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Response to "Difficult Questions for Mormons: General Questions"

A FairMormon Analysis of: Difficult Questions for Mormons, a work by author: The Interactive Bible
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Difficult Questions for Mormons
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Response to claim: "Why did the angel take Nephi Plates back to heaven?"

The author(s) of Difficult Questions for Mormons make(s) the following claim:

Response to claim: "Why did the angel take Nephi Plates back to heaven? Do they not belong with man? Would not their existence prove once [and] for all that Mormonism is truth? God allowed the Jews to carry the 10 commandments for several centuries in their original physical form, written by the finger of God Himself!"

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

We cannot know the mind of God. We do know the plates contained a sealed portion and that Moroni was worried they would be used for worldly purposes instead of the sacred purpose for which they were created. God could also have preserved the Israelite records and relics for us today if they were essential to finding truth, but He chose not to, instead allowing us to develop faith.



Response to claim: "Will you, as a Mormon, please read the Bible cover to cover and ask God to reveal to you that it contains all of God's message to man"

The author(s) of Difficult Questions for Mormons make(s) the following claim:

Response to claim: "Will you, as a Mormon, please read the Bible cover to cover and ask God to reveal to you that it contains all of God's message to man and that parts are not lost or altered and that the Book of Mormon is false?"

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

This implies members of the church do not pray over the truths contained in the Bible as well. Joseph Smith took the Bible's messages to heart when he prayed to know which church to join. Mormons do accept that the Bible contains God's message to man, and have no problem with reading the Bible "cover to cover." The Book of Mormon is another testament of Jesus Christ.



Response to claim: "If the original 1830 Book of Mormon was inspired then why were there so many errors and changes and additions and deletions"

The author(s) of Difficult Questions for Mormons make(s) the following claim:

Response to claim: "If the original 1830 Book of Mormon was inspired then why were there so many errors and changes and additions and deletions, when compared to current editions?"

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 original manuscript is a stream of dictation. Errors were inserted during this process. If there were changes needed to improve the understanding and readability, this does not imply that the original dictation was not inspired.



Question: Why were textual changes made to the Book of Mormon over the years after it was first published?

The few significant modifications were made by the Prophet Joseph Smith to clarify the meaning of the text, not to change it

The published text of the Book of Mormon has been corrected and edited through its various editions. Many of these changes were made by Joseph Smith himself. Why was this done?

The authenticity of the Book of Mormon is not affected by the modifications that have been made to its text because the vast majority of those modifications are minor corrections in spelling, punctuation, and grammar. The few significant modifications were made by the Prophet Joseph Smith to clarify the meaning of the text, not to change it. This was his right as translator of the book.

These changes have not been kept secret. A discussion of them can be found in the individual articles linked below, and in the references listed below, including papers in BYU Studies and the Ensign.

Joseph Smith taught "the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book."[1] As the end of the preceding quote clarifies, by "most correct" this he meant in principle and teaching. The authors of the Book of Mormon themselves explained several times that their writing was imperfect, but that the teachings in the book were from God (1 Nephi 19:6; 2 Nephi 33:4; Mormon 8:17; Mormon 9:31-33; Ether 12:23-26).

There are over 100,000 insignificant changes that have been made to the Book of Mormon

If one counts every difference in every punctuation mark in every edition of the Book of Mormon, the result is well over 100,000 changes.[2] The critical issue is not the number of changes that have been made to the text, but the nature of the changes.

Most changes are insignificant modifications to spelling, grammar, and punctuation, and are mainly due to the human failings of editors and publishers. For example, the word meet — meaning "appropriate" — as it appears in 1 Nephi 7:1, was spelled "mete" in the first edition of the Book of Mormon, published in 1830. (This is a common error made by scribes of dictated texts.) "Mete" means to distribute, but the context here is obvious, and so the spelling was corrected in later editions.

Some of these typographical errors do affect the meaning of a passage or present a new understanding of it, but not in a way that presents a challenge to the divinity of the Book of Mormon. One example is 1 Nephi 12:18, which in all printed editions reads "a great and a terrible gulf divideth them; yea, even the word of the justice of the Eternal God," while the manuscript reads "the sword of the justice of the Eternal God." In this instance, the typesetter accidentally dropped the s at the beginning of sword.

The current (1981) edition of the Book of Mormon has this notice printed at the bottom of the page opposite 1 Nephi, chapter 1:

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.

Some Book of Mormon changes were corrections of transcription or printing errors.

There are a few significant changes that have been made to the Book of Mormon

Changes that would affect the authenticity of the Book of Mormon are limited to:

  • those that are substantive AND
    • could possibly change the doctrine of the book OR
    • could be used as evidence that the book was written by Joseph Smith.

There are surprisingly few meaningful changes to the Book of Mormon text, and all of them were made by Joseph Smith himself in editions published during his lifetime. These changes include:

The historical record shows that these changes were made to clarify the meaning of the text, not to alter it.

Many people in the church experience revelation that is to be dictated (such as a patriarch blessing). They will go back and alter their original dictation. This is done to clarify the initial premonitions received through the Spirit. The translation process for the Prophet Joseph may have occurred in a similar manner.


Response to claim: "How can we be assured that the translation of the B of M into French or any other language is correct?"

The author(s) of Difficult Questions for Mormons make(s) the following claim:

Response to claim: "How can we be assured that the translation of the B of M into French or any other language is correct? Only the English translation is claimed to be inspired!"

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 original translation into English was done only through the power of God, however, translations into other languages are done through traditional scholarship. If better word choices are later found, the translations can be improved. It is also important to note that the translators are most often believers who perform the work prayerfully and with the Spirit as their guide. For them, it is an offering to God. This is surely no different than the persons who have translated the Bible out of its original languages into other languages.



Response to claim: "How do you account for the stunning parallels in both content and order between the B of M and the View of the Hebrews, by Ethan Smith?"

The author(s) of Difficult Questions for Mormons make(s) the following claim:

Response to claim: "How do you account for the stunning parallels in both content and order between the B of M and the View of the Hebrews, by Ethan Smith? Published in 1823 (7 years before the B of M) less than 100 miles from the Joseph Smith's parents home."

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 parallels that exist are hardly "stunning." In fact, if one reads View of the Hebrews, it becomes very apparent that it was not a source for the Book of Mormon. This is why BYU republished the book after it went out of print.



Question: Could Joseph Smith have used Ethan Smith's View of the Hebrews as a guideline for creating the Book of Mormon?

Criticisms related to View of the Hebrews and the Book of Mormon

  • It is claimed that a 19th century work by Ethan Smith, View of the Hebrews, provided source material for Joseph Smith's construction of the Book of Mormon.
  • Some also postulate a link between Ethan Smith and Oliver Cowdery, since both men lived in Poultney, Vermont while Smith served as the pastor of the church that Oliver Cowdery's family attended at the time that View of the Hebrews was being written.

Many of the criticisms proposed are based upon B. H. Roberts' list of parallels, which only had validity if one applied a hemispheric geography model to the Book of Mormon

The View of the Hebrews theory is yet another attempt to fit a secular origin to the Book of Mormon. Many of the criticisms proposed are based upon B. H. Roberts' list of parallels, which only had validity if one applied a hemispheric geography model to the Book of Mormon. There are a significant number of differences between the two books, which are easily discovered upon reading Ethan Smith's work. Many points that Ethan Smith thought were important are not mentioned at all in the Book of Mormon, and many of the "parallels" are no longer valid based upon current scholarship.[4]

Advocates of the Ethan Smith theory must also explain why Joseph, the ostensible forger, had the chutzpah to point out the source of his forgery. They must also explain why, if Joseph found this evidence so compelling, he did not exploit it for use in the Book of Mormon text itself, since the Book of Mormon contains no reference to the many "unparallels" that Ethan assured his readers virtually guaranteed a Hebrew connection to the Amerindians.


Question: Was the View of the Hebrews theory of Book of Mormon origin advanced during the lifetime of Joseph Smith?

