Book of Mormon really contains the fullness of the Gospel, why does it not teach the doctrine of 'eternal progression'?"

The author(s) of Questions All Mormons Should Ask Themselves make(s) the following claim:

3. If the Book of Mormon really contains the fullness of the Gospel, why does it not teach the doctrine of “eternal progression”?

(Author's sources: Scripture reference: DC 20:8,9)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda and/or spin - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

The Book of Mormon is correct in the doctrines and principles it teaches, but it does not claim to contain all truth.



Question: What does it mean when it is said that the Book of Mormon contains the "fulness of the gospel?"

The Book of Mormon contains the fulness of the Gospel, for the purpose of convincing Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ

The Lord declared that he had given Joseph Smith "power from on high...to translate the Book of Mormon; which contains a record of a fallen people, and the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles and to the Jews also" (D&C 20:8-9; cf. D&C 27:5; D&C 42:12; D&C 135:3).

The Book of Mormon is correct in the doctrines and principles it teaches, but it does not claim to contain all truth. Its own self-described purpose is to "the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that JESUS is the CHRIST, the ETERNAL GOD, manifesting himself unto all nations" (title page), and that these teachings are "plain and precious" (1 Nephi 13:35,40; 1 Nephi 19:3). For the most part, the Book of Mormon does not concern itself with the deeper mysteries of God.

The book itself admits that it does not contain all the doctrines the Lord wants us to know. The prophet Mormon explained that he only recorded "the lesser part of the things which [Jesus] taught the people," for the intent that "when [the Book of Mormon reader] shall have received this...if it shall so be that they shall believe these things then shall the greater things be made manifest unto them" (3 Nephi 26:8-9; compare Alma 26:22).

What is the gospel?

In the Book of Mormon, Jesus Christ gave a specific definition of "the gospel":

Behold I have given unto you my gospel, and this is the gospel which I have given unto you—that I came into the world to do the will of my Father, because my Father sent me.

And my Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross; and after that I had been lifted up upon the cross, that I might draw all men unto me, that as I have been lifted up by men even so should men be lifted up by the Father, to stand before me, to be judged of their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil—

And for this cause have I been lifted up; therefore, according to the power of the Father I will draw all men unto me, that they may be judged according to their works.

And it shall come to pass, that whoso repenteth and is baptized in my name shall be filled; and if he endureth to the end, behold, him will I hold guiltless before my Father at that day when I shall stand to judge the world.

And he that endureth not unto the end, the same is he that is also hewn down and cast into the fire, from whence they can no more return, because of the justice of the Father.

And this is the word which he hath given unto the children of men. And for this cause he fulfilleth the words which he hath given, and he lieth not, but fulfilleth all his words.

And no unclean thing can enter into his kingdom; therefore nothing entereth into his rest save it be those who have washed their garments in my blood, because of their faith, and the repentance of all their sins, and their faithfulness unto the end.

(3 Nephi 27:13-19, italics added.)

In this passage, Jesus defines "the gospel" as:

  1. Christ came into the world to do the Father's will.
  2. The Father sent Christ to be crucified.
  3. Because of Christ's atonement, all men will be judged by him according to their works (as opposed to not receiving a judgment at all and being cast out of God's presence by default; 2 Nephi 9:8-9).
  4. Those who repent and are baptized shall be filled (with the Holy Ghost, see 3 Nephi 12:6), and
  5. if they continue in faith by enduring to the end they will be justified (declared "not guilty") by Christ before the Father, but
  6. if they don't endure they will be subject to the justice of God and cast out of his presence.
  7. The Father's words will all be fulfilled.
  8. Because no unclean thing can enter the Father's heavenly kingdom, only those who rely in faith on the atonement of Christ, repent, and are faithful to the end can be saved.

This is "the gospel." The Book of Mormon teaches these concepts with a plainness and clarity unequaled by any other book. It has therefore been declared by the Lord to contain "the fulness of the gospel." The primary message of the gospel, the "good news" of Jesus Christ, is that he has atoned for our sins and prepared a way for us to come back into the presence of the Father. This is the message of the Book of Mormon, and it contains it in its fulness.


Question: How can the Book of Mormon contain the "fulness of the Gospel" if it does not speak of ordinances such as baptism for the dead or celestial marriage?

The Book of Mormon does not contain detailed descriptions of many religious topics and ordinances, such as eternal marriage or baptism for the dead

Is it possible that the Book of Mormon cannot contain "the fulness of the gospel" because it doesn't teach certain unique LDS doctrines, such as baptism for the dead, the Word of Wisdom, the three degrees of glory, celestial marriage, vicarious work for the dead, and the corporeal nature of God the Father?

There are many religious topics and doctrines which The Book of Mormon does not discuss in detail (e.g., the premortal existence—see Alma 13:), and some which are not even mentioned (e.g., the ordinance of baptism for the dead).

This is unsurprising, since the Book of Mormon's goal is to teach the "fulness of the gospel"—the doctrine of Christ.

Harold B. Lee: "our scoffers say, 'How can you say that the Book of Mormon has the fulness of the gospel when it doesn't speak of baptism for the dead?'"

Of this criticism, Harold B. Lee said:

Now, our scoffers say, "How can you say that the Book of Mormon has the fulness of the gospel when it doesn't speak of baptism for the dead?" Some of you may have asked that question.

What is the gospel as it is defined? Let me give you how the Lord defines the gospel, in these words: "And verily, verily, I say unto you, he that receiveth my gospel receiveth me; and he that receiveth not my gospel receiveth not me. And this is my gospel—repentance and baptism by water, and then cometh the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost, even the Comforter, which showeth all things, and teacheth the peaceable things of the kingdom." (DC 39:5-6.)

Wherever you have a restoration of the gospel, where those fundamental ordinances and the power of the Holy Ghost are among men, there you have the power by which the Lord can reveal all things that pertain to the kingdom in detail, don't you see, including baptism for the dead, which He has done in our day. That is what the Prophet Joseph Smith meant when he was questioned, "How does your church differ from all the other churches?" and his answer was simple, "We are different from all the other churches because we have the Holy Ghost." (See History of the Church 4:42.) Therein we have the teachings of the fulness of those essentials in the Book of Mormon upon the foundations of which the kingdom of God is established.[1]

BYU professor Noel Reynolds wrote:

The gospel of Jesus Christ is not synonymous with the plan of salvation (or plan of redemption), but is a key part thereof. Brigham Young stated that the 'Gospel of the Son of God that has been revealed is a plan or system of laws and ordinances, by strict obedience to which the people who inhabit this earth are assured that they may return again into the presence of the Father and the Son.' While the plan of salvation is what God and Christ have done for mortals in the creation, the fall, the atonement, the final judgment, and the salvation of the world, the gospel contains the instructions--the laws and ordinances--that enable human beings to make the atonement effective in their lives and thereby gain salvation.[2]


Response to claim: "4. God said, 'Is there a God beside me? Yea, there is no God; I know not any'. How can there be Gods who are Elohim’s ancestors?"

The author(s) of Questions All Mormons Should Ask Themselves make(s) the following claim:

4. God said, “Is there a God beside me? Yea, there is no God; I know not any”. How can there be Gods who are Elohim’s ancestors? Surely an all-knowing God would know this and wouldn’t speak falsehoods.

(Author's sources: Scripture reference: Isaiah 44:8
Other reference: Journal of Discourses Vol. 1, pg. 123)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

Critics often misunderstand the doctrine of theosis, or human deification. Yet, it is a doctrine shared by many early Christians and much of modern Eastern Christianity (e.g., Eastern Orthodox). However, the question asked here represents a misunderstanding of the Isaiah scripture in its ancient context when compared with the rest of the Bible. The critics again try to pad their questions by asking essentially the same question in #5 below.



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Response to claim: "5. How can any men ever become Gods when the Bible says, 'Before me there was no god formed, neither shall there be after me'?"

The author(s) of Questions All Mormons Should Ask Themselves make(s) the following claim:

5. How can any men ever become Gods when the Bible says, “Before me there was no god formed, neither shall there be after me”?

(Author's sources: Scripture reference: Isaiah 43:10)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

Critics often misunderstand the doctrine of theosis, or human deification. Yet, it is a doctrine shared by many early Christians and much of modern Eastern Christianity (e.g., Eastern Orthodox).



  • However, the question asked here represents a misunderstanding of the Isaiah scripture in its ancient context when compared with the rest of the Bible. In this case, the reading is particularly problematic. The Christian site which asks this question would need to explain exactly what the scripture is referring to when it says "Before me" and "after me". Since they do not believe there is ever a time when God does not exist, it cannot really refer to anything at all, and certainly the text doesn't exclude a "during me" reading. This passage is actually a comparison which Isaiah is drawing between the God of Israel (YHWH) and the Canaanite deity worshipped by many Israelites at the time: Ba'al. Ba'al had become chief of the Canaanite pantheon by defeating Yaam (another Canaanite deity). And by extension there was the presumption that he could also be superseded (we see this in the Ugaritic myths). YHWH on the other hand did not replace anyone to become God, and, Isaiah claims, he would not be replaced. Before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me". Such a text doesn't apply to the issue of strict monotheism, and it fits right in with an LDS model of Theosis - while we may reach an exalted state and become heirs to the kingdom, we do not replace God, nor do we desire to. The critics again try to pad their questions by asking essentially the same question in #4 above.

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Question: How is Mormon belief compatible with Isaiah's statement that beside the Lord "there is no God?"

These scriptures in Isaiah clearly are meant to assert the supremacy, authority, and superiority of Yahweh over not only over false idols but over all else, including real gods

Some Christians claim that the Mormon doctrine of the Godhead and belief in theosis are not compatible with multiple statements in Isaiah that "beside [the Lord] there is no God." These passages include Isaiah 43:10-11; Isaiah 44:6,8; Isaiah 45:5-6; Isaiah 45:21-22; and Isaiah 46:9-10.

These scriptures in Isaiah clearly are meant to assert the supremacy, authority, and superiority of Yahweh over not only over false idols but over all else, including real gods.

The passages in Isaiah cannot be called upon to disprove LDS beliefs in separate divine beings in the Godhead or theosis. Their main point is to encourage Israel to stop worshiping other divine beings or idols but to worship Yahweh alone (see Isaiah 41:29, Isaiah 42:8, Isaiah 43:10,12,24, Isaiah 44:8,9,10,17,19, Isaiah 45:9,12,16,20,22.

Any other use of these passages distorts Isaiah's meaning and intent.

Isaiah 44:6 reads:

Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.

Passages such as Isa 44:6,8 and 45:5,21 that read "no God beside me" or a variation of that phrase are traditionally interpreted by mainstream anti-Mormons as meaning that other than Yahweh no form of deity exists at all, including exalted men. This type of interpretation at first seems obvious, but after considering similar passages in other parts of scripture it is clear that this interpretation is incorrect.

