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Criticism of Mormonism/Books/The Changing World of Mormonism/Chapter 1
Response to claims made in "Chapter 1: A Marvelous Work?"
A FairMormon Analysis of: Criticism of Mormonism/Books, a work by author: Jerald and Sandra Tanner
|The Changing World of Mormonism|
Response to claims made in The Changing World of Mormonism, "Chapter 1: A Marvelous Work?"
Jump to Subtopic:
- Response to claim: 21 - Joseph Smith stated that the final battle in the Book of Mormon was fought in New York
- Response to claim: 21 - Brigham Young stated that there was a cave in the Hill Cumorah that was full of records
- Response to claim: 22 - Joseph Smith found a seer stone while digging a well
- Response to claim: 22 - LeGrand Richards claimed that Mormons do not have to rely on the Bible
- Response to claim: 22 - Mormon leaders taught that the Garden of Eden was located in Jackson County
- Response to claim: 22 - A remnant of Adam's altar remained in Missouri
- Response to claim: 23 - Joseph Smith described the inhabitants of the moon
- Response to claim: 25 - Brigham Young taught that the moon and sun were inhabited
- Response to claim: 27 - Orson Pratt preached against the Catholic Church
- Response to claim: 27 - John Taylor taught that "we are the saviors of the world"
- Response to claim: 27 - Joseph Fielding Smith taught that Mormons are "the best people in the world"
- Response to claim: 27 - Brigham Young claimed that every person that does not confess that Joseph Smith was a prophet is "anti-Christ"
- Response to claim: 27 - Joseph Fielding Smith taught that there is no salvation without accepting Joseph Smith
Response to claim: 21 - Joseph Smith stated that the final battle in the Book of Mormon was fought in New York
Joseph Smith stated that the final battle in the Book of Mormon was fought in New York.
(Author's sources: Mormon Doctrine, p. 175.)
Joseph, and everyone else, assumed that the burial location of the plates was the Hill Cumorah mentioned in the Book of Mormon.
Question: Where is the Hill Cumorah?
Joseph Smith never used the name "Cumorah" in his own writings when referring to the gold plates' resting place
It is not clear exactly when the New York hill from which Joseph Smith retrieved the gold plates became associated with the name "Cumorah." Joseph Smith never used the name in his own writings when referring to the plates' resting place. The only use of it from his pen seems to be DC 128:20, which uses the phrase "Glad tidings from Cumorah!" In 1830, Oliver Cowdery referred to the records' location as "Cumorah," while preaching to the Delaware Indians, and by 1835 the term seems to have been in common use among Church members.
Early Church leaders believed that the Book of Mormon took place on the entire North and South American continents
However, there is evidence that Joseph Smith and other Church leaders believed that the events of the Book of Mormon spanned the North and South American continents, that the isthmus of Panama was the "narrow neck" of land, and that the hill in New York was the "Cumorah" referred to in the Book of Mormon. Joseph wrote a letter to Emma during Zion's Camp in which he referred to "wandering over the plains of the Nephites."  Oliver Cowdery wrote in one of his letters to W.W. Phelps published in the Messenger and Advocate:
A history of the inhabitants who peopled this continent, previous to its being discovered to Europeans by Columbus, must be interesting to every man; and as it would develope the important fact, that the present race were descendants of Abraham....
Note that "this continent" refers to both North and South America; Columbus never set foot in the present day United States; he was confined to the the Caribbean, South America and Central America. (Click here for maps of Columbus' voyages.)
David Whitmer is not told that the hill from which Joseph received the record was called Cumorah, but this usage seems to have nevertheless become common within the Church
One reference comes from a later interview with David Whitmer, who recounted how Oliver Cowdery had written to him, asking for help to transport Joseph and Oliver from Harmony to the Peter Whitmer home in Fayette:
When I was returning to Fayette, with Joseph and Oliver, all of us riding in the wagon, Oliver and I on an old-fashioned, wooden, spring seat and Joseph behind us; while traveling along in a clear open place, a very pleasant, nice-looking old man suddenly appeared by the side of our wagon and saluted us with, "Good morning, it is very warm," at the same time wiping his face or forehead with his hand. We returned the salutation, and, by a sign from Joseph, I invited him to ride if he was going our way. But he said very pleasantly, "No, I am going to Cumorah." This name was something new to me, I did not know what Cumorah meant. We all gazed at him and at each other, and as I looked around inquiringly of Joseph, the old man instantly disappeared, so that I did not see him again.
Interestingly, Whitmer is not told that the hill from which Joseph received the record was called Cumorah, but this usage seems to have nevertheless become common within the Church. Given that Whitmer's reminiscence is late, and unsubstantiated by other contemporaneous accounts, some historians question its accuracy, especially in a detail such as the name of the Hill, which later became common Church usage.
Despite this early "identification" of the Hill Cumorah of the Book of Mormon with the hill in New York, readers who studied the text closely would later conclude that they could not be the same.
In 1937–1939 Washburn and Washburn argued that the Nephite/Jaredite final battles at the Hill Cumorah were near the narrow neck of land, and thus unlikely to be in New York. Thomas Ferguson was of the same view in 1947,and Sidney Sperry came down on the side of a Middle America location in a 1964 BYU religion class, though he had previously endorsed a New York location.
Since the 1950s, opinion among Book of Mormon scholars has increasingly trended toward the realization that the Nephite Cumorah and the Hill in New York cannot be the same
Since the 1950s, opinion among Book of Mormon scholars has increasingly trended toward the realization that the Nephite Cumorah and the Hill in New York cannot be the same. Elder Dallin H. Oaks recalled his own experience at BYU:
Here [at BYU] I was introduced to the idea that the Book of Mormon is not a history of all of the people who have lived on the continents of North and South America in all ages of the earth. Up to that time, I had assumed that it was. If that were the claim of the Book of Mormon, any piece of historical, archaeological, or linguistic evidence to the contrary would weigh in against the Book of Mormon, and those who rely exclusively on scholarship would have a promising position to argue.
In contrast, if the Book of Mormon only purports to be an account of a few peoples who inhabited a portion of the Americas during a few millennia in the past, the burden of argument changes drastically. It is no longer a question of all versus none; it is a question of some versus none. In other words, in the circumstance I describe, the opponents of historicity must prove that the Book of Mormon has no historical validity for any peoples who lived in the Americas in a particular time frame, a notoriously difficult exercise.