The theory the Joseph Smith plagiarized View of the Hebrews was never advanced during Joseph Smith's lifetime

The theory the Joseph Smith plagiarized View of the Hebrews was never advanced during his lifetime. The prevailing theory of the day was the Spalding Theory, which quickly lost credibility upon the discovery of an actual Spalding manuscript in 1884 which bore no resemblance to the Book of Mormon. There are no records which indicate that Joseph Smith came into contact with the View of the Hebrews during the period of time that he was translating the Book of Mormon. The View of the Hebrews theory was in fact first proposed by I. Woodbridge Riley in 1902, 58 years after the death of the prophet.[5]

Joseph Smith quoted View of the Hebrews as supporting the Book of Mormon

There was, however, a reference to View of the Hebrews within Joseph Smith's lifetime, but it came from the prophet himself. In an article published in the Times and Seasons on June 1, 1842, Joseph quoted View of the Hebrews in support of the Book of Mormon:

If such may have been the fact, that a part of the Ten Tribes came over to America, in the way we have supposed, leaving the cold regions of Assareth behind them in quest of a milder climate, it would be natural to look for tokens of the presence of Jews of some sort, along countries adjacent to the Atlantic. In order to this, we shall here make an extract from an able work: written exclusively on the subject of the Ten Tribes having come from Asia by the way of Bherings Strait, by the Rev. Ethan Smith, Pultney, Vt., who relates as follows: "Joseph Merrick, Esq., a highly respectable character in the church at Pittsfield, gave the following account: That in 1815, he was leveling some ground under and near an old wood shed, standing on a place of his, situated on (Indian Hill)... [Joseph then discusses the supposed phylacteries found among Amerindians, citing View of the Hebrews p. 220, 223.][6]

It strains credulity to claim that Joseph drew attention to the work from which he derived most of his ideas. Why would he call attention to the source of his forgery?


Response to claim: "Why do you only add the phrase, 'as far as it is translated correctly' to describe the Bible and not after the book of Mormon?"

The author(s) of Difficult Questions for Mormons make(s) the following claim:

Response to claim: "Mormon Article of Faith #8: "We Believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God." Why do you only add the phrase, "as far as it is translated correctly" to describe the Bible and not after the book of Mormon when in fact there are far more translating errors in the Book of Mormon than the Bible?"

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

We know the source of the translation of the Book of Mormon, and we know how errors were introduced during that translation process. With regard to the Bible, however, the phrase "as far as it is translated correctly" is a disclaimer saying we're not bound by a book we know to have been imperfectly transmitted down through the centuries. Regardless, despite its imperfections, Mormons regard the Bible as scripture and treat it as such.



Response to claim: "If the Book of Mormon is true, then why has the Mormon church changed it?"

The author(s) of Difficult Questions for Mormons make(s) the following claim:

Response to claim: "If the Book of Mormon is true, then why has the Mormon church changed it? Examples are: 1 Nephi 11:21; 19:20; 20:1 and Alma 29:4. Compare these with the original Book of Mormon. (Gerald and Sandra Tanner have counted 3913 changes in the book of Mormon, excluding punctuation changes.)"

FairMormon Response

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

Members of the Church do not believe in a "one and only true text" of any scripture. The vast majority of changes made to the Book of Mormon are issues of grammar, spelling, and typographical errors. The few other changes in wording were not made by "Mormons," but by Joseph Smith, the translator and prophet.



  • No change affects the meaning of the Book of Mormon text; Mormons can quite happily use the first edition of the Book of Mormon. In fact, the changes made in the 1981 edition brought the published text closer to the original manuscripts then available.
  • Christians should be careful with such attacks. If they don’t want to have a double standard, they'd have to realize that there are more differences in Biblical manuscripts of the New Testament than there are words in the New Testament! Yet, Latter-day Saints and other Christians still believe the Bible.

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Question: What changes were made to the 1837 edition of the Book of Mormon?

Among the changes Joseph Smith made are these four in 1 Nephi 11 and 13

The earliest edition of the Book of Mormon referred to Jesus as "God." Joseph Smith later changed some, but not all, of these to "the Son of God." It is claimed by some that this is evidence that Joseph Smith changed the Book of Mormon to conform to his changing beliefs about the Trinity, claiming that Joseph was originally a solid Trinitarian (perhaps even a Modalist), and as he later began to teach that the Father and Son were two separate beings, he had to change the Book of Mormon to support his new doctrine. However, this change was a deliberate editorial insertion by Joseph Smith to clarify four verses in 1 Nephi.

The second edition of the Book of Mormon was published in 1837 at Kirtland, Ohio. The typesetting and printing were done during the winter of 1836–37, with Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery taking an active part in the editing process.

In this edition numerous corrections were made to the text of the 1830 (first) edition to bring it back to the reading in the original and printer's manuscripts. Joseph Smith also made a number of editorial changes to the text, as was his right as the translator of the text.

Among the changes he made are these four in 1 Nephi 11 and 13:

  Original manuscript Printer's manuscript 1830 edition 1837 edition
1 Nephi 11:18 behold the virgin which thou seest is the Mother of god after the manner of the flesh behold the virgin which <whom> thou seest is the Mother of <the son of> God after the manner of the flesh Behold, the virgin which thou seest, is the mother of God, after the manner of the flesh. Behold, the virgin whom thou seest, is the mother of the Son of God, after the manner of the flesh.
1 Nephi 11:21 & the angel said unto me behold the lam of god yea even the eternal father knowest thou the meaning of the tree which thy father saw & the Angel said unto me behold the Lamb of God yea even the <God> Father knowest thou the meaning of the tree which thy father saw And the angel said unto me, behold the Lamb of God, yea, even the Eternal Father! Knowest thou the meaning of the tree which thy father saw? And the angel said unto me, behold the Lamb of God, yea, even the Son of the Eternal Father! Knowest thou the meaning of the tree which thy father saw?
1 Nephi 11:32 & it came to pass that the angel spake unto me again saying look and i lookt & beheld the lam of god that he was taken By the People yea the ever lasting god was judgd of the world and i saw & bare record & it came to pass that the Angel spake unto me again saying look & I looked & behold the Lamb of God that he was taken by the People yea the everlasting God was Judged of the world & I saw &amp bear record And it came to pass the angel spake unto me again, saying, look! And I looked and beheld the Lamb of God, that he was taken by the people; yea, the Everlasting God, was judged of the world; and I saw and bear record. And it came to pass the angel spake unto me again, saying, look! And I looked and beheld the Lamb of God, that he was taken by the people; yea, the Son of the Everlasting God, was judged of the world; and I saw and bear record.
1 Nephi 13:40 (Not extant.) & the Angel spake unto me saying these last records which thou hast seen among the Gentiles shall establish the truth of the first which is <which are> of the twelve Apostles of the Lamb & shall make known the plain & precious things which have been taken away from them & shall make known unto all Kindreds Tongues & People that the Lamb of God is the <the son of> eternal Father & the saviour of the world & that all men must Come unto him or they cannot be saved And the angel spake unto me, saying: These last records which thou hast seen among the Gentiles, shall establish the truth of the first, which is of the twelve apostles of the Lamb, and shall make known the plain the precious things which have been taken away from them; and shall make known to all kindreds, tongues, and people, that the Lamb of God is the Eternal Father and the Saviour of the world; and that all men must come unto Him, or they cannot be saved; And the angel spake unto me, saying: These last records which thou hast seen among the Gentiles, shall establish the truth of the first, which are of the twelve apostles of the Lamb, and shall make known the plain the precious things which have been taken away from them; and shall make known to all kindreds, tongues, and people, that the Lamb of God is the Son of the Eternal Father and the Saviour of the world; and that all men must come unto Him, or they cannot be saved;

(The strikeouts and <insertions> in the printer's manuscript are in Joseph's hand, and were added by him during the preparation of the 1837 edition.)


Response to claim: "How did Joseph Smith carry home the golden plates of the Book of Mormon, and how did the witnesses lift them so easily?"

The author(s) of Difficult Questions for Mormons make(s) the following claim:

Response to claim: "How did Joseph Smith carry home the golden plates of the Book of Mormon, and how did the witnesses lift them so easily? (They weighed about 230 lbs. Gold, with a density of 19.3 weighs 1204.7 lbs. per cubic foot. The plates were 7" x 8" by about 6". See Articles of Faith, by Talmage, page 262, 34th ed.)"