For example, Isaiah 47:8-10 depicts the city of Babylon as saying:

Therefore hear now this, thou that art given to pleasures, that dwellest carelessly, that sayest in thine heart, I am, and none else beside me; I shall not sit as a widow, neither shall I know the loss of children:
For thou hast trusted in thy wickedness: thou hast said, None seeth me. Thy wisdom and thy knowledge, it hath perverted thee; and thou hast said in thine heart, I am, and none else beside me.

These passages use the exact same phrase as Isa 44 and 45, yet they certainly do not exclude the existence of any city other than Babylon. The city of Ninevah would be very upset if this were the case, as Zephaniah depicts Ninevah in Zephaniah 2:15 as saying:

This is the rejoicing city that dwelt carelessly, that said in her heart, I am, and there is none beside me: how is she become a desolation, a place for beasts to lie down in! every one that passeth by her shall hiss, and wag his hand.

Again it is clear that this phrase does not exclude the very existence of other cities. Using these parallel phrases makes it clear that Isaiah is not excluding the very existence of any other deity when he quotes Yahweh as declaring "there is no God beside me." There are, in fact, several scriptures in the Old Testament that imply that Yahweh is in fact one of a number of Gods, albeit supreme. Compare the following passages from the KJV, NIV and ESV versions of the Bible:

  • And the heavens shall praise thy wonders, O Lord: thy faithfulness also in the congregation of the saints. For who in the heaven can be compared unto the Lord? who among the sons of the mighty can be likened unto the Lord? God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be had in reverence of all them that are about him. O Lord God of hosts, who is a strong Lord like unto thee? aor to thy faithfulness round about thee? (KJV Psalms 89:5-8)
  • The heavens praise your wonders, O LORD, your faithfulness too, in the assembly of the holy ones. For who in the skies above can compare with the LORD? Who is like the LORD among the heavenly beings [fn. Lit "sons of god(s)]? In the council of holy ones God is greatly feared; he is more awesome than all who surround him. O LORD God almighty, who is like you? You are mighty, O LORD, and your faithfulness surrounds you (NIV Psalms 89:5-8).
  • Among all the gods there is none like unto thee, O Lord; neither are there any works like unto thy works (Psalms 86:8).
  • God has taken his place in the divine council; in the midst of the gods he holds judgment (ESV Psalms 82:1)
  • God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods. (KJV Psalms 82:1)

These scriptures speak of divine beings, "gods" who are the "sons of god(s)" who are heavenly beings who dwell in the skies. These cannot be idols or false gods. Yahweh dwells among them, reigns over them, and holds judgment in their midst.

Another favorite scripture of the critics of the LDS doctrine of exaltation is Isaiah 43:10. They seem to believe it contradicts this doctrine when it says:

Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me.

Whether this passage is referring to false idols who represent deities that do not exist, or whether it refers to real divine beings who exist alongside and subordinate to Yahweh is not crucial for responding to this particular criticism. The passage specifically says "before" and "after" Yahweh. Since Yahweh has always existed, and since He will always exist no man can ever be exalted "before" or "after" Yahweh. All men who are exalted to godhood will be contemporaries of Yahweh, and will never precede nor follow Yahweh's existence. They will also become part of the divine council over which he presides.

Wherefore, as it is written, [the inhabitants of the Celestial Kingdom] are gods, even the sons of God (D&C 76:58).


Response to claim: "6. If Adam is the 'only God with whom we have to do', did Adam create himself?"

The author(s) of Questions All Mormons Should Ask Themselves make(s) the following claim:

6. If Adam is the “only God with whom we have to do”, did Adam create himself?

(Author's sources: Other reference: Journal of Discourses Vol. 1, pg. 50, 51)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is a falsehood - The author has disseminated false information

The reference is to the Journal of Discourses, which is not LDS doctrine—the critics are being dishonest in their portrayal of LDS doctrine. The interpretation put on this statement by the question has been disavowed by leaders of the Church, as in October 1976 general conference, when Spencer W. Kimball declared the Church's official position on Adam-God:

We warn you against the dissemination of doctrines which are not according to the Scriptures and which are alleged to have been taught by some of the General Authorities of past generations. Such, for instance, is the Adam-God theory. We denounce that theory and hope that everyone will be cautioned against this and other kinds of false doctrine.

  • This question is trying to sneak in a question about Adam-God teaching. This is not a doctrine of the LDS Church, and has never been adopted as such.



Question: What is the Adam-God Theory?

Brigham Young taught that Adam, the first man, was God the Father

Brigham Young taught that Adam, the first man, was God the Father. Since this teaching runs counter to the story told in Genesis and commonly accepted by Christians, critics accuse Brigham of being a false prophet. Also, because modern Latter-day Saints do not believe Brigham's "Adam-God" teachings, critics accuse Mormons of either changing their teachings or rejecting teachings of prophets they find uncomfortable or unsupportable.

Brigham never developed the teaching into something that could be reconciled with LDS scripture and presented as official doctrine

Brigham Young appears to have believed and taught Adam-God, but he never developed the teaching into something that could be reconciled with LDS scripture and presented as official doctrine. Therefore, we simply don't know what Brigham Young meant, and modern leaders have warned us about accepting traditional explanations of Adam-God. Since the Church has rejected it, we won't be able to answer the question until the Lord sees fit to reveal more about it.

The Church's official position is that Adam-God is not the doctrine of the Church

Regardless of which approach the reader prefers to accept, the Church's official position on Adam-God is clear: as popularly understood, Adam-God (i.e., "Adam, the first man, was identical with Elohim/God the Father") is not the doctrine of the Church. If there are any particles of truth to anything surrounding the Adam-God doctrine, one would expect those things to harmonize with what has already been revealed. Only further revelation from the Lord's anointed would be able to clear up many points surrounding that doctrine.


Response to claim: "7. Joseph Smith stated that without the ordinances and authority of the priesthood no man can see the face of God and live...How did he see God and survive?"

The author(s) of Questions All Mormons Should Ask Themselves make(s) the following claim:

7. Joseph Smith stated that without the ordinances and authority of the priesthood no man can see the face of God and live (D & C 84:21, 22). He also said that he saw God in 1820 (Joseph Smith 2:17). Joseph Smith, however, never received any priesthood until 1829 (D&C 13). How did he see God and survive? In which was he in error: his revelation in D & C 84:21, 22 or his experience in the grove?

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

This argument is fatally flawed by an improper interpretation of D&C 84:21-22 and also by not taking into account additional texts that were produced by Joseph Smith.



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Question: Does Doctrine and Covenants 84 say that one cannot see God without holding the priesthood?

This argument is fatally flawed by an improper interpretation of D&C 84:21-22 and also by not taking into account additional texts that were produced by Joseph Smith

Joseph Smith claimed that he saw God in 1820 and also claimed that he received the priesthood in 1829. However, in a text which he produced in 1832 (DC 84:21-22) it is said that a person cannot see God without holding the priesthood. Some have misinterpreted section 84 of the Doctrine and Covenants in an effort to destroy the testimony of Joseph Smith with regard to the reality of the First Vision. Their effort fails when the text is seen in its proper context and then compared with other writings that were prepared by the Prophet.

When D&C 84:21-22 is analyzed in context then an interpretation emerges that does not support the one proposed by the Prophet's critics. The relevant words read:

19 "And this greater [i.e., Melchizedek] priesthood administereth the gospel and holdeth the key of the mysteries of the kingdom, even the key of the knowledge of God.

20 Therefore, in the ordinances thereof, the power of godliness is manifest.

21 And without the ordinances thereof, and the authority of the priesthood, the power of godliness is not manifest unto men in the flesh;

22 For without this no man can see the face of God, even the Father, and live."

The word "this" in verse 22 does not refer to the Melchizedek Priesthood, but rather to "the power of godliness"

The word "this" in verse 22 does not refer to the Melchizedek Priesthood, but rather to "the power of godliness." [3] One of the ordinances of the Melchizedek Priesthood is the bestowal of the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands (see DC 49:14). As the Lord explained in an 1831 revelation, "no man has seen God at any time in the flesh, except quickened by the Spirit of God" (DC 67:11).

Moses was transfigured in order that he could see God and endure his presence

An example of this happening is seen in the Pearl of Great Price where it is recorded that Moses "saw God face to face, and he talked with Him, and the glory of God was upon Moses; therefore Moses could endure His presence" (Moses 1:2). Moses confirmed that it was because he was transfigured by the glory of God that he did not die when he saw the Lord's face while in mortality (see Moses 1:11). The Lord verified to Moses in yet another text that sinful mortals cannot see His face and live (see JST Exodus 33:20).

Joseph Smith recorded that he was "filled with the Spirit of God" during the First Vision

This brings us to the case of Joseph Smith in 1820. In the earliest known account of this heavenly manifestation (written in 1832 - the same year as D&C 84) the Prophet made note of the fact that when the experience began a pillar of fire rested down upon him and he was "filled with the Spirit of God." Once the heavens were opened the Savior appeared and said, "Joseph, my son, thy sins are forgiven thee." The Redeemer tied these elements together in a Book of Mormon passage where He informed a multitude of His disciples that certain persons would be "visited with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and shall receive a remission of their sins (3 Nephi 12:2). Since the Prophet's experience followed the same pattern, it is reasonable to believe that this is what happened to him in the Sacred Grove.

There are two further pieces of evidence pointing to the conclusion that Joseph Smith was transfigured during the First Vision event. First, there is Orson Pratt's 1840 recounting of the incident wherein he relates that the pillar of fire or light "continued descending slowly, until it rested upon the earth, and [Joseph Smith] was enveloped in the midst of it. When it first came upon him, it produced a peculiar sensation throughout his whole system." [4] Joseph noticed that there was some sort of change wrought upon his body and it was of an extraordinary nature—something he was apparently not accustomed to. Second, we find a parallel between what happened to Moses after his transfiguration and that which happened to young Joseph after his theophany ended. In Moses chapter 1 we read:

9 "And the presence of God withdrew from Moses, that His glory was not upon Moses; and Moses was left unto himself. And as he was left unto himself, he fell unto the earth. [10] And it came to pass that it was for the space of many hours before Moses did again receive his natural strength like unto man."(Moses 1:9-10)

In the Charles Walker account of the First Vision, it is indicated that Jesus touched Joseph's eyes in order for him to be able to see him

Diary of Charles Lowell Walker, as told by John Alger:

2nd Feb Thurs [1893] Cold and chilly. Attended Fast Meeting.... Br John Alger said while speaking of the Prophet Joseph, that when he, John, was a small boy he heard the Prophet Joseph relate his vision of seeing The Father and the Son, That God touched his eyes with his finger and said “Jospeh this is my beloved Son hear him.” As soon as the Lord had touched his eyes with his finger he immediately saw the Savior. After meeting, a few of us questioned him about the matter and he told us at the bottom of the meeting house steps that he was in the House of Father Smith in Kirtland when Joseph made this declaration, and that Joseph while speaking of it put his finger to his right eye, suiting the action with the words so as to illustrate and at the same time impress the occurence on the minds of those unto whom He was speaking. We enjoyed the conversation very much, as it was something that we had never seen in church history or heard of before.[5]

In three of the Prophet's retellings of the First Vision story he mentions that he too lost his strength and fell to the earth

1838 Main Text and Note B
"When I came to myself again I found myself lying on my back looking up into heaven; When the light had departed I had no strength, but soon recover[ed] in some degree."
1843 David N. White Interview
"when I came to myself, I was sprawling on my back and it was some time before my strength returned."
1844 Alexander Neibaur Diary
"I endeavored to arise but felt uncom[monly] feeble."