There are 13 geographical conditions required for the Book of Mormon Hill Cumorah
In 1981, Palmer identified 13 geographical conditions required for the Book of Mormon Hill Ramah/Cumorah:
- near eastern seacoast
- near narrow neck of land
- on a coastal plain and near other mountains and valleys
- one day's journey south of a large body of water
- an area of many rivers and waters
- presence of fountains
- water gives military advantage
- an escape route southward
- hill large enough to view hundreds of thousands of bodies
- hill must be a significant landmark
- hill must be free standing so people can camp around it
- in temperate climate with no cold or snow
- in a volcanic zone susceptible to earthquakes
Clearly, the placement of Cumorah will greatly affect the map which results. Issues of distance, as discussed above, play a role here as well.
Some authors who have other views on the internal geography have directly disputed the validity of some of David Palmer's criteria for the ancient Cumorah. The question of distance plays an important role in the skeptical views towards these criteria. If it is demonstrated that there is a greater distance between the narrow neck of land and Cumorah, for example, and there is a "northern hinterland" to the Nephite domain, then the questions of climate and so forth in these criteria are not going to apply necessarily to the hill Cumorah. Furthermore, the issues of height have been called into question as well.
Summary: Church leaders have expressed a variety of opinions over the years regarding the location of the Hill Cumorah
Jump to Subtopic:
- Marion G. Romney (1975): "As the conflict intensified, all the people who had not been slain—men...gathered about that hill Cumorah"
- Harold B. Lee (8 Jul 1966): "if the Lord wanted us to know where it was, or where Zarahemla was, he’d have given us latitude and longitude, don’t you think?"
- Paul R. Cheesman (Nov 1968): "There are those who believe that there are two Hill Cumorahs...Advocates of this theory establish their analysis primarily from the internal evidences of the Book of Mormon"
- Question: Did the First Presidency identify the New York "Hill Cumorah" as the site of the Nephite final battles?
- Question: Did Joseph Fielding Smith reject the theory that the final battlefield of the Book of Mormon took place in Mesoamerica rather than New York?
Nineteenth Century: Statements on Book of Mormon geography made during Joseph Smith's lifetime: 1829-1840
Jump to Subtopic:
- Observer and Telegraph (Nov 1830): "the Aborigines of America; who, as they affirm, are a part of the tribe of Manasseh, and whose ancestors landed on the coast of Chile"
- W. W. Phelps: Ruins in Central America "good testimony in favor of the Book of Mormon"
- American Revivalist (2 Feb 1833): "The Book of Mormon is a record of the forefathers of our western tribes of Indians"
- Evening and the Morning Star (March 1833): "The continent of America is a choice land above all others"
- Evening and the Morning Star (Jun 1833): "NO people that have lived on this continent, since the flood, understood many of the arts and sciences, better that the Jaredites and Nephites"
- Evening and the Morning Star (Jun 1833): "Lehi was guided by the matchless power of God to this continent"
- Question: Does the story of Zelph have implications for Book of Mormon geography?
- Joseph Smith (4 Jun 1834): "wandering over the plains of the Nephites"
- Eli Gilbert (24 Sep 1834): "was not the book of Mormon also written by men who were divinely inspired by the Holy Spirit, on the continent of America?"
- W.W. Phelps (Feb 1835): "The first one is where you sat day after day and wrote the history of the second race that inhabited this continent"
- Oliver Cowdery (Jul 1835): "A history of the inhabitants who peopled this continent, previous to its being discovered to Europeans by Columbus"
- W.W. Phelps (Oct 1835): "the Indians, whose history and doings, upon this western continent, it unfolds as plainly"
- Joseph Smith (Nov 1835): "he said the indians were the literal descendants of Abraham"
- W.W. Phelps (Jan 1836): "The book of Mormon has made known who Israel is, upon this continent"
- William Smith (Jan 1837): "a remnant of the branches or seed of Joseph are represented as crossing the sea, and settling this continent of North and South America"
- Times and Seasons (Mar 1840): "The ancient events of America now stand revealed in the broad light of history, as far back, at least, as the first peopling of the continent after the flood"
- Joseph Smith (19 Jul 1840): "speaking of the Land of Zion, It consists of all North & South America"
- Parley P. Pratt (Aug 1840): "excavating in the neighbourhood of Bahia, in Brazil...bearing a strong architectural resemblance to the ruins existing in the northern parts of Norway, in Iceland, and in Greenland"
- Millennial Star (Sep 1840): "We learn these gentlemen will continue their journey, and after their visit to Palenque, will proceed to Mexico"
- Orson Pratt (1840): "they were marvellously brought across the great deep to the shores of North America"
Response to claim: 21 - Brigham Young stated that there was a cave in the Hill Cumorah that was full of records
Bruce R. McConkie said that Brigham Young stated that there was a cave in the Hill Cumorah that was full of records.
(Author's sources: Mormon Doctrine, p. 454.)
This is what Brigham reported.
Question: Is there a cave in the Hill Cumorah containing the Nephite records?
On June 17, 1877, Brigham Young related the following at a conference:
I believe I will take the liberty to tell you of another circumstance that will be as marvelous as anything can be. This is an incident in the life of Oliver Cowdery, but he did not take the liberty of telling such things in meeting as I take. I tell these things to you, and I have a motive for doing so. I want to carry them to the ears of my brethren and sisters, and to the children also, that they may grow to an understanding of some things that seem to be entirely hidden from the human family. Oliver Cowdery went with the Prophet Joseph when he deposited these plates. Joseph did not translate all of the plates; there was a portion of them sealed, which you can learn from the Book of Doctrine and Covenants. When Joseph got the plates, the angel instructed him to carry them back to the hill Cumorah, which he did. Oliver says that when Joseph and Oliver went there, the hill opened, and they walked into a cave, in which there was a large and spacious room. He says he did not think, at the time, whether they had the light of the sun or artificial light; but that it was just as light as day. They laid the plates on a table; it was a large table that stood in the room. Under this table there was a pile of plates as much as two feet high, and there were altogether in this room more plates than probably many wagon loads; they were piled up in the corners and along the walls. The first time they went there the sword of Laban hung upon the wall; but when they went again it had been taken down and laid upon the table across the gold plates; it was unsheathed, and on it was written these words: "This sword will never be sheathed again until the kingdoms of this world become the kingdom of our God and his Christ." 