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 "gold plates" were not a solid block of gold, which would have indeed weighed over 200 lbs. The authors have not accounted for the space between the leaves, which themselves were not perfectly flat. Neither were the plates made of pure gold, which would have fallen apart due the the softness of the metal. The plates had to be an alloy which had, as described by witnesses, the "appearance of gold." Such an alloy was used by the ancient inhabitants of the Americas.



Question: Of what material were the Book of Mormon "gold" plates constructed?

Plates having "the appearance of gold," are exactly what we would expect if they were made of tumbaga

The Journal of Book of Mormon Studies states:

Were the Book of Mormon plates pure gold, or were they made from an alloy that looked like gold? The most serious investigation of this question was done 45 years ago by Read H. Putnam of Evanston, Wyoming, a blacksmith and metallurgist. [1] Working first from the general dimensions of the set of plates as reported by eyewitnesses, he calculated that a block of pure gold of that size would have weighed a little over 200 pounds. A number of witnesses, however, put the weight of the set at about 60 pounds. The discrepancy can be partly accounted for by the fact that the leaves must have been handcrafted, presumably by hammering, and irregularities in flatness would have left air space between the plates. This led Putnam to surmise that the entire set of plates would have weighed probably less than 50 percent of the weight of a solid block of the metal.

Because the weight of a metal depends on its purity, we must also consider whether the plates were of pure gold. The Nephites were aware of purity distinctions and alloys. We know, for example, that the "brass" plates were of an alloy (quite surely bronze, a copper-tin mixture) [2] and that the plates of Ether were specifically distinguished as being of "pure" gold (Mosiah 8:9). Furthermore, Nephi taught his associates "to work in all manner of" metals and "precious ores" (2 Nephi 5:15). Yet nowhere does the text say that the Nephites' plates were of pure gold.

Joseph Smith's brother William specifically said that the material of the plates was "a mixture of gold and copper." [3] (Someone must have provided an objective basis for that statement, for the natural assumption would have been that the plates were pure gold.) The cautious statements by other witnesses, including Joseph Smith himself, who spoke of the plates as having "the appearance of gold," suggest that the metal may have been an alloy. [4]

Putnam observed that the only two colored metals from antiquity were gold and copper. An alloy of those two elements was called "tumbaga" by the Spaniards and was in common use in ancient tropical America for manufacturing precious objects. Putnam put forward the reasonable hypothesis that metal plates made in Mormon's day were of that material (the earliest Mesoamerican archaeological specimen of tumbaga—made from a hammered metal sheet—dates to the same century, the fifth century AD, when Moroni hid up the plates he had in his possession).[5] If Mormon's Book of Mormon plates were made of tumbaga, their weight would have been much less than had they been made of pure gold.[7] Putnam made that point in mathematical detail and concluded that the total weight of the plates in Joseph Smith's charge would have been near the 60-pound figure reported by several witnesses.

It is of interest that tumbaga was commonly gilded by applying citric acid to the surface. The resulting chemical reaction eliminated copper atoms from the outer .0006 inch of the surface, leaving a microscopic layer of 23-carat gold that made the object look like it was wholly gold. [6] Plates having "the appearance of gold," then, are exactly what we would expect if they were made of tumbaga.[7] [Footnote markers have been left in; references are available on the original site, see footnote.][8]


Question: How much did the gold plates weigh?

The plates weighed approximately sixty pounds

Witnesses of the Book of Mormon were consistent in their witness that the plates weighed 40-60 pounds.

Some critics assume that the "golden plates" are pure gold, or that they are a solid block of gold. Neither conclusion is warranted.

  1. Pure gold plates would be too soft to hold engraving well. An alloy of gold and copper called "tumbaga," known in Mesoamerica, would suit both the appearance and weight of the plates.[9]
  2. The plates were not a solid block of gold, but a set of page-like leaves, which reduces the weight by about 50%.
  • "weighing altogether from forty to sixty lbs."[10] —Martin Harris

Witness statements regarding the weight of the gold plates

  • "I was permitted to lift them. . . . They weighed about sixty pounds according to the best of my judgement."[11] —William Smith
  • "I . . . judged them to have weighed about sixty pounds."[12]—William Smith
  • "They were much heavier than a stone, and very much heavier than wood. . . . As near as I could tell, about sixty pounds."[13] —William Smith
  • "I hefted the plates, and I knew from the heft that they were lead or gold."[14] —Martin Harris
  • "My daughter said, they were about as much as she could lift. They were now in the glass-box, and my wife said they were very heavy. They both lifted them."[15] —Martin Harris
  • "I moved them from place to place on the table, as it was necessary in doing my work."[16] —Emma Smith
  • Joseph's sister Catherine, while she was dusting in the room where he had been translating, "hefted those plates [which were covered with a cloth] and found them very heavy."[17] —H. S. Salisbury, paraphrasing Catherine Smith Salisbury


Response to claim: "If Moroni devoutly practiced the Mormon Gospel, why is he an angel now rather than a God?"

The author(s) of Difficult Questions for Mormons make(s) the following claim:

Response to claim: "If Moroni devoutly practiced the Mormon Gospel, why is he an angel now rather than a God? (Doc. & Cov. 132:17,37)"

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 scriptures indicate that an angel is a messenger of God and can include pre-mortal, mortal and post-mortal beings, and both the Holy Ghost and the Son of God are called Messengers in Scripture even though they are also Divine. Beyond that, we have no idea where Moroni is in his eternal progression. In fact, there are only a few people who have been exalted and whom we've been told have been exalted. (See D&C 132:)



Question: If a person faithfully practices Mormonism during this life, do they become a god after they die?

Exaltation may be qualified for in mortality but completed in a process that extends far beyond this life

Exaltation may be qualified for in mortality but completed in a process that extends far beyond this life. The notion of progression to the same state as our Father in Heaven may take millenniums of millenniums to complete. We simply do not know or understand the process, but if we look at this life as a model, Heavenly Father adds responsibility upon responsibility for our young priesthood holders wherein they begin with simple tasks of a temporal nature and then progress to even greater responsibility and into a more spiritual nature. If this is a model for how Heavenly Father develops us, then we can expect that there is a process of graduation from where we are when we leave mortality towards what we will eventually become when we achieve complete exaltation. Moroni is undoubtedly somewhere along that path of progression and should be expected to be fully exalted when prepared even though he has qualified in mortality to begin the process.

If you compare it to becoming a doctor, you may qualify in college to enter medical school, but that doesn't make you a doctor the day you enroll.

Acting in a "lesser role" does not in any way diminish one's eternal progress toward exaltation

The prophet has all the priesthood keys available and can therefore act as the head of the church, as well as pass the sacrament as a deacon. If he were to exercise his priesthood authority as a deacon, this activity does not in any way diminishe his priesthood authority as the prophet. For example, when Moroni acted as a messenger when he visited Joseph Smith: We don’t know where Moroni is on his personal progress toward exaltation, but it is entirely reasonable that he could act as an angel without diminishing his personal progression if it has increased beyond that of an angel.

Joseph Smith taught:

When you climb up a ladder, you must begin at the bottom, and ascend step by step, until you arrive at the top; and so it is with the principles of the gospel—you must begin with the first, and go on until you learn all the principles of exaltation. But it will be a great while after you have passed through the veil [died] before you will have learned them. It is not all to be comprehended in this world; it will be a great work to learn our salvation and exaltation even beyond the grave”[18]


Juncker (1994): "Unknown to many, the early church fathers often referred to Jesus as an Angel....in antiquity the word 'angel' meant 'messenger.'"

Günther Juncker (at the time of this writing), Master of Divinity candidate at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School:

Unknown to many, the early church fathers often referred to Jesus as an Angel. And they gave him this appellation long before the (alleged) distortions of Constantine, the Controversies, the Councils, and the Creeds.... the word Angel has a prima facie claim to being a primitive, if not an apostolic, Christological title. Before pronouncing judgement on the Fathers, men who were often quite close to first-century apostles and eyewitnesses, we may recall that in antiquity the word "angel" had a broader semantic range than at present. When we think of angels, we immediately think of super-human, bodiless spirits, all of whom were created and some of whom fell with Satan in his rebellion. But in antiquity the word “angel” meant “messenger.” It was primarily a functional (as opposed to an ontological) description and, thus, could refer to messengers who were human, angelic, or divine (the best known of the latter being Hermes, “the messenger god”). Likewise in Scripture, in both the OT and the NT, the term angel refers to human as well as to angelic messengers.[19]


Response to claim: "Why do Mormons emphasize part of the Word of Wisdom and ignore the part forbidding the eating of meat except in winter, cold or famine?"