Some early Christian authors saw things in the same way as Joseph

For example, in an early Christian document called the Clementine Homilies the apostle Peter is portrayed as agreeing:

For I maintain that the eyes of mortals cannot see the incorporeal form of the Father or Son, because it is illumined by exceeding great light. . . . For he who sees God cannot live. For the excess of light dissolves the flesh of him who sees; unless by the secret power of God the flesh be changed into the nature of light, so that it can see light. [6]


Response to claim: "8. If a spirit is a being without a body (See Luke 24:39), why do Mormons teach that God the Father has a body of flesh and bones?"

The author(s) of Questions All Mormons Should Ask Themselves make(s) the following claim:

8. If a spirit is a being without a body (See Luke 24:39), why do Mormons teach that God the Father has a body of flesh and bones?

(Author's sources: Scripture reference: John 4:24)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

Note that in the KJV cited above, the word “is” is italicized. This is because the King James translators have inserted it on their own—it is not present in the Greek text from which the translation was made.



  • Secondly, the reader should be aware that the indefinite article (“a”, as in "a dog" or "a spirit") does not exist in Greek. Thus, the addition of the word "a" in English occurs at the discretion of the translators. This leaves two Greek words: theos pneuma [θεος πνεμα]—“God spirit”. The JST resolves this translational issue by saying “for unto such hath God promised his spirit”. The word pneuma, which is translated spirit, also means ‘life’ or ‘breath’. The King James Version of Revelation 13:15 renders ‘pneuma’ as life. Thus "God is life," or "God is the breath of life" are potential alternative translations of this verse. Also, if God is a spirit and we have to worship him in spirit, do mortals have to leave our bodies to worship him? As one non-LDS commentary noted:

That God is spirit is not meant as a definition of God's being—though this is how the Stoics [a branch of Greek philosophy] would have understood it. It is a metaphor of his mode of operation, as life-giving power, and it is no more to be taken literally than 1 John 1:5, "God is light," or Deuteronomy 4:24, "Your God is a devouring fire." It is only those who have received this power through Christ who can offer God a real worship. [7]

  • Thus, the critics misrepresent this Bible verse to attack the LDS.

}}

Response to claim: "9. If the Father is Elohim and Jesus is Jehovah (as the Mormons teach), how does a Mormon explain Deuteronomy 6:4, which in the Hebrew says, 'Hear, O Israel: Jehovah our Elohim is one Jehovah'?"

The author(s) of Questions All Mormons Should Ask Themselves make(s) the following claim:

9. If the Father is Elohim and Jesus is Jehovah (as the Mormons teach), how does a Mormon explain Deuteronomy 6:4, which in the Hebrew says, “Hear, O Israel: Jehovah our Elohim is one Jehovah”?

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information - The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event

The use of the terms "Elohim" and "Jehovah" to specifically refer to the Father and Son respectively is a 20th-century usage adopted by the Church for clarity and precision. This is not intended to mean that the Biblical authors all use the terms in this way. Indeed, various Biblical authors have different usages; Deuteronomy often tries to obliterate evidence for the belief in two divine persons in early Jewish thought.



Response to claim: "10. If the Book of Mormon contains the fullness of the Gospel, why doesn’t it teach that God was once a man?"

The author(s) of Questions All Mormons Should Ask Themselves make(s) the following claim:

10. If the Book of Mormon contains the fullness of the Gospel, why doesn’t it teach that God was once a man?

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

The Book of Mormon's definition of "fulness of the gospel" is not "all truths taught in the Church." The fulness of the gospel is simply defined as the core doctrines of Christ's atonement and the first principles and ordinances of the gospel. Critics do not trouble to understand what the Book of Mormon says before attacking it.



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Response to claim: "11. If Mormonism is the restored church, which is based upon the Bible, why are Mormon leaders so quick to state that the Bible is “translated wrong” when faced with some conflict between the Bible and Mormonism?"

The author(s) of Questions All Mormons Should Ask Themselves make(s) the following claim:

11. If Mormonism is the restored church, which is based upon the Bible, why are Mormon leaders so quick to state that the Bible is “translated wrong” when faced with some conflict between the Bible and Mormonism?==

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is a falsehood - The author has disseminated false information

Leaders of the Church are not "so quick" to state this. The critics need to provide evidence for their assertion.
  • The LDS revere the Bible and consider it accurate in the vast majority of its particulars. When LDS quarrel with the Bible, it is not with the original Biblical text, but usually with the interpretation which their critics put on the Bible. In a few instances, the Church disagrees with changes made to the Bible text by uninspired copyists or later authors. All scholars, save fundamentalists, realize that many such changes occurred in both the Old and New Testament. (See: Biblical inerrancy.)
  • Critics like Contender Ministries act as if their reading of the Bible is the only possible one—but, the thousands of different Christian sects are ample proof that Christians have read just about every aspect of the Bible in more than one way. The disagreement is not over whether the Bible is true, but what reading of the Bible is the proper one to get at the truth.



  • For a detailed response, see: Mormonism and the Bible/Basics, Biblical completeness and sufficiency, and Biblical inerrancy

Response to claim: "12. If Jesus was conceived as a result of a physical union between God and Mary, how was Jesus born of a virgin?"

The author(s) of Questions All Mormons Should Ask Themselves make(s) the following claim:

12. If Jesus was conceived as a result of a physical union between God and Mary, how was Jesus born of a virgin?

(Author's sources: Other reference: Journal of Discourses Vol. 1, page 50)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

Again, the critics are relying on Journal of Discourses, which is not a standard for LDS doctrine. The Book of Mormon asserts that Jesus was born to a virgin (1 Nephi 11:15-21). As the Church responded to this question posed by Fox News:



The Church does not claim to know how Jesus was conceived but believes the Bible and Book of Mormon references to Jesus being born of the Virgin Mary.

  • Ezra Taft Benson taught:

He was the Only Begotten Son of our Heavenly Father in the flesh—the only child whose mortal body was begotten by our Heavenly Father. His mortal mother, Mary, was called a virgin, both before and after she gave birth. (See 1 Nephi 11:20.) [8]

  • LDS leaders are often at pains to emphasize that God's Fatherhood of Christ is literal; i.e., God is actually the Father of Christ's mortal physical body. A modern reader can doubtless think of many ways in which a mortal can become pregnant by a man without sexual intercourse (e.g., in vitro fertilization). God doubtless has many more techniques available to Him.
  • Elder Bruce R. McConkie explained his reason for his emphasis:

"Our Lord is the only mortal person ever born to a virgin, because he is the only person who ever had an immortal Father. Mary, his mother, "was carried away in the Spirit" (1 Ne. 11:13-21), was "overshadowed" by the Holy Ghost, and the conception which took place "by the power of the Holy Ghost" resulted in the bringing forth of the literal and personal Son of God the Father. (Alma 7:10; 2 Ne. 17:14; Isa. 7:14; Matt. 1:18-25; Luke 1:26-38.) Christ is not the Son of the Holy Ghost, but of the Father. (Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 1, pp. 18-20.) Modernistic teachings denying the virgin birth are utterly and completely apostate and false. [9]

  • Critics of the Church like to dig up quotes like those from Brigham Young for their shock value, but such statements do not represent the official doctrine of the Church. Furthermore, critics often read statements through their own theological lenses, and ignore the key distinctions which LDS theology is attempting to make by these statements. Instead, they try to put a salacious spin on the teaching, when this is far from the speakers' intent.

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Question: Do Mormons believe that Mary was still a virgin when Jesus was born?

Latter-day Saints believe in the virgin birth

It is claimed that Latter-day Saints believe Jesus was conceived through sexual intercourse between God the Father and Mary, and that Mary therefore was not a virgin when Jesus was born. It is also claimed that Latter-day Saints reject the "Evangelical belief" that "Christ was born of the virgin Mary, who, when the Holy Ghost came upon her, miraculously conceived the promised messiah."

Often used as evidence are a handful statements from early LDS leaders, such as Brigham Young, that directly or indirectly support this idea. However, such statements do not represent the official doctrine of the Church. The key, official doctrine of the Church is that Jesus is literally the son of God (i.e., this is not a symbolic or figurative expression), and Mary was a virgin before and after Christ's conception.

At the annunciation, Mary questioned the angel about how she could bear a child: "How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?" (Luke 1:34; the expression "know" in the Greek text is a euphemism for sexual relations). Nephi likewise described Mary as a virgin (1 Nephi 11:13-20), as did Alma1 (Alma 7:10).

Latter-day Saints believe Jesus was the Only Begotten of the Father in the flesh

Latter-day Saints do believe that Jesus Christ was literally the Son of God, not the son of Joseph or even the son of the Holy Ghost. (see 2 Ne 25:12 and DC 93:11) As Ezra Taft Benson stated,

[T]he testimonies of appointed witnesses leave no question as to the paternity of Jesus Christ. God was the Father of His fleshly tabernacle, and Mary, a mortal woman, was His mother. He is therefore the only person born who rightfully deserves the title “the Only Begotten Son of God.”[10]

What the Church has not taken a position on is how the conception took place, despite speculations by various early Church leaders

The canonized scriptures are silent on how the conception took place—even Nephi's detailed vision of then-future Messiah is veiled during the part where Mary conceives (1 Nephi 11:19).

Some early leaders of the Church felt free to express their beliefs on the literal nature of God's Fatherhood of Jesus' physical body

For example, Brigham Young said the following in a discourse given 8 July 1860:

"...[T]here is no act, no principle, no power belonging to the Deity that is not purely philosophical. The birth of the Saviour was as natural as are the births of our children; it was the result of natural action. He partook of flesh and blood—was begotten of his Father, as we were of our fathers." [11]

Jesus shared God's genetic inheritance without necessarily requiring a sexual act to combine that inheritance with Mary's mortal contribution

But are these types of statements official Church doctrine, required for all believing Latter-day Saints to accept? No—they were never submitted to the Church for ratification or canonization. (See General authorities' statements as scripture.)

Critics have noted that this statement, and others like it, can be read to indicate there was sexual intercourse involved in the conception of Jesus. Regardless of this speculation--which goes beyond the textual data--Brigham Young's view may be seen by some contemporary Latter-day Saints as correct in that Jesus was literally physically the Son of God, just as much as any children are "of our fathers." Modern science has discovered alternative methods of conceiving children--e.g., in vitro "test tube" babies--that don't involve sexual intercourse. Thus, though processes such as artificial insemination were unknown to Brigham and thus likely not referenced by his statements, it does not necessarily follow from a modern perspective that the conception had to come about as the result of a literal sexual union. It is certainly not outside of God's power to conceive Christ by other means, while remaining his literal father. (Put another way, Jesus shared God's genetic inheritance, if you will, without necessarily requiring a sexual act to combine that inheritance with Mary's mortal contribution).