There are at least ten second hand accounts describing the story of the cave in Cumorah, however, Joseph Smith himself did not record the incident.  As mentioned previously, the Hill Cumorah located in New York state is a drumlin: this means it is a pile of gravel scraped together by an ancient glacier. The geologic unlikelihood of a cave existing within the hill such as the one described suggests that the experience related by the various witnesses was most likely a vision, or a divine transportation to another locale (as with Nephi's experience in 1 Nephi 11:1). John Tvedtnes supports this view:
The story of the cave full of plates inside the Hill Cumorah in New York is often given as evidence that it is, indeed, the hill where Mormon hid the plates. Yorgason quotes one version of the story from Brigham Young and alludes to six others collected by Paul T. Smith. Unfortunately, none of the accounts is firsthand. The New York Hill Cumorah is a moraine laid down anciently by a glacier in motion. It is comprised of gravel and earth. Geologically, it is impossible for the hill to have a cave, and all those who have gone in search of the cave have come back empty-handed. If, therefore, the story attributed to Oliver Cowdery (by others) is true, then the visits to the cave perhaps represent visions, perhaps of some far distant hill, not physical events.
Given that the angel Moroni had retrieved the plates from Joseph several times previously, it is not unreasonable to assume that he was capable of transporting them to a different location than the hill in New York. As Tvedtnes asks, "If they could truly be moved about, why not from Mexico, for example?"
Response to claim: 22 - Joseph Smith found a seer stone while digging a well
Joseph Smith found a seer stone while digging a well.
(Author's sources: B.H. Roberts, Comprehensive History of the Church, vol.1, p.129.)
One of Joseph's seer stones was located while digging a well. This has been documented in the official Church magazine the Ensign.
Question: How did Joseph use his seer stones as a youth?
Joseph as the village seer: the use of the seer stone prior to the Restoration
Brant Gardner clarifies the role that Joseph and his stone played within the community of Palmyra,
Young Joseph Smith was a member of a specialized sub-community with ties to these very old and very respected practices, though by the early 1800s they were respected only by a marginalized segment of society. He exhibited a talent parallel to others in similar communities. Even in Palmyra he was not unique. In D. Michael Quinn's words: "Until the Book of Mormon thrust young Smith into prominence, Palmyra's most notable seer was Sally Chase, who used a greenish-colored stone. William Stafford also had a seer stone, and Joshua Stafford had a 'peepstone which looked like white marble and had a hole through the center.'"  Richard Bushman adds Chauncy Hart, and an unnamed man in Susquehanna County, both of whom had stones with which they found lost objects.  
During his tenure as a "village seer," Joseph acquired several seer stones. Joseph first used a neighbor's seer stone (probably that belonging to Palmyra seer Sally Chase, on the balance of historical evidence, though there are other possibilities) to discover the location of a brown, baby's foot-shaped stone. The vision of this stone likely occurred in about 1819–1820, and he obtained his first seer stone in about 1821–1822.
The second seer stone was reportedly found while digging a well on the property of William Chase in 1822
Joseph then used this first stone to find a second stone (a white one). The second seer stone was reportedly found on the property of William Chase in 1822 as Chase described it:
In the year 1822, I was engaged in digging a well. I employed Alvin and Joseph Smith to assist me.... After digging about twenty feet below the surface of the earth, we discovered a singularly appearing stone, which excited my curiosity. I brought it to the top of the well, and as we were examining it, Joseph put it into his hat, and then his face into the top of his hat.... The next morning he came to me, and wished to obtain the stone, alleging that he could see in it; but I told him I did not wish to part with it on account of its being a curiosity, but I would lend it.
Response to claim: 22 - LeGrand Richards claimed that Mormons do not have to rely on the Bible
LeGrand Richards claimed that Mormons do not have to rely on the Bible.
(Author's sources: A Marvelous Work and a Wonder, p. 41.)
Page 41 of this work contains a reprint of the Joseph Smith story (i.e., JS-H 1:26-28). The word "bible" is used only once in the entire chapter (p. 43), where Richards cites JS-H 1:36. It is true, however, that Joseph Smith did not gain all his knowledge about God from the Bible, but through direct revelation.
Response to claim: 22 - Mormon leaders taught that the Garden of Eden was located in Jackson County
Mormon leaders taught that the Garden of Eden was located in Jackson County.
(Author's sources: Mormon Doctrine, p. 20.)
This is correct.
Question: Is it true that Mormons believe the original Garden of Eden was located in Missouri?
There is substantial circumstantial evidence that Joseph Smith taught this
Although we have no contemporaneous record of Joseph Smith teaching explicitly that the Garden of Eden was in Missouri, that reading is consistent with LDS scripture, and there is substantial later testimony from Joseph's associates that he did teach such an idea.
Most Latter-day Saints are aware of this, though it is a relatively minor point that plays little role in LDS theology. (By contrast, the idea that the New Jerusalem—Zion—will be built in the Americas looms much larger in LDS consciousness.)
This idea perhaps strikes most non-members as odd, but not simply because the Saints have an opinion about the Garden's location—as we have seen, religions of all stripes have had a wide variety of views on the subject. What likely strikes outside American observers as strange is the idea that the Garden is local—the LDS view does not place the Garden in a never-never land, buried in distant time and far-away space. Rather, the LDS Garden is local and somewhat immediate.
Upon reflection, though, the thoughtful observer will realize that this is simply one more manifestation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' uniqueness: rather than believing only in dead prophets, from long ago, in distant lands, in old records, the Church also embraces modern revelation, living prophets, and an on-going divine involvement with God's people. The gospel restored by Joseph Smith does not merely sacralize the past, but the present and future as well—and, it sacralizes both lofty matters and more earthly concerns like farms, hills, and geography.
It is this intrusion of the sacred into the mundane that surprises most observers—the issue of the Garden is merely one more example of a broader phenomenon.
A common mistake is taking an obscure teaching that is peripheral to the Church’s purpose and placing it at the very center
As the official LDS church website points out, "The doctrinal tenets of any religion are best understood within a broad context and thoughtful analysis is required to understand them. ... Some doctrines are more important than others and might be considered core doctrines. ... A common mistake is taking an obscure teaching that is peripheral to the Church’s purpose and placing it at the very center. For example, the precise location of the Garden of Eden is far less important than doctrine about Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice."
LDS concepts and perspectives
It is important to first distinguish the "Garden of Eden" (the paradisiacal location where Adam and Eve dwelt before the Fall) from Adam-ondi-Ahman. Adam-ondi-Ahman was a location in which Adam and Eve settled after their expulsion from the Garden.
Response to claim: 22 - A remnant of Adam's altar remained in Missouri
A remnant of Adam's altar remained in Missouri.
(Author's sources: Mormon Doctrine, p. 21.)
This is correct.
Question: What is Adam-ondi-Ahman?