The author(s) of Difficult Questions for Mormons make(s) the following claim:

Response to claim: "Why do Mormons emphasize part of the Word of Wisdom and ignore the part forbidding the eating of meat except in winter, cold or famine? (Doc. & Cov. 89:12,13)."

FairMormon Response

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

Consider that Section 89 of the Doctrine and Covenants begins by setting out some wisdom for Saints at that particular time when the diet of Americans did not contain much or any vegetables, but lots of meat. The Saints were told to cut back on the consumption of meat except in winter (when the supply of vegetables and so forth was limited or unavailable. Now we adjust this by trying to urge the Saints to eat a mixture of foods which are all now essentially available in most or at least many parts of the world all through the year.



Question: Do Mormons who do not eat meat "sparingly" violate the Word of Wisdom?

Just as past members struggled as individuals and a group to keep some parts of the Word of Wisdom, it is arguable that some members today likewise struggle

As with the former members, the Lord is merciful and has not yet created a "standard" for meat consumption—each member and his or her conscience settles the matter with him or herself.

With respect to the question of why we do some things (tend to eat lots of meat) but not others (don't drink tea), the reason for that likely has much to do with the concept of following the counsel of living prophets. The current Church Handbook says "hot drinks" means tea and coffee, and it forbids the use of illegal drugs, even though neither "tea" nor illegal drugs are explicitly mentioned in the Word of Wisdom. Like other scriptures, we rely on guidance from living prophets to help us to know how Doctrine and Covenants Section 89 should be applied in our time. With respect to eating meat sparingly, that remains a "word of wisdom," but, unlike refraining from tea, is not mentioned in the current Handbook and has not been publicly mentioned by any General Authorities for many years.

Joseph Fielding Smith made the following statement with regard to eating meat:

While it is ordained that the flesh of animals is for man's food, yet this should be used sparingly. The wording of this revelation is perfectly clear in relation to this subject, but we do not always heed it. [20]

Thus, each member is encouraged to do better, but as in Joseph Smith's day we ought not to attack or dictate to others. If the Lord is displeased with us individually, he can make his will known by revelation. If He is displeased with the Church as a whole, prophetic authority will give the necessary correction.

The Word of Wisdom was enforced differently in the 19th century than today. It was not the strict test of fellowships that it is for the modern member. Members and leaders struggled with its application, and leaders of the Church were clear that while the Lord expected perfect adherence to the Word of Wisdom as an ideal, he was also patient and understanding of everyone—leader and member—who struggled to alter their habits.

In our day, the Word of Wisdom applies in ways in which it did not for Joseph Smith's era—the modern Word of Wisdom forbids a great many other illegal street drugs that received little attention in the 19th century.


Question: Does the Word of Wisdom prohibit the eating of meat except during periods of winter, cold or famine?

"The Word of Wisdom is not a system of vegetarianism. Clearly, meat is permitted"

D&C 89:12. Flesh Is to Be Used Sparingly

“The Word of Wisdom is not a system of vegetarianism. Clearly, meat is permitted [see D&C 42:18]. Naturally, that includes animal products, less subject than meat to putrefactive and other disturbances, such as eggs, milk, and cheese. These products cannot be excluded simply because they are not mentioned specifically. By that token most of our foodstuffs could not be eaten.” (Widtsoe, Evidences and Reconciliations, 3:156–57.)

D&C 89:13. “Only in Times of Winter, or of Cold, or Famine”

This verse has caused some to ask if meat should be eaten in the summer. Meat has more calories than fruits and vegetables, which some individuals may need fewer of in summer than winter. Also, before fruits and vegetables could be preserved, people often did not have enough other food to eat in winter. Spoiled meat can be fatal if eaten, and in former times meat spoiled more readily in summer than winter. Modern methods of refrigeration now make it possible to preserve meat in any season. The key word with respect to the use of meat is sparingly (D&C 89:12). [21]


Response to claim: "When Christ died, did darkness cover the land for three days or for three hours?"

The author(s) of Difficult Questions for Mormons make(s) the following claim:

Response to claim: "When Christ died, did darkness cover the land for three days or for three hours? (Luke 23:44 and 3 Nephi 8:19, 23)."

FairMormon Response

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

Darkness covered the old world (Jerusalem) for three hours. The New World experienced three days of darkness. Given that these sites are thousands of miles apart, God is perfectly capable of giving them different amounts of light. It is entirely possible for a portion of the earth to be covered in darkness for days due to volcanic eruptions. The critics here struggle to find fault.



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Question: How is it possible that there were three days of darkness in the New World and not in the Old World?

Book of Mormon Central, KnoWhy #188: How Was There A Night Without Darkness? (Video)

When the Book of Mormon says “the whole Earth” it does not actually mean the entire planet, but rather every place within the local people’s experience

Some argue that the "three days" of "darkness upon the face of the land" in the New World following Christ's death is implausible. There are also a number of references to the destruction in the New World that accompanied Christ's death to "the whole Earth." However, When the Book of Mormon says “the whole Earth” it does not actually mean the entire planet, but rather every place within the local people’s experience.

Note that in the gospel of Luke is says that Caesar taxed "all the world" (Luke 2:1). But he clearly could not have taxed anyone outside the Roman Empire, which, large as it was, was not "all the world." It certainly did not include India or China, or much of anywhere else east of Judea, nor most Arabia to the south and the vast majority of the African continent--let alone the Americas, obviously, which they did not even know. Likewise, when Jesus commanded the apostles to preach the gospel throughout "all the world" (Mark 16:15) there no evidence they went beyond the Roman Empire either.

The phrases "all the world" and "the whole earth" in the scriptures and other ancient sources generally lack the global perspective we have today, and are in fact hyperbolic, referring to a more limited region

The three days of darkness are consistent with a massive volcanic and seismic eruption

The Book of Mormon 3 Nephi 8:5-25 provides a detailed description consistent with a massive volcanic and seismic eruption. Such details are precise for both ancient and modern accounts, though they would have been unknown to Joseph Smith.

Remarkably, one of the models most favored by LDS scholars (Sorenson's Mesoamerican model) has candidate eruptions which are largely restricted to the proper time period.

The LGT model for the Book of Mormon situates Book of Mormon lands in the Caribbean tectonic plate, and intersection of multiple tectonic plates and consequently of much volcanism and seismic activity.

The three days of darkness is consistent with a period of intense volcanism. This explanation of the darkness has been particularly popular among those who advocate a limited geographical model of the Book of Mormon. Most LGT models place Book of Mormon lands in central America; this area is well-known for active seismic activity.

The intersection of the Cocos and Caribbean plates results in multiple volcanoes (shown in red dots on this USGS map) through central America.

One author suggested:

  • The basic cause of the destruction was a tremendous seismic upheaval.
  • Numerous destructive mechanisms were involved, but rain was not one of them.
  • The accompanying period of darkness was caused by an immense local cloud of volcanic ash.
  • The unprecedented lightning was due to electrical discharges within the ash cloud.
  • The intense thunder was due both to the lightning and to the rumbling of the earth due to seismic movements.
  • The vapor of darkness (1 Nephi 12:5; 19:11) and the mist of darkness (3 Nephi 8:20) were volcanic ash and dust stirred up by the quaking of the ground.[22]
An example of volcanic lightning from a 1995 eruption in Indonesia—such a phenomenon matches the 3 Nephi description of severe lightning following Christ's crucifixion.

A concentration of dense volcanic gases (carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide) at ground level is sufficient to prevent igniting of the kindling and to cause suffocation

The inability to ignite the exceedingly dry wood is interesting in view of the fact that a few people are also described as dying from suffocation during the period of destruction which preceded the period of darkness (3 Nephi 10:13). This suggests that in some regions the concentration of dense volcanic gases (carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide) at ground level was sufficient to prevent igniting of the kindling and to cause suffocation. The uncle of Pliny died of suffocation as a consequence of a volcanic eruption.