Ezra Taft Benson taught:

He was the Only Begotten Son of our Heavenly Father in the flesh—the only child whose mortal body was begotten by our Heavenly Father. His mortal mother, Mary, was called a virgin, both before and after she gave birth. (See 1 Nephi 11:20.) [12]

Benson's emphasis is on both the literalness of Jesus' divine birth, and the fact that Mary's virginal status persisted even immediately after conceiving and bearing Jesus.

Church leaders' statements on the literal paternity of Christ were often a reaction to various ideas which are false

  • they disagreed with the tendency of conventional Christianity to deny the corporeality of God. They thus insisted that God the Father had a "natural," physical form. There was no need, in LDS theology, for a non-physical, wholly spirit God to resort to a mysterious process to conceive a Son.
  • they disagreed with efforts to "allegorize" or "spiritualize" the virgin birth; they wished it understood that Christ is the literal Son of God in a physical, "natural" sense of sharing both human and divine traits in His makeup. This can be seen to be a reaction against more "liberal" strains in Christianity that saw Jesus as the literal son of Mary and Joseph, but someone endowed with God's power at some point in His life.
  • they did not accept that the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost were of one "essence," but rather believed that they are distinct Personages. Thus, it is key to LDS theology that Jesus is the Son of the Father, not the Holy Ghost. To a creedal, trinitarian Christian, this might be a distinction without a difference; for an LDS Christian it is crucial.

Bruce R. McConkie said this about the birth of Christ:

God the Father is a perfected, glorified, holy Man, an immortal Personage. And Christ was born into the world as the literal Son of this Holy Being; he was born in the same personal, real, and literal sense that any mortal son is born to a mortal father. There is nothing figurative about his paternity; he was begotten, conceived and born in the normal and natural course of events, for he is the Son of God, and that designation means what it says. [13]

In the same volume, Elder McConkie explained his reason for his emphasis:

"Our Lord is the only mortal person ever born to a virgin, because he is the only person who ever had an immortal Father. Mary, his mother, "was carried away in the Spirit" (1 Ne. 11:13-21), was "overshadowed" by the Holy Ghost, and the conception which took place "by the power of the Holy Ghost" resulted in the bringing forth of the literal and personal Son of God the Father. (Alma 7:10; 2 Ne. 17:14; Isa. 7:14; Matt. 1:18-25; Luke 1:26-38.) Christ is not the Son of the Holy Ghost, but of the Father. (Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 1, pp. 18-20.) Modernistic teachings denying the virgin birth are utterly and completely apostate and false. [14]

Note that McConkie emphasized the literal nature of Christ's divinity, his direct descent from the Father, and the fact that the Holy Ghost was a tool, but not the source of Jesus' divine Parenthood.

Harold B. Lee was clear that the method of Jesus' conception had not been revealed, and discouraged speculation on the matter

Harold B. Lee said,

We are very much concerned that some of our Church teachers seem to be obsessed of the idea of teaching doctrine which cannot be substantiated and making comments beyond what the Lord has actually said.

You asked about the birth of the Savior. Never have I talked about sexual intercourse between Deity and the mother of the Savior. If teachers were wise in speaking of this matter about which the Lord has said but very little, they would rest their discussion on this subject with merely the words which are recorded on this subject in Luke 1:34-35: "Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, 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."

Remember that the being who was brought about by [Mary's] conception was a divine personage. We need not question His method to accomplish His purposes. Perhaps we would do well to remember the words of Isaiah 55:8-9: "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts."

Let the Lord rest His case with this declaration and wait until He sees fit to tell us more. [15]


Response to claim: "13. Why did Christ not return in 1891 as Joseph Smith predicted?"

The author(s) of Questions All Mormons Should Ask Themselves make(s) the following claim:

13. Why did Christ not return in 1891 as Joseph Smith predicted?

(Author's sources: Other reference: History of the Church, Vol. 2 page 182)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

The authors do not note that Joseph wasn't really sure what this meant.



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Question: Did Joseph Smith prophesy that Jesus Christ would return in 1890?

Jesus Christ stated that no mortals or angels would know when He would return

It is important to realize that while Jesus Christ resided on the earth he stated that no mortals or angels would know when He would return:

But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only" (Matthew 24:36).

Because we do not know, we need to constantly be ready for his return, for "in such an hour as ye think not the Son of Man cometh" (Matthew 24:44).

In February 1835, Joseph Smith is reported to have said that "fifty-six years should wind up the scene"

Joseph Smith did make several interesting statements about seeing the Savior. B.H. Roberts in History of the Church notes the Prophet's remark in 1835 when he is reported to have said that,

...it was the will of God that those who went Zion, with a determination to lay down their lives, if necessary, should be ordained to the ministry, and go forth to prune the vineyard for the last time, or the coming of the Lord, which was nigh—even fifty-six years should wind up the scene.[16]

In Feb 1835, fifty six years in the future was February 1891. This would be shortly after Joseph's 85th birthday (he was born 23 December 1805).

Joseph made continuous reference to this date in light of a revelation which he reported. It is recorded in D&C 130:14-17, and it is clear that the revelation leaves the exact date of Christ's second coming much more uncertain. Whatever Joseph meant or understood by "wind up the scene," it must be interpreted in light of the revelation as he reported it, and the conclusions which he drew from it.

This particular revelation is a favorite of anti-Mormon critics. They have misquoted it, misreported it, misinterpreted it and misexplained it. Most often they simply do not complete the quote, making it appear that the Prophet said something he didn't.

Joseph acknowledged as he recorded this revelation that he didn't understand its meaning or intent

The revelation is reported in abbreviated form, and Joseph acknowledged as he recorded it that he didn't understand its meaning or intent:

I was once praying very earnestly to know the time of the coming of the Son of Man, when I heard a voice repeat the following: Joseph, my son, if thou livest until thou art eighty-five years old, thou shalt see the face of the Son of Man; therefore let this suffice, and trouble me no more on this matter. (D&C 130:14-15).

Many critics end the quote at this point, and then they hope the reader will assume that the statement is a prophecy that the Savior would come in the year 1890 or 1891, since the Prophet Joseph was born in 1805. (Other critics do not even bother to cite D&C 130, and simply rely on the quote from the Kirtland Council Minute Book of 1835, reproduced in History of the Church.)

Joseph expresses his uncertainty: "I believe the coming of the Son of Man will not be any sooner than that time"

However, if the reader will continue further in that passage, they will see how Joseph Smith himself understood the revelation, unfiltered through note-takers or critics who wish to explain his meaning:

I was left thus, without being able to decide whether this coming referred to the beginning of the millennium or to some previous appearing, or whether I should die and thus see his face (D&C :130).

The actual content of Joseph's prophecy--if personal opinion can be said to be prophecy--does not occur until the next verse:

I believe the coming of the Son of Man will not be any sooner than that time.(D&C 130:17.)

Without a doubt, Joseph's belief proved correct. The Lord did not return to the earth for His Second Coming before that time.

At least twice, as is recorded in the Doctrine and Covenants, Joseph saw the face of the Son of Man

But there are other aspects of fulfillment that should also be considered. We do not know when it was that the Prophet earnestly prayed to know the time of the Lord's coming. The context, (verse 13), shows that it may have taken place in 1832 or earlier. At least twice, as is recorded in the Doctrine and Covenants, Joseph saw the face of the Son of Man. D&C 76:20-24 and D&C 110:2-10 both record appearances of the Lord Jesus Christ, either of which may constitute fulfillment of the Lord's prophetic promise. He may also have seen the Lord's face at the time of his death in 1844, as he pondered in D&C 130:16.

Joseph made reference to the incident on at least two other occasions, and indicated that his belief was not that the Lord would come by the time of his 85th birthday, but rather that the Lord would not come before that time, which of course was a correct prophecy.

In the History of the Church:

I prophesy in the name of the Lord God, and let it be written--the Son of Man will not come in the clouds of heaven till I am eighty-five years old.[17]

Again, Joseph Smith doesn't say the Lord will come then, but that He will not come before that time. The return to his age 85 shows that all these remarks derive from the same interpretation of his somewhat opaque revelation from the Lord, who seems determined to tell his curious prophet nothing further.

Joseph denies that anyone knows an exact date

Later, Joseph Smith again prophesied on the subject of Christ's coming:

I also prophesy, in the name of the Lord, that Christ will not come in forty years; and if God ever spoke by my mouth, He will not come in that length of time. Brethren, when you go home, write this down, that it may be remembered. Jesus Christ never did reveal to any man the precise time that He would come. Go and read the scriptures, and you cannot find anything that specifies the exact hour He would come; and all that say so are false teachers.[18]

This remark was made on 10 March 1844. It echoes a teaching given through Joseph in the Doctrine and Covenants in March 1831:

And they have done unto the Son of Man even as they listed; and he has taken his power on the right hand of his glory, and now reigneth in the heavens, and will reign till he descends on the earth to put all enemies under his feet, which time is nigh at hand—I, the Lord God, have spoken it; but the hour and the day no man knoweth, neither the angels in heaven, nor shall they know until he comes. (D&C 49:6-7, emphasis added)

Thus, from the beginning to the end of his ministry, Joseph Smith denied that a man could or would know the date of the second coming of Christ. (Joseph's remarks may have been instigated by the intense interest among religious believers in William Miller's prophecy that Christ would return by 1843.)


Response to claim: "14. Journal of Discourses Vol. 2, page 210 says Jesus was being married to Mary and Martha in Cana. Why then was he INVITED to his own wedding?"

The author(s) of Questions All Mormons Should Ask Themselves make(s) the following claim:

14. Journal of Discourses Vol. 2, page 210 says Jesus was being married to Mary and Martha in Cana. Why then was he INVITED to his own wedding?

(Author's sources: Scripture reference: John 2:1,2)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

Just because Orson Hyde believed that Jesus was married, does not mean that everyone in the Church believes that he was.



Question: Journal of Discourses 2:210 says Jesus was being married to Mary and Martha in Cana. Why would Jesus be invited to his own wedding?

Orson Hyde taught that Jesus Christ was married at Cana

Let's look at the reference in Orson Hyde, Journal of Discourses 2:210.. It is a talk being given by Orson Hyde, then an Apostle in the Church:

I discover that some of the Eastern papers represent me as a great blasphemer, because I said, in my lecture on Marriage, at our last Conference, that Jesus Christ was married at Cana of Galilee, that Mary, Martha, and others were his wives, and that he begat children. [19]

It is no great surprise that Orson Hyde, that great defender of the principle of polygamy, believed that Jesus was married

It is no great surprise that Orson Hyde, that great defender of the principle of polygamy, believed that Jesus was married and had children. In fact, in the very next paragraph of the talk he provided the rationale for his belief on the matter:

All that I have to say in reply to that charge is this—they worship a Savior that is too pure and holy to fulfil the commands of his Father. I worship one that is just pure and holy enough "to fulfil all righteousness;" not only the righteous law of baptism, but the still more righteous and important law "to multiply and replenish the earth." [20]

Just because Orson Hyde believed that Jesus was married, does not mean that everyone in the Church believes that he was

Even though Orson Hyde, and perhaps other leaders, believed that Jesus was married and they were able to vigorously defend their beliefs, that does not mean that Jesus really was married. Teachings in the Journal of Discourses are not canonized scripture, and it is permissible for Mormons to believe what they want about the marital status of Jesus. Just because some Mormons believe that Jesus was married does not mean that all Mormons believe it or that all Mormons must believe it. It is speculation that Jesus was married, but it is just as much speculation that He wasn't, as the scriptures are silent on the issue.