According to revelation, Adam held a meeting of his faithful posterity in a valley designated "Adam-ondhi-Ahman"
Prior to his death, the repentant Adam held a meeting of his faithful posterity in a valley designated "Adam-ondhi-Ahman:"
53 Three years previous to the death of Adam, he called Seth, Enos, Cainan, Mahalaleel, Jared, Enoch, and Methuselah, who were all high priests, with the residue of his posterity who were righteous, into the valley of Adam-ondi-Ahman, and there bestowed upon them his last blessing.
54 And the Lord appeared unto them, and they rose up and blessed Adam, and called him Michael, the prince, the archangel.
55 And the Lord administered comfort unto Adam, and said unto him: I have set thee to be at the head; a multitude of nations shall come of thee, and thou art a prince over them forever.
56 And Adam stood up in the midst of the congregation; and, notwithstanding he was bowed down with age, being full of the Holy Ghost, predicted whatsoever should befall his posterity unto the latest generation. (DC 107:53)
LDS scripture further notes:
Spring Hill is named by the Lord Adam-ondi-Ahman, because, said he, it is the place where Adam shall come to visit his people, or the Ancient of Days shall sit, as spoken of by Daniel the prophet.(DC 116:1)
Since Spring Hill was named by the Lord as the place where Adam will come to visit his people, it has generally been presumed to be the Adam-ondi-Ahman of Adam's mortal meeting with his posterity
It is perhaps significant the Lord named this site because of a future event—the pre-millennial assembly of Adam and his faithful descendants prior to the second coming of Christ. It has generally been presumed that "Spring Hill," Missouri is thus the Adam-ondi-Ahman of Adam's mortal meeting with his posterity (D&C 107, above) and the pre-millennial visit (D&C 116), which is certainly possible.
An alternate interpretation would be the Lord has given the Adam-ondi-Ahman name to a second site (i.e., at Spring Hill, Missouri) in memorial of the first great meeting of the whole righteous human race. That first meeting, at which Adam presided, would then be a foreshadowing of the greater meeting of all the righteous prior to Christ's triumphant return in glory. This reading might better explain why D&C 116 bothers to explain why the Lord is giving the name to the site. If the site was already called Adam-ondi-Ahman, perhaps there would be little need for the Lord to renew its name. One could see this as analogous to the site "Jerusalem." There is, in LDS doctrine, to be a "New Jerusalem" built on the American continent in the last days. Yet, this does not mean the "New Jerusalem" site is the same as the Jerusalem of David and Jesus in the Old World, or that the old Jerusalem has ceased to exist.
On the other hand, Doctrine and Covenants 117 also seems to associate the Missouri Adam-ondi-Ahman with Adam's dwelling place in mortality:
7 Therefore, will I not make solitary places to bud and to blossom, and to bring forth in abundance? saith the Lord.
8 Is there not room enough on the mountains of Adam-ondi-Ahman, and on the plains of Olaha Shinehah, or the land where Adam dwelt, that you should covet that which is but the drop, and neglect the more weighty matters?
9 Therefore, come up hither unto the land of my people, even Zion. (DC 117:7-9)
The association of Adam-ondi-Ahman with the "land where Adam dwelt," and Adam's presence at Adam-Ondi-Ahman prior to his death have led most Latter-day Saints to conclude they are one and the same. (However, this verse raises more questions than it answers—there are no mountains of note in Missouri. So, was the geography more expansive than Joseph or the early saints presumed?)
Because Adam left the Garden of Eden, and (by this reading) dwelt somewhere in or near Missouri, many members have concluded the Garden of Eden must likewise be near by
As President John Taylor wrote:
Itt was stated by the Prophet Joseph Smith, in our hearing while standing on an elevated piece of ground or plateau near Adam-ondi-Ahman (Davis Co., Missouri,), where there were a number of rocks piled together, that the valley before us was the valley of Adam-ondi-Ahman; or in other words, the valley where God talked with Adam, and where he gathered his righteous posterity, as recorded in the above revelation, and that this pile of stones was an altar built by him when he offered up sacrifices, as we understand, on that occasion.
Response to claim: 23 - Joseph Smith described the inhabitants of the moon
Joseph Smith described the inhabitants of the moon.
(Author's sources: Journal of Oliver B. Huntington)
It is possible the Joseph said this, but the only account of it is a very late, third-hand account. There is no record of Joseph actually teaching this. Critics of the Church like to use this quote as evidence that Joseph was not a prophet.
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.  Hyrum Smith  and Brigham Young  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." 
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. 
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.'" 
Other scientists announced that they had discovered "a lunar city with a collection of gigantic ramparts extending 23 miles in either direction." 
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. 
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. 
These reports were widely believed and caused a minor sensation. They were carried in the Painsville Telegraph, adjacent to Mormon Kirtland.  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. 
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'". 
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...." 
Church publications did not shy from embracing later scientific findings on the matter:
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….”
- “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."
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: 25 - Brigham Young taught that the moon and sun were inhabited
Brigham Young taught that the moon and sun were inhabited.
(Author's sources: Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 13:271.)
Some in the 19th century believed that this was true.
The quote and its use by the critic(s):
|List||Actual quote||Critical use|
|Who can tell us of the inhabitants of this little planet that shines of an evening, called the moon? When we view its face we may see what is termed "the man in the moon," and what some philosophers declare are the shadows of mountains. But these sayings are very vague, and amount to nothing; and when you inquire about the inhabitants of that sphere you find that the most learned are as ignorant in regard to them as the most ignorant of their fellows. So it is with regard to the inhabitants of the sun. Do you think it is inhabited? I rather think it is. Do you think there is any life there? No question of it; it was not made in vain. It was made to give light to those who dwell upon it, and to other planets; and so will this earth when it is celestialized.
|Who can tell us of the inhabitants of this little planet that shines of an evening, called the moon?... when you inquire about the inhabitants of that sphere you find that the most learned are as ignorant in regard to them as the ignorant of their fellows. So it is in regard to the inhabitants of the sun. Do you think it is inhabited? I rather think it is. Do you think there is any life there? No question of it; it was not made in vain.|
- See Quote mining—Journal of Discourses 13:271 to see how this quote was mined.
Response to claim: 27 - Orson Pratt preached against the Catholic Church
Orson Pratt preached against the Catholic Church
(Author's sources: Pamphlets by Orson Pratt, p. 112)
This was Pratt's own opinion.
Question: Do Latter-day Saints believe that the scriptural terms "church of the devil," the "great and abominable church," and the "whore of all the earth" refer to a specific religion?