Volcanic eruptions could have accompanied the violent earthquake described in 3 Nephi

James Baer notes that volcanic eruptions could have accompanied the violent earthquake described in 3 Nephi. He notes that these would have made the atmosphere dark with dust and cinders and would have released carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and sulfurous gases, which would have been suffocating and could have made fire kindling impossible.

The "mist of darkness" and "vapor of darkness" is consistent with the falling of volcanic ash

Another mechanism, however, seems an equally likely explanation of the inability to ignite the dry tinder. If one assumes that sparks from flint were the common method of starting fires, then the heavy ash fall could have been effective in preventing ignition. This heavy ash fall also offers a likely explanation for the terms mist of darkness and vapor of darkness used in 1 Nephi 12:4–5.[23]

There is evidence dating volcanic eruptions in Mesoamerica to the proper timeframe

Given the wide variety of geographic models proposed for the Book of Mormon, there is obviously not evidence of volcanism in all areas, especially at the proper (i.e., at around AD 30, at Christ's death). (If the volcanic hypothesis for the three days' darkness is true, this provides one data point which can exclude many models, including a hemispheric or exclusively North American model.)

However, Sorenson's Mesoamerican model has been noted to have some interesting features in this regard: volcanoes do exist in the proper area, and these volcanoes have been shown by modern dating to have erupted only during two periods during the past 8600 years (3% of the time):

  • 1230–1190 BC [too early]
  • 30 BC – AD 170 [matches the circa AD 30 eruption at Christ's death]

Thus, Sorenson's model could have been easily disproven by these data, but was not.[24]

Furthermore, ice core data is consistent with a major volcanic event at the time of Christ's death, within the margin of error provided by the dating measurements, though it is not at present possible to determine the location of these eruptions.[25]


Response to claim: "Joseph Smith said that there are men living on the moon who dress like Quakers and live to be nearly 1000 years old"

The author(s) of Difficult Questions for Mormons make(s) the following claim:

Response to claim: "Joseph Smith said that there are men living on the moon who dress like Quakers and live to be nearly 1000 years old. Since he was wrong about the moon, is it safe to trust him regarding the way to Heaven? (The Young Woman's Journal, Vol. 3, pages 263-264. See repreint in Mormonism --Shadow or Reality? by Jerald and Sandra Tanner, page 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

There is no contemporary record of Joseph Smith making this statement—the first account dates more than 40 years after his death. In Joseph's day, there had been newspaper articles reporting that a famous astronomer had reported that there were men on the moon and elsewhere. This was published in LDS areas; the retraction of this famous hoax never was publicized, and so they may not have even heard about it. Thus, some members and leaders were most likely repeating what had been told them by the science of the day. (Lots of Biblical prophets talked about the earth being flat, the sky being a dome, etc.—it is inconsistent for conservative Protestants to complain that a false belief about the physical world shared by others in their culture condemns the Mormons, but does not condemn Bible prophets.)



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Question: Did Joseph Smith state that the moon was inhabited, and that it's inhabitants were dressed like Quakers?

This is not a quote from Joseph Smith, but rather a late, third-hand account of something that Joseph is supposed to have said

The source for this claim is not Joseph Smith himself; the first mention comes in 1881 in Oliver B. Huntington's journal, who claimed that he had the information from Philo Dibble. So, we have a late, third-hand account of something Joseph is supposed to have said. [26] Hyrum Smith [27] and Brigham Young [28] both expressed their view that the moon was inhabited.

A patriarchal blessing given to Huntington also indicated that "thou shalt have power with God even to translate thyself to Heaven, & preach to the inhabitants of the moon or planets, if it shall be expedient." [29]

Huntington later wrote an article about the concept for a Church magazine:

As far back as 1837, I know that he [Joseph Smith] said the moon was inhabited by men and women the same as this earth, and that they lived to a greater age than we do -- that they live generally to near the age of a 1,000 years.

He described the men as averaging nearly six feet in height, and dressing quite uniformly in something near the Quaker style. [30]

So, it would seem that the idea of an inhabited moon or other celestial body was not foreign to at least some early LDS members. It is not clear whether the idea originated with Joseph Smith.

In the 1800s, the idea that the moon was inhabited was considered scientific fact by many

However, it should be remembered that this concept was considered 'scientific fact' by many at the time. William Herschel, the discoverer of the planet Uranus, died in 1822. Herschel argued "[w]ho can say that it is not extremely probable, nay beyond doubt, that there must be inhabitants on the Moon of some kind or another?" Furthermore, "he thought it possible that there was a region below the Sun's fiery surface where men might live, and he regarded the existence of life on the Moon as 'an absolute certainty.'" [31]

Other scientists announced that they had discovered "a lunar city with a collection of gigantic ramparts extending 23 miles in either direction." [32]

The 1835 Great Moon Hoax added to the belief in lunar inhabitants

In addition to these pronouncements from some of the most prominent scientists of the day, a clever hoax in 1835 only added to the belief in lunar inhabitants.

John Herschel, son of the famous William, went to South Africa to study stars visible only in the southern hemisphere. This was the cause of considerable public interest, given Herschel's involvement. (William Herschel was the preeminent astronomer of his generation. He had discovered Uranus, and was also of the view that the moon was inhabited. [33]

On 23 August 1835, Richard Locke published the first article in the New York Sun of what purported to be reports from Herschel's observations. Over a total of six installments, Locke claimed that Herschel was reporting lunar flowers, forests, bison, goats, unicorns, bipedal tailless beavers who cooked with fire, and (most provocatively) flying men with wings:

They appeared to be constantly engaged in conversing, with much impassioned gesticulation; and hence it was inferred, that they are rational beings. Others, apparently of a higher order, were discovered afterwards. . . . And finally a magnificent temple for the worship of God, of polished sapphire, in a triangle shape, with a roof of gold. [34]

These reports were widely believed and caused a minor sensation. They were carried in the Painsville Telegraph, adjacent to Mormon Kirtland. [35] The Sun eventually hinted that the matter was a hoax:

Certain correspondents have been urging us to come out and confess the whole to be a hoax; but this we can by no means do, until we have the testimony of the English or Scotch papers to corroborate such a declaration. [36]

Popular belief in lunar inhabitants persisted for decades after the hoax

No more than this was forthcoming, and the Painsville Telegraph made no mention of the possibility of a hoax. Popular belief in lunar inhabitants persisted for decades. Herschel initially found the episode amusing, but he eventually grew frustrated with having to continually explain to the public that the whole matter was a hoax, with which he had nothing to do: he would later refer "the whole affair as 'incoherent ravings'". [37]

In a private letter, Hirschel's wife indicated how skillfully the hoax was carried out:

Margaret Herschel was more amused. She called the story 'a very clever peice of imagination,' and wrote appreciately..."The whole description is so well clenched with minute details of workmanship...that the New Yorkists were not to be blamed for actually believing it as they did...." [38]

Modern prophets and general authorities will sometimes cite newspaper articles or books to illustrate the points which they wish to make

Church publications did not shy from embracing later scientific findings on the matter:

1856

Desert News noted:

Proof that the Moon is not Inhabited.

“Dr. Scoresby, in an account that he has given of some recent observations made with the Earl of Rosse’s telescope, says: ‘With respect to the moon, every object on its surface of 100 feet was distinctly to be seen; and he had no doubt that, under very favorable circumstances, it would be so with objects 60 feet in height…. But no vestiges of architecture remain to show that the moon, is, or ever was, inhabited by a race of mortals similar to ourselves….. There was no water visible….”[39]

1880

“As there is no air nor water on the moon, but very few changes can take place upon its surface. There can be no vegetation and no animals, and although many astronomers have brought their imaginations to bear upon this subject, and have given us descriptions of the beautiful scenery upon its surface, and have even peopled it with inhabitants, we have every reason to believe that it is as barren and lifeless as an arid rock."[40]

Modern prophets and general authorities will sometimes cite newspaper articles or books to illustrate the points which they wish to make. In doing so, they are not endorsing such articles or books as being prophetically correct in all particulars. Rather, they are using the science and information of their day to enhance their preaching of the gospel.

