Behind the Mask/Index/Section 7

Table of Contents


A FairMormon Analysis of:
Behind the Mask of Mormonism
A work by author: John Ankerberg & John Weldon

Claims made in "Section 7: Mormon Revelation and New Scripture"

Claims made in "Chapter 21: Mormonism's First Vision Account"

Page Claim Response Author's sources

268

  • The authors claim that the First Vision is used "as the logical basis for condemning Christian belief as an 'abomination'" Hoyt W. Brewster, Jr, Curriculum Planning and Development Manager of the Church Curriculum Department is quoted as saying:

It is clear that God the Father and his Son were greatly displeased with the doctrines being taught in the churches....Any creed, doctrine, [etc.]...that deliberately or inadvertently leads people from the saving power of Christ and his gospel [i.e., Mormon belief] is an abomination."

  • Joseph never condemned "Christian belief" as an abomination. The authors have twisted words here. The creeds—post-biblical additions which required non-scriptural concepts—were said to be abominations.
  • Hoyt W. Brewster, Jr., Sure Foundation, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 211.

268

  • Elder John A. Widstsoe is quoted as saying:

Jesus said to Joseph that all the churches were wrong, and that their creeds were an abomination in his sight, that those professors were all corrupt. This statement has given a great deal of offense. It should not amaze us, however, if we consider that Joseph went in search of truth....All untruth is an abomination....The [orthodox Christian] ministers...were corrupt teachers....Truth is the only holy thing; and if it is violated or changed, those who teach it become corrupt and abominable.

  • Widtsoe's quote actually undercuts the critics' claim. It should be clear that referring to something or someone in this context as "an abomomination" or "corrupt" simply means, "not entirely true" or "imperfect."
  • Hoyt W. Brewster, Jr., Sure Foundation, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 211.

268

  • It is claimed that "three additional earlier accounts" of the First Vision were "suppressed by Mormon authorities because they contradicted the official story."
  •  Quotes another author's opinion as if it were fact: The authors are simply repeating the Tanner's argument.
  •  Absurd claim: Various First Vision accounts had been made public in LDS publications before the Tanners' book was published, much less the book here under review:
    • Dean C. Jessee, "The Early Accounts of Joseph Smith's First Vision (1831–1839)," Brigham Young University Studies 9 no. 3 (Spring 1969), 275–296. off-site
  • Deseret Book went on to publish all of Joseph's holographic writings, including the 1832 First Vision account:
    • Dean C. Jessee, The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, [original edition] (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book, 1984), 1–. ISBN 0877479747. GL direct link
  • Publishing in BYU Studies and Deseret Book can hardly be "suppressing" documents.

268

  • The 1832 account gives a different age, message and number of personages. Joseph's reason for praying is different, and a revival is not mentioned.
  • Ankerberg, Mormonism Revisited, 13-14.

269

  • Accounts "written between 1835 and 1836" are claimed to have "no mention of God or Christ at all—only of many spirits who 'testified' of Jesus." A group of "nebulous 'spirits'" tells Joseph to begin a new church rather than God.
  •  Absurd claim
  •  Misrepresentation of source: This is a bizarre claim. From Joseph's diary entry from 9 November 1835:

...a personage appeard in the midst of this pillar of flame which was spread all around, and yet nothing consumed, another personage soon appeard like unto the first, he said unto me thy sins are forgiven thee, he testified unto me that Jesus Christ is the Son of God; and I saw many angels in this vision I was about 14 years old when I received this first communication; When I was about 17 years old I saw another vision of angels in the night season after I had retired to bed...

  • Two personages appeared, and in addition Joseph saw "many angels."

270

  • The authors ask the question: "If Jesus had really been standing before Joseph Smith, why would a multitude of spirits also have been necessary to "testify" of Him?"
  •  Misrepresentation of source: This is an absurd question. If the authors had actually read the primary source, they would find that one of the two personages testified of Jesus Christ. In addition, there is no mention of a "multitude of spirits" testifying of anything. Joseph mentions that "many angels" also appeared.
  •  Double standard: Biblical visions of God also contain angelic hosts (e.g., Isaiah 6:1-4). We suspect that these conservative Christian critics would have no complaint about angels appearing along with God to biblical prophets, but condemn Joseph for the same thing.
  • Author's opinion.

271

  • The authors postulate that Joseph did have a vision of spirits, and that these spirits wanted Joseph to establish the "Mormon church."
  • Joseph's first act as prophet was to publish the Book of Mormon, which was intended to serve in the "convincing of the Jew and Gentile that JESUS is the CHRIST, the ETERNAL GOD, manifesting himself unto all nations" (title page). Why would evil spirits inspire someone to testify that Jesus was the Christ and God?
  • Jesus had a reply to similar critics who accused him of working by the power of the devil: "if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand?....But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you" (Matthew 12:26-28).
  • Authors' own (very bizarre) opinion.

271

  • The authors state that Joseph "never saw the biblical Jesus" because they say that Jesus "would never appear to an occultist, reject his own faithful servants as 'abominations' and then proceed to begin a new, heretical church that denied and opposed everything He ever taught."
  • The authors engage in circular reasoning—they presume that what they claim about Joseph is true, and then use it to argue that Joseph could not have had a visitation because of the (unproven) accusations which they make.
  • Author's opinion.

Claims made in "Mormonism's Book of Mormon"

Page Claim Response Author's sources

Claims made in "Mormonism's Word of God"

Page Claim Response Author's sources

Claims made in "The Historical Teachings of Mormonism"

Page Claim Response Author's sources

Claims made in "Mormonism's Prophetic Record"

Page Claim Response Author's sources