According to the Book of Mormon, the "great and abominable church" and "whore of all the earth" refers to any organization that opposes the true Church of Jesus Christ
The Church does not teach or endorse the idea that these terms refer to any specific religion or organization. It is clear that in cases where past church authorities have modified this definition through speculation, that the First Presidency has firmly declared those speculations to be in error.
The criticism is based upon references in the Book of Mormon to the "church of the devil," which is referred to as the "whore of all the earth." For example:
And he said unto me: Behold there are save two churches only; the one is the church of the Lamb of God, and the other is the church of the devil; wherefore, whoso belongeth not to the church of the Lamb of God belongeth to that great church, which is the mother of abominations; and she is the whore of all the earth. (1 Nephi 14:10)
George Q. Cannon publicly associated the "whore of all the earth" with those that persecuted the Church
Although the scriptures do not associate this "church" with a specific organization or religion, several early 19th century church leaders stated their opinions regarding who they considered the "whore of all the earth." For example, George Q. Cannon publicly associated the "whore of all the earth" with those that persecuted the Church:
And to-day, those who are inciting mobs against this people; those who go to Congress, and incite persecutions against us; those who fulminate threats and frame petitions; those who meet together in conventions; those who gather together in conferences, are those who belong to this "mother of abominations," this "whore of all the earth," and it is through the influence of that accursed whore, that they gather together and marshal their forces in every land against the Latter-day Saints, the Church of the living God.
Heber C. Kimball associated the "whore of all the earth" with the national government
Heber C. Kimball associated the "whore of all the earth" with the national government that failed to help the Saints during their times of persecution:
It is very easy to be seen that the nation that has oppressed us is going down. The Lord revealed to Joseph Smith something about the judgments that await the inhabitants of the earth, and he said in the revelations that the judgments should commence at the house of God. I will read to you parts of the revelations which speak of these things....and that great and abominable church, which is the whore of all the earth, shall be cast down by devouring fire, according as it is spoken by the mouth of Ezekiel the Prophet....
Orson Pratt claimed that it was the founder of the Catholic Church in a publication that was later repudiated by the Church
Orson Pratt, in his 1853-1854 periodical The Seer, claimed that the founder of the Roman Catholic Church was “the Devil, through the medium of Apostates, who subverted the whole order of God” and that they derived their “authority from the Devil....” The Seer, however, never achieved sufficient circulation to propagate this idea through the general Church membership. In fact, The Seer was disowned by the First Presidency in 1865 for containing "doctrines which we cannot sanction."
Bruce R. McConkie's first edition of Mormon Doctrine associated it with the Catholic Church, before that edition was refuted by the First Presidency
Bruce R. McConkie is credited with promoting the idea within the modern church that the "great and abominable church" was in fact the Roman Catholic Church. The first edition of McConkie's Mormon Doctrine, a book which contained sufficient errors that the First Presidency declared that the book was "not approved as an authoritative book" and that it should not be re-published, contained this rather direct statement:
It is also to the Book of Mormon to which we turn for the plainest description of the Catholic Church as the great and abominable church. Nephi saw this ‘church which is the most abominable above all other churches’ in vision. He ‘saw the devil that he was the foundation of it’ and also the murders, wealth, harlotry, persecutions, and evil desires that historically have been a part of this satanic organization.
The offending language was removed in the second edition of Mormon Doctrine and replaced with language more consistent with the Book of Mormon
When the first edition of Mormon Doctrine went into circulation, the idea that the "great and abominable church" was the Catholic Church became embedded in popular belief, despite the fact that this idea was never sanctioned or preached over the pulpit. A second edition of Mormon Doctrine was eventually released with the offending language regarding the Roman Catholic Church removed. In the second edition, McConkie states:
The titles church of the devil and great and abominable church are used to identify all churches or organizations of whatever name or nature — whether political, philosophical, educational, economic social, fraternal, civic, or religious — which are designed to take men on a course that leads away from God and his laws and thus from salvation in the kingdom of God.
This statement more closely aligns with what the scriptures themselves say, without any additional interpretation. Modern church leaders have stayed close to the definition in the Book of Mormon, by identifying the "great and abominable" church as any organization the leads people away from the Church of Jesus Christ.
Response to claim: 27 - John Taylor taught that "we are the saviors of the world"
John Taylor taught that "we are the saviors of the world."
While the critical usage focuses on apparently arrogant claims by John Taylor, when taken in context the argument Taylor is making is that we should rejoice and be filled with gratitude. The critical usage misrepresents Taylor's intent by omitting the consequent of his argument in order to imply that his speech was one of self-congratulatory aggrandizement rather than the grateful rejoicing present in the actual speech.
The quote and its use by the critic(s):
|List||Actual quote||Critical use|
|...thus we are the only people that understand anything about the present position or the cause of the organization of the world and of man, and that understand anything correctly about a preparation for a future state; that we are the only people that know how to save our progenitors, how to save ourselves, and how to save our posterity in the celestial kingdom of God; that we are the people that God has chosen by whom to establish his kingdom and introduce correct principles into the world; and that we in fact are the saviours of the world, if they ever are saved;—when we reflect upon these things, there is something connected with them that is calculated to make our hearts swell with gratitude and thrill with joy; and when we feel the consoling influence of the Spirit of the Most High God resting upon us and round about us, and the visions and glories of the future that we are destined to enjoy are open to our minds, if we are faithful, and the great events that are about to transpire in the last days are manifested to our minds, there is something in them that is calculated to cause us to sing, Hosanna!—hosanna to the Lord God of Hosts!
|...we are the only people that know how to save our progenitors, how to save ourselves, and how to save our posterity in the celestial kingdom of God;...we in fact are the saviours of the world...|
- See Quote mining—Journal of Discourses 6:163 to see how this quote was mined.
Response to claim: 27 - Joseph Fielding Smith taught that Mormons are "the best people in the world"
Joseph Fielding Smith taught that Mormons are "the best people in the world."
Anxious to exclude members of the Church from Christianity and wanting to make them appear arrogant, the authors omit the reason for which Joseph Fielding Smith praised the Saints—because they accepted and lived the gospel of Christ.
The quote and its use by the critic(s):
|List||Actual quote||Critical use|
|We are, notwithstanding our weaknesses, the best people in the world. I do not say this boastingly, for I believe that this truth is evident to all who are willing to observe for themselves. We are morally clean, in every way equal, and in many ways superior to any other people. The reason is that we have received the truth, the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is not to us a dead letter, something perhaps to be followed on the Sabbath day and forgotten on the six other days of the week...||...are, notwithstanding our weaknesses, the best people in the world. I do not say this boastingly, for I believe that this truth is evident to all who are willing to observe for themselves. We are morally clean, in every way equal, and in many ways superior to any other people...|
- See Quote mining—Doctrines of Salvation 1:236 to see how this quote was mined.