LDS doctrine was not provincial, since it provided for "worlds without number" (Moses 1:33) created by Christ. These worlds held those who would require the gospel, since by Christ "the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God." (DC 76:24)

Information given to the 19th century Saints by the authorities of the day were consistent with these doctrines, and so they believed them, and occasionally mentioned them in a religious context. As always, prophets and believers are products of their time. Biblical authors, for example, clearly accepted a geocentric (earth centered) cosmos, with a flat earth and heavens supported by four pillars. Like the authors of the Bible, modern prophets are generally beholden to their era's scientific concepts, except where corrections in those concepts are needed to permit the gospel to be understood and applied. This does not mean, however, that prophets of any era do not receive revelation about matters of eternal significance.


Response to claim: "Joseph Smith prepared fourteen Articles of Faith. Why has the original No. 11 been omitted?"

The author(s) of Difficult Questions for Mormons make(s) the following claim:

Response to claim: "Joseph Smith prepared fourteen Articles of Faith. Why has the original No. 11 been omitted? (Joseph Smith Begins His Work, Vol. 2, three pages after page 160, among the photos.)"

FairMormon Response

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

There were many versions of "articles of faith" prepared by various early Latter-day Saints to support their missionary efforts. Most of them had essential items in common (belief in God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost; the necessity of faith, repentance, baptism, and the gift of the Holy Ghost; etc.), but there were various differences among them. Even after the Wentworth Letter was published in March 1842, many other lists of LDS beliefs continued to appear for the next generation. In April 1849, James H. Flanigan included a list of fourteen statements in a pamphlet published in England, and this list was quoted and sometimes modified in various publications throughout the nineteenth century. Critics are trying to impose their inerrantist view of scripture on the Latter-day Saints. The saints chose to canonize one summary of their beliefs; they are not troubled by the existence of other similar summaries. Since the Church believes in on-going revelation, any needed additions or alterations to belief will be available as required.



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Question: Is it true that there used to be fourteen Articles of Faith?

The present-day Articles of Faith were not the first effort of members and missionaries from the Church to summarize their core beliefs

The present-day Articles of Faith were not the first effort of members and missionaries from the Church to summarize their core beliefs. There are several different lists, written by different authors.

The Articles of Faith used today in the Church are from Joseph Smith's "Wentworth Letter," but this does not mean that the other summaries were not useful reflections of what early members believed was important for others to understand about their faith.

The following is an excerpt from the Encyclopedia of Mormonism:

The Wentworth Letter was not the first attempt to summarize basic LDS beliefs. Earlier lists, some of which may have influenced the Wentworth listing, had appeared prior to 1842. As early as June 1829, Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery were committing to paper the "Articles and Covenants" of the soon-to-be-organized Church. Later known as Doctrine and Covenants Section 20, this text enumerates a number of basic beliefs, including the existence of God; the creation and fall of man; the centrality of Jesus Christ; the fundamental ordinances of the gospel, including baptism; and the basic duties of members (20:17–36). This document, the first accepted by a Church conference vote, was not an exhaustive listing of all beliefs but rather a basic charter for the infant organization, rooted in the Bible and the Book of Mormon.

In the first issue of the LDS Messenger and Advocate (Oct. 1834), published in Kirtland, Ohio, Oliver Cowdery enumerated eight "principles," all of which had their parallel in section 20.

Other early lists that summarized the leading principles of Latter-day Saint beliefs prior to the Wentworth Letter include one prepared by Joseph Young for publication by John Hayward in The Religious Creeds and Statistics of Every Christian Denomination in the United States (Boston, 1836, pp. 139–40). In five paragraphs, he outlined the doctrines of (1) the Godhead and Atonement of Jesus Christ; (2) the first principles and ordinances of the gospel performed by apostolic authority as in the ancient Church of Christ; (3) the gathering of lost Israel and the restoration of spiritual gifts to her; (4) the Second Coming of Christ; and (5) the resurrection and judgment of all mankind.

Another list of eighteen "principles and doctrines" was included by Parley P. Pratt in the introduction to his Late Persecution of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (New York, 1840, pp. iii–xiii). For example, "The first principle of Theology as held by this Church, is Faith in God the eternal Father, and in his Son Jesus Christ, who verily was crucified for the sins of the world…and in the Holy Ghost who bears record of them" (pp. iii–iv). Many phrases in Pratt's list are similar to those in the Wentworth Letter.

Orson Pratt offers an expansive and eloquent "sketch of the faith and doctrine" of the Church in his Interesting Account of Several Remarkable Visions (Edinburgh, 1840, pp. 24–31). The order in which it presents its themes in nineteen paragraphs (many of which begin, "We believe that…") is nearly identical to that of the thirteen points of the Wentworth Letter. Orson Pratt's explanations include biblical references and personal testimony of the truth and divine origins of these teachings.

Orson Hyde published in German a History of the Church that included a chapter of sixteen articles (actually essays) on such topics as the Godhead, the use of scripture, faith, repentance, baptism, confirmation, Sacrament of bread and wine, confession of sins and Church discipline, children, revelations, lay priesthood, baptism for the dead, prayer, holidays, washing of the feet, and patriarchal blessings (A Cry from the Wilderness [Frankfurt, 1842]).

Even after the Wentworth Letter was published in March 1842, many other lists of LDS beliefs continued to appear for the next generation. In April 1849, James H. Flanigan included a list of fourteen statements in a pamphlet published in England, and this list was quoted and sometimes modified in various publications throughout the nineteenth century. For example, it was quoted in Charles MacKay's popular book The Mormons; or the Latter-day Saints (London, 1851, pp. 46–47). This list follows the Wentworth Letter almost verbatim, adding such points as "the Lord's supper" to Article 4; including "wisdom, charity, [and] brotherly love" among the gifts of the spirit in Article 7; and inserting a fourteenth article regarding the literal resurrection of the body. Other lists (usually composed by missionaries) were published in various parts of the world throughout this era.[41]


Response to claim: "Why did the Nauvoo House not stand forever and ever?"

The author(s) of Difficult Questions for Mormons make(s) the following claim:

Response to claim: "Why did the Nauvoo House not stand forever and ever? (Doc. & Cov. 124:56-60)."

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 was not a prophecy that the building would last forever.



Question: Did Joseph Smith issue a prophecy that the Nauvoo House would stand forever and ever?

This scripture is a command to build the Nauvoo House, not a prophecy that it would last forever

This scripture is not a prophecy that the Nauvoo House would stand "forever and ever." It is a command to build the Nauvoo house, and to permit Joseph and his family to "have place therein" "forever and ever." Leaders of the Church constantly encouraged members in Nauvoo to live up to this commandment. Due to a lack of funds, workmen, and materials, the Saints eventually focused on the command to build the Nauvoo Temple (see DC 124:55.) God may issue commands, but such commands are not always obeyed. And, God may alter commands if the free agent choices of enemies alter the situation, as the same section of the D&C could tell the critics, if they read the entirety (DC 124:49).


Response to claim: "How can a man who is not a descendant of Aaron hold the Aaronic Priesthood? (Numbers 16:40; Heb. 7:13,14)"

The author(s) of Difficult Questions for Mormons make(s) the following claim:

Response to claim: "How can a man who is not a descendant of Aaron hold the Aaronic Priesthood? (Numbers 16:40; Heb. 7:13,14)."

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 Aaronic Priesthood was not the only priesthood in Old Testament times which had the authority to perform priesthood ordinances such as sacrifice. The Melchizedek Priesthood had the authority to perform the same ordinances as those of the Aaronic Priesthood.



Question: If the priesthood during Old Testament times could only be held by the tribe of Aaron, how did Lehi's descendants, who were of the tribe of Joseph, hold the priesthood?

Both the Levitical or Aaronic priesthood and the higher Melchizedek priesthood were exercised in Old Testament times and the higher priesthood was used to offer sacrifice

The Book of Mormon states that Lehi is from the Tribe of Joseph. However, in 1 Nephi and 2 Nephi it talks about how Lehi's descendants performed sacrifices, ordained priests, and built a temple after the manner of Solomon's temple. In the Old Testament with the Law of Moses it talks about how the Tribe of Levi were the only ones were allowed to exercise the priesthood to perform sacrifices, become priests, and work in the temple. Since we know that Book of Mormon people were subject to the Law of Moses prior to the birth of Jesus Christ, how is it that Lehi and his family were able to exercise priesthood authority?