Orson Hyde's belief regarding this issue does not represent the position of the Church

Despite the fact that the original question tries to impute the beliefs of Orson Hyde to the entire Church, the question seems to infer that the marriage at Cana (recounted in John 2:1-11) could not have been Jesus' wedding because Jesus was INVITED to the wedding. This seems a weak play against the current custom of weddings—for the bride and groom to invite others—without discussing what the custom may have been at the time of Christ.

Again entering into the realm of speculation, was it custom 2,000 years ago for the bridegroom to be invited to the wedding? We are left to wonder, and Contender Ministries, in this question, does nothing to give evidence that it wasn't the custom. Instead, they discount a non-canonical belief of an early LDS leader based upon the translation of a single word in a single verse in the gospel of John.


Question: Do Mormons believe Jesus Christ was married?

Mormons don't officially believe that Jesus was married

The easy answer is that no, Mormons don't officially believe that Jesus was married. In fact, there is no official Church doctrine on this issue. Individual members are free to believe as they wish concerning this matter. (Some believe that He was married; others believe He wasn't. Most members are open to believe either way.)

Do many Latter-day Saints believe that Jesus was married?

Since eternal marriage is one of the ordinances required to achieve exaltation, many Latter-day Saints do indeed believe that Jesus Christ was married. The question is: What is it about Jesus being married that would make Him less of our Lord and Savior? Yet, Latter-day Saints are accused of not being Christian because of such beliefs.

William Phipps, Professor of Religion and Philosophy at Davis and Elkins College in West Virginia, wrote an article and a book declaring his belief that the Lord Jesus Christ was married.[21] Are all Presbyterians not Christians on account of Reverend Phipps' beliefs, or do different standards exist for Evangelicals than for those "Satanic cultists," the "Mormons?" Perhaps those who make such accusations would counter that it is just Phipps who is not a Christian, on account of his belief that Jesus Christ was married. But again, why would they damn all Latter-day Saints because some Latter-day Saints believe something that is not official LDS doctrine?

The Bible is silent on the issue of Jesus' marital state

The Bible is silent on the issue of Jesus' marital state, and there has been no modern revelation stating he was or was not married. This leaves the issue an open question. Some Latter-day Saints believe he was married, but the Church has no position on the subject. This question was addressed by Charles W. Penrose in the September 1912 issue of the official Church magazine, the Improvement Era:

Question 2: Do you believe that Jesus was married?

Answer: We do not know anything about Jesus Christ being married. The Church has no authoritative declaration on the subject. [22]

Several early Latter-day Saint leaders believed Jesus was married and preached this from the pulpit

Several early LDS leaders believed Jesus was married, and said so from the pulpit on occasion. Here is one example from Apostle Orson Hyde:

Now there was actually a marriage [at Cana (John 2:1–11)]; and if Jesus was not the bridegroom on that occasion, please tell who was. If any man can show this, and prove that it was not the Savior of the world, then I will acknowledge I am in error. We say it was Jesus Christ who was married, to be brought into the relation whereby he could see his seed (Isaiah 53:10), before he was crucified. "Has he indeed passed by the nature of angels, and taken upon himself the seed of Abraham, to die without leaving a seed to bear his name on the earth?" No. But when the secret is fully out, the seed of the blessed shall be gathered in, in the last days; and he who has not the blood of Abraham flowing in his veins, who has not one particle of the Savior's in him, I am afraid is a stereotyped Gentile, who will be left out and not be gathered in the last days; for I tell you it is the chosen of God, the seed of the blessed, that shall be gathered. I do not despise to be called a son of Abraham, if he had a dozen wives; or to be called a brother, a son, a child of the Savior, if he had Mary, and Martha, and several others, as wives; and though he did cast seven devils out of one of them, it is all the same to me. [23]

Joseph Fielding Smith apparently believed that Jesus had been married

Joseph Fielding Smith apparently believed that Jesus had been married, and that He had children. In a 1963 letter to Elder Smith (then President of the Quorum of the Twelve), J. Ricks Smith asked for clarification on a question he had concerning the marital and paternal status of Jesus:

Burbank, California March 17, 1963

President Joseph Fielding Smith 47 East South Temple Street Salt Lake City 11, Utah

Dear President Smith:

In a discussion recently, the question arose, "Was Christ married?" The quote of Isaiah 53:10 was given, which reads,

Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put Him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul and offering for sin, he shall see His seed, he shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.

What is meant by "he shall see his seed"? Does this mean that Christ had children?

In the Temple ceremony we are told that only through Temple marriage can we receive the highest degree of exaltation and dwell in the presence of our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Christ came here to set us the example and, therefore, we believe that he must have been married. Are we right?

Sincerely,

J. Ricks Smith 1736 N. Ontario Street Burbank, California

In a written response (on the same letter), Elder Smith indicated his feelings on the matter—both in the positive. Placing an asterisk next to the words "His seed" in the letter, at the bottom of the letter Elder Smith wrote:

*Mosiah 15:10-12 Please Read Your Book of Mormon!

Placing two asterisks next to the words "he must have been married," at the bottom of the letter Elder Smith wrote:

**Yes! But do not preach it! The Lord advised us not to cast pearls before swine!

Apparently Elder Smith believed that the married state of Jesus was true, but that it should not be preached to others.

There has never been any revelation or official statement on the subject on behalf of the Church

Even though several leaders have expressed positive opinions on the subject, there has never been any revelation or official statement on the subject on behalf of the Church.

Dale Bills, a spokesman for the Church, said in a statement released Tuesday, 16 May 2006:

The belief that Christ was married has never been official church doctrine. It is neither sanctioned nor taught by the church. While it is true that a few church leaders in the mid-1800s expressed their opinions on the matter, it was not then, and is not now, church doctrine. [24]


Response to claim: "15. Why does the Mormon church teach that there is no eternal hell when the Book of Mormon teaches that there is?"

The author(s) of Questions All Mormons Should Ask Themselves make(s) the following claim:

15. Why does the Mormon church teach that there is no eternal hell when the Book of Mormon teaches that there is?

(Author's sources: Scripture reference: 1 Nephi 14:3, 2 Nephi 9:16, 2 Nephi 28:21-23, Mosiah 3:25, Alma 34:35, Helaman 6:28, and Helaman 3:25,26)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is a falsehood - The author has disseminated false information

Our critic doesn't give us any examples of "the Mormon church teach[ing] that there is no eternal hell." A search of General Conference addresses from 1897 to 2007 doesn't turn up a single instance of any LDS leader teaching there is "no hell" — in fact, that phrase is almost exclusively used by speakers when quoting 2 Nephi 28:22 ("And behold, others [the devil] flattereth away, and telleth them there is no hell...."; this passage was quoted 21 times between 1918 and 1995).
  • LDS scriptures and leaders emphatically teach there is a hell, and it is eternal. Where our critic is probably mistaken is that the traditional Christian view of hell—fire, brimstone, pitchforks, and accordions—is described as metaphorical by LDS scriptures: "as a lake of fire and brimstone" (2 Nephi 9:16; Mosiah 3:27; Alma 12:17).



Response to claim: "16. How can Mormons teach that the repentant thief was not saved when the Book of Mormon states that Paradise is where the righteous go?"

The author(s) of Questions All Mormons Should Ask Themselves make(s) the following claim:

16. How can Mormons teach that the repentant thief was not saved when the Book of Mormon states that Paradise is where the righteous go?

(Author's sources: Scripture reference: Luke 23:43 and Alma 40:12,16)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

Jesus told the thief "To day shalt thou be with me in paradise," but three days later, he told Mary Magdalene "Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father" (John 20:17). If Jesus was with the thief "today" in paradise, but three days later had not yet ascended to the Father, where was he during that time? It wasn't "heaven," it was what we know through latter-day revelation as the spirit world for the righteous. The thief still had to accept the gospel and submit to judgment, the same as the rest of us.



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Response to claim: "17. How did Nephi with a few men on a new continent build a temple like Solomon’s while Solomon needed 163,300 workmen and seven years to build his temple?"

The author(s) of Questions All Mormons Should Ask Themselves make(s) the following claim:

17. How did Nephi with a few men on a new continent build a temple like Solomon’s while Solomon needed 163,300 workmen and seven years to build his temple?

(Author's sources: Scripture reference: 1 Kings 5:13-18 and 2 Ne 5:15-17)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

Nephi specifically stated that his temple was not "like unto" Solomon's temple because the "precious" things in Solomon's temple were not available to him, but that it was constructed based on the same design. This doesn't mean that it was as large as Solomon's temple or on the same scale.



Question: Were there not enough people available in Nephi's time to build a temple "after the manner of the temple of Solomon"?

Nephi is saying the he built a temple that was of the same pattern Solomon's temple, but he does not say that it was of the same size

This criticism presumes that the Lehite immigrants are the only work-force available, but this is almost certainly not true. (See: Book of Mormon demographics.)

Even if one presumes that the Lehite colony and the Nephite break-off are the only workforce—a dubious assumption—this only means that the temple would have been smaller—this seems likely in any case, since Nephi only says he built it "after the manner" of Solomon's temple, but not in so grand a style because of local restrictions. Consider Nephi's description:

And I, Nephi, did build a temple; and I did construct it after the manner of the temple of Solomon save it were not built of so many precious things; for they were not to be found upon the land, wherefore, it could not be built like unto Solomon’s temple. But the manner of the construction was like unto the temple of Solomon; and the workmanship thereof was exceedingly fine. (2 Nephi 5:16). (emphasis added)


Question: Was Nephi's temple "similar in splendor" to Solomon's temple?

Nephi stated that it was not like Solomon's temple" because many "precious things" were "not to be found upon the land"

Nephi is clear that the temple is not to the scale or grandeur of Solomon's temple; he merely patterns the building and its functions after the Jewish temple.

16 And I, Nephi, did build a temple; and I did construct it after the manner of the temple of Solomon save it were not built of so many precious things; for they were not to be found upon the land, wherefore, it could not be built like unto Solomon's temple. But the manner of the construction was like unto the temple of Solomon; and the workmanship thereof was exceedingly fine. (2 Nephi 5:16)

Nephi also probably had access to more workmen than the few members of the original Jerusalem party under Lehi.

One critic, who used to be a member of the Church, actually demonstrates his ignorance of the Book of Mormon by stating that the temple that was built was said to be "similar in splendor" to Solomon's Temple, directly contradicting Nephi's description. Nephi stated that "could not be built like unto Solomon’s temple" because many of the precious things contained in Solomon's temple "were not to be found upon the land." Therefore, Nephi himself confirms that his temple was not "similar in splendor" to Solomon's temple.