- This claim is repeated in One Nation Under Gods and is responded to here: Mormons believe they are morally, ethically, spiritually superior to others?
Question: Do Mormons actually believe that they are morally, ethically, spiritually superior to others?
Brigham Young praises the people not for being morally, ethically, or spiritually superior, but for being more obedient to the word of the Lord through prophets
The critical book One Nation under Gods claims that Latter-day Saints believe that they are "morally, ethically, and spiritually superior to non-Mormons." (page xxiv (hardback); page xviii (paperback)). The author cites Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 4:269. and Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols., (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954–56), 236. to support his claim.
Brigham Young praises the people not for being morally, ethically, or spiritually superior, but for being more obedient to the word of the Lord through prophets. Brigham Young's quote reads:
We are placed on this earth to prove whether we are worthy to go into the celestial world, the terrestrial, or the telestial, or to hell, or to any other kingdom or place, and we have enough of life given us to do this. And as I frequently say, and think more frequently, it is a disgrace for the Latter-day Saints to say, "Let us lay hold now, and have a reformation." We should never cease reforming and seeking to the Lord our God; and wherein we can better any trait in our lives, let us go to with our mights and reform ourselves, and not ask an Elder to come and preach reformation to us....
I remarked to brother Kimball last Sabbath, that this people are the best people that ever lived upon the earth; I am actually a good deal inclined to think so. Do not marvel at this remark. How long did it take Enoch to purify his people—to become holy and prepared for what we want this people to be prepared for in a very few years? It took him 365 years. How long has this people lived? It will be 27 years on the sixth of next month, since this Church was organized. What do you think about this people? I say that the virtuous acts of their lives beat the whole world. Were the children of Israel ever so obedient to Moses, as this people are to me? No, they never began to be; for obedience they could not favourably compare with this people. Moses led his people forty years in the wilderness in rebellion, fighting, stealing, whoring, and every manner of iniquity; and their evils where so great, that God cut every one of them off in the wilderness, except Caleb and Joshua. He did not suffer one of them to go into the land of Canaan, except the two I have named; they never revolted from Moses, but held up his hands all the time. They never turned away, not even when Aaron, his half-brother and right hand man, made the golden calf. When Aaron gathered up the earrings, and finger rings, and jewels, and made a calf, and led the children of Israel astray to worship an image, and say, "These be thy Gods, O Israel, which have brought thee up out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage," while Moses was in the mountain talking to the Lord, Caleb and Joshua did not turn away; and if they were in that company, their souls shuddered while the people were making that calf.
Brigham Young praises the people not for being morally, ethically, or spiritually superior, but for being more obedient to the word of the Lord through prophets
Were Enoch's men as obedient and advanced as far as this people in the same time? I think not. Let this people continue to make the improvement they have made, and it would not be 165 years before they could take this part of the country and go off, should it be necessary, until the earth is purified. Yet Enoch had to live and strive, and toil during 365 years, in order to bring his people under the principle of strict obedience. This contrast is encouraging to this people.
Now let me tell you that there are hundreds of men and women in this community that believe they ought to repent, but cannot find out for what, cannot tell wherein to do differently, from what they do, and do not know what to do. Do you do everything you know to be right and pleasing in the sight of God? Yes, say hundreds and thousands of the people. Do you do anything you know to be wrong? Hundreds may reply, "We do not know that we do, but we do not feel as though we enjoyed as much as we should." Hold on, do not get away from us. If you were now in the enjoyment of the things you have a presentiment of in your own feelings, that in the anxiety of your own hearts you are longing for, if you could get all that in your possession, you would not stay here; we should lose you, for you would be too pure to tarry in our society. Do not be in a hurry; let us stay together and fight the devil a little longer. Some of you think that by next fall you must obtain all that the Elders preach, if you do, you will go behind the vail, and we cannot have your society.
With many, a presentiment arises in their hearts like this, "We want something wonderful, or we must do something that we have not done. We must revolutionize our lives; we must reform," but they do not know wherein. Serve God according to the best knowledge you have, and lay down and sleep quietly; and when the devil comes along and says, "You are not a very good Saint, you might enjoy greater blessings and more of the power of God, and have the vision of your mind opened, if you would live up to your privileges," tell him to leave; that you have long ago forsaken his ranks and enlisted in the army of Jesus, who is your captain, and that you want no more of the devil.
Brigham goes on to give comfort and encouragement—the Saints have many weaknesses and difficulties. Despite this, Brigham encourages steady, consistent Christian discipleship. He reassures the Saints that they are "in the army of Jesus," and by "serv[ing] God according to the best knowledge [they] have," they need not worry about their ultimate fate.
These are not words directed to those smug in self-satisfied assurance of their moral or spiritual superiority but to people who know their weaknesses but strive through Christ to serve God.
Joseph Fielding Smith does not praise the Saints because they are "ethically, morally, or spiritually superior," but because they have received the gospel of Jesus Christ, and followed it faithfully
We are, notwithstanding our weaknesses, the best people in the world. I do not say that boastingly, for I believe that this truth is evident to all who are willing to observe for themselves. We are morally clean, in every way equal, and in many ways superior to any other people. The reason is that we have received the truth, the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is not to us a dead letter, something perhaps to be followed on the Sabbath day and forgotten on the six other days of the week, but our religion is an everyday religion. We are expected to live in accordance with the principles of truth every day of our lives, for these principles are just as true in the middle of the week as they are on the Sabbath day (citing Conf. Rep., Apr., 1951, pp. 152-153; DC 6:6; DC 11:6; DC 12:6; DC 14:6.)
Note that Joseph Fielding Smith does not praise the Saints because they are "ethically, morally, or spiritually superior," but because they have received the gospel of Jesus Christ, and followed it faithfully—obedience is. The gospel transforms weak people into better people.
Elder Smith continues:
CONDEMNATION FOR SLOTHFUL SAINTS. The man who has received the truth and yet will not walk in it deserves the greater condemnation. A member of this Church who will indulge in the use of tobacco, who will violate the Word of Wisdom, who refuses to pay his tithing, to keep the Sabbath day, or who in any other way will not hearken to the word of the Lord, is not loyal to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints....These shall receive the greater condemnation. (p. 237)
Once again, a decision to accept the gospel and its precepts or not is the deciding factor, not moral, ethical, or spiritual superiority.