As pertaining to the problem of Nephites and Lamanites officiating in the priesthood (Mosiah 2:3), it seems clear that the authority by which sacrifices were offered was the Melchizedek and not the Levitical priesthood.[42] That there are two priesthoods is clear in Hebrews 5:1-10 and Hebrews 7:5-28. Both the Levitical or Aaronic priesthood and the higher Melchizedek priesthood were exercised in Old Testament times and the higher priesthood was used to offer sacrifice (Heb. 7:27). Five Old Testament prophets who were apparently not Levites are mentioned in connection with the offering of sacrifices:

  1. Joshua (Ephraimite) - Josh. 8:30-31; 24:30
  2. Samuel (Ephraimite) - 1 Sam. 1:1-2, 20; 2:18; 7:9-19; 11:14-15
  3. Elijah (Gad or Manassah) - 1 Kings 18:31-38; 17:1
  4. David (Judah) - 1 Chron. 16:2; Matt. 1:2-6
  5. Solomon (Judah) - 1 Kings 3:2-3; Matt. 1:2-6

The Cambridge Bible Dictionary affirms the fact that although Samuel was "not a priest he performed priestly functions and constantly offered sacrifice at various places" [43]Latter-day Saints believe that all prophets from Adam to Moses held the higher or Melchizedek priesthood [44] Until Moses, no other priesthood existed and all sacrifices offered prior to that time were done by the authority of the Melchizedek priesthood (Gen. 4:4; 8:20-21; 31:54; 46:1; Ex. 5:3, 8, 17). Since the Nephites held this priesthood, they also were empowered to offer sacrifices just as Old Testament prophets had.[45]

Jesus himself was not a Levite, and yet he was a priest

Jesus himself was not a Levite. So how could he be a priest? The New Testament takes this back to priests even before the time of Moses (before the rule that listed being a Levite as a requirement for becoming a priest), and we read in Hebrews 7:21 "... The Lord sware and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec." From an LDS perspective, we also see that the Aaronic Priesthood (the Levitical priesthood) could be bestowed by someone having authority to do so. And so we believe that we have the Aaronic Priesthood today in the Church. The distinction that we sometimes make is that the priesthood was never intended to be given just to the Levites. In Exodus 19:5-6, God speaks to Moses and tells him to tell Israel this:

Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.

God wanted Israel to be a nation of priests. But, the people are afraid to come to God - so in Exodus 20:18-19 -

And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off. And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us.

So Moses becomes an intermediary between the people and God, and after Moses speaks to the people, he goes back up into the mountain for 40 days to speak with God (and it is during this time that he is given instruction on how to build a temple, and gets the commandments, and so on). And Moses is gone so long, the people think he is dead, and so in Exodus 32:1 -

And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.

And this triggers the event with the golden calf - in which the tribe of Levi distinguishes themselves and this is why they are made priests. The point of all this is that there are plenty of ways in which to justify having a priesthood apart from being the one of the Levites.

When this suggestion is made (that there couldn't be priests) the idea is that the Lehite group would be required to only adhere to the Law of Moses and its stipulation about Levites. This assumption isn't likely to be accurate. The Book of Mormon deals with this directly. Nephi portrays their departure from Jerusalem as a second Exodus. Nephi describes how Lehi is chosen as a second Moses. Moses sees a burning bush. Lehi sees the fire on the rock. Both speak with God, and so on, and so Lehi becomes a prophet like Moses was, and he is then able to ordain priests (as Moses did), and this creates a priesthood class among the Nephites. And so, given all of these different sorts of issues, the idea of a priesthood only belonging to the Levites is one that isn't really a problem.


Response to claim: "Since Mormonism teaches that only God the Father had a physical body at the time Adam was created, why did God say, 'Let us make man in OUR image'?"

The author(s) of Difficult Questions for Mormons make(s) the following claim:

Response to claim: "Since Mormonism teaches that only God the Father had a physical body at the time Adam was created, why did God say, "Let us make man in OUR image"? Why didn't He say, "Let us make man in MY image?" (Gen. 1:26)."

FairMormon Response

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

The "body of the spirit" has the same appearance as the physical body which it inhabits.



Question: If only God the Father had a physical body at the time Adam was created, why did He say 'Let us make man in OUR image'?

The pre-mortal Christ told the Brother of Jared that the "body of the spirit" has the same appearance as the body of the flesh

The Book of Mormon teaches that the appearance of the spirit is the same as that of the body. Consider the vision in which the pre-incarnate Jesus Christ is talking to the brother of Jared:

Ether 3:15-16

15 And never have I showed myself unto man whom I have created, for never has man believed in me as thou hast. Seest thou that ye are created after mine own image? Yea, even all men were created in the beginning after mine own image.

16 Behold, this body, which ye now behold, is the body of my spirit; and man have I created after the body of my spirit; and even as I appear unto thee to be in the spirit will I appear unto my people in the flesh.

Therefore, the "body of the spirit" has the same appearance as the body of the flesh.


Response to claim: "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 Difficult Questions for Mormons make(s) the following claim:

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

Latter-day Saints believe that Jesus was born of a virgin. Brigham Young's statement expressed his personal belief that some sort of physical union was necessary between God the Father and Mary, however, 21st century Latter-day Saints know that conception can occur in other ways. Surely the God of all the universe is aware of these as well.



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.”[46]

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." [47]

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.) [48]

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. [49]

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. [50]

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. [51]


Response to claim: "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 Difficult Questions for Mormons make(s) the following claim:

Response to claim: "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? (1 Kings 5:13-18 and 2 Nephi 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: "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 Difficult Questions for Mormons make(s) the following claim:

Response to claim: "Why was Joseph Smith still preaching against polygamy in October 1843 after he got his revelation in July 1843 commanding the practice of polygamy? (Doc. & Cov. 132; and 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.

Question: Did Joseph Smith ever publicly attempt to teach the doctrine of plural marriage?

Joseph initiated the practice of polygamy and hid it from the general Church membership during his lifetime

It is true that Joseph did not always tell others about plural marriage. One critic of the Church claims, "Joseph Smith publicly lied about his practice of polygamy, and lied to his own wife (Emma) about the practice." [52]

Joseph made at least one attempt to teach the doctrine, but it was rejected

Joseph did, however, make an attempt to teach the doctrine to the Saints. When Joseph tried to teach the doctrine, it was rejected by many Saints, including Emma, his wife. Joseph then began to teach the doctrine privately to those who would obey. A contemporary journal describes the reaction to Joseph's attempt to teach this doctrine:

When the prophet “went to his dinner,” [Joseph Lee] Robinson wrote, “as it might be expected several of the first women of the church collected at the Prophet’s house with his wife [and] said thus to the prophet Joseph O mister Smith you have done it now it will never do it is all but Blassphemy you must take back what you have said to day is it is outrageous it would ruin us as a people.” So in the afternoon session Smith again took the stand, according to Robinson, and said “Brethren and Sisters I take back what we said this morning and leave it as though there had been nothing said.”[53]


Question: Why did Joseph keep the doctrine of plural marriage private?

The Saints would have suffered negative consequences

Keeping the doctrine private was also necessary because the enemies of the Church would have used it as another justification for their assault on the Saints. Orson Hyde looked back on the Nauvoo days and indicated what the consequences of disclosure would have been:

In olden times they might have passed through the same circumstances as some of the Latter-day Saints had to in Illinois. What would it have done for us, if they had known that many of us had more than one wife when we lived in Illinois? They would have broken us up, doubtless, worse than they did.[54]

It is thus important to realize that the public preaching of polygamy—or announcing it to the general Church membership, thereby informing the public by proxy—was simply not a feasible plan.


Response to claim: "Why do Mormons memorialize the fall by using fig leaf aprons in the secret temple ceremonies?"

The author(s) of Difficult Questions for Mormons make(s) the following claim:

Response to claim: "God rejected the fig leaf aprons which Adam and Eve made (Gen. 3:21). Why do Mormons memorialize the fall by using fig leaf aprons in the secret temple ceremonies?"

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 question has reference to LDS temple ceremonies. Members of FAIR, like all active Latter-day Saints, hold their temple covenants sacred, and will not discuss such matters in a public forum, especially before hostile critics. We can say, however, that members of the Church do not memorialize the Fall in the temple, or elsewhere. Latter-day Saints are aware, of course, of the Fall, since they must live in a fallen world, and contend with the fallen natures of themselves and others. The purpose of the gospel of Jesus Christ and its ordinances—especially the temple—is to allow members to overcome the fallen world and fallen man, not praise it.