This is a good example of the critics reading the text in the most naive, most ill-informed way possible. One should also consider that smaller population would not have needed a massive complex like the temple at Jerusalem anyway.


Response to claim: "18. If the book of Mormon is true, why hasn’t a valid geography been established for the book?"

The author(s) of Questions All Mormons Should Ask Themselves make(s) the following claim:

18. If the book of Mormon is true, why hasn’t a valid geography been established for the book?

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

A valid internal geography of the Book of Mormon has been constructed, in both the Old and New worlds. This has led to the identification of Nahom, and several other Old World sites.



  • Establishing a definitive New World location is more difficult, since we have no point of reference to start from (as with Jerusalem in the Old World). This does not mean, however, that a valid geography does not exist. And, even if the geography were completely unknown, would this change the truth or falsity of the Book of Mormon's message? We know where the city of Troy is, but this doesn't make the Iliad scripture.

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Response to claim: "19. Why was Joseph Smith still preaching against polygamy in October 1843 after he got his revelation in July 1843 commanding the practice of polygamy?"

The author(s) of Questions All Mormons Should Ask Themselves make(s) the following claim:

19. Why was Joseph Smith still preaching against polygamy in October 1843 after he got his revelation in July 1843 commanding the practice of polygamy?

(Author's sources: *Scripture reference: DC 132:
  • Other reference: History of the Church Vol. 6, page 46, or Teachings of the Prophet, page 324)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information - The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event

Joseph had two difficulties:
  1. he had to counter the accusations of John C. Bennett about licentious and unauthorized plural marriage in Nauvoo. Many of his statements were targeted at rebutting Bennett's distortions.
  2. he needed to protect the few members who were practicing plural marriage, for fear of mob reaction, who would (and later did) seize on the practice of plural marriage as justification for violence against the Saints.

Response to claim: "20. If Lehi left Jerusalem before 600 B.C., how did he learn about synagogues?"

The author(s) of Questions All Mormons Should Ask Themselves make(s) the following claim:

20. If Lehi left Jerusalem before 600 B.C., how did he learn about synagogues?

(Author's sources: Scripture reference: 2 Nephi 26:26)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

It is entirely reasonable that Lehi would have known about synagogues. After the centralization of temple worship during the Deuteronomic Reformation, local congregations assembled together in chambers in city gates for non-sacrificial worship. These chambers in city gates, discovered in archaeological sites, were, according to some non-LDS scholars, proto-synagogues. [25] Other Jewish scholars believe that synagogues date back to the Exodus, during the time of Moses. [26]



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Response to claim: "21. If the Book of Mormon is true, why do Indians fail to become white when they become Mormons?"

The author(s) of Questions All Mormons Should Ask Themselves make(s) the following claim:

21. If the Book of Mormon is true, why do Indians fail to become white when they become Mormons?

(Author's sources: Scripture reference: 2 Nephi 30:6—prior to 1981 revision)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

The verse in question says that the Lamanites will become a "pure and delightsome" people. In the 1830 edition, this read "white and delightsome." When Joseph Smith prepared the 1837 edition for publication, he exchanged "white" for "pure"—probably because he realized that readers were seeing this as a literal issue, rather than symbolic. The change removed the ambiguity.



  • Unfortunately, this change went unnoticed in subsequent editions, until the preparation of the 1981 edition. So, the 1981 edition restored a reading that went back to 1837; the change is not (as the critics want to portray it) a "recent" change. The history of the change makes it clear why "Indians do not become white"—the verse is not about skin color, but about purity before God.

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Question: Why was the phrase "white and delightsome" changed to "pure and delightsome" in the 1840 edition of the Book of Mormon?

This change was originally made in the 1840 edition, lost, and then restored again in the 1981 edition

This change was originally made in the 1840 edition but because subsequent editions were based off the European editions (which followed the 1837 edition), the change did not get perpetuated until the preparation of the 1981 edition. The change is not (as the critics want to portray it) a "recent" change designed to remove a "racist" original.

The idea that the Church has somehow "hidden" the original text or manuscripts of the Book of Mormon in order to hide this is simply unbelievable. Replicas of the 1830 Book of Mormon are easily obtained on Amazon.com, and the text is freely available online. In addition, Royal Skousen has extensively studied the original Book of Mormon manuscripts and published a critical text edition of the Book of Mormon. The claim by the critics that the Church has somehow hidden these items is seriously outdated.

The change in the 1840 edition was probably made by Joseph Smith

This change actually first appeared in the 1840 edition, and was probably made by Joseph Smith:

  • 2 Nephi 30:6 (1830 edition, italics added): "...they shall be a white and a delightsome people."
  • 2 Nephi 30:6 (1840 edition, italics added): "...they shall be a pure and a delightsome people."

The 1837 edition was used for the European editions, which were in turn used as the basis for the 1879 and 1920 editions, so the change was lost until the 1981 edition

This particular correction is part of the changes referred to in the note "About this Edition" printed in the introductory pages:

"Some minor errors in the text have been perpetuated in past editions of the Book of Mormon. This edition contains corrections that seem appropriate to bring the material into conformity with prepublication manuscripts and early editions edited by the Prophet Joseph Smith."

It’s doubtful that Joseph Smith had racism in mind when the change was done in 1840 or other similar verses would have been changed as well.

The "pure" meaning likely reflected the original intent of the passage and translator

Furthermore, "white" was a synonym for "pure" at the time Joseph translated the Book of Mormon:

3. Having the color of purity; pure; clean; free from spot; as white robed innocence....5. Pure; unblemished....6. In a scriptural sense, purified from sin; sanctified. Psalm 51.[27]

Thus, the "pure" meaning likely reflected the original intent of the passage and translator.


Response to claim: "22. What kind of chariots did the Nephites have in 90 B.C. some 1500 years before the introduction of the wheel on the Western Hemisphere?"

The author(s) of Questions All Mormons Should Ask Themselves make(s) the following claim:

22. What kind of chariots did the Nephites have in 90 B.C. some 1500 years before the introduction of the wheel on the Western Hemisphere?

(Author's sources: Scripture reference: Alma 18:9)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information - The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event

Good question; we don't really know. And because we don't know, it is improper to assume that those chariots may have had wheels. They may have, or they may have not had them—we just don't know.
  • As to when the wheel was introduced to the Western hemisphere, the question is wrong to assert that it was approximately 1400-1500 AD that it was introduced. Indigenous populations had the wheel, as shown by the discovery of wheeled toys left in tombs. [28]
  • For a detailed response, see: Book of Mormon anachronisms: Chariots and wheels



Response to claim: "23. How do Mormons account for the word “church” in the Book of Mormon, about 600 B.C., which was centuries before the beginning of the Church on the day of Pentecost?"

The author(s) of Questions All Mormons Should Ask Themselves make(s) the following claim:

23. How do Mormons account for the word “church” in the Book of Mormon, about 600 B.C., which was centuries before the beginning of the Church on the day of Pentecost?

(Author's sources: Scripture reference: 1 Ne 4:26)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information - The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event

There is a Hebrew word qalah that is widely used in the Old Testament. It is translated into King James English as "assembly" or "congregation." In the Septuagint Old Testament (a 2nd-century BC translation from Hebrew into Greek that was used by all the first century Christians), the word qalah is translated into the Greek ekklesia. In Greek, ekklesia means "assembly." This is also the New Testament word that is translated into English as "church." So, even though the King James translators translated the Hebrew qalah as "assembly," it means "church." This is obviously the way Joseph Smith was inspired to translate the Hebrew word qalah in the Book of Mormon.
  • And, as is obvious from the common use of the word ekklesia in the Septuagint Old Testament, there was a church long before the day of Pentecost.



Response to claim: "24. How do Mormons account for the italicized words in the King James Version (indicating their absence in the Hebrew and Greek) being found in the Book of Mormon?"

The author(s) of Questions All Mormons Should Ask Themselves make(s) the following claim:

24. How do Mormons account for the italicized words in the King James Version (indicating their absence in the Hebrew and Greek) being found in the Book of Mormon? (A comparison of Mosiah 14 and Isaiah 53 will provide at least 13 examples)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information - The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event

The italics do indeed identify words added by the translators. They were "added" because they were necessary words for making sense of the translation: in Hebrew and Greek the words are sometimes implied, but necessary for English to make sense. (Italics can mislead us, however, in suggesting that there is such a thing as a word-for-word translation without interpretation, save for the italics.) Thus, in some cases the italic words are necessary, and Joseph or another translator would have had to put them in. In other cases, Joseph removed the italic words. (It's not clear that Joseph even owned a Bible during the Book of Mormon translation era, much less that he knew what the italics meant.)
  • This is really a question about why the Book of Mormon text is often very close (or, in some cases, identical to) the King James Version. If Joseph was trying to forge a book (as the some claim) then why did he quote from the Bible, the one book his readers would be sure to know?



Question: What do the italicized words in the Bible represent, and why is it relevant to the Book of Mormon?

Italicized text is used in some Bible translations to indicate when a word has been "added" because of necessity of English grammar

Often, the italicized word is a word which is implied in the original Greek or Hebrew text, but must be explicitly used in English. It is claimed by some that Joseph Smith was aware of this, and while copying the KJV passages, tended to alter the italicized words to make it look more like a translation.

Some members accept the possibility that the italicized words are often altered "intentionally," but disagree with what this means about the translation. They do not see it as threatening Joseph's inspiration, the divine nature of the translation, or the reality of an ancient text on the plates. Others hold that there is no evidence that Joseph even had access to a Bible, nor that he was aware of the italics' meaning.

Either option is a viable response, and each has its strengths and weaknesses. Hopefully more data will be forthcoming to help resolve the issue, that we might better understand the translation process of the Book of Mormon.


Question: Did Joseph know what the italics in the Bible meant?

Joseph didn't even know that Jerusalem had walls around it. His basic knowledge of the Bible was limited

Just as there is no evidence that Joseph owned a Bible, there is even less that he had any knowledge of what the italicized words in the translation meant. Emma made Joseph's early ignorance crystal clear:

When he stopped for any purpose at any time he would, when he commenced again, begin where he left off without any hesitation, and one time while he was translating he stopped suddenly, pale as a sheet, and said, ‘Emma, did Jerusalem have walls around it?’ When I answered, ‘Yes,’ he replied, ‘Oh! [I didn’t know.] I was afraid I had been deceived.’ He had such a limited knowledge of history at that time that he did not even know that Jerusalem was surrounded by walls.[29]

If Joseph didn't know this, how do the critics expect that he knew what the italics in a Bible (which he likely did not own) meant? This is something which many modern Bible readers do not know. However, one cannot conclude with certainty that Joseph did not understand what the italicized words meant. Some LDS scholars believe that he did.