Response to claim: 27 - Brigham Young claimed that every person that does not confess that Joseph Smith was a prophet is "anti-Christ"
Brigham Young claimed that every person that does not confess that Joseph Smith was a prophet is "anti-Christ."
This is correct.
Here is what Brigham said. Notice that his focus is on believing in Jesus "as Joseph did":
'Are the keys of the kingdom taken from Joseph? Oh no; well then he still lives. He that believes in Jesus as Joseph did, they will never die. They may lay down their lives, but they still hold the keys. You are not going to be led without revelation. The Prophet has stepped behind the veil and you have the right to obtain revelations for your own salvation. Who stood next to the Prophet when he was here. You have all acknowledged that the Twelve were the Presidents of the whole church when Joseph was not; and now he has stepped behind the veil, he is not here, and the Twelve are the Presidents of the whole church. When did Joseph become a Prophet? I can tell you, when he became an Apostle. 1Years and years before he had the right of holding the keys of the Aaronic priesthood, he was a Prophet, even before he was baptized. There has been a perfect flood of revelation poured from this stand all the time and you did not know it. Every spirit that confesses that Joseph Smith is a Prophet, that he lived and died a Prophet and that the Book of Mormon is true, is of God, and every spirit that does not is of anti-Christ.
Question: Do Mormons believe that Joseph Smith must approve whether or not they get into heaven?
The Book of Mormon confirms that no mortal's role in the judgment supersedes the role given to Jesus Christ
Critics charge that Joseph claimed, or it was claimed in his behalf, the right to "approve whether or not someone gets into heaven," and that this gives to a mortal a right properly reserved for God and Jesus Christ. Some critics have even charged that "Mormons worship Joseph Smith."
No mortal's role in the judgment supersedes the role given to Jesus, as the Book of Mormon bears witness:
...the keeper of the gate is the Holy One of Israel; and he employeth no servant there; and there is none other way save it be by the gate; for he cannot be deceived, for the Lord God is his name.(2 Nephi 9:41.)
Joseph's participation in the judgment is no more or less than the role assigned to the Lord's apostles at the Last Supper
Joseph's participation in the judgment (at the command and sufferance of Jesus) is no more or less than the role assigned to the Lord's apostles at the Last Supper. Those who condemn Joseph on these grounds must also condemn Peter and the rest of the Twelve.
Members of the Church reserve their worship for God the Father, in the name of Jesus Christ, by the power of the Holy Ghost. They do not worship Joseph Smith or any other mortal, save Jesus only. Joseph Smith's position in LDS thought is analogous to the role which Peter or Paul plays in traditional creedal Christianity.
Question: What is the origin of the criticism of the idea that Joseph Smith will participate in the final judgement?
The criticism originates with statements made by Brigham Young and Orson Hyde that are recorded in the Journal of Discourses
The criticism originates with statements made by Brigham Young and Orson Hyde that are recorded in the Journal of Discourses. Statements made by these early church leaders are removed from their context in order to make it appear that a belief in Joseph Smith rather than Jesus Christ is the key to salvation.
When read in context, Brigham Young's statement and intent become clear:
Joseph Smith holds the keys of this last dispensation, and is now engaged behind the vail in the great work of the last days...no man or woman in this dispensation will ever enter into the celestial kingdom of God without the consent of Joseph Smith.... I will now tell you something that ought to comfort every man and woman on the face of the earth. Joseph Smith, junior, will again be on this earth dictating plans and calling forth his brethren to be baptized for the very characters who wish this was not so, in order to bring them into a kingdom to enjoy...he will never cease his operations, under the directions of the Son of God, until the last ones of the children of men are saved that can be, from Adam till now.... It is his mission to see that all the children of men in this last dispensation are saved, that can be, through the redemption.
Clearly, Joseph's role is to function under the "direction...of the Son of God," and the primary goal is the salvation of all who will accept any degree of Christ and Joseph's witness of Him.
Similarly, critics extract the second sentence of the following quote from Brigham Young, while ignoring the sentence preceding it (emphasis added):
I have taught for thirty years, and still teach, that he that believeth in his heart and confesseth with his mouth that Jesus is the Christ and that Joseph Smith is his Prophet to this generation, is of God; and he that confesseth not that Jesus has come in the flesh and sent Joseph Smith with the fulness of the Gospel to this generation, is not of God, but is antichrist.
It is not a novel idea to have mortal prophets involved in the post-mortal judgment
At the Last Supper, Jesus himself taught that:
Ye [the apostles] are they which have continued with me in my temptations. And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; that ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. (Luke 22:28-30; see also Matthew 19:28.)
A similar promise to participate in the judgment of those among whom they were called to serve was given to the twelve Nephite Disciples (see 1 Nephi 12:9-10). This principle is also reiterated in modern revelation (see D&C 29:12).
Since the Latter-day Saints accept the witness that Joseph was called as an apostle and prophet (see D&C 21:1) with the same authority as that given to Peter, James, John, and others, they do not think it strange that he will likewise play a role in judgment. The witness of a prophet will always be brought against those who did not accept his witness of Christ (see Matthew 10:40; John 5:45-47).
Response to claim: 27 - Joseph Fielding Smith taught that there is no salvation without accepting Joseph Smith
Joseph Fielding Smith taught that there is no salvation without accepting Joseph Smith.
(Author's sources: Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols., (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954–56),189–190.)
The authors' version of the quote carefully omits the explanation that Joseph's role hinges on his being called of God and as a minister of Christ.
The quote and its use by the critic(s):
|List||Actual quote||Critical use|
|NO SALVATION WITHOUT ACCEPTING JOSEPH SMITH. If Joseph Smith was verily a prophet, and if he told the truth when he said that he stood in the presence of angels sent from the Lord, and obtained keys of authority, and the commandment to organize the Church of Jesus Christ once again on the earth, then this knowledge is of the most vital importance to the entire world. No man can reject that testimony without incurring the most dreadful consequences, for he cannot enter the kingdom of God||no salvation without accepting Joseph Smith. If Joseph Smith was verily a prophet, and if he told the truth.... No man can reject that testimony without incurring the most dreadful consequences, for he cannot enter the kingdom of God|
- See Quote mining—Doctrines of Salvation 1:189-90 to see how this quote was mined.
- Rex C. Reeve, Jr., and Richard O. Cowan, "The Hill Called Cumorah," in Larry C. Porter, Milton V. Backman, Jr., and Susan Easton Black, eds., Regional Studies in Latter-day Saint History: New York and Pennsylvania (Provo: BYU Department of Church History and Doctrine, 1992), 73–74.