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Question: If God rejected the fig leaf aprons worn by Adam and Eve, why do Mormons wear aprons representing this in the temple?

The Bible never says that God rejected the fig leaf aprons Adam and Eve wore

"There was no condemnation of the aprons Adam and Eve wore while in the Garden of Eden, only a chastisement and grave consequences for eating of the forbidden fruit. In actuality, the Lord demonstrated his agreement with the covering of their nakedness. That agreement along with the result of now having to live in a different world, with harsh conditions as compared to life in the garden, the Lord gave them something BETTER to clothe themselves with. “Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.” (Genesis 3:21)[55]


Response to claim: "How do you explain the fact that 2 Nephi 16:2 is copied from an older version of the KJV of the Bible in Isa 6:2?"

The author(s) of Difficult Questions for Mormons make(s) the following claim:

Response to claim: "How do you explain the fact that 2 Nephi 16:2 is copied from an older version of the KJV of the Bible in Isa 6:2? This is proven because this older KJV (the mistake is corrected in current versions) made a rare gramatical error by using the incorrect plural form of "seraphims" rather than "seraphim"."

FairMormon Response

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

Whatever the translation process entailed, it is apparent that the KJV of the bible was followed except for those passages where a substantive difference existed between the same passages recorded by the Nephite recorders (Isaiah chapters, Sermon on the Mount). Unless it substantively changed the point of the scripture, the divine, angelic, or human translators choose to use familiar language from the KJV of the bible. The "most correct book" claim is not one of translation perfection but rather of the doctrinal accuracy of the Book of Mormon.



Notes

  1. Wilford Woodruff, Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 9 vols., ed., Scott G. Kenny (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1985), 2:139. ISBN 0941214133. Quoted in 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), 4:461. Volume 4 link See also Joseph Smith, Jr., Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, selected by Joseph Fielding Smith, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1976), 194. off-site
  2. Royal Skousen, "Changes In the Book of Mormon," 2002 FAIR Conference proceedings.
  3. Daniel K. Judd and Allen W. Stoddard, "Adding and Taking Away 'Without a Cause' in Matthew 5:22," in How the New Testament Came to Be, ed. Kent P. Jackson and Frank F. Judd Jr. (Provo and Salt Lake City: Religious Studies Center and Deseret Book, 2006),159-160.
  4. John W. Welch, "View of the Hebrews: 'An Unparallel'," in Reexploring the Book of Mormon, edited by John W. Welch (Provo, Utah: FARMS, 1992), 83–87.
  5. I. Woodbridge Riley, The Founder of Mormonism (New York, 1902), 124–126.
  6. Joseph Smith, Jr., "From Priest's American Antiquities," (1 June 1842) Times and Seasons 3:813-815.
  7. See also Roy W. Doxey, "I Have A Question: What was the approximate weight of the gold plates from which the Book of Mormon was translated?," Ensign (December 1986), 64.
  8. Anonymous, "Of What Material Were the Plates?," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 10/1 (2001): 21–21. off-site wiki
  9. See Roy W. Doxey, "I Have A Question: What was the approximate weight of the gold plates from which the Book of Mormon was translated?," Ensign (December 1986), 64.
  10. Martin Harris interview, Iowa State Register, August 1870, as quoted in Milton V. Backman Jr., Eyewitness Accounts of the Restoration (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1986), 226.
  11. William Smith, William Smith on Mormonism (Lamoni, Iowa: Herald Steam, 1883), 12.
  12. William Smith interview with E. C. Briggs. Originally written by J. W. Peterson for Zions Ensign (Independence, Mo.); reprinted in Deseret Evening News, 20 January 1894, 11.
  13. William Smith interview, The Saints' Herald, 4 October 1884, 644.
  14. "Interview with Martin Harris," Tiffany's Monthly, May 1859, 169.
  15. "Interview with Martin Harris," Tiffany's Monthly, May 1859, 168.
  16. Emma Smith interview, published as "Last Testimony of Sister Emma," The Saints' Herald, 1 October 1879.
  17. I. B. Bell interview with H. S. Salisbury (grandson of Catherine Smith Salisbury), Historical Department Archives, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
  18. Joseph Smith, Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith [2007], 268.
  19. Günther Juncker, “Christ As Angel: The Reclamation Of A Primitive Title,” Trinity Journal 15:2 (Fall 1994):221–250.
  20. Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols., (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954–56), 148.
  21. Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual: Section 89 The Word of Wisdom off-site
  22. Russell H. Ball, "An Hypothesis concerning the Three Days of Darkness among the Nephites," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 2/1 (1993): 107–123. wiki
  23. Russell H. Ball, "An Hypothesis concerning the Three Days of Darkness among the Nephites," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 2/1 (1993): 107–123. wiki (italics in original); citing James Baer, "The Third Nephi Disaster: A Geological View," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 19 no. 1 (Spring 1986), 129–132.
  24. "Book of Mormon Geophysics," mormonmatters.org (28 August 2010) off-site
  25. Benjamin R. Jordan, "Volcanic Destruction in the Book of Mormon: Possible Evidence from Ice Cores," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 12/1 (2003): 78–87. off-site wiki
  26. Van Hale, "Mormons And Moonmen," Sunstone 7 no. (Issue #5) (September/October 1982), 13–14. off-site
  27. Hyrum Smith, "Concerning the plurality of gods & worlds," 27 April 1843; cited in Eugene England (editor), "George Laub's Nauvoo Journal," Brigham Young University Studies 18 no. 2 (Winter 1978), 177. off-site
  28. Brigham Young, "The Gospel—The One-Man Power," (24 July 1870) Journal of Discourses 13:271-271.
  29. Patriarchal Blessings Books 9:294–295.
  30. Young Woman's Journal (1892) 3: 263.
  31. Patrick Moore, New Guide to the Moon (W.W. Norton & Company, New York: 1976), cited by Van Hale, "Mormons And Moonmen," Sunstone 7 no. (Issue #5) (September/October 1982), 15. off-site
  32. Van Hale, "Mormons And Moonmen," 15.
  33. Holmes, 464.
  34. Moore, New Guide to the Moon 130–131; cited by Van Hale, "Mormons And Moonmen," 16.
  35. Painesville Telegraph (11 September 1835).
  36. New York Sun 16 September 1835; cited by Alex Boese, "The Great Moon Hoax," museumofhoaxes.com off-site
  37. Richard Holmes, The Age of Wonder (London: Harper Press, 2008), 199.
  38. Holmes, 465, (italics in original).
  39. Deseret News 6 (1856): 134d.
  40. ‘Quebec,’ “The Moon”, Contributor 1/9 (June 1880): 193-5, from page 195
  41. David J. Whittaker, "Articles of Faith," in Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 4 vols., edited by Daniel H. Ludlow, (New York, Macmillan Publishing, 1992), 1:68–69.
  42. (Alma 4:16-20; Alma 13:1-14; see also Joseph Fielding Smith, Answers to Gospel Questions, 1:124-126; Bruce R. McConkie, The Promised Messiah, pp. 410-412).
  43. Cambridge Bible Dictionary, "Samuel," p. 90; see also LDS Bible Dictionary, p. 599-600, 768).
  44. Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 180-181.
  45. See also A Companion to Your Study of the Book of Mormon, pp. 132-134; March 1994 Ensign, p. 54.
  46. 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.
  47. 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..
  48. Ezra Taft Benson, "Joy in Christ," Ensign (March 1986), 3–4. (emphasis added) off-site
  49. Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2nd edition, (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966), 742. GL direct link
  50. Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2nd edition, (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966), 822. GL direct link
  51. Harold B. Lee, Teachings of Harold B. Lee (Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft, 1996), 14. GospeLink (requires subscrip.)
  52. John Dehlin, "Questions and Answers," Mormon Stories Podcast (25 June 2014).
  53. Richard S. Van Wagoner, Mormon Polygamy: A History (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1986),48; citing Robinson, Journal, 23–24.
  54. Orson Hyde, "The Marriage Relations," (6 October 1854) Journal of Discourses 2:75-75.
  55. Michael Fordham, "Did the Lord Reject the Fig Leaf Apron?," FairMormon.org off-site