Furthermore, italicization patterns varied between Bibles, and an analysis of Joseph's Book of Mormon "changes" to the KJV concluded that changes to the italics were not a determining factor.[30]


Barney: "three types of evidence favoring the conclusion that Joseph understood the meaning of the italicized words"

Some LDS scholars do believe that Joseph may have understood the meaning italicized words. Kevin Barney: [31]

I think there are basically three types of evidence favoring the conclusion that Joseph understood the meaning of the italicized words. First, and most importantly, is the distribution of the variants in Joseph’s inspired translations, which show a clear (though by no means absolute) tendency to revolve around the italicized words. Skousen and Wright agree roughly on this distribution, which is somewhere in the neighborhood of 30%, give or take, but they draw different conclusions from it. My experience spending a fair amount of time examining variants is that the italics were a significant factor.

Second is the practice of often crossing out italicized words in the “marked Bible” used as an aid in preparing the JST. Anyone with access to the critical text can see this phenomenon for herself, since they have actual pictures of the marked Bible text.

Third are near-contemporary statements from Joseph’s milieu evincing a familiarity with the purpose of the italics. A prominent example is this from a W.W. Phelps editorial in the Evening and Morning Star (January 1833):

The book of Mormon, as a revelation from God, possesses some advantage over the old scripture: it has not been tinctured by the wisdom of man, with here and there an Italic word to supply deficiencies.—It was translated by the gift and power of God.[32]


Response to claim: "25. How did the French word “adieu” get into the Book of Mormon?"

The author(s) of Questions All Mormons Should Ask Themselves make(s) the following claim:

25. How did the French word “adieu” get into the Book of Mormon?

(Author's sources: Scripture reference: Jacob 7:27)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

Come and sit by my side, if you love me; Do not hasten to bid me adieu. Just remember the Red River Valley, And the cowboy who loved you so true.



  • Adieu is English, just like all the other words in Joseph Smith's translation of the Book of Mormon. It is pronounced "adoo" (rhymes with "true"). It appears in Webster's 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language, where it is defined as "an expression of kind wishes at the parting of friends," with no hint that it derives from the French. Admittedly, it was much more commonly used in Joseph Smith's day than it is now. It shows up in Thomas Jefferson's original draft of the Declaration of Independence. This is a non-issue for the Book of Mormon.

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Question: Why is the French word "adieu" in the Book of Mormon?

The word "adieu" was in common use in English in Joseph Smith's era

Jacob 7:27 ends with the phrase, "Brethren, adieu." Some claim that because adieu is French, it shows that Joseph Smith composed the Book of Mormon, and not an ancient author.

Adieu is simply one English word among many in the Book of Mormon translation. It was in common use among Latter-day Saints and others in Joseph's era. The word's French associations are simply more familiar to the modern reader. Joseph was inspired to select the most appropriate word to use in this situation, and the word "adieu" (like the Spanish equivalent "adios" or "a Dios") means "to God". In the final analysis, the presence of the word "adieu" in the English translation of the Book of Mormon cannot be construed to indicate anything beyond the fact that Jacob intended to communicate "farewell forever, or until we meet God."

There was neither English nor French on the plates

The English Book of Mormon is a translation. This means that it is no more likely that the word adieu appeared on the plates than did the words yea, beginning, or sword. Except for proper nouns and a few other possibly transliterated nouns, no word that appears in the English version of the Book of Mormon can be said to have been on the ancient Nephite plates. Similarly, the phrase "and it came to pass" never appeared anywhere on the Nephite plates. Whatever character, word, or phrase that had been engraved on the plates was translated by Joseph Smith into what he felt was an approximate equivalent in English.

Despite the fact that the word adieu appears in the English translation of the Book of Mormon, the word adieu was certainly not known to any Book of Mormon writer, the word adieu was never used by any Book of Mormon writer, and the word adieu did not appear anywhere on the Nephite plates.

A translation can legitimately use words from many languages

The goal of a translation is to take a text written in one language and to make it understandable to someone who does not understand that language. Anyone who has had the need to translate knows that frequently there is no way to convey all of the meanings, nuances, and subtleties of the original text in the new language. Translators are free to select words and phrases that they feel best convey the original meaning and will best be understood by the readers of the translation.

For example, it would be perfectly acceptable for a translation from Japanese to English to include the non-English phrases ad hoc, hoi polloi, or savoir faire if those phrases seem to properly convey the original meaning and if the translator believes that readers will understand them.

Adieu is Joseph's translation of a concept expressed by Jacob. Adieu implies "farewell until we meet with God," a fitting finale to Jacob's testimony and writing.

The appearance of non-English words (if there are any) in the Book of Mormon has absolutely no bearing on whether the Book of Mormon is authentic or whether the translation was properly done, and the presence of non-English words in the translated text would not imply that those non-English words appeared in the original text on the Nephite plates.

Adieu was in common usage a an English word

There is a common misunderstanding among some critics of the Book of Mormon that the word adieu is not an English word. This is not true. The problem stems from the fact that adieu is both an English word and a French word, and most English speakers are more familiar with its use in a French context.

Adieu is a perfectly good English word that has appeared in English dictionaries, English literature, and in common English usage from long before Joseph Smith to the present. Adieu entered the English language in the 14th century. It entered from Middle French, not modern French, and it has been part of English for approximately 800 years. Adieu has been part of the English language longer than the word banquet, which is also a word in modern French, but banquet entered the English language only in the 15th century. Adieu is no less English than commence, nation, psychology, Bible, vision, or any other word that can be traced back to Latin, Greek, German, French, Spanish, or any other language.

The presence of adieu is no more a challenge to the historicity and authenticity of the Book of Mormon than the 36 uses of banquet in the NIV is a challenge to the historicity and authenticity of the Bible.

French at the time of Christ?

In 1737, William Whiston (1667-1752) produced a translation of The Life of Flavius Josephus, written by a Jew born in Jerusalem in A.D. 37. Whiston's translation reads, in part:

Thus have I set down the genealogy of my family as I have found it described in the public records, and so bid adieu to those who calumniate me... off-site

Presumably, the critics would have us believe that Whiston is claiming that Josephus, a first century Jew, spoke French (a language not yet invented) because he uses the term adieu?

Mark Twain used the word "adieu"

Consider the following letter written by Mark Twain on Nov. 20, 1905. Samuel Clemens was certainly not French!

J. H. Todd 1212 Webster Street San Francisco, Cal.

Dear Sir,
Your letter is an insoluble puzzle to me. The handwriting is good & exhibits considerable character, & there are even traces of intelligence in what you say, yet the letter and the accompanying advertisements profess to be the work of the same hand. The person who wrote the advertisements is without doubt the most ignorant person now alive on the planet; also without doubt he is an idiot, an idiot of the 33rd degree, & scion of an ancestral procession of idiots stretching back to the Missing Link. It puzzles me to make out how the same hand could have constructed your letter & your advertisements. Puzzles fret me, puzzles annoy me, puzzles exasperate me; & always, for a moment, they arouse in me an unkind state of mind toward the person who has puzzled me. A few moments from now my resentment will have faded & passed & I shall probably even be praying for you; but while there is yet time I hasten to wish that you may take a dose of your own poison by mistake, & enter swiftly into the damnation which you & all other patent medicine assassins have so remorselessly earned & do so richly deserve.

Adieu, adieu, adieu !
Mark Twain

Chaucer used the word "adieu"

Geoffrey Chaucer, often regarded as the father of English literature, used adieu around 1374:

And said, he wold in trouthe alwey hym holde, And his adew [adieu] made (Troilus and Criseyde 2:1084).

Shakespeare used the word "adieu" frequently in his plays

William Shakespeare is nothing if not an English writer. He uses adieu frequently in his plays:

Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 5
GHOST:Adieu, adieu! Hamlet, remember me. off-site
The Merchant of Venice, Act 2, Scene 3
LAUNCELOT Adieu! tears exhibit my tongue. Most beautiful/ pagan, most sweet Jew! off-site
Romeo and Juliet, Act 3, Scene 5
ROMEO: Dry sorrow drinks our blood. Adieu, adieu! off-site
The Merry Wives of Windsor, Act 2, Scene 1
NYM: Adieu. I love not the humour of bread and cheese,/ and there's the humour of it. Adieu.

There are over a hundred other examples. off-site

The original draft of the Declaration of Independence included the word "adieu"

Thomas Jefferson's original draft of the Declaration of Independence read, in part (beginning shown in image by blue underline):

...be it so, since they will have it: the road to glory & happiness is open to us too; we will climb it in a separate state, and acquiesce in the necessity which pronounces our everlasting Adieu![33]

Jefferson later crossed out "everlasting Adieu," and replaced it with "eternal separation."[34]

A segment of the fourth page of Thomas Jefferson's rough draft of the Declaration of Independence (original in Library of Congress). The red line indicates where Jefferson has written "everlasting Adieu," which he later struck out and replaced with the text underlined in green, "eternal separation." *

Noah Webster's dictionary contains a definition for the word "adieu"

Noah Webster's 1828 American dictionary demonstrates that adieu was perfectly good English the year prior to the Book of Mormon's translation:

ADIEU', Adu'.

Farewell; an expression of kind wishes at the parting of friends.

ADIEU', n. A farewell, or commendation to the care of God; as an everlasting adieu.

It should be noted that the word adieu appears in nearly every modern English dictionary, and that although its etymology may be listed as being from Middle French, the word itself is not indicated as being a non-English word.

John and Charles Wesley used "adieu" in some of their hymns

The Wesley brothers, founders of Methodism, used adieu in some of their hymns:

Hymn 285
I'll bid this world of noise and show/ With all its glittering snares, adieu! off-site
Hymn 809
VAIN, delusive world, adieu... off-site[35]

Furthermore, John Wesley was fond of adieu, using it many times in his personal letters. A few examples follow; more are available off-site

5 January 1763 to Charles Wesley
"We join in love to you both. My wife gains ground. She is quite peaceable and loving to all. Adieu!" off-site
17 May 1742 to Charles Wesley
Let all the brethren pray for me. Adieu! off-site
15 December 1772 to Charles Wesley
My love to all. Adieu! off-site
16 December 1772 to Mrs. Bennis
My dear sister, adieu off-site

Irenaeus - French in the 1st Century?

Speaking after quoting Deuteronomy 33:9, the early Christian author Irenaeus (A.D. 115–202) had his ancient writings translated as follows:

But who are they that have left father and mother, and have said adieu to all their neighbours, on account of the word of God and His covenant, unless the disciples of the Lord?[36]

Is this a legitimate translation, or was Irenaeus non-existent and the translator a fraud for using "adieu"?