- Dean C. Jessee, The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, [original edition] (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book, 1984). ISBN 0877479747. GL direct link
- Oliver Cowdery to W. W. Phelps, "Letter VII," (July 1835) Latter Day Saints' Messenger and Advocate 1:155-159. off-site
- Interview with David Whitmer [conducted 7–8 September 1878 in Richmond, Missouri], "Report of Elders Orson Pratt and Joseph F. Smith," Millennial Star 40 (9 December 1878), 771–774.
- Martin H. Raish, "Encounters with Cumorah: A Selective, Personal Bibliography," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 13/1 (2004): 38–49. off-site wiki
- Jesse A. Washburn and Jesse N. Washburn, From Babel to Cumorah (Provo, UT: New Era Publishing, 1937).
- Thomas S. Ferguson, Cumorah—Where? (Independence, MO: Press of Zion's Print. & Publishing Company, 1947).
- Sidney B. Sperry, Handout, Religion 622 (31 March 1964); published in Sidney B. Sperry, "Were There Two Cumorahs?," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 4/1 (1995): 260–268. off-site wiki
- Sidney B. Sperry, The Book of Mormon Testifies (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1952), 335–336. Sperry would later write: "In this volume I have reversed my views, held many years ago, that the Hill Cumorah, around which the last great battles of the Nephites and Jaredites took place, was in the State of New York. The book of Mormon data are very clear and show quite conclusively that the Hill (Ramah to the Jaredites) was in the land of Desolation, somewhere in Middle America. I have summed up my arguments and conclusions in connection with the discussion of Mormon, Chapter 6. My conclusions have been tested in a number of classes of graduate students who were challenged to demonstrate their falsity. Up to the present time, no one has done so. The Hill Cumorah in New York, from which the Prophet Joseph Smith obtained the Nephite plates, may have been so named by Moroni in commemoration of the Cumorah in the land of Desolation, around which his father and fellow Nephites lost their lives in their last struggles with the Lamanites." - Sidney B. Sperry, Book of Mormon Compendium (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1968), 6–7.
- See, for example, John E. Clark, "Archaeology and Cumorah Questions," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 13/1 (2004): 144–151. off-site wiki; John L. Sorenson, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City, Utah : Deseret Book Co. ; Provo, Utah : Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1996 ),14–16.
- Dallin H. Oaks, "Historicity of the Book of Mormon," Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies Annual Dinner Provo, Utah, 29 October 1993; cited in Dallin H. Oaks, "The Historicity of the Book of Mormon," (Provo, Utah: FARMS, 1994), 2-3. Reproduced in Dallin H. Oaks, "The Historicity of the Book of Mormon," in Historicity and the Latter-day Saint Scriptures, ed. Paul Y. Hoskisson (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2001), 237–48.
- David A. Palmer, In Search of Cumorah: New Evidences for the Book of Mormon from Ancient Mexico (Bountiful: Horizon, 1981), 28–72.
- See Andrew H. Hedges, Cumorah and the Limited Mesoamerican Theory off-site and see also Edwin Goble, Resurrecting Cumorah, Second Revised Edition, May 2011.
- Brigham Young, "TRYING TO BE SAINTS, etc.," (June 17, 1877) Journal of Discourses 19:38.
- Cameron J. Packer, "Cumorah's Cave," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 13/1 (2004): 50–57. off-site wiki
- John A. Tvedtnes, "Review of Little Known Evidences of the Book of Mormon by Brenton G. Yorgason," FARMS Review of Books 2/1 (1990): 258–259. off-site
- Brant A. Gardner, Joseph the Seer—or Why Did He Translate With a Rock in His Hat?, 2009 FAIR Conference presentation. Gardner references  D. Michael Quinn, Early Mormonism and the Magic World View (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1987), 38. and  Richard L. Bushman, Joseph Smith and the Beginnings of Mormonism (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1984), 70.
- Mark Ashurst-McGee, "A Pathway to Prophethood: Joseph Smith Junior as Rodsman, Village Seer, and Judeo-Christian Prophet," (Master's Thesis, University of Utah, Logan, Utah, 2000), 200–215.
- Eber Dudley Howe, Mormonism Unvailed (Painesville, Ohio: Telegraph Press, 1834), 241-242; cited in Richard Van Wagoner and Steven Walker, "Joseph Smith: 'The Gift of Seeing," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 15 no. 2 (Summer 1982), 48–68.
- "Approaching Mormon Doctrine," from Newsroom: The Official Resource for News Media, Opinion Leaders, and the Public (4 May 2007) at lds.org. off site
- See also 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), 3:35. Volume 3 link
- See A+of+F 1:10.
- John Taylor, The Mediation and Atonement (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret News Co., 1882), 69.
- Van Hale, "Mormons And Moonmen," Sunstone 7 no. (Issue #5) (September/October 1982), 13–14. off-site
- 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
- Brigham Young, "The Gospel—The One-Man Power," (24 July 1870) Journal of Discourses 13:271-271.
- Patriarchal Blessings Books 9:294–295.
- Young Woman's Journal (1892) 3: 263.
- 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
- Van Hale, "Mormons And Moonmen," 15.
- Holmes, 464.
- Moore, New Guide to the Moon 130–131; cited by Van Hale, "Mormons And Moonmen," 16.
- Painesville Telegraph (11 September 1835).
- New York Sun 16 September 1835; cited by Alex Boese, "The Great Moon Hoax," museumofhoaxes.com off-site
- Richard Holmes, The Age of Wonder (London: Harper Press, 2008), 199.
- Holmes, 465, (italics in original).
- Deseret News 6 (1856): 134d.
- ‘Quebec,’ “The Moon”, Contributor 1/9 (June 1880): 193-5, from page 195
- George Q. Cannon, "PREDICTIONS IN THE BOOK OF MORMON, etc.," (April 6, 1884) Journal of Discourses 25:128.
- Heber C. Kimball, "OBSERVANCE OF THE COMMANDMENTS OF GOD," (January 6, 1861) Journal of Discourses 9:131.
- Orson Pratt, The Seer (Washington D.C., April 1854).
- Deseret News (12 August 1865): 373.
- Dennis B. Horne, Bruce R. McConkie: Highlights From His Life & Teachings (Eborn Books, 2000), .
- Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine [1st edition] (Salt Lake City, UT: Bookcraft, 1958).
- Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2nd edition, (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966), 760. GL direct link
- 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), 7:287. Volume 7 link
- Brigham Young, "Intelligence, etc.," (9 October 1859) Journal of Discourses 7:289-289.
- Brigham Young, "The Kingdom of God," (13 July 1862) Journal of Discourses 9:312.