Other English authors

The Oxford English Dictionary lists a variety of English authors who have used "adieu" in its various senses:

  • 1413 LYDG. Pylgr. Sowle II. lxv. (1859) 59, I bad hym adyeu.
  • 1513 DOUGLAS Æneis I. vi. 174 Thus he repreuis, bot sche is went adew.
  • 1575 CHURCHYARD Chippes (1817) 151 And set the world agoing once adue It is mutch like a streame that hath no stay.
  • 1592 WARNER Albion's Eng. VIII. xl. (1612) 196 Their eies..now looke their last adew.
  • 1602 CAREW Cornwall 111a, Shepherd adiews his swymming flocke, The Hinde his whelmed haruest hope.
  • 1624 H. SMITH 6 Serm. 11 Bid conscience adiewe. 1771 Junius Lett. xlii. 221 The king..bids adieu to amicable negociation.
  • 1653 A. WILSON James I, 251 The Queen spoke her own Adieu in French.
  • 1702 POPE Sappho 111 Sure 'twas not much to bid one kind adieu.
  • c1815 JANE AUSTEN Northang. Abb. (1833) I. xv. 98 His adieus were not long.
  • 1818 SCOTT Hrt. Midl. (1873) 119 The old man arose and bid them adieu.
  • 1855 TENNYSON Daisy 85 What more? we took our last adieu.

Use of the word "adieu" among early Latter-day Saints

Index page from the 1835 book of hymns chosen by Emma Smith for use in the Church. Original from BYU library. off-site

Closer to home, hymn #52 (penned by a non-LDS author) was collected by Emma Smith for the use of the Church. In this hymn, adieu is used twice in the first line:

Adieu, my dear brethren adieu,
Reluctant we give you the hand,
No more to assemble with you,
Till we on mount Zion shall stand.[37]

Clearly, this was a word familiar to Joseph and his contemporaries. The Church's Times and Seasons periodical used the word 19 times.

Use of the word "adieu" among Non-LDS Contemporaries

Emma Smith's second husband, Lewis Bidamon, was certainly not LDS. His letters reveal that his spelling is not terribly sophisticated. Yet, even he was very comfortable using the phrase "adieu," as in this letter to Emma:

Adeau, dear Emma, for the present. Give my warmest affections to the children and all inquireing friends, and curses to my enmeys![38]


Response to claim: "26. Was it right or wrong for Solomon to have many wives? (See Jacob 2:24; D & C 132:38,39) Which is it?"

The author(s) of Questions All Mormons Should Ask Themselves make(s) the following claim:

26. Was it right or wrong for Solomon to have many wives? (See Jacob 2:24; D & C 132:38,39) Which is it?

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information - The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event

It is true that Solomon was condemned for some of his marriage practices. This problem was mentioned in Deuteronomy:

15 Thou shalt in any wise set him king over thee, whom the LORD thy God shall choose: one from among thy brethren shalt thou set king over thee: thou mayest not set a stranger over thee, which is not thy brother...17 Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away... (Deuteronomy 17:15,17)

  • Jacob was likely referring to these prohibitions. He emphasized that monogamy was the default command to God's people, unless otherwise commanded.
  • The command to kings is that they:
  1. not multiply wives to themselves (i.e., only those who hold proper priesthood keys may approve plural marriage—see 2 Samuel 12:8, Jacob 2:30, DC 132:38-39);
  2. that these wives not be those who turn his heart away from God (1 Kings 11:3-4);
  3. not take excessive numbers of wives (see Jacob 2:24).
  • Solomon's problem is described:

1 BUT king Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites;
2 Of the nations concerning which the LORD said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you: for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods: Solomon clave unto these in love...
7 Then did Solomon build an high place for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, in the hill that is before Jerusalem, and for Molech, the abomination of the children of Ammon.
8 And likewise did he for all his strange wives, which burnt incense and sacrificed unto their gods. (1 Kings 11:1-8)

  • Solomon's wives turned his heart away from, as Deuteronomy cautioned. Nothing is said against the plurality of wives (and, indeed, Solomon was greatly blessed and praised by God even while practicing polygamy on a large scale). But, Solomon was later condemned for wives taken without authority that turned his heart away from the Lord.



  • For a detailed response, see: Polygamy not Biblical and Book of Mormon condemns polygamy

Response to claim: "27. If polygamy was a provision for increasing population rapidly, why did God give Adam only one wife?"

The author(s) of Questions All Mormons Should Ask Themselves make(s) the following claim:

27. If polygamy was a provision for increasing population rapidly, why did God give Adam only one wife?

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

Normally, this conclusion is drawn from a bad interpretation of a passage in the Book of Mormon found in Jacob 2:30. However, Jacob 2:30 probably refers to the practice of Levirate marriage found in the Law of Moses, a practice which would actually require the Israelites to practice polygamy under certain specific circumstances. One of the problems with the question (implied in its interpretation) is that it hasn't (and doesn't) increase populations rapidly.



  • That being said, one purpose of plural marriage is increasing righteous posterity. God apparently did not feel that this was needed with Adam and Eve. They did not have to contend with a larger, wicked group of inhabitants all around them as some other prophets have had to do.

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Response to claim: "28. D&C 129:4, 5 says, “When a messenger comes saying he has a message from God, offer him your hand and request him to shake hands with you. If he be an angel he will do so, and you will feel his hand.” How can this test distinguish between an angel of God and a Jehovah’s Witness missionary...or a Mormon Elder?"

The author(s) of Questions All Mormons Should Ask Themselves make(s) the following claim:

28. D&C 129:4, 5 says, “When a messenger comes saying he has a message from God, offer him your hand and request him to shake hands with you. If he be an angel he will do so, and you will feel his hand.” How can this test distinguish between an angel of God and a Jehovah’s Witness missionary...or a Mormon Elder?

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda and/or spin - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

DC 129:2 provides a clear context for this type of test. It is talking about proving the identity of a personage who can appear suddenly inside of an enclosed room (John 20:19) and suddenly vanish out of sight (Luke 24:31). It is not talking about mortals such as Mormon Elders or Jehovah's Witnesses. D&C 129 also states that the test is meant for personages who exhibit a degree of "glory" or "light" (vv. 6, 8). Again, this has nothing to do with mortals.




Notes

  1. Harold B. Lee, Teachings of Harold B. Lee (Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft, 1996), 156. GospeLink (requires subscrip.)
  2. Noel B. Reynolds, "The Gospel of Jesus Christ as Taught by the Nephite Prophets," Brigham Young University Studies 31 no. 3 (Summer 1991), 33.
  3. Stephen E. Robinson and H. Dean Garrett, A Commentary on the Doctrine and Covenants: Volume Three (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2004), 32-33.
  4. Orson Pratt, An Interesting Account of Several Remarkable Visions (Edinburgh, Scotland: Ballantyne and Hughes, 1840), 5. off-site off-site Full title GL direct link
  5. Karl Larson and Katharine Miles Larson, eds., Diary of Charles Lowell Walker (Logan, UT: Utah State University Press, 1980), 2:755–56 [recorded 2 February 1893]
  6. Apostle Peter (claimed), "Clementine Homilies," in 17:16 Ante-Nicene Fathers, edited by Philip Schaff (Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1886)8:322–323. ANF ToC off-site This volume
  7. J.N. Sanders, A Commentary on the Gospel According to St. John, edited and completed by B.A. Mastin (New York, Harper & Row, 1968), 147–148.
  8. Ezra Taft Benson, "Joy in Christ," Ensign (March 1986), 3–4. (emphasis added) off-site
  9. Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2nd edition, (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966), 822. GL direct link
  10. Ezra Taft Benson, "Five Marks of the Divinity of Jesus Christ," From a fireside address given at the University of Utah Special Events Center on 9 December 1979.
  11. Brigham Young, "Character of God and Christ, etc.," (8 July 1860) Journal of Discourses 8:115. (See also Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 1:238.; Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 4:218.; Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 11:268..
  12. Ezra Taft Benson, "Joy in Christ," Ensign (March 1986), 3–4. (emphasis added) off-site
  13. Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2nd edition, (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966), 742. GL direct link
  14. Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2nd edition, (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966), 822. GL direct link
  15. Harold B. Lee, Teachings of Harold B. Lee (Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft, 1996), 14. GospeLink (requires subscrip.)
  16. Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 volumes, edited by Brigham H. Roberts, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1957), 2:182. Volume 2 link
  17. Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 volumes, edited by Brigham H. Roberts, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1957), 5:336–337. Volume 5 link
  18. Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 volumes, edited by Brigham H. Roberts, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1957), 6:254. Volume 6 link
  19. Orson Hyde, “Judgments of God on the United States, Etc.,” Journal of Discourses, reported by G.D. Watt 18 March 1855, Vol. 2 (London: Latter-Day Saint’s Book Depot, 1855), 210.
  20. Ibid.
  21. William Phipps, "The Case for a Married Jesus," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 7 no. 4 (1972), 44-49., and William Phipps, Was Jesus Married? The Distortion of Sexuality in the Christian Tradition (New York: Harper and Row, 1970).
  22. Charles W. Penrose, "Peculiar Questions Briefly Answered," Improvement Era 15 no. 11 (September 1912).
  23. (6 October 1854) Journal of Discourses 2:82. Elder Hyde's interpretation of Isaiah 53:10 is at variance with the one given in the Book of Mormon. Abinadi taught that the prophets and those who believe the words of the prophets are Jesus' seed (Mosiah 15:10-13).
  24. "LDS do not endorse claims in 'Da Vinci'," Deseret News, 17 May 2006; (Link). See also "Book's premise not so shocking to LDS," The Salt Lake Tribune, 19 May 2006; (Link).
  25. See Lee Levine, The Ancient Synagogue: The First Thousand Years, second edition (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2005).
  26. See, for example, an article from the Jewish Encyclopedia, available online here.
  27. Noah Webster, An American Dictionary of the English Language (New York: S. Converse, 1828), s.v. "white."
  28. Charles Phillips and David M. Jones, Aztec & Maya: Life in an Ancient Civilization (London: Hermes House, 2005), 65.
  29. Joseph Smith III, “Last Testimony of Sister Emma,” Saints’ Advocate 2 (Oct. 1879): 51.
  30. See "Italics in the King James Bible," in Royal Skousen, "Critical Methodology and the Text of the Book of Mormon (Review of New Approaches to the Book of Mormon: Explorations in Critical Methodology by Brent Lee Metcalfe)," FARMS Review of Books 6/1 (1994): 121–144. off-site
  31. Kevin Barney, "KJV Italics," bycommonconsent.com (13 October 2007)
  32. W.W. Phelps, The Evening and the Morning Star (January 1833)
  33. Thomas Jefferson, "original Rough draght," The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Volume 1:1760-1776 (Princeton University Press, 1950), 423–428. off-site
  34. Editorial Note, "Jefferson's 'original Rough draught,' of the Declaration of Independence," (Princeton University Press, 2004), 6, footnote 16. off-site
  35. John Wesley, A Collection of Hymns for the Use of the People Called Methodists (London: Wesleyan-Methodist Book Room, 1889 [1780]), #285, #809.
  36. Irenaeus, "Against Heresies," in book 4 chap. 8 Ante-Nicene Fathers, edited by Philip Schaff (Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1886)1:471. ANF ToC off-site This volume
  37. Emma Smith, A Collection of Sacred Hymns, for the Church of the Latter Day Saints Hymn 52, (Kirtland, Ohio: F. G. Williams & co., 1835), 68.
  38. Lewis Bidamon to Emma Smith Bidamon, 20 April 1850, RLDS Archives; cited in Linda King Newell and Valeen Tippetts Avery, Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith, 2nd edition, (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1994), 257. Spelling as original, italics added.